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Monday, May 21, 2007
Approaching a woman: How things change between now and then, here and there
From gulping to grinding

Those days:

You would walk up, on wobbly knees, to that sweet thing over there. The motivating powers include 1) hormones, 2) potential humiliation by friends and 3) 'love'. And then you will GULP. "Hi.. err.." and fumble and gulp, till somehow you manage to get a few words out of your throat, not making any sense and thoroughly confusing the poor girl. And then you almost run frantically back, hoping that despite the mess and drool, you have at least managed to strike the girl as cute.

I know one character: Toughie, roughie, but a romantic at heart, David. At some Church youth club moments, he started feeling the palpitations; there was a dance, there was a sexy babe, and yes, he wanted to dance with her. (This happened in Delhi, the city where the poshest looking people talk in happy Punjabi, unlike in Bombay where people abuse in Angrezi when someone thrusts their sweaty armpits in your face in a local train. Anyway, back to David) So he approached and asked her, "Nachegi Kya?"

Needless to say, the dance never happened.

Such are the perils of approaching girls, women and trying to "make friendship."

I know things are different now, and I am a dowdy fuddy duddy with the way things operate now. Once in a while, listening to some teen talk about his or her love life makes me jump out of my skin. I suppose the DPS MMS was the harbinger (what the hell does it mean?) of many changes. Many shocks to my system are on the way; and I would advise everyone to prepare for amazing revelations from their children in the days to come!

But today I came across something that is even more interesting. Any of you seen MTV Grind? I suppose you are sorta familiar with the grind, and some of you can even grind well. Anyway, it seems that a study of some 143 women somewhere near Queen's University, Kingston was conducted. And they said most men introduce themselves to the women by grinding against them, from behind. "84% of the women in the survey say this is how they have personally experienced new men introducing themselves." And "about 30% said "grinding" is an acceptable way to pick someone up."

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posted by a correspondent @ 9:40 AM   0 comments
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
More kidnappings, murders: Two kidnapped students murdered in Delhi
In a gruesome happening, two teenaged students of a reputed school in north-east Delhi, India, were kidnapped and allegedly murdered by four persons.

The suspects have been arrested.

The bodies of cousins Chetan Swaroop, 14, and Sahil Goyal, 13, students of Sarvodaya Vidyalaya were found late on Monday night in a wooded area, police said on Tuesday.

The two children, residents of Gokulpuri, did not return from school on Monday following which their parents approached the local police. The police registered a case of kidnapping.

The families started receiving telephone calls in the evening demanding ransom. The police tracked the calls to a locality in Gokulpuri.

Sensing danger, the four assailants allegedly killed the children and dumped their bodies in a wooded area.

The arrested are Vijender Singh, Mohd Nadeem, Vinod, and Shakeel.

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posted by a correspondent @ 8:51 PM   0 comments
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Rahul Gandhi vs Hinduunity.org: Unsubstantiated allegations lead to ban, ezboard removes forum on Rahul
I woke up, and first thing in the morning, what catches my eye is this report in Rediff US Web site's discussion forum on Gandhi family banned.

Fine, typical media report which doesn't want to mention the specific allegations against Rahul Gandhi. Or so I thought till I reached the last paragraph. What the.. ?

"We will not back down under any circumstances. A complete and an independent investigation into this rape case must be launched immediately, and secure the rape victim and her mother from any assassination attempts by the Congress government of India. We fear for their safety. This is an atrocity, a modern-day tragedy of an innocent young lady and the retaliation to blindfold, hide and intimidate the Indian public by a ruling party that is naively revered by many as divine," Rohit Vyasmaan, chairman, of Hindu Unity, wrote on the Web site after Rahul Gandhi's legal notice.

Wohohohaw.

Was that paragraph added their deliberately to mention the allegations in an indirect way, or was it just slightly shoddy editing which did not maintain the careful way in which the rest of the story was written? Anyway, it managed to get the actual allegation across to the reader. Good.

First thing I did, then is to try and check the 'hindu unity' site at www.hinduunity.org It was not accessible, perhaps Indian ISPs have blocked it already. My ISP is Hathway.

Then, a quick blog search for the words Rahul Gandhi and Hindu Unity in Google Blogsearch. And I get across to a few sites which has reproduced the allegations.

Even I shall play safe like Rediff - follow the big guys! - and not mention anything more about the actual accusation by Hindu Unity. But a few quick observations.

1. I have never trusted the over-the-top-ness of Hindu Unity. And generally I have thought them over the top and full of fire and brimstone. Scary guys, from a Christian's point of view :D

2. They have been after the Gandhi family with allegations, mockery and trash talk for years. I think they were one of the sites which were banned during last year's great Blogspot ban by the Indian government. If you are a political opponent of the Congress or the Gandhi's, even then you would find the constant attacking over the top. If you are a 'cultural' or 'religious' opponent of her, though, I have no idea how you people think or what you find offensive, so maybe then it is within limits.

3. The accusations against Rahul Gandhi by hinduunity.org are not backed up by facts. At this moment, let me clarify. They have promised to come out with more details and interviews.

4. Mulayam Singh and BJP. There is no mention of Mulayam Singh Yadav or Amar Singh or Mayavati! How can anything happen in UP without those politicians coming to know about it? If the Congress would resort to thuggery, even if it is in Amethi, I am sure Mulayam and Mayavati and BJP - which has the most to gain from a controversy like this - would not sit tight. How would an Advani or Kalyan Singh or Rajnath Singh or the patriarch Vajpayee react to something like this, if it is true? Now that is a thought to ponder over.

For now, I prefer to err on the side of skepticism. Hinduunity.org has done practically nothing ever for me to have any confidence in what they say. Regardless, I will be keeping a careful eye on this topic. I wish the Congress would not back off now, and Abhishek Singhvi would take the case forward. I really would like to see a showdown on this one!

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posted by a correspondent @ 8:32 AM   0 comments
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin in July 2007
Come July, Mercedes Benz will don the role of a fashion giant at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin. The event is to be held for the first time from 12th to 15th July.

The fashion event will see top international and German designers showing off their latest designs. The Stuttgart premium brand is already title sponsor of the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York, which is regarded as one of the four most important international fashion events, said reports.

According to Merc, it is part of a continued commitment to the most important, trend-setting fashion events. As partner of this fashion event, together with the City of Berlin, Mercedes-Benz is supporting the organiser IMG in their efforts to establish the new four-day series of fashion shows which will be taking place for the first time next July at the Brandenburger Tor exhibition grounds.

Besides, the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin is expected to provide young designers with an important platform to attract attention to their creations.

This isn’t the first time that Mercedes-Benz is part of a fashion event. It had been active at important fashion events across the globe, like the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York. It also supports fashion events in Los Angeles, Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, Mexico, Venezuela and Canada. Mercedes-Benz was also involved in a strategic cooperation with the designer legend Giorgio Armani, during which the fashion designer from Milan created the Mercedes-Benz CLK designo by Giorgio Armani, it may be recalled.

Industry watchers see the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin as creating a new platform combining emotion and experience and will arouse enthusiasm for new ideas about stylish, visionary design among its visitors. Reports from Berlin say that Mercedes-Benz decided to become involved with the world of fashion as design and style also play a central role in creating new automobiles and are among the most important factors contributing to the success of the brand.

