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|Subhaditya News Channel Presents Science, Movie,Political Sports News This Week (29)|
Science News This Week:
|Science News Channel|
1) Sequencing Hundreds of Chloroplast Genomes Now Possible:
|Sequencing Hundreds of Chloroplast Genomes Now Possible:|
Researchers at the University of Florida and Oberlin College have developed a sequencing method that will allow potentially hundreds of plant chloroplast genomes to be sequenced at once, facilitating studies of molecular biology and evolution in plants.
The chloroplast is the compartment within the plant cell that is responsible for photosynthesis and hence provides all of the sugar that a plant needs to grow and survive. The chloroplast is unusual in containing its own DNA genome, separate from the larger and dominant genome that is located in every cell's nucleus.
Chloroplast DNA sequences are widely used by plant biologists in genetic engineering and in reconstructing evolutionary relationships among plants. Until recently, though, chloroplast genome sequencing was a costly and time-intensive endeavor, limiting its utility for plant evolutionary and molecular biologists. Instead, most researchers have been limited to sequencing a small portion of the chloroplast genome, which in many cases is insufficient for determining evolutionary relationships, especially in plant groups that are evolutionarily young.
In contrast, complete chloroplast genome sequences harbor enough information to reconstruct both recent and ancient diversifications. New DNA sequencing technologies, termed "next-generation" sequencers, have made it considerably cheaper and easier to sequence complete chloroplast genomes. While current methods using next-generation sequencers allow up to 48 chloroplast genomes to be sequenced at one time, the new method will allow potentially hundreds of flowering plant chloroplast genomes to be sequenced at once, significantly reducing the per-sample cost of chloroplast genome sequencing.
This new method, reported in the February issue of Applications in Plant Sciences, relies on efficient separation of chloroplast DNA from other DNA in the cell using short DNA "baits" that were designed from chloroplast genomes that have already been sequenced. These molecular baits effectively concentrate the chloroplast DNA before sequencing (a process termed "targeted enrichment"), dramatically increasing the number of samples that can be sequenced at once.
Greg Stull, a graduate student at the University of Florida and lead author of the study, summarizes the versatility of the new system: "With this method, it should be possible for researchers to cheaply sequence hundreds of chloroplast genomes for any flowering plant group of interest."
The method was specifically designed by the authors of the study such that almost any flowering plant chloroplast genome can be sequenced, regardless of species. Flowering plants represent the largest (~300,000 species) and most ecologically dominant group of land plants, and include all major crop plants.
2) NASA's Cassini Watches Saturn Storm Choke On Its Own Tail:
|NASA's Cassini Watches Saturn Storm Choke On Its Own Tail:|
Call it a Saturnian version of the Ouroboros, the mythical serpent that bites its own tail. In a new paper that provides the most detail yet about the life and death of a monstrous thunder-and-lightning storm on Saturn, scientists from NASA's Cassini mission describe how the massive storm churned around the planet until it encountered its own tail and sputtered out. It is the first time scientists have observed a storm consume itself in this way anywhere in the solar system.
"This Saturn storm behaved like a terrestrial hurricane -- but with a twist unique to Saturn," said Andrew Ingersoll, a Cassini imaging team member based at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, who is a co-author on the new paper in the journal Icarus. "Even the giant storms at Jupiter don't consume themselves like this, which goes to show that nature can play many awe-inspiring variations on a theme and surprise us again and again."
Earth's hurricanes feed off the energy of warm water and leave a cold-water wake. This storm in Saturn's northern hemisphere also feasted off warm "air" in the gas giant's atmosphere. The storm, first detected on Dec. 5, 2010, and tracked by Cassini's radio and plasma wave subsystem and imaging cameras, erupted around 33 degrees north latitude. Shortly after the bright, turbulent head of the storm emerged and started moving west, it spawned a clockwise-spinning vortex that drifted much more slowly. Within months, the storm wrapped around the planet at that latitude, stretching about 190,000 miles (300,000 kilometers) in circumference, thundering and throwing lightning along the way.
Terrestrial storms have never run into their own wakes -- they encounter topographic features like mountains first and expend themselves. But Saturn has no land to stop its hurricanes. The bright, turbulent storm head was able to chomp all the way around the planet. It was only when the head of the storm ran into the vortex in June 2011 that the massive, convective storm faded away. Why the encounter would shut down the storm is still a mystery.
