NYK Daily

Home Blog Page 2466

Bora Bora beyond the beach

Bora Bora is world-famous for its glinting turquoise lagoon, dazzlingly white sandy stretches of beach and luxurious resorts. With such a dreamlike setting, this magical island is, unsurprisingly, a great spot to decompress. But there’s much more to do than simply sipping a cocktail on your chaise. Here are nine ways to make the most of your stay.


Better (and cheaper!) than a helicopter’s view, try the 360-degree panorama from Mt Pahia (661m), one of Bora Bora’s iconic summits. Ribbons of deep blue water flecked with turquoise and sapphire, islets girdled with brilliant scimitars of white sand, lagoons mottled with coral formations… it borders on hallucinogenic. It’s a five- to six-hour hard-going return hike from Vaitape, with some difficult uphill scrambles and a few treacherous sections, but the mesmerising views over the translucent waters will be etched in your memory forever. The most difficult part is towards the end, with a climb up steep rock required to get to the summit. A guide is essential as the track is not properly marked and notoriously difficult to follow – your hotel will help you find a reputable guide. Too intimidating for you? Shorter, easier walks are also available in the mountainous interior – this is a great way to learn about the island’s flora and history.

Features - bora-hike

Hiking to Mt Pahia, view over the lagoon. Photo by Jean-Bernard Carillet.


Bora Bora’s magnificent lagoon is gin-clear, bath-warm and filled with all manner of tropical marine life, from schools of butterflyfish and parrotfish to manta rays and banks of flame-coloured coral. The best snorkelling sites are the coral gardens that lie near the barrier reef, south and west of the island. And there’s the not-to-be-missed site of Anau, inside the lagoon, where you’ll have the chance to observe majestic manta rays in the morning.

Features - bora-snorkel

Snorkelling in Bora Bora’s lagoon. Photo by Jean-Bernard Carillet.


Fancy venturing underwater deeper than a snorkel can take you? Now’s your chance. Bora Bora is a perfect starting point for new divers, as the warm waters and the shallow reefs are a forgiving training environment. All local dive centres offer courses for beginners and employ qualified, English-speaking staff. Experienced divers will get a buzz, too, with an array of outstanding dive sites outside the lagoon – sightings of lemon sharks, blacktip reef sharks, grey reef sharks and manta rays are guaranteed.

Lagoon Excursions

The best way to discover Bora Bora’s magnificent lagoon is by joining a lagoon excursion. Various operators offer full-day trips in a pirogue gliding through the blue and stopping periodically to snorkel and free dive in otherwise inaccessible spots. Most tours also include shark and ray feeding (they usually use tuna scraps), on top of swimming stops. Getting up close and personal with blacktip reef sharks and majestic stingrays in gin-clear water is an extraordinary experience. At lunchtime you’ll picnic on an idyllic motu (an islet of the barrier reef) to the sounds of traditional Tahitian music. The menu? Barbecued fish, of course.

Tip: you can explore the lagoon at your own pace, without taking a tour. A couple of outfits hire out small four-seater motor boats that are easy to drive (no license required). A detailed map of the lagoon is provided.

Attending the Heiva i Bora Bora

If your visit is in July, extend your stay on Bora Bora for the hugely popular Heiva, French Polynesia’s premier festival, which is held in Vaitape on a big stage near the quay. It’s so colourful that it’s almost worth timing your trip around it. Expect a series of music and dance contests as well as beauty pageants. Heiva is the best time of year to watch top-notch dancers shake their hips and waggle their knees.

Features - bora-dance

Traditional dancers in motion. Photo by Jean-Bernard Carillet.


The combination of regular strong breezes, protected areas with calm water conditions and a lack of obstacles make Bora Bora’s lagoon a prime destination for kitesurfers. The best spot is Matira Point, a small peninsula on the south end of the island. Even if you’re not a watersport aficionado, it’s hard to tear yourself away from the aerials performed by the local pros here. Don’t be put off – it’s also a great place to give it a try.


Picture this: you’re comfortably seated, gracefully drifting at 50m or 130m over the scintillatingly turquoise lagoon, with a bird’s eye view of the island. Parasailing is a memorable experience, one that can be shared with your loved one during a tandem flight. You don’t even get wet – all you do is clip into a harness, and step onto the wide deck of the specialised towboat where you’ll be taking off once the boat reaches a certain speed. It’s super fun, and all ages can do it.

Features - bora-parasail

View from a parasail. Photo by Jean-Bernard Carillet.

Taking a cultural tour

Did you know that during WWII a US supply base was established on Bora Bora, prompted by the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941? From early 1942 to mid-1946 up to 6000 US soldiers were stationed on the island. Eight massive 7in coastal guns were installed around the island during the war; all but one are still in place. A couple of operators run half-day trips that visit American WWII sites along with locally important archaeological areas and a few stops at lookouts.

Swimming with sea turtles

Want to support a local conservation initiative? Make a beeline for the Marine Turtle Protection Centre, a rehabilitation centre hosted by Le Méridien Bora Bora Hotel. Visitors can swim with the turtles in a protected lagoon and watch babies being cared for under the guidance of a conservationist. You don’t need to be a guest of the hotel – contact the hotel reception to arrange transfers. Afterwards, you can have a meal or a cocktail at the restaurant-bar and enjoy the fabulous views of the island.

The promise and peril of the new science of social genomics

Researchers are finding links between people’s genes and complex attributes such as socio-economic status and the time spent in school. The worry is that their results will be misconstrued.

The deep coal mine at the Yorkshire village of Kellingley closed in 2015 — the last of more than 1,000 such pits that once drove British industry. As the mines closed, the jobs went with them. Faced with economic and social decline, many people who could moved away.

