Srikrishna fluent in Telugu

The political leaders from the state were in for a pleasant surprise to hear Justice B.N. Srikrishna talking to them in Telugu during the dinner hosted by the Governor, Mr E.S.L. Narasimhan at Raj Bhavan.

  • Chairman-of-the-Srikrishn050310012207.jpg

    Chairman of the Srikrishna committee, Justice B.N. Srikrishna is flanked by members of panel, Vinod K. Duggal (left) and Ravinder Kaur (right) as they talk to each other at the Lakeview Guest House in Hyderabad on Thursday.

The politicians had, what the Raj Bhavan described as, a lively interaction with Justice Srikrishna and other committee members. The leaders of all political parties, excepting Mr Asaduddin Owaisi, who was in Delhi for Parliament Session, turned up for the dinner, along with the Chief Minister, Mr K. Rosaiah.
Sources said Justice Srikrishna had brief interaction with all the leaders but the issue of Telangana or committee proceedings did not come up for discussion.
Earlier in the day the Telangana activists and advocates staged a protest at the Shamshabad airport as members of the Srikrishna Committee arrived in the city, here on Thursday.
The Rajiv Gandhi International airport police took 50 advocates into preventive custody after they raised slogans “Srikrishna Committee go back.” The advocates described the committee as a delaying tactic. The RGI airport police inspector, Mr Sanjay Kumar, said though the protesters did not come onto the exit route, they were taken into custody.

Srikrishna lets parties give varied viewpoints

A difference of opinion in the Srikrishna Committee came to the fore on Thursday during the maiden visit of all its members to the state.
Justice B.N. Srikrishna, who is heading the committee, made it clear that any number of views, even though they are divergent, could be expressed by leaders of a particular party.
Asked why the committee did not insist on political parties submitting a specific opinion and thereby allow them to continue to adopt dual standards, which are aggravating the situation, Justice Srikrishna said these parties might adopt “double, triple or single standards” but it was for the committee to analyse them.
Going by the approach of the committee chairman in obtaining the views of political parties, the Congress and TD leadership could escape from the crucial responsibility of letting their view known on the bifurcation of the state. However, the member secretary, Mr V.K. Duggal, during his recent visit to city, categorically said the committee would take the opinion of the president as authentic view of the respective party. He said the party president’s view was sought keeping in view the divergent views expressed by leaders within a single party.
Justice Srikrishna said, “I am a judge all my life. I intend to listen to all versions,” he said. Asked why the committee took up labourious exercise after the Centre already held meeting with political parties, he said the exercise was to know the views of aam aadmi which were equally important.

Criminal Case Against Ashram After Stampede

A criminal negligence case was registered by the police today against the management of the ashram where 63 women and children were killed in a stampede while its head Kripaluji Maharaj remained untraceable.

“A case has been registered under Section 304 (A) (causing death by negligence) against Kripaluji Parishad, under the banner of which yesterday’s function was organised”, Pratapgarh Superintendent of Police Mahesh Kumar Mishra told PTI.

The stampede broke out yesterday at the ashram of Kripaluji Maharaj in Mangarh village, about 60 kms from here, where a feast had been organised for poor villagers in the memory of the Maharaj’s wife.

Circle officer Ikpal Singh said the 88-year-old Maharaj had fled some two hours after the stampede and is yet to be traced.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condoled the deaths and announced ex-gratia payment of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased.

Singh, who was speaking in the Lok Sabha, also announced Rs 50,000 from the National Relief Fund to those seriously injured. 28 persons suffered serious injuries.

An FIR has already been filed against the organisers and managers of the function at the ashram at the Kunda police station. No one has been specifically named in the case.

Officials said all the deceased have been identified and their bodies handed over to family members after post-mortem.

The sprawling ashram, about 60 kms from here, wore a deserted look today even as a heavy police contingent was deployed there.

There were conflicting versions with regard to arrangements made for yesterday’s event with police saying the ashram management had not informed authorities about the gathering of thousands of people.

Superintendent of Police Mahesh Misra said no permission had been sought from district authorities while Rajneesh Puri of the ashram claimed the administration had been informed about it on February 25 itself but no arrangements were made for it.

