Science News This Week:
1) Flightless dino-bird wore full-body feathers :
New Archaeopteryx fossil complicates plumage evolution . A fully feathered fossil of the dinosaur-like bird Archaeopteryx is ruffling scientists’ understanding of what drove early feather evolution, scientists report July 2 in Nature.
Archaeopteryx was one of the earliest birds, spanning the evolutionary gap between feathered dinosaurs and modern birds. The flightless fowl roamed 150 million years ago during the Jurassic period and grew to the size of a well-fed pigeon. Paleontologist Christian Foth of the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and colleagues examined a recently unearthed Archaeopteryx fossil, only the 11th known specimen. While Archaeopteryx is known for its feathers, the well-preserved fossil has quill-like feathers not only on the wings and tail but also on its body and legs.
The team compared the fossil’s feather layout to the distribution of feathers on other fossils, including both dinosaurs and early birds, and found a surprising amount of variation between species. The researchers say this range of feather patterns implies that many different feather uses, such as insulation and mating displays, drove the evolution of early plumage. Only later were feathers repurposed for flight, the team concludes.
2) Near reefs, microbial mix dictated by coral and algae:
Nutrients alone don’t explain which bacteria dominate.Coral and seaweed choose the bacteria that float in the waters above tropical reefs, a study of marine microbes suggests.
Microbial ecologist Linda Kelly of San Diego State University and colleagues examined microbes from the water just above 22 coral reefs. The organisms that claim the most real estate on the reef, coral or algae, determine which species of microbe live in the water, the researchers report June 30 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
3) New species of small mammal discovered by scientists from California Academy of Science:
Scientists from the California Academy of Sciences have discovered a new species of round-eared sengi, or elephant-shrew, in the remote deserts of southwestern Africa. This is the third new species of sengi to be discovered in the wild in the past decade. It is also the smallest known member of the 19 sengis in the order Macroscelidea. The team's discovery and description of the Etendeka round-eared sengi (Macroscelides micus) is published this week in the Journal of Mammalogy. While collecting and examining sengi specimens from southwestern Africa, Drs. Jack Dumbacher and Galen Rathbun encountered an unusual specimen collected in the remote northwestern region of Namibia that differed in appearance from any of the museum specimens that they had examined previously. The specimen was significantly smaller, had rust-colored fur, a large, hairless gland on the underside of its tail, and lacked dark skin pigment. Preliminary genetic analysis also showed important differences between this specimen and close relatives.Suspecting they may have encountered a new species, the team -- including research colleagues in Namibia, Timothy Osborne (California Academy of Sciences), Michael Griffin (Republic of Namibia Ministry of Environment and Tourism), and Seth Eiseb (National Museum of Namibia), all co-authors on the paper -- set out on nine expeditions between 2005-2011. In total, the team collected 16 specimens for comparative analyses.
Comparing the specimens to those in natural history collections in Windhoek, Pretoria, London, Los Angeles, and the Academy in San Francisco, and further genetic analysis, confirmed that they had, in fact, found a new species, demonstrating the critical role that scientific collections play in biodiversity studies."Had our colleagues not collected those first invaluable specimens, we would never have realized that this was in fact a new species, since the differences between this and all other known species are very subtle," says Dumbacher, the Academy's Curator of Ornithology and Mammalogy. "Several museum collections were instrumental in determining that what we had was truly new to science, highlighting the value of collections for this type of work. Genetically, Macroscelides micus is very different from other members of the genus and it's exciting to think that there are still areas of the world where even the mammal fauna is unknown and waiting to be explored."Sengis are restricted to Africa and, despite their small size, are more closely related to elephants, sea cows, and aardvarks than they are to true shrews. Found in a remote area of Namibia, on the inland edge of the Namib Desert at the base of the Etendeka Plateau, scientists believe this new species went undescribed for so long because of the challenges of doing scientific research in such an isolated area. Yet it is precisely this isolation, and the unique environmental conditions in the region, that have given rise to this and other endemic organisms.
An Etendeka round-eared sengi specimen has been added to the Namib Desert diorama exhibit in the Academy's African Hall, part of its natural history museum. It joins a replica of Welwitschia mirabilis, an ancient plant also endemic to the Namib Desert that may live for up to 2,500 years. The plant's wide, drooping leaves provide important habitat for other endemic species, such as the black-and-yellow spotted firebug (Probergrothius sexpunctatus)."With only about a dozen new species of mammal discovered in the wild each year, it is amazing that the Academy has been involved in describing three new sengis in the last decade," says Rathbun, an authority on the biology of sengis and an Academy Fellow and Research Associate. "There are new and exciting insights into biodiversity awaiting discovery, even in a group as familiar as mammals."
