Science News This Week:
1) First diplodocid sauropod from South America found:
The discovery of a new sauropod dinosaur species, Leinkupal laticauda, found in Argentina may be the first record of a diplodocid from South America and the youngest record of Diplodocidae in the world.
The discovery of a new sauropod dinosaur species, Leinkupal laticauda, found in Argentina may be the first record of a diplodocid from South America and the youngest record of Diplodocidae in the world, according to results published May 14, 2014, in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Pablo Gallina and colleagues from the Fundación Azara (Universidad Maimónides), and Museo E. Bachmann, in Argentina.Diplodocids are part of a group of sauropod dinosaurs known for their large bodies, as well as extremely long necks and tails. Scientists have identified a new diplodocid sauropod from the early Cretaceous period in Patagonia, Argentina -- the first diplodocid sauropod discovered in South America.Though the bones are fragmentary, scientists found differences between this species and other diplodocid species from North American and Africa in the vertebrae where the tail connects to the body.
These differences suggest to the authors that it may warrant a new species name, Leinkupal laticauda.Additionally, since Leinkupal laticauda apparently lived much later than its North American and African cousins, its existence suggests that the supposed extinction of the Diplodocidae around the end of the Jurassic or beginning of the Cretaceous period didn't occur globally, but that the clade survived in South America at least during part of the Early Cretaceous.
2) How cone snail venom minimizes pain:
The venom from marine cone snails, used to immobilize prey, contains numerous peptides called conotoxins, some of which can act as painkillers in mammals. Researchers provide new insight into the mechanisms by which one conotoxin, Vc1.1, inhibits pain.
The venom from marine cone snails, used to immobilize prey, contains numerous peptides called conotoxins, some of which can act as painkillers in mammals. A recent study in The Journal of General Physiology provides new insight into the mechanisms by which one conotoxin, Vc1.1, inhibits pain. The findings help explain the analgesic powers of this naturally occurring toxin and could eventually lead to the development of synthetic forms of Vc1.1 to treat certain types of neuropathic pain in humans.
Neuropathic pain, a form of chronic pain that occurs in conjunction with injury to -- or dysfunction of -- the nervous system, can be debilitating and difficult to treat, and the medical community is eager to find better methods to minimize what can be a serious condition. Neuropathic pain is associated with changes in the transmission of signals between neurons, a process that depends on several types of voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs). However, given the importance of these VGCCs in mediating normal neurotransmission, using them as a pharmacological target against neuropathic pain could potentially lead to undesirable side effects.
In previous studies, David Adams and colleagues from RMIT University in Melbourne showed that Vc1.1 acted against neuropathic pain in mice; they found that, rather than acting directly to block VGCCs, Vc1.1 acts through GABA type B (GABAB) receptors to inhibit N-type (Cav2.2) channels.Now, Adams and colleagues show that Vc1.1 also acts through GABAB receptors to inhibit a second, mysterious class of neuronal VGCCs that have been implicated in pain signaling but have not been well understood -- R-type (Cav2.3) channels. Their new findings not only help solve the mystery of Cav2.3 function, but identify them as targets for analgesic conotoxins.
3) Antidepressant may slow Alzheimer's disease:
A commonly prescribed antidepressant can reduce production of the main ingredient in Alzheimer's brain plaques, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of Pennsylvania. The findings, in mice and people, are published May 14 in Science Translational Medicine. They support preliminary mouse studies that evaluated a variety of antidepressants.
Brain plaques are tied closely to memory problems and other cognitive impairments caused by Alzheimer's disease. Stopping plaque buildup may halt the disastrous mental decline caused by the disorder.The scientists found that the antidepressant citalopram stopped the growth of plaques in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. And in young adults who were cognitively healthy, a single dose of the antidepressant lowered by 37 percent the production of amyloid beta, the primary ingredient in plaques.
Although the findings are encouraging, the scientists caution that it would be premature for people to take antidepressants solely to slow the development of Alzheimer's disease"Antidepressants appear to be significantly reducing amyloid beta production, and that's exciting," said senior author John Cirrito, PhD, assistant professor of neurology at Washington University. "But while antidepressants generally are well tolerated, they have risks and side effects. Until we can more definitively prove that these drugs help slow or stop Alzheimer's in humans, the risks aren't worth it. There is still much more work to do."Amyloid beta is a protein produced by normal brain activity. Levels of this protein rise in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's, causing it to clump together into plaques. Plaques also are sometimes present in cognitively normal brains.
Cirrito's earlier research had shown that serotonin, a chemical messenger in the brain, reduces amyloid beta production. First author Yvette Sheline, MD, also has linked treatment with antidepressants to reduced plaque levels in cognitively healthy individuals.Most antidepressants keep serotonin circulating in the brain, so this led Cirrito and Sheline to wonder whether the drugs block the increase of amyloid beta levels and slow the progression of Alzheimer's.
In 2011, the researchers tested several antidepressants in young mice genetically altered to develop Alzheimer's disease as they aged. In these mice, which had not yet developed brain plaques, antidepressants reduced amyloid beta production by an average of 25 percent after 24 hoursFor the new study, the team gave citalopram to older mice with brain plaques. Jin-Moo Lee, MD, PhD, professor of neurology, used a technique called two-photon imaging to track the growth of Alzheimer's-like plaques in the mice for 28 days. Giving the mice the antidepressant stopped the growth of existing plaques and reduced the formation of new plaques by 78 percent.In a second experiment, the scientists gave a single dose of citalopram to 23 people ages 18 to 50 who were not cognitively impaired or depressed. Samples of spinal fluid taken from the participants over the next 24 hours showed a 37 percent drop in amyloid beta production.Now the researchers are trying to learn the molecular details of how serotonin affects amyloid beta production in mouse models."We also plan to study older adults who will be treated for two weeks with antidepressants," said Sheline, who is now at the University of Pennsylvannia. "If we see a drop in levels of amyloid beta in their spinal fluid after two weeks, then we will know that this beneficial reduction in amyloid beta is sustainable."
