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20100717

Pakistan serious about normalising ties with India: Qureshi

A day after his tirade against India, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi today toned down his rhetoric saying Pakistan is very serious about normalising bilateral ties and stressed that the decision to continue talks is a "good augury". "We are very serious about normalising our relations with India. I met with my Indian counterpart in Islamabad just day before yesterday. We agreed to embark on a sustained dialogue process. The decision to continue the talks is a good augury," said Qureshi. Emphasising that normal relation between Pakistan and India will have far-reaching salutary effects for South Asia and beyond, he said: "Pakistan will do its utmost to make this happen". "For too long, Pakistan and India have been entangled in a relationship of conflict. It is high time our two countries engage, with full sincerity of purpose, to resolve all bilateral disputes and make a new beginning of normal relations anchored in sovereign equality and mutual interest," Qureshi said in his opening remarks at a meeting of officials of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan (FODP) forum. The talks between Qureshi and Indian Foreign Ministry S.M. Krishna on Thursday ended in a deadlock over Pakistan raking up human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir and India's insistence that Pakistan give a timeframe for completing trial of the 26/11 terrorists. At a press conference in Islamabad, Qureshi Friday took potshots at Krishna and launched a broadside against what he called India's "selective focus on terror". He even said the "Indian foreign minister received foreign policy directions from New Delhi repeatedly during our meeting".

One day I will win over the Chinese, says Dalai Lama

Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama has again expressed his firm belief that one day he would win over the Chinese leaders to gain genuine autonomy for the people living in Tibet, but reiterated that he was not seeking separation from China. "You know, I have my mantra, we are not seeking independence, and the Chinese have their own mantra, Tibet is part of China," the Nobel Peace laureate said in an interview, according to a post on the website of the Tibetan government-in-exile today. "I believe the middle path will come true. In the last 60 years, the same one party system has changed, the obvious big change today is Chinese communist has changed to capitalist communist," he said. "Thinking is changing, great possibility our middle way approach will come true. But very gradually, very slowly, if I remain alive for the next 10 to 15 years, I can see, if I die tomorrow, I can't see the change," he said. The Dalai Lama also said: "Tibet is not an issue of Dalai Lama's institution, it's about the well-being of six million Tibetan people and their rights. So long as these rights do not materialise, then the movement to realise the just cause of Tibet will remain, whether I am alive or not. Important is Buddhism and Tibetan culture, not the institution of Dalai Lama." Expressing his great hope over the realisation of his middle-path approach in resolving the issue of Tibet, the Dalai Lama, 75, said "the preservation of Tibet's ancient culture, language and religion is key to achieve the goal". The Dalai Lama has been seeking greater autonomy for Tibetans rather than complete independence. However, the Chinese view him as a hostile element bent on splitting Tibet from China. Beijing frowns upon meetings between the Dalai Lama and foreign leaders. The Dalai Lama along with many of his supporters fled Tibet and took refuge in India when Chinese troops moved in and took control of Lhasa in 1959. He has ever since been heading the Tibetan government-in-exile from here, which is not recognised by any country in the world.

Karunanidhi wants assessment of Sri Lankan Tamils' rehabilitation

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi has suggested sending an Indian envoy to Sri Lanka to assess the progress on rehabilitation of Tamils living in refugee camps in the island nation. In his letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh dated July 17, Karunanidhi said: "I would like to suggest that Government of India, through diplomatic sources or by sending a special envoy, may assess the real situation in the affected areas and the progress of rehabilitation measures so far undertaken by the Sri Lankan government...." He said that India may also try to get information on "the time-frame for completing the process of resettlement to the satisfaction of the affected persons. This will enable us to plan the future course of action with a view to ensure peaceful and rightful livelihood of the displaced Tamils". On July 9, Singh in his letter to Karunanidhi had invited his views and advice "on ways forward towards the process of genuine reconciliation to resolve the ethnic issue in Sri Lanka once and for all through political agreement that we have consistently advocated". Pointing out that the DMK has been advocating the cause of the Sri Lankan Tamils right from the year 1956, Karunanidhi's letter notes that the issue needs short and long term solutions. The letter cites the denial of permission to Lankan Tamils to return to their native places even though a year has passed since the internal strife ended. "Though the Government of India have sanctioned a financial assistance of Rs.500 crore for the purpose of rehabilitation long back, it is sad that the rehabilitation measures have not progressed at the expected level," he said. "Consequently, the displaced people continue to undergo the ordeal of camp life," the letter noted.

US housing complex in racial row against Indians

The US Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against an apartment complex in Washington state for racial discrimination against Indians who were even told to "go back" to their country. The lawsuit against Summerhill Place Apartments, a 268-unit apartment complex in Renton, accuses them of violating the Fair Housing Act by discriminating on the basis of race, colour, national origin and familial status in the rental of apartments. The suit filed on Friday alleges, among other things, that the defendants steered Indian tenants away from one of the five buildings at Summerhill, treated tenants from India less favourably than other tenants, and discouraged African Americans, Hispanics and families with children from living at Summerhill. The owner and management of apartment complex instructed its staff not to show new or renovated apartments to people from India, Hispanics and African Americans, it says. The company and its staff engaged in discriminating against Indian tenants by not replacing their carpets or their broken appliances, while providing such services to other tenants, the law suit alleges. It also alleges that one or more Indian tenants were told that their children cannot play outside and that they should take them to park to play. They were also allegedly told to "go back to India" if they could not learn how to work their appliances and faced other derogatory comments about their national origin. The suit seeks monetary damages for those harmed by the defendants' actions, civil penalties and a court order barring future discrimination. "Few things are more fundamental to success and happiness than having a safe place to live. Fair and equal access to housing is a cornerstone of our society," said US attorney for the western district of Washington Jenny A. Durkan. "Apartment owners must ensure that their managers treat all tenants and potential tenants, in a fair and equitable manner without regard to race, national origin or whether they have children. "The US attorney's Office oill actively pursue these cases with the goal of fairness and equity for all," Durkan said. "Equal access to housing in the United States is a fundamental right, and this nation will not tolerate discrimination in housing," said Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas E. Perez.

'Why talk to India if it doesn't consider Kashmir disputed'

Expressing wonder at the "fixation" of Pakistani leaders on a dialogue with "arch-enemy" India, an editorial in a Pakistani Urdu paper today said there was no sense in talking if India did not consider Kashmir a "disputed area". Instead of trying to push for the resumption of the Composite Dialogue, it would be much better to support the ongoing struggle of the "oppressed" Kashmiri people, an editorial in Nawa-i-Waqt said. It also said the current time was best to wrest control of Kashmir by force as "no other options would work with India" and the "opportunity should not be wasted". It noted that "even the Indian Army chief had admitted that force had little hope of holding Kashmir". "If need be, we can use our nuclear capability to deter the cowardly Indians," the editorial titled "Laaton ka bhoot baaton se kaise manega? (What effect will words have on someone used to blows)". Citing Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi's press conference on Friday where he spoke about his talks with his Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna in Islamabad Thursday, the editorial said if Qureshi really felt that Krishna had a "limited mandate" for talks and was only harping on the issue of terrorism and the 26/11 Mumbai attack, "then what were the issues that kept them talking for more than six hours". The editorial termed an "insult" Krishna's insistence, in the joint press conference with Qureshi, that Kashmir was "an inalienable part of India, it had a lawfully elected government under the Indian constitution, and that Pakistan was infiltrating terrorists across the Line of Control since the past two years to disturb law and order". It castigated Qureshi, terming as "eminently regrettable" his lack of response when Krishna made "such claims on Pakistan soil". The editorial said there was no sense in talking to India when it "refused to implement the UN resolutions on Kashmir or release Pakistan's share of river water". It accused India of "harbouring aggressive designs on Pakistan" and said "it had never come to terms with Pakistan's existence and always remained engrossed in and never giving up any effort to do it harm". "When it engages in discussions with us, India wants Pakistan to give up its support to the Kashmiri people, under the pretext of trade, flood our markets with Indian goods and turn us into a market for Bollywood films," it said, adding India always wanted Pakistan to be weak so that it could, with America's blessing, take over the country to achieve its "dream of Akhand Bharat". The editorial claimed that Pakistan should refrain from returning to the days of "Commando General Pervez Musharraf" when the government was almost on the verge of "handing Kashmir over to India on a plate" only to earn the goodwill of the United States.

It is just another match for me, says Muralitharan

World record holder spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, on the eve of his last cricket Test, said today that it was just another match for him. The first Test of the three-match series against India starts on Sunday in this sea side town that has always been special for Muralitharan. "I can't say it's a big match. Just another match and it is going to be the last match for me. I have been happy with the way I have played in the last 18-19 years. Hopefully, I will do well and get a good result for Sri Lanka and retire very well. That's the whole plan," Muralitharan, who is eight wickets short of 800 Test wickets, said at the pre-match press conference. But Muralitharan is not thinking too much about the figures, he wants to enjoy for one last time. "If I do not get a single wicket or if I get five wickets, I will (still) be very happy. I will try all my tricks in the middle for the last time. Let's see if it works or not. I am going to really enjoy the game rather than think about how many wickets I am going to need. Just enjoy the game and not put much pressure on myself," he said. All the stands at the Galle International Stadium have placards bearing the name of this legendary Sri Lankan cricketer. But Muralitharan is not overwhelmed by the atmosphere. "I would like to thank the cricket board and the groundsman (Jayananda Warnaweera) for arranging such a great thing in Galle. It is a great honour for me to retire like this," he said. Muralitharan admits that he never expected a grand farewell. "I never dreamt I would be finishing like this. I think I had a great finish because I have done very well in Test cricket. You can't get the record easily; so many people have tried and I am the best at the moment. Because of that, I have no regrets. "God has given me everything, I am fulfilled with that. I am not sad, I am very happy with what I have achieved and I am glad I am going out in a good manner because people are not asking me to go. They are asking me to stay. Still I want to go because this is the manner I want to go out in. I am not dreaming about any past performance or anything. I am thinking only about the next match, finish well and retire properly," he said. Muralitharan said he will try all his tricks for the last time to spin Sri Lanka to a win. "If I could take eight in the first innings, Sri Lanka will win easily. It is not going to be easy, they have such a good batting line-up. I will try all my tricks in the middle for the last time. Let's see if it works or not. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I am going to really enjoy the game rather than thinking about how many wickets I am going to need. Just enjoy the game and not put much pressure on myself. If I didn't get a single wicket or if I take five wickets, I will be very happy," he said.

