|Animated Collage NewsWeek 44|
|Collage of NewsWeek (44) Headline Pictures|
Science News This Week:
1) Artificial Forest for Solar Water-Splitting: First Fully Integrated Artificial Photosynthesis Nanosystem:
|Artificial Forest for Solar Water-Splitting: First Fully Integrated Artificial Photosynthesis Nanosystem|
In the wake of the sobering news that atmospheric carbon dioxide is now at its highest level in at least three million years, an important advance in the race to develop carbon-neutral renewable energy sources has been achieved. Scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have reported the first fully integrated nanosystem for artificial photosynthesis. While "artificial leaf" is the popular term for such a system, the key to this success was an "artificial forest."
"Similar to the chloroplasts in green plants that carry out photosynthesis, our artificial photosynthetic system is composed of two semiconductor light absorbers, an interfacial layer for charge transport, and spatially separated co-catalysts," says Peidong Yang, a chemist with Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division, who led this research. "To facilitate solar water- splitting in our system, we synthesized tree-like nanowire heterostructures, consisting of silicon trunks and titanium oxide branches. Visually, arrays of these nanostructures very much resemble an artificial forest."Yang, who also holds appointments with the University of California Berkeley's Chemistry Department and Department of Materials Science and Engineering, is the corresponding author of a paper describing this research in the journal NANO Letters. The paper is titled "A Fully Integrated Nanosystem of Semiconductor Nanowires for Direct Solar Water Splitting." Co-authors are Chong Liu, Jinyao Tang, Hao Ming Chen and Bin Liu.Solar technologies are the ideal solutions for carbon-neutral renewable energy -- there's enough energy in one hour's worth of global sunlight to meet all human needs for a year. Artificial photosynthesis, in which solar energy is directly converted into chemical fuels, is regarded as one of the most promising of solar technologies. A major challenge for artificial photosynthesis is to produce hydrogen cheaply enough to compete with fossil fuels. Meeting this challenge requires an integrated system that can efficiently absorb sunlight and produce charge-carriers to drive separate water reduction and oxidation half-reactions.
"In natural photosynthesis the energy of absorbed sunlight produces energized charge-carriers that execute chemical reactions in separate regions of the chloroplast," Yang says. "We've integrated our nanowire nanoscale heterostructure into a functional system that mimics the integration in chloroplasts and provides a conceptual blueprint for better solar-to-fuel conversion efficiencies in the future."When sunlight is absorbed by pigment molecules in a chloroplast, an energized electron is generated that moves from molecule to molecule through a transport chain until ultimately it drives the conversion of carbon dioxide into carbohydrate sugars. This electron transport chain is called a "Z-scheme" because the pattern of movement resembles the letter Z on its side. Yang and his colleagues also use a Z-scheme in their system only they deploy two Earth abundant and stable semiconductors -- silicon and titanium oxide -- loaded with co-catalysts and with an ohmic contact inserted between them. Silicon was used for the hydrogen-generating photocathode and titanium oxide for the oxygen-generating photoanode. The tree-like architecture was used to maximize the system's performance. Like trees in a real forest, the dense arrays of artificial nanowire trees suppress sunlight reflection and provide more surface area for fuel producing reactions."Upon illumination photo-excited electron−hole pairs are generated in silicon and titanium oxide, which absorb different regions of the solar spectrum," Yang says. "The photo-generated electrons in the silicon nanowires migrate to the surface and reduce protons to generate hydrogen while the photo-generated holes in the titanium oxide nanowires oxidize water to evolve oxygen molecules. The majority charge carriers from both semiconductors recombine at the ohmic contact, completing the relay of the Z-scheme, similar to that of natural photosynthesis."
Under simulated sunlight, this integrated nanowire-based artificial photosynthesis system achieved a 0.12-percent solar-to-fuel conversion efficiency. Although comparable to some natural photosynthetic conversion efficiencies, this rate will have to be substantially improved for commercial use. However, the modular design of this system allows for newly discovered individual components to be readily incorporated to improve its performance. For example, Yang notes that the photocurrent output from the system's silicon cathodes and titanium oxide anodes do not match, and that the lower photocurrent output from the anodes is limiting the system's overall performance."We have some good ideas to develop stable photoanodes with better performance than titanium oxide," Yang says. "We're confident that we will be able to replace titanium oxide anodes in the near future and push the energy conversion efficiency up into single digit percentages."
2) News in Brief: Micro-sculptures made easy:
|News in Brief: Micro-sculptures made easy|
The art of growing tiny, intricate floral structures has become a science. Researchers can now grow fields of complex little mineral structures on demand. The process could lead to chemical tricks that halt the growth and movement of bacteria.
