Wednesday, May 18, 2011

No breaching Super Kings' castle

M.S. Dhoni's Class of 2011 sealed a first ever all-win record at home in the IPL, as Chennai Super Kings defeated Kochi Tuskers Kerala by 11 runs at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Wednesday. 

The result, which assured CSK of a play-off spot, sent the side to the top of the table and snuffed out any chance that KTK might have had of making it past the league stage.
With Tuskers appearing flat for large stretches of the contest, the home side was hardly required to resort to the extraordinary — none of its batsmen crossed fifty and no bowler picked up more than the solitary wicket.
Dhoni elected to bat, setting in motion a series of by now predictable events, which have resulted in six of CSK's seven wins at Chepauk.
The side stitched together a competitive total — 152 for five — which its spinners, despite some late hitting by Brad Hodge (who was dropped when he was 19 by an alarmingly nonchalant M. Vijay in the deep), defended without alarm.
R. Ashwin's (4-0-16-1) three Power Play overs went for nine runs and he also picked up a wicket.
Despite Brendon McCullum (33, 37b, 3x4) and Hodge (51 n.o., 42b, 3x4, 2x6) spending significant time at the crease, KTK could not reach the target.
In what was a reflection of CSK's all-round bowling strength, the defending champion made light of its pacemen's off-day. Albie Morkel did not bowl a single over.
And Doug Bollinger and Dwayne Bravo went for plenty. Still, Ashwin, Suresh Raina and Shadab Jakati did what was asked of them, starving the visitor's chase of momentum.
The hitherto unused Wriddhiman Saha turned out to be CSK's batting hero, playing a knock that was cast from the same die as that of the entire innings.
The reserve wicketkeeper struggled early on, making 9 off 14 balls at one stage, and was reprieved when Parthiv Patel missed a stumping chance but came up with the big hits at the death, to take the home side to a fighting score.
Michael Hussey (32, 37b, 2x4) dropped anchor, managing to get a shot off to the boundary after 28 balls of struggle and was perhaps forced into circumspection with the steady fall of wickets. Vijay, Raina and S. Badrinath all fell at the end of a productive series of balls during which they had managed to clear the fence at least once.
Parthiv did not enjoy a good return to the ground where he plied his trade for three previous seasons, missing as many as three chances and when he did pouch Hussey, Rudi Koetzen turned the legitimate appeal down. Dhoni departed not long after Hussey was dismissed holing out, but CSK's batting depth — Bravo comes in at no. 8 — allowed for such sputter and choke, as Saha and Albie Morkel added 36 runs in three overs and a bit at the death.

Most-wanted list goof up, an oversight by Mumbai police: Chidambaram

Home Minister P Chidambaram today accepted the inclusion of terror accused Wazhul Kamar Khan in the list of most-wanted fugitives given to Pakistan was a "mistake". He said it was a "genuine error" by Mumbai Police and an "oversight" by the Intelligence Bureau.

 There was a mistake. We are not trying to blame anyone. We take responsibility for it," said Mr Chidambaram adding, that the Red-Corner alert should have been cancelled and Wazhul Khan's name deleted from the list.

The Home Minister said the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was not informed of Wazhul Khan's arrest by the Mumbai police. "It was also a lapse on the part of the Intelligence Bureau (IB)," admitted Mr Chidambaram.
Khan, an accused in the 2003 Mulund blasts, has been living in Thane's Waghle Estate with his mother, wife and children, after he was let out on bail, sources said. The forty-four-year-old was also involved in the 2003 Vile Parle and Ghatkopar blasts, besides the 2002 Mumbai Central station blasts.

Speaking to NDTV, Khan said, "I have never visited Pakistan. I have been living in Thane for the past 12 years." He also said that that he wasn't aware of his name being on the most wanted list that was handed to Pakistan. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Political journey of Jayalalithaa

In Tamil Nadu, the clash of the titans is all but over. 63 year old J Jayalalithaa, former matinee idol and three time Chief Minister, is back from political exile. As Amma readies to step into office for the fourth time, riding a wave of 2G scam related anti-DMK feeling, a look at the life of one of the most enigmatic politicians of India

Karnataka crisis: Yeddyurappa parades 122 MLAs, says 'majority proved'

New Delhi/Bangalore: Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa has met President Pratibha Patil and has paraded 122 MLAs before her to prove that he has the numbers in the Assembly.

The Karnataka Governor issued a press communique soon after defending his decision to recommend President's Rule in the state.

Emerging from the meeting, BJP president Nitin Gadkari said they had also requested the President to recall Karnataka Governor HR Bhardwaj. Mr Gadkari said Governor Bhardwaj's "action was unconstitutional", referring to his recommendation that President's Rule be imposed in Karnataka. Mr Gadkari pointed out that Mr Yeddyurappa "has the support of 122 MLAs" in the 225-seat Assembly.

The BJP has kept up the pressure it has built over the last two days on Mr Bhardwaj, with top leaders leaving no stone unturned to ensure that its only government in the South is saved.

Mr Bhardwaj had sent a report over the weekend recommending President's Rule in the state. (Read: Governor recommends President's Rule) The Centre, sources say, is inclined to reject Mr Bhardwaj's report, which is also being seen as a hasty act that has caused some embarrassment.

Mr Bhardwaj, who celebrates his birthday today, stayed indoors at the Raj Bhavan in Bangalore.

The Supreme Court order

The Karnataka Governor's suggestion over the weekend that President's Rule be imposed in the state was based on the Supreme Court order of last Friday, which said that 16 MLAs were disqualified incorrectly by the Speaker of the Karnataka Assembly ahead of a crucial vote of confidence that Mr Yeddyurappa narrowly survived last year. (Read: Major jolt for Yeddyurappa from Supreme Court)

The 16 MLAs include 11 from the BJP and five Independents who had supported the government, but in October 2010 said they would not support the Chief Minister during his trust vote. They were disqualified by the Speaker under anti-defection laws. This weekend, the BJP MLAs made it clear that they were backing their party. (Read: Karnataka: BJP wins over 11 rebel MLAs)

The Supreme Court, in its order of last week, had made some strong observations about the role of the Speaker and the Chief Minister in the process of disqualification of the MLAs.

"Extraneous considerations are writ large on the face of the order of the Speaker and the same has to be set aside. The Speaker, in our view, proceeded in the matter as if he was required to meet the deadline set by the Governor, irrespective of whether, in the process, he was ignoring the constitutional norms set out in the Tenth Schedule and the Disqualification Rules, 1986, and in contravention of the basic principles that go hand in hand with the concept of a fair hearing," the court said.

"There was no compulsion on the Speaker to decide the disqualification application filed by Mr. Yeddyurappa in such a great hurry within the time specified by the Governor to conduct a vote of confidence in the government headed by Mr. Yeddyurappa. It would appear that such a course of action was adopted by the Speaker on October 10, 2010, since the vote of confidence was slated for October 12, 2010. The element of hot haste is also evident in the action of the Speaker. The procedure adopted by the Speaker seems to indicate that he was trying to meet the time schedule set by the Governor for the trial of strength and to ensure that the appellants and other independent MLAs stood disqualified prior to the date on which the floor test was to be held," the court added.

Yeddyurappa's Delhi darshan

The visit to Rashtrapati Bhavan rounded off a busy day in Delhi for Mr Yeddyurappa. First on his agenda on Tuesday was a visit, he said, to party patriarch LK Advani's house "to take his blessings...Evening we will go and meet honorable President of India," he said. Mr Yeddyurappa arrived in Delhi late last night and met BJP president Nitin Gadkari and other senior party leaders.

While slamming the Governor for what they called his "unconstitutional action", both Mr Yeddyurappa and Mr Gadkari made a jibe apiece at the cost of Mr Bhardwaj. The BJP president said, "Instead of Governor, he should work as special invitee of the AICC. He should come here and work for the party."

Mr Yeddyurappa "complimented" Mr Bhardwaj for helping unite BJP. "Bhardwaj is helping us to unite and strengthen our party. I compliment him for that," he said.

On Monday, the BJP-led NDA also met the Prime Minister and, led by senior BJP leader Lal Krishna Advani, demanded the immediate recall of the Governor. Mr. Advani said, "The Prime Minister assured us that nothing unconstitutional will be done in Karnataka.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Maternal obesity 'could affect child's brain growth'

Washington: Moms-to-be, please try to shed the flab before giving birth, for a new study says that babies born to obese women are at risk for iron deficiency which may, in turn, affect infant's brain development.

In non-pregnant adults, obesity-related inflammation hinders the transport of iron through the intestine, raising the risk of iron deficiency anaemia.

But, when a woman is pregnant, iron is transferred through the intestine to the placenta, but it is not known how maternal obesity affects newborn iron status. Foetal iron status is important as 50 per cent of the iron needed for infant growth is obtained before birth.

In their study, researchers University of Wisconsin- Madison. analysed 281 newborn babies and their mothers. The women's body mass index was calculated before delivery, and a score of 30 or above was defined as obese. They determined infants' iron level by analysing umbilical cord blood.

The results showed evidence of impaired iron status in newborns of women who were obese.

"These findings are important because iron deficiency in infancy is associated with impaired brain development, and we should understand all risk factors for iron deficiency in infancy," said lead researcher Pamela J Kling.

