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Pawn Shops: The Basics

first_imgBy Carol ChurchHave you ever visited a pawn shop? Businesses like these have been in business in one way or another for thousands of years. Pawnshops offer an opportunity for people in need of money to get a short-term loan by offering their belongings as collateral.  Although bringing possessions to a pawnshop can be one way to obtain cash when money is short, it’s important to understand the pawnshop model.How Does It Work?The way it usually works is this:You bring in your item. Typically, pawnshops are interested in relatively valuable goods, such as electronics, jewelry, tools, firearms, and musical instruments.The pawnshop tells you if they are interested and how much they will offer. Bargaining is typical. The amount you receive will not be the full value of the item.If you both agree, you are given the agreed amount of money and a ticket or claim form.You are now agreeing to a loan, with interest. In order to get the item back, you must repay the loan. It’s important to understand the total amount due and when it is due. Usually, you get about 1-4 months to repay.If you repay the total amount within a specified time, you can go reclaim your item. If you do not, the item now belongs to the store, who can sell it.In some cases, one can also simply sell belongings to a pawnshop outright, with no agreement to come back and reclaim them. However, most pawnbrokers prefer the collateral loan option. This is because it will make them more money.What Should Customers Know Before Dealing with A Pawnshop?Research pawnshops in the area beforehand to find out which ones are considered reputable and which are not. Some pawn shops also specialize in certain kinds of items.Customers should be sure to completely understand the terms of the loan—when is it due? What is the total amount due? The pawnshop MUST disclose this information, by law.In some circumstances, it is possible to extend the length of a loan, but this will incur additional fees.If customers lose their ticket, they will probably not be able to reclaim their item.One must show government-issued ID to conduct a pawnshop loan.Pros and Cons of Pawnshop LoansPawnshops can be appealing because they offer the chance to acquire a small loan of money quickly and fairly easily with no credit check and a minimum of red tape. In addition, if a customer is unable to return to repay the loan and claim the item, his or her credit will not be damaged. According to the National Pawnbrokers Association, 80% of consumers do return to claim their items.The downside of pawnshop loans is the high interest they charge, though this varies by state. In some cases, pawnshops also engage in deceptive practices by advertising low APRs, but then tacking on numerous last-minute fees.Pawnshops and Members of the MilitaryHowever, there is an important caveat to this interest rate warning for members of the military. Thanks to the protections of the Military Lending Act, pawnbrokers are now limited as to how much interest they can legally charge active members of the military and their dependents. The rate is now capped at 36% annually (3% a month).This new law has been controversial and pawnbrokers are currently suing the government in regard to it, but for the time being, it stands. All pawnshop owners are required to check with customers regarding their military status. Be aware, however, that a pawnshop may also legally refuse service to military members.Alternatives to PawnshopsConsumers and members of the military who find themselves short of cash and in need of a short-term cash infusion to tide things over do have other options. If parting with some consumer goods that are no longer needed still seems like the best option, selling the item on Craig’s List or eBay might well produce a larger profit without the issue of interest. Other options include a small personal loan from a bank or especially a credit union, working with a creditor to develop a payment plan (if debt is the issue), a cash advance on a credit card, or even a peer-to-peer lending platform such as Lending Club. For military members, special relief programs like Army Emergency Relief offer zero-interest loans and other help.Pawnshops do serve a unique function as far as their ability to offer small collateral-based loans without requiring a credit check or impacting credit, but it’s important to keep in mind that they are often considered a type of predatory lending that takes advantage of people in poor financial situations. Customers should exercise caution and care before dealing with a pawnshop.References:Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (2016). CFPB Takes Action Against Pawn Companies for Deceiving Consumers About Loan Costs.Dempsey, B. (2016). Pawnshop 101: What you need to know.Gonsalves, R. What Pawn Brokers Need to Know About the Military Lending Act (MLA).Lawyers.com. (n.d.) Rules of trade for pawn shops and pawnbrokers.last_img read more

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Cinema 4D Video Tutorial: An Introduction to V-Ray Materials

first_imgLearn how to create V-Ray materials in this Cinema 4D video tutorial.While the built-in renderers in Cinema 4D may be powerful, V-Ray offers users the ability to render more realistic textures at faster speeds. If you’ve spent time working with the V-Ray renderer in Cinema 4D than you know that there are hundreds of individual controls designed to give you the most customization possible.All of these controls can be confusing, especially if you are new to the rendering process. Thankfully we’ve found an awesome tutorial covering the basics of creating V-Ray materials in Cinema 4D. In the following video tutorial created by Kamel Khezri he demonstrates advanced features in the V-Ray material editor. The tutorial covers:Creating texturesWorking with lightsSelecting transparencySetting reflection mapsV-Ray is a third party plug-in, but widely considered an industry standard. If you are interested in learning more about V-Ray we recommend checking out the official website.This video was first shared by Kamel Kherzri on his Vimeo channel. Thanks for sharing Kamel!Want to see more Cinema 4D video tutorials? Check out the Cinema 4D section of the PremiumBeat blog.Have any other tips for working with advanced V-Ray materials? Share in the comments below.Bonus: Check out these FREE V-Ray Material ResourcesV-Ray MaterialsFlying Architecture MaterialsV-Ray Materials UKlast_img read more

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Curated Playlist: Emotional Royalty Free Music

first_imgMusic is the greatest manipulator of emotions. Move your audience with this curated playlist of our favorite emotional royalty free music tracks.A story filled with quiet emotion can be just as powerful as an epic bombastic trailer. With the right music choices, you can add depth and universality to a poignant visual tale. Take a listen to our selection of cinematic, emotional royalty free music tracks. This evocative playlist is guaranteed to heighten emotion – and maybe even bring a tear to your eye.last_img read more

