Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Barack Obama holds talks on barter with Chinese prime minister

Barack Obama all-overs calmly with the Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao, afore their talks in Beijing.

Barack Obama met the Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao, in the basic today, in talks that were accepted to focus on barter and added bread-and-butter disagreements.

Speaking afore the two men met, Obama said that the American accord with China was deepening to awning all-embracing affairs such as altitude change and security.

Wen said: "We are absolutely on the bend of affective advanced with this relationship."

But barter and bread-and-butter disputes arose in Obama's collective columnist accident with the Chinese president, Hu Jintao, bygone and the two governments are accepted to analyze them added absolutely today.

US admiral had played bottomward expectations of affecting breakthroughs in the talks, although there were signs of beforehand on altitude change advanced of abutting month's Copenhagen summit.

Some analysts appropriate that the absolute collective account issued by the two governments was added able than the columnist accident had suggested.

Bonnie Glaser, an able on China at the Centre for Strategic and All-embracing Studies in Washington, told Associated Columnist the account underscored that "the two countries accept a lot of accepted interests, but it charcoal to be apparent whether they can co-operate to beforehand them".

Obama fabricated apparent in his columnist accident with Hu bygone that he was anxious about China's bill policy. The US wants Beijing to acquiesce the renminbi to appreciate.

Last anniversary there were hints of a accessible acceleration in its value, admitting not in the abbreviate term, but admiral accept back played bottomward such prospects.

He Yafei, the agent adopted minister, told a columnist conference afterwards the collective actualization that advancement a abiding bill during the banking crisis "not alone helped the all-around abridgement but additionally the adherence of the world's banking markets".

With exports accepting collapsed for a 12th ages in a row – admitting at a decelerating clip – Beijing is apprenticed to be cautious.

"Any action changes by China, including on the barter rate, will be based on its appraisal of its own interests, not on alien pressure," said Jin Canrong, an able on China-US ties at Renmin University in Beijing.

Wen is accepted to highlight Chinese acrimony at US barter tariffs – referred to advisedly by Hu bygone – and apropos over US government spending. In March, Wen said about that he afraid about China's all-inclusive US assets.

China has accumulated $2.27tn of adopted barter affluence and analysts accept about two-thirds of that is invested in dollar-denominated assets, authoritative it calmly the more good adopted lender to the US.

Obama will appointment a amplitude of the Great Wall abreast the basic after today, afore aerial to South Korea – area barter will additionally be aerial on the agenda. Seoul is blame adamantine for beforehand on a chargeless barter agreement.

Obama is additionally accepted to altercate North Korea's nuclear programme back he meets Admiral Lee Myung-bak. The US has agreed to accelerate its appropriate envoy, Stephen Bosworth, to Pyongyang for talks.

North Korea bass bottomward adverse address yesterday, adage in an official bi-weekly that it capital more good ties with the South.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Over 100 dead in El Salvador flooding

MEXICO CITY/SAN SALVADOR: More than 100 people were killed as heavy rains set off mudslides and caused flooding in El Salvador, rescue workers

The rainfall, which came amid a cold front and the remainders of Caribbean Hurricane Ida, caused havoc in other parts of the region including southern Mexico, where more than 200,000 people were affected.

More than 60 people died in the Salvadoran capital, San Salvador, with another 60 missing late Sunday.

More than 40 residents of the town of San Vicente and the surrounding areas around the base of the Chinchontepec volcano perished in mudslides, said Salvadoran Interior Minister Humberto Centeno. One mudslide covered an area of eight kilometres, damaging several towns, he said.

More than 300 houses were destroyed in San Vicente, and streets and bridges in the region had collapsed.

Some parts of the region were still cut off by flooding. The hurricane had grown to a category 2 storm Sunday. It slid along Mexico's Caribbean coast and past the resort city of Cancun on the Yucatan peninsula, where officials reported little damage late Sunday.

Meteorologists at the US National Hurricane Centre in Miami forecast that Ida would continue into the Gulf of Mexico with landfall looming along the US Gulf Coast.

News Source:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

In blow to Barack Obama, Republicans win 2 US state races

WASHINGTON: Republicans surged to victory in two governors' races on Tuesday, wresting control from Democrats and delivering a blow to President
Barack Obama heading into next year's congressional elections.

The victories in Virginia and New Jersey were triumphs for a Republican Party looking to rebuild after being booted from power in national elections in 2006 and 2008.

In both states, Republicans won the votes of independents who had been crucial to Obama's victory last year.

In the traditionally Democratic state of New Jersey, Gov. Jon Corzine, a billionaire former Wall Street executive, was defeated by Republican Chris Christie.

In the other race, Bob McDonnell won a resounding victory over R. Creigh Deeds in Virginia, a state that was once a Republican stronghold but elected Democrats in the last two gubernatorial races and also backed Obama last year.

News Source:

Sunday, November 1, 2009

India train crash leaves 14 dead

Fourteen people have been killed when a passenger train rammed into a truck at an unmanned railway crossing in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

Twenty five others were injured in the incident that happened in Gonda area on Sunday afternoon, officials say.

The railways have ordered a probe into the incident.

Correspondents say there are often collisions between vehicles - including school buses - and trains at India's many unmanned railway crossings.

Reports said that the overcrowded passenger train which was heading to the city of Ayodhya collided with a truck carrying sand near Rasoolpur village.

Eleven train passengers, most of whom where travelling on the roof, died on the spot, while three others died of injuries at a hospital.

Last month, two passenger trains collided near the city of Mathura in northern India, killing at least 22 people.

One of the trains, the Mewar Express, was stopped at a red signal when the Goa Express rammed into it from behind.

The state-owned Indian Railways form an immense network connecting every corner of the vast country.

It operates 9,000 passenger trains and carries 18 million passengers every day.

News Source:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mathura train collision: 10 dead, probe ordered

New Delhi: At least 10 people were killed and 20 injured when the Delhi-bound Goa Express rammed into the stationary Mewar Express near Mathura early on Wednesday morning.

The Goa Express hit the Mewar Express from behind at around 0445 hours IST, Rajesh Vajpayee, CPRO North-Central Railway said. An unreserved compartment of the Mewar Express was damaged.

Most passengers who were trapped in the damaged coach have been rescued. However, the death toll is likely to go up.

Railway authorities used gas cutters to extricate trapped passengers from the damaged coach. The injured have been rushed to various hospitals in Mathura, Aligarh and Agra.
“Driver changed tracks in the last minute and crashed into the other train,” said an eyewitness. While another eyewitness recalled how the train felt a “massive impact and those in the upper berth fell down”.

Railway officials and Army personnel have reached the accident spot and rescue operation is going on. Some of the passengers from the two trains have also joined in the rescue operations.

Meanwhile, a rescue worker said, “We first rescued the children. There were many women passengers. No specific equipments were given to us by the administration. We managed on our own with hammers.”

Divisional Railway Manager, Agra, R D Tripathi, who was at the spot, said prima facie the train driver of the Goa Express was at fault.

Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee has ordered an inquiry into the mishap. She also said that compensation of Rs 5 lakh will be given to the victims' relatives.

Congress MP Mohammad Azharuddin, who was travelling in the Mathura train route, said, “I was in the Tamil Nadu Express, which was also plying on the same route. When I woke up at 8:30 am, I realised that that my train has not reached the Nizamuddin railway station. Railway Ministry should minimise train accidents.”

News Source:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Centre ready for talks on Kashmir: Chidambaram

Home Minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday set the stage for talks on the Kashmir issue saying, "New Delhi is ready to talk to all shades of opinion to find a solution to the political dimension of the problem".

Without naming any separatist group or any regional political party, Chidambaram dropped first broad hints at resumption of the dialogue process.

"Jammu and Kashmir has unique geographical identity and history, which will be considered while pursuing a solution to the problem," said Chidambaram.

The Home Minister is in Srinagar on a two-day visit and is scheduled to speak at the editors meet on Wednesday.

He stressed that New Delhi is committed to a solution to the political dimension of Kashmir. "I have come with open mind…have no baggage. I am here to listen to and absorb suggestion from different groups," said the Home Minister, who spoke to party workers for the first time at Srinagar's Congress office located in Lal Chowk.

Observors see the statement as ground-preparing exercise by the Centre ahead of Prime Minister Manmoham Singh's scheduled visit to Kashmir on October 27. The Prime Minister is likely to offer an invitation to separatists groups to enter into a dialogue to discuss the Kashmir issue.

"There is no problem in the world which cannot be solved. There were many issues like Jammu and Kashmir across the globe, even in other parts of the country…and such issues have been resolved," said Chidamabarm adding any solution to the problem should be acceptable to all.

The Home Minister sounded very positive on the security situation of the state. "There is tremendous decrease in infiltration, civilian and police deaths and also in militant attacks in Jammu and Kashmir," said Chidambaram.

