Facebook new branch in Hyderabad

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Hyderabad (PTI): Social networking site Facebook announced on Monday that it will set up its office in Hyderabad to support the growing number of users, advertisers and developers in India and globally.

Facebook has seen exponential growth in recent months and has more than eight million active users in India, it said in a statement.

The rising popularity of Facebook has also come as a threat to various other social networking sites like Orkut, MySpace and Flickr.

It has more than 400 million active users worldwide.

The centre will house online advertising and developer support teams and provide round-the-clock, multi-lingual support to its users and advertisers globally, it further said.

The new centre in Hyderabad will supplement operations out of California, Dublin, Ireland and a recently announced location in Austin, Texas.

It has already started its hiring procedure for the Hyderabad centre.

“We expect our new office in Hyderabad to tap into the region’s strong pool of talented people who understand operations and technology, and help us more effectively serve the needs of our users, advertisers, and developers around the world,” Facebook Director (Global Online Operations) Don Faul said.

British universities cool to India campus plans

Buffeted by major funding cuts, major British universities have noted the Indian Cabinet’s approval this week of a bill allowing foreign universities to set up campuses in India, but have no immediate plans to do so.

The Manmohan Singh government approved Foreign Educational Institution (Regulation of Entry and Operation) Bill, 2010, that is expected to raise the quality and quantity of higher education to meet India’s growing demands for skilled manpower.

Forced by a gnawing budget deficit amidst recession, the Gordon Brown government recently announced major funding cuts to British universities, forcing the closure of several subject departments and job losses in the near future.

The universities have become increasingly reliant on the income generated by high fee-paying of international students from India and other countries outside the European Union. It is not yet clear if setting up campuses in India will hit this major income stream.

Spokespersons of the universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Imperial College, London, told PTI that they did not have immediate plans to set up campuses in India, but would continue to build on their existing collaboration and others links with Indian institutions.

British universities have a large number of agents in India and have long standing research and teaching links with Indian institutions. However, the initial reaction to the Bill’s approval has been cautious.

The University of Nottingham is one of the few British universities with campuses in China and Malaysia.

Many other universities offer degrees abroad through collaborative links with local institutions, but are reluctant to open full campuses abroad to avoid risk to reputation and lack of quality control.

An Oxford spokesman said: “Oxford University has no plans in the foreseeable future to offer full degree courses anywhere other than Oxford itself and so has no plans to establish an overseas campus. However, Oxford conducts research and some non-degree teaching in many countries of the world, and India is a very important country for us. We have many links with India already and are keen to continue to develop our involvement in the country.”

There are 300 Indian students currently enrolled at Imperial College, London, which has several ‘fruitful’ collaboration links with Indian institutions. Some reports suggested that Imperial College would be one of the first foreign institutions to set up a campus in India, but spokeswoman Abigail Smith said: “In January we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Indian Institute of Technology Ropar, in the presence of Kapil Sibal, Minister for Human Resources Development, and Lord Mandelson.”

“Imperial is keen to explore opportunities for further research and teaching links with India in the future,” Ms. Smith said.

A Cambridge university spokesman said: “The Government of India is developing and implementing a major strategy dramatically to increase the scope, depth and capacity of Indian higher education. It is thus timely for the university to take stock and to consider how to build on these foundations to develop new ways in which we work with Indian counterparts in academia, industry and government to develop and strengthen the country’s higher education provision, research capacity and impact.”

He added: “The pattern of India’s development, its demography, its industrial structure, its projections for economic growth and its agenda for community development place a spotlight on the pivotal position of higher education.

“While there are no immediate plans to open up a Cambridge University campus in India, we note the alignment between Cambridge’s multi-disciplinary strengths and Indian academia and we are exploring appropriate ways to scale up our collaborations and partnership, for that will be the basis of anything we do.”

