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Saturday, 27 July 2013

Subhaditya News Channel Presents Science, Movie, Political and Sports News This Week (53)

Animated Collage of NewsWeek-53

Collage of Pictures of  NewsWeek (53)

Science News This Week:

Science News

1) Gold seen in neutron star collision debris:

 Gold seen in neutron star collision debris

Material ejected in gamma-ray bursts may be source of heavy elements. Dead stars make good alchemists.

Images snapped by the Hubble Space Telescope suggest that gold may have been generated by a violent neutron star collision that also yielded lead, platinum, uranium and other heavy elements.The stellar smashup was detected on June 3, when NASA’s Swift satellite observed a gamma-ray burst 3.9 billion light-years away. Astrophysicists believe that a crash between two neutron stars, the dense, neutron-rich cores left over after massive stars explode, released the 0.2-second flash of energy.Images snapped by the Hubble Space Telescope nine days later saw evidence for a bounty of heavy elements amounting to about 1 percent of the sun’s mass and including several moon masses of gold, says Edo Berger of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. Given the amount of gold and the fact that these collisions probably happen once every 10,000 or 100,000 years in any given galaxy, such crashes could account for all of the gold in the universe, he says.

Berger’s team posted its findings June 17 on idea that neutron star collisions create heavy elements was suggested in the 1970s by James Lattimer, now at Stony Brook University in New York, and colleagues. Back then, Lattimer says, there were few observations of neutron stars and computers were slow. So, Lattimer says, “the calculations were fairly crude, and I’m not sure people believed the model that much.”Instead, most astrophysicists thought elements heavier than iron — those that don’t form via fusion within a star — resulted from massive stars collapsing in supernovas. But computer simulations have had a tough time showing that this is possible, Lattimer says.Although Lattimer says it’s “comforting” that the findings fit with the neutron star theory, he notes the results are “still fairly speculative.” The Hubble images show a glow of infrared light that Berger’s team says is characteristic of radiation emitted by the radioactive decay of heavy elements. Yet the team can’t rule out that the light was produced by the gamma-ray burst itself, Lattimer says.

Upcoming missions such as the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory will make it easier to find short gamma-ray bursts and may confirm whether they are triggered by neutron stars, says astrophysicist Neil Gehrels of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.And new telescopes such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope that monitor larger swaths of sky will make it easier to distinguish between a gamma-ray burst’s afterglow and shine coming from heavy elements. Finding signs of heavy elements, which require a lot of neutrons, in association with short gamma-ray bursts is the best evidence yet that neutron star collisions make heavy elements.

2) News in Brief: Size isn't only mystery of huge virus:

News in Brief: Size isn't only mystery of huge virus

Strange replication method and unusual genetic sequence among the mysteries. The largest virus ever identified has been found on the seafloor off the coast of Chile. Pandoravirus salinus is about twice as long as the previous record holder, Megavirus chilensis, with a genome that is twice as large. That makes P. salinus larger than the smallest bacteria.

Beyond its impressive size, the Pandoravirus is strange in some other ways. Rather than reproducing by first making a viral coat and then filling it in or by building its coat around genetic material, P. salinus builds its insides and outsides simultaneously, starting at one end of the horseshoe-shaped viral particle and finishing at the other. What’s more, only 7 percent of the virus’s genes match any known gene sequences, researchers report in the July 19 Science.

The authors suggest a controversial hypothesis for why the Pandoravirus is so odd: It could have evolved from a type of free-living, ancient cell that no longer exists. Its discovery is likely to add fuel to the heated debate about the evolutionary origins of viruses.

3) Color Patterns in Fish Larvae May Reveal Relationships Among Species:

Color Patterns in Fish Larvae May Reveal Relationships Among Species

Similarities in how different organisms look can indicate a close evolutionary relationship. Conversely, great differences in appearance can suggest a very distant relationship, as in many adult marine fish species. For the first time, however, a Smithsonian scientist has found that color patterns of different fish species in the larval stage can be very similar, revealing a closer evolutionary relationship than their adult forms would suggest. The research is published in the July issue of the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

Many marine fish species spend their larval stage near the ocean's surface―an environment completely different than the one they are in as adults. Two different environments often require two different body shapes and appearances, resulting in fish in their larval stage that bear little to no resemblance to their adult counterparts. Carole Baldwin, a zoologist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, examined more than 200 species of marine fishes in their larval stage, primarily from the western Caribbean. She found that in many cases larval color patterns of different species were very similar, contributing evidence to a phylogenic relationship.

