Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
Indian military lab develops kit to detect swine flu in hours

While current tests to detect the swine flu virus takes two to three days, the new kit delivers results in two to three hours, knowledgeable officials in the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) told IANS

 

In a major breakthrough in detecting the deadly swine flu virus that killed around 2,000 people in India in an outbreak this year, a key military research centre has developed a kit that can detect the virus in a matter of hours.
 
While current tests to detect the swine flu virus takes two to three days, the new kit delivers results in two to three hours, knowledgeable officials in the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) told IANS.
 
Developed by the Gwalior-based Defence Research and Development Establishment (DRDE), the kit will also be cost-effective and is expected to be priced at around Rs.2,000 ($30), while the present tests can cost anything between Rs.4,500 and Rs.10,000 in the peak season.
 
"While conventional identification methods require time-consuming culturing and detection of anti-bodies, this kit uses a gene amplification method and is based on the principle of auto-cyclic strand displacement mechanism," a DRDO official aware of the developments told IANS on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
 
The DRDO, which leads defence research in the country, focussed on developing the kit in view of possible enhanced use of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear warfare (CBRN) in future, the official said.
 
"In case of a biological weapon being used, the first step to combat this is detection. Handy kits like these are being developed keeping that in mind," the official said.
 
Asked if the kit can be used on a large scale, the official said some firms have already been given the technology to develop the kits.
 
"Our role is to develop the technology. We have already handed it over to some interested manufacturers. It will now be up to the government to decide if it wants to use it at a larger level," the official added.
 
Swine flu has claimed well over two thousand lives in India till March this year with the total number of cases crossing the 33,000 mark, according to the health ministry. Rajasthan and Gujarat were the worst affected states.

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Predicting US Fed stance not easy proposition
The dollar, however, finished higher against all major currencies except the pound, which meant that the currency market is factoring in a September rate hike
 
It would be hard to put the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) minutes released Wednesday night under the hawkish or dovish category. The markets traded within a very narrow range post the release of the minutes, making it quite a non-event.
 
The dollar, however, finished higher against all major currencies except the pound, which meant that the currency market is factoring in a September rate hike.
 
Here are the main takeaways from the FOMC minutes: 
 
No June hike
 
The key lines from the FOMC minutes with regard to the timing of upcoming Fed rate hike: "A few anticipated that the information that would accrue by the time of the June meeting would likely indicate sufficient improvement in the economic outlook to" justify tightening. "Many participants, however, thought it unlikely that the data available in June would provide sufficient confirmation that the conditions for raising the target range for the federal funds rate had been satisfied, although they generally did not rule out this possibility." 
 
Now, the question is whether the liftoff is in September or December. The markets is pricing a September rate hike but going by the poor prints in all leading indicators of economic activity - retail sales, consumer sentiment, manufacturing growth and tepid wage growth, this column still thinks that Fed chief Janet Yellen will only tighten in 2016. 
 
Growth will resume but only moderately
 
Most FOMC members "continued to see the risks to the outlook for economic growth and the labor market as nearly balanced." Economic data releases over the next month will tell us whether the sharp slowdown in the first quarter were due to seasonal disruptions as the severe winter took its toll on the economy and the disputes on the west coast ports led to a major slowdown in shipping. 
 
The minutes further added: "Most participants expected that, following the slowdown in the first quarter, real economic activity would resume expansion at a moderate pace, and that labor market conditions would improve further."
 
Fed is worried about market volatility 
 
The 1994 bond market turmoil and the taper tantrum of 2013 are fresh in the Fed’s mind and they will do all they can to smooth out market volatility. The key point here is that one can safely assume that even if they press the monetary tightening button in September, they will be watching the market price action very closely and will only hike at gradual Fed meetings if there is no evidence of a sharp bond market sell off. 
 
The FOMC indicated some concern about Treasury yield volatility once tightening commences. "It was suggested that the tendency for bond prices to exhibit volatility may be greater than it had been in the past, in view of the increased role of high-frequency traders, decreased inventories of bonds held by broker-dealers, and elevated assets of bond funds."

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Tharoor attacks media, calls it 'self-appointed liars'

The lawmaker was asked why his aides were allegedly not speaking the truth in the case relating to the mysterious death of his wife Sunanda Pushkar, in the wake of a Delhi court allowing the police Wednesday to conduct a lie-detector test on three "suspects" in the case.

 

Former union minister and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor has again courted controversy, this time by accusing the media of being "self-appointed liars and scum".
 
However, as his comments Wednesday kicked up a furore, he sought to clarify that he had attacked "only those who put exploitation of tragedy above justice".
 
"I'll speak to the police, not to self-appointed liars and scum," he remarked while responding to a mediaperson's querry here.
 
The lawmaker was asked why his aides were allegedly not speaking the truth in the case relating to the mysterious death of his wife Sunanda Pushkar, in the wake of a Delhi court allowing the police Wednesday to conduct a lie-detector test on three "suspects" in the case.
 
"It suits gutter journalists 2 pretend I attacked their entire fraternity. I attacked only those who put exploitation of tragedy above justice," the former Union minister tweeted Wednesday morning.
 
In another tweet, Tharoor said: "Let's be clear: only 1 channel ran a witch-hunt yesterday all evening, lied & distorted facts, aired innuendo, ran a survey on purported guilt."

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COMMENTS

MOHAN

2 years ago

Key finding of the autopsy report as reported in the media by "lairs and scums"- over a dozen injury marks on Sunanda Pushkar’s hands and an abrasion on her cheek besides a "deep teeth bite" on the edge of her left palm.

I was just wondering, as the husband of Sunanda why Mr Tharoor has not shown any curiosity or concern on the the above.

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