Friday, April 30, 2010

Nokia X2 Landing In India

NEW DELHI, INDIA - The Nokia X2 is going to be available in the Indian markets soon. The slim candy bar phone is meant for the music lovers and it is packed with cutting edge features. It has been announced in India and slated to hit the stores by June. The handset has a high gloss finish and curved back. The 2.2 inch color display is vibrant and the users would have no problem in seeing the screen in bright daylight. The phone has dedicated music keys and it features dual stereo speakers that ensure a decent music output. The phone can playback FM radio without the users requiring to plug in the headsets. This is really convenient for the users who do not want to use wires.Those who cannot get enough of music can access the Nokia Ovi Store with the Nokia X2 to download plenty of audio tracks. The phone also has a pretty good 5 MP camera that takes decent quality photos. For shooting in night it has a LED flash. The phone will be sold in two color schemes- Black and Red or Silver and Blue. It has an internal memory 0f 48 MB. The users can put in microSD card with a capacity of 16GB in it. The card slot is hot swappable, meaning the users would not have to turn the phone of and access its battery to insert the card.The Nokia X2 is expected to be priced lower than its high end siblings X3 and X6. The phone will offer great web browsing experience owing to its preloaded Opera Mini browser.

Kaziranga has distinction of having highest tiger density in the world : Study Report

Kaziranga National Park (KNP) of Assam has achieved unique distinction in tiger conservation front as it was found to have highest tiger density on Earth. Project Tiger was launched in the KNP in 2007.A joint study on monitoring tigers and prey animals in KNP was carried out by Assam Forest Department and Aaranyak, a society for biodiversity conservation in Northeast India. The report, officially released by Assam Environment and Forest minister , Rockybul Hussain at State Zoo here on Thursday. The report said that Kaziranga National Park has the highest density of tigers in the world. “It reveals that Kaziranga National Park has the highest density of tigers compared to any known tiger habitats anywhere in the world,” said the Minister.According to the study, which was conducted using the ‘camera trap’ method of tiger estimation and covered an area of 144 sq km of the central and western part of the park, there are 32 tigers per 100 sq km of park area. It also revealed that 39 individual tigers, including a one-year-old cub, were photographed in the study area during the 50 day photo-trapping exercise.“We believe that this study has rekindled the hope for the protection of the tiger which is fast disappearing from its range states throughout the world. It has also thrown up an opportunity to carry out an extensive tiger monitoring study covering the entire area of Kaziranga National Park”, added Hussain.The first phase of tiger census in the KNP was completed and second phase is on. In 2002 tiger census in the park, 86 adult tigers were found.Assam PCCF (Principal Chief Conservator of Forest), Suresh Chand said that the previously highest recorded density of tiger in a wildlife park was 19.6 tigers /100 sq km recorded in the Corbett Tiger Reserve in northern India. The usual density of tiger varies from 3-12 tigers/100 sq km in different tiger reserves throughout India. “Tigers’ density in the Kaziranga National Park is amazing. Efforts will continue to increase tigers’ population in Assam”, said the PCCF of Assam.Aaranyak’s biologist Firoz Ahmed who led the team in the field said that all tigers are unlikely to be photo-trapped in the study area and using scientific method called capture recapture, as many as 47 of tigers were estimated in the study area (144 km sq). The cubs below one year of age were eliminated in density analysis.The latest study confirms the belief that Kaziranga’s alluvial grassland provides optimal habitats for tigers. Earlier, Karanth and Nichols (1998) had indicated that tigers attained their highest possible density in Kaziranga. Ahmed informed that the present study, however, recorded almost twice the density of tigers in the park compared to the last estimation made by Karanth and Nichols.“One of the key reasons for the high tiger density in Kaziranga is an abundance of prey animals including hog deer, sambar, swamp deer and wild buffalo”, said Ahmed.What is a Camera Trap?A camera trap is an automated camera used to capture photographs of wild animals. A camera trap is installed in a site that a rarely-seen animal is expected to visit. When a motion or infrared sensor detects the presence of an animal, a photo is taken. After a period of time, a researcher will typically return to the camera to collect the photographs.Camera traps are an important tool used in researching rare, shy, or nocturnal animals. They generally do not disturb wildlife.Sometimes, cameras can be damaged by the animals themselves. People in the area may also damage, destroy or remove them, e.g. those who are caught hunting protected species on camera.

Tibetans in-exile celebrate 50 years of being in India

Dharamsala (Himachal Pradesh), Apr 29 (ANI): Tibetans in-exile celebrated fifty years of their stay along with their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, in Himachal Pradesh'sDharamsala town on Thursday.Scores of Tibetans in-exile living in the region today gathered at an event organized by a local organization where the Dalai Lama was welcomed as the Guest of Honour.While addressing the event, the Dalai Lama thanked Indians for providing asylum to him and thousands of Tibetans.Tibetan officials in-exile and other spiritual leaders were also present to grace the occasion."This is the programme of the Lion's Club of Dharamsala. They are honouring His Holiness and also a number of senior citizens on completing 50 years in Dharamsala, and other people and their various blessings," said Samdhong Rinpoche, Tibetan Prime Minister in-exile.Locals were also present to seek the blessings of their spiritual leader."We are here to welcome him on the completion of 50 years and for all people to be blessed by him and receive his blessings, and appreciate his contribution to the welfare of people and spiritual atmosphere, and bring Dharamsala on world map," said P Sharma, a local.The Dalai Lama has lived in Dharamsala with thousands of his followers ever since they fled their homeland after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.In 1950, Chinese troops marched into Tibet and occupied it. An estimated 134,000 Tibetans live in exile, a majority of them in India and Nepal.(ANI)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Manipur ADC polls in May

Imphal, April 26: The State Election Commission today issued notification for the first phase of autonomous district council elections in Manipur.Elections to six ADCs in the state’s five hill districts will be held in two phases.In the first phase, voters will exercise their right to franchise for district councils in Sadar Hills, Churachandpur and Chandel districts. Voting will be held from 7am to 3.30pm.The notification for polling for Ukhrul, Tamenglong and Senapati councils is expected in seven days’ time.The last date for filing of nomination for the first phase is May 3. Scrutiny will be held the next day while the last date for withdrawal of nomination is May 6.The notification issued by secretary, State Election Commission, Th. Chitra, said the election process for the first phase would be completed on or before June 16.Each of the district councils will have 24 members each and the chairperson will be elected by the new members.Chandel has 128 polling stations in five blocks, Sadar Hills in Senapati district has 169 polling centres in three blocks. Churachandpur has 255 polling booths in five blocks.Elections to the ADCs will be held for the first time in 20 years. Official sources said elections could not be held because of the process for amendment of Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council (Third Amendment) Act, 2008, delimitation process and revision of voter list.The amendment of the act, however, failed to satisfy the communities in the hill districts. The State Election Commission issued the notification as an economic blockade is on along the Imphal-Kohima and the Imphal-Jiribam national highways against the elections.The United Naga Council (UNC), the apex body of the Naga community in Manipur, and the Tribal Youth Council, a body formed by youths from various communities in the hill districts, have also been opposing the election.The UNC termed the government’s move as “indifferent and chauvinistic attitude” towards the hill people. “We see it as a deliberate attempt to strangulate the tribal peoples of their fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution. Having failed to understand the sentiments and to uphold the interest and wishes of the people by the government, including the Hill Areas Committee and Council of Ministers, we find no other option but to continue with our own course of action till the undesirable Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council Amended Act, 2008 is nullified and the election notification withdrawn,” a UNC statement issued tonight said. The MPP rejected the polls, maintaining that there was no reservation for women.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Winehouse ‘plans second honeymoon with ex-hubby Fielder-Civil’

LONDON - Amy Winehouse is planning a second honeymoon with ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil.The singer is said to be considering taking him to Havana.But the reason for choosing the place appears to have more to do with smoking than sun and sand.The couple has reportedly acquired a new habit - Cuban cigars.“Smoking cigars is their new thing. It all started when Amy bought a pack of Romeo y Julieta for Blake, because she thinks they’re also tragic lovers The Sun quoted a friend as saying.“Amy and Blake have been spending their time reading up on the history and the culture behind them. Amy, in particular, followed up their origin, in Cuba.“She thinks there’s a kind of romance to it and would love to go there with Blake. She wants to go away to celebrate them being back together properly.“It will be their second honeymoon. As soon as his curfew allows, they’ll be off,” the pal added. (ANI)

LG Watch Phone Lands In India

NEW DELHI, INDIA - It is not surprising to see mobile phones that perform various other tasks than making or receiving calls nowadays. There are plenty of models in the market that double up as music player and camera. However, it is not everyday that one comes across a touch screen phone that is built in a watch form factor. That is what the LG Watch phone is all about. It looks like a designer watch but inside there is a sophisticated phone brimming with cutting edge features. It weighs only 84 gram and hence one can wear it without straining his wrist. However, this is quite expensive at 40,000 INR and only the hardcore gadget freaks with deep pockets will opt for it.The LG Watch phone has been launched in India and it is available in LG flagship outlets across the country. The phone uses a capacitive type touch screen resulting in excellent feedback and it displays 256,000 colors. The resolution at 128 x 160 pixels is not much but then you have to consider its unique form factor. The UI is flash based and it is very responsive.The LG Watch Phone is water resistant which means one can use it in rain without any fear of damaging it. Its music playback capacity is also praiseworthy and there is an equalizer to customize the music quality as per the taste of the uses. The VGA camera is capable of making video calls. There are lots of connectivity options offered by this model. Apart from the GPRS and Edge, there is HSDPA for high sped web access.

Sony Dash To Battle iPad?

SAN FANCISCO - With Apple launching its much-hyped iPad and HP tying up with Microsoft to unleash its latest slate PC, can Sony be far behind? The Japanese Electronics giant, which is losing market share to Apple and rival Korean companies, is on a revival track and this year it is revealing a number of new breakthrough gadgets. Even before the market frenzy around its latest Monolithic design Bravia HDTVs could subside, the electronics behemoth has released Dash in the market. It is basically an Internet tablet but offers much more to the users. Sony Dash was shown at the CES a few months back for the first time. The device is being offered at a lucrative price of $200, which can give serious competition to the Apple iPad, which is quite expensive compared to Sony Dash. It has a nice 7-inch touch screen, which has a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels. It displays most Web Pages accurately. The device supports WiFi and so web browsing on the move is fairly easy for its users. The device is pretty powerful in the sense that it can playback video from Netflix and access social media applications without hiccup. However, it is not a net top since there is no such input device. The Dash also has accelerometer. Sony has also provided a headphone jack and a USB port so that you can connect other devices. At its core there is a Linux based OS. Funnily enough, there is an alarm clock with the device and snooze feature is also there. Maybe Sony has thought people will keep it by their bedside.

