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Saturday, 29 June 2013

Subhaditya News Channel Presents Science, Movie, Political and Sports News of This Week (49)

Animated Collage of NewsWeek(49)

New Headline Collage of NewsWeek (49)

Science News This Week:

Science News

1) Excited, but cold: Scientists unveil the secret of a reaction for prebiotic synthesis of organic matter:

 Excited, but cold: Scientists unveil the secret of a reaction for prebiotic synthesis of organic matter:

How is it that a complex organism evolves from a pile of dead matter? How can lifeless materials become organic molecules that are the bricks of animals and plants? Scientists have been trying to answer these questions for ages. Researchers at the Max Planck Institut für Kohlenforschung have now disclosed the secret of a reaction that has to do with the synthesis of complex organic matter before the origin of life. Since the 1960's it has been well known that when concentrated hydrogen cyanide (HCN) is irradiated by UV light, it forms an imidazole intermediate that is a key substance for synthesis of nucleobases and nucleotides in abiotic environment. The way how UV radiation acts in this reaction to produce complex organic matter was, however, never clarified. Dr. Mario Barbatti and his colleagues in Germany, India and Czech Republic have now shown how this process occurs via computer simulations.

Using diverse computational-chemistry methods, the team has arrived at astonishing conclusions: For example that the reaction does not take place in the hot spot created by the solar radiation. "This has nothing to do with heat, but with electrons", says Mario Barbatti.The reaction proceeds through a series of electronically excited intermediates. The molecules get into the "electronic excited state" because of the UV radiation, which means that their electrons are distributed in a much different way than the usual. That changes the molecule's attitudes. "But this takes some time", says Mario Barbatti. They showed that the radiation energy is dissipated too fast, and because of that each reactant molecule absorbs hundreds of UV photons before it finally gets converted into the imidazole intermediate.

"This is very inefficient – and quite extraordinary", says Mario Barbatti. That is why it was quite challenging to comprehend the reaction, explains the physicist from Brazil. He and his colleagues have calculated a lot of possible intermediates, tried – and discarded most of them. Finally they found out that there is only one single pathway that is consistent with the fast energy dissipation and previous experimental observations.But why did they work on the computer? Isn't it the case that chemical reactions are worked on in laboratories? "Some intermediates are too elusive to analyze them in the laboratory – they disappear before we may see them", Barbatti explains. Computational Chemistry allows the scientists to comprehend the reactions in a theoretical way.

"As I said before, this reaction has nothing to do with heat", says Barbatti. The transformation works in a cold environment, as in comets and in terrestrial ices, where spontaneous HCN polymerization is most expected to occur.The team has published their results, which help to understand the role of solar radiation on the origin of life, in the recent issue of Angewandte Chemie.

2) News in Brief: Cradled galaxies betray violent past :

 News in Brief: Cradled galaxies betray violent past :

Hubble snaps ‘the Penguin’ and its egg-shaped companion . The Hubble Space Telescope’s latest portrait of deep space reveals two galaxies interacting in a scene reminiscent of a penguin safeguarding its egg. But the placid pair — collectively called Arp 142 — actually bears the scars of a destructive past. The galaxy NGC 2936 (top) was once a spiral like the Milky Way, until the gravitational pull from the egg-shaped galaxy NGC 2937 (bottom) warped it into avian form. Remnants of NGC 2936’s spiral arms radiate out from the bird’s eye, which once formed the galaxy’s core. The system lies 326 million light-years away in the constellation Hydra.

3) Ancient horse's DNA fills in picture of equine evolution:

ncient horse's DNA fills in picture of equine evolution:

A frozen fossil of a horse has yielded the oldest genome sequence ever compiled. Clocking in at about 700,000 years old, the horse DNA is nearly 10 times older than the previous record holder, the genome of an 80,000-year-old Denisovan, an extinct evolutionary cousin of Neandertals and modern people.The extreme age of the horse’s genetic material has raised hopes that scientists can find even more primitive DNA, perhaps a million years old or more. The ancient DNA also provides scientists with some of the first clues about the genetic changes that accompanied horse domestication.An international team of researchers deciphered the genome of the horse from the Middle Pleistocene, along with those of a 43,000-year-old horse, a modern donkey and five contemporary domestic horse breeds. Using those data, the researchers pushed back the emergence of the ancestor of horses, zebras, asses and donkeys to about 4 million to 4.5 million years ago. That makes the ancestor twice as old as previously thought, the team reports in the June 27 Nature.

The study also hints at both the origin and future of the last truly wild lineage of horses.Prior to the new work, researchers had pulled snippets of DNA that were hundreds of thousands of years old from cave bear fossils and ice cores. Those samples’ molecules were far smaller than the billions of chemical units, or nucleotides, that make up a genome, an organism’s complete set of genetic instructions. “It was literally nothing more than a few nucleotides,” says study coauthor Ludovic Orlando, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Copenhagen.  So Orlando and his colleagues were astounded by how well preserved the biological molecules were in the ancient horse foot bone. The fossil was found in permafrost at the Thistle Creek site in the Canadian Yukon.  