Geneticist Abdel Abdellaoui has never been to Kellingley or any of the United Kingdom’s other former coal-mining regions. But he has found something surprising about the towns and their inhabitants. His research shows that the DNA in these districts is flecked with disadvantage, just as the coal seams once threaded through the ground.

By looking at the genomes of people living in former coal-mining areas, he has found genetic signatures associated with spending fewer years at school compared with people outside those areas, and — at weaker significance levels — variants that correlate with lower socio-economic status. Some genetic variants even correlate with political persuasion and whether or not communities voted to leave the European Union in the 2016 Brexit referendum.

Abdellaoui, who works at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, acknowledges that he is venturing onto politically charged ground. “I try to understand human genetic variation and this is what I run into,” he says. 

The study — is a high-profile example of an emerging trend: using huge amounts of data and computing power to uncover genetic contributions to complex social traits. Studies published in the past decade have examined genetic variants linked to aggression, same-sex sexual behaviour, well-being and antisocial behaviours, as well as the tendency to drink and smoke. In doing such science, geneticists are heading for controversial territory. They have even been accused of “opening a new door to eugenics”, according to the title of a 2018 MIT Technology Review article by science historian Nathaniel Comfort.

To the geneticists and social scientists doing this work, the results offer a useful and important guide to the relative contributions of nature and nurture to specific behavioural traits — just as genetic analysis can already highlight people who have an increased risk of cancer or heart disease. The approach could, for example, improve understanding of how the environment affects complex traits, and so offer a way to intervene to improve areas such as public education.

“It is super-exciting,” says Philipp Koellinger, a genoeconomist at Vrije University Amsterdam in the Netherlands. “It gives us better and more-precise ways for scientists to answer questions they have been interested in for a long time.”

Caveats abound. The genetic contribution to any behavioural trait is relatively small and easily swamped by the influence of the environment. The studies can reveal only whether someone is likely to have a certain trait, and cannot predict the qualities of any one individual. Most scientists are quick to point out why they do this work — to establish what role, if any, genetics has in behaviour — and to lay out its limitations. 

But not everyone is listening: already, some companies see a market in reading DNA like a fortune-teller reads tea leaves. “That stuff totally gives me the shivers. But it’s happening,” Koellinger says.

Critics charge that the ethical and societal risks of acting on such information are too great. “One of the main concerns is not so much the study of genomics, but how are we going to use it,” says Maya Sabatello, a bioethicist at Columbia University in New York City. “Who’s going to benefit? Who’s not going to benefit? We live in a very unequal society and this is a major challenge.” 

Strength in numbers 

For decades, geneticists assumed that most traits were governed by just a handful of genes — whether it was a relatively simple one such as height, or something as complex as antisocial behaviour. But as the sample sizes swelled, researchers began to find hundreds of variants that each have a relatively small effect on a trait. These projects — known as genome-wide association studies (GWAS) — build up a picture of which DNA letters vary from person to person (called single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs), which variants are most common in people with a given trait and how much of the difference between individuals these SNP patterns represent.

Adding up the contributions made by all these spots on the genome gives researchers a measure of the importance of genetics to a trait, known as a polygenic score. For height, which is known to have a strong genetic influence, GWAS show that variants can together account for 20% of the variation.

As studies into physiology and disease piled up, scientists began to wonder whether the methods would work on social and psychological attributes.

For some complex traits, such as social isolation, researchers have found only a weak influence; one study3 noted that heritability for that trait hovers at 4%. But for others, the signal from genetics studies has blossomed from initially feeble to surprisingly strong. In 2013, a large group of researchers working under the umbrella name The Social Science Genetic Association Consortium (SSGAC) reported the first GWAS of educational attainment, defined as years of schooling. The study found three SNPs that together could explain a meagre 2% of the variation in years of education. But then, a 2016 repeat by the same consortium using a sample that included almost 300,000 people — more than double the number in the 2013 study — found 74 SNPs that could explain 3.2% of the variation. When the consortium combined data from 1.1 million people, they discovered more than 1,200 SNPs that together accounted for 11–13% of the variation. That means the genes for educational attainment can explain about as much variation in a child’s time in education as their family’s socio-economic status can. “I think that’s really quite remarkable,” says Tim Morris, an epidemiologist at the University of Bristol, UK.

University of Sheffield students toss their graduation caps in the air
Graduating students at the University of Sheffield, UK. Genetic signatures linked to spending more — or fewer — years in school appear to cluster in geographic regions.Credit: Roy Childs/Alamy

Beyond education, researchers have examined other socially shaped traits. In 2016, for instance, the SSGAC published a GWAS of almost 300,000 people and identified 3 SNPs associated with self-reported measures of well-being. And in 2017, a weak genetic signature for antisocial behaviour showed up in a GWAS of a group of 6,200 Finnish prisoners. Neither study produced a polygenic score, but researchers expect scores for these traits will emerge as sample sizes continue to grow.

The growing power of GWAS inspired Abdellaoui to ask a different question: how do social traits such as educational attainment vary across a country? To find out, he and his team dug into the UK Biobank data set, which holds blood and tissue samples and survey responses for almost 450,000 people and cross-references the information to medical data such as hospital admissions.

The team looked at previous studies to amass a list of 33 health and behavioural traits and the genetic variants that influence them, adding up the contribution of each variant to get a polygenic score. The researchers then investigated the UK Biobank samples to see whether these genotypes differed across the United Kingdom. They first discounted genetic variation caused by historical regional differences in ancestry, throwing out variants that are common because of shared ancestry rather than because they govern a trait. Then they could see which traits still clustered into certain regions. For some traits — caffeine consumption, for example — there was no regional difference. But for others, such as educational attainment, the difference was significant. The researchers found that people living in former coal-mining regions had, on average, fewer genetic variants that correlated with staying in school longer or with going on to higher education.

