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Sunday, 14 December 2014

Subhaditya News Channel Presents Science,Movie, Political,Sports And Book News This Week (125)

Science News This Week:

1) Mega volcanism indicted in dinosaur demise:

Dating places climate-altering Deccan eruptions during mass extinction.New dating of a colossal series of volcanic outpourings bolsters the idea that the Chicxulub asteroid impact had help in wiping out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.

Using crystals embedded in lava layers, geologists have deduced the most precise timing yet for the massive Deccan eruptions that poured out hundreds of thousands of cubic kilometers of molten rock in West India. The most intense volcanic activity began about 250,000 years before the Chicxulub impact and continued for another roughly 500,000 years after it, the researchers report online December 11 in Science. The finding supports the hypothesis that climate disruptions caused by the eruptions played a major role in the dinosaurs’ extinction, says study coauthor Gerta Keller, a paleontologist at Princeton University.

2) Oldest horned dinosaur species in North America found in Montana:

Scientists have named the first definite horned dinosaur species from the Early Cretaceous in North America, according to a study published December 10, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Andrew Farke from Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology and colleagues. The limited fossil record for neoceratopsian--or horned dinosaurs--from the Early Cretaceous in North America restricts scientists' ability to reconstruct the early evolution of this group. The authors of this study have discovered a dinosaur skull in Montana that represents the first horned dinosaur from the North American Early Cretaceous that they can identify to the species level. The authors named the dinosaur Aquilops americanus, which exhibits definitive neoceratopsian features and is closely related to similar species in Asia. The skull is comparatively small, measuring 84 mm long, and is distinguished by several features, including a strongly hooked rostral bone, or beak-like structure, and an elongated and sharply pointed cavity over the cheek region. When alive, the authors estimate it was about the size of a crow.

This discovery, combined with neoceratopsian fossil records from elsewhere, allows the authors to support a late Early Cretaceous (~113-105 million years ago) intercontinental migratory event between Asia and North America, as well as support for a complex set of migratory events for organisms between North America and Asia later in the Cretaceous. However, to better reconstruct the timing and mode of these events, additional fieldwork will be necessary.

"Aquilops lived nearly 20 million years before the next oldest horned dinosaur named from North America," said Andrew Farke. "Even so, we were surprised that it was more closely related to Asian animals than those from North America."

3) Texas Tech biologist leads group that mapped crocodilian genomes:

A Texas Tech University biologist led a team of more than 50 scientists who mapped the genomes of three crocodilians. By mapping these genomes, scientists may better understand the evolution of birds, which are the toothy predators' closest living relatives, said David Ray, an associate professor of biology. The team completed genomes of a crocodile, an alligator and a true gharial to complete the genomic family portrait."One of the major finds in our case was that crocodilian genomes change very slowly when compared to birds," Ray said. "We compared both birds and crocodilians to turtles, which are the closest living relatives of the group that includes both birds and crocodilians. We found that they evolved slowly also. The best explanation for this is that the common ancestor of all three was a 'slow evolver,' which in turn suggests that rapid evolution is something that evolved independently in birds."

Research began in 2009 as an attempt to map only 1 percent of crocodilian DNA. However, shortly after starting, the price for mapping a million bases dropped from $1,000 eventually down to $1."We had proposed to sequence about 2.4 million bases from the three crocodilians in the original proposal," Ray said. "By the time we got the funds, it became clear that we could easily accomplish a thousand times that much and could afford to sequence an entire genome of 3 billion bases."

Ray said that when biologists look at a group of organisms, they look for what makes that group unique as well as what all members of one group of organisms share that other groups do not. The best way to do that is to examine their closest relatives."Technically, birds' closest relatives are the dinosaurs," he said. "So we can only look at their fossils and this can provide only limited information on their biology when compared to examining organisms that are alive today. We get insight into differences in behavior, structures that don't fossilize, and in our case, the makeup of the genome."Ray said he and other scientists were surprised to see how genetically uniform the alligators that the group sequenced were. Initially, the group suspected severe hunting during most of the 20th century may be to blame."Because alligators underwent a severe population decline, we first thought that might be what happened," he said. "However, we see the same pattern in all three species and the likelihood that all three were subject to the same genetic bottlenecks is small. We suggested instead that change just occurs slowly in crocodilians. In other words, it wasn't that the genetic differences were reduced because of overhunting. Rather, the amount of variation in crocodilians is low because change simply occurs slowly in these genomes."The DNA in alligators, crocodiles and gharials is about 93 percent identical across the genome. By comparison, a human shares about 93 percent of his or her DNA with a macaque."The difference is that humans and macaques shared a common ancestor around 23 million years ago while alligators and crocodiles shared a common ancestor in the much more distant past, around 90 million years ago," he said. "That means that things are changing in primate genomes about four times faster than in crocodilians."

Ed Green, an assistant professor of biomolecular engineering at University of California, Santa Cruz, has worked on several mammalian genomes, including that of Neanderthals. He said he didn't expect such slow genetic changes seen in these reptiles."Crocodilian genomes are really interesting because they appear to have changed so little over time," Green said. "From the perspective of someone who knows a lot about mammalian genomes, reptiles are strange in how static they are. Crocs and gators are especially static."Like most genome projects, the assembly and annotation is only the beginning. There is some fascinating biology in Crocodylia like temperature-dependent sex determination. Male and female crocodilians are genetically identical, and we'd love to know how that works. We're also now in the position to start looking hard at the genomes of the common ancestor of crocs and birds. Not much is known about the biology of this creature, called an archosaur. But we may hope to learn a lot about it by reconstructing its genome from the living genomes of its living descendants, the crocs and birds."Their research, largely funded by the National Science Foundation, will appear Friday (Dec. 12) in the peer-reviewed journal, Science.

4) 'Big Bang' of bird evolution mapped: Genes reveal deep histories of bird origins, feathers, flight and song:

The genomes of modern birds tell a story of how they emerged and evolved after the mass extinction that wiped out dinosaurs and almost everything else 66 million years ago. That story is now coming to light, thanks to an ambitious international collaboration that has been underway for four years.The first findings of the Avian Phylogenomics Consortium are being reported nearly simultaneously in 29 papers -- eight papers in a Dec. 12 special issue of Science and 21 more in Genome Biology, GigaScience and other journals.Scientists already knew that the birds who survived the mass extinction experienced a rapid burst of evolution. But the family tree of modern birds has confused biologists for centuries and the molecular details of how birds arrived at the spectacular biodiversity of more than 10,000 species is barely known.

