Science News This Week:
1) New frog species discovered in New York City:
Atlantic Coast leopard frog’s habitat covers hundreds of miles. A new frog species, discovered in New York City six years ago, has been found in many spots along the East Coast, from Connecticut to North Carolina.
The Atlantic Coast leopard frog (Rana kauffeldi) was first identified on Staten Island when ecologists realized that its call was distinct from that of a lookalike, the southern leopard frog (Rana sphenocephala). The Atlantic Coast species croaks in a single burst of sound, while the southern leopard frog calls with multiple pulses.
Researchers have now collected recordings of calls and tissue samples from leopard frogs along the East Coast to define the range of the new species. They found the Atlantic Coast leopard frog in coastal freshwater wetlands and low-lying river floodplains along a wide swath of the coast. The new frog’s range is described October 29 in PLOS ONE.
“We can still find new species not only in the rainforest or in remote areas of the world, but in places that are very familiar,” says coauthor Jeremy Feinberg, an ecologist at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J. “Your backyard might just have a surprise.”
2) Mini stomachs grown in lab:
Clumps of gastric cells could help researchers study disease. Itty-bitty seeds of human stomachs can now bud in plastic dishes.
By bathing stem cells in a brew of growth-boosting chemicals, scientists have kick-started the construction of crude organs about as big as the head of a pin. These primitive balls of gastric tissue — the first to be cooked up in the lab — resemble the stomachs of developing fetuses. The lab-grown bellies represent the latest in a line of do-it-yourself organlike cell clumps, including livers, brains and guts .
Three years after figuring out how to transform stem cells into human intestinal tissue, and more recently, how to make that tissue grow in mice developmental biologist James Wells of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and colleagues have monkeyed with their method to make 3-D stomachlike organs.
Like human stomachs, the lab-grown globs contain both mucus-making and hormone-pumping cells. The tissue also mimics a stomach’s response to infection with Helicobacter pylori. The ulcer-causing bacteria cue the globs to switch on the same molecular signals that real stomach cells use, Wells and his team report October 29 in Nature.
The mini stomachs hand researchers a new tool for studying gastric human disease, including cancer, the researchers suggest.
3) First detailed picture of cancer-related cell enzyme in action on chromosome unit:
A Landmark study to be published in the October 30, 2014 print edition of the journal Nature provides new insight into the function of an enzyme related to the BRCA1 breast cancer protein. The study by a team at Penn State University is the first to produce a detailed working image of an enzyme in the Polycomb Repressive Complex 1 (PRC1) -- a group that regulates cell development and is associated with many types of cancer.
Enzymes like PRC1 turn on or turn off the activity of genes in a cell by manipulating individual chromosome units called nucleosomes. "The nucleosome is a key target of the enzymes that conduct genetic processes critical for life," said Song Tan, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State University and the leader of the study's research team.
The Penn State scientists obtained the first crystal structure of a gene regulation enzyme while it is working on a nucleosome. The image reveals previously unknown information about how the enzyme attaches to its nucleosome target. Before this study, scientists had been unable to picture exactly how cancer-related enzymes in the PRC1 group interacted with a nucleosome to control gene activity. The study is also the first to determine the crystal structure of a multisubunit protein complex bound to a nucleosome, which itself is a complex assembly of DNA and 4 histone proteins.
The research is the culmination of over 12 years of research by the Tan laboratory to capture an image of this important class of enzymes bound to the nucleosome. His lab earlier had determined the first structure of another nucleosome-bound protein, RCC1. "This is the second important structure from the Tan lab to date of a nucleosome in complex with a protein known to interact with and modify chromatin behavior, which in turn can influence human gene expression," said Peter Preusch, Ph.D., of the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which partially funded the research. "Along with Dr. Tan's previous work detailing a nucleosome bound to the key regulatory protein, RCC1, this new structure adds to our knowledge of how proteins can regulate the structure and function of our genetic material."
The research project was proposed and executed by team member Robert K. McGinty, a Damon Runyon postdoctoral fellow at Penn State. McGinty and Ryan C. Henrici, an undergraduate in the Penn State Schreyer Honors College, grew crystals of the PRC1 enzyme bound to the nucleosome. The team then solved the three-dimensional structure of this large molecular assembly by X-ray crystallography. "We are excited about this crystal structure because it provides new paradigms for understanding how chromatin enzymes function," McGinty said.The study performed in the Penn State Center for Eukaryotic Gene Regulation provides unexpected insight into the workings of the BRCA1 breast-cancer-associated tumor-suppressor protein. Like PRC1, BRCA1 is a chromatin enzyme that shares a similar activity on the nucleosome. Tan said, "Our study suggests that BRCA1 and PRC1 employ a similar mechanism to anchor to the nucleosome." Tan and his team now are working to visualize how BRCA1 and other disease-related chromatin enzymes interact with the nucleosome.
4) Harmless bacterium edges out intestinal germ:
Clostridium scindens inhibits closely related microbe C. difficile. Gut infections from the bacterium Clostridium difficile can be fought with a closely related but harmless microbe known as C. scindens. The friendly bacterium combats infection in mice by converting molecules produced in the liver into forms that inhibit C. difficile growth, researchers report October 22 in Nature.
C. scindens also appears to protect people from infection, the researchers found in a preliminary study in humans.
The new findings could begin a path to the next generation of therapies using gut bacteria, says Alexander Khoruts, a gastroenterologist at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.People who become infected with C. difficile typically have taken antibiotics, which wipe out the beneficial microbes in the gut, giving C. difficile a chance to take root. The infection can lead to cramps, diarrhea and even death. An estimated 500,000 to 1 million people get C. difficile infections each year in the United States. People with C. difficile receive more antibiotics to treat the infection or a fecal transplant to restore healthy microbes to the gut.
