|Collage of Newsweek (41)|
Science News This Week:
1) Scientists Image Nanoparticles in Action:
|Scientists Image Nanoparticles in Action|
The macroscopic effects of certain nanoparticles on human health have long been clear to the naked eye. What scientists have lacked is the ability to see the detailed movements of individual particles that give rise to those effects.
In a recently published study, scientists at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute invented a technique for imaging nanoparticle dynamics with atomic resolution as these dynamics occur in a liquid environment. The results will allow, for the first time, the imaging of nanoscale processes, such as the engulfment of nanoparticles into cells."We were stunned to see the large-ranged mobility in such small objects," said Deborah Kelly, an assistant professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute. "We now have a system to watch the behaviors of therapeutic nanoparticles at atomic resolution."
Nanoparticles are made of many materials and come in different shapes and sizes. In the new study, Kelly and her colleagues chose to make rod-shaped gold nanoparticles the stars of their new molecular movies. These nanoparticles, roughly the size of a virus, are used to treat various forms of cancer. Once injected, they accumulate in solid tumors. Infrared radiation is then used to heat them and destroy nearby cancerous cells.To take an up-close look at the gold nanoparticles in action, the researchers made a vacuum-tight microfluidic chamber by pressing two silicon-nitride semiconductor chips together with a 150-nanometer spacer in between. The microchips contained transparent windows so the beam from a transmission electron microscope could pass through to create an atomic-scale image.Using the new technique, the scientists created two types of visualizations. The first included pictures of individual nanoparticles' atomic structures at 100,000-times magnification -- the highest resolution images ever taken of nanoparticles in a liquid environment.
The second visualization was a movie captured at 23,000-times magnification that revealed the movements of a group of nanoparticles reacting to an electron beam, which mimics the effects of the infrared radiation used in cancer therapies.In the movie, the gold nanoparticles can be seen surfing nanoscale tidal waves.
"The nanoparticles behaved like grains of sand being concentrated on a beach by crashing waves," said Kelly. "We think this behavior may be related to why the nanoparticles become concentrated in tumors. Our next experiment will be to insert a cancer cell to study the nanoparticles' therapeutic effects on tumors."
The team is also testing the resolution of the microfluidic system with other reagents and materials, bringing researchers one step closer to viewing live biological mechanisms in action at the highest levels of resolution possible.
2) The Human Brainome Project:
|he Human Brainome Project|
Brain research has been on a lot of minds lately in the nation’s capital. After offering a brief shout-out to Alzheimer’s research in his February State of the Union address, President Barack Obama went a step further in April by announcing a decade-long effort to develop advanced tools for tracking human brain activity. The administration dubbed it the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies initiative, and proposed spending $100 million on the program in the 2014 fiscal year.Scientists have discussed such an endeavor for years, and pushed hard for it in the past few months. Writing March 15 in Science, researchers say the project would develop technologies to probe brain activity on a far greater scale and with higher resolution than is now possible.
Current tools can monitor only small numbers of individual neurons at a time or capture blurry, bird’s-eye views of brain activity. The new tools would enable real-time mapping of how the thousands or millions of neurons in coordinated groups, known as circuits, work together. Brain functions — and, in many cases, dysfunctions — are thought to emerge from this still poorly described circuit level.“There’s no way to build a map until you develop the tools,” says Rafael Yuste, a neuroscientist at Columbia University’s Kavli Institute for Brain Science and one of the project’s proponents.
Researchers call for developing three sets of tools to better understand brain circuits. One focus is on the creation of tools to measure the activities of all the individual neurons in a circuit. Another is on technologies to experimentally manipulate these neurons. The third tool set would store, analyze and make the data accessible to all researchers.Scientists today can directly probe individual neurons to examine the main currency of neuronal communication, electrical signals known as action potentials. But the existing tools are generally invasive, making them tough to use in humans, or have crude resolution. New technologies, some already emerging, would be nanoscale, proponents of the effort write March 26 in ACS Nano, or they would measure voltage indirectly through an indicator. Other possible targets include chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters, which relay action potentials between neurons via synapses.For instance, researchers already use laser microscopes to measure calcium ions, an indicator of voltage. One recent study used a special laser microscope that emits a “light sheet” to detect calcium ions and map the activity of 80 percent of a larval zebra fish’s roughly 100,000-neuron brain. Coauthor Misha Ahrens of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Ashburn, Va., likens the method to shining a thin sheet of light instead of a lamp in a foggy area; the thin layer would be scattered far less by the fog than the diffuse lamplight would.he map, described March 18 in Nature Methods, shows activity once a second. It may be the first time vertebrate brain activity has ever been revealed in such detail. To go further and capture the brain’s workings at a rate of 1,000 times a second, as scientists would like, will require major changes in microscope technology, Ahrens says.Another exciting prospect is the use of quantum dots, nanoscale semiconducting spheres that can be engineered to glow a different color or brightness depending on voltage or neurotransmitter levels.Researchers even envision artificial cells that could serve as liaisons between measurement tools and neurons, says George Church, a Harvard University geneticist who helped plan the initiative and was a leading figure in the Human Genome Project.
