Science News This Week:
1) Magnetic fields frozen into meteorite grains tell a shocking tale of solar system birth:
The most accurate laboratory measurements yet made of magnetic fields trapped in grains within a primitive meteorite are providing important clues to how the early solar system evolved. The measurements point to shock waves traveling through the cloud of dusty gas around the newborn Sun as a major factor in solar system formation. The results appear in a paper published Nov. 13 in the journal Science. The lead author is graduate student Roger Fu of MIT, working under Benjamin Weiss; Steve Desch of Arizona State University's School of Earth and Space Exploration is a co-author of the paper."The measurements made by Fu and Weiss are astounding and unprecedented," says Desch. "Not only have they measured tiny magnetic fields thousands of times weaker than a compass feels, they have mapped the magnetic fields' variation recorded by the meteorite, millimeter by millimeter."
It may seem all but impossible to determine how the solar system formed, given it happened about 4.5 billion years ago. But making the solar system was a messy process, leaving lots of construction debris behind for scientists to study.Among the most useful pieces of debris are the oldest, most primitive and least altered type of meteorites, called the chondrites (KON-drites). Chondrite meteorites are pieces of asteroids, broken off by collisions, that have remained relatively unmodified since they formed at the birth of the solar system. They are built mostly of small stony grains, called chondrules, barely a millimeter in diameter.Chondrules themselves formed through quick melting events in the dusty gas cloud -- the solar nebula -- that surrounded the young sun. Patches of the solar nebula must have been heated above the melting point of rock for hours to days. Dustballs caught in these events made droplets of molten rock, which then cooled and crystallized into chondrules.
As chondrules cooled, iron-bearing minerals within them became magnetized like bits on a hard drive by the local magnetic field in the gas. These magnetic fields are preserved in the chondrules even down to the present day.The chondrule grains whose magnetic fields were mapped in the new study came from a meteorite named Semarkona, after the place in India where it fell in 1940. It weighed 691 grams, or about a pound and a half.The scientists focused specifically on the embedded magnetic fields captured by "dusty" olivine grains that contain abundant iron-bearing minerals. These had a magnetic field of about 54 microtesla, similar to the magnetic field at Earth's surface, which ranges from 25 to 65 microtesla.Coincidentally, many previous measurements of meteorites also implied similar field strengths. But it is now understood that those measurements detected magnetic minerals contaminated by Earth's magnetic field, or even from hand magnets used by meteorite collectors."The new experiments," Desch says, "probe magnetic minerals in chondrules never measured before. They also show that each chondrule is magnetized like a little bar magnet, but with 'north' pointing in random directions."
This shows, he says, they became magnetized before they were built into the meteorite, and not while sitting on Earth's surface.
Shocks and more shocks
"My modeling for the heating events shows that shock waves passing through the solar nebula is what melted most chondrules," Desch explains. Depending on the strength and size of the shock wave, the background magnetic field could be amplified by up to 30 times.He says, "Given the measured magnetic field strength of about 54 microtesla, this shows the background field in the nebula was probably in the range of 5 to 50 microtesla."There are other ideas for how chondrules might have formed, some involving magnetic flares above the solar nebula, or passage through the sun's magnetic field. But those mechanisms require stronger magnetic fields than what is measured in the Semarkona samples.This reinforces the idea that shocks melted the chondrules in the solar nebula at about the location of today's asteroid belt, which lies some two to four times farther from the sun than Earth now orbits.Desch says, "This is the first really accurate and reliable measurement of the magnetic field in the gas from which our planets formed."
2) Scripps Research Institute scientists reveal weak spots in Ebola's defenses:
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have identified weak spots on the surface of Ebola virus that are targeted by the antibodies in ZMapp, the experimental drug cocktail administered to several patients during the recent Ebola outbreak. The study, led by TSRI structural biologists Andrew Ward and Erica Ollmann Saphire and published online ahead of print this week by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provides a revealing 3-D picture of how the ZMapp antibodies bind to Ebola virus."The structural images of Ebola virus are like enemy reconnaissance," said Saphire. "They tell us exactly where to target antibodies or drugs."Ward said, "Now that we know how ZMapp targets Ebola, we can compare all newly discovered anti-Ebola antibodies as we try to formulate an even better immunotherapeutic cocktail."
How Antibodies Fight Back
ZMapp, developed by San Diego-based Mapp Biopharmaceutical, was used in August to treat several patients in the ongoing Ebola virus outbreak. Although five of the seven patients who received ZMapp survived, researchers cannot yet say for sure whether ZMapp made a difference in their recoveries.
The new study explains why ZMapp could have been effective. Using an imaging technique called electron microscopy, researchers found that two of the ZMapp antibodies bind near the base of virus, appearing to prevent the virus from entering cells. A third antibody binds near the top of the virus, possibly acting as a beacon to call the body's immune system to the site of infection.The new picture of ZMapp reveals the two antibodies that bind near the base of the virus seem to be competing for the same site. While this appears to be a particularly vulnerable spot on Ebola virus's surface as identified in previous studies, one question now is whether future cocktails should continue to use two antibodies to target this site or try to attack the virus from a third angle.
"This information helps guide decisions about how to formulate these life-saving therapies," said C. Daniel Murin, a graduate student in the labs of Ward and Saphire and first author of the new study. "Instead of including two different antibodies that do the same thing, why not use twice as much of the more effective one instead? Or include a third antibody against a different site to stop the virus a third way?"Luckily, while the Ebola virus has undergone more than 300 genetic changes in the current outbreak (according to research published in the journal Science in August), the new study indicates the sites where the ZMapp antibodies bind have been unaffected so far.
