1) Human ancestors at West Asian site deemed two species:
A controversial fossil and soil analysis concludes that a key West Asian site hosted not one but two Homo species, one living around 1.8 million years ago and another several hundred thousand years later.
A team that excavated partial skeletons at Dmanisi, in the nation of Georgia, categorized the finds as part of one species, Homo erectus, that lived in Africa and West Asia 1.8 million years ago (SN: 11/16/13, p. 6). But disparities in several skeletal features that emerge early in life distinguish a large Dmanisi lower jaw from two smaller ones, signaling the presence of separate species, asserts a team led by paleoanthropologist José María Bermúdez de Castro of the National Research Center on Human Evolution in Burgos, Spain. The small jaws come from a population that was closely related to early African Homo populations, the scientists conclude February 20 in PLOS ONE. The team suggests the larger jaw belonged to Homo georgicus, a poorly understood species.
Excavation director David Lordkipanidze of the Georgian National Museum in Tbilisi disagrees. Shape similarities among Dmanisi skulls that fit the lower jaws indicate that only one Homo species occupied the site. Geologic studies show that the Dmanisi fossils are no younger than 1.76 million years old, he adds.
2) Fragile X syndrome: Trigger for most common form of intellectual disability and autism uncovered:
The most common genetic form of mental retardation and autism occurs because of a mechanism that shuts off the gene associated with the disease, new research concludes. The findings also show that a drug that blocks this silencing mechanism can prevent fragile X syndrome -- suggesting similar therapy is possible for 20 other diseases that range from mental retardation to multisystem failure. Fragile X syndrome occurs mostly in boys, causing intellectual disability as well as telltale physical, behavioral and emotional traits.New study led by Weill Cornell Medical College scientists shows that the most common genetic form of mental retardation and autism occurs because of a mechanism that shuts off the gene associated with the disease. The findings, published today in Science, also show that a drug that blocks this silencing mechanism can prevent fragile X syndrome -- suggesting similar therapy is possible for 20 other diseases that range from mental retardation to multisystem failure.
Fragile X syndrome occurs mostly in boys, causing intellectual disability as well as telltale physical, behavioral and emotional traits. While researchers have known for more than two decades that the culprit behind the disease is an unusual mutation characterized by the excess repetition of a particular segment of the genetic code, they weren't sure why the presence of a large number of these repetitions -- 200 or more -- sets the disease process in motion.Using stem cells from donated human embryos that tested positive for fragile X syndrome, the scientists discovered that early on in fetal development, messenger RNA -- a template for protein production -- begins sticking itself onto the fragile X syndrome gene's DNA. This binding appears to gum up the gene, making it inactive and unable to produce a protein crucial to the transmission of signals between brain cells."Until 11 weeks of gestation, the fragile X syndrome gene is active -- it produces its messenger RNA and protein normally. Then, all of a sudden it turns off, and stays off for the rest of the patient's lifetime, causing fragile X syndrome. But scientists have not understood why this gene gets shut off," says senior author Dr. Samie Jaffrey, a professor of pharmacology at Weill Cornell Medical College. "We discovered that the messenger RNA can jam up one strand of the gene's DNA, shutting down the gene -- which was not known before.
"This is new biology --
an interaction between the RNA and the DNA of the fragile X syndrome gene causes disease," Dr. Jaffrey says. "We are coming to understand that RNAs are powerful molecules that can regulate gene expression, but this mechanism is completely novel -- and very exciting."
The malfunction occurs suddenly -- before the end of the first trimester in humans and after 50 days in laboratory embryonic stem cells. At that point, the messenger RNA produced by the fragile X syndrome gene makes what the researchers call an RNA-DNA duplex -- a particular arrangement of molecules in which the messenger RNA is stuck onto its DNA complement. (DNA produces two complementary strands of the genetic code responsible for human development and function. The four nucleic acids in the genomic code -- A, C, G, T -- have specific complements. In the case of fragile X syndrome, the repeat sequence in question is CGG. Therefore, RNA binds to its GCC complement on one strand of DNA.)The RNA-DNA duplex then shuts down production of the fragile X syndrome gene, causing the loss of a protein needed for communication between brain cells. The gene then remains inactive for life. A normal fragile X gene -- one with fewer than 200 CGG repeats -- stays active in a person without the disorder, and produces the necessary protein. However, the mutant fragile X gene contains more than 200 CGG repeats, resulting in fragile X syndrome. Fragile X occurs in about 1 in 4,000 males and 1 in 8,000 females."Because the fragile X syndrome mutation is a repeat sequence, it is very easy for just a small portion of this sequence in the messenger RNA to find a matching repeat sequence on the DNA," Dr. Jaffrey says. "This is a unique feature of repeat sequences. When there are 200 or more repeats, the RNA-DNA interaction locks into place."
Hope for treatment -- and other disorders
Dr. Jaffrey and his team, which includes researchers from The Scripps Research Institute in Florida and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, sought to find out why the disease is switched on when the CGG repeat is present in 200 to as many as 1,000 copies."Utilizing traditional ways to solve this puzzle has been impossible," he says. "Human fragile X syndrome genes introduced into mice and cells in the laboratory never turn off, no matter how many CGG repeats the genes have."So the scientists turned to human embryonic stem cells. Co-authors Dr. Zev Rosenwaks, director and physician-in-chief of the Ronald O. Perelman and Claudia Cohen Center for Reproductive Medicine and director of the Stem Cell Derivation Laboratory of Weill Cornell Medical College, and Dr. Nikica Zaninovic, assistant professor of reproductive medicine, generated stem cell lines from donated embryos that tested positive for fragile X syndrome.
