Food Grains Availability to the Needy a Point of Concern: NHRC Chief

Indicating the urgent need of strengthening the country’s food policies, National Human Rights Commission Chairman Justice (retired) H.L. Dattu on Thursday said there was an improvement in the food grain production but making it available to the needy remains a point of concern.

Justice Dattu, former Chief Justice of India, stressed it was painful to know that 15 percent of food worth Rs.92,000 crore per year is wasted during production, harvesting, transportation and storage.

“Food security has to be read and studied with agricultural practices and the challengesfacing them in the wake of falling ground water levels at a rapid speed is causing an alarming situation of drought in several districts,” said Justice Dattu.

Food Grains Availability to the Needy a Point of Concern: NHRC Chief

He was speaking at the inauguration of the national conference on Right To Food organised by the National Human Rights Commission.

The conference aimed to make a state-wise assessment of the action taken on the National Food Security Act, 2013. Special reference was to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people and the functioning of the targeted public distribution system for the priority households and under the Antodaya Anna Yojana (AAY).

Justice Dattu said it was always useful and pragmatic to hold comprehensive discussions on regular intervals with all the stake holders to evaluate the progress and impediments towards ensuring food and nutritional security to the people of the country.

The Right to Food and its variations is a human right protecting the right of people to feed themselves in dignity, implying that sufficient food is available, that people have the means to access it, and that it adequately meets the individual’s dietary needs.

The former justice, who took over as the NHRC chairperson a month ago, urged the government to expand the scope of discussions on various aspects of the National Food Security Act, 2013.

“There are several food schemes such as the Antodaya Yojna, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), mid-day meal scheme and many others. There has been no dearth in the number of policies and programmes in food issues. However, the question can be raised on the effectiveness of the programmes,” said Justice Dattu.

He said the Supreme Court emphasised on the appointment of commissioners and other officials to look after the food issues in the country, which has improved the situation and proper implementation of the rights to food in many of the states.

“The Supreme Court issued a series of interim orders recognising the constitutional Right to Food as flowing from the right to life and providing directives on proper implementation of various programmes like the ICDS and PDS. The apex court also ordered the creation of a new accountability mechanism, like commissioners for monitoring and reporting on compliance with court orders,” Justice Dattu said.

The event was attended by representatives of all the state human rights commissions.

Is Red Meat Making You Age Faster?

A diet containing too much red meat and not enough fruits and vegetables could increase your body’s ‘biological age’ and lead to health problems, according to a latest research. Research led by the University of Glasgow and published today in Aging, has found that a moderate increase in serum

phosphate levels caused by red meat consumption, combined with a poor overall diet, increases biological age (miles on the clock) in contrast to chronological age (years of age).

Is Red Meat Making You Age Faster?

The study, which looked at participants from the most deprived to the least deprived in the NHS Greater Glasgow Health Board area, also demonstrates that deprived males were the worst affected. Data from the study suggests that accelerated biological ageing, and dietary derived phosphate levels among the most deprived males, were directly related to the frequency of red meat consumption.

Researchers believe that excess red meat particularly affects this group because of their poor diet and “sub-optimal fruit and vegetable intake”. The research, led by the Institute of Cancer Sciences in

collaboration with the Karolinska Institute (Stockholm, Sweden), also found that high phosphate levels in deprived males correlated with reduced kidney function and even underlying mild to moderate chronic kidney disease.

“The data in this study provides evidence for a mechanistic link between high intake of phosphate and age-related morbidities tied to socio-economic status,” Professor Paul Shiels said.

“Our observations indicate that elevated red meat consumption has adverse effects amongst deprived males, who already have a poor diet and eat less fruit and vegetables than recommended. We think in this group the effects of high serum phosphate intake may be exacerbated,” he added.

Indeed it’s notable that these effects are not apparent among less deprived males, or in females, especially in the context of a more balanced diet.

Phosphate is naturally present in basic foodstuffs, including meats, fish, eggs, dairy products and vegetables. Intestinal absorption of naturally occurring phosphate is minimally regulated, as absorption is efficient, hence high supplementation results in markedly elevated levels of serum phosphate, which can have adverse health consequences. This research has taken place as a part of the psychological, social, and biological determinants of ill health (pSoBid) study cohort, originally funded by the Glasgow

Centre for Population Health.

