Science News This Week:
1) Blu-ray Discs get repurposed to improve solar cells:
Polymer imprinted with movies' etchings captures more sunlight. Using Blu-ray Discs to watch movies is so 2006. Now they can boost the efficiency of solar cells. Imprinting the discs’ data-storing etchings onto solar cells increases the cells’ absorption of sunlight, according to a study published November 25 in Nature Communications.
Previous research has shown that making nanometer-sized etchings onto a solar cell’s surface helps trap more light, so Jiaxing Huang, a materials chemist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., looked to Blu-ray Discs, which store data in the form of tiny bumps and pits. He and his team collected various movies and TV shows, and used a mold of the discs to imprint their patterns onto polymer solar cells.
The patterned solar cells that Huang’s team tested absorbed nearly 22 percent more light than smooth cells. By coincidence, Huang says, the manufacturing process to compress data and prevent scratches from ruining discs creates etching patterns that help absorb light.
The results suggest that Blu-ray Discs collecting dust could cheaply improve the performance of many varieties of solar cells. It appears that any mass-produced Blu-ray will do: The PBS documentary The Dust Bowl works just as well as the TV cartoon Family Guy, and a widely panned movie (The Room) fares no worse than Citizen Kane
2) A path to brighter images and more efficient LCD displays:
University of Utah engineers have developed a polarizing filter that allows in more light, leading the way for mobile device displays that last much longer on a single battery charge and cameras that can shoot in dim light. Polarizers are indispensable in digital photography and LCD displays, but they block enormous amounts of light, wasting energy and making it more difficult to photograph in low light.The Utah electrical and computer engineering researchers created the filter by etching a silicon wafer with nanoscale pillars and holes using a focused gallium-ion beam. This new concept in light filtering can perform the same function as a standard polarizer but allows up to nearly 30 percent more light to pass through, says U electrical and computer engineering associate professor Rajesh Menon. The study is being published in November's issue of Optica, a new journal from The Optical Society.
Sunlight as well as most ambient light emits half of its energy as light polarized along a horizontal axis and the other half along a vertical axis. A polarizer typically allows only half of the light to pass because it's permitting either the horizontal or vertical energy to go through, but not both. Meanwhile, the other half is reflected back or absorbed, but the resulting image is much darker. Polarizers are widely used by photographers, for example, to reduce glare in the image. They also are used in LCD displays to regulate what light passes through to create images on the screen."When you take a picture and put the polarized filter on, you are trying to get rid of glare," Menon says. "But most polarizers will eliminate anywhere from to 60 to 70 percent of the light. You can see it with your eyes."
Yet with Menon's new polarizer, much of the light that normally is reflected back is instead converted to the desired polarized state, he says. The U researchers have been able to pass through about 74 percent of the light, though their goal is to eventually allow all of the light to pass through.LCD displays on devices such as smartphones and tablets have two polarizers that ultimately throw away most of the light when working with the liquid crystal display. "If one can increase that energy efficiency, that is a huge increase on the battery life of your display. Or you can make your display brighter," Menon says.
Menon's team validated their concept using a polarizer that is only 20 by 20 micrometers and tested with only infrared light. But they plan to increase the size of the filter, use it with visible light, and figure out a way to make it more cost effective to manufacture. Menon says the first marketable applications of this technology could be available in five to 10 years. The technology also could be a boon for photographers who want to bring out more detail in their pictures while shooting in low-light situations and for scientists using microscopes and telescopes to visualize obscure phenomenon.
3) Quantum mechanical calculations reveal the hidden states of enzyme active sites:
Enzymes carry out fundamental biological processes such as photosynthesis, nitrogen fixation and respiration, with the help of clusters of metal atoms as "active" sites. But scientists lack basic information about their function because the states thought to be critical to their chemical abilities cannot be experimentally observed. Now, researchers at Princeton University have reported the first direct observation of the electronic states of iron-sulfur clusters, common to many enzyme active sites. Published on August 31 in the journal Nature Chemistry, the states were revealed by computing the complicated quantum mechanical behavior of the electrons in the clusters.
"These complexes were thought of as impossible to model, due to the complexity of the quantum mechanics," said Garnet Chan, the A. Barton Hepburn Professor of Chemistry and corresponding author on the paper.In these systems, the electrons interact strongly with each other, their movements resembling a complicated dance. To reduce the complexity, the researchers drew on a new understanding, gained from fundamental work in quantum information theory, that the motion of the electrons had a special pattern.
"At first glance, the electrons appear to move in a complicated way, but eventually you realize that they only care about what their immediate neighbors are doing, similar to being in a crowded room. This restriction on their behavior leads to important simplifications: the calculations become very difficult rather than impossible -- it's just on the edge of what can be done," Chan said.Using their new method, Chan and coworkers found that iron-sulfur clusters possess an order of magnitude more accessible electronic states than previously reported. The researchers suggested that this unusual richness might explain their ubiquity in biological processes.