To resolve these fundamental questions, a consortium led by Guojie Zhang of the National Genebank at BGI in China and the University of Copenhagen, Erich D. Jarvis of Duke University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and M. Thomas P. Gilbert of the Natural History Museum of Denmark, has sequenced, assembled and compared full genomes of 48 bird species. The species include the crow, duck, falcon, parakeet, crane, ibis, woodpecker, eagle and others, representing all major branches of modern birds.
"BGI's strong support and four years of hard work by the entire community have enabled us to answer numerous fundamental questions to an unprecedented scale," said Guojie Zhang. "This is the largest whole genomic study across a single vertebrate class to date. The success of this project can only be achieved with the excellent collaboration of all the consortium members.""Although an increasing number of vertebrate genomes are being released, to date no single study has deliberately targeted the full diversity of any major vertebrate group," added Tom Gilbert. "This is precisely what our consortium set out to do. Only with this scale of sampling can scientists truly begin to fully explore the genomic diversity within a full vertebrate class."

"This is an exciting moment," said neuroscientist Erich Jarvis. "Lots of fundamental questions now can be resolved with more genomic data from a broader sampling. I got into this project because of my interest in birds as a model for vocal learning and speech production in humans, and it has opened up some amazing new vistas on brain evolution."This first round of analyses suggests some remarkable new ideas about bird evolution. The first flagship paper published in Science presents a well-resolved new family tree for birds, based on whole-genome data. The second flagship paper describes the big picture of genome evolution in birds. Six other papers in the special issue of Science describe how vocal learning may have independently evolved in a few bird groups and in the human brain's speech regions; how the sex chromosomes of birds came to be; how birds lost their teeth; how crocodile genomes evolved; ways in which singing behavior regulates genes in the brain; and a new method for phylogenic analysis with large-scale genomic data.The Avian Phylogenomics Consortium has so far involved more than 200 scientists hailing from 80 institutions in 20 countries, including the BGI in China, the University of Copenhagen, Duke University, the University of Texas at Austin, the Smithsonian Museum, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Louisiana State University and many others.

A Clearer Picture of the Bird Family Tree
Previous attempts to reconstruct the avian family tree using partial DNA sequencing or anatomical and behavioral traits have met with contradiction and confusion. Because modern birds split into species early and in such quick succession, they did not evolve enough distinct genetic differences at the genomic level to clearly determine their early branching order, the researchers said. To resolve the timing and relationships of modern birds, the consortium authors used whole-genome DNA sequences to infer the bird species tree."In the past, people have been using 10 to 20 genes to try to infer the species relationships," Jarvis said. "What we've learned from doing this whole-genome approach is that we can infer a somewhat different phylogeny [family tree] than what has been proposed in the past. We've figured out that protein-coding genes tell the wrong story for inferring the species tree. You need non-coding sequences, including the intergenic regions. The protein coding sequences, however, tell an interesting story of proteome-wide convergence among species with similar life histories."

This new tree resolves the early branches of Neoaves (new birds) and supports conclusions about some relationships that have been long-debated. For example, the findings support three independent origins of waterbirds. They also indicate that the common ancestor of core landbirds, which include songbirds, parrots, woodpeckers, owls, eagles and falcons, was an apex predator, which also gave rise to the giant terror birds that once roamed the Americas.The whole-genome analysis dates the evolutionary expansion of Neoaves to the time of the mass extinction event 66 million years ago that killed off all dinosaurs except some birds. This contradicts the idea that Neoaves blossomed 10 to 80 million years earlier, as some recent studies suggested.Based on this new genomic data, only a few bird lineages survived the mass extinction. They gave rise to the more than 10,000 Neoaves species that comprise 95 percent of all bird species living with us today. The freed-up ecological niches caused by the extinction event likely allowed rapid species radiation of birds in less than 15 million years, which explains much of modern bird biodiversity.

Increasingly sophisticated and more affordable genomic sequencing technologies and the advent of computational tools for reconstructing and comparing whole genomes have allowed the consortium to resolve these controversies with better clarity than ever before, the researchers say.With about 14,000 genes per species, the size of the datasets and the complexity of analyzing them required several new approaches to computing evolutionary family trees. These were developed by computer scientists Tandy Warnow at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Siavash Mirarab, a student at the University of Texas at Austin and Alexis Stamatakis at the Heidelburg Institute for Theoretical Studies. Their algorithms required the use of parallel processing supercomputers at the Munich Supercomputing Center (LRZ), the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) and the San Diego Supercomputing center (SDSC)."The computational challenges in estimating the avian species tree used around 300 years of CPU time, and some analyses required supercomputers with a terabyte of memory," Warnow said.The bird project also had support from the Genome 10K Consortium of Scientists (G10K), an international science community working toward rapidly assessing genome sequences for 10,000 vertebrate species."The Avian Genomics Consortium has accomplished the most ambitious and successful project that the G10K Project has joined or endorsed," said G10K co-leader Stephen O'Brien, who co-authored a commentary on the bird sequencing project appearing in GigaScience.

A Genomic Perspective of Avian Evolution and Biodiversity
For all their biological intricacies, birds are surprisingly light on DNA. A study led by Zhang, Cai Li and the consortium authors found that compared to other reptile genomes, avian genomes contain fewer of the repeating sequences of DNA and lost hundreds of genes in their early evolution after birds split from other reptiles.
"Many of these genes have essential functions in humans, such as in reproduction, skeleton formation and lung systems," Zhang said. "The loss of these key genes may have a significant effect on the evolution of many distinct phenotypes of birds. This is an exciting finding, because it is quite different from what people normally think, which is that innovation is normally created by new genetic material, not the loss of it. Sometimes, less is more."
From the whole chromosome level to the order of genes, this group found that the genomic structure of birds has stayed remarkably the same among species for more than 100 million years. The rate of gene evolution across all bird species is also slower compared to mammals.
Yet some genomic regions display relatively faster evolution in species with similar lifestyles or phenotypes, such as involving vocal learning. This pattern of what is called convergent evolution may be the underlying mechanism that explains how distant bird species evolved similar phenotypes independently. Zhang said these analyses on particular gene families begin to explain how birds evolved a lighter skeleton, a distinct lung system, dietary specialties, color vision, as well as colorful feathers and other sex-related traits.

