Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Monkey chews like a cow

The first monkey that acts like a cow has been discovered — one that regurgitates to give its food another chew, just as cattle do.

Cows, goats, sheep and other ruminants chew plants, let their meals soften in their stomachs, and then throw up the larger bits into their mouths to munch on this cud some more. This chewing helps them break down their food and get at all the nutrients within.

Primates such as humans and monkeys seemed to cover the full gamut of all seen in the animal kingdom, save rumination. Now scientists find the proboscis monkey (Nasalis larvatus) on the island of Borneo apparently chews its cud, too.

Investigators used video cameras and binoculars to monitor about 200 proboscis monkeys, which lived off fruit and leaves along a tributary of the Kinabatangan River in Malaysia. These primates get their names from the males' large noses, which are thought to be used in attracting females.

Working in the field presented several challenges.

"There are, of course, a lot of mosquitoes and leeches in the forest," researcher Ikki Matsuda, a primatologist at Kyoto University in Japan, told LiveScience. "The rainy season was the worst — the river water came up to our waists even inside the forest."

"It was really scary because at that time, crocodiles also came into the inland forest, and many creatures like centipedes and spiders came up to me on the water," Matsuda added.

The researchers saw 23 monkeys chew their regurgitated food at least once. The monkeys apparently suck in their abdomens and stick out their tongues before they regurgitate, keeping all the cud in their mouths.

The scientists continuously observed one adult male for 169 days and watched him chew his cud for 11 days. This rumination usually happened when he spent more time eating, suggesting that regurgitation helps the monkeys deal with more food and possibly helped them eat more.

Gorillas and even people have been known to chew regurgitated food, but this is regarded as pathological behavior — these monkeys, on the other hand, seem to do it as part of their diet. Future research can investigate whether other monkeys, such as langurs, ruminate as well, said researcher Marcus Clauss, a wildlife physiologist at the University of Zurich in Switzerland.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Gadhafi's Son Warns of Civil War in Libya

After anti-government unrest spread to the Libyan capital of Tripoli and protesters seized military bases and weapons Sunday, Moammar Gadhafi's son went on state television to proclaim that his father remained in charge with the army's backing and would "fight until the last man, the last woman, the last bullet."

Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, in the regime's first comments on the six days of demonstrations, warned the protesters that they risked igniting a civil war in which Libya's oil wealth "will be burned."

The speech followed a fierce crackdown by security forces who fired on thousands of demonstrators and funeral marchers in the eastern city of Benghazi in a bloody cycle of violence that killed 60 people on Sunday alone, according to a doctor in one city hospital. Since the six days of unrest began, more than 200 people have been killed, according to medical officials, human rights groups and exiled dissidents.

Libya response has been the harshest of any Arab country that has been wracked by the protests that toppled long-serving leaders in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt. But Gadhafi's son said his father would prevail.

"We are not Tunisia and Egypt," he said. "Moammar Gadhafi, our leader, is leading the battle in Tripoli, and we are with him.

"The armed forces are with him. Tens of thousands are heading here to be with him. We will fight until the last man, the last woman, the last bullet," he said in a rambling and sometimes confused speech of nearly 40 minutes.

Although the elder Gadhafi did not appear, his son has often been put forward as the regime's face of reform.

Western countries have expressed concern at the rising violence against demonstrators in Libya. British Foreign Secretary William Hague said he spoke to Seif al-Islam by phone and told him that the country must embark on "dialogue and implement reforms," the Foreign Office said.

In his speech, the younger Gadhafi conceded the army made some mistakes during the protests because the troops were not trained to deal with demonstrators, but he added that the number of dead had been exaggerated, giving a death toll of 84.

He offered to put forward reforms within days that he described as a "historic national initiative" and said the regime was willing to remove some restrictions and begin discussions for a constitution. He offered to change a number of laws, including those covering the media and the penal code.

Dressed in a dark business suit and tie, Seif al-Islam wagged his finger frequently as he delivered his warnings. He said that if protests continued, Libya would slide back to "colonial" rule. "You will get Americans and European fleets coming your way and they will occupy you.

He threatened to "eradicate the pockets of sedition" and said the army will play a main role in restoring order.

Monday, February 07, 2011

(Reuters) - The BSE Sensex is expected to remain under pressure on Monday after policymakers indicated tackling inflation was a top priority to sustain growth.