BJP files breach of priviledge motion against PM

New Delhi, Apr 27: BJP has filed a breach of priviledge motion against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for speaking about the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) outside the parliament.
The priviledge motion has been signed by 50 BJP MPs and has been sent to the Secretary General Office.

The Prime Minister had rejected the opposition's demand for a JPC probe into the phone tapping issue as well as the IPL controversy on Monday, Apr 26.

Both Houses of the parliament were earlier adjourned due to the ruckus created over the phone tapping scandal.

Bharat bandh disrupts air, road traffic

New Delhi, Apr 27: The Bharat bandh called by the non-UPA and non-NDA parties has dirupted normal life in Kerala, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa.Kolkata is said to be the worst-hit by the bandh as the airport bears a deserted look with only Air India flight in operation. More than 50 flights including those of Kingfisher has been cancelled.Tarin services has also been sirrupted due to the 12-hour nationwide bandh called by Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India -Marxist (CPI-M), Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), Samajwadi Party (SP).Several Kolkata-bound trains have been stuck which include-Kanchakanya at Burdwan, Kamrup Express at Sreerampur, Purbanchal Express at Baichi, Barbhanga Express at Pandua.In Kerala, the streets wear a deserted look as the public and private transports are taken off the road. There is a complete closure of shops, business establishment, schools and other educational institutions.Though there has been few stray reports of disruption of trains in some areas, the air traffic remained unaffected by the bandh.Meanwhile in Uttar Pradesh there has been report of Ganga Gomti Express being stopped by Samajwadi Party workers in Allahabad. Train services have been badly hit in different parts of Uttar Pradesh.Air and road traffic remains unaffected by the bandh, although there has been reports of protesters planning to disrupt trains and road service.

IPL scandal: India may end up being real loser

Mumbai, Apr.27 (ANI): The Indian Premier League (IPL) may be the biggest and brashest tournament cricket has ever seen, but the alleged behind the scenes financial irregularities may end up seeing India as the real loser, a report in The Times has claimed.According to the report, India has 1.2 billion people, many of them crazy about cricket. Most are growing wealthier and the number who can afford to buy satellite TV subscriptions and replica shirts is growing.More than that, for many Indians, the IPL is an emblem of their aspirations and proof of how the epicenter of the global economy is shifting East.It is also a symbol of what they believe India is destined to become: a true global power.In short, the IPL was an icon of a “New India” – one that was supposed to have shed the corruption, nepotism, cronyism and political patronage of the past.As the confetti settles on this year’s competition, however, the question is whether it is too big to fail.The suspension of Lalit Modi, the IPL’s fast talking creator and chief administrator, just minutes after the Chennai Super Kings vanquished the Mumbai Indians in an IPL final over allegations of money laundering, match-fixing, illegal betting, team auction manipulation, political corruption and multi-million dollar kickbacks, is likely to have a huge adverse impact.Modi has been given 15 days to answer allegations of financial impropriety. His suspension may have set the stage for a messy dissection of the scandal in which the IPL has been mired for the past fortnight.Modi has challenged the BCCI to justify its reasons for sacking him, suggesting that they are scared to face the truth.There is no doubt that the scandal has rocked India to its core.The resignation of Deputy Foreign Minister Shashi Tharoor a fortnight ago was a reminder of how cricket in the country is riddled with political patronage and worse.Tharoor, a favourite of Sonia Gandhi, was forced to step down when it emerged that a business consortium he had advised had given a 10-million-pound stake in a new IPL side to a woman widely reported to be his girlfriend.Having sacrificed Tharoor, the Government went out for revenge, unleashing its tax inspectors on anybody with an association with the IPL.The real target, however, has appeared to be Modi, who triggered the Tharoor scandal through a leak on the Twitter website. (ANI)

After govt yes, SC no for Lafarge

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to accede to the Centre's plea for lifting the ban on mining by French cement company Lafarge in Meghalaya's forests."Till the time necessary reports are submitted by the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), we are not inclined to accept the government report and permit the mining," a special forest bench headed by Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan said.It refused to allow Lafarge mine limestones in 116 hectare in East Khasi Hill districts on the basis of a hurriedly procured environment clearance certificate by the government.The SC on February 5 had stopped Lafarge from carrying out limestone mining in Meghalaya for its cement plant in Bangladesh on the basis of an MoEF report, which said the company was extracting minerals from the land falling in the forest area.The bench has now asked the government to conduct studies on four crucial aspects related to the flora and fauna and the biodiversity of the area in question where Lafarge is to mine.Awaiting these reports, the bench posted the hearing to July 2010.The studies and other things now asked by the court included a periodic assessment of the flora and fauna, a time-bond plan for conservation device for it, a comprehensive biodiversity conservation plan with provisions of time bound implementation to be prepared by a state agency and detailing sources of funding for the same.It also wanted the government to conduct study for feasibility of implementation of ‘surface minor technology' to reduce environmental impacts and degradations.The court is hearing a petition by Shella Action Committee representing local Shella tribe of the East Khasi Hills district, Meghalaya.

NCP leader shot dead

Unidentified gunmen shot dead the vice-president of the Nationalist Congress Party's (NCP) Manipur unit, in Imphal (east) district, on Sunday evening.Chungsei Haokip (60) was with a friend around 7 pm at a tea stall near his New Checkon residence when the assailants shot him from close range.Haokip was hit on the chest, while his friend, Haokhai Lupheng, hurt his right calf.Haokip's family rushed him to the district's JN Hospital, but doctors declared him brought dead.The police said they recovered 9 mm pistol bullets from the spot.The motive for the killing is not known. Haokip had contested assembly polls twice from Tengnoupal on a Rashtriya Janata Dal ticket before switching to the NCP. "I don't have any knowledge of who the attackers were as it (the shooting) happened all of a sudden," Lupheng said.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Assam rifles faces public ire in Manipur yet again

Once again there is public protest against the Assam Rifles is Manipur. This time for detaining and severe torture meted out to a youth who is an aspiring candidate in recruitment of Indian Army. Though the Assam Rifles reportedly maintained that the youth identified as 20 years old Neklalsiam Vaiphei from New Checkon in Imphal East was picked up due to mistaken identity, the Vaiphei Students’ Association and KSO, Imphal block has strongly condemned the illegal detention and third degree torture meted out to the youth as barbaric and have placed various charter of demands to the 28 AR reportedly involved in the incident, failing which the two student bodies has decided to resort to various agitations. This youth identified as Neklalsiam Vaiphei, an aspiring candidate in recruitment of Indian Army who has cleared the physical test and waiting for written exams was reportedly picked up by personals of 28 AR posted at Singjamei in Imphal West in the evening of April 22 without giving any arrest memo and remained missing till April 24. The youth who helps in running his family after the death of his father had been severely tortured using 3rd degree method by reportedly accusing him as a training instructor of the proscribed KYKL. The youth bore signs of torture at various parts of his body and was also reportedly given electric shock. Meanwhile, he was freed in the evening of April 24 after establishing that he was picked up due to mistaken identity. The youth narrated the ordeal he went through. Strongly condemned the act of the 28 AR as barbaric and unbecoming on the side of Indian Army, the Vaiphei Students’ Association and KSO, Imphal block strongly decried the branding of an aspiring candidate of Indian Army as a terrorist. The two student bodies further deplored that act was carried out within the Imphal municipality from where AFSPA is lifted and the highhanded act of the Assam Rifles should not be go with impunity. The two student bodies further placed various charter of demands including befitting punishment to officials involved in the act, proper medical and other compensation, providing of alternative means of livelihood as the youth hails from a poor family failing which the two student bodies has warned of various agitations with other like minded organizations if it is not met within 48 hours. With the latest incident of excesses committed by Assam Rifles to an innocent youth by picking up from a place where the Armed Forces Special Powers Act has been lifted and defying all legal provisions, the undisclosed intentions of security personals while carrying out counter insurgency operations has come to the fore again.

Swelling Brahmaputra, tributaries worsen flood scenario in Assam

From Sadiya in Upper Assam to Dhubri in the other end of the state, there is water water everywhere. The incessant rains since the past several weeks have brought back the miseries of the people. Situation in many flood prone districts is gone worse, like in every year. The world’s largest river island Majuli has suffered yet another deluge this year. Hundreds of acres of agriculture land has been submerged by the waters spilled from the mighty Brahmaputra. The farmers are the worst affected as crops and vegetables have been destroyed in the flood spree. As many as 20 villages have lost their early crops and in Lower Majuli also a large tract of cropland is under the water. The situation in the island is anything but perilous. Flood prone Dhemaji district has remained cut off from the rest of the country for the third day on Sunday. Road communication was snapped after about 150 metres of a national highway link road at Chamarajan was washed away by flood waters of Jiyadhol and Kumotiya rivers on Friday. Fed by the incessant rains the two rivers have become the cause of sorrow for the Dhemaji residents. With road surface communication snapped, even ferry people on boats have become dangerous. Even the Hume Pipes set up in place of a bridge served no purpose as within an hour the strong current dismantled all arrangements. As the Border Road Organisation looks helplessly to the worsening situation the district administration has no relief to offer to the marooned farmers and affected people. Apart from Dhemaji the worst hit districts so far are Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Jorhat, and Tinsukia. In Guijan area adjoining the Tinsukia town, the month long incessant rains have brought new areas under the flood waters. Already two persons had drowned in the Guijan river. Even the police station and the forest offices were flooded and had to be shifted of a panchayat office. In the absence of the police, timber smugglers have become active. At the world famous Dibru-Saikhowa National Park and adjoining areas, animals have fled to higher grounds for shelter. It is estimated that more nearly 2 lakh people have so far been displaced all over the state. Meranwhile, the water level of Brahmaoutra is rising due to incessant rainfall in the past two weeks. At present the mighty river is flowing 2.53 meter of danger level. The water level is rising 1 to 1.5 meter daily. Due to nonstop rainfall in the last two weeks, the water level of the Brahmapoutra started raising. According to Central Water Commission report, the water level of the river is raising 1 to 1.5 meter daily. On Saturday, the water level of the Brahmapoutra in Guwahati was 45.39 meter. It goes up to 46.97 meter on Sunday. Now only 2.53 meter rest for crossing the danger level in Guwahati i.e. 49.68 meter. According to CWC report the water level of the Brahmaputra is also raising in other parts of the state, In Dibrugarh, the river is flowing 1.16 meter above the danger level. The water level increased to 105.40 meter within two days. Similarly, in Tezpur, the Brahmaputra is flowing below the danger level. However, the water level increased to 53.47 meter on Sunday.

