Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Romanian referendum invalid due to low turnout

ROMANIA, July 31, 2012

Romanian election officials declared on late Sunday that a referendum to impeach the nation's president on grounds that he overstepped his authority had failed because of low voter turnout.

The Central Election Bureau put the voter turnout in Sunday's referendum on President Traian Basescu at 45.92 percent, with a 3 percent margin of error. By law, such referendums are invalid if less than half the electorate cast ballots. The bureau did not immediately give the outcome of the vote, but two exit polls showed more than 80 percent favored impeaching Mr. Basescu.

"I assure Romanians that once I return ... I will try and generate a sentiment of reconciliation in society," Mr. Basescu said as he announced he had survived the vote. "It's clear that Romanians are unhappy about what has happened in recent years. Divisions in society must be stopped; they must be annihilated, because Romania needs all its energy to integrate into the civilized world."

Mr. Basescu was accused by his rivals in the government of violating the constitution by overstepping his authority to interfere in the daily running of the country, appointing loyalists to key positions in the justice system and using the secret services against his political rivals.

The political turmoil has dented Romania's credibility, with the U.S. and European Union expressing doubts about the left-leaning government's respect for the independence of the judiciary. Critics accuse the government leader, Prime Minister Victor Ponta, of orchestrating the effort to oust Mr. Basescu. Mr. Ponta claimed the president was behind an effort to make public a scandal involving allegations that Ponta had plagiarized his 2004 doctoral thesis.

Mr. Basescu claimed his rivals were planning to seize control of the judicial system and European Union funds. Romania joined the EU in 2007.

Mr. Basescu, a former ship captain, called the impeachment process a political vendetta carried out by his opponents and urged supporters to boycott the vote a tactic that apparently helped him survive.

Mr. Basescu, who has been president since 2004, saw his approval numbers drop after the government introduced austerity measures in 2010 to meet demands by the International Monetary Fund in exchange for a multibillion euro (dollar) loan. The government cut public wages by one-fourth and raised the sales tax to 24 percent, one of the highest in the EU.
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At 49, China’s Tamil radio station plans an expansion

BEIJING, July 31, 2012

The state-run China Radio International's Tamil radio station, the most popular of its more than 60 international channels, marked its 49th anniversary here on Sunday announcing plans to expand its presence in India by launching broadcasts on local FM radio stations.

CRI Tamil, which broadcasts on shortwave in Tamil Nadu where it has an extensive network of listeners' clubs run by 25,000 registered listeners, is in talks with FM radio stations in Chennai to launch a daily two-hour broadcast, Zhao Jiang, CRI Tamil's director, told The Hindu.

CRI Tamil launched an FM broadcast on Colombo's FM 102 station in 2010, a move that has enabled it to expand its listeners' base in Sri Lanka this past year. The channel now broadcasts for four hours in Sri Lanka every day, at 1.30 p.m. and 7.30 p.m.

Quiet celebration

CRI Tamil held a quiet celebration to mark its anniversary here on Sunday, inviting members of Beijing's Tamil community, mostly from Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. The channel has a grander plan to mark its 50th anniversary this year, and will invite listeners from India to visit China. CRI, one of Beijing's four main state-run media outlets along with the Xinhua news agency, China Central Television (CCTV) and the English-language China Daily newspaper, is now at the centre of an $8 billion expansion, part of China's plans to boost its "soft power" overseas.

At CRI's 70th anniversary celebrations last year, the channel was called upon by the Communist Party's propaganda chief and Polit Bureau member Li Changchun to "create favourable international opinions about China and constantly boost its soft power." As China's only world service radio station, he said CRI would be developed into "a world first-rate broadcaster with increasing global influence."

Founded in 1941

CRI was founded in 1941, before the People's Republic was established, at the Communists' revolutionary base in Yanan. It broadcasts in 61 languages today, with 3,000 hours of daily programming.

Much of the "soft power" expansion drive of the four main state-run media outlets has been directed, so far, at the West — Xinhua's opening of a new office at Times Square in New York and the launch of a 24-hour English news-channel to emulate the success of Al Jazeera have made global headlines.

CCTV\'s English channel has opened a U.S. office and has begun to broadcast exclusive programming tailored for American audiences, while China Daily has launched editions across Europe, where it is available for free in many cities.

Prominence in Asia

CRI is playing a prominent role in Asia, where its broadcasts have enjoyed wide following for decades, particularly in South and Southeast Asia. CRI Tamil has listeners in Tamil Nadu, the rest of India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia and also in Europe and the United States.

Last year, CRI's Urdu channel launched FM broadcasts in Pakistan, shortly after CRI Tamil's FM debut in Sri Lanka.

The Tamil station, launched in 1963, is widely popular for its programmes on Chinese culture and language. Its content generally refrains from engaging with overtly political issues, and devotes much of its attention to the arts.

Staff growth

The station has grown over the past 49 years. Starting with a small seven-member part-time Chinese staff, it functions today with 19 full-time Chinese staff — all fluent in Tamil and mostly graduates of the Communications University of China, which initiated a Tamil programme primarily to cater to CRI's needs. The station also employs two Indian staff.

Speaking in fluent Tamil, the station's director, Ms. Zhao, who prefers to go by the name Kalaimagal, said the station received 5,00,000 letters from its fans in India and elsewhere every year year — more than any other CRI station and accounting for one-sixth of all correspondence received by the 61 channels. She said the channel was interested in launching FM broadcasts in India to reach out better to its listeners.

The channel is currently available on shortwave, broadcasting every day at 7.30 a.m. and 7.30 p.m., and also broadcasts online through its website.
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Anti-nuke protesters surround Japanese parliament

TOKYO, July 31, 2012

Thousands of people are rallying around Japan's parliament complex to demand that the government abandon nuclear power after last year's Fukushima crisis.

Also Sunday is a closely watched regional election. Voters are choosing a governor in south-western Yamaguchi Prefecture, where an outspoken anti-nuclear candidate is running.

Sunday's rally is the latest in a series of peaceful demonstrations in Japan, including weekly Friday evening protests outside the Prime Minister's residence.

The crowds have not dwindled, and public discontent has grown to levels unseen in decades.

Protesters say they are angry that the government restarted two reactors earlier this month, despite safety worries after the multiple meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

All 50 working reactors in Japan went offline in May due to routine checks.
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Turkey in spearhead role against Syria

DUBAI, July 31, 2012

Syria's offensive to recover lost ground in Aleppo is fast crystallising an American-backed anti-regime military alliance in the region with Turkey as its frontline state.

On Saturday, government forces and the armed opposition clashed in the Aleppo's al-Furqan and Sleiman al-Halabi neighbourhoods, state media reported. According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human

Rights, 29 people were killed in Aleppo on Saturday out of a total of 168 who died across the country during the day. Fighting in Syria has spiralled after a recent bomb blast killed the country's top four security officials, including the defence minister.

As Syrian forces consolidate around Aleppo, Syria's commercial capital, the drumbeat of an impending human catastrophe — the perfect recipe for an international "humanitarian intervention" — is growing louder by the day.

After meeting Turkish Premier, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, British Prime Minister David Cameron said in London that Britain and Turkey were "concerned" that the Syrian government led by President Bashar-al Assad was about to carry out \"some truly appalling acts around and in the city of Aleppo\".

On his part, Mr. Erdogan was even more compelling in making a case for intervention. \"There is a build-up in

Aleppo, and the recent statements with respect to the use of weapons of mass destruction are actions that we cannot remain an observer or spectator to,\" he observed.

In Abu Dhabi, Abdelbasset Sida, the visiting head of the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC), addressing a news conference on Sunday, warned that the groups' "friends and allies will bear responsibility for what is happening in Aleppo if they do not move soon." Some analysts point out that the opposition and its supporters want Aleppo to play the rear-base role that Benghazi performed in the anti-regime revolt in Libya.

With Russia and China blocking the United Nations Security Council as the route for the imposition of sanctions or worse against Syria, Mr. Sida called for action against Damascus "from outside the Security Council through an Arab League initiative and through a resolution passed by the General Assembly".

In tandem with Mr. Erdogan's observations, Reuters is reporting that the Turkish city of Adana, with the help of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, is hosting a full-fledged "nerve centre" from where the anti-regime revolt is being directed. \"It\'s the Turks who are militarily controlling it. Turkey is the main coordinator/facilitator. Think of a triangle, with Turkey at the top and Saudi Arabia and Qatar at the bottom,\" Reuters said quoting a Doha-based source.

The formation of the centre in Adana — signalling Turkey's transition into a full-fledged frontline state in the anti-regime rebellion — followed a request by Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Saud, the deputy foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, during a visit to Turkey.

With the armed opposition seemingly acquiring greater cohesion and coordination, Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, addressing a media conference in Sochi asserted that, \"Our Western partners ... together with some of Syria\'s neighbours are essentially encouraging, supporting and directing an armed struggle against the regime\".

Mr. Lavrov, who has long opposed Western support for "regime change," also said that it would be unrealistic to expect Syrian forces not to fight when armed fighters were occupying Aleppo. \"How can you hope that in such a situation, the government will simply reconcile itself and say \'All right, I was wrong. Come on and topple me, change the regime\'?\"

Syrian forces engaged in combat allege that their country is being targeted by motley of Islamic extremists drawn from far corners of the globe, including Afghanistan, and neighbouring countries such as Tunisia and Iraq.

Corroboration about the involvement of al-Qaeda or similar groups in Syria has come from an unexpected quarter — the BND or the German intelligence service. In response to a parliamentary question, the German government basing its information on the BND disclosed that "around 90 terror attacks that can be attributed to organisations that are close to al-Qaeda or jihadist groups were carried out in Syria between the end of December and the beginning of July".
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Syria vows to rout rebels in Aleppo

CAIRO, July 31, 201

Syria on Sunday vowed to crush the opposition rebels in Aleppo, where government forces were carrying out air and ground attacks on rebel-held areas in the northern city for a second straight day.

