Thursday, September 29, 2011

Axis Bank rolls out lifetime fixed rate home loan

Axis Bank, a late entrant to home loans, has launched a lifetime fixed rate home loan at an interest rate of 11.75% for a 20-year tenure. This is the cheapest fixed rate loan available in the market and is 250 basis points lower than the fixed rate product being offered by the bank till now. Most banks charge 13-13.5% interest for fixed rate home loans.

Axis Bank is aiming to woo customers uneasy over rising interest rates. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has raised policy rates 12 times since March 2010. The repo rate, or the rate at which banks borrow from the central bank, has since gone up by 350 basis points.

"This is a pure fixed rate loan with no fine print. Customers would have the option of migrating to a floating rate product. However, it would come at a fee of up to 2%," said Jairam Sridharan, senior vice-president and head (consumer lending and payments) at Axis Bank. The bank runs a home loan portfolio of 20,000 crore of which a major proportion is floating rate loans.

Should borrowers bite Axis Bank's 11.75% fixed rate offer?

"I wouldn't recommend this product to any customer as we seem to have reached the peak of the high interest rate cycle," said Kartik Jhaveri, founder & director, Transcend India Private Limited. "It would be advisable for customers to pay half a per cent more and opt for a floating rate home loan product," Jhaveri added.

"Interest rates have to come down with the slowdown in global economya¦(which is) also looming over India. Locking into a fixed rate at this point is a no-no," says Suresh Sadagopan, certified financial planner, Ladder 7 Financial Advisories.


Most customers prepay loans within 10 years. This loan comes with a 2% prepayment penalty. If a customer prepays the loan, she will end up on the losing side. Even if she locks into such a loan, she will be paying a higher interest cost," Sadagopan adds.

Banks do not charge a prepayment penalty on floating rate housing loans, especially if the borrowers pay off the dues from their own savings. Under 'Nishchint', Axis Bank will offer loans up to 85% for properties valued at up to 20 lakh and 80% for properties costing above 20 lakh, the lender said in a statement.

"The bank will charge a prepayment penalty of 2% on the outstanding amount," the statement added. Analysts are wary of the product as they are concerned about how the bank would raise resources for 20 years. Currently, no bank is marketing fixed rate home loan products aggressively.

Claire Danes sets up in 'Homeland'

It's "confusing" to talk about her character, CIA operations officer Carrie Mathison, because there's still so much to learn: Four episodes are left to shoot in Charlotte, and "these are not a casual four," says Danes, 32, who, sitting in the airy penthouse of the Hudson Hotel, has swapped Carrie's sensible pantsuits for something more akin to Danes' downtown homeland: black ice-pick-heeled stilettos and a sleeveless sheath from her "buddy," Narciso Rodriguez. "There's nothing casual about this show."
Thanks to a tip gleaned from a tense meeting with an Iraqi prisoner, Agent Mathison suspects that a recently rescued eight-year American POW, now heralded as a hero in his homeland, has turned al-Qaeda terrorist. Throw in a cheating military wife, a Saudi prince, high-end hookers — and a sexy, premium-cable patina — and you get a plot and a pace that's "cracky," Danes says. "We are dying to know what happens next. We're just begging for scraps — from the boom man, from the hair woman."questions with Claire Danes
If it sounds like 24— if 24 starred, say, Jackie Bauer — that's no accident: The executive producers of Homeland had a hand in the Fox hit. But where Jack's action was hugely hands-on, Carrie's conflict is partly in her head: This spy is secretly battling bipolar disorder. Which doesn't mean she's not packing, says Danes, a 24 virgin who took a field trip to Langley, Va., and dived into psychology books to prepare for the part. Still, Homeland makes "a real point of never showing a gun."
The small screen has been good to Danes, who won TV's triple crown — the Emmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards — for 2010's Temple Grandin, the HBO biopic about an animal scientist with autism who helped overhaul the livestock industry. And there's her cultishly adored mid-'90s role as introspective Angela in My So-Called Life.
Still, she initially flinched at the idea of returning to her series roots because of the time commitment involved. The Homeland script, however, proved "too seductive." Danes had been mired in a "real fallow period" after the success of Temple. "What do you do after that? Do you play the girlfriend?" Carrie's salty CIA agent was the first role to come along that was "really engaging."
After all, "I'm no longer an ingénue," Danes concedes. "I'm grown up" — with two homes, a Soho loft five blocks from where she was raised and a country house upstate, and a husband, the British Hugh Dancy, her Evening co-star and now, in a "dorky coincidence," fellow Showtime employee 
Likewise, her résumé is growing up: She plays the mom of a droll, Angela Chase-esque teenager in the recently wrapped indie film As Cool As I Am. She's not looking to play the part off-screen anytime soon, but "eventually, yes, I would like to be completely humiliated by my children."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fight over Rajinikanth's biopic rights

The face-off over Rajinikanth biopic has taken a turn for the worse. To counter the film being made on the South superstar by producer Atul Agnihotri without their consent, Rajini's family is now planning to go ahead with their own biopic on the actor.
In fact, Rajini's daughter Soundarya has been urgently trying to reach Atul to no avail. "I've tried to contact Atul Agnihotri, but I haven't got any response.
We have not authorised anyone to do a biopic on my father. We reserve our rights on this matter," she says, adding that she is still open to discussing the matter with the producer.
Interestingly, in a recent interview Atul reportedly said, "There is a huge responsibility involved in making a film on Rajinikanth. We need his approval and contribution.
Making a film on him will be an enriching experience for us."
His apparent reluctance to resolve the matter with the family, therefore, is surprising. When contacted, both Atul as well as the film's director Lloyd Baptista were unavailable for comment.
After striking gold with 'Bodyguard', starring brother in law Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor, actor turned producer Agnihotri will now work on the biopic.
The idea to make a Rajinikanth biopic came from Agnihotri's friend, ad filmmaker Lloyd Ba Pista, who will direct the film.

