Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mumbai serial killings: Fear keeps Kurla on the edge


Mumbai:  The Kurla suburb of Mumbai has been rocked by a series of child murders since February. After three young girls were raped and killed in a slum here, it's not just the slum residents who are on edge but also residents from other regions across the suburb.

Three-year-old Mudra leaves for school under the watchful eyes of her father.

Girish Tandel who is a Port Trust Employee has been dropping his daughter to school himself for the past one week. He no longer leaves the maid to do it.

Though his apartment complex is some distance from the Ali Dada estate slum, where 9-year-old Nusrat Sheikh's decomposed body was recovered on Sunday, yet the news of a killer on the prowl has shaken him and the other residents of his complex alike.

"The police were lax initially but now they are everywhere, in uniform and in plain clothes. But it is also true that the case is still not solved," said a disturbed Girish.

"Earlier we used to send the children to school with neighbours, but now we go ourselves. We cannot trust anybody," added Parveen Sheikh, another resident.

Three young girls below the age of 10 have been raped and killed in the slum since February.

Even as the police have started patrolling the slum, nearby buildings are taking their own precautions. The rules are clear. No entry to strangers in the compound. No playing out of the building premises and no going out after dark.

It's not just parents of young children who are worried, even college students are being careful.

"We don't go out after 8 pm. If we have to go we go in a group," said Rutuja Hirlekar, a student.

All the leads the police explored so far have yielded no results but till the killer is nabbed there's unlikely to be any let up in the tension in these areas.
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Karnataka Lokayukta asked to reconsider resignation, says no


New Delhi:  The resignation of Karnataka's Lokayukta, Justice Santosh Hegde, had caused ripples around the country with even the Home Minister asking him to reconsider. But Hegde said his mind is made up - despite Chidambaram's request. 

"He just said you have been doing a good job - is there a need for you to quit? That is all he asked me. But this is step that I find very difficult to retrace," he said.

Hegde resigned on Wednesday citing the "callous attitude" of the BJP government in the state towards fighting corruption. (Read: Karnataka's top crusader quits)

Even Governor of Karnataka, HR Bharadwaj, had tried to persuade him to stay on

"He is my old friend so I told him we cannot permit you to resign. I requested him - you withdraw this. He did not yield to this," Bhardwaj said. 

Members of the public and advocates also do not want to see the Lokayukta go. But absent from this chorus was the state government itself.

"It is left to the Lokayukta to take his own decision..." said Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa.

One of the Lokayukta's most hard hitting reports was on illegal mining in the state. Justice Santosh Hegde's resignation is being seen as an indictment of the state government's lack of will to fight corruption.

But the state government was in a celebratory mood. After all, they were marking two years of the first BJP government in south India. However, a shadow was cast across the event by a man who wasn't even there.

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Lalit Modi committed major irregularities: Farooq Abdullah


Mumbai:  The noose tightened further around Lalit Modi on Friday with IPL Governing Council member Farooq Abdullah saying that the suspended commissioner of the Twenty20 league committed "major irregularities" during his days in the office.

The Governing Council also approved an amended media rights agreement with MSM Satellite, which will recover the Rs 425 crore facilitation fee it had paid to World Sports Group (WSG) and pay it back to BCCI as rights fees.

Talking to reporters after the crucial Governing Council meeting which discussed issues related to Modi and the financial deals he had signed, Abdullah said views were exchanged on how to deal with the situation now.

"The various problems that IPL has gone through were put forward and decisions were taken. We found out major irregularities that have been committed by the past chairman and discussed what will be done and how we would proceed further," said Abdullah.

The Governing Council was convinced of Modi's irregularities while adding two new franchises to the league earlier this year, hinted Abdullah.
"We hope that people would come to know much more as to what has transpired in various things. How various franchisees were added and how irregularities were done," he said.
Giving an idea of how much Modi dominated today's meeting, Abdullah said, "Did we discuss him? How can he not be discussed? We were briefed about the mistakes he committed."
He said the Governing Council also discussed BCCI's July 3 Special General Body meeting, which is likely to seal Modi's fate.
"The agenda (of the meeting) was prepared today and all these (issues) was discussed," he said.

Abdullah said the July 3 meeting would also hear Modi's allegations against BCCI secretary N Srinivasan.

"Whatever charges and counter-charges have been made, the BCCI has a mechanism whereby the General Body would meet...Mr Modi has made a number of charges but I think many of these things would be cleared when the committee meets," he said. (Read: Lalit Modi to take legal action against BCCI)

Srinivasan said in a statement that today's meeting reviewed the status of all issues relating to Modi.
"The members were briefed about the three Show Cause Notices issued to Mr Lalit K Modi and his replies," he said.

Modi was slapped three show cause notices, mainly on charges of financial irregularities like proxy investment and bid-rigging.

Questions were also raised about the Rs 425 crore 'facilitation' fee that MSM Satellite paid to World Sports Group and Srinivasan said BCCI would get the money back as rights fees.

"The Governing Council-IPL had approved an amended Media Rights Agreement with MSM Satellite (Singapore) Pvt. Ltd. in which MSM would agreed to pay the balance payable under the Facilitation Fee Agreement to the BCCI.

"Thus, they have agreed to pay Rs. 300 crores as part of the rights fee to BCCI. MSM Satellite (Singapore) are taking steps to recover Rs. 125 Crores already paid to WSG Mauritius and on recovery, will pay the same to BCCI," Srinivasan said in a statement.

 Also rRad: IPL meet - Teams say no to player retention

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CITU calls transport strike in West Bengal on Saturday


Kolkata:  The CITU has called a 24-hour transport strike in West Bengal on Saturday to protest against the Centre's decision to hike the prices of petrol, diesel, kerosene and cooking gas.

"All transport, including goods and passenger vehicles, will go on strike state-wide tomorrow in protest against the Centre's decision to increase the prices of petroleum products," CITU state president Shyamal Chakraborty told reporters in Kolkata.

He said that trains will run and essential services will be kept outside the purview of the strike.
Chakraborty, a central committee member of the CPI(M), described Trinamool Congress chief and Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee's opposition to the price hike as a 'political bluff'

"To bluff the people in the state, she has not attended the meeting of the Empowered Group of Ministers, which took the decision. Whether she attended the meeting or not, she has an understanding with the government on the price hike," he alleged.

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Deora says all on board, but some allies unhappy


New Delhi:  The government has bitten the bullet and decided to implement one of its boldest reforms - decontrol of petrol prices. The move will lead to an immediate hike in petrol and other fuel prices and has political ramifications, but the government is looking at long term gains in aligning prices to international rates. (Read: Govt decides to decontrol petrol prices; diesel, LPG, kerosene prices up too)

After the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGOM) headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee met today to approve market driven increase in petrol prices, Petroleum Minister Murli Deora said, "The price hike was minimum...we didn't have a choice."