When tweets can make you a jailbird

In this file photo, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Scoville displays part of the Facebook page, and an enlarged profile photo, of fugitive Maxi Sopo in Seattle

 Maxi Sopo was having so much fun “living in paradise” in Mexico that he posted about it on Facebook so all his friends could follow his adventures. Others were watching, too: A federal prosecutor in Seattle, where Sopo was wanted on bank fraud charges.

Tracking Sopo through his public “friends” list, the prosecutor found his address and had Mexican authorities arrest him. Instead of sipping pina coladas, Sopo is awaiting extradition to the U.S.

Sopo learned the hard way: The Feds are on Facebook. And MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter, too.

Law enforcement agents are following the rest of the Internet world into popular social-networking services, even going undercover with false online profiles to communicate with suspects and gather private information, according to an internal Justice Department document that surfaced in a lawsuit.

The document shows that U.S. agents are logging on surreptitiously to exchange messages with suspects, identify a target’s friends or relatives and browse private information such as postings, personal photographs and video clips.

Among the purposes: Investigators can check suspects’ alibis by comparing stories told to police with tweets sent at the same time about their whereabouts. Online photos from a suspicious spending spree – people posing with jewelry, guns or fancy cars – can link suspects or their friends to crime.

The Justice document also reminds government attorneys taking cases to trial that the public sections of social networks are a “valuable source” of information on defense witnesses. “Knowledge is power,” says the paper. “Research all witnesses on social networking sites.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based civil liberties group, obtained the 33-page document when it sued the Justice Department and five other agencies in federal court.

A decade ago, agents kept watch over AOL and MSN chat rooms to nab sexual predators. But those text-only chat services are old-school compared with today’s social media, which contain a potential treasure trove of evidence.

The document, part of a presentation given in August by cybercrime officials, describes the value of Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn and other services to investigators. It does not describe in detail the boundaries for using them.

“It doesn’t really discuss any mechanisms for accountability or ensuring that government agents use those tools responsibly,” said Marcia Hoffman, a senior attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which sued to force the government to disclose its policies for using social networking.

The foundation also obtained an Internal Revenue Service document that states IRS employees cannot use deception or create fake accounts to get information.

Sopo’s case did not require undercover work; his carelessness provided the clues. But covert investigations on social-networking services are legal and governed by internal rules, according to Justice Officials. They would not, however, say what those rules are.

The document addresses a social-media bullying case in which U.S. prosecutors charged a Missouri woman with computer fraud for creating a fake MySpace account – effectively the same activity that undercover agents are doing, although for different purposes.

The woman, Lori Drew, posed as a teen boy and flirted with a 13-year-old neighborhood girl. The girl hanged herself in October 2006, in a St. Louis suburb, after she received a message saying the world would be better without her. Drew was convicted of three misdemeanours for violating MySpace’s rules against creating fake accounts. But last year a judge overturned the verdicts, citing the vagueness of the law.

“If agents violate terms of service, is that ‘otherwise illegal activity’?” the document asks. It doesn’t provide an answer.

Facebook’s rules, for example, specify that users “will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission.” Twitter’s rules prohibit users from sending deceptive or false information. MySpace requires that information for accounts be “truthful and accurate.”

A former U.S. cybersecurity prosecutor, Marc Zwillinger, said investigators should be able to go undercover in the online world the same way they do in the real world, even if such conduct is barred by a company’s rules. But there have to be limits, he said.

“This new situation presents a need for careful oversight so that law enforcement does not use social networking to intrude on some of our most personal relationships,” said Zwillinger, whose firm does legal work for Yahoo and MySpace.

The Justice document describes how Facebook, MySpace and Twitter have interacted with federal investigators: Facebook is “often cooperative with emergency requests,” the government said. MySpace preserves information about its users indefinitely and even stores data from deleted accounts for one year. But Twitter’s lawyers tell prosecutors they need a warrant or subpoena before the company turns over customer information, the document says.

“Will not preserve data without legal process,” the document says under the heading, “Getting Info From Twitter … the bad news.”

