|Newsweek (38) Clippings in Animated Form|
|Collage of Newsweek(38)|
Science News This Week:
1) How Life May Have First Emerged On Earth: Foldable Proteins in a High-Salt Environment:
|How Life May Have First Emerged On Earth: Foldable Proteins in a High-Salt Environment:|
A structural biologist at the Florida State University College of Medicine has made discoveries that could lead scientists a step closer to understanding how life first emerged on Earth billions of years ago.Professor Michael Blaber and his team produced data supporting the idea that 10 amino acids believed to exist on Earth around 4 billion years ago were capable of forming foldable proteins in a high-salt (halophile) environment. Such proteins would have been capable of providing metabolic activity for the first living organisms to emerge on the planet between 3.5 and 3.9 billion years ago.The results of Blaber's three-year study, which was built around investigative techniques that took more than 17 years to develop, are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The first living organisms would have been microscopic, cell-like organizations capable of replicating and adapting to environmental conditions -- a humble beginning to life on Earth."The current paradigm on the emergence of life is that RNA came first and in a high-temperature environment," Blaber said. "The data we are generating are much more in favor of a protein-first view in a halophile environment."The widely accepted view among scientists is that RNA, found in all living cells, would have likely represented the first molecules of life, hypothesizing an "RNA-first" view of the origin of living systems from non-living molecules. Blaber's results indicate that the set of amino acids produced by simple chemical processes contains the requisite information to produce complex folded proteins, which supports an opposing "protein-first" view.
Another prevailing view holds that a high-temperature (thermophile) environment, such as deep-ocean thermal vents, may have been the breeding ground for the origin of life. "The halophile, or salt-loving, environment has typically been considered one that life adapted into, not started in," Blaber said. "Our study of the prebiotic amino acids and protein design and folding suggests the opposite."Without the ability to fold, proteins would not be able to form the precise structures essential for functions that sustain life as we know it. Folding allows proteins to take on a globular shape through which they can interact with other proteins, perform specific chemical reactions, and adapt to enable organisms to exploit a given environment."There are numerous niches that life can evolve into," Blaber said. "For example, extremophiles are organisms that exist in high temperatures, high acidity, extreme cold, extreme pressure and extreme salt and so on. For life to exist in such environments it is essential that proteins are able to adapt in those conditions. In other words, they have to be able to fold."
Comet and meteorite fragments, like those that recently struck in the Urals region of Russia, have provided evidence regarding the arrival of amino acids on Earth. Such fragments predate Earth and would have been responsible for delivering a set of 10 prebiotic (before life) amino acids, whose origins are in the formation of our solar system.Today the human body uses 20 common amino acids to make all its proteins. Ten of those emerged through biosynthetic pathways -- the way living systems evolve. Ten -- the prebiotic set -- can be made by chemical reactions without requiring any living system or biosynthetic pathway.Scientific evidence exists to support many elements in theories of abiogenesis (the emergence of life), including the time frame (around 3.5 to 3.9 billion years ago) and the conditions on Earth and in its atmosphere at that time. Earth would have been made up of volcanic land masses (the beginning of the formation of continents), salty oceans and fresh-water ponds, along with a hot (around 80 degrees Celsius) and steamy atmosphere comprising carbon dioxide and nitrogen. Oxygen would have come later as a by-product of green plant life and bacteria that emerged.Using a technique called top-down symmetric deconstruction, Blaber's lab has been able to identify small peptide building blocks capable of spontaneous assembly into specific and complex protein architectures. His recent work explored whether such building blocks can be composed of only the 10 prebiotic amino acids and still fold.His team has achieved foldability in proteins down to 12 amino acids -- about 80 percent of the way to proving his hypothesis.If Blaber's theory holds, scientists may refocus where they look for evidence in the quest to understand where, and how, life began."Rather than a curious niche that life evolved into, the halophile environment now may take center stage as the likely location for key aspects of abiogenesis," he said."Likewise, the role of the formation of proteins takes on additional importance in the earliest steps in the beginnings of life on Earth."
2) New Insight Into Photosynthesis: Carotenoids Can Capture Blue/Green Light and Pass Energy On to Chlorophylls:
|New Insight Into Photosynthesis: Carotenoids Can Capture Blue/Green Light and Pass Energy On to Chlorophylls:|
Pigments found in plants and purple bacteria employed to provide protection from sun damage do more than just that. Researchers from the University of Toronto and University of Glasgow have found that they also help to harvest light energy during photosynthesis.
