Carifesta Avenue upgrade behind schedule

first_img…1st phase completedDespite assertions that the Carifesta Avenue road upgrade will be finished in time for Caricom Day, onlyPhase one of the Carifesta Avenue road project has been completedphase one of the project has been completed, a source close to the project disclosed.The source told Guyana Times that the preliminary upgrade of the project has been completed by Dynamics Engineering.The company has installed the lamps on the median, which was constructed by H Nauth and Sons.Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson had indicated that the project would be completed in July; however, the source stated that this was a far cry from reality, since the second phase is scheduled to commence later this month. The second phase consists of the widening of the road.Nevertheless, the preliminary phase has been completed in time for Caricom Day, which also happens to coincide with the 37th Caricom Heads of Government summit.Carifesta Avenue was supposed to be widened and the insignia of various States placed there in time for Caricom Day.Coat-of-Arms of the various member countries will be hoisted along the Avenue, which the Heads will have to traverse to get to the Heads of Government Meeting this week.The upgrade is expected to cost the Government US$138 million. It was divided into two lots which were awarded to H Nauth and Sons, which is handling the road works, and Dynamic Engineering, the company handling the electrical works.Once the project is completed, the road will be wider, able to facilitate more traffic and more brightly lit.last_img read more

Giants call up shortstop prospect Mauricio Dubon, report says

first_imgCLICK HERE if you are having a problem viewing the photos on a mobile device The Giants are calling up a highly-touted prospect as they try to stay in the hunt for the National League’s second Wild Card spot.Infielder Mauricio Dubon, acquired at the trade deadline in exchange for pitchers Drew Pomeranz and Ray Black, is set to join the Giants according to Brewers reporter Robert Murray.“When the (trade) rumors came out, I was excited,” Dubon told The Bay Area News Group on Monday in West …last_img read more

Cassini to Rewrite Textbooks on Saturn

first_imgHundreds of scientists and engineers are waiting with eager anticipation for SOI: Saturn Orbit Insertion, as the schoolbus-sized Cassini spacecraft races for its closest approach to the ringed planet tonight.  Just before closest approach, Cassini will fire its main engine for 96 minutes to slow down the spacecraft and allow Saturn to capture it in orbit (see guide to SOI and diagram on the Cassini website).    Right after the burn, for about 75 minutes, Cassini will be flying high over the rings at close range.  The instruments will gather as many measurements and pictures as it can, because it will never again be this close to the rings or to Saturn.  Scientists do not predict that the high-resolution cameras will be able to resolve individual ring particles from this range – the best resolution will be about 50 meters per pixel, and most particles are much smaller than 10 – but it may detect wakes, waves and streams that will provide clues to the dynamic evolution of ring particles over time.  There should be good sample images of all three main rings, C, B, and A, as well as the narrow F ring.  After downloading its data during the night, Cassini will point to Titan for its first of 45 encounters.    Saturn has already provided Cassini’s instruments with a puzzle: the rotation rate appears to be slowing down.  According to Cassini’s radio and plasma wave detectors, Saturn is rotating about 1% slower than when Voyager made measurements in 1981.  (This is determined by timing radio pulses in the planet’s magnetic field, which is presumed to originate from deep within the fluid planet’s interior.)  Jupiter’s rotation rate has been rock solid for 50 years of measurements, so why Saturn should show this change is without explanation at this time.  The principal investigator for the radio and plasma wave instrument suspects it has something to do with the fact that Saturn’s polar and magnetic field axes are almost perfectly aligned, to within 0.2 degree – a characteristic unique to Saturn.  All other planets with magnetic fields show an offset of 10 degrees or more.  It is that offset that generates the magnetic dynamo, according to favored models; these models, however, cannot account for a field on an axisymmetric body.  How Saturn can have a magnetic field with a negligible offset is a major puzzle Cassini scientists hope to solve.Update  Stupendous success!  The orbit insertion burn occurred flawlessly.  Cassini followed its trajectory exactly as predicted, and then turned to capture the data and images.  Relieved scientists and engineers expressed their enthusiasm at the performance of the spacecraft.  Now the four-year adventure begins.  Some of the first science results will be posted in the July issue as soon as available.We hope to be able to bring you findings and analyses that the media will miss or misinterpret.  For instance, the media will always interpret phenomena in terms of the Sacred Parameter A, the “age of the solar system” (4.5 billion years), a figure invariably assumed without question, even when apparently young phenomena are being observed.    Of special interest will be the rings, not only because of their beauty, but because of their apparent youth.  Most ring scientists believe that the rings had to form relatively recently.  Even if 100 million years were allowed, that would only be 1/50 of the Sacred Parameter.  To hold onto A, they have to invoke ad hoc theories of a comet wandering into the Roche Limit of Saturn and disrupting.  Even so, the forces of plasma drag, sputtering, micrometeorite bombardment, light pressure and collisions would dissipate the rings in short order.  Will embedded moons be found to feed new material into the rings?  Stay tuned.    Also, we will provide balance to the claims about Titan having “prebiotic chemistry” that might be like the “building blocks of life” or like the “early earth in deep freeze.”  One scientist was even heard suggesting that Titan’s atmosphere may be a natural laboratory for the Miller Experiment (see 05/02/2003 headline).  Such statements assume evolution in spite of the evidence.  Also, it will be interesting to see if long-age believers can rescue Titan’s atmosphere from the evidence it is depleting rapidly (see 10/16/2003 headline).    Cassini is poised to make major contributions to our understanding of the solar system and its age.  For now, enjoy the ride; it will be high adventure tonight at Saturn!(Visited 11 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Team Returns Pseudogene to Junkpile to Counter ID Claim

