The rock python is “vicious”, according to Kenneth Krysko of the Florida Museum of Natural History. It is even meaner than the Burmese pythons, which have been known to eat alligators, and which have already taken up residence in the nearby Everglades National Park, where they have wiped out thousands of native animals. Another major alien in the park is the boa constrictor.Six specimens of Africa’s longest snake have been discovered in a single square mile west of Miami, Florida, since the first was sighted in 2002. Krysko believes the original snakes may have been released by pet breeders when they grew too big, or when the breeders were surprised by their aggressiveness. The finding of two hatchlings and a pregnant female suggests the snakes are settling in.The rock python, like the Burmese python and boa constrictor, is not poisonous but kills its prey by constricting it and suffocating it to death before swallowing it.With the Everglades National Park just across the road, the rock python may already have joined the other giant aliens in the park in wiping out the native fauna. According to Robert Reed of the U.S. Geological Survey in Colorado, the new snake might eat any warm-blooded animal it can ingest. The Burmese python is known to eat dozens of species, including white-tailed deer and even six-foot alligators, and Reed expects the rock python to do the same.Another potential problem is inter-breeding of the African rock python and the Burmese python to produce a hybrid species. This has been known to happen in captivity, and while most such offspring are infertile, there is a possibility that offspring of the two species could be even hardier and more deadly than their parents, according to Reed.Kristina Serbesoff-King of the Nature Conservancy in Florida said that we should learn from past mistakes and try to eliminate the rock python while it is still confined to a relatively small area. One approach could be a python patrol, similar to the one the Nature Conservancy ran to try to reduce the numbers of Burmese pythons.If the African rock python is not stopped in its tracks, the scientists agree the problem may be even worse than the Burmese python problem because the rock python is far more aggressive. In its native home the African rock python is known to attack humans, according to Krysko, and if hidden in a swamp, it could strike before you even knew it was there. It could pose a particular danger for pets and small children.© 2009 PhysOrg.com (PhysOrg.com) — New studies suggest a 20 foot snake, the African rock python, is making its home in Florida and could soon invade the Everglades National Park. Python molurus bivittatus. Image: Wikipedia. Explore further Citation: ‘Vicious’ Giant Python Invading Florida (2009, September 21) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2009-09-vicious-giant-python-invading-florida.html Fla. governor approves plan to capture, kill Burmese pythons This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
As it turns out someone with some serious skills also wanted that. Cesar Herada, a researcher who has formerly been associated with Ushahidi and MIT’s Senseable City Lab, has created the Protei oil-spill cleaning drone. The Protei oil-spill cleaning drone is designed to be a semi-autonomously device that can sail into the sea and scoop up the oil in a spill, leaving the oil in the container and the water in the ocean. How is this accomplished? With the help of powerful oil-sucking booms that are built into the device. The oil-sucking boom is detachable, and each one is able to hold up to two tons of crude oil per trip. The advantage to using one of these devices is that no humans have to be exposed to toxic substances in order to clean up the mess. © 2010 PhysOrg.com (PhysOrg.com) — Oil spills represent a significant danger to the oceans of the world. Many of us watched the DeepWater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico and wished that there was a simple way to clean it up. Citation: Cesar Herada designs oil sucking drones to help clean the seas after a spill (2011, April 12) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2011-04-cesar-herada-oil-drones-seas.html Explore further More information: sites.google.com/a/opensailing.net/protei/ The Protei drones are also able to be modified for other types of disasters. In the future modified versions of the Protei drones may possibly be sent in to detect the levels of radiation in water supplies, or to collect samples of other potentially polluted waters. The designers have also mentioned that there may be some commercial uses for the Protei drones as well, but they did not give any specifics on this point. Clean-up tools may help protect wetlands from Gulf of Mexico oil spill The best part is that Protei is an Open Source Hardware project. This means that its design will be available to the public, so it can be built by anyone. The remote controlled Protei is relatively inexpensive to produce and inflatable. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