4) Possible new plan of attack for opening, closing blood-brain barrier:
Like a bouncer at an exclusive nightclub, the blood-brain barrier allows only select molecules to pass from the bloodstream into the fluid that bathes the brain. Vital nutrients get in; toxins and pathogens are blocked. The barrier also ensures that waste products are filtered out of the brain and whisked away.The blood-brain barrier helps maintain the delicate environment that allows the human brain to thrive. There's just one problem: The barrier is so discerning, it won't let medicines pass through. Researchers haven't been able to coax it to open up because they don't know enough about how the barrier forms or functions.
Now, a team from Harvard Medical School has identified a gene in mice, Mfsd2a, that may beresponsible for limiting the barrier's permeability -- and the molecule it produces, Mfsd2a, works in a way few researchers expected."Right now, 98 percent of small-molecule drugs and 100 percent of large-molecule drugs and antibodies can't get through the blood-brain barrier," said Chenghua Gu, associate professor of neurobiology at HMS and senior author of the study. "Less than 1 percent of pharmaceuticals even try to target the barrier, because we don't know what the targets are. Mfsd2a could be one."Most attempts to understand and manipulate blood-brain barrier function have focused on tight junctions, seals that prevent all but a few substances from squeezing between barrier cells. Gu and her team discovered that Mfsd2a appears to instead affect a second barrier-crossing mechanism that has received much less attention, transcytosis, a process in which substances are transported through the barrier cells in bubbles called vesicles. Transcytosis occurs frequently at other sites in the body but is normally suppressed at the blood-brain barrier. Mfsd2a may be one of the suppressors.
"It's exciting because this is the first molecule identified that inhibits transcytosis," said Gu. "It opens up a new way of thinking about how to design strategies to deliver drugs to the central nervous system."
Because Mfsd2a has a human equivalent, blocking its activity in people could allow doctors to open the blood-brain barrier briefly and selectively to let in drugs to treat life-threatening conditions such as brain tumors and infections.Conversely, because researchers have begun to link blood-brain barrier degradation to several brain diseases, boosting Mfsd2a or Mfsd2a could allow doctors to strengthen the barrier and perhaps alleviate diseases such as Alzheimer's, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and multiple sclerosis. The findings may also have implications for other areas of the body that rely on transcytosis, such as the retina and kidney.
The study was published May 14 in Nature.
Back to the beginning
As developmental biologists, Gu and her colleagues believed watching the barrier develop in young organisms would reveal molecules important for its formation and function.The team introduced a small amount of dye into the blood of embryonic mice at different stages of development and watched whether it leaked through the walls of the tiny capillaries of the mice's brains, suggesting that the blood-brain barrier hadn't formed yet, or stayed contained within the capillaries, indicating that the barrier was doing its job. This allowed them to define a time window during which the barrier was being built.
The team was able to do this by devising a new dye injection technique. Researchers studying blood-brain barrier leakage in adult organisms can inject dye directly into blood vessels, but the capillaries of embryos are too small and delicate. Instead, researchers typically inject dye into the heart. However, according to Gu, this can raise blood pressure and burst brain capillaries, making it difficult to tell whether leakage is due to blood-brain barrier immaturity or the dye procedure itself. She and her team used theirvascular biology expertise to identify an alternate injection site that would avoid such artifacts: the liver."This allowed us to provide definitive evidence that the blood-brain barrier comes into play during embryonic development," said Ayal Ben-Zvi, a postdoctoral researcher in the Gu lab and first author of the study. "That changes our understanding of the development of the brain itself."
Now that they knew when the barrier formed in the mice, the team compared endothelial cells -- the cells that line blood vessel walls and help form the blood-brain barrier -- from peripheral blood vessels and cortical (brain) vessels and looked for differences in gene expression. They made a list of genes that were expressed only in the cortical endothelial cells. From thatlist, they validated about a dozen invivo.The team could have studied any of the genes first, but they were most intrigued by Mfsd2a because of its expression pattern. In addition to being switched on in brain vessels, it was active in the placenta and testis, two other organs that have barrier-type functions. Also, the gene is shared across vertebrate organisms that have blood-brain barriers, including humans.Gu and the team then conducted experiments in mice that lacked the Mfsd2a gene. They found that without Mfsd2a, the blood-brain barrier leaked (although it didn't prevent the blood vessels themselves from forming in the first place). The next question was why.
"We focused on two basic characteristics: tight junctions between cells, which prohibit passage of water-soluble molecules, and transcytosis, which happens all the time in peripheral vessels but very little in the cortical vessels," said Gu. "We found the surprising result that Mfsd2a regulates transcytosis without affecting tight junctions. This is exciting because conceptually it says this previously unappreciated feature may be even more important than tight junctions.""At first we were looking at tight junctions, because we were also biased by the field," said Ben-Zvi, who will be starting his own lab later this year at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. "We weren't finding anything on the electron micrographs even though we knew the vessels leaked. Then we noticed there were tons of vesicles."It really shows that if you do systematic science and see something strange, you shouldn't dismiss it, because maybe that's what you're looking for."
The team also began to study the relationship between the cortical endothelial cells and another contributor to the blood-brain barrier, cells called pericytes. So far, they have found that pericytes regulate Mfsd2a. Next, they want to learn what exactly the pericytes are telling the endothelial cells to do.
Other future work in the Gu lab includes testing the dozen other potential molecular players and trying to piece together the entire network that regulates transcytosis in the blood-brain barrier."In addition to Mfsd2a, there may be several other molecules on the list that will be good drug targets," said Gu. "The key here is we are gaining tools to manipulate transcytosis either way: opening or tightening."As important as the molecules themselves, she added, is the concept.
"I personally hope people in the blood-brain barrier field will consider the mind-shifting paradigm that transcytosis could be targeted or modulated," said Ben-Zvi.
Better understanding -- and potentially being able to manipulate -- the molecular underpinnings of transcytosis could aid in the study and treatment of diseases in tissues beyond the brain, from the intestines absorbing nutrients to the kidneys filtering waste.Being able to open and close the blood-brain barrier also promises to benefit basic research, enabling scientists to investigate how abnormal barrier formation affects brain development and what the relationship may be between barrier deterioration and disease.
