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Saturday, 31 August 2013

Subhaditya News Channel Presents Science,Political,Sports and Movies News This Week (58)

Animated Clips of NewsWeek-58

Collage of NewsWeek-58

Science News This Week:

Science News

1) NASA's Chandra Observatory Catches Giant Black Hole Rejecting Material:

Astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have taken a major step in explaining why material around the giant black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy is extraordinarily faint in X-rays. This discovery holds important implications for understanding black holes.

New Chandra images of Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), which is located about 26,000 light-years from Earth, indicate that less than 1 percent of the gas initially within Sgr A*'s gravitational grasp ever reaches the point of no return, also called the event horizon. Instead, much of the gas is ejected before it gets near the event horizon and has a chance to brighten, leading to feeble X-ray emissions.These new findings are the result of one of the longest observation campaigns ever performed with Chandra. The spacecraft collected five weeks' worth of data on Sgr A* in 2012. The researchers used this observation period to capture unusually detailed and sensitive X-ray images and energy signatures of super-heated gas swirling around Sgr A*, whose mass is about 4 million times that of the sun.
"We think most large galaxies have a supermassive black hole at their center, but they are too far away for us to study how matter flows near it," said Q. Daniel Wang of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, who led of a study published Thursday in the journal Science. "Sgr A* is one of very few black holes close enough for us to actually witness this process."The researchers found that the Chandra data from Sgr A* did not support theoretical models in which the X-rays are emitted from a concentration of smaller stars around the black hole. Instead, the X-ray data show the gas near the black hole likely originates from winds produced by a disk-shaped distribution of young massive stars.

"This new Chandra image is one of the coolest I've ever seen," said co-author Sera Markoff of the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. "We're watching Sgr A* capture hot gas ejected by nearby stars, and funnel it in towards its event horizon."To plunge over the event horizon, material captured by a black hole must lose heat and momentum. The ejection of matter allows this to occur."Most of the gas must be thrown out so that a small amount can reach the black hole," said Feng Yuan of Shanghai Astronomical Observatory in China, the study's co-author. "Contrary to what some people think, black holes do not actually devour everything that's pulled towards them. Sgr A* is apparently finding much of its food hard to swallow."The gas available to Sgr A* is very diffuse and super-hot, so it is hard for the black hole to capture and swallow it. The gluttonous black holes that power quasars and produce huge amounts of radiation have gas reservoirs much cooler and denser than that of Sgr A*.The event horizon of Sgr A* casts a shadow against the glowing matter surrounding the black hole. This research could aid efforts using radio telescopes to observe and understand the shadow. It also will be useful for understanding the effect orbiting stars and gas clouds may have on matter flowing toward and away from the black hole.NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory controls Chandra's science and flight operations from Cambridge, Mass.

2) News in Brief: Big canyon entombed beneath Greenland's ice:

Newly discovered chasm helps explain island's lack of subglacial lakes. Greenland has its very own Grand Canyon, but tourists won’t see it anytime soon. The recently discovered 750-kilometer-long chasm is buried beneath the island’s thick ice.

Glaciologist Jonathan Bamber of the University of Bristol in England and colleagues uncovered the canyon while mapping Greenland’s subglacial terrain with ice-penetrating radar. The gorge — up to 800 meters deep, or about half as deep as the Grand Canyon — stretches from central Greenland to the island’s northeast coast. A river probably carved the channel before ice spread across Greenland about 3.5 million years ago, the team proposes in the Aug. 30 Science.

The researchers suspect that today, meltwater flows through the canyon to the sea. The canyon may be one reason why meltwater at the base of Greenland’s ice sheet doesn’t form subglacial lakes. 

3) Single Gene Change Increases Mouse Lifespan by 20 Percent:

By lowering the expression of a single gene, researchers at the National Institutes of Health have extended the average lifespan of a group of mice by about 20 percent -- the equivalent of raising the average human lifespan by 16 years, from 79 to 95. The research team targeted a gene called mTOR, which is involved in metabolism and energy balance, and may be connected with the increased lifespan associated with caloric restriction.

A detailed study of these mice revealed that gene-influenced lifespan extension did not affect every tissue and organ the same way. For example, the mice retained better memory and balance as they aged, but their bones deteriorated more quickly than normal.This study appears in the Aug. 29 edition of Cell Reports."While the high extension in lifespan is noteworthy, this study reinforces an important facet of aging; it is not uniform," said lead researcher Toren Finkel, M.D., Ph.D., at NIH's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). "Rather, similar to circadian rhythms, an animal might have several organ-specific aging clocks that generally work together to govern the aging of the whole organism."

Finkel, who heads the NHLBI's Laboratory of Molecular Biology in the Division of Intramural Research, noted that these results may help guide therapies for aging-related diseases that target specific organs, like Alzheimer's. However, further studies in these mice as well as human cells are needed to identify exactly how aging in these different tissues is connected at the molecular level.The researchers engineered mice that produce about 25 percent of the normal amount of the mTOR protein, or about the minimum needed for survival. The engineered mTOR mice were a bit smaller than average, but they otherwise appeared normal.

The median lifespan for the mTOR mice was 28.0 months for males and 31.5 months for females, compared to 22.9 months and 26.5 months for normal males and females, respectively. The mTOR mice also had a longer maximal lifespan; seven of the eight longest-lived mice in this study were mTOR mice. This lifespan increase is one of the largest observed in mice so far.While the genetically modified mTOR mice aged better overall, they showed only selective improvement in specific organs. They generally outperformed normal mice of equivalent age in maze and balance tests, indicating better retention of memory and coordination. Older mTOR mice also retained more muscle strength and posture. However, mTOR mice had a greater loss in bone volume as they aged, and they were more susceptible to infections at old age, suggesting a loss of immune function.In addition to the NHLBI, this study was carried out by intramural researchers at the NIH's National Cancer Institute; National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; and National Institute on Aging.

4) Tiny human almost-brains made in lab:

Stem cells arrange themselves into a version of the most complex human organ.

