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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

March 19, 2019

Liverpool’s Van Dijk backs Salah to rediscover scoring touch

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah in action. Photo: Reuters

LONDON: Mohamed Salah has failed to score in seven consecutive Liverpool games but team mate Virgil van Dijk says it is only a matter of time before the goals come for the Egyptian forward.

Salah, who scored 44 goals for Liverpool last season and helped them reach the Champions League final, has notched 20 goals in 41 games in all competitions, with 17 of them coming in the league.

“People can say all they want but I think all the teams in the Premier League would love to have him in their side,” defender Van Dijk told the club website.

“The goals will come. That’s something for a striker that is maybe going to be in your head but we tell him every time: you just need to keep working, keep going and you will be fine.”


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March 19, 2019

Guardiola praying his players return injury-free for quadruple bid

Manchester City players pose for a team group photo before the match. Photo: Reuters

LONDON: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola hopes his players return injury-free from the international break this month for a hectic run of fixtures that could define the Premier League champions’ season.

City play eight fixtures in 29 days after the international break with the club fighting on three fronts — the league, FA Cup and Champions League — as they seek a quadruple having already won the League Cup last month.

They are currently second in the league with a game in hand, two points behind leaders Liverpool, while Guardiola’s side also advanced to the FA Cup semi-finals and the Champions League quarter-finals.

“I pray that they come back fit,” Guardiola told City’s website. “They have to go to their national teams… enjoy and play for their country, but I hope they can come back fit like they are now.

“I just want them fit and here… With the fixtures we have in April we need everybody, it’s crazy.”

Guardiola confirmed those not involved with their national teams would have a week’s rest before returning to training but counted on his injured players to make a comeback and contribute in any way possible.

“Everybody is going to play and Kevin (De Bruyne), Fernandinho, John (Stones), Benjamin (Mendy) — they are all going to be back soon and we need them. Even if some play 10 or 15 minutes here and there,” Guardiola added.

“We need everybody because we have got to this stage where we are still in with a chance of winning three more trophies because of everybody. Not just 11 players, but everyone.”

City’s next game is a league trip to relegation strugglers Fulham on March 30.


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March 19, 2019

Cyclone hit millions across Africa in record disaster: UN

A general view shows destruction after Cyclone Idai in Beira, Mozambique, March 16-17, 2019 in this still image taken from a social media video on March 19, 2019. Photo: Reuters

MAPUTO/HARARE: Cyclone winds and floods that swept across southeastern Africa affected more than 2.6 million people and could rank as one of the worst weather-related disaster recorded in the southern hemisphere, UN officials said on Tuesday.

Rescue crews are still struggling to reach victims five days after Cyclone Idai raced in at speeds of up to 170 kph (105 mph) from the Indian Ocean into Mozambique, then its inland neighbours Zimbabwe and Malawi.


Aid groups said many survivors were trapped in remote areas, surrounded by wrecked roads, flattened buildings and submerged villages.

“There’s a sense from people on the ground that the world still really hasn’t caught on to how severe this disaster is,” Matthew Cochrane, spokesman for International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, told a UN briefing in Geneva.

“The full horror, the full impact is only going to emerge over coming days,” he added.

The official death count in Mozambique stands at 84 – but its president Filipe Nyusi said on Monday he had flown over some of the worst-hit zones, seen bodies floating in rivers and now estimated more than 1,000 people may have died there.

The cyclone hit land near Mozambique’s port of Beira on Thursday and moved inland throughout the weekend, leaving heavy rains in its wake on Tuesday.

Studies of satellite images suggested 1.7 million peole were in the path of the cyclone in Mozambique and another 920,000 affected in Malawi, Herve Verhoosel, senior spokesman at the UN World Food Programme said. It gave no figures for Zimbabwe.


Several rivers had broken their banks, or were about to, leaving a huge area covered by the waters, and only accessible by air and water, Lola Castro, WFP regional director for Southern Africa, told the UN briefing by phone from Johannesburg.

Heavy rains preceded the cyclone, compounding the problems, said Clare Nullis of the UN World Meteorological Organization said .

“It the worst fears are realised … then we can say that it is one of the worst weather-related disasters, tropical-cyclone-related disasters in the southern hemisphere.” Droughts are classed as climate-related not weather-related.

In Beira, a low-lying coastal city of 500,000 people, Nullis said the water had nowhere to drain. “This is not going to go away quickly,” she said.

Beira is also home to Mozambique’s second largest port, which serves as a gateway to landlocked countries in the region.

The control room of a pipeline that runs from Beira to Zimbabwe and supplies the majority of that country’s fuel had been damaged, Zimbabwe’s Energy Minister Jorum Gumbo told state-owned Herald newspaper on Tuesday.