Carotenoids, the same pigments which give orange color to carrots and red to tomatoes, are often found together in plants with chlorophyll pigments that harvest solar energy. Their main function is photoprotection when rays of light from the sun are the most intense. However, a new study published in Science this week shows how they capture blue/green light and pass the energy on to chlorophylls, which absorb red light."This is an example of how nature exploits subtleties that we would likely overlook if we were designing a solar energy harvester," says Greg Scholes, the D.J. LeRoy Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Toronto and lead author of the study.A series of experiments showed that a special "dark state" of the carotenoid -- a hidden level not used for light absorption at all -- acts as a mediator to help pass the energy it absorbs very efficiently to a chlorophyll pigment.
The researchers performed broadband two-dimensional electronic spectroscopy -- a technique used to measure the electronic structure and its dynamics in atoms and molecules -- on light-harvesting proteins from purple bacteria. The aim was to characterize in more detail the whole sequence of quantum mechanical states of carotenoids that capture light and channel energy to bacteriochlorophyll molecules. The data revealed a signature of a special state in this sequence that was predicted decades earlier, and sought ever since. The results point to this state's role in mediating energy flow from carotenoid to bacteriochlorophyll.
"It is utterly counter-intuitive that a state not participating in light absorption is used in this manner," says Scholes. "It is amazing that nature uses so many aspects of a whole range of quantum mechanical states in carotenoid molecules, moreover, and puts those states to use in such diverse ways."The other significant aspect of the work is that the existence of these dark states has been speculated for decades and that the report by Scholes and his colleagues is the clearest evidence to date of their existence."We found a smoking gun for the state predicted decades ago and argued about ever since," says Scholes."The energy transfer processes in natural light-harvesting systems have been intensively studied for the last 60 years, yet certain details of the underlying mechanisms remain controversial. Our work really clears up this particular mystery," says Richard Cogdell, the Hooker Professor of Botany at the University of Glasgow, co-author of the report.
"It makes us look differently at the potential of molecules as building blocks," Scholes says. "Just imagine one molecule, a carotenoid, that can be used to harvest light, photoprotect, convert to a 'safety valve' in bright light to dissipate excitations, or even be employed as a heat transducer by purple bacteria such as are found in the black hole on the island of San Andros in the Bahamas."
3) Origin of Life: Power Behind Primordial Soup Discovered:
|Origin of Life: Power Behind Primordial Soup Discovered|
Researchers at the University of Leeds may have solved a key puzzle about how objects from space could have kindled life on Earth. While it is generally accepted that some important ingredients for life came from meteorites bombarding the early Earth, scientists have not been able to explain how that inanimate rock transformed into the building blocks of life.This new study shows how a chemical, similar to one now found in all living cells and vital for generating the energy that makes something alive, could have been created when meteorites containing phosphorus minerals landed in hot, acidic pools of liquids around volcanoes, which were likely to have been common across the early Earth.
"The mystery of how living organisms sprung out of lifeless rock has long puzzled scientists, but we think that the unusual phosphorus chemicals we found could be a precursor to the batteries that now power all life on Earth. But the fact that it developed simply, in conditions similar to the early Earth, suggests this could be the missing link between geology and biology," said Dr Terry Kee, from the University's School of Chemistry, who led the research.All life on Earth is powered by a process called chemiosmosis, where the chemical adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the rechargeable chemical 'battery' for life, is both broken down and re-formed during respiration to release energy used to drive the reactions of life, or metabolism. The complex enzymes required for both the creation and break down of ATP are unlikely to have existed on Earth during the period when life first developed. This led scientists to look for a more basic chemical with similar properties to ATP, but that does not require enzymes to transfer energy.
Phosphorus is the key element in ATP, and other fundamental building blocks of life like DNA, but the form it commonly takes on Earth, phosphorus (V), is largely insoluble in water and has a low chemical reactivity. The early Earth, however, was regularly bombarded by meteorites and interstellar dust rich in exotic minerals, including the far more reactive form of phosphorus, the iron-nickel-phosphorus mineral schreibersite.The scientists simulated the impact of such a meteorite with the hot, volcanically-active, early Earth by placing samples of the Sikhote-Alin meteorite, an iron meteorite which fell in Siberia in 1947, in acid taken from the Hveradalur geothermal area in Iceland. The rock was left to react with the acidic fluid in test tubes incubated by the surrounding hot spring for four days, followed by a further 30 days at room temperature.In their analysis of the resulting solution the scientists found the compound pyrophosphite, a molecular 'cousin' of pyrophosphate -- the part of ATP responsible for energy transfer. The scientists believe this compound could have acted as an earlier form of ATP in what they have dubbed 'chemical life'.
