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Top Stories of the Week

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Wasim Akram hands over Olympic torch

Former Pakistan cricket captain Wasim Akram, alongwith 13 children, today handed over the Olympic torch to cine star Akshay Kumar at this border check post this morning.

After the handing over ceremony, Akshay Kumar left with the torch for Delhi by road via Jalandhar and Ludhiana.

He is scheduled to reach Mumbai on November 5 where Wasim Akaram is expected to join him again.

Ashok Leyland to set up unit in Uttaranchal

Ashok Leyland Ltd today announced its plans to set up a vehicle manufacturing unit in Uttaranchal at an investment of over Rs 1,000 crore to produce 25,000 vehicles annually. The capacity is intended to be stepped up to 40,000 units eventually.

''This unit will strengthen our presence in northern India which already contributes nearly a quarter of our sales. The development of Uttaranchal as an auto hub made our selection easier,'' company Managing Director R Seshasayee said.

About 200 acres of land has been identified in Pantnagar for the unit, which will give employment to 3,000 people, the company informed BSE. The unit will enjoy excise duty and income tax exemption for the period of five to ten years.

Dunlop India reopens

News headlines After a gap of over five years erstwhile major tyre manufacturer Dunlop India Ltd, Sahagunj unit, in West Bengal, was reopened today setting off a new ray of hope in the industrial rejuvenation of the state.

West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee formally inaugurated the tyre plant by pushing a button in presence of Union Heavy Industries Minister Santosh Mohon Deb and Dunlop India Limited Chairman Pawan Ruhia, who had acquired the company from the Chabaria group two years ago.

Initially about 200 of the 1179 workmen of closed Dunlop unit have so far found their job while the remaining others would be suitably employed during the next four months when the production capacity would be increased from initially 20 tonne a day to 130 tonne a day in the form of production of aviation tyre, heavy duty tyre and earth mover tyres.

Incidentally, the other unit of Dunlop India Ltd at Ambatur in Tamil Nadu was reopened in August this year where different types of car tyre and tubes would be manufactured.
Speaking on the occasion Mr Bhattacharjee asked the workers and management to work in unison to take the productivity to the maximum level.

Union Minister Mr Deb had assured all kind of central help in the smooth running of Dunlop as well as reopening of several closed heavy industrial units in West Bengal.

Dengue toll in Karachi reaches 28

The dengue death toll has risen to 28 in this commercial capital of Pakistan with one more patient succumbing to the viral disease in the past 24 have even as 65 new patients were admitted to various city hospitals.

However, no deaths have been reported from elsewhere in the country except Karachi, according to Islamabad-based National Institute of Health (NIH). A resident of Hyderabad died of the haemorrhagic fever at Aga Khan Hospital yesterday morning, media reports quoted Additional Health Secretary and Coordinator Sindh VHF Surveillance Committee Abdul Majid.

The haemorrhagic fever was showing no let up in the country. As many as 2065 suspected cases were reported from across Pakistan, with 1818 from here alone since an outbreak in mid-September in southern parts of the country. Out of 1818 cases in Karachi, since October 2, 563 have been confirmed.

In Islamabad the total cases of the viral disease stood at 90, according to the NIH, with 19 new cases in the past 24 hours.
The Institute has received 34 fresh samples of suspected cases Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Mardan, and Sawabi.

Meanwhile, the government has announced that the import of equipments including, automatic cell separator and automatic cell counter, for the diagnosis and treatment of the viral disease would be exempted from custom duty and sales tax.
The Central Board of Revenue (CBR) issued a notification in this regard that came into effect immediately.

Dengue and hemorrhagic fever are endemic in Pakistan, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), with occasional outbreaks reported in previous years.

Mattoo case: Santosh Singh gets death sentence

Priyadarshini MattooIn a landmark judgement passed by the High Court, Santosh Singh, the prime accused in the Priyadarshini Mattoo murder case, was given death sentence.

A Division Bench, comprising Justice R S Sodhi and Justice P K Bhasin, announced the punishment after it had convicted Santosh on October 17, setting aside a trial court's verdict that had acquitted him of the charges in the case in December 1999.The Central Bureau of Investigation had sought a death sentence for the convict.Santosh, a law student in the Delhi University and the son of a retired senior IPS officer, had raped and murdered Priyadarshini, a third-year law student, in January 1996.Priyadarshini was strangled to death in the bedroom of her South Delhi apartment with 19 injuries on her person. The trial court had acquitted Santosh mainly due to alleged lapses and unfairness on the part of the prosecution.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Heavy rains in Kerala

The North East monsoon was active over Kerala with heavy rains lashing many places during the last 24 hours.The local Meterological department office here said Kollam received the highest rainfall of 11 cm followed by Nilampur and Varkala seven cm each. Haripad received six cm of rains, it said and added that Thiruvananthapuram Airport, Koilandy and Mavelikkara received 5 cm. It forecast isolated heavy rains in the state during the next 48 hours.

