Monday, August 31, 2009

India beat Syria to lift Nehru Cup

Defending champions India beat Syria 5-4 in the penalty shootouts to lift their second successive Nehru Cup title at the Ambedkar
Stadium on Monday.

Goal-keeper Subroto Paul, who saved three penalties to become India’s saviour, was awarded the man of the match.

Climax scored the first goal for India in the penalty shootouts. Renedy took the second penalty and missed as he hit the pole. India goal-keeper paul revived the home team's hopes as he stopped the second penalty diving to his left. Sunil Chhetri again gave India the lead by scoring in the third penalty. Again Indian goal-keeper stopped the Syrian penalty to retain the lead. Mehraj missed the penalty would have given India the title. Syria again levelled again by scoring in the fourth penalty. Sukumar Singh again scored to give India the lead.

Before the penalty shootouts, India were granted a free kick because of a foul committed on Indian captain Bhaichung Bhutia in the 114th minute in the extra-time and Renedy didn't let the opportunity go waste as his kick swung from right to left to beat the Syrian captain and goalkeeper.

But Syria scored the equaliser in the dying minutes to dash India's hopes and the final went into penalty shootouts.

Coach Bob Houghton's decision to rest key players in the last inconsequential league match against the same opponents paid dividends as the senior players came afresh for the final encounter of the five-nation football tournament.

It was a heated, tensed and keenly contested encounter in which the referee had to intervene many times to calm down the players. Indian captain Bhaichung Bhutia was handed yellow card in the first half of the game. However, the first half ended without a goal.

India were awarded a free kick soon after the commencement of the second half when skipper Bhutia was fouled. But the free kick taken by Steven Dias was stopped by the Syrian goal-keeper.

The heat was not limited to just the players. The Syrian coach Fajer Ebrahim lost his cool in the 60th minute when two off-sides were given against his team in quick succession. He got into an argument with the linesman and that led to India coach Bob Houghton gesturing towards the Syrian camp while pointing his fingers and saying something.

In 89th minute when an off-side was again given against Syria, a frustrated Ebrahim argued with the linesman again. This time Haughton was only staring at him without saying anything.

In the extra time, a support staff of Syria was sent off for arguing with the linesman following an ugly incident in which Bhutia was tackled from behind by a Syrian player which led to some pushing and shoving.

The highly contested match was watched by Bollywood star Salman Khan and AIFF acting president and Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel and Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports M S Gill.

Two years ago at the Ambedkar Stadium, the home team had beaten the Syrians in front of a 20,000-strong crowd to win their maiden Nehru Cup title.

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Farah tries to make Salman-Shahrukh friends again

Choreographer turned director Farah Khan is getting into television
. She is going to host the chat show called Tere Mere Beach Mein. As if that's not enough, she now wants to turn a mediator. Yes, she wants to make Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan friends again.
Farah Khan feels that the fight between Salman and Shahrukh has been dragged for too long. She said that she wants to bridge the gap between them, as she loves both of them.

Interestingly, she is bringing both the actors to her show Tere Mere Beach Mein but they won't meet each other. Salman along with his mother Salma will be Farah's first celebrity guests. On the other hand, Shahrukh will appear in the final episode.

Farah said that they decided to make Salman as the first guest, as he had not been to any chat show. She added that they decided to feature Shahrukh at the end of the show to keep the audience hooked till the end.

Well, it maybe recalled that Salman and Shahrukh have been not in talking terms for quite sometime now. Their relationship worsened after getting into a public fight at Katrina Kaif's birthday last year.

Let's see if Farah will be able to bring the Khans together!

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Swine Flu Toll Reaches 102

The deadly H1N1 Virus has claimed 102 lives in India, after three more people succumbed to this virus. Out the latest three deaths reported, two are men from Maharashtra and the third one is a woman from Uttarakhand. 128 more people have been tested positive for the virus from different states.

According to officials from Pune, 42-year-old Vilas Padale and 26-year-old Anil Nikam succumbed to swine flu infection at separate private hospitals in Pune last night.

According to the about 15 people, who are currently being treated for the viral disease, are critical and have been admitted to various hospitals across Pune. The death toll in Pune is the highest in India with 31 people having succumbed to the disease.