"Chemical life would have been the intermediary step between inorganic rock and the very first living biological cell. You could think of chemical life as a machine -a robot, for example, is capable of moving and reacting to surroundings, but it is not alive. With the aid of these primitive batteries, chemicals became organised in such a way as to be capable of more complex behaviour and would have eventually developed into the living biological structures we see today," said Dr Terry Kee.
The team from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL-Caltech) working on the Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars in August last year, has recently reported the presence of phosphorus on the Red Planet."If Curiosity has found phosphorus in one of the forms we produced in Iceland, this may indicate that conditions on Mars were at one point suitable for the development of life in much the same way we now believe it developed on Earth," added Dr Kee.The team at Leeds are now working with colleagues at JPL-Caltech to understand how these early batteries and the 'chemical life' they became part of might have developed into biological life. As part of this work they will be using facilities in the University of Leeds' Faculty of Engineering, currently used to test new fuel cells, to build a 'geological fuel cell' using minerals and gases common on the early Earth. Researchers will apply different chemicals to its surface and monitor the reactions take place and the chemical products which develop.The team also hope to travel to Disko Island in Greenland which is home to the Earth's only naturally-occurring source of schreibersite, the mineral found in the Sikhote-Alin meteorite. Here, they hope to repeat their experiments and show that the same chemicals develop in an entirely Earth-originated setting
4) A 'Light Switch' in Brain Illuminates Neural Networks: Scientists Can See Cells Communicate by Flipping a Neural Light Switch:
|A 'Light Switch' in Brain Illuminates Neural Networks: Scientists Can See Cells Communicate by Flipping a Neural Light Switch:|
There are cells in your brain that recognize very specific places, and have that as one of their main jobs. These cells, called place cells, are found in an area behind your temple called the hippocampus. While these cells must be sent information from nearby cells to do their job, so far no one has been able to determine exactly what kind of nerve cells, or neurons, work with place cells to craft the code they create for each location. Neurons come in many different types with specialized functions. Some respond to edges and borders, others to specific locations, others act like a compass and react to which way you turn your head.
Now, researchers at the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have combined a range of advanced techniques that enable them to identify which neurons communicate with each other at different times in the rat brain, and in doing so, create the animal's sense of location. Their findings are published in the 5 April issue of Science."A rat's brain is the size of a grape. Inside there are about fifty million neurons that are connected together at a staggering 450 billion places (roughly)," explains Professor Edvard Moser, director of the Kavli Institute. "Inside this grape-sized brain are areas on each side that are smaller than a grape seed, where we know that memory and the sense of location reside. This is also where we find the neurons that respond to specific places, the place cells. But from which cells do these place cells get information?"
The problem is, of course, that researchers cannot simply cut open the rat brain to see which cells have had contact. That would be the equivalent of taking a giant pile of cooked spaghetti, chopping it into little pieces, and then trying to figure out how the various spaghetti strands were tangled together before the pile was cut up.A job like this requires the use of a completely different set of neural tools, which is where the "light switches" come into play.Neurons share many similarities with electric cables when they send signals to each other. They send an electric current in one direction -- from the "body" of the neuron and down a long arm, called the axon, which goes to other nerve cells. Place cells thus get their small electric signals from a whole series of such arms.So how do light switches play into all of this?"What we did first was to give these nerve arms a harmless viral infection," Moser says. "We designed a unique virus that does not cause disease, but that acts as a pathway for delivering genes to specific cells. The virus creeps into the neurons, crawls up to the nucleus of the cell, and uses the nerve cell's own factory to make the genetic recipe that we gave to the virus to carry."
The genetic recipe enabled the cell to make the equivalent of a light switch. Our eyes actually contain the same kind of biological light switch, which allows us to see. The virus infection converts neurons that have previously existed only in darkness, deep inside the brain, to now be sensitive to light.Then the researchers inserted optical fibres in the rat's brain to transmit light to the different unidentified cells that now had light switches in them. They also implanted thin microelectrodes down between the cells so they could detect the signals sent through the axons every time the light from the optical fibre was turned on."Now we had everything set up, with light switches installed in cells around the place cells, a lamp, and a way to record the activity," Moser said.The researchers then turned the lights on and off more than ten thousand times in their rat lab partners, while they monitored and recorded the activity of hundreds of individual cells in the rats' grape-sized brains. The researchers did this research while the rats ran around in a metre-square box, gathering treats. As the rats explored their box and found the treats, the researchers were able to use the light-sensitive cells to figure out which cells were feeding information to the place cells as the rat's brain created the map of where the rat had been.