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10 Tips from Master Cinematographer Roger Deakins

first_imgAward-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins shares his insight, wisdom, and experience. Learn from a true master with these top 10 tips.Top Image via The Film StageMost film and video pros are familiar with Roger Deakins. We recently highlighted the master cinematographer when we covered the ins and outs of framing a medium shot. If for some reason you’re unsure of his legacy, Roger Deakins has earned 12 Oscar nominations for his work on such films as Shawshank Redemption, A Beautiful Mind, Skyfall, and almost every Coen Brothers film since Barton Fink.Image: Production Location for Skyfall, via Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.Luckily for us, Deakins loves connecting with other cinematographers and giving advice whenever he can. He does most of this through his website forum where he answers questions and give tips, tricks, and general advice. Cinematographers from around the world flock to his site hoping to learn more about their craft.We’ve pulled a few of our favorite cinematography tips straight from the cinema master’s mouth. We believe these useful tips will aid you as you embark on your career or your next production.1. Learn to Be SelectiveImage from By The DartBefore you begin a new project, make sure this project is actually something you want to take on. Make sure it’s something that you believe in. Be selective with any project you latch on to, because as Roger Deakin mentions in this article from the BBC, you’re going to be on this project for a long time.I’m picky about the sort of material I want to work with, always have been. But usually I’m drawn to scripts that are about characters, I don’t have a love of doing action movies. It is really important to choose which projects you are going to work on carefully. You are going to be on a film for a long time.Video from Cinefii Channel2. The Importance of LightingImage: Fantastic lighting from No Country For Old Men via IMDbLighting is king for cinematographers. The way you light a scene greatly effects how the audience reacts to that scene. In fact, Roger Deakins says that great lighting begins with the script. Keep this in mind when picking your color and lighting. Discuss the scene with the director and find out what they want the audience to gain from the scene.So, on the one hand, you need to light a space so you can see the actors – but, more than that, you are creating a mood, you are creating a world for those actors to inhabit and for the audience to get submersed in. Lighting is one of the most important aspects of any great film.3. Embrace DocumentaryWhen working with documentary film, you have to be quick on your feet. You’ve got to find the action and frame it at any given moment. This is definitely something that has aided Roger Deakins throughout his career.You work with the light that’s available and create something with what you have at hand. It teaches you how to be quick in terms of setting the frame and finding the angle and reading what’s happening – reading the development of what’s going on in front of you.Video from AFIFEST4. Stay With the Character and StoryImage: Jeff Bridges in True Grit via IMDbNot every shot needs to be a jaw-dropping exercise in masterful composition. Sometimes you need to reign it in and go back to the basics, allowing the characters and the story to drive the narrative and keep the audience engaged.There’s nothing worse than an ostentatious shot or some lighting that draws attention to itself, and you might go, ‘Oh, wow, that’s spectacular.’ Or that spectacular shot, a big crane move, or something. But it’s not necessarily right for the film — you jump out, you think about the surface, and you don’t stay in there with the characters and the story. – Roger Deakins via Screen Writing from Iowa5. Don’t Compromise PerformanceImage: Scene from Prisoners via Alcon Entertainment.This is really an extension of the previous tip, but it’s so vital that it needs its own spot on the list. The main idea: Don’t compromise the actor’s performance for a perfect shot.Instead, capture the performance the actor gives you in the best way you can. You’ll find (as Deakins has mentioned in past interviews) that a great performance can mask a bad shot.In the end a film can look lousy but work because of a great performance but not the other way round. That’s something always worth remembering.Legendary filmmaker Terrence Malick has a reputation for filming the performance. He and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki allowed the actors on The Tree of Life to move right into their performance freely, and it was there they would capture the footage they needed. While some scenes were storyboarded, most of the footage was done in a very cinema-verite style.Video from FoxSearchlight6. Find Your StyleImage: Deakins on the set of The VillageIt’s likely you have one or two master filmmakers that you just absolutely love, but make sure you aren’t just copying what those filmmakers do. Incorporate their techniques into your own style while working toward finding your cinematic voice.You can’t learn your craft by copying me or anyone else. I hope what I do can do is in some way inspire others but I would be appalled if I though my work was being studied as ‘the right way to do the job’. – Roger Deakins via Revl8.7. Tech Is Good, but Don’t Forget You’re Telling a StoryFilmmakers need to be on the cutting edge of technology. But there’s one thing more important than each and every piece of technology or equipment: the story. Without a compelling story, all of your amazingly composed shots will fall on deaf ears.I know the visuals are vitally important, after all this IS a visual medium but it’s not just about a little black box with a lens stuck on the front, it’s about the skill of the person operating it but even more importantly it’s the story and how you execute it that really matters.Roger Deakins has a very similar philosophy and has mentioned on several occasions that storytelling is still the most important thing you need to remember as a cinematographer. He has stated that while technology changes rapidly, the way he frames and tells a story never changes. This is an important lesson for any cinematographer.Video from Cinefii Channel8. Choose Your Location WiselyImage: Deakins on the set of A Serious ManLocation, location, location. Where you decide to film a scene is incredibly important to the final product on screen. If you’re working with a small budget, then finding optimal locations will be key for you. But even if you have a large-scale budget, this same advice applies. The location will determine what lenses, lighting, and camera setup you use.I would suggest the choice of location is the most important one if you have little money in the budget for lights. You might consider the films of Terry Malick. They utilize very few artificial sources.9. The Film Is the Director’s FilmFirst and foremost, cinematographers need to know that filmmaking is a collaborative art form. At the end of the day, they are responsible for framing the film as the director envisioned. Does this mean that a cinematographer needs to be silent and only do what the director asks? Absolutely not.You should engage and offer opinions and suggestions, but as Roger Deakins said, “Every film is the Director’s film and we must never lose sight of that.”Video from Film and Digital Times10. Be Social and Get to Know PeopleImage From Left: Brad Pitt, Joel Coen, and Roger Deakins via ASCEver heard someone swear that “It’s all about who you know?” Well, it’s true.As a cinematographer and filmmaker, you’ll never be able to move your way up to bigger and better things on your own. You need to be social and connect with people. This practice will also help you when you’re going into production. Because you have quality interaction with people, you can take those experiences and apply them to your project.All I’ve ever wanted to do is take stills of people, or take documentaries about people, and try to express to an audience how somebody lives next door.  You know what I mean? Just how similar we all are as individuals.What are your favorite pearls of wisdom for cinematographers? Share your advice in the comments below!last_img read more