While imaging and measurement tools would enable researchers to link neuron activity or neurotransmitter levels with certain functions or dysfunctions of the brain, manipulating individual neurons could lead to even more powerful experiments. It also could lead to clinical applications.In the burgeoning field of optogenetics, neurons are engineered to turn on or off in response to light. “We can selectively activate individual neurons. By doing that, you can really get at issues of causality,” says Clay Reid, a neurobiologist at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle.Reporting April 3 in Nature, researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Baltimore and the University of California, San Francisco used optogenetics to produce or diminish compulsive cocaine use in rats by manipulating the activity of a specific group of neurons.
Researchers hope the findings lead to new therapies for drug addiction, but the road to clinical application is a difficult one and requires a sustained investment. “The evolution of optogenetics or similar techniques needs a lot of help, because the benefits are going to far, far outweigh the costs,” says coauthor Antonello Bonci of NIDA.A huge advantage of optogenetics, he says, is that it can manipulate neurons almost in real time. But it can’t be used for long periods. In his lab, Bonci complements optogenetics with another promising technique that has lower time resolution but can be used for longer. It involves implanting neurons engineered to respond to certain compounds. Injecting those compounds can activate or silence the cells.
Preparing for the data flood
Monitoring and manipulating individual cells is only part of the challenge; tracking a million neurons a thousand times a second will produce a lot of data. Software, databases and hardware will be needed to store and distribute that information, and to process and analyze it. Project proponents met at Caltech in January to discuss how to address the data needs — roughly a gigabyte a second for a million neurons simultaneously, or 30 million gigabytes a year.Researchers could compress the data by a factor of 10 without sacrificing crucial details, according to a report from the meeting. Ultimately, the data problem shouldn’t be insurmountable, Yuste says. Another proposed big science project, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, would produce around 10 million gigabytes of astronomical data annually starting in the early 2020s — right when million-neuron tools could come online, he notes.
Technical obstacles aren’t the only worry Yuste and his colleagues have. The recurring state of fiscal crisis in Washington makes it difficult to get any big project off the ground. Uncertainty over funding has fueled skepticism among scientists, who wonder whether money would be taken from other research to fund a “Big Science” project that lacks a concrete final goal.National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins notes that his agency has formed a workgroup of neuroscientists and some nanoscientists — supportive and skeptical alike — to guide the project’s timetable and scientific goals. One of the cochairs is Cori Bargmann, a Rockefeller University neuroscientist who previously raised concerns that the project could take funding from other neuroscience work.Gary Marcus, a neuroscientist at New York University, says he is concerned that the project focuses too much on tool development, but notes that the administration’s proposal may be flexible enough to fund projects in other areas of neuroscience.He fears what will happen if the tools are developed but don’t yield all the promised insights. “We will surely learn something,” Marcus says. “Whether we learn everything we want to know is another question.”
3) Signs of culture in whales and monkeys:
|Signs of culture in whales and monkeys|
The phrase “monkey see, monkey do” applies to humpback whales. Vervet monkeys and humpback whales both copy behaviors from their neighbors, researchers report April 25 in Science. The two studies suggest that, like humans, some wild animals pick up new habits from each other.Accurately imitating one another’s actions is a “potential building block of culture,” says cultural evolutionist Peter Richerson of the University of California, Davis, who was not involved with the work. Complex culture builds upon people learning skills from each other, he says.
Scientists have previously spotted signs of social learning in monkeys, birds and other animals, but most studies relied on field observations or experiments with captive animals, says cognitive biologist Andrew Whiten of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.To gauge the role of social learning in wild animals, Whiten’s team trained four groups of vervet monkeys living in a South African game preserve to eat either blue or pink corn and despise corn of the other color. Whiten and colleagues did this by soaking one type of colored corn in an aloe solution that the monkeys found disgusting.Then the researchers waited four to six months until the monkeys had given birth to a new generation. The team brought out both colors of corn again — but this time, none was tainted with the nasty flavor. Most of the adult monkeys stuck with the color they had learned was tasty, and all but one of but one of the 27 infants munched on the color that their group preferred.
