Lightsabers at the ready for Donegal’s Star Wars festivities this May

first_imgDonegal’s Inishowen peninsula was part of Fáilte Ireland programme of events unveiling for this year’s ‘May the 4th Be With You’ festival on the Wild Atlantic Way. Celebrating May the 4th, the day when fans across the globe commemorate the Star Wars Universe, the festival includes a Star Wars themed 3km Fun Run, Yoda Yoga on the beach and outdoor drive-in movie screenings, all set against the breath-taking backdrop of the northern headlands.Speaking about the announcement of the programme, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross said: “The ‘May the 4th Be With You’ festival was designed to attract visitors to explore the Wild Atlantic Way, not only over the May the 4th weekend but throughout the year and the addition of Donegal as a location for this year’s festival will certainly highlight all that the North West region has to offer visitors.” Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin said: “I’m delighted to see an amazing programme of activity in Donegal for this year’s ‘May the 4th Be With You’ festival.“Following the success of the inaugural ‘May the 4th Be With You’ festival in Kerry in May 2018, Fáilte Ireland has worked with local communities across the Inishowen Peninsula to extend the festival to Donegal this year.“As fans across the world celebrate May the 4th, the festival is a brilliant opportunity to promote Donegal and the Wild Atlantic Way to a global audience.”Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh said: “The decision by the makers of Star Wars to choose Donegal, and Malin Head in particular, was inspired. “The image that the film created was second to none and now the Government is in a position to throw its weight behind a brilliant festival which will be coming to Donegal for the first time.“This is a great opportunity for fans to be on the site of some of the most stunning scenes in the movie and to sample the best of what the Wild Atlantic Way has to offer.”Speaking about the festival programme, Fáilte Ireland’s Head of Festivals and Events, Ciara Sugrue said: “We’re delighted to bring the ‘May the 4th Be With You’ festival to Donegal this year and we have a fantastic line up of events which not only celebrate the Star Wars Universe but the history and natural landscape of the Wild Atlantic Way.“From boat tours exploring the coast to star gazing at the Planetarium and I’d like to thank the local tourism industry in Donegal who have worked very hard to build this year’s festival.”Heidi Doherty, Programme Manager at Inishowen Tourist Office, added: “The ‘May the 4th Be With You’ festival is a wonderful way to celebrate the Star Wars filming location at Malin Head and it promises to be an action-packed weekend. “Today we not only announced the programme of activity, we officially cut the ribbon on the newly renamed “R2D2”, formerly the R242.“We are delighted to be the other bookend film location to celebrate the May the 4th Be with You Festival with County Kerry – it’s an exciting time for tourism in Inishowen and we welcome this opportunity to work in collaboration with the Fáilte Ireland.”Filming for recent Star Wars films took place in locations across Kerry, Cork, Clare and Donegal.Following the success of Fáilte Ireland’s first ‘May the 4th Be With You’ festival in Kerry in May 2018, the festival will also take place in Malin Head, Donegal this year. Photos: Clive WassonLightsabers at the ready for Donegal’s Star Wars festivities this May was last modified: April 15th, 2019 by Staff WriterShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:Malin HeadStar Wars‘May The 4th Be With You’ festivallast_img read more

‘I don’t give a monkey’s’ – Harry hits back at West Ham fans

first_imgQPR manager Harry Redknapp shrugged off the frosty reception he was given from some of the home fans on his return to Upton Park.The former West Ham player and manager was barracked during a 1-1 draw that extended bottom-of-the-table Rangers’ unbeaten run to five matches.Redknapp said: “I don’t give a monkey’s. Am I going home worrying about what people think of me here? I couldn’t give two monkeys’. It’s the least of my problems at the moment.”The Hammers secured a deserved point with Joe Cole’s second-half equaliser after Loic Remy had scored on his debut to put Rangers ahead.Redknapp admitted: “It was difficult for us and I couldn’t sit here and say we deserved to win. A point here is a good result.”More reaction to follow later.See also:Frustrated Allardyce bemoans West Ham’s ‘Achilles heel’Redknapp ’embarrassed’ by West Ham linkRedknapp laughs off West Ham rumoursRemy scores but Cole denies 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 Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebooklast_img read more

