Monday, April 25, 2011

Immersed in a changing flux of molecules

In 2004, a rash of early scientific reports suggested that cell-phones, which produce radio frequency energy, might cause a fatal form of brain cancer called ‘glioma,' reminisces Siddhartha Mukherjee in The Emperor of all Maladies: A biography of cancer ( “Gliomas appeared on the same side of the brain that the phone was predominantly held, further tightening the link. An avalanche of panic ensued in the media…”

Recall bias

The Pulitzer-winning book goes on to inform that an enormous British study was launched in 2004 to confirm these ominous early reports; and ‘cases' (patients with gliomas) were compared to ‘controls' (men and women with no gliomas), in terms of cell-phone usage.

The study, reported in 2006, appeared initially to confirm an increased risk of right-sided brain cancers in men and women who held their phones on their right ear, the author notes. He adds, however, that when researchers evaluated the data meticulously, a puzzling pattern emerged — that right-sided cell-phone use reduced the risk of left-sided brain cancer. The simplest logical explanation for this phenomenon, as Mukherjee mentions, was ‘recall bias,' that is, patients diagnosed with tumours unconsciously exaggerated the use of cell-phones on the same side of their head, and selectively forgot the use on the other side.

When the researchers corrected for this bias, there was no detectable association between gliomas and cell-phone use overall, reads an apparently reassuring message in the book. “Prevention experts, and phone-addicted teenagers, may have rejoiced — but only briefly. By the time the study was completed, new phones had entered the market and swapped out old phones — making even the negative results questionable.”

New carcinogens

In the author's view, the cell-phone case is a sobering reminder of the methodological rigour needed to evaluate new carcinogens. While it is easy to fan anxiety about cancer, he reminds that identifying a true preventable carcinogen, estimating the magnitude of risk at reasonable doses and at reasonable exposures, and reducing exposure through scientific and legislative intervention is far more complex.

The landscape of carcinogens is not static, instructs Mukherjee. “We are chemical apes: having discovered the capacity to extract, purify, and react molecules to produce new and wondrous molecules, we have begun to spin a new chemical universe around ourselves.” As a result, he observes that our bodies, our cells, our genes are being immersed and reimmersed in a changing flux of molecules, in the form of pesticides, pharmaceutical drugs, plastics, cosmetics, estrogens, food products, hormones, and even radiation and magnetism.

“Some of these, inevitably, will be carcinogenic. We cannot wish this world away; our task, then, is to sift through it vigilantly to discriminate bona fide carcinogens from innocent and useful bystanders,” advises Mukherjee, therefore.

A book that you may find yourself grabbing like a crab.

Reliability in a cloud

The introductory chapter of Google Apps Deciphered: Compute in the cloud to streamline your desktop by Scott Granneman ( opens not with Google but with Microsoft Office, describing it as the undisputed 800-pound gorilla in the office suite jungle, with millions of users and billions of dollars in sales. “However, as we saw in King Kong, even the mightiest gorilla can be hurt by enough buzzing planes. If one of those planes is actually a mighty jet named Google, then good ol' Kong may be facing more trouble than he's anticipated,” adds Granneman.

Stating that every person who starts using Google Apps is potentially one less customer for Microsoft, he foresees a long-term loss of market share for the latter. “Microsoft has finally woken up to the fact that software and services are inexorably moving to the Net, and it has responded with its own attempts in this area, called Microsoft Online Services.”

Yet, in Microsoft's involvement, what the author sees is the continued practice of the ‘software plus services' model, where online tools still require the use of software running on a PC to work. “This protects Microsoft's cash cows, Windows and Office, first and foremost, while allowing the company to trumpet its participation in moving online as well.”

Network is the computer

A section on ‘cloud' traces how the idea — spoken of decades ago by Sun co-founder John Gage when he proclaimed that ‘the network is the computer' — has finally reached a period of reality and even hyper-growth thanks to the spread of reliable high-speed Internet access coupled with the virtually limitless supplies of computer storage and processing power. As it gets cheaper and cheaper for companies such as Google and Amazon to build out massive server farms and then connect those mind-bogglingly powerful resources to users across the world via the Net, new and exciting technologies become possible, the author notes.

Taking up the question of reliability, which is often posed by users in the context of cloud, Granneman concedes that even the mighty Google has stumbled, as in July 2008, for example, when Google Docs was unavailable to many users for an hour or so. His defence, though, is that virtually all companies have suffered downtimes, ranging from eBay to Amazon to Royal Bank of Canada to AT&T. “This is simply a fact of life. Downtimes will happen. Humans can attempt to plan for every eventuality, but mistakes, errors, and even natural events beyond our control intrude and cause problems.”

