Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hemraj's wife files application against Talwars

New Delhi: The Talwars' domestic help Hemraj's wife Kumkala has filed an application in the Ghaziabad court alleging that the Talwars murdered her husband. It is a four-page application which will be taken up on April 27.

She has also alleged that even days before the murder, the Talwars used to call up and threaten Hemraj.
Kumkala's lawyer Naresh Yadav said, "My client has told me that Hemraj was killed by the Talwars. Fifteen days prior to the news of his death, Hemraj told the police that his life had been threatened by Rajesh Talwar."

"As my client lives in Nepal it was difficult for her to come to India on short notice. This is why she waited. However, when the Supreme Court placed a stay order on the case, she decided to approach the court. Unless the SC gives a new order, we will not push for any new proceedings," Yadav said.

Earlier this month, in the Aarushi-Hemraj double murder case, the Supreme Court stayed the Allahabad High Court's order which allowed Nupur and Rajesh Talwar to be tried by prosecutors as the accused in the murder of Aarushi and Hemraj.
Now, the Supreme Court is likely to set a date after the March 28 to hear the case further.

On May 16, 2008, 14-year-old Aarushi Talwar was found dead in her Noida home. The suspicion immediately fell on Talwar's servant Hemraj.
But the very next day his body was found on the terrace of the Talwar's residence. Then suddenly the grieving parents began to be seen as suspects.

On May 23, Rajesh Talwar was arrested by the UP police for the alleged murder of his daughter and his domestic help.
Minutes after the controversial press conference, the police's theory came under scrutiny and the case was handed over to the CBI in June.
On July 12, 2008, just a month and a half later, Rajesh Talwar was freed, when the CBI said it didn't have evidence against him.
The focus then shifted to Krishna, the Talwars' compounder, and Rajkumar and Vijay Mondal, two servants living in the same area.

Joint Director, CBI Arun Kumar had then said, "Krishna has undergone two polygraphic test in Delhi. Narco in Bangalore and Psycho assesment test in AIIMS. On the basis of all that he has been arrested today."

But they too were released on bail after the CBI couldn't file a charge sheet - the result no one knew who killed Aarushi and Hemraj.
Two years of investigations and several scientific tests later, in December 2010 the CBI filed a closure report citing lack of evidence but named Rajesh Talwar as the prime suspect in the case.

The Talwar's filed a protest petition challenging the CBI's report and asked for a re-investigation.
And then in a strange turn of events, on January 25, 2011, Rajesh Talwar was attacked outside the Ghaziabad court by Utsav Sharma, a mentally unstable person who had also attacked former DGP SPS Rathore a year back.

And if that wasn't shocking enough, the court not only rejected the Talwars plea, but even said that Rajesh and Nupur were the main accused in the murders of Aarushi and Hemraj. Aarushi's mother, Nupur Talwar had said, "They have not reached the right conclusion. They have failed in their case." The couple then appealed to the Allahabad High Court, asking for a stay on this order and for a re-investigation.

Gilani might accept PM's invite for Indo-Pak match

Islamabad: Pakistan is yet to decide on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's invitation to its leaders for the cricket World Cup semi-final in Mohali, though indications are that Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani may accept it.Pakistani officials have dismissed reports that Prime Minister Gilani has already accepted his Indian counterpart's invitation to watch the semi-final match between the cricket teams of the two countries, saying a decision would be made when the premier returns from a visit to Uzbekistan.

But, official sources told, it was likely that Pakistan will accept the invitation though only Gilani is expected to go to Mohali to watch the historic match that will showcase one of the world's most intense sporting rivalries.

A top aide of Gilani who was with him in Tashkent, denied a claim by TV channels that the premier had already accepted the invitation extended by Singh on Friday.

Consultations were being held with the Foreign Office about a response, he told the Dawn newspaper. "We have asked for details and serious consideration will be given to it once we return to Pakistan," the official said.

Singh on Friday invited both Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari to watch the semi-final to be played at Mohali on March 30.
Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar told on Friday that Pakistan welcomed the invitation and would make a decision after Gilani returns to Islamabad.

Gilani was scheduled to return on Friday but his flight was cancelled because of bad weather over Himalayas. He is expected to be back in the federal capital later on Saturday.

When Gilani was informed about his Indian counterpart's invitation on Friday evening while visiting a university campus in Uzbekistan, he responded with a broad smile and said it was an "interesting gesture", media reports

The premier held discussions on the Indian invitation with senior officials of the Foreign Office and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, who were with him in Uzbekistan, the media reports said.

Hansika in Madhuri's shoes

The story of Tamil movie Mappillai seems to be a rework of Anil Kapoor-Madhuri Dixit’s smash hit, Jamia Raja and also has resemblance to a Rajnikant blockbuster movie

Hansika Motwani is really excited about the film as she gets to step into the shoes of Madhuri Dixit.

Hansika, who is quite successful down south, is playing the character of Madhuri. The role of the wicked, rich mother played by Hema Malini in the Hindi film has gone to Manisha Koirala Actor Dhanush plays the role of mappillai, meaning jamai, in the movie.

Hansika is as twice as pleased because not only is she getting a chance to play Mads but she is also working with Manisha Koirala.

"I am very excited to be a part of the film and it is indeed an honour to play the role which was played by Madhuri" Hansika tells a daily.

Australian time cheers Genelia

Genelia D’Souza has been shooting for a Telugu movie Orange in Australia for some time. And despite being a person who often travels due to work she is terribly missing her home.

Interestingly, even as she still shoots Down Under the actress says she is feeling closer to home now after the Daylight Saving Time reduced the time gap between India and Australia to just 4 and half hours. The country times its clock to one hour advance as the winter sets in and hence the time gap reduces from five and half hours that it is during the summers. “So now I am 4 and half hours ahead of Indian time instead of 5 and half hours. Feel like I am already getting closer to home… yay!” cheers the actress.

Now that’s surely calls for some celebration at the sets!

Ravi Kishan wants 'Khaike paan' for Bhojpuri 'Don'

New Delhi: Film actor Ravi Kishan is trying his best to get permission to incorporate the song "Khaike paan Benaraswala" in the Bhojpuri remake of Amitabh Bachchan's superhit "Don" as he feels his film will be incomplete without it.

"We are trying to get the permission to use 'Khaike paan Benaraswala' for our film. It is one of the most iconic songs and without it, the film will be incomplete," Ravi told IANS over phone from Mumbai.

The Bhojpuri "Don" will be the second remake of the yesteryear thriller as filmmaker Farhan Akhtar had adapted the script into its modern Hindi avatar "Don - The Chase Begins" in 2006.

Farhan's film featured superstar Shah Rukh Khan and also had a new version of "Khaike paan..." picturised on Shah Rukh and Priyanka Chopra. He is also working on another sequel of the movie.

Ravi promises that the Bhojpuri version will be a complete sell-out among his fans.

"My 'Don' will have a lot of Bhojpuri flavour in it. Even Mr. Bachchan's character in his film spoke in Bihari style, so I think my fans will be able to connect to the character very well. It will have the signature Ravi Kishan style and a heady mix of emotion and romance," he said.

While the basic storyline of the movie - a double role by the male lead - will remain the same, certain changes will be made keeping in mind the new-age audience.

Another factor of the yesteryear film that Ravi has retained in the movie is the popular dialogue - "Don ko pakadna mushkil hi nahin, namumkin hai (Getting hold of Don is not just difficult, it's impossible)".

"How could we not have that dialogue in the film? I love the dialogue and the style with which Mr. Bachchan has said it. I will be saying it in my own style in Bhojpuri," Ravi said.

The actor, who got a lot of popularity through the first season of reality TV show "Bigg Boss" and later even hosted Imagine TV's "Raaz Pichhle Janam Ka", is teaming up with actress Nagma, who moved from Bollywood to southern and Bhojpuri cinema after several controversies in Mumbai.

"Nagma will be seen in Zeenat Aman's role in the film," he said.

The film is being produced by Mehmood Khan and directed by Raj Kumar R. Pandey under the banner of Pen N Camera. The shooting is expected to begin towards April-end in London.

Ravi said foreign technicians are being roped in to add special effects of international standards so that "the movie can reach a larger NRI Bhojpuri audience".

