Thursday, March 31, 2011

Colic folk remedies do not work, review says

That nonstop crying of a baby with colic has some parents turning to popular folk remedies. Unfortunately, there's no good evidence they work, according to a review of 15 studies.

The results don't surprise New York City mom Leni Calas, 32. She tried many treatments studied, including fennel extract, sugar drops and massage, and says nothing worked for baby Roxy, who cried almost nonstop for six months.

"Our daughter would wake up and cry literally morning to night without napping," Calas said. "She would just literally scream herself purple, and then throw up because she had been screaming so much."

Calas said she and her husband couldn't accept what doctors told them — that there was nothing wrong with their baby and that she'd outgrow the crying spells. But that's exactly what happened.

And that's what most doctors believe about colic, which affects up to roughly 20 percent of U.S. babies, usually in the first few months of life.

If a physical problem can be found, the condition is usually not considered colic. Gastric reflux and protein allergies are among conditions that can cause digestive upsets and crying spells in babies, and are often mistakenly called colic.

That may explain why some remedies thought to ease digestive problems may not work in babies with true colic, including alternative treatments containing fennel, herbal teas and probiotics, which all were included in the medical review.
Fifteen studies reviewed

Alternative remedies are not tested and approved by the federal government, and the purity and amounts of their ingredients are not always verified. Parents should always check with their pediatricians if they plan to give their children an alternative treatment, said Dr. Jatinder Bhatia, head of the American Academy of Pediatrics nutrition committee.

The study by researchers at the University of Exeter in England was published online Monday in Pediatrics. The researchers analyzed results from 15 studies on various alternative remedies, massage and chiropractic methods advertised as effective against colic. Overall, almost 1,000 infants were involved.

Few of the studies were rigorously conducted and all had "major limitations," the researchers said.

"Thus, the notion that any form of complementary and alternative medicine is effective for infantile colic is currently not supported from the evidence" studied, they said.

None of the studies reported side effects, but one involving an herbal remedy listed vomiting, constipation and other symptoms possibly related to the treatment.

Although there were promising signs with a few treatments, including fennel extract, herbal teas and sugar solutions, better research is needed to provide conclusive evidence, said researcher Rachel Perry, the review's lead author.

Bhatia, a professor at Georgia Health Sciences University, said the study results don't mean that none of the treatments will work for any baby. Some parents do report success with alternative remedies. Sometimes that might be because parents think it will work and they feel calmer, which can in turn calm the baby — a placebo effect.

Parents should always check with their pediatricians if they plan to give their children an alternative treatment, said Bhatia.

For Leni Calas' baby Roxy, now almost 2, the incessant crying spells tapered down and by 9 months disappeared.

Calas said she's convinced of one thing "that no one wants to hear — that the only thing that really does cure it is time."

High bacteria levels in bean sprouts

For many, the sprout is the epitome of a healthy food: rich with vitamins, minerals, proteins, not to mention crunchy, tasty and green.

But research by CBC's investigative team (I-Team) that included an analysis by a University of British Columbia expert has found high levels of bacteria in packaged sprouts, enough to make consumers turn green.

Sprouts, including mung beans and alfalfa sprouts, have become a common food item in grocery stores, salad bars and Asian dishes across Canada.

For Peggy LaLune, who made a stirfry for her family last summer, the only difference between hers and the one she served her son was that his did not contain sprouts.

Within a few hours, LaLune was doubled over with cramps and stomach pains.

"It was horrible, and I ended up getting really, really sick throughout the night," she said.

"I couldn't venture very far from the washroom, and at one point it was so bad that I thought I was going to have to yell to my son to come and get me and take me to the hospital."

According to Health Canada, most sprouts, including alfalfa sprouts, can only be eaten raw. This means they are not exposed to temperatures high enough to kill any possible bacteria.
Fecal contamination

The I-Team asked Kevin Allen, a microbiology professor at the University of British Columbia, to test 44 packages of sprouts from across the country.

"What we were looking at was whether the produce is dirtier than it should be [and] in some of the cases, we certainly saw this," he said.

There was no salmonella but Allen found 93 per cent tested positive for bacteria, and in some cases, high levels of enterococci bacteria, which is an indicator of fecal contamination.

"They [bacteria found] come from our intestinal tract and we don't want the contents of our intestinal tract on our food," he said.

If ingested, the bacteria aren't generally harmful to healthy people, but for those with weakened immune systems, it could reduce the effectiveness of antibiotics and allow for the spread of disease.

Sprouts are particularly susceptible to contaminants because they are grown in moist, warm environments, which are ideal for the rapid growth of bacteria, Allen said, adding that washing them before consuming them likely wouldn't help.

Seeds may become contaminated by animal manure in the field or during storage, and poor hygienic practices in the production of sprouts have also caused some outbreaks of food-borne illness in the past, according to Health Canada.

"Personally, I don't consume sprouts and I would not feed them to my children, either," Allen said.

But it wasn't just the packages of sprouts that contained the unwelcome, extra contents.

Allen also tested 106 samples of bagged veggies and found 79 per cent of the herbs and 50 per cent of the spinach had similar bacterial contamination.

Thoroughly cooking those products is the best way to kill the bacteria.

Food dye risks need more study: U.S. panel

An advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recommended that the agency further study the link between food colouring and childhood hyperactivity, but said products that contain the dyes do not need package warnings.

The committee, made up of doctors, academics and consumer representatives, narrowly voted 8-6 that food packages don't need warnings flagging food colourings that could affect attention deficit disorder in children. Packages now must list the food colourings, but there is no warning about a possible link to hyperactivity.

The panel agreed with the FDA and affirmed that there is not enough evidence to show that certain food dyes cause hyperactivity in the general population of children. They also agreed that diets eliminating food dyes may work for some children.

Health Canada is completing its review of comments received during a 2010 consultation on proposed improvements to labelling of food dyes. The department encourages food manufacturers to voluntarily declare food colours by their individual common names on food labels.

Yuri Gagarin’s 1961 flight into Outer Space

Soviet pilot and cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel into space on 12 April 1961, handing a propaganda coup to the Soviet Union. Here are some facts about his historic mission.

* The flight lasted 108 minutes from launch to landing and orbited the Earth once.

* The mission was called Vostok 1 after the type of Soviet spacecraft it was carried out in.

* Some sources claimed afterwards that Gagarin had remarked during the flight “I don’t see any God up here.” But no such words were recorded in the official transcript of the flight and his friends later said the phrase had originated from an anti-religion speech given by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.

* Gagarin was made a Hero of the Soviet Union for the flight and quickly became a global celebrity touring the world.

* Gagarin claimed to have whistled a patriotic song called “The Motherlands Hears, The Motherland Knows” during re-entry.

Report: Windows 8 seeds being sent to PC makers

A report says Microsoft is already sending early versions of Windows 8 to PC makers so they can get ready for an expected launch in 2012.

