Science News This Week:
1) Cancer stem cells destroyed with cryoablation and nanoparticle-encapsulated anticancer drug:
Combining nanodrug-based chemotherapy and cryoablation provides an effective strategy to eliminate cancer stem-like cells -- the root of cancer resistance and metastasis, which will help to improve the safety and efficacy of treating malignancies that are refractory to conventional therapies. Cryoablation (also called cryosurgery or cryotherapy) is an energy-based, minimally invasive surgical technique that has been investigated to treat a variety of diseases including cancer, which is done by freezing the diseased tissue to subzero temperature to induce irreversible damage.
C0mbining nanodrug-based chemotherapy and cryoablation provides an effective strategy to eliminate cancer stem-like cells (CSCs) -- the root of cancer resistance and metastasis, which will help to improve the safety and efficacy of treating malignancies that are refractory to conventional therapies.Cryoablation (also called cryosurgery or cryotherapy) is an energy-based, minimally invasive surgical technique that has been investigated to treat a variety of diseases including cancer, which is done by freezing the diseased tissue to subzero temperature to induce irreversible damage. It is particularly attractive for fighting against breast cancer due to its excellent cosmetic outcome to preserve the organ with unnoticeable scar formation on skin. However, cryoablation alone has limited effectiveness on eradicating cancer stem-like cells (CSCs), which may lead to cancer recurrence and/or metastasis post operation. A team of researchers from the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Comprehensive Cancer Center at The Ohio State University introduced an innovative strategy by combining cryoablation with nanoparticle-medicated chemotherapy and demonstrated that the combined therapy can significantly augment the destruction of CSCs, resulting in eliminating nearly all CSCs. This technology provides a new approach to overcome drug resistance of CSCs and improve the safety and efficacy of cancer cryoablation."This novel combined therapy of cryoablation and nanodrug is a significant step forward in improving the safety and efficacy of fighting against cancer. Our study provides the first account of minimizing cancer recurrence by destroying the cancer stem-like cells in the field of cryoablation for cancer treatment." said Xiaoming He, Ph.D., of The Ohio State University and senior author of this paper. "It is valuable to facilitate the clinical applications of cryoablation by eliminating the root of cancer resistance -- the cancer stem-like cells.""The nanoparticles used in this study were optimized for effective drug delivery." said Wei Rao, Ph.D., the lead author of the paper. According to the researchers, an optimized size of the nanodrug facilitates its uptake by cancer cells via endocytosis. A positively charged nanodrug has high electrostatic affinity to the negatively charged cell plasma membrane, which should further facilitate its uptake by cancer cells. Moreover, materials on the nanoparticles have high affinity to CD44 that is one of the common protein complexes overexpressed on cancer stem-like cells. Therefore, the use of nanodrug can help to achieve much-enhanced bioavailability of anticancer drug to cancer stem-like cells compared to conventional chemotherapy using free drug. This particularly attractive feature meets the demand of targeted delivery and therapy and could minimize the drug systemic toxicity. Its combination with cryoablation can significantly augment cryoinjury to ensure complete destruction of all cancer stem-like cells.Currently, research on the combined therapy of cryoablation and nanodrug showed promising results using 3D mammosphere model at the microscale. Future research will focus more on in vivo studies to monitor tumor relapse after the combined treatment and further translate this technology into the clinic. Although more research is required to ascertain its safety and efficacy, this study provides a novel strategy of combining cryoablation and nanodrug that demonstrates great potential to eliminate cancer from its root -- the cancer stem-like cells.
2) Soft robotic fish moves like the real thing: New robotic fish can change direction almost as rapidly as a real fish:
Soft robots don't just have soft exteriors but are also powered by fluid flowing through flexible channels. Researchers now report the first self-contained autonomous soft robot capable of rapid body motion: a "fish" that can execute an escape maneuver, convulsing its body to change direction in just a fraction of a second, or almost as quickly as a real fish can.
S0ft robots -- which don't just have soft exteriors but are also powered by fluid flowing through flexible channels -- have become a sufficiently popular research topic that they now have their own journal, Soft Robotics. In the first issue of that journal, out this month, MIT researchers report the first self-contained autonomous soft robot capable of rapid body motion: a "fish" that can execute an escape maneuver, convulsing its body to change direction in just a fraction of a second, or almost as quickly as a real fish can.
"We're excited about soft robots for a variety of reasons," says Daniela Rus, a professor of computer science and engineering, director of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and one of the researchers who designed and built the fish. "As robots penetrate the physical world and start interacting with people more and more, it's much easier to make robots safe if their bodies are so wonderfully soft that there's no danger if they whack you."
Another reason to study soft robots, Rus says, is that "with soft machines, the whole robotic planning problem changes." In most robotic motion-planning systems, avoiding collisions with the environment is the highest priority. That frequently leads to inefficient motion, because the robot has to settle for collision-free trajectories that it can find quickly.With soft robots, collision poses little danger to either the robot or the environment. "In some cases, it is actually advantageous for these robots to bump into the environment, because they can use these points of contact as means of getting to the destination faster," Rus says.But the new robotic fish was designed to explore yet a third advantage of soft robots: "The fact that the body deforms continuously gives these machines an infinite range of configurations, and this is not achievable with machines that are hinged," Rus says. The continuous curvature of the fish's body when it flexes is what allows it to change direction so quickly. "A rigid-body robot could not do continuous bending," she says.