When minerals emerge from solution as dazzling crystals, their shapes are often as much about luck as planning. Another way to make small structures is to etch them from large pieces of material, a process that’s laborious and expensive. Now a team from Harvard University has shown how to easily orchestrate the growth of specific structures just by changing the local environment of minerals in solution.
“You tell me what you want and I will dial in your structure,” says materials scientist Joanna Aizenberg.
The researchers start by putting a glass plate in a beaker containing water, a salt (barium chloride) and liquid glass (sodium metasilicate). These minerals precipitate onto the plate in shapes dictated by variables such as temperature and carbon dioxide concentration. To build a miniature tulip, for example, the researchers add some table salt to the solution, and the minerals precipitate as a dome shape, about 25 micrometers across at the base. This spurs new chemistry that prompts slender stems to emerge. When Aizenberg’s team lets a little carbon dioxide diffuse into the solution, the stems bloom into dainty cups, the team reports in the May 17 Science.
3) Cloning produces human embryonic stem cells:
|Cloning produces human embryonic stem cells|
For the first time, scientists have created human embryonic stem cells by transferring the nucleus of a mature cell into an egg. The cloning technique could nudge the dream of personalized medicine closer to reality, researchers suggest May 15 in Cell.“It’s a huge, landmark achievement,” says stem cell biologist George Daley at Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard University. Creating embryonic stem cells by nuclear transfer in humans, he says, is “the next major technological advance since Dolly.”The famous sheep Dolly was the first mammal cloned by the nuclear transfer technique, injecting the nucleus of a cell from one adult sheep into the egg of another. Since the animal’s birth in 1996, scientists around the world have tried to duplicate the technique in human cells.
Unlike adult cells, which have already followed a path to become, say, heart cells, neurons or skin cells, embryonic stem cells are uniquely poised to become any cell in the body. And if scientists could make these stem cells from a patient’s own tissues, once-untreatable conditions could perhaps be cured by replacing damaged cells with healthy ones.But creating embryonic stem cells in humans has proven tricky, says Kathrin Plath, a stem cell biologist at the University of California, Los Angeles. No one knew why the technique worked in other mammals but not humans. Researchers had to figure out the best way to ease out an egg’s DNA, slip in a new nucleus and then cue the egg to divide and grow. In 2011, scientists came close, but the egg stalled out after three divisions, producing just eight cells.In 2007, a new way to make stem cells dazzled scientists in the field (SN: 11/24/07, p. 323). By dosing human cells with a small cocktail of molecules, researchers pushed a reset button that turned adult cells back into embryonic-like ones called induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells.
“For the last six or seven years, virtually all of us have ended our nuclear transfer efforts and switched over to iPS cells,” Daley says.But a team led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov of the Oregon National Primate Research Center in Beaverton kept plugging away at nuclear transfer, first using rhesus macaques, and then with human cells.One key change was adding caffeine to the eggs before DNA transfer, says stem cell biologist James Byrne of UCLA, who was not involved in the new work. Caffeine acts like a set of chemical reins, holding back the egg’s development until researchers inject a new nucleus. The new protocol also features other tweaks such as examining the eggs under polarized instead of ultraviolet light, which can damage the egg.Using the new method, researchers made embryonic stem cells from an egg and the nucleus of a young boy’s skin cell. The new cells can grow and divide to form a mass of embryonic stem cells just like those derived from fertilized embryos, Mitalipov said in a press briefing May 14.And when researchers ground the cells up and compared the genetic bits to those in embryonic stem cells, they didn’t see much of a difference. Virtually all of the new cells’ genes were reset to their embryonic states.
What’s more, Byrne says, the approach boasts “dramatically improved efficiency.” Instead of burning through thousands of eggs to make a single embryonic stem cell line, Mitalipov’s group could use just two eggs.The new cells may have advantages over iPS cells in treating some genetic flaws that lurk in mitochondria, little cellular power plants that carry their own DNA. By putting the nucleus of a patient’s skin cell into a fresh egg with healthy mitochondria, scientists could potentially make a customized therapy that erases the defects, Mitalipov said.The work “is certainly impressive,” says developmental biologist John Gurdon, who shared the 2012 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for pioneering the nuclear transfer technique to clone a frog.Next, Gurdon says, researchers ought to compare the new embryonic stem cells with iPS cells. A side-by-side look might provide clues to how resetting adult cells actually works. If they can figure out why Mitalipov’s nuclear transfer method is so successful, researchers might be able to improve the technique to make iPS cells and avoid having to retrieve eggs from volunteers. Embryonic stem cells made using this method have the potential to treat spinal cord injuries and diseases such as diabetes or Parkinson’s, says Dietrich Egli, a stem cell biologist at the New York Stem Cell Foundation. “I’m very confident that such cells will be used for therapies in humans in the future.”Researchers used a modified technique to create human embryonic stem cells using adult cell nuclei and egg cells. The scientists were then able to turn the immature cells into a variety of tissue types, like these contracting heart cells.
