Server error thwarts filling of online loan waiver forms

first_imgPoor internet connectivity and server problems at government e-service centres have made it difficult for farmers to register for the loan waiver scheme. The government had earlier claimed that over 38.90 lakh farmers had filled farm loan waiver forms. Around 89 lakh farmers are eligible for the loan waiver scheme and September 15 is the deadline to submit the forms.Ajit Nawale, convener of the farmers’ steering committee, said, “Farmers are being forced to stand in queue for hours to just fill the form. In many e-service centres, the online registration facility is in tatters. Thumb impressions are not matching with the Aadhaar card data. Server malfunction has also made the process time-consuming.”Cooperation Minister Subhash Deshmukh said the errors at e-centers would be tackled and farmers would start receiving money in their accounts from October 1. Kalidas Aapet of Shetkari Sanghatana said, “The government has all the details of farmers who require the loan. This whole exercise of filling forms is unnecessary. It is possible to transfer the amount directly. Only 500 of the 1,400 e-service centres in Beed district are functional.” Mr. Aapet also questioned the need for a ‘caste’ column in the forms.Farmers’ leaders said the procedure could only be completed if the farmer’s wife provided her thumb impression. Mr. Nawale said, “Widows whose husbands have committed suicide are helpless since they have no loan in their name. There is no clarity on this issue.”Uttam Yamgar, a farmer from Mhasurne village in Khatav tehsil, said he has been visiting the e-service centre for eight days but the server has failed recognise his thumb impression.last_img read more

2 injured after stones thrown at school bus

first_imgTwo schoolchildren were injured after the bus they were travelling in was stoned by unidentified miscreants in Shopian on Wednesday, evoking outrage from regional political parties and the civil society in the Kashmir Valley. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said the perpetrators “will face action.”“Miscreants threw stones on the school bus, resulting in injuries to Class 2 student Rehan Gorsai. He has been shifted to SKIMS Hospital in Srinagar with a head injury. It’s complete madness how stone-pelters are targeting schoolchildren. These criminals will face the law,” Director-General of Police S.P. Vaid said. The bus of Rainbow International School, carrying over 30 students, was attacked with stones near Zavoora in Shopian in the morning. A police official said Shopian was volatile, with stone-pelting reported from parts of the district for the past three days, after a civilian caught in the cross-fire between militants and security forces died a few days ago.“Shocked and angered to hear of the attack on a school bus in Shopian. The perpetrators of this senseless and cowardly act will be brought to justice,” said Ms. Mufti.Former chief minister and National Conference working president Omar Abdullah wrote on Twitter:. “These attacks deserve our unequivocal condemnation. The amnesty granted to stone-pelters was meant to encourage more reasonable behaviour but some of these goons are determined to use the opportunity given to them to just pelt more stones.”Congress also condemned the attack. Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) MLA, Shopian, Sheikh Abdul Rashid appealed students to make education their priority and restrain from targeting their own colleagues. MLA Rashid’s house was attacked with a petrol bomb earlier in the day.Meanwhile, separatist Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Geelani said the bus “was targeted by some unscrupulous elements”. “People need to demonstrate mature thinking and follow discipline. I am dismayed by the incident,” said Mr. Geelani.Hurriyat faction chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said, “Those who indulge in such hooliganism should realize that these actions tarnish our movement and provide an opportunity to our adversary to defame.”last_img read more

Odisha Cong. gears up for polls

first_imgBuoyed by the return of Niranjan Patnaik as president of the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee along with three working presidents, the party has started gearing up for the next year’s simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in the State.The Congress leaders are working overtime not only to retain their party’s number two position in the State by blocking the Bharatiya Janata Party but also to take on the ruling Biju Janata Dal in a big way. The saffron party had emerged number two in the Zilla Parishad elections in 2017.The new team of leaders has already initiated a series of measures to strengthen the party organisation at the grassroots level. In a recent meeting of district presidents, the party decided to dismantle block level committees and strengthen Zilla Parishad zones as new organisational blocks.At the end of the two-day deliberations, Mr. Patnaik has made it clear that those leaders who are working with the people in rural areas will be given tickets to contest the next elections. Indiscipline will not be tolerated in the party and leaders having grievances should raise the issue in party forum instead of going to the media, he has said.Mr. Patnaik, who has already appointed presidents and working presidents in as many as 28 of the 33 organisational districts, is now planning to organise massive rallies in all districts to galvanise the party workers up to the booth level. He along with the party in-charge of Odisha has also visited all districts to activate the district units.last_img read more

