Science News This Week:
1) Skulls reveal Neandertal’s hodge-podge genealogy:
Fossil treasure trove shows nuances in hominid family tree. The Neandertal branch of the hominid family tree just got a lot more shrublike. Ancient skulls from a desolate Spanish cave have a hodge-podge of Neandertal and non-Neandertal features, suggesting the species underwent a long period of evolutionary fits and starts before emerging as full-fledged Neandertals some 200,000 years ago.
A battery of dating techniques indicates that the 17 skulls, seven of which were analyzed for the first time, are roughly 430,000 years old. The age means the fossils are the oldest reliable evidence of recognizable Neandertal features, says paleontologist Juan Luis Arsuaga of Complutense University of Madrid, who led the new analysis. The ancient age also suggests that the Neandertals’ evolutionary roots reach much farther back in time than that of humans, whose characteristic features don’t appear in the fossil record until some 200,000 years ago in Africa.
2) Ovarian cancer treatment discovered by researchers:
A new treatment for ovarian cancer can improve response rates (increase the rate of tumor shrinkage) and prolong the time until cancers recur, research shows. In addition, this breakthrough showed a trend in improving survival although these data are not yet mature. "This is an exciting new targeted medication in treating recurrent ovarian cancer. Recurrent ovarian cancer is almost always fatal and new treatments are desperately needed," said one researcher.
Doctors at the University of Arizona Cancer Center at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix reported today in Lancet Oncology that a new treatment for ovarian cancer can improve response rates (increase the rate of tumor shrinkage) and prolong the time until cancers recur. In addition, this breakthrough showed a trend in improving survival although these data are not yet mature.
Trebananib (formally known as AMG 386; Amgen) is a first-in-class peptide-Fc fusion protein (or peptibody) that targets angiogenesis (the growth of new blood vessels into cancerous tumors) by inhibiting the binding of both angiopoietin 1 and 2 to the Tie2 receptor. This is very different mechanism of action than other agents that also effect angiogenesis by inhibiting vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) such as bevacizumab (Avastin; Genentech).
Trebananib does not increase the risks of hypertension (high blood pressure) and bowel perforation like bevaciuzmab, but still has a similar impact on tumor shrinkage and delaying cancer progression.
Neither agent has shown a definitive increase in survival at this point. TRINOVA-1 was a randomized prospective phase III clinical trial that added trebananib or placebo to standard chemotherapy (weekly paclitaxel) among 919 women with recurrent ovarian cancer patient from 179 sites in 32 countries.
The trial was run by Professor Bradley J. Monk MD who directs the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Arizona Cancer Center at St. Joseph's in Phoenix and sponsored by Amgen. Dr. Monk's site also was the largest enrolling site in Arizona.
"This is an exciting new targeted medication in treating recurrent ovarian cancer. Recurrent ovarian cancer is almost always fatal and new treatments are desperately needed," said Dr. Monk. "TRINOVA-1 also showed that angiogenesis is a complex process in oncology and many new targets like angiopoietin 1/2 will allow us to more effectively inhibit the growth of new blood vessels that are necessary for cancer growth, metastases and progression. If we can stop cancers from growing by choking off their blood supply, we can help our patients feel better and live longer."
Amgen, the manufacturer of trebananib has not yet filed this agent with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but has also enrolled two other ovarian cancer phase III trials that have not yet had reported results (TRINOVA-2 [NCT01281254], and TRINOVA-3 [NCT01493505]).
TRINOVA-2 is evaluating pegylated liposomal doxorubicin in combination with either placebo or trebananib in previously treated patients with ovarian cancer while TRINOVA-3, also known as ENGOT -Ov2 and Gynecologic Oncology Group -- 3001, is studying the use of trebananib in front-line treatment adding it to carboplatin/paclitaxel. The results of these two additional trials are expected within a year and will hopefully add to a successful FDA application for approval making this agent available to American women with ovarian cancer.