Largely left to their own devices, human stem cells knitted themselves into tissue with a multitude of brain structures and specialized cadres of neurons in a form reminiscent of the brain of a nine-week-old fetus, scientists report August 28 in Nature.The tissue doesn’t approach the dizzying complexity of the human brain. Yet these tiny neural balls, each no bigger than a BB pellet, represent the most complex brain structure grown in a lab to date, researchers say. The new work could provide an unprecedented window into the early stages of human brain development, a simple way to test pharmaceuticals on human brain tissue and a way to study the brain defects of individual patients, the study authors suggest.

“They’ve done something very remarkable,” says Flora Vaccarino of Yale University.After about two months of growing in a nutrient broth, the cells specialized into neurons that populated distinct, recognizable parts of the developing brain, such as the hippocampus, retina and choroid plexus, which produces cerebrospinal fluid in the brain.The tissue clumps also had discrete parts of the cerebral cortex, the outer sheet of the human brain that’s responsible for advanced thought processes. Other properties of the human brain held true, too: Many of the neurons were actively firing off electrical messages, experiments revealed. Select groups of young neurons seemed to have migrated to a different part of the organoid, a process that helps populate the brain with neurons. And like the brain, the tissue had a rich population of a specialized stem cell called radial glial stem cells. These cells kept neuron numbers growing.

Called “cerebral organoids” by study coauthors Madeline Lancaster and J├╝rgen Knoblich of the Austrian Academy of Science in Vienna, the tiny lab-grown tissues could have big implications for brain science. Already, by growing a personalized organoid with cells from a patient, the researchers have learned about microcephaly, a developmental disorder marked by a small brain.“There is enormous potential there,” says neuroscientist Ed Lein of the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle.The organoid-growing process begins with human stem cells, taken either directly from an embryo or from adult skin samples that have been reprogrammed to an embryo-like state. These cells can grow into any tissue in the human body. To make them into a cerebral organoid, the researchers let the cells grow for a few days in a dish, and then moved them into a broth that encourages the growth of neuroectoderm tissue, the kind that ultimately creates the brain. After that, the researchers injected these cells into a drop of gel that serves as a scaffold for the cells to grow on.  In the final move, the gel droplets were transferred to spinning flasks that held nutrients.This last step was crucial, the researchers found: The spinning motion distributed oxygen and nutrients to all of the cells in the organoid. Without it, cells, especially those in the center, would starve and die.

After about two months, the organoids had pushed past the boundary of their gel droplets, reaching a diameter of about 4 millimeters.So far, the researchers have grown hundreds of these cerebral organoids and the oldest is about a year old. In the oldest ones, the cells are still alive but have stopped dividing, Lancaster says. The organoids reach maximum size after about two months; any larger and the cells on the interior would not get enough nutrients and oxygen, she says.One of the most remarkable aspects of the work is that the organoids formed these complex, brainlike structures with little from researchers, Lein says. “The biggest thing for me is realizing that most of the information for generating a brain is intrinsic,” he says. “These cells carry enough information to generate a brain.”

That means that cells from different people can easily be used to grow very different sorts of brains. As part of their study, Lancaster, Knoblich and colleagues grew a personalized organoid using cells from the skin of a patient with microcephaly. Lancaster says she immediately saw that the organoid was smaller than usual.

Microcephaly has been difficult to study. But with the microcephaly organoid, the researchers figured out why the brains were smaller. Neuron-producing radial glial cells were stopping their job too early and disappearing, the researchers found. This early termination could ultimately result in too few neurons, a situation that might also happen in microcephaly. These organoids could offer insight into more complex disorders rooted in brain development, too, such as schizophrenia and autism, says Knoblich.Of course, these organoids differ from the brain in many ways. Unlike the brain’s organized structure, regions in the organoids were arranged haphazardly. The neurons made connections, but probably not meaningful ones like those in the human brain. And important support systems, such as blood vessels, were absent.“If you look at our organoid as a whole, it is not a brain,” Knoblich says. Nonetheless, the system is a useful approximation.

5) Hidden Shell Middens Reveal Ancient Human Presence in Bolivian Amazon:

Previously unknown archeological sites in forest islands reveal human presence in the western Amazon as early as 10,000 years ago, according to research published August 28 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Umberto Lombardo from the University of Bern, Switzerland and colleagues from other institutions.

The study focuses on a region in the Bolivian Amazon thought to be rarely occupied by pre-agricultural communities due to unfavorable environmental conditions. Hundreds of 'forest islands'- small forested mounds of earth- are found throughout the region, their origins attributed to termites, erosion or ancient human activity. In this study, the authors report that three of these islands are shell middens, mounds of seashells left by settlers in the early Holocene period, approximately 10,400 years ago.

Samples of soil from these three mounds revealed a dense accumulation of freshwater snail shells, animal bones and charcoal forming the middens. The mounds appear to have formed in two phases: an older layer composed primarily of snail shells, and an overlying layer composed of organic matter containing pottery, bone tools and human bones. The two are separated by a thin layer rich in pieces of burnt clay and earth, and the uppermost layer of deposits was also seen to contain occasional fragments of earthenware pottery.

Radiocarbon analysis of two middens indicates that humans settled in this region during the early Holocene, approximately 10,400 years ago, and shells and other artefacts built up into mounds over an approximately 6,000 year period of human use. The sites may have been abandoned as climate shifted towards wetter conditions later. Lombardo adds, "We have discovered the oldest archaeological sites in western and southern Amazonia. These sites allow us to reconstruct 10,000 years of human-environment interactions in the Bolivian Amazon."

6) New Element 115, Ununpentium, May Join Periodic Table:

The periodic table of the elements has grown ever since the first version was published by Dmitri Mendeleev in 1869. And now scientists in Sweden suggest it's time to add yet another element to the table.

New research confirms the existence of a super-heavy, radioactive element with atomic number 115. Its temporary name is ununpentium (Uup), as the element has yet to be named formally. The research was conducted at the GSI accelerator facility near Darmstadt, Germany, where scientists are known for having discovered six other elements since the early 1980s."This was a very successful experiment and is one of the most important in the field in recent years," lead researcher Dr. Dirk Rudolph, physics professor at the University of Lund in Sweden, said in a written statement.