Deadly squall batters Assam Saturday night; over 10 killed, hundreds injured

A deadly squall with winds over 112 KMPH struck death in several parts of lower Assam and Guwahati city Saturday night. At least five persons were reported dead and more than 100 injured when high velocity winds blew off roof tops, uprooted trees and caught the people unaware last evening. At least 5 persons died and over 100s were wounded as the second thunderstorm lashed Assam Saturday evening. Capital Guwahati was among the severely hit areas by what weather scientists call Squall. Several lower Assam districts on Saturday night reported death and destruction. In Guwahati, two women died in the squall. At Shantipur, a woman died reportedly after she was struck by a lightning that accompanied the squall. In another incident at Kahilipara area of the city, a pregnant woman was killed when her house collapsed under the impact of the storm. A transformer was damaged in Lalganesh area. The city plunged into darkness for several hours as electricity failed due to the storm. The other deaths were reported from Darang, Goalpara and Dhubri districts. In the outskirts of the city 10 people were reported injured in Sualkuchi and Hajo areas as they were hit by objects carried by the squall. Guwahati University campus and police reserve were also severely hit. The worst hit districts are Kamrup (Rural), Kamrup (Metro), Goalpara, Darrang, Chirang, Baksa, Nalbari and Barpeta. More than 1,500 homes were damaged and road communication was severely disrupted in several areas with uprooted trees and electric poles blocking highways and other roads. In Guwahati, at least 30 people were injured with trees falling on moving vehicles, while flying tin roofs in several areas wounded pedestrians caught unawares by the sudden thunderstorm. This is the second massive thunderstorm to have hit Assam this fortnight. On April 16, a cyclonic storm damaged up to 300 homes in several parts of the state. The meteorological department Sunday predicted more rain and thunderstorms over most parts of Assam in the next couple of days. According to MET sources the squall originating from the northwest of Himalayan region passed through Assam areas. The twister also caused widespread damage in the northeastern parts of West Bengal.

‘Mariani,’ Assam’s potential business hub

GUWAHATI - Mariani, a town situated on Nagaland-Assam border, is gradually transforming into a business hub.With peace prevailing in the region, the youth here are increasingly taking up business related ventures.Mariani is in Titabor District, and about 17 kilometres from Jorhat.Markets here bustle with activity. New trade complexes are coming up and this encouraging youth to take up business as a career.“People from outside regions come and do business here and we are earning handsomely like 15-16k per month,” said Dilip Kumar Saha, a shopkeeper.With peace gradually returning to Assam and Nagaland, traders have reason to be optimistic.“Many people in Nagaland depend on Mariani for jobs. So in this town the government should lay emphasis on trade and commerce. If peace prevails, the region definitely has a lot of potential,” said Mintu Kolita, a businessman in Mariani.Just five to six kilometers away from the Mariani is Dehingia village, a small hamlet with 85 households and a population of 1600.The village has a school and work is in progress to construct a road that will connect it to Mariani.Funded by the Centre and state, the road that is being built by the Border Road Development Organization (BRDO) is a boon for people, when completed.This is not all… Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme provides a source of livelihood to many people.Villagers demand for the promotion of the National Rural Employment uarantee Act (NREGA).“The NREGA is going on, and it is going on at a good speed. We should get 100 days of work so that expenses can be taken care of. It will be of great help to us,” said Pobitra Saikia, a villagerPottery is the main source of income for the people in this region. hey make clay pots and sell them in nearby markets.“We make pots. We make our living from it and feed our children from it. Business is good, profits are good,” said Mahesh, a potter Though there is some border conflict between Assam and Nagaland, but people on both sides live in harmony.They are not bothered about such issues and are engaged in day-to-day business activities.“There is no conflict, people are peaceful and relate to each other and the dispute is on National Highway and it will be nice if state government of Assam and Nagaland give more efforts for development of the region. And it would be nice if state government solves this issue peacefully,” said Temsuyanger Aier, Mokokchung, Nagaland. By Peter Alex Todd (ANI)

Bandh called in Manipur hill districts from tonight

A 24-hour bandh in hill districts of Manipur has been called by a local committee from midnight Sunday night in protest against the state government's proposal to hold elections to the autonomous district councils.In a statement in Imphal on Sunday, the Manipur Tribal Joint Action Committee Against Election Under Unwanted District Council Act said the bandh would be enforced in all the hill districts of Manipur.Alleging that the present Manipur District Council Act 2008 did not give enough monetary power to the councils in the hill districts Ukhrul, Chandel, Tamenglong, Senapati and Churachandpur, the committee threatened to launch other forms of agitation if the state government did not stop the election process.With the same demand, the All Naga Students Association Manipur (ANSAM) had also begun an indefinite economic blockade from Saturday along the Imphal-Dimapur National Highway 39 and Imphal-Jiribam National Highway 53.Official sources, however, denied the charges of the organisations saying the district councils had enough monetary power.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

'New US weapons can strike anywhere within 1 hr'

In the coming years, President Barack Obama will decide whether to deploy a new class of weapons capable of reaching any corner of the Earth from the United States in under an hour and with such accuracy and force that would greatly diminish America’s reliance on its nuclear arsenal. Called Prompt Global Strike, the new weapon is designed to carry out tasks like picking off Osama bin Laden in a cave, if the right one could be found; taking out a North Korean missile while it is being rolled to the launch pad; or destroying an Iranian nuclear site — all without crossing the nuclear threshold. In theory, the weapon will hurl a conventional warhead of enormous weight at high speed and with pinpoint accuracy, generating the localised destructive power of a nuclear warhead. The idea is not new: president George W Bush and his staff promoted the technology, imagining that this new generation of conventional weapons would replace nuclear warheads on submarines. Obama himself alluded to the concept in a recent interview with The New York Times, saying it was part of an effort “to move towards less emphasis on nuclear weapons” while insuring “that our conventional weapons capability is an effective deterrent in all but the most extreme circumstances.” The final price of the system remains unknown. It would be based, at least initially, on the West Coast, probably at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Under the Obama plan, the Prompt Global Strike warhead would be mounted on a long-range missile to start its journey toward a target. It would travel through the atmosphere at several times the speed of sound, generating so much heat that it would have to be shielded with special materials to avoid melting. The Pentagon hopes to deploy an early version of the system by 2014 or 2015. But even under optimistic timetables, a complete array of missiles, warheads, sensors and control systems is not expected to enter the arsenal until 2017 to 2020, long after Obama will have left office, even if he is elected to a second term.

Maruti launches new WagonR; starts from Rs 3.28 lakh

The country's largest car maker Maruti Suzuki India on Friday launched a new version of its compact car WagonR priced between Rs 3.28 lakh and Rs 3.81 lakh. "This new launch of WagonR is important to Maruti Suzuki for many reasons. It demonstrates the growing research and development capability of the company," Maruti Suzuki India MD and CEO Shinzo Nakanishi told reporters in Delhi. The new WagonR is developed from the latest platform of the vehicle that is available in Japan. The car is powered by BS-IV compliant 998cc K-series engine. With this launch the existing WagonR will be phased out that was launched in 1999 and sold a total of 8.8 lakh units.

Bad news for striking employees in Manipur; govt. to reject their demand

The Manipur government is set to reject the striking employees demand for arrears amounts since 2006. Talking to reporters on Thursday after the cabinet meeting, Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh said his government will go ahead with the Manipur Hills Area District Council election. Manipur’s financial resource projection stands with a deficit of 69.64 crore. This was what Chief Minister Okram Ibobi said as he was addressing a press conference after cabinet meet on Thursday. He said the deficit figure was shown in support of his govt’s inability to pay due arrears to Govt employees who had been on cease work strike for over 3 months. He further appealed to the employees to resume their duties. He also warned the employees of punitive action if they paralyze office functionings. The Chief Minister said the government will hold election to the Manipur Hills Area District Council defying protest in the form of highway blockade by the United Naga Council. He, however, said any objectionable provisions or clause can be amended any. He said the election would be conducted under the Manipur Hills Area District Council Third Amendment Act. Reacting on the highway blockade that is set to plunge the State into another hour of crisis, the CM said his cabinet is contemplating a permanent legislation against blockade and added that those calling the blockade have their own agenda and will not be allowed to hijack the election process. Replying to a question on the quit notice served by a proscribed armed outfit to non-local residents of Manipur and the counter measure issued by CPI Maoist to chase out Manipuri in settled in States like Bihar, Jharkhand, UP, Chief Minister Ibobi said, they would send appeals to these groups which would be followed by a beefed up security measures to ensure that not even a single non-local is harassed.

Loktak dwellers take to protest against govt. move to evict them

A large number of fishermen whose livelihood is dependent on the Loktak Lake are now feeling threatened by the Manipur government’s ambitious plan to clean up the lake, and are demanding that govt. alter some of its clauses of the Manipur Loktak Lake Protection Act 2006, which prohibits fishermen from dwelling in and around the vicinity of the lake. The clause states that dwellers have been polluting the lake. However the irony is that more contamination has bee done by the garbage dumped by the municipality into the lake. The Loktak lake has come to occupy a place of pride in the map of Manipur…Located in Bishenpur district, Loktak is the only floating lake, on whose biomass humans have dwelt for years. The fisherman community has made Loktak their home, building huts over the biomass, earning their bread and butter from the fishes of the lake. It is this unique feature that has made Loktak a tourist destination. Now its face is going to be changed. The fishermen’s survival has been threatened and they are forced to take to protest just because the Manipur government sees their existence as a threat to the lake. The fishermen say they are not averse to cleaning the lake, which would be good for the state and for them, but it is one clause in the Manipur Loktak Lake Protection Act which is causing them worry. They are being held responsible for polluting the world famous lake. A large number of fishermen under the banner of All Loktak lake Floating Hut Dwellers Progressive Committee took out the silent protest rally from Moirangkhom in Imphal West and marched towards chief minister bungalow. They were obstructed by the police from proceeding further. The aggrieved fishermen are not happy with the Second clause of the Act which prohibits them from practicing their traditional mode of fishing, dwelling, cultivation etc. In fact almost everyone is solely dependant on the lake for survival and children’s education. It is fear about the uncertain future that has driven the people to protest. It is also irony that more than the people living on the lake, contamination in the lake has been fed more by the garbage dumped by the municipality and other activities. The clean Loktak project has already mired into a controversy, with crores of rupees estimated to be spent on it. Development works aside, the prohibition of the dwellers will change the face of the lake to a great extent.