A Global Search for Treatments
The new research is part of the National Institutes of Health-funded Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Immunotherapeutic Consortium, which is testing antibodies from 25 laboratories around the world with the goal of developing the best cocktail for neutralizing Ebola virus and other closely related hemorrhagic fever viruses.The next step for the consortium is to study the new antibodies from human survivors of the current outbreak. Saphire, who leads the consortium, hopes the group can also develop a back-up cocktail in case the virus mutates and becomes resistant to treatment.ZMapp is expected to go into clinical trials in early 2015. The antibodies in the cocktail were originally isolated by the Public Health Agency of Canada and the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Disease.
3) Physicists discover new subatomic particles:
hysicist in the College of Arts and Sciences is the lead contributor to the discovery of two never-before-seen baryonic particles. The finding, which is the subject of a forthcoming article in Physical Review Letters (American Physical Society, 2014), is expected to have a major impact on the study of quark dynamics.Steven Blusk, associate professor of physics, has identified particles known as Xi_b'- and Xi_b*-. Although the particles had been predicted to exist, nobody had seen them until now. The discovery is part of his ongoing work at the Large Hadron Collider beauty (LHCb) experiment at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland.
"The particles we've discovered are quite unique," says Blusk, a leader in experimental high-energy particle physics. "Each one contains a beauty [b] quark, a strange [s] quark and a down [d] quark."A baryon is a subatomic particle made up of three quarks, bound together by strong force. Two other familiar baryons, the proton and neutron, combine with the electron to form all the known elements of the periodic table."The building blocks of all known things, including cars, planets, stars and people, are quarks and electrons, which are tied together by strong, electromagnetic forces," Blusk says.
Unique to each newly discovered particle is its mass, which is approximately six times larger than that of the proton. Blusk attributes its size to the presence of a heavyweight b quark and to the particle's angular momentum -- a property known as "spin."In the Xi_b'- state, the spins of the two lighter quarks point in opposite directions; in the Xi_b*- state, they are aligned. The difference is what makes the Xi_b*- a little heavier."The Xi_b'- is close in mass to the sum of the masses of its decay products. If it had been just a little lighter, we wouldn't have seen it at all," Blusk adds.Much of Blusk's work draws on the theory of Quantum Chromodynamics, which describes the interaction of quarks. As a result, he and his colleagues have studied the masses of both particles, along with their relative production rates, widths and decays."This is a very exciting result," Blusk adds. "Thanks to LHCb's excellent hadron identification, which is unique among LHC experiments, we've been able to separate a clean, strong signal from the background. It demonstrates, once again, both the sensitivity and precision of the LHCb detector."Blusk is part of a team of Syracuse researchers, led by Distinguished Professor of Physics Sheldon Stone, working at CERN, which is the world's leading laboratory for particle physics. There, they have been involved with the LHCb experiment, which seeks to identify new forces and particles, in addition to those already known and codified in the Standard Model, a theory describing the physical makeup of the visible Universe.
"Fourteen billion years ago, the Universe began with a bang, and matter and anti-matter were formed," Stone says. "But just one second after the Big Bang, anti-matter all but disappeared. … The LHCb experiment is designed to find out what really happened after the Big Bang that has allowed matter to survive and build the Universe we inhabit today."
4) Unique sense of 'touch' gives a prolific bacterium its ability to infect anything:
Researcher has found that one of the world's most prolific bacteria manages to afflict humans, animals and even plants by way of a mechanism not before seen in any infectious microorganism -- a sense of touch. This unique ability helps make the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa ubiquitous, but it also might leave these antibiotic-resistant organisms vulnerable to a new form of treatment.
Pseudomonas is the first pathogen found to initiate infection after merely attaching to the surface of a host, Princeton University and Dartmouth College researchers report in the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. This mechanism means that the bacteria, unlike most pathogens, do not rely on a chemical signal specific to any one host, and just have to make contact with any organism that's ripe for infection.The researchers found, however, that the bacteria could not infect another organism when a protein on their surface known as PilY1 was disabled. This suggests a possible treatment that, instead of attempting to kill the pathogen, targets the bacteria's own mechanisms for infection.
Corresponding author Zemer Gitai, a Princeton associate professor of molecular biology, explained that the majority of bacteria, viruses and other disease-causing agents depend on "taste," as in they respond to chemical signals unique to the hosts with which they typically co-evolved. Pseudomonas, however, through their sense of touch, are able to thrive on humans, plants, animals, numerous human-made surfaces, and in water and soil. They can cause potentially fatal organ infections in humans, and are the culprit in many hospital-acquired illnesses such as sepsis. The bacteria are largely unfazed by antibiotics."Pseudomonas' ability to infect anything was known before. What was not known was how it's able to detect so many types of hosts," Gitai said. "That's the key piece of this research -- by using this sense of touch, as opposed to taste, Pseudomonas can equally identify any kind of suitable host and initiate infection in an attempt to kill it."
The researchers found that only two conditions must be satisfied for Pseudomonas to launch an infection: Surface attachment and "quorum sensing," a common bacterial mechanism wherein the organisms can detect that a large concentration of their kind is present. The researchers focused on the surface-attachment cue because it truly sets Pseudomonas apart, said Gitai, who worked with first author Albert Siryaporn, a postdoctoral researcher in Gitai's group; George O'Toole, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Dartmouth; and Sherry Kuchma, a senior scientist in O'Toole's laboratory.To demonstrate the bacteria's wide-ranging lethality, Siryaporn infected ivy cells with the bacteria then introduced amoebas to the same sample; Pseudomonas immediately detected and quickly overwhelmed the single-celled animals. "The bacteria don't know what kind of host it's sitting on," Siryaporn said. "All they know is that they're on something, so they're on the offensive. It doesn't draw a distinction between one host or another."When Siryaporn deleted the protein PilY1 from the bacteria's surface, however, the bacteria lost their ability to infect and thus kill the test host, an amoeba. "We believe that this protein is the sensor of surfaces," Siryaporn said. "When we deleted the protein, the bacteria were still on a surface, but they didn't know they were on a surface, so they never initiated virulence."Because PilY1 is on a Pseudomonas bacterium's surface and required for virulence, it presents a comprehensive and easily accessible target for developing drugs to treat Pseudomonas infection, Gitai said. Many drugs are developed to target components in a pathogen's more protected interior, he said.
