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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mamata slams Buddhadeb, says he 'misled' nation on abducted cops

NEW DELHI: Demanding information on two policemen missing for months, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday met the home minister
and then accused West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee of misleading the country. The two cops were abducted by Maoists on July 30.
"I along the families of two missing constables met the home minister. He said he was upset and equally concerned. Though law and order is a state subject, he assured of all possible help in searching for them," Banerjee said after meeting Chidambaram here.

The two constables Kanchan Garai and Sabir Ali Mollah had been whisked away by Maoists on July 30 from West Midnapore district, and there has been no trace of them since. Last Saturday at a press conference here, Bhattacharjee made a remark regarding the "death" of two policemen.

That created a furore in the state, though the chief minister and his officials promptly said he was not referring to these two constables.

Banerjee said Bhattacharjee had misled the country.

"West Bengal chief minister has misled the country, distorted the facts and misled the people and families of abducted policemen. It's a matter of great concern," she said.

The Trinamool Congress leader also demanded an explanation on how the two policemen were abducted during the joint operations against Maoists in the restive Lalgarh region of the state.
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Girls warned not to hide boyfriends' guns

LONDON: A campaign warning girls not to stash or carry guns for their boyfriends was launched by London police on Wednesday.

The hard-hitting adverts, which are aimed at 15 to 19-year-olds of African and African Caribbean heritage, are designed to combat a worrying growth in the number of young women being arrested and convicted of possessing weapons.

times of india
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Indians feel attacks not due to race, but financial conditions

MELBOURNE: With incidents of attacks on Indians here on the rise, many community members feel the root cause of such assaults is not race but the

students' financial conditions that force them to be out at night for odd jobs to meet high cost of living in Australia.

Many Indians in Australia feel students from India should be "alert" and "careful" if they travelling at odd hours in the night.

"It is not the race that is the problem but it is their hard financial conditions," Ravi Bhatia, Primus CEO and a leading community member, said reacting to the latest attack in which a 22-year old Sikh was attacked while he was asleep at a bus stop.

"What makes you sleep at that time at a bus stop. Are you not inviting problems by doing so?" he asked.

"Students as a migrants have some obligations also and they should take basic safety measures," he said.

Srinivas Vasan, Federation of Indian Association of Victoria (FIAV), said Australia is the most multicultural society and has allowed people from all over the world to live here peacefully.

Over 30 Indian students were attacked in various Australian cities from June to September.

"We have been urging students on some do's and don'ts like to organise their late night travels, not to carry cash and be careful and alert. If you are working late nights and travelling odd hours in public transport you are expected to be alert and careful," Vasan said.

Echoing his views, Neeraj Nanda, Editor of a local Indian newspaper who conducted a survey on what could be the cause of such attacks, said majority of Indians settled here felt that their own countrymen were largely responsible for the attacks.

"Talking to many families I found all most everyone felt that Indians were to be blamed for inviting problems. They refuse to integrate in Australian society that sorts of annoy the localites," he said.

While Australia still tops as a safest destination by many Indian students, for many of them things are not as rosy as painted by their agents back home and interestingly, there has been a pattern noticed in such incidents.

Most of the students in vocational courses hail from rural parts of India. With little or no financial support they pick odd jobs like in security, cleaner, at petrol stations or drive a cab late at night.

To add to the problem, they rent out in cheap and crime prone areas and use public transport at odd hours which make them highly prone to such attacks.

"We have many Indian students who work odd hours and do not sleep properly for days as they work odd hours," said Elizabeth Drozd, Victorian multiculturalism commissioner and a university teacher.

"They attend their classes in the morning and work late nights to meet out their living," Drozd said, adding many of these students feel so tired and they sleep anywhere.

However, Gautam Gupta of Federation of Indian Student Association disagrees if with the view. He said if someone sleeping at late night at a bus stop was risky then half of India was at high risk.

Bhatia said like Indians even Chinese student population is huge here but majority of Chinese belong to affluent families and they can afford expensive education and living.

"Chinese do not become such targets as they are from rich families and can easily afford the expenses of living and studying here. Aspiring students should be able to fully fund course fee and not rely on a part time work wages," he said.

Meanwhile, Australian government has suspended almost 200 agents operating in a number of countries for lodging on line student visa applications because of evidence of fraud or poor approval rates.

times of india
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US lauds UPA govt's policy on religious freedom

WASHINGTON: The Obama administration has described as "good" Manmohan Singh government's policyon religious freedom but said it has "concerns"
on the issue at the local level, especially in BJP-ruled states, PTI reported.

The first report on international religious freedom after Barack Obama assumed office in January said: "...we are very mindful that there are still inner religious tensions within the society, and I think our focus would be on the lack of response at a local level rather than a national - the national policy is good.”

"Although the vast majority of citizens of every religious group lived in peaceful coexistence, some organized societal attacks against minority religious groups occurred," the report said alleging "the state police and enforcement agencies often did not act swiftly to effectively counter such attacks," IANS reported.

"It's a question of how it's implemented at a local level," assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labour Michael H Posner said after US secretary of state Hillary Clinton released the report that covered 198 countries.

In the India section spread over 30 pages, the report gave good ratings to the Congress-led coalition, but said some state and local governments limited religious freedom by enacting or amending "anti-conversion" legislation and by not efficiently or effectively prosecuting those who attacked religious minorities.

The report refers to allegations of NGOs that BJP stoked communally sensitive matter as state elections grew near. While there was no report of any religious violence during the general elections held early this year, the report did mention the alleged inflammatory speech of young BJP leader Varun Gandhi.

The report said the phrase "generally respected" signifies that the government attempted to protect religious freedom in the fullest sense and was "thus the highest level of respect for religious freedom assigned" by it.

Religious extremists, it noted, committed numerous terrorist attacks throughout India, including the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai that targeted luxury hotels, a crowded railway station, a Jewish centre, a hospital, and restaurants.

The report noted 40 persons died and 134 were injured as "violence erupted in August 2008 in Orissa after individuals affiliated with left-wing Maoist extremists killed a Hindu religious leader in Kandhamal, one of the country's poorest districts."

"Although most victims were Christians, the underlying causes that led to the violence have complex ethnic, economic, religious, and political roots related to land ownership and government-reserved employment and educational benefits," it said.

Numerous cases were in the courts, including cases in connection with the 2002 Gujarat violence, the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, and more recent attacks against Christians, the State Department report noted.

But "some extremists continued to view ineffective investigation and prosecution of attacks as a signal that they could commit such violence with impunity."

"In general, India's democratic system, open society, independent legal institutions, vibrant civil society, and press all provided mechanisms to address violations of religious freedom when they did occur," the report said.

Listing "improvements and positive developments" in the year ended June 30, the report said, "In India, "Government officials responded to a number of new and previous violent events, helping to prevent communal violence and providing relief and rehabilitation packages for victims and their families."

"Efforts at ecumenical understanding brought religious leaders together to defuse religious tensions," it said noting, "in the aftermath of the November 2008 Mumbai terrorist strikes, religious leaders of all communities condemned the attacks and issued statements to maintain communal harmony."
times of india

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Akram's wife was taken out of Pakistan against doctors' advice

LAHORE: Pakistani cricketer Wasim Akram's wife Huma, who died in a Chennai hospital two days ago, was reportedly flown out of the countryagainst the advice of doctors treating her in this eastern Pakistani city.
The physicians are of the view that the decision proved fatal as Huma was not in a condition to be allowed by any doctor to travel abroad for treatment.

"A panel of 10 senior doctors of three hospitals in Lahore had advised Wasim Akram not to take her abroad to Singapore in view of her serious health condition," said one of the physicians, who did not wish to be named.

Huma died in a hospital in Chennai on Sunday and was buried here on Monday.

According to Huma's physician at the National Defence Hospital in Lahore, she developed a throat infection and a dry cough after undergoing dental treatment in Karachi in September.

She got herself treated for this but developed an infection in the kidneys in the first week of October.

It was then diagnosed that Huma had developed acute renal failure and her white cell count was increasing.

The other complications developed by Huma, a psychologist by profession, reportedly included severe infection of the kidneys with acute tubular necrosis, vasculitis (inflammation of blood vessels), and pulmonary hypertension (high pressure of blood vessels in lungs).

