Science News This Week:
1) Ancient Siberian genome reveals genetic origins of Native Americans:
The genome sequence of a 24,000-year-old Siberian individual has provided a key piece of the puzzle in the quest for Native American origins. The ancient Siberian demonstrates genomic signatures that are basal to present-day western Eurasians and close to modern Native Americans. This surprising finding has great consequences for our understanding of how and from where ancestral Native Americans descended, and also of the genetic landscape of Eurasia 24,000 years ago. The breakthrough is reported in this week's Nature (Advance Online Publication) by an international team of scientists, led by the Centre for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark (University of Copenhagen).
The search for Native American ancestors has been focused in northeastern Eurasia. In late 2009, researchers sampled at the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg the remains of a juvenile individual (MA-1) from the Upper Palaeolithic site of Mal'ta in south-central Siberia. The MA-1 individual dated to approximately 24,000 years ago. Now, the team reports genomic results from the MA-1 individual which unravel the origins of the First Americans – ancestors of modern-day Native Americans.
"Representing the oldest anatomically modern human genome reported thus far, the MA-1 individual has provided us with a unique window into the genetic landscape of Siberia some 24,000 years ago", says Dr. Maanasa Raghavan from the Centre for GeoGenetics and one of the lead authors of the study. "Interestingly, the MA-1 individual shows little to no genetic affinity to modern populations from the region from where he originated - south Siberia."
Instead, both the mitochondrial and nuclear genomes of MA-1 indicate that he was related to modern-day western Eurasians. This result paints a picture of Eurasia 24,000 years ago which is quite different from the present-day context. The genome of MA-1 indicates that prehistoric populations related to modern western Eurasians occupied a wider geographical range into northeast Eurasia than they do today
Dual ancestry of Native Americans
The most significant finding that the MA-1 genome reveals is its relation to modern Native Americans. This relative of present-day western Eurasians shows close affinity to modern Native Americans, but surprisingly not to East Asians who are regarded as being genetically closely related to Native Americans.Furthermore, the team finds evidence that this genetic affinity between MA-1 and Native Americans is mediated by a gene flow event from MA-1 into the First Americans, which can explain between 14-38% of the ancestry of modern Native Americans, with the remainder of the ancestry being derived from East Asians. Supported by numerous reasons against these signatures being caused by contamination from modern DNA sources or from post-Columbian admixture (post 1492 AD), the study concludes that two distinct Old World populations led to the formation of the First American gene pool: one related to modern-day East Asians, and the other a Siberian Upper Palaeolithic population related to modern-day western Eurasians."The result came as a complete surprise to us. Who would have thought that present-day Native Americans, who we learned in school derive from East Asians, share recent evolutionary history with contemporary western Eurasians? Even more intriguingly, this happened by gene flow from an ancient population that is so far represented only by the MA-1 individual living some 24,000 years ago", says Professor Eske Willerslev from the Centre for GeoGenetics who led the study.
Additionally, results from a second south-central Siberian from Afontova Gora-2 site are presented in order to address human occupation of the region during and after the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM; ca. 26,000 to 19,000 years ago), a climatically cold period when glacial ice sheets extended to their maximum range. At approximately 17,000 years ago, this post-LGM individual demonstrates similar genomic signatures as MA-1, with close affinity to modern western Eurasians and Native Americans and none to present-day East Asians. This result indicates that genetic continuity persisted in south-central Siberia throughout this climatically harsh period, which is a significant consideration for the peopling of Beringia, and eventually the Americas some 15,000 years ago.
Dr. Pontus Skoglund from Uppsala University, and one of the lead authors of the study, explains, "Most scientists have believed that Native American lineages go back about 14,000 years ago, when the first people crossed Beringia into the New World. Our results provide direct evidence that some of the ancestry that characterizes Native Americans is at least 10,000 years older than that, and was already present in Siberia before the last Ice Age."
Professor Kelly Graf from the Center for the Study of the First Americans (Texas A&M University), who together with Professor Willerslev did the sampling, adds, "Our findings are significant at two levels. First, it shows that Upper Paleolithic Siberians came from a cosmopolitan population of early modern humans that spread out of Africa to Europe and Central and South Asia. Second, Paleoindian skeletons with phenotypic traits atypical of modern-day Native Americans can be explained as having a direct historical connection to Upper Paleolithic Siberia.As such, results from this study contribute a major leap forward for resolving the peopling of the Americas.
First Americans descended from the meeting and admixture of at least two populations, of which one is related to contemporary East Asians and the other to present-day western Eurasians.These findings may explain the presence of mitochondrial lineage X in Native Americans.
The presence of a population related to western Eurasians further into northeast Eurasia provides a more likely explanation for the presence of non-East Asian cranial characteristics in the First Americans, rather than the Solutrean hypothesis that proposes an Atlantic route from Iberia.
Genetic continuity in south-central Siberia before and after the LGM provides evidence for the presence of humans in the region throughout this cold phase, which is of consequence to population movements into Beringia and ultimately the Americas around 15,000 years ago.
2) Team uncovers secrets of Mars' birth from unique meteorite
As NASA prepares to launch a new Martian probe, a Florida State University scientist has uncovered what may be the first recognized example of ancient Martian crust.
The work of Munir Humayun—a professor in FSU's Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science and a researcher at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (MagLab)—is based on an analysis of a 4.4 billion-year-old Martian meteorite that was unearthed by Bedouin tribesmen in the Sahara desert. The rock (NWA 7533) may be the first recognized sample of ancient Martian crust and holds a wealth of information about the origin and age of the Red Planet's crust.
