The CAG report on the 2010 Commonwealth Games, which is yet to be tabled in Parliament, indicts the Delhi government for irregularities in the development of infrastructure ahead of the sporting extravaganza. The state had worked on at least 25 roads and bridge-related projects, of which 17 were completed before the Games.The government auditor has focused on seven projects for a detailed review. Of these Rs 2,239-crore projects, six were implemented by the PWD, which is under the Delhi government, and one by the DDA, which is headed by L-G Tejinder Khanna. The CAG points out the bloated contractor’s profit and overhead (CPOH) charges of 37.5 per cent for the projects instead of the CPWD-stipulated 15 per cent.The hiked CPOH led to a higher baseline cost for bidders and indirect loss to the exchequer. In a clear indication that tenders and bids were botched to favour particular contractors, the CAG found that the PWD accepted tender documents which had an extensive use of correction fluids, cuttings and corrections.The report says the PWD not just accepted overwritten, corrected bids but also in at least three instances, the department – which is led by Sheila Dikshit’s close aide Raj Kumar Chauhan – admitted bids on random papers instead of government-approved formats. The Barapullah Nallah flyover project was singled out by the auditors for discrepancies.Bids accepted from the DSC Limited were filed on separate letters instead of formal bidding documents, the report said. The flyover contract was awarded to DSC for packages worth Rs 218.79 crore and Rs 214.92 crore. In another instance, the firm was awarded work for being the lowest bidder for the UP Link Road project. In this case too, the tender was submitted through separate letters instead of the prescribed format.advertisementIt couldn’t be ascertained if these papers had been placed in the file later. The bid for the Ring Road bypass project was also manipulated, as is evident from the corrections in the bid. The exchequer lost Rs 6.23 crore in the process. Causing a loss of another Rs 35 lakh, underweight reinforced steel bars were used on the Ring Road bypass. The government lost an extra Rs 1.1 crore due to post-tender changes in construction of the grade separator at the ISBT Anand Vihar crossing.The auditor also faulted the government with accepting the suspension model for the foot overbridge near the JLN Stadium that collapsed days before the Games. The report pointed out that though the PWD had no experience in such a construction, it went ahead with the design, Even the consultancy offered by the contracted firms and lackadaisical supervision is said to have led to losses.The wrong assessments made by the Delhi government departments are said to have caused losses of at least Rs 3.55 crore.
Two-time defending Euroleague basketball champion Olympiakos faces Real Madrid again on April 17, down 1-0 after losing the opener of the best-of-five quarter-final series 88-71 off a listless performance.The series was marred when the Spaniards essentially threw the last game of its group to the last place team Zalgiris Kaunas in Lithuania, which meant it would face Olympiakos instead of another Greek team, PanathinaikosThe Spanish team felt it was better matched against Olympiakos, believing the Greek team couldn’t defend Madrid’s fast-break style and it proved so in the opener.Showing what was coming, the Spanish team jumped out to a 27-12 first quarter lead before Olympiakos rallied to a 40-40 tie before going down 48-41 at half time.Real pulled away in the third period, stretching its advantage to as many as 17 points (66-49) to enter the last quarter with a 14-point lead, 70-56 as the defending champions threw in the towel. Captain Vassilis Spanoulis stood out with 18 points for the Reds. TweetPinShare0 Shares
The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) Tuesday said it will seek government guarantees to ensure that political tensions with Pakistan do not lead to international events being taken away from the country.WFI president Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh said the United World Wrestling’s (UWW) diktat to international federations, asking them to snap communication with India, might jeopardise the nation’s chances of hosting the junior Asian Championships in July.”Today we will write to the government of India to find a solution to the matter. Wrestling and wrestlers can’t suffer. We are drafting a letter to urge the government to ensure that sports does not suffer,” Singh, who was recently elected as WFI President for a third term, told PTI.”We will do our best to ensure that the junior championship remains in India. A solution has to be found. I have not read the UWW directive as yet but whatever it is, no sport should suffer for no fault,” he added.The UWW directive went out after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended all talks with India on hosting of future events owing to denial of visas to Pakistani shooters for last month’s World Cup in Delhi in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack.More than 40 CRPF personnel were killed in the attack, the responsibility of which was taken by Pakistan-based terrorist outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed.Taking note of the visa denial to Pakistan shooters, IOC withdrew the Olympic Quota status of the 25m Rapid Pistol event from the prestigious event.advertisementThe junior Asian Championship is scheduled from July 9-14.India got its hosting rights after Lebanon expressed its inability to conduct the championship. India had hosted the junior Asian Championship last year as well and WFI had to wait quite a while to get visa approval for Pakistan wrestlers.WFI Assistant Secretary Vinod Tomar said the UWW wants an assurance from the Indian government that visas will be approved to all wrestlers from participating nations.”Yes, they have temporarily stopped all correspondence with us. They want assurance from the government that there will be no political interference in sporting matters. Let’s see what the government decides. We are approaching the government today,” said Tomar.”We have hardly four months to put everything in place. We did not bid for it but after Lebanon withdrew, it was offered to us by UWW-Asia. We had agreed to host it but now we can do it only if the government assures that visas will be given to all participating nations,” said Tomar.Tomar said other federations could also face a similar situation in the coming days if government guarantees don’t come through.”This directive has come to us first because we are hosting this championship. The IOC does not want any political interference, so I will not be surprised if other national federations also get similar treatment from their respective world governing bodies,” he said.Also Read | World wrestling body asks all national federations to suspend dealing with IndiaAlso Read | IOC bars India from hosting future sporting events after Pakistani shooters denied visas
New Delhi: A-62-year-old man was arrested for allegedly supplying ammunition illegally to criminals based in Delhi-NCR and Punjab, police said Saturday. Amarlal, a native of Abohar in Punjab and residing in Patel Nagar, was arrested on Friday at Sonia Vihar Pushta road near MCD Khatta here. He had arrived in a white car to deliver a huge cache of ammunition to his contact, said G Ram Gopal Naik, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime). Also Read – Gurdwara Bangla Sahib bans single use plasticA total of 1,000 live cartridges of .32 pistol, 1,000 live cartridges of .315 pistol and Rs 25,000 were recovered from his possession, he said. During interrogation, Amarlal disclosed that he used to get the ammunition at a cost of Rs 125-150 per cartridge from a known gun house owner at Shahbad in Ambala, Haryana, and sold them to criminals for Rs 200-250 per cartridge, Naik said. He has been supplying the ammunition illegally to criminals since 2002, the DCP said. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murder Naik said Amarlal initially used to work as a salesman in gun houses in Abohar and Fazilka in Punjab. He then started his own gun house in Abohar but suffered losses, the DCP said Naik said Amarlal later began selling ammunition illegally to criminals and also helped people get fake arms licenses. He was first arrested by the CBI in a fake arms license case in 2002 and later on by local police in the Arms Act cases, said the officer. Further investigation is underway, police said.