Nose Knows More than Math Pros Suppose

first_imgThe aroma of coffee, of a steak, of cherries – these smells are all composed of dozens if not hundreds of separate molecules, yet our brains immediately recognize them each as a coherent whole.  How does the nose and the brain process all this information?  This is the subject of an article in the Caltech magazine Engineering and Science1 by Gilles Laurent, Caltech professor and neurologist, who studies olfaction and also “how single neurons perform nonlinear operations such as multiplication.”    Unlike vision and hearing, our olfactory sense does not allow us to decompose a composite input into its constituents.  We perceive odors as single entities.  Studies on insects by Laurent and his students show that this is because individual receptors fire in patterns that are mapped like a code to a large number of unique sensors called Kenyon cells.  In insects, these cells reside in a part of the olfactory apparatus called the mushroom body (in vertebrates, it’s the olfactory cortex of the brain).  Each Kenyon cell gets a very unique set of inputs from the receptors, and thus a distinct, composite signal from a highly diverse set of inputs.  Laurent does the math to show the staggering number of possibilities for odor memory that this system permits:The locust has 800 projection neurons connecting to 50,000 Kenyon cells.  With such a large mismatch in numbers, how are these nerve-cell populations interconnected?  When Ron Jortner, a graduate student in my lab, recorded simultaneously from both projection neurons and individual Kenyon cells to assess the probability of connection between them he found, surprisingly, that the probability was about 0.5.  In other words, each Kenyon cell seems to connect on average to half of the input population, that is, to 400 projection neurons.  The number of ways in which 400 neurons can be selected out of 800—the number of possible connection patterns—is about 10240.  It’s an enormous number.  To put it in context, there are about 1010 seconds in a century, and there have been about 1019 seconds since the beginning of the universe.  With 10240 possible combinations of projection neurons to choose from—assuming random connectivity—almost every Kenyon cell is likely to sample a combination of inputs that is very different from that sampled by the other Kenyon cells.  Each cell will therefore gain a picture of the state of the projection neuron population very different from that gathered by any other Kenyon cell.  It follows that the responses of individual Kenyon cells will be very specific; a given cell should respond only to particular combinations of activated projection neurons, maximally different on average from those experienced by the other Kenyon cells.   (Emphasis added in all quotes.)Laurent noted at the beginning of the article that olfaction is a form of pattern recognition, and that “Brains solve pattern-recognition problems much better than any machine built today.”  His lab tries to figure out “how brains solve these problems.”  Most of the research by Laurent and his students is on insects, whose olfactory receptors are on their antennae.  A fruit fly has 1300 receptor neurons, with 60 different receptor types, but some moths might have several hundred thousand receptor neurons.  This gives them an amazing sensitivity to low concentrations of odors like pheromones.    A diagram and electron micrograph on p. 44 shows what receptor neurons look like.  They have dozens of cilia projecting into the nasal cavity.  The reason dogs have superior sensitivity to smells, he explains, is that their nasal cavity contains much more surface area where the receptors project from sponge-like tissue called turbinate bone.  Dogs have ten times as much turbinate bone as humans.  He provides a fragrant illustration: “In a medium-size dog,” he says, “the turbinates have a total surface area the size of a large pizza.  In humans, they’re the size of a large cookie.”  Each receptor neuron has a single sensitivity dictated by the order of the amino acids in its multi-folded receptor proteins.  The amino acid sequences of receptor proteins show areas of both high conservation and high variability between species.  They loop seven times through the cell membrane, providing pockets where the odor molecules bind.    Laurent describes something striking about how the receptor neurons map their inputs to ball-shaped structures called glomeruli (singular, glomerulus).  “In an amazing feat of organization during development,” a picture caption states, “each type of receptor neuron… sends its axon to the same glomerulus….”  He calls it a “surprise” that all the axons of the same receptor type (colored red in the diagram) converge so neatly to their exact counterparts.  “By implication,” he continues, “this means there are about as many glomeruli as there are receptor types.  And with the exception of the roundworm, this extraordinary organization is found in almost all the animal species that have so far been looked at.”    From the glomeruli, the information is passed on to a smaller group of nerve cells called projection neurons, which have no axons but connect with a dozen or more glomeruli.  “With 100,000 receptor neurons converging on just 800 projection neurons, what is being computed?” he asks.  Experiments show that the precise timing of firing creates a kind of code from the multiple inputs, a pulse pattern that can be mapped and analyzed.  He likens the result to the unique arrangement that billiard balls take after the player breaks them with the cue ball; two very similar initial setups, but with slightly different angles of attack, can produce initially similar but ultimately divergent patterns of balls on the table.  (The billiard game in the nose is super-fast.  He notes on p. 48, “This happens so quickly that the representations are optimally separated within 100 to 300 milliseconds.”)  As a result, differences between very similar smells can be amplified by the system.  “That’s basically what we think is taking place in the olfactory circuit,” he says.  “The remarkable thing is that this near-chaotic process is very sensitive to the input, but very reliable nevertheless.”    To recap, the receptor proteins in the cilia of the receptor neurons react to molecules in odors.  These neurons fire their axons to the glomeruli.  The glomeruli then pass their encoded information patterns to the projection neurons.  That noise-reduced information is passed in very unique ways to the tens of thousands of Kenyon cells, which have a near infinite way to respond to the myriad possible combinations of smells.  “Kenyon cells are so specific that they only recognize one, or at most a few, odors,” a caption explains on p. 51.  He summed it up earlier (p. 46): “In other words, each odor is defined by a certain combination of receptors; the code is combinatorial…. The perception of an odor must therefore result from the brain’s interpretation of combinatorial activity patterns.”  Why, though, do a large number of receptors map to few encoders, and then those few to a large number of interpreters?  There’s a reason for everything:It seems wasteful that hundreds of thousands of olfactory receptor neurons converge on their respective glomeruli in an amazingly precise way, but that this precision is then thrown away when seemingly disordered patterns of activation are generated in the projection neurons.  But there’s a good reason for it.  A system that amplifies small differences in signals runs the risk of also amplifying noise, in this case the noise coming from the receptors.  Noise fluctuations would make the output of the projection neurons unreliable: the averaging that results from this kind of convergent design is precisely one way to reduce such fluctuations.(p. 49; for more on the problem of noise reduction, see 12/20/2004 entry).  The sense of smell, obviously, is “quite complex.”  It involves many more receptor types than other senses, like vision, which uses only four types of photoreceptor.  How did the code in the nose, and all the apparatus in the circuitry, come about?  Early in the article he speculated briefly about this question, but his answer assumes a remarkable convergence rather than demonstrating the evolutionary steps:In parts of the looping receptor protein chain, the order in which the amino acids are strung together is so variable that some animals, such as the rat, have over 1,200 different receptor types.  On average, mammals have about 1,000 types, fish and birds between 100 and 200, round- worms (Caenorhabditis elegans) 1,000, and fruit flies 60.  Humans have only 600 different odorant receptor genes, but almost half of these are “pseudogenes” that no longer function, leaving us with only 350 receptor types in our nasal mucosa….    Interestingly, when the receptor genes of mammals, flies, and worms were compared, no sequence homology was found.  