Science News This Week:
1) Brain fills gaps to produce a likely picture:
Researchers use visual illusions to demonstrate to what extent the brain interprets visual signals. They were surprised to discover that active interpretation occurs early on in signal processing. In other words, we see not only with our eyes, but with our brain, too. The primary visual brain cortex is normally regarded as the area where eye signals are merely processed, but that has now been refuted by the new results.
Researchers at Radboud University use visual illusions to demonstrate to what extent the brain interprets visual signals. They were surprised to discover that active interpretation occurs early on in signal processing. In other words, we see not only with our eyes, but with our brain, too. Current Biology is publishing these results in the July issue.
The results obtained by the Radboud University researchers are illustrated, for example, by the visual illusion provided: we see a triangle that in fact is not there. The triangle is only suggested because of the way the 'Pac-Man' shapes are positioned; there appears to be a light-grey triangle on top of three black circles.
Seen in the fMRI
How does the brain do that? That was the question Peter Kok and Floris de Lange, from the Donders Institute at Radboud University in Nijmegen, asked themselves. Using fMRI, they discovered that the triangle -- although non-existent -- activates the primary visual brain cortex. This is the first area in the cortex to deal with a signal from the eyes.The primary visual brain cortex is normally regarded as the area where eye signals are merely processed, but that has now been refuted by the results Kok and De Lange obtained.
Recent theories assume that the brain does not simply process or filter external information, but actively interprets it. In the example described above, the brain decides it is more likely that a triangle would be on top of black circles than that three such circles, each with a bite taken out, would by coincidence point in a particular direction. After all, when we look around, we see triangles and circles more often than Pac-Man shapes.
Furthermore, objects very often lie on top of other things; just think of the books and piles of paper on your desk. The imaginary triangle is a feasible explanation for the bites taken out of the circles; the brain 'understands' they are 'merely' partly covered black circles.The unexpected requires more processing Kok and De Lange also noticed that whenever the Pac-Man shapes do not form a triangle, more brain activity is required. In the above image on the right, we see that the three Pac-Man shapes 'underneath' the triangle cause little brain activity (coloured blue), but the separate Pac-Man on the right causes more activity. This also fits in with the theory that perception is a question of interpretation: if something is easy to explain, less brain activity is needed to process that information, compared to when something is unexpected or difficult to account for -- as in the adjacent diagram.
2) Galaxy seed found from 3 billion years after Big Bang:
Dense stellar cluster may show how massive galaxies get their start. Even the mightiest galaxies start life as a small seed. Now researchers think they’ve identified a sprouting seed of a giant elliptical galaxy, churning out new stars just 3 billion years after the Big Bang. The discovery could help astronomers understand how the most massive galaxies in the universe are built.
Giant elliptical galaxies are big and boring. These nearly featureless behemoths can hold trillions of ancient stars. Because these silent titans have been largely dormant for billions of years astronomers had thought that elliptical galaxies were relics from an earlier time.
3) Scientists find the shocking truth about electric fish:
Writing June 27, 2014 in the journal Science, a team of researchers led by Michael Sussman of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Harold Zakon of the University of Texas at Austin and Manoj Samanta of the Systemix Institute in Redmond, Washington identifies the regulatory molecules involved in the genetic and developmental pathways that electric fish have used to convert a simple muscle into an organ capable of generating a potent electrical field. The work establishes the genetic basis for the electric organ, an anatomical feature found only in fish and that evolved independently half a dozen times in environments ranging from the flooded forests of the Amazon to murky marine environments."These fish have converted a muscle to an electric organ," explains Sussman, a professor of biochemistry and director of the UW-Madison Biotechnology Center, who first undertook the exploration of the electric organ almost a decade ago. The study published in Science provides evidence to support the idea that the six electric fish lineages, all of which evolved independently, used essentially the same genes and developmental and cellular pathways to make an electric organ, needed for defense, predation, navigation and communication.
"What is amazing is that the electric organ arose independently six times in the course of evolutionary history," says Lindsay Traeger, a UW-Madison graduate student in genetics and a co-lead author of the new report along with Jason Gallant, an assistant professor of zoology at Michigan State University.Adds Gallant: "The surprising result of our study is that electric fish seem to use the same 'genetic toolbox' to build their electric organ," despite the fact that they evolved independently.
Worldwide, there are hundreds of electric fish in six broad lineages. Their taxonomic diversity is so great that Darwin himself cited electric fishes as critical examples of convergent evolution, where unrelated animals independently evolve similar traits to adapt to a particular environment or ecological niche. The new work, which includes the first draft assembly of the complete genome of an electric fish, the South American electric eel, identifies the genetic factors and developmental paths the animals used to create an organ that, in some instances, can deliver a jolt several times more powerful than the current from a standard household electrical outlet.
