|Animated Collage NewsWeek(66)|
|Collage Of NewsWeek(66)|
Science News This Week:
1) Monkey That Purrs Like a Cat Is Among New Species Discovered in Amazon Rainforest:
At least 441 new species of animals and plants have been discovered over a four year period in the vast, underexplored rainforest of the Amazon, including a monkey that purrs like a cat.
Found between 2010 and 2013, the species include a flame-patterned lizard, a thumbnail-sized frog, a vegetarian piranha, a brightly coloured snake, and a beautiful pink orchid, according to World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
Discovered by a group of scientists and compiled by WWF, the new species number 258 plants, 84 fish, 58 amphibians, 22 reptiles, 18 birds and one mammal. This total does not include countless discoveries of insects and other invertebrates.
"These species form a unique natural heritage that we need to conserve. This means protecting their home -- the amazing Amazon rainforest -- which is under threat from deforestation and dam development," said Claudio Maretti, Leader of Living Amazon Initiative, WWF.
Some of the most remarkable species outlined in the report include:
• Flame-patterned lizard: This beautiful lizard was found from the hatchlings of eggs collected by scientists in the Colombian Amazon. An elusive species, Cercosaura hypnoides, has not been seen in the wild since the original eggs were collected, raising the prospect that it could potentially be endangered.
• Thumbnail-sized frog: This amphibian is already believed to be highly endangered. In fact, its Latin name, Allobates amissibilis, meaning "that may be lost," alludes to this as the area where it thrives could soon be opened to tourism. This is now the third Allobates species found in Guyana.
• Vegetarian Piranha: This new species of piranha, Tometes camunani, can span 20 inches wide and weigh up to 9 pounds, and is strictly herbivorous. The freshwater fish inhabits rocky rapids associated with seedlings of plants that grow among the rocks, its main source of food. Tometes is described from the upper drainages of the Trombetas River basin, Para, Brazilian Amazon.
• A brightly coloured snake from the "Lost World": Found in the mountains of Guyana, this brightly-colored snake species was named Chironius challenger after Arthur C. Doyle's fictional character Professor George Edward Challenger in the novel, The Lost World.
• A beautiful pink orchid: Among the new plant species are a large number of new orchid species, including this splendid pink species, Sobralia imavieirae, officially described by scientists from Roraima in the Brazilian Amazon.
• Caqueta titi monkey: This new species, Callicebus caquetensis, is one of about 20 species of titi monkey, which all live in the Amazon basin. The babies have an endearing trait, "When they feel very content they purr towards each other," explained scientist Thomas Defler.
Many of the new discoveries are believed to be endemic to the Amazon rainforest and are found nowhere else in the world. This makes them even more vulnerable to rainforest destruction that occurs every minute across the Amazon.
"Compiling and updating data on new species discovered in the vast extension of the Amazon over the last four years has shown us just how important the region is for humanity and how fundamentally important it is to research it, understand it and conserve it. The destruction of these ecosystems is threatening biodiversity and the services it provides to societies and economies. We cannot allow this natural heritage to be lost forever," Maretti said.
2) Grasshopper Mice Are Numb to the Pain of the Bark Scorpion Sting:
The painful, potentially deadly stings of bark scorpions are nothing more than a slight nuisance to grasshopper mice, which voraciously kill and consume their prey with ease. When stung, the mice briefly lick their paws and move in again for the kill.
The grasshopper mice are essentially numb to the pain, scientists have found, because the scorpion toxin acts as an analgesic rather than a pain stimulant.The scientists published their research this week in Science.
Ashlee Rowe, lead author of the paper, previously discovered that grasshopper mice, which are native to the southwestern United States, are generally resistant to the bark scorpion toxin, which can kill other animals.
It is still unknown why the toxin is not lethal to the mice.
"This venom kills other mammals of similar size," said Rowe, Michigan State University assistant professor of neuroscience and zoology. "The grasshopper mouse has developed the evolutionary equivalent of martial arts to use the scorpions' greatest strength against them."Rowe, who conducted the research while at The University of Texas at Austin, and her colleagues ventured into the desert and collected scorpions and mice for their experiments.
To test whether the grasshopper mice felt pain from the toxin, the scientists injected small amounts of scorpion venom or nontoxic saline solution in the mice's paws. Surprisingly, the mice licked their paws (a typical toxin response) much less when injected with the scorpion toxin than when injected with a nontoxic saline solution."This seemed completely ridiculous," said Harold Zakon, professor of neuroscience at The University of Texas at Austin. "One would think that the venom would at least cause a little more pain than the saline solution. This would mean that perhaps the toxin plays a role as an analgesic. This seemed very far out, but we wanted to test it anyway."Rowe and Zakon discovered that the bark scorpion toxin acts as an analgesic by binding to sodium channels in the mouse pain neurons, and this blocks the neuron from firing a pain signal to the brain.Pain neurons have a couple of different sodium channels, called 1.7 and 1.8, and research has shown that when toxins bind to 1.7 channels, the channels open, sodium flows in and the pain neuron fires.By sequencing the genes for both the 1.7 and 1.8 sodium channels, the scientists discovered that channel 1.8 in the grasshopper mice has amino acids different from mammals that are sensitive to bark scorpion stings, such as house mice, rats and humans. They then found that the scorpion toxin binds to one of these amino acids to block the activation of channel 1.8 and thus inhibit the pain response.
