Monday, January 31, 2011

My prayers are with Egypt: Celina Jaitly

Celina JaitlyMore Pics
Celina Jaitly is in a state of shock. The actress who also happens to be the brand ambassador of Egypt, tells Renuka Vyavahare, her take on the ongoing crisis and mayhem that has gripped the country.

You are the brand ambassador of Egypt. What's your take on the current crisis and lawlessness in Egypt?
The winds of change are blowing through Egypt. Whatever happens next will impact Egypt and its people in a big way. My prayers are that whatever the outcome should be of a positive nature. My only fear is that extremist elements in Egypt might manipulate the current situation for nefarious ends. My hope and wish is, whatever change follows the protests, should be of positive nature. The change should avert violence and radicalization which will enable Egypt to grow to its full potential.

What is plan of action regarding the situation and the Indians that have been stuck in Egypt.
I would advise Indians stranded in Egypt to avoid venturing outdoors within Egypt unless it's extremely essential. They should stay put within their residences/hotels and keep in touch with the Indian embassy there.

Last, you've been fond of Egypt for long, did you ever see these protests coming!
I was there until last month! In fact I spent an entire month there until 15th December 2010 for a shoot. Everything was perfectly normal and Egypt was as beautiful as ever. I attended the Cairo film festival as jury for 12 days and shot for approximately a week for an ad campaign all over Cairo without any untoward incident whatsoever.

How important is Egypt is for India?
Modern Egypt-India relations go back to the contacts between Saad Zaghloul and Mohandas Gandhi on the common goals of their respective movements of independence.

Most importantly Egypt has played a crucial role as a key ally of India in rebuilding peace in the Middle East and resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Which in turn supports india's policy of promoting peace.

Egypt and India also share good trade relations Major Egyptian exports to India include raw cotton, raw and manufactured fertilizers, oil and oil products, organic and non-organic chemicals, leather and iron products. Major imports into Egypt from India are cotton yarn, sesame, coffee, herbs, tobacco, lentils, pharmaceutical products and transport equipment. The Egyptian Ministry of Petroleum is also currently negotiating the establishment of a natural gas-operated fertilizer plant with another Indian company. In 2004 the Gas Authority of India Limited, bought 15% of Egypt Nat Gas distribution and marketing company.

In 2008 Egyptian investment in India was worth some 750 million dollars, according to the Egyptian ambassador.
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Unsold at auction, Ganguly may get a lifeline for IPL 4

After remaining unsold at the 2011 IPL auction, Sourav Ganguly might finally get to play after all in the fourth edition of the Twenty20 event.
The former India captain got a lifeline ahead of the February 4 IPL governing council meeting after the BCCI’s letter to the franchises asking them to give their views on a few players who went unsold at the auction. According to sources, the letter specifically mentioned Ganguly’s name, along with Wasim Jaffer and VRV Singh. The franchises can buy them at their base price, which is $200,000 in Ganguly’s case.
“We have received a request that franchises — subject to them having enough balance on the salary cap to pay at least the reserve price of the relevant player — have the opportunity to sign unsold Indian players from the auction.
“The auction regulations are clear that players not taken in the auction could only play in IPL 2011 as replacement players.
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Bring home the World Cup Sachin

New Delhi: Sir Don Bradman finished with a career average of 99.94 in Test cricket, distanced from that magical triple-figure average by a second-ball naught in his last innings at The Oval in 1948. Sixty-three years later, Sir Don's mirror image - as confessed by the magician himself - will try to cap a run-loaded career with a World Cup trophy and 100 international hundreds.
Indian batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar, who has shouldered the expectations of billions throughout his envious career and has been part of every World Cup since 1992, will once again have a crack at adding the elusive trophy to his shimmering cabinet.
The gentle assassin came lose to winning it for India in 1996 (losing semifinalist to Sri Lanka) and 2003 (losing finalist to Australia) but failed to finish on the right side despite being the leading scorer of the tournament with 523 runs in 1996 and 673 in 2003.
Though he is on the verge of completing a never-thought-of 100 international hundreds (51 in Tests and 46 in ODIs currently), the World Cup trophy continues to elude him but could coincide with this record to cap off a career overflowing with 17,629 runs in 444 ODIs, 14,692 in 171 Tests and 10 in the only T20 international he played before deciding to give youngsters a chance to don India colours in cricket's newest avatar.
Team India is undoubtedly loaded with match-winners with the bat but Sachin's new-found, child-like hunger for runs makes the diminutive run-machine the fire that continues to power India and will undoubtedly be central to India's chances of lifting the cup after a hiatus of 28 years.
Sachin's run-scoring never ceased, other than due to the back injury and tennis elbow that brought some relief to the bowlers world over as it either kept him away from cricket or seriously restricted his run-making prowess.
But the man returned to register every conceivable batting record to his name, making critics look foolhardy for the comments they made while the little master was recuperating.
Sachin, though, will himself admit that while he kept knocking off records, his dream of winning India the World Cup only grew stronger. The nine-month break he took after his record-breaking 200 not out in an ODI against South Africa couldn't have been for anything but to keep himself fresh for the World Cup that is now knocking on his door.
The Mumbaikar returned in the ODI series against South Africa in the rainbow nation but almost gave a heart attack to his billions of fans when he returned in the middle of the series with a hamstring injury.
But all is well now with India's main hope, who has amassed 1,796 runs in 36 World Cup matches, punctuated by four centuries. And with the 2011 edition happening on home soil, fours and sixes are expected to flow with consummate ease.
While nobody wants to believe that Sachin's record-equalling sixth World Cup is probably going to be his last one as well, the batting legend will know that this indeed is his last chance to quench India's thirst of a second World Cup triumph after winning it in 1983 and missing narrowly in 2003.
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Two sisters shot dead by Lashkar militants in North Kashmir

Srinagar, (NI24) Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militantstonight shot dead two sisters after dragging them out of theirhouse in Sopore town of North Kashmir''s Baramulla district,the first major strike targeting civilians this year.

Arifa and Akhtar, daughters of Ghulam Nabi Dar, weregunned down by three militants, including a Pakistani, ataround 10 PM at Muslim Peer in Sopore town, 52 kms from here,Superintendent of Police Sopore Altaf Ahmad told PTI.

According to preliminary investigations, the threeLashkar militants barged into the house and forcibly took thegirls, aged between 16 to 18 years, police said.

"The girls were later shot dead by the militants nearthe Ziarat (shrine) Rahim Sahib. One of them was shot in theleft eye," Ahmad said, adding their bodies were found neartheir house.

It could not be immediately ascertained why themilitants had targeted the sisters.

The police officer said the local militants involvedin the killing have been identified as Wasim Ganaie andMuzaffar Naikoo. Both the ultras are among ''A'' categorymilitants and carry a cash reward on their heads.