4) Cellular gates for sodium and calcium controlled by common element of ancient origin:
Researchers at Johns Hopkins have spotted a strong family trait in two distant relatives: The channels that permit entry of sodium and calcium ions into cells turn out to share similar means for regulating ion intake, they say. Both types of channels are critical to life. Having the right concentrations of sodium and calcium ions in cells enables healthy brain communication, heart contraction and many other processes. The new evidence is likely to aid development of drugs for channel-linked diseases ranging from epilepsy to heart ailments to muscle weakness. "This discovery was long in coming," says David Yue, M.D., Ph.D., a professor in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine's Department of Biomedical Engineering. His team's report, which appears in the June 19 issue of the journal Cell, had its genesis in the 1990s with another group's observation that sodium and calcium channels bear a striking resemblance in a small portion of an otherwise very different structure. "It looked like this 'resemblance element' might be a molecular time capsule derived from a primeval ion channel thought to have birthed distinct sodium and calcium channels a billion years ago," Yue says.
For calcium channels, Yue's and other research groups found that the resemblance element supports an important function, preventing the channel from opening when the cellular calcium level gets high. This prevents too much calcium from building up within cells, much like a thermostat controls household temperatures. This calcium control requires a calcium-sensing molecule called calmodulin, which binds to channels within the resemblance element.The picture for sodium channels, however, was muddier, with different researchers reporting conflicting findings about whether calmodulin and the resemblance element prevent the opening of sodium channels; perhaps the time capsule was damaged over the millenia or was never there.Manu Ben-Johny, a graduate student in Yue's laboratory, took up the question. "We thought that the conflicting results for sodium channels might be related to difficulties in existing methods to control the calcium concentrations that might affect these channels," Ben-Johny says.
Looking for a new way to approach the problem, Yue's team bound calcium ions in molecular "cages" that could be opened with a flash of light. This enabled them to "smuggle" calcium ions into cells and see what happened to sodium channels when the calcium concentration changed abruptly. They found that, as with calcium channels, increasing calcium concentrations caused calmodulin to bind within the resemblance element of sodium channels and prevent their opening, just as in calcium channels.The implications of a common control element in sodium and calcium channels are vast, Yue says, including unified understanding of conditions that spring from defects in the calcium control of these channels. In addition, he says, "Researchers have long sought drugs that modulate sodium and calcium channels in new ways. Targeting the common control element offers a new frontier for developing next-generation pharmaceuticals."
Other authors on the paper are Philemon S. Yang, Jacqueline Niu, Wanjun Yang and Rosy Joshi-Mukherjee, all of The Johns Hopkins University.
5) Ocean on Saturn's moon Titan could be as salty as Earth's Dead Sea:
Scientists analyzing data from NASA's Cassini mission have firm evidence the ocean inside Saturn's largest moon, Titan, might be as salty as Earth's Dead Sea. The new results come from a study of gravity and topography data collected during Cassini's repeated flybys of Titan during the past 10 years. Using the Cassini data, researchers presented a model structure for Titan, resulting in an improved understanding of the structure of the moon's outer ice shell.Scientists analyzing data from NASA's Cassini mission have firm evidence the ocean inside Saturn's largest moon, Titan, might be as salty as Earth's Dead Sea.
The new results come from a study of gravity and topography data collected during Cassini's repeated flybys of Titan during the past 10 years. Using the Cassini data, researchers presented a model structure for Titan, resulting in an improved understanding of the structure of the moon's outer ice shell. The findings are published in this week's edition of the journal Icarus."Titan continues to prove itself as an endlessly fascinating world, and with our long-lived Cassini spacecraft, we're unlocking new mysteries as fast as we solve old ones," said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who was not involved in the study.
Additional findings support previous indications the moon's icy shell is rigid and in the process of freezing solid. Researchers found that a relatively high density was required for Titan's ocean in order to explain the gravity data. This indicates the ocean is probably an extremely salty brine of water mixed with dissolved salts likely composed of sulfur, sodium and potassium. The density indicated for this brine would give the ocean a salt content roughly equal to the saltiest bodies of water on Earth."This is an extremely salty ocean by Earth standards," said the paper's lead author, Giuseppe Mitri of the University of Nantes in France. "Knowing this may change the way we view this ocean as a possible abode for present-day life, but conditions might have been very different there in the past."