5) MEMS nanoinjector for genetic modification of cells:
The ability to transfer a gene or DNA sequence from one animal into the genome of another plays a critical role in a wide range of medical research -- including cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and diabetes. But the traditional method of transferring genetic material into a new cell, called "microinjection," has a serious downside. It involves using a small glass pipette to pump a solution containing DNA into the nucleus of an egg cell, but the extra fluid can cause the cell to swell and destroy it -- resulting in a 25 to 40 percent cell death rate.Now, thanks to the work of researchers from Brigham Young University, there's a way to avoid cell death when introducing DNA into egg cells. In Review of Scientific Instruments, the team describes its microelectromechanical system (MEMS) nanoinjector, which was designed to inject DNA into mouse zygotes (single-cell embryos consisting of a fertilized egg)."Essentially, we use electrical forces to attract and repel DNA -- allowing injections to occur with a tiny, electrically conductive lance," explained Brian Jensen, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Brigham Young University. "DNA is attracted to the outside of the lance using positive voltage, and then the lance is inserted into a cell."
The MEMS nanoinjector's lance is incredibly small and no extra fluid is used with this technique, so cells undergo much less stress compared to the traditional microinjection process.This ability to inject DNA into cells without causing cell death leads to "more efficient injections, which in turn reduces the cost to create a transgenic animal," according to Jensen.One of the team's most significant findings is that it's possible to use the electrical forces to get DNA into the nucleus of the cell -- without having to carefully aim the lance into the pronucleus (the cellular structure containing the cell's DNA). "This may enable future automation of the injections, without requiring manual injection," Jensen says.
It may also mean that injections can be performed in animals with cloudy or opaque embryos. "Such animals, including many interesting larger ones like pigs, would be attractive for a variety of transgenic technologies," said Jensen. "We believe nanoinjection may open new fields of discovery in these animals."as a next step, Jensen and colleagues are performing injections into cells in a cell culture using an array of lances that can inject hundreds of thousands of cells at once. "We expect the lance array may enable gene therapy using a culture of a patient's own cells," he noted.The paper's first author Quentin Aten participated in this research while at Brigham Young University. He is now working at Nexus Spine LLC
6) Dopamine turns worker ants into warrior queens:
The ritualized fighting behavior of one ant species is linked to increases in dopamine levels that trigger dramatic physical changes in the ants without affecting their DNA, according to research from North Carolina State University, Arizona State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The researchers studied Indian jumping ants (Harpegnathos saltator), which can undergo significant changes in physiology without any related changes to their DNA. Instead, the changes depend on which genes are turned on or off -- which in turn is determined by social and environmental factors. This has made them a model organism for epigenetics researchers.
When an H. saltator colony's queen dies, the female workers engage in ritual fights to establish dominance. While these battles can be fierce, they rarely result in physical injury to the workers. Ultimately, a group of approximately 12 workers will establish dominance and become a cadre of worker queens or "gamergates."The gamergates look like ordinary workers, but undergo extreme internal changes: their brains shrink by 25 percent; their ovaries expand to fill their abdomens; and their life expectancy jumps from about six months to several years or more."We wanted to know what's responsible for these physical changes," says Dr. Clint Penick, lead author of a paper describing the work and a postdoctoral researcher at NC State. "The answer appears to be dopamine. We found that gamergates have dopamine levels two to three times higher than other workers."To understand what was happening, the researchers took a subset of workers from a colony (Colony A) and separated them from their gamergates. These workers effectively formed their own colony (Colony B) and began fighting to establish dominance.
When some of the workers in Colony B began to get the upper hand, Penick removed them from the colony. He found that these dominant ants had already begun to produce elevated levels of dopamine -- more than other workers, but still less than full-fledged gamergates.Penick then placed these dominant workers back into Colony A. The regular Colony A workers recognized the changes in the dominant workers and exhibited "policing" behavior, holding down the dominant ants so that they couldn't move. Within 24 hours, the dopamine levels in the dominant workers had dropped back to normal; they were just regular worker ants again."This tells us that the very act of winning these ritual battles increases dopamine levels in H. saltator, which ultimately leads to the physical changes we see in gamergates," Penick says. "Similarly, losing these fights pushes dopamine levels down."The findings may offer insight into the behavior of a range of social insect species, Penick says. "Policing behavior occurs in wasps and other ant species, and this study shows just how that behavior can regulate hormone levels to affect physiology and ensure that workers don't reproduce," he explains.
Movies release This:
In Summer 2014, the world’s most revered monster is reborn as Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures unleash the epic action adventure “Godzilla.” From visionary new director Gareth Edwards (“Monsters”) comes a powerful story of human courage and reconciliation in the face of titanic forces of nature, when the awe-inspiring Godzilla rises to restore balance as humanity stands defenseless
In James Gray's The Immigrant, Ewa Cybulski (Marion Cotillard) and her sister sail to New York from their native Poland in search of a new start and the American dream. When they reach Ellis Island, doctors discover that Magda (Angela Sarafyan) is ill, and the two women are separated. Ewa is released onto the mean streets of Manhattan while her sister is quarantined. Alone, with nowhere to turn and desperate to reunite with Magda, Ewa quickly falls prey to Bruno (Joaquin Phoenix), a charming but wicked man who takes her in and forces her into prostitution. The arrival of Orlando (Jeremy Renner) - a dashing stage magician who is also Bruno's cousin - restores her self-belief and hopes for a brighter future, becoming her only chance to escape the nightmare in which she finds herself.
Washed-up history professor Lewis Birch (Oscar® and Emmy nominated Griffin Dunne) takes his begrudging teenage kids – Zoe (Madeleine Martin, “Californication”) and Jack (Devon Graye, "American Horror Story") – on a road trip to a conference in hopes of putting his career back on track. But, when Lewis’s estranged father Stanley (Emmy® Award-winning Stuart Margolin) goes AWOL on a Lewis and Clark historical reenactment trek, Lewis is forced to make a family detour. The Birch family find themselves on a journey of discovery and connection as they make their own passage west.