Asserting that his country was facing a "global plot," Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said: "The Syrian people are determined not only to confront this plot but also to achieve victory ... They (the rebels) were defeated in Damascus and will be defeated in Aleppo." The Syrian Minister was speaking at a press conference in Tehran with his Iranian counterpart Ali-Akbar Salehi.

Government troops on Sunday intensified their attacks on Aleppo to regain control of areas held by rebels seeking to topple the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Helicopter gunships fired on the district of Salaheddine, south-east of Aleppo, which is Syria's commercial hub, according to activists.

"Fierce clashes are taking places in the districts of Bab al-Hadid, al-Zahara and al-Arqub (in northern Aleppo)," said the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The rebels said they had blocked the army from entering several districts in Aleppo and destroyed many tanks. Their claims could not be independently verified.

The outcome of the battle in Aleppo could determine the course of the uprising against al-Assad's regime.

The opposition and Western nations have warned of a possible massacre in Aleppo, a city of more than 2 million people.
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3 dead as storm hits Philippines

MANILA, July 31, 2012

A tropical storm roughed up seas and dumped torrents of monsoon rain as it swept past the Philippines, leaving at least three people dead, knocking out power and forcing many offices and schools to close on Monday.

The wild weather whipped up by Tropical Storm Saola as it roared off the country's northeast was compounded a separate low-pressure area that lashed Manila overnight with tornado-like winds and a powerful thunderstorm. Many parts of Manila were without power on early Monday and low-lying areas were flooded.

The low-pressure had dissipated by midday and Saola, which was packing winds of 105 kilometers per hour and gusts of 135 kph was expected to blow out of the country toward Taiwan on Thursday, according to Manila's weather bureau.

Benito Ramos of the Office of Civil Defense said three people had died in the storm and another six were missing. One of the men who died had an asthma attack while he and other passengers were being rescued from an inter-island ferry that ran aground in rough seas late Sunday off central Romblon province.

Separately, two barges that drifted off of a Manila pier smashed into a row of wooden shanties on stilts in the city's Tondo slum community, destroying dozens of huts but causing no injuries.

Coast guard officer Noli Casiano said residents fled from the wind and waves before the empty barges rammed their homes.

"We fled to safety as the waves suddenly grew strong and the wind howled," Ivy Rosario, a mother of two, told The Associated Press.

"When we came back, everything was destroyed," said Ms. Rosario, pointing to the debris-littered waters near where her home once stood. Some villagers jumped into the water to try to salvage floating belongings.

Saola is the seventh of 20 storms and typhoons expected to hit the Philippines this year. Saola is the name of a rare mammal found in Vietnam and Laos.
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Rohingyas are not citizens: Myanmar minister

YANGON, July 31, 2012

The Myanmar government on Monday insisted that the Rohingya minority group, the target of communal violence last month, have no claim to Myanmar citizenship.

"They are not included among our more than 130 ethnic races," said Myanmar Immigration Minister Thein Htay .

Since 1982, the government has classified an estimated 750,000 Rohingyas living in its western Rakhine State as stateless Bengali Muslims from neighbouring Bangladesh, leaving them vulnerable to persecution, discrimination and abuse.

Last month, a mob of ethnic Rakhine Buddhists killed 10 of the Rohigyas in revenge for the alleged rape and murder of a Rakhine woman by three Rohigyas.

The incident sparked a wave of communal clashes that left up to 80 dead and hundreds of houses burned.

Myanmar authorities arrested three UNHCR staff during the unrest.

"The government has sound evidence that the three UN employees were involved in the Rakhine riots," said Mr Thein Htay who is also the Border Affair Minister, in the first official explanation of the arrests.

"We haven't had any access to them," UNHCR spokeswoman Vivian Tan said in Bangkok. "We are still unaware of what they've been charged with." she added.

UN human rights expert Tomas Ojea Quintana arrived in Myanmar over the weekend to investigate the Rakhine violence.

Although Myanmar, which was ruled by a junta between 1988 and 2010, is now under nominal civilian rule there is no indication that the new regime has changed its attitude towards the Rohingyas, many of whom have lived in Myanmar for generations.

"It is totally impossible to accept illegal Rohingyas," President Thein Sein told visiting UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Antonio Guterres earlier this month. He suggested the UNHRC seek resettlement for the Rohinyas abroad, or set up refugee camps for them.

There are an estimated 30,000 Rohingyas already living in UNHCR camps in neighbouring Bangladesh, fleeing persecution in Myanmar.
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SC gives green signal for beaching of US ship

NEW DELHI, July 31, 2012

The Supreme Court today granted permission for controversial US ship Oriental Nicety, earlier known as 'Exxon Valdez', involved in one of the worst US oil spills off Alaska in 1986, to beach at Gujarat coast and permitted its owner to dismantle the vessel.

A bench of justices Altamas Kabir and J.Chelameshwar passed the order after considering the various reports submitted by the Centre, Gujarat Maritime Board and the Atomic Regulatory Board that the ship was free from hazardous material.

The bench said "we direct the concerned authorities to allow the ship in question to beach and permit the ship owner to proceed with the dismantling of the ship after complying with all the requirements of the Gujarat Maritime Board, the Gujarat Pollution Control Board and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board.

"It is made clear that if any toxic wastes embedded in the ship structure are discovered during its dismantling, the concerned authorities shall take immediate steps for their disposal at the cost of the owner of the vessel, M/s Best Oasis Ltd, or its nominee or nominees," the bench said in its order.

The apex court also said that in all future cases of similar nature, the authorities shall strictly comply with the norms laid down in the Basel Convention.

Owners of the ship M/s Best Oasis Ltd had denied the allegation that the ship contain hazardous material and sought permission for beaching and anchoring on the ground that it was incurring huge demurrage charges.

The Centre's senior counsel Ashok Bhan had submitted the Union Shipping Ministry had no say in the matter as the Gujarat Maritime Board had found that the ship had been converted from an oil tanker to a bulk carrier in 2008 and there was no sign of any hazardous/toxic substance on board as informed by the state's counsel Hemantika Wahi.
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Ex-combatants look forward to a new life in Sri Lanka

COLOMBO, July 31, 2012

"Neengal ennai nambalam, naanum ungalai nambukiren" [You can trust me, I also trust you], the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa told a gathering of former Tamil Tiger combatants, who were rehabilitated under a government-aided programme.

The combatants — who had been captured or had surrendered during various stages of the Eelam War IV between the Sri Lankan forces and the Tamil Tigers — were segregated on the basis of nature of their offences. Of the nearly 12,000 declared fit for rehabilitation, a vast majority opted to learn trades such as carpentry, weaving and machinery work.

In the first phase, the government — in association with Commercial Banks — has extended loans totalling LKR 200 million (1 INR = 2.5 LKR), to 1685 beneficiaries, who were invited to Temple Trees, the official residence of the Sri Lankan President. The maximum loan amount for an individual was 2.5 lakh, and the average loan given was about 1.5 lakh. The soft loan came at four per cent interest.

The President recalled his school days to drive home the point that the Tamil and Sinhala communities lived in peace and camaraderie.

"30 varsham neengal patta kashtam podum" [The sufferings that you underwent in 30 years is enough], he said and wanted the ex-combatants to join him in creating a new strong and united Sri Lanka.
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In signs of PLA shift, Chinese Defence Minister proposes India visit

BEIJING, July 31, 2012

China's Defence Minister General Liang Guanglie has expressed his keenness to visit New Delhi this year to cement defence ties with India before the once-in-decade leadership transition gets under way in Beijing, Chinese sources have told The Hindu.

General Liang will likely visit New Delhi in September, shortly before the 18th Party Congress — scheduled for October or November — opens in Beijing to finalise the leadership transition when the 71-year-old Minister is set to step aside.

His trip will mark the highest-level visit to India from the People's Liberation Army (PLA) since 2005, when he last visited the Indian capital as the PLA's Chief of General Staff.

The sources said the Indian government responded positively to his proposal and was firming up dates.

The PLA's eagerness to schedule a high-level visit has been seen as a shift in how it handles ties with India. Indian officials have been struck by the recent moves to reach out to India following several years of strained military-to-military relations that even saw defence exchanges suspended in 2010 for more than one year.

Exchanges were suspended in July 2010 after the PLA refused to host the then head of the Northern Command, Lieutenant General B.S. Jaswal, on the grounds that he was serving in the "sensitive" region of Jammu and Kashmir. The refusal was seen as reflecting an increasingly hard-line approach at a time when Chinese officials appeared uninterested in taking forward defence ties with India.

In a reflection of how ties have markedly changed since, the PLA this month hosted an Indian military delegation on a rare visit to Tibet for the first time in many years. The delegation was hosted by the Chengdu Military Region, responsible for guarding the disputed border with India. In the past, the PLA has been wary of opening up bases in Tibet to visits from India, given China's sensitivities over the region and the border dispute.

And, last month, four Indian naval ships visited Shanghai in the biggest-ever such exchange with China. Vice-Admiral Anil Chopra, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Naval Command, flew in from New Delhi to hold talks with the PLA Navy's highest ranked official in charge of its East Sea fleet, Vice-Admiral Su Zhiqian, marking the highest-level naval exchange in many years.

In recent talks, the Chinese side has also impressed upon their Indian counterpart the need to broaden military contact. The PLA has proposed the permanent stationing of Indian Air Force and Navy attachés in the Embassy in Beijing and expressed its desire to post Air Force and Naval attachés in New Delhi. At present, only one defence attaché of Colonel rank is stationed by both countries in each other's capitals. China has also suggested posting officers of a higher Brigadier rank.

