|3D Picture of Science-News|
Science News This week:
|In Schizophrenia Patients, Auditory Cues Sound Bigger Problems|
1) In Schizophrenia Patients, Auditory Cues Sound Bigger Problems:
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the VA San Diego Healthcare System have found that deficiencies in the neural processing of simple auditory tones can evolve into a cascade of dysfunctional information processing across wide swaths of the brain in patients with schizophrenia.
The findings are published in the current online edition of the journal Neuro image.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by disturbed thought processes and difficulty in discerning real from unreal perceptions. Common symptoms include auditory hallucinations and unfounded suspicious ideas. The disorder affects about 1 percent of the U.S. population, or roughly 3 million people.
"Impairments in the early stages of sensory information processing are associated with a constellation of abnormalities in schizophrenia patients," said Gregory Light, PhD, associate professor of psychiatry at UC San Diego and senior author of the study.
These impairments, according to Light, may explain how schizophrenia patients develop clinical symptoms such as hearing voices that others cannot hear and difficulty with cognitive tasks involving attention, learning and recalling information. "If someone's brain is unable to efficiently detect subtle changes in sounds despite normal hearing, they may not be able to automatically direct their attention and rapidly encode new information as it is being presented."
Light and colleagues used electroencephalography -- a technique that records patterns of electrical brain activity using electrodes positioned on the scalp -- on 410 schizophrenia patients and 247 nonpsychiatric comparison subjects. The researchers employed novel computational imaging approaches to deconstruct the brain dynamics that underlie two leading neurobiological markers used in schizophrenia research: mismatch negativity (MMN) and P3a event-related potentials.
In healthy volunteers, a specific pattern of EEG responses across a complex network of brain structures is elicited within a fraction of a second in response to changes in auditory tones. In patients with schizophrenia, the researchers found that this normal process is disrupted. Reduced activity in specific areas of the medial frontal lobe quickly propagated to other regions of the brain that support activation of attentional networks.
"Changes in the tone of speech convey complex information including nuances of emotional meaning and content," said Light, who is also associate director of the VISN-22 Mental Illness, Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC) at the San Diego VA Medical Center. "If a patient's brain is not processing auditory information optimally, he or she may miss out on important-but-subtle social cues and other critical information. They may not properly recognize sarcasm or humor that is carried by pitch changes in speech. This can be a major barrier to achieving better functioning in social relationships, school or job performance, and ultimately limit their overall quality of life."
In research published earlier this year, Light and colleagues established that MMN and P3a showed promise for unlocking the elusive brain and molecular dysfunctions of schizophrenia patients. "These brain-based biomarkers may eventually prove to be useful for assisting clinicians with diagnosis, guiding treatment decisions, and tracking therapeutic response over time. These measures may also predict which individuals are at risk for developing a serious mental illness and are most likely to benefit from course-altering early interventions."
According to Stephen R. Marder, MD, VISN-22 MIRECC director and a professor at UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, "this study makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of how impairments in the very early processing of sensory information in schizophrenia can explain the complex symptoms of the illness. This new knowledge may also be useful in developing better pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments for schizophrenia."
Co-authors of this study are Hidetoshi Takahashi, UCSD Department of Psychiatry and National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, Japan; Anthony J. Rissling, Kenji Kirihara, Marlena Pela, and Joyce Sprock, UCSD Department of Psychiatry; Robert Pascual-Marqui, Key Institute for Brain-Mind Research, University Hospital of Psychiatry, Switzerland; and David Braff, UCSD Schizophrenia Research Program.
|Major breakthrough in deciphering bread wheat's genetic code:|
2) Major breakthrough in deciphering bread wheat's genetic code:
Scientists, including Professor Keith Edwards and Dr Gary Barker from the University of Bristol, have unlocked key components of the genetic code of one of the world's most important crops. The first analysis of the complex and exceptionally large bread wheat genome, published today in Nature, is a major breakthrough in breeding wheat varieties that are more productive and better able to cope with disease, drought and other stresses that cause crop losses.
The identification of around 96,000 wheat genes, and insights into the links between them, lays strong foundations for accelerating wheat improvement through advanced molecular breeding and genetic engineering. The research contributes to directly improving food security by facilitating new approaches to wheat crop improvement that will accelerate the production of new wheat varieties and stimulate new research. The analysis comes just two years after UK researchers finished generating the sequence.
The project was led by Neil Hall, Mike Bevan, Keith Edwards, Klaus Mayer, from the University of Liverpool, the John Innes Centre, the University of Bristol, and the Institute of Bioinformatics and Systems Biology, Helmholtz-Zentrum, Munich, respectively, and Anthony Hall at the University of Liverpool. W. Richard McCombie at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and Jan Dvorak at the Univerisity of California, Davis, led the US contribution to the project.
The team sifted through vast amounts of DNA sequence data, effectively translating the sequence into something that scientists and plant breeders can use effectively. All of their data and analyses were freely available to users world-wide.
Professor Keith Edwards said: "Since 1980, the rate of increase in wheat yields has declined. Analysis of the wheat genome sequence data provides a new and very powerful foundation for breeding future generations of wheat more quickly and more precisely, to help address this problem."
The analysis is already being used in research funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to introduce a wider range of genetic variation into commercial cultivars and make use of wild wheat's untapped genetic reservoirs that could help improve tolerance to diseases and the effects of climate change. The wheat breeding community and seed suppliers have welcomed the research.
|Ancient Microbes Found Living Beneath the Icy Surface of Antarctic Lake|
3) Ancient Microbes Found Living Beneath the Icy Surface of Antarctic Lake:
This week a pioneering study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and co-authored by Dr. Alison Murray and Dr. Christian Fritsen of Nevada's Desert Research Institute (DRI) reveals, for the first time, a viable community of bacteria that survives and ekes out a living in a dark, salty and subfreezing environment beneath nearly 20 meters of ice in one of Antarctica's most isolated lakes.