3) New horned dinosaur reveals unique wing-shaped headgear:
Scientists have named a new species of horned dinosaur (ceratopsian) based on fossils collected from Montana in the United States and Alberta, Canada. Mercuriceratops (mer-cure-E-sare-ah-tops) gemini was approximately 6 meters (20 feet) long and weighed more than 2 tons. It lived about 77 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous Period. Research describing the new species is published online in the journal Naturwissenschaften. Mercuriceratops (Mercuri + ceratops) means "Mercury horned-face," referring to the wing-like ornamentation on its head that resembles the wings on the helmet of the Roman god, Mercury. The name "gemini" refers to the almost identical twin specimens found in north central Montana and the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Dinosaur Provincial Park, in Alberta, Canada. Mercuriceratops had a parrot-like beak and probably had two long brow horns above its eyes. It was a plant-eating dinosaur.
4) Supercooled liquid water hits record low:
Ultrafast laser records droplet temperature at –46° Celsius. Using a miniature water gun and a powerful laser, researchers have probed tiny water droplets at –46° Celsius, the lowest temperature that ordinary water has ever been detected in the liquid phase.
“It’s a world record, and it’s hard to imagine it will ever fall,” says H. Eugene Stanley, a physicist at Boston University.
The study, published in the June 19 Nature, marks the first time that scientists have observed liquid water in the low-temperature region where water’s already unusual properties are expected to become even weirder. By studying such cold conditions, researchers hope to understand water’s quirks at all temperatures and how life takes advantage of them.
"Mercuriceratops took a unique evolutionary path that shaped the large frill on the back of its skull into protruding wings like the decorative fins on classic 1950s cars. It definitively would have stood out from the herd during the Late Cretaceous," said lead author Dr. Michael Ryan, curator of vertebrate paleontology at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History. "Horned dinosaurs in North America used their elaborate skull ornamentation to identify each other and to attract mates -- not just for protection from predators. The wing-like protrusions on the sides of its frill may have offered male Mercuriceratops a competitive advantage in attracting mates."
"The butterfly-shaped frill, or neck shield, of Mercuriceratops is unlike anything we have seen before," said co-author Dr. David Evans, curator of vertebrate palaeontology at the Royal Ontario Museum. "Mercuriceratops shows that evolution gave rise to much greater variation in horned dinosaur headgear than we had previously suspected."
The new dinosaur is described from skull fragments from two individuals collected from the Judith River Formation of Montana and the Dinosaur Park Formation of Alberta. The Montana specimen was originally collected on private land and acquired by the Royal Ontario Museum. The Alberta specimen was collected by Susan Owen-Kagen, a preparator in Dr. Philip Currie's lab at the University of Alberta. "Susan showed me her specimen during one of my trips to Alberta," said Ryan. "I instantly recognized it as being from the same type of dinosaur that the Royal Ontario Museum had from Montana."
The Alberta specimen confirmed that the fossil from Montana was not a pathological specimen, nor had it somehow been distorted during the process of fossilization," said Dr. Philip Currie, professor and Canada research chair in dinosaur paleobiology at the University of Alberta. "The two fossils -- squamosal bones from the side of the frill -- have all the features you would expect, just presented in a unique shape."
"This discovery of a previously unknown species in relatively well-studied rocks underscores that we still have many more new species of dinosaurs to left to find," said co-author Dr. Mark Loewen, research associate at the Natural History Museum of Utah.
This dinosaur is just the latest in a series of new finds being made by Ryan and Evans as part of their Southern Alberta Dinosaur Project, which is designed to fill in gaps in our knowledge of Late Cretaceous dinosaurs and study their evolution. This project focuses on the paleontology of some of oldest dinosaur-bearing rocks in Alberta and the neighbouring rocks of northern Montana that are of the same age.
5) Neurons get their neighbors to take out their trash:
Biologists have long considered cells to function like self-cleaning ovens, chewing up and recycling their own worn out parts as needed. But a new study shows that some nerve cells found in the eye pass off their old energy-producing factories to neighboring support cells to be 'eaten.' The find, which may bear on the roots of glaucoma, also has implications for Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and other diseases that involve a buildup of 'garbage' in brain cells.
Biologists have long considered cells to function like self-cleaning ovens, chewing up and recycling their own worn out parts as needed. But a new study challenges that basic principle, showing that some nerve cells found in the eye pass off their old energy-producing factories to neighboring support cells to be "eaten." The find, which may bear on the roots of glaucoma, also has implications for Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other diseases that involve a buildup of "garbage" in brain cells.