When the researchers put together all the information afterwards they concluded that there is a whole range of different specialized cells that together provide place cells their information. The brain's GPS -- its sense of place -- is created by signals from head direction cells, border cells, cells that have no known function in creating location points, and grid cells. Place cells thus receive both information about the rat's surroundings and landmarks, but also continuously update their own movement, which is actually independent on sensory input."One mystery is the role that the cells that are not part of the sense of direction play. They send signals to place cells, but what do they actually do?" wonders Moser."We also wonder how the cells in the hippocampus are able to sort out the various signals they receive. Do they 'listen' to all of the cells equally effectively all the time, or are there some cells that get more time than others to 'talk' to place cells?"
5 ) Deadly new bird flu vindicates controversial research:
|Deadly new bird flu vindicates controversial research|
Scientists in the Dutch city of Rotterdam know precisely what it takes for a bird flu to mutate into a potential human pandemic strain - because they've created just such mutant viruses in the laboratory. So as they watch with some trepidation the emergence in China of a strain of bird flu previously unknown in humans, they also argue it vindicates their controversial decision to conduct these risky experiments despite fierce opposition.Above all else, what the world needs to know about this new strain of H7N9 bird flu is how likely it is to be able to spread efficiently among human populations.And according to Ab Osterhaus, a world leading flu researcher who is head of viroscience of the Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, studies his team and another in the United States have been doing are the best way to find out."At the moment we don't know whether we should go for a full-blown alert or whether we can sit back and say this is just a minor thing," Osterhaus told Reuters in a telephone interview."(To answer that) we need to know what this virus needs to become transmissible."With 10 cases of the new H7N9 bird flu confirmed in people in China since Sunday, including four deaths, Beijing is mobilizing resources against the threat.Japan and Hong Kong said they had also stepped up vigilance against the virus, and Vietnam banned imports of Chinese poultry.
MAKING A MONSTER?
The scientific work that can answer key risk questions is known as "gain of function" or GOF research. Its aim is to identify combinations of genetic changes, or mutations, that allow an animal virus to jump to humans.Yet such work is highly controversial.When two teams of scientists announced in late 2011 they had found out how to make a another strain of bird flu - H5N1 - into a form that could spread between people, alarm bells rang so loudly at the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) that it took the unprecedented step of seeking to censor publication of the studies.In a series of GOF experiments, the scientists induced mutations into the H5N1 virus that made it transmissible among mammals through droplets in the air.The NSABB said it feared details of the work, carried out by Ron Fouchier at the Rotterdam lab and by a second team led by Yoshihiro Kawaoka at the University of Wisconsin, could fall into the wrong hands and be used for bioterrorism."The fear was that they were making a monster," said Wendy Barclay, a flu virologist at Imperial College London.An acrimonious debate ensued and flu researchers around the world agreed to a year-long moratorium on further experiments of this type until fears could be allayed.Yet throughout the moratorium, some scientists argued the research was vital to preparing for the next flu pandemic, and that to abandon it would leave the world in the dark when new flu strains emerged.
VIRUSES JUMP FROM ANIMALS TO HUMANS
Barclay, who was a signatory on an open letter in January from 40 scientists calling for an end to the moratorium on bird flu transmissibility research, says current events in China underline why."What this H7N9 emergence does is show for sure that flu will emerge at regular intervals from animal sources," she said."And it underscores the fact that for each virus, we don't know whether it will be readily transmissible between humans when it emerges, or whether it will turn out to be a zoonotic dead end because when it reaches the human host there are barriers it can't overcome."Some scientists, however, remain unconvinced of the value of deliberately manipulating viruses in laboratories - however secure they may be - to create and then analyze mutant flu strains that can spread between mammals.
Writing in the scientific journal Nature last week, Simon Wain-Hobson, chair of the Washington-based Foundation for Vaccine Research in the United States, accused flu researchers of going down a dangerous blind alley."The world has never been more densely populated," he wrote. "Is it appropriate for civilian scientists to make microbes more dangerous?"Osterhaus, who has looked at genetic sequencing data from the new H7N9 bird flu strain samples in China and found some worrisome mutations have already occurred in the H7N9 strain, says such concerns are far outweighed by the fear of not knowing the potential risk of an emerging new virus."This virus might be on the brink of gaining function of transmissibility (in humans). I think it's crucial to know the rules of the game."