The robotic fish was built by Andrew Marchese, a graduate student in MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and lead author on the new paper, where he's joined by Rus and postdoc Cagdas D. Onal. Each side of the fish's tail is bored through with a long, tightly undulating channel. Carbon dioxide released from a canister in the fish's abdomen causes the channel to inflate, bending the tail in the opposite direction.Each half of the fish tail has just two control parameters: the diameter of the nozzle that releases gas into the channel and the amount of time it's left open. In experiments, Marchese found that the angle at which the fish changes direction -- which can be as extreme as 100 degrees -- is almost entirely determined by the duration of inflation, while its speed is almost entirely determined by the nozzle diameter. That "decoupling" of the two parameters, he says, is something that biologists had observed in real fish."To be honest, that's not something I designed for," Marchese says. "I designed for it to look like a fish, but we got the same inherent parameter decoupling that real fish have."That points to yet another possible application of soft robotics, Rus says, in biomechanics. "If you build an artificial creature with a particular bio-inspired behavior, perhaps the solution for the engineered behavior could serve as a hypothesis for understanding whether nature might do it in the same way," she says.Marchese built the fish in Rus' lab, where other researchers are working on printable robotics. He used the lab's 3-D printer to build the mold in which he cast the fish's tail and head from silicone rubber and the polymer ring that protects the electronics in the fish's guts.
The long haul
The fish can perform 20 or 30 escape maneuvers, depending on their velocity and angle, before it exhausts its carbon dioxide canister. But the comparatively simple maneuver of swimming back and forth across a tank drains the canister quickly. "The fish was designed to explore performance capabilities, not long-term operation," Marchese says. "Next steps for future research are taking that system and building something that's compromised on performance a little bit but increases longevity."
A new version of the fish that should be able to swim continuously for around 30 minutes will use pumped water instead of carbon dioxide to inflate the channels, but otherwise, it will use the same body design, Marchese says. Rus envisions that such a robot could infiltrate schools of real fish to gather detailed information about their behavior in the natural habitat."All of our algorithms and control theory are pretty much designed with the idea that we've got rigid systems with defined joints," says Barry Trimmer, a biology professor at Tufts University who specializes in biomimetic soft robots. "That works really, really well as long as the world is pretty predictable. If you're in a world that is not -- which, to be honest, is everywhere outside a factory situation -- then you start to lose some of your advantage."
The premise of soft robotics, Trimmer says, is that "if we learn how to incorporate all these other sorts of materials whose response you can't predict exactly, if we can learn to engineer that to deal with the uncertainty and still be able to control the machines, then we're going to have much better machines."
3) What happened when? How the brain stores memories by time:
New research shows that a part of the brain called the hippocampus stores memories by their "temporal context" -- what happened before, and what came after -- and not by content. From brain scans of the hippocampus as the volunteers were answering questions in this study, researchers could identify patterns of activity specific to each image. But when they showed the volunteers the same images in a different sequence, they got different patterns of activity. In other words, the coding of the memory in the hippocampus was dependent on its context, not just on content.
Before I left the house this morning, I let the cat out and started the dishwasher. Or was that yesterday? Very often, our memories must distinguish not just what happened and where, but when an event occurred -- and what came before and after. New research from the University of California, Davis, Center for Neuroscience shows that a part of the brain called the hippocampus stores memories by their "temporal context" -- what happened before, and what came after."We need to remember not just what happened, but when," said graduate student Liang-Tien (Frank) Hsieh, first author on the paper published March 5 in the journal Neuron.The hippocampus is thought to be involved in forming memories. But it's not clear whether the hippocampus stores representations of specific objects, or if it represents them in context.Hsieh and Charan Ranganath, professor in the Department of Psychology and the Center for Neuroscience, looked for hippocampus activity linked to particular memories. First, they showed volunteers a series of pictures of animals and objects. Then they scanned the volunteers' brains as they showed them the same series again, with questions such as, "is this alive?" or "does this generate heat?"The questions prompted the volunteers to search their memories for information. When the images were shown in the same sequence as before, the volunteers could anticipate the next image, making for a faster response.From brain scans of the hippocampus as the volunteers were answering questions, Hsieh and Ranganath could identify patterns of activity specific to each image. But when they showed the volunteers the same images in a different sequence, they got different patterns of activity.In other words, the coding of the memory in the hippocampus was dependent on its context, not just on content."It turns out that when you take the image out of sequence, the pattern disappears," Ranganath said. "For the hippocampus, context is critical, not content, and it's fairly unique in how it pulls things together."Other parts of the brain store memories of objects that are independent of their context, Ranganath noted."For patients with memory problems this is a big deal," Ranganath said. "It's not just something that's useful in understanding healthy memory, but allows us to understand and intervene in memory problems.
4) Fossil whale skull hints at echolocation’s origins:
Underwater sonar may have developed 34 million years ago. The skull of a newly identified species of extinct toothed whale may help scientists piece together when echolocation evolved underwater.
Recovered from a drainage ditch in South Carolina, the 28-million-year-old fossil has a deep pit in the top of its head that divides the right and left sides of the skull. “It’s a highly unusual feature,” says Jonathan Geisler, an anatomist at the New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, adding that no other known whale, dolphin or porpoise has such a pit. “It’s really bizarre.”
5) Pelican spiders: slow, safe assassins:
Spiders, thank goodness, haven’t evolved assassin drones. But the specialized hunters of the family Archaeidae can kill at a distance.It’s a distance of only a few millimeters. But that’s substantial for these teensy dramas, and enough space to let a group called pelican spiders bring down their wary and dangerous prey: other spiders.The pelican name comes from their profiles. “They look like little birds,” says Hannah Wood of the University of California, Davis. The spider’s body is about the size of a grain of rice, with a front segment that has evolved into a stretched “neck” with a little round “head” on top. (The mouth is actually at the bottom of the “neck”). And a pair of jawlike fanged projections called chelicerae folds down against the neck, where a pelican would tuck its beak.
Pelican spiders don’t build webs. Instead they creep through foliage, tiptoeing upside down under leaves to hunt. A female will carry her eggs with her, in a silk bag she attaches to one leg in the third of her four pairs. The spiders’ back six legs do the walking while the front two sweep circles in the air feeling for prey. A pelican spider that picks up the silk trail of another spider will spend hours at the edge of that spider’s web, plucking now and then and waiting. Unlike the quick spiders you might see skittering up a garden shed wall, Wood says, stalking pelicans are “slow and deliberate.”