35-year-old Rubina, a resident of Mussoorie, who had been suffering from cold, cough and fever for the last five days, passed away at the Doon Hospital last night, nodal officer for swine flu in Uttarakhand Pankaj Jain said. Her throat swab samples have been sent for test, he said.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Jaycee Lee story still dominates

The News of the World has a picture of the two girls thought to be fathered by her captor, Philip Garrido.

The compound where she was held captive for 18 years is yielding its secrets, the Sunday Telegraph tells us, showing photographs of the "lost world".

The paper also reports that Jaycee helped the Garrido family run their publishing business.

A Mail on Sunday photo shows a welcome sign leading to a "rundown world of tattered tents and outbuildings".

The People sees signs of normality: cuddly toys, make-up, Barbies, comic books, bookcases and an ironing board.

The Sunday Express tells us it is a seedy lair in a junk-strewn backyard with tents held together with sticking plasters and tape.

The prospect of talks with the Taliban following Gordon Brown's visit to Afghanistan features in several papers.

The Observer quotes a diplomatic source saying many are not committed and can be brought back into mainstream life.

The Sunday Telegraph says the source made clear that any negotiations should be carried out by the Afghans because the tribal dynamics are so complex.

The Sunday Mirror says if the most extreme Taliban are isolated and forces can start to come home, so be it.

A picture of a malnourished child in Ethiopia from the famine a quarter of a century ago dominates the Independent on Sunday's front page.

The paper says international agencies fear the levels of death and starvation of the mid-1980s are set to return.

Jack Straw dropped a demand to exclude the Lockerbie bomber from a prisoner transfer deal, the Sunday Times says.
The paper has letters written in 2007 claiming it was taken on the grounds of "overwhelming UK interests".

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BJP will emerge from present crisis: RSS

Before winding up his three-day visit to the capital, RSS chief Bhagwat drove to Advani's residence and met him over breakfast and discussed the current crisis. Yesterday, he had driven to senior leader Murli Manohar Joshi's residence for lunch.

After this morning's meeting, RSS leader Madan Das Devi, who accompanied Bhagwat to Advani's house, told reporters, "the RSS is assured that BJP leaders as a party will stand united and will face all problems and emerge stronger."

"We have been given such an assurance and we also feel that they will overcome problems," he said.

On the current leadership crisis, he said the party will go into the issue and take a decision by itself and when it is decided it will be announced.

On the party's future, Devi quoted Bhagwat's message at the Friday press conference that the party leaders would discuss and decide the issue and RSS feels that they will do it.
Devi said it was natural that when the RSS chief is in town that BJP leaders would meet him and discuss situation in the party and the nation.

During the last two days the situation in the party was discussed between the RSS chief and party leaders. RSS feels that BJP is a big party of activists and crises would keep coming. That is why all the leaders are meeting to decide the future course of action and to resolve all problems, he said.

Amidst reports that Advani may be asked to step down and that various names are being considered as his successor as well as the new president for the party, both RSS and BJP have maintained that they were not discussing any succession plan.

RSS says Bhagwat and BJP leaders have been discussing the state of affairs in the party and assessing whether Sangh's help is needed.

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Doctors' strike kills 21 in Bihar hospital

Twenty-one patients in the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) have died after a strike by junior doctors that entered its third day Saturday, authorities said.

'While six patients died Thursday, 15 died in the last 24 hours. Lack of doctors in the emergency ward led to most deaths,' a government official said.

More than 400 junior doctors are on an indefinite strike from Thursday demanding hike in their stipends.

The strike has badly hit the emergency, outdoor and surgery services in the hospital.
The hospital authorities have sought the help of the state health department to cope up with the situation. More than 50 doctors have been requisitioned from nearby hospitals but only a dozen have joined.

'In last two days, hundreds of patients were forced to shift to private nursing homes. Those who cannot afford treatment outside have been left in the lurch,' a senior doctor said.

A leader of the junior doctors' association said their demand for a hike in stipend has been pending for some years.

'We get stipend of Rs.13,000 in the first year, Rs.14,000 in second and Rs.15,000 in the third year of post-graduation. We are demanding that this amount be increased to Rs.22,500 at par with some neighbouring states,' the doctor said.

Hundreds of poor patients, who came for treatment from across the state, are the greatest victims of the strike.

Arvind Prasad, a relative of a patient, said: 'We are the main victims of the strike because there is no doctor to attend to the patients.'

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BJP heading for leadership change?