According to Microsoft news-and-rumors siteWinRumors, Microsoft has begun seeding selected manufacturers with early builds of Windows 8 so they can get ready for the operating systems’ general release, currently expected for sometime in 2012. According to the report, Microsoft is seeding a “milestone 3″ build to Hewlett-Packard and other vendors

Microsoft has had relatively little to say in public about Windows 8: after all, the company is still riding high on the retail success of Windows 7. At the beginning of the year, the company said it had sold more than 300 million copies of the operating system, although that figure was a little below estimates as sales of tablets and smartphones ate into netbook sales, a product category Microsoft’s CFO characterizes as “past their prime.”

Last year, Microsoft’s Dutch Web site made a fleeting reference to a 2012 timeframe for Windows 8; past that, the only real indication of a Windows 8 release date is that Microsoft’s server team was gearing up for a major release in 2012. Releases of Windows Server typically follow shortly on the heels of major desktop operating system releases. Other information has been limited to industry speculation, a purported series of leaked screenshots, and rumors that Microsoft and OEM manufacturers are working on Windows 8 tablets, possibly for a 2012 release.

To date, the only real information about Windows 8 is that Microsoft plans to support ARM CPUs in addition to Intel-based processors, a move that bolsters the notion that Microsoft is targeting portable devices like tablets and “slates” as well as traditional desktop and notebook computers.

Yahoo! takes on Google, social networking sites

Hyderabad, : Once a favourite with Indian Internet users, who later shifted loyalties, Yahoo! seems to be in a reload phase to win back the lost ground and take competition from Google and social networking sites head on.

The mail, search and news portal has lined up Search Direct for release in the second half of this year. The service, which targets Google's prompt-based search, will provide answers based on the user needs.

“Users do not come to a search engine with just search strings. They expect some useful information. For one, if you type Spiderman, you may specifically be looking for reviews on the film, film tickets, pictures or news,” Mr Prabhakar Raghavan, Chief Scientist and Senior Vice-President and Head of Yahoo! Labs, said.

Like in Google search, one will get prompts. But the similarity ends there. “You will get answers as categories as you begin to key in the search string. You can directly go to the category,” he said.

Mr Prabhakar, who was here to take part in the 20th World Wide Web Conference, said Yahoo! registered 30 million users a month in India and 74 per cent of all the net users in the country. With the user base growing, the company is planning to replicate a survey it conducted in the US to measure effectiveness (of Web content, including advertisements).

The company, which claims it registers 100 crore clicks every day in its homepage in India, said its Content Optimisation tool would allow users to see content based on their preferences.

The hybrid model picks trends based on the patterns in ‘clicks' and gives editors tools to pick relevant content.

The tool, which at present is offered to English users, would be expanded soon to its regional content, which was not so dynamic.

On Yahoo! facing competition not just from Google or MSN but also from social networking sites, he said the company is working on a Status message option to allow users to collaborate in smaller groups.

By picking threads from the message sharing pattern, users can talk on a one-to-a-few basis as against one-to-many in social networking sites.

Mr Prabhakar said the Internet should be open and any efforts to stack on the basis of Operating Systems and exclusive applications could defeat the spirit of the Web that was built on openness.

Of its total workforce of 14,000 globally, Yahoo! has 2,000 employees at its R&D facility in Bangalore.

Kalam's Web mantra for societal transformation

HYDERABAD, INDIA: "Don't keep forever on the public road, going only where others have gone. Leave the beaten track occasionally and dive into the woods. You will be certain to find something you have never seen before. It will be a little thing, but do not ignore it. Follow it up, explore all around it; one discovery will lead to another, and before you know it, you will have something worth thinking about...”

With this quote from Alexander Graham Bell, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, former President of India, started his keynote address at the 20th International Worldwide Web Conference, Hyderabad, on Wednesday.

Dr. Kalam centered his keynote address around "Web for societal transformation". Addressing the over 700 delegates he said the Web has had a glorious existence over two decades and has revolutionized the way we work and live.

"It has been the catalyst for proliferating information across boundaries, enabling effective communication and 24/7 service availability, all leading to a digital, information-based economy that we have today."

However, he said, its direct influence has reached only a small percentage of human population. He advised Indian enterprises to adopt a mindset to spread their wings to reach to the unreached by a mix of global approach with a local cultural accent. "That would enrich all the sectors of the economy thereby promoting economic progress in the developing world."

The ordinary citizen in a rural area, by proper communication and appropriate tools, may have to be convinced that the investment and time on World Wide Web is indeed useful for ultimately increasing his/her per-capita income. They must feel that the value-added service is worth extending their native knowledge, increasing their productivity, opening new horizons for themselves and their children, he added.

"Suppose a farmer or a home maker in a village using his or her mobile phone, should be able to ask a question in the local language. This question would be translated into multitudes of other languages used for searching the knowledge base. It should cull out the right information instead of giving tonnes of irrelevant data for a certain type specific question or key words or combination of both in verbal form,” he said.

Also Read: Translation is now a mouse click away

“The culled out information may be collated, they translate them back to the language in which the query was raised and human like voice output with the friendliness and affection of a teacher is transmitted to the phone all in a blink,” added Kalam.

He asked researchers to think of building such a system or standard or tool using the emerging Web 3.0 technologies which is called Semantic Web, so that machines can perform more of the tedious work involved in finding, combining, and acting upon information on the web.

“A new revolution will set in to make a difference to the life of the common man using the Web 3.0 technologies. It has a direct impact on the lives of the 700 million people who are living in the rural areas and will benefit a number of other developing countries using the mobile device as their Personal Knowledge Assistant, instead them having to learn to use the computer to access the necessary right information in right time,” he said

Google accuses China of blocking email

Google said Monday the Chinese government is interfering with its email services in China, making it difficult for users to access its Gmail program, amid an intensified internet crackdown following widespread unrest in the Middle East.

"There is no technical issue on our side; we have checked extensively. This is a government blockage carefully designed to look like the problem is with Gmail," the company said in a brief statement.

China has some of the world's strictest internet controls and blocks many popular social media sites, including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. The government intensified those efforts after pro-democracy protest erupted across the Middle East in January.

Around that time, anonymous calls for protesters to gather for a "Jasmine Revolution" in China triggered a crackdown by Chinese authorities, who stepped up web censorship and deployed huge numbers of police to planned protest sites. No protests happened.

A Google spokesperson said users in China, the world's most populous internet market, have reported having intermittent problems with the service since the end of January.

Problems include difficulty accessing the home page for Gmail and problems sending emails when logged into the service. The instant messaging function is often not working as well.

Google officials said the blocking appears to be more sophisticated than other problems experienced by users in the past because the disruption is not a complete block.

In addition, a March 11 blog post by Google about security said the company had "noticed some highly targetted and apparently politically motivated attacks against our users. We believe activists may have been a specific target." In the posting, Google declined to elaborate on which activists had been targetted or where the attacks had come from.

A company spokesperson refused to say if Google has raised the issue directly with Chinese government officials.