While India has agreed in principle to a proposal to station two additional officers, the moves were understood to have been held up on account of budgetary constraints cited by India's Defence Ministry.

Why the PLA has stepped up efforts to engage with India in recent months remains unclear. The moves come at a time of rising strains in defence ties between China and several of its neighbours. Disputes with Japan over islands in the East China Sea have resurfaced, while Chinese vessels have had run-ins with ships from Vietnam and Philippines in the South China Sea.

General Liang's visit, when confirmed, will likely be the only high-level bilateral visit from China to India this year, the sources said, with Beijing increasingly preoccupied with its leadership transition.
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Obama confident to win second term

WASHINGTON, July 31, 2012

U.S. President Barack Obama has exuded confidence to win against his Republican rival Mitt Romney in upcoming presidential polls, though conceding that it be a closely contested one.

"If the election were held today, I think it would be close but I think we'd win. And we now have 99 days left. If I can say that every single day for the next 99 days, then we will be able to embark on the next phase of this journey," Mr. Obama said at a campaign event in New York on Monday.

Seeking his re-election, Mr. Obama said he has to complete his unfinished agenda in the second term.

"If we can stabilise Europe, position ourselves on education, on science and technology, on energy, and a few other pieces of unfinished business like comprehensive immigration reform, then there's no reason why America should not thrive in the decades to come," he said.

"We also have to get through a campaign, though. And right now, the economy is still rough enough for enough people that this is going to be a close election. I'm confident that we are running a good campaign and will continue to run a good campaign," he said, but acknowledged that he is being outspent by his rival.

"We are being outspent substantially by the other side, and the super PACs are engaging in an experience we have not seen in America democracy for quite some time. They are spending like nobody's business, mostly on negative ads.

"And we're going to have to continue to compete. We don't anticipate that we're going to match them dollar for dollar — we don't need to. But we are going to have to make sure that we can get our message out effectively," Mr. Obama added.
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2 lakh displaced civilians at risk in Syria, warns UN

NEW YORK, July 31, 2012

The United Nations expressed concern about several thousand civilians who have fled Syria's largest city Aleppo amid intensifying clashes between the government and rebel forces.

An estimated 200,000 of the city's population have fled, the UN's Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos said on late Sunday in New York, citing figures from the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

"I call on all parties to the fighting to ensure that they do not target civilians and that they allow humanitarian organizations safe access to bring urgent and life-saving help to people caught up in the fighting,\" Ms. Amos said.

Government troops intensified their attacks to regain control of areas of the city held by rebels seeking to topple the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Helicopter gunships fired on the south-eastern district of Salaheddine, according to the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The rebels said they had blocked the army from entering several districts in Aleppo and destroyed tanks. Their claims could not be independently verified.

At least 95 people were killed on Sunday in Syria, mainly in Aleppo and in suburban areas of Damascus and Daraa in the south, said the opposition. The opposition National Syrian Council planned talks in Cairo on Tuesday to discuss forming a transitional government, member Khaled Khuga told DPA.

Western powers have recently called on opposition groups to patch up their differences and formulate a united vision for post-al-Assad Syria.

The weekend's clashes were the heaviest of the uprising which has claimed more than 20,000 lives since it began in March 2011, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
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Monday, July 30, 2012

Worst outage cripples north India

NEW DELHI, July 31, 2012

The northern grid crashed early on Monday in one of the worst outages in more than a decade, plunging eight States into darkness, affecting inter-State train operations and health services and impacting millions of lives.

The 400-kV Bina-Gwalior line, feeding the Agra-Bareilly transmission section, tripped at 2.35 a.m. and wreaked havoc on the generation and transmission systems, shutting down all major plants, including hydropower stations, in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and the Union Territory of Chandigarh, all wired to the northern grid. The immediate impact was shortage of around 32,000 MW.

India now faces 8-12 per cent peak power deficit, according to the Central Electricity Authority (CEA).

The shutdown had a crippling effect on inter-State passenger and goods trains that came to a halt. Early morning office-goers and schoolchildren had a harrowing time, as signals were on the blink, sparking traffic chaos.

Hospitals scurried around for backup supply. A majority of the hospitals claimed to have alternative arrangements, yet health services were affected at several places. But the major oil refineries at Panipat, Mathura and Bhatinda remained unaffected as they have their own captive power plants.

While Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said he could not pinpoint the reason, officials of the Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) and the Northern Region Load Dispatch Centre (NRLDC) said rampant over-drawal by Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana sparked the collapse.

The NRLDC is the apex body tasked with ensuring integrated operation of the power system in the region.

When the grid collapsed last time, in 2001, the supply snapped at midnight, and normality was restored by 4.30 p.m.

PGCIL Chairman and Managing Director R.N. Nayak said normality was restored by 4 p.m. The northern grid, which caters for 28 per cent of India's population, was generating 29000 MW by late evening, about 2,000 MW of the peak demand.

Immediately after the collapse, PGCIL officials swung into action, with Mr. Nayak and his team reaching their monitoring centre at 3 a.m. to assess the situation and work on rescue measures. By 8 a.m., they claimed to have restored 40 per cent of the supply. To run essential services, power was diverted from the western and eastern grids to the northern region. Hydropower was imported from Bhutan.

Mr. Nayak could not say what caused the collapse, but said the agencies involved were at least "quick at restoring normality at a record time."
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On Day 6, Team Anna strikes a militant note

NEW DELHI, July 31, 2012

Striking a militant note, Team Anna ended the sixth day of its protest at Jantar Mantar here on Monday, taking strong exception to a reported statement by Minister of State in the PMO V. Narayanasamy alleging divisions within Team Anna.

However, Mr. Narayanasamy told The Hindu that he had not made any comments about any individual. "All I said was that Parliament will decide on the Lokpal Bill and that Parliament is supreme. I did not take any name. They [Team Anna members] are trying to provoke people."

Citing the Minister's reported comments, an outraged Kiran Bedi asked Delhiites to take to the streets on Tuesday and said it was time for people to show their anger.

"Let us all assemble here on Tuesday. We will think up ways to show our anger, but we should do it non-violently. We are not going to let any more of our brothers who are fasting here to be taken to hospital. We will not let our countrymen continue to remain poor. Every 10 minutes we will call out the names of these 15 corrupt Ministers and shout slogans against them. We will not let news channels spread lies. Are we going to protest here or spend time trying to counter the lies that are being told on TV? Tomorrow we will decide that we are not going to remain doormats anymore. Go home today peacefully but with anger in your hearts. All Delhiwalas should come out on the streets tomorrow, so that the country can have a good anti-corruption law," Ms. Bedi said.

She appealed to the judiciary to take up suo motu India Against Corruption (IAC)'s demand for a Special Investigation Team to probe the allegations against the 15 Ministers.

Following her speech, Manish Sisodhia alleged that Mr. Narayanasamy was spreading lies about Mr. Hazare and that the Minister had alleged that he did not want to sit on a fast this time.

Mr. Hazare, who spoke afterwards, said: "If the Minister in the PMO tells such lies, what will happen to the country?" He alleged that Mr. Narayanasamy had written a letter to him and delivered it to his team in an attempt to break their unity. "But I had my doubts. When I asked Mr. Narayanasamy what would happen to the Bill already passed in the Lok Sabha he had no answer," Mr. Hazare alleged. "I challenge Narayanasamy and Salman Khurshid [Law Minister] to sit with me and I will show that they have lied."

On the second day of his fast, Mr. Hazare said: "The way this wave of protest against corruption is building up in the country, I get the feeling that the Government would have to bring in a strong Lokpal Bill or it will have to go."
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U.S. drought fuelling risk of global food price shock

WASHINGTON, July 31, 2012

Experts have warned that vital corn- and soybean-producing states in the U.S. are in the throes of intensifying drought conditions, a revelation that has resurrected concerns about sparking off another global food price shock. In 2008 it was precisely a spike in food grain in global markets that led to widespread rioting and political instability across nations.

In a report released last week the U.S. Drought Monitor agency noted that "The widest drought to grip the U.S. in decades is getting worse with no signs of abating." Covering vast swathes of five states — Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska — the drought in these crucial crop areas is classified by the USDM as "severe" or worse.

Other badly-affected states include Illinois which saw its proportion of land in extreme or exceptional drought expand from eight per cent two weeks ago to a staggering 71 per cent as of last Thursday, the agency noted. At the macro level 20 per cent of the U.S. is said to currently be experiencing the two worst stages of drought – "extreme" and "exceptional."

Impact on markets

Meanwhile, the impact of the drought on markets appeared to be showing already. According to media reports corn prices soared to an all-time high on Friday and traded at $8.24 a bushel on the Chicago exchange. Similarly analysts noted that soybeans "were also trading at record levels."

With global grain stocks already at record lows and the federal government anticipating that a smaller amount of corn would be entering global markets over the forthcoming year owing to "a sharp drop in U.S. exports," the probability of a global food price hike may have risen significantly.

Market inter-linkages were also seen as potentially amplifying the effect of the U.S.' position as the world\'s largest producer of corn, as corn is used as feed for dairy cows, hogs and beef cattle, as a component in processed food, reports warned.

In comments made to The Guardian Robert Thompson, a food security expert at the Chicago Council of Global Affairs, said, "What happens to the U.S. supply has an immense impact around the world. If the price of corn rises high enough, it also pulls up the price of wheat." Mr. Thompson added, "I think we are in for a very serious situation worldwide."

Reflecting a less critical and more local concern, in a number of states from Arizona and Missouri to New York, residents appeared to be frustrated with the aesthetic impact of the drought too, as grass-painting contractors saw a jump in the demand for their services.
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Life term for 21 in Dipda Darwaja massacre case

AHMEDABAD, July 31, 2012

A designated fast track court in Mehsana on Monday sentenced 21 persons to life imprisonment and another to one-year imprisonment in the Dipda Darwaja post-Godhra massacre case. Designated judge S.C. Srivastava acquitted 61 persons.