Cassini data also indicate the thickness of Titan's ice crust varies slightly from place to place. The researchers said this can best be explained if the moon's outer shell is stiff, as would be the case if the ocean were slowly crystalizing and turning to ice. Otherwise, the moon's shape would tend to even itself out over time, like warm candle wax. This freezing process would have important implications for the habitability of Titan's ocean, as it would limit the ability of materials to exchange between the surface and the ocean.A further consequence of a rigid ice shell, according to the study, is any outgassing of methane into Titan's atmosphere must happen at scattered "hot spots" -- like the hot spot on Earth that gave rise to the Hawaiian Island chain. Titan's methane does not appear to result from convection or plate tectonics recycling its ice shell.
How methane gets into the moon's atmosphere has long been of great interest to researchers, as molecules of this gas are broken apart by sunlight on short geological timescales. Titan's present atmosphere contains about five percent methane. This means some process, thought to be geological in nature, must be replenishing the gas. The study indicates that whatever process is responsible, the restoration of Titan's methane is localized and intermittent."Our work suggests looking for signs of methane outgassing will be difficult with Cassini, and may require a future mission that can find localized methane sources," said Jonathan Lunine, a scientist on the Cassini mission at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, and one of the paper's co-authors. "As on Mars, this is a challenging task."
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
6) New reprogramming method makes better stem cells:
A team of researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) and Salk Institute for Biological Studies has shown for the first time that stem cells created using different methods produce differing cells. The findings, published in the July 2, 2014 online issue of Nature, provide new insights into the basic biology of stem cells and could ultimately lead to improved stem cell therapies. Capable of developing into any cell type, pluripotent stem cells offer great promise as the basis for emerging cell transplantation therapies that address a wide array of diseases and conditions, from diabetes and Alzheimer's disease to cancer and spinal cord injuries. In theory, stem cells could be created and programmed to replace ailing or absent cells for every organ in the human body.
The gold standard is human embryonic stem cells (ES cells) cultured from discarded embryos generated by in vitro fertilization, but their use has long been limited by ethical and logistical considerations. Scientists have instead turned to two other methods to create stem cells: Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), in which genetic material from an adult cell is transferred into an empty egg cell, and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells), in which adult cells are reverted back to a stem cell state by artificially turning on targeted genes.Until now, no one had directly and closely compared the stem cells acquired using these two methods. The scientists found they produced measurably different results. "The nuclear transfer ES cells are much more similar to real ES cells than the iPS cells," said co-senior author Louise Laurent, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Reproductive Medicine at UC San Diego. "They are more completely reprogrammed and have fewer alterations in gene expression and DNA methylation levels that are attributable to the reprogramming process itself."The development and use of iPS cells has grown exponentially in recent years, in no small part due to the fact that they can be generated from adult cells (often from the skin) by temporarily turning on a combination of four genes to induce the adult cells to return to a pluripotent state.
Laurent noted that iPS cell lines have been created from patients to model many different diseases and "the ability to make personalized iPS cells from a patient that could be transplanted back into that patient has generated excitement because it would eliminate the need for immunosuppression."The nuclear transfer method has been pioneered more recently by a team led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov, PhD, professor and director of the Center for Embryonic Cell and Gene Therapy at OSHU. The technique is similar to the process used in cloning, but the pluripotent cells are collected from early embryos before they develop into mature organisms.
For their comparisons, the researchers at UC San Diego, OSHU and Salk created four nuclear transfer ES cell lines and seven iPS cell lines using the same skin cells as the source of donor genetic material, then compared them to two standard human ES lines. All 13 cell lines were shown to be pluripotent using a battery of standard tests.
But closer analyses employing powerful genomic techniques to examine the DNA methylation -- a fundamental biochemical process that helps turn genes on and off -- and gene expression signatures of each cell line revealed key differences in stem cells created with the three methods. Specifically, the scientists found that the DNA methylation and gene expression patterns in nuclear transfer ES cells more closely resembled those of ES cells than did iPS cells, which revealed alterations apparently caused by the reprogramming process itself."If you believe that gene expression and DNA methylation are important, which we do, then the closer you get to the patterns of embryonic stem cells, the better," said co-senior author Joseph R. Ecker, PhD, professor and director of Salk's Genomic Analysis Laboratory. "Right now, nuclear transfer cells look closer to the embryonic stem cells than do the iPS cells."