4) Fossils point to ancient ape-monkey split:
|Fossils point to ancient ape-monkey split|
The oldest known fossils of an ape and a monkey have been uncovered, providing an intriguing glimpse of a crucial time in primate evolution.
The discoveries suggest that by 25 million years ago, two major groups of primates were distinct: one that today includes apes and humans and another that encompasses Old World monkeys such as baboons and macaques. Previous studies using living primates’ DNA suggested that ancient apes and Old World monkeys parted from a common ancestor between 25 million and 30 million years ago.The new ape and monkey fossils, from Tanzania’s Rukwa Rift Basin, suggest that the evolutionary split between these primate lines must have occurred close to 30 million years ago, or perhaps even earlier, anthropologist Nancy Stevens of Ohio University in Athens and her colleagues conclude in the May 15 Nature.
Fossil finds since the 1800s have revealed that dozens of ape species inhabited Africa, Asia and Europe between 22 million and 5.5 million years ago. Fewer fossils of Old World monkeys have been found, but a handful of monkey species are known to have inhabited Africa around 20 million years ago.Using new fossils and previously recovered remains of related creatures.
“The period from 25 million to 30 million years ago is the least sampled interval in primate evolutionary history, with only three fossil primates known before our discoveries and five known now,” Stevens says.Her team assigns a tooth-bearing lower right jaw to a new ape genus and species, Rukwapithecus fleaglei. The scientists classify a second find, a jaw fragment containing a tooth, as a new monkey genus and species, Nsungwepithecus gunnelli.
These animals lived 25.2 million years ago, based on age estimates of volcanic ash layers that sandwiched the Tanzanian fossils.Rukwapithecus may not be a new ape genus, though. The newly discovered jaw appears to belong to Rangwapithecus, an ape genus previously known from East African fossils dating to around 17 million years ago, says anthropologist K. Christopher Beard of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh.Even so, Beard says, the new report “makes a strong case that Old World monkeys and apes had already diverged 25 million years ago.”But New York University anthropologist Terry Harrison isn’t so sure. The new Rukwapithecus jaw joins a cluster of fossils, including those categorized as Rangwapithecus, from ancient African primates that probably did not evolve into apes despite having some apelike jaw and tooth traits, Harrison says.The tooth-and-jaw piece that Stevens’ group attributes to a monkey may instead come from an ancient form of pig or peccary, Harrison adds. In his view, the researchers need more fossils from the animal to tell whether it’s a primate.
5) Accelerated Aging in Children: Promising Treatment for Progeria Within Reach:
|Accelerated Aging in Children: Promising Treatment for Progeria Within Reach|
Pharmaceuticals that inhibit a specific enzyme may be useful in treating progeria, or accelerated aging in children. As reported in the journal Science, a new study performed at the Sahlgrenska Academy indicates that the development of progeria in mice was inhibited upon reducing the production of this enzyme.
"This study is a breakthrough for our research group after years of work. When we reduce the production of the enzyme in mice, the development of all the clinical symptoms of progeria is reduced or blocked. We have also studied cultured cells from children with progeria, and can see that when the enzyme is inhibited, the growth of the cells increases by the same mechanism as in mouse cells," says Martin Bergö, Professor at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg and research director at the Sahlgrenska Cancer Center.Progeria is a rare genetic childhood disorder characterized by the appearance of accelerated aging. The classical form of progeria, called Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS), is caused by a spontaneous mutation, which means that it is not inherited from the parents.Children with HGPS usually die in their teenage years from myocardial infarction and stroke.The progeria mutation occurs in the protein prelamin A and causes it to accumulate in an inappropriate form in the membrane surrounding the nucleus. The target enzyme, called ICMT, attaches a small chemical group to one end of prelamin A. Blocking ICMT, therefore, prevents the attachment of the chemical group to prelamin A and significantly reduced the ability of the mutant protein to induce progeria.
"We are collaborating with a group in Singapore that has developed candidate ICMT inhibitor drugs and we will now test them on mice with progeria. Because the drugs have not yet been tested in humans, it will be a few years before we know whether these drugs will be appropriate for the treatment of progeria," Martin Bergö explains.Although there are only a few hundred children in the world with progeria, the disease, children, and research have attracted a great deal of attention.
"The reason is obvious: the resemblance between progeria patients and normally-aged individuals is striking and it is tempting to speculate that progeria is a window into our normal aging process. The children develop osteoporosis, myocardial infarction, stroke, and muscle weakness. They display poor growth and lose their hair, but interestingly, they do not develop dementia or cancer," says Martin Bergö, who is also studying the impact of inhibiting ICMT on the normal aging process in mice.
