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Sunday, 28 September 2014

Subhaditya News Channel Presents Science,Movie, Political,Sports And Book News This Week (114)

Science News This Week:

1) Chemists recruit anthrax to deliver cancer drugs:

Bacillus anthracis bacteria have very efficient machinery for injecting toxic proteins into cells, leading to the potentially deadly infection known as anthrax. A team of MIT researchers has now hijacked that delivery system for a different purpose: administering cancer drugs."Anthrax toxin is a professional at delivering large enzymes into cells," says Bradley Pentelute, the Pfizer-Laubauch Career Development Assistant Professor of Chemistry at MIT. "We wondered if we could render anthrax toxin nontoxic, and use it as a platform to deliver antibody drugs into cells."

In a paper appearing in the journal ChemBioChem, Pentelute and colleagues showed that they could use this disarmed version of the anthrax toxin to deliver two proteins known as antibody mimics, which can kill cancer cells by disrupting specific proteins inside the cells. This is the first demonstration of effective delivery of antibody mimics into cells, which could allow researchers to develop new drugs for cancer and many other diseases, says Pentelute, the senior author of the paper.

Hitching a ride
Antibodies -- natural proteins the body produces to bind to foreign invaders -- are a rapidly growing area of pharmaceutical development. Inspired by natural protein interactions, scientists have designed new antibodies that can disrupt proteins such as the HER2 receptor, found on the surfaces of some cancer cells. The resulting drug, Herceptin, has been successfully used to treat breast tumors that overexpress the HER2 receptor.Several antibody drugs have been developed to target other receptors found on cancer-cell surfaces. However, the potential usefulness of this approach has been limited by the fact that it is very difficult to get proteins inside cells. This means that many potential targets have been "undruggable," Pentelute says.
"Crossing the cell membrane is really challenging," he says. "One of the major bottlenecks in biotechnology is that there really doesn't exist a universal technology to deliver antibodies into cells."

For inspiration to solve this problem, Pentelute and his colleagues turned to nature. Scientists have been working for decades to understand how anthrax toxins get into cells; recently researchers have started exploring the possibility of mimicking this system to deliver small protein molecules as vaccines.The anthrax toxin has three major components. One is a protein called protective antigen (PA), which binds to receptors called TEM8 and CMG2 that are found on most mammalian cells. Once PA attaches to the cell, it forms a docking site for two anthrax proteins called lethal factor (LF) and edema factor (EF). These proteins are pumped into the cell through a narrow pore and disrupt cellular processes, often resulting in the cell's death.
However, this system can be made harmless by removing the sections of the LF and EF proteins that are responsible for their toxic activities, leaving behind the sections that allow the proteins to penetrate cells. The MIT team then replaced the toxic regions with antibody mimics, allowing these cargo proteins to catch a ride into cells through the PA channel.

'A prominent advance'
The antibody mimics are based on protein scaffolds that are smaller than antibodies but still maintain structural diversity and can be designed to target different proteins inside a cell. In this study, the researchers successfully targeted several proteins, including Bcr-Abl, which causes chronic myeloid leukemia; cancer cells in which that protein was disrupted underwent programmed cell suicide. The researchers also successfully blocked hRaf-1, a protein that is overactive in many cancers.
"This work represents a prominent advance in the drug-delivery field," says Jennifer Cochran, an associate professor of bioengineering at Stanford University. "Given the efficient protein delivery Pentelute and colleagues achieved with this technology compared to a traditional cell-penetrating peptide, studies to translate these findings to in vivo disease models will be highly anticipated."The MIT team is now testing this approach to treat tumors in mice and is also working on ways to deliver the antibodies to specific types of cells.

2) Fossil of ancient multicellular life sets evolutionary timeline back 60 million years:

A Virginia Tech geobiologist with collaborators from the Chinese Academy of Sciences have found evidence in the fossil record that complex multicellularity appeared in living things about 600 million years ago -- nearly 60 million years before skeletal animals appeared during a huge growth spurt of new life on Earth known as the Cambrian Explosion.

The discovery published online Wednesday in the journal Nature contradicts several longstanding interpretations of multicellular fossils from at least 600 million years ago."This opens up a new door for us to shine some light on the timing and evolutionary steps that were taken by multicellular organisms that would eventually go on to dominate the Earth in a very visible way," said Shuhai Xiao, a professor of geobiology in the Virginia Tech College of Science. "Fossils similar to these have been interpreted as bacteria, single-cell eukaryotes, algae, and transitional forms related to modern animals such as sponges, sea anemones, or bilaterally symmetrical animals. This paper lets us put aside some of those interpretations."In an effort to determine how, why, and when multicellularity arose from single-celled ancestors, Xiao and his collaborators looked at phosphorite rocks from the Doushantuo Formation in central Guizhou Province of South China, recovering three-dimensionally preserved multicellular fossils that showed signs of cell-to-cell adhesion, differentiation, and programmed cell death -- qualities of complex multicellular eukaryotes such as animals and plants.

