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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Live-in relationships: Happily unmarried

Cupid struck Bapu and Manish 17 years ago and for the past 12 years, they have been living together, happily unmarried.

The couple who have been together since school began their journey living-in from small town Jodhpur.

Manish Hariprasad, Media Professional says, "In Rajasthan, when you are coming from a pre-dominantly madu world it does become a little bit of problem. I mean, I've had an orthodox family, she's had an orthodox family and yes there were problems initially. I mean not just the family, we used to live together in Jodhpur in my house and there were enough number of times police came in and asked us OK, who is this girl? What are you guys doing together? Is she your wife? I mean beyond a wife, even a fiancee or a girlfriend is not understood in those places. So yes it did become more difficult. There were enough number of times nieghbours actually complained to the Police..."

"See I think the kind of background we come from, problems occurred. People are not as open to the kind of thing that you have started living in together. There is always insecurity from your side of the family. What if it doesn't work out? What if you leave each other?", says Bapu Deedwania, a journalist by profession.

Problems that Manish and Bapu have learnt to work around.

Manish moved to Mumbai to work in advertising Bapu followed 5 years later. Life in Mumbai has been easier.

So we ask them what they think of the Supreme Court's recent endorsement of live-in relationships.

"I wish they would have said it 17 years ago, some of the problems that we faced during that live-in period would not have occurred, it's fine now. In fact the only few times I have thought about marriage has been when I have not been able to put her name in the insurance policy, in medi-claim. When I have not been able to put her as a nominee in all those forms that require the so called relationship status. Which is which is.. So yes those are the times when you think if the Supreme Court actually did away with the whole dependency on marriage.", says Manish.

"Or may be like have a separate column married, single, live-in.", Bapu adds.

"Or partners but yeah it is a problem.", says Manish

For Manish and Bapu it was the stamp of cupid that mattered. The Supreme Court's endorsement gives cupid the stamp of authority but while the moral brigade might get agitated the love brigade is just not complaining.

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Explosive in aircraft: Prime suspect in custody, say police

In a breakthrough in the case of planting of crude explosive material in the cargo-hold of a Kingfisher aircraft here last week, police on Sunday said it has taken into custody the prime suspect in the case.

The man, a former contract employee at the airport, is suspected to have planted the explosive in the aircraft, police said but discounted any terror link in the incident.

The investigators, however, declined to disclose the man's name and said that it would be revealed after completing all formalities.

He was taken into custody two days ago and is being interrogated, sources said.

"There are strong reasons to believe that he is the key person behind the incident," a senior police official told PTI without elaborating further.

Some crude explosive material wrapped in paper was found in the cargo-hold of a Kingfisher flight which arrived here from Bangalore last Sunday.

A police team led by city Commissioner M R Ajith Kumar has been probing the case here and in Bangalore and several persons have been questioned in connection with the case.
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No Tendulkar in T20 WC good for others: Afridi

Karachi: Pakistan's Twenty20 captain Shahid Afridi has joined the list of advocates supporting Sachin Tendulkar's inclusion in India's Twenty20 World Cup squad, saying the champion batsman's absence from the next month's event is a blessing in disguise for other teams.

Tendulkar, who quit the format along with Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid in 2007, has been in red hot form in the IPL and it forced former as well as present cricketers, including Afridi to ask the right-hander to change his decision and play in the upcoming T20 World Cup in the West Indies.

"The way he has blossomed in the last few years, he is only getting better and better as a batsman. If he is not playing for India in the Twenty20 World Cup, it is certainly a big advantage for other teams," Afridi said.

"If Tendulkar had played in this World Cup, I am sure he would made big impact for India," he added.

Notwithstanding the hue and cry, Tendulkar has recently ruled out the possibility of returning to Twenty20 International cricket.

However, Afridi feels with age Tendulkar is getting better day by day and could be a destructive force in T20 matches.

"With every match he seems to be growing as a batsman and getting better. He is playing like a teenager. There is no sign of age affecting his game at all," the Pakistani all-rounder said.

"The biggest thing that he still enjoys playing the sport and he is hunger for runs has not died at all," he said.

"I think even in T20 cricket you need to bat properly and at times even playing out 20 overs is a big challenge for a team. You need to play orthodox cricket," Afridi noted.

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Modi's questioning big step forward in riots probe: SIT chief

Gandhinagar: The questioning of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in connection with the Gulbarg riots post-Godhra is a "very big step forward" in trying to understand and unravel the mysteries in the case and the SIT will submit its report to the Supreme Court on or before April 30, its head RK Raghavan said on Sunday.

Declining to go into details of the questioning of 59-year-old Modi, he maintained that former CBI DIG A K Malhotra, who grilled the Chief Minister in two sessions yesterday, "looks relaxed" and said he has confidence in the officer's abilities.
Raghavan said he was happy that the Special Investigation Team, appointed by the Supreme Court, could get the Chief Minister for questioning and that it will have to appreciate the evidence before making any comments on the issue.

"It is a very big step forward in trying to understand and unravel quite a few mysteries in the matter...I am happy that we were able to get the CM for questioning. I have to appreciate the evidence," Raghavan told a TV news channel.

Raghavan said that the petition of Zakia Jafri, wife of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who was killed along with 68 others in the Gulbarg Housing Society riots in 2002, was the SIT's "bible" and questions broadly related to it. I have greatest concern for the victims and I have never failed to take my eye away from justice. I am conscious of the sacred trust given by the Supreme Court," the SIT chief said.

Raghavan said broadly, he and Malhotra had discussed the questions to be put to Modi but he has not yet discussed the answers with him. "He (Malhotra) looks fresh and relaxed. I have not spoken to him (about the answers)."

Asked why he did not question Modi, Raghavan said as the chief of SIT, he does not meet the witnesses or the accused and it is a job done by the investigating officer or the inquiry officer.

"It is a good old practice that is followed by CBI...the director never does the examination. I have brought in this practice here. It’s a fair and healthy practice," he said.

Asked whether the SIT will call Modi again for questioning if needed, he said, "I have to look at the evidence that has been collected. I have to look at what he had told Malhotra."
He said the SIT has the right to recall if there were "gaps" and that applied to any witness. "I broadly knew what the questions were going to be. Actually we sat down, had a session. We broadly agreed on what we should quiz him on."

Replying to a question, he said he will not go into details of the questioning. "I respect the functional authority of the investigating officer. I cannot say do this or do that," the SIT chief said.

Asked if the questioning went beyond Gulbarg riots, he said he would not like to go into details. "Our bible is Zakia's petition."

On whether 62 questions were put to Modi, he said it seems an "imaginary figure".

"Let him (Malhotra) give his report. I won't breathe down his neck. The fact that I have brought in Malhotra shows I have tremendous respect for him."

To a question about the delay in SIT doing its job and allegations of bias, Raghavan said one must understand that he had kept away all Gujarat officers (in Modi questioning).

"They (the SIT officers) have done a good job. Let the court give its verdict," he said.

Asked when the SIT report would be submitted to the apex court, Raghavan said, "I am reasonably confident that I will meet the deadline of April 30...we will submit it on or before April 30."

Asked whether the Chief Minister fully cooperated in the questioning, Raghavan said, "The fact that he came we are happy. There has been an active dialogue. "Malhotra seems satisfied. I suppose it was a satisfactory interaction between the Chief Minister and Malhotra," he said.

On whether he was under any political pressure, Raghavan said, "Do I look like a man under pressure. I am relaxed. (I was under) absolutely no pressure. I am doing my duty."

He also declined comment on a question whether an FIR will be registered on the basis of questioning of the Chief Minister on Zakia's petition.

from in.com
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Saturday, March 27, 2010

New species in man's evolutionary tree found

A team of scientists has successfully sequenced mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of a hominin who had lived in the Altai Mountain region of Siberia, Russia. This hominin had shared a common ancestor with anatomically modern humans and Neanderthals about 1 million years ago. Further investigation reveals that the hominin lived close in time and space with both Neanderthals and modern humans.

The findings were based on a study of mitochondrial DNA that was extracted and sequenced from the fifth digit of the hominin that was found in 2008 in a Denisova Cave in the Altai Mountains.