Several research groups have been trying to identify gut bacteria that are resilient in the face of C. difficile so that physicians can give patients those bacteria as a treatment, says Eric Pamer, an immunologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Single strains of bacteria such as C. scindens would offer significant advantages over fecal transplants: With a transplant, doctors screen the donated feces for pathogens that might sicken the recipient. But, Pamer says, “there are many things, viruses that have yet to be identified, that could be in a crude fecal product that might cause trouble.” Pamer and his team gave mice antibiotics to deplete beneficial microbes but not wipe them out completely. The researchers then fed the mice C. difficile spores and identified microbes that appeared in mice with lower amounts of C. difficile in their guts. C. scindens was the clear victor. It is harmless and present in most people, but in very low numbers.
The researchers then grew C. scindens and fed the bacteria to mice before exposing them to C. difficile. Compared with mice that received no microbes, the C. scindens-fed mice ended up with lower amounts of C. difficile in their guts, lost less weight and were less likely to die.The researchers also examined the microbial populations of 24 patients undergoing stem cell transplants. Those patients had lowered microbial diversity after receiving combinations of antibiotics, radiation and chemotherapy. The patients who didn’t develop C. difficile after the transplant were more likely to have C. scindens in their guts.
“This is a pretty big leap forward in figuring out why people are resistant or sensitive to infection,” says Joseph Sorg, a microbiologist at Texas A&M University in College Station.The researchers also investigated how C. scindens combats C. difficile.C. difficile begins growing after it is exposed to certain molecules secreted in bile after a meal. However, another form of the molecule inhibits C. difficile growth. C. scindens transforms the molecule from one form to the other, boosting resistance to C. difficile. Eventually, the researchers plan to see if C. scindens combats C. difficile in human studies. The bacteria could bolster patients’ resistance to C. difficile before the infection takes hold.
5) Scripps Research Institute scientists make enzyme that could help explain origins of life:
Mimicking natural evolution in a test tube, scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have devised an enzyme with a unique property that might have been crucial to the origin of life on Earth. Aside from illuminating one possible path for life's beginnings, the achievement is likely to yield a powerful tool for evolving new and useful molecules.
"When I start to tell people about this, they sometimes wonder if we're merely suggesting the possibility of such an enzyme -- but no, we actually made it," said Gerald F. Joyce, professor in TSRI's Departments of Chemistry and Cell and Molecular Biology and director of the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation.Joyce was the senior author of the new report, which was published online ahead of print by the journal Nature on October 29, 2014.
The Challenge of Making Copies
The new enzyme is called a ribozyme because it is made from ribonucleic acid (RNA). Modern DNA-based life forms appear to have evolved from a simpler "RNA world," and many scientists suspect that RNA molecules with enzymatic properties were Earth's first self-replicators.
The new ribozyme works essentially in that way. It helps knit together a "copy" strand of RNA, using an original RNA strand as a reference or "template." However, it doesn't make a copy of a molecule completely identical to itself. Instead it makes a copy of a mirror image of itself -- like the left hand to its right -- and, in turn, that "left-hand" ribozyme can help make copies of the original.
No one has ever made such "cross-chiral" enzymes before. The emergence of such enzymes in a primordial RNA world -- which the new study shows was plausible -- could have overcome a key obstacle to the origin of life.Biology on Earth evolved in such a way that in each class of molecules, one chirality, or handedness, came to predominate. Virtually all RNA, for example, are right-handed and called D-RNA. That structural sameness makes interactions within that class more efficient -- just as a handshake is more efficient when it joins two right or two left hands, rather than a left and a right."Scientists generally are taught to think that there has to be a common chirality among interacting molecules for biology to work," said Joyce.
It seems likely, however, that simple RNA molecules on the primordial Earth would have consisted of mixes of both right- and left-handed forms. Despite this reasoning, 30 years ago Joyce, then a graduate student, published a paper in Nature showing that self-replicators would have had a tough time evolving in such a mix. Any strand of RNA that gathered stray nucleotides onto itself would eventually have incorporated an RNA nucleotide of the opposite handedness -- which would have blocked further assembly of that copy."Since then we've all been wondering how RNA replication could have started on the primitive Earth," Joyce said.
A Looser Grip
One theory has been that a right-handed RNA enzyme emerged with the capacity to make copies of other right-handed RNA molecules, including itself, while ignoring left-handed L-RNA. Joyce and others have created such ribozymes in the laboratory and have found that RNA's propensity to form sticky base pairs with other RNA -- which is a useful property for its various cellular functions -- hampers its ability to work as a copier of other RNA molecules. In essence, these RNA-copying ribozymes work well with some RNA sequences but not all.
A general-purpose RNA replication enzyme would have less of a grip on the RNA it handles. "That's how later-evolved protein enzymes that replicate RNA and DNA work -- they're not nucleic acids so they can't form base-pairs with the nucleic acids they're copying," said Joyce.But how could an RNA enzyme have worked like that, in a primordial world limited to RNA?Perhaps only if it worked on opposite-handed RNA, with which it is chemically prohibited from forming consecutive base pairs. "We started thinking: it feels a little weird but you can shake the wrong hand of somebody else," Joyce said.
Test Tube Evolution
No one had ever made or even tried to make a ribozyme that worked cross-chirally, on opposite-handed RNA. But in the new study, Joyce laboratory postdoctoral fellow Jonathan T. Sczepanski used a technique called "test-tube evolution" to come up with one.He started with a soup of about a quadrillion (1015) short RNA molecules. Their sequences were essentially random, and all were of right-handed chirality. "We set it up so that the molecules that could catalyze a joining reaction with left-handed RNA could be pulled out of solution and then amplified," Sczepanski said.
After just 10 of these selection-and-amplification rounds, the researchers had a strong candidate ribozyme. They then expanded the size of its core region, put it through six more selection rounds and trimmed the extraneous nucleotides. The result: an 83-nucleotide ribozyme that was only moderately sequence-specific and could reliably knit a test segment of left-handed RNA to a template -- about a million times faster than would have happened without enzyme assistance.
The team also showed that the new ribozyme could work without hindrance even when same-handed RNA nucleotides were present. In a last test, the new ribozyme successfully catalyzed the assembly of 11 segments of RNA to make a complete copy of its left-handed counterpart ribozyme, which in turn was able to join segments of right-handed RNA.