The researchers are investigating why obesity during pregnancy is a risk factor for poorer iron status at birth.

"In non-pregnant adults, obesity has been linked to poorer dietary iron absorption and to diabetes, so both factors may contribute. Additionally, the link may be due to larger foetuses, because obesity during pregnancy results in larger foetuses, and iron needs are proportional to foetal size," she said.


Medical interns begin hunger strike

The interns began their indefinite hunger strike near KEM hospital in Mumbai.
There are around 2,060 interns in medical colleges across the state.
Around 500 interns have undertaken relay fasting while the rest would be on hunger strike indefinitely till the demands are fulfilled, their representative Guru Raj said.
"We are demanding stipend not less than Rs 13,000 per month and an annual increment of Rs 1,000," he said.
According to doctors at the government-run KEM hospital, services would not be affected because of the strike.

Deepika Padukone can’t stop thanking her stars to have landed ‘Rana’

Mumbai: DP got the opportunity of her career by being offered to play superstar Rajnikanth’s leading lady in upcoming flick ‘Rana’. It is the first time the dusky actress will be working in a Tamil film.
She revealed her happiness at a press conference by saying, "I will not even call this a dream come true because it seemed so impossible that I did not even dream that this would happen one day.”

She is currently busy shooting a song sequence at a studio in Mumbai. She said to a daily, "Friday was my first day of shoot. We are shooting a song sequence to a number tuned by A R Rahman, the composer of the film."

Deepika has a lot of respect for Rajnikanth and considers him to be one of the legendary actors in the country. "It can`t get bigger and better than this. I`m south Indian myself and have long wanted to debut in Kollywood with a big film. Though I`ve been listening to scripts, it was when ‘Rana’ came along that I decided that this is the one for me. I think it`s destiny." Has she seen any of the Superstar`s films? "I`ve only seen ‘Robot’ till now."

So after green-eyed actress Aishwarya Rai played the leading lady to the epic star it’s now time for Deepika to get the limelight. Well we can’t agree less it is one of those big opportunities she has got in her career. And we wish the tall beauty all the very best for her dream venture.

Meet Kalki Kashyap

From the start of the ceremony right till the end, both of them seemed mesmerised by each other,” laughed Ishika Mohan Motwane. Director Vikramaditya Motwane’s photographer wife was one of the few guests at actor

Kalki Koechlin and filmmaker Anurag Kashyap’s wedding. The ceremony took place on April 30, in Ooty, the hill town where the bride’s French parents have now been living for 30 years.

No fairytale affair, the preparations were kept elegant yet simple. The ceremony began at 10.30 am, in accordance with the mahurat. A small baarat party, comprising Kashyap’s family and a few friends like the Motwanes, writer Piyush Mishra and UTV Spotboy’s ex-COO Vikas Bahl.

The ceremony was followed by a traditional vegetarian South Indian lunch. But what Kashyap was most looking forward to was the barbecue evening.“We have been relishing pure vegetarian food for two days and now the drinks and the meat will follow.”

Bollywood cheers Osama's death

The world's most wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden is dead. As US President Barack Obama confirmed the news, Bollywood stars tweeted furiously about it.

Minissha Lamba tweeted: 'Osama is Dead. 2nd term guaranteed 4 #obama. Trust American's to steal d world's attn away from d #RoyalWedding. Interesting timing.'

Ranvir Shorey advised the government of India: 'America leads by example again. Pakistan lies through its teeth again. India clueless again. Dear Govt. of India, in the middle of your bickering with Pakistan, I have two words for you: DAWOOD IBRAHIM.'

Shekhar Kapur agreed with him. 'Osama became the mythical dark force that the US rallied against. It no longer matters tht he is/was dead or alive. Surely US would have wanted Osama alive not dead. Something wrong. Hope Indian Govt gets Dawood alive. If they have nothing 2 hide,' he wrote.

Punit Malhotra, on the other hand, wanted the Indian government to hang Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab. 'So they finally kill Osama 90kms from Islamabad. You really think the ISI wasn't hiding him??? He stayed near a military base!!! Anyway, cheers to the US. They finally managed to do what everyone had given up on... perhaps a lesson for India? They go to Osama & kill him. We on the other hand have made Afzal and Kasab our guests. Wonder when we will hang them??? Will we ever be able to go in and kill the 26/11 planners??? Feels strangely good to see a dead Osama but feel the war isn't over,' he wrote.

Rahul Bose tweeted: 'Am hoping a sense of balance is maintained in the US at the osama news. Closure is good, revenge isn't.'

Ameesha Patel couldn't believe the news. 'Hope the news is true about osama being dead. N it isn't an impostor that monster capable of anything,' she wrote.

Ram Gopal Varma cheered the US. 'Whatever the future of terrorism is after the death of osama I am right now so very very very happy fr America..3000 CHEERS!!!'

Dino Morea felt Osama is still alive. 'Hello Tweeps, strange feeling Osama still lurking somewhere, and planning something bigger,' he updated.

Madhur Bhandarkar felt that the world could finally rest in peace. 'Since Osama Bin Laden is dead, now may the World Rest in Peace (R.I.P),' he updated.

Mahesh Bhatt wanted Geroge Bush to be hanged. 'While you 'rightfully' celebrate the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Who will hang the other terrorist GEORGE 'BUTCHER' BUSH,' he tweeted.

RIM announces new BlackBerry Bold

T-Mobile USA said it will carry the BlackBerry Bold 9900 later this year.

Research in Motion is under pressure to update its high-end phones as it's losing out to iPhones and phones running Google Inc.'s Android software. Last week, the company cut its earnings and sales forecasts for the current quarter, saying it's selling fewer and cheaper phones than expected. Its stock plummeted. The fall continued Monday, with the shares losing 55 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $48.10.

Like the original Bold, launched in 2008, the 9900 has a keyboard under a 2.8-inch-screen in landscape orientation. It's thinner than before, at just 10.5 millimeters, making it the thinnest BlackBerry yet.

RIM calls the new software BlackBerry 7 OS and says it provides an easier and faster user experience, with an updated Web browser.

The new phone will come in two versions: one for the type of network used by T-Mobile USA and AT&T, and the other for the type used by Sprint Nextel Corp. and Verizon Wireless. T-Mobile USA is the only carrier to announce that it will carry the phone, so far.

RIM demonstrated the phone on the first day of its BlackBerry World conference in Orlando, Fla.

ISRO develops India's fastest supercomputer

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has built India's fastest supercomputer in terms of theoretical peak performance —220 trillion floating point operations per second (FLOPS).

K. Radhakrishnan, ISRO Chairman, inaugurated the supercomputer, SAGA-220, at the newly established supercomputing facility, named after Satish Dhawan, of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre here on Monday.

Space scientists are using SAGA-220 (Supercomputer for Aerospace with GPU Architecture-220 TeraFLOPS) for solving complex aerospace problems.

The supercomputer was fully designed and built by the space centre using commercially available hardware and open-source software components. The system uses as many as 400 NVIDIA Tesla 2070 graphic processing units (GPUs) and an equal number of Intel Quad Core Xeon central processing units (CPUs), supplied by WIPRO, with a high-speed interconnect.

With each GPU and CPU providing a performance of 500 GigaFLOPS and 50 GigaFLOPS, respectively, the theoretical peak performance of the system amounts to 220 TeraFLOPS. The GPU-based system offers significant advantage over the conventional CPU-based system in terms of cost, power, and space requirements.

An official release said the supercomputer cost about Rs.14 crore. The system was environmentally green and consumed only 150 kW of power. This system could be easily scaled to many PetaFLOPS (1,000 TeraFLOPS), it added.

India asks Reliance to boost gas output with more wells

Gas production from a key block off the east coast operated by Reliance Industries has fallen further, the upstream regulator said on Monday, adding the company has been asked to drill 11 new wells by April 1, 2012, to boost output.

Reliance is pumping less gas than it should from the D6 block of Krishna-Godavari basin, the second biggest gas producer in India after Mumbai High. It was supposed to drill nine wells in this fiscal year.

Upstream Regulator SK Srivastava said Reliance has now been asked to drill two extra wells that it failed to drill in 2010/11.

Srivastva said Reliance was currently producing 48 Mmscmd gas from the D6 block, adding it would meet Reliance officials later this month to discuss the fall in gas output.

"In a week or two we will be meeting again and the operator has been asked to come up with the proposal to drill wells as per the plan," Srivastava told reporters after a meeting with Reliance executives.

On April 21, Srivastava said Reliance was producing 50 Mmscmd from the block.

"From the government's perspective gas production was the main issue. We deliberated with the operator about drilling more wells and bringing up the production," he said.

Reliance offered no comments, saying they were not aware of the details of Monday's meeting with the regulator.

The company, which has agreed a broad parternship with multinational BP on field development in a deal worth USD 7.2 billion, said in March it wanted to work to overcome "the technical challenge involved in these complex reservoirs."

Srivastava said last month Reliance had not given a satisfactory reason for the shortfall. Reliance has drilled 20 of the 22 wells it was supposed to in FY11.

The concerns over Reliance's gas production have for months dampened growth outlook for the Indian energy giant and kept its shares under pressure.

