Inside Your Four Walls

first_imgThat’s where insights live.The ideas that you need to help you produce better results for your clients live inside your four walls.Your Four WallsYour people work closely with your clients. They have a front row view of all of their problems, challenges, and opportunities. They can see what needs to change, and they have some ideas about how those changes might be made.Your people are prisoners of the status quo, too. They have rules and regulations that prevent them from doing the work they might do. They hear “we’ve always done it this way because it works,” even when it no longer works (for you or your clients).Your people can and will share their ideas and insights with you as soon as you sit down and ask them to.Their Four WallsYour clients can teach you about their business. They have ideas and insights, too. They know where they struggle, and they know what would need to change in order to produce a better result. It’s true that the status quo has deep roots in their organization. The status quo has deep roots everywhere. But in every organization, there are some people wired to believe that there is still more than be done, that a better result can still be had.Some people within your client’s company are ready to share their ideas and insights with you, insights that you can use to build a better solution for other clients, too. But you have to be willing to listen and learn, to be student as much as teacher.The ideas and insights you need to produce are all around you. They’re inside your four walls, and their inside your customer’s four walls, too. If you go and ask for these ideas and insights, the people who have them will gladly share them with you. If your really serious about doing something with them, these same people will help you to do so.last_img read more

The Real Reason Your Dream Client Says No to Your Meeting Request

first_imgOne of the reasons your dream client says “no” to your request for a meeting is that they don’t want to have to make a decision. Meeting with you might force them to decide. That decision means change, and change means challenges.Your meeting might force your dream client to address issues and challenges that have gone unaddressed for longer than they should have. The reason these things have gone unaddressed is because doing something about them would require change, and it would require getting internal agreement on those changes where consensus is necessary.The “no” you hear may not be so much about meeting with you. That “no” might be in response to addressing the fact that your prospective client has been underinvesting in the results they need to produce. In their mind, agreeing to a meeting with you means dealing with an inadequate investment.Your meeting might lead to a decision to change partners, and that might mean ending a long term relationship. If you haven’t fired a long-term partner, you might not recognize how difficult it is for the person who is ending the relationship. Commercial relationships aren’t as transactional as some would have you believe.Switching costs include more than just the financial costs that accompany change. There are psychological, emotional, and relational costs your prospective clients will also incur. It’s easy to see how the contacts in your dream client company might struggle with a meeting that requires addressing difficult issues.The first meeting sounds innocent enough, but with each next conversation, you move your dream client closer to having to make a decision they are not prepared to make.You may be able to help your dream client make a change for the better, but first, you have to gain the commitment of time, a first meeting. If you want a “yes” to your meeting request, lowering the commitment level by sharing with your dream client that you aren’t going to ask them to make a decision makes it easier for them to agree to a meeting. Essential Reading! Get my first book: The Only Sale Guide You’ll Ever Need “The USA Today bestseller by the star sales speaker and author of The Sales Blog that reveals how all salespeople can attain huge sales success through strategies backed by extensive research and experience.” Buy Nowlast_img read more

Bad Things Come to Those Who Wait

first_imgYou are competing to win a deal and things have gone well. At some point, you find out that you aren’t the only one pursuing this particular company, that they are also engaged with a competitor. As time has passed, your prospect has gotten much quieter. They used to call and email you questions, but you haven’t had a question in weeks. You used to have meetings, the last one being over a month ago. Without warning, your prospect goes dark.You may have been told to wait, that your dream client was still working through things on their end. You may have received emails thanking you for following up and asking for your patience. You may worry that acting will cause you to lose the deal you are working on. The greater risk isn’t asking; it’s waiting.If given the choice between doing nothing and losing, or taking action and potentially losing, the right decision is to act.You don’t want to call again because you have been told that your client will get back to you. You don’t want to go over your primary contact’s head, engaging the executive sponsor that brought you into the deal. You don’t want to have someone from your leadership team reach out to their leadership team. You don’t want to get real and have the tough conversation because you are afraid you are going to find out you are losing the deal. But when you avoid taking action, you are likely increasing the odds that you lose the deal.If you were positioned to win, another phone call should not cause your client to go another direction. If you’re not positioned to win, doing nothing isn’t going to improve things for you.Bad things come to those who wait, things like being notified that you lost, being notified that your prospective client decided to kill the initiative, or that your dream client is going in another direction. If you are going to lose, don’t lose without even trying to win. Essential Reading! Get my 3rd book: Eat Their Lunch “The first ever playbook for B2B salespeople on how to win clients and customers who are already being serviced by your competition.” Buy Nowlast_img read more

