|Animated Collage of NewsWeek (60)|
|Collage of Headlines of NewsWeek (60)|
Science News This Week:
1) At last, Voyager 1 slips into interstellar space:
Solar blast data provides definitive evidence that spacecraft has cruised beyond the sun’s clutch. Humankind has officially extended its reach to the space between the stars.
NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft exited the vast bubble of particles that encircles the sun and planets on August 25, 2012, mission scientists report September 12 in Science. At the time, Voyager was about 18.2 billion kilometers from the sun, or nearly 122 times as far from the sun as Earth.“This is the beginning of a new era of exploration for us,” says Edward Stone of Caltech, who has headed the Voyager mission since 1972. “For the first time, we are exploring interstellar space.”Confirmation of Voyager’s interstellar exploits came after determining that the probe is surrounded by a relatively dense fog of galactic particles rather than a thin mist of solar ones. It was a tricky measurement that required patience, clever detective work and a heavy dose of luck.
NASA launched Voyager 1 and 2 in 1977 to explore the outer planets, but from the beginning Stone’s team hoped the probes would survive long enough to investigate the region of space where our star’s dominance finally wanes. The sun unleashes a flood of hot, charged particles called plasma that jets out in all directions. The plasma forms a bubble called the heliosphere that is tens of billions of kilometers in diameter. Over the last decade, the solar plasma around Voyager 1 has thinned as the spacecraft hurtles toward the edge of the bubble at more than 60,000 kilometers per hour. Astronomers have been waiting for Voyager to cross this boundary — the heliopause, where solar particles give way to even speedier particles ejected by other stars — and enter interstellar space.The first evidence that Voyager had reached that boundary appeared on July 28, 2012, when the number of solar particles measured by Voyager plummeted. But the particle count rebounded a few days later. Three similar dips and recoveries occurred in the following weeks until August 25, when solar particles disappeared for good (SN Online: 6/27/13). The solar particle measurement, combined with a surge in higher-energy particles from other stars, suggested that Voyager had exited the heliosphere and reached the promised land. Several well-publicized studies made that claim.Stone and his colleagues resisted that conclusion. They lacked evidence of what they thought would be the key signature of interstellar space: a shift in the direction of the magnetic field. Solar plasma produces a distinctive magnetic field because it all comes from the same source; scientists expected that the field would shift in interstellar space, where particles flit around in all directions. Despite the particle evidence that Voyager had departed the heliosphere, the magnetic field direction remained constant. “We felt we did not have the smoking gun to say that we had left the solar bubble,” Stone says.What the Voyager team needed was another independent measurement to confirm the story implied by the particle data. One option was to prove that Voyager was surrounded by cold, dense plasma from interstellar space rather than hot, wispy plasma from the sun. Such a measurement would have been straightforward except that Voyager 1’s plasma instrument stopped working somewhere near Saturn 33 years ago.
Donald Gurnett, a Voyager scientist at the University of Iowa, found a way to get the measurement anyway. Poring over data from another instrument on the spacecraft, Gurnett discovered that in April 2013 a blast wave from the sun, the same kind that can cause solar storms on Earth, had reached Voyager’s neck of the woods and jostled electrons in the surrounding plasma. It was the first such energetic solar shock in nine years. “In that sense we were lucky,” Stone says.
Gurnett then used the frequency of the electron vibrations to calculate that plasma surrounding Voyager 1 was about 50 times as dense as scientists would expect inside the heliosphere, a sign that the spacecraft had entered interstellar space.“The study very definitively shows that we’re in the interstellar medium,” says Gary Zank, a space physicist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville who was not involved in the research. “There’s no way of producing a density of that size within the heliosphere.”Not everyone agrees, including a few holdouts on the Voyager team. George Gloeckler and Lennard Fisk, both from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, have written a paper demonstrating how plasma could become dense enough within the heliosphere to produce Gurnett’s measurement. “Gurnett definitely measured the density correctly,” Gloeckler says. “But I don’t believe you can say that what he measured is the interstellar plasma.”Barring a change in the magnetic field, Gloeckler believes the team should wait another two or three years for Voyager 2, which has a working instrument to measure the density and temperature of plasma, to reach a similar position in space. “Voyager 2 will experimentally answer this question,” he says. “Why rush to conclusions now?”
Zank and many other astrophysicists say the evidence is overwhelming that Voyager 1 has crossed the heliopause, but they acknowledge that they have to determine why the magnetic field direction didn’t shift. At the same time, scientists are combing through more than a year’s worth of data Voyager 1 has collected since entering interstellar space. NASA estimates that Voyager 1 has enough plutonium fuel to keep all its instruments powered for another seven years, giving the probe plenty of time to measure an environment littered with particles that originated in distant stars and violent supernovas. “All this will give us considerable insight into what’s happening in the far reaches of the galaxy,” Zank says.For now, Stone and other scientists are excited about the robotic explorer’s accomplishment on August 25, 2012 — the same date, coincidentally, that the world lost its most famous human space explorer, Neil Armstrong.
2) Vaccine stops deadly sand-fly-spread scourge in animal test:
DNA immunization protects hamsters and mice from Leishmania parasite.
