|Animated Collage of NewsWeek(63)|
|Collage Pictures of NewsWeek(63)|
Science News This Week:
1) Supervolcanoes once erupted on Mars:
Giant eruptions billions of years ago left behind huge craters. Lava-spewing supervolcanoes ripped through Mars’ dusty red surface billions of years ago, a new analysis suggests.
Scientists have identified Martian volcanoes before, but none as violently explosive as the ones Joseph Michalski of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson and Jacob Bleacher of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., report in the Oct. 3 Nature. “What we’re looking at is a very different beast,” says Bleacher.
When supervolcanoes erupt, they blow their lids completely, ejecting massive amounts of molten rock. Instead of leaving behind mountains of rubble, supervolcano explosions gouge giant craters into a planet’s surface. Because asteroid craters also pockmark Mars, scientists had assumed most of the pits were caused by impacts.
But some craters looked suspicious: They lacked typical impact signatures and were surrounded by ridges of ancient lava flows. Michalski and Bleacher pieced together topographic and other data from Mars-orbiting spacecraft to sketch a picture of the planet’s past surface. Their work is the first to find Martian supervolcanoes.
Because volcanoes belch gas and particles, the findings could help researchers better understand the history of Mars’ atmosphere, a step toward figuring out whether the planet was ever habitable.
2) Engineered salivary glands keep juices flowing:
Organs grown in a lab dish do their job when transplanted into mice. Salivary glands engineered in the lab wet the mouths of mice after transplantation, researchers report October 1 in Nature Communications.
Takashi Tsuji of the Tokyo University of Science in Noda, Japan and colleagues extracted clusters of immature cells from mouse embryos and grew nascent salivary glands in a gel-like substance for three days. Then the researchers implanted the incipient organs in mice that had had salivary glands removed. The engineered glands took up residence in the mice and pumped out saliva.
The team hopes that the technique will pave the way toward treatments of salivary gland disorders in people.In another paper published in the same journal, Tsuji and colleagues also report having grown functioning tear glands in the lab.
3) News in Brief: Centipede venom fights pain:
Molecule from toxin makes mice less sensitive to acid, heat. A chemical found in centipede venom wipes out pain just as well as morphine does, a study in mice shows.
When researchers injected mice with a molecule isolated from the venom of the Chinese red-headed centipede, mice showed fewer signs of pain in response to heat, acid and nasty injections, Chinese and Australian scientists report September 30 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In some tests, the compound, called Ssm6a, erased pain as well as, or better than, morphine.
Ssm6a is a protein fragment that blocks a pain-sensing channel called Nav1.7. Pharmaceutical companies are in hot pursuit of molecules that do the same thing (SN: 6/30/12, p. 22). Because the channel resides mainly in the body’s peripheral nerves, compounds that block Nav1.7 shouldn’t cause dizziness, drowsiness or other side effects of current pain-relief drugs that affect neurons in the brain
4) Recruiting E. Coli to Combat Hard-To-Treat Bacterial Infections:
he notorious bacteria E. coli is best known for making people sick, but scientists have reprogrammed the microbe -- which also comes in harmless varieties -- to make it seek out and fight other disease-causing pathogens. The researchers' report appears in the journal ACS Synthetic Biology and describes development of this new type of E. coli that can even kill off slimy groups of bacteria called biofilms that are responsible for many hard-to-treat infections, such as those that take hold in the lungs, the bladder and on implanted medical devices.
Matthew Wook Chang and colleagues explain that biofilm infections are difficult to treat because the bacteria hide away under a protective barrier of sugars, DNA and proteins. That shield makes them very resistant to conventional therapies. In addition, overuse of antibiotics in medicine and agriculture also have made some bacteria, such as MRSA, shrug off most known treatments, making at least 2 million Americans sick every year. This growing public health threat has motivated scientists to look for new antibiotics and alternative treatments to beat infections. In the past, researchers made bacteria that fight off other microbes, but they had limitations. Chang's team addressed those limitations by making a new kind of bacterial "gun-for-hire" that can sense an infection, swim toward it and kill off the disease-causing microbes.They reprogrammed E. coli to sense Pseudomonas aeruginosa -- a bacteria that can form biofilms and causes hospital-acquired infections in the lungs and the gut. The new E. coli then swims directly toward P. aeruginosa and launches an attack with an antimicrobial peptide and an enzyme that breaks down biofilms. Though the researchers successfully tested their engineered microbe on P. aeruginosa, they say that their engineering strategy could be used to combat other pathogens as well.The authors acknowledge funding from the National Medical Research Council of Singapore and the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
5) Spinach and Nanodiamonds? Nanodiamond Biosensor for Detection of Iron-Level in Blood:
Popeye, the comic book hero, swears by it as do generations of parents who delight their children with spinach. Of course, today it is known that the vegetable is not quite as rich in iron as originally thought, but that iron is nevertheless essential for our physical well-being is undisputed. Lack of iron -- caused by malnutrition -- can lead to anemia while an increased level of iron may signal the presence of an acute inflammatory response. Therefore, the blood iron level is an important medical diagnostic agent. Researchers at Ulm University, led by experimental physicist Fedor Jelezko, theoretical physicist Martin Plenio and chemist Tanja Weil, have developed a novel biosensor for determination of iron content that is based on nanodiamonds.
This project was realized under Synergy Grant BioQ endowed with 10.3 million Euro which the scientists were awarded last December by the European Research Council."Standard blood tests do not capture -- as one might expect -- free iron ions in the blood, because free iron is toxic and is therefore hardly detectable in blood," explains Professor Tanja Weil, director of the Institute for Organic Chemistry III, University of Ulm. These methods are based on certain proteins instead that are responsible for the storage and transport of iron. One of these proteins is Ferritin that can contain up to 4,500 magnetic iron ions. Most standard tests are based on immunological techniques and estimate the iron concentration indirectly based on different markers. Results from different tests may however lead to inconsistent results in some clinical situations.