Experts on ancient DNA say that natural deep freezes such as permafrost are the place to look for really old specimens. “They took advantage of the best possible conditions,” says Carles Lalueza-Fox, of the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona. But, he says, the question remains: “How far back can you go in nonpermafrost environments?”The study may help settle a debate over whether a Mongolian equine called the Przewalski’s (pronounced sheh-val-skees) horse is really wild and not domesticated, like all other horse breeds. Named for a Russian colonel who led an expedition in 1881 that found them, Przewalski’s horses were extinct in the wild for decades until a captive breeding program reintroduced them to Mongolia in the mid-1990s.

Some experts consider these sturdy steppe animals a separate species (Equus ferus przewalskii) and the last wild horse. Others insist the wild horses are a subspecies, a feral offshoot of domestic horses (Equus ferus caballus) like the American mustang, Chincoteague pony or Australian brumby. The debate has been difficult to resolve because, until Orlando and his colleagues deciphered the genomes of the two prehistoric horses, scientists had no examples of wild ancestral horses to compare with Przewalski’s and domestic horses.By lining up the DNA from the ancient and modern horses, the researchers concluded that Przewalski’s horse is a separate, truly wild species that split sometime between 38,000 and 72,000 years ago from the lineage that led to domestic horses. Since that time the two groups have not interbred, the researchers found. “It is 100 percent wild. There’s not domestic genetics present in that horse.”Despite stemming from only 13 or 14 animals in breeding programs in zoos, Przewalski’s horses have retained more genetic diversity than the domestic horse breeds the team examined. That diversity is good news for conservation efforts. “It might mean we could have a very good chance at saving that horse population,” Orlando says.Meanwhile, the researchers are gleaning information about horse domestication by identifying genes that differ among domestic horses, Przewalski’s horses and the fossils. So far, genes involved in production of blood and sperm, muscle organization and coat color show signs of being important for domestication.

4) DNA Found Outside Genes Plays Largely Unknown, Potentially Vital Roles: Thousands of Previously Unknown RNA Molecules Identified:

DNA Found Outside Genes Plays Largely Unknown, Potentially Vital Roles: Thousands of Previously Unknown RNA Molecules Identified:

A new UC San Francisco study highlights the potential importance of the vast majority of human DNA that lies outside of genes within the cell. The researchers found that about 85 percent of these stretches of DNA make RNA, a molecule that increasingly is being found to play important roles within cells. They also determined that this RNA-making DNA is more likely than other non-gene DNA regions to be associated with inherited disease risks.
The study, published in the free online journal PLOS Genetics on June 20, 2013, is one of the most extensive examinations of the human genome ever undertaken to see which stretches of DNA outside of genes make RNA and which do not.The researchers -- senior author and RNA expert Michael McManus, PhD, UCSF associate professor of microbiology and immunology and a member of the UCSF Diabetes Center, graduate student Ian Vaughn, and postdoctoral fellow Matthew Hangauer, PhD -- identified thousands of previously unknown, unique RNA sequences.

"Now that we realize that all these RNA molecules exist and have identified them, the struggle is to understand which are going to have a function that is important," McManus said. "It may take decades to determine this."The RNA most familiar from textbooks is the messenger RNA that is transcribed from DNA in genes and that encodes the amino acid building blocks of proteins. The transcription of messenger RNA from DNA is a key step in protein production. The rest of the DNA on the cell's chromosomes was once thought not to be transcribed into RNA, and was referred to as junk DNA.Today, scientists estimate that only 1.5 percent of the genome consists of genes, McManus said. But over the last two decades other kinds of RNA have been identified that are transcribed from DNA outside of gene regions. Some of these RNA molecules play important biological roles, but scientists debate whether few or most of these RNA molecules are likely to be biologically significant.Among the RNA transcribed by the DNA outside of genes, the UCSF researchers identified thousands of previously unknown RNA sequences of a type called lincRNA. So far, only a handful of lincRNA molecules are known to play significant roles in human biology, McManus said.Previous research has shown that lincRNAs can have diverse functions. Some control the activity of genes that encode proteins. Others guide protein production in alternative ways.

"RNA is the Swiss army knife of molecules -- it can have so many different functions," McManus said.The development of RNA-sequencing techniques in recent years has made possible the collection of massive amounts of RNA data for the first time.To identify unique RNA molecules that are transcribed from human DNA, the UCSF researchers re-examined data on RNA transcription that they gathered from more than 125 data sets, obtained in recent years by scientists who studied 24 types of human body tissues. The new study represents one of the largest collections of lincRNAs gathered to date.

5) Solar Power Heads in a New Direction: Thinner:

Solar Power Heads in a New Direction: Thinner:

Most efforts at improving solar cells have focused on increasing the efficiency of their energy conversion, or on lowering the cost of manufacturing. But now MIT researchers are opening another avenue for improvement, aiming to produce the thinnest and most lightweight solar panels possible. Such panels, which have the potential to surpass any substance other than reactor-grade uranium in terms of energy produced per pound of material, could be made from stacked sheets of one-molecule-thick materials such as graphene or molybdenum disulfide.Jeffrey Grossman, the Carl Richard Soderberg Associate Professor of Power Engineering at MIT, says the new approach "pushes towards the ultimate power conversion possible from a material" for solar power. Grossman is the senior author of a new paper describing this approach, published in the journal Nano Letters.