Peter Visscher, a geneticist at the University of Queensland in Australia who worked on the study, says it’s not clear what underlying biology the genetic patterns identified represent. “I see that as a proxy for genes to do with intelligence and maybe perseverance, and maybe a bit of risk-taking.” 

Abdellaoui stresses that what they have produced is more description than explanation. “There are a whole bunch of variables that are clustering in the lower economic areas, but it’s very difficult to say anything about directions of causality.” 

The researchers think the regional difference is down to the migration of more-educated people to richer areas that offer them jobs, leaving behind people who have genetic signatures linked to spending less time in school. This social stratification could become more marked over time, they say. “If that goes on for multiple generations, then for the sort of social inequalities already there, you run the risk of increasing those inequalities on a biological level,” says Abdellaoui. 

The researchers found the same geographic pattern for other traits, but the relationships were weaker. Genotypes known to be strongly associated with lower socio-economic status and lower cognitive ability were found more often in the poorer areas. These genotypes, the scientists reported, were associated with people’s political views. Those in coal-mining areas had more genetic variants linked to lower socio-economic status, and were also more likely to vote for the left-wing Labour party or the right-wing UK Independence Party. Individuals were also more likely to have voted for the United Kingdom to leave the EU in the Brexit referendum. Abdellaoui says this does not mean that someone is genetically predisposed to vote in a certain way. 

Other researchers in the field agree with this caution. “Overall I like the paper and think that they’ve done a good job with it,” says Morris. “My main fear is that these results will be over-interpreted. They are informative descriptive statistics, but descriptive nonetheless.” He also notes the UK Biobank data are “extremely selective” and not likely to fully represent the populations of the former coal-mining regions. “For the regional results, these really must be interpreted with care.”

The results of this kind of study are based on associations, and must be presented very carefully to prevent suggestions that a person’s genes determine their outcomes, says Daniel Benjamin, a behavioural economist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He is wary of comparisons between his field and the spectre of eugenics, an idea from the beginning of the twentieth century that people seen as having ‘inferior’ genes should be prevented from having children. “Those of us who do work in this area have an ethical obligation, and that ethical obligation is even stronger in the case of the genetics of behaviour because of past terrible misinterpretations and horrible consequences,” he says.

One of the biggest sources of confusion is what a polygenic score actually shows about the contributions of nature and nurture, Benjamin says. “People have a really hard time understanding that genes don’t determine behaviour.”

Abdellaoui says of his UK study: “We are in no way suggesting the genes are the sole determinant of someone’s educational outcome. It’s a combination of environmental and genetic effects.”

Genetics in the classroom

Another disclaimer is that polygenic scores represent the ‘risk’ of having a particular trait, and don’t necessarily suggest that genetics is a major factor in behaviour. For instance, the scores cannot foretell that one individual will definitely graduate from university and another will quit school aged 16. “I don’t think that polygenic scores are at the level of predictive ability that would allow you to make those kinds of individual judgements with any degree of certainty,” says Paige Harden, a psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin. 

When Benjamin and his team put together the most recent GWAS on education6, his team released an accompanying 20-page list of frequently asked questions to explain the study’s motives, which made clear that the scientists thought there were no implications for education policy. Not everyone is so cautious, says Morris. “There are quite a few academic papers coming out that can’t resist a final sentence right at the end, along the lines of ‘the DNA revolution is coming and genes will soon be useful for predicting education’, which I think is quite irresponsible,” he says. He wants such papers to include more context — for example, pointing out that existing information such as a student’s previous attainment can already do a better job of predicting their future performance than a polygenic score can. 

A working group announced earlier this month by bioethics think tank The Hastings Center in Garrison, New York, plans to examine the field and advise researchers and stakeholders on how to conduct and talk about the work.

But others are less guarded. They argue that genetic screens of behaviour and cognitive ability could help children as young as three to fare better at school. “It can’t be right for education to continue to ignore genetic influence, because it’s far and away the most important source of individual differences,” says Robert Plomin, a psychologist at King’s College London, who is one of the more bullish voices in the debate and whose interpretations of the studies are controversial. 

Sabatello, the bioethicist, predicts that the first applications will be in specialist education, such as for cases in which the parents of children with conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder or dyslexia could use genotypes as evidence to demand a different approach for their child. “Parents want the genomic information to persuade authorities or educational entities that their kids need the specialist intervention.”

At the moment, there are no reliable polygenic scores to assess the contribution of genes to these conditions, but large-scale studies, more powerful than those done before, including a major GWAS currently under way for ADHD, could produce them in the future.

Although the focus on identifying and helping children with extra educational needs might sound altruistic, it, too, has a troubling historical precedent. Intelligence tests, which were first developed at the beginning of the twentieth century to pick out children who could benefit from extra attention, quickly became used to reinforce discrimination against minority populations or institutionalize children deemed to be ‘feeble-minded’. 

“Many teachers are worried that trying to use genetics as a tool in education could potentially be misused to validate race and class-based differences,” says Daphne Martschenko, who has just finished a PhD at the University of Cambridge, UK, that investigated attitudes in education to genetics.

In fact, because GWAS are done mostly using data from people of European ancestry, this could make the results less applicable for different ethnic groups. “A real pragmatic challenge is that we don’t have good genetic indicators for children of colour,” Harden says.

Morris thinks that this could compound existing inequality in education. “If you can’t do something for everyone in the system, then you can’t do it.”

Responsible research

Many in the field agree that the most useful application of these results will be to allow better-quality research into environmental — not genetic — influences on complex behavioural traits, by taking out the influence of genetics while studying some other factor. “It’s an unsexy thing to talk about,” says Harden, “but a better idea is using genetics as a control variable to work out what actually works to improve learning.” 