Forced to abandon his ranch and land, Red Bovie (Robert Duvall) rejecting the impulse to become complacent in his old age, hops in his Cadillac and hightails it to Mexico while Gally (Jeremy Irvine) Red’s grandson which he has just met, sits shotgun on his grandfather’s brash adventure to learn more about him. Grandfather and grandson start a journey through their respective dreams with a frenzied stop in a Mexican town where they meet Patty (Angie Cepeda), who sees in them the hope for a better life.
Based on a true story, Disney’s “Million Dollar Arm” follows JB Bernstein, a once-successful sports agent who now finds himself edged out by bigger, slicker competitors. He and his partner Aash (Aasif Mandvi) will have to close their business down for good if JB doesn’t come up with something fast. Late one night, while watching cricket being played in India on TV, JB comes up with an idea so radical it just might work. Why not go to there and find the next baseball pitching sensation? Setting off for Mumbai with nothing but a gifted but cantankerous scout (Alan Arkin) in tow, JB stages a televised, nationwide competition called “Million Dollar Arm” where 40,000 hopefuls compete before two 18-year-old finalists, Rinku and Dinesh (Suraj Sharma, Madhur Mittal), emerge as winners. JB brings them back to the United States to train with legendary pitching coach Tom House (Bill Paxton). The goal: get the boys signed to a major league team.
Political News This Week:
Great Indian elections over, people's verdict out on Friday
The marathon polling for the nine-phase 2014 Lok Sabha elections came to an end as 41 seats across Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal voted on Monday. The country now awaits the judgement day next Friday. The spotlight in this round was on Varanasi (UP), where BJP's prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi took on Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP's) Arvind Kejriwal and Congress' Ajay Rai.The high-profile seat recorded a voter turnout of 55.63% - around 13% more than the 2009 figure of 42.61%.
An FIR was filed against Congress' nominee Ajay Rai on the directive of the election commission for allegedly violating the model code of conduct by flashing his party's poll symbol on his 'kurta' while going to vote.The 18 constituencies in UP registered an overall voter turnout of 54.24%.
Voting in the 17 seats of Bengal was marred by violence. The state saw a turnout of nearly 80% - lower than 82% in the same seats in 2009.Though no one was killed, four persons were shot at and several others were injured by sharp weapons in Haroa in Basirhat constituency of North 24-Parganas district that adjoins state capital Kolkata.
In Bihar, 58% polling was recorded in six seats. Stray incidents of violence were reported from different constituencies. In Gopalganj, a constituency in northwestern Bihar, a man was admitted to hospital with multiple injuries after he was allegedly thrashed by ruling JD(U) Kuchaikot MLA Amarendra Pandey.In the ninth phase, 600 candidates were in the across the three states. Nearly 66 million voters are expected to seal their electoral fortunes.Of the 41 seats where polling was held, the Trinamool Congress (Bengal's ruling party) had won 14 seats in 2009, followed by six each by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Samajwadi Party (UP's ruling party), five by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and four by the Congress.
After the last phase, the election commission said the 2014 Lok Sabha polls saw 66.38% of the 827-million-strong Indian electorate exercising their franchise.
The polling percentage in the world's biggest democratic exercise comfortably surpassed the 1984 turnout of 64% when Rajiv Gandhi became the prime minister after the assassination of Indira Gandhi.The 2014 polls also broke the record in terms of voters' numbers set five years ago when the Congress-led UPA returned to power for a second straight time.Altogether 551 million voters - more than the combined population of the US, Germany, Canada and the UK - cast their ballots this year.
The figure shattered the previous record of 417 million for any general election set five years ago, election commission director general Akshay Rout told reporters after the nine-phase polling ended.
State-Wise Actual Poll Results:
After a landslide victory, Narendra Modi on Friday reached out to the opposition seeking the cooperation of all parties and leaders in running the nation, and dedicated himself to serve everyone equally.In a gracious, 45-minute victory speech in Vadodara, Modi said the government does not belong to any particular party but to all the people of the country."For a government, no one is a favourite, nor is anyone an alien," he asserted to a cheering crowd of supporters whom he thanked for giving him a victory by 5.70 lakh votes.Committing himself to running the country in the best spirit of the Constitution, Modi said, "My responsibility is to take everyone along in running the nation.""In a democracy, there are no enemies but only competitors. That competition ends with elections," he said, adding his motto is "sabka saath, sabka vikas (with all, development for all)."Congratulating winners in the Lok Sabha elections and the assembly elections in some states irrespective of parties, Modi said, "I extend my best wishes to the MPs and MLAs of all parties. I hope that I will get their support in taking the country forward."
Apparently referring to recriminations during the campaign, he said he would convert the "love" shown by his opponents into "pure love"."In a democracy, there are no enemies but only competitors. This competition is the beauty of our democracy," he said, adding that the "bitterness" is over with the campaign.
"I want to assure the people of the country that for us it is our motto to carry along everyone however much they may oppose us. We will try to ensure that there will be nothing lacking on this front," he said.Modi underlined the significance of his victory by saying that it was the first time after Independence that a non-Congress party has got absolute majority on its own.The 63-year-old leader also emphasised that for the first time the reins of power have come to those born after Independence.Speaking amid chants of "Modi, Modi, Modi", he said, "Whatever may be the scale of victory, it is our responsibility in government to take everyone along. I need your blessings to achieve this humbly."
Presenting himself as an "mazdoor number one", he said nobody, even his rivals, questions the hard work put in by him."For the next 60 months, you will not get a better mazdoor (labourer)," the prime minister-designate said.In an interactive style, the four-time chief minister told the crowd that till now he belonged to them, but they have now made him "national"."You have reposed trust in me, I repose trust in you... When I take one step, I trust all the 125 crore people will move with me," he said.
