Tuesday, April 26, 2011

GOES-13 satellite eyeing system with a high risk of severe storms

A low pressure area currently over northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin has created conditions that call for a forecast of severe weather in the eastern third of the U.S. today and one area is even labeled "high risk." The GOES-13 Satellite captured a visible image of the system today as daytime heating was boiling up strong and severe thunderstorms. What's unusual about the system is that there are a handful of days where a "high risk" for severe weather is noted by NOAA's National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL). Today, April 26, 2011 is one of them. The high risk area includes southern Arkansas, extreme northwest Louisiana and extreme northeastern Texas. A moderate level of risk surrounds that area and stretches from west Tennessee, including Memphis, all of eastern Arkansas, northwest Louisiana and further into northeastern Texas. A slight risk for severe thunderstorms stretches from western Massachusetts through New York, the Appalachian Mountains to the Ohio Valley, Tennessee Valley and through the southeast west toward Texas.

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite called GOES-13 has been getting a workout with all of the severe weather this season. GOES is operated by NOAA and images and animations are created by the NASA GOES Project at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. The image created at 1832 (2:32 p.m. EDT) showed cloud cover associated with the low stretching from New England to east Texas. The cloud cover from Michigan through the Ohio, Mississippi and Tennessee Valleys today are associated with the cold front portion of the low pressure area. The clouds associated with the warm front associated with the low stretches east from northern Illinois to Massachusetts.

The NSSL noted that flash flooding from the thunderstorms is possible from the area of the front from southwestern Indiana through western Kentucky, western Tennessee, southeastern Missouri, Arkansas and northwestern Mississippi. Severe thunderstorms are possible in those areas today. This storm already has a history of dumping heavy rainfall as the central Mississippi Valley reported up to half a foot of rain from the system and the lower Mississippi Valley experienced as much as a foot in some areas.

As the severe weather threat will continue over the Lower Mississippi and Tennessee valleys over the next couple of days, you can find continually updated GOES satellite imagery from NASA's GOES project page at: http://goes.gsfc.nasa.gov.

Water molecules characterize the structure of DNA genetic material

Water molecules surround the genetic material DNA in a very specific way. Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have discovered that, on the one hand, the texture of this hydration shell depends on the water content and, on the other hand, actually influences the structure of the genetic substance itself. These findings are not only important in understanding the biological function of DNA; they could also be used for the construction of new DNA-based materials. The DNA's double helix never occurs in isolation; instead, its entire surface is always covered by water molecules which attach themselves with the help of hydrogen bonds. But the DNA does not bind all molecules the same way. "We've been able to verify that some of the water is bound stronger whereas other molecules are less so," notes Dr. Karim Fahmy, Head of the Biophysics Division at the Institute of Radiochemistry. This is, however, only true if the water content is low. When the water sheath swells, these differences are adjusted and all hydrogen bonds become equally strong. This, in turn, changes the geometry of the DNA strand: The backbone of the double helix, which consists of sugar and phosphate groups, bends slightly. "The precise DNA structure depends on the specific amount of water surrounding the molecule," summarizes Dr. Fahmy.

Analyses of the genetic material were conducted at the HZDR by the doctoral candidate Hassan Khesbak. The DNA, which came from salmon testes, was initially prepared in thin films and then wetted with ultrafine doses of water within a few seconds. With the help of infrared spectroscopy, Hassan Khesbak was able to verify that the strength of hydrogen bonds varies and that water molecules exhibit different rest periods in such configurations. Oscillations of the water bonds in the hydration shell of the double helix can be excited by infrared light. The higher the frequency of the oscillation, the looser the hydrogen bond. It became apparent that the sugar components and the base pairs create particularly strong bonds with the water sheath while the bonds between the water and the phosphate groups are weaker. The results were published just recently in the professional magazine Journal of the American Chemical Society (doi: 10.1021/ja108863v).

"DNA is, thus, a responsive material," explains Karim Fahmy. "By this, we refer to materials which react dynamically to varying conditions. The double helix structure, the strength of the hydrogen bonds, and even the DNA volume tend to change with higher water contents." Already today, genetic material is an extraordinarily versatile and interesting molecule for so-called DNA nanotechnology. Because with DNA it is possible to realize highly ordered structures with new optical, electronic, and mechanical properties at tiny dimensions which are also of interest for the HZDR. The bound water sheath is not just an integral part of such structures. It can also assume a precise switching function because the results indicate that increasing the hydration shell by only two water molecules per phosphate group may cause the DNA structure to "fold" instantly. Such water dependent switching processes might be able to control, for example, the release of active agents from DNA-based materials.

It does not come as a complete surprise that the water sheath of the genetic material is also of great relevance to the natural biological function of DNA. Because every biomolecule which is bound to the DNA has to first displace the water sheath. The Dresden scientists have analyzed this process for the peptide indolicidin. This antimicrobial protein is less structured and very flexible. That it still "identifies" the double helix so precisely is due to the fact that highly structured water molecules are released when it coalesces with the genetic material. The water sheath's restructuring, which is actually an energetic advantage, increases the binding of the active agent. Such details are really important for the development of DNA-binding drugs, for example, in cancer therapy because they can be ascertained with the method developed at the HZDR.

Campaign aims to boost uptake in infant jabs

HSE concerned over parents not finishing child immunisation programmes, writes EITHNE DONNELLAN Health Correspondent

PARENTS NEED to ensure their children are seen five times by a GP for immunisation in the first 13 months of life to ensure they are fully protected against a range of life-threatening conditions including meningitis C, the HSE has said.