A lethal parasite appears susceptible to an experimental vaccine that seizes upon the scourge’s apparatus for invading cells.Researchers prompted animals’ immune systems to destroy Leishmania protozoa by inducing mass-production of the very protein receptor that the parasites use as a pry bar to break into blood cells. Alerting the immune system to the receptor protein protects mice and hamsters against the parasites, the scientists report in the Sept. 11 Science Translational Medicine.Leishmania parasites are spread by the bite of sand flies. They cause skin infections and sometimes deadly swelling of internal organs. There is no vaccine to prevent leishmaniasis disease, which affects around 12 million people. What’s more, the drugs used for the visceral form are “costly, limited and toxic,” wrote biologist Naomi Dunning-Foreman in Bioscience Horizons in 2009 while at Nottingham Trent University in England.The new study, by Amitabha Mukhopadhyay of the National Institute of Immunology in New Delhi and colleagues, exploits the parasites’ most obvious weakness: They cannot make heme — the iron-toting part of hemoglobin, which the parasites need to survive — and so must steal it. For that, the parasites have a receptor protein that binds to the hemoglobin in cells, setting off a process that degrades hemoglobin. This allows the parasites to extract heme.
The vaccine consists of the DNA blueprint for manufacturing the parasites’ receptor protein. When the scientists injected the vaccine into animals, the DNA entered cells, which then manufactured copies of the receptor protein. That flood of proteins alerted the immune system, which formed a standing army of T cells and immune proteins that identify and attack the receptor.To test whether the attack shuts down the disease, the scientists injected immunized animals with live Leishmania donovani parasites, a species that causes visceral leishmaniasis. Within 60 days, more than 99 percent of the parasites were vanquished in the mice and hamsters. All vaccinated hamsters were still alive more than eight months after exposure to the parasite; all unvaccinated hamsters had died by then. (The researchers didn’t measure survival of mice.)“This is definitely promising research,” says Dunning-Foreman, who is completing research she did for the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. She notes that the receptor protein the vaccine targets shows up across all species of Leishmania. “It’s quite incredible.”
3) Researchers discover how to map cell-signaling molecules to their targets:
A team of University of Montreal and McGill University researchers have devised a method to identify how signaling molecules orchestrate the sequential steps in cell division. In an article published online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists explain how they could track the relationship between signaling molecules and their target molecules to establish where, when and how the targets are deployed to perform the many steps necessary to replicate an individual cell's genome and surrounding structures.
Breakdowns in individual steps in these processes are a hallmark of a number of diseases, including cancers. The method outlined in the PNAS paper could provide a valuable tool to researchers seeking to better understand these processes."How living cells divide and how this process is accurately achieved are among the deepest questions scientists have been addressing for decades," said Dr. Stephen Michnick, co-senior investigator and a University of Montreal biochemistry professor. Co-senior investigator Jackie Vogel, a biology professor at McGill, said, "We know what are the main players in cell division – molecules called cyclins and a common actuator molecule called Cdk1 – but it has proved a vexing problem to figure out precisely how the cyclin-Cdk1 partners deploy target molecules to orchestrate everything that must happen and in precisely the right order to assure accurate cell division."
The University of Montreal and McGill team worked out a method to identify interactions between cyclin-Cdk1 (cyclin-dependent kinase 1) complexes and their targets in living cells. Cdk1 is a signaling protein that plays a key role in cell division – it has been studied extensively in yeast, because of yeast's rapid reproduction, and is found in many other living organisms including humans. "It is a simple method that could be performed in any laboratory, unlike existing methods that are much more labor- and skill-intensive," said Dr. Michnick.
"The method also picks up cyclin-Cdk1 interactions that traditional methods don't," added Dr. Vogel. "For instance, we study the assembly of a massive molecular machine called the mitotic spindle, a structure that orchestrates the coordinated separation of two copies of the genome between the two new cells that emerge from division. We'd been chasing, for over a decade, an elusive link between a specific cyclin called Clb3-Cdk1 complex and a spindle target called gamma-tubulin that we thought could be a key step in building mitotic spindles accurately. All evidence pointed to this interaction, including a massive effort I was involved in to map out cellular communication directed to the centrosome, a molecular machine that organizes assembly of the mitotic spindle. So we teamed up with Dr. Michnick to try the new method and out popped the Clb3-Cdk1-gamma tubulin interaction—just like that." Now, in collaboration with Paul François, a physics professor at McGill, the researchers have been able to use this information to show that the Clb3-Cdk1-gamma-tubulin interaction controls a massive remodeling of the mitotic spindle."The tool that we've developed will be available to the scientific community and concerted efforts by many labs may ultimately unlock the mysteries of one of life's most essential processes," said Dr. Michnick.
4) Scripps Research Institute Scientists Solve Century-Old Chemistry Problem:
The Findings Expand the Utility of a Fundamental Chemical Reaction and Streamline Synthesis of Antimalarial and Anticancer Compounds. Chemists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have found a way to apply a “foundational reaction” of organic chemistry to a stubborn class of chemicals, in a transformation that has been thought impossible for a century.The classic SN2 reaction has enabled chemists to build and modify many pharmaceuticals as well as other useful organic molecules. While the reaction had been thought to exclude certain compounds, a paper in the September 12, 2013 issue of the journal Nature describes a new SN2-like reaction that overcomes this limitation.“We’ve widened the range of molecules that are responsive to this foundational technique; for example, we can now chemically synthesize a family of promising antimalarial and anticancer compounds that were previously off limits,” said TSRI Assistant Professor Ryan A. Shenvi, who was the senior author of the paper.