© 2012 PhysOrg.com Then Kaspersky’s Fabio Assolini, a lab expert, said one bit of malware especially caught his team’s attention because the malicious extension was hosted on Google’s own Chrome Web Store. “At this time,” Assolini said in a March 23 blog, “the malicious app has 923 users.”The extension presented itself as Adobe Flash Player. After installation, the extension could gain complete control of the victim’s profile first by downloading a script file. The script file had instructions to send commands to the victim’s Facebook profile. The result was the eventual spread of a malicious message, inviting more users to install the fake extension. So what’s in such a scheme for the malware makers? Profit, in the form of selling Facebook “likes” to businesses looking for (ironically) a reputation boost and may be willing to pay the $27 charged for 1,000 “likes.”According to reports, Google personnel removed the malicious extension after Kaspersky informed them of the hustle – titled Trojan.JS.Agent.bxo—which the Kaspersky experts had discovered on March 6 in a previous similar attack.According to Ars Technica, a Google response was, “When we detect items containing malware or learn of them through reports, we remove them from the Chrome Web Store and from active Chrome instances. We’ve already removed several of these extensions, and we are improving our automated systems to help detect them even faster.” Beyond the Store, one security plus for Google was the launch, earlier this year, of Bouncer, which scans the Android Market for malicious apps. The scan happens when developers first upload an app to the Market and then periodically after that.The Bouncer safeguard does not, however, seem to console observers over thieves who find ways to outsmart Facebook and Google.Those behind the cash-for-likes scheme “are uploading new extensions regularly, in a cat and mouse game,” said Kaspersky’s Assolini.Kaspersky Lab noticed a “huge wave” of attacks in Brazil. Without naming the miscreants, Assolini’s column warning users to “think twice” before installing Chrome extensions simply referred to “Brazil’s bad guys” turning their attention to Chrome and Facebook, which are now Brazil’s two key go-to places on the Internet. Recent statistics show that Google Chrome has become the most popular browser in Brazil with more than 45 percent of market share. Facebook is the most popular social network in Brazil, with 42 million users, displacing Orkut. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. More information: www.securelist.com/en/blog/208 … ng_Chrome_extensions Microsoft anti-virus program evicts Chrome browser (PhysOrg.com) — A cash-for-Facebook’s-“likes” hustle hanging out in Google Chrome Web Store has been discovered by Kaspersky Lab. The researchers first discovered extensions leading to the wave of hijackings under an umbrella of assorted themes that were targeting users of Chrome and Facebook. They were rolling out malicious extensions for use to nab Facebook profile data. The lure was in the form of invitations for users to make changes on their profile or to see who was visiting their profile or to remove a virus from their Facebook profile. Citation: Shoplifters hit up Chrome Store for Facebook data (2012, March 28) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2012-03-shoplifters-chrome-facebook.html Explore further
Play Movie of nanoparticles moving through mucus. Credit: Schneider et al. Sci. Adv. 2017;3:e1601556 The nanoparticles, the team notes, were created using biodegradable materials that prior research found safe for internal use. Testing in mice, they report, showed the particle carriers stayed in the lungs for several hours—they also proved to be more effective than conventional therapies at reducing asthma symptoms such as irritation. The researchers suggest that MPPs could offer a better treatment plan for lung patients by providing a therapy that maintains drug levels in the lungs for longer periods of time, reducing the need for repeated dosing, which itself can cause lung irritation. PausePlay% buffered00:0000:00UnmuteMuteDisable captionsEnable captionsSettingsCaptionsDisabledQuality0SpeedNormalCaptionsGo back to previous menuQualityGo back to previous menuSpeedGo back to previous menu0.5×0.75×Normal1.25×1.5×1.75×2×Exit fullscreenEnter fullscreen More information: Craig S. Schneider et al. Nanoparticles that do not adhere to mucus provide uniform and long-lasting drug delivery to airways following inhalation, Science Advances (2017). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1601556AbstractMucoadhesive particles (MAP) have been widely explored for pulmonary drug delivery because of their perceived benefits in improving particle residence in the lungs. However, retention of particles adhesively trapped in airway mucus may be limited by physiologic mucus clearance mechanisms. In contrast, particles that avoid mucoadhesion and have diameters smaller than mucus mesh spacings rapidly penetrate mucus layers [mucus-penetrating particles (MPP)], which we hypothesized would provide prolonged lung retention compared to MAP. We compared in vivo behaviors of variously sized, polystyrene-based MAP and MPP in the lungs following inhalation. MAP, regardless of particle size, were aggregated and poorly distributed throughout the airways, leading to rapid clearance from the lungs. Conversely, MPP as large as 300 nm exhibited uniform distribution and markedly enhanced retention compared to size-matched MAP. On the basis of these findings, we formulated biodegradable MPP (b-MPP) with an average diameter of <300 nm and examined their behavior following inhalation relative to similarly sized biodegradable MAP (b-MAP). Although b-MPP diffused rapidly through human airway mucus ex vivo, b-MAP did not. Rapid b-MPP movements in mucus ex vivo correlated to a more uniform distribution within the airways and enhanced lung retention time as compared to b-MAP. Furthermore, inhalation of b-MPP loaded with dexamethasone sodium phosphate (DP) significantly reduced inflammation in a mouse model of acute lung inflammation compared to both carrier-free DP and DP-loaded MAP. These studies provide a careful head-to-head comparison of MAP versus MPP following inhalation and challenge a long-standing dogma that favored the use of MAP for pulmonary drug delivery. Play Movie of nanoparticles moving through mucus. Credit: Schneider et al. Sci. Adv. 2017;3:e1601556 Citation: Nanoparticles pass through mucus membranes in lungs to deliver pulmonary drugs (2017, April 6) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2017-04-nanoparticles-mucus-membranes-lungs-pulmonary.html Journal information: Science Advances Lung problems impact the lives of millions of people. Such conditions include asthma, in which bronchi spasm, making it difficult to breathe; cystic fibrosis, in which over-production of mucus leads to blocking of bronchi; and COPD, in which obstructions form in bronchial passages. Fortunately, these types of ailments are all treatable to some degree, though they cannot be cured. For that reason, scientists continue to look for ways to improve current therapies.Currently, lung ailments such as cystic fibrosis, COPD and asthma are treated with inhaled drugs such as corticosteroids that adhere to the walls of air passages. In some instances, they are carried by what are known as mucoadhesive particles, (MAPs), but, as the researchers note, thick mucus often builds up on such passageways, lessening the effectiveness of the delivery system. In this new effort, the researchers took a different approach—rather than trying to make medicines that adhere do their job better, they turned to nanoparticles that are small enough to make their way through mucus membranes to the lining of the lungs themselves, offering direct medication application to affected areas. Called mucus-penetrating particles (MPP), they remain in the lungs, releasing medication for an extended period of time. The making of mucus in common lung diseases PausePlay% buffered00:0000:00UnmuteMuteDisable captionsEnable captionsSettingsCaptionsDisabledQuality0SpeedNormalCaptionsGo back to previous menuQualityGo back to previous menuSpeedGo back to previous menu0.5×0.75×Normal1.25×1.5×1.75×2×Exit fullscreenEnter fullscreen This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. © 2017 Phys.org Explore further (Phys.org)—A team of researchers from multiple institutions in the U.S. has developed a new way to treat lung disease—using nanoparticles to transport chemicals through the thick mucus membranes that can coat pulmonary airways. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the team describes how they used particles small enough to move through holes in the mesh that makes up mucus to deliver helpful drugs.