United Nations sanctions will hurt others: Iran

Iran said today sanctions the United Nations might impose over the Islamic Republic's nuclear programme would cause problems for the country but would hurt others too.
Iran faces possible sanctions for failing to shelve its uranium enrichment plans as demanded by the UN Security Council. The West says Iran is developing the technology to build atomic bombs, despite Tehran's denials.

A draft sanctions resolution has been drawn up by European states but Russia has expressed misgivings about the proposal.

''Such issues (sanctions) will not impose major harm on us. It will of course create problems but the problems will be on both sides,'' government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham said.
Elham said sanctions would not just affect Iran.

''Harm will be inflicted on others too. They should pay attention and not fall into the trap that some of the powers, like America, have prepared,'' he told a news conference.
The proposed resolution would ban most nuclear and missile cooperation with Iran. Assistance to Iran from the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog, would be limited to medical or humanitarian matters.

The United States, which has not had diplomatic relations with Tehran since shortly after the 1979 Islamic revolution, has sought to toughen the measures.
''We don't welcome tension but any measure which moves towards restrictions will receive a decisive and appropriate answer from the Iranian nation,'' President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a rally near Tehran, Iran's IRNA news agency reported.

He did not give details about a possible Iranian response, but Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, has said Iran might halt the IAEA's routine inspections of Iran's atomic facilities.
The president also insisted Iran would not back away from its right to nuclear technology. ''No one has the right to retreat from this obvious right of Iran,'' the president said.

Iran last week started up a second network of 164 centrifuges, which can be used to enrich uranium to make fuel for nuclear power plants or material for bombs. Iran is now running two such networks, known as cascades.

It would need thousands of centrifuges running non-stop for months to yield enough highly-enriched uranium for one atom bomb. Analysts say Iran is at least three years away from that.

Yuvraj Singh advised to doctor

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) today announced that the doctor examining Yuvraj Singh has advised the injured cricketer to use crutches.

Dr Anant Joshi, who examined Yuvraj at the Lilavati hospital today said, ''There is a tear in the anterior cruciate ligament with some amount of bruising of the bone in the left knee. There is also swelling of the knees.'' He has recommended Yuvraj some exercises and advised the use of crutches.

Yuvraj's condition will be assessed again after two weeks for determining further course of action.

XLRI Jamshedpur to launch satellite-based courses

Jamshedpur based B-school, XLRI will start its satellite-based certificate courses in overseas markets like West Asia.

The institute, considered one of the best Indian business schools in the country, would make its foray in overseas market next year onwards. ''The first international batch of the institute for the certificate course will be launched next year,'' XLRI Director Casimir Raj said.

Among the three category of courses offered by the institute are general management programme, executive fellowships and satellite-based courses.
The students in overseas locations would be able to avail the satellite-programmes, which include general management, human resource and supply-chain management certificate courses.

''The programmes are currently taught to students in 31 Indian cities. With technical collaboration from Hughes Escorts Communications Limited, we will start the satellite-based classroom programmes in abroad as well,'' Mr Raj added.

University of Coffee

University of Coffee, a center of excellence established in Italy, to spread the Italian Coffee Culture internationally, will be opening its Extension Centre in Bangalore to offer courses in basics and advanced technology to Coffee growers in India, according to illycaffe Chairman Dr Andres Illy.

Talking to UNI, after distribution of Fourth 'India Coffee Quality' awards here, he said, ''The courses offered by the University would be from basic, genetics, market management and on Coffee management.'' The main object of the University would be to have their experts work directly with the Indian coffee growers community to enable improvement in methods of harvesting, curing, processing and packaging. The University would also organise various courses for the food and beverage industry, professional baristas, coffee shops and restaurant managers, he added.

He said the University of Coffee's first extension Centre in Brazil established in 2000 was a great success and over 3000 Coffee growers have studied so far. The Extension Center was expected to be opened in January 2007.

Stating that Indian Centre would be the second Extension Centre, Dr Illy said, ''The University will organise its lessons on how to improve the quality of their crops, traveling around the coffee growing areas.'

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Orissa Funeral held for Orissa DIG

DIG Jaswinder SinghOrissa DIG Jaswinder Singh who was shot by his own bodyguards has been cremated in his village of Hoshiarpur in Punjab.

On Wednesday his body was flown from Delhi to Jalandhar Cantonment before being handed over to his family. Suspecting a conspiracy behind his death, the distraught family has now asked for a CBI inquiry.

"We just want truth to come out. They are giving different versions. I don't know but they are hiding something. He was killed," said Paramjit Kaur, wife of Late Jaswinder Singh.

"We don't know what to do. We lost him. They are changing their versions. We want an enquiry into the matter," said Captain Hazara Singh, father.