But when they strike, it’s fast. The jawlike chelicerae rise 90 degrees and then slam fanged tips into the prey. “Then they pull out one chelicera and leave the other one hanging out there with the spider prey impaled on it,” Wood says.Next it’s just a matter of waiting for the venom to work. Thanks to the pelican spider’s long neck and chelicerae, its prey struggles at a harmless distance.Attacking at jaw’s length is an ancient trick. Biologists first discovered extinct pelican spiders in fossils before realizing the family still lives (in Madagascar, South Africa and Australia). Today’s species split off on their own trajectory as the supercontinent Pangaea was breaking up some 180 million years ago, Wood and her colleagues reported last year in Systematic Biology.Now Wood studies a related family, the trap-jaw spiders (Mecysmaucheniidae), that has evolved the opposite approach to hunting. The spiders have shorter, thicker “necks,” and their superpower is speed. They strike so fast that it’s difficult to see more than a blur even in video recorded at 30,000 frames per second.Ninjalike as pelican spiders are, they’re not the stuff of nightmares. “I’ve never had one try to bite me,” Wood says. When she reaches to catch them, they just drop to the ground. “They’re very shy.”
6) Good vibes for catalytic chemistry:
University of Utah chemists discovered how vibrations in chemical bonds can be used to predict chemical reactions and thus design better catalysts to speed reactions that make medicines, industrial products and new materials. "The vibrations alone are not adequate, but combined with other classical techniques in physical organic chemistry, we are able to predict how reactions can occur," says chemistry professor Matt Sigman, senior author of the study in the Thursday, March 13, issue of the journal Nature.
"This should be applicable in a broad range of reactions. It streamlines the process of designing molecules for uses in new drugs, industrial chemicals and new materials."
Catalysts are chemicals that speed reactions between other chemicals without changing the catalyst itself.Postdoctoral researcher Anat Milo, the study's first author, says use of the new method "can assist the design of reactions with fewer byproducts and much less waste, and the reactions would be more efficient. We are able to directly form the product we want."She and Sigman conducted the study with Elizabeth Bess, a University of Utah Ph.D. student in chemistry. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation.
Shining Infrared Light on Bond Vibrations
Chemical bonds tie atoms together within molecules. But the bonds are not static. They vibrate. Those vibrations reflect changes in distance between atoms in the molecule. For example, in water (H2O) the sole oxygen atom is bound to two hydrogen atoms, and the two bonds constantly change in length."You can think of it like a spring," Sigman says. "You put two different weights on the end of a spring, and the spring vibrates once you put energy into it" by pushing or pulling. In chemical reactions, the energy is added with heat, light or electricity.We cannot see these vibrations with our eyes, but this bending and stretching of chemical bonds can be seen if infrared light is bounced off the molecules -- a method called infrared spectroscopy."This method is an extension of our eyes: wavelengths our eyes cannot detect, we use an instrument to detect," Milo says.An infrared laser is aimed at a sample of a chemical -- gas, liquid or solid -- and certain wavelengths are absorbed. The wavelengths of the absorbed light reveal how the target molecule's chemical bonds vibrate, which in turn tells about the types and positions of atoms in the molecule, the kinds and strength of bonds among atoms and the symmetry of the molecule, Milo says."It's an important structure identification technique to identify the kinds of bonds in a molecule," Sigman says.
Infrared spectroscopy is a well-established method with decades of predictable results. So it now can be simulated in computers and produce results that reflect real experiments. Sigman, Milo and Bess performed such simulations in their study using the university's Center for High Performance Computing."We took several molecules with known bond vibrations, and we used the relationship of these molecules to each other to build a model mathematically of the relative relationship between the bond vibrations in different molecules," Sigman says. "We then built a mathematical relationship between these molecules that provides us with the ability to predict how other molecules will react based on their particular vibrations."To show the method worked, the researchers performed three case studies, each a scenario with a different class of chemicals reacting with each other. They used computer simulations to predict the outcome of the reactions, and then experimentally verified them with real chemical reactions in the laboratory.One case study involved how chemicals known as bisphenols reacted with acetic anhydride. A small protein known as a peptide served as a catalyst to speed the reactions.The chemists simulated bond vibrations on different bisphenols to predict whether, when reacted with acetic anhydride and the catalyst, the resulting molecule would be "left-handed" or "right-handed" -- a chemical property called chirality.Chirality is important because when we consume a food or medicine, it must have the correct "handedness" or chirality "to essentially handshake with the molecules in your body" and do what it is supposed to do, Milo says. For example, a right-handed drug molecule may work, while the left-handed version of the same medicine may not."We managed to predict the handedness of the molecules accurately" 95 percent of the time by analyzing bond vibrations, Milo adds.The second case study was similar to the first, but involved predicting the "handedness" of chemicals made when a catalyst was used to convert a double carbon-carbon bond to a single carbon-carbon bond in a chemical named diarylalkene.In the third case study, the chemists used the method to predict whether a catalyst reacts with one side or the other side of a double carbon-carbon bond -- two carbon atoms connected by two bonds instead of one -- in what is called a Heck reaction, which is commonly used to make pharmaceuticals."It works like a champ," Sigman says.
How can the new method be used for practical purposes?"You would compute infrared vibrations for a specific class of molecules that you are interested in reacting," Sigman says. "You then take a handful of those molecules and you run the reaction and get the results.""Then you take the infrared vibrations you think are important and determine the relationship between those vibrations and the reaction results," he adds. "The resulting mathematical equation allows you to make new predictions about how other chemicals in the class will react."Sigman is collaborating with a major pharmaceutical company to use the new technique to improve chemical reactions for drug manufacturing."Let's say you want to synthesize a molecule," he says. "You have various methods to try, but you don't know which one will work. Our approach allows you to predict if the particular set of reagents -- chemicals reacting with each other -- will give the desired results."Milo added that the new technique "is able to provide predictions that are not possible with classical chemistry methods."For example, it allows chemists to simultaneously examine "steric" and electronic effects in reactions -- something Sigman says now must be done separately. Steric effects are how the size and shape of atoms in a molecule affect how a chemical reaction works. Electronic effects involve how electrons in the atoms are shared within the molecule.