The study is published today (March 25) in Nature journal.

Double the difference

mtDNA results show that the Denisova Cave individual differed from modern humans much more than what is seen between Neanderthals and modern humans. To be precise, the Denisova individual has about twice the number of mtDNA differences with modern humans compared with that of the Neanderthal and modern human. For the record, Neanderthal mtDNA differs from modern humans at an average 202 necleotide positions; the Denisova individual differs at about 385 positions.

The study is of great significance to fill the gaps in the evolutionary tree of humans. mtDNA data clearly shows that the Denisova hominin lineage branched off well before modern human could branch off from Neanderthal.

Branching off

How does one arrive at this conclusion? The difference in mtDNA positions between Denisova individual and modern humans is far greater compared with Neanderthal and modern human.

On an average, humans diverged from chimpanzee mtDNA about 6 million years ago. Using this data, the most recent date when the Denisova hominin, Neanderthal and modern human shared a common ancestor is about 1 million years ago. Hence, the divergence of Denisova hominin should have happened less than 1 million years ago.

Based on stratigraphy and other indirect evidences, the authors have indicated that the Denisova individual lived between 30,000 and 50,000 years ago. Individuals carrying Neanderthal mtDNA lived at the same time, some 100 km away.

Evidence of Homo floresiensis who lived in Indonesia about 17,000 years ago was shown by an earlier study. The Denisova individual from Siberia appears to have lived about 40,000 years ago. This indicates that several hominin lineages had coexisted for long periods of time.

It is a fact that hominin migration out of Africa happened not in one but several steps. The period when the first hominin — Homo erectus — left Africa was about 1.9 million years ago. Genetic and archaeological data strongly indicate that two other groups of hominin had left Africa after H. erectus.

These groups are the ancestors of Neanderthal that left between 5,00,000 and 3,00,000 years ago, and the second group being the anatomically modern humans that left about 50,000 years ago.

The group that left Africa between 5,00,000 and 3,00,000 years ago is presumed to be the Homo heidelbergensis or Homo rhodesiensis.

Hostile conditions

Several fossil remains of Neanderthal have been recovered and extensive mtDNA sequencing done. However, remains of other hominins have been scarce. That is because the environment in the equatorial and tropical regions is not conducive for long-term preservation of DNA in bones, teeth and other remains.

The recent extraction of both mtDNA and nuclear DNA from hair samples of a male palaeo-Eskimo found in permafrost deposits in Greenland raises the possibility of hair becoming a more resilient source to preserve DNA.

Whether they will be capable of preserving the DNA in hostile environments remains to be seen.

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Same sex marriage in public in Manipur

Sandip Soibam (left) and Nikhil Hidangmayum exchange rings during the first ever public gay marriage at an auditorium at Chingamakha in Imphal West District on Thursday.

IMPHAL: For the first time in Manipur, a same sex marriage was held here in public on Thursday.

The parents and other family members of the two youths, however, did not attend it. Sandip Soibam was in a relationship with Nikhil Hidangmayum.

Nikhil runs a beauty parlour and Sandip works in it. Dressed as bride, Nikhil came on the stage amidst cheers.

A large number of transvestites attended the wedding.

The first same sex marriage took place on November 25, 2009, but Wahengbam Dinesh and Karam Rakesh tied the knots in private.

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Major fire in ammunition depot

KOLKATA: A major fire broke out at a shed of one of the largest ammunitions depot of the Army at Panagarh in West Bengal's Bardhaman district in the early hours of Friday.

However, there was no report of any casualty.

According to defence sources, nearly 200 tonnes of small arms, explosives and shells were destroyed in the fire.

“The fire broke out at shed number 16 of the storehouse at 1.15 a.m. A crisis management team rushed to the site within five minutes and the fire-fighting machinery of the Army was immediately activated to douse the fire,” Wing Commander Mahesh Upasani of the Eastern Command told The Hindu.

Mr. Upasani added that the crisis management team's initial target was to arrest the spread of fire since the storehouse contained a large quantity of explosives and even some mortar shells.

“The fire was brought under control around 3.30 a.m. The crisis management team has shown amazing dexterity in controlling the situation,” he said.

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Cross-voting helps Congress in Assam

Guwahati: The ruling Congress on Friday won both Rajya Sabha seats from Assam with seven Opposition legislators, four of them from the Bharatiya Janata Party, cross-voting in defiance of a whip. These members, including one from the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and two from the All-India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), cast their votes in favour of the Congress' second choice candidate, Sivius Condpan.

All these seven MLAs have immediately been suspended from their parties.

The Congress' first choice candidate, Nanzeen Faruque, secured 43 votes and Mr. Condpan, a sitting Rajya member, 42. The Opposition-backed independent, Jayanta Barua, got 40. One vote was rejected.

Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma himself was behind the wheel, driving BJP legislators Rumi Nath, elected from the Borkhola constituency, Kartiksena Sinha (Patharkandi) and Abhijit Hazarika (Rangapara) from a posh hotel along the Guwahati-Shillong Road to the Assembly premises.

The other BJP legislator, Sambhu Sing Mallah (Ratabari) also told journalists that he had voted for the Congress.

The AGP already suspended its MLA from Rupohiat, Abdul Aziz, for openly declaring that he would vote for the ruling party.

The AIUDF suspended Rasul Haque and Anwarul Haque for defying the party whip.

BJP general secretary Ravi Shankar Prasad, who arrived here as the party's central observer, told journalists that it would formally move Speaker Tanka Bahadur Rai for disqualification of the four MLAs.

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India writing to U.S. Justice Department

NEW DELHI: India will write to the U.S. Department of Justice next week, making out the case for direct access to David Coleman Headley, Pakistani-origin American citizen, who has pleaded guilty to planning the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

A formal communication from the Home Ministry would be routed through official channels to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Top sources in the Ministry said on Friday that the government would wait for the Justice Department's response before sending a team of legal experts and police officials to question Headley, now in federal custody in Chicago.

The team is likely to include National Investigation Agency (NIA) sleuths, legal experts and police officials.

According to the plea agreement, Headley has agreed, when directed by the U.S. Attorney's office, to fully and truthfully testify in any foreign judicial proceedings held in the U.S. by way of deposition, videoconferencing or letters rogatory.

The sources said the NIA, which registered a First Information Report, against Headley in November last, was working on questions to quiz him.

Plenty of evidence

“A lot of evidence of how Headley operated in India during his trips has been gathered by the investigators. We have got evidence of how he opened his e-mail accounts and how he operated them. All this evidence has been gathered painstakingly by the investigators. This can throw more light on several crucial aspects of Headley's operations and his training at Lashkar camps in Pakistan,” the sources said.

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No BJP leader tried to stop Babri demolition: police officer

Rae Bareli: The demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992 took place in the presence of a clutch of top Bharatiya Janata Party and Sangh Parivar leaders, none of whom, Lal Krishna Advani included, made an attempt to stop the vandals, said Anju Gupta, senior police officer and the prosecution's star witness in the Ayodhya demolition criminal case on Friday.

Ms. Gupta, who was Mr. Advani's personal security officer (PSO) at the time, told the Chief Judicial Magistrate's court in Rae Bareli that the BJP leader gave a “joshila” (fiery) speech from the dais, repeating over and over that “mandir yahin banayenge ( the temple will be built right here) and this electrified the kar sevaks.

Ms. Gupta said she was present on the dais for a substantial part of the six hours it took to raze the “disputed structure.” Through this time not once did she see Mr. Advani – or the other leaders present on the makeshift Ramkatha Kunj Manch – order the kar sevaks to halt the demolition. Instead, they made merry, hugged each other as each dome of the 16th century monument fell, and distributed sweets.

The leaders on the manch sang bhajans, made inflammatory speeches, raised provocative slogans and egged the kar sevaks into staying on to finish the work. “Vahan par jashan ka mahoul tha” (the mood was celebratory), she said.

Her requests to the police control room for “force reinforcement” were met with indifference, she said.