The discovery sheds light on how and when solo cells began to cooperate with other cells to make a single, cohesive life form.
The complex multicellularity evident in the fossils is inconsistent with the simpler forms such as bacteria and single-celled life typically expected 600 million years ago.While some hypotheses can now be discarded, several interpretations may still exist, including the multicellular fossils being transitional forms related to animals or multicellular algae.Xiao said future research will focus on a broader paleontological search to reconstruct the complete life cycle of the fossils.Xiao earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from Beijing University in 1988 and 1991 and his doctoral degree from Harvard University in 1998. He worked for three years at Tulane University before arriving at Virginia Tech in 2003.

3) Water found on Neptune-sized world:

HAT-P-11b is smallest exoplanet known to host the life-friendly molecule. The smallest, coolest exoplanet known to host water is roughly the size of Neptune, astronomers report in the Sept. 25 Nature. Previously, researchers had found water only on exoplanets that are about the size of Jupiter. The planet HAT-P-11b is just over four times as wide as Earth.

Jonathan Fraine, an astronomer at the University of Maryland in College Park, and colleagues discovered the water after a year and a half of observations with the Hubble, Spitzer and Kepler space telescopes.

Gases such as water vapor in a planet’s atmosphere leave their mark by absorbing specific frequencies of light. When HAT-P-11b comes between Earth and its star, the planet’s atmosphere filters out some of the starlight. The astronomers detected water by observing infrared light that disappeared each time the planet passed between Earth and its host, an orange dwarf about 122 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus.

The data also revealed a relatively clear atmosphere that is rich in hydrogen. The abundance of hydrogen jibes with theories of planet formation, in which gas giants form around a rocky or icy core that quickly attracts an atmosphere by pulling hydrogen out of the gaseous disk encircling an infant star.

4) Hybrid robot merges flier with two snakelike machines:

Snakes on a plane” might be a good strategy for building rescue robots.

Pairing two snakelike robots with a flying one has let researchers combine the exploring skills of small, ground-based bots with the swift moves of an aerial machine.Engineers have created search-and-rescue robots before — tanklike machines with heavy-duty treads — but most of these bots muscle over rough terrain with brute force. They can disturb damaged areas and have trouble reaching nooks and crannies within the wreckage.

Agile snakebots can burrow through rubble, but they can get stuck, said Stella Latscha, a University of Pennsylvania mechanical engineer now at SpaceX in Hawthorne, Calif. “If a person has to run out and move them that really defeats the purpose.” So she and colleagues designed a four-propeller helicopter that can airlift wheeled snakebots out of tight spots.

The robot trio speeds over flat terrain as a team, or splits up to patrol the air and the ground separately. Using an Xbox controller, Latscha and colleagues drove snakebots through a 4-inch pipe and even up stairs.

For faster vertical trips, the rolling bots use magnets to snap into the helicopter, which can fly carrying one snakebot for about five minutes, the researchers reported September 16 at the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems.

5) Scientists have discovered an on/off switch for ageing cells:

In our bodies, our cells are constantly dividing in order to replenish our lungs, skin, liver and other organs. But most human cells can’t divide forever, and eventually this causes our organs and tissues to degrade as we age.The "timekeeper" of our cells are telomeres - little DNA caps that sit at the end of our chromosomes, sort of like that plastic bit at the end of your shoelace. Each time a cell divides, these telomeres get shorter and shorter until eventually they're so short the cell can no longer divide.
But researchers know that there is a way to stop the telomere from wearing down - some cells can produce an enzyme called telomerase, which rebuilds telomeres and lets cells divide indefinitely. However they've struggled to understand why telomerase acts in some cells and not others.

Now researchers from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in the US have discovered that telomerase has an on/off switch - and can be present in a cell but not slow down ageing if it's turned off.“Previous studies had suggested that once assembled, telomerase is available whenever it is needed,” senior author Vicki Lundblad said in a press release. “We were surprised to discover instead that telomerase has what is in essence an ‘off’ switch, whereby it disassembles.” Their research is published in the journal Genes and Development.It’s a pretty huge breakthrough, because if scientists can now work out how to manipulate this “off” switch, it could help them slow down the ageing process and lead to treatments for age-related diseases. And, interestingly, it may also provide insight into cancer cells, which require telomerase to help them divide uncontrollably.
Lundblad, along with graduate student Timothy Tucey, discovered this switch in yeast, by using a new technique that allowed them to monitor each component of telomerase while a cell grew and divided.

