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Saturday, 22 March 2014

Subhaditya News Channel Presents Science,Movie, Political,Sports And Book News This Week (87)

Science News This Week:

1) Study shows short peptides can self-assemble into catalysts:

A team of researchers with members from Syracuse University and the University of California, has found that naturally forming peptides can self-assemble into catalysts. In their paper published in the journal Nature Chemistry, the team describes how they designed seven peptides, allowed the resulting molecules to self-assemble into amyloids and then noted how many of them could catalyze the hydrolysis of esters.Scientists have long wondered how enzymes could have possibly come to exist in the primordial soup that existed on Earth so long ago, leading to life as we know it. Enzymes, necessary for metabolic reactions, are made of large complicated (folded into three dimensions) proteins, with long chains of amino acids. That they could self-assemble into the structures we see today seems nearly impossible, even given millions of years (leading to the belief by some of the idea of intelligent design). Yet, life clearly exists, which means something, if not the hand of God, had to have happened to get them started. In this new effort, the researchers wondered if perhaps a simpler structure might have come to exist first, which then might have served as a step towards the development of enzymes. In this case, they wondered if such structures might have been amyloid plaques—the same type of molecule clusters found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. Amyloids are much simpler than enzymes—so much so that most would believe they could come to exist without a guiding hand from an ethereal source.

To learn more, the team created seven modest peptides, each of which were constructed from just seven amino acids—putting them together in a dish, with a dash of zinc iron to help move things along, allowed the peptides to self-form into different sheet-like fibril amyloids. During testing, four of the amyloids the team created were found to be able to catalyze the hydrolysis of esters.The results of the team's experiments suggest that enzymes didn't necessarily have to spring forth fully formed from the primordial soup for life to begin, perhaps amyloids came first, serving as an intermediary, or a sort of blueprint—over millions of years the amyloids could have given way to the much more complicated enzymes, leading eventually to living organisms.

Enzymes fold into unique three-dimensional structures, which underlie their remarkable catalytic properties. The requirement to adopt a stable, folded conformation is likely to contribute to their relatively large size (>10,000 Da). However, much shorter peptides can achieve well-defined conformations through the formation of amyloid fibrils. To test whether short amyloid-forming peptides might in fact be capable of enzyme-like catalysis, we designed a series of seven-residue peptides that act as Zn2+-dependent esterases. Zn2+ helps stabilize the fibril formation, while also acting as a cofactor to catalyse acyl ester hydrolysis. These results indicate that prion-like fibrils are able to not only catalyse their own formation, but they can also catalyse chemical reactions. Thus, they might have served as intermediates in the evolution of modern-day enzymes. These results also have implications for the design of self-assembling nanostructured catalysts including ones containing a variety of biological and non-biological metal ions.

2) A 'chicken from hell' dinosaur: Large feathered dinosaur species discovered in North America:

Scientists from Carnegie and Smithsonian museums and the University of Utah today unveiled the discovery, naming and description of a sharp-clawed, 500-pound, bird-like dinosaur that roamed the Dakotas with T. rex 66 million years ago and looked like an 11 ½-foot-long "chicken from hell.""It was a giant raptor, but with a chicken-like head and presumably feathers. The animal stood about 10 feet tall, so it would be scary as well as absurd to encounter," says University of Utah biology postdoctoral fellow Emma Schachner, a co-author of a new study of the dinosaur. It was published online today in PLOS ONE, a journal of the Public Library of Science.
The study's lead author, Matt Lamanna of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, says: "We jokingly call this thing the 'chicken from hell,' and I think that's pretty appropriate."The beaked dinosaur's formal name is Anzu wyliei – Anzu after a bird-like demon in Mesopotamian mythology, and wyliei after a boy named Wylie, the dinosaur-loving grandson of a Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh trustee.

Three partial skeletons of the dinosaur – almost making up a full skeleton – were excavated from the uppermost level of the Hell Creek rock formation in North and South Dakota – a formation known for abundant fossils of Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops. The new dinosaur was 11 ½ feet long, almost 5 feet tall at the hip and weighed an estimated 440 to 660 pounds. Its full cast is on display at the Carnegie Museum.Schachner and Lamanna were joined in the new study and description of three specimens by Hans-Dieter Sues and Tyler Lyson of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington."I am really excited about this discovery because Anzu is the largest oviraptorosaur found in North America," she says. "Oviraptorosaurs are a group of dinosaurs that are closely related to birds and often have strange, cassowary-like crests on their heads." (The cassowary is a flightless bird in New Guinea and Australia related to emus and ostriches.)

Anzu is also "one of the youngest oviraptorosaurs known, meaning it lived very close to the dinosaur extinction event" blamed on an asteroid striking Earth 65 million years ago, Schachner says.The researchers believe Anzu, with large sharp claws, was an omnivore, eating vegetation, small animals and perhaps eggs while living on a wet floodplain. The dinosaur apparently got into some scrapes."Two of the specimens display evidence of pathology," Schachner says. "One appears to have a broken and healed rib, and the other has evidence of some sort of trauma to a toe."Having a nearly complete skeleton of Anzu wyliei sheds light on a category of oviraptorosaur theropod dinosaurs named caenagnathids, which have been known for a century, but only from limited fossil evidence.Like many "new" dinosaurs, Anzu wyliei fossils were discovered some years ago, and it took more time for researchers to study the fossils and write and publish a formal scientific description. As a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, Schachner helped Lyson excavate the least complete specimen – six bones from the neck, forelimbs and shoulder – in North Dakota. The Carnegie Museum obtained the other specimens.At a scientific meeting in 2005 Lamanna, Lyson and Schachner realized they had fossils of the same new species of dinosaur. They soon began collaborating on the new study and asked Sues to join them because he was an expert on this type of dinosaur, Schachner says."It took years since all of us had busy schedules, and I moved to Utah in 2010 to work on reptile respiratory evolution," she says.The study's four authors finally met for a week at the Carnegie Museum to work on the dinosaur together. Among other tasks, Schachner illustrated and photographed some of the bones.She says the process was "really exciting. Naming a dinosaur is one of those things I've wanted to be involved in since I was a kid."

3) Stem cells created from a drop of blood: DIY finger-prick technique opens door for extensive stem cell banking:

Scientists have developed a method to generate human induced pluripotent stem cells from a single drop of finger-pricked blood. The method also enables donors to collect their own blood samples, which they can then send to a laboratory for further processing.

Scientists at A*STAR's Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) have developed a method to generate human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) from a single drop of finger-pricked blood. The method also enables donors to collect their own blood samples, which they can then send to a laboratory for further processing. The easy access to blood samples using the new technique could potentially boost the recruitment of greater numbers and diversities of donors, and could lead to the establishment of large-scale hiPSC banks.By genetic reprogramming, matured human cells, usually blood cells, can be transformed into hiPSCs. As hiPSCs exhibit properties remarkably similar to human embryonic stem cells, they are invaluable resources for basic research, drug discovery and cell therapy. In countries like Japan, USA and UK, a number of hiPSC bank initiatives have sprung up to make hiPSCs available for stem cell research and medical studies.