Important Lessons
The new studies have shed light on several other questions about birds, including:How did vocal learning evolve?  Eight studies in the package examined the subject of vocal learning. According to new evidence in the two flagship papers, vocal learning evolved independently at least twice, and was associated with convergent evolution in many proteins. A Science study led by Andreas Pfenning, Alexander Hartemink, Jarvis and others at Duke, in collaboration with researchers at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle and the RIKEN Institute in Japan, found that the specialized song-learning brain circuitry of vocal learning birds (songbirds, parrots and hummingbirds) and human brain speech regions have convergent changes in the activity of more than 50 genes. Most of these genes are involved in forming neural connections. Osceola Whitney, Pfenning and Anne West, also of Duke, found in another Science study that singing is associated with the activation of 10 percent of the expressed genome, with diverse activation patterns in different song-learning regions of the brain, controlled by epigenetic regulation of the genome. Duke's Mukta Chakraborty and others found in a PLoS ONE study that parrots have a song system within a song system, with the surrounding song system unique to them. This might explain their greater ability to imitate human speech. In a BMC Genomics study, Morgan Wirthlin, Peter Lovell and Claudio Mello from Oregon Health & Science University found unique genes in the song-control brain regions of songbirds.The XYZW of sex chromosomes. Just as the sex of humans is determined by the X and Y chromosomes, the sex of birds is controlled by the Z and W chromosomes. The W makes birds female, just as the Y makes humans male. Most mammals share a similar evolutionary history of the Y chromosome, which now contains many degenerated genes that no longer function and only a few active genes related to "maleness." A Science study led by Qi Zhou and Doris Bachtrog from the University of California, Berkeley, and Zhang found that half of bird species still contain substantial numbers of active genes in their W chromosomes. This challenges the classic view that the W chromosome is a "graveyard of genes" like the human Y.

This group also found that bird species are at drastically different states of sex chromosome evolution. For example, the ostrich and emu, which belong to one of the older branches of the bird family tree, have sex chromosomes resembling their ancestors. Yet some modern birds such as the chicken and zebra finch have sex chromosomes that contain few active genes. This opens a new set of questions on how the diversity of sex chromosomes may drive the diversity of sex differences in the outward appearance of various bird species. Peacocks and peahens are dramatically different; male and female crows are indistinguishable.How did birds lose their teeth? In a Science study led by Robert Meredith from Montclair State University and Mark Springer from the University of California, Riverside, a comparison between the genomes of living bird species and those of vertebrate species that have teeth identified key mutations in the parts of the genome that code for enamel and dentin, the building blocks of teeth. The evidence suggests that five tooth-related genes were disabled within a short time period in the common ancestor of modern birds more than 100 million years ago.What's the connection between birds and dinosaurs? Unlike mammals, birds (along with reptiles, fish and amphibians) have a large number of tiny microchromosomes. These smaller packages of gene-rich material are thought to have been present in their dinosaur ancestors. A study of genome karyotype structure in BMC Genomics analyzed whole genomes of the chicken, turkey, Peking duck, zebra finch and budgerigar. It found the chicken has the most similar overall chromosome pattern to an avian ancestor, which was thought to be a feathered dinosaur. This work was led by Darren Griffin and Michael Romanov from the University of Kent, and by Dennis Larkin and Marta Farré from the Royal Veterinary College, University of London.Another study in Science examined birds' closest living relatives, the crocodiles. This team, led by Ed Green and Benedict Paton from the University of California, Santa Cruz, David Ray from Texas Tech University and Ed Braun from the University of Florida, found that crocodiles have one of the slowest-evolving genomes. The researchers were able to infer the genome sequence of the common ancestor of birds and crocodilians (archosaurs) and therefore all dinosaurs, including those that went extinct 66 million years ago.

Do differences in gene trees versus species trees matter? In the phylogenomics flagship study by Jarvis and others, the consortium found that no gene tree has a history exactly the same as the species tree, partly due to a process called incomplete lineage sorting. Another Science study, led by Tandy Warnow at the University of Texas and the University of Illinois, and her student Siavash Mirarab, developed a new computational approach called "statistical binning." They used this approach to show it does not matter much that the gene trees differ from the species tree because they were able to infer the first coalescent-based, genome-scale species tree, combining gene trees with similar histories to accurately infer a species tree.Do bird genomes carry fewer virus sequences than other species? Mammalian genomes harbor a diverse set of genomic "fossils" of past viral infections called "endogenous viral elements" (EVEs). A study published in Genome Biology led by Jie Cui of Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore, Edward Holmes of the University of Sydney and Zhang, found that bird species had 6-13 times fewer EVE infections in their past than mammals. This finding is consistent with the fact that birds have smaller genomes than mammals. It also suggests birds may either be less susceptible to viral invasions or better able to purge viral genes.When did colorful feathers evolve? Elaborate, colorful feathers are thought to be evolutionarily advantageous, giving a male bird in a given species an edge over his competitors when it comes to mating. Zhang's flagship paper in Science, which is further analyzed by Matthew Greenwold and Roger Sawyer from the University of South Carolina in a companion study in BMC Evolutionary Biology, found that genes involved in feather coloration evolved more quickly than other genes in eight of 46 bird lineages. Waterbirds have the lowest number of beta keratin feather genes, landbirds have more than twice as many, and in domesticated pet and agricultural bird species, there are eight times more of these genes.

What happens to species facing extinction or recovering from near-extinction? Birds are like the proverbial canaries in the coal mine because of their sensitivity to environmental changes that cause extinction. In a Genome Biology study led by Shengbin Li, Cheng Cheng and Jun Yu from Xi'an Jiaotong University and Jarvis, researchers analyzed the genomes of species that have recently gone nearly extinct, including the crested ibis in Asia and the bald eagle in the Americas. They found genes that break down environmental toxins have a higher rate of mutations in these species and there is lower diversity of immune system genes in endangered species. In a recovering crested ibis population, genes involved in brain function and metabolism are evolving more rapidly. The researchers found more genomic diversity in the recovering population than was expected, giving greater hope for species conservation.

The Start of Something Bigger
This sweeping genome-level comparison of an entire class of life is being powered by frozen bird tissue samples collected over the past 30 years by museums and other institutions around the world. Samples are sent as fingernail-sized chunks of frozen flesh mostly to Duke University and University of Copenhagen for DNA separation. Most of the genome sequencing and critical initial analyses of the genomes have then been conducted by the BGI in China.The avian genome consortium is now creating a database that will be made publicly available in the future for scientists to study the genetic basis of complex avian traits.Setting up the pipeline for the large-scale study of whole genomes -- collecting and organizing tissue samples, extracting the DNA, analyzing its quality, sequencing and managing torrents of new data -- has been a massive undertaking. But the scientists say their work should help inform other major efforts for the comprehensive sequencing of vertebrate classes. To encourage other researchers to dig through this 'big data' and discover new patterns that were not seen in small-scale data before, the avian genome consortium has released the full dataset to the public in GigaScience, and in NCBI, ENSEMBL and CoGe databases

5) World record for compact particle accelerator:

Using one of the most powerful lasers in the world, researchers have accelerated subatomic particles to the highest energies ever recorded from a compact accelerator. The team, from the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (Berkeley Lab), used a specialized petawatt laser and a charged-particle gas called plasma to get the particles up to speed. The setup is known as a laser-plasma accelerator, an emerging class of particle accelerators that physicists believe can shrink traditional, miles-long accelerators to machines that can fit on a table.The researchers sped up the particles -- electrons in this case -- inside a nine-centimeter long tube of plasma. The speed corresponded to an energy of 4.25 giga-electron volts. The acceleration over such a short distance corresponds to an energy gradient 1000 times greater than traditional particle accelerators and marks a world record energy for laser-plasma accelerators."This result requires exquisite control over the laser and the plasma," says Dr. Wim Leemans, director of the Accelerator Technology and Applied Physics Division at Berkeley Lab and lead author on the paper. The results appear in the most recent issue of Physical Review Letters.Traditional particle accelerators, like the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, which is 17 miles in circumference, speed up particles by modulating electric fields inside a metal cavity. It's a technique that has a limit of about 100 mega-electron volts per meter before the metal breaks down.Laser-plasma accelerators take a completely different approach. In the case of this experiment, a pulse of laser light is injected into a short and thin straw-like tube that contains plasma. The laser creates a channel through the plasma as well as waves that trap free electrons and accelerate them to high energies. It's similar to the way that a surfer gains speed when skimming down the face of a wave.