Policeman killed in Pulwama

first_imgMilitants opened fire and killed a policeman and injured another in south Kashmir on Monday. In a separate incident, one militant was killed and two soldiers were injured in pre-dawn searches near the Line of Control (LoC) in Kupwara.A police official said militants on Monday afternoon “fired indiscriminately” at the policemen in Muran village of Pulwama. The policemen were accompanying former MLA, Rajpora, Ghulam Mohiudin at the time of attack.“The protected person is safe. However, one personal security officer (PSO) Mudasir was killed and another PSO Nasir from the security wing is stable,” said the police.The attackers also snatched their weapons. “The initial probe suggests Zahoor Thokar, associated with Hizbul Mujahideen outfit is involved in it,” said the police. Earlier in the day, one militant was killed and two soldiers were injured as the Army spotted a group of militants in a pre-dawn searches near the LoC in Kupwara. A joint party of the 10 JAKLI, 57 Rashriya Rifles (RR) and 41 RR observed the movement of a group of infiltrators and were challenged at Safawali Gali adjacent to Batpora forests. “The body has been spotted and an AK-47 rifle recovered,” said a police official.last_img read more

Assam NRC: anger over report that citizenship papers will be trimmed

first_imgSuggestions to the Supreme Court by the officer heading the exercise to update the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam to slash the list of “admissible documents” as citizenship proof from the original 15 to 10 has stirred a hornets’ nest before the claims and objections phase.More than 40 lakh of the 3.29 crore applicants had been left out of the complete NRC draft published on July 30. While these people await their turn to prove their citizenship with documents besides those already submitted but rejected, State NRC Coordinator Prateek Hajela in his last report to the apex court sought the exclusion of five ‘list A’ documents for re-verification of those excluded.These documents are the 1951 NRC; voters’ lists and ration cards up to March 24, 1971; citizenship certificates; and refugee registration certificates. March 24, 1971, is the cut-off date for detecting and deporting illegal migrants from Assam as per the Assam Accord of 1985 that ended a six-year agitation against foreigners.Apart from Opposition parties such as the Congress and the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), the ruling BJP has also found fault with Mr. Hajela’s suggestion. State BJP general secretary Dilip Saikia said Mr. Hajela’s report had complicated the situation, as “lakhs of Indians belonging to the Gorkha, Bengali and Hindi-speaking communities have been left out.”BJP writes to HajelaThe BJP had a few days ago written to Mr. Hajela, insisting that the migration certificate, the citizenship certificate and all variants of refugee cards should be acceptable in the NRC updating process.The Congress went to the extent of demanding Mr. Hajela’s removal for “misleading the apex court.” Debabrata Saikia, the party’s leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly said the NRC official had been acting whimsically and playing with the lives of people who did not possess any of the 10 documents now being preferred despite their ancestors being in the 1951 NRC and pre-1971 voters’ lists.“If the 1951 NRC won’t be accepted, what was the point of carrying out an exercise that cost more than ₹ 1,200 crore of Indian taxpayers’ money?” AIUDF general secretary Aminul Islam said.“The government should rein Hajela in, or we will protest for the format of the NRC to be changed,” Azizur Rahman, advisor of the All Assam Minority Students’ Union said.Civil society organisations in the Bengali-dominated Barak Valley have also come down heavily on Mr. Hajela. They include the Citizen’s Rights Protection Committee and Unconditional Citizenship Demand Forum.But groups representing the indigenous communities have appreciated the proposed trimming of the list of documents. “This should be applied to re-verify the citizenship status of all those who are already in the NRC, not only the 40 lakh excluded. We will also appeal to the Supreme Court for constituting a monitoring committee for the updating process,” Aabhijeet Sarma, president of NGO Assam Public Works and the petitioner in the case related to NRC in the Supreme Court, said.Mr. Hajela, gagged by the apex court, was incommunicado.last_img read more