Impossible to break Murali's record: Warne

Australian spin wizard Shane Warne feels that his greatest rival Muttiah Muralitharan's world record of almost 800 Test wickets will never be beaten. Warne admitted that he had a few problems over the legality of Muralitharan's controversial action, but said that the Sri Lankan was one of the game's great competitors. Warne retired with 708 Test wickets and Murali, with 792 and one more match against India, has a chance to finish with 800 wickets. Warne feels that Murali's record will stand for ever. "I don't think it will ever be broken. Even though so much more Test cricket is played these days, I think Murali's record will stand for a long, long time and probably forever," Warne was quoted as saying by the media. "You just have to work it out by numbers - for that record to be broken someone has to play 140-150 Tests and take 5-6 wickets a Test. That will take some doing." Warne said that it was "unfortunate" the Sri Lankan had "always been dogged by drama" over his rubber-wristed action. Warne also felt that Muralitharan was never a chucker. "Murali's action has been passed by scientific tests... I always thought it was probably legitimate," he said. "But because of the way he bowled, I was worried that young spinners would try to copy his action and end up bowling illegally." Warne feels cricket will lose one of its great competitors. "Murali simply loved bowling - he loved a challenge (and) was fantastic for the game. Sometimes he would pick my brain about different things and, although we always tried to outdo each other, we always got on well," he said.

Football used in World Cup final fetches 48,000 pounds

The soccer ball used in the final match of the FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa was sold for 48,200 pounds in an online auction. The ball made by sports kit maker Adidas was one of those used in the final between Spain and the Netherlands played in Johannesburg. According to the auctioneer eBay, the controversy around the ball - with complaints about its movement through the air - has fuelled interest, the media reported today. "Unique pieces of sporting memorabilia have always been extremely popular on eBay," said Ruth Szyszkowski of the website. "The interest in this particular piece seems not only heightened by the controversy surrounding it, but also the proceeds benefiting such a great cause." Adidas said the World Cup ball's "radical grip 'n' groove" technology, tested by scientists at Loughborough University, allowed "exceptionally stable flight and perfect grip under all conditions". But the ball, named "Jabulani" from the Zulu word for "to celebrate", was criticised by some players. A total of 133 bids were placed from 55 international bidders, a spokesman said. Though it was not known who bought the ball, Adidas later said a group of Spanish fans made the highest bid.

Subhiksha may be probed for fraud

nRetail chain Subhiksha may be probed by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) for misleading ICICI Venture on the actual financial condition of the company, union minister Salman Khurshid said today. The corporate affairs minister said the report of Registrar of Companies (ROC) on the the retail chain may be sent to SFIO. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a seminar here, Khurshid said: "Passing something on to the SFIO is not a judgement. The report will reach me once I go back to Delhi." Debt-laden Subhiksha was subject to ROC's investigation on a complaint by ICICI Venture that had invested in the retail chain. Meanwhile addressing a seminar on 'Informed Investor - An Asset to Corporate India', organised by the Southern Chamber of Commerce and ministry of corporate affairs, Khurshid said there is a need to educate the common man on capital market. According to him, a guide on investing will be published in 14 regional languages so that the common man understands the capital market.

One tiny satellite in space, whiz kids plan two more

Ignited by their maiden success in placing a tiny satellite in the polar orbit early this week, its young pioneers are raring to launch two more satellites into space. "The successful launch and placing of our first pico-satellite (StudSat) in the earth's lower orbit has inspired us to build two similar satellites for the next launch," the project's core member G. Kartik told the media here. Riding piggy back on India's advanced remote sensing satellite Cartosat-2B and three other satellites, the 850-gm cubical StudSat was launched onboard the polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV-C15) Monday by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) from its spaceport Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, about 80 km northeast of Chennai. "We were thrilled to see the 44-metre tall rocket soaring into a clear sky with our first experimental satellite as the smallest payload and were excited when we learnt that it was successfully placed in the designated polar sun synchronous orbit 630 km away from the earth, 22 minutes after a perfect lift-off," Kartik recalled. Kartik, who graduated in B.E. (mechanical) this year from Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology (NMIT) in this tech hub, is part of the 14-member core team, which designed and built the satellite with a CMOS camera in it and four small solar panels mounted on it to generate energy for orbiting over the next 12 months. The complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) is a chip that holds data without external power source. "Our joy knew no bounds when we received the first signal from StudSat at 11.02 a.m., about 70 minutes after the launch, at the ground station we have set up in the institute campus. Since then, we are getting the beacon signal all the time to indicate that the satellite's health parameters are normal," project leader Chetan Angadi said. The country's first pico-satellite project team was formed in January 2009 as a consortium with about 40 under-graduates from four engineering colleges from Karnataka and three from Andhra Pradesh under the aegis of the state-run Indian space agency. "The objective of the project was to educate college students about space technology and encourage them to build mini satellites with the required infrastructure, including a communication link and a ground station to capture the images of the earth with a 90-metre resolution and receive the telemetry data," Kartik said. Though StudSat is orbiting over the earth's twin polar regions (north and south) and crosses Bangalore four-five times a day, emitting the signal at a frequency of 437.05 megahertz (MHz), it is yet to stabilise in the sun synchronous orbit to switch on its camera. "When the camera is switched on after the satellite's solar panels are fully charged by next week, it will perform remote sensing and capture images of the surface of the earth with the 90-metre resolution, which will be the best achieved by any pico-satellite in the world," said Angadi, a B.E. graduate in electronics. The images will be able to determine the conditions of the landmass, its vegetation, moisture content or dryness in the soil for agriculture and other farming activity. As the country's smallest operational satellite, StudSat gave the students hands-on experience in space technology and to design, fabricate and build it under the supervision of ISRO project director for small satellites D.V.A. Raghava Murthy. "The satellite was built at a cost of Rs.55 lakh and the support infrastructure to track and monitor it at Rs.60 lakh. Our institute (NMIT) funded the entire project cost," Angadi said. Going forward, many of the members associated with the project have decided to continue with the institute to build the next two satellites that will have two-three additional instruments for astronomical, atmospheric and terrestrial studies, including terrain mapping. "We will begin work on the next project after StudSat becomes fully operational and stabilises in its functions. Though designed with a six-month life span, we are hoping it will last at least a year," Kartik added.

Kerala's CPI-M, Jairam Ramesh in face-off over theme park

Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh appears to have rubbed Kerala's ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) the wrong way by ordering a CPI-M-controlled society to close down a profitable theme park in Kannur district for violating environmental laws. Ramesh today warned that "appropriate action" would be taken if the CPI-M-controlled society, which runs the theme park built in a mangrove forest, does not shut it down. The minister's comment comes a day after the Kannur district committee of the CPI-M refused to close down the park. Ramesh told reporters here Saturday that the government will have to take "appropriate action" if coastal regulations are violated. The theme park is run by the Pappinissery Eco-Tourism Society in the northern Kerala district of Kannur. The park has been constructed on tidal flats, mangroves and abandoned filtration ponds. The society had planned shops, observation points and floating restaurants within the park. Bridges, jetties and roads were being constructed near the park and diesel generators had also been installed. However, the Environment and Forests Ministry last week ordered the park to be closed down following a report by an experts panel, appointed by the ministry, citing "serious flaws" in the park. CPI-M Kannur district committee secretary P. Sashi alleged on Friday that Ramesh was acting at the behest of Congress leader and Kannur MP K. Sudhakaran, who filed a complaint against the park, based on which the expert panel had been appointed. "Don't expect us to shut the park simply on an order from Jayaram Ramesh. He took the decision at the instance of his friend Sudhakaran," P. Sashi told reporters on Friday and stated that the party "was not supposed to take orders from him". The ministry's order says: "The inquiry team has found serious flaws. The park is functioning in violation of Coastal Regulation Zone Notification of 1991. So it has to stop all its activities immediately." Sudhakaran on Friday alleged that the park, built on encroached riverbed in the Pappinissery panchayat, was threatening the state's dying natural mangrove forests. The Environment and Forests Ministry has sought a report on the matter from the chairman of the Kerala State Coastal Zone Management Authority in 15 days.

BJP to submit 100 million signatures against inflation

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today said it will submit 100 million signatures against price rise to President Pratibha Patil on July 29 during the monsoon session of parliament. BJP national general secretary Vijay Goel said in a statement released here that the campaign is an effort to expose the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government for being undeterred by public opinion after the nationwide shutdown against price rise on July 5. "Ten crore people have come forward and put their signature on this campaign, protesting price rise," he added. Goel said the people of India are reeling under price hike as Congress continues undeterred to ignore the common man on whose votes they came to power. Once again criticising the "economist prime minister", Goel said: "It is shocking that during the administration of an economist prime minister, the country is suffering from high inflation and he is completely silent on the issue." "The BJP demands Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to break his silence and tell people what steps he and his government are taking to curb price rise. Or are these assurances just a hoax," he said.

Muslims won't forgive Mulayam easily: Amar

NEW DELHI: Expelled Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh on Saturday dubbed as a "tactic" Mulayam Singh Yadav's apology to Muslims for taking support of former BJP leader Kalyan Singh in Lok Sabha polls and said the minority community will not forgive the SP chief so easily.

