|3D Picture of Science News|
Science News This Week
|Tiny Structure Gives Big Boost to Solar Power:|
1) Tiny Structure Gives Big Boost to Solar Power:
Princeton researchers have found a simple and economical way to nearly triple the efficiency of organic solar cells, the cheap and flexible plastic devices that many scientists believe could be the future of solar power.
The researchers, led by electrical engineer Stephen Chou, were able to increase the efficiency of the solar cells 175 percent by using a nano structured "sandwich" of metal and plastic that collects and traps light. Chou said the technology also should increase the efficiency of conventional inorganic solar collectors, such as standard silicon solar panels, although he cautioned that his team has not yet completed research with inorganic devices.
Chou, the Joseph C. Elgin Professor of Engineering, said the research team used nanotechnology to overcome two primary challenges that cause solar cells to lose energy: light reflecting from the cell, and the inability to fully capture light that enters the cell.
With their new metallic sandwich, the researchers were able to address both problems. The sandwich -- called a subwavelength plasmonic cavity -- has an extraordinary ability to dampen reflection and trap light. The new technique allowed Chou's team to create a solar cell that only reflects about 4 percent of light and absorbs as much as 96 percent. It demonstrates 52 percent higher efficiency in converting light to electrical energy than a conventional solar cell.
That is for direct sunlight. The structure achieves even more efficiency for light that strikes the solar cell at large angles, which occurs on cloudy days or when the cell is not directly facing the sun. By capturing these angled rays, the new structure boosts efficiency by an additional 81 percent, leading to the 175 percent total increase.
Chou said the system is ready for commercial use although, as with any new product, there will be a transition period in moving from the lab to mass production.
The physics behind the innovation is formidably complex. But the device structure, in concept, is fairly simple.
The top layer, known as the window layer, of the new solar cell uses an incredibly fine metal mesh: the metal is 30 nanometers thick, and each hole is 175 nanometers in diameter and 25 nanometers apart. (A nanometer is a billionth of a meter and about one hundred-thousandth the width of human hair). This mesh replaces the conventional window layer typically made of a material called indium-tin-oxide (ITO).
The mesh window layer is placed very close to the bottom layer of the sandwich, the same metal film used in conventional solar cells. In between the two metal sheets is a thin strip of semiconducting material used in solar panels. It can be any type -- silicon, plastic or gallium arsenide -- although Chou's team used an 85-nanometer-thick plastic.
The solar cell's features -- the spacing of the mesh, the thickness of the sandwich, the diameter of the holes -- are all smaller than the wavelength of the light being collected. This is critical because light behaves in very unusual ways in subwavelength structures. Chou's team discovered that using these subwavelength structures allowed them to create a trap in which light enters, with almost no reflection, and does not leave.
"It is like a black hole for light," Chou said. "It traps it."The team calls the system a "plasmonic cavity with subwavelength hole array" or PlaCSH. Photos of the surface of the PlaCSH solar cells demonstrate this light-absorbing effect: under sunlight, a standard solar power cell looks tinted in color due to light reflecting from its surface, but the PlaCSH looks deep black because of the extremely low light reflection.
The researchers expected an increase in efficiency from the technique, "but clearly the increase we found was beyond our expectations," Chou said.
Chou and electrical engineering graduate student Wei Ding reported their findings in the journal Optics Express, published online Nov. 2, 2012. Their work was supported in part by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation.
The researchers said the PlaCSH solar cells can be manufactured cost-effectively in wallpaper-size sheets. Chou's lab used "nanoimprint," a low-cost nanofabrication technique Chou invented 16 years ago, which embosses nanostructures over a large area, like printing a newspaper.
Besides the innovative design, the work involved optimizing the system. Getting the structure exactly right "is critical to achieving high efficiency," Ding said.
Chou said that the development could have a number of applications depending on the type of solar collector. In this series of experiments, Chou and Ding worked with solar cells made from plastic, called organic solar cells. Plastic is cheap and malleable and the technology has great promise, but it has been limited in commercial use because of organic solar cells' low efficiency.
In addition to a direct boost to the cells' efficiency, the new nanostructured metal film also replaces the current ITO electrode that is the most expensive part of most current organic solar cells.
"PlaCSH also is extremely bendable," Chou said. "The mechanical property of ITO is like glass; it is very brittle."The nanostructured metal film is also promising for silicon solar panels that now dominate the market. Because the PlaCSH sandwich captures light independent of what electricity-generating material is used as the middle layer, it should boost efficiency of silicon panels as well. It also can reduce the thickness of the silicon used in traditional silicon solar panels by a thousand-fold, which could substantially decrease manufacturing costs and allow the panels to become more flexible.
|How Common 'Cat Parasite' Gets Into Human Brain and Influences Human Behavior:|
2) How Common 'Cat Parasite' Gets Into Human Brain and Influences Human Behavior:
Toxoplasma is a common 'cat parasite', and has previously been in the spotlight owing to its observed effect on risk-taking and other human behaviours. To some extent, it has also been associated with mental illness. A study led by researchers from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden now demonstrates for the first time how the parasite enters the brain to influence its host.