None of the accused was found guilty of murder or pre-planned conspiracy and the conviction was on the charges of attempt to murder and rioting. Among those acquitted were the former MLA from Visnagar, Prahladbhai Mohanlal Patel, popularly known as Gosa Patel, and a former president of the Visnagar municipality, Dahyabhai Patel, both of the BJP. The former inspector, M.K. Patel, was among those convicted found guilty of dereliction of duty and was awarded one-year imprisonment.

A family of 11 persons, including four children and a 65 year-old woman, was killed in the mob attack at a house in the Dipda Darwaja locality at Visnagar town in north Gujarat on February 28, 2002, a day after the Godhra train carnage.

Dipda Darwaja was one of the nine cases investigated by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team, headed by the former CBI Director, R.K. Raghavan.

While 10 of the accused were given complete acquittal, 51 others including the two BJP leaders were given the benefit of the doubt.

In all, 127 people, including eight eyewitnesses, were examined during the trial. All those convicted, including the former inspector, belonged to the "Patel" community.

The police had initially booked 83 persons for murder, attempt to murder, rioting, kidnapping and such other charges. But later on the direction of the court, following an appeal by one of the witnesses, the former BJP MLA and the former police inspector were also booked. The court, however, found one of the accused to be a minor at the time of the incident and sent him to the juvenile court for a separate trial, while one of the accused died during trial.
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Friday, July 27, 2012

Hot humid and dry spell affects livestock at large

Ludhiana-24-July, 2012

Hot, humid but dry spell of present weather not only affects the production of animals but their health also. Dr. A.L. Saini Head of the Department Livestock Production and management, Guru Angad Dev Veterinary & Animal Sciences University, revealed that the suitable temperature for the livestock is 18-27 degree Celsius. He said that due to this type of season animals feel stress so their production dips. Proper management is required to give them a comfortable environment. He said that fulfillment of water intake is very much important. Proper feeding of green fodder is also imperative in this season. Silage may be a good option of fodder. It covers the deficiency of protein. Artificial cooling with big fans or desert coolers is also a comfortable equation. Monson season is breeding and growth season of parasites so open space to come out is also essential for livestock to avoid infectious diseases in a close atmosphere.

Dr. Amarjeet Singh HOD, Animal disease research centre (ADRC) said that In dry weather conditions or scarcity of rainfall with high humidity, chances of accumulating toxic amounts of nitrate, prussic acid (cyanide) and oxalate increases in green fodder. This may convert the nutritious fodder into poisonous stock for the farm animals and deaths may occur in livestock with the consumption of this fodder. Fodder should always be mixed with wheat straw and good quality feed and water ad lib. be provided to the animals. Never introduce new fodder to the hungry animals. Start offering fodder in small amounts in the beginning whenever there is change in the fodder. Feed Napier Bajra when the age of plant is between 40- 65 days. Over-aging may lead to toxicity in animals.

Dr. Pritam Kaur Sidhu of ADRC revealed that Stressful growth conditions (drought and insect attack) may cause cyanide and nitrate to concentrate in the plants like sorghum (chari, bajra) species. Therefore, keep watering the fodder crops so that it doesn't wilt. Wilting increases the amount of nitrate and cyanide in the plant. Avoid spraying of insecticide or herbicide on fodder crops because this tends to increase the accumulation of nitrate, cyanide and palatability of plants. Applying fertilizer (urea) in this weather should be restricted as this may increase nitrate accumulation by plants and increase the risk of nitrate poisoning. Get the fodder tested free of cost from the Toxicology Laboratory, Animal Disease Research Centre, GADVASU before feeding to animals. Collect random samples (mainly stems) from throughout the field, pack them in a good plastic bag and deliver them to the diagnostic laboratory. If possible, keep the sample cool.

She said that whenever animal show unusual symptoms like anorexia, salivation, diarrhea, restlessness, respiratory difficulty, nervous symptoms with normal/ subnormal temperature, rush to local veterinarian or contact Incharge, ADRC (0161-2414030) for advice and further action.

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Monday, July 23, 2012



"Milk is digestive, complete and balanced food for all age groups. Besides, providing immunity to the body, it is a rich source of protein, vitamins and minerals. We should be aware of the importance of clean milk production and consumption. Synthetic milk, containing chemicals like urea, caustic soda, refined oil, maltose, glucose, paint, mobil oil and detergents, is hazardous to health," cautioned the PAU scientists of Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), Rupnagar (Ropar). Testing at home can detect whether milk is natural or synthetic, advised they.

The scientist, Ms. Aparna said that milk, in which there is no visible contamination, has a typical aroma and is rich in nutrients. Such milk has minimum microorganisms and has maximum shelf life. Milk which does not contain any organisms is safe milk, she told, adding that such milk is obtained only after pasteurization. She further observed, "Chemical or synthetic milk does not differ as far as physical appearance and smell are concerned, but is different in taste. To conceal the taste, natural milk is added in the synthetic milk to make it look normal milk. This milk is prepared to contain 4.5 to 5% fat and 9% solid non-fat (SNF). It is harmful ihf consumed."

Alerting the public, Dr Preeti Sharma suggested the tests for detection of adulterants in milk. "For Vanaspati, take 3 ml of milk in a test tube and add 10 drops of hydrochloric acid. Mix up one teaspoonful of sugar and examine the mixture after five minutes. The red coloration indicates the presence of vanaspati in the milk," she said. Natural milk does not contain glucose/invert sugar, but if test for glucose with urease strip (available in the medical stores) is found positive, that means milk is adulterated, she added.

For the detection of elements of starch, these scientists advised to add few drops of lodine solution. Formation of blue color indicates the presence of starch. For urea, they suggested to take a teaspoon of milk in a test tube. Add half teaspoon of soybean or arhar powder, mix up the contents thoroughly by shaking the test tube and after five minutes, dip a red litmus paper in it, they said. Remove the paper after half a minute and a change in color from red to blue indicates the presence of urea in the milk, they added. By physical properties and chemical tests, one can differentiate between the synthetic and normal milk, they emphasized, while advising the public to beware of synthetic milk.

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CPI Seminar on Food Security photo and punjabi news attached


A seminar organized by the district unit of the Communist Party of India on FOOD SECURITY FOR ALL called for universal public distribution system to meet the basic needs of a nutritious food for every citizen of India. Despite tall claims of growth by the government 380 million citizens of our country people of our country suffer from hunger and malnutrition. With the present rice in prices 150 million more are expected to face the same fate. Women and children are the worst affected. 60 million children are malnourished with low weight. India has over 160 million hectares of fertile land, which is more than China. But as per the government own reports 2,50,000 farmers have committed suicide during the period 1995 to 2010. This was stated by Mrs.Amarjeet Kaur – Member Central Secretariat of the CPI while addressing the seminar. The CPI along with other left parties has launched a nationwide campaign on the question of food security which will culminate in a dharna at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi from 30th July to 3rd August.

The UNO had accepted right to food as the basic human right of every citizen in 1948. This was further accepted by the nations including India in a world food summit in 1996. The government of India now proposes to place a half backed food security bill in the parliament. This bill instead of bringing universal public distribution system splits the society into the Below Poverty Line (BPL) and Above Poverty Line (APL). A person falls in the category of BPL if she/he earns Rs.26.00 per day in rural and Rs.32.00 per day in urban areas. If this definition is accepted then 54% of population from rural and 72% from urban areas will be left out of any benefits to be provided by government. This is a mockery. Government has already shown its apathy towards the poor by ignoring the Supreme Court's observations to provide grains to the poor instead of getting it rotten in the stores. It is an irony that the government is planning FDI in retail sector instead of providing food, clean water and shelter to crores of Indian citizens. Therefore, she said that we demand:

1. Cheap and quality ration be supplied to all the citizens through a Public Distribution System and not BPL or APL. Ration should be provided instead of Cash Coupons.

2. Put a check on the hording of food items.

3. Every family should be given 35kg of grain at Rs.2.00 per Kg.

4. The erroneous definition of BPL – APL as given by the planning commission should be rejected.

5. Swminathan committee's report on farmers should be implemented.

6. Clean drinking water should be ensured to all the citizens.

Her speech was followed by inputs by several participants. The district unit assured her of substantial participation in the dhrna at Delhi.

Com Kartar Singh Bowani Dr Arun Mitra

Secretary Distt. Ludhiana Asstt. Secretary Distt. Ludhiana

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New Adacemic Session Begins at SCD Government College Ludhiana


New Academic Session begins at SCD Government College Ludhiana with the address of Mrs Gurminder Kaur Principal of the College highlighting the discipline, values, hardwork and structure of academic life in the college. Mrs Gurminder Kaur said that SCD Government College ludhiana is a premier institution of the North India and it is very hard to get admission in this institution. She said that college has a glorious history of producing many stalwarts who not only has contributed many achievements but also proved to be the assets for the nation as a whole. She urge the students to focus on the aim of their life and produce good results in their studies. The first assembly of the students begins with the Shabad recited by the students of Government College for women. Dean Academic affairs of the college Prof. R.K. Miglani highlighted the process of getting the identity cards and warn the students to stay away from ragging and drugs. Prof. D.S Chahal , dean Sports explained the students facilities available for the students in the college and urge them to participate in the games to bring laurels for the nation. Prof. Hardeep Singh explained about the NCC air wing and army wing and its enrolement process. Prof. B.S wadhwa explained to the students about the NSS recruitment process. Dr. Ashwani Bhalla told the PSTEP Programme of the Punjab Government which is offered free of cost for the students of the college in which students are given free training for 180 hours in Information technology , Communication skills, BPO Training and Managerial Skills. He said that enrollment for this programme will be done on the basis of entrance test. Mrs Chandeep Kaur highlighted the \"Satluj Megazine\" and involvement of students. Prof. Surjit Singh Time Table incharge spoke on the Reading Time Table for the classes. The assembly concluded with the remarks of Prof Jai pal singh General Secretary of Punjab Government College Teachers Association who spoke about the role of discipline in one\'s life.

