Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Google Invites Users to Update US Maps

Google Inc. doesn't hesitate to seek directions when it comes to trying to improve its online mapping service.

That's why Google is asking its users to add more details to its U.S. maps. The suggested revisions can be made beginning Tuesday through an editing tool that already has been used to create and refine maps in 183 other countries since 2005.

Google, which is based in Mountain View, didn't rush to introduce the map-making service in the U.S. because it already had good data in its home country. It decided instead to concentrate on filling in the gaps in other parts of the world where digital maps were far more primitive or completely unavailable.

As comprehensive as Google's U.S maps are, the Internet search leader believes they can get a lot better with the help of citizen cartographers.

Google is hoping people will be willing to volunteer to designate where their favorite neighborhood hangouts are or perhaps label all the buildings on the campus of their alma mater or a nearby university. Other local knowledge conceivably could be used to plot which streets have bike lanes or the locations of community parks.

All proposed changes submitted through http://mapmaker.google.com will be reviewed for mistakes before they appear in Google's mapping service. Google will rely on volunteer moderators in addition to using its computer to track the trustworthiness of the users who log into the mapmaking service.

Calling upon the collective knowledge of users with expertise in particular topics is similar to the approach used to create Wikipedia, the Internet's leading online encyclopedia. Although Wikipedia has published some embarrassing mistakes during its 10-year history, it has proven reliable enough to become one of the Internet's most frequented destinations.

Google says it also has found citizen cartographers to be diligent and accurate in the other countries where the map-editing tools already have been available.

The quest to make Google's maps more revealing has gotten the company into trouble previously.

The biggest backlash has been directed at a "Street View" feature that provides photographic images of many cities in the online maps. Street View initially provoked privacy complaints because Google published photos that included people in public places or activities that they didn't want to be posted online.

Last year, Google revealed that the cars also had been equipped with software that vacuumed up personal e-mail and other data from users on unprotected wireless networks in neighborhoods where the company's picture-taking cars had been cruising. Google says it didn't discover the cars had the snooping software until it responded to a regulatory inquiry.

RIM launches PlayBook, fans don't play along

At an Office Depot (ODP.N) in Midtown New York, just three PlayBooks left the shelves in the 20 minutes after the store opened, while not a soul stirred outside a nearby Staples (SPLS.O).

"It's going to be a tough sell to the consumer," BGC Partner analyst Colin Gillis said of the PlayBook, a sleek but flawed gadget that doesn't yet offer the secure email that is the trademark of RIM's ubiquitous BlackBerry.

"It's going to be right next to an iPad at the same price point. The iPad is going to look much bigger, it has an entire ecosystem around it."

The PlayBook launch was a stark contrast to the frenzy when Apple (AAPL.O) launched its iPad 2 a month ago and consumers lined up overnight for a first glimpse of the gadget.

The stakes could not be higher for Canada's RIM, whose security-focused BlackBerry once reigned supreme in financial, corporate and government circles.

The company has struggled to compete since Apple's iPhone and a slew of devices running Google's (GOOG.O) Android entered the smartphone fray, stealing precious market share.

RIM shares were down 2 percent at $53.88 on the Nasdaq.


Early reviews have panned the WiFi-only PlayBook for lacking email and organizer applications -- the gadget needs a BlackBerry to access those -- and key carrier AT&T (T.N) said it will not support the BlackBerry Bridge function that lets the PlayBook mirror a BlackBerry smartphone.

AT&T is the second largest carrier in the United States, and the absence of the BlackBerry Bridge could be a major headache for RIM.

But retailers say solid pre-orders suggest there will be pent-up demand for a capable alternative to the iPad.

"Based on those numbers coming in, we expect it to be successful," said Steve Coffin, operations manager at a Future Shop big box store near Toronto's financial district.

"When you know you've got a guaranteed copy, people are coming in on their way to work. We expect to have people coming in on their lunch hour."

Some 20,000 stores across the United States and Canada were to stock the PlayBook from the launch, and the tablet -- priced to match the iPad -- will also be sold directly to businesses.