Each time a cell divides, its genome must be duplicated completely. And the scientists found that while a cell was replicating, telemorase was sitting in a “preassembly” mode, waiting for a molecular subunit to be added once genome duplication was complete.But surprisingly, as soon as the telemorase was assembled, it quickly disassembled and switched into the “off” position, they discovered. The researchers believe that this off switch might help the body keep telomerase at exceptionally low levels inside the cells in order to avoid the uncontrollable cell growth that can lead to cancer. But it could also be the key to helping cells divide for longer.While it might not seem as though these experiments in a single-celled yeast can tell us much about human cells, much of the initial research on telomerase was done in yeast cells and laid the groundwork for future discoveries in humans.The next step is to understand more about this switch and how it is involved in ageing and cancer, and then scientists can try to understand how it can be manipulated to keep people healthier for longer.

Movie Release This Week:

In The Equalizer, Denzel Washington plays McCall, a former black ops commando who has faked his death to live a quiet life in Boston. When he comes out of his self-imposed retirement to rescue a young girl, Teri (Chloe Moretz), he finds himself face to face with ultra-violent Russian gangsters. As he serves vengeance against those who brutalize the helpless, McCall's desire for justice is reawakened. If someone has a problem, the odds are stacked against them, and they have nowhere else to turn, McCall will help. He is The Equalizer.

A no-strings-attached, online hook-up turns into a morning-after disaster for twenty-something New Yorkers Megan (Analeigh Tipton) and Alec (Miles Teller). When a paralyzing blizzard hits the city trapping them in Alec’s cramped Brooklyn apartment, they are forced to get to know each other far beyond the confines of a typical one-night stand. Marking the directorial debut of Max Nichols, Two Night Stand is a sexy, romantic comedy about finding love in the digital age. The film also stars Jessica Szohr and Scott Mescudi (aka Kid Cudi).

The new 3D animated feature from Laika Studios tells the tale of the Boxtrolls, monsters who live underneath the charming streets of Cheesebridge, who crawl out of the sewers at night to steal what the townspeople hold most dear: their children and their cheeses. At least, that’s the legend the townspeople have always believed. In truth, the Boxtrolls are a community of lovable oddballs who are raising as one of their own an abandoned and orphaned human boy named Eggs. When the Boxtrolls are targeted by a villainous exterminator who is bent on eradicating them, Eggs must venture aboveground to save them, where he teams with an adventurous young girl to save not only the Boxtrolls but the soul of Cheesebridge.

The film follows aspiring singer-songwriter Jed King (Alan Powell) as he struggles to catch a break and escape the long shadow of his father, a country music legend. After reluctantly accepting a gig at a local vineyard harvest festival, Jed is love-struck by the vineyard owner’s daughter, Rose (Ali Faulkner), and a romance quickly blooms. Soon after their wedding, Jed writes Rose “The Song,” which becomes a breakout hit. Thrust into a life of stardom and a world of temptation in the form of fellow performer Shelby Bale (Caitlin Nicol-Thomas), Jed’s life and marriage begin to fall apart.

Edinburgh, late 19th century. Little Jack is born on a day so cold that his heart remains frozen. In her house on top of a big hill, Madeleine the midwife replaces the defective organ with a cuckoo-clock. It will work, she warns him, as long as Jack doesn’t touch the hands of the clock, doesn’t lose his temper and, above all, doesn’t fall in love. But Jack’s encounter with a fiery-eyed little girl singing on a street corner and his decision to chase after her across Europe to Andalusia test the resistance of his makeshift heart to breaking point...

Political News This Week:

1) It's official: 25-year-old BJP, Shiv Sena alliance in Maharashtra ends:

The 25-year-old Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena alliance split on Thursday amid continued deadlock over seat-sharing for the October 15 Maharashtra assembly polls. After several rounds of talks over the last few days, senior state BJP leaders announced this evening severing of the ties between the two parties, blaming Shiv Sena's "inflexibility" for it.

"We have conveyed our decision to snap ties to the Shiv Sena. The decision was taken with a heavy heart," Maharashtra BJP chief Devendra Fadnavis told reporters after a meeting of the state party's core committee.The BJP, however, hinted at the possibility of a post-poll alliance with its estranged ally, saying the party would not criticise the Sena during the campaign and remain friends."Our aim is to prevent the corrupt Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government from coming to power. We will not criticise Shiv Sena during the campaign, we don't want any bitterness with our ally of 25 years," Leader of Opposition in the assembly Eknath Khadse said.