The study, ‘Accelerated Ageing and Renal Dysfunction Links Lower Socioeconomic Status and Dietary Phosphate Intake’ is published in Aging.

Why Solar-Powered Planes Are Still a Long Way From Carrying Passengers

Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard made headlines on Saturday when he glided a solar-powered plane onto Moffett Airfield in California after a three-day journey across the Pacific Ocean. It’s the most recent stop in an around-the-world trip that began in Abu Dhabi last spring and is intended to raise awareness about the importance of reducing carbon emissions through the use of clean energy.

The plane itself, “Solar Impulse 2,” is a true zero-fuel aircraft, powered by more than 17,000 solar cells. It’s designed to carry just one pilot – Piccard and his colleague André Borschberg have been tag-teaming the journey around the world – and has the wingspan of a jumbo jet, although it weighs only two tons.

Why Solar-Powered Planes Are Still a Long Way From Carrying Passengers

The daring trans-Pacific flight has drawn global interest to the concept of electric planes, which have existed in various forms for several decades now. Some designs rely on solar cells, while others use various types of batteries, but the overall goal is the same: to achieve flight with minimal or no fuel burning.

Electric aircraft are among the more ambitious technologies being researched around the world in an effort to reduce carbon emissions from aviation. It’s a cause that’s rapidly gaining international attention. Aviation is currently responsible for about 1 percent of all the world’s carbon emissions – and as air traffic is expected to experience rapid growth in the coming decades, that proportion could quickly climb if no steps are taken to improve the fuel efficiency of aircraft. Some estimates have suggested that by 2020, emissions from aviation could be 70 percent higher than they were in 2005.

To that end, the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) proposed the world’s first carbon dioxide emissions standards for aircraft back in February. And while some environmentalists have argued that the proposal did not go far enough, the action has placed aircraft emissions on the international radar – and scientists around the world are researching ways to reduce them.

Electric flight, however, may be among the technologies that are furthest from becoming practical. So far, most of the electric planes that have achieved flight have only been able to accommodate one or two people, and it will likely be at least a decade or two before the technology will progress to the point that it’s commercially viable.

“The big challenge is the batteries,” said David Zingg, director of the University of Toronto’s Institute for Aerospace Studies. For electric planes to become competitive, their power sources need to be able to store more energy per unit mass – otherwise, their speed and weight capacities will remain impractically low.

Angry Birds Action! Brings Angry Birds to Life

One of the earliest poster children for mainstream mobile gaming success, Angry Birds has come a full circle. From a being a smartphone game to a movie, there’s now a game to celebrate the movie’s release. It’s available on Android and iOS right now. And unlike Sony’s Ratchet & Clank reimagining on the PS4, it utilises augmented reality (AR) to a large degree.

Dubbed as Angry Birds Action!, Rovio has partnered with AR firm Zappar to bring the titular Angry Birds to life. Using Zappar’s zap code tech, fans can scan codes to unlock characters, AR mini-games, photo-features and a whole lot more in the way of interactive experiences.

Angry Birds Action! Brings Angry Birds to Life

“Imagine if everyday objects could unlock fun and exclusive content when scanned with a mobile device. With Angry Birds we’ve done just that– working closely in partnership with Rovio we’ve been able to deliver a hidden world of stackable experiences and in-game power-ups via BirdCodes on participating products and promotions to surprise and delight users,” said Caspar Thykier, Co-founder and CEO of Zappar. “This is the biggest and most truly integrated augmented reality project to date, with BirdCodes appearing on apparel, toys, cups, POS, and even candy dispensers across the world. Together with Rovio, we’ve set a new bar to bring AR to the mass market in a meaningful and rewarding way,” Thykier added.

“With the help of Zappar and our other partners we have put the Angry Birds characters and story at the centre of a truly 360-degree experience this summer, bringing the story world to life in a new way both for our heavily engaged fan base and newcomers alike,” said Miika Tams, VP Games at Rovio. “Angry Birds Action! is the cornerstone of our comprehensive Digital Movie Program, which bridges digital and physical entertainment like never before, and with more than 1 billion BirdCodes to be found out in the wild, at a scale never seen before either,” Tams said.

