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Global rights watchdogs demand release of Lankan rights defenders

Global rights watchdogs demand release of Lankan rights defendersNew York, Mar 18 : The arbitrary arrest and detention of prominent human rights defenders is an attempt to silence criticism and divert the spotlight from ongoing abuses, leading global and Asian human rights monitors said today in a joint statement.

The statement was issued by Amnesty International, Forum Asia, Human Rights Watch, the International Crisis Group, and the International Commission of Jurists.

'Myspace' joins ranks of most popular sites used to solicit sex

'Myspace' joins ranks of most popular sites used to solicit sexNew York, March 16 : 'Myspace' has been identified as one of the more popular sites used to solicit sex by a recent study

The report released by the Urban Institute on the underground commercial sex industry in eight major U. S. cities has found that the sites' online services allegedly not only helping mask the illegal activity but geographically expand it, the New York Daily News reported.

According to the sex workers, Myspace is now as popular as Craigslist, Backpage. com, Adam4Ada. com, Eros. com, AdultSearch. com, TheEroticReview. com, and Cityvibe. com for soliciting clients.

A USB drive for faster transfer of mobile files

A USB drive for faster transfer of mobile filesNew York, March 15 - People using Android devices know it's not easy to move files from their phone or tablet to a PC. Now, a special USB drive will make the task simpler.

At present, you need an Internet connection throughout to move files from Android to PC, a task that involves e-mailing the file or uploading it to a cloud storage site like Dropbox or Google Drive.

Next you open the e-mail and download the attachment, or get the file from the cloud server. And finally you open the file on your computer.

Gaitonde's work leads Sotheby's upcoming auction

Gaitonde's work leads Sotheby's upcoming auctionNew York, March 14 - Modernist painter V. S. Gaitonde's painting is estimated to fetch $2-3 million in the forthcoming sale of international auction house Sothbey's Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art here March 19.

Considered to be India's foremost abstract painter, Gaitonde's "Painting No. 3" captures a pivotal moment in the artist's career when he turned away from his earlier geometric prints and began to experiment with a paint roller and palette knife.

Aircraft off the radar in this age puzzles experts

Aircraft off the radar in this age puzzles expertsNew York, March 13 : Can a modern aircraft with a plethora of advanced features just vanish into thin air?

Hard to believe but the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is a puzzle that is growing even more complex.

"This is a very unusual event," Sid McGuirk, an associate professor of air traffic management at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida was quoted as saying.

"It is highly unusual for an aircraft at an altitude - which, at least according to the press, this aircraft was - to drop off the radar," McGuirk added.

Radar facilities are based on land and each one has a range of about 300 km.

Maths can be made easier with gestures

Maths can be made easier with gesturesNew York, March 13 : Children who use their hands to gesture during a math lesson gain a deep understanding of the problems they are taught, research shows.

Previous research has found that gestures can help children learn.

The study was designed to answer whether abstract gesture is a more effective teaching tool than concrete action.

"We found that acting gave children a relatively shallow understanding of a novel math concept, whereas gesturing led to deeper and more flexible learning," explained lead author Miriam A. Novack.

The researchers taught third-grade children a strategy for solving one type of mathematical equivalence problem.

Earth to get hotter despite global warming slowdown

Earth to get hotter despite global warming slowdownNew York, March 13 - The earth's climate would continue to warm during this century, on track with previous estimates despite the recent slowdown in the rate of global warming, a NASA study shows.

Earth is likely to experience roughly 20 percent more warming than estimates that were largely based on surface temperature observations during the past 150 years.

Global temperatures have increased at a rate of 0.22 Fahrenheit (0.12 Celsius) per decade since 1951.

New York buildings collapse: Toll rises to four

New York buildings collapse: Toll rises to fourNew York, March 13 : A major explosion caused by a gas leak that flattened two Manhattan apartment buildings Wednesday has till now claimed four victims.

Witnesses said that flames and smoke were seen billowing from the street after they heard an explosion which resulted in the collapse of the buildings, and the force of the damage blew out windows in neighboring buildings as well, the New York Times reported.

The police said that two residential buildings - 1644 and 1646 Park Avenue - had collapsed and at least 16 people were injured.

