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Saturday, 26 January 2013

Subhaditya News Channel Presents Science, Movie, Sports and Political News This Week (28)

Subhaditya News Week (28) Animated Summery

Subhaditya News Channel Presents Science, Movie, Sports and Political News This Week (28)

3D Picture of Science News

Science News This Week:

Stem Cell Therapy to Repair Damaged Knee Cartilage:

1) Stem Cell Therapy to Repair Damaged Knee Cartilage:

Rush University Medical Center is conducting the nation's first clinical study of an innovative stem cell drug, Cartistem, to repair knee cartilage damaged by aging, trauma or degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis.Cartistem is manufactured from mesenchymal stem cells derived from allogeneic (donor) umbilical cord blood. Umbilical cord blood is a readily accessible source of high-quality stem cells, is associated with minimal health risks and carries relatively few ethical concerns.The stem cells are mixed with hyaluronan, a natural polymer that plays a major role in wound healing and is a building block of joint cartilage. Cartistem is surgically administered into the area of cartilage damage following an arthroscopic surgery as an adjunct to microfracture, a commonly used technique used to repair cartilage damage.The principal investigator on the study is Dr. Brian Cole, a professor in the department of orthopedics and anatomy and cell biology at Rush University Medical Center. Dr. Cole is the head of Rush's Cartilage Restoration Center and is also the head team physician for the Chicago Bulls. Cole and his co-researchers will assess the drug's safety as well as its ability to regenerate cartilage repair tissue and reduce pain in patients with localized cartilage loss in the knee.Treating cartilage damage can be problematic because the tissue does not contain blood vessels or nerves and therefore has a limited ability to re-grow. Various treatments for cartilage degeneration, such as drug therapy, arthroscopy and joint replacement, yield mixed results and are unable to regenerate damaged tissue.

"Finding a biological solution for cartilage regeneration in orthopedics is one of the fastest growing areas of research and development in our specialty, said Cole. "Rush is spearheading this field of research with the ultimate goal of safely improving outcomes and sparing patients from having more complicated surgery at a relatively young age."The two-year, phase I/IIa study will enroll a total of 12 participants aged 18 years and older, with a body mass index of less than 35. Initially, six individuals with lesions sized 2 to 5 centimeters will be recruited into the study; an additional six volunteers with lesions larger than 5 centimeters will be enrolled sequentially. Each participant will undergo eligibility screening followed by a 12-month observation period to determine the safety and efficacy of the drug with an additional long-term follow-up evaluation at 24 months."With a burgeoning aging, yet active population, our patients are looking for effective non-joint replacement solutions to treat their damaged knee cartilage," said Cole. "This research is significant in that it utilizes a commonly performed operation (microfracture) in an effort to improve upon variable outcomes."

"Notably, this is a treatment for patients with localized cartilage damage and not for patients who are diagnosed with diffuse or bone on bone arthritis who have otherwise been told they require a knee replacement." said Cole.

Immune Cell Suicide Alarm Helps Destroy Escaping Bacteria:

2) Immune Cell Suicide Alarm Helps Destroy Escaping Bacteria:

Cells in the immune system called macrophages normally engulf and kill intruding bacteria, holding them inside a membrane-bound bag called a vacuole, where they kill and digest them.

Some bacteria thwart this effort by ripping the bag open and then escaping into the macrophage's nutrient-rich cytosol compartment, where they divide and could eventually go on to invade other cells.But research from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine shows that macrophages have a suicide alarm system, a signaling pathway to detect this escape into the cytosol. The pathway activates an enzyme, called caspase-11, that triggers a program in the macrophage to destroy itself."It's almost like a thief sneaking into the house not knowing an alarm will go off to knock down the walls and expose him to capture by the police," says study senior and corresponding author Edward Miao, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at UNC. "In the macrophage, this cell death, called pyroptosis, expels the bacterium from the cell, exposing it to other immune defense mechanisms."A report of the research appears online in the journal Science on January 24, 2013.Miao, also a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, says the new findings show that having this detection pathway protects mice from lethal infection with the type of vacuole-escaping Burkholderia species: B. thailandensis and B. pseudomallei.