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posted by a correspondent @ 10:17 AM   0 comments
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Buying knitwear in Ontario: Will winterwear like cardigans, pullovers and legwarmers sell online in Ontario Canada?
This is a new idea I am exploring right now. There are people in the city of Ontario, Canada who are wondering if their hobby - knitting - can be translated into a viable online business. It just might work, I think.

There is not too much of technology involved. Just photos of knitwear - that may include cardigans, legwarmers, mufflers, gloves, socks and caps - and detailed descriptions of them; who to call to buy them in Ontario, and then either it can be delivered after a phone call or maybe the buyers can go and pick them up later. Perhaps an eBay store can be created later at some point. Buying online can be explored, but initially it is better to just go over and deliver it after an order to buy is placed.

Anyway let me know what you think. Ontario, here we come!

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posted by a correspondent @ 8:53 PM   0 comments
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Supreme Court stays Navjot Singh Sidhu's conviction in road rage case
The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the conviction of cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu in a case of manslaughter.

"The order of conviction dated December 1, 2006, is suspended," a Supreme Court division bench comprising Justices G P Mathur and R V Raveendran observed, allowing Sidhu's petition seeking stay of the Punjab and Haryana High Court's judgment in the case.

The Supreme Court further said the conviction of Navjot Singh Sidhu will not be operative till the disposal of his appeal against the High Court judgment.

The High Court had convicted and sentenced Sidhu to a three-year prison term for culpable homicide not amounting to murder for the death of 65-year-old Gurnam Singh in 1988 in Patiala.

This stay on conviction cleared Navjot Singh Sidhu's way to contest the Lok Sabha by-election from Amritsar in Punjab, say legal experts.

Navjot Singh Sidhu was found guilty in December 2006 of beating Gurnam Singh death in a 1988 parking dispute. His three-year jail term had been suspended to allow time to appeal.

Under the law, a person convicted of a criminal offence is debarred from contesting elections until six years after his sentence.

Sidhu became a Member of Parliament (Bharatiya Janata Party) in 2004, but resigned from the seat in December 2006 following the conviction.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court had taken up the case following appeals by the family of Sidhu's victim, Gurnam Singh, and the Punjab Government after Sidhu was acquitted by a lower court in 1999.

Sidhu, 43, once a flamboyant batsman, became famous as a cricket commentator on Indian TV channels for his wisecracks.

He played in 51 Test matches for India between 1983 and 1999, scoring an average of 42.13 runs.

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posted by a correspondent @ 8:08 AM   1 comments
Monday, January 22, 2007
AP boat disaster: No bodies fished out yet
Even two days after the sinking of the country-boat in the Krishna river in Andhra Pradesh, the rescue teams have failed to fish out any of the 64 suspected victims.

It is feared that 64 persons, including 16 women and 18 children, drowned when the overloaded boat carrying them capsized in the river at Manchalakatta in Mahaboobnagar district on Thursday.

A helicopter has been pressed into service for an aerial survey to help trace the bodies.

Even as efforts to search the bodies with the help of expert divers and local fishermen are on, the ill-fated boat floated about 3 km away from the accident spot on Saturday morning, officials said.

The boat, with a sanctioned capacity of 35 persons, was carrying 80 pilgrims who were on their way to Singotam in Mahaboobnagar district.

The passengers were on their way to participate in a religious gathering when it sank in the river, where water was about 120 feet to 140 feet deep.

Sixteen people swam to safety, while all others are feared drowned. All the victims belonged to Kurnool district.

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posted by a correspondent @ 3:31 AM   0 comments
Saturday, January 20, 2007
65 missing as crowded boat capsizes in Krishna river
In one worst boat disasters in India, at least 65 passengers were missing after their vessel capsized on the on the Krishna river in Andhra Pradesh.

Officials said on Friday that the accident occurred on the Krishna river, over 110 kilometres south-west of Hyderabad, capital of Andhra Pradesh, on Thursday as villagers were returning from a local fair held in connection with a religious festival.

The crowded country-boat, which was supposed to carry only 35 people, had in it over 80 passengers when it sank.

Survivors told the police that the villagers had forced the boatman to allow more passengers on board and had even assaulted him when he refused to carry more than the stipulated number of passengers.

According to officials, while 18 people were either rescued or swam to safety, the missing passengers are presumed drowned.

The boat began leaking when it was about 300 meters into the Krishna river, forcing the panic-stricken passengers to jump into the 12-metre-deep river.

After the local divers failed to trace any missing passenger, the Army was requisitioned for help. A military helicopter also joined the search.

Even as the divers of the Army scoured the Krishna river, only 10 bodies had been recovered from the site of the accident.

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posted by a correspondent @ 9:41 PM   0 comments
ULFA ultimatum to Hindi-speaking people: Get out of Assam
Marking a new turn in the violence that the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) has unleashed on the non-Assamese, the outlawed outfit has asked all Hindi-speaking people to leave Assam.

The ULFA, in its mouthpiece, Freedom, said: "We have appealed to the Hindi-speaking people to leave because of the conflict in Assam, which is against colonial India. However, colonial administrators and illegal occupation forces instigate the Hindi-speaking population to ignore our appeal."

Freedom added: "We have also appealed to all concerned, whether Hindi-speaking or not, not to cooperate with the occupational forces in carrying oppression in Assam so as to ruin the national liberation struggle."

Four militant outfits – including ULFA, Kamotapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), Manipur People’s Liberation Front (MPLF), and Tripura People’s Democratic Front (TPDF) – have called for a boycott of the Republic Day celebrations and a general strike on that day, on January 26.

The warning statement by the ULFA mouthpiece further said "the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had no right to accuse the ULFA of attacking the Hindi-speaking people while they had killed thousands of men and women in Gujarat and also during the Babri masjid demolition incident."

"The government," it alleged, "has launched a military operation against the ULFA under the pretext of ensuring the safety of the life and property of the Hindi-speaking people inhabiting Upper Assam. More than 20,000 troops have been deployed, including 13,000 Army personnel, beginning January 9, 2006."

An ULFA spokesman said "Assam has a store of operational examples about the Indian military offensive carried out with an aim to eliminate the ULFA. Just before every operation, the Indian authority devises an atmosphere of unrest by organising planned massacre, blaming the ULFA for this to initiate Army offensive."

The banned outfit has claimed responsibility for the recent massacre in upper Assam, in which 62 persons – most of them migrant Bihari workers – were killed.

The Union Cabinet has directed the Assam Government to strengthen security to thwart any fresh strike on Hindi-speaking people and other soft targets.

Meanwhile, the All-Assam Students Union (AASU) has accused the ULFA of not only keeping silent on the burning problem of infiltration of illegal migrants from Bangladesh but also taking help from foreign forces.

Reacting to a statement by ULFA chief Paresh Barua in which he accused the student union of siding with the "Indian state," AASU adviser Samujjal Kumar Bhattcharyya said the ULFA was silent on the influx of illegal migrants as its leaders were based in Bangladesh.

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posted by a correspondent @ 9:40 PM   0 comments
Heavy storm lashes Europe, throws life out of gear
The death-roll in one of the most devastating storms that lashed northern Europe in many years has mounted to 27.

The storm also forced shutting down of airlines and other transport systems in many parts of the European continent. It uprooted ancient trees, with windspeeds hitting 118 miles an hour in Germany.

In a dramatic rescue operation, a pair of British Royal Navy helicopters winched 26 sailors to safety after they ditched the foundering MSC Napoli, a cargo ship, in the storm-stirred English Channel. The British Coast Guard had found the vessel staggering in 30-foot-high swells and drifting out of control, some 50 miles off Lizard Point at the extreme south-western point of Britain.