India may have to step up imports of costlier Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to meet the shortfall.

Meanwhile, Srivastava said to CNBC-TV18, "We have deliberated at length with the operator about drilling the wells and bringing up the production. in this meeting opeartor has said that he'll be coming up with the proposal for drilling the well shortly and we will be having another meeting in maybe a week or 2 weeks't ime with the operator."

Osama’s wife was human shield against raiders

One of Osama bin Laden’s wives stood between him and U.S. Navy SEALs as the world’s most-wanted terrorist was gunned down in an airborne assault on the al-Qaeda leader’s safe house deep in Pakistan. He was holed up less than a mile (1.6 kilometres) from the country’s military academy and not far from the capital of Islamabad.

Details emerged Monday of the life and dramatic death of bin Laden, the day after President Barack Obama made the stunning near-midnight announcement that the al-Qaeda leader had been killed.

Mr. Obama, while assured bin Laden probably was in the compound, did not know with certainty that the 10-year hunt for the notorious son of a Saudi Arabian construction magnate was at an end until his body was carried to one of four U.S. Special Operations helicopters that had ferried in the American force deep inside Pakistan. One of the craft was damaged on landing and blown up before the return journey to Afghanistan.

On Monday the President said the terrorist mastermind’s death was “a good day for America.”

The administration said DNA testing administered on the body before it was buried at sea from the deck of the USS Carl in the North Arabian Sea confirmed the man killed was indeed bin Laden.

Photo analysis by the CIA, confirmation by a woman believed to be one of bin Laden’s wives on site, and matching physical features like bin Laden’s height all helped confirmed the identification. White House officials were deciding the merits and appropriateness of releasing a photo of bin Laden’s body. He was shot above his left eye, blowing away part of his skull.

“The world is safer. It is a better place because of the death of Osama bin Laden,” Mr. Obama said, although security officials in the U.S. and around the globe warned against retaliatory al-Qaeda attacks.

Mr. Obama hailed the pride of those who broke joined overnight celebrations as the stunning news spread around the globe. Crowds celebrated throughout the night outside the White House and at ground zero in Lower Manhattan where the Twin Towers once stood. Mr. Obama was planning to visit there on Thursday and meet with the families of those killed nearly 10 years ago, an administration official said.

Both Mr. Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said cooperation from the Pakistani government had helped lead U.S. forces to the compound where he died. But a cloud of suspicion hangs over Pakistan, where authorities have routinely denied bin Laden was in the country. U.S. officials, however, said the sprawling bin Laden compound, with its elaborate security and 18-foot (5.5-meter) walls, was built in 2005, apparently to served as the terrorist leader’s safe house.

Unanswered is the obvious question of how bin Laden could have gone unnoticed just down the road from the country’s equivalent of the U.S. military academy at West Point, New York, in a town swarming with military and intelligence personnel.

“People have been referring to this as hiding in plain sight,” Mr. Obama’s counterterrorism chief John Brennan told reporters Monday. “Clearly, this was something that was considered as a possibility. Pakistan is a large country. We are looking right now at how he was able to hold out there for so long and whether or not there was any type of support system within Pakistan that allowed him to stay there.”

Others were more blunt.

Sen. Carl Levin, Democratic chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the Pakistani Army and intelligence agency “have a lot of questions to answer, given the location, the length of time and the apparent fact that this was actually -- this facility was actually built for bin Laden, and its closeness to the central location of the Pakistani army.”

In addition to bin Laden, one of his sons, Khalid, was killed in the raid, Brennan said. Bin Laden’s wife was shot in the calf but survived, a U.S. official said. Also killed were two of bin Laden’s al-Qaeda facilitators, including the one who was apparently listed as the owner of the residence, Brennan said.

Mr. Obama gave preliminary orders for the attack on Friday shortly before flying to Alabama to inspect tornado damage, and aides set to work on the details. He gave the final directive Sunday. Brennan called it one of the “gutsiest calls of any president in recent memory.”

MR. Brennan said the president and his national security team monitored the raid from the White House Situation Room and expressed relief that elite forces had finally gotten bin Laden without losing any more American lives.

“It was probably one of the most anxiety-filled periods of time in the lives of the people who were assembled here,” Brennan said. “The minutes passed like days.”

Brennan strongly suggested a live video feed had been available -- SEALs customarily have video cameras attached to their helmets -- and the White House released a photo showing the commander in chief, Vice President Joe Biden and top aides staring intently at something outside the picture. The White House did not say what they were looking at.

Mr. Obama on Monday reaped accolades from world leaders he’d kept in the dark about the operation as well as plaudits from political opponents at home. Republican and Democratic congressional leaders alike gave him a standing ovation at an evening meeting that was planned before the assault but became a celebration of its success.

The dramatic developments came just months ahead of the 10-year anniversary of the hijacked-airliner assaults on the United States. Those attacks took nearly 3,000 lives, led the U.S. into war in Afghanistan and Iraq and forever pierced the notion that the most powerful country on earth could not be hit on such a ferocious scale.

Officials say CIA interrogators in secret overseas prisons in Eastern Europe developed the first strands of information that ultimately led to the killing of bin Laden. Intelligence officials have long known that bin Laden trusted one al-Qaeda courier in particular, and they believed he might be living with him in hiding. Four years ago, the United States learned the man’s identity, which officials did not disclose, and then about two years later, they identified areas of Pakistan where he operated. Last August, the man’s residence was found, officials said.

By mid-February, intelligence from multiple sources was clear enough that Mr. Obama wanted to pursue action, a senior administration official said. Over the next two and a half months, the president led five meetings of the National Security Council focused solely on whether bin Laden was in that compound and, if so, how to get him, the official said.

Once under way, four helicopters ferried the U.S. forces to the Abbottabad compound, lowered the SEALS behind the walls and began descending toward a landing. No shots were fired, but shortly after the team hit the ground, one of the helicopters came crashing down and rolled onto its side for reasons the government has yet to explain. None of the SEALs was injured, however, and the mission continued uninterrupted. The crippled aircraft was destroyed before the raiding party flew out in the three remaining helicopters.

U.S. officials have not explained how they managed to secretly fly four helicopters across the Pakistan border to near the capital and into a military garrison city that was home to the country’s military academy. What’s more, it remained unclear how the SEAL team was able to conduct what was described as a 40-minute mission, including a fire fight and the explosives destruction of a helicopter, without the Pakistan military or police intervening.

Bin Laden’s death came 15 years after he declared war on the United States. Al-Qaeda was also blamed for the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa that killed 224 people and the 2000 attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 American sailors in Yemen, as well as countless other plots, some successful and some foiled.

The greatest terrorist threat to the U.S. is now considered to be the al-Qaeda franchise in Yemen, far from al-Qaeda’s core in Pakistan. The Yemen branch almost took down a U.S.-bound airliner on Christmas 2009 and nearly detonated explosives aboard two U.S. cargo planes last fall. Those operations were carried out without any direct involvement from bin Laden.

Retaliatory attacks against the U.S. and Western targets could come from members of al-Qaeda’s core branch in the tribal areas of Pakistan, al-Qaeda franchises in other countries or radicalized individuals in the U.S. with al-Qaeda sympathies, according to a Homeland Security Department intelligence alert issued Sunday and obtained by The Associated Press.

A prominent al-Qaeda commentator vowed revenge for bin Laden’s death. “Woe to his enemies. By God, we will avenge the killing of the Sheik of Islam,” he wrote under his online name Assad al-Jihad2. “Those who wish that jihad has ended or weakened, I tell them- Let us wait a little bit.”

As quickly as bin Laden’s supporters vowed to avenge his death, administration officials worked to undermine his reputation.

“Here is bin Laden, who has been calling for these (terror) attacks, living in this million-dollar-plus compound, living in an area that is far removed from the front, hiding behind women who were put in front of him as a shield. I think it really just speaks to just how false his narrative has been over the years,” Brennan said.

India set for ninth rate hike to cool inflation

AFP - India, which has the highest inflation of any large Asian economy, looked set on Tuesday to hike interest rates for a ninth time as it struggles to clamp down on inflation.

The central bank, which warned Monday of the "risk to growth from sustained high inflation," has raised rates eight times since March 2010, albeit in gradual, quarter-point steps to minimise the impact on economic growth.

But inflation has remained high and some economists expect Reserve Bank of India (RBI) policymakers to move more aggressively when they meet Tuesday.

"A 50-basis-point rate rise wouldn't surprise me -- inflation is proving stubbornly difficult to reduce," Deepak Lalwani, head of London-based India investment consultancy Lalcap, told AFP.

"It's time to step it up," agreed HSBC chief India economist Leif Eskesen.

Others bet the bank will stick to its "slowly, slowly approach" and only hike by a quarter point as it seeks to balance growth and inflation concerns.

The RBI meeting comes after data in April showed inflation had surged to nearly nine percent.

The central bank said in a report on the economy released Monday that it was important for monetary policy "to ensure a low inflation environment as a pre-condition for sustained high growth," stoking expectations of a rate hike.

It also warned that rising global energy and commodity prices may fuel inflationary pressures "and constitute significant medium-term risk."

The Asian Development Bank has said controlling inflation must be the Asian region's top priority as strong growth, turmoil in the Middle East and Japan's nuclear crisis drive up food and oil prices.