Kerwyn Huang, a Stanford University assistant professor of bioengineering, said that the research is an important demonstration of an emerging approach to treating pathogens -- by disabling rather than killing them.
"This work indicates that the PilY1 sensor is a sort of lynchpin for the entire virulence response, opening the door to therapeutic design that specifically disrupts the mechanical cues for activating virulence," said Huang, who is familiar with the research but had no role in it."This is a key example of what I think will become the paradigm in antivirals and antimicrobials in the future -- that trying to kill the microbes is not necessarily the best strategy for dealing with an infection," Huang said. "[The researchers'] discovery of the molecular factor that detects the mechanical cues is critical for designing such compounds."Targeting proteins such as PilY1 offers an avenue for combating the growing problem of antibiotic resistance among bacteria, Gitai said. Disabling the protein in Pseudomonas did not hinder the bacteria's ability to multiply, only to infect.
Antibiotic resistance results when a drug kills all of its target organisms, but leaves behind bacteria that developed a resistance to the drug. These mutants, previously in the minority, multiply at an astounding rate -- doubling their numbers roughly every 30 minutes -- and become the dominant strain of pathogen, Gitai said. If bacteria had their ability to infect disabled, but were not killed, the mutant organisms would be unlikely to take over, he said."I'm very optimistic that we can use drugs that target PilY1 to inhibit the whole virulence process instead of killing off bacteria piecemeal," Gitai said. "This could be a whole new strategy. Really what people should be doing is screening drugs that inhibit virulence but preserve growth. This protein presents a possible route by which to do that."PilY1 also is found in other bacteria with a range of hosts, Gitai said, including Neisseria gonorrhoeae or the large bacteria genus Burkholderia, which, respectively, cause gonorrhea in humans and are, along with Pseudomonas, a leading cause of lung infection in people with cystic fibrosis. It is possible that PilY1 has a similar role in detecting surfaces and initiating infection for these other bacteria, and thus could be a treatment target.Frederick Ausubel, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, said that the research could help explain how opportunistic pathogens are able to infect multiple types of hosts. Recent research has revealed a lot about how bacteria initiate an infection, particularly via quorum sensing and chemical signals, but the question about how that's done across a spectrum of unrelated hosts has remained unanswered, said Ausubel, who is familiar with the research but had no role in it.
"A broad host-range pathogen such as Pseudomonas cannot rely solely on chemical cues to alert it to the presence of a suitable host," Ausubel said.
"It makes sense that Pseudomonas would use surface attachment as one of the major inputs to activating virulence, especially if attachment to surfaces in general rather than to a particular surface is the signal," he said. "There is probably an advantage to activating virulence only when attached to a host cell, and it is certainly possible that other broad host-range opportunistic pathogens utilize a similar strategy."
5) Thin film produces new chemistry in 'nanoreactor':
Physicists at the University of Groningen led by Professor of Functional Nanomaterials Beatriz Noheda have discovered a new manganese compound that is produced by tension in the crystal structure of terbium manganese oxide. The technique they used to create this new material could open the way to new nanoscale circuits. Their findings were published on 20 November 2014 in the journal Nature.The researchers grew a very thin layer (no more than a few dozen atoms thick) of the terbium manganese oxide crystal on a thicker base layer of strontium titanium oxide. This base layer affects the growth of the thin layer. When pieces of growing crystal meet, an interface or 'domain wall' develops, and the crystal structure comes under tensile stress in this wall.
Until a few years ago, materials scientists when creating very thin layers tried to prevent domain walls from occurring because of this tensile stress. 'Domain walls were seen as contamination', says Noheda. Then it became clear that the tension in the crystal structure actually invested the material with new properties, and, as has now become apparent, the domain wall can become a nanoscale chemical reactor.
The Groningen researchers have gained a lot of expertise in controlling how many domain walls develop. The composition of the base layer affects this, for instance, and the thinner the crystal layer, the greater the number of walls that occur.'Alongside controlling how many walls develop, a further considerable challenge was to analyse exactly what happens in a wall, as this is generally only one atom thick', says Noheda. One way to analyse the material in the wall is to compare samples comprising different numbers of walls. The researchers saw that the more walls there were, the more magnetic the material was. 'Direct observation of a magnetic field is not yet possible on the atomic scale, particularly not in an isolator', says Noheda.
An advanced atomic-resolution chemical analysis was used to show that the composition of the crystal in the walls had changed: in specific locations a manganese atom had taken the place of a larger terbium atom. The terbium atom forms a kind of zigzag line in the crystal structure. Two opposing zigzags meet in the domain wall, thus causing some of the terbium atoms to come into very close proximity. 'This creates significant tension, the terbium atom disappears from the crystal, and a smaller manganese atom takes its place', explains Noheda.
In contrast to the normal crystal, this extra manganese makes the wall magnetic. Professor of Theoretical Physics Maxim Mostovoy of the University of Groningen modelled the magnetism, and his results match the results of the experiment: 'A bond that has not yet been described occurs between five manganese atoms. We therefore see new chemistry in the domain wall.' This makes the domain wall a kind of nanoscale chemical reactor. 'And we suspect that this kind of new bond will occur in all crystals with this zigzag structure.'Noheda hopes in further research to generate walls with the potential to form circuits. Minute circuits of only a few atoms in size could then develop. 'But I also hope that chemists will set to work on these nanoreactors.'