first_imgAn earlier claim that a pseudogene has a function (see 05/01/2003 story) has been debunked by a team of scientists reporting in PNAS.1  Their reanalysis of the claim made in 2003 “invalidates the data upon which the pseudogene trans-regulation model is based and therefore strongly supports the view that mammalian pseudogenes are evolutionary relics.”  The end of their paper triumphantly announces that “our work reestablishes the evolutionary paradigm supported by overwhelming evidence that mammalian pseudogenes are indeed inactive gene relics.”    A press release by some of the researchers from Children’s Hospital at Pittsburgh took glee at this apparent slap in the face to intelligent design. This finding, discovered in a mouse model, was hailed by proponents of “Intelligent Design” (ID).  According to the Intelligent Design Network, the premise of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection.  ID is thus a disagreement with the core scientific basis of evolutionary theory.    However, researchers at Children’s and the Wadsworth Center in New York, including first author Todd A. Gray, PhD, have found scientific evidence that contradicts this finding.  The pseudogene in question … is an inactive copy of a gene, an evolutionary relic as previously believed.Some leaders in the ID movement found this press release ironic.  Evolutionists have claimed that ID is not scientific because it is not testable or falsifiable.  Why, then, are evolutionists claiming that this study refutes intelligent design?1Todd A. Gray et al., “The putatively functional Mkrn1-p1 pseudogene is neither expressed nor imprinted, nor does it regulate its source gene in trans,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 10.1073/pnas.0602216103, published online before print August 1, 2006.Finding one flaw in one claim (which did not originate with ID anyway) does not falsify ID, and there are many other cases where researchers have found treasure in the junk.  Use the search box above with keywords “junk DNA” to find many more examples, such as 05/04/2006 (bullet six), 03/24/2006 and 04/13/2004.  Finding something broken does not mean it never had a function, and finding something thought to be useless that really does have a function means we have much to learn.  Darwinists should not bring science to a halt by assuming, “evolution did it.”(Visited 16 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Nguni Juices: a winning local mix