This morning, UN relief workers distributed food rations to over 20,000 people in the earthquake zone, with another large shipment scheduled to arrive later in the day. The aid deliveries include wheat, oil, lentils, and sugar, as well as clothing, tents, blankets, candles and mattresses. UN officials lauded the cooperation of the Afghan authorities, saying that urgent needs in the area have been met, mostly through in-country stocks. “The acute phase of the earthquake response is winding down now as the UN and its partners begin tackling reconstruction needs,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York. “Housing is the main problem, with an estimated 15,000 homes damaged or destroyed by the quake.”In designing the strategy for reconstruction, local expertise and capability will be sought, according to the latest situation report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Current weather conditions are “likely to be conducive to house building,” the report states.
Share Tweet Email12 Reinhard Schaler Brain injury: ”Fighting’ has become my mission in life since my son Pádraig’s catastrophic accident’ It’s time to stand tall for the rights of persons with neurological illnesses, and especially for those with severe acquired brain injuries, writes Reinhard Schaler. Apr 23rd 2017, 3:00 PM Sunday 23 Apr 2017, 3:00 PM By Reinhard Schaler 14 Comments Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this article http://jrnl.ie/3350010 473 Views Founder and CEO of the An Saol Foundation Short URL I AM WRITING here on behalf of the voiceless, the people lost in HSE statistics, plans, strategies and task forces. Those for whom the institutions continue to make decisions “in their best interest”.I am not neutral on this matter. German born, I have my own collective memory about the State taking control of what is best for sick people. I also have years of personal experience as the father of a catastrophic brain injury survivor.The truth is that the “fight for life” has become my mission in life since our son Pádraig’s accident in 2013, when he was hit by a truck trying to overtake him with oncoming traffic, as he was cycling to work on Cape Cod. He was spending the summer there on a J1.Lack of staff and resourcesOn September 2 2008, the Irish Times reported that the NRH got the “green light for 235-bed facility” with the new building to be completed by 2012.Fast forward 9 years to earlier this week, when the issue of bed closures in the existing National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH), and the fact that the new building was never built, was raised (again) in the papers and on Morning Ireland.The NRH, with a waiting list of 226 patients, some of whom have been waiting for more than two years, has twelve beds lying empty because “of a lack of staff”. Valuable resources are seriously under-used in the NRH, including robotic walking equipment, worth hundreds of thousands of euros, and provided to the NRH by generous donors.The Brain Injury Programme of the NRH, the only one of its kind in the country, still has no neurologist as part of the team and has no direct access to basic equipment such as an EEG monitor, a CAT scanner or an MRI machine.I don’t blame you if you haven’t heard about this very serious and shocking lack of resources in the NRH, because the NRH is not telling us about it.You either find out about it yourself the hard way (as a patient or family member) or via investigative journalism.The Strategy for the Provision of Neuro-Rehabilitation Services in Ireland On 16 December 2011, the HSE published the Strategy for the Provision of Neuro-Rehabilitation Services in Ireland 2011 – 2015.Towards the end of 2016, the HSE circulated a draft implementation plan for this strategy to stakeholders, which did not contain a timeline, nor a proposed budget, nor the names of those responsible for its execution. The current plan is to present such a strategy to the Minister by June of this year.Let’s be honest: a first year business class student handing in such a plan would fail their course work. Yet, not only do we allow such a plan to pass, we engage in serious discussion about it with the authors. Are we mad?I know from the experience of our own son that, with the right treatment, recovery, even from a severe acquired brain injury (sABI), does indeed happen. Still non-verbal, but now well able to communicate using a switch, he has told us that he is enjoying life as much as we do and passes through difficult patches, just like us.We know from research (and so should the HSE “experts”) that once someone has regained consciousness, even a minimally conscious state, recovery can take many, many years.Abandonment is not an optionPádraig’s journey through life did not finish with the catastrophic brain injury when that van at speed hit his head on Cape Cod almost four years ago. It did not finish because he was determined not to let that happen.He could have died many times over, starting at the time of the accident itself, during his time in Cape Cod Hospital when doctors were pressing us for organ donation. He could have died on his way back to Ireland with his head fixed by duct tape to a tiny stretcher, when his lungs collapsed, when a SIRS (type of sepsis) took control of his body, when deadly hospital bugs wouldn’t go away but kept coming, or from a life-threatening thrombosis that kept his doctors on their toes.He could have decided that he’d had enough and packed it in. But he didn’t.Pádraig has decided to get through thisInstead, in his stubbornness and single-mindedness, still being the athlete he was when he was swimming on a scholarship in Kentucky and won Irish championships, he has decided to get through this, to recover from his injuries as much as he humanly can. And I can tell you, he has never ever trained as hard as he has over the past three years.From not being able to respond, move or control his body in any way, smell, taste, eat, drink, talk or even make a noise, from a state where we had to suction phlegm out of his throat at regular intervals via a tracheostomy tube, he has moved to a state where he can reliably use a switch to answer questions, spell words, let us know what he wants to do, eat, drink, wear, watch (movies, tv), or listen to.We insisted on the removal of the tracheostomy and are using the PEG only for additional water (drinking large amounts of liquids still takes some time but is constantly improving).He was the only one in the family who didn’t even catch a cold over the past two winters, and he has not been on any medication for a long time. He is eating and drinking with more ease every day. Last weekend he enjoyed lamb shank and homemade pancakes. He has been to concerts, plays, and the cinema.He has told us that he is coming to terms with his new life, that what bothers him most are the barriers to communication, and that he will continue to work really hard on his recovery.No part of this incredible journey has been easyPádraig will be the first person, never mind the first wheelchair user, to complete the newly designed Camino Celta following the ancient route his forefathers (or rather mothers) followed to visit the tomb of St James in Santiago de Compostela.Having already completed the 25km-long Irish leg to Dingle, he will walk the remaining 75km from A Coruña to Santiago starting today, April 22. A week later, he will collect his Compostela in the pilgrims’ office in