Illusion of control

An interesting psychological fact highlighted in the book is the ‘illusion of control' commonly exhibited by humans. “For instance, we are far more likely to die in a car than on a plane, but people are often psychologically more comfortable driving in their cars than riding on planes due to the fact that drivers feel in control of the situation, while passengers may not.”

Likewise, many people feel safer running their own servers instead of outsourcing to Google because they want that feeling of control over their machines and their data, the author observes.

“However, Google now offers a service level agreement (SLA) for the Premier Edition of Google Apps that guarantees 99.9 per cent uptime for Gmail (that means about 9 hours of downtime a year)…”

Wockhardt Gets FDA Approval for Marketing Generic Aricept

Mumbai based pharmaceutical company, Wockhardt has revealed that it has got a tentative approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to market its generic copy of Aricept tablets used in treatment of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Wockhardt said that it expects to launch the Donepezil HCl tablets by May 8 this year and added that the approval has been given for 5 mg and 10 mg versions of the tablet.

The company is confident of getting a substantial slice of the $2.5 billion market that the drug commands in the US.

“We are continuing to get a steady stream of FDA approval and are able to launch them on the date the generic market opportunity opens”, the company chairman, Mr Habil Khorakiwala said.

Surge in Number of Cesareans in Cherthala Hospital Arouses Suspicion

There have been complaints about the increase in the number of cesarean deliveries in the Taluk Hospital in Alappuzha district just before the Easter break, allegedly planned by doctors so that they can enjoy the Easter holidays without interruption.

Initial round of investigations have confirmed this unusually high number of deliveries.

Read more: Surge in Number of Cesareans in Cherthala Hospital Arouses Suspicion

The report says that the Taluk hospital in Cherthala conducted 21 cesarean deliveries on April 18 and 19th. . Even women with due dates a week later were forced to undergo deliveries earlier before the commencement of the Easter break.

Further investigation into these allegations is needed to ascertain if the increase in number of deliveries is linked to the Easter break.

A suo moto case has been registered and a report on this matter will have to be sent to State Human Rights Commission.

Read more: Surge in Number of Cesareans in Cherthala Hospital Arouses Suspicion

BlackBerry Touch Could Make Waves Soon

RIM seems to have some ruthless plans for the smartphone market this year. RIM Co-CEO Jim Balsillie recently told investors that the company is currently undergoing an enormous transition that will reach the surface in the coming months. The BGR has the scoop on RIM's next flagship smartphone, the BlackBerry Touch high-end smartphone sporting a 3.7-inch WVGA capacitive touchscreen.

The BlackBerry Touch will be powered by BlackBerry 6.1, a software upgrade RIM says will include a range of new APIs for developers to take apps to a new level for BlackBerry phones. The apps will run on BlackBerry 6.1 for smartphones and BlackBerry Tablet OS for the BlackBerry PlayBook. BlackBerry 6.1 will also include Mobile HotSpot functionality for road warriors.

According to the BGR, a new BlackBerry ID has received an integral part of the BlackBerry 6.1 experience, an ID the blog believes will be used to let users interact seamlessly with an expanding BlackBerry ecosystem. Microsoft is known to be working on something similar with Windows 8, and Apple will likely push its own iTunes ID further later this year.

Specs leaked earlier this year suggested that the BlackBerry Touch (codenamed Monaco / Monza) will receive a 1.2GHz processor, GPU for 3D graphics and video hardware acceleration, OpenGL ES 2.0 support for 3D graphics, and 3G Mobile HotSpot functionality.

Additional specs for the Touch is said to include a 3.7-inch WVGA capacitive touchscreen, 5-megapixel camera with 720p HD video recording, 8GB internal memory, 512MB RAM, microSD slot, magnetometer, proximity sensor, accelerometer, optical trackpad, Stereo Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Wireless-N connectivity.

According to the BGR, the BlackBerry Touch is expected to be officially unveiled during BlackBerry World in May, and could actually be released as soon as this summer. The upcoming BlackBerry Bold Touch, BlackBerry Curve Touch and BlackBerry Torch 2 could also be unveiled during BlackBerry World.

Resourcesat-2 to beam pictures from Thursday

Chennai: India's latest advanced remote sensing satellite Resourcesat-2, launched last week, is all set to beam back pictures Thursday onwards, the Indian space agency said.

A statement issued by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Monday said the three cameras of Resourcesat-2 have been oriented towards Earth and all checks prior to their switching on have been completed.

