BJP siege throws life out of gear in city

Workers throng Secretariat seeking Thomas Chandy’s resignation

The BJP’s siege of the Secretariat from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday seeking the resignation of Transport Minister Thomas Chandy had several shades — for the common man, it meant a harrowing commuting time while for the roadside vendors, such a huge gathering meant good business.

As traffic through the arterial road was hit from early morning, students, office-goers, and others had a tough time. The spin-off effect of the siege was felt elsewhere too in the city. Many junctions and corridors witnessed snarls on the first working day of the week.

As the workers squatted in front of the North, South and YMCA gate of the Secretariat, its employees and the Ministers had a tough time reaching the Cantonment gate to enter Secretariat. “We had to walk all the way from Palayam to the Secretariat”, said a person from Kottarakara. Although the BJP made arrangements to provide food for the party cadres participating in the stir, street vendors made use of the opportunity. Lottery, ice cream and peanuts were in high demand. “A crowd is a good thing,” said Jose Prakash whose peanuts had great demand. For the lottery agents, it was a mixed bag. “BJP workers do not buy much tickets. LDF and UDF protests are much better,” said lottery agent V.S. Rajan.

Inaugurating the siege, BJP State president Kummanam Rajasekharan said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan should show the courage to take back the land acquired by Mr. Chandy in violation of Kerala Land Reforms Act and redistribute it to the farmers.

BJP’s national council member P.K. Krishnadas, district president Velliyamkulam Parameswaran, O. Rajagopal, MLA, State general secretaries Sobha Surendran and A.N. Radhakrishnan spoke. Traffic was restored around 2.30 p.m.

Source:-The hindu

SF politicians, bicyclists and others gear up for bike lane changes

Supervisor Hillary Ronen is living in fear.

Her husband takes their young daughter to school nearly every day on the back of his bicycle and, nearly every day, she’s haunted by mental imagery of the two of them being doored or sideswiped or otherwise coming to grief on Valencia Street. San Francisco’s major cycling artery is also ground zero for Uber and Lyft drop-offs and pick-ups, a mixture about as combustible and ominous as locating a match factory next to the lighter fluid depot.

These are the sorts of things that wander into Ronen’s mind during endless public comment sessions in Board of Supervisors meetings.

Valencia Street forms the border between Ronen’s District 9 and Supervisor Jeff Sheehy’s District 8. Sheehy — who worked as a bike messenger when he arrived in this city in 1988 to underwrite food, beer and $300-a-month rent — recently donned an aggressively yellow shirt and served as a human protected bike lane.

So, the supervisors overseeing both sides of the street are on the record in calling for protected bike lanes to keep Ronen’s family and Sheehy’s bike-messenger successors from tragically commingling with some dude in an Uber. Everyone says they want the same thing — but San Francisco is a peculiarly political town. And, very much in spite of our self-styled reputation for progressiveness, it’s also a place that’s often stridently opposed to change.

Right now, everyone is, ostensibly, on the same page. But this book is long.

When bike lanes were first proposed for Valencia Street, Department of Parking and Traffic boss Bill Maher had a succinct message: “Over my dead body.”

Those lanes were installed in 1999. Maher is still alive and well.

So, clearly, this city’s relationship with cycling and cyclists has transformed, as has Valencia Street. Rather than mortal opposition, our elected leaders and city staff are growing increasingly amenable to cycling and are keen to reach out to what is now a constituency. But this city has a number of constituencies and, in this neighborhood and, specifically, with this proposed project, they’re commingling to the same degree as Ubers and bikes. This endeavor may end nearly as badly.

On Nov. 13, the Board of Supervisors will, all but certainly, greenlight a proposed $145,000 study on how Valencia Street’s bike lanes could be upgraded. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) will be the body undertaking the work, but the Board expedited this process by offering to pay for the whole thing; Sheehy’s office will kick down $50,000 in transportation improvement funds. So, it’s clear that getting this study started, tout suite, is important for members of the board.

But that’s when things slow down. The study’s timeframe calls for its results to be presented in December of 2018. The crucial “stakeholder outreach” component of this study — i.e. finding out who is going to declare war on whom depending on what the study concludes — won’t be completed until September of next year. Actually doing the stuff the study recommends we do, if we actually do it, will take years more. And, all during that time, the scenarios that necessitated the study won’t be improving.

And perhaps that’s why, last week, Ronen proposed that Uber, Lyft and other app-hailed services stop picking up and dropping off riders on Valencia and instead pull onto the numerous side streets.

For San Franciscans who would have reveled at the sight of Travis Kalanick slinking off via the perp walk, this proposition was likely well-received. But Ronen knows she has no regulatory authority over app-hailed services; that’s the domain of the California Public Utilities Commission. And striking a “deal” with Uber et al. is a bit like Lando Calrissian trying to drive a hard bargain with Darth Vader. None of the city’s progressives, in fact, have much faith in Mayor Ed Lee to demand significant concessions from any manner of tech company.