Evidence for element 115 was first discovered by Russian scientists in 2004. But additional research now has confirmed that the element's atomic number -- the number of protons in the nucleus of one atom of the substance -- is 115, BBC News reports.Dr. Rudolph and his team synthesized element 115 by blasting calcium ions (with 20 protons) at a film of americium, a radioactive element with 95 protons. Super-heavy elements like ununpentium decay rapidly, so the team measured the photons (light particles) released by the decay of the sample. They confirmed that the energy of the photons matched up with with the element's expected radioactive "fingerprint."

If added to the periodic table, element 115 would join its recently named neighbors, livermorium and flerovium (elements 114 and 116), which were added to the table in 2011.The new evidence for element 115 will be presented in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters on August 27, 2013. An international committee of physicists and chemists will review the findings to determine whether the evidence is enough to confirm the element's existence, or whether further experiments will be required.

7)_NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory Untangles Motion Inside the Sun:

Using an instrument on NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, called the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager, or HMI, scientists have overturned previous notions of how the sun's writhing insides move from equator to pole and back again, a key part of understanding how the dynamo works. Modeling this system also lies at the heart of improving predictions of the intensity of the next solar cycle.

Using SDO, scientists see a performance of explosions and fountains on the solar surface. Shots of solar material leap into the air. Dark blemishes called sunspots grow, combine and disappear as they travel across the sun's face. Bright loops of charged particles -- captured by magnetic fields dancing around the sun -- hover in the atmosphere. This dynamic display is all powered by a complex, ever-changing magnetic current inside the sun known as the dynamo. This magnetic system flips approximately every 11 years, with magnetic north and magnetic south switching poles. This process is an integral part of the sun's progression toward a pinnacle of solar activity, known as solar maximum.

The team's recent results show that, instead of a simple cycle of flow moving toward the poles near the sun's surface and then back to the equator, the material inside the sun shows a double layer of circulation, with two such cycles on top of each other. The results appear online in the Astrophysical Journal Letters on Aug. 27, 2013."For decades people have known that the solar cycle depends on the poleward flow or material, changing the magnetic fields from one cycle to the next," said Philip Scherrer, principal investigator for HMI at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif. "We mapped out what we believed to be the flow pattern in the 1990s, but the results didn't quite make sense."Since the mid-1990s researchers have been observing movement inside the sun using a technique called helioseismology. The technique makes use of the fact that waves course across the sun, back and forth, oscillating with an approximately five minute period. Such waves are similar to the seismic waves that spread out under the ground during an earthquake. By monitoring the oscillations seen at the surface of the sun, scientists can gather information about the material through which the waves traveled, including what the material is made of and how fast and in what direction it is moving.
Such observations quickly showed scientists how material inside the sun rotates from east to west: material moves more slowly at the poles than it does at the equator. The observations also soon showed that material moved from the equators toward the poles within the top 20,000 miles of the sun's surface -- but the flow back toward the equator from the poles was not detected. Early models of all this moving material, therefore, assumed that the equator-ward flow was much lower, only occurring at the bottom of the convection layer of the sun that houses these flows, some 125,000 miles down.

"Scientists have used this assumption to describe the solar dynamo," said Junwei Zhao, a helioseismologist at Stanford University in Stanford, Calif., who is the first author on the paper. "And now we have found that it isn't right. The flow patterns we have found are sharply different."Zhao and his colleagues observed two years worth of data from HMI, which differs from one of the best previous helioseismology instruments -- the Michelson Doppler Imager on board the joint European Space Agency/NASA mission the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO. SOHO observed the sun in low resolution on a regular basis, but only observed it in high resolution for a couple months each year. HMI observes the sun continuously with 16 times more detail than SOHO.Using this data, Zhao compared the helioseismology results measured at four different heights within the sun's surface, and found these results were not consistent with what the normal convention would expect. The team proposed a way to make these four sets of measurements agree with each other.This new method not only brought the four data sets into harmony, but also helped find the long-sought equatorward flow inside the sun. The team found that the flow toward the poles does indeed occur in a layer at near the sun's surface -- but the equatorward flow isn't at the bottom. Instead, the material seeps back toward the equator through the middle of the convection layer. Moreover, deep down inside the layer is a second stream of material moving toward the poles, making what the scientists refer to as a double-cell system in which two oblong flow systems are stacked on top of each other.

Political News This Week:

Political News

1) Mumbai gang-rape victim discharged from hospital:

The 23-year-old photojournalist, who was gang-raped at a defunct mill complex here nearly a week ago, has been discharged from hospital after doctors attending on her declared her "medically fit".

"The patient had improved steadily and our team of doctors specially assigned, had declared the patient medically fit for discharge last evening and hence she was discharged late last night," said a statement from Jaslok Hospital, where she was admitted after the assault.

"Best quality medical care was given to the patient at all times at the hospital," it said, and thanked the authorities for the support. The statement was issued by Dr Tarang Gianchandani, acting CEO and director, Medical Services of Jaslok.

The hospital had recently announced that the young scribe was undergoing psychological counselling sessions. The victim, an intern with an English magazine, was gang-raped by five men on August 22 when she and her male colleague had gone to the deserted mill compound in Lower Parel on an assignment.

The incident triggered outrage across the country and was condemned as despicable and shameful stirring memories of a similar attack last December in New Delhi that sparked nationwide protests. As people from all walks of life voiced their anguish, political parties, media associations and Bollywood were one demanding harshest punishment for the perpetrators of the crime in Mumbai which is seen as much far safer for women than others cities.

2) All 5 Mumbai gang-rape accused to be tried in fast-track court, Ujjwal Nikam to be public prosecutor:

Kasim Bengali and Siraj Khan (faces covered) were produced before a magistrate on August 25, 2013 who asked them whether they had any complaints against police and whether they had hired any lawyers to defend them.)

