Sachin has not made any sacrifice for nation: Sena

Days after Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray lashed out at Sachin Tendulkar, an article in its mouthpiece, Saamna, has again targeted the master blaster.

The article said: “Sachin is a great cricketer, but doesn’t match Lokmanya Tilak. He does not measure up to any Marathi revolutionary.”

Underlining that Sachin has not made any sacrifices for the country, the article said: “Sachin’s exploits are restricted to BCCI and record books and has not won Mumbai for Maharashtra.”

Sachin has never supported Marathi cause in sports; he could not even help Vinod Kambli stay in the team, the article added.

‘Headley has no links with the city’

HYDERABAD: Hyderabad police commissioner B Prasada Rao on Saturday categorically denied American LeT operative David Coleman Headley had any links with the city.

Speaking at the `Meet the Press’ programme on police arrangements for the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections, the commissioner said: “Different agencies are investigating the Headley case. So far, none of the agencies approached us. We will extend our cooperation in case they need help from us.”

Responding to a query, he said, “The city police are keeping a watch on candidates who have criminal antecedents. As a precautionary measure, we are video-recording activities of candidates.”

“We have deployed 70 shadow teams to keep tabs on activities of these candidates. For this, we have stationed three video teams at each police station. They will record events till the end of polling.”

According to official records, 30 candidates with criminal antecedents are in the fray. Of them, five have history-sheets against them, he said.

The shadow parties would focus on candidates who try to create nuisance by digging-up old issues. “We have set up 30 check-posts at entry/exit points of the city,” the commissioner said.

To a query on whether police have a mechanism to check likely distribution of money by candidates to lure voters a day before polling, Prasada Rao said, “If we receive complaints, either from candidates or people, we will immediately respond.”

The commissioner replied that police had no authority to check electoral photo identity card (EPIC). “The staff, deputed by the State Election Commission (SEC) are only authorised to check EPIC and allow voters into the polling stations. Police will only regulate queues at polling stations,” he clarified.

Meanwhile, the commissioner issued orders prohibiting assembly of five or more persons within the radius of 200 metres of polling stations on November 23 between 6 am and 6 pm.

He appealed to voters that information about electioneering and related matters can be passed on to toll-free number `1090′ apart from `100′. Information could also be sent as text messages (SMS) to: 9010100100.

Shiv Sena to Sachin: Play cricket, not politics

Bal Thackeray “loves Sachin” and he has “given him advice”- that’s how the Shiv Sena explains Bal Thackeray’s attack against cricketer Sachin Tendulkar. At a press conference, Sanjay Raut, spokesperson for the Sena, also said Thackeray “is 100% right” in his remarks against Tendulkar.The cricketer has been attacked by Bal Thackeray for saying he is an Indian first and then a Maharashtrian. In an editorial in his party’s mouthpiece, on Monday morning, Thackeray said Tendulkar should stick to playing cricket. He also declared Sachin’s been “run-out on the Marathi pitch.”

Advising Sachin to stay away politics, Sena supremo Bal Thackeray said in an open letter on the front page of his organisation’s newspaper, Saamna: “You have played like a king and become a multi-millionaire, no one has issues with that. But at a press conference, you said you are proud of being Marathi but are an Indian first. This has hurt Marathi people.”

Thackeray recalled that Sachin said all Indians had an equal right on Mumbai and said: “What was the need for this? You have been ‘run-out’ on the Marathi pitch. When the Marathi people wrested Mumbai, you weren’t even born.”

Meanwhile, the BCCI has come out strongly in defence of the batting maestro. “Shiv Sena’s comment is completely uncalled for. Whoever said this should be brought to book,” Shukla said.

Obama says Tibet is part of China, but wants talks

Describing Tibet as part of China, US President Barack Obama on Tuesday supported the early resumption of talks. “The United States supports the early resumption of dialogue between the Dalai Lama’s representatives and Beijing,” Obama said after his meeting with Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao here. China, which has governed Tibet since its troops occupied the territory in the 1950s, has repeatedly accused the Dalai Lama of leading a campaign to split the Himalayan region from the rest of the country. The 74-year-old Dalai Lama, who fled to India amid a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, has denied the allegations.