Santiago, the certificate that will give testimony to his incredible achievements, so far.No part of this incredible journey has been easy. Not for Pádraig, not for myself and our family.I decided to take the maximum period of carer’s leave from my job and am currently considering what I will do when the two years are up at the end of August. I have effectively started a new career, becoming a specialist in neuro rehabilitation with a focus on severe acquired brain injuries, and a social entrepreneur establishing the An Saol Foundation to support survivors of sABI and their families in their quest of a new life that is worth living.Is this not something that the health system should provide?I am constantly wondering is this not something that society and the health system should provide, rather than announcing new hospitals that are never built, producing expensive strategy papers that aren’t implemented, publishing draft implementation plans without a schedule, budget or assigned responsibilities, setting up task forces that meet often but implement nothing.Article 25 of the universal declaration of Human Rights states:Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.I am not a judge nor am I a legal expert. But if needs be, I will become one to make sure Ireland complies with her obligations to her citizens, including those with an sABI.A well-known Irish rehab consultant has said: “Change will come when enough families agitate. It is the families who will be able to drive change.” I’d like to think that the professions, led by consultants, also have a role here.It’s time to lift our heads up, to stand tall for the rights of people with neurological illnesses, and especially for those with severe acquired brain injuries. Like everybody else they have a right to receive the treatment and therapies they require, to be included in society, and to live life with dignity and respect.Reinhard Schaler is the father of Pádraig Schaler who suffered a severe acquired brain injury in 2013. He is founder and CEO of the An Saol Foundation (www.ansaol.ie). Encouraged by a rehab consultant in 2013, he started to write a daily blog about his son’s and his own personal journey through life and the world of neuro rehabilitation (www.hospi-tales.com). This month, Pádraig will become the first person to complete the ‘Camino Celta’ in his wheelchair, going from A Coruña to Santiago de Compostela, having already completed the necessary 25 km of the Irish leg to Dingle last weekend.Opinion: ‘The government won’t remove the Church from its authority over social services until we demand it’>Recycling: ‘This can’t go on. I want refundable deposits on bottles and cans. It can be done’>
Stay on target Tokyo 2020 Unveils Olympic Medals Made From Old ElectronicsRIP Drogo: Jason Momoa Shaves Beard to Inspire Change The Netherlands has long been known as the country of cyclists. The Dutch love their bikes. So much so that the country’s 17 million residents own more than 22 million bikes.Why shouldn’t people own an average of 1.3 bikes when there are so many cool places to ride them? Amsterdam alone has nearly 800km of bike lanes. They’ve even got one that glows in the dark and looks like it’s straight out of a Van Gogh painting.Today, Dutch riders can take a short spin down the world’s first path made from recycled plastic. The 30-meter stretch was built using a product called PlasticRoad. Inventors Anne Koudstaal and Simon Jorritsma call the path “a big step towards a sustainable and future-proof road[.]”The prefabricated, hollow-core panels are lightweight, easy to install, and incredibly durable. It’s reportedly much less prone to cracks and potholes than some traditional kinds of paving and estimated to last three times as long as the surfaces it can replace.That’s partly due to the panels’ clever, built-in drainage system. In The Netherlands, that’s a bit of a necessity since the country sees around 76cm of rain on an annual basis. Sensors have also been installed to assess the volume of traffic and monitor how the PlasticRoad is performing.The PlasticRoad panels used for this installation aren’t 100% recycled, but that’s the ultimate goal. Still, Koudstaal and Jorritsma say that the project utilized the equivalent of about 218,000 plastic cups.When a section of PlasticRoad does eventually fall into disrepair, it can simply be removed and recycled… perhaps even into a new modular panel.A second bike path is planned for the town of Giethoorn about 30 minutes north of Zwolle. Additional pilot projects are being looked at to test PlasticRoad’s suitability for installations like sidewalks, train platforms, and parking lots. For more on recycling check out these chewing gum shoes and tips and what you shouldn’t be recycling.Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.
More than a quarter (28%) of UK respondents value being able to choose their own work location more than having an increase in their holiday allowance, according to research by flexible workspace provider IWG.Its Global workspace survey, which polled 15,000 respondents across more than 80 countries, including 2,153 professionals in the UK, also found that 58% of UK respondents see organisational culture as the main barrier to implementing a flexible workspace policy, which is defined as the ability to choose and change workplace locations. Furthermore, 43% stated that fear of how flexible working may impact the overall organisational culture is the biggest obstacle.More than four-fifths (82%) of UK professionals plan to improve talent retention by introducing flexible working; this is particularly pertinent as 30% of respondents revealed that they would prioritise being able to work flexibly over having a more prestigious role. In addition, 81% of UK respondents believe that flexible working improves work-life balance.Mark Dixon (pictured), chief executive officer and founder at IWG, said: “Last year, our Global workspace survey talked about reaching a tipping point, but what we are seeing now is that flexible working is considered by many to be the new norm for any business that is serious about productivity, agility and winning the war for top talent. Indeed, half of all our respondents claim to work outside their main office location for at least half of the week.”Among those in the UK, 73% feel that flexible working has become the new normal, with 80% believing they would choose a job which offered flexible working over a job that did not. Over the past 10 years, 84% of UK organisations have implemented a flexible workspace policy or are planning to adopt one.Half (50%) of UK professionals state that they work outside their organisation’s main location for at least half of their working week, while for 70%, a choice of work environment is a key factor when evaluating new career opportunities.Almost two-fifths (37%) of UK respondents think that official working hours should include time spent commuting.Dixon added: “Businesses around the world are facing multiple challenges, including ensuring that their business is agile enough to adapt to change. Our research shows that businesses that haven’t already considered the financial and strategic benefits of [a] flexible workspace need to do so now.“Otherwise, [employers] face being seen as out of touch, both with their competitors and with the demands of the modern workforce on what constitutes a great day at work, which means losing out on the best talent.”