Both are close relatives. But they differ in lethality. B. pseudomallei is potentially a biological weapon. Used in a spray, it could potentially infect people via aerosol route, causing sickness and death. Moreover, it also could fall into a latent phase, "essentially turning into a 'sleeper' inside the lungs and hiding there for decades," Miao explains. In contrast, B. thailandensis, which shares many properties with its species counterpart, is not normally able to cause any disease or infection

These environmental bacteria are ubiquitous throughout S.E. Asia, and were it not for the caspase-11 pathway defense system, that part of the world could be uninhabitable, Miao points out.This grim possibility clearly emerged in the study. Mice that lack the caspase-11 detection pathway succumb to infection not only by B. pseudomallei, but also to the normally benign B. thailandensis. "Thus caspase-11 is critical for surviving exposure to ubiquitous environmental pathogens," the authors conclude.Miao points to research elsewhere showing that the pathway's abnormal activation in people with septic shock, overwhelming bacterial infection of the blood, is associated with death. "We discovered what the pathway is supposed to do, which may help find ways to tone it down in people with that critical condition.As to bioterrorism, the researcher says it may be possible to use certain drugs already on the market that safely induce the caspase-11 pathway. "Since this pathway requires pre-stimulation with interferon cytokines, it is conceivable that pre-treating people with interferon drugs could ameliorate a bioterror incident. This could be quite important in the case of Burkholderia, since these bacteria are naturally resistant to numerous antibiotics.

"But first we have to find out if they would work in animal models, and consider the logistics of interferon stockpiling, which are currently cost prohibitive."

UNC co-authors are Youssef Aachoui, Jon A. Hagar, Peggy A. Cotter and Christine G. Campos. Alan Aderem, Irina A. Leaf, Daniel E. Zak are from Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, Seattle, Wash. Russell E. Vance, Mary F. Fontana and Michael Tan are from the department of molecular and cell biology, University of California at Berkeley.

NASA Officially Joins ESA's 'Dark Universe' Mission:

3) NASA Officially Joins ESA's 'Dark Universe' Mission:

NASA has joined the European Space Agency's (ESA's) Euclid mission, a space telescope designed to investigate the cosmological mysteries of dark matter and dark energy.

Euclid will launch in 2020 and spend six years mapping the locations and measuring the shapes of as many as 2 billion galaxies spread over more than one-third of the sky. It will study the evolution of our universe, and the dark matter and dark energy that influence its evolution in ways that still are poorly understood.The telescope will launch to an orbit around the sun-Earth Lagrange point L2. The Lagrange point is a location where the gravitational pull of two large masses, the sun and Earth in this case, precisely equals the force required for a small object, such as the Euclid spacecraft, to maintain a relatively stationary position behind Earth as seen from the sun."NASA is very proud to contribute to ESA's mission to understand one of the greatest science mysteries of our time," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the agency's Headquarters in Washington.NASA and ESA recently signed an agreement outlining NASA's role in the project. NASA will contribute 16 state-of-the-art infrared detectors and four spare detectors for one of two science instruments planned for Euclid.

"ESA's Euclid mission is designed to probe one of the most fundamental questions in modern cosmology, and we welcome NASA's contribution to this important endeavor, the most recent in a long history of cooperation in space science between our two agencies," said Alvaro Gimenez, ESA's Director of Science and Robotic Exploration.In addition, NASA has nominated three U.S. science teams totaling 40 new members for the Euclid Consortium. This is in addition to 14 U.S. scientists already supporting the mission. The Euclid Consortium is an international body of 1,000 members who will oversee development of the instruments, manage science operations and analyze data.Euclid will map the dark matter in the universe. Matter as we know it -- the atoms that make up the human body, for example -- is a fraction of the total matter in the universe. The rest, about 85 percent, is dark matter consisting of particles of an unknown type. Dark matter first was postulated in 1932, but still has not been detected directly. It is called dark matter because it does not interact with light. Dark matter interacts with ordinary matter through gravity and binds galaxies together like an invisible glue.While dark matter pulls matter together, dark energy pushes the universe apart at ever-increasing speeds. In terms of the total mass-energy content of the universe, dark energy dominates. Even less is known about dark energy than dark matter.