Movie Release This Week:
DreamWorks Pictures’ “Need for Speed” marks an exciting return to the great car culture films of the 1960's and 70's, when the authenticity of the world brought a new level of intensity to the action on-screen. Tapping into what makes the American myth of the open road so appealing, the story chronicles a near-impossible cross-country journey for our heroes -- one which begins as a mission for revenge, but proves to be one of redemption. Based on the most successful racing video game franchise ever with over 140 million copies sold, "Need for Speed" captures the freedom and excitement of the game in a real-world setting, while bringing to life the passion for the road that has made our love of cars so timeless.
The film centers around Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul), a blue-collar mechanic who races muscle-cars on the side in an unsanctioned street-racing circuit. Struggling to keep his family-owned garage afloat, he reluctantly partners with the wealthy and arrogant ex-NASCAR driver Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper). But just as a major sale to car broker Julia Bonet (Imogen Poots) looks like it will save Tobey's shop, a disastrous race allows Dino to frame Tobey for a crime he didn’t commit, sending Tobey to prison while Dino expands his business out west.
Two years later, Tobey is released and set on revenge -- but he knows his only chance to take down his rival Dino is to defeat him in the high-stakes race known as De Leon—the Super Bowl of underground racing. However to get there in time, Tobey will have to run a high-octane, action-packed gauntlet that includes dodging pursuing cops coast-to-coast as well as contending with a dangerous bounty Dino has put out on his car. With the help of his loyal crew and the surprisingly resourceful Julia, Tobey defies odds at every turn and proves that even in the flashy world of exotic supercars, the underdog can still finish first.
Based on the most successful racing video game franchise ever with over 140 million copies sold, “Need for Speed” captures the thrills of the game in a real-world setting. “Need for Speed” is presented by DreamWorks Pictures, produced by John Gatins, Pat O’Brien and Mark Sourian and directed by Scott Waugh. The screen story is by John Gatins and George Gatins and the screenplay is by George Gatins and John Gatins, based on the video game series created by Electronic Arts. The film releases in U.S. theaters on March 14, 2014
A young woman studying the habits of webcam chat users from the apparent safety of her apartment witnesses a brutal murder online and is quickly immersed in a nightmare in which she and her loved ones are targeted for the same grisly fate as the first victim.
A group of single moms are brought together in the aftermath of an incident at their children's school.
Two kids and their Alaskan Malamute must survive in the wilderness after a plane crash.
A thrilling and horrifying road trip, full of twists and brutal surprises; a suspenseful thriller about a young man and a chilling old house that has survived decades, awaiting the return of its prodigal son… a house that can escalate Nick’s gift to see death before it happens, but holds within its walls the origins of a dark family legacy so horrible it may have already reached out to Nick’s unborn child.
Me and My Shadow tells the story of Shadow Stan, an extremely frustrated shadow who yearns for a dynamic life but happens to be stuck with Stanley Grubb, the world's most boring human. Finally pushed to the brink, Shadow Stan breaks the singular rule of the Shadow World – "They lead, we follow" – and takes control of Stanley!
Political News This Week:
1) China to Malaysia: Tell the truth about missing plane:
Annoyed over conflicting reports about the missing plane, China on Wednesday night asked Malaysia to verify rumours and share all information about the flight MH370 after official admission that it may have turned back and disappeared over the Straits of Malacca.
"We have send requests to the Malaysian side through diplomatic channels, asking them to check up on rumours right away and inform China of all information available," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a statement.
Qin's remark came after a Malaysian military official said the missing flight may have changed route and turned back from its scheduled course before disappearing last Saturday. Anxieties mounted in China as 154 of the 227 passengers are Chinese and their relatives are annoyed over the confusion and lack of progress even five days after the incident.
Malaysia air force chief Rodzali Daud had said a "blip" detected on the military radar may have been the missing flight MH370 in an area northwest of Penang in the Straits of Malacca, amid uncertainty over where to look for the plane that disappeared with 239 people on board.
Based on this possibility, multinational search operation was expanded to the Strait of Malacca and South China Sea with more countries joining in the mission. Forty-two ships and 39 aircraft have been deployed so far in the hunt for the missing plane that vanished on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. It is still not known what prompted this confusion and why Malaysian officials has to suppress this information. If it is true it also throws up a whole lot of questions including why the plane took a U turn and flew over Malacca straights without informing the ground controls.
Malaysian officials said so far there is nothing to point out to any act of terrorism and cleared two Iranians who travelled by stolen Italian and Austrian passports. India, Japan and Brunei were the latest to join in a massive search mission.When asked by state-run Xinhua news agency about reports that dead bodies were found near Penang, Qin said he could not verify this. Meanwhile, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited the emergency response and command centre here to learn the latest about the search operation. The Chinese team is now expanding their search area to northwest of the Gulf of Thailand, covering some 17 thousand square km in total.China has also employed 10 satellites to provide technological support to locate the missing jet. Also China today termed reports of its planes searching Malaysian territory for clues as "inaccurate" as the search operations extended to waters around Andaman islands."Relevant reports of Chinese search in Malaysia is inaccurate. As far as I know, Chinese aircraft are searching possible waters. So I would like to make a clarification here," Qin told a media briefing earlier.He was reacting to comments by chairman of China's civil aviation administration Li Jiaxiang that search would be extended to land areas.
2) China locates suspected crash site of missing plane:
China on Thursday said it would not give up its efforts in searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane after its satellites spotted three floating pieces of possible debris in the South China Sea between Malaysia and Vietnam.“China will not give up its efforts in searching for the missing aircraft with 154 Chinese passengers aboard as long as there is a glimmer of hope," Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told the media."We will not give up any suspected clue that is being found," he said."We are also looking very closely at all suspected clues showing on satellite images," he said.