Researchers could include children with similar polygenic scores in both the control and test groups when trialling an intervention, for instance. 

The results could also help scientists to probe whether the effects of genetics depend on an individual’s environment — whether certain gene variants kick in only under some circumstances. And more-sophisticated genetic studies could unpick the importance of something called genetic nurture, in which environmental influences are misidentified as genetic. This could be the case with education, because well-educated parents both pass on their genes and are more likely to contribute indirectly by encouraging their children’s schooling.

The priority for most researchers in this field is to do more and bigger studies, to produce ever-stronger signals and tackle different traits such as income and social withdrawal. Meanwhile, those at the educational coalface don’t need insight from genetics to improve outcomes, says Sabatello. “We need to look at the environment. Children who are hungry can’t study. We don’t need to have their genes for that.”

Mistakes You Need to Stop Making on Vacation

If you’ve ever lived in a tourist town, then you know that clueless visitors are often more trouble than they (or their wallets) are worth. And because you’ve likely tripped over enough clueless clods, you probably already know how NOT to be one when you’re the out-of-towner.

But in case you don’t know, we’ve enumerated these few easily avoidable vacation pitfalls to help you enjoy your next trip and not make a spectacle of yourself.


Making no attempt to blend in/trying too hard to fit in
There’s a fine line to tread when visiting someplace new: you don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb, but trying to avoid being “that tourist guy” can make you look like a foolish wannabe. If you simply must wear your Mets cap and dress Asics, at least follow these two basic rules: shirts with the name of the place you’re visiting should only be worn once you’re home, while your country flag tees shouldn’t be worn… at all.


Taking pictures of everything
While it’s always nice to enjoy vacation photos, it’s even nicer to enjoy the actual vacation. If you spend the entire trip trying to capture the absolute best shot of the Taj Mahal, it cheapens the whole experience. Not to mention, it can drive your travel partner(s) insane. Take the photo and put the camera down.


Skipping local restaurants for the stuff you eat at home
Even if you’re not a diehard foodie willing to try anything once, there’s really no excuse for dining at the Hard Rock Cafe in Florence. Unless you collect the pint glasses. OK, still no. You’ve already spent a boatload to fly miles away from the local Cracker Barrel, so why not give the regional specialties a try? If you don’t like ’em, you can at least feel justified when you tell people that fresh pasta and Chianti are totally overrated.


Breaking the law
Being a foreigner, you’ve already got one strike against you. Don’t add fuel to the fire by starting a fight, relieving yourself on a statue, or flaunting your Buddha tattoo. If you’re lucky, you’ll spend an hour in a holding cell before paying a fine. If you’re unlucky, the arresting officers might opt to give you a wood shampoo instead, or worse.


Expecting every shop to take credit cards
You might think plastic should be an acceptable form of payment in every Mumbai shirt peddler’s back-alley stall, but think again. Not only is it impractical in some places, but not all shops want to pay the fees that accompany accepting credit cards. Be smart and keep cash on hand, or else you might not get to take that hilarious “most bargained” tee home with you.

How Kids’ Sleep Can Be Influenced by Digital Media

Logical moderation is the key to living. There is clearly a dose-response relationship between screen time and sleep and a threshold for screen-based recreation.

In 2014, the National Sleep Foundation found that most 15- to 17-year-olds routinely get seven hours or fewer hours of sleep, which is a good two hours less sleep than they need for a healthy life. The foundation also found that sleep quality was better among children who turned their digital devices off before bedtime than those who took their devices to bed. It would thus seem that there is a connection between screen time and sleep. Is this connection somatic (purely physical), psychosomatic (caused by the mind) or just mass hysteria brought about by digital ubiquity?

At a very basic level, time on a gadget during bedtime is time not spent in sleep; 6- to 10-year-old children with three technology types in their bedroom achieved 45 minutes less sleep than those without. It is only logical to believe that older children, with their more active social life, would spend more time on gadgets than the surveyed pre-tweens. Delayed bedtime or truncated total sleep time caused by “time displacement” by technology and media items in an adolescent’s bedroom has been reported to result in Sleep deprivation, sleep-onset latency (SOL), sleep difficulties, night-time awakenings, and parasomnias.

Time displacement is augmented by biochemical effects of screen time as well. Adolescence is already associated with circadian (sleep) phase alterations, which along with social demands (early school timings etc.), can cause sleep deprivation. It is well-known that light also affects the circadian rhythm. Light suppresses melatonin, the sleep-promoting hormone, and recent studies have found that backlight from gadgets (particularly tablets set to full brightness) can cause statistically significant melatonin suppression after just two hours of exposure. The dose, exposure duration, timing and wavelength of light play important roles in sleep patterns. Suppression of melatonin secretion and alterations of sleep rhythms are more sensitive to short-wavelength light (blue) than mid- (green) or long-wavelength (red) light especially at at the brightness at which gadgets typically work.

Longer screen time is also linked to eating disorders and higher calorie intake. Longer media hours have been found to be associated with consumption of more soft drinks and junk food. There is also strong evidence for a direct connection between screen-based sedentary behavior and weight, particularly when screen time exceeds two hours. How is this related to sleep? A 20-year review of obesity-associated diseases among children aged 6 to 17 conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that obesity in children is a reason for increased incidence of sleep apnea that leads to sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation in turn leads to more obesity in a vicious cycle that can effectively be traced back to extensive media use.

The psychological and physiological unrest caused by media and social interaction may also interfere with the ability to fall and stay asleep. Technostress and ICT or information and communication technology stress, the state of mental and physiological arousal observed in persons who are heavily dependent on computers, gadgets and e-games, are now pervasive maladies. Studies have shown that the stress due to excessive technology use is related to sleep disturbances. Researchers at the University of Gothenburg studied the habits of more than 4,100 Swedish men and women, aged between 20 and 24, and found that those who constantly use a computer or their mobile phone can develop stress, sleeping disorders and depression. Sleeping disorders and depression are connected by a common chemical — melatonin and we already know that blue light of the screen can disrupt melatonin in the body, leading not only to sleep deprivation, but also depression. Like obesity and sleep deficit, depression and sleep problems form a vicious cycle, one feeding the other in a downward spiral.