"I think these results show that the SCNT method is a far superior candidate for cell replacement therapies," said Mitalipov, also a co-senior author of the Nature paper. "I truly believe that using this method of producing stem cells will someday help us cure and treat a wide range of diseases that are defeating us today."While nuclear transfer cells may be a better and more accurate representation of human ES cells than iPS cells, Laurent said there are significant barriers to their wider adoption and application. "Not only is nuclear transfer technically difficult, but federal funds cannot be used in experiments involving this procedure."On the other hand, she said, the findings could spur improvements in iPS cell reprogramming methods. "Our results have shown that widely used iPS cell reprogramming methods make cells that are similar to standard ES cells in broad strokes, but there are important differences when you look really closely. By using the egg cell to do the job, we can get much closer to the real thing. If we can figure out what factors in the egg drive the reprogramming process, maybe we can design a better iPS cell reprogramming method."
Movies Release This Week:
After a construction project begins digging in their neighborhood, best friends Tuck, Munch and Alex inexplicably begin to receive strange, encoded messages on their cell phones. Convinced something bigger is going on, they go to their parents and the authorities. When everyone around them refuses to take the messages seriously, the three embark on a secret adventure to crack the code and follow it to its source. But taking matters into their own hands gets the trio in way over their heads when they discover a mysterious being from another world who desperately needs their help. The epic, suspenseful and exciting journey that follows will change all of their lives forever.
In Deliver Us From Evil, New York police officer Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana), struggling with his own personal issues, begins investigating a series of disturbing and inexplicable crimes. He joins forces with an unconventional priest (Edgar Ramirez), schooled in the rituals of exorcism, to combat the frightening and demonic possessions that are terrorizing their city. Based upon the book, which details Sarchie’s bone-chilling real-life cases.
Begin Again is a soul-stirring comedy about what happens when lost souls meet and make beautiful music together. Gretta (Keira Knightley) and her long-time boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine) are college sweethearts and songwriting partners who decamp for New York when he lands a deal with a major label. But the trappings of his new-found fame soon tempt Dave to stray, and a reeling, lovelorn Gretta is left on her own. Her world takes a turn for the better when Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a disgraced record-label exec, stumbles upon her performing on an East Village stage and is immediately captivated by her raw talent. From this chance encounter emerges an enchanting portrait of a mutually transformative collaboration, set to the soundtrack of a summer in New York City.
Rob is facing the biggest day of his life. He needs to nail a college interview ensuring his admittance to his parents’ beloved alma mater, keep his cool when life-long crush Angela (nicknamed ‘After School Special’ for a reason) finally seems to show interest, and deal with his best friends as they realize their high school days are ending. As pressure mounts, something weird happens. He finds himself reliving the day's events over and over again. Is Rob stuck in a dream? Experiencing déjà vu? Having a psychotic break? Whether it's finding a way to get into Georgetown, into Angela's pants, or having an even bigger epiphany, Rob must figure out how to break the cycle before losing his mind.
Tammy (Melissa McCarthy) is having a bad day. She’s totaled her clunker car, gotten fired from her thankless job at a greasy burger joint and, instead of finding comfort at home, finds her husband getting comfortable with the neighbor in her own house. It’s time to take her boom box and book it. The bad news is she’s broke and without wheels. The worse news is her grandma, Pearl (Susan Sarandon), is her only option—with a car, cash, and an itch to see Niagara Falls. Not exactly the escape Tammy had in mind. But on the road, with grandma riding shot gun, it may be just what Tammy needs.
Political News This Week:
1) AAP MLAs meet President, demand fresh polls in Delhi:
MLAs of the Aam Aadmi Party, led by its National Convenor Arvind Kejriwal, on Thursday met President Pranab Mukherjee and demanded dissolution of Delhi Legislative assembly and fresh polls in the national capital.
The party, in a memorandum to the President, has alleged that BJP has approached 15 of its MLAs since last few days.
"They have been luring them with ministerial berths, properties and cash ranging from Rs 10 to Rs 20 crore. When this did not work out, our MLA from Shalimar Bagh, Bandana Kumari was given a life threat. She has already filed a police complaint in this regard," Kejriwal said in the memorandum.
