Sunday, January 31, 2010

I was frustrated at not winning: Afridi

Karachi : Pakistani all-rounder Shahid Afridi says he tried to tamper with the ball during a match against Australia on Sunday because he was "frustrated" with his team's performance.

"I am embarrassed -- I have made a mistake," Afridi told Pakistan's Geo TV after the International Cricket Council (ICC) banned him for two Twenty20 internationals for tampering with the ball during the fifth and final ODI against Australia in Perth.

"I was frustrated because the Pakistan team hasn't won any match for quite some time," said Afridi.

"I am not a fast bowler who would tamper the ball. I was just trying to help the bowler. There is no team in the world that doesn't tamper with the ball but my approach was wrong."

Afridi said his team was "very talented" and had "potential match winners" and he shouldn't have embarrassed them and himself by his action.

"I shouldn't have done this. I have been punished for my fault. I should learn a lesson out of this incident," he said.

t2tn reports match referee Ranjan Madugalle banned Afridi after holding a hearing on the complaint by on-field umpires.

Afridi, who led Pakistan in the final ODI in place of the unfit Mohammad Yousuf, was caught on camera chewing on one side of the ball while walking to the run up with bowler Mohammad Asif.

In 2005, Afridi was banned for twisting his spikes and trying to change condition of pitch during a Test match in Faisalabad against England. Trying to change the condition of the ball through illegal means prompts strict penalties from the ICC.
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21 model schools to come up in Punjab villages

Muktsar : Twenty-one model schools would be set up in the rural areas of Punjab at a total cost of Rs 70 crore.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today launched the scheme and laid the foundation stone of such a school in Bhagsar village. Poor and bright students would be provided free education in these schools.

Badal said quality education in villages would enable the students from rural areas to pursue better job prospects.

Central university at Bathinda and Sri Guru Granth Sahib University at Fatehgarh Sahib were coming up to boost higher education sector. Seven government polytechnic colleges, 13 degree colleges and 21 model schools would be established soon, the CM said.
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\'Strong leads\' in hunt for taxi driver\'s killer

Police investigating the stabbing death of a taxi driver in Auckland at the weekend say they are working on some strong leads that will help them locate the killer.

Hiren Mohini, 39, died on an ambulance stretcher minutes after being stabbed repeatedly by a frenzied customer for the sake of a $20 fare early yesterday morning.

It is believed Mr Mohini, a husband and father of two, picked up his attacker at the central Sky City taxi stand before travelling the short distance to View Rd in Mt Eden.

At 1.23am he pushed the panic button in his cab, sending an emergency alert across the whole Auckland Co-Op network.

An autopsy yesterday revealed that he died from the stab wound to his chest. Witnesses said he had also suffered wounds to his face and neck.

\"It was a frenzied attack,\" said the police officer heading the homicide inquiry, Detective Senior Sergeant Hywel Jones.

Police were working on some strong leads \"that will assist us to locate the killer,\" he said.

They were also viewing security surveillance footage from a number of locations.

Thirty staff were working on the inquiry.

\"This is a complex murder investigation,\" Mr Jones said.

\"A large team of specialists is now working on this inquiry and the search for the weapon used to murder the deceased father of two is intensifying.\"

Investigators were back in View Rd Mount Eden today to canvas the area and talk to residents and other locals, Mr Jones said.

\"There are a large number of witnesses to interview, not only from the street where the murder happened but also other locations such as the CBD where a male suspect is believed to have hired the cab driven by the deceased.\"

Police urged anyone with information to call them on 0800 EDGEWATER (0800 444 014) or anonymously on the Crimestoppers line, 0800 555 111.

The Government is to review taxi safety and consider mandatory safety measures in the wake of the killing.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce today said taxi safety did need to be looked at again. It had been reviewed in the past after earlier attacks.

\"We\'re ending up in a situation where New Zealand isn\'t as safe for taxis late at night any more,\" he told Radio New Zealand.

Mr Joyce said he would meet with taxi industry representatives, the Department of Labour and the NZ Transport Agency to assess what further safety measures need to be implemented.
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Second phase of CAT-2009 concludes

Ahmedabad : Second phase of computer based CAT-2009 concluded today with around 2,000 candidates appearing for the re-test at 26 centres across the country, convener of examination at IIM Ahmedabad said here.

"CAT-2009 second phase concluded today with around 2000 odd candidates appearing for the re-test today. On day one of the second phase yesterday, 65-70 per cent out of the 7,400 candidates appeared for re-test," convener of CAT-2009 at IIM-A Satish Deodhar said.

"With the conclusion of second phase it seems that it was a minuscule segment of students who made large noises about the technical glitches," Deodhar said.

"The results of CAT-2009 are scheduled to be declared in third week of February," he added.

"It will take at least 10 days for uploading the results, so a call on declaring CAT-2009 results early than the scheduled date can only be taken after that," sources at IIM-A said.

According to sources at the IIM-A, directors of all the IIMs are slated to meet next month to review the newly introduced computer based CAT.

A total of 2.41 lakh students had applied for CAT in 2009.

While 2.16 lakh candidates could appear in the test during the 11-day testing window last year, nearly 10,500 odd students could not take on the exam in first phase due to virus attacks and hardware problems and had opted for re-test.

The CAT glitches were attributed by the IIMs and Prometric, the American firm jointly conducting the test, to virus attacks and some hardware problems.

Computer based CAT-2009 in first phase was marred by technical glitches from the very first day as students faced problems in logging on to the computers at centres in Gujarat, Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata and Bhopal.

Prometric has been awarded a USD 40-million contract by the IIMs to computerise the prestigious CAT exam.
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Pakistani Taliban leader reportedly killed in U.S. strike

The Pakistani army said Sunday it is investigating reports that Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud died from injuries sustained in a U.S. drone missile strike in mid-January.

The militant leader\'s death would be an important success for both Pakistan, which has been battling the Pakistani Taliban, and the U.S., which blames Mehsud for a recent deadly bombing against the CIA in Afghanistan.

The army\'s disclosure came shortly after Pakistani state television, citing unnamed \"official sources,\" reported that Mehsud died in Orakzai, an area in Pakistan\'s northwest tribal region where he was reportedly being treated for his injuries.

\"We have these reports coming to us,\" army spokesman Gen. Athar Abbas told The Associated Press. \"We are investigating whether it is true or wrong.\"

A tribal elder told the AP that he attended Mehsud\'s funeral in the Mamuzai area of Orakzai on Thursday. He said Mehsud was buried in Mamuzai graveyard after he died at his in-laws\' home. The elder spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from the Taliban.

Pakistani intelligence officials have said that Mehsud was targeted in a U.S. drone strike in South Waziristan on Jan. 14, triggering rumours that he had been injured or killed. The strike targeted a meeting of militant commanders in the Shaktoi area of South Waziristan.

Mehsud issued two audiotapes after the strike denying the rumours. But Pakistani intelligence officials told the AP on Sunday that they have confirmation that the Taliban chief\'s legs and abdomen were wounded in the strike.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Pakistani Taliban officials were not immediately available for comment, but low-level fighters have dismissed rumours of Mehsud\'s death in recent days as propaganda.

The drone strike that targeted Mehsud came about two weeks after a deadly suicide bombing he helped orchestrate killed seven CIA employees at a remote base across the border in Afghanistan. Mehsud appeared in a video issued after the bombing sitting beside the Jordanian man who carried out the attack.

The bomber, Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, said he carried out the attack in retribution for the death of former Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud — Hakimullah Mehsud\'s predecessor — in a U.S. drone strike last August.

The U.S. refuses to talk about the covert CIA-run drone program in Pakistan but officials have said privately that the strikes have killed several senior Taliban and al-Qaida leaders.

Pakistani officials publicly protest the strikes as violations of the country\'s sovereignty, but U.S. officials say privately they support the program, especially when it targets militants like Mehsud who the government believes is a threat to the state.

Mehsud, who has the reputation as a particularly ruthless militant, took over leadership of the Pakistani Taliban soon after Baitullah Mehsud\'s death.

The 28-year-old militant leader has focused most of his attacks against targets inside Pakistan, but his men have also been blamed for attacking U.S. and NATO supply convoys travelling through the country en route to Afghanistan.

Hakimullah Mehsud first appeared in public to journalists in November 2008, when he offered to take reporters in Orakzai on a ride in a U.S. Humvee taken from a supply truck headed to Afghanistan. He was the Pakistani Taliban\'s regional commander in the Orakzai, Khyber and Mohmand tribal areas before taking over the organization.

He has taken responsibility for a wave of brazen strikes inside Pakistan, including the bombing of the Pearl Continental hotel in the northwestern city of Peshawar last June and the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore earlier that year. There is a 50-million rupee ($633,000 Cdn) bounty on his head.

The Pakistani Taliban stepped up its attacks after the army invaded its stronghold of South Waziristan in mid-October. More than 600 people have been killed in attacks throughout the country since the ground offensive was launched.

Pakistani officials have said some of the militants have fled to neighbouring North Waziristan, an area dominated by groups launching cross-border attacks against U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

The army struck deals with the leaders of two of those groups, Gul Bahadur and Maulvi Nazir, before it invaded South Waziristan, promising not to target the militants if they stayed on the sidelines.

An umbrella group that includes the two militants and the Pakistani Taliban issued a pamphlet in North Waziristan on Sunday accusing the government of violating the agreement and warning it would trigger a major war if it launched any kind of military operation in the area.

The pamphlet issued by the Shura-e-Ittehad-ul-Mujahedeen, or Council of United Holy Warriors, said the government violated the agreement in various ways, including by creating a network of spies in North Waziristan who helped the U.S. kill militants in drone attacks.

\"We have tolerated all sorts of mistreatment, but now we are not going to accept any kind of military operation in even our smallest area,\" said the pamphlet, a copy of which was obtained by the AP.