"She was improving clinically when Akram decided to take her abroad because he and his relatives thought there are better health facilities in Singapore," the physician said.

Akram told the doctors that he was under "immense pressure" from his in-laws to get Huma treated abroad, the physician added.

Another doctor who treated Huma said the family was unsatisfied with her treatment as they thought there was some "confusion" about her diagnosis.

The air ambulance carrying Huma from Lahore to Singapore had to be diverted to Chennai when her condition worsened and she was rushed to Apollo Hospital.

Munidar Rao of Apollo Hospital told a Pakistani news channel that when Huma was brought to the hospital, she was in septic shock and this led to multiple organ failure.

"I fail to understand as to why she was being shifted to Singapore in such a critical condition," he said.

Javed Akram, Principal of Allama Iqbal Medical College and a professor of medicine, too questioned the move to take Huma abroad as there is no surgery, procedure, doctor or medicine that is available in Singapore and not in Lahore.

"I think unnecessary shifting of Huma from Pakistan in a critical condition caused her death," Javed Akram opined.
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tamil billionaire's arrest puts Sri Lanka on guard

Colombo: A Sri Lankan-born billionaire's arrest in the largest US hedge fund insider trading case triggered new scrutiny on Monday in his native country over the possibility his money found its way to Tamil rebels.

US authorities on Friday charged Raj Rajaratnam, the 52-year-old founder of the Galleon Group hedge fund, and others with making up to $20 million in illegal profits through a network of secret informants.

The arrest sent ripples through Rajaratnam's native Sri Lanka, where he is at once viewed with admiration for his success and suspicion because of at least $5 million US records show he gave to the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO).

Rajaratnam has not been charged with any crime in Sri Lanka, nor has the United States charged him in the case of the TRO.

The TRO's funds were frozen in both countries after they were found to have been channelled to the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), defeated by the army in May to end a 25-year war.

But both the central bank, responsible for tracking financial crimes, and the Sri Lankan Securities and Exchange Commission said they were probing Rajaratnam and his dealings.

"The TRO investigations are continuing. It's not clear yet. The involvement of the Galleon fund with funding the TRO is also being probed," Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal told Reuters in Jaffna.

In a sign of Rajaratnam's influence on the Sri Lankan market, either as an investor or through Galleon Group, the Colombo Stock Exchange had its biggest intra-day drop in five years before recovering to close down 1.56 percent.

Higher economic growth hopes, more market liquidity, a $2.6 billion International Monetary Fund loan, an upgraded rating outlook and foreign inflows have all boosted investor confidence since the end of the war.

The Sri Lankan foreign ministry had passed an intelligence dossier on Rajaratnam to US authorities in 2007, around the time the TRO was being investigated by the U.S. Treasury, two Sri Lankan officials familiar with the matter said.

The United States, Sri Lanka and Britain all have put the now-defeated LTTE on their banned terrorist organisation lists.

The Sri Lankan stock market regulator said it had no suspicion of any untoward dealings by Rajaratnam in its market, but said it would investigate his trades nonetheless.

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Ambani gas row hearing to start in SC today

Mumbai: India's billionaire Ambani brothers face off in the country's top court this week over a gas pricing case with all guns blazing: lined on each side are a battery of India's highest paid legal brains.

The Supreme Court will on Tuesday start hearing arguments in the case between Reliance Industries, headed by Mukesh Ambani, and Reliance Natural Resources, led by Anil Ambani, over a deal to sell gas to RNRL at below-market rates as per a family settlement.

This is not the first time the brothers, sons of legendary businessman Dhirubhai Ambani, have fought over business interests that span oil and gas, retail, telecoms, entertainment, financial services and infrastructure since a 2005 settlement brokered by their mother Kokilaben.

Two years ago, talks between Anil's Reliance Communications and South Africa's MTN Group to create a top-10 global telecoms firm were scuppered by Mukesh's claim to a right of first refusal on the Indian mobile firm's shares.

The brothers played joint hosts at a recent 75th birthday party for their mother, raising hopes they may bury the hatchet. Top Government officials and a lower court have suggested they go back to their mother to resolve the gas dispute.

But the row over gas pricing, which analysts say highlights India's uncertain regulatory environment, has prompted a near-daily barrage of words, including an outburst by Anil at a shareholders' meeting, and newspaper advertisements accusing the petroleum ministry of favouring Reliance Industries.

Anil has unexpectedly offered to reconcile with Mukesh and resolve their differences, but Reliance Industries has argued the row goes beyond a mere family squabble.

Analysts say the court must also take a broader view of the Ambani settlement of 2005, which was never made public.

"Who knows what else is in there? This kind of fighting is very damaging to shareholders; they have a right to know the risks," said Arun Kejriwal, director at research firm KRIS.


The gas, which Reliance Natural wants at almost half the Government-set rate of $4.2 per million metric British thermal unit (mmBtu), comes from the vast Krishna Godavari basin off India's east coast that is operated by Reliance Industries.

The field is the country's biggest gas find and is expected to nearly double India's gas output when production is at full throttle at 80 mmscmd.

Energy-hungry India, which wants to reduce its dependence on foreign oil and become a new frontier for oil and gas exploration, has showcased the discovery in the KG basin to attract foreign investors.

But analysts worry the Ambani dispute is putting off foreign investors, with possible Government interference in the pricing and marketing of gas raising investment risk in a politically sensitive resource.

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Cricket and Commonwealth

London: Cricket and the Commonwealth are ‘two institutions that inter-link and endure’, said former United Kingdom Prime Minister Sir John Major at a recent dinner to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Modern Commonwealth at Lord’s Cricket Ground.

Sir John spoke of the bonds of shared Commonwealth values, many of which find expression in cricket. He also spoke of nations defining and advancing themselves through the “magic [of cricket] that was a guiding light for the dispossessed and the disenfranchised”.

Said Sir John: “Over many decades, cricket has, for some, been an escape from obscurity to fame, poverty to comfort, exclusion to inclusion.

“Cricket and the Commonwealth continue to march together. The intricacies of both are difficult to explain, but both continue to thrive. They are linked by history, and have evolved over time to reflect our shared interests, common goals, sense of fair play – and sense of fun.”

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I am the champion: Jenson Button

SAO PAULO: With a British flag proclaiming ‘Great Button’ draped over his shoulders, Jenson Button stood and repeated over and over again four of the sweetest-sounding words in the English language.

“I am the champion,” the 29-year-old said, shouted and roared to anyone in earshot after making a lifelong dream come true in the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday with a fifth-place finish which he said felt like a victory. Australian Mark Webber won the race, followed by Robert Kubica and third-placed Lewis Hamilton.

The fifth-place was good enough to give Button an insurmountable 15-point lead in the drivers’ standings ahead of the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi on November 1.

“I am the world champion, baby, and I’m not going to stop saying it.

“This race for me was the best race I’ve driven in my life, probably. I know it’s because of the emotion involved with it but also because I knew I had to make it happen.”

Bawling away

He bawled “We Are The Champions” over the team radio on his slowing down lap, leaped from the car after parking up and sprinted to the pits to hug his father John, sobbing like a child, and embrace mechanics.

“I couldn’t get him off me,” said Button senior, clutching a champagne flute and gently swaying like a man in dreamland with a look of disbelief across his craggy features.

“He was like a limpet, crying his eyes out. He was just saying ‘I am world champion ’ — well, screaming it — non stop.”

The sleepless nights and inner torment, with critics accusing him of allowing the crown to slip through his fingers while others questioned whether he would be a worthy champion, were swept away.

“It’s more than relief. You don’t win the world championship and feel relief,” said the Briton, who less than a year ago had wondered whether he had a future in Formula One after Brawn’s predecessors Honda pulled out.

“This is the end of the fairytale,” he said.

“All of the bad memories and the good memories go through your mind, not just from this year but from previous years in the sport.


“The last few races were pretty stressful for me.

“Also I read too many papers and magazines, so there were some negative comments...there’s been a lot of good stuff written about us this year as well and so there should be. This team has done staggeringly well.

“I don’t think there has been a season like it in Formula One. So it’s great to sit here as world champion and I personally think I thoroughly deserve it. I am it. I am a world champion. I’m going to keep saying that all night.”

Button revealed that he had felt physically sick after Saturday’s setback, sitting in his room as closest rival and team mate Rubens Barrichello took pole position for his home Grand Prix.

