Science News This Week:
1) Long before Columbus, seals brought tuberculosis to South America:
Marine mammals may have carried TB bacterium across the ocean. Seals brought tuberculosis to South America long before Columbus sailed to the New World, a new study shows.
An analysis of tuberculosis DNA recovered from three 1,000- to 1,300-year-old Peruvian skeletons reveals that the strain of TB in the ancient bones doesn’t match the strain brought to the New World by European explorers. Instead, it closely resembles one that infects seals in the Southern Hemisphere, an international group of researchers reports August 20 in Nature.
Researchers had long thought that Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes TB, originated in cattle as M. bovis, jumped to humans after dairy cows were domesticated and then came to the Americas with Europeans.
2) Hot-spring bacteria reveal ability to use far-red light for photosynthesis:
Bacteria growing in near darkness use a previously unknown process for harvesting energy and producing oxygen from sunlight, a research team led by a Penn State University scientist has discovered. The discovery lays the foundation for further research aimed at improving plant growth, harvesting energy from the Sun, and understanding dense blooms like those now occurring on Lake Erie and other lakes worldwide. A paper describing the discovery will be published in the Science Express edition of the journal Science on 21 August 2014.
"We have shown that some cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae, can grow in far-red wavelengths of light, a range not seen well by most humans," said Donald A. Bryant, the Ernest C. Pollard Professor of Biotechnology and a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State. "Most cyanobacteria can't 'see' this light either. But we have found a new subgroup that can absorb and use it, and we have discovered some of the surprising ways they manipulate their genes in order to grow using only these wavelengths," he said.The scientists discovered that the cyanobacterial strain, named Leptolyngbya, completely changes its photosynthetic apparatus in order to use far-red light, which has wavelengths longer than 700 nanometers -- a little longer than the range of light that most people can see. The experiments by Bryant's team revealed that these cyanobacteria replace seventeen proteins in three major light-using complexes while also making new chlorophyll pigments that can capture the far-red light, and while using pigments called bilins in new ways. The scientists also discovered that the organisms accomplish this feat by quickly turning on a large number of genes to modify cellular metabolism and simultaneously turning off a large number of other genes -- a process that they have named Far-Red Light Photoacclimation (FaRLiP).Because the genes that are turned on are the genes that determine which proteins the organism will produce, this massive remodeling of the available gene profile has a dramatic effect. "Our studies reveal that the particular cyanobacterium that we studied can massively change its physiology and metabolism, and its photosynthetic apparatus," Bryant said. "It changes the core components of the three major photosynthetic complexes, so one ends up with a very differentiated cell that is then capable of growing in far-red light. The impact is that they are better than other strains of cyanobacteria at producing oxygen in far-red light, and they are better even than themselves. Cells grown in far-red light produce 40 percent more oxygen when assayed in far-red light than cells grown in red light assayed under the same far-red light conditions."
To make these discoveries, Bryant's team used a variety of biological, genetic, physical, and chemical experiments in order to learn how this unusual photosynthesis system works as a whole. The team's investigations includes biochemical analyses, spectroscopic analyses, studies of the structures and functions of proteins, profiles of gene-transcription processes, and sequencing and comparisons of cyanobacteria genomes. "Our genome-sequence analyses of different cyanobacteria strains revealed 13 additional strains that also appear to be able to use far-red light for photosynthesis," Bryant said.
The Leptolyngbya cyanobacterial strain that Bryant's team studied is one that was collected at LaDuke hot spring in Montana, near Yellowstone National Park. This strain was living on the underside of a 2-milimeter-thick mat that is so dense with bacteria that only the far-red wavelengths of light can penetrate to the bottom. Another environment where understanding photosynthesis in far-red light may have important implications is in the surface crusts of deserts and other soils, which cover a large percentage of Earth's surface. "It is important to understand how this photosynthetic process works in global-scale environments where cyanobacteria may be photosynthesizing with far-red light, in order to more fully understand the global impact of photosynthesis in oxygen production, carbon fixation, and other events that drive geochemical processes on our planet," Bryant said.
The research raises questions about the possibility of introducing into plants the capacity to use far-red wavelengths for photosynthesis. But Bryant said much more basic research is required first. "Our research already has shown that it would not be enough to insert a new far-red-light-absorbing pigment into a plant unless you also have the right protein scaffolds to bind it so that it will work efficiently. In fact, it could be quite deleterious to just start sticking long-wavelength-absorbing chlorophylls into the photosynthetic apparatus," he said."We now have clearly established that photosynthesis can occur in far-red light, in a wavelength range where people previously did not think that oxygenic photosynthesis could take place, and we have provided details about many of the processes involved. Now there are a whole set of associated scientific questions that need to be answered about more of the details before we can begin to investigate any applications that may or may not be possible," Bryant said. "Our research has opened up many new questions for basic scientific research."
