Friday, April 15, 2011

Data catches up with theory: Ocean front is energetic contributor to mixing

Wind blowing on the ocean is a crucial factor mixing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into the ocean depths and keeping it from going back into the atmosphere. For more than two decades scientists have suspected there's another – possibly substantial – source of energy for mixing that's generated in the ocean where cold, heavy water collides with warm, light water. However, there's never been a way to get enough measurements of such a "front" to prove this – until now.

University of Washington and Stanford University researchers report in the print edition of Science April 15 about turbulence at a front near Japan that is 10 to 20 times more energetic than what the wind could generate.

Without such data, the turbulence and mixing contributed by fronts can't be reliably accounted for in climate models, according to Eric D'Asaro, oceanographer with the UW Applied Physics Laboratory and School of Oceanography. Climate modelers, for example, need an accurate reading of how rapidly carbon dioxide is mixed into the depths, or interior, of the ocean in order to use the models to predict the effects of climate change, he says. Right now, for instance, the oceans absorb about 30 percent of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.

"Progress in understanding the dynamics of fronts has been hampered by lack of observations," says Raffaele Ferrari, Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor of oceanography, who is not involved with the paper.

"The research represents a remarkable breakthrough in that it provides possibly the first direct observations of how an ocean front works on scales from kilometers to millimeters," Ferrari says. He's the author of a "Perspectives" piece in Science April 15 about the challenges of representing oceanic fronts in climate models.

Thousands of fronts develop in the ocean where bodies of water with different characteristics meet. Typically one is colder and the other warmer: think of river water flowing into the ocean, or ocean currents from the tropics encountering those from the poles. Fronts can be small, stretching only hundreds of yards while others go on for miles; some exist only briefly while others persist for weeks or months; and the path of a front is continually meandering.

The ever-changing position and shape of fronts is what makes them devilish to measure.

"It's like trying to watch a tadpole grow while it's being carried downstream in a river," says Craig Lee, oceanographer with the UW Applied Physics Laboratory and School of Oceanography and a co-author of the paper. "You can't expect to sit in one place and watch it turn into a frog – you have to follow it wherever it goes."

D'Asaro, Lee and their colleagues picked the Kuroshio front off Japan for their attempt. The Kuroshio current, second in strength only to the Gulf Stream, carries warm water north from the subtropics and forms a front where it meets cold subpolar water carried south by the Oyashio current.

Although the front is strong and persistent, the scientists had to choose one particular piece, continually track its exact location as it was carried downstream and measure it. Floats developed by D'Asaro, which are programmable and buoyant in a way that they can stick with a moving and undulating body of water, marked the location of the chosen section and relayed acoustic signals so a ship could go to the front and measure what was happening.

At the Kuroshio front, winds blowing along the front combined with the Earth's rotation create currents that flow across the front pulling cold water over warm. Cold water is heavier than warm water and turbulence is created as the top-heavy waters sort themselves out, creating new, more-temperate layers of warm on top of cold water.

The work involved "a great deal of ingenuity to keep all these tools along a front for a few weeks," Ferrari says.

What they found at the strong Kuroshio front, D'Asaro says, is likely an extreme example of a process that occurs much more widely in the ocean.

"It's not just wind at work on the ocean. The enhanced mixing at this front is drawing energy from the entire North Pacific. That's what's really new," D'Asaro says.

It would be useful to measure other fronts, such as those associated with the Gulf Stream and Antarctic circumpolar currents, to further define their role in ocean dynamics and climate models, Lee says.

Recipe for radioactive compounds aids nuclear waste and fuel storage pools studies

Easy-to-follow recipes for radioactive compounds like those found in nuclear fuel storage pools, liquid waste containment areas and other contaminated aqueous environments have been developed by researchers at Sandia National Laboratories. "The need to understand the chemistry of these compounds has never been more urgent, and these recipes facilitate their study," principal investigator May Nyman said of her group's success in encouraging significant amounts of relevant compounds to self-assemble.

The trick to the recipes is choosing the right templates. These are atoms or molecules that direct the growth of compounds in much the way islands act as templates for coral reefs.

The synthesized materials are stable, pure and can be studied in solution or as solids, making it easier to investigate their chemistry, transport properties and related phases.

The compounds are bright yellow, soluble peroxides of uranium called uranyl peroxide. These and related compounds may be present in any liquid medium used in the nuclear fuel cycle. They also appear in the environment from natural or human causes.

Made with relatively inexpensive and safe depleted uranium, the recipes may be adapted to include other, more radioactive metals such as neptunium, whose effects are even more important to study, Nyman said.

Cesium — an element of particular concern in its radioactive form — proved to be, chemically, an especially favored template for the compounds to self-assemble.

The work was done as part of the Actinide Materials Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Frontiers Research Center (EFRC) led by professor Peter Burns at Notre Dame University. Using the new method, researchers at the University of California-Davis are studying how materials behave in water and in different thermal environments, while researchers at DOE's Savannah River Site study the analogous behavior of neptunium.

How useful are tablets for business?

It’s tempting to think of tablets as primarily consumer-focused devices. After all, the default image of a tablet computer often involves someone playing Angry Birds or reading an eBook on a sleek, shiny iPad.

But in reality, some of the most enthusiastic tablet purchasers over the past year have been small and medium-sized businesses, who are using them to replace everything from the (paper) notebook to the (computer) notebook.