Bail for alleged Maoist sympathiser in Yerwada jail since 2015

first_imgThe Bombay High Court on Monday granted bail to Konnath Muralidharan, 66, an alleged sympathiser of Communist Party of India (Maoist), who has been in Yerwada jail since May 2015 after the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrested him for possessing ‘objectionable material’. His bail has been previously rejected by the Pune court in September 2016.On May 8, 2015, Mr. Muralidharan was arrested at 6 a.m. after the ATS got information that he, along with an aide Chirag Palli, were operating from their hideout at Talegaon in Pune. ATS recovered hand written notes along with printed literature that talked about Operation Green Hunt, central military commission and other material related to CPI (Maoists).According to the FIR, Mr. Muralidharan introduced himself as Thomas Joseph and was holding names such as Sunny alias Rajendra Goppi Vijayan alias Raghavan alias Ajith Kannampillai alias Kannakaran. His aide Mr. Palli introduced himself as James Mathew.Statements of some witnesses were recorded and the ATS had seized laptops, CPUs, printers, three pen drives, 10 mobile handsets, five sim cards, two dongles and books in Malayalam from them.The ATS also recovered a fake PAN card in the name of Thomas Joseph with Mr. Muralidharan’s photo, while Mr. Palli had a fake Aadhaar card in his name.Mr. Muralidharan was charged with Section 419 (punishment for cheating by personation), Section 467 (forgery of valuable security, will, etc), Section 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), Section 471(using as genuine a forged document or electronic record) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 10 (penalty for being member of an unlawful association, etc), Section 13 (punishment for unlawful activities), Section 20 (punishment for being member of terrorist gang or organisation), Section 38 (offence relating to membership of a terrorist organisation), and Section 39 (offence relating to support given to a terrorist organisation) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).The ATS filed a chargesheet on October 14, 2015, before a sessions court in Pune. On September 9, 2016, Mr. Muralidharan who suffered heart ailments prior to his arrest, and suffered a mild heart attack while he was lodged in prison, moved a bail application which was rejected by the Pune court. The present bail application, filed in HC through his advocates Sudeep Pasbola and Susan Abraham, states that he has been falsely implicated, and that there is no evidence to prosecute him under UAPA.Justice Nitin Sambre granted bail to Mr. Murlidharan on ₹1 lakh surety and ordered him to report to Pune police station twice a month.last_img read more

Fadnavis has ‘abandoned’ State, says Opposition

first_imgThe Opposition parties have slammed Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for ‘abandoning’ the State and touring Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. Mr. Fadnavis offered prayers at the Mahakaleshwar shrine in the ancient temple town of Ujjain on Tuesday. The Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) said the prayers were offered in the name of drought victims and the CM is hiding the fact that he is on an election campaign. “At a time when Maharashtra is suffering, the Chief Minister refuses to take the drought situation seriously. Since December, the State is facing scarcity, but he has chosen to prioritise elections. The people will teach him a lesson,” said NCP leader and senior spokesperson Nawab Malik. NCP chief and former agriculture minister Sharad Pawar had last week criticised the State government for not doing enough to tackle the drought. The Congress said the Chief Minister should not misguide the people and must focus on drinking water, employment and cattle camps. “The CM had promised central assistance to those suffering from drought but that money is not be seen anywhere. Is he going to distribute this after the rain starts?” asked Congress leader and former chief minister Ashok Chavan. Maharashtra has declared 151 talukas as drought-affected, and had sought an assistance of ₹4,714 crore from the Centre.last_img read more