3) Experimental drugs and vaccines poised to take on Ebola:
As the Ebola virus outbreak continues to run amok in West Africa, scientists are looking ahead to the possibly pivotal use of experimental drugs and vaccines against the disease. It will take months to test, produce and deploy the therapies. But researchers hold out hope that these products — even incompletely vetted — might help to turn the tide against an illness that has defied public health efforts to bring it under control.The treatments’ use could engender enough hope to encourage people with symptoms — and their close contacts — to come to hospitals, which researchers say would limit the spread of the lethal virus. Having experimental drugs and especially vaccines in hand could also help in recruiting and maintaining adequate levels of hospital staff, who are at high risk of catching the virus.
Using still-experimental drugs has downsides: Even if the treatments help some patients, it will be hard to determine their true effectiveness. And failed treatments could exacerbate the despair and distrust already hampering public health efforts.
Still, public health officials and bioethics experts say the situation in West Africa is dire enough to warrant putting candidate therapies into use after minimal human safety testing. As of August 19, more than 2,200 people have been infected and more than 1,200 have died, the World Health Organization reports. Earlier this month, WHO declared the outbreak an international public health emergency that is not under control.The outbreak has hit a thickly populated part of West Africa and spread among the contiguous countries Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. None have encountered Ebola before, and the region has been racked by poverty, civil wars, corrupt government and upheaval. All of the countries have deficient health systems that have suffered even more during the outbreak as some workers abandon their posts. Daniel Bausch, an infectious disease physician at Tulane University in New Orleans, relates an incident in Kenema, Sierra Leone. Dressed in biohazard gear, he and a WHO doctor entered the hospital there in July and were stunned to find only two workers amid 55 patients. The nurses were gone. Some were demanding higher wages for hazardous work, but many had simply left after seeing their colleagues become sick, he says. Patients were in beds and on the floor, the hospital contaminated.
Turning to drugs
In an opening salvo against the Ebola virus, six people have received a test drug called ZMapp, made by Mapp Pharmaceuticals of San Diego. But supplies of that compound are exhausted and making more will take months. So WHO and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have pulled together experts to pore over research on other candidate drugs and vaccines. The goal is to decide which products to put into rapid safety tests, says Bausch, who is among those advising WHO. In the best-case scenario, WHO officials say, some of these test drugs could reach the field later this year — after safety testing in human volunteers. All have so far been tested only in monkeys and other animals. While ZMapp uses antibodies, other approaches combine that strategy with other antiviral agents or use RNA interference to thwart the virus.
Having a drug, even an imperfect one, would have an impact beyond the individuals receiving it, Bausch says. A drug could change the mindset of people who have been in contact with patients but who are not themselves sick. Many hesitate to get tested because hospitals have no way to treat Ebola, he says. Refusal to get tested extends disease transmission if these contacts turn out to harbor the virus and develop an infection. Word of a drug could induce people to come in for testing. “Getting them out of circulation,” he says, “could end the outbreak.”
While giving experimental drugs such as ZMapp to patients has passed muster with bioethicists, the use of such drug candidates would still leave scientists with a poor understanding of how effective they are. About half of Ebola patients in West Africa survive without treatment, says physician Kevin Donovan of Georgetown University, making it difficult to distinguish whether a survivor who received a trial drug benefited from it.
Vaccines could play a role as well. WHO Assistant Director-General Marie-Paule Kieny said at an August 12 news briefing that safety testing of two experimental Ebola vaccines could start in late September. One comes from Canada’s National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, which announced last week that it will make available 800 to 1,000 doses of a vaccine that tested well in monkeys. Another vaccine is being readied by U.S. federal labs and GlaxoSmithKline. WHO will oversee who gets any test vaccines, with distribution unlikely until 2015.
4) X-ray laser probes tiny quantum tornadoes in superfluid droplets:
An experiment at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory revealed a well-organized 3-D grid of quantum "tornadoes" inside microscopic droplets of supercooled liquid helium -- the first time this formation has been seen at such a tiny scale.The findings by an international research team provide new insight on the strange nanoscale traits of a so-called "superfluid" state of liquid helium. When chilled to extremes, liquid helium behaves according to the rules of quantum mechanics that apply to matter at the smallest scales and defy the laws of classical physics. This superfluid state is one of just a few examples of quantum behavior on a large scale that makes the behavior easier to see and study.