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Exciting New Prospects for Lighting Your Future Set

first_imgIn the wake of the multiple announcements at this year’s IBC, let’s look at some of the newest and craziest lights about to hit the market.It’s a great time to be a filmmaker. Lights are getting lighter, cheaper, and brighter. They can be placed and powered in ways never before imagined. Here’s a few in review.ARRI OrbiterARRI is the undisputed king of cinema lighting. Between its SkyPanel LEDs and its M series HMIs, ARRI fixtures do most of the heavy illumination on professional film sets. While not cheap, they dominate the rental market because of their reliability and durability.Never ones to rest on their own laurels, ARRI introduced a totally new platform called the Orbiter. It’s a RGB LED spotlight with an internal ballast in a form factor that looks more like a generator than a light. This strange, chunky fixture is said to be as bright as a Tungsten 2K, but is actually fully RGB. It offers color effects, remote control, and a variety of detachable light modifiers ranging from super focused spotlight to soft spacelight. Shipping in early 2020, it’ll be around $7000 as a base price.Hudson SpiderThe brainchild of DP Tim Hudson, these multi-armed, parabolic folding arrays give a soft, focused light in places others can’t, such as boomed over a ballroom or strapped to a moving car. They have become a favorite “hero” light on several Marvel films, and other big Hollywood productions.If something is stopping them from becoming more widely adopted, it’s the $7400 price tag. Hudson just introduced the Mozzie, a smaller, more stripped down version — for less than half the price — that can be handheld as a follow fill or bounced into a 6” umbrella for a huge specular source, all powered from a single V-mount.Intellytech LiteCloth MegaLarge, foldable LED blankets have been on the market for some time now, but they’ve been outside the budget of most filmmakers. Then, Intellytech showed off their Mega. This 3’ x 4.5’ light is powered by mains or two V-mount batteries with a frame and a grid, all for less than $2000.It’s such a large, soft source that it doesn’t really need to be modified at all. Just point it at your subject and you have soft, bright light, right out of the box. This is great for high-end interviews that want that “MasterClass” aesthetic, but only have twenty minutes to spare.Digital Sputnik VoyagerA high end approach to the tube form factor, the Voyager is a two or four foot fixture that can be full RGB, but each LED in the array can be controlled independently. That means you can animate different colors or effects into the lights control, even when filming fire or the ocean. Then the light plays back that pattered of color and illumination as an effect. The Voyager really takes RGB to the next level. It’s almost a light projector rather than just a source of illumination.If that’s not enough, it’s also waterproof and the internal blast has its own rechargeable battery.Cover image by laplandr.Want more on lighting tips and gear? Check these out.Tips for Building DIY Lighting Setups for Under $100A Cheap Trick for Lighting a Daylight Interior Car SceneNature’s Lighting: A Guide on Shooting With or Against the SunFollow Fill: The Simple Solution to Lighting a Difficult SceneLighting in a Pinch: Five Tricks Using Your Mobile Phonelast_img read more

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Breaking Down the Role of the Video Editing Supervisor