Environmental activists and European Union officials have been raising alarms that global warming patterns might cause freakish weather for decades and even centuries to come. British climatologists had predicted earlier this month that a combination of El Niño patterns, coupled with greenhouse gases building in the atmosphere, could make 2007 a year of ecological disasters.

The storm's death-roll is certain to rise as fishermen caught in the gale from Poland, Latvia, and Ireland have been reported missing and presumed dead.

Britain bore the brunt of deaths, with seven people killed, in gusts that reached 99 miles an hour.

In Berlin, Germany, lights flickered, cable television was knocked out, and large branches torn from trees smashed against apartment buildings, shattering windows and crushing parked cars. The city also shook to powerful blasts of thunder.

"It is most unusual because all Germany is affected, not just certain regions," Christoph Hartmann, spokesman for the German national weather service, DWD, said.

In Munich, an 18-month-old child died when a terrace-door was ripped from its framing and smashed into the house.

Ferry services were cancelled from Britain, Ireland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and parts of Scandinavia and Finland. Hundreds of flights were grounded at various airports.

The Eurostar train service between Britain and continental Europe was suspended after an electrical cable line fell onto the tracks near the French city of Lille.

Rushing winds tore large panes from the roof of London Bridge's railway station, leaving shattered glass strewn deep across waiting platforms.

Dutch television showed footage of bicyclists being blown out of their seats or, in one instance, blown backward by the wind's force.

In Rotterdam harbor, Europe's busiest port, a container ship broke free of its moorings and crashed into an oil pipeline, causing 10,000 barrels of oil to spill into the water.

In the Netherlands, the eight-decades-old Wouda steam-powered pump, the world's largest of its kind, was pumping water back into the sea to protect the low-lying Friesland province.

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posted by a correspondent @ 9:39 PM   0 comments
Friday, January 19, 2007
Doomsday gets closer!
The world 'officially' came closer to the 'ultimate deadline' when the hands of the Doomsday Clock was moved nearer to midnight.

The symbolic timepiece was adjusted by scientists on Wednesday, a recognition that the world is closer to nuclear annihilation than at any time since the early eighties!

The clock was devised by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, based in Chicago, the United States, in 1947, at the beginning of the atomic age as a method of warning the world.

The last time the clock was moved was in 2002, in the aftermath of the September 11 attack on the US, now known as 9/11.

Scientists agree that the world is a more dangerous place today than during the Cold War thanks to a combination of factors.

The main factors contributing to the global strain are: Tension over Iran's nuclear energy programme, Israel's nuclear arsenal, North Korea's nuclear ambitions, Japan's red-armament, global warming and diminishing resources, deteriorating Russian nuclear arsenal where underpaid scientists may sell their knowledge to the highest bidder, the 'no-first strike' policy being dropped by UN Security Council members as well as the possibility of terrorists using nuclear weapons.

"This move by the atomic scientists shows that the danger of nuclear weapons being used in war is significantly increasing," Kate Hudson, chairman of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said in London.

He said the "the refusal of the nuclear-weapon states to disarm as agreed under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, along with their dangerous nuclear first-use policies and the illegal use of pre-emptive war, is leading to increased proliferation worldwide."

To reduce greenhouse gas emission, more and more states are turning to nuclear energy, yet these nuclear power stations require enriched uranium and plutonium. Scientists believe that countries are tempted to build nuclear weapons under the guise of nuclear energy.

When the Doomsday Clock was introduced in 1947, it was set at seven minutes to midnight, as it was in 2002. The clock represents not specific incidents but trends.

According to the clock, the closest we came to the Doomsday was in 1953 when the US and the Soviet Union tested hydrogen bombs within months of each other. In reality, the world came closest to nuclear catastrophe in 1962, during the Cuban missile crisis.

However, the setting of the clock has not always been fast enough to cope with the speed of global events and hence this period was not reflected in the clock's history. It has been moved 18 times since its initial start at seven minutes to midnight in 1947.

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posted by a correspondent @ 10:21 AM   0 comments
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Kashmiri Pandit refugees in New Delhi, India
Last Christmas 2006, I saw three kids on the road below from my balcony. Two boys and a girl. Looked like they were there on some purpose, and at the same time, looking around and behaving pretty much the way kids do.

The eldest one rang the bell. We told him to come up. He gave us a sheaf of papers - okay, he was a Kashmiri migrant / refugee living somewhere near New Shastri Nagar in Delhi in a camp of some 550 families. I did what I normally do when the story seems reasonably believable - offered him a Rs 100/- note. He in turn, just asked me if we could give him 50 kilos of atta.

What? I was quite nonplussed - very few have made a request for 50 kilos of atta to me! We talked to him in detail, and he tells that the camp is running short on food items and woolens.

I am the typical lazy do-gooder - happy with feeling bad for the unfortunate, but rarely moving a finger to actively try and do something. And then these kids come to my door!

Very uncomfortably, I step out with the kids and offer to buy them some stuff. The boy - Sunny Bhatt - kept explaining the situation, telling me about the kids and their family... I bought them some 20 kilos of atta, some rice and dal and felt good. I usually doesn't let curiosity pique me - but this time it happened, and I told the boy to come again after a week.

Well, he turned up. I was in no mood to steo out of the house, and gave him some money to buy stuff. And gave him another date to come again.

He came again, and this time we had a long chat with him - and a week later, we landed up at the camp to have a first hand look. Sunny was there - and the refugee camp was in fact quite big. Lots of tents, standard slum mess and garbage, and many men in the sack-like clothing they wear.

Jahaan Bhatt, Sunny's father, came out with his wife and greeted us. Some of the youngsters around came out too. We told them we would do what we can to tell our friends - maybe they can help personally, maybe they can use some influence with the bureaucracy, maybe someone can do something in the media. The shortage which the Kashmiri refugees - this big group was mostly from Doda - face right now is that of food and woolens.

In the Kashmiri refugee camp, we also met one college student - Sudheer - who told us he is continuing his studies here. What strikes you is the dignity of this group - they are not people who were already poor in Kashmir. Mostly, they seem lower-middle class, respectable and dignifed in their manner and talk. My hindi is nothing great, but I could manage a conversation with them easily about their living conditions, future options, livelihood... We left after a while, promising them that we shall try what we can.

So this post is that - doing one thing I can. I hope you guys read it, and do something for these people. They are in New Shastri Nagar, near the Theka Police Thana under the metro bridge. Go there, and ask where the Kashmiris stay. You will be able to find them.

Perhaps, you have clothes you can give them, perhaps buy them food. Perhaps, your company can chip in. Perhaps, you know and NGO with some extra resources. I know the Kashmiri refugee / migrant problem is huge, and perhaps we can do nothing that truly help them in the long term. But in the short term, the winter is tough on people, and grains do a remarkable job of keeping people alive.

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posted by a correspondent @ 10:32 AM   6 comments
Pakistan attacks suspected al-Qaeda camps
Pakistani has strafed a suspected al-Qaeda hideout in a forest near the Afghan border helicopter with helicopter gunships, killing at least 10 people.

This angered tribesmen who said the dead were woodcutters and not terrorists. The raid in South Waziristan came as United States Defence Secretary Robert Gates visited Afghanistan and as pressure grew on Pakistan to crack down on terrorists launching attacks across the frontier.