This was the first incident of civilian killings bymilitants in the Kashmir Valley this year.
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Can't cancel 2G licences over CAG report: SC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it cannot cancel the 2G liscences on the basis of CAG report.
The apex court adjourned the hearing on the matter till March 1 after giving the remark that any decision taken by the government on the issue will be subject to the outcome of the petitions pending before it.The remark has been given by a Supreme Court bench, comprised of Justice GS Singhvi and Justice AK Ganguly, on the plea by an NGO - Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL).
The NGO has sought a direction from the Supreme Court for restraining the Government from regularising the licences of the telecom companies which failed to meet the roll-out obligations.
Giving its remark on NGO counsel Prashant Bhushan's concern that the Government was regularising the licences of the companies by imposing penalties on the companies, the bench further said, "If the licences are going to be cancelled, it cannot be cancelled only on the basis of the CAG report".
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Sushma Swaraj will not file affidavit in Supreme Court on CVC issue

New Delhi, With home minister P Chidambaram stating that the Palmolein case against PJ Thomas was discussed by the CVC selection panel, senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj today said she would not file an affidavit on the issue in the Supreme Court as there was "no dispute on facts now".
"The home minister has now admitted that I had raised the Palmolein case in the meeting and recorded my disagreement precisely for this reason," Swaraj, the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, who was on the selection panel, said on Twitter.
Attorney general GE Vahanavati had stated in the Supreme Court last week that the panel for CVC, comprising the prime minister, home minister and Leader of Opposition, had not been apprised of the case against Thomas.
This has prompted Swaraj to say that she will file an affidavit in the matter as the government was "misleading" the apex court.
Swaraj today maintained that after the home ninister's statement, there was no need to file an affidavit.
"Now there is no dispute on facts. Therefore, there is no need for my affidavit," she said.
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UP: ITBP aspirants go on rampage, torch vehicles

Newly recruited cadets of first all women contingent of ITBP are taking part in passing out parade. A file photo: Akhilesh KumarBareilly: Tension broke out in Bukhara village on Tuesday when thousands of ITBP aspirants went on a rampage, torched a number of vehicles and pelted stones after they failed to submit their forms due to alleged mismanagement by the authorities.
Thousand of youths, who had gathered at the ITBP Bukhara camp to submit their recruitment forms and obtain a token for physical test, failed to get their forms deposited, sources said here.

Soon after that, they went on a rampage and torched seven buses including five of roadways, a petrol pump and a number of two-wheelers and indulged in brick batting, they said.

The agitating youths also pelted stones on AIR and Doordarshan offices there. 
District Magistrate Anil Garg said the incident took place as there were a number of aspirants and the arrangement to deposit them was "improper".

"I have talked to ITBP officials to get the forms submitted through post to avoid such incidents", Garg, who reached the spot, said.

Senior officials of the administration and police have reached the spot and are trying to control the situation.

The aspirants had last night clashed with farmers over plucking of sugarcane from their fields.

After the farmers objected to their behaviour, the aspirants torched the cane fields following which the farmers opened fire at them.
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Leakage of Tata-Radia tapes being probed: Govt tells SC

New Delhi,Government on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that it was taking seriously the issue of leakage of conversation between Tata chief Ratan Tata and corporate lobbyist Niira Radia and that an inquiry has been ordered into it. "The government views the disclosure of such information seriously and inthis context, an inquiry has been ordered," an affidavit filed by the government said.
It also denied the allegation of Tata that it had adopted a lackadaisical attitude on a petition filed by Tata.
"I deny that the government has adopted a lackadaisical attitude or that it was standing by and allowing leaked material of this kind to be freely distributed and published," the two-page affidavit filed by Additional Director of Income Tax (Investigations) said.
The affidavit said that by an office memorandum issued on December 27, 2010, the Ministry of Finance appointed two senior officers to inquire into the leakage of "classified documents/telephonic intercepts".
"The terms of reference of the inquiry committee are detailed and comprehensive and reflect the concern of the Ministry of Finance to properly investigate the matter and to take a comprehensive view of the subject," it said.
The government said it is not correct on the part of Tata to allege that it is its perception that the leakage of such material and its consequential publication were not a matter of concern.
"It is not suggested by the government that it is under no duty to ensure that the wire tapped material is not leaked," the affidavit said.

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'March of a million' in Egypt, army says won't use force

Protesters hold placards with defaced pictures of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during a demonstration in Tahrir square in Cairo on Sunday. The placards read in Arabic: ' Down Agent Mubarak '.
CAIRO: Preparations began Tuesday for the million people march in the Egyptian capital to oust President Hosni Mubarak as the army said that they will not "use force against the Egyptian people". Another million-strong march is being planned at the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria.

The fierce protests against Mubarak entered the eighth day Tuesday, with defiant demonstrators determined to end the octogenarian's 30-year rule.

The protests received a shot in the arm when the army said "freedom of expression" was guaranteed to all citizens using peaceful means.

"To the great people of Egypt, your armed forces, acknowledging the legitimate rights of the people" stress that "they have not and will not use force against the Egyptian people," said an army statement, reported Al Jazeera.

The statement came just a day before the march of the million people was to take place.

The media report said that another million-strong march was planned in Alexandria, as national train services were cancelled.

In a desperate attempt to tackle the situation, the Egyptian president has asked the newly appointed vice president to hold talks with the opposition.

Vice President Omar Suleiman said Monday that President Mubarak had appointed him to hold immediate dialogue with the opposition, Xinhua reported.

According to Suleiman, the president highlighted the importance of executing court's orders to correct the last year's parliamentary elections results.

Suleiman said there would even be a review of some disputed seats in parliament, from last November's election. The ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) swept the election, amid accusations of widespread fraud.

Suleiman, a former intelligence chief, was appointed as Egypt's vice president Friday in response to the massive protests that broke out in various cities last week.

However, protesters refused to accept Mubarak's new cabinet and decided to scale up their uprising.

At least 150 people have died so far in violence linked to the unrest.

DPA reported that tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Tahrir Square until the early hours of Tuesday said they would not relent until President Mubarak stepped down and the country was put on the path towards serious economic and democratic reforms.

Officials and media reports said the government was planning to shut down the country's mobile networks ahead of Tuesday's "march of a million". It would be the second time since Friday that Egypt's government would have taken such a move.

Internet has been down across the country since late Thursday. Internet monitor Renesys said another Egyptian internet service provider, Noor Group, appeared to have been taken down.

In response, Google said it would offer demonstrators a means of sending tweets to Twitter by calling a telephone number, where their words would be automatically converted into text.

In Tahrir Square, the vice president's statement was seen as a concession to the opposition, after they earlier derided the new cabinet as one mostly filled with loyalists and former ministers.

"We will spend as many nights here as it takes to get the snake out," chanted the demonstrators in Tahrir Square, referring to Mubarak.

The European Union issued a statement, supporting "free and fair elections" in Egypt, following a similar message the day before from Cairo's main ally, the US - upping the international pressure on the embattled Mubarak, DPA reported.

Unrest was also widespread
in other remote regions across the vast and mostly poor country of 80 million people, almost half below the age of 35. The protests are the largest in a generation.

Egypt's economy was suffering with its bonds being downgraded. The country's stock market and banks were also to remain closed.