first_imgWe cover everything you need to know about the Video Editing Supervisor, how to work with one, and how you can become one.While there are arguments to make about the value of every aspect of a film or video project’s production, I’ve always felt that the post-production process is truly the most important. Yes, a person writing a script wields unlimited possibility, and a pre-production team can decide on any manner of roles, styles, or locations. A director and a DP can build a world visually from the ground up. But it’s the post team — the video editors and motion artists — who ultimately bring everything together.The video editing process is where all the great pieces of the puzzle finally come together. And, more often than not, all the problems or mistakes contained therein get fixed. The final product is something everyone can be proud of.When you’re just starting off, whether you’re a solo producer and shooter or an aspiring editor learning the ropes, the editing process can seem pretty straightforward. You shoot footage, take it into the edit, and boom — you’re done.However, as you’ll quickly learn once you get into the world of turnkey video production companies and full-service post-production houses, the editing role quickly becomes very complicated, often requiring many different editors with many different specialties and roles.At the heart of these bigger post-production houses and workflows are the all-important video editing supervisors. So, let’s go over what the title is, what the role entails, and how to become one.What Is a Video Editing Supervisor?A Video Editing Supervisor has many roles in the editing process. (Image by FrameStockFootages.)A video editing supervisor is a person (or sometimes persons) who plans, coordinates, oversees, and reviews every step of a video edit in the post-production process.This is a middle-management type of role; a video editing supervisor works directly with clients to understand the scope of their video editing projects and to coordinate the work with a team of editors. These projects can be for a few simple edits or upwards of hundreds of individual videos and deliverables.Defining the Role and WorkflowThe Video Editing Supervisor oversees a number of technical aspects of a project. (Image by senrakawa.)While the role may vary from company to company, generally speaking, a video editing supervisor is directly above a team of editors. This includes any number of senior, junior, and assistant editors, as well as color correction and audio specialists, and all manner of motion graphics, 2D and 3D animators, and all post-production providers.In my experience, working in-house with a medium-sized, full-service video production company (with around twenty employees), the video editing supervisor would be the point person once a project wrapped shooting. All footage, assets, and information from clients goes to the video editing supervisor, who then directs the workflow.This often includes — but is not limited to — the following:Safely securing and backing up all footage.Organizing all footage, files, and assets.Creating a project timeline.Giving assignments, roles, and deadlines.Checking in and problem-solving setbacks.Organizing exports.Quality control reviews.Managing exports, uploads, etc.Organizing final deliverables.However, by its nature, a lot can go wrong or change during an edit. So, quite often, the video editing supervisor is the one who steps in to make the hard decisions on how to solve these problems. Are important shots out of focus? Did footage get corrupted during an upload? How much time does a motion graphic artist really need to animate a logo?These are questions and problems a video editing supervisor must solve quickly and creatively in the face of an impending deadline.How to Become a Video Editing SupervisorA successful Video Editing Supervisor needs to be able to manage a team and work well with individuals. (Image by Gorodenkoff.)In some ways, it makes sense to say that the video editing supervisor is simply the most senior member of the post-production team. However, that’s not always the case. A good video editing supervisor needs to have a solid background in video editing and understand at least the basics of every program, application, and role on the team.A supervisor also needs to be a good leader, manager, and organizer of many different moving parts. The best video editing supervisors I’ve worked for and with have been a good mix of both — knowledgeable and talented  but also good with people, providing positive support for the rest of the team.If you’re interested in becoming a video editing supervisor, I’d suggest you start as an editor, ideally with a larger company or team. From there, you can move up from assistant to junior to senior, while developing your craft and skills. If you enjoy communicating and working with others, you can branch into the management side of things — the video editing supervisor.Cover image by Gorodenkoff.For more video editing roles, insights, and advice, check out these resources below.The Best Video Editing Programs: Final Cut Pro vs. Premiere ProGlowing Results: Grading Skin Tones in DaVinci ResolveThe Secret to Motion Blur in Adobe Premiere ProA Guide on Soliciting Feedback and Review for Film DraftsPocket 4K and Pocket 6K Owners — BRAW Comes to Premiere Prolast_img read more

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How to End Your Dependence on a Subject Matter Expert

first_imgYou only need two things to be a trusted advisor. You need trust. And you need advice.If you must rely on a subject matter expert to provide the advice because you are not knowledgeable enough about your industry, your client’s industry, the issues impacting your client’s business, the potential solutions, and the trade-offs they may be required to make to produce better results, you can never be a trusted advisor.If you know nothing with the exception of the people on your team who do know things, you can never be your dream client’s go-to-person. You are just a guy who knows a guy.You can get better fast. You can learn most of what you need to know, without having to be as deep as the SME you carry around like a crutch.The NotebookThe first thing you need to do to bridge the gap in your knowledge is to buy a notebook. Get yourself one of those nice Moleskin notebooks, or maybe something from Baron Fig. Get something nice because you are going to carry it with you on every call you make—with or without a subject matter expert.You are going to capture your subject matter’s expert in this notebook.On any call where you need a subject matter expert, write down any question that your prospect or client asks them. Then write down their answer.When your subject matter asks your client a question, write down that question, along with the client’s answer.When your subject matter expert shares some insight or some piece of technical knowledge, write it down.If your subject matter is talking, you are listening and taking notes.Post Call TrainingWhen you debrief after the meeting, you are going to use that time to massively increase your knowledge and understanding. The goal is to rid yourself of your reliance on a subject matter expert and become one yourself.Ask your subject matter expert why your client asked them the questions that they asked and what makes it important to them. Then ask them why they answered they way the did, whether or not that’s a standard answer, and what another answer might have been and why it would have been wrong.Then, go through the questions your SME asked your client and ask why they asked what they asked, and why it was important. Have them explain the client’s answer, and what it means in terms of your potential solution.Repeat all of these things back to your subject matter expert to make sure you understand them.Not Knowing is Not Knowing NothingIt’s okay to not know things. It is not okay to know nothing.You will find that after repeating this process on five or six good sales call, you will start to understand a lot of what you need to know, and you will be able to ask and answer questions without the aid of a subject matter expert. This is a matter of intentions.When something is super technical, you can always bring the people you need to support you. But most of the time, especially early in the sales process, you will have the ability to create value for your client without any support. Essential Reading! Get my 2nd book: The Lost Art of Closing “In The Lost Art of Closing, Anthony proves that the final commitment can actually be one of the easiest parts of the sales process—if you’ve set it up properly with other commitments that have to happen long before the close. The key is to lead customers through a series of necessary steps designed to prevent a purchase stall.” Buy Nowlast_img read more