“We, however, have enough stocks in the country and I am told the repairs at Beira may take a week,” he was quoted as saying.



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March 19, 2019

Police to arrest anyone who plays Holi without consent

Kathmandu, March 19

Kathmandu Metropolitan Police are initiating a special security plan for Wednesday’s Holi festival. Police have said they will arrest anyone who applies colours or throws water balloons without consent.

A meeting of the District Security Committee has come up with other rules and regulation for this year’s Holi festival.

SSP Basanta Kumar Lama said that anyone showing abusive behaviour will be arrested immediately. “Anyone who has been hit by a water balloon without consent can call us at 100 and we will take actions accordingly,” said Lama.

Lama informed that Metropolitan Police had already prepared a work plan and said that around 1,700 police will be mobilised on Wednesday. “We want people to enjoy but we also want them to be civilised,” he said.

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March 19, 2019

Gunmen kill five miners in Ethiopia, TV says foreigners among dead

NAIROBI: Gunmen in Ethiopia have shot and killed five workers from a mining company in the restive west on Tuesday, residents said, with a TV station reporting two foreigners among the dead.

The unidentified attackers struck near Nedjo town, about 500 km (310 miles) from the capital Addis Ababa in the Oromiya region where several conflicts simmer, the inhabitants told Reuters.

State-affiliated Fana Broadcasting said on Twitter three Ethiopians and two foreign nationals had died in the incident early on Tuesday. It did not give their countries.

The huge region is home to Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, and has at least four separate conflicts in addition to a border dispute constantly threatening violence.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, himself an Oromo, has overseen a series of major political and economic changes since coming to office in April 2018 – making peace with arch-foe Eritrea, freeing political prisoners, pledging to open up the state-controlled economy and promising to overhaul security services.

But the reforms have not stopped ethnically-charged violence – including in his own native region.

Ethiopia’s Oromo, who make up about a third of the population, have long complained of being marginalized during decades of authoritarian rule by governments led by politicians from other smaller ethnic groups. In recent years the Oromo have been angered by what they see as encroachment on their land.

It was unclear which mining company was involved in Tuesday’s incident.

Among companies operating in Ethiopia are MIDROC Gold Mine Plc owned by Ethiopian-born Saudi billionaire Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi, which has operated an open-cast mine in the Guji zone of Oromia region for more than two decades.

Its licence was suspended last year after weeks of protests by locals who accused the mine of polluting their water and the atmosphere.

Others are Newmont Mining, which is prospecting for gold, while Norwegian fertiliser maker Yara International plans to build a potash mine and a fertiliser factory.

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March 19, 2019

Smith and Warner can fire Australia to World Cup glory says Warne

File: Australia’s David Warner and Steve Smith. Photo: Reuters

MELBOURNE: Australia will welcome back Steve Smith and David Warner with “open arms” when their international bans expire and their inclusion will boost the team’s chances of winning this year’s World Cup, former leg-spinner Shane Warne has said.

Smith and Warner were suspended for 12 months for their roles in a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa last year and can return to top-level cricket at the end of the month.

While the bans end in time for the pair to play the final two one-day internationals of the five-match series against Pakistan, neither was included in the squad as they are both recovering from recent elbow surgery.

“I think Smith and Warner will be accepted with open arms. They have done their time. They are not bad people, they just made a bad mistake,” Warne, who claimed 708 wickets for Australia in 145 tests, told Sky Sports.

“When you have got that sort of class as a cricketer, they will go straight back into the World Cup squad.”

World champions Australia picked up a 3-2 ODI series win in India, gathering momentum in time for the May 30-July 14 World Cup in England and Wales.

“The way Australia are playing at the moment, I wouldn’t write them off and I think they can win the World Cup,” Warne added.

“They just beat India in the T20 series and to chase 360 in India without Smith and Warner is an ominous sign for the rest of the World Cup competition.”


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March 19, 2019

New evidence for a human magnetic sense that lets your brain detect the Earth’s magnetic field

ASSOCIATED PRESS: Do human beings have a magnetic sense? Biologists know other animals do. They think it helps creatures including bees, turtles and birds navigate through the world.

Scientists have tried to investigate whether humans belong on the list of magnetically sensitive organisms. For decades, there’s been a back-and-forth between positive reports and failures to demonstrate the trait in people, with seemingly endless controversy.

The mixed results in people may be due to the fact that virtually all past studies relied on behavioural decisions from the participants. If human beings do possess a magnetic sense, daily experience suggests that it would be very weak or deeply subconscious. Such faint impressions could easily be misinterpreted – or just plain missed – when trying to make decisions.