By Aug. 28, after 267 days, the Saturn storm stopped thundering for good. While Cassini's infrared detectors continue to track some lingering effects in higher layers of Saturn's atmosphere, the troposphere -- which is the weather-producing layer, lower in the atmosphere -- has been quiet at that latitude.
"This thunder-and-lightning storm on Saturn was a beast," said Kunio Sayanagi, the paper's lead author and a Cassini imaging team associate at Hampton University in Virginia. "The storm maintained its intensity for an unusually long time. The storm head itself thrashed for 201 days, and its updraft erupted with an intensity that would have sucked out the entire volume of Earth's atmosphere in 150 days. And it also created the largest vortex ever observed in the troposphere of Saturn, expanding up to 7,500 miles [12,000 kilometers] across."
The vortex grew to be as large as the giant storm known as Oval BA on Jupiter. But Oval BA and Jupiter's more famous storm -- the Great Red Spot -- are not thunder-and-lightning storms. Jupiter's storms also have a quiet center, unlike the violence at the center of Saturn's storms.
"Cassini's stay in the Saturn system has enabled us to marvel at the power of this storm," said Scott Edgington, Cassini's deputy project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "We had front-row seats to a wonderful adventure movie and got to watch the whole plot from start to finish. These kinds of data help scientists compare weather patterns around our solar system and learn what sustains and extinguishes them."
This storm was the longest running of the massive storms that appear to break out in Saturn's northern hemisphere once every Saturn year (30 Earth years). The longest storm of any size ever detected on Saturn actually unfolded over 334 days in 2009 in an area known as "Storm Alley" in the southern hemisphere, but it was about 100 times smaller in area than the latest northern storm.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team consists of scientists from the U.S., England, France and Germany. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
3) Nanomaterials Key to Developing Stronger Artificial Hearts:
|Nanomaterials Key to Developing Stronger Artificial Hearts:|
ACS Nano published a study by Ali Khademhosseini, PhD, MASc, a researcher in the division of biomedical engineering at Brigham and Women's Hospital, detailing the creation of innovative cardiac patches that utilize nanotechnology to enhance the conductivity of materials to induce cardiac tissue formation.
Creation of these ultra-thin cardiac patches put medicine a step closer to durable, high-functioning artificial tissues that could be used to repair damaged hearts and other organs.The cardiac tissue patches utilize a hydrogel scaffolding reinforced by nanomaterials called carbon nanotubes. To create the patches, the researchers seeded neonatal rat heart muscle tissue onto carbon nanotube-infused hydrogels. These novel patches showed excellent mechanical integrity and advanced electrophysiological functions. Moreover, they demonstrated a protective effect against chemicals toxic to heart tissue.
4) Longevity Gene: Discovery Opens the Door to a Potential 'Molecular Fountain of Youth:
|Longevity Gene: Discovery Opens the Door to a Potential 'Molecular Fountain of Youth:|
A new study led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, represents a major advance in the understanding of the molecular mechanisms behind aging while providing new hope for the development of targeted treatments for age-related degenerative diseases.
Older and fitter? New findings from a UC Berkeley-led study could have implications for the development of treatments for age-related degenerative diseases.
Researchers were able to turn back the molecular clock by infusing the blood stem cells of old mice with a longevity gene and rejuvenating the aged stem cells' regenerative potential. The findings were published online on Jan. 31, in the journal Cell Reports.
The biologists found that SIRT3, one among a class of proteins known as sirtuins, plays an important role in helping aged blood stem cells cope with stress. When they infused the blood stem cells of old mice with SIRT3, the treatment boosted the formation of new blood cells, evidence of a reversal in the age-related decline in the old stem cells' function.
"We already know that sirtuins regulate aging, but our study is really the first one demonstrating that sirtuins can reverse aging-associated degeneration, and I think that's very exciting," said study principal investigator Danica Chen, UC Berkeley assistant professor of nutritional science and toxicology. "This opens the door to potential treatments for age-related degenerative diseases."