Button recognised it had been a stressful end to the season.

“I have come out on top. I am world champion. What other words can I use?,” he said. “It’s getting boring. No it’s not...I am going to enjoy this moment like you would not believe.

“You can do that when you’ve won, can’t you?”

The results: 1. Mark Webber (Red Bull) 1h32:23.081; 2. Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber) 7.626; 3. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 18.944; 4. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 19.652; 5. Jenson Button (Brawn) 29.005; 6. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) 33.340; 7. Sibastien Buemi (Toro Rosso) 35.991; 8. Rubens Barrichello (Brawn) 45.454; 9. Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) 48.499; 10. Kamui Kobayashi (Toyota) 1:03.324; 11. Giancarlo Fisichella (Ferrari) 1:10.665; 12. Vitantonio Liuzzi (Force India) 1:11.388; 13. Romain Grosjean (Renault) 1 lap; 14. Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso) 1 lap.

Retirements: Fernando Alonso (Renault): accident second lap; Adrian Sutil (Force India): accident second lap; Jarno Trulli (Toyota): accident second lap; Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber): accident 22nd lap; Nico Rosberg (Williams): mechanical problem 28th lap; Kazuki Nakajima (Williams): accident 31st lap.

Overall standings: Drivers’: 1. Jenson Button (GBr) 89 points; 2. Sebastian Vettel (Ger) 74; 3. Rubens Barrichello (Bra) 72; 4. Mark Webber (Aus) 61.5; 5. Lewis Hamilton (GBr) 49; 6. Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) 48; 7. Nico Rosberg (Ger) 34.5; 8. Jarno Trulli (Ita) 30.5; 9. Fernando Alonso (Esp) 26; 10. Timo Glock (Ger) 24; 11. Felipe Massa (Bra) 22; 12. Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) 22; 13. Robert Kubica (Pol) 17; 14. Nick Heidfeld (Ger) 15; 15. Giancarlo Fisichella (Ita) 8; 16. Adrian Sutil (Ger) 5; 17. Sibastien Buemi (Sui) 5; 18. Sibastien Bourdais (Fra) 2.

Constructors’: 1. Brawn 161 points; 2. Red Bull 135.5; 3. McLaren 71; 4. Ferrari 70; 5. Toyota 54.5; 6. Williams 34.5; 7. BMW Sauber 32; 8. Renault 26; 9. Force India 13; 10. Toro Rosso 7. — Agencies

from hindu

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Labour strike in Haryana, 1 lakh workers protest

Gurgaon: A labor strike in a Gurgaon-based auto component factory in Haryana turned violent on Tuesday with over one lakh workers protesting and staying away from work in 60-odd companies in the automobile hub.

The strike has been called by the All India Trade Union Congress to protest alleged police inaction in a labour unrest which left one worker dead and six people injured.

While a case of murder has been registered by the Gurgaon Police, hundreds of striking workers at RICO, the auto-parts manufacturing unit, sat outside the factory gate in protest.

The management, they claimed, was responsible for triggering the violence on Sunday evening.

Gurgaon Police Commissioner SS Deswal had earlier told a news agency that "The workers' strike is illegal and we have given them repeated warnings to leave the place. We have adequate police presence to handle the situation."

RICO has been seeing labour unrest for the past one month. While the workers want to form a union, the management is not heeding to their demand saying the workers have had pay hikes and the unit is continuously seeing low productivity.

Late on Sunday, a clash broke out in the factory between workers who were on strike and those who wanted to get back to work. The situation soon spun out of control with violence and arson that left a worker dead.

Around 3,500 workers are on strike in the RICO factory. It is one of the largest industrial strikes in recent times and has brought production at the automobile hub of Manesar to a halt.

More than 60 companies operating in the Gurgaon-Manesar area will be affected by the strike. These include scooter major Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India, bike maker Hero Honda's Gurgaon plant and atleast five component makers.

However, Maruti Suzuki will be relatively insulated from the strike. The strike has also disrupted the movement of traffic in the Delhi-Jaipur National Highway-8.

The district administration had on Monday constituted a four-member committee, under the chairmanship of Additional Deputy Commissioner Pushpender Chouhan, to resolve the dispute between the factory management and labour union.

"We have not received any message from either the district authorities or the company to settle the matter," AITUC Gurgaon General Secretary Anil Kumar said.

from in.com

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

I have played with a lot of passion: Sachin

Just before he began a TV interview, Sachin Tendulkar requested the two technicians sitting behind the camera in front of him, not to move. If they did, it was possible he would get distracted and look at them rather than his interviewer. The men nodded and the conversation began. Something else also happened for the next 45 minutes. Seventeen other people in the room behind the glare of lights on Tendulkar's side also froze - out of instant obedience.

It is what Tendulkar has done over twenty years of international cricket: striking the ball, scoring the runs, giving India floods of joy, bursts of hope and a renewed shower of spontaneous respect.

Just before Tendulkar's 20th international season began, he spoke to
India Today about his international career, his opinions on the modern game and his hunger and competitiveness for cricket.

A tri-series in Sri Lanka and the Champions Trophy was to begin his season which will be followed by a seven-match ODI series against Australia. The Sri Lankans will then arrive for a Tests, ODI and T20 series just when November 15 will mark 20 years since Tendulkar's Test debut in Karachi. It was the only time he confessed he felt like he did not belong,"I felt this is not my cup of tea", he said to
India Today. After that first Test though, Tendulkar was able to find his confidence and then invented and create a personal path which changed the way India follows and plays its cricket.

After the Australians will arrive to begin the series on October 25 and when November changes India's weather and season, all the time and all the talk will focus on Tendulkar. Tendulkar himself will focus on his batting, his fitness and his concentration on every match day.

What has been as remarkable and singular as the man's cricket, full of sparkling strokeplay and entrenched consistency, is been his strength of mind and high threshold for physical pain.

Answering a question about a recent injury, Tendulkar held up his left hand and showed his twisted-looking index finger that had broken following a catch he took in the first Test in New Zealand. He did not get an x-ray done in at the time, "I'd said anyway I was going to play" and played with the broken finger for three months, getting it checked only when his hand refused to stop hurting weeks into the IPL.

Looking fitter, leaner and ready for the twentieth season, Tendulkar brushed off the unusual damage to the finger, shrugged off the episode and talked to
India Today about his past and cricket's future, his dreams for Indian cricket and the one-day international game and his life as cricketer, superstar, parent.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q. November will become the 20th year in international cricket for you. Only Gary Sobers has played non-stop international cricket for that long a period. Do you remember it all? Does it feel that long?
I feel that time definitely flies. I remember on my first tour Kapil Dev challenged me, he said 'you play for ten years.' It was a healthy bet which I won. When I completed ten years, Kapil Dev was the coach so I caught him and said I've won our bet. I'm glad today I'm almost very close to doubling that. I remember things clearly, even though time has flown. I remember most of my dismissals and I don't think any cricketer forgets that...I remember the great shots too.

Q. What part of your 16 or 20-year-old self would you like to have in your game today?
Mentally, it's different, now. When I was younger, there have been times where I've gone out thinking of attacking just from ball one, that wherever the ball is I'm going to attack, wherever the ball is I'm going to hit a six, literally, that kind of thought process. But I'm glad that doesn't happen today, that was different...you think differently in various stages in life and you react accordingly. So obviously I think differently at this stage and I don't feel like that, like I miss miss anything.

Q. What would you say is the single biggest lesson cricket has taught you? Which would save younger guys a lot of trouble if they knew about it?
I think to respect the game and to respect fellow cricketers. I was made to realize that very early on by a friend. In the early years of cricket, you have done everything possible thing under the sun to achieve your target. All of a sudden you have the India cap and India t-shirt and you start thinking that, oh I'm somebody special. I remember just after I started to play for India, a very close friend of mine conveyed a message through another person.

Around that time it was "just tell him that I've noticed that he is probably starting to think differently, the sooner he realises that the better it is.' And I sat back and I realised that, yes it was true. I wouldn't want to say who the person was. But it happened and that really helped me. I normally tend to tell all the youngsters who just get in the team, I know that it's good that you are here but learn to respect the cricketers who actually played with you before. That would help you to stay on the ground more than anything else.