"Biologists, artists and tropical fish aquarists have described, illustrated or photographed color patterns in adult marine fishes for centuries, but color patterns in marine fish larvae have largely been neglected," said Baldwin. "Yet the larval stages of many marine fishes have subtle to striking, ephemeral color patterns that can potentially tell us a lot about a species' place on the taxonomic family tree."Adult mullets, for instance, are very different in appearance than adult flying fish, yet when Baldwin examined these fishes in the larval stage she noticed that they share a unique transformation of color pattern that supports the idea that they could be closely related. Larvae of some species in the order Tetraodontiforme, like the pufferfish, and those in the order Lophiiforme, like the anglerfish, are strikingly similar in having the trunks of their bodies enclosed in an inflated yellow sac. Their appearance as adults, however, would not hint at a close relationship.
"More investigation of larval color patterns in marine fish is needed to fully assess their value in phylogenic reconstruction," said Baldwin. "But the evidence I've found so far is promising that this will be an important taxonomic resource in the future."Color information on many more marine fish larvae is needed to fully use this new suite of evolutionary information, and Baldwin will encourage colleagues to obtain color photographs of larvae when possible. And studies on the formation of pigment, such as those conducted on the model freshwater zebrafish (Danio species), are needed.

4) Full Genome Map of Oil Palm Indicates Way to Raise Yields and Protect Rainforest: Single Gene Identified Whose Regulation Controls Oil Palm Yield:

Full Genome Map of Oil Palm Indicates Way to Raise Yields and Protect Rainforest: Single Gene Identified Whose Regulation Controls Oil Palm Yield

 A multinational team of scientists has identified a single gene, called Shell, that regulates yield of the oil palm tree. The fruit and seeds of the oil palm are the source of nearly one-half of the supply of edible vegetable oil worldwide, and provide one of the most promising sources of biofuel.

The discovery, the product of a multiyear effort to provide a high-quality full genome map of the oil palm plant and to scour the sequence for genes of importance to both science and industry, has major implications for agriculture and the environment."The discovery that regulation of the Shell gene will enable breeders to boost palm oil yields by nearly one-third is excellent news for the rainforest and its champions worldwide," says Datuk Dr. Choo Yuen May, the Director General of the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB), an agency of the Malaysian federal government.The discovery was made by researchers at the MPOB in conjunction with scientists at St. Louis-based Orion Genomics. Also lending support were scientists in New York, at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) and the American Museum of Natural History. The international team's work is detailed in two papers published online today in Nature.

"The discovery of Shell indicates a clear path toward more intensive use of already planted lands, and thus should lessen pressures to expand the land area devoted to oil palm, notably onto endangered rainforest land -- a major concern for the environment and a rallying point for activists in recent years," says Robert A. Martienssen, Ph.D., scientific co-founder of Orion Genomics, who is also a professor of plant genetics at CSHL."Mutations in Shell explain the single most important economic trait of the oil palm: how the thickness of its shell correlates to fruit size and oil yield," explains Dr. Rajinder Singh of the MPOB, first author of the Nature paper describing the Shell gene.There are two species of oil palm, African (Elaeis guineensis) and South American (Elaeis oleifera). Together they account for 45 percent of the edible vegetable oil worldwide. Palm oil also has the best energy balance of any commercial product currently used in biofuel applications, yielding about 9 times the energy required to produce it, according to Dr. Martienssen.

The Shell gene is responsible for the oil palm's three known shell forms: dura (thick); pisifera (shell-less); and tenera (thin), a hybrid of dura and pisifera palms. Tenera palms contain one mutant and one normal version, or allele, of Shell, an optimum combination that results in 30% more oil per land area than dura palms.
How the discovery will affect plantation management and land useThe discovery of the Shell gene and its two naturally occurring mutations highlight new molecular strategies to identify seeds or plantlets that will become high-yielding palms before they are introduced into plantations.Seed producers can now use the genetic marker for the Shell gene to distinguish the three fruit forms in the nursery long before they are field-planted. Currently, it can take six years to identify whether an oil palm plantlet is a high-yielding palm. Even with selective breeding, 10 to 15 percent of plants are the low-yielding dura form due to uncontrollable wind and insect pollination, particularly in plantations without stringent quality control measures."Accurate genotyping for enhanced oil yields will optimize and help stabilize the acreage devoted to oil palm plantations, providing an opportunity for the conservation of rainforest reserves," Martienssen explains.

The Malaysian government strongly supported the genome sequencing project for the nation's most important crop. The government halted the conversion of new forest land for agriculture, including palm oil, in the 1990s. According to the MPOB, the government has committed to preserve 50 percent of Malaysia's total land area as forest. To meet increased demand for palm oil, the government converted colonial rubber and cocoa plantations to oil palm plantations.

What the full genome sequences reveal
The discovery of Shell occurs in the context of a broader effort to map the genomes of both the African and South American oil palm species. One of the newly published maps is the 1.8 gigabase sequence of the E. guineensis African oil palm. It comprises nearly 35,000 genes, including the full set of oil biosynthesis genes and other transcriptional regulators highly expressed in the oil-rich palm fruit.The researchers also created a draft sequence of the South American oil palm E. oleifera. Both palm species are in the Arecaceae family of flowering plants, which fossil evidence dates to the Cretaceous period, an estimated 140 to 200 million years ago. The investigators' comparison of the two maps enabled them to estimate that the oil palm species diverged at the old world- new world split.