Humayun's groundbreaking discoveries about the crust and what it reveals about the Red Planet's origins will be published in the journal Nature.In order to detect minute amounts of chemicals in this meteorite, Humayun and his collaborators performed complex analysis on the meteorite using an array of highly sophisticated mass spectrometers in the MagLab's geochemistry department. High concentrations of trace metals such as iridium, an element that indicates meteoritic bombardment, showed that this meteorite came from the elusive cratered area of Mars' southern highlands."This cratered terrain has been long thought to hold the keys to Mars' birth and early childhood," Humayun said.While craters cover more than half of Mars, this is the first meteoric sample to come from this area and the first time researchers are able to understand Mars' early crustal growth.Using the chemical information found in pieces of soil contained in the meteorite, the researchers were able to calculate the thickness of Mars' crust. Their calculation aligned with estimates from independent spacecraft measurements and confirms that Mars did not experience a giant impact that melted the entire planet in its early history.Using a powerful microprobe at Curtin University in Perth, Australia, the team dated special crystals within the meteorite—called zircons—at an astounding 4.4 billion years old.
"This date is about 100 million years after the first dust condensed in the solar system," Humayun said. "We now know that Mars had a crust within the first 100 million years of the start of planet building, and that Mars' crust formed concurrently with the oldest crusts on Earth and the Moon."Humayun and his collaborators hypothesize that these trailblazing discoveries are just the tip of the iceberg of what continued research on this unique meteorite will uncover. Further studies may reveal more clues about the impact history of Mars, the nature of Martian zircons and the makeup of the earliest sediments on the Red Planet.Humayun's international team of collaborators include curator of meteorites Brigitte Zanda with the National Museum of Natural History (the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle) in Paris; A. Nemchin, M. Grange and A. Kennedy with Curtin University's Department of Applied Geology in Perth, Australia; and scientists R.H. Hewins, J.P. Lorand, C. Göpel, C. Fieni, S. Pont and D. Deldicque.
3) High-energy neutrinos ensnared from beyond the solar system :
Speedy particles may point to gargantuan black holes or cataclysmic explosions. Ghostly high-energy particles from beyond the solar system have been snagged for the first time by a giant experiment buried under Antarctic ice. The sightings of the particles, called neutrinos, represent a major step toward identifying mysterious astrophysical phenomena that hurl subatomic particles across the universe at extraordinary speeds.
Neutrinos are an intriguing tool for exploring the cosmos. The wispy particles have no charge and rarely interact with matter, allowing astronomers to trace a straight path back to their source. However, neutrinos’ inertness also makes them hard to detect. Scientists are confident that alien neutrinos packing more energy than particles from any human-made accelerator are constantly pelting Earth, perhaps pointing to some of the universe’s most violent objects. But until now researchers had managed to detect only relatively puny neutrinos streaming from the atmosphere, the sun and a 1987 supernova.
4) Invisibility cloaks could slim down with active approach:
A new light-canceling technique could help scientists make thin invisibility cloaks that block a large range of wavelengths.
The new technique is “a smart engineering trick” that is “quite different from the way cloaking has been approached so far,” says Andrea Alù, a physicist at the University of Texas at Austin.
Nearly all invisibility cloaks use light-manipulating compounds called metamaterials to bend light around an object, rendering the object transparent. Such technology has become increasingly sophisticated since it was introduced in 2006. But most metamaterial cloaks are still impractically bulky or limited to narrow wavelength ranges and physical configurations.
So University of Toronto electrical engineers George Eleftheriades and Michael Selvanayagam tried what they call an active approach to cloaking. They surrounded an aluminum cylinder roughly 11 centimeters in diameter and 4 centimeters tall with small loop antennas that broadcast microwave radiation. The scientists adjusted the currents running through the antennas to emit microwaves with just the right size and timing to cancel out radiation that scattered off the cylinder. The result, the researchers report November 12 in Physical Review X, was a cylinder invisible to microwave radiation. By changing the antennas’ currents, the researchers could alter the apparent size of the cylinder or make it appear to move.
Eleftheriades says the antennas could be adapted to block visible light just as they do with microwave frequencies. In addition, he hopes to add sensors that measure the scattered light and automatically set the currents in the antennas to broadcast canceling radiation.
Alù thinks the new method could disguise larger objects than has been possible with most of the previous cloaking approaches. But he notes that because tuning the antennas takes time, the technique would work best for hiding stationary objects.
5) Oldest Large Body of Ancient Seawater Identified Under Chesapeake Bay:
USGS scientists have determined that high-salinity groundwater found more than 1,000 meters (0.6 mi.) deep under the Chesapeake Bay is actually remnant water from the Early Cretaceous North Atlantic Sea and is probably 100-145 million years old. This is the oldest sizeable body of seawater to be identified worldwide. Twice as salty as modern seawater, the ancient seawater was preserved like a prehistoric fly in amber, partly by the aid of the impact of a massive comet or meteorite that struck the area about 35 million years ago, creating Chesapeake Bay.
"Previous evidence for temperature and salinity levels of geologic-era oceans around the globe have been estimated indirectly from various types of evidence in deep sediment cores," said Ward Sanford, a USGS research hydrologist and lead author of the investigation. "In contrast, our study identifies ancient seawater that remains in place in its geologic setting, enabling us to provide a direct estimate of its age and salinity."
The largest crater discovered in the United States, the Chesapeake Bay impact crater is one of only a few oceanic impact craters that have been documented worldwide.
