Sarah Geronimo’s ‘Tala’ enters Billboard’s world digital song sales chart P260,000 each in aid to displaced Marawi folk released by US Tim Cone still willing to coach Gilas but admits decision won’t be ‘simple yes or no’ BACOLOD CITY—Spanish striker Bienve Maranon kept his impressive scoring run to propel Ceres Negros past Persija Jakarta, 1-0, on Wednesday night in the AFC Cup before close to 6,000 fans at Panaad Stadium here.Maranon got behind the Persija defense to head home a teasing ball from Martin Steuble in the ninth minute as the Busmen opened up a five-point gap at the top of Group G.ADVERTISEMENT Gretchen Barretto’s daughter Dominique graduates magna cum laude from California college ‘Duterte legacy:’ Gov’t boasts achievements so far Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. The two teams meet again on April 23 in Jakarta, but Ceres midfielder Stephan Schrock stressed the importance of taking maximum points at home against Indonesia’s biggest club.“It’s a massive win for us, especially considering that we only play every three weeks as our league has not started yet,” said Schrock.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGolden State Warriors sign Lee to multiyear contract, bring back ChrissSPORTSCoronation night?SPORTSThirdy Ravena gets offers from Asia, Australian ball clubs“To stay undefeated at the top of the group is very, very good. What we need to improve on is our match fitness but that’s hard because the league has not started. It’s a big challenge to get match fitness and get 90 minutes of hard competition.” Phivolcs: Slim probability of Taal Volcano caldera eruption Will you be the first P16 Billion Powerball jackpot winner from the Philippines? LATEST STORIES Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award Sarah Geronimo’s ‘Tala’ enters Billboard’s world digital song sales chart Read Next MOST READ Chicano thumps duathlon field Comelec assures no disruption in operations with retirement of execs View comments
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan ClarksonFounded in 2005 by former MIT Media Lab director Nicholas Negroponte, the One Laptop program has retreated from early boasts that developing-world governments would snap up millions of the pint-size laptops at $100 each. In a backhanded tribute, One Laptop now faces homegrown competitors everywhere from Brazil to India – and a full-court press from Intel Corp.’s more power-hungry Classmate. But no competitor approaches the XO in innovation. It is hard drive-free, runs on the Linux operating system and stretches wireless networks with “mesh” technology that lets each computer in a village relay data to the others. Mass production began last month and Negroponte says he expects at least 1.5 million machines to be sold by next November. Even that would be far less than Negroponte originally envisioned. The higher-than-initially-advertised price and a lack of the Windows operating system, still being tested for the XO, have dissuaded many potential government buyers. Peru made the single biggest order to date – more than 272,000 machines – in its quest to turn around a primary education system that the World Economic Forum recently ranked last among 131 countries surveyed. Uruguay was the No. 2 buyers of the laptops, inking a contract for 100,000. ARAHUAY, Peru – Doubts about whether poor, rural children really can benefit from quirky little computers evaporate as quickly as the morning dew in this hilltop Andean village, where 50 primary school children got machines from the One Laptop Per Child project six months ago. These offspring of peasant families whose monthly earnings rarely exceed the cost of one of the $188 laptops – people who can ill afford pencil and paper much less books – can’t get enough of their “XO” laptops. At breakfast, they’re already powering up the combination library/videocam/audio recorder/music maker/drawing kits. At night, they’re dozing off in front of them – if they’ve managed to keep older siblings from taking over the coveted machines. “It’s really the kind of conditions that we designed for,” Walter Bender, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology spinoff, said of this agrarian backwater up a precarious dirt road. Negroponte said 150,000 more laptops will get shipped to countries including Rwanda, Mongolia, Haiti, and Afghanistan in early 2008 through “Give One, Get One,” a U.S.