Re-engineering the cell membrane for improved biofunction is an emerging, powerful tool in cell biology to develop next-generation cell therapies. The process can allow users to supplement cells with added therapeutic functionalities. Additional functionalities can include cell homing, surface adhesion or resistance to hypoxia for enhanced cellular capabilities. However, the number of such examples on re-engineered plasma-membranes to activate membrane-bound enzymes that promote the assembly of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins to promote cell functionalities are limited. 3D projection of fibrin gel containing fibrinogen stained with Alexa 594 (red) fibrinogen and hMSCs incorporating sc_thrombin [ox890] stained with Hoeschst 33342, imaged after 60 min of cell associated fibrin formation in cell culture. Credit: Nature Communications, doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-09763-0. They synthesized the artificial membrane binding thrombin complex using a two-step process to generate an active supercationic thrombin construct (sc_thrombin). Deller et al. also generated a polymer surfactant corona or green halo using electrostatic coupling of glycolic acid ethoxylate 4-nonylphenyl ether (ox890) to sc_thrombin to engineer a third variant sc_thrombin [ox890]. The scientists controlled the reaction conditions (pH, temperature and chemical composition) carefully and monitored the reaction progress using zeta potentiometry across a period of two hours. They observed the activity of thrombin by monitoring/characterizing the increasing turbidity of the fibrinogen solution. They then obtained MALDI-TOF spectra (matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time of flight mass spectroscopy) of the native and modified thrombin to show full cationization of the construct. When Deller et al. conducted compression testing of the resultant self-supporting structures, the Young’s moduli were similar to soft fibrin hydrogels, indicating consistency. To investigate thrombin adhesion to cell membranes, the scientists chose a monolayer of bone marrow derived hMSCs (with well-characterized adipogenic, chondrogenic and osteogenic pathways). First, they incubated a monolayer of hMSCs with fluorescently-labelled analogues of thrombin; thereafter, they labeled the hMSCs with a plasma membrane-specific dye and imaged immediately to confirm the thrombin-plasma membrane binding. Using time-lapse confocal fluorescence microscopy, they showed the nucleation and fibrin growth from the cells thereafter. Welding with stem cells for next-generation surgical glues Advanced cell therapies are currently approaching clinical translation in response to an increasing demand for newly modified, cell-specific matrices (scaffolds) for biocompatible therapeutic performance. However, the rational design of matrices is extremely challenging since the cell phenotype and cell fate can be intertwined to a wide-range of scaffold-dependent factors; including cell adhesion, surrounding chemical composition, cell receptor stimulation, surface micro-/nano-morphology and mechanical stiffness. These factors immediately impact cells during in vitro tissue engineering, typically when cells are seeded to adhere on biocompatible and biodegradable scaffolds in the lab, where the scaffolds act as a surrogate extracellular matrix (ECM). Eventually, when the cells grow and differentiate, they can produce natural ECM of their own, to gradually replace the biomimetic scaffold material and form a structurally self-supporting biological entity. Deller et al. also completed cell growth assays to determine relative metabolic activities of labelled hMSCs-thrombin to show the modified cells were without observable cytotoxicity in varying concentrations of thrombin (1 µm to 25 mM). Using confocal microscopy again, the scientists showed the arrangement of fibrin structures emanating from the plasma membrane of the hMSC monolayer, in contrast to hMSCs without thrombin. The work protocol thereby generated a 3-D fibrin hydrogel construct with dense cellular aggregates surrounded by a 3-D fibrin matrix. The scientists also investigated the ability of the fibrin hydrogel system to sustain 3-D cultures for long-term growth; a requisite for tissue engineering, to show hMSC differentiation via adipogenic and osteogenic pathways. To verify the results, the scientists conducted extensive biomechanical tests on the cell types and tested for the upregulation of specific genes SOX9 and RUNX2 involved in chondrogenesis and osteogenesis respectively, using RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction), to substantiate the fibrin hydrogel system sustained long-term hMSC proliferation in vitro.After confirming the membrane re-engineering approach for in lab tissue engineering applications, Deller et al. investigated the ability to produce thrombin coated cells in lab for their injection at a site of injury to initiate a healing response for tissue-engineering applications in vivo. For this, the scientists used an in vivo Zebrafish model system to