Beatriz Noheda and Maxim Mostovoy both work at the Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials (ZIAM), part of the University of Groningen's Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences. The ZIAM is a top national research institute.Noheda's research is funded by NanoNextNl, a consortium of 130 partners including universities, members of the business community and the authorities who collaborate in the field of microtechnology and nanotechnology, and by FOM, the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter.
Movie Release This Week:
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has survived the Hunger Games twice. But now that she's made it out of the bloody arena alive, she's still not safe. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. Who do they think should pay for the unrest? Katniss. And what's worse, President Snow has made it clear that no one else is safe either. Not Katniss's family, not her friends, not the people of District 12. Powerful and haunting, this thrilling final installment of Suzanne Collins's groundbreaking The Hunger Games trilogy promises to be one of the most talked about movies of the year.
In THE IMITATION GAME, Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Alan Turing, the genius British mathematician, logician, cryptologist and computer scientist who led the charge to crack the German Enigma Code that helped the Allies win WWII. Turing went on to assist with the development of computers at the University of Manchester after the war, but was prosecuted by the UK government in 1952 for homosexual acts which the country deemed illegal
Five friends set out to a cabin in the woods for a fun weekend getaway—that is, until extraterrestrial visitors turn it into a fight for their lives. The group is pulled from their reverie when a flickering object crashes deep in the woods. As they investigate, the friends stumble across an alien spacecraft, and its inhabitants have not arrived in peace.
A police chase after a deranged ice cream truck has captivated the attention of the greater Los Angeles area. Dozens of fame—obsessed teens flock to the streets with their video cameras and camera phones, hell—bent on capturing the next viral video. But there is something far more sinister occurring in the streets of L.A. than a simple police chase. A resounding effect is created onto all those obsessed with capturing salacious footage for no other purpose than to amuse or titillate. Soon the discovery becomes that they themselves are the stars of the next video, one where they face their own death.
In the Iranian ghost-town Bad City, a place that reeks of death and loneliness, the townspeople are unaware they are being stalked by a lonesome vampire.
Political News This Week:
1) Rampal owned luxurious property, arms and ammunition:
A huge cache of arms, a private swimming pool, state-of-the-art elevators and 24 AC rooms with one having a massage bed were found inside the highly-fortified Satlok Ashram from where 'godman' Rampal was ‘smoked out’The shocking details came to the fore during the police operation to nab the ‘mouse’ -- the code name used for the controversial 63-year-old engineer-turned-preacher, who was arrested on Wednesday in a murder case.The cops came across a number of almirahs. From the two almirahs police recovered three .32 bore revolvers, 19 air guns, two double barrel12 bore rifles, two .315 bore rifles, 28 cartridges of .32 bore, 50 cartridges of 12 bore and 25 cartridges of .315 bore.
Most of the weapons were kept in bags and almirahs in two secret rooms. In the centre of the Ashram, Rampal had an elevated structure on which he had his seat. The ammunition was stored under the structure so that no one could suspect the location.The team also found helmets and sticks and 20 pairs of black dresses and two tanks containing 800 litres of diesel and catapult. The three persons found hiding in the Ashram have been identified as Yaadram, resident of Jakhli, district Badaun, UP, Ravi, resident of Kharati, Chhattisgarh, and Ramesh, resident of Dhani Sillanwali, district Bhiwani in Haryana.The ashram, built like a fortress, is surrounded by high walls with watchtowers. A special room was set up within the Ashram for his securitymen comprising private commandos. The sprawling complex was found to be under constant surveillance with CCTV cameras installed at several key-points to keep a tab on the movements of devotees, who largely came from low-income strata.
At the entrance of Ashram, spread over 12 acres adjacent to Chandigarh-Hissar national highway in Hissar district of Haryana, police found metal detectors to check the devotees.The AC rooms in the Ashram, which could be compared to a starred hotel or a farm house, had attached bathrooms fitted with top-of-the line fixtures. One of the rooms had a massage bed, while another a treadmill.The 'satsang' (prayer) hall in the complex, which came up in four years, is the centerpiece of the Ashram having a sitting capacity for 50,000 people. ampal used to sit in a hydraulic chair to deliver sermons from a bullet proof enclosure as his private militia stood guard.
2) Saradha scam: Trinamool MP arrested, CBI interrogates two other lawmakers:
Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha MP Srinjoy Bose was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation on Friday after a marathon interrogation for five hours for his alleged involvement in the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam.The central agency also quizzed West Bengal Textiles Minister Shyamapada Mukherjee in connection with sale of shares of a cement plant to Saradha Group chief Sudipto Sen, and former Trinamool Congress MP Somen Mitra during the day.
CBI sources said that Bose would be produced before the Alipore court on Saturday.Bose, owner of a Bengali daily and who was asked to appear before the CBI officials, deposed before the sleuths in the morning and was interrogated for his business dealings with Sen.
A CBI spokesperson said that Bose was arrested "for his prima facie involvement in the Saradha realty case and for allegations of criminal conspiracy, misappropriation of funds and deriving undue financial benefits".All the three Trinamool leaders made consecutive appearances during the day.Bose is among eight prominent persons arrested by CBI in the Saradha case.
The others arrested are Sen, his aide Debjani Mukherjee, suspended Trinamool MP Kunal Ghosh, ex-West Bengal Police DG Rajat Majumdar, Assamese singer Sadananda Gogoi, East Bengal club official Debabrata Sarkar and businessman Sandhir Agarwal, all of whom have been named in a charge sheet by the investigating agency.
