Don’t test India’s patience, says US

The US on Wednesday made it clear that India’s patience would be “limited” if it faces a Mumbai-type attack again as it warned that Lashkar-e-Tayyaba was working in league with Al Qaeda to destabilise the region and provoke an Indo-Pak military confrontation.

The US defence secretary, Mr Robert Gates, who discussed the serious threat posed by terrorism to the region with the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, and the defence minister, Mr A.K. Antony, emphasised the need for “high level of cooperation” from all countries to defeat the “syndicate” of terror, including the LeT, the Taliban and the Tehreek-e-Taliban under the command of Al Qaeda.

He said the syndicate had “home and safe haven” in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border areas and that there was need to recognise the magnitude of threat to the entire region.

“While Al Qaeda is operating in Afghanistan along with the Taliban, the Tehreek-e-Taliban is focusing on Pakistan. The Lashkar-e-Tayyabs is focusing on Pakistan as also India,” Gates told reporters here winding up his two-day visit.

“The success of any one of them is success for all… Victory for one is victory for all. These groups operate under the umbrella of Al Qeada from North West Frontier Province (of Pakistan) and Waziristan,” he said.

“Under the umbrella, they intend to destabilise not only Pakistan, but the entire region by provoking confrontation

between India and Pakistan through terror attacks. This is a very complicated issue and very dangerous for the entire

region as a whole,” he added.

To a question, Mr Gates said that it would “not be unreasonable to assume that India’s patience will be limited” if there is a repeat of 26/11.

“After the Mumbai attacks, India had responded with great restraint and statesmanship. But if attacked again, the response is a question. I leave this question to the Indian government,” Gates said.

Pressing the need for high level of cooperation to eliminate such forces, he said it would be difficult to wipe them out by targeting only one of the groups.

Describing the terror situation in the region as “complicated” and “very dangerous”, the US defence secretary said it would be “very dangerous” to single out any one group out of the syndicate to be targeted as all of them needed to combated together.

In this regard, he said, it was important for all the countries to “remain engaged and eliminate the terror groups”.

Asked whether Indian leadership had asked him to press Pakistan to do more on combating terror groups on its soil,

Mr Gates said the discussions focused on syndication of different terror groups and “how they put all of the region,

India and Pakistan, at risk.”

He said one of subjects of his next visit to Pakistan would be “allay its concerns” so that “they can focus on the

real existential threat to Pakistan from groups operating from its territory.”

Queried whether he sought India’s military role in Afghanistan, Gates suggested that the US was not interested in it given the “real suspicions” between India and Pakistan about the role each is playing there.

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Microsoft to patch hole in Internet Explorer

Microsoft will patch a hole in its Internet Explorer browser that may have allowed Chinese hackers access to human rights activists’ e-mail accounts.

The firm normally issues patches at a set time each month but said that the attention the problem had received forced it to move more quickly.

It follows the French and German governments decision to advise citizens to use other browsers.

Security experts said they had seen malicious code exploiting the weakness.

If a web user were to visit a compromised site using a vulnerable browser, they could become infected with a “trojan horse”, allowing a hacker to take control of the computer and potentially steal sensitive information.

Microsoft said on 18 January that there were “very few” infected sites on the web.

But Security firm Sophos said now it had seen “copycat” sites trying to exploit the vulnerability.

“Though numbers are still very low, over the past 24 hours or so we have seen a few sites serving up malicious code attempting exploit the vulnerability,” it said in a blog post.

‘Weak link’

The bad publicity has allowed rivals such as Firefox to gain market share.

According to web analytics company StatCounter Firefox is now a close second to Internet Explorer (IE) in Europe, with 40% of the market compared to Microsoft’s 45% share.

In some markets, including Germany and Austria, Firefox has overtaken IE, the firm said.

Microsoft said it had now decided to act on the security hole.

“Given the significant level of attention this issue has generated, confusion about what customers can do to protect themselves and the escalating threat environment Microsoft will release a security update out-of-band for this vulnerability,” said Microsoft’s general manager of Microsoft’s trustworthy computing security group George Stathakopoulos.