This finding, that there are many more available electronic states than previously thought, presents many different chemical possibilities. What if these clusters simultaneously used a combination of mechanisms, instead of the accepted chemical idea that there is one distinct electronic pathway, Chan wondered. To test that idea and learn more about the clusters' behavior, the researchers plan to extend their calculations to observe a chemical transformation in action."If you want to understand why iron-sulfur clusters are a ubiquitous biological motif and how we can create even better synthetic analogs, then you need to know what the electrons are doing," Chan said. "Now we've caught a first glimpse as to what they are getting up to."
4) Heat-conducting plastic: 10 times better than conventional counterparts:
The spaghetti-like internal structure of most plastics makes it hard for them to cast away heat, but a University of Michigan research team has made a plastic blend that does so 10 times better than its conventional counterparts.
Plastics are inexpensive, lightweight and flexible, but because they restrict the flow of heat, their use is limited in technologies like computers, smartphones, cars or airplanes--places that could benefit from their properties but where heat dissipation is important. The new U-M work could lead to light, versatile, metal-replacement materials that make possible more powerful electronics or more efficient vehicles, among other applications.The new material, which is actually a blend, results from one of the first attempts to engineer the flow of heat in an amorphous polymer. A polymer is a large molecule made of smaller repeating molecules. Plastics are common synthetic polymers.
Previous efforts to boost heat transfer in polymers have relied on metal or ceramic filler materials or stretching molecule chains into straight lines. Those approaches can be difficult to scale up and can increase a material's weight and cost, make it more opaque, and affect how it conducts electricity and reflects light. The U-M material has none of those drawbacks, and it's easy to manufacture with conventional methods, the researchers say.
"Researchers have paid a lot of attention to designing polymers that conduct electricity well for organic LEDs and solar cells, but engineering of thermal properties by molecular design has been largely neglected, even though there are many current and future polymer applications for which heat transfer is important," said Kevin Pipe, U-M associate professor of mechanical engineering and corresponding author of a paper on the work published in the current issue of Nature Materials.
Pipe led the project with Jinsang Kim, another corresponding author and associate professor of materials science and engineering.Heat energy travels through substances as molecular vibrations. For heat to efficiently move through a material, it needs continuous pathways of strongly bound atoms and molecules. Otherwise, it gets trapped, meaning the substance stays hot."The polymer chains in most plastics are like spaghetti," Pipe said. "They're long and don't bind well to each other. When heat is applied to one end of the material, it causes the molecules there to vibrate, but these vibrations, which carry the heat, can't move between the chains well because the chains are so loosely bound together."
The Pipe and Kim research groups devised a way to strongly link long polymer chains of a plastic called polyacrylic acid (PAA) with short strands of another called polyacryloyl piperidine (PAP). The new blend relies on hydrogen bonds that are 10-to-100 times stronger than the forces that loosely hold together the long strands in most other plastics.
"We improved those connections so the heat energy can find continuous pathways through the material," Kim said. "There's still a long way to go, but this is a very important step we made to understand how to engineer plastics in this way. Ten times better is still a lot lower heat conductivity than metals, but we've opened the door to continue improving."To arrive at these results, the researchers blended PAP plastic strands separately with three other polymers that they knew would form hydrogen bonds in different ways. Then they tested how each conducted heat."We found that some samples conducted heat exceptionally well," said Gun-Ho Kim, first author of the paper and a postdoctoral fellow in mechanical engineering and materials science and engineering. "By performing numerous measurements of the polymer blend structures and their physical properties, we learned many important material design principles that govern heat transfer in amorphous polymers."Two other first authors are Dongwook Lee and Apoorv Shanker, graduate students in macromolecular science and engineering. The paper is titled "High thermal conductivity in amorphous polymer blends by engineered interchain interactions."
5) DNA survives critical entry into Earth's atmosphere:
The genetic material DNA can survive a flight through space and re-entry into Earth's atmosphere -- and still pass on genetic information. A team of scientists from UZH obtained these astonishing results during an experiment on the TEXUS-49 research rocket mission.Applied to the outer shell of the payload section of a rocket using pipettes, small, double-stranded DNA molecules flew into space from Earth and back again. After the launch, space flight, re-entry into Earth's atmosphere and landing, the so-called plasmid DNA molecules were still found on all the application points on the rocket from the TEXUS-49 mission. And this was not the only surprise: For the most part, the DNA salvaged was even still able to transfer genetic information to bacterial and connective tissue cells. "This study provides experimental evidence that the DNA's genetic information is essentially capable of surviving the extreme conditions of space and the re-entry into Earth's dense atmosphere," says study head Professor Oliver Ullrich from the University of Zurich's Institute of Anatomy.
Spontaneous second mission
The experiment called DARE (DNA atmospheric re-entry experiment) resulted from a spontaneous idea: UZH scientists Dr. Cora Thiel and Professor Ullrich were conducting experiments on the TEXUS-49 mission to study the role of gravity in the regulation of gene expression in human cells using remote-controlled hardware inside the rocket's payload. During the mission preparations, they began to wonder whether the outer structure of the rocket might also be suitable for stability tests on so-called biosignatures. "Biosignatures are molecules that can prove the existence of past or present extraterrestrial life," explains Dr. Thiel. And so the two UZH researchers launched a small second mission at the European rocket station Esrange in Kiruna, north of the Arctic Circle.
