Science News This Week:
1) Study yields first snapshots of water splitting in photosynthesis:
An international team, led by Arizona State University scientists, has published today in Nature a groundbreaking study that shows the first snapshots of photosynthesis in action as it splits water into protons, electrons and oxygen, the process that maintains Earth's oxygen atmosphere. "This study is the first step towards our ultimate goal of unraveling the secrets of water splitting and obtaining molecular movies of biomolecules," said Petra Fromme, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at ASU. Fromme is the senior author and leader of the international team, which reported their work in "Serial time-resolved crystallography of photosystem II using a femtosecond X-ray laser," in the July 9 on-line issue of Nature.
Photosynthesis is one of the fundamental processes of life on Earth. The early Earth contained no oxygen and was converted to the oxygen-rich atmosphere we have today 2.5 billion years ago by the "invention" of the water splitting process in Photosystem II (PSII). All higher life on Earth depends on this process for its energy needs and PSII produces the oxygen we breathe, which ultimately keeps us alive.The revealing of the mechanism of this water splitting process is essential for the development of artificial systems that mimic and surpass the efficiency of natural systems. The development of an "artificial leaf" is one of the major goals of the ASU Center for Bio-Inspired Solar Fuel Production, which was the main supporter of this study.
"A crucial problem facing our Center for Bio-Inspired Fuel Production (Bisfuel) at ASU and similar research groups around the world is discovering an efficient, inexpensive catalyst for oxidizing water to oxygen gas, hydrogen ions and electrons," said ASU Regents' Professor and Center Director Devens Gust. "Photosynthetic organisms already know how to do this, and we need to know the details of how photosynthesis carries out the process using abundant manganese and calcium."The research by Fromme and coworkers gives us, for the very first time, a look at how the catalyst changes its structure while it is working," Gust added. "Once the mechanism of photosynthetic water oxidation is understood, chemists can begin to design artificial photosynthetic catalysts that will allow them to produce useful fuels using sunlight."In photosynthesis, oxygen is produced at a special metal site containing four manganese atoms and one calcium atom connected together as a metal cluster. This oxygen-evolving cluster is bound to the protein PSII that catalyzes the light driven process of water splitting. It requires four light flashes to extract one molecule of oxygen from two water molecules bound to the metal cluster. Fromme states that there are two major drawbacks to obtaining structural and dynamical information on this process by traditional X-ray crystallography. First, the pictures one can obtain with standard structural determination methods are static. Second, the quality of the structural information is adversely affected by X ray damage.
"The trick is to use the world's most powerful X-ray laser, named LCLS located at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory," said Fromme. "Extremely fast femtosecond (10-15 second) laser pulses record snapshots of the PSII crystals before they explode in the X-ray beam, a principle called 'diffraction before destruction.'"In this way, snapshots of the process of water splitting are obtained damage free. The ultimate goal of the work is to record molecular movies of water splitting.The team performed the time-resolved femtosecond crystallography experiments on Photosystem II nanocrystals, which are so small that you can hardly see them even under a microscope. The crystals are hit with two green laser flashes before the structural changes are elucidated by the femtosecond X-ray pulses.The researchers discovered large structural changes of the protein and the metal cluster that catalyzes the reaction. The cluster significantly elongates, thereby making room for a water molecule to move in.
"This is a major step toward the goal of making a movie of the molecular machine responsible for photosynthesis, the process by which plants make the oxygen we breathe, from sunlight and water," explained John Spence, ASU Regents' Professor of physics, team member and scientific leader of the National Science Foundation funded BioXFEL Science and Technology Center, which develops methods for biology with free electron lasers.ASU recently made a large commitment to the groundbreaking work of the femtosecond crystallography team by planning to establish a new Center for Applied Structural Discovery at the Biodesign Institute at ASU. The center will be led by Petra Fromme.
2) MIT finger device reads to the blind in real time:
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are developing an audio reading device to be worn on the index finger of people whose vision is impaired, giving them affordable and immediate access to printed words. The so-called FingerReader, a prototype produced by a 3-D printer, fits like a ring on the user's finger, equipped with a small camera that scans text. A synthesized voice reads words aloud, quickly translating books, restaurant menus and other needed materials for daily living, especially away from home or office.