The results, detailed in the Aug. 22 issue of Science, could help shed light on similar quantum states, such as those in superconducting materials that conduct electricity with 100 percent efficiency or the strange collectives of particles, dubbed Bose-Einstein condensates, which act as a single unit."What we found in this experiment was really surprising. We did not expect the beauty and clarity of the results," said Christoph Bostedt, a co-leader of the experiment and a senior scientist at SLAC's Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), the DOE Office of Science User Facility where the experiment was conducted.
"We were able to see a manifestation of the quantum world on a macroscopic scale," said Ken Ferguson, a PhD student from Stanford University working at LCLS.While tiny tornadoes had been seen before in chilled helium, they hadn't been seen in such tiny droplets, where they were packed 100,000 times more densely than in any previous experiment on superfluids, Ferguson said.
Studying the Quantum Traits of a Superfluid
Helium can be cooled to the point where it becomes a frictionless substance that remains liquid well below the freezing point of most fluids. The light, weakly attracting atoms have an endless wobble -- a quantum state of perpetual motion that prevents them from freezing. The unique properties of superfluid helium, which have been the subject of several Nobel prizes, allow it to coat and climb the sides of a container, and to seep through molecule-wide holes that would have held in the same liquid at higher temperatures.In the LCLS experiment, researchers jetted a thin stream of helium droplets, like a nanoscale string of pearls, into a vacuum. Each droplet acquired a spin as it flew out of the jet, rotating up to 2 million turns per second, and cooled to a temperature colder than outer space. The X-ray laser took snapshots of individual droplets, revealing dozens of tiny twisters, called "quantum vortices," with swirling cores that are the width of an atom.The fast rotation of the chilled helium nanodroplets caused a regularly spaced, dense 3-D pattern of vortices to form. This exotic formation, which resembles the ordered structure of a solid crystal and provides proof of the droplets' quantum state, is far different than the lone whirlpool that would form in a regular liquid, such as briskly stirred cup of coffee.
More Surprises in Store
Researchers also discovered surprising shapes in some superfluid droplets. In a normal liquid, droplets can form peanut shapes when rotated swiftly, but the superfluid droplets took a very different form. About 1 percent of them formed unexpected wheel-like shapes and reached rotation speeds never before observed for their classical counterparts.Oliver Gessner, a senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and a co-leader in the experiment, said, "Now that we have shown that we can detect and characterize quantum rotation in helium nanodroplets, it will be important to understand its origin and, ultimately, to try to control it."Andrey Vilesov of the University of Southern California, the third experiment co-leader, added, "The experiment has exceeded our best expectations. Attaining proof of the vortices, their configurations in the droplets and the shapes of the rotating droplets was only possible with LCLS imaging."He said further analysis of the LCLS data should yield more detailed information on the shape and arrangement of the vortices: "There will definitely be more surprises to come."
5) Earlier dates for Neandertal extinction cause a fuss:
Neandertals died out in Western Europe earlier than many scientists thought, between about 41,000 and 39,000 years ago, after interbreeding with modern humans and picking up toolmaking pointers from them for a few thousand years, a new study suggests.
These new findings join a long-standing debate about the fate of the Neandertals that shows no signs of dimming.
Previous reports that some Neandertals survived in Southwestern Europe until more recently, about 30,000 years ago, hinged on underestimates of the age of carbon from ancient bones and other organic material, say archaeologist Tom Higham of the University of Oxford and his colleagues. Improved radiocarbon dating methods now indicate that Neandertals disappeared at different times in different regions of Western Europe before finally going extinct about 40,000 years ago, the scientists report in the Aug. 21 Nature.
Movie Release This Week:
Co-directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller reunite to bring Miller's visually stunning "Sin City" graphic novels back to the screen in Sin City: A Dame to . Weaving together two of Miller's classic stories with new tales, the town's most hard boiled citizens cross paths with some of its more notorious inhabitants.
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is the follow up to Rodriguez and Miller's 2005 groundbreaking film, Frank Miller'S Sin City.
A teenager finds her perfect life upended when she's stalked by a mysterious doppelganger who has her eyes set on assuming her identity.
A retired Las Vegas crime boss is forced to return to the city, and face his former enemies, when his teenage daughter goes missing.