The researchers are now working to put the right-handed ribozyme (and by implication its left-handed partner) through more selection rounds, so that it can mediate the full replication of RNA, with essentially no sequence-dependence. That would make it a true general-purpose RNA-replication enzyme, capable in principle of turning a primordial nucleotide soup into a vast biosphere."Ultimately what one wants is to turn it loose -- in the lab, of course, not in the wild -- to let it start replicating and evolving and seeing what results," Joyce said.
Movies Release This Week:
A thriller set in the nocturnal underbelly of contemporary Los Angeles. Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Lou Bloom, a driven young man desperate for work who discovers the high-speed world of L.A. crime journalism. Finding a group of freelance camera crews who film crashes, fires, murder and other mayhem, Lou muscles into the cut-throat, dangerous realm of nightcrawling - where each police siren wail equals a possible windfall and victims are converted into dollars and cents. Aided by Rene Russo as Nina, a veteran of the blood-sport that is local TV news, Lou blurs the line between observer and participant to become the star of his own story.
“Horns,” a supernatural thriller driven by fantasy, mystery and romance, follows Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe), the number one suspect for the violent rape and murder of his girlfriend, Merrin (Juno Temple). Hungover from a night of hard drinking, Ig awakens one morning to find horns starting to grow from his own head and soon realizes their power drives people to confess their sins and give in to their most selfish and unspeakable impulses – an effective tool in his quest to discover the true circumstances of his late girlfriend’s tragedy and for exacting revenge on her killer.
Starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth & Mark Strong, Before I Go To Sleep is a psychological thriller based on the worldwide best-selling novel about a woman who wakes up every day remembering nothing – the result of a traumatic accident in her past – until one day, new terrifying truths emerge that force her to question everyone around her...
When Ricky Miller, a single, quiet 40-year old aspiring writer and manager of Debbie's (think Denny's) and probably the last person you'd notice in a crowd is 'hit by lightning' and meets the love of his life, the beautiful Danita on E-Happily.com, he is catapulted into a relationship online but it's a lot more than what he bargained for - this includes being asked to kill! Hounded by his best friend Seth who thinks no "10" would even go out with a guy like Ricky unless she had ulterior motives (or needed glasses), Ricky starts to get skeptical himself. Turns out, Danita confesses she's actually married to a handsome affable crime novelist and former Rabbi, Ben Jacobs. Is Danita telling Ricky the truth when she says wants to leave her husband but fears for her life if she does? Will Ricky go through with the plan to kill him so he and Danita can live happily ever after?
The film revolves around 6 'losers'; Charlie (Shah Rukh Khan), Mohini (Deepika Padukone), Nandu (Abhishek Bachchan), Tammy (Boman Irani), Jag (Sonu Sood), Rohan (Vivaan Shah) and their hunt for revenge and respect.
Charlie is a street fighter who longs for revenge for his father who was framed as a thief by Charan Grover (Jackie Shroff). He makes a mastermind plan to steal the Shalimar Diamonds from Grover and to frame him just like he had done to his father, Manohar Sharma (Anupam Kher). However, in order to do this he needs to make a team. First he finds his childhood friend Jag, a former bomb disposal squad Captain. Then he finds a safe cracker, Tammy, his father's best friend and a hacker, Rohan, Jag's nephew. When they realise that they need to have the finger prints of Charan's son, Vikki (Abhishek Bachchan), Charlie finds Nandu, a look alike of Vikki. They start planning how to steal the diamonds.Now they only have one problem, they have to take part in World Dance Championship. As hard as they try, they can't dance. So they find a bar dancer, Mohini (Deepika Padukone) to teach them how to dance with out telling her their plan. After a lot of rehearsals and cheating, Team Diamonds become Team India in WDC. During this time period, Charlie and Mohini start falling in love with each other.
When they arrive at Dubai, everyone dislikes them including Grover. However they rehearse and become semi finalists. Their plan was to steal the diamonds after dancing in the semi final, but they have to change their plan as the diamonds are reaching on New Year's Eve instead of Christmas. Unexpectedly, they are chosen as finalists as Charlie had saved a young boy's life from the rivals team and left his own performance.
Things take a turn when Mohini over hears Charlie going through the plan. Just as she is about to leave, Charlie stops her and explains why they had to do this. He also reveals that his father isn't in jail but committed suicide. This leaves Mohini emotional and she decides to help the other five. On the night of the finals, everything goes as planned and they manage to steal the diamonds after a couple of complications. However, Mohini realises that everyone is waiting for them to perform and decides to stay as their country would be let down. Rohan decides to help Mohini. Suddenly, Tammy realises that Mohini is right and he, Nandu and Jag decide to go to perform leaving Charlie alone.During the performance, Charlie makes an unexpected entry and the team perform extremely well. When Grover realises that the diamonds are missing he instantly blames Team India but as the whole team are dancing, he is arrested just like planned. Team India are declared winners of World Dance Championship - 2014. Just as the police are taking Grover away, Charlie reveals who he actually is to Charan and manages to find justice for his father. The film ends with Mohini opening her dance school and Charlie proposing to her with a ring made of a Shalimar diamond and the team becoming 'winners' from 'losers'.
Political News This Week:
1) Black money case: List of 627 foreign account holders given to SC:
The Centre on Wednesday placed a list of names of 627 Indian account holders in HSBC bank, Geneva in the black money case before the Supreme Court which asked a Special Investigation Team to go through the list and take appropriate action in accordance with law.A bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu did not open the sealed envelope containing the names placed by the Centre and said that it would be opened only by chairman and the vice chairman of the Supreme Court-appointed SIT. It asked the SIT to submit status report of its probe by November end.
Placing the documents before the bench, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said that details of account holders are of year 2006 which were supplied by the French government to the Centre in 2011. He said that the data was stolen from HSBC bank in Geneva which later reached France from where the government got the information. He said the sealed envelope contained three documents -- government's correspondence with the French government, list of names and a status report. He also informed the court that some people have accepted that they have accounts in foreign banks and have paid tax.