Movies Release This Week:
1) Star Trek Into Darkness:
|Star Trek Into Darkness|
In Summer 2013, director J.J. Abrams will deliver an explosive action thriller that takes Star Trek Into Darkness.
In the wake of a shocking act of terror from within their own organization, the crew of The Enterprise is called back home to Earth. In defiance of regulations and with a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads his crew on a manhunt to capture an unstoppable force of destruction and bring those responsible to justice.
As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.
When ex-CIA agent Ben Logan (Eckhart) discovers that he and his daughter have been marked for termination as part of a wide-reaching international conspiracy, a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse ensues as Logan tries to outsmart his hunters and uncover the truth.
3) Black Rock:
Three young women - Sarah (Kate Bosworth), Abby (Katie Aselton) and Lou (Lake Bell) - get together for a private campout at one of the iconic settings of their childhood, an empty island off the coast of Maine, to renew their bond of sisterhood. They quickly learn, though, that the island is anything but empty, when they encounter three recently-returned servicemen, who have come to the island to hunt. A misunderstanding quickly turns to tragedy, and the three women soon find themselves the targets of the hunt. What started as a simple getaway to recall old times is now a race for survival as three ordinary woman must find extraordinary strength in order to beat the odds against violence and the elements.
After suffering an inexplicable seizure which leaves her paralyzed on her right side, 19-year-old Augustine (27 year-old singer-turned-actress Soko in a break out performance), is shipped off to Paris' all female psychiatric hospital Pitié-Salpêtriere which specializes in detecting the then-fashionable ailment of 'hysteria'. Augustine captures the attention of Dr. Charcot (Vincent Lindon, Mademoiselle Chambon, Welcome) after a seizure which appears to give her intense physical pleasure. Intrigued, he begins using her as his principal subject hypnotizing her in front of fellow doctors - as she displays her unusual fits in lecture halls - eventually blurring the lines between doctor and patient.
5) Stories We Tell:
|Stories We Tell|
In this inspired new film, Oscar®-nominated writer/director Sarah Polley discovers that the truth depends on who’s telling it. Polley is both filmmaker and detective as she investigates the secrets kept by a family of storytellers. She playfully interviews and interrogates a cast of characters of varying reliability, eliciting refreshingly candid, yet mostly contradictory, answers to the same questions. As each relates their version of the family mythology, present-day recollections shift into nostalgia-tinged glimpses of their mother, who departed too soon, leaving a trail of unanswered questions. Polley unravels the paradoxes to reveal the essence of family: always complicated, warmly messy and fiercely loving. "Stories We Tell" explores the elusive nature of truth and memory, but at its core is a deeply personal film about how our narratives shape and define us as individuals and families, all interconnecting to paint a profound, funny and poignant picture of the larger human story.
Political News This Week:
1) Fund scams target Indians beyond the reach of banks:
|Fund scams target Indians beyond the reach of banks|
Dalia Ghosh, a 28-year-old nurse in Kolkata, invested her savings in an unlicensed fund run by media conglomerate Saradha Group last year, hoping to start her own clothes business.But Saradha went bust in April, wiping out as much as $3.7 billion in deposits from mostly low-income Indians, miring West Bengal's government in scandal, and illustrating the risks faced by the millions who live outside the banking system.
Saradha, which until April had at least two high-profile members of parliament on its payroll, lost money in bad investments, and on paying steep commissions to its agents, government officials said."We trusted them like fools because the return they assured was four times more than a nationalised bank," said Ghosh, who says she lost 100,000 rupees in the collapse of Saradha, believing it to be a government-approved fund.
Until it fell apart, Saradha was a powerful outfit in parts of India with holdings in real estate and media, including several newspapers and TV channels seen by many as the voice of Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of West Bengal.That media business has dissolved, and Banerjee is at war with what remains of Saradha.
Saradha ran one of the thousands of unlicensed financial schemes in India, many of which thrive below the regulatory radar with the protection of local politicians, economists say.Lack of education and the absence of bank branches across huge swathes of the country puts more than half of India's population outside the formal banking sector.
Indian bank penetration: http://link.reuters.com/gem87t
Duvvuri Subbarao, head of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), worries about the number of unregulated investment and savings schemes, but says the central bank alone cannot stamp them out."Curbing all this will need investigation, will need enforcement of law, but more importantly ... we must provide access to the formal financial system for a large segment of the population which do not have access now," he said.The distinction between licensed and unlicensed financial services firms is lost on millions of Indians, many of whom have never stepped inside a bank branch."The basic problem is a lot of these para-banking models are based on Ponzi schemes," said Abheek Barua, chief economist at HDFC Bank Ltd , referring to a type of pyramid selling where returns are taken from money coming in from new joiners.
