Berlin, Aug 15 (AP/UNB) — Scientists say they've found an abundance of tiny plastic particles in Arctic snow, indicating that so-called microplastics are being sucked into the atmosphere and carried long distances to some of the remotest corners of the planet.
The researchers examined snow collected from sites in the Arctic, northern Germany, the Bavarian and Swiss Alps and the North Sea island of Heligoland with a process specially designed to analyze their samples in a lab.
"While we did expect to find microplastics, the enormous concentrations surprised us," Melanie Bergmann, a researcher at the Alfred-Wegener-Institute in Bremerhaven, Germany, said.
Their findings were published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.
Previous studies have found microplastics — which are created when man-made materials break apart and defined as pieces smaller than 5 millimeters — in the air of Paris, Tehran and Dongguan, China.
The research demonstrated the fragments may become airborne in a way similar to dust, pollen and fine particulate matter from vehicle exhausts.
While there's growing concern about the environmental impact of microplastics, scientists have yet to determine what effect, if any, the minute particles have on humans or wildlife.
Bergmann, who co-authored the study, said the highest concentrations of microplastics were found in the Bavarian Alps, with one sample having more than 150,000 particles per 1 liter (0.26 gallons.)
Although the Arctic samples were less contaminated, the third-highest concentration in the samples the researchers analyzed — 14,000 particles per liter — came from an ice floe in the Fram Strait off eastern Greenland, she said.
On average, the researchers found 1,800 particles per liter in the samples taken from that region.
Martin Wagner, a biologist at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology who wasn't involved with the study, said the extremely high concentrations could be partly attributed to the methods the researchers used, which allowed them to identify microplastics as small as 11 micrometers, or 0.011 millimeters — less than the width of a human hair.
"This is significant because most studies so far looked at much larger microplastics," he said. "Based on that, I would conclude that we very much underestimate the actual microplastics levels in the environment."
"Importantly, the study demonstrates that atmospheric transport is a relevant process moving microplastics around, potentially over long ranges and on a global scale," Wagner added. "Also, snow may be an important reservoir storing microplastics and releasing it during snow melt, something that has not been looked at before."
Bergmann said the microplastics detected in the study included varnish that may have been used to coat cars and ships, rubber found in tires and materials that could have originated in textiles or packaging.
The authors suggested that the airborne distribution of microscopic plastic particles has so far been neglected as a source of contamination and should be monitored in standard air pollution monitoring schemes.
"We really need to know what effects microplastics have on humans, especially if inhaled with the air that we breathe," Bergmann said.
Indonesia, Aug 13 (AP/UNB) — Hundreds of tourists, many of them young Westerners, sat on gray stone steps atop the world's largest Buddhist temple, occasionally checking cellphones or whispering to each other as they waited for daylight.
Sunrise wasn't spectacular on that recent summer day. But even an ordinary dawn at Borobudur Temple — nine stone tiers stacked like a wedding cake and adorned with hundreds of Buddha statues and relief panels — provided a memorable experience.
The 9th century temple is in the center of Indonesia's Java island, a densely populated region with stunning vistas. Other highlights include the towering Hindu temple complex of Prambanan, like Borobudur a UNESCO World Heritage site, and Mount Merapi, the country's most active volcano, whose lava-covered slopes are accessible by jeep.
While the two temples draw many visitors, other foreigners head to the relaxing beaches of Bali, just east of Java and by far the most popular tourist destination in a nation of thousands of islands and almost 270 million people. More than 6 million tourists visited Bali last year, or about 40 percent of 15.8 million visitors to Indonesia overall, according to official figures.
Recently reelected President Joko Widodo wants to change this dynamic by pushing ahead with "10 new Balis," an ambitious plan to boost tourism and diversify Southeast Asia's largest economy.
Key to the plan is to upgrade provincial airports and improve access to outlying destinations, such as Lake Toba on Sumatra island, more than 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) from Jakarta, the capital. Yogyakarta, the provincial city from where visitors head to Borobudur and Prambanan, is getting a second airport, expected to be fully operational later this year.