Deora also insisted that all allies were on board on the fuel price hike decision. But there is the rub.

Because less than an hour later, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee made her opposition to the fuel price hike clear. Mamata, who has stayed away from the last two meetings of the EGOM, said she did not attend as her voice would have been in minority there. But, she said she would try and ensure that there was no hike in essential fuel that had a deep impact on the life of the common man. "We have raised our voice before the government to reconsider it...It's not fair to burden the common man," she said. (Watch: Not fair to burden common man, says Mamata)

Pranab Mukherjee met Mamata last evening and is believed to have explained the imperatives to her in a bid to take along all political allies on this crucial move. Mamata said she understood market dynamics, but was first committed to the well-being of the people. 

NCP leader Sharad Pawar, another key ally who opposed the hike and who too had skipped the last meeting, however, attended today's meeting.

The DMK too is opposed to the hike and Minister MK Alagiri handed over a note at the EGOM meeting that said the decision to hike fuel prices would put an additional burden on the public as the proposed increase was very high.

Both Mamata and the DMK have indicated that while they shall voice their protest at the common man being burdened, they will not rock their political alliance with the UPA.

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Govt faces flak for fuel hike


New Delhi:  The opposition parties have called for protests over the fuel hike on Saturday all over the country. (Read: Govt decontrols petrol prices)

Trade union CITU has called for a transport strike in West Bengal, the ruling Left Democratic Front will observe a dawn-to-dusk strike in Kerala while BJP will hold demonstrations across the country at all its district headquarters.

Strike over petroleum hike

  • CITU calls transport strike tomorrow in West Bengal
  • Ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) calls for dawn-to-dusk strike in Kerala
  • BJP will hold protest demonstrations on June 26-27 across the country at its district headquarters
  • Orissa: Ruling BJD called for a state-wide agitation tomorrow
  • BJP Dharna in Lucknow from 10 am to 12 noon

The fuel price hike across all four petroleum products is being seen as a politically bold move by the government. In an interview to NDTV's Shweta Rajpal Kohli, Petroleum Secretary S Sundereshan says fuel decontrol as a reform measure was long overdue and fuel prices in India are far less than its neighbouring countries.

Petrol prices in four metros:
DELHIOld price: 47.93
New price: 51.43

Old price: 52.20
New price: 55.70

Old price: 52.13
New price: 55.63

Old price: 54.13
New price: 57.63
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NSG calls for more transparency on China-Pak nuclear deal

Wellington:  The 46-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which finished a two-day meeting in New Zealand on Friday, has called for more consultations and greater transparency on the China-Pakistan nuclear deal.

In what appears to be an indirect reference to the deal, the NSG has said in a statement: "The group took note of briefings on developments concerning non-NSG states. It agreed on the value of ongoing consultation and transparency."

China has agreed to build two nuclear power reactors in Pakistan - a deal that many including India - believe violates the NSG's strict guidelines.

Also, in a big relief for India, the NSG has not banned the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technology to countries like India, which have not signed the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) - something the Americans were pushing for.

Sources say that at the NSG meeting in New Zealand, Turkey spoke out against the ban and India's other key partners in nuclear commerce - Russia and France - also sought to defer it. This comes after heavy diplomatic lobbying by India.

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Ten die in bus truck collision in Patna

Patna:  Ten people were on Saturday killed and 25 others injured when a bus collided head-on with a speeding truck near Chenaki More, around 30 km from here.

The mishap occurred when the overcrowded bus hit the lorry in Dhanarua police station in Patna district, Senior Superintendent of Police Amit Jain said.

"All of them died on the spot and their bodies have been extricated," he said.

The police fear more bodies might be trapped inside the mangled bus.

Ten of the critically injured have been admitted to Patna Medical College and Hospital, he added.

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Captain of detained ship taken for questioning


Kolkata:  The Karachi-bound cargo vessel from Bangladesh carrying military hardware and explosives was kept cordoned off on Saturday at Diamond Harbour in South 24 Parganas district with the captain disembarked and taken for questioning. (Read: Kolkata: Pak-bound suspect ship halted)

The captain of the Liberian registered ship, who was not identified, was taken to the Radisson Fort resort for questioning, police officials said.

The Navy and Coast Guard personnel had seized the ship yesterday on an intelligence tip off. It was anchored at Kalicharanpara.

The police and the Customs were still present on the ship, M V Agean Glory. The name of the ship had been given as S G Zyat last night by the officials.

It had set sail from Chittangong in Bangladesh and had anti-aircraft guns, rocket launchers, five tonne of explosives, besides a huge quantity of ammunition and smoke bombs in two large containers on board.

Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh had described the incident as "alarming" and said it was surprising why the Pakistani-bound vessel was passing through Indian waters.

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Protests in Sopore: Omar Abdullah calls emergency meet


Sopore, J&K:  Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has called an emergency meet to discuss the situation in Sopore. An indefinite curfew is on in Sopore since Friday evening after two civilians were killed and three injured in Centrtal Reserve Police Force (CRPF) firing.

Defying curfew, people of Sopore in north Kashmir on Saturday took to streets and staged demonstrations against the killing of two youths in CRPF firing.

Indefinite curfew was clamped in the town, 55-km from here, last evening when hundreds of people took to streets, set ablaze a security vehicle, damaged a bunker and attacked the local police station, demanding action against the CRPF personnel.

Official sources said groups of people defied curfew and staged demonstrations at Hathishah Mohalla, Jamia Kadeem and Krankshivan and pelted stones on law enforcers. However, there was no report of any casualty.

Describing the situation in Sopore as tense but under control, the sources said the state police and paramilitary forces personnel are patrolling the deserted streets.

Trouble started last evening when people took to streets soon after an encounter at Bagh-i-Islam Krankshivan, 55 kms from here, in which security forces claimed to have killed two militants identified as Abdul Qayoom Najjar and Javid Ahmad.

Najjar, a local, was allegedly involved in a series of killings including that of National Conference worker Ghulam Nabi Khan.

The locals claimed that Javid was a civilian and his body be handed over to them.

As protestors pelted stones on CRPF personnel who were retreating after the encounter, the paramilitary forces opened fire injuring eight persons, two of whom succumbed in hospital.

Mehbooba Mufti, President of People's Democratic Party (PDP) said that the Sopore killings have discredited the government.

CRPF spokesman Prabhakar Tripathy said CRPF opened fire in self defence when the mob set on fire a car of the force.