Since adult male vervet monkeys migrate among groups, the researchers could observe that nine out of 10 males that moved from pink to blue groups or vice versa swapped their color preference and ate what the locals were eating.The migrants may have been tapping into local knowledge about food, Whiten says. Or the animals could have been trying to fit in with their new friends. “Trying to be like others is a way of bonding with another group,” he says.
Humpback whales learn from their buddies as well, reports marine biologist Luke Rendell, also from the University of St. Andrews – in this case, a feeding behavior. Humpbacks commonly blow bubbles underwater to round up prey, but in 1980, a single whale was seen adding a new twist to the old technique: Before casting a bubble net, the whale whacked its tail on the sea’s surface. The loud smack shakes up the water and may help the whale catch more prey. Since then, more and more whales have adopted the skill, called lobtail feeding.The new results suggest the more time whales spend with members of their species who lobtail feed, the faster the whales learn the technique. Rendell’s team drew on a gigantic collection of whale sightings in the Gulf of Maine, from a 27-year-long project. Whale watchers made more than 73,000 sightings, and logged date, identity, and behavior information (including hunting technique) about each humpback they spotted. The research team then used network analysis to draw connections between whales and their friends — a social network for humpbacks.
The more lobtail-hunting friends a whale had, Rendell says, the more likely the animal was to pick up the skill. The results suggest that humpback whales, which researchers have previously shown learn songs from one another, also pass on hunting behaviors. “In this population, you’ve got multiple traditions going on,” Rendell says. He argues that this could constitute culture in the whales.“Claims of tradition and culture in wild animals can be very contentious,” says evolutionary anthropologist Rachel Kendal of Durham University in England. Rendell’s group did a good job heading off potential criticisms, she says.Still, Rendell says, “I’d love to be able to say that the case is closed, but I think there will always be debate about culture in animals.” And now, when people have that debate, he says, humpback whales will have to be part of it.
4) NASA Probe Observes Meteors Colliding With Saturn's Rings:
|NASA Probe Observes Meteors Colliding With Saturn's Rings|
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has provided the first direct evidence of small meteoroids breaking into streams of rubble and crashing into Saturn's rings.These observations make Saturn's rings the only location besides Earth, the moon and Jupiter where scientists and amateur astronomers have been able to observe impacts as they occur. Studying the impact rate of meteoroids from outside the Saturnian system helps scientists understand how different planet systems in our solar system formed.The solar system is full of small, speeding objects. These objects frequently pummel planetary bodies. The meteoroids at Saturn are estimated to range from about one-half inch to several yards (1 centimeter to several meters) in size. It took scientists years to distinguish tracks left by nine meteoroids in 2005, 2009 and 2012.Details of the observations appear in a paper in the Thursday, April 25 edition of Science.
Results from Cassini have already shown Saturn's rings act as very effective detectors of many kinds of surrounding phenomena, including the interior structure of the planet and the orbits of its moons. For example, a subtle but extensive corrugation that ripples 12,000 miles (19,000 kilometers) across the innermost rings tells of a very large meteoroid impact in 1983."These new results imply the current-day impact rates for small particles at Saturn are about the same as those at Earth -- two very different neighborhoods in our solar system -- and this is exciting to see," said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "It took Saturn's rings acting like a giant meteoroid detector -- 100 times the surface area of the Earth -- and Cassini's long-term tour of the Saturn system to address this question."
The Saturnian equinox in summer 2009 was an especially good time to see the debris left by meteoroid impacts. The very shallow sun angle on the rings caused the clouds of debris to look bright against the darkened rings in pictures from Cassini's imaging science subsystem."We knew these little impacts were constantly occurring, but we didn't know how big or how frequent they might be, and we didn't necessarily expect them to take the form of spectacular shearing clouds," said Matt Tiscareno, lead author of the paper and a Cassini participating scientist at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. "The sunlight shining edge-on to the rings at the Saturnian equinox acted like an anti-cloaking device, so these usually invisible features became plain to see."Tiscareno and his colleagues now think meteoroids of this size probably break up on a first encounter with the rings, creating smaller, slower pieces that then enter into orbit around Saturn. The impact into the rings of these secondary meteoroid bits kicks up the clouds. The tiny particles forming these clouds have a range of orbital speeds around Saturn. The clouds they form soon are pulled into diagonal, extended bright streaks."Saturn's rings are unusually bright and clean, leading some to suggest that the rings are actually much younger than Saturn," said Jeff Cuzzi, a co-author of the paper and a Cassini interdisciplinary scientist specializing in planetary rings and dust at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. "To assess this dramatic claim, we must know more about the rate at which outside material is bombarding the rings. This latest analysis helps fill in that story with detection of impactors of a size that we weren't previously able to detect directly."