"I came to know from the newspapers about the tactic adopted by the former wrestler (Mulayam) by apologising to the Muslims...when our wrestler created a political cocktail by shaking hands with the person who demolished the Babri mosque (reference to then UP chief minister Kalyan Singh), people did not tolerate this," Singh said in his latest blog posting. He said getting rid of the "stigma" would not be easy to remove for the Samajwadi Party supremo.

Singh claimed that despite Mayawati becoming the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh on three occasions with BJP's support and campaigning with Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, Muslims have supported the BSP.

"But they are not ready to forgive the person whom they used to call Mullah Mulayam even though he has committed a single mistake," Singh said adding that "hatred runs as deep as love".

He said pro-Kalyan Singh slogans raised by top SP leaders at their Agra convention last year have got "etched" into the minds of the Muslims. "They made him wear a red (SP) cap and appreciated him from stage...only Mulayam Singh Yadav is responsible for getting close to Kalyan Singh," he said.

Interestingly, Amar Singh was accused by several SP leaders of being instrumental in bringing Kalyan close to the party Amar said if Mulayam was serious about the apology, then it could be termed as a case of "better late than never. But if it is a move to garner Muslim votes, then I advise him against doing so."
source: agency

Naidu, colleagues refuse to take bail

NANDED/HYDERABAD: Tension prevailed in Dharmabad town of Nanded district in Maharashtra as a group staged a protest against Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N Chandrababu Naidu and his party colleagues, who remained in police custody for the second day on Saturday and refused to take bail.

A large number of policemen were deployed at Dharmabad Industrial Training Institute (ITI) as the Babli Samrakshana Samiti staged a protest demanding that Naidu and the 75 other TDP leaders go back.

Police baton charged the protesters and arrested them as they tried to barge into the ITI premises raising slogans against the Andhra leaders.

Additional forces were mobilized at the ITI amid reports that police were planning to shift TDP leaders to Nanded jail. The TDP leaders, however, resisted the attempts to shift them.

Police have refused to allow Naidu and other leaders to visit the Babli dam being built by Maharashtra across Godavari river. Andhra's main opposition party has alleged that the dam was being constructed illegally and it would deprive Andhra of its rightful share of waters.

Naidu and others, who were arrested on Friday for trying to enter Maharashtra despite ban orders, refused to take bail. The leaders, including MPs, state legislators and former ministers were produced before a magistrate who visited the ITI. They, however, refused to seek bail and made it clear that they would not leave Maharashtra till they were allowed to inspect the Babli dam.

The arrested leaders spent Friday night at the ITI. The TDP leaders here said Naidu and others, including women, slept on mats.

The arrested leaders have not been provided basic facilities but they are determined to continue their protest. Naidu has also decided to lodge a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission against the Maharashtra government.

The TDP leaders were arrested on the Andhra-Maharashtra border on Friday afternoon when they tried to enter Maharashtra to inspect Babli. The former Andhra Pradesh chief minister argued that he had the democratic right to visit any place in the country.

The TDP alleged that its leaders were arrested by the Maharashtra police with deceit. They were taken in a police vehicle with the promise that they would be shown the project but the vehicle was diverted to the Dharmabad ITI.

Maharashtra home minister R R Patil on Friday evening spoke to Naidu over phone and advised him to return to Andhra Pradesh but the latter refused to leave unless he and other leaders were allowed to visit Babli and other projects.

Meanwhile, the TDP continued protests in different parts of Andhra Pradesh against Naidu's arrest. The party activists staged protests outside the offices of district collectors on Saturday.

Shiv Sena activists held for vandalising news channel office

KOLHAPUR (Maharashtra): A Shiv Sena legislator and eight party workers were arrested on Saturday on charges of vandalising the office here of a news channel and assaulting a Kannada leader, police said.

Legislator Rajesh Kshirsagar and his party workers on Friday ransacked the office of Zee 24 Taas, a Marathi news channel. They also assaulted Kannada Rakshana Vedika leader Syed Mansoor.

"We have arrested Kshirsagar and eight workers of Shiv Sena for vandalising and destroying private property of the news channel and assaulting a person," senior police inspector Gyaneshwar Munde said.

The mob was angry about a live show on the channel on the Maharashtra-Karnataka border issue. They shouted slogans against the channel for inviting guest speakers from Karnataka and also damaged Mansoor's vehicle.

"All nine have been presented in the local court," Munde said.
source: agency

German minister lashes out at Facebook

BERLIN: A German minister has sharply criticized Facebook's privacy policy and accuses the social networking site of breaching the law.

Consumer protection minister Ilse Aigner told German news weekly Focus the company must stop saving personal data about people who are not using the network.

She told the magazine's Monday edition, "It poses me a problem if Facebook's profits are partly based on breaching existing laws."

The minister added that it collects data such as phone numbers saved in its users' devices, thereby gathering personal information of people who never agreed to share it.

German data protection officials last week launched legal proceedings against Facebook for illegally accessing and saving personal data of people who don't use the site.
source: agency

Several injured in two low-intensity blasts in Lahore

LAHORE: Two low intensity blasts went off in separate areas of this eastern Pakistani city today, injuring several persons, officials said.

The first explosion occurred shortly after 4 pm at an internet cafe near a cinema hall in the Garhi Shahu area.

State-run rescue service spokesman Fahim Jahanzeb told PTI at least two persons were injured by the blast.

The explosion caused widespread damage to the internet cafe. The second blast occurred minutes later at a juice shop in Begum Kot, located about 15 km from Garhi Shahu area.

Police claimed a battery had exploded in a shop. Rescue workers rushed the injured in Garhi Shahu, a congested residential area, to nearby hospitals. Authorities also evacuated the area.

Geo News channel reported that some journalists had received an SMS message that there would be three blasts in Lahore today. It did not say who had sent the message.

Indo-Pak talks have not collapsed: Nirupama Rao

NEW DELHI: Foreign secretary Nirupama Rao on Saturday rebuffed Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi's claim that his Indian counterpart had supported him in his criticism of home secretary GK Pillai, saying "India did not express any agreement with Pakistan's comments on Pillai".

Rao also lent support to Pillai's statement ahead of the Islamabad talks that Pakistani spy agency Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) had a significant role in the Mumbai terror attack, saying that India is definitely concerned about ISI's role in 26/11.

"We are definitely concerned about the role of state actors in terrorism," Rao told a news channel in an interview.

In an interview, Pillai had stated that Lashkar-e-Taiba agent David Headley's questioning by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had confirmed that "ISI had a much more significant role to play in the Mumbai attacks..."

"ISI was literally controlling and coordinating the attacks from the beginning till the end," Pillai had stated.

The Indian foreign secretary reiterated that the talks between the two nations had not collapsed.

"There are differences in perception, but the gap is not unbridgeable," she said.

Rao said that the tone and tenor of Qureshi's remarks could have been better.

"In diplomacy, as in life, such ups and downs are common," she said.

In another TV interview on Friday night, Rao had stressed that the India-Pakistan talks had not "collapsed" and the dialogue process between them "must go on".

She had told a news channel that Qureshi's critical remarks about Krishna had come as "a real surprise" for India.

"The comments (by Qureshi) came as a surprise, there was no real reason for the comments," the foreign secretary said.

Qureshi at a press conference in Islamabad took potshots at Krishna and launched a broadside against India's what he called "selective focus on terror". He even said the "Indian foreign minister received foreign policy directions from New Delhi repeatedly during our meeting".

Qureshi's U-turn: Pak 'very serious' about normalizing ties

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan appears to have piped down today after two days of acrimony with India with its leaders saying they wanted continuation of the bilateral dialogue and that they are serious about normalisation of Indo-Pak ties.

Both Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi made conciliatory statements today against the backdrop of the war of words between the two sides after talks between their Foreign Ministers on Thursday failed to make any headway.

Gilani, who described Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as an "honourable man", said "Pakistan wants the continuation of dialogue with India. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has assured me that all issues will be discussed."

Speaking on the sidelines of a function in Lahore he said, "We want talks, they (India) too want talks. When talks are held, we will discuss all issues. At this stage, I cannot say anything in the air.

He was responding to a question on the talks between the foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Indian counterpart S M Krishna.

Gilani said Singh had assured him that all issues between the two countries would be discussed, an apparent reference to the meeting between the two in Thimphu on the sidelines of the SAARC summit in April.

In Islamabad, Qureshi, who had yesterday blamed India for lack of progress in the talks, said today that Pakistan is "very serious" about normalizing bilateral ties so that the two sides could make a "new beginning of normal relations."

Qureshi said, "We are very serious about normalizing our relations with India. I met with my Indian counterpart in Islamabad just day before yesterday. We agreed to embark on a sustained dialogue process."

The decision to continue the talks is a "good augury," he said.

"For too long, Pakistan and India have been entangled in a relationship of conflict. It is high time our two countries engage, with full sincerity of purpose, to resolve all bilateral disputes and make a new beginning of normal relations anchored in sovereign equality and mutual interest," he said.

Qureshi said normal relations between Pakistan and India will have "far-reaching salutary effects" for South Asia and beyond.

"Pakistan will do its utmost to make this happen," he said in his opening remarks at a meeting of officials of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan (FODP) forum.

Sharp differences arose during talks between Qureshi and his Indian counterpart S M Krishna here on Thursday over a roadmap and timeframe for future engagements.

The two ministers engaged in verbal jousting after their talks. Qureshi yesterday claimed that the parleys had not gone well because Krishna repeatedly received instructions from New Delhi during the talks.

"It is the nature of India-Pakistan talks that whenever there is progress, there is always a last-minute hitch. There was no hitch from Pakistan's side," Qureshi said yesterday.

Krishna rejected Pakistan's contention that India was not ready to discuss all issues and asserted that all "core" and "burning" problems were deliberated upon with the aim of reducing trust deficit.

Qureshi today referred to a wide range of issues during his speech at the FoDP meeting, including the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan's reconstruction efforts in parts of the country affected by militancy and violence.
source: pti

Ahead of final verdict, Sobhraj drops a bombshell

KATHMANDU: As his sensational fight for acquittal in a murder case that put him away for life in Nepal comes to a close this month, Charles Sobhraj has dropped a bombshell, presenting the judges with documents that throw grave doubt over the identity of the victims.