Widodo has been promoting his plan in meetings with foreign leaders and in recent interviews, including with The Associated Press, in hopes of encouraging foreign investment. The president of the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation told the AP in late July that as part of his push, he would like to see more business ties with the Middle East.
"For investment and tourism, we would like to invite investors from the Middle East as much as possible because ... we have many tourism locations in Indonesia, not only one or two or four, but many," said Widodo. He did not give specifics.
Muslim tourists, including from the Middle East, might also be an easier fit for some of the more conservative areas earmarked for tourism development. Tourism officials have played down the possibility of cultural friction that might accompany the influx of more non-Muslim visitors, arguing that Indonesia's brand of tolerant Islam can accommodate everyone.
"Maybe there are some particular locations that are very strict (religiously)," said Hiramsyah Thaib, who heads the "10 New Balis" initiative. "We believe we won't have any problems. Sometimes we have problems in the media, but not in reality."
Yet Islamic hard-liners have become more assertive in recent years, potentially spooking investors by undermining Indonesia's image as a moderate nation. Thaib said he believes investor confidence rose "significantly" after Widodo defeated former special forces general Prabowo Subianto in April's presidential election. Subianto had been backed by Muslim groups favoring Shariah law.
The tourism plan remains key to Widodo's final five-year term, though at least one target — 20 million visitors this year — appears to have been too ambitious. The 2019 visitor tally is expected to be 18 million, based on current growth figures, said Thaib.
Still, the Indonesian tourism sector grew by 7.8 percent in 2018, or twice the global average, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.
One of the 10 sites earmarked for development is the Borobudur Temple area and nearby Yogyakarta, a city of several hundred thousand people that is embedded in a large metro area. The city is a center of Javanese culture and a seat of royal dynasties going back centuries.
In 2017, former President Barack Obama and his family visited the city, where his late mother, Ann Dunham, spent years doing anthropological research. Obama, who lived in Indonesia as a child, toured Borodbudur and Prambanan during the nostalgic trip.
But while the Obamas got around with relative ease, including private jet travel, ordinary visitors struggle with congested streets packed with motorbikes weaving in and out of slow-moving traffic.
Travelers hoping to be in place at Borobudur just before sunrise need at least 90 minutes to get there from Yogyakarta, a journey of 40 kilometers (24 miles). A 230-kilometer (140-mile) round trip to the Dieng highlands, with terraced fields, small temples and a colorful volcanic lake, requires a full day of travel, some of it on bumpy back roads.
Anton McLaughlin, a 55-year-old visitor from York, England, said he was astounded by the number of motorbikes in the streets. Speaking during a jeep tour of the slopes of Mount Merapi, he said he's become more aware of the natural disasters Indonesians endure regularly. Indonesia straddles the Pacific "Ring of Fire" and is prone to earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. Merapi's last major eruption in 2010 killed 347 people, and the ruins of one destroyed hamlet were part of the tour.
"People just seem to crack on with life," McLaughlin said.
Just a day after his tour, the volcano shot out hot clouds and lava that flowed 2,000 meters (6,560 feet) down its slopes. No casualties or damage were reported.
Jan Tenbrinke, 37, from Zwolle in the Netherlands, said Bali is the next stop for his family of four, but that he hoped to get a better sense of Indonesian culture in Yogyakarta.
In the city, tourists can visit workshops for Batik textiles, silver jewelry and Kopi Luwak — coffee made from partially digested coffee cherries that were eaten and defecated by wild tree cats, or civets. Billed as the "world's most expensive coffee," Kopi Luwak became known to a wider audience in the 2007 Jack Nicholson-Morgan Freeman movie "The Bucket List."
Local museums, including two royal palaces and a former Dutch fort, pose a challenge for foreign visitors eager to learn more about local history and culture because they mostly lack easily accessible explanations in English.