China's Foreign Ministry had no immediate comments on Google's accusation.

Google has had highly public run-ins with the Chinese government.

In January last year, Google announced that it would no longer co-operate with the government's requirement to censor search results for banned sites. It also complained about major attacks on its website by Chinese hackers, suggesting the government may have instigated the attacks.

Attacks were also mounted against email accounts by activists working on human rights in China at that time.

Google moved its Chinese-language search engine to Hong Kong, which operates under separate rules from the rest of mainland China.

Nations Help Tigers Claw Back from Extinction

Endangered tigers are back in the spotlight at an international conference in India this week, where representatives from all 13 Asian countries where tigers still roam have gathered to work out the practicalities of saving a species from extinction.

The conference in New Delhi comes on the heels of the world's first tiger summit, hosted in November of last year by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

The landmark meeting in St. Petersburg brought together high-level government officials from all Asian tiger range countries, along with conservation groups and donor nations, and produced the Global Tiger Recovery Program (GTRP), an international agreement aimed at, among other things, doubling today's wild tiger population — roughly 3,200 animals — by the year 2022. [See remaining and extinct tiger subspecies.]

How to accomplish such bold aims is the subject of this week's meeting, according to Mike Baltzer, head of conservation group WWF's Tigers Alive Initiative.

"St. Petersburg was, 'What we are going to do?'" Baltzer told OurAmazingPlanet. "This meeting is all about implementation — how are we going to do it?"

The answer is different in each Asian country where tigers live, and each country is presenting plans of action this week.

However, all tiger range countries will now at least have one thing in common: a monitoring system to count wild tigers and share data across all 13 nations. Baltzer called the development a major step forward.

The first day of the meeting was devoted to India's own work in tiger conservation, and the host country, which is home to roughly half the world's wild tigers, announced both good news and bad news.

First, the overall number of tigers across India has increased by about 225 animals, for a grand total of 1,706 tigers, officials said.

But while India saw an overall increase in wild tigers since its last count, in 2007, some tiger reserves saw a decrease in animals, almost entirely due to professional poaching.

"Poaching for illegal trade and tiger products is still a major problem," said Sabri Zain, advocacy director for TRAFFIC International, a global wildlife trade monitoring group.

Zain said the next step is to decrease demand for tiger parts on the consumer level, a task which will be different in each tiger range state.

"In the past you would put a cute picture of a tiger on a poster and tell everyone, 'Don't do this, don't do that,' but that's preaching to the converted," Zain said.

Zain said now it's a question of molding education and public awareness efforts to fit unique markets for tiger parts. In Indonesia, the demand for tiger skins for amulets is keeping smuggling alive, whereas in a place like Vietnam, tiger meat may be the biggest driver of illegal trade.

Both Baltzer and Zain, who are attending the meeting in New Delhi, say the enthusiasm of all tiger range countries for saving the endangered species is incredibly encouraging, but stressed that funding for tiger conservation is still scarce in some countries.

"As we are making these plans, tigers are dying," Zain said. "So there has to be a sense of urgency and these plans need to be implemented as quickly as possible. They need to be translated to boots on the ground."

Sebi forms panel on corporate bond market

Market regulator the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) today constituted a 16-member committee which will suggest a roadmap for developing corporate bond market in the country.

The 'Corporate Bonds & Securitisation Advisory Committee' would be chaired by RH Patil, chairman of Clearing Corporation of India (CCIL), the regulator said in a statement.

The committee, which includes representatives from the Sebi, RBI and independent experts, would advise the regulator on development of corporate bond market and the market for securitised instruments in the country.

Members of the committee include Nimesh N Kampani (Chairman, JM Financial), Rajiv Lall (MD & CEO, IDFC), Chitra Ramakrisha (Joint MD, NSE) and B Prasanna (MD & CEO, ICICI Securities- PD), among others.

The committee would "advise Sebi on implementing the recommendations of the high-level committee on corporate bonds and securitisation", it said.

It would also suggest removal of regulatory hurdles and advise on issues which need to be taken up with other regulators as also highlight the operational and systemic risks, if any, in the corporate bonds and securitised instruments market.

"This would help make the corporate bond and securitisation market more active and dynamic," SMC Global Securities Strategist & Head of Research Jagannadham Thunuguntla said.

Pursuant to the announcement made in the Union Budget, 2005-06, the government had appointed a 'High Level Expert Committee' on corporate bonds and securitisation.

The committee was appointed to examine legal, regulatory, tax and market design issues in the development of the corporate bond market.

The committee's recommendations included enhancing the issuer as well as investor base of corporate bonds, simplification of listing and disclosure norms, rationalisation of stamp duty and withholding tax and consolidation of debt.

The committee had also suggested improving trading system through introduction of an electronic order matching system, efficient clearing and settlement systems, a comprehensive reporting mechanism, developing market conventions and self-regulation and development of the securitised debt market.

Earlier this month, the Sebi allowed listing of securitised debt instruments or certificates on exchanges, and said that the move would help improve the secondary market liquidity for such instruments.

Securitisation involves pooling of financial assets and the issuance of securities that are re-paid from the cash flows generated by these assets.

Common assets for securitisation include credit cards, mortgages, auto and consumer loans, student loans, corporate debt, export receivable and offshore remittances.

India’s gold demand to grow to 1,200 tonnes by 2020: WGC

Mumbai, : Gold demand in India will continue to grow and is likely to reach 1,200 tonnes or approximately Rs 2.5 trillion by 2020, at current price levels, according to a research by World Gold Council (WGC).

“The rise of India as an economic power will continue to have gold at its heart. India already occupies a unique position in the world gold market, and as private wealth in India surges over the next ten years, so will Indian demand for gold,” WGC Managing Director, India and the Middle East, Mr Ajay Mitra said in a statement here.

Indian gold demand has grown 25 per cent despite 400 per cent price rise of the rupee in the last decade, it said adding that this research reaffirms the country as a key driver of global gold demand and expects increase by over 30 per cent in real terms, it said.

‘India: Heart of Gold’ is the second in a series of WGC research with focus on India, which includes forecasts from the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy (CMIE).

Mr Mitra said: “Furthermore, gold will remain auspicious given its connection with tradition, whether religious or attitudinal, will remain powerful.”

He pointed out that Indians tend to be risk averse and place great faith in the wealth preservation qualities of gold, which inspires confidence, stability and security.

“Therefore, the view that Indian demand for gold will be driven by the concept of enduring value, not price,” he said.

Govt relaxes FDI norms to boost inflow of overseas capital

To boost FDI inflows, government on Thursady provided greater flexibility to Indian firms to raise overseas capital and scrapped norms that required a foreign company to obtain its domestic JV partner's approval for making investments in same field outside the joint venture.

Under the new norms, Indian companies have been allowed to issue equity against import of capital goods.

The rules also liberalise conditions for seeking foreign investment for production and development of agriculture seeds and planting material.

The facility of conversion of capital goods import into equity was earlier available only to companies raising external commercial borrowings (ECBs).

The government has made these changes in its third Consolidated FDI Policy Circular, a ready reckoner on foreign investment, which was released on Thursday.

Under the present dispensation, a foreign player who entered India before January 12, 2005 has to take government approval and "demonstrate" that fresh investment in the same field would not affect the interest of his domestic joint venture partner. The changes will help foreign investors who entered JVs after this date.

"It is expected that this measure will promote the competitiveness of India as an investment destination and be instrumental in attracting higher levels of FDI and technology inflows into the country," the Circular said.

Commenting on the issue, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) Secretary R P Singh said that in the present business environment, this provision was unfair and was also hindering the growth of manufacturing sector.

"It (the provision) was discriminatory...we feel that some of the Indian companies were unfairly blocking the new companies to come up and they were trying to seek rent out of this, which we thought was unfair," Singh said.

Last year, a discussion paper was released by the DIPP on the need for a review of this condition.

Further simplifying the policy, the government has also classified companies into two categories -- ''companies owned or controlled by foreign investors'' and ''companies owned and controlled by Indian investors''.

The government has done away with the earlier categorisation of ''investing companies'', ''operating companies'' and ''investing-cum-operating companies''.

On this matter, DIPP said: "The guidelines have been redrafted in a manner that makes them simpler and easier to read. There is no change in the policy."

During the 11-month (April-February) period this fiscal, FDI inflows into India declined by 25% to USD 18.3 billion.

Abhishek, Kangana To Pair In RGV's Department

Mumbai: Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut  will act  opposite Abhishek Bachchan as his better half in Ram Gopal Varma’s ‘Department’, says a media report.

RGV said, “I wondered why we haven’t worked together as yet! Kangna very much fits into my vision as a filmmaker. She is intense and emotional on screen. I’ve wanted to work with her, from the time she appeared in ‘Gangster’ and ‘Woh Lamhe’. But I didn’t want to cast her in anything insignificant. The role had to justify her presence.”

Sanjay Dutt and Amitabh Bachchan will aslo be a part of the project. Kangna is the only female lead in the film.

“It is very much a guys’ film, with only one major female character. The story is about three cops and the extra-constitutional activities they engage in to maintain a civil society. Kangna is the only person in the world that Abhishek’s character can share his agony with. She plays a very intense role in this dark, gritty and real drama,” added Varma.

Mixed Reaction In Bollywood To Shiney's Conviction For Rape

Mumbai: From surprise, sympathy, criticism to faith in judiciary, actor Shiney Ahuja’s conviction in a rape case has evoked mixed reaction in film fraternity.

The 38-year-old actor, who made his debut in 2003 in Sudhir Mishra’s critically acclaimed ‘Hazaaron Khwahishein Aisi’, was yesterday sentenced to seven-year rigorous jail term by a court here for raping his maid in 2009. Shiney has pleaded innocence and will challenge the conviction.

“I was surprised with the verdict as even after the maid retracted her statement (denying rape charge), the court pronounced him guilty. I have interacted with him and he did not come across as a person of that brutal nature. I believe the fight for good is not easy,” filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt told PTI here.

Bhatt, who produced the 2006 hit ‘Gangster’ featuring the actor, said the conviction was a blow to Shiney. “It is a dark dead end for him.”

“Look at the brighter side of the conviction than listening to those who believe the legal system does injustice in such cases. Despite the victim retracting her statement, the court held him guilty,” he said.

“The court might have some evidence to hold him guilty. I have heard he is going to appeal against the conviction I am sure the truth will come out,” said actor-producer Farhan Akhtar.

“We have a legal system in our country; so if he is saying the truth then he will come out free. I feel bad for the family and his first child and wish a for lot of strength for them,” Akhtar said.

Farhan dismissed the suggestion that the judgement will adversely affect the image of the Hindi film industry.

“There is no relation between the case and the industry. I guess it makes no difference as it is individual action. If we have one sportsman fixing a match that does not mean we call the entire team match fixers?” “I have nothing much to say about it. We have our legal system and law will take its own course. We have to follow the legal system,” actor Abhishek Bachchan said.

Actor Arshad Warsi came out in support of Shiney, saying “judiciary should stop targeting actors”.  “I am NOT saying he’s right, but don’t forget that (Ajmal) Kasab (26/11 convict) is still enjoying our hospitality. Murderers, terrorists and corrupt politicians are walking free and Shiney Ahuja gets seven years (in jail).  Judiciary should stop targeting actors so blatantly,” Arshad wrote on micro-blogging site twitter.

“My point is all criminals should be punished. It’s not fair to make an example of an actor only because it makes news. Do you know the no. of rapes that take place in our country on a daily basis involving influential and connected people...those cases r not even registered,” Arshad said.  PTI

SRK's 'Ishaan' Launches Music Album

Mumbai : Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment’s musical television teen drama ‘Ishaan’ has launched its music album.

Disney Channel’s popular television series, ‘Ishaan’ launched its new music album on March 29.

The album comprises nine exciting tracks featured on Ishaan and special bonus track from the original king of Disco Bappi Lahiri.

The album features peppy tracks sung by young artists Nikhil D’souza, Remo Ghosh, Debopriya Bannerjee, Rajiv Sndaresan, Kaizad Gerda and Pawni Pandey.

“'Ishaan' is the first locally produced musical for teens on Indian television and for the first time a television show’s music is launched featuring original tracks. This initiative sets a new standard within the industry that we will continue to maintain and challenge,” Walt Disney Television International India, vice president and general manager, Natasha Malhotra said.

Well known music directors Anand Ranganathan, Dhruv Ghanekar along with Kaizad Gerda and Kabir Singh has arranged music for the show. The lyrics of the songs have been composed by Irfan Siddiqui and P.A. Sreekanth.

“Working on Ishaan music has been a fun and exciting experience. It’s been a pleasure to collaborate with some gifted young artists and bring Disney’s storytelling alive through the music,” Music director Dhruv Ghanekar said.

The songs on the album have a contemporary pop feel and range from fun-filled catchy tunes like ‘I’m the one’, to acoustic love ballads like ‘Jo Pyaar Ho Raha Hai’ to the fan favourite rock song ‘Sapno ko awaz de’, Ghanekar said.

The album will be available in all major retail stores across India. PTI

WWW Inventor Demands International Regulation

Hyderabad : The international regulation of internet, which is yet to take shape, may have a multi-stakeholder system once it is formed, inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee said today.

Berners-Lee, who is the director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), a body that sets benchmarks and standards for the Internet, said a lot of discussions and deliberations are underway on various aspects of internet regulation and the implementation of the same in different countries.

“At the moment a lot of discussion is going on whether international governance (on internet) should be through the countries or if it should be done independently. I think probably we will end up with multi-stakeholder system where some of it comes from organisations like United Nations and foundations,” he told media persons on the sidelines of the 20th International World Wide Web conference here.