Euclid will use two techniques to study the dark universe, both involving precise measurements of galaxies billions of light-years away. The observations will yield the best measurements yet of how the acceleration of the universe has changed over time, providing new clues about the evolution and fate of the cosmos.

Euclid is an ESA mission with science instruments provided by a consortia of European institutes and with important participation from NASA. NASA's Euclid Project Office is based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. JPL will contribute the infrared flight detectors for the Euclid science instrument. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., will test the infrared flight detectors prior to delivery. Three U.S. science teams will contribute to science planning and data analysis. JPL is managed by for NASA by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

New Dinosaur Fossil Challenges Bird Evolution Theory

4) New Dinosaur Fossil Challenges Bird Evolution Theory:

The discovery of a new bird-like dinosaur from the Jurassic period challenges widely accepted theories on the origin of flight.

Co-authored by Dr Gareth Dyke, Senior Lecturer in Vertebrate Palaeontology at the University of Southampton, the paper describes a new feathered dinosaur about 30 cm in length which pre-dates bird-like dinosaurs that birds were long thought to have evolved from.Over many years, it has become accepted among palaeontologists that birds evolved from a group of dinosaurs called theropods from the Early Cretaceous period of Earth's history, around 120-130 million years ago. Recent discoveries of feathered dinosaurs from the older Middle-Late Jurassic period have reinforced this theory.The new 'bird-dinosaur' Eosinopteryx described in Nature Communications this week provides additional evidence to this effect.

"This discovery sheds further doubt on the theory that the famous fossil Archaeopteryx -- or "first bird" as it is sometimes referred to -- was pivotal in the evolution of modern birds," says Dr Dyke, who is based at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton."Our findings suggest that the origin of flight was much more complex than previously thought."The fossilised remains found in north-eastern China indicate that, while feathered, this was a flightless dinosaur, because of its small wingspan and a bone structure that would have restricted its ability to flap its wings.

The dinosaur also had toes suited to walking along the ground and fewer feathers on its tail and lower legs, which would have made it easier to run.Dr Gareth Dyke is also Programme Leader for a new one-year MRes in Vertebrate Palaeontology, which offers potential students the chance to study the evolution and anatomy of vertebrates, in order to inform and increase our understanding of the workings of modern day creatures.Dr Dyke's co-authors are Pascal Godefroit of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Helena Demuynck of Earth System Science Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Dongyu Hu of Paleontological Institute Shenyang Normal University China and Key Laboratory of Vegetation Ecology Northeast Normal University China, François Escuillié of Eldonia France and Philippe Claeys of Jilin University Geological Museum China.

Dung Beetles Follow the Milky Way: Insects Found to Use Stars for Orientation

5) Dung Beetles Follow the Milky Way: Insects Found to Use Stars for Orientation:

An insect with a tiny brain and minimal computing power has become the first animal proven to use the Milky Way for orientation. Scientists from South Africa and Sweden have published findings showing the link between dung beetles and the spray of stars which comprises our galaxy.

Although their eyes are too weak to distinguish individual constellations, dung beetles use the gradient of light to dark provided by the Milky Way to ensure they keep rolling their balls in a straight line and don't circle back to competitors at the dung pile."The dung beetles don't care which direction they're going in; they just need to get away from the bun fight at the poo pile," said Professor Marcus Byrne from Wits University.

Byrne and his team previously proved that dung beetles use the sun, the moon and polarised light for orientation. In their experiments, they gave the beetles "caps" which blocked light from reaching their eyes. The team also discovered that the beetles climb on top of their dung balls to perform an orientation "dance" during which they locate light sources to use for orientation.Now, further experiments, conducted under the simulated night sky of the Wits Planetarium, have shown that the beetles also use the Mohawk of the Milky Way -- giving new meaning to dancing with the stars!