A postal worker who faked having cancer in order to take advantage of paid leave has been ordered to spend hundreds of hours at a treatment center.According to the Department of Justice, 60-year-old Caroline Zarate Boyle plead guilty in April to faking her diagnosis and claiming she had cancer so she could take sick leave. On Tuesday, a judge ordered Boyle to spend 652 hours at a cancer treatment center, research center or hospice, to pay a $10,000 fine, and to pay $20,793.38 in restitution to the U.S. Postal Service.Investigators discovered Boyle forged notes from two doctors about treatment related to non-Hodgkins lymphoma. She was granted 112 days of sick leave and was allowed to work part-time from home and receive paid leave.In February, Boyle interviewed with the Postal Service’s Office of the Inspector General, and she said that her plan was to continue taking time off until her retirement in April. Investigators determined that Boyle had decided to take time off after being passed over for a promotion.Boyle has since also been sentenced to five years on probation with the first six months in home confinement.Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Copyright 2019 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. CAPE CORAL, Fla. (WSVN) — A holiday event meant to fill families with excitement had the opposite effect after it was crashed by a man with a message for the children in the audience.According to WBBH, Cape Coral’s Festival of Lights was crashed by a man holding a giant sign as he yelled at children and families, telling them Santa isn’t real and that parents were lying to their children.Video of the incident was captured by one woman who said the man yelled for hours at the event.“There’s no Santa Claus!” the man is heard yelling in the clip. “They’re all lies!”One mother said some children left the event in tears.According to WBBH, police were at the event, but they said they couldn’t do anything because the man was exercising free speech.They added that the only way they could intervene is if the man used a voice enhancer, such as a megaphone, or if he created a riot.
The Alaska license plate was K9DOC and the vehicle was a green 2001 Chevrolet pickup. The owner of the vehicle was contacted and reported the vehicle had been stolen from 11635 Seward Highway. The vehicle failed to stop for APD and was last seen northbound on the Seward Highway where the pursuit was ended by APD due to dangerous conditions to the public. The Anchorage Police Department was notified of the stolen vehicle and reported the vehicle had been called in as a REDDI earlier and the occupants of the vehicle had brandished a handgun. APD located the vehicle on the Seward Highway between Girdwood and Anchorage. On June 23, the Seward Police Department attempted to stop a dark colored Chevrolet pickup traveling at a high rate of speed near the Seward Highway and Nash Road. The vehicle failed to yield and the Seward Police Department did not pursue the vehicle. The stolen vehicle was last seen headed north on the Seward Highway, according to the online Trooper dispatch. Facebook0TwitterEmailPrintFriendly分享The Alaska State Troopers are trying to locate a stolen Chevrolet pickup that eluded both Seward and Anchorage police over the weekend. Anyone with information regarding these incidents is encouraged to contact the Alaska State Troopers at 907-262-4453.
The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, who guest-edited the September issue of British Vogue magazine, reached out to the former First Lady, Michelle Obama, to speak about motherhood.Discussing the experience of interviewing Michelle Obama, Markle wrote in the intro page that she was left “somewhat speechless” as Michelle spoke about motherhood. The Duchess of Sussex further added how her “simple questions” were answered with “a thoughtful, reflective and beautifully curated narrative – a gentle reminder not of how but of why she has become such a globally respected public figure.”Obama’s quote read, “Being a mother has been a masterclass in letting go. Try as we might, there’s only so much we can control. And, boy, have I tried – especially at first.” British Vogue coverTwitterShe further stated, “As mothers, we just don’t want anything or anyone to hurt our babies. But life has other plans. Bruised knees, bumpy roads and broken hearts are part of the deal. What’s both humbled and heartened me is seeing the resiliency of my daughters.””In some ways, Malia and Sasha couldn’t be more different. One speaks freely and often one opens up on her own terms. One shares her innermost feelings, the other is content to let you figure it out. Neither approach is better or worse, because they’ve both grown into smart, compassionate and independent young women, fully capable of paving their own paths,” said Michelle.Michelle also talked about the importance of letting her daughters make their own choices. “Motherhood has taught me that, most of the time, my job is to give them the space to explore and develop into the people they want to be. Not who I want them to be or who I wish I was at that age, but who they are, deep inside,” she explained.”Motherhood has also taught me that my job is not to bulldoze a path for them in an effort to eliminate all possible adversity. But instead, I need to be a safe and consistent place for them to land when they inevitably fail; and to show them, again and again, how to get up on their own,” Michelle further added. Meghan Markle also spoke with our Forever FLOTUS, Michelle Obama. https://t.co/a6AV1BYcVX pic.twitter.com/yy0m9ZdZKN— Britni Danielle (@BritniDWrites) July 30, 2019 British VogueTwitterWell, these words sure reflect greatly on the Duchess of Sussex, who recently had baby Archie with Prince Harry.Michelle stated, “Don’t get me wrong, early parenthood is exhausting. I’m sure you know a thing or two about that these days. But there is something so magical about having a baby in the house. Time expands and contracts; each moment holds its own little eternity. I’m so excited for you and Harry to experience that, Meghan. Savour it all.”The full interview can be read in British Vogue’s digital September issue.