All the five accused in the gang rape of a photojournalist in a secluded area of a defunct mill here have been arrested by police with the remaining two suspects on the run being held on Sunday three days after the crime which will be tried in a fast-track court.

The Maharashtra government announced appointment of noted lawyer Ujjwal Nikam as the special public prosecutor in the case that has triggered outrage across the country even as Mumbai police intensified the hunt to trace the mobile phone used to shoot pictures of the brutal attack.

Mohammed Kasim Hafiz Shaikh alias Kasim Bengali (21), a resident of Agripada in central Mumbai and one of the accused, was arrested at 4.15am on Sunday from Mumbai Central while his accomplice Siraj Rehman Khan (24) was arrested last night. Both were remanded in police custody till August 30.

Another accused Salim Ansari (27) was arrested from Delhi by Mumbai crime branch sleuths on Sunday. He was arrested from Bharat Nagar in northwest Delhi, when he was on his way to a relative's house in the capital. He was taken to a hospital for medical test and later to Mumbai where he would be produced before a court on Monday, police said."A team of Mumbai Crime Branch today (Sunday) reached Bharat Nagar police station and enquired about a locality about which they had inputs that Ansari will be visiting. He was then nabbed when he was on his way to a relative's house here," said a senior Delhi Police official.

Two others involved in the case, Vijay Jadhav and Chand Babu Sattar Shaikh, were arrested earlier. They were on Saturday produced before the court which remanded them in police custody till August 30.All the five accused have been booked under various sections of IPC such as 376(D) (rape), 342 (wrongful confinement), 506(2) (criminal intimidation) and 34 (common intention).

Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said in Pune this evening that that the gang-rape case would be tried in a fast track court to ensure speedy justice to the victim. Chavan also said he had asked Nikam to appear as public prosecutor in the case.Nikam confirmed the development saying that Chavan and home minister RR Patil had called him up to inform about his appointment as the prosecutor. "I have given my consent," he told PTI.

The 23-year-old survivor, working as an intern with an English magazine, was gang-raped in the premises of the defunct Shakti Mills compound where she had gone along with a male colleague on an assignment to shoot pictures on August 22.Jaslok Hospital's acting CEO Dr Tarang Gianchandani, meanwhile, in a statement, said, "The victim's condition is steadily improving from all aspects. She is eating normally and her medical parameters are in control. Team of experts specially assigned to this patient is continuously monitoring her."

3) Bhatkal's journey: From engineer to India's most wanted terrorist:

Branded as the face of modern day terrorism, Zarar Ahmed Siddibaba alias Yasin Bhatkal of the banned Indian Mujahideen arrested on Wednesday night gained cult status in the homegrown terror network after the 2008 Delhi serial blasts.

After he managed to give the slip to police on two occasions, 30-year-old Yasin, one of India's most wanted terrorists, is a prize catch for which Intelligence Bureau sleuths worked day and night after picking up his presence in Nepal. Scores of people have lost their lives in terror attacks in which Yasin had a hand. Yasin is stated to have planted bombs personally in some attacks

Caught on close-circuit television at least on three occasions, he managed to give the slip to the Mumbai and Kolkata police twice before the long arm of law caught up with him at the Indo-Nepal border near Gorakhpur on Wednesday night.

Yasin was one of the several cases where well-educated youths became radicalised and took to terror activities. At the age of 21, Yasin had emerged as one of the close confidante of ganglord-turned terrorist and founder of IM Amir Reza Khan and was the key figure in ensuring that bombs and anti-national material were transported from a beach house in Karnataka's coastal district of Bhatkal to other parts of the country in 2004.

His first brush with terror is believed to have started from Vitthalamakki and Hakkalamane in North Karnataka from where bombs were supplied to specialised Indian Mujahideen training camps spread across the country. Yasin was detained in Kolkata and Mumbai from where he managed to get released by concealing his identity.

He was caught on CCTV just before the German bakery blast in Pune in 2010 and later at blasts at Cyberabad's Dilkhush Nagar earlier this year. Earlier, he managed to flee less than an hour before police raided the IM safe house in the Bhadra forests outside Chikmagalur in October, 2008.

Yasin is believed to be jailed in November 2009 and walked out on bail after he had identified himself as Muhammad Ashraf. His questioning will be helpful to the security agencies in understanding the rise of the modern day terror in India.After the Delhi serial blasts in 2008, his role started surfacing in a big way during a check on his background and previous involvements.

4) Blast kills bomb expert without suit:

A CID bomb squad member who was not wearing a protective suit died when the explosive he was called to defuse went off in Alipurduar this morning.

None of the four squad members was wearing the protective suit, a must for the task.They were in civilian clothes, with a sleeveless jacket that had “CID West Bengal” written on it.Police said they suspected the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), which had called a strike in Jalpaiguri district yesterday over its statehood demand, had planted the bomb.

Late in the evening, the police arrested Gouranga Roy, a resident of Mainaguri in Jalpaiguri district, on the suspicion of being linked to the blast.The police did not say if Roy was a KLO member.Police officers alleged that the four members of the bomb squad, who had gone from Siliguri about 130km away, were “fiddling around carelessly” with the explosive.Around 3am today, some private security guards noticed a red-and-white bag dangling from an abandoned bicycle in the Chowpathy area, a busy crossing in Alipurduar town that has many shops.Jalpaiguri superintendent of police Amit P. Javalgi said that on closer scrutiny, the guards found a can that was attached by a wire to a timepiece. The guards alerted the police.

“A police team reached the spot around 4.30am, removed the bag from the cycle using a long bamboo pole and moved the bag to an open field about 300m away from the shops,” Javalgi said. The policemen put sandbags around the bag in the field.

They also cordoned off the field and informed the CID bomb squad in Siliguri, the only such team in north Bengal.The four-member squad reached Alipurduar at 9.45am, according to district police chief.After speaking to Javalgi, the team set upon the task of defusing the bomb.At 10.10am, when one of the squad members, Lal Bahadur Lohar, was near the bag, the explosive went off, killing the 48-year-old constable on the spot.The three other bomb squad members were injured.All the injured have been admitted to hospital.The police said the bomb squad was aware that the improvised explosive device had a timer attached to it.