The bench, also comprising Justices Ranjana Prakash Desai and Madan B Lokur allowed the Centre to put forth its grievances regarding various treaties with foreign countries before SIT.The bench said that the chairman and the vice chairman of SIT are former Supreme Court judges and they are not "layman" and they can decide on various issues arising out of black money probe. "We will send the entire list to SIT and they can proceed in accordance with law. It is for them to take care of how to conduct further probe," the bench said.
Meanwhile, the apex court did not allow the plea of Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal to provide additional information on the issue to the SIT, saying that it will consider his plea on next date of hearing on December 3.The Centre in its affidavit on October 27, had disclosed eight names including that of Pradip Burman, one of Dabur India promoters, a bullion trader and Goa miners against whom it has started prosecution for allegedly stashing black money, saying that all the names of account holders cannot be disclosed unless there is a "prima facie" evidence of wrongdoing.Rejecting the Centre's stand, the Supreme Court had on Monday ordered it to disclose all the names of Indian bank account holders abroad in a sealed envelope.
Rajkot-based bullion trader Pankaj Chimanlal Lodhya and Goa-based mining company Timblo Private Limited and its five directors were among the names that figured in the list which was filed in the apex court by the government."The government is committed to disclose names of persons holding illegal money abroad. However, every account held by an Indian in a foreign country may not be illegal and the fundamental right of citizens to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution cannot be ignored and has been recognised by this court," it had said.
It had urged the apex court to modify its earlier order directing it to reveal even the names of foreign bank account holders against whom no evidence was found for stashing black money saying the government may have problems entering into tax agreements with other countries."There is absolutely no intention on the part of the government to withhold information, including names of persons who have stashed black money abroad, but only to seek certain clarification that will enable the government to enter into agreements with other countries under which information relating to unaccounted money lying abroad can be obtained," it had said.
"The information received under these tax treaties and agreements will be disclosed after following the due process of law, in all cases where evasion of tax is established. The intention of the present government is clear and unambiguous.”"The government is keen to unearth black money held abroad and for that purpose it will use all diplomatic and legal means and also all investigating agencies to obtain information that can assist in such unearthing," the affidavit had said.
2) Who is this 'Yashpal Kapoor' on the Swiss bank accounts list?:
Sunday, October 26, 2014, that the HSBC Bank list of Indians allegedly holding Swiss bank accounts has names matching two Congress leaders -- 'Preneet Kaur' and one of former Maharashtra chief minister Narayan Rane's sons.
Preneet Kaur, the former Union minister of state for external affairs, has since declared that she does not hold any bank account abroad.This correspondent has now learnt that another name on the list matches the name of a late Congress leader, 'Yashpal Kapoor.'
The late Yashpal Kapoor was one of then prime minister Indira Gandhi's closest aides. He was also her election agent in Rae Bareli, her Lok Sabha constituency, and was linked to the election malpractices case that led to Indira Gandhi's disqualification as an MP by the Allahabad high court on June 12, 1975.
Thirteen days later, on June 25, 1975, Indira Gandhi declared a State of Emergency in the country.Yashpal Kapoor -- whose nephew R K Dhawan was Indira Gandhi's private secretary for many years -- was also chairman of the National Herald newspaper
3) Kejriwal attacks govt on 'selective approach' in black money case:
Stepping up the attack on the government on the black money issue, Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday accused it of adopting a “selective” approach in punishing the guilty and said he will try to meet the Special Investigative Team probing the high-profile case to share some details.Demanding a thorough and time-bound investigation, he said the ruling dispensation should give a free hand to the probe agencies so that all those who have stashed money abroad illegally face action.“We will ask for time from SIT and we will give our suggestions and also give the names. We will request that the investigation be done in a time-bound manner and strictest action be taken because my information is that action is being taken against those whose names are there in that list in a selective manner,” Kejriwal said.He alleged that the government was “letting go some people without any punishment while some are being made to pay the tax and some people are being raided. This should not happen”.
“If you are conducting raids, then raid all and record statements of all persons involved. We all should rise above party lines and cooperate with the SIT,” he said.The former Delhi chief minister also said that government agencies should do their duties and conduct thorough probe in the casesComplying with Supreme Court’s directions, the Centre on Wednesday gave to the apex court a list of 627 Indians who have accounts in HSBC bank, Geneva, in which tax probe for suspected black money has to be completed by next March.
4) 1st BJP govt in Maha to be sworn-in on Friday, Sena presence unlikely:
The first Bharatiya Janata Party government in Maharashtra headed by state party chief Devendra Fadnavis will be sworn in on Friday with Shiv Sena unlikely to join the new dispensation for now as talks continued between the two saffron parties for a tie-up.Fadnavis, 44, a four-term MLA from Nagpur, will be administered the oath of office by Governor C Vidyasagar Rao at Wankhede Stadium in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, several of his Cabinet colleagues, chief ministers of BJP-ruled states, corporate leaders, Bollywood stars and other celebrities.A small Cabinet of around ten ministers including state BJP Core Committee members Eknath Khadse, Sudhir Mungantiwar, Vinod Tawde and Pankaja Munde besides MLAs from Schedule Castes and Scheduled tribes is also likley to be sworn in.
"A slim and trim government will take oath tomorrow," a BJP leader said.As talks with former ally Shiv Sena for a possible tie-up are still going on, no minister from that party was likely to be inducted on Friday."It seems unlikely that any Shiv Sena minister will be sworn in tomorrow. Talks with Sena are on in an amicable atmosphere for a possible tie-up in Maharashtra but there has been no outcome yet," BJP General Secretary Rajiv Pratap Rudy.
Maintaining that BJP was looking forward to a decision soon, he said, "This may not happen tomorrow."BJP had emerged as the single largest party in the 288-member state Assembly with 122 seats but one of its MLAs Govind Rathod died.Though technically it will be a minority government until Sena joins it, declared support from 41-member NCP will act as a hedge for the BJP dispensation. It also has the support of several Independent MLAs and those from some smaller parties.Meanwhile, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray is likely to hold discussions with senior leaders again on Thursday evening and announce the party's stand on joining the government.Sena MP and spokesman Sanjay Raut said "positive talks" were on between the two parties and extended best wishes to Fadnavis and his team.