Depending on how you look at it, Ann Hodges was either a very lucky or very very unlucky woman. Statistically speaking, except for winning the PowerBall lottery, there are few things less likely to ever happen to someone than getting hit by a meteorite. Yet one man’s Christmas was absolutely ruined in 1965 and his car completely destroyed when a meteorite struck and pierced the hood of his brand new Vauxhall Viva in Leicestershire, England. It was far from a “Merry Christmas” when the small chunk of rock from outer space dropped in for the holidays, uninvited.According to The Daily Mirror, someone is struck or killed directly by an asteroid or another body from outer space only once every 7,000 years. And on November 30, 1954, Ann Hodges from Talladega County, Alabama, was unlucky enough to be that someone. The space rock didn’t kill her. She survived and became an unwitting celebrity for a while. But it didn’t bring her any luck whatsoever. On the contrary, it led to a bitter legal battle, eventually contributing to the breakdown of both her marriage and her mental health. She died all alone in a nursing home two decades after the incident.Ann Hodges (1923 – 1972), who had been struck by a meteorite while inside her home, Sylacauga, Alabama, late 1954. (Photo by Jay Leviton/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)The story goes that the 32-year-old was taking her afternoon nap when she got a real wake-up call, surprised by a nine-pound piece of black rock that dropped from the sky onto the small town of Oak Grove near Sylacauga; it crashed through the ceiling, bounced off the radio right next to her, and smashed her left hip. The poor woman was left with a ghastly looking football-sized bruise and total confusion as to what had just happened.Her mother, Ida Franklyn, was also in the house at the time. They wondered if maybe a plane had exploded mid-air. What else could it be? It wasn’t a bomb for sure. The initial fears of both of them, their neighbors, and the authorities was of a possible Soviet attack–it was the Cold War era after all. Neighbors who had witnessed the fast descending fireball followed its trail to the Hodges’ home, to offer help and satisfy their curiosity.Interior view of a hole in the ceiling of the rental home where Ann Elizabeth Hodges and her husband lived, through which she was struck by a falling meteorite, Sylacauga, Alabama, late 1954. (Photo by Jay Leviton/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)Her husband, Eugene, arrived home from work to find the front yard full of gawkers peeking through the windows. He was looking at his house with a huge hole in it and, inside, his wife and his mother-in-law were scared and confused. He called a doctor and the local police, and soon enough the medics, along with Sylacauga Chief of Police W. D. Ashcraft and the town’s mayor, Ed Howard, were on their doorstep.Ann was examined thoroughly by physician Moody Jacobs, who assured her family that Ann, although severely bruised and swollen, was well and without severe injuries. He did however admit her to the local hospital a few days later so she could get some respite from the overwhelming attention. Suspecting it was a meteorite, Howard and Ashcraft took the rock to local geologist George Swindel, who tentatively confirmed it. Later that day, the local authorities handed the meteorite over the U.S. Air Force for analysis.Word of the unusual event quickly spread and the Hodges’ property was overrun by curious onlookers and prying reporters who sensed a good story. Reporters from every television, radio, and newspaper seemingly wanted the story about the first person to survive being struck by a meteorite. Excited and overwhelmed by the attention, the Hodges were more than happy to speak about it at first. But there was no privacy, there was no peace and quiet. The phone was ringing constantly. And then there was the rock from outer space.Sylacauga meteorite slice, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC. Photo: wrightbrosfan – Flickr CC BY SA 2.0According to National Geographic and official statements made by the Alabama Museum of Natural History, where the rock is now on display, Ann believed it belonged to her. “I feel like the meteorite is mine,” she said. “I think God intended it for me. After all, it hit me!”However, the stone was not in her possession and the house they lived in was not theirs. She and her husband were tenants to Birdie Guy, a recently widowed lady who claimed property ownership over the now much talked about stone. She wanted it for herself and be the center of the Alabama media craze. This was the big thing at the time. And she wanted in.But where was the rock from outer space? Neither Ann nor her landlady had it in their possession.U.S. Air Force Intelligence had sent it to the Smithsonian Institution for further examination and deeper analysis. They believed it was supposed to stay there and be examined for an unlimited time, until Alabama Congressman Kenneth Roberts got involved and ordered them to return it to the Hodges’. The public was by now already on Ann’s side, yet the law was not. Their landlady hired a lawyer and sued them for ownership, insisting the space-rock was hers, since it dropped on her property. Ann and her husband hired their own lawyer and threatened to counter-sue for injuries. It was a real mess. Their yard was constantly filled with reporters, while their home still had a hole in the roof. Guy claimed that if she was obliged to fix it, she should then rightfully own the stone as well.Ann was virtually everywhere in the media. In Life magazine, she was talking about her experience. In New York, on Gary Moore’s TV quiz show, I’ve Got a Secret, she was there to reveal her secrets. She was the front cover story in almost every major magazine.In the end, both parties decided to settle the matter out of court.The Hodges family bought out the rights for $500, believing they could make a huge profit. After all, their neighbor did. Julius Kempis McKinney, who found a little piece of the rock not far from their house along the road, had bought a new house and a car out of what he made from it. Unfortunately, two years had passed and the story was fully covered by now. Public interest had waned and the media was on to the next big thing.They refused the first offer to buy the meteorite, from the Smithsonian Institution, because they saw the offer as inadequate and insulting. However, it was the only party who showed any interest. No one offered to buy the stone again. Exhausted from everything and disappointed, Ann donated the meteorite to the Alabama Museum of Natural History, believing the fallen rock was a bad omen that had brought nothing but distress and bad luck in their lives.Some think Ann and her husband were not equipped enough to deal with the publicity, others that they didn’t use their fame to bargain with the media while it lasted. What’s for sure is that they earned almost nothing out of it, and while her wounds healed and the craze was all gone, the experience of what they had been through stayed with them for life.Randy Mecredy, director of the Alabama Museum, gave his opinion to National Geographic: “the Hodges were just simple country people… all the attention was her downfall. She never did recover after that.”Related story from us: In 1965, a man’s car was hit by a piece of meteorite, and after his insurance company called it “an act of God,” he allegedly went to church in search of paymentUnable to cope with the aftermath emotionally, the couple split in 1964 after Ann Hodges had suffered a massive nervous breakdown. With her health deteriorating and in a fragile mental state, she found herself in a nursing home, where she died alone from kidney failure in 1972. To this day, Ann Hodges is the only recorded victim of a meteor strike who has lived to tell the tale.