Lake Vida, the largest of several unique lakes found in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, contains no oxygen, is mostly frozen and possesses the highest nitrous oxide levels of any natural water body on Earth. A briny liquid that is approximately six times saltier than seawater percolates throughout the icy environment that has an average temperature of minus 13.5 degrees centigrade (or 8 degrees Fahrenheit).
"This study provides a window into one of the most unique ecosystems on Earth," said Murray, the report's lead author, and molecular microbial ecologist and polar researcher for the past 17 years, who has participated in 14 expeditions to the Southern Ocean and Antarctic continent. "Our knowledge of geochemical and microbial processes in lightless icy environments, especially at subzero temperatures, has been mostly unknown up until now. This work expands our understanding of the types of life that can survive in these isolated, cryoecosystems and how different strategies may be used to exist in such challenging environments."
Despite the very cold, dark and isolated nature of the habitat, the report finds that the brine harbors a surprisingly diverse and abundant assemblage of bacteria that survive without a present-day source of energy from the sun. Previous studies of Lake Vida dating back to 1996 indicate that the brine and its' inhabitants have been isolated from outside influences for more than 3,000 years.
Murray and her co-authors and collaborators, including the project's principal investigator Dr. Peter Doran of the University of Illinois at Chicago, developed stringent protocols and specialized equipment for their 2005 and 2010 field campaigns to sample the lake brine while avoiding contaminating the pristine ecosystem.
To sample the unique environment researchers worked under secure, sterile tents on the lake's surface to keep the site and equipment clean as they drilled ice cores, collected samples of the salty brine residing in the lake ice and then assessed the chemical qualities of the water and its potential for harboring and sustaining life, in addition to describing the diversity of the organisms detected.
Geochemical analyses suggest that chemical reactions between the brine and the underlying iron-rich sediments generate nitrous oxide and molecular hydrogen. The latter, in part, may provide the energy needed to support the brine's diverse microbial life.
"It's plausible that a life-supporting energy source exists solely from the chemical reaction between anoxic salt water and the rock," explained Fritsen, a systems microbial ecologist and Research Professor in DRI's Division of Earth and Ecosystem Sciences.
"If that's the case," echoed Murray. "This gives us an entirely new framework for thinking of how life can be supported in cryoecosystems on earth and in other icy worlds of the universe."
Murray added further research is currently under way to analyze the abiotic, chemical interactions between the Lake Vida brine and the sediment, in addition to investigating the microbial community by using different genome sequencing approaches. The results could help explain the potential for life in other salty, cryogenic environments beyond Earth.
The Lake Vida brine also represents a cryoecosystem that is a suitable and accessible analog for the soils, sediments, wetlands, and lakes underlying the Antarctic ice sheet that other polar researchers are just now beginning to explore.
The sequence data has been deposited at the European Nucleotide Archive and is also available from databases in the UK and Germany.
Researchers from the European Bioinformatics Institute, Kansas State University, and the United Sates Department of Agriculture were also vital to the project's success. The research was possible thanks to major funding was form the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the EU and the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Professor Douglas Kell, BBSRC Chief Executive, said: "In the face of this year's wheat crop losses, and worries over the impact on prices for consumers, this breakthrough in our understanding of the bread wheat genome could not have come at a better time. This modern strategy is a key component to supporting food security and gives breeders the tools to produce more robust varieties with higher yields. It will help to identify the best genetic sequences for use in breeding programmes."
David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science said: "This groundbreaking research is testament to the excellence of Britain's science base and demonstrates the capability we want to build on through the agri-tech strategy currently being developed. The findings will help us feed a growing global population by speeding up the development of new varieties of wheat able to cope with the challenges faced by farmers worldwide."
|Nanobiotechnology: Versatile 3-D Nanostructures Using DNA 'Bricks|
4) Nanobiotechnology: Versatile 3-D Nanostructures Using DNA 'Bricks':
Researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have created more than 100 three-dimensional (3D) nanostructures using DNA building blocks that function like Lego® bricks -- a major advance from the two-dimensional (2D) structures the same team built a few months ago.
In effect, the advance means researchers just went from being able to build a flat wall of Legos®, to building a house. The new method, featured as a cover research article in the 30 November issue of Science, is the next step toward using DNA nanotechnologies for more sophisticated applications than ever possible before, such as "smart" medical devices that target drugs selectively to disease sites, programmable imaging probes, templates for precisely arranging inorganic materials in the manufacturing of next generation computer circuits, and more.
The nanofabrication technique, called "DNA-brick self-assembly," uses short, synthetic strands of DNA that work like interlocking Lego® bricks. It capitalizes on the ability to program DNA to form into predesigned shapes thanks to the underlying "recipe" of DNA base pairs: A (adenosine) only binds to T (thymine) and C (cytosine) only binds to G (guanine).
Earlier this year, the Wyss team reported in Nature how they could create a collection of 2D shapes by stacking one DNA brick (42 bases in length) upon another.
But there's a "twist" in the new method required to build in 3D.
The trick is to start with an even smaller DNA brick (32 bases in length), which changes the orientation of every matched-up pair of bricks to a 90 degree angle -- giving every two Legos® a 3D shape. In this way, the team can use these bricks to build "out" in addition to "up," and eventually form 3D structures, such as a 25-nanometer solid cube containing hundreds of bricks. The cube becomes a "master" DNA "molecular canvas"; in this case, the canvas was composed of 1000 so-called "voxels," which correspond to eight base-pairs and measure about 2.5 nanometers in size -- meaning this is architecture at its tiniest.