Current sample collection for reprogramming into hiPSCs include invasive measures such as collecting cells from the bone marrow or skin, which may put off many potential donors. Although hiPSCs may also be generated from blood cells, large quantities of blood are usually required. In the paper published online on the Stem Cell Translational Medicine journal, scientists at IMCB showed for the first time that single-drop volumes of blood are sufficient for reprogramming into hiPSCs. The finger-prick technique is the world's first to use only a drop of finger-pricked blood to yield hiPSCs with high efficiency. A patent has been filed for the innovation.The accessibility of the new technique is further enhanced with a DIY sample collection approach. Donors may collect their own finger-pricked blood, which they can then store and send it to a laboratory for reprogramming. The blood sample remains stable for 48 hours and can be expanded for 12 days in culture, which therefore extends the finger-prick technique to a wide range of geographical regions for recruitment of donors with varied ethnicities, genotypes and diseases.By integrating it with the hiPSC bank initiatives, the finger-prick technique paves the way for establishing diverse and fully characterised hiPSC banking for stem cell research. The potential access to a wide range of hiPSCs could also replace the use of embryonic stem cells, which are less accessible. It could also facilitate the set-up of a small hiPSC bank in Singapore to study targeted local diseases.

4) Gravitational waves unmask universe just after Big Bang:

For first time, researchers see traces of superfast cosmic expansion. Astronomers have detected the earliest echoes of the Big Bang, confirming a decades-old hypothesis that describes the universe’s ultrafast expansion during its first moments. The findings provide researchers with the first direct measurement of conditions at nearly the instant that cosmic expansion began, and may have far-reaching implications for physicists’ understanding of general relativity, quantum mechanics and the origin of the universe.

“We now have a much stronger belief that we understand the early universe than we did yesterday,” says Sean Carroll, an astrophysicist at Caltech.For decades, astronomers have tried to understand several quirks surrounding the Big Bang, the story that describes how the universe began and evolved over its 13.8 billion year lifetime. In the 1980s, MIT physicist Alan Guth suggested that many of the oddities could be explained if the universe underwent a period of hyperexpansion, known as inflation. During inflation, Guth proposed, the universe’s volume grew by a factor of at least 1075 in the first trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang.

Astronomers have long predicted that inflation, if it occurred, would have left marks on the cosmic microwave background radiation, the flash of light released into space about 380,000 years after the Big Bang, when the universe had cooled down enough for light to travel freely.  One signature could be found in how the photons align with one another, what physicists refer to as polarization. Gravitational ripples induced by inflation would have set up swirling patterns in the polarization. Up until now, this “B-mode polarization” has been exceedingly difficult to detect. But a detection of B-mode polarization would strengthen the case for inflation: Primordial gravitational waves are the only known source.That’s just what a group of researchers did, the team announced today. Led by John Kovac, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the researchers measured subtle variations in the polarization of the cosmic microwave background using the BICEP2 telescope. The telescope, located in Antarctica, houses 512 detectors, each cooled to nearly one-quarter of a degree Celsius above absolute zero. The detectors alternate, half filtering out horizontally aligned light and half vertical light. By regularly scanning a region of the sky above the South Pole, the researchers were able to map a chunk of the cosmic microwave background with polarized light. They released their results in papers posted online.The strength of the gravitational waves is significantly higher than researchers had expected. Data from the Planck mission a space telescope that, from 2009 to 2013, mapped minute variations in infrared and microwave light from the cosmic microwave background showed little indication that gravitational waves played any role during inflation. The surprisingly strong signal rules out several possible models for inflation, although it’s not yet clear why Planck and BICEP2 disagree. “This opens up a whole new window, a whole new research area,” says Scott Dodelson, an astrophysicist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., who compared the finding’s importance to that of the recent discovery of the Higgs boson . The high energies seen in the inflationary epoch, he says, make it possible to test some ideas from string theory, which many assumed to be untestable. “This is a playground for everyone to start testing their theories,” he says.

Both Carroll and Dodelson, from preliminary looks at the data, believe that the team has been careful to understand and account for possible statistical sources of error. “It’s not a fluke, that’s for sure,” Carroll says.  But he says that researchers don’t know for certain if the signal is really from the early universe or if it’s an artifact from the telescope or intervening galaxies. At least eight other telescopes continue to look for B mode polarization. Their findings will help nail down the true source of the signal.

“People are skeptical, that’s what we do for a living,” says Dodelson. But before he and others start to scrutinize the data more carefully, he’s enjoying the moment. “The main message is one of excitement,” he says. “This is a game changer.”Dr Loh Yuin Han Jonathan, Principal Investigator at IMCB and lead scientist for the finger-prick hiPSC technique, said, "It all began when we wondered if we could reduce the volume of blood used for reprogramming. We then tested if donors could collect their own blood sample in a normal room environment and store it. Our finger-prick technique, in fact, utilised less than a drop of finger-pricked blood. The remaining blood could even be used for DNA sequencing and other blood tests."Dr Stuart Alexander Cook, Senior Consultant at the National Heart Centre Singapore and co-author of the paper, said "We were able to differentiate the hiPSCs reprogrammed from Jonathan's finger-prick technique, into functional heart cells. This is a well-designed, applicable technique that can unlock unrealized potential of biobanks around the world for hiPSC studies at a scale that was previously not possible."Prof Hong Wanjin, Executive Director at IMCB, said "Research on hiPSCs is now highly sought-after, given its potential to be used as a model for studying human diseases and for regenerative medicine. Translational research and technology innovations are constantly encouraged at IMCB and this new technique is very timely. We hope to eventually help the scientific community gain greater accessibility to hiPSCs for stem cell research through this innovation."

5) Loblolly pine genome is largest ever sequenced:

The massive genome of the loblolly pine -- around seven times bigger than the human genome -- is the largest genome sequenced to date and the most complete conifer genome sequence ever published. This achievement marks the first big test of a new analysis method that can speed up genome assembly by compressing the raw sequence data 100-fold.

The massive genome of the loblolly pine -- around seven times bigger than the human genome -- is the largest genome sequenced to date and the most complete conifer genome sequence ever published. This achievement marks the first big test of a new analysis method that can speed up genome assembly by compressing the raw sequence data 100-fold.The draft genome is described in the March 2014 issue of the journal Genetics and the journal Genome Biology.Loblolly pine is the most commercially important tree species in the United States and the source of most American paper products. The tree is also being developed as a feedstock for biofuel. The genome sequence will help scientists breed improved varieties and understand the evolution and diversity of plants. But the enormous size of the pine's genome had been an obstacle to sequencing efforts until recently. "It's a huge genome. But the challenge isn't just collecting all the sequence data. The problem is assembling that sequence into order," said David Neale, a professor of plant sciences at the University of California, Davis, who led the loblolly pine genome project and is an author on the GENETICS and Genome Biology articles.
Modern genome sequencing methods make it relatively easy to read the individual "letters" in DNA, but only in short fragments. In the case of the loblolly, 16 billion separate fragments had to be fit back together -- a computational puzzle called genome assembly.