The Ulm scientists have developed a completely new approach to detect Ferritin. This required a combination of several new ideas. First, each ferritin-bound iron atom generates a magnetic field but as there are only 4,500 of them, the total magnetic field they generate is very small indeed and therefore hard to measure. This indeed, posed the second challenge for the team: to develop a method that is sufficiently sensitive to detect such weak magnetic fields. This they achieved by making use of a completely new, innovative technology based on tiny artificial diamonds of nanometer size. Crucially these diamonds are not perfect -- colorless and transparent -- but contain lattice defects which are optically active and thus provide the color of diamonds."These color centers allow us to measure the orientation of electron spins in external fields and thus measure their strength" explains Professor Fedor Jelezko, director of the Ulm Institute of Quantum Optics. Thirdly, the team had to find a way to adsorb ferritin on the surface of the diamond. "This we achieved with the help of electrostatic interactions between the tiny diamond particles and ferritin proteins," adds Weil. Finally, "Theoretical modeling was essential to ensure that the signal measured is in fact consistent with the presence of ferritin and thus to validate the method," states Martin Plenio, director of the Institute for Theoretical Physics. Future plans of the Ulm team include the precise determination of the number of ferritin proteins and the average iron load of individual proteins.The demonstration of this innovative method, reported in Nano Letters, represents a first step towards the goals of their recently awarded BioQ Synergy Grant. The focus of this project is the exploration of quantum properties in biology and the creation of self-organized diamond structures.
"Diamond sensors can thus be applied in biology and medicine," say the Ulm scientists. But their new invention has its limits ." Whether the children have actually eaten their spinach cannot be detected with the diamond sensor, that's still the prerogative of parents ," confesses quantum physicist Plenio.
6) Researchers Identify the Neural Circuits That Modulate REM Sleep:
A team of scientists led by Dr. Antoine Adamantidis, a researcher at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and an assistant professor at McGill University, has released the findings from their latest study, which will appear in the October issue of the scientific journal Nature Neuroscience.
Previous studies had established an association between the activity of certain types of neurons and the phase of sleep known as REM (rapid eye movement). Researchers on the team of Dr. Antoine Adamantidis identified, for the first time, a precise causal link between neuronal activity in the lateral hypothalamus (LH) and the state of REM sleep. Using optogenetics, they were able to induce REM sleep in mice and modulate the duration of this sleep phase by activating the neuronal network in this area of the brain.This achievement is an important contribution to the understanding of sleep mechanisms in the brains of mammals, as well as the underlying neuronal network, which is still not well understood despite recent breakthroughs in neuroscience.
Better understanding how sleep is modulated to reduce sleep disorders"These research findings could help us better grasp how the brain controls sleep and better understand the role of sleep in humans. These results could also lead to new therapeutic strategies to treat sleep disorders along with associated neuropsychiatric problems," stated Dr. Antoine Adamantidis, who is also the Canada Research Chair in Neural Circuits and Optogenetics.
What is REM (rapid eye movement) sleep?
There are two types of sleep: REM and non-REM sleep. In humans, non-REM sleep has four stages. REM sleep, or deep sleep, is generally associated with dreaming and is a phase when the brain is very active, even though people are in a heavy sleep, their eyes move rapidly (hence the name), and their bodies have an almost total loss of muscle tonus (2). Although our understanding of the mechanisms that control the wake and sleep cycle has progressed in recent years, many frontiers remain unexplored. However, we do know that a disruption in sleep can lead to adverse effects on physical and mental health in humans.
Optogenetics, a revolutionary technology
In 2010 in the journal Nature, optogenetics was recognized as one of the coming decade's most promising techniques to better understand brain function. This new field of research and application integrates optics and genetics methodologies to modulate the activity of neural circuits. Optogenetics involves controlling neuronal activity with light. This technique is therefore used to manipulate a specific type of cell without affecting neighbouring cells. A researcher who uses optogenetics is therefore like a conductor who decides to change the sheet music for an instrument to observe the effects, however insignificant they may seem, on the orchestra's entire performance.
7) Scientists Develop New Process to Create Artificial Cell Membranes:
The membranes surrounding and inside cells are involved in every aspect of biological function. They separate the cell’s various metabolic functions, compartmentalize the genetic material, and drive evolution by separating a cell’s biochemical activities. They are also the largest and most complex structures that cells synthesize.
Understanding the myriad biochemical roles of membranes requires the ability to prepare synthetic versions of these complex multi-layered structures, which has been a long-standing challenge.
In a study published this week by Nature Chemistry, scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) report a highly programmable and controlled platform for preparing and experimentally probing synthetic cellular structures.
“Layer-by-layer membrane assembly allows us to create synthetic cells with membranes of arbitrary complexity at the molecular and supramolecular scale,” said TSRI Assistant Professor Brian Paegel, who authored the study with Research Associate Sandro Matosevic. “We can now control the molecular composition of the inner and outer layers of a bilayer membrane, and even assemble multi-layered membranes that resemble the envelope of the cell nucleus.”Starting with a technique commonly used to deposit molecules on a solid surface, Langmuir-Blodgett deposition, the scientists repurposed the approach to work on liquid objects.
The scientists engineered a microfluidic device containing an array of microscopic cups, each trapping a single droplet of water bathed in oil and lipids, the molecules that make up cellular membranes. The trapped droplets are then ready to serve as a foundation for building up a series of lipid layers like coats of paint.The lipid-coated water droplets are first bathed in water. As the water/oil interface encounters the trapped droplets, a second lipid layer coats the droplets and transforms them into what are known as unilamellar or single-layer vesicles. Bathing the vesicles in oil/lipid deposits a third lipid layer, and followed by a final layer of lipids that is deposited on the trapped drops to yield double-bilayer vesicles.“The computer-controlled microfluidic circuits we have constructed will allow us to assemble synthetic cells not only from biologically derived lipids, but from any amphiphile and to measure important chemical and physical parameters, such as permeability and stability,” said Paegel.