"We were sitting out in Vryburg (conducting experiments) and the Milky Way was this massive light source. We thought they have to be able to use this -- they just have to!" said Byrne.Not all light sources are equally useful landmarks for a dung beetle. A moth keeping a constant angle between itself and a candle flame will move in a circle around the flame. However, a celestial body is too far away to change position relative to a dung beetle as it rolls its ball, with the result that the beetle keeps travelling in a straight line.The scientists suspect the beetles have a hierarchy of preference when it comes to available light sources. So if the moon and the Milky Way are visible at the same time, the beetles probably use one rather than the other.A few other animals have been proven to use stars for orientation, but the dung beetle is the first animal proven to use the galaxy.

3d Picture of Movie Release News

Movie Release This Week:

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters


1) Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters:

After getting a taste for blood as children, Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton)  have become the ultimate vigilantes, hell bent on retribution.  Now, unbeknownst to them, Hansel and Gretel have become the hunted, and must face an evil far greater than witches...their past. 

John Dies at the End

2) John Dies at the End:

it’s all about the Soy Sauce, a drug that promises an out-of-body experience with each hit. Users drift across time and dimensions. But some who come back are no longer human. Suddenly a silent otherworldly invasion is underway, and mankind needs a hero. What it gets instead is John (Rob Mayes) and David (Chase Williamson), a pair of college dropouts who can barely hold down jobs. Can these two stop the oncoming horror in time to save humanity? No. No, they can't. 


3) Parker:

A thief with a unique code of professional ethics is double-crossed by his crew and left for dead. Assuming a new disguise and forming an unlikely alliance with a woman on the inside, he looks to hijack the score of the crew's latest heist. 

Race 2

4) Race 2:

Ranvir treads through the world of the Indian mafia in Turkey as he looks to avenge the death of his lover and partner in crime, Sonia. 


5) Resolution:

Two friends. One a junkie forced to go cold turkey in an isolated cabin. Mysterious forces. Personal demons. Dark humor. Genre-bending horror filmmaking that'll make your head explode. 

3D picture of Sports News

Sports News This Week:

Victoria Azarenka


1) Sloane Stephens, Maria Sharapova lose :

Victoria Azarenka had to endure some anxious moments before and after her win over American teenager Sloane Stephens.

Li Na wasn’t flustered at all in an easy victory over No. 2-ranked Maria Sharapova.

The result is that Li will play for the Australian Open title against Azarenka, who ended Stephens’ unexpected run to the semifinals that included a quarterfinal upset of 15-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams.

Another player who had little trouble Thursday was defending champion Novak Djokovic, who looked like he was conducting a tennis clinic in overpowering No. 4 David Ferrer 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 in just 1 hour, 29 minutes.Djokovic will attempt to win his third consecutive Australian Open when he plays the winner of Friday’s semifinal between Roger Federer and Andy Murray in Sunday’s championship match.While Li’s 6-2, 6-2 win over Sharapova, who set a tournament record in dropping only nine games in five matches en route to the semis, never appeared in doubt on Thursday, Azarenka added some drama in the second semifinal on Rod Laver Arena.

Maria Sharapova

Azarenka needed six match points to finish off a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Stephens that included a medical timeout after the American broke her serve to pull within 5-3 in the second set. After leaving the court for medical attention, the Belarusian returned to break Stephens’ serve to end the match.

‘‘Well, I almost did the choke of the year,’’ Azarenka told an on-court interviewer immediately after the match. ‘‘At 5-3, having so many chances I couldn’t close it out.’’ ‘‘I just felt a little bit overwhelmed. I realized I’m one step away from the final and nerves got into me for sure,’’ Azarenka said.The 23-year-old Belarusian’s on-court comments after the match led to speculation about the timing of her medical timeout. She didn’t help herself in a second television interview after the match that suggested the pressure of trying to close out the match was getting to her.In her official post-match news conference — more than an hour after she finished playing — Azarenka felt a need to explain her comments immediately after the match.