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Katrina Kaif’s all for action!

Sunday, Jul 22, 2012

Actress Katrina Kaif, who'd learnt deep-sea diving and bike riding for her film Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara had revealed that though learning to ride a bike was exciting, she wasn't too thrilled about the deep-sea diving. "I can't say that deep-sea diving is something I'll look forward to again," the actor had said, even though she pulled it off convincingly in the film. "As actors you just do what you got to dowith all your heart," the actor had added. And sticking to her own mantra, Katrina's now gearing up to explore the action genre and is going all out for it.

While the actor will soon be seen in the action thriller Ek Tha Tiger with actor Salman Khan, sources say that it's Salman who's actually doing all the action. However, according to insiders, in her next action outing Dhoom 3, Katrina herself will be doing a major chunk of action. "She has been rigorously training for her role in Dhoom 3 and since it involves a lot of action, she has been training with harness and the likes to get her action right," says an insider. "The training involves flips and jumps as well, and Katrina's been trying to avoid using a stunt double as much as it's possible," adds the insider. "Of course it's getting very hectic for her as she's also rehearsing for a song in the Yash Chopra film and dubbing for Ek Tha Tiger, but she's doing it all."

Meanwhile, the actor who recently celebrated her birthday made sure that it was a rather low-key affair this time around. Though Katrina managed to keep controversies at bay,what she couldn't avoid are the constant rumours that keep plaguing her friendship with good friend Salman. The actor triggered off a fresh round of speculation when she drove in to the actor's place in her new car. Many speculated that it was new car gifted to her by Salman.

However, the actor herself is amused by this latest set of rumours. Says a source, "Katrina was really amused to hear that people are speculating that the car has been gifted to her, as the fact is that she had bought it herself a month-and-a-half ago. But since she had been busy shooting in London, she didn't get a chance to drive it around yet. And now that she is back, she is using her car." Adds an insider, "Whenever there's anything to do with Salman and Katrina, it just triggers off a host of speculations. By now both know that no matter what the truth, there will always be rumours and it's futile to clarify such baseless talk."

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Bollywood gathers at Rajesh Khanna\'s prayer meet

Sun, Jul 22, 2012

Bollywood celebrities gathered at the Taj Land\'s End hotel in Bandra to attend Rajesh Khanna\'s chautha. Almost all guests were dressed in white as a mark of peace for his departed soul.

From megastar Amitabh Bachchan to the famed Kapoor clan - a horde of Bollywood celebrities, mostly dressed down in white, attended a prayer meet in Mumbai on Saturday in reverence of India\'s first superstar Rajesh Khanna.

The veteran star passed away Wednesday morning following a prolonged illness and liver infection. He was 69.

The chautha or the fourth day of mourning for Rajesh Khanna was organised in a grand way at the Taj Land\'s End hotel in Bandra. His entire family, including estranged wife Dimple Kapadia, daughters Twinkle and Rinke, sons-in-law Akshay Kumar and Sameer Saran, as well as grandson Aarav, were present at the event.

The set-up was also white - a big photograph of the actor was put up and it was adorned by a garland of white flowers. Either side of the photograph had a slideshow of his old and classic pictures, reminding the star-studded audience of the \"phenomenon\" that he was.

The hall at the hotel was decorated with white flowers and candle arrangements welcomed the guests. The entrance also had pictures of the superstar, decorated with white roses.

Among the celebrities spotted were Amitabh-Jaya Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Anupam-Kirron Kher, Rakesh Roshan, Hrithik-Susanne Roshan, Vinod Khanna, Yash Chopra, Jeetendra, Kabir Bedi, Gulzar, Siddharth Roy Kapur, Tabu, Jackie Shroff, Abbas-Mustan, Zoya Akhtar and Ramesh Sippy.

Veteran actor Shashi Kapoor made an appearance on a wheelchair, with support from his grand-nephew actor Ranbir Kapoor. The Kapoor brothers - Randhir, Rishi and Rajiv were present too, and so was Rishi\'s wife and Ranbir\'s mother, Neetu.

Politician Amar Singh was also seen, as were Jaya Prada, Reena Roy, Suniel Shetty, Satish Kaushik, David Dhawan, Prakash Jha, Poonam Dhillon, Padmini Kolhapure, Shakti Kapoor, Neha Dhupia, Sonu Sood, Sanjay Kapoor, Ramesh Taurani, Neelam, Ashutosh Gowariker, Farah Khan, Sajid Khan, Deepika Padukone, Prateik, Sajid Nadiadwala, Bindu, Sikander, Sonakshi Sinha, Prem Chopra and Malaika Arora Khan.

News From: http://www.7StarNews.com

Bollywood gathers at Rajesh Khanna\'s prayer meet

Sun, Jul 22, 2012

Bollywood celebrities gathered at the Taj Land\'s End hotel in Bandra to attend Rajesh Khanna\'s chautha. Almost all guests were dressed in white as a mark of peace for his departed soul.

From megastar Amitabh Bachchan to the famed Kapoor clan - a horde of Bollywood celebrities, mostly dressed down in white, attended a prayer meet in Mumbai on Saturday in reverence of India\'s first superstar Rajesh Khanna.

The veteran star passed away Wednesday morning following a prolonged illness and liver infection. He was 69.

The chautha or the fourth day of mourning for Rajesh Khanna was organised in a grand way at the Taj Land\'s End hotel in Bandra. His entire family, including estranged wife Dimple Kapadia, daughters Twinkle and Rinke, sons-in-law Akshay Kumar and Sameer Saran, as well as grandson Aarav, were present at the event.

The set-up was also white - a big photograph of the actor was put up and it was adorned by a garland of white flowers. Either side of the photograph had a slideshow of his old and classic pictures, reminding the star-studded audience of the \"phenomenon\" that he was.

The hall at the hotel was decorated with white flowers and candle arrangements welcomed the guests. The entrance also had pictures of the superstar, decorated with white roses.

Among the celebrities spotted were Amitabh-Jaya Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Anupam-Kirron Kher, Rakesh Roshan, Hrithik-Susanne Roshan, Vinod Khanna, Yash Chopra, Jeetendra, Kabir Bedi, Gulzar, Siddharth Roy Kapur, Tabu, Jackie Shroff, Abbas-Mustan, Zoya Akhtar and Ramesh Sippy.

Veteran actor Shashi Kapoor made an appearance on a wheelchair, with support from his grand-nephew actor Ranbir Kapoor. The Kapoor brothers - Randhir, Rishi and Rajiv were present too, and so was Rishi\'s wife and Ranbir\'s mother, Neetu.

Politician Amar Singh was also seen, as were Jaya Prada, Reena Roy, Suniel Shetty, Satish Kaushik, David Dhawan, Prakash Jha, Poonam Dhillon, Padmini Kolhapure, Shakti Kapoor, Neha Dhupia, Sonu Sood, Sanjay Kapoor, Ramesh Taurani, Neelam, Ashutosh Gowariker, Farah Khan, Sajid Khan, Deepika Padukone, Prateik, Sajid Nadiadwala, Bindu, Sikander, Sonakshi Sinha, Prem Chopra and Malaika Arora Khan.

News From: http://www.7StarNews.com

New Russian law terms NGOs foreign agents

Moscow, July 22, 2012

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a controversial new law into power, classifying internationally funded non-governmental agencies (NGOs) as "foreign agents," the Kremlin announced on Saturday.

Under the law, independent NGOs must disclose any funding received from abroad, or risk penalties or imprisonment.

Russian rights activists fear that they could be marginalised and considered spies as a result of the law, which was rushed through the upper and lower houses of parliament this month.

Parliament has approved two further bills this month, on internet censorship and criminalising defamation, seen by regime critics as ways of stifling opposition.

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Warner Bros. grapples with Colorado shooting

NEW YORK, July 22, 2012

Director Christopher Nolan expressed sorrow and devastation Friday as the movie industry struggled with the deadly Colorado shooting at a midnight screening of Mr. Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises, one of the most anticipated films in years now enmeshed with a horrifying tragedy.

"I would like to express our profound sorrow at the senseless tragedy that has befallen the entire Aurora community," Mr. Nolan said in a statement on behalf of the cast and crew. "I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime.

"The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me."

The shooting in an Aurora, Colorado, movie theatre, reverberated through Hollywood and upended carefully laid plans for the global release of The Dark Knight Rises. Warner Bros. quickly cancelled a premiere planned for Paris and cancelled press interviews in France.

Warner Bros \'deeply saddened\'

"Warner Bros. and the filmmakers are deeply saddened to learn about this shocking incident," read a statement from Warner Bros. "We extend our prayers and deepest sympathies to the victims, their loved ones and those affected by this tragedy."

New York City's police commissioner said he was told the gunman had painted his hair red and called himself the Joker Batman's nemesis but Aurora police would not confirm that.

The studio rushed to react to the tragedy. Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros., said he had been up since 4 a.m. making calls.

"Everybody is very saddened by the event. We were obviously looking for a very happy occasion for us," Mr. Fellman said. "It's a difficult way to begin. We're just more concerned now with the well-being of those that were injured, of course."

Warner Bros. had no further comment on whether screenings might be cancelled or precautions taken. The studio did take the unprecedented step of delaying its reporting of eagerly awaited weekend box office figures for Dark Knight from Sunday to Monday "out of respect for the victims and their families."

