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Daily dose of blueberries may guarantee improved memory







Washington: A daily dose of blueberries could be the perfect way to ease the memory lapses and brain slips that typically accompany old age.

In a small study, older adults who drank a couple cups of blueberry juice
a day improved their scores on a learning and memory task by 20 percent.

Studies in animals have linked blueberries with brain function, but this is one of the first such studies in people. The results have indicated that blueberries might just live up to their reputation as "super foods."

Among other health benefits, adding the tasty little, blue marbles to your diet could help slow the march of memory decline and possibly even prevent memories from slipping in the first place.

"We’re getting the first signal in humans that this might work. There’s so much research now suggesting that fruits and vegetables
are beneficial. I don’t have any qualms about recommending that people eat blueberries," Discovery News quoted Robert Krikorian, a neurophysiologist at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, as saying.

In animal studies, older individuals that consume blueberry extract improve their performance on memory tasks, sometimes to the point of being just as sharp as their younger counterparts.

Scientists have attributed blueberries’ impressive brain-boosting effects on a type of antioxidant called anthocyanins. These molecules belong to a larger group called polyphenols, which come in thousands of varieties.

Polyphenols appear in virtually all fruits and vegetables, and have been shown to reduce the risk of cancers and heart disease, among other benefits. In animals that have consumed lots of blueberries, scientists have spotted anthocyanins in the brain structures that are known to be involved in memory.

That’s where molecules appear to work their magic by helping neurons communicate with each other, facilitating memory processing.

Anthocyanins also make brain cells more resilient in the face of stress. The molecules might even act as a sort of mild toxin that prods the body to grow stronger. Krikorian wanted to know whether any of it applied to people, and thus recruited nine adults who were, on average, in their mid-70s. All participants had experienced some mild memory decline.

In the beginning, each participant took a series of learning and memory tests and for the next 12 weeks, they drank three glasses of blueberry juice a day, for a total of between two and two and a half cups. During the last week of the study, participants took the memory tests again. Researchers noted a 20 percent improvement in the tests after taking blueberry juice everyday.

Bill Gates pledges $10 bln for vaccines for poor







DAVOS, Switzerland (AFP) – Bill Gates, the world's richest man, on Friday promised 10 billion dollars to develop vaccines for the world's poorest nations.

The Microsoft tycoon announced at the World Economic Forum that the money will come over the next decade from the foundation he runs with his wife Melinda, and that vaccines will become the top priority for the foundation.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has now committed more than 25 billion dollars to various health projects, especially targeting AIDS and polio and other diseases that hit poor countries.

"We must make this the decade of vaccines," Bill Gates said in Davos. "Vaccines already save and improve millions of lives in developing countries. "Innovation will make it possible to save more children than ever before."

Increased vaccination could save more than eight million children by 2020, he added, but called on governments and the private sector to do more. "Increased investment
in vaccines by governments and the private sector could help developing countries dramatically reduce child mortality by the end of the decade," Gates said in a statement.

Melinda Gates added: "Vaccines are a miracle -- with just a few doses, they can prevent deadly diseases for a lifetime. "We?ve made vaccines our number-one priority at the Gates Foundation because we?ve seen first hand their incredible impact on children?s lives," she added.

Gates began working full time at the Foundation after leaving Microsoft in July, 2008. He is in Davos as the world's leading philanthropist and his activities again overshadowed those of the political and business elite at the Swiss ski resort. Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou held new meetings seeking to shore up international support for his country's austerity programme as its borrowing costs shoot up and debt problems in Greece and other countries put pressure on the euro.

Reaffirming his determination to cut the 12.7 percent budget deficit, the prime minister acknowledged the country's troubles over the past year including serious riots in Athens before his socialist PASOK party won an election. "The riots that we had last year were at the height of the scandals in our political life," he said. "Banks were being bailed out then, there was corruption and there was no legitimacy in the political system.

"We have re-established legitimacy and there is great support for us even from the younger generation." Papandreou said: "It is important that whatever we do it is seen as just. It may be painful but it must be seen that we are all paying for the burden." And he insisted that the government would protect the unemployed.