Apple files suit against Samsung

Apple Inc. has sued Samsung Electronics Co., saying the South Korean company’s Galaxy line of smartphones and tablet computers copy Apple’s popular iPad and iPhone.

In a lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court, Apple alleges the product design, user interface and packaging of the Galaxy products “slavishly copy” Apple.

Cupertino, California—based Apple is seeking an order barring Samsung from infringing on a variety of its patents and trademarks, as well as unspecified damages.

A Samsung spokesman says the company’s products are the result of its own research and development. He says Samsung plans to defend itself against Apple’s lawsuit.

Simple blood test can now predict premature birth risk

Until now, there was no way to predict a woman’s chance of giving birth prematurely. A simple blood test taken during the second trimester of a pregnancy can now spot whether a baby will arrive early, 80 per cent of the time, according to researchers from Brigham Young University.

“What’s been missing is a way of assessing risk,” said Steven Graves, who directs the chemistry portion of the research at Brigham Young University. “Our approach has been to look at the naturally occurring molecules that are present in women’s blood to see if we can identify the peptides and small proteins that are at quantitatively different levels in women who go on to have these complications.”

Graves and Sean Esplin at the University of Utah began their search for molecular clues to pregnancy complications in 2002 and now have something to show for it. The paper introduces three new peptide biomarkers that, in combination with a few other proteins, can signal high risk of pre-term birth. And it’s done by looking at just a drop of blood from a mother who is 24 weeks into a pregnancy. In this study, the researchers tested their method on blood samples from 80 women that went full-term and 80 women whose babies came prematurely.

Knowing she is at high risk for pre-term birth is a big advantage for the mother when it comes to decisions about travel and activity level. Esplin also notes that a new hormone treatment can help a baby stay in the womb a little longer.

“With pre-term birth, if we could even prolong a pregnancy by one or two weeks, we could make a very big impact on the number of babies that survive and make sure that those that survive are healthy,” said Esplin. “With just one intervention, we could have a really huge impact.” The method for predicting pre-term birth is patented by BYU and the University of Utah and has been licensed to a company called Sera Prognostics. The company hopes to have a diagnostic test on the market in the first half of 2012.

The study will appear in the May issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and has been posted online by the journal.

Men Make ‘black and White’ Judgements

A recent research has found that though women are more open-minded, they turn out to be the less decisive sex when it comes to taking decisions.

During a study, 100 people were asked to fit 50 objects into matching categories. Women mostly selected the ‘partial’ option whereas men were more decisive in their answers.

For the question whether ‘tomato is a fruit or not’, women came up with a mixed response whereas the replies of men were categorical.

'Biggest breakthrough ever': Scientists hail injection that 'cuts heart attack damage by more than half'

The devastating effects of a heart attack or stroke could be reduced by more than half by a simple injection, a study suggests.

British scientists are developing a treatment they say could reduce scarring in the heart and brain by more than 60 per cent.

The drug has been tested on mice and other mammals - but has also on human blood in a laboratory.

Researchers hope to begin human trials of the drug, developed at Leicester University, within two years.

Its key ingredient is an antibody, which could be administered up to 12 hours of the attack to stop damage to cells.

It helps heart attack victims by preventing the body attacking its own oxygen-starved cells.

Professor Wilhelm Schwaeble, an immunologist who carried out the work, said the findings had the potential to be the ‘biggest breakthrough ever’ in treating victims of the two biggest killers in Britain.

It could also be used to stop the body attacking organ transplants.

‘This is potentially the biggest breakthrough in the treatment of heart attacks and strokes ever,’ Prof Wilhelm told a national newspaper.

‘We could not believe what we saw and nor could the cardiologists. What is amazing is that the drug can be given so long after the attack.

‘Even the slowest ambulance journey in the world is going to get you to hospital within nine hours.’

Strokes and heart attacks are caused by a clot or a bleed which blocking the blood flow, causing other parts of the body to be starved of oxygen.

India’s exports post 37.1 p.c. rise during 2010-11

Braving the slow economic growth and declining demand from the Western markets, India’s exports posted an impressive 37.1 per cent rise at $245.9 billion for the fiscal ending 2010-11. During March 2011, the growth stood at 43.9 per cent at $29.1 billion.

