Thursday, July 29, 2010

Jessica Simpson to judge ‘American Idol’?

LONDON - Jessica Simpson might take over Simon Cowell as a judge on ‘American Idol’, according to reports.Both Justin Timberlake and Sir Elton John have earlier rejected the role in hit TV talent show, reports the Daily Express.Speculation has mounted over who will fill the vacant judging seat following Cowell’s exit from the programme earlier this year (10), with recent reports listing the ‘SexyBack’ hitmaker and the Rocket Man as possible replacements alongside Harry Connick, Jr. and Chris Isaak.Reps for both Timberlake and John moved quickly to shoot down the claims and now Simpson has become the latest celebrity touted for the job.According to TMZ, a source has told that the blonde beauty has had “several meetings” with American Idol bosses and that there’s “mutual interest” from both parties to bring Simpson on board.An official announcement is not expected to be made until September (10). (ANI)

Spice Girls founders on talent hunt for Asian band

NEW DELHI - FarWest Entertainment, founders of British pop girl group Spice Girls, is planning an all-Asian girls band and is on the lookout for a talented candidate in India.FarWest has launched a global initiative ‘Project Lotus’, which is a movement to find, train, groom, form and launch a global and international Pan-Asian girl band aka the Asian Spice Girls.The band will bring together five good-looking, intelligent and talented young Asian women from China, Japan, South Korea and India.“This is really Asia’s time on the world stage and there’s no better way to connect the world than through music and entertainment. We hope we will build a group that will blaze the way for more talented Asian performers in the international entertainment scene,” Jon Niermann, CEO FarWest Entertainment and former president of Walt Disney (Asia), said in a statement.Producer Eliot Kennedy, who has worked extensively with the original girl band, said: “We look at this as an opportunity for these girls to become ambassadors of their countries and showcase their talent to the rest of the world.”A Grammy Award winning songwriter, Kennedy is also known for his works with Celine Dion, Aretha Franklin, Robbie Williams and Blue.The responsibility of finding the Indian contender has been given to Alchemist, a young talent solutions company.“It would be a challenge and an exciting task to present the best Indian talent to the international jury from which the Indian finalists will be chosen. We are going to audition in four top metros - Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi and Bangalore - and expect our online partners to do so for all those who cannot make it to these cities,” said Manish Porwal, managing director, Alchemist Talent solutions.Five Indian finalists will be chosen, who will be flown to Hong Kong to meet and train with finalists from the other countries. The band will sing only in English.A 14-part series, “Project Lotus” will be aired on Zee CafĂ©.Music composer Shamir Tandon will lead the judge’s panel of the show in India.The English band members were Emma Bunton, Geri Halliwell, Melanie Brown, Melanie Chisholm and Victoria Beckham.

CBI summons IPS officer Geeta Johri in Sohrabuddin case

Gandhinagar, July 29 (ANI): The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Thursday summoned Geetha Johri, the first woman IPS officer of Gujarat, in connection with the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.Johri, who was the part of Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the case, has been asked to appear before the CBI on August 10.The CBI had already questioned Johri twice before.According to television reports, the line of questioning to Johri will be based on the allegations made by Vasant Solanki, the investigating officer of the case.Earlier, the CBI has also summoned former Gujarat Director General of Police (DGP) P C Pandey and asked him to appear before it on August 11.Pandey was DGP of Gujarat when the state CID was investigating the fake encounter case.This is for the first time Pandey has been called for questioning by the CBI. It had earlier called other IPS officers, including G C Raigar and O P Mathur.Meanwhile, the CBI team is likely to seek permission from its headquarters to question Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in connection with the case.The investigating agency may want Modi to answer some questions in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case.The CBI wants to know if Modi was aware of the attempts being made by top police officials to scuttle the probe.If Modi is summoned for questioning, it will be for the second time this year. He was earlier questioned by a Special Investigation Team in 2002 Gujarat riots case.Sohrabuddin and his wife Kausar Bi were killed in an alleged fake encounter in 2005. (ANI)