Although scientists have devoted considerable attention in recent years to the potential of two-dimensional materials such as graphene, Grossman says, there has been little study of their potential for solar applications. It turns out, he says, "they're not only OK, but it's amazing how well they do."
Using two layers of such atom-thick materials, Grossman says, his team has predicted solar cells with 1 to 2 percent efficiency in converting sunlight to electricity, That's low compared to the 15 to 20 percent efficiency of standard silicon solar cells, he says, but it's achieved using material that is thousands of times thinner and lighter than tissue paper. The two-layer solar cell is only 1 nanometer thick, while typical silicon solar cells can be hundreds of thousands of times that. The stacking of several of these two-dimensional layers could boost the efficiency significantly."Stacking a few layers could allow for higher efficiency, one that competes with other well-established solar cell technologies," says Marco Bernardi, a postdoc in MIT's Department of Materials Science who was the lead author of the paper. Maurizia Palummo, a senior researcher at the University of Rome visiting MIT through the MISTI Italy program, was also a co-author.
For applications where weight is a crucial factor -- such as in spacecraft, aviation or for use in remote areas of the developing world where transportation costs are significant -- such lightweight cells could already have great potential, Bernardi says.

Pound for pound, he says, the new solar cells produce up to 1,000 times more power than conventional photovoltaics. At about one nanometer (billionth of a meter) in thickness, "It's 20 to 50 times thinner than the thinnest solar cell that can be made today," Grossman adds. "You couldn't make a solar cell any thinner."
This slenderness is not only advantageous in shipping, but also in ease of mounting solar panels. About half the cost of today's panels is in support structures, installation, wiring and control systems, expenses that could be reduced through the use of lighter structures.In addition, the material itself is much less expensive than the highly purified silicon used for standard solar cells -- and because the sheets are so thin, they require only minuscule amounts of the raw materials.
John Hart, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, chemical engineering and art and design at the University of Michigan, says, "This is an exciting new approach to designing solar cells, and moreover an impressive example of how complementary nanostructured materials can be engineered to create new energy devices." Hart, who will be joining the MIT faculty this summer but had no involvement in this research, adds that, "I expect the mechanical flexibility and robustness of these thin layers would also be attractive."

The MIT team's work so far to demonstrate the potential of atom-thick materials for solar generation is "just the start," Grossman says. For one thing, molybdenum disulfide and molybdenum diselenide, the materials used in this work, are just two of many 2-D materials whose potential could be studied, to say nothing of different combinations of materials sandwiched together. "There's a whole zoo of these materials that can be explored," Grossman says. "My hope is that this work sets the stage for people to think about these materials in a new way."While no large-scale methods of producing molybdenum disulfide and molybdenum diselenide exist at this point, this is an active area of research. Manufacturability is "an essential question," Grossman says, "but I think it's a solvable problem."
An additional advantage of such materials is their long-term stability, even in open air; other solar-cell materials must be protected under heavy and expensive layers of glass. "It's essentially stable in air, under ultraviolet light, and in moisture," Grossman says. "It's very robust."The work so far has been based on computer modeling of the materials, Grossman says, adding that his group is now trying to produce such devices. "I think this is the tip of the iceberg in terms of utilizing 2-D materials for clean energy" he says.

Movie Release This Week:


1) White House Down:

White House Down

A Secret Service agent is tasked with saving the life of the U.S. President after the White House is overtaken by a paramilitary group.

2) Redemption :


Reeling from a traumatic tour of duty in Afghanistan, Joey (Jason Statham), an ex-Special Forces soldier, returns to London to face another kind of war: life on the streets as a damaged, homeless veteran. In an attempt to rehabilitate himself, Joey assumes another man’s identity and seeks the aid of Sister Cristina (Agata Buzek), a young nun who works at an inner-city parish. But Joey’s expert training as a soldier marks him as a valuable asset, and he soon finds himself caught in the dark web of London’s criminal underworld. Struggling to keep hold of his integrity, Joey offers his profits to those who need it most. But when he learns his missing girlfriend was brutally murdered by a ruthless kingpin, he risks everything for bloody revenge, hurtling down a deadly path that promises to destroy him completely...or be his last and only hope at redemption.

3) Byzantium:


Two young women arrive in a nameless British town and claim to be 200-year-old vampires, local teachers and parents try to counsel the girls to get to the bottom of their delusions. However, when people start disappearing, people in town must confront the possibility that the two women are, in fact, what they say they are.

4) 100 Bloody Acres:

100 Bloody Acres

Brothers Reg and Lindsay Morgan are struggling to keep their organic blood and bone fertilizer business in motion. Their secret “recipe” for success (using dead car crash victims in their product) was a huge boon to business, but lately supply has been gravely low. Months have passed since their last find, and an important new customer is now waiting on a delivery. When junior partner Reg (Damon Herriman of Justified) stumbles upon 3 travelers stranded on a remote country road, he cooks up a radical solution to their problem, and a way of finally gaining the respect of his bossy big brother (Angus Sampson). But when Reg starts to fall for Sophie, one of the intended victims, things get complicated…

A bloody good time, the Cairnes’ brothers witty horror-comedy blends sly Australian humor, gory fun, and a clever storyline that gives “recycling” a whole new context.