The clock, attached with a piece of wire to the can, had been spotted by the private night guards and the matter had been reported by the local police to the bomb squad, the police said.“It was obvious that the timer had been set and could have gone off any moment,” a Jalpaiguri police officer said.“The bomb squad members should have been more cautious and should have worn their protective suits.”The officer added: “When you know that there is a timer attached to an IED, you should also be aware that it can go off any moment.”It is, however, not possible for anyone to figure out when a bomb might go off.Although some police officers in Alipurduar said that the local team of cops had done the right thing by taking the IED to a field as the area would have got crowded later in the day, a Calcutta police officer differed.He said no one should have touched the bomb under any circumstance.If an explosive is planted in a place likely to attract crowds — the bomb was near shops in Alipurduar — then the place should be evacuated first, the officer said.

It can take at least half an hour for a squad to defuse an explosive.This is the third incident in which negligence on the part of the police has led to deaths while defusing IEDs.In 2005, the officer in charge of Barikul police station in Bankura died while opening a bag in which he suspected an IED had been stored.In 2006, two members of a bomb squad, Utpal Bhakta and Basudeb Chakrabarty, died when an IED they were defusing in Jhitka forest in West Midnapore exploded.In neither of the cases were the personnel wearing the protective suits mandatory while defusing explosives.In today’s incident, senior police officers said, the bomb squad members were as negligent.

5) Landmark Land Acquisition Bill gets Lok Sabha nod:

The path-breaking Land Acquisition Bill, which seeks to provide just and fair compensation to farmers while ensuring that no land can be acquired forcibly, was passed by the Lok Sabha with overwhelming majority on Thursday."The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2012" stipulates mandatory consent of at least 70 per cent for acquiring land for Public Private Partnership projects and 80 per cent for acquiring land for private companies.The bill, which will replace over a century-old law, proposes compensation that is up to four times the market value in rural areas and two times the market value in urban areas.The bill was passed with 216 votes in favour and 19 against.Left parties, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Biju Janata Dal members staged a walkout. Trinamool Congress voted against the bill while main Opposition BJP as also SP and BSP supported the legislation.

381 amendments were moved to the bill, of which 166 were official ones. Of the Opposition amendments, some were withdrawn and others defeated during voting.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi and home minister and Leader of the House Sushilkumar Shinde, apparently unwell, did not participate in the voting as they left when amendments were being moved.The government accepted some opposition amendments, including two moved by Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj. These included that instead of acquisition, land could be leased to developers so that its ownership remains with farmers and provide them regular annual income.

Swaraj had also suggested provision for payment of 50 per cent compensation to original owners whose land was purchased after introduction of the Bill in Lok Sabha in September 2011.Government agreed to 40 per cent."There will be no forceful acquisition of land under this law. This legislation will provide lawful right of the farmers over their land and no right of forceful acquisition to government," Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said while winding up the day-long discussion on the Bill.Asserting that the new law will address "historical injustice", the minister said this law is being enacted under the Concurrent list and the states can bring their own law on the subject without derogating from the central law.Allaying fears of Muslim community, he made it clear that the Wakf land will not be acquired under this law.The Bill will replace the archaic Act of 1894 which suffers from various shortcomings including silence on the issue of resettlement and rehabilitation of those displaced by the acquisition of land.

In his reply, Ramesh sought to reach out to all political parties including BJP, JD-U, TMC and the Left, telling them that he had tried to accommodate several of their concerns in the bill and many of the amendments suggested by them have been turned into official amendments.

The bill proposes benefits such as land for land, housing, employment and annuities that shall accrue in addition to the one-time cash payments for whose land is acquired.To address historical injustice, the bill applies retrospectively to cases where no land acquisition award has been made.No law can be acquired in Scheduled Areas without the consent of the Gram Sabhas and no one shall be dispossessed until and unless all payments are made and alternative sites for the resettlement and rehabilitation have been prepared.

The bill proposed to provide compensation to those who are dependent on the land being acquired for their livelihood.To safeguard food security and to prevent arbitrary acquisition, the bill directs states to impose limits on the area under agricultural cultivation that can be acquired.In case land remains unutilised after acquisition, the new bill empowers states to return the land either to the owner or to the State Land Bank.No income tax shall be levied and no stamp duty shall be charged on any amount that accrues to an individual as a result of the provisions of the new law.Where acquired land is sold to a third party for a higher price then 40 per cent of the appreciated land value (or profit) will be shared with the original owners.In every project those losing land and belonging to the SC or ST will be provided land equivalent to land acquired or two and a one-half acres, whichever is lower (this is higher than in the case of non -SC/ST affected families)Where the affected families belonging to the SC and the ST are relocated outside of the district then they shall be paid an additional twenty-five per cent rehabilitation and resettlement benefits to which they are entitled in monetary terms along with a one-time entitlement of Rs 50,000.

6) How India's economic crisis affects the common man:

This columnist cannot pretend to be an economic expert but can certainly point out that the statistics being reeled out on a daily basis now, have added to the economic burden of the people, says Seema Mustafa.Nineteen ninety one seems to be staring the Indian whiz kids in the face. Two decades down the line, the economic policies of recent governments have burst the dream bubble, with the rupee all set to touch a 80-to-a-dollar high, gold prices increasing even as one writes, and foreign exchange reserves disappearing by the hour.Except for ‘all will be well’ murmurings from the government, there has been little else to assure the people that the decline will be reversed, and the promises of an India leaping ahead with amazing growth figures, will be kept.The Left parties had been warning of this crisis ever since the governments of India plunged into reckless economic reforms, but the media joined industry and government to dub the objections as ‘outdated’.

In fact some newspapers took great delight in ointing to the fact that a particular Communist leader was friendly with industry, or another had his son studying abroad, to divert attention from the larger objection and the alternative economic policies offered by well known economists for sustained but perhaps comparatively low paced growth.This columnist cannot pretend to be an economic expert but can certainly point out that the statistics being reeled out on a daily basis now, have added to the economic burden of the people. Distress suicides have been reported from some of the big cities even before this current collapse, with entire families taking their own lives because of economic hardship.