Ever since news of Jaswinder's death reached Bodal, life has almost come to a standstill. Two senior officers who accompanied the body to the village assured people that the truth would soon emerge.

DIG Jaswinder Singh was a role model in his village. Many thought he had a bright future but now the entire village gathered to bid him farewell.

7 arrested in connection with gangrape

Seven people were arrested today in connection with alleged gangrape on two women at Edenthar locality in the capital. Police said about ten youths had allegedly gangraped two women near Chanmari cemetery on Monday night.

The taxi driver reported the incident to village defence party, who in turn reported the matter to the police. Police is investigating into the matter.

9 lakh bank employees on strike from Oct 27

About nine lakh bank employees from public and private sectors and foreign banks in the country would go on a daylong strike on October 27 to press their demands.

Talking to UNI here, All India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) General Secretary Venkatachalam said the United Forum of Bank Unions, an umbrella organisation of employees and officers unions of nine banks comprising AIBEA, All India Bank Officers Confederation (AIBOC), National Confederation of Bank Employees (NCBE), All India Bank Officers Association (AIBOA), Bank Employees Federation of India (BEFI), Indian National Bank Employees Congress (INBEC), Indian National Bank Officers Congress (INBOC), National Organisation of Bank Workers (NOBW) and National Organisation of Bank Officers (NOBO) have given the call for the strike.

He said that Chief Labour Commissioner at the Centre held a conciliation meeting on October 18 at New Delhi with the unions and the Indian Banks Association. However, the meeting failed to produce any results, he added.

The strike call was given in the background of attacks on the banking industry and bank employees, he said, adding if the government and the IBA continued to adopt ''an ostrich-like policy'' and failed to come forward to resolve the issues by meaningful discussions, the agitation would be intensified.

Mr Venkatachalam said the bank unions also sought the support of the public, trade unions and political parties on the issue. He said for the past 30 years, the banks had a scheme to give appointment on compassionate grounds to widows of employees, if they die in harness. But the government has scrapped this scheme, he added.

When the unions gave a call for stike on March 9 this year, the Centre and the Indian Banks Association came forward to find an amicable solution to the problem. However, six months have passed but the agreement reached upon has not been implemented, he added.

Bronchial thermoplasty reduces asthma attacks

The removal of muscle tissue in the hyperactive airways of asthma patients by exposing the tissue to heat reduces disease exacerbations and significantly improves the patients' quality of life, Canadian investigators announced here during CHEST 2006, the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians.

The Asthma Intervention Research trial involved 108 patients, who were an average of 39.4 years old, with poorly controlled moderate-to-severe asthma. The subjects' asthma persisted despite optimal drug therapy with corticosteroids and long-acting beta-agonists. At study entry, the patients had FEV1 levels between 60 and 80 percent of normal. FEV1 (forced expiration volume in 1 second) is a test commonly used to assess lung function.

Dr Michel Laviolette of Laval University in Sainte-Foy, Quebec, and colleagues across Canada randomly assigned the patients to continue drug treatment (the control group) or to undergo bronchial thermoplasty, in which a catheter with a thermal energy tip is used to reduce smooth muscle mass in all accessible airways. Thermoplasty was performed in three 30-minute sessions, with approximately 45 activations delivered during each session.

Patients were evaluated 3, 6, and 12 months after thermoplasty.

FEV1 was measured at each evaluation. Patients also refrained from using long-acting beta-agonists for two weeks before each assessment to destabilize disease ''and capture true disease activity and get a better assessment of the efficacy of thermoplasty,'' Laviolette explained.

There was a 50-per cent reduction in exacerbation rates in the thermoplasty group compared with the controls, Laviolette announced. The need for asthma medication was also significantly reduced and quality of life scores were significantly higher in thermoplasty patients.

''There was a significant change in disease exacerbation in thermoplasty patients. There was no change or a worsening of exacerbations in controls,'' he said. ''The change in quality of life was really clinically significant.'' Adverse effects with thermoplasty typically include a worsening of asthma symptoms within a day after the procedure, but clearing within a few weeks. ''There was almost no smooth muscle left after thermoplasty,'' Laviolette reported while showing tissue slides of airways before and after the thermoplasty.

He said that animal studies of thermoplasty show that the positive changes in airways have persisted for at least three years so far. ''This is clearly one of the most original studies that I heard here,'' Dr Peter R Smith of Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, New York told Reuters Health. Smith participated in the discussion that followed Laviolette's presentation. ''As a pulmonologist in a tertiary care hospital, I am still faced with no other options in asthmatics on maximal (drug) therapy.''

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

US-based engineering firm forays in India

US-based provider of consulting, engineering and environmental services, Nelson today announced their foray into the Indian market with the setting up of a wholly-owned susidiary here.

''India's economy growing at 8-9 per cent and the construction sector accounting for 50 per cent of the capital outlay, the forces are aligning for Nelson to have significant impact on the Indian market place,'' Nelson India global strategy and innovation Director Amit Ramani told reporters here.