Thaib, the tourism official, acknowledged that there is room for improvement. He said Indonesia is determined to catch up to other Asian nations, including Thailand, which he said began developing their tourism industries much sooner.
"There is still a lot of work," he said of his nation's efforts. "We believe we are on the right track."
Dhaka, Aug 12 (UNB) - Pandit Anand Mohan Zutshi Gulzar Dehlvi walks into the living room of his home in Noida, wearing a white sherwani-churidar, Nehru topi and a pearl chain with two lockets — one of Krishna and one with aayats of the Quran on it. He is frail, he is over 90. But once he starts talking, the practised performer, who has mesmerised millions at mushairas and nashists (literary meets) for seven decades, takes over. The voice is strong and his memory, razor sharp, reports The Indian Express.
Veteran Urdu poet Gulzar Dehlvi, was the editor of Science ki Duniya, the only science magazine the Government of India published in Urdu. The walls of his home are covered with photos of him onstage with big names from the world of literature and politics, in different periods and different countries. Dehlvi is a Kashmiri Pandit who spent his life working for Urdu and enriching it with his poetry. He’s a symbol of all that Delhi has stood for, and is in danger of losing — a multicultural identity, where languages and traditions of all the empires that ruled the city evolved from and merged into each other organically.
Dehlvi’s association with the freedom movement began early — when he was in Class IV, he says. In 1933, King George V and Queen Mary of England were celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary. In Delhi, engraved brass plates were being distributed, along with four annas to schoolkids to have chaat and pakaudas at Chandni Chowk. “I rounded up students of various government-run schools, and we boycotted the celebration. That is how Aruna Asaf Ali noticed me, and my association with the Congress began,” he says. “Most of the nationalist poetry during the freedom movement, such as those by Bhagat Singh, was written in Urdu, a language some today seek to discredit as un-Indian,” he says.
During the freedom movement and after independence, Dehlvi was a regular at Congress meetings and rallies, as a premier Inquilabi poet. In 1951, prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru sent him to USSR for an international conference, and he was selected as the second world youth laureate.
Dehlvi was born on July 7, 1926 in Old Delhi’s Gali Kashmeerian to Allama Tirbhoon Nath Zutshi “Zar” Dehlavi and Brij Rani Zutshi “Bezar” Dehlavi, both Urdu poets. Sitaram market in Old Delhi is named after one of his ancestors, he says. Apart from passing his MA exam from Hindu College, he also cleared the Adeeb Fazil and Munshi Fazil examinations (equivalent to high school and BA degree respectively across all Urdu boards) of Anjuman Taraqqi Urdu Hind in New Delhi.
Partition dealt a crippling blow to Urdu in India. Dehlvi says, “The Partition strengthened those who sought to establish the binary of Hindi-Hindu-Hindustan and Urdu-Muslim-Pakistan. After independence, there was a time when the biggest Urdu scholars in India were afraid to speak up for the language. Before 1947, I fought against the British. After that, I’ve been fighting for communal harmony and for Urdu conservation.”
To this end, he was instrumental in setting up Urdu schools across the country since 1970, and abroad, in later decades. Dehlvi also fought to publish the government’s science magazine in Urdu. “After independence, both Nehru and Maulana Azad (then education minister) would speak of inculcating scientific temper in their public speeches. I asked, ‘Maulana, how will this temper be developed if people don’t get scientific literature in their own language?’”
Permissions from Nehru and Azad came in 1957-58. “But many in the bureaucracy were anti-Urdu, and the magazine didn’t see the light of day for a decade. After Indira Gandhi became the prime minister, I badgered her, and, after helping resolve a workers’ strike at several CSIR labs, secured the organisation’s backing. The first bulletin of Science Ki Duniya came out in 1970, the full-fledged magazine was published in 1976.”