The Pakistani army has said it cannot launch another major operation for at least six months, but it has carried out two strikes in North Waziristan in the past two weeks.

\"Westerners have some regard for civilians and they do distinguish between Taliban fighters and civilians, but the Pakistani army doesn\'t,\" said the pamphlet in a rare admission for a militant group. \"Instead of the Taliban, it is bombing ordinary people\'s homes and their bazaars and killing innocent people.\"
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RSS to protect migrants in Maharashtra

Kolkata : Taking the Shiv Sena and the MNS head-on, RSS on Sunday said that it has asked its volunteers to protect north Indians in Maharashtra and prevent spread of anti-Hindi feelings.

The Sangh parivar has asked its volunteers in Maharashtra to try and prevent the spread of anti-north Indian and anti-Hindi feelings," RSS leader Ram Madhav told reporters here.

He said the RSS was opposed to discrimination on the basis of language and demanded steps to check disturbances on the emotive issue.

There should be no discrimination on the basis of language," Mr. Madhav said, when asked about the agitations against Hindi-speaking people by Shiv Sena and Raj Thackeray-led MNS in Maharashtra.

Mr. Madhav, who was here to attend an RSS programme, said the Sangh was of strong view that India was one from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.

He said steps should be taken to check disturbances being caused over the language issue and people's rights should be protected.
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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Innovative scanner to speed up diagnosis of heart problems

London : Due to its unprecedented sensitivity to magnetic fluctuations, a portable magnetometer will help diagnose heart problems in foetuses, much faster than ultrasound, ECG (electrocardiogram) and existing cardiac magnetometers.

It will also be smaller, simpler to operate, able to gather more information and significantly cheaper than other devices currently available.

Like all parts of the body, the heart produces its own distinctive magnetic \'signature\'. The research team has demonstrated that their magnetometer - developed as part of their work in the area of quantum physics - can reveal tiny variations in that signature.

Studying these variations can, in turn, reveal the presence of a cardiac condition. The team is now working on miniaturizing the magnetometer for widespread medical use. The device could be ready for use in routine diagnosis in around three years. \"The new system gets round previous difficulties by putting the actual detector in its own magnetic shield,\" says Ben Varcoe, professor at the University of Leeds, who is leading the research team.

Another key benefit is that, for the first time, skilled nurses as well as doctors will be able to carry out heart scans, helping to relieve pressure on hospital waiting lists. The device will also function through clothes, cutting the time needed to perform scans and removing the need for patients to undress for an examination. It could also be taken out to a patient\'s home, leading to a reduction in the use of hospital facilities.

Large scale magnetometers have been used for some time for things like directional drilling for oil and gas, on spacecraft for planet exploration and to detect archaeological sites and locate other buried or submerged objects.

What has prevented them being used for identifying heart conditions is their size and high cost along with the specialist skill needed to operate them. Using them to examine a patient would involve containing the person within a magnetic shield to cut out other electrical interference.

\"Early detection of heart conditions improves the prospects for successful treatment. This system will also quickly identify people who need immediate treatment,\" says Varcoe, according to a Leeds release. \"But our device won\'t just benefit patients - it will also help ease the strain on healthcare resources and hospital waiting lists,\" he adds.
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India To Overtake China By 2020

India's record in the past decades has covered up the spheres in starvation deaths, foreign aid and bribery. In 2000 it has transformed from a chronic under performer to a potential superpower. The eight predictions that are made for 2020: India will overtake China as the fastest-growing economy in the world.

As per the prediction that is made China will start ageing and suffering from a declining workforce, and therefore will be forced to revalue their currency.

As Japan slows down in the 1990s after looking unstoppable in the 1980s, it is expected that China is also going to face the same thing. Becoming world's second-biggest economy, China's export-oriented model will wear down sharply

In the meantime the poorer Indian states will start catching up with the richer ones. This will take India's GDP growth to 10% by 2020, while China's growth will dip to 7-8%.

Hence, India will become the largest English-speaking nation in the world, overtaking the US. So, the global publishing industry will shift in a big way to India.

By 2000, India has finally secured its position into the nuclear club, and also sanctions against it were lifted. By 2020, Indian companies will act as the major exporters of nuclear equipment, which will create a vital link in the global supply chain. So, India will be in a position to impose nuclear sanctions on others.

In future India, along with the US and Canada, will develop new technology to extract natural gas from gas hydrates — a solidified form of gas lying on ocean floors. Acquiring the biggest power in gas hydrate deposits in the world India will become the biggest global producer. This will enable India to substitute gas for coal in power generation, hugely reducing carbon emissions.

India will also discover enormous deposits of shale gas in its vast shale formations that are running through the Gangetic plain, Assam, Rajasthan and Gujarat. New technology has made the extraction of shale gas economic, so India will also act as a major gas producer and exporter. Therefore, the Iran-India pipeline will be recast, but in reverse form: India will now export gas to Iran.

China has been alarmed at India's rise that has already raised tensions along the Himalayan border. China will be threatened to divert the waters of the Brahmaputra from Tibet to water-scarce northern China.
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Haiti Earthquake: Nature showed its might again

Haiti : A small Caribbean country, had to experience the nature's fury when on January 13; a strong earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3 rocked its capital Port au Prince. This earthquake is being termed as one of the deadliest natural disasters ever happened. The epicentre of this quake was just 25 kilometres away from the capital, Port au Prince with a focus at just 13 kilometres below the surface.

Hitherto, the earthquake in 16th century China was termed as the most devastating which killed over 0.8 million people. The exact number of casualties in Haiti is not clear as the entire capital is in rubbles. The homes, government offices and buildings, Parliament and the buildings of the UN, hospitals etc., all are destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of people are assumed to be still buried under the debris. According to initial estimates, death toll has reached somewhere 50000-100000 people. It is estimated that after the clearance of debris, this number may reach 0.4-0.5 million.

The US President Barack Obama has announced that his country has initiated its biggest ever relief operation. British Queen Elizabeth has also expressed grief and concern for the people of Haiti and announced help. Though the entire world is standing for the help of Haiti but this calamity has created many obstacles in providing relief material. Roads, communication and transport system has collapsed. The airport of Haiti is already overcrowded by the relief planes. The US has sent three big ships, packed with complete hospitals and other relief amenities, to Haiti.

Another unfortunate thing about this disaster is that the above data and figures are only for the capital Port au Prince. Estimates are that similar devastation might have also happened in the areas ranging 50-100 kilometres around the capital. Since after the earthquake, the contacts of the capital with other regions have broken, therefore the extent of loss at other places is not clear. Everywhere there are debris of buildings and unaccounted dead bodies. This earthquake has once again sparked the debate that why the scientists, who boast of predicting the activities of the universe, are not able to predict the things happening beneath their feet.

After tsunami of 2004, the scientists were apparently awakened. For some time, rhetoric was that the scientists would work seriously in the direction of forecasting the natural disasters like Tsunami and earthquakes. While expert in bringing out new truths about the universe, moon, mars and galaxies, the science seems to be failing in case of the earth's interior. Though the same science is successful in telling the intensity, magnitude, epicentre and focus of the earthquake after it has happened, but our scientists are still lagging in predicting such earthquakes.

How should we see the working of the scientists? In the entire universe, the life is known to be present only on the earth. Reports regarding life on other celestial bodies are unconfirmed and self-contradictory. What is the use of such expensive projects of scientists which are continuously adding to the 'incredible' facts regarding stars, planets and the universe, but are not able of collect complete information of the earth?

Last year, many great scientists of the world created a huge experimental machine named 'Large Hadron Collider'. Just before the start of experiments in this machine situated on the French-Swiss border, there were rumours regarding loss to the earth by such experimentation. Just after the start, this machine was faced with a technical snag and it stopped functioning. The machine has started functioning again. Again, this machine was not made for predicting anything, instead it was made so as to understand the events involved in the creation of the universe and the earth.

No doubt, the scientists have made unimaginable progress in the fields of information, communication and technology. Scientists even have created an artificial human mind. It means now the human mind will probably not be dependent on God. Scientists have good command on weather forecast, information about the Solar and Lunar eclipses, prediction of accidents in the universe and control on the powerful laser technology etc. As for the prediction of the geological activities, the same scientists seem helpless.

By seeing the progress made by the scientists, it can't be said that the future earthquakes would also be unpredicted. But until the science reaches that level, it would have to be recognised that the nature has stored many such treasures of information inside and outside the earth, which are still out of reach and out of imaginations of the scientists. And the same truth makes the human bow down before the might of the nature.
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New vaccine could prevent TB in patients with HIV

Disclosing results of a clinical trial, researchers at Dartmouth Medical School (DMS) have shown that a new vaccine against tuberculosis, Mycobacterium vaccae (MV), is effective in preventing tuberculosis in people with HIV infection. The DarDar Health Study, named for Dartmouth and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, found that MV immunization reduced the rate of definite tuberculosis by 39 percent among 2,000 HIV-infected patients in Tanzania.

Since development of a new vaccine against tuberculosis is a major international health priority, especially for patients with HIV infection, we and our Tanzanian collaborators are very encouraged by the results of the DarDar Study," said Principal Investigator Dr. Ford von Reyn.

The 7-year, randomised, placebo-controlled trial was conducted in Tanzania with collaborators at the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) in Dar es Salaam, and was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States. "The study confirms that University institutions from the northern and southern hemispheres can establish partnerships to perform quality clinical research work with global importance. The results of the study are not only good news for people living in regions with high infection rates of HIV and tuberculosis but has also contributed to capacity building in performing TB vaccine trials among HIV infected persons in Tanzania," said Dr. Kisali Pallangyo, the senior collaborator at MUHAS.

Since newly-infected HIV patients risk contracting TB almost immediately, Dartmouth investigators are targeting a strategy for immunization with MV before patients need to start taking antiretroviral drugs.