Referring to the thumping victory with a margin of over 5.70 lakh votes, Modi said he expressed his gratitude to the electorate of his constituency."After filing my nomination, I could spend only 50 minutes with you but you gave me victory by 5.70 lakh margin. I have checked up and found that only P V Narasimha Rao had won by such a big margin and that was in a bye-election. Mine has been recorded in a general election," he said.He promised to return the love showered on him by the electorate of this constituency by taking its development to new heights.Modi, who also won from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, made an oblique reference to the denial of permission for his election rally in the temple town. "People of Banaras have put their stamp of approval on my silence."
Narendra Modi meets mother after landslide victory
Narendra Modi gets warm welcome from L K Advani
2) 12 parties that DID NOT impress voters:
The verdict for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls is out and the trends are suggesting a landslide victory in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance.
While trends suggest a whopping 340 seats for the NDA -- a direct endorsement for BJP’s PM nominee Narendra Modi -- the results have also showed a clear drubbing for some of the biggest political forces in the country.We take a look at these parties whose politics have failed to impress the voters. The ruling party, under cloud over skyrocketing prices and charges of rampant corruption and mis-governance, has given its worst ever performance in Lok Sabha polls.
The Congress, whose campaigning was being spearheaded by party vice president Rahul Gandhi, is projected to win in only 44 seats this time around -- an astronomical dip of 164 seats as it bagged 206 after the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.The ruling party in Bihar is set to lose as many as 18 seats this time around after it was being projected that it will manage to bag only 2 seats compared to 20 it won after the 2009 elections.JD-U leader and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s decision to snap ties with long-time ally BJP has definitely not gone down well with the voters. UPA’s critical ally NCP is all set to fare poorly as it will bag only 5 seats, a dip of 3 seats from last elections.The Sharad Pawar-led party faced tough competition even in its home bastion Baramati, which is being contested by his daughter Supriya Sule this time around. There’s nothing much left for the Left parties as the 2014 verdict has shown dismal trends for the front that was a significant constituent during the UPA-I regime.While Communist Party of India-Marxist is set to lose 6 seats from its 2009 tally of 16, the CPI is set to lose 3 seats this time around. It won 4 during the 2009 elections.The CPI-M has faced a major drubbing in West Bengal from Trinamool Congress, a state it ruled for 34 years before it was demolished by the Mamata Banerjee-led party in the 2011 assembly elections.
The former UPA ally and long-time rulers of Tamil Nadu is all set to face its worst rout by ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam led by J Jayalalithaa.The M Karunanidhi-led front, which bagged 18 seats in 2009 Lok Sabha polls, did not manage to open its account time around.On the other hand, braving anti-incumbency AIADMK will win a whopping 36 seats this time around and become the third largest party after the BJP and Congress. The ruling party of superlatively significant Uttar Pradesh will face one of its worst-ever nightmares as it will manage to bag just 5 seats this time around -- a massive loss of 18 seats.
The poll verdict will come as a rude shock for the prime ministerial ambitions of party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, whose government in UP has been charged of massive mis-governance.Another major player of the Hindi heartland Bahujan Samaj Party is all set to draw a blank at the hustings.BSP supremo Mayawati was confident that her consolidated Dalit vote base will make her sail through at the polls, but that has certainly not happened. The party managed to win 21 seats last time around.Although the debutant AAP is all set to win 4 seats in the 2014 elections – all in Punjab -- much more was expected from the Arvind Kejriwal-led party that managed to garner massive public support for its anti-corruption movement.The party that had a 49-day tryst with power in Delhi had fielded candidates in as many as 434 constituencies across the country. But the verdict is definitely less than satisfactory for the party, especially after it scored zilch in all the seven constituencies in Delhi – its supposed power base. UPA ally Rashtriya Lok Dal, which won 5 seats in the 2009 elections, will score a zero this time around. Even its chief, Union Aviation Minister Ajit Singh, has been defeated by BJP’s Satyapal Singh, the former Mumbai top cop.Although Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD will win 4 seats this time around, it’ll still be considered a disappointment as the party was expected to win a lot more seats. In fact Lalu Yadav had claimed that he’ll win 34 seats and stop Narendra Modi from becoming the prime minister.The Jaganmohan Reddy-led front was supposed to ensure a landslide victory in its favour in Seemandhra owing to its strong opposition towards the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and creation of Telangana. However, the party will win just 9 out of the 25 seats in Seemandhra while the TDP-BJP combine is expected to do exceptionally well.
3) Jolt to NC-Congress; Farooq, Azad bite dust:
setback to ruling National Conference-Congress coalition in Jammu and Kashmir, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday shared the six Lok Sabha seats in the state as two Union ministers, including Farooq Abdullah, bit the dust.
Abdullah, NC patriarch and Union minister for New and Renewable Energy, tasted his first electoral defeat in over three decades.
The PDP's Tariq Hamid Karra humbled him in the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency by a margin of 42,280 votes. Karra, a former Finance minister in the then PDP-led government in Jammu and Kashmir, polled 1,57,923 votes against Abdullah's 1,15,643.
It was a comprehensive defeat for 76-year-old Abdullah as his party lost in 12 of the 15 assembly segments comprising the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat, considered to be the stronghold of National Conference.
Union Health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad was trounced by the BJP's Jitendra Singh in Udhampur Lok Sabha constituency by a margin of 60,976 votes.
Singh polled 4,87,369 votes against Azad's 426393 as the PDP's Arshid Malik came a distant third with 30458 votes. This was the first time Azad, a former chief minister, had contested the Lok Sabha election from the state.
BJP president and candidate from Jammu Lok Sabha seat Jugal Kishore registered the highest winning margin of 2,57,280 votes in the state, defeating two-time Congress Member of Parliament Madan Lal Sharma.
4) Why Chandrababu Naidu got it right this time:
The smile has just not left Chandrababu Naidu’s face ever since the counting of votes began on Friday.
Having been out of power for the last decade, not many gave Naidu a winning chance this time around. But the Telugu Desam Party chief proved his critics wrong on Friday.
According to voters rediff.com spoke to, every voter in Seema-Andhra was well aware that the state had been bifurcated and that they had to build a new state. Naidu was clearly experienced on this front, as he had been chief minister for two terms.
