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Sunday, 22 February 2015

Subhaditya News Channel Presents Science,Movies,Political ,Sports and Book News of This Week(135)

Science News This Week:

1) Catalog of DNA modifications produces surprises:

New insight into Alzheimer’s, cancer, more comes from roadmap of epigenetic changes. A series of fine-tuned maps of DNA packaging in human cells reveal dynamic new views of how the genome’s instructions are carried out to build a person. The maps also offer surprising insights into what goes wrong in diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancer.

The maps and discoveries made after examining them are being published February 18 in more than 20 scientific papers in Nature and affiliated journals by a large consortium of researchers involved with

The Roadmap Epigenomics Project:

The NIH Roadmap Epigenomics Mapping Consortium was launched with the goal of producing a public resource of human epigenomic data to catalyze basic biology and disease-oriented research. The Consortium leverages experimental pipelines built around next-generation sequencing technologies to map DNA methylation, histone modifications, chromatin accessibility and small RNA transcripts in stem cells and primary ex vivo tissues selected to represent the normal counterparts of tissues and organ systems frequently involved in human disease. The Consortium expects to deliver a collection of normal epigenomes that will provide a framework or reference for comparison and integration within a broad array of future studies. The Consortium also aims to close the gap between data generation and its public dissemination by rapid release of raw sequence data, profiles of epigenomics features and higher-level integrated maps to the scientific community. The Consortium is also committed to the development, standardization and dissemination of protocols, reagents and analytical tools to enable the research community to utilize, integrate and expand upon this body of data.

2) Evolving a bigger brain with human DNA:

The size of the human brain expanded dramatically during the course of evolution, imparting us with unique capabilities to use abstract language and do complex math. But how did the human brain get larger than that of our closest living relative, the chimpanzee, if almost all of our genes are the same? Duke scientists have shown that it's possible to pick out key changes in the genetic code between chimpanzees and humans and then visualize their respective contributions to early brain development by using mouse embryos.The team found that humans are equipped with tiny differences in a particular regulator of gene activity, dubbed HARE5, that when introduced into a mouse embryo, led to a 12% bigger brain than in the embryos treated with the HARE5 sequence from chimpanzees.The findings, appearing online Feb. 19, 2015, in Current Biology, may lend insight into not only what makes the human brain special but also why people get some diseases, such as autism and Alzheimer's disease, whereas chimpanzees don't.

"I think we've just scratched the surface, in terms of what we can gain from this sort of study," said Debra Silver, an assistant professor of molecular genetics and microbiology in the Duke University Medical School. "There are some other really compelling candidates that we found that may also lead us to a better understanding of the uniqueness of the human brain."Every genome contains many thousands of short bits of DNA called 'enhancers,' whose role is to control the activity of genes. Some of these are unique to humans. Some are active in specific tissues. But none of the human-specific enhancers previously had been shown to influence brain anatomy directly.

In the new study, researchers mined databases of genomic data from humans and chimpanzees, to find enhancers expressed primarily in the brain tissue and early in development. They prioritized enhancers that differed markedly between the two species.The group's initial screen turned up 106 candidates, six of them near genes that are believed to be involved in brain development. The group named these 'human-accelerated regulatory enhancers,' HARE1 through HARE6.The strongest candidate was HARE5 for its chromosomal location near a gene called Frizzled 8, which is part of a well-known molecular pathway implicated in brain development and disease. The group decided to focus on HARE5 and then showed that it was likely to be an enhancer for Frizzled8 because the two DNA sequences made physical contact in brain tissue.The human HARE5 and the chimpanzee HARE5 sequences differ by only 16 letters in their genetic code. Yet, in mouse embryos the researchers found that the human enhancer was active earlier in development and more active in general than the chimpanzee enhancer."What's really exciting about this was that the activity differences were detected at a critical time in brain development: when neural progenitor cells are proliferating and expanding in number, just prior to producing neurons," Silver said.

The researchers found that in the mouse embryos equipped with Frizzled8 under control of human HARE5, progenitor cells destined to become neurons proliferated faster compared with the chimp HARE5 mice, ultimately leading to more neurons.As the mouse embryos neared the end of gestation, their brain size differences became noticeable to the naked eye. Graduate student Lomax Boyd started dissecting the brains and looking at them under a microscope."After he started taking pictures, we took a ruler to the monitor. Although we were blind to what the genotype was, we started noticing a trend," Silver said.All told, human HARE5 mice had brains 12% larger in area compared with chimpanzee HARE5 mice. The neocortex, involved in higher-level function such as language and reasoning, was the region of the brain affected.Producing a short list of strong candidates was in itself a feat, accomplished by applying the right filters to analysis of human and chimpanzee genomes, said co-author Gregory Wray, professor of biology and director of the Duke Center for Genomic and Computational Biology."Many others have tried this and failed," Wray said. "We've known other people who have looked at genes involved in brain size evolution, tested them out and done the same kinds of experiments we've done and come up dry."The Duke team plans to study the human HARE5 and chimp HARE5 mice into adulthood, for possible differences in brain structure and behavior. The group also hopes to explore the role of the other HARE sequences in brain development."What we found is a piece of the genetic basis for why we have a bigger brain," Wray said. "It really shows in sharp relief just how complicated those changes must have been. This is probably only one piece -- a little piece."