However, locals refuted the claim of CRPF saying that the firing was resorted against innocent people and it was only when the CRPF opened fire that their vehicle was torched.

As the situation went out of control, authorities  clamped indefinite curfew in the town around 10 pm last night.

Protesting against the incidents, separatists gave a call for Kashmir bandh today. Shops and business establishments remained closed in Srinagar and other major towns of the valley and vehicles did not ply.

However, attendance in government offices, educational institutions and semi-government offices was near normal and examinations of the state board and university are being held as per scheduled, the sources said.

Meanwhile, bodies of the two "militants" killed in the day-long encounter at Krankshivan were buried at Bijhama-Sopore, they said.

CRPF Inspector Rotash Singh was injured in the fire which came from the mob, and he is in critical condition, he said. (With PTI inputs)

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Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) on phone plans new attacks in Mumbai, Delhi

New Delhi:  Indian intelligence officials have intercepted phone conversations between Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) commanders that establish the group is planning fresh attacks at landmarks in Srinagar and Jammu.

The conversations also discussed a strike against top politicians.

Phone intercepts also establish that the LeT is preparing for terror strikes in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.

The development comes a day after the Home Ministry issued a terror alert on Thursday as senior officials and ministers from both countries are engaging to reduce "the trust deficit". (Terror alert in India: Pak-based groups may strike at public places)

India believes that terror groups in Pakistan opposed to the talks could strike now in an attempt to derail them.

P Chidambaram is in Islamabad, the first Indian Home Minister to visit Pakistan in 30 years. He made clear that terror topped his agenda as he met his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik this evening. Chidambaram is understood to have sought action against Hafiz Saeed, whom New Delhi considers the mastermind of the 26/11 attacks, and the handlers, including those who are believed to be serving in the Pakistani Army and those from the Lashkar. (Read: Chidambaram meets Rehman Malik, seeks sterner action against 26/11 perpetrators)

Chidambaram is also believed to have sought voice samples of the Pakistani 26/11 handlers and raised issues like infiltration on the border of Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistanis who have infiltrated and are indulging in militant activities.

On Thursday, after meeting her counterpart Salman Bashir, India's Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said, "We believe the Pakistan Prime Minister's commitment that he won't allow Pakistan territory to be used for terror activities. We must deny terrorist elements any attempt to derail good relations."

Soon after the Chidambaram visit, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna is scheduled to meet the Pakistani Foreign Minister on July 15 in Islamabad.

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India makes its stand on terror clear, but Pak gives no promises


Islamabad:  P Chidambaram is the first Indian Home Minister to travel to Pakistan in three decades where he met his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik on Friday. (Read: Chidambaram meets Rehman Malik in Pak)

India has made some of its key concerns known, but it has to be seen how much Pakistan delivers.

Sources have told NDTV that Pakistan has agreed to look into India's concerns on terrorism. But assurance is vague, as there are no tangible promises as yet.

However, India is waiting till Foreign Ministers' meeting to see if Pakistan delivers or not.

Sources also told that Pakistan has agreed to the increased list of goods across LoC as suggested by India. But neither India nor Pakistan discussed composite dialogue. Separate meetings between Commerce Secretary and Water Secretary may happen.

Meanwhile, the SAARC Interior Ministers Conference has started in Islamabad. Speaking at the meet, Rehman Malik said, "Pakistan has always taken steps to curb terrorism."

Reacting to Malik's speech Chidambaram said that efforts to bring peace by Rehman Malik is commendable.

Mr Chidambaram will push Pakistan to convict Zaki-Ur-Rahman Lakhvi, one of the masterminds of the Mumbai attacks, who's currently on trial as well as reign in Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed. India has requested that at the very least, he be banned from making inflammatory speeches.

During his flight to Islamabad, Chidambaram had told reporters accompanying him that:
  • There are important issues relating to terrorism that cannot be brushed aside
  • I have been here as Home Minister for last one and half years and the issues have been there much before
  • Apart from Hafiz Saeed, there are issues of cross border terrorism, infiltration and somebody will have to address these issues
Chidambaram, the first Indian Minister to visit Pakistan after the 26/11 attacks, came face to face with his Pakistani counterpart for the first time. Earlier the two Ministers were talking to each other largely through dossiers and counter dossiers.

On Friday, Chidambaram, a lawyer of repute, met his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik. An hour later came this response.

"It was good meeting, I have been saying instead of exchanging dossiers, there should be a change of hearts," said Rehman Malik, Interior Minister, Pakistan.

But India appears to be clear, a change of heart will clearly take more.

"We will not do anything that overshadows that the SAARC meeting but Pakistan must understand that there are serious issues that need to addressed," said P Chidambaram, Home Minister.

The Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan meet in less than three weeks and the trust deficit will have to be bridged if any substantial progress is to be expected.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Australia names first Muslim cricketer in squad

Usman Khawaja on Tuesday became the first Muslim to be included in Australia's cricket squad as the National Selection Panel announced a 14-member squad for the Test series against England.

If drafted into final XI in next month's two Test series, the 23-year-old left-handed batsman will become the first Muslim player ever to wear a Baggy Green.

Injury to Phillip Hughes created space in the squad and the selectors filled it with Khawaja, who impressed the NSP with his performance in domestic cricket.

"Usman Khawaja has been selected on the back of some very strong Weet-Bix Sheffield Shield performances. He is seen by the National Selection Panel as being capable of batting anywhere in the order in Test cricket, but importantly for this particular series a top-order batsman who could bat in the top four should the opportunity arise," NSP Chairman Andrew Hilditch said in a statement.

Also returning to the squad is paceman Ben Hilfenhaus, who has recovered from his injury.

Australia team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said stumper Brad Haddin and fats bowler Mitchell Johnson are recovering from their injuries but a final decision to play them will only be taken later.

"With the Test squad not departing for the UK until late next week it has been decided Brad Haddin will continue his rehabilitation from an elbow tendon injury in Sydney and his availability for these Test matches will be determined over the next week.

"Mitchell Johnson has trained strongly over the past four days with no adverse effect to his elbow. He has been cleared by medical staff to step up his training in preparation for both the Twenty20 and Test series against Pakistan," Kountouris said.

The first Test will start at Lords from July 13 and the second in Headingley from July 21.

Squad: Ricky Ponting (C), Michael Clarke (vc), Doug Bollinger, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mike Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Simon Katich, Usman Khawaja, Marcus North, Steven Smith and Shane Watson.

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Recusal of Manohar an eyewash, says Modi's lawyer

The withdrawal of Cricket Board president Shashank Manohar from the disciplinary committee to hear the case of suspended IPL commissioner Lalit Modi is an "eyewash", said the latter's legal counsel Mehmood Abdi on Tuesday.