On Tuesday, Research In Motion will release its PlayBook tablet, perhaps the most business-focused mobile computer out there. The company hopes that features such as BlackBerry tethering (a feature that allows you to share the Internet connection of your smart phone with your tablet) and better security features will entice corporate customers to ditch the iPad.

Before looking at how companies are using devices such as the PlayBook, it’s worth noting just how many businesses are adopting the technology. According to a recent report by research firm TechAisle, small and medium-sized businesses are using almost 9 million tablets in the U.S. alone. Almost three-quarters of the businesses surveyed are using the devices to supplement, rather than replace their desktops and notebooks. Unsurprisingly, Apple’s iPad is the dominant platform, although the study suggests Android-powered tablets are also gaining prominence. In terms of industries, the two biggest early adopters are health care and financial services.

The way companies in those industries are using tablets points to how many other types of businesses will use them in the future. Consider Sun Life Financial, the insurance giant. Not only will its senior managers be using PlayBooks to conduct presentations (the tablets handle high-definition resolutions and PowerPoint files, making them a lightweight alternative to notebooks and projectors), but insurance agents will also take the devices to meetings with clients. The strategy is to replace paper products with something a lot more flashy, versatile and reusable.

A number of Canadian wealth management firms have also adopted the iPad for the same reason. For example, one firm is using the devices as a replacement to laptops for its client advisers. Tasks that were once time-consuming and clunky, such as photocopying documents, can now be done using tools such as the tablet’s on-board camera.

In the health care industry, the tablet is also quickly becoming a streamlining tool. Late last year, RIM showed off a medical app for the PlayBook called eUnity. The app is a medical image viewer, which securely transmits X-Ray scans, MRIs and other such data to a doctor’s tablet, making for much easier and more organized viewing. In hospitals such as Toronto’s Sunnybrook, staff are trying out such tools.

But there are still a number of issues keeping tablets from breaking out in the business world in the same numbers as laptops and desktops. For one thing, the operating systems on many of the tablets today aren’t customizable, meaning that it is more difficult for IT departments to install custom software or set usage restrictions. Other companies have raised concerns about the level of security on most tablets – a concern RIM hopes to capitalize on with its BlackBerry-tethered PlayBook. However, those concerns are easing somewhat as some companies come to consider the tablet simply as an access device, with the sensitive data itself stored on a more secure cloud. Should such a view become the norm, expect to see a lot of small and large businesses using tablets the way they do laptops.

Asked about India, RIM chief walks out of interview

Research In Motion (RIM) founder Mike Lazaridis ordered a BBC reporter to stop the interview after he was asked questions about his problems with India and Middle East countries that are seeking access to BlackBerry enterprise emails in view of national security issues. "That's just not fair,'' Mike Lazaridis shot back at BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones when he posed this question to the RIM co-CEO at a recent interview.

Looking sideways, a visibly upset RIM boss said, "First of all, we have no security problem. We've got the most secure platform. We've just been singled out because we're so successful around the world."

When the reporter asked whether he could assume that BlackBerry has no issues with India and Middle East countries, Lazaridis said, "No, we don't... we have just been singled because we are successful around the world. It is aniconic product, it is used by businesses, it is used by celebrities, it is used by consumers, it is used by teenagers... we are just singled out just because of our success.''

When the reporter pressed him further on the India question, the BlackBerrychief said, " We are dealing with a lot of issues... we are doing our best to deal with the kind of expertise... ''

The RIM co-CEO exploded when the reporter finally asked him whether he could "confidently tell'' and give "assurance'' to BBC listeners in India and the Middle East whether they could continue using the BlackBerry smart phone without any problems in future.

"The interview is over. You can't use that, Rory. It's just not fair. This is a national security issue. Turn that off,'' the BlackBerry boss told thereporter.

The BBC has posted the video of this portion of the interview on its web site.

The BBC interview followed Lazaridis's recent interview to the New York Times in which he slammed those who are writing off the BlackBerry maker as a "broken brand.''

Though after many deadlines, RIM has given India access to its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), it has remained non-committal on allowing access to its encrypted corporate service.

India has more than a million BlackBerry users and RIM has set sights on the fast growing market as its share in the North American smart phone market shrinks.

The Canadian wireless giant, whose stock has slipped nearly 20 per cent since last month after forecasts of a less-than-spectacular current quarter, is pinning its hopes on its PlayBook tablet due to hit markets in Canada and the US April 19.

Nokia's Pushmail Banned In India

The telecom department has been asked by the home ministry to bar mobile phone companies from launching Nokia's popular messaging service--pushmail/powermail--in India until it put in place a legal monitoring system. “In view of the Intelligence Bureau’s report, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is requested to advice the Telecom Service Providers not to launch Nokia’s proposed pushmail/powermail service without putting in place monitoring facilities to the satisfaction of the LEAs,” ministry of home affairs told the Department of Telecom.

Nokia Messaging is a push e-mail UI that enables mobile users with compatible Nokia phones to manage multiple e-mail accounts. It can mobilise up to 10 e-mail accounts including Gmail, Yahoo!, Rediffmail, Sify and Indiatimes, amongst others.

With about 50 per cent of its E-Series smartphones getting activated for e-mails in the country, the company claims to clock over one lakh activations a month for its messaging e-mail service in India.