Demands on Your Time Without Your Consent

first_imgA notification on your smartphone that you have just received a text message is a demand on your time. It requires that you pick up your phone, open your messaging app, and read the text. There was no request beforehand to ask whether you are available to respond to a text, there was just a text.An email is a significant demand on your time as well. It requires that you open the email and read the content. That may not sound like a heavy burden as it pertains to time or a cognitive load on your brain and your energy, except that you must decide what to do with that email having read it. If you were to look at your inbox right now, you’re likely to see a great number of emails you have not yet made any determination on what you are or are not going to do about the content therein.An interruption, be it a phone call or someone walking in your door to ask you a question, is a demand on your time. It’s very difficult for people to not answer a phone that is ringing, even their cell phone, and even when they’re in a meeting with other human beings. A human being who darkens your doorway needing a question answered, help with a project, or your time and attention for some other need, is impossibly difficult to ignore. It feels rude, and it is especially difficult if that person is in your charge because you are responsible for them.You signed up for demands on your time when you won your dream client’s account. When you took that client from your competitor, you signed on to be accountable for the strategic outcomes you promised you would deliver. When there is a challenge delivering those results, your dream client is going to call you, or text you, or email you, expecting that you are going to be there to help them – just like you said you would during the sales process. Even though you agreed to this, you had no idea when these challenges were going to occur, and you had no way to make sure they only occurred when you had the time and bandwidth to handle them.In the Outcomes Planner we produce, we provide tear sheets that allow you to plan for 90 minutes of focus time. The reason we recommend you do three of these blocks a day is because, if you can find a way to work for about half of your workday, you will radically improve your results. It won’t be 10X, it will be more like 100X improvement over the course of a year, specifically because you are blocking out distractions and eliminating the demands on your time. This doesn’t mean you ignore the demands, it simply means that you bundle them together, so you can control your focus and attention, which is now the currency of success in an age of infinite distractions and an equally large number of demands on your time and attention. Essential Reading! Get my first book: The Only Sale Guide You’ll Ever Need “The USA Today bestseller by the star sales speaker and author of The Sales Blog that reveals how all salespeople can attain huge sales success through strategies backed by extensive research and experience.” Buy Nowlast_img read more

People may tolerate corruption, but not arrogance: Goa BJP Chief

first_imgPanaji: Citing arrogance as the reason for the BJP’s debacle in the February 4 State Assembly elections, Goa Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Vinay Tendulkar on Wednesday said, “People may accept corruption, but they will never tolerate arrogance.”Speaking to reporters, Mr. Tendulkar said the loss of connect between people and BJP MLAs, including Ministers, had caused the downfall. The party’s seat tally had slipped to 13 from 21 in the 40-member House in the Assembly polls.He also recalled party veteran L.K. Advani, who, as per Mr. Tendulkar, had warned party leadership in Goa years ago that people may tolerate corruption, they would never tolerate arrogance.Mr. Tendulkar said, “We have accepted the loss. We are in the process of analysing it. Our MLAs have spoken, our Chief Minister has also said that the relations between some MLAs and people were not right. In Goa, no one keeps [a politician] close if he turns arrogant.”In an interview with The Hindu on Wednesday, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar indicated that the party’s seat tally declined in Goa due to manifestation of people’s anger against some individuals, the magnitude of which he had failed to gauge.last_img read more