About 35 million years ago a huge rock or chunk of ice traveling through space blasted a 56-mile-wide hole in the shallow ocean floor near what is now the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. The force of the impact ejected enormous amounts of debris into the atmosphere and spawned a train of gigantic tsunamis that probably reached as far as the Blue Ridge Mountains, more than 110 miles away.
The impact of the comet or meteorite would have deformed and broken up the existing arrangement of aquifers (water-bearing rocks) and confining units (layers of rock that restrict the flow of groundwater). Virginia's "inland saltwater wedge" is a well-known phenomenon that is thought to be related to the impact crater. The outer rim of the crater appears to coincide with the boundary separating salty and fresh groundwater.
"We knew from previous observations that there is deep groundwater in quite a few areas in the Atlantic Coastal Plain around the Chesapeake Bay that have salinities higher than seawater," said Jerad Bales, acting USGS Associate Director for Water. "Various theories related to the crater impact have been developed to explain the origin of this high salinity. But, up to this point, no one thought that this was North Atlantic Ocean water that had essentially been in place for about 100 million years."
"This study gives us confidence that we are working directly with seawater that dates far back in Earth's history," Bales continued. "The study also has heightened our understanding of the geologic context of the Chesapeake Bay region as it relates to improving our understanding of hydrology in the region."
6) Black Hole Birth Captured: Biggest, Brightest to Happen in at Least 20 Years:
Intelligent telescopes designed by Los Alamos National Laboratory got a front row seat recently for an unusual birth.
"Los Alamos' RAPTOR telescopes in New Mexico and Hawaii received a very bright cosmic birth announcement for a black hole on April 27," said astrophysicist Tom Vestrand, lead author of a paper appearing today in the journal Science that highlights the unusual event.
"This was the burst of the century," said Los Alamos co-author James Wren. "It's the biggest, brightest one to happen in at least 20 years, and maybe even longer than that."
The RAPTOR (RAPid Telescopes for Optical Response) system is a network of small robotic observatories that scan the skies for optical anomalies such as flashes emanating from a star in its death throes as it collapses and becomes a black hole -- an object so dense that not even light can escape its gravity field. This birth announcement arrived from the constellation Leo in the form of an exceptionally bright flash of visible light that accompanied a powerful burst of cosmic gamma-ray emissions.
What made such an extremely rare event even more spectacular for scientists, however, is that, in addition to the RAPTOR sighting, it was witnessed by an armada of instruments -- including gamma-ray and X-ray detectors aboard NASA's Fermi, NuSTAR and Swift satellites. While the NASA instruments recorded some of the highest-energy gamma-ray bursts ever measured from such an event, RAPTOR noticed that the massive and violent transformation of a star into a black hole yielded a lingering "afterglow" that faded in lock-step with the highest energy gamma-rays."This afterglow is interesting to see," said paper co-author Przemek Wozniak of Los Alamos's Intelligence and Space Research Division. "We normally see a flash associated with the beginning of an event, analogous to the bright flash that you would see coinciding with the explosion of a firecracker. This afterglow may be somewhat analogous to the embers that you might be able to see lingering after your firecracker has exploded. It is the link between the optical phenomenon and the gamma-rays that we haven't seen before, and that's what makes this display extremely exciting."All things considered, the event was among the brightest and most energetic of its type ever witnessed.
"This was a Rosetta-Stone event that illuminates so many things -- literally," Vestrand said. "We were very fortunate to have all of the NASA and ground-based instruments seeing it at the same time. We had all the assets in place to collect a very detailed data set. These are data that astrophysicists will be looking at for a long time to come because we have a detailed record of the event as it unfolded."Already the event, labeled GRB 130427A by astrophysicists, is testing some long-held assumptions about the nature of the universe. For example, scientists recorded energy levels for gamma rays that are higher than what some researchers thought theoretically possible. This revelation may require physicists to modify existing theories about radiation. No doubt, the data set could yield more surprises in the future, Vestrand said.
Movie Release This Week:
The film begins as Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) has returned home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark (Hutcherson). Winning means that they must turn around and leave their family and close friends, embarking on a "Victor's Tour" of the districts. Along the way Katniss senses that a rebellion is simmering, but the Capitol is still very much in control as President Snow (Sutherland) prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games, The Quarter Quell - a competition that could change Panem forever.
From DreamWorks Pictures comes “Delivery Man”, the story of affable underachiever David Wozniak, whose mundane life is turned upside down when he finds out that he fathered 533 children through sperm donations he made twenty years earlier. In debt to the mob, rejected by his pregnant girlfriend, things couldn’t look worse for David when he is hit with a lawsuit from 142 of the 533 twenty-somethings who want to know the identity of the donor. As David struggles to decide whether or not he should reveal his true identity, he embarks on a journey that leads him to discover not only his true self but the father he could become as well.
Deep in the heart of the English countryside lies the enchanting village of Gladbury. Legend has it every twenty-five years an angel visits the village candlemaker and touches a single candle. Whoever lights the Christmas Candle receives a miracle on Christmas Eve. But in 1890, at the dawn of the electric age, this centuries old legend may come to an end.
The world's greatest pinup model and cult icon, Bettie Page, recounts the true story of how her free expression overcame government witch-hunts to help launch America's sexual revolution.