Releasing the figures here, Union Commerce and Industry Minister, Anand Sharma said India’s exports have not only posted a phenomenal growth but have also surpassed the growth target of $220 billion set for 2010-11. Exports had suffered in 2009-10 under the impact of global slowdown and the government had to intervene to help the exporters through different packages

``We have received the export figures for this fiscal and it is indeed heartening to see that our exports for the year ending March 2011 touched $245.9 billion registering a growth of 37.5 per cent. For the first time the figures have reached the $200 billion mark which was a target set for last financial year and exports have indeed exceeded our expectations. Imports for the same period stood at $350.3 billion and the good news is that the trade deficit figure has come down to $10.4.4 billion,’’ Mr. Sharma told newspersons here.

Mr. Sharma said engineering goods by far constituted the largest component of the exports entailing considerable domestic value addition and engineering exports crossed $60 billion registering a growth of 84.76 per cent. Petroleum products export stood in the range of $42.45 billion registering a growth of 50.58 per cent. Gems and Jewellery sector which is a considerable employer of people saw an export of $33.54 billion showing a growth of 15.34 per cent. Drugs and

pharmaceuticals sectors for which India has gained a considerable global reputation saw total exports of $10.32 billion showing a growth of 15.08 per cent.

In the readymade garments exports crossed $11.1 billion showing a growth of 4.23 per cent. Cotton yarn 34 fabrics saw an export of $5.66 billion registering a growth of 42.87 per cent. Exports of carpet, jute and leather which are the labour intensive sectors assured considerable dynamism in growth. Agricultural exports and allied sectors including tea, coffee, tobacco, spices, cashew, oil meals, fruit and vegetables and marine products crossed the $12.92 billion. Iron ore exports have actually gone down by 25 per cent at $4.5 billion.

Mr. Sharma expressed the hope that based on the performance of exports, he was confident that the Government will be able to achieve the target of exports of $450 billion, a target set in the draft strategy paper which was released by the Department of Commerce.

He said the final strategy paper for doubling India’s exports to reach $450 billion will be uploaded on the department site very soon.

Vedanta edges in on Cairn India

The Indian mining group has been trying to buy a controlling stake in Cairn India, which is listed in Mumbai, from London-listed Cairn Energy and smaller shareholders since last summer. However, the deal has been held up by Indian authorities.

Vedanta’s move to buy 10pc of Cairn India from Petronas will cement its majority stake in the company if its delayed deal with Cairn Energy goes through.

In a complex transaction, Vedanta is hoping to buy a controlling stake for up to $9.7bn, partly from Cairn Energy and partly from smaller shareholders through an open offer.

Cairn Energy, which owns a 62pc stake in Cairn India, wants to sell between 40pc and 51pc of the company, whose prime assets are oil fields in the desert region of Rajasthan. It will therefore seek to retain between 11pc and 22pc.

However, Indian regulators and the government are still deciding whether to allow it following a dispute about royalties with the state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation

Nifty closes flat amid volatility; Hero Honda top loser

Indian equity benchmarks saw consolidation on Tuesday after a sharp fall seen in previous two sessions. Indices could be waiting for some trigger for moving on either direction during the earnings season.

After the Infosys (which disappointed the street by forecasting less-than expected EPS guidance for FY12), investors as well as traders are eyeing quarterly numbers of heavyweights like TCS and RIL, which will be on Thursday, April 21.

Indices touched important psychological levels during the session - the Nifty touched the 5,700 level and Sensex hit the 19,000 mark. The 50-share NSE Nifty was completely in a tight range of 5700-5750, before closing at 5,740.75, up 11.65 points or 0.20%.

Parul J Saini executive director at RBS Asia Securities feels it is time to be cautious. "Fund flows have started slowing down nor are the fundamentals too strong here. Moreover, the inflation trajectory is not very encouraging. It could stay above 8% till September 2011 and for the full-year it may come in around 7%," he says.

