Monday, April 11, 2011

Airtel downplays impact of court order stopping “Freedom to Dream” promotion

Airtel has played down suggestions it has suffered substantial financial loss following the Fast Track High Court ruling ordering a cessation of its

“Freedom to Dream” promotion.

The National Lottery Authority sued Airtel because it says the promotion was illegal.

The promotion has been supported with a massive advertising campaign across media platforms including radio, television, the internet, billboards and flyers at great costs.

Country Manager, Phillip Sowah however believes the funds were committed to a good cause.

He said the company was only concerned because the promotion was designed to give its subscribers unparalleled experience.

The ruling meanwhile has implications for the way the telcos and businesses in general run promotions which are usually aimed at attracting customers and clientele.

Politics to temper “BRICS” broad ambitions

BEIJING: When Indian media reported recently that Chinese troops were in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, the response from China was vehement. “Such talk is utterly baseless and totally absurd,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters last week.

The episode was a small reminder of the big political differences that confront the leaders of five of the world’s big emerging economies as they meet in China this week.The leaders of the “BRICS” nations of China, Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa have voiced lofty goals, from rebalancing the global economy to giving the developing world more say in the G20 and IMF.

But while they together make up nearly a fifth of the global economy and they indeed share a lot of common gripes, they also have many mutual rifts, China’s close relationship with Pakistan among them. Their broader aspirations will likely be frustrated by suspicion and diverging views on key issues.

Thursday’s gathering in the southern Chinese beach resort of Sanya, attended by South Africa for the first time, will last just a few hours, according to diplomatic sources.“They share their relative underdevelopment … and their willingness to establish a new world economic order, which is where they have greater

weight and where they are listened to,” said Uri Dadush, head of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s International Economics Programme.“Beyond that, the differences are huge. There are rivalries, large rivalries, particularly between China and India. And there are potential rivalries between Russia and China in the long term.”

Even questions like whether the five should set up a more formal mechanism, like a secretariat, have no consensus; nor is there a clear idea about when or how they might add other members, such as Indonesia, Turkey or Mexico. The previous two summits, in Russia and Brazil, were inconclusive.

Still, while the summit is unlikely to achieve much concrete, it will give the world’s big rising economies a venue to coordinate views on global financial reforms, commodity prices and other shared concerns. “It is an important meeting; it’s added a new member and it’s demonstrated a commitment to position themselves in a political way,” said Chris Alden, head of the emerging powers programme at the London School of Economics.

“They wanted to represent all of the emerging and developing world, so that’s a rationale for bringing South Africa in, and all that suggests to me that there’s a self-conscious political motivation in how they see themselves,” he added. A not-so united front The BRICS group – evolving from the BRIC term coined by Jim O’Neill of Goldman Sachs in 2001 – has emerged as a loose united front to press the rich Western economies, especially the United States, which traditionally dominated global diplomacy.

South Africa asked to join the grouping at the G20 summit in Seoul and was invited by China to attend the Sanya gathering.The five member countries accounted for just under 18 percent of the world’s $62 trillion economy in 2010, though China’s GDP was bigger than the rest of the BRICS put together.

Their economic clout is growing, as the developed world struggles with debt and low growth, and the BRICS are starting to operate as a common bloc in the G20, providing a counterpoint to the rich countries’ club, the G7.China says it hopes in particular that the Sanya meeting will be able to get the group to form a common stance on commodity price fluctuations at the G20 summit in the French city of Cannes later this year.

Yet their politics, in some cases, differ wildly. Brazil, India and South Africa are vibrant democracies, with close ties to the United States. China, now the world’s second-largest economy, is a Communist-ruled country with a low tolerance for political dissent and brittle relations with Washington.China and India, despite a warming relationship, stare at each dubiously across a disputed, militarised border. India is also wary of China’s tight  friendship with Pakistan.

The BRICS countries do not even really understand that much about each other, noted Pei Changhong, head of the Institute of Finance and Trade Economics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a top government think-tank.“We cannot say that we have a good understanding of these large developing countries … These countries also don’t understand much about  China,” he told a seminar last week.

It is far from certain that the summit in balmy Sanya will reach much of a firm conclusion about anything, even on economic topics. Brazil has expressed concern that China’s yuan currency is kept unfairly and intentionally cheap, fuelling a flood of cheap imports into the  country. China is adamant the yuan will not be a subject of discussion. 

The future direction of the grouping is a source of uncertainty too, with some members wanting a much more official structure for the BRICS.Brazil’s new president, Dilma Rousseff, who has adopted a much more pragmatic, result-oriented foreign policy, may have less patience for  diplomatic niceties and will want the BRICS to be more than a political talk shop.