The master canvas is where the modularity comes in: by simply selecting subsets of specific DNA bricks from the large cubic structure, the team built 102 3D structures with sophisticated surface features, as well as intricate interior cavities and tunnels. "This is a simple, versatile and robust method," says Peng Yin, Ph.D., Wyss core faculty member and senior author on the study.
Another method used to build 3D structures, called DNA origami, is tougher to use to build complex shapes, Yin said, because it relies on a long "scaffold" strand of DNA that folds to interact with hundreds of shorter "staple" strands -- and each new shape requires a new scaffold routing strategy and hence new staples. In contrast, the DNA brick method does not use any scaffold strand and therefore has a modular architecture; each brick can be added or removed independently.
"We are moving at lightning speed in our ability to devise ever more powerful ways to use biocompatible DNA molecules as structural building blocks for nanotechnology, which could have great value for medicine as well as non-medical applications," says Wyss Institute Founding Director Don Ingber, M.D., Ph.D.
The research team led by Yin, who is also an assistant professor of systems biology at Harvard Medical School (HMS), included Wyss Postdoctoral Fellow Yonggang Ke, Ph.D., and Wyss Graduate Student Luvena Ong. Another contributor was Wyss Core Faculty member William Shih, Ph.D., who also holds appointments at HMS and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Three-Dimensional Structures Self-Assembled from DNA Bricks (Abstract From Science Journal) :
Luvena L. Ong1,4,
William M. Shih1,2,3,
We describe a simple and robust method to construct complex three-dimensional (3D) structures by using short synthetic DNA strands that we call “DNA bricks.” In one-step annealing reactions, bricks with hundreds of distinct sequences self-assemble into prescribed 3D shapes. Each 32-nucleotide brick is a modular component; it binds to four local neighbors and can be removed or added independently. Each 8–base pair interaction between bricks defines a voxel with dimensions of 2.5 by 2.5 by 2.7 nanometers, and a master brick collection defines a “molecular canvas” with dimensions of 10 by 10 by 10 voxels. By selecting subsets of bricks from this canvas, we constructed a panel of 102 distinct shapes exhibiting sophisticated surface features, as well as intricate interior cavities and tunnels.
Science Journal COVER Computer-generated models of three-dimensional nanostructures that were self-assembled from synthetic DNA strands called DNA bricks. A master collection defines a 1000-voxel "molecular canvas" with a 25-nanometer edge. By selecting subsets of bricks, Ke et al. constructed a panel of 102 distinct shapes with sophisticated surface features and intricate interior cavities and tunnels. These nanostructures may find applications ranging from biomedicine to nanoelectronics.
Site Link : http://www.sciencemag.org/content/338/6111/1177.short
|New Crab Species Discovered Off the Coast of Belize|
5) New Crab Species Discovered Off the Coast of Belize:
Areopaguristes tudgei. That's the name of a new species of hermit crab recently discovered on the barrier reef off the coast of Belize by Christopher Tudge, a biology professor at American University in Washington, D.C.
Tudge has been interested in biology his whole life, from boyhood trips to the beach collecting crustaceans in his native Australia, to his undergraduate and PhD work in zoology and biology at the University of Queensland. He has collected specimens all over the world, from Australia to Europe to North and South America.
Until now, he has never had a species named after him. He only found out about his namesake after reading an article about it in the journal Zootaxa. Apparently, finding out after-the-fact is standard practice in the highly formalized ritual of naming a new species.
The two crustacean taxonomists and authors of the paper who named the new crab after Tudge, Rafael Lemaitre of the Department of Invertebrate Zoology at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History and Darryl L. Felder of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette's Department of Biology Laboratory for Crustacean Research, have known Tudge since he first came to Washington in 1995 as a postdoc research fellow at the Smithsonian.
Lemaitre and Felder have been collecting specimens on the tiny Belizean island for decades and for more than 10 years, they had asked Tudge -- who specializes in the structures of crustacean reproduction and how they relate to the creatures' evolutionary history -- to join them on one of their semiannual research outings. Finally, in February 2010, Tudge joined them on a tiny island covered with hundreds of species of their favorite fauna.
It was crab heaven for a cast of crustacean guys.
"So you can take 40 steps off the island and you're on the edge of the reef, and then the back part of the reef is what they call the lagoon," Tudge recalled. "You slowly walk out into ever-increasing depths of water and it's a mixture of sand and sea grass and bits of coral, and then there's some channels. There's lots of different habitats there. Some islands are covered by mangroves. So we would visit all the different habitats that were there."
"We would collect on the reef crest, go and turn over coral boulders on the reef flat, snorkel over the sea grass beds. We pumped sand and mud to get things out of the ground. We walked into the mangroves and collected crustaceans from under the mangrove roots. We even snorkeled in the channels in the mangrove islands."
But discovering the new species was much less involved: Tudge turned over a coral boulder in an intertidal area, saw 50 or so tiny crabs scrambling around, and stuck a dozen or so specimens in a bottle before going on with his work. Only later in the lab, under the microscope, was it determined that this isolated little group of hermit crabs might be unique.
As the journal authors write: "Given this cryptic habitat and the relatively minute size of the specimens (shield length range = 1.0-3.0 mm), it is not surprising that these populations have gone unnoticed during extensive sampling programs that have previously taken place along the Barrier Reef of Belize."
Getting the Word
Tudge found out only recently found out that Areopaguristes tudgei -- a tiny hermit crab differentiated from others in its genus by such characteristics as the hairs growing on some of its appendages -- was joining the list of about 3 million known species. Lemaitre emailed him a PDF of the finished article. A note said only, "Here's a new species. What do you think?" The note had a smiley emoticon.
That's the way it works, said Tudge's colleague American University's College of Arts and Sciences, biology professor Daniel Fong. There's no warning; one day you just find out. Fong has also had species named after him, and he has discovered new ones as well.