His comments came after a Chinese satellite found three floating objects at a suspected crash site of the missing Malaysian Airlines plane.He said that the Chinese government has asked all relevant parties in the ongoing massive international search to enhance coordination to investigate the cause and to locate the missing jetliner as soon as possible.China's State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence said that the objects were monitored in the South China Sea at 6.7 degrees north latitude and 105.63 degrees east longitude, spreading across an area with a radius of 20 km.The satellite images, which were captured around 11 am on Sunday, showed the objects measuring 13 by 18 meters, 14 by 19 meters and 24 by 22 meters respectively.
The images are being analysed, according to the SASTIND.The plane has been missing for over five days since contact with it was lost early on Saturday. It was flying over the Ho Chi Minh air traffic control area in Vietnam and carrying 227 passengers, including 154 Chinese.The international search for the missing plane, which has so far involved at least 40 ships and nearly 40 aircraft from 12 countries, entered its sixth day today, but the whereabouts of the Boeing 777-200 remain unknown.China has employed 10 satellites to provide technological support in attempts to locate the aircraft, which was expected to land in Beijing at 6,30 am local time on Saturday.China's state-run Xinhua news agency quoted Malaysia's Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein as saying that Malaysia has dispatched an aircraft to the site, where Chinese satellites photographed the three "suspected floating objects" in search for the missing jet.
3) AAP ki kasam! When Mumbai totally fell for Kejriwal:
Mumbaikars waved boisterously, some jumped out of vehicles to have a closer look at their ‘aam aadmi’ hero. They WhatsApped images of him, requested for selfies.
Arvind Kejriwal swept Mumbai off its feet on Wednesday, and how! Rediff.com's Vaihayasi Pande Daniel recalls the Kejriwal wave she witnessed. Pravin Jain got off his scooter with a smile on his face.He quickly parked it in front of a small eatery in a galli near Novelty Cinema, close to Lamington Road in South Mumbai. He then made his way to the centre of the street, diving right into the middle of the thick crowd and approaching the slow-moving jeep to wave and say 'hello' to Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal.
“Veer aadmi hain (he’s a brave man),” Jain says with vigorous admiration and then returned to his scooter and went on his way.
That tiny moment Jain took out of his probably busy day, to tip his hat to this new, unlikely Indian hero, mirrored similar reactions, everywhere, on Wednesday in Mumbai.
Kejriwal’s caravan colourfully kicked off its first public rally in Mumbai, not surprisingly, at the historic August Kranti Maidan, south Mumbai, brandishing jhadoos (brooms), from an open jeep. Ahead of them moved a tempo where AAP partywallahs cheerfully belted out slogans and songs to the accompaniment of guitars and danced, banging desi tambourines.
With Kejriwal, in the election jeep, was Aam Aadmi Party candidate for Mumbai South and former banker Meera Sanyal, looking regal, not a hair out of place, but somewhat disconnected, in a splendid silk sari, and Medha Patkar, social activist-turned-AAP candidate from Mumbai North East, by contrast in a plain sari, rallying the crowds with her special common touch.
4)Sheela Says: Will Jaya realise her national dream?:
In Tamil Nadu politics J Jayalalithaa is the queen of all she surveys today. Some factors may still dent her high ambition.In Tamil Nadu, all the political parties are fighting two elections. One is the Lok Sabha election of 2014 and the other one, in their mind, is the 2016 assembly election.
The state has 39 Lok Sabha seats plus one seat in the Union territory of Pondicherry.Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa is walking into the battlefield with maximum confidence. She is well poised because there are no corruption scandals dogging her this time round.
Her nearest rival, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, is a house divided and its leader M Karunanidhi is nearing the sunset of his political career.Her populist schemes like low-cost Amma idlis, cooked rice and bottled water have touched a chord among voters and in spite of her age her demeanour is intact -- a firm, queen-like poise, always.
She is aiming for all the 39 + 1 seats, and even her detractors say she will get nothing less than 15 to 20 seats.This time, Tamil Nadu politics is about Jayalalithaa versus all other parties.Jayalalithaa started her campaign early and declared all her candidates well on time. The divide in Karunanidhi's family gives her an edge that will work as a bonus. She has taken a tough stand on Sri Lanka-related issues and that helps her garner the anti-Congress and anti-United Progressive Alliance votes.
Jayalalithaa being Jayalalithaa, it is difficult to catch her on the wrong foot.She ruthlessly dumped the alliance with the Left parties when they could not agree on a seat-sharing arrangement.One of the interesting questions from this election will be -- will Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congrees get more seats than Jayalalithaa?
The race between two ladies and even Mayawati is to bag the title of 'third biggest party' after the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress. Mamata and Jayalalithaa have recently talked coyly about each other and raised hopes of a post-election federal front.On the planks of 'controversy-free' rule, more than dozen welfare schemes, and the anti-Sri Lanka issue, Jayalalithaa is set to win an impressive number of seats and play an important role in New Delhi.The only minus point for her is that there is a multi-pronged contest in Tamil Nadu.Ranged against her party are the DMK, the Congress, the Left parties and the newly-formed front that includes Vaiko's Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Dr Ramadoss's Paattali Makkal Katchi and actor Vijaykanth's Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam and the BJP In each Lok Sabha contest, the AIADMK will face a minimum of three prominent candidates.Neither the DMK nor the AIADMK has declared a prime ministerial candidate, nor have they declared support to any outsider. The Lok Sabha election will still be local in character here.
Here is the tragic picture of a family feud. Karunanidhi is 90 and still worrying about his beloved party's diminishing fortunes. Although son M K Stalin is his preferred choice as successor, it is quite like a Mughal family saga where family clashes bring down everything including the throne.
Karunanidhi is worried about daughter Kanimozhi's future too.