"Our push e-mail services are operator-agnostic and can be enjoyed by consumers across operator networks on a host of Nokia devices. We have been working proactively with Government authorities, including setting up servers in India. It is our endeavour at Nokia to comply fully with legal requirements wherever we operate. In offering our services in India, we have adhered to the rules and regulations as required by the Indian Government," the company said in an e-mail response to ET.

Despite resolve, SRK can't stay away from Twitter

Shah Rukh Khan, who had tried really hard to stay away from Twitter, is back on the social networking site. And this time round, he is using the popular site to promote his upcoming sci-fi film Ra.One by keeping his tweeples updated about the forthcoming promotions of the film.

He tweeted, “Yes nice to be bad habits even you all are difficult to here’s to a new round of bad habiting between u and me.”

He added, “Excited with thought of Ra.One teaser. Will ask ESPN Star if I can release the ten seconder on twitter before they release it? Will try.”

Even as SRK promotes the film, it has been learnt that over ten days shooting of Ra.One is still remaining and the filmmakers plan to complete it in May. But, for now the actor has busied himself with the IPL. At the inaugural function he danced to Chak De! with a bevy of extras wearing shimmering outfits.

As for Shah Rukh Khan's Always Kabhi Kabhi, which marks the debut of actors Zoa Morani, Harsh Nagar and Satyajeet Dubey, it is been slotted for a May release. Looks like the actor has got a lot to keep him busy through 2011.

Teen Thay Bhai

Even at his most blink and miss, Om Puri can be a magnet. Teen Thay Bhai is unusual in that it gives this brilliant thesp a full-fledged lead role, which does something equally unusual: sets your teeth on edge.

Puri plays the eldest of three brothers. He is perpetually bad-tempered, frown-lines to the fore. His favourite mode of communication is to yell, at the top of his voice, at those in the vicinity. His wife is fed up (because he has no money), his daughters are fat (because they keep eating), and his brothers are estranged: the middle one is a dentist (Dobriyal) who likes prising peoples’ teeth out, the youngest is a ham (Talpade) who thinks he can act.

The teen bhais find themselves stuck on a snowy night high up on a hilltop, in search of a soft spot for each other. Their grandfather’s complicated will ensures that they cannot shoot each other at sight, but nothing is to stop them from sniping and snarling meanwhile. trouble with Teen Thay Bhai is that it is so flat and so one-note, that the fun, what there is of it, has to struggle to find its way up, and out. The bits which are meant to be out-and-out slapstick grate, and just when you think you are getting a clean stretch of laughs, you are thwacked on the head by loud emotions.

What this film needed was a lightness of touch. What it has is heavy-handedness, most of the time. And fart jokes enough to keep juveniles in splits. (Yeh aawaz kaisi? Arrey kuch nahin, pet mein gas hai). Sigh.

The first half is tough going, with Puri, Dobriyal and Talpade going around in tiny circles before collapsing in a heap, pretty much our state of mind at the point. Post interval, there are a few places where the film tries breaking out of terminal dullness. One sequence where colourful hippie-types are to be seen making marijuana 'parathas’ had the potential to be a riot, but sinks in all the galumphing around. The appearance of a pretty girl (Khanna) in a spot of rustic romance for the middle-bhai gives you a breather, if only for a bit, and makes you wonder where this film with all its acting talent could have gone with a little lift.

It has a wonderful sense of place, which comes from real locations. The mountains are beautifully shot, so you can admire the scenery. The other high point, if you can call it that, is the presence of Deepak Dobriyal, who tries to, and sometimes succeeds, in rising above the obviousness of his lines: both Puri and Talpade are buried under the drifts. Go only if you don’t mind broad humour which overstates its case at every snowflake. Also, if you like your men being called Happy, Chiksi, and Fancy.

Salman Khan: Mindblowing in 'Ready' First Look!

Salman Khan is always Ready in the plot, and Ready is all Salman Khan in the just released First Look of Anees Bazmi's upcoming film .

The nearly 2-min long First Look gives no hint of the plot, just glimpses of what the film packs – dance, romance, masti and action.

What we get to see is impressive. Very impressive. We haven't seen Salman looking so good - even in Dabangg. His uninhibited cavorting is delightful, romancing with Asin is cute, pranking Paresh Rawal is hilarious and thrashing of bad guys thrilling and light hearted.

Salman is back to bang, says the tagline, hinting at the humor in the action sequences.

Asin looks a demure delight, the right inspiration for Salamn's geeky Clark Kent to Superman transformations in the film.

Salman's chemistry with Asin is perfect, and their age difference not apparent in the footage released. We particularly liked Salman's peck on Asin's cheek.

Salman fans will love teaser, more so for the 'phata hua' Dabangg style dialogs.

"Zindagi mein teen cheez kabhi under estimate nahi karna - I, Me and Myself."

Any other star mouthing those dialogs would get booed.

The film is due in theaters on June 3.

Botox can alleviate severe spinal headaches

Washington : A new study has claimed that Botox could be instrumental in relieving terrible spinal headaches.

According to the study Botox can be used in pain management in patients suffering from incapacitating spinal headaches caused by low levels of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).

Remarkably, the only known way to alleviate pain, until the discovery of analgesic properties of Botox, was to lie down.

Washington : A new study has claimed that Botox could be instrumental in relieving terrible spinal headaches.

According to the study Botox can be used in pain management in patients suffering from incapacitating spinal headaches caused by low levels of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).