"These stem cells were critical to the success of this research, because they alone allowed us to mimic what happens to the fragile X gene during embryonic development," says Dr. Dilek Colak, a postdoctoral scientist in Dr. Jaffrey's laboratory and the first author of the study.
The stem cells were coaxed to become brain neurons, and at about 50 days, they differentiated in the same way that an embryo's brain is developing at 11-plus weeks when the fragile X syndrome gene is switched off.The researchers then used a drug developed by co-author Dr. Matthew Disney of the Scripps Research Institute that binds to CGG in the fragile X gene's RNA before and after the 50-day switch. Strikingly, the gene never stopped producing its beneficial protein.
That suggests a potential prevention or treatment strategy for fragile X syndrome, Dr. Jaffrey says. "If a pregnant woman is told that her fetus carries the genetic mutation causing fragile X syndrome, we could potentially intervene and give the drug during gestation. This may delay or prevent the silencing of the fragile X gene, which could potentially significantly improve the outcome of these patients," he says.The researchers are now looking for similar RNA-DNA duplexes in other trinucleotide repeat diseases, including Huntington's disease (a degenerative brain disease), myotonic dystrophy 1 and 2 (a multisystem progressive disease), Friedrich's ataxia (a progressive nervous system disorder), Jacobsen syndrome (an intellectual disorder), and familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (a motor neuron disease), among others.
"This completely new mechanism by which RNAs can direct gene silencing may be involved in a lot of other diseases," Dr. Jaffrey says. "Our hope is that we can find drugs that interfere with this new type of disease process."
3) Experimental vaccines protect children from hand, foot and mouth disease:
Shots prevent cases resulting from enterovirus 71 .New vaccines designed to fend off a leading cause of hand, foot and mouth disease have proved highly effective. Two studies involving thousands of children in China depict the vaccines slamming the door on cases arising from enterovirus 71, a common cause.
Hand, foot and mouth disease typically strikes children and is spread by unsanitary conditions. Not to be confused with the livestock illness called hoof-and-mouth or foot-and-mouth disease, the human disease shows up as fever, sore throat and blisters on the hands, feet and mouth. In rare cases, complications arise such as fluid accumulation in the lungs, paralysis or brain inflammation. Some cases are fatal.
4) Quirks & Quarks BlogSparkPhoto Galleries New particle called quantum droplet discovered:
Tiny dropleton has some characteristics of a liquid, like ripples. In the field of quantum physics, you could call this a droplet in the bucket.
Physicists in Germany and the United States said on Wednesday they have discovered an exotic new type of particle that they call a quantum droplet, or dropleton.Writing in the journal Nature, they said it behaves a bit like a liquid droplet and described it as a quasiparticle — an amalgamation of smaller types of particles.The discovery, they added, could be useful in the development of nanotechnology, including the design of optoelectronic devices. These include things like the semiconductor lasers used in Blu-ray disc players.
Lasts 25 trillionths of a second
The microscopic quantum droplet does not dawdle. In the physicists' experiments using an ultra-fast laser emitting about 100 million pulses per second, the quantum droplet appeared for only about 25 trillionths of a second.That does not sound like much, but the scientists said it is stable enough for research on how light interacts with certain types of matter.A previously known example of a quasiparticle is the exciton, a pairing of an electron and a "hole" — a place in the material's energy structure where an electron could be located but is not.The quantum droplet is made up of roughly five electrons and five holes. It possesses some characteristics of a liquid, like having ripples, the scientists said.Quantum physics is a branch of physics that relates to events taking place on the tiniest scale. It is essential in describing the structure of atoms.
Particles are the basic building blocks of matter. They include things like subatomic entities such as electrons, protons, neutrons and quarks. Only rarely are new ones found.
The scientists in Germany worked with a team led by physicist Steven Cundiff at JILA, a joint physics institute of the University of Colorado at Boulder and the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology.It was in Boulder where the laser experiments were performed using a semiconductor of the elements gallium and arsenic, revealing the new particle, albeit fleetingly."Even though this happens so rapidly, it is still useful to understand that it does happen," Cundiff said by email.The scientists foresee practical value in the discovery."The effects that give rise to the formation of dropletons also influence the electrons in optoelectronic devices such as laser diodes," physicist Mackillo Kira of the University of Marburg in Germany, one of the researchers, said by email.Examples of optoelectronic devices include LED lights and semiconductor lasers used in telecommunications and Blu-ray players."For example, the dropletons couple particularly strongly to quantum fluctuations of light, which should be extremely useful when designing lasers capable of encoding quantum information," Kira added.
5) Camels in Saudi Arabia teeming with MERS virus:
Most animals tested had signs of infection that can be deadly in people. Three-quarters of dromedary camels in Saudi Arabia have been infected with the virus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, according to the most thorough survey of the animals there. The finding adds to mounting evidence that camels are a source of the deadly infections in humans.
In September 2012, health experts isolated the first human case of MERS coronavirus, which was discovered in Saudi Arabia and is related to the SARS virus. Since then, the World Health Organization has reported 182 cases and 79 deaths while researchers have scrambled to identify a source of the infections. So far, scientists have found signs that camels and bats harbor the virus (SN Online: 8/8/13; SN: 9/21/13, p. 18), which causes severe pneumonia in humans.
6) Fat or flat: Getting galaxies into shape:
Astronomers have discovered what makes some spiral galaxies fat and bulging while others are flat discs -- and it’s all about how fast they spin. The researchers found that fast-rotating spiral galaxies are flat and thin while equally sized galaxies that rotate slowly are fatter. One of the researchers said the way galaxies are formed looks a bit similar to a carousel made of an elastic disc.