Gangster Squad trailers pulled out

Warner Bros. also moved to pull trailers for its upcoming movie Gangster Squad from showings of The Dark Knight Rises. The trailer of the film, which stars Sean Penn and Ryan Gosling in a ruthless war between '40s Los Angeles police and the mob, includes a scene of mobsters firing into a movie theatre from behind the screen.

A person familiar with what was shown at the Aurora theatre said the trailer did not play there. The person did not want to be identified because the person was not authorised to speak on the matter.

Cinemark Holdings Inc., the chain that owns the theatre where the shooting happened, said it was working closely with local law enforcement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and loved ones, our employees, and the Aurora community," the company said.

Security stepped up across theatres

Movie theatres around America continued Friday showings of the film as planned, though some were stepping up security and conducting bag searches. New York police commissioner Raymond Kelly said the city was providing extra security in New York theatres playing The Dark Knight Rises "as a precaution against copycats and to raise the comfort levels among movie patrons."

In the wake of the shooting, The Dark Knight Rises and the earlier Batman films, with their dark themes and emphasis on terrorism, were sure to be heavily scrutinized. The practice of midnight screenings for eagerly anticipated blockbusters, too, could come into question.

\'Gunman identified himself as Joker\'

Mr. Kelly said that the suspected gunman, James Holmes, had his hair painted red and identified himself to authorities saying he was the Joker. Heath Ledger played the Joker in the previous Batman installment, The Dark Knight, although his hair was colored green. Ledger died in 2008 from a toxic combination of prescription drugs before the film was released.

"I don't know if James Holmes cared deeply about Batman," film critic Roger Ebert wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times. "I suspect he cared deeply about seeing himself on the news."

The National Association of Theatre Owners issued a statement offering their "hearts and prayers" to the victims. The association said, "Guest safety is, and will continue to be a priority for theatre owners," adding that the group would work closely with law enforcement and review security procedures.

"We share the shock and sadness of everyone in the motion picture community at the news of this terrible event," said former Sen. Chris Dodd, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America. "We extend our prayers and deepest sympathies to the victims, their loved ones and all those affected by this tragedy."

The Dark Knight Rises had expectations of being one of the biggest weekend openings ever. Its midnight screenings earned $30.6 million, Warner Bros. said Friday. That's the second-best midnight opening ever, behind $43.5 million for the Harry Potter finale. The Dark Knight earned a then-record $158.4 million in its first three days, including $18.5 million from midnight screenings.

The PG-13 film played in 3,825 theatres domestically in the midnight screenings, expanding to 4,404 cinemas nationwide Friday. Many showings on the weekend were sold out in advance.

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U.N. monitoring mission in Syria extended

Dubai, July 22, 2012

Russia and China scored a significant diplomatic success on Friday after the Western powers agreed to drop their insistence on threatening Damascus with punitive measures in a United Nations Security Council resolution, if it failed to pull out heavy weapons from population centres. With the threat of economic sanctions under the U.N. charter out of the way, the Council unanimously passed a resolution, extending the tenure of the monitors.
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Taliban ban on polio campaign endangers thousands in Pakistan

Islamabad, July 22, 2012

A Taliban ban on polio vaccinations has made thousands of children vulnerable to the crippling disease in Pakistan, one of only three countries in the world where polio is still prevalent.

The ban in north-western tribal areas was announced this week as a protest against U.S. drone attacks on militants in areas near the Afghan border, where the al-Qaeda-linked Taliban have sanctuaries.

"Over 200,000 children have been left without the vaccine, making them vulnerable," said Mazhar Nisar, spokesman for the government's Polio Monitoring Cell.

The ban was first imposed by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a North Waziristan-based militant leader who has made a peace deal with the army. He charged that spies disguised as paramedics infiltrate the area to facilitate the drone strikes.

In neighbouring South Waziristan, pro-government militant leader Maulvi Nazeer circulated leaflets in the main town Wana against the vaccination programme.

"In the garb of these vaccination campaigns, the U.S. and its allies are running their spying networks in FATA [the Federally Administered Tribal Areas], which has brought death and destruction in the form of drone strikes," the leaflets said.

The Tirah Valley and Bara area of Khyber district were also pronounced off-limits for polio vaccinators by local militant commander Mangal Bagh, who heads the Lashkar-e-Islam group.

The immunization campaign ran into trouble after the arrest of Dr Shakeel Afridi for allegedly conducting a fake vaccination programme to help U.S. spies locate al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Bin Laden was killed in a U.S. raid in May 2011.

Afridi was sentenced in May this year to 33 years in jail by a tribal court under treason laws.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday denied Afridi had carried out any polio campaign, and the Pakistani government has tried to persuade local tribal elders not to link polio vaccinations with the drone attacks, but it has met with no success.

The airstrikes sometimes kill innocent people and lead to resentment that favours the insurgency, but Washington refuses to halt them.

A tribal council of elders convened Wednesday in North Waziristan decided to support the ban on the polio campaign until the attacks are stopped "because innocent people, including children and women, were being killed in such attacks," the Dawn newspaper reported.

The ban is not only a blow to Pakistan's efforts to distance itself from the two other countries where polio is endemic, Afghanistan and Nigeria, but could also threaten recent gains made against the disease.

Pakistan saw its highest number of polio cases in the past few years, with 198 reported in 2011. So far this year, 23 new cases have been reported, but experts said that decline could be reversed and warned that nearly half of the new cases have been reported in the tribal region.

The WHO and other international aid agencies have been providing medicine and trying to persuade parents to immunize their children but have had little success so far.

"The only way to eradicate polio is to immunize every child, any child that is missed is susceptible to the virus," said Elias Durry, the WHO's emergency coordinator for polio eradication in Pakistan.

Hurdles to the vaccination campaign have appeared in areas outside the tribal districts because a widespread suspicion exists that the polio vaccine is actually aimed at reducing fertility.

A local volunteer was beaten by an angry father in an Islamabad suburb Tuesday for insisting that children be given the polio drops.

Unknown gunmen attacked a WHO vehicle in the southern port city of Karachi, injuring a doctor and his driver. Both men were supporting the anti-polio campaign.

"Incidents like these highlight the incredible bravery of the more than 200,000 mainly Pakistani volunteers who run every vaccination campaign," the WHO said. "The vaccinators, social mobilisers and frontline staff are the heroes of this campaign." It vowed to remain committed to immunizations in Pakistan despite the problems, and would seek new strategies to improve the country's vaccination record.

"We will continue to work with the community," Durry said. "We are also implementing a strategy of immunizing people and children at transit points and major highways."

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Maoist meet exposes crisis

Kathmandu, July 22, 2012

Amid 'ruthless self-criticism', factional fights including physical scuffle major organizational decisions, and a call for unity, the seventh extended plenum of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) concluded on Saturday in Kathmandu. This was the first extended meet of the party after its split in mid June, when vice-chairman Mohan Vaidya 'Kiran' walked away to form his own party and accused the existing Maoist leadership of 'revisionism'. Over 5000 delegates from 14 state committees participated in the plenum.

The meet has decided to hold a general convention of the party early next year, and has dissolved the existing central committee — the politburo; the standing committee too stands dissolved. Top office bearers would, however, continue to carry out their responsibilities.

Earlier, the plenum began with chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda', in his party document, reiterating that the party decision to enter open politics in 2005 was the correct one. But while defending the party's 'peace and constitutional line' and attacking the splinter Maoists, Mr. Prachanda admitted to the party having made a 'dozen mistakes' during this process.

These included: mishandling the Madhesi movement of 2007; absence of maturity after emerging as the single largest party after the Constituent Assembly (CA) elections; the attempt to dismiss the then army chief General Rukmangad Katawal while Maoists led the government in 2009; exhibiting excessive flexibility on army integration; and leaving contentious issues like form of government and state restructuring till the last phase of constitution writing process.

There were three key issues that emerged from the plenum delegates during the discussions.

The first criticism was directed at the Baburam Bhattarai-led government's actions related to the issue of 'nationalism'. The government's decision to sign the Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (BIPPA) with India during the P.M.'s visit to New Delhi in September last year was cited by many delegates as capitulation to India.

Reports that the government was considering handing over the task of upgradation of Kathmandu international airport to an Indian company was also raised by a section in the party; the government has, however, clarified that while there is an expression of interest by the Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services (IL&FS), no decision has been taken in this regard.

The second major issue, which led to disruptions in the proceedings, was raised by former combatants of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). They accused commanders and the leadership of being complicit in the misappropriation of funds meant for salaries of combatants and cantonment management.

While the party used to impose a monthly levy on all combatants, financial management was non-transparent; promises that the money would be returned at the end were not met. The dispute was resolved when several divisional commanders of the former PLA resigned from their posts, and a committee was set up to investigate irregularities.

The third issue was the continued acrimony between the different factions within the Maoists — even after the dissident faction led by Mr. Kiran has split. While all leaders — Chairman Prachanda, vice-chairman Bhattarai, and another vice-chairman Narayan Kaji Shrestha 'Prakash' — pledged to remain united, the continued factionalism was visible.

On Friday, when a Bhattarai loyalist was not allowed to speak and heckled down by Prachanda's supporters, the situation turned ugly. Leaders close to the chairman almost manhandled the P.M., while the P.M.'s supporters were reported to have thrown a chair at Mr. Prachanda. But the dispute was resolved after an emergency politburo meeting.

The plenum eventually ended with the P.M. calling Mr. Prachanda 'leader of leaders'; and the party deciding that the personal secretariat members of both the leaders would be reshuffled to strengthen unity.

To counter criticism of the lifestyle of the top leaders, Mr Prachanda has also decided to give up his personal residence — which has been termed 'lavish' by critics — and move to accommodation given by the government to former P.M.s. He also declared that he would stop using luxurious state vehicles.

