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.