DNA survives the most extreme conditions
The quickly conceived additional experiment was originally supposed to be a pretest to check the stability of biomarkers during spaceflight and re-entry into the atmosphere. Dr. Thiel did not expect the results it produced: "We were completely surprised to find so much intact and functionally active DNA." The study reveals that genetic information from the DNA can essentially withstand the most extreme conditions.
Various scientists believe that DNA could certainly reach us from outer space as Earth is not insulated: in extraterrestrial material made of dust and meteorites, for instance, around 100 tons of which hits our planet every day.
This extraordinary stability of DNA under space conditions also needs to be factored into the interpretion of results in the search for extraterrestrial life: "The results show that it is by no means unlikely that, despite all the safety precautions, space ships could also carry terrestrial DNA to their landing site. We need to have this under control in the search for extraterrestrial life," points out Ullrich
6) Darwin 2.0 :
Birds that are related, such as Darwin's finches, but that vary in beak size and behavior specially evolved to their habitat are examples of a process called speciation. It has long been thought that dramatic changes in a landscape like the formation of the Andes Mountain range or the Amazon River is the main driver that initiates species to diverge. However, a recent study shows that speciation occurred much later than these dramatic geographical changes. Researchers from LSU's Museum of Natural Science have found that time and a species' ability to move play greater parts in the process of speciation. This research was recently published in the print edition of Nature. "The extraordinary diversity of birds in South America is usually attributed to big changes in the landscape over geological time, but our study suggests that prolonged periods of landscape stability are more important," said Robb Brumfield, LSU Museum of Natural Science director and Roy Paul Daniels professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, one of the lead authors.
Brumfield and his colleagues examined the genealogy of 27 species of birds in the most bio-diverse region in the world, the Neotropics, which extends from southern Mexico through Central America to southern Brazil and includes the Amazon rainforest."By using detailed sampling of many bird lineages, we were able to get a clearer and larger picture of when and how species formed within those lineages," Brumfield said.The genetic data showed multiple accounts of species divergence, from nine to 29 different instances across the Andes Mountains that varied over time. This shows that rather than being the primary cause of speciation, the formation of the Andes Mountains had an indirect effect on diversification as a semi-permeable barrier.
The researchers then investigated how the history and ecology affected speciation among the 27 lineages of birds. They discovered the longer length of time a species can inhabit an area, the more likely it will disperse and diverge. Also, the less mobility a species has, the more likely it will diverge as well. For example, birds restricted to the forest floor showed significantly higher species diversity than birds that inhabited the forest's open canopy. These findings have conservation ramifications. If a species cannot inhabit the same area for an extended time, it will not have the opportunity to evolve and continue."Our results suggest that human alterations of the landscape can effectively kill the speciation process," Brumfield said.
Movie Release This Week:
Two eccentric scientists struggle to create eternal youth in a world they call “blind to the tragedy of old age.” As they battle their own aging and suffer the losses of loved ones, their scientific journeys ultimately become personal.
Discover the secrets of the most entertaining and mysterious birds in the global espionage game: Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private now must join forces with the chic spy organization, the North Wind, led by Agent Classified (we could tell you his name, but then … you know), voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch to stop the villainous Dr. Octavius Brine, voiced by John Malkovich, from taking over the world.
Six years after the violent death of her husband, Amelia (Essie Davis) is at a loss. She struggles to discipline her 'out of control' 6 year-old, Samuel (Noah Wiseman), a son she finds impossible to love. Samuel's dreams are plagued by a monster he believes is coming to kill them both.When a disturbing storybook called 'The Babadook' turns up at their house, Samuel is convinced that the Babadook is the creature he's been dreaming about. His hallucinations spiral out of control, he becomes more unpredictable and violent. Amelia, genuinely frightened by her son's behaviour, is forced to medicate him.But when Amelia begins to see glimpses of a sinister presence all around her, it slowly dawns on her that the thing Samuel has been warning her about may be real
Fed up with answering to higher-ups, Nick, Dale and Kurt decide to become their own bosses by launching their own business in “Horrible Bosses 2.” But a slick investor soon pulls the rug out from under them. Outplayed and desperate, and with no legal recourse, the three would-be entrepreneurs hatch a misguided plan to kidnap the investor’s adult son and ransom him to regain control of their company in this follow-up to the 2011 hit comedy “Horrible Bosses” that reunites stars Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis as everyone’s favorite working stiffs. Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx and Kevin Spacey also reprise their starring roles, while Chris Pine and Christoph Waltz star as new adversaries standing between the guys and their dreams of success.
Grumpy Cat is a lonely cat living in a mall pet shop. Because she never gets chosen by customers, she develops a sour outlook on life...until one day during the holidays, a very special 12-year-old girl named Chyrstal enters the pet store and falls in love with her after realizing she is the only person who can hear this unique cat talk. As the two develop a close friendship during the holiday rush, Grumpy reluctantly thwarts the kidnapping of an exotic dog she dislikes, and on Christmas Eve rescues Chyrstal after the mall closes. Through her adventures, will Grumpy learn the true meaning of Christmas? Or will it be, in her words, the "Worst. Christmas. Ever?"