"A new government led by Devendra Fadnavis is being formed. Like always, we wish him well. He is a capable, young leader with clean image. We want him to get the opportunity to take Maharashtra forward," Raut said.He, however, went on to add that people's mandate was not for any single party.
5) High drama in WB's Birbhum after BJP leaders arrested for defying orders:
Amid high drama, Bharatiya Janata Party vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi was on Thursday arrested along with party leaders for defying prohibitory orders when they tried to enter trouble-torn Makra village in Birbhum district, made out of bounds for politicians by Trinamool government.An incensed BJP accused the Trinamool Congress government of trying to “gag the opposition with brute force” and cover up the incidents in Makra where three persons were killed in a political clash on Monday.Police said the BJP leaders were arrested when they tried to enter the village in violation of the prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.Other prominent BJP leaders arrested included its state president Rahul Sinha and party MPs Kirti Azad and Udit Raj. The MPs were part of the three-member central team led by Naqvi sent to the village by the party to look into the violence.
Naqvi and other BJP leaders were involved in a spat with the police, which stopped them, and demanded that they be allowed to visit the village.Later they were arrested when they tried to enter the village. A scuffle ensued as the BJP workers tried to break police barricades.Naqvi claimed that he suffered injury when the police personnel dragged him into the van.Slamming the police action, Naqvi said, “It is a murder of democracy. The TMC government is trying to hide what happened in Makra village. It is a shame.”
“The TMC government is gagging the opposition voice using brute force,” the BJP leader said. “Instead of using its energy to stop opposition parties, if the TMC government spent 10 per cent of it towards curbing anti-national forces working in the state, it would have been great for the country and the state,” he said. Before the departure of the BJP central team, a message sent from the state home department to the BJP office in Kolkata said that prohibitory orders were in force in the village and certain surrounding areas in Birbhum district. So they should plan their visit accordingly.However, Naqvi continued with their visit saying he was not afraid of being arrested
Calling upon the state government to deal firmly with anti-national activities, Naqvi alleged that “Trinamool Congress government is synonymous with terrorists and mafia and they are letting the anti-national forces to use the land of Bengal for terrorist activities”.When asked about media reports claiming that the terror module unearthed in Bengal was planning to assassinate Bangladesh premier Sheikh Hasina and opposition leader Khaleda Zia, Naqvi said “these reports are not only of national concern but also have implications on diplomatic ties”.
6) 5 Indian fishermen sentenced to death by Lankan court:
Five Indian fishermen were given the death penalty by a Sri Lankan court on Thursday for alleged drug trafficking, invoking a sharp reaction from India which took up the matter with Sri Lanka and said it would appeal to a higher court against the judgment within 14 days.The five Indians are among a group of eight people sentenced to death by Colombo high court judge Preethi Padman Surasena for alleged involvement in heroin trafficking between India and Sri Lanka in 2011. The rest three are Sri Lankans.
However, the Indian government, which has been pursuing their case for the last four years, maintains that it has done due diligence and found them to be innocent.Immediately reacting to the Sri Lankan court verdict, external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin in New Delhi said, “After the judgment against five fishermen by a lower court in Sri Lanka, India once again takes up matter of their innocence with Sri Lanka and India’s high commission in Colombo will appeal to higher court through a lawyer against the verdict.”While a senior MEA official spoke to the Sri Lankan high commissioner to India in New Delhi, the Indian high commissioner in Colombo was getting in touch with the Sri Lankan government regarding the case.The spokesperson further said that India has been pursuing the case at two levels - legal and official - and will continue doing so.“India-Sri Lanka are in constant touch in aftermath of the judgment against the Indian fishermen,” he added.
The five fishermen, all hailing from Tamil Nadu, were apprehended in 2011 by the Sri Lankan Navy on charges of smuggling of drugs in the seas off northern Jaffna’s Delft islet.The issue of fishermen is a very emotive matter for both Sri Lanka and India, where Tamil Nadu-based parties including All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam have been regularly pressing the Centre to take up the matter with the Lankan authorities seriously and have often resented high-profile visits from the island nation.Sri Lanka has been alleging that Indian fishermen regularly stray into its waters depriving local fishermen of their livelihood.The two countries are separated by the narrow Palk Strait which is also a rich fishing ground.Later, the MEA spokesperson in New Delhi further said the case of the five Indian fishermen - Emerson, P Augustus, R Wilson, K Prasath and J Langlet, who were apprehended on November 28, 2011, by the Sri Lankan Navy on charges of narcotics smuggling, have always maintained their innocence.
The Indian government through the high commission of India, Colombo and the consulate general of India, Jaffna has been extending all possible consular assistance to them, he said.“Government of India is fully committed to continue providing all assistance to the Indian fishermen. The lawyers of the Indian fishermen will file an appeal to the next court of appeal within the prescribed 14 days,” the spokesperson said.
7) Rs 5 lakh each compensation to kin of 1984 anti-Sikh riot victims:
The government has decided to give Rs five lakh each to the next of kin of victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots triggered after assassination of the then prime minister Indira Gandhi.The compensation to the families of the riot victims will be given in addition to what they have so far received from the government and other agencies, a senior government official said.
Of the 3,325 victims, 2,733 were killed in Delhi alone while rest of the victims were from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and other states.The Narendra Modi government had received several petitions from various Sikh organisations in last three months and the decision came on the eve of 30th death anniversary of Indira Gandhi.
The fresh compensation, which will cost exchequer Rs 166 crore, will be disbursed "as early as possible" and hopefully in the next few weeks, the official said.The anti-Sikhs riots were triggered following the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984.In 2006, the UPA government led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had announced a package of Rs 717 crore which included monetary compensation of Rs 3.5 lakh to each killed in the riots besides financial assistance to the injured and those who had lost their property.Out of this only Rs 517 crore had been spent and the remaining Rs 200 crore could not be distributed because of dispute over claimants.The most affected regions were the Sikh neighbourhoods in Delhi.Some of the anti-Sikh riot cases are still continuing in courts and many Sikh organisations have alleged that the key conspirators of the violence were at large and victims have not yet got justice.
