Tuesday, April 5, 2011

LG Optimus 2x officially launches in India for Rs. 30,000

LG Optimus 2x

The LG Optimus 2x which was first showcased in CES 2011 has been officially launched in India. LG Optimus 2x is the first smartphone with dual core Tegra 2 Processor.

LG Optimus 2x features a Android 2.2 OS (upgradeable to 2.3 soon), 4 inch capacitive touchscreen display, 8 MP autofocus camera with LED Flash, 1.3 MP front camera for video calls, full HD video recording 1080p at 24 fps and 720p at 30 fps, 8 GB internal memory and up to 32GB of external memory.

LG Optimus 2x supports high speed 3G network, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB connectivity, DLNA, HDMI port, GPS with A-GPS support and so on.


This is the first time Motorola has officially spoken about the new MOTOZINE series of handsets. Till now we have been used to getting the word from spies in the company and all types of leaks from here and there.

The word is out now from the company and the MOTOZINE will make its debut in China and then move to other parts of Asia and then finally Europe. The phone comes with a 5-megapixel camera in association with Kodak. The camera has features like autofocus, a xenon flash, and an on the fly integration with Kodak Gallery.

The phone works with Quad-band GSM and has EDGE connectivity. The price of the handset has not be revealed yet, we shall be on the task to find that out for you guys soon

Nokia 6600i unleashed in India

The Nokia 6600i has just been launched in India and it establishes itself as the smallest 5-megapixel phone in the market. The 6600i has a slider form factor with an extremely impressive design and style.

The camera being the phones USP promises to deliver crystal clear imaging with its 8x zoom and auto focus functionality. It also comes with a dual LED flash for enhancing image quality.

Other features include FM radio, playback for all kinds of media files/formats, stereo headsets and bluetooth v2.0. A microSD card slot capable of holding a 16GB card fits perfect for this phone.

Starting periods before the age of 10 increases risk of lung complaints in future

Women who suffer from asthma or poor lung function as adults generally started their periods at the age of 10 or before. This is the conclusion of a European research study with Spanish participation, which shows that this trend is more common in southern Europe, and particularly affects women from large families. "Adult women who had their first menstruation at the age of 10 or earlier have significantly lower lung capacity than women who had their first period at 13", Ferenc Macsali, lead author of the study and a researcher at the Haukeland Hospital in Bergen (Norway), tells SINC.

The experts discovered that women who underwent early menarche (first menstruation) suffer more frequently from asthma, suggesting that metabolic and hormonal factors have an impact on the respiratory system. In addition, these girls tend to be smaller in stature and have higher levels of body fat than other girls their age.

The study, carried out on 3,354 women aged between 27 and 55, is part of a multi-centre study called the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS). The countries that took part were Spain, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States, Belgium, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Estonia.

According to the study, published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, early menstruation is more common in southern Europe and primarily affects women from large families. Smoking is also related to the onset of menstruation, since women who smoke tended to have their first period at the age of 10 or before.

As a preventive measure, the researchers recommend monitoring the symptoms of asthma in these girls more carefully and setting up a smoking-prevention programme that would also include early menstruation as a risk indicator.

Low birth weight

"The link between lower lung function, asthma and early menarche goes back to birth", the expert explains. Other studies have shown that many women who experienced early menstruation had a low birth weight. "This unfavourable intrauterine environment is possibly related to poor foetal lung development, which will affect this person over their whole life", he adds.

Despite their low initial weight, many women become overweight as adults due to a faster increase in body mass during early adolescence.

Various studies over recent years have also shown that improved living conditions in western countries have led to children weighing more and maturing earlier. This trend also has an impact on girls having their first period at ever earlier ages.

The heartfelt truth about sudden death in young athletes

The sudden death of a young athlete always prompts full media attention, most recently spurring a call for preventative screening methods, including costly electrocardiogram (EKG) tests for all school-age athletes. But a new study by Dr. Sami Viskin of Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine found that these screening measures, which are now mandatory in Israel and other countries, does not reduce the incidence of sudden death syndrome. "There's a lot of debate about this in the U.S. right now," says Dr. Viskin, even though cardiac arrest in athletes remains very rare. The evidence that EKG screenings can reduce the incidence of sudden death is limited and questionable, his research confirms.