The study was led by Nicholas Marsh-Armstrong, Ph.D., a research scientist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute and an associate professor in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine's Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience, together with Mark H. Ellisman, Ph.D., a neuroscience professor at the University of California, San Diego. In a previous study, the two had seen hints that retinal ganglion cells, which transmit visual information from the eye to the brain, might be handing off bits of themselves to astrocytes, cells that surround and support the eye's signal-transmitting neurons. They appeared to pass them to astrocytes at the optic nerve head, the beginning of the long tendril that connects retinal ganglion cells from the eye to the brain. Specifically, they suspected that the neuronal bits being passed on were mitochondria, which are known as the powerhouses of the cell.
To find out whether this was really the case, Marsh-Armstrong's research group genetically modified mice so that they produced indicators that glowed in the presence of chewed up mitochondria. Ellisman's group then used cutting-edge electron microscopy to reconstruct 3-D images of what was happening at the optic nerve head. The researchers saw that astrocytes were, indeed, breaking down large numbers of mitochondria from neighboring retinal ganglion cells.
"This was a very surprising study for us, because the findings go against the common understanding that each cell takes care of its own trash," says Marsh-Armstrong. It is particularly interesting that the newly discovered process occurs at the optic nerve head, he notes, as that is the site thought to be at fault in glaucoma. He plans to investigate whether the mitochondria disposal process is relevant to this disease, the second leading cause of blindness worldwide.
But the implications of the results go beyond the optic nerve head, Marsh-Armstrong says, as a buildup of "garbage" inside cells causes neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and ALS. "By showing that this type of alternative disposal happens, we've opened up the door for others to investigate whether similar processes might be happening with other cell types and cellular parts other than mitochondria," he says.
Movie Release This Week:
Set in a world ten years following the collapse of the western economic system, where Australia’s mineral resources have drawn the desperados and dangerous to its shores. With society in decline, the rule of law has disintegrated and life is cheap. The film follows hardened loner Eric (Pearce), who travels the desolate towns and roads of the Australian outback. When a gang of thieves steals his car they leave behind the wounded Rey (Pattinson) in their wake. Forcing Rey to help track the gang, Eric will go to any lengths to take back the one thing that matters to him.
Clint Eastwood’s big screen version of the Tony Award-winning musical tells the story of the four young men from the wrong side of the tracks in New Jersey who came together to form the iconic `60s rock group The Four Seasons. Their trials and triumphs are accompanied by the hit songs that influenced a generation, and are now being embraced by a new generation of fans through the stage musical.
Code Black follows a team of young, idealistic and energetic ER doctors during the transition from the old to the new L.A. County as they try to avoid burnout and improve patient care. Why do they persist, despite being under siege by rules, regulations and paperwork?
Third Person wends its way through three cities and three tales. The various stories, situated in Paris, Rome, and New York, are, at first glance, all separate, but Haggis effortlessly makes connections among them as the film unwinds, concentrating on three men and their romantic entanglements. Gradually, each one of these stories unveils its secrets, testifying to the whims and complexities of life. Surfaces are deceptive in the Haggis universe, but as each story is explored we discover untold pleasures and pains. Life is never easy: it can be deceptive, inhabited by anger and jealousy, but it can also be surprisingly joyous.
Renowned journalist Torgny Segerstedt declares war against Hitler as he criticizes Swedish politicians who tried to look away from the tyranny of the Nazis with the good excuse of “neutralism”. His only weapon is his pen and his life is full of gossip such as an affair with his boss’ wife, a love scandal with a secretary younger than his daughter, and the suicide of his wife. However, he continues to fight a one man battle against Hitler and the Nazi regime until his death, throwing the question “Can one person really change history?” to the audience.
Political News This Week:
1) PM Modi's rail shocker: Passenger fare, freight rates hiked:
In a pre-budget move, cash-strapped railways on Tuesday effected a steep across-the-board hike of 14.2 per cent in passenger fares in all classes and a 6.5 per cent increase in freight rates to garner Rs.8000 crore a year.The decision, which will come into effect from June 25, marks implementation of an announcement of May 16, the day Lok Sabha election results came, when the hike was announced but put on hold immediately.