Movie Release This Week:
Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission, with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney). But on a seemingly routine spacewalk, disaster strikes. The shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalsky completely alone—tethered to nothing but each other and spiraling out into the blackness. The deafening silence tells them they have lost any link to Earth...and any chance for rescue. As fear turns to panic, every gulp of air eats away at what little oxygen is left. But the only way home may be to go further out into the terrifying expanse of space.
Princeton grad student Richie, believing he’s been swindled, travels to Costa Rica to confront online gambling tycoon Ivan Block. Richie is seduced by Block’s promise of immense wealth, until he learns the disturbing truth about his benefactor. When the FBI tries to coerce Richie to help bring down Block, Richie faces his biggest gamble ever: attempting to outmaneuver the two forces closing in on him.
Based on Viking mythology, Eirick (Dominic Purcell) battles from hell and beyond to retrieve the mystical artifact, Odin’s Horn, before Thor and his army can unleash its powers to conquer the world.
Wendy (Anne Heche), her husband Dan (James Tupper of “Revenge”) and their kids have just moved to the small town of Stull, Kansas, where Dan is the new pastor. But in this sleepy community of friendly neighbors,a horrific series of occurrences awaits them. Their teenage daughter (Rebekah Brandes of Bellflower) is being tormented by grisly visions. Her younger sister (Jennifer Stone of “Wizards Of Waverly Place”) has been marked for a depraved ritual. And deep within the heartland darkness, one of The Seven Gates Of Hell demands the blood of the innocent to unleash the creatures of the damned. Ethan Peck (“10 Things I Hate About You”) and Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption) co-star in this demonic shocker featuring original music by producer Slash and inspired by the real-life paranormal legacy of Stull.
Duncan's (Ken Marino) life is a real pain in the ass. Tormented by a manipulative, crooked boss (Patrick Warburton), a nagging mother (Mary Kay Place), a deadbeat new age dad (Stephen Root), and a sweet, yet pressuring, wife (Gillian Jacobs), his mounting stress starts to trigger an insufferable gastrointestinal reaction.
Out of ideas and at the end of his rope, Duncan seeks the help of a hypnotherapist (Peter Stormare), who helps him discover the root of his unusual stomach pain: a pintsized demon living in his intestine that, triggered by excessive anxiety, forces its way out and slaughters the people who have angered him. Out of fear that his intestinal gremlin may target its wrath on the wrong person, Duncan attempts to befriend it, naming it Milo and indulging it to keep its seemingly insatiable appetite at bay.
Political News Of This Week:
1) Fodder scam: Lalu jailed for 5 years, fined Rs 25 lakh:
Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad was on Thursday sentenced to 5 years imprisonment in a 17-year-old fodder scam case by a special court of the Central Bureau of Investigation after he was convicted on corruption and other charges four days back.The sentencing by special CBI judge Pravas Kumar Singh disqualifies Prasad from Parliament and renders him ineligible for contesting elections for 11 years.
65-year-old Prasad and other convicts are currently lodged in the Birsa Munda Central Jail in RanchiThe former Bihar chief minister, who was convicted on September 30 dealing a body blow to RJD ahead of next Lok Sabha polls, was also fined Rs 25 lakh.Another former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra was sentenced to four years imprisonment in the case.Six other politicians and four IAS officers, among the convicted, were also sentenced to prison terms for fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 37.7 crore from Chaibasa treasury when Prasad was heading the RJD government in the early 1990s.
Of the 45 convicts, the judge had delivered the sentence against eight of them on September 30 itself.Earlier today, arguments on the quantum of sentence Prasad and 36 other convicts were completed in the special court in Ranchi with CBI seeking maximum prison term of up to seven years for them.The counsel of Yadav, Mishra, sitting JD(U) MP Jagdish Sharma, former legislator R K Rana and others had pleaded for lesser sentence.Former Development Commissioner Phoolchand Singh, former Science and Technology Secretary Mahesh Prasad, former AHD Secretary Beck Juleus, former Income Tax Commissioner Adhip Chandra Choudhary, former Class I officers Gouri Shankar Prasad, Brajnandan Sharma, K M Prasad (all three were with the Animal Husbandry Department) and other officials, suppliers were among those found guilty.A sitting from Jahanabad, Sharma also faces disqualification in the wake of a Supreme Court judgement that an MP or MLA would stand disqualified immediately if convicted by a court for crimes with punishment of two years or more and under some other laws even without jail sentence.RJD spokesperson Manoj Jha has said that the verdict would be challenged in a higher court.
2) Assam: 32 labourers killed in truck-bus collision:
At least 32 people, including 13 children, were killed and eight others injured when two mini buses carrying brick kiln workers and their families were hit by a truck on NH 35 in lower Assam's Barpeta district in the wee hours on Thursday.
The two buses were going one behind the other when the truck from West Bengal rammed into the first bus and moved it backwards to hit the second one at Doholapara, under Sorbhog Police Station, at about 4.30 am, police said.
The buses overturned under the impact of the collision. The collision killed 32 people, including the drivers of the buses, on the spot and injured 13 others.Two of the critically wounded passengers admitted at Barpeta Medical College Hospital succumbed to their injuries, police said.There were at least 45 persons in the two vans, 32 of whom have been killed. The driver of the truck (WB25C-2618) who suffered minor injuries has been arrested. The 32 deceased included eight male and five female children and eight adult women apart from eleven adult male persons. The truck was carrying a consignment of sodium carbonate from Guwahati to West Bengal.Several families were wiped out in the accident as the victims were travelling from Kholkholi and nearby villages in Dhubri district in the two buses to work for long periods in two brick kilns at Rangia in Kamrup district, they said.
The two mini buses were packed with the people, their utensils, foodgrains, personal belongings, etc.The injured were admitted to Barpeta Medical College Hospital and Bongaigaon Civil Hospital.The bodies were sent to Barpeta Medical College Hospital for postmortem where the families of the deceased arriving from Dhubri identified some of them.The two injured, who succumbed at the Barpeta hospital, were identified as Ilina Bibi and Mohidul Haque.Among those dead on the spot were identified as the two bus drivers and handiman Kabir Das, Nikhil Das and Mohidur Islam.