After 1990, Dehlvi says, “communal forces” gained political power like never before. “The Congress started weakening. Many strong leaders broke away to form their own parties. But the worst blow came from within — Narsimha Rao presided over the Babri Masjid demolition. This is when I began to withdraw from political life. Do you know, I was the one who introduced Rao to Indira? But after Babri, I met him at a party at the home of Syed Sibtey Razi (former MP, governor of Assam, Jharkhand). In front of 50 people, I told him, ‘From today I am dead to you and you to me’”.
Since 1990, Dehlvi says, Muslims are being pushed deeper into ghettos, “It suits the agenda of certain parties to portray Muslims as backward, opposed to change — a systematic campaign to alienate the community. Every day, there are reports of attacks on their diet, their livelihoods,” he says.
Does this mean that Urdu too faces a grimmer future? Dehlvi is optimistic: “In the past few years, many private organisations are running Urdu classes and holding literary meets. My fight for the language goes on, but there are more fighting alongside me.”
His other mission is to fight communalism. Is he equally optimistic there? Says Dehlvi, “I have seen and known Delhi under various rulers. My ancestors were called here from Kashmir by Shah Jahan. Today, a small gang of men are trying to define what the country is. India is like an elephant, too vast for those with a narrow vision to comprehend. People get hold of a leg, or the tail, and feel they have the whole of India in their hands. But, for all their efforts to demonise Mulsims, the BJP and RSS haven’t even been able to secure the support of all Hindus, let alone Sikhs or Jains.”
But, he’s quite particular about keeping his distance from the present government. “Invitations still come for government events, but I don’t wish to participate in any function hosted by a communal government,” says Dehlvi.
But, he’s open to discussions on India’s past with them. “I can’t work with them. I will be glad if, instead of harassing Muslims on the street, they come to me. I will give them history lessons — how the Vedas talk of rishis eating meat, how the first freedom fighters, long before the Congress was born, were Muslims.”
Unchecked communalism can leave lasting scars on India, he warns. “I am a post-holder in the oldest Ramlila committee of Delhi, and of the Hazrat Nizamuddin dargah. I observe Holi, Diwali, Janmashtami, Shivratri, and all three Eids. This is what India is, and this is the only way it can survive. Giving in to communal rhetoric will end up fragmenting India, just as the British had once fragmented it.”
The week of festivities is all set to begin. But no festival is complete without some mouthwatering recipes that add to the celebrations. So get set to add some flavours to your day with these special recipes that we have curated just for you to choose from. From Yakhni Shorba to Pathar Kabab — which recipe would you like to try?
900g – Lamb chunks (boneless)
Salt (to taste)
Cardamom powder (a pinch)
Fenugreek (methi) powder (a pinch)
White pepper powder (a pinch)
8g -Red chilly powder
4g – Garam masala powder
4g – Kalonji
Crushed saunf (a pinch)
Mustard seeds (a pinch)
Cumin seeds (a pinch)
Coriander seeds (a pinch)
35g – Ginger garlic paste
60g – Raw papaya grated
100ml – Mustard oil
20ml – Vinegar
100g – Yoghurt
20g – Butter
200ml – Oil
200ml – Water
*Wash, clean and dry the lamb pieces.
*Prepare a marinade by mixing together all the ingredients.
*Marinate the lamb pieces in the prepared mix and keep aside for one and half hours.
*Skewer the marinated lamb and roast in a medium hot tandoor for 10-12 minutes.
*Baste with butter and roast again for five minutes. Remove from skewers and serve hot.
1kg – Basmati rice
6g – Cardamom
8g – Cloves
10g – Cinnamon
250ml – Milk
Gulab jal (few drops)
Kewra (few drops)
200ml – Oil
10g – Red chilly powder
Salt (to taste)
2kg – Mutton/lamb
100g – Ginger garlic paste
200g – Fried onions
10g – Javitri elachi powder
Cooking the meat prior to biryani:
*Wash the mutton and allow excess water to drain off.
*Take some oil in a pot and add mutton. Put the ginger garlic paste, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, salt, red chilli powder and brown onions on top of the meat.