While overall immunisation uptake rates are improving in the Republic, there is concern about a drop in the number of children receiving their Hib booster which protects against Haemophilus influenzae type B, as well as their third doses of PCV (pneumococcal vaccine) and meningitis C vaccines, according to the head of the HSE National Immunisation Office, Dr Brenda Corcoran.

For children born since July 2008, it is recommended they get three doses of the meningitis C vaccine – at four, six and 13 months of age – and that they get their Hib booster vaccine at 13 months.

They should also get three doses of the PCV vaccine – at two, six and 12 months.

Health Protection Surveillance Centre figures for 2010 show that 94 per cent of children across the State are now protected against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and polio by the time they reach two years of age.

“This is a great improvement and a credit to parents, GPs and healthcare workers. But some work remains to be done,” said Dr Corcoran.

“Uptake rates for MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine have reached 90 per cent, although this is still not sufficient to prevent measles outbreaks.

“We have seen a number of measles outbreaks in Ireland in recent years, which could have been prevented if enough children had received the MMR vaccine,” she added.

Some 95 per cent of children need to be vaccinated to prevent outbreaks. This is the World Health Organisation target for uptake of vaccines.

In an attempt to boost uptake rates further, the National Immunisation Office will today launch a new guide to childhood immunisation for parents.

It aims to remind parents that five visits to a GP are necessary in the first 13 months of a child’s life to ensure that they are fully protected against a range of serious, but preventable, diseases.

Immunisation passports will now also be given to parents to keep records of what vaccines their children have received.

These will be available from public health nurses when they visit the homes of parents with newborn babies, and available to download from hse.ie.

Dr Corcoran stressed that immunisation was a simple, safe and effective way of protecting children against certain diseases. “Vaccines have saved more lives worldwide than any public health intervention other than the provision of clean water,” she said.

Immunisation uptake rates vary across the regions, but are highest in the northeast and northwest and lowest in the east.

Spurt in Demand of Botox Treatment in India

It seems that the well known lunchtime procedures are on the run. As per reports, a significant rise in non-invasive surgical procedures has been observed in middle–aged men to look good and to deal with the ageing factor.

If statistics of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons are to be believed, the non-invasive procedures have gone up by 2% in 2010, especially in baby boomers. Though the number of male surgical operations remained stagnant at 1.1 million between 2007 and 2009, the number went up to 2.1 million in 2010.

Moreover, many cosmetic consultants have revealed that number of Botox treatment has notched up in the past few years as middle-aged men are concerned about removing the frowning lines without any major alternation in their facial structure.

Responding to the recent trend, Mumbai-based Cosmetic Surgeon, Manoj Kumar J. Manwani, who handles approximately 5,000-6,000 cosmetic cases every year, claimed, “All lunch-time surgeries take less than an hour, are non
-invasive or superficial, can be done with local anaesthesia and show results immediately”.

Further, cosmetic consultants have found a gradual spurt in demand of mole removal, skin augmentation, double- chin correction, chemical face peeling, laser treatment for unwanted hair, and facelifts.

Fighting HIV in South Africa should focus on couples

HIV-positive people in South Africa take almost as much risk in their behavior when they know their partner is HIV-negative or don't know their status, as when they know their partner is already infected.

At the same time, HIV-positive partners who are on antiretroviral therapy and in intensive counseling do engage in less risky behavior.

The Brown University researchers who led the study say both findings suggest that more couples-based HIV counseling is needed in South Africa where about 18 percent of adults carry the virus.

"This paper clearly points to the urgent need to intervene among people already infected with HIV and especially those in 'discordant' relationships - relationships in which their partner is not infected," said Mark Lurie, professor of community health and a senior author of the study.

The study surveyed 1,163 sexually active HIV-positive men and women in a primary care program at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, near Johannesburg.

In all, about 40 percent of the people surveyed knew their partner was also HIV positive. The same proportion didn't know their partner's status and 20 percent knew their partners to be HIV-negative. There was no correlation between how long the couples were together (a median of 3.4 years) and whether a partner's status was known.

The factor that did seem to be associated with decreased se xual risk-taking behavior was receiving antiretroviral (ART) medication.

Taken together, the prevalence of risk in South African couples and the likely role that counseling plays in curbing risk could add up to a significant potential benefit to increasing couples counseling about HIV. By bringing men and women into counseling together, such programs may help overcome power imbalances between men and women that exacerbate the lack of communication about HIV status in some relationships.

HIV prevention and treatment programs need to be more couples-friendly or family-focused.

Saif Ali Khan pops the question to Kareena finally

Mumbai: Is it wedding season in B-Town? Former Miss World Lara Dutta tied the nuptial with tennis ace Mahesh Bhupathi early this year. And filmmaker Anurag Kashyap and his ladylove Kalki are all set to enter into matrimony this month end. It seems star couple Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor too is headed towards the altar. Rumours have it that Saif has already popped the question to Kareena.

Sources close to the couple have stated that an official announcement is on the anvil after the release of Saif’s home production ‘Agent Vinod’ which stars the two in the lead. Saif, is waiting for Kareena’s answer.

Now we all know what Bebo’s answer is going to be. But Saif wants her to decide the date and time for the wedding.

Kareena has already made a good rapport with Saif’s kids and his family. Saif is also known to be friendly with Kareena’s mother and sister. Now all are just waiting for the official announcement.

When will wedding bells ring for this star couple? Perhaps only Kareena can tell!

Kate's organic flowers to be best of British

An avenue of trees lining the aisle and leading to the altar will be the main feature of the display, which is based around growing, rather than cut plants, in line with the bride-to-be's desire that it should be sustainable.

London-based florist Shane Connolly, 47, who is in charge of the displays, said he had been in regular touch with Middleton and that the flowers would not give a message of "wow, what an extravagance," but "how beautiful."

"I suggested right from the beginning that we would use things from the royal estates because her whole ethos has been that it had to be British ... and that it had to be seasonal and as organic to the place as possible," he said.

The plants will include blossoms, azaleas, rhododendron, euphorbias, beech, wisteria and lilac, royal officials said on Tuesday.

Eight 20-foot high trees, six English Field Maple and two Hornbeam, will be the most prominent feature and they will be in planters designed by Connolly, who was chosen by the couple for his reputation for producing "elegant and unique" displays.

Tradition dictates that the bride's bouquet consists of white flowers but Connolly would not divulge any details.

However, he hinted there could be a hidden message in the bouquet, as some flowers are said to convey certain meanings about love, romance, and fidelity.

"One of the things that has been very important to Catherine and to me are the meanings of flowers and the language of flowers," said Connolly, who also arranged the flowers for the second marriage of William's father Prince Charles in 2005.

"We've tried, especially in the wedding bouquets, which you'll see on the day, we've tried very much to make beautiful stories."

Whatever the design, media have reported that Middleton is expected to leave her flowers on a memorial in the abbey to an unknown soldier from World War One, following a tradition started by the queen's mother at her wedding in 1923.

After the wedding, the other flowers and plants will be left at the church until May 6 for the public to view. After that, many of the trees will be taken to Highgrove, Charles's residence in Gloucestershire.

The couple hope that other cut plants and flowers will be donated to charities or re-planted.

SRK keeps a safe distance

Wonder what’s stopping Shah Rukh Khan from promoting a 76-minute film under his banner. Call it the pressure of wrapping up his most ambitious project ever (Ra. One), getting plans in place for his home production (Always Kabhi Kabhi) or sheer aversion to the latest production from his company, Shah Rukh seems to have distanced himself from Men Will Be Men.

King Khan, who is known for his marketing strategies and having a sharp business acumen, has shockingly stayed away from any promotions for this film. Men Will Be Men is a 76-minute film under SRK’s banner which is due for release this Friday. Considering all the hype he generates around his films, it is quite surprising to see him not talk about it. “It is seeing a totally silent release and no one has any clue what the film is all about. Why Shah Rukh is keeping a distance from his own film is indeed quite puzzling. For someone who started the trend of going all out for his films since the days of Don — The Chase Begins Again, an apparent lack of interest in Men Will Be Men is baffling,” says an industry source.

The film is not even presented as a Red Chillies film. The banner mentioned on the forefront is an Idiot Box film, which is another arm of Red Chillies. “No one knows what really prompted Shah Rukh to stay away from the film, but one reason could be that he may have wanted to stay away from such surrogate advertising,” says a trade source adding, “For all you know, this could just be a short film made for TV and the makers are experimenting to test waters with a big screen release.”

Whatever be the reason, the fact remains that Men Will Be Men won’t quite have expected such a release for itself especially, after Shah Rukh’s name being attached with the project. Even the credit rolls mention Samar Khan as the executive producer, which makes Shah Rukh’s distance very clear. Well, men will be men after all.

The typewriter’s day is nearly done

Who knew that typewriters were still being manufactured? Somehow word processing’s precursor had managed to endure in India for decades after the fickle keyboard crowd moved on. But now the 19th-century machine’s last gasp is that much closer with the announcement that Godrej & Boyce will close its Mumbai plant, which used to produce 50,000 typewriters a year. Defence agencies, courts and government offices were the last customers of the cumbersome device as sales plummeted to less than 1,000 per annum. Now, finally, even the tradition-minded Indian bureaucracy will have to face up to the efficiencies of the modern world.

They linger in dark places

The typewriter has been proclaimed dead for decades, but somehow it manages to linger on – at least in the U.S. prison system, which is now the biggest market for the transparent machines made by Swintec, a New Jersey firm. Authorities like the fact that prisoners can’t hide contraband in the see-through typewriters nor access the temptations of the Internet. David Berkowitz, the notorious Son of Sam killer, is one of the Swintec’s most satisfied customers, typing out two dozen missives a week to friends and acquaintances on his electric keyboard. Swintec also supplies typewriters to funeral homes that have to type up original death certificates and to the New York Police Department, which requires officers to do their two-finger best on carbon-paper documents such as evidence vouchers. If NYPD deskers look askance at your criminal complaint, researchers say, it’s probably because they don’t want to be bothered with the awkward tedium of an antiquated typewriter.

Speed demons

Before he was a renowned literary critic, Northrop Frye found fame as a speed demon on the typewriter. After graduating from high school in Moncton, he studied office skills at the Success Business College and competed in national typing competitions, winning an Underwood expert-typist award in 1929 at the age of 16. But his speed of 63 words per minute paled beside that of the fastest typists, who have reached over 200 wpm. Frye wisely moved on to a more cerebral level of verbal dexterity.

How to succeed in business

Was the typewriter sexist? The debate endures long after the office typewriter went the way of the three-martini lunch, thanks in part to the cult of Mad Men and its steno pools that placed young typists at the ad executives’ beck and call. As early as the 1920s, naughty postcards portrayed the typewriter as a suggestive instigator of boss-secretary shenanigans, and smart girls were advised not to learn typing if they wanted to advance in the work world. But some historians look on the old QWERTY keyboard more kindly: Office work at the typists’ level was better-paid, safer and less physically draining than other kinds of women’s work, while offering greater mobility in urban – and urbane – corporate culture.

The sound of productivity

The silent typewriter? A bad idea. Remington tried one out, and the market said no. People accustomed to the traditional clickety-clack, that reassuring indicator of productivity, found both the soundless machine and its noiseless office equally unconvincing.

Special relationships

Typewriters write the way people talk, said Ernest Hemingway. But Henry James, whose elaborate style couldn’t have been more different from Hemingway’s spare prose, dictated his novels to a female typist. Likewise, Friedrich Nietzsche trained the typewriter to obey his contorted verbiage. Jack Kerouac, a high-energy, 100-words-a-minute typist, was so impatient about his words keeping up with his streaming thoughts that he typed on a single continuous roll of paper. Maybe, as with any writing instrument, it’s each to his own: Paul Auster preciously described his Olympia as “a frail sentient being,” while gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson used to take target practice at his untalkative IBM Selectric. And the deadline-driven sportswriter Red Smith remarked that “there’s nothing to writing – all you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” Still, would anyone ever say that about a BlackBerry?

No more revealing manuscripts

With the disappearance of the typewriter, says Robert Morrison of Queen’s University, comes the end of the literary manuscript. “When you have a typewritten manuscript, you can keep much better track of the author’s revisions and second thoughts and changes. With the computer, it’s all gone: Hit the Delete key and all your changes disappear into the ether. And what we know from looking at older manuscripts is that very often the crossed-out original is a lot more interesting than the final version.”

Dirty looks

Another reason the typewriter couldn’t last: After 9/11, it’s almost impossible to get it through security without being hassled. “The typewriter’s declining popularity arouses suspicion,” wrote the deliberately old-school author David Sedaris, “and I wind up eliciting the sort of reaction one might expect when travelling with a cannon.”

Sony Playstation suffers massive data breach

Sony said it learned of the breach in its popular PlayStation Network on April 19, prompting it to shut down the network immediately. Sony did not tell the public about the stolen data until Tuesday, hours after it launched its new tablet computers in Japan.

An "illegal and unauthorized person" obtained names, addresses, email addresses, birth dates, usernames, passwords, logins, security questions and more, Sony said on its U.S. PlayStation blog on Tuesday.

A Sony spokesman said it took "several days of forensic investigation" after learning of the breach before the company knew consumers' data had been compromised.

The news sparked fury among users.

"If you have compromised my credit information, you will never receive it again," read one message on the PlayStation Network blog from a user under the name Korbei83.

"The fact that you've waited this long to divulge this information to your customers is deplorable. Shame on you."

The electronics conglomerate is the latest Japanese company to come under fire for not disclosing bad news quickly. Tokyo Electric Power Co was criticized for how it handled the nuclear crisis after the March 11 earthquake. Last year, Toyota Motor Corp was slammed for being less than forthright about problems over a massive vehicle recall.

The shutdown of the PlayStation Network prevented owners of Sony's video game console from buying and downloading games, as well as playing with rivals over the Internet.

Sony said it could restore some of the network's services within a week.

Alan Paller, research director of the SANS Institute, said the breach may be the largest theft of identity data information on record.

The online network was launched in the autumn of 2006 and offers games, music and movies to people with PlayStation consoles. It had 77 million registered users as of March 20, a Sony spokesman said, almost 90 percent of them in Europe or the United States.

Sony shares fell 0.3 percent in Tokyo by 0240 GMT, underperforming a 0.8 percent rise in the benchmark Nikkei index.


The breach is a major setback for the Japanese electronics maker. Although video game hardware and software sales have declined globally, the PlayStation franchise is a substantial profit source and remains a flagship product for Sony.

Sony intends to use PlayStation games to lure consumers to buy its first tablet computers. The company will start selling the tablets later this year to compete against Apple Inc's iPad and aims to overtake Samsung Electronics to become No. 2 in the burgeoning market.

The company also plans to launch a new hand-held games device, the Next Generation Portable, by the end of the year.

Children with accounts established by their parents also might have had their data exposed, Sony said.

Sony said it saw no evidence credit card numbers were stolen, but warned users it could not rule out the possibility.

"Out of an abundance of caution, we are advising you that your credit card number (excluding security code) and expiration date may have been obtained," Sony said.

Analysts said that while Sony has notified customers of the breach, it had still not provided information on how user data might have been compromised.

"This is a huge data breach," said Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter, who estimated Sony generates $500 million in annual revenue from the service. "The bigger issue with Sony is how will the hacker use the info that has been illegally obtained?"

Sony said it had hired an "outside recognized security firm" to investigate.

The company said user account information for the PlayStation Network and its Qriocity service users was compromised between April 17 and April 19.

Paller said Sony probably did not pay enough attention to security when it was developing the software that runs its network. In the rush to get out innovative new products, security can sometimes take a back seat.

"They have to innovate rapidly. That's the business model," Paller said. "New software has errors in it. So they expose code with errors in it to large numbers of people, which is a catastrophe in the making."

He suspected the hackers entered the network by taking over the PC of a system administrator, who had rights to access sensitive information about Sony's customers. They likely did that by sending the administrator an email message that contained a piece of malicious software that got downloaded onto his or her PC.

Hackers have stolen personal data in the past from large companies. In 2009, Albert Gonzalez pleaded guilty to stealing tens of millions of payment card numbers by breaking into corporate computer systems at companies such as 7-Eleven Inc and Target Co.

Sony said its users could place fraud alerts on their credit card accounts through three U.S. credit card bureaus, which it recommended in its statement.

The company declined to comment on whether it was working with law enforcement or other parties in its investigation.

Sony has reported the breach to Federal Bureau of Investigations, the New York Times reported on its website. Democrat senator Richard Blumenthal also sent a letter to the Japanese firm asking it to explain why it didn't notify PlayStation owners sooner.

Sony to challenge Apple with two tablet computers

Kunimasa Suzuki, Sony’s deputy president, said the company’s new tablets, codenamed S1 and S2, would use Google’s Android operating system and will go on sale this autumn.

The S1 is a 9.4-inch tablet computer with a tapered design that is thick on one end and thin on the other. The S2 is a clamshell style tablet that opens to reveal two 5.5-inch touchscreens. Sony said the two tablets might not launch at the same time.

Both tablets will have WiFi connectivity and 3G mobile internet, as well as 4G where it is available.

Mr Suzuki said: “We’ve tried to expand the possibilities of a tablet.”

The tablet market is currently dominated by Apple, whose iPad 2 was released earlier this year. However, Sony will hope that it can add features that will make its own tablets a tempting alternative, such as the ability to play PlayStation games and read e-books from the Sony Reader store. The company also has a music and film streaming service, called Qriocity, that could be added to its tablet computers.

Last year Sony said its aim was to be second to Apple in the tablet market by 2012. That will mean overtaking rivals including Samsung, whose first Galaxy Tab went on sale last year, Motorola and RIM, manufacturers of the BlackBerry PlayBook.

Analysts Gartner say that tablet sales will quadruple to about 294 million by 2015.

Petronet plans to buy 10 spot LNG cargoes in FY12

India's Petronet LNG plans to import 10 spot liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargoes this fiscal on top of its deals with Spain's Gas Natural and Qatar's Rasgas, its Chief Executive said on Tuesday, to meet growing energy demand in Asia's third largest economy.

"There is a lot of discussion that domestic gas may not be able to match projections made earlier. So the logical solution is LNG and we should be able to pitch in," AK Balyan told reporters.

India's upstream regulator SK Srivastava last week said Reliance Industries, which has partnered with BP on field development, was pumping 28 percent less-than-expected gas from the D6 block, India's second biggest gas producer after Mumbai High.

Balyan said Petronet had signed a deal with Gas Natural to buy 1.5 million tonnes of LNG, or 22 cargoes, spread over the financial year 2011/12 and 2012/13. India's financial year begins on April 1.

"We will get 12 cargoes this fiscal and 10 in the next fiscal," he said, referring to the deal with Gas Natural.

Petronet on Tuesday also said its March-quarter profit more than doubled from a year ago to Rs 206 crore (USD 46 million).

"It was due to more regassification volumes, regassification charges and we have been able to internally use gas more efficiently," Balyan said.

Petronet operates a 10-million-tonne-a-year LNG regassification plant at Dahej in western Gujarat state, and sells LNG to state-run firms Indian Oil Corp, Bharat Petroleum Corp and GAIL (India) Ltd, which then supply to industrial users.

It currently buys 7.5 million tonnes LNG annually from Qatar under a long-term deal.

Petronet is also seeking additional 2 to 4 million tonnes per year of LNG from Qatar for its 5-million-tonne-a-year Kochi terminal, expected to be commissioned in October-December 2012, and spare capacity at Dahej.

"We would like to have additional 2.5 million tonnes (a year) of LNG for the additional capacity that we have," he said referring to Dahej terminal.

Petronet also has long-term contracts to buy 1.5 million tonnes of LNG annually from Australia's Gorgon project from 2014/15 for its Kochi plant.

Wipro Q4 net up 13.7 pct; in line with forecast

Bangalore-based Wipro said net profit for the fiscal fourth quarter rose to 13.75 billion rupees ($309 million) under international accounting standards from 12.09 billion a year ago.

This compares with a Reuters poll forecast of 13.79 billion rupees for Mumbai and New York-listed Wipro, which counts Citigroup, Cisco and Credit Suisse among its clients.

Earlier this month, larger rival Tata Consultancy Services beat profit estimates but said wage hikes and currency moves could threaten its full-year margins.

No. 2 Infosys forecast lower-than-expected annual sales growth on slower client spending, prompting a series of downgrades and share target price cuts.

March inflation rises to 8.98% vs 8.31% in Feb

The wholesale price index (WPI) for the year rose to 8.98% in March as against 8.31% in February on higher fuel and manufactured product prices. A CNBC-TV18 poll forecasted a 8.38% rise in the figure for the said month.

The reading for January was upwardly revised to 9.35% from 8.23%.

The food price index rose 8.28% and the fuel price index climbed 12.97% in the year to April 2. In the previous week, annual food and fuel inflation stood at 9.18% and 13.13%, respectively. The primary articles price index was up 11.40%, compared with an annual rise of 12.97% a week earlier.

The picture doesn't look too bright to Sonal Varma India economist at Nomura Financial Advisory & Securities (India). "Starting the year with 9% brings down all expectations that inflation could come down in April. Adding more gloominess to that are talks of bad monsoons. The core side of the number has clearly gone up quite substantially."

Jonathan Cavenagh senior forex strategist for institutional forex sales-Asia at Westpac Institutional Bank, said this was a pretty strong inflation print for India—9% versus 8.36%. “RBI won't be too happy with that and more broadly inflation is proving to be quite sticky around this 8-9% level, despite what could be considered an aggressive tightening cycle since early 2010. I don't think this does INR much good as Indian equities are coming off on the back of this data. So I wouldn't be surprised to see USD/INR higher and/or INR underperform other Asian currencies."

To Ashutosh Datar economist at IIFL the inflation trajectory seems to have changed. “The expected decline in inflation is just not happening and looks like we have underestimated the underlying pressure on prices."

More rate hikes in store?

Despite of the rate hikes that the Reserve Bank has done, inflation has refused to come down. "Why is that," questions Varma. In reaction to this higher-than-expected reading, she expects a 25 basis points and not a 50 basis points rate hike on May 3.

More monetary tightening is inevitable after today's data and the case for a 50 basis point hike in May is strengthened, according to Datar.

The RBI has been clearly worried about the fact that the growth might actually slowdown very significantly if it tends to become very hawkish on the inflation side, said Indranil Pan chief economist at Kotak Mahindra Bank. "Having said that I would think RBI would move ahead with another 75 basis points, starting with the 25 basis points on May 3."

Though Anant Narayan managing director-regional head of fixed income and currency trading of South Asia at Standard Chartered Bank doesn't totally rule out the possibility of a more-than 25 basis points hike, he says on May 3 the hike may be capped at 25 bps level. "Given that every 45 days they do a review so they have plenty of time to take this as it comes along," he added.

Medvedev Sends N-Safety Proposals To G-8, BRICS Leaders

Moscow,   :  Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has sent a set of proposals to the leaders of G-8 and BRICS, grouping of the most industrialised nations and the fastest emerging economies, including India to further improve international nuclear safety regulations.

According to the Kremlin, the proposals are the result of analysis of events at the Fukushima-1 NPP in Japan and are a response to the rapid growth of civil nuclear power facilities around the world.

Medvedev has proposed to supplement existing conventions and the UN nuclear watchdog, International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) statute with several provisions stipulating the responsibility of the state for providing a timely and adequate response to an accident in order to minimise its impact.

He has proposed to put in place regulations aimed at the coordination and cooperation between the state, the operating organisation and the supervisory agency in accident management to reduce its impact.

Medvedev, who became the first Russian leader to visit the now defunct Chernobyl Atomic Power Station, marking the 25 years since the world’s worst nuclear disaster,

has proposed that the states using nuclear energy should be responsible for ensuring the level of nuclear safety not below the level corresponding to the IAEA standards.

Every country should have a ready action plans for emergencies related to the operation of nuclear power stations, according to Medvedev.

He also proposed that the countries intending to build nuclear power facilities must establish infrastructure in accordance with IAEA recommendations and with the participation of the supplier of the nuclear plan equipment.

Medvedev also proposed to stipulate additional regulations for nuclear power plant construction in seismic zones and in areas with a high risk of natural disasters, with the view of their possible compound effect.

He also proposed to adopt regulations regarding the information to be provided about the accident, depending on its severity on the IAEA scale.

According to the Kremlin, nuclear safety proposals also have been submitted to the IAEA and the leaders of the CIS countries and are expected to be formally discussed at the G8 summit in France next month. PTI

William, Kate May Kiss On The Balcony

London  : Until July 29, 1981, no newly-wed royal couple had kissed in public, but after Prince Charles and Lady Diana responded to a chorus from an ecstatic public and kissed on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on that heady day, they started a whole new royal tradition.

Prince William and Kate can be expected to dutifully follow suit on Friday.

The young couple will not only bear the weight of traditions going back centuries, but also reflect the ethos of modern times.

For centuries, royal weddings were private events that took place in palaces and castles like Windsor.

But the weddings of Queen Elizabeth’s children - Princess Anne (1973), Prince Charles (1981), Prince Andrew (1986) and Prince Edward (1999) - reflected the changing face of Britain.

The most recent royal wedding was that of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles, on April 9, 2005.

Unlike his first marriage to Lady Diana, this was a low key event at the Windsor castle, a civil ceremony followed by religious blessing.

There was none of the pomp and pageantry that the world witnessed on July 29, 1981.

This time there were no horse driven carriages; the couple arrived in a glass car, while Princes William and Harry arrived in a mini-bus.

If Prince Charles’ second marriage was an understated event, sensitive to public mood, his youngest brother Prince Edward had a similar low key event in Windsor when he married Sophie Rhys-Jones on June 19, 1999.

According to Fiona Macdonald, author of ‘Royal weddings: A very peculiar history,’ modern royal weddings in the past 90-odd years marked a significant break with the past.

“Until the 19th Century and early in the 1900s, the pattern had been largely the same for the past 1,000 years.  Royal weddings were usually arranged for political, dynastic and empire-building reasons, and the bride and groom were always of mutually royal rank,” she says.

Marrying a commoner was exceptionally rare, but on April 26, 1923, Prince Albert married Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, mother of the present Queen Elizabeth.

Some royal weddings were held during difficult times. King George ensured that the 1923 wedding of Prince Albert became a public event to endear the monarchy to the nation. The First World War had then just ended. That marriage set the style for every royal wedding to follow.

Princess Elizabeth’s wedding to Prince Phillip on November 20, 1947 was the first royal wedding in which BBC cameras were allowed inside Westminster Abbey.

This time too Britain was emerging from the Second World War, and the national mood lifting.

The country was broke and cities scarred by bombs and it was decided that a national celebration was just what the country needed.

Then, for the first time, a royal wedding was telecast live when Princess Margaret married photographer Anthony Armstrong Jones on May 6, 1960.

It was seen by an audience of 300 million across the world.

Since then, royal weddings became huge spectacles that drew billions of people across the world.

They were events that were intricately planned and choreographed to the very second, particularly the weddings of Queen Elizabeth’s children.

On November 14, 1973, Princess Anne married Captain Mark Philips.

That year, Britain was facing economic meltdown with power cuts, shortages and large deficits.

This wedding in Westminster Abbey was estimated to have been watched live by 500 million viewers across the globe.

But the royal wedding of the 20th century was undoubtedly that of Prince Charles and Lady Diana on July 29, 1981, which was considered more splendid and magnificent that any other royal wedding in history.

But it was also held in the backdrop of another difficult period in Britain’s contemporary history. There was unrest and riots in some cities amidst a crippling recession.

It was also the first time that a royal couple kissed on the balcony of the Buckingham palace during the customary post-wedding appearance before thousands of people.

This wedding was estimated to have been watched by 750 million people across the world.

On July 23, 1986, Prince Edward married Sarah Fergusson.The couple followed the new tradition set by Prince Charles and Lady Diana and kissed on the balcony to the delight of thousands of people gathered around Buckingham Palace. PTI

3 Killed In Twin Bomb Attacks Near Pak Naval Bases

Karach : Two roadside bomb blasts targeted buses carrying Pakistani navy employees here today, killing at least three persons, including a woman, and injuring over 30 others, officials said.

The first blast hit a bus carrying about 50 people in the upmarket Defence area of Karachi at about 7.40 am local time.  A lady doctor and a sub-lieutenant of the navy were killed in the attack, a naval spokesman told the media.  Over 15 people were injured in the attack.  Another bus carrying naval employees to work was hit by the second blast in Baldia Town area about 10 minutes later.

TV news channels reported that at least one person was killed and 15 others were injured in this attack. The condition of four persons, including the driver, was described as serious.

Sharfuddin Memon, the Interior Adviser of Sindh province, confirmed that three people were killed in the attacks.  Both bombs were detonated by remote control, Special Superintendent of Police Raja Umar Khattab told the media.  In the Defence area, the bus was targeted with an explosive device planted in a motorcycle. Footage on television showed a mangled motorcycle lying near the bus. 

The second bus was targeted with a bomb hidden in a pile of stones near the roadside in Baldia Town.  Initial reports on state-run PTV had described both attacks as suicide bombings.

The injured were taken to a naval hospital.  Large contingents of paramilitary and armed forces personnel cordoned off the sites of both blasts.  Members of the bomb disposal squad scoured the sites for clues.No group claimed responsibility for the attacks.Pro-Taliban militants are usually blamed for such bombings.PTI

Section Of Air India Pilots On Strike, 4 Flights Cancelled, 16 Delayed

New Delhi  : Four Air India flights were cancelled and 16 pilots were delayed from Mumbai on Wednesday morning, as a section of pilots went on a flash strike.

Earlier, in a latter sent to the Prime Minister, the Indian Commercial Pilots Association blamed the Air India management as responsible for the mismanagement and losses. The striking pilots sought the Prime Minister’s intervention and a CBI probe into the matter.

The Indian Commercial Pilot’s Association (ICPA), which is spearheading the strike that has affected the flight operations, shot up a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh early today urging him to review the appointment of the “high headed and dishonest management” to restore the past glory of the airline.

“The Government of India has all the machinery and tools to investigate all the shortcomings of this management and hold them accountable. We, the ICPA, now demand a CBI inquiry or any appropriate body to inquire into the scams of the airlines,” Rishabh Kapur, ICPA General Secretary said in the letter.

The ICPA demanded a CBI probe into cancellation and withdrawal of profitable routes and bilateral “given away” to either private airlines or foreign carriers, investigation of aircraft acquisition orders of 111 new planes between erstwhile Indian Airlines and Air India.

The union wants a probe into under utilisation of aircraft and various facilities like engine overhaul shops at Delhi and Mumbai, training and simulators at Central Training Establishment in Hyderabad, “which are causing loss of revenue and extra cost to company”.

Alleging that management’s shortcomings have led Air India, once the “nations pride”, to “run into deep waters and now it is even struggling to stay a float”.  They said that prior to merger, Air India and Indian Airlines were having a loss Rs 455 crore and Rs 280 crore respectively and within three years it has escalated to Rs 16,000 crore that too despite hiring consultancy firm Deloitte at a cost of Rs 90 crore.

Terming the management as ‘incompetent’ who are ‘sabotaging the future of the airline’, Kapur alleged that “the intention of the management seems very well scripted to buy new airplanes, upgrade the machinery (like SITA, SAT, IOCC) at a whopping Rs 800 crore) and kill the morale of the employees so that they agitate, making way to sell the airline in distress.”

He also said that employees and pilots have low morale because of victimisation, favouratism and “dictatorial behaviour”.

“Most of the employees are in court due to management dictatorial behaviour fighting legal battle, which is causing cost to the company. Also the management has derecognised two unions and 54 employees have been sacked but still this company has not shown any improvement and the management still blames the employees for their failure,” Kapur said.

The ICPA also demanded probing of management’s decision to convert passenger planes to cargo aircraft at an expense of millions of dollars and later not utilising it.

Apart from it, they have also questioned the selling and leasing back of aircraft and their contract to benefit only the lessor at inflated rates, also reason’s behind appointment of top management with high salary.

The pilot’s union said that airline management has appointed officiating executives, who are only junior but also had tainted record and hired foreign pilots at very high pay and perks through “dubious recruitment agencies”. PTI

Sachin Sits Under Sai Tree In Jaipur

Jaipur : Batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar again became emotional on Tuesday when he went near the tree where Sathya Sai Baba had given his discourse 38 years ago, the year Sachin was born.

As Sachin went near the tree, he became silent and quietly sat  near the tree for a long time, deeply engrossed in thoughts.

The tree is located in Kothari House premises here and Sachin had come for an ad shoot.

On Monday, Sachin broke down as he watched Baba's mortal remains inside a glass case in his ashram at Puttaparthi.

Sachin is an avowed disciple of Sathya Sai Baba, who had blessed him to attain heights of  excellence and popularity.

Kalmadi Sacked, Malhotra Named IOA Acting President

New Delhi : A day after his arrest on corruption charges, Suresh Kalmadi’s 15-year tenure as the IOA president came to an abrupt end after he was sacked from the post and veteran sports administrator VK Malhotra was ‘unanimously’ named as the acting president.

The swift action to end Kalmadi’s reign as the supremo was taken by the IOA officials in a meeting chaired by Malhotra himself, citing clause 13B of the constitution which empowers the vice-president to take interim charge in the absence of the president.

Malhotra said he will call a meeting of the IOA Executive Board at the earliest in consultation with the Secretary General Randhir Singh, who is out of town, and discuss the situation arising out of the arrest of Kalmadi.

“IOA constitution is very clear, there cannot be vacuum and work of the IOA will have to continue. So I have accepted to work as the acting president of the IOA,” Malhotra told reporters after the meeting.

“I will call a meeting of the Executive Committee as soon as possible which is prescribed under the constitution.  Secretary General (Randhir Singh) is returning to Delhi and after consulting him I will call a meeting of the Executive Board. We will discuss all the issues at length in the Board meeting,” he said.

Kalmadi, former Commonwealth Games Organising Committee chairman, was yesterday arrested by CBI for allegedly awarding a contract for the mega event to a Swiss company at an inflated rate of Rs 141 crore in a “pre-meditated” manner.

But, the haste shown in removing Kalmadi came as a surprise to many of the IOA office bearers, particularly when its Secretary General Randhir Singh was out of station.

It was not clear whether the meeting, where 15 members are said to have attended, has legal validity. The IOA officials, however, maintained that senior members were consulted over telephone before taking the decision to appoint Malhotra as acting president.

Vice President Tarlochan Singh, who was also present at the meeting, said that many of the members could not be present at the conclave because of the short notice but they have consulted them on phone.

“Under Article 13B of IOA constitution, the senior vice president will chair all the meeting during the absence of the president. In case of the long absence of the president, the senior vice president will discharge all the responsibilities of the president. So we have decided to appoint Mr Malhotra as the acting president,” Tarlochan said.

The IOA’s Executive Board is scheduled to meet here on May 1 to discuss the sports ministry’s National Sports Draft Bill and that forum could be used to discuss the future course of action.

The IOA administrators are to meet the sports ministry officials to discuss the Bill on May 2 as per the date given by the ministry.

“Since we are scheduled to meet on May 1 though for some other purpose, it is very much possible that we will discuss Kalmadi’s arrest and future course of action,” the source said.

When contacted, Secretary General Randhir Singh said that he will be reaching Delhi later in the day. “I will be reaching soon and will take of the situation. No meeting has been called yet,” Randhir told PTI.

The sports ministry had yesterday asked the IOA to appoint a new president since a person who has been chargesheeted or jailed should not head any organisation.

The ministry had also said that it will take legal opinion on whether to take action on its own in case the IOA refuses to adhere to its directive.

The IOA has been left in a disarray with the arrest of Kalmadi who had considerable clout within the organisation.  With his two trusted aides Lalit Bhanot and V K Verma also in jail in connection with the CWG scam, the leadership vacuum is felt even more.

As per the IOA constitution, a person can be removed from his post with a two-third majority in the General Body.

As per the IOA structure, there is only one senior vice president while there are as many as 12 vice presidents which include politicians like J S Gehlot, Abhay Singh Chautala, Jagdish Tytler, Bhubneshwar Kalita and Tarlochan Singh among others.

Randhir Singh is the only general secretary and N Ramachandran the treasurer while there are six joint secretaries, including Bhanot. The executive committee comprises 19 members.

The idea of having a huge representation is to ensure that all the national federations are represented in the highest decision making body. PTI

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