Science News This Week:
1) Experimental drug prolongs life span in mice:
Scientists newly identified a protein's key role in cell and physiological aging and have developed an experimental drug that inhibits the protein's effect and quadrupled the lifespan in a mouse model of accelerated aging. Their lungs and vascular system were protected from rapid aging. The experimental drug could potentially be used to treat human diseases that cause accelerated aging such as chronic kidney disease, diabetes and HIV infection and even extend someone's healthy life.
N0rthwestern Medicine® scientists have newly identified a protein's key role in cell and physiological aging and have developed -- in collaboration with Tohoku University in Japan -- an experimental drug that inhibits the protein's effect and prolonged the lifespan in a mouse model of accelerated aging.The rapidly aging mice fed the experimental drug lived more than four times longer than a control group, and their lungs and vascular system were protected from accelerated aging, the new study reports.
The experimental drug could potentially be used to treat human diseases that cause accelerated aging such as chronic kidney disease, diabetes and HIV infection as well as the effects of cigarette smoking."A drug like this could help reduce complications in clinical conditions that reflect accelerated aging," said Douglas Vaughan, M.D., senior author of the study. "This had a very robust effect in terms of prolonging life span."Vaughan is the chair of medicine and the Irving S. Cutter Professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and physician-in-chief at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
This is a completely different target and different drug than anything else being investigated for potential effects in prolonging life, Vaughan noted.While the experimental drug is in the early stages of testing, Vaughan said, "It makes sense that this might be one component of a cocktail of drugs or supplements that a person might take in the future to extend their healthy life."The study was published April 28 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.The experimental drug, TM5441, is one of only several chosen each year by the National Institute on Aging to be tested in its Interventions Testing Program, which investigates treatments with the potential to extend lifespan and delay disease in mice.The discovery is the result of 25 years of research by Vaughan's lab.
When cells or tissue age -- called senescence -- they lose the ability to regenerate and secrete certain proteins, like a distinctive fingerprint. One of those proteins, PAI-1 (plasminogen activator inhibitor) has been the focus of Vaughan's research, originally as it relates to cardiovascular disease."We made the intellectual leap between a marker of senescence and physiological aging," Vaughan said. "We asked is this marker for cell aging one of the drivers or mechanisms of rapid physiological aging?"
For the study, he and colleagues used mice bred to be deficient in a gene (Klotho) that suppresses aging. These mice exhibit accelerated aging in the form of arteriosclerosis, neurodegeneration, osteoporosis and emphysema and have much shorter life spans than regular mice. Vaughan determined that these rapidly aging mice produce increased levels of PAI-1 in their blood and tissue.Then scientists fed the rapidly aging mice TM5441 -- the experimental drug -- in their food every day. The result was a decrease in PAI-1 activity (the aging protein Vaughan's team had identified), which quadrupled the mice's life span and kept their organs healthy and functioning.Northwestern scientists also genetically produced the same life prolonging results when they crossed the mice deficient in the age-suppressing gene with mice deficient in PAI-1. Importantly, partial genetic deficiency of PAI-1 and the experimental PAI-1 antagonist produced provided similar benefits in the mice, Vaughan noted.
2) ‘Hidden dragon’ fossil is oldest flying reptile:
The pterodactyl Kryptodrakon progenitor lived 163 million years ago. Deep beneath an ash bed in an area of northwest China famed for its mud-filled “dinosaur death pits” that snared all sorts of prehistoric creatures, researchers have unearthed the oldest pterodactyl ever discovered.
Named Kryptodrakon progenitor, or “hidden serpent first-born” for its discovery near the filming site for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the ancient flying reptile lived about 163 million years ago. The new find pushes the fossil record for this type of pterosaur back more than five million years to the boundary between the middle and late Jurassic period.
Researchers pieced together fragile fossil fragments of Kryptodrakon’s spindly skeleton, which once belonged to an adult with a wingspan of 1.47 meters, about as long as a bicycle, Brian Andres of the University of South Florida in Tampa and colleagues report April 24 in Current Biology.
Though petite, this winged reptile is the ancestor of what would eventually become the largest flying animals ever to soar over the Earth.
3) 'Wimpy' dwarf fossil galaxy reveals new facts about early universe:
0ut on the edge of the universe, 75,000 light years from us, a galaxy known as Segue 1 has some unusual properties: It is the faintest galaxy ever detected. It is very small, containing only about 1,000 stars. And it has a rare chemical composition, with vanishingly small amounts of metallic elements present.Now a team of scientists, including an MIT astronomer, has analyzed that chemical composition and come away with new insights into the evolution of galaxies in the early stages of our universe -- or, in this case, into a striking lack of evolution in Segue 1. Commonly, stars form from gas clouds and then burn up as supernova explosions after about a billion years, spewing more of the elements that are the basis for a new generation of star formation.Not Segue 1: In contrast to all other galaxies, as the new analysis shows, it appears that Segue 1's process of star formation halted at what would normally be an early stage of a galaxy's development.