3) Fossil teeth flesh out ancient kids’ varied growth rates:

X-ray technique sheds light on hominid development.Kids who belonged to now-extinct species in the human evolutionary family grew at unexpected rates, unlike the growth of either present-day people or apes, a new study of their teeth finds. As a result, the researchers can now more accurately estimate ages at death for ancient hominid youngsters whose fossil teeth have been found.

Using X-ray technology to examine microscopic growth lines inside fossil teeth, a team led by Harvard University anthropologist Tanya Smith concludes that researchers can no longer use living apes as developmental yardsticks for ancient hominids. The timing of tooth formation and molar eruption, which denotes the speed of overall physical development, fluctuated from one now-extinct species to another, the researchers report February 18 in PLOS ONE.

4) New paper-like material could boost electric vehicle batteries:

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside's Bourns College of Engineering have developed a novel paper-like material for lithium-ion batteries. It has the potential to boost by several times the specific energy, or amount of energy that can be delivered per unit weight of the battery. This paper-like material is composed of sponge-like silicon nanofibers more than 100 times thinner than human hair. It could be used in batteries for electric vehicles and personal electronics.

The findings were just published in a paper, "Towards Scalable Binderless Electrodes: Carbon Coated Silicon Nanofiber Paper via Mg Reduction of Electrospun SiO2 Nanofibers," in the journal Nature Scientific Reports. The authors were Mihri Ozkan, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, Cengiz S. Ozkan, a professor of mechanical engineering, and six of their graduate students: Zach Favors, Hamed Hosseini Bay, Zafer Mutlu, Kazi Ahmed, Robert Ionescu and Rachel Ye.

The nanofibers were produced using a technique known as electrospinning, whereby 20,000 to 40,000 volts are applied between a rotating drum and a nozzle, which emits a solution composed mainly of tetraethyl orthosilicate (TEOS), a chemical compound frequently used in the semiconductor industry. The nanofibers are then exposed to magnesium vapor to produce the sponge-like silicon fiber structure.

Conventionally produced lithium-ion battery anodes are made using copper foil coated with a mixture of graphite, a conductive additive, and a polymer binder. But, because the performance of graphite has been nearly tapped out, researchers are experimenting with other materials, such as silicon, which has a specific capacity, or electrical charge per unit weight of the battery, nearly 10 times higher than graphite.The problem with silicon is that is suffers from significant volume expansion, which can quickly degrade the battery. The silicon nanofiber structure created in the Ozkan's labs circumvents this issue and allows the battery to be cycled hundreds of times without significant degradation.

"Eliminating the need for metal current collectors and inactive polymer binders while switching to an energy dense material such as silicon will significantly boost the range capabilities of electric vehicles," Favors said.This technology also solves a problem that has plagued free-standing, or binderless, electrodes for years: scalability. Free-standing materials grown using chemical vapor deposition, such as carbon nanotubes or silicon nanowires, can only be produced in very small quantities (micrograms). However, Favors was able to produce several grams of silicon nanofibers at a time even at the lab scale.

The researchers' future work involves implementing the silicon nanofibers into a pouch cell format lithium-ion battery, which is a larger scale battery format that can be used in EVs and portable electronics.The research is supported by Temiz Energy Technologies. The UC Riverside Office of Technology Commercialization has filed patents for inventions reported in the research paper.

5) Ocean animals have bulked up since ancient eras:

Size of marine creatures averages 150 times bigger than 540 million years ago. Marine animals have become much bigger over time, scientists report February 20 in Science. This finding lends evidence to Cope’s rule, which states that animals often evolve to be larger than their distant ancestors. The hypothesis takes its name from 19th century paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope, who noticed this trend in the fossil record.

The researchers compared body size measurements of animals over a period spanning from 542 million years ago, during the Cambrian Period, to today. The animals included species from more than 17,000 genera, among them trilobites, plesiosaurs (extinct reptiles with a long neck and flippers), whales and clams, as well as many less familiar creatures.

Marine animals today are on average 150 times larger than they were during the Cambrian, the researchers found. The smallest animals alive today — tiny crustaceans called ostracods — are only about one-tenth the size of the Cambrian’s tiniest animals. But today’s largest marine animals — whales — are more than 100,000 times bigger than the biggest in the Cambrian.