According to the Pakistan army, intelligence sources had confirmed the presence of 25 to 30 militants, including four or five unidentified al-Qaeda terrorists, occupying five compounds near Zamzola, about 2 miles from the Pak-Afghan border. Pakistani forces, backed by Cobra helicopter gunships, attacked them, destroying three of the compounds.

In Kabul, capital of Afghanistan, the top US commander in Afghanistan said he wanted to extend the combat tours of 1,200 soldiers amid escalating violence. US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said he was "strongly inclined" to recommend a troop surge to President Bush if commanders believed it was needed.

Gates also said Pakistan must act to check an increasing inflow of Taliban fighters into Afghanistan as US military officials cited new evidence that the Pakistani military, which has long-standing ties to the Taliban movement, has turned the other way to the Taliban incursions. Attacks by the Taliban attacks have increased by 300% since September, when the Pakistani government put in place a peace pact with tribal leaders in the north Waziristan area on the Afghan border.

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posted by a correspondent @ 10:16 AM   0 comments
Monday, January 15, 2007
Tsunami hits Japan; many other regions under watch
A small-sized tsunami hit northern and eastern Japan on Saturday after a powerful earthquake in the north Pacific Ocean prompted tsunami warnings across northern and eastern Japan and Russia as well as Alaska.

Tsunami watches were also issued for parts of the Pacific, a region that is nervous about tsunami two years after a deadly wave off Aceh in Indonesia killed over 230,000 people. The watches included Guam, Taiwan, the Philippines and Hawaii.

Small waves were reported at Chichijima in the Ogasawara islands, some 1,200 km south of Tokyo, and several smaller waves on Hokkaido and northern Japan, but there were no reports of injuries and no immediate reports of damage.

A tsunami warning had been issued earlier for northern Japan, Russia and a wide area of Japan’s Pacific coast on Saturday after an earthquake with a preliminary 8.3-magnitude rocked the northern Pacific Ocean.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said tsunami watch was in effect for a wide area of the Pacific, including Guam, Taiwan, the Philippines and Hawaii.

The US Geological Survey put the magnitude of the quake at 7.9 on the Richter Scale, a major tremor. The epicentre was 525 km (325 miles) east-northeast of Kuril’sk, Kurile islands, and 1,710 km (1,065 miles) north-east of Tokyo.

Officials in Hokkaido urged residents to move to higher ground. There was only moderate shaking in Hokkaido and no immediate reports of injury on account of the quake.

A tsunami – the Japanese term for ‘harbour wave – travels at dizzying speeds in the open ocean. When it approaches shallow waters along a coast, it slows and swells. In an inlet, it can rise to towering heights very quickly.

In 1993, a tsunami caused by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake led to the death of about 200 people on the island of Okushiri, off Hokkaido's south-western coast.

Alaska, one of the states of the United States of America, was under a tsunami warning on Saturday after the 8.3- magnitude earthquake rocked the northern Pacific Ocean.

United States authorities said a tsunami warning issued for Hawaii was later cancelled.

The warning on Alaska was in effect from Sand Point on the south-western Alaskan Peninsula, across the Aleutian Islands, a 1,000-mile (1,600 km) chain, mostly uninhabited.

The US Coast Guard in Alaska said there had been no evacuations and that a small tsunami was reported at Shemya Island, 1,500 miles (2,400 km) south-west of Anchorage.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami watch on Friday night for a wide area of the Pacific, including Guam, Taiwan, the Philippines and Hawaii. The watch for Hawaii was lifted after many hours.

Stuart Weinstein, assistant director of the Center, said earlier from Honolulu that “I do not expect an ocean-crossing tsunami with destructive power.”

A tsunami warning means that all coastal residents in the warning area, who are near the beach or in low-lying regions, should move immediately inland to higher ground and away from all harbours and inlets including those sheltered directly from the sea. Those feeling the earth shake, seeing unusual wave action, or the water level rising or receding may have only a few minutes before the arrival of the tsunami and should evacuate immediately.

Since homes and small buildings are not designed to withstand the tsunami impact, it is not safe to stay in these structures.

All residents within the warned area have to be alert for instructions broadcast from their local civil authorities.

A tsunami watch requires all coastal residents in the watch area to prepare for possible evacuation. A tsunami watch is issued to areas which will not be impacted by the tsunami for at least three hours. Watch areas will either be upgraded to warning status or cancelled.

It was at 8:24 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on January 12 that an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude 8.2 took place east of the Kuril Islands, Russia.

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posted by a correspondent @ 9:40 PM   0 comments
ULFA threatens to kill Congress leaders in Assam
The banned United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) has threatened to kill the leaders of the ruling Congress party in Assam.

“If any Assamese youth is killed in the ongoing Army operations, ULFA’s 28th battalion would target and eliminate Congress leaders working at the grassroots and also State-level politicians,” ULFA’s commander Prabal Neog warned on Saturday.

The threat to kill Congress party leaders comes in the wake of a massive crackdown on the rebel outfit by the Army, paramilitary and police in Assam, following a bloody weekend that left over 60 labourers from Bihar and 10 others dead.

Neog stressed that “the Army operations against us will fail to yield any results,” even as the Army said that a 30-member rebel group involved in the massacre of Hindi-speaking migrants may have gone underground.

Authorities have asked Congress party workers and leaders to be on guard against possible attacks by the outlawed ULFA. Security has been tightened across the State with many Congress leaders now being provided police escort, an Assam police official said.

In recent days, hundreds of soldiers were airlifted to the jungles of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh to crack down on the ULFA.

An Army commander explained: “The operation is meant to uproot ULFA bases, eliminate rebels or capture them. So far we have killed five ULFA men and captured at least six others.”

The Army official said the latest killings were carried out by a 30-member group of handpicked ULFA guerrillas from the outfit’s so-called 28th battalion.

The Army commander said that about 30 ULFA men, armed with assault rifles and other sophisticated weapons, carried out the massacres in eastern Assam after splitting into smaller groups.

The spree of violence spread over four days have left 73 people dead – 61 Hindi-speaking workers, five policemen and two government officials, besides five ULFA rebels shot dead in separate gun battles.

The ULFA also has bases in Arunachal Pradesh as well as training camps in Myanmar’s northern Sagaing Division.

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posted by a correspondent @ 7:56 AM   0 comments
Now, Afzal’s family pinning hopes on President
On Saturday, a day after the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence on Mohammad Afzal, key accused in the Parliament attack case, his family members said their last hope is the President of India.

The Supreme Court had upheld the death sentence on Friday, saying Afzal’s curative petition had no merit. The curative petition was his last legal option.

A four-judge Bench of the apex court concluded the death sentence was an appropriate sentence for the attack on India’s Parliament. “There is no merit in the curative petition,” the Bench stated in its order finding no infirmity in the judgment.

The Supreme Court also rejected a plea by Shaukat Hussain, another man accused in the case, who sought a review of his 10-years jail sentence.

Afzal was given the death sentence by the Supreme Court after he was convicted in 2005 of providing logistical support to terrorists who stormed the Indian Parliament on December 13, 2001.

All five militants involved in the attack were gunned down by the Indian security forces guarding the Parliament. Six policemen and a Parliament employee were also killed in the exchange of fire.

The mercy petition of Afzal, a resident of India-administered Kashmir, is now with the President. His family said they had little hope, anyway, on the outcome of the curative petition.