Political News This Week:
1) 3 soldiers killed on LoC as Modi-Sharif shake hands in Nepal:
In a terror strike on the eve of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Jammu Division, militants wearing combat uniform on Thursday attacked two Army bunkers close to Indo-Pak border leaving 10 people including three civilians and as many army men dead in a fierce gun battle with security forces.The dead also included four heavily armed militants who were holed up in a bunker after they were suspected to have infiltrated into Arnia sector from across the border in Jammu district to carry out a fidayeen attack.
At least one militant was still taking refuge in a bunker and the encounter was underway, police said, adding that tanks were also deployed in a possible step to blast the bunker. The bunkers are abandoned and used only during war.Modi is due to address a rally in Udhampur district, which is 100 km from Arnia. The attack also coincided with the SAARC summit in Kathmandu attended by Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif."3 civilians have lost their lives along with 3 army personnel, my condolences to the families. 4 militants have been neutralised in Arnia," Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted.
"The timing of the attack in Arnia can't be a coincidence," Omar said, adding "Some things will never change, SAARC summit is on, Ind & Pak PMs (sic) at the same venue and a fierce encounter breaks out in Jammu."Omar said all police nakas along the National Highway in Jammu and other sensitive locations have been put on high alert and the situation is being closely monitored."As per initial reports from the area, a group of four to five militants infiltrated into Arnia belt from across the border this morning and resorted to firing," a police officer said, adding the security grid of Army, BSF and Police swung into action and launched a cordon and search for the militants.
An Army official said the militants changed their dresses and wore combat uniforms near a bridge and resorted to firing before entering two bunkers of its 92 Infantry Brigade at a security embankment in Pindi Khattar belt close to the IB.Security personnel recovered the belongings of militants that included their dresses, blue coloured belts and shoes, an Army official said.A car has also been seized from the area which might have been used by the militants, the official said.The official said that militants had either come in this vehicle to carry out the attack or were supposed to take it after infiltrating into Indian territory and take the National Highway route as part of their terror plans.Inspector General of BSF, Jammu frontier Rakesh Sharma, however, ruled out infiltration of any militant group at the IB in Jammu sector, saying no breach of fencing was seen anywhere.
"There were no tell-tale signs that anybody has sneaked from this side. We have surveyed 20 km along the border in this area, we have seen no such signs. Here everything is alright. There is nothing wrong with the border fencing. Border fencing is totally intact, border lighting is perfectly working and surveillance grid is intact," Sharma said.
The three army personnel, who lost their lives in the encounter, have been identified as Lance Naik Kulvinder Singh, Lance Naik Jagsir Singh and para trooper Balwinder Singh.
A senior District administration official said that one of the deceased civilian has been identified as Sunil Sabarwal.IGP Jammu Rajesh Kumar, who briefed the media, said that exchange of fire was taking places intermittently."At-least four militants had come of the bunker but their numbers could also be higher," he said, adding that additional forces including police units, CRPF and others have been brought in and searches were being conducted.Police teams have been sent in all the border areas to verify whether any splinter group might not have escaped, he said and added that all districts have been put on alert.He also said investigations were on about how the militants reached there.
"We have conducted detailed survey of IB and indepth area along it but no signs of their infiltration were found," he said.Meanwhile, a suspected militant was arrested after security forces foiled an infiltration bid this morning near the LoC in Rajouri district.Troops noticed some suspicious movement near LoC in Leharan Company Operating Base in Lam Battalion area of Rajouri district around 0630 hours today, a senior army officer said.The security personnel responded immediately and foiled an infiltration bid, he said.
During the search operation, a suspected militant was apprehended and one AK-47 assault rifle with 30 rounds, one Pakistan made pistol and Rs 8,100 Pakistan currency were seized from his possession.He was identified as Adul Qayoomi alias Punjabi, he said.Prime Minister Narendra Modi is slated to campaign for BJP in second phase of assembly elections in Udhampur and Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday.Modi will address a rally in Udhampur district, which is 100 km from Arnia.According to Kashmir BJP spokesman Farooq Khan, Modi will address rallies in Udhampur district and border district of Poonch at 12 PM and 2:30 pm on Friday.Following the terror attack, BSF has beefed up the security along the border and also in Jammu city, Udhampur and Poonch areas.Army had on Thursday said militants were out to disturb the assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir but the forces were on alert to foil their designs.Army sources said in Delhi that the civilians could have been killed prior to the attack. It was unlikely that the civilians were killed in army firing, the sources maintained.
2) ISIS executes 39 Indian workers: TV report:
In shocking news, 39 of the 41 Indian construction workers, who were abducted by ISIS militants, have reportedly been executed.The men, who were working for a Turkish construction company in Mosul, were abducted in mid-June when the jihadists overran the Iraqi region.
ABP News quoted two Bangladeshi construction workers as saying that they had met Harjeel Masih, the only Indian captive out of the group to escape from the clutches of the IS militants.Harjeet reportedly informed them that he witnessed the execution of all his Indian co-workers.The duo quoted by ABP News is believed to be part of the 51 Bangladeshis who were kidnapped along with the group of Indian workers.
The ABP News report said: 'The masked militants holding pistols and Qurans in their hands segregated the workers from both the companies in two groups. After scrutinizing the Bangladeshis and knowing about their faith, militants told them that they would be taken to Erbil soon. While the Indians were kept in a different who sensed they too would be released. Their mobiles and passports were all confiscated by the militants. All of them were given just one roti at 10 am during the entire day.'