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Amnesty slams excesses during 2016 protests

first_imgAmnesty International has blamed security forces in Kashmir of “using arbitrary or excessive force against demonstrators on several occasions” during the 2016 summer protests.In its fresh report, Amnesty said: “In August, Shabir Ahmad Monga, a lecturer, was beaten to death by army soldiers. The security forces used arbitrary or excessive force against demonstrators on several occasions.”It pointed out that the killing of “a leader” of the Hizbul Mujahideen armed group in July sparked widespread protests.Pellet-firing shotguns“More than 80 people, mostly protesters, were killed in clashes and thousands injured. “At least 14 people were killed and hundreds blinded by security forces’ use of pellet-firing shotguns, which are inherently inaccurate and indiscriminate,” it said.It further stated that the Jammu and Kashmir government also imposed curfew, which lasted over two months. “Private landline, mobile and internet service providers suspended their services for weeks on orders from state authorities.“The communications shutdown undermined a range of human rights. Residents reported being unable to reach medical assistance in cases of emergencies,” it added.Curb on papersThe Amnesty report underlined that in July the state government prevented the publication of local newspapers in Kashmir for three days.In October, the government ordered a Srinagar-based newspaper to cease printing and publication on vague grounds.Administrative custodyIt alleged hundreds of people, including children, were placed in administrative detention. “In September, Khurram Parvez, a Kashmiri human rights defender, was arrested and detained for over two months on spurious grounds, a day after he was prevented from travelling to a UN Human Rights Council session in Geneva, Switzerland,” it said.It also pointed out the fact that “dozens of schools were set on fire by unidentified people”.last_img read more

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Tiny Orang roars on tiger density

first_imgOrang, the tiger reserve in Assam with the smallest core among 50 nationally protected areas, has presented wildlife scientists doing a census with a surprise: a high density of 28 big cats.The count was revealed during phase IV of the all-India tiger estimation programme of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).Spread over Darrang and Sonitpur districts and notified in February 2016, Orang Tiger Reserve is the 49th in the country. It has the smallest core of 78.28 sq. km., and the cat density was revealed during a census done between January and March 2017. Kamlang Tiger Reserve in Arunachal is the 50th and latest to be notified.Density is calculated based on the number of tigers per 100 sq. km. “If we calculate density of tigers for 100 sq. km., it comes to 35.44. Thus, Orang has the highest density nationally,” Sunnydeo Choudhary, the reserve’s field director, said.Estimates in 2013 had put the number of tigers here at 17.Four males foundMr. Choudhary said 24 camera trap images (17 females, four males and three as yet unidentified big cats) were taken during the exercise and the NTCA’s statistical model put the number of big cats in the reserve at 28.Preliminary estimates of prey, which is important to sustain higher tiger numbers, revealed a good population of hog deer, wild boar and wild buffalo. Tigers also feed on cattle that stray into the core from settlements outside, officials said.Describing the data as “very significant and interesting,” Kamal Azad, a biologist at NTCA’s regional office at Guwahati, said the presence of 30 to 35 cats in Orang should lead to a deeper study of tiger ecology in the landscape. “Whatever we know about tiger ecology is from reserves such as Corbett and Kanha. It has not been studied in the Brahmaputra flood plains like Kaziranga and Orang,” Mr. Azad said.A Wildlife Institute of India and NTCA report last year titled The Status of Tigers, Co-predators and Prey in India, said the density in Kaziranga National Park was 12.72 per 100 sq. km., followed by Jim Corbett National Park (11) in Uttarakhand and Bandipur National Park (10.28) in Karnataka.Core-buffer divisionOrang’s buffer area is 413.18 sq. km., but experts say the boundary between the core and buffer is sharp and not contiguous forest as in other reserves of Assam. Agni Mitra, regional director of Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and tiger biologist said the tiger reserves from Uttarakhand to Nepal, parts of Bihar and north Bengal and in Assam in the ‘Terai arc landscape” sustains grassland and a good prey base.last_img read more

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Five people beaten up on suspicion of carrying beef in Faridabad

first_imgIn yet another incident of cow vigilantism, a mob of around a hundred people has allegedly beaten up five persons, including an auto-rickshaw driver, near Gosi village in Faridabad on suspicion of carrying beef. While four have been discharged, one of the injured is recuperating at a hospital.According to the police, the mob surrounded and beat up auto-rickshaw driver and four persons suspecting them of carrying beef on Friday morning. The attackers recorded the entire incident on a mobile phone. Two First Information Reports (FIRs) have been registered in this connection at Mujesar Police Station.Station House Officer, Mujesar Police Station, Inspector Vinod Kumar said that efforts were being made to identify and arrest the accused involved in the attack. “We are trying to identify the accused based on the video clip. A case has been registered against them. None will be spared,” said Mr. Kumar.A case has also been registered against the victims on suspicion of carrying beef and the meat samples have been sent for forensic examination. “Since slaughtering of cow is an offence in Haryana, a case has been registered against the five men as well. The results of the meat sample are awaited,” said Faridabad Police spokesperson.last_img read more

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Heavy rain throws life out of gear in Odisha

first_imgTwo days of incessant rain triggered by a low-pressure area over the Bay of Bengal has thrown life out of gear in several parts of Odisha, with floodwaters submerging many areas in southern and coastal districts.Although there is no immediate threat of a high flood, disaster management authorities have kept officials on standby in view of heavy rainfall prediction by the India Meteorological Department in five districts on Tuesday.Heavy downpour in low-lying areas of Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Puri and Sambalpur on Monday caused trouble for residents as rainwater gushed into their houses. Several passengers had to be rescued from a bus stranded on a waterlogged road in front of ISKCON temple on NH-16 in Bhubaneswar. Fire service personnel had to pump out rainwater in many areas of Cuttack to bring respite to people. Heavy rain forced the Cuttack district administration to shut down schools. Knee-deep water was seen on many thoroughfares in Sambalpur city.14 labourers rescued At least 14 labourers were rescued by the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force from Udanti river near Chaparia village in Kalahandi district. Road communication to 15 villages in Lanjigarh block of the district was snapped due to the rain. Hati and Tel rivers in Kalahandi were reported to be in spate.last_img read more