Meanwhile, state Transport Minister Madan Mitra, who had been also served summons, was being admitted to state-run SSKM hospital after a brief stay at the private clinic in the city complaining of breathlessness.The hospital had also formed a medical board to diagnose Mitra's 'medical complications'.On arriving at the CBI office, Bose told reporters that he had come as a witness and that he was not worried because he did not commit anything wrong.
3) Villagers celebrate homecoming of fishermen released from Sri Lanka:
Joyous and emotional scenes were witnessed at Thanachimadam village in Tamil Nadu where celebrations broke out on the arrival of 5 fishermen, who had escaped the gallows after spending 3 years in a Sri Lankan prison, with families and friends greeting them.The normally sleepy fishing village in Ramanathapuram district wore a festive mood since morning, as it awaited the return of these fishermen.Celebrations erupted soon after their arrival as they were garlanded, offered sweets and crackers were burst.
It looked as if the entire village, predominantly fishermen families, had gathered for the well-organised reception for them near the Parish Church, where even the school children in their uniforms were seated on the ground facing the stage put up for the occasion.Claps and whistles filled the air, when children of these fishermen met their fathers on the stage and sat on their lap after 3 years.
State Fisheries Minister K A Jayabal, Sports and Youth Development Minister S Sundarraj, Fisheries Secretary S Vijayakumar and Ramanathapuram MP Anwar Raja were present.Fishermen and fishing hamlet leaders hugged and offered shawls to the 5 fishermen, who were visibly tired as they posed for the media. They had flown from Colombo to Delhi and then to Chennai, from where they arrived by road.Fishing community leaders and others acknowledged the efforts of the central and state governments in securing the release of these fishermen. However, none of the state ministers mentioned the diplomatic efforts taken by the Centre and instead credited party chief and former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.The fishermen were apprehended in November 2011 and sentenced to death by the Colombo High Court on October 30 for alleged drug trafficking. Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa pardoned them after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to him on the issue and took efforts through diplomatic channels, following protests and appeals for their release from political parties in Tamil Nadu.
4) Mulayam's b'day shindig funded by Taliban, Dawood, quips Azam:
Uttar Pradesh’s powerful minister Azam Khan will host a gala event on the occasion of Samajwadi Party founder and president Mulayam Singh Yadav’s 75th birthday in Rampur on Friday and Saturday.The highlight of the event is a 75-feet long U-shaped cake made in New Delhi.
Accompanied by his chief minister son Akhilesh Yadav, Mulayam will fly to Rampur on Friday afternoon in a state aircraft from Lucknow. After landing at the CRPF airstrip, he will take a 12- km ride through the town in an exquisite buggy specially imported by Azam Khan from the UK. The buggy ride will culminate at the Jauhar University in Rampur.
As the celebrations were set in motion after Mulayam's arrival here, Azam's comments over the funding fuelled a controversy.
When questioned about the funding for the grand event, an irate Khan, who has left no stone unturned to make the celebrations successful, said money had come from the Taliban and fugitive gangster Dawood Ibrahim."Why does it matter where the money for celebrations is coming from? Some have come from Taliban, some from Abu Salem, some from Dawood, some from terrorists...," he said in an apparent sarcastic response.
Azam had also kicked up a row on Thursday when he suggested that the Taj Mahal, the monument of love in Agra, and the income generated through it should be handed over to the Wakf Board contending that the monument is a mausoleum."Taj Mahal is a mausoleum and each mausoleum is 'Waqf' and comes under the Sunni Central Waqf Board," he had said.
Local schools in Rampur have been closed for two days to facilitate the birthday celebrations.The local administration has sought a special fleet of 25 cars for VIP movement on the two days. All big hotels and guest houses in town have been blocked by the district administration to accommodate MPs and MLAs who are expected to join the celebrations.The evening will be marked by special performances by the famous Sabri brothers and Hans Raj Hans at a makeshift auditorium at Jauhar University. The series of cultural functions will be followed by the cake cutting ceremony at the stroke of midnight.
5) J-K polls: Triangular contest in Ganderbal:
The ruling National Conference's traditional bastion Ganderbal is set for a triangular fight with People's Democratic Party, National Conference and an Independent contesting the polls after Chief Minister Omar Abdullah decided not to contest from the constituency which goes to polls on November 25.
The electoral battle in Ganderbal is now a triangular contest between PDP's Qazi Muhammad Afzal, NC's Sheikh Ishfaq Jabbar and Sheikh Ghulam Ahmad Saloori, who is contesting as an Independent.Qazi is hopeful of riding on "PDP wave" that he believes is sweeping the Valley where the party is confident of better prospects than the last state polls."I am 100 per cent convinced that people want change. I am also sure of my win as people hate NC for its failure to keep its promises of development and employment," he said.
"People have made up their minds to defeat NC and this mood was gauged by Omar and hence he decided not to contest from here," he added.Though Qazi is seen as the front-runner, Saloori's entry into the fray has made the electoral battle interesting as there are many pockets in the Assembly segment where he enjoys formidable support.
On December 23, the verdict day, it would be clear whether National Conference dented by a series of jolts, is able to retain the constituency or will its boat sink from what was once known as its home turf.Omar's grandfather and the NC founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah joined mainstream politics and fought elections from Ganderbal in 1975, when the then sitting Congress MLA from the constituency Mohammad Maqbool Bhat vacated the seat for him.
Abdullah won the by-elections, became the chief minister of the state and thus started the family's relation with the constituency.Two years later, at the end of his tenure in 1977, Sheikh again chose Ganderbal to contest the polls and won.After Sheikh's death, his son and Omar's father Farooq Abdullah fought the polls from Ganderbal in 1983, 1987 and 1996, and won them each time.After Omar took over the reins of the party and decided to enter state politics, he, too, chose Ganderbal to mark his debut.However, he lost the elections to PDP's Qazi Muhammad Afzal in 2002, a defeat avenged by him in 2008 by defeating Qazi from Ganderbal to become the chief minister of the state.