The last formal talks between the Dalai Lama’s envoys and Chinese officials, the seventh since 2002, ended in an impasse in July 2008, with China demanding that he prove that he did not support Tibetan independence.

Obama, who is here on his maiden state visit to the Communist nation, also said that he and Hu want climate change talks in Copenhagen next month to result in a global deal that has “immediate operational effect”.

“Our aim there is not a partial accord or a political declaration, but rather an accord that covers all the issues in the negotiations and one that has immediate operational effect,” he said.

On North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme, Obama said the six-party talks process should resume “as soon as possible”. On his part, Hu said that both sides were “committed to dialogue and consultation in resolving the Korean peninsula nuclear issue.”

Hu said that the two countries “will continue to have consultations on an equal footing to properly resolve economic and trade frictions.”

Pankaj Advani knocked out of World Snooker

 

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HYDERABAD: Unheralded 30-year old Greek Cypriot Anthony Brabin dealt Indian hopes a big blow when he knocked out National champion Pankaj Advani

5-3 en route to the pre-quarter-finals of the ONGC-IBSF World Snooker Championship on Sunday.

However, bringing some cheer to the Indian camp were the Mumbai-based Yasin Merchant who overcame compatriot Alok Kumar 5-1 to advance to the round of 16. Local challenger Lucky Vatnani, who took out Girish Rajashekar 5-2, and Kamal Chawla, a 5-4 winner over Alex Borg of Malta, also reached the pre quarters.

Meanwhile, China’s Tian Pengfei, despite notching two century breaks of 118 and 101, was beaten 4-5 by Thailand’s Supoj Saenia 4-5 while title favourite Alfie Burden of England struggled to beat Nader Khan Sultani of Afghanistan 5-3 in a scrappy encounter.

Playing fluently and to his strength, Brabin, an advertising executive from Cyprus, had Advani under pressure from the start when he took the first frame in which he trailed by 59 points. Brabin went on to take a 4-1 advantage before Advani reduced the leeway to 3-4. However, Brabin effectively sealed the match with a 54 break in the eighth to eliminate the India No.1.

“I came into this tournament wanting to do well, but beating Pankaj is huge for me. Even when I led 4-1, I was careful and when he made it 3-4, I realised I had to go for my shots. The last time I met him in Holland (2004 World championship), I was leading 2-0 but he beat me 4-2,” said Brabin.

Brabin’s long distance potting came in for high praise from the discerning. “Yes, I put in a lot of practice on this shot, especially after I changed my cue a month back. I also corrected my alignment, bringing in the elbow that used to stick out. I guess, today, I got most of these shots right,” he said.

Advani better known for his billiards achievements that include six World titles apart from one in snooker, was on tenter-hooks almost right through the match, missing sitters and with the run of the green also not favouring him, the defeat did not come as a huge surprise.

“All credit goes to Brabin. I have no excuses. Yes, it is disappointing, but I failed to finish off frames that I should have won, especially the first and fifth. I missed crucial balls and was not striking well today,” said Advani.

Joining Advani on the sidelines were Manan Chandra, who went down 3-5 to Anthony McGill of Scotland and Aditya Mehta who lost 3-5 to Gavin Pantall of Wales.

The pre-quarter-final matches are scheduled for a 7 pm start today, along with the four Masters quarter-final ties.

‘I’ll quit if TDP wins more seats than Cong in GHMC polls’

Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister K Rosaiah on Sunday said he would resign if the TDP won even a single seat more than the Congress in the Hyderabad civic polls.

“I will send my resignation letter to the (Congress) high command and Governor if the TDP wins even a single corporator seat more than Congress in tomorrow’s Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) elections,” he told reporters.

Rosaiah made the comments while refuting the reported allegations of Telugu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu that the Chief Minister is on the pay rolls of Karnataka minister G Janardhana Reddy, whose firm is facing allegations of illegal mining in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh.