Q. More than the runs or records, it is your consistency that has stood out for two decades now - what's the secret? If a young player asked you, 'I've got the game, I've got the fitness, how do I stay consistent,' what would you say?
I don't know how to answer this. I wish I knew the answer, I've just gone out and played and played with a lot of passion and I spent a lot of time preparing myself. Not only physically but mentally I spent time preparing. There have been ups and downs in everybody's career but I would much rather… when there are disappointments, I would much rather convert that negative energy into positive energy and use that somewhere else.

In training harder or spending more time in the nets. The set-backs have actually motivated me. My thinking is simple - I want to convert those disappointments into positive energy and use it and get even more determined. That is what I've done, nothing else.

Q. They say as athletes get older their body starts to break down, give them trouble but their mind gets sharper about their game, they find out new things. What have you learnt as you've become older?
You discover a lot of new things and I've been able to do that. If earlier obviously there were just a couple of ways to deal with a particular bowler, then today there would be four ways. You just know how to use what and when. It's about not accepting every little challenge thrown at you and going after that. Sometimes you hold back and when it's needed you go for it. You just calculate better and it comes with age and experience.

Q. How much was opening the batting in one-day cricket a factor in your success, at taking your game up another level?
Yes, I thought it was an important phase. I remember in 1994 when Sidhu was not fit for an ODI game in New Zealand, I walked up to Azhar and Ajit Wadekar and told them give me one chance. I told them, 'I know I can hit the fast bowlers and if I fail, I will not come and ask you again.' I could say that to Wadekar - 'if I fail I will not ask you again, give me just one chance.' They agreed and I scored 82 runs of 48 balls. From there on things started looking different for me. Obviously it helped in a big way.

Q. Why and how do you think that happened?
Because I was consistently facing the new ball and playing the first spells. And also had to play shots, there was that freedom too.

While doing that, I thought I developed a few shots batting up the order, like the punch off the backfoot and the short-arm pull. I used to play those but opening the batting there was more opportunity to do that so I did and I started using that in Test cricket more than what I would earlier.

The switch worked for me. To go out there and face the first spell and look to play shots… It was good for my game because I was always thinking positively. On very few occasions did I look to just play out the first spell, otherwise I was looking to hit the ball.

Q. You say that essentially you express yourself when you're batting, but without a bat in your hand you're not really aggressive, you're quite calm…
Well, I was very naughty. In school days I was always very naughty, always up to mischief. If I get to know a person I cannot be serious with them, I'm always up to something.

Then, I've always been competitive. It's extremely important for a sportsman to be highly competitive, one should not be able to take defeat just like that. I mean I don't believe in, you know, oh, it is just another game. When I'm out competing, I want to go all the way to the end. I would want to compete hard but compete hard in the right spirit.

Q. Do you ever think about your place in history? Where you will stand in the reckoning of the great batsmen who have played cricket for a hundred of years?
I don't honestly. I haven't thought about that at all, I've not...

Q. What criteria are paramount to you when you assess yourself or other players: that they entertained, won matches, were master of their craft or played the game in the right way?
Playing the game in the right spirit is extremely important and then somebody who obviously gave his best for the team and was able to adapt to the situation. Adaptability is very important too.

Q. A lot has changed in Indian cricket since you made your debut. What about Indian cricket has not changed in all these years which disappoints you?
Yes, sometimes we used to feel that, you know, a lot of things are not right, but over a period of time a lot of things have changed, so I have no complaints. Most of the things have changed now. Right now if I have to say then maybe the only thing which needs to be worked on or looked into is providing facilities to players in rural areas to spread the game as much as possible and provide equal opportunity to everyone playing it.

I know it's not going to be equal because someone living in Mumbai or Bangalore or Delhi or the heart of Chennai, will have better facilities than someone who stays in some remote place, but a certain basic standard has to be there.

Q. Twenty20 is the new format that has caught everyone's fancy. Do you worry that kids won't want to learn basic skills of the longer game like say, the forward defence because they're not going to use them in T20?
Well I'd say probably even Test cricket is changing. Now very rarely will you see three maiden overs in a row. I mean you know that five-six dot balls and in the next one the batsman will probably walk across and do something to ease the pressure. It's just progression; the game has changed and that's fine, I feel it's fine as long as Test cricket doesn't get neglected. The innovations are going to be there. Now in one-day cricket people play over the keeper's head and past short fine leg and play reverse sweep to fast bowlers. It makes the game exciting, it's fast.

Coming back to the guys not wanting to play longer cricket because they are all looking at T20 because there is more glamour, well for Test cricket you get a different crowd. For T20 there are so many who come there because it is exciting. They don't understand the game, but the atmosphere is such that they want to be part of it and it is fantastic for the game. You want as many people inside the stadium as possible because that makes the match more exciting.

Q. How would say your son Arjun take to this new environment? Is he going to want to learn the skills needed for Tests and long games when there's the glamour of T20 around?
Arjun actually likes both, he wants to wear whites and hit sixes. So it's a combination of both. I have to keep telling him that when you wear coloured clothing you can hit the ball up into the air and when you wear whites you have to keep the ball on the ground. (smiles) But I basically want him to enjoy the game more than anything else - if he enjoys the game then he is willing to go to any extents to achieving his target.

Q. Do you think coaches of the future will really want to teach older skills to kids who are going to come to the game in the next ten years?
I think it's extremely important for coaches to be teaching kids the right techniques, the right fundamentals. You can't be practicing just forward defence for seven days. Maybe you do that for a day, then it's one on playing reverse sweep and over fine leg's head… maybe one day in a week can be set aside for innovation.

There are different kind of skills - to leave a ball outside the off-stump and to know where your off stump is, that is an art. Similarly to beat short fine leg is also an art, but that is considered an art in a different format.

As long as we respect formats and just keep our thoughts and expecatations for that particular format, we should be okay. There is no mixing of formats because then there are always going to be bumpy rides. It good to be multi-dimensional and that can only open various doors for you.

We've got to be realistic, probably there are 25-year-old guys who know that it is difficult for them now to play Test cricket for India. Even one-day cricket might be difficult. So why not grab this opportunity for playing for an IPL team where you get to play cricket that is exciting it provides. It has the ideal recipe, it has recognition, following, pace, the game moves at a phenomenal place and you also earn money out of it and you live your passion.

Q. What do you think is needed to save one-day cricket these days?
I was thinking about it. I said why not think of introducing a different format if everyone is talking about it and probably this thought came to my mind because of the 2002 Champions Trophy final. We played for couple of days in the final against Sri Lanka. Both days Sri Lanka batted happily for 50 overs and when our turn came to bat we batted for five-seven overs and it rained. We ended up playing close to 110 overs and there was no result.

So why not also do something which solves the problem all across the world and give teams the chance to play their 25 overs in two lots? There are times in the afternoon when the wicket is the slower side and the ball doesn't come onto the bat so it's difficult to bat.
The spinners come into play but at night, the ball starts getting onto the bat and there is dew and you can hit through the line and the game changes.

Even if you score 280 you can still go and chase. So why not then give 25 overs to one team and then the other side can use the 25 overs the way they want to? If you want to exhaust all your ten wickets in the first 25 overs and score 230 runs, thinking that it might rain, you can do so.

So if you score 240 runs all down in 25 overs and the other side says fair enough I'm going to play out and play whatever 25 overs and score 150 runs, and again we start batting and it rains, you've won the game because we've scored more runs in the first 25 overs.

You get only ten wickets in 50 overs, use them whichever way you want and that makes it exciting. To know when to send which player is equally important and the weather also becomes important. You're sure that if you get 40 overs therein, you will definitely have a result.

Q. Would you like to see more technology in umpiring? What do you think of referrals now?
I think for the basic line decisions you have to have the laser or something like that. It is tough for the umpires to also watch the no-balls and watch what's happening in the front. They don't need to look at the line decisions, they just need to focus on what's happening. That should be left to the umpires.

The no-ball is like tennis… you can call it by the machine. They should use the Hot Spot for the bat-pad deicision so the main umpire has to only make the LBW calls. We are still using technology for close catches. The umpire has to only concentrate on LBW decisions because for the caught behind and all, the Hot Spot will come. Close in catches… again the Hot Spot will come. For the bowled you don't need a machine, so only the LBW decisions is what the umpire has to concentrate on. Maybe we could have umpires doing a session each and so have three umpires for a game, so umpires do get time off also.