In other words, the genes had probably not evolved from a common ancestor: different types of animals had come up with their own particular (but related) designs for olfactory receptors independently throughout evolutionary history.  Such convergent evolution, as it’s called, happens a lot in biological systems.  The single-lens eye design, for example, has evolved independently at least eight times in the animal kingdom.How that happened is left as an exercise, but for Laurent, his job is in the here and now, studying the sensitive yet reliable olfactory computer: “Finding the rules of such nonlinear dynamical problems is one of our goals” (p. 49).  Concluding, he says, “Our research into olfaction is…giving some valuable insights into how such kinds of high-level synthetic representations arise from the organization and dynamics of neural circuits” (p. 51).  The nose shows that “Classifying and recognizing patterns is, after all, what our brains do best.”1Gilles Laurent, “Olfaction: A Window into the Brain,” Engineering and Science (LXVIII:1/2), [summer] 2005, pp. 43-51 (PDF).This article is a good companion to the next one (see 06/25/2005 entry).  The language is similar: circuitry, computation, communication, codes, signals, and information.  The lead-in photo shows a man with a very satisfied look savoring a cup of coffee, probably unaware that he is sensing a cocktail of two to three hundred compounds.  Did you have any idea how much computation and circuitry make that pleasant feeling possible?  We joke about our noses and don’t usually give them the same respect we pay the eye or ear, but each sense is more wonderful than we could possibly realize.    Werner Gitt, in his delightful book The Wonder of Man, elaborates on some wonders of our human sense of smell.  We have between 10 and 25 million receptor cells where the odor molecules fit with the proteins like a lock and key.  Each olfactory cell measures only 5 to 15 millionths of an inch.  Past these cells waft about 12 cubic meters of air per day, as we inhale and exhale 12,000 times.  Our olfactory sense is extremely sensitive, exceeding the capabilities of most technological measuring instruments.  We can detect one ten million millionth of a gram of mercaptan, for instance, and even distinguish between left- and right-handed forms of the same molecule.  Remarkable as that is, we all know how the animal kingdom relies even more heavily on the sense of smell, marking territory with scents, using scents for sexual attraction, and navigating by their noses.  A dog has 220 million receptor cells, tenfold more than we do; think of how dogs can be trained to sniff out bombs in luggage and people trapped under rubble or avalanches, or how bloodhounds can follow the footsteps of a crook all the way from the crime scene to his shoes.  Maybe it’s good we humans don’t have that TMI problem, but our olfactory sensitivity is nothing to sneeze at.  Smells enhance the taste and flavor of our food, color our world, and influence the way we think and act in many subtle ways.  They warn us of danger, or attract us to pleasurable sensations.  “Our memory for odours is astounding,” Gitt says; “nothing can stir up old memories better than a certain scent.”  The fresh air in a pine forest, the sunshine after the rain, the fragrance of a rose, the symphony of smells at a table of great food – how impoverished life would be without a sense of smell.  Thank God for your nose.    Laurent’s brief side trip into Fantasyland with Tinker Bell (see 03/11/2005 commentary) provided some comic relief for this intense and thought-provoking look at a system of mind-boggling complexity.  Did you enjoy the Fairy Godmother’s song, the Ballad of Convergent Evolution?Impossible!  for a random mutation to become a neural circuit;Impossible!  for an unguided process to produce a code so perfect.And four DNA bases will never produce Code Morses,Such fol-de-rol and fiddle-dee-dee of course is:Impossible!But the world is full of zanies and foolswho don’t believe in sensible rulesand won’t believe what sensible people say…and because these daft and dewey eyed dopeskeep building up impossible hopesimpossible things are happening every day!Nothing like a magic wand named Natural Selection to do impossible things.  Just wish… and believe.  While the Darwinists are wishing upon a star in Fantasyland, design scientists are turning Frontierland into Tomorrowland.(Visited 15 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