Some other deceased persons were identified as Asima Bibi, Gelemar Khatun, Amina Bibi, Hamida Bibi, Samina Begam, Hasmat Ali, Nasiruddin Khan, Asar Khan, Moidul Islam, Aftar Ali, Khadir Ahmed, Rezaul Haque, Saidul Rahman, Sahar Ali, Rizaul Ali, Afsar Ali and Ashtar Ali.Assam Governor JB Patnaik has expressed his condolences at the death of the victims of the accident and wished for speedy recovery of those injured. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who visited the BMCH to inquire into the health condition of the injured, directed the health authorities to provide the best of medical care and treatment. He also announced ex-gratia of Rs 1 lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased and suitable assistance to those who sustained grievous and minor injuries.Gogoi instituted a high-level probe into the tragic accident and directed the concerned authorities to strictly enforce speed limit, prevent rash driving, overload of passengers and goods and proper verification of driving license to avert such road mishaps in future.
3) US shutdown: NSA staff asked to go home:
The United States National Security Agency has sent some staffers home because of the government shutdown despite crucial security services being exempted from the shuttering of offices due to lack of funds.
Though the shutdown makes an exception for "national security", some employees of the NSA were surprised to get a letter on Tuesday that told them their jobs did not fall under that category, Forbes reported on Thursday.
In a memo sent to thousands of NSA staffers, the associate director of human resources noted that despite exceptions to the shutdown that include "activities required for national security, including the safety of human life or the protection of property," recipients of the letter were being sent home indefinitely.
"We very much regret the shutdown furlough and recognise the difficult financial implications of any furlough, no matter how limited its length," reads the unclassified letter. While everyone at the NSA provides vital services, because the duties you perform do not support 'excerpted' functions, you will be placed in a furlough status effective 1 October 2013."The report said it was not clear how many staffers had been furloughed. Among those sent home were staffers from the surveillance-focussed signals intelligence group, the security-focussed information assurance division and the research division.The NSA hasn't officially stated the scope of the furlough, but the Hill has reported that as many as 70 per cent of civilian staffers have been put on indefinite leave.The move by the NSA comes in the wake of questions being raised about the agency's role by the US Congress and the media following revelations of its massive pervasive surveillance by former security contractor Edward Snowden.
4) Multiple shots fired at US Capitol, 1 policeman injured:
The United States Capitol, seat of the Congress, was locked down on Thursday after multiple shots were fired outside one of the office buildings, injuring one policeman and sparking massive security operation.
President Barack Obama was briefed on the reports of gunfire on Capitol Hill this afternoon, according to a White House official. Officials said it appears that there was no nexus to terrorism, while another official described this as an isolated incident.Earlier the Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine said it was about 2.18 pm local time that the women in the vehicle in the vicinity of the White House apparently attempted to pass a barricade.
Media reports said a child was in a black car with the female suspect, who tried to drive through the barricade that blocks the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House to vehicles. The driver then proceeded down Pennsylvania Avenue to Capitol Hill, where shots were fired after a high-speed police chase. Secret Service uniformed division attempted to stop her bid and shots were potentially fired, she said. The Secret Service pursued the vehicle. Later, it struck one of the police vehicles near the Capitol Hill, where it crashed into one of the barricades, police said.
Soon thereafter the Capitol Hill was locked down, which was soon lifted.The incident sparked a massive security response in the region, emergency vehicles converged on to the scene and security was heightened inside the Capitol, which was already tense during shutdown negotiations. Later in evening on Thursday, the Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told reporters that no shots were fired at the White House and that the car crashed at the checkpoints only at the outer perimeter of the White House.The incident is under investigation, he said.After the female driver crashed her car, one of the law enforcement official initially rescued the child and took the child to an initial medical care in the vicinity. Lanier and other police officials refused to "We are not going to answer any questions about the suspect at this point. All the information that we're giving you is preliminary," she said.
"As of right now, we do know that there were shots fired in at least two locations during this pursuit," she said adding that the pursuit went several blocks, involved both the United States Secret Service and United States Capitol police.
"Right now it is all very preliminary. We don't know which officers fired, how many rounds were fired. I will say that both at the White House and at the Capitol, the security perimeters worked. They did exactly what they were supposed to do and they stopped a suspect from breaching the security perimeters, in a vehicle at both locations," Lanier said.Lanier said the incident does not appear to be in any way an accident.
"All the information that we have right now is this does not appear to be in any way an accident. This was a lengthy pursuit. There were multiple vehicles that were rammed. There were officers that were struck and security perimeters that were attempted to be breached. So it does not appear in any way this was an accident," she said.
5) Cabinet withdraws ordinance, bill on lawmakers:
Reversing its earlier step, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday decided to withdraw the ordinance as well as bill that sought to give protection to convicted lawmakers in the wake of public outburst against it by Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi.The Cabinet took the decision in a meeting of about 20 minutes which was chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.The decision capped a day of hectic activities which included Rahul Gandhi meeting the prime minister which was followed by a meeting of Congress core group headed by party president Sonia Gandhi."The Union Cabinet unanimously decided that the ordinance regarding certain aspects of the Representation of the People Act as well as the Bill (pending in Parliament) should be withdrawn," Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari told reporters.
The Cabinet had approved on September 24 the ordinance which sought to negate the Supreme Court order of July 10 which ruled that any lawmaker would stand immediately disqualified if convicted by a court.The overturning of the decision came in the wake of Rahul Gandhi's trashing of the ordinance as "nonsense". He had said it should be "torn" and "thrown out".Rahul Gandhi's public outburst was seen as undermining the authority of the prime minister who was on a visit to the US but the government finally toed his line.The ordinance was not signed by President Pranab Mukherjee as he too had reservations on it.Government had resorted to the ordinance route after it failed to get a bill in this regard passed by Parliament during the monsoon session which ended last month.Tewari said an "appropriate motion will be moved at appropriate time when Parliament meets" for withdrawal of the bill.Explaining the reasons for reversing the decision, he said the government reconsidered the issue after Rahul Gandhi gave his opinion based on the "widest feedback".He said the prime minister had articulated on Tuesday that "democracy is not a monolithic authority" and there can be reconsideration.When pointed out that the government had earlier strongly justified the ordinance, Tewari said he and several other ministers had defended it as it was their duty to defend a Cabinet decision.