'However, Harjeet told Shafi (one of the two Bangladeshis) that on June 15, they took all 40 Indians along with him to a hilly terrain where they were shot. Harjeet too suffered two bullet injuries but acted as if he was dead. To confirm that even Harjeet was dead, they kicked him, but since they didn’t observe any movement in his body they presumed that he was dead.'The external affairs ministry is yet to verifying the killing.
3) Badaun sisters committed suicide, were not raped: CBI:
In a new twist to the sensational Badaun case involving two teenaged girls, the Central Bureau of Investigation on Thursday rejected the rape and murder angle given by the Uttar Pradesh police, holding that they had committed suicide by hanging themselves from a tree.
The agency, which started its probe in June, will file its final report before the trial court next week, CBI sources said in New Delhi.They said a recommendation will be made for probe against state police officers for their botched up investigation.The final report will also mention questionable actions of fathers of the girls, an uncle and main witness Nazru, also a distant relative, leaving it to the court to take further action, they said.In Badaun, the families of the girls -- who were cousins -- rejected the CBI conclusion. They sought the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ensure an independent and fair probe."The CBI has not explained why they would commit suicide. If we don't get justice we will kill ourselves," said the father of one of the girls."How is it possible that the girls could have committed suicide together from a tall tree... I appeal to Modiji to ensure that we get justice," he said.
The girls, who were 14 and 15, were found hanging from a mango tree near their village on May 28, a day after they were reported missing.The CBI said it has based its conclusions on the basis of forensic reports received from three-member medical board, Central Forensic Sciences Laboratory, Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, FSL Gandhinagar among others."Based on around 40 scientific reports, CBI has concluded that the two minor girls in the Badaun case had not been raped and murdered as had been alleged in the FIR. Investigation has concluded that it is a case of suicide," CBI spokesperson Kanchan Prasad said in Delhi.CBI claims that the two girls had allegedly committed suicide at about 2 am on May 28 morning even as frantic efforts were being made by their families to trace them in the village.The agency is of the view that girls took the extreme step when Nazru caught the elder one with prime accused Pappu Yadav in an objectionable position even as the younger sister was keeping vigil.
The girls probably feared social stigma and ended their lives, the sources said."The medical report from multi-agency medical board, corroborated by team of doctors which conducted first post-mortem during their examination, conclusively says that girls had committed suicide," a senior CBI official said.
CBI sources said there was no evidence of use of force on girls' bodies, sexual assault was ruled out by CDFD Hyderabad as there was no male DNA on their clothes, while the blood from younger girl's private part was due to menstrual cycle.The sources said suicide was confirmed because of ligature mark due to hanging, presence of fecal matter in perineum region and tongue was slightly protruded, which is common in suicidal hanging.During the probe the team, used live dummies (girls) of same age and height to reconstruct the crime scene and found that mango tree on which body was found was the most "climbable" among the 13 other trees.The agency also took consideration 400 phone calls between the girl and Pappu.
4) Huge quantity of explosives recovered in Guwahati:
A large quantity of explosives was recovered on Thursday from a vehicle in the capital city where security has been tightened ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit on November 29.Three cartons containing gelatin sticks, detonators and cordex wire hidden inside gunny bags were recovered during routine checking of vehicles on the Gauahati-Shillong Road in Dispur police station area here in the early hours today, City Senior Superintendent of Police A P Tiwari said.
The vehicle was coming from Meghalaya and its driver and only passenger have been detained for interrogation, Tiwari said.The explosives, included 1800 packets of detonators, 30 packets of gelatin sticks and 12 packets of cordex wire rolls, Dispur police station officer Incharge said.The driver of the vehicle told police that he was handed over the 3 cartons at Aizawl to be delivered at the ticket counter of a taxi stand in the Christian Basti area of Guwahati, police said.The detained passenger claimed before reporters that he was not connected with the explosives as he had only boarded the share taxi as a passenger after buying a ticket to come to his home town.
He also said that two other passengers travelling with him from Aizawl had got off at Silchar in Barak Valley of south Assam before the vehicle travelled onward through Meghalaya to reach Guwahati in the Brahmaputra Valley.
All the 21 police stations in the city have been put on high-alert while all the private and public transport vehicles are being checked. Vigil has been mounted on all surface and river routes to and from the city. Police have mounted surveillance in all construction sites at important locations in the city suspecting that the ULFA (I) might engage some vulnerable construction workers to trigger blast on its behalf.
5) After black umbrellas, TMC brings black shawls to Parliament :
After black umbrellas, it was black shawls that Trinamool Congress members used in Lok Sabha on Thursday to rake up the issue of black money.
As soon as the Question Hour commenced, TMC members entered the House draped in black shawls. They raised slogans like ‘kala dhan wapas lao’ (bring back black money) before taking seats.Unlike earlier occasions, they did not disrupt the proceedings on Thursday.
Anguished over display of slogan-written umbrellas inside Lok Sabha by TMC members, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan had on Wednesday warned them not to force her take action against erring parliamentarians.