Weak brain connection won't let you stop smoking!

Weak brain connection won't let you stop smoking!New York, March 13 - Despite umpteen resolutions that you are going to quit smoking, why do you succumb the very next day to that uncontrollable craving to light another one?

Blame it on the weakened brain connections that are tied to self-control over cigarette cravings.

A new brain imaging study from scientists at University of Pennsylvania and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) shows how smokers suffering from nicotine withdrawal may have more trouble shifting from a key brain network.

US court dismisses Devyani Khobragade's indictment in visa fraud case

Devyani KhobragadeNew York, Mar 13 - In major relief to Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, a US court has dropped all charges against her.

In a 14 page order, US District Judge said that Khobragade had full diplomatic immunity at the time of her indictment on visa fraud and underpaying her maid.

The judge said, Khobragade served as Consular officer in the US from October 26, 2012 to January 8, 2014, a position that cloaked her with consular immunity as per the Vienna Convention.

Khobragade, who was deputy consul-general in New York, was arrested on December 12 on charges of making false declarations in a visa application for her maid. She was later released on a USD 250,000 bond.

Two killed, 22 injured in New York building explosion

New York, March 13 - At least two people were killed and 22 injured when a powerful explosion levelled two residential buildings in New York's East Harlem neighbourhood Wednesday morning. Over 12 people remained missing, authorities said.

The blast struck a building at 116th Street and Park Avenue in Upper Manhattan at about 9:30 a. m. local time (1330 GMT), blowing out windows in surrounding buildings and sending debris crashing down onto nearby streets, Xinhua reported.

Two five-storey residential buildings next door to each other collapsed in the incident, with one essentially gone from the blast.

At least 12 people remained missing so far, and two of the wounded had life-threatening injuries, fire officials said, indicating that the death toll could rise further.

Explosion in New York, buildings collapse

Explosion in New York, buildings collapseNew York, March 12 : A massive explosionin East Harlem here Wednesday morning caused two buildings to collapse, the fire department said.

"It happened around 9 a. m. on Park Avenue between 114th and 117th streets," CBS news quoted the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) as saying.

Television pictures from the scene showed heavy smoke billowing from the area as firefighters battled the blaze. The bomb squad responded as a precaution, though it is still unclear whether anyone was present inside the buildings.

According to reports, 11 people sustained minor injuries.

Indian-American student's body found in her car

Indian-American student's body found in her carNew York, March 12 - The body of an Indian-American student, who went missing in New York in the last week of February, has been found inside her car.

Jasmine Joseph, 22, was found lying inside her gray Nissan Altima Tuesday morning in a parking lot in Syosset off Jericho Turnpike less than half a mile from her home, CBS New York reported.

Police have found no foul play in the case so far.

Police said that Joseph committed suicide and inhaled noxious fumes of some sort.

Joseph's family said the car was found in a spot where police had previously searched but did not find anything.

India-born woman gets 20-year jail for killing husband

New York, March 12 - An India-born woman in the US state of Texas, convicted of setting her husband afire, has been sentenced to 20 years in jail.

A Travis county jury of 10 women and two men Tuesday recommended the punishment for Shriya Biman Patel, 27, following nine hours of deliberations over two days.

District Judge David Crain accepted the recommendation of the jury, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

Shriya Patel was on trial for capital murder in the killing of Bimal Patel, 29.

She was found guilty Monday of the lesser first-degree felony of arson causing death.

She has served two years of incarceration thus far and will likely be eligible for parole in three years.

On completion of her prison term, she will face deportation back to India.

Empowered consumers more likely to switch brands

New York, March 12 - How powerful we feel in our daily lives may impact our likelihood of switching favourites brands, trying something new, or both, research showed.

“Our research examines the impact of a person's perceived sense of power on their likelihood to switch products or brands,” wrote authors Yuwei Jiang and Lingjing Zhan from Hong Kong Polytechnic University and Derek D. Rucker from Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.

As consumers, we form favourite brands and select services providers from a plethora of choices.

The authors artificially heightened participants' sense of power and then immediately measured how engaged they were in the idea of switching products or brands.

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