In 2005, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had apologised for the 1984 anti-Sikh violence saying Gandhi's assassination was a "great national tragedy" and what happened subsequently was "equally shameful".
"I have no hesitation in apologising to the Sikh community. I apologise not only to the Sikh community, but to the whole Indian nation because what took place in 1984 is the negation of the concept of nationhood enshrined in our Constitution," he said.
During an interview, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi had admitted that some Congress members were probably involved in the 1984 riots, in which innocent people had died."Some Congressmen were probably involved...There is a legal process through which they have gone through...Some Congressmen have been punished for it," he had said.Supreme Court lawyer H S Phoolka, who has been fighting anti-Sikh riot cases, welcomed the decision of the government.The Delhi unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party, while welcoming the decision, urged the Centre to get 237 cases related to 1984 anti-Sikh riots reopened for investigation.In a letter written to the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, BJP MLA and party national secretary R P Singh said, “The Sikh community has been demanding a special investigation of those 237 cases which were pointed out in the report of Justice Nanawati Committee for having been suppressed and later on closed by the Delhi Police without being referred to any Court."
Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay said that while various governments announced a compensation amount of 770 crore rupees for the victims of 1984 anti-Sikh riots the payment of about 182 crores is still pending."Police had registered a case against a Congress party leader and others which was withdrawn later in 1991 under political pressure when Congress came back to power," Singh said in the letter.
Sports News This Week:
1) Indian Super League: At home, Delhi Dynamos feel the away blues:
What was supposed to be a home match for Delhi Dynamos turned out to be more of an away fixture. Up against NorthEast United FC in their fourth round encounter of the Indian Super League, Delhi were outnumbered in the stands, with the majority of support going the other way.It might have come as strange for the Delhi players, who were at the receiving end of boos and catcalls. Hans Mulder, Delhi’s utility player wondered as much after the match. Agreed the match ended goalless, but still they didn’t deserve it.After all they were coming on the back of a 4-1 win against Chennaiyin FC at the same Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, which on Wednesday seemed more like the Indira Gandhi Stadium in Guwahati, the home of NorthEast United.
Each NorthEast United move would be greeted with phenomenal lung power and amid loud clapping, whistling and drumming, ‘Go United’ chants would go round the stadium like Mexican wave.
The hosts looked clearly rattled in the first 10 minutes of each half as the visitors pressed and pressed hard. But the absence of Spanish World Cup winner Joan Capdevila and Koke, who have scored two goals for NorthEast United – both due to injuries – meant they could not sustain that pressure. What they lacked in creativity, they tried to offset with hard work, but against a Delhi side which was solid at the back, all the running proved fruitless.Delhi were defending resolutely, putting everything on the line as they saw out the threats. It was then Delhi’s turn to get things moving. Within the space of five minutes, Alessandro Del Piero showed his class. First a gentle body feint was followed by a rasping left-footer that went wide.
Then he slid in a pass for Mads Junker who blew it away from inside the box. Sadly, that remained the only time Delhi managed to have sent someone clear, for the rest of the first half Ricki Herbert’s side kept them at arms length, the visitors restricting Delhi in taking potshots from outside the box.Despite repeated attempts, Delhi couldn’t get much of a look into goal. Efforts to breach the defence would often get nipped in the bud with Kondwani Mtonga putting up a solid display in front of defence. A similar work was being done on the other side by Mulder and Bruno Herrero, both doing the spade work, running tirelessly and mopping up the loose balls in the midfield.In fact the enterprising Mulder could have had the last laugh, going close twice in the 86th and 90th minutes, both times goalkeeper TP Rehenesh coming to the rescue. The Kerala goalkeeper would come into the picture late in the first half as well, diving to his right to stop a Del Piero freekick. The Italian World Cup winner tried his best. At times he would sell
2) Real Madrid hand 4-1 thrashing to Cornella in King’s Cup:
Raphael Varane converted two corners as a second-string Real Madrid began the defence of their King’s Cup crown with a 4-1 victory against third-tier part-timers Cornella on Wednesday.The last-32, first leg pitted the world’s richest club by income, with annual revenues of more than 600 million euros ($758 million), against a club with a budget of around 1 million euros a season, who were promoted to Spain’s regional Segunda B for the first time at the end of last term.
Despite the glaring mismatch, Barcelona-based Cornella, whose players include a dentist and a school teacher, were not overawed by the occasion and after Varane nodded Real in front from a James Rodriguez corner in the 10th minute, burly striker Oscar Munoz levelled in the 20th with a fierce strike.France centre back Varane made it 2-1 from Isco’s corner in the 36th minute and Javier Hernandez struck eight minutes into the second half before substitute Marcelo rifled home the rebound from an Isco effort 15 minutes from time.“It was important to get a good win in this first leg,” Hernandez said in an interview with Spanish television broadcaster Canal Plus.
“With all our opponents the coach asks us to be professional and we treated this game in exactly the same way as we would a ‘Clasico’ (against Barcelona),” added the Mexican, who is on loan at Real from Manchester United.Cornella play their home games at the club’s modest 1,500-capacity stadium but Wednesday’s match was played at Espanyol’s 41,000-seater arena next door.The stadium was at least half full, with plenty of Barcelona-based Real fans turning out to see their team despite the absence of regulars like Cristiano Ronaldo, the injured Gareth Bale and Iker Casillas.Spanish media reported the Cornella players have been promised a bonus of around 1,400 euros if they achieve the feat of eliminating Real, less than Ronaldo earns in a single hour.“We had to make the most of the fact that we were playing in front of so many people for the first time,” Munoz told Canal Plus.“I was very pleased with the goal but in the end their quality counted and we let in four,” he added.
Real are on course to meet city rivals Atletico Madrid in the last 16, with Barca the probable opponents in the quarter-finals.