Chen noted that over the past 10 to 20 years, there have been breakthroughs in scientists' understanding of aging. Instead of an uncontrolled, random process, aging is now considered highly regulated as development, opening it up to possible manipulation.
"A molecular fountain of youth"
"Studies have already shown that even a single gene mutation can lead to lifespan extension," said Chen. "The question is whether we can understand the process well enough so that we can actually develop a molecular fountain of youth. Can we actually reverse aging? This is something we're hoping to understand and accomplish."Chen worked with David Scadden, director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.Sirtuins have taken the spotlight in this quest as the importance of this family of proteins to the aging process becomes increasingly clear. Notably, SIRT3 is found in a cell's mitochondria, a cell compartment that helps control growth and death, and previous studies have shown that the SIRT3 gene is activated during calorie restriction, which has been shown to extend lifespan in various species.
To gauge the effects of aging, the researchers studied the function of adult stem cells. The adult stem cells are responsible for maintaining and repairing tissue, a function that breaks down with age. They focused on hematopoietic, or blood, stem cells because of their ability to completely reconstitute the blood system, the capability that underlies successful bone marrow transplantation.The researchers first observed the blood system of mice that had the gene for SIRT3 disabled. Surprisingly, among young mice, the absence of SIRT3 made no difference. It was only when time crept up on the mice that things changed. By the ripe old age of two, the SIRT3-deficient mice had significantly fewer blood stem cells and decreased ability to regenerate new blood cells compared with regular mice of the same age.
5) Nanoparticles That Look and Act Like Cells:
|Nanoparticles That Look and Act Like Cells|
By cloaking nanoparticles in the membranes of white blood cells, scientists at The Methodist Hospital Research Institute may have found a way to prevent the body from recognizing and destroying them before they deliver their drug payloads. The group describes its "LeukoLike Vectors," or LLVs, in a recent issue of Nature Nanotechnology.
"Our goal was to make a particle that is camouflaged within our bodies and escapes the surveillance of the immune system to reach its target undiscovered," Tasciotti said. "We accomplished this with the lipids and proteins present on the membrane of the very same cells of the immune system. We transferred the cell membranes to the surfaces of the particles and the result is that the body now recognizes these particles as its own and does not readily remove them."
Nanoparticles can deliver different types of drugs to specific cell types, for example, chemotherapy to cancer cells. But for all the benefits they offer and to get to where they need to go and deliver the needed drug, nanoparticles must somehow evade the body's immune system that recognizes them as intruders. The ability of the body's defenses to destroy nanoparticles is a major barrier to the use of nanotechnology in medicine. Systemically administered nanoparticles are captured and removed from the body within few minutes. With the membrane coating, they can survive for hours unharmed.
"Our cloaking strategy prevents the binding of opsonins -- signaling proteins that activate the immune system," said Department of Medicine Co-Chair Ennio Tasciotti, Ph.D., the study's principal investigator. "We compared the absorption of proteins onto the surface of uncoated and coated particles to see how the particles might evade the immune system response."Tasciotti and his group took metabolically active leukocytes (white blood cells) and developed a procedure to separate membranes from cell innards. By coating their nanoparticles with intact membranes in their native composition of lipids and proteins, the researchers created the first drug-carrying nanoparticles that look and act like cells -- leukolike vectors."Using the membranes of white blood cells to coat a nanoparticle has never been done before," Tasciotti said. "LLVs are half man-made -- the synthetic silicon core -- and half made of man -- the cell membrane."
Can the membrane be produced entirely via synthetic means?
"Being able to use synthetic membranes or artificially-created membrane is definitely something we are planning for the future," Tasciotti said. "But for now, using our white blood cells is the most effective approach because they provide a finished product. The proteins that give us the greatest advantages are already within the membrane and we can use it as-is."As the technology is developed, Tasciotti said a patient's own white cells could be harvested and used to create personalized LLVs. "Cloaked by the patient's own cell membranes, the nanoparticles would be far more likely to reach their targets and avoid the activation of the immune system surveillance," he said. To test whether the LLVs would be protected from macrophage sequestration and destruction, Tasciotti's team tested LLVs coated with human membranes and found that human macrophages left the LLVs unharmed, thus confirming the preservation of the self-recognition principle.