The state government has blamed the ashram’s management for the tragedy, saying the local administration was never informed about the holding a function of a huge magnitude.

However, local MLA Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya, who yesterday visited the site of the incident, rubbished the claim saying “everybody in Pratapgarh is aware that a gathering of this magnitude takes place here on this day”.

The victims were crushed in the stampede when around 10,000 people scrambled for free meals and to receive a stainless steel plate, Rs 10 in cash, a ‘laddoo’ and a handkerchief from the Ashram.

Some 50 families searching for their missing relatives have visited the ashram since yesterday. Though the ashram has been kept out of bounds by the police, families have been trickling there looking for their near and dear ones.

The administration has made preparations for the last rites of the victims at various ghats in the city.

The Uttar Pradesh government has ordered an inquiry into the stampede and asked the Divisional Commissioner of Allahabad to submit his report.

Will Insulate People From High Food Prices: PM

Noting that the government has been concerned over high food prices over the last one year, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said all practical measures would be taken to provide relief to people.

Replying to the debate on Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address in the Lok Sabha, he said the government was working to overcome the twin-impact of failure of monsoons and global economic crisis with an objective of reaching the double-digit growth.

He said India will end the current financial year with GDP growth of 7.2 to 7.5 per cent while exuding confidence of achieving eight per cent in the next fiscal (2010-11) and return to nine per cent in subsequent year.

“I am confident that economic fundamentals are strong. If we manage our economy well, if we manage creation of social infrastructure well, there is no barrier to India’s entry in the age of double digit growth,” Singh said in his 55-minute speech.

Responding to concerns expressed by members over rising food prices, he said the government has been equally concerned over the “behaviour of food prices” over the last one year.

He said certain steps have been taken to address the situation and the government was ready to take “any practical” measure that would give relief to people.

The food inflation had touched a decade high of 19.7 per cent in December last year before moderating marginally to about 17 per cent in the recent weeks.

The global economic crisis, that affected virtually every nation, and failure of monsoon here last year were among major reasons for the shortage of essential commodities that contributed to high food prices.

Singh, however, said the way India dealt with the impact of the global economic crisis and failure of the South-West monsoon was praise worthy.

On the prices of sugar which had touched almost Rs 50 a kg, the Prime Minister said prices have been rising due to three-year crop cycle. “We will explore ways and means to check sugar prices,” he added.

Even as the agriculture sector is estimated to register negative growth of two per cent this fiscal mainly because of drought in most parts of the nation, Singh said during the UPA government regime the declining trend has been reversed due to pro-farmer policies.

Agriculture has grown at rate of 4 per cent from 2005 as against 2 per cent from 1997 to 2002.

Menon Arrives in Kabul to Discuss Security of Indians

Carrying certain proposals for ensuring security of about 4,000 Indians in Afghanistan, National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon arrived here today to discuss the issue with the Afghan leadership.

During his two-day visit, Menon will meet President Hamid Karzai and some other leaders of Afghanistan.

Soon after his arrival, Menon held discussions with Indian Ambassador Jayant Prasad with regard to safety of 4,000 nationals working on various developmental and reconstruction projects across Afghanistan in the backdrop of last Friday’s attack here.

Indian government has evolved certain proposals for the security of its nationals and these will be discussed by Menon with the Afghan authorities, sources said.

The proposals include setting up of protected venues where the Indians working on projects could be housed.

There are also suggestions for deploying security personnel at places where Indians work.

“There is a limit to what Indian government can do there. Ultimately, the Afghan authorities have to take steps to secure the Indians there,” a source said.

The sources noted that Afghan government has always been cooperative in this regard and expressed confidence that it would take further steps to upgrade security of Indians.

As part of India’s USD 1.3 billion assistance, about 4,000 Indians are working on various projects in areas like healthcare, power, education and social sector.

The review of their security has been necessitated after last Friday’s attack in two hotels in Kabul, targeting Indians specifically. Seven Indians, including three Major rank army officers, were killed and nine others, including five army officers were injured in the attack.

The attack of February 26 reflected a change of strategy by the terrorists as they chose soft targets rather than secure installations like the Embassy or Consulates and their protected personnel as in the past.