Remarkably, the only known way to alleviate pain, until the discovery of analgesic properties of Botox, was to lie down.

The patient in the case study had suffered from low CSF pressure headaches for 25 years. For most of that time she only felt better while lying down, resulting in curtailment of her day-to-day activities.

The patient has received Botox for three years and the results have been consistently positive. After every administration of Botox, improvement would last for three months before pain returned, necessitating another dose.

The intensity of the patient’s headaches dropped from eight out of 10 on a visual pain scale to three out of 10, “to everybody’s surprise she made a remarkable improvement,” said Cutrer.

While Botox cannot eradicate the pain completely it can help the patients to live a relatively normal lives.

The secret to longer life discovered!

London: Scientists claim they may have finally found an "elixir of life" by discovering eight genes which could hold the key to a long and healthy life.

An international team, led by King's College London, has pinpointed the eight genetic variations which control the production of a crucial hormone which is linked to old age as well as diseases of the elderly.

The scientists believe that by manipulating the DNA strands they could slow down the ageing process and ward off age-related conditions.

According to them, the genes control levels of the steroid dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate (DHEAS), one of the most abundant in the body and vital to many key functions; and, if this steroid could be altered, then the ageing process could be slowed down, 'The Daily Telegraph' reported.

Team leader Dr Guangju Zhai said the discovery will help researchers gauge how much the steroid is to blame.

"It has been a mystery how DHEAS functions. This new research offers a new insight into how the body controls levels of DHEAS and why it dwindles with age." Previous studies have shown that the steroid reaches a peak around 25 or 30. But as people get older, levels plummet.

By the time people reach 85 years it diminishes by 95 percent. In the latest research, the scientists have established links between declining DHEAS levels and diseases such as type 2 diabetes and lymphoma, as well as a decreased lifespan after analysing DHEAS levels and 2.5 million genetic variants in 14,846 people from Europe and the US.

The results identified eight common genes that controlled the concentration of DHEAS, with some of those genes associated with ageing and age-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes and lymphoma.

Dr Zhai said that while taking it could theoretically slow down the ageing process, it was too early to say for sure how effective it could be. "It is hoped through manipulation or gene therapy we could slow down the ageing process or the affect of age related diseases," he said.

The scientists now plan to spend the rest of the year looking closely at each gene in the hope of discovering more.

"The next stage will be to identify which genes have which function, and which have a particular effect on DHEAS levels. Once this is identified that could be the next stage in coming up with technology to manipulate the genes and maybe even get the body to increase DHEAS levels itself," he said.

Team member Prof Tim Spector added: "For 50 years we have observed the most abundant circulating steroid in the body, DHEAS, with no clue as to its role. Now its genes have shown us its importance in many parts of the ageing process."

The findings have been published in the latest edition of the 'PLoS Genetics' journal.


Mirror – A Horror among Middle Aged Women

A study has revealed that middle-aged women are unhappier with the way they appear in the mirror. The study was conducted by Opinion Matters in January 2011. It was an online study in which around 1,246 women took part.

They study has discovered that over 90% of women aged in their 40s and 50s are unhappy with the way they look. It is believed that these women suffer from dubbed mid-life mirror angst syndrome. It is shocking that only nine per cent women feels proud over their look in the age of 50.

Midlife mirror angst syndrome is caused by the changes wrought by age in body. Moreover, youth-obsessed fashion industry has led to a dramatic drop in body confidence among women when they get older.

The Behavior Psychologist, Susan Quilliam has told that most of the women reach at the peak of their mental, emotional and relationship effectiveness as they attain their mid-age.

Fashion is made for the youth. At the mid-age women’s body become challenging for the fashion, as at this particular stage of their life they body doesn’t look appealing in fashionable cloths. The incapability to wear modish cloths makes women unhappier at their mid-age. The study has also revealed that middle-aged women are four times unhappier than teenage girls because of their looks.

2G Scam: CBI says senior executives could abscond

New Delhi:  The CBI today sought "detention" of five corporate executives chargesheeted by it for their alleged role in the 2G scam, saying that they might "abscond" and impede the trial.

Opposing their bail pleas, the CBI, in its reply to the court of Additional Session Judge O P Saini, said that some of the key witnesses, belonging to the corporate world, directly worked under them and the possibility of the accused winning them over could not be ruled out.

"The accused are holding high positions and now that the names of witnesses are disclosed, some of whom are directly working under (them) or are amenable to their directions, possibility of winning over and/or influencing the witnesses is clearly present," the CBI said.

"Considering the matter on record, complicity of present accused in the crime is clearly made out. The act complained of and offences alleged are far serious having made deep inroads in public interest and financial affairs of the state," the CBI said.

The top corporate leaders are Swan Telecom Director Vinod Goenka, Unitech Wireless (Tamil Nadu) Ltd Managing Director Sanjay Chandra, and three top officials of Reliance ADA Group Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair who have been named as accused by the CBI in its first charge sheet running into 80,000 pages.

The replies, settled by Special Public Prosecutor U U Lalit, appointed by the Supreme Court to assist the special court to try the 2G scam accused exclusively, said there was every likelihood that the accused "will abscond" in order to avoid smooth trial.

Judge Saini, who has been directed by apex court to hold day-to-day trial in the case, had earlier allowed Lalit to file written replies to the bail applications of the corporate executives who were not arrested during the investigation by the CBI.