Movies Release This Week:
1) 6 Souls:
After the death of her husband, Dr. Cara Harding's (Julianne Moore) faith in God has been shaken, but not her belief in science. In an attempt to open her up to accepting unexplainable psychiatric theories, her father introduces her to Adam, a patient with multiple personalities who takes on some of the physical characteristics of his other personalities. Cara quickly discovers that Adam’s other personalities are murder victims and the more she finds out about him and his past, the closer she and her loved ones are to becoming murder victims themselves.
2) Evil Dead:
Mia, a young woman struggling with sobriety, heads to a remote cabin with her brother and a group of friends, where the discovery of a Book of the Dead leads to danger and horror.
3) Stevie Nicks: In Your Dreams:
|Stevie Nicks: In Your Dreams|
Decadent rock star Stevie Nicks has entranced millions of fans worldwide with her poetic lyrics, sultry singing and gypsy signature fashion. In 2010 Nicks began to record a new solo album, "In Your Dreams", produced by former Eurythmics mastermind Dave Stewart. Here, we get an intimate look at the creative collaboration of Stewart and Nicks in her home studio.
A clown comes back from the dead to haunt those who took his life during a fatal party mishap.
5) Silver Circle:
Silver Circle" focuses on a group of Underground Rebels led by the charismatic Zoe Taylor (played by Philana Mia). Under Zoe’s leadership, the Rebels outmaneuver the oppressive Federal Reserve while creating a guerilla currency based on silver. Following a HousStab (Dept. of Housing Stability) protest where one of the Rebels is killed, Zoe confronts a straight-laced federal agent: Jay Nelson (played by De'Lon Grant). While helplessly falling for the strident and beautiful rebel leader, he eventually begins to question his own allegiance to the Fed. Ultimately Jay must decide whether to remain loyal to the Fed or join forces with Zoe and the rebels to create a powerful strike against tyranny.
Political News This Week:
1) Autopsy shows SFI leader had forehead injury and broken jaw, say reports:
|Autopsy shows SFI leader had forehead injury and broken jaw, say reports|
According to reports, Gupta had an injury to the back of his head and had injury marks on other parts of his body was well and that all wounds were sustained before he died.Claiming that the police had no role in the death of the SFI leader, Trinamool Congress MP Derek O'Brien said on Wednesday that CCTV footage suggested that it was an accident. "Let me categorically state that the police in West Bengal had a mandate from 1977 till 2011 to filter all their actions through a political prism. Thankfully in the last twenty months, that mandate has been changed. So, they can work without any political pressure. Some of the CCTV footage suggest that this is an accident," O'Brien said."Any accidental death is regrettable and tragic. When a precious young person's life is snuffed out, the loss is even bigger for our society," he said.
"We cannot bring the boy back sadly but what we can do is to stand by his family in their moment of grief and in the future," O'Brien said.Hundreds of activists took to the streets in Kolkata Wednesday accompanying the funeral procession of the SFI leader who died in police custody after participating in a protest.The West Bengal Human Rights Commission has ordered a probe into his death.Gupta, 24, a post-graduate student of the Rabindra Bharati University and West Bengal state committee member of the SFI, died Tuesday evening at a state-run hospital amid allegations that a baton charge by police led to his fatal injury.Police, however, said that the activist died after he crashed into a lamp post while being taken to jail. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who visited the hospital Wednesday, said the incident was "unfortunate". She added that many activists of her party had been killed when they hit lamp posts while travelling by trains.
She said: "Any death is unfortunate. I shall not speak any more on this."She assured all help to the bereaved family.Gupta's body, wrapped in a red flag of the Communist Party of India-NMarxist, was carried in a flower-bedecked hearse to the Netaji Nagar College, where he was general secretary of the students' council. Grieving students and teachers offered floral tributes to the youth leader amid cries of "Lal Salaam".The body was then taken to Gupta's residence at New Garia on the city's southern outskirts.
"He was mercilessly beaten by police while the arrested students were being taken in a bus to the Presidency Correctional Home (jail). Policemen on the street rained batons on the activists, including Sudipto. He lost control, fell from the bus and collapsed after crashing against a lamp post," said an SFI activist, who was an eye-witness."Gupta was hit on his head so hard that one of his eyes popped out," state SFI joint secretary Shatarup Ghosh, also an eyewitness, said.
The incident occurred when hundreds of SFI activists were participating in a law violation programme to protest the state government's decision to stall students' union elections at all educational institutions for the next six months.Taking suo motu cognizance of Gupta's death, the West Bengal Human Rights Commission Wednesday ordered the city police commissioner to probe the matter and submit a report within seven days.