With an initial investment of over Rs 2.5 crore, the company also plans to enter in partnership with some Indian companies to reach the local market and expects to employ 100 people by the end of 2007.

''Combining the wealth of Indian talent with Nelson's world class experience, processes and infrastructure is an incredible business proposition,'' said Nelson India Regional Director Anand DK.

Initially focusing on design services and interior design projects, Nelson India will operate through its office in the national capital. It will open more offices in Bangalore, Mumbai and Hyderabad.

The company's global service network currently includes almost 500 teammates in 35 locations with several international offices through various partnerships and business arrangements.

It has grown from annual revenues of 10 milion dollars to more than 50 million dollars, with a 500 per cent growth since 2002. Its clients list includes corporate houses like Bank of America, America online, Wachovia, Sprint, Merrill Lynch, AIG, Aetna, Wells Fargo, E Trade, Pepsico and Citi group.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Tata project on schedule

Tata Project The process for setting up Tata Company's proposed small car manufacturing plant at Singur is progressing on schedule, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said today.
''People have spelt out their verdict on the Tata project. The government will ensure that the plant comes up at an earlier date,'' Mr Bhattacharjee told reporters while commenting on the Trinamool sponsored bandh here.

He said his government is fuctioning as per ''people's verdict''.
He said the Block office functioned normally in Singur. ''Cheques were issued and consent letters were also received during the day,'' the chief minister said. Mr Bhattacharjee also made it clear that his government would ensure smooth operations in the IT sector on any eventuality.

''We are one government...and we have one policy,'' he said when asked of his government's stand on smooth operations in IT sector during the proposed Left supported industrial strike on December 14.

Commerce and Industry secretary Sabyasachi Sen said around 101 cheques were issued to farmers in Singur during the day.

7 accused in 7/11 blasts

The process for setting up Tata Company's proposed small car manufacturing plant at Singur is progressing on schedule, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said today.
''People have spelt out their verdict on the Tata project. The government will ensure that the plant comes up at an earlier date,'' Mr Bhattacharjee told reporters while commenting on the Trinamool sponsored bandh here.

He said his government is fuctioning as per ''people's verdict''.
He said the Block office functioned normally in Singur. ''Cheques were issued and consent letters were also received during the day,'' the chief minister said.
Mr Bhattacharjee also made it clear that his government would ensure smooth operations in the IT sector on any eventuality.

''We are one government...and we have one policy,'' he said when asked of his government's stand on smooth operations in IT sector during the proposed Left supported industrial strike on December 14.

Commerce and Industry secretary Sabyasachi Sen said around 101 cheques were issued to farmers in Singur during the day. A Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court here today remanded seven persons arrested for their alleged involvement in the July 11 serial train blasts case in Mumbai to judicial custody till October 20.
The Anti-Terrorist squad (ATS) today produced Dr Tanvir Ansari, Muzamil Shaikh, Faisal Shaikh, Kamal Asari, Zamir Shaikh, Ethesham Siddiqui and Sohail Ahmed Shaikh before MCOCA Judge Mrudulla Bhatkar.

Since the ATS did not seek any further police custody, the MCOCA Judge remanded them to judicial custody. However, six other accused are still in police custody.
Meanwhile, when the Judge asked the suspects if they had anything to say, the undertrials complained of police torture. They alleged that the ATS had taken their confessions by resorting to third-degree methods, and that they would now like to retract the same. The court then took their complaints on record.

All the thirteen suspects arrested in conection with the July 11 serial train blasts were booked under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA).
188 people lost their lives and more than 800 were injured in these blasts.

PM arrives UK for 3 days

Dr.Manmohan Singh Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived here this evening on a three-day official visit to the United Kingdom on the invitation of British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Dr Singh was received at the Heathrow Airport by senior officials of the British Government and the Indian High Commissioner.

During his stay here, the Prime Minister will hold bilateral talks with Mr Blair on a series of issues, including steps to combat terrorism, as both the countries are victims of the menance.

Bush condemns- provocative test

Bush condemns North Korea's 'pPresident George W. Bush today called North Korea's claim it tested a nuclear weapon a provocative act that requires an immediate response from the UN Security Council.

Bush said he spoke by phone to leaders of China, South Korea, Japan and Russia and all agreed the test was unacceptable.
' test

North Korea conducts nuclear test

north korea, nuclear test World powers condemned North Korea today after it said it conducted an underground nuclear test and the UN Security Council prepared a stern response that could further impoverish and isolate the communist state.
China, Pyongyang's strongest political and economic backer, denounced the test by its neighbor as ''brazen,'' and urged it to avoid action that could worsen the situation. Russian President Vladimir Putin also condemned the test.

US President George W. Bush called it a ''provocative act'' that threatened international peace and security and required an immediate response from the U.N. Security Council.