"Incredibly, there is one amino acid substitution that can totally alter the behavior of the toxin and block the channel," said Zakon.The riddle hasn't been completely solved just yet, though, Rowe said."We know the region of the channel where this is taking place and the amino acids involved," she said. "But there's something else that's playing a role, and that's what I'm focusing on next."Some resistance to prey toxins in mammals has been found in other species. The mongoose, for example, is resistant to the cobra. And naked mole rats' eyes do not burn in pain when carbon dioxide builds up in their underground tunnels.This study, however, is the first to find that an amino acid substitution in sodium channel 1.8 can have an analgesic effect.Rowe said studies such as this could someday help researchers target these sodium channels for the development of analgesic medications for humans.
3) What Is It About Your Face? Researchers Provide New Insight Into Why Each Human Face Is Unique:
The human face is as unique as a fingerprint, no one else looks exactly like you. But what is it that makes facial morphology so distinct? Certainly genetics play a major role as evident in the similarities between parents and their children, but what is it in our DNA that fine-tunes the genetics so that siblings -- especially identical twins -- resemble one another but look different from unrelated individuals? A new study by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has now shown that gene enhancers -- regulatory sequences of DNA that act to turn-on or amplify the expression of a specific gene -- are major players in craniofacial development.
"Our results suggest it is likely there are thousands of enhancers in the human genome that are somehow involved in craniofacial development," says Axel Visel, a geneticist with Berkeley Lab's Genomics Division who led this study. "We don't know yet what all of these enhancers do, but we do know that they are out there and they are important for craniofacial development."Visel is the corresponding author of a paper in the journal Science that describes this research. The paper is titled "Fine Tuning of Craniofacial Morphology by Distant-Acting Enhancers." (See below for the complete list of co-authors.)While some genetic defects responsible for craniofacial pathologies such as clefts of the lip or palate have been identified, the genetic drivers of normal craniofacial variation have been poorly understood. Previous work by Visel and his collaborators, in which they mapped gene enhancers in the heart, the brain and other organ systems demonstrated that gene enhancers can regulate their targets from across distances of hundreds of thousands of base pairs. To learn whether gene enhancers can also have the same long-distance impact on craniofacial development, Visel and a multinational team of collaborators studied transgenic mice.
"We used a combination of epigenomic profiling, in vivo characterization of candidate enhancer sequences, and targeted deletion experiments to examine the role of distant-acting enhancers in the craniofacial development of our mice," says Catia Attanasio, the lead author on the Science paper. "This enabled us to identify complex regulatory landscapes, consisting of enhancers that drive spatially complex developmental expression patterns. Analysis of mouse lines in which individual craniofacial enhancers had been deleted revealed significant alterations of craniofacial shape, demonstrating the functional importance of enhancers in defining face and skull morphology."
In all, Visel, Attanasio and their colleagues identified more than 4,000 candidate enhancer sequences predicted to be active in fine-tuning the expression of genes involved in craniofacial development, and created genome-wide maps of these enhancers by pin-pointing their location in the mouse genome. The researchers also characterized in detail the activity of some 200 of these gene enhancers and deleted three of them. A majority of the enhancer sequences identified and mapped are at least partially conserved between humans and mice, and many are located in human chromosomal regions associated with normal facial morphology or craniofacial birth defects."Knowing about the existence of these enhancers, which are inherited from parents to their children just like genes, knowing their exact location in the human genome, and knowing their general activity pattern in craniofacial development should facilitate a better understanding of the connection between genetics and human craniofacial morphology," Visel says. "Our results also offer an opportunity for human geneticists to look for mutations specifically in enhancers that may play a role in birth defects, which in turn may help to develop better diagnostic and therapeutic approaches."
Visel says he and his collaborators are now in the process of refining their genome-wide maps to gain additional information about the activity patterns of these enhancer sequences. They are also working with human geneticists to perform targeted searches for mutations of these enhancer sequences in human patients who have craniofacial birth defects.
4) "Higgsogenesis" Proposed to Explain Dark Matter:
Interactions of Higgs bosons and anti-Higgs in the early universe may also have caused the observed asymmetry between matter and antimatter.A key riddle in cosmology may be answered by the 2012 discovery of the Higgs boson—now a leading contender for the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics on October 8.
Two physicists suggest that the Higgs had a key role in the early universe, producing the observed difference between the number of matter and antimatter particles and determining the density of the mysterious dark matter that makes up five-sixths of the matter in the universe.
In a paper accepted for publication in Physical Review Letters, Sean Tulin of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Géraldine Servant of the Catalan Institute for Research and Advanced Study in Barcelona, Spain, say that there may have been an asymmetry in the early universe between the Higgs boson and its antimatter counterpart, the anti-Higgs.
It is thought that the Higgs does not currently have an antiparticle, but the standard cosmological model allows for there to have been both Higgs bosons and anti-Higgs bosons in the very early universe. Tulin and Servant’s idea is that there was an imbalance between the numbers of these particles. The Higgs interacts with ordinary matter, and that imbalance in the number of Higgs and anti-Higgs particles could have translated into an asymmetry in the amount of matter and antimatter.“We really make the Higgs a key player, whereas in many other cosmological theories it's just a by-product,” says Tulin.
The team has dubbed the idea Higgsogenesis, after baryogenesis, the name of an early-universe process that has been proposed to create more baryons (particles including protons and neutrons) than antibaryons. “Higgsogenesis is an alternative,” says Tulin.
Tulin and Servant show that if the Higgs also interacted with dark matter—for example by generating dark-matter particles when it decays—it could produce a ratio of dark to visible matter that is just what we see in the universe today. Servant says that one consequence of the Higgs interacting in this way would be a new potential test for dark matter, which has so far proven difficult to see directly. When the Higgs decays to other particles in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, Europe's particle-physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, it would occasionally form dark-matter particles that could not be detected. Higgs decays at the LHC have not yet been studied closely enough to tell whether this is happening, but could be in future, Servant says.
