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Saturday, 22 December 2012

Subhaditya News Channel Presents Science, Political, Movie Release, Sports and Other News This Week (24)

Subhaditya NewsWeek 24

3D Picture of Science News

Science News This Week :

UGA researchers find algal ancestor is key to how deadly pathogens proliferate

1) UGA researchers find algal ancestor is key to how deadly pathogens proliferate:

Long ago, when life on Earth was in its infancy, a group of small single-celled algae propelled themselves through the vast prehistoric ocean by beating whip like tails called flagella. It's a relatively unremarkable tale, except that now, more than 800 million years later, these organisms have evolved into parasites that threaten human health, and their algal past in the ocean may be the key to stopping them.

The organisms are called apicomplexa, but people know them better as the parasites that cause malaria and toxoplasmosis, serious diseases that infect millions of people every year, particularly in the developing world.Now, researchers at the University of Georgia have discovered how an important structure inside these parasitic cells, which evolved from the algal ancestor millions of years ago, allows the cells to replicate and spread inside their hosts. Their research may soon lead to new therapies to halt these deadly pathogens before they cause disease.In order to survive, the parasitic apicomplexa must invade an animal or human and force its way into the cells of its host. Once inside the host cell, the parasite begins to replicate into numerous daughter cells that in turn create additional copies, spreading the infection throughout the body.

In their study, published Dec. 11 in PLoS Biology, the researchers demonstrate that, during the process of replication, the parasite cell loads genetic material into its daughter cells via a strand of fiber that connects the two. By altering the genes for the components of the fiber in the laboratory, the researchers discovered that they could prevent parasite replication, making the parasite essentially harmless."These altered parasites can initially infect cells, but once we turn off the fiber genes, they cannot create new daughter cells and spread," said Maria Francia, lead author and doctoral candidate in the department of cellular biology. "Since it cannot replicate, the parasite eventually dies without causing serious harm."This replication fiber appears to have evolved from the flagellum that ancient algae used to swim."This was a surprising finding," said Boris Striepen, a Georgia Research Alliance Distinguished Investigator in UGA's Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases. "These parasites no longer use flagella to swim, but they have apparently repurposed this machinery to now organize the assembly of an invasive cell."During evolution, flagella have been reengineered to serve numerous different functions in animals, including the sensors that allow us to see and smell. This study suggests that in these parasites structures used to invade host cells may be also derived from flagella.Current treatments for diseases like malaria are threatened by the parasite becoming resistant to the drugs, so the need for new therapies is always pressing.

This algae-based connective fiber may serve as a promising target for anti-parasitic drug development, said Striepen, who is also a cellular biologist in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. He cautions, however, that more work must be done to learn how to manipulate or destroy the fiber in parasites that have infected humans or animals.But both Striepen and Francia argue that scientists do well to pay close attention to the evolutionary history of the organisms they study.

"It is extremely important to understand the evolution of different organisms, but especially the evolution of pathogens," Striepen said. "The analysis of their evolution produces important opportunities to develop treatments, but it also helps us understand the basic structure of the pathogens that we must fight."

On-Demand Synaptic Electronics: Circuits That Learn and Forget

2) On-Demand Synaptic Electronics: Circuits That Learn and Forget:

Researchers in Japan and the US propose a nanoionic device with a range of neuromorphic and electrical multifunctions that may allow the fabrication of on-demand configurable circuits, analog memories and digital-neural fused networks in one device architecture.

Synaptic devices that mimic the learning and memory processes in living organisms are attracting avid interest as an alternative to standard computing elements that may help extend Moore's law beyond current physical limits.However so far artificial synaptic systems have been hampered by complex fabrication requirements and limitations in the learning and memory functions they mimic. Now Rui Yang, Kazuya Terabe and colleagues at the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan and the University of California, Los Angeles, in the US have developed two-, three-terminal WO3-x-based nanoionic devices capable of a broad range of neuromorphic and electrical functions.

In its initial pristine condition the system has very high resistance values. Sweeping both negative and positive voltages across the system decreases this resistance nonlinearly, but it soon returns to its original state indicating a volatile state. Applying either positive or negative pulses at the top electrode introduces a soft-breakdown, after which sweeping both negative and positive voltages leads to non-volatile states that exhibit bipolar resistance and rectification for longer periods of time.The researchers draw similarities between the device properties -- volatile and non-volatile states and the current fading process following positive voltage pulses -- with models for neural behaviour -- that is, short- and long-term memory and forgetting processes. They explain the behaviour as the result of oxygen ions migrating within the device in response to the voltage sweeps. Accumulation of the oxygen ions at the electrode leads to Schottky-like potential barriers and the resulting changes in resistance and rectifying characteristics. The stable bipolar switching behaviour at the Pt/WO3-x interface is attributed to the formation of the electric conductive filament and oxygen absorbability of the Pt electrode.As the researchers conclude, "These capabilities open a new avenue for circuits, analog memories, and artificially fused digital neural networks using on-demand programming by input pulse polarity, magnitude, and repetition history."