"This recusal is an eyewash. After having decided that Modi's replies are not satisfactory, as being reported by a TV channel, Manohar has recused himself. And the man who is not part of the disciplinary committee and whose recusal we had demanded, Secretary N Srinvasan, is the man who has referred the matter to the disciplinary committee," Abdi said.

Abdi also said that while the BCCI seems to have sent the e-mails about the unsatisfactory replies to all and sundry, Modi has not got a copy of it.

"We have not received any such communication from the BCCI which seems to have sent it to all and sundry," Abdi remarked.

Manohar, in a letter to all the BCCI units, had recused himself from the three-member disciplinary committee and a Special General Meeting of the Board has been convened here on July 3 to nominate his replacement in the panel.

BCCI vice-presidents Arun Jaitley and Chirayu Amin, who is also IPL interim chairman, are the other members of the committee.

The SGM would also ratify Srinivasan's action of referring the charges against Modi to the disciplinary committee for further action and to take appropriate decisions with regard to the conduct of IPL.

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BCCI rejects Lalit Modi's explanations

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has rejected suspended IPL Commissioner Lalit Modi s explanations on all charges and sources say Board Secretary N Srinivasan has recommended that the disciplinary committee take further action against him.

NDTV exclusively has a copy of the BCCI s proceedings on Modi s replies. Copies of the six-page document have been sent to all board members.

Modi was served with three show-cause notices and suspended from all positions in the BCCI, including as Chairman and Commissioner of the Indian Premier League, after this year s IPL final.

Through the first notice, he was accused of financial irregularities in the conduct of the league as well as of rigging bids for franchisees. A second show-cause notice, based on an email from England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke, accused him of trying to destroy the structure of world and Indian cricket and the third related to alleged irregularities in the awarding of theatrical rights and commercial slots during the telecast of IPL 3 matches. Modi sent a 15000-page reply to the first and fairly long replies to the other two.

But the BCCI is not accepting his lengthy explanations and says they warrant a more detailed inquiry. There is no explanation, for instance, on why Modi made the shareholding pattern of the new Kochi IPL franchise public, the Board says.

Conversely, it has also said it may take action against the Kochi franchise if Modi s allegations against them are found true.

The BCCI says Lalit Modi inserted clauses during the bidding process for the two new IPL teams that kept away many interested parties. These clauses, it says, were inserted without the knowledge or approval of the board.

Dissatisfied with Modi's reply, the BCCI will also initiate further enquiry into the IPL TV rights deal.

The Board has convened a special general meeting on July 3. All state associations will attend the meeting and there is much speculation that a Modi's removal may be voted upon.

However, giving in to Modi's demand, BCCI President Shashank Manohar has recused himself from the three-man disciplinary committee constituted to conduct a hearing against the suspended IPL commissioner.

"Though I need not recuse myself from the Committee, in order to give a fair opportunity during enquiry to Mr Modi and to remove any doubt of bias from the mind of Mr Modi, I am withdrawing myself as a member of the Disciplinary Committee which is to hold an enquiry with regard to the charges against Mr Modi," Manohar said in his letter to Srinivasan.

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Maharoof ran through our batting: Dhoni

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said pacer Farvez Maharoof's hat-trick did his side in against Sri Lanka in the inconsequential match of the Asia Cup cricket tournament here on Tuesday.

Maharoof's returned with impressive figures of five for 42, including a hat-trick to sink India to the morale-shattering seven-wicket defeat against the Lankans at the Rangagiri Dambulla International Stadium.

"We were 189 for at one stage. We were looking at a total around 270. I got run out at a crucial stage and then Maharoof ran through our batting. Sri Lanka snatched the match away from us," said Dhoni, asserting that his team would regroup and come out all guns blazing in the summit clash against the same opponents on Thursday.

Meanwhile, architect of Sri Lanka's victory Maharoof said his hat-trick was a result of the hard work he and the team's coaching staff had put in over the years.

"My hard work has paid off. The coaching staff has been working hard with me in trying to get me bowl in the right areas. I did that today and was rewarded with those wickets," said Maharoof.

Maharoof became the third Sri Lankan bowler to capture a hat-trick after Chaminda Vaas and Lasith Malinga.

He achieved the feat in his seventh over of the day, removing Ravindra Jadeja (first ball), Praveen Kumar (second) and Zaheer Khan (third) to turn the match in Sri Lanka's favour.

Maharoof hoped he could produce another dream spell in the final.

"It is one of those days when everything went right for me. I do have a god record on this pitch. I have worked hard for the last 15 to 18 months. Hopefully, I will have one more day like this in the final and we lift the trophy," he said.

"I think (Kumar) Sangakkara took a marvelous catch to help me complete the trick," said the 25-year-old fast bowler, adding, "I was under no pressure. I just planned to put the bowl in the right spot. Fortunately I did that and Zaheer Khan nicked it."

Having been put to grass by a thigh injury, Maharoof had lost his place in the national team to Angelo Mathews, who has since established himself as a batting all-rounder, and Thisara Perera.

The Sri Lankan selectors overlooked Maharoof for nearly eight months, which also saw him miss the Twenty20 World Cup in the West Indies.

However, it was the new national selection committee's search for a bowling all-rounder ahead of the 2011 World Cup that returned Maharoof to the side.

Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara heaved praise on Maharoof and said his devastating spell turned the match in favour of the hosts.

"I would say that Maharoof's hat-trick turned the match our way. We never let go the pressure on India thereon. It was great show by a bowler (Maharoof) who wasn't in the reckoning until recently," said Sangakkara.

"The win has done our confidence good. But we know that we will have to start from scratch when we meet India in the final," he added.

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Maharoof, Sangakkara power Lanka to win over India

Sunk by Farveez Maharoof's sensational hat-trick, India slumped to a morale-shattering seven-wicket defeat against defending champions Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup cricket tournament here on Tuesday.

Maharoof (5/42) was the wrecker-in-chief with a hat-trick in the 39th over as India collapsed for a paltry 209 in 42.3 overs.
Asia Cup: Ind vs SL
Full Scorecard

India were cruising at 189 for four in the 38th over when Maharoof changed the course of the match in a span of three balls, dismissing Ravindra Jadeja, Praveen Kumar and Zaheer Khan for a first ball duck.

Rohit Sharma (69 off 73), Dinesh Karthik (40) and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (41) were the main contributors in the Indian innings.

Kumar Sangakkara (73) and Mahela Jayawardene (53 not out) produced 104 runs for the third wicket to steer Sri Lanka to an all-win record in the league with bonus point to boot.