People hit streets condemning ever growing violence in Manipur

The increasing trend of continued spate of violence unleashed by militant outfits by targeting populated residential areas with bombs and firings is met with strong condemnation from various sections of the society. In a latest incident, the residence of M. Premjit Singh, Director Extension of central agricultural University at Thangmeiband Hijam Diwan leikai under Lamphel PS, Imphal West came under bomb attack this morning around 9 am by two unidentified miscreants. Strongly reacting against the intended attack at residential areas, residents of Thangmeiband area staged a protest demonstration and urged those responsible to refrain from such attacks in future. There has been a string of bomb attacks in and around Imphal at almost daily basis in connection with monetary demands by under ground outfits and following the latest attack at the highly secured Hijam Diwan leikai nearby lamphel Police Station, residents of Thangmeiband question the logic behind exploding of bombs in residential areas and staging this protest demonstration. Though, the exploded bomb did not made any major damage, however the gate, the car allotted by the government to the official including houses of some neighboring houses were hit with splinters. Expressing their ire over such untoward repeated incidents, protestors flashed various placards reading ‘what is the worth of bomb’, ‘don’t explode bombs in residential areas’, ‘will violence bring peace’ etc and raised many questions against the logic of militants. According to the suffered family which has only two family members, such attack will not only make them anxious but also panic the surrounding areas as well. A family member narrates about the incident. On the other hand, the unwanted trend of violence is met with condemnation from various sections. According to an elderly person, violence has become the order of the day whether it is from the militant’s side or the security personnel’s side.

IPL now hit by match-fixing, betting allegations; several star players under IT scanner

The Indian Premier League (IPL) matches you have been keenly following for most of the past two months have been fixed, according to an income tax (I-T) report. Worse still, by none other than your cricketing idols. Shockingly, those involved in fixing the matches are superstars of Indian cricket and even an international player, who is a captain of one of the teams, according to a top official in Delhi who is part of the I-T team investigating the alleged IPL scam. Some team owners too are allegedly involved. Serious allegations that matches were fixed during the second season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) add to concerns that Indian cricket is skidding towards an apocalypse now. According to sources 27 cricketers are being investigated for match-fixing during IPL2. In a report submitted to the Finance Ministry, income tax officials discuss allegations of betting involving IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi. However, the Big Three of Indian cricket -- Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid -- are clean and above this muck, the I-T investigator revealed. The owners of different IPL teams have expressed their unhappiness with reports of match-fixing; they want clarifications as soon as possible. The IPL, earlier celebrated as an infusion of cricket, fans, and Bollywood has been passing through its darkest hour, ever since IPL Chairman unloaded on twitter revelations that forced Shashi Tharoor to resign as minister, Put Modi's own job on the line, and forced Parliament to confront the very real possibility of senior politicians holding dangerously vested interest in a sport that is bursting at the seams with crores (the Indian cricket board is the richest in the world). The government has ordered a wide inquiry involving the Income Tax Department and the Enforcement Directorate. Among the charges are foreign exchange violations, tax evasions, proxy ownership of different teams, and sweet deals for relatives and friends of politicians and cricket organizers and administrators. Some seniors have allegedly been influencing juniors, often from their own regions, to fix matches. Probably for the first time in cricketing history, senior and junior cricketers playing in rival teams jointly fixed the outcome of matches, the official said. A clear pattern has supposedly emerged where a particular bowler has bowled easy deliveries and dropped catches, while his 'partner in crime' went on a scoring spree. Investigating teams from I-T and the Enforcement Directorate are analysing phone records of some of the franchises after match-fixing speculations. Investigators are checking the phone records of several personalities who had access to VIP enclosures during IPL matches.

Stage set for ULFA convention tomorrow

Amid a simmering controversy stage is set for holding the state level convention in Guwahti on Saturday to pave the way for ULFA-government peace deal. But the million dollar question is how far it will help the state restore peace and normalcy? ULFA commander in chief Paresh Baruah refuses to compromise on the sovereignty question while PLP fear the event will divide the nationalist forces. STATE LEVEL CONVENTION ON SATURDAY. CONVENTION TO DISCUSS PEACE DEAL. WILL IT ACHIEVE SUCCESS? Brisk preparations are afoot to make the convention a success. Jailed ULFA leaders hint at support to the event. But ULFA Commander in Chief Paresh Baruah sticks to the gun. He has refused to drop the sovereignty demand. If it so happens, what will be the first and foremost suggestion of convention to the government? The convention may talk of unconditional negotiation with the government. But perhaps only to be straightly rejected by the ULFA boss. If the jailed leaders openly support the event it will split the outfit. After the capture of the top ranked leaders, the ULFA chief hints at an ad hoc committee under the presidentship of Jibon Moran while Antu Chawdang is the secretary of the panel. Thus, the government is not in a position to solve the problem keeping Paresh Baruah at bay. A section of persons in the stat’s knowledgeable circle is not sure of success. The Purbanchaliyo Loka Parishad has openly opposed the proposed convention. Addressing a press conference in Guwahati, PLP leaders said talk minus Paresh Baruah is not possible. They further said the convention at this crucial juncture will instead divide the nationalist camp. The organizers are working overnight to make the convention a success to be held at the Machkhowa-based Pragjyotika on Saturday. Meanwhile, with just few hours left for the state-level convention, various political parties expressed hope that the conveti0on will bring out a lasting soslution to the vexed ULFA issue whish has pushed back development of the state for the past two decades. The political parties are hopeful of successful completion of the state level convention organized by some leading intellectuals for bringing out a solution to ULFA issue within the framework of the constitution. Octogenarian left leader and former MLA hemen Das has gone positive towards to the convention. AIUDF working president Hafiz Rashid Ahmed Choudhury said it is a positive sign that the convention will create a pepole’s mandate to pressurize the government for a soslution to the decade long ULFA issue. Notably, the representatives of 112 leading organizations including political parties will join the convention on tomorrow.

Incessant rains wreak havoc in Assam; over hundred villages inundated

With the incessant rains, the misery that comes with floods is back to haunt the people of Assam. Several hundreds of villages have been inundated forcing people out of the homes. Assam’s sorrow during monsoon the mighty Brahmaputra was reported to be swelling in several places, while its tributaries were other causes of worry. There were reports of at least three people drowning and more than one lakh people being affected by the flood caused by the pre-monsoon rains that is lashing Assam. Brahmaputra and its tributaries were flowing at danger levels in several flood prone districts of Lower and Upper Assam particularly in Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia and Nalbari. Two persons were feared drowned in the Brahmaputra at Guijan in Tinsukia district Friday morning according to sources. Situation worsened in Lakhimpur district, where an alert has been sounded, with breaching of two embankments and flood water entering 50 villages and in neighbouring Dhemaji district water overtopping roads and bridges. The Brahmaputra was also showing a rising trend in Tinsukia’s Sadiya areas. Flood waters have entered Dibru-Saikhowa National Park in the district, forcing animals to flee to the highlands inside the forest. Most of the flood affected people have taken shelter on raised platforms, embankments, railway tracks and in government schools. Gushing waters destroyed several thatched houses. Meanwhile, flood waters in Lakhimpur district refuse to recede on Friday even as more more areas have come under the surging waters. NEEPCO has released more waters from its dams on Thursday to make the things more worse. But Dispur still in deep sleep. This was what the Deputy Commissioner told NETV as he came to visit the flood affected areas with MP Ranee Narah. He claimed to have remained in constant touch with NEEPCO. He further denied any possibility of flood. But the entire area came under the surging waters hardly 24 hours after his assurance rendering thousands of people homeless. The flood waters have submerged over one hundred villages in Naoboisa and Bihpuria. But one from the distant Dispur has come to visit the marooned people. Bharat Narah has not visit these people. Naoboisa MLA Sanjoyraj Subba seems to have got up only after NETV aired the story. Subba drew wrath of the people as he reached them. But he clearly blamed it all on the NEEPCO. Lakhimpur still remains cut off from the rest of the state after flood waters damaged a portion of the National Highway No 52. Trucks loaded with essential commodities are remaining stranded on the road. If the situation remains unchanged, crisis of essential commodities will hit the people hard. If the district administration remains a mute spectator, the situation will span out of control as all the dykes in the district are in bad shape.

Ibobi warns pay strikers

Imphal, April 23: Manipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh today warned striking employees that he would not remain a silent spectator if they did not return to their duties and appealed to legislators and ministers not to intervene if action is taken.“Employees only demand their rights but do not bother about their duties. The government will not remain a mute spectator. Action will be taken if they fail to go back to their duties,” he said while addressing the Khongjom Day state function organised at Khongjom in Thoubal district to pay tribute to Manipuri war heroes.Ibobi Singh’s whip came a day after his cabinet reaffirmed the government’s decision not to pay arrears as demanded by the employees. State government employees have been on a ceasework since January 16, seeking implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission’s recommendations from January 2006. The Ibobi Singh government announced that it would implement the new salary structure from April this year, maintaining that it did not have the resources to pay the arrears.The chief minister today said he would not succumb to the pressures of the employees. The people could not be held to ransom for serving the interests of a few thousands employees.“Employees turn up at their offices at noon and go back at 2pm. Schoolteachers do not attend classes regularly. This happens in my district of Thoubal. Whenever authorities try to take action against an erring employee, either a minister or an MLA intervenes. We will not tolerate this,” Ibobi Singh said.He appealed to ministers and legislators to extend co-operation to the government in streamlining the administration. “Ministers and MLAs tend to forget that we are the servants and the public the masters. If the public disfavours, no elected member can remain an MLA even for a day. We should serve the people and not act as masters,” he said.Paying glowing tributes to Manipuri heroes who fought the British, Ibobi Singh said Manipur, as a part of India, had attained freedom and there was no need for another freedom struggle. He was referring to the “freedom” struggle by several militant groups though he did not mention any names.Earlier, Governor Gurbachan Jagat led the people in paying floral tributes at the Khongjom War memorial stone located atop Kheba Hillock at Khongjom in Thoubal district.It is on this day in 1891 that Manipuris fought the British at Khongjom and Manipur lost its freedom. Manipur government observes this day as Khongjom Day every year to honour the Manipuri heroes.Addressing the gathering, the governor reminded the people that the British could establish their empire in India because of the disunity among the kings and princes. He appealed to the people of the state to shun differences and strengthen the bond of unity, peace and harmony to usher in all-round development.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Dowry invades N-E culture