Q. And the referrals?
I'm not particulary happy with the referrals because I'm not convinced of the angles and all. I'm not convinced. I wasn't happy when we first went through it, but I'm quite happy with the Hot Spot because that establishes the contact.

Q. How should a lot of young cricketers handle what they think of Indian cricket today - that its fans are too fickle and too extreme, that its media has too many channels and too much scrutiny?
Along with cricket, the things that happen around with cricket have also changed. You just have to accept that. It will continue to change and you have to accept and take it in your sporting stride - that is how it is going to be in India. As long as nobody sort of interferes in your personal life, that is fine. I feel that a players' personal life should not be intruded upon, by anyone else. A player time which with his family should always be respected.

Q. At the moment, what is your dream for Indian cricket?
Obviously I would like Indian cricket to be right at the top. Indian cricket should be regarded as the best cricket played in the world. The standard of playing India also is going to take time. It won't be right away but I think that with the introduction of IPL there are so many foreigners playing here that domestic players getting the chance of playing with and against them. That it is going to eventually improve the standard of playing in India.

There are one-day players and T20 players who are also playing IPL. The whole of Indian cricket, back-up bowlers and batters are also playing IPL along with and against the foreign players, so it will help Indian cricket in time to come. It has to help Indian cricket.
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Five things businesses should know about the H1N1 flu virus

The second wave of the swine flu pandemic should be upon us in earnest soon. So far, the H1N1 virus remains similar in severity to regular flu; however, it continues to mutate, and unknowns remain.

The one near-certainty is that many more people than usual will contract this virus. At least one-quarter of us could fall ill within the next few months.

The decisions you make as a business leader will impact your employees, your organization and your bottom line. I recognize the actions of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health can also affect your bottom line. With every decision I make, from whether to close a school to how to disseminate our first few doses of vaccine, I am constantly balancing the health or our community with the economic repercussions of our actions.


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Friday, October 9, 2009

World Cup Goal: Educate Every Kid

WASHINGTON, Oct 7 (OneWorld.net) - World leaders are pledging their support for a new campaign to get every child on the planet into school -- and they're hoping the highest profile sporting event in the world can help them achieve their goal.

What's the Story?

"It's an outrage that 35 million African children miss out on a basic primary education -- tackling that would be an incredible achievement," UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Tuesday at the global launch of the 1GOAL campaign, which aims to turn next year's World Cup soccer tournament in South Africa into a platform for action on the issue.

Brown joined soccer and entertainment stars, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and other activists and leaders in calling on the world's wealthier governments to provide more funding for education worldwide, especially to support teachers, textbooks, and school infrastructure in developing countries. They're also hoping to use the World Cup platform to convince millions of parents in developing nations that they should send their kids to school.

Some 75 million children worldwide are not in school; many cannot afford the fees charged by cash-strapped governments or must work to help support their families.

Ahead of the tournament, which starts on Jun. 11, 2010 and will be played in Africa for the first time ever, the 1GOAL campaign is trying to push the issue by recruiting tens of millions of supporters on its Web site. And it's got plenty of star power to help it do just that.

"Today, there are boys and girls around the world dreaming about their futures," said Clinton at yesterday's launch. "Education is their gateway to opportunity, it lifts people out of poverty and strengthens families, communities, and countries....Let's make the World Cup an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to education for all."

Added British soccer star Rio Ferdinand: "Musicians have led influential campaigns against poverty; it's time for the football world to do our part." Read the full statement from the 1GOAL Campaign below.]

Other well-known figures supporting the campaign include actress Jessica Alba, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, FIFA President Sepp Blatter, Queen Rania of Jordan, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, actor Kevin Spacey, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, and soccer stars Mia Hamm, Thierry Henry, and Michael Owen.

Education for All

While 40 million more children go to school today than in 2000, even if progress continues apace, tens of millions will still be out of school by 2015, the deadline world leaders set at the beginning of the century for getting all children into the classroom.

Perhaps even more worrisome, only 58 percent of eligible students worldwide get to attend secondary school, according to the Basic Education Coalition, an umbrella group of organizations pushing for more efforts to get kids into school.

An investment of about $11 billion more per year could ensure "education for all" by 2015, the group says, noting that developing countries spend about $40 per student per year on education. By contrast, developed countries spend 100 times that amount -- about $4,000 per student per year.

Currently, only a tiny fraction of global funding for education comes from international assistance. Local governments, families, and communities are left to pick up the vast majority of the tab.

The U.S. government provides about $0.7 billion for basic education efforts around the world each year, up from about $0.1 billion in 2000.Learn more about education for all from the Basic Education Coalition.]

$100B for U.S. Schools

More than $100 billion of federal stimulus funds are set to go toward improving education for U.S. kids -- the lion's share of it to stave of teacher layoffs and keep class sizes low. About $4 billion will support a so-called "Race to the Top" fund to reward states that innovate and demonstrably improve their public education systems.

But U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have largely ignored the question of which school districts get the money -- the richer ones or the poorer ones -- says Tara Kini of the nonprofit law firm Public Advocates, Inc.

In the stimulus package, Obama and Duncan have a rare opportunity to address the large funding gap between districts, notes Kini. Writing on the New America Media Web site today, Kini cites experiences from her home state to demonstrate the impact of unequal funding across school districts:

"Funding among California school districts is vastly unequal, ranging from a low of $6,000 per student in one district to a high of approximately $30,000 in another.

"Wealthy suburban districts like Palo Alto have more flexibility [to] streamline programs and services. Meanwhile, students returning to Hawthorne High School in southern LA County this fall found that English Language Development classes for beginning and intermediate English Learner students, which are vital to learning, have been eliminated.

"At Mt. Eden High School in Hayward, where class size is close to 40, students sit on folding chairs or stand because there are not enough desks to go around. And as anyone who has ever taken a walk through Oakland High School and Piedmont High can tell you, unequal funding produces unequal learning opportunities and -- down the road -- unequal outcomes." Read the full editorial on the New America Media Web site.]

The U.S. Department of Education is scheduled to decide in November how the "Race to the Top" funds will be allocated. Kini hopes the money only goes to states taking concrete steps to close funding disparities.

"Let's hope that Obama and Duncan don't pass up this precious opportunity to lead real school funding reform," writes Kini. "They may not get another chance. And our children can't afford for this one to slip by."

As international education advocates press the case for more equity in global education funding, they're hoping the 75 million out-of-school children in developing countries will soon get their chance.

Jeffrey Allen

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More aid pours in for floods

Oct. 8: The following readers have donated money to ‘Deccan Chronicle-CM’s Fund’ for flood relief on Thursday.