In partnership with Bharti Airtel RIM launches BlackBerry Curve smartphone priced at Rs 19,990

In partnership with Bharti Airtel RIM launches BlackBerry Curve smartphone priced at Rs 19,990.
Research In Motion has finally revealed the most anticipated the next generation BlackBerry Curve smartphone priced at Rs. 19,990 in India today.
"The BlackBerry Curve series has been extremely popular in India and we are excited to launch the all new BlackBerry Curve 9360. This next generation BlackBerry Curve features a stunning new design along with a significant performance upgrade and an unmatched mobile social experience. It provides an ideal upgrade path for our existing Curve customers as well as the millions of feature phone users in the Indian market.” said Frenny Bawa, managing director, India at RIM.
The phone is quite stylish and designed with a comfortable and easy keyboard for fast, accurate typing and an intuitive optical trackpad for easy one-handed use.
The phone also aprons GPS and Wi-Fi support, as well as a 5 mega pixel camera with flash and video recording so that memories can be captured and instantly shared on social networks. Also the microSD/SDHC slot supports up to 32 GB memory cards for additional media storage.
To support the new BlackBerry 7 operating system, the new BlackBerry Curve 9360 smartphone features an upgraded processor, display and memory.It also comes with built-in support for NFC (Near Field Communications).
Also, in another development, RIM has partnered with Bharti Airtel to introduce the phone in India.
Now Airtel’s postpaid customers in India can avail special offers upon purchasing the BlackBerry Curve 9360 smartphone. As part of this offer, first time users of BlackBerry services can sign up for an exciting trial offer from Airtel that promises the Rs.299 BlackBerry plan free for a period of 2 months as well as special prices for local calls at 20p and 5p SMS to any one BlackBerry customer of choice for 1 year.
"We are confident these offers will deliver a compelling proposition for our high value customers looking to leverage their mobile devices for everything from exchanging messages, checking their emails, catching the latest in entertainment or staying connected with friends and family on social networks,” said N Rajaram, chief marketing officer, consumer business, Bharti Airtel.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Facebook changes: Fact and fiction

Facebook has made a lot of modifications to its network and is planning a lot more. But, as often happens when the social network makes major changes, users are confused about what is and isn’t changing. Here’s a breakdown of what’s new, what’s in the cards, and a couple of busted myths:
News feed and ticker: The News Feed is now more curated, with stories that Facebook deems relevant pinned to the top, recent stories of import further down the page and all the “Julie commented on John’s post” or “John just earned the blue ribbon in Farmville” updates relegated to a real-time feed that runs along the right side of your homepage. Users will also be able to do more than “like” things on their news feeds and friends’ walls. Developers will have all verbs and nouns to choose from in the future. Now you theoretically could do anything from the fairly basic (watch a movie) to the off-beat(high-five a kitten?) through the network.

The Timeline: Pretty much everything Facebook users see and do will change in some way. Your profile, for example, is going to become a personal history, scrapbook, autobiography and news center.
Called the Timeline, the new profile will likely encourage people to put up content that predates their time on the social network. You’ll be able to guide visitors to your profile through your life via an actual timeline on the right side of the page, so they can quickly click to the days of your misspent youth or just see what you’ve been up to since you got your last job. The further back you go, the more content Facebook will hide from the main timeline.
Apps: Users also will be able to add apps that publish content to users’ Timelines automatically. Right now, apps ask users if they want to publish information to their wall before each post, such as when a user reaches a new milestone in a game. Now, Facebook will publish stories with a single permission agreement — for example, users using Spotify will agree to hook their account to the service once, and it will post to their walls every time a track changes.
Some apps, such as The Washington Post’s Social Reader, or Hulu will let you consume news and media content right from Facebook and tell your friends what items you’re reading, watching, or listening.
Is Facebook going to charge a fee?: No. Facebook isn’t going to charge a fee and likely never will. Restating what the company has said since it began, a post to the company’s main page definitively denied the rumor, saying: “We have no plans to charge for Facebook. It's free and always will be.”
Likes and comments: Another viral status that’s been going around is the assertion that users have no control over the sharing settings for their own likes and comments.
“Please do me a favor. Hover your cursor over my name here, wait for the box to load and then hover over the "Subscribed" link. Then uncheck the ‘Comments and likes’ choice”...Then repost if you don't want your EVERY MOVE posted on the right column for everyone to see,” the statuses read.”
Likes and comments on Facebook posts are tied to the privacy of the original post, according to Facebook’s settings. So while it’s true that unsubscribing from someone’s “comments and likes” will keep those posts from showing up in your ticker, users should know that the privacy of those actions is dependent on the root post.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sony Music to acquire music publishing rights for Sony/ATV JV

NEW DELHI: Sony Music plans to invest heavily in acquiring songs and music publishing rights to expand the Indian business and revenue of its recently formed joint venture with the US-basedSony/ATV Music Publishing. 

After signing the strategic JV for setting up the India operations of Sony/ATV, Sony Music is now looking at investing in publishing rights acquisitions to grow the business in India and drive its revenues, a top official said. 

Sony/ATV Music Publishing, co-owned by Sony and trusts formed by late Michael Jackson, is among the world's largest holder of music publishing companies and owns or administers copyrights by famous artistes from the likes of Beatles and Bob Dylan to Shakira and Lady Gaga. 

According to the just completed structure of the JV, the business revenues in India will report into the Sony Music India business and the earnings from International repertoire will be reported back to Sony ATV UK

The overseas earnings from Sony Music India's repertoire will however be reported into Sony Music India. 

As part of business transaction contracts Sony Music is negotiating for the Sony/ATV business, the publisher may get 8 per cent of retail price on digital sales. 

"However, the rates and revenue shares will be same for Indian and international works when used overseas," said Shridhar Subramaniam, President, Sony India & Middle East. 

Subramaniam said that Sony Music India will start collecting mechanical royalties on physical and digital sales, performance income from live and broadcast and also develop synchronisation Income when songs are synched to movies, TV shows or commercials. 

Similarly Sony ATV will do the same with Sony Music India's assets in the global markets. 

Sony/ATV's Senior Vice President, International, Guy Henderson said there were significant revenue opportunities for Indian songs worldwide. 

He said that Sony/ATV would offer Indian artistes a great platform with its global administration and sales network. 

The New York-based music publishing firm Sony/ATV last week announced an exclusive joint venture with Sony Music Entertainment for foraying into the Indian market. 