Asian economies from South Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan to China are all battling inflationary pressures.

But some economists are concerned that India's central bank may push too hard on the brakes.

The benchmark repurchase, or repo rate, at which the bank lends to commercial banks, is 6.75 percent while the reverse repo, paid to banks for deposits, is 5.75 percent.

"The bottom line is the central bank needs to act but it should not go overboard," said CLSA economist Rajeev Malik. "It must avoid a repeat of the mid-1990s outcome of killing inflation by crippling growth."

The government has said it expects the economy to expand by nine percent in the current fiscal year, returning to levels it reached before the global financial crisis.

But there are already fears that Asia's third-largest economy will undershoot the target because of interest rate increases.

Investment house Goldman Sachs has slashed its growth forecast for the year to March 2012 to 7.8 percent from 8.7 percent. Credit Suisse has trimmed its expansion forecast to 7.5 percent.

Jihadists: bin Laden death will not mute Jihad call

(Reuters) - Members of Jihadist forums said they prayed the news of Osama bin Laden's death was not true, and hinted at retaliation if it was, in some of the first Islamist reaction to the al Qaeda leader's death.

"Oh God, please make this news not true...God curse you Obama," said one message on an Arabic language forum. "Oh Americans ... it is still legal for us to cut your necks."

"Osama may be killed but his message of Jihad will never die. Brothers and sisters, wait and see, his death will be a blessing in disguise," said a poster on another Islamist forum.

Residents of upscale suburb incredulous wanted terrorist was in their midst

No one in the affluent Bilal Town suburb where Osama bin Laden seemed to suspect his presence here. Nor did they see the possibility that a wanted terrorist, let alone the most hunted man in the world, could live so close to one of its famed military institutions.

A suburb with large, sometimes garish houses, Bilal Town is one of the most upscale neighbourhoods of Abbottabad, a vacation spot set in the Himalayan foothills and a two-hour drive from the capital, Islamabad, Unlike most north-west cities, the population of Abbottabad, which was founded by a British colonial administrator in 1853, are ethnic Hazaras, not Pashtuns.

Osama bin Laden’s last stand was in a large house less than a mile from the Pakistan Military Academy, where the country’s top brass trains, including former president Pervez Musharraf.

On the streets of Abbottabad, there was no visible reaction to events. Shops remained open. Residents went about their usual business. Fareed Alam, a 39-year-old employee of a non-governmental organization, said that if people believed that bin Laden was really dead, “You’d see the fire on the streets.”

Though Bin Laden’s white, roomy three-storey house has an unusually high boundary wall, outside its fences it did not stand out in a neighbourhood of oversized houses built to accommodate extended families that tend to live together in Pakistan.

But there was a little mystery. Neighbours said that two men, ethnic Pashtuns, would emerge from the house but did not mingle with locals. Some suggested that they were brothers and had lived there for five years or more. But they were many other Pashtuns in Abbottabad, so they wouldn’t have stood out.

Nor would they guess the duo could be connected to Mr. bin Laden. “This is such a sensitive place, with the military academy just across the road. Also the (intelligence) agencies are all over here,” said Azhar Khan, 32, who works for a non-governmental organization.

Mr. Khan said that he believed that bin Laden was “created by America” and he was probably actually killed long ago.

Other residents were angry that a burial at sea – bin Laden’s body was reportedly dumped in the ocean – was not in accordance with an Islamic burial; others demanded proof that the dead man was the al-Qaeda leader.

The bin Laden house did not look damaged from the outside. A cloth screen had been put up on one side of the compound Monday morning by the military, obscuring the view where the helicopter was said to be destroyed.

Pakistani soldiers and police stood guard around the area and stopped anyone from approaching the house.

America's Most Wanted: Osama Bin Laden Killed After 13-Year Hunt

The United States had been trying to kill Osama bin Laden for 13 years, since the administration of President Bill Clinton.

"Bin Laden has been our national enemy self declared for far longer than any one person in our history," said Richard Clarke, an ABC News contributor who served as a counterterrorism advisor to Clinton and both presidents Bush.

For years the trail had gone cold, some thought he had left the region and Pakistani officials even claimed bin Laden must be dead. In the end he was found in a house where he may have been living for as many as six years, almost next door to Pakistani military installations and less than 100 miles from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.

The son of a prominent and wealthy Saudi family, bin Laden first went to Afghanistan to fight the Russians but then turned on the United States.

On his orders thousands died, in the 1998 attacks on two U.S. embassies in Africa, in the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000, and the 9/11 attacks of which he seemed so proud. Bin Laden boasted on tape that "We calculated in advance the number of casualties."

The discovery of bin Laden's hiding place in a million-dollar mansion in Pakistan was the result of a masterful CIA intelligence operation that focused on the courier who was his connection to the outside world.

"We had to piece it together," explained John Brennan, counterterrorism advisor to President Obama, "get [the courier's] nom de guerre, associate it with a real name and track it until we got to the compound."

Every video or audio message recorded by bin Laden went by courier, so each new message became an opportunity for the CIA to find him.

"That was his Achilles heel," said John Nagl, president of the Center for a New American Security and former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army. "We were able to use the information provided by tracking his couriers to hunt him down and bring him to justice."

U.S. officials say detainees held at Guantanamo helped lead them to the courier.

In one early clue, according to a secret Pentagon cable made public by Wikileaks, senior Al Qaeda commander Abu al Libi told interrogators he became "the official messenger" for bin Laden and for a year in 2003 "moved his family to Abbottabad, Pakistan" -- the city near Islamabad where bin Laden was killed Sunday.

By August of last year, the CIA had a sharp focus on a newly built compound in the Abbottabad, suspicious of its large size and extensive security features, including a seven-foot wall on the terrace so the very tall bin Laden could be outside without being seen.

A family of the same size as bin Laden's was seen here, although bin Laden himself was never actually spotted.

But since August he had sent out, at least two new taped messages. One of them, remarkably, last October, focused on the severe flooding that had just occurred in the Abbottabad region.

Bin Laden had long been said to be in the mountainous region along the Afghanistan, Pakistan border, hiding in a cave as the U.S. sought to kill him with drone strikes from above. Instead, he was in a house with many peculiar features that brought it to the attention of U.S. authorities.

After locating the Al Qaeda courier in 2009 and then tracking him to the structure in 2010, the CIA noted that the house, built in 2005, had high exterior walls topped with barbed wire, high windows and few points of access. Residents burned their trash instead of putting it out. U.S. officials wondered if the extra seven-foot-high wall on a third-floor terrace was built to shield a man as tall as bin Laden, whose height was estimated at between 6'4" and 6'6".

The CIA began to believe that a high-value target was in the house. A CIA "red team" assigned to assess the house decided that it could well be sheltering bin Laden, even though he'd never been seen in the compound.

The CIA was responsible for "finding" and "fixing" the target, said a U.S. official, and the military "finished" the job.

According to U.S. officials, the Navy's SEAL Team Six practiced the assault in a replica of the compound built inside the United States.

Late Sunday night local time, two U.S. helicopters from Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and carrying Team Six SEALs flew in low from Afghanistan and swept into the compound. As CIA director Leon Panetta listened in, the Navy SEALs stormed the compound and engaged bin Laden and his men in a firefight, killing bin Laden and all those with him.

Two Bin Laden couriers were killed, as was Osama Bin Laden's son Khalid and a woman. Two women were injured. Children were present in the compound but were not harmed. U.S. officials said that bin Laden was asked to surrender but did not. He was shot in the head and then shot again to make sure he was dead.

The raid began on the smaller of two buildings in the compound, where the couriers were believed to live. The raid then moved to the larger three-story building. The couriers were killed downstairs, while bin Laden was upstairs.

After the raid, blood covered the floor of one room to the right inside the sprawling larger structure. In another room to the left that held a small kitchenette, broken computers could be seen, minus their hard drives. The SEALs also recovered papers, CDs, laptops, which were taken away for analysis.

One of the U.S. Blackhawk helicopters was damaged but not destroyed during the operation, and U.S. forces elected to destroy it themselves with explosives. At least a dozen individuals who were present in the compound were left flex cuffed by the side of the road by the SEALs when they departed, according to a senior administration official.

The Americans took bin Laden's body into custody after the firefight, taking it back to Afghanistan by helicopter, and confirmed his identity. His DNA matched DNA taken from multiple bin Laden relatives with almost 100 percent certainty, and his body was found to be more than 6'4". He was also identified by two women at the compound after he was killed, and via facial recognition analysis from photos sent back to CIA headquarters.

A U.S. official said bin Laden was later buried at sea in accordance with Islamic practice at 2 a.m. Washington time. Bin Laden's body was taken to the U.S.S. Carl Vinson, a U.S. aircraft carrier in the North Arabian Sea, according to officials. His body was washed and wrapped in the prescribed way. A military officer read religious remarks that were translated by a native Arabic speaker before bin Laden's remains were sent into the deep.

Remarkably, bin Laden was hiding almost under the nose of the Pakistani military, which has a major garrison in Abbottabad and the Pakistani version of West Point. A senior U.S. official says the U.S. government believes that bin Laden may have been living in the house ever since it was built in 2005.