5) New Species of Hero Shrew Found in Equatorial Africa: Most Bizarre Mammalian Spine On Earth:

 New Species of Hero Shrew Found in Equatorial Africa: Most Bizarre Mammalian Spine On Earth

Scientists at Chicago's Field Museum and international collaborators have described a new species of Hero Shrew -- the mammal with the most bizarre lower spine on Earth. The interlocking vertebrae of the Hero Shrew render the spine four to five times more robust relative to body mass, a condition not found in any other mammal. The spine has been an enigma to evolutionary biologists, with no known adaptive significance.

This new species of Hero Shrew, named Scutisorex thori, possesses features that may represent intermediate character states between the only other known Hero Shrew species (Scutisorex somereni), and other shrews. In addition, a novel hypothesis for the function of the animal's expanded lower spine has been proposed. The study will be published July 24, 2013 edition of Biology Letters.First discovered in 1910, the Hero Shrew's most notable feature was not revealed for another seven years, when a specimen was dissected to reveal the most peculiar backbone of any mammal. The remarkable spine of the Hero Shrew is unique among mammals, in that the lower vertebrae have multiple lateral processes that interlock with the processes of neighboring vertebra. The arrangement, along with surrounding musculature, affords the animal extraordinary strength, so much so that the Hero Shrew has traditionally been worn as a talisman.

"This shrew first came to light when explorers came to the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo," said Bill Stanley, Director of Collections and zoologist at the Field Museum. "The explorers watched in amazement as a full-grown man stood on the back of the Hero Shrew, and the animal walked away, unharmed."
Until now, there have been no other species of this bizarre shrew. The new species described in this study represents a possible intermediate between the original Hero Shrew and other shrews, since is possesses an interlocking spine, but with fewer lower vertebrae and lateral processes than the first Hero Shrew species.
"You and I have five lumbar vertebrae," said Stanley. "And so do most other mammals, but the Hero Shrew at least 10. Scutisorex thori has eight vertebrae, and fewer lateral processes than the original species."The specimen of the new Hero Shrew species was collected in the lowland forest near the Tshuapa River in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Based on the observations of one of the co-authors on the study, the authors present a novel hypothesis for the functional significance of the spine of Scutisorex thori; they suggest that these shrews position themselves between the trunk and leaf bases of Palms, and use their unique spine to exert force and gain access to concentrated sources of beetle larvae that are otherwise protected from predation. The same adaptation may allow these animals to lift logs or rocks to access invertebrates -- a food resource that remains unavailable to many other mammals.

The specimen of Scutisorex thori now residing at The Field Museum is a holotype, meaning that it will be the standard for identifying other members of the species. The new species is named in honor of Thorvald "Thor" Holmes, Jr. of the Humboldt State University Vertebrate Museum, at the suggestion of Bill Stanley, who did his graduate work there. The suggested common name is "Thor's Hero Shrew," appropriately invoking Thor, the god of strength in Norse mythology.
"The Age of Discovery is not over," said Stanley. "In fact, discoveries such as these happen in natural history collections, like the ones that we have at The Field Museum. In addition, hypotheses such as the one that we've generated concerning the functional significance of the Hero Shrew's spine fuel the scientific machine. We can't wait to see the results of further scientific studies that test the ideas presented in this article."

6) Genetic Glitch at the Root of Allergies Revealed:

Genetic Glitch at the Root of Allergies Revealed

Newly published research by investigators at Johns Hopkins Children's Center and the Johns Hopkins Institute of Genetic Medicine reveals that a faulty genetic pathway already known for its role in some connective tissue disorders is also a potent player in many types of allergies.

Scientists have long understood that allergies are the result of a complex interplay between environment and genes, but now, in what investigators believe is a scientific first, a single genetic pathway has been implicated in an array of allergic disorders.A report on the study's findings, published July 24 in Science Translational Medicine, shows that aberrant signaling by a protein called transforming growth factor-beta, or TGF-beta, may be responsible for disrupting the way immune cells respond to common foods and environmental allergens, leading to a wide range of allergic disorders.TGF-beta is well known for its widespread effects in the body, from controlling how cells in a various organs grow and develop to overseeing how they communicate with one another. Mutations in the genes that lead to abnormal TGF-beta signaling are also keys to Marfan and Loeys-Dietz syndromes, genetic conditions marked by blood vessel laxity and dangerous stretching of the aorta, the body's largest blood vessel.

"We have evidence that the same glitch in TGF-beta that is responsible for some of the clinical manifestations seen in Marfan and Loeys-Dietz diseases also lies behind the cascade of events that culminates in the development of conditions like asthma, food allergies and eczema," says lead investigator Pamela Frischmeyer-Guerrerio, M.D., Ph.D., an immunologist at Johns Hopkins Children's Center.Notably, the researchers add, their experiments suggest TGF-beta is more than a mere contributor in the disease process."Disruption in TGF-beta signaling does not simply nudge immune cells to misbehave but appears to singlehandedly unlock the very chain reaction that eventually leads to allergic disease," says senior investigator Harry "Hal" Dietz, M.D., a cardiologist at Johns Hopkins Children's Center, professor in the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine at Hopkins and director of the William S. Smilow Center for Marfan Research.