US gets more info on terrorist strike in India





The US continues to receive information about terrorist groups planning attacks against India, the State Department has said and advised its nationals to be alert during their travel to the country in the coming months.

"The Department of State alerts US citizens to ongoing security concerns in India. The US government continues to receive information that terrorist groups may be planning attacks in India," the US State Department said in its latest terror alert.

Terrorists and their sympathizers have demonstrated their willingness and capability to attack targets where US citizens or Westerners are known to congregate or visit.

The recent advise replaces the travel Alert dated December 29 that expired on April 30, the State Department said.

Noting that 26/11 Mumbai attacks provide a vivid reminder that hotels, markets and other public places are especially targeted by terrorist groups, the State Department asked its nationals to always practice good security, maintain a heightened situational awareness and a low profile.

"US citizens are advised to monitor local news reports and consider the level of security present when visiting public places, including religious sites, or choosing hotels, restaurants, entertainment and recreation venues," it said.

IPL Row: Now Pakistan stops its players






A statement from the board said all the NOC's issued to players for IPL 3 stand revoked.

"In future, if any player receives an invitation for participation in IPL events, PCB will decide the matter on a case to case basis after consulting relevant government authorities," the statement said.

The announcement comes on the same day that the Indian hardline party Shiv Sena said it would not allow Pakistani players to play in the IPL and IPL commissioner Lalit Modi also said that no franchise could pick Pakistani players without his knowledge and approval.

All the 11 Pakistani players, including star all-rounder Shahid Afridi went unsold in the January 19 auction in Mumbai, prompting angry reaction in Pakistan.

The auction fiasco threatened to snowball into a diplomatic row between the two countries with top ministers also being drawn into the controversy.

A spokesman for the sports ministry also said that in future if any Pakistani player gets an offer to play in the IPL he would have to approach the PCB which would have to seek fresh NOCs from relevant ministries including security clearance and approval from foreign ministry.

"All the clearance we gave for the IPL now stands cancelled," the official said.

There were unconfirmed reports that all-rounder Adbul Razzaq was approached by Kolkata Knight Riders and Deccan Chargers with a contract offer but this development has effectively sealed his fate.

CBSE to send showcause notice to Ruchika school





Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal on Thursday said there was a case for shooting off a showcause notice to Sacred Heart Convent in Chandigarh, asking why it expelled Ruchika Girhotra from the school on account of non-payment of fee. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), to which the school is affiliated, is learnt to be considering such an action.

"We have got the report on the issue. On the basis of the report, it appears that a notice should be sent to the school by the Central Board of Secondary Education," Sibal said, on the sideline of a conference of state education secretaries on various education programmes.

The CBSE, as reported by this newspaper, had only recently issued an advisory to all its 10,000-plus affiliated schools asking them to "treat children as sensitive individuals who need to be protected at any cost" and to stand up to any "external pressure". The CBSE's advisory sought to remind that "schools are ideological institutions and not factories" and that "no school, under the guise of enforcing discipline, should mistreat any student or parent thereof".

A Chandigarh Administration report had found the school guilty of taking an unwarranted action against Ruchika. This report has already been sent to the CBSE, which will soon issue a notice to the school on the issue. A CBSE official in Chandigarh said on Thursday: "The notice will be received by the school in a day or two."

Our brains cannot handle more than 150 Facebook friends




London, January 24 : Despite some people having 5,000 friends on their Facebook profiles, they may not be able to remember or manage more than 150 pals in real life, an expert claims.

Robin Dunbar, professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at Oxford University, falls back on a theory he developed in the 1990s, known as 'Dunbar's number,' to prove his point.

The theory claims that that the size of our neocortex - the part of the brain used for conscious thought and language - limits us to managing social circles of around 150 friends, no matter how sociable we are.

The figure was reached after Dunbar checked how many people contacted at least once a year in a variety of societies, ranging from neolithic villages to modern office environments.

Now he has applied his theory to studying social networking websites.

And, he insists that the "Facebook effect" has hardly had an impact on the size of social groupings.