In a flip-flop, the Ministry first announced that today's hike will be implemented with immediate effect but later changed it to June 25, saying the officials needed time to execute it.Announcing the decision, less than a month after the NDA government took over, Railway Minister Sadanand Gowda said, "I was forced to implement the order that was done by my predecessor. I am only withdrawing the withholding order."He said the interim budget presented by the previous government had assumed certain revenues on the basis of the proposed hike that was announced on May 16.
"Meeting the annual expenditure would not be possible unless the revised rates as finalised by previous government is implemented, hence order of withdrawing implementation of revised fare and freight has been withdrawn," said the Railway Ministry, which is incurring a loss of about Rs.900 crore per month in passenger segment."Accordingly, the revised passenger fare and freight rates and freight structure rationalization will come into effect from June 25, 2014," it said in a statement.
The hike was announced nearly a week after Modi said the country should be ready for "tough decisions" required to improve the financial health.The Railway Budget will be presented in Parliament in the first week of next month.
Two days back, Gowda had said he would meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi before announcing the hike.While a flat 10 per cent has been announced in all classes, an additional 4.2 per cent increase under fuel adjustment component (FAC)-linked revision scheme will be effected on passenger fares, taking the upper revision of fares to 14.2 per cent, an official said.The Railways had earlier issued a notification on May 16 effecting hike in passenger fare by 14.2 per cent across the board and freight charges by 6.5 per cent from May 20. This was followed up with an official press release.The May 16 fare hike decision, which had raised eyebrows as it came in the midst of Lok Sabha election results, led to a scurry of activities in Rail Bhawan on that day and the Railway Board went into a huddle to discuss its fallout.Soon after, the red-faced Railway Ministry had put the decision on hold, saying the matter related to the revision will be left to the next government.The then Railway Minister Mallikarjun Kharge came out with a statement directing the Board to leave the decision on the hike to the new government.
"It is now informed that under the directions of the Minister of Railways Mallikarjun Kharge, the decision on the proposed hike in the freight charges and passenger fares have been kept pended till further advice for placing this proposal before the new government," the statement said.A fresh notification was issued later, stating that the "revision of fares with effect from May 20 should be pended till further advice."The Railway Minister had on Wednesday met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and said that he would discuss the fare issue with the Prime Minister.Seeking a significant increase in gross budgetary support, Gowda, along with Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha and senior railway officials, had met Jaitley as part of the pre-budget discussion.About the discussion with Jaitley, the Railway Minister had said "it was a fruitful meeting with the Finance Minister who suggested some measures which will be reflected in the rail budget."Gowda said "we have sought more budgetary support. There is a need for more funds for national projects."
2) Campa Cola residents deny entry to civic officials for second day:
Holding their ground, defiant Campa Cola residents denied entry to Mumbai civic officials to cut off water and power supply to illegal flats for the second day on Saturday even as the authorities filed a police complaint against the occupants for obstructing them in discharge of their duties.In a repeat of Saturday's failed exercise, officials from Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai descended upon the housing complex in plush Worli area of south Mumbai amid heavy security presence and made futile attempts to convince the residents to let them in.
Women and girls with folded hands were seen pleading with MCGM officials from behind the grilled gates, locked and secured with bamboo poles, to understand the "humanitarian crisis" and go away.A crowd of residents milled around within the compound where a havan was performed as chants of hymns and scent of burning joss sticks filled the air.The civic authorities, armed with the Supreme Court order for demolishing 96 illegally constructed flats in the housing complex, repeatedly pleaded with the residents to allow them to enter to cut off power, water and piped gas supplies to those units, but in vain.
The Supreme Court had on June 3 dismissed the plea of the residents of illegal flats against an earlier order asking them to vacate their premises by May 31.Following the SC order, MCGM had given notices to the owners of the illegal units to hand over the keys so that demolition could be carried out, but none did. The MCGM deadline for vacating the flats expired yesterday and, as part of their plan to force the occupants to vacate, the civic authorities have decided to cut off essential supplies like water and power to them."We have been requesting the residents to let us perform our duty but they are unrelenting. We are leaving for the day but will come back tomorrow and continue our efforts to convince them to let us do our job," Deputy Municipal Commissioner Anand Waghralkar told reporters.