Black Piranha, Megapiranha Have Most Powerful Bites of Fish Living or Extinct, Researcher Finds

3) Black Piranha, Megapiranha Have Most Powerful Bites of Fish Living or Extinct, Researcher Finds:

The black piranha and the extinct giant piranha, or megapiranha, have the most powerful bites of carnivorous fishes, living or extinct, once body size is taken into account, find researchers in a paper recently published in Scientific Reports. The research paper, "Mega-Bites: Extreme jaw forces of living and extinct piranhas," highlights the piranhas' specialized jaw morphology, which allows them to attack and bite chunks out of much larger prey.

Guillermo Ortí, the George Washington University Louis Weintraub Professor of Biology in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, is one of the authors of the paper. His research focuses on the evolution of fishes in general, but specializes on Amazonian fishes, to unravel evolutionary relationships based on DNA sequence data. In 2010, Dr. Orti along with other researchers participated in an expedition to the Xingu and Iriri rivers in Amazonia to collect the data on the fish.
Piranhas' aggressive nature, relatively small size and accessible populations make them a suitable group of predatory vertebrates in which to study the evolution of extreme biting capabilities. Even at their small body sizes, diet studies indicate that piranhas will attack and bite chunks of bony fins and flesh from prey many times larger than themselves.In spite of their reputation, no quantitative data or empirical estimates regarding the piranhas biting abilities were available.The paper reports the first bite-force measurements taken from wild specimens of the largest species of carnivorous piranha in the Amazon, the black piranha, and describes the underlying functional morphology of the jaws that allows this creature to bite with a force more than 30 times greater than its weight. The powerful bite is achieved primarily due to the large muscle mass of the black piranha's jaw and the efficient transmission of its large contractile forces through a highly modified jaw-closing lever.

The expedition was organized and filmed by National Geographic. A subsequent program called Megapiranha aired on the National Geographic Channel featured the expedition and focused on the creature that existed millions of years ago.

"It was very exciting to participate in this project, travel one more time to the Amazon to be able to directly measure bite forces in the wild," said Dr. Orti. "I learned a lot of biomechanics from my colleagues while collecting valuable specimens for my own research."The authors also reconstructed the bite force of the megapiranha, showing that for its relatively diminutive body size, the bite of this fossil piranha dwarfed that of other extinct mega-predators, including the whale-eating shark and the Devonian placoderm. Research at the Ortí lab at GW continues to focus on reconstructing the genealogical tree of fishes including piranhas based on genomic data.Scientific Reports is a primary research publication from the publishers of Nature, covering all areas of the natural sciences.

 Extinct Marsupial Lion Tops African Lion In Fight To Death:

4) Extinct Marsupial Lion Tops African Lion In Fight To Death:

Pound for pound, Australia's extinct marsupial lion (Thylacoleo carnifex) would have made mince meat of today's African lion (Panthera leo) had the two big hyper-carnivores ever squared off in a fight to the death, according to an Australian scientist. New research published in the Journal of Zoology suggests that Thylacoleo killed prey rapidly, using its "bolt-cutter" type teeth to scissor through hide and flesh to produce major trauma and blood loss.

By contrast, African lions and similar big cats of today use their bite force to suffocate prey, using a "clamp and hold" technique that can take up to 15 minutes with large prey such as Cape buffalo."My results suggest that the marsupial lion employed a unique killing technique," says research author Stephen Wroe. "It used its massive carnassial cheekteeth to effect major trauma and a rapid kill. Unlike any living mammalian carnivores, the marsupial's carnassials were not only butchery tools but also active components in the killing process."

Using a sophisticated computer modelling method [finite element (FE) analysis], that renders dynamic 3D models based on CT scans of the marsupial's cranial mechanics and musculoskeletal architecture, Wroe has revealed that the creature's skull, jaw, and head and neck muscles were well adapted to using the unique technique for killing large prey, but not for delivering the prolonged suffocating bite of living big cats.

"The marsupial lion also had an extremely efficient bite," Wroe says. "In addition to very powerful jaw muscles for its size, its muscle and skull architecture were arranged in such a way as to take greater advantage of leverage than in living cats."

Wroe, who has published findings about bite force in other hypercarnivores, such as great white sharks and sabre tooth tigers, believes there is now no doubt that Australia's marsupial lion was a fearsome predator that punched well above its weight.