And yet, those countless Ubers and Lyfts dropping off countless folks on Valencia aren’t doing so merely for the joy of driving through the Mission. “If you think restaurants are not going to freak out about not having Lyft and Uber doing pick-ups, well, that’s crazy,” summed up a longtime city official.

Ronen’s proposal was inspired by the well-meaning and understandable desire to keep cyclists from being run down. Everyone wants that. But no one wants to give up something that’s working for them. And this is why a year of studying this and proposing “solutions” may move everyone further apart rather than closer together.

Installing  protected bike lanes of the sort everyone professes to want on Valencia is going to require overcoming two sorts of obstacles: logistical and political. It’s not clear which will be more difficult.

Without tumbling too far down the rabbit hole of traffic minutiae, let’s discuss the physical problems first. These are significant. Several blocks of Valencia sit below overhead power lines and bus wires. This sets up a battle both with the SFMTA and the Fire Department. Pushing traffic further toward the middle of the street would potentially require a firefighter’s ladder to a burning building to go right through those wires — which is a nonstarter. There’s a long list of proposed cycling lanes that the Fire Department has held up over similar concerns, including a stretch on Upper Market that was approved by the Board and had the money earmarked and ready to go. Furthermore, any attempt to move those wires could trigger California Environmental Quality Act requirements. That’ll have a molasses effect on the process.

So, there’s trouble brewing with public city institutions. And, on other stretches of Valencia, private institutions may be spoiling for a fight.

On some blocks of Valencia, there’s a center turn lane. On some there isn’t. Removing that lane would allow the installation of bike and buffer zones without losing parking. But on the blocks where it’s not there, parking is going to have to come out. That will rankle people.

We’ve come a long way from Maher’s “over my dead body” era. There have been winners and losers over the past two decades as Valencia Street has hyper-gentrified. But, writ large, nobody can say that increased cycling amenities are incompatible with booming business.

Writ small, however, removing parking spots irritates business owners. Especially, City Hall officials note, if it’s their parking spot, the place in front of their business they arrive at early in the morning and where they feed the meter throughout the day. Times are changing, but some things never change.

Putting serious money into improving Valencia Street’s bike lanes, when much of the city isn’t nearly as safe and accommodating to cyclists, is a debatable decision. But Valencia is the backbone of the city’s cycling network and the place we’ve rolled out the green carpet for would-be riders. And, city officials tell us, if San Francisco can’t get it right on this street, then it can’t get it right, period.

“If ever there was a corridor on which to push progressive transportation policy, it’s Valencia,” says one. “The merchants are young. The raw material is fabulous. I think the timing is right. Let’s just hope Hillary and Jeff work it out so it doesn’t become political.”

And let’s hope that, whatever we do, it’s done before Ronen is worried about her daughter riding around with a grandchild.

Source:-missionlocal.

Gear up to deal with gout

Changing dietary habits can help in treatment. Photo: iStockphoto

Changing dietary habits can help in treatment. Photo: iStockphoto

The pain in his right ankle was so intense, he couldn’t rest his foot on the floor. Yet there was no swelling or inflammation. This is what Alex Anthony, 56, a retired naval captain and a maritime lawyer in Kochi, recalls vividly about his first attack of gout 11 years ago. “It felt like thousands of needles were piercing my ankle,” he says. When Ayurvedic massage offered no relief, he decided to consult a rheumatologist, who ordered an X-ray and a blood test.
“At first, we thought it was a particularly painful sprain,” he says. “However, the X-ray showed no signs of injury or trauma. A blood test revealed high levels of uric acid which led to a condition called gout.”

“Gout is an inflammatory form of arthritis,” says Shrikant Yeshwant Wagh, consultant rheumatologist at Apollo Jehangir Hospital, Pune, and founder-president of Know Your Arthritis, a charitable trust that works to raise awareness about arthritic ailments. “The condition arises because of the build-up of uric acid crystals—an excess of which is called hyperuricemia—in the blood. It is possible to have elevated levels of uric acid (higher than 6mg/dl, which is the norm) without developing gout, but when this excessive uric acid is deposited in a single joint, it results in gout pain.” Uric acid is a waste product that should be excreted by the kidneys. If it isn’t, it can lead to a build-up in the bloodstream.

“And though it can affect any joint, the common sites where excess uric acid is deposited are the big toe, the finger joints, the ankles or the knees—the result is intense and chronic pain,” says Dr Wagh.

Affecting younger people

According to a study published in 2015, in the medical journal Nature Reviews Rheumatology, the incidence of gout has been increasing worldwide over the past 50 years. In India, the disease is affecting a growing number of younger people too. “In some cases, gout is genetic, but a diet high in protein, frequent abuse of alcohol and a high intake of fast foods can increase your uric acid levels and put you at greater risk of developing it, especially if you’re already predisposed to it,” says J.V. Srinivas, director of orthopaedics, Fortis Hospital, Bengaluru. “We are seeing a lot of cases of people in their early 30s and 40s, though it can affect anyone at any age.”