5) The Heat:

The Heat

Uptight FBI special agent Sarah Ashburn is paired with testy Boston cop Shannon Mullins in order to take down a ruthless drug lord. The hitch: neither woman has ever had a partner -- or a friend for that matter.

Political News This Week:

Political News

1) Chopper makes emergency landing in Uttarakhand:

Chopper makes emergency landing in Uttarakhand

A helicopter made an emergency landing in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand's Harsil town Friday, an official said.
The Pawan Hans helicopter developed a technical fault as it was landing in Harsil town, an Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) official said Friday.

"There is no report of any casualties in this incident. The private chopper at the time of landing developed a technical fault, made an emergency landing," ITBP spokesperson Deepak Kumar Pandey told IANS.

On Tuesday, Mi-17 V5 helicopter crashed carrying 20 personnel while returning from a rescue mission in Uttarakhand

On Tuesday, Mi-17 V5 helicopter crashed carrying 20 personnel while returning from a rescue mission in Uttarakhand.

2) Uttarakhand: Over 1000 still stranded, rescue operations continue:

Uttarakhand: Over 1000 still stranded, rescue operations continue

Even as rescue operations continue across the flood ravaged areas of Uttarakhand, 1000 people are still stranded in Pittoragarh, and a total of 2395 villages in the area have been affected. According to the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), communication to most areas has been established and there are no reports of an epidemic in any part of the state.

Rescue Operation By Indian Army in Uttarakhand

3) Uttarakhand: Mass cremations begin, 3,500 await evacuation, death toll set to rise:

Uttarakhand: Mass cremations begin, 3,500 await evacuation, death toll set to rise:

With the weather clearing a bit and a threat of epidemic looming large, mass cremations of bodies of people killed in the floods caused by unprecedented rainfall in Uttarakhand finally began in Kedarnath today, even as 3,500 people waited to be rescued 11 days after the disaster.

As 1,000 more stranded people were evacuated from Badrinath and Harshil sectors by air and road routes in rain and fog, IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne on a morale boosting mission to Uttarakhand after the IAF chopper crash pledged to continue with rescue efforts and hoped to wrap it up in the next few days. "The mass cremation of bodies in Kedarnath, which was being put off again and again for the past two days due to bad weather was finally taken up this afternoon, " IAS officer Ravinath Raman said from Guptkashi. The temple town of Kedarnath was the epicentre of destruction. However, the number of bodies cremated were not immediately known.

Around 3,500 people are still waiting to be evacuated from Harsil and Badrinath areas, an Army release said. Around one lakh stranded people have been rescued so far since the disaster struck the hill state on June 15.Browne said if the IAF, which is part of the multi-agency operation that also included the Army, ITBP and NDMA, got three to four days of good weather, it will be able to complete its mission.

"If the weather starts improving by Friday or so, then by Monday, Tuesday we should have all this (task) finished," he said. "We are over the hill", he told reporters in Gauchar, the forward base for the rescue choppers."Operations are going to continue. In fact, most of the work has already been done. It is now a question of getting the people out from Badrinath and the Harsil sector," he said, adding, "Our rotors will not stop churning. That means, we will continue with the job till get the people out."

4) Man-made reasons for Uttarakhand disaster:

Man-made reasons for Uttarakhand disaster

Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, two hill states in the Himalayan range, are so far the worst hit by the extreme rains that struck northern India in the wake of monsoons that set in early this year. Media reports say nearly 60 persons have died in Uttarakhand, and an estimated 60,000 pilgrims are stranded. Heavy rainfall has wreaked havoc on the region because of the fragile nature of the Himalayan range and poor soil stability in its steep slopes. But it is man-made factors that have compounded the scale of the disaster. Unabated expansion of hydro-power projects and construction of roads to accommodate ever-increasing tourism, especially religious tourism, are also major causes for the unprecedented scale of devastation, say experts.

"The valleys of the Yamuna, the Ganga and the Alaknanda witness heavy traffic of tourists. For this, the government has to construct new roads and widen the existing ones," says Maharaj Pandit, professor with the Department of Environmental Sciences in Delhi University. He says that a study should be conducted to assess the carrying capacity of the Himalaya and development should be planned accordingly.

Roads destabilising mountains

"A new (mountain) range like the Himalaya will remain steady if not tampered with much. But the huge expansion of roads and transport is bringing the mountains in Uttarakhand down," says Pandit. Road, he says, is a major destabilising factor for a mountain and it is a new phenomenon for the Himalaya.

Pandit, who is in Uttarakhand for a research project, recounts an observation. "I was sitting at the Prayag bridge for tea and started counting the number of buses crossing it. Withing seven to eight minutes, 117 buses crossed," he says.

Data with the Uttarakhand State Transport Department confirms this. In 2005-06, 83,000-odd vehicles were registered in the state. The figure rose to nearly 180,000 in 2012-13. Out of this, proportion of cars, jeeps and taxis, which are the most preferred means of transport for tourists landing in the state, increased the most. In 2005-06, 4,000 such vehicles were registered, which jumped to 40,000 in 2012-13. It is an established fact that there is a straight co-relation between tourism increase and higher incidence of landslides.