"The commission has asked the city police commissioner (Surajit Purakayastha) to initiate a probe headed by an assistant commissioner of police and submit the report within seven days," the commission's joint secretary Sujay Haldar said.The commission has also formed its own investigating team and will examine witnesses and other evidence to probe the cause of Gupta's death. The report will be submitted to the commission in seven days.
2) Modi says people want him to pay back 'India's debts':
|Modi says people want him to pay back 'India's debts|
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi Thursday said he wants to pay back debts he owes to the country.At a book release function here, Modi said: "Log kah rahe hain Narendra Modi ne Gujarat ka karz chuka diya hai, ab Hindustan ka karz chukange." (People are saying I have repaid the debt of Gujarat and they are now asking me to repay the debt I owe to India)."It is not just Modi but every Indian who owes a lot to India. We must make use of every opportunity that comes our way to repay our debts to our motherland," he added.
Modi did not explain what he meant but his supporters have been demanding that he be made the prime ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Modi's statement came on a day when Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi made it clear that he was not in the race to be the prime minister.
3) Suspicious vessel with satellite phone intercepted near Mumbai:
|Indian Coast Guard and navy had kept their patrol ships and an aircraft ready to intercept the vessel that was in touch with one Usma in Dubai who had sent the goods to Mumbai."|
A ship coming from Dubai was intercepted just off the Mumbai coast and five people on board were arrested after Coast Guard officials were alerted.The vessel was allegedly carrying a satellite phone.NDTV reported that after the intelligence agencies intercepted satellite phone conversation to patrol choppers and a consignment being delivered to India.When Coast Guard officials stopped the ship, the crew onboard threw the satellite phone in the sea.
|Suspicious vessel with satellite phone intercepted near Mumbai|
Acting on an intelligence tip-off, the Indian Coast Guard and navy had kept their patrol ships and an aircraft ready to intercept the vessel that was in touch with one Usma in Dubai who had sent the goods to Mumbai."The dhow was using the banned 'Thuraya' system to communicate with handlers in Dubai and India," an Indian Coast Guard official said adding that the communication equipment was thrown overboard by the crew when they saw a patrol ship approaching.Goats, foreign cigarettes, mobile accessories and a television set were found on board during a search of the vessel. Police are interrogating the crew. This is the second such incident reported in the past 48 hours, officials said.On Wednesday, customs authorities investigated a cargo ship, Bruno Schulte, in the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, suspected to be transporting "hazardous" goods.Some hazardous chemicals carried by the ship were reportedly unloaded in China before it was allowed to resume its onward voyage.The five member crew was handed over to Mumbai police for further interrogation.Coast Guard official also found 28 live goats on 'MSV Yusufi'.The crew was in touch with a person named Usman in Dubai, for whom the consignment was being delivered in Mumbai.The ship was headed to Mumbai from Dubai.
4) Haryana IAS officer Khemka transferred again:
|Haryana IAS officer Khemka transferred again|
Senior IAS officer Ashok Khemka, who had ordered a scrutiny of land deals of UPA chief Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra, was Thursday transferred by the Haryana government to an inconsequential post. Khemka, now managing director of the Haryana Seeds Development Corp (HSDC), will now be secretary of Haryana Archives, which is responsible for preserving public and private records in the state.The latest transfer came after Khemka highlighted irregularities in HSDC, leaving the Bhupinder Singh Hooda government embarrassed.
Khemka has been transferred almost 45 times in his two-decade-long career as an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer.
He hit national headlines in October last year when he cancelled a mutation of a multi-crore-rupee land deal between Vadra's company Sky Light Hospitality and realty giant DLF.The officer even ordered a probe into all land deals done by Vadra and his companies in Haryana's Gurgaon, Faridabad, Mewat and Palwal districts since 2005.After Khemka's action Oct 8, the Hooda government went into an overdrive to undo it. Within days, the district authorities of four districts gave a "clean chit" to the land deals done by Vadra and his companies.
The Hooda government set up a committee of bureaucrats to look into the action taken by Khemka. The committee held that Khemka's actions as director-general of land consolidation were not in accordance with laid down procedures.Khemka questioned the rationale of the committee in submitting its report without even seeking his views on the action taken in the land deals.An unfazed Khemka also claimed that action taken by him as director general of consolidation could only be reviewed by the high court and the state government did not have the jurisdiction to undo it.Khemka was removed from his post Oct 11 by the Hooda government, which sought to project it as a routine transfer.Vadra and his companies had made land purchases of nearly 170 acres in Gurgaon, Palwal, Mewat and Faridabad districts since 2005.