"Certainly, T carnifex was seriously over-engineered for dispatching small prey. These new findings support the conclusion that the creature regularly preyed on relatively large species and was able to effect quick kills and withstand large forces generated by large struggling prey.
"Hypothetically, had a large marsupial lion ever come face to face with an African lion of similar size, it could have use its deadly cheek teeth and incredibly powerful arms to inflict mortal wounds on the mammal," Wroe says. "Had it not become extinct, it might now hold top spot over toady's 'king of the jungle.'"

Canadian Experiment to Track Space Radiation and Its Risks:

5) Canadian Experiment to Track Space Radiation and Its Risks:

Space can be a potentially hazardous environment to live and work in, especially when it comes to radiation. Originating from violent storms on the Sun and galactic cosmic rays produced in distant supernovae explosions, this natural radiation can pose a serious health risk for astronauts on long-duration space missions like those on the International Space Station (ISS).

Like a protective bubble, Earth's atmosphere and magnetosphere shields life on our planet from this never-ending bombardment of high-energy particles. However, in low-Earth orbit where the International Space Station (ISS) flies, astronauts are regularly exposed to high doses of radiation, including charged particles trapped in Earth's magnetic field, as well as cosmic rays and solar radiation.To prepare for future missions that may last for months or years, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), along with other space agencies around the world, have been stepping up research into radiation biology in recent years, recognizing that it deserves the highest priority.

During CSA astronaut Chris Hadfield's mission to the ISS, he will carry a new set of instruments into orbit to measure one of the most serious types of radiation -- caused by high-energy neutron particles -- and monitor the dose an astronaut absorbs during space flight What is Neutron Radiation?
Neutron radiation is considered to be one of the most severe of all types of radiation experienced in space as it can cause biological damage. It represents approximately 30% of the total exposure for those aboard the ISS. In space, neutrons are produced when charged particles collide with physical matter, such as the walls and equipment on the ISS. Just like medical X-rays, these high-energy particles can shoot through delicate body tissues, and through long-term exposure, they can damage DNA and potentially cause cataracts, bone marrow damage or even cancer.It's all in the bubbles -- Bubbles and Radiation Trouble
Radi-N2 is Canada's second generation of neutron radiation monitoring aboard the ISS and continues on where fellow Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk and the original Radi-N experiment left off in 2009.

A collaborative effort between the CSA and Russia's RSC-Energia and State Research Center of Russia Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP) Russian Academy of Sciences, the Radi-N2 study will have Chris Hadfield and fellow crewmember Roman Romanenko measure the neutron radiation levels on the station while onboard the ISS for Expedition 34/35.

Radi-N2 uses bubble detectors produced by a Canadian company, Bubble Technology IndustriesExternal link, Opens in a new window of Chalk River, Ontario, designed to focus on detecting neutrons while ignoring other types of radiation. Bubble detectors have been used in space for more than two decades on space shuttle missions and the MIR space station, and have become popular because of their accuracy and convenience.

Eight of these finger-sized instruments are going to be placed by Hadfield and Romanenko around various ISS modules. Each detector is filled with a clear polymer gel, inside which are liquid droplets. When a neutron strikes the test tube, a droplet may be vaporized. This creates a visible gas bubble in the polymer. Each bubble, which represents neutron radiation, is then placed within an automatic reader and counted.Radi-N2 will provide critical information for potential future human missions to the moon, asteroids and eventually Mars.

The CSA's support of radiation research will not only lead to major advancements for future human exploration of space but also in our knowledge of the health risks of radiation, such as cancer, neurological damage and degenerative tissue disease.

3D Picture of Movies News

Click on Movie Poster and Movie Name to see the trailer in Youtube

Movie Release This Week:

Not Fade Away

1) Not Fade Away : 

It’s 1964, the Rolling Stones appear on television and three best friends from the suburbs of New Jersey decide to form a rock band. Starring John Magaro, Jack Huston, Will Brill, Bella Heathcote, Brad Garrett, Christopher McDonald and James Gandolfini.

Jack Reacher

2) Jack Reacher : 

When a gunman takes five lives with six shots, all evidence points to the suspect in custody. On interrogation, the suspect offers up a single note: "Get Jack Reacher!" So begins an extraordinary chase for the truth, pitting Jack Reacher against an unexpected enemy, with a skill for violence and a secret to keep.

The Impossible

3) The Impossible: 

Based on a true story, The Impossible is the unforgettable account of a family caught, with tens of thousands of strangers, in the mayhem of one of the worst natural catastrophes of our time. But the true-life terror is tempered by the unexpected displays of compassion, courage and simple kindness that Maria and her family encounter during the darkest hours of their lives. Both epic and intimate, devastating and uplifting, The Impossible is a journey to the core of the human heart.