Traces the unconventional upbringing of filmmaker Jung Henin, one of thousands of Korean children adopted by Western families after the end of the Korean War. It is the story of a boy stranded between two cultures. Sepia-toned animated vignettes – some humorous and some poetic – track Jung from the day he first meets his new blond siblings, through elementary school, and into his teenage years, when his emerging sense of identity begins to create fissures at home and ignite the latent biases of his adoptive parents. The filmmaker tells his story using his own animation intercut with snippets of super-8 family footage and archival film. The result is a memoir like no other: clear-eyed and unflinching, humorous and wry, and above all, inspiring in the capacity of the human heart.
Political news of this week:
1) Tejpal faces ARREST after being booked on rape charge:
Tehelka Editor Tarun Tejpal faces possible arrest after Goa police booked him on rape charge following an allegation by a colleague that he sexually assaulted her during an event a fortnight ago.A special investigating team of the Goa crime branch will visit Delhi to question Tejpal and police are not ruling out his arrest."An FIR has been filed on charges of rape and outraging of modesty (against Tejpal). This is one part of the process of investigation and law will take its own course," Director General of Police Kishan Kumar said in Panaji.The charges relate to Sections 376 (rape), 376 (2) (rape by a person of a woman in his custody taking advantage of his official position) and 354 (outraging modesty) of the Indian Penal Code, he said.Asked whether Tejpal would be arrested, the DGP said, "As I told you, this is a matter of investigation. Let us leave it to investigating officers. It is a process under law which has logical consequences. I cannot say how the IO will do."Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar made it clear that his government will show "no tolerance for this type of crime and we should crack down on such high-profile crimes".He said Goa police has not received any response from Tehelka to the letter sent to it seeking details of the alleged incident."I am not saying someone is guilty but the girl's email (to her office) is explicit," he said and commended her for showing the courage to report the incident.
While Tejpal issued a statement offering to extend the "fullest cooperation" to the police and all other authorities, the magazine's Managing Editor Shoma Chaudhury said they would not go to police on the issue as it was for the victim to decide on it.
Facing allegations that Tehelka was indulging in a cover-up, Chaudhury defended her actions in the matter, saying she had confronted Tejpal about the incident "very, very angrily", after which he stepped down from his post for six months and apologised to the victim.
"The right to go to police is hers (victim's). I am not going to the police on my own," she said, adding she will cooperate in the probe."If it is hard for me to cooperate, then I will step down," Chaudhury said.She came under a fresh attack when she referred to her conversation with Tejpal, who, she said, has a "different version" of the incident, which she claimed to have overruled.
"I do feel a sense of outrage and betrayal but he has a different version," she said.Asked if Tehelka. which claims to have set high standards via its investigative reports, was following double standards in this case, Chaudhury said a three-member committee has been set up which will hear both the sides.
"You are jumping to conclusions that it is sexual assault and rape," she shot back.Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party today said suggestions that the victim can opt for an in-house inquiry by Tehelka and not go for a criminal probe is an "accused-friendly" approach and insisted that the two options should complement each other, instead of being alternatives.Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley issued a statement on the issue and emphasised that everybody should encourage victims to depose "truly and faithfully" as punishing an offender acts as a deterrent in the larger interest of society.Referring to debates in various news channels on the Tejpal issue, Jaitley said "regretfully, some participants provided an escape route for the accused. They argued that the victim has a freedom of choice whether to pursue her complaint before the in-house inquiry or pursue the criminal investigation."
The eminent lawyer claimed a criminal offence is not just a crime against a victim but also a crime against society."This is precisely why the State pursues a criminal action. The public exchequer pays for it. There is a larger public interest in punishing a criminal. A departmental or an in-house inquiry and a criminal trial complement each other. They are not alternatives," Jaitley said
2) FIR against IM cadre for Patna, Bodh Gaya blasts:
An FIR has been registered by the Bihar police against two Indian Mujahideen operatives Tahseen Akhtar and Haider Ali, besides some unnamed persons in connection with the serial bomb blasts at Patna and Bodh Gaya and illegal transaction of money having links with Pakistan.
The FIR was lodged at Gandhi Maidan police station on Thursday, Station House Officer Raj Bindu Prasad said on Friday. The present FIR is in addition to two other FIRs registered in connection with the multiple explosions during the rally of BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi with Gandhi Maidan police station and GRP Patna.
Tahseen Akhtar, alias Monu, considered to be the "mastermind" of both the Patna blasts on October 27 and Bodh Gaya blast on July 7 and Ali were absconding.
Thursday's FIR was lodged after revelation of transaction of huge amount of money having Pakistan-links which was recently busted in Lakhisarai district, the police said. A property attachment notice has been issued against Monu at his parental home at Maniyari in Samastipur district.
Ali, who hails from Madanpur in Aurangabad district, is also a top level IM operative.The Bihar police recently busted a racket involved in illegal transaction of money having Pakistan link at Lakhisarai. Four persons from Lakhisarai were been arrested in this connection along with a woman Ayesha Banu, the "kingpin" of the money transaction racket and her husband Zubair Hussain from Mangalore.
3) High alert in AP as cyclone 'Helen' nears the coast:
A high alert has been sounded in four coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh as cyclonic storm 'Helen' is expected to cross Bay of Bengal and make a landfall close to Machilipatnam in Krishna district on Friday afternoon.
Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy reviewed the situation with Chief Secretary P K Mohanty this morning and asked the official machinery to be fully geared up to evacuate people from low-lying areas to prevent casualties.
The chief minister spoke to collectors of East Godavari, West Godavari, Krishna and Guntur districts over phone and asked to them open relief camps wherever required and evacuate people to safety.He wanted the district administrations to co-ordinate with National Disaster Response Force, police and other departments in the rescue and relief operations.