Vantage view

Ms. Gupta's testimony is significant for two reasons. Though there were more than a dozen senior government officials present in the town on that day, she alone has come forward to narrate the events leading up to the demolition. Secondly, as Mr. Advani's PSO, she had a vantage view of both the structure as it was being demolished and the dais where over a dozen BJP, VHP and Bajrang Dal leaders had gathered. Among them were Mr. Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Vinay Katiyar, Uma Bharti, Ashok Singhal, Sadhvi Rithambhara, the former Director General of U.P. police, S.C. Dixit, and Acharya Dharmendra.

Ms. Gupta said she could only hear a part of Mr. Advani's speech as she had to leave the dais to escort the fleet of cars accompanying Mr. Advani.

On her way back to the dais, around 11.50 am-noon, she said she spotted kar sevaks, armed with a variety of implements, including pulleys and ropes, climbing atop the domes. Many of them fell to the ground. When she reached the stage, Mr. Advani asked her to describe the situation at the demolition site. On hearing that kar sevaks were falling off the domes, he was very worried, and insisted on going to the spot. However, later he relented and asked her to escort Ms. Bharti to the demolition site, she said.

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Andrew Symonds sledged me: Yusuf Pathan

Ahmedabad: After blasting 73 runs off 34 balls against Deccan Chargers, Yusuf Pathan said that Andrew Symonds had sledged him when he went to bat and that inspired him to perform well.

"When somebody from the opposition involves in sledging you are more pumped up to do well. When I went in to bat, Symonds said a few words to me and I was determined to perform with the bat today," Pathan said after Rajasthan Royals defeated Deccan Chargers by eight wickets for their third straight win.

Yusuf said he was happy to have got the runs in front of his parents.

"My parents will be very happy. They have been coming for the last two games and I am happy that I got the runs today. The ball was coming nicely on to the bat. It feels good when you hit the ball well. The support from the crowd kept me going."

Yusuf said he hopes to carry the same form in the upcoming World Twenty20 in the West Indies.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

US non-committal on Pak wish list

Washington: Pakistan is going into a strategic dialogue with the US with a long wish list, including an India-type civil nuclear deal and a direct Washington role in reviving the peace process with New Delhi. But the US is non-committal.

Though the State Department declined to acknowledge that Pakistan had made the demands in a 56-page document sent to the US ahead of Wednesday's talks, the Wall Street Journal citing unnamed American officials suggested it was an implicit offer to crack down in return on the Afghan Taliban.

"As far as I know, we have not been talking to Pakistan about a civilian nuclear deal. If Pakistan brings it up during the course of the meetings in the next two days, we'll be happy to listen," spokesman Philip J. Crowley told reporters Tuesday.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who will be co-chairing the dialogue with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, too told the Pakistani media that Islamabad may raise the nuclear deal issue, but she would not "prejudge or preempt" the outcome.
"I'm sure that that's going to be raised and we're going to be considering it, but I can't prejudge or pre-empt what the outcome of our discussions will be, except to say that this Strategic Dialogue is at the highest level we've ever had between our two countries," she said in an interview with Pakistan's Express TV Group.

She also seemed to rule out a direct US role in Pakistan's water dispute with India or other problems with its South Asian neighbour.

"Well, usually, where there is an agreement, as there is between India and Pakistan on water, with mediation techniques, arbitration built in, it would seem sensible to look to what already exists to try to resolve any of the bilateral problems between India and Pakistan," Clinton told Dunya TV.

"But in the course of the strategic dialogue, what we want to do is focus on the problem. If the problem is water or agriculture or energy, without looking externally, as we do in our other strategic dialogues.

"And our strategic dialogue with Pakistan... is what we want to build and really put on a strong footing for the future," she said.

However, the primary focus of the talks is expected to be security issues and the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan with Defence Secretary Robert M. Gates, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm Mike Mullen, Pakistani army chief Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and Lt Gen Shuja Pasha, head of Pakistan's spy agency joining the talks.

Qureshi, who was on Capitol Hill Tuesday, meeting with members of Congress in advance of Wednesday's talks, indicated as much. He expected the day-long series of meetings to result in a fundamental change in the US-Pakistani relationship, and that could include a further expansion of military relations.
Pakistan's civilian government and the military had a "very clear plan" for what needed to be done, said Qureshi. "We articulated that collectively ... what the Pakistani priorities are."

But the Pentagon played down the chance of any big announcement of fresh aid at the end of the talks, saying the dialogue would focus on the bolstering long-term bilateral ties.

"I would not look to this, at the end of it, for there to be some great announcement about any hard items that are being produced as a result of the conversations," Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters. "This is a dialogue designed to produce a better long-term strategic relationship ... this is not simply about asking and receiving items."
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Modi responds to SIT summons

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has responded to the Special Investigation Team (SIT) summons by saying he is ready to make an appearance provided the team's investigators are convinced of the propriety of interrogating him on March 27 when an appeal on their remit is due to be heard by the Supreme Court on April 5.

Despite the Gujarat Chief Minister's denial, his lawyer confirmed to The Hindu both the existence of the summons and the fact that Mr. Modi had sent in his reply on Monday.

On Monday, Mr. Modi decried what he said were false reports about the Special Investigation Team asking him to appear before it. But his lawyer, Mahesh Jethmalani, confirmed to The Hindu on Tuesday both the existence of the summons and the fact that the Gujarat Chief Minister had sent in his reply the day before.

In his response, Mr. Modi drew attention to a recent petition filed on behalf of BJP MLA Kalu Bhai Maliwad questioning the legality of the SIT's probe against 63 persons mentioned in a complaint by Zakia Jaffrey. With the Supreme Court set to hear the Maliwad plea on April 5, the Chief Minister thought it best to wait till after that date. But if the SIT feels there is no problem in proceeding with its work, said Mr. Jethmalani, the Chief Minister was prepared to appear before it on March 27 or any other mutually acceptable date.

On their part, SIT sources told The Hindu that since the Supreme Court had only admitted Mr. Maliwad's petition but not granted a stay, the team's probe would continue unhindered. They said they hoped Mr. Modi would appear before the SIT on March 27, the date indicated in their summons. The Hindu, which broke the news of the summons, had earlier incorrectly reported the date for Mr. Modi's scheduled appearance as March 21.

The SIT was set up by the Supreme Court to ensure proper prosecution of cases stemming from the 2002 communal violence in Gujarat in which more than 1500 people, most of them Muslim, were killed. In addition to these cases, the SIT was tasked with examining the complaint filed by Ms. Jaffrey and the Citizens for Justice and Peace alleging the complicity of Mr. Modi and senior politicians and officials in the pogrom.

Zakia Jaffrey is the widow of the former Congress Member of Parliament, Ehsan Jaffrey, who was killed by a mob along with 68 other people at the Gulberg housing society in Ahmedabad on February 28, 2002. The trial in that case, which the SIT has probed independently of Ms. Jaffrey's separate complaint against Mr. Modi, is currently on hold because of the resignation of the special prosecutor and his assistant. Both have alleged bias on the part of the trial judge and have also accused the SIT of not properly coordinating their efforts with them.

The Supreme Court asked the SIT to report back to it on Ms. Jaffrey's complaint by April 30. Many of those named by her have already been questioned by its investigators. Mr. Modi is one of the last to be summoned.