In Phase-I human studies, the researchers demonstrated that a multiple-dose series of MV was safe in both healthy subjects and patients with HIV infection.

The group then conducted Phase-II studies in larger groups of adults in Zambia and in Finland. In the Zambian trial, it was found that MV boosted immune responses against tuberculosis that had first been primed in childhood with the current TB vaccine, BCG.

Then they conducted the large Phase-III efficacy trial among HIV-infected patients with prior BCG immunization in Tanzania.

Von Reyn, a Professor in the Department of Medicine at DMS, described the DarDar trial as "a significant milestone" - the first to demonstrate that any type of vaccine can prevent an infectious complication of HIV in adults.

He added that the next steps are to improve the manufacturing methods to support the production of the larger quantities of the TB vaccine needed for further studies and subsequent clinical use. Development work on manufacturing will be conducted by the Aeras Global TB Vaccine Foundation in Rockville, Maryland, in conjunction with the London-based manufacturer, Immodulon Therapeutics.

Aeras' goal is to speed the development and distribution of new TB vaccines for those who need them most. We are pleased that our internal manufacturing capacity can assist in the further development of this TB vaccine," said Dr. Jerald C. Sadoff.

The vaccine is a type known as an inactivated, whole-cell mycobacterial vaccine and is expected to be economical to produce and distribute, said von Reyn.

The study appears in the latest online issue of the journal AIDS and it will be published in the March print issue of AIDS.
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10,000 zoo visitors flee after tiger escape

Guwahati : Around 10,000 frightened visitors were evacuated from a zoo in the northeastern state of Assam yesterday when two Bengal tigers slinked out of their cage to mingle with the crowd, officials said.

The tigers opened the door to the iron enclosures and sneaked out while keepers disinfected the cage at the zoo in Guwahati, the main city in Assam.

Fortunately the two cats remained inside the zoo complex and did not try to venture out in the streets," zoo warden Narayan Mahanta said.

We immediately evacuated the visitors and tried to locate the cats before tranquilising one of them relaxing by the side of a pool inside the zoo," he added.

The second tiger was tranquillised shortly after.

None of the estimated 10,000 visitors was injured but many ran for their lives upon seeing the tigers stealthily walk by.

We were terrified to see the two big tigers majestically walking past and simply ran for life," said a college student.

I saw the tigers from a distance of about 20ft."

The zoo authorities have ordered an investigation to find out how the tigers managed to get out of the enclosure.

The zoo, the largest in India's northeast, was packed with families and students on a weekend break.

In 2007, a 50-year-old man was mauled to death by a tiger in the same zoo when he scaled a barricade to take photographs of the cats.
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Honda to recall over 8,000 units of \'City\'

New Delhi : Honda Siel Cars India, on Saturday, announced that it would call back 8532 units of the first generation City, manufactured in 2007, for a preventive part replacement of the power window switch.

HSCI is proactively replacing the part in these vehicles related to the potential problem of smoke coming out from the power window switch if water enters the driver window when window is left open during heavy rain, or is exposed to any other liquid due to spillage.

The replacement would be carried out free of cost and the company will communicate directly with the owners of the cars which are covered under this part replacement, according to a company release.

HSCI is carrying out the part replacement as part of a global exercise by Honda Motor Company to ensure stringent quality standards for its products.

The third generation City , currently sold in India , is not affected and does not require any part replacement, the release says.

HSCI further clarifies that the global recall does not impact the Honda Jazz sold in India . The recall announced by Honda applies to first generation Jazz and does not apply to the second generation Honda Jazz, which has been sold in India since June 2009.
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French team makes new “miracle” rescue in Haiti

Haiti : A French search team that would not go home pulled off another "miracle" rescue in Port-au-Prince, lifting a 17-year-old girl alive from beneath this cityscape of rubble.

Wednesday's rescue of teenager Darlene Etienne from a collapsed home near St. Gerard University, 15 days after Haiti's great quake killed an estimated 2,00,000 people, was the first such recovery since Saturday, when French rescuers extricated a man from the ruins of a hotel grocery store. A man pulled on Tuesday from the rubble of a downtown store said he had been trapped during an aftershock, not in the original January 12 quake.

Authorities say it is rare for anyone to survive more than 72 hours without water, let alone more than two weeks. But young Ms. Etienne may have had some access to water from a bathroom of the wrecked house, and rescuers said she mumbled something about having a little Coca-Cola with her in the rubble.

Her family said Ms. Etienne had just begun studies at St. Gerard when the disaster struck, trapping dozens of students and staff in the rubble of school buildings, hostels and nearby homes. "We thought she was dead," said cousin Jocelyn A. St. Jules.

Then — a half-month after the earthquake — neighbours heard a voice weakly calling from the rubble of a private home down the road from the destroyed university. They called authorities, who brought in the French civil response team.

Rescuer Claude Fuilla walked along the dangerously crumbled roof, heard her voice and saw a little bit of dust-covered black hair in the rubble. Clearing away some debris, he reached the young woman and saw she was alive — barely.

I don't think she could have survived even a few more hours," Mr. Fuilla said.

France's ambassador to Haiti, Didier le Bret, praised the "stubbornness" of the French rescue squad.

They should not have been working anymore because, officially, the rescue phase is over," he said. "But they felt that some lives still are to be saved, so we did not say they should leave the country."

At least 135 people buried in rubble have been rescued by search teams since the quake, most in the immediate aftermath.

On food aid, the U.N. World Food Program, which says it has reached 450,000 people, urgently appealed to governments for more cash for Haiti supplies — $800 million to feed two million people through December, more than quadruple the $196 million already pledged.
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Gadkari draws parallel between Mahatma Gandhi, Modi

Porbandar : Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Nitin Gadkari Saturday drew a parallel between Mahatma Gandhi and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, saying that both worked ceaselessly for their poverty stricken countrymen.

The BJP chief, who was on his first visit to Gujarat after taking over the reigns of the party, arrived here to pay homage to the Mahatma on his 62nd death anniversary and also participate in the 'Garib Kalyan Mela', a welfare scheme of the state government, organised to coincide with the occasion.

The event was, however, marred by controversy as Arjun Modvadia, the Congress legislator from Porbandar and an invitee to the function, was detained Saturday morning. He was released later in the day after the function got over.

Describing Modi as the number one chief minister, Gadkari said that he, like Mahatma Gandhi and Jan Sangh founder Deen Dayal Upadhayay, saw politics as an instrument to alleviate poverty and worked for national unity and equality.

Accompanied by Modi, the BJP chief visited the Kirti Mandir, the ancestral home and birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi in Porbandar to pay his homage and later inaugurated an exhibition of sand sculptors on Gandhi's life and thought, before attending the Garib Kalyan Mela where the chief minister distributed government aid to the poor in Porbandar.

Gadkari said that he was happy to be in Porbandar on the death anniversary of the Mahatma. 'I also happy to unveil the statue of the late Deen Dayal Upadhyay, who like Gandhiji, strove tirelessly for the poorest of the poor.'

Speaking to media persons while inaugurating the sand sculpture exhibition, Gadkari said both Gandhi and Modi harnessed politics for development. 'Eradicating poverty should be the goal of politics and Mr. Modi is striving hard to this end,' he said.

I am very impressed by his scheme of organising Garib Kalyan Melas as it effectively uproots middlemen and ensures that the fruits of the government effort at improving the lot of the poor reach their hands directly,' he added.

Meanwhile, the Congress reacted strongly to the arrest of Modvadia and also attacked Modi for turning an official programme into a party function.

State Congress unit chief Siddhartha Patel condemned the arrest and charged that the chief minister was hiding the fact that the bulk of the aid being distributed to the poor was coming from the centre.

Modhvadia himself alleged that he was detained only because the state government knew that he would protest against the continued villification of the central leaders by Modi.
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In real life, Aamir and Shah Rukh are 2 Idiots: Shiv Sena

Mumbai : After initiating a tirade against Shah Rukh Khan for supporting the inclusion of Pakistani cricketers in the IPL, the Shiv Sena is now attacking Aamir Khan for voicing his opinion in favour of Pakistani cricketers.

In another show of extremism, the political party has even labelled the two superstars as '2 Idiots', severely criticizing them for favouring the opponents.

In real life, Aamir and Shah Rukh have been proved as `2 Idiots` as both are making stupid statements supporting the cause of Pakistani cricketers. On the one hand, while SRK is openly displaying his love for Pakistani players, Aamir has even put nationalistic sentiments in his utterances on this issue," said a statement in the party`s Hindi mouthpiece 'Dopahar Ka Saamna'.

According to Aamir, if any cricketer is good, he would like to have him in his team, it makes no difference to him which country he belongs to,\" said the statement.

Added to this, the statement is accompanied by a digitally altered picture of Aamir's recent record blockbuster film, '3 Idiots'. It shows the head of popping out of a drum while SRK pouts from another drum.

Earlier, Aamir had said that if he were to select IPL players he would do so only on the basis of their performance and not nationality.

The Shiv Sena had already hit out at Shah Rukh, who is also the Kolkata Knight Riders co-owner, after he said he would have picked a Pakistani player for IPL matches if his team had a slot. The party has banned his films.

Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut said if the actor was so keen on them, \"he could go play his matches in Lahore, not in India\".
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Punjab govt to set up state senior citizens council

MOHALI : The Punjab Government would soon setup a State Senior Citizens Council to ensure social security and safeguard the rights of elderly persons to enable them to lead a life with self respect and dignity.

Addressing a mammoth gathering of senior citizens at the launch of Federation of Senior Citizens Association (FEDSEN)-Punjab here, the Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said that the Council would also guide the state government to prepare a comprehensive policy for the welfare of senior citizens, which was the most respectable section amongst the society. He also agreed to the proposal of the federation to depute a senior police officer of Inspector General (IG) as a nodal officer at the state level to look into the issues of senior citizens especially related to their safety and personal security. Likewise DIGs would be deputed in their respective ranges and SP level officers in the districts as nodal officers to ensure personal security of the older persons.