(Credit: Brian Stauffer/brianstauffer.com)As alarm grew over autism prevalence at the turn of this century, there was much public talk of a growing “epidemic.” That language has since softened, and it is now clear that many autistic people were there all along, their condition unrecognized until relatively recently.But what is the cause? The emerging narrative today is that there is no single cause — rather, multiple factors, roughly sorted into the categories of genetics and environment, work together in complex ways. Because of this complexity and the hundreds of gene variants that have been implicated, developing human brains may follow many possible paths to arrive at a place on the autism spectrum.And this may help explain something true about autism: It varies greatly from one person to the next.As clinicians view it, autism involves communication deficits and formulaic, repetitive behaviors that present obstacles to establishing conventional relationships. The soft borders of that definition — where does communication difficulty cross over into communication deficit? — suggest blurred margins between people who are diagnosed with autism and those who approach, but never quite cross, the line into diagnostic territory.Those who do have diagnoses display behaviors on a continuum of intensity. Their use of spoken language ranges from not speaking at all to being hyperverbal. They can have a unique interest in the finer details of window blinds or an intense but more socially tolerated fascination with dinosaurs. As with many human behaviors, each feature exists on a spectrum, and these spectra blend in a person to create what clinicians call autism.By pinpointing risk-associated genes and uncovering their roles, studying the roots of autism also is providing new insights into the development of all human brains, autistic or not. Here is a taste of what we now know, and what we don’t, about autism’s causes — and what that search is teaching us about everybody’s neurology.They Know It When They See ItDespite the many and varied threads that may interweave to cause autism, the condition is largely identifiable. What clinicians are really saying when they diagnose autism, says James McPartland, a clinical psychologist at the Yale Child Study Center, is that they see a recognizable, if broadly defined, constellation of behaviors. “So really, there is something true about autism, and everyone who meets the diagnosis of autism shows these kinds of behaviors.”US rates of autism diagnoses have increased over the years, as shown in this graph. Numbers are averages of prevalence among 8-year-old children from several reporting sites of the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network. Not all sites reported in each year shown, and the ranges can be broad (for example, in 2000 the average was 6.7 per 1,000 children, but the range from different reporting sites was 4.5 to 9.9). At least part of the increase is due to heightened awareness and shifting diagnostic criteriaAt the same time, the subtle differences in how each autistic person manifests the telltale features make it highly individual, says Pauline Chaste, a child psychiatrist at Inserm U 894, the Centre de Psychiatrie et Neurosciences, in Paris. “We describe a specific behavior that exists — that kind of social impairment and rigidity. You can have more or less of it, but it definitely exists.”The more or less of autism could trace, in part, to the types of gene variants that contribute to it in a given person. Some of these variants have a big effect by themselves, while others make tiny contributions, and any autistic person could have their own unique mix of both. One thing seems clear: Though there may be something true about autism, as McPartland puts it, the existence of “one true autism gene” or even one gene for each autism feature is unlikely.Instead, there will be patterns of gene combinations and the results they produce, says epidemiologist Elise Robinson of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and an associate member of the Broad Institute. People who have both autism and intellectual disability, for example, tend to have more big-effect gene mutations than people with autism alone.Facial CommunicationLooking for these contributing gene variants isn’t simply an exercise in scientific curiosity or in finding potential targets for drug treatments. Because most of these genes direct how human brains develop and nerve cells communicate, learning about how they lead to autism can also reveal a lot about how everyone’s brain works.For example, a key autism trait is atypical social behaviors, such as, sometimes, not focusing on “social” facial features like the eyes. Although the tendency to look into another person’s eyes seems like something we might learn simply from being around other people, autism research has revealed that genes underlie the instinct.In a 2017 study, the authors first showed that identical twins are similar in how they look at a video with social content, such as faces. When viewing the same video, the identical twin pairs shifted their eyes with the same timing and focused on the same things far more than did two non-identical siblings or unrelated children. The fact that almost all twin pairs shared this tendency suggests solid genetic underpinnings for the behavior.Having established a strong genetic contribution to this trait, the investigators, from Emory University and the Marcus Autism Center in Georgia and Washington University in St. Louis, then showed that the tendency to look at the eye and mouth areas of a human face is decreased in autistic children. They concluded that while not all of the inclination to look at certain parts of a face is genetic, much of it is.Twin studies like this are powerful tools for evaluating how much genes dictate a feature, and such investigations reveal that the genetic contribution to autism is substantial. Autism also tends to cluster in non-twin family members: One in five infants who has an older sibling with autism also develops it.Genetic DeterminantsOverall, genetics accounts for about 70 to 80 percent of factors contributing to autism, says neurologist Daniel Geschwind, director of UCLA’s autism research and treatment center. By comparison, a condition like depression has an underlying genetic contribution of about 50 percent, he says. Alessandro Gozzi, neuroscientist and group leader at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, weights the power of genes even more, placing the shared diagnosis rate between twins as high as 95 percent, depending on how strict the diagnostic boundaries are. But regardless of the precise value, he says that the “wide consensus” among autism researchers is that genetics is a powerful determinant of autism.Going the next step — finding the specific genes involved — is a monumental task. It’s also one that yields dividends for understanding brain function more broadly.The candidate gene variants are today very numerous, but a few stand out for their potential to exert a large effect. Chaste cites fragile X syndrome and Rett syndrome as examples — both are genetic conditions (termed syndromes because they are defined by a cluster of traits) that are tied to variants of a single gene or chromosome region and are closely associated with autism.Children with fragile X syndrome carry X chromosomes with an abnormality at the tip of one of the chromosome arms, as shown in this illustration (normal X on the left, abnormal X on the right). This affects a gene called FMR1, which carries instructions for a protein important for brain activity, such that little or none of the protein is made. Fragile X is associated with a range of developmental disabilities, often including autism. (Credit: Soleil Nordic/Shhutterstock)The gene linked to fragile X syndrome lies on the X chromosome. Its name, FMR1, is easily forgettable, but the effects of its variants are not. Studies on the causes of fragile X reveal that the protein this gene encodes, FMRP, acts as a cellular shuttle for RNA molecules that are crucial for nerve-cell communication and plasticity of connections in the brain. In people with fragile X, cells don’t produce the protein, or make very little of it. The FMR1 variants underlying fragile X are the most common known genetic cause of intellectual disability and are implicated in 1 to 6 percent of autism cases.Like FMR1, the genetic changes involved in Rett syndrome also affect brain development. A gene called methyl CpG binding protein 2, or MECP2, oversees the activity of many brain-related genes, turning them off or on. Because of this pivotal role for MECP2, mutations that affect its function can lead to broad effects. Some of the resulting features look so much like autism that Rett syndrome was categorized as an autism spectrum disorder until 2013.Other genetic syndromes also include autism as a feature. Some are caused by variants in a gene called SHANK3 which, like most genes implicated in autism, is involved in brain development and function. The protein that it encodes helps to coax nerve extensions to form and take shape so that a nerve cell can communicate with others. The SHANK3 protein also provides a physical scaffold for those cells to link up. In populations of people with mutations that prevent SHANK3 protein production or who are missing the segment of chromosome 22 that contains the gene, most will have autism or Phelan-McDermid syndrome, which often includes autism.Yet another syndrome arises from the loss or duplication of a chunk of chromosome 16. Researchers linked this chromosomal change to autism