The chief security officer for MySpace, Hemanshu Nigam, said MySpace doesn’t want to stand in the way of an investigation. “That said, we also want to make sure that our users’ privacy is protected and any data that’s disclosed is done under proper legal process,” Nigam said.

MySpace requires a search warrant for private messages less than six months old, according to the company.

Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said the company has put together a handbook to help law enforcement officials understand “the proper ways to request information from Facebook to aid investigations.”

Recession left ‘walking wounded’ workers

 Many workers around the world have given up hopes of advancing in their jobs, but the bad economy is keeping them from finding new ones.

 Such “walking wounded” workers are increasingly exchanging ambition for job stability, which now even trumps pay as a consideration, according to a biennial survey by the human resources consultancy Towers Watson Co.

 People are becoming “nesters,” who prefer to stay in one career or with one employer for their entire career.

 The report highlights a disconnect between what such “nesters” want and the growing trends that are shaping the global workforce: an increasing emphasis on flexible staff and short-term employment, more offshoring and part-time work.

 “People are increasingly wanting things that are harder to get,” said Max Caldwell, a leader of Towers Watson’s talent and reward business. “They’d like to settle into one or two companies for life. What people want is security, stability and a long-term employment relationship, (which are) increasingly out of reach.”

 Globally, a third of workers prefer to work for one organization their whole life, according to the study, while another third want to work for just two or three employers.

 That preference for “nesting” reflects anxiety about jobs prospects and about factors like healthcare costs and retirement planning, expenses that are increasingly being shifted onto workers rather than carried by employers.

 In the United States, almost twice as many workers expect continued deterioration in the jobs picture as those who expect improvement. A majority — 51 per cent — say there are no career advancement opportunities at their jobs, but nonetheless 81 per cent are not actively looking for a new position.

 Among the study’s other findings:

 * 30 per cent of US workers plan to work past age 70.

 * About half of US workers feel unprepared for planning or managing their retirement.

 * 56 per cent of US workers expect little change in the job market this year.

 * Workers in developing economies like India and China are far more willing to jump from job to job than their counterparts in countries like Germany and the United States.

 The study adds to recent data that indicates a high level of uncertainty about the shape and duration of the economic recovery. Global staffing services firm Manpower Inc said last week its quarterly measure of hiring intentions dipped slightly, suggesting US employees are less willing to hire in the second quarter than in the first.

 ‘WALKING WOUNDED’

 Workers are more risk-averse because the recession has shown them how quickly jobs can disappear, and have become discouraged since a tentative economic recovery has not yet produced significant jobs gains.

 “This notion of a jobless recovery is a very relevant trend, creating an environment with greater risk of disengagement. In some organizations, you have a walking wounded syndrome,” Caldwell said.

 Employers are still focused on managing compensation costs and they are cautious about staffing back up as demand increases, he said.

 That may leave more room for companies to hold down compensation costs. The study, based on a survey of 20,000 workers in 22 countries, hints wage growth for the next few years may be flat or at least less robust than in previous recoveries.

 For employers, the key challenges of managing through the next year or two include motivating workers, by creating an appealing work environment with room to advance or develop new skills, according to the study. Employees, meanwhile, may need to reset expectations lower.

 Still, the recession’s effect on workers was not as profound as that of the Great Depression in the 1930s, Caldwell said. But it was the first deep downturn for an entire generation and is likely to leave a lasting impression, likely making people take on less risk and become less ambitious about their careers.

Ways to avoid getting duped at a petrol station

 Fuel prices are getting dearer by the day but are we getting every drop of fuel paid for? Well, if the outpouring of woes online is any indicator, then no, we have a long way to go to prevent being cheated at fuel stations.

 These are some who have realized the bluff, though may not have taken the outlet to task – but there are many others who aren’t aware of such nefarious deeds. Hence the possibility of them getting duped is even more likely, and often repeatedly.