first_imgCreator of Nguni Juices Norman Mpedi in his factory. Workers collect fruit in the veld for processing. The umviyo fruit is rich in vitamin C and fibre. (Images: Norman Mpedi) MEDIA CONTACTS • Norman Mpedi +27 82 267 3053 umviyo@yahoo.co.ukRELATED ARTICLES • Paying it forward with goat farming • Teaching people to work with nature • South African wine farms invest in biodiversity • SA’s burgeoning berry industry Emily van RijswijckThanks to canny survival skills learnt in the bush, former Umkhonto we Sizwe soldier Norman Mpedi has made a drastic career change and launched successful organic juice manufacturing operation Nguni Juices, using wild indigenous fruit harvested in Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal.It all started when Mpedi could not find work in the South African National Defence Force following the disbanding of Umkhonto we Sizwe. At this stage he often used to think back to times when he and his fellow comrades survived solely on what was available in the Angolan bush. Sometimes this only amounted to edible wild fruits growing in abundance.He recalls: “We ate this fruit, the umviyo, sometimes for up to three weeks at a time and we survived.”Untapped potentialUmviyo is the isiZulu name for the wild medlar or Vangueria infausta, a wild fruit similar to the better-known marula (Sclerocarya caffra) or Mnguni in isiZulu. Nutritionally, it’s as rich in vitamin C and natural fibre as the latter.In juice form it is an almost unrivalled high-energy natural supplement. Knowing this, Mpedi knew there was untapped potential in this source and started to investigate it further.“No-one had this idea before,” he says.This was back in 2003 and Mpedi began tackling the challenges of researching various indigenous fruits and their potential for juicing, and finding financial assistance for his start-up venture. He also had to register his product and patent his juice with the Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office.With the help of specialists in the field from the University of Johannesburg and Pretoria, his final product was tested for nutritional quality and taste, and finally given the thumbs-up.“All my products are organic and completely free of chemicals,” says proud Mpedi. His products are currently only available at selected tourist and health shops, at some fruit and vegetable outlets and certain petrol stations.Mpedi is still looking for additional capital to fund expansion.RecognitionIn the meantime, his efforts have not gone unnoticed. In February 2011 Mpedi got a personal mention in Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s annual budget speech.Gordhan related how Mpedi, Mlondolozi Kosi – with his ICT training centre in Willowvale in the Eastern Cape, and Antonio Pooe – with Exactech Fraud Solutions in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban – are small business operators setting an inspiring example for others.“Small businesses are an important source of jobs. Businesses that employ fewer than 50 workers account for 68% of private sector employment,” Gordhan said at the time.Mpedi employs about 12 workers at his factory in Mokopane in Limpopo. As the fruit ripen in summer, his busiest times are from January until March when he employs additional local people to help with harvesting.In 2007 he was a finalist in the small companies category of the Department of Trade and Industry’s Technology Awards, and in 2008 he was recognised by the Industrial Development Corporation for his research on indigenous foods.In the new year Mpedi hopes to branch out into other products, such as alcoholic ciders from the same fruit.In addition to umviyo, he harvests monkey oranges and a plant known as utshwala benyoni, also known as white birds brandy, because when birds eat it they “become very noisy and lively”, Mpedi says.This plant is used as a natural enhancer in the fruit juice as it has a minty flavour.“Next year my business will grow even more, for sure,” he adds.last_img read more