The new study appears in the March 15, 2011, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Numbers don't lie

Although always shocking, sudden death syndrome occurs in fewer than three athletes out of 100,000. Because he is a specialist in cardiac arrhythmia, the main underlying factor in sudden death syndrome, Dr. Viskin had a hunch that screening athletes served no purpose in preventing the syndrome.

Examining retrospective data from 1985 to 2009, he reported that there were 24 documented cases of sudden death or cardiac arrest among competitive athletes in Israel. Eleven of these cases occurred prior to 1997, when a mandatory screening law was passed, and 13 occurred after the legislation had been enacted. The rate of sudden death in athletes was nearly identical in the decade before and the decade after the mandatory medical screening was put in place, he says.

A warning for American legislators

American legislators who are considering laws to mandate screening for young athletes should think twice before enacting the legislation, Dr. Viskin says. The tests demonstrate no ability to reduce the incidence of sudden death — and "false positives" could be harmful to a young person's morale and future as an athlete.

"An abnormal EKG might come up in 10 percent of all the athletes being screened. A huge number would then have to undergo extensive and expensive additional testing. Because of the rarity of the phenomenon these tests are meant to prevent, over 30,000 athletes would have to be screened to save one life," Dr. Viskin says.

The U.S. Olympics Team is already conducting these screenings in the U.S., and if a more comprehensive law was passed, that would mean $2 billion in tests for millions of American athletes, according to the American Heart Association. Dr. Viskin argues that the cost does not justify the risk, and that public money is better spent on more effective testing for other diseases, like high blood pressure and colon cancer.

He also cautions that the screening test can negatively affect people's lives. "We'd be forcing these unnecessary tests on both amateur and professional athletes. There's little justification for mandatory screening when there's limited proof that such a preventative strategy actually works," he says.

Athletes who do screen as being at risk for sudden death, he notes, usually manage to play sports anyway, seeking out — and finding — second, third and fourth opinions that contradict the first. Other athletes will find arenas where they won't be monitored. "The chances of really making a big difference with screening are minute," Dr. Viskin concludes.

Study shows that modern surgery for scoliosis has good long-term outcomes

Teenagers who undergo spine fusion for scoliosis using the newest surgical techniques can expect to be doing well 10 years after surgery, according to a Hospital for Special Surgery study published online ahead of print in the [TK issue] of the journal Spine. Researchers had thought that the surgery would cause damage to the spine just below the fused discs, but the study showed that this was not the case. "Fusion for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis using the newer generation spine implants appears to spare junctional disc degeneration and allows patients ten years out to have a relatively normal pain free lifestyle," said Daniel Green, M.D., a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York who led the study.

Scoliosis is a condition in which a person's spine is curved. The condition can be classified as congenital (caused by vertebral anomalies present at birth), idiopathic (arising after birth and caused by unknown factors) or neuromuscular, where it is a secondary symptom of another condition such as spina bifida. Starting in the early 1960s and up until the late 1990s, scoliosis was treated with surgery with so-called Harrington rods that were implanted along the spinal column. Starting in the late 1990s, surgeons started using newer techniques to fuse the spinal column together and these straight rods became obsolete. Spinal fusion is basically a procedure where doctors "weld" parts of the spine together, so the vertebral column heals into a single, solid rigid unit.

The modern surgery is superior to the Harrington rods surgery because it allows the spine to be corrected in a much more natural, physiologic way, but there haven't been many studies evaluating how patients who undergo the surgery fare years down the road. To remedy this, HSS investigators conducted a pre- and post-operative MRI analysis in patients undergoing the surgery with modern techniques.

The investigators reviewed all spinal fusions performed by four senior scoliosis surgeons at HSS between 1991 and 1997. Patients were included in the study if they had idiopathic scoliosis, were 21 years or younger and had surgery that had the surgeon approach the patient's spine from the patient's back versus the front or side. Patients had to have fusion of the spine in their lower back (between vertebra T12 and L3).

Thirty-three potential study participants were located and 20 agreed to participate. These patients returned for a physical examination by an orthopedic surgeon that included an MRI. Doctors recorded their medical history with special attention to level and location of pain and whether or not the patient was taking pain medication. Doctors compared the new MRIs to the ones taken ten years prior, before the surgery.

"We wanted to see how the patients were doing ten years down the road, specifically focusing on the part of the spine that didn't have surgery. The standard belief was that the area of the spine just below the surgery would wear out, because of the increased stress that the surgery or the fusion would put on that part of the spine," Dr. Green said. "That isn't what we found. We found that the area of the spine adjacent to the fusion was pretty healthy and didn't show any major degeneration ten years later. While mild degenerative changes were noted in almost every patient, the severe changes that we were concerned that we might find were not there at all."