Flipping the Umbrella
The SN2 reaction can be used to detach part of a molecule called a functional group from a central carbon atom, while simultaneously, another functional group adds to the opposite side of the carbon atom. This structural flip can significantly change a compound’s chemical properties.“It’s like turning an umbrella inside out,” Shenvi said. “The SN2 predictably inverts what we call the stereochemistry of the carbon atom.”
Traditionally, stereoinversion reactions, which were first described by Paul Walden in 1896, have not been applicable to compounds known as tertiary alcohols or their derivatives—a general problem identified by Christopher Ingold in the early 1900s. In these compounds, the carbon atom of interest is bonded to three other carbon atoms, which effectively shield it from the reaction.To get around this longstanding limitation, Shenvi and his research associate Sergey V. Pronin developed a method that employs a special acid catalyst plus an unusual nitrogen-containing molecule, a derivative of cyanide. The acid helps detach a fluorous functional group from one side of the central carbon atom, and then the nitrogen forms a new bond on the other side, thus completing the stereoinversion.“The basic idea is that you can take a tertiary alcohol with one stereochemical configuration and install nitrogen functionality, leaving it with the opposite stereochemical configuration,” said Pronin.
To demonstrate the new technique, Pronin and graduate student Chris Reiher used it to build or modify a number of compounds in a relatively short sequence of reaction steps, starting with cheaply available tertiary alcohols. “In one example, we took a derivative of vitamin E, tocopherol, and in a few steps turned it into something we call an aza-tocopherol, in which the oxygen atom is replaced with nitrogen—a compound that otherwise would have been very difficult to access,” Pronin said.The chemists also showed how the new reaction can simplify the preparation of a set of compounds known as marine isocyanoterpenes, which are produced naturally by sea sponges and other oceanic animals. Some of these compounds have been found to have anticancer, antimalarial, antifungal and other potentially useful properties, but they have been very hard to prepare using synthetic chemistry. With the new technique, the researchers were able to prepare several scarce marine isocyanoterpenes starting from abundant and renewable terrestrial terpenes, and using far fewer steps than had ever been reported before.
On its own, the new method fills a significant gap in the toolkit of organic chemists. But Shenvi hopes soon to extend it further to enable SN2-like substitutions of tertiary alcohols with other reaction partners: “We think that this reaction will teach us how to achieve stereoinversions of tertiary carbons to form carbon-oxygen, carbon-sulfur and even carbon-carbon bonds,” he said.
5) Darwin's Dilemma Resolved: Evolution's 'Big Bang' Explained by Five Times Faster Rates of Evolution:
A new study led by Adelaide researchers has estimated, for the first time, the rates of evolution during the "Cambrian explosion" when most modern animal groups appeared between 540 and 520 million years ago.
The findings, published online today in the journal Current Biology, resolve "Darwin's dilemma": the sudden appearance of a plethora of modern animal groups in the fossil record during the early Cambrian period."The abrupt appearance of dozens of animal groups during this time is arguably the most important evolutionary event after the origin of life," says lead author Associate Professor Michael Lee of the University of Adelaide's School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the South Australian Museum."These seemingly impossibly fast rates of evolution implied by this Cambrian explosion have long been exploited by opponents of evolution. Darwin himself famously considered that this was at odds with the normal evolutionary processes.
"However, because of the notorious imperfection of the ancient fossil record, no-one has been able to accurately measure rates of evolution during this critical interval, often called evolution's Big Bang.
"In this study we've estimated that rates of both morphological and genetic evolution during the Cambrian explosion were five times faster than today -- quite rapid, but perfectly consistent with Darwin's theory of evolution."The team, including researchers from the Natural History Museum in London, quantified the anatomical and genetic differences between living animals, and established a timeframe over which those differences accumulated with the help of the fossil record and intricate mathematical models. Their modelling showed that moderately accelerated evolution was sufficient to explain the seemingly sudden appearance of many groups of advanced animals in the fossil record during the Cambrian explosion.The research focused on arthropods (insects, crustaceans, arachnids and their relatives), which are the most diverse animal group in both the Cambrian period and present day."It was during this Cambrian period that many of the most familiar traits associated with this group of animals evolved, like a hard exoskeleton, jointed legs, and compound (multi-faceted) eyes that are shared by all arthropods. We even find the first appearance in the fossil record of the antenna that insects, millipedes and lobsters all have, and the earliest biting jaws." says co-author Dr Greg Edgecombe of the Natural History Museum.
6) Genes Linked to Being Right Or Left-Handed Identified:
A genetic study has identified a biological process that influences whether we are right handed or left handed. Scientists at the Universities of Oxford, St Andrews, Bristol and the Max Plank Institute in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, found correlations between handedness and a network of genes involved in establishing left-right asymmetry in developing embryos.'The genes are involved in the biological process through which an early embryo moves on from being a round ball of cells and becomes a growing organism with an established left and right side,' explained first author William Brandler, a PhD student in the MRC Functional Genomics Unit at Oxford University.