With their confidence pepped up after yet another Indian conquest, Sri Lanka, who garnered 14 points from three successive wins, can seek to upstage Dhoni's men in the all-important final on Thursday.

Given the ball in the 39th over, 25-year old Maharoof trapped Jadeja right in front of the wickets off the first ball and then castled Praveen with the second.

With the crowd rooting behind him, Maharoof had Zaheer caught brilliantly by a diving Sangakkara to complete a dream hat-trick.

Maharoof became the third Sri Lankan after Chaminda Vaas (twice) and Lasith Malinga to complete the coveted feat. It was the 26th hat-trick in ODI history.

Put into bat, India were sitting pretty at 189 for four in the 38th over before Maharoof triggered a collapse with three wickets in as many balls to be all out in 42.3 overs at the Rangiri International stadium.

Maharoof trapped Ravindra Jadeja right in front of the wickets off the first ball of the 39th over. He then castled Praveen Kumar with the second.

As the motley home crowd egged him on for a hat-trick, the 25-year-old pacer had Zaheer Khan caught brilliantly by a diving wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara to complete the feat.

India lost four wickets in four balls as captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (41) was run out of the last ball of the previous over bowled by Rangana Herath. Dhoni was beaten to the crease by a Chamara Kapugedara direct hit as he strove to steal a non-existent single.

Maharoof became the third Sri Lankan after Chaminda Vaas (twice) and Lasith Malinga to complete the coveted feat. It was the 26th hat-trick overall in ODI history.

Invited to bat by Sri Lanka, India were in troubled waters at 110 for four before Rohit Sharma and Dhoni raised 79 runs for the fifth wicket.

Amidst the Indian ruins Rohit showed maturity during his tempered innings, eschewing stroke play for deft placements.

Opener Gautam Gambhir (23) was the first Indian batsman to perish. Venturing to pull Angelo Mathews, the left-hander saw Suraj Randiv lunge to his right and pluck the ball out of the air at short square. An outstanding catch it was.

Hardly had India recovered from Gambhir's premature demise when Virat Kohli, batting at the pivotal number three position, nibbled at a Maharoof delivery for Sangakkara to complete a regulation catch. He made 10 runs, registering his third successive failure in the tournament.

And when Dinesh Karthik (40), making his ninth comeback in 45 ODIs, was gobbled up by Sangakkara off left-arm spinner Rangana Hearth, India were in deep trouble at 77 for three in 15.2 overs.

Suresh Raina (18) and Rohit defied the Lankan attack for a while before the former, attempting to sweep Herath, was trapped in front of the wicket by the left-arm spinner.

Had it not been for the stubborn fourth wicket stand between Rohit and Dhoni, India could have been bowled out for
a total much lesser then they eventually made.

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Three million iPads sold but frustration for some customers

announced on Tuesday that it had sold its three millionth iPad, just 80 
days after it first went on sale. Yet customers who purchased an iPad 3G
 before June 7 were dealing with frustrations from AT&T, the 
exclusive carrier, while trying to sign up for an unlimited data plan.
New York:  Apple announced on Tuesday that it had sold its three millionth iPad, just 80 days after it first went on sale.

Yet customers who purchased an iPad 3G before June 7 were dealing with frustrations from AT&T, the exclusive carrier, while trying to sign up for an unlimited data plan.

For many iPad hopefuls it has been exceedingly difficult to purchase an iPad; almost all of Apple's 200 retail stores are sold out, and ordering online means waiting a week to 10 business days for shipping.

Last month, after AT&T announced that after June 7  it would eliminate the unlimited data option for the iPad 3G, the company agreed to allow customers who had ordered an iPad 3G before June 7 to sign up for an unlimited data plan, even before they had the device in hand
Now customers who have begun receiving their new iPad 3Gs are saying that they have extended wait times to sign up for the unlimited data plan, sometimes waiting for hours to speak to an customer services representative and in other instances being told the unlimited data plan no longer exists.

Ovunc Bardakcioglu, a reader who purchased an iPad before the June 7 deadline e-mailed the Bits blog yesterday to say an AT&T customer service representative didn't know how to sign him up for the data plan. The representative Mr. Bardakcioglu spoke with, he said, gave him a case number and "promised" to get back to him "at the end of the month."

Mark Jacob, another reader and new iPad 3G customer, said he was unable to get through to a phone representative. Mr. Jacobs said, "I am apparently on terminal hold, with some guitar riff playing in the background interrupted every 20 seconds or so by an 'all representatives are busy' message." He also said that after several efforts to talk to someone he was finally told by an AT&T employee that the "the unlimited data plan is not available."

AT&T says it is aware of the problems, but a spokeswoman could not say when they would be fixed. The company says it will honor the unlimited data plan for anyone who ordered an iPad by June 7.
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'Play Me, I'm Yours' piano project in New York

“It doesn’t matter if you’re a world-class virtuoso like Beethoven
 or a guy who took one year of lessons like Bloomberg, just sit down and
 let your fingers do the talking,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a 
statement about
New York:  "It doesn't matter if you're a world-class virtuoso like Beethoven or a guy who took one year of lessons like Bloomberg, just sit down and let your fingers do the talking," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a statement about "Play Me, I'm Yours" art project, in which 60 pianos have been placed throughout NY city for people to play for free.

New Yorkers of all ages now have the chance to make Billy Joel proud. Artwork by artist Luke Jerram, in the form of real pianos has been set up in the "Big Apple" from 21st June to July 5th.

The interested New Yorkers will find the pianos available in public parks, streets and plazas. Attendants will pull off the covers and unlock keyboards every day at 9 am at various locations including Lincoln Center, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Staten Island ferry terminal and Central Park's bandshell. The pianos will be cared for by "piano buddies," volunteers from community organizations, while they are installed in public plazas and parks.

Once the last tour has been completed, the pianos will be donated to local schools and community groups.
It's the latest public art display conjured up by the administration of Bloomberg, who in 2005 drew millions to a Central Park transformed by artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude into a maze of 7,500 saffron-colored banners called "The Gates."