Ajmer blasts case: NIA to hear litigant

first_imgThe National Investigation Agency (NIA) Special Court here will hear the complainant in the 2007 Ajmer Dargah blast case before deciding on the closure report filed by the NIA, which clears senior Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader Indresh Kumar, key accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and two others of all charges.Special Judge Dinesh Gupta said on Monday that he would first hear the complainant, Syed Sarwar Chishti, a khadim (worker) in the dargah, on whose statement the First Information Report (FIR) was registered in the case. The court will then decide whether the closure report is to be accepted or rejected.In its supplementary closure report filed on April 3, the NIA stated that it had not found any role of the four accusedin carrying out the blasts at the shrine of Sufi mystic Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti.Though the NIA had earlier claimed that Mr. Kumar had asked activists to work secretly in a meeting, it later submitted it had not found any evidence against him. Pragya Thakur, in her capacity as a member of extremist outfit Abhinav Bharat, was also earlier accused of having links with the conspiracy to carry out the blast.last_img read more

Groom accidentally kills 10-year-old boy at wedding

first_imgIn a tragic incident, a groom accidentally killed a 10-year-old boy from the bride’s side while performing a ritual with a sword at his wedding in Neemuch district, police said today.The ceremony, being held in Rampura village of the district last night, was called off as the bride’s family refused to go ahead with the marriage after the incident, they said.The incident occurred when the groom was performing a ritual in which he had to cut the leaves of a tree by using a sword. However, he could not control the sword which slashed the boy’s belly, Rampura police station in-charge Amit Saraswat said.The boy, a cousin of the bride, was taken to the district hospital, which is about 60 km from the village.However, he succumbed to his injuries during the treatment, he said.A case has been registered in connection with the incident.Saraswat said no arrest has been made so far.An investigation into the incident is on, he said adding that the groom is likely to be booked under relevant IPC provisions for culpable homicide.last_img read more

Army denies plan to storm sect’s building

first_imgThe Army deployed 24 columns across Haryana and Punjab by Saturday, even as it denied any immediate plan to enter the Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters in Sirsa. About a lakh devotees of Gurmeet Ram Rahim, head of the sect and rape convict, are holed up on the premises.A senior Army officer said 24 columns had been deployed in the two States.But the Army’s sizeable deployment is in Panchkula, where 12 columns are at the ready. Panchkula, where the trial court is located, witnessed massive violence, resulting in death of at least 28 people in the township.Eight columns in SirsaEight Army columns are deployed in Sirsa, while two each are in Mansa and Muktsar. Each Army column has a minimum of 80 troops.The Army officially clarified that it had no immediate plan to enter the Dera Sacha Sauda’s headquarters, a sprawling compound where tens of thousands of followers of the controversial guru are holed up. The devotees, among them a large number of women and children, have refused to disperse despite repeated appeals by the authorities.The Army, the police and paramilitary forces have set up barricades at entry points of the sect headquarters.Major-General Rajpal Punia, General Officer Commanding, Hisar- based 33 Division, told presspersons, “There is some confusion that the Army is going inside the Dera campus. At the moment, there is no such plan.” The clarifications came after some media reports about Army entering the premises, which further precipitated tension the region.The senior officer said he would be going to the sect headquarters to ask the Dera management to vacate the premises. Asked if the sect followers will be evacuated from the headquarters, he said, “We will come back to you.”last_img read more

Sub-zero temperatures slow down life in Kashmir Valley

first_imgFalling sub-zero temperatures sweept the entire Kashmir Valley on Monday, further slowing down life, especially in Srinagar. With frost-hit vehicles and slippery roads, the city witnessed this winter’s coldest night at minus 6.1 degree Celsius, according to the Meteorological Department.The movement of scores of office-goers was hampered as a layer of frost covered vehicles’ windows. Diesel cars came to a standstill due to icy conditions.“It took me half-an-hour to start my car. All windows were covered with frost,” said Naseer Ahmad, an employee of a private bank.Markets open lateMost government offices in Srinagar have advanced the time of moving in. The impact of the cold wave was also evident in markets, which opened later than usual.Tourists travelling to hill stations like Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Sonamarg, where the minimum temperature hovered between minus eight degree Celsius and minus 11 Celsius, saw their vehicles skidding owing to slippery conditions.An Army spokesman said men and machinery were put into service on Monday after a group of tourists returning from Gulmarg were stuck near the Baba Rishi Y-junction. “A recovery team reached the site and swiftly recovered the stranded vehicle,” he added.Unscheduled electricity cuts across the Valley multiplied the residents’ woes.In KargilIn Kargil, which recorded the State’s lowest temperature at minus 18.5 degree Celsius, piped water has frozen. “We boil ice to make our washrooms functional,” said Nazir Ahmad.“In the next 48 hours, there will be a further dip in temperature because of open skies. This week is likely to be dry and may flip the cold wave,” said a Met official.last_img read more