The port in Alexandria was also closed, according to traders. But the Suez Canal, vital for international trade, remained functional.
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India remains “vulnerable”, new terror groups raising heads, says Chidambaram


A file picture of Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram. Photo: V. Sudershan
NewDelhi,Feb 01 2011:
Underlining that India remains “vulnerable” to terrorism, Home Minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday said new groups are suspected to be behind some terror attacks that took place in recent years.
“I must caution you that there is no let up in the attempts to infiltrate into India from across the India- Pakistan border. Besides, there are a number of modules operating within the country and new groups have raised their heads that are suspected to be behind some terrorist attacks that took place in recent years,” he said in his address at the ‘Meeting of Chief Ministers on Internal Security’ in New Delhi.
The Minister said, “We cannot shy away from naming these groups or exposing their designs. Whatever their religious affiliations, I have no hesitation in condemning every group that resorts to terror as a means of advancing dubious religious causes or fundamentalist goals.
“Our policy in this regard is clear - every terrorist and every terrorist group will be pursued and brought before the law and punished,” he said.
Mr. Chidambaram, however, did not name any of the groups that were suspected to be behind some of the terrorists attacks in the last few years.
He said, “The evidence that the NIA and CBI are discovering every day should serve as a wake-up call to the new sources of terror that threaten our security.”
Referring to Naxalism, the Home Minister said, “Looking back at 2010, my assessment is that there is a kind of a stalemate. The State governments concerned cannot claim any major advance, nor should we conclude that the CPI (Maoist) has gained the upper hand. There have been casualties on both sides.”
Security forces had received some serious setbacks last year including the loss of 75 CRPF personnel in one single ambush undertaken by the Naxals in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh.
The Minister said the CPI (Maoist) remains a powerful and determined adversary and has added at least four companies to the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA), the armed wing of the Naxals.
Taking an apparent dig at civil society activists, Mr. Chidambaram said in 2010, left-wing extremists killed 718 civilians of which 323 were killed after branding them as ’police informers’.
“Unlike our security forces, the Naxalite cadres are not constrained by the rule of law or rules of conflict. In areas they dominate they act as judge, jury and executioner.
“I regret that no representative of civil society has called for an inquiry into the brutal and unlawful killing of civilians and other acts of depredation committed by the CPI (Maoist),” he said.
Mr. Chidambaram said, “The Government’s offer of talks remains valid on the condition that the CPI (Maoist) abjured violence.”
Talking about other issues, the Home Minister said Jammu and Kashmir presents a “unique challenge”. He said the situation was improving until the beginning of June 2010.
“The three-month period of agitation was an unfortunate and deeply regrettable chapter. However, after the visit of the all-party parliamentary delegation and the appointment of interlocutors, there has been a significant improvement.”
He said the interlocutors have been able to change the discourse. “We have tasked them to outline the contours of a political solution based on the suggestions received by them.
My earnest appeal is that nothing should be said or done that will destroy the fragile peace or derail the process of finding a political solution.”
On the issue of insurgency in northeast, the Home Minister said it gave him “great satisfaction” to report that there had been a dramatic change in the situation there.
He said 2010 witnessed the lowest level of violence in many years. “Barring Assam and Manipur, the other States have shown remarkable improvement.”
The Home Minister also said he is happy to report that the internal security situation in the country has vastly improved during the last two years.
In 2010, there was one major incident in Pune on February 13. There was another incident in Varanasi on December 7 last year that “caused, thankfully little damage,” he said.
Mr. Chidambaram said in both cases, specific intelligence was given to the two State governments. He said it would be unrealistic to expect that intelligence could be any more specific than what was gathered and shared in the two cases.
“I am sure you will agree with me that the two incidents of terror in a period of 26 months mark a significant improvement in the situation,” he said.
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Amnesty misfires as banned SIMI's 'extremists' walk free

Bhopal A routine practice of releasing prisoners on Republic Day, in accordance with norms set a decade ago, has blown up into an embarrassment for the Madhya Pradesh government, led by BJP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, after five activists of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) were released on January 26.
With the Bajrang Dal now demanding an inquiry and threatening street protests, the Ujjain police on Sunday called a few of the activists to Bhairavgarh police station, and subjected them to 12 hours of questioning.
It is not possible under the law to put the released activists back into jail, as is being demanded by the Bajrang Dal. Even their questioning was against the rules. The state Jail Department has now set up a committee to take a fresh look at the rules to broaden their scope.
Every January 26 and August 15, Madhya Pradesh releases prisoners who have served at least half of their terms and demonstrated good conduct in prison. On January 26, acting on a government circular, the administration of Khachrod sub-jail in Ujjain district released Jadil Parwaj, Aiyaz Riyaz Ahmed, Akbar Afzal Khan, Mehruddin Shaikh and Irshad Ali. The five men were convicted as recently as January 12 for “anti-national activities” by an Additional Sessions Judge who sentenced them to terms of between one year and five years, to run concurrently.
The men have, however, been in custody since March 31, 2008, when the Unhel police arrested them after “anti-national literature” and weapons were allegedly found on them. On January 26, they had spent over 33 months in jail, and were eligible for release.
This is probably the first time that SIMI activists have been released in this manner in Madhya Pradesh. DG (Jail) V K Pawar, however, told The Indian Express that there was no question of re-arresting the five men. The state legal department vets the government circular before it is sent to jails ahead of January 26 and August 15 every year, he said.
Ujjain SP Satish Saxena said two released SIMI activists were put through “routine” questioning on Sunday. They were asked where they would live henceforth, and what they would do for a living. The police also collected information on their visitors during their time in jail. The police would continue to monitor their activities, Saxena said.
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Egypt revolt helps create Islamic Middle East: Iran

Mideast Egypt ProtestTEHRAN: Iran said on Tuesday the uprising in Egypt will help create an Islamic Middle East but accused US officials of interfering in the "freedom seeking" movement which has rocked the Arab nation.

"With the knowledge that I have of the great revolutionary and history making people of Egypt, I am sure they will play their role in creating an Islamic Middle East for all freedom, justice and independence seekers," Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted as saying on state television's website.

Salehi, who was officially endorsed by the Iranian parliament on Sunday as foreign minister, said the uprising in Egypt "showed the need for a change in the region and the end of unpopular regimes."

"The people of Tunisia and Egypt prove that the time of controlling regimes by world arrogance (the West) has ended and people are trying to have their own self-determination," said Salehi, who also oversees Iran's controversial nuclear programme.

"Unfortunately we are witnessing the direct interference .... of some American officials in the developments in Egypt," he said, and added the Egyptians were showing "they are no longer ready to stand idle in face of crimes by the Zionist regime."

In the initial days of the Tunisian uprising, Iran had said it was "worried" about the events in that country.

"We are worried about the situation in Tunisia...We hope the Muslim Tunisian nation's demands are fulfilled through peaceful and non-violent means," the foreign ministry had said on January 16.

On Tuesday, Salehi said Iran will offer its support to the protesters in Egypt.

"On our part we are going along with the freedom seekers of the world and support the uprising of the great nation of Egypt. We sympathise with those injured and killed" in the protests, he said.

Egypt has been rocked by deadly protests for more than a week and on Tuesday Egyptians planned mass marches in their campaign to oust the embattled President Hosni Mubarak .

Washington, a key ally of Cairo , has urged Mubarak to do more to defuse the crisis, with President Barack Obama calling for "an orderly transition to a government that is responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people."

Iran itself was rocked by similar protests against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after he was re-elected in June 2009.