For the first time in the course of the seven-year trial that ran across through several courts, Sobhraj's lawyers have unearthed and presented old police documents that put an entirely different cast on the murder of American tourist Connie Jo Bronzich, whom Sobhraj is accused of having killed in 1975.

The stabbed and badly burnt body of a woman discovered near Kathmandu airport in December 1975 is regarded to be the body of the 31-year-old Bronzich. That is also the assumption made in the several books written on Charles Sobhraj and a host of documentary films. However, the documents submitted to judges Ram Prasad Shah and Gouri Dhakal say the passport carried by the dead woman was not Bronzich's.

Bronzich was issued a passport a week before the murder in Nepal. However, Sobhraj's lawyers have submitted a letter from the American Embassy saying the details in the dead woman's passport do not match those in the one issued to Bronzich. Was it then Bronzich, who travelled to Nepal on a fake passport or someone else? If it is someone else, then the case built up by police that Sobhrah murdered Bronzich for some stones she had bought in India, is bound to collapse.

The murder, Nepal Police believe, is linked to the discovery of another body found in Bhaktapur city the same week. In their arguments, police say it was the body of Bronzich's male companion, a Canadian named Laurent Armand Carriere. Since both were killed the same way, Bishwambhar Shrestha, the Kathmandu district court judge who convicted Sobhraj of Bronzich's murder in 2004, concluded in his judgement that they were committed by the same person.

However, Sobhraj's lawyers have submitted documents from the Bhaktapur police's crime register that say the other body was than of an “unidentified foreign woman, probably American”, Yet police later told three courts that Carriere's brother travelled to Nepal to identify him. But they failed to produce any formal documents to prove that the brother had indeed come and identified the body. In fact, a book on Sobhraj – The life and crimes of Charles Sobhraj by Richard Neville and Julie Clarke – says the second body could not be identified and had to be cremated nameless. Ironically, the prosecution has tabled the book as evidence that Sobhraj visited Nepal in 1975 and killed Bronzich and Carriere.

Sobhraj's fiancée indicates a passage in Life and Crimes that says around that time, there were several murders in Kathmandu and it was not safe for people to travel alone. The book also mentions the discovery of a headless body. Sobhraj's lawyers say the two killings could have been perpetrated by the same killer or gang.

Sobhraj has therefore welcomed the fortnightly delay announced by the two judges to deliver the final judgement. “It means they are going through all the documents we submitted,” he said in a message sent to TNN. "There are incredible contradictions by police and lack of evidence. We have emphaised that in the final argument given in writing and we hope they will be taken note of."
source: tnn

British MP says he won't meet veiled Muslim women

LONDON: A Conservative MP has drawn flak from Muslims in Britain for saying he will refuse to meet women wearing the full Islamic dress in his constituency unless they lift their veil.

Muslim groups have condemned Philip Hollobone, the MP from Kettering, saying he is being pedantic.

In an interview with The Independent, Hollobone said: "I would ask her to remove her veil. If she said: 'no', I would take the view that she could see my face, I could not see hers, I am not able to satisfy myself she is who she says she is. I would invite her to communicate with me in a different way, probably in the form of a letter."

He went on to claim that Islamic scholars or clerics do not say that wearing the 'burka' or 'niqab' is a religious requirement. "It is not a necessity," he said.

Hollobone was in the news a fortnight ago when he moved a Private Member's Bill in Parliament to ban women wearing the 'burka' or 'niqab' in public. He hopes that other European nations would follow the example of France which this week banned the wearing of the full-face veil in public.

Shaista Gohir, executive director of the Muslim Women's Network UK, said: "He is just being pedantic and trying to fan the flames of intolerance. He would be failing in his duty as an MP."

Arzu Merali, head of research at the Islamic Human Rights Commission, argued that people should have the right to expect non-discrimination and equality.

Rajnara Akhthar, a PhD student researching Muslim communities in Britain and the law, wrote in the newspaper: "It would fuel the mounting intolerance that some Muslim communities are facing, and provide fodder for groups like the BNP (British National Party) and the English Defence League whose entire constitutions seem to be concerned with purging Britain of Muslims. Those who are seeking to propose a ban are seriously fanning the flames of extreme intolerance."

Omar Abdullah meets Chidambaram

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today met union Home Minister P. Chidambaram at his residence here to discuss "the way forward" to bring peace in the the troubled state.

"We discussed the latest situation in Jammu and Kashmir. The meeting was about to discuss how to equip the state police and the paramilitary forces with a technique to control crowd so that no innocent people are killed in protests," Abdullah told reporters after the meeting.

He said the meeting was about the latest development in the state and "my visit was to see what all we need to do in the coming days".

Asked about the pulling back of the army from the Srinagar roads, Abdullah said the army was a "part of state's counter-insurgency grid. It is also part of necessary deployment on the LoC (Line of Control). There is no other role for the army in Kashmir".

About 14 civilians have been killed in police firing in Jammu and Kashmir.

Abdullah, who arrived in Delhi this morning, is also likely to meet Defence Minister A.K. Antony later in the day.

Naidu, TDP leaders remain in police custody

Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N. Chandrababu Naidu and his party colleagues, who were arrested for trying to enter Maharashtra to visit the disputed Babli project, continued to remain in police custody today in Nanded district.

The police will produce them before a magistrate but the leaders have decided not to seek bail.

Seventy-five TDP leaders, including MPs, state legislators and former ministers, spent on Friday night at the Dharmabad Industrial Training Institute (ITI) and refused to leave Maharashtra till they were allowed to inspect the Babli dam on the Godavari river. They alleged that Maharashtra was building the project ignoring the directions of the Supreme Court and the Central Water Commission.

TDP leaders here said Naidu and others, including women, slept on mats in the ITI. The arrested leaders have not been provided basic facilities but they are determined to continue their protest. Naidu has also decided to lodge a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission against the Maharashtra government.

The TDP leaders were arrested on Andhra-Maharashtra border Friday afternoon when they tried to enter Maharashtra to inspect Babli. The former Andhra Pradesh chief minister argued that he had the democratic right to visit any place in the country.

Maharashtra had mobilised police force and imposed prohibitory orders around Babli to foil the march by the TDP leaders. The opposition party alleged that their leaders were arrested by the Maharashtra Police with deceit. They were taken in a police vehicle with the promise that they would be shown the project but the vehicle was diverted to the Dharmabad ITI.

Maharashtra Home Minister R.R. Patil on Friday evening spoke to Naidu over phone and advised him to return to Andhra Pradesh but the latter refused to leave unless he and other leaders were allowed to visit Babli and other projects.

Meanwhile, TDP continued protests in different parts of the state against Naidu's arrest. The party has called for staging protests outside the offices of district collectors today.

Yeddyurappa meets Chidambaram over illegal mining row

Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa met union Home Minister P. Chidambaram here today amid an undying crisis over illegal mining in the state and the opposition's demand for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into it.

Yeddyurappa said he briefed the home minister on the issue that has triggered a political crisis in Karnataka following a four-day stand off in the state legislature between the government and the opposition.

"I briefed the home minister about the issue. A lokayukta (ombudsman) has been appointed and he will probe the illegal mining scam," he said, signalling that a CBI probe into the massive illegal iron ore mining in the state was not acceptable to the government.

The opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) are alleging that the Reddy brothers - Tourism Minister G. Janardhana, his elder brother and Revenue Minister G. Karunakara, and younger brother and legislator G. Somashekara - are involved in large-scale illegal mining in Bellary as well as neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.

Yeddyurappa said, "If any of my cabinet ministers is proved guilty, I'll remove them within 24 hours."

The chief minister had earlier also rejected the opposition's demand for a CBI investigation into the scam.

On Friday, Yeddyurappa met Governor H.R. Bhardwaj and conveyed the government's stand against a CBI inquiry into the scam.

Bhardwaj, a former law minister, earlier this week briefed President Pratibha Patil in New Delhi about the illegal mining issue and the steps he has taken to handle it.

He later formally wrote to the chief minister to take action against those indulging in illegal mining and referred a Congress legislator's petition seeking disqualification of the Reddy brothers to the Election Commission.

Sticking to his government's stand of not referring the illegal mining issue to the CBI, Yeddyurappa said he had told the governor that "it is not proper now to entrust the matter to CBI probe. If we do it now, it would further delay the investigation process".

He is is likely to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders later in the day.

Two soldiers hurt in Kashmir gun battle

Two soldiers were injured in a gun battle between security forces and a group of terrorists that entered its fifth day today in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district, army sources said.

After a night-long lull in the Beri Rakh forests in Mendhar, some 230 km from here, the gunfight erupted again Saturday morning. Two soldiers, including a junior commissioned officer, were injured, the sources said.

The army lost Major Amit Thenge in the gun battle on Tuesday night and now the number of injured has risen to 11, including a colonel and a major.

A group of four terrorists had come from across the Line of Control (LoC) that divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan and two of them have been killed, the sources added.

Delhi CM assured of timely completion of CWG projects

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit was on Friday assured by officials of civic agencies and her ministers of timely completion of all the Commonwealth Games-related projects.

Chairing a review meeting to take stock of preparedness of the Games, Dikshit instructed the power companies to paint their transformers and other installations. She also asked officials of civic bodies to ensure a better and uniform look of the city

"The railways have also been instructed to facelift their New Delhi, Old Delhi, Nizamuddin and Anand Vihar stations at the earliest.Dikshit also instructed the concerned agencies to undertake inspections during night time to take stock of street lighting. She also issued instructions to tighten loose ends," said an official, who attended the meeting.

The official said Dikshit was informed that there has been a substantial improvement in debris removal as the Municipal Corporation of Delhi has removed 21,774 tonnes of it within last 12 days.