Threat from dams

Threat from dams

The Ganga in the upper reaches has been an engineer’s playground. The Central Electricity Authority and the Uttarakhand power department have estimated the river’s hydroelectric potential at some 9,000 MW and have planned 70-odd projects on its tributaries. In building these projects the key tributaries would be modified—through diversion to tunnels or reservoirs—to such an extent that 80 per cent of the Bhagirathi and 65 per cent of the Alaknanda could be “affected”. As much as 90 per cent of the other smaller tributaries could be “affected” the same way.

Pandit says that rampant construction, be it of roads, or dams, has led to land use change and the cumulative effect is getting reflected in the extent of damage rains have caused.

Landslides more frequent now

Landslides more frequent now

“Our mountains were never so fragile. But these heavy machines plying everyday on the kutcha roads have weakened it, and now we suffer landslides more often,” says Harish Rawat, a BSc student in Uttarakhand’s Bhatwari region that suffered a major landslide in 2010.Rawat lost his home to the landslide when a major part of the main market and 28 shops were wiped out by the landslide. About 25 other houses were destroyed completely.Another local resident, Ram Prasad Tomar, a driver by profession in Uttarkashi town, says it is road cutting that has made the mountains so weak. He says the way mountains are cut to make roads has rendered the mountains unstable. “Road contractors, who come from outside, do not understand the mountains. Most of the expressways that are being constructed now are tangled in legal cases. After cutting of mountains, landslides continue for up to four years, and contractors go bankrupt clearing the debris,” he says.Environment engineer and Ganga crusader, G D Agarwal, says that construction along the Ganga has certainly cost a lot more if one includes the cost of damage to environment. People have completely destroyed the ecology of the mountains. “We see more landslides nowadays because of unplanned development in the hills,” he says.Experts say promotion of the state as a tourist destination is coming in way of sustainable development.

Source : Down To Earth Magazine site.

5) PM in rare visit to Kashmir after attack on soldiers:

 PM in rare visit to Kashmir after attack on soldiers

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made a rare visit to restive Kashmir on Tuesday, a day after militants killed eight soldiers in an ambush, the bloodiest in a series of attacks since India hanged separatist Mohammad Afzal Guru in February.

Separatists called a general strike to coincide with the visit by Singh and Sonia Gandhi, leader of the ruling Congress party. The strike reflects public anger with New Delhi.Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, both of which claim all of the territory. They have fought two of their three wars over the Muslim-majority region, and a full-blown insurgency raged against Indian rule in the 1990s.On Tuesday, shops, offices and schools were closed, and streets deserted in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir.

Hundreds of police stood on guard and barbed wire blocked main roads as Singh made his first visit to the region in three years.On Monday, militants killed eight soldiers in Srinagar in one of their most audacious attacks this year."This will not deter the security forces who are engaged in bringing peace and order to the Kashmir valley," Singh said in a statement early on Tuesday.

Hizbul Mujahideen, the most active militant group in Kashmir at the height of the unrest, claimed responsibility for the ambush and warned that more attacks would follow. The group wants Kashmir to become part of Pakistan.

On Saturday, Hizbul Mujahideen militants shot dead two policemen in the heart of Srinagar, even though security had already been stepped up for the prime minister's visit.About 30 security personnel have died in attacks since the hanging of a Kashmiri man, Mohammad Afzal Guru, in February for his role in an attack on the Indian parliament in 2001.Guru was convicted of helping organise arms for the gunmen who launched the attack and providing a place for them to stay. He always maintained his innocence.India blamed the 2001 attack on militants backed by Pakistan. Islamabad denied any involvement and condemned the attack, but tension rose sharply, bringing the nuclear-armed rivals dangerously close to their fourth war.

6) Mafia don Abu Salem again attacked in jail:

Mafia don Abu Salem again attacked in jail

Mafia don Abu Salem was attacked in a Maharashtra jail Thursday, official sources said but did not give any details. This was the second time in four years that he was targeted inside jailAbu Salem was attacked by an inmate in the Taloja Central jail in neighbouring Raigad district, said officials but were tight-lipped about the nature and seriousness of the injury and what kind of medical aid he was given.This is the second attack on Abu Salem since he was deported from Portugal in 2005.

In 2010, Salem was attacked by some inmates in the jail with a steel spoon following which he was shifted to TCJ as a security measure.

7) Kanimozhi, Raja elected to Rajya Sabha:

Kanimozhi, Raja elected to Rajya Sabha

DMK's Kanimozhi, CPI's D. Raja and four AIADMK candidates were Thursday declared elected to the Rajya Sabha from Tamil Nadu.The four victorious AIADMK candidates are K.R. Arjunan, R. Lakshmanan, V. Maitreyan and T. Rathnavelu.Maitreyan, Raja and Kanimozhi were re-contesting their seats.

DMDK's A.R. Elangovan lost the election, with just 22 votes as against the 34 needed to be elected. While the party has 29 legislators, seven had turned rebel and did not vote for the party nominee.While Raja of the Communist Party of India was supported by the ruling AIAMDK and the Communist Party of India-Marxist, the DMK, which had 23 legislators, was supported by Congress (5 legislators), and the Manithaneya Makkal Katchi (MMK) and Puthiya Tamizhagam (PT) having two legislators each.The poll saw 231 members of the 235-member assembly voting with PMK, having three legislators, boycotting the elections. One vote was declared as invalid.