Fadnavis said the BJP will go to polls with smaller 'Mahayuti' allies. He said BJP had worked out a seat-sharing deal with Mahadeo Jankar's Rashtriya Samaj Paksha and Raju Shetty's Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana.“Our talks with Vinayak Mete of Shiv Sangram are in final stages and we will also speak to RPI's Ramdas Athawale, Fadnavis said."We reiterate that the Shiv Sena is still our friend. We will not criticise the Sena and our target will be the corrupt Congress-NCP combine," he said.

2) Assam flood death toll rises to 36; 10 lakh affected:

With the recovery of four more bodies on Thursday, the death toll mounted to 36 in Assam floods that affected about 10 lakh people in 13 districts and rendered majority of them homeless.Two more deaths were reported from Krishnai and Kukurkata areas of the worst-hit Goalpara district, while one body each was recovered from Tinsukia district and Guwahati which falls in Kamrup Metro district, officials said.Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said 35 to 36 people have been reported dead so far and that the toll could be higher. Though the rains have stopped and water was slowly ebbing, huge tracks of human habitation and crop fields were under water that reached even up to roofs of thatched- and tinned-roof houses, the officials said.

The authorities have opened 162 relief camps and shelter homes where 1.5 lakh people have taken shelter. The National Highway in Goalpara was still under water and there was no movement of traffic there, while washing away of a wooden bridge on Aagia-Darek Road has forced the people to come to safety using a rope from one bank to the other.

The floods have caused four small children in Boko area of Kamrup Rural district to become orphans as their parents were washed away by a swollen river, the sources said. With the cessation of rains since last evening in Guwahati, the flood waters were gradually receding from Anil Nagar, Nabin Nagar and Zoo Road areas, the sources said.

According to the flood report by Assam State Disaster Management Authority, around 3 lakh people were hit in Kamrup Rural district. Essential food items and tarpaulin sheets were being provided to the relief camp inmates, the ASDMA release said. However, people who took shelter on higher roads complained that the authorities have not provided them with food, drinking water or tarpaulin sheets.

Goalpara district was the worst-hit in the floods due to heavy rains in Assam, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh since early this week, while torrential downpour and water running down from the adjacent Meghalaya hills caused heavy waterlogging in Guwahati, the sources said.

Several embankments have been breached and many roads damaged across the state, the ASDMA added. The worst hit Goalpara district recorded the maximum death (16), followed by Kamrup Rural (12), Kamrup Metro (six), Dhubri and Tinsukia (both one).The other affected districts are Dhemaji, Barpeta, Udalguri, Kokrajhar, Nalbari, Morigaon, Nagaon, Darrang and Lakhimpur.The state government had on Wednesday announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 3.5 lakh to the next of kin of those who died in the flood. Meanwhile, the Northeast Frontier Railway had cancelled eight trains on Wednesday and diverted seven others today due to the floods in Lower Assam and damaged track restoration work.

The railway will also operate three special trains for transporting flood-affected people and helping in restoration work, an NF Railway spokesperson said in a statement. Rail tracks were breached at 16 places in the New Bongaigaon-Goalpara-Kamakhya section of Rangiya Division due to massive flood during the last few days, the statement said.Track restoration work is also going on between Aujuri and Sonuabari in Lumding division, the spokesman added.

3) Scores injured in fire at SAIL's West Bengal plant; 2 in ICU:

A fire at SAIL's IISCO Steel Plant at Burnpur, West Bengal, injured 21 people, with 2 of them in ICU, the state-owned steel maker said on Thursday. All the affected are being provided with immediate medical care, it said.

"An incident of fire occurred at SAIL’s IISCO Steel Plant at 12.15 pm... Around 21 affected persons have been provided immediate medical attention, both at the Plant Medical Unit and at Burnpur hospital. Out of these, two persons belonging to contractor BEC have been admitted to ICU," SAIL said in a statement.

Preliminary enquiry has revealed that it happened in New Coke Oven Battery no 11, it said.The fire was immediately extinguished. The incident occurred during a planned shutdown taken for carrying out rectification jobs in one of the pre-heaters of the coke oven battery.

4) Coal scam whistleblower MP: Manmohan Singh is the biggest culprit:

The UPA government should have cancelled the coal allocations after the CAG report was tabled in 2012. Instead, its ministers ridiculed the CAG report and the losses enumerated in it. They thus lost a very important opportunity to stop and contain the national loss,' BJP MP Hansraj Ahir, who red-flagged the issue in 2005, The Supreme Court on September 24 quashed the allocation of 214 out of 218 coal blocks which were allotted to various companies since 1993.