* Dr P. Raghu Ram, KIMS, Hyderabad: Rs 1,00,000
* Vuppu Subrahmanyam: Rs 21,000
* Thomas John: Rs 11,116
* Smt. Ammini John:
Rs 11,116
* K.V.N Mohan Rao:
Rs 10,000
* V.K. Natarajan: Rs 10,000
* C.V. Prabhakaran and Family: Rs 5,001
* Mohanbabu Bellumkonda: Rs 5,000
* Deepak Kumar Tapadia:
Rs 5,000
* M. Nagan Goud: Rs 3,000
* N. Suryanarayana: Rs 2,500
* Manohar R. Kotloe: Rs 2,000
* Prashant College: Rs 2,000
* Lasania’s (cash): Rs 1,500
* Susarla Indira and S.S.R. Murthy: Rs 1,116
* Roopa Pissay: Rs 1,001
* Ravindra Pissay: Rs 1,001
* Vijayalakshmi Pissay:
Rs 1,001
* Rajendra Pissay: Rs 1,001
* P. Sumesh: Rs 1,001
* P.N. Vasantha (cash):
Rs 1,001
* Dayakar Madina (cash):
Rs 1,001
* Uchwas Candanuru:
Rs 1,000
* R. Vinod Kumar: Rs 1,000
* Dr Prashant: Rs 1,000
* K. Veni: Rs 1,000
* K. Thammayachari:
Rs 1,000
* K.N. Parthasaaraty: Rs 1,000
* M. Prabhakar Rao: Rs 1,000
* Dr K.B. Patnaik: Rs 1,000
* Mahankali Venkata
Subbaiah (cash): Rs 1,000
* Ch V. Ramana Babu: Rs 501
* Somisetty Sampath Kumar: Rs 501
* Sanhitha Relationship Co:
Rs 501
* MAA Colour Associates:
Rs 501
* Nimmala Services: Rs 501
* N.S. Bhooshan: Rs 500
* N. Uma Bhooshan: Rs 500
* Gayatri Upasana: Rs 500
* Virender Singh: Rs 500
* A. Sreenivas: Rs 500
* B.H. Satish Kumar: Rs 500
* K. Murali Krishna (cash):
Rs 500
* Konda Vishwender (cash):
Rs 500
* Konda Rudra (cash):Rs 500
* S. Anand (cash): Rs 500
* Mahankali Lata (cash):
Rs 500
* Sirish Meghanathan (cash): Rs 250
* Lok Abhiram (cash): Rs 250
* N. Shashi Bhooshan: Rs 200
* V. Rangarajan: Rs 200
* Narayan Bhoseker (cash):
Rs 200
* P. Sravan Kumar (cash):
Rs 200
* Anurag Bhoseker (cash)
Rs 200
* Anirudh Bhoseker (cash):
Rs 200
* Mohd. Ishaq Baig (cash):
Rs 200
* Siraj Ahmed (cash): Rs 200
* Rakesh Singh Thakur (cash): Rs 200
* Mohd. Qasim Alikhan (cash): Rs 200
* Sekhar (cash): Rs 200
* E. Srinivas (cash): Rs 200
* S. Rajendra Kumar: Rs 151
* G. Kalyani: Rs 150
* Akterunnisa Begum (cash): Rs 125
* B.S.V.L. Narasimha Rao:
Rs 116
* Khaja Salamullah (cash):
Rs 115
* Koukab Siddiqua (cash):
Rs 110
* Pushpalata Ladda (cash):
Rs 101
* Satyanarayana Ladda (cash): Rs 100

from DC

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Fakes grab real victims’ share of aid

Oct. 8: Not just fund collectors, some of the “victims” in the relief camps too are bogus. And they are depriving the real sufferers of succour.
Several benami persons, including those who are financially very sound, have intruded into the nine camps in Vijayawada to grab the financial relief from both government and non-government organisations.
Many of them have enrolled their names as flood victims, preventing the real victims from getting the benefits.
In many of the camps, infighting among bogus and real victims is common. In fact, at the relief camp in Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Bus Stand, there was a near stampede when some people came to donate food packets and blankets.
“Benami victims are intruding into the camps with bogus ration cards. Though we are the real sufferers, we don’t have ration cards as they were washed away in floods,” said Mr P. Shankara Rao.
The district administration, however, said it had given identity cards to the real victims for the
verification to ensure that bogus victims don’t claim relief. The officials have advised the real victims to alert the authorities of any bogus victims.
from DC
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Rosaiah mum on TRS charges against YSR

Oct. 8: The Chief Minister, Mr K. Rosaiah, on Thursday parried allegations of corruption made against the late chief minister Dr Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy and his pet irrigation project, Jalayagnam by the TRS president, Mr K. Chandrasekhar Rao.
Mr Rosaiah said he would respond to the allegations after dealing with pressing issues.
It was left to the ministers, Mr D. Nagender, Mr P. Lakshmaiah and Mr D. Sridhar Babu, and the senior Congress leaders, Mr T. Jeevan Reddy and Mr G. Prakasa Rao, who were close to YSR.
The TRS chief had on Wednesday appealed to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, to order a CBI probe into Jalayagnam, alleging that the construction of projects illegally was responsible for the wide-scale damage.
Mr Rosaiah dismissed Mr Rao’s allegations about his administration’s negligence in flood management.
The irrigation minister, Mr Ponnala Laxmaiah, later challenged the TRS chief to prove his allegation that the floods was caused by human error and also due to the Pothireddypadu head regulator, which takes Srisailam water to Rayalaseema. Mr Laxmaiah said he was ready to face any punishment if guilty.
In response, Mr Chandrashekhar Rao, who is presently in Delhi, said he was ready for a debate to prove his allegation.
Responding to this, the TRS chief said in Delhi that he was accepting the challenge and was ready for a debate to prove his allegation. If proved wrong, he said, he is prepared to be hanged in public at the Public Gardens in Hyderabad.
Earlier, the TRS chief said that to ensure supplies to Pothireddypadu regulator and projects in Rayalseema, engineering officials had delayed the release of water, which caused flooding in Kurnool.

from DC
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Head priest was reluctant to leave Mantralayam

Oct. 8: The pontiff of the Sri Madhvacharya Moola Mahasamsthana Raghavendra Swamy Mutt at Mantralayam Sri Suyateendra Teertha Swamy was reluctant to be airlifted from the mutt on the day Tungabhadra ravaged the town. He agreed only after 10 hours of persuasion by his disciples and the Karnataka Chief Minister, Mr B.S. Yeddyurappa.
Sri Suyateendra Teertha Swamy shared his experience with this newspaper.
He said: “It was quiet till the evening of October 1. However, the water levels started rising by the midnight. I took the Moola Rama deity box and along with 35 sishyas moved to the first floor. On October 2, the water level touched 16-18 feet in the main temple.”
The pontiff added, “I prayed to Lord Rama and Sri Guru Raghavenda Swamy to see that no life is lost.” However, the water level rose. “Even the banyan trees in the garden were uprooted. Looking at the scene, I could imagine ‘pralaya’ as described by sage Markandeya,” the pontiff said.
One devotee, Mr Subanna, called the Karnataka MP, Mr Anantha Kumar, and discussed the situation at the mutt and the need to airlift Swamiji.
Swamiji ensured all disciples and archakas got on board the chopper and only took the last chopper at 5.15 pm on October 2. He was airlifted along with the Moola Rama deities to Raichur. He conducted poojas for the Moola Rama deities on October 3 and 4 at Raichur Swamy. He returned to the mutt on October 5.
from DC
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Beware of bogus relief collectors

Oct. 8: Preying on people’s generosity to make a profit, several bogus humanitarian organisations and individuals have started collecting donations for the flood victims in the state.
However, such donation hardly ever reach the genuine victims and are mostly used up by the fly-by-night organisations and dubious collectors themselves.
The state government has now put the police, even in the districts, on an alert to identify such bogus relief collectors and take stringent action against them.
Officials have revealed, at least 3,000 organisations and individuals, many of them bogus and without accountability, have been collecting funds in the state.
The information minister, Dr J. Geetha Reddy, on Thursday requested people not to donate medicines. She said the government alone will ensure the supply of medicines to the flood-affected areas. She also asked people to refrain from donating used clothes and cooked food.
The Hyderabad district collector, Mr Navin Mittal, who is coordinating with the districts administrations of Mahbubnagar, Kurnool and Krishna, said donors should send in their donations — cash or kind — only to authorised Non Governmental Organisations or newspaper organisations besides well-known individuals. Mr Mittal asked people to hand over cheques or demand drafts (DDs) at the special counter in the Secretariat or at the district collector’s office. He said donation in kind, especially cooking utensils, will also be of great help.
Meanwhile, the state government has set up special centres in various cities and towns to receive aid material. Dr Geetha Reddy said the material could be handed over at the Exhibition Grounds, Nampally, in Hyderabad; Sports Stadium at Kurnool; Lalitha Kala Pranganam at Tirupati; the Corporation office at Vijayawada; the collector’s office in Guntur and at the church in Repalle.
Dr Geetha Reddy also announced that the assistant sub-inspector, Mr T. Satyanarayana, and the constable, Mr Rama Rao, were suspended following allegations that the two had sold relief material in Veeravalli in Mahbubnagar district.
from DC
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YSR plan will save Krishna

Oct. 8: Modernisation of the Krishna delta alone will provide a lasting solution to the perennial flooding of Krishna district, said irrigation experts.
Implementation of the long-pending modernisation scheme was one of the cherished dreams of the late Chief Minister, Dr Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy.
The Krishna Delta modernisation was planned in 1973 itself but successive governments ignored the plan, which was then estimated to cost Rs 98 crore.
Though the plan was put in cold storage during the last three decades, Dr Reddy took it on priority basis as part of Jalayagnam.
He dreamt of modernising the entire Krishna Delta at an estimated cost of Rs 4,576 crore since it would ensure water to 13 lakh acres in Guntur, Krishna and Prakasam districts.
YSR opposed taking up repairs on canals and strengthening of embankments as that would not provide relief to farmers and waste money. At his behest, a comprehensive plan was approved but fund crunch delayed its implementation. Ironically, the delay in strengthening the bunds and flood banks is being cited as the reason for inundation of lakhs of acres in the recent floods.
The All India Kisan Sabha vice-president, Mr K. Nageswara Rao, said: “We have been requesting the Planning Commission also to consider the proposal and release funds. If the canals and embankments are strengthened, the district need not worry about heavy flooding.”
Politicians have also said implementation of YSR’s proposal is the only solution to save the delta. “The World Bank provides funding only when other states submit similar proposals. With no initiatives coming from other states for canal modernisation, the state is unable get the funds,” said Mr M. Buddha Prasad, former Congress minister.
from DC
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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

New ring detected around Saturn

A colossal new ring has been identified around Saturn.