"We are trying to add a lot of newness to this 'Don' in terms of effects, action and planning to experiment with music and trying to give it a trance and techno feel. This film will take Bhojpuri cinema to a new level," the actor said.

In the meantime, Ravi is looking forward to Mani Ratnam's "Ravana" in which he is playing brother to actor Abhishek Bachchan. The movie also features Aishwarya Rai and is expected to release in June.

After Rocket Singh flops, Shazahn eyeing south films

Shazahn Padamsee started off very promisingly with the film Rocket Singh: Salesman of the year opposite Ranbir Kapoor.

But then filmmakers in Bollywood did not think too highly of her because the film had flopped and Shazahn was forced to look elsewhere. Thankfully for her offers came in from the south and she has signed on a film in Tamil called Kanimozhi.
One of the most promising actors from the Tamil cinema called Jai wil be her hero in the film being directed by Goa director Venkat Prabh’s associate Sripathi. The film is being produced by T Siva. Let’s hope that the actress has a better start to her career in the south after her rocket failed to take off in Bollywood.

Wedding bells for Nagma

Nagma has announced that her marriage will take place this year and she will be declaring  the name of the groom shortly.

She has been linked with lot of people including Bhojpuri actor Ravi Kishan and cricketer Sourav Ganguly.

Nagma said these link-ups were completely baseless and it was not true.

She has suddenly entered politics and then changed path to spirituality. Apart from Tamil, Nagma is a popular actress in Telugu, Hindi and Bhojpuri too.
 So guys, who’s the groom when it’s clear that it’s not Ravi Kishan? 

Ravi Kishan goes completely nude

Well hold your breath, before we give you the news. For the first time he will be going completely nude for his film titled 'Man From Banaras' in which he plays an aghori. It is being produced by an American-based company Pun Films and directed by Sudhir Kadam.

As reported the director said, “Aghoris are a cult and there is a myth that they posses supernatural powers. They are usually found in crematoriums and so we will be shooting our film in Banaras's crematoriums. Ravi Kishan is quite okay with the concept and had shed all his inhibitions. The film is basically a love story about a journalist, who comes from abroad to research on the aghoris, and how she is fascinated by aghoris who remain untraceable.

Shruti-Siddharth back to bonding

Shruti Haasan and Siddharth Narayan; the hunk from the South who came to prominence after RDB; seem to be really bonding well these days.

Despite the repeated denials by the couple on their togetherness, Siddharth is very concerned about his ‘friend’s’ bad back. She was overworked while shooting in Hyderabad and said that she felt like she had a broken back.

Shruti will surely be impressed by Siddharth’s prompt concern. He asked via a social networking website, “How is the damaged back?” He also complimented her new picture.

We wonder what was so special about it; but there must be something if Siddharth says so. Shruti also promptly thanked Siddharth for his lavish compliments and said she was much better. She also added the formal ‘how have you been?’!We suggest they exchange phone numbers for a more direct conversation.

Stone tools 'demand new American story'

The long-held theory of how humans first populated the Americas may have been well and truly broken.

Archaeologists have unearthed thousands of stone tools that predate the technology widely assumed to have been carried by the first settlers.

The discoveries in Texas are seen as compelling evidence that the so-called Clovis culture does not represent America's original immigrants.

Details of the 15,500-year-old finds are reported in Science magazine.

A number of digs across the Americas in recent decades had already hinted that the "Clovis first" model was in serious trouble.

But the huge collection of well-dated tools excavated from a creek bed 60km (40 miles) northwest of Austin mean the theory is now dead, argue the Science authors.

"This is almost like a baseball bat to the side of the head of the archaeological community to wake up and say, 'hey, there are pre-Clovis people here, that we have to stop quibbling and we need to develop a new model for peopling of the Americas'," Michael Waters, a Texas A&M University anthropologist, told reporters.

For 80 years, it has been argued that the Clovis culture was the first to sweep into the New World.

These people were defined by their highly efficient stone-tool technology. Their arrow heads and spear points were formidable hunting weapons and were used to bring down the massive beasts of the Ice Age, such as mammoth, mastodon and bison.

Clovis first?
The hunter gatherers associated with this technology were thought to have crossed from Siberia into Alaska via a land bridge that became exposed when sea levels dropped. Evidence indicates this occurred as far back as about 13,500 years.

But an increasing number of archaeologists have argued there was likely to have been an earlier occupation based on the stone tools that began turning up at dig sites with claimed dates of more than 15,000 years.

Dr Waters and colleagues say this position is now undeniable in the light of the new artefacts to emerge from the Debra L Friedkin excavation.

These objects comprise 15,528 items in total - a variety of chert blades, bladelets, chisels, and abundant flakes produced when making or repairing stone tools.

The collection was found directly below sediment containing classic Clovis implements. The dating - which relied on a technique known as optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) that can tell how long minerals have been buried - is robust, says the team. And, they add, the observed sequence is also reliable; the sediments have not been mixed up after the tools were dropped.

"The sediments were very rigid in the fact that they were clay, which worked to our advantage," explained Lee Nordt from Baylor University. "If you go to many other sites, they are loamy or sandy in texture, and they are mixed very rapidly by burrowing from animals or maybe from plant roots, etc."

Getting around
The newly discovered tools are small, and the researchers propose that they were designed for a mobile toolkit - something that could be easily packed up and moved to a new location. Although clearly different from Clovis tools, they share some similarities and the researchers suggest Clovis technology may even have been derived from the capabilities displayed in the earlier objects.

"The Debra L Friedkin site demonstrates that people were in the Americas at least 2,500 years before Clovis," said Dr Waters.

"The discovery provides ample time for Clovis to develop. People could experiment with stone and invent the weapons and tools that would potentially become recognizable as Clovis. In other words, [these tools represent] the type of assemblage from which Clovis could emerge."

But anthropologist Tom Dillehay, who was not involved with the latest study, commented: "The 'Clovis first' paradigm died years ago. There are many other accepted pre-Clovis candidates throughout the Americas now."

Professor Dillehay, from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, told BBC News: "If you look at the prose of this paper, it bothers me a little bit because it's as if they are reconstituting the Clovis-Pre-Clovis debate and saying, 'Here's the site that kills it'."

He commended the researchers on their well-presented data and "tight discussion". But he said that the OSL technique was less reliable than radiocarbon dating, which has been applied to other early American sites.

And assigning the artefacts to Clovis and pre-Clovis technologies was not straightforward because the site lacked the projectile points required to reliably distinguish between the two. Clovis projectile points are unmistakeable.

In addition, said the Vanderbilt anthropology professor, the tools come from a floodplain deposit that is just 6-7cm thick. This, he said, was "potentially problematic" because of the possibility that artefacts were transported around by water.

Professor Gary Haynes, from the University of Nevada in Reno, US, praised the "good work" by the research team.

But he said it was plausible that natural processes could have caused some stone tools to migrate downwards in the clay - giving the impression of a pre-Clovis layer.

Africa rhinos face 'worst poaching crisis for decades'

Rhino populations in Africa are facing the "worst poaching crisis for decades," say conservationists.

Over the past three years, gangs are said to have killed more than 800 rhinos for their horns, which can fetch £22,000 per kilo on the black market.

Experts fear the rise in poaching could undermine recent efforts to stabilise black and white rhino populations.

They called for greater co-operation between conservationists and law enforcement agencies.

"Although good biological management and anti-poaching efforts have led to modest population gains for both species of African rhino, we are still very concerned," said Richard Emslie, a scientific officer for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Dr Emslie, a member of the IUCN's Species Survival Commission's (SSC) African Rhino Specialist Group (AfRSG), said the main threat was from the "increasing involvement of organised criminal poaching networks".

"Unless the rapid escalation in poaching in recent years can be halted, continental rhino numbers could once again start to decline," he warned.

Growing demand

The Critically Endangered black rhino (Diceros bicornis), which is made up of four sub-species, currently has a population of 4,840 (up from 4,240 in 2007) spread across southern African nations.

The two sub-species of white rhino (Ceratotherium simum), which has a similar distribution as the black rhino, has a population in the region of 20,000 (up from 17,500 in 2007).

Despite the high numbers, the white rhino is listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN. This is a direct result of the high level of poaching, especially in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya.