Tabasum, Afzal’s wife, said: “We were certain that the petition will be rejected. He never got a good lawyer in the Sessions Court. Hence it is quite natural that the Supreme Court would reject the curative petition.”

Commented Ghulam Mohammed, Afzal’s father-in-law: “We failed to get a good defence lawyer for Afzal. That is why he failed to build a strong case in his favour in both the trial and Sessions court. There were a lot of other reasons. The mercy plea now lies with the President. We hope that the President will take a good look at it.”

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posted by a correspondent @ 7:45 AM   0 comments
Saturday, January 13, 2007
Obscene video impersonating Mahatma Gandhi on Youtube sparks widespread outrage

A video clip that denigrates India’s Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi is snowballing into a big controversy, inviting outrage and condemnation from all quarters.

In an apparent attempt to gain instant popularity, a non-resident Indian (NRI) stand-up comedian and clown has portrayed Mahatma Gandhi in a cheap and vulgar way.

The Government of India acted quickly to ban the video in India even as the public at large is outraged.

The video footage has been available on the worldwide web for the past few days.

It was a 24x7 television channel that broke the news first, drawing the attention of the nation as well as the Government to the attempt to disparage the Father of the Nation in the Western media.

India’s Information and Broadcasting Ministry immediately slapped a ban on any attempt to air the footage on any Indian TV channel and also sought an apology from the two TV channels that first beamed the news.

The short video clip, made by United States-based based Gautham Prasad, shows Mahatma Gandhi in some shockingly vulgar scenes.

The footage shows a man – believed to be Gautham Prasad himself – dressed as the Mahatma, resorting to violence, carrying a dagger, performing a pole-dance, firing from an AK-47 rifle, eating out in restaurants with women, jumping out of a sports car, etc.

Prasad’s webpage describes him as a stand-up comedian, clown and yoga teacher based in New York and claims he was born in India and brought up in America.

The webpage describes the man thus: “He studied acting at Northwestern University and mime in Paris with Maximilien Decroux. He was a clown with Ringling Brothers circus for two years. He has studied clowning with Dick Monday, Tiffany Reilly, Sue Morrison, and David Shiner. He currently lives in New York City, where he works as a yoga teacher and performer.”

Prasad's webpage says his influences are Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor. The man also claims to have a certificate to teach Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga from an institute called, It’s Yoga, San Francisco.

The video footage is being played on a popular website for sometime now. It was only on Thursday that it caught the attention of the Indian media.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi has said he has asked his ministry to “deal firmly” with the matter. The Information and Broadcasting Ministry is consulting the Information Technology Ministry on a possible action plan as the footage has been obtained from a website.

“Based on a website document, an attempt was made to denigrate the honour of the Father of the Nation, which has been in bad taste,” Dasmunsi said. He also warned the Indian media against any attempt to copy or publish the obscene material.

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posted by a correspondent @ 5:47 AM   0 comments
Monday, January 08, 2007
US team arrives to help find missing Indonesian plane
Officials of the United States Transport Safety arrived in Indonesia’s Sulawesi on Friday to help investigate the disappearance of a plane with 102 people on board. The US team will investigate aspects such as engineering, operations and weather.

Meanwhile, search operations continued for the sixth day on Friday after the plane went missing mysteriously.

Four Indonesian military planes, a Singapore Air Force Fokker-50 and a helicopter are already looking for the missing Boeing along with army and police ground teams and civilian and Navy ships.

The missing plane, a 17-year-old Boeing 737-400, operated by the Indonesian budget carrier Adam Air, disappeared on Monday in bad weather. Those on board included three Americans.

The plane, which disappeared after encountering 130 km/hr winds over northern Indonesian waters, twice changed course, an official said.

In what officials said was his last conversation with air traffic control in Makassar, the pilot said the flight had encountered crosswinds and needed safe coordinates. Radar continued to track the flight for some time after that.

Rescuers have been combing the sea and land for the missing plane, which was heading for Manado, North Sulawesi’s provincial capital, from Surabaya in East Java.

“Whatever happened to the plane, it was likely rapid and catastrophic,” said Patrick Smith, a US-based airline pilot and aviation commentator, pointing to a possible massive structural failure thanks to metal fatigue or an onboard explosion.

He pointed out that noted that, in many accidents, “there are no distress calls simply because the cockpit crew is too busy dealing with the situation rather than calling around for help.”

The plane altered course and turned westward halfway into the two-hour trip after being warned of rough weather near the city of Makassar,Eddy Suyanto, head of the search and rescue mission, said.

When the plane ran into winds of over 130 km/hr over the Makassar Strait, it changed course again, bringing the plane eastward toward land, then disappeared from the radar, Suyanto said.

It is not clear why there have been no transmissions from the plane's emergency locator.

Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has asked for full resources to be devoted to the search for the missing plane.

Indonesia has seen a boom in airline service to serve its 17,000 islands and 220 million people since the industry was deregulated, but safety standards are reportedly poor.

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posted by a correspondent @ 7:23 AM   0 comments
ULFA strikes again: 12 non-Assamese gunned down
In the second attack within a span of just two days on the non-Assamese, the banned United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) on Saturday shot dead 12 Bihari and Bengali brick-kiln workers and milkmen and injured five others in Sadiya area of Tinsukia district in Assam.

In all, 17 non-Assamese had been gunned down on Friday by the insurgent outfit in Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts.

The ULFA activists attacked the remote the village of Ghuramora, under Sadiya police station, in the wee hours of Saturday and gunned down the Bihari-Bengali mixed population of brick-kiln workers and milkmen, police said.

Security personnel have been despatched to the area of the killings,which was not accessible by motor and was across a river, District Superintendent of Police P K Bhuyan, said.

The policemen would require to travel 20 km on foot and cross the river before reaching there.

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posted by a correspondent @ 7:20 AM   1 comments
Sonia visits Nithari, lambasts UP Govt on law and order
Criticising severely the Mulayam Singh Yadav Government in Uttar Pradesh for the poor law and order situation in the State, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said on Saturday that the Chief Minister sought a CBI inquiry into the Nithari killings only after pressure mounted from her party.

Sonia Gandhi, who visited Nithari early on Saturday, launched a stinging attack on the Samajwadi Party Government for the “absence of law and order in the State.”

“There is no law and order. You can see for yourselves the situation. Something or the other is happening everyday,” she said.

The UPA chairperson said the Mulayam Singh Yadav Government had initially refused to order a CBI inquiry into the “cruel and heinous killings” of at least 17 children and women in Nithari allegedly by businessman Moninder Singh Pandher and his domestic help Surender Koli.

However, the Congress chief did not reply to questions on imposing President’s rule in Uttar Pradesh.The Congress had on Friday said that it would not make any formal demand for imposition of President’s rule in the State as it was focussing on a “huge human problem.”

Sonia Gandhi reached the hamlet of Nithari on Saturday morning and met about 15 families of the victims as well as village elders besides inspecting the areas adjacent to the infamous D-5, Sector 31, residence of main suspect Moninder, including the drain from where the skeletons were found.

She spent about 30 minutes with the relatives of the victims and inquired them about the entire incident. The families, most of them relatives of migrant labourers, complained to her about the Uttar Pradesh Government’s callous handling of the case.

Asked why she was visiting the village over a week after the incident first came to light, Sonia Gandhi said: “We had sent the PCC president (Salman Khursheed) and the Minister of State for Home (Sri Prakash Jaiswal) from Delhi. Now I am here.”