"You go through several emotions when a species has been named after you," Fong said. "It is truly an honor, in the most formal sense of the term, that your colleagues have thought of naming a species after you. It is a very special type of recognition of your contribution to your research field by your colleagues."
Amid their exhaustive taxonomic description, complete with drawings and photographs of Areopaguristes tudgei, the journal article authors explain why they chose its name: "This species is named after our colleague Christopher C. Tudge (American University) who first noticed and collected populations of this diminutive hermit crab living under large dead coral boulders during joint field work in Carrie Bow Cay. The name also acknowledges his unique contributions to knowledge of the reproductive biology of hermit crabs.
|3D Picture of Movie-Release-This week|
Click on Movie Poster and Name to see The Trailer.
Movie Release This Week:
1) Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning:
ean-Claude Van Damme, Scott Adkins, Andrei “The Pit Bull” Arlovski and Dolph Lundgren star in Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, which ups the ante in the Universal Soldier series, giving you more hard-hitting, bloody, no-holds-barred fighting action. John (Adkins, The Expendables 2) wakes up from a coma after his wife and daughter were slaughtered in a brutal home invasion. Haunted by images of the attack, he vows to kill the man responsible, Luc Deveraux (Van Damme). While John tries to piece his reality back together, things get more complicated when he is pursued by a relentless UniSol (Arlovski). As John gets closer to Deveraux and the rouge army of genetically enhanced warriors led by back-from-the-dead leader Andrew Scott (Lundgren), John discovers more about himself and begins to call into question everything he believed to be true.
In the late Qing Dynasty, Liu (Donnie Yen) is a papermaker, leading a simple life with his wife Ayu (Tang Wei) and their two sons. Into their remote village comes Detective Xu (Takeshi Kaneshiro), who is investigating the deaths of two bandits during a robbery. Xu quickly realizes that the incident in question was no ordinary botched robbery - and his dogged inquiry threatens to dredge up the dark secrets of Liu’s buried past, threatening not only Liu and his family, but the entire village.
|Beware of Mr. Baker|
3) Beware of Mr. Baker:
Ginger Baker is the original rock ‘n roll madman junkie drummer superstar who everyone thought was dead but somehow survived 50+ years of heroin abuse, disastrous experiments and 5 marriages on 4 continents.
Born in South East London the same week the Nazis began bombing, Ginger Baker's first memory was running after a train that carried his father off to death in WWII. From his music to his life, at the expense of family and fortune, Ginger would never be left behind on the tracks again...
4)Silent Night :
A loose remake of the horror classic Silent Night, Deadly Night, the film’s stellar cast includes Malcolm McDowell (Rob Zombie’s Halloween, Easy A), Jaime King (Sin City, My Bloody Valentine 3D), Donal Logue (Shark Night 3D, Blade), Lisa Marie (Sleepy Hollow), Brendan Fehr (Final Destination, X-Men First Class), and Ellen Wong (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World).
McDowell and King star as a small-town sheriff and deputy on the hunt for a murderous Santa Claus terrorizing their community on Christmas Eve. But with the streets full of Santas for the annual Christmas parade, the killer is hiding in plain sight. He’s made his list, checked it twice, and the naughty are going to pay with their lives.
5) Talaash :
A cop, a housewife and a prostitute get entangled in a mystery that links their lives in unexpected ways.
Following the suspicious death of a popular film star who plunged into the waters in his car, Inspector Shekhawat investigates in order to determine whether it was an accident, or a crime. To find the truth in this complex case, he will be forced to confront his past.
|3D Picture of Political News|
Political News of This Week:
1) Akhilesh Yadav Government wants to withdraw charges against 15 terror accused:
The UP government plans to drop terrorism charges in 'public interest' against 15 under-trials accused of killing 43 people in all.
Three days ago, the Allahabad high court had slammed the UP government for its attempt to withdraw prosecution against a Muslim cleric named Waliullah and his associate Shameem, who were charge-sheeted for the Varanasi blast in 2006 that left 21 people dead.
The trial court's judgment against Waliullah has been reserved and the HC said it should be left to the judiciary to determine if the accused was guilty of terrorism.
However, keen to fulfill its pre-poll promise of withdrawing 'false cases' against Muslims, the UP government plans to drop charges against 13 more terror accused, including four men arrested in 2002, under Pota, for leaking information about troop movement during the Kargil war, five terrorists charge-sheeted for involvement in the attack on the CRPF camp in Rampur in 2008, and four men arrested for being behind the serial blasts in court premises in Lucknow, Faizabad and Varanasi in 2007, as well as a blast in Gorakhpur in 2007.
The UP government has written a 13-point letter to the respective district administrations in whose jurisdiction these people were booked - asking the district magistrate, superintendent of police and government prosecuting officer in each case if the charges can be dropped in 'public interest'.
UP special secretary Rajendra Kumar wrote to the district magistrate of Varanasi on October 31, and to DMs of Barabanki and Rampur on September 3, asking for their opinion on withdrawing the cases.
"Furnish details on the evidence against the accused as per the case diaries and give your opinion on the withdrawal of cases against them," the letter said.
The UP government is backing its step based on a report submitted this September by retired district judge RD Nimesh, regarding the four arrests made for the 2007 court blasts, which killed 14 people.
The Mayawati government had in 2008 initiated a judicial inquiry into arrests of Mohammad Tariq Kajmi of Rani ki Sarai village in Sarai Meer police station area of Azamgarh, Mohammad Khalid Mujahid of Madiyahun area of Jaunpur district from Barabanki and Sajjad and Tariq Hussain, both belonging to J&K.
Mohammad Tariq was also accused of a blast in Gorakhpur in 2007.
The report raised strong doubts on the involvement of the said four men in the court blasts.