Some of the places you can claim these BirdCodes includes McDonald’s and H&M. While it’s unclear at this point of time if this promotion would make its way to India as well, Zappar does claim it would take place in 50 markets across the globe.

While Rovio’s past few quarters have resulted in a spate of layoffs, hopefully its much-awaited movie release should stem the tide. Angry Birds isn’t as popular as it used to be and without a massive follow-up in sight, diversifying the brand across other media such as movies seems like the shrewd way forward.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered to Ship With Multiplayer

Earlier in the week we reported that the upcoming Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare has a Legacy Edition that ships with a remaster of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Now, more information has surfaced on what you can expect from the remaster of the 2007 classic.

The source is a leaked poster that found its way to Reddit. With its pricing and date format, it is quite possibly for the Canadian version of the game. But what’s most interesting is that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered will not only ship with its stellar single-player campaign but have multiplayer as well.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered to Ship With Multiplayer: Report

According to the poster, Modern Warfare will feature 10 multiplayer maps, not all the multiplayer content its entirety though. It goes on to reconfirm the November 4 release date of the previous leak.

Don’t expect it to be on disc though, as per previous reports “Modern Warfare Remastered is full game digital download.”

It’s a shrewd move from Activision to bundle Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare with a remaster of one of the better first-person shooters of the previous generation, which should bring back fans of the older games in the series.

Previously it was discovered that this entry in the long-running series will be set in space. The sourcewas Shinobi, a regular on popular gaming forum NeoGAF. He claims it will be “Very far future. Space combat. Full on sci-fi.”

All of this comes days after video game critic Jim Sterling tweeted that the game will be revealed by next Tuesday and would be listed in stores as well. Looks like we won’t have to wait long for an official reveal.

Hitman: Episode 2

After a solid albeit technically poor debut, Hitman’s second episode, called World of Tomorrow is now available digitally on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. It takes place in the coastal town of Sapienza, Italy. Is it a return to form or a damp squib? Read on to find out.

Your mission is to assassinate two scientists working on a designer virus that could put your employers, the ICA out of business, aside from well, leaving the world in chaos. Honourable (or not so honourable) intentions aside, you’re also tasked with destroying the said virus.

While it might sound like a script out of a cheesy 1990s action movie, the reality is a lot more understated. Akin to the Paris mission, you’ll infiltrate the location and keep an eye out for opportunities to complete your goals or simply turn it into a playground of death – and a rather opulent one at that. There’s a golf course, bio-lab, projector room, graveyard, and a whole lot more you can use to your advantage.

hitman_sapienza_mansion.jpg

The sprawling environs open up a host of ways to play from the outset. They also allow for a sense of bravado, letting you gun and run, using the surroundings to your advantage as well as compensating for the lacklustre gunplay. But if that’s how you’re playing Hitman, you’re probably doing it wrong. More than that, you won’t be making complete use of all the possibilities at your disposal, some of which are obvious from the beginning.

Don the disguise of the mansion’s hired help, masquerade as a delivery boy for a florist or simply sneak in – right from the get go, developer IO Interactive gives you ample means to get started. This extends to your assassination methods as well. There are the all but obvious tools of the trade such as the silenced pistol, fibre wire, and poison to name a few. Sapienza also lends itself to some rather unique means. These include using an exploding golf ball or decking yourself up as a statue of a medieval plague doctor waiting for the right moment to strike.

Compared to Paris which took a few tries before one could figure out what approach works to complete objectives, even ones as simple as getting to a specific location, Sapienza is a lot more free-flowing and accessible. This is due to the intricacies and details that are bound to please hardcore fans and newcomers alike. Thanks to colourful, varied art direction, Hitman: Episode 2 – Sapienza doesn’t get boring either.

hitman_sapienza_biolab.jpg

However there is one glaring point of concern. With the previous episode setting things up nicely in terms of an overarching story, Episode 2 does little to take things forward. There isn’t much in the way of a narrative payoff and it comes across as remarkably light on plot.