"Unless we have very aggressive bank penetration, these para-banking models will always have allure."India has 10.6 bank branches for every 100,000 adults, compared with about 35 in the United States, according to the World Bank, while only 12 percent of adults said they had saved money at a formal financial institution in the past year.Assets at non-bank finance companies in India have increased 20 percent annually for the past five years - faster than at banks - and stand at over $670 billion, a November report by the Switzerland-based Financial Stability Board said.Saradha took its slice of this cash by operating under the guise of a credit association, according to India's market regulator the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). Such credit associations are known locally as a chit fund, legal in India if they are state-registered.Conventionally, members of a chit fund pool money which is deposited in a regulated bank, and each month the winner of a big payout is selected at random.Instead, Saradha used savers' money to buy into property and broadcasting businesses, government officials said.
SEBI began an investigation into the group in April 2010 after a government body brought Saradha's unregistered "collective investment scheme" to its attention.
Saradha denied it was running a fund, but in April this year SEBI ordered it to wind up the scheme as it was unlicensed, and refund investors' money within three months.Saradha's chief Sudipta Sen is now under arrest and West Bengal police are trying to track down the missing money. Before police picked him up Sen wrote a letter - later seen by Reuters - saying he had been "blackmailed" by senior leaders of Banerjee's Trinamool Congress party into paying bribes to them.
Banerjee denies those allegations. Sen and his aide Debjani Mukherjee, a director of Saradha, could not be contacted as they are in police custody.Banerjee, whose party pulled out of the national ruling coalition last year, promised to raise money to refund investors by increasing the state tax on cigarettes. "Smoke a little more to help the investors," she told local newspapers, though taxes have not changed.Ghosh, who had been saving 6,000 rupees a month with Saradha, says she has no hope of getting her money back. "Some say I paid the price for my greed and for trusting a chit fund company," she said.She may be part of a growing list of victims. Real estate company Rose Valley, endorsed by Bollywood icon Shah Rukh Khan, is being probed by SEBI and government agencies on suspicion of selling without having filed an application to do so.Rose Valley says its operations are legal, but some in the industry worry that ineffective regulation raises the risk of losses."Banks are not present in all the areas. So, you give 15-18 percent interest rate and poor people will get attracted," said T.S Sivaramakrishnan, General Secretary of the All India Association of Chit Funds."If you ask me whether chit funds are foolproof, honestly I would say no. There are laws but who is there to implement them?"
2) New Hope from Pakistan’s Vote:
|New Hope from Pakistan’s Vote|
The victor in the recent Pakistani elections, Nawaz Sharif, has indicated he places high priority on improving relations between Pakistan and India.
Sharif made some significant strides in promoting detente between the two South Asia powers during a previous stint as prime minister, and he wants to recoup ground that was later lost after the terrorist attack in Mumbai in 2008 by a Pakistani-based group. Wasting no time, Sharif has invited Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Pakistan to attend Sharif’s swearing-in.Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the apparent winner of Pakistan’s parliamentary elections on May 11, 2013. He is expected to serve as the nation’s next prime minister.This is all to the good, and has received recognition as such in India (although with caution in the case of the right-wing nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party). Americans, however, need to be prepared for how a successful Sharif may bring about some changes in Pakistani-U.S. relations that may not seem so good in Washington.This is suggested by an editorial earlier this week in a major Indian daily, the Hindustan Times. The editorial said that part of what Indians ought to hope for from a new administration in Islamabad is “a government that will understand that cutting dependence on the United States and China is only possible if Pakistan has a modus vivendi with India.”
Note the implication that understandably can raise American eyebrows: a looser Pakistani relationship with the United States may accompany a less hostile Pakistani relationship with India.Sharif is indeed likely to do a good number of things that will not sit well in Washington. Some of these things he would be doing anyway, but some of them will be related to his attempted rapprochement with India.The political realities he faces include, besides the Islamist militants who have become a bigger part of Pakistani affairs in recent years, a Pakistani military that ended his last prime ministry with a coup and whose main reason for existence is to defend the country against arch-adversary India.
The more political risks Sharif takes in improving relations with that adversary, the more he will have to bolster his nationalist credentials elsewhere, including on matters involving relations with the United States.There will be a tendency in Washington to judge Sharif’s performance piecemeal, involving whatever is the latest concern about security in northwest Pakistan or something else. It would be better to take a more strategic view with the big lines of conflict in South Asia in mind.