Panel proposes ‘principles and objects' for Lokpal Bill

New Delhi, May 2:  Civil society members on the Lokpal Bill joint drafting committee have submitted two documents outlining “principles and objects” for the proposed law.

“The civil society members submitted a document with respect to the objects of the Bill as well as one that enunciated the general principles underlying the Bill,” the Human Resource Development Minister, Mr Kapil Sibal, told newspersons after the second meeting here on Monday.

Both sides agreed to reflect on the documents.

Mr Sibal said it was decided to fast-track the drafting process ahead of the June 30 deadline and the committee had agreed to meet again on May 7, 23 and 30. The committee may even meet daily in June to keep with the deadline and help the Government introduce the Bill in the Monsoon session, a panel member said.

“The meeting was very good, very cooperative. There was no difference of opinion,” Mr Sibal said.

Mr Prashant Bhushan, civil society member and lawyer, said: “The discussion was on essential features, objects and reasons of the Bill which has been prepared according to the main provisions of the UN Convention against Corruption.”

He said all signatories of the UN Convention against Corruption have to pass this kind of a law.

India signed the UN convention in 2005, but is yet to ratify it.

Back to 9/11, with forgiveness & fear Indian families sigh, don’t celebrate

May 2: For the Yambem family of Imphal, the news of Osama bin Laden’s death brought a sense of calm satisfaction. In faraway Hyderabad, the relatives of Deepika Kumar Sattaluri expressed similar sentiments.

The families of some of the NRIs who died in 9/11 were largely restrained in their reactions to the killing of the attack’s mastermind, their relief tempered by fears of reprisals.

“This is the greatest day for the family and all those against terrorism. Now that the symbol of terrorism is dead, my brother Jupiter’s soul can rest in peace,” Laba Yambem, Jupiter’s elder brother, said in Imphal.

Jupiter, then 41, was supervising breakfast at the Windows on the World, a restaurant in the North Tower of the World Trade Center, when the building was attacked. Jupiter, the manager of the eatery, died, leaving behind his American wife Nancy McCardle Yambem and their five-year-old son Shanti.

Manipur’s capital had long power cuts this morning, which meant the Yambems had not caught the news on TV. It was around 10am that a cellphone message from a friend in Delhi beeped on Laba’s cellphone.

He let out a sigh of suppressed happiness as he read the SMS: the man responsible for the death of his brother and thousands of others was finally dead.

“My first reaction was that Allah had been merciful to my brother’s soul. We can only wonder what heights Jupiter would have scaled if he were alive today,” Laba said.

Jupiter left India after he was selected as a co-ordinator at Camp America, a youth exchange programme, in 1981. He stayed back in America and married Nancy, a music therapist, and they settled in New York.

“I have mixed feelings,” Nancy said over the phone from the US this evening. “It’s a great end to a chapter, a justice that everybody in the US had been waiting for a long, long time.”

She added: “The families weren’t sure if they would ever hear this. But at the same time, it brings back memories and a lot of negativity. I just visited my son in school to see if he was feeling fine.”

So is it time for celebration for the Yambems in Imphal and New York?

“I am not very comfortable with the idea of celebrating this. My husband was murdered and killed. I know what it feels like. Although Osama needed to be brought to justice, and death was probably the only way to do it, I don’t feel comfortable with the idea of celebrating a killing,” said Nancy, who comes to Manipur every two years.

“I would not be able to live in my shoes had I not been able to forgive Osama.”

The show of emotion was restrained in Hyderabad too. Deepika’s cousin Malleshwari Deverakonda recalled her agony during the months it had taken to receive final confirmation that the 28-year-old IT professional had died in the attack while at work in her office at the World Trade Center.

“A complete list was never given and we came to know about her death only after months,” she said.

Malleshwari’s brother Gopalakrishna wasn’t sure if this was the end of terror. “I don’t know whether I should be celebrating the news of Osama’s death. Can we hope there won’t be retaliation?” Gopalakrishna, who works for an international airline, said over the phone from his home in Chicago.

Among the 41 Indians said to have died in the attack, around seven to eight traced their roots to Andhra Pradesh. Most of the state’s residents in the US are doctors and engineers.

“I am relieved at a world without Osama,” said J.A. Chowdhary, convener of the IT committee of business chamber CII’s Andhra chapter. Chowdhary said he knew “at least a dozen-odd” IT professionals working in the US at the time of 9/11.

EC stepped up security in East Midnapore after CPI(M) complaint

Ahead of the fourth phase of Assembly election in West Bengal on May 3, the Election Commission today further strengthened the security arrangement following complaints of threat and terror by the ruling Left Front.

“Security arrangement has been revamped further in East Midnapore district following complaint by the LF. There will not be any problem for any voter to exercise franchise in the presence of a huge contingent of central force and State security personnel in the districts going to poll on May 3”, West Bengal CEO Sunil Kumar Gupta said here today.

Mr. Gupta said a LF delegation led by CPI(M) leaders, Rabin Deb and Sukhendu Panigrahi, today called on him and submitted a letter, alleging “their supporters are under threat of terror by the Trinamool Congress and are not allowed to enter several areas under East Midnapore district.”

Demanding measures from the EC for the protection of the Front supporters and workers, CPI(M) leader Rabin Deb said that “without any concrete step by the EC against growing evidences of the campaign of terror and violence in East Midnapore, it is very difficult for our supporters to exercise franchise in the areas under Nandigram, Khejuri, Patashpur, Bhagabanpur, Chandipur, Contai and Moyna.”

Responding to the complaint, the CEO said that he had already ordered the district administration to act immediately to ensure safety and security of all voters irrespective of the political parties they belonged to.

“Strong security arrangement has been made in all these areas with the central force engaged in area domination, route march and flag march on the basis of vulnerability mapping”, Mr. Gupta said.

Mr. Gupta said 1.26 crore electorate will decide the fate of 366 candidates, comprising 327 male and 39 female contestants, for 63 seats under Howrah, Hooghly, East Midnapore and part of Burdwan districts during the fourth phase.

20,000 EVMs will be used in 15,711 polling stations, he said.

While maximum number of 13 candidates were at Bally in Howrah district in this phase, lowest number of three contestants were in six seats at Singur, Pursurah, Arambagh, Goghat, Khanakul and Bhagabanpur, the CEO said.

Chinsurah Assembly seat under Hooghly district had 327 polling stations, the largest in this phase, with the highest number of electorate at 2.63 lakh, while Bally seat in Howrah district had the lowest number of electorate at 1.42 lakh, Mr. Gupta said.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Better livelihood prospect drives poor Indian women to prostitution

New Delhi - Four out of five female sex workers in India have joined the profession voluntarily; they were not forced or sold into it. Prostitution is just one among several livelihood options available to women from poor backgrounds, says a new survey.

The ‘First pan-India survey of sex workers’, conducted by Pune University researchers Rohini Sahni and V Kalyan Shankar, found that 79.4 percent of sex workers (both those who entered the profession directly as well as those with prior experience in other fields) say they entered the profession on their own accord.

The remaining were forced (71. per cent), sold into prostitution (2.8 per cent) or cheated (9.2 per cent) into it. Of those who were sold, a vast majority say that it was their husbands, lovers, friends and acquaintances who sold them, very rarely blaming strangers. The preliminary report of the study (PDF) was released at the documentation centre of women’s group Akshara in Mumbai on Saturday.

The survey, commissioned by the Forum Against Oppression of Women under the aegis of the Sangli-based Centre for Advocacy on Stigma and Marginalisation, was conducted on a sample of 3,000 female sex workers and more than 2,000 male and transgender ones from 14 states and one union territory. The next leg of this survey will analyse data on abuse, stigmas, migration patterns among sex workers and special skills needed by them.

Major findings:
* 60% were from rural family backgrounds, 35% from urban family backgrounds;
* 65% were from poor family backgrounds, 26% from middle-class family backgrounds;
* 50% had no schooling, 7% had primary schooling up to class four, 13.4% had secondary schooling up to class seven, 6.5% had schooling up to class ten and 11.3% up to class twelve;
* 70% were Hindu, 20% Muslim, 6% Christian and 0.4% Buddhist;
* 26% came from Dalit backgrounds.

The survey found that while poverty and limited education are conditions that push women into sex work, poverty pushes women into other labour markets at earlier ages than in sex work. Therefore, sex work cannot be considered as singular or isolated in its links with poverty, as other occupations are pursued before sex work emerges or is considered as an option, the researchers said. Sex work may also be regarded as offering a significant supplementary income to other forms of labour. Many of those surveyed also worked in diverse occupations in the unskilled manufacturing or services sector for extremely poor wages.

The survey allowed women to express their work identities, both in sex work and out of it, providing flexibility to assert multiple work identities. In describing their working lives, a significant number of women move quite fluidly between other occupations and sex work. For example, a street vendor may search for customers while selling vegetables and a dancer at marriages may also take clients. It is not easy to demarcate women‟s work into neatly segregated compartments. Sex work and other work come together in ways that challenge the differentiation of sex work as an unusual and isolated activity.

The survey found that there was an overwhelming presence of economic reasons for women to have left their jobs in the informal markets – comprising responses such as low pay, insufficient salary, no profit in business, no regular work, seasonal work, not getting money even after work, could not run home with that income.