The court would hear the remaining arguments on the bail applications at 2 pm today.

March inflation jumps to 8.98%

High prices of vegetables and manufactured items drove the headline inflation in March to 8.98 per cent, way above the RBI’s expectation of 8 per cent.

The overall inflation measured on the basis of Wholesale Price Index (WPI) was 8.31 per cent in February.

The rise in overall inflation for the second month in a row may prompt the central bank to go for another round of policy rate hikes in its policy review meeting, scheduled for May 3.

As per the official data released today, the high inflation was on account of rising prices of manufactured items, milk, vegetables and fruits. In addition, high fuel costs due to spiralling international crude oil prices also contributed to the phenomenon.

Besides, food inflation, which accounts for nearly 15 per cent of overall WPI inflation, stood at 8.28 per cent for the week ended April 2.

Prices of primary articles — food, non-food articles and minerals — shot up by 12.96 per cent on an annual basis, according to the official data released today.

Food articles grew expensive by 9.47 per cent, cereals 3.96 per cent and rice and wheat by 2.69 per cent and 0.75 per cent, respectively.

However, the speed at which pulses price rose eased to 4.17 per cent on an annual basis.

During the month, fuel and power prices went up by 12.92 per cent, driven mainly by a 23.14 per cent rise in petrol prices and a 14.99 per cent jump in cooking gas (LPG) rates.

At the same time, the manufactured goods group index rose 6.21 per cent on an annual basis. Manufactured items have the highest weight of 64.9 per cent in the WPI.

The WPI inflation for January was revised upwards to 9.35 per cent from the provisional estimates of 8.23 per cent.

Infy nos no more yardstick for sector, TCS may outperform

Infosys Technologies once used to be a benchmark for the I-T sector, but not any more, say analysts

The technology bellwethers fourth quarter earnings and rupee revenue guidance for 2011-12 (April-March) came in well below street expectations, but analysts say the poor performance is not likely to be a trend across the sector now.

"Infosys is no more a benchmark for the I-T sector. This (Infosys earnings) doesn’t signify that the sector as a whole is likely to underperform," ICICI Securities analyst Abhishek Shindadkar told

Hardik Shah of KR Choksey Shares agreed. He said TCS might outperform Infosys, and even Cognizant Technology Solutions is likely to report better earnings.

Shah told the disappointing results could be a blip for Infosys and not necessarily a trend for the industry.

"Infosys results, guidance will kind of come and go but it will not have as damaging effect on the IT sector and on the markets as a whole as it use to have earlier," Dipan Mehta, member BSE, NSE told CNBC-TV18.

Infosys reported a net profit of Rs 1,818 crore up 17.1% year-on-year, while revenue was up 22% on year to Rs 7,250 crore in the fourth quarter. Analysts had expected the company’s net profit at Rs 1,856 crore on revenue of Rs 7,447 crore for the fourth quarter, according to a CNBC-TV18 poll.

Infosys has guided for an earnings per share of Rs 126.05-128.21 for 2011-12, while many analysts had projected an EPS of close to Rs 145-150.

Infosys has had a tradition of giving a conservative guidance. Since 2002, except in 2008, every year the company’s revenue and earnings per share growth has been higher than it had forecast.

But now analysts say they are likely to lower their 2011-12 (April-March) earnings expectations for Infosys Technologies since the guidance is way below what they were expecting.

"A downgrade is most likely to happen. An EPS of Rs 150 is out of the way now. We will be surprised if Infosys even manages Rs 140 a share," said Shindadkar of ICICI Securities.

The brokerage had forecast an EPS of Rs 135-137 a share, which in itself was conservative to the street consensus of Rs 150 a share. Shindadkar said the brokerage would now have to downgrade their forecast closer to what the company is expecting.

KR Chosey’s Shah also said their might be some downgrade in estimates for Infosys Technologies. But a decision is only likely to be taken post further analysis and conference call with the company.

ICICI Securities and KR Choksey have a “hold” rating on the stock. ICICI Securities has a target price of Rs 3,350 on Infosys share.

At 13:40 hrs, Infosys shares were down 8.7% to Rs 3,018.45 on National Stock Exchange.

Kidnapped Italian activist found dead in Gaza

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The body of an Italian activist was found hanged in a Gaza apartment just hours after he was abducted by an al-Qaida-inspired group, Hamas said early Friday, in the first kidnapping of a foreigner since the militant Hamas overran the coastal strip nearly four years ago.

Hamas officials said police stormed an apartment in Gaza City where Vittorio Arrigoni, 36, was being held by members of a small Islamic group that had kidnapped him on Thursday. Arrigoni was dead and the apartment was otherwise empty, the officials said.

In Rome, the Italian Foreign Ministry said the killing was a "barbaric murder" and a "vile and irrational gesture of violence on the part of extremists indifferent to the value of a human life."

The Islamic group, calling itself Monotheism and Holy War, had released a video on Thursday showing the kidnapped activist blindfolded and with cuts on his face, held in front of the camera by a fist gripping his hair. The group demanded that Hamas free its leader and two other jailed members and said it would execute the captive if the demand was not met.

Despite the video, the group released a statement on Friday denying it was responsible for Arrigoni's death.

The abduction highlighted challenges that Hamas -- an Iran-backed group with a militant Islamist ideology, considered a terrorist organization by the U.S., the European Union and Israel -- has faced from smaller Islamic factions in Gaza who see Hamas as too pragmatic and lenient. Some of these, including the one apparently behind Arrigoni's abduction, are inspired by al-Qaida and the world jihad movement.