perform preliminary cell transplant studies. Zebrafish is a model organism, established for fluorescently labelled live cell imaging and thrombolytic and hemostatic processes; suited for the present work. The scientists isolated, labelled and delivered fluorescently labelled primary Zebrafish fibroblasts, labelled with sc_thrombin[ox890] conjugate via microinjection to show cell survival after 3 days at a site of incisional injury. The synthesis and characterisation of the supercationic thrombin-polymer surfactant conjugate. a Schematic showing the electrostatic surface potential of native and supercationic thrombin (sc_thrombin) (PDB; 1UVS) at pH 7, highlighting the anionic (blue) and cationic (red) charged regions. Generation of the polymer surfactant corona (green halo) via electrostatic coupling of glycolic acid ethoxylate 4-nonylphenyl ether (ox890) to sc_thrombin gives [sc_thrombin][ox890]. b Zeta potential (ca. pH7; n = 3) of thrombin as a function of cationization times (0–120 min). Data reported as means ± standard deviation (s.d.). c Rate of fibrinogen solution (3.125 mg mL−1) gelation as measured by changes in turbidity (600 nm) catalysed by sc_thrombin subjected to various cationization times (0–120 min). Data shown as one-phase association curves of raw data. d MALDI-TOF MS spectra (m/z = 3) of native and sc_thrombin (60 min). Credit: Nature Communications, doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-09763-0 Schematic diagram showing in situ fibrin hydrogel formation from the membranes of bone-marrow derived human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs). Artificial membrane binding thrombin constructs comprising supercationic thrombin molecules (white) surrounded by a polymer surfactant corona (yellow) that associates with surface exposed cationic (red) residues spontaneously insert into bilayer regions of hMSC plasma membranes. In the presence of fibrinogen, the membrane-immobilised thrombin catalyses fibrin formation (blue fibres) within the interstitial spaces between the cells giving rise to a self-supporting hydrogel monolith. Credit: Nature Communications, doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-09763-0 More information: Robert C. Deller et al. Artificial cell membrane binding thrombin constructs drive in situ fibrin hydrogel formation, Nature Communications (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-09763-0 D. E. Discher. Tissue Cells Feel and Respond to the Stiffness of Their Substrate, Science (2005). DOI: 10.1126/science.1116995 Tamer A.E. Ahmed et al. Fibrin: A Versatile Scaffold for Tissue Engineering Applications, Tissue Engineering Part B: Reviews (2008). DOI: 10.1089/ten.teb.2007.0435 © 2019 Science X Network In a recent study, Robert C. Deller and co-workers at the interdisciplinary departments of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Engineering, Functional Nanomaterials and Pharmacology, and Neuroscience in the UK, bioengineered a self-contained cell matrix-forming system. In the experiments, they modified the plasma membrane of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) to integrate a new thrombin construct, which gave rise to spontaneous fibrin hydrogel nucleation and growth when supplemented with human plasma concentration levels of fibrinogen in cell culture media. The scientists bioengineered the cell membrane by synthesizing a membrane-binding supercationic thrombin-polymer surfactant complex. Thereafter, they observed cell differentiation in the resulting robust, stem cell-containing fibrin hydrogel constructs to form osteogenic and adipogenic cell lineages. The differentiated cells could eventually secrete fibrin to form self-supported bioengineered cellular monoliths that exhibited Young’s moduli as expected of the native extracellular matrix. The results are now published in Nature Communications. A range of natural biocompatible polymers have produced such transient hydrogel scaffolds for tissue engineering; including chitosan, gelatin and fibrin. Fibrin hydrogels are the most popular among them, since they can be produced readily at room temperature using proteolytic cleavage. Biological fibrin formation occurs in response to injury, culminating from a biochemical cascade of proteolytic cleavage, which converts prothrombin to thrombin and forms a fibrin-hydrogel clot. Fibrin hydrogels can therefore mediate cellular biomolecular functions and regulate the osteogenic and chondrogenic differentiation of human stem cells such as hMSCs. They can also be conveniently delivered using syringes, albeit with complications related to reduced cell viability.In the present work, Deller and co-workers first described a method to synthesize supercationic thrombin-polymer surfactant complexes that spontaneously bound to the plasma membrane of hMSCs to drive in situ fibrin hydrogel nucleation and growth. The resulting self-supporting hydrogel construct allowed high levels of metabolic activity as an artificial matrix for effective differentiation of stem cells to form adipogenic or osteogenic cell lineages. The scientists