The Chief Minister further said that Punjab was amongst few states to adopt the maintenance of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 to ensure social security to the senior citizens who had been neglected by their children in the old age. He said the rules under this act would be notified shortly and reiterated that the act would be enforced strictly.

Referring to the issue of timely payment of old age pensions, the Chief Minister said that the Punjab Government would soon create a dedicated fund of Rs. 500 crore to enable the old age beneficiaries to get pension in time. He also said that the state government was in the process to tie-up with the nationalized banks for the disbursement of old age pension at their door-steps.

He also announced that senior citizens would be given due representation in the district committees constituted for the implementation of various development projects and welfare schemes. Apart from this he also announced to set-up a day care home for senior citizens in sector-68 and an old age home would also be established over a two acre plot already allotted by GAMADA in Mohali. Badal also said that the he would soon convene a meeting with representatives of the FEDSEN to chalk a strategy to further stream line the welfare schemes for Senior Citizens. He also called upon the senior citizens based in urban area to come forward for social service especially in rural areas in the field of education, health and sanitation as they had a rich and vast experience, from which the society could be immensely benefited. Mr. Badal also mentioned that he had already setup a state-of-the-art old Age Home at his native village Badal and invited the FEDSEN to hold its next meeting there.

On the occasion Badal unveiled the logo of FEDSEN and released its maiden souvenir dedicated to its founder chairman of Punjab State Senior Citizens Association and former Chief Secretary Punjab late Mr. P.S. Vaishnav IAS (Retd.). The Chief Minister also announced a grant of Rs. 10 lac for the FEDSEN.

Earlier in his welcome address Executive President of FEDSEN D.S. Grewal briefly outlined the achievements of FEDSEN and said over 500 members from 17 associations of 15 districts had joined the federation and soon the remaining districts would also come under its fold.

Before the start of the function, all the senior citizens along with Badal and other dignitaries observed a two minute silence as befitting tributes to the martyrs and heroes of Indian Freedom Struggle.

In his address President and former Vice Chancellor of PAU Ludhiana President Dr. Amarjit Singh Khehra raised the demands of FEDSEN and assured the Chief Minister on behalf of senior Citizens of full support and cooperation to the state in the implementation of various development policies and welfare programmes.

Prominent among other who were present on the occasion SAD General Secretary S. Balwinder Singh Bhundar, Advisor to Chief Minister Dr. Daljit Singh Cheema, Chairman District Planning Committee Mr. N.K. Sharma, General Secretary FEDSEN Mr. Harnam Singh, Working member SAD Jathedar Amrik Singh, Special Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Mr. K.J.S. Cheema, DIG Mr. S.K. Asthana, Deputy Commissioner S.A.S. Nagar Mr. P.S. Mand and SSP Mr. Gurpreet Singh Bhullar.
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Report on incubator fire tragedy handed to Punjab govt

Chandigarh : A year after six infants were killed in a fire in the incubator of a government hospital in Patiala, the judicial committee looking into the tragedy on Saturday submitted its report to the state government, recommending steps to ensure that such incidents do not occur in future.

Former judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court justice K C Gupta, who headed the committee looking into the tragedy, called on Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to present the report to him, a CMO spokesman said.

Justice Gupta has suggested a number of measures to ensure that such incidents do not recur in future and the Chief Minister has passed strict orders to the Health department for strict compliance of justice Gupta\'s report, he said.

Six infants were burnt alive when an incubator at the Neonatology Unit of the Government Rajindra Hospital, Patiala caught fire on January 31 last year, prompting the state government to order a judicial probe into it immediately.
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China cancels military exchanges with US after Taiwan deal

BEIJING : A furious China said on Saturday it was suspending military exchanges with the United States protesting against Washington's move to sell $6.4 billion worth of arms to Taiwan. The issue can have wide ramifications on matters like trade, possible meeting between Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama and China's arms sales to countries such as Pakistan.

Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister He Yafei said the US decision was a \"rude interference in China\'s internal affairs, severely endangering China\'s national security\". The country's defense ministry said it will halt visits between the Chinese and U.S. armed forces \"in consideration of the serious harm and impacts on Sino-U.S. military relations\".

The choice of arms shows the Obama administration expects China to strike Taiwan sooner or later. It has offered to sell 114 Patriot anti-missile missiles and two mine-hunting ships besides 60 Black Hawk helicopters. But the package does not include F-16 jets, which Beijing had vehemently opposed.

China regards Taiwan as part its own territory and has threatened military action to recapture it in the past.

It is not clear if the People's Liberation Army will begin moving missile launchers to appropriate positions and make other moves to threaten an attack if Washington does not cancel the deal.

Beijing is fast emerging as a major supplier of arms to countries like Pakistan and is also talking in terms of setting up military bases in foreign locations. It also holds the key to the North Korean nuclear problem, which makes US allies-Japan and South Korea-extremely nervous. Beijing will find it difficult to justify its arms sales to Pakistan and its close relationship with rouge rulers in Myanmar and Sudan if it opposed US arms sales, a source said

The Obama administration may be using the arms sales ploy to put Beijing under pressure and divert its attention away from trouble spots like Afghanistan, Pakistan and North Korea, sources said.. There are reports suggesting that Obama might meet the Dalai Lama in the coming months. Such a meeting would give a further fillip to the Tibetan movement and put China under greater strain.

Washington's calculation seems to have worked as the Chinese foreign ministry has begun to resort to threats. It said it planned to slap sanctions on US companies that sell arms to Taiwan. It will also review all other areas of co-operation between the two countries.

Beijing is asking the US to cancel the deal. It might take some serious action to block the purchase of US goods and further hit the US economy at a time when the Obama administration is facing a political challenge caused by domestic unemployment, sources said.

Washington's decision will have a "serious negative impact on exchange and cooperation in major areas between the two countries, causing results that both sides do not want to see," He Yafei warned. \"China will make further judgments as appropriate,\" the official Xinhua news agency said.

There has been an improvement in the relationship between Beijing and Taipei since the government, believed to be pro-China, took over in Taiwan early last year. Taipei's decision to buy additional arms from the US will surely take the relationship in reverse gear.

Taiwan's defense ministry welcomed Friday's announcement. A defense spokesperson said the sale would give Taiwan "greater confidence in pushing for an amicable outcome in our relations with China.
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Delhi Police pulled up over firing near PM residence

New Delhi : Delhi police has been pulled up by the top brass of the security agencies for reportedly trying to cover up an incident of firing in the vicinity of the Prime Minister\'s residence here.

Official sources said the Home Ministry has sought a detailed report from the local police over the incident, which happened on January 28.

They said the top brass of the agencies have asked the Delhi Police why it did not keep them informed about the incident.

The sources said the agencies are trying to figure out who fired the rounds outside a well-known hotel close to 7, Race Course Road, the PM\'s residence.

Source said the shots were fired from a car which was leaving the hotel.

A senior official said the hotel\'s security officer had given a letter to the police about the firing 12 hours after the incident.

A letter was received by the SHO, Chanakyapuri from the security officer of the hotel mentioning the incident that happened 12 hours before police was informed. We are investigating the case,\" Additional Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) S Dass said.

He said the police have seized a vehicle alleged to have been used by those who fired and said though the identity of the accused has been established, he is yet to be arrested.
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Cueist fumes at Padma snub, writes to Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi : Miffed at being ignored for the Padma Shri award, two-time Asian champion cueist Yasin Merchant has shot off an emotional letter to AICC General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, ridiculing some of this year\'s awardees.

Merchant, in his two-page letter, has questioned the selection criteria for the award, saying his international achievements have been completely ignored.

In his letter, a copy of which is with t2tn, Merchant writes, \"All synonyms defining the word disappointment racked my body and as expected frustration too did an all body tour, pinching and biting every pore of my disillusioned body, as I browsed through the list of fortunate recipients who have been \'honoured\' by India.

The list was high profile, as it should be, comprising sports people who belong to the nation\'s most loved sport, whose earlier recipients did not even consider the Padma Award ceremony worthy of their presence, but they still get favoured.

The list included performers who are in their late 70\'s, 80\'s or even 90\'s, to whom it wouldn\'t matter if it was day or night. Not grudging their award, just the timing of their receiving it. The list included the \'elite\' who have just a few cases of alleged fraud tagged along their name.

Most importantly, the list included \'Youth Icons\' who have been conferred with Padma Bhushans and Padma Shris for setting such examples like being allegedly involved in killing endangered species, having live-in relationships, abandoning wives and kids and moving on to \'greener pastures\', getting involved in immature, juvenile digs at fellow performers. Are these the role models for our children?\" Merchant writes.

Speaking to t2tn over phone from Mumbai, the Busan Asian Games gold medallist said, \"I hope this letter gets read and I\'ll get the award in near future.\"

\"Deserving candidates like me who have given so many years to the country are being ignored at this year\'s list. They (government) didn\'t consider my name worthy. It\'s shameful and demoralising.
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After Pawar’s prediction, Amul hikes milk prices

Ahmedabad : Few days after Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar predicted rise in prices of milk, Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) selling its dairy products under the brand name \'Amul\' has decided to hike the milk prices in the state.

We have decided to hike the milk prices of our brands \'Taaza\' and \'Slim and Trim\' by Re 1 per litre, while the prices of our brands like \'Gold\' and \'Shakti\' shall be increased by Rs 2 per litre with effect from February 1 in Gujarat only,\" chief general manager GCMMF R S Sodhi said.

GCMMF has cited rise in input cost of raw material like cattle feed as a major reason behind the hike this year.

Due to increase in input cost, we have to pay more to the milk producers hence the prices rise,\" Sodhi said.

According to Sodhi, majority of milk unions dairies also members of GCMMF like Banaskantha dairy, Mehsana, Kaira, Vadodara and Surat have increased milk procurement price in the past and were presently paying average price of Rs 330 per kilo fat, which is 18 percent higher than previous year.