Saini says he expects the Sensex to go back to 17,500 in near-term and the Nifty may remain in the range of 5,000-6,000 this year.

According to Hemen Kapadia of chartpundit.com, as long as the Nifty futures remain above 5699 which is a technically important support level, things are okay. The Nifty April futures ended with 19 points premium at 5,760.

The 30-share BSE Sensex has seen a swing of more than 200 points in trade today, before ending the session at 19,121.83, with gain of 30.66 points.

Now it looks confusing, says Raamdeo Agrawal, Director & Co Founder, Motilal Oswal Financial Services, with high inflation, high oil price, so much happening in Delhi, elections are underway and then earnings now. "Infosys has confused somewhat in the billing but I hope our analysts expectations that the earnings growth will broadly be 20-22% across the board. If that comes out probably it will help stabilize the market much more," he said.

European markets too were supportive in late trade - France's CAC, Germany's DAX and Britain's FTSE were trading 0.5% higher, at the time of closing of Indian equities. However, Asian markets closed lower on the back of weak US cues after S&P put negative outlook on US debt, with falling 0.6-2%. Indian markets had fallen quite sharply in previous two sessions, so they remain quiet today.

Private financial, oil & gas, telecom, Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group and select technology companies' shares helped the Nifty to close in the green. HDFC Bank, TCS and L&T gained more than 1.5%.

Bharti Airtel jumped over 2%. Wipro, ICICI Bank, ONGC and SAIL gained 0.5-1%. Heavyweight Reliance Industries too ended with moderate gains.

However, Hero Honda was the top loser on Nifty, with falling over 5%. BHEL was the leading dragger, with losing 2%. ITC, NTPC, SBI, Infosys, HUL, Grasim, JSPL and Tata Motors were other losers.

In midcap space, Pipavav, BGR Energy, Wockhardt, Shree Global and Indiabulls Financial gained 5-9%. However, Tube Investment, WABCO-TVS, CMC, Alok Industries and Aban Offshore slipped 3-4%.

In smallcap space, Mirc Electronic, Subex, Falcon Tyres, DCB and Fedders Lloyd rallied 9-11% while Hatsun Agro, Hinduja Foundries, BS TransComm, Dion Global and Ontrack Systems lost 5-10%.

About 600 shares advanced as against 690 shares declined on National Stock Exchange.

Ranbir Kapoor miffed with Priyanka

Seems like Ranbir Kapoor is having a tough time dealing with his Casanova image! Ranbir is very upset with his dost Priyanka Chopra who has been poking fun at Ranbir's playful nature and innumerous linkups.

Buzz is that PC's comments have not gone down too well with Ranbir and it migh
t hurt their on screen chemistry in Barfee.

A source told Mid-Day, "Even though, Ranbir and Priyanka aren't paired opposite each other, she plays the second woman in his life. Ranbir is paired opposite debutante Ileana. Apparently, PC was cracking people up at RK and the 'new' girl's expense."

Ranbir, who is on an image cleansing mission after Sonam Kapoor and ex-flame Deepika Padukone poked fun at him on Koffee With Karan, has been allegedly linked to all his co-stars. 

A source told the tabloid, "RK was upset that Priyanka was joking about his string of affairs. Since he hasn't shot with Ileana, he didn't want her to feel uncomfortable. He confronted PC and told her not to promote any loose talk."

Wonder if it's a little too late?

Riya Sen dating Sreesanth?

Riya and Sreesanth came closer to each other while doing a commercial for a jewellery brand.

Riya instead of supporting her team ‘Kolkata Knight Riders’, has been spotted supporting Kochi tuskers Kerala (KTK).

Riya was seen cheering KTK at the DY Patil Stadium, Mumbai, on April 13.

However, the team lost the match but Riya and Sreesanth partied hard with Kochi boys.

This would be the third couple, who is on the verge of settling down after the World Cup tournament.

Earlier, Harbhajan Singh had announced that he would tie the knot with Geeta Basra soon after the tournament is over.

Zaheer Khan and Isha Sharvani too would be exchanging wedding vows.

Preeti Desai's topless picture?