Reading is as easy as pointing the finger at text. Special software tracks the finger movement, identifies words and processes the information. The device has vibration motors that alert readers when they stray from the script, said Roy Shilkrot, who is developing the device at the MIT Media Lab.For Jerry Berrier, 62, who was born blind, the promise of the FingerReader is its portability and offer of real-time functionality at school, a doctor's office and restaurants."When I go to the doctor's office, there may be forms that I wanna read before I sign them," Berrier said.He said there are other optical character recognition devices on the market for those with vision impairments, but none that he knows of that will read in real time.Berrier manages training and evaluation for a federal program that distributes technology to low-income people in Massachusetts and Rhode Island who have lost their sight and hearing. He works from the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts. "Everywhere we go, for folks who are sighted, there are things that inform us about the products that we are about to interact with. I wanna be able to interact with those same products, regardless of how I have to do it," Berrier said.
Pattie Maes, an MIT professor who founded and leads the Fluid Interfaces research group developing the prototype, says the FingerReader is like "reading with the tip of your finger and it's a lot more flexible, a lot more immediate than any solution that they have right now."Developing the gadget has taken three years of software coding, experimenting with various designs and working on feedback from a test group of visually impaired people. Much work remains before it is ready for the market, Shilkrot said, including making it work on cellphones. Shilkrot said developers believe they will be able to affordably market the FingerReader but he could not yet estimate a price. The potential market includes some of the 11.2 million people in the United States with vision impairment, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.
Current technology used in homes and offices offers cumbersome scanners that must process the desired script before it can be read aloud by character-recognition software installed on a computer or smartphone, Shilkrot said. The FingerReader would not replace Braille—the system of raised dots that form words, interpreted by touch. Instead, Shilkrot said, the new device would enable users to access a vast number of books and other materials that are not currently available in Braille. Developers had to overcome unusual challenges to help people with visual impairments move their reading fingers along a straight line of printed text that they could not see. Users also had to be alerted at the beginning and end of the reading material.
Their solutions? Audio cues in the software that processes information from the FingerReader and vibration motors in the ring.The FingerReader can read papers, books, magazines, newspapers, computer screens and other devices, but it has problems with text on a touch screen, said Shilkrot. That's because touching the screen with the tip of the finger would move text around, producing unintended results. Disabling the touch-screen function eliminates the problem, he said.Berrier said affordable pricing could make the FingerReader a key tool to help people with vision impairment integrate into the modern information economy."Any tool that we can get that gives us better access to printed material helps us to live fuller, richer, more productive lives, Berrier said.
3 ) Fossils reveal largest airborne bird:
Extinct avian may not have flapped, but it could glide. A partial skull and a handful of other bones is all that’s left of the largest bird to ever take to the air. Unearthed near Charleston International Airport in South Carolina, the newly described Pelagornis sandersi darkened the skies about 28 million years ago. Its wingspan stretched to 6.4 meters, or about half the length of a city bus and twice the wingspan of the biggest living flier, the wandering albatross. Scientists previously thought that no albatross-like avian with a wingspan greater than about 5 meters could have gotten off the ground. But computer simulations by Daniel Ksepka at North Carolina State University show that P. sandersi’s long wings would have reduced drag, allowing it to soar over long distances. It's not clear whether the big bird also flapped to power its flight, but it could have launched with a running takeoff, Ksepka writes July 7 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
4) Supernova rapidly creates dust between stars:
Explosions are probably primary source of dust in galaxies. Supernova 2010jl is helping unravel the origin of interstellar dust, the sootlike grains that fill the space between stars. New observations published July 9 in Nature show a shell of dust forming around the dying star within weeks of the explosion. The data support the idea that supernovas are the main dust factories in the universe.The unusually bright supernova, first seen in 2010, is roughly 160 million light-years away in the constellation Leo. Researchers watched the dust form almost in real time for nearly two and a half years using the Very Large Telescope in Chile. They did so by tracking how much the dust dimmed different colors of light from the explosion.
The dust probably formed in the wake of the supernova’s shock wave, which traveled at nearly 126 million kilometers per hour as it tore through clouds of gas that had previously been shed by the dying star. The dust grains are larger than expected, some bigger than a micrometer, which should help them survive the harsh environment of interstellar space, says lead author Christa Gall, of Aarhus University in Denmark. Their hardiness helps explain how supernovas might contribute much of the dust amid galaxies, she adds.