On the Road

4) On the Road:

The life of young writer Sal Paradise is shaken and ultimately redefined by the arrival of Dean Moriarty, a free-spirited, fearless, fast talking Westerner and his girl, Marylou.Traveling cross-country, Sal and Dean venture out on a personal quest for freedom from the conformity and conservatism engulfing them in search of the unknown, themselves, and the pursuit of "it" -- the pure essence of experience.

Seeking unchartered terrain and the last American frontier, the duo encounter an eclectic mix of men and women - each impacting their journey indelibly.

Dabangg 2

5) Dabangg 2:

 is a 2012 Bollywood action film directed and produced by Arbaaz Khan under the banner of Arbaaz Khan Productions. It is a sequel to the 2010 film Dabangg and is
 written by Dilip Shukla. The story is set in the city of Kanpur.

3D Picture of Political News

Political News This Week:

'Hat-trick man' Modi meets Gujarat Governor Beniwal

1)  'Hat-trick man' Modi meets Gujarat Governor Beniwal:

Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who silenced his critics to register a third successive win in the recently held two-phased state assembly polls, met Gujarat Governor Dr. Kamla Beniwal here on Friday.

Modi, who will be sworn-in as the chief minister of Gujarat for the third time on December 25, exchanged pleasantries with Dr. Beniwal.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which registered its fifth consecutive victory in Gujarat and third under Modi, won the assembly polls with a resounding 115 seats.
The Congress bagged 61 seats, while former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel-led Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) managed to win just two seats.

After his party's significant win yesterday, Modi thanked the people of the state for giving the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) another chance to form the government.
Addressing a public gathering at the BJP state unit headquarters in Ahmedabad last evening, Modi praised the voters for exercising their franchise in a mature manner.

"I thank the people of Gujarat. People have voted thinking if Gujarat prospers, I will prosper. Gujarat voters have proved that people make their choice based on development and progress. Gujarat's voters are the real heroes today," said Modi.

"The people of state have proved that if a government provides good governance and development to the people, they will forget everything and vote for that government. I promise that they will continue to witness tremendous development and progress in future also," he said.He also apologised to the people of Gujarat during his historic speech ,Modi, who is being seen by many as a potential Prime Ministerial candidate for the BJP in 2014, further said that he would be visiting New Delhi on December 27.The Gujarat Chief Minister had yesterday met his mother and his predecessor Keshubhai Patel and sought their blessings.

Gang-rape victim fights on, rage spreads

2) Gang-rape victim fights on, rage spreads: 

The rage spread, rapidly and steadily, through India's national capital Friday as students, activists and just concerned citizens gathered at various places in the city to protest the torture and gang-rape of a young woman, now battling to stay alive in a Delhi hospital.

As the protests literally reached President Pranab Mukherjee's doorstep, with angry demonstrators going right up till the gates of Rashtrapati Bhavan and one even managing to enter the complex, Delhi Police finally nabbed the two men who were at large.As the evening set in, hundreds reached 10 Janpath, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's offficial residence, and held candle march and noisy protests. Police erected barricades and stopped anyone from entering her heavily fortified residence.The parliamentary standing committee on home affairs, on its part, summoned union Home Secretary R.K. Singh and Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar Dec 27 to discuss atrocities against women and the law and order situation in the national capital.R.K. Singh and Neeraj Kumar later held a press conference and said they will be seeking "maximum punishment" for the accused persons. They said they will seek fast-track and day-to-day trial in the case that has shocked the nation.

But the Delhi High Court said it is not "convinced" with the status report filed by the Delhi Police which did not mention the details of police officials patrolling the area where the woman was gang-raped and tortured in a moving bus.A division bench of Chief Justice D. Murugesan and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said: "We have gone through the report and we are not convinced. None of the details of the police officials has been mentioned," said the court expressing its displeasure at the police for not filing the detailed report.Faced with the growing outrage, with protests not just in New Delhi but also elsewhere in the country, Delhi Police arrested two more accused, including one who has claimed that he is a juvenile. The sixth man identified as Akshay Thakur has been arrested from Aurangabad in Bihar.
In scenes unprecedented in the city, multiple protests broke out - at India Gate, Rajpath, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Jantar Mantar and 10 Janpath in the heart of Lutyens Delhi as well as outside Safdarjung Hospital, where the 23-year-old victim of the savage gang-rape fought a valiant battle against her injuries but continued to stay critical.

Rarely, if ever, have so many people taken to the streets in so many different places for a single cause. It was an unstoppable momentum.Demanding justice and fast track courts, many people have rallied in protest in the capital in the five days since the incident Sunday night, when the physiotherapist intern was brutally assaulted and her male friend beaten in a moving bus. Both were stripped and dumped by the roadside near the domestic airport after the nearly 40-minute ordeal.

"Hang me!" So said an accused in the gang-rape of a young woman Wednesday in a Delhi court, which sent him and two others to police remand after all of them admitted their involvement in the crime.