He praised local police for "effectively tackling militancy" in the state. "If police chief asks me for bigger role I am ready. We can move the army to the borders and the paramilitary can assist the police in countering militancy," said Chidamabaram.

This was a long pending demand of both the People's Democratic Party and the ruling National Conference that security should be handed over to local police and army should be sent to barracks.

The Home Minister was critical of the state government on its failure to spend developmental fund released under the Prime Minister's Reconstruction Plan. The state has been allocated 25,000 crore under the plan. The Home Minister said he would monitor the plan himself and hold a weekly meeting to gauge the progress.

News Source:

Monday, October 12, 2009

Maoists attack railway station, blast government office in Bihar

Patna: Maoist guerrillas attacked a railway station, set ablaze a cabin room, blasted a rail track, a government office and a mobile phone tower in different parts of Bihar to enforce their strike, officials said Tuesday.
Armed Maoists Monday night attacked Banshipur railway station in Lakhisarai, about 150 km from here, ransacked its office and set it ablaze. They also held about half a dozen railway officials, including the station master, hostage for over an hour.

"Maoists damaged the control panel and burnt official documents and tickets," said an official of Banshipur station on the Patna-Kiul section of East-Central Railway.

In a separate incident, the rebels blew up a rail track in Jamui district and the Sangrampur block development office in Munger district late Monday night.

Earlier, Maoists had blown up a mobile phone tower in Aurangabad district and dug up a village road also, an official said.

The outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) has called for a two-day strike in five states, including Bihar, to protest the central government's decision to step up its operations against the rebels. The strike has also been called to protest alleged police repression in the name of anti-Maoist operations.

The strike call by the Maoists had evoked a mixed response in Bihar Monday -- urban areas remained unaffected but normal life was hit in rural areas.

An official in the home department said the Maoist strike call evoked no response in urban areas including Patna, Gaya, Muzaffarpur, Bhagalpur and Purnea. But it had affected life in some rural parts that are considered Maoist strongholds in Aurangabad, Jehanabad, Arwal and Gaya districts.

"Business establishments and educational institutions were affected by the strike in Gaya, Aurangabad and Arwal," the official said.

"A red alert has been sounded and police officers have been asked to keep extra vigil," Additional Director General (police headquarters) Neelmani said.

News Source:

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Big B needs 7-hour sleep for birthday

The festivities have already begun though for Bigg Boss’ pop philosopher, who was welcomed with a birthday cake on the sets as he reached there for his weekly eviction duty. Bachchan says, “A cake was in store for me by the end of the evening by the unit and the multitude of people that have been working so hard on this show. Touched by their gesture I thank them profusely for all the hard work they put in for the sake of one man and leave.”

There will be more of the same for Big B. He blogs, “Tomorrow, the team of ‘Rann’ wish to bring in the first look launch for the film at a theatre nearby and cut a cake for my birth. It is the time of the year for cakes and their excesses and I shall be blowing candles a plenty. But stopping them would be a sacrilege and so one goes along. There is a line up of media interviews starting off from tomorrow morning. You do one you do a hundred.”

He confesses, “That is the norm and one goes along with it, though the excitement of birthdays and gifts has long since gone by.”

He signs off, saying, “I need to have a clear head in the morning and for this I need a clear seven-hour sleep. I indulge in that now ... it has been a rather long day.”

News Source:

Friday, October 9, 2009

Analysis: Barack Obama wins 2009 Nobel peace prize

From the moment that President Barack Obama - who has won the Nobel peace prize - entered the Oval Office, he made clear that resolving the conflict in the Middle East would be a key priority of his foreign policy.

His very first phone call was to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, and his speech in Cairo sought to cast America as an even-handed peacemaker in the Holy Land. Soon afterwards, Mr Obama also pledged to negotiate a new treaty on nuclear disarmament with Russia.

So far, however, Mr Obama has no concrete achievement to his credit. The Israelis and Palestinians are no closer to a settlement today than when he took office nine months ago. On the contrary, recent violence in Jerusalem raises the possibility of a new Palestinian uprising: an event that would force the "peace process" into reverse.

Although America and Russia have begun talks on a new disarmament agreement, no treaty has been concluded.

The only possible explanation for the judges' decision to reward Mr Obama is that they are betting on his future achievements. They think he might secure an epoch-making settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians as well as a sweeping disarmament treaty with Russia. Having previously given the Nobel Peace Prize to leaders who have made real agreements to resolve real conflicts, the judges now appear to be rewarding effort and possible future accomplishment.

In effect, they are taking out a bet on Mr Obama's future peacemaking skills. Are they being realistic?

There is a good chance of America and Russia concluding another treaty on reducing nuclear arms. This is for a simple reason: the Kremlin's nuclear arsenal is rapidly deteriorating anyway and a new disarmament deal represents Russia's only chance of maintaining nuclear parity with America. Concluding this treaty would be a real achievement for Mr Obama - but it would follow three previous nuclear disarmament deals and it would not visibly alter the balance of power in the world.

Meanwhile, the chances of an Israeli-Palestinian settlement are as remote as ever. The intractable problems at the heart of their conflict can be summed up in four words: borders, settlers, refugees, Jerusalem. Put simply, Mr Obama must devise a peace agreement which decides the borders of a Palestinian state, the fate of Jewish settlers living in the West Bank, the future of Palestinian refugees driven from Israel at its birth in 1948 and the division of Jerusalem into two national capitals.

Repeated attempts to resolve these issues, notably at the Camp David summit in 2000, have always failed, largely because the concessions required of both sides have been politically unacceptable. They remain unacceptable today. The "core issues" are certainly no closer to being settled than when Mr Obama took office in January.

But the judges appear to be betting that he can defy the odds and resolve them all in the next few years . Anyone who has followed events in the Middle East might not be entirely convinced by their optimism.

News Source:

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Aamir Khan reuniting with Salman Khan?

Actors Aamir Khan and Salman Khan are likely to act together if the latest news is to be believed. It is said that they would rub shoulders is a new film to be produced by Aamir Khan Productions and Sohail Khan production house.

Sources said that the actors will get equal footage in the film and a director would soon be on board. However, the other cast of the film is yet to be finalized.

Aamir and Salman have turned close after the release of Ghajini. Salman had recently invited Aamir for a special screening of his recent release Wanted.

However, Aamir’s spokesperson claimed that there is nothing in the offing at the moment. He said that with 3 Idiots and other three films on hand, he is not planning to take up any film.

News Source:

Monday, October 5, 2009

Bomb blast hits Pakistani capital

A bomb has exploded at a United Nations office in Pakistan's capital Islamabad, killing at least three people.

A foreigner is said to be among those killed in the explosion, at the World Food Programme offices.

Last week at least 16 people died in two suicide car bomb attacks in north-western Pakistan.

Correspondents say a string of recent bomb attacks show the Taliban appear to be reasserting themselves after a series of setbacks.

'A huge explosion downstairs'

Local television TV footage showed smoke rising from the heavily fortified UN building and shattered windows.

The explosion appeared to have been caused by a timed bomb planted in the basement of the offices, senior police official Tahir Alam told the BBC outside the WFP offices.

At least three people were killed and six injured, he said, adding that at least one of those killed was a foreign national.

The Associated Press quoted an unnamed female WFP employee as saying: "I was on the upper floor when there was the sound of a huge explosion downstairs.

"I found many of colleagues lying on the floor full of blood. We immediately put the most critically wounded in a vehicle and rushed them to hospital."

This is said to be the most serious attack in least three months to take place in the city, and security has been tightened across Islamabad.

News Source:

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Over 400,000 babies die within day of birth in India

More than 400,000 children die within 24 hours of their birth in India every year - the highest anywhere in the world, a study by an international charity said.

While globally this figure stands at two million babies dying within a day of their birth, the shocking and tragic fact is that the reason for these deaths are diseases and infections that are easily treatable, and therefore the deaths are preventable.

Launching their 'Everyone' campaign Monday which seeks commitment from individuals to save the lives of millions of children under the age of five, Thomas Chandy, CEO of Save the Children said: 'Every child deserves a chance to survive. And every one of us has a moral responsibility to act (to ensure that).'

Despite rapid economic growth, India accounts for one-fifth of newborn deaths in the world. Though the country has made significant progress in reducing child mortality, the newborn mortality rate at 39 per 1,000 live births and child mortality rate at 72 per 1,000 live births are shocking, said the study by Save the Children.

With the launching of Save the Children's 'Everyone' campaign in 40 countries including India, Chandy said that often people have a misconception that the cost of saving the lives of millions of children is too high.

'If people understood how affordable and feasible it is to prevent children dying, they would be shocked. There is no real pressure on the government to act largely because of public perceptions that it is too costly to change the reality,' Chandy said.