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Blogger Buzz: Blogger integrates with Amazon Associates

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Three convicted in Satyendra Dubey murder case

NEW DELHI: Over six years after the murder of NHAI whistleblower Satyendra Kumar Dubey who exposed corruption in the golden quadrilateral project in Bihar, a court today convicted three accused in the case. The special CBI court in Patna has convicted Mantu Kumar, Udai Kumar and Pinku Ravidas in the murder case of Dubey, a young engineer working in the Golden Quadrilateral Project of National Highway Authority of India, CBI spokesperson said in a statement, adding the quantum of sentence will be pronounced on March 27.
The young IIT-Kanpur alumni, who had blown the lid off various instances of large-scale flouting of rules in the Golden Quadrilateral Project was shot dead in the early hours of November 27, 2003 in front of Circuit House, Gaya, Bihar. His murder sparked protests across the country amidst calls for a legislation to protect whistleblowers who expose corruption. The CBI, which had taken over the investigation of the case from Bihar police on December 14, 2003 had filed a chargesheet in the case on September 3, 2004. Mantu was convicted under sections for murder, voluntary causing hurt in committing robbery and the Arms Act for possessing unlicensed weapon, the statement said. The other two accused persons were convicted for murder committed in furtherance of common intention and for voluntary causing hurt in committing robbery, it said. "During the investigation, CBI arrested four persons, namely Mantu, Udai, Pinku and Sharvan Kumar, all residents of Katari village in Gaya, Bihar. "They had all assembled near Circuit House, Gaya on the fateful intervening night of November 26/27, 2003. Around 3.30 AM on November 27, when Dubey was passing in front of Circuit House, Gaya in a cycle-rickshaw, the accused persons robbed him of his belongings and during the ensuing scuffle, Mantu shot him dead with a .315 country-made weapon," the statement said. The CBI said a briefcase containing documents belonging to Dubey including his Identity Card were recovered from an abandoned well and also the country-made pistol were recovered during investigation. The agency said Sharvan gave full and voluntary disclosure about the incident and was made an approver.
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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Trouble for ND Tiwari over paternity suit

Did ND Tiwari father a son, now 31 years old? The Delhi High Court could decide.

In a huge setback for Tiwari, the former Governor of Andhra Pradesh, the Delhi High Court has ruled that it will hear a paternity suit against him filed by Rohit Shekhar. Speaking to NDTV, Shekhar shared, "I am asking for a simple DNA test and a public apology for what he has done. My case should be a deterrent for people like Tiwari who think they can do anything and get away with it."

Late last year, another judge of the Delhi High Court had said the case could not be heard in Delhi and should be filed in Hyderabad since Tiwari was the Andhra Pradesh Governor at the time.

In December, though, Tiwari had to resign as Andhra Governor after an alleged sex scandal - TV channels in Andhra ran footage that they said showed Tiwari in bed with three young women. In his resignation letter, Tiwari said he was quitting because of "poor health".

Tiwari has been fighting the paternity case vehemently, describing it as an attempt to malign him. He has argued that if Shekhar wanted to prove Tiwari is his biological father, he should have filed his case when he turned 18.

Shekhar says "I am not asking for a voting right or the right to go have a beer. I am asking for a paternity right. This is the first case of its kind...there is no precedence for this. I have the right to know who my father is. I have suffered from insomnia and depression since I was 20 - I have medical records to prove my stress."

The case will next be heard by the High Court on April 7.
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Headley to plead guilty on Thursday

In a new twist, Pakistani-American David Headley, a terror suspect in the Mumbai attacks, will plead guilty before a US court on Thursday, a move that may get him a lighter sentence than the maximum death penalty.

49-year-old Headley, who was arrested by the FBI in October last year, will move a plea bargain under which a lighter sentence can be recommended on his pleading guilty.

Headley, an LeT operative who had pleaded not guilty to the 12-count superseding indictment filed against him on January 14, has moved for a "change of plea" which will be heard by US District Judge Harry Leinenweber tomorrow.

He had got away with a lesser sentence after he was arrested in 1998 for smuggling heroin into the US from Pakistan as he cooperated with the investigation in the case.

He was sentenced to less than two years in prison and thereafter went to Pakistan to conduct undercover surveillance operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Headley, a Chicago resident, faces six counts of conspiracy involving bombing public places in India, murdering and maiming persons in India and providing material support to foreign terrorist plots and LeT; and six counts of aiding and abetting the murder of US citizens in India. He is also charged with plotting attacks against a Danish newspaper which published a cartoon of Prophet Mohammad.

Headley's plea bargain is being seen as a move to get a lighter sentence and escape death penalty.

"Yes, he (Headley) will plead guilty," John Theis, Headley's lawyer, told PTI when asked if his client is changing his not-guilty plea.

He, however, declined to comment on whether Headley would be pleading guilty to all or some of the charges against him.

Theis refused to give any details when asked whether a plea deal has been worked out for Headley, who has been "cooperating in the ongoing investigation".

The FBI had slapped charges on Headley, son of a Pakistani diplomat and a Philadelphia socialite, and his friend from a Pakistani military school Tahawwur Rana, a Canadian national, with providing material support to the Mumbai attacks as well as to LeT.

Rana has pleaded not guilty to the charges claiming that he was duped by Headley. He was denied bail by the court and hearing for his case has been set for March 29.

Headley conducted extensive surveillance of targets in Mumbai between September 2006 and July 2008, taking photographs and making videotapes of various potential targets, including those attacked during the November 2008 strikes that killed 166 people, including six Americans.

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Kallis rises to the Royal Challenge

Kallis rises to the Royal Challenge
A JOB WELL DONE:Jacques Kallis scored an unbeaten 89 to guide Royal Challengers to an eight-wicket victory over Kings XI Punjab.

BANGALORE: Jacques Kallis's weather-beaten shoulders held aloft Royal Challengers Bangalore's hopes in a winning cause against Kings XI Punjab in their DLF Indian Premier League match at the Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Tuesday.

The South African's unbeaten 89 (57b, 8x4, 5x6) helped RCB register an emphatic eight-wicket victory with seven balls to spare.

Replying to Kings XI's 203 for three, RCB's breathless chase finished fruitfully at 204 for two in 18.5 overs with Kallis being the corner-stone.

The young duo of Manish Pandey (38) and Robin Uthappa (51, 20b, 4x4, 4x6) played blistering support.

Racy start

The chase commenced with rapid intent as Kallis and Pandey helped the score gallop to 74 for one in 8.1 overs.

Pandey miscued a hoick against Piyush Chawla but Uthappa hurtled at break-neck speed, pummelling Sreesanth for 25 runs in the 13th over to keep the target within reach.

The final flourish rightly belonged to Kallis as he plundered 22 runs in the 18th over bowled by Bipul Sharma

In the end, the home crowd had an Ugadi festival to remember.

Earlier, Kumar Sangakkara's decision to bat evoked strong support from the contrasting blades of openers Manvinder Bisla and Ravi Bopara.

Bisla (76, 52b, 6x4, 5x6) remained belligerent, while Bopara (77, 49b, 9x4) played second fiddle initially in a 129-run partnership off 14.1 overs.

Kallis was dismissed with clouts over backward point. And with a gambler's instinct, Bisla waded into the rest.

Anil Kumble kept swapping his errant bowlers but found the breakthrough elusive.

Kumble's woes worsened as Bopara drilled two drives into his right wrist and then hoisted a six.

Bopara then slapped Steyn down the ground while a tiring Bisla holed out against Kallis.

Yuvraj did not last long but Bopara cut loose, tucking into Praveen Kumar with zest.

Mahela Jayawardene (26 not out) amplified his aggression while the visitor reached a total that, however, failed to stymie RCB's hopes which soared high along with Kallis.

The scores:

Kings XI Punjab: R. Bopara c Kumble b Praveen 77 (49b, 9x4, 2x6), M.Bisla c Morgan b Kallis 76 (52b, 6x4, 5x6), Yuvraj c Morgan b Steyn 9 (6b, 1x4), M. Jayawardene (not out) 26 (13b, 3x4, 1x6), I. Pathan (not out) 3 (1b); Extras (b-1, lb-1, nb-1, w-9): 12. Total (for three wkts. in 20 overs): 203.

Fall of wickets: 1-129, 2-141, 3-194.

Royal Challengers Bangalore bowling: Praveen 4-0-43-1, Steyn 4-0-36-1,Kallis 4-0-39-1, Kumble 4-0-40-0, Vinay 2-0-19-0, Kohli 2-0-24-0.

Royal Challengers Bangalore: M. Pandey c Pathan b Chawla 38 (25b, 2x4,3x6), J. Kallis (not out) 89 (57b, 8x4, 5x6), R. Uthappa c Kaif b Bipul 51 (20b, 4x4, 4x6), V. Kohli (not out) 16 (12b, 1x4, 1x6); Extras (lb-1, nb-5, w-4): 10. Total (for two wkts. in 18.5 overs): 204.

Fall of wickets: 1-74, 2-143.