Taking strong exception to Naidu’s allegations, Rosaiah said he is ready for any probe into his own assets as well as his family members.

“If you can prove his (Naidu) allegations, I will go to the people and seek a punishment myself,” he said.

Lashing out at Naidu, Rosaiah said the TDP chief was never willing to face probe over the allegations of corruption faced by him.

“He faced so many allegations. He always ran away from them. Did he ever express willingness to face investigation,” he asked.

“Naidu obtained a stay over a corruption case in the Yeleru scam. If he is sincere, he should get that stay vacated and face trial,” Rosaiah said.

Asserting that he would never try to shield anybody over alleged illegal mining by Janardhana Reddy’s Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC), he reminded that he ordered probe by state government officials first and later sought investigation by CBI over the matter.

“When we realised that the Karnataka is also involved in the OMC issue and that our state officials cannot conduct probe in the neighbouring state, we immediately sought a CBI probe,” he said.

The Chief Minister said that he also pursued the matter with Union Home Minister P Chidambaram though the formal consent from the Centre for the CBI probe is yet to come.

Noting that the Empowered Committee of the Supreme Court has submitted its report on the allegations of illegal mining by OMC, Rosaiah said the state government would wait for the verdict of the apex court.

All set for Hyderabad Municipal elections

Hyderabad, Nov 22 (PTI) The stage is all set for election to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) tomorrow.

It would be the first election here after the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) came into being in April 2007 after merging 12 surrounding municipalities and eight gram panchayats spread over four neighboring districts.

Incidentally, the formation of GHMC has made Hyderabad the second largest urban conglomeration in the country next only to Delhi.

The polls to the 150-division GHMC would be held at 5,719 polling stations, GHMC special officer M T Krishna Babu told reporters today.

The polling would be held from 7 am to 5 pm amid tight security arrangments with over 18,000 policmen being deployed.

Besides, three companies of Rapid Action Force (RAF) and special forces of OCTOPUS, the elite anti-terror force of Andhra Pradesh have also been deployed.

LeT terror plot mastermind held in Bangladesh

Bangladeshi security forces today arrested a top operative of Pakistan-based LeT who is suspect to be a mastermind in the terror plot
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targeting the Indian High Commission and US embassy here, officials said.

Mohammad Motalem alis Majnu, a suspected Bangladeshi operative of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), was arrested from the capital’s Motijheel area in line with confessional statement of three Pakistani LeT operatives arrested two weeks ago, officials said.

“We arrested Mohammad Motalem, alias Majnu, in line with the confessional statement of the three Pakistani LeT operatives,” said Monirul Islam, the Deputy Commissioner of Police of the Detective Branch.

“We suspect him to be a mastermind of a plot to carryout an attack on the Indian High Commission and US embassy in Dhaka,” he said.

He said the 44-year-old suspected militant was remanded to custody for four days under an order from Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrate Court for interrogation.

The Deputy Commissioner said Majnu, during initial interrogation, confessed that he was entrusted with the task to recruit LeT operatives in Bangladesh and arrange their passage to Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.

“He confessed that he participated in the Afghan resistance against the Soviet forces in late 1980s,” the police chief said.

Pandiraj wins Best Director award at Children’s International Film Festival

CHENNAI: Pandiraj, debutant director, bagged the prestigious Golden Elephant Best Director award for Pasanga’ at the 16th International
Children’s Film Festival in Hyderabad on Friday. The award also carries a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh.

Competing with 70 films from 20 countries, the film received a standing ovation from the audience at the end of its screening. “One of the foreign jury members even sought me out and personally discussed the film at length, and was very appreciative of its nuances,” said Pandiraj, one-time assistant to director Cheran.

A small film with a big heart, Pasanga’, which released on May 1, explores a rather unusual theme for Tamil cinema. It looks at the personal and academic pressures faced by children, by tracking the lives of five children in the age group of 10-plus. Their joys and sorrows, the squabbles between parents and how the children handle all of it positively are showcased in a way that does not marginalise the adult viewer. Made with an all-new star cast, the film was completed on a shoestring budget of Rs 3 lakh.