The Congress president was accompanied by AICC general secretary Ashok Gehlot.

Interestingly, Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav has so far not visited the nondescript village of Nithari, which has suddenly shot into national attention.

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posted by a correspondent @ 7:19 AM   0 comments
At last, Mulayam agrees to CBI probe into Nithari, Kavita cases
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Uttar Pradsh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, after refusing for days the demand from various quarters for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the ghastly serial killings of children in Nithri, Noida, has finally decided to seek a CBI probe into the Nithari incident as well as the Meerut murder case involving lecturer Kavita Rani.

A man who confessed to killing Kavita Rani has claimed that she was blackmailing an Uttar Pradesh minister whom she had caught on camera in a compromising position in his bedroom.

Mulayam Singh Yadav also announced that the State Government would allocate residential plots to the families of the Noida victims and would also consider their demand to give jobs to one family member each of the victims.

His decision to hand over investigations to the CBI came as a surprise since Mulayam had all along maintained that the state police was competent enough to handle the case and there was no need to involve the CBI.

The Mulayam Government had been under pressure from political parties and others for a CBI probe into the murders since almost everyone doubted the integrity of the Uttar Pradesh police, which have been accused of ignoring the disappearance of 38 children from Nithari over two years and also of not registering their parents’ complaints.

Even Uttar Pradesh Governor T V Rajeshwar had called for a CBI inquiry, but politicians of Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party had consistently been rejecting the plea. Even Mulayam’s brother and UP Minister for Public Works Shivpal Singh Yadav had said that handing over the probe to the CBI would delay matters.

Meanwhile, the Central Government has sought data on the missing children from the State governments in the light of the serial killings in Nithari.

The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development has written tothe Chief Secretaries of all States to provide it with data on missing children, focusing on areas from where maximum complaints are being received.

The Centre will study the data and formulate an action plan on how to deal with the issue. All state governments have been asked to ensure that FIRs of missing persons are lodged and sincere efforts made to trace those missing.

Meanwhile, based on the preliminary findings of the committee set up by the Central Government, the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development has decided to provide the aggrieved families in Nithari with psychological counselling.

The committee found that the families are going through severe psychological trauma and needed counselling.

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posted by a correspondent @ 7:18 AM   0 comments
Timberlake, Cameron Diaz parting ways?
Celebrated singer Justin Timberlake himself is making it known that he and Hollywood actress Cameron Diaz are set to separate. What is more, the singer is said to be cozying up to top Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson.

The SexyBack singer – who is nine years younger than the 34-year-old Cameron Diaz, the actress of Charlie's Angels – has reportedly been telling friends that the couple’s three-and-a-half-year relationship is finished.

America's Star magazine reports that Timberlake told friends while he was partying at Senses, a Memphis nightclub, during the Christmas holidays: “Me and Cameron? We’re done.”

It had been thought the couple would spend Christmas together, but while Timberlake spent the holiday with his family in Memphis, Cameron was seen alone at Vail Mountain, the Colorado ski resort.

While in his hometown, the pop heartthrob was seen many times in the company of a former high school sweetheart of his, 25-year-old Veronica Finn. Finn was once in a girl band, Innosense, with another ex-flame of Timberlake’s, Britney Spears.

Hollywood gossip columnist Janet Charlton writes that Timberlake now has his eyes on actress Scarlett Johansson.

Before she met Timberlake, Diaz had a four-year relationship with actor-singer Jared Leto.

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posted by a correspondent @ 7:15 AM   0 comments
SC upholds ban on interview for nursery admission
The ban imposed by the Delhi High Court on interviews for nursery children and their parents at the time of admission has been upheld by the Supreme Court.

Refusing to give relief to Delhi schools in the nursery admission case, the Supreme Court on Friday upheld the Delhi High Court’s verdict that the process be conducted in accordance with the recommendations of the Ganguly Committee Report.

A Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice-designate K G Balakrishnan and Justice D K Jain, however, granted liberty to the petitioners to approach the High Court afresh for raising their objections regarding the Ganguly Committee recommendations.

Earlier, South Delhi’s Shriram School and Vasant Valley School had filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the December 8, 2006,order of the High Court.

The petitioners challenged the 100-point criteria recommended by the Ganguly Committee, describing it as an attempt to take away the autonomy of private schools.

The school managements argued that the Delhi High Court did not pay proper attention to the objections raised by them regarding the recommendation/100-point scale for selection of children for admission to the nursery classes.


The 100-point formula for Nursery Admissions Management include:

o No interviews with children and parents
o 20 points for residence being within a 3-km range of the school
o 20 points for residence being between 3 km and 10 km

o No points for residence being beyond a 10-km radius

o 20 points to parents’ qualifications, siblings in same school preferred
o 5 points to girl child
o 5 points to disabled children
o Heavier weightage to single parent
o Common admission dates for all schools

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posted by a correspondent @ 7:14 AM   0 comments
Besides divorce, Heather wants most of McCartney’s properties
Is Heather Mills, Paul McCartney’s about-to-be-divorced wife, asking for too much? She says she wants four of Paul McCartney's homes as part of their divorce settlement.

It has been reported that Heather told her attorneys that she is ready to fight for possession of all four properties, which are located in London, New York, Sussex and Los Angeles. Heather also expects, according to sources, a fortune in cash plus an ‘annual allowance.’ Why does she want so much? Because she believes her marriage to McCartney destroyed her career.

“Throughout the marriage, Heather Mills told her friends and people she worked with, that nothing good has come out of marrying Paul. She says that, before she met him, she used to earn a lot of money but being with him destroyed her earning potential,” a source was quoted by the Mirror as saying.

Said another source: “Heather is living in dreamland. She hardly earned millions before they got together. If anything, her profile and therefore earning potential escalated after she met Paul. Paul has spent years building up his property portfolio and he’s not going to be giving up any homes he owns without a fight.” Well, does Heather have a problem? At least, Paul McCartney should know!

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posted by a correspondent @ 7:12 AM   0 comments
Bangalore terror attack averted
Karnataka woke up to a terror threat on Friday morning.Police averted a terror strike at Bangalore with the arrest of a suspected militant from Kashmir. The arrest was made following a tip-off from central intelligence agencies.

The Bangalore police are currently interrogating the suspected militant, who was on his through Hospet to Bangalore. The suspect, Imran alias Bilal, who is in his early 30s, had come by bus from Hospet in Bellary district, according to the cops. Bilal, who boarded a Hospet -Bangalore private bus on Thursday night was arrested by the Bangalore Crime Branch sleuths near Jalahalli in the outskirts of the Bangalore in the wee hours on Friday. According to sources, Bilal had been staying in Hospet for the past five years. He was running a handicrafts shop there as a cover up for his subversive activities.

The police is questioning and examining Bilal’s phone calls to check whether he was in touch with people from foreign countries or other parts of the state. The police are working to find out whether he is part of a larger group. AK 47 rifle, 300 rounds of ammunition, 5 grenades, satellite phone, SIM cards and a detailed map of Bangalore with markings on it have been recovered from him.

The Bangalore police may seek the assistance of J&K police in interrogating Bilal, sources said. The poice have stepped up vigil every day and night.