in studies comparing the DNA of people with and without the condition, singling out sequence alterations found only in autistic participants.Despite their clear ties to autism, these syndromes are rare. “Collectively, they are found in about 5 percent of the total population of patients with autism,” Gozzi says. That leaves a great deal to explain.Inheritance on a SpectrumSo where do the other autistic people come from, genetically speaking? Robinson says that their genetics don’t neatly fall into two types of buckets, of either a few genes with big effects or many genes with small effects. “It’s been well established at this point that it’s not either–or,” she says.In fact, says Gozzi, varying combinations of big-effect mutations and lots of different, smaller-effect ones could explain the wide spectrum of differences observed among autistic people. The evidence supports such a range, he says: everything from a few heavy-hitting variations in some people, to an additive dose from many variants in others, and with overlap between the two patterns in still others.Scientists have identified many genetic variants that are linked to a raised risk of autism. Often, these variants affect the function of genes involved in the development and activity of brain cells. Here are four such genes, each of which carries instructions for a protein (called MECP2, PTEN, FMRP and SHANK3) that has an important function in neurons. Studies like this, of autism’s genetic causes, are teaching scientists more about brain biology.Geschwind adds yet another layer of complexity: the role of the cellular environment that all the other gene variants in a person create, known as the background effect. For example, someone could have a mutation conferring high risk that is either enhanced or diminished by the background input from other genes not directly related to autism, to create a gradation of autism intensity.Environmental InfluencesWhen researchers speak of environmental inputs to traits, diseases and disorders, they are referring to everything from pollutants in the air to subtle perturbations inside cells to cues from other cells. Finding such causative candidates for autism generally involves epidemiological studies that look for correlations between autism rates in a population and an environmental factor of interest.These connections aren’t easy to locate. In the case of genes, if a study involves enough people, even rare genetic differences that make small contributions to autism can often be plucked from the pile. Not so for environmental influences if their effects are significant but small, says Robinson. Within those epidemiological studies, you have to be able to detect that slight signal and assess its power against the larger, background noise of lots of other variations in the cell, body or outside environment that you might not even be aware of and might not be relevant. “We don’t live in a simple, single-exposure world,” says Kristen Lyall, an epidemiologist at Drexel University in Philadelphia.And even when a connection is made, its basis is still just math. That is certainly the first step in evaluating a link between an environmental factor and a condition such as autism: As one thing goes up, does the other follow? But two things that track together don’t necessarily share a biological association. (One of the silliest examples to illustrate how misleading correlation can be is how tightly the number of people killed by venomous spiders each year tracks with the number of letters in the winning word of the same year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee.)In the case of genetic studies, gene changes with tiny effects can still be considered plausible if their usual role relates to brain function in some way. Environmental factors aren’t as well catalogued, measured and tracked. But the better epidemiological studies do look for correlations with credible and pre-identified factors of interest (so, not Scripps Spelling Bee words).For feasibility’s sake, work on environmental factors in autism has tended to focus on inputs that have broad effects on brain development. Robinson points to extreme preterm birth, which is related to many kinds of neurodevelopmental disorders — autism among them.Eventually, studies can add up to connect dots and arrive at a plausible story of cause and effect. For example, along with preterm birth, air pollution also has been linked to autism risk. Another recent study found that when oil and power plants close down, preterm births in the region drop. It’s therefore a reasonable hypothesis that very preterm birth operates as an intermediate between air pollution exposure and autism.View this interactive map created by the team at Spectrum News. The map displays autism prevalence studies conducted at different times and places around the world. Each dot refers to a study. Clicking on the dots reveals granular information such as the country, sample size, years studied, autism prevalence, age of children, diagnostic criteria and sex ratio. (Credit SpectrumNews.org)Lyall believes that prenatal exposures to environmental pollutants that can behave like hormones are particularly strong candidates for involvement in autism risk. These chemicals, collectively known as endocrine-disrupting compounds, include pesticides and even heavy metals, and they are pretty much everywhere — in air, land, water, food and us.Some research suggests, for example, that exposure to the endocrine disruptor mercury in air pollution raises autism odds. The studies are few and the data haven’t overwhelmingly showed increases in risk, Lyall acknowledges, “but I think that it’s an interesting and important area for future research given the lack of regulation around these chemicals, their ubiquity in the environment and their known adverse effects on broader neurodevelopment.”Researchers have also homed in on plausible biological bases for a couple of other potential environmental effects. Gozzi points to animal studies, mostly in mice, that bolster human work linking autism in a child with prenatal exposure to a mother’s ramped-up immune responses as a result of infections. Again, Gozzi stresses that the findings are far from definitive, and most studies involving humans have focused on infections severe enough to require hospitalization.Another unearthed link is to paternal age at conception: Studies find that autism risk increases with the age of the father, usually starting in the thirties or forties, although the age range and magnitude of the increase vary among different studies. The cells that give rise to sperm tend to accumulate new mutations over the years, so the sperm contain sequence changes that pass to offspring but aren’t present in the father’s own body cells. Some of these changes involve regions or genes already implicated in autism risk. Sperm also show changes in the chemical tagging of DNA that controls the activity of genes.One of the more plausible environmental links to autism is age of the father. Over a man’s lifetime, genetic changes accrue in the cells that give rise to sperm, shown here in a scanning electron microscopy image. Among them are alterations in genes that can raise the risk of autism. (Credit: Sebastian Kaulitzki/Shutterstock)Establishing environmental cause unequivocally is almost impossible, because of ethical constraints. It’s one thing to examine blood or tissue samples for genetic variants that track with autism diagnoses. It’s another thing entirely to manipulate factors to see if they induce autism or not. No one’s going to deliberately infect a pregnant woman or have a group of men specifically delay fatherhood just to test how these factors influence autism odds.Researchers instead are stuck finding correlations between these factors and then looking at available measures, such as changes in gene activity, accrual of mutations over the lifespan and studies of autism-like behavior in animal models. And as they look at these associations, they often make discoveries that are relevant beyond autism — ones that have now been extended to studies of schizophrenia, aging and even human evolution. The link between autism and having an older father, for example, has led to studies examining how changes in sperm over time affect brain development in later generations.While most environmental candidates remain just that — candidates — Lyall says emphatically that one factor is out of the running: vaccines. “That’s pretty conclusively been shown to have no association with autism,” she says, noting the numerous large epidemiological studies that have reached that conclusion.The settled vaccine question is a small point of clarity in an otherwise blurred landscape of autism cause-and-effect research. Every new finding seems to open up yet more pathways, some leading toward autism, and some toward broader revelations about the brain and how hormones, the immune system, the air we breathe and more add up to make their mark on neural development. The network of genetic and environmental factors that converge and diverge to produce autism may reflect not only the multiplicity of ways of being autistic — but also, more broadly, of being human. 10.1146/knowable-022819-1 Emily Willingham’s work has appeared in Forbes, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post, and Undark, among others. She is the author of The Informed Parent: A Science-Based Guide to Your Child’s First Four Years (2016), co-written with Tara Haelle. This article originally appeared in Knowable Magazine, an independent journalistic endeavor from Annual Reviews. Sign up for the newsletter.