"It looks that Aug 10 deadline of debris removal would be met easily. It was also reported that re-development of Paharganj and Karol Bagh where a large number of hotels and guest houses are located is in progress and work is going on at a satisfactory pace," he added.

Also, the MTNL has been instructed to take care of restoration of roads while undertaking digging. The Delhi Jal Board has also been asked to make arrangements of drinking water supply in all the venues during the Games.

Delhi Traffic Police has also been asked to submit a comprehensive list of pedestrian crossings and bus bays by July 24 so that Public Works Department can paint pedestrian crossings.

"The traffic police was told that their poles are in bad shape and their barricades have been lying disarranged giving an unpleasant look in the city. Also, the chief minister expressed her displeasure over lack of seriousness being shown by the traffic police as it has been deputing junior level officers in weekly review meetings," the official said.

Army chief should not make political statements: Farooq

Union Minister for Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah today hit out at Army Chief General V.K. Singh for his criticism of the Omar Abdullah government in Jammu and Kashmir, saying the army chief should not make political statements.

"I think the army chief should never make statements. Army chief is there to keep silent and his job is to see that the army is alert and ready, he should not to make political statements and I am totally against any army chief or police chief making political statements. Political statements should come from politicians, who can answer in the assembly and who can answer in parliament," Farooq told the media.

He was responding to Gen Singh telling a news channel last week that the "Kashmir situation has been tense for quite some time and the reasons are many. The basic reason being that we have not been able to build on the gains that have been made."

The former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister also dismissed as totally baseless the speculation that he was going back to the state as chief minister and that his son Omar would move to the centre in his place.

"(It) is totally wrong is totally baseless. I want to make it very clear through your channel that there is no such thing," he said.

"The day I handed over this to him (Omar), I told him very clearly, it is him, the future rests in his hands and he must deliver to the people that I have not been able to deliver," Farooq said.

The National Conference chief also admitted that he had not been able to deliver what he had promised to the people of the state and claimed that his son was making up for what he could not do.

When asked if he saw Omar capable of fulfilling the lapses he left uncovered, Farooq replied, "Yes, I am sure he will do that. I am sure."

'Twilight: Eclipse' to hit over 700 screens in India

After topping the worldwide box office with over $458 million in collections, "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse", the third instalment in the popular vampire series, will hit over 700 screens in India in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu on July 30.

Having released at over 4,416 locations in the US on June 30, making it the widest domestic release, the blockbuster is being released in India by PVR Pictures, the film production and distribution arm of PVR Group.

"'Eclipse' is by far the most awaited Hollywood film in India this summer. We would be releasing 'Eclipse' in more than 700 screens all over the country," Deepak Sharma, worldwide distribution head, PVR Pictures, said in a statement.

PVR also released the first two instalments of Robert Pattinson-Kristen Stewart starrer hit franchise in India - "Twilight" and "The Twilight Saga: New Moon".

Based on Stephanie Meyer?s best selling novel series, "Eclipse" also stars Taylor Lautner, Bryce Dallas Howard, Billy Burke and Dakota Fanning.

The movie shows Pattinson, Lautner and Stewart reprise their roles as vampire Edward Cullen, Werewolf Jacob Black and Bella Swan, respectively.

In the film, Bella finds herself surrounded by danger as Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward and her friendship with Jacob - knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the struggle between vampires and werewolves.

With her graduation quickly approaching, she is confronted with the most important decision of her life.

Mercedes launches like super sports car SLS AMG

Mercedes-Benz India today launched its super sports car SLS AMG, priced between Rs.2 and Rs.2.5 crore (ex-showroom Delhi).

The SLS AMG is powered by a 6.2 litre engine and it can go up to a maximum speed of 317 km per hour.

"It embodies passion, performance, design, technology and engineering excellence values that make us one of the most exciting brands in the world today," said Wilfried Aulbur, CEO, Mercedes-Benz India.

The aviation-inspired sports car, whose doors are designed like gullwing, already has 10 bookings from Mumbai, Delhi, Pune and Ahmedabad.

With this launch, India became the first right hand drive market to have the SLS AMG. The car was showcased in Auto Expo 2010.

Chola MS targets Rs.900 crore premium in 2010-11

City-based non-life insurer Cholamandalam MS is targeting a premium of Rs.900 crore this fiscal and hoping to bring down its underwriting loss (premium minus claims paid), a top company official said today.

"We expect motor insurance to contribute Rs.550 crore to our top line. The remaining will be from other business lines like health, property and others," Managing Director S.S. Gopalarathnam told reporters here.

Chola MS is a 74:26 joint venture between the Murugappa group and the Japanese Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Group.

The company will launch new health and weather insurance policies, said Gopalarathnam.

According to him, the company suffered an underwriting loss of Rs.39 crore last year and the expectation is to bring down it to Rs.15 crore this fiscal.

"Bulk of the underwriting loss is due to our share of motor third party loss from the motor third party pool. Further, we have now exited the group health and overseas travel insurance for those going abroad for jobs," he said.

(Motor insurance premium towards third party liability is remitted by all general insurers to a fund maintained by General Insurance Corporation of India. The loss or profit is shared among the insurers on the basis of their top line.)

Chola MS today launched the facility of buying overseas travel insurance online and hopes to get a sizeable share in the Rs.300 crore market that is logging an annual growth of 20 percent.

"The outbound traffic from India is growing at 20 percent and will reach around 13 million this fiscal end with passengers travelling abroad for tourism, business and studies. Further, more and more ticketing will happen online and travellers will want to buy the travel policies online," he said.

He said the policies bought online will be 15 percent cheaper as there is no agent - insurance or travel- is involved in the buying process.

Chola MS hopes to earn Rs.20 crore from selling travel insurance policies this year up from Rs.15 crore earned last year.

Asked about the sales of online car insurance policies, Gopalarathnam said: "It is catching up. Last month we earned Rs.30 lakh (Rs.3 million) from online sales. By the end of this calendar year we hope to earn rupees one crore from online sales."

The company will soon extend its online presence to the other products like health, home and personal accident.

MCD likely to miss July 31 deadline to complete CWG works

With several projects like streetscaping and other beautification works still to be completed ahead of the Commonwealth Games, the capital's civic agency has decided to miss its July 31 deadline and stretch it into next month.

Earlier this month at a meeting with Delhi government officials and Delhi Finance Minister A.K. Walia, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) had promised to complete all the projects related to the mega event by July 31.

However, most of the works for laying underground cables and drainage works are running behind schedule in most parts of the city, particularly in Karol Bagh and Paharganj.

"The work is getting delayed as agencies like BSES, New Delhi Power Limited (NDPL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) are digging the newly-laid roads for their cable work. Once they finish their work, the MCD will finalise the projects within the time frame," Delhi Mayor Prithvi Raj Sawhney told journalists during a visit to Games sites.

However, an official with the civic body's engineering department, pleading anonymity, said: "The streetscaping and ducting work carried out in Paharganj and Karol Bagh will be completed only by mid-August."

A shop owner in Paharganj area said: "The work for laying cables and drainage started only yesterday (Thursday). They have cut the roads, creating lots of problems for commuters."

Another MCD official said the progress of work undertaken around Delhi University's north campus is also slow. "The improvement of Guru Teg Bahadur Road is 40 percent complete, while that of University Road and Roshanara Road is 50 percent complete. The stretch from Boulevard Road to Bhagwan Dass Chowk and St Stephens Hospital is only 30 percent complete."

The streetscaping project near Thyagraj Stadium, a Games venue, has been completed and the work on Dilip Singh Marg at Siri Fort Complex is nearing completion.

The improvement work on roads around Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Oct 3-14 Games, is nearing completion. Also, the bus parking for athletes at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium at a cost of Rs.320 crore is almost finished. The facility was built in a year after demolishing 10,000 huts, which were present there.

The MCD earlier promised to complete all the Games-related works by June 30 but later extended it till July 31.

However, Sawhney insisted they would try to finish the work by July 31. "We have finished almost 90 percent of the work. The rest of the works is getting delayed only due to various other agencies. We will try to finish by July 31."

5,000 people arrested during FIFA World Cup

Over 5,000 people were arrested and nearly $10 million seized in an operation across Asia targeting illegal soccer gambling during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Interpol said.

The international police agency coordinated a month-long operation from June 11 to July 11, targeting activities linked to organised crime, in which police raided 800 illegal gambling dens in China, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

Cars, bank cards, computers and mobile phones were seized during the operation.

"The results we have seen are impressive, not only in the number of arrests and seizures made across the region in just one month, but in terms of the police cooperation which made this possible," Jean-Michel Louboutin, Interpol's director of police services, was quoted as saying by the media.

"As well as having clear connections to organised crime gangs, illegal soccer gambling is also linked with corruption, money laundering and prostitution," he said.

Interpol, based in Lyon, France, coordinated the operation from its office in Bangkok, Thailand.
source: agency

Spain bids for Paul the octopus

The city aquarium in Madrid has launched an audacious bid to bring the "star" of the 2010 FIFA World Cup - Paul the octopus - to the Spanish capital with a "name your price" offer. The "psychic" octopus had correctly predicted Spain's triumph in the tournament.

In an announcement on its blog, the Madrid Zoo Aquarium said it has begun making "necessary arrangements" for Paul's transfer and that it would try to beat any offer already on the table, CNN reported.

Zoo officials said they were also ready to offer other animals in exchange for the octopus and said Paul could expect the "best care" befitting a national hero.

Paul, currently a resident at the Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen, Germany, not only predicted Spain's win over the Netherlands in the final but also the team's semifinal success against Germany.

It had also correctly predicted all five of Germany's earlier results, and picked Germany to beat Uruguay in the third-place match, ending the tournament with a remarkable eight-on-eight record.

During each prediction, two mussel-filled boxes labelled with a team's flag were lowered into his tank. Whichever box Paul chose conveyed the winning team.