5) DARPA taps Lawrence Livermore to develop world's first neural device to restore memory:
The Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) up to $2.5 million to develop an implantable neural device with the ability to record and stimulate neurons within the brain to help restore memory, DARPA officials announced this week.The research builds on the understanding that memory is a process in which neurons in certain regions of the brain encode information, store it and retrieve it. Certain types of illnesses and injuries, including Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Alzheimer's disease and epilepsy, disrupt this process and cause memory loss. TBI, in particular, has affected 270,000 military service members since 2000.The goal of LLNL's work -- driven by LLNL's Neural Technology group and undertaken in collaboration with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Medtronic -- is to develop a device that uses real-time recording and closed-loop stimulation of neural tissues to bridge gaps in the injured brain and restore individuals' ability to form new memories and access previously formed ones.
The research is funded by DARPA's Restoring Active Memory (RAM) program.
Specifically, the Neural Technology group will seek to develop a neuromodulation system -- a sophisticated electronics system to modulate neurons -- that will investigate areas of the brain associated with memory to understand how new memories are formed. The device will be developed at LLNL's Center for Bioengineering."Currently, there is no effective treatment for memory loss resulting from conditions like TBI," said LLNL's project leader Satinderpall Pannu, director of the LLNL's Center for Bioengineering, a unique facility dedicated to fabricating biocompatible neural interfaces. "This is a tremendous opportunity from DARPA to leverage Lawrence Livermore's advanced capabilities to develop cutting-edge medical devices that will change the health care landscape."LLNL will develop a miniature, wireless and chronically implantable neural device that will incorporate both single neuron and local field potential recordings into a closed-loop system to implant into TBI patients' brains. The device -- implanted into the entorhinal cortex and hippocampus -- will allow for stimulation and recording from 64 channels located on a pair of high-density electrode arrays. The entorhinal cortex and hippocampus are regions of the brain associated with memory.
The arrays will connect to an implantable electronics package capable of wireless data and power telemetry. An external electronic system worn around the ear will store digital information associated with memory storage and retrieval and provide power telemetry to the implantable package using a custom RF-coil system.Designed to last throughout the duration of treatment, the device's electrodes will be integrated with electronics using advanced LLNL integration and 3D packaging technologies. The microelectrodes that are the heart of this device are embedded in a biocompatible, flexible polymer.Using the Center for Bioengineering's capabilities, Pannu and his team of engineers have achieved 25 patents and many publications during the last decade. The team's goal is to build the new prototype device for clinical testing by 2017.
Lawrence Livermore's collaborators, UCLA and Medtronic, will focus on conducting clinical trials and fabricating parts and components, respectively."The RAM program poses a formidable challenge reaching across multiple disciplines from basic brain research to medicine, computing and engineering," said Itzhak Fried, lead investigator for the UCLA on this project andprofessor of neurosurgery and psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. "But at the end of the day, it is the suffering individual, whether an injured member of the armed forces or a patient with Alzheimer's disease, who is at the center of our thoughts and efforts."LLNL's work on the Restoring Active Memory program supports President Obama's Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative.
6) Using sand to improve battery performance:
Researchers at the University of California, Riverside's Bourns College of Engineering have created a lithium ion battery that outperforms the current industry standard by three times. The key material: sand. Yes, sand. "This is the holy grail -- a low cost, non-toxic, environmentally friendly way to produce high performance lithium ion battery anodes," said Zachary Favors, a graduate student working with Cengiz and Mihri Ozkan, both engineering professors at UC Riverside.
The idea came to Favors six months ago. He was relaxing on the beach after surfing in San Clemente, Calif. when he picked up some sand, took a close look at it and saw it was made up primarily of quartz, or silicon dioxide.His research is centered on building better lithium ion batteries, primarily for personal electronics and electric vehicles. He is focused on the anode, or negative side of the battery. Graphite is the current standard material for the anode, but as electronics have become more powerful graphite's ability to be improved has been virtually tapped out.Researchers are now focused on using silicon at the nanoscale, or billionths of a meter, level as a replacement for graphite. The problem with nanoscale silicon is that it degrades quickly and is hard to produce in large quantities. Now, the Ozkan team is trying to produce larger quantities of the nano-silicon beach sand and is planning to move from coin-size batteries to pouch-size batteries that are used in cell phones.