"We were able to assemble the human genome, but it was close to the limit of our ability; seven times bigger was just too much," said Steven Salzberg, professor of medicine and biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University, one of the directors of the loblolly genome assembly team, who was also an author on the papers.
The scale of the problem can be compared to shredding thousands of copies of the same book and then trying to read the story. "You have this big pile of tiny pieces and now you have to reassemble the book," Salzberg said.The key to the solution was using a new method to pre-process the gargantuan pile of sequence data so that it could all fit within the working memory of a single super-computer. The method, developed by researchers at the University of Maryland, compiles many overlapping fragments of sequence into much larger chunks, then throws away all the redundant information. Eliminating the redundancies leaves the computer with 100 times less sequence data to deal with.This approach allowed the team to assemble a much more complete genome sequence than the draft assemblies of two other conifer species reported last year. "The size of the pieces of consecutive sequence that we assembled are orders of magnitude larger than what's been previously published," said Neale. This will enable the loblolly to serve as a high-quality "reference" genome that considerably speeds along future conifer genome projects.The loblolly genome data have also been freely available throughout the project, with public releases starting back in June 2012. "Our project has had great benefits to the community long before publication," said Neale.
The new sequence confirmed that the loblolly genome is so large because it is crammed full of invasive DNA elements that copied themselves around the genome. Approximately 82% of the genome is made up of these and other repetitive fragments of sequence.The genome also revealed the location of genes that may be involved in fighting off pathogens, which will help scientists understand more about disease resistance in pines."The megagenomes of conifers are a challenge to sequence. Thanks to the important innovations described in these articles, the draft genome of the loblolly pine is not only the largest ever assembled, its quality is impressive. It paves the way for assembly of even larger genomes," said Mark Johnston, Editor-in-Chief of the journal GENETICS."Loblolly pine plays an important role in American forestry. Now that we've unlocked its genetic secrets, loblolly pine will take on even greater importance as we look for new sources of biomass to drive our nation's bioeconomy and ways to increase carbon sequestration and mitigate climate change," said Sonny Ramaswamy, director of USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), which funded the research. "I applaud the research team for their efforts as their work truly represents the science needed to bring about solutions to some of our greatest challenges."
The loblolly genome project was led by a team at the University of California, Davis, and the assembly stages were led by Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland. Other collaborating institutions include Indiana University, Bloomington; Texas A&M University; Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute and Washington State University.

6) Fossils of earliest stick insect to mimic plants discovered: Ancient stick insect species mimicked plant leaves:

An ancient stick insect species may have mimicked plant leaves for defense, according to a new article. Many insects have developed defense mechanisms, including the ability to mimic the surrounding environment. Stick and leaf insects mimic plants from their environment, but scientists know little about the original of this interaction due to little or no previous stick insect fossil records showing this adaptation. The scientists discovered three specimens, one female and two males, belonging to a new fossil stick insect referred to as Cretophasmomima melanogramma, in Inner Mongolia at the Jehol locality, a site from the Cretaceous period (approximately 126 million years ago).

 An ancient stick insect species may have mimicked plant leaves for defense, according to a paper published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on March 19, 2014 by Maomin Wang, from Capital Normal University, China and colleagues.Many insects have developed defense mechanisms, including the ability to mimic the surrounding environment. Stick and leaf insects mimic plants from their environment, but scientists know little about the original of this interaction due to little or no previous stick insect fossil records showing this adaptation. The scientists discovered three specimens, one female and two males, belonging to a new fossil stick insect referred to as Cretophasmomima melanogramma, in Inner Mongolia at the Jehol locality, a site from the Cretaceous period (approximately 126 million years ago). The species possessed adaptive features that make it resembling a plant recovered from the same locality.The insects' wings have parallel dark lines and when in the resting position, likely produced a tongue-like shape concealing the abdomen. Fossils from a relative of the ginkgo plant have been documented in the area with similar tongue-shaped leaves along with multiple longitudinal lines. The authors suggest the insect used this plant as a model for concealment.The new fossils indicate that leaf mimicry was a defensive strategy performed by some insects as early as in the Early Cretaceous, but that additional refinements characteristic of recent forms, such as a curved part of the fore legs for hiding the head, were still lacking.The new fossil suggests that leaf mimicry predated the appearance of twig and bark mimicry in these types of insects. The diversification of small-sized, insect-eating birds and mammals may have triggered the acquisition of such primary defenses.

7) Doubling Up on Brain Power:

Europe and the United States launch a collaboration linking their government-backed initiatives to study the human brain. In April 2013, President Barack Obama introduced the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative, with an initial $100 million in federal funds dedicated to better understanding human brain activity. Six months later, the European Union launched its €1-billion Human Brain Project (HBP). Now, the two projects have decided to join forces. While some BRAIN and HBP researchers already collaborate informally, this year they will commence a structured partnership.

“[The brain] is something that has defied understanding. You can’t imagine a more important scientific cooperation,” Representative Chaka Fattah (D-PA), who sits on the House panel that oversees funding for several US science agencies, said in a speech last week (March 12), according to Nature.

The nature of the collaboration remains to be determined, but the overarching aim is clear: to improve research efficiency and minimize overlap between the projects. US government officials expect that the arrangement will include the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and all partners of the BRAIN Initiative. Meanwhile, HBP Director Henry Markram of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) said that Israel’s brain initiative will also participate, Nature reported. Details are to be discussed at a workshop later this year, following the distribution of the first round of BRAIN grants in June.

Sean Hill, HBP researcher and EPFL computational neuroscientist, noted that the two projects will complement each other well, with BRAIN focusing on the development of new imaging tools and HBP devoting more resources to developing computation brain models. “I think it’s just perfect,” he told Nature.

Movies Released this week:

a thrilling action-adventure film set in a world where people are divided into distinct factions based on human virtues. Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) is warned she is Divergent and will never fit into any one group. When she discovers a conspiracy by a faction leader (Kate Winslet) to destroy all Divergents, Tris must learn to trust in the mysterious Four (Theo James) and together they must find out what makes being Divergent so dangerous before it's too late. Based on the best-selling book series by Veronica Roth.

Lars von Trier's upcoming film, Nymphomaniac, follows a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac, who recounts her erotic experiences to the man who saved her after a beating.