Taxi operators resume service in Shillong

first_imgTaxi service associations and travel agencies based in Guwahati — the communication hub for tourism in neighbouring Meghalaya — on Wednesday resumed their services to Shillong.Resumption of transport services followed relaxation of curfew in Shillong for five hours from 7 a.m. in the 14 troubled localities and a two-hour reduction of night curfew across the city, now from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m.“The curfew in the areas under Lumdiengjri police station (14 localities) will be relaxed for seven hours from 7 a.m. on Thursday. We hope it is safe enough for the night curfew to be lifted soon,” East Khasi Hills Deputy Commissioner P.S. Dkhar said.“Some cab operators are still apprehensive, but quite a few began operating today. Five days of idleness is quite a loss, particularly as this is the peak tourist season to Shillong and other places such as Cherrapunjee and Mawsynram,” said Nitul Das, a member of a tourist taxi association in Guwahati.The Federation of Shillong Hotels said the breakdown of law and order has been a setback for the tourism industry of the State. “The turn of events has plunged the industry into darkness. It has harmed the image of Shillong, which had earned the reputation of one of the best tourist destinations in the Northeast,” Arnold M. Lanong, secretary of the federation, said.The federation said the current situation has directly affected vendors, tea and food stalls, tourist spots, taxis, tourist cabs, homestays, guest houses and hotels. “There has been no hotel and guest-house booking since June 1, and it might take some time before visitors regain confidence about coming to Shillong,” a tour operator said.Former State Home Minister R.G. Lyngdoh said Meghalaya can ill-afford a break in tourism inflow as its economy has already been crippled by a coal mining ban four years ago.Meanwhile, the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council has decided to study land documents of the residents of Punjabi Lane.last_img read more

Survey of ‘disputed’ land in Shillong begins

first_imgThe Meghalaya Land Record and Survey Department on Wednesday began an exercise to survey the land of settlers in Punjabi Lane, a locality at the centre of a communal flare-up in State capital Shillong since May 31.The survey was initiated in accordance with the recommendation of the high-level committee that the government had formed to look into the demand of local pressure groups to relocate the inhabitants of the lane, also known as Harijan Colony or Sweepers’ Lane.Protests by the women of the locality — officially called Them Iew Mawlong — greeted the survey team, while Sikh leaders of the area stayed away from the exercise. “We are not clear about what triggered the protest. We hope to complete the exercise by Thursday,” P.S. Dkhar, Deputy Commissioner of East Khasi Hills district, said.“Neither the members of the local gurdwara committee nor I took part in it. One of the reasons is the death of my wife,” Billu Singh, head of Punjabi Lane’s Panchayat committee, said. Meghalaya Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong, who heads the seven-member high-level committee, said the survey data would be crucial to resolve the long-pending issue of shifting the Harijan Colony from Iewduh or Bara Bazaar, the commercial hub of Shillong.“The idea behind the survey is to properly demarcate the land belonging to the Shillong Municipal Board and to the Syiem (Khasi king) of Mylliem (the Syiem’s realm that covers large swathes of present-day Shillong). The settlers in the area are spread across the land belonging to both SMB and the Syiem,” Mr. Tynsong told The Hindu.Against relocationGurjit Singh, general secretary of Punjabi Lane’s Gurdwara Committee, said the Dalit or Mazhabi Sikhs have been living there since 1853 when the British brought them as soldiers or sanitation workers. “This used to be a wasteland owned by the Khasi royalty, who made an agreement with the British rulers and donated the land for our ancestors to stay. This is our land and we are not going anywhere,” Mr. Singh said.Residents say real estate dealers and local leaders have been conspiring to eject them and build a shopping complex on the land.last_img read more