After the terror strike, Karzai assured Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that his government would take extra measures to protect Indians.

Besides discussing security, Menon is also expected to enquire about the progress of investigation into the incident.

Afghan authorities have said the attack was carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba. However, investigators suspect involvement of Taliban faction of Haqqani too.

I Did Not Say Indians Were Not Targeted: Holbrooke

In the face of US media reports that Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) searched for Indians in last week’s deadly attack in Kabul, a top US diplomat has regretted his remarks suggesting Indians were not targeted.

“I regret any misunderstanding caused by my comments on the recent terrorist attack in Kabul, which claimed the lives of 6 Indians and at least ten citizens of other nations,” US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard C Holbrooke said on Friday.

“I did not say Indians were not targeted, but that initially it looked like the target was not an official Indian facility,” he said. “Early reports on events like this are often unreliable, and I try not to jump to conclusions.”

Reacting to the comments by the special envoy, official sources had said these were surprising considering the fact that the Afghan government has clearly stated that attack was against Indians and carried out by Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), whose sworn agenda is to target Indian interests.

Seven Indians, including three Major-rank army officers, associated with developmental projects were killed and nine others, including four army officers, were injured in the attack in Kabul last week that was reminiscent of 26/11.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has termed it as an attack on Indians.

“We all know that Indian citizens have and continue to be targeted by terrorists, including inside Afghanistan,” Holbrooke said adding, “My heart goes out to the families of all of the victims.”

“The Afghan people and international community deeply appreciate the very substantial humanitarian and reconstruction assistance that India provides Afghanistan,” he said in a bid to soothe any ruffled feathers in New Delhi.

“The willingness of India to take risks and make sacrifices to help Afghanistan is a testament to India’s commitment to global peace and prosperity and a vital part of the international commitment to Afghanistan’s future,” Holbrooke said.

At a media briefing here Tuesday Holbrooke had said, “First of all, in regard to this attack, I don’t accept the fact that this was an attack on an Indian facility like the embassy.”

“There were foreigners, non-Indian foreigners hurt. It was a soft target. And let’s not jump to conclusions,” he told reporters when asked how Indians in Afghanistan could feel safe in the wake of last week’s attack.

“I understand why everyone in Pakistan and everyone in India always focuses on the other. But please, let’s not draw a conclusion which – for which there’s no proof,” he said.

Sonia Gandhi inaugurates Northeast’s first post-graduate medical institute

The first ever post-graduate medical institute in the Northeast region on the lines of the prestigious AIIMS was today formally inaugurated by Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

The premier North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute for Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS), which opened in 2002, was conceived by Rajiv Gandhi nearly two decades ago and will have the best healthcare facilities.

“Today, an important aspect of Rajiv Gandhi’s vision has been fully realised with the inauguration of NEIGRIHMS. It has an important role to play in research and treatment,” she said.

The institute has the most sophisticated cardiology department in the region, well-equipped neurology and urology cells and a 30-bed Intensive Care Unit.

Referring to the shortage of faculty, Gandhi said government would ensure sustained support to attract and retain the best of talents.

Currently, there are 39 faculty members, besides 68 senior resident doctors and around 70 junior resident doctors.

The institute is being equipped with 35 speciality and super-speciality departments, Union health and family welfare minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said.

Designed on the lines of AIIMS, New Delhi, and PGIMER, Chandigarh, the institute is the only postgraduate medical institute in the North Eastern region and the third in the country established by ministry of health and family welfare.

Envisaged in 1987 during the prime ministership of Rajiv Gandhi, the institute is spread over 275 acres in Mawdiangdiang on the outskirts of the city. Over Rs550 crore has been spent so far in setting it up.

Big B in CNN’s top 25 Asian actors list

Bollywood legends Guru Dutt, Nargis, Meena Kumari, Amitabh Bachchan and Pran have been named the list of CNN’s top 25 Asian actors of all time.

The list has been prepared ahead of the Oscar night on March 7 and has actors from India, China, Japan, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Korea. With five actors listed, India has highest number of entries.

“In the history of the Academy Awards only two Asians have ever taken home Best Actor or Actress statue (we don’t count Ben Kingsley as true Asian). Yet Asia has produced incredibly talented thespians that have changed the course of their nations cinematic history,” CNN said.