Waghralkar said no force will be used against the residents and the civic body will approach the Supreme Court with a contempt petition if they refuse to cooperate."The residents are performing havans inside the compound and have taken an emotional approach to this operation. They should understand that all this will not work with government officials who have to perform their duty," he said.
MCGM had on Friday night filed a complaint against the residents accusing them of obstructing the authorities in discharge of their duties. They had submitted video recordings of Friday's exercise when the occupants had thwarted their attempts to enter the compound to cut off essential supplies.A case under IPC sections 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and various others related to wrongful restraint and unlawful assembly was registered against Campa Cola residents."Once we have examined the footage provided to us by the authorities, we will take action," an officer at Worli police station said.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had Friday ruled out enacting a law to bail out the owners of illegal flats at Campa Cola housing society, saying, "If illegal constructions are to be spared by a law, it would imply that other such irregular works too can be saved in a similar way."
3) Protests in Delhi against rail fare hike:
Congress and the Communist Party of India-Marxist workers on Saturday took to the streets in the national capital protesting the "massive" rail fare hike and demanding its immediate rollback, saying that the government's decision will lead to rise in prices of essential commodities.Scores of Congress workers led by party's Delhi unit chief Arvinder Singh Lovely held a demonstration in Janakpuri area of West Delhi and clashed with police.Police had to use water canon when the protesters tried to break barricades.
"It is a massive hike. How can they increase the fair just couple of weeks before the Budget Session of Parliament. People who used to talk about 'achche din' (good days) before the elections today are talking about bitter medicines," Lovely said.He said, "BJP had promised to curb inflation before elections but I doubt if it will happen. If they continue to take steps like this, then I am sure people of the country will punish the government. The government is failing at all fronts."Demanding that the government take back its decision, Lovely said besides hitting hard the passengers, the hike will lead to higher inflation as the freight rates have been increased by 6.5 per cent.He threatened that the party will launch a 'rail roko' agitation if the decision is not rescinded.Separately, the Delhi unit of CPI(M) also staged a protest outside the Rail Bhawan."Before coming to power, BJP criticised plans and policies of other parties and won the trust of the citizens by promising to provide relief to people from price hike. But now they are doing the same," said Anurag Saxena, member of CPI(M) Delhi.
He said that BJP did not give a chance to other parties to keep forth their views and declared the hike before the Budget Session."They are using UPA only as an excuse. The previous government has gone now, BJP needs to fulfil the promises they had made rather than making UPA a scapegoat," said Saxena. The protests resulted in major traffic jams in Central Delhi. Lovely said Congress was not holding the protest, considering the possibility of Assembly polls in Delhi as suggested by some BJP leaders."We do not even know whether assembly elections in Delhi will be held soon or not," he said, replying to a question.In one of the biggest hikes, railways on Friday raised passenger fares by 14.2 per cent for all classes and increased freight rates by 6.5 per cent to garner Rs 8000 crore annually.
4) Hundreds of Indians stranded in Najaf; 39 abducted workers 'unharmed':
Efforts continued on Saturday to secure the release of the 39 kidnapped Indians in Mosul town of strife-torn Iraq with the government remaining in touch with the countries in the region to resolve the crisis after identity of the captors were known.
Government said all the Indians in captivity were "unharmed" and it was "fully engaged" and "every possible effort" was being made to ensure their release.As efforts were on to rescue all the Indians from the troubled areas in Iraq, Amnesty International claimed that hundreds of Indian nationals may be stranded in Najaf province.The human rights watchdog claimed it had spoken over the phone with some Indian workers working for an infrastructure and construction company who said they were in danger as their employers had "refused to return their passports", thus rendering them unable to leave the Gulf country"Evidence has emerged which suggests that several hundred Indian nationals may be stranded in Najaf province of Iraq, unable to return home because their employer refuses to return their passports," Amnesty International India said in a statement.