Australian astronomers have discovered what makes some spiral galaxies fat and bulging while others are flat discs -- and it's all about how fast they spin.The research, led by the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) in Perth, found that fast-rotating spiral galaxies are flat and thin while equally sized galaxies that rotate slowly are fatter.The study was published today in Astrophysical Journal.ICRAR Research Associate Professor Danail Obreschkow, from The University of Western Australia, said it is a much-debated mystery why galaxies look so different to each other."Some galaxies are very flat discs of stars and others are more bulging or even spherical," he said."Much of the last century of research has been dedicated to understanding this diversity of galaxies in the Universe and with this paper we've made a step towards understanding how thiscame about by showing that the rotation of spiral galaxies is a key driver for their shape."The study looked at 16 galaxies -- all between 10 million and 50 million light years from Earth -- using data from a survey called THINGS."The THINGS survey shows you the cold gas in the galaxies, not only where it is but how it moves," Dr Obreschkow said."That's a crucial point if you want to measure the spin, you can't just take a photograph, you have to take a special picture that shows you the motion."
Dr Obreschkow said the shape of a spiral galaxy is determined by both its spin and its mass and if you leave a galaxy on its own for billions of years both quantities will stay the same.He said the way galaxies are formed looks a bit similar to a carousel made of an elastic disc.
"If the carousel is at rest, the elastic disc is quite small," Dr Obreschkow said."But when the whole thing is spinning the elastic disc becomes larger because it's feeling the effects of centrifugal force."Our own Milky Way is a relatively flat disc with only a small bulge, the shape of which can be seen in the night sky.
"The white band of the Milky Way across the sky is a relatively thin band of constant thickness. However when you look right at the centre near the Sagittarius constellation you can actually see a thickening of the Milky Way, which is the bulge," Dr Obreschkow said. He and co-author, Swinburne University Professor Karl Glazebrook, were able to measure the effect of spin on galaxies more than ten times better than anyone previously.
7) A 247 million years old reptile fossil discovered in China
Paleontologists led by Dr Xiao-Chun Wu from Canadian Museum of Nature say they have discovered a new genus and species of reptile that lived in what is now China during the middle Triassic, between 247 and 242 million years ago. Dr Xiao-Chun Wu and his colleagues named the new prehistoric creature Atopodentatus unicus and suggest it belonged to a group of reptiles called the sauropterygians.“Generic name is derived from the Latin atopo for the peculiar dentition and dentatus for teeth; the specific name is derived from the Latin unicus for its unique morphology,” the scientists said in a paper published in the journal Naturwissenschaften.
Atopodentatus unicus measured about 3 m long and had a long body, short neck and special adaptations for a fully aquatic or semi-aquatic lifestyle.Its nearly complete skeleton and a left lateral side of the skull were collected from the middle Triassic of Guanling Formation near Daaozi village, Yunnan, China.
The most distinguishing characteristic of Atopodentatus unicus is its bizarre mouth.On each side of the mouth, the reptile had about 35 small needle-like teeth in the front of the upper jaw, about 140 small needle-like teeth in the rest of the upper jaw (at least 100 in the horizontal portion and around 35 in the vertical portion), and more than 190 teeth in the lower jaw (about 100 in the horizontal portion and 90 in the shovel-headed anterior end). The teeth were covered by a layer of enamel.According to Dr Wu’s team, Atopodentatus unicus may have been adapted to a way of bottom-filter feeding in water.
“It is obvious that such delicate teeth are not strong enough to catch prey, but were probably used as a barrier to filter microorganisms or benthic invertebrates such as sea worms,” they said.“These were collected by the specialized jaws, which may have functioned as a shovel or pushdozer and a grasper or scratcher.”
Movie releases of this week:
Global action star Liam Neeson stars in Non-Stop, a suspense thriller played out at 40,000 feet in the air. During a transatlantic flight from New York City to London, U.S. Air Marshal Bill Marks (Neeson) receives a series of cryptic text messages demanding that he instruct the airline to transfer $150 million into an off-shore account. Until he secures the money, a passenger on his flight will be killed every 20 minutes. The film reunites Neeson with Unknown director Jaume Collet-Serra and producer Joel Silver, and co-stars Golden Globe Award winner Julianne Moore.
A criminal bides his time at a seedy motel, waiting for his boss after killing several men and making away with a mystery bag.
Stalingrad has become hell and paradise for those who were worthy of awards, but the only reward they managed to get was love. How they won, and how they were not defeated, who they were and who was on the other side of the street, what secret they have taken away with them - the movie will tell this story.
An earnest life-coach/author, Thomas Carter, is mysteriously abducted by a deranged client, Angel Sanchez, who delves into Thomas' teachings and uses his spiritual messages of Karma - action and reaction (Vipaka), against him to terrorize him and his family for their past sins.
Melissa Leo plays hopelessly hopeful Fay, mother to Sylvie (Marin Ireland), who, many months after a car accident, continues to complain of back pain. After refusing physical therapy, it becomes clear to everyone but Fay that her daughter is addicted to pain killers. When earnest environmentalist Becket (Josh Hamilton) moves to town, Fay quickly befriends him, hoping that he will be the solution to Sylvie’s problems. As Becket finds himself further intertwined in their lives, he inadvertently helps Fay realize the depth of her family’s problem. Before too long Fay’s hand is forced, and she must decide whether to protect her daughter or find the happiness that she has long denied herself.