He said that people had high hopes from the NDA government but in the last one month, however, the hopes of the people have been shattered because the prices of almost all commodities have been rising.
"No steps have been taken to check corruption and no steps have been taken so far which could give people a hope that things would improve in future.
"This has severely dented BJP's popularity, due to which it does not want elections in Delhi in the near future. They are afraid that if elections are held in near future, BJP would lose very badly. Therefore, BJP is making desperate attempts to poach MLAs from other parties," he added.Meanwhile, the Congress has termed Kejriwal's meeting with President as a drama.
"We have no problems with the elections happening anytime soon in Delhi but it is not our priority. It is Kejriwal who wants to gain power in the state by any means," DPCC spokesperson Mukesh Sharma said.
2) CPI-M writes to Parliament seeking rape threat minister's ouster:
outrageous remarks by Trinamool Congress leader Tapas Pal reflect the reality of “politics of terror and intimidation” in West Bengal, the Communist Party of India-Marxist said on Thursday, as it moved Parliament to seek action against him.
Senior party leader Sitaram Yechury wrote a letter to Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, saying Pal’s statements were “a clear cut case of ethical misconduct... which has led to denigrating the image of parliamentarians and is also an unbecoming conduct on the part of the member”.
“It is therefore, kindly requested that the above said act of ethical misconduct may be referred to Committee on Ethics and suitable punitive action may be taken against the member,” Yechury said in the letter quoting in parts Pal’s controversial remarks against women and the opposition.Separately in an editorial in the forthcoming issue of CPI-M organ People’s Democracy’, he said, “In a sense what this Trinamool leader Tapas Pal has said is a reflection of the actual reality that exists in the state of West Bengal today. The Trinamool Congress has unleashed a saga of gory violence and terror as its primary instrument of consolidating its rule in the state and garnering electoral support.”
Parliament has to decide “whether such members who make such outrageous and illegal comments should be allowed to be in the midst of lawmakers. It would, indeed, be a travesty for democracy that those who violate the law with impunity continue to sit as lawmakers of our country.”“Since 2011 assembly elections and till last month, 157 activists and leaders of CPI-M and the Left Front have been murdered in the state. Only during the recent Lok Sabha polls, 12 Left workers have been killed and 8,785 seriously injured,” Yechury added.Another major factor was the “large-scale disruption of agricultural activity” and displacement of poor and marginal farmers in all 17 districts of the state, he said, adding that 27,283 were evicted from their lands preventing cultivation in 9,811.83 acres of land.
Almost 49,000 families were evicted from their homes, 6,152 houses completely destroyed and 1,365 CPI-M offices ransacked, he alleged. “Instead of taking any action against the culprits, the police under the state government have taken into custody the victims,” Yechury alleged.“The worst victims of such politics of violence and terror” are women as 291 have been raped, 675 molested and 1,035 physically assaulted, he said quoting a memorandum that Left Front submitted to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee recently.“Needless to add, there has been no action that is forthcoming so far,” Yechury said.
3) Sunanda death case: Tharoor refuses to comment on controversy:
Refusing to comment on the controversy stirred by a senior AIIMS forensic doctor's allegation that he was pressured to manipulate the postmortem report of Sunanda Pushkar, former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor on Thursday merely said that it was up to the investigators "to sort it out".
"It is a process, we will leave it to investigators to sort out," Tharoor told reporters.Asked what he would say on AIIMS' forensic department's head Dr Sudhir Gupta's allegations, Tharoor only said, "Nothing to say about anything about that person."
Meanwhile, Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi said that they want that investigations in the case should be completed as soon as possible while reiterating that if needed they will examine Tharoor and Dr Gupta."Delhi Police wants investigations in this case to be completed as soon as possible. If it is necessary, both Dr Gupta and Tharoor will be questioned," Bassi told reporters.
Asked if Delhi Police has given a clean chit to Tharoor in the case, Bassi said, "Once we completed our enquiry, we will only then know. And, for the time being, our investigation is on."On being asked if Tharoor has written a letter to him to expedite the probe, Bassi said he was, so far, not aware of it, adding that he has got to know about it through media reports.
Rejecting the charge of Dr Gupta, who headed a three-member team that did the post mortem on the body of Tharoor's wife Pushkar, who was found dead in mysterious circumstances in a hotel in January this year, the AIIMS had on Wednesday said it "categorically denies" his claim.