Other groups are also pursuing Higgsogenesis. In July, theorist Sacha Davidson of the University of Lyons in France and her colleagues uploaded a paper to the preprint server arXiv investigating what would be required to produce the asymmetry between the Higgs and anti-Higgs that would kick off Higgsogenesis in the early universe. They found that a relatively simple theory—in which the standard model of particle physics includes all the normal particles, as well as two Higgs and one extra, unobservable Higgs-like particle—can produce an asymmetry of the type that Servant and Tulin propose.
Manoj Kaplinghat, a theoretical physicist at the University of California, Irvine, likes Tulin and Servant’s proposal because of its simplicity. “We know that the Higgs exists, we know there’s dark matter and matter–antimatter asymmetry, and they’re trying to put three empirical facts together,” he says. “It's a minimal approach and that makes it interesting.”
5) Yeast, Human Stem Cells Drive Discovery of New Parkinson's Disease Drug Targets:
Using a discovery platform whose components range from yeast cells to human stem cells, Whitehead Institute scientists have identified a novel Parkinson's disease drug target and a compound capable of repairing neurons derived from Parkinson's patients.The platform -- whose effectiveness is described in dual papers published online this week in the journal Science -- could accelerate the discovery of drug candidates that address the underlying pathology of Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases. Today, no such drugs exist.
Parkinson's disease (PD) and such neurodegenerative diseases as Huntington's and Alzheimer's are characterized by protein misfolding, resulting in toxic accumulations of proteins in the cells of the central nervous system. Cellular buildup of the protein alpha-synuclein, for example, has long been associated with PD, making this protein a seemingly appropriate target for therapeutic intervention.In the search for compounds that might alter a protein's behavior or function -- such as that of alpha-synuclein -- drug companies often rely on so-called target-based screens that test the effect large numbers of compounds have on the protein in question in rapid, automated fashion. Though efficient, such an approach is limited by the fact that it essentially occurs in a test tube. Seemingly promising compounds emerging from a target-based screen may act quite differently when they're moved from the in vitro environment into a living setting.
To overcome this limitation, the lab of Whitehead Member Susan Lindquist has turned to phenotypic screens in which candidate compounds are studied within a living system. In Lindquist's lab, yeast cells -- which share the core cell biology of human cells -- serve as living test tubes in which to study the problem of protein misfolding and to identify possible solutions. Yeast cells genetically modified to overproduce alpha-synuclein serve as robust models for the toxicity of this protein that underlies PD."Phenotypic screens are probably underutilized for identifying drug targets and potential compounds," says Daniel Tardiff, a scientist in the Lindquist lab and lead author of one of the Science papers. "Here, we let the yeast tell us what is a good target. We let a living cell tell us what's critical for reversing alpha-synuclein toxicity."In a screen of nearly 200,000 compounds, Tardiff and collaborators identified one chemical entity that not only reversed alpha-synuclein toxicity in yeast cells, but also partially rescued neurons in the model nematode C. elegans and in rat neurons. Significantly, cellular pathologies including impaired cellular trafficking and an increase in oxidative stress, were reduced by treatment with the identified compound. Enabled by the chemistry provided by Nate Jui in the Buchwald lab at MIT, Tardiff found that the compound was working by restoring functions mediated by a cellular protein critical for trafficking that was previously thought to be "undruggable."
But would these findings apply in human cells? To answer that question, husband-and-wife team Chee-Yeun Chung and Vikram Khurana led the second study published in Science to examine neurons derived from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells generated from Parkinson's patients. The cells and differentiated neurons (of a type damaged by the disease) were derived from patients that carried alpha-synuclein mutations and develop aggressive forms of the disease. To ensure that any pathology developed in the cultured neurons could be attributed solely to the genetic defect, the researchers also derived control neurons from iPS cells in which the mutation had been corrected.
Chung and Khurana used the wealth of data from the yeast alpha-synuclein toxicity model to clue them in on key cellular processes that became perturbed as patient neurons aged in the dish. Strikingly, exposure to the compound identified via yeast screens in Tardiff's study reversed the damage in these neurons."It was remarkable that the compound rescued yeast cells and patient neurons in similar ways and through the same target -- a target we would not have identified without yeast genetics to guide us," says Khurana, a postdoctoral scientist in the Lindquist lab and a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital who recruited patients for participation in this research. Khurana believes that the abnormalities discovered occur in the early stages of disease. If so, successful manipulation of the targets identified here might help slow or even prevent disease progression.For the researchers involved, these findings are a bit of surprise. Because neurodegenerative disorders like PD are largely diseases of aging, modeling them in a culture dish using neurons grown from iPS cells has been thought to be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible.
"Many, ourselves included, were skeptical that we could find any important pathologies for a neurodegenerative disorder by reprogramming patient cells," says Chung, a Senior Research Scientist in the Lindquist lab. "Critically, we also validated these pathologies in post-mortem brains, so we're quite confident these are relevant for the disease."
Next steps for these scientists include chemically optimizing the compound identified and testing it in animal models. Moreover, they are convinced that this yeast-human stem cell discovery platform could be applied to other neurodegenerative diseases for which yeast models have been developed.
"Using yeast genetics to identify a compound and its mechanism of action against the fundamental pathology of a disease illustrates the power of the system we've built," says Lindquist, who is also professor of biology at MIT and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. "It's critical that we continue to leverage this power because as we reduce the rate at which people are dying from cancer and heart disease, the burden of these dreaded neurodegenerative diseases is going to rise. It's inevitable."