‘‘I think I just really misunderstood what (the on-court interviewer) asked me because the question was I had few difficulties and why I went off,’’ Azarenka said. ‘‘I completely thought of a different thing, why I couldn’t close out of match, you know, that I had few difficulties.

‘‘So I understand the whole situation right now, but it just really (is a) simple misunderstanding of a question. I guess it was my bad.’’Pressed again to explain her earlier TV comments, Azarenka said: ‘‘I did say that. I did say I couldn’t breathe. It was locked. That came from my back. ‘‘

Stephens didn’t think the timing of the medical break affected the outcome of the match.

‘‘It’s happened before. Last match, match before, I’ve had people going for medical breaks, going to the bathroom,’’ she said. ‘‘Didn’t affect me. Just another something else that happens.’’The temperature hit 97 degrees during the second women’s semifinal, slightly hotter than it had been when Li beat Sharapova to reach the Australian Open final for the second time in three years.

The semifinal started badly for the 25-year-old Russian, serving double-faults to lose the first two points and conceding a break in the first game.

Li was the first Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam final when she lost to Kim Clijsters at Melbourne Park in 2011. She had her breakthrough a few months later when she won the French Open, beating Sharapova in the semifinals along the way.

The crowd got behind Li early in the match, yelling ‘‘Come on, Li Na!’’ and others yelling ‘‘Jia You!’’ which is ‘‘Come on’’ in Chinese. After she broke Sharapova to take a 5-2 lead, the Chinese fans in the crowd shook Chinese flags and shouted again, ‘‘Jia You!’’

‘‘I don’t know what happened, (but) I always play well here, so thanks guys,’’ said Li, who was playing her third Australian Open semifinal in four years. ‘‘I just came to the court feeling like, ‘OK, just do it.’’’

Li’s coach, Carlos Rodriguez, who worked with retired seven-time major winner Justine Henin, pumped his fist over his heart after Li won the game.

Sharapova had control in her next service game, but Li scrambled from side to side and pushed the reigning French Open champion to go for the lines, getting a series of unforced errors and another break.The sixth-seeded Li has been working since August with Rodriguez, and credits him with reviving her career with a renewed emphasis on condition.

Murray outmuscles Federer to reach Australian Open final:

2) Murray outmuscles Federer to reach Australian Open final:

 Andy Murray won a knock-down-drag-out thriller of a scrap with Roger Federer on Friday to set up an Australian Open final against Novak Djokovic and finally beat the Swiss for the first time at a grand slam.Charged with confidence after claiming his first grand slam title at last year's U.S. Open and beating Federer in the Olympic final, Murray met the Swiss as a peer and prevailed 6-4 6-7 6-3 6-7 6-2 after four hours of top quality tennis.

The 25-year-old Briton blasted 21 aces and won the winner count 62-43 but it was only in the fifth set that he was able to pull away from the 17-times grand slam champion to reach his third Melbourne Park final.Federer was never going to give up easily and twice came from a set down to level a sometimes fractious contest before the effort of playing back-to-back five set matches took its toll on his 31-year-old legs."It was a tough match (but) I thought I did a good job tonight," said Murray."I've obviously lost some tough matches against him in slams. So to win one, especially the way that it went was obviously nice."

Murray had never beaten Federer in their three previous meetings at grand slams and now has the chance to become the first man in the open era to back up his maiden major title at the first attempt.To do that, though, he will have to beat double defending champion Djokovic, who crushed the Scot in the 2011 final and played one of the best matches of his career on Thursday to hammer David Ferrer and reach his third successive final."I don't want to be wasting any energy, because I'll need all of it if I want to win against Novak on Sunday," said Murray.

India, England teams arrive in Dharamsala

3) India, England teams arrive in Dharamsala:

Amid huge enthusiasm both India and England cricket teams arrived on Thursday for the fifth and final One-Day International to be held here on Saturday.The two teams reached Gaggal Airport in the afternoon by a chartered flight and headed straight to their five star residential complex.Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association officials and girls dressed in traditional Kinnauri outfits welcomed the members of the both teams at the airport.