“There are provisions for disciplinary action against erring members. We are the ones who should be seen as ideal people... Let me not take action. Allow me to run the House smoothly without taking any action,” she had said.
Her comments came after Trinamool Congress members on Tuesday brought in black umbrellas with anti-government slogans painted on them to highlight the demand for bringing back black money stashed away abroad.
6) PM Modi returns after successful SAARC meet:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned to the national capital on Thursday after a successful three-day visit to Nepal capital Kathmandu, where he attended the 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit.During his visit to Kathmandu, Prime Minister Modi also had bilateral interactions with leaders of six SAARC member nations, as part of his agenda to develop closer neighbourly ties on a priority basis. As expected he did not meet with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the summit.Upon his arrival in the Nepal capital, the Prime Minister took to Twitter to express his feelings about being in Nepal for the second time in three months since assuming office.
"Wonderful to be in Nepal again! I can never forget the warmth with which I have been welcomed here," he wrote.During meetings with his Nepali counterpart Sushil Koirala, Prime Minister Modi witnessed the signing of many memorandums of understanding and agreements between the two nations, including ones on tourism and youth exchange, and a motor vehicle agreement.During the meeting between the two leaders, three twin-cities agreements were also signed -between Ayodhya and Janakpur; between Kathmandu and Varanasi; and between Lumbini and Bodh Gaya.Prime Minister Modi also handed over the Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter Mark III to the Nepalese Army.
Prime Minister Modi also inaugurated a Rs.150 crore trauma centre in Nepal and launched the Kathmandu to New Delhi bus service.
In the SAARC Summit, the leaders of the SAARC nations reaffirmed that they were determined to deepen regional integration for peace and prosperity by promoting mutual trust, amity, understanding, cooperation and partnership amongst each other.
Prime Minister Modi also urged the SAARC nations to fulfil the pledge taken by them to combat terror and trans-national crimes."As we remember the horror of the terror attack in Mumbai in 2008, we feel the endless pain of lost lives. Let us work together to fulfil the pledge we have taken to combat terrorism and trans-national crimes," he said in his speech at the SAARC Summit.On the sidelines of SAARC, Prime Minister Modi also held bilateral talks with the leaders of five other member nations.
"The prime minister had bilateral engagements with the leaders of five other nations -the Bhutan Prime Minister, the Bangladesh Prime Minister, the Afghanistan President, the Maldives President and the Sri Lankan President. Prime Minister Modi has invited Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay to visit India, in January in view of 'Vibrant Gujarat' event, to which the latter was very keen," Ministry of External Affairs official spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told the media."This was the first meeting between Prime Minister Modi and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, and the Prime Minister extended him an invitation to visit India at an early date. Prime Minister Modi and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had an extensive discussion on issue of security and terrorism," he added.This was Prime Minister Modi's second visit to Nepal in 4 months.
Sports News This Week:
1) Supreme Court demands termination of CSK; unhappy with Dhoni's dual role:
The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the suspended chief of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, Narayanaswami Srinivasan, “who really owns” the Indian Premier League franchise Chennai Super Kings.It also expressed displeasure over India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni holding an important position in Srinivasan's company, India Cements, saying the "dual role is a matter of concern".
- The IPL spot-fixing saga
The apex court asked Srinivasan to explain how there was no conflict of interest, as he was BCCI president and India Cements-owned IPL team CSK. He was also asked to furnish details of shareholding of India Cements and the composition of its Board members.Reports also suggest that the Supreme Court wants the CSK franchise disqualified without any further inquiry."Act immediately on the Mudgal report and disqualify CSK."In the face of so many ambiguities, isn't it easier to disqualify CSK?" it asked. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court said Srinivasan's son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan's role in the IPL betting and spot-fixing scandal seemed like "insider trading" and agreed to hear a plea for making public the names of cricketers, who were mentioned in the Mudgal report.
"If Meiyappan was leaking information and someone else was putting bet then it is like insider trading," a bench of justices T S Thakur and F M I Kalifulla said, when it was submitted that Meiyappan was a part of Chennai Super Kings and always with team members at all functions, whether it was dug-out or making team strategy.
The bench also raised questions on why the second report of the Mudgal Commiittee was silent on the alleged cover up of Meiyappan by the CSK owner, India Cements.
Earlier, on Monday, it slammed the Board of Control for Cricket in India, questioning the return of Srinivasan as its president.
‘BCCI must uphold glory of the game. If you allow these things to happen, then you are killing the game of cricket, the court told the BCCI,’ it said as it took up the IPL betting report filed by the Justice Mudgal Committee.
‘You have to address question of conflict of interest as head of BCCI and also as owner of IPL team, whose official is found to be involved. The conflict of interest is a serious issue. IPL is a mutually beneficial society between IPL and BCCI,’ it added.
2) Australia cricketer Phillip Hughes succumbs to head injury:
Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes died in hospital in Sydney on Thursday, two days after the international batsman was struck on the head by a ball during a domestic match.
RIP Phillip Hughes
Governing body Cricket Australia (CA) confirmed the 25-year-old had lost his fight for life, casting a pall over a cricket-mad nation which is co-hosting the World Cup early next year."We are extremely sad to announce that Phillip Hughes has passed away at the age of 25," CA said on its Twitter feed.