"The interesting thing is that you can have 1,500 friends but when you actually look at traffic on sites, you see people maintain the same inner circle of around 150 people that we observe in the real world," Timesonline quoted Dunbar as saying.

He added: "People obviously like the kudos of having hundreds of friends but the reality is that they're unlikely to be bigger than anyone else's.

"There is a big sex difference though ... girls are much better at maintaining relationships just by talking to each other. Boys need to do physical stuff together."

Dunbar's study is expected to publish later this year


Half a million bathe in Ganges; crush kills 7





Hundreds of thousands of Hindus bathed in waters considered sacred across large parts of the country to mark the start of the "Kumbh Mela" festival on Thursday, with at least seven people killed in a stampede in West Bengal.
At least half a million men, women and children braved chilly winds to bathe in the icy waters of the Ganges in the holy Himalayan town of Haridwar at the "Kumbh Mela", or Pitcher Festival, held every 12 years in different cities.
Hindus believe that bathing in the Ganges during the almost four-month-long festival cleanses them of their sins, speeding the way to the attainment of nirvana.
The ritualistic bathing takes place in other venues as well, with massive crowds often leading to accidents.
In West Bengal, six women were among seven people killed in a stampede as thousands bathed at the confluence of Ganges river and the Bay of Bengal, officials said.
"The stampede happened when pilgrims were rushing to get into a boat," said Surajit Kar Purakayastha, a senior police officer said in Kolkata.
More than 50 million people from India and abroad are expected to visit the holy city of Haridwar over the next few months, authorities said.
People gathered near the river banks in Uttarakhand before dawn and began bathing as soon as the sun rose.
A tight security ring was in place in Haridwar, with police keeping a close eye on pilgrims with the help of more than 120 closed-circuit cameras.
"I am very happy. I am feeling blessed," said Indu Karn, a woman who came from Jharkhand.
"I have come here to bathe for my salvation in the Ganges. I am really happy," she said, shivering after several dips.
After bathing in the polluted but sacred waters many filled cans and bottles with water, saying they would carry them for their relatives who could not make the journey.
Haridwar is one of four spots where Garuda, the winged steed of Hindu god Vishnu, is said to have rested during a battle with demons over a pitcher of the divine nectar of immortality.
Garuda's flight lasted 12 divine days, or 12 years of mortal time, hence the celebration of "Kumbh Mela" every 12 years.
"Kumbh is the soul of Indian culture," said Pilot Baba, a Hindu monk with thousands of followers in many countries.
"Kumbh gives us an opportunity to connect with the world, to be a progressive nation," said the monk, clad in saffron-coloured robes, as many bowed before him in respect.
(Additional reporting by Sujoy Dhar in Kolkata; Editing by Bappa Majumdar and Paul Tait)