Still the Gujarat milk prices were lower than other parts of India, Sodhi said.

GCMMF had raised the milk prices by Re 1 per liter in August last citing rise in input cost. The price of its full cream milk shot up to Rs 27 per litre, from Rs 26 per litre post the hike.

With a network of 13 district co-operative milk producing unions, GCMMF has daily average milk collection of 8.4 million litres, and touched a sales turnover of Rs 67,113 million last fiscal, federation official said.
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Rajput group creates ruckus in Jaipur over Salman\'s Veer

Jaipur : A Rajput group violently protested against Salman Khan starrer Veer in Jaipur on Saturday.

The protestors, belonging to Rajput Ranvir Sena, ransacked Triton Mall in Jaipur against the screening of Veer claiming the movie hurts the sentiments of Rajput community and shows them in bad light.

A Rajput Ranvir Sena leader claimed that the film hurt the sentiments of the Rajput community by showing the warrior protagonist in poor light.

He also said that the Sena would sue the makers of the film.

We will file a suit in the court," said Sena leader Ajit Singh.

The protest by Rajput Ranvir Sena is not the first time that the community has drawn swords against a Bollywood film.

In February 2008, the Karni Sena staged a peaceful protest against the movie Jodhaa Akbar citing factual inaccuracies. They claim Jodhaa was the wife of Akbar\'s son Jehangir.

In January 2001, a group of Rajputs in Jaipur and Jodhpur protested outside movie halls screening Shyam Benegal\'s Zubeida. They were objecting to the portrayal the Maharaja of Jodhpur, Hanumant Singh.
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Mahatma Gandhi ashes to be scattered in South Africa

Gandhi\'s grand-daughter, Ela Gandhi, told the t2tn that a family friend had kept the ashes for decades. They were handed over to the family last year.

After Gandhi was assassinated 62 years ago, his ashes were distributed among family, friends and followers.

Ashes are customarily scattered over a body of water shortly after cremation.

These ashes will be scattered at sea exactly 62 years after his death.

Boats carrying about 200 family members and friends will be joined by South African navy vessels in the sea near Durban for the ceremony, Ms Gandhi, who lives in Durban, said.

Correspondents say it is difficult to estimate how many people received a portion of Gandhi\'s ashes after he was cremated in 1948.

The majority would probably have been scattered in a river or at sea shortly afterwards, according to Hindu custom.

\"A family friend, Vilas Mehta, decided to keep some of Gandhi\'s ashes as a memento, not realising that according to Hindu customs they should be immersed,\" Ms Gandhi told the t2tn.

She handed over a \"little silver container\" to her daughter-in-law on her death bed and told her to \"keep it very safe\".

\"The daughter-in-law thought the family should have the ashes and she brought it to us last year.

\"We started thinking - what shall we do with it? We had a couple of options. But then our broader family said, the ashes must be immersed.\"

In 2008, some of Gandhi\'s ashes, kept for years by an estranged son, were donated to a museum in Mumbai which arranged a ceremony to scatter them in the Arabian sea.

Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu fanatic on 30 January 1948.

Gandhi made South Africa his home for 21 years, working as a lawyer and activist.
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Power plants in state sector are better option than purchasing power, say PSEB Engineers

CHANDIGARH : Punjab should go for setting up power plants in state sector instead of relying on private sector projects and purchasing costly power to bridge the gap between power demand and supply.

PSEB Engineers association has made this submission before the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission during the public hearing held at Chandigarh .PSEB has shown in its Annual Revenue Requirement (ARR) for the year 2010-11 that it will purchase worth 5876 crores to maintain the power supply at reasonable level.

Padamjit Singh Patron of the association said that cost of power purchase including UI is the largest component in the ARR of PSEB. To bring PSEB out of debt trap and restore financial health of Board, long term measure need to be initiated so that the major portion of energy requirement of the State is met through long term power purchase agreements and the high cost power purchase through traders or UI is minimized.

Capacity addition is therefore, the high priority area which has to be addressed in the Tariff Order of each year. Since PSEB ARR petition contains the element of power purchase, PSEB must come out with a long term plan/measures to source power from cheaper sources.

As per ARR, PSEB is going to purchase high cost power varying from Rs.7.61 to Rs. 9.28 per unit for the year 2010-11 to bridge the gap between power demand and supply in the state .These purchases are from liquid fired thermal plants at Anta, Auriya and Dadri The total power purchase from the above plants is 37.5 million units, 29 million units and 153.1 million units respectively. The power purchase on short term basis has been put at 3255 million units at Rs. 6.09 per unit.

Padamjit Singh added that while shortage of funds is quoted as the main constraint of capacity addition, high cost power purchase drains out financial resources putting PSEB in to a vicious circle.

The CEA in its Load Generation balance review for 2009-10 (anticipated). Has maintained that in Punjab there will be shortage of power by 15.1 percent and 28.3 percent during peak load.

PSEB should give its action plan for meeting the requirements of energy and MW (Peak) demand on long term basis.PSEB is now depending primarily on private sector for capacity addition with the placement of order for Talwandi Sabo and Rajpura Projects in addition to Goindwal.

In the contracts with private sector date of start of work is from the date of financial closure of the company. The financial closure is linked with market conditions and other financial constraints of the company. It can be said with certainty that the projects get delayed due to manipulations by the companies.

Considering the enormous delay in execution of

oindwal project lingering since 2000, PSEB should disclose the precautions/ safeguards against undue or unlimited delay in Talwandi Sabo and Rajpura Projects. Talwandi Sabo has already been delayed by one year on the excuse of economic slow down.

The CEA in its document "White Paper on strategy for 11th plan\" has pointed out that \" Delay in critical supplies has emerged as the single most important reason for slippages in the 10th Plan. BHEL has already been asked to augment its capacity. A system of liquidated damages (LD) for delay in execution of project may be adopted to ensure timely completion of projects.

The Association has pointed out that when tenders were called for Goindwal project, and project was awarded to GVK, it could not be envisaged that this project would take nearly 10 years to start construction work. PSEB should therefore, be asked to take any additional steps to ensure that the projects now awarded do not suffer excessive delays.
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Most parents are unaware whether their children are obese or overweight

Amsterdam : Most parents are unaware whether their children are obese or overweight, being said in a new research done by Netherlands researchers.

Researchers from the University Medical Centre Groningen in The Netherlands did a study and found that most parents of kids aged 4 or 5 are not aware if their children are overweight or obese.

Professor Pieter Sauer from the Department of Paediatrics said, "It is vital that parents are aware of their children's weight if we are to prevent them becoming obese in later life."

Sauer concluded: "Our findings point to the need for health education programmes that encourage parents to recognize what is a normal healthy weight for their children and work with health professionals to tackle any weight problems."
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SRK and Kajol to ring the NASDAQ bell

Mumbai : Bollywood stars Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol are all set to ring the NASDAQ bell as the American stock exchange opens for business on Monday morning.

This is the first time that Indian stars have been invited to ring the opening bell for the exchange as an act of promotion for their upcoming film 'My Name Is Khan'

SRK and Kajol would be ringing the bell on behalf of Fox Searchlight Pictures which is distributing the film in the US market, a NASDAQ spokesman said.

With over 3,700 companies listed, the NASDAQ has more trading volume than any other stock market in the world.

"This prestigious event is usually reserved for CEOs of major corporations and is broadcast live on many television networks across the globe," Indian promoters of the movie in the US said.

Khan and Kajol have starred together in many successful films over the years including 'Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge' and 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai' which are both modern classics in Hindi cinema.

The Karan Johar directed film, which releases on February 12, will see the most sought after onscreen pair in Bollywood re-unite after eight years.

Shot across much of the United States, 'My Name Is Khan' will also have a star-studded premiere at the 60th annual Berlin International Film Festival during the week of its release.
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Tata Chem profit doubles to Rs 221 cr

MUMBAI : Tata Chemicals, on Friday, saw its net profit for the December quarter more than double on the back of higher volumes and a stable price


The Tata Group company, which has been leading the conglomerate's efforts to bring out innovative products for the mass market, said its net profit in the quarter totalled Rs 221 crore, compared with Rs 91 crore last year.

However, the company's sales fell 28% to Rs 2,622 crore during the period.

Tata Chemicals said its net profit for the quarter includes about Rs 12 crore from crop protection firm Rallis India, which became a subsidiary of the company in November.

During the period, the company witnessed demand growth in domestic as well as in international markets. However, there is a marginal pressure on the margins of some products, such as phosphatic fertilisers, due to a fall in global prices," managing director RK Mukundan said in a statement.

Tata Chemicals' research and development division played a major role in the group's December launch of 'Tata Swach', a low-cost water purifier, that could likely initiate a price war in the drinking water segment, currently dominated by consumer goods giants such as Hindustan Unilever and Eureka Forbes.

Tata Chemicals owns 50.06% equity in Rallis. The Mumbai-based company was cautious last year with its expansion plan due to global demand slump.

Mr Mukandan said since things have started improving, the company could revive its expansion programme. Tata Chemicals, on Friday, said it will increase manufacturing capacity for the branded salt facility by 50% and also double the capacity at its urea facility, over the next two years.

The group will invest Rs 180 crore to scale up salt production to 8 lakh tonne from 5 lakh tonne, while urea production will be doubled to 2.4 million tonne at an estimated investment of Rs 3,500 crore.

Mr Mukundan said funds for the expansion have been arranged through internal accruals and that work would commence soon. Expansion at Babrala's urea facility will start once the company gets the gas linkage, Mr Mukandan added.