Vinay Sharma, an assistant gym instructor, told the court that he had beaten up the gang-rape victim's male friend, but did nothing with the girl and told Metropolitan Magistrate Namrita Agarwal: "Hang me!"

The other accused Pawan Gupta and Mukesh, the brother of co-accused bus driver Ram Singh, in whose vehicle the crime took place, were also presented in the Saket court.

The magistrate sent Gupta and Sharma to four days' police custody. Mukesh was sent to Tihar jail on 14 days' custody.Mukesh, after confessing to the crime, agreed to undergo an identification parade. Gupta and Sharma refused to do so.Gupta told the court that he did not want to undergo the identification exercise as he had committed a 'horrible act'.The court said that Mukesh would undergo the identification drill - in which an alleged offender is brought before witnesses and victims - on December 20 in jail.

The bus driver, who was Tuesday sent to police remand till December 23, had refused to undergo the identification parade.The Delhi High Court took suo motu notice of the gang-rape incident and remarked: 'Nobody is safe here.' The high court told police to file a report by Friday.The rape and torture occurred Sunday night, when the woman and her male friend boarded a private bus in south Delhi after watching a movie.

Congress bags Himachal

3) It's Modi again in Gujarat, Congress bags Himachal :

The score was one all in the crucial battle for political stakes Thursday with a hat trick of wins in Gujarat for Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Narendra Modi, who virtually equalled his 2007 tally, while the Congress wrested power in Himachal Pradesh.In Gujarat, the BJP was poised to bag 116 seats, one less than the 117 it won last time, missing a two-thirds majority in the 182-member house. The Congress was set to get 60 seats, one more than 2007's 59.Former BJP chief minister Keshubhai Patel's Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) was left with two seats, including his own.

In the hill state of Himachal Pradesh, the BJP's Prem Kumar Dhumal government conceded defeat to the Congress that won a comfortable victory of 36 seats in the 68-member assembly. The BJP, which had got 41 seats in 2007, was down to 26.One all perhaps, but not really even stevens. The win in Gujarat, which sends 26 MPs to the Lok Sabha against Himachal Pradesh's four, dominated the political space, with the BJP exulting and the Congress looking for ways to explain its loss.
The drums rolled outside the BJP office in Ahmedabad and sweets were distributed as Modi, whose persona has dominated the party's politics even at the national level, readied for a third straight term as chief minister, with speculation mounting over whether he would be the BJP's man for prime minister in 2014.

Modi, who has ruled Gujarat since 2001 and used innovations like 3-D technology to reach out, visited his mother to get her blessings and even his arch-rival Keshubhai Patel after the results were out."No need of looking behind, FORWARD! We want infinite energy, infinite courage, infinite patience..." he said on Twitter even before the results were clear."Aaj ka CM, 2014 ka PM!" shouted his supporters as if on cue.Triumphant at the important win, BJP leaders fought shy of responding to that most asked question.

"(The Gujarat election) is not about PM candidate but about who wins in Gujarat," BJP leader Balbir Punj said. "Let us savour this moment."Rajya Sabha MP Smriti Irani said frankly that Modi, 62, would be her candidate for the country's top post on the strength of his governance in Gujarat.Terming it a spectacular victory, Seshadri Chari of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) echoed that view. "This election is not to elect a PM candidate. We had expected the number to cross 125 but still we are very happy."For Ahmedabad-based activist Shabnam Hashmi, the "victory was frankly very surprising"."Social activists who stand by principles of democracies, who believe that Modi has finished all democracies, will continue to fight," Hashmi said."You need a Congress to lose like this," she added, angrily pointing to the party's inability to garner votes.The Congress, which in complete contrast to the BJP had put forward no one leader as its chief ministerial candidate and had in fact consciously steered clear of bringing up the minority polarisation in the state, took solace in the fact that Modi had not won more seats.Even after it became clear that the BJP had won an easy victory, senior ministers looked for ways to describe the loss. P. Chidambaram termed the Congress a real winner, Kapil Sibal said it was a "2D win for a 3D campaign" and Salman Khurshid was of the view that the results should worry Modi.

The Congress welcomed the "thumping victory" in Himachal Pradesh, where its veteran leader Virbhadra Singh steered it to power."I have left it on Soniaji (Congress president) to decide that who will be the next chief minister," Virbhadra Singh, 78, told IANS in Shimla, adding that "he has full faith in the high command".
The party will decide on its leader when the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) meets in the next two to three days -- 28 of 36 elected legislators owe alliance to Virbhadra Singh.