Favors set out to solve both these problems. He researched sand to find a spot in the United States where it is found with a high percentage of quartz. That took him to the Cedar Creek Reservoir, east of Dallas, where he grew up.Sand in hand, he came back to the lab at UC Riverside and milled it down to the nanometer scale, followed by a series of purification steps changing its color from brown to bright white, similar in color and texture to powdered sugar.After that, he ground salt and magnesium, both very common elements found dissolved in sea water into the purified quartz. The resulting powder was then heated. With the salt acting as a heat absorber, the magnesium worked to remove the oxygen from the quartz, resulting in pure silicon.The Ozkan team was pleased with how the process went. And they also encountered an added positive surprise. The pure nano-silicon formed in a very porous 3-D silicon sponge like consistency. That porosity has proved to be the key to improving the performance of the batteries built with the nano-silicon.The improved performance could mean expanding the expected lifespan of silicon-based electric vehicle batteries up to 3 times or more, which would be significant for consumers, considering replacement batteries cost thousands of dollars. For cell phones or tablets, it could mean having to recharge every three days, instead of every day.
Movies Release This Week:
A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth's dominant species.
In Road to Paloma, Momoa (Game of Thrones, Conan the Barbarian) stars as Robert Wolf, a Native American, who is being hotly pursued by the FBI for having taken the law into his own hands after a brutal injustice occurs when his mother is raped and killed on their reservation. Wolf crosses paths with Cash (Mollohan), a down and out musician, and an unlikely bond is formed as they motorcycle across the vast highways of the American West in search of redemption.
Paul Maguire (Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage, Leaving Las Vegas) is a respectable businessman and loving father living peaceful life…until his violent past comes back to haunt him. When his teenage daughter is taken from their home, Paul rounds up his old crew to help him find her…by any means necessary. His search for justice leads Paul down a dark and bloody path of revenge, betrayal and long buried secrets. Danny Glover (theLethal Weapon films), Rachel Nichols (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) and Peter Stormare (Fargo) co-star in this heart-stopping thrill ride that shows no mercy.
Four people meet on New Year's Eve and form a surrogate family to help one another weather the difficulties of their lives.
Starring Paul Eenhoorn (This Is Martin Bonner) and newcomer Earl Lynn Nelson, Land Ho! follows a pair of retirees who set off to Iceland in an attempt to reclaim their youth through Reykjavik nightclubs, trendy spas, and rugged campsites.
Political News This Week:
1) Rajnath Singh seeks ATS report on Pune blasts:
The Centre is waiting for the report of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad, which is probing the blast in Pune, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Friday.“The ATS is probing the case. Once their reports comes, we will be able to tell you the details,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a function. Meanwhile, investigators probing Thursday’s blast in Pune has found that the bomb comprised about 200 gram of ammonium nitrate and some amount of Improvised Explosive Device, Home ministry sources said quoting a preliminary report sent by Maharashtra government.
Timer and detonator were used besides minimum amount of shrapnel which led the police to assume that idea of the explosion was not to kill people but create panic, they said.Even though no group has so far claimed responsibility for the explosion, investigators are not ruling out the possibility of the involvement of banned terror group Indian Mujahideen, sources said. The “low-intensity” blast occurred near Pharaskhana police station, close to the famous Dagdusheth Halwai Temple in busy Budhwar Peth area in Pune, injuring five persons.
Pune was rocked by four coordinated low-intensity explosions on 1 August, 2012 which had left one person injured. The city had come on the terrorists’ radar for the first tine when 17 people were killed and around 60 injured in a powerful blast at German Bakery, one of Pune’s favourite eateries, on 13 February, 2010. Indian Mujahideen was blamed for both the attacks.
2) BJP President Amit Shah 1st priority: UP overhaul:
The coronation of Amit Shah as the Bhartiya Janata Party national president is likely to be followed by large-scale changes in the party organisation in Uttar Pradesh.Having been credited with the sweep that the party witnessed at the recent Lok Sabha election in UP, where the BJP bagged as many as 73of the 80 seats, Shah is now understood to be entrusted with the task of repeating the performance at the 2017 state assembly election.While other states where assembly elections are due around the same time are also on his agenda, UP figures on top of his list of priorities. Sure enough, if his mentor Narendra Modi’s march to power was routed via UP, Shah hopes to further consolidate his position as the party supremo by ensuring unprecedented performance in the country’s most populous state.