The film tells the life of Simón Bolívar (1783 – 1830). Bolívar was instrumental in Latin America's struggle for independence from the Spanish Empire, and is today considered one of the most influential politicians and emancipators in American history
A typical weekend down the shore takes a bizarre turn in the New Jersey Pine Barrens as six girls and five obnoxious fist-pumpers become the unsuspecting targets of a deranged killer.
Political News This Week:
1) Flood fury affects lakhs in Assam, UP and Bihar:
Union minister for Development of North Eastern Region Vijay Kumar Singh on Friday said floods in Assam is "nothing new". "Flood condition is nothing new to Assam. I have been dealing with floods in Assam since 1970 onwards," Singh said at a press conference in Guwahati.
On his ministry's role in finding a way to handle this perennial problem, Singh said "DoNER has got no role in flood control. It is a job of Ministry of Water Resources. DoNER funds are not enough even to contribute to type of things that the state requires.I can be initiator. I can be catalyst. I can assist. I can suggest. I can push. But if you are thinking that the DoNER is going to do flood control, I am sorry that is not done. We have to go to the charters," the Union minister said.
He said DoNER's role is to carry forward development work in the field of infrastructure, education, health sector, employment and skills among others. When pointed out that the flood creates huge challenge and destroys a lot of developmental works, Singh said "It is not being stopped but flood causes damage to life and property. So let’s separate it out. Let’s not get just stuck on floods... Flood is not just development. Flood is only a part of the issue."He said silting of Brahmaputra is a big problem and nobody gave a serious thought on this over the years. Singh also said he will recommend the water resources ministry to conduct an in-depth study on Brahmaputra considering various aspect.
On August 15, Manisha Shukla, a resident of the flood-hit Bahraich district in Uttar Pradesh, gave birth to a baby boy while being rescued by
2) AAP steps up attack against Vardhan over removal of AIIMS CVO:
Stepping up its attack on the Union Health Minister over the removal of All India Institute of Medical Sciences Chief Vigilance Officer Sanjeev Chaturvedi, the Aam Aadmi Party on Friday called for the immediate sacking or resignation of Harsh Vardhan.
The AAP's National Convenor Arvind Kejriwal alleged that Chaturvedi was removed because he brought corruption cases of a senior Indian Administrative Service officer of Himachal Pradesh who worked as a deputy director administration in the AIIMS, to light."Vardhan should be immediately sacked or should resign for removing an honest officer. The IAS officer against whom Chaturvedi had initiated the complaint is close to a senior BJP leader. Chaturvedi started taking action against the IAS officer which is why the Central Bureau of Investigation could register cases against him. Because of these cases IAS officer could not become chief secretary of the state."The BJP leader had complained about Chaturvedi several times, but his complaints were examined and rejected," Kejriwal told a press conference. He said that the logic given by Harsh Vardhan that Chaturvedi's appointment required Chief Vigilance Commission's approval was wrong as AIIMS is not included in the list of government institutions that require CVC's nod for appointment of a CVO.
"If the CVC's approval was really an issue, the minister could have approached the CVC and obtained the same, rather than removing an honest officer. All you require is good intention and will," Kejriwal said.The AAP leader added that there were attempts to remove the Haryana cadre Indian Forest Service officer as the CVO from day one. "Under influence of some powerful vested interests, there were attempts to remove Chaturvedi within a few months of his posting. The Parliamentary Standing Committee took umbrage and sought to know why it should not be treated as breach of privilege of the Parliament. "The union health secretary had then given specific commitment to Parliamentary Standing Committee on June 6, 2012 that Sanjeev Chaturvedi would be posted as the CVO in AIIMS," Kejriwal said.
The AAP leader also alleged that since Charturvedi had initiated action against many officers, much senior to him, this was hurting people with "vested interests".Kejriwal pointed out the case of a doctor of the AIIMS who was sent to inspect facilities and infrastructure of VinayakaMissionsMedicalCollege in Karikal by the Medical Council of India, and allegedly accepted lodging, boarding and other hospitality from the inspected college, contrary to the norms."Chaturvedi recommended imposition of major penalty on the doctor. The then Health minister reduced it to minor penalty, but Harsh Vardhan has completely exonerated her and even withdrawn her penalty.
3) BJP leader, 5 others arrested for raping minor girl:
persons including a local Bharatiya Janata Party leader were arrested in connection with alleged trafficking and rape of a minor girl from Assam, police said on Friday.The accused were caught on Thursday evening during a routine checking on Ujjain road when police stopped a car on the basis of suspicion and found a 15-year-old girl in the captivity of four men, city Kotwali police station in-charge, Bhupendra Singh said.