This time Omar is contesting from Beerwah.For the first time since 1975 when National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah won the election from Ganderbal, the electorate of Ganderbal will not have an option of voting for an Abdullah as a candidate.The party first received a major jolt when its senior leader and Farooq's trusted lieutenant, Sheikh Ghulam Ahmad Saloori, decided to part ways from it.After Saloori, it was another long-time NC leader Mohammad Yousuf Bhat’s turn to dessert the party. Bhat, a key witness to the custodial death of NC worker Haji Mohammad Yousuf in 2011, left the party and will fight the polls on Congress ticket.
The National Conference gave mandate to the former Congress leader Ishfaq but there was strong resentment among the party workers especially among the middle and lower rung cadre who have started keeping a distance from it.The party was hit when a youth leader from the area Farooq Ahmad Dar, alias Farooq Ganderbali moved out of the NC and joined PDP.A day after he parted ways from the party, the NC received another shock when its MLC and ex-chief secretary of the state, Sheikh Ghulam Rasool quit the party and later joined PDP.As the battle-lines are drawn between various parties, a new fault line seems to have appeared in Ganderbal -- Lar versus rest of the constituency.
While Qazi and Ishfaq are from the Lar region, three other candidates in fray --Mohammad Yousuf Bhat (Congress), Abdul Majeed Dhobi (Peoples Conference) and Ali Mohammad Baba (Panthers Party), also belong to the same area.Ganderbal along with 14 other constituencies is going to polls in the first phase of the five-phased Assembly elections beginning November 25.
6) US presidential medal for Indian-American scientist:
United States President Barack Obama has felicitated Indian-American scientist Thomas Kailath with the top presidential medal for transformative contributions to the fields of science and technology.Kailath, 79, received the National Medal of Science at a White House function on Thursday.
"Thomas Kailath came to this country from India at the age of 22, with a research assistantship that took him to MIT, and then Stanford, where he made critical contributions in information theory and statistics, and mentored more than 100 scholars along the way," Obama said.Kailath received the award for transformative contributions to the fields of information and system science, distinctive and sustained mentoring of young scholars and translation of scientific ideas into entrepreneurial ventures that have had a significant impact on industry.Awarded annually, the medal recognises individuals who have made outstanding contributions to science and engineering.Born in 1935 to a Malayalam-speaking Syrian Christian family who hailed from Kerala, Kailath has authored several books including well-known Linear Systems.
After graduating from the University of Pune in 1956, Kailath received his Master's degree and his doctorate degree in 1961, both from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.He was the first India-born student to receive a doctorate in electrical engineering from MIT.
Kailath joined Stanford University as Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering in 1963 and was promoted to Professor in 1968, and was appointed the first holder of the
Hitachi America Professorship in 1988.He is also known for his contributions to the information and system sciences.He was conferred with the Padma Bhushan award in 2009 by the Indian government for his contribution to science and engineering.
7) Coalgate: Court rejects CBI closure report, directs further probe:
A special court on Thursday refused to accept a closure report by the Central Bureau of Investigation and directed it to further investigate an alleged scam in coal blocks allocation, involving Congress Rajya Sabha MP Vijay Darda, saying he had misrepresented facts in letters written to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar asked the CBI to file a progress report of its probe on December 19.Darda had misrepresented facts in various letters written to the then PM, who was holding the Coal Ministry portfolio, seeking his "help" to get allotment of Fatehpur (East) coal block in Chhattisgarh in favour of JLD Yavatmal Energy Pvt Ltd, the court said.Declining to accept CBI's closure report filed in a case in which it had lodged an FIR against Darda, who was also a director of JLD firm, and others, the court said that "prima facie" offence of cheating was committed by private parties in furtherance of conspiracy hatched between them and the public servants."As regard Vijay Darda who was chairman of Lokmat Group, it has come on record that he wrote a number of letters to the prime minister seeking allotment of Fatehpur (East) coal block in favour of M/s JLD," the court said.
Darda at that time was a sitting member of Rajya Sabha and he too had specifically claimed in his letter dated June 18, 2007 and August 6, 2007 addressed to the then prime minister that M/s JLD was promoted, managed and controlled by Lokmat Group and IDFC."Thus once again there was a clear misrepresentation at different forums by Vijay Darda on behalf of M/s JLD to claim allotment of yet another coal block," the court said in its 41-page order.Regarding the alleged roles of public servants, the court said "prima facie" it was evident that the ministry of coal and screening committee were "inclined to allot the impugned coal block at Fatehpur (East) to M/s JLD at all costs".
"Thus in these circumstances, the decision makers who were having dominion over the nationalized natural resources of the country i.e coal blocks, have to take responsibility of the consequences," it said Accordingly, the conclusion drawn by the investigating agency to close the case "cannot be accepted" the judge said.CBI had filed closure report in the case in which FIR was lodged against JLD Yavatmal Energy Ltd, its directors Vijay Darda, his son Devendra Darda, Rajendra Darda, Manoj Jayaswal, Anand Jayaswal and Abhishek Jayaswal and other unknown persons.
The FIR was registered against them under sections 420 (cheating) and 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC.The court, in its order, said, "At the same time the ministry of coal officers and screening committee have prima facie committed offences of criminal breach of trust and of criminal misconduct i.e under section 409 IPC and section 13 (1)(c) and 13(1)(d)(iii) PC Act in furtherance of the criminal conspiracy i.e under section 120-B IPC entered into by them with the private parties involved".
Regarding Vijay Darda's letters to the then PM, the court noted that when application of JLD for allotment of coal block was being considered by screening committee, he wrote letters seeking PM's "intervention" in getting the allotment."However, what is important to note is that even in his communications made to the PM, Vijay Darda claimed M/s JLD to be a company promoted, managed and controlled by Lokmat Group and IDFC. A specific averment to this effect was made in the letter dated June 18, 2007.