24-hr Arunachal Bandh paralyses life

The 24-hour Arunachal Pradesh bandh called by the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union paralysed the normal life in the state today. The AAPSU called a 24-hour Arunachal Bandh on Wednesday in protest against the custodial death of bus conductor Jumchi Nguso and subsequent non-fulfillment of the students’ body’s demand by the Government. The AAPSU president Takam Tatung said that they would not budge until their demands for action against the guilty police official are complied with. The state government has recruitment to Bayi Nguso, wife of the deceased victim Jumchi Nguso in the transport corporation on compassionate ground. The government also sanctioned a sum of Rs five lakh as ex-gratia payment and Rs 50,000 as a No fault liability. The AAPSU also demanded the government to release the stipend of the poor students pending for last five months. The All Arunachal Pradesh State Transport Welfare Association also called a 12-hour Chakka Bandh last week protesting the government inaction in punishing the guilty cops involved in the death of Tachi Nguso, a conductor of the state transport. The conductor died after being hit by a vehicle of the chief minister’s convoy. He was taken to the Naharlagun police station after the mishap where he was allegedly beaten up by IRB men leading to his death. After the incident, a mob went on rampage in Naharlagun police station. Hundreds of people laid siege to Naharlagun police station and shouted anti-police slogans and pelted stones as the Naharlagun police station. Several police vehicles were severely damaged in the attack. The protesters threatened to bury the conductor’s body inside the police station. Later, the police sought the help of CRPF which resorted to blank firing and burst tear gas shell to disperse the mob. Several students’ organizations demanded immediate suspension of Naharlagun SDPO BS Mehera and Naharlagun Police station officer-in-charge LR Rana for the incident. They also demanded ex-gratia for the victims’ family.

Tight security around Manipur assembly

The security measure put in place in and around the Assembly in view of the ongoing Assembly Session has caused much inconvenience to the people. We have a report on this. The Monsoon Session of the Manipur assembly in underway under tight security arrangement and in view of the session, various security measures have been taken up. The Assembly building is situated adjacent to the BT Road, Rupmahal Tank and parts of Thangal Bazar. The heavy deployment of security forces has caused inconveniences to the business community operating nearby the area. They are incurring heavy losses because of the restrictions put in place. The restriction also comes as a big hindrance to the medical sector of the state as 30% of the state’s medical whole sellers and stockists are located at the vicinity of the Assembly Building. It is estimated that an approximate Rs. 8 to 10 lacs are lost per day due to the restrictions. The All Manipur Chemist and Druggist Association, which is seeking some relaxation of the restrictions particularly for the commuters has also revealed that the matter has earlier been informed to the authorities including the chief minister but no positive step has been taken so far. Due to this, the Association has decided to take the matter to the court if the state government does not take any step in the near future. Besides, there are also a number of other Business establishments in the area that are incurring heavy losses as all the customers are barred from entering the vicinity of the Assembly Building. The Manipur assembly session started on July 7.

Nagaland Forest department refutes Customs claim

The Forest Department of Nagaland has refuted claims of the Customs officials of Guwahati that the timber seized at New Guwahati rail station on July 8 is illegal and is of foreign origin. The department clarified that the timber is of legal origin duly approved by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest. The timber had been detained by the custom’s department on the apprehension that they are mixed with contraband goods. Customs officials in Guwahati seized a huge consignment of timber, allegedly illegal, shipped from Dimapur Railway station on July 8. The timber of mix species including moulded timber was destined for Nangloi in Delhi. The forest department of Nagaland however, stated that the timber is fully legal. Dimapur Divisional Forest Officer, Kocha Meyase, while talking to NETV said that the department has provided all the supporting papers to proof the legality of the seized timber and not as alleged. Queried on its origin, the DFO said that it was all sourced from inside the state, within the limit of stipulated norms. The DFO said the Customs people have no written authority, whatsoever, to conduct such an investigation. All the seized timber, the DFO said were sourced from identified forest ‘working schemes’ in the state approved under the Union Ministry of Environment & Forests and within the purview of the Nagaland Tree Felling Regulation, 2002. The department pointed out that a letter was written to the Railway and Custom authorities in Guwahati by the special investigation team to allow the wagons loaded with timber to proceed to its destination Delhi. However, despite the SIT’s guidelines, the wagons were unsealed by the custom officials. High Powered committee constituted by the ministry of Environment and Forests under directive from the Supreme Court is the sole authority which regulates the export of timber from within the state. Therefore, the DFO alleged that by breaking open the sealed wagons of the train midway have breached that standing order. The seizure was made on July 8 first and the department was informed of the same by the customs department, following which, the department sent a forest official with valid documents to Guwahati for verification. Despite producing the documents, the customs went ahead and unsealed one wagon. According to the forest department, the wagons which moved from Dimapur on July 7, contains 14 wagons of local Teak worth Rs. 29, 48,400, 7 wagons of moulded timber worth Rs. 1, 12, 00,000, 21 wagons of hardwood worth Rs. 2, 94, 84,000.