In 2008 he helped Olafur Eliasson create "New York City Waterfalls," four cascades as high as 120 feet (37 meters) that adorned and illuminated New York harbor. 
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UK bans entry of Islamic scholar Zakir Naik

The British government’s decision to ban controversial Indian preacher Zakir Naik from entering the UK has triggered off protests amongst his supporters
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© AP Image
Two Dutch women, Barbara Castelein and Mirte Nieuwpoort, accused of "ambush marketing" at a World Cup match have had all charges against them dropped. They've been branded "Orange Agents" by the South African press, escorted from Soccer City stadium, and claim to have been interrogated for hours by football officials
The two appeared in a Johannesburg courtroom on Tuesday where a judge heard prosecutors were willing to end proceedings against the women who then had their passports returned to them.
A spokesman for South Africa's National Prosecution Authority ( NPA) said that a settlement had been reached between FIFA and the Dutch-owned Bavaria brewery who recruited the pair and 34 others to wear orange-coloured mini dresses at a World Cup match to promote their brand. The terms of the agreement were not revealed in open court.
Bavaria brewery paid for the women to come to South Africa and arranged for them to go to Holland's opening game against Denmark on June 15 at Soccer City stadium in Soweto. The two girls, and 34 of their most beautiful female friends, initially dressed as rival Denmark fans.
Midway through the first half they stripped off their Danish disguises, much to the delight of the crowd, revealing those eye-catching orange mini-dresses underneath.
The girls said they thought the stunt was a harmless piece of fun, and that they didn't expect such a fuss to be made. But FIFA didn't see the funny side.
FIFA officials had an issue with a small "Bavaria" tag on the side of the dresses, which they saw as infringing the rights of official partners and sponsors who paid millions of US dollars to advertise exclusively at World Cup venues. The dresses had been available at petrol stations in Holland, given free with packs of beer
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In what has been a topsy-turvy World Cup, some of Europe's traditional powers find themselves in a fight simply to advance to the knockout round.
In England's case, the issue if there's any fight left.
On the verge of a fantastic implosion, the Three Lions face a virtual must-win situation in Port Elizabeth against Group C leader Slovenia on Wednesday to avoid a humiliating exit.
With reigning champion Italy struggling, 2006 finalist France in chaos and Germany inconsistent, it appeared South Africa was a venue where England could finally add a second champion to the 1966 squad.
Some of that optimism, though, was blunted in a 1-1 draw with the United States thanks to goalkeeper Robert Green's gaffe. That worry gave way to all-out panic among Three Lions supporters following a dour scoreless tie versus Algeria on Friday in which England showed little flair offensively and left it in danger of group play elimination for the first time since 1958.
"If we want to stay in this tourney to the later stages we have to improve,'' England midfielder Steven Gerrard said. "We know the job we've got to go do, win the last game. You know to play at this level you've got to handle it, play under the pressure.''
That pressure has weighed heavily on star forward Wayne Rooney, who failed to get untracked in either match. The rigid managerial style of Fabio Capello, praised as the Three Lions rolled through qualifying in Europe, appears to have had the opposite effect here.
Yet for all the collective hand-wringing, all England needs to advance to the knockout round - and potentially win Group C - is a victory. England can also advance with a draw, but it would also need a tie in the Algeria-United States match and overcome a two-goal deficit to the Americans in goals scored.
Capello will have to make one change to his lineup since defensive midfielder Jamie Carragher is out after picking up two yellow cards.
Slovenia needs only a draw to advance to the round of 16 for the first time. After defeating Algeria, the Green Dragons hung on for a 2-2 tie versus the U.S. on Friday.
Valter Birsa and Zlatan Ljubijankic scored first-half goals for the Green Dragons, who then wilted under a second-half charge by the Americans and were fortunate to escape with a point after the U.S. had a goal disallowed in the 85th minute for a questionable foul on a free kick.
"It was a great match but it shouldn't have happened that we made such dumb mistakes in the second half," coach Matjaz Kek said. "We gained a point today and we are in a very good position."
Striker Necj Pecnik, who appeared as a reserve in the first two matches, suffered a broken ankle and is out for the tournament.
The Green Dragons would be eliminated with a loss and a victory by the U.S. or a two-goal triumph by Algeria.
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POLOKWANE, South Africa(AP) Look out, world. Even playing mostly backups Argentina looks good.
© AP
Martin Demichelis and Martin Palermo scored second-half goals Tuesday as Argentina beat Greece 2-0 at the World Cup to win Group B.
Coach Diego Maradona replaced seven starters from the Albiceleste lineup that ran up a 4-1 victory over South Korea - the other team to make it out of the group - but it didn't matter much. Argentina still won its third straight game.
``We're showing ourselves that many of the things you (journalists) said were wrong,'' Maradona said, referring to predictions that his team, which struggled in South American qualifying, would do the same in South Africa.
© AP
``The players leave everything they have on the pitch, they're 100 percent professionals and they make the people happy.''
Captain Javier Mascherano and strikers Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain were all among those given the night off. That gave player of the year Lionel Messi the chance to wear the captain's armband for the first time. Turning 23 on Thursday, he's the youngest captain ever for the two-time world champions.
Midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron returned after missing the previous game with a right-calf injury.
Demichelis scored from short range in the 77th minute after his header bounced off Diego Milito and back into his path. Palermo's came in the 89th from a rebound after Greece goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas had saved a shot by Lionel Messi.
``This is an incredible sensation,'' Palermo said. ``I have no words to describe the feeling I had on the pitch.''
Just minutes earlier, Messi's hard, left-footed shot hit the near post.
Although their game was somewhat less fluid than in previous matches, Argentina dominated the match at 45,000-capacity Peter Mokaba Stadium, where their fans clearly outnumbered Greek supporters.
``A well-deserved victory, no doubt about that,'' Greece coach Otto Rehhagel said. ``We wanted to avoid an early goal, we managed to do that, but of course Argentina has more class and that earned them the win.''
Rehhagel said his team ``played with their hearts and with excitement. But it was just not enough to cause Argentina much troubles.''
Greece was eliminated from the World Cup with the loss. Nigeria, which tied South Korea 2-2, also was knocked out.
Argentina initially preferred to keep possession instead of pushing to create chances.
The first shot on goal came in the 18th minute when Sergio Aguero picked up a pass by Veron and dribbled past two Greece defenders before his left-foot shot forced Tzorvas into a diving save. A minute later, Tzorvas pushed the ball over the crossbar after a 30-yard attempt by Veron.
And, in the end, Argentina outshot Greece 22-7.
``Now the road gets more difficult,'' Maradona said. Next up is Mexico on Sunday at Johannesburg's Soccer City in the round of 16.
``Mexico is not going to be easy - very difficult opponent.''
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Tuesday, June 22, 2010


© AP Image
JOHANNESBURG — France exited in disgrace from the World Cup on Tuesday with no victories and little sympathy for a team that infamously used an intentional handball to get into the tournament and self-destructed on the way out.

The French team's petulant image did not gain much redemption in its final match, a 2-1 defeat to host South Africa in Bloemfontein, south of here. Les Bleus, as the French team is known, played the final 65-plus minutes a man short after midfielder Yoann Gourcuff was ejected for elbowing an opponent in the head.