Official sources here said the Indian mission in Baghdad has already contacted the company concerned and the matter is likely to be resolved soon."We have contacted the company concerned. The companies are already responsive. We are already working with them. They will have these people come across. There will be somebody from embassy who goes there, will sit down with the company and all the employees and decide on this," they said.They also said India remained in contact with a number of countries in the region besides Iraqi authorities to resolve the crisis.The sources further said government has indication about the identity of the captors and it was in touch with International Red Crescent in Iraq."All the 39 Indians in captivity are unharmed as of today," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.
40 Indian construction workers were kidnapped from Mosul, Iraq's second largest city which was seized by Sunni militants, and one of them fled from the captors.When asked about identity of the captors, the sources refused to divulge details citing operational issues and safety of the kidnapped Indians but added that they were kept with people from other nationalities.The Indian who fled from the captivity was undergoing debriefing and was said to be in complete safety.He is learnt to be in "friendly location" and no ransom demand has been received so far.The sources said 16 Indians who were evacuated from violence-affected areas of Iraq have returned to India.
The government is in constant touch with the 46 nurses stranded in Tikrit town, which was also taken over by Sunni militants. Areas like Basra, Najaf and Kurdish-dominated areas are not witnessing violence.Meanwhile, around 28 Indians working in a company in Najaf, which is not affected by violence, have also expressed their desire to return to India and government was helping them. A total of 1,000 Indians are working in the company.Another lot of 49 Indian employees of a power sector company in Northern Iraq conveyed to Indian mission that they want to return to India and government was also in touch with the company.The Indian mission is looking into issues like possible contractual disputes between Indians and their employers and sort out such disputes to ensure their return.On Friday night, six persons from Punjab's Gurdaspur district who were stranded in Iraq, returned home safely.With nearly 200 people from Punjab stranded in that country, the state government has decided to bear the expenses for bringing them back safely and also reimburse the expenses incurred by distressed families for making phone calls to Iraq, an official spokesman said in Chandigarh.
Amnesty International India claimed that some of the Indians stranded in Najaf province were "awaiting a response from the Indian embassy in Baghdad" after they texted their passport details to them on June 19."The employer holds all our passports and refuses to return them. We have been restricting ourselves to the company premises since the conflict began as we are scared. We just want to go home," one of the workers reportedly told Amnesty International India.The government was also in touch with various humanitarian agencies, the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq and Iraqi government to gather more information about its citizens.Iraq is witnessing serious strife with Sunni militants, backed by Al Qaeda, capturing two key cities and marching towards Baghdad. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been displaced in the fighting that broke out on June 10.The government has also decided to provide financial assistance through Indian Community Welfare Fund to those Indians who are indigent and want to return to India.India has also requested Iraq to lift restriction on the visa norm that if a person comes to the country through a port of entry then he will have to go back though the same port of entry.The issue has been taken up with Iraqi authorities so that trapped Indians can cross Iraqi border to neighbouring countries through nearest land boundary.
Instructions have also been issued to Indian missions in countries around Iraq to take up the matter with their host governments to facilitate movement by those who wish to cross the land boundary from nearest place of their stay. PTIThe kidnapped Indian, who had managed to flee from captivity, is from Punjab, sources said.The person has given some information about the abductors to the Indian authorities, they added.
5) Advani deserves to be President of India: Gadkari:
Union minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Nitin Gadkari has said party patriarch L K Advani deserves to be the President of India, a post commensurate with his stature.Appearing on Rajat Sharma's show 'Aap ki Adalat' on India TV, the Union road transport minister said it would not have been proper had he (Advani) been made the Lok Sabha Speaker as the party veteran has already been deputy prime minister."Advaniji was deputy prime minister and it would not have been proper had he been made the Speaker. Advaniji deserves to become the nation's President," Gadkari said, according to a press release issued by the channel.
"All of us respect Advaniji and we want that he should get a post commensurate with his stature," he said.Gadkari said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken a conscious decision not to induct ministers above the age of 75 years due to which some senior party leaders like Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi did not find a place in the Union Cabinet.Comparing the party seniors with Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan who cannot play the role of a hero now as the generation has changed, the former BJP president said even he may be replaced ten years from now to make way for new people.He dismissed as media speculation reports that Joshi wanted to become deputy chairperson of Planning Commission."Joshiji is our think tank, our senior leader. Our party will surely utilise his vast knowledge and experience," he told the channel.