The investigators also found that patients had good functional scores and maintenance of balance. No patients reported significant lower back pain. No patients took analgesic medications for their pain, with the exception of four patients (20%) who took occasional non-prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

The investigators say the study results are good news for patients. Dr. Green also said the results may cause worry for investigators and companies who are trying to develop surgeries for scoliosis that do not involve fusing the spine. "There is a lot of research and investment being done looking for new technologies that do not use fusion," Dr. Green said. "This study would suggest that there is a challenge for those trying to do that because the patients doing fusion are doing well."

MU researcher says instructors can reduce cheating by being clear

A new University of Missouri study says that the reasons students give for cheating are rational, and that stricter punishments won't solve the problem. Instead, teachers should communicate clear standards and provide consistent enforcement to reduce instances of cheating. Edward Brent, associate chair of the Department of Sociology in the MU College of Arts and Science, and Curtis Atkisson, an MU anthropology student, asked students, "What circumstances, if any, could make cheating justified?"

While a majority of the students said that no circumstances can ever justify cheating, 35 percent suggested circumstances such as a "horrible life crisis" or "severe illness" were enough to justify cheating. Excuses such as "too hard to do or too little time," made up the majority of the excuses, and much less common were excuses that argue that the behavior was due to the actions of someone or something else, such as "my computer died."

"Our data indicate that very few students actually consider getting caught when they think about cheating," Brent said. "The logic is closer to 'this isn't fair,' or that 'I really didn't know,' or other reasons that are more likely to influence their decisions other than the thought of getting caught and facing stiff punishments."

Rational reasons for cheating do not necessarily mean cheating is justified. However, Brent believes that the reasons students give for cheating could help educators develop solutions to reduce cheating. Educators should set clearly defined rules and expectations, which Brent calls the "student-teacher contract," as students typically respond to consistent enforcement of clear standards. If the student-teacher contract is broken – for example, a professor gives a test on material not covered in class –the student rationalizations become more justified.

"If instructors have poorly conceived classes and requirements, students will have plenty of rationalizations for cheating," Brent said. "Well designed classes, with clear expectations about tests and identified materials, would fulfill reasonable student expectations, decrease cheating and increase learning."

The results were published in the article, "Accounting for Cheating: An Evolving Theory and Emergent Themes," in the journal Research in Higher Education. The results were also presented at talks given by Brent and Atkisson at the Oxford Internet Institute and the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom.

Face time with a female aids males bent on monkey business

Male monkeys looking for a good time might benefit from spending a bit longer getting to know a potential mate, according to a new study published online in the scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The time males spend around a prospective mate might be the key to detecting subtle sexual signals that show which females are fertile and which are not, according to the study, co-authored by an international team of biologists and psychologists.

"The results of this study shed new light on the role that experience can play in reading others' mating signals," said Laurie Santos, a psychologist from Yale University who was a co-author on the study.

Scientists have long been curious about how females of some primate species, including humans, advertise their fertility and how males recognize often subtle signals. Previous research has shown that the faces of female monkeys sometimes darken when they are fertile, but not all females show exactly the same changes. So can males learn to "read" a female's face?

To study this question, the researchers looked at a rhesus macaque population on the island of Cayo Santiago, off the coast of Puerto Rico, testing whether males could detect when a female was ovulating from her picture alone. They presented male monkeys with two pictures of the same female's face: one from a day on which she was ovulating, and one from a time before she was ovulating. More than 80 percent of males from the female's group were able to discriminate between the two faces, looking longer at the photograph in which she was ovulating than the one in which she was pre-fertile. Males who did not know the specific female in the photograph showed no such preference. This result suggests that males may increase their chance of detecting a female's receptivity by getting to know her.

"Many primates, including humans, receive signals from individuals with whom they are familiar. How this familiarity affects how we interpret the signals we receive from others is largely unknown," said James Higham, lead author of the study, who undertook the work while at The University of Chicago. "I think that similar familiarity effects are quite common in humans as well. How can we determine whether someone is upset or just generally grumpy, or whether someone genuinely likes something or is just always enthusiastic, unless we really know them?"

"The study raises new questions about whether familiarity might be used by the males of our own species to detect when women are fertile," noted Santos.