Comparing Guru Dutt to Orson Welles (Citizen Kane), the website said the actor-filmmaker ushered in the golden era in Hindi cinema with movies like Pyaasa and Kaagaz Ke Phool. He has been named in the list “because of his soulful acting”. His role of a struggling poet 1957 movie Pyaasa has been named his best performance.

Bachchan, 67, has been picked up for his role of brooding inspector Khanna in Zanjeer, which cemented the actor’s image as the ‘angry young man’ of Indian cinema.

Pran, who starred in close to 300 Indian films has been described as the pre-eminent villain of Hindi cinema.

Nargis has been described as one of the greatest actresses in the history of cinema with her “versatility and natural expression”.

Ready to talk to any group that abjures violence: Manmohan

Describing as “satisfactory” the overall internal security situation last year, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday told the Lok Sabha that the government is ready to talk to any separatist group that abjures violence unconditionally and agrees to abide by the constitutional process.

Speaking on the Maoist menace, Manmohan Singh said the government has drawn up an integrated action plan to tackle the problem in consultation with the concerned states.

“We are taking firm action to curb the Naxalite (Maoist) violence. It is unfortunate that they are targeting innocent people and destroying roads, power lines and other essential infrastructure. In some places, we have received reports of the use of children,” he said.

“While we are determined to take firm action, we are ready to talk to any group that abjures violence unconditionally and agrees to abide by the due constitutional process,” he added.

“The overall security situation in the country has remained satisfactory in the last year. A number of concrete steps have been taken to strengthen and reorient our security architecture in order to meet the growing threats of terrorism, insurgency and communalism,” he said.

The prime minister said the National Investigation Agency (NIA), a federal agency to probe terror, has commenced its work. “Four regional hubs of the National Security Guard (NSG) have been set up. We are in the process of setting up a National Counter-Terrorism Centre.”

“A National Committee on Coastal Security has been set up which has adopted an integrated approach to coastal security and has taken major initiatives and decisions for registration of vessels, issue of identity cards to fishermen, installation of transponders on boats and setting up of four Joint Operation Centres. Coastal police stations and interceptor boats have become operational under the Coastal Security Scheme,” he added.

Navy Plane Crash:Investigators Found the Cockpit Voice Recorder

Hyderabad: A day after the Kiran MK-II trainer aircraft of the Navy had crashed into a residential complex at New Bowenpally in Secunderabad killing the pilot and the co-pilot, an investigating team from the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) visited the accident site today to probe the causes and circumstances that led to the crash.

In a precautionary measure, municipal authorities and police evacuated all the eight families residing in the building and an inquiry was ordered by the Secunderabad Cantonment Board into whether the building had all the required permissions or not. Municipal authorities felt that at least the damaged portion of the building needed to be demolished lest it should impact the structural stability of the whole building but the investigating agencies asked them not to do any such thing till their probe was complete. “We were asked to cordon the entire area and not to touch the building till they complete their investigation,’’ a senior police official said.

Sources said the investigators identified the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) which was lying in a pool of water in the debris but it was not taken out. They also found the charred remains of the legs of the pilot. The Navy teams are likely to retrieve the parts of the aircraft, which are of high cost, before giving permission for demolition of the building.

With the debris and the tail piece of the aircraft still enmeshed in the building, police evacuated the eight families from the building owned by a civil engineer, L Ramesh Kumar, this morning.

Meanwhile, the SCB constituted a three-member panel to probe whether the building owner had the permission to construct the pent house and mobile phone towers. The landlord, on the other hand, is demanding `adequate’ compensation for the loss of his property.

“I will meet Chief Minister K Rosaiah and plead my case with him,’’ he said but remained tightlipped on whether he had the permission for the pent house and mobile phone towers.

“Giving compensation depends on whether he had the mandatory permissions.

Otherwise, he would be penalised for unauthorised construction,’’ an SCB official said.

Meanwhile, the mishap site continues to draw huge crowds creating impediments to the investigators and the police.

All the roads leading to the crash site have been cordoned off causing inconvenience to the locals and causing traffic congestion.

Bowenpally police registered a suo motu case of the accident and are investigating.