Today's announcement by Pyongyang sharply escalated world concerns over North Korea's nuclear program and was a slap in the face for major regional and world powers engaged in six-party talks intended to prevent just such a test.

It delivered a sharp blow to Chinese President Hu Jintao's doctrine of using economic incentives and diplomatic coaxing to avert North Korea's drive to become a nuclear weapons state. Only seven states have acknowledged having nuclear weapons.

ECONOMIC IMPACT North Korea's announcement pushed the dollar to an eight-month high against the yen and helped shove oil above $60 a barrel. South Korea's won fell to two-month lows, but US blue chip stocks were little changed.

Bush said North Korea had been a leading proliferator of missile technology, including transfers to Iran and Syria, and warned Pyongyang against such a transfer of nuclear weapons.
''The transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States and we would hold North Korea fully accountable for consequences of such action,'' he said.

Bush said he spoke by phone to leaders of China, South Korea, Japan and Russia -- the other parties involved in long-stalled negotiations with North Korea -- and all agreed that the test was unacceptable.

While stressing his commitment to diplomacy, Bush said he had told South Korea and Japan that ''the United States will meet the full range of our deterrent and security commitments'' in the Asia-Pacific region.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Venod Sharma resigns

Haryana Power Minister Venod Sharma today resigned in the wake of allegations that he influenced some key witnesses in the Jessica Lal murder case to save his son Manu Sharma who is the prime accused.

The high profile Minister, who is in the eye of a storm since a media expose charged him of having paid Rs 25 lakh to a key witness Karan Rajput and influenced two others, tendered his resignation to Congress president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi.

AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi, incharge of Haryana, said Mr Sharma had resigned keeping in view the case against his son.

The Minister, who also holds Public Works and Environment portfolio, has been under intense pressure following Tehelka sting operation last month which claimed that money and muscle power played a role in changing testimonies.

A lower court had earlier acquitted Manu Sharma accused of shooting down ramp model Jessica Lal, who was serving as a bartender in a party at socialite Bina Ramani's restaurant on the night of April 29, 1999 for having declined to give him a drink.

The acquittals, however, led to massive public outcry after the court blamed the police for mishandling the case. The Delhi Police later appealed against the acquittals in the Delhi High Court.

A final status report on a fresh probe in the case has to be filed in the case by October nine.

Samsung launches credit card sized phones

Leading mobile phone company Samsung Telecommunications India (STI) today announced the launch of SGH-P310 credit card size phone. This phone illustrates Samsung's sensitivity to Indian fashion conscious business professional's need for mobile phone having stylish exteriors, embedded with cutting edge features and longer battery life, Mr Ryu, Managing Director, Samsung Telecommunications India said in a statement here.

"India is a very critical market for Samsung Telecommunications India, where we will keep launching premium color and camera phones. The launch of SGH -P310 reinforces our commitment to deliver cutting edge technologies, superiority designed mobiles with extended battery life to the Indian business and working professionals," he said. He added that P310 is loaded with the latest multimedia features with a unique iconic design

Medical centres sealed

A nursing home and a diagnostic centre were sealed here following a TV channel expose showing two doctors, including the president of Sirsa IMA, allegedly carrying out sex determination tests. The team, led by the district civil surgeon Dr Kaysth sealed the nursing home and the centre, Deputy Commissioner V Umashanker said.

However, the accused doctors have refuted the charges. The district administration decided to seal the diagnostic centre of Dr Kaushal and the ultrasound room of the private nursing home of Dr Ramesh Munjal, after the telecast of a TV report showing Dr Ramesh Munjal, President of IMA, Sirsa and Dr Kaushal as promoting female foeticide.

Reacting to the sting operation, Dr Munjal dismissed the charges against him as baseless.
He said a few days back, some people had approached him and sought information about the city scan centre, which he gave to them. But when they talked about a sex determination test, he asked them to leave his clinic, he said. He said he would clarify his position after he returns from Delhi, where he has gone to visit his sister who had died of a massive heart attack. Dr Kaushal also denied the charges and said the whole video clipping shown by the TV channel was a manipulation and a conspiracy against him.

Meanwhile, Janvadi Mahila Samiti today submitted a memorandum to the City Magistrate demanding that ''these mercenary doctors should be booked under he PNDT Act'' They announced to hold a dharna outside the establishments of these doctors.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Women's Reservation Bill

The much-delayed Women's Reservation Bill, providing 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament and State Legislatures, will be introduced in winter session of Parliament.

An assurance to this effect was given by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to a delegation of Women PowerConnect (WPC), which met him in New Delhi recently, WPC President Dr Ranjana Kumari said today.

Talking to newspersons here, she said the Coordination Committee of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) had decided to accept the recommendations of the Parliament Standing Committee on Reservation for Women and introduce the Bill in the coming Winter session.

Dr Kumari said women in the country were suffering due to lack of resources in all sectors, especially in health and education.

