Home » Catch Wire » Your Wire on 3 May

AgustaWestland deal: Rahul Gandhi 'happy to be targeted' as BJP unleashes attack

The Centre unleashed another attack on the Congress party over the AgustaWestland chopper controversy, questioning Kanishka Singh's association with Guido Ralph Haschke, one of the middlemen in the AgustaWestland deal. Kanishka Singh happens to be a close aide of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.

As BJP MP Kirit Somaiya raised concerns over the alleged involvement of Rahul Gandhi's close aide Kanishka Singh in the AgustaWestland controversy, Rahul Gandhi promptly responded saying, "I'm always being targeted; I'm happy to be targeted."

Kerala's Nirbhaya: Suspects identified 5 days after Dalit law student found raped, murdered

Five days after a 30-year-old Dalit LLB student from Ernakulam was found raped and murdered in her house, the police have identified three suspects. No arrests have been made in the case so far.

The victim, a Dalit student at the Government Law College in the Perumbavoor area of Ernakulam district in Kerala, was found raped and brutally mutilated within the confines of her home on 28 April, in between 1 and 5 pm.

With three separate special investigation teams probing the incident, and the state authorities pledging to take all necessary steps to ensure that the culprit is nabbed, the fact that five days have passed without any arrests being made in connection with the case has caused outrage across the nation. #JusticeforJisha has been trending on Twitter, with people dubbing this tragic assault Kerala's Nirbhaya case.

Agusta deal: BJP to gun for Rahul in Parliament today

Kirit Somaiya of the BJP said he will ask Rahul Gandhi, vice president of the Congress, to explain in Parliament why an Agusta middleman was made a director of a firm linked to Kanishka Singh, one of Gandhi's aides.

"Will Rahul Gandhi deny that he and Kanishka Singh have a close relation, and Kanishka's family is the founder of Emaar-MGF? Will Rahul Gandhi respond how and why Haschke was a director in the company? We would like to know from Rahul Gandhi if this is a coincidence that the Italian government has named (Sonia) Gandhi and Haschke. The Gandhi Parivaar has to explain," Somaiya said to NDTV.

Uttarakhand: 4 arrested for starting fires

Four villagers were arrested in Uttarakhand on Monday for allegedly starting fires as the NDRF and fire fighters struggled to douse the flames.

According to Uttarakhand additional chief secretary S Ramaswami, cases were registered against the villages under the Indian Forest Act and the Indian Penal Code.

"Villagers are culprits, cases have been lodged against them," said BP Gupta, chief conservator of forest (CCF) and nodal officer.

The police are investigating the possibility of the fires being deliberately set by the local timber mafia, according to the Hindustan Times.

Religious tolerance in India 'deteriorated' in 2015: US report

The US Commission for International Religious Freedom in its 2016 annual report stated that religious tolerance in India "deteriorated" and religious freedom violations "increased" in 2015.

The USCIRF advised the US government to integrate its concern for religious freedom into contacts with India. It said that it would monitor India in 2016 to see if it should be recommended to the State Department for designation as a "country of particular concern".

According to The Economic Times, USCIRF reports are not binding on the State Department.

'I have read around 20-25 suicide notes': Kota collector writes to parents of IIT aspirants

Three days after a 17-year-old girl at Kota, Rajasthan, jumped to her death for failing to meet her expected score in the IIT Mains, Ravi Kumar Surpur, the district collector of Kota, has written a letter to parents of students about dreams and their fulfilment.

Kota has about 1.5 lakh IIT and medical college aspirants enrolling at various classes in the district every year, according to The Telegraph.

Surpur said he wrote his letter to the parents of students in Kota as part of "the multiple interventions we are trying to do to ease the situation that has arisen because of the constant stress and competitiveness the students face in the run-up to the actual examinations...."

Dirty air may increase obesity risk

Air pollution is bad for our lungs. It may not be great for our waistlines either, a new study in rats suggests.

China's capital city of Beijing has some of the worst air pollution in the world. On really bad days, its air can host more than 10 times as many tiny pollutant particles as the World Health Organization says is safe for human health. In a new study, rats breathed in this air.

And those rodents gained more weight, and were unhealthier overall, than were rats breathing much cleaner air. The results suggest that exposure to air pollution can raise the risk of becoming extremely overweight. Loren Wold who works at Ohio State University in Columbus says it is highly likely that this is happening in humans too.

Wold studies how air pollution affects the heart. But he agrees with many other studies that have suggested air pollution can affect metabolism, which is how the body breaks down food and uses it for fuel, reads a report in Science News.

Surgery has ritual roots?

Between around 6,000 and 4,000 years ago, skilled surgeons in southwestern Russia cut holes the size of silver dollars, or larger, out of the backs of people's skulls. But the risky procedure wasn't performed for medical reasons: These skull surgeries fulfilled purely ritual needs.

Skulls of 13 people previously excavated at seven ancient sites in this region contain surgical holes in the same spot, in the middle of the back of the head, scientists reported in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

Carving a center hole in the back of peoples' heads was a potentially fatal procedure. Yet 11 of 13 skull openings show signs of healing and bone regrowth, reads a report in Science News.

A good place to hunt for alien life

Three Earth-sized planets orbiting a star practically next-door might be a good place to hunt for alien life - or at least check out some worlds that are different from anything in our solar system.

The planets orbit a dim, cool star just 39 light-years away in the constellation Aquarius. Each is outside or possibly on the edge of the star's habitable zone - where average temperatures are just right for liquid water. But there could be niche locales on these worlds where alien life might thrive, Michaël Gillon, an astrophysicist at University of Liège in Belgium, reported in "Nature".

A year on the two inner planets lasts just a couple of days. Data on the third world are sparse; it could take anywhere between 4.5 and 72.8 days to trek around its sun.

Wreckage of Captain James Cook's ship Endeavour found?

Researchers said they believe they have located the wreckage of the Endeavour, a ship sailed by the famous British explorer James Cook, which was sunk off the US during the revolutionary war.

The ship was scuttled in 1778 leading up to the Battle of Rhode Island between American colonists and the British, and was as part of a blockade during the revolutionary war, the Guardian has reported.

It now appears to have been located by the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project at one of nine sites containing 13 ships.

The ship, which Cook sailed in the Pacific Ocean, passed through a number of hands before eventually being renamed the Lord Sandwich and used in the revolutionary war blockade.