Kings XI Punjab bowling: Pathan 3-0-33-0, Sreesanth 3-0-42-0, Abdulla 2.5-0-36-0, Chawla 3-0-20-1, Yuvraj 2-0-18-0, Bipul 3-0-37-1, Bopara 2-0-17-0 .

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Cheer Royal Challengers

Deepika Padukone cheer Royal Challengers during the match between Royal Challengers Bangalores vs Kings XI Punjab in Bangalore.
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cybernet-SlashSupport (CSS) appoints new CEO. Nick Sharma named for top job

Chennai based Technology Operations Management organization, Cybernet-SlashSupport (CSS) has announced the appointment of Sreenidhi Sharma, better known in the industry as Nick Sharma as the new CEO.

Prior to his current responsibilities Nick Sharma, headed the Infrastructure Management Services (IMS) business at Satyam and was an executive member of the organization’s Leadership Council. Mr. Sharma had been instrumental in the conceptualization, incubation and exponential growth of the Infrastructure Services Business at Satyam and was also responsible for building the organization’s competencies in the Infrastructure Management Services around application of information and network technology.
Commenting on the appointment of Nick as the new CEO, Ravi Adisumalli, Investor (SAIF Partners) and Member of Board, said, “In the last few years, CSS has established a strong 100% referenceable customer base. We see a lot of opportunities in the market place and Nick, with his 25 years of leadership experience and specialised expertise, was an ideal choice to lead CSS into the next exciting phase of growth.”
On his joining CSS, Nick Sharma, said, “I am delighted to take on the role of CEO. Our goal is to empower organisations to successfully enhance their business objectives through their IT needs . I am confident that CSS Corp will continue its strong progression thanks to the strength of its people, focused expertise, our alliances and partners.”
Recently, CSS opened a new facility at Taguig City in Manila, Philippines to provide multi lingual customer and technology support for its global customers out of its Philippines facility.
A brief biography on Nick Sharma
In his previous engagement, he headed the Infrastructure Management Services (IMS) business at Satyam and was an executive member of the organization’s Leadership Council providing strategic direction and was accountable for all client relationships, sales and marketing, delivery and operations of the firm in the Infrastructure Services space.
Mr. Sharma has been instrumental in the conceptualization, incubation and exponential growth of the Infrastructure Services Business for the firm. He is also responsible for building Satyam’s competencies in the Infrastructure Management Services around application of information and network technology.
Mr. Sharma joined Satyam from Unisys, USA, where he was the Vice President and Managing Partner for Infrastructure Transformation Services. At Unisys, as a key member of the strategic committee he was integral in establishing the Outsourcing and Infrastructure strategy for the company. He developed various artifacts and published whitepapers in Server Consolidation and Virtualization.

Prior to Unisys, Mr. Sharma was Vice President and General Manager at Nortel Networks in the United States, Canada and Latin America. At Nortel Networks, Mr. Sharma provided leadership and strategic direction to the organization in providing end-to-end solutions to Service Providers, ASPs, ISPs, CLECs and Enterprise customers. He was part of the Executive Leadership Team of the company.
As part of Mr. Sharma’s extensive background in the Professional Services Industry, he served as Vice president at Compaq (a HP company now) for 3 years and Digital (a HP company now), for 15 years in various leadership capacities.
He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering at Osmania University and an MS in Industrial Management from the University of Texas. He is a graduate of Executive Management programs at the HBSP and U21, Harvard Business School and the University of California, Berkeley. He is also an active member of the Boston SIM chapter and presents on various IT forums.
About CSS
CSS, focuses on IT operations management services (Enterprise Technology Support, Software Testing & Development and Remote Infrastructure Management (RIM) Services) aimed at optimizing customer’s IT operations. CSS offers solutions in Enterprise and Consumer Technology Support, Application Life cycle Management and Remote Infrastructure Management Services. CSS has a proven expertise of delivering the entire range of technical and customer support services for both enterprise & consumer technology products and applications across geographies. With a unique “100% referenceable customers” mission statement, the company provides best in class operations support and excellence in customer satisfaction.

Head-quartered in San Jose, CA, CSS currently has people working out of its global operations centers in Chennai (India), Utah (USA), Poland (Europe) and in the Philippines. CSS has over 80 customers including Industry leaders such as Alcatel-Lucent, Sun Microsystems & Blackboard Inc.and other fortune 1000 companies as its long term customers. CSS is a professionally managed, privately held company with investments from SAIF, Goldman Sachs and Sierra Ventures.

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Iran News – Iran warns aggressors of destruction, collapse (Press TV)

Iran warns aggressors of destruction, collapse (Press TV)
Amid threats by Israel and certain powers of a military assault on Iran, a top Iranian commander has warned such countries of “destruction and collapse.”

Iran Hacks Opposition Web Sites, Arrests Cyber Activists (PC World)
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards hacked 29 Web sites affiliated with U.S. espionage networks, an Iranian news agency reported Sunday

Iran arrests 30 over U.S.-linked cyber ring (CIOL)
TEHRAN, IRAN: Iran has arrested 30 people suspected of belonging to a U.S.-linked cyber network gathering information on Iranian nuclear scientists and sending people abroad for training, a news agency reported on Saturday.

Iran funds gas sector (UPI)
TEHRAN, March 15 (UPI) — Iranian banks plan to sink more than $17 billion into developments in the natural gas industry during the next five years, energy executives said.

Iran’s government bans largest pro-reform political party, but it vows to press on (Kitchener – Waterloo Record)
TEHRAN, Iran – President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s hard-line government said Monday it has banned Iran’s largest pro-reform political party in a new strike against an opposition movement that has largely been swept from the streets since last year’s postelection turmoil.

Iran bans leading pro-reform political party (WKBT La Crosse)
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s hard-line government said Monday it has banned Iran’s largest pro-reform political party in a new strike against an opposition movement that has largely been swept from the streets since last…

Iran temporarily releases Iranian-American scholar for … – Washington Examiner
TEHRAN, IRAN — The lawyer of an imprisoned Iranian-American academic says his client was temporarily released Saturday night for Iranian New Year holidays. The lawyer, Masoud Shafiei, told the Associated Press Sunday that Kian Tajbakhsh was healthy …

‘Thugs’ vandalised apartment of Iran’s Karroubi (AFP via Yahoo! News)
The wife of Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi claimed on Monday that a group of “thugs” paid by “corrupt” government officials had vandalised the apartment block where the family lives in Tehran.

Bin Laden son seeks release of relatives in Iran (AFP via Yahoo! News)
One of Osama bin Laden’s sons has called on Tehran to release a number of his relatives said to be detained under house arrest in Iran, according to a recently released letter.

Ahmadinejad opens Iran’s 1st 2-level highway (Press TV)
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has opened the first two-level highway in the country and the Middle East in the central city of Isfahan.

Iran bans leading pro-reform political party (CTV.ca)
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s hard-line government says it has banned Iran’s largest pro-reform political party in a new strike against the country’s opposition movement.

Brazil Economy Drives Lula Bid to Ease Iran Tensions (Update1) (Bloomberg)
March 15 (Bloomberg) — When Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva defends Iran’s right to a nuclear program and makes plans to visit Tehran in May, he is following the path of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez . The similarities only go so far.

Conservatives protest Iran’s Karroubi (UPI)
TEHRAN, March 15 (UPI) — A small group of hard-line supporters, during demonstrations in front of his home, called for Iranian opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi to face justice.

Iranian animation brings epics of Koroglu into limelight again (Payvand Iran News)
The common Iranian and Turkish epics of Koroglu is once again in the spotlight by the production of an animated film in Iran. Over 60 people have been working on “The Legend of Hero Roshan” since 2007 -Tehran Times

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Southeast Asia – Thai stocks cautiously up; Malaysia at 1-week low (The Malaysian Insider)

Thai stocks cautiously up; Malaysia at 1-week low (The Malaysian Insider)
BANGKOK, March 15 Thai stocks ended with slim gains today as banks, expected to benefit from a recovery in the economy, outperformed, but many investors opted to stay away as they waited to see how anti-government protests evolved. The Thai index added 0.2 per cent in a listless session, as thousands of protesters moved to a military base in Bangkok, where Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has …

Thailand: Protests gain momentum as Thai PM refuses to resign (The Christian Science Monitor)
Thailand protests entered their third day Monday, paralyzing parts of Bangkok. Earlier in the day, demonstrators thronged the military base where Thai PM Abhisit Vejjajiva is staying.