Clutching her stomach with one hand and holding on to the railing of her verandah with another, Bidisha Sharma tried to ward off her husband’s second kick.Two years of romance evaporated when Bidisha’s father failed to pay Satish’s demand for a “gift” of Rs 10 lakh to boost his business.The word “dowry” was never mentioned during their wedding — Satish’s was an “educated” family after all — but the undelivered “little gift” brought a torrent of torture on Bidisha.Guwahati, April 22: Long tagged as a North Indian malaise, dowry is aggressively invading the Northeast, throwing up alarming figures of death and violence.Statistics hardly reveal the real story of torture perpetrated behind closed doors, but the numbers are shocking enough.In Assam for instance, 143 cases of dowry harassment and 3,807 cases of domestic violence have been registered between April 1, 2009 and January 31, 2010.There have been four “dowry-related” incidents, including two deaths and one alleged attempt to murder, within a week in the state.A 26-year-old housewife was found dead at her Ulubari residence in Guwahati after alleged dowry torture on April 17. The following day, another housewife was allegedly murdered by her husband for dowry at Noonmati in the city.Yet another woman, allegedly set on fire by her husband at Fatasil Ambari on April 19, is now battling for life at a private nursing home.What worries social observers is that dowry is emerging as a trend in the Northeast, which had long been shut to such monetary transactions in marriage.“Bride burning and atrocities on women were maladies that had afflicted other parts of the country, parti- cularly northern India. Unfortunately, this menace has gradually penetrated into Assamese society as well. Earlier, Assam was untou-ched by dowry but today it has reared its ugly head here too,” said Sumitra Hazarika, general secretary of the Nirjatan Birodhi Oikya Mancha.Fifty-odd dowry-related cases have been registered at the all-woman police station since January in Guwahati alone.Pomy Baruah of Avas Foundation, an NGO, said the cases are only the tip of the iceberg.“These figures account for only those cases that are reported. There are many dowry-related cases that do not get reported because the victims fear social backlash,’’ she said.Despite instances like Bidisha’s, the joint secretary of the National Commission for Women, S.S. Pujari, however, said the panel has not received any official complaints of dowry deaths from the region.Prodded about the Northeast’s traditional respect for women, Monalisa Chankija, editor of Nagaland Page, and winner of the Chameli Devi Jain award for journalism, dismisses it as “nonsense and a lot of public posturing”.There was a time when it was a shame for a Naga man to even accept a handkerchief from the wife’s family, she said.“All that the new wife would bring is her loom which showed how industrious she was. All that has now changed; the kind of presents that one sees people giving their daughters is amazing.”Domestic violence is also rampant in rural Nagaland.Dowry itself is a relatively new phenomenon in India, beginning sometime in the 20th century, says Prof Samita Sen, director, School of Women Studies, Jadavpur University. Till the end of the 19th century, there was a reverse tradition of “bride price”, she said.This shift has been caused by modernisation and subsequent globalisation when domestic economy was washed away by commercial economy where women’s work — household chores — became devalued.Since no price could be allotted to women’s work, she ceased to be a prize, says Sen.Agrees Paramita Chakraborty, joint director of the same department. Dowry, she says, is linked to the concept of women’s worth in society or lack of it and her access to property. Hence, the concept rapidly expanded from northern India to include societies and cultures to which dowry was alien.An officer in the Women’s Grievance Cell of Calcutta police said on an average they receive two to three dowry related complaints against women every month.She, however, said 48 police stations in the city also receive such complaints regularly.“They forward us the serious compliants while they investigate the other ones,” she said.Bihar, which is notorious for its dowry tales, has 50-60 cases registered every year.But police claim that “misuse” of the Sections 304B and 498A of the Indian Penal Code as a “big reason” for throwing up “inflated figure” of dowry-related deaths and torture in Bihar.Prabhat Kumar Dwivedi, a Patna high court lawyer, said dowry demand was a social malaise and social initiatives should be taken to end it.With inputs from Soma Banerjee in Calcutta and Nalin Verma in Patna

Muivah bid to break ice with rivals

Kohima, April 22: Hints of the ice breaking between rival NSCN factions have surfaced with NSCN (I-M) general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah expressing a desire to meet former comrade-in-arms-turned-bitter-foe S.S. Khaplang.NSCN (K) kilonser (minister) Y. Wangtin Naga said he had conveyed Muivah’s message and “best regards” to chairman Khaplang and commander-in-chief Khole, who had reciprocated by conveying their regards to Muivah and NSCN (I-M) chairman Isak Chishi Swu. However, no date for the meeting has been fixed.Wangtin met Muivah at Camp Hebron, the NSCN (I-M) council headquarters located 35km from Dimapur, on April 10. “I felt most privileged to meet Uncle Th. Muivah and was happy to convey his message to chairman S.S. Khaplang and Gen. Khole,” he said.Wangtin told this correspondent today that the meeting would not mean that Khaplang and Khole join the NSCN (I-M) but that the leaders meet and reconcile during their lifetime to make the “Nagas one family”.Since the NSCN split in April 30, 1988, Muivah and Swu have never met their old comrades, Khaplang and Khole. In 1997, the American Baptist Church, USA, convened a meeting for Muivah, Swu and Khaplang in Atlanta but the two NSCN (I-M) leaders did not attend it. Last year, Swu spoke to Khaplang at least twice over phone.Wangtin said the two groups could not continue fighting. “We should show our sincerity towards reconciliation and unification of all Naga groups”. This unification, he added, could come about only when individual factions stop negotiating with the government of India. “Stop the political dialogue for the unification,” he urged the rival group.The NSCN (I-M) had entered into a ceasefire with the government in 1997, following which it began dialogues for a solution to the Naga problem. It has already held over 50 rounds of talks.Wangtin said collective opinion was essential to hammer out a solution to the Naga problem and no group should ignore others towards this end. The peace talks between the Centre and the NSCN (I-M) did not carry the voice of all sections of the Naga people and, therefore, could not be called Naga talks. “The talks should include all Naga people. We can’t be part of the NSCN (I-M) talks,” he said.Wangtin, who is considered to be a moderate leader, strongly objected to some people in the Khaplang faction harbouring bad blood towards Muivah.He said with all sections of the Nagas working towards reconciliation and unification, hatred and criticism should be stopped forthwith. He urged all to handle the situation with utmost restraint.Kughalu Mulatonu, envoy of the collective leadership of the NSCN (K), has been demanding that Muivah, a Tangkhul Naga who hails from Ukhrul district in Manipur, should leave Nagaland and go to that state. According to him, Muivah’s problem lies in Manipur and should not be messed up with the Naga issue.He said his group would never be part of the NSCN (I-M) talks. “The government of India must clearly understand that the NSCN (Khaplang) will have separate talks with them,” he added.Wangtin said Naga leaders should not expect others to bow down before them. “Everyone must have equal responsibility in ushering in peace,” he said.He urged the Naga factions not to return to the “fratricidal madness” of two years ago. “He who opposes reconciliation among Nagas is anti-Naga,” he said.

Trial starts for China’s once-richest man

BEIJING - Huang Guangyu, once China’s richest man, has stood trial at the Beijing No 2 Intermediate People’s Court facing charges of bribery, share price fixing and money laundering.Guangyu, former chairman of Gome Electrical Appliances Holdings, was detained in November 2008 for suspected stock market manipulation.The procuratorate have charged Guangyu with illegal foreign exchange trading via Hong Kong in 2007 and insider trading of Shenzhen-listed Zhongguancun stocks, and also accused him of offering bribes of 4.56 million yuan to a number of officials, the China Daily reports.According to a previously released indictment, Guangyu channeled 800 million yuan to Hong Kong in 2007, where the money was exchanged by individuals rather than legitimate exchangers into 822 million Hong Kong dollars.Legal experts said that if all the charges are proven, the 41-year-old businessman could be behind bars for 10 to 15 years.Co-defendants in the case include his wife Lisa Du Juan, at least one business partner and unnamed others.Guangyu is the highest profile, private business person ever charged in China, a man once dubbed as “the Sam Walton of China,” after Walmart’s founder.He started in the home appliance business at the age of 17 and ranked top on Hurun’s China Rich List from 2005 to 2008. In 2008, his assets reached 43 billion yuan. (ANI)

Census weapon for battle in NE

The edgy Northeast has a new reason to fight about — the exercise to update the national population register or census.If territorial diktats are preventing villagers in disputed areas along inter-state borders from cooperating with enumerators, linguistic decrees have threatened to create a divide between the Assamese and Bengalis, the two largest communities in Assam.Over the past fortnight, enumerators in Assam have had to beat a retreat from certain areas bordering Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Nagaland.Enumerators were reportedly chased away from villages in Narayanpur area of Lakhimpur district bordering Arunachal Pradesh. “We are inquiring into why villagers refused to answer census questions,” said Lakhimpur Deputy Commissioner Jayant Narlekar.Residents of three villages located in the Boko circle of Assam’s Kamrup district but claimed by Meghalaya also refused to cooperate. “We are told the villagers refused to give information until enumerators from Meghalaya arrived,” said Joint Director of Census (Assam) Dilip Kumar Dey.Trouble in the area cropped up after the Assam Police helped officials register a few families. Subsequently, a village headman named Hyndro Samakha warned of strict action against “any Khasi found to have enrolled with Assam”.Similar incidents were also reported from areas of Assam’s Golaghat district bordering Nagaland. Allegedly under pressure from Naga militants, villagers insisted on being enumerated by officials from Nagaland.“We are not aware of census-related trouble in the border areas. Besides, we are yet to undertake the exercise of enumeration,” Director of Census (Nagaland) Hekhali Zhimomi told HT from Dimapur.Census officials attributed the incidents of local level political leaders taking advantage of villagers’ ignorance about the census exercise. “The enumeration form and questions therein make it clear this is merely a headcount without mention of language, religion or territory. Such data won’t be recorded until February next year,” a senior official said.Besides, demography is a touchy issue in Assam. The fear of indigenous Assamese – they are a minority with barely 30 per cent – being overrun, particularly by Bengali-speaking migrants from Bangladesh, had led to communal clashes and anti-foreigner agitations in the past.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