Nanoparticle research has generally focused on getting the particles to recognize specific tissue and to release drugs there, and only there. Comparative studies of LLVs' interaction with healthy and inflamed blood vessel cells showed the LLVs selectively targeted the inflamed tumor blood vessels.
"LLVs are dotted with proteins that help the particles reach specific targets, from inflamed or damaged tissues to cancer cells recruiting blood vessels," Tasciotti said. "Over time the membrane lipids and proteins will break away, leaving the nanoparticles to degrade naturally after releasing their payload."The research team also looked at how well the drugs traveled through the LLV membrane. They found that rather than introducing an obstacle to drug release, the membrane provides controllable release of the drug once the nanoparticles reach their target tissue.The present study used white blood cells from cell cultures. Tasciotti said one of his group's goals is culturing enough cells from the patient to be useful in drug therapy."We are aware that we will not always have access to an infinite number of white blood cells," Tasciotti said. "For this reason, we are working to optimize our system by using as little material as efficiently as possible. I expect this technology to become a new player in the crowded world of drug delivery system thanks to the opportunities it offers for the personalization of drug therapies."
6) 'Hobbit' Fossils Represent A New Species, Concludes Anthropologist (Important Old Science News):
|'Hobbit' Fossils Represent A New Species, Concludes Anthropologist (Important Old Science News):|
University of Minnesota anthropology professor Kieran McNulty (along with colleague Karen Baab of Stony Brook University in New York) has made an important contribution toward solving one of the greatest paleoanthropological mysteries in recent history -- that fossilized skeletons resembling a mythical "hobbit" creature represent an entirely new species in humanity's evolutionary chain.
Discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003, controversy has surrounded the fossilized hominid skeletons of the so-called "hobbit people," or Homo floresiensis ever since. Experts are still debating whether the 18,000-year-old remains merely belong to a diminutive population of modern-day humans (with one individual exhibiting "microcephaly," an abnormally small head) or represent a previously unrecognized branch in humanity's family tree.Using 3D modeling methods, McNulty and his fellow researchers compared the cranial features of this real-life "hobbit" to those of a simulated fossil human (of similar stature) to determine whether or not such a species was distinct from modern humans.
"[Homo floresiensis] is the most exciting discovery in probably the last 50 years," said McNulty. "The specimens have skulls that resemble something that died a million years earlier, and other body parts reminiscent of our three-million-year-old human ancestors, yet they lived until very recently -- contemporaries with modern humans."Comparing the simulation to the original Flores skull discovered in 2003, McNulty and Baab were able to demonstrate conclusively that the original "hobbit" skull fits the expectations for a small fossil hominin species and not a modern human. Their study was published online this month in the Journal of Human Evolution.The cranial structure of the fossilized skull, says the study, clearly places it in humanity's genus Homo, even though it would be smaller in both body and brain size than any other member. The results of the study suggest that the theorized "hobbit" species may have undergone a process of size reduction after branching off from Homo erectus (one of modern day humanity's distant ancestors) or even something more primitive."We have shown with this study that the process of size reduction applied to fossil hominins accounts for many features seen in the fossil skull from Flores," McNulty said. "It becomes much more difficult, therefore, to defend the hypothesis that the preserved skull is a modern human who simply suffered from an extremely rare disorder.
Public interest in the discovery, analysis and implications of Flores "hobbits" has been high ever since 2003, inspiring several television specials (including a recent episode of "NOVA" entitled "Alien From Earth") and other media attention.While the debate over Homo floresiensis will continue, McNulty believes this comprehensive analysis of the relationship between size and shape in human evolution is a critical step toward eventually understanding the place of the Flores "hobbits" in human evolutionary history."I think the majority of researchers favor recognizing this as a new species," McNulty said about the categorization of Homo floresiensis. "The evidence is becoming overwhelming, and this study helps confirm that view."
|Movie Release News|
Movies Release This Week:
|Bullet to the Head|
1) Bullet to the Head:
Based on a graphic novel, "Bullet to the Head" also tells the story of a New Orleans hitman (Stallone) and a New York City cop who form an alliance to bring down the killers of their respective partners.