6) Making Hydrogen Cheaply? Unique Chemistry in Hydrogen Catalysts Revealed:
Making hydrogen easily and cheaply is a dream goal for clean, sustainable energy. Bacteria have been doing exactly that for billions of years, and now chemists at the University of California, Davis, and Stanford University are revealing how they do it, and perhaps opening ways to imitate them. A study published Oct. 25 in the journal Science describes a key step in assembling the hydrogen-generating catalyst."It's pretty interesting that bacteria can do this," said David Britt, professor of chemistry at UC Davis and co-author on the paper. "We want to know how nature builds these catalysts -- from a chemist's perspective, these are really strange things."
The bacterial catalysts are based on precisely organized clusters of iron and sulfur atoms, with side groups of cyanide and carbon monoxide. Those molecules are highly toxic unless properly controlled, Britt noted.The cyanide and carbon monoxide groups were known to come from the amino acid tyrosine, Britt said. Jon Kuchenreuther, a postdoctoral researcher in Britt's laboratory, used a technique called electron paramagnetic resonance to study the structure of the intermediate steps.They found a series of chemical reactions involving a type of highly reactive enzyme called a radical SAM enzyme. The tyrosine is attached to a cluster of four iron atoms and four sulfur atoms, then cut loose leaving the cyanide and carbon monoxide groups behind."People think of radicals as dangerous, but this enzyme directs the radical chemistry, along with the production of normally poisonous CO and CN, along safe and productive pathways," Britt said.Kuchenreuther, Britt and colleagues also used another technique, Fourier Transform Infrared to study how the iron-cyanide-carbon monoxide complex is formed. That work will be published separately."Together, these results show how to make this interesting two-cluster enzyme," Britt said. "This is unique, new chemistry."Britt's laboratory houses the California Electron Paramagnetic Resonance center (CalEPR), the largest center of its kind on the west coast.
7) Tomb of Ancient Egyptian Physician Discovered:
Doc buried at Abusir served a king 4,400 years ago, say archaeologists.
A team of Czech archaeologists excavating at the site of Abusir, 17 miles (27 kilometers) south of Cairo, has discovered the large limestone tomb of a top royal physician from about 2400 B.C.A team of Czech archaeologists excavating at the site of Abusir, 17 miles (27 kilometers) south of Cairo, has discovered the large limestone tomb of a top royal physician from about 2400 B.C.The physician's name was Shepseskaf-Ankh, which means "Shepseskaf is living"—a tribute to the last king of the fourth dynasty during the period known as the Old Kingdom.As the Head of the Physicians of Upper and Lower Egypt, Shepseskaf-Ankh served the royal household during the fifth dynasty. He is especially associated with a king named Niuserre, who ruled Egypt for at least a decade.
Miroslav Bárta, director of the archaeological team from the Czech Institute of Egyptology, is particularly pleased with the historical details contained in the tomb as well as its architectural preservation. "This microcosmos illustrates general trends that ruled the society of the day," he says.Niuserre "followed the policy of marrying some of his daughters to his top officials to keep their ambitions at bay," says Bárta. "This is exactly the moment when the empire starts to break down due to rising expenses and increasing independence of powerful families."It was also a time when Egypt's kings had run out of room at the royal funerary complex on the Giza plateau, the site of the grand pyramids of the fourth dynasty. They were now building smaller, rougher pyramids farther south.Shepseskaf-Ankh's tomb is the third physician's tomb to be found in the area. Other court officials and high-level priests were also laid to rest there, close to the rulers they once served.
Shepseskaf-Ankh came from an elite Egyptian family. In one section of the tomb—surrounding a feature called a false door—he is identified by titles indicating his elevated status, such as Priest of Re in the Temples of the Sun, Priest of Khnum, and Priest of Magic.The spacious dimensions of his tomb—roughly 46 feet (14 meters) by 70 feet (21 meters), and 13 feet (4 meters) high—are another indication of his importance. The funerary complex features an open court and eight burial chambers for Shepseskaf-Ankh and his family. Being a royal doctor, it seems, could ensure your family's success not just in this world but in the afterlife as well.Abusir is part of the great royal cemetery that stretches between Giza and Saqqara in the desert west of the Nile. Although looting has increased there in the wake of the 2011 revolution, this discovery shows that some areas remain undisturbed by the recent turmoil. The Czech team next plans to excavate structures beneath the tomb to see what additional secrets they may reveal.
Movie Release This Week:
1) The Counselor:
A lawyer finds himself in over his head when he gets involved in drug trafficking.
In this reverse ghost story, teenager Lisa Johnson (Breslin) and her family died in 1986 under sinister circumstances but remain trapped in their house, unable to move on. Over a period of six “days”, Lisa must reach out from beyond the grave to help her present-day, living counterpart, Olivia, avoid the same fate Lisa and her family suffered.
3) A True Story:
The film concerns Mike and Matt (Fife and McGee), two broke writing partners and best friends, waiting for their big break. When Mike's ex-girlfriend Deanna (Bowden) comes back into his life, Matt will do anything to save his only friend from another broken heart. A True Story is a film within a film...within a film, as we see the less glamorous side of Hollywood. The story is not, however, inclusive to the LA scene. It's a story about resisting temptation, maintaining integrity, and keeping track of what's really important in life: the people that really love you and would do anything for you, however imperfect they might be.
An unexpected bond forms between two women when their sons are killed in an explosion at a local shopping mall. When the police find evidence of a bomb, one of the sons becomes the prime suspect, threatening the two mothers’ new friendship and forcing them to question how well they knew their own children.