5) News in Brief: Coelacanth is not closest fishy relative of terrestrial animals:
|News in Brief: Coelacanth is not closest fishy relative of terrestrial animals|
Lungs, not limbs, propelled the aquatic ancestor of land animals out of the ocean, according to a new analysis of the genome of the coelacanth, an ancient species of fish with limblike fins. Scientists have debated whether fish with lungs, such as lungfish, or fish like coelacanths were the so-called “fish that first crawled onto land.”
Coelacanths, Latimeria chalumnae and Latimeria menadoensis, are often called living fossils because of their resemblance to specimens dating back 300 million years. But the fish’s DNA isn’t a relic stuck in the past. It is still evolving, just more slowly than the DNA of most other animals, an international group of researchers reports April 18 in Nature.
By comparing the genome of the African coelacanth, L. chalumnae, to that of other vertebrates, the researchers pinpointed genetic changes that enabled animals to live on land. The transition involved losing many genes — including eight involved in ear development and 13 in fin development — and changing how others are used.
Movie Release This Week:
1) Iron Man 3:
|Iron Man 3|
When Tony Stark's world is torn apart by a formidable terrorist called the Mandarin, he starts an odyssey of rebuilding and retribution.
Director: Shane Black
Writers: Drew Pearce (screenplay), Shane Black (screenplay).
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce |
2) The Inhumans:
The Inhumans have always been one of Marvel’s most enduring oddities. A race of genetic freaks, they live secluded in their island kingdom of Attilan, preferring not to mix with the outside world. Even stranger, their genetic mutations are self-endowed; each Inhuman, as a coming-of-age ritual, endures exposure to the Terrigan Mists, a strange substance that imparts unearthly powers, some extraordinary, some monstrous. But now the kingdom of Attilan is under attack from without and within. Can the Royal Family, led by Black Bolt (who cannot speak for his voice carries the destructive power of an atom bomb) repel the foreign invaders who blast at their outer defense, as well as the internal threat of Black Bolt's brother, Maximus the Mad?
3) The Numbers Station:
|The Numbers Station|
After his latest mission goes disastrously wrong, veteran CIA black ops agent Emerson Kent (John Cusack) is given one last chance to prove he still has what it takes to do his job. His new assignment: guarding Katherine (Malin Akerman), a code operator at a top-secret remote CIA “Numbers Station” where encrypted messages are sent and received. When an elite team of heavily armed assailants lays siege to the station, Emerson and Katherine suddenly find themselves in a life-or-death struggle against an unknown enemy. With the station compromised and innocent lives at stake, they must stop the deadly plot before it’s too late.
A petty robbery spirals into a tense hostage situation after three gunmen hold up a diner that's a front for the mob.
5) Tai Chi Hero:
|Tai Chi Hero|
Lu Chan (Jayden Yuan) is still trying to find his place in Chen Village, the legendary town where everyone is a martial arts master…and Chen-style Tai Chi is forbidden to outsiders. But since he helped save the town from a frightening steam-powered machine, Yuniang (Angelababy), beautiful daughter of Grandmaster Chen (Tony Leung Ka-Fai), agrees to marry Lu Chan and bring him into the family. It’s only a formality, though – she is the teacher, and he is the student – and that suits Lu Chan just fine, as the mutant horn on his head gives him incredible kung-fu power, but leaves him dumber each time, and closer to death.
Chen Village still stands in the shadow of danger. A prodigal brother returns, Lu Chan’s presence invokes a curse on the town, and Yuniang’s scorned fiancée has an appetite for revenge, as well as some new partners in crime. The second in a trilogy and featuring action directed by the legendary Sammo Hung, Tai Chi Hero is a full-on, steampunk-infused, video game-influenced kung fu throwdown that will knock you out of your seat.