No correlation study can be complete without awareness of possible pitfalls of association. For example, the observed connection between sleep deprivation and technology use may not point to a causal impact of screen time on sleep outcomes. There is a high possibility that the reverse is true because youth who need less sleep or have sleeping disorders may spend more time with technology, either as a coping mechanism or just to pass time. Another possible source of error in such correlation studies is that they are largely based on self-reported or parental reported data of screen exposure and the outcome variables. Such reports could be highly opinionated and are often not validated against an objective standard. Teenagers, for example, can overestimate or underestimate their total sleep time/problems vis-a-vis screen time due to ignorance, peer pressure and even denial. Measurement errors and inconsistencies could also lead to faulty associations.

Like breathing, eating and drinking, sleeping is a life-sustaining activity, and anything that adversely affects it must be dealt with before damage becomes irreversible. However, it is regressive to believe that technology itself must be ousted because of sleep problems, much like advocating that breathing is dangerous because of air pollution. Logical moderation is the key to living. There is clearly a dose-response relationship between screen time and sleep and a threshold for screen-based recreation. For example, the risk of sleep problems was found to increase two-fold in adolescent girls engaging in screen-based activities for four or more hours per day. So, is four hours the magic number? Can the limit be generalized for an entire population? Obviously not. The threshold must eventually be set by every individual based on their own nature and needs.

Things to Consider Before You Start Investing

Be it investors, potential investors or general public who is looking to start investing, everyone gets excited the minute they have extra cash on their hands and one of the usual plans is to invest it for quick profits. People want to start making their money work for them and that’s a very understandable and rational thought but sure enough one needs to be practical about their finances as well. There is a lot of due diligence and groundwork that goes into understanding the financial markets before one must start investing and it’s for their best as well!

An investment making company will generally help you get started with your investment and offer you end-to-end insights into how to make more money and how to invest money to achieve your financial goals. However, there are a few things you as an investor must consider before approaching any Asset Management Company or getting started on your investment journey.

Here are the top 7 things one should consider before they start investing to make more money:

1. Pay Off Prior Dues

No investment can start without you actually being done paying off your dues and clearing your credit. A clean slate for all your debts is very essential to begin investing stress free and focusing on returns.

2. Create Cash Emergency Fund

Before you start investing it is very important for you to have a separate cash fund prepared just in case of emergencies. There is no questioning the volatility of the market and you can’t really depend on redeeming from market when in dire need. Having an emergency fund lets you start your investment journey with a bit more ease.

3. Create Financial Goals

One of the most important questions often asked is how to invest money and earn quick profits! However, there is much more to investing than just expecting returns. It is equally important to have your financial goals set it place and invest accordingly. Be it buying a dream home, car or saving for retirement, an investment making company will know exactly how to help you get started.

4. Understand Financial Instruments

There are tons of financial instruments in the market which offer numerous benefits. The bigger question often is what you as an investor wish to achieve, quick profit, long term stability, lesser risk or just saving for the future? It’s not tough to make more money with your investments as long as your priorities are already quite clear.

5. Due Diligence on Investment Options

Asset Management Companies have a variety of financial instruments that an investor can pick from and ensure that they make more money. If you want to know how to invest money wisely on the other hand then it is best if you do your due diligence on all the financial products in the market and then make an informed decision to earn quick profits.

6. Research on market trends

How to invest money wisely is indeed a question every investor should be asking themselves or the investment making company who is helping them build a portfolio. Keeping updated about the market, staying on top of news in the world markets and knowing the current business trends makes it easier for the investors to pick their financial instruments for investment.

7. Evaluate your risk bearing capacity

Every individual has their own risk bearing capacities. An investment making company will often ask you the risk level your profile fits in as an investor as it helps them decide where and how to invest money and earn quick profits. How to invest money is often a question answered at the expense of how much risk are you willing to take for the same,

As simple and lucrative investing and making quick profit sounds, the truth is that unless you have a foundation in place and thorough research to build up, your investment portfolio won’t be solid.

Spain to exhume dictator Franco’s remains to discreet grave

MADRID (AP) — Spain’s Socialist government says it will exhume and relocate the remains of dictator Gen. Francisco Franco on Thursday, bringing closer to an end a move that has sparked much criticism and legal battles.

In a statement Monday, the government said the remains would be taken from the grandiose mausoleum at the Valley of the Fallen complex outside Madrid and moved to a cemetery close to the capital where the Franco family has a crypt.

The government plans to transport the remains over the 35-kilometer (21-mile) distance by helicopter. It said it will begin the exhumation operation at 10:30 a.m. (0830 GMT) Thursday.

The statement said the operation will be a private affair, with only Franco’s relatives and some government officials allowed to attend. The media will be able to witness it from outside.

The procedure was authorized after the Supreme Court recently dismissed the objections by Franco’s family, ending months of delays.

The interim government is pushing ahead with the exhumation before Spain holds a general election on Nov. 10 in which acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez hopes to regain the full powers of his office.

Franco ruled Spain between 1939 and 1975 after he led a rebellion against the Spanish democratic government in 1936 that started the Spanish Civil War.

For many years, thousands of people commemorated the anniversaries of his Nov. 20, 1975 death in Madrid. And although Franco’s popularity has waned immensely, the exhumation has been criticized by the dictator’s relatives, Spain’s three main right-wing parties and some members of the Catholic Church for opening the country’s old political wounds.