Sex work offers a significant premium of incomes to what unorganised labour markets offer across India. While poor family backgrounds and the need to look for incomes and livelihoods at an early age is what drives many girls and women into the un-organized labour markets, the possibility of earning higher incomes is what could be driving them into sex work. This, the researchers said, is corroborated by the fact that a large number of girls/women entered the labour markets much earlier than they entered sex work.

Sex work, therefore, cannot be considered as singular or isolated in its links with poverty, for there are other occupations as well which fit into the category of „possible livelihood options‟ before sex work emerges as one of them. Sex work is not the only site of poor working conditions. For those coming from the labour markets, they have experienced equally harsh conditions of highly labour intensive work for very low incomes. It is

Immune System 'Trigger' That Fights Disease Identified

In a welcome development, scientists are now one step closer to understanding the mysteries of how our bodies mount an immune response to fight disease.

David Underhill, an associate professor in Cedars-Sinai's Inflammatory Bowel and Immunobiology Research Institute and colleagues have discovered how a molecular receptor on the surface of white blood cells identifies when invading fungi have established direct contact with the cell surface and pose an infectious threat.

The receptor called Dectin-1 detects fungi and instructs white blood cells whether to expend the energy needed to devour the invading pathogens.

In early stages of infection, white blood cells patrol the body looking for invading pathogens. Dectin-1, a receptor on the surface of white blood cells, recognizes specific components of fungal cell walls, and alerts or "switches on" the immune cells to prepare to fight the infection.

The study helps explain how immune cells determine when pathogens are directly in contact with their surface and thus pose a significantly greater risk, demanding rapid destruction, the researchers said.

The findings were recently published in the journal Nature.


Obese people help thin friends gain weight!

London: Do our friends make us fatter? Yes, according to a new study which has found that thin people who socialise with the obese can put on weight.

But, here is the good news. The process can work in reverse too theoretically, says the study.

For the study, a team, led by Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, examined 32 years of data collected during a research of people`s hearts in Framingham in Massachusetts.

Researchers discovered that where two people who are friends for a long time, and where one is heavier than the other, the thinner friend tended to increase in weight by up to 57 per cent over time.

The figure was made more even more stark when compared to the likelihood of the same happening between genetic relations -- 40 per cent -- and spouses, where the weight increase is an average of 37 per cent.

As an example of how it affects people who aren`t friends, the researchers studied the weights of neighbours and found no link in weight increase.

"I think our findings reinforced the idea that because people are interconnected, their health is interconnected," Dr Christakis was quoted by the `Daily Mail` as saying.

The process could also help obese people lose weight.

Dr Christakis said: "The same kind of phenomenon that contributes to an obesity epidemic could potentially -- potentially -- be harnessed to contribute to a reversal of the epidemic, because it`s equally the case that one person losing weight contributes to others around them losing weight."

At a basic level the results also seem to show that fatter people stick together, as do skinny people.


42.1 million viewers in India watched the royal wedding

New Delhi : The market share of English news channels increased by 15 percent as an estimated 42.1 million viewers in India watched the royal wedding between Prince Williams and Kate Middleton Friday, said rating agency Audience Measurement and Analytics Ltd (aMap).

The surprise element of the rating was the viewership among housewives jumping by 25 percent.

"Viewership among housewives increased as they were glued to the watch every detail of the wedding ceremony, the designer clothing and the grand affair," Jiniti Shah, vice president, aMap said in a statement Saturday.


Royal wedding: official photographer reveals how he achieved 'effortless' pictures

The official pictures of William and Kate's wedding were shot to show two families coming together and reveal the couple's love for each other, the photographer Hugo Burnand has said.

Speaking at Clarence House in London, Hugo Burnand said he hoped it looked ''effortless, relaxed and friendly''.

He said his favourite photograph was one of the newlyweds with the bridesmaids and page boys, but there were only seconds to set it up and the children were coaxed with promises of jelly beans and sweets.

The pictures, taken in Buckingham Palace's throne room immediately after the bride and groom arrived from Westminster Abbey, capture the Royal Family and the Middletons in rapturous mood.

Mr Burnand said: ''Amazingly it was a family wedding.

''From where I was and from their point of view it was two families coming together and that was the feeling, the sense of family and love going between everyone.

''They had their own buzz. Everyone had their own buzz. It was that excitement that I hope you feel at most weddings.''

Asked about his technique, he said: ''I hope it looks effortless and relaxed and friendly and smiley because that is how it was.

''But that comes from months of preparation, hours of setting up, and being so organised that you are sort of in control at the time.''

Mr Burnand had only a short period of time between the couple's arrival at Buckingham Palace and their appearance on the balcony to take the official photographs.

He said: ''I hope when you look at the picture you feel, as a viewer, that you're engaged with the people in the picture. The only way to do that is to be engaged as a photographer.''

Bridesmaid Grace van Cutsem, the new Duke of Cambridge's three-year-old goddaughter, won hearts at the wedding when she was pictured on the balcony with her hands over her ears.

Mr Burnand said he had met and photographed her as a bridesmaid before.

He said: ''When she walked in I was able to go straight up to her and talk to her about the last time we had met and explain to her it was the same thing and she knew what was going to happen.

''She was great. She's so adorable, Grace.

''They were all fantastic actually. A bit cheeky some of them, but we like that.''

Mr Burnand was red-eyed and emotional as he talked about his favourite picture.

He said: ''It was a picture we all wanted to take but we didn't know if we were ever going to have the time to do it.

''If things hadn't gone really smoothly we would never have got to that picture.

''We had seconds to put that picture together.''

But he said that, because he had discussed with his team and everyone in the picture knew what they were going to have to do, they were able to rush into position.

''Those children came in - there was a promise of sweets and jelly beans - but they knew what they had to do.

''When you look at those individual children in that picture you are seeing those children and their characters.

''That's the same with the bride and groom in the middle of the picture as well. That's really them. There's no time for direction, we've done all that.''

Sony executives bow in apology for security breach

TOKYO — Sony executives bowed in apology Sunday for a security breach in the company's PlayStation Network that compromised the personal data of some 77 million accounts on the online service.

"We deeply apologize for the inconvenience we have caused," said Kazuo Hirai, chief of Sony Corp.'s PlayStation video game unit, who was among the three executives who held their heads low for several seconds at the company's Tokyo headquarters in the traditional style of a Japanese apology.

Hirai said parts of the service would be back this week and that the company would beef up security measures. But he and other executives acknowledged that not enough had been done in security precautions, and promised that the company's network services were under a basic review to prevent a recurrence.

Hirai said the FBI and other authorities had been contacted to start an investigation into what the company called "a criminal cyber attack" on Sony's data centre in San Diego, California.

Sony said account information, including names, birth dates, email addresses and log-in information, was compromised for players using its PlayStation Network. Hirai asked all users to change their passwords.

Hirai reiterated what the company said last week -- that even though it had no direct evidence the data were even taken, it cannot rule out the possibility.

He said data from 10 million credit cards were believed to be involved, and that Sony still does not know whether information was stolen.

Sony has added software monitoring and enhanced data protection and encryption as new security measures, he said. The company said it would offer "welcome back" freebies such as complimentary downloads and 30 days of free service around the world to show remorse and appreciation.

"I see my work as first making sure Sony can regain the trust from our users," Hirai said.

The network, which serves both the PlayStation video game machines and Sony's Qriocity movie and music services, has been shut down since April 20. It is a system that links gamers worldwide in live play, and also allows users to upgrade and download games and other content.

Hirai said Sony suspected it was under attack by hackers starting April 17.

According to Sony, of the 77 million PlayStation Network accounts, about 36 million are in the U.S. and elsewhere in the Americas, while 32 million are in Europe and 9 million in Asia, mostly in Japan.

Pressure is mounting on Sony to restore services and compensate players.

U.S. lawmakers have sent a letter to Hirai demanding answers by May 6 about the security breach and Sony's response.

Hirai said he had read the online version of the letter and would answer the questions as soon as possible.

Last month, U.S. lawyers filed a lawsuit against Sony on behalf of lead plaintiff Kristopher Johns for negligent protection of personal data and failure to inform players in a timely fashion that their credit card information may have been stolen. The lawsuit seeks class-action status.

Hirai said the network problems would not hurt or delay Sony's product plans, including a tablet device that looks like Apple's iPad, an upgrade to the PlayStation Portable and a gradual global rollout of the Qriocity service.

Hirai also denied Sony had purposely held off on releasing information about network problems, a criticism that some have expressed.

He said the service was shut down to prevent damage, and that time was needed to find out what had happened and who was responsible.

But Yoh Mikami, a writer specializing in electronic security in Japan, said Sony's network business had suffered a serious blow as people were seeing its reliability as plunging. He said Sony also waited too long, more than a week, to tell users what had happened.

"What became clear today is that Sony didn't even know its server had a vulnerability," said Mikami. "Sony's crisis management came too little, too late."

Experts: Apple should've addressed concerns sooner

NEW YORK — Apple should have responded much sooner to concerns about location data stored on its iPhones, even if the company didn't have all the answers ready, marketing and crisis-management experts say.