"It's chemically quite primitive," says Anna Frebel, an assistant professor of physics at MIT, and the lead author of a new paper detailing the new findings about Segue 1. "This indicates the galaxy never made that many stars in the first place. It is really wimpy. This galaxy tried to become a big galaxy, but it failed."But precisely because it has stayed in the same state, Segue 1 offers valuable information about the conditions of the universe in its early phases after the Big Bang."It tells us how galaxies get started," Frebel says. "It's really adding another dimension to stellar archaeology, where we look back in time to study the era of the first star and first galaxy formation."
Metal-poor stars: a telltale sign
The paper, "Segue 1: An Unevolved Fossil Galaxy from the Early Universe," has just been published by Astrophysical Journal. Along with Frebel, the co-authors of the paper are Joshua D. Simon, an astronomer with the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution, in Pasadena, Calif., and Evan N. Kirby, an astronomer at the University of California at Irvine.The analysis uses new data taken by the Magellan telescopes in Chile, as well as data from the Keck Observatory in Hawaii, pertaining to six red giant stars in Segue 1, the brightest ones in that galaxy. The astronomers are able to determine which elements are present in the stars because each element has a unique signature that becomes detectable in the telescope data.In particular, Segue 1 has stars that are distinctively poor in metal content. All of the elements in Segue 1 that are heavier than helium appear to have derived either from just one supernova explosion, or perhaps a few such explosions, which occurred relatively soon after the galaxy's formation. Then Segue 1 effectively shut down, in evolutionary terms, because it lost its gas due to the explosions, and stopped making new stars."It just didn't have enough gas, and couldn't collect enough gas to grow bigger and make stars, and as a consequence of that, make more of the heavy elements," Frebel says. Indeed, a run-of-the-mill galaxy will often contain 1 million stars; Segue 1 contains only about 1,000.The astronomers also found telling evidence in the lack of so-called "neutron-capture elements" -- those found in the bottom half of the periodic table, which are created in intermediate-mass stars. But in Segue 1, Frebel notes, "The neutron-capture elements in this galaxy are the lowest levels ever found." This, again, indicates a lack of repeated star formation.Indeed, Segue 1's static chemical makeup even sets it apart from other small galaxies that astronomers have found and analyzed."It is very different than these other regular dwarf-type galaxies that had full chemical evolution," Frebel says. "Those are just mini-galaxies, whereas [Segue 1 is] truncated. It doesn't show much evolution and just sits there.""We would like to find more"
Dwarf galaxies, astronomical modeling has found, appear to form building blocks for larger galaxies such as the Milky Way. The chemical analysis of Segue 1 sheds new light on the nature of those building blocks, as Frebel notes.Indeed, other astronomers suggest that the study of galaxies such as Segue 1 is a vital part of progress in the field. Volker Bromm, a professor of astronomy at the University of Texas, says the new paper is "very nice and important," and "substantiates the idea" that analyzing faint dwarf galaxies produces new insight into the universe's development.As Bromm points out, when it comes to the chemical composition of early stars, any search for clues among stars closer to us in the Milky Way can be problematic; most such stars have had "a very complex assembly and enrichment history, where many generations of supernovae contributed to the abundance patterns [of elements] seen in those stars." Dwarf galaxy stars do not come with that problem.The findings on Segue 1 also indicate that there may be a greater diversity of evolutionary pathways among galaxies in the early universe than had been thought. However, because it is only one example, Frebel is reluctant to make broad assertions."We would really need to find more of these systems," she notes. "Or, if we never find another one [like Segue 1], it would tell us how rare it is that galaxies fail in their evolution. We just don't know at this stage because this is the first of its kind."Frebel's work often focuses on analyzing the chemical composition of unusual stars closer to us. However, she says she would like to continue this kind of analysis for any other galaxies like Segue 1 that astronomers may find. That process could take a while; she acknowledges that any such future discoveries will require "patience, and a little luck."
4) Drug resistance has gone global, WHO says:
World Health Organization reports that antibiotics are failing worldwide against infections. Microbes resistant to frontline antibiotics are now widespread around the world, posing a risk that infections routinely vanquished by drugs in the past won’t be susceptible to them in the future. A World Health Organization report issued April 30 finds high resistance rates in diverse quarters against common microbes causing tuberculosis, pneumonia, diarrhea and infections of the blood, wounds and the urinary tract.
In addition to well-known staph, strep and E. coli bacteria, WHO cites increasing drug resistance in bacteria causing salmonella and gonorrhea as well as in nonbacterial agents that cause HIV and malaria.
Without concerted disease surveillance and collaboration to slow the spread of resistant microbes, the world is headed for a “post-antibiotic era,” warns Keiji Fukuda, WHO assistant director-general for health security.
WHO divides the globe into six regions. It found that five of the six had reported high rates of resistance in hospital-related cases of E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus. Drug-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae showed up in all six regions.
Antibiotic groups losing their punch include the penicillins, fluoroquinolones, cephalosporins and carbapenems. Resistance to drugs results in higher death rates from disease, longer hospital stays for those who survive and higher medical costs.
