Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia are most at risk from bat viruses jumping to humans and causing new diseases that could lead to deadly outbreaks, scientists warned Tuesday.Approximately 60 to 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases are so-called “zoonotic events” — where animal diseases jump into people — and bats in particular are known to carry many zoonotic viruses.The tiny animals are the suspected origin of rabies, Ebola, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and possibly MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), and could cause other as-yet-unknown epidemics in the future.Scientists at University College London (UCL), the Zoological Society of London and Edinburgh University looked to map out the highest-risk areas by using a variety of factors including large numbers of bat viruses found locally, increasing population pressure, and hunting bats for bushmeat.West Africa LeadsKate Jones, UCL’s chair of ecology and biodiversity, said her team first created risk maps for each variable and found, for example, that in mapping for potential human-bat contact, sub-Saharan Africa was a hotspot, while for diversity of bat viruses, South America was at most risk.“By combining the separate maps, we’ve created the first global picture of the overall risks of bat viruses infecting humans in different regions,” she said.The work was published in journal The American Naturalist.The research, using data published between 1900 and 2013, found that West Africa — the epicenter of the recent Ebola outbreak — is at highest risk for zoonotic bat viruses.The wider sub-Saharan Africa region, as well as South East Asia, was also found to be hotspots.Liam Brierley, a PhD student at Edinburgh University who worked with Jones, said the risk of bat-to-human virus transmission is being driven higher by large and increasing populations of people and livestock expanding into wild areas such as forests.“People in these areas may also hunt bats for bush meat, unaware of the risks of transmissible diseases which can occur through touching body fluids and raw meat of bats,” he said.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Javed AkhtarNoted lyricist and Rajya Sabha member Javed Akhtar on Tuesday joined the list of MPs attacking cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar and Bollywood diva Rekha for remaining absent from the House, saying it is unjustifiable.”There is no way we can justify MPs’ absence from the Rajya Sabha, especially Sachin’s. His presence counts because he is a sports legend. His words carry weight and he can have a large impact on the people,” Akhtar said.He was talking to reporters in New Delhi at the launch of a song he has penned for promoting child immunisation.Since their nomination two years ago, Sachin has attended the Rajya Sabha only three days and Rekha seven days. Their absence has invited criticism from many leaders and fans alike.Akhtar’s remark came days after several members cutting across party line termed their long absence as “disrespect to House and nation”.Akhtar also feels that politicians and celebrities from the creative community should dedicate themselves to the social causes because they are public figures and own a responsibility to the country.”It would be a crime on my part if I do not contribute in a social cause. One will feel guilty if somebody in my position would not do his or her bit for the country. MPs should come forward and even the artistes should promote causes like child healthcare,” he said.
FILE – Houston Rockets’ James Harden, right, is defended by Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry (30) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)OAKLAND, Calif. — From coach Mike D’Antoni to his stars James Harden and Chris Paul and all the rest of the Rockets, another chance at the champion Golden State Warriors has been on their mind for months.Golden State and Houston will face off in the playoffs for the fourth time in five years — two of those previous matchups in the Western Conference finals won by the Warriors on the way to championships, in 2015 and last season.ADVERTISEMENT Kevin Durant has scored 30 or more points in four straight playoff games, going off for 45 in Game 5 against Los Angeles then 50 in Game 6.“Kevin Durant is Kevin Durant. He’s probably one of the best scorers that the NBA’s ever seen,” Harden said. “You can’t give a guy like that confidence.”Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Cayetano: Senate, Drilon to be blamed for SEA Games mess Next up is a potentially epic Western Conference semifinal between the two-time defending champs and their Texas nemesis.Bring on Harden and Paul once more. With these two leading the way, the Rockets are largely considered the ones with the best shot to derail Golden State’s road to a three-peat.Game 1 is Sunday at Oracle Arena.“They’re going to be around. You’re going to have to go through them some way, whether it’s in the second round, third round,” D’Antoni said.The Warriors have home-court advantage this time, while last year Houston grabbed the West’s No. 1 seed.ADVERTISEMENT Golden State rallied from a 3-2 deficit to beat the Rockets on the road in Game 7. The Warriors eliminated the Rockets in a five-game first-round series during their 2016 runner-up run, and in five games for the Western Conference crown in ’15 on the way to the franchise’s first championship in 40 years.