Web is free and unconditional, and without any government intervention. However, there is an absolute requirement for monitoring it by a global body and that is different from intervention, he said.

Berners-Lee, however, cautioned that monitoring is different from intervention and there will be a deeper requirement in the foreseeable future to monitor the web and that has to be based on global standards.

He felt implementation of regulation will be a tough job given the different jurisdictions of countries.

“One of the problems is coordination among law enforcement agencies across different countries,” he said.

According to media reports, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called for ‘global internet standards’ that would allow for the freedom of information flow while limiting abuses and illegal activity online.

French administration too reportedly said that it wanted to gather the opinion of Internet operators on the issue of what regulation is needed for the internet, before the upcoming G8 summit, slated for May 26-27, to be held in Deauville, in northern France.

To a query, Berners-Lee said in India women do not participate in public life much and internet can be used for further educating them. PTI

US Gives Thumbs Up To PM's Cricket Diplomacy

Washington : The US today welcomed the cricket diplomacy of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, saying expansion of dialogue between India and Pakistan is a welcome and encouraging development for the region and the world.

“The expansion of dialogue between India and Pakistan is a welcome and encouraging development for both countries, for the region, and for the world. It builds on the substantial progress achieved by the Interior and Home Secretaries earlier this week,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

“The United States congratulates the people of Pakistan and India on the cricket match between the two nations’ teams, and their respective Prime Ministers on their promising “cricket diplomacy”, Toner added.

The semifinal match between India and Pakistan, he said, showcased world-class cricket, sportsmanship, and statesmanship.

India defeated Pakistan to enter the finals.  The United States welcomes the ongoing engagement between India and Pakistan.

“We continue to believe that talks should continue at a pace, time, and scope of the two governments’ choosing.

We applaud both leaders and their citizens for the creative initiative, warm spirit and friendly competition on display during the match,” Toner said. PTI

Pak PM Hails Mohali Talks As 'Milestone'

Islamabad : Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani today described his interaction with the Indian leadership in Mohali as a “milestone” in opening a new chapter of good neighbourly relations and cooperation.

Gilani, in an official statement issued by his office today, said the World Cup semi-final match in Mohali provided a “very useful opportunity to the leadership of Pakistan and India to get together and discuss the whole gamut of bilateral relations”.

“The Prime Minister has termed his interaction with the Indian leadership as a milestone on the way of opening up a new chapter of good neighbourly relations and cooperation between the two countries,” he said.

The warmth and hospitality shown by the Indian leadership and people to Gilani, his entourage and Pakistan’s cricket team reflected “the shared sentiments of goodwill between our two people which needs to be built upon for sustained and long-lasting peace and amity between the two countries”, the statement quoted Gilani as saying.

Gilani visited India at the invitation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to watch yesterday’s keenly contested cricket semi-final clash between the two countries, which India won.

The Prime Minister will invite members of Pakistan’s cricket team, on their return to the country, to commend them on their performance in the World Cup and to encourage them for better results in future, the statement said.

The team is expected to arrive in Pakistan via Dubai early tomorrow morning. PTI

Hasan Ali Approaches SC, Fails To Get Relief

New Delhi : Pune-based stud-farm owner Hasan Ali Khan, accused of money-laundering and stashing away huge amounts in foreign banks, today approached the Supreme Court challenging a lower court’s order allowing the ED to interrogate him in its office while being in judicial custody.

An apex court bench, however, refused to entertain Khan’s plea saying he has not filed any application or petition before it against the lower court order and it cannot pass any order on the basis of oral submission.

Advocate Santosh Paul, appearing for Khan, orally brought matter to the notice of a bench of justices B Sudershan Reddy and S S Nijjar, that the order passed by the lower court is illegal and it should be stayed.

A Mumbai sessions court had yesterday allowed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to take Khan, now lodged in Arthur Road jail under judicial custody, to take him to its office in south Mumbai every day between 10.30 am to 5.30 pm till April 1 for interrogation.

On March 25, the sessions court had remanded Ali to judicial custody till April 8. Ali was arrested in the first week of March.

The apex court had earlier refused to interfere with its order cancelling the bail granted Khan.

It turned down the plea to reconsider the March 17 order of the vacation bench which had cited “extraordinary circumstances” of the case in staying the order of Mumbai Principal Sessions Judge M L Tahaliyani on March 11 granting bail to the 53-year-old stud farm owner.

It, however, allowed Khan to move an application seeking bail before the Special judge in Mumbai which will deal with it without being influenced by the order and observations of the apex court.

Khan is also facing a Rs 70,000 crore tax demand notice from the Income-Tax Department as well as the ED probe.

The ED arrested Khan on March 7 after being pulled up by the Supreme Court for its failure to ensure his custodial interrogation. But the trial court had let him off. PTI

Over Rs 1,600 Cr Loss In Contracts For CWG Venues: Shunglu

New Delhi : “It appears as if to economise was criminal and to splurge was civil.” This was the observation made by the high-level Shunglu Committee which found a loss of over Rs 1,600 crore in construction and renovation of venues for Commonwealth Games by different government agencies.

In its fourth report on Games venues, the Committee has blamed senior officials of civic and construction government agencies like Central Public Works Department (CPWD), Delhi Development Authority (DDA), Public Works Department (PWD), New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and RITES among others for inordinate delays, inflated prices and rigged tender process.

The Committee found Rs 800 crore as cost of delay in completing construction of all the games and training venues across the national capital and said that financial oversight by different agencies resulted in undue gain of over Rs 250 crore to contractors.

The HLC said that there was an estimated Rs 574 crore of “wasteful expenditure” on certain types of assets.

The Committee, constituted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to look into the complaints of corruption in Games projects, scrutinised works related to construction of 16 Games venues at the cost of Rs 3,718.19 crore and 10 training venues worth Rs 829.10 crore.

“It has been observed that even in case of Games venues, there was a long period of inaction on the part of all stakeholders, viz. Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, OC, Venue Owners, Sport Federations. Despite most of the Games Venues getting identified in the year 2003 itself, no preparatory action was taken by the Venue Owners...The Venue Owners and /or their consultants unduly delayed submission of ‘Return Briefs’,” it said.

The final selection of Competition and Training Venues by OC was done only in December, 2005. “This delay was compounded by the delay in preparation and finalisation of venue briefs.  Consequently, the process of award and commencement of work at various Games Venues was inordinately delayed and the ‘emergency’ clause in various contracts got activated.

“Thus, despite being forced to accept a ‘steep increase’ in project cost (ranging between 5 to 10 per cent) and accepting very high tenders, not a single Games Venue could be completed on schedule,” the report said.

The two-member Committee under the chairmanship of former Comptroller and Auditor General V K Shunglu pointed procedural violations by CPWD, DDA, NDMC, PWD, RITES or Engineers India Limited (EIL).

The panel objected to Rs 30 crore spent on security by Ministry of Home Affairs at Ramjas College, Shri Ram College of Commerce, Kirori Mall College, Daulat Ram College, Polo Ground, Delhi Public School R K Puram, Jamia Millia Sports Complex, Saket Sports Complex, Shivaji Stadium and Chhatrasal Stadium.

“It defies logic why the Ministry of Home Affairs decided to spend over 30 crore on installation of sophisticated cameras and other security gadgets at 14 Training Venues where large number of spectators were not expected.

“Threat perception could have been managed through other less expensive means during the duration of the Games. The legacy value of the expensive security apparatus installed is also not clear,” the Committee said.

The HLC noted “glaring” instance is the cost of seats that have been installed in various Competition and Training Venues which range between Rs 1,165 per chair installed in the Upper Tier of Jawahar Lal Nehru Stadium to Rs 7,781 per chair in the still incomplete Shivaji Stadium.

“Concerned CPWD officials are prima facie guilty of aiding and abetting this process of defrauding the Government...,” the Committee said.

Giving details of irregularities at Talkatora Indoor Stadium, the panel said “an ineligible firm was appointed as consultant and the contract for construction was awarded to Simplex on a single tender basis.

“Administrative approval and Expenditure sanction was obtained for an astronomical Rs 150 crore. The contract amount was Rs 72.18 crore against the estimated cost of 38.8 crore,” it said.

The HLC pointed finger at Anil Khanna, Treasurer of OC and Secretary General of All India Tennis Association (AITA) for renovation work at R K Khanna Tennis Stadium.

“In case of the artificial surface used at R K Khanna Tennis Stadium, it was observed that a ‘conflict of interest’ situation existed as Anil Khanna, was the treasurer of OC and also the Secretary General of AITA and had a hand in suggesting the type of surface to be used.

“Since the contract was awarded to his son Aditya, who was the CEO of the Indian branch of Rebound Ace, suspicion of his being indirectly instrumental in getting the contracts awarded linger,” the report said.

The Committee found evidence of criminal misconduct and managerial lapses on part of higher functionaries including Chairman of New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), Director General of Central Public Works Departments (CPWD), senior officials of Delhi Development Authority and Engineers India Limited among others.

The Committee recommended that all sports facilities should be opened to use by athletes and sports persons. “All such athletes who have represented District, State, College, University and the country at recognised District, State, National or International level meets/tournaments should be allowed free access to these facilities,” it said.

Shunglu panel based its findings after scrutinising construction and renovation projects at Jawahar Lal Nehru Sports Complex, Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Swimming Pool Complex, Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range, Indira Gandhi Sports Complex - Cycling Velodrome, Thyagraj Sports Complex, Shivaji Stadium and Talkatora Indoor Stadium.

It also assessed works and found irregularities at Siri Fort Sports Complex, Yamuna Sports Complex, R K Khanna Tennis Stadium, Delhi University - Competition & Training Venues and Training Venue for Rugby at Jamia Millia Islamia. PTI

Delhi Police Announces Reward In Neetu Sonlanki's Murder

New Delhi : Delhi Police today announced a reward of Rs 50,000 for those who help investigators in arresting a 30-year-old man who allegedly murdered his woman companion and left her body in a bag near New Delhi railway station here last month.

City Police Commissioner B K Gupta announced the reward for those who provide information regarding Raju Gehlot, who is accused in the murder of a law graduate Neetu Solanki on February 10 and dumped her body.

“The reward is for Rs 50,000. It hold good for a period of one year with immediate effect for any one who may give any information about the accused,” a senior police official said.

The accused has a medium built with a height 5’7” and wheatish complexion.

Gehlot’s alleged involvement in the crime came to light after the arrest of his relative Naveen Shokeen, who allegedly helped him to go into hiding after the murder.

Shokeen had told police that his relative Gehlot, who holds a masters degree in tourism management and an “absentee” employee of Indian Airlines, allegedly murdered Solanki who was living with the latter.

The body of Neetu was found outside the railway station on February 11 inside an airbag and had remained unidentified till  February 23 when her father approached police to claim the body. The body bore injury marks. She also had a tattoo on her body and ring on navel.

The investigations into the murder got a headway after the girl’s father Kartar Singh approached police and identified her. According to her father, Neetu, who had worked in BPOs of IBM and Convergys, had left her home in May 2010 claiming that she was going to Singapore.

“The father told us that she was staying with Gehlot, a resident of Navada village in west Delhi. However, he was not aware where she was staying. He also told us that she had other male friends also,” the official said.

“We received an information that Gehlot was in touch with his various relatives and getting logistic support from them. We zeroed in on Shokeen who is residing in Nangloi,” he said.

Shokeen told police that Gehlot had called him on February 11 early morning and asked for a vehicle.

“Shokeen said that Gehlot told him that he had killed Neetu and wanted a vehicle to dispose off the body,” he said.  “Shokeen did not provide him any vehicle so Gehlot tried a radio taxi service. This also he could not arrange.

However, in another vehicle he carried the body to the railway station and dumped it there,” he said. PTI

Cancer can be thrown away by an aspirin

There is a counting of millions across India to reduce them of pain. They must be guarded against heart disease and cardiac arrest.

Moreover it is that cancer can be avoided by having a single pill low dose aspirin daily. This is found by a new research.

On Tuesday, scientists have discovered there may be 20% lower chance of being diagnosed and dying of various types of cancer by having low-dose Aspirin - just 75 mg daily to those who take it, it was found while researching in the Lancet. But they may have cancers who don't take it.

Dr Peter Rothwell from the Oxford University who has made a team has researched over 25,000 patients in eight studies and found that aspirin decreased cancer death by 21%.

Also there was decrease in death rates by 34% for all types of cancers and 54% for gastrointestinal cancers which took five years to discover.

There was 20% of fall for all cancers and 35% lower for gastrointestinal cancers in the death rates after 20 years.

Hastings hospice opened again after 6 months

A Hastings hospice that had been compelled to shut down half a year ago will re-start its inpatient palliative care service.

The Hawke's Bay District Health Board had taken control of Cranford Hospice in May after an independent audit had come across a dysfunctional relationship between the staff and a disapproving working environment.

Around 50 hospice and hospital staff attended a thanksgiving service on Monday at the Hawke's Bay hospital's chapel.

The ceramic guardian angel of Cranford, which has embraced the palliative care patients into the hospital since May, was later ceremonially given back to the Cranford board.

According to the chief executive of DHB, Kevin Snee, Cranford has now got a new governance structure, with new management and better qualified nurses.

Big smiles could be seen around the Cranford Hospice today as the in-patient services came back home after operating from Hawke's Bay Hospital for the past half year.

The official ceremony of handing over the services started 7.30am onwards today with a blessing at the hospital chapel, and then karakia and waiata at the hospice's temporary palliative care unit Te Whare Atawhai.

The ceremony later shifted to the hospice where the angel was positioned on a specially-built shelf in reception.

Cancer can be thrown away by an aspirin

There is a counting of millions across India to reduce them of pain. They must be guarded against heart disease and cardiac arrest.

Moreover it is that cancer can be avoided by having a single pill low dose aspirin daily. This is found by a new research.

On Tuesday, scientists have discovered there may be 20% lower chance of being diagnosed and dying of various types of cancer by having low-dose Aspirin - just 75 mg daily to those who take it, it was found while researching in the Lancet. But they may have cancers who don't take it.

Dr Peter Rothwell from the Oxford University who has made a team has researched over 25,000 patients in eight studies and found that aspirin decreased cancer death by 21%.

Also there was decrease in death rates by 34% for all types of cancers and 54% for gastrointestinal cancers which took five years to discover.

There was 20% of fall for all cancers and 35% lower for gastrointestinal cancers in the death rates after 20 years.

No details from Apple as Steve Jobs, goes on medical leave

Steve Jobs, who has been suffering from pancreatic cancer for quite sometime now, went out on a medical leave. But no details were given by Apple as to what the real situation is. And when there is no declared successor to Steve, the situation becomes even more critical.

Steve is 55 years old and has been waiting for a treatment. He has already gone through a liver transplant in 2009 and does not seem to have clearly come out of it. And experts have finally given their opinion saying that he is in dire need of personalized medical treatment.

Way back in 2004, the doctors had removed islet cell neuroendocrine tumor from his pancreas. The tumor is rare but if caught early it does not lead to cancer. Some have even recommended that he needs to be given Whipple surgical procedure.

It requires for parts of pancreas, stomach, bile duct and small intestine to be removed. But since he has been in the same condition for last 2-3 years, the reasons for his illness could be many others.

His gaunt physique can also be a sign of his undergoing this procedure. Post the surgery many patients lose weight for a few weeks and then come back to normal state. But no confirmations on either of these have come up.

Venghai team goes to Malaysia!

Director Hari has finished canning several scenes and songs in Karaikudi, Munnar for Venghai and the latest is that he will move to Malaysia for the final schedule. Some very important scenes will be canned in Malaysia with the leads. After this, the shooting of the film will be over as both songs and talkie portion will be done with.

Venghai (meaning Leopard) has Dhanush and Tamannah in the lead. It has some foot tapping numbers from Devi Sri Prasad and is being eagerly awaited. Will Venghai beat Singam, Siruthai and Singam Puli? Let us wait and watch !

Suriya and Shruthi shoot in Chennai

Shooting for AR Murugadoss's 7am Arivu is happening in Chennai for some days now. The scenes are being canned on the streets of Chennai at night time. Recently a few scenes were shot inside the IIT Complex on Sardar Patel Road at night and Suriya and Shruthi Hassan were a part of the scenes that were being shot. The film is said to have a crucial flashback sequence and this will involve a Chinese song to be sung by a famous Chinese singer in Harris Jayaraj's tune.

The movie was shot in Thailand and Chennai is the previous schedules and it is said to have come out very well. We hope the shooting is wrapped up soon and the film releases by June!

Erandaam Ulagam going in fast pace

The shooting of Selvaraghavan's next film Erandaam Ulagam starring Dhanush and Andrea is going on in a fast pace. Selvaraghavan wants to finish Erandaam Ulagam soon so that he can move on to his venture with Kamal Hassan. The final schedule of EU will start on the 11th of April where 4 songs and some of the talkie portion is to be canned.

The film is said to be about married couple and how their lives were before marriage. Music is being scored by Yuvan Shankar Raja and expectations are very high. U TV which is producing and distributing the film will start promotions after the shoot and the movie should hopefully release in June like planned.

Rana shooting begins today!

Shooting for Superstar Rajinikanth’s Rana with KS Ravikumar began today at AVM studios. It was a simple affair without much fanfare considering that it is a Rajinikanth film. The leading lady Deepika Padukone is very happy to be a part of the Superstar's movie. She will be providing the glam quotient in Rana. This movie will be a joint venture between Eros International and Ocher Studios.

KS Ravikumar has collaborated successfully with Rajini previously with Muthu and Padayappa both going on to become super duper hits. The expectations are soaring as the director is considered by many to be the King of commercial cinema while Rajini is the Superstar.

Floods strand tourists

More than 200 Australian travellers have been stranded in southern Thailand as mudslides and floodwaters claimed more than a dozen lives in eight provinces.

Australians were among tourists isolated on the resort island of Koh Samui, where flooding closed the airport and heavy seas halted ferries.

Thai media reported that a massive mudslide on Wednesday in the mainland province of Krabi left up to 15 people dead, while the Royal Thai Navy led the rescue of tourists (left) from the flood-ravaged island of Koh Tao in nearby Surat Thani province.
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Further landslides and possible flooding are expected in the tourist destinations of Phuket, Krabi, Phang-nga and Nakhon Si Thammarat.

Libya foreign minister Moussa Koussa must face atrocities trial, rebels declare

Libya's rebel leadership has called for Moussa Koussa, the former Libyan foreign minister who has defected to the UK, to be returned for trial for murder and crimes against humanity after Muammar Gaddafi is toppled.

Mustafa Gheriani, a spokesman for the revolutionary council in its de facto capital, Benghazi, said that the rebels were not bent on revenge against the regime's officials but that some of Gaddafi's closest associates "have a lot of blood on their hands" and must stand trial.

The British foreign secretary, William Hague, has said that Britain is not offering Koussa immunity from prosecution. Hague called for other regime figures to abandon Gaddafi.

Gheriani alleged that Koussa had been partly responsible for assassinating opposition figures in exile, murderous internal repression and the Lockerbie plane bombing.

"We want to bring him to court," Gheriani said. "This guy has so much blood on his hands. There are documented killings, torturing. There's documentation of what Moussa Koussa has done. We want him tried by Libyan people. I believe once we have our government 100% in control in Libya, things are normalised, we want him tried here. I think international law gives us that right."

Gheriani said it was up to Britain to decide whether to arrest Koussa in the meantime. Koussa's arrival in London was evidence that Gaddafi's regime was "starting to crumble". He expected other senior officials to follow.

"He is a very, very major person to defect. Gaddafi trusted him more than some of his sons. Now Gaddafi doesn't even trust his own people any more," Gheriani said.

Gheriani said a senior military official in Kufra, Colonel Saleh al-Zaroug, had defected to the rebels. He had served in an army division commanded by one of Gaddafi's sons. The defection was impossible to confirm.

Hague said Koussa was not being offered any immunity from British or international justice. He had come to the UK on a private plane from Tunisia having left Libya of his own free will. "Gaddafi must be thinking to himself: 'Who will be the next to walk away?'" Hague said.

It would not be "helpful to advertise" whether other senior members of the regime planned to quit, Hague said, but he believed it was likely that many opposed Gaddafi's actions. He added that Koussa was in a secure place in the UK and talking voluntarily to British officials, including staff at Britain's Tripoli embassy now based in London.

Koussa's defection provides Britain with an unparalleled source of intelligence on the state of the Libyan ruler's inner circle. But his arrival in the UK has also led to expectations that he will be questioned about his possible involvement in or knowledge of atrocities including the Lockerbie bombing and the murder of PC Yvonne Fletcher.

Koussa was expelled from the UK in 1980 and became the head of Libyan foreign intelligence for 15 years, including the period of the Lockerbie bombing, which happened in 1988. He has always denied Libya was involved.

Jack Straw, a former foreign secretary, has described Koussa as a key player with a "fundamentally important" role in negotiations to bring Libya back into the international fold. "Moussa Koussa's apparent defection, certainly his unscheduled visit here, will be a very important factor in just adding to the weight against the Gaddafi regime and tipping the balance against him," Straw told the BBC. "From a distance, what's clear is that there is unlikely to be any military victory for either side. So it does depend on which side psychologically collapses."

Alongside Koussa's defection, it has emerged that Barack Obama signed a secret government order authorising covert US help to the Libyan rebels.

Opposition fighters are trying to recover some of the territory retaken by a government counterattack that has again brought Gaddafi's forces within striking distance of Benghazi.

The revolutionary leadership has called for more of the air strikes that allowed it to surge towards Gaddafi's home town of Sirte. But after their tanks and artillery were destroyed by the coalition, government troops switched tactics, using armoured pickup trucks to outflank and ambush the ragtag opposition forces.

Rebels trying to recapture the town of Brega came under rocket and mortar fire early on Thursday.

Libyan rebels 'too weak' to defeat Gaddafi

THE Libyan rebels are so poorly organised that they cannot defeat Muammar Gaddafi without arms or training, British official sources say.

British Prime Minister David Cameron admitted his government was considering arming them following talks in London with Libyan opposition leaders, despite having previously indicated this might not be possible under the terms of arms sanctions imposed on Libya.

Concern is growing after rebel forces were forced to retreat again and surrendered several towns in the face of heavy resistance from troops loyal to the regime.
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However, there are fears that any move to arm the rebels could lead to ''mission creep'', dragging Western ground forces into the civil war.

A military stalemate is now a real possibility, partly as both sides are struggling to re-equip their forces.

While the regime is thought to be ''hurting more and missing more'' because many of its heavy weapons have been destroyed, the rebels could struggle to take advantage because of their own problems. They do not have a supply chain or logistical mechanisms.

It is understood that Libyan opposition leaders have requested anti-tank weapons and other equipment, which could be provided by a Middle Eastern country, such as Qatar, in return for oil.

Mr Cameron told the House of Commons: ''It is an extremely fluid situation, but there is no doubt in anyone's mind the ceasefire is still being breached and it is absolutely right for us to keep up our pressure under UN Security Council [resolution] 1973.''

A British defence source insisted there had been ''no request for ground forces'' and the government had ''no intention'' of providing ground forces.

On Wednesday the influential chairman of the US House of Representatives' intelligence committee said he opposed supplying arms to rebels.

Republican Mike Rogers said: ''We need to understand more about the opposition before I would support passing out guns and advanced weapons to them.''

His remarks came after US admiral James Stavridis, supreme allied commander-Europe for NATO, told Congress that while opposition leaders appeared to be ''responsible men and women'', there were ''flickers in the intelligence'' of potential ties to al-Qaeda.

British military sources said air strikes on arms dumps had left the regime ''incredibly stretched'', but Colonel Gaddafi's forces were still able to ambush rebels outside the leader's home town of Sirt. The rebels quickly retreated but were outflanked in the desert.

The towns of Nawfaliya, Bin Jawad and Ras Lanuf fell in quick succession. The rebels showed no sign of trying to hold the next town, Brega, but carried on towards Ajdabiya, where some regrouped. TELEGRAPH, AGENCIES

Indian census results: 1.21 billion people or or 17 percent of world population

NEW DELHI — India is now home to 17 percent of the world’s people as its population climbed to 1.21 billion this year, though growth actually slowed for the first time in 90 years, census officials said Thursday.

The South Asian nation — second only to China in number of people — added 181 million in the past decade, said C. Chandramouli, the census commissioner. That increase alone is nearly the entire population of Brazil

United Nations projections show that India could overtake China and its 1.34 billion people as the world’s most populous nation by 2030, though Chandramouli said a more rigorous analysis of data would be needed before India made its own projections.

India’s population is now nearly equal to the combined populations of the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Japan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, he said.

Yet, the 17.6 percent increase was down from 21.5 in the last count a decade ago. The last time India showed slowing in population growth was in the 1921 census.

The numbers released Thursday were preliminary and official figures and analysis weren’t expected to be released until next year.

The census, India’s 15th since 1872, was a mammoth effort spread out over a year. It involved 2.7 million census-takers who surveyed some 300 million households, noting for the first time whether people live in basic huts or concrete structures, have electricity and access to toilets and if they have spent any time in schools.

The questions will help administrators develop policies and set budgets for a nation where 800 million people live in poverty.

Almost all residents, regardless of nationality, are included in the count, even those imprisoned like Pakistani Ajmal Kasab, who is on death row for his role in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. Millions of homeless were also counted.

The initial numbers show a decline in the number of children under the age of 6, down 5 million since 2001 to 158.8 million. They also indicate a continuing preference for male children over females in a country where female infanticide is still common and the government has banned doctors from revealing the sex of unborn children.

A gender breakdown among children showed fewer girls than boys are being born or surviving, with 914 girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of 6, compared to 927 for every 1,000 in the last census.

“This is a matter of grave concern,” Chandramouli said.

Indians continue to favor sons over daughters mostly because of the enormous expenses involved in marrying off girls. Even the poorest families are often likely to go into debt arranging marriages and paying elaborate dowries to their daughter’s new family. Hindu custom also dictates that only sons can light funeral pyres.

“Whatever measures that have been put in over the last 40 years has not had any impact on child sex ratio and therefore that requires a complete review,” India’s Home Secretary G.K. Pillai said.

The overall sex-ratio showed a marginal improvement, with 940 women counted for every 1,000 men compared to 933 in the last census.

The census also showed that the literacy rate went up to 74 percent nationwide for people aged 7 and older, from about 65 percent in the last count.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

DMDK chief Vijayakanth assaults party worker

Chennai:  Actor-turned-politician Vijayakanth, who is also the chief of DMDK, has stirred up a controversy after he was seen allegedly assaulting his party candidate at an election rally in Tamil Nadu.

Vijayakanth, whose DMDK is a constituent of the Jayalalithaa's AIADMK-led alliance, allegedly beat up his Dharmapuri candidate in full public glare while canvassing votes from an open vehicle.

The victim was in charge of the public address system at the poll rally. Vijayakanth allegedly hit him when the microphone failed.

The entire episode was captured in a video that was later aired on his Captain TV channel.

A defiant Vijayakanth later said at an election rally that there was nothing wrong in what he did and that whoever he beat up would become a Maharaja later.

The ruling DMK, meanwhile, slammed the actor for the incident and said, "The incident reflects the poor leadership of the party".

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