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posted by a correspondent @ 7:09 AM   0 comments
Sunday, January 07, 2007
Bipasha Basu in action gear Reliance ADA’s Zapak
After Salman, who? Reliance ADA has an answer. Bipasha Basu.Riding the wave of success due to its association with Salman Khan, ADA group company Zapak Digital Entertainment, a Reliance ADA group venture company has now tuned itself into associating with Bipasha Basu. Bips would don action costumes for the venture. A new feature called Zapak.tv has also been unveiled. .

Reliance ADA feels that at Zapak.com it would be aiding visitors on the website to play out their fantasy, by letting them be or play with their favorite star. A 'Bipasha Basu Zone' on Zapak.com will have games exclusively based on the actor. Bipasha would also contribute by helping the Zapak team conceptualize the games.

The first of the series is an action game, Beach Blaze, which lets gamers step into the shoes of Bipasha Basu, and plunge right ahead into a beachside skating challenge. Posing as Bipasha, gamers get to face hurdles, overcome them, even defend themselves against the bad guys, said reports. Beach Blaze will be launched on February 25.

Meanwhile the new Zapak offering, Zapak.tv, promises audio-visual content on just about everything that is gaming. This will likely include game reviews, special reviews, cheat codes, gaming events, gaming countdowns, behind the scenes and celebrity chats, even gaming jockeys. Zapak.tv will be interactive, allowing gamers host gaming related video content, as also share thoughts and ideas on games and gaming.

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posted by a correspondent @ 10:04 AM   0 comments
British tourist Stephen Bennet had feared for his life, says mother
Stephen Bennet, the tourist found murdered in a Maharashtra village, had called his mother.


Were murderers following the British national who was killed in a village in Raigad district? It appears so, after his mother revealed that her son had called her four days before his death to say that he feared for his life.

Local police in Malsai village, however, claim that the villagers killed the British tourist, Stephen Bennett, from Cheltenham, over a misunderstanding following language problem.

Agencies quoted Maureen Bennett as saying: “My son called me to say that ‘I have been traveling with these two blokes and these people are menacing.” She said “he was afraid they might try to kill him.”

Stephen Bennett is believed to have been murdered on December 11, 2006, at Malsai village near Roha in Raigad district by a group of irate villagers for allegedly misbehaving with a woman.

Stephen had also informed his mother he had abandoned his hotel and left his money and passport behind after an incident on the Goan beach near his hotel.

“Something happened to him on the beach which really scared him,” Maureen said, adding that when he called back on December 7, he said he had his money and passport with him.

Maureen said she did not know exactly what happened on the beach or how he got his money and passport back.

Stephen, who was visiting India for the first time, had allegedly misbehavedwith the wife of a man called Ramesh Mane, in the wee hours of December 11. Ramesh and some of his relatives reportedly strangulated Stephen to death on the same day. Stephen was found hanging from a tree.

The version of the villagers in Malsi is that Stephen, in the early hours of December 11, started speaking to a local woman in English. The woman and her family, who do not know English, thought he was making overtures to the woman and began beating him with sticks. Later, others in the neighborhood joined them in the assault.

Ramesh Mane, 38, and three others have been arrested and booked under Sections 302 (murder) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence) read with 34(common intention) of the Indian Penal Code. The police are looking for two other accused.

Stephen Bennett had come to India on December 3, 2006, on a tourist visa, according to the passport the police found on him. The police also found on him 300 pounds and a railway ticket from Goa to Mumbai.

According to Stephen’s mother, he had come to Goa “to get some pre-Christmas sunshine” and to meet his friends.

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posted by a correspondent @ 9:54 AM   0 comments
Koena Mitra goes gaga over night with Nelly Furtado in India
For Koena Mitra, it was a night to remember and cherish.

Koena, still sweating it out to find a foothold in Bollywood, is all agog about her New Year’s Eve performance with celebrated Canadian singer Nelly Furtado.

Says a jubilant Koena: “It was a night I'd never forget. It wasn't just the best live show I've performed in, but the best live show I've ever seen.”

Even many hours after she finished performing with Nelly Furtado, renowned music composer A R Rahman, Priyanka Chopra and Shahid Kapur, Koena can’t stop raving about her experience at the Andheri Sports Complex.

Koena goes on: “For four hours, the young crowds were on their feet. I had never performed in front of a standing crowd before. Normally, when you've a seated crowd you could end up with the worst deal... audiences eating, or worse, drinking, as you perform. For once, the crowds were totally with us. All of us – Nelly, Priyanka, Shahid, Rahmanji and me – felt so alive. There was no room to get tired. The audiences’ enthusiasm just kept our energy level going.”

Koena’s medley of all her hit songs was followed by a joint act with Priyanka. “At the end, we were all invited by Rahmanji on stage to bring in 2007 at midnight. We all sang ‘Humma humma’ (from ‘Bombay’) to bring in the New Year. Really, it was four hours of undiluted fun. I can't think of a better way to bring in the New Year.”

After the show, it would seem, Koena was all sapped.“I just came home and kept watching clippings of our show on television. The next few days, I’m just chilling at home visiting friends and shopping.”

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posted by a correspondent @ 9:52 AM   0 comments
Friday, January 05, 2007
Gateway molestation: Get this right, all men are potential molestors
By the time you read this, all of you must have heard about the molestation and stripping of a girl at the Gateway of India during New Year celebrations. More groped people are appearing in newspapers and television - seems there was another saree-clad woman who was groped and was rescued before the situation for worse, a foreigner who was groped, and more such instances.

I am not surprised. I won't call those men perverts either. Calling them 'men' would suffice.

Why? I have been in groups of men, semi-mobs of bullies, though my college life and if there is one thing the experience has taught me, its this: All men have it in them to take a grab of a female body if the chance presents itself before them. In the minds of more civilized men, there happens a battle between what they know is right and the desire to join in the fun. Often, the good mind wins - but don't be mistaken for a second that they doesn't consider the alternative. Yes, those men include your husbands and boyfriends and fathers.

And there are many who go ahead and take the chance. Don't blame it on perversion, social class, upbringing or moral values. We are talking about something at the core - deeper and more ingrained than where the moral value layer floats. Civilization and civility, politeness and decency - are in effect recent innovations. If you mistake your bubble for reality, you will be sorry.

Taking the woman you want, has always been a masculine thing. If you watch old movies, you can see the tough guys doing it that way. There were wars, there were battles between little lords, and one of the things that would happen was a quick rape of the women of the vanquished. We can quibble all we want that this particular country or that particular religion did not do it, but fact is that men have millions of years of power and a brain programmed for violence behind them, and they always did it and will do it.

Those men are the Gateway were not perverts. They were just men, doing what they have been doing whenever they had a chance.

Men - young and old, lower and upper class - have been groping and molesting women whenever they got a chance. In college, the guys who were very protective of their classmates - often the guys whom the women love - do what they can to women they do not know personally. They are on their best behavior in class, but when you girls are not looking, those great friends of yours are staring down your cleavages, looking up your skirts, and touching up your friends and poking their breasts with their elbows in crowds. Then they come back and boast about it. The larger number of men who can empathise with women listen, horrifed and fascinated at the same time. Their horror is the result of their better upbringing and a lucky brush of sensitivity, their fascination is the result of generations of tweaking of their brains towards sexual violence when the man who could be unscrupulous and violent would be the most successful.

(Here, I would like to offer my choicest abuses to the retarded brother/ boyfriend who took the girl to Gateway of India in the middle of a crowd. You technically have a right to be anywhere you want irrespective of your companion's gender - but if you do not understand the way our society operates, you probably need a finger up your arsehole to under some facts of life.)

