RJD leader Rabri Devi on Tuesday attacked the new JD(U)-BJP government in Bihar for denying her the status of leader of opposition in the legislative council under the “cover of rules” that RJD does not have the required number of MLCs needed for the post.“They wish to suppress the voice of opposition by doing this out of political considerations,” Ms. Rabri Devi, wife of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, told reporters outside the legislative council.“Earlier, the status of leader of opposition was given to the then RJD leader Gulam Gaus even when the party’s strength was 4-5 in the council. But, now they (JD(U)-BJP) are taking the cover of rules,” she said.“Let them deny the post (to RJD), we are the leader of masses.” The Bihar legislative council had in the first week of this August month rejected RJD’s request to appoint Rabri Devi as the leader of opposition in the upper house stating that the party did not have the required number of MLCs needed for the post.A strength of nine MLCs is required for the post of leader of opposition in the legislative council but RJD at present has only seven. Hence, its application was not in conformity with the rules, deputy chairman of Bihar state legislative council Harun Rashid had said while turning down the request.JD(U) spokesman and MLC Neeraj Kumar took a swipe at Devi on the issue. “She and her family cannot live without facilities,” he told reporters outside the legislative council.Ms. Rabri Devi was chosen as member of legislative council for the second time in 2012 and her tenure will end in 2018.Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his Deputy Sushil Kumar Modi are both members of the legislative council at present.
A day before his verdict in the rape case, Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh shared a video message in which he urged his followers to maintain peace and that those who have reached Panchkula should return home. The Dera chief urged them to respect the law and maintain peace.
Close on the heels of Supreme Court questioning the tardy pace of trial in a case involving self-styled godman Asaram Bapu, the district administration has bolstered the security of the rape victim here.“Two more security personnel have been deployed at the residence of the rape victim and now half a dozen police personnel, including a lady constable, will remain on duty,” Superintendent of Police K.B. Singh said.
Marathas’ claimHowever, the Marathas of Vadhu-Budruk allege that the account was “a distortion of history” and that it was their ancestors who performed Sambhaji’s final rites.Accordingly, the Marathas, along with the gram panchayat authorities, took strong objection to the plaque, saying it falsified history as there was no documented evidence.On the same day, a complaint was filed by Dalit activists against 49 persons of Vadhu Budruk village under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, for damaging the board, police said. The gram panchayat of Vadhu Budruk also reportedly filed a cross complaint on the matter.“The Bhima-Koregaon violence was an act of provocation carefully calculated in advance by Hindutva outfits and designed to spark tension between Mahar [Dalit] and Maratha communities,” said Santosh Shinde of the pro-Maratha Sambhaji Brigade. The Brigade submitted a memorandum to the Pune Police Commissioner demanding a CBI probe into the issue.Similarly, Sachin Mali of the Kabir Kala Manch, who was present at the time of the clashes, said the villagers of Vadhu Budruk were instigated by rightwing forces to pelt stones at Dalits during the Koregaon-Bhima celebrations.“Several thousands of Hindutva activists were assembled to wreak havoc on the occasion. What were the police doing? Why wasn’t adequate security in place when the dispute at Vadhu-Budruk broke out on December 29? There were no ambulances or adequate security in place,” Mr. Mali told The Hindu.According to him, the clashes were planned to coincide with action in several adjoining villages like Sanaswadi, Shikrapur and Perne.One person, identified as Rahul Phatangale, lost his life in the violence between two groups that was marked by pelting of stones, and several persons were left injured. Scores of vehicle, including police vans, were torched.