A new study louses up a popular theory of animal evolution and opens up the possibility that dinosaurs were early – perhaps even the first – animal hosts of lice. The study, in Biology Letters, uses fossils and molecular data to track the evolution of lice and their hosts. It offers strong evidence, the researchers said, that the ancestors of lice that today feed on birds and mammals began to diversify before a mass extinction event killed off the dinosaurs about 65 million years ago.

"This study lends support to the idea that major groups of birds and mammals were around before the dinosaurs went extinct," said Kevin Johnson, an ornithologist with the State Natural History Survey at the University of Illinois and a principal investigator on the study. "If the lice were around, we know their hosts were probably around."

Scientists still are trying to understand the factors that led to the diversity of today's birds and mammals. One theory is that the extinction of the dinosaurs fostered the earliest stages of bird and mammal diversification and expansion (a process called "radiation") by opening vast new territories and types of habitats to them.

"Ducks do different things from owls, which do different things from parrots, for example," Johnson said, "and it was thought that after the dinosaurs went extinct that's when these birds or mammals diversified into these different niches."

"But based on the evidence from lice, the radiation of birds and mammals was already under way before the dinosaurs went extinct," he said.

Lice have developed unique methods for evading a host's defenses. Wing lice, for example, have elongated bodies that allow them to insert themselves between the barbs in a feather and thus evade preening. Gopher lice have grooves in the tops of their heads that clasp onto a single shaft of hair. This specialization makes it hard for lice to shift to other hosts. As a result, their evolutionary history coincides very closely with that of their hosts.

Johnson and his colleagues, including co-principal investigator Vincent Smith (a former postdoctoral researcher in Johnson's lab who now is at the Natural History Museum in London) built a partial family tree of lice by comparing the DNA sequences of genes from 69 present-day louse lineages. Changes in gene sequence are a reliable measure of relatedness among different species in the same group (organisms in the same order, family or genus, for example). And because these changes accumulate over time, they also can be used to create a rough timeline of the evolution of related groups of organisms.

"Lice are like living fossils," Smith said. "The record of our past is written in these parasites, and by reconstructing their evolutionary history we can use lice as markers to investigate the evolutionary history of their hosts."

The researchers used louse, bird and mammal fossils to anchor precise time points in the tree. These fossils are dated according to the age of the geologic formations in which they were found. This gives only a minimum age for the animal found embedded there, Johnson said.

"If the oldest dove fossil is 20 million years old, we know that doves must have been around at that time," Johnson said, "so we know that the split that occurred between doves and the closest relative of doves must have occurred before 20 million years ago."

The oldest fossils found so far that resemble modern bird and mammal groups are less than 65 million years old, Johnson said. This led to the hypothesis that major bird and mammal lineages appeared only after the dinosaurs went extinct.

But more recent studies of the genetic changes in major groups of birds and mammals suggest that many of them were around before the dinosaurs disappeared.

The new study supports this idea, Johnson said.

"Our analysis suggests that both bird and mammal lice began to diversify before the mass extinction of dinosaurs," Johnson said. "And given how widespread lice are on birds, in particular, and also to some extent on mammals, they probably existed on a wide variety of hosts in the past, possibly including dinosaurs."

Many scientists believe that birds are the descendants of feathered dinosaurs, Jonson said. "So maybe birds just inherited their lice from dinosaurs."

Ko certified for release

Ko is getting ready to hit the theatres this month. The film recently went in for censor certification and it has been awarded with a U certificate. Ko, directed by KV Anand, is said to be a political thriller. The film has Jiiva, Ajmal, Karthika and Piaa Bajpai playing the lead roles.

Shot in some exotic foreign locations, Ko will certainly be a feast for the viewers eyes, say sources in Kollywood. KV Anand, being a cinematographer himself before deciding to wield the megaphone, has a penchant for choosing the best locations for his films.

Music director bereaved

Music director Sundar C Babu’s mother Sudhakshina Devi passed away after a brief illness on Tuesday evening (5 April, 2011). She was the widow of late Chitti Babu, the renowned Veena expert. Sudhakshina Devi was herself an acclaimed Veena player and has accompanied her husband to several concerts in the past. She is survived by three sons Rangasayee, Radha Krishnan and Sundar C Babu. Behindwoods.com offers heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family.