Senior Brazilian diplomat Gilberto Moura, who deals directly with the BRICS, said Brazil was very keen to turn the group into a political forum, trying to forge common positions on a host of global issues.“We are no longer a creation of Jim O’Neill,” he said, adding the situation in the Middle East and North Africa was likely to be on the agenda at Sanya.Even here there has been a difference of opinion.

China, with Russia, India, Brazil and other developing countries have condemned the U.S.-led air strikes on Libyan forces.South Africa, on the other hand, voted in favour of the United Nations Security Council resolution authorising the strikes. However, during a visit to Tripoli on Sunday, South African President Jacob Zuma called for NATO to stop air strikes.

China, though, has been somewhat less than enthusiastic about making BRICS into anything more than the rather informal bloc it now is.India is also wary about the BRICS’ future direction.“There is a lot of cooperation in diverse areas such as climate change and trade to name a few. Even in the G20 the BRICS formulation is a very strong grouping. But it cannot be a blanket or a default south-south political formation,” one senior Indian government official told Reuters.

JAITAPUR’S own Fukushima

After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, it's time for a moratorium on all unsafe nuclear complexes in India
Sadiq Naqvi Delhi With the world still staring at a nuclear catastrophe, the dense white apocalyptic plume billowing from the crippled reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex in Japan has shown that even a super-advanced country in terms of excellence and achievement can face a catastrophic accident that can endanger human lives and ecology on a mass scale. After all, this is happening in a First World economy, a
country which boasts of its superior cutting-edge research and technological prowess.

What exactly happened in Fukushima after the massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami waves is still not clearly known. What is clear, however, is that all the safety features installed at the plant gave in one after another. "The tsunami and the earthquake were just the triggers. The fact of the matter is that the reactors are not designed to cope with serious accidents and natural calamities," says journalist Praful Bidwai, activist with Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP).

CNDP's assessment holds ground if one looks at the way the acclaimed safety apparatus at Fukushima crumbled soon after giant waves smashed through its formidable infrastructure. The nuclear plant had a three-tier safety system to cope with any eventuality. The first system started working as soon as the earthquake struck and the fuel rods undergoing fission at 270 degree celsius were shielded by control rods,
putting a stop to the process.

The fuel rods continued to generate heat even after the fission stopped. In this case, there is the provision of a cooling system, but it crumbled with the massive earthquake. Diesel generators take over in case of a power outage like what happened in Fukushima, but those were rendered useless by the subsequent tsunami waves. These 'gensets' were kept in the basement and were ravaged by the marauding waves.

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, in a report published in 1990, had forewarned that power outage due to an earthquake-induced failure in the diesel generators and subsequent failure of the cooling system is the most likely cause of a nuclear accident. The Japanese, ironically, cited the report, but never took any corrective measures.

The last resort, a system which converts steam back into water to cool the fuel rods, failed as the water level dropped substantially because the fuel rods were still generating heat. "This is not possible without a crack in the reactor vessel. It must have broken after the earthquake," says Bidwai. The steam generated by the intense heat released hydrogen, which is highly inflammable. Efforts to vent out hydrogen from the building resulted in an explosion which blew the roof off. Worryingly, the hydrogen being vented out was actually tritium water vapours, which can be easily absorbed by the human body and have a radioactive 'half-life' of 12.5 years.

The reactors at the Fukushima nuclear facility are of boiling water type design. General Electric, the designer and manufacturer, had reportedly persuaded the regulators that after taking into account the efficiency of the 'Torus' (a doughnut-shaped metal tank half-filled with water to manage excess steam in reactors) and the amount of heat that needs to be managed, even a weak and modest outer containment wall would suffice.

This did not happen in Fukushima and the containment exploded. On the contrary, experts argue, the pressurised water design reactor with super-strong containment at the Three Mile Island facility survived a hydrogen explosion and it is reported that only a thump was heard. Albeit,

even at Three Mile Island, which is said to be the worst nuclear accident in the history of the US, half of the core in one of the units had melted due to loss of coolant. Moreover, startling revelations have come up regarding the design of one of the reactors. Mitsuhiko Tanaka, an engineer who supervised the $250 million pressure vessel in 1975, which now houses the fuel rods in Reactor Number 4 and is in tatters after the explosion, has reportedly

claimed there were faults in the design of the vessel and that he had orchestrated a cover-up with the help of Hitachi, the company entrusted with the work. Post Chernobyl, due to a change of heart, he reported the cover-up to the government, but his pleas fell on deaf ears and the problem was not investigated. Indeed, typically, nuclear establishments in all countries are secretive, dogmatic and shadowy, unable to accept any critical and rational dissent or revelation.        