The record-breaking energies were achieved with the help of BELLA (Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator), one of the most powerful lasers in the world. BELLA, which produces a quadrillion watts of power (a petawatt), began operation just last year."It is an extraordinary achievement for Dr. Leemans and his team to produce this record-breaking result in their first operational campaign with BELLA," says Dr. James Symons, associate laboratory director for Physical Sciences at Berkeley Lab.In addition to packing a high-powered punch, BELLA is renowned for its precision and control. "We're forcing this laser beam into a 500 micron hole about 14 meters away, " Leemans says. "The BELLA laser beam has sufficiently high pointing stability to allow us to use it." Moreover, Leemans says, the laser pulse, which fires once a second, is stable to within a fraction of a percent. "With a lot of lasers, this never could have happened," he adds.At such high energies, the researchers needed to see how various parameters would affect the outcome. So they used computer simulations at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) to test the setup before ever turning on a laser. "Small changes in the setup give you big perturbations," says Eric Esarey, senior science advisor for the Accelerator Technology and Applied Physics Division at Berkeley Lab, who leads the theory effort. "We're homing in on the regions of operation and the best ways to control the accelerator."In order to accelerate electrons to even higher energies -- Leemans' near-term goal is 10 giga-electron volts -- the researchers will need to more precisely control the density of the plasma channel through which the laser light flows. In essence, the researchers need to create a tunnel for the light pulse that's just the right shape to handle more-energetic electrons. Leemans says future work will demonstrate a new technique for plasma-channel shaping.

6) Human DNA shows traces of 40 million-year battle for survival between primate and pathogen:

Examination of DNA from 21 primate species -- from squirrel monkeys to humans -- exposes an evolutionary war against infectious bacteria over iron that circulates in the host's bloodstream. Supported by experimental evidence, these findings, published in Science on Dec. 12, demonstrate the vital importance of an increasingly appreciated defensive strategy called nutritional immunity. "We've known about nutritional immunity for 40 years," says Matthew Barber, Ph.D., first author and postdoctoral fellow in human genetics at the University of Utah. "What this study shows us is that over the last 40 million years of primate evolution, this battle for iron between bacteria and primates has been a determining factor in our survival as a species." The study also models an approach for uncovering reservoirs of genetic resistance to bacterial infections, knowledge that could be used to confront emerging diseases.Following infection, the familiar sneezing, runny nose, and inflammation are all part of the immune system's attempts to rid the body of hostile invaders. Lesser known is a separate defense against invasive microbes, called nutritional immunity, that quietly takes place under our skin. This defense mechanism starves infectious bacteria by hiding circulating iron, an essential nutrient it needs for survival. The protein that transports iron in the blood, transferrin, tucks the trace metal safely out of reach.Clever as it sounds, the ploy is not enough to keep invaders at bay. Several bacterial pathogens -- including those that cause meningitis, gonorrhea, and sepsis -- have developed a weapon, transferrin binding protein (TbpA), that latches onto transferrin and steal its iron. Though scientists have known of the offensive strategy, they failed to realize how pivotal the battle over iron has been in the conflict between host and pathogen.

"Interactions between host and pathogen are transient and temporary," says senior author Nels Elde, Ph.D., assistant professor of human genetics at the University of Utah. "It took casting a wide net across all of primate genetic diversity to capture the significance."Just as details of a struggle can be gleaned from battle scars, Barber and Elde reconstructed this evolutionary conflict by documenting when and where changes in transferrin and TbpA have occurred over millennia. They examined the DNA of transferrin in 21 species from the primate family tree, and of TbpA from dozens of bacterial strains. The majority of accumulated changes in transferrin and TbpA cluster around a single region of contact between the two proteins, highlighting it as a site of evolutionary conflict between host and pathogen. The authors then used these genetic observations as a guide to perform experiments, which showed changes in TbpA enable the protein to grasp hold of transferrin, and that recent changes in transferrin allow it to evade TbpA.

Up to 25 percent of people in the world's populations have a small alteration in the transferrin gene, which prevents recognition by several infectious bacteria, the most recent sign of this long battle. "Up until this study no one had come up with a functional explanation for why this variation occurs at an appreciable frequency in human populations," says Elde. "We now know that it is a consequence of the pathogens we and our ancestors faced over millions of years."Understanding the strategies that underlie natural defense mechanisms, including nutritional immunity, could inform new approaches to combatting antibiotic-resistant bacteria and emerging diseases. "By examining the natural conflicts that have played out for millions of years, we can determine what has worked, and apply them in new situations," says Elde

Movies Release This Week:

Epic adventure Exodus: Gods and Kings is the story of one man's daring courage to take on the might of an empire. Using state of the art visual effects and 3D immersion, Scott brings new life to the story of the defiant leader Moses as he rises up against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses, setting 600,000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues.

Written, directed by, and starring Chris Rock, “TOP FIVE” tells the story of New York City comedian-turned-film star Andre Allen, whose unexpected encounter with a journalist (Rosario Dawson) forces him to confront the comedy career—and the past—that he's left behind

When private eye Doc Sportello’s ex-old lady suddenly out of nowhere shows up with a story about her current billionaire land developer boyfriend whom she just happens to be in love with, and a plot by his wife and her boyfriend to kidnap that billionaire and throw him in a loony bin…well, easy for her to say.

It’s the tail end of the psychedelic `60s and paranoia is running the day and Doc knows that “love” is another of those words going around at the moment, like “trip” or “groovy,” that’s being way too overused—except this one usually leads to trouble.

With a cast of characters that includes surfers, hustlers, dopers and rockers, a murderous loan shark, LAPD Detectives, a tenor sax player working undercover, and a mysterious entity known as the Golden Fang, which may only be a tax dodge set up by some dentists... Part surf noir, part psychedelic romp—all Thomas Pynchon.