5) Blue Is the Warmest Color:
Acclaimed French filmmaker Abdellatif Kechiche’s latest, based on Julie Maroh’s graphic novel, was the sensation of this year’s Cannes Film Festival even before it was awarded the Palme d’Or. Adèle Exarchopoulos is a young woman whose longings and ecstasies and losses are charted across a span of several years. Léa Seydoux (Midnight in Paris) is the older woman who excites her desire and becomes the love of her life. Kechiche’s movie is, like the films of John Cassavetes, an epic of emotional transformation that pulses with gestures, embraces, furtive exchanges, and arias of joy and devastation. It is a profoundly moving hymn to both love and life.
Political News This Week:
1) Rains, floods unleash fury on Andhra, Odisha; 48 killed:
Incessant rains and floods have claimed as many as 45 lives in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha, with hundreds of villages submerged in nearly 30 districts and road and rail links disrupted in the region.Three persons were also killed in heavy rains in south Bengal with normal life thrown out of gear in Kolkata and adjacent districts.
Rain and flood-battered Andhra Pradesh, where 29 people have been killed in the last four days, is unlikely to get respite anytime soon as the Met department has forecast heavy downpour in the next 48 hours in the state as also in many Odisha districts and south Bengal.At least 16 people have died in flood-related incidents in Odisha, where the situation remained grim despite major rivers receding.As many as 3,230 villages in 16 districts of Andhra Pradesh were badly affected due to torrential rains and 6,600 houses have been damaged, Disaster Management Commissioner T Radha said.
He said 405 minor irrigation tanks and a 935 km road stretch had been damaged while breaches occurred in canals in different districts, inundating settlements and crops.More than 72,000 people were evacuated from low-lying areas in nine districts, said Andhra Pradesh Agriculture Minister Kanna Lakshmi Narayana, adding that crops in 6.77 lakh hectares of land had been damaged.The government has set up 178 relief camps in nine districts, including 36 in Srikakulam.A flood alert has been sounded due to rising water level in river Krishna.In Odisha, two deaths each were reported from Bhadrak, Jajpur and Nayagarh districts, Special Relief Commissioner P K Mohapatra told reporters in Bhubaneshwar after the situation was reviewed by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
"All the deaths were due to wall collapse and drowning," Mohapatra said.Major rivers like Rusikulya, Godahada and Vansadhara were flowing below the danger mark .Over 5.32 lakh people in 2,276 villages in 13 districts were affected by the floods in Odisha, while about 1.47 lakh people were evacuated, officials said.Of the 129 villages inundated in Ganjam district by flash flood on Friday, water had receded in 69 villages.An IMD bulletin said that heavy to very heavy rainfall would occur over the next 48 hours at one or two places over Koraput, Malkangiri, Nawarangpur, Rayagada, Gajapati and Kalahandi districts.Vast stretches of the Vijayawada-Hyderabad Highway were submerged in floodwater, leading to traffic diversion.
The rail track at Bommayipalli on the Secunderabad-Guntur section was damaged and repairs were being carried out. All important trains on this route are being diverted via Warangal and Vijayawada, official sources said.The East Coast Railway has cancelled the Bhubaneswar-Bengaluru Prasanthi Express and Bhubaneswar-Visakhapatnam Express trains due to heavy rains. The Puri-Tirupati Express and Coromandel Express also stand cancelled.In West Bengal, Sanjoy Mondal and his son Ashish were killed after the balcony of an old house collapsed on Cotton Street in Kolkata, which received the season's highest of 140 mm rainfall.A woman, Dulai Mohanta, died in a wall collapse at Bhurigram in Burdwan district.
Widespread showers lashed Durgapur in Burdwan district, which reported 112-114 mm of rain.Purulia district reported 65 mm of rain which affected Bagmundi, Jhalda and Jaypore blocs.Altogether, 1,334 huts collapsed in the rains in Burdwan district, district disaster management sources said.Bankura District Magistrate Bijoy Bharati said the rains affected Barjora, Sonamukhi, Patrasayar, and Mejia blocks while the Kangasabati River crossed the danger level.
2) Andhra Pradesh hit by heavy rains; toll mounts to 29:
Incessant rains have claimed as many as 29 lives in Andhra Pradesh during the past four days while more than 72,000 people have been evacuated from low-lying areas.The rain and flood-battered southern state is unlikely to get respite anytime soon as the Met department has forecast heavy downpour in the next 48 hours.According to an official note from the commissioner, disaster management, more than 72,000 people were evacuated from low-lying areas in nine districts. Also, crops spread over 5.64 lakh hectares and 6,597 houses had been damaged.
The government has set up 178 relief camps in nine districts, including 36 in Srikakulam.Hundreds of villages across Andhra Pradesh remained submerged, while road and rail routes were affected as the rain fury continued on Saturday.Rain-related incidents like drowning and wall collapse have claimed 29 lives so far. Prakasam district accounted forthe maximum deaths at six, followed by Guntur 5, Mahabubnagar, 4, Hyderabad, Kurnool (three each), Vizianagaram, East Godavari, Nalgonda and Warangal (2 each), the statement said.
Besides, two persons have been reported missing in Visakhapatnam district.River Krishna was in spate following which 3.15 lakh cusecs of water is being discharged into Bay of Bengal from Prakasam Barrage in Vijayawada. Vast stretches of Vijayawada-Hyderabad Highway were submerged in floodwaters, leading to traffic diversion.Rail track at Bommayipalli on the Secunderabad-Guntur section was damaged and repairs were being carried out. All important trains on this route are being diverted via Warangal and Vijayawada, official sources said.