Indonesia urges US to reconsider ban on training (AP via Yahoo! News)
Indonesia urged the U.S. on Monday to consider lifting a ban on working with a commando unit accused of human rights abuses a decade ago, saying the country’s military has undergone significant reform.

Thailand: Protests gain momentum as Thai PM refuses to resign (The Christian Science Monitor via Yahoo! News)
Thailand s prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, rejected calls Monday for his resignation as red-shirted opponents sought to expand their street campaign to unseat his government.

Indonesian president understands Obama’s Indonesia visit delay: official (People’s Daily)
Spokesperson of Indonesian president said Monday that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono appreciated the delay of U.S. President Barrack Obama’s visit to Indonesia due to the unsettled discussion on healthcare bill at home, the Detik.com reported. “The president totally understands political situation in the United States which is now focused on the new healthcare bill that President Obama is …

Hun Sen Tells Cambodian Workers Not To Joint Protests In Thailand (Thailandnews.net)
While red-shirt protests are being held in Bangkok aiming to topple the current government of Abhisit Vejjajiva, Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen told all Cambodian workers working in Thailand on Mon…

(AFX UK Focus) 2010-03-15 10:49 SE Asia Stocks-Thai stocks cautiously up; Malaysia at 1-week low (Interactive Investor)
By Viparat Jantraprap

Laos issues warning on travel to Thailand (The Nation – Thailand’s English news)
Vientiane – The Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a travel warning for Thailand, especially to Bangkok where a mass protest was underway this weekend, media reports said Monday.

Thai Parliament Postpones Session Amid Protests (International Herald Tribune)
Protesters continued to occupy the streets in Bangkok, but there were signs that crowds were thinning out.

03/15/2010 17:43 MYANMAR Win Tin s story, 7,000 days in a Burmese prison (AsiaNews.it)
Journalist and co-founder of the National League for Democracy, Win Tin spent 19 years in prison, 12 under isolation. He recently celebrated his 80th birthday. In a book, he says Myanmar is prison. In 1989, he was sentenced to 21 years in prison for anti-government propaganda.

58th anniversary of the Indonesian Army in Jakarta, Indonesia (The Record and Herald News)
Indonesian elite soldiers of Special Forces Commandos (KOPASSUS) sporting their signature red beret march during a parade at a ceremony commemorating the 58th anniversary of the Indonesian Army in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Philippine jailhouse rocks (Malaysian Mirror)
CEBU – From the moment teenager Egan Torrecampo and his fellow prisoners step out of their crowded cells, the maximum-security Philippine jailhouse rocks. Dressed in tangerine jump suits, the roughly 1,500 convicted murderers, rapists and other inmates perform a series of Michael Jackson-inspired dances that have helped boost their morale while also making them Internet sensations. “When we are …

Malaysia ‘detains 93 Myanmar boat people’ (AFP via Yahoo! News)
Malaysian maritime authorities said Sunday they had picked up 93 members of Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority who had drifted aboard a boat for 30 days after fleeing their country.

US-Indonesia military deal uncertain ahead of Obama visit (AFP via Yahoo! News)
The United States said Monday it could not predict when it would resume full military ties with Indonesia, as it laid out the details of President Barack Obama’s trip to Jakarta and Bali next week.

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Lehman plans to end bankruptcy, create new company

NEW YORK: Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc on Monday filed a plan with the U.S. bankruptcy court in Manhattan to wind down its remaining assets and
operations -- and end the largest U.S. bankruptcy case in history.

Under the proposed Chapter 11 plan, a newly created business called LAMCO would manage what is left of Lehman's commercial real estate, mortgages, principal investments, private equity, corporate debt and derivatives assets.

Lehman filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 15, 2008, listing more than $600 billion of assets. It quickly sold its biggest units like its core U.S. brokerage and Neuberger Berman wealth management subsidiary, but hundreds of Lehman employees hired by the bankruptcy estate have been managing the company's long-term investments in real estate and private equity since the bankruptcy.

Lehman's ability to quickly sell its core assets and then propose an end to its bankruptcy about a year and a half after filing the most complicated case ever was seen as a triumph for the U.S. bankruptcy system.

"Lehman went in and there was real concern whether bankruptcy could handle something like that," Jack Williams, a bankruptcy law professor at Georgia State University, said on Monday. "(The detractors) were wrong then and they're wrong now ... It works for small, medium and gargantuan businesses."
Lehman said the reorganization plan, which it has worked on for months, would provide a global and efficient resolution to the company's bankruptcy, by resolving creditor claims and even those claims that various Lehman entities have against each other.

Secured, administrative and priority creditors would be paid in full under the proposed plan, while general unsecured claims, direct intercompany claims and guarantee claims would in part be satisfied by some "pro rata" cash distributions. Stockholders would receive nothing and their shares would be canceled.

"We firmly believe that the proposed plan represents a fair economic resolution for all Lehman creditors and will accelerate recoveries to creditors," Bryan Marsal, Lehman Brothers' chief executive and co-founder of turnaround firm Alvarez & Marsal, said in a statement.
Lehman said the new LAMCO company would provide management services to Lehman, administer its assets and offer long-term employment opportunities for the hundreds of Lehman employees who are currently working to liquidate the former investment bank's estate. For example, it would be expected to continue managing many of the bank's commercial real estate investments, like Archstone-Smith and other properties.

The ability of Lehman to continue to manage assets outside of bankruptcy court would also save money for creditors. Lehman has paid $641.9 million in U.S. professional fees since it filed for bankruptcy, according to a January 2010 report.

David Skeel, a law professor at University of Pennsylvania Law School, said that if Lehman can efficiently resolve its bankruptcy like this, it should raise questions about whether a separate resolution authority is needed to resolve bank failures.

"Considering they were dumped into bankruptcy by the government essentially, it has proceeded better than anyone could have imagined," Skeel said.

"You're not going to have a traditional reorganization in a case with a financial institution. But it can be dealt with effectively."

Lehman did not file a more descriptive disclosure statement, which typically accompanies bankruptcy reorganization plans, because it is seeking more time to include recent findings by the company's bankruptcy examiner in the statement.

The case is In re: Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York, No. 08-13555.
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Saturday, March 13, 2010

IPL 2010:Kolkata Knight Riders Start With A Win

A stunning display of powerful batting from Angelo Matthews and Owais Shah guided Kolkata Knight Riders to a comprehensive 11-run win over defending champions Deccan Chargers in the opening match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) here Friday.
Chasing 162, Deccan Chargers could made 150 for seven in 20 overs after skipper Adam Gilchrist scored 54 of 35 balls. South African Charl Langeveldt picked up two wickets each while Ishant Sharma, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Angelo Matthews, Brad Hodge and Murali Kartik got wicket apiece.
Put in to bat first, Matthews (65 not out) and Shah (58 not out) played a blazing 130-run partnership as Knight Riders recovered from a poor start.
Matthews slammed four sixes and five fours in his 46-ball innings and was also adjudged the Man of the Match. Shah, who played for Delhi Daredevils in the last two editions, gave him good company and hit three sixes and three fours in his 46-ball knock.
Matthews and Shah were on a rampage as 69 runs came up in the last five overs as Knight Riders achieved a competitve target on board.
Gilchrist and V.V.S. Laxman (22) gave the title holders a stable start, but the defending champions paid a heavy price for the poor shot selection of their batsmen.
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At least 43 dead, 100 hurt in Lahore blasts

Image: Soldiers cordon off a street in LahoreLAHORE, Pakistan - A pair of suicide bombers targeting army vehicles detonated explosives within seconds of each other Friday, killing at least 43 people in this eastern city and wounding about 100, police said.

The blasts represented the fourth major attack in Pakistan this week, indicating Islamist militants are stepping up violence after a period of relative calm.

About 10 of those killed were soldiers, said Lahore police chief Parvaiz Rathore.

Several hours later another explosion reportedly hit the city, but there were no immediate details of casualties.