Seventy per cent of Scheduled Caste girls were still not attending school in States like Orissa and Bihar. ''Problems of women can be effectively addressed only when budget becomes gender sensitive at the State and national level. Women deserve their share of resources from the Government,'' she added.

Mr Subramanya, in his inaugural address, said Deputy Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa had said that Gender Budget Cell would be set up in the Finance Department to suggest ways to ensure proper allocation for women in the State budget.

More than 40 representatives from Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, besides Karnataka, were participating in the workshop and deliberating on domestic violence bill, women's reservation bill, gender-just budgets, sexual harassment bill and declining sex ratio vis-a-vis girl child.

Brazilian Air Crash

Brazil Air DisasterBrazil's medical authorities on Thursday identified the first five bodies of those killed in last Friday's Brazilian airliner crash, which killed all the 154 people aboard.

All the 148 passengers and six crew members aboard the Boeing 737-800 were killed in Brazil's worst-ever air disaster, and 100 bodies have been found so far. The Medico-Legal Institute (IML) identified the five bodies using fingerprints and information supplied by victims' families.

The IML has been operating under emergency conditions, using three large army tents and undertaking seven autopsies simultaneously. The IML has not yet received all the fingerprints of victims and may have to resort to DNA examinations which typically take five days to get results.

The Boeing collided with a small executive jet and then crashed in the remote Amazon jungle.
The executive jet, a Legacy 600 made by Embraer, made an emergency landing at a nearby air force base after the collision, with no casualties.

The crashed airliner belonged to low-cost airlines Gol, Brazil's second largest air carrier. The company said in a statement that the U.S. aircraft giant Boeing had just delivered the jet on Sept. 12. The Boeing's black boxes had been found earlier and the cause of the accident was under investigation.

Brazil's Defense Minister Waldir Pires said the authorities were investigating why the smaller jet had not been flying at its authorized altitude of 11,000 meters.
The collision took place at 11,300 meters, the authorized altitude for the Gol airliner.

World powers gather in London

Ministers from six world powers will meet in London today to discuss how to tackle Iran over its nuclear programme, with the United States, backed by Britain, expected to press for sanctions against Tehran. Russia and China, however, oppose this route and some European countries say diplomacy must be given more time.

Iran again urged the West yesterday to solve the dispute through talks but repeated it would not stop uranium enrichment. Tehran says the programme is only for power generation but the West suspects it wants to make a nuclear bomb.

U S Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett and representatives from China, France, Germany and Russia will gather for ministerial-level talks in the British capital from 5:00 pm (2130 hrs IST). The meeting will follow discussions earlier in the day between senior officials from their respective countries, US and British officials said.
The purpose of the meeting is ''to discuss the next steps on Iran'', a British Foreign Office spokesman told Reuters.

World powers are divided over how best to resolve the Iran deadlock. Washington is lobbying for sanctions at the U N Security Council after long-running talks with the Islamic Republic to stop enrichment failed to produce results.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Trains collide in Allahabad

Lucknow, Oct 5: In a freak incident, two trains collided in Allahabad today, severely affecting rail traffic on Delhi-Howrah trunk route.There are however, no reports of any casualties.The accident occured near the Allahabad railway station when Mughalsarai Express and Chauri-Chaura Express collided head on.The collision derailed at least three coaches of Chauri-Chaura Express.While senior officials rushed to the spot, there were little chances of the railway tracks being cleared in the next eight hours.Meanwhile, trains including Kalka Mail, Lal Quila Express and Sealdah Mail were being diverted, railway sources said.

Karnataka Bandh October 4th 2006

In a freak incident, two trains collided in Allahabad today, severely affecting rail traffic on Delhi-Howrah trunk route. There are however, no reports of any casualties.
The accident occured near the Allahabad railway station when Mughalsarai Express and Chauri-Chaura Express collided head on.

The collision derailed at least three coaches of Chauri-Chaura Express.
While senior officials rushed to the spot, there were little chances of the railway tracks being cleared in the next eight hours.

Meanwhile, trains including Kalka Mail, Lal Quila Express and Sealdah Mail were being diverted, railway sources said.Bangalore, Oct 4 (UNI) Barring minor incidents of stone pelting in the sensitive Belgaum city and Bangalore, the Karnataka bandh called by pro-Kannada organisations to protest the ''step motherly'' treatment meted out by Centre on the Belgaum border row with Maharashtra, passed off peacefully, today.
Life came to a standstill in most of the districts as the bandh call, supported by nearly 800 organisations, met with overwhelming response.

Buses, autorickshaws and other public transport vehicles were off the roads in most parts of the State, except Mangalore, Udupi and Chitradurga districts where the bandh evoked partial response. Though Central and State Government offices remained open, attendence was thin due to non-availability of public transport.