The East Coast Railway has cancelled Bhubaneswar-Bengaluru Prasanthi Express and Bhubaneswar-Visakhapatnam Express trains due to heavy rains. The Puri-Tirupati Express and Coromandel Express also stands cancelled, they said.A dozen teams of National Disaster Response Force are carrying out relief operations in Srikakulam, Guntur, West Godavari, Nalgonda, Prakasam and Mahbubnagar, they added.Vehicular traffic has been thrown out of gear as 900 km road stretch has been marooned. As many as 117 minor irrigation tanks were damaged in the rain-ravaged districts.Tens of village tanks have suffered breaches inundating settlements and crops.
3) SC verdict may wipe out AMRI's entire profit:
The Supreme Court order asking Kolkata-based Advanced Medicare and Research Institute Hospital to pay Rs 5.96 crore as compensation for medical negligence could wipe out an entire year’s profit. With interest, the compensation translates to a little more than Rs 11 crore.AMRI has two units, of which the one at Dhakuria was gutted by a fire in 2011 that claimed 91 lives and it might have to wait longer to see the light of day again.The apex court on Thursday had ordered the hospital and three of its doctors to compensate, with interest, a United States-based Indian-origin doctor for medical negligence which led to the death of his wife in 1998.
The compensation, with interest, translates to more than Rs 11 crore.The hospital, co-founded by industrialists R S Agarwal and R S Goenka, had booked a profit of around Rs 12 crore on a turnover of Rs 187 crore in FY10. Then the fire accident happened and since then, the hospital remains closed.When contacted, Emami director Aditya Agarwal refused to comment, saying he is not involved in the day-to-day operations and, hence, has no idea about the impact of the payout of the compensation.Rahul Todi, managing director of Sharachi group, too, refused to comment on the impact of the SC verdict on the company's financials. Emami and Sharachi are co-owners of AMRI.The buzz around AMRI Dhakuria has been positive in the past few months with chances of reopening of the unit gaining ground. The fire accident had soured the relationship between AMRI promoters and the state government, which arrested six directors of AMRI.West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had publicly said the government was not in favour of a ‘killer’ industry.However, of late, Emami promoters have been seen sharing the dais with West Bengal ministers at public events, signalling improvement of relations. The latest Supreme Court verdict could change all that.Subrata Majumdar, a Trinamool Congress leader, said, “This s being handled by the chief minister directly. Since the verdict came from the Supreme Court, it may delay things for AMRI.”The apex court verdict could also mean that AMRI may have to wait for a longer period before they can resume operations.AMRI had major expansion plans of about Rs 2,000 crore, which were put on hold after the fire accident.The group also had plans to set up seven hospitals across the east and north-east with an investment of nearly Rs 1,750 crore. Plus, it was planning to invest Rs 300 crore to add beds in the existing hospitals.
4) Death toll in Bangladesh violence rises to 6
The death toll in violence across Bangladesh, following dispute over electoral system, rose to six even as the country braced for a 60-hour opposition strike on Sunday, calling for a neutral caretaker government to oversee the next general elections.The media reports said at least six people were killed and some 300 others injured when fierce clashes erupted across the country yesterday as main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party staged a massive protest in Dhaka demanding installation of a non-party interim government.
The police and witnesses said BNP's crucial ally fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami activists joined the protests demanding release of their detained leaders who were convicted or awaiting judgement for crimes against humanity during the 1971 liberation war.The maximum three deaths were reported from central Chandpur where the opposition today enforced a day-long strike protesting police actions while two opposition activists were killed in southeastern Cox Bazar and the rest of the casualty was reported from northwestern Nilphamari district.
Political crisis is mounting in Bangladesh as the ruling alliance and opposition parties have failed to reach a deal to form a caretaker government ahead of the elections slated for January.BNP chief Khaleda Zia, addressing a rally of over 100,000 supporters on Friday, issued an ultimatum to her arch-rival Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to initiate talks on her demand. The former prime minister said if the demand was not accepted, the party would enforce a 60-hour nationwide strike from Sunday.Zia said the government would turn "illegal" as of Friday, citing a legal provision that requires a neutral caretaker government to be set up three months before polls.In 2010, the Hasina government announced there would be no caretaker administration at the next elections, arguing such a system enables the army to seize power.
The BNP has vowed to boycott polls without a caretaker government, arguing the system has delivered four successive free and fair polls since 1990 when democracy was restored after over a decade of military rule.
5) Three Pak smugglers shot dead; drug worth Rs 120 cr seized in Punjab:
Three Pakistani smugglers, carrying 24 kg of heroin worth Rs 120 crore in the international market, were shot dead by the Border Security Force on the Indo-Pak border as they were trying to sneak into Indian territory, BSF officials said in Attari on Saturday.
The Pakistani intruders were shot dead at Mullapur village during the cross firing with night patrolling party of the BSF.
The three intruders opened fire when they were challenged by the BSF night patrolling party who then responded killing the trio, BSF officials said.
A search operation was launched on Saturday morning during which bodies of the slain intruders were found, besides, 24 kg heroin worth Rs 120 crore in the international market.
Some arms and ammunition were also recovered from the spot.
A senior official said that the search operation was still in progress. More recovery of drugs and arms is expected after completion of search operation.
6) 'Give us just 60 months':
Jhansi ki Rani, a special economic package and providing opportunities for the backward classes.
These were among some of the many points raised by Gujarat Chief Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi during a rally at Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh on Friday.The Gujarat chief minister had obviously done his homework before delivering a speech that touched upon all the issues dear to the locals of the impoverished region of Bundelkhand.
In a fervent appeal to the massive crowd which had converged at Jhansi, Modi said, "You have given the Congress 60 years. Now give us just 60 months and I can assure you we will change your taqdeer (fate) as well as the tasveer (picture) of this country".