To compound this, it isn’t entirely free of issues we highlighted in our review of the first episode. The game’s perplexing online requirement exists despite the backlash from consumers. On the plus side, the experience wasn’t as erratic this time around. Playing through Sapienza for around five hours over the course of a couple of days we were subject to all of one disconnection error.

Apart from this, Hitman: Episode 2 – Sapienza runs smooth sticking to a consistent 30 frames per second. Enabling the game’s variable frame rate option does result in some tearing and a few mangled textures but barring that, its less choppy than the first episode was at launch on the PS4.

hitman_sapienza_sniper.jpg

If Hitman’s Paris mission was an indication that thoughtful, complex level design was not dead, Sapienza appears to be the full expression of it. It doesn’t guarantee that the upcoming episodes will be as good but it does wonders to elevate a game that was under criticism for its staggered release. This alone warrants checking Hitman: Episode 2 – Sapienza out.

Pros:

  • Improves over the first mission in almost every way.
  • Slick art direction.
  • Consistently great attention to detail.

Cons

  • Still sports a ridiculous always online requirement.
  • Light on story.

Practitioners Seek Standards for Ayurveda Medicines

Ayurveda practitioners seek standards for Ayurvedic medicines

Ayurveda practitioners from across the country assembled to sought standards for Ayurvedic medicines to popularize Ayurveda and create more awareness among people about its health benefits. They also sought from the Centre substantial hike in funding for Ayurveda for research work and creating health infrastructure across the country.

Practitioners Seek Standards for Ayurveda Medicines

“Standards for Ayurveda medicines should be formed in order to create awareness among people about its health benefits,” All India Ayurveda Congress President Devender Triguna said. Recently, All India Ayurveda Congress has held its 58th session here which was attended by President Pranab Mukherjee

Vaidyas (who practice Ayurveda) pointed out that it was essential to come out with standards or certification for Ayurveda medicines so as to make it more popular among people about its “purity”. “Our strength is purity and there should be standard to measure it. The standards for Ayurveda medicines should be set like we have ISI mark which will help in building more confidence among people about its remedies,” said Ayurveda medicine maker Shree Dhootapapeshwar, ED, Ranjit Puranik.

President Pranab Mukherjee had asked to “demystify and popularize” Ayurvedic medicine through “informative marketing and user-friendly packaging”. “Ayurveda and Siddha had laid down protocols for treating diseases that resembled diseases that we know today as HIV and tuberculosis,” Mukherjee had said.

Presently, the combined market of Ayurvedic medicines along with naturopathy, Unani is pegged at Rs. 14,000 crore, growing at a rate of 12-14 per cent per annum. Triguna further demanded from the Centre to earmark at least 20 per cent of total health budget for Ayurveda, saying it was essential for carrying out research in this oldest form of medicine and building necessary infrastructure in this regard.

Japan Abandons Costly X-Ray Satellite Lost in Space

Japan’s space agency has abandoned its efforts to restore the operations of a multimillion-dollar satellite that was to probe the mysteries of black holes using X-ray telescopes.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency announced Thursday that it would stop trying to fix the satellite after determining that it was “highly likely” that its two solar arrays had broken off at their bases.

Contact was lost with the satellite on March 26, more than a month after its launch from southern Japan on February 17.

Japan Abandons Costly X-Ray Satellite Lost in Space

The satellite, named Hitomi, was much larger than previous Japanese scientific satellites, measuring 14 meters (46 feet) in length and weighing 2.7 tons. It was designed to study X-rays emitted by black holes and other objects in space. The X-rays cannot be detected on Earth, because they are blocked by its atmosphere.

The space agency initially thought it had received signals from the lost satellite on three occasions, but later concluded that the frequencies of the communications indicated they were not from Hitomi.

Nasa was a principal partner in the Japan-led mission, which involved eight other nations, including Canada and the Netherlands.

Japan’s Kyodo News agency reported that Japan spent about JPY 31 billion ($290 million) on the project, and Nasa had invested about $70 million.