Afterward, the eccentric and departing French coach, Raymond Domenech, declined to shake hands with his South African counterpart, Carlos Alberto Parreira. Apparently, Parreira said, the snub was related to his criticism of the way France had qualified for the World Cup: the illegal handling of the ball by Thierry Henry, which was unseen by the referee and led to the decisive goal in a playoff victory against Ireland in November.

Tuesday's defeat completed a stunning implosion for France, which was the 1998 World Cup champion and 2006 runner-up but lost two of its matches here and tied in the other. On Thursday the star forward Nicolas Anelka profanely insulted Domenech at halftime of a loss to Mexico, then was expelled from the team. In protest, France's players skipped practice Sunday, drawing widespread criticism from French politicians and in the news media.

Domenech declined to answer questions Tuesday about the snub of Parreira or his team's crisis, in keeping with a sometimes inscrutable personality that has led him to choose or discard some players based in part on their astrological signs.

"We are not from the same world," Domenech, 58, told reporters, referring to the team and its crisis.

France's final World Cup match was played hours after its sports minister, Roselyne Bachelot, said she reduced some players to tears during a rebuke of the team Monday night. During that meeting, Bachelot said, she accused the players of tarnishing France's image and called their behavior a "moral disaster."

Philippe Tétart, a French sports historian, said that France's players had acted like spoiled celebrities instead of potential champions, creating damage beyond the team's image.

"It created a social injury," Tétart said. "The positive hero figure has been dethroned. The players have ruined the image of responsible sporting personalities, who set an example."

While watching Tuesday's match in Paris on a large screen near the Eiffel Tower, some French fans booed their team in disgust, The Associated Press reported.

Outside of Paris, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Romain Souverain, 30, a logistics worker, said, "We didn't deserve to qualify, so we didn't deserve to win."

Other fans there criticized France's uninspired, individualist, directionless play at the World Cup, which produced one goal in three matches.

"We've hit rock bottom," said Vincent Colin, 32, who runs a company that makes custom shirts.

Not everyone, though, will be sad to see France depart early. Many may view its exit as just punishment, given the way the French qualified for the World Cup. "The Irish are probably happy tonight," said Boudewijn Zenden, a Dutch soccer player who is a television commentator for the tournament.

Even before Tuesday's match, some corporate sponsors, including the Crédit Agricole financial services company, had begun to disassociate themselves from the French team, canceling advertising campaigns.

Le Parisien, a French newspaper, wrote scathingly: "To have the worst soccer team at the World Cup was almost unbearable. To also have the most stupid is intolerable."

As they took the field against South Africa, France's players were fully aware that they faced widespread contempt.

"Everyone in the world is laughing at us," the star forward Franck Ribéry said beforehand.

In truth, France's team has been troubled since it won the 1998 World Cup at home, drawing a million fans in celebration on the Champs-Élysées in what was said to be the largest gathering in Paris since the liberation of the city during World War II.

That 1998 victory, achieved by players of remarkable ethnic diversity, was viewed as a refutation of the anti-immigrant stand of the far-right National Front party, which had gained popularity at the time.

Four years later, France lost its opening match in the 2002 World Cup to Senegal, a former colony, and exited from the tournament without winning a match or scoring a goal. In 2006, France reached the final, but its star player, Zinédine Zidane, head-butted an Italian player in the championship game, resulting in an expulsion that might have cost his team victory.

The current team showed signs of dysfunction long before this World Cup began. In April, three players — Ribéry, Sidney Govou and Karim Benzema — were accused of having sex with an under-age prostitute. The case did not result in criminal charges but brought a harsh penalty in the court of public opinion.

Even the choice of a posh team hotel for the World Cup came under scrutiny by France's junior sports minister, Rama Yade, who called on Les Bleus "to show some decency" during the global economic downturn.

Whatever authority Domenech had as a coach seemed undermined by the French soccer federation. It announced before the tournament that at its conclusion, Domenech would be replaced by Laurent Blanc, a star on France's 1998 team.

Not that the aloof Domenech was popular in the first place. He was often booed at matches by French fans and drew the ire of many by proposing to his girlfriend on television moments after France was eliminated early in the 2008 European championships.

"There's a Raymond problem, a problem of personality," Michel Platini, a former French soccer star who is now the president of the Union of European Soccer Federations, known as UEFA, told reporters in April. "His proposal hurt the whole of France. People were in pain, sad, and here he comes with his words."

But there seemed to be plenty of blame to go around for France's catastrophic World Cup performance. Domenech called his players' revolt "unspeakably stupid." Some opposition politicians said the players' behavior represented the selfishness fostered by the governance of President Nicolas Sarkozy, who had been called President Bling Bling for his flashy style.

"It's all about individualism, egotism, everyone for themselves, and the only way to judge human success is the check you get at the end of the month," Jérôme Cahuzac, a Socialist Party member of France's National Assembly, said in a radio interview, according to Reuters.

No one on the team refused to play Tuesday, Domenech said, but he made a handful of changes to his lineup, even benching the captain, Patrice Evra.

"It's time for us to apologize," Evra told reporters after the match, adding that he had tried to do it earlier, "but the coach would not let me.
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Nikki Haley is winner in South Carolina runoff

Haley won the Republican nomination for governor of South Carolina on 
Tuesday, a commanding victory that elevates her to become one of the 
leading faces of the national Republican Party and places her within one
 step of being elected this fall as the state's first female governor. 
She would also become the first member of a racial minority to be 
governor of South Carolina overcoming allegations about infidelity in 
her marriage, ethnic slurs and questions about her religious 
Washington:  Nikki Haley won the Republican nomination for governor of South Carolina on Tuesday, a commanding victory that elevates her to become one of the leading faces of the national Republican Party and places her within one step of being elected this fall as the state's first female governor.

Representative Bob Inglis, a six-term Republican from South Carolina, was defeated in a runoff election. He became the fifth incumbent congressman or senator to be turned out of office in the latest round of primaries that have upended the midterm election year.

Republicans also nominated Tim Scott in his bid to become South Carolina's first black Republican member of Congress in more than a century. He handily defeated Paul Thurmond, son of the late Senator Strom Thurmond, for the right to represent a district that includes the historic site of Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired. He is poised to become the first black Republican in Congress since J.C. Watts of Oklahoma retired seven years ago.

Voters in North Carolina, Mississippi and Utah also selected their nominees on Tuesday in races for the House, Senate and a variety of local offices. The results amplified the anti-establishment, anti-incumbency mood that has shaken Republicans and Democrats alike and altered the landscape for both parties
In North Carolina, Elaine Marshall won the Democratic nomination to challenge Senator Richard Burr, a Republican, in November. Ms. Marshall, the secretary of state, defeated Cal Cunningham, a former Army prosecutor, whose candidacy was supported by Democratic leaders in Washington.