“I was confident the film would shape out well, but was worried if the children and locals would be able to bring out the expressions I wanted,” said Pandiraj.

Pasanga’ has now been selected for the prestigious Indian Panorama section in the International Film Festival of India to be held in Goa from November 23 to December 3. The film will be screened on November 27.

18-year-old abducted, raped in Delhi – INDIA

An 18-year-old girl was abducted and raped allegedly by a ‘bad character’ when she was on her way to school with her brother in West Delhi, police said.

Four men, including the alleged rapist, were arrested in connection with the incident which place at around 7:30 am in full public view in Janakpuri area. The brother tried to resist but was overpowered.

The victim, the daughter of a businessman, is class XII student in a private school and was going on a cycle rickshaw with her brother when the incident took place.

A senior police official said the main accused Sunny (24) was following the girl along with his three friends Shashi (21), Jeev Raj (22) and Kapil (21) in a car.

“Sunny along with his three friends overtook the cycle rickshaw and grabbed the girl. Her brother tried to resist but was overpowered. They then abducted the girl,” the official said.

They then took her to a secluded stretch in Sitapuri in Dabri.

“Three accused got out of the car there and Sunny then raped her. He then threatened her. He told her that he will harm her family if she complained,” the official said adding the brother called his parents and a call was made to police at around 8:00 am.

A wireless message was immediately sent to all police stations to keep a lookout for the car. Later police found the victim and the accused in Sitapuri. Sunny was arrested there while his accomplices were caught later.

Sunny knew the victim and used to allegedly eve-tease her. He is also the resident in the same area and is currently not doing anything and is also a “bad character” in the area, police said.

Six killed, 50 injured in twin blasts in Assam

Suspected ULFA militants triggered two blasts close to a police station in Nalbari on Sunday, killing at least six persons and injuring 50 others. The first bomb, planted in a bicycle, went off at a spot adjacent to the police station at around 9:30 am, Superintendent of Police Jitmol Doley said.

A similar blast occurred minutes after in front of a mobile phone shop, about 20 metres away from the police station, as people were trying to flee from the area, he said.

Vehicles parked in the busy and crowded area were damaged due to the impact of the blasts.

The areas where the blasts took place have been cordoned off by the police, which was carrying out a combing operation in the area.

Prima facie the blasts seemed to be the handiwork of ULFA, according to police sources.

The deceased have been identified as Keshab Das, Dipu Das and Ganesh Das, all local residents, and Pavan Thakur from Bihar, Doley said.

A high alert has been sounded across the state in view of the blasts and people have been asked to remain indoors by the district administration. (With PTI inputs)

Be the president of your own personal services corporation

In the world of work, you will always be paid in direct proportion to three things, says Brian Tracy in ‘Something for Nothing’ (www.jaicobooks.com ). “First, the work you do; second, how well you do it; and third, the difficulty of replacing you.”

The key to your future, therefore, is to choose the right job for your special talents and skills, become very good at doing that job, and then make yourself indispensable, he explains. To earn in the current, continually changing marketplace, each person is responsible for regularly upgrading the skill-set, the author advises.

We create our own jobs, no one can make another person more productive, he avers. “A company can only create an environment where a productive person can utilise more of his potential to contribute value. But the individual is always personally responsible for his level of production and the amount he earns or fails to earn.”

From the day you take your first job until the day you retire, no matter who signs your paycheque, you are the president of your own entrepreneurial business, selling your services into a competitive market, urges Tracy. “As the president of your own personal services corporation, you are totally responsible for training and development, productivity and quality control, personal promotion, and financial management.”

The book looks at the common craving of ‘something for nothing’ as an obsession with free money, a virus that can destroy the economy. When people strive to get rewards without working, riches without contribution, recognition without achievement, or power without service, they are manifesting the dark side of greed, the author rues.