"We believe that this knowledge may be important for the further understanding of complex interactions in some major public health issues, that modern science still hasn't been able to explain fully," says Antonio Barragan, researcher at the Center for Infectious Medicine at Karolinska Institutet and the Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control. "At the same time, it's important to emphasize that humans have lived with this parasite for many millennia, so today's carriers of Toxoplasma need not be particularly worried."
The current study, which is published in the scientific journal PLoS Pathogens, was led by Dr Barragan and conducted together with researchers at Uppsala University.Toxoplasmosis is caused by the extremely common Toxoplasma gondii parasite. Between 30 and 50 per cent of the global population is thought to be infected, and an estimated twenty per cent or so of people in Sweden. The infection is also found in animals, especially domestic cats. People contract the parasite mostly by eating the poorly cooked flesh of infected animals or through contact with cat faeces. The infection causes mild flu-like symptoms in adults and otherwise healthy people before entering a chronic and dormant phase, which has previously been regarded as symptom-free. It is, however, known that toxoplasmosis in the brain can be fatal in people with depleted immune defence and in fetuses, which can be infected through the mother. Because of this risk, pregnant women are recommended to avoid contact with cat litter trays.
A number of studies have been presented in recent years showing that the toxoplasmosis parasite affects its host even during the dormant phase. It has, for example, already been observed that rats become unafraid of cats and even attracted by their scent, which makes them easy prey. This has been interpreted as the parasite assuring its survival and propagation, since the consumed rat then infects the cat, which through its faces can infect the food that other rats might then proceed to eat. A number of studies also confirm that mental diseases like schizophrenia, depression and anxiety syndrome are more common in people with toxoplasmosis, while others suggest that toxoplasmosis can influence how extroverted, aggressive or risk-inclined an individual's behaviour is.
"We've not looked at behavioural changes in people infected with toxoplasma, as that's been dealt with by previous studies," says Dr Barragan. "Instead, we've shown for the first time how the parasite behaves in the body of its host, by which I mean how it enters the brain and manipulates the host by taking over one of the brain's neurotransmitters."
In one laboratory experiment, human dendritic cells were infected with toxoplasma. After infection, the cells, which are a key component of the immune defence, started secreting the signal substance GABA. In another experiment on live mice, the team was able to trace the movement of infected dendritic cells in the body after introducing the parasite into the brain, from where it spread and continued to affect the GABA system.
GABA is a signal substance that, amongst other effects, inhibits the sensation of fear and anxiety. Disturbances of the GABA system are seen in people with depression, schizophrenia, bipolar diseases, anxiety syndrome and other mental diseases.
"For toxoplasma to make cells in the immune defence secrete GABA was as surprising as it was unexpected, and is very clever of the parasite," says Dr Barragan. "It would now be worth studying the links that exist between toxoplasmosis, the GABA systems and major public health threats."
|Antibiotic-eating bug unearthed in soil|
3) Antibiotic-eating bug unearthed in soil :
t's well known how bacteria exposed to antibiotics for long periods will find ways to resist the drugs -- by quickly pumping them out of their cells, for instance, or modifying the compounds so they're no longer toxic. Now new research has uncovered another possible mechanism of antibiotic "resistance" in soil. In a paper published on Dec. 6 in the Journal of Environmental Quality, a group of Canadian and French scientists report on a soil bacterium that breaks down the common veterinary antibiotic, sulfamethazine, and uses it for growth.
Certain soil bacteria are already known to live off, or "eat," agricultural pesticides and herbicides, says the study's leader, Ed Topp, a soil microbiologist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in London, Ontario. In fact, the microbes' presence in farm fields can cause these agrichemicals to fail. But to Topp's knowledge, this is the first report of a soil microorganism that degrades an antibiotic both to protect itself and get nutrition.
"I think it's kind of a game changer in terms of how we think about our environment and antibiotic resistance," he says.Concerns about widespread antibiotic resistance are what led Topp and his collaborators to set up an experiment 14 years ago, in which they dosed soils annually with environmentally relevant concentrations of three veterinary antibiotics: sulfamethazine, tylosin, and chlortetracycline. Commonly fed to pigs and other livestock, antibiotics are thought to keep animals healthier. But they're also excreted in manure, which is then spread once a year as fertilizer in countless North American farm fields.The researchers first wanted to know whether these yearly applications were promoting higher levels of antibiotic resistance in soil bacteria. But a few years ago, they also decided to compare the persistence of the drugs in soil plots that had been repeatedly dosed, versus fresh soils where antibiotics were never applied.
They did this experiment, Topp explains, because of previous work indicating that pesticides often break down more quickly in soils with a long history of exposure, indicating that pesticide-degrading microbes have been selected for over time.