Speculations are rife within the BJP rank and file that a possile leadership change is in the offing though the party spokesperson have issued statements denying any such plans.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) seems to have stepped in to manage the transition to prepare the party for a life without Lal Krishna Advani.

Party leaders have been holding series of meetings on many issues that now plague the saffron party.

On Saturday morning, senior BJP leaders Murli Manohar Joshi and BC Khanduri met RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. A day before on Friday, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Ananth Kumar and Venkaiah Naidu confabulated with the RSS boss. The four leaders then met BJP leader LK Advani.

The series of talks between the party leaders could be hinting at laying down a succession plan for the BJP.

As per media reports, Sushma Swaraj, the Deputy Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, could succeed Advani and Arun Jaitley, the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, could replace Rajnath Singh as the party president. This would open the way for Venkaiah Naidu to take Jaitley's place in the Rajya Sabha.

However, it could take a few months before the leadership change actually takes place.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

'Kandahar deal was a unanimous NDA decision'

Former national security advisor Brajesh Mishra, who was a close aide of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, spoke for the first time in public about certain critical, events and decisions taken during the six years of the NDA rule. These are events and decisions which attracted considerable attention, if not considerable controversy.

In an exclusive interview with Karan Thapar, Mishra speaks about the Kandahar terrorists-for-hostages swap, Vajpayee’s relationship with BJP leader LK Advani and the RSS, his days of “disgust” in the first year of his prime ministership, among many other issues.

Karan Thapar: I want to start with the Kandahar episode and let me begin by asking you – how was the decision to exchange three terrorists for the hostages taken and who all took that decision?

Brajesh Mishra:
The decision was taken by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) which has five members – the Prime Minister, Home Minister, Finance Minister, External Affairs Minister and Defence Minister – and some other supporting staff. As it is known they initially wanted the release of 36 terrorists, $200 million and the remains of some terrorists who were buried in Kashmir. Nobody was prepared to accept these demands but once these demands were brought down to three with no money and remains of terrorists, then a unanimous decision was taken by the committee that in order to save the lives of the hostages the three terrorists will be released.

Karan Thapar: This was a unanimous decision?

Brajesh Mishra: Of course.

Karan Thapar: So the home minister of the day LK Advani was a part and parcel of the decision?

Brajesh Mishra: Yes, of course.

Karan Thapar: He (Advani) didn't in any way differ or disagree?

Brajesh Mishra: Let me again say that to begin with no one was in favour of any concessions.

Karan Thapar: But at the end?

Brajesh Mishra: In the end all had to do it.

Karan Thapar: And Advani was part of that consensus?

Brajesh Mishra: Of course, he was part of the Cabinet Committee meeting.

Karan Thapar: The second critical decision connected with the Kandahar episode was that the then external affairs minister Jaswant Singh should accompany the terrorists to Kandahar to ensure that nothing went wrong. How was that decision taken and who all were party to that decision?

Brajesh Mishra: The CCS use to meet everyday during that week – December 24 to December 31. So, they met on morning of December 30 or 31 and Jaswant Singh proposed that he would go to Kandahar to bring back the hostages and he explained that the Indian representatives who were negotiating in Kandahar – diplomats, IB people, RAW – they had suggested that somebody senior should be here in order to take care of any last minute complications etc. This he informed the CCS and they agreed that he should go.

Karan Thapar: Again, was it a unanimous decision by the Cabinet Committee?

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Nehru responsible for Indo-Pak partition: Jaswant

After incurring the wrath of the BJP, and getting expelled from the party for his pro-Jinnah comments, former Indian foreign affairs minister and expelled leader Jaswant Singh is now raising the hackles of Congress with his Nehru bashing comments.

In an interview to a Pakistani News Channel, Singh courted controversy yet again with his scathing comments against the first Indian PM, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel.

Singh attacked Nehru's Tryst with destiny speech, saying that it smacked of double standards as he talked of secularism, when he himself along with Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel contributed to dividing the country on grounds of faith.

Singh also added that Nehru himself admitted to his so called mistake in his later years, that he too was responsible for dividing India.

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Salman to take on SRK in the field

After taking on Shahrukh Khan on the screen and off it Bollywood hunk Salman Khan is also set to take his arch rival on the cricket field. Salman has shown interest in owning a team in the Indian Premier League (IPL). The actor apparently met Lalit Modi the chairman and commissioner of the IPL to discuss the possibility of buying one of the two new teams which will be added to the tournament from the 2011 season.