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Akalis demand reduction of VAT on fuel to cut price

first_imgThe Shiromani Akali Dal on Saturday asked the ruling Congress government to reduce Value Added Tax on fuel to lower the prices of petrol and diesel or otherwise be ready to face a State-wide agitation.‘Govt. turned blind eye’Former Minister and senior SAD leader Bikram Singh Majithia said the Congress government had turned a blind eye to the suffering of the common man, especially farmers, by refusing to reduce petrol and diesel prices.“This despite an announcement made recently by Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar that the State would reduce its taxes on petro-products after the Centre did the same. Now that the Centre has taken this step, will Mr. Jakhar hold a dharna outside the office of the Finance Minister?” he asked.‘Don’t deny relief’“If within next two days fuel prices are not reduced by Punjab government, we will stage protests. Several State governments had effected an immediate reduction in fuel prices and there was absolutely no reason why the Punjab government should deny this relief to its people,” said Mr. Majithia.last_img read more

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Duped in Bitcoins purchase, U.P. man threatens to blow up U.S. airport

first_imgAn 18-year-old man was apprehended by the Uttar Pradesh ATS for allegedly making several calls to the Miami airport in the US and threatening to blow it up, an official said Saturday.Legal action was initiated against him, IG ATS Asim Arun said. The accused had purchased Bitcoins worth ₹1,000 but someone duped him, following which he lodged a complaint with the FBI, an American intelligence and security service, but did not get a desired response, he said. So the accused made several calls to the Miami airport and threatened to attack it.“I will come with AK47, grenade, suicide belt and kill everyone,” the man, whose identity was not disclosed, said in his calls. The FBI talked to the man but he continued making threat calls using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) from October 2 till October 31, the IG said.He was traced on the basis of IP address and during interrogation, he confessed, Arun said. The man will be chargesheeted in court. Section 41A of the CrPC does not require arrest, he said.last_img read more

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Tripura CM Biplab Deb warns ‘baiters’ in his government

first_imgTripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb quoted mythological character ‘Vibhishana’ to warn his baiters, both in the government as well as the ruling BJP. He said ‘baiters’ have no place in the society.Speaking to mediapersons in Agartala, Mr. Deb neither named ‘Vibhishanas’ nor indicated who they were, but said they would face the heat within two months from now. “They have to go away from the State, they have no place in our society”, Mr. Deb asserted.Though he made a general statement, it was attributed to a few of his ministerial colleagues. The Chief Minister has been speaking hard against his alleged baiters ever since social media platforms and webzines published fake stories about his alleged bitter personal life and purported divorce suit in a court at Delhi.Biplab Kumar Deb and his spouse came down heavily against circulation of fake news and even threatened to slap defamation case against those responsible. A freelance journalist was arrested and cases were registered against several individuals, including State Congress vice-president Tapas Dey, for posting fake news about the personal life of Chief Minister and his spouse.The Chief Minister was also unhappy with some leaders and ministers for remaining non-functional during the election campaigns for two Tripura Lok Sabha constituencies. Earlier, Bipalb Deb had quoted ‘surgical strike’ to hint actions he was contemplating against unnamed people in his party and the government.last_img read more

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What’s going on with Antarctic sea ice?

first_imgQ: What’s happening with Antarctic sea ice this year?A: The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) announced this week that the sea ice surrounding Antarctica reached its maximum extent—its widest halo around the continent—in 2014 on 22 September: more than 20 million square kilometers, which also set a record for the highest extent of sea ice around the continent since satellite measurements began in the late 1970s. (That area of “maximum extent” is actually the average extent from the previous 5 days.)Q: How does that compare with the loss of Arctic sea ice?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(*)A: Overall, this uptick in Antarctic sea ice is still only a fraction (about a third) of the rapid loss of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. According to NASA, the Arctic has lost about 54,000 square kilometers of ice per year, while the Antarctic has a net gain of about 19,000 square kilometers. This year, sea ice extent in the Arctic was the sixth lowest on record, at 5 million square kilometers on 17 September.Q: OK, but isn’t the planet warming up? Why is Antarctic sea ice growing at all? A: This enigma has puzzled scientists, and it’s an active area of research; both the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fourth (2007) and fifth (2013) assessment reports commented on it. The short answer is that while the overall climate is warming, it’s a complicated system: The warming climate is also changing weather patterns. Multiple studies have been looking into how these changes might affect sea ice extent: for example, changes in prevailing wind patterns or in the magnitude of ocean waves, both of which can herd the ice toward or away from the coast.And as scientists have begun to look more closely at what’s happening around Antarctica, one point stands out: While there is a net gain, that gain is actually the sum of even stronger increases and decreases in sea ice extent at different locations around the continent. Some places, like the Ross Sea, have seen growth of sea ice—but others, like the Bellingshausen Sea west of the Antarctic Peninsula, have seen significant sea ice loss. That could mean that changing wind patterns are sweeping warm air over some parts of the continent and cold air over others—which may in turn be influenced by the ozone hole in the atmosphere.Q: Why did Antarctic sea ice hit a record high this year?A: NSIDC notes a couple of possible factors. One, again, is changing wind patterns; in July, NSIDC noted that a strong-low pressure pattern over the Amundsen Sea during June had brought lower-than-usual temperatures. Another possible contribution is actually related to melting—of the continental ice sheet. Deep ocean water, which is relatively warm, has been melting portions of the ice sheet at its base. When that cold, fresh water enters the ocean, it forms an extra-chilly layer on the ocean surface around the continent. That’s another condition that favors sea ice growth. And, as Walt Meier of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center noted here, Antarctic sea ice already covers a huge area—it doesn’t take much growth for it to set a new record.”What we’re learning is, we have more to learn,” said Ted Scambos, lead scientist at NSIDC, in the agency’s press release this week.last_img read more