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Russia, China savour diplomatic success

DUBAI, July 22, 2012

Russia and China savoured significant diplomatic success on Friday, after the U.N. Security Council agreed to their proposal not to threaten Syria with economic sanctions if it failed to live by a peace plan authored by the U.N. and Arab League envoy, Kofi Annan.

At a press conference, China's Permanent Representative to the U.N. Li Baodong said the resolution that was adopted showed that the Council is back on the right track and supports the plan of U.N. Envoy to Syria Mr. Annan to resolve the crisis.

The six point plan — authored by the Mr. Annan — calls for a ceasefire, the pull out of heavy weapons from population centres by the government and an intra-Syrian dialogue that would lead to peaceful political transition.

The Chinese envoy insisted the Syrians alone should be custodians of their future, and called upon "regional powers" — a likely reference to Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran and Turkey who have been involved in the conflict — to recognise the dangerous fall out of instability in Syria on the region.

Far from being enthused by the changed resolution, Susan Rice, American envoy to the U.N., asserted that the 30-day extension for the monitoring team was "final," unless violence in Syria dropped appreciably. Her words seemed to signal that far from being satisfied with the status quo, the U.S. was looking beyond the U.N. route to change the script in Syria — a position that was likely to trigger another round of diplomatic warring with Moscow.

"The US will intensify our work with countries outside the UNSC — particularly the 100+ countries supporting the Friends of Syria process," she said, referring to the U.S.-led coalition, dominated by those countries that stood opposed to the Syrian regime led by President Bashar al-Assad.

Aware of the U.S. line of thinking, Russian President Vladimir Putin has already rejected the resolution of the conflict outside the U.N. framework. Speaking through his spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, Mr. Putin said any attempt to circumvent the Security Council would be ineffective and would undermine its reputation.

With the Syrian counter-offensive against the armed opposition fighters in Damascus — following Wednesday's suicide bombing that devastated the top rung of security establishment — gathering steam, refugees, some caught in the cross-fire, have begun streaming into neighbouring Lebanon. The refugee agency UNHCR said through its spokeswoman, Melissa Fleming, her organisation's figures showed that "there could be [refugees] anywhere from 9,000 to 30,000 that have fled across the border into Lebanon just in the last 48 hours".

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Murdoch gives up role in UK newspapers

London, July 22, 2012

After separating newspapers from the lucrative film and television divisions of News International in June, media baron Rupert Murdoch has now resigned as director of his UK-based newspapers.

Mr. Murdoch's latest move is likely to lead to industry speculation that he is preparing the ground to sell off his UK-based newspapers that have come under cloud due to the phone-hacking controversy.

In an e-mail sent on Saturday, staff at The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun were told that Mr. Murdoch remained "fully committed" as chairman despite relinquishing positions on a number of UK boards, including the News International Group.

A News International spokesman said: "Last week, Mr Murdoch stepped down from a number of boards, many of them small subsidiary boards, both in the UK and US.

"This is nothing more than a corporate housecleaning exercise prior to the company split."

News Corp plans to split into two firms, separating its newspaper and book publishing interests from its now dominant TV and film enterprises.

Mr. Murdoch is expected to chair both businesses but to be chief executive only of the TV and film side.

According to the Guardian, the e-mail sent to staff states that the decision to resign as director of UK-based newspapers "is part of the preparation of the business for the upcoming restructure into two companies".

It adds: "[Murdoch] remains fully committed to our business as chairman of what will become the largest newspaper and digital group in the world and we look forward to seeing him in London over the Olympic Games."

Several inquiries are currently in various stages of progress into issues related to the phone-hacking controversy at the now defunct News of the World.

The adverse impact of the row was seen to affect the parent News Corp.

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Microsoft posts first quarterly loss in 26 years

New York, July 22, 2012

Slipping into the red for the first time in nearly three decades, Microsoft has reported a loss of $492 million in the June quarter due to a non-cash write-down of $6.2 billion related to non-performance of online advertising business.

The staggering charge is due to non-performance of its Internet services division, aQuantive, which Microsoft had snapped up five years ago. This is for the first time since 1986, when it went public, that Microsoft has clocked a quarterly loss.

In the three months ended June 2011, the company had a net income of $5.87 billion.

"The financial results reflect the previously announced non-cash, non-tax-deductible income statement charge of $6.19 billion for the impairment of goodwill and the deferral of $540 million of revenue related to Windows Upgrade Offer," the company said in a statement on Thursday.

Nevertheless, Microsoft's 2012 June quarter revenues climbed 4 per cent to $18.05 billion. The revenue stood at $17.36 billion in the same period a year ago.

Apart from the 12.6 per cent decline in revenue of the Windows Division due to the deferral of Windows upgrade, the company recorded 12.5 per cent growth in revenue from its Server tool business. Business division too saw a growth of 7 per cent.

"We delivered record fourth quarter and annual revenue, and we're fast approaching the most exciting launch season in Microsoft history," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said.

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De Beers to expand in India

CHENNAI, July 22, 2012

Diamond major De Beers, through its brand Forevermark, is looking at India to contribute around 10 per cent of its global sales in five years and aims to expand in the country by increasing its number of retailers.

Forevermark recently held a trade forum, where retailers and its diamantaires came together to discuss marketing strategies and a road map for the coming years.

"While presently we have over 60 doors in India, we are looking at taking that to 100 by the end of the year, hopefully by the festive season. We are in nine cities right now and looking at expanding into Kochi and Coimbatore as well. In fact, our South Indian market has been one of our best performing markets in India," said Sachin Jain, Managing Director, Forevermark Diamonds Private Ltd.

"The economic situation actually doesn't affect consumer demand too much, as more people look for the inherent quality that is present in diamonds, they buy it looking at long-term value. The shift in demand from gold to diamonds, along with a strong dollar, has resulted in an increase in diamond prices," he said.

At present, China and Hong Kong account for over half of its sales globally. This is followed by the markets of India, the U.S. and Japan. According to Stephen Lussier, CEO, Forevermark, the diamond business in India is growing at 20 per cent year-on-year and the company expects to have $1 billion in global sales in the next five years.

De Beers also expects diamond production at its mines to fall slightly short of last year's production. "Production has been reduced because there is less demand from clients, partly due to strong rise in prices. So far, production is 14 million carats. We expect to end the calendar year at 28-30 million," said Mr. Lussier

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More pain than relief as rain batters Hyderabad

HYDERABAD, July 22, 2012

A parched city's wait for a good spell of rain turned nightmarish, thanks to an inept civic administration.

Claiming nine lives, heavy rain since Friday threw life out of gear in the city and on suburbs. Nightmarish experiences unfolded for most as low lying areas got inundated and overflowing roads brought traffic to a crawl.

Starting as an incessant drizzle, the clouds opened up late yesterday evening and 18 cm rainfall was recorded till Saturday morning in the city. Cellars in apartments in several areas were flooded and many could not even take their vehicles out. Pumping motors were pressed into service at different places to empty the cellars. And those who could venture out were greeted with heavy traffic jams and a bumpy ride. Pockmarked roads with layers washed away and gravel pits gave scary moments for motorists who spent long hours to reach their destinations. The scene was the same whether it was Ameerpet, Kukatpally, Madhapur, Lakdi-ka-pul or Nallakunta.

At some places, Hyderabad which claims to be in the reckoning for the status of international standard city had the strange sight of vehicles including cars getting washed away. On the spinal road stretch near the MMTS station, after making a vain bid to course through the stagnant water, several vehicles were seen floating.

Distress calls

Affected citizens kept making distress calls to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) for help and according to officials, till today afternoon, 90 calls pertaining mainly to inundation and 20 calls on tree fall were received.

The situation was so grim at several places that the Chief Minsiter N. Kiran Kumar Reddy made an unscheduled visit to Nagamaiah Kunta and some localities near Khairatabad to get a first hand account of the situation.

The GHMC Commissioner, T. Krishna Babu maintained 78 inundation areas were identified and 56 extra vehicles with generators and other required paraphernalia were pressed into service. He also appealed to those living in dilapidated buildings to vacate voluntarily.

Despite all claims, the failure of civic administration in preparing for the season was glaring with the chaos that unveiled on the city streets. Very few could report to offices in time and the RTC buses ferrying the workforce at most places was seen caught in the traffic logjam.

In a bumper-to-bumper situation, the Kukatpally road was witness to what could be one of its worst traffic jams. The road from Domalguda to vegetable market remained under a sheet of water forcing vehicles to wade through precariously. Long line of vehicles remained stuck on the stretch at Model House, Punjagutta as clearing the inundation took long hours. The NIMS sub-station too was affected by the water logging as two feet water accumulated in it. The sub-station started operating only from Saturday evening after the water was drained out.

The roof of Niyazkhana at Bad-e-shahi Ashurkhana caved in and those living in dilapidated structures spent their time with worries. The Nampally railway quarters were inundated and same was the situation at several low lying areas such as Nagamaiah Kunta and Bathukamma Kunta. The situation was no different in the once walled parts of the old city. Heavy water logging was reported at Chandrayangutta, Bandlaguda and Syed Ali Chabuthra while residents at Basharathnagar and Lalithanagar watched in misery as water gushed into their dwellings and their belongings getting washed away. Incidents of wall collapse were also reported at Afzalsagar and Bibi-ka-Chasma.

At Mallepally, several houses were affected due to inundation and the Jamat-e-Islami Hind (AP Chapter) provided food packets to 200 families here. The district administration too swung into action and the District Collector, Natarajan Gulzar visited some affected areas .

While 18 houses were reported as severely damaged and another five partly, an enumeration of inundated houses was put at 3,626. According to information released by the district administration, 1,509 houses were inundated in Amberpet mandal, 695 houses in Charminar and 600 were reported in Musheerabad.