Hansraj Ahir, the Bharatiya Janata Party member of Parliament, who had blown the whistle on the coal scam way back in 2005, feels vindicated. Are you happy with the Supreme Court verdict?

I wholeheartedly welcome the Supreme Court verdict. It is an excellent verdict delivered by the apex court that will stop the loot of natural resources that the country has seen. The verdict has upheld the dignity of the highest court in India.

I have been fighting against this loot since 2006.

When did you first detect that there was a scam brewing in the allocation of coal blocks?

In 2004, I became the member of the Standing Committee on Coal and Steel. After going through documents I realised that there was something improper about these coal allocations.I continued studying various documents and registered my first complaint in 2005 to Shibu Soren (then the coal minister). But the complaint was only about the coal block allocation in Maharashtra (Ahir is the MP from Chandrapur).Later, when I delved further into the issue and laid hands on certain official documents, I found out that these blocks were doled out for free.In 2006, I wrote letters to P Chidambaram (then the finance minister) and (then Planning Commission deputy chairman) Montek Singh Ahluwalia. I asked them to levy some surcharge on the coal mined to generate some revenues; they responded very positively.

Ahluwalia prepared a Planning Commission report on the matter and sent it to the prime minister. Chidambaram also agreed with the proposal, but then they poured cold water on this proposal.

When they did not pursue the matter further I started writing to the PM.

What was the outcome of your letters to Dr Manmohan Singh?

I started writing letters to Dr Manmohan Singh in 2006 in which I objected to free disbursal of natural resources like coal.

While Chidambaram and Ahluwalia did acknowledge my letters and my standpoint, Dr Singh just acknowledged that he was in receipt of my letters.

I still have those 15 letters with me that I had written to him.

It was only when the report of the Comptroller & Auditor General of India came out that the government started taking some cognisance of the matter.

When the CAG report came out, why didn't you file a public interest litigation?

In my opinion, the matter should not have reached the Supreme Court in the first place. That is the reason I never felt it necessary to file a PIL.

The then government should have cancelled the coal allocations after the CAG report was tabled in 2012.

Instead, all UPA ministers, including Salman Khurshid and then minister for coal Sriprakash Jaiswal, ridiculed the CAG report and the losses enumerated in it.

They should have taken cognisance of the 2012 CAG report and cancelled the allocations two years ago.

They lost a very important opportunity to stop and contain the national loss.

Who do you hold responsible for this coal block allocation scam?

Dr Manmohan Singh is the biggest culprit. While I reiterate and welcome the Supreme Court decision, there are 20 more crimes that still needs to be investigated.

Chief among them being:

Damaging the efficiency of Coal India with a criminal purpose
Conspiracy to finish off Coal India
Many Coal India office bearers resigned from the company and joined private companiesBecause of all these crimes the nation had to face a huge shortfall of coal availability and so import it, leading to outflow of foreign exchange.

There was a big conspiracy to undermine India's self-sufficiency and kill Coal India. I think all this has come out today after the cancellation of these 214 coal blocks.

More than the politicians of the day and industrialists, I hold the coal ministry and top officials of Coal India responsible for the entire mess.Sriprakash Jaiswal, Santosh Bagrodia, Shibu Soren and Dasari Narayan Rao are all equally responsible for this national loot of coal resources.Of course, the biggest of them all who should take the responsibility is Dr Manmohan Singh.

You blame Coal India for this scam.Right from the chairman and managing director to board directors there were 11 members of Coal India who would be part of the screening committees that made recommendations for allocations of coal blocks to various companies.

Former coal secretary P C Parakh also said the same thing that I had written in my letters about these members of Coal India.But he said nothing during his tenure as coal secretary and opened his mouth only after retirement.Where do you think the CBI inquiry into the coal scam is heading now? Do you think the investigations are being done fairly?

I would not like to comment on this. Now that the Supreme Court has given its verdict that the coal block allocations were done in an illegal and ad hoc manner, the CBI's responsibility has increased manifold.The CBI's dignity and fairness are at stake now.

5) After making history, Mangalyaan begins its true work:

It’s been just a few hours since India’s first interplanetary mission, the Mars orbiter, entered the red planet’s orbit successfully and it is already hard at work.The Mangalyaan has sent back five photographs of Mars. The Indian Space Research Organisation confirmed that their ground station had receieved the first set of data from the craft.

The Mangalyaan had successfully entered the Mars's orbit early on Wednesday morning, making India the first country in the world to send a spacecraft to Mars in its maiden attempt.