On the other hand, “when the entrepreneurial and creative energies of people motivated by greed are directed and channelled into productive activities, greed becomes a powerful and positive social good. It drives people to innovate and create newer, better, faster, and cheaper ways to provide products and services for others.”

A blunt point from Tracy is that people at work generally like to take it easy. He bemoans the fact that once a person has a job and feels relatively secure in that job, what happens is a movement up the hierarchy of needs to comfort and leisure, with the employee doing everything possible to enjoy more comfort and leisure at work.

The book cites an alarming finding of Robert Half International, that fully 50 per cent of working time today is wasted, mostly in idle chitchat with co-workers, personal business, and extended coffee and lunch breaks.

“The average workweek in America today is 32 hours, even though most people are paid for 40 hours. Not only is much of that time wasted, but the time when the employee is actually working is often spent on low-priority tasks that contribute limited value to the employer.”

In a chapter titled ‘welfare, entitlements, and society’ the author differentiates between short- and long-term approaches to benevolence. The former is about taking money away from people who have earned it and giving it immediately to people who need it at the moment, whether or not this robs them of their self-esteem and makes them dependent on government in the long-term, explains Tracy.

In contrast, the long-term approach to benevolence believes that the best welfare programme is a good job. “The best citizen is a proud, independent, self-reliant person who is in control of his own life. People who think long-term do everything possible to encourage a vibrant business system that creates jobs, growth, hope, and opportunity for more people.”

Women work thrice as much as men

People often talk about how women need to work twice as hard as their male colleagues to get ahead. Well, UK researchers, who claim that they did their best to slice and dice data to disprove what they felt was an old wives’ tale about women needing to work harder, found that the adage is actually true. The study reveals that working women don’t do twice, but thrice the amount of work put in by men — at home and at office.

 

Palak Doshi, CEO of Vaman, who completely agrees with the findings, is of the opinion that women have a lot more to do since they still conform to the traditional stereotype of doing the household chores and cooking. She explains, “As women we need to work all the time. Even 24 hours in a day fall short for us. At work, a woman at the managerial level would definitely feel more pressure to prove herself, when compared to a man in a similar situation. Blame it on socially-imposed roles and expectations.”

 

Radhika, a systems analyst with Sonata Technologies, identifies with the study results, which state that women work for more than two hours before heading to office. She quips, “No wonder men breeze into work looking as fresh as daisies, while women crawl in practically on their knees!”

 

According to the findings, even though women and men are on par when it comes to competence, academic qualifications and job requirements, women feel that they put in more efforts than men. Harsha Singh, the assistant vice-president of Right Management, affirms, “At the entry level it’s all the same. But while going up the hierarchy, women are required to push harder. That’s because men are automatically considered better head honchos. It’s a preconceived notion.”

 

But it’s not as discouraging as it sounds. She adds, “The corporate mindset is changing. Companies have begun to realise that women employees are more conscientious and reliable.”

 

Some male executives say they’ve noticed that working women tend to feel guilty as they are unable to balance their work and household responsibilities. Sujoy Ghosh, HR head with SQL International, observes that women often feel overwhelmed while juggling work and home commitments. “They have what we call a double shift — trying to juggle office duties and then doing household chores, with husbands only helping marginally. All this makes them feel like they’re working extra hard, when compared to men, which might not be the case.”

 

There are head honchos who point out that the present scenario is undergoing a transformation. Says Balaji Sreenivasan the CEO of Aurigo Software Solutions, “There are several couples who mutually agree to divide the common household chores. This way they’re able to strike a better work-life balance.” Which would mean more career women rising rapidly up the corporate ladder.

 

 

Internet registry becoming a reality

India’s efforts at setting up a National Internet Registry have gathered momentum, with the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC), the registry for this part of the world, putting up the application moved by the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) for public comments which will be received till month-end.

The registries handle the allocation and registration of the number resources required for routing Internet traffic.

The Internet is dependent on a number-based address system (Internet Protocol or IP) to identify and locate devices and ensure proper data flow among them.