(With inputs from PTI) RPI supporters gathered at Chembur in Mumbai protesting killing of a person at Bhima Koregaon near Pune on Monday. The cyber crime cell of the city police issued a notification warning of “stern action against socially divisive social media posts”. Mobile phone jammers continued to be in operation in Koregaon-Bhima and surrounding villages. Pelting of stonesCommerce and commute in several parts of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad were thrown off-kilter as State transport buses were pelted with stones during demonstrations by Bhim Sainiks. Traffic had to to be diverted at a number of points. Traffic along the old Mumbai-Pune highway came to a grinding halt due to the demonstrations.By noon, the agitators had compelled several shops and establishments in vital parts of Pune to be shut even as curfew continued to be imposed in the village of Bhima-Koregaon and surrounding villages – the epicenter of the violence — 30 km from the city.There were reports of widespread stone-pelting in Ahmednagar district as well, with lockdowns being observed in several tehsils.Shutdowns were particularly tense in Marathwada where condemnations of the violence became violent.In Hingoli, two jeeps were burnt; a ‘Shivshahi’ AC bus of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) was damaged in Osmanabad district; and a State transport bus was pelted with stones in Parbhani district. A massive ‘rasta roko’ was staged along the Jalna-Sindkhed road. Mumbai, Pune and several other parts of Maharashtra, remained on edge a day after clashes marred the bicentenary celebrations of the historic 1818 battle of Bhima-Koregaon that concluded on Monday.Tremors of the violence, which left one person dead near Koregaon Bhima village, were felt across several districts in western Maharashtra as well as the Marathwada and Vidarbha regions, as activists of Dalit groups, social outfits and Ambedkarite parties staged road blocks and issued condemnations of the January 1 violence.Local train services disruptedProtesters disrupted suburbs and local train services on the Harbour Line, blocked roads in several areas of Mumbai, forced shops to shut down and attacked a journalist of a television news channel.The Central Railway suspended suburban services between Kurla and Vashi on its harbour corridor and is running special services between CSMT-Kurla and Vashi-Panvel section.Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) continued to be in force across Pune, Aurangabad and other districts in Marathwada in a bid to preclude stormy clouds of a possible caste conflagration.“We have deployed two companies of the State Reserve Police Force [SRPF] along with several Quick Response Teams [QRT] of the police positioned at sensitive points in Pune city under supervision of senior police personnel,” said Commissioner of Police Rashmi Shukla.Also Read Devendra Fadnavis orders judicial inquiry into Bhima-Koregaon clashes Cause of the violenceWhile several outfits and parties issued urgent proclamations of restraint, some alleged that the violence was a carefully planned conspiracy by rightwing Hindutva groups.Organisers of the ‘Bhima-Koregaon Shauryadin Prerana Abhiyan’, a committee which held the ‘Elgaar Parishad’ on Sunday in which Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mewani and Radhika Vemula participated, alleged that the clashes were incited by right-wing outfits.According to sources, on December 29, a fierce dispute broke out between upper caste Marathas and Dalits in the village of Vadhu Budruk (around 4 km from Koregaon -Bhima) over a rudimentary plaque erected near the tomb of Govind Ganapat Gaikwad, a Dalit from the Mahar community. He is believed to have performed the final rites of the slain Maratha King Sambhaji (Shivaji’s son).Gaikwad had defied Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb to perform the last rites of Sambhaji after the latter was tortured and murdered by Aurangzeb in 1689.According to history, the Mughals had warned that whoever performed the last rites of Sambhaji would be killed, and no one stepped forward except Gaikwad. He apparently paid with his life for his deed.Also Read | Photo Credit: Emmanual Yogini How a British war memorial became a symbol of Dalit pride
The controversy and violent protests against the period film Padmaavat dominated conversations on and off stage on the second day of the Jaipur Literary Festival on Friday, with filmmakers Vishal Bhardwaj and Nandita Das voicing support for director Sanjay Leela Bhansali.