ISRO said the first imaging is expected to cover about 3,000 km stretch of Indian landmass from Joshimath in Uttarakhand to Kannur in Kerala.

On April 20, an Indian rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C16) launched three satellites -- the 1,206 kg Resourcesat-2, the 92 kg Youthsat for stellar and atmospheric studies, and a 106 kg mini satellite X-SAT for imaging applications -- from the Sriharikota spaceport in Andhra Pradesh.

Remote sensing satellites send back pictures and other data for use. India has the largest constellation of remote sensing satellites in the world, providing imagery in a variety of spatial resolutions, from more than a metre ranging up to 500 metres, and is a major player in vending such data in the global market.

The data is used for several applications covering agriculture, water resources, urban development, mineral prospecting, environment, forestry, drought and flood forecasting, ocean resources and disaster management.

According to ISRO, the precise launch of Resourcesat-2 has saved around 20 kg of onboard fuel, enhancing its life span. At the time of the launch, the satellite was said to have a life span of five years.

ISRO said the two smaller satellites -- Youthsat (an Indo-Russian venture) and X-SAT of Singapore's Nanyang Technical University -- are also in good health in their intended orbit.

The two Indian payloads in the Youthsat are performing satisfactorily while the Russian payload - Solar radiation Experiment - will be switched on Friday.

Next generation Nintendo console confirmed for 2012

Nintendo announced the Wii's rumoured successor without pomp or pageant in an open letter to the company’s investors Monday. The announcement came alongside an earnings release describing yet another decrease in the Japanese game giant's annual profit.

A brief note on Nintendo’s investor relations site titled simply “Wii’s successor system” states that “Nintendo Co., Ltd. has decided to launch in 2012 a system to succeed Wii, which the company has sold 86.01 million units on a consolidated shipment basis between its launch in 2006 and the end of March 2011.”

The brief, three-sentence missive goes on to say that the system will be shown in playable form and that its specifications will be revealed at the industry’s E3 conference in Los Angeles, June 7th through the 9th.

The announcement comes nearly two weeks after multiple gaming websites quoted anonymous sources discussing a possible new Nintendo system, describing it as more powerful than Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony’s PlayStation 3, backwards compatible with the Wii, and featuring an innovative controller with both standard gamepad controls and a nearly tablet-sized high resolution touch screen.

However, Monday’s revelation was likely less a response to rampant Internet speculation than a means of offsetting news that Wii and DS sales continue to swiftly decline, which has resulted in another year of lower than expected operating profits for Nintendo.

The communiqué announcing Wii's successor notes that “sales of this new system have not been included in the financial forecasts announced today for the fiscal term ending March 2012,” suggesting that the new system will ship after the current fiscal year, likely closer to the 2012 holiday shopping season.

While the announcement signals the imminent arrival of the next generation of Nintendo gaming, rivals Microsoft and Sony have yet to reveal future living room hardware of their own. Both companies released add-ons last fall in the form of the Xbox 360 Kinect and PlayStation Move that were meant at least in part to help extend the life of their current systems, which many analysts expect not to be replaced until 2014.

Assuming this speculation to be accurate, the industry is poised to break from an established cycle that has seen competing hardware manufacturers launching new machines every five or six years, often within days or weeks of each other, creating what consumers have come to know as game console "generations."

In related news, Nintendo’s consolidated financial statements revealed Monday that the company's new stereoscopic 3DS handheld system had sold 3.61 million units by year end March 31st, 2011, just over a month after its Japanese launch and about a week after its release in Europe and North America.

Hackers keep PlayStation Network offline for fifth day

Hackers have kept Sony's lucrative PlayStation Network offline for a fifth day while engineers scramble to overhaul the system and make it more secure.

Sony's equivalent of Apple's iTunes Store, PlayStation Network is the internet-based retail service that allows users of its PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable devices to buy games, films, music and game add-ons, and to chat with one another.

Sony confirmed on Friday that the service had been attacked by hackers, describing it on the official PlayStation blog as an "external intrusion". Patrick Seybold, senior director of corporate communications, wrote that Sony planned "a thorough investigation … to verify the smooth and secure operation of our network services".

In an update on Monday, Seybold wrote: "This is a time intensive process and we're working to get them back online quickly."

Staff have not been given any details about the problem, which first resulted in PSN going offline last Wednesday. A weekly internal progress email mentioned the "external intrusion" but did not give any indication how long the service would remain offline.

Sony's troubles began when it removed the "Other OS" option from all PS3 consoles in March last year, which meant users could no longer choose to install and run the Linux operating system. Sony cited security concerns, but the move triggered some users to hack the PS3 so that they could still run Linux.