It is estimated that 333 rhinos were killed in South Africa alone last year, with a further 70 being shot dead so far this year.

Conservationists suspect that most of the illegally harvested rhino horn are destined for the traditional medicine markets of South-East Asia, and the growing demand and high prices are fuelling the sharp rise in poaching.

They called for greater co-operation between the various parties involved in projecting the large mammals, including wildlife investigators and law enforcement agencies.

Some initiatives, such as the establishment of a National Wildlife Crime Reduction Unit in South Africa, are bearing fruit in the shape of more arrests. But IUCN SSC chairman Simon Stuart said it was important for wildlife agencies to work closely with private and community [land owners].

"In South Africa, a large number of rhinos live on private land," Dr Stuart observed.

"Rhino management, including control of rhino horn stockpiles and security, needs to be improved and co-ordinated among rhino holders.

"This is essential if we are going to face the poaching crisis [head-on]."

Botanic gardens 'play role in invasive species spread'

Evidence suggests that botanic gardens play a part in the spread of invasive alien species, which have escaped from collections, a study has concluded.

The paper's author says garden managers need to focus on assessing the risk of potentially invasive plants escaping.

The findings will appear in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution.

A spokeswoman for botanic gardens said the majority of releases were historical, and that gardens were now aware of their responsibilities.

"Over a number of years, I had been trying to find out why the main reasons why some plants become so well established in different parts of the world," said author Philip Hulme, professor of plant biosecurity at Lincoln University, New Zealand.

"There was always anecdotal evidence that suggested that botanic gardens might have played a role," he told BBC News but added that there had been no authoritative or substantive assessment.

This prompted Professor Hulme to see how many examples of "escapes" there were of the 34 plant species on a list of some of the world's most invasive species.

"To my surprise, I found that 19 out of the 34 had records of having escaped from at least one botanic garden," he explained.

"Most of those records were from the tropics, particularly tropical islands.

"It gives us a signal that there was a potential role of these botanic gardens in, at least, introducing or the early cultivation of problematic species in many of these sites."

Changing times

Professor Hulme said his interest in looking at the role of botanic gardens in allowing invasive species to become established stemmed from personal experience in Tanzania.

While he was there, he saw that species that had formed part of the local botanic garden's collection had escaped and become established in the neighbouring forest.

"This made me think that botanic gardens could have a role, and the paper just attempts to sketch out under what circumstances that might occur," he said.

"Historically, perhaps the gardens were less worried about the environment.

"Now, everyone acknowledges that they have stepped up their game and they are very much involved in plant conservation globally, particularly ex-situ conservation."

Responding to Professor Hulme's paper, Suzanne Sharrock - director of global programmes for Botanic Gardens Conservation International - said many examples of invasives escaping were from a different age.

"The majority of examples... date back to a time when botanic gardens were encouraged, and indeed even set up specifically to introduce exotic plants," she explained.

"The situation is very different today and we believe that botanic are more aware than ever of their responsibilities in this respect. BGCI does encourage botanic gardens to carry out risk assessments of their collections and we are also presently working with the Council of Europe to develop a 'code of conduct' for botanic gardens and invasive species."

Dr Sharrock told BBC News that the BGCI, set up by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and whose network covered 118 nations, now focused on helping botanic gardens become part of the solution.

"For example using their collections as the basis for the development of early warning systems in the face of changing environmental conditions," she added.

"I think we need to keep the issue in perspective. If I understand correctly, [Professor] Hulme is suggesting that only 12% of the invasive damage could be ascribed to botanic gardens, 45% to other anthropogenic measures, and presumably 43% to factors unknown, and furthermore, much of the data relates to historical events rather than the present day."

Professor Hulme responded: "My aim is not to bash botanic gardens, but to suggest that they should take the issue more seriously and to be a little more structured in their approach.

"It is often mentioned that they want to address the problem of invasive plants in their collection, but they don't seem to have delivered yet."

Pacific salmon run helps shape Canada's ecosystems

Pacific salmon plays an important role in providing nutrients to part of the world's largest old-growth temperate rainforest, a study has shown.

The annual migration sees salmon return to western Canada to spawn, but many are caught by bears and wolves, which carry carcasses away from the streams.

This allows nutrient-rich plants to thrive in these areas.

Writing in Science, the team said a shift in salmon numbers would have "far-reaching impacts" on biodiversity.

"Along the Pacific coast, all salmon die after spawning so carcasses can line rivers, but many of them are killed before by bears and wolves," explained co-author John Reynolds, professor of ecology at Simon Fraser University (SFU), Canada.

"This adds up to a huge amount of nutrients being dumped into the stream or on to the banks," he added.

"The question is where do all these nutrients, which the fish consumed while they were growing at sea, actually end up?"

Bear necessities

Professor Reynolds and lead author Dr Morgan Hocking, also from SFU, examined 50 river systems in the Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia.

They found a distinct pattern in where the nutrients were found, and how it affected the plant diversity.

"Most of the carcasses that are left behind by the bears and wolves, who only normally only eat a small part of the salmon, are dropped within the first five to 15 metres of the stream," Professor Reynolds told BBC News.

"Bears, for example, have feeding platforms; once they have fished out a salmon, they will take it up on to a bank, eat it and then go and get another one.

"So we predicted before we started that we would see the biggest impact, if any, closer to the stream. That's exactly what we found by doing these different surveys."

The team found that nearer the stream, the plant community was dominated by species that thrived on large amounts of nitrogen.

However, this was at the expense of diversity - which suggested that nutrient-rich plants such as salmonberry and elderberry were able to out-compete other species.

"As you move away from the stream, you tend to switch to a community of species which are less dependent on this extra nitrogen," Professor Reynolds observed.

The researchers found that in areas that had streams containing fewer salmon, the bordering plant life consisted of species with lower nutrient contents, such as blueberry and huckleberry.

In their paper, the two researchers said that predicting how salmon affected terrestrial ecosystems would play a key role in shaping effective conservation and habitat management techniques.

Drillers propose deep-Earth quest

This spring, scientists will try to retrieve the deepest types of rock ever extracted from beneath the seabed.

The drilling project is taking place off Costa Rica, and will attempt to reach some 2km under the ocean floor.

Writing in the journal Nature, the co-chief scientists say their ultimate goal is to return even deeper samples - from the mantle layer below the crust.

Obtaining these rocks would provide a geological treasure trove "comparable to the Apollo lunar rocks" they write.

One of the co-chiefs, Damon Teagle from the University of Southampton, UK, told BBC News: "There are some fundamental questions about the way that the Earth has evolved over its history that we will only be able to answer once we completely understand the structure of the crust overlaying the mantle, the interface between the mantle and the crust (known as the Mohorovicic Discontinuity, or Moho), and then also the nature of the mantle itself."

The mantle makes up the bulk of our planet's volume and mass. It stretches from the bottom of the crust down to the Earth's iron-nickel core some 2,900km further down.

Its rocks are distinct in composition from those that make up the continents and the ocean floor.

They are thought predominantly to be peridotites, which comprise magnesium-rich, silicon-poor minerals such as olivine and pyroxene.

The properties of these rocks and the conditions to which they are subjected mean much of the mantle is in motion.

Slow convection in this dominant layer plays a key role in the tectonic processes that help shape the surface above.

Scientists already have a range of samples from deep inside the Earth. Some of these were lifted up in the processes that built Earth's mountain ranges, and others have come up in the lavas of volcanoes.

But all the samples are altered in some way by the means that brought them to the surface, and scientists would dearly love to see pristine specimens.

"We need to know the exact chemical composition, and this composition varies from place to place," said Benoit Ildefonse from the Montpellier University 2, France.

"It's important because, depending on the composition, the physical properties of the mantle will also vary and eventually will have some effect on the dynamics of the Earth - on the way this mantle is able to move, on the way it's able to eventually partially melt and produce some magma that is carried out to the surface, creating the new ocean crust."

The last attempt to drill into the mantle, Project Mohole, was conducted in 1961. It failed, but its drill location could be the site of a new effort. Two other potential sites are being assessed, including one being actively investigated this spring
Drilling into the mantle on land is impractical because the continents are where the crust is thickest - some 30-60km thick.

Going through the younger, thinner crust of the ocean floor has the advantage that scientists need only drill to about 6km of depth - but this option has the particular difficulty of setting up and operating a rig at sea.