Suicides by farmers is well known, but even if the figures have declined somewhat, there is little to suggest that the poor and marginal farmers are being able to make their ends meet. Agrarian unrest is visible on the roads with peasants coming together to protest against the acquisition of their land by government or private or both parties, and staying on the roads for months and years as in Orissa to prevent their land from being acquired by the big companies.

The urban poor is adversely affected, with the gap between the rich who flourished under the new economic policies, and the poor becoming more visible and stark. The 1990 images of slums nestling along luxurious skyscrapers have never really gone away, except that in Delhi the slums have been made to disappear from the main city so that the poor remain out of sight.Unlike their grandparents the poor urban youth are not resigned to their fate, but are openly hostile, angry and alienated with the gap constantly staring them in the face in the big cities. No one wants to admit it, but the increasing cases of gang rape in the metropolis can be directly linked to this increasing anger, with the slumlords joining the feudal overlords, or the conquering armies of the past, to target and attack women.

In Delhi and in Mumbai, the two incidents of gang rape that had women protesting on the streets for days on end, were clearly a manifestation of this alienation and subsequent violence, and of course the larger understanding that they would get away, because of the reprehensible law and order situation in the country. Recent figures show one lakh rape cases are still pending in the courts.Prices are beyond the poor family’s reach with the additional burden on the poor unimaginable. Onions at Rs 80 make a mockery of the national food bill recently passed by the Congress government to make some grains available to the poor at a low price. Ironically this comes after almost ten years -- not including the National Democratic Alliance government’s term in office -- of dispensing with the excellent public distribution system that made the same and more available for those with ration cards. There were some problems but instead of dealing with these and restoring the PDS chain, the government decided to do away with the scheme altogether despite protests from the Left and some of the regional parties, leaving the poor without the means to sustain themselves despite rising prices. The middle class is reeling under the impact, the poor are silent and desperate, with now even the rich with their investments and their gold and their travels abroad seriously affected.This was the story of South Asia but India claimed to have stepped out of the cesspool. It now seems that we are all back in the mess together.

7) All you wanted to know about the food security bill:

Sakshi Balani presents an FAQ on the Food Security Bill that was passed by Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

The National Food Security Bill follows from the National Food Security Ordinance, 2013 that was promulgated by the government on July 5. The bill seeks to make the right to food and nutritional security a legal right by providing specific entitlements to certain groups. Some key provisions of the bill are summarised below:

Who is entitled to food security?

The bill categorises the population into an Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) group, a priority group and an excluded category. The excluded category is retained at 25 per cent of the rural and 50 per cent of the urban population. The AAY category will be as per existing norms (about 10 per cent of all households).As compared to earlier versions, the bill does not include entitlements for starving, destitute and homeless persons although pregnant women and children continue to be included as beneficiaries.

How much foodgrain will beneficiaries be entitled to?

The bill provides different entitlements to groups. The poorest of the poor (the AAY group) will receive 35 kg of  foodgrain/family/month while others (the priority group) will receive 5 kg of foodgrain/person/month.How much will beneficiaries have to pay for the foodgrains?All beneficiaries will have to pay Rs 3/kg for rice, Rs 2/kg for wheat, Re 1/kg for coarse grains. These prices can be revised after the first three years, up to the level of the minimum support price (assured price paid by the Centre to farmers at the time it buys grains from them).

How will beneficiaries be identified?

The central government will be responsible for determining the total number of persons to receive food security in each state. Each state government will be responsible for specifying criteria for identifying households. States will also be responsible for identifying exact households according to these criteria. AAY households will be identified according to the scheme guidelines.

What will the central allocations to states be?

The centre will allocate foodgrain to states based on the number of persons to be covered in each state. However, if the annual allocation to a state is less than the quantity of foodgrain it lifts from the central stocks for the last three years under the existing TPDS, the same shall be protected at prices determined by the Centre. The bill specifies the quantity of allocation to states.

When is the government not liable for ensuring food security?

The bill specifies that the Centre and states shall not be liable for failure to supply foodgrains in conditions such as war, flood, drought, earthquake, etc. It allows the Centre to consult with the Planning Commission to declare the onset of any of the above conditions.

How will the Centre and states split responsibilities?

The Centre will be responsible for transporting foodgrain to the central depots in each state. The state will be responsible for the last mile delivery -- transporting foodgrain from the state depots to each ration shop. In case of short supply of foodgrain, the Centre will provide cash to the states, which will be passed on to the beneficiaries.

What financial assistance will states receive from the Centre?

The bill specifies that the Centre will provide states with funds in case of short supply of foodgrains. The Centre shall also provide assistance to state governments for meeting their expenditure on intra-state movement, handling of foodgrains, and margins paid to fair price shop dealers.

What are some of the reforms to the public distribution system?

The bill allows for reforms to TPDS that include using technology and introducing cash transfers and food coupons to ensure foodgrain entitlements for beneficiaries. It also allows for the use of Aadhaar to identify beneficiaries and for the delivery of foodgrains to the doorstep of each ration shop.

What is the grievance redressal mechanism?

A grievance redressal mechanism has been set up at the district and state levels. Vigilance committees have also been established at the state, district, block and ration shop levels. The bill also contains provisions for social audits.

The author is an analyst at PRS Legislative Research:

8) 5 militants killed in Kashmir encounter:

Security forces gunned down five militants in north Kashmir's Ganderbal district on Thursday night.The slain militants were reportedly members of the Hizbul MujahideenA senior police officer said troops of 24 Rashtriya Rifles and local police jointly launched an operation in the Nujwan forest area near Kangan, 35 km from Srinagar."Five militants were killed in the gunfight that ended this morning. Searches are still continuing in the area," he said.

Movies Release This Week:


Brent Magna must get behind the wheel and follow the orders of a mysterious man to save his kidnapped wife.

Tells of the adventure of a group of British boarding school girls as they go on the hunt for buried treasure after discovering that headmistress Miss Fritton (Everett) is related to a famous pirate.