The minor later told police that she was lured by a person from Doipang area near Guwahati, Assam and brought to Mumbai on the pretext of providing her a job but was allegedly raped there by few persons.Later, she was brought to Indore in Madhya Pradesh where a middleman Raja alias Rakesh allegedly sold her to a woman agent, Mumtaz after taking money.Mumtaz later handed over her for Rs 4,000 to four persons, including Dewas municipal corporation’s revenue inspector Sabir alias Lal, a corporation employee Rohit Jalodia, BJP leader Hamid Sadar and Yaqub Sheikh.
On Thursday, they allegedly took her to a secluded place in a car for physically exploiting her but started abusing her in the vehicle itself, Singh said. After reaching the designated spot they began squabbling over taking turns to rape her following which they decided to return, the in-charge said.Meanwhile, Sabir allegedly raped the girl and was subsequently caught by police on the way back. Taking a serious view of the matter, BJP has expelled the minority wing’s former office bearer Hamid from the party.
The accused will be produced in a local court on Friday and a police team would be sent to Assam for further probing the incident.
4) Manipur activist Irom Sharmila arrested yet again:
Two days after she was released on court orders, civil rights activist Irom Chanu Sharmila was re-arrested by the police on fresh charges of attempt to commit suicide and forcibly taken away to a city hospital from a makeshift shelter where she was continuing her fast on Friday.“We have re-arrested her this morning and will produce her in the Chief Judicial Magistrate court later in the day on charges of attempt to commit suicide (Section 309 of IPC),” Manipur Additional Director General of Police (Intelligence) Santosh Macherla said.
A local court in Imphal had on Tuesday absolved 42-year-old Sharmila of charges of attempt to commit suicide by means of fasting after which she walked out of a hospital-turned-prison on Wednesday.“The court released her for her past act. Now she is again refusing to take food and water and resisting any medical check-up as well. Her health is deteriorating and now she will be kept at the same Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital ward where she was kept earlier,” Macherla said. Her medical check-up will be done and she will be force fed once again through nose, he said.
Earlier in the day, she was forcibly taken away by the police to a city hospital from a makeshift shelter outside the hospital where she was continuing her fast after being released from detention.Women police personnel took her to Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Medical Science and Hospital for a medical-check-up after she refused to eat or drink, the police said.
Before she was whisked away this morning, officials had said that her condition was deteriorating.They said doctors tried to feed her through nose but she refused and her health was deteriorating very fast.The activist had refused to take food even after being released. The hospital where she was taken on Friday had served as her make-shift prison in the last several years.
Sharmila has been fasting for the last 14 years demanding the withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers (Assam and Manipur) Act 1958.After her release on Wednesday, Sharmila had begun her fast at a place near the hospital.Even after her release, the former journalist-cum-social activist had decided to keep her vow of neither entering her house nor meeting her mother till the government repeals AFSPA. “I will continue to fast till my demand (withdrawal of AFSPA) is met. The order of the sessions court that I am not attempting to commit suicide (by launching fast to remove the controversial Act) is welcome,” she had said.
She had launched her fast unto death on November 2000 after Assam Rifles killed 10 persons at Malom area in an alleged encounter with insurgents. For the last many years, she was released from time to time and rearrested again and again under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code for attempting to commit suicide.
5) Imran Khan suspends talks with Sharif govt; vows to fight 'till the last ball':
Pakistan’s opposition leader Imran Khan on Thursday hardened his stand by withdrawing from dialogue with the government and vowed to continue his fight till the end, apparently buoyed by the Supreme Court’s washing off its hands of the protests.
Pakiatan Awami Tehreek chief cleric Tahirul Qadri whose thousands of supporters have combined with Khan’s supporters also stayed put in the ‘Red Zone’ where important government buildings including the Parliament House, Prime Minister House, President House, the Supreme Court besides the embassies are housed.Khan relented late Wednesday night from his ‘no-talks’ position until Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resigns. A team of\ his party leaders held discussions with the government representatives.
The Pakistan Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the government’s plea for an order for the eviction of protesters besieging the Parliament, saying it is an administrative matter and should be dealt with in accordance with the law.
Emboldened by the court’s stand, Khan upped the ante against the Sharif government, announcing that he would not talk to the government until the PM resigns.