Yesterday, Google Cloud servers in the us-east1 region were cut off from the rest of the world as there was an issue reported with Cloud Networking and Load balancing within us-east1. These issues with Google Cloud Networking and Load Balancing have caused physical damage to multiple concurrent fiber bundles that serve network paths in us-east1. At 10:25 am PT yesterday, the status was updated that the “Customers may still observe traffic through Global Load-balancers being directed away from back-ends in us-east1 at this time.” It was later posted on the status dashboard that the mitigation work was underway for addressing the issue with Google Cloud Networking and Load Balancing in us-east1. However, the rate of errors was decreasing at the time but few users faced elevated latency. Around 4:05 pm PT, the status was updated, “The disruptions with Google Cloud Networking and Load Balancing have been root caused to physical damage to multiple concurrent fiber bundles serving network paths in us-east1, and we expect a full resolution within the next 24 hours. In the meantime, we are electively rerouting traffic to ensure that customers’ services will continue to operate reliably until the affected fiber paths are repaired. Some customers may observe elevated latency during this period. We will provide another status update either as the situation warrants or by Wednesday, 2019-07-03 12:00 US/Pacific tomorrow.” This outage seems to be the second major one that hit Google’s services in recent times. Last month, Google Calendar was down for nearly three hours around the world. Last month Google Cloud suffered a major outage that took down a number of Google services including YouTube, GSuite, Gmail, etc. According to a person who works on Google Cloud, the team is experiencing an issue with a subset of the fiber paths that supply the region and the team is working towards resolving the issue. They have mostly removed all the Google.com traffic out of the Region to prefer GCP customers. A Google employee commented on the HackerNews thread, “I work on Google Cloud (but I’m not in SRE, oncall, etc.). As the updates to  say, we’re working to resolve a networking issue. The Region isn’t (and wasn’t) “down”, but obviously network latency spiking up for external connectivity is bad. We are currently experiencing an issue with a subset of the fiber paths that supply the region. We’re working on getting that restored. In the meantime, we’ve removed almost all Google.com traffic out of the Region to prefer GCP customers. That’s why the latency increase is subsiding, as we’re freeing up the fiber paths by shedding our traffic.” Google Cloud users are tensed about this outage and awaiting the services to get restored back to normal. Ritiko, a cloud-based EHR company is also experiencing issues because of the Google Cloud outage, as they host their services there. As of now there is no further update from Google on if the outage is resolved, but they expect a full resolution within the next 24 hours. Check this space for new updates and information. Read Next Google Calendar was down for nearly three hours after a major outage Do Google Ads secretly track Stack Overflow users? Google open sources its robots.txt parser to make Robots Exclusion Protocol an official internet standard
WebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite A horror crash claimed the lives of 2 people this afternoon (Friday) in Helpmekaar Road.In addition to the 2 fatalities, the crash left 5 others injured.It is alleged that 2 bakkies collided after 1 of them swerved to avoid a pedestrian in the road.The vehicles were travelling in different directions.Police, Sharaj, EMRS, ER24 and Public Safety responded to the scene.One lane is closed to traffic, as police are still gathering information about the accident. Police officers are directing traffic around the scene.The injured were stabilised and transported to hospital for further treatment.
Comments Share Think Tank analyzes the second round of Democratic debates Sponsored Stories Meghan McCain to release audiobook on conservatism, family New high school in Mesa lets students pick career paths More Valley freeways to be closed this weekend for improvements The authority says it has checked scaffolding structures at other subway sites and confirmed their safety after the accident.Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper says two Chinese nationals found dead during a nine-hour search were submerged in wet cement.The city-state has worked to bolster a subway system rattled by breakdowns last December. Some say the system is overburdened by an increasing population.(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.) Top Stories SINGAPORE (AP) – Two workers at an underground construction site in Singapore have been killed in the latest blow for the city-state’s subway system.The Land Transport Authority says scaffolding collapsed Wednesday at a link being built for Singapore’s Bugis commuter station, killing two Chinese workers and injuring eight other people. The eight injured workers received medical attention, and at least five have left the hospital. Arizona families, Arizona farms: working to produce high-quality milk Quick workouts for men 5 treatments for adult scoliosis
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After reading the front page story of the Ladysmith Gazette about K9 Unit officer Henko van Zyl getting a brand new puppy, Bergville businessman Bashir Patel decided he could also make a difference in the war on crime.Mr Patel handed over a litter of five puppies to the Ladysmith K9 Unit on Wednesday last week, much to the delight of the officers.Mr Patel and his family took the decision to donate the puppies to the K9 Unit after being touched by the above-mentioned article in the Ladysmith Gazette.“My wife and I decided to do this because the K9 Unit does good work with their dogs, especially in combating crimes involving drugs. So many families are torn apart by drugs and we saw this as an opportunity for us to do a good deed for the community,” explained Mr Patel.The litter consists of five puppies, four males and one female. They are German Shepherds and are now 12 weeks old. The female was named Niki by the Patels, but the four males are as yet unnamed and will be given names later by the SAPS. The five have been taken to the Roodeplaat Training Institute, where they will be evaluated for training.Their training will start when they are about a year old. The temperament of each dog will be evaluated and this will guide trainers in deciding on which of the 11 dog disciplines each puppy will be suitable for. WebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite The 11 dog disciplines are as follows: patrol dogs that deter crime and apprehend suspects; tracker dogs that follow trails and tracks over long distances; narcotic dogs that search for drugs; sheep dogs that help Stock Theft Units to round up stolen animals; explosives dogs that detect explosive devices; search-and-rescue dogs that search for survivors of natural disasters or search for bodies in dams and rivers or elsewhere; biological body fluid detection dogs that detect human body fluid; fire investigation dogs that pinpoint the area where a fire has started or in searching for flammable substances; protected species dogs that detect substances such as abalone, rhino horn, or ivory; carcass and hide dogs that work with Stock Theft Units to search for animals that have been slaughtered; and currency detection dogs that are able to detect money.“We know the dogs will be well looked after and we pray to God that each puppy will make a significant and positive contribution to the fight against crime when they start work,” added Mr Patel as he bade the puppies goodbye.Every dog lover knows how heart-wrenching it is to say goodbye to your dog, so how much more so when you say goodbye to five cute puppies that have wormed their way into your heart. “We appreciate this sacrifice by the Patel family and thank them kindly for their selfless gesture” is the message from Ladysmith police.Captain George Hlongwane from the K9 Unit thanked the Ladysmith Gazette as well for the much-needed exposure in the media.