The researchers' curiosity about a wider role for TGF-beta was ignited years ago when they first noticed that patients with Loeys-Dietz syndrome (LDS) had higher than normal rates of allergies.The present study involved 58 children with LDS, ages 7 to 20, followed at Johns Hopkins. Most of them had either a history of allergic disease or active allergies, like allergic rhinitis, eczema, food allergies, asthma, and gastrointestinal and esophageal allergic disease. Not surprisingly, these patients also had abnormally high levels of several traditional markers of allergic disease, including IgE -- an antibody that drives life-threatening allergic responses -- and high numbers of eosinophils, white blood cells involved in allergic reactions.Because TGF-beta is known to control immune cell maturation, the researchers homed in on a group of cells known as regulatory T cells, which keep tabs on other immune cells to ensure that they don't go into overdrive. LDS patients had unusually high levels of regulatory T cells, but the real surprise came when researchers noticed that instead of acting in their regular role as inflammation tamers, the regulatory T cells were doing the opposite -- secreting allergy-promoting signaling molecules called cytokines. Regulatory T cells obtained from patients with known allergies but without LDS were misbehaving in much the same way, a finding that suggests TGF-beta may induce immune cell malfunction even in the absence of LDS, the researchers say.To identify precisely how TGF-beta affects immune cell behavior, the researchers next obtained undifferentiated, or naïve, immune cells from LDS patients. Immersed in TGF-beta, these "pre-specialized" cells quickly transformed into allergy-promoting immune cells known for their ability to recognize and attack pathogens, as well as otherwise innocent substances, like food proteins.In a final, critical discovery, the researchers found that the immune cells of children with LDS had abnormally high levels of a protein called SMAD, a known transmitter of TGF-beta signaling. Yet, LDS patients treated with the blood-pressure medication losartan, known for its ability to tame TGF-beta signaling, had reduced levels of the protein.

That finding, the team says, not only suggests heightened -- rather than suppressed TGF-beta signaling -- as the culprit behind immune cell dysregulation in patients with allergies, but also points to losartan as a promising treatment for allergies. The drug is an old, common medication already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat high blood pressure.The research team is currently investigating whether losartan could halt or reverse allergic symptoms in animals.
Losartan's effects on TGF-beta were discovered by Dietz and colleagues. His group subsequently showed that losartan can halt the dangerous ballooning of the aorta caused by abnormal TGF-beta in patients with Marfan and Loeys-Dietz syndromes.

7) 26 July, 2013, INSAT 3D, India's advanced and most sophisticated weather satellite, launch into its orbit from Kourou, French Guiana. Streaming starts at 01:10 AM IST, with the launch window between 01:23 AM and 02:41 AM IST.

Ariane 5 Flight VA214 successfully deploys INSAT 3D and Alphasat

26 July, 2013, INSAT 3D, India's advanced and most sophisticated weather satellite, launch into its orbit from Kourou, French Guiana

Movie Release Of This Week:

Movies News

Based on the celebrated comic book arc, this epic action-adventure takes Wolverine, the most iconic character of the X-Men universe, to modern day Japan. Out of his depth in an unknown world he faces his ultimate nemesis in a life-or-death battle that will leave him forever changed. Vulnerable for the first time and pushed to his physical and emotional limits, he confronts not only lethal samurai steel but also his inner struggle against his own immortality, emerging more powerful than we have ever seen him before.

Frankenstein's Army takes place toward the end of World War II, as Russian soldiers push into eastern Germany and stumble across a secret Nazi lab, one that has unearthed and begun experimenting with the journal of one Dr. Viktor Frankenstein. The scientists have used the legendary Frankenstein's work to assemble an army of super-soldiers stitched together from the body parts of their fallen comrades - a desperate Hitler's last ghastly ploy to escape defeat.

After everything in her life falls to pieces, including her marriage to wealthy businessman Hal, elegant New York socialite Jasmine moves into her sister Ginger's modest apartment in San Francisco to try to pull herself back together again.

A young Englishman recently released from prison recruits his three best friends and to rob the local drug kingpin who is responsible for his incarceration. Can he get revenge and win back his fed-up girlfriend?

A street dance crew and a group of Royal ballet dancers strive to find common ground after they are forced to share the same rehearsal space. After battling it out on the dance floor, the two dance crews gradually learn to work together, forming an exciting new type of modern dance that no one ever saw coming.