Researchers will test the necessary techniques in the next few years, and assess three potential Pacific Ocean sites.

Already they have a ship capable of hosting the project.

This is the giant Japanese Chikyu vessel, which is capable of carrying 10km of drilling pipes.

It will, though, need a host of new technologies, such as new types of drill bit to make coring into the mantle manageable.

"This would be a very significant engineering undertaking," explained Dr Teagle.

"We're talking 6km of ocean crust and we'd want to get some distance into the mantle - maybe 500m. So that's a very deep hole; and it would be in water that is perhaps 3-4km deep as well. Also, we would encounter temperatures around 250-300 degrees at least. It would be hot and demanding."

Researchers do not expect to have the necessary technology and funding in place to begin drilling into the mantle much before about 2018.

This spring's expedition, to be conducted on the American Joides Resolution ship, will re-open a previously drilled hole called 1256D.

It will allow scientists to recover for the first time gabbros from the lower crust. These samples will be the deepest rocks of their type ever extracted from beneath the sea floor.

Dr Ildefonse told BBC News: "The hole currently is residing at the very transition of the upper-part of the crust, which is basically the basalts you see erupted at the sea floor, and the lower-part of the crust which has rocks of the same composition but that cool much slower and are called gabbros.

"We want, for the first time ever, to sample these kinds of rocks in situ, to test the different models that we have to explain the behaviour of this crust. To do this we need to go about 400m deeper into the crust."

The deepest hole ever drilled on land was sunk by a Russian project and went down just over 12km down.

Spammers sought after botnet takedown

The Rustock botnet, which sent up to 30 billion spam messages per day, might have been run by two or three people.

Early analysis, following raids to knock out the spam network, suggest that it was the work of a small team.

Rustock was made up of about one million hijacked PCs and employed a series of tricks to hide itself from scrutiny for years.

Since the raids on the network's hardware, global spam levels have dropped and remain relatively low.

Net gains
"It does not look like there were more than a couple of people running it to me," said Alex Lanstein, a senior engineer at security firm FireEye, which helped with the investigation into Rustock.

Mr Lanstein based his appraisal on familiarity with Rustock gained while working to shut it down over the past few years.

He said that the character of the code inside the Rustock malware and the way the giant network was run suggested that it was operated by a small team.

That work by FireEye, Microsoft, Pfizer and others culminated on 16 March with simultaneous raids on data centres in seven US cities that seized 96 servers which had acted as the command and control (C&C) system for Rustock.

Mr Lanstein said hard drives from the servers had been handed over to a forensic firm that will scour them for clues as to the identity of the network's controllers.

His hunch that a small team was behind Rustock is partly based on how different it was to other spam networks such as Zeus.

That network, said Mr Lanstein, operates on a franchise basis and involves many different groups and cyber criminals.

By contrast, Rustock was a tightly controlled, if huge, network that brought with it many of the administration headaches suffered by any web-based business.

"They ran into a lot of problems with managing their assets and pushing updates out to a million user network," he said.

Rustock evaded capture for years because of the clever way it was controlled, he said. Victims were snared when they visited websites seeded with booby-trapped adverts and links.

Once PCs were compromised, updates were regularly pushed out to them using custom written encryption. Those downloads contained the spam engine that despatched billions of ads for fake pharmaceuticals.

Updates to PCs in Rustock were also disguised to look like comments in discussion boards, making them hard to spot by security software which typically looks for well-known signs of malware.

The servers controlling Rustock were also located within hosting centres in the US rather than overseas.

"By locating all the C&C servers in middle-America, not in major metropolitan areas, they were able to stay off the radar," said Mr Lanstein.

Hosting costs for the C&C systems ran to about $10,000 (£6,211) per month, he said.

It was hard to estimate how much money the operators of Rustock had made, said Mr Lanstein, but it was likely to be a huge figure.

Since the raids, Rustock's controllers do not seem to have tried to re-assert control of their creation. Technical steps taken by Microsoft could limit any future attempt, said Mr Lanstein, adding that he was not sure they would even try.

"When you are a programmer and you realise that you have the full force of the Microsoft legal department pointed directly at you, then you might say to yourself its time to try something else," he said.

Spiders and crabs inspire robot locomotion

The walking patterns of crabs, lobsters and spiders are helping to inspire new ways of getting robots to move around.

Closer study of the neural networks controlling the legs of invertebrates has revealed the rhythmic nerve impulses that govern gait.

These have been adapted into modular control elements that can be transferred into robots to help mimic natural movement.

European researchers have already put the control systems into a robot worm.

Smart step
The rhythmic impulses are known as central pattern generators (CPGs), and are among the best known of all neural circuits, according to Fernando Herrero, one of the Spanish researchers employing them to control a robot.

CPGs allow the body to automate certain repetitive tasks, such as chewing or walking. Although the activity requires some initial input to get started, the repetitive motion effectively runs on autopilot.

One reason that CPGs are so well understood is that the relative simplicity of invertebrate neural systems, compared with those of mammals, makes it much easier to map how their nerves interconnect.

This access, said Mr Herrero, has allowed researchers to understand the ways in which CPGs generate the rhythmic impulses that help a spider or crab scuttle around.

Research is also allowing the impulses and rhythms to be recorded and used to generate control sequences for a robot's artificial limbs.

Traditionally, said Mr Herrero, robot makers get their creations moving by defining a series of rules that dictates what the legs of that machine should do to get about.

"CPGs autonomously generate rhythms without specifying any rule and thus can deal better with unexpected situations," he said.

Even better, said Mr Herrero, CPGs are discrete circuits that can be linked together, like building blocks, to create ever more complex behaviour.

Instead of trying to define rules for all the limbs on a robot and get their movements co-ordinated, CPGs make it possible to build up from one joint or sub-section of a limb.

"You can concentrate first on each part of each leg, and design a controller mini-CPG for the ankle, for the knee, the hip and so on," he said. "Then, you connect them in such a way that you get a leg-CPG, that is, the ankle, knee and hips mechanism act co-ordinately."

Using control systems inspired by nature means that they also have some basic intelligence, said Mr Herrero. That allows the machines to modify their rhythm to cope with the unexpected and then return to pumping out the original tempo.

Mr Herrero, along with colleagues Pablo Varona and Francisco Rodriguez, has used CPGs as a control system to make a worm robot writhe around like the real thing. The robot is based on similar machines created by Dr Juan Gomez from Madrid's Carlos III University.

The worm robot has eight sections and its control system was derived by letting the movement rhythm evolve in a simulator. Once evolved, the system was downloaded to a robot which then undulated like a worm and managed to move around with ease.

"The key is to combine the right set of bio-inspired strategies with human engineering approaches to build a new generation of more autonomous robots," said Mr Herrero.

The research was detailed in the journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics.

MySpace loses millions of users in a few weeks

Latest statistics suggest attempts to kick new life into MySpace may be failing.

Tech industry analysts comScore say figures show MySpace lost more than 10 million unique users worldwide between January and February.

There were almost 63 million users of MySpace in February 2011, down from more than 73 million.

Year on year the site has lost almost 50 million users, down from close to 110 million in February 2010.

The loss of users comes despite a series of changes to the site to make it more about music.

It was the social network site that helped launch the careers of artists like Arctic Monkeys, Kate Nash and Lily Allen.

But so far this year MySpace has already announced plans to cut half its workforce.

Falling numbers
Around 500 staff are going worldwide.

Five years ago it was booming and for many was the first place to visit to talk to friends and listen to music.

But the arrival of sites likes Facebook has changed the face of social networking.

In the UK, 2.3 million people used the site in February 2011.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp bought the company for £330 million back in 2005.

If they were to sell today, they might get as little as £50 million for it.

MySpace boss Mike Jones has been putting a brave face on the falling numbers.

He said the site is no longer a social network and is instead an "entertainment destination".

But with competition from YouTube, streaming services and increased file-sharing it faces tough times.

Microsoft spends $7.5m on net addresses

Microsoft has offered to pay $7.5m (£4.7m) for net addresses from bankrupt telecoms firm Nortel.

The 666,624 IP version 4 (IPv4) net addresses were put up for auction as part of the sell-off of Nortel's assets.

Blocks of IPv4 are valuable because the pool of this generation of address is close to running dry.