A visibly charged PTI Chairman Khan on Thursday afternoon called on his supporters to expand the civil disobedience movement into all the provinces. “It is our democratic right to protest...we are not breaking any laws. I request the Supreme Court to have these containers removed so that life can return to normal,” said Khan, addressing his supporters camped outside the parliament.PAT whose leaders met with government representatives on Wednesday held no fresh talks on Thursday.The talks with the government are over. How can these talks proceed when we first want resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif?” Khan said.
Khan asked his supporters from all provinces to converge in Islamabad. He vowed to fight “until the last ball”. “PTI suspends negotiations with the government committee. Their attitude is totally opposite compared to their dialogues call,” the PTI party said on Twitter.PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the decision had been conveyed to Governor Punjab Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar and it was taken because the government’s actions were opposite to their dialogue call. “Police has begun crackdown against PTI workers and is once again blocking roads in Islamabad,” he said.Qureshi’s statement came as the government team reached a local hotel here to hold talks with the PTI team which did not turn up for the meeting, Geo News reported.
6) US journalist's brutal execution shocks the world:
The cold-blooded murder of American journalist James Foley has sent shockwaves around the world.
Even as social media websites clamoured to block the execution video, leaders from around the world have heaped scorn on the Islamic State militants.While British Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the killing as "deeply shocking", UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called it "an abominable crime that underscores the campaign of terror".
Shortly after it was confirmed that Foley had been murdered, Obama said: "ISIL speaks for no religion. ISIL has no ideology of any value to any human beings. Their ideology is bankrupt.""People like this ultimately fail ... because the future is always won by those who build, not destroy. The world is shaped by people like Jim Foley.Obama also pledged a relentless response to "cowardly acts of violence".Shortly after Obama spoke, US central command confirmed 14 new air strikes against Isis near the Mosul Dam, which the Pentagon and Iraqi forces said on Tuesday was no longer under ISIS control.But probably that's not what Michael Foley, the slain journalist’s brother, wanted."I hope they do more for Steven Sotloff (The other captive American journalist who was seen dressed in an orange jumpsuit like Foley in the video). There’s more that could be done. The footprint’s been laid by some of the other nations."
Michael was hinting at how vastly different responses to kidnappings by US and European governments are saving European hostages but dooming Americans.According to reports later in the day, elite US military forces secretly invaded Syria recently in a risky and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to free Foley.The Guardian reported that the night-time raid involved dozens of special operations forces from all US military services, including the 160th special operations aviation regiment.US forces flew into Syria in defiance of air defence batteries that senior military officials have described as highly threatening to pilots. Modified Black Hawk helicopters were involved, and "armed fixed-wing aircraft and drones" provided cover to forces on the ground, the report said quoting an US administration official.Yet the operation, which took place in an area of Syria that Obama administration officials declined to disclose, failed when "the hostages were not present at the targeted location," said rear admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary.Foley first went missing in November 2012. He was last seen alive in Aleppo, Syria, where he was covering the Syrian civil war. It wasn't clear where he had gone or who had taken him. At that point in the conflict, ISIS had not yet formed.
For a long time, Foley's location was unknown. In May 2013, his family and friends believed they had tracked him to a Syrian government jail.Foley was kidnapped once before while he was reporting in Benghazi, Libya, and was held for 44 days before the fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi.Disclosure of the unsuccessful operation may have consequences for Sotloff, whom ISIS has threatened to kill unless the US ends its bombing campaign against it.The chilling video of the execution, released by ISIS, begins with Obama explaining his decision to order airstrikes in Iraq before switching to a man dressed in an orange jumpsuit kneeling with a person dressed in black by his side."For what will happen to me is only a result of their complacency and criminality," ABC News reported Foley as saying in the video.
"I wish I had more time. I wish I could have the hope of freedom of seeing my family once again, but that ship has sailed. I guess all in all, I wish I wasn't American."Seconds later, ABC News reported, the person dressed in black takes out a knife and identifies himself as being with ISIS."Today your military air force has attacked us daily," the person said. "Your strikes have caused causalities amongst Muslims. Any attempt to deny the Muslims their right to live in safety under Islamic caliphate will result in the bloodshed of your people."The video then shows Foley being beheaded.
Was that a UFO flying over Texas?:
Several people reported seeing a ring of blinking lights in the sky in Texas during a recent lightning storm and have claimed that it was a UFO.Photographs and videos of the event have been circulating on social media.
The best footage was recorded by Houston musician Andrew Pena, who he was videoing the spectacular lightning show while driving, the New York Post reported.The video, which shows a circle of brightly coloured lights moving around in the sky, has been declared both “amazing” and “nothing” by UFO-logists and sceptics alike.