NCC takes up noble job; NCC to clean up Shillong River

The National Cadet Corps has proposed to clean the Wah Umkhrah River in Shillong and has approached the state government for financial aid. The NCC will also conduct a mass awareness rally in Shillong to support its cause and clean up the river basin. The National Cadet Corps is going to start an ambitious environment protection programme — Project Pynkhuid Wahumkhrah — as a pilot project to address the massive pollution of the river flowing through Shillong. The project will be carried in a phased manner at a cost of Rs 7 lakh. If there is any additional expenditure, the State Government will bear the amount. However, Colonel in-charge Group Commander Jose Purakel said that the NCC headquarters at the initial stage was starting awareness programme among the general public as well as among the officials of various government organizations in the State about the proposed green project. Wah Umkhrah in Shillong is being polluted day by day as people dump garbage into the river. More dangerous is the dumping of medical waste mainly by Shillong Civil Hospital. This river is connected to the Umiam reservoir. If the pollution of this river is not stopped, in the days ahead it would be more hazardous. The River which originates at Demthring is 5-km long and is of immense significance to Shillong. But the infusion of effluents and other polluting substances into the Wah Umkhrah river is a major cause of concern, as this water source feeds the reservoir at Umiam. As the river flows through the Shillong town, nearly 80 percent of the city’s waste, garbage and effluents are being discharged into the river every day. The Umiam, Wah Umkhrah and Umshyrpi rivers have been recognised as highly polluted. Though the state government had initiated various campaigns for a clean Shillong involving students, no major work was undertaken. The state is facing a serious problem of surface and ground water pollution because of indiscriminate discharge of untreated waste. Known as the Scotland of the East, Shillong has lost its pristine charm.

AGP-BJP honeymoon over?

Though none of the parties have admitted it, but the rift between the AGP and BJP is wide open now. A decision snapping the ties with the saffron party may come very soon from the AGP camp. In the recently-held Chintan Baithak of the BJP, the party decided to continue its alliance with the Asom Gana Parishad till the 2011 assembly polls. The BJP leadership in both central and state level is in a mood to continue the alliance with the AGP. However, the alliance between the two parties is in jeopardy especially after the Lok Sabha elections. BJP national President Nitin Gadkari’s comment on the poll pact during his maiden visit to Assam too added fuel to already bitter relation between the two. Now, the BJP leader P. Chandrasekhar’s comment on AGP over the matter of infiltration problem has finally sealed the fate of the tie. BJP leader P. Chandrasekhar recently criticized the AGP for its inaction over infiltration problem during its regime. On the other hand, Varun Gandhi’s appointment as the election in-charge of Assam has also made AGP to rethink over its tie. Moreover, Varun Gandhi’s reputation as a hardcore Hindutva leader and his appointment as Assam in-charge have sent a clear signal that the party will heavily bank on Hindu votes in the next assembly election. Following these developments, the AGP is most likely to severe its tie with the saffron party very soon and a decision in this regard could be expected in the General Council meeting of the party scheduled for next month. The general Council meeting of the AGP is likely to be held in August where the steering committee’s decision on poll alliance is likely to be finalized and a new political equation will start in the state.

ED to grill Niranjan, Juel, 11 others

In a significant development, the enforcement directorate rolls up its sleeves to grill altogether 13 persons accused in the multi crore scam in Dima Hasao district of Assam. A special court in Guwahati on Wednesday has allowed enforcement directorate to quiz these persons inside the Guwahati central jail. The National Investigation Agency probing the terror funding case in Dima Hasao district has unearthed many startling revelations. NIA has already grilled DHD(J) commander in chief Nianjan Hojai after he was captured in Kathmandu. Of late, the things are set to take a new turn. In a significant development, the enforcement directorate has received permission to grill altogether 13 persons accused in the multi core Dima Hasao scam. They include suspended social welfare officer R H Khan, DHD(J) chief Juel Garlosa, his military chief Niranjan Hojai. The enforcement directorate was accorded permission to proceed by a special court in Guwahati when it was hearing a petition filed in December, 2009. Special judge Adhir Kumar Das on Wednesday allowed enforcement directorate to grill these persons inside the Guwahati Central Jail. The enforcement directorate is also probing the recent hawala scam. The involvement of enforcement directorate in the probe into the multi crore scam will indeed help the authorities unearth more clues.