|The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia|
2) The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia:
Building on the terror of A Haunting in Connecticut, this horrifying tale traces a young family’s nightmarish descent into a centuries-old Southern hell. When Andy Wyrick (Chad Michael Murray, House of Wax) moves his wife Lisa (Abigail Spencer, TV’s “Mad Men”) and daughter Heidi to an historic home in Georgia, they quickly discover they are not the house’s only inhabitants. Joined by Lisa’s free-spirited sister, Joyce (Katee Sackhoff, TV’s “Battlestar Galactica”), the family soon comes face-to-face with a bone-chilling mystery born of a deranged desire…a haunting secret rising from underground and threatening to bring down anyone in its path.
|As Luck Would Have It|
3) As Luck Would Have It:
Roberto (famed Spanish comic José Mota) once had a promising career in advertising. But now out of work during the economic downturn, he struggles to keep his family afloat and their dire situation a secret from his adoring wife Luisa (Salma Hayek). After yet another dead end interview, it seems like reality will come crashing down on Roberto – until a freak accident places him at the center of a wild media storm. Realizing his opportunity, Roberto hires a brazen agent to help him leverage his new found fame into fortune, but Luisa begins to worry about what lengths Roberto will go to for his family’s security.
|Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 (Animation)|
4) Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 (Animation):
The Batman has returned after a 10-year absence. The Gotham authorities want to arrest him. An old foe wants a reunion. The Feds want the Man of Tomorrow to put a stop to him.
A captivating look inside the journey of four dreamers; a dancer, a singer, an ex-boxer, and a rapper, who are all tied together by life's most common thread: the past.
Political News This Week:
1) Banning 'Vishwaroopam' against idea of India: Tarun Vijay:
|Banning 'Vishwaroopam' against idea of India: Tarun Vijay|
The ban on Kamal Haasan's film "Vishwaroopam" and the controversy over social analyst Ashis Nandy's comments on caste and corruption in Jaipur reflected the intolerance of Indian policy makers and went against the "very grain of India", BJP MP Tarun Vijay has said."A silly ban on 'Vishwaroopam' and the misinformed controversy on Ashish Nandy's opinion show how intolerant Indian policy makers have become while the common people are tolerant, large-hearted, plural and democratic," Tarun Vijay said in a statement.
"One may disagree with Ashish Nandy on any number of issues, but his intellectual brilliance and integrity can't be questioned. Similarly, to ban 'Vishwaroopam' on flimsy, almost non-existent reasons shows an un-Indian attitude," the Rajya Sabha MP of the Bharatiya Janata Party said.Nandy's comment on corruption and caste at the Jaipur Literature Festival led to several FIRs being filed against him. On Friday, the Supreme Court stepped in to stop the Rajasthan Police from arresting him.
"Vishwaroopam" was banned by the Tamil Nadu government for scenes that some Muslim groups found objectionable.Posing a question, "Is this the India we are proud of", Tarun Vijay compared the ban on Kamal Haasan's mega budget spy thriller with the shooting of Mahatma Gandhi. Such bans, he said, show a "Talibanistic attitude".Sixty-five years on, "the person" who assassinated Gandhi "still exists in the psyche of those who are intolerant to a different voice, just because it's different. However healthy, academic or artistic it might be in its content".
In Tarun Vijay's view, "to disagree and yet to be able to live with respect can happen only in the land of those who gave the world a unique concept of not just tolerating the different viewpoint but having a honourable place for the dissenters."If there is any thing derogatory, insulting and uncivil in a movie, please have the censor board cut it. But an innocent expression of ideas and opinion can't be a reason for persecution," he said.
|Cabinet approves Lokpal bill amendments|
2) Cabinet approves Lokpal bill amendments:
The cabinet Thursday accepted the separation of Lokayukta in the states from the Lokpal at the centre, while accepting 14 of 16 amendments recommended by a select panel of members of the Rajya Sabha on the proposed bill to institute an anti-graft ombudsman, Lokpal."We have accepted 14 out of 16 amendments proposed by the select committee... we did not approve two," Minister of State in the prime minister's office V. Narayanasamy told reporters after the cabinet meeting.The bill will now be put to vote in the Rajya Sabha, and will also return to the Lok Sabha with the new amendments, Narayanasamy said.