Tata Chemicals' sales of edible salt has risen 20% on a y-o-y basis. "Our domestic edible salt market share has reached an all-time high of 61%," said Mr Mukundan. The company has three salt brands, including Tata Salt, I Skakti and Tata Salt Lite. Of these, Tata Salt continues to be the number one with a market share of about 44%. Shares of Tata Chemicals rose over 5% to close at Rs 297.60 on BSE.
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Drunk driver kills one, injures five cops in Mumbai

Mumbai : One man was killed and five policemen were injured when a 27-year-old drunk woman driver rammed into their vehicles early Saturday, police said.

The accident occurred just before 1 a.m. when Nuriya Yusuf Ahluwalia was speeding along the Marine Lines, an official of L.T. Marg police station said, adding that a medical examination showed the driver was under the influence of liquor.

She apparently lost control of her Honda CRV and rammed into a stationary traffic police Qualis and two other vehicles – a motorcycle and a taxi.

The motorcyclist, Afzal Mukhmojiya, 35, was taken to Saifee Hospital by police but was declared dead on arrival.

The five policemen injured are undergoing treatment at Bombay Hospital and Gokuldas Tejpal Hospital. They have been identified as Lala Shinde, Dinanath Shinde, Shilendra Jadhav, Ashok Shinde and Arjun Gaekwad.

Ahluwalia has been arrested.
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Friday, January 29, 2010

Notification on Police Commissioner system soon: Sukhbir

Jalandhar : A notification on introducing the Police Commissioner system in Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Amritsar cities will be issued within a week, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said on Wednesday.

\"There is a procedure to be adopted before issuing the notification. The same will be completed within a week,\" he he told reporters here.

Last week, the Punjab cabinet decided to introduce the the Police Commissioner system in the three cities as part of government\'s move to bring reforms in the administraton.

Sukhbir, who also holds the Home portfolio, said to strengthen the functioning of the state police, it was decided to monitor the performance of each district after every three months.

He said the Administrative Reforms Commission was likely to submit its preliminary report at its its meeting to be held on February five.

The Commission would submit its report in phases and, accordingly, its recommendations would be implemented, he said.
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I am functioning as a party worker: Amarinder

Chandigarh : Justifying his absence from state Congress functions due to reported differences with the state leadership, former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh said today said he has been touring the state as a \"party worker\" as he does not hold the post of state party chief or legislative party leader.

Hitting out at Punjab Congress President Mohinder Singh Kaypee and Leader of CLP Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Amarinder said both these leaders did not attend functions organised during the his chief ministerial tenure.

My job is to do what I can do as a party worker. I am not PPCC president or CLP leader. They should do their work,\" he said while justifying his absence from Maghi mela in Muktsar.

When I was the Chief Minister I used to be present at Maghi Mela and other similar occasions. Where were they (Kaypee and Bhattal) then?\" he questioned adding, \"I could not attend various party functions this time due to health reasons.\"

When pointed out that Bhattal had suggested that he should move over to national politics, Amarinder shot back, \"Bhattal is more qualified (politically) than me. She is a former chief minister, PPCC president, has been a member of the state assembly more times than me. She is senior to me.

She has more experience, Moreover there is also the convention of \'ladies first\'. Bhattal should instead move to the national politics.
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Pawar can\'t help it, says food prices will rise

New Delhi : Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Friday warned that prices of pulses and edible oil would go up further in the coming days.

In an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN Pawar said that India would have to import edible oil and pulses for the next 10 years.

Hundred per cent 100% and in 2011-12 the problem which Government of India will always worry about is what to do and where to store,\" replied Pawar when asked if he was projecting 2010-11 with lower prices.

He also made a candid admission that his many statements, played up by the media, are making international prices go up.

These types of making statement are unnecessary creating problems for prices. Nowadays media also gives disproportionate publicity. It affects because India has a different type of customer,\" said Pawar.

When asked about rising pulses prices, Pawar replied, \"We had to import pulses. Edible oil we had to import because day by day demand is growing, purchasing power of the weaker section is also improving. We\'re spending Rs 25,000 crore for the NREGA that has given tremendous thing to the rural poor and his topmost priority is to get all these items. So the demand is growing, which is a good thing. When we\'re observing 7 per cent growth in the country, definitely demand will grow. Though production is also improved, demand is further growing.\"

Pawar also said that re-look at the United Progressive Alliance Government\'s food subsidy scheme was needed and wondered if above poverty line families should get the same amount of food grains as below poverty line families.

However, he also offered some good news for the consumers saying that sugar prices would come down soon.
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New Yorkers smack down Gov. Paterson\'s plan to legalize ultimate fighting: poll

ALBANY : New Yorkers have given a swift kick to Gov. Paterson\'s plans to legalize ultimate fighting.

Sixty eight percent of state voters oppose Paterson\'s proposal to allow ultimate fighting - also known as mixed martial arts and its controversial steelcage matches as a way to generate much needed revenue, according to a new Marist poll.

Even among those groups who are more supportive, it still doesn\'t run up the score,\" said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist College Poll. Male voters opposed Paterson\'s proposal 55% to 43%, while females punched out the plan by a margin of 82% to 15%, according to Marist.

Even among younger voters aged 18 to 29, the plan could only generate a 50% approval rating, Miringoff said.

I think people find it too much on the violent side and not enough on the revenue side to matter,\" Miringoff said.

New York banned the sport in 1997 at the urging of then-Gov. George Pataki, who called it barbaric. Pataki has since changed his stance and come out in favor of Paterson\'s proposal.

Paterson argued that new regulations have made the sport safer. His budget projects raising $2.1 million from taxes on ultimate fighting matches.

Julie Wood, a spokeswoman for the Ultimate Fighting Championship league, said she wasn\'t shocked by the poll.

We understand that not everyone is going to be a fan of mixed martial arts, but UFC sells out arenas coast to coast and would do the same in New York and the tax revenue and economic impact of those events would benefit all New Yorkers,\" Wood said.
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Honda recalls 646,000 Jazz/Fit, City cars globally

Tokyo : Honda Motor Co said on Friday it would recall a total 646,000 units of the Fit/Jazz and City models globally, including 140,000 in the US.

The recall covers the models sold in North America, South America, Europe, South Africa and Asia, but not Japan, a spokeswoman said.

The Fit is Honda\'s best-selling model in Japan.

Honda said the recall was to fix a defective master switch, which could cause water to enter the power window switch and in some cases cause a fire.

There were three reported cases of fires due to the defect, two in the United States and one in South Africa, the spokeswoman said.

However, Honda Siel Cars India said on Friday that India will not be a part of the global vehicle recall, announced by its parent Honda, following reports of defects in some of its models.

\"There won\'t be any impact on the recall in India because the Jazz that is being sold in India is a second generation vehicle, which is not a part of the global recall,\" a Honda Siel official said.

The official said the Jazz that is being recalled globally is the previous generation model.

The company had launched the premium hatchback Jazz in India in June last year and has sold about 6,000 units so far.

Honda Siel Cars India Ltd, (HSCI) is a joint venture between Honda Motor Co Ltd, Japan and Siel Limited, a Siddharth Shriram Group company.

Honda has announced the recall of its Jazz model after reports of defective power window switches. A international media report said the company is recalling 6.46 lakh cars across different markets in the world.
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Chronic Sinusitis Patients would feel relief with minimally invasive surgery

Those patients who have been suffering from chronic sinusitis (persistent and recurrent inflammation in the nasal passages) would be feeling a sigh of relief with the use of a minimal invasive surgical procedure. This procedure would help in improving the quality of life of those patients. This has come out in a new study conducted by Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), headed by Dr. Timothy L. Smith.

A total of 302 patients with chronic sinusitis were included in the study, which was carried out between July 2004 and December 2008. The follow up study for the patients was done 18 months after the surgery. The result was that up to 76 percent of the participants showed an improvedquality of life with reduced pain and improved ability to function socially. .

Speaking about the study Dr Smith said the research showed how minimally invasive surgery could significantly help those affected by sinusitis live a better life.

Chronic sinusitis causes chronic congestion and drainage, along with other debilitating symptoms such as headaches, pain, sneezing, and pressure in the respiratory system.

The study would be significantly helpful in the treatment of the problem of chronic sinusitis and would certainly improve the quality of life of the patients after the surgery.
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Bill Gates promises $10 billion for vaccines

Switzerland : Bill and Melinda Gates said on Friday they would spend $10 billion over the next decade to develop and deliver vaccines, an increased commitment that reflects progress in the pipeline of products for immunising children in the developing world.

Over the past 10 years, the Microsoft co-founder\'s charity has committed $4.5 billion to vaccines and has been instrumental in establishing the GAVI alliance, a public-private partnership that channels money for vaccines in poor countries.

By increasing immunisation coverage in developing countries to 90 per cent, it should be possible to prevent the deaths of 7.6 million children under five between 2010 and 2019, Gates told reporters at the World Economic Forum.

Vaccination rates have already climbed remarkably in recent years, with even a poor African country like Malawi now boasting coverage rates similar to those in many Western cities. \"Over the last 10 years, the success of both increased vaccine coverage and getting new vaccines out has been phenomenal,\" Gates said.

More cash is now needed to make the most of new vaccines becoming available, including ones against severe diarrhoea and pneumonia from GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and Pfizer.

Further off, Glaxo is also in the final phase of testing a vaccine against malaria that Gates said could slash deaths from the mosquito-borne disease. Gates warned against the risk of governments diverting foreign aid funding for health towards climate change, arguing that health should stay a top priority -- not least because better health leads to a lower birth rate, which is critical for tackling global warming.
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UN chief knew about climate change error EIGHT WEEKS before summit

The controversial UN chief who admitted lying about climate change knew about his error two months before announcing it, according to reports last night.

Last week Dr Rajendra Pachauri was forced into a humiliating climbdown over claims the Himalayan glaciers could vanish within 25 years.

He said he had only just learned his prognosis had been refuted by experts, after the report in which they were included formed a key plank of proposals at the Copenhagen climate change summit.

But last night it emerged he had been told he was wrong about his date of 2035 by leading glacier experts eight weeks before the summit began.