The TDP fared well in the urban areas, its traditional stronghold.
Besides, the Narendra Modi rally for the TDP-BJP combine and corruption charges against YSR Congress chief Jagan Mohan Reddy worked to Naidu’s advantage.
Naidu also managed to convince the people that Jagan was more interested in getting his cases quashed rather than ruling the state.
Some even feel that an ‘over-confident’ Jagan could have salvaged his position had he been more vocal about his clear support to the BJP.
The other factor that went in the TDP’s favour was the high voter turnout (79 per cent) which was clearly an indication that the upper middle class and the educated class -- which have always been with Naidu -- came out and voted for him.
Also, the people of Seema-Andhra wanted a model state built at any cost and this meant that any state government having good relations with the Union government was getting the popular vote.
In a one-horse race, ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam led by Jayalalithaa on Friday inflicted a crushing defeat on its arch-rival DMK, Congress and BJP-led six-party alliance, winning 4 seats and establishing unassailable leads in 33 out of the 39 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu.
In a consolation to NDA, BJP was leading in Kanyakumari and its ally Paattali Makkal Katchi in Dharmapuri while the DMK faced unprecedented defeat by drawing a blank.
Stretching its winning streak since the assembly polls in 2011, AIADMK won the prestigious Nilgiris (SC) seat when its candidate C Gopalakrishnan humbled 2G scam accused A Raja of DMK by a marging of over 1.09 lakh votes.The party also won in Nagapattinam (SC), Vellore and Tirunelveli constituencies.
Even as Jayalalithaa almost realised her wish of winning all the seats, the massive mandate given to BJP by the voters across the country upset her plans of playing a vital role at the Centre in a post-poll scenario.An elated Jayalalithaa said AIADMK has emerged as the third largest party in Lok Sabha and would "function as a responsible political party."She was candid in admitting that the current situation did not give scope for her party for its participation in government formation remarking "there is no such situation now".Talking to reporters after her party candidates established comfortable leads, Jayalalithaa described the performance as "historic, unparallelled and unprecedented."
Among those facing defeat were DMK leaders Dayanidhi Maran, T R Baalu and Congress nominees Mani Shankar Aiyar and Karti Chidambaram, son of Finance Minister P Chidambaram, who was in the fourth place in Sivaganga constituency.DMK, which was rocked by sibling rivalry leading to expulsion of its southern satrap M K Alagiri in the run up to the polls, was in a sombre mood as party chief M Karunanidhi accepted defeat and vowed to work for regaining people's confidence.The octogenarian leader did not wish to make much bones about the loss, saying party founder Late C N Annadurai believed in not going berserk in victory and getting bogged down in loss."DMK accepts people's verdict with a bowed head. We have faced similar losses and bigger triumphs than other parties," he said, adding the party will strive to work towards winning the confidence of people.What was perceived to be a formidable alliance stitched by BJP with five local outfits including cine-star turned politician Vijayakanth's DMDK, it failed to make any mark on the state's electoral scene barring the two constituencies.Despair also struck both the Left parties CPI and CPM which did not found favour among electorate in 18 constituencies they contested.In 2009 Lok Sabha election, DMK had won 18 seats, followed by AIADMK 9, Congress 8, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India-Marxist, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi one each.
6) Trinamool Congress to play greater constructive role in country: Mamata Banerjee:
After putting up a brilliant performance in the Lok Sabha elections, Trinamool Congress said on Friday it would play a greater constructive role in the country. Party chief Mamata Banerjee claimed that the success came despite "malicious campaign" launched by a section of the media against which the party fought single-handedly.
"We will play a greater constructive role in the country. We thank the people and at the end of it, it is the people who has emerged as the 'Man of the Match'," Banerjee said. "We are for harmony of all castes, religions and creeds. We are in favour of economic stability, financial stability and political stability," she said.
Out of the 42 Lok Sabha seats, Banerjee's TMC has performed extremely well by leading in 34 seats, with the main opposition Left leading in 2 seats and Congress leading in 4 seats.
Banerjee blamed a section of the media for ushering in a one-sided malicious campaign against the Trinamool in tandem with the opposition. She said that after such kind of malicious campaign, value-based politics would be replaced by value-less politics.
"There was so much of malicious campaign, but still CPI(M) has simply vanished from the market," said Banerjee. Banerjee while taking about the performance of regional parties said AIADMK in Tamil Nadu had performed well. She appealed to all her party supporters and workers to maintain calm and peace in Bengal.
7) Election Results 2014: Assam CM Tarun Gogoi Resigns; Takes Responsibility of Defeat:
Three-time Chief Minister of Assam, Tarun Gogoi, on Friday has taken responsibility for Congress' poor performance and announced that he is stepping down.
The announcement came in the wake of the election results that shows BJP stealing the show with over 323 seats, a very safe majority. The Congress, in retreat, has admitted defeat.The 33-year-old BJP party has secured the best ever victory in its history, while the story of Congress' 2014 election results will be narrated in double digits, its worst performance ever.
Assam PM's resignation comes after it was reported earlier that the outcome of the Parliamentary elections may cost him, his job. "I will stand by what I had asserted ahead of the polls. I will quit if the Congress gets less than seven seats. But I don't think I have to face that situation as I am confident Congress will win at least eight seats," Gogoi had said earlier according to DNA.Soon after Tarun Gogoi announced he is stepping down, people took to Twitter to express their reactions, many of whom were happy that he will exit
8) Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar resigns:
A day after his party JD(U)'s poor show in the Lok Sabha elections, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar resigned on Saturday. The JD (U) had managed to get just 2 seats out of 40 Lok Sabha seats in the state. Kumar has submitted his resignation to governor D Y Patil.Kumar's resignation has come amid reports of dissent in the party following the poor show in the general elections.
"He has taken responsibility for the loss, we decided to seek a fresh mandate," JD(U) leader Ali Anwar said.The resignation comes just hours after LJP chief Ramvilas Paswan asserted that the Nitish Kumar government would fall within two to three months and mid-term assembly polls would be held in October-November this year."Nitish Kumar government will not last long," Paswan said had said on Friday after results of general elections were announced.