“They’re a great team. They’ve got two Hall of Fame guards in the backcourt and everyone else has carved out a nice roll,” Thompson said. “We’ve had a ton of history with them the last five years in the playoffs and I know they’re just itching to get another shot at us, and when two teams meet like that when the stakes are that high it makes for the best basketball in the world.”Last year, the Rockets played the final two games without Paul after he injured his right hamstring in Game 5. It was a huge blow.Paul posted April 13 on his Twitter a video of his extensive rehab work and a message — “This is what we’ve been waiting for. #UnfinishedBusiness.”He wouldn’t call last year’s injury the lowest point in his career but among the most devastating moments for sure.“If that’s the lowest low for me then I’m living a good life,” Paul said. “It’s something that I don’t probably think about as much as others do. If you just sit around and think about that all day every day how do you ever get past it?”He added: “You just get back up on the horse and get back to business. We’re here now.”Here are some things to watch for in what should be a sensational series:BEING ON TOPThe Warriors are fully aware of how hard it is to win year after year when every team wants what you have. View comments LATEST STORIES Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines 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 Philippine Arena Interchange inaugurated “We haven’t come up on the winning side yet. It’s another opportunity for us to change that. We know how difficult it’s going to be,” Harden said Saturday. ”… I think everyone wants a shot at the Warriors.”Warriors Splash Brothers Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were listed as questionable for Sunday’s series opener after each sprained his right ankle Friday night against the Clippers.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, logisticsThompson might have spoken up about the Rockets rematch a little too soon. Top-seeded Golden State had yet to eliminate Los Angeles in the first round, then the Warriors failed to close it out at home in Game 5 before winning Game 6 on the road Friday.Yet Thompson knows this is what everybody wants to talk about — and how could you not? Mike D’Antoni: James Harden not only MVP, but most improved too DA eyes importing ‘galunggong’ anew The Rockets closed out the Jazz 100-93 in five games Wednesday night so they should be well-rested, while the Warriors had a short turnaround after needing an extra game in the first round.Kerr calls it “a big deal” to get even short breaks during the postseason grind.“Any chance you get during the playoffs for some rest you’ve got to try to get that, because it’s a long haul,” Kerr said. “If you go to the finals, it’s almost two months and I think the more we can have time in between for preparation and rest the better that serves us going forward. And there’s an accumulation, too, a physical one.”D’Antoni figured the Warriors would end their series sooner but isn’t ready to say it gives his team an edge.“I don’t know how they feel. They may feel great,” D’Antoni said.NO SURPRISESThe Warriors have been watching from afar and keeping tabs on Harden and his crew — you bet. Even if there aren’t many surprises “jumping off the TV,” Curry said of scouting.Houston gets that.“We shouldn’t be surprised about how good they are,” D’Antoni said.The Rockets know who they must stop. Duterte wants probe of SEA Games mess Panelo: Duterte ‘angry’ with SEA Games hosting hassles There have been plenty of embarrassing losses along the way this season, including two at home in the first round and one in which Golden State blew a 31-point lead.“You think about what these guys are doing night after night after night, taking everybody’s best shot, playing deep into June — it’s actually surprising that we haven’t had more of those nights over those years,” coach Steve Kerr said. “What you have seen the last couple of years, the last two seasons, is that we have had some letdowns and some nights like that. It’s hard for anybody to understand what these guys go through physically, emotionally and spiritually just trying to defend the crown, trying to win the title and stay on top of the mountain.”ROCKETS’ 3-POINTERSThe Rockets surely won’t forget how they finished last year’s series: 27 straight missed 3-pointers that did them in down the stretch in Game 7.Houston missed all 14 3-point attempts in the third quarter and went 1-for-21 from deep in the second half.“If you can’t score with these guys, you’ve got no chance,” Harden said.CURRY ON DCurry knows he must be disciplined on defense, and insists that often comes down to focus. When the Warriors get stops it allows them to push the pace in transition and have a chance to pile up points in a hurry.“I have confidence in my hand-eye coordination and hand speed and stuff like that,” Curry said. “That’s how I get steals usually, is being quick. But that’s how I get fouls, too, so I’ve got to balance both of them.”REST FACTOR MOST READ Hontiveros presses for security audit of national power grid