Great astronomy, with or without SKA

first_imgThe KAT-7 radio telescope array isoperational and has produced its firstimages. The SKA site, near Carnarvon in theNorthern Cape, is in the middle ofa proclaimed radio astronomy reserve. No mobile phones or other electronicdevices are permitted in the reserve. Prof Justin Jonas is optmistic about SouthAfrica’s chances of winning the SKA bid.(Images: Janine Erasmus) MEDIA CONTACTS • Tommy Makhode  Dept of Science and Technology  +27 12 843 6793 or +27 82 379 8268• Marina Joubert  SKA South Africa communications  +27 83 409 4254 RELATED ARTICLES • SA’s SKA takes another step forward • MeetKAT in demand among scientists • Space science thriving in SA • Gallery: the KAT-7 radio telescope • SA assists with Nasa’s Mars missionJanine ErasmusSouth Africa is one of two finalists bidding to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), and with its rival Australia is awaiting the recommendation of the SKA Site Advisory Committee, due in February 2012.But whether or not the US$1.9-billion ($15.9-billion) project goes ahead, the local astronomy sector has already made huge strides.Speaking in Cape Town in December, South Africa’s deputy science and technology minister Derek Hanekom said that the SKA project has got the country’s brightest young minds excited about astronomy.Hanekom added that the SKA is a major catalyst for human capital development in relevant fields, and with over 300 bursaries already awarded to students from around the continent, has been a scientific boon for South Africa and other African countries.“With the equipment already developed and built, South Africa has proven its scientific capability,” he said, “and has shown that it is a country that can play a pioneering role in science.”When complete, the SKA will comprise some 3 000 radio antennae, spread out over a vast area of Southern Africa. South Africa will host the core of the array, comprising about half the dishes, and it and eight partner countries in the region will accommodate the remainder.The first astronomical observations, expected in 2019, will help to answer long-standing questions such as the formation of the universe; why it’s expanding; the possibility of life on other planets; and the mystery of dark energy and dark matter.Ground-breaking technologyAt the isolated Northern Cape site which has been set aside for the SKA, an array of seven dishes is already operational – this is the Karoo Array Telescope, or KAT-7.The KAT-7 is a precursor to the larger 64-dish MeerKAT array, which itself is a precursor to the SKA.A ground-breaker in its own right, KAT-7 is the first radio telescope to consist of fibreglass dishes.These were produced on-site from a mould, and the same manufacturing facility will be expanded to accommodate the larger MeerKAT dishes, using local ingenuity and skills.MeerKAT is Afrikaans, meaning “more KAT”, but is also the name of an endearing little mongoose-like mammal that is indigenous to the Northern Cape and other Southern African regions.When completed in 2018, MeerKAT will be among the five largest radio telescopes in the world.Hanekom stressed that the MeerKAT construction will go ahead, whether or not the SKA is awarded to South Africa.“Great astronomy work will be done, with or without the SKA,” he said.Hanekom also said that the knowledge that has already been amassed is invaluable, and that the project has given rise to a new generation of scientists. The unprecedented scientific opportunities are expected to keep South African talent in the country, and attract expertise from overseas.The KAT-7 has caused much excitement in the local astronomy community with the capture of images of the Centaurus A galaxy and its associated black hole, located 14-million light years from Earth.But scientists are looking further ahead, and are queuing up to book research time on MeerKAT, which will be the largest radio telescope in the southern hemisphere. Already five years’ worth of observation time have been allocated to ten research projects, ranging from a study of radio pulsars to a high-frequency survey of the galactic plane.South Africa leading the wayProfessor Justin Jonas, SKA associate director for science and engineering, and head of Rhodes University’s physics and electronics department, is excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.He said that astronomy has been identified by the government as one of the fields in which South Africa is likely to succeed, because of geographic, natural and knowledge advantages.“We must have aspirations for cutting-edge science,” he said, “or we will always be viewed as a second-class nation.”Jonas said that South Africa’s government is wholly committed to the SKA and its related projects. The African Union has also stated its support for the project, and it is hoped that this will be one of a number of factors that gives South Africa an edge over Australia.The government has declared the entire Northern Cape province to be an astronomy advantage area, through the Astronomy Geographic Advantage Act of 2007. The only exemption is the Sol Plaatje Municipality, which encompasses Kimberley.Within the province, an area of 12.5 million hectares was proclaimed a radio astronomy reserve, and anyone entering must switch off their mobile and other electronic devices. Survey results show that the reserve is one of the quietest environments on earth, in terms of radio frequency, for radio astronomy. This makes it an ideal location for the sensitive SKA.The legislation means that any development that might interfere with the reception of radio signals must first be carefully considered.This high-level support has enabled South African scientists to leap ahead of their international colleagues in areas such as rapid prototyping.“For example, with our dishes we can now go from an engineering diagramme to an on-site antenna in less than a year,” said Jonas.Innovations in astronomy, he said, are helping to drive development in other industries.He mentioned another significant South African achievement – the second-generation Roach board, designed and produced locally.Roach is the reconfigurable open architecture computing hardware board that can be adapted to all kinds of digital signal processing requirements, including medical or telecommunications applications.“Roach 1 is now being used in every radio telescope in the world,” said Jonas. ”It can replace an entire rack of computers, and use a twentieth of the energy.”Because the development team has released the Roach design under an open source licence, the plans can be freely downloaded and used for an increasing number of applications, while the international development community grows.“The software is the key to getting the most out of Roach,” said Jonas.The KAT-7 uses Roach 1, but MeerKAT will most likely use Roach 3. Roach 1 was developed in collaboration with engineers from the University of California, Berkeley.last_img read more