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Nigerian virologist delivers scathing analysis of Africa’s response to Ebola

first_imgVIENNA—After Oyewale Tomori finished his talk on Ebola here at the International Meeting on Emerging Diseases and Surveillance, there was stunned silence. Tomori, the president of the Nigerian Academy of Science, used his plenary to deliver a scathing critique of how African countries have handled the threat of Ebola and how corruption is hampering efforts to improve health. Aid money often simply disappears, Tomori charged, “and we are left underdeveloped, totally and completely unprepared to tackle emerging pathogens.”Trained as a veterinarian, Tomori was the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) regional virologist for the African region in 1995 during the Ebola outbreak in Kikwit in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). ScienceInsider sat down with him at the meeting in Vienna; questions and answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.Q: You said in your talk that Ebola was “swimming in an ocean of national apathy, denial, and unpreparedness.” What did you mean?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(*)A: We were totally unprepared. After the first cases occurred in West Africa, it took almost 3 months for WHO to know. When the first patient came to Sierra Leone and died, his son brought him back to Guinea and as far as Sierra Leone was concerned, it was Guinea’s problem. People abandoned their duty, they denied the problem, and when it became a big problem they became incapable of handling it.This is not the first time Ebola has appeared in Africa. There have been more than 20 outbreaks since 1976. Not one of them has been declared a global problem. Of course, circumstances are different this time. But if we had been prepared, if we had learned from the past, we wouldn’t be where we are today.Q: You seem angry.A: Yes, I am, because I know Africa has the capacity and the capability to solve most of her problems, but Africa will not enable her human resources to perform effectively and efficiently. African leaders have little or no respect for their experts and would rather act on advice from external sources. In the end, they become the experts on Africa’s problems, not the Africans. This is why I am angry with Africa.We have seen so many Ebola cases before, in the DRC, in Sudan, in Gabon. … Ebola is Africa’s problem. We should have put something in place. I remember in 1995, when we had the Kikwit epidemic, at the end we sat down at a table and discussed what we should do. There was a laboratory in Kinshasa built by the French; it was almost completed, but then abandoned. We had raised almost $2 million at the time. And we said: “Why not take a bit of that money and complete this lab and maintain it? Then at least when we have issues like this we can do quick testing.” But nothing happened. The carcass is still there. Each time I pass the place, I think: “What a waste.”Q: But your own country seems to have been prepared. Nigeria managed to contain the virus after it was carried to Lagos by a traveler in July. There were only 19 infections, and WHO called the containment of the virus “a spectacular success story.”A: We were not prepared, we were lucky. Patrick Sawyer was already sick when he arrived, so he went straight to the hospital. And because our doctors were on strike, the public hospitals were not open, so he went to a private hospital. If Sawyer had gone into a public hospital, we would have had a bigger problem.But within 2 to 3 days of Sawyer coming in, we knew it was Ebola from laboratory tests done in two of our university laboratories, and then action was taken. I praise Nigeria for that. We had this emergency center from the polio network and we brought people in and traced almost 1000 contacts. This was not passive tracing; people went to contacts’ homes on a daily basis.Q: So why are African countries so badly prepared? Is it a question of money?A: People say African countries are poor. But it’s not poverty. It’s misuse of what we have. As we are talking, with all the crises that are going on, the presidents of our countries are still traveling in the best of conditions. Some will come to New York in their private jets, although their national airlines collapsed years ago; in addition, they will bring along a long retinue of private, personal, and public assistants, all lodged in the best hotels. I am not saying the president should not be treated well, but these are issues we need to look at.Take my country: We do not have a national airline, but the number of private jets we have is more than all the airlines in Africa have together.It’s a matter of priorities. I do not believe there is an African country that cannot buy gloves for its staff. Personal protective equipment may be very costly, they may need assistance on that. But let us participate. As long as we are wringing hands waiting for the next glove to come, we will never be ready. There are certain things we can do now, with the resources we have.Q: So African leaders should be held more accountable for what they spend money on?A: GAVI [a public-private partnership that funds vaccines for low-income countries] just sanctioned Nigeria after a critical audit report. GAVI gave us money to do certain things, and we could not account for $2 million or $3 million of it. GAVI insisted that Nigeria must pay back that money, and the government agreed. But our government should not just agree to pay back the money, the government should find out who misused the money, get the money back from those persons and not from public coffers. And those people should be brought before the courts to answer for the deaths of the children who did not receive the vaccines that the GAVI money would have provided.Q: So how should African countries contribute to fighting the Ebola outbreak?A: To give you one example, there are 600 Nigerian health care workers who want to go to Liberia. But the process of getting them there has been going on for months. If the African team, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States, and the West African Health Organisation all get their acts together, there are more than enough people in Africa—health care workers from Gabon, DRC, Uganda, Sudan—who have experience with this.But we must find the funds to provide insurance for all national and international health workers who are currently working or have volunteered to work in the Ebola-affected areas of Africa. Bear in mind, in Africa we do not have a welfare system. I am the welfare system for my family, my brothers, my uncle. So when I go to an Ebola region, I am thinking of the 23 other people that depend on me. If there is no insurance, I will stay home.Q: There has been a lot of criticism of the WHO regional office in Africa.A: I am angry at them, too. They should take the lead of Ebola control efforts—not Geneva, not Washington, not New York. The [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] can help, [Doctors Without Borders] can assist, but it is WHO’s African region that should coordinate and take the lead. It’s all meetings and reports. Nothing on the ground.Q: As it happens, they are meeting in Benin this week; on the agenda is the election of a new regional director.A: These elections are just horse-trading. If the person who wants to get elected requires the vote from Nigeria for example, because it is the ministers of health who do the voting, I might say: “OK, I will vote for you, but I need one directorship from my country.” If he accepts that, he has to accept whoever I bring, regardless of how competent the person is. That is what has messed up Africa. WHO’s regional office has never been able to solve Africa’s problems because of this system of electing its leaders.You want to find the most competent person. Vote on that basis. Not because I visited you and I promised you this or that.Q: Do you think this unprecedented outbreak will change things?A: I wish I could say with confidence that in 10 years’ time we will not be where we are now with Ebola. But the countries have totally lost control of what is going on. If you go to Sierra Leone or Liberia today, there must be at least 10 international groups there. At the end of this epidemic, everybody will pack their bags and leave. The African countries will be left not really knowing what has happened to them. Like someone hit them smack in the face, totally disoriented. There will be millions of scandals about how money was misspent and so on. We will focus on those and move on. Ten years from now, people will have forgotten that there was Ebola and we will be back to where we started.*The Ebola Files: Given the current Ebola outbreak, unprecedented in terms of number of people killed and rapid geographic spread, Science and Science Translational Medicine have made a collection of research and news articles on the viral disease freely available to researchers and the general public.last_img read more