Most glacier experts believe the Himalayan ice is so thick and at such high altitude it would take at least several hundred years to melt and some glaciers are currently growing.

Despite this, Dr Pachauri\'s alarmist claims appeared in an influential assessment by the Intergovernmetnal Panel on Climate Change delivered to world leaders.

The 938-page report stated: \'Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate.\'

The IPCC insisted contained their report contained the latest and most detailed evidence yet of the risks of man-made climate change.

But a prominent science journalist told The Times he had asked Dr Pachauri about the 2035 error last November after leading experts said he was 300 years out, and he ignored it.

Pallava Bagla who writes for the journal Science, interviewed him again last week and said in a taped conversation: \'I pointed it out [the error] to you in several emails, several discussion yet you decided to overlook it. Was that so that you did not want to destabilise what was happening in Copenhagen?\'

Dr Pachauri replied: \'Not at all, not at all. As it happens we were all terribly preoccupied with a lot of events.

We were working round the clock with several things that had to be done in Copenhagen. It was only when the story broke, I think in December, we decided to, well, early in January - that we decided to go into it.\'

And within three or four days we were able to come up with a clear and very honest and objective assessment of what happened.\'

Dr Pachauri has also been accused of using the error to win grants worth hundreds of thousands of pounds, The Times reported.

Mr Bagla claimed he had been told by Dr Pachauri that the problem would be dealt with in the IPCC\'s next report due in 2013 or 2014.

The 70-year-old Indian who trained as a railway engineer before acquiring PHDs in industrial engineering and economics even dismissed an Indian Government report suggesting the glaciers were not melting as \'voodoo science\'.

In a statement last week he apologised for the error in the report. \'In drafting the paragraph in question, the clear and well-established standards of evidence, required by the IPCC procedures, were not applied properly\', he said.

The chair, vice-chairs, and co-chairs of the IPCC regret the poor application of well-established IPCC procedures in this instance.\'
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Congress furious as Modi says he\'ll write to govt in Italian

NEW DELHI : The Sonia Gandhi vs Narendra Modi `battle\' resurfaced on Friday when the Gujarat chief minister raked up references to her Italian roots provoking a livid Congress to say that he had gone \"senile\".

Modi, who has been lying low since the Lok Sabha defeat, stirred political waters when he told a gathering in Gujarat that he would write to the Centre in Italian as his previous letters seeking control on prices had not yielded results.

Speaking at a Garib Kalyan Mela at Patan, Modi said, \"I have written a number of letters to central government... in the language they can understand urging them to take steps, to do something about the rising prices of food items. But, I think they have no sympathy for the poor people... now, I need to write a letter in Italian.\"

The barely disguised Modi bid to retrain focus on Congress chief\'s \"foreign origin\" drew a sharp reaction.

AICC spokesman Manish Tiwari said, \"Modi sathiya gaye hain (Modi has gone senile). You can only expect such preposterous rhetoric from an uncivilised person. I would not even want to dignify such comments by reacting to them.\"

The sharp reaction reflected the anger in Congress camp which has to contend with Modi\'s style of using Sonia\'s Italian origin to make a political point. They had run-ins during 2008 Gujarat assembly polls though there has been a long silence before erupting again on Friday.

Congress plans to project Modi\'s unbridled offensive as symptomatic of a weakening saffron central leadership losing control over its chief ministers. \"Atal Bihari Vajpayee had publicly upbraided Pramod Mahajan for his uncivil references to Congress chief. But now the leadership cannot even do it,\" Tiwari said.
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he Blair defence: September 11 changed the \'calculus of risk\'

London : The Chilcot inquiry heard that Tony Blair\'s \"mindset\" dramatically changed on 11 September 2001. The attacks had a profound influence on his approach to risks and threats, including now from Iran, a country he named on numerous occasions. \"The crucial thing after September 11 was the calculus of risk changed,\" he said in his opening evidence. \"I never regarded September 11 as an attack on America, I regarded it as an attack on us.\"

He made clear, therefore, that it did not matter there was no evidence of any link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida: Britain, and the US, could no longer tolerate the risk posed by countries that had, or wanted to acquire, weapons of mass destruction.

September 11 \"completely changed our assessment of where the risks lay\", Blair told the inquiry. He added: \"The primary consideration for me was to send an absolutely powerful message after September 11 – if you were a regime engaged in WMD, you had to stop.\" That was particularly the case with \"brutal\" regimes. \"The nature of the regime did make a difference to the nature of the WMD threat,\" Blair insisted.

He said that was why \"today\" he believed Iran, a country \"linked up with terrorist groups\", posed a particularly dangerous threat. He referred to intelligence on Saddam\'s plans to acquire nuclear weapons. He added: \"We face the same problem about Iran today.\"

The former prime minister persisted with the theme of combined risks and threats when he was asked why he believed the time had come to invade Iraq in March 2003. He replied: \"It\'s a judgment we had to make. After September 11, I wasn\'t willing to run that risk … it is not about a lie, a deception, a conspiracy. It is a decision. Could we take that risk? … what this is all about is a risk.
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Show due diligence, Ministry asks students going abroad

New Delhi : Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur on Friday reiterated the government's advice to students going abroad to exercise due diligence, even as Australian High Commissioner Peter Varghese called on the Indian media to set the record straight after it emerged that all the three accused of murdering Ranjodh Singh in New South Wales (NSW) were Indians.

Ms. Kaur, who accompanied family members of Ranjodh Singh to the airport here to receive the body, termed the attacks on Indians unfortunate. "The Indian government will do whatever is required," she told journalists. But after it emerged that all the accused in the Ranjodh Singh case were Indians, the Ministry of External Affairs put out a release in which Ms. Kaur was quoted as advising all prospective students to Australia to "carefully apprise themselves of the ground realities including suitability of the institution in question, costs involved and consular procedures."

In a statement, Mr. Varghese, "welcomed advice" that the NSW police had arrested three persons in connection with the murder of 25-year-old Ranjodh Singh, whose burnt body was found in Griffith on December 29, a couple of days after he was killed. Gurpreet Singh, 23, his 20-year-old wife Harpreet Bhullar and another Indian have been charged with the murder.

Mr. Varghese said the arrests underlined the importance of allowing investigations to run their course and not jumping to conclusions based on initial reports. The identity of those arrested, who he underlined were Indians, as well as the conclusions reached by the investigation, "clearly" showed that racism had not been a factor. Mr. Varghese said this case was widely reported as a racist attack and he expressed the hope that Indian media which carried such reports would now set the record straight.

He reiterated Australia's commitment to bring to swift justice the perpetrators of attacks against Indian nationals. He stressed that Australia's police forces and courts would continue to come down hard on all instances of violence.

Providing an update on police action, the High Commissioner said more than 50 people were arrested so far in connection with the cases involving Indian nationals. Three murders of Indian nationals, including Ranjodh Singh, had occurred since late December 2009. On January 6, Chamanjot Singh, faced court on the charge of killing his wife Manpreet Kaur at their home in Sydney on December 29.

However, the police were unable to make any breakthrough in the case of the death of Nitin Garg in Melbourne on January 2. The police held a re-enactment of his final walk on January 23 in an effort to prompt information from the public. The Victorian police were treating the case as a matter of the highest priority and asked any witnesses to come forward, said Mr. Varghese.
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Haldiram\'s owner gets lifer for murder

A Kolkata fast track court convicted Prabhu Shankar Agarwal, owner of Haldiram confectionary chain, and four others life imprisonment for conspiring to murder a vendor about five years ago.

According to the sentence announced on Friday by the fourth city sessions judge Tapan Sen, they have been punished for conspiring to murder Satyanarayan Thakur on March 30, 2005.

The other four are contract killers Gopal Tiwari, Agarwal's manager and linkman between Agarwal and Tiwari, Arun Khandelwal, and Tiwari's henchmen Raja Sonkar and Manoj Thakur.

Criminal conspiracy and an attempt to murder under sections 120B and 307 of the Indian Penal Code were slapped on Agarwal and the contract killers he appointed. They carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Earlier on Friday, Agarwal pleaded for mercy citing employee interest. He employs 1,000 people, who will suffer, argued his lawyer.

Friday was the last working day for Tapan Sen. Agarwal can appeal against this sentence to a higher court.

Agarwal had hired Gopal Tiwari to finish off Thakur who refused to shift his tea stall from the ground floor of a multi-storeyed building, which Agarwal had bought in 2000.

Agarwal succeeded in evicting all the tenants from the groundfloor of the building except Thakur who had a 170-square foot tea stall. Thakur obtained a stay from the High Court after a city civil court directed him to vacate the premises in 2004.

When, in the last week of March 2005, Thakur refused the Rs 4 lakh offer Agarwal made to him, Tiwari was hired to eliminate the obstinate Thakur.

But the bullets that Tiwari and his accomplices fired at 5 in the morning of 30th of March 2005 hits Thakur's 18-year old nephew Pramod Sharma in the leg.

The judge had pronounced Agarwal, Tiwari and three other accomplices guilty of conspiracy to murder on Wednesday. They were taken to Alipore Central Jail from the court itself.

The Haldiram journey began in 1937 from Bikaner in Rajasthan. It has now spread all over the country and has even found market overseas.

Prabhu Shankar Agarwal's father Rameswarlal came to Kolkata in the mid-fifties and opened his first shop in Burrabazaar in 1958.

The company claims to have exceeded a turnover of $4 million.
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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Punjab Govt announces Shiromani Sahit Awards

CHANDIGARH : The Punjab Government today announced the Punjabi Shiromani Sahit Awards for the years 2009 and has selected noted writer Kartar Singh Duggal for the most prestigious 'Punjabi Sahit Ratan' award worth Rs 5 lakhs. H.S Bawa of Punjabi Daily Ajit is selected for Shiromani Pattarkar award.