Martin and Claudia are lawyers -- and ex-lovers -- who find themselves put at risk after they join the defense team for an international terrorist's trial.

From screenwriter/director Brian De Palma (The Black Dahlia, The Untouchables, Scarface), Passion stars leading-actress Rachel McAdams (Midnight in Paris, The Vow) and the talented Noomi Rapace (Prometheus, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo). Based on the 2010 French thriller Love Crime, Passion tells the enthralling story of a deadly power struggle between two women in the dog-eat-dog world of international business.

Four bandmates must piece together a night of hard drinking, before their big rock and roll tour begins.

Important Movie That Released Previously:

Indian political action thriller film directed by Shoojit Sircar and produced by John Abraham and Ronnie Lahiri. The main role of an Indian intelligence agent in the film is played by John Abraham, while Nargis Fakhri, who is the female lead, plays an international reporter. The film also deals with the subject of terrorism, and was shot in India and Sri Lanka. The film was earlier titled Jaffna. It is set to release on August 23. The trailer was released with "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag" on July 12, 2013. Written by Madras Cafe

An Indian Intelligence agent (portrayed by John Abraham)journeys into a war torn coastal island, to break a resolute rebel group. He deftly maneuvers his resources to make significant breakthroughs, amidst a scenario where the enemy has no face and the only counsel is 'Don't get caught.' At various junctions, he meets a charismatic and passionate journalist (portrayed by Nargis Fakhri) who is following her will to reflect the truth behind the civil war. The story unfolds as their quest for the truth reveals a deeper conspiracy, by a faceless enemy, united to seize a common nemesis - India.

Sports News This Week:

Sports News

1) Top seeds survive on mixed day at US Open:

The contrasting fortunes of grand slam tennis were on full display at the US Open on Thursday. Some dreams were made while others were shattered.

Victoria Duval, the teenaged American who had captured the hearts of New York with her feats both on and off the court, was knocked out in straight sets in a brutal reminder of how far she still has to go to reach the top.

For Sara Errani, the world's fifth ranked woman, the pressure of playing in the Big Apple became too much and she crumbled under pressure, tearfully admitting she had choked.The tournament's biggest stars all survived unscathed, ruthlessly dispatching their opponents with a minimum of fuss in a sport where there is little room for sentiment if your ultimate aim is to collect grand slam titles.Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Serena Williams have 45 major singles titles between them and the trio won their second round matches in straight sets, as they normally do. For them, the championship never really starts until the second week.


For the vast majority, the last grand slam of the year is a stringent test of character from start to finish, where every win is cherished.

There was no better example on Thursday than the Englishman Dan Evans, who is playing at the U.S. Open for the first time.

Ranked 179th in the world, he needed to come through the qualifying tournament just to get into the main draw and was not expected to go much further.

The formality of a first round exit was lost on the 23-year-old, however, as he tore up the script and carried his qualifying form onto the big stage.

In his opening match, the Briton pulled off the biggest win of his career when he upset Japan's Kei Nishikori, ranked 12th in the world, with many observers expecting that performance to be the highlight of his campaign.

2) Rampant India take on hosts Malaysia in Asia Cup semis:

Brimming with confidence after three consecutive wins, India will have to guard against complacency when they take on hosts Malaysia, a team who are capable of springing up surprises, in the semifinal of the ninth Asia Cup hockey tournament on Friday.

Unlike their opponents, the Indians will be high on confidence after securing their semifinal berth with an unbeaten record. The Sardar Singh-led side spanked debutants Oman 8-0, followed by wins over defending champions South Korea (2-0) and Bangaldesh (9-1) to top Pool B.

Malaysia, on the other hand, finished second in Pool A after they won against Chinese Taipei and Japan but lost to Pakistan in their Pool A engagements.

An Unpredictable opponent

Fully aware that two more wins here would ensure their ticket for next year's World Cup at The Hague, Netherlands, the 11th ranked Indians cannot afford to relax at the business end of the eight-nation tournament, and especially against an unpredictable side like Malaysia.

India, who never missed out on a World Cup berth since the tournament's introduction in 1971, will like to avoid the repeat of yet another debacle after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where the Indian team had failed to qualify for the first time in the history of the game. Having played Malaysia on numerous occasions, the Indians, who start as favourites, know very well that the hosts on their given day can upset top teams of the world.

Another factor which will work against India in the semifinal is home support. Come tomorrow, and the Malaysians will be backed by a vociferous home crowd, a fact which India captain Sardar Singh admitted. "It is a very crucial match for us in the recent times. Malaysia is tough opponent. You cannot predict them. We will have to play against the entire stadium tomorrow as they will have home support behind them," Sardar said.

3) Broke AIFF, broken Pailan Arrows: Federation disbands its youth club:

Acute financial constraints and poor infrastructural facilities forced the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to disband its youth team, the Pailan Arrows. The decision was finalised during the federation's meeting with I-League club representatives in the capital on Thursday.

Speculations over the youth team's future have been rife. Late last month though, the AIFF quashed the rumours and announced an agreement had been reached with the sponsors, Pailan, and the club would continue to exist. The lack of finances ultimately took its toll tough.

The Arrows, who ran on an annual budget of approximately Rs 7 crore, were based in Kolkata after being initially put up in Delhi. Several clubs from Kolkata were badly affected after the chit-fund scam broke and many of them were forced to shut shop.

AIFF general secretary Kushal Das said the sponsors were not able to make a financial commitment, leaving them with little choice. The players also complained to the AIFF. The poor facilities at the accommodation provided by the sponsors and basic food requirements were met with a lot of difficulty.

"The place where the players were put up was not up to the mark and they (sponsors) found it hard to meet the caterer's demands. It was getting difficult for them to manage the expenses. We thought that rather than discontinuing the team in the middle of the season, we will do so now," Das said.

The Arrows were formed three years ago with the idea of giving youth players more playing time instead of having them warm benches at established I-League clubs. Their long-term plan was to make these players the backbone of the 2018 World Cup qualifying team.