Arrigoni came to Gaza as a pro-Palestinian activist in 2008. According to a press release from his organization, the International Solidarity Movement, he had been "monitoring human rights violations by Israel, supporting the Palestinian popular resistance against the Israeli occupation and disseminating information about the situation in Gaza to his home country of Italy."

Kidnappings of foreigners in Gaza took place with some regularity before Hamas took control of the territory in 2007. All were eventually released unharmed. There had been no abductions since Hamas took power.

One of the leaders of the International Solidarity Movement, Huweida Arraf, condemned Arrigoni's "senseless killing."

"Vittorio was really loved in Gaza," she said. I didn't think there was even a 1 per cent chance they would kill him. It was a complete shock." The ISM has no immediate plans to pull its volunteers out of Gaza, she said.

Hamas said two people were arrested in another location in connection with the killing, and a third was being sought.

In a statement, the Hamas Interior Ministry said Arrigoni's captors killed him shortly after he was abducted midday Thursday. Salama Marouf, a Hamas government spokesman, said the killing was an act "against the humanity and against the custom and tradition of the Palestinian people."

Later Friday, Hamas held a rally to honour Arrigoni. About 2,000 people attended.

A Hamas leader, Mahmoud Zahar, said Arrigoni and other foreign activists were "our friends" and promised that the perpetrators would be punished. He also indirectly accused Israel of engineering the killing to intimidate foreign activists seeking to sail to Gaza to protest a naval blockade imposed on the territory.

"Such an awful crime cannot take place without arrangements between all the parties concerned to keep the blockade imposed on Gaza," Zahar said.

Al-Qaida-inspired groups like the one that appeared to be behind Arrigoni's killing have clashed with Hamas in the past. The Brussels-based International Crisis Group said in a report last month that the groups follow a "strict interpretation of Islamic law and see themselves not as liberators of Palestine but as part of a global movement of armed fighters defending Muslims against non-Muslim enemies."

Hamas' relations with the jihadi groups, according to the same report, have "shifted from co-operation to antagonism."

Hamas' rivals from the Western-backed Palestinian government in the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority, condemned the killing. Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, called Arrigoni's death a "despicable and ugly crime."

Journalists were not allowed to see the body in the morgue and could not independently confirm the cause of death given by Hamas. An Italian doctor was on his way from Israel to examine the body, a Hamas official said.

Arrigoni was a well-known figure in Gaza, frequently clenching a pipe between his teeth and wearing a beret emblazoned with a likeness of Che Guevara, as well as bracelets in the red, black, green and white colours of the Palestinian flag.

He was an outspoken critic of Israel, but in an interview with The Associated Press in 2008 he also criticized Muslim extremists for trying to impose a hardline version of Islam in Gaza. He said he hoped the presence of Western volunteers like him would help liberalize Gazan society.

Egidia Beretta, Arrigoni's mother who is the mayor of Bulciago, a small town in northern Italy, spoke to Italian television Sky 24 about her son's humility.

"He never hung out with the powerful, he never went to the 'palaces,' if that's what you can call those (headquarters) of Hamas," Beretta said. "He had two rooms in this apartment house that overlooked the port."

Arrigoni's organization, the International Solidarity Movement, operates in the West Bank and Gaza. Its volunteers protest against Israel and interfere with the operations of the Israeli military.

In 2003, an American ISM activist, Rachel Corrie, was crushed by an Israeli military bulldozer in a combat zone in southern Gaza while trying to block its path. A British activist with the group was fatally shot by an Israeli soldier in the same area that year. A third ISM activist, a Palestinian, was shot and killed by Palestinian militants in the West Bank town of Jenin in 2007.

Gaza militants still hold captive an Israeli soldier, Sgt. Gilad Schalit, who was abducted in a cross-border raid in 2006.

Hamas is demanding the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, including many convicted of murdering Israeli civilians, in exchange for Schalit. Hamas have banned the Red Cross from seeing Schalit and little is known about his condition.

Yemen military factions in deadly clash

Gunmen loyal to the government attacked the forces of the Yemeni president's chief rival early Wednesday, killing one person and raising fears that popular unrest could evolve into pitched battles between military factions.

State media described the attack as a case of the government's rapid response forces quelling a "provocative action" by Maj.-Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, the commander of the 1st Armoured Division.

"The leader of the 1st Armoured Division is responsible for any attempts that could cause security tensions," the government statement said, raising the level of rhetoric between the two longtime rivals.

Yemen's military split on March 17, when President Ali Abdullah Saleh's chief competitor for power, al-Ahmar, abruptly declared his solidarity with the protesters who have been demonstrating for weeks calling for the president's ouster.

The move presented the unsettling possibility of two well-equipped militaries stationed in the capital battling it out. Until the incident early Wednesday, however, there had been no clashes.

Throughout the day, the capital was tense, with a higher then usual security presence on the streets and bystanders expressing concern the conflict could spiral out of control.

"These clashes threaten the peaceful revolution. It's dangerous. If there's no compromise ... the table could flip over everybody," said Abdul-Rahman al-Rashed, a professor at Dhimar University in Sanaa and a political expert.