“I think the trick with UFOs is figuring out what else they could be,” Dr Carolyn Summers, vice president for astronomy at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, told KPRC-TV. “It’s easy to say that it could be aliens. The more people who see it in different directions, the more likely we are to figure out where it is, what it is, and see if we can explain it.”
However, Tutual UFO Network chief investigator Fletcher Gray denied that it was a UFO and dismissed the object as "no more than light trapped in the side window" of Pena's car.
The UFO was reportedly hovering less than 20km from the Johnson Space Centre, leading others to speculate it could have been NASA testing its latest toy, a “supersonic flying saucer” which was launched from Hawaii on June 28.The NASA device, officially named Low Density Supersonic Decelerator, imitates the rapid inflation technique of the Hawaiian puffer fish as a way to protect spacecraft during landings.The aim is to reduce the speed of descending spacecraft, making it easier to land on planets like Mars.Other theories include a weather balloon, the reflection of a street light, stadium lights and an unmanned drone. So far, there has been no official explanation from NASA.
Sports News This Week:
1) The England cricket team celebrate with champagne their 3-1 series win,
after defeating India on the third day of the fifth test cricket match at Oval cricket ground in London, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014. Captain Alastair Cook holds the trophy from the series.
2) Phelps back in winners circle in international comeback:
It was just like old times for Michael Phelps on Friday. The world's most decorated swimmer was on the top of the podium at the Pan Pacific championships, collecting another gold medal after a thrilling race win.
He had just helped the Americans win the 4x200 metres freestyle relay after a titanic struggle against Japan at Australia's Gold Coast on a rainy winter's night.For a man who has won a mind-boggling 18 Olympic gold medals, it might normally have seemed like just another day at the office, but not this time.The importance was not lost on Phelps, who was swimming at his first international meet in two years in an event the Americans have not lost for over a decade.“I think being able to hold that tradition for this long and being able to get back on the podium, it feels amazing," Phelps told reporters.
"We all know that by no means is this going to get any easier over the next two years, and I think having a close one like this should propel us into the Worlds next summer, and hopefully on to Rio from there."Comebacks have invariably been cruel to swimmers and even Phelps has struggled to get near his best but Friday was a good day for the 28-year-old.
3) Djokovic, Federer favored for grand slam sequel:
Top seed Novak Djokovic and number two Roger Federer are favored to wage another title showdown in the last grand slam of 2014, although some emerging young guns have other ideas for the U.S. Open starting on Monday.
Djokovic and Federer's path to a championship clash could be less troubled than usual with the absence of last year’s winner Rafa Nadal due to a wrist injury, and the sub-par form of 2012 champion Andy Murray since last year’s back surgery.
If the leading men star in the Arthur Ashe Stadium final, it would provide a sequel to their five-set thriller at the All England Club in which a teary-eyed Djokovic hoisted the Wimbledon trophy.
Both claim to be overdue for another taste of triumph at Flushing Meadows.Djokovic counts just one U.S. title (2011) in his haul of seven grand slams despite reaching the Flushing Meadows final in each of the last four years and five times overall.
Federer, 33, has five successive U.S. Open crowns from 2004 but has gone without since. He extended his grand slam title record collection to 17 by winning the 2012 Wimbledon, which stands as his only slam triumph in his last 18 tries.
Lying in wait for another chance to spring a surprise and trumpet their arrival on the main stage are promising players who made a big splash in London.Seeded fifth is hard-serving Canadian Milos Raonic, a Wimbledon semi-finalist along with fellow 23-year-old Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, seeded seventh in Flushing Meadows, where girlfriend Maria Sharapova will likely be seen cheering him on.
Also hoping to follow up the fireworks he set off at the last major is 19-year-old Australian Nick Kyrgios, who ousted Nadal in the fourth round before falling to Raonic in the quarters at Wimbledon.Among the veterans, Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland is seeded third ahead of Spaniard David Ferrer, with Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic at number six, two places ahead of Murray, who has shown hints of a return to form of late.
4) Bouchard, Raonic make final push to summit at U.S. Open:
Canada has long been a global ice hockey super power, toasted a Formula One driver's champion and at different times has laid claim to the world's fastest man.The Maple Leaf has been waved by a Masters champion and produced most valuable players in the National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball.
But one sporting peak no Canadian has yet to reach is the top of the tennis mountain as a grand slam winner.Faced with some Everest sized hype, Canadians Eugenie Bouchard and Milos Raonic have set up base camps within sight of that lofty goal and head into the U.S. Open next week prepared to make a final push for the summit.By reaching the Wimbledon final Bouchard has already climbed higher than any Canadian before her after semi-final appearances at the French and Australian Opens - losing to eventual champions on both occasions - had already marked her as a rising star.