In his 50-minute speech, which drew intermittent thunderous applause, Modi made it a point to run down the Congress party and challenge its leader Rahul Gandhi on several counts.Referring to Rahul’s statement -- claiming intelligence inputs about Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence getting in touch with some riot victims in Muzaffarnagar -- Modi asked, "In what capacity was Rahul receiving intelligence inputs from the country’s intelligence agency? After all, he is just a Member of Parliament who has not taken any oath of office of secrecy". Modi put the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government in a tight spot by adding, "Since this shahzada (prince) has publicly claimed that he has specific information about such a sensitive matter, he needs to name those who have been contacted by the ISI".
In an obvious bid to placate Muslims who were bound to be hurt by Rahul's remark, the BJP star campaigner said, "If Rahul cannot name them and take suitable action, then he has no business accusing members of a particular community".Reminding the crowd of the vow Jhansi's Rani Lakshmi Bai had taken -- to not surrender to the British in 1857 -- Modi urged them to raise the slogan , “Beimano ko nahi denge, nahi denge; yeh apna desh hum beimano ko nahin denge (We will not hand over our country to the dishonest).”The crowd echoed the catchy slogan in a reverberating chorus.While hailing his party for making him the PM candidate, he said, “It is the greatness of my party that a man from a backward caste, who used to sell tea in trains during his childhood, has been selected as its candidate.”
He added, “I wish to tell you that you need not make me the prime minister; please make me a watchman and I can assure you that I will not allow anyone to pinch from the nation’s treasury.”He laid much emphasis on the oft-repeated talk of “special economic package” by the Congress as well as successive UP governments under the rule of the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party.After the crowd responded with a resounding 'no' to the query, "Have you received anything from the package," he pointedly accused the Congress, the BSP and the SP of pilfering from the so-called package."All that much hyped package has gone into the pockets of leaders of these three parties," he alleged.He also sought to draw a comparison between the two parts of Bundelkhand that fall in UP and in Madhya Pradesh."Proper use of the same package that went to the BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh portion of Bundelkhand has done wonders as agricultural production has gone up by three times, simply because there is an honest and dedicated BJP Chief Minister -- Shivraj Singh Chauhan -- ruling there," he pointed out. Terming the Congress, SP and BSP as a “troika”, he said, "They are experts in looting", and appealed to the crowd to "teach them all a lesson".
He said, "UP has tremendous potential but these three parties have never allowed it to grow -- it has been the victim of the Congress party’s arrogance, the SP’s indulgence in promoting its own family and the BSP’s personal aggrandisement"."Your fate will change only when you throw this troika out," said Modi.Using Gandhi’s recent reference to the assassination of his grandmother Indira Gandhi, he sought to train his guns at the Congress for its alleged role in the anti-Sikh riots in the aftermath of the former prime minister’s death.
"Rahul Gandhi has said that he was filled with anger after his grandmother Indira Gandhi’s assassination; sure enough, that anger of all Congressmen was reflected in the killing of thousands of Sikhs across the country. But let me remind the prince (Rahul) that no one has been punished for that until this day,” he told the gathering, in an implicit reference to the controversy about his alleged involvement in the post-Godhra riots.
7) Gorkhaland: GJM holds out olive branch to Mamata:
With the Gorkhaland agitation going slow following strong measures taken by the administration, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha on Friday held out an olive branch to the West Bengal government, saying it wanted to clear 'misunderstandings' with it.
"There is no bandh now. We want to seriously run Gorkha Territorial Administration (hill council) without any disturbance for which we need the state government's help. We want to sort out misunderstanding with them," Morcha leader Harka Bahadur Chhetri said here ahead of a GTA meeting with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Asked about the demand for Gorkhaland, he said, "Gorkhaland is a different chapter. Now we will discuss GTA. Our main goal is to provide facilities to the people by running the GTA well. If the people are satisfied (with GTA), what can we say?"
Chhetri said that certain issues which were unsolved and created problems in running the GTA would be discussed with the chief minister.
He said that the issue of the release of arrested GJM leaders would also be raised at the meeting.
Sports News This Week:
1) Sachin Tendulkar's last Ranji on Sunday in a corner of a Haryana field:
Sitting in the stands at the Chaudhary Bansi Lal Stadium, Ram Saran Malhotra, 65, stares wistfully at the square.
"A few years back that's where I used to grow sugarcane," he says. Shifting his gaze to the cover region he talks about his dhaan fields; pointing to mid wicket he remembers his chanaa saplings.
Being the owner of 28 acres of fertile agricultural land around the stadium would see him make the cut to Lahli's Fortune 50 any day but that's not the reason he is the most important man in this hamlet near Rohtak, which has a population of about 5,400.By virtue of being the one-time owner of the land that will host the Mumbai-Haryana Ranji Trophy game — more importantly the patch of land where Sachin Tendulkar will start his long walk to the exit — the old man in spotless white kurta-pyjama has got 50 VIP passes for the Sunday-to Wednesday game.That thick multi-coloured stack on which is printed 'Block A, Level 1' bulges in his kurta pocket, making him the envy of Lahli. It is understandable since the rest of the villagers will have to figure out a way to distribute 550 passes among themselves.Tendulkar's much anticipated last domestic game happens to be in their backyard and no one wants to miss it around here. The quaint outpost has to deal with complications it has never dreamed about.
"I am getting a headache, the phone hasn't stopped ringing. Just now my doctor called. How do I refuse him? I am an old man," says Malhotra, sipping tea after a hearty meal at the stadium.But there is someone else here who happens to be in a bigger fix. Sarpanch Bahadur Singh is the man given the responsibility of collecting the passes from the Haryana Cricket Association officials, carrying them to the village and the dreaded job of distributing them.