Attack on Indians in Kabul will not bend our will: PM

Manmohan Singh

I wish to assure this House that such attacks will not bend the will of the people of India: PM

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday declared that the recent ‘cowardly’ act of terrorists to target Indians on goodwill mission in Kabul would not ‘bend the will’ of India to help people of Afghanistan.

Replying to a debate in Parliament on Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address, he referred to the February 26 attack and said the entire nation was outraged by the incident in which seven innocent Indian lives were lost.

“These Indian nationals were in Afghanistan on a mission of goodwill and friendship helping to construct the peaceful and democratic Afghanistan that our Afghan friends desire. We condemn this cowardly act,” he said.

Noting that India’s assistance has received widespread support among the people of Afghanistan, he said, “I wish to assure this House that such attacks will not bend the will of the people of India.”

He said India will assist the people of Afghanistan in “securing their legitimate right to determine their destiny in the manner they chose without outside interference.”

Referring to President Hamid Karzai’s telephone call to him after the attack, Singh said he had requested him to ensure the safety of all Indians.

“I assured him of any support and assistance that may be required,” the Prime Minister said about his talk with Karzai. He said India was closely monitoring the developments with regard to Afghanistan.

Pak FO says no to Indo-Pak meet in Washington

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is unlikely to meet his Indian counterpart Dr. Manmohan Singh in Washington, where they are scheduled to attend the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington on April 12 and 13.

Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) spokesman Abdul Basit said he is unaware of any such meeting between the two leaders on the sidelines of the upcoming summit.

“I don’t know yet,” The Daily Times quoted Basit, as saying.

The focus of the conference hosted by President Barack Obama is on securing vulnerable nuclear materials and preventing acts of “nuclear terrorism”.

The White House has invited 44 countries to the summit, though the list of delegates has not been finalised yet.

“The purpose of the summit is to discuss steps we can collectively take to secure vulnerable nuclear materials and prevent acts of nuclear terrorism,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs had said earlier.

Presence of water in Moon path-breaking discovery: Nair

Describing the recent discovery of thick ice deposits on the Moon as path-breaking, former ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair said it opens up a vast avenue for human exploration.

“This is the first time NASA and ISRO have confirmed the availability of water on moon. Huge ice sheets were found in the polar regions of the moon. This is a path-breaking finding as it was earlier believed there was a vacuum in the moon,” Nair, during whose tenure unmanned lunar mission Chandrayaan I was launched, said.

“The presence of water gives many ideas. Water can be split with sunlight to get oxygen and hydrogen. While oxygen can be used by human explorers, hydrogen can be used as fuel either to generate electricity or use as rocket fuel for the return journey or even attempt a Mars mission from the Moon,” he said.

Indian toddler found dead in Australia, police hunts for killer

Australian police are hunting the killer of a three-year-old Indian toddler who was found dead after he went missing from his house here.

The Victorian state police said a toddler’s body was found on Thursday evening by a council worker in long grass matched the description of missing boy Gurshan Singh Kaurchanna who went missing from Lalor suburb.

Gurhsan was in Australia on holiday with his family and was due to return to India later this week. The body was found around 30 kms away from his residence.

Reacting to the incident, Victorian premier, Mr John Brumby, said: “This is an unthinkable tragedy. My heart goes out to the young boy’s family in what must be such a terrible time. Police will do everything in their power to establish who is responsible and bring them to justice.”

On Thursday night, a media report quoted the deputy police commissioner, Mr Ken Jones, as saying “Clearly, the circumstances are suspicious so we are fearing the worst.”

“We are treating it as a homicide,” Mr Jones said adding that police were probing number of areas and there were no suspects at this stage.

The toddler’s mother, Harpreet Kaur Channa, rang the police after he had been missing for 45 minutes, prompting a massive search involving more than 15 police units, the dog squad and air wing.

Mr Jones said the boy’s body was found fully clothed in blue jeans and a grey top. But he said he could not say how he died.

Mr Jones said the boy’s Punjabi-speaking parents were talking with police interpreters and were due to formally identify the body later on Thursday night.

He further said “I would ask for calm and support from media to allow investigators time and space to conclude a thorough investigation.”

