Los Angeles, Dec 12 (IANS) Biopic “Lincoln”, musical “Les Miserables” and romantic comedy “Silver Linings Playbook” Wednesday dominated nominations for the 19th Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards with four nods each.
On the TV front, the constant contender and winner, ABC comedy “Modern Family” finished as the top nominee with four mentions, Xinhua reported.
Others like “30 Rock”, “The Big Bang Theory”, “Glee”, “Nurse Jackie” and “The Office” also made their way into the pack.
Actor-director Ben Affleck’s political thriller “Argo” and British comedy-drama “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” will also vie for the best ensemble cast, regarded the top honour at the annual event.
Washington, Dec 12 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Wednesday was the 12th day of the 12th month of 2012, a rare triple digit date so unique that it prompted thousands of couples in the US to tie the knot on what many saw as an extra lucky day.
“Weddings are one of the most important and significant events that happen in a woman’s life, and the ability to able to combine that with a once-in-a-lifetime date like 12-12-12 is something that doesn’t come along very often,” Brian Beitler, executive vice president of David’s Bridal wedding wear, told Huffington Post website.
“For a bride trying to make the most of her special day, a unique date like this, an iconic date like this, provides something that not many brides for the rest of this century are going to be able to do,” he said.
The wedding supply chain estimates roughly 7,500 couples will marry across the US on Wednesday, up more than 1,400 percent from the 485 couples who wed on the same date in 2011.
Among the lucky couples are Alysen Hargrove and Tommy Cowan of the state of Colorado. They got engaged last year 11-11-11, which also happened to be the bride’s birthday.
For some, the number 12 is considered lucky. For others it represents faith and love.
Numerologists say it is a symbol of wholeness and completion. It is also prominent for Biblical scholars — Jacob had 12 sons, there were 12 tribes of Israel and Jesus had 12 apostles.
Whatever the reason, the weddings are a boon for the US wedding industry and wedding chapels are eager to cash in on it, particularly in Las Vegas, a city known as much for its “quickie” weddings complete with Elvis impersonators as for its high stakes gambling casinos.
“From a marketing perspective, it’s a very big deal. Numbers are associated with Vegas,” Ann Parsons, marketing director for Vegas Weddings, which runs four chapels in town, told USA Today.
Wedding chapels marketed “12-12-12″ packages to lure in brides and grooms. They also marketed the next big iconic date on the calendar with “Armageddon Wedding” packages for Dec 21, 2012, the end of a Mayan calendar that some say will mark the end of the world.
Of course, for those who just are not ready to tie the knot right now, there is another iconic date to consider — next Nov 12, or 11-12-13.
Washington, Dec 12 (IANS) Indian Sitar maestro Ravi Shankar, who died in a US hospital Tuesday, gave just a little over a month back what was to be his final public performance, billed as a celebration of his tenth decade of creating music.
For the 92-year-old musician, who had suffered from upper-respiratory and heart issues over the past year performing, and especially touring, became increasingly difficult in recent months, the Ravi Shankar Foundation said in a statement.
“However, health couldn’t prevent Shankar from performing with his daughter, sitarist Anoushka Shankar, on Nov 4 in Long Beach, California,” it said.
This need of Shankar’s to constantly be moving forward and creating was present even in the final years of his life as he embarked on establishing his own recording label, East Meets West Music.
The album “The Living Room Sessions, Part 1″ has received a 2013 Grammy nomination, news of which reached Shankar the night prior to his surgery.
In a review of the record, Songlines magazine stated that the master has lost “absolutely nothing in the way of musical virtuosity, technical brilliance and the kind of high-energy passion that belongs in concert performances.”
“Memorial plans will be announced. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Ravi Shankar Foundation. Donations can be made online at JustGive.org, the statement said.
Ravi Shankar maintained residences both in India and the United States.
He is survived by his wife Sukanya; daughter Norah Jones; daughter Anoushka Shankar Wright and husband Joe Wright; 3 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren.
–Indo-Asian News Service
Washington, Dec 12 (IANS) Sitar maestro Ravi Shankar, described by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a “national treasure”, who bridged the gap between the East and the west in the world of music died in a US hospital. He was 92.
The end came just a few days after a heart valve replacement surgery. He had been admitted to the Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, San Diego, near his home after he complained of breathing difficulties.