5) 'Off-the-shelf' equipment used to digitize insects in 3-D:
Scientists have developed a cost-effective, off-the-shelf system to obtain natural-color 3D models of insects, according to results published April 23, 2014, in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Chuong Nguyen from CSIRO in Australia, and colleagues. Scientists studying insects rely on collected specimens that are often shared between scientists through written descriptions, diagrams, and images. These 2D tools are important in understanding and sharing specimens, but they often lack the precise detail of the actual 3D specimen. The authors of this study, interested in understanding the feasibility of digitizing insects for research purposes, created a cost-effective prototype to produce 3D naturally colored digital models of medium-to-large insects (3 to 30mm in length), using off-the-shelf equipment and software. The prototype captures color images from different angles and focal depths using a digital single lens reflex camera and a two-axis turntable. These 2D images are then combined into 3D reconstructions.
The resulting 3D models are compact (around 10 megabytes each), have excellent optical resolution, and can be embedded into documents and web pages, as well as viewed on mobile devices. The authors suggest the system is portable, safe, relatively affordable, complements existing imaging techniques, and reduces the need to handle or ship delicate insect specimens. Furthermore, they hope that this technology opens new opportunities and applications for research data collection, education, art, entertainment, biodiversity assessment, and biosecurity control.
Dr. Nguyen added, "These 3D models represent high quality visualisations of physical specimens that will enable novel solutions to quickly extract, analyse and share rich information. The 3D models are of great value for biodiversity discovery, species identification, quarantine control, and unlocking big data in our biological collections."
6) Basel Egyptologists identify tomb of royal children:
Who had the privilege to spend eternal life next to the pharaoh? Close to the royal tombs in the Egyptian Valley of the Kings, excavations by Egyptologists from the University of Basel have identified the burial place of several children as well as other family members of two pharaohs. Basel Egyptologists of the University of Basel Kings' Valley Project have been working on tomb KV 40 in the Valley of the Kings close to the city of Luxor for three years. From the outside, only a depression in the ground indicated the presence of a subterranean tomb. Up to now, nothing was known about the layout of tomb KV 40 nor for whom it was build and who was buried there.The Egyptologists assumed that it was a non-royal tomb dating back to the 18th dynasty. They first cleared the six meter deep shaft which gives access to five subterranean chambers and then recovered the countless remains and fragments of funerary equipment.
Mummified royal children
The scientists discovered mummified remains of at least 50 people in the center chamber and in three side chambers. Based on inscriptions on storage jars, Egyptologists were able to identify and name over 30 people during this year's field season. Titles such as "Prince" and "Princess" distinguish the buried as members of the families of the two pharaohs Thutmosis IV and Amenhotep III who are also buried in the Valley of Kings. Both pharaohs belonged to the 18th dynasty (New Kingdom) and ruled in the 14th century BC.The analysis of the hieratic inscriptions (related to hieroglyphics) revealed that tomb KV 40 contains the mummified remains of at least 8 hitherto unknown royal daughters, four princes and several foreign ladies. Most of them were adults, however, mummified children were also found: "We discovered a remarkable number of carefully mummified new-borns and infants that would have normally been buried much simpler," describes Egyptologist Prof. Susanne Bickel the findings. "We believe that the family members of the royal court were buried in this tomb for a period of several decades."The identification of people buried in the proximity of the royal tombs gives the team of researchers important insight into who had the privilege to spend eternal life close to the pharaoh. "Roughly two thirds of the tombs in the Kings' Valley are non-royal. Because the tombs do not have inscriptions and have been heavily plundered we so far have only been able to speculate on who lies buried in them," explains Susanne Bickel in regard to the importance of the findings for the field of Egyptology.
Remains of later burials
Even though the tomb was looted several times in Antiquity as well as at the end of the 19th century, the researchers found countless fragments of funerary equipment, such as fragments of coffins and textiles. "The remains and the walls have been heavily affected by a fire that was most likely ignited by the torches of the tomb raiders," suspects Susanne Bickel. The fragments of various wooden and cartonnage coffins indicate that tomb KV 40 was used a second time as a burial ground: long after the abandonment of the valley as royal necropolis, members of priestly families of the 9th century BC were interred here.Anthropological analyses as well as further examination on the burial goods will deliver important insight into the composition of the pharaonic court of the 18th dynasty as well as the conditions of life and the burial customs of its members.
Movie Release This Week:
We've always known that Spider-Man's most important battle has been within himself: the struggle between the ordinary obligations of Peter Parker and the extraordinary responsibilities of Spider-Man. But in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker finds that a greater conflict lies ahead.
It's great to be Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield). For Peter Parker, there's no feeling quite like swinging between skyscrapers, embracing being the hero, and spending time with Gwen (Emma Stone). But being Spider-Man comes at a price: only Spider-Man can protect his fellow New Yorkers from the formidable villains that threaten the city. With the emergence of Electro (Jamie Foxx), Peter must confront a foe far more powerful than he. And as his old friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), returns, Peter comes to realize that all of his enemies have one thing in common: OsCorp.