According to the survey conducted in 14 countries, including Australia, Canada, Germany, Britain, the US, India and Pakistan, 48 percent of the respondents thought that it would cost the world an additional 400 billion dollars annually to save the lives of children.

The reality however is that an additional 40 billion dollars - less than half the amount spent on bottled water - is needed globally to save the innocent lives, Chandy said.

Among the other findings of the report is that 13 of the 14 country respondents felt that poverty was the biggest threat to children's lives. China, which was the exception, said that climate change was the biggest threat.

In a heartening finding, 57 percent of the respondents in India said that they would readily give up the cost of a meal for the sake of a child they had never met.

'However two million children under the age of five die each year in India, the highest anywhere in the world and one third of the world's malnourished children live here. These have to change,' the report stressed.

News Source:

Saturday, October 3, 2009

148 dead as floods batter Karnataka and Andhra

Stepping up rescue efforts, army troops backed by IAF helicopters on Saturday shifted marooned villagers perched on rooftops to safer areas as unprecdented floods left 148 dead in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

However, the situation in Andhra Pradesh's worst-hit Kurnool and Mahboobnagar districts showed signs of easing with the water level in flooded areas receding while rains held off in most parts of Karnataka except in coastal areas and Bellary district.

In Karnatka, heavy rains killed 132 people in the last six days and flooded 15 districts flattening more than one lakh houses.

Sixteen people were killed and over 4.5 lakh people evacuated as flood water inundated Andhra Pradesh's five districts of Kurnool, Mahboobnagar, Guntur, Krishna and Nalgonda.

Though the number of deaths in Andhra is 16, the toll is likely to go up once authorities access those areas which still remain cut off, Revenue Minister D Prasada Rao said.

Rescue personnel evacuated 1.5 lakh people in Kurnool district, 1.34 lakh people in Mahaboobnagar district, 15,000 people in Krishna district and 5,000 flood victims in Guntur district.

In Karnataka, fifteen districts have been impacted in varying degrees by the monsoon fury, he said, adding, the unprecedented rain in northern Karnataka has damaged 1,03,291 houses.

Rescue operations were on in full swing in Kadawada village in Uttara Kannada district where a major landslide buried eight houses. According to eyewitnesses, around 11-21 people were feared trapped.

Rains had abated to some extent except in coastal parts and Bellary district, he said.

The Indian Air Force evacuated 12 persons caught in neck-deep water in Bellary district while 32 marooned people were rescued from the temple town of Mantralaya in Andhra Pradesh's Kurnool district bordering Raichur in Karnataka.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister K Rosaiah said the situation in Kurnool and Mahaboobnagar districts improved with water levels receding.

The good news for Andhra Pradesh is that inflow of water in Srisailam dam, which has been releasing water, is likely to come down, which may provide relief to Kurnool district.

Massive rescue and relief operation are underway in the affected areas with seven helicopters, 550 army personnel and 165 personnel of National Disaster Response Force and 138 boats pressed into service.

The Revenue Minister said lakhs of food and water sachets and other relief material are being distributed to the flood victims in all the districts.

News Source:

Thursday, October 1, 2009

America has its roots in India of Mahatma Gandhi: Obama

WASHINGTON: As the world celebrates International Day of non-violence, US President Barack Obama on Thursday said America has its "roots in the India of Mahatma Gandhi."

"His teachings and ideals, shared with Martin Luther King Jr. on his 1959 pilgrimage to India, transformed American society through our civil rights movement," Obama said on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Americans owe enormous gratitude to Gandhi, he said.

"The America of today has its roots in the India of Mahatma Gandhi and the nonviolent social action movement for Indian independence which he led," Obama said in a statement.

On behalf of the American people, Obama said he wants to express appreciation for the life and lessons of Mahatma Gandhi on the anniversary of his birth. "This is an important moment to reflect on his message of non-violence, which continues to inspire people and political movements across the globe," he said.

"We join the people of India in celebrating this great soul who lived a life dedicated to the cause of advancing justice, showing tolerance to all, and creating change through non-violent resistance," Obama said.

As the world remembers the Mahatma on his birthday, Obama said: "We must renew our commitment to live his ideals and to celebrate the dignity of all human beings.

Last month Obama had said that if given a chance he would love to have dinner with Mahatma Gandhi.

Obama expressed his desire in response to a question from a student Lilly during his discussion with 9th graders at Wakefield High School in Arlington Virginia where he, accompanied with the Education Secretary, gave a national speech welcoming students back to school.

Obama called for students to take responsibility and to learn from their failures so that they succeed in the end. "Hi. I'm Lilly. And if you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be," Obama was asked by one of the students.

"Dinner with anyone dead or alive? Well, you know, dead or alive, that's a pretty big list," Obama responded amidst laughter. The next moment he was serious. "You know, I think that it might be Gandhi, who is a real hero of mine,"

Obama said. "Now, it would probably be a really small meal because he didn't eat a lot," he said amidst laughter. But Mahatma Gandhi is someone who has inspired people across the world for the past several generations, he said.

News Source:

Toll mounts to 39 in Kerala boat accident

Thekkady (Kerala):

Rescuers on Thursday fished out more bodies from the Thekkady Lake, taking the toll in the boat tragedy to 39 even as the Kerala government ordered a judicial inquiry into the incident.

The tragedy occurred when the state-run double decker boat 'Jalakanyaka' carrying 74 tourists tilted after several tourists moved to one side on sighting elephants in the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary on the banks of the lake on Wednesday.

A team of rescuers which included divers extricated 39 bodies from the partly submerged boat, officials said.

The toll is likely to go up as some more people are yet to be traced, they said, adding, the search operation continued in the morning hours.

A judicial enquiry would be held into the mishap, Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan announced.

The service of a Kerala High Court sitting judge would be sought for the probe, Achuthanandan told reporters here.

News Source:

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

At Least 200 Die as Quake Hits Indonesia Island

HONG KONG — The Indonesian city of Padang was in chaos on Thursday — fires burning, dazed residents wandering the streets, thousands of people reportedly trapped beneath the rubble of collapsed buildings — after a powerful earthquake struck the island of Sumatra.

The quake, which hit Wednesday evening just off Padang with a magnitude of 7.6, has killed at least 200 people, according to Priyadi Kardono, a spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency. The death toll was almost certain to rise, he said, as rescuers dug into collapsed homes, hospitals, offices and a school.

On Thursday morning, just as the airport was reopening and rescue teams were setting to their heavy, horrible work, the city was rattled by another quake, this one registering 6.6.

The epicenter was 140 miles southeast of the Padang quake, according to the United States Geological Survey.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center quickly issued a bulletin saying that the quake had struck “too far inland to generate a destructive tsunami in the Indian Ocean.”

Padang, a port city of 900,000, is on the west-central coast of Sumatra, Indonesia’s largest island. The western coast is stippled with dozens of volcanoes, and Padang also sits alongside the Sunda Trench, part of the notorious Ring of Fire, the volatile network of volcanic arcs and oceanic trenches that partly encircle the Pacific Basin. The ring — and Sumatra in particular — is a zone of frequent earthquakes and volcanic activity.

Elsewhere in the basin, on Tuesday, an underwater earthquake measuring 8.0 created a tsunami that sent massive walls of water crashing into the islands of Samoa, American Samoa and Tonga.

Reports from government officials, the police, aid workers and news agencies showed Thursday that at least 122 people had been killed by the tsunami — 83 on Samoa, 30 on American Samoa and 9 on Tonga.

There also were reports of 145 people injured, some of them critically, and dozens of villages were demolished throughout the islands. Many beachside resorts were wiped out, along with homes, boats and businesses. Widespread devastation also was seen on television footage from the American Samoan capital, Pago Pago.

“It is the worst one we have had,” said Lilo Malava, the police commissioner of Samoa, in a telephone interview.

The tsunami — described by the governor of American Samoa as a series of four major waves — arrived with so little warning that many residents and tourists were caught unawares.

Filipo Ilaoa, deputy director of the American Samoa office in Honolulu, said that the tsunami struck the territory’s coast in “a matter of minutes” after the quake and that many residents would not have had much time to run for higher ground.

“American Samoa is a small island, and most of the residents are around the coastline,” he said. “There was no warning or anything at all. By the time the alert was out of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, it had already hit.”

New Zealand and Australia dispatched cargo flights and observation planes to the Samoas. And President Barack Obama authorized federal funds to supplement local relief and recovery efforts on American Samoa, a U.S. territory.

The epicenters of the Samoan and Indonesian quakes were located about 6,000 miles apart but brought back vivid memories of the horrific tsunami that ravaged South Asia and Southeast Asia on December 26, 2004. Nearly a quarter-million people across the Indian Ocean region were killed.