Political News This Week:
1) Bengal's Saradha chit fund scam: Kingpin Sudipta Sen sent to 14-day police custody :
|Bengal's Saradha chit fund scam: Kingpin Sudipta Sen sent to 14-day police custody|
Sudipta Sen, the kingpin in the the chit fund scam, was produced in Bidhannagar court in Salt Lake in the eastern fringes on the city, and remanded in 14-days police custody on Thursday.The Saradha Group promoter and the main accused in the Bengal chit fund scam, was brought to the city late on Wednesday night from Delhi. He is on a four-day transit remand from a Jammu and Kashmir court since he and his two associates were arrested from Sonmarg in J&K the previous Tuesday.Sen and his associates, Debjani Mukherjee and Arvind Chauhan, had been on the run for nearly a week even as the collapse of his finance company unfolded. While he was underground, he sent an 18-page letter to the CBI, listing 22 politicians, including two influential MPs of the ruling Trinamool Congress. The name of the wife of a senior UPA minister also figures in the list.
At the Kolkata court, Sen was met by hordes of protesters, some of them crying and shouting angry slogans. The Congress activists broke past the police lines security and tried to reach the millionaire whose chit fund bust has left thousands of small investors bankrupt. Cops had to resort to 'lathicharge' to disperse the crowds at Wellington Square, where the Congress-led victims assembled before walking to Writers' Buildings, the state headquarters.
Sen has been arrested under Section 420, 421, 467 and 406 among others of the CrPC. Officials said the police are likely to seek a fortnight's custody to track Sen's money trail. The Bishannagar police, which is investigating the case, have questioned several middlemen including Sen's cook Hemanta Pradhan, who was made a director in one of his companies.
In his letter to the CBI, Sen has accused two Trinamool MPs, Kunal Ghosh and Srinjoy Bose of exploiting him and squeezing funds which made his companies bleed. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee rejected the accusation at a press conference on Wednesday while announcing a corpus of Rs 500 crore for the victims of the fraud. On Monday, in another media conference, she had refused to bail out those who were conned by Sen, saying, "What is gone is gone." Part of the Rs 500-crore relief fund will be funded by new taxes on cigarettes.
Kunal Ghosh is a Rajya Sabha member of the Trinamool Congress
* Ghosh, a journalist, was earlier group CEO of Saradha’s media unit
* Ghosh drew a salary of Rs 16 lakh per month from Saradha
* Saradha media group owned about 10 publications and TV channels
* He was earlier the editor of Tutu Bose-owned ‘Sambad Pratidin’
* He left the Saradha group in 2011.
Srinjoy Bose is also a Rajya Sabha MP of the Trinamool Congress
* He has allegedly been named by chit fund CMD Sudipta Sen as one of the two TMC MPs who blackmailed him
* Bose is the son of shipping magnate Tutu Bose
* Bose owns a stake in one of the country’s top football club ‘Mohun Bagan’
* Bose was also the owner of ‘Sambad Pratidin’, the daily which had Kunal Ghosh as its editor.
2) Sebi asks Bengal to probe five more chit fund companies:
|Sebi asks Bengal to probe five more chit fund companies|
As the investigation into the Saradha chit fund scam threatens to reach the doorstep of the Trinamool Congress, the markets watchdog is learnt to have warned of a larger, more frightening scenario: similar Ponzi schemes run by at least five other companies in West Bengal, involving over Rs 4,000 crore of small investors’ money.In its latest communication sent to the state government, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) is learnt to have recommended an immediate probe and steps against these five firms.
“The companies are in danger, so are the investors,” SEBI is learnt to have said.“It is a pressure cooker bomb situation in Bengal now with scores of dubious financial institutions mushrooming and duping millions of investors with the lure of quick financial returns. One (Saradha) has gone bust, several other disasters are waiting to happen,” a top SEBI official told The Indian Express.Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has acknowledged the receipt of one letter from SEBI regarding the Saradha Group, but has so far been silent over the other companies which, it is feared, may have raised even bigger sums from depositors.
On SEBI’s list of suspect companies is the Rose Valley Group, which has interests in realty, hotels and resorts, travel, media and insurance. A team of SEBI officials were learnt to have visited the company’s offices to inspect their books last week, but were allegedly denied entry.The officials later complained officially that “government servants were obstructed to perform their duty”, sources at the Bidhannagar police commissionerate said.
Earlier, a team from the audit firm KPMG, who were commissioned by SEBI to conduct a “forensic audit” of Rose Valley’s accounts, too had allegedly been denied entry into the company’s premises. Panicky investors have been thronging the company’s offices across Bengal seeking refunds, leading to some violence over the past two days.
SEBI officials said they had held at least 12 meetings with officials from RBI and the Bengal finance department over the last two years, at which the chit funds were discussed. According to the minutes of these meetings, SEBI and RBI officials had repeatedly asked the state government to act against these companies.
Saradha Group CMD Sudipta Sen and his two associates Debjani Mukherjee and Arvind Singh Chauhan were on Wednesday taken to Kolkata after a court in Ganderbal, Jammu & Kashmir, allowed their four-day transit remand. The trio, on the run since April 10, had been picked up from a hotel in Sonamarg on Monday night.