SpaceX Targets 2018 for First Mars Mission

SpaceX plans to send an unmanned Dragon spacecraft to Mars as early as 2018, the company said on Wednesday, a first step in achieving founder Elon Musk’s goal to fly people to another planet.

US space agency Nasa, which is aiming for a human mission to Mars in the 2030s, said it will provide technical support for SpaceX’s first foray, known as Red Dragon.

SpaceX Targets 2018 for First Mars Mission

SpaceX “could provide valuable entry, descent and landing data to Nasa for our journey to Mars, while providing support to American industry,” Nasa said in a statement.

The announcement marks SpaceX’s first target date for its unmanned mission to Mars.

The SpaceX program is intended to develop technologies needed for human transportation to Mars, a long-term aim for Musk’s privately held company, which is formally known as Space Exploration Technologies.

The company said it will provide details of its Mars program at the International Astronautical Congress in September.

“Dragon 2 is designed to be able to land anywhere in the solar system,” Musk posted on Twitter. “Red Dragon Mars mission is the first test flight.”

He said that with an internal volume about the size of a sports utility vehicle, the Dragon spacecraft would be uncomfortable for people making the long journey to Mars.

Musk, a billionaire entrepreneur who helped to found Tesla Motors and PayPal, started SpaceX in 2002 with the goal of slashing launch costs to make Mars travel affordable.

SpaceX intends to debut its Mars rocket, a heavy-lift version of the Falcon 9 booster currently flying, later this year.

The company recently has made spaceflight history by returning Falcon 9 rockets to landing pads on land and sea – key to Musk’s quest to develop a relatively cheap, reusable launch vehicle.

SpaceX now flies cargo versions of its Dragon capsule to and from the International Space Stationunder a $2 billion resupply services contract with Nasa.

SpaceX also is upgrading the capsules to carry astronauts, with test flights to the station scheduled for 2017, under a separate Nasa contract worth up to $2.6 billion.

Nasa does not plan to provide financial assistance to SpaceX’s Mars mission. The agency is investing in its own heavy-lift rocket, capsule and launch pad modifications targeting Mars travel.

By the time Nasa expects to debut a test flight in lunar orbit with astronauts onboard in 2023, the agency will have spent about $24 billion on the program, an April 2016 Government Accountability Office report shows.

iPhone 7 Plus Leaked Schematics Tip Dual Camera, Smart Connector

The anticipated iPhone 7 Plus aka iPhone 7 Pro aka iPhone Pro’s schematics have been leaked by a Japanese magazine, hinting at a dual-camera setup and a Smart Connector like seen in iPad Pro models. The schematics also show the omission of a 3.5mm headphone jack, something that has been rumoured for the upcoming iPhone models since quite a while. However, there is no difference in thickness compared to the iPhone 6s Plus.

According to the schematics of the ‘iPhone Pro’ shared by Macotakara, Apple may not drastically redesign the iPhone 7 Plus model. However, the rear camera cut out at the back panel is seen to be wider than on the iPhone 6s Plus, indicating Apple may place the rumoured dual-camera setup there. This already has been rumoured several times before.

iPhone 7 Plus Leaked Schematics Tip Dual Camera, Smart Connector, and More

A Smart Connector placed at the bottom of the back panel is also visible hinting a new method to charge the smartphone. Details are however scarce at the moment. This could also result in better battery cases and docks. Also missing are the antenna lines on the back panel, meaning Apple may have managed to hide them elsewhere – or that the schematics do not show antenna lines.

Largely, the design seen in the image will remain the same as the iPhone 6s or the iPhone 6s Plus. The front-panel and the side buttons stay the same in terms of design. Curiously, there is no cut out seen for the 3.5mm headphone jack further cementing the rumours that Apple might finally ditch the port in favour of the USB Type-C. However, while previous reports had indicated Apple would reduce the thickness of the smartphone alongside removing the 3.5mm headphone jack, the leaked schematics show the same thickness as the iPhone 6s Plus, at 7.3mm.

Since Apple is yet to confirm any of these aforementioned claims, all of them should be taken with a bit of scepticism. Intel is expected to make cellular modems for the rumoured iPhone 7 – another claim that needs to be confirmed.