2) Cuttack ODI officially called off, India remain No.1 ODI side:
The fifth one-day International between India and Australia was officially called off on Saturday without a single ball being bowled after a formal inspection by the umpires this morning.
The Orissa Cricket Association had given up hopes on Friday only and announced the dates of ticket refunds as there was no let up from rain for five days because of a low pressure formation in the Andhra-Telengana region.
Umpires Nigel Llong, S Ravi and C Shamsuddin inspected the ground at 11am as there was some sunshine after five days of incessant rains but with the outfield still soggy and damp patches at several places, the duo officially abandoned the match."After inspection umpires in their report submitted that the outfield is not fit for play and no play is possible," OCA secretary Asirbad Behera said.Both the teams, who are put up in state capital Bhubaneswar, did not turn up at the venue as only the match officials came to make the announcement.Anticipating that the match would not be possible, no spectator turned up even as tickets for the 45,000-capacity stadium was almost sold out.This was the second consecutive match to be abandoned due to rain -- both in the East Zone -- as the Aussies continued to lead 2-1 in the seven-match bilateral series.
Winning the series has now become more difficult for India who have to win both the remaining matches in Nagpur (October 30) and Bangalore (November 2).
3) Terminated! Pune Warriors a history in the Indian Premier League:
The BCCI on Saturday terminated Pune Warriors from the IPL after the Sahara-owned franchise defaulted on its payments and refused to furnish the bank guarantee for the next season.
The decision was taken at the Cricket Board's all-powerful working committee meeting here, a top BCCI official told PTI.
The Pune Warriors have been on collision course with the BCCI after the Board encashed its bank guarantee due to non-payment of franchise fee.The Sahara group announced its pull-out from the IPL after that even though that is yet to be formally conveyed to the BCCI, which in turn wanted the team to furnish a bank guarantee of Rs 170.2 crore to remain a part of the league next year.The BCCI, after reportedly reminding Sahara about the payment several time, has now terminated it from the IPL.
IPL governing council members were also present in today's meeting where the Board issued a 30-day termination notice to Pune Warriors.Sahara has been demanding the completion of the arbitration proceedings on the issue of franchise fee, which, it feels, should be lowered since the BCCI did not deliver on its promised number of IPL matches for the team.
The arbitration process has not yet started because of the differences between BCCI and Sahara over the judges to be appointed for it.Pune, bought by Sahara for USD 370 million (approx Rs 1702 crore) in 2010, was the most expensive franchise on the IPL roster and its termination would cause substantial financial loss to the BCCI.
4) Organisers refuse to write off Indian Grand Prix future:
Indian Grand Prix organisers have expressed renewed optimism about the prospects of their Formula One event despite fears Sunday's race will be the last at the Buddh International circuit.
The race near New Delhi has been dropped from the 2014 calendar, even though there are two more years on the contract, with issues of taxation and finance seen as major roadblocks to any eventual return.
However race promoter Sameer Gaur and Indian motorsports chief Vicky Chandhok, who had sounded gloomy only a few days ago, both told Reuters on Thursday that there was a new determination to continue.
"Such a massive facility has been made here, an investment of more than $400 million in the circuit apart from the licence fee. We have a contract so I see no reason why we won't come back," said Gaur"About the organisers' finances, I would say we had to prove in 2011 our credibility of making the circuit and holding the race. We did that. So the credibility is already there and I am pretty sure that we shall be doing the races."As far as I am concerned the (2015) race is on," he added.Chandhok, father of former F1 racer Karun, said the turnaround had come after Formula One race director Charlie Whiting had carried out his circuit inspection this week and given it a ringing endorsement.
The last two days, he added, had seen a big change in attitude."There was a lot of scepticism until the day before yesterday," he said in his office at the circuit."But Sameer and I have been having a lot of chats on this and we even met with FOM (Formula One Management) this morning," he continued."He (Gaur) came by this morning and said 'Look, we are going to do 2015'. He said we've got to push 2015 and 2016 and he's even speaking of five years beyond."
5) Zlatan Ibrahimovic steals show as goals galore in Champions League:
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored four times - including a breathtaking 25-metre half-volley that capped a 19-minute hat-trick - as Paris St Germain humbled Anderlecht 5-0 in their Champions League Group C match on Wednesday.The Sweden international struck after 17, 22 and 36 minutes - the eighth quickest treble in Champions League history - and added PSG's fifth just past the hour to lead the French champions to victory at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium.Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani was also on the scoresheet in the second half as Laurent Blanc's team moved to nine points from three games, top of the group and within sight of the knockout stages.Anderlecht are bottom after three consecutive defeats.
Aguero brace saves City
Sergio Aguero's well-taken first-half double fired Manchester City to a 2-1 victory away at CSKA Moscow on Wednesday which left the Premier League side in a good position to reach the knockout stages for the first time.Aguero struck twice late in the first half after Zoran Tosic had put CSKA ahead in the 32nd minute. The Argentine quickly levelled with a low strike from David Silva's cross and then headed Alvaro Negredo's clever delivery past Igor Akinfeev. City wasted several chances to add to their lead after the break and almost paid the price in stoppage time when only a brilliant save from Joe Hart denied Keisuke Honda an equaliserCity moved on to six points from three games in Group D, level with Bayern Munich who host winless Viktoria Plzen in a later kickoff. CSKA are third on three points.
Manchester United went top of Champions League Group A on Wednesday thanks to an early own goal by Real Sociedad's Inigo Martinez that gave them a 1-0 home win to mask a host of missed opportunities.
Book Release This Week:
I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban:
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.
On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.
Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize.
I AM MALALA is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls' education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.
I AM MALALA will make you believe in the power of one person's voice to inspire change in the world.