 So as customers, how can we ensure we aren’t at the receiving end of this trickery? What are the precautions that need to be taken and how do we get our grievances addressed? Here’s more-

 Precautions

 *Keep a keen eye on YOUR fuel pump – especially in the beginning and just before the end of the fill. Avoid all distractions – it’s indeed a blessing that cell phones aren’t allowed in fuel stations. Other distractions like your car stereo or balancing your 2-wheeher can be avoided too.

*Make sure the fuel attendant has heard the amount right. To be doubly sure, ask the attendant to repeat, just as you in restaurants, though this should be a lot easier for him.

*Pay the amount ONLY AFTER the filling is complete. In most cases, either due to our overzealousness or simply being told by the attendant, we often end-up fiddling our pockets or wallets, in the process neglecting the fill.

*Keep track of your fuel indicator during every refill, for this reading can be good source of verification. If your 2-wheeler fuel indicator takes that little longer to reflect, do wait by the side until it shows up. You really wouldn’t want to find out being duped in the middle of traffic.

*Also, it’s a misplaced notion that meters in fuel pumps are tamper-proof. While meter tampering is a grave issue, it can only be checked by specialists. However, this can be checked by informing the concerned fuel company.

In spite of these precautions, if you still get duped, it’s best to file a complaint. Take my word, the process isn’t as cumbersome as one may imagine, in fact it is a lot more effective than creating a ruckus at the petrol station.

You can share your complaint at the ‘Indian Consumer Complaints Forum’ or even better – register it directly with the respective fuel company. Their websites have contact details of various regional offices that you can directly walk-in to as well as an online complaint form and even a toll-free number.

And if you’re wondering if they do ever respond, well, in our case the field-officer from one of the regional offices promptly called to enquire, and ensured that the grievance was addressed. Nevertheless, we could have avoided all this, had we practiced what we just preached 🙂

 –Y! India News

Thai protesters to pour own blood at PM’s house

Thai police officers stand next to a sea of blood after protesters and supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, poured it on the ground at the ruling Democrat Party building on Tuesday in Bangkok

Thai protesters seeking a change of government planned more shock tactics on Wednesday, saying they would pour containers of their own blood at the prime minister’s house in the capital.

Police in riot gear, however, blocked all approaches to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s residence in the Sukhumvit Road area, home to many wealthy Thais and expatriates.

The standoff followed similar “blood sacrifices” on Tuesday at Mr. Abhisit’s office and the headquarters of his Democrat Party. The dramatic acts grabbed attention but put the “Red Shirt” protest movement no closer to its goal of forcing new elections.

The protesters’ march and police cordons halted traffic in one direction on Sukhumvit Road, a major thoroughfare, paralyzing parts of the neighbourhood. Restaurants closed their doors and residents of luxury condos were prevented from driving out of the area of Mr. Abhisit’s house.

Mr. Abhisit himself has been sleeping at an army headquarters and taking trips out of the city since the demonstrations began.

“We heard they were coming so I stayed in. Sure enough we’re blocked in now,” said John Bujnosh, a Texas oil driller who lives on the same street as Mr. Abhisit.

More than 100,000 demonstrators from all over the country gathered in Bangkok on Sunday, vowing to continue their protest until victory. But Mr. Abhisit has rejected their demands to dissolve Parliament, saying only that he will listen to the protesters’ point of view and leaving the situation in a stalemate.

Reporters asked one of the protest leaders, Veera Musikapong, what their next move would be, and he replied, “I want to know that myself.” He said the group maps strategy on a day—by—day basis.

The protesters consist of supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted by a 2006 military coup for alleged corruption, and pro—democracy activists who opposed the army takeover. They believe Mr. Abhisit came to power illegitimately with the connivance of the military and other parts of the traditional ruling class who were alarmed by Mr. Thaksin’s popularity, particularly among the poor.