“Shankar had suffered from upper respiratory and heart issues over the past year and underwent heart-valve replacement surgery (Dec 6). Though the surgery was successful, recovery proved too difficult for the 92-year-old musician,” the Ravi Shankar Foundation said in a statement.
He breathed his last at 4.30 p.m. Pacific Time Tuesday.
He is survived by his wife Sukanya Rajan and daughters Anoushka and Norah Jones, and three grandchildren. He also had a son, Shubhendra Shankar, from his first wife Annapurna Devi. Shubhendra died in 1992.
ukanya and Anoushka were by his side when the end came.
“As you all know, his health has been fragile for the past several years. On Thursday he underwent a surgery that could have potentially given him a new lease of life.
“Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the surgeons and doctors, his body was not able to withstand the strain of the surgery. We were at his side when he passed away,” they said in a statement.
Paying tribute to the maestro, Time magazine recalled that in 1968, its reviewer had written “that the sheen of celebrity that the musician’s association with The Beatles had created was starting to fade. In hindsight, that assessment is debatable”.
“More than forty years later, Ravi Shankar is still one of the most powerful and lasting influences in music today.”
The influential New York Times, in a front page story, said the Indian sitarist and composer’s “collaborations with Western classical musicians as well as rock stars helped foster a worldwide appreciation of India’s traditional music”.
“Shankar, a soft-spoken, eloquent man whose performance style embodied a virtuosity that transcended musical languages was trained in both Eastern and Western musical traditions,” it said.
“Although Western audiences were often mystified by the odd sounds and shapes of the instruments when he began touring in Europe and the United States in the early 1950s, Mr. Shankar and his ensemble gradually built a large following for Indian music,” the Times said.
The Washington Post said the Grammy Award-winning Indian sitar virtuoso had become “the world’s leading representative of South Asian music, exerted a major influence on popular music in the 1960s.”
“One reason Mr. Shankar’s music had such influence over audiences and musicians was the otherworldly quality of its tones and rhythms; the sitar produces more tones than a guitar and is based on a different theory of music,” it said.
“His music transcended trends and cultural barriers,” CNN said.
“The legendary sitar player’s classical career outlived his counterculture fame, but he continued to meld East with West and composed concertos, which harmonized his sitar with orchestras.”
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
–Indo-Asian News Service
Washington, Dec 12 (IANS) Pope Benedict XVI Wednesday took a bold step into the world of social media, when he issued his first tweet from his personal account using the handle @Pontifex – meaning “bridge builder” in Latin, CNN reported.
“Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart,” the pope tweeted.
He followed it up with two more tweets.
“How can we celebrate the Year of Faith better in our daily lives?”, which was followed by the answer: “By speaking with Jesus in prayer, listening to what he tells you in the Gospel and looking for him in those in need.”
An hour after his first tweet, the pope had around 700,000 followers on his English account.
He is also tweeting in other languages, including Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic.
A Vatican official told CNN the pope would compose the tweets himself.
Monsignor Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, told Vatican Radio that the first tweet was “an extraordinary moment”.
The first tweet had more than 2,000 retweets in under two minutes.
Anyone could send in a question to the pope’s personal account via the hashtag #askpontifex or #B16.
Pope Benedict had last year launched the official Vatican news site on Twitter, @news_va_en, CNN said.
John Paul II, who preceded Benedict, was the first pontiff to use the internet. Pope Pius XI made the first papal radio broadcast in 1931. His successor, Pope Piux XII, made the first papal TV appearance in 1946.
Washington, Dec 12 (IANS) Facebook may lower one’s self-control and tempt him or her into excessive eating or spending, says a new consumer study.
“Using online social networks can have a positive effect on self-esteem and well-being. However, these increased feelings of self-worth can have a detrimental effect on behaviour,” says the joint study by Keith Wilcox of Columbia University and Andrew T. Stephen of Pittsburgh University.
Facebook, the largest social networking website, has over one billion active users. A number of studies have found that Facebook usage lowers self-control for consumers who focus on close friends while browsing their social network, the Journal of Consumer Research reports.
Specifically, such consumers are more likely to choose an unhealthy snack after browsing Facebook due to enhanced self-esteem, according to a Columbia and Pittsburgh statement.
Greater Facebook use was linked with a higher body-mass index, increased binge eating, a lower credit score, and higher levels of credit card debt for consumers with many close friends in their social network.