US-Africa summit a major breakthrough: Zuma

first_img7 August 2014African leaders and the United States have agreed to work together to build stronger trade ties between the two continents, South African President Jacob Zuma said at the close of the historic US-Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington on Wednesday.Hailing the summit as a major success, Zuma touted the inroads made at the summit, including more than $33-billion in investments in Africa announced by US President Barack Obama.The summit, the first of its kind to be hosted by a US president, was seen by many as an attempt by Obama, who has African origins, to recalibrate relations between America and Africa. Some say it was also a legacy issue for Obama, whose father hails from Kenya.However, Zuma said that the conference had succeeded in bringing almost all African leaders together under one roof to discuss common interest with the United States, a crucial market for African goods.Africa is home to six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies and a rapidly expanding middle class, Zuma said, and this week’s summit was an affirmation both of Africa’s growth and of US willingness to take Africa on board as the two regions seek to expand their growth.South Africa’s inclusion in Agoa ‘no longer an issue’He added that, following the summit, the question of whether South Africa would continue to be part of a renewed Agoa no longer an issue.“That to us is very important, because before we came here some people were saying South Africa is now developed and doesn’t need Agoa. That is no longer the issue, because everyone has realised that South Africa is one of the key players in the integration of the continent and [that] if you pull South Africa out of that you really will be in a sense destabilising that process.”A ministerial meeting at the US State Department ahead of Wednesday’s summit had also eased lingering doubts regarding the Obama administration’s support for the renewal of the African Growth Opportunity Act (Agoa) when the Act’s current term comes to an end next year.“Given the manner in which this summit has helped to foster our relationship, it’s going to be very difficult for any future American leader to come and ignore that this summit has taken place and what it has achieved,” Zuma said.Support for Africa’s stand-by forceHe said a great part of the summit’s deliberations had focused on boosting US business ties with Africa, the continuation of Agoa, good governance as well as peace and security.The US also pledged to provide financial support for Africa’s stand-by force, which is expected to start operating in October.The good news is that America has changed its earlier stance on conflict resolution on the continent, and will not attempt to send any troops to Africa in times of crisis but will instead leave this to the continent’s leaders and the African Union.Since 2009, the US has committed to provide nearly $892-million to develop African peacekeeping capacity and strengthen African institutions. The US has also come out strongly in support of the work done by more than 67 000 African peacekeepers serving with the African Union and United Nations in Africa.US ‘not just playing catch-up with ChinaZuma played down suggestions made by some analysts that the US was simply playing catch-up with China, which is increasingly expanding its presence in the continent.“The view is that anyone who wants to make business in Africa is welcome. The Chinese have a role to play. Even Obama says they have a relationship with China. China’s presence in Africa is not an issue that was discussed. What we discussed was that Africa is opening up and whoever wants to come and invest is welcome.“Africa is saying here we are, we are ready to do business, and whoever wants to do business with Africa must come. A relationship should be based on mutual benefit and understanding,” Zuma said.There were fears, earlier this week, that the US stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict and the current outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in west Africa would overshadow the summit.But in his final press conference at the end of the summit, Obama said leaders from both sides had emerged more determined to strengthen ties between the US and one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest growing regions.New financing to promote US exports to Africa“The summit advanced our shared interests in increased US-Africa trade and US investment in Africa and highlighted America’s commitment to Africa’s security, its democratic development, and its people,” Obama said.“By enabling discussion of tangible actions that can be taken to deepen the US-Africa partnership, the Summit fostered stronger ties between the United States and Africa.”The summit’s theme – “investing in the next generation” – reflected the common ambition that the US shared with Africa “to leave our nations better for future generations by making concrete gains in peace and security, good governance, and economic development,” he said.On Wednesday, Obama announced $33-billion in new financing to promote US exports to and investment in Africa.He made the announcement at the first US-Africa Business Forum, where he said that $7-billion would go to new financing to promote US exports to and investments in Africa under the Doing Business in Africa Campaign.US companies will also sign deals in clean energy, aviation, banking, and construction worth more than $14-billion, in addition to $12-billion in new commitments under the President’s Power Africa initiative from private sector partners, the World Bank, and the government of Sweden.Source: SAnews.gov.zalast_img read more