Eminent Bengali film, TV director Jishu Dasgupta dead

4) Eminent Bengali film, TV director Jishu Dasgupta dead: 

Noted Bengali film and TV show director Jishu Dasgupta died following cardiac arrest at a private hospital here Friday morning after a long battle with cancer, family sources said. He was 53.Dasgupta, known for directing popular serials like "Sishirer Swapno", "Kuasha Jakhon" and "Tithir Atithi", had been fighting with cancer for the last nine months and was admitted to Peerless Hospital Nov 25 following complications."He had been fighting for the last nine months. Towards the end, he had given up. We had admitted him Nov 25 because of liver problems. He had recovered from that but later on his blood pressure had fallen and he was shifted to the critical care unit," a family member told TV channels.West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee expressed her grief at Dasgupta's untimely death.
"I am deeply saddened at Jishu Dasgupta's untimely demise," said Banerjee.

BJP boycotts Congress MP Nirupam for insulting Smriti Irani, demands Sonia's apology

5) BJP boycotts Congress MP Nirupam for insulting Smriti Irani, demands Sonia's apology: 

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday lashed out at Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam for his personal attack on television actress-turned-politician Smriti Irani during a debate on a news channel, and sought an apology from UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on the entire episode.

BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said Nirupam crossed all limits of decency, dignity and decorum during the debate on a television news channel yesterday by launching a personal attack on Irani."You know we all respect the press, television news channels and the freedom of press. Heated discussions do take place, but there is decency and dignity in it. But Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam yesterday crossed all limits of decency, dignity and decorum," said Prasad.
"The BJP condemns the unfortunate criticism against Smritiji. This took place on a channel, which was watched by the entire country and people across the world through the medium of Internet," he added.

Prasad demanded that Congress President Sonia Gandhi should take action against Nirupam for his unfortunate remarks against the BJP leader."The unfortunate comments were made by a person who is the MP of Congress Party and that too on a television channel. The BJP condemns his statements. The national president of the Congress Party is a lady. We wish that she would take appropriate action in the concerned matter and take the initiate and tender an apology for what her MP has done. If she does not, the BJP will protest against Sonia Gandhi also," he added.Prasad further informed that Smriti Irani has filed a defamation case against Nirupam.

"The BJP has decided that none of its spokespersons will sit with Sanjay Nirupam on any TV channel. We would boycott Sanjay Nirupam at all places. The party has taken this issue very seriously. Smriti Iraniji has also sent a legal notice to Nirupam for gross defamation and whatever legal procedures can be taken will be done in this case," he said.Nirupam had made some personal criticism against Irani during a debate on a television channel on Narendra Modi's hat-trick in Gujarat.

 Mayan 'doomsday' sweeps across the world, no casualties

6) Mayan 'doomsday' sweeps across the world, no casualties:

Diehard doomsayers hunkered down to await the apocalypse on Friday, but most took a lighthearted view of the Mayan "prophecy" of the world's destruction, laying on stunts and parties to while away the end.

"If you're in an underground bunker with a lifetime's supply of baked beans how stupid do you feel now?" asked one person on Twitter, which saw dozens of posts every minute joking about the failure of the world to end.

In the southern French village of Bugarach -- rumoured to be one of the few places that will be spared when the end comes -- dozens of journalists from across the world were bitterly disappointed at the lack of New Age fanatics to interview.

Police had wrongly anticipated an influx of visitors and blocked access to the village and the nearby Pic de Bugarach, a mountain which some say will open on the last day and aliens will emerge with spaceships to save nearby humans.

Hundreds of reporters also wandered aimlessly around the tiny village of Sirince in Turkey, hoping to grab a mystic taking refuge there.

Doomsayers identified Sirince -- said to be the site from which the Virgin Mary ascended to heaven -- as a safe haven that will be spared destruction thanks to the positive energy flowing through it.

And in Serbia, a pyramid-shaped mountain believed by some to be a source of unusual electromagnetic waves that could shield it from catastrophe, attracted record numbers of visitors.

December 21 marks the end of an era that lasted over 5,000 years, according to the Mayan "Long Count" calendar. Some believe the date, which coincides with the December solstice, marks the end of the world as foretold by Mayan hieroglyphs.

 But scholars have ridiculed the idea, and say the date simply marks the end of the old Mayan calendar and the beginning of a new one.

The central American region where the Mayans lived saw a tourism bonanza in the run-up to the fateful December 21 date, with tourists snapping up all-inclusive excursions to Mayan holy sites.

It was also a chance to celebrate the contributions of the Mayan civilisation to mankind, but indigenous groups have accused governments and businesses of profiting from Hollywood-inspired fiction about their culture.

Thousands gathered at the majestic Mayan ruins of Tikal in the jungles of present-day Guatemala to await a fiery climax to the ancient civilisation's calendar.

Actors in costumes and head-dresses staged elaborate dances to a mournful pan-pipe tune ahead of the apocalypse supposedly foreseen by the Mayans, who reached their peak of power in modern-day Mexico and parts of Central America between the years 250 and 900 AD.