“There’s a gun to our heads. If you have to curb your thoughts, how can you be called a democratic, and free society?” Mr. Bhardwaj said in a conversation after his session, ‘Revolutionary Poets: On Hamlet, Haider and Shakespeare’s Ability to Speak Truth to Power’.The filmmaker, who has adapted three of Shakespeare’s plays to make the trilogy, Maqbool, Omkara and Haider, said, “When the Supreme Court says a film should be released and it is not released, then if it is not chutzpah (on the part of the Karni Sena), then what is it?”In defianceMore than anger, Mr. Bhardwaj expressed a sense of defiance when asked about the climate of censorship. “This is the best time for artistes. When they try to strangulate us, we will scream. It is time for us to scream,” he replied to huge applause from the audience.Recounting his experience of filming Haider,based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet that he set in Kashmir, Mr. Bhardwaj said he had a less difficult time shooting the film in Kashmir than after the film was made. “I was called an anti-national. That hurt more,” he said.Later, on being asked if the film industry had any plans to counter the stifling of creative thought as a collective, the filmmaker said, “We are not warriors that we will fight. What we want to say, we say through our films. We have no power; we are not taken seriously, and only considered as a glamour industry.”Role of state“I hope the state becomes more powerful to stop the violent protests. The protesters are getting away with breaking the law. That’s the scary part. No one has the right to violent protests. How will this country run if the system is not being respected?” Mr. Bhardwaj said.Later actor Nandita Das, speaking about her upcoming film on writer and poet, Sadaat Hasan Manto, said neither self-proclaimed custodians of culture nor the censor board should be allowed to decide what people should watch.“The whole concept of the censor board is faulty. How can a handful of people decide what the nation wants to see?” Her decision to make a film on Manto, a champion of free speech, was precisely with the intent to trigger a conversation on a subject so relevant to India today, she said.Speaking at a press conference here on the protests, Congress leader Salman Khurshid said, “If there is dissent, there must be opportunity to express that dissent. But they must remain within the four corners of permissible limit of free expression. We are all in committed to free expression, not free oppression.”
A fake currency racket having its roots in Odisha’s Berhampur was busted by Bhubaneswar commissionerate of police on Sunday. Five persons were arrested and fake Indian currency notes of ₹2,000, ₹500, ₹200 and ₹50 denominations amounting to ₹4.65 lakh were seized from them.The arrested persons include the masterminds of the racket, Rameswar Moharana (43) and K. Ramesh (56), both hailing from Berhampur, and their associates from Khurda district — Pranam Bhoi (22), Dilip Bhoi (19) and Sarat Sahu (32).The associates revealed that the manufacturing unit was at Palur Bunglow Street in Berhampur.
While Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh insisted on Monday that nobody involved in sacrilege cases would be spared, the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP combine has decided to meet the Governor over the ‘deteriorating law and order’ situation in the State.‘Bid to divert attention’“The law would take its course in the matter of sacrilege cases,” Capt. Amarinder said while speaking to journalists at Zirakpur, adding that Akali Dal veteran Parkash Singh Badal was trying to divert the people’s attention from the findings of the Justice Ranjit Singh Commission, which had squarely blamed the previous (SAD-BJP) regime for the desecration of holy scriptures.On the proposed Congress rally in Mr. Badal’s home ground Lambi, Capt. Amarinder said he would expose the malicious intent of the Badals to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere in Punjab by exercising his party’s political right to hold a rally in any part of the State.Badal rallyNotably, Mr. Sukhbir Singh Badal had also announced to hold a rally in Patiala — the home town of Capt. Amarinder — on the same day as the Congress rally in Lambi.Senior SAD leader Daljit Singh Cheema said that a high-level joint delegation led by Mr. Sukhbir Singh Badal and Punjab BJP president Shwait Malik will meet Governor V.P. Singh Badnore on Tuesday to apprise him of the alleged deteriorating law and order situation in the State.‘Petty politicking’“The situation is getting worse each day and the Congress government is busy in petty politicking. Its Ministers are busy in one-upmanship, which has left them with no time to concentrate on the problems of the State,” alleged Mr. Cheema.Mr. Cheema claimed that tension have been mounting in the State in run-up to the Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti elections because under the pressure of Congress leaders, several officials are discriminating against the non-Congress candidates.“The polling has already been vitiated as a large number of nominations of Akali Dal candidates have been rejected without reason,” alleged Mr. Cheema.