-based promotion ending Dec. 31 in which you buy a pair of laptops for $399 and donate one or both. The children of Arahuay prove One Laptop’s transformative conceit: that you can revolutionize education and democratize the Internet by giving a simple, durable, power-stingy but feature-packed laptop to the worlds’ poorest kids. “Some tell me that they don’t want to be like their parents, working in the fields,” first-grade teacher Erica Velasco says of her pupils. She had just sent them to the Internet to seek out photos of invertebrates – animals without backbones. Antony, 12, wants to become an accountant. Alex, 7, aspires to be a lawyer. Kevin, 9, wants to play trumpet. Saida, 10, is already a promising videographer, judging from her artful recording of the town’s recent Fiesta de la Virgen. “What they work with most is the (built-in) camera. They love to record,” says Maria Antonieta Mendoza, an Education Ministry psychologist studying the Arahuay pilot to devise strategies for the big rollout when the new school year begins in March. Before the laptops, the only cameras the kids at Santiago Apostol school saw in this population-800 hamlet arrived with tourists who visit for festivals or to see local Inca ruins. Arahuay’s lone industry is agriculture. Surrounding fields yield avocados, mangoes, potatoes, corn, alfalfa and cherimoya. Many adults share only weekends with their children, spending the work week in fields many hours’ walk from town and relying on charities to help keep their families nourished. When they finish school, young people tend to abandon the village. Peru’s head of educational technology, Oscar Becerra, is betting the One Laptop program can reverse this rural exodus to the squalor of Lima’s shantytowns four hours away. It’s the best answer yet to “a global crisis of education” in which curricula have no relevance, he said. “If we make education pertinent, something the student enjoys, then it won’t matter if the classroom’s walls are straw or the students are sitting on fruit boxes.” Indeed, Arahuay’s elementary school population rose by 10 when families learned the laptop pilot was coming, said Guillermo Lazo, the school’s director. The XOs that Peru is buying will be distributed to pupils in 9,000 elementary schools from the Pacific to the Amazon basin where a single teacher serves all grades, Becerra said. Although Peru boasts thousands of rural satellite downlinks that provide Internet access, only about 4,000 of the schools getting XOs will be connected. Negroponte says One Laptop is committed to helping Peru overcome that hurdle. Without Internet access, he believes, the program is incomplete. Teachers will get 2 days of training on the laptops, Becerra said. Each machine will initially be loaded with about 100 copyright-free books. Where applicable, texts in native languages will be included, he added. The machines will also have a chat function that will let kids make faraway friends over the Internet. The XO machines are water resistant, rugged and designed to last five years. They have no fan so they won’t suck up dust, are built to withstand drops from a meter and a half and can absorb power spikes typical of places with irregular electricity.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
Tim Bauer wins 138-pound championship for RocketsBy Paul LeckerSports ReporterMERRILL — Tim Bauer won the 138-pound title, and five others placed third as the Spencer/Columbus Catholic wrestling team won the team championship at the Bluejay Challenge on Saturday at Merrill High School.Bauer improved to 17-3 by beating Stetson Potrykus of Wittenberg-Birnamwood 6-2 in the 138-pound title match.Six Rockets lost in the semifinals, and five of them came back to win the third-place match. Taking third for Spencer/Columbus were Bryce Shaw at 126, Nathan Neumann at 160, Hunter Hildebrandt at 170, Hunter Luepke at 185, and Logan Zchernitz at 285. Carson Hildebrandt finished fourth at 152.Spencer/Columbus’ next match is Thursday at Eau Claire Regis.(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)Bluejay ChallengeJan. 