The Lok Sabha had approved the Lokpal bill in 2011, but it got stuck in the upper house. In May 2012 it was referred to the select panel.Given that two amendments recommended by the select panel have been turned down by the government, officials facing a preliminary probe will be given a hearing under the present draft of the bill, and the Lokpal will also have no power to transfer CBI officials investigating a case referred by it.The prime minister's office, Narayanasamy said, will also be under the Lokpal, with some riders related to national security and external affairs.
According to the minister, the state government will have to enact a law for setting up an institution of Lokayukta within a year of the centre passing the Lokpal bill.
The selection panel for the Lokpal will comprise the prime minister, Speaker of the Lok Sabha and leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha, Chief Justice of India, and an eminent jurist, the minister said.He said charitable institutions aided by the government will also come under the ambit of the anti-graft ombudsman.
On the selection of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director, the minister said it will be done by the prime minister, the leader of opposition in the lower house and the chief justice.The minister also said that a person affiliated with any political party would not qualify to be a member of the proposed Lokpal.
The bill also proposes that director prosecution of the CBI be selected by the chief vigilance commissioner."I am happy to say the cabinet has given the seal of approval. The select committee recommendations have broadly been accepted," Law Minister Ashwani Kumar told reporters.
Earlier this week, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi wrote to social activist Anna Hazare assuring him that the legislation would be passed in the coming budget session of parliament."It is for the parliament to decide on the bill," Narayanasamy said.
|3 more days for booklovers at Kolkata Book Fair|
3) 3 more days for booklovers at Kolkata Book Fair:
For the first time, the duration of the 2013 Kolkata Book Fair has been extended by three days.The extension comes following a request from the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to help small and medium-sized publishers.The 37th edition of the popular fair will now start on January 26 in the city and end on February 10. The book fair was originally scheduled to begin on January 29.“The chief minister requested us to reschedule the event keeping in mind the medium scale publishers from the State. The period of the fair has been increased, keeping in mind her request,” Sudhashu Sekhar Dey, President, International Kolkata Book Fair, said.According to Dey, the fair will now run for 15 days instead of the previously scheduled 12 days. Special transport arrangements are also being made by the organisers while entry fee has been waived off.
|Mamata Banerjee rules out division of West Bengal|
4) Mamata Banerjee rules out division of West Bengal:
Nagrakata: In a blunt message to the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha demand, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday ruled any division of West Bengal.
"There will be no division of Bengal. Darjeeling is not outside West Bengal. Dooars is not outside West Bengal," Banerjee said while launching the campaign in North Bengal for next year's panchayat elections."People living in the plains and hill areas will stay together," the chief minister apparently said this referring to GJM leaders in Darjeeling who have renewed their demand for inclusion of Terai and Dooars in the jurisdiction of the new hill council, Gorkha Territorial Administration..
Banerjee was on the second day of her visit to North Bengal to make an on-the-spot study of the implementation of state government projects.
|Kejriwal targets Sheila Dikshit on power discoms|
5) Kejriwal targets Sheila Dikshit on power discoms:
Targeting the Sheila Dikshit government, activist Arvind Kejriwal Friday alleged that power distribution companies in the capital "fudged" their records and "committed fraud" to show losses in their revenue while actually making profits.The Aam Aadmi Party chief also claimed that Delhi ites are paying two times the electricity bills they should actually be paying. He accused Dikshit of stopping the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission from passing an order in 2010 which recommended 23 per cent reduction in the tariff."The then DERC chief Brijender Singh was to pass an order on May 5, 2010 but the Delhi Government wrote a letter to Brijender Singh on May 4 under pressure from discoms and stopped him from issuing the order," he told a press conference in New Delhi.
Reacting to the allegations, Dikshit's office termed them as "bunch of lies". "The allegations are a bundle of lies," her office said.Power Minister Harun Yusuf said Kejriwal was trying to "sensationalise the issue as he did not say anything new". "The allegations are totally baseless. The tariff order he was referring to was not signed by all the three members of the DERC. So you cannot call it a tariff order. Even Delhi high court had held that it was not a DERC order," Yusuf told PTI.