The researchers suggest that the genes may also help establish left-right differences in the brain, which in turn influences handedness.They report their findings in the open-access journal PLOS Genetics.Humans are the only species to show such a strong bias in handedness, with around 90% of people being right-handed. The cause of this bias remains largely a mystery.The researchers, led by Dr Silvia Paracchini at the University of St Andrews, were interested in understanding which genes might have an influence on handedness, in order to gain an insight into the causes and evolution of handedness.
The team carried out a genome-wide association study to identify any common gene variants that might correlate with which hand people prefer using.The most strongly associated, statistically significant variant with handedness is located in the gene PCSK6, which is involved in the early establishment of left and right in the growing embryo.The researchers then made full use of knowledge from previous studies of what PCSK6 and similar genes do in mice to reveal more about the biological processes involved.Disrupting PCSK6 in mice causes 'left-right asymmetry' defects, such as abnormal positioning of organs in the body. They might have a heart and stomach on the right and their liver on the left, for example.The researchers found that variants in other genes known to cause left-right defects when disrupted in mice were more likely to be associated with relative hand skill than you would expect by chance.While the team has identified a role for genes involved in establishing left from right in embryo development, William Brandler cautioned that these results do not completely explain the variation in handedness seen among humans. He said: 'As with all aspects of human behaviour, nature and nurture go hand-in-hand. The development of handedness derives from a mixture of genes, environment, and cultural pressure to conform to right-handedness.'
Movie Release This Week:
1) The Family:
The Manzoni family, a notorious mafia clan, is relocated to Normandy, France under the witness protection program, where fitting in soon becomes challenging as their old habits die hard.
2) Insidious Chapter 2:
The famed horror team of director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell reunite with the original cast of Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye and Ty Simpkins in Insidious Chapter 2, a terrifying sequel to the acclaimed horror film, which follows the haunted Lambert family as they seek to uncover the mysterious childhood secret that has left them dangerously connected to the spirit world.
After losing her band mate and brother to a drug overdose, rising rock star Hayley finds herself in a downward spiral. The new album from her band Plush is received as a critical and commercial disaster. She finds new hope and friendship in Enzo, the replacement guitarist who inspires her to reach new creative heights. But soon their collaboration crosses the line and Hayley, who is married with two children, retreats from Enzo's advances. As Hayley slowly discovers Enzo's dark and troubled history, she realizes she may have let a madman into her home and that her mistake may cost the lives of people closest to her.
4) Jayne Mansfield's Car:
In what critics are calling his best work as writer/director since Sling Blade, Academy Award winner Billy Bob Thornton stars - along with Oscar winner Robert Duvall, two-time Oscar nominee John Hurt and Golden Globe winner Kevin Bacon - in this story of fathers and sons, wars and peace, and the turbulent time that changed America forever. It's 1969 in a small Alabama town, and the death of a quirky clan's long-estranged wife and mother brings together two very different families for the funeral. But do the scars of the past hide differences that will tear them apart or expose truths that could lead to the most unexpected collisions of all? Robert Patrick (Walk the Line), Ray Stevenson ("Dexter"), Frances O'Connor (The Hunter), and Katherine LaNasa ("Deception") co-star in the acclaimed comedy/drama that Twitch Film calls "A perfect film for a lazy summer day with near-perfect performances across the board!"
5) Blue Caprice:
The striking feature film debut of writer-director Alexandre Moors, Blue Caprice is a harrowing yet restrained psychological thriller about an abandoned boy lured to America into the shadows of a dangerous father figure. Inspired by true events, Blue Caprice investigates the notorious and horrific Beltway sniper attacks from the point of view of the two shooters, whose distorted father-son relationship facilitated their long and bloody journey across America. Marked by captivating performances by Isaiah Washington and Tequan Richmond, lyrical camerawork, and a unique and bold structure, BLUE CAPRICE documents the mechanisms that lead its subjects to embrace physical violence. BLUE CAPRICE paints a riveting portrait of 21st-century America and a haunting depiction of two cold-blooded killers that will endure long after the lights come up.
Political News This Week:
1) Men who were HANGED for what they did:
|Delhi court awarded the death sentence to the four convicts|
a Delhi court awarded the death sentence to the four convicts in the December 16 gang rape-cum-murder saying that the gravity of the offence could be tolerated.
"Death to all," Additional Sessions Judge Yogesh Khanna said while delivering the verdict in the case that had evoked nationwide outrage and led the government to bring in a stringent anti-rape law.
The offence committed by Mukesh, 26, Akshay Thakur, 28, Pawan Gupta, 19 and Vinay Sharma, 20, falls under the rarest of rare category warranting capital punishment, the judge said.
Demanding gallows for the four, the Delhi police had claimed there was "no scope for sympathy" for their barbaric crime and pressed that "some crimes are so outrageous that the society also demands strict punishment".
2) Was summons served on Sonia in New York?:
|Was summons served on Sonia in New York?|
A statement issued by attorney Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal advisor to the Sikhs for Justice, which has filed a case against Congress President Sonia Gandhi claimed the organisation had served a summons on her through hospital and security staff at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
The hospital did not respond to this correspondent's calls and e-mails about the claim. Sources connected to Gandhi told Rediff.com that she was not served the summons and they would ask the petitioners for copy of the 'affidavit of service' that was filed in court when the case comes for trial.New York attorney Ravi Batra, who represents the Congress party, told this correspondent, "Until plaintiffs file an affidavit of service with the court, there is no prima facie proof, albeit rebutable, that Mrs Gandhi is claimed to have been served. As of 5 pm on September 13, 2013, there is no such service affidavit."Judge Brian M Cogan of the US District Court for Eastern District of New York issued an order on September 9 to serve the summons through staff of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York where Gandhi was believed to be under medical care or through security personnel.