9, at Merrill High SchoolTeam scores: 1. Spencer/Columbus Catholic 424.5; 2. Sun Prairie 403; 3. Wittenberg-Birnamwood 399; 4. Barron 363; 5. Merrill 341; 6. Escanaba (Mich.) 321; 7. Tomahawk 286.5; 8. Lakeland 285; 9. Oconto 264; 10. Marathon 242; 11. Amherst 203; 12. La Crosse Aquinas 176; 13. Crandon 175; 14. Southern Door 157.5; 15. Waukesha West 142.5; 16. Almond-Bancroft/Pacelli 125; 17. Three Lakes 116; 18. Mosinee 88; 19. Tri-County 58; 20. Elcho 56.Championships and Spencer finishers106: Championship – Nathan Franke (MAR) def. Wyatt Thiel (SP) 10-8; Fifth place – Jake Dick (SC) pinned Alex Cox (BAR) in 2:29.113: Championship – Josh Ehster (MOS) def. Aiden Wusterbarth (OC) 6-2.120: Championship – Drew Scharenbrock (SP) won major dec. over Logan Walker (SD) 13-0; Fifth place – Dominick Wichlacz (SC) pinned Courege Krueger (ESC) in 2:30.126: Championship – Devon Schultz (MER) def. Tyler Nelson (SP) 8-5; Third place – Bryce Shaw (SC) def. Tyler Wusterbarth (OC) 8-5.132: Championship – River Pawelski (SD) def. Elton Kelsey (OC) 3-1; Fifth place – Austin Post (SC) def. Jack Scandin (LAK) 4-3.138: Championship – Tim Bauer (SC) def. Stetson Potrykus (WB) 6-2.145: Championship – Jake McClintock (LAK) def. Zach Urquhart (WB) 2-1; Seventh place – Caden Schillinger (SC) def. Matt Turkowitcz (TOM) 5-0.152: Championship – Shane Gantz (WW) def. Tanner Pettit (MER) 7-3; Third place – Ethan Reid (LCA) won major dec. over Carson Hildebrandt (SC) 13-3.160: Championship – William Waldofski (BAR) pinned Griffin Magee (WB) in 1:00; Third place – Nathan Neumann (SC) def. Joe Sedivy (MAR) 13-6.170: Championship: Bryce Holderman (AM) pinned Will Van Pietersom (SP) in 0:28; Third place – Hunter Hildebrandt (SC) def. Jordan Schneeberger (MAR) 18-11.182: Championship: Quinn Wallenfang (TOM) won major dec. over Gavin Sneller (AM) 9-0; Seventh place – Dyan Bukovic (CRN) pinned Elijah Welsh (SC) in 2:15.195: Championship – August Peplinski (WB) def. Kaleb Kaminski (TOM) 3-2; Third place – Hunter Luepke (SC) def. Max Villnow (AM) 5-2.220: Championship – Dane Borchardt (TOM) def. Sam Presser (SP) 11-4.285: Championship – Cole Warzynski (ABP) pinned Mohammed Hoque (ESC) in 2:43; Third place – Logan Zschernitz (SC) def. Jacob Mohr (MAR) 7-0.
The Alabama Department of Revenue has repealed and replaced its apportionment rules for corporate income taxpayers, effective June 25, 2016. The new multistate tax rules are promulgated to reflect the correct LRS numbering format, amendments to the Multistate Tax Commission (MTC) rules as approved by the MTC executive committee, technical corrections, and statutory changes. Some of the changes are set forth below.Business income. The definition of business income has been up updated to reflect legislative changes by Act 2001-1113, providing that business income is income arising from transactions or activity in the taxpayer’s trade or business.Payroll factor. For purposes of determining a taxpayer’s payroll factor, a leased employee is an employee of the client (lessee) organization. A leased employee is also treated as an employee of the employee leasing company. The rules also provide guidance for temporary employees by specifying that compensation paid for personal services provided to client companies by employees of temporary help agencies is included in the payroll factor of the temporary agency and is generally excluded from the payroll factor of the client company. Finally, in order to prevent distortions in the payroll factor, the Commissioner may require compensation paid to a related member’s employee to be included in the payroll factor of a taxpayer regardless of which entity actually paid the compensation.Property factor. Intangible drilling and development costs are included in the property factor whether or not they have been expensed for either federal or state tax purposes. Also, for purposes of the valuation of rented property, “annual rent” does not include royalties based on extraction of natural resources, whether represented by delivery or purchase.Sales factor. The rules are updated to reflect statutory changes including double weighted sales and market based sourcing. Special rules address liquid assets. Also, the provision that excludes, from the sales factor, substantial amounts of gross receipts that arise from incidental or occasional sale of a fixed asset used in the regular course of the taxpayer’s trade or business has been removed.Petition for alternative method. Specific guidance is provided for a taxpayer that petitions to use an alternative method of allocation or apportionment. Petitions must be in written form and submitted directly to the attention of the Department Secretary. A petition attached to an original or amended return will not be considered a valid petition. If the department