Still, it came as a surprise when they saw antibiotics also degrading much faster in long-term, treated plots than in fresh, control soils, he says. In particular, sulfamethazine -- a member of the antibiotic class called sulfonamides -- disappeared up to five times faster.The researchers subsequently cultured from the treated plots a new strain of Microbacterium, an actinomycete that uses sulfamethazine as a nitrogen and carbon source. Extremely common in soil, actinomycete bacteria are known to degrade a wide range of organic compounds. And now at least two other sulfanomide-degrading Microbacterium strains have been reported, Topp says: one from soil and another from a sewage treatment plant.
Taken together, the findings suggest that the capability to break down sulfanomides could be widespread. And if it's indeed true that "the microbiology in the environment is learning to break these drugs down more rapidly when exposed to them, this would effectively reduce the amount of time that the environment is exposed to these drugs and therefore possibly attenuate the impacts," Topp says.Not that negative impacts aren't still occurring, he cautions. In particular, long-term exposure to antibiotics puts significant pressure on soil bacteria to evolve resistance, which they typically do by giving and receiving genes that let them detoxify drugs, or keep the compounds out of their cells.What the new research suggests, though, is that soil bacteria could be swapping genes for breaking down antibiotics at the same time."My guess is that's probably what's happening, but it remains to be determined," Topp says. "It's actually extremely fascinating."
|Little Telescope Spies Gigantic Galaxy Clusters|
4) Little Telescope Spies Gigantic Galaxy Clusters :
Our solar system, with its colorful collection of planets, asteroids and comets, is a fleck in the grander cosmos. Hundreds of billions of solar systems are thought to reside in our Milky Way galaxy, which is itself just a drop in a sea of galaxies.
The rarest and largest of galaxy groupings, called galaxy clusters, can be the hardest to find. That's where NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) can help. The mission's all-sky infrared maps have revealed one distant galaxy cluster and are expected to uncover thousands more.
These massive structures are collections of up to thousands of galaxies bound together by gravity. They were born out of seeds of matter formed in the very early universe, and grew rapidly by a process called inflation.
"One of the key questions in cosmology is how did the first bumps and wiggles in the distribution of matter in our universe rapidly evolve into the massive structures of galaxies we see today," said Anthony Gonzalez of University of Florida, Gainesville, who led the research program. The results are published in the Astrophysical Journal.
"By uncovering the most massive of galaxy clusters billions of light-years away with WISE, we can test theories of the universe's early inflation period."
WISE completed its all-sky survey in 2011, after surveying the entire sky twice at infrared wavelengths. The 16-inch (40-centimeter) telescope ran out of its coolant as expected in 2010, but went on to complete the second sky scan using two of its four infrared channels, which still functioned without coolant. At that time, the goal of the mission extension was to hunt for more near-Earth asteroids via a project called NEOWISE.
NASA has since funded the WISE team to combine all that data, allowing astronomers to study everything from nearby stars to distant galaxies. These next-generation all-sky images, part of a new project called "AllWISE," will be significantly more sensitive than those previously released, and will be publicly available in late 2013.
Gonzalez and his team plan to use the enhanced WISE data to hunt for more massive galaxy clusters. The first one they spotted, MOO J2342.0+1301, is located more than 7 billion light-years away, or halfway back to the time of the Big Bang. It is hundreds of times more massive than our Milky Way.
By scanning the whole sky with the improved AllWISE data, the team will sleuth out the true monsters of the bunch, clusters as big as thousands of times the mass of the Milky Way, assembled even earlier in the history of the universe.
Galaxy clusters from the first half of the universe are hard to find because they are so far away and because not very many had time to assemble by then. What's more, they are especially hard to see using visible-light telescopes: light that left these faraway structures in visible wavelengths has been stretched into longer, infrared wavelengths due to the expansion of space. WISE can hunt some of these rare colossal structures down because it scanned the whole sky in infrared light.
"I had pretty much written off using WISE to find distant galaxy clusters because we had to reduce the telescope diameter to only 16 inches [40 centimeters] to stay within our cost guidelines, so I am thrilled that we can find them after all," said Peter Eisenhardt, the WISE project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. and an author of the new paper. "The longer exposures from AllWISE open the door wide to see the most massive structures forming in the distant universe."
Other projects planned for the enhanced WISE data include the search for nearby, hidden cool stars, including those with masses as low as planets. If a large planet or tiny star does exist close to our solar system, an object some call "Tyche," then WISE's infrared data may reveal it.
Other authors of the new study are: Daniel Gettings and Conor Mancone of the University of Florida; Adam Stanford of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, Calif., and University of California, Davis; Mark Brodwin of University of Missouri, Kansas City; Daniel Stern of JPL; Gregory Zeimann of University of California, Davis; Frank Masci of the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena; Casey Papovich of Texas A&M University, College Station; Ichi Tanaka of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan; and Edward (Ned) Wright of UCLA.
|Too Much Dark Matter in Galaxy Cluster? 'Dark Core' May Not Be So Dark After All|
5) Too Much Dark Matter in Galaxy Cluster? 'Dark Core' May Not Be So Dark After All :
Astronomers were puzzled earlier this year when NASA's Hubble Space Telescope spotted an overabundance of dark matter in the heart of the merging galaxy cluster Abell 520. This observation was surprising because dark matter and galaxies should be anchored together, even during a collision between galaxy clusters.