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Unwelcome In America

first_imgThe recent public furor over the denial of visas to three prominent Indian scientists by the U.S. Consulate in Chennai has cast some welcome light on a dysfunctional visa regime that harasses and humiliates hundreds of thousands of visitors to the United States every year. Goverdhan Mehta, 62, an internationally recognized organic chemist, president of the Paris-based International Council for Science (ICSU), and former director of the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, applied for a U.S. visa to lecture at the University of Florida, Gainesville, and participate at an international conference. Mehta, who has traveled to the United States over a dozen times previously, nonetheless found himself being grilled at the mandatory interview at the consulate over the prospects of his research being used for “chemical warfare.” When he protested that it could not, a consulate officer accused him of not being honest. “To tell a scientist of any standing he is deceptive about his research, there cannot be a bigger affront,” Mehta told the local media. “I certainly felt very humiliated.”Another scientist Placid Rodriguez, a nuclear metallurgist, decided to abandon his visa request in February after the consulate asked him to complete a questionnaire, which it said would take eight weeks to process, well after the minerals and metals conference he was proposing to attend in San Antonio, Texas, on March 12. Biologist P.C. Kesavan, of the M S Swaminathan Research Institute in Chennai, who was made to spend hours waiting outside the consulate, was similarly told that his visa application would be delayed. Kesavan was quoted in the Indian media as saying that his encounter with the U.S. consulate was the “most demeaning and humiliating experience.”The U.S. and the international scientific communities weighed in on the controversy and in the shadows of George Bush’s visit to India, the U.S. Embassy back-pedaled, apologized to the scientists and approved visas for Mehta and Rodriquez. However, Mehta, still smarting over the ordeal, declared that he no longer plans to visit the United States, as did Kesavan. The international tempest over the experience of these scientists has obscured, however, the time-consuming and humiliating ordeal to which U.S. visa seekers all over India are subjected on a daily basis, notwithstanding the state department’s radiant promise that “travel to the United States is welcomed and encouraged” and that applicants would be treated with “dignity and respect.”The U.S. Embassy in India requires all visa applicants, even tourists, to appear for a personal interview, obligating most to travel hundreds of miles. Every day, hundreds of Indians stand in lines for hours on end before being subject to abrupt and demeaning questions from U.S. consular officers and often irrational demands and suspicious examinations of their documents and motives. The typical wait time for a visitor visa interview appointment is 79 days in New Delhi, 86 days in Calcutta, 135 days in Chennai and153 days in Mumbai.The arbitrary and discretionary authority of consular officers is subject neither to due process nor appeals. The U.S. Embassy in India will not even disclose the proportion of visa requests it rejects, acknowledging only that it approved 313,815 visas in 2005.No one disputes that the United States has the right to regulate the flow of people across its borders. But there is no reason why the visa process needs be irrational, arbitrary, time-consuming or humiliating.As Wendy White, director of the Board of International Scientific Organizations, observes: “If you tell an American, ‘If you want a visa to go to India, you have to go to Dallas, Chicago, L.A. or New York, and while you are there, you are going to be fingerprinted, photographed and asked about everything you have done in your research for the last 40 years,’ we would find this procedure untenable as Americans.” But that is precisely the outrageous practice to which hundreds of thousands of Indian visitors to the United States are subjected every year.The current furor over the Indians scientists should not be quelled by granting them visas so as not to distract from the hoopla over George Bush’s India visit. It is time to overhaul and streamline the visa granting process so that travelers are welcomed and treated with the dignity and respect they deserve and that the state department pledges. Related Itemslast_img read more