Disney’s “Muppets Most Wanted” takes the entire Muppets gang on a global tour, selling out grand theaters in some of Europe’s most exciting destinations, including Berlin, Madrid and London. But mayhem follows the Muppets overseas, as they find themselves unwittingly entangled in an international crime caper headed by Constantine—the World’s Number One Criminal and a dead ringer for Kermit—and his dastardly sidekick Dominic, aka Number Two, portrayed by Ricky Gervais. The film stars Tina Fey as Nadya, a feisty prison guard, and Ty Burrell as Interpol agent Jean Pierre Napoleon.

Disney’s “Muppets Most Wanted” is directed by James Bobin and produced by David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman. Bobin co-wrote the screenplay with Nicholas Stoller, who is also executive producer with John Scotti. Featuring music from Academy Award®-winning songwriter Bret McKenzie, “Muppets Most Wanted” hits the big screen March 21, 2014.

“50 to 1” is about a misfit group of New Mexico cowboys who find themselves on the journey of a lifetime when their crooked-footed racehorse qualifies for the Kentucky Derby. The cowboys face a series of mishaps on their way to Churchill Downs, becoming the ultimate underdogs in a final showdown with the world’s racing elite.

A talented and successful actor retires at a young age due to a perceived mental illness. Now living in a small town with his deranged sister and his best friend, we watch as their Maladies intertwine.

Anita tells the story about young, brilliant African American Anita Hill who accuses the Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of unwanted sexual advances during explosive Senate Hearings in 1991 and ignites a political firestorm about sexual harassment, race, power and politics that resonates 20 years later today.

Political news of this week:

1) Noted author and journalist Khushwant Singh dies at 99:

Noted author and journalist Khushwant Singh, one of the finest Indian writers in English in contemporary times, died in Delhi on Thursday at the age of 99.The veteran writer, who was ill, passed away "very, very peacefully", his son Rahul Singh said.Son of Sir Sobha Singh, a civil contractor and a prominent builder of Lutyens' Delhi, Khushwant Singh lived in Sujan Singh Park.He led a very full life, Rahul said, adding that he had some breathing problems but was mentally alert till the end.As a journalist he had edited the now defunct Illustrated Weekly of India (1979-1980) and later the Hindustan Times (1980-83).His weekly column With Malice Towards One and All was very popular and was syndicated in many dailies.

He was also the founder-editor of Yojana magazine (1951-1953).Singh, an outstanding novelist and a forthright political commentator, was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the government under late Indira Gandhi. He was a Member of Parliament from 1980 to 1986.He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1974 but returned the decoration in 1984 in protest against the storming of the Golden Temple in Amritsar by the army.

In 2007, he was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second-highest civilian award in India.Known for his humour, Singh took lots of digs at his community. His works ranged from political commentary and contemporary satire to outstanding translations of Sikh religious texts, Urdu poetry and a number of novels.Born in 1915 in Hadali (now in Pakistan), Singh had done his schooling at Modern School in Delhi and later studied at St Stephen's College in Delhi before moving to the Government College in Lahore. He also studied at King's College in Cambridge University.He practiced law at the Lahore high court for several years before joining the ministry of external affairs in 1947.He had married Kawal Malik in 1939 and is survived by son Rahul and daughter Mala.

Malik had died in 2001.Singh had worked on a classic two-volume history of the Sikhs, a number of translations and non-fiction books on a variety of subjects including nature, current affairs and Urdu poetry.

At 95, Singh had authored the novel The Sunset Club.His autobiography, Truth, Love and a Little Malice, was published in 2002.His short story collection includes The Mark of Vishnu and Other Stories, A Bride for the Sahib and Other Stories, Black Jasmine, The Portrait of a Lady and A Love Affair In London.Singh was known to enjoy a good equation with former prime minister Indira Gandhi and even supported the Emergency she had clamped between 1975 and 1977.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condoled the passing away of the author, describing him as "a gifted author, candid commentator and a dear friend who lived a truly creative life."

2) Advani agrees to contest from Gandhinagar:

In twists and turns marking the top-level rumblings in the Bharatiya Janata Party, L K Advani on Thursday decided to contest from Gandhinagar in Gujarat after the party gave in to his pressure and allowed him the choice of the constituency in the Lok Sabha elections.

The 86-year-old leader made the announcement shortly after party president Rajnath Singh issued a statement saying that it was for Advani to choose whether to contest from Gandhinagar or Bhopal, seeking to end a 24-hour drama that exposed the simmering tensions between him and Narendra Modi.

Advani, who has been sulking since Wednesday over the party decision to field him from Gandhinagar against his wish of Bhopal, said Modi came to him this morning and "emphasised that the people of Gujarat are keen that I represent Gandhinagar Lok Sabha once again."

"I have represented the state both in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. Having represented Gandhinagar constituency in the Lok Sabha since 1991, I have decided to contest the 2014 general elections from Gandhinagar itself," Advani said in the statement, bringing to an end the raging row over his constituency.

3) AAP's Yogendra Yadav declares assets of Rs 3 crore:

Senior Aam Aadmi Party leader and Gurgaon candidate Yogendra Yadav on Thursday declared his assets to the tune of about Rs 3 crore, which includes farm land, commercial booth and sizable amount of bank deposits and Provident Funds.

Filing his nomination papers as APP nominee from Gurgaon, Yadav, 50, who hails from Saharanwas village in Rewari district, declared he has movable and immovable assets worth about Rs 3 crore in his and his wife Madhulika's names.

While Yadav has movable and immovable assets worth Rs 81.43 lakh and Rs 1.32 crore respectively, his wife has movable assets of Rs 43.43 lakh and immovable assets of Rs 40 lakh.The AAP leader has a meagre amount of Rs 2,000 as cash-in-hand, and his wife has cash worth Rs 68,800 including euros 800.Yadav owns a 2010-make Maruti Ritz car, whose value stands at Rs 5.43 lakh.the couple also have sizable bank deposits and other investments in bonds.

These include Rs 26 lakh in a PF account, over Rs 6.85 lakh in Yadav's name at a UCO bank branch in Delhi, Rs 2 lakh in HDFC bank branch in Gurgaon, tax free bonds including one valued at Rs 6.56 lakh, one PPF account having Rs 7.5 lakh savings, Rs 9 lakh in post office saving scheme while wife has Rs 5 lakh worth tax free bonds, UTI-ULIP valued at Rs 3.70lakh and GPF at Rs 6.2 lakh.Among immovable assets, Yadav has two acres of farm land at Rewari worth Rs 90 lakh along with a commercial booth at Rewari valued at Rs 41 lakh, while his wife has a 50 per cent share in a 1100 square feet flat in Delhi's I P Extension, with a value of Rs 40 lakh.Prominent against whom Yadav is pitted from Gurgaon is BJP's Rao Inderjit Singh, who quit the Congress to join the saffron party, and Congress's Rao Dharampal.Union Minister Kapil Sibal's assets has almost tripled over the last three years, increasing from Rs 38 crore in 2011 to Rs 114 crore at present.