James Franco, Mila Kunis, Jessica Chastain, and Zach Braff star in this dramatic and inventive look at the life and work of ionic Pulitzer Prize-winning poet C.K. Williams. Williams (Franco) has a beautiful, adoring wife (Kunis) and a young son. But as he prepares for a reading in New York City and struggles to create new work, he is haunted by memories of his past—from his first sexual encounter to a later tragic loss. An ensemble of 12 directors work with a star-studded cast to weave together this moving and unique story of a complex man and the relationships that defined him. The Color of Time is collaborative filmmaking project produced by James Franco, and written and directed by: Edna Luisa Biesold, Sarah-Violet Bliss, Bruce Thierry Cheung, Gabrielle Demeestere, Alexis Gambis, Brooke Goldfinch, Shripriya Mahesh, Pamela Romanowsky, Tine Thomasen, Shruti Ganguly, Virginia Urreiztieta, and Omar Zuniga Hidalgo

From acclaimed filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa, MAIDAN chronicles the civil uprising that toppled the government of Ukrainian president Victor Yanukovich and has since developed into an international crisis. Filmed in stunning long takes, MAIDAN plunges the viewer into the middle of a revolution for a startling and immediate portrait of a nation fighting for its independence.

Political News This Week:

1) Burdwan blast accused linked to Trinamool: Amit Shah:

Unfazed by the controversy over his earlier remarks, Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah on Friday linked the Burdwan blast accused to Trinamool Congress and challenged the party chief Mamata Banerjee to say they are innocent.

"The accused in the Saradha scam and Burdwan blast are linked to TMC. The owner of the house where Burdwan blast took place is linked to TMC. The Sharada chit fund scam accused are also linked to TMC and many people including MPs have been arrested.

"If Mamataji feels it is CBI's mischief, she should say that those arrested are innocent... If CBI is doing a political probe, let Mamataji just say in public that those arrested people are innocent," Shah said speaking at 'Agenda Aaj Tak'.The BJP chief said he is a public leader and has made an allegation against the West Bengal Chief Minister's party and it was upto her to come out and clarify on them.

"I have made an accusation against Mamata's party and to come clear on that is Mamata's work," he said.He also said BJP would never use CBI as a tool to meet its political ends which the Congress was doing all along, starting from the time of Indira Gandhi upto those of Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi.

While addressing a rally in Kolkata on November 30, Shah had accused Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of creating hurdles for a proper NIA probe into the Burdwan blast to shield her party leaders allegedly involved in the incident.He also alleged that Saradha chit fund money was used in the October 2 Burdwan blast.However, Minister of State in PMO Jitendra Singh, had in a written reply in Parliament, said CBI investigations have so far not revealed that Saradha chit fund money was used to finance terror in Bangladesh, contradicting BJP Chief Amit Shah's allegation of such a connection.

2) In defence of religious conversion:

The country has been in a bit of a flap after news reports about the 'ghar vapasi' programme wherein some poor Muslims were apparently converted to Hinduism in Agra. This led to an uproar both outside and inside Parliament which the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has been quick to use to call for a ban on conversions.

The right to convert to another religion is guaranteed as a human right by the United Nations. It is also what distinguishes some of the world's most despotic nations from the democratic nations.Thus the Western world allows conversion while many Islamic nations have banned conversion from Islam to another religion while permitting conversion to Islam.

Do we want to become a Saudi Arabia or Iran? As an avowedly secular nation, surely we should separate religion from the State.There is another aspect to conversion in India. For years, many right-wing Hindu organisations have been demanding a ban on conversion. The reasons cited are that the poor Hindus of India are lured into becoming Christians or Muslims and that Hindus are too poor to fight these organised religions with deep pockets.

This is less than true. Granted that Christian missionaries are active in the poorest areas, and do convert people to their faith, particularly the tribal population, but what have Hindu organisations or even the State done to help the poor tribals?

All too often the people who exploit the tribals (money lenders, contractors and government officials) tend to be Hindus, and their activities unfortunately earns Hinduism a bad name.The question is what are the Hindu organisations doing? They are too busy collecting funds to build temples rather than help the poor.

Conversion to Islam is far more muted, given the sensitivities involved. But the promise of equality and brotherhood in Islam remains a potent weapon to lure India's most wretched.The best example is the conversion of a number of Dalits in Meenakshipuram, Tamil Nadu, in the early 1980s to Islam. The popular perception is that the Dalits were poor; in fact they were not. They were well-off Dalits who had earned good money in the Gulf and returned as prosperous citizens to India.They converted after finding that despite their wealth, they were treated badly because they were Dalits. Do note these Dalits believed they would be treated better as Muslims!That remains the major problem of Hinduism. A recent survey of caste attitudes revealed, shockingly, that many Indians continue to hold Dalits in contempt. This applies to all religions. Ironically, the allegedly educated caste of Brahmins came off the worst with 52 per cent saying they would not let Dalits enter their kitchen, followed by the Other Backward Classes, where about a third revealed such attitudes.

Only when Dalits or Adivasis threaten to convert are the virtues of Hinduism discovered; the moment this threat fades, old caste prejudices return with a vengeance. Conversion remains an escape route for the Dalits and Adivasis when both the State and their Hindu brethren have deserted them. Now, we want to take away this one privilege that they still have.As the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has shown: conversion can be used both ways. It is good to read that some Muslims chose to convert (there is some dispute, but let us go with the reports that they converted). If anything, these poor Muslims were the equivalent of Dalits -- ignored and treated badly by their community leaders.

Why should the poor Muslims convert for a ration card? If the government failed, where were the community leaders (busy playing politics)? Hopefully, the Muslim community will now awaken to the plight of their poorest.The argument that Hindus don't have funds to fight Christian missionaries funded by the wealthy West, or Muslim groups funded by West Asian oil (an income that is heading downwards), is facetious. The poor are not fools. A few may convert for money, but millions convert for self-respect and dignity. They convert to be treated as fellow humans.Millions of Hindus became Muslims not because of the invading armies but because the wandering Sufis gave them brotherhood; the Christian missionary gave them love.Hinduism has its own virtues, -- its openness, its tolerance -- that has lured many, but right now these are hidden under the stranglehold of caste prejudices. The fear of losing its adherents has actually prompted reform and resurgence.To ban conversion would mean to lose the very impetus for reform. Banning conversions would be not just retrograde, it would harm Hinduism by taking away the need for reform and improvement.

3) Mobiles banned in K'taka assembly after MLA caught gazing at Priyanka's pic:

Use of mobile phones in the Karnataka assembly was banned on Friday, a day after the House was rocked by chaos over a Bharatiya Janata Party member watching a zoomed in picture of Priyanka Gandhi during proceedings.

Speaker Kagodu Thimappa suspended Prabhu Chavan, the BJP legislator whose act caught on a camera triggered a storm, for a day, and pulled up Housing Minister M H Ambareesh and Congress member S S Mallikarjun for using phones in the House.