How NASA Tried to Save Its Prime Planet Spotter

first_img NASA Kepler deputy project manager Charles Sobeck. NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has been a workhorse for planet hunters since its launch in 2009. Sifting through Kepler data, astronomers have discovered 130 new extrasolar planets and identified hundreds of planetary candidates, showing that the universe is teeming with planets.On Thursday, NASA announced that the Kepler spacecraft would no longer be able to continue doing science as before. That’s because engineers have been unable to revive the functionality of two of the spacecraft’s four reaction wheels, which are necessary to keep it precisely pointed at target stars. Science caught up with Charles Sobeck, deputy project manager for Kepler at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, to learn more about what happened to the spacecraft and what lies in store for it. The interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.When did you first realize there was a problem?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(*)The first time was a year ago when wheel 2 failed. The spacecraft wasn’t holding fine point on its science target [staying precisely pointed at the target] because that wheel had stopped spinning.Reaction wheels are notorious for breaking, aren’t they?Reaction wheels do fail all the time, some fail quite early, some go on for decades without any problem.What was the status of Kepler after wheel 2 broke?It was still pointing well, but not precisely. Within a few days, we were able to take the failed wheel offline, reset some parameters on the spacecraft; that essentially told the spacecraft that you only have three wheels, use those wheels. It snapped right back into fine point, but now our concern was, we couldn’t afford to lose another one. We had to ask ourselves, what were we doing wrong, what could we be doing differently.When did you find out that another wheel could be at risk as well?We had had no indications that wheel 2 had been in distress, but once it had failed, we went back and looked at all our data and put it through different algorithms. We were able to find advance indications saying that here’s what would indicate that a wheel is having problems. Had we known what to look for, we could have seen that 6 months before wheel 2 failed. Armed with that knowledge, we could now look back at all the wheels and ask: Are any other wheels showing early signs of stress? And indeed, what we found is that wheel 4 was showing intermittent signs of stress.Did you do things differently to protect the wheel?We came up with a list of eight or 10 things we did differently. We increased the operating temperature of the wheel; we raised the speed of the wheel to keep it out of the region below 300 revolutions per minute, where the nature of the friction and the internal lubrication changes state. We also operated the wheel bidirectionally: We spent some of the time going clockwise, and some of the time going counterclockwise.And yet the wheel gave out?In early January, we saw the wheel exhibit some elevated friction that didn’t come down. We knew we only had a few months left, so we began quickly developing a thruster control mode so that we could use the thrusters on the spacecraft to stabilize it and point it. In May, wheel 4 seized up and stopped turning.What happened next?In July, we tested the broken wheels to see if they could still function. We spun them up only for a few minutes, and only to 300 revolutions per minute, to see if they would move. The short answer is that even though they spun, the friction was higher than we had seen before. We knew that these are clearly damaged wheels.Did you have a plan for repairing the wheels?We looked at the internal structure of these wheels’ bearings. There is a plastic separator between the balls that the wheel rolls on. There was a reservoir of lubricant within this plastic cage, and we thought if we raised the temperature, we could force some of that internal lubricant from the reservoir to the surface of the cage, and then we could run the wheels, spread the lubricant around, and that would enable the wheels to run at a lower friction. So that’s what we did. We turned the heaters up to a higher temperature than it had seen in flight before to get the lubricant out. But the friction did not go down, which suggested that the lubricant wasn’t forced to the surface or that wasn’t the problem to begin with.Was there anything left to do?Functionally, the wheels were still working, and we wanted to find out how well they could point the spacecraft. We did that test last week.How did that go?We returned the spacecraft to wheel control, and it held control pretty good. We still had this super-elevated friction level, but we have relatively large motors on these wheels, and the thought was, we could overcome the friction with the motor force we have available. For the next 2 hours, we watched how the wheels were performing. Things were working pretty good. Normally, we would like to see the wheels hold the spacecraft to within 1 or 2 arc seconds of the target; it was holding at within 10 arc seconds.Did that allow you to do something useful?We pointed Kepler’s high-gain antennae at Earth and downlinked the data that has been on its solid state recorder for the past 3 months. There were two aspects of the data that we were most interested in. There were 4 or 5 days of science data that we had collected for 4 or 5 days prior to the wheel failure. We had also been storing high-rate engineering data that would describe exactly how the wheel failed, what the timeline was. We had only very low-resolution insight into the wheel failure, but downlinking that data, we have high-resolution insight. That may not be important to Kepler, but it’ll be important to other missions who want to be able to know how a wheel fails and what to look for.Why couldn’t you just keep going?As we were pointing the antennae to Earth, wheel number 2 started experiencing very high friction. A good wheel should have something like 2 or 3 milli-Newton meters. In July, it went up to 30. Now, the friction jumped up to over 100. During the 4 hours, we saw the friction stay in that very high regime, it was getting closer and closer to the 200 milli-Newton meter limit that our motors have on them.That’s like watching an emergency room patient’s pulse rate going up.Yes, and there’s nothing you can do about it, other than hoping that it comes to some sort of stable state. We had several of us in one office at Ames looking at the data in real time. At first, when it jumped from 30 to 100, we thought ‘it’s going to die almost immediately.’ But then it didn’t. It started to rise slowly. We thought, ‘well, it’s going to die in an hour or two.’ Then it peaked out and started coming down again, and it just sort of teased us. Then the friction exceeded the limit, we could no longer spin the wheels with our motor, the spacecraft autonomously put itself in safe mode. We commanded the spacecraft back to its point and rest state, our holding pattern.Are you still hoping that the Kepler spacecraft will be able to do some science?We will now try to define what kind of pointing can we get with two good wheels and thrusters. We are going to look at what we can do, and we’re going to look at the cost of that. And we’re going to see what kind of science can we do with it. We’ve issued a call for white papers, inviting the scientific community to submit ideas. We’re not limiting it to extrasolar planets. Some ideas would be to do microlensing and to look for near-Earth asteroids. We’re not throwing in the towel.*Correction, 19 August, 11:06 a.m.: The friction forces specified in this story are in milli-Newton meters, not million Newton meters, as erroneously reported before. Thanks to the reader who brought it to our attention.last_img read more