Dozens of Iranian protesters who took to Tehran streets were killed in clashes with security forces and militiamen who cracked down on them in a bid to quell what was one of the worst crises in the Islamic republic since the 1979 revolution which toppled the US-backed shah.
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India can eradicate Polio by 2013--Bill Gates

With the country recording lowest number of polio cases in 2010, there is renewed sense of optimism to completely eradicate it.Bill Gates, chairman and co-founder of Microsoft Corp., contributes $200 million a year towards the cause of eradicating polio through Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The tech giant-turned-philanthropist is hopeful that India could eradicate the crippling, potentially deadly virus by 2013.
He hopes to stop the spread of polio, and make it the first infectious disease to be obliterated from the face of the earth since smallpox, which was wiped out in 1979.
In spite of the impressive gains made about the eradication of polio, “the last 1 percent remains a true danger,” he said.
About Poliovirus
Poliovirus is a human enterovirus composed of single stranded RNA genome and protein capsid.
The viral infection is asymptomatic, that is, people who are infected show almost no signs of the infection, and hence it is difficult to detect. This also makes it easy to transmit to others.
In another development, Oliver Rosenbauer, a WHO spokesman in Geneva, talked about surveillance officers detecting poliovirus in raw sewage in samples collected in Mumbai in mid-November.
As for the treatment, at least three doses of polio vaccine are required to stop the virus dead in its tracks, whereas the vaccine used against smallpox does it just after a single inoculation.
At present, there are four countries where poliovirus has not been completely eradicated: India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria. According to Heymann’s commentary in 'The Lancet,' polio was eradicated first in Europe, the Americas, and Western Pacific region.
By the year 1988, immunization had reached 78 percent in these regions, whereas immunization lagged at 58 percent in the other regions where poliovirus continues its wiggle.
Cause for optimism
India recorded a low number of polio cases in 2010.
Quite taken with the national, regional, and sub-regional campaigns against polio, Gates said, “2010 had been a great year for India. If the case reduction continues, there is a good chance to get the cases to zero in the next two years.”
He also intends to make further trips to India, to bring home the message that the last gasp of the virus is a dangerous one, and should be firmly put out.
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Australia's Ferguson gets ODI call

SYDNEY — Australia called up batsman Callum Ferguson on Tuesday for the sixth one-day international against England in Sydney after World Cup hopeful Shaun Marsh was ruled out with a hamstring injury.
Ferguson, 26, will replace Marsh for the final two games of the seven-match ODI series, clinched by Australia with a 51-run victory in Brisbane on Sunday.
Nursing a hamstring injury, Marsh was unable to field at the weekend and team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said scans had confirmed a low-grade strain -- a blow to his World Cup hopes.
"He will be unavailable for the two remaining ODI games against England and his return to cricket will be determined by his progress over the next week," said Kountouris.
Chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch said Ferguson had an "excellent record in one-day internationals for Australia and is in good form this season."
"We are sure Callum will seize the opportunity that comes following the unfortunate hamstring injury suffered by Shaun Marsh," he said.
The right-handed Ferguson, who averages 46.07 from 26 ODIs, has bounced back from a devastating knee injury sustained in the 2009 ICC Champions Trophy final against New Zealand and will be looking to press his case for inclusion in Australia's injury-hit World Cup side.
Marsh was not named for next month's World Cup but is on standby for Mike Hussey, also suffering hamstring trouble, and skipper Ricky Ponting, who is nursing a finger injury.
Spinner Nathan Hauritz also remains under a cloud after dislocating his shoulder in the first ODI clash, an injury for which he will need keyhole surgery.
Short-form specialist Shaun Tait looked likely to start in Sydney on Wednesday after performing well in the nets. He strained his thigh earlier in the series, casting doubt on his World Cup campaign.
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U.S. not keen on removal of key Middle East ally

USA,Caught off guard by the sustained strength of the popular revolt in Egypt, President Barack Obama has responded publicly by hedging his bets--neither voicing support for President Hosni Mubarak nor calling for the outright removal of the longest-standing Arab ally of the United States in the Middle East.
The approach is winning him few fans among pro-democracy activists, in the Arab world and elsewhere, who once hoped he would embrace the "freedom agenda" championed by his predecessor, George W. Bush.
Grounded more in realpolitik than any altruistic notion about fomenting Middle East democracy, the White House's cautious call for an "orderly transition" to a new government reflects a more sober recognition that there may be few good outcomes for the United States, no matter how the crisis in Egypt resolves itself.
"The best result is that there is no bloodbath and you have a coalition government of various elements in Egypt that can work with the United States," said Thomas Whalen, a Boston University political scientist.
"But whatever regime comes to power and replaces Mubarak, it probably will put the United States at an arm's length, at the very least."
Repressive and uncompromising in dealing with his own people, General Mubarak has been the U.S.'s strongest ally in the Middle East for three decades. Not only has Egypt been a moderating force in how the Arab world deals with Israel, it has provided valuable military and intelligence assistance to successive U.S. administrations.
In turn, the United States has backstopped the Egyptian military. Since 1979, Gen. Mubarak's regime has received about US$2-billion a year in aid -- primarily military -- from Washington, says the Congressional Research Service.
Clifford May, president of the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said it would be "unseemly for the U.S. to be seen as pushing Mubarak out" because of his loyalty to America.
Rather, it should be using its influence to quietly but forcefully urge him to step down and allow the formation of a stable transitional government.
"We have had many years to plan for the transition from Mubarak. The guy is 82 years old. This is not a contingency that could not have been foreseen," Mr. May said.
While the U.S. wants to be seen as siding with Egyptians seeking an end to decades of iron-fisted rule, analysts say the Obama administration is also deeply concerned about how a power vacuum created by Gen. Mubarak's departure would be filled.
The prospect the powerful Muslim Brotherhood might unite with secular opposition groups to form a new government may pose the greatest threat.
This would cast uncertainty over Egypt's long-standing strategic alliance with the U.S. and the fate of its 32-year peace agreement with Israel.
On Monday, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, likened the danger lurking in Egypt to the rise of Islamic fundamentalists in Iran in 1979 after the ouster of the Shah, another strong-armed U.S. ally.
"The big threat here is that this upheaval, which is in favour of more freedoms, more democracy and more prosperity, gets hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the one opposition group that is disciplined and well organized," Mr. May said.
"That would be a tragedy for Egypt, for American interests and it would be a great threat to Israel as well."
When pressed Monday whether Gen. Mubarak should stay on and if the U.S. believes he can implement democratic reforms, Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, dodged.
"It is not up to us to determine when the grievances of the Egyptian people have been met by the Egyptian government," he said.
When asked what the U.S. means by its call for an "orderly transition" to democracy, he said Egypt's leadership must hold "free and fair" presidential elections in September and implement "constitutional changes that facilitate a more open and more democratic process."
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Rishi Kapoor busier than Ranbir Kapoor?

Ranbir and Rishi KapoorActor Rishi Kapoor recently won the Best Actor Award (Critics) at the 56th Filmfare Awards for his performance in 'Do Dooni Chaar'. The Kapoor was mighty pleased at bagging this, while his son hosted the event. Rishi told us, "Unfortunately, I came in late, and didn't get to see Ranbit host, but I do hear that my son has been up to a lot of mischief," laughed Rishi.