“These results are concerning given the increased time people spend using social networks, as well as the worldwide proliferation of access to social networks anywhere anytime via smartphones and other gadgets,” says the study by Wilcox and Stephen.
Toronto, Dec 12 (IANS) A new gel, inspired by the mussel’s knack for clinging, can be painted onto ruptured arteries and veins, protecting them.
Co-fabricated by Christian Kastrup, while he was a post-doctoral student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the gel is similar to the amino acid that enables mussels to resist the might of churning water.
The variant that Kastrup and his colleagues created can withstand the flow of blood through arteries and veins, the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition” reports.
The gel’s “sheer strength” could shore up weakened vessel walls at risk of rupturing, much like the way putty can fill in dents in a wall, said Kastrup, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at the Michael Smith Lab, University of British Columbia, US.
By forming a stable barrier between blood and the vessel walls, the gel could also prevent the inflammation that typically occurs when a stent is inserted to widen a narrowed artery or vein; that inflammation often counteracts the opening of the vessel that the stent was intended to achieve, according to a Michael Smith Lab statement.
The widest potential application would be preventing the rupture of blood vessel plaque. When a plaque ruptures, the resulting clot can block blood flow to the heart (triggering a heart attack) or the brain (triggering a stroke).
Mice treated with a combination of the gel and an anti-inflammatory steroid had more stable plaque than a control group of untreated mice.
“By mimicking the mussel’s ability to cling to objects, we created a substance that stays in place in a very dynamic environment with high flow velocities,” Kastrup said.
St. Petersburg, Dec 10 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Anzhi Makhachkala fans will be allowed to hang a banner in support of their team at the Petrovsky stadium for Monday’s clash at Zenit St. Petersburg, which is being played behind closed doors.
Zenit were ordered to play two games in an empty stadium as punishment for an incident in which a player was injured by a flare thrown from the Zenit end.
Anzhi’s fans relation manager Zagid Kebedgadzhiev said that Zenit refused to let Dagestan supporters place the banner, but the situation changed after the pre-match meeting.
“Today there was a pre-match briefing, we raised the issue so that we were allowed to bring a banner to root for our team,” Kebedgadzhiev said.
“The match delegate and Zenit security service gave us the green light after being informed about the content and size of the banner.”
The home end will also be filled with banners and flags.
Anzhi will go level on 43 points with leaders CSKA Moscow if they win, while a Zenit victory means Monday’s opponents will go into the winter break in joint second on 40 points.
Washington, Dec 10 (IANS) American scientists have developed a faster, cheaper route to detect extreme bioterror threats, such as those from botulinum neurotoxins – 100 billion times more toxic than cyanide.
“Using crude extracts from E.coli – the workhorse bacterium of the biotechnology laboratory – the new route bypasses the need for purification and complex equipment, enabling screening to be performed in under an hour,” said Andrew Hayhurst, Texas Biomedical Research Institute virologist, who led the research.
Botulinum neurotoxins and Ebolavirus are among a handful of threats now categorized as tier 1 agents, presenting the greatest risk of deliberate misuse with the most significant potential for mass casualties or devastating effects to the economy, critical infrastructure or public confidence.
Normally, he said, such screening requires sophisticated costly equipment to purify and analyze the affinity reagents. Such analysis becomes a huge burden when hundreds of reagents need to be checked and can take weeks to months, according to the journal Scientific Reports.
“We need an inexpensive route to screen libraries of affinity reagents. It had to be simple and self-contained as we eventually needed it to work in the space-suit lab or hot zone,” said Hayhurst, according to a Texas Biomedical statement.
His surprisingly simple scheme allows scientists to make stop-gap tests to any given biological threat in a matter of days, with the screening step completed in an hour. The goal now is to speed up the entire process to work within a single day.
Hayhurst initially developed the pipeline using llama antibodies as the affinity reagents to botulinum neurotoxins, known as the world’s most poisonous poisons – 100 billion times more toxic than cyanide and handled in a specialized biosafety cabinet at biosafety level 2.
Satisfied that the system was working, he then took it into the biosafety level 4 lab with his assistant, Laura Jo Sherwood, and they generated a stop-gap test for Ebolavirus Zaire in days. This virus has been shown to be 95 percent lethal in outbreak settings and with no vaccine or therapeutic it is a risk to the U.S. through importation.