8) Nelson Mandela's Health 'Greatly Improved:

Nelson Mandela's Health 'Greatly Improved

Nelson Mandela's condition has shown "great improvement" over recent days, his ex-wife has said after visiting the anti-apartheid icon.Winnie Madikizela-Mandela spoke to reporters outside the hospital where the 94-year-old is being treated for a recurring lung infection."I am not here to answer any medical questions, I'm not a doctor, but I can say that from what he was a few days ago, there is great improvement," she said."Clinically, he is still unwell. It becomes very difficult to understand the seeming impatience and statements like: 'It is time for the family to let go'."And statements like: 'We are praying for the family not to pull the tubes'.

"Those are insensitive statements that none of you would want made about your parents and grandparents."Ms Madikizela–Mandela added: "It is very special to us that you (the media) are here, in Orlando, where it all began, as long ago as 1943."Her remarks come one day after Mr Mandela's daughter, Makaziwe Mandela, criticised "vultures" in the media, saying interest in the former president's illness had "gone overboard".

Sports News This Week:

Sports News

1) MS Dhoni eyes tri-series win after ICC Champions Trophy 2013 glory:

MS Dhoni eyes tri-series win after ICC Champions Trophy 2013 glory

It has not even been a week since India won the ICC Champions Trophy but captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said the team is done with the celebrations and firmly focussed on the tri-series against West Indies and Sri Lanka starting from Friday."The demands remain the same. The expectation when it comes to the Indian cricket team has always been the same," Dhoni said at the launch of the Celkon Mobile Cup."If it's moving, it only moves in one direction — it goes up. It doesn't matter whether we have won the last series or lost or what has happened on the field," he explained.India play West Indies in their first game at the Sabina Park on Sunday.Dhoni attributed the team's recent success to a friendly dressing room atmosphere where the players "enjoy each others success".

The Champions Trophy triumph in England means India, the numero uno side in the ICC rankings, now hold both the major ODI titles following their victory in the World Cup on home soil two years ago.And Dhoni said he was lucky to have players at his disposal who are not afraid of pressure."I'm fortunate to have the players in the side to really soak up the pressure," he said."What we have done really well is we have enjoyed each others' success and that has really contributed to the side winning most of the games," the wicketkeeper-batsman said."If I'm happier than the person who has actually scored a century or a fifty, you understand that's the kind of atmosphere that you want, because at the end of the day, what we play is a team sport," he added.Dhoni said there is fierce competition for places in the Indian team but it has never spilled over into personal rivalries."It's important that the guys sitting out just to wait for their chance, not think that if this guy does badly I will get a chance. They can use that period to improve themselves and whenever the chance, whatever the reason may be, fitness or form, they try to earn that place in the side," he said."We have been able to create that kind of atmosphere and it's really reflected in the performances that we have given."

Each team in the triangular series plays the other twice before the final on July 11 in Trinidad.Meanwhile, West Indies skipper Dwayne Bravo said there is plenty at stake in the triangular series even though it doesn't hold the same significance as the Champions Trophy."It's always good to play here in Jamaica. We have a very good record and that will be in the back of our minds," Bravo said."But if we don't prepare well and execute our plans, it won't count for anything. As much as we are happy playing at home, we still have to do the basics right in order to be successful."Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews said going by recent form, the island nation starts as underdog in the series."They are the two current reigning champions of the T20 and the one-dayers. So to match them we need to play some really good cricket. We feel like we're the underdogs but I feel I've got the team to do well in this format and I'm pretty confident of my team," he said.

2) Brazil beat Uruguay 2-1 to enter Confederations Cup final:

Brazil beat Uruguay 2-1 to enter Confederations Cup final

A towering Paulinho header saw Brazil edge out Uruguay 2-1 on Wednesday in an ill-tempered Confederations Cup semifinal in Belo Horizonte to set up a final with either world champions Spain or Italy.

Fred scored from close range two minutes from half-time to calm home nerves for the five-time world champions and Confederations title holders after Diego Forlan had first missed a penalty for Uruguay.But Edinson Cavani pulled a poachers strike out of the bag three minutes after the restart and thereafter the Samba stars were rocking before Paulinho rose high to plant a firm close-range header past Fernando Muslera in the Uruguay goal to cement a barely deserved victory.

Matches between the South American neighbours have long been tense affairs - not least since the Uruguayans shocked the Brazilians in the 1950 World Cup final in Rio to deny their hosts a first title.But what gave this meeting added spice as both nations limber up for next year's World Cup were pre-match comments by Uruguayan skipper Diego Lugano labelling Brazilian starlet Neymar a diver.The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) issued a furious rebuttal of the claim, but there was clearly no love lost between the sides as they snapped into tackles and scrapped for every smidgin of territory.Brazil made a sluggish start and Lugano was to the fore as he won a penalty for the Uruguayans after 16 minutes.The veteran defender tussled with Chelsea centreback David Luiz in the box and went down - but Chilean referee Enrique Osses quickly spotted that Luiz had tugged on his rival's shirt and gave the spotkick.