The country joined the United States, European Space Agency and the former Soviet Union in the elite club of Martian explorers with the Mars Orbiter Mission, affectionately called MOM.“History has been created by our scientists,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his speech immediately after the scientists declared the mission a success. “We have dared to reach out to the unknown.”

MOM's scientific goals including using five solar-powered instruments to gather data that will help determine how Martian weather systems work and what happened to the water that is believed to have once existed on Mars in large quantities. It will also search Mars for methane, a key chemical in life processes on Earth that could also come from geological processes.

Meet the men behind the Mars Mission:

K Radhakrishnan: Indian Space Research Organisation chairman and department of space secretary. He became chairman in 2009, and was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2014.

Mylswamy Annadurai: Programme director of Mangalyaan. He was leading the remote sensing and science missions; responsible for budget management, direction for spacecraft configuration, schedule and resources. He was the project director of Chandrayaan-1 and now Chandrayaan-2.

S Ramakrishnan: Director at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre. He is one of the key brains in the development of PSLV and is responsible for development of liquid propulsion stages and their interfacing with vehicle and launch operations. He is responsible for realising the PSLV that ferried Mars orbiter.

Shivkumar: Director of ISRO Satellite Centre, developed the telemetry system for MOM.

V Adimurthy: Mission concept designer of MOM.

P Kunhikrishnan: Project director of PSLV Programme. He was the mission director of eight successful PSLV Missions. He is the mission director of PSLV-C25/MOM. He was responsible for seeing the rocket complete its mission successfully

Subbiah Arunan: Project director of MOM. He was responsible for building the spacecraft.

B Jayakumar: Associate project director of PSLV project, responsible for the rocket systems. Chief general manager of range operation at Sriharikota Rocket port. He was responsible for maintaining launch schedules without any slippages.

The view is nice up here: Mangalyaan tweets first photo:

India’s Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft has sent in its first images of the Red Planet after creating history by becoming the only such endeavour so far to have met with success on the maiden attempt.“First image of Mars, from a height of 7,300 kilometre; with 376 m spatial resolution. MT @MarsOrbiter. The view is nice up here,” Indian Space Research Organisation said on Thursday in a tweet posted along with snaps of the red planet.

India successfully placed its low-cost Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft in orbit around the red planet in its very first attempt on Wednesday, breaking into an elite club of three nations.The spacecraft is now circling the red planet in an orbit whose nearest point to Mars (periapsis) is at 421.7 kilometre and farthest point (apoapsis) at 76,993.6 km, ISRO said.

The inclination of orbit with respect to the equatorial plane of Mars is 150 degree, as intended. In this orbit, the spacecraft takes 72 hours 51 minutes 51 seconds to go round Mars once.In the coming weeks, ISRO said in a release, the spacecraft will be thoroughly tested in the Mars orbit and the systematic observation of that planet using its five scientific instruments would begin.MOM aims to study the Martian surface and mineral composition and scan its atmosphere for methane, an indicator of life.

The spacecraft is equipped with five instruments, including a sensor to track methane or marsh gas, a colour camera and a thermal-imaging spectrometer to map the surface and mineral wealth of the red planet.The Rs 450-crore MOM is the cheapest inter-planetary mission. India is the first country to reach Mars in the very first attempt. European, American and Russian probes have managed to orbit or land on the planet, but after several attempts.

The orbiter will keep moving in an elliptical path for at least six months with its instruments sending their gleanings back home.
The spacecraft was launched on its nine-month-long odyssey on a homegrown PSLV rocket from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on November 5 of last year. It had escaped the earth’s gravitational field on December 1.

Jayalalithaa convicted, sentenced to 4 yrs in Jail; 100 cr fine:

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was on Saturday convicted and sentenced to four years jail in an 18-year-old corruption case in a judgment that will unseat her from the post, disqualified her immediately as an MLA and can impact the Assembly elections due in 18 months.Since she has been sentenced to a term of more than 3 years, the chief minister has been taken to jail and she can apply for bail only from Karnataka High Court.

The 66-year-old AIADMK supremo has also been slapped with a fine of Rs 100 crore, highest imposed on any politician, by a special judge John Michael D'Cunha who heard the case of Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate assets acquired during her first term as chief minister between 1991 and 1996.

The conviction in the high-security court complex of Parappana Agrahara near here came amidst dramatic scenes outside where AIADMK supporters burnt effigies of DMK leader Karunanidhi and Subramaniam Swamy who had initially raked up the case.The conviction also evoked sporadic violence in Tamil Nadu where public vehicles were attacked and shops closed.

The Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-corruption had filed a charge sheet in the case which was transferred to the court here in 2003.