In his nomination paper filed today from Chandni Chowk constituency, Sibal along with his wife Promila has declared assets worth around Rs 114 crore, which includes their movable and immovable properties.According to his affidavit filed in 2011, Sibal had declared movable and immovable assets worth around Rs 38 crore.

Sibal has shown Rs 77 lakh as income in his last year's income tax return even as his wife Promila Sibal has declared Rs 28.73 lakh income for the last financial year.According to Sibal's affidavit, his and his wife's movable assets are worth 13.38 crore which include around over 15 crore in cash in bank deposits and 4.6 kg of gold and precious stones worth over 1 crore. Rest is invested in mutual funds, bonds and insurance policies among others.As far as his immovable assets sre concerned, Sibal owns or has shares in 17 properties including residential, commercial, agricultural and non-agricultural land worth over Rs 68 crore. Moreover, he has invested Rs 4.2 crore in advance for purchase of properties.Promila owns a house in New Friends colony in New Delhi whose market value is Rs 28 crore. Besides that she has also invested 17 lakh in advance for purchase of residential plot.

4) BJP clinches 7-party alliance in Tamil Nadu:

Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday announced the formation of a seven-party rainbow alliance for the April 24 Lok Sabha polls in Tamil Nadu, in its first-ever such electoral venture in the state where the turf has been largely dominated by Dravida Munetra Kazhagam and All India Anna Dravida Munetra Kazhagam.The announcement about the sealing of the alliance was made by BJP President Rajnath Singh who described it as a 'historic' moment for Tamil Nadu and also for the country as seven parties had come into the National Democratic Alliance-fold.Flanked by alliance partners, Singh told a press conference that out of the 39 seats, actor-politician Vijayakant's Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam will fight for 14 seats while the Pattali Makkal Katchi and BJP will field candidates in eight constituencies each.

Vaiko's Marumalarchi Dravida Munetra Kazhagam has been allotted seven seats while the Indhiya Jananayaka Katchi and the Kongunadu Makkal Desiya Katchi have been given one constituency each.Local BJP leaders were all smiles as the month-long efforts and protracted negotiations in the wake of some of the allies insisting on particular seats fructified as the party seeks to return a sizeable number of members of Parliament from the state towards achieving formation of a Narendra Modi-led NDA government.

Replicating the strategy of the two major Dravidian parties which have been taking up the emotive fishermen and Sri Lankan Tamils issue as a plank, Singh promised these were also on the "top priority" of his party. "Their (fishermen) release will be our topmost priority and also protecting their livelihood," he said. Accusing the UPA of being responsible for the travails faced by Sri Lankan Tamils, he said "under the United Progressive Alliance, India was not able to impress Sri Lanka to resolve Tamils issue. The NDA will work to impress Sri Lanka as it is also in our security interest."

Singh's announcement of seat-sharing was made in the presence of actor turned politician Vijayakant, Anbumani Ramadoss (PMK), Vaiko, IJK's Pariventhar and KMDK's Easwaran.Soon after his arrival, Singh was closeted with leaders of allies for nearly four hours, giving final touches to the alliance and also ironing out differences among the partners over certain seats. He managed to convince the PMK to give up the claim on Salem seat and accommodate the request by the DMDK.The other national party Congress, which used to ride piggy back on the DMK or the AIADMK, has been left to face the polls on its own this time with both shunning it. Launching a tirade against the Congress-led UPA, Singh charged it with leaving the country's economy in a 'mess' and slammed it over unemployment, inflation and price-rise.

He also attacked the UPA for the spate of scams allegedly involving the ruling coalition and said people were no more prepared to live with the scandals."The entire country is yearning for a decisive change. The people are determined to unseat the UPA. In South, including in Tamil Nadu, new alliances are emerging. People want to see an NDA government with Modi as prime minister," he said.

5) Flight 370: Objects spotted could be of missing plane, says Australia:

Working on the "best lead", Australian military-led search aircraft were dispatched on Thursday to check whether two objects -- one as large as 24 meters long -- found in the southern Indian Ocean was the wreckage of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane with 239 people on board. Australian officials said satellite imagery showed the objects were around 2,500 km southwest of Perth and appeared to be awash over water several thousand metres deep.

"It's probably the best lead we have right now," said Australian Maritime Safety Authority official John Young, but cautioned that the objects could also be seaborne debris as containers periodically fall off cargo vessels.

Military jets and ships from Australia, New Zealand and the United States were heading to the area to search for the objects, as the multinational search operations entered 13th day. A merchant ship was expected to arrive in the vicinity soon with Australian naval vessel HMAS Success, which is capable of retrieving the objects.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott told parliament that he called his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak to relay the "new and credible information" about potential aircraft wreckage.
Search teams involving 26 countries are still trying to locate flight MH370, which went missing an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing on March 8 with 239 people on board, including five Indians and one Indian-Canadian.

"The AMSA has received the information based on satellite imagery of objects possibly related to the search," Abbott said, adding that after specialist analysis of this satellite imagery, two possible objects related to the search have been identified.Abbott said an Australian air force Orion has been sent to locate the objects and three more aircraft will follow this Orion. "They are tasked for more intensive follow up search."

"The task of locating these objects will be extremely difficult...and it may be they do not relate to the aircraft," he told parliament. Young said, "The objects are relatively indistinct. Those who are expert say they are credible sightings." He said the poor weather conditions is hampering the search at the moment.In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said, "I can confirm we have a new lead."

6) Mayawati not to contest LS poll; declares all 80 UP candidates:

While refuting media reports about her plans to contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha election, Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati on Thursday went all out to woo the state’s Muslims, by training her guns at the entire brigade along with its prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi.

Exuding confidence that her party would strike the balance of power in the post-poll scenario, she ruled out the possibility of any kind of alignment with the Bharatiya Janata Party or its allies. Besides lambasting the BJP and its bandwagon as “communal forces”, she even went to the extent of terming her arch political foe the Samajwadi Party and the BJP as two sides of the same coin -- obviously knowing how in the aftermath of the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, a large section of Muslims had voiced their disillusionment with Mulayam.

In a bid to wean away a good chunk of the state’s 20 per cent Muslim voter from Mulayam Singh Yadav-led SP, Mayawati added, “There is some kind of an underhand deal between Mulayam and the BJP top leadership and both of them were bent upon forging a communal divide.”she gave out the list of her party’s candidates for each of the 80 UP Lok Sabha seats. “Besides UP, we will contest for seats in all states where BSP has a foothold,” she said, while declining to specify the states.Declaring that she would launch her party’s poll campaign from March 22, she said, “I propose to spend 90 per cent of my time in UP where I propose to address my first election rally in Bijnore on April 3; subsequent to that I will go on holding rallies in different UP constituencies until May 8.”