“Classes of animals that were already big … tended to persist longer and diversify more than classes that were, on average, smaller,” says Noel Heim, a coauthor of the study and a paleontologist at Stanford University.

The size gains in marine animals are much larger than would be expected by chance, says Jonathan Payne, another coauthor at Stanford.

The scientists don’t know for sure what drives the trend. One possibility is an arms race between predators and prey, in which larger animals are less likely to become a snack. Another is that when mammals and reptiles returned to the ocean, retaining the ability to breathe oxygen-rich air rather than water made it easier for them to outgrow many water-breathing animals.

Movies News This Week:

Bianca (Mae Whitman) is a content high school senior whose world is shattered when she learns the student body knows her as ‘The DUFF’ (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) to her prettier, more popular friends (Skyler Samuels & Bianca Santos). Now, despite the words of caution from her favorite teacher (Ken Jeong), she puts aside the potential distraction of her crush, Toby (Nick Eversman), and enlists Wesley (Robbie Amell), a slick but charming jock, to help reinvent herself. To save her senior year from turning into a total disaster, Bianca must find the confidence to overthrow the school’s ruthless label maker Madison (Bella Thorne) and remind everyone that no matter what people look or act like, we are all someone’s DUFF.

When Lou (Rob Corddry) finds himself in trouble, Nick (Craig Robinson) and Jacob (Clark Duke) fire up the hot tub time machine in an attempt to get back to the past. But they inadvertently land in the future with Adam Jr. (Adam Scott).

James has shut himself off from his surroundings, falling into a world of imagination and darkness. Visits with his psychiatrist have proven unhelpful - though he takes a liking to fellow patient, Val. As James begins to rebel against his single mother, he ventures into the night where he meets a mysterious kid who welcomes him into an eccentric city. Relationships are put to the test as James navigates unfamiliar territory, wrestling with the reality of his own personal wilderness.

The story for Treehouse focuses on missing teenagers and unknown shadows in the local Missouri woods. A brother and sister are kidnapped and two brothers find one of the victims, Elizabeth. Elizabeth is alone and afraid, in an isolated fort; several shadows lurk below. All three classmates will have to face an unimaginable evil, if they are to survive the night.

The wife and child of Raghu (Varun Dhawan) are killed all of a sudden under unfortunate circumstances during a bank robbery. The only mistake they commit is to be present at the wrong place at the wrong time. This leads to an intense revenge drama.

The movie then follows Raghu’s life for the next 15 years. In the mean while, bank robber and murderer Liak (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) gets old in the jail and is surviving with a hope that he will be out after 20 years and lead a happy life with the help of the money he robbed along with his partner in crime Harman (Vinay Pathak). Raghu on the other hand, has a different plan for them altogether.

Political News This Week:

1) Modi's strong suit: Bandhgala sold for 4.31 crore:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's monogrammed bandhgala suit that had kicked up a political storm was on Friday sold off for Rs 4.31 crore at an auction that saw a scramble among the bidders on the final day for the two-piece ensemble.The pin-striped navy blue suit that Modi wore for his Summit meeting with the US President Barack Obama on January 25, went to Surat-based diamond trader Lalji Patel and his son after intense bidding in the dying moments of the auction.

"The suit has been purchased for Rs 4.31 crore by Dharmananda Diamond Company's Lalji Patel and his son Hitesh Patel," District Collector Rajendra Kumar announced at the close of the 3-day auction at 5 pm.Chaos prevailed in the last one hour of the auction and bids flew thick and fast for the suit, which according to reports, was worth Rs 10 lakh. No base price was fixed for the auction of the suit.

The opening bid for the suit with Modi's name in full -- Narendra Damodardas Modi -- vertically embroidered on the fabric to look like golden pinstripes was Rs 11 lakh on Wednesday.

District Collector Rajendra Kumar said some bids, including one of Rs five crore, were received after the 5 pm deadline and were disallowed. An elated Lalji Patel told reporters he wanted to do something for the country and the auction gave him a chance for that."I always wanted to do something in the interest of country. This event gave me a chance to do some thing in national interest. I never thought that this incredible suit will come to me," he said.

"All of them had a desire to purchase this suit. They had a good intention that money they are spending will go for the "Clean Ganga Mission'. I also made the bid with the same intention," added Patel.His son Hitesh said his family has a ‘special relation’ with the Ganga which made them shell out the money."Every year we spend 10-15 days on the banks of Ganga, especially at Rishikesh. So we have a special, spiritual and auspicious relation with the river," Hitesh Patel told PTI.