Thailand has been in political turmoil since early 2006, when anti—Thaksin demonstrations began. In 2008, when Mr. Thaksin’s political allies came back to power for a year, his “Yellow Shirt” opponents occupied the prime minister’s office compound for three months and seized Bangkok’s two airports for a week.

On Tuesday, thousands of Red Shirts formed long lines to have their blood drawn by nurses to spill at Government House, the prime minister’s office. Leaders claimed to have collected 300,000 cubic centimeters (80 gallons).

A few teaspoons of blood were drawn from each volunteer and then transferred into dozens of large plastic water jugs that were passed overhead through the crowd of cheering protesters before being delivered to Government House.

The Red Shirts say that if the people are willing to sacrifice their blood, Mr. Abhisit should show similar spirit by relinquishing power.

Riot police allowed protest leaders to approach the front gate and pour out the blood, which oozed under the gate as national television broadcast the images live. A purported Brahmin priest in ceremonial robes performed an unorthodox black magic ritual on the Red Shirts’ behalf.

“The blood of the common people is mixing together to fight for democracy,” another Red Shirt leader, Natthawut Saikua, told cheering supporters. “When Abhisit works in his office, he will be reminded that he is sitting on the people’s blood.” Mr. Abhisit has not entered his office at Government House since preliminary protests started on Friday.

Minutes afterward, a government medical cleanup team in white coats, face masks and rubber gloves hosed down the site. Health authorities had warned that the protest risked spreading disease if infected blood splashed bystanders.

Hundreds of protesters then marched and rode pickup trucks and motorcycles to the nearby ruling Democrat Party headquarters and splashed several more jugs of blood on the pavement outside.

Police Gen. Wichai Sangprapai, said the number of demonstrators had dropped from about 100,000 Sunday to about 90,000.

Surat Horachaikul, a political scientist at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, said he believed the protest organizers lacked plans for their next step and that the protests might end in a few days.

“If nothing comes out of this rally, the government is likely going to become more stable,” he said. “Their movement will continue to put some pressure on the government, but Mr. Abhisit’s administration will be able to stay in power in the next 8—12 months.”

Despite continued anxiety over possible violence, the Stock Exchange of Thailand and Thai baht currency have remained stable.

Many Bangkok residents, even those sympathetic to the Red Shirt cause, say they are simply tired of the years of turmoil that have hurt the economy.

“I’m not fed up with Thai politics. I still read the newspaper every day, but I want the protest to stop as soon as possible. My business would be better, I hope,” said Suwan Pana—ngham, a downtown food vendor.

Dozens killed in bus accident in Afghan mountains

At least 30 people are dead after a bus plunged off a road near the Salang Pass, a major route through the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan.

Dr. Sanim Rasouli, health director in Baghlan province, says the bus picked up speed, struck other vehicles and then plunged off the road about 70 miles (115 kilometers) north of the capital, Kabul.

He says dozens of people – some of them children – burned to death when the bus caught fire.

The Afghan Interior Ministry reports that 35 people died in the accident just north of the 12,700—foot (3,800—meter) —high Salang Pass, the site of an avalanche earlier this year that killed more than 170 people.

CBSE set to become international board from next session

After deciding to make Class X board exam optional, India’s premier school board CBSE is set to go global by introducing a new syllabus for international students and would affiliate any school from any country from the next academic session.

The Central Board of Secondary Education would introduce a new syllabus to make it on par with international boards like International Baccalaureate (IB).

The new syllabus will be only meant for international students and will be taught in the interested affiliated schools from abroad.

“From next session, the CBSE will introduce a separate curriculum for international students. This will help the board to become an international board like IB,” a HRD Ministry official told PTI.

However, CBSE will continue its existing curriculum for domestic students.

The new curriculum will be of international standards and give a global perspective to the subjects of study.

Citing an example, the official said while the subject of history in the existing syllabus mainly deals with Indian history, the new syllabus will focus on world history.