Sony Music India is one of India's largest music companies with significant interests in Hindi and Tamil soundtracks as also in pop and international music. 

Sony/ATV is now focusing on Asian and Latin regions. It is estimated that music publishing in India will become a Rs 500 crore market in 3-4 years time. The recorded music market in the subcontinent in comparison will be about Rs 1,300 crore in size.

Hat in the Ring

WhenNarendra Modithrew his hat into the ring to become India's next prime minister, he never bargained for the fact that he would stumble on a skull cap. The now famous "cap incident" was a rare instance of spontaneity in a carefully choreographed Sadbhavna fast in Ahmedabad, when the Gujarat Chief Minister, in a gesture of spare-me-the-honour, rejected the cap offered by Maulana Hazrat Sufi Imam Sahi Sayeed Mehendi Husain. For a leader desperate to reach out to the Muslims of Gujarat and to Indians at large, that moment preserved by cameras was heavy with meaning, especially so when Modi displays a penchant for wearing a variety of colourful headgear that display the country's ethnic diversity. The three-day amity fast was designed by India's most popular state administrator as a Gandhian short-cut to gain political acceptability needed for a national leader-and to announce his own ticket for the top job in 2014. The queue of BJPstalwarts, all as ambitious as Modi but with less credentials, was a sign of his rising clout as frontrunner. But when the curtain dropped on the drama, did Modi look merely desperate-an impatient player overdoing the part?
The question became inevitable as the noise accompanying the self-canonisation in Ahmedabad was in stark contrast to the silence in Patna.Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister of Bihar, shares only one passion with Modi: development. When Modi hard-sells his own mythology as a 21st century Sardar Patel who deserves a space larger than Gujarat, Nitish quietly waits in the wings, biding his time, patiently sure of himself. When Modi performs his way into front pages and onto prime time television, intimidating his colleagues in BJP and allies in NDA, Nitish takes backstage in Patna and refuses to supply the mandatory soundbites. If the flamboyance in Ahmedabad was divisive, the silence in Patna was reassuring. When the show was over and Modi had his lemonade, one man stood between him and his unhidden prime ministerial ambition: Nitish Kumar.
Nitish Kumar
Nitish Kumar meets Muslim supporters in Patna.
What is it that makes Modi, unarguably the most popular leader on the Right, a polarising figure in spite of his commendable achievement in bridging the communal divide in post-2002 Gujarat? Why is it that he is still a haunted man, forever struggling for acceptability beyond Gujarat? In opinion polls conducted by india today and even other publications, Modi consistently maintains his lead as India's best chief minister and the best possible prime minister in a non-upa government, but he still cannot take a break from the project of makeover: he is always a work in progress. Modi is trapped in his own image as an uncompromising Hindutva leader. That may be fine with the faithful but in India the gold standard of a right-wing prime minister was set by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the abiding embodiment of inclusive leadership. Modi is still the proverbial hardliner, and hardline can get you success, not final success. Then, there is the legal labyrinth of riot-related cases which he continues to navigate, and it is unlikely that he or anyone knows till when. Modi has his rebuttal ready for the harrumphers. "When I took over, many felt I was too inexperienced to lead the government but today the same people say I have proved myself. So opinion can change over a period of time. But there is a vested interest group in India with intellectual ability that opposed Sardar Patel, Morarji Desai, Atalji, Advaniji and now me. So the belief that I am a polarising figure is not justified," .
This indomitable faith in himself is not totally misplaced, for he is still the BJP's best bet for 2014. A Modi showcased as India's best administrator with a mass base, and communication skills to match, will be a formidable force. His strength is Gujarat, as much as it is his curse. He now wants a bigger gallery to mount his bestselling portrait as a clean ruler and a development fanatic. Gujarat is the development model that industry moguls continue to toast and The Economist writes about. Under Modi's stewardship, the state has become an economic powerhouse whose growth rate is higher than the country's. Gujarat generates 16 per cent of India's industrial output and 22 per cent of its exports. From infrastructure to agriculture, from education to green technology, Gujarat has taken huge strides, showing the rest of India what focused leadership can achieve.
Modi and Nitish in Ludhiana during an election rally in 2009.
Modi and Nitish in Ludhiana during an election rally in 2009.
Says industrialist and president of the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mahendra Patel: "Modi's greatest asset is his missionary spirit, which has forced the bureaucracy and industry to act. His development model has a trickle-down effect to the lowest levels." A tough administrator, he refused to slow down the drive against farmers indulging in theft to draw ground water for irrigation on the eve of the 2007 polls despite pressure from BJP MLAs. He has become an apostle of participative development. "If you look at India's past 40 years, you will find that ruling parties tailored their budget with a view to strengthen vote banks. They created models that made people dependent on Government. But in Gujarat, we rejected the vote-bank based model and created a new model," he says.