then showed the feasibility of the method of cell functionalization by injecting thrombin-labelled GFP-expressing fibroblasts (GFP: Green fluorescence protein) into a zebrafish (Danio rerio) skin wound model to demonstrate their in vivo biocompatibility for hemostatic applications. Explore further Journal information: Nature Communications In vivo zebrafish injury and [sc_thrombin][ox890] labelled GFP + fibroblast addition. Schematic representation of the in vivo adult zebrafish injury model. a Wildtype (non-transgenic) recipient zebrafish were anaesthetized and a 4 mm incisional injury made on the ventral upper thorax. A lateral view is shown. b Unlabelled or [sc_thrombin][ox890] labelled, FACS sorted GFP+ fibroblasts were injected at six sites around the edge of the incisional injury. At the desired time-point, fish were sacrificed and the tissue surrounding the incision was fixed, imaged and embedded for sectioning. A ventral view is shown. Ventral view of the area of tissue surrounding the incision at 3 dpi following transfer of c unlabelled or d [sc_thrombin][ox890] labelled GFP+ fibroblasts. Similar numbers of cells were retained at all wounds. The red line depicts the approximate position of the incisional injury which is fully re-epithelialized at this stage. Sections through the injury region at 3 dpi following transfer of e unlabelled or f [sc_thrombin][ox890] labelled GFP+ fibroblasts. No obvious differences were observed between wounds containing labelled or unlabelled cells. Arrows indicate the position of the incision. Credit: Nature Communications, doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-09763-0. Citation: Engineering artificial cell membranes to drive in situ fibrin hydrogel formation (2019, May 6) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-05-artificial-cell-membranes-situ-fibrin.html Using macroscopic observations and histological assays, the scientists further revealed that there were no adverse effects between fish injected with engineered or native fibroblasts. However, Deller et al. expect to complete further investigations to understand the precise effects on the specific wound healing response using bioengineered cells in the future.In this way, Deller et al. synthesized and characterized a new membrane active thrombin construct and demonstrated its application to drive in situ fibrin formation in the plasma membranes of stem cells. The scientists showed that thrombin-based fibrin hydrogel constructs prepared using the new protocol supported high levels of cell growth and viability to eventually produce a self-supporting tissue engineered construct. The stem cells were also able to differentiate along the well-defined adipogenic and osteogenic pathways while demonstrating Young’s moduli similar to the native cells to indicate high levels of integration of the modifications. Deller et al. propose to optimize the protocols for further experiments in vitro prior to in vivo translation, to gain further insight to the enzymatic activity of cell membrane bound bioengineered proteins to develop biocompatible, hemostatic products. Evaluating rhodamine (rh) labelled rh_thrombin, rh_sc_thrombin and [rh_sc_thrombin][ox890] on hMSC plasma membrane affinity. Cells labelled with CellMask (green) and rhodamine labelled thrombin (magenta) visualized with confocal microscopy. Video shows the rh_sc_thrombin [ox890] labelled hMSCs supplemented with fibrin gel conjugating with fibrinogen (green) to highlight fibrin formation emanating from the bioengineered cell surface. Credit: Nature Communications, doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-09763-0 , Science This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
Come August and Monsoons shall turn magical in Kolkata, as the city gears up to host the third edition of Monologues, India’s only solo arts festival. The festival, hosted by Phreedom4Ever, an organisation led by Chaity Ghosh, that envisages cultural excellence, is the brainchild of popular elocutionist and theatre actor Sujoy Prosad Chatterjee. Being the only annual solo arts fiesta in the country, the forum has witnessed performances by stalwarts like Chapal Bhaduri (India’s last living female impersonator in performing arts), Saoli Mitra(the legendary actress and daughter of theatre maestro Shambhu Mitra), Mahabanoo Mody Kotwal, Bijoylakshmi Barman and many others over the last two years. The 2014 edition of Monologues shall kick off on 3 August at Swissotel with a solo by Mita Vashisht, who is an internationally acclaimed film personality. This is the first time that Mita shall present a theatrical performance in Kolkata and her act for the evening is called Weekend, a part of the very famous Teen Ekaant by novelist and activist Nirmal Verma, a noted figure in the Indian literary circles. Sujoy has always brought performances out of proscenium to alternative spaces and this festival endorses that. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’Monologues 2014 showcases The Solo Room, the youth- section of the festival, on 9 August at Tantra, The Park as a matinee performance. Infact, Monologues is the only national arts festival that has a special segment dedicated to the youth and the arts. The Solo Room begins with an original dramatic act by Soumya Mukherjee, a very popular youth actor and the founder of M.A.D., a key youth-theatre player in Kolkata. Next on the cards shall be a musical solo by Kabir Chattopadhyay, who will entrance the audience with a whole lot western retro. The final act for the evening is a session of original lyrics and songs by the iconic music composer and vocalist Neel Adhikari. The finale of Monologues 2014 shall be on 10 August at Tollygunge Club. The evening begins with a solo comedy by much-admired media personality Anubhav Pal. What follows is a contemporary dance solo by internationally famous contemporary danseuse Paramita Saha, who shall revisit issues of gender construction through her performance. The crowning act shall be by the legendary Indian theatre personality and activist Usha Ganguly, who shall be premiering her new play Rozana, a monologue inspired by works of Franca Rame and Dario Fo. Going solo becomes an expression of a trajectory of emotions that sums up life and art. No wonder, this solo arts carnival has become the nation’s delight.
For long, the intimacy of a voice has been pivotal during travel sojourns, walk in the woods, congested drives, after fights with your best friend, in crowded marketplaces or even when you are all by yourself.This is none other than the radio jockeys giving you company with intermittent beauty tips, social issues, interactive debates and of course good, old melodies. With the benefit of hindsight, the radio has changed over the years. From news-based transmissions to today’s all-encompassing caucus of over-zealous listeners participating in a vast range of discourses. Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’RJ Siddharth from Big FM, Mumbai, says, ‘The change has been phenomenal. What started as an entertainment based format with the advent of private FM industry in the early 2000 has taken a giant leap to become a revolution involving each and every strata of society perhaps becoming the only format catering to the infotainment needs of individuals. And the biggest change that has happened is the pin-pointed and targeted programming at the most local level in a language they understand and giving a never-heard-or-seen-before opportunity to both the parties – advertisers and consumers (say listeners).’ Also Read – Leslie doing new comedy special with NetflixHe further adds, ‘Today’s radio jockeys should be the voice of the city and the people. It is essential for an RJ to have an opinion. They should be honest and of course need to have an in-depth knowledge on the issue/topics he is talking about. Pretence is something which must be avoided at any cost.’There is a lot to achieve and lot to explore vis-a-vis radio industry and the radio market are concerned. With almost 13-14 years of its existence, there is an ample space to bring in languages, different formats, music and personalities to make an inroad into segments where radio is yet to make its presence felt. Speaking about the essential elements of radio, he says, ‘Understandably, music and especially film music is an essential part of radio and unlike western countries where private FM is immensely popular, film music is a genre in itself and we can’t visualize entertainment without taking it into account. We are working on an infotainment format hence music is there to stay till the time we find a suitable and more effective alternative.’India’s radio industry is undergoing a makeover with the government’s approval to allocate new radio licences through e-auction and increased foreign investment limit. This move will boost advertising revenue in the long-run, promote business consolidation and lower expansion cost, according to analysts and industry experts.According to RJ Koushik Bhattacharya from Kolkata, ‘There has been resurgence in the popularity of radio. The radio boom has thrown open a number of avenues and opportunities for young, energetic and enthusiastic people who have an ear for music and a passion to entertain. This has become a wonderful career for different professionals. At the same time, day by day, number of listeners is increasing from different sphere of life.’For RJ Prateek Sharma, who works with BIG FM 92.7 in New Delhi, the Indian radio industry is expanding by leaps and bounds. ‘The government is also being very helpful in the expansion of this medium. Norms are changing, reach is increasing, more and more people are tuning in, and many more brands are associating with the radio as a medium. Good and better days lie ahead certainly.’Prateek is one person who has worked in the international market and feels, ‘I think the response has been very encouraging. The kind of music that Indian radio stations play and the content that we provide, there is a big audience, ready to consume it. And if that music and content helps them to stay in touch with their Indian roots, what more can one ask for!’