"Nitish Kumar should resign soon on moral grounds after the major debacle of his party in the polls," LJP parliamentary board chairman Chirag Paswan had told mediapersons.The CM's resignation was on the cards since the reports of his party's near washout started pouring in on Friday. Nitish had remained inside his official residence throughout Friday and in the evening posted a one line post on Facebook: "I respect the people's verdict."
BJP leaders who were in highly upbeat mood over the unexpected victory had started demanding CM's resignation. Senior BJP leader Sushil Modi had said Nitish should quit on moral grounds.
Sports News This Week:
1) IPL 7: DD, serial losers:
Umpire S Ravi could only afford a sheepish grin, but he could be in store for much worse. On the fifth ball of the third over of Delhi’s chase, substitute fielder Unmukt Chand hit the stumps from point while trying to prevent a single that the batsmen Dinesh Karthik and Kevin Pietersen attempted off James Faulkner.A couple of Rajasthan Royals players appealed as the ball hit the stumps but Ravi waved them off. It wasn’t a convincing appeal by any means. In fact, the bowler and ‘keeperhardly seemed interested. Pietersen, who was running towards the danger end, looked confident that he had made his crease.The television replays, though, revealed that the Delhi captain’s bat had gotten stuck in the mud a few centimetres short of the line when the bails went off. However, since Royals did not make a strong case and Ravi hadn’t referred it to the third-umpire, Pietersen, who was batting on 3, got a reprieve.
Coincidentally, this was the second time in as many weeks the Englishman got a lifeline in similar fashion, that too against the same opponents. In their previous encounter on May 3, Pietersen was on 2 when he wandered out of the crease after being hit on the pads, not realising the ball hadn’t gone too far.
Sanju Samson, the wicketkeeper, fired a direct hit by the time Pietersen turned back. Unlike Thursday, Royals made a strong appeal but umpire Sanjay Hazare chose not to refer it to the third umpire. Much to his embarrassment, replays showed Pietersen was a few inches short. The umpire was later stood down for the rest of the tournament.
Luckily for the Rajasthan side, Pietersen once again failed to make the most of his second life at the Motera. Five overs after his lucky escape, the England discard, batting on 13 (off 18 balls) tried to go over extra cover off Rajat Bhatia. But the ball came slow off the surface, stayed low, took the inside edge and dislodged the stumps.If Delhi had any hopes of chasing down the mammoth target of 202 set by Royals, they needed a misfiring Pietersen to come to the party. However, once his stay in the middle ended, they crumpled like pack of cards.Royals handed the Daredevils a 62-run defeat, their sixth in a row, to end their hopes of qualifying for the playoffs. At the same time, the huge margin of victory will not only boost Royals’ net run-rate but also put them in a very comfortable position to make the cut for the knockout stage.
While Delhi cut a sorry figure both in all aspects of the game, Rajasthan proved their title credentials yet again, conjuring a thoroughly professional display.
2) IPL 7: Body language key for bowlers, says Morne Morkel:
Kolkata Knight Riders’ attack helped set up the match in their team’s favour by restricting the Mumbai Indians to 141, and pacer Morne Morkel, who finished with two wickets, said it is important for bowlers to have the right mindset and a good body language.“Body language is the key. Intimidating is one thing, but I think it is key to have a good body language,” said Morkel after KKR defeated MI by six wickets on Wednesday.“I think it is always going to be a competition between the bat and ball. It is important for us as bowlers to keep calm and focus on our bowling ball-by-ball,” he added.
While the KKR spinners kept the Mumbai batsmen on a tight leash, Morkel gave the team an early breakthrough with just 12 runs on the board, and later, picked up the important wicket of Corey Anderson.“We had a slight advantage playing and knowing the conditions here. But still, it was equal for both the sides. And the way our spinners bowled tonight was unbelievable,” Morkel told IPL’s official website.Asked whether he focusses on taking wickets or restricting the flow of runs, Morkel said, “I think it is a bit of both. I think it is important for me to have an aggressive mindset, and to think wickets, but not bowl for wickets. I don’t really bowl for wickets, but I think wickets.
“I like to develop and be seen as a bowler who can bowl in all sorts of conditions and not only on bouncy tracks.” Morkel said he has been taking some important tips from legendary Pakistani pacer Wasim Akram.“The thing that I am working on with Wasim is to keep hitting the crease and to get in good position at the crease. If I am in a strong position at the crease, then the ball will do the work for me,” he explained.
3) Sevilla beat Benfica 4-2 in shootout to win Europa League:
Sevilla defended doggedly in a 0-0 draw before beating Benfica 4-2 on penalties to win the Europa League for the third time on Wednesday as the final curse of Bela Guttmann continued to haunt the Portuguese side.Beaten 2-1 at the death by Chelsea in the same game 12 months ago, Benfica slumped to their eighth successive European final loss, putting a dampener on what had been a triumphant season.Benfica had the best of the opening 90 minutes but failed to take their chances and the confidence seemed to ooze away from them in extra-time.The writing appeared to be on the wall when Sevilla won the toss before the penalties and chose the end in front of their fans.
Paraguay striker Oscar Cardozo, who has had an unhappy season and missed a penalty for his country in the 2010 World Cup quarter-final against Spain, took a stuttering run-up before Benfica’s second penalty was saved by Beto.Beto also stopped Benfica’s next spot-kick, a half-hearted Rodrigo effort, although the Sevilla goalkeeper appeared to move well off his line on each occasion.Kevin Gameiro then fired home Sevilla’s fourth to clinch their third Europe League/UEFA Cup title.
“In the end, they (Benfica) were pushing forward more as we were tired and all the games that we have played this season took their toll,” Sevilla coach Unai Emery said.
“However, we have learnt to fight and cope with the difficult moments and we came out on top.”
Benfica’s losing run is often referred to as the “curse of Bela Guttmann”, the Hungarian coach who led them to successive European Cups in 1961 and 1962.