However, talk about what we can expect from him in 2011, and he is quick to tell us. "There is Patiala House for starters. It'll be the next movie you'll see me in," said the actor. Rishi also confirmed that he is indeed a part of Karan Johar's 'Agneepath' remake. Then there's 'Housefull 2' and Rishi may just be a judge on the Indian version of the the international reali
ty show 'X-factor'.

All this brought us to thext question: Who is busier, Rishi or son Ranbir Kapoor? "Let's put it this way, the entire family is busy!" he said, his shoulders suddenly broadened.
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BlackBerry stock slips on India report

India on Monday said that Research-in-Motion, the makers of BlackBerry, would be expected to come up with a solution regarding BlackBerry Enterprise Server.TORONTO: Shares of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) slipped about two percent Monday after India rejected its offer for partial access to its encrypted corporate emails.

Since August last year, India has been seeking access to BlackBerry encrypted emails to counter threats to its national security. Since BlackBerry encrypted emails travel between smart phones through RIM's own servers and cannot be breached, BlackBerry
has become the dominant enterprise smart phone globally.

The market slide in RIM fortunes Monday was also triggered by a report by Britain-based market research firm Canalys which said that Google's Android has upstaged Nokia's Symbian as the world's leading smart phone software. But Android's gains came at the expense of BlackBerry, the report said.

The British research firm said Android jumped a whopping 615 percent in 2010 from 8.7 percent to capture about 33 percent of the global smart phone market.

By selling 32.9 million units as compared to Nokia's 31 million units during the last quarter of 2010, Android reduced RIM's share of the smart phone market to about five percent, according to the report.

Barring Apple, RIM and Nokia, all smart phone makers, including Motorola , have now embraced Google's Android operating system which comes free. Google doesn't make its own smart phones.

Though the Waterloo-based (near Toronto) BlackBerry maker didn't react immediately to India's rejection of its offer of partial access to encrypted services, the markets reacted quickly as RIM stock slipped two percent in both Toronto and New York. The share closed at $58.99 on the Toronto Stock Exchange and at $59.11 in New York.

The bad news for RIM comes just days after it it was knocked out of the world's top five mobile phone sellers by China's ZTE Corp.

Tech research company IDC reported last Friday that the low-priced cellphone maker ZTE has knocked RIM off the top-5 list and pushed Apple to the last spot on on the back its surging sales.

Nokia, Samsung, LG Electronics, ZTE Corp. and Apple are the current top five smartphone sellers.
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Is Bill Gates' fight against polio quixotic or practical?

Bill Gates on eradicating polio 
Bill Gates is taking a tough stance on polio -- and not everyone in the research community agrees with it.

In the philanthropist's annual letter, in which he highlights the key issues he's focusing on as co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the founder of Microsoft began his yearly note on the issue of polio, so that it appeared above malaria and HIV/AIDS.

Polio, which once infected, paralyzed and killed countless children every year, is now all but eradicated: According to the World Health Organization, the estimated number of polio cases per year dropped from 350,000 in 1988 to less than 1,500 in 2010.

There would be many benefits to eradicating the disease entirely, Gates argues -- not just medical and financial, but moral.

"Success will energize the field of global health by showing that investments in health lead to amazing victories," he wrote. "The eradication effort illustrates so well how a major advance in the human condition requires resolve and courageous leadership. To win these big important fights, partnerships, money, science, politics and delivery in developing countries have to come together on a global scale."

But not everyone agrees. Some critics say Gates' money and efforts would be better spent on solving other major issues, according to a New York Times article.

"Although caseloads are down more than 99% since the campaign began in 1985," the article says, "getting rid of the last 1% has been like trying to squeeze Jell-O to death. As the vaccination fist closes in one country, the virus bursts out in another."

Think exterminating polio is a cause worthy of great resources? Or should such efforts be focused elsewhere? Post your thoughts below.
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'Dabangg' comes close with six nods; Shah Rukh Khan wins best actor.


NEW DELHI -- The 56th Filmfare Awards held Saturday night in Mumbai were swept by small budget film Udaan with seven nods, followed by last year's most successful blockbuster Dabangg, which picked six trophies including best film.

{56th Idea Filmfare Award winners on stage 2/2} Best director went to Karan Johar for My Name Is Khan, while the film's star Shah Rukh Khan won best actor with co-star Kajol winning best actress.
A major highlight of India's awards season, the Filmfare Awards are presented by Filmfare magazine.
Udaan -- which screened at Cannes last year -- revolves around a teenage boy's growing pains, directed by Vikramaditya Motwane and won best film (critics award), best male supporting actor (Ronit Roy), best story, cinematography, screenplay, best background music and best sound design (which was shared with another film Love, Sex Aur Dhokha).
Action drama Dabangg saw its leading actress Sonakshi Sinha winning the best female debut actor award and best action director (Vijayan Master), among other wins.
Delhi-set wedding romcom Band Baaja Baaraat picked up best debut director (Manish Sharma) and best male debut actor Ranveer Singh.
Top actress Kareena Kapoor won best supporting female actor for We Are Family, an official remake of the Julia Roberts-Susan Sarandon starrer Stepmom produced by Karan Johar's Dharma Productions banner.
A special award was presented to film legend Amitabh Bachchan for completing four decades in the film industry. Presenting the award to Bachchan with Shah Rukh Khan, renowned director and producer Yash Chopra said, “Amitabh Bachchan is the best actor in the world.”
The awards were hosted by upcoming actors Ranbir Kapoor and Imran Khan which included live performances by Shah Rukh Khan and actress Madhuri Dixit.
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Two heroines for Pawan Kalyan’s mafia movie

Pawan Kalyan’s mafia movie with tamil director Vishnuvardhan will go on floors from march 2011.
This story would be a prequel of BILLA.
Abburi Ravi who worked for Annavaram in past is penning dialogues.
Producers Neelima and Shobhu said in a press note “Script has already been finalized. It is going to be stylish action entertainer and it has two heroines. A newcomer has already been selected as one of the heroine,
Yuvan Shankar Raja has already started composing tunes for this action flick.
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AK Antony offers union cabinet post for Chiranjeevi !

Union defence minister A.K.Antony arrived in hyderabad today and PCC chief D.Srinivas recieved him at airport.
They both went to ChiChiranjeevi union ministerranjeevi’s residence for urgent meeting.
The conclusion of meeting is that Antony requested Chiranjeevi to support congress party if no-confidence motion is putup in assembly and merge his party into congress, so that his charisma would be useful for congress.
In return, Chiranjeevi was offered union cabinet minister post in Dr.Manmohan Singh’s cabinet with Rajyasabha seat and 4 Prajarajyam MLAs will get state cabinet ministries.
Congress is trying to delay Y.S.Jagan’s new party registration with Election Commission and make sure that with Chiru’s charisma, he loses by-election in Kadapa this summer.
By this way, they’re trying to save kiran kumar reddy’s government.
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Afghan Photographer Wahidy Shoots Through the Burka