Congress to use farmers’ rally for cultivating voters

first_imgA huge farmers’ rally to be organised here on January 9, which will be addressed by party president Rahul Gandhi, will provide an opportunity to the ruling Congress in Rajasthan to cultivate the agrarian community as voters for this year’s Lok Sabha elections. Preparations were being made here to hold the rally as a mega event.Mr. Gandhi, who took out roadshows and addressed several public meetings in the State during the Assembly election campaign, had promised that the farmers’ loans would be waived within 10 days of the government’s formation. The Congress government announced loan waiver of ₹2 lakh each as its first major decision within three days after Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot assumed office on December 17.Mr. Gehlot told reporters at the Pradesh Congress Committee headquarters here on Monday that Mr. Gandhi had been invited to the State to affirm the party’s commitment to farmers’ welfare. “We fulfilled our promise made to farmers. Preparations for Lok Sabha elections have also begun… Congress will benefit from the atmosphere building up in its favour,” he said.Campaign for LS pollsAmid indications that the farmers’ rally at Vidyadhar Nagar Stadium here would be utilised to kick-start the Congress’ campaign for Lok Sabha polls in the State, the Ministers in charge of various districts have been given the responsibility to mobilise the party workers and farmers for attending the event. The main focus is on the Jaipur and Ajmer divisions.Mr. Gandhi is expected to announce the modalities and criteria for implementation of the loan waiver decision at the rally. The decision, which is set to benefit over 30 lakh farmers in the State, will result in the burden of an estimated ₹18,000 crore on the exchequer, as there will be no monetary ceiling on the short-term agricultural loans obtained from the cooperative banks.As the Congress believes that it has returned to power largely because of farmers’ support, the party leaders are likely to utilise the rally for attacking the NDA government at the Centre on the issue of farmers’ welfare.Of the three States where Congress won in the recent Assembly elections, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh announced the waiver of farmers’ short-term loans before Rajasthan.last_img read more

Invokes ESMA, bans strikes

first_imgThe Uttar Pradesh government has invoked the Essential Services Maintenance Act banning strikes in all departments and corporations under it for a period of six months. A notification to this effect was issued by Chief Secretary Anup Chandra Pandey on Monday night. The move comes in the wake of a strike call given by some government organisations from February 6 demanding old pension scheme.last_img

Unseasonal rain, dust storm lash parts of Gujarat; 10 dead

first_imgUnseasonal rain and dust storm hit several parts of Gujarat, leaving at least 10 people dead and several injured, officials said Wednesday.Rain and dust storm were reported from areas including districts in North Gujarat and Saurashtra region, on Tuesday afternoon, they said.“According to preliminary reports coming from different parts of the State, at least 10 people have lost their lives,” G.B. Manglpara, the state government’s director (Relief), told PTI on Wednesday.“Most of the deaths were reported in North Gujarat due to lightning strike and falling of trees,” he said. Also, a portion of a tent erected for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally in Himmatnagar town of North Gujarat was also damaged in the dust storm, an official earlier said. On Wednesday morning, Mr. Modi expressed anguish over the loss of lives and said the authorities are monitoring the situation very closely and all possible assistance is being given to those affected. In a tweet, the prime minister’s office said that Mr. Modi has approved an ex gratia of ₹2 lakh each from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund for the kin of those who have lost their lives.last_img read more

ScienceShot: License to Quill

first_imgWith needle-sharp quills, some longer than the average human forearm, porcupines sport one of nature’s most frightening defenses against predators. But a new study shows they can be fearsome killers as well. Researchers in Italy have found that the rodents can slay dogs, foxes, and even badgers. Scientists monitored porcupines in Tuscany for about 18 months. They identified four defenses that the animals employed, in order of increasing aggression: quill erection, tail rattling, stamping and growling, and backwards or sideways attacks. The porcupines never used the latter two in one-on-one encounters, but rather as last resorts when an individual was outnumbered, or if multiple porcupines were present and more likely to inflict serious damage. In one such case, two porcupines ran backwards, forcing a dog into their den, where they fatally impaled it with their quills. Other porcupines killed four other predators, two badgers and two foxes, over the study period; such deaths have never been previously recorded in scientific literature, the team reports in Mammalia. See more ScienceShots.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(*)last_img read more