Similarly, the syllabus of all subjects would be made keeping in view the curriculum of international boards.

The CBSE would introduce the new syllabus in Class I and Class IX in the next session. Then every year, the new syllabus would be introduced in a new class.

“Over a few years, CBSE will have international standard syllabus for all classes,” he said.

The board at present has affiliated schools in a number of Gulf countries and Singapore. However, such schools are mainly started by the Indian diaspora there.

The new curriculum will help even other schools in any country to opt for the CBSE system and get affiliated to it.

“CBSE, in the process, will be an alternative to any international school boards,” the official said.

This will help the students of those schools better compete at international level. It will be easier for them to study anywhere in the world.

The new curriculum will give more importance to activity-based teaching. More project works and practical experiences will be the thrust, the official said.

CBSE has set up a committee which is working on the new syllabus. The syllabus will be ready within a month.

Fiji cyclone damage overwhelming, leader says

SUVA, Fiji — The South Pacific island nation of Fiji has suffered overwhelming damage from a powerful cyclone that battered its shores for more than three days, the prime minister said Wednesday as relief operations were launched in the country’s northern regions.

Fiji sent naval patrol boats laden with supplies and support staff sailing for the northern islands that bore the full brunt of the storm, while Australian and New Zealand air force planes began airlifting emergency supplies to the island group and carrying out surveillance over affected northern areas.

Only one death has been reported, but the full extent of the damage has yet to be determined because communications to the hardest hit areas were cut off for days.

“It is evident that wherever (Cyclone) Tomas has struck, the damage has been overwhelming,” Commodore Frank Bainimarama, Fiji’s prime minister and military chief, said Wednesday as the first reports began to roll in.

Cyclone Tomas, packing winds of up to 130 mph (205 kph) at its center and gusts of up to 175 mph (280 kph), started hitting Fiji late Friday. It blasted through the northern Lau and Lomaiviti island groups and the northern coast of the second biggest island, Vanua Levu, before losing strength as it moved out to sea Wednesday, the nation’s weather office said.

Matt Boterhoven, senior forecaster at Fiji’s Tropical Cyclone Center, said “the good news is it’s accelerating away from Fiji … and weakening in the cooler waters.”

All storm and strong wind warnings for Fiji have been canceled, he said. Earlier, sea surges of up to 23 feet (7 meters) were reported in the Lau island group, which was hit head-on by the cyclone, he said.

A nationwide curfew was lifted Wednesday, but a state of emergency will remain in effect for 30 days in the country’s northern and eastern divisions.

On the northern island of Koro, seven of the 14 villages have been badly damaged, said Julian Hennings, a spokesman for the island’s Dere Bay Resort.

“Some of the houses have blown away. A lot of trees have been uprooted, some of the roads have been blocked off because the waves have picked up rocks and coral and have dumped it on the road,” he said. One of four landing jetties was also severely damaged.

Tiny Cikobia Island, home to about 400 people, suffered four days of hammering from the cyclone, which smashed houses, uprooted trees, washed away all local boats and scattered debris across the island, Fiji Broadcasting Corp. reported Wednesday.

It received a brief phone call from an unnamed man at Vuninuku village on the island who said damage was so massive that it would take two days to clear the way to the only school near the village.

Before it could get the villager’s name, the phone line to the island went dead again, the state-owned station said. A surveillance flight will check the island later Wednesday and a navy patrol boat is expected to reach there Thursday.

National Disaster Management Office spokesman Pajiliai Dobui said aerial surveillance was already under way over some northern islands “and we hope to tell from the air how serious the damage has been.”

Offshore islands remained out of all contact “so we have still not got any word about casualties,” he said.

Power, water, sewage and communications were still disrupted in many northern areas, but a key airport at Labasa in northern Vanua Levu had reopened for emergency supply flights.

Troops have been deployed to provide relief, including food, water and basic supplies.