So our research group – including a geophysical biologist, a cognitive neuroscientist and a neuroengineer – took another approach. What we found arguably provides the first concrete neuroscientific evidence that humans do have a geomagnetic sense.

How does a biological geomagnetic sense work?

The Earth is surrounded by a magnetic field, generated by the movement of the planet’s liquid core. It’s why a magnetic compass points north. At Earth’s surface, this magnetic field is fairly weak, about 100 times weaker than that of a refrigerator magnet.

Over the past 50 years or so, scientists have shown that hundreds of organisms in nearly all branches of the bacterial, protist and animal kingdoms have the ability to detect and respond to this geomagnetic field. In some animals – such as honey bees – the geomagnetic behavioural responses are as strong as the responses to light, odour or touch. Biologists have identified strong responses in vertebrates ranging from fish, amphibians, reptiles, numerous birds and a diverse variety of mammals including whales, rodents, bats, cows and dogs – the last of which can be trained to find a hidden bar magnet. In all of these cases, the animals are using the geomagnetic field as components of their homing and navigation abilities, along with other cues like sight, smell and hearing.

Sceptics dismissed early reports of these responses, largely because there didn’t seem to be a biophysical mechanism that could translate the Earth’s weak geomagnetic field into strong neural signals. This view was dramatically changed by the discovery that living cells have the ability to build nanocrystals of the ferromagnetic mineral magnetite – basically, tiny iron magnets. Biogenic crystals of magnetite were first seen in the teeth of one group of molluscs, later in bacteria, and then in a variety of other organisms ranging from protists and animals such as insects, fish and mammals, including within tissues of the human brain.

Nevertheless, scientists haven’t considered humans to be magnetically sensitive organisms.

Manipulating the magnetic field

In our new study, we asked 34 participants simply to sit in our testing chamber while we directly recorded electrical activity in their brains with electroencephalography (EEG). Our modified Faraday cage included a set of 3-axis coils that let us create controlled magnetic fields of high uniformity via electric current we ran through its wires. Since we live in mid-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, the environmental magnetic field in our lab dips downwards to the north at about 60 degrees from horizontal.

In normal life, when someone rotates their head – say, nodding up and down or turning the head from left to right – the direction of the geomagnetic field (which remains constant in space) will shift relative to their skull. This is no surprise to the subject’s brain, as it directed the muscles to move the head in the appropriate fashion in the first place.

In our experimental chamber, we can move the magnetic field silently relative to the brain, but without the brain having initiated any signal to move the head. This is comparable to situations when your head or trunk is passively rotated by somebody else, or when you’re a passenger in a vehicle which rotates. In those cases, though, your body will still register vestibular signals about its position in space, along with the magnetic field changes – in contrast, our experimental stimulation was only a magnetic field shift. When we shifted the magnetic field in the chamber, our participants did not experience any obvious feelings.

The EEG data, on the other hand, revealed that certain magnetic field rotations could trigger strong and reproducible brain responses. One EEG pattern known from existing research, called alpha-ERD (event-related desynchronization), typically shows up when a person suddenly detects and processes a sensory stimulus. The brains were “concerned” with the unexpected change in the magnetic field direction, and this triggered the alpha-wave reduction. That we saw such alpha-ERD patterns in response to simple magnetic rotations is powerful evidence for human magnetoreception.

Our participants’ brains only responded when the vertical component of the field was pointing downwards at about 60 degrees (while horizontally rotating), as it does naturally here in Pasadena, California. They did not respond to unnatural directions of the magnetic field – such as when it pointed upwards. We suggest the response is tuned to natural stimuli, reflecting a biological mechanism that has been shaped by natural selection.

Other researchers have shown that animals’ brains filter magnetic signals, only responding to those that are environmentally relevant. It makes sense to reject any magnetic signal that is too far away from the natural values because it most likely is from a magnetic anomaly – a lightning strike, or lodestone deposit in the ground, for example. One early report on birds showed that robins stop using the geomagnetic field if the strength is more than about 25 per cent different from what they were used to. It’s possible this tendency might be why previous researchers had trouble identifying this magnetic sense – if they cranked up the strength of the magnetic field to “help” subjects detect it, they might have instead ensured that subjects’ brains ignored it.

Moreover, our series of experiments show that the receptor mechanism – the biological magnetometer in human beings – is not electrical induction, and can tell north from south. This latter feature rules out completely the so-called “quantum compass” or “cryptochrome” mechanism which is popular these days in the animal literature on magnetoreception. Our results are consistent only with functional magnetoreceptor cells based on the biological magnetite hypothesis. Note that a magnetite-based system can also explain all of the behavioural effects in birds that promoted the rise of the quantum compass hypothesis.