The dusty hoop lies some 13 million km (eight million miles) from the planet, about 50 times more distant than the other rings and in a different plane.

Scientists tell the journal Nature that the tenuous ring is probably made up of debris kicked off Saturn's moon Phoebe by small impacts.

They think this dust then migrates towards the planet where it is picked up by another Saturnian moon, Iapetus.

The discovery would appear to resolve a longstanding mystery in planetary science: why the walnut-shaped Iapetus has a two-tone complexion, with one side of the moon significantly darker than the other.

"It has essentially a head-on collision. The particles smack Iapetus like bugs on a windshield," said Anne Verbiscer from the University of Virginia, US.

Observations of the material coating the dark face of Iapetus indicate it has a similar composition to the surface material on Phoebe.

The scale of the new ring feature is astonishing. Nothing like it has been seen elsewhere in the Solar System.

The more easily visible outlier in Saturn's famous bands of ice and dust is its E-ring, which encompasses the orbit of the moon Enceladus. This circles the planet at a distance of just 240,000km.

The newly identified torus is not only much broader and further out, it is also tilted at an angle of 27 degrees to the plane on which the more traditional rings sit.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

3 US scientists share 2009 Nobel physics prize

Stockholm: Three scientists who created the technology behind digital photography and helped link the world through fibre-optic networks shared the 2009 Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday.
Charles K Kao was cited for his breakthrough involving the transmission of light in fiber optics while Willard S Boyle and George E. Smith were honored for inventing an imaging semiconductor circuit known as the CCD sensor.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said all three have American citizenship. Kao also holds British citizenship while Boyle is also Canadian.
The award's 10 million kronor ($1.4 million) purse will be split between the three with Kao taking half and Boyle and Smith each getting a fourth. The three also receive a diploma and an invitation to the prize ceremonies in Stockholm on Dec. 10.
Kao, who was born in Shanghai and lives in Britain, was cited for his 1966 discovery that showed how to transmit light over long distances via fiber-optic cables, which became the backbone of modern communication networks that carry phone calls and high-speed Internet data around the world.
Boyle and Smith worked together to invent the charged-coupled device, or CCD, the eye of the digital camera found in everything from the cheapest point-and-shoot to high-speed, delicate surgical instruments.
In its citation, the Academy said that Boy and Smith "invented the first successful imaging technology using a digital sensor, a CCD. The CCD technology makes use of the photoelectric effect, as theorized by Albert Einstein and for which he was awarded the 1921 year's Nobel Prize."
The two men, working at Bell Labs in New Jersey, designed an image sensor that could transform light into a large number of image points, or pixels, in a short time.
"It revolutionized photography, as light could now be captured electronically instead of on film," the Academy said.
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Monday, October 5, 2009

Vijayawada, Andhra villages face threat of being submerged

HYDERABAD: The threat of massive flooding loomed large over Andhra Pradesh's Vijayawada city and hundreds of villages in Krishna and Guntur

districts with the water level in the Prakasam barrage across the Krishna river reaching the maximum level on Monday.

The inflows in the barrage have reached a record million cusecs, inundating parts of Vijayawada located on the banks of the river. Thousands of people are still being evacuated from villages downstream known as Lanka villages.

The weakening embankments at few points along the river course have threatened to inundate vast areas and authorities have mobilised 300,000 sand bags to stop flooding.

"There is three to four feet water in some areas along the river in Vijayawada city and this may go up to six to seven feet later in the day. We have already moved out of the area near the river," Suresh Kumar, a resident, said.

Residential areas within about two kilometres of the river bank are most threatened. About 200,000 people from these areas have moved to safer places.

Villages near Vijayawada along the river bank have also come under water. The authorities have evacuated 40,000 people from these villages and shifted them to relief camps. Vijayawada is one of the biggest cities in the state with 1.2 million population.

Irrigation department officials said the barrage faced no threat even if the inflows crossed a million cusecs. The barrage has never faced such massive inflows in its history and officials termed it as the worst floods in Krishna river in 100 years.

Authorities in Vijayawada, a major trading hub, and other parts of Krishna and Guntur districts forcibly evacuated people to prevent a situation like Kurnool, which had been submerged two days ago and is still under four to five feet of water.

Krishna District Collector Piyush Kumar said army, navy and National Disaster Response Force were ready to rescue people with 100 boats and six helicopters in the district.

The vehicular traffic on Hyderabad-Vijayawada highway came to a standstill as the highway was under water at several points.

Though the officials have put the death toll at 37, this could go up as rescue workers are yet to reach several marooned villages in the two worst-hit districts. Hundreds of people have been trapped on roof-tops without food and water for three days, still waiting for help.

The floods triggered by heavy rains last week have inundated 400 villages, affecting a population of over 1.8 million and rendering 400,000 people homeless in five districts. Over 50,000 houses have been damaged while authorities estimate crop losses in over half a million acres.

Over 1,000 personnel of army, navy and Air Force along with national disaster response force continued rescue and relief operations with the help of 16 helicopters and 257 boats. They also continued to drop food and drinking water sachets in marooned areas.
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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Tungabhadra, Handri in spate, Kurnool flooded

HYDERABAD/KURNOOL: What has triggered flooding of Kurnool town, depriving thousands of families shelter and subjecting them to untold suffering.

Tungabhadra which brushes past Kurnool town and Hundri which cuts the town into two are in spate simultaenously besides the local streams that are contributing their mite to the crisis which the administration is finding it difficult to cope up with.

This was in contrast to the floods in July 2007 when only Handri river swelled and inundated the areas adjacent to its course.

The problem started with the officials lifting the gates at Gajuladinne and Sunkesula projects and letting out huge volumes of water into Handri and Tungabhadra respectively.

Handri, which usually is dry and the riverbed always full of kharbooja crop plantation, began flowing wtih a fury no one had noticed earlier after officials released water from Gajuladinee which impounds water from various streams.

The discharge was 2 lakh cusecs at Gajuladinne and as if this were not enough, Vokkera Vagu which joins Handri near Anand Talkies in Kurnool town is also in spate.

As a result, Handri is flowing fiercely and is even threatening to overflow the arterial road bridge near Rajvihar which leads to Nandyal and Gooty. Tungabhdra which has only patches of water here and there is overflwoing after officials relased water from Sunkesula dam.

The discharge at Sunkesula was about 10 lakh cusecs which made the Krishna tributory swell beyond imagination.

The Tungabhadra brushes past Kurnool old town area and as it moves forward Hundri joins the stream outside the town. The Tungabhdara after receiving water from Handri, journeys further and joins the Krishna just ahead of Srisailam reservoir.

According to officials, the Srisailam reservoir which has been receiving inflows of the order of over 13 lakh cusecs has already filled up and the officials were letting down about 10 lakh cusecs.

This was resulting in rebound of water from Tungabhadra and as there was no way the water could course further down, it was resisting onward flow and resulting in inundation of Kurnool town.

The sources said there was no way but to restrict the flow of water downstream at Srisailam as the officials have to keep in mind the possibility of inundation and the huge volume of water after crossing Nagarjuna Sagar will hit Prakasam Barrage, the last project on the Krishna, and inundate Vijayawada and villages in Krishna district.
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Kurnool under siege

Kurnool, the largest town in Rayalaseema that served as the first capital before it was moved to Hyderabad, is under siege. It is a vast water sheet since early on Friday as flood waters from the Tungabhadra and Hundri, which serve as tributaries of the Krishna, breached its banks to spread its fury.