Topless pictures of model-turned-actress Preeti Desai are creating buzz online, but the sexy actress claims the pictures are morphed. Preeti who's all set to make debut with Shor in the City is reportedly dating Abhay Deol.

The newbie maintains the pictures are doctored. "There is a lot of rubbish on the internet. I don't think people are gullible to believe everything they read or see! I'm not going to waste time commenting on silly things like this," she told Mid Day.

The actress prefers to talk about her film instead. "I play Shalmili opposite Sendhil Ramamurthy's character Abhay (Sendhil), who is going through a bad phase after moving back to the city. She shows him the city through her eyes and the city comes alive for him," Preeti informed the tabloid.

Preeti was crowned Miss Great Britain in 2006.

Yemeni Police Kill Three, Wound More Ahead Of Talks

Sanaa  : Three people were shot dead in Yemen today—one a passer-by—as security forces opened fire to disperse protesters calling for the ouster of embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The latest killings came as a Yemeni government delegation was in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi for talks with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) foreign ministers to discuss an exit plan proposed by the oil-rich bloc.

In the Yemeni capital Sanaa, medics said two protesters was shot dead and hundreds more were wounded, mostly by tear gas, when security forces dispersed an anti-Saleh march.

Earlier, police killed one man and wounded several other people when they shot at anti-regime demonstrators in the Wadi al-Qadi district of Taez, the second most-populated city of Yemen, south of Sanaa, according to witnesses.

“We have one dead, identified as Nasser Mohammed Gahtan, and five wounded by live fire, as well as hundreds of people suffering from tear gas inhalation,” said a doctor in Sanaa treating the injured.

Protesters said a large force of riot police swooped on the marchers in Sittin Avenue in the west of the capital.

Gunmen in plain clothes were seen firing in the air and also at protesters.

Witnesses said the demonstrators still managed to break through the police cordon and reach an anti-regime sit-in at Sanaa university.

A pro-regime demonstration also took place in the capital on Tuesday, with Saleh backers chanting their support for the veteran strongman and for “constitutional legitimacy.”

South of Sanaa, police fired “indiscriminately” on protesters in Taez, witnesses said.

Several people suffered gunshot wounds, including passer-by Talaat Abdullah Ghaleb who was fatally wounded after being shot while in his car, witnesses said. He died of his wounds in hospital about two hours later, a medic said.

Organisers of the Taez protest also said that four people, including a newspaper photographer, were arrested.

More than 125 people have been killed in the protests which broke out across the impoverished Arabian Peninsula state in late January.

GCC foreign ministers met on Sunday in Riyadh with a Yemeni opposition delegation seeking details on a plan for Saleh’s departure, and the opposition remains adamant that he must go.

On April 10 the GCC—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—appealed to Saleh to “announce the transfer of his powers to the vice-president,” Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi. (AFP)

UK Royal Wedding To Be Streamed Live On YouTube

London : Palace officials will offer live streaming of the April 29 royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton on the royal channel on YouTube.

The live coverage will include the ceremony at Westminster Abbey, the procession to Buckingham Palace, and the newlyweds' appearance on the palace balcony for an expected first public kiss.

William's press office will also provide a live blog providing commentary and historical information as well as additional footage.

The palace said Tuesday that an official souvenir program will be produced for sale to crowds lining the parade route. It will cost 2 pounds ($3.20).

The program will include Middleton's new coat of arms, which uses an acorn to symbolize strength and continuity. AP

CONI Unveils Casa Italia Plans For London Olympics

Rome : The Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in downtown London will host Italy's popular "Casa Italia" hospitality center during next year's London Olympics.

The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) unveiled its plans on Tuesday, detailing a complex featuring six floors covering more than 6,000 square meters, with catering for 2,100 people at a time.

Located near Westminster Abbey and parliament, visitors will be able to dine with views of Big Ben.

CONI is paying Euro 1.2 million for use of the facility, which will also be used to promote Rome's bid for the 2020 Summer Games.