"It would be the last step of the regime. The ordinary forces won't obey orders," he predicted, if the president were to pursue a battle within the army.
Protesters in deadly clash with security forces

Yemen has been wracked by protests since mid-February over the country's lack of freedoms and its extreme poverty. More than 120 people have been killed since the uprising began on Feb. 11, inspired by popular revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt.

In the southern capital of Aden, security forces clashed on Wednesday with thousands of protesters who hurled rocks and burned tires, killing at least one person.

The army and anti-riot police, backed with tanks and artillery, fired live ammunition and tear gas in the port city, according to eyewitnesses. Medical officials said one person was killed and seven wounded.

Tens of thousands also demonstrated in the capital Sanaa in some of the biggest demonstrations to date for this impoverished nation that is already plagued by dwindling supplies of food, water and oil.

Until recently, U.S. officials have expressed a degree of measured support for Saleh, though that has been ebbing in the face of the overwhelming popular opposition to his continued rule across the country.

Saleh is a close U.S. ally in the fight against al-Qaeda and a local franchise of the organization has taken root in Yemen's lawless hinterlands, plotting several unsuccessful attacks against America.

Late on Tuesday, plainclothes gunmen armed with heavy machine-guns mounted on vehicles attacked the checkpoint north of the capital controlled by al-Ahmar's men.

Local residents said they heard the sound of explosions, gunfire and saw flames shooting into the sky. Military officials say the attackers were members of the Republican Guard and military police loyal to the president. Both residents and officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The checkpoint guards the way to the northern province of Imran, a bastion of support for al-Ahmar and may have been an attempt to stop more anti-government demonstrators from flowing into the city.

If al-Ahmar's forces attempt to extract revenge for the attack, Yemen's popular uprising could turn into a Libyan-style all out war, except with two evenly matched sides armed to the teeth with modern weapons.

Saleh has offered to step down at the end of his term if an acceptable transfer of power is reached, but the opposition fears he is just stalling for time.

The six-nation Gulf Co-operation Council offered its own proposal Sunday to end the unrest and called on Saleh to transfer power to his deputy as part of a deal with the opposition. The deal did not, however, specify a timeframe and included immunity from prosecution for Saleh and his family.

Opposition forces rejected the proposal.

Britain, France Vow to Topple Libyan Leader

PARIS -- British Prime Minister David Cameron pledged Wednesday that Britain and France will leave "no stone unturned" as they look for ways to help Libya's rebels topple Muammar al-Qaddafi.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy hosted Cameron and their defense chiefs amid a public rift with the United States over the NATO-led campaign that has failed to rout Qaddafi's forces after three weeks of airstrikes.

France and Britain -- western Europe's biggest military powers -- have largely spearheaded the campaign, and Cameron said the talks would focus on how they can further help the Libyan opposition.

Arriving for the meeting, Cameron said Britain and France would seek ways to halt Qaddafi's assault against civilians in places like the besieged city of Misrata -- the only city in western Libya still partially held by rebels.

"It is appalling what Qaddafi is doing in Misrata -- he is murdering his own citizens, including children," he said. "The orders come directly from him. But NATO has taken steps, we have destroyed dozens of tanks and other armored vehicles around Misrata."

Earlier, France urged NATO to maintain military pressure on Qaddafi's forces alongside international efforts toward a political solution. France says the alliance is not doing enough to back up the muscular U.N. Security Council resolution aimed to protect Libyan civilians that led to the NATO action.

"Britain and France are at the heart of this coalition, and with President Sarkozy I am going to be sitting down to make sure that we leave no stone unturned in doing everything we can militarily, diplomatically, politically to enforce the UN resolution, to put real pressure on Qaddafi, and to stop the appalling murder of civilians," Cameron said.

Meanwhile, Cameron's office issued a statement saying Britain has decided to supply 1,000 sets of body armor from surplus British military supplies to Libya's opposition -- on top of 100 satellite phones it has already sent.

British and French officials believe Washington's military strength is needed to ensure the Libya mission's success. But the Obama administration insisted Tuesday that the U.S. will stick to its plan to remain in the back seat.

The meeting in Paris came after an international conference in Doha, Qatar including the U.N. secretary-general and other top Western and Arab envoys to discuss ways to end the Libyan crisis.

The statement from Cameron's office said that it welcomed an agreement in Doha to support the opposition Interim National Council in Libya and the creation of a "trust fund" aimed to support the opposition.

Earlier Wednesday, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero insisted that "NATO must not relax military pressure" and its military action should be adapted based on decisions made in Doha.

In Britain, a U.K. military spokesman, Maj. Gen. John Lorimer, told reporters: "From our point of view we recognize the NATO-led operation is delivering real effect." He declined to elaborate on whether NATO was acting quickly or efficiently enough, and deferred to the alliance.

At a Cabinet meeting Wednesday, Sarkozy reiterated the need for the operation to protect civilians "from massacres," said government spokesman Francois Baroin.

"The military strategy for protecting civilians and the diplomatic strategy should advance in parallel," Baroin said.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Wednesday the military intervention in Libya will end with Qaddafi's departure, but he cannot predict how soon that could happen. He said he believes Libya's opposition is "steadily becoming better organized."

"Do not underestimate what is being achieved here," Hague told the BBC from Qatar. "With the airstrikes we have conducted, thousands of lives have been saved."

Sharp exchanges at PAC meet

Sharp exchanges and differences of opinion in the Public Accounts Committee on Friday forced cancellation of Saturday's scheduled meeting at which Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar and Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister T.K.A. Nair were to depose.