Party insiders have already started speculating a major overhaul in the state BJP organisation in the coming month.While Shah may not replace state chief Laxmi Kant Bajpai, who has worked in close coordination with the former throughout the Lok Sabha elections, the rest of the executive is bound to witness complete overhaul.Among those like to be anointed with a key position is Sunil Bansal, who was brought in from Rajasthan by Shah well before the Lok Sabha poll.Then given the charge of organisation secretary, Bansal remained Shah’s close confidante during the campaign, supervising the control room set up in Lucknow.It was Bansal who handpicked a team of young IT professionals to handle the social media ‘war room” at the state party headquarters.
Significantly, only very few existing state BJP leaders were involved in the campaign.
Shah rarely consulted party veterans. Instead, he chose to work entirely with his own team.This was perhaps the first time in state BJP’s history that stalwarts like Kalyan Singh, Kalraj Misra, Lalji Tandon or even Rajnath Singh were not attributed an iota of credit for the party’s grand success in the election.There is a section of the state leadership which feels that Shah had hogged much of the credit he did not deserve.“It was not as if BJP did very well in Uttar Pradesh alone; after all the party held complete sway over Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh where there was no Amit Shah. Sure enough, all the credit goes to Narendra Modi himself. None other than Modi could have mobilised such a massive mandate,” a veteran BJP leader, now leading a retired life, pointed out.Yet, with Shah having emerged as the 2014 election hero, there is no doubt that he alone would call the shots for a total revamp in the party organisation in UP. Since Shah enjoys Modi’s unflinching confidence, his view is bound to prevail.
While the new executive is expected to include a larger number of youth, what nobody in the party hierarchy is able to figure out are the probable names.“You see there is complete crisis of suitable names to don the mantle of the party’s young leadership. The only names that can come to one’s mind are sons of established leaders who were fast fading out,” observed a senior insider.According to him, “some new faces for the party executive may be handpicked from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.”Prominent names doing the rounds are Rajnath Singh’s son Panklaj Singh and Lalji Tandon’s son Gopalji Tandon -- both of whom were already holding positions in the organisation set up already.While Kalraj Misra was hoping to get his son Amit a ticket for the assembly seat vacated by him in Lucknow, he is also understood to be lobbying to get his former personal assistant Vijay Pathak -- now a spokesperson -- key position in the party organisation.Former state BJP president Om Prakash Singh was also vying for a party position for his son Anurag Singh while former senior vice president Satya Deo Singh was also actively trying to push the case of his son Vaibhav Singh.Perhaps the only young leader who has established himself without a prominent father or Godfather in the party is Dinesh Sharma, currently doing a second stint as the mayor of Lucknow.However, only time will tell whether the party will end up the Congress way of entrusting key positions only to sons of veterans or truly hunt for talent.
3) Budget high on rhetoric, low on content: Congress:
“This could have been a UPA Budget”, was how former prime minister and Congress leader Dr Manmohan Singh, the architect and initiator of the economic reform movement in the country, described the maiden budget of the Narendra Modi government.
Presented in less than two months after taking over the reigns of the government, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance’s first Budget is seen to be a continuation of the United Progressive Alliance government’s economic policies with minor tinkerings here and there.There was a great deal of expectation from the first NDA Budget with corporates expecting big bang reforms, but there has been disappointment all around with the government failing to take any bold decisions in terms of taking forward the reform process as was expected.The government limited itself only to announcing 49 per cent foreign direct investment in insurance and 49 per cent FDI in defence with the Congress expected to support these measures, which the party had earlier announced but failed to implement for lack of support.
Similarly, the former chief minister of Gujarat along with many other BJP state governments including Madhya Pradesh had vehemently opposed the Goods and Services Tax but now Narendra Modi has become a big votary of supporting GST.
Reacting to this turnaround Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia said unlike the BJP which says one thing when in the opposition and another when in power, the Congress does not change its stand and sticks to what it has said.