Soaring MERS Cases Cause Pandemic Jitters, but Causes Are Unclear

first_imgA sharp increase in infections with a deadly new virus in the Middle East is alarming public health officials around the world. The rising numbers have raised fresh fears that the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) virus has adapted and is becoming more easily transmissible between humans, which could result in global spread. But preliminary research has not shown any evidence of genetic changes, and the government of Saudi Arabia, where most of the new cases occur, says the sudden upswing is mostly the result of more widespread testing.The MERS virus is related to the SARS virus, which spread around the world in 2003 and killed almost 800 people. Since MERS was discovered in 2012, there has been a steady trickle of cases, the vast majority of them in Saudi Arabia. By late March, the World Health Organization (WHO) had counted 199 cases worldwide, including 84 deaths.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(*)But in the past few weeks, the numbers have shot up. Saudi Arabia is announcing new cases almost every day, most of them in Jeddah, a city in the western part of the country. Yesterday alone, the kingdom reported 24 new cases; another 12 were reported today. (WHO is waiting for official reporting of the cases, but the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control now says the total is 333 cases, including 107 deaths.) Amid increasing worries in the public and intensifying media coverage, Saudi Arabia’s minister of health was replaced on Monday. WHO issued a press release yesterday saying it was “concerned about the rising number of cases.” “WHO urges all Member States to remain vigilant and enhance surveillance to detect any early sign that the virus has changed and has attained the possibilities of causing sustained person-to-person transmission,” the statement read.”It is really important to understand now what is going on in Jeddah,” says Marion Koopmans of Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. One possible explanation, she says, is that the lab doing the tests has a contamination problem, leading to false positives.Saudi Deputy Minister of Health Ziad Memish, an infectious disease specialist, says the explanation is quite simple. Until recently, in accordance with WHO recommendations, only patients with pneumonia who needed intensive care were tested for the MERS virus, he says. But as anxiety about MERS increased, patients with milder symptoms like fever or a cough started demanding to be tested, he says, and doctors in Jeddah have complied. “In the last 2 years we tested 20,000 people,” Memish says. “Just in the last weeks, we tested 5000 people.” As a result, more mild cases are being picked up, he says, but that does not mean MERS is about to go global.Nonetheless, studies are under way to test whether the virus has undergone genetic changes. On Friday, virologist Christian Drosten of the University of Bonn in Germany, who is collaborating with Memish, received 31 fresh samples from patients in Jeddah. The scientists isolated MERS virus RNA from all but one of the samples they received, suggesting that contamination isn’t the problem.Drosten has sequenced part of the gene for the so-called spike protein, which sits on the viral surface, from all 30 viruses. They appear to be identical to each other and to several older MERS viruses that have been sequenced. “There seems to be nothing special about this virus, at least in this region of the genome,” he says. The researchers are now sequencing the whole genome for some of the viruses and they may still find significant changes, although Drosten doubts that they will.The variety found between the 30 genomes may also give clues about what is going on. If the viral genomes from different patients are more or less identical, that suggests a new, more successful strain is breaking out; if the genomes are more diverse, the increase is more likely to be an artifact due to more testing. The fragment sequenced so far does not give a clear answer, because a number of different MERS strains are identical in that part of the genome. “But hopefully we will know in a few days,” Drosten says.Meanwhile, Drosten says a seasonal effect may also explain part of the current rise in cases. In breeding facilities across the Middle East, camels, an important reservoir for MERS, have given birth the past 2 months; scientists believe their young may become infected very early on, causing virus levels to explode and increasing the risk for humans to become exposed.Memish agrees that there seems to be some seasonality in how MERS strikes humans: The first known human cases were from a cluster in Jordan in April 2012, he says, last year in April an outbreak struck four hospitals in the Al Hasa area in Saudi Arabia, and now there is a cluster of cases in Jeddah. “It certainly seems that April and May are bad months for MERS.”last_img read more