Electric fish have long fascinated humans. The ancient Egyptians used the torpedo, an electric marine ray, in an early form of electrotherapy to treat epilepsy. Much of what Benjamin Franklin and other pioneering scientists learned about electricity came from studies of electric fish. In Victorian times, parties were organized where guests would form a chain to experience the shock of an electric fish."Only vertebrates have evolved this and only among fishes," notes James Albert, a professor of biology at the University of Louisiana and a co-author of the new study. "You need water as a conductor."The electric organ is used by fish in murky environments to communicate with mates, navigate, stun prey and as a shocking defense, probably a reason why the muddy Amazon and its tributaries teem with electric fish, including the electric eel, the most potent of them. Not really an eel but a fish more closely related to the catfish, the electric eel produces a jolting electric field of up to 600 volts, about 100 volts per foot of fish, notes Albert."A six-foot eel is a top predator in the water and is in essence a frog with a built-in five-and-a-half-foot cattle prod," says Sussman. "Since all of the visceral organs are near the face, the remaining 90 percent of the fish is almost all electric organ."As a means of communication and navigation in the dark, the generation of electric fields by fish works much the same as echolocation does for bats, says Albert. "These fish are nocturnal and the vast majority of them live at the bottom of a very muddy river, the Amazon."All muscle cells have electrical potential. Simple contraction of a muscle will release a small amount of voltage. But at least 100 million years ago some fish began to amplify that potential by evolving from muscle cells another type of cell called an electrocyte -- larger cells, organized in sequence and capable of generating much higher voltages than those used to make muscles work."If you remove the ability of the muscle cell to contract and change the distribution of proteins in the cell membrane, now all they do is push ions across a membrane to create a massive flow of positive charge," explains Traeger.
The "in-series alignment" of the electrocytes and unique polarity of each cell allows for the "summation of voltages, much like batteries stacked in series in a flashlight," says Sussman.The additional current required for the power comes from the fact that an eel body contains many millions of such "flashlights" working together and firing their electrical discharge simultaneously.In addition to sequencing and assembling DNA from the electric eel genome, the team produced protein sequences from the cells of the electric organs and skeletal muscles of three other electric fish lineages using RNA sequencing and analysis. A computationally intense comparative study of the sequences showed that electric organs in fish worldwide used the same genetic tools and cellular and developmental pathways to independently create the electric organ."I consider 'exotic' organisms such as the electric fish to be one of nature's wonders and an important 'gift' to humanity," says Sussman. "Our study demonstrates nature's creative powers and its parsimony, using the same genetic and developmental tools to invent an adaptive trait time and again in widely disparate environments. By learning how nature does this, we may be able to manipulate the process with muscle in other organisms and, in the near future, perhaps use the tools of synthetic biology to create electrocytes for generating electrical power in bionic devices within the human body or for uses we have not thought of yet."
4) Scientists unearth what may be secret weapon against antibiotic resistance:
A fungus living in the soils of Nova Scotia could offer new hope in the pressing battle against drug-resistant germs that kill tens of thousands of people every year, including one considered a serious global threat. A team of researchers led by McMaster University has discovered a fungus-derived molecule, known as AMA, which is able to disarm one of the most dangerous antibiotic-resistance genes: NDM-1 or New Delhi Metallo-beta-Lactamase-1, identified by the World Health Organization as a global public health threat.
"This is public enemy number one," explains Gerry Wright, director of the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research at McMaster University."It came out of nowhere, it has spread everywhere and has basically killed our last resource of antibiotics, the last pill on the shelf, used to treat serious infections," he says.Discovering the properties of the fungus-derived molecule is critical because it can provide a means to target and rapidly block the drug-resistant pathogens that render carbapenem antibiotics -- a class of drugs similar to penicillin -- ineffective."Simply put, the molecule knocks out NDM-1 so the antibiotics can do their job," says Wright.Seeking an answer to the riddle of resistance in the natural environment is a far more promising approach than trying to discover new antibiotics, a challenge which has perplexed scientists for decades. No new classes of antibiotics have been discovered since the late 1980s, leaving physicians with very few tools to fight life-threatening infections."Not only do we have the emergence of an antibiotic resistance gene that is targeting the last drug resource we have left, but it is carried by organisms that cause all sorts of challenging diseases and are multi-drug-resistant already. It has been found not only in clinics but in the environment -- in contaminated water in South Asia -- which has contributed to its spread over the globe," explains Wright. "Our thinking was that if we could find a molecule that blocks NDM-1 then these antibiotics would be useful again."
Wright and his team from McMaster, University of British Columbia and Cardiff University in Wales created a sophisticated screening method to take the NDM-1 gene, combine it with harmless E. coli bacteria and then isolate a molecule capable of stopping NDM-1 in its tracks.NMD-1 requires zinc to thrive but finding a way to remove zinc from it without causing a toxic effect in humans was a daunting task, until the discovery of the fungal molecule, which appears to perform the job naturally and harmlessly.Scientists then tested the theory on mice infected with an NDM-1 expressing superbug. The mice that received a combination of the AMA molecule and a carbapenem antibiotic survived, while those that received either an antibiotic or AMA alone to fight the infection did not survive."This will solve one aspect of a daunting problem. AMA rescues the activity of carbapenem antibiotics, so instead of having no antibiotics, there will be some," says Wright. "This is a made-in-Canada solution for a global problem.""Antibiotic resistance may be the most urgent and perplexing challenge facing health-care researchers today," says Dr. John Kelton, dean of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and vice-president of the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster. "This research provides new hope by showing us a completely new way to approach this problem, and none too soon, given the growing risk that superbugs pose to all of us. "The findings are published online in the current edition of the journal Nature.