More Than 4% of Death Row Inmates May Be Innocent

first_imgOne in 25 criminal defendants who has been handed a death sentence in the United States has likely been erroneously convicted. That number—4.1% to be exact—comes from a new analysis of more than 3 decades of data on death sentences and death row exonerations across the United States.“This was a very carefully done and carefully considered approach,” says statistician Bruce Levin of Columbia University, who was not involved in the new study. “The analysis was quite sophisticated, and the authors were transparent about both their assumptions and methods.”Putting a number on the rate of false convictions among criminal defendants in the United States is complicated by the fact that many false convictions are never identified and there’s no central, national database that tracks most types of criminal cases. A number of lawyers and judges, however, have publically claimed that the false conviction rate for all crimes is almost negligible—including a written comment by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in a 2006 concurring opinion, citing a rate of 0.027%. But such assumptions usually take the total number of all exonerations in the country and divide it by total number of felony convictions—an incorrect calculation because most false convictions, especially for more minor felonies, are never revealed.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(*)To calculate a more accurate false conviction rate, Samuel Gross, a law professor at the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor and a former criminal defense lawyer, decided to focus on one small subset of criminal cases: those that result in death sentences.“Every case where you have a death sentence is recorded in a national database,” Gross says. “And the rate at which errors are detected in death penalty cases is orders of magnitude higher than in other cases.” Defendants on death row have better access to attorneys, he notes, and more attention and resources are generally devoted to ensuring that their convictions are accurate.Gross and his colleagues gathered data from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Death Penalty Information Center, a nonprofit organization that tracks executions, on all 7482 death sentences in the United States from 1973 through 2004. But even among death sentence cases, dividing the number of known exonerations by the total number of defendants wouldn’t give an accurate estimate of all false convictions. In a third of death row convictions, defendants are resentenced to life in prison after appeals, usually within about 5 years. And after being resentenced, their access to resources that could help them prove a false conviction drops.“Nobody doubts that the group that is removed from death row and resentenced includes more people who are actually more likely to be innocent and would be exonerated if they remained on death row,” Gross says. Indeed, he and colleagues calculated that resentenced defendants are eight times less likely to be exonerated than those on death row. In addition, once someone is executed, dies of natural causes, or commits suicide, the chance of being exonerated drops to nearly zero.To calculate what the total rate of exonerations would be if all death row defendants remained on death row indefinitely and had equal access to resources, the researchers turned to statistical techniques normally used in medical studies. Although only 1.6% of defendants who had been sentenced to death were actually exonerated between 1973 and 2004, 4.1% of defendants were likely falsely convicted, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Because the number is an extrapolation, it doesn’t reveal exactly which defendants—out of those resentenced for life or executed—were falsely convicted.“The main message is that false convictions are not rare events,” Gross says. “It’s something that’s going to keep happening on a steady basis, and it means we should work hard to try and avoid it.”David Dow, a law professor at the University of Houston Law Center and founder of the Texas Innocence Network, a group of lawyers that represents death row inmates and works to reveal false convictions, says the number doesn’t surprise him. “This is really the number that people who have spent a lot of time doing capital work have intuited,” he says. “The larger hope is that it finally reaches people who have been resisting the acknowledgement of this reality, which is that we make a somewhat significant number of mistakes.”The rate of false convictions in death sentence cases can’t be generalized to other criminal cases, Gross points out, but he hypothesizes that the rate is similar for all serious, violent crimes.The new calculations don’t offer any insight into what most often leads to false convictions, or what can be done about them, but he hopes that illuminating the rate will lead to new efforts to study these areas.last_img read more