"Clearly Vijay Darda knew that the aforesaid claim was false. A similar representation was made in yet one another letter dated August 6, 2007 also. Thus, Vijay Darda actively participated in misrepresenting that M/s JLD was a company promoted, managed and controlled by Lokmat Group and IDFC," it said.The court also said JLD's claim in its application seeking allocation of coal block that it was jointly established by Lokmat Group and IDFC was "clearly false" and there was no agreement in existence which authorised JLD to mention the net-worth of IDFC in the application form.It also observed there was "clear misrepresentation" on the part of JLD in not disclosing about earlier coal blocks allotted to its group or associated companies
Honduras beauty queen shot dead by sister's jealous boyfriend:
Miss Honduras 2014 was supposed to fly to London on Wednesday to compete in the Miss World pageant. Instead, she and her sister were found dead near the spa where they disappeared six days ago.According to the Honduras police, bodies believed to be of beauty queen 19-year-old Maria Jose Alvarado and her 23-year-old sister, Sofia, were discovered on Wednesday buried near the spa where they disappeared a week earlier while celebrating the boyfriend’s birthday.The police added that on they suspect that on the night of November 13, a heated argument broke out and the boyfriend, identified as Plutarco Ruiz, pulled a gun, firing first at his girlfriend and then at Alvarado as she tried to flee. Alvarado was hit twice in the back.
Their bodies were discovered early Wednesday after Ruiz led investigators to the remote gravesite where he and an alleged accomplice buried them in a mountainous area of Santa Barbara, about 400 kilometres west of the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa. The accomplice, Aris Maldonado, was also in police custody and authorities were searching for other suspects.Chief detective Leandro Osorio said Ruiz had shot and killed the elder sister in a fit of jealousy after seeing her dancing with “another person or something similar”, then shot Alvarado and buried the bodies. “This is the main hypothesis we have for this crime, based on the witnesses and investigations we’ve done,” he said.
US snowstorm: Things are going to get worse:
Things are bound to get worse in New York state which is under the grip of a massive snow storm. According to the Independent, another wave of stormy weather is forecast to sweep across the city of Buffalo in New York state, bringing the total snowfall this week up to levels normally expected over an entire year. The new fall will undermine the efforts of many who started digging out of their homes, and another three feet (1 metre) of snow is forecast.
On top of the 5.5 feet (1.68 metres) already there in some places, it could become the heaviest 24-hour snowfall on record in the mainland, beating the 75.8 inches (192 centimeters), which fell at Silver Lake, Colorado, in 1921. The death toll from a rare pre-winter snowstorm has risen to 10.
The US is currently in the grip of a particularly cold period of weather, that has seen temperatures dip below freezing in all 50 states -- even Hawaii.
Sports News This Week:
1) A win by 2-goal margin was enough to send Chennaiyin FC atop the ISL table
Stiven Mendoza was aiming for just that, with Elano limping off in the 10 minute the Colombian created some great chances for the home team.
2) Hong Kong Open: No stopping K Srikanth, reaches semis; Saina Nehwal bows out:
Young Indian shuttler Kidambi Srikanth continued his rampaging run in Kowloon and set up a semifinal clash with top seed Chinese Chen Long even as Saina Nehwal suffered a stunning loss in the women’s singles quarterfinals at the Hong Kong Super Series, here today.After India’s campaign in the women’s singles came to an end following Saina’s shocking loss to Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Taipei in the quarterfinals, Srikanth brought back cheers to the home camp with a 21-14-21-15 win over Hong Kong’s Wei Nan in the men’s singles event.Newly-crowned China Open champion, Saina, seeded third, went down 15-21 19-21 to World No. 9 Ying in just 39 minutes.
However, Srikanth, who had become the first Indian to win a Super Series Premier event at Fuzhou last week, had no difficulty in seeing off World No. 21 Wei in a 36-minute quarterfinal match.Srikanth held a 10-6 lead early in the opening game but Wei caught up with him with a four-point burst. However, all credit to the Indian that he didn’t allow his rival to come near him after that and closed the game in her favour.
In the second game too, Srikanth surged ahead at 8-3 and held his fort as Wei crumbled.In the women’s singles quarterfinals, Saina, who held a 5-2 edge over Ying ahead of the match, could not find a way thorough her Taipei rival’s compact game.Last time the two met, the Indian had defeated Ying in the semifinals of Swiss Open in 2013 but the World No. 4 Saina looked pretty rusty today.The girl from Hyderabad was a pale shadow of herself in the opening game before she fought back in the second, but failed to make it to the next round.Breaking away from a 2-2 tie in the first game, there was no looking back for the Taipei girl. She just kept on extending the lead, even as Saina played the catch-up game.Although Saina tried her best, she always trailed behind Ying, seeded sixth. By the end of the opening round, the Taipei girl had surged ahead wrapping it up 21-15.
The Olympic bronze medallist, however, pulled up her socks in the second game and came up with a much-improved show.It turned out to be a closely fought affair as the game tilted from one end to another and the two shuttlers were tied at 19-19. But the World No. 9 Ying came up with two consecutive winners just when it mattered most to seal the issue in her favour, thereby making it to the semifinals.
3) Federer set to face France in Davis Cup final:
Switzerland's Roger Federer, who has been hampered by back problems, has been named to play in the second singles rubber of the Davis Cup final against France's Gael Monfils on Friday.The 17-time grand slam champion, looking to give the Swiss a maiden title in the team competition, withdrew from the ATP World Tour final against Novak Djokovic in London last Sunday.But the world number two was back in training on Thursday at Lille's Pierre Mauroy stadium, where the tie will be played indoors on clay in front of some 27,000 fans."Things have been going well out there this morning. I was really happy with the way I felt," Federer, who made his decision to play after Thursday's early practice session, told a news conference following the draw ceremony.