In a press conference, AIIMS spokespersons Amit Gupta and Neerja Bhatla had said that there was no evidence that any pressure from outside was put on Dr Gupta to alter the autopsy report.
4) Army foils infiltration bid in Poonch, 3 terrorists killed:
The army early on Thursday foiled an infiltration bid by terrorists on the Line of Control in Poonch district of Jammu region.
CNN IBN reports that three terrorists have been killed in the ensuing gunfight. However, official confirmation is awaited.
This is the second infiltration bid in the Krishna Ghati sector of the LoC in the past two days.
A defence spokesman said, “An attempted infiltration bid by a group of terrorists in Krishna Ghati sector was foiled by our alert troops in the early hours of July 3. Heavy exchange of fire between terrorists and our troops is on and there are no casualties reported on our side till the report last came in.”
The security forces across Jammu and Kashmir are on high alert in view of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s day long visit to the state on Friday.
The prime minister will inaugurate 25 kms Udhampur Katra rail link and the 240 MW Uri II power station in the frontier town.
5) US senator McCain meets PM Narendra Modi:
The United States has high level of expectations about a new momentum of India’s economic growth under the new government, a senior American Senator on Thursday told Prime Minister Narendra Modi who expressed desire to take the relationship to a new level.
Senator John McCain who met Modi conveyed the keen desire in the US to work with him to revitalise the India-US strategic partnership. Modi said he looked forward to visiting the US in September this year to take the relationship to a new level.
“Prime Minister conveyed his desire to further deepen and expand the strategic partnership, based on our shared values and interests, sensitivity to each other’s concerns and tangible progress across the full spectrum of bilateral rel7) ations,” said a statement by the PMO.
Modi added that the success of democratic countries and their cooperation will advance peace, stability and prosperity in the world. Both also discussed the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan. “The PM expressed concern over the increased threat of terrorism across the world, and reiterated that the fight against terror should be a global priority for humanitarian forces,” the statement added.
6) Chennai building collapse: Toll mounts to 47, 27 rescued so far:
The death toll in the collapse of a 11-storied under-construction residential building has touched 47 and 27 persons have so far been rescued.
"As of now, the total number of dead are 47 and rescue effort is continuing," a senior TN government revenue official coordinating rescue efforts told PTI. Meanwhile, 14 bodies lying in the morgue are yet to be identified, Dr Anand Pratap, Resident Medical Officer, Government Royapettah Hospital, said.
So far, from GRH, 29 bodies have been handed over to the next of the kin of victims. Of these, five belonged to Odisha, 14 from Andhra Pradesh and 10 from Tamil Nadu.
A total of 74 persons have so far been pulled out of the debris and out of this 47 were dead and 27 were rescued alive since June 28 when the mishap occurred. It was feared that at least 20-25 more persons could be under the debris.
Rescue work is continuing in full swing.
7) Petrol price hiked by Rs 1.69/litre, diesel by 50 paise:
Petrol price was on Monday hiked by a steep Rs 1.69 per litre and diesel by 50 paise a litre as the crisis in Iraq spooked international oil and currency markets.
The hike, effective July 1, excludes local sales tax or VAT and the actual increase will be higher, varying from city to city.
Petrol in Delhi will cost Rs 73.58 per litre, up Rs 2.02 from Rs 71.56 at present. Diesel rates will go up by 56 paise to Rs 57.84 per litre."Due to geo-political unrest in the Middle East, there has been significant increase in international oil prices during the past two weeks.
"The international prices of gasoline (petrol) have increased by more than USD 4 per barrel, and the rupee-US dollar exchange rate has also deteriorated. The combined impact of both these factors has warranted an increase in petrol prices by Rs 1.69 per litre, excluding state levies," Indian Oil Corp, the nation's largest oil firm, said.
Diesel rates were hiked in continuation with the previous UPA government's January 2013 policy of raising prices in small doses every month to eliminate subsidy.
IOC said despite the 17 hikes since then, oil firms are losing Rs 3.40 a litre on diesel. Losses have increased from Rs 2.80 a litre earlier this month due to firming up of international oil rates and the rupee depreciating against the US dollar.Besides diesel, the state oil firms lose Rs 33.07 a litre on kerosene sold through the public distribution system (PDS) and Rs 449 per 14.2-kg domestic subsidised LPG (cooking gas) cylinder.IOC said at current rate the industry (IOC plus Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum) are projected to end the fiscal with Rs 107,850 crore of revenue losses.