Violence broke out in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kishtwar town on Wednesday as angry mourners clashed with police during the funeral procession of the senior Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) functionary killed in Tuesday’s terror attack along with his PSO, prompting the Army to stage flag march in the area. No one was injured in the clashes, officials said. Curfew remained imposed for the second day in the communally-sensitive district following the killing of Chanderkant Sharma and constable Rajinder Kumar, even as police intensified search to nab the assailant. According to eyewitnesses, a large number of people came out of their houses to take part in the funeral procession of Sharma. In Dak Banglow area, an irate crowd held protests and raised slogans against Pakistan and militants. The group soon turned violent and pelted stones on police personnel deployed there. Police resorted to cane-charge and tear gas shelling to disperse the protesters and brought the situation under control. The slain RSS leader was cremated at Chowgan ground in a ceremony attended by Sangh leaders including its J&K chief Suchet Singh, BJP State president Ravinder Raina and former Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh. SP office attackedAfter the cremation, the crowd turned violent again and stormed the office of the Superintendent of Police. The protesters ransacked some furniture and pelted stones. The Army conducted flag march in the city after the incidents. “There were incidents of violent protests (at two places). Some protesters entered the SP office and ransacked some furniture item. But the situation has been brought under control and curfew imposed,” SSP Kishtwar Shakti Pathak said.
Police have arrested three of the five accused in the Alwar gang-rape case of April 26, which has caused widespread outrage in Rajasthan because of video-recording of the crime and the release of footage on social media. The State government shunted out Alwar Superintendent of Police Rajiv Pachar late on Tuesday night following allegations of “failure to take prompt action in the matter”. The Station House Officer of Thanagazi police station, Sardar Singh, was also suspended and four policemen were sent to the Police Lines as a disciplinary action.Those arrested were identified as Indraraj Gujjar, Ashok and Mukesh, while two of the accused were absconding. Inspector General of Police (Jaipur Range) S. Sengathir said here on Wednesday that Mukesh, additionally charged under the Information Technology Act, had recorded the crime and uploaded the videos on social media.Mr. Sengathir said 14 police teams had spread out to different areas and launched the hunt for the remaining accused. The victim – a Dalit woman – was allegedly raped in front of her husband after the couple was waylaid on the Thanagazi-Alwar bypass road and dragged to a deserted area.The State government has released an interim relief of ₹4.12 lakh for the victim under the provisions of the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The first information report in connection with the crime was also registered on May 2 under the SC/ST Act and Section 376-D (gang rape) of Indian Penal Code.Protests erupted in Thanagazi on Wednesday as residents blocked the Alwar-Jaipur State highway demanding immediate arrest of all the accused. In Jaipur, BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Kiroril Lal Meena led a protest march to the Chief Minister’s residence. Police stopped the march at the Civil Lines railway crossing.BJP State president Madan Lal Saini alleged that the Alwar police had “deliberately delayed” action because of the May 6 polling for the Lok Sabha election.
A team of officials from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) visited the Sun Temple in Konark and the Jagannath temple in Puri, Odisha, on Friday to assess the damage to the heritage structures caused by Cyclone Fani. In a statement here, the ASI said the team of top officials visited Konark on Friday morning and found that there was no structural damage to the monument. But, the team found some dislocation of the scaffolding, which is being put back in place. “More than 200 trees have been damaged which are being cleared. The electrical and illumination systems, including Internet access, have gone out of order, restoration of which will take some time. The monument will be opened to the public in next two or three days. The chemical cleaning and consolidation of the eastern face will be completed on priority. The monument will be restored to normal within about a fortnight,” the ASI said. Later in the day, the team was on its way to the Jagannath Temple.“The State government had sought help from the ASI to assess the damage caused to these world heritage monuments. The team will also suggest the restoration exercise needed for the monuments and the surrounding areas,” the ASI said.