Uruguay's record goalscorer Forlan stepped forward but placed his low kick too close to Julio Cesar, the Brazilian keeper diving away to his left to push the ball round the post and elicit a deafening cheer from a 60,000 crowd at the Estadio Mineirao.Around twice that number were in the streets, kept out by a police cordon as they joined yet another protest against crumbling public services and government corruption as well as the multibillion bill for staging major sporting events.Police said beforehand they expected trouble but Brazil, mindful of coach Luiz Felipe Scolari's urging them to make their countrymen proud, finally awoke from their nervy slumbers and took the lead two minutes before the break with their first chance of note aside from a speculative Oscar effort over the top.Neymar chased a long punt down the left and stretched to flick the ball across goal for Fred to poke home a scissor kick finish from the edge of the six yard box, sparking pandemonium in the crowd.

3) Spain sets up dream final vs. Brazil after beating Italy on penalties in Confederations Cup:

Spain sets up dream final vs. Brazil after beating Italy on penalties in Confederations Cup:

The Confederations Cup has got the final that nearly everyone wanted.

The World Cup holder against the five-time champion. The two-time European champions against the tournament host. Spain's passing wizards vs. Brazil's new star Neymar.Spain came through an exhausting encounter by winning a penalty shootout 7-6 over Italy in the semifinal on Thursday and will face Brazil in Rio de Janeiro's Maracana Stadium on Sunday to cap the World Cup warmup tournament."I think everybody was waiting for this Confederations Cup final to be Spain vs. Brazil," Spain captain Iker Casillas said. "I think the two teams that deserve to play the final are actually playing it."Jesus Navas scored the decisive penalty in the shootout after extra time ended 0-0 in a draining match that was made more difficult by heat and thick humidity.Nobody missed in the shootout until Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci shot over the bar to give Navas an attempt at the winner. The recently signed Manchester City midfielder cooly beat goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon to end a top-class battle and send Spain to another major final.While calling his squad "lucky" to win, Spain coach Vicente del Bosque was not about to concede the final due to fatigue, even though Spain has one less day of rest than Brazil, which beat Uruguay 2-1 Wednesday.

"We have to now consider what we have to do in the three days to recover. And we will definitely stand up to Brazil in the Maracana," the manager said. "The players should feel just as happy as kids playing in the Maracana. They have won a lot, but they want to win in the Maracana.It will be the fourth major final Spain will play in five years, while Brazil is hoping to rekindle its glory under Felipe Scolari, who led the Selecao to the 2002 World Cup title."It will be a special match for the Brazilians, and also for the Spanish team to play in the Maracana," Casillas said. "This is something very enticing and it whets our appetite."Against Italy, Spain was pushed to the limit in an intense match from start to finish that saw each side hit the woodwork in extra time. Emanuele Giaccherini smashed a shot off the post in the 93rd minute and Buffon deflected a shot from Xavi Hernandez off the post in the 115th.In a rematch of the Euro 2012 final, which Spain won 4-0, Italy threatened early on even without the injured Mario Balotelli, relying on counterattacks, while Spain relied on its usual game of short passing and ball possession."We played a great match. We created and we conceded but we were always in the match," Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said. "They're still ahead of us but we're improving."

Before kickoff, about 5,000 anti-government protesters battled police about 2 kilometres (1 mile) from the stadium.More protests are expected at Sunday's final of the World Cup warm-up tournament.Thursdays' were the latest in a series of massive, nationwide protests that have hit Brazil since June 17. Demonstrators are angered about corruption and poor public services despite a heavy tax burden.Protests are also denouncing the billions of dollars spent to host the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.Sunday is the fourth major final Spain will play in five years, having won the 2008 and 2012 European Championships plus the 2010 World Cup.Inside the Fortaleza stadium, which appeared full, there was overwhelming support for Italy from local fans, who were perhaps afraid of facing Spain in the final. Spain was booed early on every time it took the ball.Christian Maggio had the best chance of the first half in the 36th with a header inside the box that Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas did well to block.

A minute later, Xavi Hernandez set up Spain's only real chance early on but Fernando Torres shot wide.Reverting to a three-man defence, Prandelli made another tactical move to start the second half, replacing centre back Andrea Barzagli with midfielder Riccardo Montolivo and putting De Rossi at the centre of the defence.
Seeking to inject some energy into his squad, Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque sent on Navas for David Silva in the 52nd and Navas had the first significant chance of the second half six minutes later with a long, low effort that Buffon controlled.The roles reversed as the second half wore on, with Italy controlling more and Spain resorting more to counterattacks. Italy had a series of corner kicks at one point but had trouble producing chances.Navas threatened in the 92nd with a long shot that appeared to surprise Buffon but the goalkeeper quickly recovered. A minute later, Giaccherini hit the post and then Jordi Alba volleyed high from close range as all of a sudden there was a flurry of chances.In the shootout, Italy went first and Antonio Candreva, Alberto Aquilani, Daniele De Rossi, Sebastian Giovinco, Andrea Pirlo and Montolivo each converted near perfect penalties for the Azzurri.However, Bonucci is a centre back who rarely, if ever, takes penalties, and his attempt was far over the bar.Spain matched Italy shot for shot with Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Juan Mata and Sergio Busquets each finding the target before Navas stepped up.Buffon guessed right on Navas' shot but the ball was so close to the striker's left post that the goalkeeper had no chance.