Indian-Pakistani rapprochement is still worthwhile and very much in U.S. interests, even if it is accompanied by greater nationalist testiness in U.S.-Pakistani relations. It is worthwhile partly because stability in the relationship between the region’s two nuclear-armed powers is important in its own right. It also is worthwhile because improvement in that relationship will make it easier for Washington to deal with some other regional issues important to it.The most prominent of those issues involves Afghanistan. The background to just about every Pakistani policy and action about Afghanistan that is unhelpful, including ones involving the continued Pakistani relations with the Afghan Taliban, is Pakistani concern about India.To Pakistan, Afghanistan is its strategic depth in the standoff with India, and it gets apoplectic over any inroads that India itself makes in Afghanistan. The more that the Indian-Pakistani relationship improves, the less intense will be the apoplexy and the less troublesome a player Pakistani is likely to be on issues involving Afghanistan.
Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts. He is now a visiting professor at Georgetown University for security studies. (This article first appeared as a blog post at The National Interest’s Web site.
3) BJP demands ban on T-20 league:
|BJP demands ban on T-20 league|
Terming it the Indian Immoral League, Bhartiya Janata Party has demanded a ban on the T-20 League and a thorough investigation into its alleged links to anti-social elements as the fixing, the party said, could not have taken place without the patronage of the organisers.
Party spokesperson Madhav Bhandari claimed in a press conference on Thursday that the arrest of three bookies a couple of days ago, the murder of a teenager by the people involved in betting and the recent arrest of cricket players related to the match fixing should be seen from a larger perspective."It would be improper to believe that the betting was the handywork only of the underworld goons. The betting and match fixing are both co-related to each other and hence the investigation in this should be done thoroughly. Government should now think twice before allowing the organisation of the League," he said.
4) Mumbai underworld involved in spot-fixing, more arrests likely: Police:
|Mumbai underworld involved in spot-fixing, more arrests likely: Police|
Pakistani links and the involvement of the Mumbai underworld have surfaced in the investigations into spot-fixing in Indian Premier League (IPL) matches in which Indian fast bowler S. Sreesanth and two of his Rajasthan Royals teammates have been arrested, police said Thursday, adding more arrests are expected.
"We had information that Mumbai underworld is indulging in match-fixing or spot-fixing and have contacted a number of bookies and some players," Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar said, giving details of the arrests of three players and 11 bookies in Mumbai late Wednesday night. All 14 have been remanded to five days police custody."There are overseas connections and there is evidence to prove that the underworld is involved. But there is no concrete evidence of any (gang) members of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim (being involved) so far. But, it can't be ruled out," he said at a crowded press conference.
Asked who the individual is, he said: "We know the name but that could be the assumed name. That's why we are not sharing with the press. The number he was using was of Dubai but you can use Dubai's number sitting somewhere else."But, according to Mumbai police sources, the arrests were made on the basis of tracking phone calls, at least two dozen of which originated from Pakistan.A couple of bookies of the total seven arrested from Mumbai are allegedly linked to Dawood, who is said to be in Pakistan, sources said.
Dawood is believed to be a veteran in cricket betting and match fixing:
The Delhi Police commissioner said the suspects were kept under watch since April and it was found that match fixers and bookies from Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab and that some players participating in the IPL were conspiring in spot-fixing.He said these bookies used to spot the "vulnerable" players who could be easily contacted. But only three players came into their net.While Sreesanth and his Rajasthan Royals colleagues Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila, as also the 11 bookies have been charged with cheating and criminal conspiracy, Neeraj Kumar said there is a "distint possibility" the cricketers will also be booked under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA), which deals with combating organised crime and terrorism.
"The names of these three players came to light ... we waited for the situation when all three of them could be pinned down together. We are not ruling out more arrests. They are not players, including international players, but bookies," Neeraj Kumar added.The police commissioner said players and bookies had evolved code."There was an agreement between bookies and players that they would give away a predetermined minimum number of runs in that particular over," Neeraj Kumar told reporters.Detailing the modus operandi, he said: "Bookies also told them that they would have to give indications before start of an over about giving away runs. The indications included rotate your watch, put a towel in your trousers, take some time on looking around the field, take out a locket or chain from your shirt and lift vest/shirt."The first incident of spot-fixing, he said, was discovered in the May 5 match between Pune Warriors and Rajasthan Royals. This was followed by the May 9 match between Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals and the May 15 match between Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals.Armed with the video clippings of the given-away runs, the police chief also read out transcripts of the conversations between the players and the bookies.He said they have 100 hours of audio clippings as evidence.He said there was evidence that spot-fixing was happening in other teams as well.