Had there been no Higgs boson, this observation would have been the bomb

first_imgEver wonder what particle physicists would have done had the Higgs boson not existed? Even before they fired up the atom smasher that 2 years ago blasted out the Higgs—the $5.5 billion Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European particle physics lab, CERN, near Geneva, Switzerland—researchers said that if they didn’t find that coveted quarry, it wouldn’t be a total disaster. If there were no Higgs, they said, then a particular ordinary particle interaction should instead go haywire and hint at whatever nature was doing to get by without the Higgs. Now, physicists at the LHC have spotted the rare interaction in that “no-lose” theorem, which is known as WW scattering.”I am thrilled,” says Barbara Jäger, a theorist at the University of Tübingen in Germany who was not involved in the work. Of course, now that physicists know the Higgs exists, they don’t expect WW scattering to go bonkers. But it could still play an important role in the hunt for new physics, as scientists look for deviations from the predictions of the field’s prevailing standard model. That approach would complement studies of the Higgs itself, Jäger says.The Higgs boson is key to physicists’ explanation of how all elementary particles—such as electrons and the quarks that make up protons and neutrons—get their masses. Theorists assume that otherwise massless particles interact with a quantum field a bit like an electric field that consists of Higgs bosons lurking “virtually” in the vacuum. Those interactions give each type of particle a certain amount of energy and, thanks to Einstein’s famous equation E = mc2, mass.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(*)That may seem like a lot of trouble to go through to make a particle massive. But it heads off a big problem with particles called the W boson and the Z boson, which convey the weak nuclear force that’s responsible for a kind of radioactive decay. Those particles weigh 86 and 97 times as much a proton, respectively. In the mathematics of the standard model, however, theorists can’t simply insert masses for the W and Z, as that would spoil a key mathematical symmetry that explains how the weak force arises in the first place. By starting with massless particles that interact with a field, the Higgs mechanism preserves that symmetry while enduing the W and the Z with their masses.That connection also explains the importance WW scattering had as an alternative to finding the Higgs. Suppose two protons collide. Rarely, a quark in one proton and a quark in the other will each radiate a W boson. Those W bosons can bounce, or scatter, off each other, either by crashing directly into each other or by exchanging some other quantum particle. Thanks to quantum weirdness, the process in which the two W’s exchange a Higgs counteracts the ones in which they bounce off each other or exchange a Z, much as two waves rippling on a pond can cancel each other. That interference keeps the rate of WW scattering low.If the Higgs did not exist, however, then the rate of WW scattering should skyrocket above a certain collision energy. Indeed, the probability of such collisions should exceed 100%. “If there were no Higgs, we knew that something had to happen there because we know that probability doesn’t get bigger than 100%,” says Marc-André Pleier, a physicist at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York, and one of 3000 experimenters working with ATLAS, one of four huge detectors fed by the LHC. So physicists predicted that in addition to a rate increase in WW scattering, new effects should kick in: for example, novel and revealing correlations in the trajectories of the W’s.Now, Pleier and colleagues have spotted evidence of WW scattering, as they describe in a paper in press at Physical Review Letters. Out of 1.5 quadrillion proton-proton collisions, ATLAS researchers spotted 34 instances of WW scattering. The signal isn’t yet strong enough to claim a definite discovery, Pleier says, but it appears to be consistent with the standard model. Physicists with the rival CMS detector also have evidence for WW scattering, Pleier says.WW scattering could be used to probe for new particles, such as those predicted by a scheme called supersymmetry. W’s might bounce off each other by exchanging such particles, changing scattering from the standard model predictions. But different ways of extending the standard model predict different changes in WW scattering, notes Jürgen Reuter, a theorist at the German Electron Synchrotron (DESY) laboratory in Hamburg. So physicists must first determine the most promising signals to search for, he says: “We don’t know all the good observables at the moment.”last_img read more

Cockatoos can learn from each other how to make and use tools

first_imgFigaro, a Goffin’s cockatoo (Cacatua goffini) housed at a research lab in Austria, stunned scientists a few years ago when he began spontaneously making stick tools from the wooden beams of his aviary. The Indonesian parrots are not known to use tools in the wild, yet Figaro confidently employed his sticks to rake in nuts outside his wire enclosure. Wondering if Figaro’s fellow cockatoos could learn by watching his methods, scientists set up experiments for a dozen of them. One group watched as Figaro used a stick to reach a nut placed inside an acrylic box with a wire-mesh front panel; others saw “ghost demonstrators”—magnets that were hidden beneath a table and that the researchers controlled—displace the treats. Each bird was then placed in front of the box, with a stick just like Figaro’s lying nearby. The group of three males and three females that had watched Figaro also picked up the sticks, and made some efforts reminiscent of his actions. But only those three males, such as the one in the photo above, became proficient with the tool and successfully retrieved the nuts, the scientists report online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. None of the females did so; nor did any of the birds, male or female, in the ghost demonstrator group. Because the latter group failed entirely, the study shows that the birds need living teachers, the scientists say. Intriguingly, the clever observers developed a better technique than Figaro’s for getting the treat. Thus, the cockatoos weren’t copying his exact actions, but emulating them—a distinction that implies some degree of creativity. Two of the successful cockatoos were later given a chance to make a tool of their own. One did so immediately (as in the video above), and the other succeeded after watching Figaro. It may be that by learning to use a tool, the birds are stimulated to make tools of their own, the scientists say.last_img read more