Asserting that the Congress will be losing the Lok Sabha election, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday claimed that the party has fielded “two batsmen” to defend the naamdar (dynast). In a veiled dig at Congress leaders Mani Shankar Aiyar and Sam Pitroda, Mr. Modi said they were tasked by the party to take responsibility for its poor poll show. “One says hua to hua (it happened, so what) on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, while the other one, who has been behind the curtains after abusing me during the Gujarat elections, is attacking me again,” he said. While Mr. Pitroda faced the wrath of party president Rahul Gandhi for his remarks, Mr. Aiyar in an article raked up his controversial neech remark against Mr. Modi, saying his comments turned out to be prophetic.‘Live example’ Referring to the huge gathering at the meeting, Mr. Modi said that it was a “live example of what would happen on May 23”. “The Congress has understood this very well. That is why it has started preparing for the results. Now you will think, when the BJP-NDA is winning, what the Congress will prepare? Its preparation is uska thikra, party mein, kiske sir mein phode (on whose head the defeat should be thrust upon),” Mr. Modi said. “The Congress can’t say that they lost elections due to naamdar, which will be against the principles of vanshvad (dynasty). It was only after the fifth phase that the two nearest darbaris (courtiers) of the family started batting on their own,” he added. “They don’t have the courage to not take the field and play the match without asking the captain. There is an exodus in the Congress to become martyrs (take blame).” The Congress, Mr. Modi said, has proposed to do away with the sedition law, which would embolden terrorists, Naxalites and their supporters. “But the BJP will not allow that to happen. Our government attacked the terrorists in their den.” Warning the tribals against mahamilawati (adulterated) thoughts, Mr. Modi said his government was committed to the indigenous people. Two-time BJP MP Nishikant Dubey is contesting from Godda LS seat, under which Deoghar falls, and is facing Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) candidate Pradip Yadav.
The Odisha government has chalked out a ₹200-crore, five-year plan to restore the green cover lost due to Cyclone Fani in the coastal region.Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has directed the Forest Department to implement the ‘Five-year action plan on revival of coastal shelter belt and afforestation programme’ on a mission mode.The government would undertake the afforestation programme on 8,000 hectares over a five-year period. While 65 lakh saplings were distributed in 2018-19 in Fani-affected districts, it would be doubled to 1.3 crore in 2019-20.Under an urban tree plantation programme, five lakh saplings would be planted in five years. Also, about 30,000 uprooted trees would be replanted and restored in suitable places. The government targets to plant fruit-bearing plants in 12,000 hectares which would help revive the livelihood of many cyclone-affected people.Of the 1.3 crore saplings, the Forest Department will plant 80 lakh, while 50 lakh will be planted by different educational institutions, industrial and private areas.Replanting large trees“In order to restore comparatively large trees, an action plan has been prepared. These will be planted in the Balukhanda reserve forest area, and in different parks and roads of Cuttack, Puri and Bhubaneswar urban areas. All modern techniques will be adopted,” government sources said.Different varieties of cyclone-resistant trees such as Neem, Karanja, Baula, Jamu, Korila, Chatian, Khaira, Arjun, Mahyoni, Ashok, Harida, Bahada, Shisu, Katha Champa and Dimiri will be planted. Nearly 22 lakh trees have been destroyed causing a damage of ₹537 crore when Cyclone Fani hit the State.