Political News This Week:

Political News

1) WB panchayat poll: One killed, toll mounts to 21:

WB panchayat poll: One killed, toll mounts to 21

One person was on Thursday killed in a clash between Trinamool Congress and Communist Party of India-Marxist supporters in North Dinajpur district during the fifth and final phase of West Bengal panchayat elections, taking the toll in poll-related violence to 21 since the exercise began.The police said Abdul Aziz, 50, was stabbed to death during the clash at Borobilla at Itahar when polling was on. The opposition CPI-M has claimed that the man was its member and a number of its supporters were injured in the clash.The police, however, did not comment on the claim. With Thursday’s death, the toll in poll violence went up to 21 since the rural elections began in the state on July 11. Meanwhile, a 70-year-old voter died in a heart attack at Phulbari while he was waiting in queue to cast his vote for the Dabgram-Phulbari gram panchayat in Jalpaiguri district.

The police said that Mahendra Burman was rushed to a nearby public health centre after he collapsed and was declared brought dead by the doctors.In another incident at Ranapur in North Dinajpur, 16 rival political party supporters were injured in a Central Reserve Police Force lathicharge in front of a polling both under Itahar police station.Voting was suspended in a booth under Durgapur gram panchayat after mischief mongers attempted to snatch ballot papers. Polling was also suspended at Kapusia block when some people snatched a ballot box and threw it into a river, the police said.Raiganj block, the police opened blank fire to disperse a mob which had gathered in front of the Alenga polling booth and attempted to snatch ballot papers.

 TMC-Left clash in last phase of Bengal's panchayat polls

TMC-Left clash in last phase of Bengal's panchayat polls

poradic violence was reported on Thursday in the fifth and last phase of panchayat elections in West Bengal covering four districts of north Bengal with 30 per cent voter turnout reported till noon.At least seven Communist Party of India-Marxist supporters were injured in clashes with Trinamool Congress workers since Wednesday night in Jalpaiguri district.

Three persons were injured at Talguri in the Maynaguri police station area during a clash on Thursday while another person was hit on the head when he was going to cast his vote, the police said. All four persons were stated to be CPI-M supporters.In another clash on Wednesday night, three CPI-M supporters were injured at Paharpur area of the district, the sources said. One of the three injured was admitted to hospital. Several people were injured at a clash on Thursday at Swastir Hat in Maynaguri block, but it was not confirmed by the police.Around 500 CPI-M supporters alleged that they were not allowed to vote by Trinamool Congress activists at Pukurjan village in the Jajganj block of the district.The polling remained by and large peaceful with a 30 per cent voter turnout till noon in the four districts of North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur, Coochbehar and Jalpaiguri, according to state Election Commission officials.Twenty persons have lost their lives in poll-related violence in the previous four phases.

2) Assange launches party, fields 2 Indian-origin candidates:

 Assange launches party, fields 2 Indian-origin candidates

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, holed up in Ecuadorian embassy in London for more than a year, on Thursday launched his political party in Australia to contest the general elections later this year.The WikiLeaks Party will field seven candidates, including Assange, for the upper house Senate seats in the federal election. This was announced at an event here via Skype.

Assange, who is an Australian, will contest elections from Victoria. The 42-year-old founder of the whistleblowing website said a major issue in the coming days would be the ruling Labour party's policy on asylum seekers.He said the party's first actions would be to demand full details of the government's asylum seeker arrangement with Papua New Guinea be made public, news agency Australian Associated Press said.

"Considering PNG's developing country status, the Australian government must disclose how it will assist PNG to financially support resettled refugees," Assange said in a statement.Last week, Kevin Rudd-led Labour government declared that all immigrants arriving illegally in boats will be sent to Papua New Guinea before being settled there or repatriated.Announcing that he wanted to be "an independent scrutineer of government activity," Assange said the party's aim will be to "keep politicians honest."Australia goes to polls in November with the ruling Labour party up against Tony Abbott-led conservatives.

Assange has not stepped out of Ecuador's embassy in London since June 2012 where he sought refuge during his legal battle for extradition from Britain to Sweden.he Wikileaks founder is wanted in Sweden for questioning over alleged sex crimes. Assange has argued that the charges against him are trumped up and a retaliation by the US for releasing classified material on Iraq and Afghanistan wars by the website.Two Indian-origin persons are among the seven candidates who will contest elections on a Wikileaks Party ticket in Senate polls in Australia.Indian-origin academician Binoy Kampmark, who was born in Malaysia and has Bengali heritage will stand for the upper house election from Victoria.Also, Suresh Rajan, whose family has roots in Kerala will be party's candidate from Western Australia.
According to party spokesperson Samantha Cross, Assange stressed that the party "would keep the politicians honest".

3) Amarnath yatra: 3.2 lakh devotees performed darshan; 11 died:

Amarnath yatra: 3.2 lakh devotees performed darshan; 11 died

Eleven persons, including 10 devotees, have died due to medical reasons during the ongoing pilgrimage to Amarnath cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas.

"10 Amarnath pilgrims and a helper (sevadar) have died so far during this year's yatra due to medical reasons," a police officer monitoring the yatra in Kashmir Valley said.3.12 lakh pilgrims have performed darshan of the holy ice lingum of Lord Shiva at Amarnath cave shrine till yesterday.

The 55-day yatra commenced on June 28 and will conclude on Raksha Bandhan on August 21.