He said the reversal of the decision shows that the government is sensitive to the wishes of the people."It was a cabinet decision in the beginning, it is a Cabinet decision now. That's all that I know. I am not the one for post-mortem. Its over. Let's forget it because the way you people (media) keep on hammering this, is not the right way of going about it," Union Minister Farooq Abdullah said.Union minister and RLD chief Ajit Singh said the decision to withdraw the ordinance does not undermine PM's authority."Party is always supreme. The Congress Core Committee had supported the ordinance earlier and now has decided to withdraw it and PM being a Congress leader has followed the party's decision," he said.
He said BJP had supported the bill at the all-party meet and changed track due to public pressure. "What is wrong if Congress has also responded to public sentiments," he asked.Before the Cabinet meeting at 6 pm, the Prime Minister had consulted Attorney General G E Vahanvati on the legalities involved in withdrawing the proposed ordinance.
Sources said the Cabinet also decided to withdraw Representation of the People (Second Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2013 as the proposed legislation has no relevance after the withdrawal of the ordinance.The ordinance is a copy of the bill pending in the Rajya Sabha. "If the ordinance is bad in law, then the bill too is bad in law. How can the bill be brought before Parliament for consideration and passage under such circumstances," a minister said.After the decision to withdraw the bill and the ordinance, the July 10 Supreme court ruling on immediate disqualification of convicted MPs, MLAs and MLCs is the law of the land. "Any new step regarding the judgement will be taken by the government after consulting political parties," the minister said.A request now will be placed before the President to allow the government to withdraw the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (Amendment) Ordinance (Second), 2013.As regards to the bill pending in the Rajya Sabha, government will move a resolution in the upper house during the Winter session.Meanwhile, Chairman Rajya Sabha and Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee before which the measure is pending will be
6) MBBS seat scam: Cong MP Rasheed Masood gets 4 yrs in jail:
|Cong MP Rasheed Masood|
Rajya Sabha member and Congress leader, Rasheed Masood, was sentenced to four years in jail by a Delhi court in a corruption case on Tuesday, becoming the first MP to lose his seat after a recent Supreme Court judgment had removed the immunity for convicted lawmakers.Sixty-seven-year-old Masood, who attains the dubious distinction of being the first lawmaker to be disqualified after the July 10 Supreme Court judgment, was immediately taken into custody by the court.
Special CBI Judge J P S Malik handed down the jail term to Masood after holding him guilty of fraudulently nominating undeserving candidates to MBBS seats allotted to Tripura in medical colleges across the country from the central pool as health minister in the National Front government of 1990. The court also imposed costs of Rs 60,000 on Masood.
Masood's conviction and sentencing is the first case after the Supreme Court judgment that struck down a provision in the Representation of the People Act, under which incumbent MPs and MLAs could avoid disqualification till pendency of the appeal against conviction in a higher court. On Monday, a court in Ranchi convicted Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad and Janata Dal-United leader Jagadish Sharma, both Lok Sabha members, in a fodder scam case. Their sentencing is scheduled for October 3 following which they also face disqualification.
Besides Masood, the court has awarded four-year jail term each to two other public servants, Gurdial Singh, a former Indian Police Service officer, and retired Indian Administrative Service official Amal Kumar Roy, the then secretary of Tripura chief minister Sudhir Ranjan Majumdar.Masood was held guilty of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act and IPC Sections 120-B(criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating) and 468 (forgery). He, however, was acquitted of the charge under Section 471 of the Indian Penal Code (using as genuine a forged document).The court, which has convicted nine students in the case, has also given one year imprisonment each to nine of them. It also imposed a fine of Rs 1.5 lakh on Singh, Rs 1 lakh on Roy and Rs 40,000 each on the nine students.
Soon after the sentence was pronounced in the jam-packed room, the court ordered the custody of the convicts. The nine students have moved their bail applications to enable them to file an appeal against their conviction and sentence before the superior court.The nine students, who had fraudulently got admission in the medical colleges, were convicted for cheating. Two of them, including Masood's nephew, were juvenile at the time of the offence and their case had been transferred to the Juvenile Justice Board on January 25, 2007.The then Tripura CM Sudhir Ranjan Majumdar and the then health minister Kashi Ram Reang were also accused in the case. They passed away during the pendency of the trial.
7) Cabinet gives nod for Telangana; Hyd to be joint capital:
The Centre on Thursday evening took the first significant step towards creation of a separate Telangana state from out of Andhra Pradesh and decided that Hyderabad will be the joint capital of the two states for 10 years.
Over two months after the Congress Working Committee put its seal of approval, the Union Cabinet approved the proposal of the home ministry for creation of the 29th state and decided to set up a Group of Ministers to work out modalities."The Cabinet has given its approval for the creation of a new state of Telangana," Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters after the meeting that lasted more than two hours.He said it was decided that Hyderabad will be the common capital of the two bifucated states for 10 years.After the creation of the new state, the security and guarantees including fundamental rights of the people of coastal Andhra, Rayalaseema and Telangana will be ensured, he said.
The Cabinet approved a GoM that will go into the issue of a special financial disbursement that may be required from the central government for the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh, for building its capital and to cater to special needs of the backward regions.The new state will have a geographical area of 10 of the 23 districts of undivided Andhra Pradesh.