All exit polls after the completion of last phase of elections predict gains for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena with the saffron alliance predicted to win Maharashtra comfortably, leaving the Congress- Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alliance far behind in the final tally. The State sends 48 MPs to the Lok Sabha, the second largest after Uttar Pradesh. As per the India Today-Axis My India exit poll, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)-led by the BJP would win 38-42 seats in Maharashtra, while the Congress-United Progressive Alliance (UPA) will bag only 6-10 seats. The ABP-Nielsen exit poll predicted 34 seats to the saffron alliance, with Sena and the BJP winning 17 seats each. According to their poll, the Opposition front is likely to win 14 seats, with Congress and NCP winning four and nine seats respectively. The Raju Shetty-led Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana is likely to win one seat. The Republic-Jan Ki Baat exit poll has predicted 34-39 and 8-12 seats for the BJP-led and Congress-led alliance respectively. It says one seat would be won by others. The Republic-CVoter exit poll predicts 34 and 14 seats to the BJP and Congress alliances. The only respite for the Opposition Congress-NCP came from Maharashtra-based Sakal-Saam exit poll which predicts 29 seats for the saffron alliance with the Opposition alliance likely to win 19. As per the region-wise exit polls, Sakal-Saam predicted losses to the BJP in its stronghold Vidarbha with the party winning only four out of ten. In 2014, the saffron alliance had won all 10. The Times Now-VMR exit poll has given 38 seats to the BJP-led alliance and 10 to the Congress-NCP. The News24-Today’s Chanakya exit poll prediction was identical. In 2014, the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance won 41 of the 48 seats, while Raju Shetti of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, who was then with the BJP-led NDA, got one seat. The Congress and NCP won only two and four seats respectively. The NCP won another seat in 2018 when the by-poll for Bhandara-Gondiya took place.
STREAM AND WETLAND PROTECTION ADVANCED MANUFACTURING FUSION SCIENCE This story is the fourth in ScienceInsider’s After Election 2014 series. Through Election Day on 4 November, we will periodically examine research issues that will face U.S. lawmakers when they return to Washington, D.C., for a lame-duck session and when a new Congress convenes in January. Click here to see all the stories published so far; click here for a list of published and planned stories.Today, a look at the growing controversy surrounding U.S. funding for the international fusion experiment ITER.Should we stay or should we go? Once the voters have spoken, that’s the question Congress will have to answer regarding the United States’ participation in ITER, the hugely overbudget fusion experiment under construction in Cadarache, France. Some lawmakers say it may be time for the United States to bow out, especially as the growing ITER commitment threatens to starve U.S.-based fusion research programs. The next Congress may have to decide the issue—if the current one doesn’t pull the plug first when it returns to Washington, D.C., for a 6-week lame-duck session.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)For those tired of the partisan squabbling on Capitol Hill, the ITER debate may provide curious relief. ITER appears to enjoy bipartisan support in the House of Representatives—and bipartisan opposition among key senators.ITER aims to prove that nuclear fusion is a viable source of energy, and the United States has agreed to build 9% of the reactor’s hardware, regardless of the cost. Recent estimates suggest the U.S. price tag could be $3.9 billion or more—nearly quadrupling original estimates and raising alarm among some lawmakers. In response, this past June a Senate appropriations subcommittee proposed a budget bill that would end U.S. participation in the project next year. In contrast, the next month the House passed a bill that would increase U.S. spending on ITER.Some observers think the current Congress will kick the issue to the next one by passing a stop-gap budget for fiscal year 2015, which began 1 October, that will keep U.S. ITER going. “I don’t think in the end they can come out and kill ITER based on what the Senate subcommittee did,” says Stephen Dean, president of Fusion Power Associates, a research and educational foundation in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Others say a showdown could come by year’s end.Trouble over ITER has been brewing for years. ITER was originally proposed in 1985 as a joint U.S.-Soviet Union venture. The United States backed out of the project in 1998 because of cost and schedule concerns—only to rejoin in 2003. At the time, ITER construction costs were estimated at $5 billion. That number had jumped to $12 billion by 2006, when the European Union, China, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States signed a formal agreement to build the device. At the time, ITER was supposed to start running in 2016. By 2011, U.S. costs for ITER had risen to more than $2 billion, and the date for first runs had slid to 2020. But even that date was uncertain; U.S. ITER researchers did not have a detailed cost projection and schedule—or performance baseline—to go by.Then in 2013, the Department of Energy (DOE) argued in its budget request for the following year that U.S. ITER was not a “capital asset” and therefore did not have to go through the usual DOE review process for large construction