The deputy police commissioner said the Victoria police would use every resource at its disposal and investigate every possibility to ensure the killer was brought to justice.

“We are not ruling anything in or anything out,” he said.
“If foul play has taken place we will do everything in our power to find out what has taken place and to bring people to justice,” he added.

Harpreet Kaur, who is studying in Australia, and another member of the household frantically searched the home when they realised that he had disappeared.

When they couldn’t find the boy, Ramen Deep Singh, the cousin of the boy’s father, Mr Harjit Singh, called the police.

A huge air and ground search was mounted and police called for help from the public to find the youngster.

The search was stepped up about 4pm (local time) when 50 volunteers joined 15 police units and the police airwing in the huge hunt. “Maybe someone picked him up – whatever. I don’t know,” Ms Kaur had said before the body was found.

Depressed Raja attempts suicide

Depressed Raja attempts suicide

Actor Raja enacts a real life drama — he attempted suicide by consuming a few sleeping pills, went to the hospital for a stomach wash, then wrote to the State Human Rights Commission stating that his film Inkokasari, which released in February, doesn’t have enough theatres to screen it.
“How many times can we postpone the release of our film? No one was willing to give us theatres to screen Inkokasari. Despite working hard on the film, my producer had no choice but to run from pillar to post to try and release it. I was depressed about this ‘unavailability of theatres’ and it drove me to attempt suicide,” Raja admitted to this correspondent.
Raja blamed the bigger players who were responsible. “Filmmakers like Allu Aravind, Suresh Babu and Dil Raju own several theatres across the state. They have a stronghold on most of these theatres and it is a monopoly. The entire industry is being controlled by a few such people who conveniently ignore small budget films,” he says. “They constantly ask us to delay the release of our films because big budget movies are slated for release on that day.”
The actor, who is also active in politics, says it is time the government steps in to allot specific theatres for small budget movies. He has also requested the state commission to enforce the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act in this case.
Although several small filmmakers have spoken about this monopoly, this is the first time that an actor has come out in the open with it. “Most theatres are owned by a few film families. As a result star sons and actors from such families have an unfair advantage over us. They even have bigger collections. I am fighting not just for my film but for all the small movies which are waiting to hit the screens,” says Raja.

D. Suresh Babu, producer
It is very unfortunate that Raja has made such allegations against us. It only puts him in poor light. There are six multiplexes in the city which are not owned by anyone from the industry. Why couldn’t Raja get prime shows for his film? He should realise that if the movie is good distributors will come forward to screen it. There is no monoploy. Distributors will be interested in screening movies of big stars as they have huge fan following and they have high expectations from them.

RK, producer, actor
Some of the bigger filmmakers own several theatres and dominate Tollywood. They are killing the film industry. But when we went on a hunger strike last year, Raja was nowhere to be seen. None of the other actors supported us either. Raja is reportedly charging Rs 40 lakh for his latest film why can’t he reduce that to help his producer? Big or small budget, if the movie is good, only then will distributors show interest.

50 ships stuck in Baltic Sea ice

Stockholm: Around 50 ships, including large ferries carrying thousands, were stuck in the ice in the Baltic Sea, with many unable to move until on Friday, Swedish maritime authorities said.

Several vessels, including at least one passenger ferry carrying more than 1,000 people, had collided with each other as they drifted amid huge blocks of moving ice.
But the Viking Line ferry company insisted “there was at no time any danger to the passengers.”

Around 50 commercial vessels and as many as six large passenger ferries had been stuck in the ice on Thursday, said Mr Johny Lindvall of the Swedish Maritime administration’s ice breaker unit.

Nasa’s high-tech GOES-P weather satellite lifts off

Washington: Nasa has launched the latest in its family of high-tech meteorological satellites, adding to a constellation of spacecraft that watch storm development and weather conditions on Earth.

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-P (GOES-P) lifted off from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 11.57 GMT on Thursday on a Delta IV rocket which will carry the weather-watching satellite to its orbit around 35,406 km above the Earth’s surface.

“GOES-P is on its way into orbit to begin a 10-year mission to keep a watchful eye on our world,” Nasa said on Thursday on the satellite’s launch blog, noting that all systems were performing “exactly as expected.”