BCCI, Pawar agree that Modi must quit as IPL chief

New Delhi, Apr.20 (ANI): Union Agriculture Minister and cricket strongman Sharad Pawar has reportedly reached an agreement with Board of Control of Cricket in India president Shashank Manohar to ask Lalit Modi to quit as Indian Premier League Commissioner after the IPL final on April 25.Sources said Pawar reached the agreement as he was under pressure from both the Central Government and the IPL Governing Council.At a meeting with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Pawar was reportedly told that the government intends to take the investigation into the IPL ownership and cash row to its logical conclusion.On the other hand, a majority of the IPL Governing Council members have also met and come to the unanimous conclusion that Modi must step down to restore the credibility of both the IPL and the BCCI.Sources said the BCCI is seeing the IPL row as one of its biggest crises in recent times.With Modi arriving in Mumbai a short while ago on a chartered flight, equations and relationships within the BCCI have changed, and for all practical purposes, Modi is expected to formally put in his papers after meeting Pawar either tonight or on Wednesday.Earlier, Pawar and Manohar said a "collective decision" would be taken by the IPL Governing Council and that neither would interfere in the process.They said that an internal probe would be carried out on the IPL row.Manohar is widely known not to favour Modi''s continuance as IPL chief. But Modi, who is a BCCI Vice President, is not expected to give up without a fight.Pawar and Manohar said they have agreed that the protection of the "interests of Indian cricket loving population and the players, including upcoming players" is of prime importance. (ANI)

Final decision on Modi after IPL Governing Council meet on April 26: Pawar

New Delhi, Apr 20 (ANI): Union Agriculture Minister and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) strongman Sharad Pawar on Tuesday said that a final decision on Lalit Modi''s continuance as the Indian Premier League (IPL) Commissioner would be taken after the meeting of the IPL Governing Council on April 26. Pawar said the decision would be made with the consent of all the members. "We will decide on this whole issue on the IPL Governing council meet on April 26," said Pawar. "The final decision will be taken with the consent of all the members of the governing body," he added. There are reports that the decision was taken after Pawar met BCCI President Shashank Manohar and the duo discussed what action, if any, has to be taken against Lalit Modi for his perceived role in the controversy that saw the Minister of State for External Affairs, Shashi Tharoor, resigning. Earlier in the day, Pawar distanced himself from ModiHe told reporters that he had nothing to do with the IPL. "I am not dealing with this subject, am not a member of IPL committee. I am not aware of any BCCI meeting or impending decision. I have not received any notice of the meeting, only read in the papers that such a meeting has been scheduled for April 25," said Pawar. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Sharad Pawar met here this morning, reportedly to discuss the cash row controversy surrounding IPL and its impact on the future of the sport and the politics of the nation. The BCCI top officials are said to be extremely unhappy with Modi after he triggered the controversy by tweeting the Kochi franchise''s stake holding pattern, which also brought the cricket board under the Income Tax department''s scanner. Modi is under fire for allegedly helping his family and friends buy stakes in various IPL teams. The Cricket Board has also rescheduled its Working Committee meeting from April 24 to May 2 as it wants the IPL Governing Council -- which is expected to meet here on April 26, a day after the IPL final -- to first discuss the issue. (ANI)

Spare tyres ‘a major health hazard’

LONDON - Experts have said that people carrying excess weight around their waists, are oblivious to the health risk they are putting themselves in.Three leading UK charities are launching a new Active Fat campaign to raise awareness of the dangers, after it was seen that most people do not realise that their spare tyre puts them at increased risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease.The poll on 2,085 people showed that in all, 97 percent of people were unaware of a link despite 71 percent of those surveyed saying they had an expanding waistline.Excess weight around the middle generates oestrogen and excess chemicals in the stomach, which put people at higher risk of killer diseases.Women are at risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart disease if their waist measures more than 80cm (31.5 inches) while men are at risk at more than 94cm (37 inches).“That ‘harmless’ spare tyre around your waist is actually a major health hazard,” the BBC quoted Dr Mike Knapton, of the British Heart Foundation charity which is working alongside Cancer Research UK and Diabetes UK, as saying.“While you might be relaxing at home, your fat cells are working overtime to pump out excess hormones and other chemicals that can cause disease.“Wrapping a tape measure around your middle takes just a few seconds, but it could be your vital first step towards a healthier future,” he said.Waist size is likely to increase throughout life, but many are in denial about their spare tyre, say the charities.In the poll, women were less likely than men to worry about the health consequences of their muffin top and instead were more concerned with how they looked and whether they could fit into their clothes.Less than half of men and women (44 percent) had tried to do more exercise as a way to avoid going up in belt size, while some 27 percent of people bought bigger sized clothes.As part of the campaign, the charities are calling for standard labelling on foods, highlighting the “traffic lights” system for nutrition. (ANI)

BSNL Strike Begins Today Nationwide

NEW DELHI, INDIA - More than 300,000 BSNL workers have started a nationwide strike today that may cripple the network of the company and adversely affect its 90 million subscribers all over the country. The employees of the company are up in arms against the proposals of the Sam Pitroda committee for voluntary retirement and some other issues. The employees are going on an indefinite strike to make the management see reason and fulfill their demands. The agitated BSNL employees started the strike today morning nationwide, only in Delhi the strike began at 10 am. As a result the users of BSNL landline and cellular networks may experience problems in making as well as receiving calls.To cope up with the Strike, BSNL has employed 10000 senior staffs and ITS cadre employees. It was affirmed by Kuldeep Goyal, the MD and Chairman of BSNL. A joint forum has called the strike. The agitated employees of the telecom giant are not happy with the Pitroda committee’s recommendation to VRS offering to 100,000 workers. They are also unwilling to accept the decision of the company to allow privatization to a degree. Earlier, A Raja, the telecom minister held discussion with the unions but he did not succeed in persuading them to cancel the strike.The workers of BSNL who have taken part in the strike have put forward a number of demands to the government. If these are not met, they will carry on the strike. The strike is going to affect the customer care of BSNL severely. The government has not given up the hope for another round of discussion though.

Tharoor asks PM to clear his name

New Delhi, Apr 20 (ANI): Former Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday said that he has asked the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, to have the IPL cash row charges against him thoroughly investigated to ensure that his name is cleared.In an address to Parliament, Tharoor said: "I have asked the Prime Minister to conduct a thorough investigation into the charges and want to clear my name that has been ''besmirched''.He said he had committed nothing improper or illegal, but had resigned from the cabinet in the strongest moral traditions'' of the party as he did not want to be an embarrassment to it.He further said that he was deeply wounded by the fanciful and malicious charges levelled against him"I am new to Indian politics...but I have a long record of public service untainted by allegations of financial irregularity," Tharoor said.Speaking for a short while in his native tongue Malyalam, Tharoor drew on the emotional appeal of his Thiruvananthapuram constituency and received some support from Kerala MPs.Tharoor resigned on Sunday night after the Congress Core Committee asked him to do so.The Income Tax (I-T) department has given a clean chit to Tharoor, saying he did not benefit from the Kochi -IPL deal.The ministry said the I-T department is probing IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi''s offshore money and trying to find out if stakeholders are fronts for Modi.Tharoor is reportedly in trouble after Modi tweeted to reveal that Sunanda Pushkar, a close friend of Tharoor, had been gifted sweat equity worth Rs.70 crores in the new Kochi team, which was sold for Rs.1530 crores last month.Modi in his email to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) chief Shashank Manohar had stated it was Tharoor who called him and instructed him not to reveal the identities of the stakeholders of the Kochi IPL franchisee.Tharoor, however, has denied this.Tharoor said he had ''''enough'''' of the controversy and denied securing any monetary interest in the Kochi IPL team. (ANI)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Youths killed in clash over worship

Imphal, April 18: Two tribal youths were hacked to death and four were wounded in a clash between a batch of devotees of Lord Ibudhou Thangjing and local residents at Golthol in Manipur’s Churachandpur district last night. Police are yet to ascertain the exact cause of the altercation that led to the clash. The incident sparked tension between the local residents and the Meiteis residing in Churachandpur and Bishnupur district, bordering Churachandpur. Security has been tightened to prevent further flare-up. The two youths died on the spot. Their bodies were brought to the Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) here this morning and kept at the RIMS mortuary for identification and post-mortem. Lancha Haokip, 18, Mamang Haokip, 20, Seimang Kipgen, 52, and his son Khainingthang Kipgen, 18 — the four injured who are from Churachandpur district — have been admitted to RIMS. Every year, people, particularly the Meiteis, climb the Thangjing Hills to worship Ibudhou Thangjing, a Meitei deity, on the first Saturday after Cheiraoba (New Year of the Hindu Meiteis). This year, the Cheiraoba festival fell on April 14 and yesterday was the day for worshipping Ibudhou Thangjing. The tradition is to climb the hill at night in groups and return after worshipping the deity on Sunday morning. Many devotees had climbed the hill last evening. A preliminary police report said the clash broke out after a group of devotees had an altercation with some local people at Golthol atop the hill around 9.30 last night. The inspector-general of police range-II, C. Doungel, today rushed to Churachandpur for a spot inquiry and to supervise security measures. A police team led by the superintendent of police, Churachandpur, Bimolchandra Sharma, was present at the spot to inquire into the incident. “A preliminary report said an altercation between a group of devotees of Thangjing and some locals led to the clash. Two died on the spot and four were wounded. I will be making further inquiries and submit a report to the director-general of police (Yumnam Joykumar Singh),” the IGP said. The police are yet to question the injured persons. Doungel has contacted leaders of Kuki Inpi, the apex body of the Kuki community, and the Kuki Students’ Organisation to defuse tension in the district. “We have intensified patrol and security has been beefed up in and around Golthol and surrounding areas which are considered vulnerable, to prevent a backlash,” Doungel said. He said the situation was fully under control though tension prevailed in Churachandpur district and the neighbouring Bishnupur district. The superintendent of police, Bishnupur district, K. Jayenta Singh, has also stepped up security.

churachandpur, lamka

Israeli PM Netanyahu exhorts US, other countries to support ‘crippling sanctions’ against Iran

Netanyahu urges ‘crippling sanctions’ against IranWASHINGTON — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (neh-ten-YAH’-hoo) is calling for “crippling sanctions” against Iran to prevent it from developing a nuclear weapons capability.In an interview broadcast Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Netanyahu said he worries that the international community isn’t acting aggressively enough to thwart Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.Netanyahu said the possibility Iran could develop a nuclear weapons program represents “the biggest issue facing our times.” He called for denying refined petroleum imports to Iran and said that if the member nations of the U.N. Security Council cannot agree on such a tough move, there is a “coalition of the willing” among other countries that also are worried about Iran.