Sikhs for Justice and two individuals, who are suing Gandhi, accusing her of shielding the perpetrators of the massacre of Sikhs in the November 1984 riots, requested the judge to issue urgent orders to serve her though the hospital or security staff.The petitioners said no process servers were ready to take the summons to Gandhi personally considering the elaborate security around her. They also pointed out precedents when the courts had ordered that the summons be delivered to the staff of visiting dignitaries facing cases in the US.Judge Cogan ordered that ‘service up on defendant be accomplished by delivering a copy of the summons and complaint to any of the following: Hospital administration and/or staff at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, during the time that the defendant is at the hospital.'Any of the security agents assigned to the defendant, during the time defendant is in New York including her State Department security detail; Special Agents of the Secret Service; Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; officers of the New York State Police; officers of the New York Police Department; and members of any private security detail.'‘Once served, the above parties are directed to give documents served up on them to defendant.’
On September 9, the same day the judge ordered that the summons be served through the hospital, it was served on hospital and security staff of Sloan-Kettering amidst resistance from the staff, Pannun's statement claimed.Esther Ruiz, the night shift nursing supervisor at Sloan-Kettering, was handed a copy of the summons, complaint and Judge Cogan’s order directing her to give the documents to Gandhi.A copy of the summons was also handed to Alvin Millner, the security manager at Sloan-Kettering for delivery to Gandhi.News reports on September 11 noted that Gandhi had returned to India earlier that day.As per federal rules after the service of summons and complaint, Gandhi has till September 30 to answer the allegations, according to Pannun's statement.The summons said that if Gandhi failed to respond within 21 days after service, a default judgment would be entered against her.According to Pannun, the service of the US court summons on Gandhi is complete for all purposes, because Judge Cogan had allowed serving hospital and security staff of Sloan-Kettering instead of personally handing over the summons to Gandhi.
A class action suit against Gandhi was filed by Sikhs For Justice, a US-based human rights group along with victims of the November 1984 riots under the Alien Tort Claims Act and the Torture Victim Protection Act.SFJ and the victims seek compensatory and punitive damages against the Congress president for her alleged role in 'shielding and protecting' Kamal Nath, Sajjan Kumar, Jagdish Tytler and other Congress party leaders from being prosecuted for their alleged 'crimes against humanity.'“In 1984 Sonia Gandhi was a loving wife and mother and a grieving daughter-in-law. Given the genuine respect for Sikhs, a moment of terrible pain ought not be political fodder,” attorney Ravi Batra noted.About the summons, Batra said, “The law is a many splendored thing. It has within it the ability to harness all motions, all facts, and arrive at a just merit-driven result from dismissal at the pleadings stage to summary judgment dismissal to a jury's verdict."“A court has a natural inclination to assist access to personal jurisdiction while blocking expansion of subject matter jurisdiction," Batra added.Along with the SFJ, the suit has been filed by Mohinder Singh, a resident of California whose wife survived an attack in Delhi recently and who had lost his father in the 1984 riots, and Jasbir Singh, a prime witness against former minister Jagdish Tytler for his role in the November 1984 riots.
3) 2007 Hyd blasts: Bombs made in Mangalore; financed from Gulf:
|Yasin Bhatkal, claims to have returned with a lot of information|
Investigators from the National Investigating Agency have found that the bombs used in the August 25, 2007 Hyderabad blasts that killed 42 people, were prepared in the heart of Mangalore city, and the finances came from a dedicated network in Saudi Arabia. A NIA team, which was in Mangalore with Indian Mujahideen terrorists Asadullah Akthar and Yasin Bhatkal, claims to have returned with a lot of information. Apart from confirming that the bombs for the Hyderabad blasts were prepared in the heart of Mangalore city, the NIA has also found that the financing for the IM landed in Mangalore, from where it was distributed to different parts of the country.
that they found that the bombs were assembled in an apartment at the Attavar area in Mangalore, and from there, they were transported to Hyderabad. These bombs were used in the Lumbini Park and Dilsukhnagar blasts.The NIA also got confirmation that the ammonium nitrate, that was sourced from Chickmagalur in Karnataka was sent to various parts of the country in one single shipment. Some of this cargo was dropped off at an area between Mangalore and Udupi town (which is 60 kilometres away).Investigators have found that the job of making the bomb for the Lumbini Park area was assigned to Yasin, who assembled it in Mangalore, and then later transported it to Hyderabad.The bomb for the Gokul Chaat blast was assembled under the guidance of late Harkat-ul-Jehadi Islami operative Shahid Bilal in Hyderabad. While both operatives worked separately, the only time they coordinated was regarding the timing -- both blasts had a short timer.The financing
The confusion regarding funding for the IM is slowly becoming clear now. The NIA has found that the IM resorted to extortions and even donations to raise money during its rebuilding year.But the flow of funds became smoother once they were able to properly coordinate with their modules in Saudi Arabia and Kerala. Although all their operations were overseen by their handlers in Pakistan, no money came to India directly from there.