Also, the spent fuel rods stored in water pools in the Fukushima complex too are risky, because, exposed, they emit deadly radiation. At the time of writing, one of the pools was already on fire due to a hydrogen explosion. "This spent fuel has even more muck than the fuel in use," says Bidwai. Interestingly, the National Academy of Sciences, USA, commenting on a request by the Congress in 2004, had reportedly noted:

"...partially or completely drained pool could lead to a propagating zirconium cladding fire and release large quantities of radioactive materials to the environment." At the time of the quake, the Fukushima facility was stacked high with more uranium than it was originally designed to hold and had repeatedly missed mandatory safety checks.

The Fukushima facility is operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). In an industry where secrecy and non-transparency are the mantras of success, TEPCO too has a dubious record. The company apparently has a history of fudging data. "There have been more than 200

instances of TEPCO reporting false data," says Bidwai. In 2007, the CEO of the company had to resign after the allegations were proven. "JAPAN HAS CHANGED the paradigm of debate vis-à-vis the proposed Jaitapur nuclear park," says Vivek Montero of the Konkan Bachao Samiti. He says that the Fukushima disaster has shown that radioactivity affects everything, all life, agriculture, plantations, animals, human lives. "People have categorically stated their position. The question is not of compensation. We don't want the project, that's all," he adds.

People in the Jaitapur area received land acquisition orders in 2007. By January 2010, the government of Maharashtra had completed the acquisition of 938.026 hectares. Despite forcible acquisition of land, only 114 out of the 2,375 affected families have claimed compensation. "Most of the people who have accepted the compensation are absentee landlords," says Bidwai, who visited Jaitapur recently.

At a recent public meeting with Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan (a hardliner for nuclear energy) and Congress heavyweight Narayan Rane at Jaitapur, the project was unanimously opposed by the villagers. This was expressed politely in front of the chief minister. However, soon after the meeting, repression followed, despite the popular protests having been peaceful all through.

"The chief minister had called us on February 26. The interaction was attended by many locals and most of them told him in plain words that the project won't be allowed," says Montero. Since then, the police have been picking up locals and activists on fabricated and old cases. Montero says that 24 people have been taken into police custody; some of them were detained for long periods without being produced in court. "The government is forcibly pushing the enhanced compensation package down our throats," says a local.

The entire area is under siege. Even parliamentarians and judges have been barred from entering the area. In December, former Bombay High Court judge BG Kolse Patil was detained for five days and not even produced before a magistrate within the stipulated period of 24 hours. Other who have not been allowed include CPI General Secretary AB Bardhan, former Chief of Naval Staff Admiral L Ramdas, former Supreme Court judge and Press Council of India chairman PB Sawant, well-known Pune-based social scientist Sulabha Brahme, and ecologist Madhav Gadgil. 

Post the unfolding disaster in Fukushima, the local community is wary. "The area is prone to earthquakes and falls in Seismic Zone IV, a high damage risk zone," says Montero. "Over the past 20 years alone, there have been three earthquakes in Jaitapur exceeding 5 points on the richter scale. In 1993, the region experienced one quake reaching 6.3 leaving 9,000 people dead. In 2009, due to an earthquake, the bridge to Jaitapur collapsed. None of this was taken into account when the site was chosen," says a report by Greenpeace.

Home to the succulent Alphonso mangoes, Jaitapur is one of the 10 hottest bio-diversity hotspots in the world. Cradled in the scenic Konkan region, it called the Kashmir of Maharashtra. "There is not one inch of land which is devoid of lush green vegetation. They are virgin rainforests," says Bidwai. The Sahyadri mountain range is home to over 5,000 species of flowering plants, 139 mammal species, 508 bird and 179 amphibian species, including 325 globally threatened ones. "People know that the project will destroy their land and livelihood," says a local. There are fears that the project will seriously hamper the fishing economy of the area. In Jaitapur and Madhban, a sizeable population is engaged in fishing.

Plans are afoot for mega nuclear parks to take the power generation through atomic energy to an astronomical 63,000 MW from the current 4,780 MW. The government has planned a nuclear park at Jaitapur, which will have six reactors producing 1,650 MW each. It is slated to be the world's biggest nuclear plant. A French firm, Areva, has been given the contract of six European Pressure Reactors (EPR) at a whopping cost of Rs 42,000 crore. There are nagging worries over the design, functionality and efficiency of these reactors.