As many as 6,21,145 pilgrims undertook the Amarnath yatra last year, during which 93 people died due to medical reasons, apart from 42 others due to road accidents and other reasons.In 2011, 106 people died due to medical reasons when a total of 6,35,611 pilgrims undertook the yatra.

The deaths due to medical reasons might be fewer this year as Shri Amarnath Shrine Board banned persons below 13 years or above the age of 75, besides women who were six weeks or more pregnant, from participating in the yatra.Nitish K Sen Gupta Committee, which was set up in 1996 to enquire into the tragedy in which 243 people were killed in the yatra area, had recommended that no person under the age of 15 years or above 65 should be encouraged to undertake the pilgrimage.
Besides, the board also did not allow yatris without compulsory health certificate to register for this year's yatra.

4) Irom Sharmila remanded to judicial custody:

 Irom Sharmila remanded to judicial custody

Activist Irom Chanu Sharmila, who has been on a fast for the past 12 years to demand withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act from Manipur, has been remanded to judicial custody for 15 days.

Sharmila who has been produced before the judicial magistrate from time to time for more than 12 years, was produced before the court of junior magistrate Imphal east district on Tuesday, who remanded her to 15-day judicial custody.Speaking to media personnel, who were present at the court, Sharmila alleged that AFSPA has not been withdrawn from the state due to "the weakness of the state government which has failed to convince the necessity to withdraw and repeal the act".

Sharmila, whose cause has been recognised nationwide, expressed her desire for all sections of the society to raise their voice collectively against the AFSPA.Under AFSPA security forces have the power to 'shoot any suspect even causing death' if he or she was suspected of acting in contravention of law.
Sharmila began her fast unto death to demand withdrawal of AFSPA from Manipur after nine innocent civilians were killed in an alleged encounter in 2000 near Imphal airport.

5) Salman to be tried for culpable homicide:

Salman to be tried for culpable homicide

A Mumbai court on Wednesday framed charges against actor Salman Khan for culpable homicide not amounting to murder in connection to an 11-year-old hit-and-run case.

Apart from Section 304(2) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), the actor was also charged under sections 279 (causing death by negligence), 337 (causing hurt by an act), 338 (causing grievous hurt), 427 (causing damage or mischief to property) of the Indian Penal Code, and provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act and Bombay Prohibition Act.The actor pleaded not guilty to all these charges.

Clad in a grey shirt and black trousers, Salman appeared before sessions Judge U B Hejib, who had on July 19 summoned him for framing of charges.The actor moved an application seeking exemption from personal appearance during the trial.Though his appeal was granted, he was directed to be present before the court whenever required.At the beginning of the proceedings, the judge expressed his inability to take up the case for framing the charges as he has been transferred.

Prosecutor Shankar Erande pleaded that charges should be framed today as the actor was going abroad for two months.At his request, the judge read out the charges to Salman, who pleaded not guilty to them.

One person was killed and four others were injured when the Land Cruiser, allegedly driven by Salman Khan, crushed a group of people sleeping on the pavement outside a bakery in suburban Bandra on September 28, 2002.Salman's lawyer Srikant Shivade urged the court to direct the media to observe restraint as too much publicity was being given to the case and the proceedings were not correctly reported.

The Judge asked the media to observe restraint in coverage and report correctly the proceedings of the case.The Sessions Court had on June 24 upheld a magistrate's order on charging the actor with culpable homicide not amounting to murder and dismissed his appeal against the verdict.The actor had earlier been tried by a metropolitan magistrate for a lesser offence of causing death by negligence (Section 304 A of IPC), which provides for a maximum sentence of two years.He will now stand trial under a law pertaining to culpable homicide that could attract a jail term up to ten years.

Sports News This Week:

Sports News

1) India in Zimbabwe 2013: Visitors aim to continue dominance:

India in Zimbabwe 2013: Visitors aim to continue dominance

An expectedly comfortable win to start with, the young Indian team under Virat Kohli would look to continue asserting its supremacy over minnows Zimbabwe when the two sides clash in the second one-dayer of the ongoing five-match series here tomorrow. In a perfect start to the tour, India thrashed Zimbabwe by six wickets with Kohli leading from the front, scoring a hundred yesterday. But the win was not without a few glitches with the inexperience of Indian bowlers exploited by a couple of Zimbabwean batsmen.

Sikander Raza nearly got a hundred while lower down the order Elton Chigumbura managed to torment the Indians for quite a while with a 34-ball 43 which included half a dozen boundaries. In fact, India's lead pacer R Vinay Kumar ended up conceding at a rate more than six in his nine overs. But on the brighter side, the rest of the attack made up for his off day with spinner Amit Mishra picking up three wickets in his 10 overs. The Zimbabwean batsmen did not exactly disgrace themselves and posted a decent total which was, however, no match to the sheer individual brilliance of Kohli.