5) Uruguay begin renewal without Lugano and Forlan:
The disgraced Luis Suarez and ageing veterans Diego Forlan and Diego Lugano are all missing from the first post-World Cup Uruguay squad announced on Thursday for two friendlies in Asia next month.Suarez is technically allowed to play friendlies after an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport succeeded in getting some terms of his four-month suspension from all football-related activity changed.But the striker has seen only 15 minutes of action in a Barcelona friendly since being handed a nine-match ban from competitive internationals after biting an opponent during a World Cup match in June.
Uruguay play Japan on Sept. 5 in Sapporo and South Korea in Seoul four days later.There was no official reason given for the absence of World Cup captain Lugano, released by West Bromwich Albion in May, and striker Forlan, now playing in the J-League.They have not formally retired but with both well into their thirties, their international careers are all but over after Uruguay’s last-16 elimination at the Brazil finals.Coach Oscar Tabarez, who picked the squad, is close to being confirmed as staying in charge for another four-year World Cup cycle but since he is recovering from back surgery, the team will travel with Uruguay under-20s coach Fabian Coito as caretaker.There are 18 members of Uruguay’s World Cup squad among the 29 players named but seven of the other 11 had never before been called up as Uruguay begin the process of renewal.
The other missing players from the June-July Brazil tournament are midfielders Diego Perez of Bologna and Southampton’s Gaston Ramirez.Uruguay, whose next objective is to defend their Copa America title in Chile next year, also meet Saudi Arabia in a friendly in Jeddah on Oct. 10.
Goalkeepers: Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray), Martin Silva (Vasco Da Gama), Martin Campana (Defensor Sporting), Rodrigo Munoz (Libertad)
Defenders: Diego Godin, Jose Maria Gimenez (both Atletico Madrid), Sebastian Coates (Liverpool), Emiliano Velazquez (Danubio), Martin Caceres (Juventus), Alvaro Pereira (Sao Paulo), Mathias Corujo (Universidad de Chile), Matias Aguirregaray (Estudiantes), Jorge Fucile (Nacional), Alejandro Silva (Penarol), Maximiliano Pereira (Benfica)
Midfielders: Walter Gargano (Napoli), Egidio Arevalo Rios (UANL Tigres), Alvaro Gonzalez (Lazio), Diego Laxalt (Empoli), Camilo Mayada (Danubio), Jorge Rodriguez (Penarol), Nicolas Lodeiro (Corinthians), Cristian Rodriguez (Atletico Madrid), Giorgian De Arrascaeta (Defensor Sporting)
Forwards: Edinson Cavani (Paris St-Germain), Cristhian Stuani (Espanyol), Abel Hernandez (Palermo), Diego Rolan (Bordeaux), Jonathan Rodriguez (Penarol)
Book Of This Week:
Beloved (novel):Author :Toni Morrison
Beloved is a novel by the American writer Toni Morrison. Set after the American Civil War (1861–1865), it is inspired by the story of an African-American slave, Margaret Garner, who temporarily escaped slavery during 1856 in Kentucky by fleeing to Ohio, a free state. A posse arrived to retrieve her and her children under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which gave slave owners the right to pursue slaves across state borders. Margaret killed her two-year-old daughter rather than allow her to be recaptured.
Beloved's main character, Sethe, kills her daughter and tries to kill her other three children when a posse arrives in Ohio to return them to Sweet Home, the Kentucky plantation from which Sethe recently fled. A woman presumed to be her daughter, called Beloved, returns years later to haunt Sethe's home at 124 Bluestone Road, Cincinnati. The story opens with an introduction to the ghost: "124 was spiteful. Full of a baby's venom."
The novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988 and was a finalist for the 1987 National Book Award. It was adapted during 1998 into a movie of the same name starring Oprah Winfrey. A New York Times survey of writers and literary critics ranked it the best work of American fiction from 1981 to 2006.The book's epigraph reads "Sixty Million and more," dedicated to the Africans and their descendants who died as a result of the Atlantic slave trade
(born Chloe Ardelia Wofford; February 18, 1931) is an American novelist, editor, and professor. Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed characters. Among her best known novels are The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon and Beloved. She also was commissioned to write the libretto for a new opera, Margaret Garner, first performed in 2005. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for Beloved and the Nobel Prize in 1993. On 29 May 2012, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.