"Areva's 1,650 MW EPRs are based on the French N4 and German Konvoi-type reactors. Nowhere in the world has an EPR been fully built or commissioned so far. There are four EPRs in different stages of construction in the world. Two of them are already beset by serious safety and financial problems and delays," says Bidwai. Areva itself has been going through a devastating financial crisis. In 2009, it sought $4 billion in a short-term bailout from French taxpayers, and its shares plunged by over 60 per cent. Post Fukushima, Areva's shares took a further 10 per cent beating. "The Jaitapur case shows that the private nuclear companies are more powerful than the government itself," says Gopal Krishna, an activist with Toxics Watch. 

"The government attaches the highest importance to nuclear safety. The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and its agencies, including the Nuclear Power Corporation of India, have been instructed to undertake an immediate technical review of all safety systems of our nuclear power plants, particularly with a view to ensuring that they would be able to withstand the impact of large natural disasters such as tsunamis and earthquakes," assured Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Parliament.Days later, the country's Atomic Energy Commission Chief Srikumar Banerjee said in an interview, "You should worry less about nuclear energy than about walking or driving on the streets of Delhi."

However, the ministry of health and family welfare had stated to a parliamentary committee in 2010: "...ministry is nowhere to meet an eventuality that may arise out of nuclear and radiological emergencies...while drafting the bill the department of atomic energy did not consult them. Since the response system to deal with any kind of emergency of such type, the hospitals, are not well-equipped, it is natural that mortality and morbidity due to multiple burn, blasts, radiation injuries and psycho-social impact could be on very high scale and medical tackling of such a large emergency could have enough repercussions in the nearby areas of radioactive fallout."

Despite assurances by the government, experts feel an honest assessment of hazards is impossible. "Like the International Atomic Energy Authority, the Indian DAE too is trapped in conflict of interest. They are both the promoters and regulators of atomic energy. How can one expect an honest assessment from them?" asks Krishna. "Safety audit should be independent," says Bidwai. Even Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has called for an independent regulatory body for nuclear energy.  "Fukushima has changed everything," says Krishna.

Sun Pharma, Merck venture to target emerging markets

Mumbai : In an effort to develop and manufacture innovative, branded generic medicines for the emerging markets, Mumbai-based Sun Pharmaceutical has entered into a joint-venture with the US' Merck & Co.

The joint-venture, with “equal representation”, will require investment and commitment from both partners, Sun Pharma's Chairman and Managing Director, Mr Dilip S. Shanghvi, said, adding that it would take more than a couple of years to develop these products.

Senior officials of both companies will make recommendations on the structure of the company and the technologies from Sun Pharma's research arm (SPARC – Sun Pharma Advanced Research Company Limited's), that would be leveraged or moved into the new entity, said

Merck's President (Global Human Health), Mr Adam H. Schechter.

No details were divulged on the products or therapeutic areas that the new joint-venture would focus on, the milestone payments that could come to Sun, if products from its pipeline were leveraged, besides the revenue or intellectual property-sharing model. Also unaddressed is where the joint-venture company would operate from.

The venture would look at chronic indications, officials said, adding that the legal structure would be formed in the next few weeks.

Merck, known as MSD outside the US and Canada, will provide the clinical and registration expertise, besides the geographical footprint. Sun would provide access to its research technologies and manufacturing facilities, officials said.

Both companies reiterated that their existing businesses and products would continue to function outside of this agreement and maintain their “current structure and character”.

The tie-up will leverage technologies developed by Sun Pharma's research arm, as a result, easing the funding pressure on Sun Pharma, an analyst observed. Also, other drug-majors have been entering into similar arrangements, given the pressure on finance to fund research, he added.

Branded generics are off-patent drugs or medicines similar to an innovative drug, but after the exclusive patent period had lapsed - that are nevertheless sold under a brandname.Sun Pharma shares were up 2 per cent at Rs 450 on the BSE on Monday.

“Vettai Mannan will be stylish,” says Silambarasan

Vettai Mannan will be a stylish film, said its hero Silambarasan. The star also revealed that the film will be shot in the US and Mexico and Hollywood stuntmen will be used for fight sequences. Recently, a fight scene was filmed at the Binny Mills where a huge set had been erected for the purpose. According to Silambarasan, the fight was filmed with seven cameras to bring out the best.

Despite Vettai Mannan progressing in full speed, the leading lady has not been finalized yet. The actor said that talks are on with a Bollywood heroine and a decision will be arrived at very soon.

Muran is sold!