Now, men and women, what are we going to do?

Some advocate extreme caution. Some say go out and beat them up. Some stand by the roadside with flurescent arrows and call themselves action heroes.

All valid approaches, and all futile too. None of this is going to get you women, or your sisters and mothers, freedom from groping and worse.

Do I have any solutions? No. But I would like to consider certain avenues.

A large part of the problem is about power. Men in India are disproportionately powerful in a social sense, and many of us fail to recognise that. In a crowd, the real instincts of men take over, and drunk on the power of the mob to do what it wants to whomever it wants, it strips you of your dignity. We have to figure out a way to better balance the power dynamic. What would that be? Is there a way in which we can ensure massive retaliation in some cases which would serve as an example? Okay so there may be nothing we can do to ensure retaliation against a mob. How about bait-teams which can enter crowded places known to be frequented by gropers? If a woman enters a crowded bus, seemingly alone but actually part of a bigger group, there will be groping attempts which can be stopped, and the perpetrators can be mercilessly beaten. Ten such incidents in a metro, and perhaps a few where television channels can be involved, might work wonders in instilling some fear in the minds of men. How practical is this? Do tell me.

How about shock tactics? How about constant reminders to men - by way of advertisements or hoardings - that women who they know and love are constantly violated by men like them? For example, imagine a hoarding outside a railway station in Mumbai or a bus station which displays a very respectable 40 year old woman and the line, "someone is doing what you just did to me to your wife." I would of course prefer much more graphical descriptions about hands that crawl up skirts etc, but I don't think they would be allowed on our streets.

I basically believe that we need to generations - father and son - who have seen the rule of law working, for the law-abiding culture to really settle in our minds and override our genetic programming for sexual violence. Assuming that it starts now, we are still talking about at least 50 years of the rule of law. Fat chance its gonna happen.

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posted by a correspondent @ 8:18 AM   3 comments
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Central govt sets up panel to probe Noida killings
Manjula Krishnan to focus on negligence on local police and administration.

Even as the Supreme Court of India on Wednesday declined to entertain a petition seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the macabre serial killings at Nithari village in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, the Central Government has set up a high-level committee to investigate the incident.

This was done apparently bowing to mounting pressure from various quarters.

The committee, headed by Manjula Krishnan, Joint Secretary, Women and Child Development Ministry, will focus on the negligence by the local administration in investigating the issue and will submit its report within 15 days.

"We will suggest preventive measures to avoid such happenings in future,” said Manjula Krishnan.

Renuka Chaudhary, Union Minister for Woman and Child Welfare, said the inquiry committee said: “What was the Uttar Pradesh government doing when these children disappeared and were killed and buried? A higher probe would be ordered if there are lacunae in the report.”

It was five days ago that skeletons of children - who were sexually assaulted and butchered - were unearthed from the bungalow of businessman Moninder Singh Pandher in Noida’s Sector 31.

The Noida police have confirmed that at least 22 dismembered skeletons - most of them with torsos missing - have been recovered so far.

Pandher and his domestic help Surendra alias Satish Koli - accused of raping and killing nearly 40 children and young women - confessed to the crime on Tuesday and were remanded to police custody till January 10.

They will undergo lie-detector and a narco-analysis tests in Ahmedabad on Friday.

The recovery of skulls, bones and skeletons without torsos has also sparked off speculation that an organ trade business was the cause of the ghastly killings. However, Noida police have not confirmed or denied it yet.

“We are not ruling out any angle. We are collecting evidence to probe all possible angles,” Shailendra Pratap Singh, Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Meerut, said.

After facing severe criticism, the Noida police have also decided to record the statement of the accused in front of a magistrate under section 164 of the Indian PenalCode.

Police teams have also been dispatched to Pandher's Ludhiana farmhouse.

Child kidnapping cases have been reported from Chandigarh, Pandher's hometown.

Meanwhile, seven of the eight families of the victims - who were given a compensation of Rs 200,000 by the state government - on Tuesday returned their compensation cheques in protest.

However, the aggrieved families have now been returned their cheques. They are demanding that they be given jobs and houses as compensation.

The Chief Justice of India-designate Gopinathan Balakrishanan has expressed his concern over the incident, saying that the inquiry must be fair. “One would be shocked if all these revelations are true. So many skulls and body parts are being recovered,” he said.

The National Human Rights Commission also issued notices to the Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh in connection with the bizarre incident.

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posted by a correspondent @ 2:11 AM   0 comments
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Fourth typhoon leaves Philippines numb
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Four typhoon attacks in three months! Nature’s fury is making Philippines duck for cover. Northern Philippines witnessed widespread damage as Typhoon Durian rammed into region on Thursday leaving thousands stranded. However, the weather offices have said the typhoon may skip capital Manila.

With the storm gushing in, Catanduanes, an eastern island, was totally cut off after power companies halted operations and mobile phone signals went dead. Disaster officials forced villagers along the coast to evacuate . Flash floods, landslides and storm surges due to Typhoon Durian have been forecast.

Packing winds of up to 190 kph and gusts of 225 kph, Typhoon Durian was feared to hit resort areas in Batangas province and Mindoro island.

Though Manila is not in the danger zone, the residents have been advised to gear up to face heavy rain and strong winds. It may be recalled that this September, as many as 213 people were killed when Typhoon Xangsane battered nation, leaving millions without power or water for days together. The recent run of typhoons damaged crops, transport links and power lines, dragging down third-quarter economic growth.

With the threat still looming inbound international airlines like Northwest Airlines have cancelled flights. The Manila administration declared a holiday for schools due to fears of heavy rain and wind.

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posted by a correspondent @ 2:33 AM   0 comments
Justice K G Balakrishnan is India's first dalit Chief Justice
Finally, a Dalit is at the top f the judiciary set up in the country. With the appointment of Justice K G Balakrishnan, a senior judge of the Supreme Court, as the 37th Chief Justice of India, the country has honoured a Dalit.

President A P J Abdul Kalam cleared the appointment of 62-year-old Balakrishnan as the new Chief Justice of India on Friday. His tenure will be till May 2010. He succeeds Justice Y K Sabharwal, who retires on January 13, 2007.

The ascent of Justice Balakrishnan to the Supreme Court top post has also given Kerala another laurel. Justice Balakrishnan hails from a poor Dalit family in Kottayam in Kerala.

Starting his career in law way back in 1968 as an advocate, he was appointed munsif in the Kerala Judicial Services in 1973. He later resigned and resumed practice in the Kerala High Court. Come 1985, and he was appointed judge of the Kerala High Court. In 1997, he was transferred to the Gujarat High Court and he took over as Chief Justice of the Gujarat High Court in 1998. In 1999, he assumed charge as the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court. On June 8, 2000 he was elevated to the Supreme Court.

The new Chief Justice of India has many a landmark judgements to his credit, many of them dealing with Constitutional and other matters, criminal laws and public interest litigations (PILs).

Prominent among the landmark judgments is his order declining to show any leniency to two sisters who were found guilty of kidnapping 13 children and murdering nine of them, in Mumbai. He awarded them death sentence.

Justice Balakrishnan was part of the Bench, which held that courts could not interfere in criminal proceedings in PILs and thus gave relief to Railway Minister Lalu Prasad in income tax cases. He had also come down heavily on the practice of High Court judges granting bail to the accused during their visits to prisons.

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