The HPCA president, Anurag Thakur welcomed the teams at the hotel.This is the first time that the hill town is hosting an international match. At an altitude of 1317 metres, the stadium is all set to provide a breathtaking view of the snow clad majestic Dhauladhar mountain ranges at the backdrop.The ODI was originally scheduled as a day-night fixture, but it was changed to a day match, schedule to start at 9 am to avoid a bone-chilling cold in the evening under floodlights.

“It is going to be a historic day for the small hill town,” said Thakur, who has been instrumental in setting up the ground here.Thakur also said that his next aim will be to hold a Test match here.Thakur, however, is worried about the unpredictable weather in the region and for that he has also visited a temple of local deity and performed ‘puja’India have already taken an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match ODI series and star players like India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who has been reportedly carrying an injury, may opt to sit out of the game.

Other players who might give the game a miss are Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma and Gautam Gambhir who are likely to make way for Amit Mishra, Chesteshwar Pujara and Ashok Dinda.Meanwhile, the English players are likely to enjoy playing in the “home like” cold conditions here and would look to reduce the margin in the series.

West Indies postpones Pak ODI series:

4) West Indies postpones Pak ODI series: Reports

The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) has postponed their one-day international series at home against Pakistan, according to reports.

Pakistan will now play two Test matches during its Caribbean tour as West Indies has deferred the ODI series, according to a report from Geo News.

Pakistan was to play two Test matches and five ODIs during its West Indies tour in June-July this year.

According to earlier reports, West Indies were scheduled to host Pakistan from June to July but they also have a tri-series against India and Sri Lanka during that time and to avoid the clash with Pakistan, the WICB had asked the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) if their Caribbean tour could be rescheduled to August.

However, this would also interfere with the PCB's slim hopes of hosting India. (ANI)

3D Picture of Political News

Political News of This Week:

Netaji's daughter pained at controversy over father's death


1) Netaji's daughter pained at controversy over father's death:

"Pained" over the continuous controversy over the death of her father, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's daughter Anita Pfaff Friday said secret government files on the freedom fighter should be declassified.Talking about her father, Pfaff said: "My father perhaps was over optimistic in thinking that independence alone would solve India's problems.""My father's life in many ways was rather mysterious and it is not so surprising that people give their own interpretations on it. I may not obviously like them, particularly about his death. I am pained at times," Pfaff told media persons on the sidelines of a programme here.

She also said that secret government documents on Netaji should be declassified."Such documents should be declassified unless there is any danger. But after so many years, I don't think there can be any danger in making the documents public. I cannot envisage why they cannot be declassified," she said.

Pfaff also hailed Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's announcement to erect a monument in Netaji's memory at his ancestral house in South 24-Parganas district's Kodalia, which has raised a controversy.She expressed surprise over this."I think that (erecting the monument) would be a very nice step. I am more in favour of monuments than just erecting statues. I cannot think why there should be a controversy over erecting a monument," said Pfaff.Soon after Banerjee announced the proposal to erect the monument, Forward Bloc - a party founded by Bose - objected to the proposal, saying the party would not allow such a move as "there is no evidence or proof that Netaji has died."

Impartiality of CBI inquiry into coalgate scam is questionable: BJP

2) Impartiality of CBI inquiry into coalgate scam is questionable: BJP:

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday expressed its disappointment over the way the Central Bureau of Investigation is investigating the coalgate scam, and said that the impartialities of the CBI is questionable because the Prime Minister is directly involved in the case.

A day after the Supreme Court criticised the CBI for refusing to share details of its probe in the multi-crore scam with it, BJP spokesperson Rajeev Pratap Rudy said the Supreme Court has echoed the same concern, the BJP is raising since the scam came to light.

"The Supreme Court has indicated that the investigation being conducted by the CBI in the coal blocks allocation scam, in which an imputed loss of Rs.1.86 lakh crore given out by the CAG, is seems too be a virtual shame. The fact remain that the impartialities of the CBI is questionable because the signatory to these coal blocks has been the Prime Minister of India," said Rudy.However, he emphasised that his party would continue to insist that the CBI must file a chargesheet against the people found guilty at earliest.