4) Wimbledon 2013: Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova upset on wild day:

Wimbledon 2013: Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova upset on wild day:

As tumultuous a day as professional tennis has produced in its nearly half-century history ended in the most unforeseeable, unexplainable way of all: A second-round loss by Roger Federer at the All England Club.The seven-time Wimbledon champion and 17-time Grand Slam champ shuffled off Centre Court with dusk approaching on the fortnight’s first Wednesday, his head bowed, his streak of reaching at least the quarterfinals at a record 36 consecutive major tournaments snapped by a man ranked 116th.His remarkable 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 7-5, 7-6 (5) defeat against Sergiy Stakhovsky at the All England Club marked Federer’s earliest Grand Slam exit in a decade. He lost in the first round of the French Open on May 26, 2003, back before he owned a single trophy from any of the sport’s most important sites.“This is a setback, a disappointment, whatever you want to call it,” said Federer, the defending champion. “Got to get over this one. Some haven’t hurt this much, that’s for sure.”

Tsonga, a finalist at the 2008 Australian Open and semifinalist the past two years at Wimbledon, fell Wednesday and had his leg treated by a trainer, then quit while trailing two sets to one against Ernests Gulbis of Latvia.Sharapova managed to finish her match, at least, despite losing her footing a few times, but told the chair umpire the conditions were dangerous“After I buckled my knee three times, that’s obviously my first reaction. And because I’ve just never fallen that many times in a match before,” said the four-time major champion, noting that she thought she might have strained a muscle in her left hip.“I just noticed a few more players falling a bit more than usual,” Sharapova added.

5) Djokovic and Serena restore calm on Tranquil Thursday:


An air of calm descended at Wimbledon on 'Tranquil Thursday' as Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams avoided the trail of destruction that had decimated the field at the All England Club on day three of the grasscourt major.After men's champion Roger Federer and Williams' two closest rivals for the Rosewater Dish, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova, perished during a 'Wednesday Wipeout', it was left to the world number ones to restore a semblance of normality.

Williams did just that by bullying her way past Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia 6-3 6-2 in the second round and then summed up what a daunting task her rivals face every time they tackle her.

"I wouldn't want to play me at 21 or 31!" quipped the 31-year-old, who is looking to draw level with Federer's haul of 17 grand slam titles.
She was declared the overwhelming favourite for the title before a ball had been struck in anger this week and, after Wednesday's chaos, it seems no one will be able to topple her.At 42, Japan's Kimiko Date-Krumm will have nothing to lose when she tries to snap the American's 33-match winning streak in their third round clash on Saturday."I just hope I can survive for more than one hour," said the Japanese warrior after becoming the oldest female to reach the Wimbledon third round in the professional era with a 6-4 7-5 victory over Romanian Alexandra Cadantu.

Djokovic was just nine in 1996, the last time Date-Krumm reached the same stage at Wimbledon, and on Thursday the closed Centre Court roof allowed him to dodge the "nuisance rain showers" that crippled the rest of the late afternoon programme as he completed a 7-6(2) 6-3 6-1 win over qualifier Bobby Reynolds.

Serena restore calm on Tranquil Thursday

Reynold's exit meant that for the first time since 1912 no American man will play in the third round here."The game... is tough and no one is entitled because they wear the Stars and Stripes to win a round," four-times major winner Jim Courier told Reuters.The American men joined a host of others at the exit queue.
Along with Azarenka and Sharapova, three other former women's world number ones - Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic - also slipped and skidded out of the tournament on Wednesday with many of them declaring the lush green turf "too dangerous".

Book of This Week:

 Always Watching     : by Chevy Stevens:

Always Watching     : by Chevy Stevens


She helps people put their demons to rest.

But she has a few of her own…

In the lockdown ward of a psychiatric hospital, Dr. Nadine Lavoie is in her element. She has the tools to help people, and she has the desire—healing broken families is what she lives for. But Nadine doesn’t want to look too closely at her own past because there are whole chunks of her life that are black holes. It takes all her willpower to tamp down her recurrent claustrophobia, and her daughter, Lisa, is a runaway who has been on the streets for seven years.

When a distraught woman, Heather Simeon, is brought into the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit after a suicide attempt, Nadine gently coaxes her story out of her—and learns of some troubling parallels with her own life. Digging deeper, Nadine is forced to confront her traumatic childhood, and the damage that began when she and her brother were brought by their mother to a remote commune on Vancouver Island.  What happened to Nadine?  Why was their family destroyed? And why does the name Aaron Quinn, the group’s leader, bring complex feelings of terror to Nadine even today? 

And then, the unthinkable happens, and Nadine realizes that danger is closer to home than she ever imagined. She has no choice but to face what terrifies her the most…and fight back. 

Sometimes you can leave the past, but you can never escape. 

Chevy Stevens:

Chevy Stevens

Chevy Stevens is a Canadian author of thriller novels. She lives on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. 

Chevy is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel STILL MISSING, which won the 2011 International Thriller of the Year Award in the Best First Novel category. STILL MISSING has been published in over thirty countries. Chevy’s second novel, NEVER KNOWING, is also an international bestseller. The movie rights have been optioned and Renny Harlan, of Die Hard fame, is attached to direct. Her third novel ALWAYS WATCHING will be published in 2013. 

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