Astronomers have abundant evidence that an as-yet-unidentified form of matter is responsible for 90 percent of the gravity within galaxies and clusters of galaxies. Because it is detected via its gravity and not its light, they call it "dark matter."
Now, a new observation of Abell 520 from another team of astronomers using a different Hubble camera finds that the core does not appear to be over-dense in dark matter after all. The study findings were published in The Astrophysical Journal.
"The earlier result presented a mystery. In our observations we didn't see anything surprising in the core," said study leader Douglas Clowe, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at Ohio University. "Our measurements are in complete agreement with how we would expect dark matter to behave."
Hubble observations announced earlier this year by astronomers using Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 suggested that a clump of dark matter was left behind during a clash between massive galaxies clusters in Abell 520, located 2.4 billion light-years away. The dark matter collected into a "dark core" that contained far fewer galaxies than would be expected if the dark and luminous matter were closely connected, which is generally found to be the case.
Because dark matter is not visible, its presence and distribution is found indirectly through its gravitational effects. The gravity from both dark and luminous matter warps space, bending and distorting light from galaxies and clusters behind it like a giant magnifying glass. Astronomers can use this effect, called gravitational lensing, to infer the presence of dark matter in massive galaxy clusters. Both teams used this technique to map the dark matter in the merging cluster.
Clowe's team used Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) to measure the amount of dark matter in the cluster. ACS observed the cluster in three colors, allowing the astronomers to distinguish foreground and background galaxies from the galaxies in the cluster. From this observation, the team made an extremely accurate map of the cluster's dark matter. "With the colors we got a more precise selection of galaxies," Clowe said.
The astronomers estimated the amount of dark matter in the cluster by measuring the amount of gravitational "shear" in the Hubble images. Shear is the warping and stretching of galaxies by the gravity of dark matter. More warping indicates the presence of more gravity than is inferred from the presence of luminous matter, therefore requiring the presence of dark matter to explain the observation. "The WFPC2 observation could have introduced anomalous shear and not a measure of the dark matter distribution," Clowe explained.
Using the new camera, Clowe's team measured less shear in the cluster's core than was previously found. In the study the ratio of dark matter to normal matter, in the form of stars and gas, is 2.5 to 1, which is what astronomers expected. The earlier WFPC2 observation, however, showed a 6-to-1 ratio of dark matter to normal matter, which challenged theories of how dark matter behaves.
"This result also shows that as you improve Hubble's capabilities with newer cameras, you can take a second look at an object," Clowe said.
|3D Picture of Movie-News|
Click on Movie Poster or Name to Watch Movie Trailer on You tube.
Movie Release This Week:
|Dino Time 3D:|
1) Dino Time 3D:
Story follows the adventures of three kids who time travel back 65 million years to the nest of a T-Rex who accepts them as her own. The trio must find their way back home before the real T-Rex eggs hatch.
2) Deadfall :
Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde star as two fugitive siblings who come across a boxer (Charlie Hunnam) who was recently released from prison. Treat Williams and Kate Mara will play a father and daughter who become involved in the plot. Sissy Spacek and Kris Kristofferson will play the boxer's parents.
|Playing for Keeps|
3) Playing for Keeps:
Gerard Butler, Jessica Biel, Uma Thurman, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Dennis Quaid star in “Playing For Keeps,” a romantic comedy about a charming, down-on-his luck former soccer star (Butler) who returns home to put his life back together. Looking for a way to rebuild his relationship with his son, he gets roped into coaching the boy’s soccer team. But his attempts to finally become an “adult” are met with hilarious challenges from the attractive “soccer moms” who pursue him at every turn. "Playing For Keeps" is directed by Gabriele Muccino, the director of "The Pursuit of Happiness."
|Bad Kids Go to Hell|
4) Bad Kids Go to Hell :
On a stormy Saturday afternoon, six students from Crestview Academy begin to meet horrible fates as they serve out their detentions. Is a fellow student to blame, or perhaps Crestview's alleged ghosts are behind the terrible acts?
|Waiting for Lightning|
5) Waiting for Lightning:
The story of Danny Way, a young boy from a broken home in Vista, CA, whose passion for skateboarding would one day bring him and his creation, a ramp of prodigious and dangerous proportions, across many cultural and ideological boundaries to attempt the impossible: jump China’s Great Wall on a skateboard. It’s a film about how much abuse the body can sustain, how deep you have to dig to survive the betrayals of family, and how high and far dreams can fly.
|3D Picture of Political News|
Environment and Political News This Week:
|Japan earthquake sparks tsunami scare|
1) Japan earthquake sparks tsunami scare:
A 7.3-magnitude quake has struck off Japan's eastern coast, triggering a small tsunami and sparking evacuations.A one-metre wave hit Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture and many people heeded calls to move to higher ground before all alerts were later lifted.
