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Report: Lychee fruit triggered illness in Bihar village for decades

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A fruit vendor offers lychees to customers from his roadside stall in Amritsar, India.

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — Every year since 1995, a mysterious illness has swept across and plagued the little town of Muzaffarpur in Bihar, India.

Around May and June each year, scores of young children would begin showing signs of a fever. They’d have seizures and convulsions, before ultimately slipping in and out of consciousness.

Then in 2014, hundreds of children were brought to hospitals, exhibiting symptoms of an illness, branded locally as “chamki ki bimari,” or “tinsel disease.” Of the 390 children admitted for treatment, 122 died. Teams of researchers and medical experts worked exhaustively to find the cause, but had no such luck.

Until now.

According to a new report, which was published in The Lancet Global Health medical journal on Tuesday, claims to have discovered what’s been causing the deadly disease: Lychee.

Researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and India’s National Centre for Disease Control compared test results of children who had developed the mysterious illness, and children who had not. Analysis of blood and spinal fluid samples showed no signs of infection or exposure to chemicals and insecticides.

However, the majority of children who had fallen ill had eaten lychee fruit recently. Those same children were also six times more likely to visit a fruit orchard within 24 hours of falling ill, the study said.

Muzaffarpur, conveniently, happens to be India’s largest lychee farming region.

According to the report, parents said children that lived in infected villages spent most of their days eating from lychee trees, and would return home “uninterested in eating a meal.” The report said that children that fell ill were twice as likely to have skipped dinner, which, according to the researchers probably resulted in “night-time hypoglycaemia.”

The Indian government issued a statement Wednesday advising children to henceforth “minimize litchi fruit consumption” in affected areas, and eat an evening meal during the “outbreak period.”

But researchers say there are still questions about the mystery that remain unanswered. For example, while orchards surround a multitude of India’s villages, typically only one child from each village develops an illness from eating lychee. Therefore, the report said, the equation could also include a child’s individual genetics.

“The synergistic combination of litchi consumption, a missed evening meal, and other potential factors such as poor nutritional status, eating a greater number of litchis, and as yet unidentified genetic differences might be needed to produce this illness,” the study said.

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Impact commits $10M to supporting Indian American candidates

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Impact

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Indian American IMPACT, a political organization working to put Indian Americans in public office, announced a new $10 million commitment to support Indian American candidates nationwide. They also announced public interest lawyer Neil Makhija will be IMPACT’s new Executive Director. The number of Indian Americans in Congress has grown five-fold in just the past eight years.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr faced questioning by the House Judiciary Committee about the use of force against Black Lives Matter protesters in recent weeks and the Trump administration’s handling of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We’ll show the clash between Congressmember Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Barr that’s making headlines.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged YouPlus, a Silicon Valley startup, and its CEO Shaukat Shamim with defrauding investors by making false and misleading statements about the company’s finances. The complaint states Shamim told investors YouPlus earned millions of dollars in annual revenue and had more than 100 customers, including Fortune 500 companies. But the scheme dissolved when Shamim is said to have told certain investors YouPlus had earned less than $500,000 and obtained only four paying customers since the company’s 2013 inception.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Feds arrest entrepreneur Mukund Mohan for PPP fraud

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Mukund Mohan

SEATTLE (Diya TV) — U.S. attorneys arrested serial Indian American entrepreneur Mukund Mohan on charges of allegedly defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program with fake and altered documents and embezzling more than $5.5 million in COVID-19 relief funds through six shell companies. Mukund Mohan was a former Microsoft and Amazon executive and is currently the CTO of BuildDirect.

Shahid Buttar, who is running for Congress in San Francisco against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is being accused of sexual harassment by comedienne Elizabeth Croydon. Buttar said Croydon’s charges are false.

Apple manufacturer Foxconn has started building iPhone 11 units in a facility near Chennai in India. It’s the first time Apple has made one of its top-tier phones in India. India is the second-biggest smartphone market in the world, second only to China.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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India & China slowly move towards disengagement

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India

NEW DELHI (Diya TV) — India and China held virtual talks and agreed on a complete disengagement of troops along the line of control. But there remains sticking points in multiple areas along the border. India insists bilateral relations will not improve until “full peace and tranquility” are restored.

Police in Schenectady, New York are facing major scrutiny after footage was released of one of their officers applying a neck hold to 31 year old Yugeshwar Gaindarpersaud. He was treated and released, but he continues to face two charges of running away and resisting arrest. He’s accused of slashing his neighbors tire, causing $200 of damage. His attorneys are fighting to get prosecutors to drop the charges.

The UK Parliamentary Group, which visited Pakistan Administered Kashmir, and heavily criticized the Indian government for their recent constitutional change applying to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, acknowledged they received nearly $18,000 from the Pakistan Government to make the trip.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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