There was a dedicated team in Saudi Arabia to handle the finances. Some of the remittances were done through the Kerala module via a hawala network. However, with investigators keeping a close watch on that front, the IM resorted to a more open manner to transfer the money. Investigators have found that the money for the blasts at Hyderabad and Pune was sent directly from Saudi Arabia -- through a Western Union Money transfer. The same was collected by Akthar and Bhatkal in Mangalore and then passed on to other operatives who were part of the attacks.
NIA officials have stumbled upon more clues regarding the operations of the IM. When they searched the apartment in Mangalore used by these operatives, they found improvised explosive devices and other material used to make the bombs.Another team in Hyderabad found more material, which was seized. The material from Hyderabad formed part of a back up, in case the bomb prepared in Mangalore failed to go off. The NIA also recovered pressure cookers and clothes of the operatives who stayed there.“This will form very crucial circumstantial evidence,” an NIA official points out. “This material would be used in the forensic test which would help us piece the evidence better, while we take the matter to the court and seek maximum punishment for these operatives,” he adds.
4) Narendra Modi is BJP's PM candidate:
|Narendra Modi is BJP's PM candidate|
The Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday formally declared Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the party's prime ministerial candidate after hectic parleys by senior leaders to convince L K Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Murli Manohar Joshi to give up their opposition to him.
The BJP Parliamentary Board, which met at the party headquarters in Delhi on Friday evening, took the decision.
BJP President Rajnath Singh said, "Shri Narendra Modi will be our PM candidate. We congratulate him and convey our best wishes."
The decision to convene the panel meeting came after Rajnath Singh held a meeting with Advani.
Modi, who flew in a chartered plane from Ahmedabad to Delhi on Friday afternoon, was present at the party HQ when the announcement was made.
5) 86 days later, bells peal at Kedarnath temple once again:
|86 days later, bells peal at Kedarnath temple once again|
The pealing of bells may have brought alive the Himalayan shrine of Kedarnath on Wednesday, but heaps of broken doors and razed walls just a few meters away are a tell-tale sign of the massive devastation suffered in the June calamity.Several structures close to the shrine are lying in a shambles, with heaps of wooden planks, broken doors and razed walls lying just a few meters away from the temple. Structures lying close to the temple are still cluttered with tonnes of debris under which a large number of bodies might be lying, officials saidThe huge rock that saved the shrine was also worshipped on Wednesday, by a team of priests as pujas resumed at the shrine after a gap of 86 days.
"The road route to the shrine has also been opened for a limited number of pilgrims from the nearby areas at their own risk," Rudraprayag DM Dilip Javalkar said.Full-fledged yatra has not yet resumed.A review meeting will be held on September 30 to take stock of the situation and decide on the possibility of resuming the full-fledged yatra.
6) US warships ready to 'strike hard' on Syria if ordered: Navy:
|US warships ready to 'strike hard' on Syria if ordered: Navy|
US warships deployed in the Mediterranean are ready to "strike hard" on the Syrian regime and degrade its capabilities if ordered by President Barack Obama, a top Navy official has said."I guarantee you that if we are called upon to strike, we will strike hard and we will strike fast," Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said.
His remarks came a day after Obama addressed the nation seeking support for "limited" military action if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime refuses to give up its chemical weapons arsenal."As the president said last night, it (the attack) will be targeted and it will degrade the Assad regime's capabilities," Mabus said in a speech at the NationalDefenceUniversity."Our ships are sovereign US territory," Mabus said. "We do not take up an inch of anyone else's soil. That naval presence is what gives the president flexibility to respond to any crisis."
The US has deployed four destroyers armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles to the eastern Mediterranean after the Syrian crisis escalated. Obama had earlier said that he may launch possible punitive strikes on Syria over an alleged chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime against civilians on August 21 in a Damascus suburb.An aircraft carrier strike group, including the carrier USS Nimitz along with warships armed with Tomahawks, was also sent to the Red Sea and is still there.
"Presence is what we do. It is who we are. We reassure our partners that we are there, and remind those who may wish our country and allies harm that we're never far away. That is American sea power," Mabus, the US Navy's top civilian official said.Mabus' statement leaves little doubt that Pentagon planners are leaning on the Navy to lead the strike, should it be ordered, US media reports said.Air Force warplanes can also fire missiles far from Syrian airspace, a factor that the Pentagon is taking into account, according to testimony from Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
7) Life on MARS? India will find the answer soon:
|Life on MARS? India will find the answer soon|
India's Mars Orbiter Mission, which will look for scope of life on the red planet, will be a reality in either October or November as the Indian Space Research Organisation unveiled the mission on Wednesday.
The launch of the unmanned space craft is likely to take place at Sriharikota, and is expected to reach Mars in September, 2014.
The launch of the unmanned space craft is likely to take place at Sriharikota, and is expected to reach Mars in September, 2014.
The ambitious mission will cost Rs 450 crore, out of which Rs 150 crore has been spent for building the space craft in the last 12 months.The spacecraft will be launched with the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle from Sriharikota. Sources in ISRO say that they would ship the spacecraft to Sriharikota in a few days and then fix a date for the launch which could be anytime between mid-October and November.The Mars Orbiter Mission seeks to reveal whether there is methane, considered a "precursor chemical" for life, on the Red Planet, key officials behind the ambitious venture said on Wednesday.