It was predicted that a market in IPv4 would appear among companies facing a costly migration to the newer IPv6.

Details of the sale were contained in papers filed to a Delaware bankruptcy court and show that Microsoft's bid was the highest of the 80 firms asked if they wanted to make an offer for the IP addresses.

The deal is yet to be approved by that court and anyone who objects to it can file their comments before 4 April.

If it goes through, Microsoft will get hold of 470,016 of the IP addresses instantly and the remaining 196,608 will be released as former customers of Nortel are moved to other telecoms firms.

IP addresses are used to identify individual computing devices on the internet and private networks.

IPv4 allows for a maximum of approximately 4.3 billion devices.

That number seemed enough in the early 1980s when the standard was first proposed, however the rapid growth in personal computers, smartphones and other internet connected devices means that addresses have been rapidly running out.

The last big blocks of IPv4 addresses were handed out in February and all of them are expected to be used up by late 2011.

Net firms are in the process of moving to version 6 of the IP addressing scheme, which offers more than 3 undecillion individual numbers (3 with 38 noughts)

However, the migration is happening very slowly.

In the interim, it is expected that IPv4 addresses will become increasingly valuable.

It is not clear why Microsoft wants to buy Nortel's supply, however many companies are keen to avoid the cost of changing their networking systems over to IPv6 compatible equipment.

The Microsoft-Nortel deal values the IPv4 address blocks at $11.25 (£7) each, higher than the price many firms charge for a .com domain. This was indicative, said experts, that the market for IPv4 addresses was heating up.

Registries that oversee the allocation of net addresses are also working on plans for a re-circulation system that takes IPv4 addresses from firms that are using IPv6 and releases them for use by others.

Blackberry firm Research in Motion hurt by tablet cost

Shares in Research in Motion (RIM) fell 12% in after-hours trading after the firm said profits this quarter will be much weaker than expected.

It blamed the cost of developing its new tablet-format Blackberry, as well as a migration of consumers towards cheaper handsets in its product range.

The share price fall came despite the Canadian firm reporting $934m (£579m) net profits for the last quarter, in line with expectations.

Profits were up 31% on a year earlier.

'Investments in the future'
Revenues of $5.6bn - up 36% - were slightly short of expectations, according to the results released after the close of trading on the Nasdaq exchange.

The company has seen its share of its core US market steadily eroded by smartphone rivals.

Some 48% of its business now comes from outside the key markets of the US, Canada and the UK.

But growth in these new markets has gone hand-in-hand with a shift towards lower-margin entry-point products, the firm conceded.

RIM is banking on its new tablet computer - the Playbook - to regain the initiative.

It will be half the size of Apple's iPad and will be compatible with Google's Android operating system.

"These are investments in the future," said co-chief executive Jim Balsillie, explaining the unexpected increase in money spent on research, development, sales and market.

"I have many corporate clients that have approached us about, you know, each wanting tens of thousands, several tens of thousands of Playbooks."

As well as the new product launch, the company is also revamping its operating system.

The firm lowered its profit guidance for the current quarter, and also broadened its range due to uncertainty over the possible impact of Japanese supply chain problems.

Eurozone sets bail-out terms as Portugal fears increase

European leaders have agreed a restructuring of a financial bail-out fund that they hope will resolve the bloc's debt crisis.

Eurozone ministers bowed to German demands to renegotiate the time-frame for contributions to the massive fund.

But the deal was overshadowed by concerns about Portugal and a growing row that the UK may be forced to contribute to a financial bail-out.

Portugal says it does not need aid, but many analysts say Lisbon is in denial.

The eurozone debt deal follows months of negotiations.

"We decided a comprehensive package of economic measures... Today almost all the strands of this enterprise have come together," European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said.

The new plan provides for the creation of a permanent fund in 2013, the European Stability Mechanism, to help troubled eurozone countries.

A major sticking point was the speed with which countries had to pay cash into the 700bn-euro (£615bn) fund.

The agreement requires 80bn euros of cash provided by eurozone countries in five equal annual instalments. There will be a further 620bn euros in guarantees.

Originally, eurozone finance ministers agreed to put 40bn euros into the fund immediately it is created in 2013.

There had been expectations that the two-day summit in Brussels would agree a resolution over rescuing Portugal's stricken economy.

But Portuguese ministers said they had no intention of following Greece and the Irish Republic in tapping the bail-out fund.

Even so, analysts believe it is only a matter of time before other countries are forced to provide support to the ailing economy.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron refused to respond to suggestions that Britain may have to pledge billions of pounds to any emergency funding.

He said: "It's not right to comment and speculate on another country's finances, and I'm not going to do that."

He has faced angry calls from his own Conservative MPs to refuse to contribute British money towards a bail-out.

"Can I remind you that we have just had an austerity Budget?" said former frontbencher Bernard Jenkin in the Commons on Thursday.

"Can you imagine how absolutely furious British voters would be if it turns out that the British taxpayer has to continue contributing to the bail-out of euro countries, even though we are not a member?"

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso insisted that member states had not discussed bailing out Portugal.

"We [EU leaders] expressed confidence in the capacity of Portugal to overcome the current situation and also to find the funding the country needs in the months to come."

The financial markets are also worried as Portugal must repay a large chunk of debt to lenders in April.

On Friday, Standard & Poor's downgraded Portugal's credit ratings by two notches to BBB and warned it could cut it further.

S&P followed a two-notch cut by Fitch on Thursday.

David Cameron wants Japan EU trade deal

The European Union (EU) should offer Japan a free trade deal to help it recover from the earthquake and tsunami two weeks ago, UK Prime Minister David Cameron has said.

"One of our priorities must be to invite Japan to enter into a free trade area with the EU," Mr Cameron said.

This would give Japan a trade boost and aid its economic recovery, he said following an EU summit in Brussels.

The Japanese government has estimated the rebuilding cost to be £192bn.

Mr Cameron said he had "secured a specific reference" to his proposal in the conclusions of EU documents.

The documents will be published later.
Manageable costs

Earlier, the International Monetary Fund said it believed Japan's economy was strong enough to afford the cost of rebuilding the damage from the earthquake and tsunami.

It said it expected a short-term drop in the economy, but no long-term impact.

"Despite the extensive damage we are of the view that the economic costs are manageable," said Ken Kang, the IMF's Asia Pacific chief.

However, it said that power shutdowns would complicate Japan's prospects.

Spain pledges additional measures to strengthen economy

The Spanish prime minister has announced that his government will adopt new economic measures in order to reassure markets that the country's deficit is under control.

Speaking at a summit on the eurozone debt crisis Jose Rodriguez Zapatero said he would enact legislation that would limit government spending.

He also pledged to crack down on tax evasion.

Some analysts think Spain may require a bail-out from Europe and the IMF.

Spain has already cut government spending and introduced pension and labour market reforms.

However the economy is struggling with an unemployment rate of 20%.

"Spain will adopt new measures to reinforce its response to the economic crisis and strengthen the foundation of our economy," Mr Zapatero told reporters.

The move comes in the wake of fresh concerns over Portugal and whether it will be forced to request a bail-out.

US economic growth revised upwards for end for 2010

The US economy grew faster than first thought in the final months of 2010, according to the Commerce Department.

Growth figures for the fourth quarter of 2010 have been revised upward to 3.1% from the 2.8% previously reported.

The rise was put down to more companies re-stocking and buying more plant and equipment than was believed.

Economists will welcome the news, although the economy is expected show slower growth in the first quarter of 2011, in part due to higher oil prices.

For the final three months of 2010, consumer spending grew at an annual rate of 4%, the strongest quarter for four years.

Residential construction was growing at an annual rate of 3.3% in the final three months of the year after plunging at a 27.3% rate in the July-September quarter.

BP's deal with Russia's Rosneft 'could still go ahead'

The chairman of Russian energy giant Rosneft has said he wants to push ahead with its alliance with BP.

Igor Sechin said he was "satisfied" with BP as a partner, despite a court ruling on Thursday throwing the alliance into question.

"The court didn't block the deal. It extended the injunction until 7 April. We must await the verdict," he said.

Shareholders in BP's existing Russian joint venture, TNK-BP, object to the tie-up with Rosneft.