Salman has been toying with the idea of owing a team ever since he saw fellow celebrities Preity Zinta, Juhi Chawla and Shilpa Shetty apart from SRK being associated with India's cricketing extravaganza. Although the names of the cities haven't been finalised by the IPL body, cities like Ahmedabad, Nagpur and Vishakhaptanam are being discussed. Apart from Salman Khan , Ajay Devgan and Sanjay Dutt are also reportedly interested in owning IPL teams.

But is not going to be easy for Salman to own a team as some of India's leading corporates will take part in the auction will take place in January 2010. Markets analysts believe each of the two teams could sell for as much as Rs. 1000 Crores. It remains to be seen if Salman alone goes for a team or ties up with other Bollywood celebrities to own a team. The Bollywood war though will be fought on a different battle ground.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dozens killed in Kandahar bombing

A car bomb explosion in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar has left about 40 people dead.

Tuesday's blast came as official preliminary results for last week's presidential elections were released, giving incumbent Hamid Karzai a slight lead over nearest rival Abdullah Abdullah.

Police said the blast on Tuesday was a suicide attack near a wedding hall in a residential area of the city.

Two hospitals said 90 people were injured in the blast.

Massive blast

Al Jazeera's James Bays, reporting from the capital, Kabul, said all the dead were civilians - many women and children among them – and the wedding hall was destroyed.

"Kandahar is the capital of a province that is one of the most violent in Afghanistan," he said.

"It was a massive blast that could be heard by people across the city. It has caused widespread devastation in the centre of the city. It is a largely residential area that has been devastated by this bomb blast."

The bomb went off shortly after dusk fell and people were breaking their Ramadan fast.

Ahmed Wali Karzai, a representative of Kandahar provincial council, told Al Jazeera: "There are still some people trapped. We have people trying to get them out of the rubble."

Agha Lalai, another council member, said the blast "felt like an earthquake. The power went off and there was a huge explosion".

'Unknown target'

The bomb went off near a guest house frequented by foreigners, the Kandahar provincial intelligence headquarters and just 800m from the local UN offices.

"The staff is good, everybody is safe," Samad Khaydarov, head of the UN assistance mission in Afghanistan.

"Our offices, our guesthouses, are safe. ... Unfortunately, security is not so good in Kandahar."
Fazel Ahmad Shairzad, the deputy Kandahar police chief, said police did not yet know what the target was and were investigating.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but a government spokesman blamed the attack on Taliban-linked groups.

Kandahar is the biggest city in southern Afghanistan, an area where Taliban fighters battling the Western-backed government continue to have strongholds.

The city was the powerbase of the former Taliban government, which was ousted from power in Afghanistan by US-led troops in 2001 and replaced with Karzai's Western-backed administration.

The Taliban have struck repeatedly in recent weeks in a bloody countdown to nationwide elections last week, only the second time that war-weary Afghans have voted for a president in their history.

Nato deaths

Earlier on Tuesday, four US soldiers operating with Nato were killed in a bomb blast in the south of the country.

The US military said the soldiers had been killed by an improvised explosive device.

The deaths make August the second most deadly month for US troops in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion so far.

Also on Tuesday, a British soldier who was wounded while on patrol on August 15 in Helmand province, died in hospital, the British defence ministry said.

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Jackson's death caused by lethal injection

LOS ANGELES: Lethal levels of a powerful anesthetic caused Michael Jackson’s death, according to preliminary coroner findings cited in Texas court documents that were unsealed on Monday.

The documents include a pair of search warrants and affidavits filed by the police in July to search the Houston office and storage unit of Dr Conrad Murray, Jackson’s private doctor.

The police told judges in Texas and Nevada they suspected Murray of manslaughter. According to the warrants, Murray told investigators he had administered an intravenous drip of 50mg of propofol to Jackson nightly for six weeks before the singer’s death to help him sleep. Murray also administered lorazepam, an anti-anxiety drug, and midazolam, a muscle relaxant, to treat Jackson’s insomnia.

Murray administered propofol and other drugs, including valium, on June 25. “After some 10 minutes, Murray stated he left Jackson’s side to go to the restroom,” the documents say. “Murray stated he was out of the room for about two minutes maximum. Upon his return, he noticed Jackson was no longer breathing.”

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