While Congress leaders from Seema-andhra regions, including Union ministers were condemning their own party leadership for its pro Telangana decision, party leaders from Telangana thanked party president Sonia Gandhi and the prime minister profusely. Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Rajanarsimha described the decision of the Union Cabinet as "historic" and said that the people of Telangana will remember this day forever. Thursday's decision brings to fruition the announcement made by the then Home Minister P Chidambaram on December 9, 2009 for creation of Telangana.
The Union Cabinet’s surprise move to take up the Telangana note for consideration has inflamed the passions of people in Seema-Andhra regions and several organisations have called for a 72-hour strike in 13 districts of two regions from Friday.An angry YSR Congress President Jaganmohan Reddy has also joined the call for a 72 hour strike in Seema-andhra regions to protest against the decision of the Union Cabinet to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh."How dare they take this decision?" he asked.Jagan blamed his bete noire Telugu Desam Party Pesident N Chandrababu Naidu for the bifurcation of the state."We had asked him time and again to withdraw his letter to the centre supporting the idea of bifurcation, but he did not listen," Jaganmohan Reddy said.Party sources said that Jaganmohan Reddy was likely to again go on an indefinite fast. He had undertaken a similar fast while in jail but was forcibly asked to break his fast after six days. The United Andhra Pradesh Protection Committee, Vishalandhra Mahasabha, United Andhra Pradesh joint Action Committee, student unions and Road Transport Corporation employees’ JAC were among the organisations who called for the general strike.
Meanwhile, APNGOs Association has called for a 48 hour strike. The association president Ashok Babu, who is leading the 52-day strike by government employees, appealed to the people to make the strike successful. "Don’t allow even central government offices to work from tomorrow," he said. He demanded that all the ministers from Seema-andhra regions should resign. In view of the heightening tension, the state government has put the security forces on alert. Director General of Police B Prasad Rao held a video conference with the commissioners of Vijaywada and Visakhapatanam cities, SPs of 13 districts and inspector generals of different regions to discuss the situation
The decision to declare an alert was taken after the Union Home ministry sounded a warning to the state government that trouble was likely to break out over Union Cabinet’s decision to go ahead with the bifurcation of the state.
Protest demonstrations have already broken out at many places and protestors were specially targeting the residences of the union ministers and members of Parliament. Agitators forced the closure of shops and business establishments in Kadapa, Vijaywada and other places.In a related development, Union ministers of state Kavuri Sambasiva Rao and Pallam Raju, both from Andhra, have reportedly decided to resign from their posts in protest against the Cabinet decision. There is no news about the other three ministers -- Killi Krupa Rani, Panabaka Lakshmi and D Purandeshwari so far. Among the MPs, several Congress members of the Lok Sabha have also announced their resignations. They include Subbam Hari, A Venkatram Reddy , Sai Pratap and V Arun Kumar.The two ministers had come out of the Cabinet meeting mid way on Thursday evening. They, along with other central ministers from Seema-Andhra, were under tremendous pressure from the protestors to quit. Meanwhile, scores of pro-united Andhra activists, including Telugu Desam Party Rajya Sabha MP CM Ramesh, held a protest outside the prime minister's residence in New Delhi on Thursday evening against the move to create a separate Telangana state.
The demonstration came ahead of the meeting of the Union Cabinet where UPA ministers approved the proposed bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.The Cabinet took the momentous decision despite stiff opposition from within Congress leaders from Seema-andhra region, including Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy and Union Ministers and MPs. Some of them even threatened to quit.Ever since the CWC took the decision, there have been agitations against the bifurcation in the Seemandhra region.In a bid to assuage feelings in the Seemandhra region, the Congress set up a committee headed by Defence Minister A K Antony to look into the grievances."The Cabinet has approved a Group of Ministers to determine an appropriate mechanism to ensure legal and administrative measures for both the successive states of the government to function from the common capital of Hyderabad for 10 years and to ensure safety and security of the residents of all three regions -- Coastal Andhra, Rayalaseema and Telangana, including guarantees of their fundamental rights."The Cabinet also approved…further sought from the GoM to determine a special financial disbursement that may be required from the central government revenues that would be available to the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh for the formation of new capital and to meet the special needs of backward region of the state," Shinde said.
The districts that to be part of the new state will be Adilabad, Karimnagar, Khammam, Mahaboobnagar, Medak, Nalgonda, Nizamabad, Rangareddy and Warangal besides Hyderabad.The Cabinet decision was on the lines of the July 30 CWC resolution which said, "It is resolved to request the Central government to take steps in accordance with the Constitution to form a separate state of Telangana ... within a definite timeframe.The CWC had also decided to recommend to the government that Hyderabad be made the joint capital of the newly-proposed state and the other regions--Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra--for a period of 10 years.The momentous CWC decision came after hectic consultations, which involved consultations with UPA allies also.
8) Obama postpones Malaysia visit over US shutdown:
United States President Barack Obama has postponed his first visit to Malaysia and the Philippines next week due to the current US government shutdown, it was announced on Wednesday."Obama called this morning and informed me that he has to cancel his visit to Malaysia due to events transpiring in the United States, which has caused a partial shutdown of the government," Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak said."Yet, Obama has expressed his intention to visit Malaysia at a date to be determined later," Najib added.In Washington, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said that "logistically, it was not possible to go ahead with these trips in the face of a government shutdown."
She added: "President Obama's travel to Malaysia and the Philippines has been postponed. Because they are on the back end of the president's upcoming trip, our personnel was not yet in place and we were not able to go forward with planning."Hayden said Secretary of State John Kerry would take Obama's place in both Malaysia and the Philippines.
She said the trips can be re-scheduled and Obama looks forward to visit both the countries later in his second term.
A political deadlock in Washington over Obama's healthcare plan, which is opposed by the Republicans, has led to the current crisis.The US Congress will decide on October 17 on whether to raise the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling or scramble to find the cash.Failure to agree on a rise in the US government's borrowing authority would force the US to default on some payment obligations.