Gadkari praised the prime minister's style of working and said he listens to ministers' views and accepts some of them but himself has an understanding of issues and knowledge about departments."It is not true that ministers are afraid of the PM. It's an issue of image versus reality and ground reality versus perception...The PM goes into the knitty-gritty of each issue. That's why departmental secretaries fear him," he told the channel.Giving indications of things to come, he said while asking for funds from Finance Minister Arun Jaitley he is told that there are no funds even for existing schemes."The economy needs bitter medicine and only bitter medicine can restore one's health. It will take time," he said.
6) UPA governors wanted to quit, but Congress refused:
While the political storm over the removal of governors continues to rage on, it has come to light that a number of Congress-appointed governors had actually wanted to step down after the new government came to power but were stopped from doing so by the party leadership.According to top Congress sources, Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil was the first who expressed his desire to put in his papers even before the National Democratic Alliance government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge, but he was told not to do so as it would then put pressure on the others to do the same.
Patil, it is learnt, was not comfortable about continuing since he had sought the resignation of NDA-appointed governors in 2004 when he was the Union home minister in the United Progressive Alliance government. Patil had then said that the governors were being removed because they were not ideologically aligned with the Congress-led UPA government.A senior Congress leader disclosed that Patil felt that under these circumstances, he had no moral right to stay on.
Several Congress-appointed governors have been sent feelers by the BJP-led government that they should put in their papers.Among those who have been asked to quit include M K Narayanan (West Bengal), Sheila Dikshit (Kerala), Margaret Alva (Rajasthan), Kamla Beniwal (Gujarat), BL Joshi (Uttar Pradesh), K Sankaranarayanan (Maharashtra) and Devendra Konwar (Tripura).While Uttar Pradesh governor B L Joshi and Chhattisgarh governor Shekhar Dutt rendered their resignations, the others have decided to stay put.Although the Congress had removed NDA-appointed governors when it came to power ten years ago, it took a considered view this time to challenge and embarrass the new government on this issue. Consequently, it advised its appointees not to resign.
The Congress believes it has strong case as it is armed with a 2010 Supreme Court order which had said the removal of the governors was untenable. Moreover, the matter landed in court after it was challenged by B P Singhal, known for his proximity to the BJP.A five-judge constitution bench of the apex court had said, “The governor cannot be removed on the ground that he is out of sync with the policies and ideologies of the Union government or the party in power at the Centre. Nor can he be removed on the ground that the Union government has lost confidence in him”.The court further said that if the reasons for removal were irrelevant, mala fide or whimsical, they could invite judicial intervention.
The Congress is well aware that the NDA government’s hands are tied in the light of this court order. The Centre cannot officially ask the governors to resign as it can lead to a long-drawn legal battle. It has, therefore, asked Union home secretary Anil Goswami to call up the governors and suggest to them that they step down.The NDA government is clearly in a bind on this issue. It wants the Congress-appointed governors to go so that it can accommodate its own party nominees. But it cannot ask them to do so in writing.Realising that the ruling alliance is on a weak wicket, one governor is stated to have rejected the suggestion and has instead put the ball in the Centre’s court, stating that the government should write to her if it wants her resignation before the expiry of her five-year-term, sources said.
Enjoying the Centre’s discomfiture, senior Congress leader and leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad went as far as to describe the ruling alliance’s move as “dictatorial and political vendetta” and warned of serious repercussions. The NDA government, he said, does not have the brief to dismiss governors in an arbitrary and capricious manner with the change of power.Former finance minister P Chidambaram maintained the Centre should leave it to the governors to decide whether to continue in their posts or resign. "There is a case of intervention only where there is proven misconduct," he added.The NDA government has, therefore, been at pains to state that they have not asked any governor to resign but it also made it clear that it expects them to go on their own.“We have not sought resignation of state governors”, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar clarified, adding that the government will follow the Constitution on change of state governors, but governors should ‘follow their conscience.’