Political News This Week:
1) Sahara chief Subrata Roy sent to police custody till March 4:
Sahara Chief Subrata Roy, who was arrested in Lucknow on Friday after he surrendered to police, has been sent to police custody till March 4. This comes two days after a non-bailable warrant was issued against him by the Supreme Court.Chief Judicial Magistrate Anand Kumar Yadav directed the UP police to keep Roy in custody till 2 PM on March 4 and ensure that he is by then produced before the Supreme Court which had issued non-bailable warrant against him two days ago for his failure to appear before it in a case of non-refund of Rs 20,000 crore to investors.
Police had moved an application before the CJM seeking his custody instead of transit remand and Roy’s counsel V K Shahi also did not oppose it.
Roy pleaded that he be allowed to stay at his home but said he would go by the court’s decision.Earlier on Friday, appearing for Roy in the Supreme Court, Ram Jethmalani told a bench headed by Justice K S Radhakrishnan that 65-year-old Roy is in police custody.Jethmalani also pleaded to the court for recalling of NBW issued by it on February 26. He submitted that the special bench, comprising Justices Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar, which heard the case be assembled today to hear his application.
Justice Radhakrishnan, who sat with Justice Vikramajit Sen, however, said that it is not possible for the special bench to assemble today.
Subrata’s son Seemanto Roy said his father has willfully submitted himself before Lucknow police and he is cooperating with all authorities.
“We will produce Subrata Roy before local court and will proceed as per the direction of the court,” Navneet Sikera, DIG, Lucknow range stated. The police said that transit remand will be sought from the local court for taking Subrata to Delhi for producing him before the court.Earlier in the morning, Subrata Roy said he is not absconding from arrest and is ready to “unconditionally follow” whatever direction the Supreme Court gives him today.A day after the police visited his home in Lucknow to arrest him as per Supreme Court’s orders but failed to find him there, Roy said he is still in Lucknow and had gone out for sometime to consult “a panel of doctors”. Roy said he has ”already informed police to do their duty”.Through a statement signed by him, Roy also appealed to the Supreme Court to allow him to be with his “ailing mother under house arrest till March 3, 2014″, while adding that he was ready to reach Delhi even today, if court wants him to do so.Issuing a non-bailable warrant against Roy, the Supreme Court on February 26 asked the police to arrest him and present before the court on March 4.
2) Five policemen killed in Naxal ambush in Chhattisgarh:
A Station House Officer and four police jawans were on Friday killed and three others injured, one of them critically, in a Naxal ambush in Maoist-hit Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh, the police said.The Naxals also torched vehicles of the police personnel and looted their weapons before fleeing the spot, they said. The incident took place when a police patrol party headed
by SHO Kuwakonda, Vivek Shukla was on its way to Shyamgiri Hills for security of an under-construction road near Kuwakonda-Bacheli (located around 450 kms from Raipur)," Additional Director General of Police (Naxal Operation) R K Vij told PTI.The patrol team comprising 12 police personnel was moving on six motorcycles in Shyamagiri hills region, which lies at around 5 kms from Kuwakonda police station, when about 100 armed rebels opened indiscriminate firing on them, resulting in the death of the Sub-Inspector rank state police official Shukla and four other policemen on the spot, Vij said.The other martyrs were identified as Chhavilal Kashi, Sandeep Sahu, Dhaneshwar Mandavi, Navalksihore Shandiya (all constables), the ADG said.
The injured -- constable Pushpendra Kumar, assistant constable Pardeshi Ram and constable Bhagirathi Mandavi -- were being airlifted to Raipur for treatment, Vij said.Four other police personnel have returned to their fold safely. Before fleeing from the spot, the Naxals set ablaze three motorcycles and looted one AK-47, two SLR and a Insas rifle from the policemen, he said.
Soon after getting the news of the attack, reinforcement was rushed to the spot. As per initial information, 6-7 personnel were killed in the incident, the ADG said. However, when additional forces reached the spot they confirmed five deaths and missing report of a jawan Lachhuram Bhogami who later reached the police station safely, he added.
Security forces were pressed into an intense search operation in the region to trace the attackers, he added. Chief Minister Raman Singh has condemned the attack and expressed grief over the martyred policemen.The Naxals have carried a cowardly act which has again proved that they are against providing basic facilities such as road to villagers, he said.
3) 'Navy chief's resignation will dent morale of young officers':
'If the navy was part of the ministry of defence then, of course, the defence minister would have been jointly responsible for everything that happened. But that is not so.''The defence minister can shrug his shoulders and say, "Look I don't know what is going on in the navy, so let the chief handle it".''The politician is free to do what he feels. If his conscience hurts him, he is welcome to quit,' .In the early hours of Wednesday, February 26, the Indian Navy's Russian-built, kilo-class submarine, the INS Sindhuratna, caught fire in the high seas off Mumbai harbour.
Seven sailors were evacuated to hospital by helicopter. Two other naval officers were killed.The bodies of Lieutenant Commander Kapish Muwal and Lieutenant Manoranjan Kumar were discovered in a compartment of the vessel when the submarine returned to the harbour.The disaster comes six months after the massive explosion on the INS Sindhurakshak, another Russian-built and newly-overhauled submarine in Mumbai harbour that led to the death of all its 18 members on aboard that August night. In between there have been other mishaps in the navy, but fortunately there was no loss of lives.Naval Chief Admiral Devendra Kumar Joshi accepted moral responsibility for the latest accident and resigned February 26.Former naval chief Admiral Arun Prakash, left, sheds light on why the Indian Navy is facing trouble with its submarines in this interview to Rediff.com's Vaihayasi Pande Daniel.What do you feel about the latest statement by Defence Minister A K Antony expressing confidence that the navy was correcting any deficiencies it was facing? Should not someone in the political leadership have taken responsibility for this recent accident and resigned instead of the naval chief? Why did Admiral D K Joshi have to resign?Political responsibility can only be shouldered if the whole system is integrated.