Meanwhile, the Indian Coast Guard has despatched its ship Avantibai to rescue 20 fishermen from East Godavari district trapped in the rough sea.A Chetak helicopter of the Navy is also being pressed into service for the rescue operation, the Navy informed the general administration department in Hyderabad."Our Chetak embarked Vishwast for strategic launch. We also requested for twin-engine helicopter launch," the Navy informed the GAD.
4) Mars orbiter's first ever image of earth:
The Indian Space Research Organisation has released the first ever image of the earth taken by the country’s Mars Orbiter Spacecraft.
This image was taken on November 19 at 1350 hours using the Mars Colour Camera from a height of almost 70,000 km above earth and has a spatial resolution of 3.5 km.
In a post on social networking website Facebook, ISRO said: “In the process of testing our payloads, we turned the Mars Colour Camera towards the earth and switched it on, and here is the first ever image. We are certain we are going to get some great shots in the orbit of Mars.”
The picture has captured the Indian subcontinent and parts of Africa, especially Cyclone Helen, hovering off the Andhra Pradesh coast.The Mars Orbiter Mission is aimed at establishing India's capability to reach the Red Planet. It focuses on looking for the presence of methane, an indicator of life on the planet.
The spacecraft would go around the Earth for 25 days before the ISRO plans to do trans-Mars injection on December 1, enabling it to undertake the long voyage towards Mars.In its 300-day, 780-million-kilometre journey, the spacecraft will orbit Mars and survey its geology and atmosphere. The satellite will enter the Mars orbit in September 2014.
5) Why the Indian Mujahideen is a step ahead of security agencies:
The Indian Mujahideen is becoming more dangerous and can strike at short notice. Also the outfit is less dependent on Pakistan support and control lies totally within India, say sources. Vicky Nanjappa reportsThe Indian Mujahideen can strike at short notice, warned the Centre on Thursday. The Patna blasts, which were planned and executed in less than 20 days, are an indicator.
Interrogation of several Indian Mujahideen operatives including Yasin Bhatkal paints a chilling picture of what the homegrown outfit is capable of.
Highly ambitious, the IM today can carry out an attack anywhere at will. A reign of chaos is what they propose and for this they are ready to experiment. That explains a series of low intensity blasts like the ones in Patna and Bodh Gaya, say investigators. “Recently, they have been planting more than six bombs. The idea is to carry out serial blasts. For this purpose, smaller bombs have been prepared so that the foot soldiers can carry more of them,” said an investigation officer.
“The bigger bombs cause a bigger impact in terms of death. But when six bombs go off at short intervals they tend to create panic,” he said. Investigators admit that stopping the IM is an uphill task. The arrest of its co-founder Yasin Bhatkal or the busting of the Darbhanga module does not seem to deter them. In fact, it is only post-Bhatkal’s arrest that the outfit carried out an attack with a high-profile target -- Narendra Modi -- in mind. “The IM today has become a bloodhound without a leash. They do subscribe to the instructions of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba or the Inter-Services Intelligence, but the control is entirely in India. They are free to unleash attacks without a go ahead from their bosses in Pakistan,” said a National Investigation Agency official probing IM’s activities. “The intercepts between the IM and the ISI recently have been few and in between. It’s a well thought of ploy. At the behest of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the IM continues attacks, but this without fingers being pointed at them,” he added.
No longer does IM send its recruits to Pakistan to train in assembling explosives. Top operatives like Bhatkal, Assadullah Akthar and Tehsin Akhtar have passed on their expertise to newer recruits. “This has ended one more link to Pakistan,” the official pointed out. The bigger concern of investigators is IM’s bomb factory. Operatives ensure that the material is not sourced from one place. For the Patna blasts, the ammonium nitrate came from Andhra Pradesh and the timers from Rajasthan.When it comes to bomb-making the IM is experimental. While ammonium nitrate is always used in the composition, the packaging often changes. Pressure cookers, suitcases, milk cans have been used to place bombs; even pipe bombs have been popular. The timers too have evolved. Earlier, mobile phones were used, but Bhatkal realised that they could be easily tracked and did away with the practice. The classic clock timer was a safer bet, they realised. Before his arrest Bhatkal is said to have experimented with the digital timer.
From Babri to Modi
The outfit may have seen a lot of change in its leadership and modus operandi recently, but its ideology remains the same. It is always looking for young impressionable men whom they can recruit in the outfit. The social media has been a key tool for the IM to spread its words. They use the Babri Masjid demolition or the Godhra riots to instill hatred among the youths. Also, it taps youth who are keen to make a quick buck. “The outfit keeps improvising and it is not the job of the NIA alone to track them. A lot of cooperation is required from state level and Intelligence Bureau officials to be a step ahead of them,” an investigating agency officer said.
6) 24 gold bars found in aircraft toilet in Kolkata:
Cleaners working on a commercial plane in Kolkata have found 24 gold bars worth more than $1 million stuffed into a toilet compartment, officials said on Wednesday.
India, which rivals China as the world's biggest gold consumer, has witnessed a spike in smuggling after import duties were hiked three times this year to try to dampen demand for the precious metal. The plane belonging to Jet Airways was being cleaned at Kolkata airport on Tuesday after a trip from Patna. It had previously been flying on international routes.
"The cleaning staff of the airport were going though their routine duties and found two bags in the toilets of the plane," director of the airport B P Mishra told AFP.