Strengthening the Family CORE

first_imgStrengthening the Family COREDate: September 1st, 8th, 15th and 22ndTime: 11:00 am-12:30 pm EasternLocation: Family Development Virtual Learning Event 2016Family Development is excited to announce the 2016 Virtual Learning Event (VLE) focusing on Strengthening the Family CORE.These sessions have been designed to equip military service providers with tools to join with families to continue their path of resilience. It is our hope that these sessions will enhance your knowledge, strengthen your skills as a service provider, and guide your work with these amazing families.Join us on September 1st at 11:00 am Eastern!We offer 1.5 National Association of Social Worker CE credits and CE credits for licensed Marriage and Family Therapists in the state of Georgia for each webinar, click here to learn more.MFLN FD Early Intervention will be providing Early Intervention Training Program (EITP) CE credits, click here to learn more.last_img read more

Will Your Actions Today Get You Where You Want to Be in the Future

first_img Essential Reading! Get my 3rd book: Eat Their Lunch “The first ever playbook for B2B salespeople on how to win clients and customers who are already being serviced by your competition.” Buy Now How will your future self judge your actions when it comes to how you spent your time today? Flash forward five years from today. Looking back from that vantage point, how will what you did today serve you in that future place?The Calendar and the TruthIf you look at today’s calendar, will you see appointments and events that helped you to achieve your goals? Or will there be nothing but white space, and indication that you sat passively, waiting for the day to act on you?If you were to look at your phone records for the day, would it show time invested with the people and projects that were your true priorities? Or would there be no record of calls to people who were conspiring to help you achieve your goals? Did you communicate with the people whose help you need to get you where you are going?What will your digital footprint show? Will it show that you developed content that is part of your legacy? Does your digital footprint prove you created content aligned with your mission and your purpose? Or will it show time wasted on novelties and partisan political posts that amused only you?What about the people you love and care about? Where will they show up? Will you have done something worth noting today? If they are the reason you are hustling, will they even know that?Choosing Your Future RegretsWill what you did today serve your future self, or will it cause your future self to express regret over having wasted time?If you don’t know where you want to be five years from now, then it’s difficult to judge how well you did today. If you can’t answer the questions in this post, then the best way to spend your time might be to determine where you want to be five years from and what you want to be doing.Without a vision, without direction, you are simply drifting.last_img read more