As in Anthony’s case, the pain occurs without warning and keeps escalating. During an attack, your physician will prescribe painkillers and, depending on the intensity, even steroids that offer some measure of relief. Prevention, however, is most essential.

Lifestyle changes

Since uric acid is a waste product formed when the body breaks down purines—a type of protein that is found in many foods and even occurs naturally in our cells—changing dietary habits has long been linked to the treatment of gout.

“Dietary restrictions depend on how high your uric acid levels are and the frequency and intensity of your attacks,” says Saman Zaman, nutritionist at Philips Healthcare, New Delhi. “For non-vegetarians with chronically high levels of uric acid, it is best to avoid red meat, and consuming meat from organs such as brain, liver and kidney,” she says. “If your attacks aren’t as frequent, you can have limited intake of meats such as lamb, fish (tuna, salmon, trout) and poultry as these have moderate levels of purine. Portion sizes shouldn’t exceed 100-150g daily,” she says. “Chronic gout sufferers who are vegetarians may have been asked to avoid certain pulses and legumes such as beans, chickpeas and rajma, but recent studies show that moderate intake of purine-rich vegetables like these don’t aggravate symptoms of gout. A balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables and dairy is recommended.”

In a study published in November in the Journal Arthritis & Rheumatology, it was established that the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet, originally formulated to help patients with high blood pressure, could also greatly help in controlling gout attacks.

“The DASH diet is a simple plant-rich diet. It’s high in fibre, low in sodium and red meat. Salt is restricted to around 1,500mg per day (2-3 tsp). It requires you to eat a lot of vegetables, fruits and whole- grain foods which increase your fibre intake. You can include fish and poultry and nuts, but must eliminate red meat. It also requires you to cut the simple carbs like sugars, sugary drinks, canned and tinned foods, Indian sweets, and junk food that contain trans fats and cholesterol,” says Payal Banka, a dietitian based in Bengaluru.

Associated health risks

A study of 409 obese patients, published in the June 2012 journal of Obesity Surgery, found that 47% of them had hypertension or high blood pressure. The group that had hypertension was more likely to develop hyperuricemia as well. Researchers found that though abdominal fat doesn’t directly cause the condition, gout patients had a propensity to become obese and develop diabetes.

Controlling gout, then, is essential to good health. Frequent monitoring is required, says Dr Wagh. “Keeping uric acid levels below 6 is critical to prevent the occurrence of other health issues,” he says. People who suffer from gout do have a tendency to develop kidney stones too, another excruciatingly painful condition to deal with. “Drink plenty of water to excrete the excess uric acid so that kidney stones don’t form and keep a strict eye on your blood sugar levels,” says Dr Wagh. “Ideally, patients should take a blood test once every month (for four-six months) to constantly monitor their uric acid levels.”

Understanding your body and its needs is critical in living and coping with gout and staying free of pain.

[“Source-livemint”]

Samsung’s Gear Sport and Gear IconX earbuds will be available for preorder starting tomorrow

Samsung has announced that the Gear Sport and its second-generation Gear IconX earbuds (also known as Gear IconX 2018) will be available for preorder starting October 13th.

Priced at $299.99, the Gear Sport comes in blue and black and will be available nationwide from October 27th through Samsung.com, Amazon, Best Buy, Macy’s, and U.S. Cellular.

The Gear IconX 2018 will come in black, gray, and pink, for $199.99 and will also be released nationwide on the same day through Samsung.com, Amazon, BestBuy.com, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular.

The Gear Sport features a 1.2-inch AMOLED display, a built-in GPS, and is waterproof (up to 50 meters) with the ability to track swimming times and your heart rate. That makes it useful for those who are constantly on their feet and need something a bit more durable. (Samsung says it’s “military-grade” durable.) It also features 4GB of internal memory, which will be useful since the watch is compatible with Spotify’s offline mode for those who want to listen to music but don’t want to take their phones with them when they’re working out. It’s also compatible with iOS, so Apple users who aren’t too keen on the Apple Watch can use this model with their iPhones, too.

The Gear IconX 2018 are cord-free earbuds and Samsung’s second generation of the line. They’ve got longer battery life than the original, with Samsung promising seven hours of listening in a standalone mode, or five hours if you’re streaming music. The charging case also holds one extra charge. The buds’ 4GB of storage roughly equates to 1,000 songs, and they’re Bluetooth enabled so you can make phone calls, too. For Samsung Galaxy S8, S8 Plus, and Note 8 smartphone users, you can control your music and phone by tapping the bud and using Bixby, Samsung’s voice assistant. Samsung says the Gear IconX also features a built-in running coach that can track your running routines, which is pretty useful — though if you’re already wearing a fitness watch, it might be a bit superfluous.

[“Source-theverge”]