Sony then moved to sue a group of hackers that included 21-year-old George Hotz – who had already earned a reputation after jailbreaking the iPhone – who had allegedly published a root key for the PS3 that meant any content, such as films and music, could be played on a jailbroken device.

The high-profile Hotz case, which was settled out of court this month, attracted attention from the Anonymous hacking network, which pledged to target Sony. A post on the Anonymous blog on 4 April said the action against Hotz and fellow hacker Graf_Chokolo was "wholly unforgivable".

"You have victimised your own customers for merely possessing and sharing information … Your corrupt business practices are indicative of a corporate philosophy that would deny consumers the right to use products they have paid for, and rightfully own, in the manner of their choosing," it said.

Despite the threats, a later post on the blog stated "for once we didn't do it" and said Sony could be "taking advantage of Anonymous' previous ill-will towards the company to distract users from the fact the outage is actually an internal problem with the company's servers".

Patrick Garrett, on the games industry blog VG24/7, said the PSN crisis could have dire consequence for Sony if it did not adopt a more sophisticated strategy for dealing with hackers. "PlayStation's entire 2011 so far has been marred by a single issue: hacking," he wrote. "Sony has now allowed the issue to affect its entire audience: it has been forced to deny millions of PSN users a key PlayStation feature over a global holiday."

Garrett referred to speculation that hackers might have compromised personal information for Sony to have taken the serious step of closing PSN for five days. PSN has an estimated 75 million users worldwide, many of whom have credit card information registered with the service.

"Sony's escalation of its war on hacking could potentially threaten not only Sony's ability to cut content deals, but, in a nightmare scenario, may compromise personal information of its millions of users. Sony must demonstrate it is capable of dealing with this situation right now. If these episodes become regular in any way, PSN's users, core or not, will lose faith in its brand and gravitate elsewhere."

Remixes can't dent popularity of original: Asha Bhosle

Singing legend Asha Bhosale believes remixed songs can never dent the popularity and the timelessness of the original classic numbers.

"No matter how many films are remade and songs are remixed, the original is the best and is always remembered," Asha said while interacting with mediapersons after the 'muhurat' shot of her debut Hindi film as actor, 'Maaee'.

The 77-year-old singer said she had not heard the remixed version of her 1970s blockbuster song 'Dum Maro Dum', in the Abhishek Bachchan-starrer that released last week.

"I have no intention of doing so," she added. "My songs like 'Yeh Mera Dil Pyar Ka deewana' and 'Dum Maro dum' have been remixed for Farhan Akhtar's 'Don' and Rohan Sippy's 'Dum Maro Dum', but audiences will always remember the original Asha Bhosle and the original composers."

Asha said she does not watch movies these days. "There are no emotions in today's films. Everything is computerised including fight scenes. It is better to watch cartoon movies." the evergreen singer added that she did like the 'Munnabhai' movies and loves Hrithik Roshan's films.

Stating that she was not open to more offers in movies, Asha said 'Maaee' will be her first and last movie as an actor. "Acting is not my field. Singing is my first love."

Even though she is not scared of being in front of the camera, Asha said that doing a movie and playing the title role was an experiment as well as a risk.

Talking about her debut in Maee, Bhosle said she would be her spontaneous self. "I don't believe in acting and will be myself in the role.. the manner in which I normally speak, the clothes I wear... Its okay if the producers want a little bit of grey hair," the evergreen singer said.

The 77-year-old said she is not doing rehearsals before shooting. "The filmmakers will explain the scenes to me a day earlier. I don't fear the camera. Its only that since the entire process will be new, there is little bit of nervousness."

According to her, all artistes feel nervous before every new initiative. "Even when I go for my stage shows, there are nervous moments of facing such large number of people. Artistes also fear that their hard-earned name and reputation should not be tarnished because of a bad show or decision."

Asha maintained that acting is not new to her. "I always emote in my singing as well. But big screen is a different ball game altogether."

When asked if she got offers from filmmakers, Asha said she told producers and directors who came to her with offers that she sees her face in the mirror everyday and does not feel that it is suitable for movies.

Speaking about her character in 'Maaee', Asha said it was a surprise. "This is wonderful story. I think I look my mother whom we called 'Maaee'. Apart from the title, this is a fictional story," she added.

When asked about Padmini Kolhapure who plays her daughter in the film, Asha said the 'Prem Rog' actress is the grand daughter of her aunt (father's sister). "I was instrumental in giving her a break as child actor in 'Ishq Ishq Ishq'. When the role in 'Maaee' was offered to her, she told my son Anand that the title role should go to 'Atya '(aunt)," the veteran added.