Sports News This Week:
1) Shakira shakes her way to Brazil for World Cup closing show
Colombian pop singer Shakira will make her third consecutive World Cup appearance at the closing ceremony in Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium before the final match on July 13, tournament organizers FIFA said on Wednesday.
Shakira will perform her song "La La La (Brazil 2014)" alongside Brazilian percussionist and singer Carlinhos Brown.
"I have an intricate relationship with football for obvious reasons, and I truly understand what the World Cup means to so many people, myself included," Shakira said in a statement from FIFA.
Mexican-American guitarist Carlos Santana, Haitian-American hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean and Brazilian singer Alexandre Pires will perform the official anthem of the 2014 World Cup "Dar Um Jeito," Portuguese for "We Will Find a Way."The closing ceremony will also feature a samba performance from one of the Rio de Janeiro schools that participate in the city's famous Carnival celebrations.
2) Kvitova in final after winning Czech showdown:
Former champion Petra Kvitova moved within one match of capturing a second Wimbledon title, ending the plucky resistance of Lucie Safarova 7-6 (6) 6-1 in their all-Czech showdown on Thursday.Although few held out much hope of the 27-year-old Safarova beating her friend, having lost all five of their previous meetings, she had not lost a set en route to her first grand slam semi-final.
"It was a tough match mentally because Lucie is a great friend of mine, we know each other well off the court as well. I am just happy I won," sixth seed Kvitova, 24, told the BBC."I am very emotional but I have two days before the final to focus ... I know how it feels to lift that trophy so I will try my best to do it again."
After having her serve broken in the opening game, Safarova quickly settled into unfamiliar surroundings on Centre Court, producing a series of venomous winners as the big-hitting left-handers slugged it out from the baseline.
The 23rd seed broke back in the fourth game and matched the powerful Kvitova every step of the way until the 2011 champion made the decisive breakthrough with a breathtaking cross-court forehand clinching a scintillating tiebreak.
Bloodied but unbowed, Safarova continued to attack at every opportunity but without the consistency required to unsettle her opponent.Kvitova stepped up a gear to forge into a 3-0 lead in the second set.Safarova stemmed the flow in the fourth game but by then Kvitova had her measure and continued the relentless barrage of fierce returns and passing shots to secure victory.
Standing in the way of her second Wimbledon crown will be the winner of the second semi-final between Romania's Simona Halep, the third seed, and 20-year-old Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, seeded 13th.
3) Wimbledon 2014: Andy Murray’s loss against Grigor Dimitrov was not surprising:
Andy Murray.The tennis world was shocked seeing defending champion Andy Murray knocked out in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. But according to IBM analysis, his loss wasn’t surprising one bit.Grigor Dimitrov ousted the Brit in straight sets 6-1, 7-6 (4) ,6-3 to advance to his first Grand Slam semi-final. Dimitrov hit 50 aggressive forehands against Murray’s 44.
While Murray’s 18 aggressive backhands were matched by 17 from Grigor, the Bulgarian won a net 86 aggressive shots in total during the course of the match in comparison to Murray’s 71.IBM is using this system for the first time. The data was developed from last year’s Wimbledon, US Open as well as this year’s Australian Open.
The factors defining an aggressive shot are: speed; landing location of the ball; distance the opponent had to move to get to the shot; and the opponent’s position for the return.The aggressiveness of a shot is judged by a team of 48 tennis experts sitting courtside during a match. The stats cannot predict the eventual winner, but can analyse why a particular match against a particular player went the way it did. It also helps to prepare for a opponent.Wimbledon is associated with IBM for 25 years now and the analysis on aggressiveness is just a part of huge data it has collected about matches.
"What we see is a trend in all sports that data is changing the game," Bill Jinks, an IBM engineer working on the project, said. Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, who has reached the semi-finals here, said her coach looks at the IBM data.The system calculated 38 aggressive forehands for Bouchard against 29 for Kerber, and 23 aggressive backhands versus 15 for Kerber.
4) Seven German players have mild cases of flu, Loew says:
Seven Germany players are suffering mild flu symptoms ahead of the quarter-final match against France on Friday, coach Joachim Loew said in a German radio interview without identifying the players."Seven players have somehow come down with slight cases of the flu," Loew was quoted telling Germany's ARD radio. He said that most had "throat aches" but did not reveal their names.