Earlier on Thursday, the investigative agency had come under sharp criticism of the Supreme Court for not wanting to share details before the judicial bench headed by Justice R. M. Lodha.The court had expressed deep displeasure over the CBI decision and said it needs to see the status to confirm that the probe is going on in the right direction. (ANI)

Meet 'safe bet' Rajnath Singh, BJP's new president

3) Meet 'safe bet' Rajnath Singh, BJP's new president:

 Having replaced Nitin Gadkari as President of BJP, Singh finds himself in the familiar role of leading the party at a time when the BJP is dogged by factional feud and the Lok Sabha polls not too far away.

61-year-old Singh from Uttar Pradesh, who takes over from Nitin Gadkari, returns to the political terrain in which the low-profile, soft-spoken and articulate leader found himself about six years ago when he was chosen by the saffron party to head it. General elections is due in May 2014.

Headley gets 35 years in jail for role in 26/11

4) Headley gets 35 years in jail for role in 26/11:

Pakistani-American LeT terrorist David Headley was today sentenced to 35 years in jail by a US Court for helping plot the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks but escaped death penalty under a deal with the US government over which the judge had serious reservations.“The sentence I impose, I’m hopeful it will keep Headley under lock and key for the rest of his natural life,” US District Judge Harry Leinenweber said on Thursday.The Judge said it would have been much easier to impose the death penalty. “That’s what you deserve”.52-year-old Headley had entered into a plea bargain with the US investigators under which he escaped death sentence.

But many were left surprised when the US prosecutors did not seek life sentence for Headley.Headley was ordered to serve 35 years, followed by five years of supervised release by Leinenweber.There is no federal parole and defendants must serve at least 85 per cent of their sentence.“Headley is a terrorist,” the Judge said while imposing the sentence on 12 counts in a packed court.Leinenweber also said, “He commits crime, cooperates and then gets rewarded for the cooperation.“No matter what I do, it is not going to deter terrorists. Unfortunately, terrorists do not care for it. I do not have any faith in Headley when he says that he is a changed person now.“I do believe that it is my duty to protect the public from Headley and ensure that he does not get into any further terrorist activities. Recommending 35 years is not a right sentence”.Asked if he wanted to make a statement, Headley, said, “No your honour”...

In pleading guilty and later testifying for the government at the trial of co-defendant and school time friend Tahawwur Rana, Headley admitted that he attended training camps in Pakistan operated by Lashkar—e—Taiba, on five separate occasions between 2002 and 2005.In late 2005, Headley received instructions from three members of Lashkar to travel to India to conduct surveillance, which he did five times leading up to the Mumbai attacks in 2008 that killed approximately 166 people, including six Americans, and wounded hundreds more.A week back, Leinenweber had sentenced Rana for 14 years of imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release for providing material support to LeT and planning terrorist attack against a Danish newspaper in Copenhagen.Both Headley and Rana were arrested in 2009. Headley was a small-time narcotics dealer turned US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) informer who went rogue.In their closing arguments, US attorneys Daniel J. Collins and Sarah E Streicker had sought between 30 and 35 years of imprisonment for Headley.

His attorneys Robert David Seeder and John Thomas had sought a lighter sentence arguing he had given huge amount of information to the US government against terrorist organisations like LeT and several of its leaders.Headley has confessed that he had undertaken numerous scouting missions for his handlers in Pakistan. He had videographed a number of targets in India including the iconic Taj hotel in Mumbai which was attacked by 10 LeT terrorists.

According to security agencies, the detailed videos made by Headley was the foundation on which the Mumbai attacks was planned and carried out.Headley, born to a Pakistani father and American mother, had even changed his name from Daood Gilani in 2006 to easily move in and out of India without raising suspicion.

The US attorneys argued that while there is no question that Headley’s criminal conduct was deplorable, his decision to cooperate, provided uniquely significant value to the US government’s efforts to combat terrorism.“We are seeking less than life time sentencing, because of the significant intelligence value information provided by Headley. Crime is deplorable, shocking and horrific.