Obama tells Haiti: U.S. will not forsake you






President Barack Obama pledged $100 million for Haiti relief aid on Thursday and enlisted the help of two former U.S. presidents, promising Haitians: "You will not be forsaken."
Eager to stay on top of the rapidly unfolding humanitarian crisis, Obama told his top aides that responding to the earthquake aftermath should be their top priority.
Former President Bill Clinton, who is already a United Nations special envoy for Haiti, and former President George W. Bush agreed to a request from Obama to help the quake relief effort. Obama talked by telephone with Bush on Wednesday night about helping out.
"Both of them have agreed to take part in this," said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, promising more details in the next few days.
Clinton and Bush's father, former President George H.W. Bush, joined in a huge international relief effort to help the recovery from the 2004 tsunami that swept South Asia and killed 226,000 in 13 countries after an earthquake in Indonesia.
Obama, facing his biggest test of international relief since taking office a year ago, promised an initial U.S. contribution of $100 million and said he had directed his administration to launch "a swift, coordinated and aggressive effort to save lives and support recovery in Haiti."
Aid was arriving in a trickle to Haiti, shattered by Tuesday's quake. The Haitian Red Cross said it believed 45,000 to 50,000 people had died and 3 million more were hurt or left homeless.
"To the people of Haiti, we say clearly and with conviction, you will not be forsaken. You will not be forgotten. In this, your hour of greatest need, America stands with you. The world stands with you," Obama said.
It marks the latest example of the long U.S. history with Haiti. In 1994, then-President Clinton sent a delegation there that negotiated the departure of Haitian military leaders and headed off an American invasion.
Working against time to save as many lives as possible and help Haitians dig out of the rubble, the United States is sending some elements of its armed forces to the impoverished island nation.
FREQUENT UPDATES
Several Coast Guard cutters are already there providing basic services like water and technical support for a massive logistical operation.
Obama said elements of the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division were arriving on Thursday. A Marine expeditionary unit was also being deployed, as well as the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and a U.S. Navy hospital ship, the Comfort.
In a show of support for Haiti, Obama was joined when he made his statement by key leaders of his administration, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Vice President Joe Biden.
Obama was clearly working to avoid any sort of comparison with Bush, who was damaged by his administration's slow initial response to a domestic disaster, Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Aides provided frequent updates on what the president was doing on Haiti, such as holding meetings with aides and talking to foreign leaders.
Obama, who had been criticized for waiting a few days to speak publicly in response to the Christmas Day attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound plane, said he had made it clear to the officials that Haiti "must be a top priority for their departments and agencies right now."
"This is one of those moments that calls out for American leadership," he said.
Biden and his wife, Jill, are to be in South Florida to meet with members of the Haitian-American community there about the U.S. response to the crisis.
(Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick and Jeff Mason; editing by David Storey and Will Dunham)

Telangana



Geography

Of the three regions of the state, Telangana has the largest area, with 1,14,800 km2.The Telangana plateau is drained by two major rivers, the Godavari and the Krishna. The entire region is divided into two main regions namely ghats and peneplains. The surface is dotted with low depressions.

Irrigation

Telangana region Andhra Pradesh is situated in the central stretch of the eastern seaboard of the Indian Peninsula. The river Godavari is flowing on the North and the river Krishna is flowing on the South. Apart from the major rivers, there are other small rivers such as Bhima, Dindi, Kinnerasani, Manjeera, Munneru, Moosi, Penganga, Praanahita, and Peddavagu and Taliperu.

Demography
9 out of 10 districts in the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh are recognized by the Government of India as backward . According to the Backword Regions Grant Fund 2009-10, 13 districts are located in Andhra Pradesh, 9 are from Telangana and the rest are from other regions.

Culture and Identity
Telangana has its own distinctive culture and identity. Most prominent is the Hyderabadi Culture also called Deccan Culture.Telugu language spoken here has evolved into a new dialect with a liberal mixture of words from Urdu. Telugu language is the major language spoken while Hindi is spoken by people from other states of North India and Central India like Gujarat and Maharashtra. Telugu language and English language are official languages of the region.
Festivals: Diwali, Dassera, Eid-ul-Fitr and Ugadi are prominent festivals in Telangana. The region celebrates distinctive festivals like Bathukamma, and Bonalu. The other festivals of Hindu and Muslims such as Holi, Rakhi and Moharram are also celebrated with equal enthusiasm as in northern India. The national festival Sankranti is also celebrated in the beginning of harvest season on 14 January every year.