If the navy was part of the ministry of defence then, of course, the defence minister would have been jointly responsible for everything that happened.But that is not so.The defence minister can shrug his shoulders and say, 'Look I don't know what is going on in the navy, so let the chief handle it.'The chief, being a sensitive person, has taken the moral responsibility and quit.There is a flaw in the system, which keeps the three -- the army, navy and air force -- detached from the ministry of defence. That is unique to India.In other countries that is not so. In, say, the United Kingdom and the United States, the services are very much part of the department of defence. So, if something goes wrong, then it is the department of defence that is responsible.The minister in charge is responsible for things that go right and for things that go wrong.That system does not exist here. Therefore the chief has decided to take moral responsibility.And the politician is free to do what he feels. If his conscience hurts him, he is welcome to quit. But in the current system he can quite happily say: I am not really responsible for what happens in the navy.
A bad situation?Sad situation. It is an aberration in the system.A big aberration which we have been trying to correct for 50, 60 years -- saying you must integrate the armed forces with the ministry.
4) Is Karunanidhi getting cosy with Modi?:
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam President M Karunanidhi on Friday described Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi as a 'hardworker' and a 'good friend.'Karunanidhi's response came in an interview to one of the leading Tamil dailies Dinamalar, in which the 90 year-old DMK patriarch also refrained from commenting on a possible tie-up with the saffron party post-elections.
"The hectic election campaign by Modi shows he is a hardworker. He is also a good friend of mine," he said when asked about his 'personal opinion' on the Gujarat chief minister.Asked if his announcement in the recent DMK state conference that his party would not align with 'communal forces', meant BJP, Karunanidhi shot back "are you giving a confessional statement that BJP is communal."
5) BJP's 'Rail Roko' stir disrupts train services in Bihar:
Train services were on Friday disrupted in various parts of Bihar due to a BJP-sponsored 'Rail Roko' agitation to protest denial of special category status to the state.
Former Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, Leader of the Opposition in state Assembly Nand Kishore Yadav and state party President Mangal Pandey and several party workers were detained when they tried to stop trains at Sachivalya halt in Patna town, police said.BJP workers also stopped trains at Patna, Darbhanga, Bettiah, Kaimur, Bhagalpur, Muzaffarpur and other parts of in the state.
BJP has called the agitation in protest against denial of special category status to to the state.Before being taken away by police, Sushil Modi told media persons that the Centre was "discriminating" with a poor and backward state like Bihar in the grant of special category status and package to spur its development.
Party's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has already promised to provide special package as well special category status to Bihar if he came to power, he said.
The BJP leader appealed to the rail authorities to stop trains movement in the state during the day to avoid inconvenience to the passengers.
Railway sources at Danapur said that there were reports of skirmishes between bandh supporters and students appearing for exams at Rajendra Nagar terminal on Friday morning.
6) BJP, LJP form alliance, Paswan's party to get 7 seats in Bihar:
Bharatiya Janata Party and Lok Janshakti Party on Thursday night stitched a pre-poll alliance with the Ram Vilas Paswan-led party returning to the NDA fold, 12 years after it quit over Gujarat riots, and it will fight seven out of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar under a seat-sharing deal.
A beaming BJP President Rajnath Singh made this announcement at a news conference at his residence after another round of hectic parleys by the leaders of the two parties on seat-sharing in Bihar ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.Singh said the BJP will contest the remaining 33 seats in Bihar."I have complete faith that this alliance between the BJP and the LJP will benefit NDA not only in Bihar but also in other states in the country," he said.He noted that Paswan was joining the BJP-led alliance days after Dalit leader and RPI Chief Ramdas Athavale became part of NDA and another Dalit activist Udit Raj joined the saffron party.
Singh said Paswan will meet party patriarch L K Advani and BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in the next few days. The LJP supremo will also share the dais with Modi at the latter's rally on March 3 in Muzaffarpur in Bihar.Paswan exuded confidence that the next government will be formed by the National Democratic Alliance."Next government will be a NDA govt," he said."You will ask me about Modi. As far as Modi ji is concerned, LJP is now a part of NDA and NDA has already declared Modi as its PM candidate, he added.Paswan parted ways with BJP by resigning as coal minister from the NDA government in April 2002, citing Gujarat riots when Modi was the chief minister.Noting that he had already been a part of NDA, Paswan said that the kind of work which had been done by NDA for poor and backwards had not been done in the last few years.Paswan said that as far as minorities were concerned, it was a "commitment" and asserted that the way Rajnath Singh had spoken two days ago was praiseworthy.
Paswan was apparently referring to Rajnath Singh's comments in which he had while reaching out to Muslims ahead of Lok Sabha elections said that "whenever, wherever if there has been any mistake and shortcoming on our part, I assure you that we will apologise to you by bowing our heads."
Paswan also said that Modi had himself said that he was a "victim of untouchability" and had been ridiculed as a tea seller.