As an organiser and a campaigner who can play with the mass mind, he now wants to sell the slogan "Sab ka saath, sab ka vikas" to a wider audience. And within the BJP, in spite of the charioteer-in-chief Advani's refusal to retire from the roadshow, no one is more qualified to do so. As a senior BJP leader tells, "Ultimately, who else is there?" Publicly, though, party leaders maintain that it is too early for the party to choose a prime ministerial candidate. Arun Jaitley, in the run-up to the 2009 elections, had queered the pitch by endorsing Modi's name for prime ministership in 2014. Today the opposition leader in the Rajya Sabha, who is himself emerging as a national leader worthy of the top job, says the focus is on putting the BJP house in order. "The elections are still three years away," he adds. Party president Nitin Gadkari too says no decision has been taken yet to project anybody as the prime minister candidate for 2014. "We have not decided on Narendrabhai's name. His fast was not to become the prime minister. It is to clear the misunderstanding about Gujarat," he says.
He admits that there are problems in endorsing Modi's name because of the 2002 riots taint. "He cannot do much about it" but the party is making efforts to focus more on his development agenda, administrative skills and dynamic leadership, he says. "If Modi can prove that he can defeat Congress by a decisive margin in the Assembly elections, it will become a little easier for him," Gadkari says. But he is categorical about the possibility of Nitish as usurper: "He may be a key ally but remains an outsider. No worker in the party will campaign for him." Will allies accept Modi? "Ultimately votes count. If we get more votes, allies will automatically come. BJP reaching 165-170 seats is important. And when you go to war, you go with your best General. Modi is the best General that the party has," says a senior party leader.
The General must first win the war within. Modi has hardly been on talking terms with Gadkari ever since rss pracharak Sanjay Joshi was reinducted into the party to strengthen BJP in Uttar Pradesh against the Gujarat strongman's wishes. His weight-reducing bariatric surgery was a well-timed excuse for the party boss to avoid the photo-op with Modi during the Sadbhavna mission. Sushma Swaraj, who made it to Ahmedabad, was visibly uncomfortable in the company of the man who she thinks is responsible for her stint in the wilderness after her defeat from Bellary in 1999. Party insiders feel that Modi agreed to give a Rajya Sabha berth to Smriti Irani only to counter Swaraj. Apart from Advani, Jaitley is the only central leader with whom Modi enjoys a good rapport, though Jaitley himself has prime ministerial ambitions. The rss is already working on a succession plan for Gujarat as Modi is convinced that he deserves an office higher than the one he occupies now. The new generation, swayed by the political zeitgeist, is sceptical about the Modi brand. "While the youth of the country may be on a warpath against corruption, demanding an honest administration, they are also looking for a more inclusive social structure. In this day and age, Modi may never be able to wish away the 2002 blot. It is there to stay. The party will have to do better than a Modi," says a young BJP leader.
That is why Modi's desperation is Nitish's hope. Parties like TDP, Biju Janata Dal and agp-traditionally anti-Congress but wary of alienating minority support in BJP's company-would be happy embracing NDA if Nitish Kumar is at the helm. Apart from his proven record in winning Muslim votes, he is winning, like Modi, in the politics of development as well. As an administrator, he has addressed critical areas ranging from restoration of law and order to health, educational services and building roads. As a leader, he has pushed targeted social welfare schemes. According to his acolytes, if Nitish can make Bihar a functional state, he has the potential to change India too on behalf of NDA. Nitish's biggest disadvantage, though, is his electoral base. He may have the credibility and character to become a national leader, but JD-U, with only 20 members in 543-memberLok Sabha, is not a political force beyond Bihar. Though he has a good political chemistry with leaders like Naveen Patnaik, no regional satrap has come forward to propose his leadership.
The biggest roadblock for him will be Modi himself. With less than six months' age difference-the elder of the two, Modi, turned 61 only last week-the two can neutralise each other. There is no love lost between the two. The relationship worsened on May 10, 2009 when Modi, during an NDA rally at Ludhiana, clasped Nitish Kumar's hand and forcibly raised it as a show of solidarity. Many considered it as Modi's revenge because Nitish had earlier scuttled Modi's plans for campaigning in Bihar for the Lok Sabha elections. Senior jd-u leaders seeking anonymity maintain that Nitish is mentally prepared to pull the plug on the alliance if Modi is named the BJP's prime ministerial candidate. With 117 jd-u MLAs in the 243-member Bihar assembly-besides a handful of Independent supporters-he thinks he can afford to take the risk. (BJP is his ally in Bihar.) Nitish has succeeded in keeping Bihar offlimits for Modi.
Since taking over as Bihar Chief Minister in November 2005, Nitish has put his foot down on Modi campaigning in the state. Nitish does not even mention Modi's name on public platforms, and considers the Gujarat chief minister as a communal leader unacceptable to his inclusive brand of politics. In June 2010, Nitish raged against advertisements carrying a picture of them together at Ludhiana which were placed in Bihar newspapers by Modi supporters. The advertisements had boasted about Gujarat's flood-relief aid to Bihar. Nitish took no time to withdraw his dinner invitation to BJP top brass then present in Patna for BJP's national executive meet. He not only refused to attend the BJP rally held at the conclusion of the meet but also returned the Rs 5 crore given by the Gujarat government. Besides derailing the BJP's national executive meet, Nitish almost rocked the alliance. He knows that BJP cannot afford to lose someone like him who continues to be wooed by the Congress. He now hopes to keep Delhi inaccessible to his rival, though, , he is characteristically diplomatic: "The BJP is yet to officially declare anyone as its prime ministerial candidate. We can express our opinion only after an announcement is made." 
The opinion is unlikely to please Modi. Come 2014 and it will be a clash between the socialist and the saffronite in the opposition for the highest political position. It will be a battle to behold.

