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BJP forms anti-Congress block in Northeast with Himanta Biswa Sarma as convenor

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on 24 May announced the formation of a new platform named North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) for the development of all the North-Eastern states. Newly elected minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, a former Congressman, has been appointed as the convenor of the alliance. The meeting was chaired by BJP President Amit Shah, just hours after Sarbananda Sonowal was sworn-in as the 14th Chief Minister of Assam.

Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal attended the meet along with his Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Sikkim counterparts Kalikho Pul, T R Zeliang and P K Chamling respectively. BJP National General Secretary Ram Madhav was also present at the meet.

"This alliance will be called North East Democratic Alliance. I congratulate Shri @himantabiswa on being declared as Convenor of NEDA," Shah later tweeted.

Kerala: Pinarayi Vijayan to be sworn-in as Chief Minister today

Pinarayi Vijayan, veteran CPI-M polit bureau member, is all set to be sworn-in as the Chief Minister of Kerala on 25 May.

The oath ceremony is slated to take place at 4 pm. Governor P. Sathasivam will also administer the oath of office and secrecy to 18 ministers in Thiruvananthapuram. Most of the ministers to be sworn-in this evening are new faces. The list of ministers released by CPI-M Kerala State Committee showed that eight MLAs are becoming ministers for the first time. There will be 12 minister from CPI-M including Vijayan. While four ministers will be from CPI, three others are from Congress(S), NCP and JD(S).

CPI(M)-led left Democratic Front (LDF) came back to power in Kerala after five years, winning 91 seats in the 140 member Assembly, while UDF won 47 seats.

IPL 9: ABD special shocks Gujarat, powers RCB to their 3rd final

AB de Villiers played a breathtaking knock to single-handedly lead Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) fightback and take them into the Indian Premier League (IPL) final with a thrilling four-wicket win over Gujarat Lions (GL) in Bengaluru on 24 May.

Chasing 159, RCB looked down and out at 29 for five before De Villiers smashed an unbeaten 47-ball 79 to script a sensational comeback and take the team home in 18.2 overs. The Lions were outdone by one man's class as the efforts of Dhawal Kulkarani and Dwayne Smith went in vain.

With the spectacular win, RCB are into their third IPL final and one step away from their maiden title. Lions on other hand will have another chance to make the summit clash in the Qualifier 2 in Delhi on 27 May.

Assam: Ulfa opposes land allotment to Ramdev, gives new BJP govt its first political test

The allotment of 3,800 hectares of land to yoga guru Ramdev's Patanjali Trust by Assam's Bodoland People's Front has given the new BJP government that will be sworn in today its first political issue to tackle.

Ramdev will be in Guwahati today to watch the new government being sworn in.

The allotment of land to Patanjali has been opposed by the Ulfa and the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS).

On Monday, Ulfa chairman Dr Abhijit Asom said in a statement that Ramdev had an ulterior motive in seeking such a large tract of land, according to The Economic Times.

Evidence of 5,000-year-old beer recipe found in China

Back in 2004, archaeologists excavated two pits in northern China that looked a lot like home brewing operations. Constructed between 3400 and 2900 BC by the Yangshao culture, each pit contained the remnants of a stove and assorted funnels, pots and amphorae.

Now, Jiajing Wang of Stanford University and colleagues report that the pottery shards contain residue and other evidence of starches, chemicals and plant minerals from specific fermented grains. The ancient beer recipe included broom corn millet, barley, Job's tears and tubers - that probably gave the beer a sweet flavor, the team wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The findings predate the earliest evidence of barley in China by around 1,000 years. Beer may have been consumed at social gatherings, and brewing, not agriculture, spurred the introduction of barley to China, sciencenews.org reported.

The center of Earth is younger than the outer surface

Our home planet is young at heart. According to new calculations, Earth's centre is more than two years younger than its surface.In Einstein's general theory of relativity, massive objects warp the fabric of spacetime, creating a gravitational pull and slowing time nearby. So a clock placed at Earth's centre will tick ever-so-slightly slower than a clock at its surface. Such time shifts are determined by the gravitational potential, a measure of the amount of work it would take to move an object from one place to another. Since climbing up from Earth's centre would be a struggle against gravity, clocks down deep would run slow relative to surface timepieces, a report in sciencenews.org said.Over the 4.5 billion years of Earth's history, the gradual shaving off of fractions of a second adds up to a core that's 2.5 years younger than the planet's crust, researchers estimate in the May European Journal of Physics. Theoretical physicist Richard Feynman had suggested in the 1960s that the core was younger, but only by a few days.The new calculation neglects geological processes, which have a larger impact on the planet's age. For example, Earth's core probably formed earlier than its crust. Instead, says study author Ulrik Uggerhøj of Aarhus University in Denmark, the calculation serves as an illustration of gravity's influence on time - very close to home.

For baby sea turtles, it helps to have a lot of siblings

Sea turtles do not have an easy start to life. After hatching, they have to break out of their shell, dig their way out from beneath the sand, then make a mad dash across the beach to the water where they may or may not find food and safety - hopefully without getting snapped up by a predator. All of this requires a bit of luck and a lot of energy. And the energy a hatchling expends on breaking out of the nest is energy that can't be used on surviving the rest of the journey.Now, a new study has quantified the amount of energy a baby sea turtle uses to dig itself to the surface. Having lots of siblings - and, thus, lots of help - can really be a time and energy saver, researchers have reported in the Journal of Experimental Biology. That also implies that the conservation technique of dividing clutches may instead make hatchlings worse off.Figuring out the energy expenditure of baby sea turtles took some trial and error, a report in sciencenews.org said. For the final experiment, the scientists buried clutches of eggs just about to hatch beneath 40 centimeters of beach sand in a chamber with opaque walls.

China, no country for academics?

Political scientists and law experts are flee to America as Beijing's grip on freedoms in China intensifies under President Xi Jinping.Many academics feel there is no longer a place for them in President Jinping's increasingly repressive China, the Guardian has reported.As Chinese activist and scholar Teng Biao sat at home on the east coast of America, more than 13,000 km away his wife and nine-year-old daughter were preparing to embark on the most dangerous journey of their lives."My wife didn't tell my daughter what was going on," said Teng, who had himself fled China seven months earlier to escape the most severe period of political repression since the days following the Tiananmen massacre in 1989."She said it was going to be a special holiday. She told her they were going on an adventure."One year after their dramatic escape through southeast Asia, Teng's family has been reunited in New Jersey and is part of a fast-growing community of exiled activists and academics who feel there is no longer a place for them in Xi Jinping's increasingly repressive China.Until about 12 months ago China's top universities "remained islands of relative freedom", said Cohen, who has studied the Asian country for nearly six decades.