The undersea earthquake that caused the Samoan tsunami and the Wednesday-evening quake in Indonesia, while from similar causes, were not directly connected, according to Julie Dutton, a geophysicist at the National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colorado.

Both occurred in spots where one plate of the earth’s crust is subducting, or sliding beneath another plate. In spots, the two plates can become stuck until accumulating pressure leads to a sudden heaving release of energy. Under the sea, if the quake is around a magnitude of 8.0 or stronger and the seabed shifts in a way that moves a lot of water, the result is the high-energy waves of a tsunami.

The deeper the epicenter under the seabed, the less potential there is for a tsunami. In Sumatra, the depth of the epicenter was 49.7 miles, according to the United States Geological Survey. In Samoa, it was just 11.2 miles below the seabed. For coastal areas close to the epicenter of a strong undersea earthquake, there is also little time for a formal tsunami warning to be sounded, Ms. Dutton said.

The United States was concentrating its rescue efforts on American Samoa, sending two cargo planes from Honolulu to the area on Wednesday, said Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“We’re looking at both an airlift and a sealift,” Mr. Fugate told reporters in a conference call. “This will not be a short-term response.”

Mr. Fugate said that it was clear the tsunami had caused a “major disaster” but that it was too early for his office to provide or confirm estimates of deaths, injuries or property damage.

In Sumatra on Wednesday, officials feared the death toll was likely to rise. Priyadi Kardono, a spokesman for the National Disaster Management Agency, said Thursday that at least 200 people had died.

News Source:

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tsunami slams Samoa islands after 8.0 quake

Dozens reported dead after temblor-generated waves strike

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa - A powerful Pacific Ocean earthquake spawned towering tsunami waves that swept ashore on Samoa and American Samoa early Tuesday, flattening villages, killing at least 39 people and leaving dozens of workers missing at devastated National Park Service facilities.

Cars and people were swept out to sea by the fast-churning water as survivors fled to high ground, where they remained huddled hours later. Signs of devastation were everywhere, with a giant boat getting washed ashore and coming to rest on the edge of a highway and floodwaters swallowing up cars and homes.

American Samoa Gov. Togiola Tulafono said at least 50 were injured, in addition to the deaths.

Hampered by power and communications outages, officials struggled to assess the casualties and damage. But the death toll seemed sure to rise, with dead bodies already piling up at a hospital in Samoa.

The quake, with a magnitude between 8.0 and 8.3, struck around dawn about 20 miles below the ocean floor, 120 miles from American Samoa, a U.S. territory that is home to 65,000 people. The country of Samoa is to the west of American Samoa.

Late Tuesday, President Obama declared a major disaster in American Samoa. The declaration provides federal aid to supplement local recovery efforts.

National park damaged
The territory is home to a U.S. national park that appeared to be especially hard-hit. Holly Bundock, spokeswoman for the National Park Service's Pacific West Region in Oakland, Calif., said the superintendent of the park and another staffers had been able to locate only a fifth of the park's 13 to 15 employees and 30 to 50 volunteers.

Mike Reynolds, superintendent of the National Park of American Samoa, was quoted as saying four tsunami waves 15 to 20 feet high roared ashore soon afterward, reaching up to a mile inland. Holly Bundock, spokeswoman for the National Park Service's Pacific West Region in Oakland, Calif., said Reynolds spoke to officials from under a coconut tree uphill from Pago Pago Harbor and reported that the park's visitor center and offices appeared to have been destroyed.

Bundock said Reynolds and another park service staffer had been able to locate only 20 percent of the park's 13 to 15 employees and 30 to 50 volunteers.
Residents in both Samoa and American Samoa reported being shaken awake by the quake, which lasted two to three minutes. The initial quake was followed by at least three aftershocks of at least 5.6 magnitude.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a general alert from American Samoa to New Zealand; Tonga suffered some coastal damage from 13-foot waves.

Japan's Meteorological Agency also issued a tsunami warning all along that country's eastern coast.

Mase Akapo, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in American Samoa, said at least 19 people were killed in four different villages on the main island of Tutuila. He had no additional details.
In neighboring Samoa, an Associated Press reporter saw the bodies of about 20 victims in a hospital at Lalomanu town on the south coast of the main island of Upolu, and said the surrounding tourist coast had been devastated. At least three villages were flattened.

‘It was very quick’
An unspecified number of fatalities and injuries were reported in the Samoan village of Talamoa.

New Zealander Graeme Ansell said the beach village of Sau Sau Beach Fale was leveled.

"It was very quick. The whole village has been wiped out," Ansell told New Zealand's National Radio from a hill near Samoa's capital, Apia. "There's not a building standing. We've all clambered up hills, and one of our party has a broken leg. There will be people in a great lot of need 'round here."

Barry Rose, the owner of the Coconuts Beach Club in Samoa, told NBC News that his hotel took a direct hit, with several buildings completely destroyed. He said one guest was unaccounted for and one member of his staff was in the hospital with minor injuries. All guests have been evacuated either to the hospital or to other hotels on the island, he said.

He said the wave hit less than a minute after warning sirens went off.

News Source:

Friday, September 25, 2009

Chandrayaan-1 was 110% success, says ISRO chief

A day after the path-breaking revelation by the international scientific community that India's maiden mission to the moon, Chandrayaan-I has succeeded in tracking presence of water on the lunar surface, ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair today said that the mission was 110 per cent success.

Disagreeing with the 'media version that Chandrayaan-I crashed or failed', Nair said, "Earlier, I had said the mission was a 95 per cent success. Now I say it is 110 per cent success."

The ISRO chairman said the Moon Impact Probe (MIP), one of the five Indian scientific instruments that were onboard the Chandrayaan spacecraft detected the presence of water on lunar surface which was confirmed by Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) instrument of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) which was also onboard the spacecraft. By establishing the presence of water signatures on moon, the country's maiden lunar mission made a "path- breaking" and "real discovery", Nair added.

Launched in October last year, India's first scientific mission to the moon, Chandrayaan-I was aborted prematurely last month when Indian space agency lost the communication link with the spacecraft. ISRO had to abandon the mission failing to establish radio contact with the orbiting spacecraft.

Even though ISRO had got the indications about the finding of water in June this year, the space agency had decided to wait till yesterday to make the announcement as they wanted to come out in a scientific journal first. Earlier on Thursday, M3 principal investigator Carle Pieters said that Chandrayaan-1 found evidence of water on the lunar surface in a paper published in Science Express, September 24 edition.

The analysis of the M3 data was carried out by a joint team of scientists from the US and India led by Pieters, a planetary geologist at Brown University in Rhode Island, and J N Goswami, principal scientist of Chandrayaan-I from Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) of the Department of Space.

Nair said, the discovery of water in lunar surface was 'very crucial' and could have implications in various future planetary missions, even though the amount of water was 'extremely small'. "That is a great finding as far as space community is concerned."

To a query whether the water can be extracted from the lunar surface, Nair said, it was possible using 'novel techniques'. "But we may get only half a litre of water from one tonne of soil, and that is a real challenge."

J P Goswami, principal scientist of ISRO said the MIP had picked up strong signals of water particles towards polar region from 70 degree latitude to 80 degree latitudes. "In the polar region, it might be more, but it is produced all over the lunar surface," he said, adding ""This is the first time in space research that the presence of water is confirmed. It has shattered the thought that the moon was bone dry."

The other instruments which were on board the Chandrayaan spacecraft have sent many valuable information about the chemical and mineral composition of the moon which are being analysed now and would be announced in due course. "The volume of data collected from Chandrayaan-I is phenomenal. Our computers in ISRO and NASA are filled up with information. It may take six months to three years to analyse it," Goswami said.

Meanwhile, ISRO is looking at a 'mid-course correction' of the Chandrayaan-II mission objective, following the findings from the first mission. Chandrayaan-II scheduled to be launched in 2013 will carry rovers which will drill the lunar surface and sent the data to the earth after analysing it.

News Source:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Adopt Windows 7 now, says Microsoft

Although the consumer release for Windows 7 by Microsoft is set for October 22, The giant can’t wait till the set date and is already marketing the idea of using Windows 7 to businesses.

Since the access to deploy Windos 7 already exists, Microsoft laid out on the Business blog, “No need to wait—begin your Windows 7 deployment now!”

“Deployments are happening right now and your company can begin deployment as well! Several of our early adopters are already having great success with Windows 7… We are happy to see so much excitement from early Windows 7 adopters, showing the real value Windows 7 provides enterprises… Now is the time to begin testing and deploying Windows 7 with MDOP and Windows Server 2008 R2!”