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority allocates resources to the regional registries that carry forward the process at the national and local levels. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and other end-users, including companies, government organisations and educational institutions, use the services.

It may take three-six months for the APNIC to clear the application, says Rajesh Aggarwal, who till recently was additional CEO of the NIXI involved in taking the NIR proposal forward.

Support service in Hindi

Talking to The Hindu, he said an Indian registry would help to reduce cost, benefiting smaller customers. The rates might come down by 30-50 per cent.

Support services could be provided in Hindi too. With the help of the government or industry, many IP blocks could be subsidised to help to proliferate server hosting.

Mr. Aggarwal said customers having their own IP blocks were expected to find it easier to switch bandwidth providers.

The bigger allottees of IP addresses like telecom companies and big ISPs might choose to do business directly with the APNIC, and this would help India retain its vote share in that body.

Twists and turns

The move to set up the national registry has not been without twists and turns. It began in 2007, when the Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI) submitted an application to the APNIC. The move had no government endorsement and was dropped. The NIXI submitted its application in August 2008; in January 2009, the ISPAI endorsed the application, and a proposal to operate the national registry as a consortium emerged.

Representatives

Later the Department of Telecommunications informed the APNIC that the Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC) was to establish the registry. Finally, the DoT and the Department of Information Technology agreed that the NIXI itself could go ahead with the application and the registry could have representatives from the telecom sector, including the DoT and the TEC, on its board.

Tamiflu-resistant swine flu cluster in U.S

IS IT ENOUGH: A file picture of the anti-viral drug Tamiflu. A cluster of patients has already developed resistance to the drug in the US

 Four North Carolina patients at a single hospital tested positive for a type of swine flu that is resistant to the medication Tamiflu, said health officials on Friday.

The cases reported at the Duke University Medical Center over six weeks make up the biggest cluster seen so far in the U.S.

Tamiflu – made by Switzerland’s Roche Group – is one of two flu medicines that help against swine flu, and health officials have been closely watching for signs that the virus is mutating, making the drugs ineffective.

More than 50 resistant cases have been reported in the world since April, including 21 in the U.S.

Almost all in the United States were isolated, said officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Foreign investors prefers services sector

Activists of CPI(M) were protesting against the entry of US retailer Wal-Mart into the Indian market.

India attracted $ 2.48 billion foreign direct investment in the services in the first five months of the current fiscal, the highest among all sectors.

The services sector, including financial and non-financial segment, attracted 22 per cent of the total foreign direct investment inflows in the April-August period, official data shows.

It was followed by housing and real estate, and telecommunications that attracted $ 1.79 billion and $ 1.73 billion investments respectively during April-August 2009-10. Construction activities attracted investments worth $ 899 million.

The highest FDI of $ 6.27 billion came from Mauritius followed by the US and Singapore in the first five months of this fiscal.

However, overall FDI during the period declined to $ 13.8 billion from $ 14.64 during April-August 2008-09.

The government recently approved formation of an investment promotion firm ‘Invest India’, where it will partner the states and industry, to help attract foreign investors and provide them a hassle-free entry.