Scindia said, “There was no articulation of a bold vision of a statement of intent, no articulation of a direction in which the economy has to go, and it lacks imagination. There is no reference to the price rise under which a common man is affected.”He also said, “Inflation is a very important and sensitive issue. An amount of Rs 500 crore has been earmarked for Price Stabilisation Fund whereas we know in any of the APMC market, in any big cities, there is no single transaction which is below Rs 1,000 crore, with Rs. 500 crore even a start cannot be made."The Congress said that the Budget disappoints rather than enthuses and the people have been shortchanged since a great deal of promises were made but they find no reflection in the Budget.Scindia said that the Budget is seen as the unveiling of the NDA’s economic vision and the blueprint of the country’s aspirations, expectations which are attached to it. But, he said, the maiden budget was high on rhetoric and low on content as it has not articulated the vision of the NDA and lacks in imagination.
The Budget certainly does not lay out a blueprint for ushering in the “achche din” which was the slogan on which Narendra Modi rode to power. There are no details on how the government will combat or cut corruption or price rise, which were the two main issues on which the BJP rode to power, winning an absolute majority and in the process decimating the Congress to just 44 seats.
For More Budget News : Click on Lower Headlines
4) Margaret Alva to be sworn in as Goa Governor on Saturday:
Rajasthan Governor Margaret Alva will be sworn-in as Governor of Goa on Saturday after predecessor B V Wanchoo resigned last week. Chief Justice of Bombay High Court, Mohit Shantilal Shah will administer the oath of office to the Governor at Durbar hall of the Raj Bhavan at 6 pm on Saturday, according to a statement issued by the state government.
Alva, was given the additional charge of Goa after Wanchoo resigned on July 4, a day after the Central Bureau of Investigation quizzed him in VVIP chopper deal case. He was appointed in Goa on May 4, 2012.
A lawyer and former parliamentarian, Alva is credited with steering several landmark legislations through the Parliament to improve the position of women in society and polity.Beginning her political career as the only woman Block President in Karnataka after the split of 1969, she went on to head the Congress party’s women’s wing in Karnataka in 1972.
She soon moved on to become the General Secretary of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee.Two years later, Alva was elected to the Rajya Sabha. She was appointed Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs in the Rajiv Gandhi Government in 1984, later moving to the Ministry of Human Resource Development in charge of Youth Affairs and Sports, Women and Child Development.In 1991, she was appointed Union Minister of State for Personnel, Pensions, Public Grievances and Administrative Reforms (attached to the Prime Minister).Alva also simultaneously served as General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee for five years. On completion of this assignment, Alva was appointed the Governor of Uttarakhand in 2009. She moved to Rajasthan as Governor in 2012.
5) Torrential rains leave parts of Mumbai underwater:
Incessant rains in the last 24 hours slowed down Mumbai leaving parts of the city flooded. However the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has maintained that the situation is under control.
6) Alarming case of Indians joining ISIS war in Iraq:
Intelligence Bureau warns that the movement of Saudi Wahabi preachers in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, if left unchecked, will lead to more Indians being brainwashed and eventually joining ISIS founder Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi’s militia. One of the major concerns today of nations fighting the war on terror has been the growing number of youths turning radical over the Internet.
And there is no shortage of role models either. While misguided youths drew inspiration from the likes of Osama bin Laden till some years ago, today many subscribe to Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant founder Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi’s ultra radical thoughts. Though India is no stranger to online radicalism, it is just beginning to realise how the Baghdadi’s sermons are drawing Indian youths to fight for the ISIS.
Three students from Chennai were reported missing a couple of months back. Intelligence Agencies later traced them to Syria, where the trio have been fighting alongside the ISIS.
Today, the agencies are on the trail of 15 more persons hailing from Kerala and Tamil Nadu and suspect that they too could have joined the ISIS militia.
7) Coal India starts first major coal mine in five years:
Coal India Ltd started production on Friday at a 12-million-tonnes-per-year mine, its first major new project in at least five years, which should help boost supplies to fuel-starved power plants.