The shareholders, collectively known as Alfa-Access-Renova (AAR), say the proposed deal with Rosneft to exploit oil and gas reserves in the Arctic violates an existing agreement between BP and TNK-BP.

On Thursday, a Swedish arbitration panel in London upheld AAR's complaint.

The ruling immediately raised questions about the judgement of BP chief executive Robert Dudley, who used to run TNK-BP and knows the AAR shareholders well.

"Given [Mr Dudley's] past relationship in Russia, how difficult it has been, he should have been a bit more appreciative of how tricky it can be operating in Russia," said Arbuthnot Securities analyst Dougie Youngson.

Rosneft wants a partner with the technology and expertise necessary for drilling in the Arctic. It held talks with Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon-Mobil before clinching a deal with BP.

BP's shares fell on Friday morning, though by the afternoon they were trading up, as investors took comfort from Mr Sechin's comments.

However, analysts warned that the Rosneft alliance was still in the balance and that BP could be forced to pay compensation to AAR in order to get their approval for the deal.

BP said it was disappointed at Thursday's ruling and hoped it could still go ahead with a share swap agreed with Rosneft as part of the deal.

"BP looks forward to finding a way to resolve its differences with its Russian partners to allow these important Arctic developments to proceed in future," said the UK oil firm in a statement on the arbitration panel's decision.

However, the UK firm faces an effective deadline for breaking the deadlock of 14 April, according to the BBC's business editor, Robert Peston.

That is the date by which BP's agreement with Rosneft must be consummated, or else it will expire.

'Strategic alliance'

The oil giant signed the controversial new deal with its Russian state-owned counterpart in January, in order to exploit potentially huge deposits of oil and gas in Russia's Arctic shelf.

As part of the deal, the pair had agreed that Rosneft would take 5% of BP's shares in exchange for approximately 9.5% of Rosneft's shares.

It is this share exchange that is said to have particularly upset TNK-BP's Russian shareholders.

The AAR consortium won a High Court injunction in London last month that put the BP-Rosneft deal on hold until the dispute could be resolved by arbitration.

It was hoped that the joint venture might be given a role in the Arctic exploration deal, but TNK-BP's shareholders failed to agree on this.

The arbitration panel has now ruled that the temporary injunction "should continue".

"Wilfully ignoring the provisions of the shareholder agreement was a serious misjudgement by BP that has severely damaged the relationship between the TNK-BP shareholders," said Stan Polovets, chief executive of AAR.

"It has also harmed BP's reputation in Russia," he added. "We expect Bob Dudley to make every effort to rectify the situation and rebuild the trust that has been lost between BP, AAR and the management of TNK-BP."

Saab chief goes as losses mount

The chief executive of Saab is stepping down as the carmaker continues to struggle with weak sales and large losses.

Saab suffered a 218m euros ($308m; £191m) loss last year, according to parent company Spyker Cars.

Jan Ake Jonsson has worked for Saab for about 40 years.

As chief executive during the last six years, he was instrumental in saving Saab from closure.

"He's done an incredible job getting Saab back on track," Victor Muller, owner and chairman of Saab, told BBC World in an interview.

Mr Jonsson said: "The last three years have of course been very demanding and forced me to focus on one thing only - my work.

"Now it is time for me to also spend some time on other things that had to stand back for my duties to Saab."
'Experienced manager'

The company is still struggling, however.

Saab sold only about 30,000 cars last year, a slight improvement on 2009.

It hopes to sell about 80,000 this year, though the departure of Mr Jonsson will make this target harder to achieve, analysts said.

"This is certainly a negative," said Martin Crum at AEK.

"He is a very experienced manager and it will be very difficult to find a proper replacement. It will make it more difficult than before."

Mr Muller said the focus should be on profits rather than volume.

"We are constantly being confronted with sales targets, and this is logical because they're easy to measure," he said.

"But I'd rather sell 50,000 cars and make a profit." Sportscar division sold

Spyker and its owner Mr Muller bought Saab last year from General Motors following major restructuring at the US car giant.

Mr Muller insisted Saab is recovering and pointed to new models coming on stream soon.

"The launch of new products, the real pivot in this business plan is the launch of the new 9-3 in October 2012. That's the tipping point," he said.

"The company will have the widest and the newest product range the company has had in its entire 64 year history," said Mr Muller.

Last month, Spyker announced plans to sell its sportscar arm and focus instead on expanding Saab.

It signed a provisional deal to sell the business to UK-based, Russian-owned, CPP Global Holdings for some 32m euros.

Sexual preference chemical found in mice

A chemical in the brain controls sexual preference in mice, according to scientists in China.

Male mice bred without serotonin lose their preference for females, a report in Nature says.

The researchers say it is the first time that a neurotransmitter has been shown to play a role in sexual preference in mammals.

Experts have warned about the dangers of drawing conclusions about human sexuality.

The research team first bred male mice whose brains were not receptive to serotonin.

A series of experiments demonstrated that these mice had lost the preference for females shown by unmodified males.

When presented with a choice of partners, they showed no overall preference for either males or females.

When just a male was introduced into the cage, the modified males were far more likely to mount the male and emit a "mating call" normally given off when encountering females than unmodified males were.

Similar results were achieved when a different set of mice were bred. These lacked the tryptonphan hydroxylase 2 gene, which is needed to produce serotonin.

However, a preference for females could be "restored" by injecting serotonin into the brain.

The report concludes: "Serotonergic signalling is crucial for male sexual preference in mice. This is the first time, to our knowledge, that a neurotransmitter in the brain has been demonstrated to be important in mammalian sexual preference."

Sexual behaviour in mice is thought to be driven by their sense of smell.

Professor Keith Kendrick, a neuroscientist at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge, said: "In terms of having potential relevance to understanding human sexual preference/orientation, we are of course far less influenced by odour cues in this context than mice are.

"There is some very limited evidence for altered responses to selective serotonin uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in the brains of homosexuals, but we have been using psychoactive drugs which either increase or decrease serotonin function for quite some time now, and while effects on sexual arousal, impulsivity and aggression have often been reported, no effects on sexual preference/orientation have.

"At this time therefore any potential links between serotonin and human sexual preferences must be considered somewhat tenuous."

'Genes for pre-eclampsia' discovered

Scientists say they have identified genetic errors that appear to increase a pregnant woman's chance of getting the potentially life-threatening condition called pre-eclampsia.

Around four in every 100 women develops this problem of high blood pressure and leaky kidneys during pregnancy.

Now researchers have found faulty DNA may be to blame in some cases, PLoS Medicine journal reports.

The discovery could lead to new ways to spot and treat those at risk, they say.

The US researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis analysed DNA from over 300 pregnant women.

Sixty of these were otherwise healthy women who were hospitalised because they developed severe pre-eclampsia.

DNA analysis revealed a few genetic errors shared by five of the 60 otherwise healthy women and seven of the 40 "higher-risk pregnancy" women who developed pre-eclampsia.

The genes on which the errors were identified (MCP factor I and factor H) play a role in regulating immune response and the researchers believe this could explain their possible link to pre-eclampsia.

Scientists have suspected that problems with the immune system provoke many cases of pre-eclampsia because women with lupus and certain other autoimmune diseases - like 250 of the women in the study - have an increased risk of the disorder.

The researchers now plan to study more pregnant women and other genes to further their understanding.

Professor Basky Thilaganathan, spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: "This work shows an association.

"At best genes like these might identify 10-15% of pre-eclampsia, so it's relative importance may not be sensational. But it may allow us to study new treatments to prevent or delay the onset of pre-eclampsia and to know which women need closer surveillance."

He said that currently the only real way to halt the condition was to deliver the baby. This can be relatively risk free if the pregnancy is nearing its natural end anyway, but can be risky if the baby is premature.

Full face transplant for US man

A 25-year-old man horrifically injured by an accident involving an electric power line has received a full face transplant in the US.

It took a team of more than 30 doctors over 15 hours to give Dallas Wiens his new face.

Surgeons who carried out the operation at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston have hailed it a success.

It follows nearly a year to the day after the world's first full face transplant in Spain.

Mr Wiens, from Texas, was injured in November 2008 when his head touched a high voltage electrical wire. The burns erased all of his facial features.