The one-kilogram gold bars "have not been claimed by anyone. No arrest has been made as yet".Senior customs official R S Meena estimated the value of the haul at about 70 million rupees, or $1.1 million.
7) CNR Rao first Indian elected to Chinese Academy of Science:
Eminent Scientist and Bharat Ratna awardee Prof C N R Rao has become the first Indian scientist to be elected as honorary foreign member of Chinese Academy of Science.
"Prof Rao is the first Indian Scientist to be elected to this prestigious academy,prestigious academy which consists of several Nobel laureates and eminent scientists of the world," Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, of which Rao is a founder and honorary President, said.
Stating that Rao, awarded the Bharat Ratna last week, was elected by CAS at its General Assembly held on November 4, the Centre said in a release that the academy had bestowed on him the prestigious Award for International Scientific Cooperation in January 2012.
It said Rao has been elected to almost all scientific academies of the world including The Royal Society-London, ationalAcademy of Science-USA, Pontifical Academy of Science, JapanAcademy and RoyalSpanishAcademy of Sciences, among others.
He has also been conferred 60 Honoris Causa (Honorary Doctorates) by various universities across the globe, it added.
Sports news this week:
1) Why old buddy Vinod Kambli wasn't at Sachin Tendulkar's post-retirement party:
As Sachin Tendulkar was throwing a post-retirement party on Monday for his friends and teammates, including former players, one name absent from the list of nearly 450 invitees was old friend Vinod Kambli.
This wasn't an oversight, and Kambli confirmed that it had been seven years since they had spoken to each other. "Your question to me is whether Sachin and I are on talking terms. The answer is 'no'. We haven't been talking for the last seven years, but on occasions we do wish each other via text," Kambli told The Indian Express.
Kambli said that only Tendulkar can give the reason for not keeping in touch with his former Sharadashram mate."A lot of people and our fans are asking me as to why he didn't mention my name in his farewell speech and why wasn't I invited for the party, which close friends and associates who played an important role in his career were a part of," he said.
In his speech at the Wankhede, Tendulkar thanked his friends but didn't name anyone in particular.Kambli said he was hurt because Tendulkar didn't mention his name in the farewell speech.
"Him not mentioning me in his farewell speech or not giving me an invitation though I've been a part of his life since he was 10 years old. Yes, I won't deny the fact that it did hurt me a lot because he forgot to mention that. The world record partnership was a turning point of our career, without each other's contribution, I wouldn't be who I am, and he wouldn't be our great legend," Kambli said."But still it won't make my love less for him in any way, irrespective of whether he considers me his friend or not... There are too many precious memories to cherish and remember throughout life," Kambli added. However, Kambli believes that a patch-up is unlikely to happen soon. "I don't see a reunion happening between us anytime soon, however, when he does decide to call me, I will always be there for him."
2) Viswanathan Anand's knightmare, Magnus Carlsen's dream:
"You come at the king, you best not miss" – Omar Little, The Wire
Desperate men don't bother with niceties, and at the start of the ninth game, Viswanathan Anand was a very desperate man. Needing two wins in the last four games to square the match, Anand played like he would not settle for anything less than checkmating Magnus Carlsen.
Gathering his king side pawns, Anand hurled them against the castled black king.
Of course, you do not expect the World No. 1 to kick back and watch as his house burns down. Carlsen responded by rolling his queen side pawns down the board. And so, the sides lined up, each with a simple, brutal idea in mind. If Carlsen broke through, his pawn would promote to a queen, handing him a humongous material advantage. If Anand broke through, Carlsen's king would be checkmated, and the game would be over despite the multiple queens on the Norwegian's side.
The game was seemingly destined for a result, but right through the game, it was unclear with whom exactly the advantage lay, if indeed there was an advantage at all. In fact, ignoring mounting evidence of an imminent showdown, chess engines suggested the position was near equal.
On the board, Carlsen's b pawn continued on a lone and resolute march. It was now just a square away from queening. Anand calmly ignored that side of the board and had his queen and rook joined his pawns in attack. He was threatening checkmate in a move or two.
A 40-minute move
On the brink of resolution, there was even a Hollywood pause. Anand had a 40-minute think and adding to the tension, time was becoming a factor. (Anand would be asked about this in the press conference. "Did you try to calculate all the complicated variations till the end somehow, and was it possible?" "No I was thinking what to eat tonight," he dead panned as a very slow grin spread across Carlsen's face.)
Through all this, there was a queasy feeling among Anand's fans. It was understandable that the defending champion's approach would be borderline reckless but it seemed a little worrisome that Carlsen would go down the same road. Did he know something that Anand did not? Also, there was the computer's refusal to acknowledge any one side's domination. Most online engines, Houdini, Stockfish and Komodo among them, seemed to be of the opinion that the attacks, primitive and vigorous as they were, could cancel each other out.
Back in the game, Anand allowed Carlsen's pawn to queen and suddenly there were three queens on the board. The pawn graduated to a queen with check, but there wouldn't be a series of attacks on Anand's king. The champion's idea was to block the checks out and continue with his attack. Carlsen's plan was to use his promoted queen as a kind of a suicide bomber to blow a hole through white's attack.
Suddenly, Anand found that black's defences would hold, at least for a little longer than he had assumed they would. The 'killer pass' just would not materialise. But somehow, somewhere, an idea suggested itself to him. "Thing is I had been calculating for 40 minutes (a couple of moves back) but I couldn't see a way forward. But then I suddenly saw that the knight is coming to e7 and for a moment I got excited. I had missed that the knight had just moved and wasn't covering h4 anymore. As soon as I put the knight on f1 I knew what I had done," he later explained.