projects—which requires a performance baseline. Even though DOE promised to limit spending on ITER to $225 million a year so as not to starve domestic fusion research efforts, that statement irked Senators Dianne Feinstein (D–CA) and Lamar Alexander (R–TN), the chair and ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, respectively. They and other senators asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate the U.S. ITER project.This year, things appeared to come to a head. This past April, researchers working on U.S. ITER released their new $3.9 billion cost estimate and moved back the date for first runs to 2024 or later. Two months later, GAO reported that even that new estimate was not reliable and that the cost to the United States could reach $6.5 billion. Based on that report, the Senate energy and water subcommittee moved to kill U.S. ITER in its markup of the proposed 2015 budget, giving it only $75 million for the year, half of what the White House had requested and just enough to wind things down. Alexander supported the move, even though the U.S. ITER office is based in his home state of Tennessee, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.ITER still has friends in the House, however. In their version of the DOE budget for 2015, House appropriators gave ITER $225 million, $75 million more than the White House request. Moreover, the project seems to have bipartisan support in the House, as shown by a hearing of the energy subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Usually deeply divided along party lines, the subcommittee came together to lavish praise on ITER, with representative Lamar Smith (R–TX), chair of the full committee, and Representative Eric Swalwell (D–CA), the ranking member on the subcommittee, agreeing that ITER was, in Swalwell’s words, “absolutely essential to proving that magnetically confined fusion can be a viable clean energy source.” Swalwell called for spending more than $225 million per year on ITER.When and how this struggle over ITER plays out depends on the answers to several questions. First, how will Congress deal with the already late budget for next year? The Senate, controlled by the Democrats, has yet to pass any of its 13 budget bills, including the one that would fund energy research. And if the House and Senate decide to simply continue the 2014 budget past the end of the year, then the decision on ITER will pass to the next Congress. If, on the other hand, Congress passes a last-minute omnibus budget for fiscal year 2015, then the fight over ITER could play out by year’s end.Second, how sincere is the Senate move to kill ITER? The Senate subcommittee’s move may have been meant mainly to send a signal to the international ITER organization that it needs to shape up, says one Democratic staffer in the House. The international ITER organization received scathing criticism in an independent review in October 2013. That review called for 11 different measures to overhaul the project’s management, and the Senate’s markup may have been meant primarily to drive home the message that those measures had to be taken to ensure continued U.S. involvement, the staffer says.Third, how broad is the House’s support for ITER? Over the past decade or so, the House has been more supportive of fusion in general, the Democratic staffer says. But some observers credit that support mainly to one person, Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), a longtime member of the House Appropriations Committee. “Over the years he’s become a champion of fusion,” Dean says. “He protects it in the House.” Dean and others say that’s likely because the DOE’s sole dedicated fusion laboratory, the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), is in his home state of New Jersey (but not Frelinghuysen’s district).Indeed, observers say that Frelinghuysen has been instrumental in preventing cuts to the domestic fusion program proposed by DOE itself. For example, for fiscal 2014, DOE requested $458 million for its fusion energy sciences program, including $225 million for ITER. That meant cutting the domestic fusion program by about 20% to $233 million and closing one of three tokamak reactors in the United States. The Senate went along with those numbers, but House appropriators bumped the budget up to $506 million, the number that held sway in the final 2014 spending plan. But some observers speculate that Frelinghuysen might be willing to let ITER go if he could secure a brighter future for PPPL.Finally, the biggest question surrounding U.S. participation in ITER is: How will the international ITER organization respond to the calls for changes in its management structure? That should become clear within months. So far, officials with U.S. ITER have not been able to produce a baseline cost estimate and schedule in large measure, because the ITER project as a whole does not have a reliable schedule. The international ITER organization has said it will produce one by next July, the House staffer says. And if the international organization doesn’t produce a credible schedule, the staffer says, “the project will be very difficult to defend, even by its most ardent supporters.”ScienceInsider’s After Election 2014 series will look at a range of issues that will be on policymakers’ agenda once the voters have spoken on 4 November. Look for stories on:BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH FUNDING NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION POLICY STEM EDUCATION R&D TAX CREDIT EASING RESEARCH REGULATION 21ST CENTURY CURES
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