152 killed in Pak plane crash

A plane carrying 152 people crashed near Islamabad on Wednesday, killing everyone on board. The plane operated by private carrier Airblue slammed into the Margalla Hills near the Pakistan capital Islamabad. The plane was traveling from Karachi to Islamabad, and was preparing to land in cloudy and rainy conditions when it crashed. The exact cause of the crash is unknown at this time. A passenger jet crashed into the hills surrounding Pakistan's capital amid poor weather Wednesday, killing all 152 people on board and blazing a path of devastation strewn with body parts and twisted metal wreckage. 146 passengers were on the flight along with six crew members. Local TV footage showed twisted metal wreckage hanging from trees and scattered across the ground on a bed of broken branches. Fire was visible and smoke rose from the scene as a helicopter hovered above. The army said it was sending special troops to aid the search. The search effort was hampered by muddy conditions and smoldering wreckage that authorities were having trouble extinguishing by helicopter. The cause of the crash was not immediately clear, but Defense Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar said the government does not suspect terrorism. The plane left the southern city of Karachi at 7:45 a.m. for a two-hour scheduled flight to Islamabad and was trying to land during cloudy and rainy weather. Airblue is a private service based in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, and Wednesday's flight was believed to be carrying mostly Pakistanis. Rescue workers scouring the heavily forested hills recovered 50 bodies from the wreckage. The plane was about to land at the Islamabad airport when it lost contact with the control tower. The crash site covered a large area on both sides of the hills, including a section behind Faisal Mosque, one of Islamabad's most prominent landmarks, and not far from the Daman-e-Koh resort. At the Islamabad airport, hundreds of friends and relatives of those on board the flight swarmed ticket counters desperately seeking information. A large cluster of people also surrounded a passenger list posted near the Airblue ticket counter. The Airblue has announced an investigation into the cause of the crash. The plane had no known technical issues, and the pilots did not send any emergency signals. Officials at first thought it was a small plane, but later revised that. The Pakistan Airline Pilot Association said the plane appeared to have strayed off course, possibly because of the poor weather. A spokesman for the airline said an investigation would be launched into the cause of the crash. He said the plane had no known technical issues, and the pilots did not send any emergency signals. The last major plane crash in Pakistan was in July 2006 when a Fokker F-27 twin-engine aircraft operated by Pakistan International Airlines slammed into a wheat field on the outskirts of the central Pakistani city of Multan, killing all 45 people on board. Airblue flies within Pakistan as well as internationally to the United Arab Emirates, Oman and the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, India has expressed grief over the death of the 152 people in the plane crash.

New Delhi, July 28, 2010

A woman from Manipur, nursing two-months-old baby was beaten and outraged her modesty by two men at Sikanderpur, Gurgaon last night. Two men who came to visit Mercy were also merciless beaten. People from North East India are severely facing racial attack and discrimination in Delhi and NCR continuously without any measurement taken by the government and police forces.A source reaching to North East Support Centre & Helpline says that Marcy (name changed) age 28-years-old is wife of an Indian army from Manipur posted at Lucknow, is nursing a two-months-old baby, residing at Sikanderpur, Gurgaon, Haryana. Incident happened when her a lady friend visited at around 9 PM along three boys from her village in Manipur who were leaving next day for study at Bangalore. After half and hour, Mercy’s friends left the house and a man age of 30, from same locality, name not known, started beating them. When Mercy heard the sound of beating, went out to stopped the man beating her friends. The assaulted and abused her to outrage her modesty with vulgar remarks in Hindi (gandagi aurat and bazaar aurat).Neighbors came forward and sided with local man and abused her and her friends. Another man, name not known came and joined the local and started slapping Mercy repeated six times. Mercy and other north east boys and girls who are living in the same building and localities were threatened and warned not to report to police, otherwise face consequences.Mercy reports to North East Support Centre & Helpline, “Whole night I was so afraid with my little baby locked up the house and stayed in side till I could get friends from Manipur to come and help. I informed to my house owner and he did not come to help me also.”North East Support Centre & Helpline have reported the matter to Mr. Anil Dawal – Deputy Commission Police Crime Branch and he assured to take up the matter. Meanwhile North East Support Centre & Helpline has appealed the North East Welfare Association, Gurgaon to help the Mercy and her friends to file a complaint in police station.North East Support Centre & Helpline is submitting a memorandum to Chief Minister of Haryana and Director General Police to take up the preventive measurement to stop the racial attack and discrimination meted out to the people from North East India, particularly in Sikanderpur village, Gurgaon.source - north east suppport centre and helpline