The Power Of Social Media

Social networking is what some information technology academics consider to be a disruptive technology or having disruptive impact, rendering existing products, services and business models obsolete.

Although social media have not yet made any product, service or business model obsolete, the phenomenon is certainly challenging many norms, and its current and future impact is and will be profound on all aspects of life. In particular, social media are supplanting traditional media as news and entertainment outlets. A number of recent events, locally and internationally, have highlighted the possible future legal and political impact and the difficulty that society is having with this particular technology.
The Friday, July 15 edition of The Gleaner, on its front page, questioned whether the widespread popularity of social-networking sites in Jamaica could undermine key elements of the justice system. Using the Khajeel Mais case as reference, legal experts wondered whether the widespread use of Facebook, Twitter and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) could taint a potential jury pool and deny an accused person his constitutional right to a fair trial. In this case, the identity of the up-to-then-unnamed person of interest was widely circulated and discussed on Facebook and BBM.
Viral effect
The director of public prosecutions, Paula Llewellyn, commented that if the name of a suspect is released prior to an identification parade is held, the integrity of the process can be compromised and can "provide a legal basis to totally undermine" a prosecution. There were also rumours of other high-profile persons being involved in the unfortunate shooting. As we all know, rumours are not new; however, social networks add the viral effect to rumours, giving them a wider circulation. As it relates to legal considerations, another recent case further afield is worthy of discussion and contrast.
On June 15, Vancouver Canucks lost in the Stanley Cup finals to Boston Bruins. Vancouver is an intensely passionate ice hockey city; in fact, all of Canada is. As a result of the loss, a post-match riot ensued. Persons with smartphones took photos and videos of rioters looting and smashing cars and posted them on YouTube and Flickr. Many of these pictures and videos were posted with the express intention of identifying illegal or potentially illegal activity.
According to one commentator, this went beyond citizen journalism to engagement in citizen surveillance. The commentator continued: "I don't think I want to live in a society that turns social media into a form of crowd-sourced surveillance. When social media users embrace Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs as channels, identifying and pursuing criminals, that is exactly what we are moving towards."
This discussion was part of a blog and it elicited numerous comments both for and against the use of social networks for citizen surveillance. These two cases, one in Jamaica and the other in Canada, highlight the paradox of technology - social media or otherwise - some person will use and view the use of technology in laudable terms, while others will not.
The impact of social networks on politics is even more interesting and paradoxical. Facebook provides a forum where information can be quickly and efficiently published, and this feature takes on particular importance where these forums are absent from day-to-day political life or where individuals' liberties are curtailed.
We have seen in Egypt and Tunisia where social media were used to circumvent government dominance of the media sector and the restrictive freedom of association laws. Governments in these and other countries, like Iran and China, have restricted or have made attempts to restrict the use of social networks in their domain. These attempts have been met with criticism and virtual self-righteous claims from the West of repression, restriction on freedom of speech, freedom of expression and being undemocratic. Now contrast these events and reactions with the recent riots in Britain.
Media reports have strongly suggested that participants in the recent British riots used social networks, particularly BBM, as their premier method of communicating. They outmanoeuvred the police by using BBM and other social media to tell protesters where the police were and where they should avoid.
Without making any attempt to determine the motivation for the riots, British Prime Minister David Cameron threatened to temporarily block social network platforms. Subsequently, on August 24, British officials met with representatives of Twitter, Facebook and BlackBerry to discuss ways to limit or restrict the use of social media to combat crime and periods of civil unrest. The governments in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and other countries engulfed in the Arab Spring did characterise the protesters as rioters and the situation as civil unrest without making any attempt to determine the motivation for the 'riots'.
Smacks of hypocrisy
Some will argue that the current position of the British government smacks of hypocrisy while others will argue that the government in a 'democracy' should use all means to protect civil liberties and prevent crime.
Jamaicans are expecting that there will be a general election next year, and the politicians from both parties have begun to exchange 'pleasantries' in anticipation. During the last general election, traditional media platforms such as television, radio and print, coupled with on-the-ground campaigns, were the main means of engaging potential voters. Not so this time around, both political parties will have to use YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and other social media in their political campaign.
The recent BBM campaign encouraging citizens to wear black to protest against the Jamaica Public Service Company's billing system has provided sufficient proof of the power of social media to rally persons around a cause. If social media are referred to as Web 2.0, the use of social media in Jamaica's general election will be Polytricks 2.0. This should be interesting from several perspectives, including the level of sophistication in the use of the media by the political parties, and the fact that the Broadcasting Commission has no regulatory powers against actual or perceived bias.

Major plane accident averted in Chennai

Over 300 passengers escaped a major air accident in Chennai on Saturday when a flight cleared for take-off stood on the runway and another plane that was about to land was asked to circle overhead instead.
noticing the Jet Airways plane still on the runway, the Air India plane was asked to circle overhead," Chennai Airport director EP Hareendranathan said.

When asked about the presence of an Indigo plane on the runway at the same time, as reported, Hareendranathan said: "The Indigo Airline plane was cleared from the runway. Only the Jet Airways plane was on the runway when the Air India flight was coming in."

When the Air Traffic Control (ATC) was alerted about the Jet Airways plane still on the runway, the pilot of the Air India plane was asked to circle overhead.
According to him, there are standard procedures to be followed during circumstances like this and they were followed. Situations like these are quite common in busy airports, he added

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Club was overcrowded at time of shooting

DAYTON, Ohio (INCIDENT2DAY) - According to police, the nightclub where a Central State University athlete was shot to death September 23rd was overcrowded at the time of the shooting. Officers estimate the A-List club in downtown Dayton had twice the amount of people inside as legally allowed when Kordero Hunter, 21, was killed.
Police said this is the second shooting at the club in nearly a week.
Officials have not said if any action will be taken against the club, although owners said they have asked for additional patrols during peak hours.
An arrest warrant has been issued for Jason DaShaun Shern, 30, for Hunter's murder.