“We take the decision to go out-of-band very seriously given the impact to customers, but we believe releasing an update is the right decision at this time,” he said.

He said that the only successful attacks “to date” were against IE 6.

“We continue to recommend customers update to Internet Explorer 8 to benefit from the improved security protection it offers,” he said in a security advisory.

Following the high profile attacks on Google, Microsoft admitted that IE was a “weak link”.

The recent spate of attacks were alleged to have hit more than 30 companies including Google and Adobe.

Google threatened to withdraw from the Chinese market following the attacks.

Secret codes for your phone

Your mobile phone could be your lifeline in an emergency — but what if there was no network? Or maybe your handset was stolen — can you render it impossible to use by the thieves? Whether it is accessing an international emergency phone number or using an IMEI code to lock your instrument, youngsters and the cops swear by a few ‘tricks’ for mobile phone users.

The monthly newsletter, Tarnaka Times, a mouth piece of various associations, including Federation of AP Senior Citizens’ Organisations (fapsco), highlighted these facts in their latest issue for the benefit of the elderly.

Not many know that 112 is an international emergency number that can be dialed even if the keypad is locked or even if there is no Sim card in GSM mobile handsets around the world. The call will be transferred to the police control room even if you are beyond your network’s coverage. The handset latches on to any available network and makes the connection. Mubeen Qureshi, an IT professional, says, “This could bail anyone out in times of need even if he/she is out of network’s coverage area. But it’s not even half as popular as the 100 service.”

Another ‘trick’ is keeping your handset’s unique 15-digit IMEI number handy. If your phone goes missing, you can turn it into a piece of junk. More importantly, the IMEI can help track the phone down. P. Hari Kumar, DCP, Central Zone, says, “One must lodge an FIR. Owner of the lost or stolen phone can take the duplicate FIR and inform the service providers to block the Sim.”

However, there are also a few myths doing the rounds. One such myth is the one about punching in *3370# to increase battery power by 50 per cent when the charge is low. But youngsters clarify that this is merely a misconception. P. Febby, says, “The code only activates the Enchanced Full Rate Code (EFR) which only improves the sound quality and that too only on a few handsets. It actually reduces battery life.”

45 injured as violence breaks out at Osmania University

Students pelting stones after they were lathi-charged by police in Hyderabad on Wednesday

 The Hindu Police fire tear gas shells on Wednesday to disperse students who planned to take out a rally with the body of a student, K. Venugopal Reddy, who allegedly committed suicide by setting himself ablaze in Hyderabad on Tuesday demanding separate Statehood for Telangana. Photo: G. Krishnaswamy

Violence broke out at the Osmania University campus here today when police stopped students from staging a march with the the body of a youth who committed suicide by immolating himself apparently due to delay in formation of a separate Telangana state.

Police said at least 30 students and 15 policemen, including Kachiguda Assistant Commissioner of Police, K. Ramchander, were injured as the premises turned into a battlefield with students throwing stones and torching police vehicles.

Police burst teargas shells and fired rubber bullets and used water cannons to disperse them. Some mediapersons were also hurt during the clashes.

The violence broke out over shifting the body of K. Venugopal Reddy, a 23-year-old final-year MCA student who set himself ablaze yesterday at the university, which has been a focal point for the youth demanding Telangana.

The students planned to take out Venugopal’s body in a procession towards Gun Park near Andhra Pradesh state assembly from the Arts College premises where the body was kept since yesterday. Hundreds of students gathered at the Arts College premises to pay their respects to Venugopal.

But police stopped them from taking out any procession saying it may aggrevate the situation in view of the bandh being already observed in the city in support of Telangana.

Normality affected in Telangan region

Normal life was hit across Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh today due to a bandh called by the students and Joint Action Committee (JAC) demanding immediate steps for formation of separate Telangana.

The Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) suspended its services in the city fearing attacks by bandh supporters.