In the harsh, wintry woods of rural Quebec, Bruce (Academy Award-nominee Thomas Haden Church), a down-on-his-luck snowplow operator, accidentally kills a man during a drunken night joyride. Stricken with panic, he hides the body and takes to the deep wilderness in hopes of outrunning both the authorities and his own conscience. But as both begin to close in, Bruce falls apart mentally and morally and mysteries unravel to reveal who he was before the accident, the truth behind his victim, and the circumstances that brought them together in a single moment. A darkly comic noir in the vein of the Coen Brothers, Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais's Whitewash is a gripping exploration of a well-meaning Everyman at the end of his rope.
The outrageous comedy Walk of Shame stars Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games, Pitch Perfect) as a resourceful reporter whose one-night stand with a handsome stranger (James Marsden of Anchorman 2) leaves her stranded the next morning in downtown Los Angeles without a phone, car, ID, or money - and only 8 hours before the most important job interview of her career. From Lakeshore Entertainment and Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, Walk of Shame also stars Gillian Jacobs (Community), Sarah Wright Olsen, Kevin Nealon, Ethan Suplee, Bill Burr, and Willie Garson (White Collar). Written and directed by Steven Brill, the movie is produced by Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi, and Sidney Kimmel. The executive producers are Eric Reid, Ted Gidlow, Jim Tauber, Bruce Toll, Matt Berenson, and Peter Schlessel.
Annie Parkerhas a personal relationship with breast cancer. Her mother and her sister died of the disease and ultimately she is diagnosed with it too. Naturally affable with an offbeat sense of humor – even in the face of her own mortality, she struggles to hold her family and life together, as her body betrays her.
Meanwhile, geneticist Mary-Claire King is convinced there is a link between DNA and cancer – even if no one in her profession shares her belief. Against the advice of nearly all of her colleagues, she persists in her research and her dogged pursuit for funding that will lead to the groundbreaking study that will join the two women together.
Poland, 1962. Anna is a novice, an orphan brought up by nuns in a convent. Before she takes her vows, she is determined to see Wanda, her only living relative. Wanda tells Anna that Anna is Jewish. Both women embark on a journey not only to discover their tragic family story, but who they really are and where they belong, questioning their religions and beliefs.
Political news of this week:
1) Chennai train blasts were not targeted at any political figure':
Twin blasts were reported at the Chennai central railway station on Thursday morning.One person has been reported killed and 12 others are injured, two critically. The deceased was identified as 22-year-old Swati from Guntur.
Eyewitnesses said they heard two explosions on coaches S4 and S4 of the Bangalore-Guwahati Kaziranga express as it arrived at the Chennai railway station.The train arrived at 7.05 am and the explosions took place at 7.15 am. The train was on its way to Guwahati.One suspect who had been detained following the twin blasts may be released.
The Railways has announced a solatium of Rs 1 lakh for the deceased and Rs 25,000 for seriously injured and Rs 5,000 for those who have sustained minor injuriesThe entire area is being sanitised.Intelligence Bureau officials have confirmed that the blasts at Chennai were an act of terror.Without naming any group, IB sources informed that going by the bomb composition and the manner in which they had been placed it was clear that the attack was aimed at killing more than one person and hence classifies as a terror act.Investigations into Thursday’s blasts at Chennai Central railways station suggest the involvement to two persons. One of them used a fake name, Raman, to book the tickets. The police say he is not an Indian national and the blast was not targeted at any political figure.The police suspect the involvement of a Bangladeshi national and a Sri Lankan.
Both the Intelligence Bureau and police officials rule out that the train had more explosives that were being transported to some destination. The intent was to carry out a blast at a railway station and cause panic while making an announcement that a strike could occur any time.The police say the bomb seems to have been packed in a pipe. Pipe bombs have been used regularly in Tamil Nadu. They were used in the blast before BJP leader L K Advani’s rally and in the Coimbatore blast.
2) India test-fires Akash surface-to-air missile:
successfully test fired indigenously-developed surface-to-air Akash missile with a strike range of 25 km and capability to carry warhead of 60 kg from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur as part of a user-trial.
Describing the launch as successful, Defence sources said that the sophisticated missile was test fired at about 10.58 hours from launch complex-3 of the Interim Test Range.
"The mission was successful. The trial was conducted by Indian Air Force personnel," ITR Director M V K V Prasad said.Akash, which aimed at a para-barrel target during the trial, is a medium range surface-to-air anti-aircraft defence system developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation as part of the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme.The missile has the capability to target aircraft up to 30 km away and is packed with a battery that can track and attack several targets simultaneously, the sources said.With the capability to neutralise aerial targets like fighter jets, cruise missiles and air-to-surface missiles, Defence experts compared Akash to the American MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile system.While the Air-force version of Akash has already been inducted into the armed forces, the Army version is in the final stage of induction, the sources said.The missile was last test fired from the same base on April 26, 2014.