5) Congress shielding PM in coalgate, alleges BJP:
|Congress shielding PM in coalgate, alleges BJP|
The BJP charged the Congress-led UPA government on Friday of shielding Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his alleged role in the coal allocation scam by forcing former Union Law Minister Ashwani Kumar to quit his post. "Everybody knows why Ashwani Kumar had resigned and made amendments in the CBI report. It was just to protect the Prime Minister, since he was looking after the coal portfolio at that time," former union minister and BJP national spokesman Shahnawaz Hussain told reporters.
The BJP has demanded the resignation of the Prime Minister on the issue and as part of it, will launch a 'jail bharo' campaign from May 27 to June 2 across the country to expose him. At the time of the scam, the coal department was headed by the Prime Minister and therefore, it was his moral responsibility to resign from his post. Shahnawaz alleged that the ruling UPA always blamed the BJP for stalling the Parliament, but it was not true, since the BJP was only pressing for the resignation of then Union Railway Minister Pavan Kumar Bansal and Union Law Minister Ashwani Kumar for their deeds. Had they resigned during the session, the house could have functioned smoothly, but the Congress never wanted to complete the Parliament session, he alleged.On the issue of demand of constituting a Joint Parliamentary Committee for probing the coal block allocation scam, the Congress first wasted an entire session and later formed it during the next session.
Reacting to Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh's remark about giving autonomy to the CBI, he said that these days nobody, not even the Congress party takes him seriously and therefore he started airing his views through social networking sites.
6) Amitabh Bachchan at The Great Gatsby Premiere at Cannes Film Festival:
|Amitabh Bachchan with Leonardo Decaprio at The Great Gatsby Premiere at Cannes Film Festival|
|Amitabh Bachchan, who has done a cameo in the film|
The 66 edition of the Cannes Film Festival 2013 opened with Baz Luhrmann’s 'The Great Gatsby'. Amitabh Bachchan, who has done a cameo in the film, is seen here along with his Hollywood heavyweight co-stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, and Carey Mulligan.
7) 1993 serial blasts case: Sanjay Dutt surrenders before TADA court:
|1993 serial blasts case: Sanjay Dutt surrenders before TADA court|
Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt today surrendered before the designated TADA court here to serve his three-and-a-half year sentence in the 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blast case.Accompanied by his wife Maanyata and filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, the actor arrived at the court sporting a red 'tilak' on his forehead.
As soon as Sanjay Dutt appeared before the court, formalities began for his surrender. The court commenced the process for the identification of Dutt, whose conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court recently.Sporting a white kurta and jeans, Dutt waved to the crowd before getting into his car outside Imperial Heights building at Pali Hill in suburban Bandra.As soon as Dutt's vehicle arrived near the court, it was surrounded by people, including press photographers.Bhatt first emerged out of the car and with folded hands requested the media personnel to move away so that Dutt was able to reach the court. After much persuasion, the way was cleared for Dutt to reach the court.Several fans of Dutt waited patiently outside the court for the actor to arrive. Police had maintained strong bandobast in the court premises as well as at the actor's residence in Bandra in the wake of threat to Dutt's life.While Sanjay Dutt had told TADA court earlier that he faced threat to his life from fundamental groups, Arthur Road Central Jail authorities received an anonymous letter few days back saying Dutt would be harmed if he was lodged there.The Supreme Court in its March 21 verdict awarded five years' imprisonment to the 53-year-old actor for illegal possession of arms. The apex court on May 14 refused to grant him more time to surrender.On May 10, the Supreme Court had dismissed Sanjay Dutt's plea seeking review of its judgement on his conviction and the five-year jail term.
Sports News This Week:
1) IPL spot-fixing: Sreesanth, 13 others sent to 5-day police custody:
|PL spot-fixing post|
|IPL spot-fixing: Sreesanth, 13 others sent to 5-day police custody|
Indian pacer S Sreesanth and 13 others, including two cricketers of the Rajasthan Royals franchise, were sent to police custody for five days by a Delhi court for being quizzed in connection with the IPL spot-fixing case.They were produced before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Lokesh Kumar Sharma at his residence adjacent to the Saket court complex yesterday.Sreesanth and his IPL teammates Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan, who were arrested in Mumbai, were brought to the court complex with their faces muffled, along with 11 bookies and middlemen of Mumbai and Delhi.
Media was barred from entering the magistrate's residence, which was under a thick security blanket.Briefing media here on Thursday, Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar said that the Special Cell had hundreds of hours of recordings of phone conversations between the players and bookies, 14 of whom have also been arrested.Kumar also gave a detailed account of the conversations that took place between bookies and the arrested Rajasthan Royals players-Sreesanth and spinners Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila.Kumar further revealed explosive details of the modus operandi followed by bookies and the cricketers, giving audio-visual proof of three IPL matches which were manipulated."In certain overs they (the players) were supposed to give away a certain amount of runs. The bookies gave players instructions that they have to indicate that they would give away these runs," Kumar said.