“We have to recognise the significant value of the information. We believe that 30—35 years of imprisonment would be justified and balance and thus be downgraded from life sentence,” Collins said.Former US attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who appeared in court, urged leniency saying that Headley’s decision to become an informant “saved lives.”

Rahul Gandhi's political journey

5) Rahul Gandhi's political journey:

Rahul Gandhi is now the official number 2 of the Congress, designated vice-president and with only his mother, Sonia Gandhi, as his boss. The elevation came after months of anticipation and years of clamour from an adoring Congress, a party hard-wired to expect generations of Nehru-Gandhis to lead it.

So ever since he made his political debut nine years ago, there has been a growing chorus in the rank and file of India's oldest party demanding that Mr Gandhi, who represents the fourth generation of the Nehru-Gandhi family in politics in Independent India, to take on a greater role in the party and government. In Jaipur, as the party met to devise its strategy for the 2014 general elections, it reached a fevered pitch.

Mr Gandhi's elevation was inevitable; Congress leaders admitted it was just a matter of when he was ready to accept the "bigger role." He is the great grandson of India's first Prime Minister, the grandson of its first woman Prime Minister, the son of its youngest Prime Minister and also of the party's longest-serving chief, Sonia Gandhi. Congressmen expect him to head the party and be India's Prime Minister one day. Among the loudest demands in Jaipur this weekend, was that he be declared the party's candidate for Prime Minister in 2014.

Six, including centenarian, killed in illegal Mahim slum blaze

6) Six, including centenarian, killed in illegal Mahim slum blaze:

A major fire broke out in an illegal slum cluster in Mahim before dawn on Friday, killing six persons, including four from one family. It is being claimed that one of the deceased was over 100 years old.The bodies were charred beyond recognition and were identified by relatives on the basis of the places they were found in. The police have refused to release the bodies, saying DNA tests have to be done.

Witnesses said the fire started around 5.15am in a hardware godown and spread in Naya Nagar. The flames leapt easily from one shanty to another in the packed cluster of about 1,300 one to four-storey structures. Four cylinders in the shanties also blew up, fanning the flames.
The fire brigade reached around 5.32am and took about two hours to control the fire. By that time, at least 100 shanties had been gutted. Residents said the flames were so strong that cars and streetlights across the road were also damaged.Fire-fighters said the eight fire engines pressed into service could not pass through the narrow lanes and they had carry the water pipes to the affected area. "It was difficult to fight the fire in the slum. The fire was spreading quickly because there were godowns of wooden and plastic material," said a senior official.

The dead were identified as Safi Mohammed (106), Sadil Hamisa Sayed (45), Asatullah Sayed (28) and Chanda Sayed (18), all from one family, and Chand Mohammed (45) and Babloo Verma (27). Locals said Safi Mohammed was bed-ridden and couldn't run to save himself. The rest of the family got trapped as their house was almost at the epicentre of the blaze.

"The Sayed family had shifted to this area only a few months ago. Asatullah Sayed was visiting and would have stayed another week," said Saru Bano, a neighbour.
Nine persons suffered burns and were taken to Bhabha hospital in Bandra. "It was a stampede-like situation. People just woke up and rushed out of their homes. After some cylinders burst, people began dragging out the cylinders in their house," said Rizwan Siddique, who managed to escape the flames.
The Naya Nagar slum on collector's land near Sion-Trombay road in Mahim has not been notified as legal because most of the structures came up after 1995, some as recent as six months ago."According to our records, the slum is illegal. The decision whether compensation will be given will be the state government's," said Chandrashekhar Oak, collector (island city).

A woman dressed as a mermaid

A woman dressed as a mermaid dives in a show pool at the Duesseldorf fairground during the Boot fair International Boat Show on January 23, 2013. The event, running from January 19 to January 27, features all boats, yachts, superyachts, electronics, engines and thousands of accessories from every major marine manufacturer and builder worldwide.

Wishing a Happy Republic Day on 26 January 2013 to the Readers of This Post

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