Cairn India (CAIL.BO) will be in focus after the oil secretary said on Sunday he was hopeful of finding a "positive solution" to Vedanta Resources' deal to buy a controlling stake in the unit of Cairn Energy.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Friday high inflation posed that high headline inflation is beginning to pose a serious threat to India's high growth plans.

Lanco Infratech and Punj Lloyd will be watched as they announce their December quarter earnings.

State-run oil explorer Oil India will be on the radar after it said over the weekend December quarter net profit rose 26.5 percent.

The MSCI's measure of Asian markets other than Japan were up 0.3 percent by 0244 GMT, while Japan's Nikkei was trading 0.7 percent higher.

The Nifty India stock futures in Singapore were barely changed.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Consumer Group Demands Crackdown on Vitamin Water Advertising Claims

The National Consumer League, a Washington consumer-advocacy group, filed a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission requesting it investigate Coca-Cola's marketing claims for Vitamin Water. The league said the brand touts more benefits than it can deliver.

"Vitamin Water: Flu shots are so last year," reads one advertising poster for the product.

In its complaint, the league said Vitamin Water ads say the drink not only promotes a healthy immune system but can also replace the flu shot.

"It's not only deceptive but potentially dangerous to consumers," said Courtney Brein, a food safety and nutrition fellow at the National Consumers League. "There's a difference between stating that certain elements of a product are good for you and implying that the product will actually prevent the consumer from catching the flu or coming down with the common cold."

With more than $700 million in sales last year, Vitamin Water has become one of the most popular sports drinks. Coca-Cola said in a statement that the content of its beverages is clearly marked on the label.

"Vitamin Water has always had a fun, humorous and engaging personality," the company said in a statement. "And our ads reflect that."

But some legal experts said it's easy to blur the line between clever advertising and overpromising.

"If you talk about what's in your product, then it has to be there," said Howard Beales, an associate professor of strategic management and public policy at the George Washington University School of Business. "If you talk about the effects of that substance, then you have to have evidence that documents the substance really does have those effects."

Stay Healthy Without Vitamins, Just Water, Says Dr. Besser

Research suggests the evidence as to whether the vitamins in Vitamin Water -- mainly vitamin C and zinc -- work to suppress the flu is conflicting. But there is no evidence that the drink can prevent the flu or is as effective as a flu shot.

"The best way to get your vitamins is through a balanced diet or a supplement," said Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News' chief health and medical editor. "And the best way to prevent the flu is to get a flu shot."

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Djokovic Wins Second Australian Open Championship

Novak Djokovic hit passing shots and looping lobs with equal perfection to overwhelm Andy Murray 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 Sunday, winning his second Australian Open title and extending Britain's near 75-year drought in men's Grand Slam singles.

Djokovic's 2008 Australian title is his other Grand Slam victory. Murray has lost three Grand Slam finals, also falling to Roger Federer in the 2008 U.S. Open and 2010 Australian Open.

Djokovic overcame big obstacles en route to the final, including a win over Federer in the semifinals. And this came just two months after leading Serbia to its first Davis Cup title.

"We have known each other for such a long time," Djokovic said of Murray. "It was difficult tonight."

About an hour after his win, Djokovic went out on a balcony on the concourse at Rod Laver Arena and lifted his trophy as hundreds of supporters cheered below.

There wasn't much to celebrate in Murray's camp: he's still yet to win a set in a Grand Slam final.

Last year, the Scot cried after his loss to Federer. There were no visible tears this year, but the hurt may have been just as bad after he lost seven straight games through the end of the first set and into the second and never appeared to be in the match.

"I'll try to keep it together this year," Murray said, speaking confidently and talking about "having more chances in the future" as the crowd yelled out "Andy! Andy!"

The last British man to win a Grand Slam singles title was Fred Perry in the 1936 U.S. Open -- more than 270 majors ago.

"It was better than it was last year," Murray said at his media conference. "I thought Novak played unbelievably well. It's tough, but you have to deal with it."

Murray said he tried to get himself back into the match, but Djokovic defended too well.

"You always have to try to find a way, to believe," Murray said. "When I got ahead in some games, even in just points, he was sticking up lobs that were landing on the baseline, passing shots that were on the line. I broke his serve twice in the third set and still lost 6-3."