2) IPL 6 spot-fixing: Sreesanth confesses to the crime:
|IPL 6 spot-fixing: Sreesanth confesses to the crime|
The three tainted cricketers who were arrested on Thursday following allegations of spot-fixing were interrogated today by Delhi Police.According to latest reports in Indian media, the prominent player among the three - S Sreesanth - has just confessed to Delhi Police. Sources say Sreesanth has said that he has done a mistake, reports ToI.One of them – Ankeet Chavan – was the first to break down and accepted his role in spot-fixing.Earlier in the day, Sreesanth had alleged that he was framed because of his association with an alleged bookie named Jiju Janardhan. His lawyers had also insisted he was innocent.All 14 men arrested in the scam spent Thursday night in police custody.Meanwhile, police is investigating whether spot-fixing took place in matches involving Rajasthan Royals other than the three matches in which three of its players were allegedly involved.
3) David Beckham bows out on a high:
|David Beckham bows out on a high|
England's best known footballer David Beckham announced his retirement on Thursday after a career laden with trophies and glamour that had a worldwide impact that went way beyond soccer.The 38-year-old former England captain, who this month helped Paris St Germain to the French league title to add to titles won in England, Spain and the United States, will hang up his boots at the end of a successful season.
"I'm thankful to PSG for giving me the opportunity to continue but I feel now is the right time to finish my career, playing at the highest level," the midfielder, whose final match will be against FC Lorient on May 26, said in a statement.Beckham earned 115 caps for England, a record for an outfield player, and won the Champions League, six Premier League titles and two FA Cups with Manchester United.He also won league titles with Real Madrid in Spain, LA Galaxy in the United States and PSG in France, making a habit of moving on straight after achieving success.He joked that he realised it was time to call it a day "when (Lionel) Messi was running past me" when PSG played Barcelona in the Champions League before saying he had always known he wanted to retire at the top of his game.
"It's simple, you are leaving as a champion," he told Sky Sports in an interview conducted by his former Manchester United team mate Gary Neville.
"It's the right time, I believe it's the right time but I'll always feel I can do more, that's the problem."London-born Beckham started his career at Manchester United, the club he supported as a boy, making his first team appearance at the age of 17 in 1992.His trade-mark free kicks and pin-point crosses established him as a key player, while his good looks made him a pin-up for teenage girls and later his marriage to former Spice Girls band member Victoria Adams established him as an off-field celebrity.The stunning goal he scored from the halfway line against Wimbledon at the start of the 1996-97 season announced him as a special talent and he even had the film 'Bend It Like Beckham' named after him.While his commercial appeal, personal fortune and his friendships with Hollywood A listers grew, his main passion of soccer - and in particular England - held firm."To this day, one of my proudest achievements is captaining my country," Beckham said in his statement.
"I knew every time I wore the Three Lions shirt, I was not only following in a long line of great players, I was also representing every fan that cared passionately about their country. I'm honoured to represent England both on and off the pitch."
4) Delhi Police to widen probe: To question Rajasthan Royals owners, skipper Dravid:
|Shilpa Shetty Kundra and Raj Kundra, two of the owners of the Rajasthan Royals,|
Delhi Police has reportedly indicated that it could widen the probe of an ongoing case of spot fixing in the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) to include questioning of the owners of the Rajasthan Royals and the team's captain.Television reports said that Shilpa Shetty Kundra and Raj Kundra, two of the owners of the Rajasthan Royals, and skipper Rahul Dravid, could be called in for questioning on the spot fixing case involving former Test fast bowler S.Sreesanth, and two other team players -- Ankit Chavan and Ajit Chandila.
According to the report, POlice Commissioner Neeraj Kumar has given the green signal for widening the probe.A television channel is quoting sources, as saying that the May 3 match between Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders may also be probed for possible spot fixing.The decision to widen the probe comes after Kumar said that all of the accused are cooperating with Special Cell investigations.The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has called a meeting of its Working Committee on Sunday (May 19) in Chennai to discuss the issue, following which further action against the players could be announced.
5) Sick Sharapova withdraws from Italian Open:
|Sick Sharapova withdraws from Italian Open|
Maria Sharapova withdrew from the Italian Open before her quarter-final with Italy's Sara Errani on Friday because of "physical problems", organisers said.
The Russian is set to defend her French Open title later this month.Italian Open officials did not elaborate further on the reasons for Sharapova's Rome exit but the 26-year-old said on her Twitter account she was sick."I'm sorry for having to withdraw from the tournament this morning. Didn't recover after being sick last week and it got me again last night," Sharapova tweeted."It really is one of my favourites tournaments during the year and I can't wait to be back next year.