Brains register magnetic shifts, subconsciously

Our participants were all unaware of the magnetic field shifts and their brain responses. They felt that nothing had happened during the whole experiment – they’d just sat alone in dark silence for an hour. Underneath, though, their brains revealed a wide range of differences. Some brains showed almost no reaction, while other brains had alpha waves that shrank to half their normal size after a magnetic field shift.

It remains to be seen what these hidden reactions might mean for human behavioural capabilities. Do the weak and strong brain responses reflect some kind of individual differences in navigational ability? Can those with weaker brain responses benefit from some kind of training? Can those with strong brain responses be trained to actually feel the magnetic field?

A human response to Earth-strength magnetic fields might seem surprising. But given the evidence for magnetic sensation in our animal ancestors, it might be more surprising if humans had completely lost every last piece of the system. Thus far, we’ve found evidence that people have working magnetic sensors sending signals to the brain – a previously unknown sensory ability in the subconscious human mind. The full extent of our magnetic inheritance remains to be discovered.

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March 19, 2019

Not leaving UNPO, referendum talks still ongoing: CK Raut’s deputy

Kathmandu, March 19

Central Member of the newly-formed Janamat Party, Kailash Mahato has said that the party has no intention of leaving the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation.

Mahato, considered the party’s second in command, added that even though a referendum wasn’t part of the 11-point agreement between CK Raut and the government, it was still on the agenda of the party.

The erstwhile Alliance for Independent Madesh had become a member of UNPO in October 2017.

Mahato told Onlinekhabar that the talk of leaving the UNPO wasn’t on the agenda during the two-day meeting held in Siraha. “We only talked about the formation of the new party,” he shared.

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March 19, 2019

Dhading Hospital starts OPD services from new building

DHADING: Dhading District Hospital has begun Out Patient Department (OPD) services from a new building five months after it was handed over to the hospital, post construction.

OPD services was started from the new building from Sunday, March 17 at the district hospital.

The building, which was constructed at a cost of Rs 45.04 million was handed over to the hospital management committee on October 29, 2018. The construction was carried out by Himalayan Health Care Nepal with the financial support of Americares Foundation.

Dhading Hospital had been providing OPD services from a temporary structure after its old OPD building was damaged in the earthquake of April 2015.

The new building has been furnished with modern health equipment and furniture, according to the hospital. “It has been easier to provide OPD services to patients visiting the hospital with the new building coming into operation, said Information Officer at the hospital, Krishna Upreti.

The district hospital has been providing services in general medicine, gynaecology, paediatrics, dermatology, general surgery, othopaedics, neurology and radiology.

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March 19, 2019

Eight employees arrested for colluding with ‘land mafia’ in Banke

Banke, March 19

Police have arrested eight government employees on charge of assisting land mafias in transferring the public land to an individual’s ownership.

According to the chief of the Banke District Police Office, Superintendent of Police Arun Poudel, eight employees of the Land Reform and Land Revenue Offices in Banke and Bardiya were arrested on Monday night for forging the documents related to government land.

Those arrested are non-gazetted first-class officers Rudra Devkota, Tanka Sharma and Ram Bahadur Khadka, computer operator Yagyashwor Oli and Prem Chand of the Land Revenue Office, Banke and non-gazetted first class officer Krishna Lal Sharma and non-gazetted second class officer Bhumi Raj Pokhrel of the Land Reform and Land Revenue Office, Bardiya.

Similarly, police have arrested Pushpa Shrestha, an officer who has been transferred to the District Post Office Banke from the Land Revenue Office, on the same charge and started an investigation.

SP Poudel said a preliminary investigation by the police showed that the arrestees transferred the government land in an individual’s name. Police said the arrested people have also been suspected of involving in taking people hostage and murder.


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March 19, 2019

Paris catches Asian tigers in most expensive city race

TBILISI: Paris and Hong Kong for the first time joined Singapore as the world’s most expensive cities to live in, a study revealed on Tuesday, with utilities and transport driving up the cost of living.

Zurich, Geneva and Japan’s Osaka trailed closely, with emerging market cities like Istanbul and Moscow plummeting down the ranking due to high inflation and currency depreciation, said the Economist Intelligence Unit’s bi-annual survey of 133 cities.

It was the first time in more than 30 years that three cities shared the top spot, a sign that pricey global cities are growing more alike, said the report’s author, Roxana Slavcheva.

“Converging costs in traditionally more expensive cities … is a testament to globalisation and the similarity of tastes and shopping patterns,” she said in a statement.