Australia was one of the first countries to see the sun rise on December 21, and Tourism Australia's Facebook page was bombarded with posts asking if anyone had survived Down Under.

"Yes, we're alive," the organisation responded to fretting users.

Tongue-in-cheek scientists in Taiwan planted an electronic countdown timer atop a two-storey replica of a Mayan pyramid, drawing crowds at the National Museum of Natural Science.

Seven-year-old Wang Si-shien was unimpressed. "I'm not scared at all," she said as she visited the museum with her school class.

Some argued online that an impending milestone for the "Gangnam Style" video of South Korean rapper Psy -- one billion views on YouTube -- was itself a harbinger of doom, enlisting a fake Nostradamus verse in their cause.

Across Asia, Europe and North America, many planned to party like there's no tomorrow with apocalypse-themed dinners and pub nights.

Hong Kong's Aqua restaurant promised to pick up the tab for its HK$2,112.12 ($273) six-course meal if the end is nigh -- though patrons will have to stump up if still alive at midnight.

But there has also been a darker side in China, with authorities arresting some 1,000 people in a crackdown on a Christian sect that spread doomsday rumours.

If the world does end, Chinese furniture maker Liu Qiyuan has his own safe haven, a fibre-glass pod he designed that can carry up to 30 people and withstand towering tsunamis and devastating earthquakes.

A Dutch Christian has meanwhile painstakingly prepared a lifeboat in his garden capable of saving 50 people ahead of the biblical floods he expects to accompany Friday's "doomsday".'

Over the centuries, the end of the world has been predicted countless times, from the early Christians to controversial US pastor Harold Camping last year.

US space agency NASA has been contacted by thousands of worried people asking what to do. In a web page devoted to debunking the Mayan prophecies, it reassured them that the world will not end in 2012.

"Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than four billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012," it said.

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Sports News This Week:

 India aiming for clean sweep in T20 series

1) India aiming for clean sweep in T20 series:

England was disappointed that it could not make its rival pay heavily after the rousing second wicket partnership between Hales and Wright.

Eoin Morgan, who led the team in the absence of Stuart Broad said: “We got off to a fantastic start, Alex and Luke really came together as a pair, but from there we didn’t really kick on. We lost wickets continually, which halted our momentum and didn’t do us any favours.

“The total we did creep up to was probably about 10 or 15 short of par. We said at the halfway stage we would have to do things exceptionally well to win this game because the wicket did play so well, and we just lacked a bit of discipline really.

“Losing wickets in Twenty20 cricket doesn’t help and batting first, you never know how much enough is because you play on a small ground on a good wicket.

“I will continue to encourage the guys to play positively and again build partnerships and continue the momentum if the wicket is good,’’

There’s no doubt that Yuvraj Singh fashioned the home team’s win. First his three for 19 and then a swashbuckling 38 made him the automatic choice for the Man-of-the-Match award.It’s possible that India may introduce Bhuvneshwar Kumar to international cricket here on Saturday and mull over ways to find a place for Rohit Sharma.

It is England’s turn to conquer the Indian Cricket

2) It is England’s turn to conquer the Indian Cricket:

Sunk to the bottom of the sea! You can say that of Indian cricket until the time it reorganises its dwindling resources and makes a mark as a consistent Test team.

The woeful performance on the last day of the final Test against England certainly cast doubts on the durability of some of the members of this team that went down 1-2, the first series loss for India at home in eight years. This was England’s first series win in India after 1984-85.

England, which finished the day at 352 for four, was never going to be a pushover. The team had painstakingly prepared for this expedition and the heights were scaled with utmost professionalism. Each member played his role with Jonathan Trott picking the stage to compile his eighth Test century, an innings that crushed any Indian hopes of a miraculous comeback into the match.

Hockey legend Leslie Claudius passes away

3) Hockey legend Leslie Claudius passes away:

India’s triple Olympic gold medallist and one of the legends of hockey, Leslie Claudius passed away here on Thursday after a prolonged illness.

Claudius was suffering from cirrhosis of the liver and frequently needed hospitalisation in the past couple of years.

Hockey Olympians from the city such as Gurbux Singh, Keshav Dutt and Vece Paes, who happened to play alongside him, remembered Claudius as a simple man who got love and respect from everyone for his great qualities.

Claudius, who was admitted to a city nursing home a week ago with liver ailment, had not been keeping well for more than a year. His condition deteriorated on Sunday when he was put on ventilator support.

According to his son Brandon, Claudius was showing signs of improvement but things took a turn for the worse on Thursday morning and the legendary player breathed his last at 3.25 p.m. Claudius was 85 and is survived by wife and three sons.