"We made a bid of Rs 4,31,31,000 for the suit as the money will go for cleaning the Ganga. We never thought that we will get the suit for so little," he said, adding he would get the attire altered and wear it before putting it on display at the reception area of the family firm 'Dharmanand Diamonds'.

2) No attempt to curtail Amartya's tenure as Nalanda chancellor: MEA:

The government on Friday rejected Nobel laureate Amartya Sen's contention that it does not want him to continue as Nalanda University Chancellor, saying there was no attempt to ‘curtail’ his tenure and claimed that it was yet to receive the approved minutes of the Governing Board of Nalanda University.

Spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry Syed Akbaruddin said the ministry cannot act as it was yet to receive the approved minutes of the meeting of the GBNU, which happened last month.However, Sen said the minutes were sent a fortnight back and virtually everyone has confirmed the minutes but for the ministry.

Sen, who has long been a critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a letter to the GBNU withdrew his candidature for a second term as Nalanda University chancellor, blaming the absence of government's approval for delay in nod from the Visitor, President Pranab Mukherjee, to his name even though the recommendation was sent to him over a month.

"This delay, as well as the uncertainty involved, is leading, in effect, to a decisional gap, which is not helpful to NalandaUniversity's governance and its academic progress. I have, therefore, decided that in the best interest of Nalanda University, I should exclude myself from being considered for continuing as chancellor beyond this July, despite the unanimous recommendation and urging of the governing board for me to continue," Sen has written in his letter.

Akbaruddin said that in the draft minutes of the GBNU, there were two options either to continue with Sen or the Visitor (Mukherjee) seeking three shortlisted names from the
Board to appoint the successor of the Nobel laureate. "It was up to the Visitor to take a decision," the spokesperson added.

Akbaruddin added that the draft minutes were distributed on February 13 by the GBNU giving two weeks time to submit the comments. The two-week deadline ends on February 27.After this stipulated time period only, the final approved minutes will be out, the Spokesperson added.Sen, also a Bharat Ratna awardee, rued that academic governance in India remains ‘so deeply vulnerable to the opinions of the ruling government’.

"Even though the Nalanda University Act, passed by Parliament, did not, I believe, envisage political interference in academic matters, it is formally the case -- given the legal provisions (some of them surviving from colonial days) -- that the government can turn an academic issue into a matter of political dispensation if it feels unrestrained about interfering," he said.

3) Govt fighting swine flu with ayurvedic meds and isolation wards:

A day after death toll due to swine flu crossed 700, Union Minister of State for Health Shripad Naik said the Centre is sending special ayurvedic medicinal syrups to all states as part of its efforts to combat the influenza.Naik, in charge of the newly-created AYUSH Ministry, claimed that the "situation is under control" saying that medicines are being distributed apart from setting up isolation wards in government hospitals.

"AYUSH can definitely help as ayurveda has special medicinal syrups in this regard. Already 5,000-6,000 people have received the medicine at Rajasthan. The National Institute of Ayurveda at Rajasthan has already sent batches of that medicine to different states and we have also requested them to send the same to other states," he said.The minister was speaking on the sidelines of a day-long State and UT Ministers' conference on AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy), first such event after it was carved out of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

He flagged concern on the states not sending "Utilisation Certificates" on spent funds saying such "non-compliance" was leading to allocation of funds being stopped."The states are supposed to send UCs but if they don't, the allocation stops which many of them are not doing," he said.

Settlement of pending UCs was one of the issues on the agenda of the Conference apart from deliberations on the National Ayush Mission among others.The Union minister asked the states to take expeditious steps in forming separate Ayush departments or to create directorates for direct and fast implementation of the schemes of the ministry.

According to official data, as many as 12 states and UTs are yet to create separate directorates.During the conference, the ministry also underlined that the state-level licensing authorities for Ayurvedic, Siddha and Unani drugs in many states were not in accordance with the stipulated norms and legal provisions."If the drug-manufacturing process is not properly regulated then the whole purpose of our efforts may be lost due to a single untoward incident," a senior official said.

Naik also announced the ministry's decision to set up a National Board for Promotion and Development of Yoga and Naturopathy on the occasion which will formulate policies and programmes related to the two sectors.He further said that the Centre has requested the state governments to organise Yoga camps in schools and colleges on the occasion of International Yoga Day on June 21, adding that more than 11 lakh NCC cadets would perform Yoga on that day.

4) Nitish to take oath as Bihar CM on Feb. 22:

Nitish Kumar will take oath as Chief Minister of Bihar on February 22, ending weeks of political uncertainty in the State.

Nitish, who held half-an-hour long meeting with Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi at the Raj Bhavan in Patna, told reporters later that he will take oath as the Bihar Chief Minister on February 22 at 5 p.m.

The Janata Dal (United) leader said the Governor had asked him to prove his majority on the floor of the House in three weeks time before March 16.