Sports News this Week:
1) A labourer's 17-year-old son lives his hockey dream, promises more:
Hours after reaching India from Malaysia on Monday, 17-year-old hockey player Harjeet Singh Puli was at the Kurali bus stand in Mohali, waiting for transport to go to his village Niholika. While he waited, Harjeet looked eagerly around, hoping to spot his father, Rampal Singh.
After break, India breakout
Rampal is a daily-wage labourer who does odd jobs in the small town near Chandigarh. He is sometimes found at the bus stand, carrying passengers' luggage. Harjeet wanted to show his father his biggest achievement yet: the trophy for the most promising player at the Sultan of Johor Cup under-21 hockey tournament held last week in Johor Bahru, Malaysia.
India thrash Korea 6-1 in Johor Cup
India won the tournament final on Sunday, and the lanky centre half came away leaving a powerful impression with his stickwork."It is never easy to find my father in Kurali. He goes wherever he finds work, sometimes to construction sites. My elder brother Rajwinder Singh also works as a labourer when he's not playing hockey. My sister plays the game too, representing Chandigarh. My family borrowed money to buy me a kit, and one of our relatives pitched in. This trophy will bring joy to all of them," Harjeet said.Harjeet started playing hockey in 2004 at Kurali's Gopal Hockey Academy before joining Surjeet Hockey Academy in Jalandhar in 2008. He was soon part of the Punjab junior team which won the junior national title in 2012 and 2013. Harjeet made his junior national debut in last year's Sultan of Johor Cup.
"I started as a forward but my coach at the Kurali academy advised me to play as a full back. At Surjit Academy, I often dreamt of becoming a full back like (the former India captain and Olympian) Surjit Singhji. But during the junior nationals last year, coaches Avtar Singh and Gurdev Singh advised me to play in the midfield. Manpreet, the junior skipper, also plays there, and has motivated me constantly," Harjeet said. The move to the midfield paid off spectacularly. "He is one of the better centre halves in India currently," Baljit Singh Saini, coach of the national junior side, said.
"With his vision and quick thinking, he has the ability to control the game. This is a very important aspect for a centre half. He is a complete package: his passing, trapping, off-the-ball running is really good, better than most players his age. It is not surprising that he was chosen the best player of this tournament," Saini said.Hockey India has announced an additional cash prize of Rs 1,00,000 for Harjeet, apart from the cash award of the same amount announced for all members of the victorious squad.Harjeet plans to give some of the money to his father, and spend the rest on hockey sticks and shoes. "Most of our sticks break after a few days. The ones I use now were given by seniors. Now I hope to buy my own sticks," he said.
"My father does not know about the cash award yet, and he will be delighted. But then, tomorrow he will again be out, searching for work."
2) Real Madrid thump FC Copenhagen 4-0 at home:
Cristiano Ronaldo took his Champions League tally to five goals in two outings this season when he scored with two headers to help Real Madrid to a thumping 4-0 victory over FC Copenhagen in Group B on Wednesday.Angel Di Maria also struck twice at the Bernabeu and set up Ronaldo's second goal as Real put a couple of poor performances in La Liga behind them with another emphatic display in Europe following their 6-1 drubbing of Galatasaray last month.
The home team's firepower proved too strong for a stubborn Copenhagen side who despite struggling domestically put up some stiff resistance in their first meeting with the nine-times European champions.Portugal forward Ronaldo followed up his hat-trick in Istanbul with another sparkling display and Argentina winger Di Maria also turned in a fine performance in the absence of injured world record signing Gareth Bale."It was a good match," said coach Carlo Ancelotti who came under fire after Real were beaten 1-0 at home by Atletico Madrid at the weekend."There was some good intensity and balance at the beginning," the Italian told reporters. "We were trying to score until the final minutes and the attitude of the team was good."Ancelotti made a few tweaks to his formation for the visit of the Danish side who held Juventus to a 1-1 draw in Copenhagen in their opening game.Luka Modric, Sami Khedira and Asier Illarramendi were deployed in a three-man midfield, with Karim Benzema up front alongside Ronaldo and Di Maria and fullbacks Marcelo and Dani Carvajal providing width.
With their fans providing impressive encouragement high up in Real's giant arena, Copenhagen made a bright start but the hosts quickly asserted themselves and Benzema headed narrowly wide from Marcelo's left-wing cross in the sixth minute.Just as the home supporters were starting to grow restless, Ronaldo opening the scoring in the 21st minute when goalkeeper Johan Wiland failed to deal with Marcelo's floated cross and he nodded in from a tight angle.
3) Rafael Nadal edges closer to number one ranking:
Rafa Nadal moved another step closer to regaining the top spot in the world rankings from Novak Djokovic after the Spaniard came through a tough tussle with Philipp Kohlschreiber in the China Open on Wednesday.
The 13-times grand slam champion beat the German 6-4 7-6(3) on the hard courts at the National Tennis Centre in Beijing to set up a quarter-final against Fabio Fognini of Italy.Nadal needs to reach the final of the $2,315,250 tournament to take back the top ranking from Djokovic, who has finished the last two years as world number one.
The Spaniard has won 10 titles this year, including the French and U.S. Opens, after coming back from his latest spell on the sidelines to allow his troubled knees time to recover. He is now aiming to extend that brilliant run in Asia.
The 27-year-old traded breaks with Kohlschreiber early in the opening set on Wednesday before securing another in the 10th game when the German hit a forehand long.The second set went with serve until a tiebreak where Nadal's serve helped him prevail 7-3 to rack up his 19th consecutive win since losing in the first round of Wimbledon to Belgian Steve Darcis."Today the serve, in my opinion, helped in the important moments," Nadal was quoted as saying by the ATP Tour.
"But it's true that his level of tennis I think was just brilliant tonight. I won because I played a great match. If not, I would not be here with a victory."Fognini booked his last eight spot with a 6-0 6-2 thrashing of former world number one Lleyton Hewitt.Big serving American John Isner was another second round winner as he prevailed 6-2 6-7(3) 6-4 over Spanish qualifier Roberto Bautista. He will next play Czech world number five Tomas Berdych who claimed a walkover over Russia's Nikolay Davydenko.