The Cheran-Prasanna starrer Muran has now been acquired by the media gaint UTV Motion Pictures. They have acquired all the rights of the film for they were very impressed with the film making and fantastic script. The movie also stars Jaya Prakash, Haripriya, Nikitha and Pratap Pothen among the other and has music by Sajjan Madhav.

It is scripted and directed by Rajan Madhav who was an associate of Mysskin and the film promises to be one of the best action thrillers ever seen. Incidentally it is being produced by the hero of the movie Cheran's banner Dream Pictures. UTV will release Muran in 2011 and after this they will release Selvaraghavan's Erandaam Ulagam for which they have brought the rights.

The UNO calls for 'Chiyaan' Vikram!

Chiyaan' Vikram is garnering praise from all corners for his Deiva Thirumagan trailer and he is said to have performed amazingly. Professional news aside, Vikram now has something that will make him, the fans and the country very happy and proud! Yes, Vikram has been selected as the youth envoy for 'UN Habitat' (United Nations Human Settlement Programme) for the Asian Contingent. Only four envoys are selected worldwide and Vikram is one of them.

When asked about it Vikram was very happy and said that this programme works towards the eradication of poverty through sustainable urban development and also in making the environment clean and green. The actor who has been actively involved in social work is the brand ambassador of Sanjeevani Trust and the goodwill ambassador of a school for special children called 'Vidya Sudha'. He also founded 'The Vikram Foundation' that helps the underprivileged and is a precipitator of the Kasi Eye Care that provides free eye surgeries for the needy.

It is indeed a very proud thing for India and Tamil Nadu in particular and we shall support Vikram in being a successful envoy. The actor is currently at Nairobi in Kenya to attend the UN Habitat's 23rd Governing Council that will go on till the 15th of April.

Doctors 'often defy' their own treatment advice

Many doctors recommend treatments to their patients that they would not use themselves, a US study shows.

Experts asked nearly 1,000 US physicians to consider a medical scenario and pick a treatment.

But when doctors were asked to imagine themselves as the patient their answers differed significantly.

Doctors were far more likely to opt for a therapy carrying a higher chance of death but better odds of side-effect free survival, for example.

But for their patients, doctors tended to pick a treatment that erred on the side of survival, regardless of the quality of life, Archives of Internal Medicine reports.
Death risk

Faced with a choice of one of two operations to treat bowel cancer, for example, two-fifths of 242 physicians chose the surgical procedure with a higher rate of death, but a lower rate of adverse effects.

Conversely, when asked to make a recommendation for a patient, only a quarter of physicians chose this option.

In another scenario, doctors were asked to imagine that either themselves or a patient was infected with a new case of bird flu.

They were told a drug treatment was available, and that without this treatment a person who contracted flu would have a 10% risk of death and 30% risk of needing hospital care.

Treatment would halve the rate of adverse events but also caused death in 1% of patients and permanent neurological paralysis in 4%.

Of nearly 700 doctors, about two-thirds chose to forgo the treatment when imagining they had been infected, to avoid its adverse effects.

However, when imagining that a patient had been infected, only half recommended not taking the treatment.

Dr Peter Ubel, from Duke University, North Carolina, and colleagues say: "When physicians make treatment recommendations, they think differently than when making decisions for themselves."

What is not clear is which is the best way to reach a treatment decision - putting yourself in the shoes of another or not.

Indeed, today doctors are often discouraged from giving their own personal opinion and instead are encouraged to present the relevant evidence and information so that the patient can make the choice for themselves.

"Our study does not suggest that physicians always make better decisions for others than they would make for themselves.

"At most, our study suggests that in some circumstances, the act of making a recommendation might improve decision making," say the researchers.
'Reliant on doctors'

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of UK-based The Patients Association, said it was "very telling" that the research had found many doctors may take a different course of action from the one they would advise their patients to follow.

"Doctors are of course human and will weigh up the options subjectively for themselves, no matter what they recommend to their patients.

"The difference is that doctors will have all the medical knowledge to back up their decision whereas patients are sometimes entirely reliant on their doctor for information.

"If the government is serious about making patient choice a reality, it must ensure that all patients have access to meaningful information in a variety of formats on all treatment options so they can come to a decision which is right for them."

Endo to buy American Medical Systems for $2.9 billion

MINNEAPOLIS American Medical Systems Inc. of Minnetonka, Minn., said Monday that it is being purchased by Chadds Ford, Pa.-based Endo Pharmaceuticals Holdings Inc. for $2.9 billion in cash.