The company took a week to deny that the phones track the precise location of their owners, as some users and privacy watchdogs had feared.

As soon as it started selling the devices, Apple should have said how it uses, or doesn't use, location data, said Joe Marconi, a DePaul University marketing professor and author of "Crisis Marketing: When Bad Things Happen to Good Companies."

"The whole problem could have been a non-problem if Apple had done some kind of disclosure of this in some kind of a privacy statement," he said. "Apple customers are fiercely loyal in a way we can say few (others) are today. With that comes a responsibility."

In a list of 10 questions and answers published Wednesday, the company explained that a data file publicized last week by security researchers doesn't store iPhone users' physical locations — just a list of Wi-Fi hotspots and cell towers surrounding them.

Apple said the data help phones figure out their location without having to listen for faint signals from GPS satellites.

The company did acknowledge that the data are stored for up to a year because of a software bug. It promised a fix in the coming weeks to reduce the duration of the storage.

Larry L. Smith, president of the Institute for Crisis Management, a public relations company, said Apple should have said something sooner in some form, even if it didn't have all the details right away.

"To me there is no excuse to stonewall, to put off facing your customers, your partners, your shareholders, your employees," he said. "When there is a problem, or an issue has been raised, it's so counterproductive to put off responding."

Even a response of "I don't know; I will get back to you" is better than none, he said. "You are not always going to have immediate answers."

Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris would not comment on why the company waited to respond.

Speaking to The New York Times, CEO Steve Jobs defended the timing of Apple's response, saying that the company wanted to determine exactly what happened rather than rush to its public relations department.

"The first thing we always do when a problem is brought to us is we try to isolate it and find out if it is real," he said. "It took us about a week to do an investigation and write a response, which is fairly quick for something this technically complicated."

Jobs, who went on medical leave in January, said he was personally involved in writing Wednesday's response, as were other top executives, "because we think it is that important."

Despite all the hoopla, Smith said he doesn't expect Apple's latest blunder to hurt the company in the long run.

Apple quickly recovered from "antennagate," a problem with the iPhone 4's antenna design. It caused reception issues when people covered a certain spot with a bare hand.

Jobs apologized last July to people who were not completely satisfied with the iPhone 4, but denied there was an antenna problem that needed fixing. Even so, the company gave out free protective cases. "Antennagate" didn't seem to make a dent in the iPhone's popularity or sour Apple's devoted fan base.

And, Smith said, the "flap over data won't do the harm today that it might have done a few years ago when our attention span was a little longer. Somebody else will do something stupid tomorrow."

Companies that handle public relations crises well are not remembered long — that's the whole point. But Apple might learn from fast food companies such as Domino's Pizza and Taco Bell.

When video of a Domino's employee appearing to do disgusting things to food appeared on YouTube, Domino's responded by firing that person and the co-worker who recorded him. Later, CEO Patrick Doyle posted a video in response, saying the store had been sanitized "top to bottom" and that the company is re-examining how it hires workers "to make sure that people like this don't make it into our stores."

Taco Bell, meanwhile, spent millions of dollars on ads to counter a lawsuit that questioned whether the filling in its tacos was actually beef. The lawsuit has been dropped.

Smith said Taco Bell realized their taco customers were mostly men who bought it for the taste and price, not for its nutritional value.

Similarly, Apple might find that many users don't mind their location being tracked because this allows them to get directions, find nearby restaurants and use a slew of other apps and features of the iPhone. In Wednesday's statement, Apple said the data file in question helps speed location-based services.

Delhi Metro to use longer girders to expedite construction

To save time and conform to the latest international technologies, the Delhi Metro will use 25-metre long girders on some of the elevated viaducts to be constructed for the ambitious Phase-III, work on which will begin after the Union Government approves the project.

Using 25-metre long girders in the Phase-III will save time as well as minimise the inconvenience caused to people during the construction of the project, which will see another 107 km of the national capital getting connected with the Metro.

Delhi Metro had used 25-metre long girders in constructing the Airport Express Corridor, which was completed in just 27 months. In the Phase-II, DMRC used 4-6 metre long girders for construction which takes more time.

“These 25-metre girders are precast in the casting yards, brought to the site on trailers and launched with the help of cranes which takes lesser time than the conventional segmental launching technique involving the use of launching girders,” DMRC spokesman Anuj Dayal said.

The use of the 25 metre girders will help DMRC expedite construction work in the stretches where the movement of trailers and cranes is possible.

Due to this, Mr. Dayal said, the number of traffic diversions and barricading on the roads will be of lesser durations.

For the construction of longer spans, which will come up over traffic intersections, the 25 metre girders will rest on specially designed pier caps cantilevering towards the tracks on both the sides, Mr. Dayal said.

Custom designed concrete decks will be put on the top of these pier caps to bridge the gap between the 25 metre long girders.

The Phase-III has been cleared by Urban Development Ministry’s Empowered Committee and the proposal is currently before the Group of Ministers. After getting the GoM’s nod, it has to be cleared by the Union Cabinet.

Apart from this technique, DMRC will also use steel girders on spans measuring 40 to 50 metres. Such steel girders have been used earlier in Phase II and Phase 1 at various locations, he said.

For curing of the civil structures to enhance their strength and durability, ‘sophisticated curing compound coating’ are also being explored as per international practices.

“Concrete of the quality of M-50 and M-60 will be used depending on specific requirements. The parapets on the elevated viaducts will also be much sleek and therefore, easier to handle,” he said.

Indian pilots' strike enters fourth day

FLAGSHIP carrier Air India was forced to cancel most of its domestic flights by a pilots' strike over pay that entered its fourth day.

The financially ailing state-run carrier, which says it has lost $6 million in revenues so far due to the strike, said it was operating just 39 domestic flights out of its regular 320, according to the Press Trust of India.

The airline is "operating on only trunk routes" to major Indian cities, an Air India spokesman said.

"We do not have any pilots," he added.

The airline, which at the start of the strike had been able to operate most flights, has also scaled back international operations.

More than 800 pilots were on strike, defying management warnings of dismissal, while non-unionised pilots, asked by management to fill in for the strikers, have begun calling in sick in support of their colleagues.

The airline, which has condemned the strike as "illegal, unfortunate and most irresponsible," has already sacked nine pilots and suspended six others.

The Delhi High Court has initiated contempt of court proceedings against the pilots, citing their "utter defiance" of its orders to end their strike.

If found guilty, the pilots could be sentenced to six months in jail.

"We're more than willing to go to jail," Rishabh Kapur, General Secretary of the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), said.

In 2007, the government merged Air India with state-run domestic carrier Indian Airlines in a bid to create a more cost-efficient national carrier.

The pilots on strike were all originally hired by Indian Airlines and say that four years after the merger, they are still paid significantly less than the pilots from Air India.

They are demanding equal wages, but the airline has said no strike is legally permitted as a case on wage parity and other issues is pending before a tribunal.

"I hope sense will prevail upon these people," said civil aviation minister Vayalar Ravi.

Private airlines have cashed in on the strike by hiking their fares on routes served by Air India.

India set for ninth rate hike to cool inflation

NEW DELHI: India, which has the highest inflation of any large Asian economy, looks set this week to hike interest rates for a ninth time despite mounting concern over the impact of monetary tightening.

The central bank has raised rates eight times since March 2010, albeit in gradual, quarter-point steps to minimise the impact on economic growth.

But inflation has remained high and some economists expect Reserve Bank of India (RBI) policymakers to move more aggressively when they meet on Tuesday.

"A 50-basis-point rate rise wouldn't surprise me -- inflation is proving stubbornly difficult to reduce," Deepak Lalwani, head of London-based India investment consultancy Lalcap, told AFP.

"It's time to step it up," agreed HSBC chief India economist Leif Eskesen.

Others bet the bank will stick to its "slowly, slowly approach" and only hike by a quarter point as it seeks to balance growth and inflation concerns.

The RBI meeting comes after data in April showed inflation had surged to nearly nine per cent.

The Asian Development Bank has said controlling inflation must be the Asian region's top priority as strong growth, turmoil in the Middle East and Japan's nuclear crisis drive up food and oil prices.

Asian economies from South Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan to China are all battling inflationary pressures.

But some economists are concerned that India's central bank may push too hard on the brakes.

The benchmark repurchase, or repo rate, at which the bank lends to commercial banks, is 6.75 per cent while the reverse repo, paid to banks for deposits, is 5.75 per cent.

"The bottom line is the central bank needs to act but it should not go overboard," said CLSA economist Rajeev Malik. "It must avoid a repeat of the mid-1990s outcome of killing inflation by crippling growth."

The government has said it expects the economy to expand by nine percent in the current fiscal year, returning to levels it reached before the global financial crisis.

But there are already fears that Asia's third-largest economy will undershoot the target because of interest rate increases.

Investment house Goldman Sachs has already slashed its growth forecast for the year to March 2012 to 7.8 per cent from 8.7 per cent. Credit Suisse economist Robert Prior-Wandesforde has trimmed his expansion forecast to 7.5 per cent.

The economy is already showing signs of slowing with an 18 per cent year-on-year drop in capital goods output in February, trimming industrial production growth to 3.6 per cent.