Rajnath Singh said that the joining of new parties in NDA signified that not just dalit leaders but dalit sections of the society were also looking forward to Modi becoming the prime minister.Paswan praised Singh saying that the NDA which had shrunk was expanding under his leadership.Earlier in the day, in a politically-significant gesture, BJP leaders Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Ravi Shankar Prasad and Shahnawaz Hussain went to Paswan's residence to hold consultations with him.Soon after, Bihar LJP President Pashupati Kumar Paras and party Parliamentary Board Chairman Chirag Paswan met BJP leaders Dharmendra Pradhan, Bihar BJP chief Mangal Pandey, its leader in state assembly Nand Kishore Yadav and senior leader Sushil Kumar Modi.Rudy, Hussain and Prasad were also present in the meeting.
From the LJP side, Chirag and Paras negotiated the alliance with BJP after LJP Secretary General Abdul Khalik took a back seat after talks with Congress-RJD failed.
Significantly, the meetings between the two parties are taking place on a day BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is here and there was speculation that Paswan would meet him.Modi held a separate meeting with BJP chief Rajnath Singh.The meeting came a day after LJP gave clear hints about allying with BJP after their Parliamentary Board meeting.After meeting Paswan, Ravishankar Prasad said the LJP chief is a "senior" leader not only of Bihar but the entire country."We have worked together during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government," the BJP leader recalled.
7) Inside terror's dark soul:
The charge-sheet against Yasin Bhatkal reveals many shocking facts about the dark deeds of the Indian Mujahideen, says Vicky Nanjappa
Follow the Naxal style of functioning.Merely killing civilians is not enough to wake up the government.It is time to carry out major political assassinations.These are some of the damning statements made by Indian Mujahideen chief Yasin Bhatkal during online chats or in e-mails.The elaborate charge-sheet compiled by the National Investigation Agency against Yasin and his associates uncovers this, and many more, shocking facts about the dark deeds of the IM.
Here are some of them:
Following the heinous Naxal attack in Chhattisgarh in May 2013, in which several senior state Congress leaders were killed, Bhatkal received a message from Pakistan, stating, “It is time to target the big leaders and policemen in India”.The message, from Indian Mujahideen co-founder Riyaz Bhatkal, ominously added, “If you want the establishment to take notice, then plan big and attack bigger."“There is no point in continuously striking at civilians and killing a handful of people. These attacks have become common and the government has clearly not taken much notice,” he added.So, Yasin and his associate Assadullah Akthar decided to plan a bigger terror strike -- a fidayeen attack on politicians and police personnel, with Akthar in the lead.But when it set about trying to procure arms and ammunition for the strike, the IM fell short on several accounts.The organisation got no help from its associates in Pakistan and it did not have terrorists trained enough to carry out a suicide attack.
The terror organisation finally decided to target a political rally or a police station to send a strong and terrifying message against the establishment.Later, the IM decided to target major sites which hold a symbolic value, and the terror strikes on Bodh Gaya and Patna followed.Yasin was actively involved in the planning the Bodh Gaya blasts, but he was arrested by the time the IM could actually carry out the attack in Patna.
The serial blasts in Patna shook Gandhi Maidan -- the site of a scheduled rally by Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi -- hours before the event.
Before intelligence operatives arrested Yasin Bhatkal in August 2013, the IM chief wanted to go all out for a political assassination, and the outfit had decided to zero in on Modi.The Patna terror strike was planned by IM operative Tehsin Akthar and his associates.The group had initially devised a plan to assassinate Modi outside his hotel in Patna but the Z-category security around the Gujarat chief minister hampered their plans.
Finally, Akthar and his fellow terrorists decided to go ahead and plant the bombs in and around the rally site.Meanwhile, an input by the Central Intelligence Agency, shared with the Intelligence Bureau and Delhi police, suggests that Akthar is currently hiding either in Bihar or Kerala.Tehsin, a terrorist trained in the Darabhanga module of the Indian Mujahideen, has usually operated from Samastipur in Bihar.In the last two months, Tehsin has been shuffling between Kerala and Bihar, the two strongholds of the Indian Mujahideen.CIA operatives have spotted Tehsin in southern Kerala and eastern Bihar, regions which provide safe refuge and political patronage to IM terrorists.The terror operatives find a secure place to stay with the help of local touts and are even bold enough to meet political leaders openly, say CIA operatives.The local unit of the IB willingly looks the other way on such occasions, fears the American spy agency.
Sports News This Week:
1) Russia gives all its gold medalists $120,000, a new Mercedes:
If you're in Russia, and you're a medalist at the Sochi Games, life is pretty good for you right now, with cash and a new car waiting for you.
Russia gave all of its gold medalists in the Sochi Games $120,000, plus a brand-new Mercedes GL SUV. This led to a bit of logistical leapfrogging with athletes like Julia Lipnitskaya, who is only 15 and not yet of legal driving age in Russia. (She got a personal driver to go along with the car.) Silver medalists got $76,000 and a Mercedes ML, and bronze medalists got $52,000 and a Mercedes GLK.
A total of 45 cars were distributed to gold medalists. Russia won a Sochi-leading total of 33 medals, including 13 golds. The cars were provided by the Russian Olympians Foundation, a consortium established by Russian businessmen in 2005. Russian athletes who won medals in the 2012 London Games received new Audis with personal drivers.For comparison's sake, the United States Olympic Committee pays its winners $25,000 for a gold medal, $15,000 for a silver and $10,000 for a bronze medal. Kazakhstan leads the medal payment rate at $250,000 for a gold, but has not had a gold medalist at the Winter Olympics in 20 years.
Of course, not all athletes benefit quite so handsomely. Dario Cologna of Switzerland won two golds in cross-country skiing. His reward from his hometown? A pig, which he named "Sochi."