What he had done was undo all the good work in a single move and the uneasiness of his fans would turn to horror. The knight that Anand wanted to re-route to deliver the killer blow was covering an important square. When it came back to block the check, black's promoted queen could take out white's rook and with it Anand's attack. After the oversight, Carlsen's king would be safe and what was more, he would be up by a lot of material. Anand resigned immediately after the blunder.
With just three games left, Carlsen now needs just a draw to be crowned the youngest World Champion at 22, a record he will share with Garry Kasparov. Anand, though, would have to be satisfied that he gave it his all, at least in this game. "I was glad I did it (playing an attacking game). I still think this was the right choice and there were no regrets about that," he said.
3) Magnus Carlsen dethrones Viswanathan Anand as world chess champion:
Magnus Carlsen got the required half-a-point after the tenth game of the world chess championship against Viswanathan Anand ended in a draw. Anand had held the world crown since 2007. Magnus Carlsen is the new world chess champion. After game No. 10 of the world championship ended in a draw in Chennai on Friday, the 22-year-old Norwegian got the required half-a-point needed to reach 6.5 points and dethrone India's super Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand. The world championship is a 12-game affair over 20 days and the first to reach 6.5 points wins the series. This is Carlsen's maiden title.
After suffering his third loss in the ninth game on Thursday, Anand (3 points) needed three wins in-a-row to force the tie-breaker, but it was not to be. Anand played with Black on Friday and started on an aggressive note in a bid to crash through Carlsen's defenses. But world No. 1 Carlsen defended well in a whirlwind first hour that saw the players making 21 moves each. The second hour saw just seven moves as both players backed their chances to win a full point.
The first time control was reached after 41 moves as a gritty Anand gave it all but Carlsen seemed to be in a slightly better position. All three results looked a possibility in a long and gripping endgame where Carlsen looked desperate for a win. The draw was finally agreed after 65 moves after an almost a five-hour battle. The final scoreline 6.5-3.5 in Carlsen's favour.
The Norwegian sensation needed a draw after scoring his third win over reigning champion Anand on Thursday. Carlsen, the current world number one, won the crucial ninth game after Anand resigned following an engrossing 56-move match that lasted three hours and 21 minutes. Carlsen had also won the fifth and sixth games and drawn the other six.
Anand, who at 43 is 21 years older than his rival, has held the world crown since 2007. On Thursday, he conceded it will need a miraculous turnaround to keep his chances alive. "I need three wins in-a-row," he said. "I can try but the situation does not look very good."
For more than three years, Carlsen has been the uncrowned king of chess. The Norwegian has been the No. 1 player in the world almost continuously since January 2010. Carlsen, playing with white pieces on Friday, was definitely in an advantageous position against Anand, who has been rather subdued in this championship.Prominent quotes after the match:
Magnus Carlsen - "Vishy has been the world champion for so long. The greatest. Very happy to get the better of him.
I would like to take some responsibility for Anand's mistakes. That's for sure.People crack under pressure in world championships. History has shown that.
I didn't feel too much of psychological warfare. All matches were decided on the board.This win will be very good for chess in Norway. The matches were shown on TV. That's good."
Viswanathan Anand - "I congratulate Carlsen. He poked me into making mistakes.The fifth game was a heavy blow. It got worse and worse. I guess when it rains, it pours.
I was just trying to keep playing and then started making mistakes. Made blunders."
4) Saina Nehwal, Ajay Jayaram lose; India's campaign over in Hong Kong:
Saina Nehwal's poor run continued this season as she crashed out of the women's singles competition after suffering a narrow defeat against Porntip Buranaprasertsuk of Thailand in the second round of the Hong Kong Super Series badminton tournament in Kowloon here today.
Seventh seed Saina, who improved a rung in the world rankings today to be sixth, lost 17-21 21-9 15-21 to Porntip, who jumped three places to world number 10, at the Hong Kong Coliseum here.
Ajay Jayaram's campaign in the men's singles competition also came to an end after he went down 18-21 12-21 to Sony Dwi Kuncoro of Indonesia in a 36-minute match.
Olympic bronze medallist, Saina, held a 6-0 record against the Thai girl before the match but it counted for little during the 50-minute battle between the two shuttlers.
Saina tried to dominate the nets but Porntip didn't give her too many opportunities. She had all the answers to Saina's smashes, four more than the Indian.
The first game saw Porntip breaking free at 10-10 after Saina had opened up a 7-4 early lead. The Thai girl was better prepared for the battle as she registered five straight points to create a huge gap between her and Saina and then kept her nose ahead to lead 1-0.
In the second game, Saina came back firing on all cylinders and after being locked 4-4 early on, dominated the proceedings completely, accumulating points at will. She reached 10-4 and then moved to 14-6 as Porntip's game crumbled.
In the decider, however, Porntip got her act together and led 3-0 initially. Saina could pose a fight only for the next two points but after that the Thai girl managed to maintain a distance and soon shut the door on the Indian.Plagued by injuries and inconsistent form, Saina has endured the worst season of her career as she has so far failed to win a single title this year.
5) That winning habit: India continue dominance over Windies in ODIs too:
Towards the end of the floodlit night, about 60,000 fans at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium chanted 'Sachiiin, Sachiiin' as the Indian team put the finishing touches on their six-wicket win. In spite of the popular sentiment prevailing at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the air should have also resounded with the chorus of 'Viraaat, Viraaat' and 'Rohiiit, Rohiiit'. The spectators who got to watch this domineering show by the Indian team could have also celebrated the success of the spinners who set up this cakewalk.