Farzana Wahidy is only 26 but she's had a storied life. As the first female Afghan photojournalist to work for international wire services, she taps into her own difficult years sneaking a secret education under the Taliban.
KABUL, Afghanistan (WOMENSENEWS)--Farzana Wahidy loves to capture women on film. Armed with her camera, this 26-year-old photojournalist from Afghanistan finds inspiration in chronicling the lives of her country's vastly beleaguered but "hugely intriguing, wonderfully colorful and always stirring" women.
She is the first female Afghan photographer working for international wires such as Agence France-Presse and the Associated Press.
Her work earned her the 2008 prestigious Merit Award from the All Roads Film Project, sponsored by the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C.
Wahidy says that for her photography is a "responsibility, since I know what it's like."
Born in Kandahar, she was about 6 when her parents moved to Kabul where she grew up.
"Everything I remember from my childhood is about war, about being afraid and moving," she said.
But no childhood memory beats the one of the night when the Taliban took control. "I was 13 then," she recalled. "No one could sleep. Our house was near a police checkpoint. We had to move to the safety of my uncle's house. That night there were nearly 30 of us together. Later, as we walked back to our home, I could feel the Talibs standing around giving us strange looks. I felt weird. My mother said that from now we would have to be careful about our headscarves."
Wahidy's subjects are often women affected by the Taliban regime who are covered in swathes of cloth. She sometimes shoots photos from behind a burka headcovering, showing the world as seen within its criss-cross strips of cloth.
"I was working on a photo story for AP," she said. "I was trying all angles and then I remembered wearing the burka myself. It was like being in prison. I shot it in front of a shopping center and today that photo is symbolic of everything that I wanted and couldn't have."

Memories Before the Taliban

The Talibanisation of Afghanistan began when Wahidy was barely in her teens, but she was sustained by memories of the time before then.
"During the communist regime girls went to school. Women taught in universities and moved around without headscarves. One of my neighbors (a teenager then) had lots of lovely clothes. I still remember her dressing up to go out," she said.
Wahidy was helped by having an encouraging father who was also an avid photographer. She grew up watching him work.
"He was the most open-minded person in the family. He believed in educating his daughters," she said proudly.
That's how her rendezvous with the now-famed secret schools of Afghanistan began.
"When the Taliban came to power my mom died and my dad was put in prison. This was easy to do in those days. Anyone who didn't like you could say things like, 'he has guns in his house' and that was it. They beat father badly. He couldn't walk for months. When we heard they were looking to lock him up again, we knew we had to escape," she recalled.
They ran away to their hometown in Kapisa and it seemed to Wahidy and her sisters that they were completely cut off from the world. A program on BBC Radio informed them of secret schools for girls.
"We knew we had to get into one," she said. "But my dad refused. Then I got sick and the doctor said the only way to cure me was to make me happy. My cure lay in school."

A Risky Venture

It wasn't easy. On their way to the apartment where the classes were held they had to hide their books. If the Taliban saw what they were carrying they could be publicly flogged. Then her father lost his job as a solider in the Communist Part Army that governed Afghanistan before the Taliban takeover. The girls now had to help at home.
That's when they got the idea of opening their own school. At age 14, Wahidy became a teacher.
"We started teaching neighborhood children. Several times the Talibs would get suspicious and come to check. The children would quickly hide their books. We would say we were learning the Quran. We were lucky no one sold us out. Everything like math and English was taught. We would change our clothes and pretend to be different teachers to keep things lively," she said.
When the Taliban was finally overthrown, Wahidy and many of her contemporaries rushed to take various catch-up courses that would help them carry on their education. That's when another blow fell.
"My dad had no money to pay for us. We were a large family. So I started working again," she said.
She wound up hearing about a photojournalism course. She applied and was accepted into the AINA Photojournalism Institute, Afghanistan's first photo agency.
Then she won a scholarship that paid her way to attend a school in Canada and a whole new world opened up.

An Appreciative Market

"Afghanistan isn't an easy place to work. Here I was directly exposed to a market that appreciated your work," she said.
She submitted a photo to a college photography contest open to students in the United States and Canada and won the top prize in portraiture.
After nearly four years in the field, she says shooting suicide bombings and attacks are still tough.
"When I see pieces of human flesh and torn limbs, I am reminded of the wars of my childhood. I hate that. That's when I feel I should take more photos to put into 'words' my feelings," she said.
She hasn't ever been to professional psychological counseling to help her cope with what she has survived and keeps seeing. She says her best friends are always on hand whenever she wants to chat.
Wahidy loves all her pictures. "Even the bad ones," she smiles. But some experiences are truly unforgettable.
"I will never forget shooting in the burns ward of a hospital I was working in once. One woman who had set herself on fire was bought in. I wasn't allowed to go close to her but the smells, the sounds and the atmosphere will remain with me forever," she said.
Being a woman in this field comes with its own set of disadvantages, she says, as most men, especially in the conservative areas of Afghanistan, say she shouldn't be a photographer. But what keeps her going is the unbridled enthusiasm she gets from her female subjects.
"'Look at you,' they say," said Wahidy, "They love the fact that I have a job and a life under my control."
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Now, minister DK Aruna gets threatening calls

MAHBUBNAGAR: After P Shankar Rao, it was the turn of minister D K Aruna to `receive' threatening calls. But Aruna said she is not concerned by such threats. The district police took up the matter suo motu and formed two special teams to inquire into the matter. In a related development, police unearthed six detonators on the Gadwal-Aiza road near Gadwal in the early hours of Sunday.

District SP Sudhir B
abu said the detonators were recovered following a tip-off. "They are harmless and there's nothing to worry about. It could be the handiwork of some mischief-mongers," he said. He said they have formed teams to look into the threatening calls issue though there was no formal complaint from the minister. Police have also launched a probe as to who has planted the detonators on the Gadwal-Aiza road, frequented by the minister to take part in Rachchabanda programmes.

Sources said the calls were made to the minister from a coin box by unidentified persons in Peddakothapalli village in Kollapur mandal. "The calls might have been made to stop the minister who was busy taking part in Rachchabanda programmes in her home district," sources said.

Aruna said she had no clue as to who had made these threatening calls. "I am not unduly worried. I have faced bigger odds in my political career. My father and brother were killed and I have emerged stronger in the last several years," she said.

A couple of days ago, Shankar Rao had charged the officers in the CMO as well as DGP Aravinda that they were not taking seriously the threats he has been receiving to his life.
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Raja and bureaucrats named in 2G probe report

Sajja Murli Chaudhary, 45, an employee of telecom operator systems takes part in a silent protest against the telecom corruption scandal in New Delhi December 9, 2010. REUTERS/Parivartan Sharma/FilesNEW DELHI | Jan 31, 2011
 Former telecom minister A Raja and at least seven bureaucrats have been reportedly named in the report submitted by a former judge who investigated allotment of telecom licences for 2G spectrum. Siddhartha Behura, former secretary of the department of telecom, and seven other officials of DoT have been named in former Supreme Court judge Shivaraj Patil's report. R K Chandolia, a confidant, of Raja has also been named in the report.
"We have identified the officials on whose part either there was deficiency or violation or lapse," Patil told reporters after submitting his report to the government.
Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said his ministry would study the report and decide what action needs to be taken.
Patil was investigating shortcomings and lapses in the 2G licensing process after a government audit in November said the government had awarded licences too cheaply in some cases, possibly costing the state $39 billion in revenue.
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Navy warship listing after collision, major fire rages