5) Fidel Castro advises friend North Korea against war:
|Fidel Castro advises friend North Korea against war|
Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro warned ally North Korea against war on Friday and described the current tensions on the Korean Peninsula as one of the "gravest risks" for nuclear holocaust since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.Saying he spoke as a friend, Castro wrote in Cuban state media that North Korea, led by 30-year-old Kim Jong-un, had shown the world its technical prowess and now it was time to remember its duties to others.North Korea, which along with Cuba is one of the world's last communist countries, has been ratcheting up pressure by declaring war on neighbor South Korea and threatening to stage a nuclear strike on the United States.
Few observers believe it will actually attack anyone, but Castro has become an anti-nuclear advocate in recent years."The Democratic People's Republic of Korea was always friendly with Cuba, as Cuba always has been and will continue to be with her," Castro wrote, using an almost paternalistic tone."Now that it has demonstrated its technical and scientific advances, we remind it of its duties to other countries who have been great friends and that it would not be just to forget that such a war would affect in a special way more than 70 percent of the world's population," said the 86-year-old, who turned Cuba communist after taking power in a 1959 revolution.Castro called the present situation on the Korean Peninsula "incredible and absurd," but said "it has to do with one of the gravest risks of nuclear war since the Crisis of October (Cuban Missile Crisis), 50 years ago."He led Cuba through the October 1962 showdown when the United States and Soviet Union nearly went to war over the placement of Soviet nuclear missiles on Cuba, 90 miles (144 km) south of Florida.
At one point, Castro wrote a letter to Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev urging a nuclear attack on the United States, which he assumed was about to invade the Caribbean island.Cooler heads prevailed as Khruschev and President John F. Kennedy reached an agreement in which the Soviet missiles were removed and the United States promised never to invade Cuba.Castro ruled Cuba for 49 years before age and ill health forced him to step down in 2008.He was succeeded as president by younger brother Raul Castro, 81, but remains a power behind the scenes and writes occasional columns for Cuban press.The elder Castro also said the United States had the responsibility to prevent war, which he said if unleashed would make President Barack Obama look like "the most sinister person in the history of the United States."
Sports News This Week:
1) Bollywood glitz takes over IPL 2013 opening ceremony
|Captains of All IPL Teams|
Bollywood super stars Shah Rukh Khan , Pitbull, Deepika Padukone and Katrina Kaif dancing together to the tune of "give me everything tonight".No, it wasn't one of your midnight dreams. It was a dream-come-true at the Yuba Bharati Kirangan on Tuesday. Terming the IPL opening ceremony a 'gala' would be an understatement.It was madness personified as some of the best known Bollywood stars descended here to signal the start of the sixth edition of the IPL.
|Bollywood glitz takes over IPL 2013 opening ceremony|
Excitement was writ large on the face of every performer and it came as no surprise that the 50,000-odd energetic spectators present too matched the performers, cheering them on from the word go. It was a night when the Kolkata culture got as much prominence as the global appeal of the IPL.If Kolkata's very own Bappi Lahiri set the stage on fire with his 'disco songs' from the 1980s, American rapper Pitbull matched him step for step. As promised, the show opened with Rabindra Sangeet and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee taking centre stage.
|Shah Rukh`s Performance at IPL Opening|
Even as the dancers performed to the song, Shah Rukh recited Rabindranath Tagore's famous poem 'where the mind is without fear and the head is held highâ¦' While the dancers performed on the stage, another set of dancers formed the shape of 'Om', the mystical sound considered to be sacred, at the ceremony whose theme was 'six'.After the Rabindra Sangeet, flying drummers, cheerleaders, gymnasts, dancers, acrobats, and stilt walkers, amongst others, performed amidst thunderous cheers from the spectators.Before the international flavour took the 'desi' turn, it was back to cricketing stuff as a huge balloon, with the IPL logo printed on it, was released in the air to connect with the nine smaller balloons, representing the nine teams, already floating in the sky.While the balloons met up in the air, a dancer tied to a balloon glided down to hand over the IPL trophy to Gautam Gambhir, captain of defending champions KKR .
|Katrina at IPL Opening Ceremony|
After this, Gambhir put the trophy back in play as the captains of the nine teams came up on stage to sign the ICC Spirit of Cricket pledge, starting with Chennai Super Kings skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.Soon it was back to entertainment as in came Deepika Padukone amidst loud cheers. If she danced to the numbers from her latest Bollywood movies like 'Cocktail', Katrina was not one to be left behind.