To a question on how she maintains her simple and yet elegant sense of dressing, Asha said, "Every woman knows what suits her best. What she likes may not neccessarily suit her. While doing shows, I wear heavy embroidered sarees, jewellery. But in real life, I like to keep it simple."

Rana Daggubati Replaces Abhishek In RGV's Film

Abhishek Bachchan is no longer part of Ram Gopal Varma's ambitious project Department. RGV has roped Abhi's co-star in Dum Maaro Dum Rana Daggubati for the role, instead.

Considering it has come immediately after the Dum Maaro Dum SMS fiasco, where Ramu was reportedly accused of revealing the ending of the film and making a dig ot Abhishek, it is quite likely that it has lead to a fallout between the director and the actor.

This film is touted as Ramu's most expensive project with Amitabh Bachchan playing a gangster-turned-politician and Abhishek Bachchan and Sanjay Dutt playing cops. Now, Rana will reprise Abhishek's role in the film.

A source said, "For the past few months Abhishek stopped responding to Ramu's calls. And after the SMS fiasco it was evident that Ramu will drop Abhishek from Department."

Ramu confirmed, "Due to certain date hassles I am going ahead with Rana Daggubati." He added, "Department is a very high intensity action film and I strongly felt that Rana on account of his looks and strong personality will fit in terrifically into the role."

Asked about the speculation of the fallout with Abhishek over the DMD SMS controversy, he strongly denied it and said, "It's absolutely wrong. I have the highest regard for Amitabh sir and Abhishek. Such trivial things can't affect our friendship."

Ramu also denied sending texts about the film to anyone. "I am busy shooting my own film A Love Story and did not have time to watch Dum Maaro Dum. So how can I send texts on the film revealing its ending?"

When asked if Amitabh Bachchan is still part of the film Ramu revealed, "It's too early to speak about the rest of the cast. So far, Sanjay Dutt, Kangna Ranaut and Rana have been finalised." Abhishek Bachchan remained unavailable for comment.

Rana confirmed, "Ramu met me yesterday and narrated the story. I loved the idea of the film and said yes."

Prithviraj to wed Supriya Menon today

Malyalam actor Prithviraj is creating quite a stir, what with the rumours of his impending marriage to Supriya Menon doing the rounds.

According to sources, the actor is tying the knot with Supriya Menon, a BBC journalist, in a small ceremony today, in the district of Palakkad, Supriya's hometown.

The couple reportedly wanted an intimate ceremony with only a small group of 50 people including family and friends in attendance. The couple plans to throw a lavish reception party for everybody else later.

Here's wishing the couple all the best.

India working to narrow trade deficit with China

While staying concerned over the huge trade deficit with China, the Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Anand Sharma expressed optimism that recently unveiled 12th Five Year Plan for 2012-14 of China, with a strong slant for a domestic consumer driven economy will give enormous opportunity for Indian exporters to access China’s huge consumer market in the coming years.

The trade deficit for India for 2010 stood at USD 20.02 billion, more than USD 15.87 billion trade deficit in year 2009 with China, which is an export driven economy.

He met the Jiang Jufeng, Governor of Sichuan Province of China, a province with which India’s trade relations date back to 444 B.C.

During the meeting in New Delhi on Monday, Sharma said, "Sichuan Province of China is very important from Indian point of view and that there is great potential for cooperation between the two regions.  India is an important partner to Sichuan Province, in terms of trade, engineering contracting, and service outsourcing cooperation, as well as an emerging investment destination and source."

Sichuan cuisine is well known in India. By 2010, India has invested in 7 projects in Sichuan, with a contracted foreign investment of USD 10.59 million and actual paid-in foreign capital of USD 6.55 million.

The Province has annual trade of USD 1.2 Billion with USD 1.1 billion in exports to India.

Exported products mainly included electrical and mechanical equipment, audio and video equipment, textiles, metalware and chemicals. Imports from India were USD 98.39 million, including minerals, chemicals and electrical and mechanical products.

In January 2011, total volume of import and export between Sichuan and India soared 41.64% over the previous year, to USD 129 million, including exports of USD 127 million, up 37.2%.

Trade between India and China has witnessed exponential growth in last few years. China has now emerged one of India’s largest trading partners with trade crossing the target of USD 60 billion (total trade USD 61.74 billion) during 2010 and expected to reach USD 100 billion by 2015. 

Maruti Q4 net up at Rs 660 cr; board proposes 150% dividend

New Delhi : The country’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India, has reported a marginal rise in its net profit for the fourth quarter ended March 31, 2011, at Rs 659.86 crore.

The company had posted a net profit of Rs 656.55 crore in the corresponding quarter of 2009-10 fiscal, Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) said in a statement today.

During the quarter, total income from operations increased by 18.93 per cent to Rs 10,092.18 crore from Rs 8,485.83 crore in the same period previous fiscal. Total automobile sales stood at 3,43,340 units (2,87,422 units), up 19.46 per cent.

For the entire 2010-11 financial year, Maruti Suzuki’s consolidated net profit declined by 9.23 per cent to Rs 2,382.37 crore from Rs 2,624.64 crore in FY’10. Consolidated total income from operations went up by 24.75 per cent to Rs 37,578.48 crore from Rs 30,122.51 crore.

The company sold a total of 12,71,005 vehicles in 2010-11 fiscal against 10,18,365 units in the previous fiscal, up 24.81 per cent.

The company’s board also recommended a dividend of 150 per cent, which is Rs 7.50 per share of the face value of Rs 5 for 2010-11.

Reacting to the results, the company shares were trading 1.48 per cent up at Rs 1,326 a piece on the Bombay Stock Exchange during the late afternoon trade.

Nifty in tight range; Axis Bank, SBI, RIL most active

The benchmark Nifty was trading in tight range of 5875-5900 since the beginning of trade. On the one side, Reliance, DLF, Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, NTPC, Bharti Airtel and Hindalco were dragging the markets down, at 12:07 hours.

However, SBI, ONGC, Infosys, L&T, ITC, BHEL, Sterlite, HUL, HDFC, Tata Steel and ICICI Bank were supporting the benchmarks.

According to Devina Mehra of First Global, the market would be close to the fairly valued range. “We don’t see a very big move on either side right away,” she adds. She further says, 2011 is more likely to be a down than an up year.

The 30-share BSE Sensex was trading at 19,637, up 35 points and the 50-share NSE Nifty rose 2 points to 5,587.


SBI (could be merger news), Infosys, Sterlite Industries, L&T, ONGC, Grasim and Kotak Mahindra Bank were the top gainers, with rising 1-2%.

However, Reliance Industries slipped nearly 3% post disappointing fourth quarter earnings. Axis Bank too plunged over 4% on the back of margin pressure in fourth quarter while topline & bottomline numbers were good.

DLF, Jindal Steel, Hindalco, Jaiprakash Associates and Siemens were other top losers.

Infosys, Axis Bank, Jubilant Foodworks, SBI, Reliance Industries and ICICI Bank were the most active shares on exchanges.

In midcap space, Prestige Estate shot up 15%. Jubilant Foodworks, 3M India, Dish TV India and Shree Global gained 4-6% while Gammon Infra, MindTree, KEC International, JM Financial and Shree Cements slipped 2.5-5%.

In smallcap space, FAG Bearings, Kama Holdings, JVL Agro, Falcon Tyres and Thomas Cook were up 8-16%. However, Tuni Textile, Parrys Sugar, Centrum Finance, Dion Global and Money Matters declined 4-5%.

About 1415 shares advanced as against 1206 shares declined on Bombay Stock Exchange.

Gaddafi Safe And His Morale High: Spokesman

Tripoli : Muammar Gaddafi is in a safe place and his morale is high, a regime spokesman said today after an overnight NATO air strike on the Libyan leader’s compound wrecked his office.

“The leader is working from Tripoli. The leader is well, is very healthy, is leading the battle for peace and democracy in Libya,” Mussa Ibrahim told reporters outside the destroyed building at Gaddafi’s Bab al-Aziziya residence.

“The leader is in a safe place. He is leading a battle...  he works every day. He led the battle to provide people with services, with food, medicine, fuel,” Ibrahim told a news conference in the presence of several ambassadors.

He called the NATO raid “an attempt to assassinate the leader and other political leaders of this country” and “an act of terrorism.”Ibrahim said three people were killed and 45 wounded—15 seriously—in the air strike.

He also accused the NATO alliance and the Libyan rebels battling his regime of being afraid of peace.

“The rebels are scared of peace, NATO is scared of peace.  They know that in peace they will be kicked out of this country,” Ibrahim said.

“Why don’t you come in on the ground and test our honesty, our transparency? We said yes to elections, yes to a referendum, yes to a transitional period, yes to negotiations.”

An international coalition intervened on March 19, launching air raids and missile strikes under a UN mandate aimed at protecting civilians from Gaddafi’s forces fighting the rebellion that erupted in mid-February.NATO took command of air campaign on March 31. (AFP)

Nearly 500 Taliban Flee In Daring Afghan Jailbreak

Kandahar : Almost 500 Taliban fighters and commanders escaped from a prison in an audacious jailbreak in southern Afghanistan which the government admitted today was a security “disaster”.

The Taliban said it sprung the inmates out of the prison in Kandahar through a one-kilometre tunnel that took five months to dig, and claimed all those who escaped belonged to the militia, including over 100 commanders.

The daring breakout in the Taliban’s heartland, the second from the prison in three years, threatens to undermine recent gains claimed by NATO forces in the area after a US-led troop surge, just as the annual fighting season begins.

It is also a major embarrassment for Afghan forces who are due to take on greater responsibility for security in their country ahead of the planned withdrawal of foreign combat troops in 2014.

Tooryalai Wesa, the governor of Kandahar, said that 488 people had escaped, the vast majority of whom were thought to be Taliban.

He added at a press conference that intelligence cells and security forces at the prison had “failed in their duties” in not detecting the tunnel, which he later said was a kilometre long.

A total of 26 inmates have now been recaptured and two others were shot dead after resisting arrest by security forces near Kandahar city, Wesa added.  The escapees, who represent over a third of the prison’s total population, came from its political section.  Kandahar prison is the largest in southern Afghanistan and holds Taliban captured on nearby battlefields, which are among the country’s bloodiest.

An AFP reporter who visited Kandahar prison after the jailbreak said journalists were shown a hole in a cell about half a metre wide and three metres deep which officials said was the mouth of the tunnel.

Clothes and personal belongings were scattered nearby, apparently abandoned by inmates before they made their escape.  Confirming the breakout, President Hamid Karzai’s spokesman Waheed Omer described it as a “disaster”.  “This is a blow, it’s something that should not have happened,” he said.

“We’re looking into finding out what exactly happened and what’s being done to compensate for the disaster that happened in Kandahar.”

Taliban spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi said the Islamist militants were responsible for the mass breakout, which took place over several hours.

A separate Taliban statement said they had started digging the tunnel from a nearby safe house five months ago and that it passed under several government checkpoints and a major highway. AFP

Al Qaeda Threatens Nuclear Hellstorm If Osama Is Caught Or Killed

Washington : Al-Qaeda terrorists have threatened to unleash a “nuclear hellstorm” on the West if their leader and world’s most wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden is nabbed.

A senior al-Qaeda commander has claimed that the terror group has stashed away a nuclear bomb in Europe which will be detonated if bin Laden is ever caught or assassinated, according to new top secret files made public by internet whistleblower WikiLeaks.

The documents are secret details of the background to the capture of each of the 780 people held at or have passed through the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba, along with their medical condition and the information they have provided during interrogations.

The documents have been released to select European and US news outlets and reveal that the day 9/11 terror killings took place in United States, the core of al-Qaeda was concentrated in a single city of Karachi in Pakistan.  The intellectual author of September 11 attacks watched the horrifying scenes of the planes crashing into the twin towers of World Trade Centre beamed live on TV with key al-Qaeda commanders at a safe house in Karachi.  While in a nearby hospital, the accused mastermind of the bombing of USS’ Cole off Yemen waters was recovering from an tonsillectomy, the alleged organiser of the 2002 Bali bombing was buying lab equipment for a biological weapons programme.

Within a day much of the al-Qaeda leadership disappeared back to Afghanistan to plan for a long war, the Washington Post reported quoting the fresh leaks on whereabouts of the international al-Qaeda terror brigade.  The cache of classified military documents portray the planning of the 9/11 terror attacks and whereabouts of its plotters including the world’s most wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri on that fateful day.

The Guantanamo detainees are assessed “high or medium or low” in terms of their intelligence value and the threat they pose while in detention and the continued threat they might pose if released.

The leaks say that four days after September 11 attacks, bin Laden visited a guest house in Afghanistan’s Kanadhar province where he told his gathered Arab fighters to “defend Afghanistan against infidel invaders” and to “fight in the name of Allah”.

The intelligence report says after the 9/11 attacks began a peripatetic three weeks for bin Laden and his deputy as they criss-crossed Afghanistan handing out assignments to followers, meetings with top Taliban leadership and delegating control of al-Qaeda to the group’s ‘shura’ council, presumably because he feared being captured or killed as US forces closed in.