"Antibiotic resistance is one of the top public health concerns in Canada and internationally and it represents a research priority for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). It is exciting to see Canadian researchers finding innovative strategies to overcome antimicrobial resistance," says Dr. Marc Ouellette, scientific director of the CIHR Institute of Infection and Immunity.
5) New theory on cause of ice age 2.6 million years ago:
New research in the journal Nature's Scientific Reports has provided a major new theory on the cause of the ice age that covered large parts of the Northern Hemisphere 2.6 million years ago.
The study, co-authored by Dr Thomas Stevens, from the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London, found a previously unknown mechanism by which the joining of North and South America changed the salinity of the Pacific Ocean and caused major ice sheet growth across the Northern Hemisphere.
The change in salinity encouraged sea ice to form which in turn created a change in wind patterns, leading to intensified monsoons. These provided moisture that caused an increase in snowfall and the growth of major ice sheets, some of which reached 3km thick.The team of researchers analyzed deposits of wind-blown dust called red clay that accumulated between six million and two and a half million years ago in north central China, adjacent to the Tibetan plateau, and used them to reconstruct changing monsoon precipitation and temperature.
"Until now, the cause of the Quaternary ice age had been a hotly debated topic," said Dr Stevens. "Our findings suggest a significant link between ice sheet growth, the monsoon and the closing of the Panama Seaway, as North and South America drifted closer together. This provides us with a major new theory on the origins of the ice age, and ultimately our current climate system."Surprisingly, the researchers found there was a strengthening of the monsoon during global cooling, instead of the intense rainfall normally associated with warmer climates.Dr Stevens added: "This led us to discover a previously unknown interaction between plate tectonic movements in the Americas and dramatic changes in global temperature. The intensified monsoons created a positive feedback cycle, promoting more global cooling, more sea ice and even stronger precipitation, culminating in the spread of huge glaciers across the Northern Hemisphere."
Movie Release This Week:
As humanity picks up the pieces, following the conclusion of Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Autobots and Decepticons have all but vanished from the face of the planet. However, a group of powerful, ingenious businessman and scientists attempt to learn from past Transformer incursions and push the boundaries of technology beyond what they can control – all while an ancient, powerful Transformer menace sets Earth in his crosshairs. The epic adventure and battle between good and evil, freedom and enslavement ensues.
An adaptation of the French graphic novel, the story takes place aboard the titular train as it travels around in an endless circle, filled with the remnants of humanity after a devastating war. There are separate sections for the separate classes, and obviously all is not harmonious within.
The young Tore seeks a new life in Hamburg among the religious group called The Jeus Freaks. When he by accident meets a family and helps them to repair their car, he believes that a heavenly wonder has helped him. He starts a friendship with the father of the family, Benno, and soon he moves in with them at their garden plot, not knowing the cruelty there is to come. True to his religious belief Tore stays with them although the increasing violence by Benno is torturing him...
When Joel (Rudd) and Molly (Poehler) meet, it's hate at first sight; his big corporation is the one that threatens to shut down her quirky knick-knack store. Story, which follows their predictably on-again/off-again relationship, features rom-com staples such as the jealous ex-girlfriend, the office jerk, scary in-laws, a boring dentist, a wise dog and beautiful shots of New York City in autumn.
The story of programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz. From Swartz's help in the development of the basic internet protocol RSS to his co-founding of Reddit, his fingerprints are all over the internet. But it was Swartz's groundbreaking work in social justice and political organizing combined with his aggressive approach to information access that ensnared him in a two year legal nightmare. It was a battle that ended with the taking of his own life at the age of 26.
Aaron's story touched a nerve with people far beyond the online communities in which he was a celebrity. This film is a personal story about what we lose when we are tone deaf about technology and its relationship to our civil liberties.
Political News This Week:
1) How Dawood legally carries out illegal activities:
It’s a known fact that India’s most wanted man, Dawood Ibrahim, mastermind of the 1993 Mumbai blasts and dreaded underworld don, funds terror outfits in exchange for protection in Pakistan.
Despite so much talk about him and with the United States designating him as a terrorist a few years back, it is ironic how he manages to continue with his criminal activities. especially on Indian soil.
To put it in one sentence, Dawood Ibrahim uses a legal option to carry out an illegal activity.
In 2011,a group of men working for the D Company, as Dawood’s underworld network is referred to, had floated a fake company in London and bribed officials in India to undertake the ship-breaking business.
This meant that this company had the rights to bring in a ship in bad condition into Indian waters and undertake the breaking operation in India. Ships in bad condition normally enter the Indian waters through Chennai and are brought largely from Sri Lanka. This is then transported to Alang in Gujarat where the ship-breaking industry is based.
The problem is that these ships, when brought into India, are loaded with arms and drugs and very often get away as normally they go unchecked as they have a valid permit under the guise of a ship-breaking licence.
Also in many cases officials do not check these ships as they have been bribed on several occasions.
The first time that the Intelligence Bureau brought this to the notice of the central government was in 2012. The IB, during its briefing, had detailed the entry of these ships into India and also spoke at length about the security risks involved. Not just arms and drugs but at times even cadres of terrorist outfits are brought in and offloaded at select ports including Chennai, the IB had reported.The agency also stated that while the original destination had to be Alang, many of these ships do not stop there and manage to get away. In the past two years, at least 15 ships which were brought in to be dismantled never reached Alang and have disappeared off the Indian coast, the IB had further stated.