2) Serena, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray headline International Premier Tennis League draft:
Rafael Nadal leads a star studded lineup for the inaugural International Premier Tennis League (IPTL)
Britain’s 2-time Grand Slam winner Andy Murray, will be one of the elite names to feature in the inaugural edition of the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL). The IPL-style tennis league is a concept that is being planned in the off-season between November 28 and December 20 later this year.Murray is the latest big name to sign up for this venture; two of the top three players in the world in current world no.1 Rafael Nadal and world no.2 Novak Djokovic have already signed up for this new concept. Former champions Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi too have thrown their hats into the ring. Not just male players, top female stars Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka too have signaled their intentions to participate in this event.The idea is the brainchild of Indian doubles ace Mahesh Bhupathi. The tournament will feature five matches of a set each in different formats – men’s singles, women’s singles, mixed doubles, men’s doubles and women’s doubles.
Czech Tomas Berdych also confirmed yesterday that he will be taking part as well.“It’s a very big and ambitious plan, it’s a good idea,” said Berdych, speaking on the sidelines of the Dubai Tennis Championships.“It (is) something that can make our sport even more attractive and brings something extra to the players and all the people and all the fans around the world.”“I’m looking forward to it. I’d be really glad to become the part of it. I like the new things, I like new ideas. So why not?”There are said to be five teams based around the cities of Mumbai, Bangkok, Singapore, Dubai and Kuala Lumpur. Each team will play home and away ties.Each team will have a salary cap of $10 million which can be used to buy six to 10 players. The draft for the IPTL is said to take place this coming Sunday in Dubai.Here’s the full list of players who have signed up for the event:On the sidelines of the Dubai tournament, Federer repeated that he found interesting initiative, admitted that he hoped it would work but found he preferred to wait to see what it was going to possibly be tried before . All the Top 10 ATP responded to this so except Federer and Juan Martin Del Potro
3) Asia Cup 2014: India vs Sri Lanka – As it happened.:
Kumar Sangakkara hit a brilliant 103 as Sri Lanka survived anxious moments to overcome India by two wickets in a thrilling last-over finish Friday, securing their second win in the Asia Cup.The victory was set up by spinners Ajantha Mendis and Sachithra Senanayake, who shared seven wickets to restrict the reigning world champions to 264-9 in the day-night match in Fatullah.But Sri Lanka lost wickets at regular intervals and were reduced to 216-7 in the 44th over when Thisara Perera helped Sangakkara add 42 crucial runs for the eighth wicket.
Left-handed Sangakkara, who hit 12 boundaries and a six in his 18th one-day century, fell in the penultimate over when just seven runs were needed for victory.
But Mendis and Perera saw Sri Lanka through with four deliveries to spare in a nail-biting finish, giving their team a second win after they beat Pakistan in the tournament opener.India, who won against Bangladesh, must defeat arch-rivals Pakistan in Dhaka on Sunday to stay in contention for a place in the final.
Sangakkara, a 36-year-old veteran of 366 one-day matches, said India did well to make the game a close affair."The dew on the ground made it a lot easier for me," he said. "My job was to stay there for as long as possible and stay competitive. I think handling pressure comes with experience."It was a great team effort. It's been a few good months for me. I've worked hard on my fitness and the experience counts."
- Nailbiting finish -Opener Shikhar Dhawan scored 94 as India, sent in to bat, moved to 175-2 in 35 overs before losing five wickets for 40 runs to slide to 215-7.
Big hitting by the lower order, including two sixes by last man Mohammed Shami off Mendis, lifted India past the 250-run mark.Mendis, who replaced seamer Suranga Lakmal for the match, justified his selection with four for 60, including the key scalps of Dhawan and stand-in captain Virat Kohli.Off-spinner Senanayake finished with his best one-day figures of three for 41 as the Indians struggled against the turning ball on the slow wicket.Kohli, leading India in the absence of the injured Mahendra Singh Dhoni, put on 97 for the second wicket with Dhawan after Rohit Sharma had been trapped leg-before by Senanayake for 13.
Kohli praised his bowlers for taking the match till the last over, despite the dew which made it tough to grip the ball."I think the bowlers did a good job," he said. "There was a lot of dew towards the end. But we could have been smarter with our batting and added 25-30 runs more."We have to now pull up our socks and rectify the areas in which we are not good."Kusal Perera and Lahiru Thirimanne gave Sri Lanka a flying start with an 80-run partnership for the first wicket by the 18th over.Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin removed both openers, trapping Thirimanne leg-before for 38 and then having Kusal Perera caught behind for 64.India bounced back strongly when left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja dismissed Mahela Jayawardene and Dinesh Chandimal with consecutive deliveries to reduce Sri Lanka to 148-4 in the 32nd over.
Seamer Mohammad Shami trapped skipper Angelo Mathews leg-before and had Senanayake caught at mid-wicket, before Jadeja got rid of Chaturanga de Silva as Sri Lanka slumped to 216-7 before their final push.Afghanistan will take on hosts Bangladesh in the next match in Fatullah on Saturday.
4) Vijay Hazare Trophy: 1st day round-up – Gambhir and Pathan brothers shine; Sehwag flops again:
For the Ranji champions Karnataka, it was an easy day at the office. Andhra Pradesh were dismissed for a meagre total of 97 after the Karnataka bowlers made the most of skipper Vinay Kumar’s decision to bowl first. After losing the first 4 wickets for 14 runs, Robin Uthappa hit a fine 54 and guided Karnataka to a win in the 24th over.