*Cover with a lid and cook on simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir well, cover and cook further for 10 minutes on moderate heat.
500g – Boneless lamb meat
500g – Lamb shank bones
8 cups – Water
1tbsp – Sugar
3/4 tsp – Salt
2 inches – Ginger (chopped)
2tbsp – Saunf
2 inches – Cinnamon stick (broken into half)
8 – Cloves
6 – Black cardamom (cracked open)
10 – Black peppercorn
2 – Bay leaves
1 tsp – Cumin seeds
2 tsp – Coriander seeds
*Add lamb meat, lamb bones, water, sugar, salt and spices in a large deep pot.
*Bring it to a boil, turn heat to low and cook lamb on medium heat till the water is reduced to half. If the meat is not tender at this stage, add more water and keep cooking till done.
*Strain the liquid and collect the cooked meat. Put it back into the soup and further simmer for five minutes.
*Serve hot garnished with fried onions.
Tijuana, Aug 10 (AP/UNB) — Lizbeth De La Cruz Santana returned Friday to the Mexican beach where her father entered the U.S. illegally before she was born, this time to put final touches on a mural of adults who came to the U.S. illegally as young children and were deported. Visitors who hold up their phones to the painted faces are taken to a website that voices first-person narratives.
There is a deported U.S. veteran. There are two deported mothers with children who were born in the U.S. There is a man who would have been eligible for an Obama-era program to shield people who came to the U.S. when they were very young from deportation, but was deported less than a year before the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, took effect in 2012.
The project blends Mexico's rich history of muralists with what can loosely be called interactive or performance art on the 1,954-mile (3,126-kilometer) U.S.-Mexico border. At the same Tijuana beach during an art festival in 2005, David Smith Jr., known as "The Human Cannonball," flashed his passport, lowered himself into a barrel and was shot over the wall, landing on a net with U.S. Border Patrol agents nearby. In 2017, professional swimmers crossed the border from the U.S. in the Pacific Ocean and landed on the same beach, where a Mexican official greeted them with stamped passports and schoolchildren cheered.
Last month, an artist installed three pink seesaws though a border wall that separates El Paso, Texas, from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
De La Cruz Santana, 28, conceived the interactive mural as part of a doctoral dissertation at University of California, Davis, in Spanish with a focus on literature and immigrant experiences. The faces are affixed with barcodes that link to audio on the project website. Her dissertation will include written arguments for DACA-style benefits to anyone who comes to the U.S. as a young child, without any of the disqualifiers like criminal history that former President Barack Obama included.
"Technology is one of the best ways and venues for people to tell their stories," said De La Cruz, whose parents obtained legal status through former President Ronald Reagan's amnesty law.
With a $7,500 grant, De La Cruz, who was born and raised in California, directed about 15 people who painted on polyester canvass at a Tijuana art gallery called "House of the Tunnel," which was once used to smuggle drugs in a secret underground passage to San Diego. She partnered with Mauro Carrera, a longtime friend and a muralist who lives in Fresno, California.
The project is also deeply personal for Carrera, 32, who was born in Mexico, crossed the border illegally as a toddler, and obtained legal status through his father, who had amnesty. He grew up with friends and neighbors in the U.S. illegally.
Carrera said the project aims to "see the people behind the politics." The deportees painted at least 80% of their own faces under his direction.
"I feel I'm right in the middle of the issue," he said as others rolled canvases over steel poles that were topped with coiled wire installed after Donald Trump became president.
Last year, many Central Americans in a large caravan of asylum seekers gravitated to the beach, which is downhill from a light tower, bull ring and restaurants. The U.S. side of the beach is usually empty, except for Border Patrol agents parked in their vehicles and occasional hikers.
De La Cruz Santana is struck by the lively atmosphere on the Mexican side and quiet in the U.S.
"If you look past this wall on the U.S. side, there's nothing," she said. "I wanted to erase the border."