3) Lok Sabha polls: Moderate to high turnout in seventh phase of voting:
Moderate to high turnout marked the polling on Wednesday in the seventh phase of Lok Sabha elections on a day when Narendra Modi sparked a major controversy by violating the election law by making a speech and displaying BJP's poll symbol in a booth.The fate of some of the top guns of Congress, including Sonia Gandhi, and BJP like Modi, L K Advani, Rajnath Singh and Murli Manohar Joshi and Arun Jaitley were decided in the seventh round that covered 89 constituencies across seven states and two union territories.The whole of Gujarat with 26 seats and Punjab with 13 seats were among the constituencies which went to polls today in which 13.83 crore voters were eligible to exercise their franchise.While Punjab recorded a turnout of 73 per cent, the day's second highest after 81.35 per cent in nine seats in West Bengal, Gujarat witnessed a 62 per cent turnout, a quantum jump from 47.92 percent in the last Lok Sabha polls.
In Gujarat, BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and party veteran L K Advani were among the early voters in Gandhinagar.However, in an embarrassment for Modi, he violated election laws by displaying BJP's poll symbol 'Lotus' and making a speech after casting his vote in a booth in Gandhinagar, after which an FIR was registered against him by police following a directive of the Election Commission.Vadodara constituency in Gujarat, where Modi is contesting LS poll for the first time, saw a turnout of 70 per cent. He is pitted against Madhusudan Mistry of Congress.
In Punjab, clashes erupted between Akali Dal and Congress workers in Moga, Khadoor Sahib and Amritsar, leaving 15 people injured.Among the riveting contests in the state is that between BJP's Arun Jaitley, also making his debut in Lok Sabha poll, and senior Congress leader Amarinder Singh in Amritsar. Ambika Soni, who too is contesting her first national elections, is in fray from Anandpur Sahib.An estimated 70 per cent of the voters exercised their franchise in Telangana to elect its 119 representatives to the proposed state's first assembly and 17 representatives to Lok Sabha.Uttar Pradesh saw a turnout of 57.10 per cent in 14 seats where SP, BSP, Congress and BJP are locked in a bitter battle to establish supremacy. Congress, which had done quite well in this region last time, may find the going tough this time but Sonia Gandhi appears comfortably placed to win from Rae Bareli for a third consecutive term.
Polling in seven constituencies in Bihar, crucial for RJD, BJP and JD(U) whose chief Sharad Yadav is in fray from Madhepura, saw a turnout of 60 per cent.JD(U), which broke ties with BJP in the state on Modi as PM issue, finds an uphill task this time, according to ground reports.Jammu and Kashmir's Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency, where union minister and NC leader Farooq Abdullah is in fray, saw a turnout of 25.62 per cent, the lowest in today's exercise.The seventh round saw completion of polling in 438 of the total of 543 constituencies. The exercise was already over in 349 constituencies in the first six phases. Voting in the remaining 105 constituencies will he held on May 7 (64 seats) and May 12 (41) before counting of votes is taken on up on May 16.
4) Curfew remains in force in Kashmir valley:
Curfew remained in force on Thursday in parts of Kashmir valley as a preventive measure to maintain law and order after a youth was killed when security forces allegedly opened fire to chase away stone-pelting protesters.
"Curfew has been imposed in eight police station areas of the Srinagar city," a spokesman of the district administration said in Srinagar.It was in force in all the police station areas of the interior city and Maisuma near the city centre, he said, adding curfew was clamped as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order.Police and paramilitary CRPF have been deployed in large numbers, and the security forces have erected barricades at many places within the city.
On Wednesday, a 24-year-old youth Bashir Ahmad Bhat was killed and two others were injured when security forces allegedly opened fire to chase away stone-pelting protesters in Nawa Kadal area when security forces were being withdrawn after the poll duty.Meanwhile, life in other parts of Kashmir valley was disrupted due to a strike call by the separatist groups to protest against the killing.Both factions of the Hurriyat Conference and pro-freedom Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front have given a general strike call while condemning Bhat's killing.
Shops and business establishments remained shut in most district headquarters, while educational institutions and government offices saw thin attendance, officials said, adding public transport were also off the roads and only private cars, cabs and auto-rickshaws were seen plying.Kashmir University has also postponed all the examinations that were scheduled today in view of the curfew and strike call.Opposition PDP also cancelled all its scheduled political activity for today in Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency due to the prevailing situation, a spokesman of the party said
5) Defiant militia strike again in Ukraine:
The spiralling crisis in Ukraine has resulted in Russia and the United States stepping up the rhetoric as defiant pro-Russian militant took control of key buildings in the country's chaotic east. Pro-Russia rebels, led by a heavily armed mob, took control of the police station in Lugansk after a stand-off with tear gas and shots fired.
Police tried to hold off an angry mob of some 1,000 demonstrators with grenades and tear gas but eventually turned over their headquarters and weapons to the rebels.The building in Ukraine's Donetsk region is the latest to fall under the control of pro-Russian militants.A pro-Russian activist holds a mace outside the regional government headquarters in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine. Hundreds of pro-Russian separatists seized the regional government headquarters in Luhansk on Tuesday, unopposed by police, underlining the lack of control of central government over swathes of eastern Ukraine
6) Seemandhra face-off: Naidu vs Jaganmohan:
Lok Sabha and assembly polls on May 7 in Seemandhra seem to have narrowed down to a N Chandrababu Naidu versus Y S Jaganmohan Reddy fight, with the TDP chief seeking a comeback while the YSRC supremo is looking to expand his party's footprint in the political arena.