Circulating copies of the letter written by Joint Secretary (Power) S M Ali on May 4 to Singh, Kejriwal said the order had concluded that discoms were making "huge profits" and that the power tariffs in the capital should be reduced by 23 per cent rather than increased."The power companies had projected Rs 630 crores of losses for the year 2010-11 and they wanted electricity tariffs to be increased to recover that. However, Singh had concluded that they would make profits of Rs 3,577 crores which if passed on to the consumers would result in 23 per cent reduction," Kejriwal alleged."Why did Dikshit issue such an order? Only she can answer the question," Kejriwal said adding that she brought an official perceived to be close to her who "turned a blind eye to all the fraud committed by the discoms owned by Tatas and Ambanis".Claiming that DERC itself had held that the discoms had fudged records, he alleged that BSES Yamuna and BSES Rajdhani owned by Anil Ambani [ Images ] group were showing zero bills for a number of consumers including the DelhiAirport and the Delhi Jal Board.
"These were done to show losses. Can anyone believe that Delhi Jal Board does not consume power at all? This was done to show losses," he alleged.The AAP convenor demanded that FIRs for alleged cheating be registered against the discoms."Brijender Singh's tariff order should be implemented and the excess money charged from consumers in the last 3 years should be refunded to them," he demanded.Kejriwal also demanded that the chief minister immediately give her nod for performance and financial audit of discoms by the CAG and sack the current chairman of DERC.He also claimed that the BJP did not raise these issues despite having proof by not doing justice to its role as Opposition party.Yusuf said the DERC headed by Berjinder Singh had made calculations on assumptions that power would be available from newly built power plants at low rates. But actually those plants could not generate power as per expectation due to various reasons.
"In last 10 years, there has been 83 per cent hike in power tariff against 137 per cent increase in power purchase cost. We always tried to be very transparent," said Yusuf.Yusuf said Delhi government did not have any problem with CAG audit of accounts of the distribution companies."We have filed an affidavit in the Delhi High Court favouring CAG audit of discoms' account. The court is yet to come out with its order on the issue,"
Sports News This Week:
|Davis Cup: South Korea lead 2-0 as Indian rookies struggle:|
1) Davis Cup: South Korea lead 2-0 as Indian rookies struggle:
It was a disappointing start to India's Davis Cup campaign here Friday as rookie Vijayant Malik conceded the second singles due to severe cramps despite putting up a valiant fight following a humiliating loss by debutant Ranjeet Virali-Murugesan in the first singles, giving South Korea a 2-0 lead on the first day of their Group I Asia/Oceania first round tie.Ranjeet, who is India's No.1 player for the tie, was thrashed 1-6, 0-6, 1-6 by the unranked Min-Hyeok Cho at the R.K. Khanna Tennis Stadium.
After a humiliating loss in the first singles, Vijayant, ranked 537, gave the home crowd something to cheer with his spirited performance against Suk-Young Jeong, who is ranked 321.But in the third set, with the score at 4-6, 5-7, 0-3, he felt excruciating pain in his left leg and collapsed on the court and conceded the match.
It was a sad end to Vijayant's heroics that raised some hopes for the hosts after an embarrassing loss in the first singles.Vijayant attacked from the outset and was on top of his game right. He led the first set 2-1 but some unforced errors helped the Jeong claw back into the game to make it 4-2. Vijayant, however, came back strongly in the next two games and pocketed the fourth game with a brilliant ace (4-4).But the Korean made the best use of his experience and went for the kill whenever he found the opportunity while Vijayant failed to finish off points.
In the second set, Vijayant continued in the same breadth and took a 1-0 lead. It was a see-saw battle in the second game as the Indian came back from 0-40 to make it 40-40 but failed to seal it.Egged on by a sizeable crowd, Vijayant soon made it 2-1 and but Jeong was soon back on level 2-2 despite the Indian saving four game points.The match was evenly balanced at 5-5, but Jeong was indomitable in the last two games and won the set 7-5.Vijayant started feeling a niggle in his left leg in the second set and opted for medical help during the break. By the third set, trailing 0-2, Vijayant collapsed on the field with severe cramps. He first conceded the game and after some treatment he gave it up finally.Earlier in the day, the unranked Cho dominated from the baseline and toyed with Ranjeet, who is ranked 511.