Nitish was accompanied by the MLAs of JD(U), Congress, RJD, CPI and an independent legislator.

He said his government would take a decision on calling the new budget session of the Bihar Assembly and fix a date for the Governor's address to the joint session.

5) Bengaluru cops ban Asaduddin Owaisi from entering city:

City Police Commissioner has imposed prohibitory orders banning the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen President Asaduddin Owaisi from entering the city a week from Thursday, days before his party was to hold a public meeting.

In his order, Commissioner M N Reddi has also prohibited him from participating or speaking at any public meeting or function directly or through audio-visual or any other media in the city.

Reddi said he has banned Owaisi by using the powers vested on him under section 144(3) CrPC.

Owaisi, who in the past has been accused of making hate speeches, said he would challenge the ban in court.

AIMIM had rescheduled its public meeting at Chota Maidan in Bengaluru on February 21 which was to be addressed by Owaisi and other leaders of the Hyderabad-based party.

Earlier, the Bengaluru Police had allowed the party to hold the rally on February 8 but later withdrew the permission.

AIMIM had challenged this in the Karnataka High Court.

Subsequently, the Bengaluru Police told the court they would allow the AIMIM meeting if the party made an application to the Deputy Commissioner of Police (East Division).

Thereafter, the AIMIM approached the DCP (East Division) for permission for the February 21 meeting.

However, a police team on Thursday visited AIMIM headquarters at Darussalam in Bengaluru and served the notice to the 45-year-old politician, issued on behalf of Reddi.

Earlier this month, the police had imposed a similar ban on VHP leader Praveen Togadia on grounds that his "provocative" and "inflammatory" speeches would have "grave" consequences and therefore, likelihood of breach of peace.

Defying multimedia gag by police, Togadia's video recorded speech was played at a rally in the city on February 8 in which he called for "Ghar Wapsi" and establishment of "Constitutional Hindu Nation".

6) Corporate spying: 2 oil ministry staff among 5 held:

Cracking down on a suspected case of corporate espionage, Delhi Police on Thursday arrested two oil ministry officials and three other middlemen for allegedly leaking classified government documents to energy companies for money as late night raids were conducted on offices of some of these firms.In a case reminiscent of the spy scandal in the mid 80s, some journalists who claimed to be independent energy consultants, and employees of certain petro companies were also said to have been detained for questioning in the development that has set off sensation in political and corporate circles.Disclosing details of the case, Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi told media persons that action was taken on a tip off that two persons along with their associates were involved in "procuring, obtaining and stealing the official documents by trespassing into the offices of the petroleum and natural gas ministry at Shastri Bhawan on February 17."

They used to intrude in the night, he said."A trap was laid and three persons came in an Indigo car near Shastri Bhawan. Two persons alighted and went inside while the third remained sitting in the car. After around two hours, when the two persons entered the car, all three persons were apprehended," he said.

They were identified as Lalta Prasad (36), Rakesh Kumar (30) and Raj Kumar Chaubey (39). Official documents were recovered from them.Following up on the arrests, raids were conducted at several establishments, including a prominent building in Connaught Place which houses offices of a leading private petroleum firm.Sources said that more arrests are likely in this case, being probed by the elite crime branch, in the next couple of days.Reliance Industries said it has been brought to the company's notice that one of its personnel has been detained by law-enforcement authorities.

"We are unaware of more details. An internal probe is underway as per our robust internal standards. The matter is under investigation as per law and we are determined to cooperate in every possible manner."We are already in International Arbitration with the said ministry on all important matters. Our only expectation is a fair and expeditious resolution of our legal rights and contentions by the Arbitrators," a company official said. An earlier statement had said that there was no information residing in the ministry which of commercial consequence to us was dropped by the company later.Bassi said documents were stolen, photocopied and leaked from the oil ministry in return for money and the investigators will soon apprehend the recipients of the papers.He said the theft and leaking of confidential documents may have been going on for years. Bassi said this was being leaked to certain independent consultants and energy companies some of whom are being interrogated.

Terming it as a serious case, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said strong action would be taken against the employees of his ministry who allegedly leaked the documents to private companies. "They will be severely dealt with. Police are probing the case. We will take strong action against the guilty. Government will come down hard on them," he said when asked about the case. Asked whether any corporate lobbyist could be involved, the minister said it was up to the police to investigate."The government was conscious. Agencies are investigating. They will come out with full facts," he said.