Recently the Centre decided to revisit this subject and sought a detailed report. This falls under the ambit of maritime security and there is hardly anything that the state authorities can do about this barring passing on information. Maritime security is directly under the control of the central government.There are several indications to show that Dawood Ibrahim is not taking the new regime led by Narendra Modi lightly. There are reports that he shifted base from Karachi to Waziristan in Pakistan once the new government took over as he is aware one of the major agendas of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance dispensation is to hunt him down.
2) Wrecked honeymoon: Modi is doing what Manmohan did:
Presenting a report card on completion of 30 days in office on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi rued that he did not have the luxury of 'honeymoon' period as a "series of allegations" were levelled against his government in less than 100 hours.
His statement is indeed ironic as a look back on the developments following the formation of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government in 2004 will show that the defeated Bharatiya Janata Party was on the warpath from day one and did not allow Parliament to transact any business in the maiden session of the new regime.In fact, Modi appears to be echoing his predecessor's words as former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh often lamented that his government was denied the usual honeymoon period.The BJP took to the streets soon after Manmohan named his council of ministers. The BJP first led a delegation to the President to protest the inclusion of ‘tainted’ ministers in the new dispensation.The angry protests continued when the United Progressive Alliance government's first Parliament session was convened.Manmohan was not allowed to introduce his council of ministers because of the ceaseless disruptions by the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.
The opposition's confrontationist approach further ensured that Manmohan was not allowed to reply to the debate on the motion of thanks to the President’s address to Parliament.Next, the BJP again defied convention when it boycotted the parliamentary standing committees to protest what was described as Manmohan’s angry response to the Opposition when it went to his chamber to submit a memorandum of demands to him.
Upset at the BJP's continuing obstruction of the UPA government’s budget session, Manmohan had told off the BJP delegation, saying they should raise these issues during the course of a parliamentary debate.The formation of the standing committees was consequently delayed because of this stand-off. It also meant that the ministers to place their views on the demands for grants and nor did the opposition allow a debate on the budget.As a result, the UPA government was forced to announce that the Budget should be taken as adopted.
There was no let-up in the BJP’s stand even after the UPA government’s first Parliament session failed to conduct any business. Then leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha L K Advani steadfastly maintained that the BJP would keep up its protests against the inclusion of “tainted ministers”. "This government has started its tenure by criminalising not just politics but criminalising the government. None of the governments in the past have done so," he had said.The BJP’s continuing obstruction of Parliament always rankled Manmohan. As late as last year when he was under attack on the coal blocks allocation, an angry Manmohan had pointed out: "Have you ever heard of a situation in any parliament where the prime minister is not allowed to introduce his council of ministers?”He had further maintained that if the record of last nine years is looked at, “The principal opposition has never reconciled itself that it was voted out of power in 2004.”
It was against this backdrop that Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala on Friday questioned Modi’s comment on being denied a “honeymoon period.”“How can Modi now talk about being denied a honeymoon period? The BJP has forgotten that it did not allow Manmohan to introduce his council of ministers or reply to the debate on the Presidential address in 2004,” Surjewala reminded Modi.Having donned the mantle of opposition, the Congress also raised a series of questions in its response to Modi’s blog.
A two-page written questionnaire, the Congress asked about the ‘centralisation of power’ in the new government, the rise in prices of essential commodities such as sugar, the recent rail fare hike, the delay in the implementation of the Food Security Act, mismanagement of the power sector and its “unconstitutional and unwarranted” interference in the appointment of Supreme Court judges.Having flagged all these issues, it is now to be seen if the Congress will be able to put the Modi-led NDA government on the mat in the budget session of Parliament commencing on July 7.The grand old party is severely handicapped as its strength in the Lok Sabha has been reduced to 44 seats. Moreover, there is no sign of any floor coordination among the Opposition parties which, so far, appear to be pulling in different directions.
3) Several killed after major blast at GAIL pipeline in Andhra Pradesh:
Fifteen people were killed and 18 injured when a massive blaze raged through a village in Andhra Pradesh's East Godavari district following a blast in an apparently leaking gas pipeline on Friday morning."Bodies of 13 people charred in the incident were recovered from the gutted houses. Two others succumbed to their burn injuries while undergoing treatment at different hospitals," Amalapuram Deputy Superintendent of Police M Veera Reddy told PTI.
18 injured people were shifted to different hospitals in the district, another police officer said, adding the deceased include five women, three girls and a boy. The leaping flames from the state-run Gas Authority of India Limited pipeline at Nagram village in Mamidikuduru Mandal of the district quickly swept through nearby houses and coconut plantations, leaving behind a trail of destruction."The blast and subsequent blaze which started around 5 am spread swiftly engulfing houses, coconut farms and vehicles parked in the vicinity. In 15 minutes everything was gutted," the police officer said.