Each child to get free uniform, books under RTE

New Delhi, Apr 19 (PTI) Each child from class I to class VIII in the country will be provided free textbooks and uniforms, if a raodmap prepared by the Centre to implement the Right To Education Act is accepted by the states.The roadmap to implement the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act was discussed at a meeting of state Education Secretaries recently.According to the minutes of the meeting, nearly 7.8 lakh additional classrooms and seven lakh girls' toilets will have to be created to implement the new law which has come into force from April one. The government will spend Rs 1.71 lakh crore in the next five years for implementing the Act.Each child will be provided uniforms at Rs 400 per annum.Many states are already providing uniforms from their own budget.

MiG-21 being phased out: Antony

New Delhi, Apr 19 (PTI) The Indian Air Force has initiated the process to phase out MiG-21 fighter aircraft, Defence Minister A K Antony told the Lok Sabha on Monday.The MiG-21 aircraft are in their final phase of service and in the process of phase-out, he said answering supplementaries in the Lok Sabha during Question Hour.Antony said the IAF maintains a mix of old and new aircraft in its fleet and each plane has a life span of 30-40 years.The Minister dismissed criticism over the crash of Kiran trainer aircraft during an airshow at Begumpet airfield in Hyderabad in March.He said the Kiran aircraft was inducted in the Navy in 1985 and the fleet has reported only three accidents in the past 25 years. All accidents are taken seriously by the government.

Jessica murder case: Family hails Supreme Court verdict

New Delhi, Apr 19 (ANI): Sabrina Lall, the sister of murdered model Jessica Lall, on Monday expressed satisfaction and happiness over the Supreme Court upholding Delhi High Court’s verdict in convicting all accused.Lall was shot dead by Manu Sharma on April 29, 1999, at the Tamarind Court Cafe restaurant, which was owned by socialite Bina Ramani in South Delhi.Interacting with media after the Supreme Court order, Sabrina said: "After 11 years...I am glad that the final door has been closed on this case. It has given us a lot of relief and satisfaction that the Supreme Court has upheld the verdict of the high court. I am happy.”An apex court bench consisting Justices P. Sathasivam and Swatanter Kumar upheld the Delhi High Court judgment on Monday.On December 18, 2006, reversing the order of acquittal recorded by the trial court, the Delhi High Court had convicted Sharma and awarded him a life sentence.The High Court also declared two other accused in the case — Vikas Yadav and Amarjeet Singh Gill — guilty for destruction of evidence.They have also challenged their conviction and four-year jail sentence.Sharma is the son of senior Haryana Congress leader Vinod Sharma while Yadav is the son of Uttar Pradesh politician D.P. Yadav.Sharma who is serving a life sentence in Tihar jail challenged his conviction and life sentence given by the Delhi High Court.Sabrina described the apex court''s decision as a triumph for a common family."When the accused were acquitted by the lower court, that was a time that I had lost hope…In these cases where high profile and powerful people are involved, the important message is that it is not an impossible fight. If society works together and we continue to fight and don''t lose hope, it is not impossible to get the conviction...There is justice in the world and it''s possible not only for me, but for all those families fighting for it,” Sabrina said."In this case, middle-class people came out together in peaceful support. They created a movement for justice for Jessica. There are people I don''t even recognise who came out in open support," she added.Sabrina also demanded that witnesses be permitted who had turned hostile."Punishment to hostile witness should work as a deterrent in society. They will keep lying unless somebody is held accountable for the same," she said. (ANI)

Centre should probe role of big money in IPL: Vayalar Ravi

New Delhi, Apr 19 (ANI): Minister of Indian Overseas Affairs Vayalar Ravi on Monday said the Central Government should look into the role of big cash coming into the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket championship.Addressing reporters outside Parliament here, Ravi alleged the IPL was ''glorified gambling'' run with black money."It is for the government to look into the whole system, what is this IPL, who are these people, where the money comes? It is a matter of concern," he said.Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav said the government should take over after scrapping cricket bodies, including the IPL and the national cricket board."IPL should be scrapped, government should take it over and nationalise it. The game of IPL should continue. All the cricket bodies like the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) should be scrapped," said Yadav.Communist Party of India -Marxist (CPI-M) demanded a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe on the issue."There is no full stop after the resignation of Tharoor, question is whether he is guilty or not, whether the post has been misused or not? Everyday new revelations regarding IPL are coming into light," said CPI-M politburo member Brinda Karat."It is said that the Income Tax Department knew for the last six months, even then the government did not intervene. Who are the patrons of the IPL in the government, this also should be investigated and that is why a Joint Parliamentary Committee is required," she added.Monday''s development came a day after Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor met Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and tendered his resignation over the Kochi IPL fiasco.Dr Singh accepted the resignation and formally sent it to President Pratibha Devisingh Patil. A late night release from the President''s House confirmed the acceptance of the resignation.Tharoor was reportedly in trouble after IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi tweeted to reveal that Sunanda Pushkar, a close associate of Tharoor, had been gifted sweat equity worth Rs 70 crores in the new Kochi team, which was sold for Rs 1530 crores last month.Modi in his email to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) chief Shashank Manohar had stated it was Tharoor who called him and instructed him not to reveal the identities of the stakeholders of the Kochi IPL franchisee.Tharoor, however, had denied this.Tharoor said he had ''enough'' of the controversy and denied securing any monetary interest in the Kochi IPL team. (ANI)

Maoists are anti-poor, anti-development: Chidambaram

New Delhi, Apr 19 (ANI): Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Monday described the Maoists as anti-poor and anti-development.Addressing the Rajya Sabha, Chidambaram criticized some human right activists for extending their tacit support to the Maoists.He said the Maoists have targeted all instruments of development."The Naxalites are anti-development and have targeted the very instruments of development - school buildings, roads, telephone towers etc. They know that development will mean the masses, especially poor tribals, wean them away from the grip of Naxalites," Chidambaram said."In 2009 alone, they have demolished 71 school buildings, 23 Panchayat Bhawans, two power plants, attacked 67 telephone exchanges or mobile towers were attacked, and demolished, 46 attacks on railway properties, 17 attacks on specific industrial establishments," he added.Taking some human rights organizations to task, he said: "Will anyone, any of the Human Rights organisations, any of the NGOs, will they stand up and tell the people of this country, ''Rebuild these school buildings and we assure you that CPI (Maoists) will not attack any more school buildings?”He reiterated that police action, would continue till territory under Maoist control is restored to the civic administration."Our response, therefore, will be police action to wrest the control of the territory that is now dominated by Naxalites, restoration of civil administration and undertaking development work. Meanwhile, we will encourage the state governments to talk to Naxalites, both individuals and local units, on the condition that they give up their misconceived armed liberation struggle," Chidambaram added.In his address, Chidambaram accepted that development works in these areas are slow and money allotted does not get spent."Huge money is being spent under various programmes. Extra money is being given under various programmes. Unfortunately, not all the money is being spent," he said.In the biggest attack of its kind, Maoists in Chhattisgarh ambushed at least 76 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on April 6. (ANI)

PM''s resignation a must for political consensus: Nepal Maoists

Kathmandu, Apr 19 (ANI): The Maoist Parliamentary Party meeting held here on Monday demanded the immediate resignation of Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal to pave the way for the formation of a national government.Concluding that the present UML-led government is a hindrance to political consensus, the meeting also said that there could be no solution to the current stalemate as long as the current leadership is retained.Talking to reporters after the meeting Maoist lawmakers said the current government is the main obstacle to resolving the political stalemate.They also decided to launch a struggle within parliament against the UML-led government.Meanwhile, Nepal has expressed frustration over the lack of cooperation from his own party.Kantipur quoted Nepal as, saying that the government has not been able to carry out its tasks due to a lack of necessary support from the party.He urged party lawmakers to understand the gravity of the situation and consider the complex circumstances under which the government had been formed. (ANI)

Meghalaya looking at fourth CM in 2 years

Meghalaya, the whirlpool of political instability, is soon likely to have its fourth chief minister in two years since the last assembly election in March 2008.In 12 years between 1998 and 2010, Meghalaya has had eight chief ministers. And since formation of the state in 1972, only two CMs completed their five-year terms.Current Chief Minister D.D. Lapang, who assumed office twice since the March 2008 assembly polls yielded a hung verdict, has admitted having lost majority in the Congress Legislature Party. His nemesis this time is Deputy CM Mukul Sangma.With 28 legislators, the Congress heads the Meghalaya United Alliance (MUA) government. Its partners in the 60-member House are the regional United Democratic Party (10 MLAs), Hill State Peoples’ Democratic Party (2), Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (1) and three Independents.Opposition Nationalist Congress Party has 15 legislators and an Independent.“There is no denying that Mukul enjoys majority, but resolving the issue (change of guard) is up to the party high command,” Lapang said from New Delhi on Sunday. “As a disciplined Congressman I will abide by my party’s directives. I am prepared to step down for the sake of the party’s unity.”Lapang rushed to New Delhi on Sunday, a day after 21 Congress MLAs led bySangma took a flight to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi. “We have chosen Sangma unanimously as the new leader,” a senior Meghalaya Congress leader said from Shillong.Sangma could not be contacted but an aide said he was set to be the new CM.The Congress dissidents wanted Lapang to drop certain non-Congress and Independent legislators from the ministry and replace them with party MLAs. But Lapang resisted the move, arguing he could not remove ‘friends’ who had helped the Congress return to power last year.

Rupee eases by 25 p against dollar in early trade

Mumbai, Apr 19 (PTI) The Indian rupee depreciated by 25 paise to 44.57 a dollar in early trade today on capital outflows by foreign funds from equities and the dollar's gain overseas.The rupee closed higher by 11 paise at 44.32/33 a dollar in the previous session.Forex dealers said capital outflows by foreign funds from equities and dollar's strength against other Asian currencies, mainly weighed on the rupee sentiment.Meanwhile, the Bombay Stock Exchange index Sensex fell by 244.02 points, or 1.38 per cent to 17,347.16 points in the opening trade today.