TV serials should get political content vetted first: EC official

first_imgElection officials in Maharashtra have asked production houses of two Hindi TV serials accused of espousing the BJP-led government’s schemes to get ‘politically influential’ content vetted with them before it is telecast. The content telecast was a clear violation of the model election code, an official said. Maharashtra’s additional chief electoral officer Dilip Shinde, in an order issued on Monday said, “The production houses should get politically influential content checked from election officials before using it in their serials.” The Congress had taken objection to characters in the two TV serials praising government schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, Swacch Bharat Abhiyan and Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana. The two production houses had subsequently replied to the notice.“Going by the content aired, it is evident that it is a violation of model code of conduct, he said. “We have asked the production houses to remove the content from the serials immediately,” he added. Mr. Shinde said the explanation from producers of the two serials affirms the poll officials’ opinion that the content aired intends to influence “one political party“.Election officials in Maharashtra directed producers of television serials Bhabhiji Ghar Par Hai and Tujhse Hai Raabta to remove content that was deemed to benefit prospects of a political party. Last week, office of chief Electoral Officer (CEO) had served notices to Binaifer Kohli and Sanjay Kohlis Edit II Productions (Bhabhiji Ghar Par Hai) and Sonali Potnis and Aamir Jaffers Full Media House (Tujhse Hai Raabta) after it received a complaint from the Congress, accusing the two shows of espousing the benefits of schemes run by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government.The producers had denied the allegations of promoting government schemes to propagate a political party, claiming they had no such intention. They also claimed that government schemes shown were general in nature,” the official said. The producers have also been asked to not to show any such content which may disturb the level playing field of any political party, the official said.last_img read more

SEA Games basketball to be held at MOA Arena, after all

first_imgMiguel Romero Polo: Bamboo technology like no other Colombia protesters vow new strike after talks hit snag Trump tells impeachment jokes at annual turkey pardon event “As requested by POC president and PBA chair Ricky Vargas, to the SBP which we agreed, we want to bring nothing less but the best PBA talent that we can assemble. We want to win the gold medal in baseball and the SBP is fully committed to make this a reality,’ said Panlilio.The Philippines has won 17 of the 19 previous stagings and has held the championship for the past 12 SEA Games.It would be the first time SEAG basketball is held here since 1991 Manila edition. The country was under sanction by the Fiba (international basketball federation) when the Philippines also hosted in 2005.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next This was confirmed by Philippine SEA Games Organizing Committee chief operating officer Ramon “Tats” Suzara who had a meeting with Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas officials.Suzara, Philippine Olympic Committee president Ricky Vargas and SBP president Al Panlilio issued a statement Wednesday.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption chargesSPORTSSingapore latest to raise issue on SEA Games food, logistics“We heard the voices of our people. We were also made aware that some sectors have started to put the blame on certain agencies without really understanding the complexities of the situation,” said the statement.“Holding an event in this magnitude is a shared responsibility among different sports elders and even our people,” added the statement. “This event is a showcase of our capacity to hold massive regional sporting events.” PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games03:07PH billiards team upbeat about gold medal chances in SEA Games00:50Trending Articles01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. SEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte Google Philippines names new country director LATEST STORIEScenter_img Bloomberg: US would benefit from more, not fewer, immigrants Wintry storm delivers US travel woes before Thanksgiving Warriors overcome Timberwolves to regain no. 1 spot in West Suzara said they MOA Arena has finally accommodated the basketball meet which is considered the main attraction in the biennial meet, besting the traditional centerpiece events of track and field and swimming.Basketball events will be held Dec. 4-10, although practice for men’s and women’s is set for Dec. 1-3.The MOA Arena staged the Fiba Asia Championships in 2013 and the Olympic Qualifying Tournaments in 2016.But it was reported last week that it couldn’t hold the basketball games due to several events that were booked already.Instead, the smaller FilOil Flying V Center was tapped, triggering reaction from the basketball-crazy nation.ADVERTISEMENT The highly anticipated basketball events in the Southeast Asian Games will be held at SM Mall of Asia Arena, the modern, 15,000-seater venue that was earlier said to be unavailable for the meet.ADVERTISEMENT Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting View comments MOST READlast_img read more