The experiment yielded mixed results but the team produced several players who have gone on to become national team regulars in a short span. Jeje Lalpekhlua, Manandeep Singh, Gurpreet Singh, Lalrindika Ralte, Alwyn George and Shouvik Ghosh are some of the players who have enhanced their reputation with Arrows.

4) Somdev Devvarman battles his way into US Open second round:

Somdev Devvarman battled his way through rain interruptions to notch up a hard-fought victory over Lukas Lacko of Slovakia in a gruelling opening round match of the men's singles competition at the US Open tennis. Also Read: Venus Williams knocked out

The 28-year-old rallied from a set down to win the next two when rain interrupted the match. The Indian, however, returned to complete the job as he emerged 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 4 6, 6-4 victories in the match which lasted three hours and 11 minutes at Flushing Meadows last night. The world number 114 Indian will next take on Italian Andrea Seppi, ranked 20th, in the second round. Seppi beat Belgian veteran Xavier Malisse 6-3, 3-6, 7-5, 7-5 in another men's singles match.Facing Lukas for the first time, Somdev tried to curb his unforced errors and rode on his better net play and breakpoint coversation rate to surpass the world number 84 Slovak. Also Read: Venus wows to come backSomdev won 93 per cent of the net points compared to Lukas's 63 per cent and also converted eight of the 12 break points that came his way.

He also committed just 36 unforced errors, while Slovak had double the number of unforced errors (73) in the match.The Indian, who was laid low for more than a year after suffering a shoulder injury, won more than 50 per cent of points when serving at 30-30 or Deuce. Also Read: I'm definitely looking for a good close to the season, says SomdevHowever, Lukas was way ahead when it came to hitting aces and winners. The Slovak hit 47 winners and 11 aces, compared to Somdev's 30 and 5 respectively.

5) Smash-hit Hyderabad Hotshots sail into Indian Badminton League final:

Hyderabad Hotshots stormed into the finals of the inaugural Indian Badminton League (IBL) 3-0 in the first semi-finals against Pune Pistons at the GMC Balayogi indoor stadium.

Star shuttler and Hyderabad Hotshots' Saina Nehwal beat Pune's Juliane Schenk 21-10, 19-21, 11-8 in the women's singles while Ajay Jayaram defeated Tien Minh Nyugen 21-17, 21-11. Hotshots' pair of Goh V Shem and Wah Lim Khim them emerged victorious in the doubles event against Pune's Joachim Fischer and Sanave Thomas to take their team into the final. They won 16-21, 21-14, 11-7.

Earlier, Saina survived some anxious moments before prevailing over Schenk in a tight contest as Hotshots took a 2-0 lead over Pune Pistons. Hyderabad's icon player Saina won a tense decider after she could not finish off the match in the second game. Jayaram pulled off a surprising victory over the top-ranked Tien Minh Nyugen in the first match.

Marquee clash

The match between Saina and Schenk, currently world No. 4 and No. 3, respectively, proved to be an exciting battle marked by long rallies, powerful smashes and drop shots as both tried to outsmart each other.The first game went in Saina's favour as she managed to expand her initial lead of 7-3 at the time of the first break to a massive 14-4 by the second interval. Saina gained momentum as the game progressed and some unforced errors proved to be the undoing for her German opponent who conceded the first game 10-21.Schenk, however, put up a tough fight in the second game which witnessed long rallies between the two as they did not let any opportunity to score go by.

Saina had an edge of 7-6 by the first break and succeeded in taking it to 14-8 by the second interval. Schenk, however, staged a remarkable comeback and levelled the score at 18-18 before taking the game at 21-19.

Book Of This Week:

The Longest Ride : by Nicholas Sparks:

The Longest Ride : by Nicholas Sparks:


Ira Levinson is in trouble. At ninety-one years old, in poor health and alone in the world, he finds himself stranded on an isolated embankment after a car crash. Suffering multiple injuries, he struggles to retain consciousness until a blurry image materializes and comes into focus beside him: his beloved wife Ruth, who passed away nine years ago. Urging him to hang on, she forces him to remain alert by recounting the stories of their lifetime together - how they met, the precious paintings they collected together, the dark days of WWII and its effect on them and their families. Ira knows that Ruth can't possibly be in the car with him, but he clings to her words and his memories, reliving the sorrows and everyday joys that defined their marriage.
A few miles away, at a local bull-riding event, a Wake Forest College senior's life is about to change. Recovering from a recent break-up, Sophia Danko meets a young cowboy named Luke, who bears little resemblance to the privileged frat boys she has encountered at school. Through Luke, Sophia is introduced to a world in which the stakes of survival and success, ruin and reward -- even life and death - loom large in everyday life. As she and Luke fall in love, Sophia finds herself imagining a future far removed from her plans -- a future that Luke has the power to rewrite . . . if the secret he's keeping doesn't destroy it first.

Ira and Ruth. Sophia and Luke. Two couples who have little in common, and who are separated by years and experience. Yet their lives will converge with unexpected poignancy, reminding us all that even the most difficult decisions can yield extraordinary journeys: beyond despair, beyond death, to the farthest reaches of the human heart.

Meet the Author:Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Sparks is the author of 17 books. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and children. You can visit the author's web site at www.

Sparks came to his career in an unconventional way: Sidelined after a running injury at University of Notre Dame, where he had won a full track scholarship and still holds the 4x800 relay record, he decided to write a book after his mother offhandedly suggested it as a way to make him stop brooding. His first novel remains unpublished ("It's a wonderful story -- except for the writing," he wrote later), but he kept trying. He later coauthored an inspirational title called Wokini; but his third novel (The Notebook) was the charm.

Blockbuster film adaptations of Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember, and The Notebook have turned Sparks into a successful Hollywood franchise.

Sparks' wife is probably one of the most envied wives around. She met Nicholas in college at spring break, where he informed her that they would be married. She laughed him off, but they were married just over a year later. He told Barnes & in a 1999 interview, "I suppose I'm a romantic. Ladies Home Journal has even called me the Most Romantic Husband in America. In fact, I sent my wife a dozen roses today."

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