The statistics underlined Djokovic's domination. He won 11 of his 14 service games, while Murray only won six of 13, and the Serb pounded Murray's second serve, with the Scot winning just 16 of 51 points (31 percent) on his second serve.

Murray and Djokovic, each 23 and born a week apart, are good friends and often practice together. At the coin flip before the match, Djokovic smiled broadly for photos while Murray looked fidgety and nervous.

After the match, the two hugged, then Djokovic threw his racket, his shirt and then shoes into the crowd. But there was no prolonged celebration so as to not offend his opponent.

"I understand how he feels, it's his third final and he didn't get the title," Djokovic said. "As I said on the court, I really have big respect for him and his game, because I think he has everything what it takes to become a Grand Slam champion."

The roof was closed at Rod Laver Arena for most of the day due to 100-degree temperatures, but was opened just before the match started and after the weather had cooled significantly.

Trailing 5-4, Murray double-faulted to lead off the 10th game of the first set. Then he hit a backhand into the net after a 39-hit point. Murray challenged the final point of the set when he thought his forehand stayed in on the backline, but Djokovic walked away with the set in 59 minutes.

"Maybe there was a turning point in the whole match, that 5-4 game," Djokovic said. "I was a bit fortunate, I kind of anticipated well and read his intentions and played some great shots and great moments. It is a big advantage mentally when you are a set up and you are getting to the second set and really going for the shots."

Djokovic held serve on four straight points to open the second set, then went up 2-0 when he again broke Murray's service, finishing off the point when Murray's attempted drop shot was returned cross-court for a winner. Murray had five unforced errors in the first two games.

The Serb went up 3-0, then continued his domination in the next game, breaking Murray in four straight points to go up 4-0 and held for 5-0, his seventh straight game win. Murray finally stopped the streak with an ace on game point to trail 5-1, then broke Djokovic in the next game to cut it to 5-2.

Murray appeared to be having problems with his eyes, blinking often and rubbing them on changeovers and often during points. That didn't help in the next game when he again dropped serve and lost the second set in 40 minutes, Djokovic establishing set point with a memorable crosscourt winner off a near-impossible shot from Murray.

The third set started with Murray's second break of Djokovic's service in the match, but Djokovic ensure that Murray's advantage was short-lived by breaking him in the next game. After an unforced error wide, Murray pounded his fist and yelled out in disgust.

Things didn't improve for Murray, who held off six break points before Djokovic prevailed on the seventh in the fourth game, hitting a backhand down the line to pass a stretching Murray. Djokovic pumped his fist and let out a loud yell in celebration.

That, too, was short-lived, when Murray broke back in the next game to pull to 3-2, then held through two break points to level the set at 3. Late in the match, Murray appeared to clutch his lower back after a low return on the baseline.

Djokovic soon broke serve again and then served it out to win in 2 hours, 39 minutes.

Djokovic leads the head-to-head series 5-3, ending a three-match streak for Murray.

Earlier Sunday, Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia and Daniel Nestor of Canada won the mixed double doubles championship, beating Chan Yung-jan of Taiwan and Paul Hanley of Australia 6-3, 3-6, 10-7.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bitter Cold Hits Northeast, Closing Some Schools

Bone-chilling cold prompted schools around the Northeast to delay openings or cancel classes altogether on Monday. The cold snap was linked to at least two weekend deaths, including that of a woman whose frozen body was found in a driveway.

Schools in western and northeastern Pennsylvania, across upstate New York and parts of Vermont and New Hampshire closed their doors or delayed openings to protect students from temperatures that dropped in some locations as low as 25 degrees below zero or even colder.

The wind chill in some areas of New England was expected to make it feel as cold as 50 degrees below zero.In Montpelier, Vt., it was 21 below at 7 a.m.

"Snot-freezing cold," was how Kelly Walsh, 28, described it, walking home from an auto parts store after buying a new battery for her car, which wouldn't start Monday morning."I usually really like it. Today is a bit of nuisance," she said.Others agreed.

Will Forest, a 53-year-old web designer who was walking to work, called the cold "indescribable.I spent the summer in Dallas, Texas, and you can only experience the heat when you're there," he said. "Trying to explain it to people here is impossible. Conversely, this kind of cold, to try to explain to someone down there, you have to experience it. But it's also a really good filter, because if we didn't have this cold, everybody would want to live here and it wouldn't be the place it is."