Officials in Oberhausen have, however, announced Paul's retirement from the predictions game but said they were considering a "host of offers from around the globe".
source: agency

Sudhir Mishra, Ketan Mehta felicitated by French government

Bollywood directors Sudhir Mishra and Ketan Mehta have been felicitated by the French government for their contribution to Indian cinema.

The duo were honoured at the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Mishra was presented the insignia of "Arts et Lettres" for "his prolific career and invaluable contribution to the development of Indo-French relationships in the field of cinema".

"I was very busy with the post production and editing of 'Yeh Saali Zindagi? (Mishra's upcoming movie) when I received the news. I feel honoured. It is always a nice feeling when your work gets acknowledged. I am ecstatic. This award is special," said Mishra.

The director is known for making critically acclaimed films like "Is Raat Ki Subah Nahin", "Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi" and "Chameli".

Mehta, known for making historical films like "Sardar", "The Rising" and "Rang Rasiya", was also honoured for his contribution to cinema and Mishra is very happy for his colleague.

"Ketan Mehta deserves this award completely. I have always admired his work," he said.
source: agency

20100716

2.5 million Muslims threaten to leave Facebook

More than 2.5 million Muslims have threatened to quit Facebook after four Islamic pages were taken down, reports said on Friday.

A template letter that has been pasted into numerous Facebook pages accuses founder Mark Zuckerberg and other senior members of Facebook of 'ignoring the feelings of more than 2.5 million Muslims', the Daily Mail reported on its website.

The Muslim community is angry that four extremely popular Islamic pages including 'I love Mohammed' and 'Quran Lovers' were removed from the site and the letter warns that unless the pages are reinstated, Facebook's Muslim users will move to an Islamic alternative.

The letter also demands that new rules are introduced which make it a violation of Facebook's terms to post anti-Islamic comments.

Facebook has been given notice that unless the changes are introduced, 2.5 million Muslim users will leave to join madina.com, a social networking site for Muslims.

The letter reads: 'Although you have attended the world's best communication skills courses you have been most successful in growing great hatred and hostility between you and Muslims around the world, but seriously this time you have caused an almost unrepairable damage.'

It also accuses Facebook of 'irresponsible behaviour' for allowing to host 'Everybody Draw Mohammed Day' pages which sparked controversy for encouraging users to draw portraits of the Prophet.

There is no specific ban on images of Allah or the Prophet Mohammed in the Koran but there is one line which is commonly taken to mean that it is impossible for human hands to recreate his likeness. To attempt to do so would is an insult to Allah, it is believed.

The letter demands that the four deleted pages be reinstated, disrespecting Islamic religious symbols be banned and any Facebook page which does so be disabled.

Madina.com, a social networking site set up specifically for the Muslim community, pledges to abide by the 'highest Islamic principles' and encourages Muslim unity. Female users are asked not to use pictures of themselves as profile pictures.

According to Facebook the four Islamic pages were taken down because they were being used to spam users, which is against the company's policy.

The pages were using a JavaScript code that when entered in the address bar, would add all a user's friends to the page suggestions - making it similar to spamming people across Facebook.

A spokeswoman for Facebook said: 'The pages in question were taken down because they violated our policies about spamming users. These pages were not removed because of content violations.
source: agency

Nano gets costlier by up to Rs 7,000

NEW DELHI: Nano, the world's cheapest car, has just got a tad expensive. Burdened by rising cost of inputs, Tata Motors said it was increasing the prices of the Nano by 3-4%, or by between Rs 3,700 and Rs 6,800 across variants, though the prices remain the same for the first 1 lakh allottees.

The Nano, that has been the only model to escape a price hike even as others saw prices go upwards at least four times to factor in higher commodity prices, will still continue to be the cheapest car in India and abroad. "Despite a steep increase in input prices, Tata Nanos are being priced only 3-4% higher, depending on the model, than the price announced at launch," the company said.

This is the first time that the company has increased the Nano's price since its introduction last March. The base variant of the Nano, the world's cheapest car, was launched at Rs 1.23 lakh at showrooms in New Delhi while the top-end costed Rs 1.72 lakh.
Tata Motors, however, said the hike will not be applicable for the first 100,000 customers who were allotted the car last year, but only for those who weren't selected for the first lot and opted to retain their bookings. Also, new customers of the Nano will have to pay the new prices.

The company said on Friday the quantum of the price increase will wary on different Nano variants.
source: tnn

AIG to pay 725 million dollars to settle US fraud lawsuit

WASHINGTON: US insurance giant AIG has agreed to pay 725 million dollars to settle allegations of market fraud brought by three Ohio pension funds, the state's attorney general said on Friday.

"The settlement resolves allegations of AIG's wide-ranging fraud from October 1999 to April 2005 involving anti-competitive market division, accounting violations and stock price manipulation," the office of attorney general Richard Cordray said in a statement.

Cordray declared the class-action settlement a victory for the "teachers, firefighters, police officers, and public employees," who were "harmed by AIG's misconduct."

The company was accused of accounting fraud designed to boost AIG's reserves to cover claims, a bid-rigging scheme with insurance brokers and executives ordering traders to inflate AIG's stock price.

Cordray said it was the 10th-largest securities class-action settlement in US history.

It is the latest blow to the beleaguered firm, which needed nearly 70 billion dollars in government bailouts to stay afloat after the subprime mortgage crisis.

Earlier this week Harvey Golub resigned as chairman of the board, amid rumors about discord among top executives at the firm.

If the fine wins court approval it will mean AIG investors are entitled to slightly more than one billion dollars in compensation, including settlements with AIG partners General Reinsurance Corporation, PricewaterhouseCoopers and former AIG chief executive Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, the statement said.
source: agency

Auschwitz survivor dances into a row

JERUSALEM: He's a Holocaust survivor dancing with his family on what easily could have been his own grave.

A video clip of Adolek Kohn awkwardly shuffling and shimmying with his daughter and grandchildren to the sound of ‘I Will Survive' at Auschwitz and other sites where millions died during the Holocaust has become an Internet sensation.
It's also sparking debate over whether the images show disrespect for those who perished—or are an exuberant celebration of life. The fight raging on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere, poses uncomfortable questions about how to approach one of history's greatest tragedies: What's the "proper” way to commemorate it? Can a survivor pay homage in a way that might be unthinkable for others?

Adding to the irony, Kohn and his dancing brood owe their fame to neo-Nazi groups who posted the clip on their websites and turned it viral, his daughter told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The video opens with the 89-year-old Kohn, his daughter Jane Korman and three grandchildren dancing near the infamous railroad tracks leading to Auschwitz.

The group then moves to other Holocaust locations across Poland and Germany, including the notorious "Arbeit Macht Frei” (Work sets you free) sign at Auschwitz's entrance, Poland's Lodz ghetto and the Dachau concentration camp. In one eerie shot, with his family behind him, Kohn presses his face to the small opening in a cattle car of the type that transported so many to their deaths. In another, he raises his arms and leads the troupe in a conga line to the pulsating disco beat of the Gloria Gaynor song.

Kohn, shown at one point wearing a white T-shirt emblazoned with the word ‘Survivor' and flashing a V-for-victory sign, told Australia's Nine Network he didn't think the video was offensive because the dance was distinct from the memory of those who died.
source: agency

After 30th surgery, model with biggest breasts fights for life

WASHINGTON: A Brazilian model, who has the largest breasts in the world, is now fighting for her life.

After more than 30 plastic surgeries, Sheyla Hershey suffered her first complication following her most recent breast augmentation procedure in June. A severe staph infection reached both of Hershey’s breasts and doctors recently took her into surgery to remove the implants, and possibly her own breasts.

Hershey says that her surgeon is concerned that the infection could leak into her bloodstream, which could also threaten her life. In May 2008, after 8 operations, Hershey had a recorded breast size of 34FFF. By the end of January 2009, after having another operation in her native Brazil, she was reported to be a size 38KKK.

Hershey travelled to her native Brazil to have her latest operation after US doctors refused to boost the size of her bust. Under US law it is illegal for cosmetic surgeons to place more than a gallon of silicone in implants.
source: agency

Europe sweats in heatwave

MOSCOW: A heat wave across much of Europe is causing crops to wither, forest fires to ignite and roads to melt, while refrigerators and fans are buckling in the searing sun.

From Russia's Urals mountains to western Germany, a week of temperatures hovering stubbornly in the mid-30°C has baked northern parts of Europe, which are usually spared the heat of the Mediterranean — and forecasters are warning of more to come over the next week.

The air-conditioning systems on board the high-speed trains of Germany's national rail operator Deutsche Bahn broke down several times. With locked windows, dozens of passengers were afflicted with heat exhaustion after spending hours trapped in temperatures of up to 50° C.

Drowning deaths were up in Eastern Europe as people flocked to seas, lakes and rivers in search of a break from the blistering heat. A major highway from Prague to Germany had to be closed for several days of repairs, and the Vodochody international airport north of Prague stopped accepting passenger flights after heat damage to the runway.
In the Baltic state of Estonia, several churches were being used as heat shelters. Stores in Finland were running out of fans and air conditioners. The same happened in Hungar.
source: agency

Militants kill 16 passengers in northwest Pakistan

PARACHINAR: Militants armed with assault rifles ambushed a convoy of civilian vehicles killing 16 people Saturday in northwestern Pakistan, the scene of extensive military operations targeting Islamist insurgents.

Several people were also wounded in Saturday's attack in Char Khel village in the troubled tribal region of Kurram. The travelers were heading to the main northwestern city of Peshawar in vehicles when they were ambushed.

Kurram has witnessed scores of such attacks, robberies and kidnappings for ransom in the past three years.

Military offensives have left Pakistan's army tied up in most of the tribal belt, as well as in the Swat Valley, also in the country's northwest. Even after major operations have ended in some of these areas, militant activity has continued.

The army has moved primarily against the Pakistani Taliban network, which is distinct from the Afghan Taliban factions, though it shares many of the same Islamist and anti-Western goals.