Crowds swarm Ajith

The crew of Mankatha wouldn’t have expected such a huge crowd at Dharavi in Mumbai. When people in that area came to know that Ajith is in their neighborhood to take part in the Mankatha shooting, they just descended on the sets.

Ajith, on the other hand, was happy to meet his fans and obliged them by posing for photos and signing autographs. Mankatha’s director Venkat Prabhu had a tough time trying to control the crowd and resumed the shooting after a short break.

Mankatha is produced by Dayanidhi Alagiri for Cloud Nine Movies. The film has Arjun, Trisha, Lakshmi Rai and Anjali playing important roles.

Gaddafi Onslaught Pushes Rebels Back From Brega

Tripoli/Washington :  A fierce offensive by government troops pushed Libyan rebels attempting to take the key oil town of Brega further east, as diplomatic moves to end the over month-long conflict made little headway with the regime stating that it was open to negotiate all reforms except Muammar Gaddafi’s exit.

Coming under intense and renewed bombardment outside Brega, a part of which the rebels had taken over yesterday, they abandoned the town and were heading towards the eastern city of Ajdabiya, Al Jazeera reported.

Heavy fighting was reported today and opposition forces said they came under rocket and artillery fire as they attempted to fight back with mortars and rockets of their own.

The control of the oil town is vital as the capture of the oil pipeline terminus, small refinery and Mediterranean port could boost the opposition hunt for revenues.

The developments came as a NATO official claimed that 30 per cent of Libya’s military capacity had been destroyed as a result of the international strikes on Gaddafi’s assets.

Brig Gen Mark Van Uhm said that “we have taken out 30 per cent of the military capacity of the pro-Gadhafi forces.” On the ground, however, the rebels painted a gloomy picture of their advance and lamented the unmatched military capacity of the two sides.

“When you see this, the situation is very bad. We cannot match their weapons,” Kamal Mughrabi, 64, a retired soldier who joined the opposition army was quoted as saying as the opposition was pushed back almost 20-30 km east of Brega.

Early in the day, a coalition airstrike targeted eight government vehicles that were advancing on opposition positions, rebel officer Abdel-Basset Abibi said.

In first concrete comments from the beleaguered regime whose forces have been hit relentlessly by Western missiles and air strikes for weeks, Gaddafi’s spokesman Mussa Ibrahim said that everything except the exit of the Libyan leader was negotiable.

“The kind of political system which can be implemented in the country is negotiable. We can talk about it,” he told reporters in the capital.

In a calibrated move, the US decided to drop financial sanctions against Libyan foreign minister Moussa Koussa who defected to Britain last week hoping other aides of Gaddafi would follow suit.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in Washington that the US administration is in the process of identifying more people close to the authoritarian ruler to target them with sanctions.

Van Uhm, meanwhile, said that NATO’s “number one priority” now was the western town of Misurata, where residents have been besieged by pro-Gaddafi troops for weeks.

He said in Misurata human beings were being used as shields in order to prevent NATO sorties to identify targets.

Meanwhile, the Libyan rebels were set to begin exporting their first shipments of oil since mid-March after a tanker capable of holding USD 100 million worth of crude docked at the eastern port of Tobruk.

There were conflicting reports that 68-year-old Gaddafi was ready to negotiate a deal with the western powers under which he remains in the country, but this was firmly rejected by the rebels.

The pro-democracy forces have made it clear that Gaddafi has to step down and there was no question of any of his sons taking his place.

Ibrahim's comment that Gaddafi would not quit came after opposition rebels flatly rejected a reported peace deal that could have seen the dictators son Seif-ul-Islam taking over.

Terming Gaddafi as the "safety valve", the Libyan spokesman said his stay in power in the country was essential for the unity of nation's tribes and peoples.

"His (Gaddafi) presence is a must to lead Libya to any transition to a democratic and transparent model," he said.

Allegations of Gaddafi's forces targeting civilians were brushed aside by Ibrahim.

"We are fighting armed militia and you are not civilian if you take up arms against the state," he said.

The Libyan strongman, after missing for weeks, made  his first public appearance Monday when he greeted supporters at his Bab Al-Aziziya residence, the Libyan national TV reported.

Simultaneously, his son Seif, long seen as Gaddafi's successor, gave an interview to BBC in a Tripoli hotel where he said the defected foreign minister Moussa Koussa had not betrayed Gaddafi, but had left the country for health reasons.