4 hurt in minor blast in Guwahati; ULFA claims responsibility

first_imgThe outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I) detonated a low-intensity bomb in Guwahati on Saturday to make an ‘explosive statement’ against the Centre’s bid to pass the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.Four people, including a woman, were injured in the blast ahead of the five-day Durga Puja festival from Monday and the first ODI cricket match between India and West Indies scheduled on October 21.The police downplayed the blast on the Brahmaputra riverbank along the city’s arterial Mahatma Gandhi Road close to Fancy Bazaar, a Durga Puja shopping destination. They said there was no evidence that a bomb caused the blast that damaged some vehicles and injured the four people riding them.Assam’s Additional Director General of Police (Special Branch) Pallab Bhattacharya had a week ago warned of a bid by Islamist organisations such as Hizb-ul-Mujahideen to strike during the festive season. The theory gained currency after the arrest of eight alleged members of the group from Assam and Meghalaya during the last fortnight.Message for DelhiBut the ULFA-I claimed responsibility soon after the blast. “Our members carried out the explosion to protest the occupational Indian government’s attempt to settle Bengali immigrants in Assam through the Citizenship Bill. The attack is also against the conspiracy to derail the National Register of Citizens (NRC),” the extremist outfit’s military chief Paresh Baruah said in a statement from somewhere on the Myanmar-China border.He warned of more such strikes, some of higher intensity, in the days to come.Kuladhar Saikia, the State’s Director General of Police, said an investigation would confirm if the extremists had indeed triggered the blast. “We are trying to find out the nature of the explosives, and since the rebels have owned up, whether they triggered it themselves or outsourced the job to others,” he said.The police have not ruled out an “opportunistic claim” by the ULFA-I. But the blast has happened when organisations batting for indigenous communities and settlers perceived as ‘outsiders’ have taken an opposing stand on the Citizenship Bill that seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslims from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who migrated to India till December 31, 2014.Many Assamese organisations fear that Citizenship Bill if passed, would legalise the stay of ‘Hindu Bangladeshis’ in Assam and turn them into a minority. The fear that the bill would be passed during the winter session of the Parliament became stronger after the State BJP endorsed the bill at its State executive meeting in Majuli on Thursday.Bengali conclaveA coordination body of 27 Bengali organisations has, meanwhile, decided to organise a conclave in Guwahati on November 17.“The conclave is not about confrontation but about exploring ways to remove the wedge that some forces have driven between the Assamese and Bengali communities. We are the Bengalis of Assam, unlike Bengalis elsewhere, but we could not speak out that we are part and parcel of the greater Assamese society,” BJP legislator Shiladitya Dev said.He is the coordinator of Citizens’ Rights Protection Forum-Assam, which is organising the conclave.“Assamese is not just a language but an identity. Through the conclave, we want to give the message for a joint fight against external aggressors towards securing the future of Assam,” Mr Dev said. EOMA blast in the Sukleswar Ghat area here on Saturday left four persons injured. The banned militant outfit United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) Independent has claimed responsibility saying the blast was in protest against the updation of National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.Assam Director General of Police (DGP) Kuladhar Saikia said, “An explosive device caused the blast” at around 11.45 a.m. at a construction material dump site near a footpath in the Pan Bazar area. The four passers-by, including a woman, suffered minor wounds and were being provided medical care at the Mahendra Mohan Choudhury Civil Hospital, he said.“There are many types of explosive devices…some have switches. Only after investigation, it will be known if any militant outfit was involved in the explosion,” Mr Saikia told reporters.ULFA (Independent) commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah later called up local TV channels claiming that the blast was carried out by the outfit protesting the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and NRC updation exercise. He alleged that the NRC will be used to settle non-Assamese people in the state.The DGP said security has already been stepped up for the on-going the festival season.‘Not a bomb’Earlier, DCP Ranjan Bhuyan said, “We don’t suspect it to be a bomb explosion as there were no splinters found and the injuries were caused by stones hitting the victims…We don’t suspect it to be a sabotage or terrorist activity from the nature of the blast. It happened in a dump of sand kept for roadside drain construction. It may have had an unexploded shell which went off,” he said.“A forensic team is investigating the impact of the blast and assessing whether it was an explosive device or anything else that caused it,” Education Minister and Guwahati MLA Siddhartha Bhattacharya said.On being told that Paresh Baruah had claimed responsibility, Mr. Bhattacharya said the outlawed organisation should first apologise to the people for the act.last_img read more