All but two of the last-32, first legs take place at the beginning of December, but Real’s has been brought forward because of the European champions’ participation in the Club World Cup in mid-December.Due to the disruption to the La Liga calendar caused by the tournament in Morocco, Sevilla have also had their first leg brought forward and play at second-division Sabadell later on Wednesday.The return legs are at the beginning of December, when the Cornella players will fulfill their dream of playing in one of the world’s great soccer venues, Real’s Bernabeu stadium.
3) Sachin Tendulkar inducted into Bradman Hall of Fame :
Sachin Tendulkar added another feather to his cap on Wednesday when the Indian batting legend was inducted as one of the latest honourees in the Bradman Foundation.At a gala dinner held at the historic Sydney Cricket Ground, former Australian captain Steve Waugh was the other cricketer to enter the Bradman Hall of Fame alongside Tendulkar.Tendulkar’s appearance at the annual Bradman Foundation dinner is fitting as the late Aussie great once famously said that the Indian’s technique reminded him of his own.Tendulkar, who had the honour of meeting Bradman on his 90th birthday at his Adelaide home, was later listed in an all-time XI prepared by the batting genius himself.
Recalling the meeting that took place in 1998 at Bradman’s Adelaide’s home, Tendulkar said both he and the other invitee, Shane Warne, were so daunted they couldn’t decide who should speak first to the legendary Aussie batsman.
“I remember Warnie was with me in the car and we were discussing who was going to ask the first question,” Tendulkar told reporters in Sydney.“I said, ‘You are from Australia, so you should start’. And he was like, ‘No, you’re a batsman, so you can relate to him much better than what I can’,” he added.Tendulkar, 41, enjoyed a good run at the SCG during his illustrious 24-year-long career, scoring three centuries in five Tests.“The SCG is my favourite ground. I have always maintained that. It brings back all the memories,” Tendulkar said as he spoke publicly in Australia for the first time in six years.
“I was just outside in the car and I said it feels great to be back. It’s been a very social venue to me. Right back from 1991, which was the first time I played here.”His unbeaten 241 not out in the 2003-04 series against the Aussies is widely regarded as one of the finest innings seen at the venue.“(It’s) just the feel of the ground. Whenever I walked in I felt I could go on and on batting. I just enjoyed the atmosphere, and the pavilion especially. It’s a fabulous pavilion with a lot of history. It is the heritage and the impact all the players have left on this ground.
“Performing against Australia always gave me a lot of satisfaction because I knew if you perform against the leading side then everyone takes notice of your performance. It is a different kind of satisfaction.”Tendulkar said there was a strong mutual admiration between him and Bradman when they met 16 summers ago.“One thing was just to be able to meet the great man but also to know the funnier side of him.“I asked him a question: ‘what would you have averaged in today’s cricket?’ He thought about it and said ‘Maybe 70′. The natural reaction was ‘why only 70 and not 99?’ He said, ‘C’mon, that’s not
4) Liverpool, Chelsea made to sweat in League Cup:
Mario Balotelli enjoyed a rare moment of ecstasy in a Liverpool shirt by inspiring a 2-1 win over Swansea City in the League Cup on Tuesday while Chelsea had to call for reinforcements to see off Shrewsbury Town.
On a night when West Bromwich Albion were dumped out by second tier Bournemouth, both Liverpool and Chelsea flirted with danger before reaching the quarter-finals.Liverpool fans have seen precious little in Balotelli’s performances this season to convince them he could ride to the rescue when the chips were down but he came off the bench to turn the clash with Swansea on its head.Entering the fray on 79 minutes, the Italian took seven minutes to level the scores as he stole in front of his marker to prod home a cross from compatriot Fabio Borini after Marvin Emnes had put Swansea ahead midway through the second half with a superb volley.
A sustained roar erupted around Anfield as Balotelli’s effort found the net, as much in celebration of the goal as it was grounded in relief that the misfiring striker had finally found his range at a crucial time.It was the start of a dramatic finale that saw Swansea’s Federico Fernandez sent off for a late tackle and Dejan Lovren head home the winner after four minutes of stoppage time, to leave eight-times winners Liverpool well-placed to launch another assault on a trophy they last won in 2012.
Premier League leaders Chelsea needed a wake-up call before ousting fourth tier Shrewsbury 2-1. Didier Drogba gave them the lead, with his third goal in three games, but the match seemed headed for extra-time when Shrewsbury’s Andy Mangan swivelled to fire past keeper Petr Cech with 13 minutes to play.
Nemanja Matic and Willian were promptly summoned from the bench to help quell the uprising, the latter’s superb cross causing panic in the defensive ranks and Jermaine Grandison turning the ball into his own net.
West Brom probably thought they had done enough to force extra-time when a Tommy Elphick own goal with five minutes to go at Bournemouth levelled the scores at 1-1. But it was the hosts who progressed thanks to Callum Wilson’s late strike Elsewhere, Derby County came from 2-0 down to beat Championship rivals Fulham 5-2 and Sheffield United downed Milton Keynes Dons 2-1.
5) Vaulting ambition, soaring dreams
Stray bullets would whiz past and shelling boomed like thunder in the background on the border post just 2.5 km away from Bisweshwar Nandi’s home in the Agartala of 1971.Just into his teens, the rookie had been in a hurry to get started on the spartan gymnastics equipment that he saw on his school field, when Indian soldiers were engaged in a war with East Pakistan not too far off. Parents and elders would warn children not to step out of the house. He was forbidden from going anywhere near the gymnastics apparatus. For days on end, the mortar-fire would bawl into his ears. He’d sit cooped up in a room with his nose in the books, a little scared, and reading the same line a hundred times without anything registering on his mind. It didn’t help that he was a wiry kid. He was also vaguely aware that Agartala itself was like a specky village that would fall silent and stay indoors from 6 pm, compared to Kolkata or rest of Indian metros.All of this made Bisweshwar Nandi feel fearfully small.