While this tug-a-war between the Congress and the NDA government is set to continue, there are several governors who are not on the ruling alliance’s radar for various reasons. For instance, Sikkim governor Shriniwas Dadasaheb Patil from the Nationalist Congress Party is unlikely to be touched after party chief Sharad Pawar put in a word for him with the BJP leadership.Similarly, Meghalaya governor K K Paul is unlikely to be asked to go. His wife Omita Paul is secretary to President Pranab Mukherjee and the BJP would obviously like to keep the President on its right side.
Sports News This Week:
1) India vs Bangladesh 3rd ODI: India take series 2-0 after third ODI called off:
Bangladesh spinner Shakib Al Hasan grabbed three quick wickets before the third and final one-day international against India was called off due to persistent rain. Shakib, 27, unravelled India's middle order after the fast bowlers had the visitors reeling at 13-3 in the day-night clash at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium in Dhaka.
But rain had the final say in the game which was abandoned with India 119-9 off 34.2 overs after electing to bat.
India pocketed the series 2-0, having won the first two games by seven wickets and 47 runs respectively. The match was initially reduced to 40-overs-a-side but frequent rain interruptions left the umpires with no option but to call off the game.
The Indians were off to a shaky start with both the openers being sent back cheaply by fast bowlers Al-Amin Hossain (2-23) and Mashrafe Mortaza (1-25). Teenage paceman Taskin Ahmed, who picked 5-28 on debut in the second ODI on Tuesday, took a wicket off his first ball to send back Ambati Rayudu for one.
Rayudu failed to read the extra bounce in the delivery and edged it straight to Mushfiqur Rahim behind the stumps. Taskin, 19, also dismissed Akshar Patel to finish with figures of 2-15.
Indian captain Suresh Raina appeared in fine form, hitting Al-Amin for three fours in an over to race to a run-a-ball 25 before he was caught behind off left-arm spinner Shakib.
Shakib would have picked a fourth wicket but his appeal for leg before wicket against Cheteshwar Pujara was turned down despite TV replays suggesting the ball would have hit stumps.
Raina added 41 runs for the fifth wicket with Pujara (27), the highest of the innings.
All-rounder Stuart Binny, coming into the game on the back of a sterling show with the ball in the previous game, wrapping up the series 2-0, impressed during his short stint with the bat, making an unbeaten 25 with four boundaries. Binny took 6-4 to help India win the second match by 47 rains despite defending a paltry 105.
Bangladesh also made one change to their side, replacing paceman Ziaur Rahman with Sohag Gazi.
Book of This Week:
The Mammoth Book of the World Cup : Nick Holt (Author)
A truly comprehensive and definitive guide to the FIFA World Cup, from Uruguay in 1930 to today. An all-encompassing, chronological guide to football's World Cup, one of the world's few truly international events, in good time for the June 2014 kick-off in Rio de Janeiro. From its beginnings in 1930 to the modern all-singing, all-dancing self-styled 'greatest show on Earth', every tournament is covered with features on major stars and great games, as well as stories about some less celebrated names and quirky stats and intriguing essays. Holt's focus is very much on what takes place on the field, rather than how football is a mirror for economic corruption or how a nation's style of play represents a profound statement about its people or how a passion for football can lift underpaid, socially marginalized people out of poverty. From the best World Cups, in 1958 and 1970, to the worst, in 1962 and 2010, he looks behind the facts and the technical observations to the stories - the mysterious sins of omission, critical injuries to key players and coaching U-turns. He explains how England's World Cup achievements under Sven-Göran Eriksson, far from being a national disgrace, were actually quite impressive and looks at why Alf Ramsey didn't take Bobby Charlton off in 1970, but this is no parochial, jingoistic account.
The book also asks why Brazil did not contribute in 1966, despite having won the previous two tournaments and going on to win the next one? Why the greatest players of their day did not always shine at the World Cup - George Best and Alfredo Di Stefano, for example, never even made it to the Finals. Why did Johann Cruyff not go to the 1978 World Cup? Why did one of Germany's greatest players never play in the World Cup? There are lots of tables, some filled with obvious, but necessary information, but others with more quirky observations. Alongside accounts of epic games, there are also brief biographies of all the great heroes of the World Cup.