In Bengal, police continued to search for properties belonging to the group, and interrogate company officials. Somnath Dutta, vice-president of Saradha Printing and Publishing Pvt Ltd, the company’s media wing which had several publications and TV stations, was questioned for several hours. Police sources said at least six sister concerns of the group were also under the scanner.
SEBI officials said that besides Saradha and Rose Valley, notices had been sent to the MPS Group, Sun Plant Group and Sumangal Industries, asking them to stop collecting chit fund deposits.
The regulator has started criminal prosecution proceedings against 58 companies which have allegedly raised money in an “unauthorized manner”.
Rose Valley published advertisements in some newspapers on Wednesday, promising to repay all depositors, and asking them to have “trust” in the company’s “asset based” operations. Asked for a comment earlier, the firm had said: “Rose Valley Real Estates & Constructions Ltd... (has not) collected any money from the public... since 03/01/2011, even though we are not coming under the SEBI Act. None of our group companies is a chit fund, nor it deals in finance business.”
P N Manna, chairman of MPS Group, said, “We have orders from several courts to continue with our business. We have provisional registration under SEBI.”
Meanwhile, it emerged on Wednesday that Saradha’s Sen has sent a letter to SEBI, denying “that it (the company) is running any ‘collective investment scheme’”. The letter says, “The noticee (Sen) has further submitted that the company data are stored in servers in Boston in USA and is under control of the staff members and brokers.”The Indian Express had on Wednesday reported details of Sen’s 18-page letter to the CBI, in which he alleged “blackmail” by influential people, including Trinamool Mps.
3) China's 'new front' on Indo-Nepal border:
|China's 'new front' on Indo-Nepal border|
The Chinese clamour over Arunachal Pradesh has raised many eyebrows in India. Even as the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Thailand on Saturday was being looked at as an effort to cool down the tension between the neighbouring countries, the Dragon nation has opened another anti-India front. This time in Nepal.
Silently but speedily China is spreading its wings in the erstwhile Hindu kingdom, mainly to unleash anti-India propaganda. Besides acquiring some major construction projects in Nepal, the Chinese are also making their presence felt by opening language centres in Nepali cities on the Indo-Nepal border. These centres are teaching Chinese language. But, what raises suspicions on Chinese intentions is the fact that these centres are open only for Nepali citizens.
The surge in Chinese activities in the neighbour country is a matter of concern for India which is already fighting terrorism being pushed into the country from Pakistan. It's a known fact that China often uses Nepal as a buffer state against India. After the Indo-China war of 1962, the Dragon country has made constant efforts to increase its influence in Nepal. Though it did not succeed much till Nepal was under the rule of monarchy, the fall of monarchy and growing Maoist grip over Nepal has given a fillip to Chinese plans.
A clear indicator of this is the construction of Sikta barrage in Agaiya village of Banke district (Nepal). Its construction was delayed for almost three decades owing to Indian protest. But, once Maoists held sway over the Nepali government, the construction was given a go-ahead in 2006. Moreover, the contract for the project was given to Chinese firm — Sinehydro. In fact, a team of 40 Chinese engineers is engaged in the construction of the Sikta barrage in Agaiya district of Nepal. The district touches the Indian district of Shravasti. The distance from Indian border to the barrage is barely 14 kilometres. The possibility of Chinese infiltration in important zones of war on Indian border areas due to the presence of Chinese engineers cannot be ruled out.
Also, after the completion of the barrage the flow of river Rapti towards India will be diverted towards Nepal which will create acute water shortage in Indian area. Efforts have also been started to divert the flow of rivers flowing towards Indian area from Parchu lake located in Chinese area adjoining the state which may lead to floods in the borders districts of India during monsoon.Not only this, if the and Sikta barrage ever breaks down due to technical reasons it will severely impact the security arrangements made on the India border. China, thus, seems to be working on these two projects under well-planned policy to tease India.Similarly, China has established the office of 'Maitri Sangh' in Nepal adjoining Indian border territory.Meanwhile, a 10-member team comprising five Chinese and five Tibetan national recently visited Nepalganj headquarters of Banke district (Nepal). The team toured the Indo-Nepal border and secretly clicked photographs of the Rupaidiha main gate located on Indo-Nepal border.The Indian intelligence agencies, however, learnt about this when the team had already left for Kathmandu.Assistant army Nayak Devendra of Shashtra Seema Bal (SSB), when contacted, told TOI that he will report the incident to his senior officers.