Some branches of the nationalised banks were open, however, customers failed to turn up.
Police detained more than 600 people in different parts of the State, who stopped several trains for some time and took out processions shouting slogans against the Union and Maharashtra Governments and leaders like Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil and Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil. Despite this, train services remained normal, railway officials said.

Air services remained unaffected in the State, ATC officials said.
Legislator and Kannada activist Vatal Nagaraj, who led the joint action committee which had called the bandh, said the bandh was a grand success and the pro-Kannada organisations have succeeded in sending a strong signal to the Centre, which was ''biased against the State'', and the Maharashtra Government, which repeatedly raked up the issue. ''The Belgaum issue has been settled four decades ago once for all. The Mahajan Committee report, which said the border city is part of Karnataka, is final and the Centre should not waste any more time, but implement it immediately,'' he said.

Director General of Police B S Sial said barring minor incidents of stone throwing, there were no incidents of violence in the entire State. Detained pro-Kannada activists were let off in the evening.

Grand Durga festival

Durga Idol"Ashche Maa Palki Kore," meaning Goddess Durga is coming in a Palanquin.

The azure sky with fleecy white clouds and the nip in the air marks the advent of autumn - the season for Bengal's most popular festival, Durga Puja or the worship of Goddess Durga. Durga Puja is celebrated with customary pomp and fanfare. Durga Puja is the most important festival of Bengalis. The familiar sound of Dhak, Dhunuchi nachh, the mild fragrance of Shiuli, gives a familiar tug to every Bengali heart. It is a great occasion for every Bengali in West Bengal or abroad. Durga Puja is celebrated with joy all over India, especially West Bengal in worship of Goddess Durga. Singing, dancing, sweets & gaiety are an integral part of the Durga Puja Festival. People send Durga Puja Gifts to dear ones and express good wishes.

Durga, in Sanskrit means "She who is incomprehensible or difficult to reach." Goddess Durga is a form of Shakti worshiped for her gracious as well as terrifying aspect. Mother of the Universe, she represents the infinite power of the universe and is a symbol of a female dynamism. The manifestation of Goddess Durga is said to emerge from Her formless essence and the two are inseparable.

She is also called by many other names, such as Parvati, Ambika, and Kali. In the form of Parvati, She is known as the divine spouse of Lord Shiva and is the mother of Her two sons, Ganesha and Karttikeya, and daughter Jyoti. Destroyer of demons, she is worshiped during an annual festival called Durga puja, especially popular among Bengalis.

Durga puja is widely celebrated by Bengalis. The festive mood that they get into is worth mentioning. Across the world, Durga Puja serves as a community gathering and a connection to roots for the widespread Bengali diaspora. Tokyo has nearly ten Pujas, and North America has several hundred. Some of the oldest Durga Puja celebrations outside Bengal have been taking place in the United Kingdom for over seventy years. In recent years, Bengali communities in Australia, France and Germany have also started annual Durga Puja celebrations. So this shows that not only in India but all over the world it is a widely enjoyed occasion. Even in countries like Italy and Portugal Durga puja is also being celebrated.

The festivities begin from maha shashthi (the sixth day from the day after mahalaya) when the priest unveils the deity during a puja known as bodhan. On this day the women of the house fast for the well-being of the family. The fast is broken in the evening with fruits and luchis (a kind of puri made of flour), usually eaten with sabzi (vegetables). It is normal for the whole family to participate in these rituals, especially when it comes to partaking of the yummy luchis and sabzi. A trip to the local pandal is also a must.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

'Rang de Basanti to the Oscars

Rang de Basanti for Oscars'Rang De Basanti', Indian's official entry to the Oscars in the Foreign Film category, will also be competing in seven other mainline categories at the prestigious awards, the producer of the film Ronnie Screwvala said today.

'Rang de Basanti', chosen by the Film Federation of India on Monday as India's nominee to the Oscars in the Best Foreign Film category, will now also compete in seven other categories including Best Film, Best Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Art Direction and Best Sound Design at the 79th Annual Academy Awards, CEO of UTV Ronnie Screwvala told UNI here.

''There is only one official entry per country in the coveted foreign language film category besides that we have also applied in 7 Mainline Categories,'' Ronnie Screwvala said.
''Our main focus would, however, remain on trying to secure the Best foreign Language Film Oscar for the film. As for competing in other mainline categories, we will try to give it our best shot,'' Mr Screwvala said.

The news of 'Rang De Basanti' competing for eight categories comes close on the heels of the producers of 'Lage Raho Munnabhai' deciding to send the film to the Oscars as an independent entry.

Asked about recent reports of Lage Raho Munnabhai also sending in an application to the Oscars, Mr Screwvala said, ''firstly, in the Foreign Language Category no other film can apply from India.

Therefore, Rang De Basanti will not be competing with any other Indian film. Secondly, it is true that any film can apply in the mainline Category but then you are up against all the Hollywood Majors, where we too have applications in 7 such categories''.