The quake epicentre was about 245km (150 miles) south-east of Kamiashi at a depth of about 36km, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.Miyagi was hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.Swaying violently.The US-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center had said there was no threat to the wider Pacific Ocean but had warned a local tsunami could be destructive for local coastlines.
The US-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center had said there was no threat to the wider Pacific Ocean but had warned a local tsunami could be destructive for local coastlines. There have been no reports of deaths, injuries or serious damage, and all tsunami warnings were cancelled at 19:20 local time (10:20 GMT), broadcaster NHK said.Warnings of the tsunami height had varied between 50cm and 2m.
The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Tokyo says any such height would represent a far lower risk of devastation than the tsunami of up to 11 metres that struck in 2011 but that, since then, the country has clearly become jittery about any shaking of the earth.
The tsunami warnings had extended from the top of the main island of Honshu down towards Tokyo and evacuations were ordered from some of the affected areas.
With Japan's early warning system, NHK was able to break off its regular programming and issue an alert about the earthquake shortly before it struck.
A presenter on state broadcaster NHK then told viewers: "Remember last year's quake and tsunami. Call on your neighbours and flee to higher ground now!"
Buildings swayed violently in Tokyo.Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda cancelled campaigning for the 16 December election to return to his office.
Communications to Miyagi have proven difficult, with the high volume of telephone calls. Trains in the prefecture were halted and the runway at Sendai airport closed.English teacher John Heritage, who is in Tagajo in Miyagi Prefecture, told the BBC the earthquake was not as powerful as some he had experienced but was worrying as it went on so long.
He said: "The students were kind of worried. Normally they're pretty calm, but they looked concerned. Then the tsunami alarm started going off and we evacuated to higher ground."Jamie El-Banna, founder of It's Not Just Mud - a volunteer disaster relief organisation - said he joined the evacuation in Ishinomaki. He told the BBC: "We live less than a kilometre from the water so we went calmly as far back from the water as possible, which is what the advice is if you can't get to higher ground. Everyone evacuated in a calm, orderly way."
Other people reported being alerted to the earthquake prior to its arrival by Japan's mobile phone-based warning system.One tweeted that he was given 10 seconds and was able to slow his car before the shaking struck.The USGS reported at least six aftershocks, the strongest of which was 6.2 in magnitude.
The 9.0 magnitude quake that struck on 11 March 2011 caused a devastating tsunami and left more than 15,000 people dead, with more than 3,200 missing.
That quake triggered a meltdown of fuel rods at the Fukushima nuclear plant, causing radiation leaks and mass evacuations.The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power, told Agence France-Presse there were no reports of problems there this time, although workers had moved to higher ground.
|Government wins FDI battle by 21 votes, says reforms on track|
2) Government wins FDI battle by 21 votes, says reforms on track :
he UPA government Friday dealt a blow to the opposition by winning a Rajya Sabha vote on FDI in retail by 21 votes and declared that there was no stopping India's reforms process.
In contrast to speculation that the government may lose the vote in the upper house, the victory proved pretty easy as the Samajwadi Party (SP) trooped out - like in the Lok Sabha Wednesday - while the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) voted for foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail.
As a disappointed opposition claimed 'moral victory' on the strength of the speeches made in the house over two days, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said after the vote: 'Our reforms are on track.'
Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, the main speaker for the government on the contentious issue, took on the opposition after it said the FDI did not have the support of most MPs even if the final vote went in favour of the treasury benches.
'We challenge them,' he said. 'If we are a minority government, let them bring a no-confidence motion (against us).'
Initially there some confusion on the final voting figures and a scrutinyof voting recordwas carried out. In a late evening statement issued by Rajya Sabbha secretariat, it became clear that the opposition-backed motion against FDI in retail got 102 votes while the government managed 123. Nineteen members did not vote. They included nine who staged a walkout.
The earlier figure announced in the house after vote said that 109 members had voted in favour of the motion and 123 against it.Minutes before the voting process began, all nine SP members walked out, bailing out the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) - for the second time in three days.On Thursday, day one of the debate in the Rajya Sabha, Mayawati took on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and declared triumphantly that 15 MPs of her BSP would vote with the UPA government.
Both the BSP and SP provide legislative support to the Congress-led government.The government move to provide 51 percent foreign equity in multi-brand retail has long been a contentious issue, stalling almost the entire first two weeks of the winter session of parliament.
With Friday's vote, global names like Carrefour, Tesco and Wal-Mart can set up stores in India.Earlier, addressing the house during the debate, Anand Sharma denied accusations that the FDI decision was a unilateral one and said the government had talked 'to everyone, farmers, traders, consumers, states'.