While water levels rose by about four feet during the day, it is expected to rise further to alarmingly high levels through the night. Authorities are apprehensive of it rising to about twelve feet in the low lying areas of the city. With all essential services, including electricity, to the city cut off there are apprehensions about collapse of old, dilapidated buildings and extensive damage including deaths at night.

Kurnool residents speaking on their mobile phones point out they have already moved to the second and third floors of the buildings to keep an all night vigil in many cases without food and water. Disaster management authorities are moving in men of the National Disaster Management Force while the Indian Air Force are to position helicopters to drop food and water besides attending to emergencies by daybreak on Saturday.

Official sources told India Today that the administration is preparing for worst case scenarios in Kurnool. Besides the state administration, teams in the Defence Ministry in Delhi are to keep night watch for all out preparedness to handle all emerging situations by daybreak.

Meanwhile, it is emerging that the disaster in Kurnool could have been mitigated had the Kurnool District Collector Mukesh Kumar Meena not bungled on the flood warnings issued by the Central Water Commission (CWC) twice on Thursday more than 16 hours before the flood waters entered the town. CWC's Kurnool based engineer B. Chandran had clearly warned on the urgent need to evacuate people from low lying areas. He pointed out that the water levels in the Tungabhadra was expected to rise and Kurnool could be worse off than it was in 1992 when the floods left a huge trail of deaths and destruction. Unfortunately, the administration did precious little to alert the people leave alone take any steps to evacuate them to safer places. Consequently, thousands of residents are being forced to stay up all night on Black Friday. Their hope is rescue and relief will reach them on Saturday.

india today
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Yahoo to shut down Xoopit for Gmail users

Yahoo on Friday noted to users of Xoopit that the Gmail integration of its service would soon be disintegrated.

Xoopit, which aggregates media files from users' Gmail accounts, was acquired by Google rival Yahoo in late July and has since been integrated into the company's own Web mail service.

Users of Xoopit will have until November 13 to grab any media from Yahoo's servers, after which it will no longer be available. Doing this is necessary only for users who have deleted the source file from their Gmail account, as Xoopit simply copies over the media, leaving the version on Google's servers intact. Yahoo will continue to hold on to all users' data until next February to comply with its 90-day data retention policy, it said.

In Yahoo's note, the company says one of the main reasons for the shutdown of Gmail compatibility is to enable the team to focus on making a better version of its product for Yahoo Mail, which only began working with the Xoopit service in December. It also said that discontinuing resources into tools designed to improve competing Web mail providers would leave Gmail users with a "lousy experience."

Along with access to Xoopit, Yahoo is also discontinuing its Firefox add-on and Facebook integration for Gmail.

The browser add-on has let users view attachments and other media in their Gmail accounts as a file explorer--functionality that has since been replaced by some of Google's Gmail Labs add-ons. Users with the browser add-on installed could also connect with Facebook to see and view status updates from within Gmail, a feature that will also become unavailable.
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Researchers tally real-life mileage for plug-in cars

If you're wondering how the familiar term "gas mileage" translates to a car that runs partially on electric batteries, you're not alone.

Industry group SAE International plans to recommend that the Environmental Protection Agency use "electricity per mile" in addition to the familiar miles-per-gallon rating for plug-in electric vehicles, according to a member of the SAE committee tasked with the job. The EPA is working on mileage ratings for plug-ins, which are poised to enter the market, and reviewing its rules for displaying fuel economy on car stickers.

Because efficiency for gas-electric hybrids is far more tricky than gasoline-only vehicles, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory last Friday said it has developed a method researchers say accurately reflects real-world mileage of plug-ins hybrids, which can vary greatly with driver behavior.
Government agencies and automakers have been studying the question of mileage for gas-electric vehicles for years. But the issue rushed to the forefront in August when General Motors said that the Chevy Volt will get 230 miles per gallon in the city and "triple-digit" combined city and highway mileage driving based on a draft of the EPA's methodology. The EPA has not verified GM's claims as the tests have not been completed.

Within six months, a SAE committee plans to recommend to the EPA that plug-ins come with fuel-economy stickers with both miles per gallon and electricity per mile, said Jeff Gonder, a research engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and a member of the committee.

"There are two different fuels that are being used so you need to report what the usage is for those two fuels," said Gonder. "If you combine them into one (number) artificially, you can't derive a final output like annual costs" or annual greenhouse gas emissions from a car.

Having a rating for electricity per mile allows a consumer to figure out how much it costs to run a car per mile by using the local per-kilowatt-hour electricity cost, he added.

In addition to cost to mile, there are a number of other proposals to measure fuel efficiency for electric cars. They include an electric car's range--a big limitation of all-electric vehicles--or miles per gallon equivalent based on the energy in liquid fuels and batteries.

Recalibrating your dynamometer
With multiple alternatives and a lot at stake, it's unlikely that the question over how to represent fuel efficiency on a sticker will be resolved quickly. Sedans such as the Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, and plug-in Toyota Prius are scheduled for release over the next two years.

But labels aren't the only problems that new auto technologies introduce. The automated tests used to measure fuel economy before vehicles are sold need to be adjusted as well, according to NREL researchers.

That's particularly important with plug-in electric hybrids--essentially the same type of vehicle as today's hybrids with bigger batteries--because actual mileage will vary significantly based on driving conditions and how often a car is recharged.

Plug-in hybrids run almost exclusively on battery power for the first 20 or 40 miles, with the battery working with the gasoline engine after that. Driving mainly off the battery will be cheaper in part because electric motors are relatively efficient. So the fuel economy for a 40-mile drive will be substantially better than when a person drives 200 miles in a plug-in hybrid, since the bulk of the driving will be fueled by the gasoline engine, Gonder explained.

To come up with a mileage rating today, cars run a course on a machine called a dynamometer--essentially a treadmill fitted for cars and trucks--and the results are converted into miles per gallon. The current conversions don't work well because plug-ins operate in two modes--the first 20 or so miles when the car runs mainly on batteries and then in the "charge sustaining" mode for longer rides, said Gonder.

To address that issue, NREL researchers devised a formula to convert plug-in hybrid car performance on dynamometers to reflect actual driving performance, he said.

"We're trying to set appropriate expectations for what vehicles will get over a long period of time," said Gonder. "We're trying to predict the average (mileage) based on how often they drive between recharging."

Researchers found that the expected results matched actual mileage of a fleet of Toyota Priuses converted to be plug-ins operated by Idaho National Laboratory. Gonder said the methodology needs to be tested with other cars, but should be able to be adjusted for different types of plug-in vehicles, including the range-extended Chevy Volt.

The data also made clear that the cost of operating a plug-in hybrid will vary significantly based on driving style and frequency of charging.

The annual fuel cost of Idaho National Labs' plug-in Priuses ranged from $987 a year--in a case of aggressive driver and never recharging from an outlet--to $478 per year with the driver charging about every 30 miles and seeking to maximize fuel economy. The average came to $789 per year with daily charging, from the equivalent of 55 mile per gallon mileage.
Martin LaMonica
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Vaccinate kids to prevent swine flu

The optimal way to control swine flu, the H1N1 virus that has emerged as a current global threat, is to vaccinate children, says David

Vaccination (Getty Images)
Kimberlin, a medical expert.

The reason behind making children the highest priority comes from decades of experience with flu transmission, prevention strategies, infection monitoring and many other factors. Additionally, children younger than five are at higher risk of complications from influenza.

Kimberlin, co-director of the division of paediatric infectious diseases, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is one of four US physicians serving on the Federal Safety Monitoring Committee reviewing clinical trials of H1N1 vaccines.

The committee is a part of the Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

"Like a bull's-eye, the middle of the target is what you vaccinate so you don't see infections in the concentric rings around the centre," Kimberlin says. "The centre of the protection bull's-eye should be children."
Times of india
The US' prospects for developing and distributing a safe and effective vaccine to prevent infection with the current H1N1 virus are excellent, Kimberlin says, according to an UAB release.

Once the vaccine is available this month, children aged six months and older, teenagers and young adults through age 24, will be among the first groups targeted by the Centres for Disease Control Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices to receive the shots.

Pregnant women, adults who have high-risk medical conditions and health-care workers who are direct care providers are among the others who will be given the earliest shots, says Kimberlin.
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