For all the unexpected turns of this midterm election cycle, few campaigns have produced as much drama as the Republican governor's race in South Carolina. With nearly all precincts reporting, Ms. Haley led Representative Gresham Barrett, a four-term congressman, 65 percent to 35 percent.

Ms. Haley, a first-generation American of Indian descent, would also become the first member of a racial minority to be governor of South Carolina. She overcame allegations about infidelity in her marriage, ethnic slurs and questions about her religious background.

"This is a really great night because South Carolina just showed the rest of the country what we're made of," Ms. Haley said, delivering a victory speech to supporters in Columbia, S.C.

Ms. Haley, 38, rose in the polls by promising to break an entrenched network that has dominated state politics for decades. She portrayed the unsubstantiated charges of sexual affairs as retaliation for taking on special interests.

In the general election, Ms. Haley faces the Democratic nominee, Vincent Sheheen, who won his primary on June 8. Republican candidates in South Carolina hold a considerable advantage in the general election, and even Democratic leaders in the state concede that something unforeseen would have to unfold for Ms. Haley not to win in November.

The two are competing to succeed Gov. Mark Sanford, a Republican, who confessed to having an extramarital affair with an Argentine woman last year and is barred by term limits from seeking re-election.

Last month, Ms. Haley took a dramatic leap in the polls after endorsements and campaign visits from Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor, and Jenny Sanford, the popular former first lady. She had trailed far behind her three Republican rivals in fund-raising and visibility, but she was strongly embraced by Republican leaders in Washington and touted as one of the party's next leaders.

"Nikki Haley's historic victory in South Carolina is a testament to her hard work, perseverance and determination," said Nick Ayers, executive director of the Republican Governors Association.   "Her success ushers in a new era of South Carolina politics and represents a growing new generation of Republican leaders from across the country."

The new era also expanded to primary contests for Congress.

Mr. Scott, the owner of an insurance business in Charleston who became the first black Republican in the South Carolina Legislature two years ago, defeated Mr. Thurmond by 30 percentage points on Tuesday. Mr. Thurmond, who carried one of the most famous names in South Carolina politics, but it was Mr. Scott who earned the endorsement from many Republican leaders outside the state.

Mr. Inglis, who became the latest incumbent to lose his primary election, was easily defeated by Trey Gowdy, a prosecutor. Mr. Gowdy had criticized Mr. Inglis, among other things, for his vote to support a bailout of the banking industry in 2008. With all of the precincts counted, Mr. Gowdy won by 40 percentage points. 
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Who is General McChrystal?

his boss, mentor and friend, Gen. David H. Petraeus, Gen. Stanley A. 
McChrystal modeled himself as one of a new breed of American commanders:
 intellectual, open with the press and as politically savvy as the 
elected officials he was hired to serve. In that respect, the two 
four-star generals — Petraeus in Iraq, McChrystal in Afghanistan — 
personified the modern conviction that America’s commanders had to sell 
their strategies as much as prosecute them.
Kabul:  Like his boss, mentor and friend, Gen. David H. Petraeus, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal modeled himself as one of a new breed of American commanders: intellectual, open with the press and as politically savvy as the elected officials he was hired to serve.

In that respect, the two four-star generals -- Petraeus in Iraq, McChrystal in Afghanistan -- personified the modern conviction that America's commanders had to sell their strategies as much as prosecute them.

And so they did. General Petraeus became the public face of President George W. Bush's counteroffensive in Iraq in 2007, while General McChrystal, in trying to salvage the war in Afghanistan, threw open his headquarters to the press and the public in a way unimaginable to a generation of generals before him.

But with a handful of intemperate remarks by him and his aides to a magazine writer, General McChrystal demonstrated the perils of letting the public see too much of its commanders at war -- and of his own shortfalls as the manager of his public image.
General McChrystal, a gaunt, driven 55-year-old, seemed an unlikely candidate when President Obama appointed him the commanding general of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan almost a year ago to the day.

Although America's post-Sept. 11 wars have created a number of famous generals, like General Petraeus, General McChrystal spent much of his career in the Army's cloak-and-dagger special operations units.

For five years, from the early months of the Iraq war until the troop increase ended in 2008, General McChrystal ran the Joint Special Operations Command, the armed service's most secretive branch of commandos. His job was to kill terrorists, and stay quiet about it.

On arriving in Afghanistan, General McChrystal adopted a policy of accessibility especially remarkable for a man whose career was steeped in secrecy, inviting reporters to join him in classified briefings and on trips around the country.

Like General Petraeus, who has a Ph.D. from Princeton, General McChrystal, a fellow at both Harvard University and the Council on Foreign Relations, he brought a formidable intellect to the elusive complexities of Afghan tribal and ethnic politics. And he labored to explain the rationale -- through the press to a public increasingly weary of war and skeptical of the effort in Afghanistan -- behind his strategy based on counterinsurgency.

He emphasized the need to win over the Afghan public and focus the fighting on the Taliban heartland in the south. He withdrew troops from peripheral areas and publicly announced military operations well before they began.

"In the Army in particular, there has developed a sophisticated understanding of civil-military relations," said Richard H. Kohn, a history professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. "I think more and more senior officers have grown up recognizing the importance of having to communicate to the American people through the American media."

Indeed, like that of General Petraeus before him, General McChrystal's public-friendly style was linked directly to the prospects of success in the field. In Iraq, General Petraeus saved the American project from catastrophe less by killing insurgents than by embracing and protecting the Iraqi public.

General McChrystal tried to do the same, telling his troops wherever he went that killing Taliban insurgents carried costs, often in the form of dead civilians, that seldom justified using overwhelming force.

He issued directives ordering his troops to drive their tanks and Humvees with courtesy, and he made it more difficult to call in airstrikes to kill insurgents because they risked civilian casualties. When his troops killed women and children, General McChrystal often apologized directly to President Hamid Karzai and to the Afghan people.

But in making derisive remarks about members of the Obama administration to Michael Hastings of Rolling Stone, General McChrystal went well past acceptable candor and into the realm of political hazard.

Exactly why he and his officers chose to let fly in such uncontrolled fashion in front of a reporter is hard to know. It is possible that they had become so accustomed to having reporters around that they forgot one of them was there.

And that, perhaps, is a measure of the difference between General McChrystal and his mentor. It is impossible to imagine General Petraeus uttering the same things or letting down his guard to do so. For if there is one rule by the which the new breed of generals live, it is that candor is good, but not too much. 
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