Inflation, fed by food and fuel price rises, has been one of the biggest headaches for the Congress-led government headed by Premier Manmohan Singh, whose coalition is also reeling from a string of corruption scandals.

Reducing prices is a political priority even as higher growth is seen as key to reducing crushing poverty in the nation of 1.2 billion.

Poorer households, the backbone of the party's support, have been especially hard hit by inflation, a traditional lightning rod for political discontent.

"Inflation is the most important short-term problem," said Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy head of India's influential economic Planning Commission, who has urged the central bank to use "all the flexibility" at its disposal.

Former central bank governor Y.V. Reddy said the Reserve Bank cannot afford any let up in its anti-inflation fight -- even if it means slower growth.

"Tell me any single period when we have had higher growth and higher inflation. It just does not happen that way and it is a wrong policy. What we need is low inflation and if it demands low growth, so be it," Reddy said.

Critics do not know the sacrifices made by founders: Narayana Murthy

A day after the Infosys board announced leadership changes, its Chairman and Chief Mentor, Mr N.R. Narayana Murthy, took a swipe at those who criticised the IT giant for favouring founders for the top jobs in the company.

Speaking to Business Line, Mr Murthy said critics do not realise the sacrifices the founders and their respective families made while building the company. “There are many people who comment on founders versus professionals. Unfortunately, none of them knows the kind of sacrifice the founder professionals made in the beginning.”

Explaining the hardship the founders and their families underwent in the early days of the company, he said, “Their wives cooked food for the employees, their wives carried out secretarial jobs while they lived on $250 a month in the US, and had to be away from their children. So, I think it is very easy to criticise and comment about founders and non-founders.”

In the leadership changes announced on Saturday, the current Chairman and Chief Mentor and one of the founders of the company, Mr Murthy has been elevated to the post of Chairman Emeritus while co-founders, Mr Kris Gopalakrishnan and Mr Shibulal, have been made the co-Chairman and the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director respectively.

About his career spanning over three decades in Infosys, Mr Murthy pointed out that some of the lows were when his favourite colleagues had to leave the company under a cloud. “I had some lows (in my career at Infosys)… when one of my favourite senior colleagues had to leave the company under not-so-pleasant circumstances… when I had to take a decision all alone whether to accept the resignation of another colleague of mine. These were difficult situations, but, in the end, I am so happy that we did the right thing.”

Mr Murthy, who will demit office on August 20 this year, said he is willing to take up any post offered by the Government as long as he is able to do work which is close to his heart.

He would, however, look at an opportunity which allows him to work with youngsters and inculcate in them better work ethics and discipline.

On a larger canvas, he revealed that he was actively involved in the drafting of the Jan Lokpal Bill, and interacted with the Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, and the party's General Secretary, Mr Rahul Gandhi, on the issue.

9/11: The Day Osama Shook The World

New Delhi :   On September 11, 2001,  a series of coordinated suicide attacks were carried out by Al Qaeda upon the United States.  On that morning, 19 al-Qaeda  terrorists hijacked four commercial passenger  jet airliners.

The hijackers intentionally crashed two of the airliners into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York, killing everyone on board and many others working in the buildings. Both towers collapsed within two hours, destroying nearby buildings and damaging others.

The hijackers crashed a third airliner into  The Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington DC.

The fourth plane crashed into a field near Shanksville  in rural Pennsylvania after some of its passengers and flight crew attempted to retake control of the plane, which the hijackers had redirected toward Washington, D.C. to target either the Capitol Building or the White House  There were no survivors from any of the flights.

Nearly 3,000 victims and the 19 hijackers died in the attacks.

According to the New York State Health Department, 836 responders, including firefighters and police personnel, have died as of June 2009. Among the 2,752 victims who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center were 343 firefighters and 60 police officers from New York City and the Port Authority.

 Another 184 people were killed in the attack on the Pentagon. The overwhelming majority of casualties were civilians, including nationals of over 70 countries

The United States President George W. Bush responded to the attacks by launching the War on Terror, invading Afghanistan to depose the Taliban who had harbored al-Qaeda terrorists, and enacting the  USA Patriot Act.

Many other countries also strengthened their anti-terrorism legislation and expanded law enforcement powers. Some American stock exchanges stayed closed for the rest of the week following the attack, and posted enormous losses upon reopening, especially in the airline and insurance industries. The destruction of billions of dollars' worth of office space caused serious damage to the economy of Lower Manhattan.

The damage to the Pentagon was cleared and repaired within a year, and the Pentagon Memorial  was built adjacent to the building.

The rebuilding process has started on the Worlkd Trade Center site. In 2006, a new office tower was completed on the site of  7  World Trade Center.. The new  One World Trade Center  is currently under construction at the site and is expected to be completed in 2013.

Three more towers were originally expected to be built between 2007 and 2012 on the site. Ground was broken for the Flight 93 National Memorial on November 8, 2009, and the first phase of construction is expected to be ready for the 10th anniversary of the attacks on September 11, 2011

The Attack:

Early on the morning of September 11, 2001, nineteen hijackers  took control of four commercial airliners en route to San Francisco and Los Angeles from Boston, Newark and Washington DC.

 At 8:46 a.m., American Airlines Flight 11 was crashed into the World Trade Center's North Tower, followed by United Airlines Flight 175,  which hit the South Tower at 9:03 a.m.

Another group of hijackers flew American Airlines Flight 77 into  the Pentagon  9:37 a.m.

 A fourth flight, United Airlines Flight 93 crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania,  at 10:03 a.m, after the passengers on board engaged in a fight with the hijackers. Its ultimate target was thought to be either the Capitol or the White House.

Some passengers were able to make phone calls using the cabin airphone service and mobile phones,  and provide details, including that several hijackers  were aboard each plane, that mace or other form of noxious chemical spray, such as tear gas or pepper spray  was used, and that some people aboard had been stabbed Reports indicated that during two of the flights, the hijackers stabbed and killed aircraft pilots, flight attendants and in at least one case, a passenger.

The 9/11 Commission established that two of the hijackers had recently purchased Leatherman multi-function hand tools.

A flight attendant on Flight 11, a passenger on Flight 175, and passengers on Flight 93 mentioned that the hijackers had bombs, but one of the passengers also mentioned he thought the bombs were fake. No traces of explosives were found at the crash sites, and the 9/11 Commission believed the bombs were probably fake.

On United Airlines Flight 93, a transcript of audio recorded by the cockpit voice recorder  revealed that crew and passengers attempted to seize control of the plane from the hijackers after learning through phone calls that similarly hijacked planes had been crashed into buildings that morning.

 One of the hijackers gave the order to roll  the plane once it became evident that they would lose control of the plane to the passengers. Soon afterward, the aircraft crashed into a field near Shanksville.

In a September 2002 interview conducted by documentary-maker Yosri Fouda,  an  al Jazeera journalist, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who are believed to have organised the attacks, stated that the fourth hijacked plane was heading for the United States Capitol, which they gave the codename "the Faculty of Law"  not for the White House.

They further stated that al-Qaeda initially planned to fly hijacked jets into nuclear installations rather than the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, but it was decided not to attack nuclear power plants "for the moment" because of fears it could "get out of control".

Three buildings in the World Trade Center Complex collapsed due to structural failure  on the day of the attack.

The south tower (2 WTC) fell at approximately 9:59 a.m., after burning for 56 minutes in a fire caused by the impact of United Airlines Flight 175.

The north tower (1 WTC) collapsed at 10:28 a.m., after burning for approximately 102 minutes.
When the north tower collapsed, debris that fell on the nearby 7 World Trade Center (7 WTC) building damaged it and initiated fires. These fires burned for hours and compromised the building's structural integrity, which led to the crumbling of the east penthouse at 5:20 p.m. and to the complete collapse of the building at 5:21 p.m.


There were a total of 2,996 deaths, including the 19 hijackers and 2,977 victims.

 The victims were distributed as follows: 246 on the four planes (from which there were no survivors), 2,606 in New York City in the towers and on the ground, and 125 at the Pentagon. All the deaths in the attacks were civilians except for 55 military personnel killed in the attack on the Pentagon.

More than 90 countries lost citizens in the attacks on the World Trade Center.

 In 2007, the New York City medical examiner's office added Felicia Dunn-Jones to the official death toll from the September 11 attacks. Dunn-Jones died five months after 9/11 from a lung condition which was linked to exposure to dust during the collapse of the World Trade Center.

 Leon Heyward, who died of lymphoma in 2008, was added to the official death toll in 2009.

Along with the 110-floor Twin Towers of the World Trade Center itself, numerous other buildings at the World Trade Center site were destroyed or badly damaged, including 7 World Trade Center, 6 World Trade Center, 5 World Trade Center, 4 World Trade Center,  the Marriott World Trade Center (3 WTC) and the World Financial Center complex and St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church.

Of the buildings and structures belonging to the World Trade Center complex, North Tower (1 World Trade Center), South Tower (2 World Trade Center), the Marriott Hotel (3 World Trade Center) and 7 World Trade Center were completely destroyed, 4 World Trade Center, 5 World Trade Center, One Liberty Plaza, the U.S. Customs House (6 World Trade Center), and both pedestrian bridges were severely damaged. The Deutsche Bank building on 130 Liberty Street was partially damaged and demolished later.

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