Get Wired 20/6: Race Wars, AP-Telengana Tussle, Backing Bt Cotton, and More

St. Stephen’s student alleges sexual harassment by professor

A PhD student at St Stephens college in Delhi has gone to the police alleging that her chemistry professor had sexually harassed her, and that the principal, Valson Thampu had tried to brush the matter aside when she brought it to his notice. The complaint says that the professor used to stalk the student, make lewd remarks and uncomfortable physical contact. He even threatened to throw sulphuric acid on her face if she refused to come to college in a yellow sari. She said Thampu brushed aside the matter as an academic problem, while the professor blocked her Rs. 18,000 stipend too.

Charleston killer wanted to start race war

Charleston, South Carolina. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Charleston, South Carolina. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The 21-year-old white man Dylann Roof, who attacked a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, has been charged with nine counts of murder, and possession of a firearm while committing a crime, and will face a bail hearing where he will appear by video link. Roof said he hoped his actions would start a race war in the country. The NAACP has said this this is not another mass shooting, but a targeted race hate crime, and must be investigated as such.



Rs. 1,700 crores for food safety body

In the aftermath of the Maggi controversy, the Health Ministry has sent a proposal to the Union Cabinet for the revamp of the food safety regulatory framework in the country, asking for Rs. 1,700 crore to restructure the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI). The ministry is looking to increase the manpower at FSSAI and make the latest technologies accessible to the regulator. A ministry source claimed the move is not connected to the ban of Maggi, and that a restructuring of FSSAI has been in the pipeline for quite some time now.

AP-Telangana tussle over hydel project

After they had earlier fought over the release of waters from the Nagarjuna Sagar Tali pond project, the governments of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are up in arms again regarding the deployment of employees from the two states in the project. The Telangana power secretary has issued a memo to AP Power Generation Corporation (APGENCO) seeking administrative control of the project. He said the posts at the project would be filled with people originally from Andhra Pradesh but currently in Telangana. Following the memo, the AP government has deployed police at the plant, which generates 50MW of power and can hold 7 thousand million cu. ft. of water.

Centre asks nine states to step-up forest rights implementation

The Centre has written to nine states, majority of them BJP-ruled, asking them to better implement the Forest Rights Act, based on their slow implementation of the provisions of the Act. Kerala, Telangana, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Jharkhand are the states that the Tribal Affairs Scretary Arun Jha has written to, asking for implementation of the Act in mission mode by setting up a special cell to closely monitor the activities in this regard.

Google acts against ‘revenge porn’ with new policy

keyboardGoogle, which has traditionally resisted any attempts to restrict online content or to erase material from its search results, has come out with a new policy for nude image searches. Under the new policy, Google will censor unauthorised nude content in an effort to contain ‘revenge porn’ on the internet. People’s whose images have been uploaded without their consent will now be able to ask Google to take these photos down. The effort will not erase revenge porn content entirely from the Internet, but will make it more difficult to find such content.

Strike at Tata Steel UK plants called off

After reaching an agreement to keep the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) open, the leaders of the unions which had called for strike action at Tata Steel UK plants from Monday, have suspended the strike. The stike action planned for Monday would have been the largest in the steel industry in the UK in the last 30 years as around 17,000 workers work in Tata Steel factories across the United Kingdom. The new agreement was reached after talks between the management at Tata and the labour unions was facilitated by the conciliation service ACAS.

India tries desi Bt Cotton again

Bt cotton. Credit: TNAU

Bt cotton. Credit: TNAU

The Nagpur-based Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR) has signed a memorandum with researchers at Delhi University who have found a Bt gene – Tg2E-13. CICR will now conduct research to develop a commercially available genetically modified (GM) seed from the gene. A previous effort in 2009 failed after it was discovered that US multinational Monsanto first developed the Bt gene present in the plant developed. Presently, only seeds with the Monsanto Bt gene and its hybrids are available in the market.



Polio resurfacing in UP?

Some samples collected from tehsils in Uttar Pradesh have tested positive for polio-like symptoms only a year after India was declared polio-free. Officials have sent the samples to Mumbai to be tested again. Meanwhile, reports have also come in of children between 5 and 15 years complaining of paralysis and loss of muscular strength in hands and legs, symptoms of the disease. The World Health Organization and community doctors in the region have collected more than 200 samples in a joint effort and sent them to Mumbai.

Update: The Union Health Ministry on Saturday strongly denied reports of any samples testing positive for polio-like symptoms. “Nearly 18,000 Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) cases have been investigated between January and June 2015 as part of the ongoing surveillance activities in India. The 208 cases reported from Bareilly in a section of the media are a part of these. Reports of all AFP cases received from the laboratories in 2015 are negative for polio virus,” the Health Ministry said in a statement while asserting that India maintains “high” surveillance for polio virus detection.

Whisky therapy being used to treat victims of hooch tragedy

Whisky v. hooch. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Whisky v. hooch. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Doctors are treating victims of alcohol poisoning in the Malwani hooch tragedy using whisky therapy. The victims have been poisoned by methanol, and ethyl alcohol is the best antidote for such poisoning, doctors revealed. Hence, patients are been infused with a steady dose of whisky. Whisky is the choice of drink because of its high content of alcohol. Doctors said whisky is not stocked at hospitals, but emergency purchases are made during cases for methanol poisoning, for which this is protocol.



World’s had hottest ever year in 2015

Global surface temperatures. Credit: NOAA

Global surface temperatures. Credit: NOAA

Statistics at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have revealed that 2015 has been the hottest year ever since the agency started keeping records in 1880. The record has now been broken for two consecutive years, with 2014 being the hottest year before this. Statistics revealed that the global average temperature for May, and for the period of January to May, were the highest since 1880. Scientists are warning that these numbers are dangerous, and that extremes are becoming more frequent now, because of climate change.