INS Vindhyagiri Mumbai,31 Jan 2011:
Firefighters, along with Navy personnel, are battling a major blaze to salvage warship INS Vindhyagiri, which is listing after colliding with a merchant vessel in the Mumbai harbour.
“Fire broke out soon after the ship collided with another vessel last evening. The Mumbai fire brigade was alerted early today,” fire brigade sources said.
There is nobody on board the warship as everybody was evacuated last evening.
In the morning, eight fire tankers were sent to douse the fire on board the ship, at naval dockyard, the sources said. The number has since gone up to 16, including six `Jumbo’ tankers, they said.
An official said there was a dent in the warship due to the impact of the collision through which water had gushed into the vessel causing it to tilt to one side.
Defence spokesman Manohar Nambiar said the ship was resting on the sea bed and it cannot sink as there was not enough water.
“The ship is listing on one side. This can be rectified. Once the water is pumped out, it will straighten,” he said.
Asked about the threat of oil spill, he said, “As of now there is nothing like that, but it is always better to take precaution.”
INS Vindhyagiri had collided with a Norwegian container vessel M V Nordlake, in the Mumbai harbour yesterday and was brought to the navy dockyard.
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Pak has 110 N-weapons to edge ahead of India: US Report

Nov. 29: Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari visits Sri Lanka in a bid to boost trade and security cooperation. WASHINGTON: Pakistan has doubled its nuclear arms stockpile to 110 warheads, developing new weapons to deliver them and significantly accelerating production of uranium and plutonium for bombs to edge ahead of India.

Islamabad's nuclear weapons stockpile now totals more than 110 deployed weapons in a sharp jump from an estimated 30-80 weapons fours years ago, 'Washington Post' reported.

"Pakistan has expanded its nuclear weapons production capability rapidly", the Post quoted David Albright President of the Institute for Science and International Security as saying.

Albright said that based on accelerated production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium, Pakistan may now have an arsenal upto 110 weapons.

The non-government US analyst said that while continuing to produce weapons-grade uranium at two sites, Islamabad has sharply increased its production of plutonium, enabling it to make lighter warheads for more mobile delivery system.

Pakistan's has developed a new missile Shaheen II, with a range of 1,500 miles which is about to go into operation deployment. The country has also developed nuclear capable land and air launched cruise missiles, the Institute said in a new report.

"The Pakistanis have significantly accelerated production of uranium and plutonium for bombs and developed new weapons to deliver them. After years of approximate weapons parity, experts said, Pakistan has now edged ahead of India, its nuclear-armed rival", Washington Post said.

The paper said while Pakistan has produced more nuclear-armed weapons, India is believed to have larger existing stockpiles of such fissile material for future weapons.

Dubbing Pakistan as one of the world's most unstable region, Post said an escalation of nuclear arms race in South Asia possess a dilemma for Obama Administration.

It said in politically fragile Pakistan, the Administration is caught between fears of proliferation or possible terrorist attempts to seize nuclear materials and Pakistani suspicions that the US aims to control or limit its weapons programme and favours India.

Quoting Pakistan's Defense attache at its embassy in Washington, Post said the number of Pakistani nuclear weapons are heavily deployed near its border with India.

The paper said that in December 2008, Peter Lavoie, US national intelligence officer for South Asia, told NATO officials that "despite pending economic catastrophe, Pakistan is producing nuclear weapons at a faster rate than in any other country in the world".
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Yeddyurappa claims threat to his life from 'black magic'

Mysore Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa on Monday claimed there was a conspiracy to eliminate him by taking recourse to "black magic" after efforts to use it to unseat him from power failed.
In remarks that are bound to raise the political heat in the state further, Yeddyurappa said, "Those who indulged in black magic to unseat me from power and failed are involved in it again".
"There is a conspiracy to eliminate me. I am not even sure whether I will return home after visiting Vidhana Soudha (state secretariat)," said Yeddyurappa, who has been facing unending troubles since becoming chief minister in 2008.
Yeddyurappa, who was instrumental in bringing BJP to power for the first time in the south, overcame two bouts of internal revolt and won confidence motion twice in assembly before facing a criminal case for alleged corruption with Governor H R Bhardwaj sanctioning his prosecution recently.
On October 11 last, when Yeddyurappa faced the first floor test, chopped chicken heads and vermillion-smeared pooja articles were found strewn near the Vidhana Soudha, fueling rumours that it was part of witchcraft.
Yeddyurappa had then blamed the opposition for it, but they had accused him of indulging in such practises to remain in power.
When a reporter asked him whether he calls alleged black magic a "threat to his life", he shot back "so what?".
Known for his frequent visits to temples, especially during crisis, and for liberal donations, often inviting opposition ridicule and criticism, Yeddyurappa, however, said he would not be cowed down by such threats (black magic).
He said he would soon write to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh complaining against Bhardwaj for his remarks "Ulta chor kotwal ko dante" (thief chiding police), terming it as an insult to him and also to the six crore people of the state.
The controversial remarks of Bhardwaj, who has been consistently at logger heads with Yeddyurappa, came recently after the state cabinet advised him not to proceed on the petition seeking his nod for the chief minister's prosecution.
"The BJP high command is fully supporting me. I want to tell those outside the BJP and also our partymen that there will be a BJP Government in Karnataka for the remaining two years tenure. No body can dislodge it".
Asked about BJP leader Shatrugan Sinha's observation that he should quit over the allegations of corruption and land scams, Yeddyurappa declined to react to it.
"I don't want to react. All I can say is the party high command is fully supporting me," he said.
Yeddyurappa was here along with Sri Shivakumara Swamiji, the pontiff of Siddaganga mutt in Tumkur, to attend a mass marriage organised by the Suttur Mutt, a prominent religious institution of majority Lingayat community.
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Oz college on verge of closure, fate of 4000 Indian students uncertain

Melbourne A Melbourne-based private institute is on the verge of financial collapse, threatening future of over 4000 students, including from India.
Private college giant 'Carrick' has now sought financial help from Victorian government to guarantee its
future. The institute is relying on a USD 10 million deal with Victorian public TAFE Holmesglen, The Australian reported. The deal, likely to be finalised by today, could result in Holmesglen securing up to 80 per cent of Carrick, it said.
Carrick runs several vocational courses including hospitality, tourism, events, community welfare work, business marketing and hairdressing besides other bachelor degrees and English programmes.
Its collapse would threaten more than 500 employees and 4000 students, including its inter-state operations in Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney.
Financial results for the holding company Carrick Institute of Education, lodged with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission earlier this month, revealed a USD 13.8 m loss in 2009-10 as it was hit by the collapse in the permanent-residency-driven market for international students.
It follows on from a USD 43 m loss the previous year, driven largely by a near USD 38 m impairment on the value of its intangible assets.
The unnamed party is believed to be Holmesglen, which The Australian revealed last Thursday had taken out a fixed and floating charge over Carrick's assets of up to USD 10 m.
Carrick had previously been in talks on forming an alliance with the US-based Washington Post's education arm Kaplan, which appear to have fallen through.
Victoria's Ted Baillieu government said it was in dialogue with Holmesglen on the deal.
"The government has sought assurances from the board of Holmesglen that appropriate steps have been taken to protect student welfare and the taxpayers' interests," a spokeswoman for Higher Education and Skills Minister Peter Hall said.
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India approves $12 billion POSCO steel mill