Khalid Mujahid's family in fact deposed before the retired judge, giving evidence that he was present in Jamia Tul-Sahait madrasa in Jaunpur district, where he was teacher, on November 23, 2007, as per the attendance register, while police accused him of bombing the Lucknow court premises that day.
Khalid's signatures were also found on notebooks of 50 children studying there.
Then there is the case of four men from Rampur in UP - Javed, Taj Mohammad, Mahsood and Mumtaz Mian - arrested by the UP special task force in 2002 under Pota, for leaking classified military information to Pakistan during the Kargil War.
The police charge sheeted them on February 2, 2003, saying they had sent details by fax to ISI in Pak of Indian Army's movement from Bareilly and Meerut to Kashmir during the war
2) Kargil martyr Saurabh Kalia's torture: Violations by Pakistan unacceptable, says government:
The father of Kargil martyr Captain Saurabh Kalia, who was made captive and subjected to brutal torture by the Pakistan Army in 1999, has moved the Supreme Court seeking its direction to the Union Government to take up his son's case at the International Court of Justice.
In his petition to the Supreme Court, Dr. NK Kalia, a retired scientist, has asked the Indian Government to get Pakistan to apologise for the incident, alleging that the latter violated all norms of the Geneva Convention that charts out protocols for treatment meted out of prisoners of war.
While terming the violations as "completely unacceptable", the government said that it would do "whatever is possible" in the case. "Whatever is possible would be done but I do not want to give you a commitment now of any nature of what is possible or what is being done...This is a matter we have taken up at the highest level over the years and we have not yet been able to get adequate stands of the matter being addressed, that is absolutely true," said External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.
The Kalias have been waging a lonely battle for justice for their son, who was a victim of war atrocities.
Captain Kalia, of the 4 Jat Regiment, was the first army officer to report the incursion by the Pakistani Army on Indian soil. He along with five soldiers - sepoys Arjun Ram, Bhanwar Lal Bagaria, Bhika Ram, Moola Ram and Naresh Singh - were on a patrol of the Bajrang Post in the Kaksar sector of Jammu and Kashmir when they were taken captive by Pakistani troops May 15, 1999.
They were tortured for weeks before being killed. Their mutilated bodies were handed over to the Indian authorities on June 9 that year.
The elderly couple, settled in his tea garden town, about 120 km from the state capital Shimla, wants the Indian government to highlight the atrocities committed by the Pakistani Army internationally.
British lawyer of Indian origin Jas Uppal, who has launched an international campaign to highlight the plight of Saurabh and five other soldiers, has been helping the Kalias to petition the Supreme Court.
She has been demanding the blacklisting of Pakistan for the purpose of giving international aid.
India and Pakistan fought a limited war over the icy heights of Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir in May-July 1999. India took back all the positions that had been occupied by the Pakistani Army.
India lost 527 soldiers and Pakistan upwards of 700 men.
|Confident Modi says 'Congress will break all records of defeat'|
3) Confident Modi says 'Congress will break all records of defeat':
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday launched a frontal attack on the Congress Party ahead of the assembly polls, and said that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would emerge victorious by winning maximum number of seats as well as votes in the state.
"In the last 50 years, the Congress has faced defeat in elections and this time too they will face a defeat, which will be much bigger in magnitude. All the records of the margin of defeat will be broken. The Bharatiya Janata Party will emerge victorious by winning maximum number of seats as well as votes in Gujarat," he said.
Modi further said that the people of Gujarat have already taken away the mandate from the Congress Party.
"If a 12 year boy snatches away the mandate from a Congress leader then it implies that six crore people of Gujarat have already snatched away the mandate of Congress and they have pushed the Congress party into the well of defeat," he added.
According to reports, Congress candidate for Visavadar, Ratibhai Mangroliya, had claimed that a 12-year-old allegedly stole his mandate while he was on his way to file his nomination papers.
Modi, who is looking at a third consecutive term at the helm in Gujarat, began his final round of campaign for the upcoming state assembly polls from Somnath today.
Modi, who is looking at a third consecutive term at the helm in Gujarat, is expected to tour six places in Saurashtra and southern Gujarat in the final leg of his campaign.
Modi, who is contesting from Ahmedabad's Maninagar seat, will lock horns with Congress candidate Shweta Bhatt.
Shweta Bhatt is the wife of suspended IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, who is best known for alleging that the chief minister had asked the state police to go slow against rioters in the 2002 Gujarat riots.
Maninagar is a Modi stronghold and he has held this seat since 2002. In 2007, he defeated the Congress candidate by around 75,000 votes in 2007.
Today is the last day for filing nominations for the second phase of the state assembly polls, which will be held on December 17. The second phase election will be held for 95 seats spread across 12 districts of the state.
Gujarat will go to the polls in two phases on December 13 and 17. The counting of votes will take place on December 20.
|Opposition boycott, protests hit Kuwaiti election|
4) Opposition boycott, protests hit Kuwaiti election:
Kuwaitis voted on Saturday in a parliamentary election overshadowed by an opposition boycott, protests over a change to the polling rules and a festering political crisis in the U.S.-allied oil producer.
The election is the second this year in the Gulf Arab state, where a series of assemblies have collapsed under the weight of a power struggle between MPs and the cabinet, appointed by the prime minister who is chosen by the ruling emir.
Tens of thousands of Kuwaitis marched on Friday, urging people not to vote in protest at a change to electoral rules they say will skew the outcome in favour of pro-government candidates.
Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah used emergency powers in October to cut the number of votes per citizen to one from four, saying his decree would fix a flawed system and maintain security and stability.
The opposition, which is made up of Islamist, tribal and liberal lawmakers, as well as youth groups, says the new voting rules are an attempt to skew the parliamentary election in favour of pro-government candidates.