On leaving the club in acrimonious circumstances, Guttmann said they would never win another European title without him.“We were better but in football, the best team doesn’t always in,” Benfica coach Jorge Jesus said“We had the more chances over 120 minutes but we didn’t take them.Sevilla, playing their 19th match in this season’s competition, gave Benfica an early scare when Vitolo cut the ball back to Carlos Bacca and Guilherme Siqueira dived in to intercept.
Benfica lost midfielder Miralem Sulejmani who injured his shoulder in a crunching tackle by Alberto Moreno.
Although the two sets of fans made a wall of noise each end, there were nearly 6,000 empty seats at the Juventus stadium, with an official attendance of just over 33,000.
The first half was often scrappy and niggly as Sevilla managed to blunt Benfica’s attacking edge.
Beto was called into action twice in quick succession before the break, first to stop an Maxi Pereira lob after the Uruguayan got in behind the Sevilla defence and then to block a Rodrigo effort after he burst down the
4) Argentina squad offers few surprises for Sergio Aguero:
Defender Martin Demichelis fully deserves his recall to the Argentina squad while Carlos Tevez was never going to make it after failing to patch up his differences with coach Alejandro Sabella, forward Sergio Aguero told Reuters in an interview.Despite some sparkling form for Italian champions Juventus, Tevez has never been part of Sabella’s plans and was again overlooked when the coach named his provisional 30-man squad for the June 12-July 13 tournament in Brazil on Tuesday.
Manchester City striker Aguero, who is expected to line up alongside Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain in a formidable front line for Argentina, believed a recall was never going to happen.
“This has been discussed for three years now since the manager was hired for the team and since then we know there was no relationship between them both,” the 25-year-old Aguero said in Singapore on Friday.“He didn’t call him before so it wasn’t such a surprise that he wasn’t called this time as well. It would be a very good question for the manager himself to comment,” he added, trying to avoid the talking point.Instead, the pony-tailed Demichelis, so frequently mocked by rival English Premier League supporters following some early mistakes upon his arrival at Manchester City at the start of the season, was the surprise inclusion.The former River Plate and Bayern Munich defender last played for Argentina in a 1-1 home draw against Bolivia in a qualifier in November 2011 but has shown strong form in recent weeks as City went on to win the Premier League title on Sunday.
While Aguero is a certain starter for the Group F matches against Bosnia, Iran and Nigeria, the 33-year-old Demichelis will be hoping just to make the slimmed down 23-man travelling party, although he had support for his cause.“It was no surprise that he was called for playing in this World Cup, I think he has earned his position,” Aguero said of his team mate.“He had been criticised, in particular because of the play against Lionel Messi in the (Champions League) match against Barcelona but it is understandable, he wasn’t so confident then after starting to play in the English league.“In the last three or four months, he has been playing very well and adapted and I think that is why he was called up and earned his place in the team.”Shock lossTevez, Aguero and Demichelis all played in the last World Cup when Argentina crashed out in the quarter-finals after a 4-0 mauling by Germany ended their bid to add to their 1978 and 1986 successes.Aguero expected Germany to once again prove strong challengers along with holders Spain, hosts Brazil, Italy and Belgium, captained by another City team mate, Vincent Kompany.
5) Pavel Pogrebnyak dropped from Russia’s World Cup squad:
Striker Pavel Pogrebnyak has been cut from Russia’s World Cup squad after coach Fabio Capello on Friday trimmed his provisional 30-man lineup.
Pogrebnyak, 30, who has yet to appear for his country under Capello, had been a surprise inclusion on Monday.“I am a bit shocked and didn’t believe that I had been excluded from the squad,” Pogrebnyak, whose last appearance for Russia came against Greece in June 2012, said in an interview with Sovetsky Sport.“I hoped that I would be part of the squad, I kept myself fit and was grateful for the faith that was showed in me.“However in just a couple of days they took away that hope from me.”The former Fulham forward scored 13 goals in 39 Championship appearances for Reading in England’s second tier this season.
“Of course it is upsetting,” he added.“The World Cup is a dream for any footballer. There are more important things in life, but I really wanted to play there. The head coach has the right to pick the squad he wishes.”
Artem Dzyuba, the second leading scorer in the Russian Premier League this season with 17 goals for Rostov, was put on a reserve list along with defenders Alexander Anyukov and Alexey Berezutskiy and midfielders Vladimir Bystrov and Yury Gazinskiy.The Russian Football Union said that forward Denis Cheryshev would join the squad to gain experience but would not travel to the Brazil finals where Russia have been drawn in Group H along with South Korea, Belgium and Algeria.
Goalkeepers: Igor Akinfeev (CSKA Moscow), Yury Lodygin (Zenit St. Petersburg), Sergey Ryzhikov (Rubin Kazan).
Defenders: Vasili Berezutskiy (CSKA Moscow), Vladimir Granat (Dynamo Moscow), Andrey Eshchenko (Anzhi Makhachkala), Sergey Ignashevich (CSKA Moscow), Alexey Kozlov (Dynamo Moscow), Dmitry Kombarov (Spartak Moscow), Andrey Semenov (Terek Grozny), Georgi Schennikov (CSKA Moscow).
Midfielders: Denis Glushakov (Spartak Moscow), Igor Denisov (Dynamo Moscow), Alan Dzagoev (CSKA Moscow), Yury Zhirkov (Dynamo Moscow), Alexey Ionov (Dynamo Moscow), Pavel Mogilevets (Rubin Kazan), Alexander Samedov (Lokomotiv Moscow), Victor Faizulin (Zenit St. Petersburg), Oleg Shatov (Zenit St. Petersburg), Roman Shirokov (Krasnodar).
Forwards: Maxim Kanunnikov (Amkar Perm), Alexander Kerzhakov (Zenit St. Petersburg), Alexander Kokorin (Dynamo Moscow)
Reserve listDefenders: Alexander Anyukov (Zenit St. Petersburg), Alexey Berezutskiy (CSKA Moscow).