Stalin has received two decades of training under his father, but it is elder son M K Alagiri who is the politician with raw wisdom and a desi touch. He has been abandoned by the family, but he is likely to play a role in the assembly election.
Stalin will meet his match in his brother then.
The Congress and DMK could not finalise a deal for the Lok Sabha election mainly because Stalin's eyes are set on the assembly election and the party wants to keep its options open to join the incoming government in New Delhi.Rediff.comIt will help the party get external help to take on Jayalalithaa. According to early reports, 2G scam-tainted DMK leader A Raja is likely to retain his Lok Sabha seat, the Nilgiris. That is Tamil Nadu!
The Modi factor
It is a novelty of this election that Tamil Nadu politics, which works differently from national politics, is witnessing some visible support for Narendra Modi. He is supported by non-Tamil migrant students and also by a young section of the Tamil middle class.
It is the Congress, and not the BJP, that is untouchable in Tamil Nadu. See how the perception of the saffron party changes dramatically in a staunch Tamil-speaking society.Rediff.comThe downfall of the Congress has contributed to the BJP getting some space in this region. The BJP's alliance is likely to win seats here.
All the parties are focusing their energy to hit the Congress hardest. In doing so, issues related to Sri Lanka, like the fishermen's issue, human rights violations, rehabilitation of Sri Lankan Tamils and, above all, the commuting of death sentences of Rajiv Gandhi's killers will be played up.
Somewhere, Jayalalitha's hope is to get lucky and be in the race for prime minister. That will only be possible if the BJP and Congress are restricted to 250 Lok Sabha seats.
The importance of Tamil Nadu in government formation in New Delhi lies in Jayalalithaa's final seat tally.
5) Don't bother about rules in anti-Naxal op: CRPF DG to men:
The Central Reserve Police Force top boss on Thursday said he has asked his troops deployed in anti-Naxal operations to even go to the extent of "violating" the Standard Operating Procedures if such a diversion in rules is required for operational efficiency and safety of the men.
Dismissing suggestions that there was a contravention of set SOPs by his personnel during the March 11 Naxal ambush in Chhattiagarh's Sukma which killed 11 CRPF men and four others, CRPF Director General Dilip Trivedi told PTI that the incident will not deter the paramilitary, and the paramilitary force will be more "steadfast" in deploying their operational tactics in beating the Naxals.
"The top brass of the force cannot take away the initiative of the field commander. The commander on ground has to deploy his hunch and instinct while he is out in an operational area. I have told them that you can even violate the SOPs, provided that is in the interest of the operations and safety of troops," Trivedi said, a day after he returned to the national capital after touring the ambush area in south Bastar's Tongpal for an on-spot assessment.
He said the SOPs, in an operational area, are meant to be flexible keeping in mind the emerging and immediate threat and dynamic activity on the ground.The CRPF chief said the force headquarters has issued some fresh directives to commanders while operating in the Naxal affected areas."I will not go into the details of our operational tactics but yes we have told our men and officers that we should break the monotonous drills while rendering routine duties like that of road opening and frequently visiting an area."We have told them to keep flexibility in their operations so that their movement remains unknown till the last moment," the DG said.Terming the latest ambush a "planned attack" by close to 200 Naxals, Trivedi said the Naxals used an assortment of looted police weapons like LMGs and SLRs to inflict
causalities on the 45-personnel strong joint forces squad which was out early morning on Tuesday in one the most notorious Maoist violence affected areas of the state, which is in the 'Jeeram Ghati' area. This is the same place where the ultras had killed the top leadership of state Congress last year in May. The DG, talking about the ambush, said a strong squad of about 30 women Maoists was instrumental in looting close to 20 weapons like AK series rifles, SLRs and under barrel grenade launchers held by the troopers who were killed in the deadly trap.Trivedi said there were not much options in taking a safe route for security forces like CRPF, who are deployed for securing the road work projects in the Naxal affected state.
"The roads are sign of development and normalcy in the Maoist affected areas and the Naxals are against this. But we will give full security to road construction workers despite we being at an disadvantage at certain places," the CRPF chief said.Right after the March 11 ambush, the DG who flew to a company base in Jagdalpur said, I talked to my men and told them that Naxals are a "monster" and we have to take them on. He said the CRPF and Chhattisgarh police squad that was trapped in the incident "fought valiantly and retaliated the Naxal squad after heavy firing was launched at them" from two sides of the 3-feet 'medh' (earthen wall) of the nearby fields.
"The squad stood their ground and retaliated for the entire one-hour time that the encounter happened. Our boys displayed intelligence in not stepping on pressure bombs which the Maoists had planted along the flanks of the road with a thought that shaken with their firing the security personnel will try to fall apart and abandon the road to take the dirt tracks," he said.
Trivedi, who is the top police official entrusted with the movement of forces during polls, said the security force will "give their best" in ensuring peaceful elections in Naxal violence hit areas.He said the forces, in few states, will be mobilised from Friday and enough measures have been put in place to orient them for the task at hand.Meanwhile, a senior official involved in anti-Naxal operations in the state, said there were intelligence inputs of Naxal movement in not only Sukma district but the entire southern part of the central Indian state and this was acted upon by both the state police and paramilitary forces.
6) Modi will contest Lok Sabha polls from one seat in Gujarat: BJP:
The Gujarat Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday announced that Chief Minister Narendra Modi will contest elections from one seat in the state, without ruling out the possibility that he may fight on a second seat from Uttar Pradesh."I can definitely say that Modiji will fight elections from one seat in Gujarat," state BJP general secretary Vijay Rupani told reporters.
"There has been a clamour to invite Narendra Modi to fight elections from four main cities of the state -- Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Vadodara and Surat. Our party workers want him to contest from Gujarat," Rupani said."Our (state BJP) parliamentary board had met over the last four days and decided that Modi would contest from one seat in Gujarat," he said, adding that the decision on which seat he will contest from is yet to be taken.