CONI president Giovanni Petrucci says, "This is the best Casa Italia we've had since its introduction in Los Angeles in 1984. It will be very welcoming and hopefully we'll celebrate many medals there." AP

Bhushans Got Two Farmhouse Plots From Mayawati Govt

New Delhi : In his declaration of assets last week, Shanti Bhushan, also co-chairman of the drafting committee of the Lokpal Bill, mentioned a 10,000 sq m farmland plot in Noida.

What he did not mention was the discretionary manner in which the Mayawati government, early this year, allotted this land to him and another 10,000 sq m farmhouse plot to his lawyer son Jayant Bhushan, reports Indian Express.

And in what raises questions of conflict of interest, Jayant Bhushan has appeared against Mayawati in the Noida statue park case, says the report.

Incidentally, discretionary land allotment by the government is a key issue on the agenda of the Group of Ministers on corruption.

In fact, this allotment of Noida farmland is now the subject matter of a case in the Allahabad High Court filed by another allottee, former Additional Solicitor General Vikas Singh.

Calling for the cancellation of the allotments, he has alleged that he was allotted the “worst” piece of farmland as “punishment” since he had shot off several complaints on the “arbitrary” manner in which the farmland was being allotted.

The cost of each farmhouse plot is Rs 3.5 crore and allottees had to pay just 10% — Rs 35 lakh — at the time of allotment, the rest in 16 instalments. This is less than a quarter of the market rate, according to Vikas Singh’s petition.

Shanti Bhushan told The Indian Express: “My son and I were among the applicants and we were surprised when we got the allotment letters. I agree there is no transparency in the scheme and allotments have been made without any clear criterion. But why should we challenge this? The people who applied and were not given the farmland should challenge it. I have heard that bribes have passed hands for these allotments but, obviously, not from us. There may be a case for a scheme like this to be cancelled.”

Sources told Indian Express that while 64 “successful” applicants were selected by Noida authorities for farmland in Sectors 126, 127, 128, 131 and 133 in the first lot, the Bhushans were among 27 “successful” candidates who appeared for an interview and got plots in a second batch in Sectors 162, 164, 165 and 167.

Under the scheme, called “Open ended scheme for development of farmhouse on agricultural land”, announced by the Noida authorities in January 2009, applicants had to submit a detailed project report on how the farmland would be used, approved by a chartered accountant, and provide a balance sheet of their income of last three years along with cash- flow estimates. They were also asked to appear for an “interview” before members of a screening committee.

When contacted, S C Pabreja, AGM (Institutional) of the Noida Authority told The Indian Express that the “screening committee” included members of the Authority’s Finance, Planning, Legal, Projects, Institutional and Construction Departments.

Once the applicants were cleared by this Committee, they were called for interviews. While Noida authorities had announced they would put up a list of “successful’ allottees on their website, this has not been done.

The manner in which the farmland was allotted has been challenged in court. On April 16, the Allahabad High Court heard a bunch of writ petitions, including that of Vikas Singh.

In his petition, Singh has alleged that the “the Noida Authority is not justified in selling its property at rates way below the market price and that too collecting only 10% of the premium thereof and such action of the Noida Authority in the matter of allotment of plots is clearly arbitrary and unjustified...”

Singh has also alleged that the Noida Authority made the filling of the application forms and the submission of financial papers complicated to “increase the subjectivity of the plot allotment committee in selecting or rejecting the application.”

Another joint petition has been filed by two Delhi-based doctors, Harsh Mahajan and Vinay Sabarwal, who have not been allotted the farmland. They have claimed they were “better placed” than other applicants.

Rane Blames Sena For Instigating People At Jaitapur

Mumbai  : Maharashtra Industry Minister Narayan Rane today blamed the Shiv Sena for instigating people at Jaitapur against the proposed nuclear power plant, which led to a violent protest killing one.

“This was Sena’s attempt to gain political mileage. We have records of meetings taken by local legislators in the villages and a meeting held at Sena Bhavan to call a bandh in Jaitapur after which the people protested,” Rane informed the Legislative Council here.

The opposition Sena-BJP members had moved an adjournment motion to discuss the issue of Jaitapur keeping aside all the business.

The House was adjourned twice as the opposition demanded a discussion on the issue under rule 289.