4) CBI reply on coal block shows government meddling, says BJP:
|CBI reply on coal block shows government meddling, says BJP|
he CBI's revelation that it had shared the coal scam report with the law minister and an official of the PMO proved the government's interference with the agency's work, the BJP asserted Friday and called on the prime minister to explain."Government has really been caught with its pants down," said Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley."The full truth has still to come out. What are the changes that were made in the report? What was the level of interference of law ministry or Prime Minister's Office?" Jaitley said while talking to news channel NDTV.
The BJP leader said the CBI affidavit filed with the apex court concealed more than it revealed, and the situation "has gone beyond" Law Minister Ashwani Kumar.
"This has gone well beyond the law minister now. The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) must explain in what context was a PMO official shown the draft of the coal report. The affidavit has smashed claims of no interference by government. The buck stops with the Prime Minister's Office," he said."The affidavit gives some information and conceals the rest. Were the PMO officials there in the law minister's meeting or were they separately shown the report? Was there any communication between PMO and CBI on this status report?"He said the coal scam draft report must be made public so that it can be compared with final report.
"All this must come out because it goes to the root of the matter. It gives a view in the political interference in the CBI," Jaitley said.
The BJP has been demanding Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's resignation over the coal scam report, and the 2G spectrum allocation scam.This demand grew louder after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) told the Supreme Court that it shared its March 8 status report on investigations into coal blocks allocation with the law minister."It is a very serious issue. The CBI should now tell us and the country what the original affidavit was and what changes were made by the law ministry or PMO," demanded BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad.Prasad alleged that the government's interference in the federal investigation agency's work was well known."The law minister misused his office to influence the CBI investigation to save the prime minister. BJP has already demanded resignation of the prime minister and the law minister, and we will continue to do so," he said.Senior party leader Jaswant Singh echoed his party's demand for prime minister's resignation.
"I haven't read the report but one thing is clear that the Prime Minister's Office was involved in it. Whatever applies to the law minister applies to the PM as well. The government should resign. If the prime minister goes, the government goes," Jaswant Singh said.The affidavit submitted before the Supreme Court by the CBI Friday revealed that "besides the political executive, it (March 8 status report) was also shared with one joint secretary-level officer each of the Prime Minister's Office, and ministry of coal, as desired by them".However, CBI director Ranjit Sinha also told the court that the agency's status report of April 26 has been personally vetted by him, and not shared with anyone, including the political executive.
5) Biju Janata Dal corners UPA Govt. for step-motherly attitude towards Odisha:
|Biju Janata Dal corners UPA Govt. for step-motherly attitude towards Odisha|
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday said the Biju Janata Dal has called for a peaceful 'hartal' through out the state against the Centre's continuous negligence."The Biju Janata Dal has called for a peaceful hartal throughout our state because of the continuous negligence of the Central Government to Odisha's demands," he told the media in Bhubaneswar.Power, water supply, health service, examinations in schools and colleges have been kept out of the purview of the 'hartal'The supporters and activists of the Biju Janata Dal took out a protest here. They demonstrated on the roads, stopped vehicles and disrupted the train services.The irate protestors also lashed out at the Centre for not paying heed to the demands made by the Odisha Government, and raised slogans against UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the Manmohan Singh-led Central Government.All the shops in the city were closed.Odisha MLA Ashok Chandra Panda lashed out at
the ruling Congress party and warned the UPA Government to fulfill the demands of people."Our legitimate demand, legitimate right have been neglected by the Congress Government at Centre. So, this strike is protest by people of Odisha and by the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), which has stood for the cause of Odisha and for the poor people of Odisha. So, we are protesting," said Panda."And this is a warning signal to the UPA Government that you must make the commitment to people of Odisha and acknowledge the legitimate demand of Odisha for according a special status to the state," he added.Meanwhile, the Biju Janata Dal activists also raised this issue in the national capital. The activists staged a protest outside the Parliament here and demanded the Centre to give a special category status to Odisha.
BJD lawmaker Bhartruhari Mahtab said that the amounted allotted by Central Government Odisha was insufficient."We have demanded to declare Odisha as a special category state. The amount that has been allotted very recently declared is a pittance. They have only allotted 250 crore rupees per annum for another four years, which is not sufficient and that also goes against the interest of development of Odisha," he said.
Sports News This Week:
1) 'Flying Sikh' Milkha Singh to get lifetime achievement award:
|Flying Sikh' Milkha Singh to get lifetime achievement award|
Legendary Indian athlete Milkha Singh, also known as The Flying Sikh, will be awarded the Bluechip CSJC lifetime achievement award here Saturday.