Asked if he was 100 percent fit, Federer said: "Only the match gives you the answer. I'm just pleased that I can play tomorrow, give it a go. Things have been going well."
Federer's inclusion did not surprise the French."It is not a surprise for us, we prepared ourselves to play against Roger and Stan," said France captain Arnaud Clement.
"He's had three days to rest and before that he played his best tennis (in London) so it's all good for him," said Monfils, who lost to Federer in five sets in the U.S. Open quarter-finals in September and has never beaten him in five matches on clay.
4) For Mary Kom, road to Rio is littered with hurdles:
Mary Kom looks back at 2014 fondly. She’s been omnipresent — be it inside the ring by winning the Asian Games gold or outside it promoting a biopic on her life.
However, as she begins her preparation for the Rio Olympics, Mary has been advised to train judiciously and focus on recovering from the niggling injuries. Mary knows, and expects, the road to Rio to be littered with hurdles.
At 31, she realises age is not on her side and the rapidly evolving women’s boxing circuit will only add to her challenge. “The level of competition has become much higher now than what it was. Even small countries like Myanmar produce tough boxers,” she said.
Even back home, Mary is facing a stiff challenge, as was evident during the Commonwealth Games trials. Pinki Jhangra, who qualified for Glasgow at her expense, has turned out to be a strong contender in Mary’s weight category and will be the main challenger once again for Rio. Yet, the bulk of her preparation for the quadrennial event will be based on fitness. Even at the Asian Games, Mary suffered a hamstring injury. That coupled with a lower back trouble that has been bothering her since the birth of her third child last year has affected her training.
She had to pull out of the ongoing World Championships to focus on rehabilitation. Daily training is still a continuing process, she says, but only in lighter form. “I have to make sure I’m in touch with the game at all times,” Mary added.She has been advised against heavy and full-scale training because of the nature of her injuries. However, her physio Nikhil Latey is bullish about her return. “If she wants, she can begin proper training immediately and be prepared for a tournament in a week. So it is not that the injuries are overbearing,” said Latey, who works with the Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ).
Keeping her age in mind, Latey has expressed a need for the pugilist to train judiciously and pick and choose tournaments carefully. “At this point, it’s preferred that she trains ahead of specific competitions instead of working hard the whole year round,” he said.Mary is likely to take part only in a couple of international meets next year. Her main focus will be on the 2016 World Championships, which will also double up as an Olympic qualification event. Should she fail at the worlds, she can attempt to qualify by winning the gold at the Asian Championships. The 2012 Games bronze medallist says she is determined to battle the odds for the Rio Games, as it will most likely be her last Olympics.
5) Michael Schumacher paralysed with memory, speech problems: Friend:
Close to two years since his horrific fall during a ski trip to the Alps, Michael Schumacher is paralysed and has problems with his memory and speech, revealed a close friend of F1 legend.“He is getting better but everything is relative,” former Formula 1 driver Philippe Streiff was quoted as saying by The Independent. “It’s very difficult. He can’t speak,” said the Frenchman, who is a close friend of Schumacher.
“Like me he is in a wheelchair, paralysed. He has memory problems and speech problems,” said Streiff who had suffered a crash during pre-season testing at Rio de Janeiro’s Jacarepagua circuit ahead of the 1989 campaign and is now in a wheelchair.Schumacher was moved to his family home near Lake Geneva in Switzerland in September last year as he continues his recovery from the brain injury he suffered in the fall in December 2013. The newspaper quoted a spokesman for Schumacher saying Streiff’s claims were “his opinion”, and no medical update on Schumacher’s condition is expected given his manager Sabine Kehm’s recent comments that it could be some time before the next one is issued. One of the doctors who treated the seven-time world champion after the skiing accident said it could take years for him to recover from his injuries.
“I have noticed some progress but I would say we will have to give him time,” Jean-Francois Payen said. “It is like for other patients. We are in a time scale of one to three years, so you need patience,” newspaper quoted him as saying.
Earlier this month Schumacher’s official website was re-launched to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his first world championship title in 1994. During the occasion Schumacher’s family thanked the fans for their support and reiterated they were confident of his recovery.
6) 10th game between Anand and Carlsen ends in draw:
Anand surprised Carlsen in the opening, but possibly missed a big opportunity by not playing 16.d6. Anand's position was still somewhat superior, however he made couple of passive moves giving up the initiative. Magnus was able to exchange queens and equalize. The game ended in a DRAW. Review all WCC games here
Book of This Week:
The Election That Changed India 2014 by Rajdeep Sardesai (Author)
The 2014 Indian general elections has been regarded as the most important elections in Indian history since 1977. It saw the decimation of the ruling Congress party, a spectacular victory for the BJP and a new style of campaigning that broke every rule in the political game. But how and why?
In his riveting book, Rajdeep Sardesai tracks the story of this pivotal elections through all the key players and the big news stories. Beginning with 2012, when Narendra Modi won the state elections in Gujarat for a third time but set his sights on a bigger prize, to the scandals that crippled Manmohan Singh and UPA 2 and moving to the back-room strategies of Team Modi, the extraordinary missteps of Rahul Gandhi and the political dramas of an election year, he draws a panoramic picture of the year that changed India. Page-turning, full of insights and great portraits, and written with a media insider's eye, 2014 is political storytelling at its absolute best.
Rajdeep Sardesai is an Indian news presenter and author. Sardesai is currently a consulting editor at the India today group and will be doing a marquee show for Headlines Today.
Education: University College, Oxford, St. Xavier's College-Autonomous, Mumbai, University of Oxford.