Microsoft punched the lines in the blog post conveying to the businesses to quickly upgrade themselves to Windows 7 by mentioning about the Total Cost of Ownership.
It mentioned that enterprise customer deployments: 2,200 users at Baker Tilly (Professional Services - UK), 2,235 users for the City of Miami (Local Government - US), and 14,300 users at Getronics (IT Services - Netherlands) are already users of this new Windows 7.

If your setup is similar to any of these, Microsoft wants you to check out the studies to see the savings you can be making by moving to Windows 7.

News Source:

Monday, September 14, 2009

Obama Urged to Ready Tougher Iran Sanctions, Military Strike

The U.S. should begin preparing crippling sanctions on Iran and publicly make clear that a military strike is possible should the Iranian government press ahead with its nuclear effort, a bipartisan policy group said.

“If biting sanctions do not persuade the Islamic Republic to demonstrate sincerity in negotiations and give up its enrichment activities, the White House will have to begin serious consideration of the option of a U.S.-led military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities,” said the study from the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.

The report was written by Charles Robb, a former Democratic senator from Virginia; Daniel Coats, a former Republican senator from Indiana who also served as ambassador to Germany, and retired General Charles Wald, the former deputy commander of U.S. European command. Their assessment comes as the U.S. prepares to participate in preliminary talks with Iran on Oct. 1 designed to gauge its commitment to address concerns about its nuclear aims.

The report echoes the Obama administration’s conclusion that Iran’s atomic work is approaching a destabilizing point at which it may be able to build a bomb.

Coats, Robb and Wald write that Iran will have enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon by next year, “leaving little time for the United States to prevent both a nuclear- weapons capable Islamic Republic and an Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.”

Gasoline Sanction

The authors back a bill that would sanction foreign companies that export gasoline to Iran, if negotiations fail. They say the administration should have prepared “sufficient financial, political and military pressure” before agreeing to negotiations.

The U.S. will dispatch its undersecretary of state for political affairs, William Burns, to the Oct. 1 meeting with U.S. allies and Iran without conditions. Iran has said its nuclear program is closed for discussion. The State Department said yesterday it will use the meeting to outline the consequences of Iran proceeding with a nuclear program.

The U.S. and its allies on the United Nations Security Council plus Germany have pushed Iran to accept a suspension of sanctions in exchange for Iran’s halt to uranium enrichment.

Iran has expanded its nuclear stockpile to 1,430 kilograms of low-enriched uranium hexafluoride compared to 75 kilograms in December 2007, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. It has also almost doubled its number of centrifuges at its uranium enrichment facility at Natanz since 2007.

Deadline Proposed

The authors say a deadline of 60 days should be set for determining Iran’s seriousness once it commits to negotiations. If those negotiations fail, the administration should toughen sanctions and “prepare overtly for any military option.”

Such preparations could include deploying an additional aircraft carrier battle group to the waters off Iran and conducting joint exercises with U.S. allies.

In the absence of U.S. action, Israel is more likely to strike, the authors argue, saying that an Israeli strike “entails more risks than a U.S. strike.”

Israeli officials say that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a threat to their country’s existence.

News Source:

Facebook launches Facebook Lite 11

Social networking site Facebook has launched a slimmed down version, called Facebook Lite available at that offers its users limited options like writing on their wall, posting photos and videos, viewing events and browsing other people's profiles, but no applications.

Lite doesn't run any of the tens of thousands of external applications built for Facebook's main site. More than 1 million developers and entrepreneurs from more than 180 countries have created about 350,000 active applications for Facebook, which has become the most popular social-networking site in the world.

According to Facebook, Lite could help attract new users. "We have found that people who are new to Facebook tend to be most interested in a simpler experience, and focus on establishing their network of friends and communicating with them by writing on their walls, sending messages, and looking at pictures. We have introduced the Lite site with these new users in mind," the company said in a statement. Lite lets people post and share videos, photos and events, as well as exchange one-on-one messages.

According to the company, Facebook Lite is for people with slow or poor internet connections and will be faster and simpler because it offers fewer services than the main site. Currently, the new service is available only in India and US.

Facebook has also announced a new feature that would allow its users to tag their friends in status updates using the @ symbol. According to Facebook, the new feature will be rolled out over the next few weeks and help users share in a more meaningful and engaging way.

News Source:

New Bin Laden Tape Calls Obama Powerless to Stop Afghanistan War

A new audio message, directed at the American people - purported to be from al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden - claims the President Barack Obama will find himself powerless to halt the American-led war in Afghanistan.

The latest audio recording, attributed to Bin Laden, again attempts to justify al-Qaeda's September 11, 2001, terror attack on the United States as being part of the group's quest for the liberation of Palestine.

The tape was provided by an American-based firm - IntelCenter, which monitors terrorist propaganda. It says the 11-minute video shows a still picture of bin Laden while audio of the address plays.

In the recording, the man identified as Bin Laden reiterates long-standing grievances including American support for Israel and "some other injustices."

He puts forward a reading list of recent books, including one by a former CIA agent, which the tape says will clarify the "message" of the terrorist attack eight years ago.

The recording notes that the Obama administration includes key figures from the previous Bush administration, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

The voice, believed to be that of Bin Laden, thus concludes President Obama is a weakened man and powerless to change course in Afghanistan because of "pressure groups." And, if he tries, the tape says "his fate will be feared" to be like that of the assassinated President John Kennedy and his brother, Robert.

It is the first message believed to be from the reclusive terrorist leader since one in June, in which bin Laden accused President Obama of sowing new seeds of hatred against America among Muslims.

The United States now has about 60,000 troops in Afghanistan - the largest contingent in the 42-nation international force.

Following the September 2001 attack, the United States invaded to oust the Taliban from power in Kabul.

The Taliban had given safe haven to al-Qaeda, which had carried out the hijacking of four airliners to attack New York and Washington, in which more than 3,000 people died.

Bin Laden is believed to be in hiding in Pakistan, along the remote mountainous terrain border with Afghanistan. Pakistani leaders have recently said they believe the terrorist leader is dead. But top American officials say there is no credible evidence to confirm that.

The audio recording, posted on the on an Islamic website, includes a undated photograph of the al-Qaeda leader. There is also a scene of a banner with an American flag in the background and the New York City skyline with the destroyed World Trade Center twin towers.

No fresh images of Bin Laden appear. He was last seen in video that coincided with the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attack.

News Source:

Friday, September 11, 2009

Nehra bowls India into Tri-series finals

India left-armers Ashish Nehra and Yuvraj Singh shared six wickets on Friday to take their team to a six wicket win over New Zealand and a place in the Tri-series final against hosts Sri Lanka.

After dismissing New Zealand for 155 from 46.3 overs, India reached their target in the 41st over.

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (35 not out) and Suresh Raina (45 not out) shared an unbroken 72-run stand for the fifth wicket after they had lost their first four wickets for 84. Sachin Tendulkar contributed 46 off 55 balls.

New Zealand, who won the toss, failed to find any momentum.

Man-of-the-match Nehra trapped openers Jessie Ryder and Brendon McCullum lbw off successive overs with McCullum's dismissal giving him his 100th wicket in one-day internationals.

After the initial damage had been done by Nehra, the left-arm spin of Yuvraj crippled the New Zealand middle order. Yuvraj ended with figures of three for 31 and Nehra with three for 24.

India will play Sri Lanka in their second match on Saturday in what will be a dress rehearsal for Monday's final.

News Source:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

5 students killed in stampede in Delhi; CM orders probe

Five children were killed and 27 injured on Thursday in a stampede in a flooded government school in the Capital. Thirty-one of the victims were girls. The stampede was sparked by rumours that electric current had leaked into the water that had flooded the school, police said.

The incident took place in a government-run school in Khajuri Khas in northeast Delhi in the morning.

The heavy rain from Wednesday evening had left the school premises flooded and when the children were inside a rumour went around that the ankle-deep water was charged with electricity. The children panicked and started running helter-skelter, leading to a stampede on a staircase, a police official said.

Confirming the number of dead and injured, Joint Commissioner of Police Dharmendra Kumar said the injured have been admitted to the Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital.

The Principal had asked the students to vacate the school building, causing panic among the kids. This led to a stampede in which five schoolgirls were killed and 27 injured. Shiela Dikshit visited the injured kids who have been admitted to Delhi's GTB hospital. She has ordered an independent enquiry into the stampede.

News Source:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Obama Speech to School Children: Truth & Lies

As President Obama gets ready to address the US school children, many rumour-stricken parents, however, have decided not to let their children listen to the President's speech as its allegedly a propaganda to spread socialist ideals in the country.

The rumours became a deluge, when Jim Greer, who is the Florida Republican Party Chairman forewarned the citizens that Obama would be trying to use the speech to spread his socialist ideologies and liberal lies.

However, rumours always have a way of influencing and so many parents have requested the school to keep their runs away during the Obama speech, which will be telecasted live and schools have been asked to make arrangements for the screening.