Seif said Koussa was being pressurised into making allegations against Gaddafi and Libya in an effort to secure immunity from prosecution, BBC reported.

Gaddafi's son said the Libyan Foreign Minister was allowed to leave the country and denied that Koussa knew incriminating details about the Lockerbie bombings and other details.

In Washington, the Obama Administration remained non-committal on recognising the Libyan rebels as the de-facto government, even as Italy joined France and Qatar in doing so.

"We have taken a lot of steps to engage in dialogue with opposition leaders. We are part of the contact group, which is very much engaged in the process of assessing the opposition and helping plan for or assisting and advising the opposition and planning for a post-Qaddafi Libya," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

"But we continue to take measures that we believe are in America's national interest, national security interest, in terms of our due diligence and assessing the opposition and assessing the kind of assistance we can provide to the opposition," he said when asked if the US has plans to recognise the rebels as the de-facto Libyan government.

But, AP reported that the Obama administration has sent an envoy to the Libyan opposition for holding talks with those leading the rebellion.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, "Nothing to announce here, but we continue to work closely with the opposition. We continue to advise them and communicate with them regularly. But nothing new on that front."

"We are only weeks since the very beginning of any unrest in Libya at all; only a few weeks since the kinetic engagement of NATO and only a little bit longer than that since the US took action unilaterally and multilaterally on a slew of sanctions and that sort of thing," he said.

After a series of rapid advances, the rebels have witnessed retreats in the recent weeks, faced with a stronger military.

After the rebels abandoned Brega today, a rebel officer was quoted as saying by Al Jazeera that the two sides had battled inside the city until nightfall yesterday and then the rebels moved back to the outskirts.

Yesterday, opposition fighters had regained ground they had given up the day before.

The channel said that the rebels had not experienced such a push by Gaddafi forces for a few days.

However, a spokesman for the opposition's National Council in Benghazi, Mustafa Gheirani, said that while "setbacks" had been suffered, the opposition would fight on.

"There is no revolution without setbacks. But the people will win. Gaddafi cannot rule Libya with his machine - his militias and his mercenaries ... We are committed to fighting this tyrant, and either we will drive him out or he will rule a country with no people in it," he said.

Britain, meanwhile, said that European Union diplomats in Brussels are discussing proposals to offer family members and close aides of Gaddafi a lifting of restrictions on their assets, cash and travel if they withdraw support to the regime. PTI

Airstrikes Destroy 30 Percent Of Gaddafi's Weapons

Brussels : The international aerial onslaught against Moammar Gaddhafi’s forces has destroyed 30 percent of Libya’s military capacity, a senior NATO official said Tuesday.

NATO warplanes have flown 851 sorties in the six days since the alliance took command of all operations from a U.S.-led international force that had been bombing Libya since March 19.

Brig. Gen. Mark Van Uhm said Canadian Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard, who commands the Libyan operation from his headquarters in Naples, briefed NATO’s governing body on Tuesday.

“(Bouchard’s) assessment is that we have taken out 30 percent of the military capacity of the pro-gaddhafi forces,” Van Uhm said.

On Monday, NATO warplanes launched 14 attacks on ground targets in the North African nation, destroying radars, munitions dumps, armored vehicles, and a rocket launcher, he said.

But Van Uhm said pro-gaddhafi forces had changed tactics in recent days in response to the NATO attacks. Libyan forces are now using human shields to prevent more strikes against tanks and other heavy equipment around the coastal city of Misrata, making it impossible for pilots to target them, he said.

Seventy-five percent of strike missions Monday had to return without dropping their bombs or launching their missiles because of this and other factors that made it difficult for pilots to distinguish between civilians and regime troops.

“If they see the target but see humans being used as human shields, they come back,” Van Uhm said.

Van Uhm said Libyan government forces were using trucks and light vehicles now to move their forces to the front line, keeping heavy equipment behind.

“We try to identify where those heavy assets are, because we have seen they have chosen to hide themselves into urban areas to prevent being targeted,” he said.

United States aircraft ended their combat role against Libya on Monday, but U.S. forces continue to provide support, including aerial surveillance, reconnaissance and aerial refueling to NATO allies.

Van Uhm said the U.S. withdrawal had not affected operations on Tuesday.

“The operational tempo has remained the same,” he said.