'Rang De Basanti' has, over the past few months, has cast a tremendous impact on the people with its message of 'standing up to a cause' akin to our freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh and Rajguru, The effect of the film can be seen from the infamous Jessica Lal verdict to the Narmada anti-dam campaign to the latest protest marches against the proposed quota for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in institutes of higher learning. Protests forms in India have undergone a sea change from the usual hunger-strike, mob-violence routine.

Simultaneously , 'Lage Raho Munnabhai' has driven home the message of relevance of Gandhiji's ideals of satyagraha and non-violence in today's world

Dengue hits Delhi

Admitting that the Capital was under the grip of deadly Dengue, Delhi Health Minister Yoganand Shastri today said despite more than 100 cases added in the last one week itself there was no cause for panic.

Additional steps like deploying another 2,400 personnel for fumigation and fogging in all areas of the Capital, launching a special drive to clean coolers in government offices and creating awareness among the people against mosquito breeding were being taken to keep the situation under control, said the minister.

''As of now 448 cases of dengue have been reported of which 201 were from outside Delhi -- 118 from Uttar Pradesh and 40 from Haryana. Effectively there are just 247 cases of Delhi.'' Last Sunday the reported figure was 327, which rose to 448 today, registering an increase of 121 in just one week. But there was no reason to press the panic button as several effective steps have been taken, besides the ones already in place to deal with the situation, Mr Shastri told mediapersons after the 30-minute 'Review Meeting' with Lt Governor B L Joshi this afternoon.

Meanwhile, at the prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), where a student died yesterday due to the viral fever, of the 35 dengue patients admitted are 18 resident doctors, students and nurses from the institute.

Yesterday the figure was 22.

Miss World 2006

Miss World 2006 Miss Czech Republic, an 18-year-old high school student, took the Miss World crown today in Poland's capital Warsaw.

Tatana Kucharova, a blue-eyed blonde wearing a tight-fitting white gown, fought back tears as the Miss World sash was draped over her shoulder and a glittering crown placed on her head.

Kucharova beat contestants from 103 countries to
capture the title in a two-hour pageant billed as television's most watched event.

Miss Romania, Ioana Valentina Boitor, was first runner-up.

New video shows 9/11 hijackers

A new video tape has emerged which shows two of the September 11 hijackers, including ringleader Mohammed Atta, at a hideout of Osama bin Laden's in Afghanistan, Britain's Sunday Times newspaper reported. The paper said it had obtained a copy of the video through ''a previously tested channel'', without giving details.

It said US and al Qaeda sources had verified the authenticity of the tape, which it said would be available on its Web site from noon (1630 hrs IST) today.
The paper said the video showed Egyptian-born Atta alongside another of the hijackers, Lebanese Ziad Jarrah.

Jarrah piloted United Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001.
The two men are seen laughing and joking and then apparently reading their wills to camera. There is no sound on the tape and lip-readers have failed to decipher their words, the paper said.

The Sunday Times said the footage, dated Jan. 18, 2000, was the first to show Atta and Jarrah together, and helped fill in a gap in the chronology of Atta's life. Until now, investigators had not known where he had been in early 2000, but the tape shows he was in Afghanistan at bin Laden's Tarnak Farm hideout, the paper said.

The footage also shows bin Laden addressing a crowd of around 100 al Qaeda members on January 8, 2000 -- 10 days before the footage of the hijackers.

Many similar video tapes have surfaced on Web sites used by Islamist militant groups since the September 11 attacks, lots of them showing the al Qaeda leader in person.
At least 36 messages have been broadcast since Arabic television station Al Jazeera aired the first statement by bin Laden in 2001.

Bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri are believed to be hiding in the border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan.


CD has evidence to Jessica case

There is enough evidence to nail Manu Sharma, the main accused in the Jessica Lal case acquitted by a trial court in February, in a CD that contains his account of the 1999 murder, Delhi Police said today.

“I have personally gone through the contents of the CD and there are many incriminating details against the accused. This important piece of evidence, for some strange reason, was never presented before the trial court,” said Special Commissioner of Police (Intelligence and Operations) U K Katna, who heads the Special Investigation team set up to probe lapses by officers who investigated the case.

“The CD has been submitted to the High Court as part of our investigation. Now, it is for the High Court to decide,” Katna added. The Delhi Police will submit a status report of the re-investigation to the Court, hearing an appeal in the case, tomorrow.
The CD was recorded in 1999 by the South District police during the interrogation of Manu Sharma after his surrender in Chandigarh.

Police said in the CD, Sharma says he went to party at Qutub Colonnade, in which Jessica was killed, after a drinking session with co-accused Vikas Yadav, Tony Gill and Alok Khanna. According to police, Sharma also claims he shot Jessica Lal using a pistol he purchased in Ambala after she refused to serve him liquor.

Sharma’s confession also details his escape, said police.

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