It has been agreed upon by Punjab State Language Advisory Board meeting held here Thursday. Dr. Upinderjit Kaur, Education and Language Minister, Punjab presided over the meeting.

During the meeting, 17 personalities were unanimously chosen for different Shiromani awards by the board which included 'Shiromani Punjabi Sahitkar' award to be conferred to Piara Singh Bhogal, 'Shiromani Hindi Sahitkar' award to Ravinder Kalia while Sh. Rajinder Nath Rehbar has been selected for 'Shiromani Urdu Sahitkar' award.

Dr. Upinderjit Kaur, Education and Language Minister, said that 'Shiromani Sanskrit Sahitkar' award would be given to Prof. Jagdish Prasad Semwal and 'Shiromani Punjabi Kavi' award to Jaswant Deed. Rajinder Singh Bhaseen has been chosen for 'Shiromani Punjabi Gyan Sahitkar/Alochik' award, while Darshan Gill would be conferred with 'Shiromani Punjabi Sahitkar (overseas)' award. Besides this, Mohan Kahlon for 'Shiromani Punjabi Sahitkar' award (outside Punjab) and Mahinder Singh Manupuri for 'Shiromani Punjabi Bal Sahitkar Lekhak' award.

H.S Bawa has been selected for 'Shiromani Punjabi Patarkar' award, Eedu Shariff for 'Shiromani Ragi/Dhadi/Kavishar' award and Om Puri for 'Shiromani Punjabi Television/ Radio/ Theater/ Play/ Producer/Writer' award and 'Shiromani Punjabi Singer/Musician' award would be awarded to Paramjeet Singh Sidhu (Pammi Bai) whereas the newly instituted 'Shiromani Punjabi Sahit Patarkarita Puraskar' would be conferred to Sh Raghubeer Singh Sirjina, she said.

The Minister further said that the Advisory Board also decided to honour Sh Roop Singh (SGPC) and renowned photo artist Sh Tej Pratap Singh Sandhu with special awards along with cash prize of Rs. two lac each for their valuable contribution. It has also been agreed upon in the meeting to institute a new award to honour the active Punjabi journalists working overseas with Shiromani Punjabi Parvasi Patarkar Purskar.

She said that a deputation of Advisory Board would meet Advisor UT Chandiagrh and Governer of Punjab to implement Punjabi in the offices of Union Territory. Besides this, another deputation headed by Chief Minister Punjab Sh Parkash Singh Badal, would also met Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to demand 2nd language status in Punjabi speaking areas of haryana, Himachal Pradesh, J & K, Delhi, Uttrakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan state.

The board members also mourned the sad demise of 32 Sahitkars who had passed away in the past. Among others Sh. KBS Sidhu Principal Secretary Higher Education, Jasbir Singh Bir Director Cultural Affairs and Balbir Kaur Director Languages Department were also present in the meeting.
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Few key commodities driving inflation: RBI

Mumbai : The current phase of inflation in India is driven by increase in prices of a few commodities such as sugar, oil cakes, food grains, eggs, meat, fish and drugs and medicines, the Reserve Bank said on Thursday.

Since the above commodities have a combined weight of 14.8 per cent in overall wholesale price index (WPI), it explains a significant part of the inflation during recent months, the RBI said in its Third Quarter Review of Macroeconomic and Monetary Developments for this fiscal (FY 10).

However, the contribution of these key drivers has come down in December 2009, indicating early signs of inflation getting generalised, the apex bank said.

Commodities with zero or negative inflation, however, had an aggregate weight of 50.7 per cent in the WPI, it said.

In terms of contribution to overall inflation by the major groups, primary articles group continues to drive the overall WPI inflation, besides the manufactured food products.

"The contribution of non-food manufactured products group, which waned during the declining phase of inflation, has also started to increase in recent months," the RBI said.

On the fuel group, it said that its contribution which was significantly negative since January 2009, has now shown a reversal of trend in recent months "and now contributes positively to overall inflation."

Prices of the essential commodities group increased by 21.9 per cent YoY in December 2009, driven by food items, particularly sugar, eggs, fish, meat, milk, rice, vegetables and pulses, all of which had recorded double-digit inflation ranging from 54 per cent (sugar) to 13.4 per cent (milk), the RBI said.

Non-food primary articles - raw cotton and oilseeds - prices also increased on YoY basis while minerals prices, registered a decline on a YoY basis, it said.

Primary articles prices have increased by 14.3 per cent as on January 9 over the end-March 2009 level of the index.

During the current financial year, vegetables and pulses prices have been the key drivers of the increase in primary food prices, so far, the Apex Bank said.

Some part of the vegetable prices increase could also be attributed to the seasonal hardening of prices during Q3, which usually declines during the January-March quarter with the arrival of the winter crop, it added.

On pulses, the RBI said that its inflation increased on account of the significant reduction in kharif pulses output during 2009-10 (an 8.3 per cent decline).

"The current rabi sowing, however, indicates an improvement in overall pulses cropping (5.8 per cent increase as on January 15), which could help in dampening some of the price pressures by end-this fiscal," the RBI said.

Among non-food articles, raw cotton and oilseeds prices increased, moving in line with international prices which increased by more than 25 per cent (oilseeds) and around 38 per cent (cotton) since December 2008 when prices hit a trough.

Oilseeds output is expected to decline by 15.1 per cent for the kharif crop during 2009-10, it said, adding that however, cotton output, is expected to increase by 2.2 per cent.

The Reserve Bank said that import of food has also been viewed as an option to contain high food inflation.

"It may, however, be noted that recent increase in international food prices have limited the scope of import being a significant option to check price rise," it said.

Fuel group inflation remained significantly negative since December 2008 but turned positive in December 2009, reflecting the base effect of downward revision of administered prices in December 2008.

During the current financial year (up to January 9), fuel prices have increased by about 9.2 per cent.

Price of furnace oil increased at 60.2 per cent, bitumen at 15.4 per cent, aviation turbine fuel, 46.8 per cent, light diesel oil 27.6 per cent and naphtha 52.5 per cent, it said.

Basic metals, alloys and products' sub-group of manufactured products registered negative inflation YoY in December 2009, mainly on account of a decline in the prices of iron and steel.

There was, however, a marginal increase in the price of steel sheets. Indicating a revival in construction activity, prices of iron bar and rods also increased.
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SAIL net doubles to Rs. 1,676 cr

New Delhi : Steel Authority of India Ltd. (SAIL) on Wednesday posted robust results with its profit nearly doubling to Rs.1,675.55 crore for the October-December quarter on account of improved sales, cheaper input cost and low base.

"Our sales volume has gone up by about 24.5 per cent to 2.9 million tonnes in the third quarter of the current fiscal compared to that in the same quarter of the previous year. Our cost of imported coal was much lower in the quarter," SAIL Chairman and Managing Director S. K. Roongta told reporters here.

Low base

The low base effect also contributed to almost 99 per cent increase in profit. The company had a net profit of Rs.843.34 crore during October-December 2008. However, Mr. Roongta said he anticipated a hike in steel prices due to pressure on input cost. "If the contracted rates for coal for the next financial year are higher, it will exert pressure on input cost and may lead to increase in prices," he added.

SAIL also declared a dividend of Rs.1.60 per share for 2009-10.

The company pays over $100 a tonne this fiscal to companies from which it is importing coal.

In 2008-09, SAIL had bought coking coal at a contracted rate of about $300 a tonne. It is undertaking a massive Rs.70,000-crore expansion to take capacity to 23.2 million tonnes from 14 million tonnes now. The state-run company is planning Rs.12,000-13,000 crore capital expenditure in the next financial year.

Mr. Roongta said the company hoped to improve output and sales in the March quarter as demand from automobile and construction sectors was expected to pick up. "There is generally good demand. We expect to improve our production and sales during the current quarter. We have to reckon to the fact that overall global capacity utilisation is still at lower levels. Increased demand will be met out of increased supplies," the Chairman added.
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Rotavirus vaccine can combat diarrhea, save millions of lives, say studies

In a breakthrough invention, scientists claim to have found the cure to the deadly rotavirus that kills millions of children with diarrhoea worldwide.

The study conducted at PATH, a non-profit organisation, revealed that immunizing infants against rotavirus could save two million children who die of diarrhea each year.

Dr. Kathleen Neuzil, lead author of the study and senior advisor for immunization at PATH, said, "A disease that may be a nuisance in the U.S. can be a killer in a poorer country."

Neuzil also added that, "Death from diarrheal disease in general is the second-leading cause of death among kids in developing nations."

Two studies conducted on effects of vaccine

Researchers conducted one study in Malawi, southeastern African country, and South Africa, where they divided 5,000 infants into three groups to deliver three different amounts of the vaccine.

One-third of the infants were given three doses, another one-third were given two measures and the remaining one-third were given a placebo--medicine given mainly for mental benefit than physical good.

The research team then visited these groups regularly for weeks and collected their stool samples to know of any rotavirus infections.

The team found that the children who were given either three or two dosages had 61 percent lesser tendency of developing rotavirus contagion.

The team also found that the efficacy of the vaccine in Malawi, which is a relatively poor country, was 49 percent, whereas this percentage in South Africa was a whopping 77.

Similar study was conducted in Mexico which revealed that diarrhea deaths in Mexican children less than 11 months of age had reduced to 66 percent after vaccination.

Statistics of 2003-2006 showed that around 1,793 Mexican children less than five years of age died of diarrhea-linked diseases each year. This number fell to 1,118 by the year 2008.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has proposed that children in developing nations be vaccinated against rotavirus, with the first dosage to be given between six and 15 weeks of age.

"Rotavirus vaccine is a very powerful tool to combat one of the leading causes of childhood deaths -- diarrhea," said Dr. Mathuram Santosham, professor of international health

and pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.

"The challenge now is to make sure that every poor child in the world has access to this life-saving intervention," Santosham added.

Details of the study appear in the New England Journal of Medicine.
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