The court also convicted three others--Jayalalithaa's close friend Sasikala, Sasikala's niece Ilavarasi and her nephew and Chief Minister's disowned foster son Sudhakaran--and sentenced them to four years of jail term.Special Public Prosecutor Bhavani Singh said a sum of Rs 10 crore has been imposed on the other three convicts. He said the four can apply for bail by moving an application before the High Court.

Under a Supreme Court judgment of July last year, any MP or MLA who is convicted of a crime with more than two-years sentence will be disqualified as an elected representative from the date of conviction.

Unless the conviction is stayed or overturned by a superior court, she will be disqualified under the Representation of the People Act from contesting elections for a period of 10 years--four years from the date of conviction and six years thereafter.

Jayalalithaa has had the dubious distinction of having to resign in 2001 following a Supreme Court judgment that nullified her appointment in view of her conviction in TANSI land deal case.

The verdict immediately triggered speculation as to who will replace Jayalalithaa as Chief Minister.The names of senior minister O Panneerselvam, who had taken over as Chief Minister in 2001 after she was unseated and till her return, Transport Minister V Senthil Balaji and Electricity Minister R Viswanathan and even former Chief Secretary Sheela Balakrishna are doing the rounds.The verdict has come as a jolt to the ruling AIADMK as it had been enjoying a winning spree in all the elections held since April 2011, when the party trounced DMK.

The party had put up a stellar performance in the Lok Sabha polls this year, winning 37 of the 39 states in the state, though its hopes of a pivot role in the Centre failed with the BJP mustering majority on its own.However, there is no threat to the party government as AIADMK has a solid majority of 150 seats in the 234-member Assembly.She had been acquitted in several other cases filed during the DMK regime.

Sports News This Week:

1) Saina in Asiad quarters, Sindhu crashes out:

Ace Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal reached the quarterfinals of the women's singles badminton event but P.V. Sindhu failed to replicate her compatriot, crashing out of the 17th Asian Games at the Gyeyang Gymnasium here Thursday.

Sixth-seeded Saina hardly broke sweat as she outclassed Iran's Soraya Aghaeihajiagha 21-7, 21-6 in just 18 minutes in her round of 16 match.In the first game, Saina allowed the rallies to go a little longer as she took 14 minutes to win 21-7.A ruthless Saina completely decimated the Iranian, finishing her off in the second game 21-6 in an unbelievable four minutes.Saina's younger compatriot P.V. Sindhu, world No.10 and eight seed, failed to live upto expectations as she was ousted 22-20, 16-21, 20-22 by Indonesia's Bellaetrix Manuputty in an hour and two minutes.Sindhu, two-time World Championships bronze medallist, looked completely in control till the halfway mark of her pre-quarters, winning the first game and taking a comfortable 10-2 lead in the second.The 19-year-old, however, suddenly lost the plot and allowed the Indonesian, ranked 34th in the world, to get back into the match.Sindhu uncharacteristically made numerous unforced errors as Bellaetrix wrapped up the game 21-16.
The Indian failed to get her rhythm back and lost early ground in the decider. Sindhu made a mini-comeback to lead 17-16 but squandered the lead again before giving the Indonesian the first match point.The Hyderabadi shuttler managed to save the match point but failed to do so on the second and crashed out of the Games.

2) Bronze medallists from India pose after the final of the men's eight event of the rowing competition 

at the Chungju Tangeum Lake International Rowing Center, during the 17th Asian Games in Incheon,

3) Asian Games 2014: After missing the mark in pistol and rifle, India shoot double trap team bronze :

India’s unheralded women shooters nailed the bronze in team double trap at the faraway Gyeonggido range in the 17th Asian Games, the seventh medal in the discipline gained by the country so far. However, for the second successive day India drew a blank at the nearby Ongnyeon pistol and rifle range where hot shot Gagan Narang made his appearance and flopped individually as well as collectively with his team-mates in 50m rifle prone event.

4) Kuwait's Abdullah Almezayen (L) competes against India's Ghosal Saurav (Silver Medalist) in their men's singles gold medal match for squash at the Yeorumul Squash Courts during the 17th Asian Games in Incheon September 23, 2014:

A gold was there for the taking but Saurav Ghosal let it slip, squandering a two-game advantage to narrowly miss out on becoming the first Indian squash player to win the yellow metal at the Asian Games.

Ghosal was leading after the first two games of the gold-medal match but his opponent, Kuwait's Abdullah Almezayen, staged a dramatic fightback winning the next three games to clinch the top prize.