Mumbai Indians upstages Super Kings

Chennai Super Kings let slip its home record in bizarre fashion as tailenders Lasith Malinga (37 not out) and Harbhajan Singh (19 not out) starred with the bat in an unlikely three-wicket win for the beleaguered Mumbai Indians at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here on Saturday.
Batting first, Chennai made 158 for four and looked in complete control when Kieron Pollard departed in the 16th over, with Mumbai still requiring 53 off 28 balls with three wickets in hand, as Malinga joined his skipper.
What initially looked like a face-saving partnership soon turned ominous, as M.S. Dhoni did not have the bowling resources to counter the lusty lower-order hitters — he had bowled out his premier spinner R. Ashwin (two for 23) in the 14th over, and such was CSK's domination at that stage that the bowler ended his spell with a leg slip in place.
Pollard fell a few deliveries later, but Malinga powered two sixes off Shadab Jakati's final over before Dhoni missed a chance to stump the Sri Lankan off the last ball of the 17th over.
With Suresh Raina (two for six) being the only spin option left, Dhoni turned to Doug Bollinger and Albie Morkel, neither of whom could stop the flow of runs, as Malinga swung effectively, taking 20 runs in the next two overs.
First win
The equation came down to 11 runs from the final over bowled by Bollinger. However, a boundary apiece for Malinga and Harbhajan gave Mumbai the much-needed win. The duo added 53 in 4.3 overs to take MI to its first win at Chepauk in four attempts since 2008.
Batting first, a Michael Hussey (81, 57b, 8x4, 3x6) master-class, withsome help from Dhoni, took Super Kings to a competitive score.
Mumbai skipper Harbhajan righted a few wrongs from the past — Pollard came in with a good 11.3 overs (though the steady drip of wickets more or less forced the call) still to be bowled in the chase, and it put its best foot forward while bowling first — Harbhajan opened the attack with Malinga.
Mumbai had erred the last time it played here in attempting to keep Malinga and Harbhajan back, when Abu Nechim's first over to Chris Gayle went for 26 in the second qualifier of IPL 2011 against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
This time around, Malinga, who opened the bowling, sent down a fiery first spell, demolishing Murali Vijay's stumps, breaking Suresh Raina's bat and striking him on the body off successive deliveries. Harbhajan and Malinga sent down four of the six Power Play overs, going for just 16 runs and taking a wicket.
Changing gears
With Super Kings in survival mode, the first six overs saw 17 dot balls, but Hussey soon changed gears, driving and deflecting. In the company of Raina first and S. Badrinath later, the Australian nudged the run-rate northward. The next eight overs saw just 10 balls being wasted and when Dhoni joined Hussey in the 16th over, the final onslaught was well underway.
The four overs at the death went for 46 with Dhoni's cameo (22 n.o., 13b, 3x4) making up for Hussey's exit. The Harbhajan-Malinga combine couldn't stem the flow of runs, and their four overs in the latter half of the innings went for 45. However, they were to save their best for the last, with the bat.
The scores:
Chennai Super Kings: M. Hussey c Blizzard b Nechim 81 (57b, 8x4, 3x6), M. Vijay b Malinga 8 (10b), S. Raina st. Jacobs b Pollard 18 (17b, 2x4), S. Badrinath c Sathish b Nechim 16 (21b), M.S. Dhoni (not out) 22 (13b, 3x4), A. Morkel (not out) 2 (2b); Extras (lb-4, w-7): 11; Total (for four wkts. in 20 overs): 158.
Fall of wickets: 1-28, 2-63, 3-111, 4-144,
Mumbai Indians bowling: Malinga 4-0-29-1, Harbhajan 4-0-32-0, Nechim 4-0-35-2, Symonds 2-0-16-0, Chahal 3-0-23-0, Pollard 3-0-19-1.
Mumbai Indians: D. Jacobs st. Dhoni b Ashwin 18 (15b, 3x4), A. Blizzard b Raina 28 (21b, 4x4, 1x6), T. Suman st. Dhoni b Raina 5 (7b), A. Rayudu c Dhoni b Bravo 5 (6b, 1x4), A. Symonds c Morkel b Bravo 3 (5b), K. Pollard c Dhoni b Morkel 22 (19b, 3x4), R. Sathish lbw b Ashwin 14 (8b, 1x4, 1x6), Harbhajan (not out) 19 (20b, 2x4), L. Malinga (not out) 37 (18b, 3x4, 3x6); Extras (b-2, lb-1, w-5): 8; Total (for seven wkts. in 19.5 overs): 159.


mankatha-arjun-23-09-11"Dare to play a baddie"? Most heroes in tinsel town won't find anything strange about this phrase. That being the case you wouldn't have to be a genius to decipher that here we are dealing with an industry neck deep in stereotypes when you get to see the words "dare" and "baddie" used in the same sentence. Hence it obviously comes as a whiff of fresh air when a top hero decides to cross paths with out-and-out villainy with no strings attached and if he plays it with such an irresistible, carefree charm like Ajith does in his golden 50th venture, not many would have much to complain about.

Vinayak (Ajith), a corrupt cop, suspended from duty for aiding a thug to escape the clutches of law, teams up with a few others to pull off a heist involving a monumental sum of money, intended to be used for illegal gambling during the IPL cricket season and as is the case with most heist films, the trouble starts when the players start double crossing each other in order to keep the money for themselves. Duh, do not let the familiarity of the plot put you down just yet.

If you take Ajith out of the picture, you have a movie which succumbs to every possible cliché in the heist film genre complete with those explanatory montages shot stylishly in black and white and that "unexpected" twist in the end (which to be fair to the director, IS quite unexpected and gives you a little jolt) but the trick is to NOT take him out of the picture because he and he alone makes all the difference and elevates the movie from what it should have been to what it ends up being.

Oh where to start with the man of the moment! Right from his salt "n" pepper hairstyle which has been making headlines from the day the movie was launched to his acceptance to play a middle aged man sans morals and whose naked greed for money practically unleashes the beast within, "Thala" has dared to violate every single golden rule of Tamil Cinema which makes a mass hero. He disrespects women and elders, does not give a damn about his ladylove, pollutes the screen with endless puffs of smoke emanating from his cigarette and mouths enough swear words to give those respectable folks at the censors a hard time with all the muting and beeping. The best part is, all this seems to come so naturally to him and he does it so unabashedly, with so much panache that you find it hard to hate him. How many heroes would have dared to take up such a character? What guts boss!! Hats off!!

Having said that you can't help but feel that he would have benefited a lot more if the movie itself had supported him by crisper pacing and having lesser roadblocks in the form of songs. Also the need to have such an ensemble cast beats you. Most of the talented cast members are frittered away or not made use of and the less the said of the female leads the better. They do not even have enough screen time to look good! In fact apart from Prithvi (Arjun), the cop hot on Vinayak's heels and to a certain extent Vaibhav and Premji (Venkat's regulars) everybody else's roles are reduced to cameos.

Technically the movie is fabulous. Yuvan makes up for a couple of lukewarm songs with an absolutely rocking background score and the camera does a good job in keeping up with the action sequences found aplenty in the film.

Everything said and done credit must be given to the director for providing enough snap and meat in the script to Ajith's character, which if under developed could have been disastrous for the film. He has managed to tower over the script and that in the end has made all the difference.