Some sparks flew during the Rajya Sabha debate, with Sharma's reference to Rajya Sabha member N.K Singh kicking up a row and leading to an adjournment.Sharma spoke about Singh having chaired a panel on FDI during the NDA rule. Singh was then principal secretary to prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
After the parliament defeat, Communist leader D. Raja accused the UPA government of 'brazenly' identifying itself 'with multinationals and then claims it is with aam admi'. 'The sense of the house is against FDI.'
The AIADMK gave a 'solemn assurance' that the next central government would reverse the FDI decision.AIADMK leader V. Maitreyan, who moved the motion for the debate in the Rajya Sabha, said: 'FDI will only be on paper and will not be implemented in states.'
The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) announced a country-wide protest from Jan 1.CAIT general secretary Praveen Khandelwal told IANS that the voting by certain parties in both houses of parliament was a result of 'manipulative politics.
|BJP will continue to level charges against me: Ajit Pawar|
3) BJP will continue to level charges against me: Ajit Pawar:
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar on Friday said that he would take on the opposition BJP on any charges levelled against him, including his link to the over Rs.70,000 crore irrigation scam in the state.
In an interaction with the Business Standard newspaper soon after his re-induction in the Maharashtra Cabinet this morning, Pawar said he had every right to return to the office of deputy chief minister in the wake of a White Paper clearing him of all charges of collusion in the irrigation scam.
Rejecting the view that there were a couple of petitions related to the irrigation scam pending in several courts, he said: " Let me tell you one thing, the opposition will continue to level allegations. Anyone can file a PIL against anyone. If you say that unless the decision on a PIL comes out, the person should stay out of power, then no minister, no chief minister, even PM will be able to hold any position and work."
He said that he had taken the step to quit office on his own and without anyone's advice.
"I had taken a stand to keep myself away from the council of ministers when the water resources department was preparing the White Paper. The decision was also taken so as to not give any room to the opposition to level charges of interference against me during the preparation of White Paper. The White Paper has come out with all fact and figures, clarifying that there has been increase of 5.17 percent in irrigation potential and not merely 0.1 percent as observed in the Economic Survey. The expenditure of Rs 70,000 crore was not done at one go but it was spread over a decade," said Pawar.
Asked what his priorities would now be, Pawar said: "There is severe drought prevailing in a large number of talukas in the state. The first priority of the Maharashtra government is to help people who are facing water shortage. The opposition will never support us on such things."
|FDI will make our children sales boys and girls, says Arun Jaitley|
4) FDI will make our children sales boys and girls, says Arun Jaitley :
Strongly opposing foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said the policy will make India a country of "sales boys and sales girls". Stating that the entry of international retailing chains without correcting the manufacturing sector would eventually destroy production in the country, Jaitley said the coming generations would be left with little options.
"The essence is that domestic retail sources products locally; international retailers source internationally...They buy from the cheapest market," the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said during the debate on FDI in multi-brand retail in the Upper House of Parliament. "When we open our market to foreign retailers without reforms in manufacturing, what will happen? The first to be affected will be jobs in manufacturing sector. We (will) cease to be a manufacturing nation. We will be consumers and our children will be sales boys and sales girls," he said.
Jaitley also questioned the government's claim that the policy would create more jobs. "You say retail FDI will give 10 million jobs. But how many livelihoods will be lost? See the situation of America. Before organised retail came in 1979, there were 19.5 million people employed in retail. Today, it is 11.5 million. The reason is clear," he said.
He rejected the government's argument that the policy would benefit the farmers. "(Law minister) Ashwini (Kumar) said farmers need retail FDI. The basis of argument is that there are a lot of middlemen. If middlemen are removed, farmers will benefit.
"But see the situation of farmers in the US. They should have been affluent. But the US government has to give subsidy of $400 billion per year because farmers are not getting enough prices for their produce," he said. "The problem is that small middlemen are removed and a super affluent middleman replaces them."
Jaitley also mentioned that so far, there was not even a single Walmart store in the Manhattan area of New York, one of the most developed urban centres of the US. "Because the New York mayor knew that if a Walmart store opened, many small businesses around will close and if so many people suffer, he will lose his post. Same will happen with the government here," he said.
Jaitley also attacked the government for being in minority and called it a "lame duck" and underplayed its victory on voting on the issue in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday. "You cannot touch the 272 mark in the Lok Sabha. The government cannot see 254 as a win. When you are 18 short of majority, then you cannot run the government as you please. After that Lok Sabha figure, you are a lame duck government," Jaitley said.
He said the government was dependent on the support of others and would have to pay a huge price for this. "It is a costly support and every day you will have to pay a price. And we will see how that support will effect the country's administration in coming days," he said.
|UP fixes advisory prices for sugarcane to Rs.275-290|
5) UP fixes advisory prices for sugarcane to Rs.275-290 :
Uttar Pradesh's Samajwadi Party (SP) government Friday announced the state advisory price (SAP) - price at which sugar mills in the state are supposed to buy the cane from farmers - at Rs.275-290 per quintal for the current year.