Among others, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan had a bad day but they too should get some big scores in the series which has been described as being terribly lopsided despite India being a depleted team. Another positive to emerge for India apart from Kohli's swashbuckling knock, was the half-century by debutant Ambati Rayudu. A veteran of first-class cricket, Rayudu finally got his ODI break yesterday and delivered well with a calculated 63-run knock. If he can continue in the same vein in the coming games, the 27-year-old's confidence would certainly head northwards.

It would be interesting to see whether the Indians stick to the same line-up or try out the likes of batsman Cheteshwar Pujara and spinner Parvez Rasool. For the Zimbabweans, Raza and Chigumbura showed that application and patience can make the home team a lot more competitive than many would perceive it to be. The home team played its full 50 overs, was not all out at the end of it all and did expose some chinks in the Indian bowling attack's armoury.

2) Ashes 2013: David Warner signals potential to ease Australia's crisis:

 Ashes 2013: David Warner signals potential to ease Australia's crisis

David Warner sent a clear signal on Wednesday of his potential to ease Australia's Ashes batting crisis after smashing 193 for Australia A against their South African counterparts.Warner was despatched to southern Africa from the tour of England to find some form after being suspended for punching England batsman Joe Root in a bar.

In Pretoria, he reached three figures with his 18th boundary shortly before tea on the opening day of the four-day game.Batting at number four, he hit 29 fours and a six before being dismissed by the final ball of the day as the tourists reached 399 for five. Glenn Maxwell finished unbeaten on 103.

Australia's top order has failed to fire during defeats in the opening two tests of the five-test Ashes series. Warner is due to return to the squad in time for the third test against England, starting on August 1 at Old Trafford.He was suspended last month for punching Root in a bar following a Champions Trophy game between the teams.The 26-year-old was then banned until the first test and was not named in the team for the game. He was deemed "in need of match practice and runs in the longer format" and joined the Australia A tour to Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Australia unveiled another surprise after the selection of Ashton Agar for the first test by picking the 20-year-old off-spinner Ashton Turner for the three-day match against Sussex.The touring side are resting many of their Test players for the game at Hove, which starts on Friday.Turner, who will be making his first-class debut, has played for the Australian under-19s and joins fellow spinners Ashton Agar and Nathan Lyon in the side.Agar made his test debut against England at Trent Bridge, scoring 98 in Australia's first innings batting at number 11.

3) Indian police made Hansie Cronje the scapegoat, says father Ewie Cronje:

Indian police made Hansie Cronje the scapegoat, says father Ewie Cronje

Ewie Cronje, father of deceased former South African captain Hansie Cronje, has threatened legal action against the Indian police for filing a chargesheet which implicates his son in the 2000 match-fixing scandal. The Indian authorities have brought charges against Cronje and five international bookmakers 13 years after the scandal that rocked the international cricket fraternity. But a New Delhi court has ruled that charges against Cronje should be dropped because he died in a plane crash in 2002.

However, the original charge sheet alleges that Cronje received more than Rs 12 million in two payments from bookmaker Sanjeev Chawla but Cronje senior said Hansie had received less than a quarter of that amount. "It's nonsense. Where is the money?" Cronje told the Afrikaans daily 'Beeld' here. "I'm considering legal action against the Indian police," he added. He said he plans to move court because the Indian police had known since 1981 that match-fixing was occurring, but did nothing about it.

"Then they made Hansie the scapegoat," he said. Cronje initially denied being involved in match-fixing, even convincing his then boss and South African cricket supremo Ali Bacher to dismiss the allegations by the Indian authorities. Within days, Bacher announced Cronje's suspension even as the South African government instituted the King Commission of Inquiry to investigate the allegations following a confession by Cronje. The Commission ended inconclusively but Cronje was subsequently banned for life from cricket at all levels.

4) Pep Guardiola experiments as Bayern Munich beat Barcelona:

 Pep Guardiola experiments as Bayern Munich beat Barcelona

New coach Pep Guardiola shuffled the cards at Bayern Munich as the treble winners beat his former club Barcelona 2-0 in a friendly on Wednesday. The Spaniard, who won 14 of 19 possible titles in four years at Barcelona, made sweeping role changes as he works his way into the new job after the Bavarians won the Champions League and domestic league and Cup double last season under Jupp Heynckes. "It was a special game for me," Guardiola told reporters. "I was a Barcelona player and coach my entire life.

"Bayern have given me a very good team. I have nothing to complain about at the moment. My football is easy to understand," he said. Against a second-string Barcelona, missing new coach Gerardo Martino and big-signing Neymar as well as midfielders Xavi and Andres Iniesta among others, Guardiola started the game without a striker.Captain Philipp Lahm was pushed forward into an offensive midfield role after years of playing as right back and recent signing and former Barcelona talent Thiago Alcantara moved straight into midfield.

The move paid off in the 15th minute when the diminutive Germany international headed in a smooth Franck Ribery cross.

"Barcelona were not complete but the win is still a boost in confidence," said Frenchman Ribery. Bayern, who crushed Barcelona over two legs in the Champions League semi-final last season, were the sharper team in the first half, with their impressive depth in the squad on full display.