The deal enables Endo to add American Medical Systems' market-leading devices to treat pelvic conditions, such as incontinence and erectile dysfunction, to its existing portfolio of urology-related drugs.

News of the deal came as a surprise on Wall Street and sent shares of American Medical soaring 32 percent. That made the stock one of the market's top movers on Monday.

"This is a surprise and a nice gift for investors," said Thomas Gunderson, an analyst with Piper Jaffray.

American Medical shares closed at $29.50, up $7.17, while Endo shares rose 21 cents to $41.06.

Endo Pharmaceuticals, which markets cancer, urology and pain drugs, will also repay $312 million of American Medical Systems' debt in the $30-a-share deal. The purchase is subject to approval by American Medical Systems' shareholders and antitrust authorities and is expected to close late in the third quarter.

Endo Pharmaceuticals doesn't anticipate wholesale job reductions at American Medical Systems' Minnetonka headquarters, where about 650 people work. CEO Anthony Bihl will continue to run the local operation for at least a year.

The combined company will have about $3 billion in annual revenue and employ 4,000 worldwide.

Was American Medical Systems for sale? Not necessarily, said Bihl. But the two companies nonetheless began talks in late 2009.

"I think we'll be really strong partners," Bihl said. Responded Dave Holveck, CEO of Endo Pharmaceuticals: "Tony is a tough guy to court."

Drug and device companies have largely operated independently in recent years, but Holveck said a more integrated model focused on specific outcomes is a better strategy in the wake of health care reform.

Founded 39 years ago by a urologist, American Medical Systems was once owned by Pfizer. Endo Pharmacuticals was spun off by DuPont-Merck in 1997.

Despite the deal, Morgan Stanley analyst David Lewis doesn't expect an impending wave of pharma-device mergers and acquisitions in the near term.

"This transaction appears very specific considering Endo's desire to diversify its business and exposure to urology markets," Lewis wrote in a note to investors Monday.

Broadly speaking, Lewis does expect an acceleration of small and mid-cap mergers and acquisitions in the device world - a trend that has been apparent in Minnesota with the recent purchases of AGA Medical, ATS Medical and EV3.

Endo Pharmaceuticals has been an active acquirer in the past year in an effort to mitigate its reliance on the pain drug Lidoderm, which accounted for almost half its $1.7 billion in annual revenue last year. Lidoderm is slated to come off patent in 2015, exposing it to generic competition.

Endo has recently consummated at least three deals totaling about $1.6 billion. A key acquisition was Healthtronics, a supplier of urological services and products, for $223 million in 2010.

Gunderson said the American Medical Systems purchase could fill in any gaps in Endo's portfolio. "If you made a small acquisition into urology, it's hard to do things in a bold way," he said. "It's like you have parts of an outfield, but you need to fill in the whole team. In that sense, American Medical is a solid play."

Tackling cough during pregnancy

Motherhood is the most beautiful phase of a woman’s life. It is a proud moment for every lady who has a little life within her and she nurtures her child with utmost care and love.

Motherhood brings along a basket full of responsibilities. A mother has to take care of herself and the baby within her. Every little action and step affects the baby.

Cold and cough is something that can affect anyone at any point of time. Incase you are pregnant and have cold or cough you don’t have to panic although the cold may be troublesome.

If you are ill for more than few days and have fever accompanied by sore throat consult your doctor and get the proper medication.

Dr. Shalabh Sharma says, “Women who have asthma should visit the doctor incase of any difficulty while breathing.”

A proper medication can help you feel better but will not help you relieve of the two completely. Here are certain tips to help you during cold and cough:

    * You should drink plenty of fluids such as warm tea, juices to help thin secretions and prevent dehydration.

    * You may find it difficult to sleep with a stuffy nose. Prop up on two to here pillows for easy breathing. You can also use saline nose drops.

    * Steam inhalation with steam drops of eucalyptus can relieve blocked nose and prevent headaches.

    * Hot water with lemon and honey help relieve a sore throat.

    * Garlic and onions are also beneficial in curing cold and cough.

    * Gargle with salted hot water at least 2-3 times a day. It will help you feel better.

    * Take antibiotics as prescribed by the doctor to avoid coughing. Coughing can cause your water bag to burst resulting in premature labor pains.

    * Lastly proper healthcare can prevent you and your baby from all such troubles and medications.

Decongestants (used to cure colds and allergies), cough suppressants and medicines for fever and pain are safe. However, one must seek medical advice before popping the over-the-counter pills.

Treating your cold and cough during pregnancy is crucial as it is not your health alone that is at stake.