Tamil Nadu cruised to a 7-wicket win over Goa, who were dismissed for 122 after a superb bowling performance from the Tamil nadu pacers. M Vijay hit an unbeaten 66 and helped TN achieve the target in the 34th over for the loss of three wickets.Kerala were steamrolled by Hyderabad, who dismissed them to a total of 107. Pragyan Ojha (4 for 15) and Amol Shinde – with his 2 wickets – forced Kerala’s collapse. Alfred Absolem, also, scalped two wickets. Hyderabad opener T Suman scored an unbeaten 61 and, in the company of Dwaraka Ravi Teja, guided his team to a win in 30 overs.
A fine opening stand between Gautam Gambhir (58) and Unmukt Chand (42) guided Delhi to a win over Jammu and Kashmir. Virender Sehwag continued his poor run of form, scoring only 15 runs. After setting a target of 257, S Narwal’s 2 for 32, V Tokas’s 2 for 28 and M Kumar’s 2 for 7 dismissed the J&K batsmen for a total of 218.
Joginder Sharma’s five-wicket haul helped Haryana register a victory over Punjab by seven runs. Chasing a total of 154 in a 32-overs per side match, Punjab’s top order was dismissed cheaply, courtesy of a superb bowling performance by Joginder. A 52-run stand between Gurinder Singh and Manpreet Gony went in vain.
Himachal Pradesh lost to Services by 11 runs. Services, who chose to bat, were buoyed by opener Devender Lochab’s 73, which propelled the team to 233 for 9. Himachal Pradesh, in reply, were all out for 222 despite the heroics from Bipul Sharma (44) and Sunmeet Verma (60)
A solid opening partnership between SP Wakaskar (63) and KH Devdhar (148) propelled Baroda to victory over Mumbai by 44 runs. Yusuf Pathan hit a 53 not out for Baroda. Contributions from Mumbai opener SH Marathe (77) and AM Nayar (65) went in vain. Irfan Pathan took three wickets, including 2 in an over.
In a game reduced to 20 overs per side, wicket-keeper Eklavya Dwivedi’s unbeaten 57 helped Uttar Pradesh to a 22-run victory over Railways. Prashant Gupta and Piyush Chawla set up important stands with Dwivedi. In response, Railways were unable to gain any momentum due to loss of wickets at regular intervals. Ashish Yadav was the top scorer with 42. UP pacer Amit Mishra’s 3 for 25 played a crucial role in restricting Railways to 114.
5) Full recovery for Schumacher unlikely, some say:
Nearly two months after Michael Schumacher suffered serious head injuries in a skiing accident and was placed in a drug-induced coma, some neurologists say the seven-time Formula One champion seems unlikely to make a full recovery.
The 45-year-old Schumacher fell while skiing in France and hit the right side of his head on a rock, cracking his helmet. Doctors operated to remove blood clots from his brain but some were left because they were too deeply embedded.
Schumacher's condition stabilized after he was placed in the coma. Late last month, doctors began the process of withdrawing sedatives to try to wake him up.
His agent, Sabine Kehm, said in an email on Friday that "Michael is still in the wake-up phase" and that "this phase can be long." Schumacher's family has released few details of his condition to protect his privacy.
"It does not bode well," said Dr. Tipu Aziz, professor of neurosurgery at Oxford University who is not connected to Schumacher's care. "The fact that he hasn't woken up implies that the injury has been extremely severe and that a full recovery is improbable."Patients who have had major head injuries are sometimes put in a drug-induced coma to give the brain a chance to heal; a coma reduces the need for blood flow and may help the swelling go down.Aziz said doctors typically try every few days to bring someone out of a coma.
"If you don't start getting any positive signs, that becomes very worrisome," he said, adding that Schumacher's doctors are probably doing regular brain scans to look for signs of activity — though such signs may be difficult to detect if he is still being sedated.Other experts said it was premature to make an accurate prognosis.
"About 90 percent of the recovery is made within nine to 12 months, so this is still early days," said Dr. Anthony Strong, an emeritus chair in neurosurgery at King's College London. "The longer someone is in a coma, the worse their recovery tends to be."Now that several weeks have passed since the accident, doctors may also have a better idea of how the rest of Schumacher's brain is doing.
Book of This Week:
The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind:Author: Michio Kaku
For the first time in history, the secrets of the living brain are being revealed by a battery of high tech brain scans devised by physicists. Now what was once solely the province of science fiction has become a startling reality. Recording memories, telepathy, videotaping our dreams, mind control, avatars, and telekinesis are not only possible; they already exist.
The Future of the Mind gives us an authoritative and compelling look at the astonishing research being done in top laboratories around the world—all based on the latest advancements in neuroscience and physics. One day we might have a "smart pill" that can enhance our cognition; be able to upload our brain to a computer, neuron for neuron; send thoughts and emotions around the world on a "brain-net"; control computers and robots with our mind; push the very limits of immortality; and perhaps even send our consciousness across the universe.
Dr. Kaku takes us on a grand tour of what the future might hold, giving us not only a solid sense of how the brain functions but also how these technologies will change our daily lives. He even presents a radically new way to think about "consciousness" and applies it to provide fresh insight into mental illness, artificial intelligence and alien consciousness.
With Dr. Kaku's deep understanding of modern science and keen eye for future developments, The Future of the Mind is a scientific tour de force--an extraordinary, mind-boggling exploration of the frontiers of neuroscience.
Michio Kaku is an American theoretical physicist, the Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics at the City College of New York, a futurist, and a communicator and popularizer of science.
Born: January 24, 1947 (age 67), San Jose, California, United States
Spouse: Shizue Kaku
TV shows: Sci Fi Science: Physics of the Impossible, How the Universe Works, Visions of the Future, 2057, Alien Planet, Time