Derelict NASA satellite falls back to Earth

NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, out of gas and out of control after two decades in space, plunged back into the atmosphere early Saturday, heating up, breaking apart and presumably showering chunks of debris along a 500-mile-long downrange impact zone.
But NASA officials could not immediately confirm where or exactly when the satellite came down, saying only that re-entry occurred during a two-hour period.
"NASA's decommissioned Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite fell back to Earth between 11:23 p.m. EDT Friday, Sept. 23, and 1:09 a.m. EDT Sept. 24," the agency said in a statement released more than three hours -- two complete orbits -- after the predicted impact time.
"The satellite was passing eastward over Canada and Africa as well as vast portions of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans during that period," NASA said. "The precise re-entry time and location are not yet known with certainty."
The Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., reported that UARS entered the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean, according to NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs, but the "precise time and locale aren't yet known."
Given the trajectory of the bus-size, 6.3-ton satellite, experts said it was unlikely any falling remnants would result in injuries or significant property damage. But there was no immediate confirmation as to how much debris might have reached the ground or where the debris "footprint" might be located.
The centerpiece of a $750 million mission, the Upper Atmosphere Research satellite was launched from the shuttle Discovery at 12:23 a.m. EDT (GMT-4) on Sept. 15, 1991. The solar-powered satellite studied a wide variety of atmospheric phenomena, including the depletion of Earth's ozone layer 15 to 30 miles up.
The long-lived satellite was decommissioned in 2005 and one side of its orbit was lowered using the last of its fuel to hasten re-entry and minimize the chances of orbital collisions that could produce even more orbital debris. No more fuel was available for maneuvering and the satellite's re-entry was "uncontrolled."
As with all satellites in low-Earth orbit, UARS was a victim of atmospheric drag, the slow but steady reduction in velocity, and thus altitude, caused by flying through the tenuous extreme upper atmosphere at some five miles per second.
UARS' final trajectory as it neared the discernible atmosphere proved difficult to predict. The descent slowed somewhat Friday, presumably because the spacecraft's orientation changed. As the day wore on, the predicted impact time slipped from Friday afternoon to early Saturday.
"As of 10:30 p.m. EDT on Sept. 23, 2011, the orbit of UARS was 85 miles by 90 miles (135 km by 140 km)," NASA said in a 10:50 p.m. statement. "Re-entry is expected between 11:45 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23, and 12:45 a.m., Sept. 24, Eastern Daylight Time (3:45 a.m. to 4:45 a.m. GMT). During that time period, the satellite will be passing over Canada and Africa, as well as vast areas of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. The risk to public safety is very remote."
The final update from U.S. Strategic Command, which operates a global radar network used to monitor more than 20,000 objects in low-Earth orbit, predicted entry around 12:16 a.m. EDT Saturday above the Pacific Ocean just west of Canada. But the prediction was uncertain by plus or minus two hours and at orbital velocities of 5 miles per second, just 10-minutes of uncertainty translates into 3,000 miles of uncertainty in position.
Nick Johnson, chief scientist with NASA's Orbital Debris Program at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, told reporters last week he expected most of the satellite to burn up as it slammed into the dense lower atmosphere at more than 17,000 mph. But computer software used to analyze possible re-entry outcomes predicted 26 pieces of debris would survive to impact the surface in a 500-mile-long down-range footprint.
"We looked at those 26 pieces and how big they are and we've looked at the fact they can hit anywhere in the world between 57 north and 57 south and we looked at what the population density of the world is," he said. "Numerically, it comes out to a chance of 1-in-3,200 that one person anywhere in the world might be struck by a piece of debris. Those are obviously very, very low odds that anybody's going to be impacted by this debris."
For comparison, some 42.5 tons of wreckage from the shuttle Columbia hit the ground in a footprint stretching from central Texas to Louisiana when the orbiter broke apart during re-entry in 2003. No one on the ground was injured and no significant property damage was reported.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Prepare Your Business for Google+

Google+ just opened its doors to the world by enabling open signups and moving to the beta, testing phase. The nascent social network is still thin on features and ways for businesses to properly use it, but its minimalist approach has gained Google+ millions of users in a very short period.

If you've tried it out for yourself, you'll know that making your way around Google+ is a simplistic, uncluttered experience compared to that of Facebook.
Back in July, Google promised that business profiles and features would be coming later, and as we get a little closer to when they are supposed to be announced later in 2011, it's time to position your business to take advantage in advance.
What's Coming for Business in Google+?
Google is preparing Google+ for businesses, as Christian Oestlien, Product Manager for Google+, explains in the video below. Rich analytics and the ability to connect to AdWords will be among those features.

Advertising will likely happen when Google rolls out business features, as Oestlien has stated that AdWords will play a part in the new business features. The ability to extend an existing advertising campaign into Google+ where you can target your client's interests will be invaluable. This will also extend Google's ability to advertise to local users for businesses that only offer services within a specific geographic area, exactly as you can on Facebook.
Stake Your Claim on Google+
Google has asked businesses to hold off on claiming user profiles for their businesses on Google+ until it rolls out certain features. This means that companies will likely have their own pages as they currently do on Facebook. As soon as Google+ business features are announced, you'll want to claim your company's home on Google+ by tasking someone in your company to watch for the announcement and setting up your Google+ business profile as soon as it comes.
You'll also want to stick with your company's real name. While it will be tempting to grab other names, such as keywords related to your business or misspelled versions of your company name, I suspect this practice will very likely be against Google policy. In addition to being your home on Google+, your business profile will be a valuable back-link for search engine optimization purposes.
If you've logged on and noticed that someone has taken your company name, don't panic. What they have created is not a business profile, and those are likely to be a little harder to establish than a user profile. This person is likely not from Coca-Cola, for example. Google has been actively cracking down on people who aren't using accounts for personal use only, and you can expect to be shut down if you try.
Prepare a list of influential people in your industry that you can apply later to your Google+ business profile.

What Edge Will Google+ Have Over Facebook?
What Edge Will Google+ Have Over Facebook? Google+ will have a hard slog against Facebook. It will directly compete with the social network that has consistently gotten it right, especially when it comes to business use. Facebook's recently launched business portal is a great all-in-one tool for businesses to manage their presence on Facebook.
Google+ also lacks Facebook's user base of 800 million, although the Google+ user base has blown through 20 million so far and is steadily increasing.
Google's biggest ally against Facebook is Facebook itself. Facebook users have been getting ornery about its massive makeover rolled out this week, to the point where many may look at Google+ as a viable, pared-down alternative. The new Facebook Timeline should be a big concern for all of those new hires in the marketplace who may not want their frat-party status updates resurrected for co-workers on Facebook to see.
There is also the issue of demographics. Google+ is young-adult rich. This is the golden demographic that most marketers want to reach, and being able to reach it through a campaign that can be tracked through Google Analytics is a very attractive value proposition. In addition, there are other tie-in services Google could build into its features for business, which we have covered here.