Petrol pumps remained closed at various places in the city since late last night. Schools, colleges, shops and other business establishments were shut in Hyderabad and Telangana districts like Medak, Nizamabad, Nalgonda and Karimnagar.

The bandh was called by students of Osmania University the nerve center of the Telangana agitation following the alleged suicide by a student in support of separate statehood.

The all-party JAC formed to spearhead the agitation for separate Telangana supported the bandh in order to mount pressure on public representatives in Telangana region to quit their posts in protest against the Centre’s stand on the issue.

Meanwhile, students of Osmania University have kept the body of Venugopal Reddy, who allegedly committed suicide on the Telangana issue, in the varsity campus, and held a meeting hailing his “sacrifices” for the cause.

They are demanding that public representatives come to the varsity and pledge to resign from their posts to put pressure on the Centre to announce a time—frame for the formation of Telangana

IANS reports

Normal life in Hyderabad and nine other districts of the Telangana region came to a halt as a 48-hour shutdown called by the JAC of students began on Wednesday to protest the delay in the formation of a separate state out of Andhra Pradesh. Since Monday, two students have killed themselves over the issue.

All political parties have supported the shutdown. The JAC called for a strike after two students, depressed over the delay in carving out a separate Telangana state, allegedly committed suicide.

K. Venugopal Reddy, a final year student of MCA, set himself ablaze at Osmania University here late Monday. Suvarnamma, a first year BSc student in Mahabubnagar district, set herself ablaze late Tuesday.

Tension prevailed at Osmania University campus for the second consecutive day as students continued their protest with the body of Reddy. The JAC leaders, who sat in front of the Arts College building with the body through Tuesday night, said they would not allow it to be moved unless all MPs and state legislators from the region resign in support of the Telangana statehood demand.

In an attempt to shift the body, police brought additional forces to the campus Wednesday morning.

The self-immolations triggered angry protests by students across Telangana. The students’ JAC called for a two-day shutdown Wednesday and Thursday.

The politicians’ JAC, which comprises all parties including the ruling Congress, has supported the shutdown for Wednesday.

The JAC also announced that all elected representatives would submit their resignations from Wednesday and those who have already done so would press for their acceptance.

Five legislators of Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) and one of Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) began a sit-in at the house of assembly speaker Kirankumar Reddy Tuesday night, urging him to immediately accept their resignations. The speaker, however, sought two to three days to take a decision.

With the legislators continuing their protest, the police took them into custody. They were later released.

All 39 legislators of main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) have also decided to press the Speaker to accept their resignations.

Social Networking Craze Affects Productivity @ India Inc

Social networks are turning into time wasters for Indian employees as revealed by a latest survey from Assocham (Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry). The report points out how the social media craze is reaching office desktops and in turn affecting the overall productivity of the companies.

 

Note: The survey was conducted in 13 major cities – Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Chennai with 4000 participants in the age bracket of 21 – 60.

The Survey Points out some primers such as  :

Indian employees are spending an hour on an average on social networks like Facebook, Orkut, etc.

This figure points out just the surfing time on social networks, what about the time spent in getting back from the social world to the real world (getting back with managing work).

Productivity suffered is close to 12.5% as employees surf their time away during office hours.

This figure is pretty high compared to any standards and could create havoc with companies’ overall productivity. This could be even more dangerous for IT companies’ billing their clients on hourly basis.

Four in 10 employees built their social profiles from their office. Orkut, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter which is the most famous.

Social networks are seen as passports to get better paying jobs now-a-days and better still as a ‘land for romancing’. The usages could be even higher than recruitment portal surfed during office hours.

Some 83% saw nothing wrong in surfing at work during office hours.

Employees find surfing social network completely moral and legitimate at their workplace. Its time that companies re-write their rule book prohibiting its uses.

 

84% of respondents in India’s major cities show signs of internet addiction

We all want India’s internet penetration to soar high enough but not the growing usages in offices. This internet addiction if stopped blatantly could increase attrition rate in companies as employees will take it as an assault on their freedom.

The survey also points out that only around 14% of employees were given full access to social networking sites.