The world's biggest coal miner has struggled to raise output fast enough to meet rising demand from power companies, making India the world's third-largest coal importer despite sitting on the fifth-biggest reserves.Coal India unit Central Coalfields took almost a decade to start digging out coal from the Amrapali open cast pit in Jharkhand, mainly due to delays in land acquisition and lack of a railway network to connect the mine.Central Coalfields Chairman Gopal Singh said the opening of the mine, its first in decades, was fast-tracked on the orders of new Coal and Power Minister Piyush Goyal, who took charge about 45 days ago.
"The minister has given us strict orders to raise output," Singh said at an event where Goyal inaugurated the mine from a New Delhi hotel using video conferencing.Goyal said many more such projects were needed to help India provide power to all, a pet project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who in May won India's strongest election mandate in 30 years on promises of growth.
India's coal production was 566 million tonnes in the fiscal year ended March 31, but demand was in the range of 715-720 million. Nearly half of India's coal-fired power plants had only enough stocks to last a week or less, Goyal said on July 7.The Amrapali mine is expected to produce 3 million tonnes this fiscal year, during which Central Coalfields will raise production by 10 percent to 55 million tonnes.
The mine is likely to start producing at full capacity in two years when it is connected to a rail network, Singh said.Goyal said he is seeking help from state governments to finish projects faster, including railway lines.Among the other steps Goyal is taking to raise output from Coal India, he is exploring hiring a new chairman from the private sector following the resignation of S. Narsing Rao, a member of the Indian Administrative Service.
"This is to bring about a greater degree of international management practices in government companies also," Goyal said.
Zohra Sehgal dies at 102 :
Zohra Sehgal, the face of Bhaji on the beach, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Saawariya, Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gam etc has now deceased due to a cardiac arrest. She was admitted in a hospital in South Delhi because of Pneumonia, she passed away the next day after having a cardiac arrest at 4:30 PM on 10th of July.
Zohra Sehgal was an actress and a great choreographer. She was known by her acting skills and was known as the ‘Ace’ of Indian Theatre.
Zohra Sehgal (27th April 1912 to 10th July 2014) started her career as a dancer with Uday Shankar and being fond of him she continuously worked with him for a span of eight years.
Born and brought up in a typical family in Saharanpur, it was hard for women to then cope-up with a field that involved dancing and acting. Being an inspiration to a lot of people lets count her achievements:
• Padma Shree in 1998
• Kalidas Samman in 2001
• Sangeet Natak Akademi in 2004
• Padma Vibhushan in 2010
Sports News This Week:
1) FIFA rejects Suarez appeal against ban for biting:
FIFA has rejected Luis Suarez's appeal against his lengthy ban for biting an opponent in a World Cup match.
Football's international governing body on Thursday said its appeals committee rejected the appeal by Suarez and the Uruguay football federation in its entirety. But that doesn't mean Suarez has given up hope of playing on the opening day of the season.
The Uruguay and Liverpool star has up to 10 days to get the written decision from FIFA, which he needs to lodge an appeal against the ban with the Court of Arbitration for Sport. If he does lodge the appeal, he could apply to CAS for an immediate freeze on the sanctions.Suarez was banned for nine competitive international matches, four months from all football and fined 100,000 Swiss francs ($112,000) for biting the shoulder of Giorgio Chiellini during Uruguay's 1-0 win over Italy in a group-stage game in Brazil.It is the third time Suarez has been banned for biting an opponent, after similar incidents at both Ajax in the Dutch league and Liverpool in the English Premier League.
The incident was missed by match officials, and FIFA's disciplinary committee studied video evidence before charging the Uruguay forward.The ruling to uphold the sanctions was expected, as FIFA's appeals panel seldom changes disciplinary verdicts.If Suarez seeks and is granted from CAS a freeze of his sanctions during his appeal process, he would be allowed to train and play with his club until a final verdict is reached.Suarez is reportedly negotiating a move from Liverpool to Barcelona. FIFA said a transfer could proceed despite the sanction from football activity.