A methane sensor, one of the five payloads (scientific instruments) onboard the spacecraft, would look to detect the presence of the gas, MOM Project Director Arunan S said.He said the sensor was aimed at understanding whether life existed on Mars or if it would have life in future."Methane is fundamentally base for life on any planet," he said.M Annadurai, Programme Director, IRS & SSS (Indian Remote Sensing & Small, Science and Student Satellites), said: "Most probably we will be able to answer whether there is presence of Methane. If it's there, yes; if it's not, not there. If it's available, where it's available".
After a media preview of the Mars orbiter at ISRO Satellite Centre in Bangalore, where it is being given final shape, officials of the space agency indicated that the aim is to launch the mission on October 21, weather permitting.Once launched from the spaceport of Sriharikota, the spacecraft would go around the earth for 20-25 days before embarking on a 9-month voyage to Mars. The minimum life of the spacecraft around Mars is six months but it would certainly outlive it, as similar satellites orbited by other countries have sometimes lasted six-seven years, Arunan said.Director of ISAC S K Shivakumar and Arunan defended the MOM, saying the thrust is on self-reliance and building technological base for future inter-planetary missions and there is nothing like undertaking the mission on our own, even though there have been similar ventures by other countries in the past.
India's MOM would look at Mars from a different perspective, Arunan said.ISRO has addressed many challenges in the coming mission, particularly on communication, navigation, power and propulsion systems.As there is a communication delay of 20 to 40 minutes, full-scale autonomy has been built into the satellite which means that in the event of contingency the spacecraft would take decisions on its own and put it on safe mode without a ground intervention. The ground segment then can diagnose the problem and correct it.
Sports News This Week:
1) SAFF Cup: Afghanistan fairytale stings India:
India's bid to win a hat-trick of SAFF Football Championship titles went up in smoke on Wednesday as they lost 0-2 to Afghanistan in the final in Kathmandu.
The Afghans, who won their maiden SAFF trophy and first international football trophy of any kind, exacted a sweet revenge for their humiliating 0-4 loss against the same opponents in New Delhi two years back. The winners were helped by strikes from Mustafa Azadzoy (8th minute) and Sanjar Ahmadi (63rd minute).
India coach Wim Koevermans's gamble of leaving out regular captain Sunil Chhetri from the starting XI didn't exactly pay off although the efforts from Robin Singh and Jeje Lalpeklhua were praiseworthy. It was their inexperience on big occasion that cost India dearly as they fumbled repeatedly on the opposition's attacking third.For Afghanistan, it was a moment they had waited for two years having found the defeat in Delhi a hard to swallow. A fleet of Afghan Parliamentarians arrived in theafternoon to cheer their team and one of them even went onto the extent of announcing an apartment and USD 25,000 each for the whole squad if they happen to win the match.Whether the announcement egged them is hard to know but they certainly played to their plan as they were able to keep the Indian team at bay despite a wave of attacks. Both the strikes came off counter-attacks and after each goal, the 'Men In Red' tightened their defence.
Just like their semi-final match, Afghanistan got the much-needed goal as early as the eighth minute when right wing back Mustafa Hadid beat opposition left-back Syed Rahim Nabi as he got a lot of open space down wide right to enter the penalty box and passed it on to Belal Arezo. Belal managed to hoodwink stopper back Arnab Mondal with a pass for Mustafa Azadzoy to slot it past Subrata Paul.
2) Leander Paes becomes oldest man to win Grand Slam title!:
In one hour and 12 minutes at the famous Arthur Ashe stadium, India’s Leander Paes created history when he clinched his third US Open men’s doubles title that made him the oldest man in Open era to win a major title.
Along with his partner Radek Stepanek of Czech Republic, Paes demolished the pair of Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares 6-1, 6-3 in the final of the 2013 US Open men’s doubles on Sunday to clinch the title.40-year-old Paes now has 14 major titles to his name that include eight doubles and six mixed doubles trophies.
The Indo-Czech pair also avenged their loss at the hands of American pair of Bob and Mike Bryan in last year’s US Open doubles final by beating them in the semis this year.Following his amazing feat, Paes quipped that the secret to win doubles titles is to find a partner from Czech Republic paying tribute to his former partners from the country with whom he has tasted success at the US Open on previous occasions. With this win, Paes has surely confirmed his status as one of India’s greatest ever sportspersons.
3) Netherlands, Italy celebrate FIFA World Cup spots; England improve chances:
The Netherlands and Italy celebrated becoming the first European teams to book places at next year's World Cup in Brazil on Tuesday when the final pieces of the continent's qualifying jigsaw began to fall into place.
The Dutch sealed their place after a Robin van Persie double gave them a 2-0 win in Andorra while Italy came from behind to beat the Czech Republic 2-1 in Turin with Mario Balotelli scoring the goal that sealed their berth from the penalty spot.Later on Tuesday, Costa Rica and the United States both guaranteed places in the 32-team finals from the CONCACAF region, while Argentina became the first South American team to join hosts Brazil with a 5-2 thumping of Paraguay
Back in Europe, there was plenty for Germany, Switzerland, Russia, France, England and Bosnia to be happy about but there was gloom for Romania, Israel and Ireland plus the Czechs as their hopes either disappeared totally or became no longer feasible. There is also some renewed belief in Iceland, who have never reached a major finals, after they beat Albania 2-1 in Reykjavik to move into second place behind Switzerland in Group E.Bosnia, who have also yet to play in a finals, stayed top of Group G on goal difference after they won a rip-roaring game 2-1 in Slovakia and second-placed Greece beat Latvia 1-0 in Piraeus.