The exhumation follows a 2007 Historical Memory Law that aimed to seek redress for the estimated 100,000 Franco victims who are buried in unmarked graves, including thousands at the Valley of the Fallen. The law prohibited having Franco’s remains in a place that exalted him as a political figure.

Ways to Trick Your Body Into Feeling Warmer on Frigid Cold Days

Toasty tips for those days you can barely get out from under the covers.

Focus on your breath

The way you breathe may help keep you warm, and it’s more than blowing warm air on your hands. There is a Tibetan practice called vase breathing that is thought to raise body temperature, although you might need to put some work into it and also use in combination with visualization and meditation. “Vase breathing is an element of the g-tummo meditation practices of Hindu Yogis,” explains Laura Stix, a naturopathic doctor and clinical hypnotherapist in Ontario, Canada. “It is a sacred practice and research to date does support the efficacy of this breathing technique to increase body temperature, though it is not clear how exactly it does this.” She explains that vase breathing includes holding the breath and contracting abdominal and pelvic floor muscles.

But there’s a secret to this. The key is to do this in a manner that makes your protruding belly take the shape of a pot-like vase shape. Additionally, she says that it’s also helpful to practice visualization while doing this. Imagine warm energy filling your body. A study shows that without visualization, people can only do “Forceful Breath vase breathing for a limited time, resulting in limited temperature increases in the range of normal body temperature,” according to a 2013 study in PLoS One.

Bearded man in a scarf and winter vest in the snow

Photo: MediaPhotos/iStock

Bundle up the smart way

Layers trap heat and help prevent sweating (which makes you feel colder). The U.S Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration notes the importance of dressing in layers to stay safe in cold weather. They suggest wearing at least three layers of loose-fitting clothes to provide ideal insulation. Specifically, they say to wear an inner layer of wool, silk, or synthetic material. This keeps moisture from the body. Second, wear a middle layer made of wool or synthetic material. This acts as an insulator when wet. Finally, wear an outer wind and rain protection layer for ventilation. Resist the urge to wrap clothes tightly, too. They add doing so reduces blood circulation, which is necessary to keep your extremities warm.

Plaid blanket with a cup of tea and notebook

Photo: Shutkatyta/iStock

Layer your blankets properly

For a cozy bed, use multiple blankets to help trap heat. Just like dressing in layers, this concept works similarly. Start with flannel sheets. Then put your heaviest comforter on the bottom, and layer thin, dense blankets on top. If you keep your bed pushed up against an external wall of your home, pull it a few inches toward the centre of the room on chilly days. If you’re an older adult, the National Institute on Aging says that you’re more likely to lose body heat faster than when you were young. Therefore, they suggest keeping a blanket over your legs whenever possible and wearing socks and slippers. They also recommend wearing long underwear under pajamas and using extra covers when going to bed.

Woman in a fur trimmed collar and gloves holding a mug

Photo: ArtShotPhoto/iStock

Eat something fatty

If you plan to stay outside for a long time, fuel your body’s inner furnace by eating. And don’t worry about calories—that’s precisely what you need to keep warm. “Any time we ingest food our body produces some increased heat,” explains Stix. “Research suggests that the largest determinant of the thermogenic effect of food is its caloric content. Given this, the richest source of calories comes in the form of fat, considering one gram fat provides nine calories, while a gram or protein or carbohydrates supplies only four calories.”

Woman having fun in the snow

Photo: Azarubaika/iStock

Tie your scarf like this

Use a hidden knot to protect your neck and chest from the cold. Here’s how it works: Drape the scarf over the front of your neck so the ends hang backward over your shoulders. Then, cross the ends behind your head and bring them to the front. Cross the ends over each other, and pull one end through, to make a loose knot. Tuck the knot under the front of the scarf.

Holding snow in gloves

Photo: Xijian/iStock

Hand warmers

Try this easy method to help keep you warm. Packaged hand and foot warmers are inexpensive and available at most hardware stores and camping outlets, or you can buy them online. The type can vary, but they generally contain a combination of iron, water, salt, activated carbon and the mineral vermiculite which generates heat when exposed to oxygen. To activate the warmers, you usually just unwrap or twist the bag, causing a chemical reaction with a hot byproduct. Tuck a bag into each coat pocket for toasty hands.

Canada winter destinations travel

Photo: ShutterStock

Think happy thoughts

A study published in the journal Emotionfound that nostalgia truly evokes warm and fuzzy feelings. Participants who recalled a nostalgic event (versus an ordinary one) had a greater tolerance for intense cold. Next time you’re waiting outside on a frigid day, summon up those happy thoughts of coming home to a surprise party or opening presents on Christmas morning.

Person in a gray sweater holding a cup of tea

Photo: Kikovic/iStock

Sip something warm

Hot drinks and soups will make you feel warmer, if only for a little while. “Drinking a non-caffeinated tea or hot beverage doesn’t actually change our internal body temperature,” says Stix. “However, receptors in the back of the throat will sense the hot fluid and trigger the body to sweat a little.” Additionally, she explains that holding a warm cup in your hands will warm your palms and fingers too. Interesting, she says that the power of your mind may play a role. “It has been found that part of the warming effect to drinking a hot beverage is the belief that it’s heating you up, which in turn will actually make you feel as though you are.”

Gingerbread cookie dough

Photo: SilviaJansen/iStock

Bake gingerbread

“Ginger has been used for centuries to help increase body temperature and research supports this thermogenic effect,” says Stix. “It is believed that the polyphenols in ginger, called gingerols, are responsible for this effect, by triggering a small increase in production of adrenaline (epinephrine).” She adds that capsaicin from hot peppers appears to act similarly. “So if you want to get a real warming boost, try drinking ginger in the form of tea, with sprinkled on cayenne pepper to help increase that sense of warmth.”