• Hyderabad
• Charminar - the iconic 400 year-old landmark of Hyderabad, featuring four graceful minarets.
• Falaknuma Palace - Built by Nawab Viqar al-Umra', a beautiful and stunning piece of architecture.
• Golconda Fort - located on the outskirts of the city, Golconda Fort is one of the most magnificent fortress complexes in India.
• Salar Jung Museum - houses the largest one-man collection of antiques in the world.
• Makkah Masjid - a stone-built mosque, one of the largest in India, located next to the Charminar.
• Birla Mandir - An elaborate white marble temple with majestic views of the city and the Husain Sagar (lake).
• Birla Planetarium - located in the heart of the city on the panoramic hillock of Nawbat Pahad.
• Husain Sagar - man-made lake that separates the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.
• Durgam Cheruvu - A beautiful lake near HI-TEC city.
• Chilkur Balaji Temple, also known as Visa Balaji Temple
• Osman Sagar, also known as Gandipet, is a lake near the city.
• NTR Gardens, a recreation park,located on the tankbund.
• Purani Haveli - The former official residence of the Nizam.
• Shilpakala Vedika - An outstanding venue for all types of events - local, national and international.
• Sanghi Temple - A temple dedicated to Venkateshwara which graces a promontory overlooking Sanghi Nagar.
• Ashtalaxmi Temple - Ashtalakshmi Temple, dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi, is in Dilsukhnagar, Hyderabad
• Mahankali Temple - A temple located near Secunderabad Railway station, Famous for Bonalu Fest in Hyderabad.
• Snow World - An amusement park which enables citizens of this tropical city to experience very low temperatures and snow
• Madhapur - Home to the IT world of Hyderabad.
• Nagarjuna sagar on krishna river in Nalgonda district
• Sreeramsagar project on Godavari river in Nizamabad district
• Beechupally (Sri Anjaneya Swamy Temple)
• Alampoor (one of the eighteen shaktipeetams)
• Warangal, capital city of Kakatiyas
• Warangal Fort, Built by Kakatiyas between 11-12th centuries
• Warangal - Bhadrakali Temple, and Thousand Pillared Temples, These two temples built by Kakatiyas are visited by People from all over AP
• Warangal - Ramappa Temple, Famous for its brilliant Kakatiya art
• Warangal - Pakhal Lake, A man-made lake built in 1213 by the Kakatiya king, Ganapathideva, by harnessing a small tributary of the Krishna River. It is located 50 km from Warangal and spreads over an area of 30 km.

Proposed Telangana State Formation Process


On December 9, 2009, at 11:30 PM, Mr. P. Chidambaram, Union Minister of Home Affairs announced that the Indian government will start the process of forming a separate Telangana state, upon introduction and passage of a separation resolution in the Andhra Pradesh assembly.[ KCR thus ended his 11 day fast, saying from his hospital bed that this was a true victory of the people of Telangana.

Representatives from Telangana celebrated the central government's decision while those from the Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions (Andhra region) protested.. In fact, within a short time of the Home Minister's declaration, a majority of Andhra Pradesh's legislature submitted their resignations in protest of the separation of Telangana. As of 16 December, at least 147 legislators (including Praja Rajyam Founder Chiranjeevi) and many Members of Parliament resigned in protest of the Government's decision to begin discussions on forming a new state of Telangana. 22 Ministers from the State Cabinet, all from Andhra (Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema) regions submitted their resignations.

On December 16, media reports confirmed that there was a split in the Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) over the Telangana issue, with its leader Chiranjeevi as well as 16/18 party MLAs opposing the division of Andhra Pradesh while Telangana leaders in the party were unhappy with the shift in the party's views.

On December 23, the Government of India announced that no action on Telangana will be taken until a consensus is reached by all parties. The TRS reacted by calling for another bandh (general strike) on 24th Dec '09, an action aimed at stalling the regional economy.

A JAC (Joint Action Committee) was formed with pro-separation members of the major political parties. There have been reports that members of the JAC have widely divergent approaches on the issue of a separate Telangana. Subsequently, Andhra (Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema) region MLAs started withdrawing their resignations while MLAs and ministers from Telangana started submitting their resignations, demanding the Centre to take immediate steps to initiate the process of bifurcating Andhra Pradesh.

Symbolic declaration of statehood

The Nava Telangana Party, led by the former home minister of Andhra Pradesh, T Devender Goud, declared Telangana as a separate province within India on November 2, 2008. Konda Laxman Bapuji announced that "We solemnly declare statehood for Telangana on November 2, 2008." Goud released ten pigeons in the air symbolising the ten districts of the region, while he also unfurled the national flag on the occasion. Along with his party activists he was later arrested when they tried to barge into the Andhra Pradesh Secretariat to change the name plate from Andhra Pradesh to Telangana. A scuffle then followed between the police and the NTP workers before the party workers were taken to the Chikkadapalli police station. Other NTP workers soon descended on the scene and staged a dharna to protest against the arrest.

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