But the biggest cheers could be heard in Dutch and Italian towns and cities as they booked their places with two matches to spare.The Dutch, World Cup runners up in 2010, had to wait until the 49th minute to take the lead against Andorra who have lost all eight games, scoring none and conceding 24.Van Persie's second after a goalkeeping error means the Netherlands will take part in their 10th World Cup next year.Qualification represents something of a redemption for Dutch coach Louis van Gaal who failed to steer the country to the 2002 World Cup in his previous stint as coach.
"We have done the job. We could not have qualified quicker for the World Cup than the way we did. We are the first from Europe," Van Gaal told reporters.On the match itself, he added: "We did very well. We gave our all in the first half and we made the breakthrough after the interval. That's just how we wanted it."
Comeback win : Italy, one of only 13 teams who took part in the 1950 World Cup in Brazil, made sure they would be among the 32 nations at the finals next year with their comeback win in Turin.Libor Kozak threatened to ruin Italy's celebrations when he put the Czechs ahead after 19 minutes but second half goals from Giorgio Chiellini after 51 minutes and Balotelli from the spot three minutes later gave the Italians the points.
Russia also look on course for Brazil after a 3-1 win over Israel put them top of Group F, a point clear of Portugal and means they still have their fate in their hands with visits to the bottom two teams, Luxembourg and Azerbaijan, to comee.France also had a good night as their five-match run without a goal ended in a 4-2 win over Belarus although they had to come from behind twice before winning with goals by Samir Nasri, Paul Pogba and a double from Franck Ribery, including a penalty.Germany's 3-0 win in the Faroe Islands thanks to goals from Per Mertesacker, a Mesut Ozil penalty and Thomas Mueller, means they will qualify if they beat Ireland at home in the first of their two remaining matches next month.However, they cannot book their tickets just yet because Sweden's 1-0 win in Kazakhstan means they could still pip the Germans to top spot in Group C. Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored after 27 seconds for their fastest goal in 101 years.Switzerland's 2-0 win over Norway in Oslo put them five points clear of Iceland at the top of Group E but their celebrations also had to be put on hold because they can be caught if they slip up in their final two matches.
4) Serena Williams wins fifth US Open, 17th Slam title:
World number one Serena Williams captured her fifth US Open title, and second in a row, by outlasting second-ranked Victoria Azarenka 7-5, 6-7 (6/8), 6-1 to claim her 17th career Grand Slam crown.
5) Roger Federer crashes out of US Open:
Roger Federer crashed out of the US Open in the fourth round. Federer suffered a stunning upset at the hands of Spanish 19th seed Tommy Robredo, whose 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6-4 shocker was his first victory in 11 matches against the 17-time Grand Slam champion and five-time US Open winner
The Lowland : By Jhumpa Lahiri:
|Book Cover of Lowland|
|Book Cover of Lowland|
Two brothers bound by tragedy; a fiercely brilliant woman haunted by her past; a country torn by revolution: the Pulitzer Prize winner and #1 New York Times best-selling author gives us a powerful new novel-set in both India and America-that explores the price of idealism and a love that can last long past death.
Growing up in Calcutta, born just fifteen months apart, Subhash and Udayan Mitra are inseparable brothers, one often mistaken for the other. But they are also opposites, with gravely different futures ahead of them. It is the 1960s, and Udayan-charismatic and impulsive-finds himself drawn to the Naxalite movement, a rebellion waged to eradicate inequity and poverty: he will give everything, risk all, for what he believes. Subhash, the dutiful son, does not share his brother's political passion; he leaves home to pursue a life of scientific research in a quiet, coastal corner of America. But when Subhash learns what happened to his brother in the lowland outside their family's home, he comes back to India, hoping to pick up the pieces of a shattered family, and to heal the wounds Udayan left behind-including those seared in the heart of his brother's wife.
Suspenseful, sweeping, piercingly intimate, The Lowland expands the range of one of our most dazzling storytellers, seamlessly interweaving the historical and the personal across generations and geographies. This masterly novel of fate and will, exile and return, is a tour de force and an instant classic.
The shortlist for this year’s Man Booker Prize has been announced with Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland making it to the list.
is an Indian American author. Lahiri's debut short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies (1999), won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and her first novel, The Namesake (2003), was adapted into the popular film of the same name. She was born Nilanjana Sudeshna but goes by her nickname (or in Bengali, her "Daak naam") Jhumpa. Lahiri is a member of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, appointed by U.S. President Barack Obama.
Lahiri was born in London, the daughter of Indian immigrants from the state of West Bengal. Her family moved to the United States when she was two; Lahiri considers herself an American, stating, "I wasn't born here, but I might as well have been." Lahiri grew up in Kingston, Rhode Island, where her father Amar Lahiri works as a librarian at the University of Rhode Island; he is the basis for the protagonist in "The Third and Final Continent," the closing story from Interpreter of Maladies. Lahiri's mother wanted her children to grow up knowing their Bengali heritage, and her family often visited relatives in Calcutta (now Kolkata).