Reflecting the national pattern of general elections being a Narendra Modi versus Rahul Gandhi fight, Seemandhra -- which represents regions of Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra -- is witnessing a direct battle of personalities with respective parties having taken a back seat in the run-up to the polls.
Post bifurcation, the two "chief minister hopefuls" are projecting themselves as the lone constructive leader in rebuilding residual Andhra Pradesh.While Naidu is seeking a sixth straight term from Kuppam assembly seat, which he has been winning since 1989, Jaganmohan is contesting from Pulivendla assembly segment.TDP spokesperson Kodela Shiva Prasad Rao, also a close aide of the party chief, admits that the election scenario in Seemandhra region has become a virtual fight between Naidu and Jaganmohan."People believe that Andhra Pradesh can only prosper under Naidu and his contributions to Hyderabad stand as a classic example," he says.Congress and its leaders are understood to be facing a tough time in Seemandhra as many locals term "unilateral" the division of Andhra Pradesh by the ruling party at the Centre. A total of 333 candidates are in the fray for 25 Lok Sabha seats and 2,243 for 175 assembly seats in Seemandhra.The 64-year-old Naidu, a former chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, is credited with bringing in global IT giants to set up shop in Hyderabad while Jaganmohan, 41, is seen as carving out his own niche even as he seeks to continue his father and former Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy's legacy.
7) Digvijaya admits to relationship with journalist Amrita Rai:
Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh on Wednesday admitted to his relationship with Rajya Sabha TV anchor Amrita Rai.
Some intimate photos showing the former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and the TV journalist were leaked on the Internet and went viral.Singh tweeted on Wednesday, “I have no hesitation in accepting my relationship with Amrita Rai. She and her husband have already filed a mutual consent divorce case”.
He also tweeted, “Once that is decided we would formalise it. But I do condemn encroachment in our private life.”Meanwhile, Rai had alleged that her computer had been hacked.She tweeted, “I have separated from my husband and we have filed a mutual consent divorce papers. After which I have decided to marry with Digvijaya Singh”.Meanwhile, social media circles are abuzz with ‘digs’ at Digvijaya. Here are a few examples:
@SirJadeja: That awkward moment when you realise even Digvijay Singh has a girlfriend but you don't.
@suhelseth: What diet are the Congress old fogeys on? Diggy, ND TIWARI and so on? They should be on India's Old have Talent!, and, 'Karan JOHAR announces: Diggiwale Dulhaniya Le Gaye Hain'.
@lindsaypereira: Must give credit to #DigVijaySingh and Amrita Rai for admitting to a relationship. Others refuse to acknowledge their wives for decades.
8) Fresh FIR filed against hawala accused in centre of CD storm:
Days after he became famous after pictures of him with Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi were released, the Enforcement Directorate has filed a fresh First Information Report against Afroz Fatta, who was arrested last month in Surat in connection with an alleged hawala racket to the tune of Rs 700 crore, on money laundering charges.
Sources said Fatta, who was summoned by the ED, appeared before officials in Surat on Tuesday has not been cooperative in the investigations and no clean chit has been given to him by the ED as of now.
Fatta was arrested in Surat on March 21 on the charge of transferring money outside India on fake bills of importing diamonds. Earlier, the ED had registered a case under the Foreign Exchange Management Act. Now another FIR has been filed under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, sources said.
On Monday, the Congress had released a photo of Fatta with Modi and alleged a nexus between the two. The BJP rejected any links between them and hit back by circulating a photograph of Fatta with Mohammed Azharuddin, the Congress candidate from Tonk-Sawai Madhopur.
SP0RTS NEWS THIS WEEK:
SP0RTS NEWS THIS WEEK:
1) VVS Laxman’s words inspired Irfan Pathan to produce a match-winning performance against MI:
Irfan Pathan cannot contain his excitement after getting rid of Kieron PollardLeft-arm seamer Irfan Pathan says that the words from his team mentor VVS laxman inspired him to produce a match-winning performance for Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in their Indian Premier League (IPL) match against Mumbai Indians (MI) on 30th April.
“Today, I had a good chat with Laxman bhai before the game. He said, ‘No matter what you do outside the park, you need that fire and aggression between the 22 yards; that’s what counts’. That struck me. His words have always helped me out and they did today again,” Irfan said after the game last night.
Pathan’s impressive figures of 2 for 10 ensured a stunning win for Sunrisers Hyderabad. Pathan feels that this performance will inspire him to do better in the coming matches.
“I didn’t bowl much in the previous games and I thought I might not bowl even today. But then, Pollard got going and that gave me an opportunity to bowl. This performance is going to take me a long way in the tournament. Coming back from injury is never easy, but when you start giving performances like this, the process of regaining your rhythm gets faster,” he was quoted as saying by IPLT20.com.Irfan seems very much positive about making a comeback into the Indian team. “I am a bowler and I know what I am capable of doing. To be a bowler, you have to have that fire. If you don’t have it, you might as well just go and bat. I understand that you must earn the trust of your captain and show that you are improving continuously.”Irfan was satisfied that his yorkers landed on the right spot during his crucial spell, especially with Kieron Pollard at the crease.