When asked if Modi will also contest from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP leader said, "I do not know anything about that seat, but it will be decided by our central parliamentary board."There has been lot of confusion about which seat Modi will enter the poll fray from.The BJP's prime ministerial candidate is at present in Delhi to attend the meetings of the central parliamentary board and the central election committee.However, state party leaders said that candidates for Gujarat seats will not be discussed in those meetings.To a question on whether party veteran L K Advani will be contesting from Gandhinagar, from where he has been elected five times, Rupani said, "The central parliamentary board will decide about that.""We have not finalised the panel of names for the Lok Sabha seats in the first round of meeting of the parliamentary board. We will meet again after Holi to do that," he said.
BJP Gujarat unit's parliamentary board had met on Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday at the residence of Modi, in his presence."Our (state) parliamentary board is likely to meet again to finalise the names of panels of candidates for the 26 Lok Sabha seats," state BJP spokesperson Harsad Patel said.
Sports News This Week:
1) Sri Lanka's fifth triumph, and Fawad's special feat:
Sri Lanka's five-wicket win against Pakistan gave them their fifth Asia Cup title, equaling India's five title wins. The last time Sri Lanka won the title was in 2008. Sri Lanka have now won 34 matches in the Asia Cup - the highest by a team in the tournament.
Sri Lanka have won nine ODIs on the trot, starting with their win against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi last year. This is just one short of their longest streak of wins which lasted for ten ODIs between February 2004 and July 2004.
Lahiru Thirimanne's 101 in this match was his third ODI century and his second against Pakistan in this Asia Cup. In the league match between the two teams earlier in the tournament, Thirmanne had scored 102. He finished as the batsman with most runs in the tournament, making 279 runs at 55.80 from five innings and won his first Man-of-the-Series award.
Mahela Jayawardene chose an opportune time to come to form, with his first fifty-plus score in 14 innings. Since his century against India in Kingston last year, in 13 innings, Jayawardene had scored 218 at 16.76. He averages 38.03 in finals, which is higher than his career average of 33.17.
Jayawardene's 75 was his 11th fifty-plus score in the finals of an ODI series. With this, he joined Kumar Sangakkara at No. 3 in the list of batsmen with most fifty-plus scores in finals of any ODI tournament. Sachin Tendulkar leads this list with 16 such scores followed by another Sri Lankan, Sanath Jayasuriya, who has 15 fifty-plus scores.
Sri Lanka's third wicket added 156 runs after Saeed Ajmal's twin strikes pegged them back, which is the second-highest partnership for the third wicket by any pair in the final of a tournament and only the second to cross 150 runs. Mohammad Azharuddin and Navjot Sidhu added an unbeaten 175 against Sri Lanka in the 1994-95 Asia Cup final, which is the highest partnership in the tournament for the third wicket.
Jayawardene's four off a free-hit from Mohammad Talha in the 36th over was his 1000th in ODIs. He joins nine other batsmen who have hit 1000 or more fours in ODIs. Jayasuriya (1500 fours) and Sangakkara (1202 fours) are the other Sri Lanka batsmen in this list.
Lasith Malinga took all the five Pakistan wickets that fell in this match. This was his seventh five-wicket haul and his second five-for against Pakistan in two consecutive matches against them. This is the first time that a bowler has taken two five-fors against a team in a tournament involving five or more teams. Mallinga's ten wickets against Pakistan are the most by a bowler against a team in such tournaments. In ODIs when Sri Lanka have taken four or more wickets against the opposition, this is the first time that one bowler has taken all the wickets.
2) German court sentences Bayern boss Hoeness to jail for tax evasion:
A German court convicted Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness of tax evasion on Thursday and sentenced the man who turned the soccer club into one of the world's most successful sports dynasties to 3-1/2 years in jail.
Judge Rupert Heindl ruled that Hoeness's voluntary disclosure that he had failed to pay taxes had been incomplete and thus did not meet a vital requirement needed for amnesty under laws designed to encourage tax evaders to come clean.
Hoeness has admitted evading 27.2 million euros in taxes on income earned in secret Swiss bank accounts, but the soccer club executive was hoping for leniency in one of the most closely watched tax evasion cases in German history.
"The voluntary disclosure is not valid with the documents that were presented alone," said the judge. He said the confession was riddled with mistakes and that Hoeness had failed to submit other documents requested by tax inspectors on time.
The 62-year-old Hoeness, who also owns a Bavarian sausage factory, bowed his head and stared at the floor when the verdict was delivered, his face turning red as he struggled to retain his composure. He left the court in silence, avoiding reporters.
The case hinged on the question of whether Hoeness, who as a player helped West Germany win the 1974 World Cup, cooperated fully with his voluntary disclosure. His case shocked the nation and prompted thousands of tax dodgers to turn themselves in.
Hoeness's defence lawyers immediately announced they would appeal to the Federal Court of Justice.
"The high court will decide if his voluntary disclosure was valid, or partially valid or botched," said lawyer Hanns Feigen. "That's the interesting point. The key point is the way a taxpayer is being treated - as if he hadn't turned himself in."
The maximum sentence for tax evasion is 10 years and the prosecutors, citing Hoeness's cooperation, had sought a 5-1/2 year sentence.
Hoeness was first charged with evading 3.5 million euros in taxes. But when the trial began on Monday he stunned the court by admitting he had actually evaded five times that amount - or 18.5 million euros.
That figure was raised further to 27.2 million euros on the second day of the trial based on testimony by a tax inspector. Hoeness's defence team acknowledged the higher figure.
3) Federer, Djokovic advance as Murray, Wawrinka fall:
Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic cruised into the quarter-finals of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells on Wednesday after Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and Australian Open winner Stanislas Wawrinka both fell in the fourth round.
In a tournament full of surprises, Federer and Djokovic struck a blow for the old world order with Federer beating Germany's Tommy Haas 6-4 6-4 and Djokovic coming back to down Croatia's Marin Cilic 1-6 6-2 6-3.