The U.N. authorized military action to prevent attacks by gaddhafi’s forces on Libyan civilians. AP

Tribe Of Yemen President Clashes With Army, 3 Dead

Sanaa (Yemen) : Tribesmen loyal to Yemen’s embattled president on Tuesday clashed with a group of soldiers whose commander has sided with the opposition, and the fighting in a suburb of the capital Sanaa left three tribesmen dead, according to tribal elders and military officials.

It was the latest violence in weeks of turmoil in Yemen, where President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s military and police forces have cracked down on protesters demanding he step down after 32 years in power.

The clash erupted as a convoy of about 30 cars with armed tribesmen from Saleh’s Sanhan tribe arrived at the headquarters of the 1st Armored Division in western Sanaa to meet with its commander, Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who had earlier joined the opposition.

Tribal members and army officers at the scene said al-Ahmar, who also hails from Saleh’s tribe, met a tribal chief, Ismail Abu Hurriya, who tried to persuade the renegade commander to return to the president’s camp.

It was unclear how exactly the shooting started at the gate of the army compound. Several tribesmen were also wounded by the gunfire, witnesses said. Some said a group of government supporters appeared at the scene and opened fire, but conflicting reports could not be immediately clarified.

Security officials said the visit was an attempt by Saleh to mediate with al-Ahmar. All the witnesses and officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the tense situation.

Earlier Tuesday, Saleh’s office said in a statement that the president had met with some leaders of his tribe to discuss the tensions.

The powerful Sanhan tribe is split between those remaining loyal to Saleh and those who have crossed over to the opposition. The tribe is also affiliated with the Hashid, the country’s biggest and most powerful tribe, which has sided with the opposition.

Al-Ahmar’s troops have stationed themselves close to the central square near Sanaa University to protect thousands of anti-Saleh protesters who have been camping for weeks, refusing to give up their protest until Saleh leaves office.

Yemen’s opposition parties urged the international community, regional powers and human rights groups to help stop the bloodshed in the country. More than 120 people have been killed and 5,000 injured since Yemen’s protests started in Feb. 11, inspired by the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

The parties issued a statement late Monday accusing Saleh, his sons and relatives, as well as security and military apparatuses they control of carrying out planned attacks against peaceful demonstrations with the intent to kill.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton expressed grave concern for “the reports of violent repression, including live ammunition, against demonstrators.” In a statement Tuesday, she said she contacted Saleh last week to call for an orderly handover. “Transition must begin now,” she said in the statement.

Saleh has clung to power, saying Yemen will sink into chaos if he goes, warning of growing al-Qaida influence.

In Taiz, dozens of protesters were treated from breathing problems after police fired tear gas as thousands of demonstrators took to the streets for a third straight day to press for Saleh’s ouster.

On Monday, at least 15 people were killed when military forces and police snipers opened fire on demonstrators who marched past the governor’s headquarters in Taiz. AP

2G: Centre Opposes Prosecutor's Appointment By CBI

New Delhi : Government was at loggerheads with the CBI in the Supreme Court today over the agency’s decision to appoint senior advocate U U Lalit as special public prosecutor in the 2G spectrum case, saying he did not meet the eligibility criteria for the task.

Asked by the apex court to issue notification for the appointment by today, Government raised technical objections to Lalit’s appointment saying that he should have worked under the state or the Union government for at least seven years to be eligible as the case has been filed under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

Attorney General G E Vahanvati told a bench of justices G S Singhvi and A K Ganguly that under the provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the special prosecutor has to be working under the state or the Union government for at least seven years.

Senior Advocate K K Venugopal, appearing for the CBI, contended that Lalit had been in the lawyer’s panel for the Maharastra government and the Centre for 15 years and five years respectively and he fulfills the criteria.

But the Attorney General submitted that being in the panel is not sufficient and one should be the government’s standing counsel for seven years and sought one week time from the court to come out with other name for the post.

The court also said that the Act does not mention the word “Standing counsel” and the objection raised was highly technical which should be given “reasonable” interpretation.

The bench, which said that Lalit is one of the most competent persons for the case, allowed the government to make its stand clear on the issue by Friday.

Vahanvati said there were some apprehensions that Lalit’s appointment as the SPP could be challenged at any stage and it may derail the entire prosecution of the case.

The CBI has registered cases against former Telecom Minister A Raja and others under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code, the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

The CBI had on April 1 informed the apex court that Lalit will be appointed as special public prosecutor for assisting the special court, set up for the exclusive trial of the 2G spectrum case.