How Can I Prepare My Ad Campaigns?
Prepare your ad campaigns for Google+You can start researching targeted ad campaigns and the keywords you'll need to use so that when Google+ for business is launched, all you'll need to do is push a button. The first businesses to get on the more competitive keywords on Google+ will likely reap some rich rewards.
Prepare Content for Your Profile
A Google+ business profile is likely to follow the model of the current Google+ user profile. Have a concise, one paragraph description of your company ready, as well as any company logos and product photos that you would want to add. Make sure that your "About" paragraph contains relevant keywords for your business, just like your website copy does.
If we follow the model of the current user profile, videos will be an option as well. If you don't already have a product or company video, consider shooting one, since this can set you apart from your competitors in Google+.
Get Comfortable With Hangouts and Huddles
Google+ Hangouts and Huddles appear extremely useful for videoconferencing and cloud collaboration, and as a webcast platform. While they aren't a replacement for services like GoToMeeting yet, they do a great basic job and may be expanded on in the future.
While we can't say exactly when the new business features will be announced, they're promised for later in 2011, which could mean anytime between now and the end of the year. Prepare your company to hop on as soon as you can.

Lights, Camera, Conversation — Tamil-cinema blues

I hadn't seen a Tamil movie in a while. I convinced myself that wild horses couldn't drag me to the Vikram-starring “Deiva Thirumagal,” which a number of people said was adapted from “I Am Sam.” The problem wasn't the adaptation (if you look at it charitably; “theft” if you want to be brutal) – it's that I do not, anymore, have the stomach for the spectacle of big-name actors brandishing their talents like fireworks in a night sky, playing (I'm looking for the politically correct word here) people with special needs.
I could barely endure Sean Penn doing it (in “I Am Sam”) and Ajay Devgan doing it (in the Hindi adaptation, “Main Aisa Hi Hoon”), and I couldn't bring myself to see Vikram doing it – and it's not because he isn't a good performer. He is. It's just that suspension of disbelief becomes difficult with a long-established actor. We don't lose ourselves in the character because it's the actor who looms before our eyes and we say “look how well this actor is playing that character,” which is not the case when an unknown plays the part.
“Mankatha” I could not see because life took over the weekend it was released, and once you miss something in its first week it becomes increasingly difficult to catch up because other films, newer films, keep getting released and the older ones get elbowed into the background. But this is a film I intend to see for a number of reasons.
One, it's a blockbuster (from what I hear), and as a critic you have to watch the big hits because they tell you what the popular pulse is (and how far from it you usually are). Two, it has Ajith in a negative role (again, from what I hear; I keep away from reviews and interviews until I watch the film so that the mind can remain as much a blank slate as possible). And three, Venkat Prabhu has become a front-line director, and though he's never really lived up to the utterly charming promise he showed in “Chennai-600028” – his subsequent films, “Saroja” and “Goa” were the very definition of diminishing returns – his has become a career worth following.
So when Friday arrived and brought with it two new Tamil releases, I opted for “Vandhan Vendraan” (directed by R Kannan and starring the numerologically empowered Jiiva) over “Engeyum Eppodhum” (directed by M Saravanan, and with Jai and Anjali in the lead). The first ten minutes, pivoting on the casual cruelties of children, are gripping, and then, like a train that's gathered speed only to discover that the tracks have disappeared, the film nosedives into an abyss.
Just about everything that can go wrong goes wrong. Santhanam saunters in with his comedy track – very funny at times, I admit – but his clowning lets the air out of a plot that should have ballooned with pressure. In this mutilation of the film's mood, he is aided by a clutch of badly placed songs and a screenplay that lumbers clumsily between the present and the past and characters who happen upon each other so conveniently it's as if they closed their eyes and thought of who they wanted to meet and were there when they opened their eyes.
And then there's the heroine. Am I the only one disheartened by fair-skinned women who look great frozen on magazine covers but, when thawed on screen, perform like they've arrived from an alien planet? In close-ups, their eyes bulge and their nostrils flare up like infant dragons preparing to spew smoke, and their fingers slash through the air in feral gesticulations even as their lips assume positions that could never form the words we hear in the dialogue on the soundtrack.
Tamil film heroes routinely demonstrate their bravery not by battling burly villains but by facing these actresses mid-performance and not running for their lives. Forget the suspension-of-disbelief issue with Vikram in “Deiva Thirumagal – these girls don't just break the fourth wall, they lunge through the gaping hole and land on our laps as we cower in terror. I am baffled that the female populace of Tamil Nadu hasn't taken to processions of protest at being so offensively misrepresented. This isn't a plea for the banishment of beauty, but isn't anyone alarmed that the Tamil woman on screen has mutated into an alabaster automaton?

Google's Jim Henson doodle lets you be the puppeteer

If you're going to make a Google doodle to celebrate what would have been Muppet master Jim Henson's 75th birthday, September 24, there's no point doing it by halves.
Henson didn't.
So Google worked with both the Jim Henson Company and the Creature Shop to allow everyone in the world to become a puppeteer for a day.
This delightful doodle lets you operate six new, engaging Henson characters digitally.

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Google's Jim Henson doodle lets you be the puppeteer

If you're going to make a Google doodle to celebrate what would have been Muppet master Jim Henson's 75th birthday, September 24, there's no point doing it by halves.
Henson didn't.
So Google worked with both the Jim Henson Company and the Creature Shop to allow everyone in the world to become a puppeteer for a day.
This delightful doodle lets you operate six new, engaging Henson characters digitally.

You are given a hand with which to operate each character. Click on that hand once, the puppet will follow your mouse pointer. Click twice and the puppet opens its mouth.
Yes, you can pretend that your favorite puppet is saying: "What the jumpin' blazes is going down there at Yahoo?!!"
Or: "Groupon? Ya lost any COO's lately?"
Or even: "HP? That's brown sauce in some places, right?"
Henson died aged 53 in 1990, yet his legacy, including characters from "Sesame Street" and "The Muppet Show," has wafted merrily into cultural history.
Google's little homage is a fine tribute to a man who, apparently, began every one of his new creations with, well, a doodle.

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