The fire got apparently triggered when a tea shop vendor lit up a stove, setting off a blast, IGP North Coastal Zone Atul Singh said. A GAIL official, however, quoted its Chairman B C Tripathi as saying, "The exact cause of the blast is not immediately known. After an inquiry only we will get the details and cause of the blast."An 18-inch pipeline feeds gas to Lanco's Kondapalli power plant near Vijaywada. Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has ordered a high-level inquiry headed by a joint secretary in his ministry. The probe panel will have officials of Oil Industry Safety Directorate, NDMA and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd as members but GAIL and ONGC, from whose fields gas was being supplied, have been kept out of it.The blaze occurred barely a few hundred metres from ONGC's Tatipaka Refinery located at the village. "The gas pipeline has been shut. Fire has been controlled. This is a very serious situation and I have ordered a high-level inquiry into the incident," Pradhan, who is scheduled to visit the scene, told media persons in Delhi.
Petroleum Secretary Saurabh Chandra, GAIL Chairman B C Tripathi and ONGC Chairman D K Sarraf are scheduled to accompany him. President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi have condoled the loss of lives in the tragedy.Modi has announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs two lakh from the PM's Relief Fund for the next of the kin of those killed. "My thoughts (are) with the families of those who lost their lives in the GAIL pipeline fire in AP. (My) prayers (are) with the injured," Modi said.Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu today cut short his visit to Delhi and rushed to Rajamundry.
A statement from the government of Andhra Pradesh said the chief minister has cut short his tour programme and rushed to Rajamundry along with Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan in a special flight Friday afternoon.Naidu expressed his condolence over the fire accident reported at Mamidikuduru in Amalapuram of East Godavari district, it added.Ahead of his departure from Delhi, Naidu told reporters that he received information about the accident this morning and he is monitoring the situation with the district collector regarding rescue and relief measures.AP Home Minister N Chinna Rajappa is at the accident spot and monitoring assistance and rehabilitation operations, he added.
Replying to a query, Naidu said taking remedial measures to prevent such accidents in the future is vital. He also stated that the issue would be probed and necessary action would be taken."If the accident was because of the negligence of any official, action would be initiated against them," the statement quoting Naidu said.
4) Fire at building in Mumbai's CST station:
A fire broke out in a building at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus station in Mumbai on Friday evening but no casualty has been reported so far, fire officials said.The blaze started on the fifth floor of the new administrative building of the Central Railway at D N Road. Eight fire tenders were rushed to the spot, according to fire brigade officials."We got a call at about 5 pm and we immediately pressed four fire tenders into service. Thereafter, the fire was upgraded one notch to Grade 2 and a total of eight fire tenders, snorkels and ambulances have now been rushed to the spot," an official said.Vehicular traffic on the JJ flyover has been halted temporarily and services of few trains in the suburban line have also been affected, they said.The cause of the blaze has not been ascertained yet and efforts are on to evacuate the officials working in the building, the official added.
5) Flash floods kill several in Guwahati, throw life out of gear:
Eight persons were killed because of landslides and electrocution due to flash floods triggered by a night-long downpour in Guwahati on Friday. All the main thoroughfares and most of the localities were flooded, disrupting daily life.
All education institutions in the city were rendered non-functional, while government offices, including the ground floor offices in the sate secretariat complex were under flood water.
6) Pakistan violates ceasefire again, fires at Indian posts in Poonch:
Pakistani troops violated the bilateral ceasefire at the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district on Thursday night.
Pakistan resorted to heavy firing at Indian posts along the LoC in Bhimbher Gali-Gambhir forward areas of Poonch around 0035 hours and continued till 1.30 am, a senior Army officer said. A Defence spokesman said, “Pakistani troops carried out unprovoked firing using small arms and automatic weapons. Our troops gave a fitting reply using similar caliber weapons. No damage or casualties have been reported from either sides.India and Pakistan agreed to the ceasefire along the LoC in November 2003. However, there have been several violations since then, especially last year.Earlier this year too, the Pakistani troops had violated the ceasefire along the International Border in Samba district on June 17 and 18 when Pakistani Rangers resorted to firing on 6-HR BoP in Suchetgarh-Kullian forward belt.
On June 13, Pakistan troops had resorted to heavy firing of mortar shells and automatic weapons on Indian posts along the LoC in Mendhar-Bhimber Gali-Keri forward areas in Poonch district. There were 19 incidents of ceasefire violation along the LoC in April-May.
7) Swaraj concludes talks in Bangladesh, leaves for home:
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday returned home after her maiden standalone overseas tour to Bangladesh with an understanding that she has made an "excellent beginning" in addressing each others' concerns in the spirit of good neighbourliness.