Invasive cricket species takes over in eastern U.S. homes

first_imgThe United Nations predicts that by 2050, 90% of Americans will live in urban environments. Many animals share this habitat with humans, but their presence is not always well studied by scientists. One common household insect is the camel cricket, a harmless, spiderlike omnivorous scavenger named for its humpback. To learn the distribution of camel crickets in American homes, researchers conducted a citizen science campaign through online surveys and solicited photographs and specimens. Based on more than 2000 responses from 39 states and the District of Columbia, they found that more camel crickets lived in states east of Colorado than in western states. Among the homes surveyed, 28% of those in eastern states reported camel cricket presence, compared with 7% for those in western states. As many as 700 million camel crickets could be living in eastern U.S. homes alone, the team reports online today in PeerJ, more than the number of people there. They also found that greenhouse camel crickets, an invasive Asian species shown in the above picture, have replaced native species as the most common camel crickets in eastern homes. Biologists previously thought these crickets lived only in greenhouses, hence their nickname.last_img read more

Astronomers discover two new families of alien comets

first_imgComets whizzing beyond our solar system made a big splash last year when astronomers discovered that they could be as common as alien planets. Now, for the first time, researchers have surveyed a large population of these “exocomets” around the young star Beta Pictoris. In the process, they uncovered a tale of two comet families that might help explain how planetary systems like our own formed.“It’s a real breakthrough due to [the researchers’] dedicated monitoring of the [Beta Pictoris] system,” says astronomer Aki Roberge of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who was not involved in the study.Disks of debris spinning around young stars clump to form planets, and comets are the small, fragile leftovers from the process. Some think such icy dirtballs in our own solar system might have brought water and the carbon-based building blocks of life to early Earth. Astronomers have observed a few thousand comets in our solar system and have found 10 other comet-hosting stars. The first such star they identified is Beta Pictoris, a 23-million-year-old star in the early stage of building its planets, about 63 light-years away from our 4.6-billion-year-old solar system.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(*)Scientists want to study the behaviors of exocomets, which represent the link between fully formed planets and the debris disks, but individual comets around alien suns are too dark and small to be observed directly. So astronomer Flavien Kiefer of the Paris Institute of Astrophysics and colleagues looked for chemical signatures of the comets’ tails in the Beta Pictoris system. They analyzed images called spectra taken by the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) spectrograph, an instrument designed to search for exoplanets. The spectra display light coming from the star Beta Pictoris as a band of rainbow colors showing the amount of light in each wavelength.When comets approach their host stars, their surfaces warm up, and volatile materials such as ice start to vaporize, forming long tails of gas and debris that absorb specific colors of light from their host stars. So when an exocomet passes in front of the star Beta Pictoris, it changes the spectrum of the star observed by the HARPS instrument.After analyzing more than 1000 high-resolution spectra of Beta Pictoris collected from 2003 to 2011, the researchers found light-absorption patterns suggesting nearly 500 detections of comets around the star. In particular, the patterns point to two distinct families of comets passing in front of the star, they report online today in Nature.One family of exocomets appears to have very similar orbits, all coming in toward the star like a string of pearls. Those exocomets also produce a lot more gas than typical comets do, a peculiarity that the researchers say could indicate that they have fresh icy surfaces prolifically evaporating. That’s most likely because they are fragments of a larger icy body, say a planet, that recently broke up, the researchers suggest. A similar example would be the Kreutz family of comets in our solar system, believed to have originated from the gradual breakup of a great comet.In contrast, exocomets in the other family stray in different orbits and directions. They also appear to evaporate more slowly. That could indicate that they are older comets trapped by the gravity of planets in such a way that their icy surfaces have been depleted through evaporation, the researchers say.The discovery still doesn’t provide direct evidence of the exocomets’ existence, but it could pave the way for a better understanding of comets in distant planetary systems and our own solar system. If the “string-of-pearls” exocomets are indeed fragments of a larger body, they could help astronomers understand the composition of their massive parent, Roberge says. Typically, researchers could observe only the surface of such alien bodies but not the interior; NASA’s 2005 Deep Impact mission actually smashed a comet to study its composition. The exocomet family on Beta Pictoris, on the other hand, may provide similar evidence for free, she says.The orbits of exocomets on Beta Pictoris could also help scientists trace the presence and migration of larger, undetected bodies such as gas giant planets in the planetary system, says Russel White, an astronomer at Georgia State University in Atlanta who was not involved in the study. In our solar system, the giant planets Jupiter and Saturn were thought to have moved toward and then away from the sun during the early years of the solar system—events believed to have destabilized the entire planetary system. Such large bodies would affect the orbits of exocomets in the Beta Pictoris system, giving astronomers clues to their presence and movement.“We are now witnessing what is happening in a young planetary system … phenomena that were expected to have taken place in the solar system itself,” Kiefer says.last_img read more