The third was adjourned for a third time due to the absence of a Cabinet minister.

Chairman of the House Shivajirao Deshmukh allowed the discussion under rule 93.

However, the adjournment motion was refused with the House voting against it.

The motion was rejected as only 14 Sena-BJP members voted in favour of it as against 40 Congress-NCP members who opposed it.

In reply to the discussion, Rane said Sena’s rally on April 9 instigated the local people and the atmosphere became sensitive.

The minister also refuted the charge that police had beaten up people by barging into their homes.

“A similar protest took place before the Enron power plant was set up in Konkan. But the people who opposed the project later turned into contractors,” Rane said.

He also warned the agitators that Konkan may not get new development projects in future if the nuclear power plant is withdrawn.

Stressing on the dire need for power, Home Minister R R Patil said that all the political parties have been protesting against power crunch in the state.

“There is shortage of 4,500 MW power in the state and the opposition should not make it an emotional issue,” Patil said.

Expressing unhappiness over the death of one of the agitators at Jaitapur yesterday, he said the police did not open fire immediately.

“Police were attacked by the mob and had to impose lathi charge but the agitators continued with their violent protest.  Police used tear gas and plastic bullets but the crowd was not controlled,” he said.

“The police then fired 25 rounds of which 21 were fired in air. Three bullets injured people on legs and one person was killed as the bullet hit his stomach,” Patil said adding that the situation in which police opened fire must be considered.

Sena MLC Ramdas Kadam accused the government of trying to suppress the agitation and said it is destroying Konkan region by proposing various projects.

Congress MLC Bhai Jagtap said the incident which killed one was sad but one has to think more about security measures while setting up the project.

PWP MLC Jayant Patil asked why the government went ahead with the project without convincing the locals.

Ridiculing Sena’s efforts to oppose the project, NCP MLC Kiran Pawaskar read out a message from social networking site twitter saying that “Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray has gone to the Kanha national park for a tour after instigating locals at Jaitapur.” PTI

Stamp Out Honour Killings Ruthlessly: Supreme Court

New Delhi : Terming 'khap' panchayat as illegal and honour killing as "barbaric and shameful", the Supreme Court today said these should be stamped out "ruthlessly" and asked states to suspend district magistrates and SPs concerned if they failed to act against the offenders.

A bench of Justice Markandeya Katju and Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra said in a judgment that the new trends of kangaroo courts, honour killings, "khap" panchayaths in northern India and "katta" panchayats in Tamil Nadu were barbaric and illegal, the perpetrators of which required the harshest punishment.

"We have in recent years heard of ‘khap panchayats’ (known as katta panchayats in Tamil Nadu) which often decree or encourage honour killings or other atrocities in an institutionalised way on boys and girls of different castes and religion, who wish to get married or have been married, or interfere with the personal lives of people.

"We are of the opinion that this is wholly illegal and has to be ruthlessly stamped out. There is nothing honourable in honour killing or other atrocities and, in fact, it is nothing but barbaric and shameful murder. Other atrocities in respect of personal lives of people committed by brutal, feudal-minded persons deserve harsh punishment," Justice Katju said writing the judgment.

The apex court asked the administrative and police officers to take strong measures to prevent such atrocious acts.

"If any such incidents happen, apart from instituting criminal proceedings against those responsible for such atrocities, the state government is directed to immediately suspend the district magistrate/collector and SSP/SPs of the district as well as other officials concerned and chargesheet them," the bench said.

The apex court said the government should proceed against such officials departmentally if they do not prevent the incident despite having prior knowledge.

"If they failed to promptly apprehend the culprits and others involved and institute criminal proceedings against them, as in our opinion they will be deemed to be directly or indirectly accountable in this connection.

"Only in this way can we stamp out such acts of barbarism and feudal mentality. Moreover,these acts take the law into their own hands, and amount to kangaroo courts, which are wholly illegal," the bench said.

The apex court said a copy of the judgment shall be sent to all chief secretaries, home secretaries and director generals of police in all states and union territories for circulating the same to the district magistrates and SSPs for compliance. PTI

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