"Our assessment of the visit is...it was extremely fruitful and satisfying," Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs told reporters at the Hazrat Shahjala lInternational Airport ahead of her departure.He said that Swaraj is returning with an understanding that "it is an excellent beginning in addressing each others' concerns and work together with the spirit of good neighbourliness".Earlier, Swaraj held a meeting with former Bangladesh prime minister and Chairperson of Bangladesh Nationalist Party Khaleda Zia, who met the visiting leader in her hotel.Swaraj held a 30-minute meeting with Zia, who had boycotted the January 5 elections and accused that the Awami League government led by her arch-rival Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina lacked people's mandate.Asked if India's engagement and with the incumbent government in Bangladesh would continue until its tenure till 2019, the Spokesperson said "governments work with governments and Indian government will work with Bangladeshi government"."All other issues, internal to Bangladesh, will need to be addressed by the people of Bangladesh," he said apparently referring to Zia's allegations. Swaraj's last engagement in Dhaka was a 45-minute meeting with leader of the opposition Raushan Ershad of Jatiya Party at her office in parliament.Bangladesh's foreign secretary Shahidul Haque and Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Tarique A Karim saw Swaraj off at the VIP lounge of the airport. Earlier on the day, Swaraj visited the Dhakeswari National Temple and held a meeting with prime minister's international affairs adviser Gowher Rizvi.Swaraj held a series of meetings with the top leadership here yesterday including Bangladesh's President Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister Hasina, and held delegation-level talks with her Bangladeshi counterpart A H Mahmud Ali.During her meetings, Swaraj gave a commitment to address Bangladesh's concerns over sharing of Teesta waters and implementation of the Land Boundary Agreement "in a manner that improves the welfare and well-being of both our people".
She also handed over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's letter to Hasina in which he pledged to further strengthen the framework of ties. Modi, while thanking Hasina for her letter of felicitation on his assumption of office, also accepted her invitation to visit Bangladesh. He also extended an invitation to her to visit India at her earliest convenience.
8) Over 300 bank accounts, 200 firms used to commit Saradha scam: ED:
A complicated maze of 338 bank accounts and 224 companies was used by the perpetrators of the Saradha chitfund scam which is alleged to have duped numerous investors of their hard earned monies in various states including West Bengal, Odisha and Assam.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED), which has been probing the Saradha scam under money laundering laws, has put together the jigsaw puzzle through which the Saradha group and its sister companies conducted the alleged dubious business transactions which came to light early last year after investors raised their voice and said they were cheated.
In one of the most voluminous investigations being carried out by the agency involving lakhs of multi-layered transactions, it was allegedly found that "more than 90 per cent of such companies existed only on paper and only 17 companies out of the 224 companies actually had carried out some business." The rest, investigators claimed, were floated as "dummies" to act as cover for unleashing the alleged ponzi scheme. The latest ED probe report has ascertained that the laundering amount in this case amounts close to Rs 1983.02 crore and it has identified it as "proceeds of crime" as stipulated under the criminal provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Investigations by the central enforcement agency found that a part of this huge amount was allegedly "channelled into various investments through a maze of 338 bank accounts in various branches of different banks and a total of 224 private limited companies were floated with definite equity basis so as to conceal the irregular collection defrauding the common mass.
"Except a handful of these companies, the probe report alleged that "all the others were registering loss in their annual profit and loss accounts." Investigative agencies probing the case including ED, state police departments of West Bengal, Odisha and Assam, have brought under their scanner four companies of the Saradha group which are Saradha Realty Private India Limited, Saradha Tours and Travels Pvt Ltd, Saradha Garden Resort and Hotel Pvt Ltd and Saradha Housing Pvt Ltd as they have been alleged to have mobilised money from the public, the returns of which were later duped leading to the scam.
The ED probe found that "no policy certificate was issued to the investors" who had put their hard earned money in the business activities of these firms as they were falsely promised high returns in violation of existing laws prevalent in this domain.
The agency is now expected to file a charge sheet in this case by next month even as it has attached assets worth Rs 140 crore after it registered four FIRs and recorded statements of various people involved in the case including the arrested Chairman of the group Sudipta Sen.A total of 390 bank accounts have been frozen by the agency till now even as it has written to these financial institutions for providing details on "lakhs of transactions" done by the group before it got defunct and closed shop. The agency is also expected to attach more assets of the group and of the entities involved under PMLA laws as the particular provision in this law is aimed to deprive the accused the benefits of his or her ill-gotten wealth.
The scam is now also being probed by CBI following a recent direction of the Supreme Court. The four companies of the Saradha Group, an investigation report of the West Bengal police and the ED earlier had said used to mobilise funds through three schemes - fixed deposit, recurring deposit and monthly income deposit - which lured depositors with promises of either "landed property or a foreign tour" as incentive.The report had stated that "the summary report (of the group) for the years 2008-12 revealed that the four companies of Saradha Group had mobilised an amount of Rs 2,459.59 crore through issuance of their policies.""The investors were paid an amount of Rs 476.57 crore. As of April 16, 2013, the principal amount to be paid to the investors stood at Rs 1,983.02 crore," the report had said. The Saradha scam has grabbed headlines as a number of high-profile people including politicians and sitting MPs are under the scanner of the various probe agencies in this case.
9) Saradha Scam: Businessman Shantanu Ghosh Arrested By ED:
Santanu Ghosh, the chairperson of computer manufacturing company, Xenitis Group, who was apprehended by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), was remanded by a city court to five days of custody of the central agency here on Wednesday. The ED is probing the Saradha scam.
Mr Ghosh was arrested from a south Kolkata building late on Tuesday night for allegedly selling his companies to scam-tainted chairman of Saradha Group Sudipta Sen. Incidentally, Mr Ghosh was one of the favourite industrialists of some of the top leaders of the Left Front government. He made many public appearances with the top Left Front ministers and MPs, who promoted his projects openly. With his arrest, Mr Ghosh became the first person outside the tainted Saradha Group to be arrested in the multi-crore scam.Businessman Shantanu Ghosh has been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate Tuesday for his alleged involvement in the multi-billion rupees Saradha scam.