Polar bears turn to seabirds for sustenance

first_imgAs Arctic sea ice melts earlier each year, polar bears in some parts of Norway and Greenland are abandoning ice floes for dry land and their favorite meal—seals—for seabird eggs. The shift in diet could sound a death knell for popular nesting grounds of barnacle geese, eider ducks, and glaucous gulls, researchers warn this month in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.Calling the results the “cascading effects of climate change,” the team of European researchers found that over the course of the past 10 years, dramatic increases in summertime nest predation correlated with diminishing sea ice coverage in the Arctic Ocean. Their research combined NASA satellite imagery with on-the-ground observations at one seabird nesting site in northeast Greenland and four in the Svalbard archipelago of Norway. “[At our site] we had the first polar bear predation in 2004,” says Jouke Prop, an ornithologist from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, who was a principal author and led observations at Nordenskiöldkysten, one of the Norwegian sites. “In most of the years since, predation has been really severe.” He has observed polar bears eating more than 200 eggs in 2 hours, and last year no chicks or eggs of any species—barnacle geese, eiders, and glaucous gulls—survived.According to Prop, several dozen of Svalbard’s polar bears have learned when and where to return each year for the best meals. Although they compose a small percentage of the total bear population, their impact is catastrophic. Prop has calculated that a hungry bear can raid 50 nests in just an hour and a half, consuming enough for a 20-kilogram omelet—before sleeping for 12 to 16 hours and then awaking for another meal. Polar bear cubs also get in on the action, rolling eggs on the ground like balls before eating them.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(*)As their hunting behavior shifts from ice to land, the polar bears “have progressively arrived earlier and earlier to have access to more eggs,” says biologist Børge Moe, another principal author of the study who works at the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research in Kongsfjorden, where seabird egg predation is just beginning to increase. At sites in southern Svalbard, bears are showing up at the nesting sites as early as mid-June. But as bears vie to be first on the scene, they will eventually arrive during the critical period when birds are just settling in, usually in early June, Prop predicts. And that may force birds to abandon their breeding colonies.“This paper ties it all together and shows a very clear relationship between the disappearance of sea ice and increasing predation intensity on seabirds,” says Andrew Derocher, a polar bear specialist and Arctic ecologist at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. In the long run, he says, the seabirds may outlast the bears. “What we’re seeing is probably a very transient effect on these seabird populations,” he says. As sea ice disappears, polar bear populations will crash harder than the seabirds.Meanwhile, the scientists are proving as adaptable as the bears. “We really had to get accustomed to this,” says Prop, a specialist in barnacle geese. When the bears started raiding the colonies he had been studying his whole life, he and other researchers were torn. Should they chase the bears off, as did another team he heard of in Canada? Or should they continue their observations, interfering with the colonies as little as possible? Eventually, they settled on the latter.“Initially the bears were destroying our main object of study—lifetime reproduction of geese. It was a blow, but then we realized bears were becoming part of our study,” Prop says. He marvels at what has happened since. “Ten years ago I would never have believed the situation we are now in, and it’s impossible to make predictions. Three or four years more, and then we are at the really critical point to see how the birds will react.”last_img read more