According to police, during interrogation it was revealed that Lalta Prasad and Rakesh Kumar are brothers and both had earlier been temporarily employed as multi-tasking staff at Shastri Bhawan."In the year 2012, both left the employment. During their stint at Shastri Bhawan, they realized that they could easily lay hand on the official documents.
"They further disclosed that they were assisted by their father Asharam and Ishwar Singh, both multi-tasking staff employees at Shastri Bhawan. Following which, Asharam (58) and Ishwar Singh (56) were also arrested," said Joint Commissioner Ravindra Yadav.Bassi said all those who are recipients of stolen property will be questioned and action taken. If the documents fall under the purview of the Official Secrets Act, then the relevant sections will also be imposed."We have recovered duplicate keys used by them for accessing the offices of the MoPNG officials, forged Id-card and fraudulently obtained temporary passes were also recovered."The indigo car was having an unauthorized signage declaring the car to be of government of India and case was registered at the crime branch police station," said Ravindra Yadav.

Recently CCTV cameras had been installed at Shastri Bhawan. In order to evade the surveillance of CCTV cameras, they got disabled CCTV cameras during the time they entered Shastri Bhawan. Those arrested have been booked under IPC sections of trespass, forgery, theft and others."We are questioning the recipients too. We will catch everyone involved," Bassi said.Pradhan said no one involved will be spared in the case. "Government is very strict on such things... very strict action within the purview of the law will be taken against all those involved," he said.Vigilance was kept after official documents appeared in public domain, he said adding 2-3 persons of his ministry and outside have been arrested by police.Leakage of official documents was a hindrance in running of a free and fair government, he said, adding law will take its own course.
"Those behind this… whosoever is behind will be booked. Let police do its own job, everything will come out," he said.

7) India successful test fires nuclear capable Prithvi-II missile:

India on Thursday successfully test-fired its indigenously developed nuclear capable Prithvi-II surface-to-surface missile with a strike range of 350 km as part of a user trial by the army from a test range at Chandipur in Odisha.

The missile test was carried out from a mobile launcher from launch complex-3 of the Integrated Test Range at about 0920 hrs.With a strike range of 350 km, Prithvi-II is capable of carrying 500 kg to 1,000 kg of warheads and is thrust by liquid propulsion twine engines. It uses advanced inertial guidance system with manoeuvering trajectory.

"The trial of the missile conducted by the Strategic Force Command was fully successful," ITR Director MVKV Prasad told PTI over phone.

"The missile was randomly chosen from the production stock and the entire launch activities were carried out by the specially formed SFC and monitored by the scientists of Defence Research and Development Organisation as part of training exercise," a defence scientist said.

"The missile trajectory was tracked by DRDO radars, electro-optical tracking systems and telemetry stations located along the coast of Odisha," sources said.

"The downrange teams on board the ship deployed near the designated impact point in the Bay of Bengal monitored the terminal events and splashdown," they said.

Inducted into India's SFC in 2003, Prithvi II, the first missile to be developed by DRDO under India's prestigious IGMDP (Integrated Guided Missile Development Program) is now a proven technology, defence sources said.

Such training launches clearly indicate India's operational readiness to meet any eventuality and also establishes the reliability of this deterrent component of India's Strategic arsenal, they said.The last user trial of Prithvi-II was successfully conducted on November 14, 2014, from the same test range in Odisha.

8) Bangladesh a friendly country: Mamata Bannerjee:

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who will embark on a three-day visit to Bangladesh next month, today said the country is a friendly neighbour. "Bangladesh is a friendly country and our neighbour. We have always maintained good relations with that country," Banerjee told the Bengal Global Business Summit here.

Banerjee will pay a three-day visit to Bangladesh starting February 19 on the occasion of Bhasha Divas.She accepted the invitation which reached her on Saturday and is expected to meet Bangladesh President Mohammad Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Her visit assumes significance in the backdrop of her steadfast opposition to the Teesta water-sharing treaty between the two countries and reservation against the Land Boundary Agreement.In 2011, the Chief Minister had backed out at the eleventh hour from the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Bangladesh, opposing the Teesta treaty.Although her government has not indicated any softening of stand on Teesta, it has of late indicated that it would accept the Land Boundary Agreement on exchange of enclaves between the two countries.

Sports News This Week:

1) New Zealand vs England, World Cup 2015: After Tim Southee, BrenDONs over England :

Tim Southee took 7-33 in the most destructive spell in New Zealand’s one-day international history and Brendon McCullum made the fastest 50 in a Cricket World Cup as the tournament co-hosts crushed England by eight wickets on Friday. Southee hurried England out for 123 in 33.2 overs, then McCullum made the embarrassment deeper when he smashed 77 from 25 balls, reaching a half century from 18 deliveries – the third fastest in the history of one-day internationals after A.B. de Villiers (16 balls) and Shahid Afridi (17). Southee’s devastating second spell, when he took 5-10 in four overs, and McCullum’s ruthless onslaught saw New Zealand complete its third straight win in Pool A within seven days. It won with 37.4 overs to spare, before the floodlights had been turned on in the day-night match.