Birds found using human musical scales for the first time

first_imgThe flutelike songs of the male hermit thrush (Catharus guttatus) are some of the most beautiful in the animal kingdom. Now, researchers have found that these melodies employ the same mathematical principles that underlie many Western and non-Western musical scales—the first time this has been seen in any animal outside humans. The scientists analyzed the spectrograms (barcodelike representations of the frequencies in a sound) of 71 songs containing 10 or more notes made by 14 of the birds; the songs were collected across North America over more than 50 years by various individuals. Their statistical models showed that 57 of these songs closely resembled what musicians term a harmonic series—that is, the pitches of the notes follow a mathematical distribution known as integer multiples. Human musical scales are governed by these same mathematical constraints. It’s doubtful that the similarity is due to the physics of the birds’ vocal tract, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Rather, it seems male hermit thrushes choose to sing notes from these harmonic series. It may be that such notes are easier for the males to remember, or provide a ready yardstick for their chief critics—female hermit thrushes. The study adds to other research indicating that human music is not solely governed by cultural practices, but is also at least partially determined by biology.last_img read more

Japan aims for the heart of an asteroid

first_imgJapan today successfully launched Hayabusa 2, a spacecraft that if all goes well will return to Earth in 2020 carrying samples, including, for the first time, material from beneath the weathered surface of an asteroid.Less than 2 hours after a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency H-IIA rocket lifted off from the Tanegashima Space Center at 1:22 p.m. local time, Hayabusa 2, developed by the agency’s Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, separated from the rocket’s second stage and embarked on its planned 6-year round trip to asteroid 1999 JU3. The probe will collect data while circling the asteroid, deploy several small landers, and briefly touch down to collect surface samples. Then, in the most audacious gambit of the mission, Hayabusa 2 will release an impactor that will blast a crater into the asteroid. The spacecraft will then touch down a second time and capture ejecta. Comparing samples from the surface and from underground will give scientists a better idea of the original material of this asteroid type and how space weathers it.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(*)The Hayabusa 2 team hopes their probe will have a far less eventful voyage than its predecessor. Before and after touching down on the asteroid Itokawa in 2005, the first Hayabusa had to overcome fuel leaks, multiple equipment failures, and a weeks-long loss of communications that had mission managers worried the craft was lost. But in 2010, after a 7-year, 6-billion-kilometer space odyssey, Hayabusa set an historic first: It brought samples from the surface of an asteroid back to Earth. Combining the findings of the Hayabusa missions, which target different asteroid types, and those of a European spacecraft’s recent visit to a comet promises to sharpen our understanding of the early solar system and which of its varied bodies might have seeded our planet with water and organic compounds.last_img read more

Delhi High Court Dismisses Govt Plea Against Vodafone Move

first_imgThe Delhi High Court on Monday dismissed the Centre’s plea challenging Vodafone’s move to initiate international arbitration against India over a retrospective tax liability imposed on the telecom firm for its $11-billion deal to acquire the stake of Hutchison Telecom. The court dismissed the government’s plea to halt Vodafone’s arbitration proceedings under the India-United Kingdom Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement (BIPA).Read it at Indian Express Related Itemslast_img

Wipro, TCS Slip

first_imgThe financial meltdown and a volatile currency markets has hit some of India’s largest outsourcing companies.Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., reported profits of $256 million in the third quarter on revenues of $1.41 billion. But the company lost $52.5 million from foreign exchange hedges. Wipro’ reported net profit for the quarter of $177 million on $1.38 billion in revenues.    Related Itemslast_img