The leaks also refer to a meeting held close to Afghan capital Kabul’s guest house where bin Laden gave instructions to continue operations against Western targets, dispersed his fighters from training camps and send women and children including, some of his wives to flee to Pakistan.  The tapes also refer to a meeting in October 2001 between bin Laden and Taliban leader Jallaudin Haqqani, who continues to lead a deadly insurgency against the US and its allies in Afghanistan.
It was only after dispersing his fighters and handing the reins of his dreaded organisation to ‘shura’ council that bin Laden and Zawahiri fled to the cave complex in Tora Bora near Jalalabad where he was last seen giving a speech to his close followers on November 25.

The Guantanamo leaks have a trace of bin Laden till the Tora Bora caves and according to US intelligence, the al-Qaeda chief is known to have survived intense US air strikes on the caves and escaped the dragnet of American special forces sent to hunt him down.

WikiLeaks said that bin Laden and his deputy Zawahiri separated from Tora Bora, while the latter is supposed to have taken refuge with an Afghan family, little is known about the whereabouts of the world’s most wanted man.  According to the new documents, in December al-Qaeda top lieutenants gathered at Zarmat, in mountainous regions of Afghanistan between Kabul and Khost, where they began to plan new attacks until they were finally captured.  Among those who met at Zarmat were Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, the self-described mastermind of 9/11 attacks, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged planner of the USS Cole attack and Abu Faraj al-Libbi, a key facilitator for bin Laden.

They were addressed by bin Laden at a gathering which was teeming with fighters who were waiting for al-Qaeda to return their passports so they could flee across the border to Pakistan.

After the Zarmat conclave, Mohammad and other senior al-Qaeda fighters began their return to Karachi.  Gradually, Mohammad and other operatives were picked up by Pakistanis working with CIA and FBI. Ramzai Binalshibh, a key liaison between September 11 hijackers was arrested at a safe house in Karachi on the first anniversary of the attacks.PTI

Truck Rams Into Wagon R Near Shahdara, One Killed, Two Critical

New Delhi : A truck driver on Monday night rammed into a Wagon R from behind near the Shahdara flyover, killing one of the three youths inside the van and critically wounding two others, reports India TV reporter Inderjeet.

The Wagon R, which was coming towards Shahdara from Dilshad Garden, turned turtle and was again hit by a Tata 407 mini-truck coming from the opposite direction.

Rahul, 30, Mohit 28 and Honey 25 were injured in the mishap. They were rushed to Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital in Shahdara where Rahul succumbed to injuries.

The truck driver escaped with his vehicle soon after the accident.

Ramveer, a helper sitting inside the Tata 407 described how the  mishap took place. "The truck rammed into the Wagon R from behind, the vehicle turned turtle and hit our mini-truck which was going in the opposite direction.

VHP Defends Sadhvi Pragya, Lt Col Purohit

Indore  : The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) today came in defence of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Lt Colonel Prasad Purohit, prime accused in the Malegaon blasts, and called the imposition of MCOCA against them as ‘political conspiracy’.

“MCOCA (Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act) was not imposed on the Mumbai terrorist attacker Kasab, but the same act has been applied in the case of Sadhvi and Purohit,” said the International General Secretary of VHP Praveen Togadia, adding, “both of them are a victim of political conspiracy”.

Thirty-five people were killed in the blast in the powerloom city of Malegaon in Nashik district in September 2006.

Addressing media persons here, Togadia said that the VHP will support all those who are “falsely” implicated in cases like above.

Reacting to Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh’s remark of April 16 in which he alleged that some of the senior BJP and RSS leaders were involved in the Ajmer blast accused Sunil Joshi’s murder, Togadia said, “Whenever I hear Digvijay I always feel that I am listening to a Pakistani”.

On the issue of Ram temple in Ayodhya, Togadia said, “If need arises we will launch a movement for the construction of the temple in Ayodhya”. PTI

No Govt Interference In Sai Trust: Swami Ramdev

Puttaparthi  : Yoga Guru  Swami Ramdev  on Monday  said that there should not be any government interference in the affairs of Satya Sai Central Trust here.

“There should be trust on Sai Trust. Crores of people have played their role towards the Trust. So there should not be any type of government interference in the Sai Trust activities,” Ramdev told reporter after paying homage to Sai Baba here at the Sai Kulwant Hall at Prasanti Nilyam.

Ramdev said it was the first time he was visiting the place.

“Sai Baba was god to all those people particularly the poor people who are benefited from the exemplary works undertaken by Sai Baba in the fields of providing drinking water, setting up educational institutiions and extending world class health facilities.

“His demise is not only an irreparable damage to India but to the whole of humanity,” Ramdev said, adding, “His works and blessings can not be expressed in words. He was social reformer and we need to take inspiration from him”. PTI

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