The surgery has replaced the nose, lips, skin and muscles as well as the nerves that power them and provide sensation. But, unfortunately, the surgeons were unable to give him new eyes to restore his vision.

His surgeons said: "Dallas is doing great. He's meeting all the milestones that he's expected at the present time.

"He's been on the cell phone with his family."

Mr Weins, who is the father of a young girl, said of his injuries before the operation: "Not being able to be kissed by my daughter is frustrating.

"If she kisses me I hear it and can feel some pressure but I can't really feel her kiss."

Mr Wiens' grandfather, Del Peterson, thanked the doctors who performed the $300,000 transplant, saying: "You have made this day an amazing journey. And you have blessed Dallas' life and we thank you.

"Dallas always said after the injury that he now had a choice: he could just choose to get bitter, or choose to get better. His choice was to get better. Thank God today he's better."

President of the Brigham and Women's Hospital, Betsy Nable, said: "Today's tremendous news marks a new milestone in Brigham and Women's legacy in transplant surgery. The pioneering achievement by the entire transplant team is a gift made possible by the most selfless act one human being can do for another, organ donation."

The world's first partial face transplant was carried out in France in 2005 on a woman mauled by a dog.

Women risk cancer returning by stopping Tamoxifen early

Women who cut short their Tamoxifen treatment before the recommended full five years risk their breast cancer returning, experts warn.

Up to half of women stop taking the drug prematurely but in doing so significantly reduce their survival odds, says Cancer Research UK.

Data shows for every hundred women who complete the full course, six fewer will have a recurrence of their cancer.

Tamoxifen is usually given to women with oestrogen-sensitive breast cancer.

This means that their tumour's growth is fed by the female hormone, and tamoxifen can help by blocking oestrogen.

But the treatment can cause unpleasant side effects like hot flushes and some women may question whether they still need to take it if their cancer has not returned within a couple of years.

Research that has looked at the medical records of 2,000 breast cancer patients taking tamoxifen suggests half of women fail to finish a five-year course of the drug and one in five regularly forget to take a tablet.

And now the first large study to look at the long-term benefits of long-term tamoxifen shows taking the drug for the full five years boosts survival substantially.

For the 3,500 patients in the study, the cancer came back in around 40% of the women who took tamoxifen for five years, compared to 46% among those who took it for two years.

Dr Allan Hackshaw, lead author of the research published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, said: "Our study provides conclusive evidence that taking tamoxifen for five years offers women the best chance of surviving breast cancer.

"Women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer who are prescribed tamoxifen are recommended to take the drug for five years, but we know that many stop after two or three. Worryingly our results suggest that by doing this, they could increase their risk of cancer coming back."

Kate Law of Cancer Research UK said: "It's vital that doctors and nurses continue encouraging women to finish their course of tamoxifen and providing the necessary support to ensure any side-effects are effectively managed.

"We would urge anyone who experiences problems taking their medication to consult their doctor without delay."

Early-warning diabetes test hope

Experts believe a simple blood test could spot diabetes up to 10 years before the first symptoms of the disease occur.

By looking at levels of five amino acids in the blood US researchers were able to correctly identify people who went on to develop type 2 diabetes.

Ultimately the Harvard team hope a test like this could be used to screen for type 2 diabetes, Nature Medicine says.

Early detection can help prevent related complications like blindness.
Risk prediction

Dr Victoria King, head of research at Diabetes UK, said: "Early diagnosis and effective management of type 2 diabetes are crucial in reducing the risk of developing diabetes complications, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and amputation.

"Therefore finding ways to identify those who are at risk of developing the condition are important.

"This research, in future, could lead to ways to help us identify those at risk as well as giving us new insights into how and why type 2 diabetes develops."

The risk of developing type 2 diabetes is strongly linked to being overweight, leading a sedentary lifestyle and eating an unhealthy diet.

In many cases the condition can be prevented or delayed by maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle, Dr King said.

Aside from keeping an eye on a person's weight and blood sugar, doctors have had little else they can use to identify at risk individuals.

The test used in the study looks for levels of small molecules in the blood. Among the 2,422 health volunteers tested, 201 later went on to develop diabetes.

And the researchers found that the early blood tests readily identified these patients years before they developed any symptoms.

Those with the highest levels of amino acids in their blood were five times as likely to develop diabetes within the following 12 years of the study.

Dr Robert Gerszten and colleagues who carried out the work say more studies are needed before the test could be recommended for general use.


    * Diabetes is a condition where the amount of glucose in your blood is too high because the body cannot use it properly
    * Type 1 diabetes develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body have been destroyed and the body is unable to produce any insulin
    * Type 2 diabetes develops when the body can still make some insulin, but not enough, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly
    * Type 2 diabetes accounts for between 85-95% of all people with diabetes and is treated with a healthy diet and increased physical activity. Some may also need medicaton and/or insulin

7 Germ Hot Spots in Your Home

7 Germ Hot Spots in Your Home
Warning: This article might freak you out a little. After you read this, you will probably want to wash your hands (see #7 below for the proper way to do so). At the risk of causing a nationwide outbreak of spring cleaning in the middle of winter, Healthline picked the brains of a couple of experts to get the dirt on the dirtiest places in your home. What we found was a mix of duh (kitchen sink) and wow (just-washed laundry). The goal is to remind you (and ourselves) of what you already know:

Germs are everywhere.  Bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa are in your home right now. In optimal conditions, bacteria can divide every 20 minutes; that means (do the math) one single bacterium cell can multiply to 70 trillion in a single day.
Germs can make you sick.  The good news is that your immune system is effective at guarding against most microorganisms. The bad news is, 70 trillion is a big number and some germs, especially viruses, are really good at mutating into things your body doesn't recognize.
It doesn't take much effort to keep things clean and healthy.  Soap and water. Bleach and water. Disinfecting wipes. Common sense. With these simple weapons, the battle against germs can be won.
What we also learned is that, when it comes to germs, people often resort to an "out of sight, out of mind" philosophy. "Even the most careful people will let their guard down," says Barbara Citarella, a certified infection preventionist and president of the healthcare consulting firm RBC Limited. "As vigilant as we might be, we are going to neglect certain areas from time to time." Barb, who has long list of abbreviated certifications that often follow her name, is a member of the Association of Practitioners in Infection Control (APIC), an organization that strives to keep Americans healthy and convince them to do one important thing — wash their hands.

Barb and other experts helped us put together the following list of problem areas, complete with tips on how to keep them clean. Read on, and grab a disinfecting wipe — you'll probably want to start wiping down your computer keyboard before you finish.

1) The Kitchen

The sink. Dish towels. Sponges. Counters. The floor. Refrigerator. Germs tend to gather in high-traffic areas, and they love moisture. Well, there is no other place in the home that is more wild and wet than the kitchen (we'll get to the bathroom later). Dish towels and sponges are especially problematic, because they hold moisture and we tend to use them for multiple tasks — drying our hands, wiping up coffee spills and raw chicken juice, washing dirty dishes, and drying clean dishes. The kitchen sink is a no-brainer and gets a lot of attention, but the faucet hardware gets just as dirty after you handle raw food or dirty dishes and then turn the water on and off. Other areas include the refrigerator door handle and cabinet knobs.
Keep it clean:  Barb suggests switching out dish towels at the end of each day and running the sponges through the dishwasher. You can also soak the sponges in a bleach-water solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water or simply throw them away after several uses. When cleaning the sink, pay extra attention to the drain and the faucet hardware.

2) Knobs, Handles, and Switches
This one seems obvious, but how often do you walk around your home and wipe off doorknobs, cabinet handles, and light switches?
Keep them clean:  Once a week, walk around your home and wipe off doorknobs, cabinet handles, and light switches. It's that simple. Use disinfecting wipes, and don't use the same wipe for more than a few places before grabbing a fresh one.

3) Makeup Bag
Pay attention, ladies. Your makeup applicators are a lot like kitchen sponges. They have nooks, crannies, and bristles that are prime real estate for microorganisms. And the germs that live there can lead to skin and eye infections.
Keep it clean:  No, you don't have to throw away all your makeup right away. Most experts recommend replacing your powders and eye shadows every two years, foundation every year, and mascara every three months. "Women should also clean their makeup applicators about every two weeks," says Alesia J. Wagner, DO, medical director for U.S. HealthWorks Medical Group. "And when you do purge your old makeup, don't forget to wipe out the empty bag." Regular soap and water is fine for most applicators, but you can use alcohol on the brushes. And keep it to yourself. You don't share your toothbrush with others; you shouldn't share your makeup brush either.