The White House website, states that the speech is meant to welcome to American student back to school after the summer break and would be an extra motivation, as the president would urge the youngsters to work hard on their education.

"In this message he'll urge students to take personal responsibility for their own education, to set goals, and to not only stay in school but make the most of it," reads the White House website.

But as rumours started bouncing on the television
and the Internet, the Obama administration quickly made available a copy of the speech over the President's website dispelling all false claims. Even Jim Greer, who first speculated the rumors agreed after reading the speech found nothing to criticize and the speech is fine in its "current form."

Of the 50 million schoolchildren, however, many affected by the false won't be watching the speech. Meanwhile, some 15,000 school districts are preparing to air the speech to the children; the schools also have been asked to make other arrangements for those whose parents didn't want their children to view the speech.

News Source:

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Yuvraj, Aishwarya Dangerous for your PC

Cricketer Yuvraj Singh and Bollywood beauty Aishwarya Rai have overtaken Katrina Kaif as the most dangerous Indian celebrity to search in cyberspace, according to Internet security company McAfee, Inc.

Fans searching for "Yuvraj Singh downloads" or "Yuvaraj Singh wallpapers," "Yuvraj Singh photos," "Aishwarya Rai wallpapers", "Aishwariya Rai screen savers" and "Aishwarya Rai videos" have a one in five chance of landing at a website that's tested positive for online threats, such as spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses and other malware. Searching for the latest celebrity news and downloads can cause serious damage to one's personal computer, the security solutions provider has said.

Following Yuvraj and Aishwarya on the list are M. S. Dhoni, Namitha, Shriya Saran, Harbhajan Singh, Sania Mirza, Asin, Bipasha Basu and Shahid Kapoor.

Kartik Shahani, McAfee regional director - India, said, "It's very common for malware authors to take advantage of current hot topics luring consumers to malicious websites they have created. Users need to be cautious and should keep their antivirus/ security software updated with the latest versions."

News Source:

British mobile phone revolution as Orange and T-Mobile confirm merger talks

The British mobile phone landscape was today set for huge upheaval after the owner of T-Mobile said it wants to merge with Orange.

Deutsche Telekom, which was known to be considering selling T-Mobile outright, confirmed the exclusive talks between the two telecoms groups this morning.

Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom, which owns Orange, said they want create a new market leader in Britain, one of Europe's toughest markets, which will leapfrog its two main UK rivals Vodafone and Telefónica's O2.

A future with Orange would push Telefónica’s O2 off the top spot, with 37 per cent of the UK mobile market and a combined 28.4 million customers, excluding those of Virgin Mobile, which uses T-Mobile’s network.

In joint a statement, the companies said that both the T-Mobile and Orange brands will remain on the high street for 18 months after the deal is completed.

The companies said that during that period, they will review their “branding alternative”.
Analysts believe this is likely to mean scrapping one of the two brands in favour of the other. Orange is generally seen as the stronger brand in the UK.

As part of the 50:50 deal, Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom will each loan the venture £625 million, so that it will have total debt from its creation of £1.25 billion.
The companies also said today that by cutting overlapping operations, they can generate cost savings of £3.5 billion. Orange employs 13,000 staff in the UK and T-Mobile has 6,500 UK workers.

Cost savings will be generated by shutting down offices, decommissioning mobile masts, closing some retail stores and removing duplicated jobs in core support functions such as call centres.

Today’s deal is likely to be widely criticised by analysts and by Vodafone and Telefónica as a messy solution and it will need approval by competition regulators.

Telefónica and Vodafone had both tabled offers of about £3.5 billion for T-Mobile UK but the bids fell below the expectations of René Obermann, Deutsche Telekom’s chief executive.

Vodafone declined to comment. Telefónica was unavailable for comment.
A sale at £3.5 billion would have forced Deutsche Telekom to make another write-down on the division.

The group took a £1.6 billion hit on the business in May as it lost customers to rivals and its margins declined.

Deutsche Telekom wrote down the value of T-Mobile at that time to £4.5 billion, which included £1.2 billion of debt.

Tom Alexander, currently chief executive of Orange UK will become chief of the combined business while his opposite number at T-Mobile, Richard Moat, will be chief operating officer. The board of the venture will have "balanced representation" from Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom.

Timotheus Höttges, finance director of Deutsche Telekom, said: "In the second-biggest market in Europe, which is undoubtedly one of the toughest and most competitive, we are giving T-Mobile UK a clear and strong future.

“And, with our partnership, we have taken the most value enhancing strategy for Deutsche Telekom and its shareholders.”

Gervais Pellissier, finance director of France Telecom said: “By combining our operations in the UK, we anticipate the long-awaited consolidation in one of Europe’s most competitive markets, thereby creating a well positioned player.

Achieving savings will cost the venture £600 million to £800 million from 2010 to 2014. It also believes it will save £620 million in that period on capital expenditure by jointly expanding 3G coverage.

The deal is expected to be agreed by the two parties by the end of October, after due diligence is completed, and although it requires the approval of the supervisory board of Deutsche Telekom, the pair are not saying whether they will put the deal to their shareholders.

News Source:

Bomb scare in Delhi areas, Safdarjung Hospital evacuated

Panic spread in the national capital on Tuesday with bomb scares being reported from four crowded places, the New Delhi Railway Station, the Safdarjung Hospital as well as the high rise Palika Kendra and Vikas Minar.

The sprawling Safdarjung Hospital in south Delhi was being evacuated.

Intensive searches were also underway at the New Delhi Railway Station, Palika Kendra in Connaught Place and at Vikas Minar near ITO.

"Police got a call in the morning and all precautions were taken. The building was evacuated," NDMC spokesperson Anand Tiwari told IANS.

Police said the call at Safdarjung Hospital was received at 9.30 am and the bomb disposal squad was combing the complex, a police official said.

News Source:

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sri Lanka gives Pakistan clues to cricketers attack

Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani said the Sri Lankan president told him an attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore six months ago may have been financed from Sri Lanka.

Seven Pakistanis, including six policemen and the driver of a Sri Lankan team bus, were killed when gunmen ambushed them on the way to a stadium for a match in the eastern city of Lahore in March.

Six members of the Sri Lankan team and a British coach were wounded.

Gilani said late on Sunday that Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa told him during a recent visit to Libya that Colombo had found clues that "some finances had been made from Sri Lanka to Pakistan".

Gilani and Rajapaksa visited Libya last week to attend celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the Libyan revolution.

"We are sending interior ministry officials to Sri Lanka to get the clues that could help us to get to the attack on the cricket team," Gilani told reporters.

Pakistani officials suspect Taliban militants were responsible and police said in June they had arrested a suspect.

The attack -- parts of which were broadcast live by television channels with offices near the traffic circle where the gunmen ambushed the Sri Lankan team -- sent shockwaves through cricket-mad Pakistan and the rest of the cricketing world.

Relayed by international broadcasters, the chilling images compounded fears in the West over the stability of the nuclear-armed Muslim country, and reinforced doubts over its readiness to confront spreading militancy.

News Source:

Friday, September 4, 2009

Copying Twitter won't help Yahoo

For some time now, Yahoo Meme has been operational in two languages - Spanish and Portuguese. But it has bigger ambitions - to take on Twitter, the world's largest and most newsmaking microblogging service.

So, when Yahoo quietly launched its English language service for Meme, it was not surprising.

But was it really? Twitter already has a staggering following around the world, with around 44.5 million users recorded by June 2009, and a three-digit month-on-month growth rate. So to compete with a service that is so much ahead of the race that even the granddaddy of all social networks - Facebook - is forced to follow Twitter's design and user-interface (UI) ethic, would seem a bit odd. Especially when its Indian-developed social network SpotM died an unsung death last month and Yahoo 360 was shut down in July this year.

Social networks - like email or online photo sharing services - can be tricky business propositions. Facebook, even with its 220 million user base, has been able to make an estimated $ 300 million in revenue in 2008 according to Forbes magazine, mostly through banner ads and referral marketing. Twitter projected - according to leaked documents - that it would earn a grand quarterly revenue of $400,000 by the end of the year.

In the world of American business, both figures are insignificant (Google earns almost $22 billion a year and Microsoft earns thrice as much as Google).

But what Facebook and Twitter have done is what no other Internet company, including Google, has been able to do. Both have managed to integrate a large part of the world's Internet users under one service. So in terms of influence, both Facebook and Twitter are on par with Google and Microsoft. Ahem, and yes, Yahoo.

The Meme service in English has features similar to Twitter, according to TechCrunch, an Internet blog company that reports on, among other things, developments on the Web.
So the question arises why Yahoo, a company that pioneered so much on the Internet at one time, should just copy Twitter down to the last "Retweet" (although Meme calls it "Repost"), and behave as if it is reinventing the wheel?