The US has praised Pakistan for pursuing army operations against militant groups on its territory. In part, that's because it does not want Pakistan to be a sanctuary for militants battling U.S. and NATO forces in neighboring Afghanistan.
source: agency

Omar discusses Kashmir situation with Chidambaram

NEW DELHI: Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah on Saturday met Union home minister P Chidambaram at his residence in New Delhi to discuss "the way forward" to bring peace in the the troubled state.

"We discussed the latest situation in Jammu and Kashmir. The meeting was about to discuss how to equip the state police and the paramilitary forces with a technique to control crowd so that no innocent people are killed in protests," Abdullah told reporters after the meeting.

He said the meeting was about the latest development in the state and "my visit was to see what all we need to do in the coming days".

Asked about the pulling back of the army from the Srinagar roads, Abdullah said the army was a "part of state's counter-insurgency grid. It is also part of necessary deployment on the LoC (Line of Control). There is no other role for the army in Kashmir".

About 14 civilians have been killed in police firing in Jammu and Kashmir.

Abdullah, who arrived in Delhi on Saturday morning, is also likely to meet defence minister A K Antony later in the day.
source: agency

Afridi to quit Tests after Australia finale

LONDON: Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi said on Friday that he would retire from Test cricket following the second Test against Australia at Headingley starting next Wednesday.

Afridi made his announcement to BBC Radio after leading Pakistan to a 150-run defeat by Australia in the first Test at Lord's here on Friday.

1st Test: Australia beat Pak by 150 runs

The batsman, out slogging for two on Friday, said he no longer had the temperament for the five-day game after what was his first Test in four years.

"I've not been fully fit with a side strain and so I will not play Test cricket after the match in Leeds," Afridi said.

"I did the wrong thing," he said when asked about his decision to return to Test cricket after concentrating on one-dayers and Twenty20s in recent years.

"I think my temperament is not good enough for Test cricket and I am struggling with a side injury. I think maybe the next Test will be my last.

"The Pakistan Cricket Board asked me to play Test cricket, I wasn't thinking about it."

Afridi was parachuted into the leadership after former captains Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan were both omitted from the squad for this tour following bans imposed in the wake of Pakistan's 3-0 series loss in Australia earlier this year.

Afridi slogged what was just his fourth ball, from part-time off-spinner Marcus North -- who finished with a Test-best six wickets for 55 runs - and was caught on the boundary on Friday.

Afterwards Afridi, nicknamed 'Boom Boom', told a news conference it had been an irresponsible shot.

"The captain should be an example for the youngsters but that was not an example. I was in two minds whether to play my natural game or whether to take my time," added Afridi, who captained Pakistan to the World Twenty20 title at Lord's in 2009.

"You can say I was weak mentally...I'm not good enough for Test cricket."

Asked when he decided to quit Test cricket, Afridi replied bluntly: "When I got out."

After the Australia series, Pakistan stay in Britain for four Tests against England and Afridi said vice-capatin Salman Butt, who top-scored in both Pakistan innings at Lord's with 63 and 92, should take over the captaincy.

"Salman is showing his maturity. He's good enough to take over this team as captain."

Yawar Saeed, the Pakistan tour manager, said: "Yes, he (Afridi) has told us he is not feeling comfortable with the injury and has told us he doesn't want to play (Tests) but we will talk to him and then decide."

However, Pakistan coach Waqar Younis appeared to have already accepted Afridi's decision to call time on his Test career.

"He hasn't played a Test for a long time," Waqar said.

"He feels he doesn't fit into this and for the best interests of the team he will step down.

"He believes himself he can't (go on) and it's hard to pressure him," the former Pakistan fast bowler added.

"He feels it's just not right for him at the moment. He believes in himself but it was just not a match for him here.

"It was tough out there and he couldn't really manage it and that's one big reason for this."

However, Waqar said he hoped Afridi would continue in limited overs cricket.

"He will look only to play one-day and T20 cricket now," Waqar said.

"For sure he will come back for that and probably as captain. We really hope he will come back for that."

Waqar also said he agreed with Afridi's choice of Butt as Pakistan's new Test skipper.

"Butt has been announced as vice-captain and he'll probably take over."

The 30-year-old Afridi has played 27 Tests since making his debut against Australia in Karachi in 1998, scoring 1,716 runs at an average of 36.51 with five hundreds and a best of 156 against India in Faisalabad in 2006. He has also taken 48 Test wickets with his leg-breaks.
source: agency

Now, a shot to boost your stiletto stamina

NEW DELHI: For women who love their high heels but not the pain that comes with wearing them, here's a shot of good news. In a procedure that lasts 15-20 minutes, doctors can inject a chemical that makes feet pain-free for almost nine months, thereby increasing the 'stiletto stamina' of women.

Doctors say high heels can permanently deform the toes by damaging the natural cushion in the balls of the feet. But now, an increasing number of women are getting themselves injected with dermal fillers -- hyaluronic acid -- to restore the cushion in the balls of the feet.

"Hyaluronic acid has carbohydrates which helps absorb water in the dermis. This results in a artificial cushion in the balls of the feet," said Dr Pritam Pankaj, senior consultant, dermatologist, New Look Laser Clinic Centres.

Doctors, however, warn there's no cure for the damaging effect stiletto heels can have on the spine and body posture. A recent European study has also found that long term use of high heels induces permanent changes in calf muscles by shortening its fibres.

But that isn't keeping many women away from stylish high footwear. "Earlier we used filler injections for removing fine lines and wrinkles on the face. But its use in creating a cushion in the feet seems to be very effective. Women are able to walk comfortably in high heels. Though I would still recommend women with chronic foot pain to avoid such footwear. But those who can't give up can opt for this treatment," said Dr Anup Dhir, senior consultant, cosmetic surgeon, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital.

The procedure is simple, the only limitation being that the cushion effect wears off within nine months and a refilling has to be done. "We do the procedure under local anaesthesia and it takes roughly 15-20 minutes. A patient has to get the injection again to maintain the cushion effect," Dr Dhir said.

Experts say the artificial cushion helps in nullifying the pressure exerted on the nerves. "Due to overuse of high heels, the skin on the balls of the feet become thin and the bone in the toes hurt while walking. One can feel the bone. But an artificial cushion provides the necessary support. My patients say that they can use high heels for longer duration without pain," said Dr Pankaj.

Like all cosmetic procedure, it's heavy on the pocket. One has to shell out close to Rs 15,000-Rs 20,000 for a 5ml injection. But professionals like 28-year-old Salma Khanum, who can't think of wearing flat footwear, feel it's worth it. "I have to wear heels, but my feet, especially toes, used to hurt a lot. I have been looking for a solution to this problem and have consulted a lot of doctors," said Salma, who underwent the procedure two months back, and added, "Now, I don't feel the pain anymore."

But city orthopedists say restoration of the cushion in the balls of the feet can't negate the damaging effect it has on the spine. "I doubt this procedure can solve the problem of chronic pain in the feet following the use of high heels. Women should be discouraged from use of high heels as it spoils the foot mechanics and the foot arch. It also results in abnormal growth of the big toe," said Dr P K Dave, head of the department, orthopaedics, Rockland Hospital.
source: tnn

Saif leaves Bebo for his kids!

Agreed, Saif Ali Khan’s reputation does precede him and he’s indeed known to follow girlfriend Kareena wherever she goes, come hell or high water. But recently, Saif donned his responsible daddy avatar, just to be with his kids and ex-wife Amrita.

Moreover, as reported by Mumbai Mirror earlier, Kareena is believed to be very uncomfortable around Saif’s children. In fact, she is known to avoid them whenever they are around. (Wonder why the plot of David Dhawan’s Biwi No. 1 comes to mind?) If that isn’t possible Kareena just moves back to her own apartment when the children are with Saif. Obviously, Saif is left with no option but to leave her company to be with his children.

So be it. After wrapping up his Agent Vinod schedule in Morocco, Saif quickly took off for London to spend quality time with his kids Sara and Ebrahim, who are currently holidaying in London with their mother Amrita Singh. Apparently, London is one of Amrita’s favourite holiday destinations and the kids too enjoy there whenever they go.

A source revealed, “Saif has been shooting for almost a month. He has been away from the country either shooting or doing recci for his home production Agent Vinod. The actor was shooting with his girlfriend Kareena Kapoor in Morrocco for the film and luckily it was wrapped up way before schedule.”

One hopes Saif didn’t rush things... Apparently not. Saif didn’t want to come back to Mumbai as there was not much work here. He decided to fly to London, where his kids are currently holidaying with their mother Amrita Singh.

The source further added, “Amrita has a lot of friends in London and she ends up enjoying there even by herself. Saif is very attached to both his kids and keeps trying to spend as much time as possible with them.”

Turns out, Kareena is currently shooting in Mumbai and will be flying in a day or two to London. No, she is not planning to go there just to check what boyfriend Saif is up to; she has some of her shooting schedules for RA.One in London. Phew. Saif remained unavailable for comment.
source: mumbai mirror

Apple offers free cases to fix iPhone 4

CUPERTINO: Apple will give free protective cases to buyers of its latest iPhone to alleviate the so-called "death grip" problem: holding the phone with a bare hand can muffle the wireless signal.

Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs announced the giveaway at a news conference. Those who have already bought the iPhone 4 and new buyers through Sept. 30 will be eligible. People who already purchased the $29 "Bumper" cases will be refunded.

Jobs declared, "We're not perfect." He is apologizing to those who don't like the phone. He says refunds are available, even for those with long-term AT&T contracts.

But he says the problem isn't widespread, and less than 2 percent have returned the device.

Consumer Reports refused to recommend the phone and called on Apple to compensate buyers.
source: agency

New rupee symbol on computers may be in 3 months

BANGALORE: Now that the Indian rupee has an identity, the question is: how soon will our computer keyboards start reflecting it? Very quickly, it seems. Vendors say they will roll out the symbol as soon as the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) sets the guidelines, since it takes only a minor software change to incorporate it.