Financial Times has decided to go another way for their digital subscription offering, creating an app through HTML 5, allowing users to get the app experience through their Web browser.Launched last week, the FT app is currently only optimized for iOS products; the Android market is next for apps.FT.com. In its first week, the app has had 100,000 users. MB Christie, head of product development for the FT, notes that that development for different platforms (Android, etc.) will be quick, as testing the product in different browsing environments is the only step before FT can hit all platforms. There are various reasons why FT decided to go the HTML app route, as the publication already has a strong digital presence. 15 percent of last year’s digital subscription downloads were through a mobile device, and FT wants to offer content that resizes to smartphone screens, and mini and maxi tablets. Christie references that 50 percent of computers purchased in 2011 are predicted to not be PCs (per Deloitte). The digital and print pricing is already in place for the Financial Times with their metered model, and the billing system for the HTML product is the same as the structure for the digital and print subs.FT began to develop the HTML app in 2010, with the big push for completion in 2011. As Christie says, this decision to go through HTML for the FT app was made before Apple introduced its subscription model to publishers.In regards to Apple’s subscription model, Christie says, “By not knowing who are our customers are, we can’t give access to all devices, if you signed up. [Not giving the 30 percent cut of purchases] is a side benefit of not having to go through the Apple cycle. However, it would have been a different conversation if the data was available.”As Christie points out, only 50 percent of consumers who buy through the App Store opt to share their data with the publishers they are purchasing products from. “The metered model doesn’t work when you don’t get the info. Apple also doesn’t support corporate accounts.”However, FT remains in talks with Apple and will continue to consider their terms, according to a FT spokesperson. As far as advertising, staff have been selling packages to advertisers under “tablet advertising”, not “iPad advertising”. Christie reinforces that advertiser interest has grown since the launch of apps.FT.com last week.Due to Apple’s new subscription rules that will be put in effect on June 30, the Apple FT app that requires subscription may be removed from the App Store. Other FT products, such as Little Books of Business Travel, will remain available from Apple.In deciding to launch an HTML app in addition to FT’s digital presence, Christie says, “Besides being able to access it offline, apps have a beginning, middle and end. As opposed to searching the Web, you feel like you’ve actually read today’s paper.”Other publishers, such as Playboy, have also decided to take the HTML route. iPlayboy.com was launched in May, though the publication may have had different reasons to go through the Web instead of an app; Apple is known for its strict handle on acceptable content that can be purchased through iTunes. Through the HTML app, FT will feature video and other enhanced features. The content through the HTML 5 app can also be read offline, as data can be stored offline via HTML 5. Through Web browser access, there are automatic updates to the app, as the product refreshes itself without user download, as apps through the App Store require.
[Representational image]Creative CommonsIt is not the right time to privatise national carrier Air India, a parliamentary panel is likely to recommend to the government. The panel “strongly feels that it will not be appropriate at this stage to disinvest when Air India has started earning profit from its operations”.The committee believes that the national airline should be given at least five years to turnaround its business by writing off its debts, PTI reported.The panel felt that equity infusion in the national carrier adversely affected the carrier’s financial and operational performance as the airline had to take loans at a higher interest rate to meet the shortfall.The parliamentary standing committee on transport, tourism and culture concluded that Centre should retract its decision to dilute its stake in Air India and explore ways to revive the company.”The TAP and financial restructuring plan (FRP) for Air India was for a period of 10 years from 2012 to 2022 and airline has shown an overall improvement in various parameters and every indication is that it is coming out of the red,” the panel stated.The parliamentary committee, after hearing the views of all stakeholders said, “Air India should be given a chance for at least five years to revive themselves.”It also criticised the government for mismanagement and wrong policy directions and advised Air India to be permitted to function as a government PSU with less government control.Earlier in June, the Modi government gave an in-principle approval to the divestment of debt-ridden Air India. Investors are not showing much interest in buying the state-owned carrier because of the company’s large debt of more than Rs 52,000 crore.However, India’s one of largest conglomerate Tata Group and low-cost airline IndiGo showed interest in picking stake in Air India.”We have, of course, received from both IndiGo as well as the Tatas indications of interest for the airline (Air India), and then, we have received formal indications of interest for other aspects of the Air India group. These are the formal indications we have received so far,” minister of state for civil aviation, Jayant Sinha said.The parliamentary committee expressed apprehension that Air India’s strategic disinvestment “would result in job loss of many people” and asked the government to “make an assessment” of the job loss before deciding on stake sale.