processes a return that uses an unapproved alternative method that does not mean the department has accepted the taxpayer’s proposed alternative method. The department will notify the taxpayer, in writing, that an alternative method has been approved. The taxpayer may then file an amended or original return utilizing the approved alternative method. Proposed alternative methods not approved within 90 days of the post mark date of the petition are denied unless the taxpayer and the department agree in writing to extend the time period. In order to appeal the denial of a petition, the taxpayer should file an amended return using the proposed alternative method. If that return involves a petition for a refund the taxpayer may appeal its denial or deemed denial of its petition for refund either to the Alabama Tax Tribunal or Circuit Court.Special industry rules. The MTC special industry rules, including airlines, construction contractors, publishing, railroads, television and radio broadcasting, trucking companies, and telecommunications and ancillary service providers have been adopted.Rules 810-27-1.01, 810-27-1.02, 810-27-1.09 through 810-27-1.19, Alabama Department of Revenue, effective June 25, 2016
CCH Tax Day ReportKansas sales and use tax on sales of tangible personal property and services purchased during calendar years 2017 and 2018 necessary to reconstruct, repair, or replace any fence used to enclose land devoted to agricultural use that was destroyed by wildfires that occurred during calendar years 2016 and 2017 is waived through an exemption and refund program. Under the exemption certificate program, any person who contracts for such reconstruction, repair, or replacement is required to get an exemption certificate from the Kansas Department of Revenue for the project involved. The exemption certificate will allow the person or contractor to purchase materials and lease machinery and equipment for such a project. In addition, persons or contractors who perform such work are required to provide the certificate number to all suppliers, and those suppliers are required to execute invoices with that certificate number. Upon completion of the project, the contractor must provide to the person that obtained the exemption certificate a sworn statement, on a form to be provided by the Director of Taxation, that all purchases made were entitled to the exemption. Under the refund program, individuals who purchase fencing materials to be used in the reconstruction of fences surrounding agricultural land on or after January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2018, may apply for a sales tax refund. Those individuals will need a sales receipt or invoice that shows the amount of sales tax paid on the purchases.H.B. 2387, Laws 2017, effective March 23, 2017
During the darkest months of the West African Ebola epidemic in 2014, scientists were almost empty-handed. Hundreds of patients were dying every week; drugs and vaccines weren’t ready for testing. There was another strategy they could try, however: taking blood from people who had already survived Ebola and giving it to those who were sick. Blood from survivors is laden with antibodies against the virus that might just help new victims overcome Ebola as well. But a new study suggests the approach doesn’t work, and some scientists say it’s time to bury the idea and move on.Passive immunotherapy, as the strategy is called, has proven its merit with other diseases, including influenza and diphtheria, but whether it worked with Ebola was unknown. A study during the 1995 Ebola outbreak in Kikwit, in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, showed that seven out of eight patients who received blood from survivors survived, but a later analysis showed that most of them received the transfusions late in their disease, when they were unlikely to die anyway. A 2007 study in which monkeys received convalescent blood showed no benefit. “Given these discouraging results and the risks of transmitting infection, whole-blood transfusions, even under desperate epidemic conditions, seem unwarranted,” the authors of that paper warned.When Ebola exploded in West Africa in 2014, and patients were dying in large numbers, the World Health Organization said it was worth trying anyway—especially because candidate drugs were in short supply.