“There were a couple of people like Shikhar and Sammy who wanted to tell me things and help me form plans. But I tried to keep my head clear. Then Steyn came to me and said, ‘Whatever you do, just make sure you focus all your energy in that’.“Also, after Steyn bowled the 18th over, Shikhar told me I will be bowling the final over. That gave me the time to get prepared mentally. I decided to go with a clear plan of bowling the best yorkers I could and leave the rest to the batsman. Fortunately, most of the balls pitched nearly there and thereabout.”Irfan Pathan said that with Mumbai needing 20 runs in the final over, getting Pollard out first ball made it much easier for him.
“They needed 20 runs from the last over, but guys like Pollard need just three balls to get 18 runs. Getting him out the first ball made the remaining five balls much easier.
“However, they could win it with a couple of sixes and fours and so I knew it wasn’t finished. But yes, with Pollard’s wicket, I thought the job was half done.”
2) Cricket: Australia reclaim top Test ranking:
Australia have reclaimed the number one Test ranking for the first time in five years following their Ashes whitewash of England and a series defeat of South Africa.
Australia also remain the top-rated one day international side in the latest official rankings from the International Cricket Council (ICC).
It is the first time since December 2008 that Australia have been ranked number one in Tests and ODIs at the same time. They last held the top Test ranking in August 2009, when they were displaced after losing the Ashes 2-1 to England.Darren Lehmann's Australians nudged out South Africa, who had held the top Test spot since August 2012.
Australia gained eight ratings points to move up from 115 to 123 points to be equal with South Africa, who dropped from 127, but Australia moved ahead by a fraction of a point.
England are currently third, ahead of Pakistan and India.Australia captain Michael Clarke said he was delighted with the turnaround in his team's fortunes.
"We are incredibly proud to be the number-one ranked team in the world in both Test and ODI cricket, which are two of the team's most important goals," Clarke said.
"There has been an enormous amount of hard work and effort on and off the field that has led to this result.
"However, the true test of a great side is sustained success and now our goal is to maintain these rankings and continue to play great cricket as we lead into challenging Test series against Pakistan and India, and the ICC Cricket World Cup at home."Lehmann has turned around the fortunes of the Australian Test and one-day sides following a tumultuous period in which coach Mickey Arthur was sacked.After losing the 2013 Ashes series 3-0 in England, Australia swept their return home series against England 5-0 during the last southern summer.They then scored an impressive 2-1 away series win over South Africa.
3) Mourinho rues crucial minute after semi-final defeat:
Chelsea's Champions League semi-final defeat by Atletico Madrid hinged on a pivotal second-half minute and the expertise of a young goalkeeper on loan from the Premier League club to the Spanish side, Jose Mourinho said on Wednesday.
Atletico beat Chelsea 3-1 to set up a final against city rivals real Madrid after coming back from a goal down at Stamford Bridge.
Atletico equalised just before halftime and Belgium goalkeeper Thibault Courtois, on loan from Chelsea, showed lightning reactions to keep out a John Terry header on the hour.Less than a minute later Chelsea striker Samuel Eto'o brought down Diego Costa in the area and the Atletico forward converted the subsequent penalty.
"The difference was one minute in the second half where a goalkeeper makes an impossible save and instead of 2-1 for Chelsea there was a penalty...and after that it was 2-1 for Atletico. And that completely changed the game," Chelsea's Portuguese coach told reporters.
Mourinho, who won the Champions League with Porto and Inter Milan, suffered three successive semi-final defeats with Real Madrid before rejoining Chelsea at the start of the season.In his first spell as Chelsea coach from 2004 to 2007 he took them to the semi-finals twice and lost on both occasions.
"These matches are normally decided by details and that minute had two details - the save was amazing - and the penalty," Mourinho said.
"I think that minute was crucial - after that Atletico had complete control. We had the feeling that the game was lost, they had for sure the feeling of much more confidence. They played very well - a very mature performance and I congratulate them," he added.Mourinho felt the difference between his side and Atletico was that Diego Simeone had been building the Spanish league leaders for three years and he had been back at Chelsea only one season.
"It's the difference between one year and three and it's a big difference...they are a very good side, very adapted to the ideas of this manager every player fits his idea of how to play," he said.
4) Anti-racism campaign was planned for Neymar:
FC Barcelona's Neymar, from Brazil, right, and Daniel Alves, from Brazil, arrive for a religious ceremony at Barcelona Cathedral for late former FC Barcelona's coach Tito Vilanova in Barcelona, Spain, Monday, April 28, 2014. FC Barcelona announced on their web page Friday April 25, 2014, that Vilanova had died Friday following a long battle with throat cancer. He was 45.
5) China reaches World TT quarters:
The Chinese men's table tennis team, the defending champions, whitewashed Serbia 3-0 in their final group match to reach the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Team Table Tennis Championships here Thursday.Chinese team captain Ma Long thrashed Marko Jevtovic in three games 11-2, 11-5, 11-6 to give China the early lead, reports Xinhua.