 

The companies are up in sleeve against social media craze and are preventing these sites with help of restrictor systems in place but in days of high smartphone usages and advert of 3G in India it will be about time employees turn towards their cell phones in offices to surf social networks

Recruitment of Americans by al-Qaeda sparks alarm in US

Three dozen Americans have converted to Islam in prison and have travelled to Yemen for possible terrorist training with al-Qaeda, raising alarm among U.S. officials.
The American administration is on “heightened alert because of the potential threat from extremist carrying U.S. passports and the challenge is in detecting and stopping home-grown operatives,” according to a new report by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
These new moves of al-Qaeda profiled by the committee come as U.S. has designated Yemen-based Al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) as a terrorist organisation and slapped sanctions on its leaders.
Two top leaders of the AQAP — Nasir al-Wahishi and Said al-Shihri — too have been designated as terrorists by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the State Department said.
The U.S. is also approaching the U.N. Security Council to slap sanctions on AQAP and its leaders.
Despite some heavy blows, al-Qaeda is not on the run, U.S. law enforcement officials told the committee. They said that al-Qaeda has expanded its recruitment efforts to attract “non-traditional followers and adopt its operation to new environment“.
Several of these new recruits have then “dropped off the radar for weeks at a time” and continue to carry U.S. passports and this radicalisation of individuals has alarmed officials.
The report said al-Qaeda’s recruitment pattern has changed from recruiting militants amongst Arabs, Afghans and Pakistanis and the group is now seeking to recruit American citizens to carry out terrorist attacks in the U.S., West and outside.
The document says there is also concern about another group of 10 Americans in Yemen who have converted to a fundamentalist form of Islam and married Yemeni women.
A top U.S. intelligence official referred to these men as “blond-haired, blue-eyed types” fitting the profile of Americans that al-Qaeda would like to recruit.
In a letter accompanying the report, the committee’s chairman Senator John Kerry said “these groups seek to recruit American citizens to carry out terror attacks in the U.S.”
Al-Qaeda forces in Yemen have emerged as a threat to the U.S. by the failed Christmas bombing of a U.S. airliner in Detroit and the shooting spree by a Muslim Army Major in Fort Hood Texas base.

India Telangana separate state protests turn violent-BBC news

Violent protests have taken place in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh to support the demand for a separate Telangana state.
Police have used sticks to break up a protest by students in Hyderabad city.
A strike has shut down large parts of the state. The strike was called after a student committed suicide on Monday.
In December, the Indian government said that Telangana would be carved out of northern districts, but later said more consultations were needed.
The state has seen violent protests for and against the proposed new state in recent weeks.

Violent protests
The strike has affected life in 10 districts of the state, including Hyderabad city, the BBC’s Omer Farooq in Hyderabad says.
The state authorities have taken 4,000 buses off the road to prevent them from being attacked and vandalised by the protesters.

Shops, businesses, schools and colleges are closed.
Police have used batons to break up a demonstration by students at Osmania university.
At least six students have been injured in the attack.
The students are refusing to allow the cremation of the body of Venugopal Reddy, the student who committed suicide on Monday in support of the formation of Telangana.
Earlier in January, a meeting of different political parties to discuss the issue failed to arrive at a consensus.
The leaders of the political parties who attended the meeting called for calm in Andhra Pradesh and agreed to hold further talks.
Correspondents say there are deep divisions within political parties over the Telangana issue.


In December, India’s Congress party-led government announced it would allow the creation of the new state irrespective of opposition.
Congress is also in power in Andhra Pradesh.
The announcement prompted widespread protests in Andhra Pradesh.
Opponents of the move are unhappy about having the present state capital, Hyderabad, which is home to many major information technology and pharmaceutical companies, transferred to Telangana.
Demonstrators for and against the new state have blocked roads and railways in Andhra Pradesh, while many schools, shops, offices and hotels remained closed for a second day.
The final decision to create a new state lies with the Indian parliament, but the state assembly must pass a resolution approving the creation of Telangana. The state legislature is sharply divided on the issue.
-BBC news