New Breakbulk Service between Ghent and Guinea Launched

first_imgzoom The French African Maritime Agencies Guinea and logistics provider Lalemant have decided to set up a new regular service for breakbulk cargo and containers between the Belgian port of Ghent and the African country of Guinea. The new breakbulk line, Kamsar Express, offers a direct connection between the ports of Ghent and Port Kamsar every four to five weeks. “Conventional goods, project cargo and containers are the most important goods that the specialized multifunctional vessels will transport. The ships are fitted with their own cranes having a lifting capacity of 60 to 160 tonnes,” the port of Ghent said.Quay at Stukwerkers in the Ghent Grootdok will be the main loading point but it will also be possible to call at other ports upon request, according to the port of Ghent.Kamsar Express is the second regular line between the port of Ghent and Guinea.“This second regular line is open to everyone and an addition to the already existing regular line for specific customers,” the port of Ghent added.last_img read more

After takeover Aecon could still bid on infrastructure projects docs suggest

first_imgOTTAWA – The Aecon construction firm will likely be allowed to bid on government-funded infrastructure projects even if Ottawa approves a Chinese state-owned company’s controversial proposal to take it over, an internal federal document says.Last October, the CCCC International Holding Ltd., of China made a $1.5-billion bid to acquire Aecon Group Inc., which has a long history of participation in Canadian construction and engineering projects such as the CN Tower, Vancouver’s SkyTrain, the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Halifax shipyard.The Trudeau government has been warned by experts to proceed cautiously when weighing any investment bids by Chinese state firms and to be as transparent as possible in reviewing the proposed deal. The Liberals have also come under intense domestic pressure to reject the takeover bid.The federal government announced a full national security review of the Aecon deal in February. At the time, a spokesman for Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains said that, based on advice from security agencies, the government believed there is “a potential of injury to national security.”If the deal moves forward, however, the government is unlikely to restrict Aecon’s eligibility to bid on projects funded under Ottawa’s infrastructure plan, according to an internal government document obtained recently by The Canadian Press.The federal government has budgeted $180 billion in total infrastructure spending over 10 years.“It is not anticipated that the change of ownership of Aecon will affect its ability to bid on Canadian infrastructure projects,” reads the document, which was prepared last fall by Infrastructure Canada.“At this time, there is not enough information available on the transaction or the current and potential role of Aecon in federally funded infrastructure projects under the plan to accurately assess the impact of this transaction on the delivery of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure plan.”The memo was obtained under the Access to Information Act.Lu Shaye, China’s ambassador to Canada, said Tuesday that there should be no concerns about the proposed acquisition of Aecon because the Chinese side is only focused on business and market interests.“My first impression, to tell you the truth, (is) that I think the Canadian media or the Canadian public is too sensitive about the Aecon case because Aecon is just a construction company,” Lu said in response to a question about the takeover bid during a news conference at the Chinese embassy in Ottawa.“From your side, you have your rules and regulations on the foreign companies overtaking Canadian companies. I think for the national security issue it is your internal affairs. The Chinese side does not want to interfere (with) it.”Lu, who spoke through an interpreter, added that China just wants to ensure Canada has the same standards for Chinese companies as it does for foreign companies from other countries proposing to take over Canadian firms.The Infrastructure Canada briefing document said all foreign investment transactions undergo a process to determine their net economic benefit for Canada. They are also subject to a national security review led by the country’s security agencies, the note said.The CCCC International Holding Ltd. (CCCI) is a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company Ltd. (CCCC) and, the briefing adds, is one of the world’s largest engineering and construction firms.It continues: CCCC generated revenue of US$62 billion in 2016 and its core business activities include the construction of ports, roads, terminals, bridges, rail and tunnels; Aecon, meanwhile, generated revenue of $3.2 billion in 2016.The government document noted some possible economic positives for Aecon if CCCI is permitted to take it over.“At this time, there is not enough information available to determine whether the acquisition will benefit the infrastructure sector in Canada,” the document said.“However, the firms in Australia and Texas which were bought in 2015 and 2010 by CCCI have grown since their purchase and expanded operations internationally.”If the takeover is accepted, Aecon would maintain its headquarters in Canada and keep its Canadian management team.Late last month, Aecon’s self-imposed deadline to complete its sale to CCCI was extended to July 13 from March 30, given the federal government’s ongoing national security review.That review was expected to wrap up by the end of March, but Bains has said the government plans to take the time it needs to do its due diligence.last_img read more