A statement issued on behalf of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav said that Rs.290 per quintal price had been fixed for early variety crop while Rs.280 per quintal was for the normal crop.For the sub-standard crop, the farmers would be entitled to Rs.275 a quintal.
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) government led by Mayawati had kept the SAP at Rs.240-250 per quintal.The decision by the state government would mean that sugar mill owners will have to cough up Rs.21,000 crore as price for the sugarcane purchased through farmers - a sum Rs.3,300 crore more than the total amount paid to farmers in the last financial year.
The Akhilesh Yadav government has also increased the transport expense deduction by Rs.3 to Rs 8.75 per quintal this year.The delay in announcing the SAP had led to vocal protests by all opposition parties - the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress, BSP and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD). They accused the state government of ganging up with sugar mill owners and working against the interest of cane growers of the state.
|3D Picture of Sports News|
Sports News This Week:
|Indian boxing federation banned over elections|
1) Indian boxing federation banned over elections:
The Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) has been suspended by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) for "possible manipulation" of its elections, in the wake of a wider Olympic ban that has left sports in the Asian country reeling.
The IABF amended its constitution ahead of its September election to create the chairman's post to accommodate Abhay Singh Chautala at the end of his 12-year reign as the federation president.That paved the way for his unopposed election as president of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on Wednesday, a day after the IOC banned the body for allowing government interference in its poll.
Even though the AIBA suspension is a direct fallout of the Olympic ban, the Indian boxing federation's September election is now under investigation.
"This provisional suspension is also due to the fact that AIBA had learned about possible manipulation of the recent IABF's election," the governing body of amateur boxing said in a statement."AIBA will now investigate this election and especially a potential political link between IOA President, as former Chairman of the IABF, and the IABF election."
Compounding the pressure, India's sports ministry also announced on Friday that it had suspended the IABF, effectively cutting off the sport's government funding.
Indian boxing federation chief Abhishek Matoria claimed the AIBA suspension had come from out of the blue, but conceded the global governing body had enquired about their elections."It's a big, big shock for all of us," Matoria told Reuters on Friday."They suspended us without giving us a chance to explain. They did write a letter to us alleging 'malpractice' in election but never specified."We sent them a detailed explanation, point by point and I have no idea why they still suspended us.
"I can assure you we would do everything to make sure our boxers don't suffer. We'd approach AIBA and even IOC is required to revoke the suspension."The AIBA ban is a massive blow to Indian boxing, whose fighters were making regular podium finishes in international events.
"I am really disappointed with this suspension. This is bad news for Indian sportspersons," Vijender Singh, who won India's first Olympic boxing medal at the 2008 Beijing Games, told NDTV channel."I want to continue representing India in future but this news will affect the morale of the Indian boxers."The next AIBA event is quite far away but hopefully we would not sit on it for too long and get the suspension revoked as soon as possible."
|England takes 193 run lead over India at end of day three of Kolkata Test|
2) England takes 193 run lead over India at end of day three of Kolkata Test:
Captain Alastair Cook fell short of his third double-century by ten runs as England ground their way to a match-controlling lead of 193 runs over India on the end of third day of the third Test at Eden Gardens.Cook (190) laid the painstaking foundation in a stand of 173 with Jonathan Trott (87) for England to try to push for victory and establish a 2-1 series lead over the final two days.
But after Cook was run out in bizarre circumstances, Kevin Pietersen fell for 54 before he could provide the necessary acceleration to put India under optimum pressure.It therefore fell to others to chip England towards a stumps total of 509 for six in reply to 316 all out on a pitch just beginning to show signs of wear, with variable bounce and sharper turn offering second-innings promise to bowlers of all persuasions.
The England skipper's eight-hour epic was finally ended not by a bowler but a fielder, when Virat Kohli arrowed in a direct-hit throw from midwicket to run him out backing up.Cook's 377-ball stay, encapsulating of course his record-breaking 23rd English Test century, had still outlasted an equally unhurried Trott.
The second-wicket pair continued remorselessly this morning, although Cook needed one significant piece of good fortune on 156 when Ishant Sharma put down a straightforward return catch.Thanks largely to Cook's 23 fours and two sixes, England were in any case already handily in credit with power to add.
In Matt Prior and Graeme Swann, though, England still had the right men for the occasion to bolster the lead to 193 by the close.On yet another frustrating day for Indian bowlers, Pragyan Ojha was the leading wicket-taker with his 3/140, while Ishant Sharma and Ashwin managed a wicket each as Zaheer Khan bowled 29 wicketless overs.
|Liverpool, Steaua and Stuttgart advance|
3) Liverpool, Steaua and Stuttgart advance :
Five-times European champions Liverpool survived a late scare to move into the last 32 of the Europa League with a 1-0 win over Italian side Udinese on Thursday.