"I hereby pronounce that the use of mobile phones in the state assembly is banned. Since Prabhu Chavan was watching a picture in an indecent manner, he is herewith suspended for a day from attending house proceedings," he said.

The assembly proceedings were paralysed on Thursday amid chaos over the BJP MLA's conduct, with ruling Congress members on the offensive demanding action against the legislator.BJP members had hit back at the Congress seeking two-day suspension of Ambareesh and Mallikarjun from the House, alleging they were also surfing through mobile phones during proceedings.

Thimappa also announced formation of legislature ethics committee, which will help mould the personality of legislators, monitor their behaviour in the House and legislative capabilities and enhance the dignity, decorum and prestige of the assembly. "Already a legislature ethics committee has been formed in the Upper House, but has not met even once. However, such a committee also will be constituted in the lower house," he added.

In a major embarrassment to the BJP, Chavan was caught on a TV camera watching a zoomed in photo of Priyanka Gandhi on his mobile phone and another BJP MLA U B Banakar playing video games during a debate on the plight of sugarcane growers on Wednesday.During the BJP rule, the then ministers Laxman Savadi and C C Patil were also in the eye of a storm after TV channels aired video footage of their watching pornographic content on their mobile phones. The legislature is holding the 10-day winter session in Belagavi.

4) Insurance Bill: Modi checkmated in Rajya Sabha:

The winter session of Parliament is proving a rude reality check for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. By all accounts given by members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the Opposition understands that the much-awaited Insurance Bill is unlikely to pass in this session of Parliament.

The Cabinet approved the Bill on December 10.Insurance companies in India are not permitted to have a foreign holding of more than 26%. The Bill raises the limit to 49% and allows the entry of foreign insurance companies into India.If it is passed in Parliament, the Bill will radically change savings patterns, insurance habits and have a profound impact even in rural India.The winter session that began on November 24 and end on December 23 has revealed that the Modi government is learning to deal with the reality that it does not have a majority in the Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of India's Parliament.The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance has been obstructed by roadblocks and will need to develop a strategy to overcome these hurdles.

The winter session of Parliament's 22 sittings were supposed to take up 67 pending Bills -- eight before the Lok Sabha and 59 before the Rajya Sabha -- but Minister of State Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti's unfortunate remarks against non-Hindus erased four days from the parliamentary calendar.The conversion of poor Muslim families in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, is the current bone of contention between the BJP and its opponents in Parliament.The handling of Niranjan Jyoti's remarks and the upheaval were handled by Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu in the Lok Sabha and by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Rajya Sabha.In spite of these veterans's floor management, Modi's statement on Niranjan Jyoti's remarks in both Houses did not have the desired impact.

It was a rude shock for the prime minister when the Opposition ignored his plea for understanding. The matter was settled only after Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari read out an appeal to let the House function.The dominance of the non-BJP parties on news television channels during Parliament's winter session is there for the BJP's media managers to see.The talk in Parliament and in the lobbies outside is why the BJP's 282 seats has not helped the government to expedite its legislative business. How will the government keep apace with people's aspirations if its large majority is not enough to usher change, observers ask.The ruckus over resurgent Hindtuva issues like Niranjan Jyoti's remarks and the conversions of Muslims has armed the Opposition with legitimate reasons to stall Parliament.

When Chandan Mitra, chairman of the Rajya Sabha Select Committee tabled the report on the Insurance Bill on December 10, it carried dissenting notes from four of its 15 members belonging to the Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress, Communist Party of India-Marxist and Janata Dal-United. None of these parties want foreign money in the sensitive insurance sector.Amongst many things the Congress wanted a composite cap on such investments. The Congress's demands have been accepted by the NDA government so that party does not have any reason to oppose the Insurance Bill.The combined might of the non-BJP parties is enough to stall the Insurance Bill in the Upper House. The Congress too is likely to go with the current mood of non-BJP MPs in the Rajya Sabha.

5) Coal scam: CBI chargesheets ex-Jharkhand CM Madhu Koda:

Former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda, ex-Jharkhand chief secretary Ashok Kumar Basu and six others have been chargesheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation in a coal block allocation scam case.

The chargesheet was filed before Special CBI Judge Bharat Parashar, who fixed it for consideration on December 22 after the investigating officer said that he will file the necessary documents in the case within a couple of days.Besides Koda and Basu, former coal secretary HC Gupta and two public servants Basant Kumar Bhatacharya and Bipin Bihari Singh have also been chargesheeted as accused.Director of accused firm Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd Vaibhav Tulsyan and a private person Vijay Joshi have also been named as accused in CBI's final report in which all the accused have been charge sheeted for the offences under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code and under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Senior Public Prosecutor V K Sharma told the court that out of the eight accused chargesheeted by the agency two -- Singh and Bhatacharya -- are still in government service, so necessary sanction for their prosecution has been obtained from the competent authority. "In the facts and circumstances of the case, it is directed that IO shall prepare a compilation of the relevant sets of documents initially for consideration of the present final report by the court," the judge said, adding, "Put up the matter for consideration on December 22".

The CBI's move to chargesheet Koda and others in the case came after the court on September 5 had "returned" its chargesheet filed earlier, saying the agency has failed to give any plausible explanation on its queries.The case pertains to allocation of coal blocks to Vini Iron and Steel Udyog Ltd. in Jharkhand's Rajhara town in which its directors and unknown public servants of the ministry of coal, government of Jharkhand and others were made accused in the first information report lodged by the CBI in September 2012.

6) 'I am an ordinary activist, never wanted the limelight':

Nobel Peace Prize laureates Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi wave and gesture from the balcony of the Grand Hotel after they were conferred with the honours

‘It is for the first time the voices of the most deferred, the most neglected, the most ignored, the most abused, the most vulnerable -- the children-- has been heard. It is a great moment.’

‘I always wanted Pakistan and India to have good relationships because I believe that this is very important for the development of both the countries.’‘If children are taught hatred, if they are taught about sectarianism and prejudice, then we can see that there will be terrorism in society.” Nobel Peace Prize winners Kailash Satyarthi and Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai were given an ovation after they delivered their rousing speeches in front of a packed audience at a glittering ceremony in Oslo on Wednesday.

Kailash Satyarthi gives his blessings to his ‘daughter’ Malala during the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony.

A day later, they sit down for an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour and share their dreams, their hopes for the future.

Read excerpts from the interview

Clearly, Malala and Kailash, well deserved applause and your speeches earlier were really inspirational.

I just want to know what it was like to be up there at that moment, Malala.

Malala: Well, first of all, it was a great honour to be here and to receive this prestigious award, which we all know is an award for peace and it encourages people who are fighting for peace and fighting for human rights, women’s rights, for children’s rights.

So when you see yourself on a stage and people appreciate what you have done and they encourage you, it gives you more strength and gives you more courage.