Pak Hindu minor girls approach court seek protection suspect who facilitated wedding

first_imgLahore: A man has been arrested in Pakistan for allegedly assisting in solemnising the wedding of two Hindu minor girls, who were reportedly abducted and forcefully converted to Islam, as the teenagers approached a court in the country’s Punjab province seeking protection. The two girls, Raveena (13) and Reena (15), were allegedly kidnapped by a group of “influential” men from their home in Ghotki district in Sindh on the eve of Holi. Soon after the kidnapping, a video went viral in which a cleric was purportedly shown soleminising the Nikah (marriage) of the two girls, triggering a nationwide outrage. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has ordered a probe into the issue. According to Geo TV, the teenagers approached a court in Bahawalpur in Pakistan’s Punjab province seeking protection. “Police have arrested a man from Khanpur who is suspected to have assisted in the nikah (marital contract) of the girls,” it said. However, it is not confirmed whether the arrested man is the cleric who performed their marriage. Earlier, there were reports that the cleric who performed the minor girls’ marriage was arrested from Khanpur in Sindh. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, a prominent Hindu lawmaker from the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party, said he would present a resolution in the National Assembly in its next session demanding an end to forced conversions. The draft resolution demands that the most unfortunate incidents of kidnappings and forced conversions must be condemned unanimously by all honourable members of Parliament. “The bill against forced conversions which was unanimously passed by Sindh Assembly in 2016 and then reverted due to pressure of extremist elements, must be resurrected and passed in the Assembly on priority basis, ” says the draft resolution. The resolution would seek strict action against controversial religious elements for supporting such inhuman practice. A war of words broke out between India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry over the reported abduction, forced conversion and underage marriages of the two Hindu teenagers. The spat started soon after Swaraj sought details from the Indian envoy in Pakistan into the reported abduction of two Hindu teenaged girls. Swaraj, while tagging a media report about the incident, tweeted that she has asked the Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan to send a report on the matter. Pakistan’s Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry responded to her tweet, saying it was his country’s “internal issue”. In a Twitter post in Urdu on Sunday, Chaudhry said the prime minister has asked the Sindh chief minister to look into reports that the girls in question have been taken to Rahim Yar Khan in Punjab. He said the prime minister has also ordered the Sindh and Punjab governments to devise a joint action plan in light of the incident, and to take concrete steps to prevent such incidents from happening again. The Hindu community in Pakistan has carried out massive demonstrations calling for strict action to be taken against those responsible, while reminding Prime Minister Khan of his promises to the minorities of the country. Last year, Khan during his election campaign had said his party’s agenda was to uplift the various religious groups across Pakistan and said they would take effective measures to prevent forced marriages of Hindu girls. Rights activist Jibran Nasir tweeted that the sisters were converted at the Dargah Barchundi Sharif and were taken to Rahim Yar Khan in Punjab following their marriages. Hindus form the biggest minority community in Pakistan. According to official estimates, 75 lakh Hindus live in Pakistan. Majority of Pakistan’s Hindu population is settled in Sindh province. According to media reports, approximately 25 forced marriages take place every month only in Umerkot district in Sindh province.last_img read more