"As a result, it's too early to make any final decisions about the lineup," Loew added.Defender Mat Hummels missed Germany's round of 16 match against Algeria on Monday due to a fever. He said on Wednesday he had recovered and posted a picture of himself sitting on the beach.
Reserve midfielder Christoph Kramer was suffering from a case of the chills on Wednesday and was the only player who did not take part in the training session, said assistant coach Andreas Koepke, who added all other players were fit and ready to travel to Rio de Janeiro for Friday's match
Loew has said that the travel across Brazil and different climate zones for their four matches so far as well as matches in tropical heat, a heavy downpour and then in chilly Porto Alegre - along with air conditioning - had taken their toll.
"I hope they're all doing well now," Loew said.He added: "It's not all that bad at the moment. I don't want to dramatise it."But Loew said that Hummels condition had actually deteriorated.
"Mats Hummels suffered a negative setback on the second day," Loew said.Loew has come under heavy fire in Germany for his decision to put captain Philipp Lahm in midfield instead of at right back, where he has excelled for years. Loew was forced to put Lahm at right back late in the Algeria match due to injuries.
"My coach has used them," Bouchard said at a press conference after the match. "(He) doesn't go into every specific detail with me, but gives me kind of a general sense of some things going on either with me or maybe the opponent I'm about to play. "So I think he actually really appreciates them and uses them."
Book of This Week:
Somewhere in the Darkness : Book by Walter Dean Myers:
Somewhere in the Darkness is a novel by writer Walter Dean Myers. Jimmy Little is a teenager who finds it difficult to attend school even though he is intelligent enough to graduate with honors. One day Jimmy comes home from school to find his father, Crab, waiting for him. Crab has escaped from jail and wants to take Jimmy to Arkansas where he believes an old running buddy can prove to Jimmy that Crab never killed anyone. When they arrive, Jimmy discovers that the truth does not matter as much as the search. Somewhere in the Darkness is a novel that looks closely at the relationship between a father and son that has been complicated by bad choices.
Jimmy Little goes to school for the first time in several weeks and discovers that the day has been cut short by testing. Jimmy returns home and finds a strange man waiting for him. This man claims to be Jimmy's father, Crab. Crab has been away in jail, serving time for an armored car robbery that ended in the deaths of one of the guards. Crab claims to have been released early from prison and that he must get to Chicago quickly to take a job that is required by his parole. Crab wants to take Jimmy with him.
Jimmy is reluctant to go with his father, but curiosity gets the better of him. As Jimmy and Crab drive to Chicago, Jimmy notices some oddness in Crab's behavior. Crab finally tells Jimmy that he has kidney disease and he escaped from the hospital where he was being treated out of fear that he would die without proving to Jimmy that he never killed the guard he is in jail for killing.
In Chicago, Crab takes Jimmy to meet a girlfriend of his from the past. Crab thinks this woman is going to drop everything and go to Arkansas with him, but she bails at the last minute. Instead, Crab steals some man's wallet and rents a car. Crab and Jimmy drive to Arkansas where Crab immediately sees a conjure man, hoping to learn something good about his illness. Instead, Crab learns that he is going to die.
The following day, Crab meets with the man who was most likely part of the armored car robbery for which Crab went to prison. Crab asks the man to tell Jimmy the truth, but he refuses. Crab and Jimmy walk to the creek only to learn that Crab's old friend has called the police. Crab attempts to escape, but he is caught by the police. Jimmy sits by his bed in the hospital and watches as he dies.
Walter Dean Myers ( August 12, 1937 – July 1, 2014) was an American writer of children's books best known for young adult literature. He has written over one hundred books including picture books and nonfiction. He has won the Coretta Scott King Award for African-American authors five times. His 1988 novel Fallen Angels is one of the books most frequently challenged in the U.S. because of its adult language and its realistic depiction of the Vietnam War. He also sat on the Board of Advisors of the Society of Children's Book Writer's and Illustrators (SCBWI)
Myers received the Margaret Edwards Award from the American Library Association in 1994 for his contribution in writing for teens. For his lifetime contribution as a children's writer he was U.S. nominee for the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2010.
As of January 2012, Myers was the Library of Congress National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, a two-year position created to raise national awareness of the importance of lifelong literacy and education.