India Plans Steps to Boost Tourism Sector in Upcoming Budget

first_imgIn a bid to boost economic growth and to create more jobs, the Indian government is, in its budget to be presented next month, planning to cut taxes in the travel and tourism industry and give more incentives to the sector.“We’ll announce measures in the budget to promote investment in the tourism sector,” a Finance Ministry official said, Reuters reported. The official added that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is in the favor of lowering the 28 per cent tax on hotel tariffs, and offering incentives to attract private investments. These steps could lead to a domestic tourism boom in the $210 Indian tourism sector.The budget may “significantly” raise allocations for tourism infrastructure and raise income tax exemptions on investments in new hotels, a government official said, the news agency added. Jaitley was expected to lower income tax on corporate profit, offer tax incentives on hotel construction, allocate more funds for new tourist trains and building roads to tourist destinations.“Tourists in India, on an average pay 30 per cent tax on hotel rooms and travel as compared to less than 10 per cent in Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia,” Pronab Sarkar, the president of the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), was quoted as saying in the report.To cover new, under-served airports, the government is set to offer incentives to more regional airlines this year, the official added. In October 2017, surveys conducted on the Indian aviation sector showed that India’s domestic aviation market is currently the third largest in the world, and in a few decades the total aviation market of the country will reach that rank.At a tourism-sector CEO forum that was jointly organized by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion and the Tourism Ministry last year, the participants had pointed out that India faced a shortage of 2 lakh hotel rooms, particularly in the mid-segment that charged room rents of Rs 2,000 or less. Tourism Minister KJ Alphons had said then that the government has set a target of increasing the annual foreign tourist arrivals into the country to 40 million from the present 14.4 million in five years, and increase job creation to 100 million from the present 43 million.India has also carved a niche for itself as a hotspot for wellness tourism. A KMPG report on tourism industry in 2017 said that it is among the top five destinations for wellness services, along with China, Brazil, United States, and Indonesia.In April 2017, the state governments of Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand signed 86 memorandum of understandings (MOUs) for developing tourist places in their respective states. Related ItemsbudgetTourismlast_img read more

Three arrested for bid to kill Uttar Pradesh BJP MLA

first_imgThe Uttar Pradesh Police’s Special Task Force (STF) on Friday arrested a notorious sharpshooter, who was allegedly planning to kill BJP MLA Sushil Singh, after a brief encounter in Varanasi, an official statement said. Shiv Prakash Tiwari alias Dhoni Tiwari was carrying a cash reward of ₹1 lakh on his head, it said. Following a tip off, Tiwari and two of his associates — Manish Kesarwani and Ajnana Singh — were arrested from Varanasi’s Cantt police station area, the STF statement said. During interrogation, Tiwari revealed he had come to Varanasi with his associates to kill Singh, the BJP MLA from Saiyadraja assembly constituency. His associates were doing a recce for it, the statement said. Tiwari was convicted in the sensational murder of Hindu Yuva Vahini leader Bishnu Dutt Ojha in 2011 in Basti district but was absconding, it said.last_img read more

10 Sikkim Democratic Front MLAs join BJP

first_imgTen MLAs of the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) joined the BJP on Tuesday, making the latter the main Opposition party in the Sikkim, where it failed to win a single seat in the recent Assembly polls. The MLAs joined the BJP in the presence of its national general secretary Ram Madhav, who is in-charge of the party’s affairs in the northeast, and later met party working president J.P. Nadda.Mr. Madhav told reporters that the SDF had a strength of 13 MLAs and its legislature party had decided to merge with the BJP.The BJP is running governments as the main party or in alliance with regional parties in all the northeastern States except Sikkim. With this development, the BJP will become the principal Opposition party in Sikkim.The party won 15 seats while its rival, the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM), won 17 in the 32-member Assembly. Since two of the SDF MLAs had won from two seats, they resigned from one seat each, reducing the party’s strength to 13 in the House. The SDF was an NDA ally, but now the SKM has replaced it as a member of the BJP-headed North East Democratic Alliance.The MLAs who joined the BJP include Dorjee Tshering Lepcha, who has served as a Minister thrice in the Chamling government and is a five-term MLA, and three-term MLA Ugen Gyatso.Lone rangerThe SDF tried to put up a brave front saying that people of Sikkim were not used to national parties and one had to wait and watch to see how far this “new experiment” went.The SDF is now left with only one MLA —Mr. Chamling himself. “We are certainly facing the most challenging times,” SDF spokesperson P.D. Rai told The Hindu.(With inputs from Shiv Sahay Singh)last_img read more