It was an erratic performance by the inexperienced Ranjeet, who was included in the side after several top players revolted against the All India Tennis Association (AITA) and made themselves unavailable for national duty.Ranjeet gifted away easy points. Though he hit a few aces and managed to hold on to rallies twice, he committed too many unforced errors.Cho, who is basically a doubles player, made the best use of his experience in thrashing the 27-year-old India.The Korean said his ploy was to make Ranjeet work for the points."I was aware of the fact that he was an inexperienced player. So the ploy was to make him work hard for the points," he said.India are fielding an inexperienced team in the Davis Cup following a rebellion by senior players, led by Somdev Devvarman. Leander Paes is the only old face in the team.On Saturday, Paes will be teaming up with another rookie Purav Raja for the doubles.
|Cricket: Australia rout West Indies by nine wickets|
2) Cricket: Australia rout West Indies by nine wickets:
Australia's Mitchell Starc claimed five wickets as the West Indies were bundled out for just 70 on their way to an embarrassing defeat in the first one-day international in Perth on Friday.Australia made light of the feeble score -- the West Indies' third-lowest ODI total -- romping to victory in just 9.2 overs for the loss of one wicket.
Left-armer Starc snared five wickets for 20 runs as the tourists imploded after winning the toss and electing to bat in the first game of the five-match series.
The tourists' score was well short of Australia's 91 against the West Indies at the same venue in 1987, the previous lowest total at the WACA Ground.The home side put their opponents' performance into context when they came out to bat, with Glenn Maxwell smashing 51 off 35 balls. Usman Khawaja, dropped before he scored, was unbeaten on eight.
When the West Indies slumped to 19-5 after Starc claimed his fourth wicket in eight balls, they appeared in grave danger of falling short of their lowest ever tally of 54, against South Africa in 2004.Darren Bravo's dismissal for 11 left them 39-7 before captain Darren Sammy contributed 16 in a stand of 26 for the eighth wicket with debutant Jason Holder.Sammy was the top-scorer with the bat, his tally only eclipsed by the 17 extras Australia conceded.Clint McKay (3-10) started the rot for the tourists when he claimed the prize scalp of big-hitting opener Chris Gayle, caught by Aaron Finch at second slip for just four.The match was effectively over as a contest when Starc used his combination of pace and swing to destroy the West Indian top order.He claimed the wickets of Kieran Powell (11) and Ramnaresh Sarwan, Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard, all for ducks, in the space of eight balls.West Indies paceman Holder took his first one-day wicket in Australia's reply, when he had Finch caught behind for 10.
|Cricket: Women's World Cup results|
3) Cricket: Women's World Cup results:
Results from the Women's World Cup matches on Friday:In Mumbai
Sri Lanka beat England by one wicket
England 238-8 in 50 overs (Jenny Gunn 52, Amy Jones 41, Heather Knight 38, Arran Brindle 31; Chamani Seneviratna 2-35, Eshani Kaushalya 2-49, Shashikala Siriwardene 2-62)
Sri Lanka 244-9 in 50 overs (Chamari Atapattu 62, Eshani Kaushalya 56, Yasoda Mendis 46, Shashikala Siriwardene 34; Katherine Brunt 2-36, Georgia Elwiss 2-39, Arran Brindle 2-38)In Cuttack
New Zealand beat South Africa by 150 runs
New Zealand 320-5 in 50 overs (Sophie Devine 145, Suzie Bates 72, Nicola Browne 40 not out, Sara McGlashan 32)
South Africa 170 all out in 41 overs (Susan Benade 37, Shabnim Ismail 31, Mignon du Preez 29; Sian Ruck 4-31, Morna Nielsen 3-34, Lea Tahuhu 2-27)
Australia beat Pakistan by 91 runs
Australia 175 all out in 46.1 overs (Rachael Haynes 39, Sarah Coyte 35 not out, Lisa Sthalekar 32; Sadia Yousuf 3-30, Asmavia Iqbal 2-36)
Pakistan 84 all out in 33.2 overs (Bismah Maroof 43; Sarah Coyte 3-20, Holly Ferling 2-10, Ellyse Perry 2-18, Lisa Sthalekar 2-19)
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