And to think that the same BS Nandi is now dreaming of taking on the entire might of the gymnastics world — USA, China and Russia — by training his student Dipa Karmakar in some of gymnastics’ most sophisticated skills-set, urging her to aim for the Olympics — nothing less, and making it look imminently possible. It is an unlikely story of a young boy who was so mesmerised by gymnastics and with a voracious appetite for knowledge, that he could take leaps of limb and faith, and pass it onto his ward who has enjoyed a breakthrough season this year: A bronze medal at Commonwealth Games; 4th at Asian Games and recently 10th at the World Championships — by far the highest placing ever for any Indian gymnast, men or women, at the Worlds.
It was this one man’s inspired decision to start Karmakar out on the 7.0 Difficulty-level (D-Level) world class Produnova vault which fetched her the CWG medal, and his stubborn persistence in pushing the 21-year-old to pursue this complicated routine that is getting Indian gymnastics a seriously curious glance from the rest of the world. If you thought the coach and the girl are fixated on just that one vault, Nandi has lined up immaculate plans to take Karmakar to the Olympics by adding other variations to her arsenal.The small boy, confined to his house feeling all walled in over 40 years ago, is breaking free and reaching for the distant stars, not guffawing incredulously at the hint of a possibility of an Olympic medal.It started when he allowed the name Aleksandr Nikolaevich Dityatin to roll easy off his tongue. The Russian gymnast once held the all-time Olympic record for most individual medals at a single Games, until Michael Phelps fetched up.
Pankaj Advani clinches World Billiards title, bags 3 Grand Doubles:
ndia's most celebrated cueist Pankaj Advani clinched the World Billiards Championship (time format) title to bag a record 12th world crown and also complete a rare 'Grand Double' post his third win in both the long and short formats in the same year.
Bangalore's 'Golden Boy' set the green baize on fire as he humbled England's rising star Robert Hall 1928-893 in a one-sided contest to hand his mother, Kajal, a perfect birthday gift on Wednesday. He had won the 150-up format last week after defeating Peter Gilchrist. Hall, who had got past Advani's citymate Balachandra Bhaskar in the semifinals, could not stand up to the Indian ace and the Englishman's maiden final appearance ended on a disappointing note. But it was all smiles for Advani, whose third grand double makes him the only billiards player to achieve this feat. Advani, 29, surpassed Mike Russell, who had won the double in 2010 and 2011.
Advani's previous grand doubles were in Malta in 2005 and in his hometown in 2008. Saving his best for the last, which is often synonymous with Advani, he led 746-485 with the help of a 185 break in the first session of the five-hour final. On resumption, the Indian ace fired in breaks of 94, 182, 289 and 145, adding a whopping 1000 points in under two hours. Advani then went into overdrive making the match a foregone conclusion with over hour left on the clock. On how he was able to turn things around in the second session, Advani said, "With a 260 lead in the first half, I knew I had things under control. But Hall has the ability to come back so I decided that I was going to score as much as possible on each visit. I spoke with my brother Shree who was following the match online. A couple of tips from him did the trick too."
When asked about the multiple records, a thrilled Advani said, "I don't know what to say. The way I feel makes words seem incapable of truly depicting it. I worked really hard on my game and fitness, both physical and mental before coming here (to Leeds) and it definitely paid off. "I'm on my way to Sheffield today to get billiards out of my system and switch to snooker in order to prepare for the IBSF World Snooker Championship happening next month in Bengaluru."
On winning his 12th world title on his mother's birthday, he said, "This win is truly special. Apart from the dozen world titles and the third grand double, the main reason for it being so special is because it was won on my mother's birthday. She is my rock. Happy birthday Mom! Hope you like your present."
Book Of This Week:
The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut's Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt :by Kara Cooney
An engrossing biography of the longest-reigning female pharaoh in Ancient Egypt and the story of her audacious rise to power in a man’s world.
Hatshepsut, the daughter of a general who took Egypt's throne without status as a king’s son and a mother with ties to the previous dynasty, was born into a privileged position of the royal household. Married to her brother, she was expected to bear the sons who would legitimize the reign of her father’s family. Her failure to produce a male heir was ultimately the twist of fate that paved the way for her inconceivable rule as a cross-dressing king. At just twenty, Hatshepsut ascended to the rank of king in an elaborate coronation ceremony that set the tone for her spectacular twenty-two year reign as co-regent with Thutmose III, the infant king whose mother Hatshepsut out-maneuvered for a seat on the throne. Hatshepsut was a master strategist, cloaking her political power plays with the veil of piety and sexual expression. Just as women today face obstacles from a society that equates authority with masculinity, Hatshepsut had to shrewdly operate the levers of a patriarchal system to emerge as Egypt's second female pharaoh.
Hatshepsut had successfully negotiated a path from the royal nursery to the very pinnacle of authority, and her reign saw one of Ancient Egypt’s most prolific building periods. Scholars have long speculated as to why her images were destroyed within a few decades of her death, all but erasing evidence of her rule. Constructing a rich narrative history using the artifacts that remain, noted Egyptologist Kara Cooney offers a remarkable interpretation of how Hatshepsut rapidly but methodically consolidated power—and why she fell from public favor just as quickly. The Woman Who Would Be King traces the unconventional life of an almost-forgotten pharaoh and explores our complicated reactions to women in power
Dr. Kathlyn M. Cooney : Dr. Kara Cooney is an Egyptologist and Assistant Professor of Egyptian Art and Architecture at UCLA. She was awarded a PhD in 2002 by Johns Hopkins University for Near Eastern Studies. She was part of an archaeological team excavating at the artisans' village of Deir el Medina in Egypt, as well as Dahshur and various tombs at Thebes.
In 2002 she was Kress Fellow at the National Gallery of Art and worked on the preparation of the Cairo Museum exhibition Quest for Immortality: Treasures of Ancient Egypt. She was a member of the teaching staff at Stanford and Howard University. In 2005, she acted as fellow curator for Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Raised in Houston, she obtained her B.A. from the University of Texas.
She worked on two Discovery Channel documentary series: Out of Egypt, first aired in August 2009, and Egypt's Lost Queen, which also featured Dr. Zahi Hawass.