The answer is simple - Yahoo has been desperately trying to reinvent itself after its crisisridden past few years, in which it lost a significant part of its workforce to retrenchment and organisational restructuring. Its email service, though still popular, has lost ground to Microsoft's Live (Hotmail) and Google's Gmail. In instant messengers, Windows Live messenger with 343 million users is way ahead of Yahoo's 285 million accounts (Yahoo does not give a breakup of individual services, but an agglomeration of all its services).

Its management problems have further dented its progress in several areas although CEO Carol Bartz's almost headmaster- like disciplining has brought the company back in the reckoning. One of her key decisions was the appointment of Arun Tadanki as the head of Yahoo for South Asia, Middle East and Africa.

Yahoo's strategic alliance with Microsoft for its search services to take on Google is another step that could hurt the latter's business plans.

To be sure, those are important business decisions. But it is innovation that Yahoo has lagged behind in pathetically.

For all its expertise, many of Yahoo's new services post 2004 (Flickr, Yahoo Voice, Jumpcut, to name a few) have come through acquisitions, and even though it has fantastic R& D teams based in Bangalore and in the US, a large part of their work still consists of upgrading its existing services, while innovations are few and far between.

For Yahoo to compete successfully with the rest of the world, that needs to change. Which is why, it is disappointing to hear about Meme's features being similar to Twitter's. It was only recently that Yahoo showed the gumption to take on erstwhile followers which have now become market leaders. Its investment in Meme would only pull back Yahoo further.

Now if only we were all proven wrong and Yahoo pulled a rabbit out of the hat.

That would be fun. But will Yahoo bite the bullet?

News Source:§ionid=4&secid=&Itemid=1&issueid=122

Thursday, September 3, 2009

California wildfire declared arson, homicide

A huge wildfire burning in the mountains above Los Angeles, now the largest ever in the county, was started by arson and will be investigated as a homicide, authorities said on Thursday.

The so-called Station Fire has killed two firefighters, destroyed 64 homes and torched an area the size of Chicago in the nine days it has roared across the rugged San Gabriel Mountains overlooking Los Angeles.

"After a forensic examination at the point of origin, arson investigators have concluded that the Station Fire was the result of an act of arson," U.S. Forest Service Commander Rita Wears said.

The deaths of Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Ted Hall and firefighter Arnaldo Quinones, who were killed when their vehicle plunged 800 feet (244 metres) from a road, made the case a homicide, Wears said.

Authorities did not offer details about how the fire was started but an area near the city of La Canada-Flintridge, north of Los Angeles, has been cordoned off with yellow crime scene tape since Wednesday.

It was not clear if any suspects had been identified.

As of Thursday evening, the Station Fire had blackened 145,000 acres (59,000 hectares), or about 226 square miles (585 sq km), making it the largest wildfire recorded in Los Angeles county. It could ultimately become one of the top 10 in state history, in terms of size.

Authorities estimated containment of the massive conflagration at 38 percent, up from 28 percent a day earlier, according to fire commander Mike Dietrich, who said his force of more than 4,700 firefighters was making "great progress."

By Wednesday night, the all-clear had been given for the last of 6,400 evacuated households to return home.

But a flare-up in one canyon early on Thursday led officials to order a small cluster of homes evacuated, and crews were concentrating their attack on the southeastern flank of the blaze to prevent flames from spreading.

One town on the fire's southeastern fringe is Pasadena, known for its annual New Year's Day Rose Bowl college football game and Tournament of Roses Parade. Fire commanders planned to brief residents in a meeting Thursday night.

Fire commanders said Mount Wilson, an observatory and telecommunications and broadcasting hub, would be spared.

The Station Fire has cost $21 million so far to fight, making it the most expensive of several California wildfires in recent weeks that already have depleted the cash-strapped state's emergency firefighting budget by more than half.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has insisted the state has plenty of resources at its disposal for such emergencies. (Editing by Doina Chiacu)

News Source:

Garrido among many sex offenders in Calif. town

ANTIOCH, Calif. — At least three other registered sex offenders live within a block or two of the Northern California home where Phillip Garrido allegedly imprisoned Jaycee Lee Dugard for nearly two decades.

More than 100 sex offenders in all share his ZIP code in the hardscrabble, working-class neighborhood on the outskirts of this town about 40 miles northeast of San Francisco.

The kidnapping case has put a spotlight on the concentration of sex offenders and heightened concerns that laws to control some of the nation's roughly 686,000 registered sex offenders are pushing them to smaller communities such as Antioch

"We've got plenty of 'em around here," said Charles Mickelson, who lives a block from Garrido, next door to two other registered sex offenders.

Criminal justice experts say relatively isolated communities with low housing prices tend to attract sex offenders who are living on thin budgets and looking to keep a low profile.

"They want to operate under the radar, so that's another reason they move out there," said Joan Petersilia, co-director of Stanford University's Criminal Justice Center.

Smaller, less dense communities also tend to have more sex offenders because it's easier for them to comply with laws in many states that prohibit sex offenders from getting too close to schools, parks and other places where children gather.

Before the Garrido case made news around the world and TV trucks showed up in the neighborhood, residents knew from a state Web site of sex offenders and word of mouth that Garrido was one of many in their midst.

Mickelson said he and his wife have been monitoring the Web site since their boys, now 10 and 13, were babies. They also receive e-mail notifications when a new offender moves into the area and take precautions such as not allowing their boys to roam alone.

All 50 states have such databases. In California alone, under Megan's Law, information about the crimes and whereabouts of more than 67,000 sex offenders is accessible through the state attorney general's Web site. That information includes the full addresses of about half the group.

While such sites help alert residents, criminal justice experts say the listings may also be contributing to the movement of sex offenders to less populated areas as they search for places where community scrutiny may not be as great.

State officials said they do not know whether the concentration of sex offenders in Antioch is higher than elsewhere. The city does have more registered sex offenders per capita than San Francisco and at least several other San Francisco Bay area communities.

Contra Costa County sheriff's Capt. Daniel Terry says the concentration of sex offenders in eastern Contra Costa County, where Antioch is located, is significantly higher than other places.

Residents of Garrido's neighborhood have always known about the sex offenders nearby, but Garrido's arrest and the heinous nature of the allegations against him were too much to handle for Karen Walker, who lives two doors away with her daughter and four grandchildren.

"It was so close to home," she said. "We were thinking about moving before, but now there's no doubt about it."

In California, voters in 2006 approved Jessica's Law, which bars sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park and requires them to wear satellite tracking devices for the rest of their lives. The law is named after 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford, who was kidnapped, raped and buried alive by a convicted sex offender near her Florida home in 2005.

Experts, however, say such laws alone will not prevent offenders from committing other sex crimes.

"To be effective, legislation can't be the only strategy that we use," said Maia Christopher, executive director of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers. "It would be nice to have some more preventive kind of measures ... We need to tailor our strategies, based on risk factors."

Garrido, who was convicted of kidnapping in a Nevada rape case in the 1970s, was not subject to Jessica's Law, which state corrections officials say does not apply retroactively.

But he was registered as a sex offender in California. His name, address and offense were posted online. He also was under lifetime parole supervision, wore a tracking device, regularly reported to his parole agent and received parole visits at his home.

Authorities say he still managed to conceal Dugard and the two children he fathered with her for years behind a series of fences, sheds and tents in his backyard.

Garrido and his 54-year-old wife Nancy Garrido were charged with kidnapping Dugard from a bus stop in South Lake Tahoe in 1991 then raping and falsely imprisoning her. They pleaded not guilty.

News Source:

Some Parents Oppose Obama Speech to Students

HOUSTON — President Obama’s plan to deliver a speech to public school students on Tuesday has set off a revolt among conservative parents, who have accused the president of trying to indoctrinate their children with socialist ideas and are asking school officials to excuse the children from listening.

The uproar over the speech, in which Mr. Obama intends to urge students to work hard and stay in school, has been particularly acute in Texas, where several major school districts, under pressure from parents, have laid plans to let children opt out of lending the president an ear.

Some parents said they were concerned because the speech had not been screened for political content. Nor, they said, had it been reviewed by the State Board of Education and local school boards, which, under state law, must approve the curriculum.

“The thing that concerned me most about it was it seemed like a direct channel from the president of the United States into the classroom, to my child,” said Brett Curtiss, an engineer from Pearland, Tex., who said he would keep his three children home.

“I don’t want our schools turned over to some socialist movement.”

The White House has said the speech will emphasize the importance of education and hard work in school, both to the individual and to the nation. The message is not partisan, nor compulsory, officials said.

“This isn’t a policy speech,” said Sandra Abrevaya, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education. “It’s designed to encourage kids to stay in school. The choice on whether to show the speech to students is entirely in the hands of each school. This is absolutely voluntary.”