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)The new study, led by researchers at the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, Belgium, and Guinea’s National Blood Transfusion Center, didn’t use blood but plasma—essentially blood minus the red blood cells. (The cells are given back to the donors.) The logistics were daunting: A huge blue bus chockful of equipment to obtain and process blood was shipped in from abroad. Survivors were mobilized and convinced to donate plasma—not an easy task in West Africa, where blood is a symbol of strength.The researchers hoped to recruit 130 patients; because the epidemic was already on the retreat when their study started, they managed to administer plasma to only 99 people, 15 of whom were excluded from the analysis for various reasons. (Guinea had its last Ebola case in October.) Because withholding a potential treatment was unacceptable to regulators and the local population, there was no placebo group, says lead author Johan van Griensven; instead, the control group was formed by 418 patients treated at the same center in the five previous months.Of the 84 patients eventually included in the plasma group, 31% died, compared with 38% in the control group—a difference of 7%. When the researchers adjusted the data to correct for patient age and virus levels in their blood, the difference shrunk to 3%, and it was no longer statistically significant, the team reports today in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).The researchers haven’t entirely given up on the idea that plasma might work, however. They didn’t determine the antibody levels in the plasma that they administered; those measurements are now being done at a high-level biosafety lab in France. It’s still possible that plasma from some donors with high levels of antibody—or particularly powerful antibodies—was effective, Van Griensven says. “This is not the end of the convalescent plasma story,” says Calum Semple, a clinical virologist at the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom and a co-author on the study. (The fact that administering plasma was possible in the midst of an outbreak, and that the treatment was safe and acceptable to donors and patients, is an important feat in itself, he says.)The trial’s disappointing outcome is “not very surprising,” says virologist Thomas Geisbert of the University of Texas Medical Center in Galveston, one of the authors of the 2007 monkey study. He says doing the study didn’t make much sense in the first place, and now it’s time to let go of the idea altogether.Geisbert’s hopes are on treatments that did do well in animal studies, including a lab-made cocktail of antibodies called ZMapp that protected monkeys from Ebola. A field trial of ZMapp that has enrolled around 70 patients in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and the United States is ongoing; whether that cohort is large enough to produce definitive results is still unclear.A second study published in NEJM today provides hints, but no solid evidence, about another strategy that might work against Ebola. The paper is based on a natural experiment: In August 2014, an Ebola treatment center in the Foya, in northern Liberia, ran out of the first-line malaria therapy, a combination called arthemeter-lumefantrin, that was given to all Ebola patients admitted to the center. For 12 days, until new supplies arrived, the center relied on another drug combo named artesunate-amodiaquine.As it happens, a screening published in 2013 showed that amodiaquine has anti-Ebola activity in the test tube. So researchers set out to see whether patients on the new malaria drugs had a higher chance of survival. They did: In the NEJM paper, the team shows that 51% of the patients died during the 12-day interval, compared to 64% of those in the periods before and after the stock-out.It’s not clear that amodiaquine saved patients from Ebola, however, the researchers write. One possibility is that the drug doesn’t do anything, but that arthemeter-lumefrantrine increases the risk of death instead. It’s also possible that the patients in the 12-day interval somehow differed from those who came earlier or later. Still, if malaria treatment is a standard component of Ebola care, artesenate-amodiaquine may be the better choice, the team writes. “It’s definitely an interesting finding,” says Robert Garry of Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana—but more work is needed on the anti-Ebola effects of amodiaquine, he says.
A move to confer an honorary doctorate on world chess champion Vishwanathan Anand was on Tuesday embroiled in a raging controversy over his citizenship, forcing him to decline the honour at least for now.After the Union Human Resource Development Ministry raised doubts over the nationality of Anand, who holds an Indian passport but lives in Spain, the University of Hyderabad had to delay the function to confer the honour on him.With his ministry’s name figuring in the controversy, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal spoke to Anand and is understood to have urged him to accept the award.But after media reported the delay, the University of Hyderabad decided to confer the doctorate to Anand at a function on Tuesday night.”We are ready to award the honorary doctorate to Anand. The doctorate has only been delayed and not denied as the HRD Ministry has raised doubts over the chess champion’s nationality,” Head of Mathematics Department in the University Rajat Tandon told PTI.”We learnt somewhere in July this year that the HRD Ministry is suspecting Anand’s nationality. We sent several clarifications to them but still they have not cleared the file related to the award of honorary doctorate,” he said.Coinciding with the International Conference on Maths currently on here, the University was planning to honour Anand along with Harvard University mathematician David Mumford.In the wake of the controversy, Tandon said the university planned to hold a function tonight to honour Anand but the champion declined to accept it in view of the controversy.advertisementStating that they were left “extremely embarrassed” over the entire issue, Tandon, also the organizing secretary of the ongoing International Congress of Mathematicians, apologised to Anand over this.
On the third day of the third cricket Test in Perth, Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni , 30, kept the door of his $200-a-day Hyatt Regency hotel room open for more than two hours. It was Team India ‘s third straight loss in the four-Test series. Two teammates stepped in,On the third day of the third cricket Test in Perth, Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni , 30, kept the door of his $200-a-day Hyatt Regency hotel room open for more than two hours. It was Team India ‘s third straight loss in the four-Test series. Two teammates stepped in to ask if he was expecting any visitors. “I am expecting all of you. May we discuss why we are in this mess?” he said. No one dropped in.Perhaps the cricketers, having already lost the Test series 0-3, were thinking of the auction for the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), scheduled in Bangalore on February 4. In the T20 capital of the world, ipl earnings have become critical for top players since the cash-rich league started in 2008. What began as a frivolity has become the primary interest of cricketers tempted by wealth rather than motivated by national pride. The brand value of ipl in 2011 was $3.67 billion (Rs 18,350 crore), according to a Brand Finance report. The sideshow appears to be taking over the main event.In 2011, Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar, 38, earned Rs 9 crore each from playing the fourth edition of IPL for Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians respectively, while Gautam Gambhir, 30, who captained Kolkata Knight Riders, earned the highest last year, Rs 11 crore. This was almost five times the amount they would have earned from playing Tests, one-day internationals (ODI) and T20s in 2011. Top Indian players in Grade A get an annual retainership of Rs 1 crore and earn Rs 7 lakh per Test, Rs 4 lakh per odi and Rs 2 lakh per T20 match. In 2011, some cricketers played, on an average, 15 Tests and 30 odis, earning a maximum of Rs 2.25 crore in match fees.advertisementMahendra Singh DhoniIn this new commercial culture of the game, there is little incentive for good players to raise their game and become members of the elite club, Team India. Take Yusuf Pathan, 29, who is yet to play a Test but earned Rs 10 crore by playing ipl for Kolkata Knight Riders in 2011. Or Robin Uthappa, 26, uncapped in Tests and who played his last odi game in 2008. He earned Rs 10 crore from Pune Warriors. Contrast ipl earnings with what cricket boards hand out to their players. Cricket Australia’s highest paid player gets around Rs 7 crore. The maximum annual contract fee paid by the England and Wales Cricket Board is Rs 3 crore. Fast bowler Umesh Yadav, 24, is a classic example of divided loyalties bred by divided royalties. He is a Grade C player in the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) contract