4) The Shashank redemption?:
Former BCCI chief Shashank Manohar voiced his opposition to board president N Srinivasan and though he is not the first cricket administrator to have criticised the Tamil Nadu strongman, it appears that voices of dissent within the organisation are growing.
Speaking to Mumbai Mirror, Manohar said Srinivasan should have stepped down right after spot-fixing allegations cropped up against his son-in-law and CSK team principal Gurunath Meiyappan, considering the conflict of interest. "If you had the slightest of conscience, self-esteem and care for the board, you ought to have put in your papers the moment your son-in-law was arrested. You did nothing and as a result the board's reputation has taken a hit," Manohar was quoted as saying. "This board has been built over the years by very many people but its reputation has been damaged by this man (Srinivasan) in a span of four months."After Manohar's outburst, others within the board, who had previously remained silent due to the lack of a credible alternative to Srinivasan, have begun to voice their dissent.
Goa Cricket Association (GCA) vice-president Shekhar Salkar has called for re-election (for the post of BCCI president) under a 'neutral observer'. "Hope Srinivasan will be debarred from taking over as president and a clean election will be held under a neutral observer. I wish the Supreme Court takes a decision to bar those who are chargesheeted from working as office bearers in any sports organisation," he told The Indian Express. The GCA was one of the six state associations from South Zone that helped Srinivasan get a year's extension as BCCI president."We supported him because he was the only one who contested. The opposition group didn't have a central figure to lead the charge, but now both Sharad Pawar and Manohar appear to be taking interest," Salkar explained.
5) Down but not out:
A spirited fight back in the second half was not enough for East Bengal as the Indian club went down 2-4 to defending champions Kuwait SC in the first leg semifinal of the AFC Cup football tournament. For Kuwait SC, Issam Jemaa struck twice in the 18th and 33rd minutes, while Waleed Ali Jumah and Chedi Hammami scored a goal each in the 31st and 48th minutes respectively Tuesday night. Uga Okpara and Lalrindika Ralte scored for East Bengal in the 66th and 87th minutes respectively at the Kuwait Stadium.
East Bengal were staring at an embarrassing defeat when Hammami struck just two minutes into the second half to make it 4-0 for the three-time winning hosts. The visitors, however, sprung back to life after coach Marcos Falopa introduced Lalrindika Ralte and Cavin Lobo in the midfield. Ralte was immediately in the thick of things as he fired a warning shot that just cleared the crossbar.The substitute midfielder had a hand in East Bengal's first goal, floating in a corner from the left that was met by Okpara's powerful header into the back of the net. Lobo went close with a low shot from the top of the box that flew just wide before Dika crafted a fine second for his side, taking down the ball on the left of the Kuwait SC box and cutting inside Al Sanea before lashing a fierce right-footed shot past Al Kanderi.
After being at the receiving end of the opposition's onslaught in the first half, it suddenly looked like East Bengal were calling the shots after the lemon break save that strike from Hammami. Dika, as he is fondly called, himself scored a gem of a goal from a Lobo assist just before the final whistle to reduce the margin. Ahead of the home leg match on October 22, things could have been much better for East Bengal had it not been for goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh's howler that led to Kuwait SC's fourth goal. The East Bengal goalkeeper was caught in two minds as a cross was floated in by Jarah Al Ateeqi and he ended up weakly knocking the ball down in his six-yard box with one hand for the onrushing Hammami to fire the ball into the net.
Earlier, Jemaa continued his scoring form, bagging a first-half brace as the hosts took firm control of the match. The Tunisian striker beat what looked like a East Bengal offside trap to open the scoring after 17 minutes and made it 3-0 with his ninth goal in three games in the 33rd minute, shortly after Waleed Ali had extended the home side's lead. Okpara, Mehtab Hossein and Abdullah Alburaiki of Kuwait SC were the three players booked in this match.Falopa said the opposition dominated the match but was not too happy with refereeing."Kuwait team dominated the first half but we were done in by two bad decisions of referee and linesman which resulted in the first two goals scored from a palpably offside positions. We came back strongly in the second half and put up a much better show. The substitutes changed the complexion of the game completely. Though we'll miss Uga in the second leg we hope to win our match at Kolkata and enter the final," Falopa said.In their return match at the Salt Lake Stadium, East Bengal will need to win by at least a two-goal margin.
Book of This Week:
The Circle : by Dave Eggers
|The Circle : by Dave Eggers|
When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world—even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.
Eggers introduces his young protagonist, Mae Holland, on her first day of work at a massive California corporation called the Circle, a fictionalized Google. The Circle’s first breakthrough was TruYou, a product that combines all your passwords, preferences, and payment systems into a single account—“one button for the rest of your life online.” The company’s also aiming to trace the evolution of our genetic code, to map the farthest reaches of the universe, and, perhaps most ominously, to capture every moment of the day, all across the world, on searchable high-def video.
Author : Dave Eggers:
|Author : Dave Eggers|
Dave Eggers is the author of six previous books, including "Zeitoun," a nonfiction account a Syrian-American immigrant and his extraordinary experience during Hurricane Katrina and "What Is the What," a finalist for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award. That book, about Valentino Achak Deng, a survivor of the civil war in southern Sudan, gave birth to the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation, run by Mr. Deng and dedicated to building secondary schools in southern Sudan. Eggers is the founder and editor of McSweeney's, an independent publishing house based in San Francisco that produces a quarterly journal, a monthly magazine ("The Believer"), and "Wholphin," a quarterly DVD of short films and documentaries. In 2002, with Nínive Calegari he co-founded 826 Valencia, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center for youth in the Mission District of San Francisco. Local communities have since opened sister 826 centers in Chicago, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Ann Arbor, Seattle, and Boston. In 2004, Eggers taught at the University of California-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, and there, with Dr. Lola Vollen, he co-founded Voice of Witness, a series of books using oral history to illuminate human rights crises around the world. A native of Chicago, Eggers graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in journalism. He now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and two children.