Water levels

Meanwhile, Osmansagar and Himayatsagar, the two principle reservoirs of the city, received good inflows. They have gained four-feet and one-feet water respectively. Water level in Osmansagar has increased from 1,769 feet the previous day to 1,773 feet now while in Himayatsgar the level has gone up from 1,746 feet to 1,747 feet. However, the inflows into Manjeera and Singur reservoirs have been marginal.

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Parameshwara, Siddaramaiah to remain in their posts, for now

Bangalore, July 22, 2012

Senior Congress leaders on Saturday announced that there was no question of G. Parameshwara or Siddaramaiah relinquishing their posts as Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president and Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly respectively, till after the Assembly elections.

They were briefing presspersons after a marathon 35-member coordination committee meeting chaired by its Chairman and AICC general secretary Madhusudhan Mistry, who is also State in charge.

The three leaders made it clear that their statement was a message to all those wanting a change in the KPCC leadership, including the Lingayat MLAs led by senior leader Shamanur Shivashankarappa. Mr. Mistry, however, chose not to address media persons.

Mr. Shivashankarappa, who led a delegation to the party high command recently, demanded that he should be made president of the KPCC, promising that the Lingayat leaders would ensure victory to the party in the next Assembly elections. He told the party that none of the Lingayat leaders would make any claims for the post of Chief Minister, if the party won the elections.

Both Dr. Parameshwara and Mr. Siddaramaiah said the elections would be conducted under a collective leadership and not under a single leader, including External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna. Among the absentees in the meeting were Mr. Krishna and the former Railway Minister C.K. Jaffer Sharief.

Dr. Parameshwara said the Congress would contest the elections alone. Congress, being a secular party, would consolidate its vote base among the minorities, Dalits and other vulnerable sections, though it did not believe in division of votes on caste lines.


On the action to be taken against those who cross-voted in the recent Legislative Council elections, the two leaders said the names of MLAs who had violated the party whip were not known and even the V.R. Sudarshan Committee had not made any reference to them. The committee had said it would be made known to the party high command, which may even consider denying ticket to them in the next elections, they added. Mr. Siddaramaiah said the committee had indicted Dr. Parameshwara, Mr. Mistry and himself for lack of coordination leading to the defeat of candidate Iqbal Ahmed Saradagi. Both leaders said the party regretted it and would apologise to the minorities, but not individually. Mr. Siddaramaiah ruled out taking moral responsibility for the lapse as made out by the committee.

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Drought looms large over more States

New Delhi, July 22, 2012

Drought conditions loom over south Karnataka and central Maharashtra adding to concern at the severely deficient southwest monsoon in parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat.

These States have been advised to go for early rabi (winter) plantation to make up for the shortfall in kharif sowing. Much will depend on the progress of the monsoon in the last week of July.

With an average 40 per cent deficiency in monsoon rain in the northwest so far, farmers in paddy-growing Punjab and Haryana are stressed due to the higher cost of cultivation. As water levels in the Pong and Bhakra dams are below normal, farmers in these States are using excessive power and diesel to draw groundwater to save kharif paddy.

Alarmed at the situation, the Centre on Saturday convened a meeting of the affected States, including Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat. What triggered the move was the grim situation. Two-thirds of the kharif sowing period are already over.

Now only late varieties or short-duration crops or fodder can be sowed to save farmers in the affected States. What hits them most is that the credit/loan they take for normal sowing cannot be returned if they fail to sow. If they go for renewed sowing of contingency crops, they will have to seek a fresh loan.

Agriculture Secretary Ashish Bahuguna, who convened the meeting with the Principal Secretaries of the six States on a non-working day, said he reviewed the situation with the States that faced "contingency." The situation is worst in Karnataka, where sowing of coarse cereals, pulses and oilseeds has been hit. The monsoon has bypassed large tracts of the State where these crops are raised. Kharif sowing is short by 10 lakh hectares, mostly in coarse cereals and groundnut, in the State.

In the Pune-Sholapur-Sangli-Satara belt of Maharashtra, rainfall deficiency has severely hit the sowing of pulses and coarse cereals. About 8.5 lakh hectares remained unsown. These districts have been advised to go for early rabi sowing of guar, gram and maize to make up for the shortfall.

In Rajasthan, monsoon has been delayed in the western districts and jowar and bajra sowing on nearly 15 lakh hectares has been affected.

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Heaviest rain in 6 decades kills 10 in Beijing

BEIJING, July 22, 2012

The heaviest rain in 61 years in the Chinese capital Beijing has left 10 people dead as of 2 a.m. Sunday, according to a report by the China Network Television (CNTV), a national web-based TV broadcaster owned by the state-owned China Central Television.

The CNTV reported that precipitation in the city proper had climbed to 212 mm as of 2 a.m., causing the evacuation of 14,500 local residents, the CNTV reported, citing Guo Jinlong, secretary of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China, the city's top chief.

The biggest precipitation occurred in the suburban district of Fangshan, hitting 460 mm, according to the report.

Mr. Guo said that almost 100,000 people were mobilised for rescue work during the strong rain that started trashing the city since Saturday morning.

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Pranab gets majority of MP votes

New Delhi, July 22, 2012

UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee got the overwhelming support of Parliamentarians in the President's election securing a vote value of 3,73,116.

Mr. Mukherjee's rival P.A. Sangma, supported by some opposition parties including BJP, managed to get a vote value of only 1,45,848 in the counting of votes which is in progress at Parliament House, official sources said.

A total of 748 MPs voted in the election on July 19. Of the total votes, Mr. Mukherjee got 527 votes while Sangma got 206.

Fifteen votes including that of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav were invalid.

Each MP has a vote value of 708. There are a total of 776 voters in both the houses of Parliament.

The electoral college consists of 4120 MLAs in the states.

In Andhra Pradesh, which has a 294-member Assembly, Mr. Mukherjee got the support of 182 MLAs including that of Congress and YSR Congress while Sangma got the backing of three. Five were invalid.

In terms of vote value, Mr. Mukherjee got 26936 while Mr. Sangma 444. A total of 190 MLAs voted because TDP and TRS abstained.

Each MLA in Andhra Pradesh has a vote value of 148.

Mr. Mukherjee kept up his lead even in the north-eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, where he got 54 of the 59 votes polled. The vote value corresponded to 432 for Mr. Mukherjee, while it was 16 for Mr. Sangma.

Three votes were invalid.

In the 126-member Assam Assembly, Mr. Mukherjee got 110 votes while Mr. Sangma got 13. Two votes were invalid while one did not vote.

In terms of vote value, Mr. Mukherjee got 12,760 while Mr. Sangma got 1,508.

In Bihar too, where the ruling JD(U) has declared support for Mr. Mukherjee, the UPA candidate got 146 out of the 240 votes polled in the 243 member Assembly. Mr. Sangma got 90, mostly from BJP, which shares power with JD(U).

Mr. Mukherjee's vote value in in the state was 25,258 while for Mr. Sangma it was 15,570.

Three votes were invalid while one did not not vote.

Earlier report:

Counting of ballots began amidst tight security in Parliament House in the presence of authorised representatives of both Mr. Mukherjee and Mr. Sangma.

The ballot boxes of votes cast in Parliament House were taken up first for counting after which those from the states will be opened.

Authorised representatives inspected the seals of the ballot boxes and the counting began after ascertaining that they were not tampered with.

As many as 95 per cent of the 4,896 electors — 776 MPs and 4,120 MLAs — had exercised their franchise on Thursday at the polling centres set up in Parliament House and 30 other states and Union territories with assemblies.

All the ballot boxes from the states had reached Parliament House on Saturday and were kept in a strong room.

Mr. Mukherjee appears set to win the election comfortably with UPA managers confident that he would bag over seven lakh of vote value of the total votes polled.

The UPA constituents and its key supporting parties like SP, BSP, RJD and others had supported Mr. Mukherjee. Besides, he also got the support of opposition parties like Shiv Sena and JD(U).

Mr. Sangma is expected to garner a vote value of around three lakh.

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Summer school on health foods concludes at CIPHET

Ludhiana, July 21:

A valedictory function was organized at the Central Institute of Post Harvest Engineering and Technology (CIPHET) to mark conclusion of 21-day summer school on 'Newer Concepts & Techniques in Development of Health Foods' organized by the Food Grains & Oilseeds Processing Division at the Central Institute of Post Harvest Engineering and Technology (CIPHET) here today. Total of 25 participants from across country took part in the training programme.

Speaking on the occasion, Director CIPHET Dr U.S Shivhare said that foods habits of the people are changing very fast with the change of lifestyle. "All kinds of health foods including dietary supplements, performance foods, medicinal foods etc are now being provided by the industry," he said, adding that wide range of technology is used for development of these foods. "The objective of this summer school was to bring multidisciplinary researchers on one platform. This helps in sharing of ideas between experts and participants."

Hoping that knowledge gained by participants from summer school will help in their future research endeavors, Dr Shivhare informed that the CIPHET is in process getting mega projects on health foods and secondary agriculture. Dr P.S Lubana, Dean, Punjab Agricultural University, said that need of the hour was to provide safe and standardized food to our growing population. "When we are outside home, the first concern is of safety and quality of the food," he said, adding that this could be assured with latest technology and following the food safety standards. He appreciated the research initiatives carried out at CIPHET under leadership of Director Dr U.S Shivhare.

Head of Food Grains & Oil Seeds Processing (FG&OP) Division Dr R.K Gupta informed that the summer school included 30 lecturers, field visits and hands-on-training of participants. "We have called best experts from across the country for delivering lectures," he added. Senior scientists Dr Manish Mangal and Dr Sangita Bansal coordinated the valedictory function. Project Coordinator (PHT) Dr S.K Nanda and Atmosphere Structures and Environmental Control Division, Head, Dr S.N Jha were prominent present on the occasion.
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