The Premier League club were joined by compatriots Tottenham Hotspur, former European champions Steaua Bucharest, VfB Stuttgart and Basel as the last five clubs through to the knockout stages.Inter Milan, already qualified, were astonishingly held to a 2-2 draw at home by Azerbaijan's Nefti Baku.
Nineteen-year-old Marko Livaja twice put the Serie A side ahead but Rashad Sadygov cancelled out the first goal and Chilean Nicolas Canales snatched a point with an 88th-minute header.Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson's first strike of the season after 23 minutes helped Liverpool to leapfrog Group A leaders Anzhi Makhachkala, though Antonio Di Natale blazed a good chance over the bar with the last kick of the game.
Udinese played the last 11 minutes with 10 men after Giovanni Pasquale's dismissal and Di Natale could have eliminated Liverpool altogether but he wasted a great late chance as Anzhi lost 3-1 at Young Boys in Berne.Liverpool, Anzhi and Young Boys all finished on 10 points but the Russians' better record over the Swiss club in a three-way head-to-head took them into the knockout stages along with the English group winners."We were in a difficult group with good teams," said Liverpool manager Brendan Rogers. "But the mentality of the team was very strong and our desire and belief was very strong. We won and that is good for our future."
Steaua's 10 men held Copenhagen 1-1 to progress as Group E winners on 11 points with Stuttgart in second on eight and level with the Danes but the Germans progressed owing to a better head-to-head record.Steaua were reduced to 10 men in the 49th minute when Cristian Tanase was sent off but took the lead through Raul Rusescu after 72 minutes, with Copenhagen exploiting their advantage only late on but to no avail.
Tottenham beat Panathinaikos 3-1 to take the final Group J slot behind winners Lazio who breezed to a 4-1 win at Maribor. Emmanuel Adebayor put Spurs ahead and Clint Dempsey and Jermain Defoe grabbed late goals to seal a convincing victory.
Basel's 0-0 draw at Group G's top club Racing Genk ensured that Hungary's Fehervar, whose match at Sporting was postponed to Friday due to a waterlogged pitch, went out.Holders Atletico Madrid, already assured of last-32 action, lost 1-0 to Viktoria Plzen to finish second by a point in Group B behind the Czechs.
Girondins Bordeaux won the battle for top spot over Newcastle United in Group D, the French club running out 2-0 victors to reach 13 points with the Premier League side on nine.In Group C, Fenerbahce had already made sure of top place ahead of Borussia Moenchengladbach while in Group F Ukraine's Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, 4-0 winners over AIK Solna, had secured first place ahead of Napoli, who lost 3-1 at home to PSV Eindhoven but still advanced.European champions Chelsea, knocked out of the Champions League on Wednesday, head the eight teams who failed to qualify from Europe's top-tier competition this week and will make up the 32 in the draw on December 20.
|Schumacher wrong to return, says Ecclestone|
4) Schumacher wrong to return, says Ecclestone :
Michael Schumacher should have stayed in retirement rather than risked his reputation in a disappointing Formula One comeback with Mercedes, Bernie Ecclestone said on Friday."I would rather he had stopped as a seven-time world champion than stopping now," the commercial supremo told the official formula1.com website.
"People new to the sport - people who have joined the F1 fan fraternity just recently - will remember Michael now, not as he was. They don't see the hero that he was but the human that can fail," added the 82-year-old.
Schumacher retired for the second time after finishing seventh in last month's season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix. In three years with Mercedes, he had only one podium finish and no wins to add to his record tally of 91.
The 43-year-old German had first retired in 2006, when he was with Ferrari and had won five titles in a row with them to add to the two championships he won with Benetton in the 1990s.Ecclestone, whose own future at the helm of the sport has been increasingly questioned as legal problems mount up and he gets older, drew a parallel with his own situation although he made clear he had no plans to retire.
"I think the important thing is...to know when you can't do what you used to do anymore and then hand it over to somebody else. I hope that's what I can do: when I feel I can't deliver, I will certainly say goodbye," he said.
"Probably the bad thing with me is that I put in lots of effort to build Formula One the way it is now, so this is my baby and I want to look after it. Sooner or later we're going to have to get a babysitter. When that will be, who knows? I am in very good shape."
Ecclestone said Formula One would continue to explore new frontiers, with Russia's Sochi the next new race to be added to the calendar in 2014 now that a grand prix in New Jersey had been postponed for 2013."I suppose the next big thing will be Russia. Then we have to get this New York thing picking up again. There's lots of unfinished business - no time to waste one thought on retirement," he said.
The Briton hailed the debut of a new race in Austin, Texas, this year as phenomenal and "perfectly prepared" and sent a warning to European circuits that they needed to sharpen up their act."Maybe we'll get the Europeans to wake up instead of thinking that it (a Formula One race) is a God-given thing. When Europeans perform and do their job we are happy to stay," he said.