Almezayen won the title clash 10-12 2-11 14-12 11-8 11-9 at the Yeorumul Squash Courts. Ghosal had missed out on a gold-medal point with the scoreline reading 12-11 in the third game, which eventually proved to be the decisive game.

5) Sunset in the east: Abhinav Bindra signs off from Asian Games with twin bronze :

One of the enduring images, from India’s perspective, of the Beijing Olympics was that of Zhu Qinan being reduced to tears at a press conference minutes after being humiliated in front of the home crowd by Abhinav Bindra. Next morning, the country’s leading English newspaper, China Daily, ran a huge picture of Bindra on its front page with a headline — which had an undertone of a taunt — that read: ‘A nation of a billion people wins its first gold.’ Unfortunately for Bindra, he hasn’t beaten a shooter from that other nation of a billion plus people since that historic Monday morning half a dozen years ago. Qinan exacted revenge at the range by winning the Guangzhou Asiad gold two years later — giving birth to an interesting duel; a cat-and-mouse game that may well have played its final leg at the Ongnyeon Shooting Range here.

The yardstick China has played a pivotal role in shaping Bindra’s career. Much of his achievements have been measured vis-a-vis his Chinese counterparts. So it was fitting in a way that at his last Asian Games, Bindra was pitted against two Chinese rivals to battle for that elusive Asiad gold. In his previous attempts, even an Asiad medal (in individuals) had eluded the 31-year-old. In that respect, he partially succeeded on Tuesday. Bindra achieved bronze in the individual and team events (with Sanjeev Rajput and Ravi Kumar). But a gold continued to dodge him. And once again, the Chinese shooters halted his march. Bindra, though, wasn’t disappointed. Far from it, in fact. In the presser, he spoke of the impact Chinese shooters have had on him and his other teammates. ‘We’ve really looked up to them. I’ve enjoyed watching their unbelievable shots,’ he said. ‘You know, they’ve got guys who’re just 18 and already shooting incredible scores. I am almost double his age, with grey hair and all. So I am just happy that I still am capable of finishing on the podium alongside these young shooters.’ Bindra pointed at Yan Haoran, the ‘child genius’ who has taken the shooting fraternity by storm. Haoran and his compatriot Yifei Cao finished above the Indian marksman on the podium. But even before the medal ceremony could begin, Cao enquired, ‘Will he (Bindra) be continuing?’ It was a question that only Bindra could answer. Or so we assumed. ‘I know it’s confusing. But you’ll get it in a couple of days,’ he later said. ‘Look at all these Chinese shooters, they train 50 hours a week. I did that for 20 years. I trained 40-50

Asian Games 2014: India finish day on 11th position, add two golds, three silvers

Archers strike GOLD: Indian trio of Sandeep Kumar, Rajat Chauhan and Abhishek Verma beat hosts South Korea in the final of the men’s team compound archery final. India’s second Gold at Incheon. 

Shooting: Chain Singh wins shooting BRONZE in Men’s 50m Rifle 3 Positions event

ARCHERY: India’s Abhishek Verma settles for silver in men’s compound individual

SQUASH: Indian men’s squash team wins the GOLD medal in the team event 

Gold medal winners Saurav Ghosal, Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu, Kush Kuamr and Mahesh Manaonkar Mahesh during the medal ceremony of Men squash team event at Yeorumul Squash Court during 17th Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea on Saturday. PTI Photo.

Book Of This Week:

The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte by Ruth Hull Chatlien:


Tell the emperor that Madame Bonaparte is ambitious and demands her rights as a member of the imperial family.As a clever girl in stodgy, mercantile Baltimore, Betsy Patterson dreams of a marriage that will transport her to cultured Europe. When she falls in love with and marries Jerome Bonaparte, she believes her dream has come true—until Jerome’s older brother Napoleon becomes an implacable enemy.

Based on a true story, The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte is a historical novel that portrays this woman’s tumultuous life. Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, known to history as Betsy Bonaparte, scandalized Washington with her daring French fashions; visited Niagara Falls when it was an unsettled wilderness; survived a shipwreck and run-ins with British and French warships; dined with presidents and danced with dukes; and lived through the 1814 Battle of Baltimore. Yet through it all, Betsy never lost sight of her primary goal—to win recognition of her marriage

Ruth Hull Chatlien:

About this author edit data
Ruth Hull Chatlien has been a writer and editor of educational materials for twenty-five years. Her specialty is U.S. and world history. She is the author of Modern American Indian Leaders and has published several short stories and poems in literary magazines. The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte is her first published novel.

She lives in northeastern Illinois with her husband, Michael, and a very pampered dog named Smokey. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found gardening, knitting, drawing, painting, or watching football.

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