"There is a need for the decree to take the country out of the crisis are in," 51-year-old government worker Khaled Nouri said after voting in an upmarket district south of the capital.
"The wheel of development must continue to turn."
Opposition figures have refused to stand because of the voting rules change ordered by the emir, whose family has ruled for 250 years and dominates the cabinet.
|Inder Gujral cremated with full state honours|
5) Inder Gujral cremated with full state honours:
Former prime minister Inder Kumar Gujral was Saturday cremated here with full state honours in the presence of the country's top leadership, including President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Gujral's body, draped in the national tricolour, was brought to Smriti Sthal on the banks of the Yamuna from his 5 Janpath residence in a flower bedecked gun-carriage accompanied by military personnel and close family. Officers from the three armed forces carried the mortal remains of Gujral on their shoulders to the cremation ground as he was accorded a state funeral.
Smriti Sthal, where the cremation took place, is located between Jawaharlal Nehru's samadhi Shanti Van and Lal Bahadur Shastri's samadhi Vijay Ghat.
Amid prayers and a 21-gun salute, Gujral's pyre was lit by his elder son, Akali Dal MP Naresh Gujral. Naresh was assisted by his brother, Vishal.
Besides the president and the prime minister, Vice President Hamid Ansari, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Defence Minister A.K. Antony, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, Law Minister Ashwani Kumar, Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah, Minister for Science and Technology Jaipal Reddy, BJP leaders L.K. Advani and Arun Jaitley, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, INLD chief Om Prakash Chautala, LJP's Ramvilas Paswan, JD-S' Danish Ali and Amar Singh were present.
Diplomats from various countries, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Singapore and Russia were also present.
Gujral, 92, breathed his last at a private hospital in Gurgaon Friday afternoon.
He is survived by two sons, Naresh and Vishal, and brother Satish Gujral, a prominent painter and architect.
His wife Sheila died in 2011.
Earlier in the day, the prime minister and a host of leaders visited Gujral's residence to pay homage to him.
In his message, Manmohan Singh said, "In the sad demise of Gujral, our country has lost a freedom fighter, a great patriot and a great scholar statesman. I join the nation in expressing our grief and sorrow at the demise of great son of India."
|Lok Sabha back in business; approves changes in money laundering bill|
6) LS back in business; approves changes in money laundering bill:
Ater four days of logjam on the FDI issue, Lok Sabha was back in business on Thursday approving a bill to enlarge the definition of money laundering offences. The bill, piloted by Finance Minister P Chidambaram, sought to include activities like cheating, concealment, acquisition and use of proceeds of crime as criminal activities for the purpose of Money Laundering.
Replying to discussion on the Prevention of Money Laundering (Amendment) Bill, 2011, Chidambaram said the changes in law would give signal to the international community about India's commitment to deal with the offences having wide international ramifications.
The bill was later approved by voice vote. The amendments, Chidambaram explained, sought to enlarge the definition of predicate offences of money laundering and include activities which are defined as crime under various other laws.
The list of offences would include concealment, acquisition, possession and use of proceeds of crime as criminal activities. It also seeks to remove existing limit of Rs 5 lakh as fine under the Act.
Responding to queries on black money, Chidambaram said, "We are taking action...every single piece of information (received from France and other countries) is being investigated" and more action would be taken.
As regards the Money Laundering Law, he said, 37 cases of prosecution have been launched but no one has been either convicted or acquitted.
The amendment bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in December, 2011 by then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance.
Chidambaram said the government had accepted all the 18 recommendations made by the panel and termed it as an indicator of consensus between government and the opposition on the issue.
The amendments, the Minister said, would also help the Centre bring the anti-money laundering legislation on par with international standards and obviate some of the deficiencies in the present Act that have been experienced by the implementing agencies.
"Parliament has improved upon the law in 2005, after bringing it in 2002, and then again in 2009 and once again in 2012," Chidambaram said.
The proposed amendments also seek to introduce the concept of 'corresponding law' to link the provisions of Indian law with the laws of foreign countries.
Replying to issues raised by members, Chidambaram said blackmoney was a different issue while the money laundering law deals with the proceeds of crime which are defined in the statute. "We need to have a separate discussion on blackmoney," Chidambaram said.
The Minister also said that government was initiating steps to fill vacancies in the Enforcement Directorate to strengthen it to deal with the menace of blackmoney.
The government plans to induct 1,319 additional officers in the Enforcement Directorate to increase the strength to 2,064.
The treasury benches voted out the provisions in the Amendment Bill regarding appointment of sitting or retired judges of Supreme Court or Chief Justice of High Court as Chairman of the Appellate Tribunal to be set up under the Money Laundering law.
The government is finding it difficult to procure services of senior judges, Chidambaram said explaining the reasons behind voting out the clause which was proposed in the Amendment Bill.
He said the appeal against the decision of the Tribunal would be entertained by the High Court and not directly by the Supreme Court.
The Minister explained that offences under the Customs Act would also be covered by the Money Laundering law. He said this in response to a question whether over-invoicing or under-invoicing would be a punishable offence under the Money Laundering Act.
The Bill also provides for attachment and confiscation of the proceeds of crime even if there is no conviction so long as it is proved that offence of money laundering has taken place and property in question is involved in money-laundering.
Earlier, initiating the debate, Nishikant Dubey (BJP) sought to attack the Congress and the government on the issue of blackmoney stashed away in Swiss bank accounts.
He claimed that despite the name of a sitting MP from the treasury benches in the list of Indians allegedly having Swiss bank accounts coming out, the government has not made a statement and asked Chidambaram to clarify.
Sanjay Nirupam (Cong) sought to turn the tables on the BJP by demanding that corruption be added in the bill. In an oblique reference to a top BJP leader, he said a minister may favour a contractor using his position and later himself open a company which may get funds from the same contractor as a return favour.