In the earlier attack, the bombers, who were on foot, struck RA Bazaar, a residential and commercial neighborhood where several security agencies have facilities.

Security forces swarmed the area as thick black smoke rose into the sky and bystanders rushed the injured into ambulances.

Video being shot with a mobile phone just after the first explosion showed a large burst of orange flame suddenly erupting in the street, according to GEO TV, which broadcast a short clip of the footage shot by Tabraiz Bukhari.

"Oh my God! Oh my God! Who are these beasts? Oh my God!" Bukhari can be heard shouting after the blast in a mixture of English and Urdu.

Pools of blood, missing limbs
Senior police official Chaudhry Mohammad Shafiq said 43 people were killed and about 100 were injured.

Some of the wounded were missing limbs, lying in pools of blood after the explosions, eyewitness Afzal Awan said.

"I saw smoke rising everywhere," Awan told reporters. "A lot of people were crying."

No group immediately claimed responsibility, but suspicion quickly fell on the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaida.

The militants are believed to have been behind scores of attacks in U.S.-allied Pakistan over the last several years, including a series of strikes that began in October and lasted around three months, killing some 600 people in apparent retaliation for an army offensive along the Afghan border.

In more recent months, the attacks were smaller, fewer and confined to remote regions near Afghanistan.

But on Monday, a suicide car bomber struck a building in Lahore where police interrogated high-value suspects — including militants — killing at least 13 people and wounding dozens. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility.

Also this week, suspected militants attacked the northwest Pakistan offices of World Vision, a U.S.-based Christian aid group, killing six Pakistani employees. A bombing at a small, makeshift movie theater in the main northwest city of Peshawar killed four people.

'Sign of desperation'
Rana Sanaullah Khan, the law minister for Punjab state, where Lahore is located, said the renewed attacks are a "sign of desperation" by the militants.

"We broke their networks. That's why they have not been able to strike for a considerable time," he said.

But the attacks show that the loose network of insurgents angry with Islamabad for its alliance with the U.S. retain the ability to strike throughout Pakistan despite pressure from army offensives and American missile strikes.

Kamran Bokhari, South Asia director at the STRATFOR global intelligence firm, said the blasts were not as sophisticated as others. He warned of a new Taliban push.

"This new wave was expected as they are under pressure to demonstrate that, despite the several hits they have taken, they continue to sustain operational capability," he said.

However analyst Khadim Hussain added: "The militant network is not substantially or reasonably damaged and they are still capable of striking."

The violence also comes amid signs of a Pakistani crackdown on Afghan Taliban and al-Qaida operatives using its soil. Among the militants known to have been arrested is the Afghan Taliban's No. 2 commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

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US condemns Lahore blasts

WASHINGTON: The US has condemned the multiple Lahore bombings, including twin suicide attacks that killed 45 people, saying it stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Pakistan in their aspirations for peace and security.
"The coordinated multiple attacks in Lahore demonstrate the suffering that violent extremist elements are willing to inflict on the people of Pakistan — people who only wish to go about their daily lives in peace," secretary of state Hillary Clinton said in a statement.

"We commend Pakistan for its stalwart fight against extremism and the commitment of Pakistan's security and law enforcement forces to protecting the Pakistani people from violence and intimidation," she said.

The US stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of Pakistan in their aspirations for peace and security, Clinton said, extending America's deepest sympathy to the families and friends of those killed and injured.

Her statement came shortly after Taliban terrorists struck Lahore yesterday, with two near-simultaneous suicide attacks targeting an army patrol killing 45 people, including 10 soldiers, and injuring 100 others.

Hours later, five blasts in quick succession rocked two crowded localities in Punjab's provincial, injuring three persons including a policeman.
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Yusuf's blazing ton in vain as Mumbai clinch thriller

Mumbai: Yusuf Pathan's blitzkrieg century went in vain as Mumbai Indians held their nerve to clinch a thrilling four-run victory over Rajasthan Royals in their opening game on Saturday.

Yusuf lashed eight sixes and nine fours in his 37-ball 100 - the fastest century in the IPL - as Rajasthan clawed back from a precarious 66-4 but an unfortunate run-out ended his spectacular knock. Chasing 213, Rajasthan couldn't finish the game in Zaheer Khan and Lasith Malinga's final overs.

Rajasthan were off to a disastrous start when they lost opener Swapnil Asnodkar in the first over, before Naman Ojha and Graeme Smith (26) followed. Abhishek Jhunjhunwala's dismissal in the 10th over had them in trouble.

However, Yusuf, who has been in terrific form in the domestic season, continued his charge - his first few scoring shots were all sixes. R Sathish, the bowler who Yusuf was particularly severe on, had his revenge when Paras Dogra drove straight back to him and Sathish ran the batsman out.

Dogra impressed with a 29-ball 41 but was brilliantly run out by Malinga, before the Mumbai bowlers dried up the runs to clinch a narrow victory.

Earlier, maiden half-centuries from Ambati Rayudu and Saurabh Tiwary powered Mumbai Indians to a stiff 212-6. It was Mumbai's highest score in all IPL matches.

The match, being billed as the battle between Tendulkar and Royals captain Shane Warne, didn't reach the point as Sachin Tendulkar departed before the spin legend came on to bowl, after the Mumbai captain won the toss and chose to bat.

Sanath Jayasuriya and Tendulkar gave Mumbai a flying start at the Brabourne Stadium, with the veteran Sri Lankan taking the attack to the likes of Shaun Tait and Kamran Khan.

Jayasuriya crashed three fours and a six before Amit Uniyal trapped the Sri Lankan in front of the stumps, before Dmitri Mascarenhas had Tendulkar playing across the line for 17. Mascarenhas added another in the same over when he had Aditya Tare caught by Warne at short cover.

But right-hander Rayudu, who made his debut in the IPL, and Tiwary added 110 runs in a little over 10 overs. The onslaught included Tiwary's special treatment for Shane Warne, who the left-hander dispatched for 29 runs in his three overs.

Rayudu started cautiously but picked up with fluent boundaries all around the ground. He finally fell for 55 which came off only 33 balls while Tiwary's 53 also took up as many deliveries.
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Friday, March 12, 2010

Want my son to bat like Sachin: Brian Lara

When you are talking of Sachin Tendulkar almost any parent whose son plays India's most popular game would say they would hope their son would bat like Sachin Tendulkar and guess what, an ace cricketer like Brian Lara hopes for the same if he had a son!!

"We've sat on many occasions. We've been on tour together, played on the same team on some occasion, against each other, been out in India with him, he's been out in the Caribbean with me. We speak a lot about cricket and about batting techniques. And I think we have a very quiet and discreet appreciation of each others talent. That is something well known around the world. And of course, we do feed on each other. In the past I have picked up many DVDs on Sachin and looked at the way Sachin bats and his composure. And if I had a son, I would definitely want to see him bat like Sachin", says the West Indian cricketer Brian Lara.
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Would be happy if Sachin surpasses my 400 not out: Lara

Mumbai: Congratulating batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar for becoming the first person to hit a double hundred in one day internationals, West Indies cricket great Brian Lara tonight said that he would be happy if the Indian went on to surpass his score of unbeaten 400 in Test cricket.

"The feat is an outstanding achievement. He is the first person to score a double hundred in ODIs. Sachin still has the strength, character, and physical fitness to achieve the feat," Lara told reporters here.

"I'd be happy if Sachin breaks my record of 400 not out in Test cricket," said the stylish southpaw, who scored 400 not out against England in 2004 in Antigua.

Sachin has been playing cricket since the tender age of 16 years. Still he retains the same enthusiasm and energy, he added.

Lara said that Sachin's feat faced a threat from the current generation of cricketers.

"Records are meant to be broken and there are many young talented cricketers who are capable of breaking this record," he said.

Many cricketers like Ponting, Sehwag and Gayle are all capable of breaking the record, he said.

Commenting on Sachin's comparison with cricket legend Sir Don Bradman, Lara said such comparisons were unnecessary.

"Its an unnecessary comparison of players of different eras. One needs to appreciate a player's performance rather that comparing," he added.