NEW DELHI Jan 31,2011
 India's environment ministry approved on Monday South Korean POSCO's plans for a $12 billion steel mill, a boost for the foreign investment climate after several setbacks for big ticket industrial projects.
The long-delayed clearance for India's biggest foreign direct investment -- as long as the company meets a series of environmental standards -- follows a year in which Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has blocked several projects, raising criticism he was jeopardizing India's growth story.
"Undoubtedly projects such as that of POSCO have considerable economic, technological and strategic significance for the country," the statement said. "At the same time, laws on environment and forests must be implemented seriously."
The mill in eastern Orissa state has been delayed by criticism it would ruin lives of thousands of poverty-stricken people, who say the plant will disrupt their betel leaf plantations and forest-based livelihoods.
India, one of the world's fastest growing major economies, needs foreign capital to boost infrastructure and allow its economy to grow at near double digits. But projects have met with protests from local farmers in this densely-populated country.
A government panel had earlier said there were no ecological concerns over the plant and the final decision was with Ramesh.
Posco is among several corporations, including Vedanta Resources, which have come under scrutiny from Ramesh, putting his ministry in conflict with others in the government who are pushing for rapid industrialization.
A series of corruption scandals has shaken the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and a recent minor cabinet reshuffle saw several ministers' portfolios change, but Ramesh stayed on as environment minister, indicating his influence.
The ruling Congress party head, Sonia Gandhi, is keen to win over farmers hit by big projects at well as ensuring industrial jobs are created -- a fine line that may have helped create regulatory uncertainty before state elections this year and a general election in 2014.
While investors tend to shrug off corruption scandals as a risk of emerging markets, regulatory uncertainty threatens to taint India's attractiveness as a destination for foreign firms eager for a slice of its booming $1.3 trillion economy.
In October, Ramesh threw out plans by London-listed Vedanta to expand its alumina refinery over worries it would destroy a "sacred" hill for tribal peoples, but this month Ramesh said he was willing to conditionally reconsider Vedanta's expansion plan.
That remark came soon after the ministry said it could consider approving Hindustan Construction Co's ambitious Lavasa project, a massive new town in a forested area near the city of Pune being built at a cost of $31 billion.
A back-and-forth on whether to ban iron ore exports in the Karnataka state has also worried investors. ArcelorMittal, the world's top steel maker, has also had faced years of delays in building several plants in India.
Approval for the Posco mill would see the Orissa government immediately starting to acquire land for the world's third-largest steelmaker's project.
Posco still faces a series of hurdles that could delay the project, such as a court case filed by a local firm against the Orissa government, contesting its decision to grant a mining concession to South Koreans.
India, which has not yet been able to exploit its potential as a natural resources-rich country, is keen on boosting its trade and political ties with South Korea while Seoul looks to tap into the $150 billion Indian nuclear power market.
Direct investors -- companies building factories or power plants or buying local firms -- often have less flexibility and more to lose than fund investors and are especially sensitive to regulatory uncertainty.
Leading global companies such as Wal-Mart Stores, Vodafone and Posco have been frustrated for years in their efforts to negotiate regulations in a promising but perilous market, and foreign direct investment has suffered.
Vodafone, India's biggest foreign direct investor to date, is fighting a 120 billion rupee ($2.6 billion) tax bill in a court battle and has complained about a telecoms regulatory structure that it said allowed too many players into the market.

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Investors face risks however Egypt plays out

A protester holds an Egyptian flag during a protest in Cairo January 29, 2011. REUTERS/ Goran TomasevicLONDON | Jan 31, 2011.
 If President Hosni Mubarak clings to power, investors will reprice Egyptian and regional assets to brace for weeks, months or possibly years of heightened political risk.
If he goes, global markets could still react with alarm, fearing a rising tide of unrest across the Middle East and possibly other authoritarian economies that could threaten energy supplies and potentially global economic recovery.
Mubarak sacked his government after four days of street protest, but made it clear he had no intention of giving in to demands from the street that he stand down. Tanks and troops deployed on the streets face rising numbers of demonstrators.
Egypt is entering uncharted waters, analysts say, and it is far from clear how much force soldiers will be willing to use.
Mubarak named his military intelligence chief as his first ever vice president on Saturday in a move some observers interpreted as a step towards a handover but others saw as a sign of quite the opposite.
Whatever happens, events in Egypt -- coming close on the heels of the overthrow of Tunisia's government by protests that escalated to regime change in less than a month -- have dented previous assumptions of stability.
"Either way, Egyptian risk will be priced up on Monday," said one investment strategist on condition of anonymity." The question now is whether we hit bottom quickly or slowly."
Egypt's stock market lost 16 percent in two days last week. Along with Egypt's banks, it should have reopened on Sunday but officials said both would remain closed. The Egyptian pound has fallen to six-year lows.
But the investment ripples looked to be going well beyond the Middle East. Wall Street's S&P 500 index recorded its worst one-day fall in six months on Friday on the unrest.
Egypt has long been seen as a key U.S. ally in the region, and sits astride the Suez Canal through which much of Europe's crude oil and imported goods pass.

Particularly if Mubarak does ultimately go, investors will also be querying the survivability of other regional governments including potentially Saudi Arabia.
The world's biggest oil producer also has an ageing head of state and social divisions, but it also has a colossal wealth from its oil revenue that gives its ruling elite much more flexibility when it comes to effectively buying public support.
"This might affect perceptions of Saudi risk," said John Drake, senior risk consultant at London consultancy AKE.
"Everyone has always said that Saudi will face a crisis eventually -- most likely when they run out of oil, which will not be for a long time. But I'd be much more worried about countries with a bigger wealth gap -- Algeria, possibly Bahrain, Lebanon."
Yemen -- another key US ally -- has also seen rising protests. Certainly, markets would react badly if it appeared other Middle Eastern countries were also being pushed to the brink of revolution.
So far, while Egypt's Suez town has seen some of the worst violence so far, there is no reported impact on shipping. Most of the international shipping passing through the canal has already run the gauntlet of Somali pirates further south in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, so onshore violence in Egypt may have little effect on already sky-high insurance premiums.
Nevertheless, any disruption would send markets reeling. Fuel and food prices are already edging higher, the latter boosted in part by other governments increasing food purchases in the hope of staving off further unrest.
That could boost inflation around the world. Even in Europe heightened cost of living is seen further stoking what are seen as rising protests against austerity and spending cuts.
The broader impact on the Egyptian economy is almost impossible to predict, but will depend on how long unrest lasts. Tourism is almost certain to take a major hit, with February generally seen as one of the most crucial months for the industry.
If Mubarak is successful in what could turn into a brutal crackdown, foreign firms and investors could still be deterred. Aged 82, Mubarak has always avoided naming a successor and another political crisis might be seen all but inevitable.
As Thailand has shown several times in the recent years, concerns over succession -- in the Thai case over the aged king -- coupled with political and social divisions can prove a potent recipe for unrest.
There could also be reputational risks from being seen as too close to Mubarak's government. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was asked pointedly whether the United States might put pressure on British mobile phone operator Vodafone after it acquiesced to Cairo's demands to shut down services.
All that means that in the short term, investors, firms and others will be focused firmly on what happens on Cairo streets.
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