Gold in crisis times

‘Magneto trouble’ is the title of a chapter that tells the story about the period 1930-31 in ‘Lords of Finance: 1929, The Great Depression, and the bankers who broke the world’ by Liaquat Ahamed (www.landmarkonthenet.com). Magneto is a device commonly used for creating electric spark in the ignition of automobiles, explains the author, tracing the phrase to Maynard Keynes who had, in 1930, compared the economy to a stalled car.
“We have involved ourselves in a colossal muddle, having blundered in the control of a delicate machine, the working of which we do not understand,” Keynes had bemoaned. He was, however, sanguine that the ‘magneto trouble’ could easily be cured through ‘resolute action’ by the central banks to ‘start the machine again.’
To jump-start the economy, though, a central bank had to have enough gold, the underlying raw material for credit creation under the then gold standard, narrates Ahamed. “The international monetary system was now operating, however, in a very perverse way. Because of investor fear, capital in search of security was flowing into those countries with already large gold reserves – such as the United States and France – and out of countries with only modest reserves – such as Britain and Germany.”
He describes how with American capital bottled up at home and US demand for European goods shrinking – a result of the weak US economy and of higher import tariffs imposed in June 1930 by the Smoot-Hawley Act – Europe could only pay for its imports and service its debts in gold. “During 1930, a total of $300 million in bullion was shipped across the Atlantic into the vaults of the Federal Reserve system.”
What was even more disruptive to international stability was the flow that year of $500 million of gold into France, the one country in Europe that had somehow remained immune from the world economic storm, says Ahamed. “By the end of 1930, the Banque de France, in addition to the $1 billion it held in sterling and dollar deposits, had accumulated a gold reserve mountain of over $2 billion, three times that of the Bank of England.”
Unknown to most people, much of the gold that had supposedly flown into France was actually sitting in London, the author notes. Since bullion is heavy – ‘a seventeen-inch cube weighs about a ton’ – central banks tend to ‘earmark’ the metal, that is, keep it in the same vault by simply re-registering its ownership, rather than ship crates of gold across hundreds of miles from one country to another and pay high insurance costs.
“Thus the decline in Britain’s gold reserves and their accumulation in France and the US was accomplished by a group of men descending into the vaults of the Bank of England, loading some bars of bullion onto a low wooden truck with small rubber tires, trundling them thirty feet across the room to the other wall, and offloading them, though not before attaching some white name tags indicating that the gold now belonged to the Banque de France or the Federal Reserve Bank.”
As 1930 was closing, gold holdings by the US and France were nudging to 60 per cent of the world’s total, with neither country doing anything to re-circulate it. And economists were not happy, as Ahamed cites in the book. For instance, Paul Einzig wrote that the French gold hoarding policy brought about the slump in commodity prices, which in turn was the main cause of the economic depression, and the unwillingness of France to cooperate with other nations aggravated the depression into a violent crisis. And Gustav Cassell said, “The Banque de France has consistently and unnecessarily acquired enormous amounts of gold without troubling in the least about the consequences that such a procedure is bound to have on the rest of the world, and therefore on the world economic position.”
Keynes lamented the disappearance of gold from circulation. “The little household gods, who dwelt in purses and stockings and tin boxes, have been swallowed by a single golden image in each country, which lives underground and is not seen. Gold is out of sight – gone back into the soil. But when the gods are no longer seen in a yellow panoply walking the earth, we begin to rationalise them; and it is not long before there is nothing left.”
The bullion reserves that backed the credit systems of the world, buried as they were in underground vaults – or in the case of the Banque de France, underwater, because its vaults lay below a subterranean aquifer – were invisible to the public eye, adds Ahamed. “They had acquired an almost metaphysical existence. Keynes thought that perhaps gold, its usefulness now outlived, might become less important… He would eventually be proved right but not before a wrenching upheaval.”
Topical read, at a time when gold is at a high, even as contrarian caution of a steep crash of the yellow metal looms afar in the fringes

How income inequality leads to obesity

Modern life is perhaps conspiring to make us fat, suggest Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett in ‘The Spirit Level: Why more equal societies almost always do better’ (www.landmarkonthenet.com). In the past the rich were fat and the poor were thin, but in developed countries these patterns are now reversed, they add.

A study cited in the book is of the World Health Organisation, which found the steeping of social gradient as rates of obesity have increased. “By the early 1990s obesity was more common among poorer women, compared to richer women, in all 26 countries, and among poorer men in all except five.”

The sudden rapid increase in obesity in many societies cannot be explained by genetic factors, the authors aver. “People often point to the changes in cost, ease of preparation and availability of energy-dense foods, to the spread of fast-food restaurants, the development of the microwave, and the decline in cooking skills. Others point to the decline in physical activity, both at work and in leisure time, increasing car use and the reduction in physical education programmes in schools.”

