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Washington: A “budding bromance” between India and the US or “Modbama” as Foreign Policy called it, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Barack Obama, took their ties to a new high in the year gone by.
The year began with Modi, once a persona non grata in the US, staging what was called a “diplomatic coup” with an invitation to Obama to be the first US president to be the chief guest at India’s Republic Day.
Beyond the symbolism, Obama’s “game changing” second visit to India in four years saw “Barack” warming up to Modi and sent what the US called an “important message” to the world about their commitment to realise the full potential of India-US relationship.
The White House’s first National Security Strategy since 2010 reflected the changing relationship with Obama saying the US was “primed to unlock the potential of its relationship with India” as part of its rebalance to Asia and the Pacific.
Nine months later, Modi returned the compliment with yet another hugely successful visit to the US with a warm hug for Obama, a courtship with Silicon Valley and a love fest with the Indian diaspora.
But even before Modi and Obama had their fifth bilateral meeting in New York, the two nations, at their first strategic and commercial dialogue, reached five key agreements.
Topping the list was a decision to step up their counter-terrorism efforts with Washington, for once, recognising the threat posed by South Asian terror groups, including Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, and the D company.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar ended the year on another high note. “Gelling well” with his US counterpart Ashton Carter, they agreed to further expand their growing defence partnership to make it what Carter called an “anchor of global security.”
As Carter welcomed India’s rise in the Asia-Pacific region, the two countries committed to identifying additional projects for possible co-development and co-production of high technology items.
Meanwhile, Obama called his “friend and partner” Modi a couple of times on a new hotline, first to win his support for the Paris climate deal and then to thank him for India’s positive role in reaching the historic accord.
At his year-end victory lap, Obama highlighted American leadership in bringing China, India and Brazil on board for the Paris climate deal among his successes of 2015 from thawing relations with Cuba to halting Iran’s nuclear programme.
The White House also acknowledged India’s “substantial sacrifice” in backing the sanctions against Iran that helped Washington seal the deal with Tehran.
Obama also scored big victories with the Supreme Court upholding his signature healthcare law and marriages between same-sex couples in all the 50 states.
But even as reports suggested that gun violence in America claims a thousand times more lives than Americans killed through terrorist attacks in a decade, Obama failed to win support for passing tough gun laws in the face of a powerful gun lobby.
Meanwhile, as the great American election carnival started rolling, brash billionaire Donald Trump shot up to the top of the Republican field despite his outrageous comments about barring all Muslims from the US or building a wall to keep “rapist” Mexicans out.
While Trump seems to have torpedoed the Presidential ambitions of Jeb Bush, son of a former President and brother of another, self-styled democratic socialist Bernie Sanders was posing a tough challenge to Hillary Clinton’s second “rendezvous with destiny”.
But whosoever American voters choose as the new tenant of the White House next November, one thing is clear: Relations between India and the US are poised for a take-off given solid bipartisan support for this. Arun Kumar(IANS)
The US researchers have discovered a class of immune cells that plays a role in miscarriage, which affects about a quarter of pregnancies.
Researchers at the University of California-San Francisco found that the recently discovered subset of cells known as extrathymic Aire-expressing cells in the immune system may prevent the mother's immune system from attacking the placenta and fetus.
The researchers showed that pregnant mice who did not have this subset of cells were twice as likely to miscarry, and in many of these pregnancies fetal growth was severely restricted.
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"When you're pregnant, the immune system is seeing the placenta for the first time in decades -- not since the mother made a placenta when she herself was a fetus," said Eva Gillis-Buck, from UCSF.
"Our research suggests that this subset of immune cells is carrying out a sort of 'secondary education' -- sometimes many years after the better-known population of the educator cells have carried out the primary education in the thymus -- teaching T cells not to attack the fetus, the placenta and other tissues involved in pregnancy," she added. The findings are published in the journal Science Immunology.
The immune system has to be educated not to attack one's own tissues and organs to prevent autoimmune disease. But pregnancy presents a unique challenge since the fetus expresses proteins found in the placenta as well as proteins whose genetics are distinct from the mother.
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"It was a conceptual leap to link Aire-expressing cells, which are critical for preventing autoimmune disease, to pregnancy," said Tippi Mackenzie, Professor of Surgery at UCSF's Center for Maternal Foetal Precision Medicine.
In the thymus, Aire-expressing cells begin interacting with other immune cells very early in life to teach them what not to attack. The thymus begins to shrink and is nearly gone by adulthood, by which time most immune cells have been educated. But as the thymus shrinks, the population of eTACs in lymph nodes and the spleen expands, the researchers explained.
The study suggests a healthy pregnancy may depend on having these cells around, they added. (IANS/KB)
The tiny emojis being shared on billions of devices worldwide can play a major role in digital communication, with most people saying that emoji compels them to feel more empathy towards others, according to an Adobe report.
Adobe's global emoji study found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
"We were surprised and delighted by the discoveries made in the survey, most notably how enthusiastic respondents were for emoji as a means to express themselves," the company said in a statement.
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Emojis sometimes get criticized for being overly saccharine, but this sweetness is key when it comes to diffusing some of the heaviness of online communication.
"Many of the emoji are focused on positive emotions, so it's easy to insert them into our conversations and lighten the mood," the Adobe study said.
It's not surprising that over half of those surveyed feel more comfortable using emojis than talking on the phone or in person.
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This applies to less intense situations too. Dating, for example, can be tricky — especially when it's online or via digital apps, as it often is now.
The study also found that emoji even helps people overcome language barriers and form connections that would otherwise be difficult to do.
In celebration of World Emoji Day on Saturday, Adobe's '2021 Global Emoji Trend Report' surveyed 7,000 people in the US, the UK, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, and South Korea. (IANS/KB)
Following the grand Richard Branson show where he carried Andhra Pradesh-born Sirisha Bandla and fellow space travelers on his shoulders after successfully flying to the edge of space, it is time for Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos to applaud Sanjal Gavande, one of the key engineers who designed the New Shephard rocket set to take Bezos and the crew to space on July 20.
Billionaire Bezos is set to fly to the edge of space aboard what is touted as the world's first unpiloted suborbital flight. Born in Kalyan, Maharashtra, Gavande is a systems engineer at Blue Origin who always dreamt of designing aerospace rockets.
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After completing Bachelor's in mechanical engineering from the University of Mumbai, she flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University. She also applied for an engineering job at the US space agency NASA but finally landed her dream job at Blue Origin
Sirisha flew to the US in 2011 to pursue a Master's in mechanical engineering from the Michigan Technological University.IANS
Bezos, his brother Mark, aviation pioneer Mary Wallace 'Wally' Funk, and other passengers are set to liftoff from west Texas and travel just beyond the edge of space on July 20. Blue Origin announced this week that Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old high school graduate from the Netherlands, would join the crew.
Oliver is the son of millionaire Joe Daemen, Founder, and CEO of the Dutch investment company Somerset Capital Partners. Blue Origin, however, did not reveal how much Daemen paid for his son's trip to space. Bezos chose July 20 as the launch date to honor the 52nd anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
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The launch site for Blue Origin's first human flight will be in a remote location north of Van Horn, Texas, from where the firm had launched New Shepard for previous flights. Blue Origin has received final approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to carry humans on the New Shepard rocket into space.
On July 12, Bandla touched the edge of space with three others, including Virgin Galactic's billionaire CEO Richard Branson. Bandla vaulted into space onboard VSS Unity 22. After the successful spaceflight, Branson carried the Indian-American on his shoulders while celebrating their flight to space, at Spaceport America in New Mexico. (IANS/KB)