What did he wear to prepare? "I put on two socks, a fleece and a desire to move very quickly."

The Arctic temperatures led Amtrak to suspend rail service Monday morning between Albany and New York City because the extreme cold affected signals and switches. Amtrak hoped to resume limited service between the two cities later Monday. Other rail lines are still running.The cold was blamed for two deaths over the weekend.

About 90 miles northwest of Philadelphia, a man died after spending the night in his car in frigid temperatures in Lansford, and his wife found him Saturday morning. Temperatures had dropped into the single digits overnight, but it's unclear why 49-year-old Alan Kurtz had slept in his car.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

South Africa beat India by 48 runs (D/L method)

India's tour of South Africa has see-sawed right through, and it wasn't surprising when the home side levelled the ODI series with a 48-run win in Port Elizabeth. Despite Virat Kohli's sparkling, flawless unbeaten 87, India never seemed in touch with the required rate chasing 266. India were 142-6 in the 33rd over, woefully short of the required score of 190 when the second rain interruption ended the game.

St. George's Park has heavily favoured South Africa when they bowl under lights; they have won the last five such games and hence Graeme Smith was always going to bat here. The move paid off, and it's now over to the tie-breaker in Centurion.

Dhoni misses a trick.

The only time India had the game under control was between the 19th and the 23rd over when South Africa lost four wickets in four overs having made a quick start with Yuvraj Singh Hashim Amla's 64 (69b). Yuvraj Singh struck twice and two run-outs from Kohli had pushed South Africa down to 118-5.

Here, MSDhoni could have squeezed South Africa further by attacking Johan Botha and JP Duminy. Instead, part-time spinners were given a long run. Resultantly, Botha and Duminy collected singles with ridiculous ease, found the occasional boundary, and before Dhoni knew it their sixth-wicket partnership was 70.

A chance had been missed, and this was no insignificant chance. India could have won the series right here, but the series has hinged on this single partnership. Dhoni and Smith have throughout on this tour been in a competition for taking the biggest step back. By not attacking Botha, Dhoni has taken the biggest such step.

Yuvraj took his third wicket when Botha was stumped. India's front-line bowlers were sloppy today. Harbhajan Singh got off to a poor start and never recovered. He was short in his first four overs. This pitch wasn't as bouncy as the ones he has bowled on in South Africa, and this took some edge off his bowling.

The next man in, Robin Petersen made 31. The highest target achieved under lights at this venue is 268. With Duminy batting through for 72, a score of 265 meant the odds were against India from the start of the chase.

India opened with Rohit Sharma and Parthiv Patel - two batsmen who'd never open the innings otherwise. Against Dale Steyn's high-accuracy pace and Morne Morkel's steep bounce, getting finding opportunities was tough. But both openers were dismissed by Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who has gone from being India's relief bowler in the Test series to their chief tormentor in the ODIs.

Rohit cut a short ball to point. Parthiv played a couple of aerial shots against Steyn - a pull shot and a drive over mid-off. But some well-timed strokes couldn't pierce the off-side field. In the end, he tried to guide Tsotsobe through the on-side, missed the line and fell LBW.

Kohli outshines seniors again.

It's no secret now that half the Indian batting line-up would be heading to the World Cup grossly under-prepared. Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir have fitness problems; so does Sachin Tendulkar and he hasn't played much one-day cricket lately either. Also, India have missed one of these three due to injuries in most tournaments.

The last time MS Dhoni dominated a bowling attack in a one-dayer was in the Gwalior ODI where he partnered Tendulkar to a double-ton. On this tour, he's been a walking wicket and has crossed fifty just once. Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh both suffer from a crisis of confidence against accurate pace bowling. Sourav Ganguly pointed out recently how Raina always seems to be sitting on his back-foot.

In this scenario, it is greatly pleasing to see Kohli who has not only been getting big runs but getting them in a confident manner in a wide array of batting conditions. In this ODI series, he's looked the least likely of the Indian batsmen to get out while he's out there.

With his wristy style, South African spinners have not been able to stop his strike rotation. During this innings, he drove Petersen over mid-off and straight for two effortless sixes. Against the pacers, he's offered a compact defense and has always looked determined to bat out tough spells before attacking the weak bowling.

If this is what he can do at 22, and if he doesn't go the Yuvraj way, he could threaten Tendulkar's record of ODI hundreds some day.