Techies say what is required is simple internal coding to assign an additional function to any one of the existing keys that currently holds a single function. The IT industry is awaiting standards from BIS on where and how the new function has to be allocated. "We are fully equipped to integrate the rupee symbol; it requires only a software code change. It would not take more than a production cycle, or about three months, once the standard guidelines for adoption of the same are introduced," said an HCL Infosystems spokesperson.

It would be interesting to see which single-function key (Insert, Page Up, Page Down, Delete or some function key) will bear the rupee symbol. According to S Rajendran, chief marketing officer, Acer India, technically it's an almost inconsequential issue.

"It requires some simple internal coding. We just have to tell our manufacturers to make the plastic injection moulds with the new symbol. We can bring out a changed keyboard almost immediately. But it's important that the entire ecosystem first accepts it and starts using it." Keyboard supplier Intex Technologies has launched talks with vendors to incorporate the new symbol in their products.

"This will gain momentum as soon as we receive the authenticated design. Similarly, we have asked mobile handset vendors to incorporate the new symbol in their software," said Ramesh A Vaswani, executive VC of Intex.
source: tnn

US declines to go public on ISI's role in 26/11

WASHINGTON: With Secretary of State Hillary Clinton topping off high-level visits to Islamabad by US and Indian officials in an effort to get Pakistan to forswear terrorism, American officials have adopted a cautious tone on role of its troubled ally in terrorism, declining to publicly confirm ISI's hand in the 26/11 carnage while implicitly holding it responsible.

Even as the heat generated by exchanges between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan after their Thursday meeting is still glowing, Clinton will land at an unspecified time (because of security fears) this week in Islamabad to try and accomplish what SM Krishna could not – persuade Pakistan to give up terrorism to achieve strategic objectives. She will follow-up on Af-Pak envoy Richard Holbrooke's effort of using the aid carrot to wean Pakistan away from terrorism.

Ahead of the visits, state department officials welcomed the largely unyielding exchanges between Islamabad and New Delhi, saying "it is expressly the kind of dialogue that we think will help to address and resolve issues of interest between the two countries and of consequence in the region as a whole." Washington has now linked improved relations between India and Pakistan to its fortunes in Afghanistan.

However, unlike New Delhi's tack, Washington declined to publicly excoriate ISI for its now-increasingly recognized role in promoting terrorism. Asked about LeT operative David Headley implicating ISI in the Mumbai attack, the mention of which by the Indian home secretary evidently queered the Krishna-Qureshi dialogue, a state department spokesman declined to elaborate. He said anything he disclosed "would either compromise intelligence information or an ongoing legal investigation."

Noticeably, he did not deny or challenge the contents of the Headley interrogation which home secretary Pillai and unnamed Indian officials have gone public with. Based on the Headley disclosures, Pillai has stated that ISI was "literally controlling and coordinating the (Mumbai) attack from beginning to end" while other officials have offered details of ISI's financing of the Mumbai attack.

As the Obama administration works on putting more Pakistani terror groups, including military proxies such as the Haqqani groups, in the proscribed list, it is only Pakistan's geography and the fact that it provides the easiest access to Afghanistan that is preventing the country from being named a terrorist sponsor. Various euphemisms are being used to get around the designation, most commonly that it uses "militant groups" to achieve "strategic depth" through "asymmetric warfare."

But privately and in off-the-record conversations, US officials routinely describe Pakistani involvement in military-sponsored and funded jihad, ties between its intelligence agency and terrorist groups such as the Haqqani group, and its futile and self-defeating policy of promoting dark forces in Afghanistan, a country whose citizens hate Pakistanis more than they hate Americans. Pakistan, which once denied the existence of the Quetta shura, does not care to refute the connections now.

The American explanation for not taking a strong stand against Pakistan's embrace of terrorism is that even the ISI is split into jihadist sympathizers and masterminds who plot terrorist attacks in India (and perhaps other parts of the world) and a small, progressive, liberal section that recognizes the blowback which is destroying Pakistan.

In fact, a former CIA operative who served in the region wrote a fictional book couple of years back in which the protagonist is a good-hearted ISI agent who stops a terrorist attack on India (and in true Bollywood fashion falls in love with an Indian woman) which is masterminded by the LeT and rogue Pakistani intelligence operatives.

Washington and its intelligence agencies are particularly beholden to ISI for its selective help in the war on terror, while believing that there are only some bad apples in the organization and it is not an institutional or state-backed malaise.
source: agency

Seven CRPF men killed in fratricidal shooting in Jharkhand

RANCHI: In a case of fratricide, a drunk CRPF constable allegedly opened indiscriminate fire at his colleagues, killing six of them, including an assistant commandant, before being shot dead in Jharkhand's Saraikela district on Friday night.

The constable Harpinder Singh of 196 battalion of CRPF, who was on sentry duty at a CRPF camp, started indiscriminately firing at his colleagues at 10pm on Friday night, a senior CRPF officer said on Saturday.

Six of his colleagues, including assistant commandant Bisahu Singh, were killed in the firing that lasted for four hours.

As Harpinder Singh continued to fire, CRPF personnel at the camp shot him dead at 0200 hours, the officer said.

An inquiry has been ordered into the incident.
source: agency

Where is the comparison between Pillai, Saeed: Krishna

There is "absolutely no comparison" between union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) chief Hafiz Saeed, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said today.

Krishna, who arrived here after a three-day visit to Islamabad, was referring to his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi bringing up the Indian bureaucrat on being asked a question about Saeed during their joint press conference on Thursday.

"Where is the question of comparison between the two statements. He is a person who has been speaking out of turn against India. He has been crying for jihad against India," Krishna told reporters at the airport.

He said India had always maintained that people in Pakistan who incite "anti-india propaganda" would not help "smoothen the relationship between the two countries".

"Pillai is supposed to have made a statement to a particular newspaper," the minister said, adding that the home secretary's allegations on Pakistan's intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) being involved in the 26/11 Mumbai strike was a result of the access Indian officials had to US terror suspect David Coleman Headley.

"There is absolutely no comparison between the two (Pillai and Saeed)," Krishna, who has been criticised widely at home for not defending Pillai at the press conference, said.

India, Japan to launch joint research project

After a collaboration for setting up the Indian Institute of Technology at Hyderabad (IIT-H), India and Japan are now starting a joint research venture to promote educational tie-ups.

According to the Japanese embassy, a five-year joint research project for 'Information Network for Natural Disaster Mitigation and Recovery' will be launched on Sunday.

"The main objective is strengthening research collaboration between India and Japan in the field of natural disaster prevention and information and communication technology," said a statement from the Japanese embassy.

The project is designed to establish infrastructure for continuous data collection on earthquake and weather. It will also develop technical base for rescue and support for restoration and disaster recovery.

"The IIT-H will be a part of several Indian institutes that are forging tie-ups with Japanese educational institutions," the statement said.

Pakistan announces release of 434 indian fishermen

Pakistan today announced the release of 434 Indian fishermen languishing in various jails in that country, according to an official.

Manish Lodhari, secretary National Fishworkers Forum, said from Porbandar that the announcement was made by the Pakistan government and conveyed to them by Mohammed Alisa, chairman of the Pakistan Fishworkers Forum, from Karachi in the afternoon.

Lodhari said that while further details were awaited, it can safely be presumed that the bulk of the fishermen languishing in Pakistani jails are from Gujarat.

The release follows initiatives by both countries after fishermen on both sides of the border decided to take things into their own hands. Thereafter, top legal luminaries in both countries decided to move in the matter.

According to a report, retired Justice Rajinder Sachar was slated to move the apex court for release of Pakistani fishermen held in India while former Pakistan law minister Iqbal Haider was to do likewise for Indian fishermen held in jails in his country.

Twinkle not interested in films: Akshay Kumar

Actor Akshay Kumar has ruled out the possibility of his wife Twinkle Khanna returning to movies in the near future.

"I don't think she is interested in doing films. At least not in the near future," Akshay, who was in the capital to promote his forthcoming comedy "Khatta Meetha" that also stars Southern actress Trisha, told reporters here today.

Last seen in "Love Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega", Twinkle retired from the film industry after marrying Akshay in 2001. She has been doing interior designing since then.

Most recently Twinkle was seen in a television commercial for a mobile handset.

Akshay to feature on 'Sasural Genda Phool'

Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar is doing every bit to promote his upcoming film "Khatta Meetha" - he will be seen on Star Plus's popular show "Sasural Genda Phool" to celebrate their success and promote the movie as well.

"Sasural Genda Phool" has recently completed 100 episodes and Akshay will join them to mark the occassion.

Ragini Khanna, who plays Suhana in the soap, said: "I am happy and excited to see him. The entire team is busy planning things to impress him. Everyone is excited and I can't wait to see him face to face."

This episode will be aired on July 21, Wednesday.

Indian-run store sells alcohol to kids, loses licence

A convenience store run by an Indian couple has lost its alcohol licence in Britain after it was found regularly selling spirits to under-18s.

The police have blamed the illegal sales at Jalaram News in Leicester town's Saffron Lane for a wave of drunken behaviour by children as young as 14 or 15.

Police and Leicester City Council launched an investigation when public complaints about the shop began to mount up and caught an illegal sale on camera.

At a hearing in the town hall, police showed CCTV images of two 15-year-old boys being served and leaving the shop, only to panic when they saw police officers approaching.

The footage showed them running back inside the shop and hiding a bag containing cans of lager. Police went inside and questioned staff, who denied all knowledge of the sale. The officers then searched the shop and found the bag.

Owners Jayesh and Pravina Patel were eventually stripped of the right to sell alcohol. They insisted that they had committed such a mistake only once, saying: "We always ask people for identification before we sell alcohol. The council has sent kids into the shop and we always pass those tests."

But city councillor John Thomas told Leicester Mercury newspaper: "The Patels were determined to put their business interests before the interests of the community. That is irresponsible, selfish and dangerous. We want to get a clear message out to licence-holders that this is a serious business."