Libya's Opposition Rejects AU Truce Plan

Tripoli : Libya’s opposition Transitional National Council today rejected a peace plan proposed by the African Union mediators, saying longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi must accept their demand to relinquish power before any talks.

“This initiative has now been surpassed. From the first day the demand of our people have been the ouster of Gaddafi and the fall of his regime,” rebel council chief and former Justice minister Mustafa Abdel Jalil said at a news conference in opposition stronghold Benghazi.

“Therefore any initiative that does not include this people’s demand, popular demand, essential demand, we cannot possibly recognize,” he said.

The announcement came as the members of African delegation, including five African presidents, arrived in Benghazi to meet rebel leaders in a bid to end hostilities and negotiate a way out of the deepening crisis in Libya.

The Libyan government had accepted the AU peace plan after its representative met Gaddafi and his senior officials in the capital Tripoli yesterday. The plan includes an immediate ceasefire and talks between rebels and government.

The roadmap was a five-point plan which called for a ceasefire and the protection of civilians, alongside the provision of humanitarian aid for Libyans and foreign workers in the country, Al-Jazeera reported.

“Muammar Gaddafi and his sons should depart immediately,” rebel spokesman Mustafa Jabril told reporters.  “We cannot negotiate the blood of our martyrs,” said Jabril. “We will die with them or be rewarded with victory.”

He also thanked the international community and coalition forces for their support, which he said had saved the lives of civilians.

In Brussels, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said any ceasefire “must be credible and verifiable” and any solution “must respond to the legitimate demands of the Libyan people for political reforms.”

Meanwhile, the government forces pounded besieged western town of Misurata, which has been the scene of heavy bombardments for more than a month now. The rebels pushed back an advance by Gaddafi’s forces into the town.

In the eastern battlefront, where the government forces were rapidly advancing till yesterday, a major NATO strike destroyed 25 tanks on the outskirts of Ajdabiya and Misurata, helping the opposition stem their advance.

While 11 tanks were hit outside Ajdabiya, which the rebels were struggling to hold on, while another 14 were targeted on the outskirts of Misurata.

Gaddafi made his first appearance in front of the foreign media in weeks when he joined the AU delegation at his Bab al-Aziziyah compound, Al Jazeera said.

Ramtane Lamamra, the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, said the issue of Gaddafi’s departure had come up in the talks yesterday but declined to give details.

“There was some discussion on this but I cannot report on this. It has to remain confidential,” he said.

“It’s up to the Libyan people to chose their leaders democratically,” he was quoted as saying.

The revolt against Gaddafi’s 41-year reign began as a wave of protests across the country in late February but soon escalated into a civil war after Gaddafi’s troops fired on demonstrators and armed fighters seized several eastern towns.  Given the fact the Gaddafi had earlier during the fighting violated a ceasefire, the rebels are also doubtful of how well any future truce would hold.

They have maintained that any negotiation for a transition to democracy in Libya would take place only when Gaddafi and his sons leave the country. The rebels have also demanded that Gaddafi’s forces remove their troops from the cities.

In Benghazi, hundreds of people gathered outside the airport and demanded Gaddafi’s overthrow.

In addition to South African President Jacob Zuma, who was leaving Libya to return home after meeting Gaddafi, the AU delegation in Tripoli included three other African leaders—

President Amadou Toumani Toure of Mali, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania, and Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo.

The fighting that is on for almost two months has descended into a military stalemate with most of the west in control of the government troops while a large part of the east under rebel control.

Calls for a political resolution to the conflict have grown internationally as the possibility of the rebels succeeding in overthrowing the regime appears increasingly bleak.

British Prime Minister David Cameron’s spokesman Steve Field told reporters in London that air strikes by NATO’s would not be stopped without proof of a genuine cease-fire.

“Whether or not there is a cease-fire, that is in Gadhafi’s hands. We have to judge him by what he does, not what he says,” Field was quoted as saying in the media.

NATO, which took control of the allied military operation on March 31, has come under criticism by the rebels after a number of their fighters died in NATO attacks in what the coalition later called a mistake.

NATO stepped up attacks on Gaddafi’s armoured divisions yesterday to loosen the siege of Misurata, which is facing shortages of food and medicines, and also to halt the government troops’ advance in the east. PTI

6.3 Earthquake Hits Japan's Chiba Prefecture

Tokyo : A strong offshore earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 jolted Chiba Prefecture, just east of Tokyo, this morning, a day after an aftershock of 7.1 rocked Japan's northeast, country's Meteorological Agency said.