According to the reports, Ghosh, who runs Global Automobiles took a huge loan from the Saradha Group, but never returned the money. He will be produced in court on Wednesday.
Shantanu Ghosh was in news in 2007 for launching a bike and laptops under the range of Rs. 20,000. He is the tenth person to be arrested by the security agencies in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam.
Sports News This Week:
1) Czech-mate for Li Na in Wimbledon third round:
There was no end in sight to Li Na's unhappy association with Wimbledon as the world number two suffered a shock third round exit at Wimbledon on Friday, going down 7-6(5) 7-6(5) to the Czech Republic's Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.
Li was champion on red clay at Roland Garros in 2011 and on the hard courts of the Australian Open in January but grass has proved to be tougher surface to conquer for the popular Chinese player.
Her hopes of improving on three previous quarter-final appearances ended on Friday when she whipped a forehand long on match point to become the highest seed to fall so far at this year's championships.
Zahlavova Strycova raised her arms in triumph as she finally reached the second week of a grand slam at her 33rd attempt and after more than a decade of trying.The 28-year-old will play former world number one Caroline Wozniacki for a place in the quarter-finals.
2) Djokovic through to last 16 after injury scare:
Rolling around in pain clutching his left shoulder, Novak Djokovic's Wimbledon hopes looked in serious jeopardy against Gilles Simon on Centre Court on Friday but he recovered to win 6-4 6-2 6-4 and reach the last 16.
Leading 3-2 in the third set the Serb was closing in on an uneventful victory against his French opponent when he stumbled and dived to reach a forehand, crashing heavily to the turf.
With the 2011 champion apparently in extreme pain and with concerned coach Boris Becker watching on, it looked as though Djokovic might not be able to continue but after walking to his chair where a trainer manipulated his shoulder, he carried on.Despite looking a little tentative, he showed no obvious signs of discomfort and finished the job with a smash.Djokovic will now get the weekend to recover from his fall before playing 14th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France in the fourth round.
3) Suarez home after World Cup expulsion, length of ban questioned :
Luis Suarez flew home to Uruguay on Friday after being thrown out of the World Cup and banned from soccer for four months for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini, who criticized the punishment as "excessive".
Liverpool striker Suarez was met by outraged President Jose Mujica when he landed at a military base next to Uruguay's main airport before dawn, an air force spokesman said.After his arrival on Friday, Suarez, his wife and other family members were driven to a home he has in the small coastal town of Solymar.The 27-year-old striker has not spoken publicly since soccer's world governing body FIFA ruled on Thursday that he cannot play in Uruguay's next nine competitive matches and suspended him from the game for four months.FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke defended the decision, saying that Suarez's previous misdemeanours on the pitch had been taken into account. The player has been banned twice before for biting during club games."If it's the first time, it's an incident. More than once, it is not any more an incident," Valcke told reporters. "That is why also the sanction, it has to be exemplary."He also said Suarez should seek treatment to help him avoid such incidents in the future."I don't know if it exists, but he should do something by himself because it's definitely wrong."
The ban has sparked fury in Suarez's homeland and his victim Chiellini came out on Friday and said he felt no anger towards the Uruguayan.
"Now inside me there's no feelings of joy, revenge or anger against Suarez for an incident that happened on the pitch and that's done," the Juventus center back said in a statement on his website.
"... I believe that the proposed formula is excessive," Chiellini added.
FIFPro, the international soccer players' union, also questioned the severity of the punishment, which will mean Suarez misses the start of the season for his English club Liverpool.
"FIFPro believes all affected parties may benefit (from) more time to remove the emotion, reflect and re-establish the facts in a calm and considered setting," it said.The punishment immediately ended Suarez's involvement in the tournament in Brazil, with Uruguay due to face an in-form Colombia in a round of 16 tie on Saturday.Suarez's ban is the longest ever imposed at a World Cup. It means he is unlikely to appear in competitive matches for his country until 2016. "He is totally distraught. He never thought the punishment would be so severe," said Alejandro Balbi, a member of the Uruguayan Football Association's board and Suarez's lawyer.
4) Wozniacki keeps her cool to beat 16-year-old Croat:
Caroline Wozniacki kept her composure to end the spirited run of 16-year-old Croat Ana Konjuh 6-3 6-0 in the third round of Wimbledon on Friday.
Wimbledon debutante Konjuh, the youngest player to reach the last 32 at the All England Club since 2005, forced Wozniacki on the backfoot for much of the first set, combining punchy hitting with deft touches at the net.
The world No.189 hit 19 winners compared to the Dane’s nine, but Wozniacki broke Konjuh’s spirit by winning nine games on the trot from 3-3 to seal a place in the second week of the grasscourt major for the fourth time.
The 16th seed will play either Australian Open champion Li Na or Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova on Monday she bids to reach the quarter-finals for first time.
5) Dark days ahead for cricket: Lalit Modi:
N Srinivasan will make the sport highly politicised, hugely wealthy and largely unaccountable, says the former IPL commissioner.