But the real culprit may be income inequality, the book postulates. Scatter diagrams that plot income inequality on the x-axis and per cent obese on the y, show a preponderance of obesity, both among adults and children, in the more unequal US states.

Calorie intake and exercise are only part of the story, note Wilkinson and Pickett. “People with a long history of stress seem to respond to food in different ways from people who are not stressed. Their bodies respond by depositing fat particularly round the middle, in the abdomen, rather than lower down on hips and thighs.” Quite alarmingly, people who accumulate fat around the middle are at particularly high risk of obesity-associated illnesses.

Apart from the addition of weight in the worst places, stress can cause us to increase our food intake and change our food choices, a pattern known as stress-eating or eating for comfort, the authors report. “In experiments with rats, when the animals are stressed they eat more sugar and fat… In a study in Finland, people whose eating was driven by stress ate sausages, hamburgers, pizza and chocolate, and drank more alcohol than other people.”

Scientists are starting to understand how comfort eating may be a way we cope with particular changes in our physiology when we are chronically stressed, changes that go with feelings of anxiety, the authors inform. “Recent research suggests that food stimulates the brains of chronic over-eaters in just the same ways that drugs stimulate the brains of addicts.”

A chapter titled ‘Building the future’ forecasts that the proportion of the population feeling they could trust others might rise by 75 per cent in the US, if only the country’s inequality were reduced to something like the average of the four most equal of the rich countries (Japan, Norway, Sweden and Finland).

The authors foresee, then, matching improvements in the quality of community life; “rates of mental illness and obesity might similarly each be cut by almost two-thirds, teenage birth rates could be more than halved, prison populations might be reduced by 75 per cent, and people could live longer while working the equivalent of two months less per year.”

Super A carrots boost vision

London: Farmers have grown a novel form of carrots that are 40 per cent richer in anti-oxidants and can boost vision compared to normal varieties.

 The superfood, which is set to hit the market next week, is 40 per cent rich in beta-carotene, an anti-oxidant the body converts into vitamin A and boosts health.

 It has been found to improve vision in dim light, strengthen body’s immunity to infections such as winter colds and flu, and helps maintain healthy skin.

 The new Super A carrots that are intensely orange with a sweet taste were developed by growers in Shropshire.

 “Eating Super A carrots is the ideal way to boost your intake of beta-carotene which as well as converting to vitamin A is also an antioxidant.” Antioxidants help protect body cells from damage,” the Daily Express quoted M&S nutritionist Claire Hughes.

 Dr Elisabeth Weichselbaum, of the British Nutrition Foundation, said a lack of vitamin A could lead to eye problems and even night blindness.

 However, researchers have warned that consuming huge quantities would not improve night vision beyond its natural limit.

 

Particles from car brakes harms lungs

London (IANS) Tiny particles released by car brake pads can harm lung cells, according to new research.

 Researchers found that heavy braking, as in an emergency stop, caused the most damage, but normal breaking and even nearness to a disengaged brake resulted in potentially dangerous cellular stress.

 Mechanics Barbara Rothen-Rutishauser and Peter Gehr from the University of Bern and Michael Riediker from the Institute for Work and Health, Lausanne, worked with a team of researchers to study such effects.

 “Brake wear contributes up to 20 per cent of total traffic emissions, but the health effects of brake particles remain largely unstudied. We’ve found that the metals in brake wear particles can damage junctions between cells by a mechanism involving oxidative stress (OS),” the authors said.

 OS denotes the steady-state level of oxidative damage in a cell, tissue, or organ, caused by the reactive oxygen.

 The teams’ analysis revealed that brake wear particles contain considerable amounts of iron, copper and organic carbon.

 Exposure to these pollutants caused increased signs of oxidative stress and inflammation in the cells, and hard braking caused most exposure, said a Bern release.

 Interestingly, some exposure still occurred even when the brakes were not being applied, presumably due to residual brake particles coming off the turning axle and the braking system.

 These findings were published in the journal Particle and Fibre Toxicology