Washington, Dec 10 (IANS) About one in four physicians in the US uses social media once or multiple times daily to explore medical information, and 14 percent do so daily to contribute new information, says a new survey.
The survey of 485 oncologists and primary care physicians also found that on a weekly basis or even more frequently, 61 percent of physicians scan social media for information and 46 percent contribute new information.
Social media was defined as “Internet-based applications that allow for the creation and exchange of user-generated content, including social networking, professional online communities, wikis, blogs and microblogging”.
Since the survey was conducted 19 months ago, it’s likely that more physicians are using social media now, says Robert S. Miller, assistant professor of oncology and oncology medical information officer at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Centre, the Journal of Medical Internet Research reports.
The amount of information required for medical practice is growing exponentially, Miller said, and social media provides “a very valid construct for physicians to keep current”, according to a Johns Hopkins statement.
“What did surprise us was the heavy use of online physician-only communities,” Miller said. “It’s possible that many physicians feel more comfortable with that type of social media instead of a more public space like Twitter or Facebook.”
In March 2011, Miller and colleagues e-mailed the survey about attitudes and usage of social media to a random sample of 1,695 practising oncologists and primary care physicians found in the American Medical Association’s Physician Masterfile.
Of 485 practising physicians who responded, nearly 60 percent said social media is beneficial, engaging and a good way to get current, high-quality information (279 respondents); enables them to care for patients more efficiently (281 respondents); and improves the quality of patient care they deliver (291 respondents).
What influenced a physician’s usage of social media most were perceived ease of use and usefulness.
Physicians who had positive attitudes toward social media were more likely to use it. Neither age nor gender affected use of social media.
The study originated from a common interest in social media among Miller and his co-investigators Brian S. McGowan, Molly Wasko and Bryan Steven Vartabedian.
Washington, Dec 10 (IANS) Hundreds of billions of solar systems like ours — comprising planets, asteroids and comets — may be residing in our Milky Way galaxy, which itself may be like a drop in the ocean of galaxies, feel scientists.
The rarest and largest of galaxy groupings, called galaxy clusters, can be the hardest to find.
That’s where the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) can help.
The mission’s all-sky infrared maps have revealed one distant galaxy cluster and are expected to uncover thousands more.
These massive structures are collections of up to thousands of galaxies bound together by gravity. They were born out of seeds of matter formed in the very early universe, and grew rapidly by a process called inflation, the Astrophysical Journal reports.
“One of the key questions in cosmology is how did the first bumps and wiggles in the distribution of matter in our universe rapidly evolve into the massive structures of galaxies we see today,” said Anthony Gonzalez of University of Florida, Gainesville, who led the research programme, according to a NASA statement.
“By uncovering the most massive of galaxy clusters billions of light years away with WISE, we can test theories of the universe’s early inflation period,” added Gonzalez.
WISE completed its all-sky survey in 2011, after surveying the entire sky twice at infrared wavelengths.
The 16-inch telescope ran out of its coolant as expected in 2010, but went on to complete the second sky scan using two of its four infrared channels, which still functioned without coolant.
At that time, the goal of the mission extension was to hunt for more near-Earth asteroids via a project called NEOWISE.
NASA has since funded the WISE team to combine all that data, allowing astronomers to study everything from nearby stars to distant galaxies.
These next-generation all-sky images, part of a new project called “AllWISE,” will be significantly more sensitive than those previously released, and will be publicly available in late 2013.
“I had pretty much written off using WISE to find distant galaxy clusters because we had to reduce the telescope diametre to only 16 inches to stay within our cost guidelines, so I am thrilled that we can find them after all,” said Peter Eisenhardt, the WISE project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, California, and study author.
Los Angeles, Dec 10 (IANS) Singer Cheryl Cole has cancelled her plans to host a Christmas dinner for her band Girls Aloud as she cannot cook.
The Girls Aloud band consists of Cheryl, Sarah Harding, Nadine Coyle, Nicola Roberts and Kimberly Walsh. All of them wanted to celebrate the festival at Cheryl’s place, but she does not wish to spoil their Christmas with her inability to cook well.
“I was the one put forward but my theory is it spoils your Christmas dinner, no? I think they nominated me for a laugh because I can’t cook,” dailystar.co.uk quoted Cheryl as saying.
Girls Aloud recently made a comeback with a singles “Something new” and “Beautiful cause you love me”.