Facebook deletes Osama Bin Laden's account

New York, Apr 19 (AFP) Facebook has said it had disabled an account on the social networking site under the name of al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, which posted extremist Islamic content and had garnered over 1,000 "fans." "People often attempt to register fake accounts under the name of famous or infamous people and we have a number of technical measures designed to prevent this behaviour," Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes told AFP yesterday in an email. "Sometimes these fakes do get through but there is no evidence to suggest that the account in question or the other dozens of people who have tried to present themselves as Osama Bin Laden have any relation to the terrorist," he said. The account, which was disabled on Friday, had posted speeches and audio recordings of Islamic extremists, which were produced by the al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Sahab Media Group, ABC News reported.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Rihanna kicks off European tour in ultra-sexy outfits

LONDON - Sexy singer Rihanna wowed her fans with a range of stunning outfits as she kicked off her European tour. The most notable of her dresses was a raunchy black outfit. “The show was incredible, she even rides around on a giant gun,” the News of the World quoted a source as saying, about her gig in Antwerp, Belgium. The insider added: “She looked amazing and the costumes were out of this world.” (ANI)


Manufacturing fault, not UFO, caused turbine blade failure in Scotland

LONDON - Engineers have found that a manufacturing defect, not UFO, caused the turbine blade failure at a Scottish wind farm last month.Manufacturers Siemens, the German engineering company, discovered that the giant turbine blade snapped off because of freak problems with the glue used to coat it - scotching theories it may have been hit by lightning or, as some even suggested, an unidentified flying object.The catastrophic failure of the 150ft-long, 14-tonne blade at the Whitelees site near Eaglesham sparked global concerns about the safety of wind farm equipment.However, a spokesman for Siemens said that the blade broke off due to what it described as a one-off manufacturing fault in its outer coating.“We will carry out further investigations but we think there was a manufacturing defect in the laminate that covers the blade, a weak spot which caused it to break and fall off,” the Scotsman quoted spokesman Oliver Loenker as saying. (ANI)

Kiwi politician under fire for comparing himself to Jesus

WELLINGTON - North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams has come under fire for comparing himself to the Jesus on the cross.A group of his colleagues will present him with a letter asking for his immediate resignation.It is alleged that Williams urinated on a tree outside council offices after drinking at a Takapuna restaurant and wrote an email to councillors.“Yes two blokes got cru-ci-fied this week …and both will most cer-tainly rise from the dead to come back to haunt a few people!!” he wrote in the mail.The email was sent on April 4, Easter Sunday, reports The New Zealand Herald News.Catholic Diocese of Auckland spokeswoman Lyndsay Freer said Williams’ comment was inappropriate.“Jesus died for our sins, but he [Williams] appears to be crucified for his own.” (ANI)

Celebrating World Heritage Day with the youth (April 18 is World Heritage Day)

NEW DELHI - With an aim to educate the youth about protection, preservation and propagation of Indian heritage, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) conducted various fun-filled activities at the Red Fort as part of the World Heritage Day celebrations Sunday.“Our main objective is to educate the youth on protection, preservation and propagation of our great heritage, for which our country is known,” B.R. Mani, ASI joint director, told IANS.“This year, we are conducting various activities for school children, through which we tell them the importance of heritage and monument sites in our country,” Mani said.“This day (World Heritage Day) offers us an opportunity to raise awareness about the diversity of our cultural heritage,” he added.Around 40 students from Tagore International School and Deshbandhu college here participated in various competitions like debate, drawing, extempore and essay. The topic of the essay competition was “Adapt a Heritage”.The students also participated in a cleanliness drive and took oath to protect the monuments in and around the capital.For the older people, the ASI conducted special lectures on conservation of heritage sites at the Red Fort.

Use of nuclear arms ‘haram’, says Khamenei

TEHRAN - Use of nuclear arms is “haram” (religiously forbidden) and it is necessary for all to protect mankind from the grave disaster, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said.“Any use or even threat to use nuclear weapons is a serious and material violation of indisputable rules of humanitarian law and a cogent example of a war crime,” Khamenei was quoted as saying Saturday by IRNA news agency.The Iranian supreme leader said: “There is no winner in a nuclear war and entering such a war is irrational and inhuman.”He stressed the need to find “sensible and practical ways and solutions to counter the threat of nuclear weapons against humanity.”The Ayatollah also urged participants at the First International Conference on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, which began here Saturday, to take “serious steps towards protecting world peace and stability.”Officials and ministers from 60 countries are taking part in the conference.

Right to Food act to be brought out soon, says HM

Chennai, Apr 18 (PTI) Union Home Minister P Chidambaram today said the Centre would soon come out with a comprehensive Right to Food Act."After the Right to Information Act, Right to Work Act and Right to Education Act, the Government is working on a Right to food Act, which will be enforced soon," he said at a function here.He claimed that the Congress-led UPA government's rights based approach has ensured faster economic growth, benefiting all sections of society in the country.On the education front, he said disbursement of loans and scholarships to students, especially Dalits, has reached "unprecedented levels" under the UPA government.In 2008-2009, education loans worth Rs 25,000 crore were disbursed to poor students and this figure was expected to go up to Rs 45,000 crore during 2009-2010, benefiting about 25 lakh students, he said.

Taliban says will break the Americans teeth

Kandahar (Afghanistan), Apr.18 (ANI): The Taliban believes they are winning and are able to negotiate from a position of strength.Asked about a forthcoming Nato offensive in the Kandahar region, a local Taliban commander told The Times: “We’re ready for this. We’re going to break the Americans’ teeth.”The Taliban leaders said that lessons had been learnt from NATO’s last big offensive in the Marjah area of Helmand province earlier this year. When NATO gave advance notice of the operation, the Taliban were lured into sending too many fighters to the area, some of whom died.The leaders said that in Kandahar a plan to counter Nato had already been prepared.“There will be no surprise there. We have our people inside all positions in the city, in the government and the security forces,” The Times quoted Abdul Rashid, a Taliban spokesman, as saying. He added that America already had enough problems “to haunt her” and fighting in Kandahar would only turn more people against it.“People don’t trust the foreigners because they are backing the warlords. People are fed up with crime and brutality and that’s a big problem for the Americans. We’re well positioned, with supporters everywhere,” he added. Abdul Rashid said there had been Taliban commanders who had financed their campaigns by taking bribes to give safe passage to Nato supply convoys or from drug smugglers. But the Taliban’s leadership had ordered a halt to this.“What we do is not for a worldly cause — it is for the sake of Allah. More important than the fighting for us now is the process of purification. We are getting rid of all the rotten apples,” he said. (ANI)

IPL semi-finals shifted to Navi Mumbai

Mumbai, Apr 18 (ANI): The two semi-finals of the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament, which were scheduled to b held in Bangalore, have been shifted to Navi Mumbai for security reasons.Television reports said that foreigner players have expressed apprehensions and reservations about playing in Bangalore following Saturday''s bomb scare.The Bangalore Police had earlier hinted at not giving a green signal to the IPL semis till security issue is resolved.Bangalore Police Commissioner Shankar Bidari said, "Till full proof security is available, we won''t give permission for the IPL semifinal matches."Earlier on Sunday, three bombs were defused near the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium. The first one around 100 meters from the stadium and the second one near the Gandhi Murti, also near the stadium.A third explosive was defused near Gate Number One of the stadium.Sources said the bombers had time placed the devices behind a flex board.At least 12 people were wounded in the incidents on Saturday, which caused an hour''s delay in the Indian Premier League (IPL) match between Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers of Bangalore.Roughly 20,000 people had packed into the stadium and hundreds more were streaming in when a loud explosion at Gate Number 12 rattled nearby buildings.The first explosion occurred at 3:15 p.m. and the second 20 minutes later.The explosives were found in bushes.Preliminary forensic investigation revealed that the explosive was an ammonium nitro glycerine gelatin stick. It was detonated with the help of a microchip timer.Both the IPL semis were scheduled to be played at Bangalore on April 21 and 22 respectively. (ANI)

Benazir Bhutto murder 'avoidable', UN inquiry concludes

benazir bhuttoThe assassination of ex-Pakistani PM Benazir Bhutto in 2007 could have been prevented and the subsequent inquiry was bungled, according to a UN report. It says insufficient security measures were taken by the government of then President Pervez Musharraf. And it concludes that the police deliberately failed to investigate the murder properly as they feared intelligence agency involvement. An aide to President Musharraf said the report was a "pack of lies". 'Failed profoundly' The independent UN commission of inquiry urges the authorities to launch a "credible, serious" investigation into Ms Bhutto's death at a rally in the city of Rawalpindi "and bring those responsible to justice". Its report says that the pervasive presence of Pakistan's powerful politicised intelligence agencies hampered the initial inquiry. "The commission believes that the failure of the police to investigate effectively Ms Bhutto's assassination was deliberate," the report says. "These officials, in part fearing intelligence agencies' involvement, were unsure of how vigorously they ought to pursue actions, which they knew, as professionals, they should have taken." The report criticises the intelligence agencies for conducting parallel investigations, gathering evidence which was only selectively shared with the police. Speaking at a news conference at the UN in New York, the head of the commission, Heraldo Munoz, said: "A range of government officials failed profoundly in their efforts, first to protect Ms Bhutto and second to investigate with vigour all those responsible for her murder, not only in the execution of the attack but also in its conception, planning and financing." One of President Musharraf's aides, Rashid Qureshi, told the BBC: "The report makes absurd statements. The inquiry was not well conducted." He insisted that President Musharraf was not in charge of Pakistani security at the time of the assassination as he had already resigned as head of the army. Ms Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) - led by her widower, current President Asif Ali Zardari - said it was satisfied with the inquiry. Senior party leaders told the BBC that the findings were "exactly what they had been saying all along". And a presidential spokesman, Farhatullah Babar, said efforts to track down the perpetrators behind the assassination would be redoubled. Publication delay The commission was set up in July last year in response to a request from Pakistan. The three-member panel was mandated to investigate the facts and circumstances of Bhutto's death, not assign criminal responsibility. Its report had been due to be published at the end of March but was delayed for two weeks at the request of President Zardari, who had called for the investigation. The government said it wanted extra time to include input from Afghanistan, the US and Saudi Arabia, three countries that had apparently warned Ms Bhutto of a death threat. President Musharraf has declared that the late head of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, organised the assassination. Ms Bhutto herself had written that four suicide attack squads were after her, some linked to al-Qaeda. But she also accused a group of senior politicians and intelligence officials of plotting to kill her, and many of her followers blame elements of the military establishment and President Musharraf's government for her death.