Kolkata: Bandhan-Konnagar, a not-for-profit organisation, registered under the West Bengal Societies Registration Act, 1961 celebrated its ‘Development Day’ on Thursday, completing 18 years of service at ITC Sonar. Commencing its journey in the year 2001, the organisation has transformed the lives of around 1.8 million families spread across 11 states of India – West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Telangana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Assam, Also Read – Heavy rain hits traffic, flightsTripura and Chhattisgarh. The organisation has 818 field offices spread across 10,793 villages. More than 2,300 employees are actively involved in the welfare of the disadvantaged families.The Development Day event was graced by Craig L Hall, Honourable US Consul General, Kolkata along with many distinguished guests like Debasish Sen, Additional Chief Secretary, IT & Electronics and Chairman, HIDCO, Saurabh Das, Principal Secretary, Panchayat & Rural Development Department, Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Merc, 2 B’deshi bystanders killedDushyant Nariala, Principal Secretary, Department of School Education and other luminaries. In the welcome address at the event, Chandra Shekhar Ghosh, Founder & Mentor, Bandhan-Konnagar said: “All our development programmes are designed and implemented with the intent of supporting the underprivileged. The organisation is putting in honest and dedicated efforts to provide necessary holistic support to the marginalised ones. My heartfelt thanks to all our donors for reposing faith in us and to all those who support us in our journey of development.” A panel discussion was held on the topic: ‘Women Empowerment – Are we moving in the right direction’. Eminent journalist Suparna Pathak; Educationist & former Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University, Professor Sugata Marjit, Executive Director, Action Aid India, Sandeep Chachra, Danseuse-cum-social activist, Alokananda Roy and Chairman, West Bengal State Commission for Women, Leena Gangopadhyay participated in the panel discussion.
Kolkata: The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) will impose heavy penalty on the responsible private firm if the four pumps that have gone for servicing, are not ready by July 10.Tarak Singh, member, mayor-in-council (drainage) who had visited two pumping stations at Behala, said the civic authorities will not spare the firm for the inordinate delay in servicing the pumps. He said there are five pumps at Begorkhal pumping station.On the day when it had rained heavily last week, one pump was found to be functional, while four others could not be operated as the repairer had not installed them after servicing. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Merc, 2 B’deshi bystanders killedHe said there are three pumps at the Behala Flying Club pumping station. Of these, one pump was working while the second one had developed a snag and the third one had been sent for maintenance, on the day when it had rained heavily last week.He said The Kolkata Environmental Improvement Programme (KEIP) had engaged two firms to repair the pumps. Of the two firms, one has become bankrupt and the KEIP has written to the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to cancel the contract of the joint venture companies. It may be mentioned that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had called up Mayor Sovan Chatterjee on Sunday, expressing her displeasure over the delay in clearing accumulated water from some streets of Behala. Also Read – Naihati: 10 councillors return to TMC from BJPSome roads, lanes and bylanes at Silpara and Pora Asathwatala are still under water. In Sakherbazar, craters have come up on a stretch of Diamond Harbour Road. The potholes, which are covered with water, pose a serious threat to motorcycle riders and drivers.Senior KMC officials said patch repair will be carried out to cover up the potholes temporarily. Metro Railway is constructing the Joka BBD Bag Metro and because of the construction work, the underground pipeline has been damaged, causing waterlogging in some areas.