"Our thoughts go out to Phillip's family, friends, and the entire cricket community on this incredibly sad day."He was not in pain before he passed and was surrounded by his family and close friends."As a cricket community, we mourn his loss and extend our deepest sympathies to Phillips family and friends at this incredibly sad time."
Cricket Australia was due to conduct a news conference at St Vincent's hospital in Sydney at 5 pm (0600 GMT).The Australian flag was lowered to half-mast over the Sydney Cricket Ground where Hughes suffered the horrific injury on Tuesday when batting for state side South Australia.
He was struck on the head by a short-pitched delivery from New South Wales paceman Sean Abbott, a devastating blow that experts compared to the trauma suffered by car crash victims.After being treated at the stadium, Hughes, who played 26 Tests and 25 one-day internationals, was rushed to hospital to have emergency surgery to relieve pressure on his brain.News of Hughes's death brought a fresh wave of tributes on social media, with past and present players conveying their shock and grief.
The tragic announcement followed calls by former players for the Australian team to abandon the first Test of the four-match series against India next week.Former test batsman Dean Jones told Melbourne radio station 3AW he thought the December 4 match in Brisbane could not go ahead."I don't think any of the boys will want to play," he said.
The news travelled quickly through the global cricket community, with the Pakistan Test match against New Zealand suspended out of respect for the player.Hughes death would prove a "game-changer" for the so-called 'gentleman's game' of cricket, pundits said, ranging from the standards for head protection to the practice of short-pitched fast bowling.Cricket balls are roughly the same shape and size of a baseball but harder and heavier. Fast bowlers regularly bowl at speeds of 140kph and short-pitched balls, known as 'bouncers', are often used as a tactic to intimidate batsmen.Questions about the response time of ambulances dispatched to the stadium have also been raised.
The head of New South Wales Ambulance was to be hauled before the state health minister Jillian Skinner on Thursday after the ambulance authority issued conflicting statements about their response times.The arrival of the first ambulance took 15 minutes, NSW Ambulance clarified in a statement on Wednesday.The state's median response time for the highest priority ‘life-threatening cases’ was just under eight minutes in 2013-14, according the authority's statistics.Dr Peter Larkins, a leading sports physician said: "Time is of the essence when your brain has suffered trauma."
Born in the small town of Macksville in New South Wales state, the pint-sized Hughes grew up on a banana plantation and made his first-class debut at 18.He took the cricketing world by storm when he made his test debut in 2009, scoring a mountain of runs despite his unconventional technique.
Hughes would betray a vulnerability to short-pitched bowling and though he was in and out of the Australian team over the following years, he never complained publicly about his plight as a fringe player.He had scored 63 runs before being struck on Tuesday, his last innings said to be an audition to replace injured Australia captain Michael Clarke for the first Test.
3) Pele in intensive care, condiition improving:
Retired Brazilian soccer great Pele is in the intensive care unit in a Sao Paulo hospital where he is being treated for a urinary tract infection, but his condition is improving, the hospital said on Thursday.
The Albert Einstein Hospital said Pele, 74, was receiving renal support treatment, which helps kidneys to filter waste products from the blood, after he had an operation to remove kidney stones earlier this month.A series of tweets in English from the former player's account aimed to calm concerns over his health. One read: "Want to let you know I am doing fine."Pele's manager, Paul Kemsley, said in a statement: "He is expected to make a quick and full recovery from a minor infection caused by his recent successful surgery."
Earlier on Thursday, Pele taken into a "special care" unit in a Sao Paulo hospital after his health worsened, three days after being admitted with a urinary infection, the hospital confirmed."Edson Arantes do Nascimento (Pele) remains in hospital. To receive the best care he was transferred in order to be monitored in a special care unit," read a statement released by the Albert Einstein hospital in Sao Paulo.
Pele underwent surgery for kidney stones on November 13 before being released two days later.After confirming that he had been taken in on Monday, the hospital had said that Pele remained in hospital with tests showing the presence of a urinary infection.Two years ago, on November 15, 2012, he underwent a hip operation in the same hospital.
Pele, nicknamed O Rei (The King), was born in a humble home in the city of Tres Coracoes, but is considered by many as the greatest footballer in history with his exploits for Brazil and a career which saw him score 1,281 goals in 1,363 games.He scored 77 goals in 91 games for his country and won his first World Cup aged just 17, scoring twice in the 1958 final win over hosts Sweden.
4) I couldn’t imagine I could break any record, says Lionel Messi:
Lionel Messi has yet another reason to be considered among the very best to have played football as he became the Spanish league’s all-time leading scorer with 253 on Saturday.Messi notched a hat trick to lead Barcelona’s 5-1 rout of Sevilla and surpass the previous mark of 251 goals that Athletic Bilbao’s Telmo Zarra set in 271 La Liga games from 1940-55.
Playing in his 289th league game, the 27-year-old Messi first equaled Zarra’s record in the 21st minute and then beat it in the 72nd at Camp Nou Stadium. The Argentine went on to get his treble in the 78th with his 253rd league goal.In a league that has featured some of the world’s most talented attacking players through its 83 seasons, including Alfredo di Stefano, Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff and Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi stands alone as its most potent scorer after bettering a milestone that had stood untouched for almost 60 years.