Venugopal had told the court that the agency had been facing lot of difficulties in finalising the name of special public prosecutor to lead a team of its prosecutors in assisting the special court for trial of the 2G case.

He had said the CBI faced difficulty as most of the senior counsel have been hired by one or the other party.

Maintaining that in the given circumstances, Lalit was the best choice as CBI’s special public prosecutor, Venugopal had pointed out that he had a vast experience in various criminal laws.

The agency in its first charge sheet alleged that Raja, former Telecom Secretary Siddharth Behura, Raja’s personal secretary R K Chandolia, Shahid Usman Balwa and Sanjay Chandra entered into a conspiracy for manipulating the procedure for allocation of spectrum with the aim of favouring companies like Swan Telecom and Unitech Group.

Others named in the charge sheet include Vinod Goenka, a Director of Mumbai-based DB Realty, which was also the promoter of Etisalat DB, Sanjay Chandra, Managing Director of Gurgaon-based real estate company Unitech and Unitech Wireless(Tamil Nadu) Pvt Ltd and Gautam Doshi, Hari Nair and Surendra Pipara, Group Managing Director and two Senior Vice Presidents of Mumbai-based Reliance Telecom Company. PTI

CWG Scam: CBI Searches 20 Locations

New Delhi : The CBI today registered the ninth case in its probe of alleged corruption during Commonwealth Games naming seven senior engineers of CPWD and DDA for allegedly inflating cost of laying of synthetic turf as it carried out searches at 20 locations across the NCR.

Besides these officials, a sports equipment providing company Jubilee Sports Private Limited which had got the contract for laying of synthetic turf for Lawn Bowl event during the Games has also been named in the case, official sources said.

The case was registered under provisions of Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Corruption Act related to criminal conspiracy, cheating and misuse of officials position against DDA and CPWD officials and the company, sources said.

This is ninth case registered by the agency in its ongoing probe in the alleged corruption during the conduct of the Commonwealth Games last year between October 3-14, 2010.

Two serving Senior Engineers of Delhi Development Authority Umesh Kumar and N H Khan, one retired Senior Engineer Janeshwar Tyagi and four Central Public Works Department officials -- Executive Engineers Dineshwar Gaur and Surja Ram, Senior Engineer Rajendra Kala and Assistant Engineer Kailash Chand are also named in it, sources said.

"The firm has provided and laid synthetic outdoor flat Lawn Bowl Greens for Commonwealth Games 2010 in which the accused officials of CPWD and DDA allegedly inflated the costs of the contract from the estimate of Rs six crore to Rs 9.88 crore by including allegedly false amounts against its cost, transportation etc," the official spokesperson said.

The official said several incriminating documents have been recovered during the searches and investigations are still going on.

As part of exercise the agency sleuths swooped down on the DDA offices at Pitam Pura and Vikas Minar where Kumar and Khan work, CPWD offices at Major Dhyanchand National Stadium where Kala and Ram work and at Jawaharlal Nehru stadium where offices of Chand and Gaur are located, sources said.

The residence of Siddarth Kumar, director of Jubilee Sports at Noida, and another official Rajiv Sharma at Greater Kailash were also covered in the exercise. The office of company at Greater Kailash was also searched, they said.

The sleuths also searched residences of all the accused officials spread across Mayur Vihar, Sarojini Nagar, Munirka, Sahyog Vihar, Gazipur and Mehrauli.

Lawn Bowls is a core sport of Commonwealth games. This sport has been a part of all the 17 Commonwealth Games except the 1966 games at Jamaica. The event at Commonwealth Games 2010 had six competitions for men and women. PTI

Phone Call To Air India Call Centre Sparks Security Scare At IGIA

New Delhi : An anonymous phone call received at Air India call centre today that a bomb would go off sparked a security alert at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport here but the threat turned out to be a hoax.

The call centre of the national carrier received the call at around 7 pm in which the caller said a bomb would be set off.

A senior CISF official said the call was "not specific" as to whether somebody was targeting a plane or the airport.

"The caller did not say where the bomb will be exploded", the official said.

A spokesman of Delhi International Airport Ltd later said a 3-member threat assessment committee held a meeting following the phone call and concluded that since the threat was not specific, the call hoax.

The CISF official said the standard security operation procedure was adopted after getting the phone call.

"We have strengthened the security. We have sanitised the airport," the official said.

Airport officials said flight operations were normal. PTI

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