And when I speak, I just don’t speak to the people in front of me. I believe that there will be millions of people listening to me right now. And I’m going to speak to them and I’m going to tell every child that education is very important for us, for our future generations and we have to stand up for it.

Kailash Satyarthi, you have been doing this for decades. You've been awarded before.

What does this mean to you, the height of the world of prizes?

Kailash Satyarthi: It is for the first time the voices of the most deferred people, the most neglected, the most ignored, the most abused, the most vulnerable people, they are children has been heard. It has been heard at the highest podium of peace and humanity. So, it was a great thing. This is the first time when their voices and their faces have been recognised.

7) Saradha scam: West Bengal transport minister Madan Mitra arrested:

 In a rude jolt for Mamata Banerjee, West Bengal transport minister Madan Mitra has been arrested for his role in the Saradha scam. The minister was questioned by the CBI earlier on Friday in connection with the multi-crore scam.

The Trinamool leader has been booked for cheating, criminal conspiracy and misappropriation.

Mitra was summoned by the agency on November 15. He had then received an email from the agency asking him to appear for questioning. However, the minister citing health reasons had sought relaxation from questioning.

So far, the CBI has arrested Trinamool Congress MP, Srinjoy Bose; suspended MP Kunal Ghosh and party functionary, Rajat Majumdar along with three other people —Debabrata Sarkar, Sandhir Agarwal and Sadanand Gogoi — in connection with the Saradha scam.

The Saradha group, involved in various ponzi schemes, went bust in April 2013 duping thousands of small investors across West Bengal, Assam, Tripura, Bihar and Odisha. Its chairman, Sudipta Sen arrested after the scam broke out by West Bengal police; has since then been in jail.

Bruce Lee is alive, and he lives in Afghanistan!

Abbas Alizada not only looks like kung Fu legend Bruce Lee, but has the skills to prove it too. And he has become an instant internet sensation. The 20-year-old, now being called the ‘Afghan Bruce Lee’, is from an impoverished Afghan family of 10, and hopes that his sudden internet fame pulls him away from his war-torn country and poverty.“I want to be a champion in my country and a Hollywood star. 

The destruction here saddens me, but it also inspires me,” he told Reuters in an interview. His parents did not have enough money for him to study Wushu, but after, realising his potential, the school’s trainer agreed to teach him. He is disdainful of the name Bruce Hazara as he is known by his friends because it points to his ethnicity, which, in a country like Afghanistan can mean the difference between life and death.

Sports News This Week:

1) Adelaide test: Second ton for Warner puts Australia in charge:

India virtually snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, slumping to an agonising 48-run loss in the pulsating first Test against Australia despite captain Virat Kohli's gallant second successive hundred in the match here on Saturday.

Chasing a competitive target of 364, India were cruising along comfortably at 242/2 before the hosts staged a dramatic comeback to grab eight wickets for 73 runs and take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.

Red-hot opening batsman David Warner punished a wasteful India with his second century of the first test on Friday as Australia seized control of the match at the close of play on day four.The combative left-hander, who scored an emotional 145 in the first innings, added another 102 to help fire Australia to a 363-run lead at a sun-drenched Adelaide Oval.

Steven Smith added a half-century to his own first innings ton to push the hosts to 290-5. He was unbeaten on 52 at stumps, with wicketkeeper Brad Haddin on 14, and Australia in position to make an early declaration on the final day.Warner gazed at the sky in tribute to batsman Phillip Hughes during his first innings knock and repeated the gesture on Friday after raising his sixth hundred in his last 11 test innings.

Two of those hundreds also came in the same test on tour against South Africa earlier in the year.Hughes, who died two weeks ago after being hit by a ball during a domestic match, famously became the youngest player to score two centuries in a match when he achieved the feat against South Africa in Durban in his second test in 2009."Definitely it was in the back of my mind," Warner said of Hughes' record. "He was giving me some luck out there today, which is fortunate enough for myself."Warner got himself out attempting a frivolous reverse sweep and was bowled by legspinner Karn Sharma as the Australians picked up the tempo in the last session.Mitchell Marsh smashed 24 runs, including three sixes, off one over from Sharma but chanced his arm once too often to be caught slogging in the deep after a cavalier 40 off 26 balls.Injured captain Michael Clarke could not repeat his first innings heroics when he scored 128 despite a painful back strain and was caught behind for seven off the bowling of Varun Aaron.


Warner was reprieved on 66 when Aaron bowled him only to be recalled when television replays showed the paceman overstepping the crease on his delivery.A match that had proceeded in good spirit suddenly became tetchy. Aaron gave Warner a big send-off after rattling his stumps and the Australian retaliated after his let-off.
Umpires Marais Erasmus and Ian Gould intervened to stop the opposing players from arguing and had to do so again after Smith and Rohit Sharma exchanged words following a hopeful lbw appeal after tea, which also fired up India captain Virat Kohli.Warner also survived a big shout for caught behind off Aaron's bowling and was dropped in the gully when on 89 off Mohammed Shami.Earlier in the day, India were bowled out for 444, with Australia spinner Nathan Lyon finishing with 5-134."He was hitting it (the rough) virtually every delivery," Warner said of the bowler's encouraging performance. "That's going to be the key for us."A former groundsman at Adelaide Oval, Lyon captured three early wickets as India, who resumed on 369-5, lost their last five wickets for just 45 runs.The highest victorious run-chase in Adelaide was Australia's 315-6 against England in 1902, though the hosts will remember ruefully how South Africa managed to bat through an entire fifth day with only six wickets in hand to save the match in 2012.

2) Resurgent Manchester United face out-of-form Liverpool :

What a difference a year makes for Manchester United and Liverpool.As the bitter rivals prepare to resume hostilities at Old Trafford on Sunday, a reversal in fortunes has taken place that barely seemed possible at this time last season.Just 12 months ago, United’s title defence was in tatters and manager David Moyes was having to explain how he had managed to turn Alex Ferguson’s ferocious tiger of a team into an over-cautious kitten.

Liverpool, meanwhile, could do no wrong. The goals were flowing freely as manager Brendan Rodgers adopted a system that allowed Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge to fill their boots and Anfield rejoiced as some long-lost swagger returned.In early December last year, United lost 1-0 at home to Everton and Newcastle United as the same players who had been runaway league champions the season before looked utterly shorn of belief.Their pain was heightened as their arch-rivals steamed ahead.A 3-1 win over Cardiff City courtesy of two goals from Suarez on Dec. 21 helped Liverpool go top of the table playing a brand of entertaining football more commonly seen at Old Trafford in recent seasons.