Great player

Great player
“He was more than a genius. He was probably the greatest athlete or hockey player India has ever produced. He had three Olympic golds and a silver, a feat that could hardly be matched by anyone,” Vece Paes said. “He was a gentle human being and was always smiling and greeting everyone. He was loved by all for his great qualities and that is why he lived so long,” he added.

“I had the fortune of seeing him both as a player and as a coach of Bengal and also the Indian side. He gave me sound workable advices that helped me find a place in the Indian team,” said Paes, who played for the Indian hockey team that won the bronze in 1972 Munich Olympics.

“He always stood by me and had faith in my abilities. He had an effective philosophy as a coach where he told me to keep the game simple while sticking to the basics. His words had a lasting impression in my mind as a player,” Paes said.

Good human being

Good human being
“I met him first in 1957 when I came to the city. We played together for five years in the Bengal team. Since then we have always been keeping in touch and the reason was hockey,” said another noted Olympian Gurbux Singh, who is also the secretary of the Bengal Hockey Association.

“He was a good human being and his simplicity appealed to me the most. He had no ego despite being such a great player and hence got readily accepted by everyone around him.

We went to Delhi together this year to receive a felicitation before the London Olympics. We also shared the hotel room. He was a great companion,” Gurbux remembered.“His greatest quality was that he always encouraged the youngsters. When he became a coach, he would be seen moving around with the junior players of the side.

This is how he gained instant acceptability and was loved and revered by every member of his team,” Grubux said.“I am shocked on receiving the news of his death. He was a great friend but I could not visit him at the hospital because of my age and failing health,” said one of Claudius’ surviving national team member, 87-year-old Keshav Dutt.

“He was a fantastic player and we have great memories of the London (1948) and Helsinki (1952) Olympics where we won the gold together.We also played together in the city team, Calcutta Port Trust, where we won the local league and also the Beighton Cup titles,” Keshav said.

Former India captain V. Bhaskaran said: “When I was part of the team, India won the silver medal in the Asian Games in 1978 in Bangkok, he was the team manager.

He was a very positive-thinking man. I have very fond memories of him.In fact, I would say that he was one of the key personalities instrumental in reviving the India-Pakistan hockey series in 1978. It’s sad that such a legend is no more.”

 War-torn Syria beat Iraq to savour rare soccer success

4) War-torn Syria beat Iraq to savour rare soccer success:

War-torn Syria enjoyed some rare soccer success by beating Iraq 1-0 in Kuwait on Thursday to win the West Asian Championships for the first time.
Ahmad Al Salih headed the winning goal for Syria's Red Eagles in the 75th minute of the final and they rode their luck in the closing stages before claiming the nine-team biennial tournament."I give this win and this worthy title to the Syrian people. I thank God that we succeeded in bringing happiness to the sad people," striker Omar Al Soma said in a televised interview after the match.

More than 40,000 people have been killed in Syria since violence broke out against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011.
The Syrians reached the final after drawing with Iraq and coming from behind to beat Jordan in the group stages. They then edging Bahrain 3-2 on penalties when their semi-final finished 1-1 after extra time.

They had twice previously finished as runners-up in the tournament, in the inaugural edition in 2000 and again four years later, both times losing to Iran.
Syria are ranked 144th by world governing body FIFA and have never qualified for a World Cup but have made the Asian Cup finals on five occasions, most recently last year.

They begin the qualifiers for the 2015 Asian Cup in February and will play home matches against Singapore, Jordan and Oman in Iran. The top two teams from the group will compete in the finals in Australia.

Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton reveals she worked as a Las Vegas escort

5) Olympian Suzy Favor Hamilton reveals she worked as a Las Vegas escort:

Suzy Favor Hamilton, a three-time U.S. Olympian, has revealed that she has spent much of the past year working as a $600-an-hour escort. It's a stunning admission, and a decision that Hamilton now calls a "huge mistake, Since last December, Hamilton has, according to TSG, worked with Haley Heston's Private Collection in Las Vegas, and has gone on engagements in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston. The 44-year-old married mother of one worked under the name "Kelly Lundy," but apparently revealed her true identity to several male clients.

The news is an astonishing revelation for a woman who, as TSG notes, runs a real estate brokerage in Madison, Wis.; delivers motivational speeches; and promotes various civic and community organizations. Hamilton said her husband knew of her escort work, but did not support it and asked her to stop. TSG reports that the family is apparently not in financial distress. Hamilton, who ran at the University of Wisconsin, remains the most highly honored female athlete in NCAA track and field history, so much so that the Big Ten's highest track honor is named after her. She competed in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games, but did not medal. Her most notable Olympic moment came in 2000, when she was leading the 1,500-meter final in Sydney. Her brother Dan had committed suicide the year before, and she sought to medal in his honor. But when she began slipping back in the pack, she fell to the ground.

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