Chasing 212 to win, India polished off the target in 35.2 overs, losing just four wickets, to go one-up in the three-match series. If not for late jitters — when Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina (0) — were dismissed in quick succession, the victory would have been even more emphatic.For a side that has made a habit of posting or chasing down 300-plus totals, the paltry 211 that West Indies posted in 48.5 overs, wasn't going to pose a threat.
And a 133-run partnership between Rohit Sharma (72) and Kohli (86) for the second wicket ensured that the job was done without too much of a fuss.A little more discretion from Rohit could have given him a fourth consecutive international hundred. Maybe he became a tad overconfident as he tried to whack a short ball from Ravi Rampaul without being bothered to roll his wrists. Lendl Simmons took a simple catch at deep mid-wicket.
Kohli missed out on his 18th ODI hundred, though he joined Vivian Richards to be the fastest (114 innings) to reach 5,000 runs in this format. Once again, the two young stars of Indian cricket shone bright and complemented each other.Kohli took the attack to the West Indies bowlers after Shikhar Dhawan (5) was caught behind to a Jason Holder delivery that shaped away in the fourth over. But Kohli quelled the threat that emerged from the two-metre tall West Indies fast bowler with an effortless boundary through the covers and did the bulk of the scoring till spin was introduced in the 11th over.
Rohit takes on Narine
Once Sunil Narine came on, Rohit took charge and ensured that the off spinner didn't get the time to settle down. A flurry of boundaries came from his bat and India were on course for a win.Narine would be disappointed to return with the figures of 1 for 57 in his 10 overs on a pitch that had plenty of cracks.This 22-yard strip, however, came as a welcome change for the Indian bowlers who bled profusely during the series against Australia. It was slow, low and offered decent turn, and Ravindra Jadeja, part-time off-spinner Suresh Raina and Ravichandran Ashwin shared eight wickets between them.
Dwayne Bravo won the toss but things started off badly for his team as Chris Gayle was run out in the second ball of the innings. Gayle dabbed a length delivery from Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and ran, but the bowler was very quick to react and broke the stumps with a direct hit which caught the opener short of his ground. Gayle fell badly, jarred his hamstring and had to be stretchered off.
West Indies seemed to have recovered from that early reverses with a 64-run partnership for the second wicket in 10 overs. Both Johnson Charles (42) and Marlon Samuels (24) were feasting on Jaydev Unadkat's dibly-dobblies, but things changed quickly once the spinners were brought into the attack.
Jadeja accounted for Charles in his fourth ball, acrobatically holding on to a return catch. Then Raina castled Samuels with a quicker one that kept very low. West Indies were in trouble and Darren Bravo's fighting 59 (77 balls) notwithstanding, they never recovered.
Book Of This Week:
The Good Lord Bird by James McBride
From the bestselling author of The Color of Water and Song Yet Sung comes the story of a young boy born a slave who joins John Brown’s antislavery crusade—and who must pass as a girl to survive.
Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, when the region is a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces. When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, arrives in the area, an argument between Brown and Henry’s master quickly turns violent. Henry is forced to leave town—with Brown, who believes he’s a girl.
Over the ensuing months, Henry—whom Brown nicknames Little Onion—conceals his true identity as he struggles to stay alive. Eventually Little Onion finds himself with Brown at the historic raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859—one of the great catalysts for the Civil War.
An absorbing mixture of history and imagination, and told with McBride’s meticulous eye for detail and character, The Good Lord Bird is both a rousing adventure and a moving exploration of identity and survival.
Writer : James McBride :
The writers James McBride and George Packer have won National Book Awards, among the most prestigious literary prizes in US publishing, at a gala dinner on Wednesday that also honoured EL Doctorow and Maya Angelou.McBride took home the 2014 National Book Foundation fiction prize for The Good Lord Bird, an exploration of identity and survival during slavery.It was chosen from a shortlist of books by authors including Rachel Kushner, previous National Book Award winner Thomas Pynchon, Jhumpa Lahiri and George Saunders."I didn't prepare a speech. I really didn't think I was going to be up here tonight," McBride said. "It sure is nice."
Packer won the non-fiction prize for The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, a story about the US that runs from 1978 to 2012 told through the lives of Americans from varying walks of life.It competed in a category dominated by historical works by Wendy Lower, Jill Lepore, Alan Taylor and Lawrence Wright."This is an incredible honour," Packer said, after receiving the prize at the 64th annual awards. "I feel very lucky to be given this award."Mary Szybist won the poetry prize for Incarnadine and Cynthia Kadohata took home the young people's literature award for The Thing About Luck.In addition to the bronze statue, winners will also receive $10,000 (£6,000).
Ragtime author Doctorow, 82, received the 2013 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters for his body of work spanning five decades.
A previous National Book Award winner for fiction in 1986 for World's Fair, Doctorow had been a finalist in the same category four times before. Previous recipients of the award include Joan Didion, Elmore Leonard and Norman Mailer.Maya Angelou, whose groundbreaking autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is an American classic, was awarded the 2013 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community."I am delighted," Angelou, 85, said in an interview before the ceremony. "To be given the award for lifetime achievement is really quite a statement."The finalists in the four categories were whittled down from 1,432 books submitted for the awards, including 408 in fiction and 517 in non-fiction.