Vodafone Idea partners Red Hat to transform data centres

(IANS) Open source solutions provider Red Hat on Monday announced a partnership with telecom major Vodafone Idea Limited (VIL) to transform its distributed network data centers to open standards, open interfaces based “Universal Cloud”.

VIL will be rapidly transforming its over 100 data centers across a “Universal Cloud,” where a shared software platform is capable of running multiple workloads — network, IT and third-party applications across its distributed Cloud locations.

VIL said it now plans to extend this Universal Cloud as a platform to third-party workloads.”

“Our collaboration with Red Hat has helped us deploy Universal Cloud-based on open standards and systems,” Vishant Vora, Chief Technology Officer, Vodafone Idea Limited, said in a statement.

“Effective working with various ecosystem stakeholders and rapid development cycles has enabled us to design efficient pods for widely distributed deployments running throughput intensive workloads,” Vora said.

Red Hat said its OpenStack Platform is enabling VIL to design efficient pods, which can be geographically distributed and taken closer to the end-users, helping to reduce latency and enable an optimal user experience.

With Red Hat’s open Application programming interface (APIs), VIL will be able to deliver actionable insights to its enterprise users and help them potentially create a competitive advantage.

In collaboration with Red Hat, VIL plans to set up a DevOps team, to drive more consistent innovation and to help co-create new solutions and extend the platform to start-ups and developers.

In addition, VIL will deploy the Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform to automate workflows and extend self-provisioning to VIL enterprise customers.

“We’re pleased to have helped VIL setup the distributed Cloud platform and further support it extending it to a broad range of customers, including small to medium-sized enterprises and start-ups,” said Marshal Correia, Vice President and General Manager, Red Hat India.

“By adopting a more agile, DevOps-centered workflow based on Red Hat’s open hybrid cloud technologies, VIL customers can more quickly adapt to changing market conditions,” Correia said.

Modi for bridging gap between human intentions, AI

(IANS) Stressing integration and the right balance between human and artificial intelligence (AI), Prime Minister Narendra Modi here on Sunday said the debate on AI should focus on bridging the gap between human intentions and AI, and not its likely negative impact.

Speaking at the launch of the book ”Bridgital Nation”, written by N. Chandrasekaran and Roopa Purushottam, Modi said, “The debate should not be on what are the dangers from AI, but how to bridge the gap between artificial intelligence and human intentions.”

He said the emphasis should be on ways to upgrade skills as per the demand. “Let AI be just another aid, which is a little more sophisticated,” he said.

Observing that there is a conspiracy to present technology as a challenge for India’s demographic dividend, he said, “Human intentions and right intentions” were important for AI’s operations. Technology and talent were force multipliers, rather than a threat, he said. The technology was a bridge between aspirations and achievements, he added.

The Prime Minister narrated how technology had been a key component of government schemes to reform, transform and perform. He mentioned the use of data intelligence, digital mapping and real-time monitoring in Ujjwala Yojana, which has transformed the lives of millions of women. He also talked about how technology had helped in empowering people through schemes, like Jan Dhan Yojana and Ayushman Bharat.

Modi said his government had used technology to remove silos among departments and build a bridge between supply and demand through innovative ideas, like the Government e-market Place (GeM). He explained how technology was used to create a robust startup system in the country, especially in tier 2 and 3 cities, which helped in the development of a new ecosystem of startups.

On the need to convert challenges posed by technology into opportunities, Modi cited the example of the creation of India Post Payment Bank. The disruption caused by technology to the entire postal organization had converted it into a tech-intensive banking system, benefiting millions through the postal bank, he added.

84% Instagram users likely to shop from it: Report

PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 15: In this photo illustration, the social media application logo, Instagram is displayed on the screen of a computer on March 15, 2019 in Paris, France. Social media Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp have been affected by a global outage for nearly 24 hours on March 14, 2019 cutting virtual worlds to nearly 2.3 billion potential users. Facebook has explained the causes of malfunctions that have disrupted its networks in recent days. This failure is due to the "server configuration change" that has caused cascading problems Facebook is excused for the inconvenience caused to users and companies that are dependent on Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp to run their business.(Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)

(IANS) Eighty-four percent of Instagram users are likely to shop using the photo-sharing platform, and Instagrammers spend most of the time on the platform in the evening between 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., a new report said on Monday.

According to a report by digital media agency WATConsult’s Recogn, Instagram currently has 117.1 million monthly active users (MAUs) and the average time spent per user is 45 minutes.

For those willing to purchase something on Instagram, they need to be made aware of the authenticity of the product.

More than 75 percent of the shoppers have had a satisfactory experience while shopping from the platform and a majority are likely to shop in the future.

“Instagram as a platform has grown tremendously in the last 2 years, and the user adoption rate is very quick. With this report, we are bringing forward to the industry, the behavioral patterns of the users, shopping habits and trends,” Rajiv Dingra, Founder and CEO, WATConsult, said in a statement.

More than 50 percent of the consumers have shopped using Instagram and close to 75 percent of the users from small cities and small towns have shopped using the platform.

Fifty-one percent of the Instagrammers access it at least once a day with a large proportion of Instagram users accessing it multiple times in a day (32 percent).

Spiff pitches a way to automate sales commissions calculations

Spiff, a Salt Lake City-based company pitching a new service for calculating sales commissions for salespeople around the world, has raised $6 million in funding to sell its own product to the millions of Willie Lohman’s looking for an end to needless paperwork.

Spiff’s management team kicked in $500,000 for the new round, which also included commitments from Peak Ventures, Kickstart Seed Fund,  Peterson Partners, and Pipeline Capital.

“Amazing as it may seem, there isn’t an effective, modern SaaS solution for managing incentive compensation,” said Jeron Paul, Spiff’s founder and chief executive. “Most companies use Excel or decades-old tech that’s really just professional services masquerading as software.”