Those who participated in the discussion included B Mahtab (BJD), Saugata Roy (TMC), Saidul Haque (CPI-M), M Thambidurai (AIADMK) and Raghuvansh Prasad Singh (RJD).
|Ponty Chadha murder case: Cops suspect income tax raid link|
1) Ponty Chadha murder case: Cops suspect income tax raid link:
New leads in the Ponty Chadha shootout case point to a deep conspiracy, possibly linked to the tax raids at the liquor baron's properties early this year, sources told TOI on Friday. A day after crime branch booked Sukhdev Singh Namdhari for murdering Ponty's brother Hardeep in a shootout at the Chadhas' Chhatarpur farmhouse on November 17, investigators said he may have set up the brothers.
Namdhari, sacked chief of Uttarakhand's minorities commission, was with Ponty at the time of the shootout.
"The questioning of Namdhari, his gunman Sachin Tyagi and Ponty's security manager Narender Ahlawat points to the possibility of Namdhari creating circumstances for a hostile encounter between the Chadha brothers," a source said.
Trying to connect the dots of the mystery, sleuths are looking for a link between the shootout and income tax raids at two of Ponty's properties — Centerstage Mall and a Chhatarpur farmhouse — in February this year. They suspect the raids may have proved a turning point in Ponty's relationship with Namdhari, who was living in the businessman's shadow.
It was alleged after the tax raids that Ponty was tipped off by a contact in the IT department. No cash was found, causing acute embarrassment to the tax sleuths. However, police sources suspect the alleged stash of Rs 200 crore was handed over to Namdhari for safekeeping. Ponty is also suspected to have made large real estate deals in Namdhari's name, including a 50-acre purchase in Uttarakhand. Police now want to find out whether the thought of having to return the cash and properties to Ponty made Namdhari plot against him.
The crime branch, however, has refused to come on record on these theories. "All I can say at this stage is that Namdhari did not call his brother, son and more than three dozen men to Ponty's farmhouse on November 17 just to occupy it by force. We have received information that he did not return Ponty's cash hoard, but we did not find the money at his farmhouse. We will draw a conclusion only when we have documentary evidence," an officer said on condition of anonymity.
A senior unnamed bureaucrat, who was questioned during the raids, is also suspected to be sitting on a part of Ponty's alleged hoard. Namdhari's son Surinder and maternal uncle Hardayal, who are wanted for questioning, remain untraceable.
"We suspect Namdhari provoked Ponty to seize the Chhatarpur farmhouse. That's why he came to Delhi three days before the shootout and arranged the logistics for the November 17 raid. Such elaborate arrangements definitely hint at a bigger conspiracy. He would have known that this brazen act of occupying the two farmhouses, which were part of a Rs 1,500 crore separation deal between the brothers, would enrage Hardeep to the point of taking up arms. He also knew that Hardeep would be accompanied by his men, so he had an army in place," said a source.
Police are waiting for ballistic and forensic reports to ascertain whether bullets fired by Namdhari and his gunman hit Ponty also. "If this is confirmed, getting the truth out of Namdhari won't be difficult as he will have no defence left. So far, he has been evasive in his replies," a senior crime branch officer said.
|Is Manisha Koirala suffering from cancer?|
2) Is Manisha Koirala suffering from cancer?
"Manisha Koirala was admitted to our hospital yesterday," Jaslok Hospital spokesperson Krishnakant Dasyam told agencies.
|3D Picture of Sports News|
Sports News This Week:
|Dalmiya downplays Eden pitch controversy, says Prabir will continue to be curator|
1) Dalmiya downplays Eden pitch controversy, says Prabir will continue to be curator:
Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) president Jagmohan Dalmiya on Saturday rubbished all controversies surrounding the Eden Gardens pitch, and said veteran curator Prabir Mukherjee has gone on leave as he is not well.
"He will continue to be the curator and we are going ahead with the work. The work for the Test won't be affected. I haven't received any letter from him and if I get a letter it is a private matter between the curator and president. I had asked him to take rest because he is not well," said Dalmiya while emphasizing that all was well.
"I called him because I wanted to have a discussion with him. I have asked him not to speak to avoid confusion. We will inform the media if there is any development," he added.
Earlier this morning Mukherjee had lashed out at the CAB and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for the treatment meted out to him and had gone on a month-long sick leave after being sidelined as the chief curator just before the third Test between India and England at Eden gardens.
Mukherjee's decision came after he was apparently sidelined for refusing to prepare a rank turner for the match as requested by Indian captain M.S.Dhoni.
Mukhejee, who has been preparing the pitch of the stadium since 1985, had sent a letter to CAB this morning and sought a medical leave for a month. He also hinted that he might not rejoin the association
|South African quicks finally fire in Perth|
2) South African quicks finally fire in Perth:
South Africa's much celebrated pace attack finally fired on the second day of the third test against Australia on Saturday to wrest the momentum away from the hosts for the first time since the opening days of the series.
The Proteas were forced to bat out the final day to save draws in both the Brisbane and Adelaide tests, setting up a Perth showdown with both the series and the top test ranking on the line.
The bowling of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel had played a key role in the series triumph in England that earned them the number one spot in the rankings but on bat-friendly tracks, they had disappointed.
On Saturday, they faced an Australia side charged with confidence after dismissing the tourists for 225 and resuming on 33 for two with high hopes of building a big first-innings lead.
Instead, Steyn (4-40) terrorised the Australians in a brutal spell of fast bowling and took the wickets of opener David Warner, nightwatchman Nathan Lyon and skipper Michael Clarke at the cost of just four runs in the first 40 minutes.
"He's the number one bowler in the world for a reason," said Philander, who chipped in with the dismissal of Ricky Ponting and ended up with figures of two for 55.