Members in the BCCI might be lauding N. Srinivasan’s appointment as the first chairman of the ICC, but former IPL chairman Lalit Modi is a worried man.
Lalit ModiLalit Modi“It is truly a sad day in world cricket as Srinivasan takes over as the chairman of the ICC. Despite being removed by the Supreme Court as BCCI chief, he has been formally appointed the first chairman of the ICC after its 52- member council approved a controversial revamp of the body’s administrative structure, which in itself is a harbinger of the dark days ahead for world cricket,” Modi said.
Commenting on the other concerns that faces Srinivasan, Modi said: “ India’s FBI, the Central Bureau of Investigation ( CBI), is pursuing allegations of fraud committed by him as managing director of India Cements. He is also at the centre of allegations of tax fraud by failing to pay stamp duty on 11 luxury vehicles that were seized by the CBI in March.
Srinivasan suffers conflict of interest in world cricket, with his India Cements buying the Chennai Super Kings IPL franchise for $ 91 million. The BCCI wholly owns the billion dollar IPL, so as president of the BCCI, Srinivasan has the influence over the game’s biggest T20 competition and therefore the value of his franchise.” Modi feels ICC will become largely unaccountable.
“The ICC will now become highly politicised, hugely wealthy, largely unaccountable and arguably more representative of the new kind of administration that Srinivasan is known for,” he said.
Book Of This Week:
Journey to the End of the Night : by Louis-Ferdinand Céline
Journey to the End of the Nightis the first and most famous novel by Louis-Ferdinand Celine. Beyond the stylistic revolution brought by Celine, this is a novel of initiation in which Bardamu, the hero, will learn the misery and emptiness of existence.Summary of Journey to the End of the Night by CelineBardamu joined the army and accidentally discovers the horror of World War I, but became friends with Robinson, his brother in arms. Wounded and reformed, he attended a few women of low (Lola, Musyne) and then left France for Africa. There he finds the brutality of colonial life. Bardamu contracted a tropical disease and is transported by ship UNTIL the United States. He visited New York and Detroit, where he was hired as a worker at Ford. The discovery of life does not stop working to bind temporarily to Molly, a prostitute. But he returned to France to become a doctor at Drancy, a poor city. There he discovers the daily misery, death and greed. Tired of the patients, he joined a troupe of music hall, while Robinson, who met a woman (Madelon), became blind. He returned to Paris to work in a psychiatric hospital. Dr. Baritone, who runs the establishment, goes mad. Robinson will be killed by his mistress, leaving Bardamu alone.
The dark side of On the Road: instead of seeking kicks, the French narrator travels the globe to find an ever deeper disgust for
Louis-Ferdinand Celine's revulsion and anger at what he considered the idiocy and hypocrisy of society explodes from nearly every page of this novel. Filled with slang and obscenities and written in raw, colloquial language, Journey to the End of the Night is a literary symphony of violence, cruelty and obscene nihilism. This book shocked most critics when it was first published in France in 1932, but quickly became a success with the reading public in Europe, and later in America where it was first published by New Directions in 1952. The story of the improbable yet convincingly described travels of the petit-bourgeois (and largely autobiographical) antihero, Bardamu, from the trenches of World War I, to the African jungle, to New York and Detroit, and finally to life as a failed doctor in Paris, takes the readers by the scruff and hurtles them toward the novel's inevitable, sad conclusion.
Louis-Ferdinand Céline (French) was the pen name of Louis Ferdinand Auguste Destouches ( 27 May 1894 – 1 July 1961), a French novelist, pamphleteer and physician. The name Céline was the first name of his grandmother. He developed a new style of writing that modernized French literature.
In 1925 Céline left his family, never to return. Working for the newly founded League of Nations, he travelled to Switzerland, England, the Cameroons, Canada, the United States, and Cuba. During this period, he began to write the play L'Eglise (1933; The Church).
In 1926 he visited America, and was sent to Detroit to study the conditions of the workers at the Ford Automotive company. Seeing the effects of the "assembly line" disgusted him. His article described the plant as a sensory attack on the worker, and how this attack had literally made the worker part of the machine.
In 1928, Céline returned to medicine to establish a private practice in Montmartre, in the north end of Paris, specializing in obstetrics.He ended his private practice in 1931 to work in a public dispensary.
Céline's best-known work is Voyage au bout de la nuit, translated into English most recently by Ralph Manheim. It violated many of the literary conventions of the time, using the rhythms and, to a certain extent, the vocabulary of slang and vulgar speech in a more consistent and occasionally more difficult way than earlier writers who had made similar attempts (notably Émile Zola), in the tradition of François Villon. The book became a success, but Céline was not awarded the Prix Goncourt, despite strong support; the award went to Guy Mazeline's novel Les Loups (The Wolves). The voting was controversial enough to become the subject of a book (Goncourt 32 by Eugène Saccomano, 1999).
In 1936 Céline published Mort à crédit (Death on the Installment Plan), giving innovative, chaotic, and antiheroic visions of human suffering. Here, he extensively used ellipses scattered throughout the text to enhance the rhythm and to emphasise the style of speech. In both books he showed himself to be a great stylistic innovator and a masterful storyteller. French author Jean-Paul Sartre publicly praised Céline during this period.