The 77-year-old former sprinter had missed a 400 meter bronze by a whisker at the 1960 Rome Olympics. He won golds at the 1958 Cardiff Commonwealth Games, 1958 Tokyo Asian Games and the 1962 Jakarta Asian Games."Milkha will be here to personally take the award," Calcutta Sports Journalists' Club secretary Purnendu Chakraborty said here.Former Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly and ex Indian football skipper Bhaichung Bhutia will be given special awards at the function to be held at the historic Town Hall.
|Flying Sikh' Milkha Singh|
The best sportsmen of the state from various disciplines in 2012-13 will be awarded at the programme.Among the awardees are: Ranti Martins (football), Laxmi Ratan Shukla (cricket) , Guru Pratap Singh (hockey), Kritika Sinha Roy (table tennis), Sanu Debnath (swimming) , Rakshena Khatun (volleyball), Aritapa Dasgupta (badminton), Amrita Mukherjee (tennis) , Mary Ann Gomes (chess) , Mampi Das (junior sports person of the year, shooter) and Rahim Nabi (best senior sports person in the country).
2) Spain coach Del Bosque to step down after 2014 World Cup:
|Spain coach Del Bosque to step down after 2014 World Cup|
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque confirmed Friday that his incredibly successful reign as leader of his country's national side will conclude at the end of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.Former Real Madrid coach, Del Bosque is one of the most successful coaches in history, leading Spain to their first ever World Cup in 2010 and then masterminding the defence of the European Championship in 2012, making Spain the first country to ever win a European Championship (2008), then win the World Cup and then defend its European crown.His 70 games in charge after replacing Luis Aragones, have yielded 58 victories, while Spain's passing game is admired all over the world, reports Xinhua.However, all good things must come to an end and the 62-year-old announced that he will step down after the next World Cup in Brazil."My last responsibility as Spain coach will be the World Cup in Brazil," he confirmed, although he confessed that could not be the end of his role in football.
"Maybe afterwards I will continue with a link to the Spanish Federation, carrying out a role as a representative," he said.Del Bosque was asked about the 4-0 and 4-1 defeats suffered by FC Barcelona and Real Madrid in their Champions League semifinals against Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, but denied they meant an end to Spanish hegemony and a rise of German power.
"They added their traditional power to possession football and that it what we saw in Bayern and Borussia," said Del Bosque, who admitted that the Germany would be "a good candidate to win the next World Cup".Del Bosque also discussed Brazil, who will be the 2014 hosts, as well as the hosts of the 2013 Confederations Cup, which Spain will play as European Champions. He said it was hard to draw conclusions about Brazil' s potential given that they had only played friendly matches over the last year rather than qualification games.Del Bosque, who will name the Spain squad for the Confederations Cup May 27, said he had long admired the Brazilian style of football, adding that as hosts they would be the favourites for the World Cup crown.
3) IPL 2013: Dhoni's unbeaten half century takes Chennai past Hyderabad by 5 wickets:
|IPL 2013: Dhoni's unbeaten half century takes Chennai past Hyderabad by 5 wickets:|
Mahendra Singh Dhoni produced yet another of his trademark innings, buidling on contributions from Michael Hussey and the bowlers to ensure that Chennai Super Kings got past Sunrisers Hyderabad in a game of cat-and-mouse in the Pepsi Indian Premier League at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Thursday (April 25).
Chasing 160 for victory, Chennai required 28 runs in the last two overs, Dhoni, who remained unbeaten on 67 off 37 balls, hit Dale Steyn for 13 runs in the penultimate over. Though Steyn removed Ravindra Jadeja, Dhoni had enough gas in the tank to take 15 off the final over sent down by an erratic Ashish Reddy to seal the deal for Chennai, who won by five wickets with two deliveries to spare.
It meant Shikhar Dhawan's unbeaten 45-ball 63 on his comeback after recovering from a fractured finger went in vain despite Hyderabad posting a competitive 159 for 6. (Related read: Dhoni wants more yorkers from his bowlers)
Chennai got off to a flying start in their chase as Hussey and Murali Vijay put on 65 in 45 balls. Hussey continued his good form as he cut Steyn with panache and stepped out to hit Darren Sammy for six over extra-cover. At the other end, Vijay hit a few sweetly timed shots as he desperately tried to regain form. (Stats from the match)
The pair took sharp singles, manoeuvred the ball and dominated to such an extent that Cameron White, the Hyderabad captain, introduced five bowling options within the Power Play.