She had the crowd grooving crazily as she did a belly dance from her movie 'Ek Tha Tiger'.There were no prizes for guessing as to who got the loudest cheer. No, it wasn't Pitbull. It was the one and only King Khan. And while the other stars performed to the tune of a couple of songs, SRK went the whole hog till he could not breathe properly anymore.It wasn't all. Pitbull was yet to hit the stage. And when he played 'you put it down like New York city' and 'give me everything tonight' it seemed like the whole stadium would come down.While he played live for an additional 20 minutes for those present, the opening ceremony ended with fireworks as SRK, Katrina and Deepika danced to the tunes of 'Gangnam Style'.The IPL matches will start from Wednesday, with Kolkata clashing with Delhi Daredevils at the Eden Gardens here.
2) New and improved Tiger back on the prowl at Augusta:
|New and improved Tiger back on the prowl at Augusta|
Those expecting to see the old Tiger Woods back on the prowl chasing a fifth Masters title among the azaleas and majestic Georgia pines at Augusta National next week are surely to be left disappointed.That is because this is the new Tiger Woods, complete with a new swing, new love interest and new attitude.
"I don't want to become as good as I once was. No, I don't. I want to become better," declared Woods.At a point in most careers where most athletes' best years are behind them, Woods has set about redefining the parameters of his sport, insisting that his best is yet to come.
With the number one world ranking back beside his name and three PGA Tour wins from five starts this season, Woods's play is certainly providing very compelling evidence that this may indeed be true.But while all signs point to Woods being back at his best after years of struggling with injuries, personal strife and a tedious swing overhaul his comeback will not be complete in many minds, including his own, until he wins another major.It has been nearly five years since Woods celebrated his last major success at the 2008 U.S. Open and eight since he slipped into his fourth green jacket as Masters champion.Jack Nicklaus's record of 18 majors that has been Woods's 'Holy Grail' has stalled at 14.
But with the year's first major set for April 11-14 at Augusta National, Woods appears to have his game back in top gear and ready to resume his quest.
"Jack did it (win) until he was 46," said Woods. "I just feel like over the years he was the most consistent at putting himself in position to win major championships and win tournaments."You start realizing that it gets a little more difficult as you get older to balance."That's just life."He was better at that than anybody else and hopefully over the course of my career, when all is said and done, I was pretty good at it as well."
Always a favorite at Augusta, Woods has been in brilliant form winning his last two events.In both those victories Woods putting has been sensational while the swing changes he has made are finally paying dividends.But the biggest change says Woods, is that he is finally healthy again."I'm getting there. I'm getting there," said Woods. "If you looked over my career when I've taken breaks and come back, I've come back better. That's just how I've always been."There's a certain method to how I do it, practicing and playing and playing more."Woods may not be the intimidating force of nature he once was or capable of striking fear into playing partners with a simple glare but his form has caught the attention of fellow golfers, including Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy who he replaced as world number one.
"I've always said he's been one of the greatest fighters on a golf course," said McIlroy. "If things aren't going his way he'll dig in and get whatever he can out of a round."It seems like most weeks he comes out, he's hitting the ball very solidly and anyone that's going to beat him is going to have to play very, very well.
3) Davis Cup: Somdev puts India 1-0 ahead :
|Davis Cup: Somdev puts India 1-0 ahead|
Somdev Devvarman, though nowhere close to his best, still carried far too much ammunition as he brushed aside Indonesian Wisnu Adi Nugroho 6-1, 6-2, 6-2, in the first singles tennis match to give India a 1-0 lead in the Asia-Oceania Davis Cup Group 1 relegation play-off here Friday.
On a warm and humid afternoon, the 28-year-old Devvarman, ranked 208, was in a different league and though he turned error-prone towards the fag end of the match, Nugroho could not capitalise and lost rather tamely.
The slow-paced match had little to offer by way of thrills as Devvarman was rarely in trouble and virtually did as he pleased with Nugroho clearly looking out of depth.Devvarman began well with an ace in the very first game of the match to set the pattern. He broke 1774-ranked Nugroho twice in the fourth and sixth games to wrap up the set in good time.The trend continued in the second with the Indonesian, unable to find his feet, again broken twice in the first and seventh as Devvarman raced to a 2-0 lead.In the third set, Nugroho showed some fight and even had break points with Devvarman appearing rather wayward. But the Indian ace quickly regrouped and with two breaks of serve in the first and third games, closed the match -- though not before saving two break points in the eighth.