system and gets Rs 25 lakh a year. In 2011, he earned Rs 3 crore by playing for Delhi Daredevils. His ipl value in 2012 will multiply after his impressive showing in Australia. At its best, IPL can be a force multiplier for a young cricketer with promise. At its worst, it can be a deterrent to performance for a player who is avaricious and lazy.Cricketers alone are not attracted to IPL lucre. So is their governing board, the BCCI. In 2010-11, BCCI earned Rs 1,667 crore in revenue-Rs 973 crore came from ipl. Sixty per cent of BCCI revenues come from TV and TV loves the Indian Paisa League. IPL-4 had an average TRP of 3.91, the lowest for any season. Even that was better than the depressing TRP figures for the first three Tests between India and Australia-0.89, 0.7 and 0.6. Set Max earned Rs 900 crore from IPL-4 from about 60 days of the intense cricket circus, with ad rates of Rs 1.5 lakh for 10 seconds. The India-England series, billed as a fiery face-off, earned Rs 100 crore for the broadcaster ESPN Star Sports, over 24 days of cricket at Rs 80,000 for every 10-second ad spot.”Even selectors know that the players want to earn the maximum as quickly as possible. No one is worried about Test losses,” says former Indian coach Aunshuman Gaekwad. “Everyone wants a slice of IPL,” adds former Indian bowler Manoj Prabhakar. “IPL brings loads of money, Tests only get you the contract money and match fee.”A sullen Team India after losing the last Test against Australia in Adelaide.IPL often breeds greed and it has led to angry debates when players appeared to have chosen club over country. Take Gambhir, who sustained a shoulder injury during the World Cup. He went on to play all 15 matches in IPL-4 despite knowing he was not fit. He then dropped out of the West Indies tour where he was to captain the ODI side and eventually had to return home after two Tests in England when the injury flared up.As if that was not enough in the deadly mix that is killing the soul of Indian cricket, there is ego. And it begins at the top, with the man who scripted India’s success at the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007, icc World Cup in 2011 and helped India become the No. 1 Test team in the world. After eight successive defeats in Tests (India lost 0-4 in England in 2011 immediately after the World Cup win and 0-4 in Australia), he is looking like a loser, and a sore one at that. Minutes after Australia pulverised India by an innings and 37 runs to wrap up the series in Perth, Dhoni refused to lead the team to the ground for the prize distribution ceremony. He had to be persuaded by coach Duncan Fletcher.advertisementClick here to EnlargeDefeat has turned the A-team of Alpha Males into a B-team of Bored Passengers. There is little camaraderie on the field, at the nets, or in the hotel. It hasn’t helped that some in Team India have openly aligned with vice-captain Virender Sehwag, 33, thinking he will soon be made skipper of the Test side. There have been several rumours to this effect but Dhoni has made no effort to tell bcci President N. Srinivasan that he is troubled by them. His attitude during defeats has also been distant. Once known for his morale-boosting SMSs to players, he has remained confined to his hotel room with wife Sakshi. Srinivasan is aware of the heightened talk about a rift. “I have heard of some ego issues in the dressing room. These two (Dhoni and Sehwag) are competent enough to iron out their differences, if any,” Srinivasan told India Today.But Dhoni’s unhappiness runs deeper. In private conversations with friends, the India captain has repeatedly expressed his frustration with the selectors led by former skipper K. Srikkanth. “I have often told him he should voice his concerns but doubt he will talk,” says Arun Pandey, Dhoni’s partner in Rhiti Sports Management, which handles his endorsements. “I wonder whether he can put things across bluntly. No one speaks his mind in the Indian cricket team,” argues Santosh Lal, longtime friend and member of the Jharkhand Ranji team.Dhoni has dropped broad hints. On the first day of the first Test against England in June last year, he unstrapped the wicket-keeping pads and started bowling after Zaheer Khan, 33, picked up a hamstring strain. Khan’s injury had left India with three specialist bowlers for the rest of the match. “It was risky to have an injury-prone Zaheer in a team that has four specialist bowlers,” says former India captain Kapil Dev. “Why can’t he speak to the selectors?”Click here to EnlargePerhaps because they don’t listen. Consider the England fiasco in August-September 2011. Despite his warnings