Congress and DMK members of the PAC questioned the need for their deposition before the committee since a Joint Parliamentary Committee had been set up to specifically look at allegations related to the 2G spectrum.

The heated exchanges forced CBI Director A.P. Singh to wait outside the meeting venue at Parliament House for several hours before leaving without being called to depose. Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati, who was scheduled to appear in the afternoon, did not turn up as by then the PAC had decided to postpone his deposition. However, Law Secretary D.R. Meena, who also waited for several hours, did appear briefly.

The “office of PAC' had sent out some “questions” to journalists Barkha Dutt and Vir Sanghvi, who figured in the tapped conversations with corporate lobbyist Niira Radia. It seems the two have not yet got back to the PAC.

Some PAC members also found it odd that while editors Vinod Mehta of Outlook and Manu Joseph of Open were questioned by the PAC for publishing the Radia tapes, journalists allegedly used by Ms. Radia to further corporate objectives related to 2G were merely sent questions.

After every previous meeting of the PAC, Chairman Murli Manohar Joshi briefed the press. But not on Friday. The meeting decided there would be no briefing and Mr. Joshi simply walked away.

Earlier, some members had informally pointed out that contrary to the practice of the former PAC chairmen when deliberations were kept confidential till the finalisation of the report, Mr. Joshi had been calling press conferences after every meeting.

It was decided to hold the next PAC meeting on April 21. But, no one will depose that day as it is an “internal meeting” to sort out differences and arrive at some agreement on when and how to begin finalising the report.

It will also take a decision on calling more witnesses, including the Cabinet Secretary and the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister. It is said that Mr. Joshi is keen on finalising the report before April 30 when the term of the current PAC comes to an end, although on record he has stated that the PAC is an institution and its work is continuous, no matter members come and go.

Those opposed to calling more witnesses argued that the subject was now sub judice as a criminal inquiry was on and that the JPC was mandated to look at policy and related issues. They wanted to wind up proceedings and speed up with the report.

Those in favour of calling more witnesses pointed out that Ketan Parekh and Harshad Mehta, both accused (later convicted) in the stock market scam cases, had appeared before JPCs. But, oddly, Opposition MPs did not seem to favour calling the former Communications Minister, D. Raja, pointing out that since he was in jail, the procedure to summon him would be very lengthy.

Congress charge

The Congress MPs felt they were not being given a chance to ask any relevant questions and the Chairman was not interested in calling the prime accused and instead wanted more publicity and had hence trained his guns on the PMO.

The arguments became so heated that the chairman reportedly settled the matter by asking for a vote. Ruling coalition MPs of the Congress and the DMK were outnumbered.

After this Mr. Meena was called and briefly asked a few questions, reportedly relating to the Law Ministry being allegedly bypassed by the Communications Ministry (under Mr. Raja).

No wrong in Somnath invite: Yechury

Calcutta : CPM leader Sitaram Yechury today said he found “nothing wrong” in housing minister Gautam Deb’s invitation to expelled party leader Somnath Chatterjee to speak at a rally in Dum Dum on April 24.

“What’s wrong with Somnathda campaigning for our candidate? We are appealing to voters to support us. Similarly, he was requested to be a speaker at one of our election meetings. There’s nothing to raise a hue and cry about,’’ the politburo member said at a news conference in Alimuddin Street today.

Asked if the party was thinking of taking back Chatterjee, Yechury said: “Anybody who is ideologically not different from us can be asked to campaign for our party. But the question of taking him back is a different issue. That is not on the agenda now’’.

Yesterday, Deb, the CPM candidate from Dum Dum, had announced that he had requested the former Lok Sabha Speaker to address a rally in his constituency.

Yechury hit out at Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee for alleging that the CPM was in cahoots with the BJP. “She was with the NDA once. After that, she left the NDA and went into an alliance with the Congress. Later, she snapped her ties with the Congress and rejoined the NDA. Now she is with the Congress. After all this flip-flop, she is talking about a CPM-BJP nexus. That’s not only baseless but strange,’’ Yechury said.

Supreme Court grants bail to Binayak Sen

The Supreme Court on Friday granted bail to Dr Binayak Sen, who has been convicted for sedition and sentenced to life by a Raipur court in Chhattisgarh. A bench comprising Justices HS Bedi and CK Prasad passed the order on the petition moved by Sen challenging the order of Chhattisgarh High Court denying him bail.

The apex court said it was giving no reason for granting bail to 61-year-old Sen and left it to the satisfaction of the trial court concerned to impose the conditions for his release on bail.

While granting bail to Sen, the court observed that even if he is a Naxal sympathiser, it does not makes him guilty of sedition.

"We are a democratic country. If Gandhian literature is found on some one, it doesn't make him a Gandhian. He may be a Naxal sympathiser but that doesn't make him guilty of sedition," said the court. The court also observed that possession of Naxal literature is not a proof of sedition.

"He is a sympathiser. Nothing beyond that," the bench further said.

Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Sen, submitted in his affidavit that the state has been unable to point out misconduct on his part.

The bench also said that all the statements made by the state has no relevance.

It said other documents and evidences produced by the state government including that he met co-accused Piyush Guha 30 times in a jail and pamphlets and documents relating to Naxal activities were recovered from his possession did not mean that he was involved in seditious activities.

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