Wang Hao, who has only made one appearance for China in the previous four group matches, then beat Bojan Crepulja, also in three games.
Xu Xin put the result beyond Serbia defeating Zolt Pete 11-9, 11-2 and 11-6.
The defending champions won all their five group matches 3-0 and became the first team to reach the quarterfinals.
Book of This Week:
Pather Panchali (novel)
ABOUT THE NOVEL
The novel pather panchali(THE SONG OF THE ROAD) has been divided into three sub-parts- ballali balai, aam aatir vepu, and akrur sanbad. The story line of the novel is very simple: the common things that happen in a poor village family; but it’s the description given by the author, the beautiful use of language and the wonderfully described truth of poorness, is what makes this novel unique…
SOME OF THE MAJOR CHARACTERS
Harihar Ray: a poor Brahmin of Nishchindipur village.
Sorbajaya: Harihar’s wife,over conscious of her self respect and a fond mother…
Durga: Harihar’s eldest daughter. She had the bad habit of stealing and lying, for which she had been punished many times. Nevertheless she was an extremely loving sister.
Opu: well he is the prime character of this novel. He is harihars younger son, extremely fond of his sister and mother.
Indir thakrun: A distant old cousin of harihars.
Sejo thakrun, ranu, sotu, potu etc: neighbours of the ray family at nishchindipur.
Well in the first part, the story evolves round the tragic life led by Indir thakrun. Indir thakrun(now a widow) was a victim of the ballali system(i.e. a Brahmin man had many wives but did not accept their responsibilities.After marriage the wives had to stay at their father’s house and not at their husband’s house) that prevailed in Bengal at that time .She is dependent on Harihar and has no other living relation, but Sorbojaya could not tolerate her. Durga was really close to her aunt and this made Sorbojaya even more furious. Many times they quarreled and finally one day Indir thakrun decided to go away but after some months she came back…and now Sorbojaya turned her out of her house again.Indir thakrun really felt helpless and didn’t know where to go,when on the road she died….
Aam Aatir Vepu
This part depicts the growing stage in Opu and Durga’s life. They are both good looking (especially Opu) and are fond of each other. Imaginative Opu’s feelings have been mostly potrayed in this part.It depicts incidents like: Opu-Durga getting lost while searching for railway tracks, their secret picnics, Durga getting beaten by her mother and once by sejo thakrun for stealing things from sejo thakrun’s house, opu’s dream of flying,etc..But the most tragic thing that takes place here is Durga’s death:she had been suffering for quite a long time from malaria and soon after recovery she died because of heart fail…Harihar was not present at the time of Durga’s death and when he came back after a long time,he decided to take his family to Kashi, where(Harihar thought) they had hopes of a better future…Opu was not willing to leave his lovely village, his friends,ranudi,potu,etc., the trees, their house.. and the memories of his sister….but he was forced to……
In Kashi, Harihar’s prospects did not improve at all…and after some months there Harihar also died.Sorbojaya didn’t have enough money.. and she could not go back to Nishchindipur(because her self respect stopped her…),so she took up a job as a cook in a rich family. She and Opu were not at all happy there but what could they do??? Well here Opu found a new friend Leela, a girl of the family where Sorbojaya worked, but soon enough she also went away to some other place and again Opu was left alone…Once after being mercilessly flogged by the head of the family where they lived,Opu’s mother proposed that they should go back to Nishchindipur…This aroused a new light of hope in Opu.He has always felt that Nishchindipur has been calling out to him and now he prayed to God that he must send them back to Nishchindipur,to where they belonged…But the god of the road answered him that he did not bring them all this long way just to send them back…..Opu’s journey has just begun and he has a long way to go…..And here ends the SONG OF THE ROAD…
Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay (September 12, 1894 – November 1, 1950) was an Indian Bengali author and one of the leading writers of modern Bengali literature. His best known work is the autobiographical novel, Pather Panchali (The Song of the Road), which was later adapted (along with Aparajito, the sequel) into the Apu Trilogy films, directed by Satyajit Ray.
The 1951 Rabindra Puraskar, the most prestigious literary award in the West Bengal state of India, was posthumously awarded to Bibhutibhushan for his novel, Ichhamati.
Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay's works are largely set in rural Bengal, with characters from that area. Many of his novels are set in the city of Bongaon, including Pather Panchali, Adarsha Hindu Hotel, Ichamati and Bipiner Sansar.
In 1921, Bibhutibhushan's first published short story, "Upekshita," appeared in Probashi, at the time one of Bengal's leading literary magazines. However, it was not until 1928, when his first novel Pather Panchali (also known in English as Song of the Little Road) was published, that Bibhutibhushan received critical attention. Pather Panchali brought Bibhutibhushan to prominence in Bengali literature and the novel and its sequel Aparajito, were subsequently translated into numerous languages.Additionally, these two were made into films by Satyajit Ray and, together with Apur Sansar, formed the highly successful Apu Trilogy.
Ray referred scriptwriting students to the author with the following line of praise for the author's skill with written dialogue: "His lines fit the characters so well, they are so revealing that even when the author provides no physical description, every character seems to present itself before us simply through the words it speaks.