Lara said that Sachin had the capability to do well in the 2011 ODI World Cup to be held in the Indian sub-continent.

"If I had a son I would have wanted him to play like Sachin," he added.

Asked whether he would like to make a comeback through the IPL, Lara replied in the negative.

"I haven't played cricket in the last two-three years and I don't intend to play cricket now."

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New Delhi: Fast bowling legend Wasim Akram said Thursday bans on key players for their dismal performance in Australia had made Pakistan`s cricket "a laughing stock" and should be reconsidered.

Akram was commenting on the Pakistan Cricket Board`s (PCB) decision Wednesday to ban former captains Younus Khan and Mohammad Yousuf indefinitely from the national side following this year`s disastrous Australian tour.

In a humiliating whitewash, Pakistan lost all three Tests, all five one-day internationals and the lone Twenty20 international while touring Australia from December to February.

A committee appointed to investigate the fiasco blamed the result on infighting between Mohammad Yousuf and Younus Khan and, among other sanctions, recommended they "should not be part of the national team in any format."
The six-man panel headed by PCB chief operating officer Wasim Bari also banned Shoaib Malik and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan for one year on charges of violating the players` code of conduct.

Other recommendations included a three-million-rupee (35,500-US-dollar) fine for Shahid Afridi, who was caught by TV cameras biting the ball during the Australian tour`s final one-day match, in Perth.

The Akmal brothers, Kamran Akmal and Umar, were also fined and put on a six-month probation for violating discipline on tour.

Akram, who was a member of the committee but did not attend any of its meetings held last month, said the bans on Mohammad Yousuf and Younus Khan were embarrassing.

"These penalties have made Pakistan cricket a laughing stock in the world," Akram told AFP from Mumbai, where he is on a coaching assignment.

"You don`t ban players for such problems. Had I attended any meeting or given recommendations I would have suggested fines, but not bans."

The former left-arm pace bowler said Pakistan cricket could not afford such decisions.

"Pakistan cricket is in turmoil," said Akram. "We are anyway not playing (international) cricket (at home) for security reasons and this will further embarrass our players.

"No board in the world deprives cricketers of their livelihood. If there were discipline problems, it was the duty of the captain Yousuf, coach Intikhab Alam and manager Abdul Raqeeb to deal with them.

"I have been hearing Malik has been a disruptive influence since last year. If that is so, why was he kept in the team in the first place?"

He said the penalties, ahead of Pakistan`s defence of the World Twenty20 title in the West Indies next month, would wreck the national team.

"Pakistan has already been weakened due to various problems and this will further hit it badly," he said. "We can`t even find 11 good players because of lack of talent in the country.

He said that both Younus Khan and Mohammad Yousuf were still needed in both Tests and one-day cricket.

"What I suggest to PCB is to stick with heavy fines, but don`t implement the bans because we still need Yousuf and Younus in Tests and one-day cricket.

"With the World Cup in 2011 so close, this decision will hurt our team badly."

Bureau Report

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Hayden confident of lifting IPL trophy

Chennai: Explosive opener Matthew Hayden, sounded a warning to rival IPL teams saying his side Chennai Super Kings would do everything this year to win title which has eluded them in the last two editions.

"Our prospects are very good and I am very optimistic about winning the title. In the last IPL events, we were in top four and missed the title narrowly in the first year. This year we are going to push towards the top spot," he said.

Hayden said the shortest format of the game was quite unpredictable citing the example of defending champions Deccan Chargers, who had finished last in the inaugural edition.

"The unpredictable nature of T20 cricket also puts us on the edge of the seat. But the prospects are very good. Yesterday in a practice match MS Dhoni made over 50 runs off a handful of balls. There was nice bounce from the wicket," Hayden said.

The former Australian batsman also praised Dhoni's leadership qualities, saying, "We enjoy very good team spirit built around a good and young skipper. He has achieved individually and also has got an exceptional captaincy record which is growing."

Hayden said when IPL was launched three years ago Twenty20 was seen as a danger for One-day and Test formats but for the expansion of the game, the slam-bang format of the game was a good option.

"We love the game as much as the crowds do. Globalization of this game is very important. CSK is part of my cricket now. I guarantee this IPL will be full of fun and excitement."

Hayden was also impressed with the long handled bat he launched, on Thursday, and said he would use it.

"I tried out nearly 2000 balls and about 500 balls played with this bat. I keep working on and it is especially for use in T20 and it is strategic move. I am absolutely certain that I will be using this bat," he said.

Marcus Codrington Fernandez, inventor of the Mongoose bat, said, "No Indian player has approached us. Three overseas players are going to be using this bat in the IPL-3. Apart from Hayden, Andrew Symonds and Graeme Smith have come on our board."
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Three captains and one bat

Pakistan hand out bans like toffee; and those handing them out pretend they are pristine. Australia's vice-captain leaves his team behind to offer solace to his girl, who is suffering the after-effects of a dubious relationship. Another South African storms his way into world cricket - for England. The world's most hyped tournament slithers, rather than storms, in. That's a lot of unusual things for a sport played by so few.Matthew Hayden with the Mongoose

Pakistan continue to make every other nation look like the epitome of good management. Big zamindar arrives, cleans up the shed; next zamindar puts the old chickens back in. The cricket lover, like RK Laxman's common man, looks on, perplexed and neglected. To be honest, the Pakistan cricketers don't have much sympathy around the cricket world, but what of the fans? What about the little eight-year-old who wants to wear a replica Pakistan cap and cheer for Afridi and Yousuf and Younis? What happens to him? His heroes, and those who manage his heroes, frequently seem to have less passion for the team and the country than he does. His lot is to be let down. I wonder if people blinded by egos even realise that.

On that count, India have been blessed. The results will be good one day and bad the next, and fans will be delighted and frustrated in equal measure. But when the disease of match-fixing threatened to infect India, the eight-year-old (and the 30-year-old who behaved like the eight-year-old) had proud people to look up to. Tendulkar, Dravid, Kumble, Laxman, Ganguly, Srinath - these were men of character. Fine cricketers they might have been but fine people they were too. Their solidity, as much as their results, took cricket through its testing years.

I wish Pakistan cricket well because I have been a child and have had my heroes, and when some of them let me down later in life, I felt the pain. But the pity is that six months from now a new zamindar will have arrived, armed with a firman from a patron. The same people will be back. If they can give the little child something to smile about, if they can be heroes, it might still be worth it. Essentially Pakistan need an Imran: proud, competitive and above board. He was great when he played but they need him more 25 years later.

Michael Clarke's predicament reminds me of something Allan Border told me 18 years ago when I was ghosting his column to help make ends meet on a tour. He worried for young players, he said, because not all of them had stability in their private lives. It's as true a statement as any you will hear. The likes of Tendulkar and Dravid and Kumble came from stable families, they married solid girls and have lovely families of their own. It's an aspect of success that is rarely studied.

Meanwhile the IPL, as a cricket tournament, has crept in. Lalit Modi told me this week that once the cricket starts it will need no promotion, and I hope he is right. One reason it's been low-key could be India's first game at the World Cup of hockey, which showed that India could still rally around another sport. All of us, except those that run hockey in India, know it. But when the hockey sadly tapered off, the news boycott came in the way. I don't know the details of the dispute but I do know that if I took great pains to produce a product, if I licensed it to somebody and a third party used it for profit, I would be very upset.

But there is enough in the IPL to get people going once it begins. It is no secret that I enjoy Twenty20 cricket as much as I do Test and one-day cricket, but in particular I will be looking out for three captains, and one bat! Neither Warne nor Gilchrist nor Kumble has played much cricket in recent times and this might well be the last time we will see them on a cricket field. Proud men and excellent leaders and each an adornment to the game. They will be up against young men who won't give them an inch. And while I will be expected to be neutral, I will silently wish they hold their own.

And then the big man with the Mongoose. Matthew Hayden's bat has always been a brute, a club. And now he arrives with this big handle and small blade, which looks a bit like the oar he might keep handy when he goes fishing. Well into retirement, he could still be the key for the Chennai Super Kings.

Harsha Bhogle is a commentator, television presenter and writer. He is on the IPL commentary team

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