Flatly denying reports appearing in a section of the media about her intent to contest the LS poll, she termed stories about her fielding of her close aide Satish Chandra Misra and Naseemuddin Siddiqui too as “fallacious and mischievous.”Asked why she had chosen to remain out of the electoral fray when every other top political leader was contesting, the BSP chief shot back, “I am in the Rajya Sabha so why must I contest ?”When her attention was drawn to leaders who had taken the plunge despite being members of the upper house, she came up with yet another alibi -- “I am required to campaign across the length and breadth of the country”, before dismissing her press conference and speeding away in the awaiting car from her party state headquarter here.

According to her, “Mulayam’s decision to contest from Azamgarh, which lies in close proximity to Varanasi from where Modi was contesting in addition to his existing Mainpuri seat was part of his design in collusion with the BJP so that together they could to communalise the atmosphere and take political mileage out of that.”In the same vein, she emphasised “but we are here to keep a check on both these parties; and I have also written letters to the election commission to keep an eye on the nefarious designs of the SP-BJP nexus.”While ruling out the possibility of any pre-poll alliance or understanding with any other political outfit, she refused give details of her plans to fulfil her dream of heading the next government in New Delhi.

“All I wish to point out is that my party will not take any kind of support under any circumstances from the BJP; I wish to make it loud and clear that in order to form a government we will align with secular forces alone.”When a scribe sought to know if for that matter, she was inclined to take the support of SP , an angry Mayawati shot back, “I do  not consider SP or Mulayam secular , so there is no question of accepting support from him or his party.”When her attention was drawn to her past alignment on three different occasions with the BJP, with whose support she became chief minister of the state, she sought to clarify, “We neither took the BJP’s support on their terms nor did we compromise on our fundamental policies based on secular ideals.”She added, “Mind you, when I found that they were trying to push their communal agenda through my government I walked out of the government; remember I was the one who pulled out of the alliance.”

7) Crimea crisis: Merkel warns Russia faces escalating sanctions:

European Union leaders are gathering in Brussels to discuss their response to the crisis over Crimea.The British Prime Minister David Cameron said more names would be added to the list of those facing travel bans and asset freezes.German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the EU would be ready to impose economic sanctions against Russia if there were an escalation.

Crimea remains tense after its leaders signed a treaty to join it to Russia.French President Francois Hollande said a summit planned for June between the EU and Russia would be cancelled. He described the events of the past weeks as "unacceptable".

Mr Cameron said the countries of the European Union needed to speak with a clear and united voice.Over dinner Europe's leaders will discuss their next moves. A few more Russian names may be added to the sanctions hat. That is the easy part. The names are already drawn up.

The question is whether, this time, they will go after people closer to President Putin. That is less certain.The treaty signed by Crimean leaders with Moscow on Tuesday absorbs the peninsula - an autonomous republic in southern Ukraine - into Russia, following a referendum which the West and Kiev say was illegal.

The treaty has now been approved by Russia's lower house of parliament - the Duma - and is expected to be ratified by the upper house on Friday.Speaking ahead of the vote in the Duma, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described possible sanctions as "illegitimate" and "not based on international law".Mr Lavrov said the treaty with Crimea would "be a turning point in the fate of the multi-ethnic peoples of Crimea and Russia, who are linked by the close ties of historical solidarity".He reiterated Moscow's position that the annexation is necessary to protect ethnic Russians from "nationalists, anti-Semites and other extremists on whom the new [Ukrainian] authorities depend".In a resolution on Thursday, Ukraine's parliament said the country would "never and under no circumstances end the fight to free Crimea of occupants, no matter how difficult and long it is".

'Political consequences'
The United Nations chief, Ban Ki-moon, told Russian President Vladimir Putin that he was "deeply concerned" over the crisis.Mr Ban was holding talks with the Russian leader before travelling to Kiev.Western leaders have denounced Russia's actions in Crimea as a violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and a breach of international law.

Sports news of this week:

1) World Twenty20: Struggling India eye elusive win, take on England:

England       vs.    India
158/6 (20)             178/4 (20)          
India won

Their already low morale further dented, a listless India would be desperate for a win when they take on England in their second and final warm-up game in the ICC World Twenty20 Championships on Wednesday.

India will be playing their first group league match against Pakistan on Friday and a win against England is a necessity considering the team's continuing poor run.

The Indians went down by five runs in the opening warm-up match against Sri Lanka on Monday. Although they didn't set the stage on fire, the two comeback men Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh had a decent outing with the bat, which makes their case even stronger.

Yuvraj scored 33 and Raina contributed 41 in a losing cause but both were out after they had got set. That both can also roll their arms over on this slow track at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium makes young batsman Ajinkya Rahane's case a bit weaker. By getting out for nought having misread the flight of a Sachitra Senanayeke delivery, Rahane has done himself no good.

The batsmen who automatically select themselves are Virat Kohli, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina. While Raina batted at No. 3 on Monday, it was done with an aim of giving skipper's trusted lieutenant a chance to settle down and play more deliveries since Kohli's place is settled in the side.Yuvraj is a player who has got four man-of-the-match awards in India's last five official T20 internationals. The only place Rahane fits in is at the top of the order where both Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan have been struggling of late. Rahane has also successfully opened for Rajasthan Royals in the last two seasons of the Indian Premier League. It won't be surprising therefore if one among Rohit or Dhawan is dropped in order to accommodate Rahane. There remains a possibility of Dhawan making way for Rahane as Dhoni has backed Rohit in times which were even worse than this. Rohit had a long streak of single digit scores but the skipper always showed enormous faith in his talent and abilities.

Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will be the two main spinners in the side. Both being handy bowling all-rounders, they are much ahead in the pecking order than Amit Mishra, who has not done too badly in the limited opportunities that he has got.
Mohammed Shami is inarguably India's number one pacer currently and Varun Aaron looks better suited than Bhuvneshwar Kumar to become the second pacer of the side.

Bhuvneshwar's 17 runs in the final over against Sri Lanka proved to be decisive in the final context of the match. The young UP seamer is certainly under pressure as the wickets have dried up and the swing which made him such a lethal weapon in skipper Dhoni's armoury is long gone. While he was an unknown entity in the first season, the teams over passage of time in the last 12 months have started analysing his bowling. His lack of pace also makes him vulnerable in this format. Mohit Sharma was the only player in the 15-member squad who was not fielded in the first warm-up game. He is certain to get a chance against England but it will be very difficult for him to break into the playing XI right away even if he performs well.

Another interesting aspect will be to watch skipper Dhoni bat in a match situation after recovering from side strain. Prior to the practice match against Sri Lanka, Dhoni didn't bat in the nets. During the match, he kept wickets as the team doesn't have an option but he didn't come out to bat. Even if it's a strategy, a defeat only dents the confidence and this Indian team has tasted more of it in recent times. England, on the other hand, will be fighting a jet-lag having taken a long flight from Barbados to Dhaka.