2) Cricket: England v India scoreboard:
Scoreboard at lunch on the third day of the first Test between England and India at Trent Bridge on Friday:
India 1st Innings 457 (M Vijay 146, MS Dhoni 82, B Kumar 58, Mohammed Shami 51 no; J Anderson 3-123)
England 1st Innings (overnight: 43-1)
A. Cook b Shami 5 S. Robson not out 59 G. Ballance not out 59 Extras (lb3, w1, nb4) 8 Total (1 wkt, 48 overs, 193 mins) 131
To bat: I Bell, J Root, M Ali, M Prior, B Stokes, S Broad, L Plunkett, J Anderson
Fall of wickets: 1-9 (Cook)
Bowling: Kumar 11-4-17-0 (1w); Shami 11-2-41-1 (1nb); Sharma 11-2-34-0 (3nb); Jadeja 10-3-15-0; Binny 5-0-21-0
India: Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt/wkt), Ravindra Jadeja, Stuart Binny, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami
Match position: England are 326 runs behind India with nine first-innings wickets standing.Toss: India
3) Novak Djokovic wins Wimbledon 2014 men's singles final
Federer won the opening set of the clash in a tense tie-break, before Novak Djokovic took the next two sets.Djokovic, the higher ranking player, appeared to struggle with injury at times but looked dominant in the three middle sets. It appeared that the match was in the Serbian's hands after he broke Federer in the fourth – but the Swiss sportsman won an impressive five games back-to-back and went onto take the fourth set by seven games to five.
Both men showed signs of fatigue in the final set. It was the first five-set Wimbledon men's single final since the 2009 clash between Federer and Andy Roddick. However, it was Djokovic who rose to the challenge of the final set - winning it six games to four. "It was a great match to be a part of", Djokovic said after the match. He joked with Federer, who he called a "great athlete" and a "role model for many children", saying: "Thank you for letting me win today." "This is the tournament that I always dreamed of winning," he continued. "This is the best tournament in the world, the most valuable tournament in the world.
"To be able to compete at such a high level, I am so grateful to be able to compete and to hold this trophy."
Book of This Week:
The Palace of Illusions By Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
A retelling of the timeless Indian epic, the Mahabharata with a modern twist The Palace of Illusions takes us back to a time that is half-history, half-myth, and wholly magical; narrated by Panchaali, the wife of the five Pandava brothers, we are finally given a woman's take on the timeless tale that is the Mahabharata Tracing Panchaali's life from fiery birth and lonely childhood, where her beloved brother is her only true companion; through her complicated friendship with the enigmatic Krishna; to marriage, motherhood and Panchaali's secret attraction to the mysterious man who is her husbands' most dangerous enemy. The Palace of Illusions is a deeply human novel about a woman born into a man's world, a world of warriors, gods and the ever manipulating hands of fate.
Divakaruni portrays Panchali as a powerful, strong, and independent woman, an equal to the men around her rather than subservient. She presents Panchali’s life as a series of choices made by Panchali, and not the people around her, giving her a voice in the overwhelmingly patriarchal society that was ancient India. Divakaruni’s interpretation of the epic provides a complete narrative, sometimes missing from the original epic, giving a stronger role to the women of the story, and portraying them as equals in society.
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni :
Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (born Chitralekha Banerjee, 1956) is an Indian-American author, poet, and the Betty and Gene McDavid Professor of Writing at the University of Houston Creative Writing Program.
Her short story collection Arranged Marriage won an American Book Award in 1995, and two of her novels (The Mistress of Spices and Sister of My Heart) as well as a short story The Word Love were adapted into films. Mistress of Spices was short-listed for the Orange Prize.
Divakaruni's works are largely set in India and the United States, and often focus on the experiences of South Asian immigrants. She writes for children as well as adults and has published novels in multiple genres, including realistic fiction, historical fiction, magical realism, and fantasy.
Divakaruni put herself through graduate school by taking on odd jobs, working as a babysitter, a store clerk, a bread slicer in a bakery, a laboratory assistant at Wright State University, and a dining hall attendant at International House, Berkeley. She was a graduate teaching assistant at U.C.Berkeley She taught at Foothill College in Los Altos, California and Diablo Valley College. She now lives and teaches in Texas, where she is the at the nationally ranked University of Houston Creative Writing Program.
Divakaruni is a co-founder and former president of Maitri, a helpline founded in 1991 for South Asian women dealing with domestic abuse. Divakaruni serves on its advisory board and on the advisory board of a similar organization in Houston, Daya. She also serves on the emeritus board pf Pratham Houston, a non-profit organization working to bring literacy to disadvantaged Indian children. She volunteers for Indo American Charity Organization, a non-profit which raises money to assist various charities in the Houston area.