No victory against a top team in New Zealand’s ODI history has been more comprehensive or executed with more callous efficiency. It was hard to recall, amid the drama of falling wickets and the excitement of McCullum’s batting, that England’s captain Eoin Morgan had actually chosen to bat on winning the toss, the single moment of success in England’s humbling afternoon. Morgan bore the appearance of a haunted man by the end of a match which made England’s opening 111-run defeat to Australia seem gentle by comparison. “I feel disappointment more than anything,” he said. “With the benefit of hindsight I wouldn’t have … batted (first) if I knew it was going to swing for that long.” He gave New Zealand credit, though, for “one of the best bowling displays we’ve come across since we’ve been down this side of the world.” Southee began a record-breaking day with the ball: he beat his own best ODI return of 5-33, then went on the surpass Shane Bond’s 6-23 (against India) to produce the best bowling return by a New Zealander in the 50-over format.

2) World Cup 2015: I could feel it out there, says Sean Williams :

For a man who had contemplated walking away from his country, Sean Williams delivered when they needed it the most on Thursday with a match-winning 76 not out that gave Zimbabwe a tense four-wicket victory over UAE in the World Cup.

The stylish left hander dug his side out of a hole at the Saxton Oval in Nelson, combining with Craig Ervine in an 83-run partnership that took the Africans to the brink of victory before his partner was dismissed with 36 runs needed. Williams remained at the crease to see his side home, belting three successive fours to ensure Zimbabwe passed UAE’s 285 for seven with two overs to spare and ended a seven-match losing streak for Elton Chigumbura’s side. The all-rounder admitted to some nerves during his side’s innings as he had recognised the mantle of scoring the 119 runs needed for victory would probably fall to him and fellow southpaw Ervine when they came together at 167-5. “I could feel it out there,” he told reporters in Nelson. “I tried not to show it. I was just trying to breathe and relax and stick to what we have been doing at training.” Coincidentally it was training that had got the 28-year-old into trouble, again, with Zimbabwe officials late last year. Williams missed some training sessions due to a family illness, which prompted a confrontation with then coach Stephen Mangongo and being dropped for the Bangladesh tour. That forced him to consider leaving Zimbabwe altogether to seek a playing future in either South Africa or England. It would have been the third time he made himself unavailable for the national side after clashes with officials, but Mangongo was sacked in December and strong domestic form saw him brought back into the side. A poor showing in Zimbabwe’s first game of the tournament against South Africa in Hamilton had given him the motivation to succeed on Thursday. “The previous game against South Africa, I felt flustered at the wicket and it was coming that I was going to get out against them,” he said of the eight runs he scored in Sunday’s 62-run defeat. “So I learned from that. Come in, get in, hit the ball down the ground and build an innings then go from there. “All in all I thought it was a good game to watch and to play.”

3) Cricket World Cup 2015: West Indies beat Pakistan by 150 runs:

West Indies reduced Pakistan to 1-4 as they secured a crushing 150-run victory and their first win of the World Cup. Jerome Taylor dismissed three batsmen for ducks and captain Jason Holder also struck in Pakistan's first 19 balls.It was the worst start to an innings in World Cup history and Pakistan were all out for 160 in 39 overs in Christchurch, with Taylor taking 3-15.Andre Russell smashed 42 not out off 13 balls as West Indies hit 115 from the final 10 overs to finish on 310-6.After such an entertaining display of big hitting at Hagley Oval, few would have expected the drama that followed.

Fast bowler Taylor dismissed Nasir Jamshed with the second ball of the innings, Younus Khan with the sixth and Haris Sohail with the 18th in a devastating spell of three wickets for one run that left Pakistan's hopes in disarray.Holder added to Pakistan's misery by removing Ahmed Shehzad - the only Pakistan player to have scored a run - next ball.Russell soon sent Misbah-ul-Haq on his way for seven before Sohaib Maqsood (50) and Umar Akmal (59) stopped the collapse.Sammy ended their stand of 80 and wickets continued to fall before Pakistan were all out with 11 overs remaining."It was a wonderful performance," said West Indies skipper Holder. "We batted really well."Russell, Lendl Simmons and Darren Sammy added impetus at the end of the innings, then Taylor was excellent with the new ball."The defeat leaves 1992 champions Pakistan, who face Zimbabwe on 1 March in their next match, bottom of Pool B after two emphatic defeats."It was a tough day, especially after we won the toss," said Pakistan skipper Misbah. "The guys batting up front have been struggling a bit, and that made it very difficult for us, especially on a pitch like that, with the ball seaming a bit. We just have to pick ourselves up."