Federer and Djokivic are the only players ranked in the world's top 10 to reach the quarter-finals after Wawrinka and Murray joined the big-name casualties when they both crashed to lower-ranked opponents on another day of upsets in the Californian desert.
Wawrinka suffered his first loss this year when his 13-match winning streak came to a shuddering halt as he was beaten 7-6(1) 4-6 6-1 by South African Kevin Anderson.
"It wasn't really on my mind that he had won Australia," said Anderson, whose next opponent is Federer.
"It feels great to beat somebody who obviously has just won a grand slam."
Murray was blown away by Canada's Milos Raonic, one of the biggest servers in men's tennis.Despite winning the first set, the Scotsman was unable to contain the raw power of Raonic, who triumphed 4-6 7-5 6-3 in a little over two hours.Raonic blasted 15 aces past his bewildered opponent, who is one of the best returners in the game, and won a staggering 83 percent of points when he landed his first serve.Murray did break Raonic's serve in the opening set and again in the deciding third to lead 2-1 but lost the next four games in a row against the 6ft 5in (1.96 metre) tall Canadian."To get broken two consecutive times in that situation isn't good enough. I played poor tennis at that stage. I didn't make enough balls and I missed some really easy shots," Murray told reporters.
"It's tough to win matches like that, because against him, he obviously wins a lot of free points with his serve. So over the course of the set, if you give up enough unforced errors on basic shots, then with the amount of free points he gets on his serve, that's going to add up to a negative result."
Raonic's next opponent in the quarter-finals will be Ukrainian giant killer Alexandr Dolgopolov, who followed up his upset victory over Rafa Nadal on Monday with a comprehensive 6-2 6-4 drubbing of Italy's Fabio Fognini.
"I think the most important thing is obviously my serve and the beauty of that is nobody can affect me," Raonic said.
Already a four-time champion at Indian Wells, Federer is now on a nine-match winning streak after taking the title in Dubai before heading to Indian Wells but said he was wary about Anderson, who has reached a career-high ranking of 18 after making the final of his last two tournaments.
"I know how tough he is," Federer said. "He's the best here usually in the States, outdoors on the hard courts. That's when he's had his biggest success.
"I'm aware that this is not going to be an easy match just because he's not ranked in the Top 10."
4) Virat Kohli thanks Cristiano Ronaldo for inspiration:
Indian cricketing sensation Virat Kohli has thanked Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo for being the inspiration to not only him but million others in various walks of life.
Kohli, claiming to be the biggest fan of Cristiano in his Herbalife ad shoot, revealed that he used to support Manchester United when the Portuguese was with the Old Trafford club, but now his allegiance has shifted to Spanish giants Real Madrid following the big money move of the football player in 2009.
Kohli also adds how he admires the 29-year-old’s passion and aggression on the field and how Cristiano has inspired him to be the best cricketer in the world.
Cristiano responded to the Indian cricketer on Twitter, thanking him for his kind words, while also advertising for the Herbalife brand.
5) Felipe Massa set to pay tribute to Michael Schumacher at Australian Grand Prix:
Felipe Massa and Michael Schumacher during the latter’s glory daysAt a time when doctors are busy figuring out ways to get seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher back on track and the world is spending hours in prayers for his speedy recovery, there is someone out there doing his own bit for the German legend.
Felipe Massa, Michael’s former team-mate, has confirmed that he will be displaying a message of support for Schumacher at Sunday’s season opener, the Australian Grand Prix, which is the first Formula One race since a skiing accident left the German legend fighting for his life.
The Brazilian driver said that he will drive with the initials “MS” emblazoned on his helmet in Melbourne.Schumacher remains in a medically-induced coma since the time he hit his head on a rock while skiing at the French resort of Meribel on December 29. His family have said that the 45-year-old is showing ‘small, encouraging signs’ of recovery, while acknowledging that he faces a long battle ahead.Massa, who paired up with Schumacher during the German’s glory years at Ferrari, had also paid an emotional tribute to his friend on Twitter.“Michael is always with me!! Be very strong Brother!! Love!! #19,” he tweeted, signing off with his car number.
Book of this Week:
Americanah : by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:
From the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun, a dazzling new novel: a story of love and race centered around a young man and woman from Nigeria who face difficult choices and challenges in the countries they come to call home.
As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are leaving the country if they can. Ifemelu—beautiful, self-assured—departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze—the quiet, thoughtful son of a professor—had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.
Years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a writer of an eye-opening blog about race in America. But when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, and she and Obinze reignite their shared passion—for their homeland and for each other—they will face the toughest decisions of their lives.
Fearless, gripping, at once darkly funny and tender, spanning three continents and numerous lives, Americanah is a richly told story set in today’s globalized world: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s most powerful and astonishing novel yet.
Born in the city of Enugu, she grew up the fifth of six children in an Igbo family in the university town of Nsukka in southeastern Nigeria, where the University of Nigeria is situated. While she was growing up, her father James Nwoye Adichie was a professor of statistics at the university, and her mother Grace Ifeoma was the university's first female registrar. Her family's ancestral village is in Abba in Anambra State.
Adichie studied medicine and pharmacy at the University of Nigeria for a year and a half. During this period, she edited The Compass, a magazine run by the university's Catholic medical students. At the age of 19, Adichie left Nigeria and moved to the United States for college. After studying communications and political science at Drexel University in Philadelphia, she transferred to Eastern Connecticut State University to live closer to her sister, who had a medical practice in Coventry. She received a bachelor's degree from Eastern, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2001.
In 2003, she completed a master's degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University. In 2008, she received a Master of Arts in African studies from Yale University.
Adichie was a Hodder fellow at Princeton University during the 2005–2006 academic year. In 2008 she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. She has also been awarded a 2011–2012 fellowship by the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University.Adichie, who is married, divides her time between Nigeria, where she teaches writing workshops, and the United States