Amid LS polls Foreign Secy to meet Hasina on May 6

first_imgNew Delhi: Amidst ongoing crucial fifth phase of Lok Sabha poll, Foreign Secretary Vijay K Gokhle would undertake a quiet visit to neighbouring Bangladesh on May 6 for an official visit.However, the official reason for this visit has not been explained by the External Affairs Ministry, but sources in the government indicated that at the time when the whole political class is busy in election campaigning, the secretary has chosen this time for reviewing the bilateral relationship with several countries and preparing a road map for taking it to the next higher level. Also Read – 2019 most peaceful festive season for J&K: Jitendra SinghEven a visit by the newly elected Prime Minister of the country to Dhaka is not ruled out. Foreign Secretary made his maiden Dhaka visit in April last. Though South Block officials are busy with upcoming G-20 Summit to be held from June 22 to 24 in Osaka, Japan, it would be the first official visit of the newly elected PM abroad to a multilateral forum. Foreign Secretary already made a visit to Beijing recently and prepared a groundwork for a sideline meeting with the PM and President Xi Jinping. Most of the countries’ head of the government and state would be travelling there. Meanwhile, a lot of curiosity has been generated for Foreign Secretary’s proposed visit to Dhaka for three days. During the course of election campaigning, top BJP leaders made Bangladesh a huge political issue which has already created ripple among the intelligentsia of Dhaka. Also Read – Personal life needs to be respected: Cong on reports of Rahul’s visit abroadHowever, the Hasina government is deliberately downplaying the high pitch campaign of BJP leaders against so-called Bangladeshi infiltration and the language used during the campaign hurting the sentiments of the people. Sources in the Bangladesh Ministry confirmed that this time they might seek some official clarifications on this issue. They say that India never raised these issues during the official level talks. Rather PM Modi always reiterated for maintaining a good relationship with a most trusted neighbour of India and boasts even in the international platform that India and Bangladesh relation is a model for relationship for all the neighbouring countries of all the countries. Foreign Secretary is not only meeting his counterpart Sahidul Haq, but he would also meet PM Sheikh Hasina during his visit. FS will also have a meeting with the Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momin. Notably, in the year 2020, Bangladesh will be celebrating the centenary year of Father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in a big way. The celebration began this year and former President Pranab Mukherjee was invited for the inaugural function.last_img read more

Commentary Urban Meyer rumors distracted Ohio State during Michigan game

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Urban Meyer isn’t an especially large man, but he casts an especially big shadow. So big, it almost overshadowed the Ohio State-Michigan game. Some say “The Game” is the most important part of the season every year. Toss the records out and forget about last week because it’s a one-game season. I could feel the hatred in Ann Arbor during OSU’s 40-34 loss to Michigan. I could feel the passion. But no matter what the outcome was, the biggest story in Columbus, Ohio, on Monday morning is going to be Meyer becoming OSU’s next football coach. In a way, “The Game” was trumped by Meyer’s impending arrival. Sure, it’s not official yet, but Meyer coming to OSU is the worst kept secret in college football. Even during Michigan week, it’s all anyone wanted to talk about. As much as coach Luke Fickell can talk about his program being in a “bubble” and ignoring the outside world, everyone was listening to the rumors — players and coaches included. I’m sure the university didn’t want the news to break until after the end of the regular season out of respect for Fickell and everyone else on this year’s team, but the fact that it did couldn’t have helped the Buckeyes. As a coach, how can you concentrate on the task at hand when, in all likelihood, you won’t have a job the following week? I’m sure they all wanted to beat Michigan and cared about the players enough to prepare to the best of their ability, but in the back of their minds, they have to be thinking about supporting their family. Any sane person would be at least considering future coaching options. As a player, how likely are you to listen to a coach that you only have to deal with for a couple more games — especially a coach that has already led you to five losses? The bottom line is, the Meyer rumors didn’t just excite the fans. They affected the internal program’s focus and at least partially distracted them from the Michigan game. The defense was porous, giving up a season-high 40 points and junior quarterback Denard Robinson had his way with the Silver Bullets, scoring a total of five touchdowns. Fickell did what he could, but what does it say about “the greatest rivalry in all of sports,” when the focus during game-week isn’t on the game? read more