Spiff’s own data indicates that 90% of businesses rely on spreadsheets alone to calculate commissions and it can take up to one month for sales representatives to learn about their commissions after they’ve closed deals.

Spiff already processes $4 million in calculations every month through thousands of deals working with software as a service vendors like Podium,  Weave, Bitglass,  Workato, Sendoso, HireVue, and Lucid.

Paul has had a long career starting and selling businesses before he launched Spiff in 2018. The serial entrepreneur previously sold Capshare to a subsidiary of Morgan Stanley;  launched and sold Scalar Analytics, and Boardlink, which was bought by ThomsonReuters, according to the company.

Spiff projects that the market for sales commissions in the U.S. is roughly $800 billion, with the incentive compensation market numbering in the trillions of dollars. It’s a big, niche, problem for customers that the company thinks its solution can address.

WikiLeaks founder Assange in UK court to fight extradition


LONDON (AP) — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange appeared in court Monday to fight extradition to the United States on charges of espionage, saying he needed more time to prepare his case.

Assange and his legal team failed to convince District Judge Vanessa Baraitser that a slowdown was justified. The full extradition is still set for a five-day hearing in late February, with brief interim hearings in November and December.

Assange defiantly raised a fist to supporters who jammed the public gallery in Westminster Magistrates Court. He appears to have lost weight but looked healthy. Assange wore a blue sweater and a blue sports jacket for the hearing, and wore his silvery-gray hair slicked back.

After the judge turned down his bid for a three-month delay, Assange — speaking very softly and at times appearing to be near tears — said he didn’t understand the proceedings.

He said the case is not “equitable” because the U.S. government has “unlimited resources” while he doesn’t have easy access to his lawyers or to documents needed to prepare his battle against extradition while his is confined to Belmarsh Prison on the outskirts of London.

“They have all the advantages,” the 48-year-old Assange said.

Lawyer Mark Summers, representing Assange, told the judge that more time was needed to prepare Assange’s defense against “unprecedented” use of espionage charges against a journalist. Summers said the case has many facets and will require a “mammoth” amount of planning and preparation.

He also accused the U.S. of illegally spying on Assange while he was inside the Ecuadorian Embassy seeking refuge and taking other illegal actions against the WikiLeaks founder.

“We need more time,” Summers said, asking for a three-month delay. He said Assange would mount a political defense that will be laborious to prepare.

Summers said the initial case against Assange was prepared during the administration of former President Barack Obama in 2010 but wasn’t acted on until Donald Trump assumed the presidency. He said it represents the administrations aggressive attitude toward whistleblowers.

Representing the U.S., lawyer James Lewis said the U.S. opposed any delay to the proceeding.

The case is expected to take months to resolve, with each side able to make several appeals of rulings.

The public gallery was jammed with Assange supporters, including former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, and outside the courthouse others carried placards calling for Assange to be released. There were chants calling for him to be set free.

The judge said the full hearing will be heard at Belmarsh Court, which would make it easier for Assange to attend and contains more room for the media.

Assange’s lawyers said the five days wouldn’t be enough for the entire case to be heard.

Former Home Secretary Sajid Javid signed an order in June allowing Assange to be extradited. U.S. authorities accuse Assange of scheming with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to break a password for a classified government computer.

Assange claims he is a journalist entitled to First Amendment protection.

Facebook set to launch dedicated news tab

(IANS) Calling itself a ”Fifth Estate”, Facebook has reportedly entered into deals with prominent media houses to launch a dedicated news tab on its platform.

According to the Wall Street Journal, publications like News Corp, Dow Jones, New York Post, the Washington Post, and others will help the social networking platform ramp up its ambition to become a news player.

“The New York Times has been in talks with Facebook, but a spokeswoman for the paper declined to comment on whether it had reached a deal,” the report said on Sunday.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke about a news section on its platform in April.

The section would reportedly be free for users, though Facebook might pay publishers whose work is featured.

Facebook is in talks with news publishers to offer as much as $3 million for the rights to publish content on its upcoming news tab.

“It’s important to me that we help people get trustworthy news and find solutions that help journalists around the world do their important work,” Zuckerberg wrote in a recent post.

Facebook could “potentially have a direct relationship with publishers to make sure that their content is available if it is really a high-quality content”, he added.

Algorithms and human editors will decide what new content will appear for the users.there will be a breaking news section with 10 of the “top” stories of the moment.

Facebook has announced other initiatives to support journalists, including a pledge to invest $300 million in local newsrooms and grants for people with ideas to improve the quality of news.

Zuckerberg last week stressed that his platform has now become a ”Fifth Estate” in the world alongside traditional news media and people no longer have to rely on traditional gatekeepers in politics or media to make their voices heard.

“People no longer have to rely on traditional gatekeepers in politics or media to make their voices heard, and that has important consequences,” he said.

Instagram test helps you choose people to unfollow

In this Monday, July 30, 2019 photo, the social media application, Instagram is displayed on Apple's App Store. (AP Photo/Amr Alfiky)

(IANS) Aiming to make it easier for users to manage the accounts they follow on Instagram, the photo-sharing platform has started testing a feature to group followers into categories, and help them choose users to unfollow, the media reported.

However, there was no guarantee that the feature would be ready for mass use in the near future.

As spotted by app researcher Jane Manchun Wong, users could look at the “least interacted withpeople to unfollow a bunch of them en masse, or browse just those accounts posting artwork, Engadget reported on Monday.

The feature would essentially help users to focus their feed on those people they care about, but it could also help on those they rather not wade through the regular feed just to find their favorites.

Instagram’s feed is based on an algorithm where it shows accounts that users interact with the most frequently at the top.

Stay connected