Twelve months, however, is a long time in football and two transfer windows is sufficient to bring about a revolution in an era when the stock of managers can rise meteorically and plummet like a stone after back-to-back wins or consecutive defeats.Now it is United who are starting to strut. With Moyes a distant memory and the imposing figure of Dutchman Louis van Gaal at the helm, United have returned to form.Five straight Premier League wins have lifted them to third in the table, just as Liverpool suffered a stupefying 0-0 draw at home to Sunderland last weekend that left them ninth.Another lifeless draw at home to Basel in the Champions League on Tuesday dumped them out of the competition and left pundits to pick over the bones of a team who look the palest of shadows of last season’s outfit.Former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson called them “rudderless” after their European failure, while another former stalwart Steve Nicol said the manager’s job was on the line.

3) India-Pakistan set for enthralling Champions Trophy clash:

High on confidence, the Indian team will lock horns with arch-rivals Pakistan in the semifinal of men's hockey Champions Trophy at Kalinga stadium here Saturday.
India beat Belgium 4-2 in a thrilling last eight match while Pakistan, despite losing their all three league group matches, stormed into the semis stunning 2012 Olympics silver medallists the Netherlands by an identical margin Thursday.World champions Australia will meet Olympic champions Germany in another semifinal Saturday.

But all attention will be on the India-Pakistan match, where not only sporting supremacy but pride of both the nations will be at stake.India will head into the contest with pleasant memories of beating Pakistan in the Incheon Asian Games final in October to lift the men's hockey gold after 16 years.The win earned India a direct entry into the 2016 Rio Olympics and Pakistan will be plotting to avenge the double blow."Recently we played against Pakistan in the Asian games. The way Pakistan performed in the quarter-finals against the Netherlands, shows that it is going to be tough for us," Roelant Oltmans, Indian team coach said Friday.

"The semi-final will be a different match and we will play with specific strategies."He also said the Indian team is performing well and hopes it will continue to play well Saturday.
Pakistan coach Shahnaz Sheikh was glad his team is facing India as it will test their mettle."I am happy that we are playing against India in the semi-final after the Asian games. I hope our team will perform well," Sheikh said.A capacity crowd is expected at the stadium as all tickets have been sold out long before the commencement of the match.

4) Atletico de Kolkata draw with FC Goa, make ISL semis:

Fikru Teferra struck an equaliser off a dubious penalty decision to force a 1-1 draw for Atletico de Kolkata against a 10-man FC Goa and sneak into the semifinals of the Hero Indian Super League football tournament in Kolkata on Wednesday.The Kolkata franchise will clash against the same Goan opponents in the home leg of the semis here Sunday before their away leg on December 17.

Leaders Chennaiyin FC will face fourth-placed Kerala Blasters FC in the first leg semis in Kochi on Saturday.Needing at least a draw to make the cut, ATK trailed 0-1 at half-time after Edgar Marcelino’s stunning 27th-minute goal in front of a cheering 37,238 attendance at the Yuva Bharati Krirangan.With nothing going their way, it was the US referee Baldomero Toledo who came to the rescue of the listless ATK as he awarded them a penalty after Fikru went down inside the box in the 66th minute.
The moment came a minute after Fikru’s shot hit the post as ATK kept ruing their missed chances.TV replays showed that there was no contact from Bruno Pinheiro from behind but the referee thought otherwise and to their opponents’ utter shock, sent off the FCG central defender.

Having lamented the poor referring all the way, ATK utilised this goof-up to perfection as Fikru coolly brought the equaliser that ensured their passage to the semis.
The home franchise showed little unity and Fikru was seen shoving their midfieler Jakub Podany after a misspass in the 80th minute.With the numerical disadvantage, the Goans on the other hand, held on as they finished second with 22 points, while ATK (10) finished third ahead of Kerala Blasters FC on goal difference.Earlier, Marcelino unleashed a right-footed screamer to give FC Goa the lead against the run of play.It was a brilliant teamwork showed by FC Goa as Robert Pires set it up for Ranty Martins in front of the goal. Borjablocked it but the ball took the deflection and Edgar slammed it to the right hand top corner.

ATK went all out with a flurry of ATK attacks in the first quarter but their quality of raids against FC Goa’s sturdy defence put them down.Earlier, Atletico de Kolkata made a couple of changes to their starting line-up as Luis Garcia and Rakesh Masih madeway for Podany and Baljit Sahni.FC Goa, who have already qualified, made nine changes as Pires came back into the side along with Clifford Miranda and Youness Bengelloun.

5) IPTL: Indian Aces edge past Singapore Slammers:

Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna got past Bruno Soares and Daniela Hantuchova in the mixed-doubled match as Micromax Indian Aces edged past DBS Singapore Slammers in the UAE leg of the Indian Premier Tennis League, in Abu Dhabi on Friday.

Indian Aces were given a hard time by the Singapore team but they won four of the five games and won Match 19 of the tournament 28-24 in terms of more sets won.
Sania and Bopanna combined well to win a closely contested battle against the Brazilian-Slovak pair of Soares and Hantuchova 6-5.In the legends face off, Fabrice Santoro from Indian Aces sailed past former World No.1 Patrick Rafter of Australia 6-3.Serbian ace Ana Ivanovic also worked wonders for the Aces as the World No.5 beat Huntuchova 6-5 in the women’s singles match. Bopanna also paired with Gael Monfils in the men’s doubles to teach Lleyton Hewitt and Soares a lesson as the Indo-French outplayed the Australian-Brazilian pair 6-3. But Monfils tripped against Tomas Berdych 4-8 in the men’s singles encounter but Indian Aces took were the team left smiling.

Book Of This Week:

Yuganta: The End of an Epoch : by Irawati Karve:


Yuganta studies the principal, mythical-heroic figures of the Mahabharata from historical, anthropological and secular perspectives. The usually venerated characters of this ancient Indian epic are here subjected to a rational enquiry that places them in context, unravels their hopes and fears, and imbues them with wholly human motives, thereby making their stories relevant and astonishing to contemporary readers. Irawati Karve, thus, presents a delightful collection of essays, scientific in spirit, yet appreciative of the literary tradition of the Mahabharata. She challenges the familiar and formulates refreshingly new interpretations, all the while refusing to judge harshly or venerate blindly.

Irawati Karve:

Irawati Karve (1905 1970) was born in Burma and educated in Pune. A Master s degree in Sociology from Bombay in 1928 and a Doctoral degree in Anthropology from Berlin in 1930 marked the onset of a long and distinguished career of pioneering research. She wrote in both English and Marathi, on academic subjects as well as on topics of general interest, and thus commanded an enviably wide circle of readership. Whether through her Hindu Society: An Interpretation, a scholarly treatise in English, or through Yuganta: The End of an Epoch, her study in Marathi of the characters and society in the Mahabharata, we obtain ample illustration of the range and quality of Irawati Karve s mind.

Karve served for many years as the head of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Deccan College, Pune (University of Pune).She presided over the Anthropology Division of the National Science Congress held in New Delhi in 1947.She wrote in both Marathi and English on topics pertaining to sociology and anthropology, as well as on nonscientific topics.

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