Skipper Stuart Broad is suffering from a dodgy knee while the team is not exactly rich in overall international experience save a few like Luke Wright, Ravi Bopara and Eoin Morgan to support Broad. But they have a few explosive players including Alex Hales, who briefly held the number one rank in the ICC list for the T20 batsmen before Brendon McCullum snatched it from him.

2) Van Persie treble sinks Olympiakos, Dortmund edge Zenit:

Robin van Persie's hat-trick lifted Manchester United to a stunning Champions League comeback against Olympiakos Piraeus on Wednesday as Borussia Dortmund edged out Zenit St Petersburg to complete the quarter-final lineup.United, trailing 2-0 from the first leg, won 3-0 at Old Trafford to stay in the hunt for a fourth Champions League title and last season's runners-up Dortmund lost their second leg 2-1 but went through 5-4 on aggregate.

Van Persie cut a forlorn figure as United suffered a humbling defeat by arch-rivals Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday, but he was back to his lethal best as he picked apart the Greek side who have now lost all 12 matches they have played in England.The Dutch striker opened the scoring after 25 minutes from the penalty spot after being shoved in the back by Jose Holebas and levelled the aggregate score with a simple tap-in in first-half stoppage time.Van Persie raised the roof when he curled home a free kick seven minutes after the restart, but the tension around Old Trafford lasted until the final whistle with Olympiakos pushing for an away goal that would have swung the tie in their favour.Dortmund had done the hard work by winning 4-2 in Russia but the tie threatened to come alive when Zenit forward Hulk beat two men and drilled his team into a 16th-minute lead on the night in Germany.Dortmund captain Sebastian Kehl settled any nerves when he headed in from close range seven minutes before the break and Zenit never looked like stealing an unlikely win, despite Jose Rondon heading them back in front with 17 minutes remaining.United and Dortmund joined Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris St Germain, Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals. The draw for the last eight is on Friday.

3) Cricket: Nepal stun Afghanistan in World Twenty20:

First-timers Nepal upset a higher ranked and more experienced Afghanistan by nine runs in Sylhet to record their second win in the World Twenty20 tournament on Thursday.
Nepal, sent in to bat, were lifted by opener Subash Khakurel's career-best 56 to 141-5 and restricted their opponents to 132-8 in a Group A match.
The defeat meant Afghanistan lost two of their three matches and failed to reach the next round.

Paceman Jitendra Mukhiya, who finished with 3-18 in four overs, jolted Afghanistan with two early wickets, while spinner Shakti Gauchan took two wickets in one over to leave Afghanistan in tatters on 50-5.

Shafiqullah Shafiq (36) and Asghar Stanikzai (49) did their best to stop the collapse. But a 24-run target in the last over proved way beyond Afghanistan's reach.
Earlier Khakurel anchored the Nepalese innings with some sensible batting, adding an invaluable 76 for the fourth wicket with Sharad Vesawkar who made 37.
Khakurel hit six boundaries and a six during his 53-ball knock before falling to paceman Shapoor Zadran, the best of the Afghan bowlers with 2-19.
Nepal will now await the outcome of the last match in the group, with hosts Bangladesh needing a win against the United Arab Emirates to go through to the next round.Ireland, the Netherlands and Zimbabwe are in contention to qualify for the next round from Group B.The top team from each group will join eight seeded teams in the Super-10 stage, starting Friday.

Brief scores:
Nepal 141 for 5 in 20 overs (S. Khakurel 56, S. Vesawkar 37; Shapoor Zadran 2-19)
Afghanistan 132-8 in 20 overs (Asghar Stanikzai 49, Shafiqullah Shafiq 36; J. Mukhiya 3-18)
Nepal won by nine runs.

4) Top 5 highlights from Indian Wells 2014:

This past weekend saw another enthralling edition of the hugely popular Indian Wells tourney come to an end. Often labelled as the “fifth Grand Slam”, the Larry Ellison owned facility attracted the top names from across the board and needless to say, made for a cracking fortnight of tennis. There were a fair share of upsets, moments of controversy and of course the making of champions, which were enjoyed to the fullest by a good crowd. Here are five highlights for me from the tournament

The Italian job
There was misfortune in the women’s finals with Agnieszka Radwanska having to brave it out despite being clearly affected by a knee injury. But that should take nothing away from her opponent Flavia Pennetta who claimed the biggest title of her career with some swashbuckling tennis over the course of the tournament, ultimately winning in straight sets 6-2, 6-1. Not a bad return for the Italian who contemplated retirement before reaching the semi-finals of the US Open last year. Pennetta’s run was particularly impressive considering she took out top-seeded Li Na in the semis and held her own against giant-killers Camila Giorgi and Sloane Stephens.
While we’re on the subject of Italian girls, Camila Giorgi’s triumph over Maria Sharapova was the match of the tournament in the women’s section for me – a wonderful story of an underdog prevailing against all odds in an intense and emotional affair. Despite struggling with her first serve and making a host of unforced errors, she just about held her nerve to close out the match at the second time of asking in the final set, one where her father (masked in controversy over business dealings) could barely watch and was often spotted burying his face in his curls or hands or whatever he could find.

Clash of the titans
Novak Djokovic’s biggest strength is perhaps his mental toughness and ability to fight back when the chips are down. After being blown away in the opening set by an in-form Marin Cilic and then losing yet another tie-break to hard-hitting John Isner, most would wither and eventually lose but not Nole, who produced back-to-the-wall performances to earn his right to play an on-song Roger Federer in the finals.The pattern in the deciding match was no different with the Swiss ace taking the opening set 6-3 courtesy of a single break of serve. Yet again though, Djokovic raised his game and found that extra bit of energy in the second set to upset Roger’s rhythm and take the match to a decider. He continued building the momentum and got himself into a winning position before failing to close out the game on his serve for the second successive encounter. He stepped it up when it mattered most in the tiebreak though, winning the title with a 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(3) scoreline and exacting revenge for his loss in the Dubai semi-finals to the same opponent a fortnight ago.  The close nature of the contest and the form of both men promises a series of exciting encounters to come over the course of the season.

It takes two to tango
In the men’s and women’s doubles competitions, top seeds Bryan brothers and the Hsieh/Peng pair ruled the roost cruising to 6-4, 6-3 and 7-6(5), 6-2 wins respectively after seeing off some early pressure. The Bryans keep racking up the trophies and this was their 95th overall, whilst Hsieh/Peng are at an impeccable 11-0 in WTA doubles finals.

The quest for peace
One of the great beauties of sport is its ability to touch lives. It is with this intention that Ukraine’s Alexandr Dolgopolov put together a message of peace featuring the top stars from the men’s circuit, urging for the violence to be stopped back in his home country. The man himself brought smiles and cheers to the faces of his troubled countrymen who celebrated every step of his path to the semifinals – including a 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 scalp of World No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the third round of the competition. He eventually bowed out to Roger Federer but not without making waves and jumping a whopping 26 places in the ATP Tour rankings since the start of the year.