not to include injury-prone cricketers, the selectors name Khan, Gambhir, Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, 31, and Harbhajan Singh, 31, in the squad. They were declared fit when their names were included. But trouble started almost immediately. Khan was the first to go after the hamstring injury, followed by Gambhir two Tests later. Sehwag, who batted with buds in his ears, was eventually diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss. More exits followed-Yuvraj, out with a fractured thumb, and Harbhajan, who picked up a hamstring injury. “Selectors must be answerable to the board,” says Gaekwad.In England, the Indian cricketers, having won the World Cup and having played the fourth edition of IPL, seemed complacent. Suddenly, Test cricket was not important for the cricketers. “England was one big party, it was not cricket,” says ESPN commentator Harsha Bhogle. The Indian team for the four-Test series Down Under was chosen on November 26 in Mumbai. Dhoni tried hard to push Tamil Nadu batsman Abhinav Mukund, 22, and Harbhajan, but both requests were turned down, as also his demand for a vote in the selection process. The five selectors-Mohinder Amarnath, Raja Venkat, Narendra Hirwani, Surendra Bhave and chief selector Srikkanth-were reluctant to remove “creaking gladiators” V.V.S. Laxman, 37, and Rahul Dravid, 39, from the side. Tendulkar was considered an automatic inclusion. Retaining all three is not mere sentiment. bcci knows television viewers tune in to watch familiar faces.advertisementDhoni’s leadership has suffered. Gone is the game-changer who, as former Australian skipper Ian Chappell puts it, “took bold decisions”. In its place is tentative experimentation. Dhoni went with an all-pace attack in the Perth Test, dropping off-spinner R. Ashwin, 25, to include debutant pacer Vinay Kumar, 27, who was pasted all over the ground. “Dhoni was definitely not in command in Australia,” former Indian coach Gary Kirsten told India Today from Cape Town.A frontline spinner, if included in the side, could have saved the day for the team at Perth. Much of the blame should be shared by the new bowling coach, South African Eric Simons. Head coach Fletcher has not helped with his stoic silence. Paddy Upton, the team’s motivational speaker, left with Kirsten. The fielding has been dodgy but no one questioned the role of fitness trainer Ramji Srinivasan. The team skipped practice as many as four times during the Test series. Pictures of them relaxing on the beachfront in Melbourne instead of sweating it out in training solidified the sense of drift.The message to the cricket fan is clear: wealth breeds indifference. Ironically, money may well be the imperative that wakes BCCI and persuades it to act before the slide becomes a swamp. The BCCI cannot make money out of a defeat-prone team. The BCCI working committee is meeting on February 12 and at the top of the agenda should be a list of fix-its. Sourav Ganguly, chairman of the BCCI technical committee and a commentator, has been asked to attend the meeting for a larger role in shaping national selection.Perhaps Dhoni sees in adversity an opportunity to ensure that BCCI splits the captaincy so that he can focus on the shorter versions of the game. That appears to be his plan, as evident from his comment on January 31: “Captaincy is just a position I hold. If there’s a better replacement, he can come in.” He had earlier hinted at retiring from Tests on January 12 to focus on the 2015 World Cup. There may be pressure from family. His father, Paan Singh, says in Ranchi that “my son will not cling to anything. I will ask him to quit. We have enough”. Also, as his first coach in Ranchi, Keshav Ranjan Banerjee, says, Dhoni has told him he has little patience for Test cricket. He certainly doesn’t want to keep wickets in Tests, says long-time friend in Ranchi, Shabbir Hussain. In fact, the BCCI annual general meeting in Kolkata on October 26, 2011, discussed the issue of split captaincy but did not come to any conclusion. There is talk though that Dhoni’s no-Test agenda has Srinivasan’s complete backing.So, will IPL kill Test cricket in India? It will definitely tire the players. Since the World Cup campaign ended on April 2, 2011, India have played 10 Tests, 20 ODIs, and three T20s. Australia, in contrast, have played seven Tests, 11 ODIs and two T20s. Don’t forget many of them have not had the distraction of attractive cheerleaders who are “walking porn”, glamorous after-parties and team owners determined to milk their investments. No wonder the champions of 2011 are looking like the hapless losers of 2012.-With Kaushik Deka