"When you bowl on the other side from him it is special and just to bowl the new ball with him is special. The way he can deliver on big moments is unbelievable."
Philander, a late bloomer in test cricket who now ranks third in the ICC bowling rankings, said the conditions and the batting disappointment on Friday had helped transform the fortunes of the bowling unit.
"The wicket has a bit more bounce and the guys have to play a bit more off the back foot, which is good for us because it's similar to the wickets we have back home," he added.
"We knew we had to get 20 wickets to win this game, we didn't bat so well in the first innings which left us a few runs short.
"The bowlers knew they had to step up and bowl them out cheaply. And obviously with Steyn this morning, it was a pleasure to be bowling from the other side."
With a lead of 292 going into the third day, South Africa's number one ranking and their record of not having lost an away test series since 2006 look safe.
Perhaps mindful that the Proteas chased down 414 to win the Perth test four years ago, Philander said they would aim to leave nothing to chance and he was not expecting to be bowling again any time soon.
"There's plenty of time left in the test and we'd obviously like to get as many runs as possible," he concluded. "Tomorrow's a new day and will pose a lot of new challenges, but hopefully we can get another 200-250 runs."
|AC Milan fight back to beat 10-man Catania|
3) AC Milan fight back to beat 10-man Catania:
AC Milan recovered from a goal down to win 3-1 at 10-man Catania thanks to a second-half double from Stephan El Shaarawy and a strike by Kevin-Prince Boateng who was sent off near the end of a lively Serie A clash on Friday.
The win, which was Milan's third in a row including the 3-1 defeat of Anderlecht in the Champions League earlier this month, moved them up to seventh place on 21 points, 11 adrift of leaders Juventus who host Torino in the Turin derby on Saturday.
However it was not without controversy as El Shaarawy's equaliser was scored from an offside position, punishing a Catania side who have already suffered bad decisions in their matches with Inter Milan and Juventus this season.
"We're happy with the three points. We're just going our own way and looking to move up the table," said Italy striker El Shaarawy. "We're only thinking about that, so let's hope we carry on in the same way."
Catania, who stay ninth with 19 points from 15 games, took a deserved lead in the 10th minute through ex-Milan defender Nicola Legrottaglie, who thumped a header past Marco Amelia from a Francesco Lodi corner.
Massimiliano Allegri's Milan side huffed and puffed through a scrappy first half but did not create one decent chance. Had his shaky defence faced a more incisive attack, Milan could easily have conceded more goals.
One goalmouth scramble just after the half-hour mark saw the jittery Milan defence haphazardly pinging the ball around their own box under little pressure from any Catania players.
|NBA - Spurs fined $250,000 for resting top players|
4) NBA - Spurs fined $250,000 for resting top players:
The San Antonio Spurs were fined $250,000 on Friday for sending top players home before a nationally televised game against the Miami Heat, the National Basketball Association said on Friday.
The Spurs, who have one of the oldest rosters in the league, sent four of their top players home to rest before Thursday's game, which was the final game of a six-game road trip for San Antonio and their fourth game in five nights.
"The Spurs decided to make four of their top players unavailable for an early-season game that was the team's only regular-season visit to Miami," NBA Commissioner David Stern said in a statement.
"The team also did this without informing the Heat, the media, or the league office in a timely way. Under these circumstances, I have concluded that the Spurs did a disservice to the league and our fans."
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich decided to send Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Danny Green home rather than inserting them into the lineup against the defending NBA champion Heat.
Despite missing the top players, the Spurs nearly shocked the Heat, leading 98-93 with about two minutes to play, before Miami's big guns led the team to a 105-100 victory.
The fine was not a surprise as Stern sent out a statement late on Thursday apologizing to NBA fans for Popovich's decision and promising "substantial sanctions."
San Antonio's next game is at home on Saturday against the Memphis Grizzlies.
|McDowell heads for finish line at World Challenge|
5) McDowell heads for finish line at World Challenge:
Perhaps it was no coincidence that Graeme McDowell finally had a good night of sleep and then put together the best round at Sherwood Country Club, giving him a three-shot lead going into the weekend.
Two weeks in China. A five-day holiday in Dubai. A tournament in Australia. Back to Dubai. One night at his new house in Florida. Then on to California.
One reason McDowell feels so relaxed against an 18-man field at the World Challenge is that he can see the finish line.
"Looking forward to hanging the clubs up for a few weeks for sure," he said.
Suddenly, there is a little bit of work left for him. He birdied the opening three holes Friday and finished strong for a 6-under 66, giving him a three-shot lead over Bo Van Pelt (68), Keegan Bradley (69) and Jim Furyk (69). Tournament host and defending champion Tiger Woods had a 69 and was four shots behind.
McDowell has done a lot right this year, except for win. He now has one last chance to fix that.
He played in the final group in back-to-back majors, the U.S. Open and British Open, without winning. He was on the winning Ryder Cup team again, only he concedes his game wasn't there and he earned only one point.
"I would love to compete and play well this weekend, really to kind of put a little icing on what's been a mediocre year," McDowell said. "Despite the fact that I feel like I've played some decent golf this year, I really don't have a lot to show for myself, and this would be a nice way to finish."
McDowell was at 9-under 135.
Even though McDowell's win at Sherwood in 2010 capped a dream season — his U.S. Open title, the clinching point at the Ryder Cup — it was a runner-up finish in 2009 that set up all those spoils. He was a last-minute replacement for Woods, who didn't play as his personal life unraveled, and McDowell finished second. It was the first year the tournament received ranking points, and McDowell earned enough to get into the Masters and eventually the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, which he won.
That U.S. Open title assured him of being in the Ryder Cup, where he holed a 15-foot birdie putt on the 16th hole that carried Europe to a big win.