Balls of fury
Chair umpire Mohamed El Jennati was in the thick of the action after two controversial judgment calls which drew the ire of Denis Istomin and Fabio Fognini in the space of 72 hours. Both players felt hard done by and did not hold their emotions back, arguing profusely before being asked to get on with it by the supervisor. The incident sparked a volatile Fognini back to life as he went on to charge through the rest of his match but Istomin, who won that particular game, eventually phased out as the contest wore on.
But the sight of each men making his case was one to behold, with the Italian in particular absolutely letting it rip. “It’s my point,” Fognini said. “How you say no? You make the same s*** with Istomin yesterday? You were in the chair. Call the supervisor. …  F*** are you doing? F*** are you doing?”
It proved to be quite an eventful tournament for El Jennati who was also reportedly on the chair for the women’s doubles between Flavia Pennetta/Kristina Mladenovic and Kimiko Date-Krumm/Barbora Zahlavova Strycova , a contest where Date-Krumm was hit in the eye , Strycova was struck on the face and Mladenovic got stung by a bee.

5) Red Bull appeal against Ricciardo disqualification:

 Formula One champions Red Bull have formally appealed against the disqualification of Australian Daniel Ricciardo from his home grand prix in Melbourne last weekend, the team said on Thursday.A spokeswoman confirmed the necessary documentation had been submitted.

Ricciardo finished second in the race, his debut for Red Bull after joining from Toro Rosso, which was won by Mercedes' Nico Rosberg. He was then disqualified hours later for an illegal fuel flow rate.Red Bull said on Sunday they intended to appeal and had until Thursday to do so. No date has been set for any hearing, with Formula One teams heading for Malaysia soon for the second race of the season next week.

6) World Twenty20 2014: India thrash Pakistan in Group Two:

India opener Shikhar Dhawan hits out

India began the Super 10 phase of the World Twenty20 with a commanding seven-wicket win over Pakistan in Mirpur.Pakistan scored a modest 11 fours and two sixes in their 130-7, Umar Akmal top-scoring with 33 from 30 balls and Sohaib Maqsood adding 21 off 11.India's openers hit six fours and two sixes, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma racing to 54-0 within eight overs.Three quick wickets fell but Virat Kohli (36) and Suresh Raina (35) guided them home with nine balls remaining. Pakistan remain without a victory against India in nine World Cup and World T20 matches and will now seek a rapid improvement from their remaining Group Two matches against Australia, Bangladesh and West Indies, with only the top two teams progressing to the semi-finals.

England begin their campaign in Group One on Saturday against New Zealand, with Sri Lanka, South Africa and the big-hitting Netherlands to come.The Pakistan innings began hesitantly after they were put in before a typically fervent crowd.Kamran Akmal was run-out in the second over and more might have followed as the stuttering scoreboard created further anxiety.When Amit Mishra had Ahmed Shehzad easily stumped in the ninth over with a prodigiously spinning leg-break and recorded that rarest of commodities in T20, the wicket maiden, it was 47-3 and only five boundaries had been scored.Former skipper Shoaib Malik hit the first six in the 12th over with a glorious straight drive off Mishra, recording a half century stand in 42 balls with Umar as 26 runs came in two overs. But Shoaib was caught at long-off in the 16th over, bringing the dangerman Shahid Afridi to the crease, and Umar was another to find the fielder, caught off Mohammad Shami in the 18th over.

Captain Afridi could manage only one boundary before he was well caught diving forward at deep mid-wicket by Raina in the penultimate over.Despite a late six and four from the robust Sohaib, their total was significantly down on the average score on the ground of 148.That was quickly emphasised by Rohit, who stepped down the wicket to square drive Junaid Khan over point for six in the third overAnd when the mercurial Saaed Ajmal, who tormented England with 24 wickets in the three-Test series in early 2012, was introduced in the next he was promptly dispatched for three vigorous leg-side boundaries by Dhawan.But Dhawan hooked recklessly off balance to fine-leg, Rohit played on to Ajmal and when Yuvraj Singh's off-stump was rattled by bustling seamer Bilawal Bhatti's first ball, three wickets had fallen in 15 legitimate deliveries.
However, Kohli calmly took his team towards their target with some sweetly struck, wristy strokes and the pugnacious Raina played a no-nonsense innings, seizing on anything short.Raina was dropped twice, on seven and 28, but remained undefeated in a decisive partnership of 66 in barely eight overs

India captain Mahendra Dhoni said there was more to come from man-of-the-match Mishra, who took 2-22 in only his second T20 international."I think Mishra bowled 70-75% of
what he can bowl," Dhoni said. "But we are not sure of playing three spinners every time. A lot will depend on whether there is evening dew or not."Counterpart Mohammad Hafeez said: "We were at least 20 runs short. Then we dropped some catches, which we can't afford in games like these.

"But there is a long way to go in this tournament and we will try to make a strong comeback."

Book Of This Week:

Belzhar :by Meg Wolitzer (Author)

If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be at home in New Jersey with her sweet British boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing him in the library stacks.

She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English.

But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead.

Until a journal-writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path to reclaim her loss.

From New York Times bestselling author Meg Wolitzer comes a breathtaking and surprising story about first love, deep sorrow, and the power of acceptance.

Meg Wolitzer (Author)

Wolitzer studied creative writing at Smith College and graduated from Brown University in 1981. She wrote her first novel, Sleepwalking, a story of three college girls obsessed with poetry and death, while still an undergraduate; it was published in 1982. Her following books include Hidden Pictures (1986), This Is Your Life (1988), Surrender, Dorothy (1998), The Wife (2003), The Position (2005), The Ten-Year Nap (2008), and The Uncoupling (2011). Her short story "Tea at the House" was featured in 1998's Best American Short Stories collection. She has recently written a novel for younger readers: The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman, published in 2011.

She also co-authored, with Jesse Green, a book of cryptic crosswords: Nutcrackers: Devilishly Addictive Mind Twisters for the Insatiably Verbivorous (1991), and has written about the relative difficulty women writers face in gaining critical acclaim.She has taught creative writing at the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop, Skidmore College, and, most recently, was a guest artist at Princeton University. Two films have been based on her work; This Is My Life, scripted and directed by Nora Ephron, and the 2006 TV movie Surrender, Dorothy, starring Diane Keaton.The Uncoupling was the subject of the first coast-to-coast virtual book club discussion, via Skype.Wolitzer was born in Brooklyn, New York and grew up in the town of Syosset, on Long Island. She is the daughter of novelist Hilma Wolitzer. She lives in New York with her husband Richard Panek, also a writer, and two sons.

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