Messi thanked his supporters on Facebook and posted a video of his first league goal scored on May 1, 2005.“When I scored this goal, I couldn’t imagine I could break any record, let alone this one previously held by the great Telmo Zarra” Messi wrote.“I was only able to achieve this because of the support I have had from so many people during my time here and I would like to dedicate this achievement to you all.”Messi debuted in the league on Oct. 16, 2004 at the age of 16. And just over 10 years later he has eclipsed Zarra.“I never thought anyone would reach Zarra, who played in an era with more forwards than defenders,” Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said.
“(Messi) is beyond comparison, one of a kind, never to be seen again. We are lucky to have him here, to enjoy him and to see where he leaves this record.”Messi’s latest scoring feat comes after he equaled Raul Gonzalez as the Champions League all-time scorer with 71 goals this month.The record also arrives at a perfect time to thrill Messi’s fans who were worried by his recent remarks that he might be questioning his long-term commitment to the club. His father-agent has since dismissed such concerns.
“Messi! Messi! Messi!” rang out through the Camp Nou in the final minutes, and again after a post-match video in Messi’s honor.The team lined up to form an honor guard as Messi jogged off the pitch smiling broadly.“I’m happy for Leo,” Barcelona captain Xavi Hernandez said. “It’s an incredible record. He deserves it as a person and as a player. He showed again that he is happy here.”
5) Indians' tour game cancelled after Hughes' death:
India's second tour match in Adelaide has been cancelled as Australian cricket takes a 'grief now, sport later' approach following the death of Phillip Hughes. Cricket Australia must also decide over the coming days how to approach the first Test at the Gabba, which is due to start on Thursday next week.Four of the players picked in Australia's Test squad were on the field at the SCG at the time when Hughes was struck by an ultimately fatal blow during the Sheffield Shield game between New South Wales and South Australia on Tuesday. The full round of Shield matches had been abandoned by the close of Tuesday.
After Hughes died on Thursday afternoon, Cricket Australia's CEO James Sutherland said no thought had yet been given to the Brisbane Test and how Australian cricket would move forward in the immediate future. As well as the Test match, consideration will also need to be given to an appropriate farewell for Hughes."The Test match next week, we haven't thought that far ahead and we really don't think it is appropriate at this time," Sutherland said. "The whole of Australian cricket is grieving and all we want to do is provide the Hughes family all the support we possibly can right now. In the fullness of time we'll think about what's ahead, but to be honest we really haven't thought that far ahead.
"Phillip has only died this afternoon. The important thing is to provide support for everyone. In time people will start to think about what's next and obviously a funeral is one of those things. But we'll certainly make sure the Australian public get their opportunity to pay their respects to Phillip in an appropriate way in the foreseeable future."
In the hours after Sutherland spoke, it was confirmed that India's tour match against a Cricket Australia XI had been cancelled. Initially, the two-day match had been scheduled for Friday-Saturday, and then it was delayed until the weekend. By Thursday evening, it had been abandoned entirely."Today we were reminded that cricket is just a game and it is the characters that play the game that make it so special," Pat Howard, Cricket Australia's executive general manager of team performance, said. "We have spoken to the players and the ACA [Australian Cricketers' Association] and have made the decision based on the best interest of all concerned.
"Several of the CA XI players have returned home to seek support and solace from their family, friends and team-mates. We appreciate the support and cooperation shown by the Board of Control for Cricket in India, team management and the India players who have been nothing but respectful during this tragic time."The India squad was set to train in the Adelaide Oval nets on Friday, but not on the ground proper, as a mark of respect to Hughes. After Hughes died, the India squad released a statement offering its condolences."The touring Indian team joins the cricketing fraternity across the world in offering condolences to the family of Phil Hughes, who has departed from our midst," the statement said. "In this moment of grief, we pray that they are bestowed with divine strength to overcome this unfortunate tragedy.
"As fellow cricketers we cherish the memories of playing along with him and deeply respect his contribution to the game of cricket."Grief was also felt around the world: in Sharjah, the second day of the third Test between Pakistan and New Zealand was abandoned after news of Hughes' death was received. The match will resume on Friday and will be extended by a day.It was also confirmed that Sydney's grade cricket, from first grade through to fifth grade, would not go ahead this weekend "as a mark of respect following the tragic passing of Phillip Hughes". Hughes played for the Western Suburbs club in Sydney's first-grade competition after moving to Sydney from the country town of Macksville.
Book Of This Week:
Compulsion (The Heirs of Watson Island #1) by Martina Boone
Three plantations. Two wishes. One ancient curse.
All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lives with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead--a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.
Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family's twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.
Martina Boone was born in Prague and spoke several languages before learning English. Her first teacher in the U.S. made fun of her for not pronouncing the "wh" sound right, so she set out to master "all the words”—she's still working on that! In the meantime she’s writing contemporary fantasy set in the kinds of magical places she'd love to visit.
If you like romance steeped in mystery, mayhem, Spanish moss, and a bit of magic, she hopes you'll look forward to meeting Barrie, Eight, Cassie, Pru, Seven and the other characters of Watson Island.