Once it reaches its orbit, GOES-P will collect and send back to Earth data that will be used by scientists to monitor weather, make forecasts and issue warnings about meteorological incidents.

The satellite will also detect ocean and land temperatures, monitor space weather, relay communications and provide search-and-rescue support.

GOES-P is the latest in a long line of GOES satellites, the first of which was launched in 1975.

The satellite will drop its letter suffix for a number, becoming GOES-15 once it is in space.

Salman Khan hospitalised for breathlessness

Bollywood actor Salman Khan is known for professionalism but he paid a huge price for it a few days ago. He was hospitalised after shooting a gruelling sequence which required him to run through fire several times

Salman ended up in the hospital after shooting a challenging scene for his brother Arbaz Khan’s debut production Dabang in Satara district. He shot for a particular scene involving fire for several times to get the perfect shot. But he was rushed to the hospital after complaining of breathlessness.
Sources said that the actor returned the next day for shooting in spite of the doctor’s advice to take rest for a couple of days. It added that he continued shooting against medical advice, as he didn’t want to interrupt the shooting schedule.

Well, Salman should take care of his health. After all, money can’t buy health.

BSNL’s 3G services rolled out in state of Andhra Pradesh

State-run telco, BSNL introduced its 3G services in the state of Andhra Pradesh for its subscribers to the pre-paid and post-paid services.

In the initial phase for the launch of the 3G services in Andhra Pradesh, 29 cities and towns across the state would be covered including the state capital Hyderabad. Later the telecom operator plans to extend its reach.

The 3G services are being provided by BSNL in two plans for the pre-paid customers, namely, 3G 120 general and 3G 120 promo. As for the post-paid customers, the 3G service pack brings in several options.

Being services delivered on the third-generation of the mobile technology, the users have a more enriching multi-media experience on their cell phones. The 3G platform provides faster download speed for video and data, has the facility to make video calls, can avail mobile TV broadcast, video conferencing among others extensive services.

For video calls BSNL has fixed the charges at 70 paise per minute for local calls and Re. 1 for national calls. The download charges are Paisa 1 for 10 kbps of data.

State-run telcos MTNL and BSNL are the only players that are authorised to provide 3G services in the Indian region. The private players are expected to enter the 3G services domain later this year after the auction and allocation of spectrum is completed by the government to them.

House passes $15 billion jobs bill

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about health care in the East Room of the White House in Washington Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The United States House of Representatives today followed the Senate in passing a jobs bill of $15 billion and thereby setting the ball rolling for President Obama’s top priority for 2010 – tackling unemployment.

With a 217-201 vote largely along partisan lines the Hiring Incentive to Restore Employment Act (the “HIRE Act”) offers a payroll tax holiday for businesses that hire unemployed workers and an income tax credit of $1,000 for businesses that retain these employees. The bill passed in the Senate a few weeks ago, by a vote of 70-28 and it remains to be signed into law by Mr. Obama

While the bill is significantly smaller than the $787 billion American Reinvestment and Recovery Act – more commonly known as the stimulus package – that was passed approximately a year ago, it offers a range of supports designed to boost new hiring.

Apart from the tax holiday and credits, the bill also provides for the extension of the Highway Trust Fund, “allowing for tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure investment”, according to a statement by the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.

Further the bill contains provisions based on the Build America Bonds programme, she said, and aims to simplify the process for states to borrow for infrastructure projects, including school construction and energy projects.

Speaking on the floor of the House after the vote Ms. Pelosi said, “We must be unrelenting in our efforts to create more jobs”. However the House Republicans charged their Democrat colleagues with fiscal profligacy.

Mike Pence, Chairman of the House Republican Conference, said, “A one-time government handout is not going to create jobs – only immediate and permanent tax relief for working families, small businesses and family farms will help get businesses hiring again”.

Stressing the need for across the board tax relief, not “Carter era wage subsidies” to unemployed workers, he also raised objections to the bill for transferring $19.5 billion from the government’s general fund to the highway trust fund.

Mr. Spence pointed out that the general fund was running a $1.6 trillion deficit making it inappropriate to “prop up an insolvent highway trust fund with an insolvent general fund”.