There was no immediate report of any damage to life or property due to quake which hit the prefecture and its vicinity at 8.08 am (local time). Residents in Tokyo also felt the jolts as buildings in the Japanese capital shook for several seconds.No tsunami warning was issued, but the runways of Narita international airport in the prefecture were reportedly closed for checks in the wake of quake.

Another aftershock hit of 5.5 magnitude hit Nagano Prefecture in central Japan at 7.26 am today, the MeT officials said. The was no report of any damage.

Yesterday, a strong aftershock of magnitude 7.1 jolted Japan's northeast on the one-month anniversary of the devastating quake and tsunami that had left thousands of people dead, prompting authorities to evacuate workers from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. PTI

I Will Come Back, Says Musharraf

Islamabad : Dismissing reports that he has dropped plans to return to Pakistan after the military here refused to provide him extra security, former President Pervez Musharraf has said he had never made such a request to the army and insisted that his plans to come back were intact.

“My comeback plans are very much intact. I don’t need any extra measures for my protection and the government, not the army, is responsible for that,” Musharraf, who lives in self-exile in Britain, told The Express Tribune newspaper.

He rejected reports that Pakistani military leadership had refused to provide him extra security to counter threats to his life from al-Qaeda and Taliban and turned down his request to use its influence to prevent his arrest for his alleged involvement in the killing of former premier Bhutto and Baloch nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti.

“I have never made any such request,” Musharraf told the paper by phone from Dubai.

A spokesperson for the former army chief also contradicted the media reports, saying they were untrue.

“Musharraf...will return when he has to...We will decide what time suits him to be in Pakistan again,” said Fawad Chaudhry, who is associated with Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League (APML) party.

Musharraf has repeatedly said he plans to come back to Pakistan to lead the APML in the next general election scheduled for 2013 though he has not set a date for his return. PTI

Sathya Sai Baba Responding Positively, Say Doctors

Puttaparthi : The condition of spiritual guru Sathya Sai Baba, undergoing treatment for multi-organ dysfunction, continues to be critical and sources in the hospital said that he might continue to be aided by the ventilators for at least four or six weeks.

Baba is improving gradually but is still “critical,” doctors attending on him said on Monday.

“Sai Baba is showing positive response to the treatment. He is still on the ventilator and is undergoing dialysis periodically,” the bulletin issued by A N Safaya, Director, Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences stated.

His hemodynamic values like heart rate, blood pressure, blood gas analysis are nearly normal, the bulletin claimed, adding that the functioning of liver is also showing improvement.

“His overall condition is much better than earlier, although he is still critical,” it added.

Bangalore Astrolger Held For Suggesting Nude Pooja

Bangalore : A self-styled astrologer was arrested by police after he advised a businessman to get his two teenaged daughters to sit for a puja in the nude, reports Bangalore Mirror.

The businessman has a farmhouse in Yelahanka. Recently, a few animals and birds there died inexplicably. He found a few lemons, chillies and eggs inside the farm.

He suspected black magic, and sought the help of Kannan Swami, who ran Kalikamba Jyothishyalaya in the neighbourhood.

Kannan told the businessman that a special ritual was needed to be carried out in the presence of his wife and children to counter the black magic.

He did a pooja with the wife first and then told the businessman that his children should also sit for a special ritual in the nude. He did not want anyone else around.

This made the businessman suspicious. And then his his wife told him that Kannan tried to touch her during the pooja. The businessman got angry. He consulted his friends and the principal of his chidlren’s school.

They probed Kannan’s credentials, and learnt that he had been arrested by Peenya police for cheating unemployed youth on the pretext of sending them to Dubai for work.

They confronted him with this information, and when he failed to give a convincing reply, called the police.

Police have arrested Kannan and registered a case of attempt to rape and cheating against him.

Paswan Demands Dalit In Joint Drafting Panel

Nagpur  : Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan on Monday  said a Dalit should have been in the committee constituted to draft the Lokpal Bill.

“One Dalit activist or leader could have been accommodated in the five-member representation from the civil society in the committee constituted for Lokpal Bill when social activist Anna Hazare launched an agitation in New Delhi,” he told reporters here.

In a veiled attack on yoga guru Baba Ramdev, he said some undesirable persons had shared the stage with Hazare.Paswan said that noted social reformer Mahatma Jyotirao Phule should be conferred with the Bharat Ratna award.

In a separate briefing, Republican Party of India president Ramdas Athawale too lamented that a Dalit had not found a place panel to draft the Lokpal Bill.

Athawale said his party workers are against forging an alliance with both Congress and NCP during the elections for 10 municipal corporations in Maharashtra next year. PTI

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