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: http://ibnlive.in.com/news/mathura-train-collision-10-dead-probe-ordered/103630-3.html?from=tn

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: http://www.hindustantimes.com/jandk/Centre-ready-for-talks-on-Kashmir-Chidambaram/465172/H1-Article1-464819.aspx

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: http://www.samaylive.com/news/maoists-attack-railway-station-blast-government-office-in-bihar/661947.html

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: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/bollywood/news-interviews/Big-B-needs-7-hour-sleep-for-birthday/articleshow/5109932.cms

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: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/barackobama/6280293/Analysis-Barack-Obama-wins-2009-Nobel-peace-prize.html

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: http://entertainment.oneindia.in/bollywood/gupshup/2009/aamir-salman-reuniting-081009.html

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: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8290059.stm

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: http://sify.com/news/fullstory.php?a=jkfiOdhgbhf&title=Over_400_000_babies_die_within_day_of_birth_in_India

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: http://www.deccanherald.com/content/28490/148-dead-floods-batter-karnataka.html

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: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/news/world/us/America-has-its-roots-in-India-of-Mahatma-Gandhi-Obama/articleshow/5079579.cms

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: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/toll-mounts-to-39-in-kerala-boat-accident/523365/