Mr. Obama’s speech was announced weeks ago, but the furor among conservatives reached a fever pitch Wednesday morning as right-wing Web sites and talk show hosts began inveighing against it.

Mark Steyn, a Canadian author and political commentator, speaking on the Rush Limbaugh show on Wednesday, accused Mr. Obama of trying to create a cult of personality, comparing him to Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader.

The Republican Party chairman in Florida, Jim Greer, said he “was appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama’s socialist ideology.”

And Chris Stigall, a Kansas City talk show host, said, “I wouldn’t let my next-door neighbor talk to my kid alone; I’m sure as hell not letting Barack Obama talk to him alone.”

Previous presidents have visited public schools to speak directly to students, although few of those events have been broadcast live. Mr. Obama’s address at noon, Eastern time, at a high school in Virginia, will be streamed live on the White House Web site.

The first President George Bush, a Republican, made a similar nationally broadcast speech from a Washington high school in 1991, urging students to study hard, avoid drugs and to ignore peers “who think it’s not cool to be smart.” Democrats in Congress accused him of using taxpayer money — $27,000 to produce the broadcast — for “paid political advertising.”

This week, school officials were hearing from parents about the issue not only in Texas, but in other parts of the country as well — California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, South Carolina and Utah.

Herb Garrett, executive director of the Georgia School Superintendents Association, said many of his members felt that the controversy had put them in an awkward situation, vulnerable to attacks from conservative talk-show hosts if they open up instructional time for Mr. Obama’s speech, and open to accusations that they have disrespected the president if they do not.

“It’s one of those no-wins,” Mr. Garrett said.

In Texas, calls and e-mail messages flooded into the offices of many local school officials. “I didn’t get a positive call all day,” said Susan Dacus, a spokeswoman for the Wylie Independent School District outside Dallas.

School officials in Wylie decided to record the speech, review it and then let individual teachers show it, offering students the opportunity to avoid listening if they wished.
In Houston, teachers have been asked to tell parents if they intend to show the speech and the schools will provide an alternative class for those whose parents object, a spokesman for the district, Lee Vela, said.

Some Houston parents, however, said telling children they should not hear out the president of the United States, even if their parents dislike his policies, sends the wrong message — that one should not listen to someone with whom you disagree.

“It’s difficult for me to understand how listening to the president, the commander in chief, the chief citizen of this country, is damaging to the youth of today,” said Phyllis Griffin Epps, an analyst for the city who has two children in public school.

News Source:

Andhra CM YSR Reddy, 4 others killed in crash

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy and four other persons were killed in the helicopter that crashed in the Nallamala Hills in bad weather on Wednesday losing radio contact an hour after take off from Hyderabad.

The bodies of 60-year-old Reddy - who led his Congress party to a spectacular second consecutive victory in the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls - his Special Secretary P Subramanyam, Chief Secretary A S C Wesley, pilot Group Captain S K Bhatia and co-pilot M S Reddy were found on Rudrakonda Hill, 40 nautical miles east of Kurnool.
His Bell 430 chopper went down in bad weather.

Army commandos recovered the dead bodies of all the five people - including the Chief Minister - who were on board the twin-engine Bell chopper.

An Indian Air Force helicopter had on Thursday morning located the mangled remains of the helicopter.

The news of the tragedy filtered out after a meeting of the Congress core group at the Prime Minister's residence, but fears had been growing since Wednesday night when search operations to locate the missing chopper were unsuccessful.

The helicopter took off at 0835 hrs IST from the old Begumpet Airport in Hyderabad on Wednesday.

The Chief Minister was on his way to Chittoor, 588 km from Hyderabad, for a function when his helicopter went missing in inclement weather around 0930 hrs IST on Wednesday in the dense Nallamalla forests.

Reactions from political leaders started pouring in soon after the tragic news was announced.

"We are in total shock, it's a tremendous loss for the Congress party, for the entire state of Andhra Pradesh. We are yet to come to terms with this news. Sonia Gandhi is in constant touch with the family and is monitoring the situation closely. The senior leaders who have been deputed in this matter will brief the press shortly. He was an utterly practical human being, he was always moving on to achieve his goal, he was the man on the move, it's very sad that life has got him to such a tragic end. He was a dynamic Chief Minister. It is a tremendous loss to Andhra Pradesh and the Congress party. It's a terrible time because he could have achieved so much as the head of the state," said Congress Spokesperson Jayanti Natrajan.

State Congress Chief, D Srinivas said, "I don't think I will see another leader like him in this lifetime."

TDP leader Yerran Naidu said, "Today is a sad day. YSR Reddy was a great leader, I knew him for 30 years. We were really hoping that he would be found safe. We are very shocked."

"I had hoping till the last minute that some miracle will happen. If the party is feeling this way I can't imagine what the family is going through. He was the kind of leader who could turn probability into possibility," said Congress leader Renuka Chowdhary.


Andhra Pradesh plunged into gloom Thursday as it became known that Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy had died in a helicopter crash in the dense Nallamalla forests.
People cried inconsolably in the state secretariat, the chief minister's camp office and Gandhi Bhavan, the headquarters of the ruling Congress party.

"He is my God. I can't believe he is no more," wailed a Congress party worker.
"He gave life to several people through Rajiv Arogyasri (health insurance scheme for poor). Nobody had imagined he will lose his life this way," said another Congress worker.

The Congress flag will fly at half mast.

News Source:

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Rescue teams comb Naxal areas in search of YSR

India's biggest search and rescue operation to locate Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajashekhara Reddy in the dense Nallamalla forests and hills stretching across Kurnool, Prakasam and Kadapa districts resumed at the crack of dawn on Thursday.

Helicopter search operations had been called off in the night because of poor visibility and bad weather conditions. But state police and 5,000 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) conducted search operations on foot throughout the night with help of forest officials.

Andhra's Greyhound commandos, raised to fight Naxals, are also helping in the search operation along with specialised anti-terrorist force Organisation for Counter Terrorism and Operations (Octopus) teams.

The newly-formed anti-Naxal force Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (Cobra), which are under the command of the CRPF have also been deployed for the search operations.

An Army column from Bangalore has also been also called in to assist in the search and rescue operations.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has also sent three helicopters from Bangalore for the search operation while one private helicopter from Nellore is also scouring the area for any signs of the missing Chief Minister and his entourage.

IAF will also press into service Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft with synthetic aperture radar for high resolution ground mapping in and around Kurnool.\

Satellite imagery is also being used to trace the missing helicopter. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has also provided special low flying aircraft and remote sensing equipment and satellite imagery to aide the search operation.

Search and rescue teams are also looking at the possibility of Reddy's helicopter landing at Sri Sailam Dam which is situated 98 km from Markapuram. The dam is across the Krishna River at Srisailam in the Kurnool district.

News Source:

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Obama hosts dinner for Islamic holy month

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Tuesday praised American Muslims for enriching the nation's culture at a dinner to celebrate the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

"The contribution of Muslims to the United States are too long to catalog because Muslims are so interwoven into the fabric of our communities and our country," Obama said at the iftar, the dinner that breaks the holiday's daily fast.

The president joined Cabinet secretaries, members of the diplomatic corps and lawmakers to pay tribute to what he called "a great religion and its commitment to justice and progress."

Attendees included Congress' two Muslim members — Reps. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., and Andre Carson, D-Ind., as well as ambassadors from Islamic nations and Israel's ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren.

Obama shared the story of Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, another invited guest, who broke a state record for most career points as a Massachusetts high school student.

"As an honor student, as an athlete on her way to Memphis, Bilqis is an inspiration not simply to Muslim girls — she's an inspiration to all of us," he said.

Obama also noted the contributions of Muhammad Ali, who was not in attendance, though the president borrowed a quote from famous boxer, explaining religion.

"A few years ago," Obama said, "he explained this view — and this is part of why he's The Greatest — saying, 'Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams — they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do — they all contain truths.'"

Ramadan, a monthlong period of prayer, reflection and sunrise-to-sunset fasts, began Aug. 22 in most of the Islamic world. It is believed that God began revealing the Quran to Muhammad during Ramadan, and the faithful are supposed to spend the month in religious reflection, prayer and remembrance of the poor.

White House dinners marking the holy month are nothing new. Former President George W. Bush held iftars during his eight years in office.

Obama has made a special effort since taking office to repair U.S. relations with the world's Muslims, including visits to Turkey and Cairo. In a June speech at the Egyptian capital, as well as in one to another important Muslim audience, in Turkey, Obama said: "America is not — and never will be — at war with Islam."

Obama also released a video message to Muslims before the start to Ramadan. In the video, he said Ramadan's rituals are a reminder of the principles Muslims and Christians have in common, including advancing justice, progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.

News Source: