Friday, April 1, 2011

Sanjay, Maanyata Miffed With Kangana

Kangana Ranaut and the Dutts have drifted apart. The actress has been telling her friends that she doesn't consider Sanjay and Maanyata family.

A source confirmed, "Reports of her distancing herself from the couple have disturbed them. And whatever she is saying about them has come as a rude shock to them. They won't be inviting her to their home anymore. In any case, she had never been as close to them as she claimed. It was always Ameesha Patel who was Maanyata's close friend."

The fact that the Dutts did not attend Kangana's birthday bash recently was a clear-cut message. The source revealed, "An extremely upset Kangana kept calling Mana till midnight."

The source also added, "Mana helped the actress with everything from paying less for a flat in Bandra to arranging a trip for her. Yet, Kangna hasn't even gone to meet Maanyata or her babies even once. She attended the public functions organised by them as it suits her to be seen with them when the media is around. Maanyata wasn't even invited to her Tanu Weds Manu trial. The first time they met in months was on the sets of Rascals recently."

The source further said that the actress grew close to them as she knew the actor was launching Sanjay Dutt Productions and wanted to star in his projects.

"She signed Rascals opposite Sanju and Ajay Devgn which led to more A-grade films in her kitty. She considers Rascals as her big ticket," the source said.

The Dutts and Kangana remained unavailable for comment.

Sanjay Dutt and Kangna Ranaut share the same business manager Dharam Oberoi, who's also CEO of Sanjay Dutt Production.

"Dharam is upset by Kangna's statements. He's in Hong Kong with Sanjay Dutt, who's shooting for Dhamaal 2. He feels miserable and tells people it was a mistake taking on Kangana's work. He has told people that his allegiance is to Sanju."

Big movies hit the screens

The movie's story is interesting too. Anupam Kher playing Kabir Malhotra invites four strangers - Neil Menon played by Abhishek Bachchan, O.P. Ramsay by Boman Irani, Tisha Khanna by Shahana Goswami and Vikram Kapoor by Jimmy Shergill, to his private island in Samos, Greece. Then, they leave for a thrilling journey of love, revenge, retribution and a murder, where everyone is a suspect and every suspect has a motive behind whatever he or she does!

Incidentally, Abhishek is a casino owner from Turkey, who has invested in various businesses, some legal, some not. His involvement in crime is likely to threaten his existence. Shahana is a crime journalist from London, with a career that is going nowhere. But her life turns around when she is offered a scoop. Boman is a politician from Thailand and Jimmy has been cast as a superstar from Bollywood. Among female actors, Kangana Ranaut plays as detective Sia Agnihotri from London who stumbles upon the case of her lifetime.

Researchers discover unlikely bedbug repellent

Swedish researchers are hoping they have found a smell so disgusting that even bedbugs are repelled.

It’s the smell of an alarmed adolescent bedbug.

And if their study bears out, and if they can synthesize, bottle and deploy the smell sufficiently, they may have found a useful weapon to add to the growing artillery against these blood-sucking pests.

The researchers, from Lund University in Sweden, were trying to determine the similarities between the common bed bug and the tropical bed bug.

The study appears in this week's issue of the Public Library of Science One, or PLoS One.

The tropical bedbug, once confined to warmer, humid climates, has been branching into more extreme latitudes, such as Florida, the United Kingdom and Australia. Researchers are only just beginning to study them.

The Swedish scientists wanted to see how similar the two species’ pheromone, or smell, repertoires were.

And while they were doing this, they discovered not only do adult bedbugs hate the smell of adolescents, adolescents hate the smells of each other, too.

The researchers surmised that if you could bottle the nymph – or adolescent – essence, exterminators could use it to flush bugs out of their hiding places, and then kill them with other means, such as heat.

“(We) showed that the nymph blend elicited a stronger reaction in adults than the adult blend did,” wrote the authors in their study. “With increased infestation rates in mind, our findings have important implications for the development of an alarm pheromone-based pest control method that could target both species of bedbug.”

Gail Getty, a UC Berkeley entomologist who was not involved in the research, agreed.

"The research posed here provides valuable clues into the complexity of bedbug biology and hopefully provides a piece of information that will aid us in our bedbug battles," she said.

How to save the last tigers on Earth

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.]

IN PICTURES: Siberian Tigers

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.

A female Bengal tiger on the move, Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan, India. Credit: © Rouse / WWF.

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."

Could this 'laptop killer' be the gadget that finally proves a worthwhile rival to the iPad?

    * Attaching a screen and keyboard turns the Motorola Atrix phone into a fully-equipped laptop

A mobile phone that doubles as a laptop has been touted as the gadget that could finally threaten the iPad's dominance in the technology market.

The Motorola Atrix phone has so impressed gadget experts since it debuted at technology fairs earlier this year that it has been dubbed a 'laptop killer'.

It can be turned into a fully-equipped laptop by attaching a screen and keyboard, both of which have to be bought separately.

Technology magazine T3 has even snubbed the iPad 2 - Apple’s latest version of its tablet device - to hand the Atrix the 'hottest gadget' accolade.

T3 editor Luke Peters said: 'This wasn’t about products that have been hyped, but about products that really disrupt the market. We see the iPad 2 as more of an evolution than a revolution.

'The Atrix can really reshape how we think about mobile phones. It’s incredibly powerful and versatile, and for us it really showed that you can do something different with a mobile phone.

'The fact it can become a real laptop by plugging it into an accessory really moves on the mobile phone category. Who knows what Apple has up its sleeve, but for now the Atrix really shows something different.

'It is also a warning to Apple that mobile phones like the Atrix that run Google’s Android software are really making a big impact.'

Although the iPad came second in the poll, Apple still sold out of the £399 gadget in many stores within three days, and is warning online buyers they face a wait of three to four weeks.

'Demand for the next-generation iPad 2 has been amazing,' Apple said. 'We’re working hard to get it into customers hands.'

Samsung launches Google Nexus S with Super LCD in India, for Rs. 30,400

Samsung has launched the Google Nexus S in India, and it should be hitting shelves soon, officially priced at Rs. 30,400 (MRP). Online retailers such as Flipkart have been quoting a much lower pre-order price of Rs. 27,999 for a while now, and the price of the Galaxy S has also dropped significantly, so expect on-street prices of the Nexus S to be a fair bit lower than the official MRP.

The Google Nexus S model Samsung has brought to India is the Nexus S i9023, and not the Nexus i9020, so bears a 4-inch Super LCD screen instead of a Super AMOLED one. As you know, the Google Nexus S was the platform lead device for Gingerbread, and has a special curved ‘Contour’ design apart from several innovative features, such as a Near Field Communications chip. For other details and specifications, check out our previous coverage.

With the Gingerbread update rolled out for the Galaxy S, and the new dual-core Galaxy S II expected shortly, Samsung is muddying its waters quite a bit, but might be doing well to cover a variety of price-points in the top-end Android market. Other Gingerbread phones expected in India soon are the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play, Neo and Arc.

2011 Android App Guide launches

The 2011 Android App Guide has finally arrived, bringing a huge range of expert reviews of the latest and greatest applications for your Android handset.

With the news shelves dominated by iPhone and iPad app mags, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Android isn't the most popular mobile OS around, but the 2011 Android App Guide – from the brains behind the TechRadar Buying Guides – is hoping to right that wrong with reviews of the best apps around.

So if you're toting the new HTC Desire S, Samsung Galaxy S or any of the fantastic handsets around then you can pick up the magazine from newsstands or from the My Favourite Magazines site right now.

Massive choice

"Android's open-source nature enables anyone with the know-how to produce their own apps," explained editor Jake Day-Williams.

"Consequently, there are more than 100,000 on Android Market, with quality varying from truly stunning to a complete waste of time and space.

"This is where we come in. The 2011 Android App Guide provides in-depth reviews of the best 300 applications for turning your phone into a games console, newspaper, book, artist's palette or sketchbook and enabling you to keep on top business even when you're away from the office."

So, if you want the best App reviews around from the Android experts, then this may well be the option for you.

Maruti Suzuki India sales jump 25% in 2010-11

New Delhi : The country’s largest car manufacturer Maruti Suzuki India has reported a 28.2 per cent jump in total sales to 1,21,952 units during March this year from 95,123 units in the same month last year.

For the entire 2010-11 financial year, the company’s sales soared by 24.81 per cent to 12,71,005 units from 10,18,365 units in the previous fiscal, Maruti Suzuki India said in a statement today.

During March 2011, the company reported an increase of 38.85 per cent in domestic sales to 1,10,424 units from 79,530 units in March 2010. Exports, however, fell by 26.07 per cent to 11,528 units from 15,593 units.

Sales of the company’s once bread-and-butter model M800 rose 5.54 per cent to 2,915 units from 2,762 units, the statement said.

The A2 segment (comprising Alto, WagonR, Estilo, Swift, A-Star and Ritz) witnessed 43.27 per cent growth in sales to 78,460 units during March this year from 54,762 units in the same month a year ago. A3 segment sales (consisting of SX4 and DZiRE) increased by 33.07 per cent to 13,910 units from 10,453 units.

Last month, the company sold 103 units of its Kizashi luxury sedan, which was launched in February.

Total passenger car sales rose 40.32 per cent to 95,388 units in March 2011 from 67,978 units in the same month in 2010.

During the 2010-11 fiscal, Maruti’s domestic sales increased by 30.08 per cent to 11,32,739 from 8,70,790 units in the previous fiscal, the company said.

Exports during the fiscal, however, declined by 6.31 per cent to 1,38,266 units from 1,47,575 units in 2009-10. Total passenger car sales stood at 9,66,447 units (7,65,533 units), up 26.24 per cent.

Rabobank receives banking license in India

Rabobank today announced that it has received approval from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to establish a banking presence in India through a maiden branch to be located in Mumbai.

The license will help Rabobank to substantially expand its current range of services in the Indian market. Rabobank's application for this license is part of the Bank's international strategy to expand its activities in major growth markets with a strong food and agriculture base, the Bank said in a statement here.

With the banking license, Rabobank will broaden its product suite in India. Rabobank in India will be able to accept deposits and use its balance sheet to provide working capital financing to clients. The licence will also permit the Bank to deal in foreign exchange, domestic fixed income products and trade finance, it said.

"India is a key country for Rabobank. We are now able to offer a broader range of products and services to our Dutch, Indian and international clients," Sipko Schat, member of the Executive Board of Rabobank Group said.
Currently, Rabobank is present in India through a wholly owned subsidiary Rabo India Finance (RIF), which is registered as a Non-Banking Finance Company (NBFC).

After Apollo Global, the deluge

Private equity firm Apollo Global is set to go public this week, and if the sale goes well, a gaggle of alternative investment managers could follow.

Bankers are holding discussions with firms including Oaktree Capital Management and Carlyle Group about going public and are watching to see how Apollo does, sources familiar with the situation said.

Apollo, which hopes to raise about USD 473 million in its IPO, missed the first great wave of private equity firms going public, which started in 2007 with the Blackstone Group.

But with debt markets exuberant and the stock market open to initial offerings, the profit picture for private equity firms looks stronger than it used to. Hedge funds are benefiting, too.

"It's a pretty opportune time to come public," said Michael Kim, an analyst who covers asset managers at investment bank Sandler O'Neill & Partners LP.

"The private equity industry is cyclical and certainly what we've seen over the last six months has been a pretty nice recovery across almost any metric."

It has been a long road for Apollo, which first filed its public listing registration papers in April 2008, just before capital markets melted down.

The credit crunch trapped private equity firms without new capital. They had trouble both financing leveraged buyouts and selling companies they already owned.

But the picture for private equity firms has improved over the past year.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index has gained more than 14% over the past six months and more than 90% since troughing in early 2009, as the global economy stepped back from recession. Junk bond prices have surged more than 65% since mid-March 2009, according to Merrill Lynch indexes.

Buyout firms are taking advantage of the stock market rebound to take some of their large portfolio companies public, such as HCA Holdings Inc, Kinder Morgan Inc and BankUnited Inc, which have been some of the biggest IPOs of the year.

Pitch, wait, watch

Blackstone Group blazed the trail for private equity firms going public in 2007 with its own high profile IPO -- timed just before the market started to collapse.

Alongside it were hedge funds Och-Ziff Capital Management Group LLC and Fortress Investment Group LLC, which all made their debuts on the New York Stock Exchange in the space of a year.

Rival asset managers such as Apollo and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co, which had also been planning to list, watched in the wings as their chance evaporated.

Since the economy and market started recovering, private equity firms have returned to look at going public.

KKR, which originally filed for a US IPO in 2007, listed in Amsterdam instead. It moved its shares to the New York Stock Exchange in July.

Going public gives companies a currency to incentivize more junior employees and gives the firm, as a whole, currency for acquisitions.

Investors in the firms have had a mixed experience. With the market collapse, shares of Blackstone, Och-Ziff and Fortress have tumbled -- 40%, 49% and 70% from their IPO prices, respectively -- but KKR has done exceptionally well: its shares have climbed 70% since they started trading.

Apollo, whose expected price range puts it at a steep discount to its rivals, could be another blockbuster. If it is, it could tip the balance for those laying in wait.

"There is a material advantage to being public in terms of cost of capital and access to capital," one source said. "I think it's fair to say that beyond just Apollo and Oaktree, over the next six to 12 months, we could see more asset managers look at going public."

Carlyle in February hired NASDAQ OMX Group Inc Chief Financial Officer Adena Friedman. A source previously told Reuters that the firm could file for an IPO this year.

Stem cell advances can aid patients having back pain

Researchers have recently made a breakthrough in finding a way to re-grow a damaged spine.

The damaged discs in between vertebrae commonly cause lower back pain and earlier it was thought to be nearly impossible for the cartilage discs to heal.

But Swedish researchers believe they have succeeded in growing human stem cells that can aid damaged disc to regenerate.

Disc degeneration happens when there is an alteration in the properties of invertebrate discs that are chiefly made of cartilage which results in the risk of them becoming too thin.

Degenerative discs are considered to be responsible for pained caused to the lower back when one vertebrae rubs onto another. Back discs are commonly considered to be not able to heal themselves.

According to Helena Barreto-Henriksson, a researcher in the Gothenburg University, her team has found out regions in the discs that are similar to stem cells and might have the potential to re-grow.

She added that it is a general belief that cartilage has zero or very little capacity to heal themselves and the knowledge regarding how cell division takes place in invertebrate discs is restricted.

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.

B.C. pioneers new alcoholism strategy

British Columbia is the first province to formally recognize alcohol addiction as a chronic medical condition, a move aimed at improving treatment.

As of Friday, the new policy emphasizes preventive measures and gives family doctors more time and resources to treat patients with alcohol addiction before it becomes a bigger and more expensive problem for the health-care system and patients.

Billy Smith of Vancouver finally admitted he had a drinking problem after 30 years. Until then, Smith said his life revolved around getting money and drinking until he fell off a bar stool, figuring "I was going to die an alcoholic and I had to learn to accept that."

Smith, 47, said he tried to find a family doctor to help. Despite visits to three different physicians, they weren't willing to spend the time to really deal with the problem, he said.

"I went through a phase where I stopped searching for help because I didn't believe it was available for me," he recalled. "I couldn't afford help because I never had insurance, I never had money, I never had the good job, I never had the backing of an employer."

Smith eventually got help through a detox clinic, but only after his life had spiralled out of control.
More time with patients

It's now been five years since Smith has touched alcohol. As an addiction counsellor at the Salvation Army, he welcomes the new designation of alcoholism as a chronic medical condition.

The changes are meant to allow family physicians to spend more time with patients addicted to alcohol compared with a standard doctor's visit.

A document by the British Columbia Medical Association that recommended the policy change estimated that substance abuse cost the province over $6 billion in 2006, or $1,500 per year for every British Columbian.

The medical costs of alcoholism are huge but are not always spelled out on hospital medical charts, said Dr. Ray Baker, a physician who specializes in addictions.

"Twenty-five per cent of hospital beds are occupied by people who have addictive disorders, but we don't call it that. We call it one of the secondary disorders, like a motor vehicle accident, or attempted suicide, or depression or gastrointestinal disease."

The province's new system encourages physicians to diagnose and treat alcoholism differently starting April 1. Doctors are now allowed to bill for the extra time it takes to unravel the problem and gives tools to help intercept problem drinkers.

Some may scoff at treating alcoholism as a disease, but Baker said it helps destigmatize the problem and will allow people to see it as a medical condition that can be treated.

Fukushima Situation 'Remains Very Serious': IAEA Chief

Nairobi : The situation at Japan's stricken Fukushima nuclear plant remains very serious, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano,said here today.

"The situation in Fukushima remains very serious",Amano told a press briefing at UN headquarters here, where he is attending the Chief Executives Board meeting, which brings together heads of the world body's agencies.

"But Japan is not alone. The UN Secretary General promised me to give all the support necessary to Japan. The most important thing for now is to put an end to this crisis situation," he said.

Japan has struggled to contain its nuclear emergency since a 14-metre tsunami hit the Fukushima plant after a huge quake on March 11, with radioactive substances entering the air, sea and soil, plus foodstuffs from the region.The disaster has left over 11,000 confirmed dead and more than 16,000 listed as missing.

Amano warned that ending the current crisis "will take some time" and that stabilising the stricken reactors "will take more time.""And in order to say everything is normal, it will take further time .... I would say it would take more time than people think", he added.Officials in Japan said Friday that the Fukushima Daiichi plant will use a huge steel floating structure to contain radioactive water it releases.

The pontoon-type structure, called a "Mega-Float,"will be handed over to Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) by its owner which has been using it as a floating park for anglers.

High levels of radioactive iodine-131 that are 10,000 times the government safety standard have been found in groundwater below the plant, located on the Pacific coast some 250 kilometres northeast of Tokyo.

In a stop-gap measure to contain the crisis at the  plant, crews have poured thousands of tonnes of water onto reactors where fuel rods are thought to have partially melted,and topped up pools for spent fuel rods.UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is also in Nairobi attending the board meeting. (AFP)

Mob Kills 8 Foreigners During Quran Burning Protest In Afghanistan

Kabul : Eight foreigners were killed Friday after demonstrators protesting a reported burning of the Muslim holy book stormed a U.N. office in northern Afghanistan, opening fire on guards and setting fires inside the compound, a top Afghan police official said.

The topic of Quran burning stirred outrage among millions of Muslims and others worldwide after a small American church in Florida threatened to destroy the holy book last year. The Florida pastor had backed down but purportedly went through with the burning last month, prompting protests in three Afghan cities.

Munir Ahmad Farhad, a spokesman in Balkh province, said the protest in Mazar-i-Sharif began peacefully when several hundred demonstrators gathered outside the U.N. mission's compound to denounce the Quran's destruction.

It turned violent when some protesters grabbed weapons from the U.N. guards and opened fire on the police, then stormed the building, he said. "I can see the smoke over the compound," he said.

Gen. Daud Daud, commander of Afghan National Police in several northern provinces, said those killed included five Nepalese guards who were working for the U.N. and two other foreigners employed at the complex. He said one other foreigner was wounded. Later, Rawof Taj, deputy police chief in Balkh province, said the injured individual had died.

Dan McNorton, a spokesman for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, confirmed that people working for the U.N. had died in an attack on the operation center, but he could not provide details.

"The situation is still confusing and we are currently working to ascertain all the facts and take care of all our staff," he said from his office in Kabul.

Staffan de Mistura, the top U.N. official in Afghanistan, had left Kabul for Mazar-i-Sharif to personally handle the situation, he said.

Mohammad Azim, a businessman in Mazer-i-Sharif, said that clerics with loudspeakers drove around the city in two cars on Thursday to invite residents to the protest. After Friday prayers at a large blue mosque in the city center, clerics again called on worshippers to attend a peaceful protest.

Several hundred people also protested the reported Quran burning at several sites in Herat, a city in western Afghanistan. Protesters burned a U.S. flag at a sports stadium in Herat and chanted "Death to the U.S." and "They broke the heart of Islam."

About 100 people also gathered at a traffic circle near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. Police directed traffic around the demonstration in the capital. One protester carried a sign that said: "We want these bloody bastard Americans with all their forces to leave Afghanistan."

The protesters were condemning a reported burning of the Quran at the Rev. Terry Jones' small church, Dove Outreach Center, in Gainesville, Florida.

Last week, Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued a statement calling the burning a "crime against a religion." He denounced it as a "disrespectful and abhorrent act" and called on the U.S. and the United Nations to bring to justice those who burned the holy book and issue a response to Muslims around the world. AP

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari today gave his assent to a proposal

Islamabad : Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari today gave his assent to a proposal to ask the Supreme Court to review the death sentence awarded to ex-premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1979, which the ruling PPP contends led to the "judicial murder" of the leader.

Zardari signed the proposal in the presence of Law Minister Babar Awan and Sindh Home Minister Zulfikar Mirza, under Article 186 of the Constitution.

Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said the proposal will now be sent to the Supreme Court by the Law Ministry.

Earlier this week, the federal Cabinet authorised the President to send a proposal on this subject to the Supreme Court.

Article 186 of Pakistan's Constitution states that the President can obtain the opinion of the apex court on any question of law he considers of public importance.

The Supreme Court will consider the matter and report its opinion to the President.

The move by Zardari -- who took over as PPP chief after his wife, former premier Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated in 2007 -- came three days ahead of the death anniversary of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

The PPP had "never intended to seek revenge but it wanted to put right a historic wrong and thereby vindicate the position" of Bhutto, the founding Chairman of the party, Babar said.

He recalled that a former judge who was part of the bench of the Supreme Court which upheld Bhutto's death sentence had publicly acknowledged that the split verdict was given under pressure from the dictatorship of the time.

The death sentence was awarded to Bhutto, Pakistan's first directly elected Prime Minister, by the Lahore High Court and subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court in March 1979 through a split verdict.

Bhutto was executed on April 4, 1979 by the then military dictatorship, which disregarded appeals by world leaders and serious reservations expressed by international jurists about the legal propriety of the death sentence.

The body of the Premier was secretly flown in the dead of the night to Larkana in southern Sindh and buried without permitting his family to attend the funeral and last rites.

The then military regime led by Zia-ul-Haq published pictures in newspapers of the funeral prayer to show that local residents had attended the burial.

On investigation, however, it was found that the few people shown in the picture were not local residents and had apparently been brought from outside, Babar said. PTI

Pawar Describes World Cup A Huge Success

Mumbai : A day before the summit clash of the World Cup, International Cricket Council president Sharad Pawar today termed the tournament as a "huge success" and "incident free".

"In all respects the ICC World Cup is a huge success; in terms of spectators, TV viewership, the quality of cricket played so far," said Pawar, who is also the president of the Mumbai Cricket Association which is hosting the final of the mega-event at the Wankhede Stadium here tomorrow.

Pawar said but for the support of all the authorities of the three host countries -- India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh -- including their cricket boards, the tournament could not have been such a success.

He also pointed out the importance accorded to the tournament by the three nations' political leaderships.

"Thanks to the World Cup hosts' excellent organisation, the tournament has gone off well and has been incident free. All three host nations' Prime Ministers have attended one or two matches. Their support and the administration's support has been exceptional," he said.

Pawar said because of the need for tight security blanket around the stadia and the presence of VIP's for the matches, spectators had to undergo some difficulties.

"The security has been excellent. With the VIPs and VVIPs coming the spectators had to face some difficulties," he said.

He also pointed out that because of the mega-event, cricket infrastructure had improved in all the three co-hosting nations -- India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

"In all three nations the World Cup has helped to improve infrastructure for the convenience of the spectators," the ICC chief said.

Pawar brushed aside criticism that Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium, with a capacity of 33,00, was not the right place to conduct the final, saying the Lord's in England had even less capacity.

He also said that the Mumbai police has got no information about alleged black marketing of match tickets for the final which, according to reports, are hovering between Rs 50,000 and Rs one lakh.

"The police have no information on this," he said.

Pawar also dismissed talks of alleged fixing of matches during the tournament.

"It's all humbug. We don't believe them. All the games have been clean," he insisted. PTI

Kalmadi Set Up Sham OC For His Benefit: Shunglu Report

New Delhi : In further embarrassment to Suresh Kalmadi, the Shunglu panel has slammed him for setting up a "sham" Commonwealth Games Organising Committee with much lesser accountability and transparency.

The Committee in its 103-page sixth and last report made public today on "Conduct of Commonwealth Games 2010" said it has found "material changes" in official documents by Kalmadi to get the post of OC chief and also to have sweeping administrative control over it.

The OC was constituted "to retain absolute and unhindered control on the Commonwealth Games, 2010 through a sham society with much lesser accountability and transparency even in comparison to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA)," the report said.

"We have therefore no hesitation in coming to the conclusion that a document (relating to appointment for CWG OC chairman) was created by Kalmadi or at his behest in IOA for being specifically used to secure his ends, i.e. Chairmanship of OC and justification for the commitments made by him at Montego Bay without any authority," the Committee said.

The Committee gave several instances of Kalmadi's approach to get the key post.

"It would be also pertinent to mention that all attempts made by Ministry of Sports to open a dialogue with Kalmadi between November, 2003 and September, 2004 on the action to be taken for CWG 2010 were unsuccessful because Kalmadi was unwilling to open negotiation till he was assured of the Chairmanship of the Organising Committee," it said.

Questioning the constitution of OC, the report said, "On February 10, 2005 Kalmadi got a Society named Organising Committee registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860. This Society, its Memorandum, its Rules, its Executive Board, its membership etc. ought to have been approved by the Group of Ministers (GOM). However, no such approval was taken."

In one of the meetings of GOM on March 17, 2005, the Memorandum of the OC was circulated by Kalmadi which the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports had framed a few months back.

"A comparison of the document available on the file of the Ministry with the one Registered by Kalmadi on February 10, 2005 shows a number of material changes made by him with the object of concentrating all powers in his hands," the Committee said adding that Kalmadi appointed himself as chairman of OC in perpetuity and without any consultation with the government.

The Committee questioned the manner in which the government accepted "without due consideration" the Host City Contract to organise the sporting extravaganza in the national capital.

"The implicit decision to conduct the Games through a private non-profit society was an 'error of judgement' compounded by the personality of its chairman (Kalmadi) for whom the difference between fact and fiction was academic.

"His style and interests compromised proper preparation and efficient conduct of Games. Emergency measures ameliorated the situation but at a very high cost," the report said.

The report also questioned the decisions of the President of Commonwealth Games Federation Mike Fennel and its Chief Executive Officer Michael Hooper.

The High level Committee held Kalmadi responsible for appointing his close associates and inexperienced staff in the OC for individual gains.

The HLC in its fifth report on Organising Committee has faulted Kalmadi and OC Secretary General Lalit Bhanot for their various decisions in awarding contracts that led to cost escalations.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had on October 25 announced terms of references for two-member Committee under the chairmanship of former Comptroller and Auditor General V K Shunglu to probe allegations of corruption and managerial lapses in the conduct of the sporting extravaganza held here between October 3-14 last year.

Former Secretary of Department of Personnel and Training Shantanu Consul was another member. Before expiry of its tenure yesterday, the HLC submitted a total of six reports on -- Host Broadcasting, Games Village, City Infrastructure, Games Venues Organising Committee and Main Report - Organisation and Conduct of CWG, 2010 -- pointing out several anomalies on part of Delhi Lt Governor Tejinder Khanna, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and senior government officials. PTI

CBI To Probe Sadiq Batcha's Death

New Delhi : The CBI today informed the Supreme Court that it is willing to take over the probe into the mysterious death of Sadiq Batcha, a close aide of 2G spectrum case accused and former telecom minister A Raja.

"The CBI has expressed its willingness to take over the investigation into Batcha's death," senior advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for the agency, told a bench of justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly. Earlier the Tamil Nadu Government had favoured a CBI probe into Batcha's death.

The bench asked Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising to take instructions from the Centre and inform it about the issuance of a notification for transferring the case to the CBI by April 4.

The CBI also informed the court that senior advocate U U Lalit will be appointed as special public prosecutor for the trial in the 2G spectrum allocation case before a special court exclusively set up for the purpose.

The court asked the law officer to take instructions and inform it by Tuesday on notification on appointment of the special public prosecutor.

The apex court had earlier sought CBI's response to a plea for transferring to it the probe into Batcha's death in Chennai early last month.

The court had sought the agency's reply on the plea by NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) on whose petition the court had ordered CBI to probe the 2G spectrum allocation scam.

Batcha too had faced CBI interrogation four times since December last year when the agency had conducted searches at his official and residential premises.

38-year-old Batcha was found dead in mysterious circumstances at his home in South Chennai on March 16 and his wife had claimed that he committed suicide as he was "unable to cope with the pressure" of the probe.

Batcha was the managing director of Greenhouse Promoters, which the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate suspected to be a front for Raja.

On the issue of appointment of Special Public Prosecutor, the CBI on Tuesday had said it was facing difficulty in finding a capable lawyer for the case as corporates and their officers likely to be named in the case have already hired the top lawyers to defend them.

However, Veugopal today told the bench that senior advocate U U Lalit, who had earlier expressed his reluctance to being appointed as Special Public Prosecutor, has agreed to take up the job in "public interest".

Venugopal said CBI preferred Lalit for the job as he has tremendous experience in the criminal law and is the most appropriate person at the moment to head the team of prosecutors in the case. PTI

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