4) Cricket World Cup 2015: Australia v Bangladesh washed out by rain:

Australia's World Cup Pool A match against Bangladesh in Brisbane was abandoned without a ball being bowled.Heavy rain overnight and throughout the day prevented any play at the Gabba.Both sides took one point from the game and are level on three points in the group, three behind leaders New Zealand.It is only the second World Cup match to be washed out completely, after Sri Lanka against West Indies at The Oval in 1979.The weather prevented captain Michael Clarke from making his return from a hamstring injury, the Australia captain having missed the co-hosts' 111-run win over England on the first day of the tournament.

Clarke has not played a competitive international since having surgery in December, but made 64 in the World Cup warm-up win over the United Arab Emirates.Bangladesh, who beat Afghanistan in their World Cup opener, face Sri Lanka in Melbourne on Thursday, while Australia play unbeaten New Zealand in Auckland on Saturday.England sit bottom of Pool A after losing their first two games. Their next match is against Scotland in Christchurch on Monday.The top four teams from each group qualify for the quarter-finals.

5) India vs South Africa: India break a World Cup jinx

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In the packed trams outside the stadium, they spoke of India’s 130-runs win, the first-ever World Cup victory over South Africa, Shikhar Dhawan’s engaging hundred, Ajinkya Rahane’s cameo, the heartening show of the pacers and the miraculous run-outs. It was a game straight out of a fan’s fantasy. Even Sachin Tendulkar waved to them from the commentary box.

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The roar that started after M S Dhoni called the coin correctly never died. Memorable World Cup wins are about moments, a stunning stroke or a dream ball that sticks in the collective consciousness of the fans. In the days to come when they talk about this India-South Africa game, they will talk in detail about Dhawan flicking Morne Morkel for a six, about Rahane boldly whacking Dale Steyn’s length over long-off and even Virat Kohli’s ever-so-precise punch off Wayne Parnell.

World Cup promos in the years to come will feature clips of the spells Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav bowled. The sight of the South Africans ducking, swaying, getting hit on their fingers, closing their eyes and those run-outs are expected to run on loop. 

After the fans at MCG had clapped, saluted and bowed for their stars, the Men in Blue also acknowledged the role of those with Tricolour painted faces. First Dhawan, and later skipper Dhoni, said the reason for their turnaround was the overwhelming support from the stands. The thousands, who have made India’s away World Cup a home affair, were profusely thanked. 

“Let’s give the benefit of the doubt, let’s say there were 20,000 South African fans. So to get over 50,000 Indian fans in Australia, just adds to the atmosphere. It starts from the warm-up, and with the national anthem, it just multiplies. It’s always good to play in front of good support,” Dhoni said.

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After two phenomenal wins, India, along with New Zealand, is the most talked about team. By playing an entertaining brand of cricket, the neutrals will keep an eager eye on them. Kohli, after the Pakistan game, and Dhawan after his ton against the most complete bowling attack in the tournament, have created an aura around Indian batting. Shami, Yadav and Mohit Sharma now have a reputation of terrorising batsmen with their short bowling. Indian fielders are being discussed for their electric presence and sharp throws. Very early in the tournament, the Indians aren’t just creating the most noise at the stadium. They are also creating the maximum buzz around them. 

Book Of The Week:

The Venice Experiment: A Year of Trial and Error Living Abroad :by Barry Frangipane 

Lured by Venice’s colorful history and its labyrinth of walkways, canals, and bridges, Barry wanted to be more than just a tourist. He convinced his wife Debbie to join him in his Venice experiment, a one-year cultural immersion.

From the exasperating bureaucracy to high tides endangering their ground-floor apartment, these expatriates get far more than they bargained for. Through their initiation into Venetian society, Debbie and Barry discovered the close-knit family of its inhabitants and the oddities of Venice, the improbable city built upon millions of tree trunks driven into the mud sixteen centuries ago.

The quintessential storyteller, Barry Frangipane draws us into the inner life of Venice. With his inexhaustible humor, he takes the reader on his journey abroad, a journey filled with a cast of remarkable characters who will touch your heart.

Barry Frangipane:

Barry Frangipane, a native of Florida, hosts luxury vacations to Italy. While he has read many Pulitzer Prize winning novels, The Venice Experiment is his first attempt at writing one. He is very proud that his new book exemplifies the writing style of Ernest Hemingway, in that they have each written books which contain multiple words combined to form sentences, and occasionally even paragraphs. He knows Italian, French, and the names of many other languages.

The son of middle-class Italian immigrants, Barry has lived in Venice, Italy, Paris, France, and Boulder, Colorado. As creator of Savory Adventures, he hosted luxury vacations to Italy with his wife, Chef Dolce Debbie. His entertaining stories of Italy gave their guests the inside scoop on the local life and traditions.Barry has two children, Stephanie and Amber, and currently lives in Tampa, Florida

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