Barca captain Messi came close in the opening seconds with a sizzling shot but was otherwise shut out.With both teams still in pre-season training, the coaches made many changes in the second half with the game losing its pace and edge. Forward Mario Mandzukic, who came on as a substitute, added another goal late in the game, tapping in from close range.

5) Jwala Gutta, Ashwini Ponnappa hit out at Indian Badminton League:

Jwala Gutta, Ashwini Ponnappa hit out at Indian Badminton League

Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa were left disappointed with the Indian Badminton League's decision to slash their base price at the last moment in the Player's auction and termed it as "disrespectful" and "absurd".

Commonwealth Games women's doubles champions Jwala and Ashwini were two of the six icon players, who went under the hammer yesterday but just hours ahead of the player's auction, the IBL decided to reduce their base price from USD 50,000 (Rs 29,86,264) to USD 25,000 (14,93,125) after consultation with the six franchises.In the auction, Jwala went to Krrish Delhi Smashers at USD 31,000 (Rs 18,51,520), while Pune Pistons bagged Ashwini for the base price of USD 25,000.

"I am very disappointed. Me and Ashwini signed the contract as icon players and we should have been given a better deal. We were not even informed about the reduction of base price. In fact, the news that women's doubles was replaced by another men's singles, I came to know late. What can I say, It is disrespectful and I am deeply hurt and upset by IBL," Jwala told PTI.Ashwini, who won the World Championship bronze along with Jwala in London in 2011, was equally hurt at this last minute decision by the IBL.

"I didn't get a call regarding this. No one explained things to me. I am really hurt and deeply upset. Until the auction got over I didn't even know about it," Ashwini said."I heard that since there is no women's doubles competition, so our price was slashed but then how come other women's doubles players got way more than me. That is more absurd. They make you icon players and then they don't treat you with respect," Ashwini said.Interestingly, Ashwini's current women's doubles and mixed doubles partners Pradanya Gadre and Tarun Kona were bought by USD 46,000 and USD 28,000 after starting at a base price of USD 10,000 and USD 15,000.

Book Release This Week:

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth : Reza Aslan (Author)

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth : Reza Aslan (Author)

From the internationally bestselling author of No god but God comes a fascinating, provocative, and meticulously researched biography that challenges long-held assumptions about the man we know as Jesus of Nazareth.

Two thousand years ago, an itinerant Jewish preacher and miracle worker walked across the Galilee, gathering followers to establish what he called the “Kingdom of God.” The revolutionary movement he launched was so threatening to the established order that he was captured, tortured, and executed as a state criminal.

Within decades after his shameful death, his followers would call him God.

Sifting through centuries of mythmaking, Reza Aslan sheds new light on one of history’s most influential and enigmatic characters by examining Jesus through the lens of the tumultuous era in which he lived: first-century Palestine, an age awash in apocalyptic fervor. Scores of Jewish prophets, preachers, and would-be messiahs wandered through the Holy Land, bearing messages from God. This was the age of zealotry—a fervent nationalism that made resistance to the Roman occupation a sacred duty incumbent on all Jews. And few figures better exemplified this principle than the charismatic Galilean who defied both the imperial authorities and their allies in the Jewish religious hierarchy.

Balancing the Jesus of the Gospels against the historical sources, Aslan describes a man full of conviction and passion, yet rife with contradiction; a man of peace who exhorted his followers to arm themselves with swords; an exorcist and faith healer who urged his disciples to keep his identity a secret; and ultimately the seditious “King of the Jews” whose promise of liberation from Rome went unfulfilled in his brief lifetime. Aslan explores the reasons why the early Christian church preferred to promulgate an image of Jesus as a peaceful spiritual teacher rather than a politically conscious revolutionary. And he grapples with the riddle of how Jesus understood himself, the mystery that is at the heart of all subsequent claims about his divinity.

Zealot yields a fresh perspective on one of the greatest stories ever told even as it affirms the radical and transformative nature of Jesus of Nazareth’s life and mission. The result is a thought-provoking, elegantly written biography with the pulse of a fast-paced novel: a singularly brilliant portrait of a man, a time, and the birth of a religion.

Author Dr. Reza Aslan:

Author Dr. Reza Aslan

 an internationally acclaimed writer and scholar of religions, is author most recently of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth.

He is the founder of, an online journal for news and entertainment about the Middle East and the world, and co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of BoomGen Studios, the premier entertainment brand for creative content from and about the Greater Middle East.

Aslan has degrees in Religions from Santa Clara University, Harvard University, and the University of California, Santa Barbara, as well as a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa, where he was named the Truman Capote Fellow in Fiction. An Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, he is also a member of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities and the Pacific Council on International Policy. He serves on the board of directors of the Ploughshares Fund, which gives grants for peace and security issues; Narrative Four, which connects people through the exchange of stories; PEN USA, which champions the rights of writers under siege around the world; and the Levantine Cultural Center, which builds bridges between Americans and the Arab/Muslim world through the arts.

Author Dr. Reza Aslan

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