4) Laundry
Yes, even clean laundry. If you're like most people, you wash the majority of your laundry in cold water. While it's better than wearing your jeans for an entire month before washing them, a cold water-detergent mix won't kill all the microorganisms on your clothes. And wet laundry left unattended in a machine, even for short amount of time, is like The Fertile Crescent for germs.
Keep it clean:  This is one of Barb's main areas of concern, and she had a lot of advice. First of all, tread lightly when carrying dirty laundry through the house. Throwing it around will spread germs from one room to the next. And don't shake out your clothes or sheets before putting them in the wash. After you do put it in the machine, wash your hands and wipe out the empty laundry basket before putting clean laundry back in. If possible, wash your clothes in hot water, especially your undergarments. And transfer the clothes to the dryer immediately after they are done washing. If they do sit for more than 30 minutes, run them through the cycle again.

For people who use laundry mats or shared laundry facilities, you should spray or wipe the washer drum with disinfecting solution. Just make sure you wait the recommended amount of time before adding your laundry. And be sure to wipe down any surfaces you use to fold clothes.

5) Home Office/Cell phone/Electronics
On average, an office desk has 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. It's not surprising; we spend a lot of time there, and it holds two of the safest havens for germs: the computer and telephone. Plus, the toilet is cleaned regularly for obvious reasons. Remote controls, computer keyboards, phones, stereos, and DVD players get touched way more than the toilet, are shared by multiple family members and guests, yet they are cleaned a lot less often.
Keep them clean:  Use common sense here, and wipe down keyboards, mice, phone buttons and receivers, stereo knobs, and cell phones often. Don't forget your actual desk too. You can find component-specific cleaning supplies at electronics stores. However, most disinfecting wipes are safe for electronics; just make sure to read the label before using them. And many companies make anti-microbial cell phone covers for a variety of brands and models.

6) Bathroom
The toilet, bathtub/shower, and sink are all obvious offenders. Thus, they are on most people's regular cleaning rotation. Barb also pointed the finger at plastic shower curtains; the crud that gathers on the bottom after extended use is bacteria (not soap scum).
Keep it clean:  "Bubble bath does not clean the tub," says Barb. (So much for multitasking.) There are plenty of reliable cleaning products on the market to use in the bathroom. Use an old toothbrush to clean around drains and faucets. Pay special attention to the floor area around the toilet and the little cup that holds your toothbrush.

7) You
Think about it. Bathtubs, computers, kitchen sinks, and doorknobs don't leave and return to your home multiple time each day. So how do these hoards of germs get into your home? You bring them in.
Keep yourself clean:  Wash your hands. "We see signs in restaurants that employees must wash their hands before preparing food," Dr. Wagner says. "Why would that be any different in our own homes?" It shouldn't be any different — in our homes, workplaces, or anywhere else we go. But oddly enough, many people don't wash their hands properly. "Friction is the key," says Barb. "Interlace the fingers and wash the tops of the hands and around the thumbs. Not just the palms." And duration is also important — approximately 20 to 30 seconds — or as Barb suggests, the amount of time it takes to sing a couple of rounds "Row Your Boat" or "Yankee Doodle Dandy." She also mentioned that singing is a great way to make it fun for kids, but we all could use more fun in our lives, right? Wash — and sing — to your heart's content.

Disclaimer:  Now that you are sufficiently freaked out, you should know that there is such a thing as "too clean." In other words, don't start hosing off guests when they walk through your door, and don't obsessively clean your kitchen all day, every day. "If we kill all the germs in our environment, then our bodies won't be able to build up any resistance," says Barb. "People shouldn't take it to the nth degree. We just encourage them to use common sense. When you do your regular cleaning — once a week for most people — just make sure you are thorough."

5 Hidden Dangers in Your Home

Sometimes, the most dangerous things around us are the ones we can’t see. Here are five potentially harmful problems that threaten a healthy home and tips on how to protect against them.

1. Salmonella and E. coli
These two forms of bacterial diseases can affect the intestinal tract in people (and animals), causing symptoms ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening dehydration. Humans are most often infected with salmonella after eating or handling raw foods — such as beef, poultry, eggs, fruits, and vegetables — that have been contaminated by feces. Salmonella contamination can occur during the butchering or harvesting process or if those preparing the food don’t wash their hands thoroughly after using the bathroom or changing a diaper. For E. coli, infection may occur when you accidentally eat contaminated foods that were not cooked or cleaned properly.

Solution:  Before handling food, wash your hands thoroughly. Use two cutting boards if possible — one for fruits and vegetables and another for raw meat. Keep raw meat, seafood, and poultry separated from other refrigerated foods. Clean with hot soapy water all utensils and plates that previously held raw meat before using again. Cook all meats, especially pork and poultry, to safe temperatures.

2. Carbon Monoxide (CO)
This flavorless, odorless gas gives no warning before it can make you very sick (think flu-like symptoms) or even kill you. Approximately 500 people die each year of this "silent" killer. Contamination usually occurs when an organic fuel is burned without proper ventilation. Common sources include:

kerosene and gas space heaters
gas water heaters
wood stoves
gas stoves
generators and other gasoline powered equipment
automobile exhaust from attached garages
tobacco smoke
Solution:  Have a qualified technician service your heating system, water heater, and other coal, oil, or gas appliances every year. Install a CO detector in your home. Never heat your house with a gas oven or use a gasoline-powered or coal-burning device inside your home. To learn which houseplants remove carbon monoxide and other harmful toxins from the air,

3. Lead
Exposure to this highly toxic metal has been associated with serious health problems in children including measurable changes in mental development and behavior. In adults, chronic exposure can lead to nerve disorders and other ailments. Although federal and state regulatory standards have minimized or eliminated lead in consumer products since 1978, it still remains in homes and other places where it was once used. Lead-based paints in older homes, household dust, drinking water (if you have lead pipes), and contaminated soil are the major sources of lead exposure.

Solution:  Test your home and water for lead, especially if the structure was built before 1978. There are three ways you can test for lead:

purchase a lead home test kit (sold at most hardware stores)
consult an environmental lab or organization
hire a licensed risk assessor
If you find lead in your wall paint, have a certified lead paint removal company eliminate it. If your home has lead pipes, reduce the amount of the metal in your water by never using hot water from the tap for drinking or making baby formula; hot water causes more lead to seep from the pipes. Above all, have your child tested for lead.

4. Mold
These microscopic living organisms grow where moisture, oxygen, and organic material are present. It’s easy to spot mold (unless it is under carpets or in walls), but what you can’t see are the tiny spores that are released into the air when it is disturbed. Exposure to spores can cause health-related problems such as nasal and sinus congestion, chronic cough, and eye irritation. It may also trigger asthma attacks and lung infections for individuals with chronic respiratory disease. Mold can be found in your bathroom, basement, crawl spaces, attic, or practically anywhere in your home that is damp with poor ventilation.

Solution:  Use a non-ammonia cleaner or dishwashing soap and water to remove mold. Wear gloves, long sleeves, pants, eye protectors, and a respirator because spores will be released as you clean. After cleaning the mold, use a HEPA (high efficiency particulate absorbing) vacuum or air cleaner to eliminate any mold spores in the air. For large areas, hire a professional to get rid of it. Discard carpet, drywall, insulation, and other items if they have been wet for more than two days.

5. Pesticides
Insect repellant, weed killers, flea and tick shampoo, roach sprays and baits. These are just a few of the pesticides that could be in your home. There are other "hidden" dangerous chemicals in products such as mothballs, wallpaper, and pressure treated wood. If used in the wrong way or stored improperly, pesticides can be dangerous to your health, causing nerve damage, breathing problems, and more. Household pesticides are one of the leading causes of childhood poisonings.

Solution:  Only use pesticides according to the instructions on the label. Keep all household pesticides in a locked cabinet and out of reach of children. Protect yourself from direct exposure while using pesticides, and never eat or drink around them. Wash your hands thoroughly after working with a pesticide.

To learn which houseplants remove harmful toxins from the air,

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