“Even in locations where shopping for groceries may be relatively cheaper, utilities or transportation prices drive up the overall cost of living,” she said.

Rising costs in cities are often driven by a vibrant job market attracting skilled workers with high wages, said Anthony Breach, an analyst with the British think tank Centre for Cities – which was not involved in the study.

Urban planners need to plan ahead and build more housing to keep prices affordable and overall costs down, Breach told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

For the EIU survey, researchers compared the cost of more than 150 items such as cars, food, rent, transport and clothing in 133 cities.

A woman’s haircut was about $15 in Bangalore, India, compared to $210 in New York, for example, while a bottle of beer was about half a dollar in Lagos, Nigeria, and more than $3 in Zurich.

British cities recovered a few positions a year after reaching the cheapest level in more than two decades due to Brexit uncertainty, with London ranking 22nd and Manchester 51st, up eight and five spots respectively.

Political turmoil in Venezuela plummeted Caracas to the bottom of the ranking, followed by Damascus, Syria, with Karachi, Pakistan, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and New Delhi also featuring among the 10 cheapest cities.

But a city’s drop in the index does not necessarily mean life automatically gets cheaper for people living there, as prices adjust to inflation often quicker than wages, said Gunes Cansiz of the World Resources Institute (WRI), a think tank.

“The cost of living in Istanbul, for example, might seem to have decreased, but since household expenses have increased, this has no positive reflection on the daily life of Istanbulites,” said Cansiz, director at WRI’s Turkey Sustainable Cities programme.

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March 19, 2019

US Department of Energy and Intel to Deliver First Exascale Supercomputer

Aurora; Intel

Intel will deliver the Aurora supercomputer, the United States’ first exascale system, to Argonne National Laboratory in 2021. Photo: Argonne National Laboratory/AP

CHICAGO: Intel Corporation and the US Department of Energy (DOE) will deliver the first supercomputer with a performance of one exaFLOP in the United States. The system being developed at DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory* in Chicago, named “Aurora,” will be used to dramatically advance scientific research and discovery. The contract is valued at more than $500 million and will be delivered to Argonne National Laboratory by Intel and sub-contractor Cray Inc in 2021.

The Aurora system’s exaFLOP of performance – equal to a “quintillion” floating point computations per second – combined with an ability to handle both traditional high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI) will give researchers an unprecedented set of tools to address scientific problems at exascale. These breakthrough research projects range from developing extreme-scale cosmological simulations, discovering new approaches for drug response prediction and discovering materials for the creation of more efficient organic solar cells. The Aurora system will foster new scientific innovation and usher in new technological capabilities, furthering the United States’ scientific leadership position globally.

“Achieving exascale is imperative, not only to better the scientific community but also to better the lives of everyday Americans,” said US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “Aurora and the next generation of exascale supercomputers will apply HPC and AI technologies to areas such as cancer research, climate modelling and veterans’ health treatments. The innovative advancements that will be made with exascale will have an incredibly significant impact on our society.”

“Today is an important day not only for the team of technologists and scientists who have come together to build our first exascale computer – but also for all of us who are committed to American innovation and manufacturing,” said Bob Swan, Intel CEO. “The convergence of AI and high-performance computing is an enormous opportunity to address some of the world’s biggest challenges and an important catalyst for economic opportunity.”

“There is a tremendous scientific benefit to our nation that comes from collaborations like this one with the Department of Energy, Argonne National Laboratory, and industry partners Intel and Cray,” said Argonne National Laboratory Director Paul Kearns. “Argonne’s Aurora system is built for next-generation artificial intelligence and will accelerate scientific discovery by combining high-performance computing and artificial intelligence to address real-world problems, such as improving extreme weather forecasting, accelerating medical treatments, mapping the human brain, developing new materials and further understanding the universe – and that is just the beginning.”

The foundation of the Aurora supercomputer will be new Intel technologies designed specifically for the convergence of artificial intelligence and high-performance computing at extreme computing scale. These include a future generation of the Intel® Xeon® Scalable processor, Intel’s X e compute architecture, a future generation of Intel® Optane™ DC Persistent Memory, and Intel’s One API software. Aurora will use Cray’s next-generation supercomputer system, code-named “Shasta,” which will comprise more than 200 cabinets and include Cray’s Slingshot TM high-performance scalable interconnect and the Shasta software stack optimised for Intel architecture.

“Cray is proud to be partnering with Intel and Argonne to accelerate the pace of discovery and innovation across a broad range of disciplines,” said Peter Ungaro, president and CEO of Cray. “We are excited that Shasta will be the foundation for the upcoming exascale-era characterised by extreme performance capability, new data-centric workloads and heterogeneous computing.”

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