Anthony Blake, relief coordinator at the Disaster Management Office, said shelter was top priority after preliminary reports indicated Tomas had caused “extensive damage” to the Lau group and the northern island of Cikobia.

“The people are living in caves at the moment,” he said.

A New Zealand air force Hercules airplane that surveyed some northern areas found that “quite a few villages look like they have been hit pretty hard,” Squadron Leader Kavae Tamariki told New Zealand’s Stuff news Web site.

Many homes had lost their roofs and some houses were destroyed, he said, adding that not many people were seen. “We think they have fled to safety inland,” Tamariki said.

Fiji’s commissioner for its northern region, Col. Inia Seruratu, who was on board the flight, said he was confident most people were safe since they had received plenty of warning.

——–Associated Press

Facebook to begin hiring in Hyderbad

Hyderabad: The popular social networking site Facebook is all set to begin its operations in India at Hyderabad and is currently looking for an India head

Besides ‘looking for a person who can set up India team and scale it up’ as India head, the company has plans of recruiting local language specialists, online sales managers and IT security heads. The hiring process will begin in few weeks.

The company’s director of global online operations Don Faul, who arrived in India on Tuesday, Mar 16, told the media that he is scanning CVs for the post of India Head.

Speaking to Economic Times on how big the Hyderabad team would be, Faul said, “We will start small. Currently, we are looking for a person who can set up an India team and scale it up. The required skill sets obviously include strong insights into consumer internet experience. We also need the person to be intensely passionate about Facebook. The person should strengthen relations with our advertisers and partners in India and support those in North America and Western Europe out of here.”

However, the Facebook has not updated its Hyderabad hiring plans on its Careers page.

Swami ran sex racket through a website

Self-styled Godman Shiv Murat Dwivedi ran a huge network of flesh trade involving more than a hundred brokers and thousand prostitutes across the country through his online abode- www.jiyamehta.com.

The website that became operational in 2007 and was first updated in October that year, had a mobile contact number listed as 9953459309.

The site was updated again in July 2008; this time the mobile number changed to 9811822816. And, the current contact number listed on the site is 9910639999.

The profile of Jiya Mehta, presumably a fictitious character, is interesting too. She happens to be a model, born and brought up in Mumbai, has been to all parts of India and is currently working in Delhi. The Alexa ranking of the website is 14,000 in India that shows the address drew heavy traffic. The site is also linked to 88 porn websites.
 
Investigations have revealed that the website was registered by a person named Sumeet Malhotra, who is yet to appear on the scene.

Apparently, he had registered the site on a UK server with the email id abon.webserver@gmail.com. While verifying this email id, it was found that four other popular escort agencies were registered with same email id on the same server, which indicates that the moderator/owner of the site is the same person.

The other escort websites which were being operated are sonalmitra.com, nishimishra.com, kalpanasharma.com and meherwalia.com.
 
A Delhi-based landline number 011-3026666 is also registered with the server. All these websites have been designed by a famous UK-based company, Adult Web Design.
 
Cyber crime experts said Baba was running his sex racket, primarily, through jiyamehta.com. Every time a prospective client called up he was asked to register his landline number. After getting the number, Baba would get his antecedents verified by a specialised team. The person would be contacted only after a thorough substantiation.

K’taka police may transfer Nithyananda case to CID

Bangalore, Mar 17: Action can be expected soon in the Swami Nithyananda sex scandal case as Karnataka police, which has received the required information from Tamil Nadu, is busy translating the documents besides mulling the transfer of the case to CID.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Mar 16, Additional DGP (Law and Order) A R Infant informed that cases against the spiritual guru will be re-registered by the Ramanagaram police as the ashram where the sex tape was recorded comes under Ramanagaram jurisdiction.

As of now the police are translating all papers sent by Tamil Nadu police into Kannada for filing fresh cases against the godman.

Since the nature of the case is complex, the police is likely to transfer the case to CID.

As per the latest reports, a probe is likely to be launched into the case filed by Nithya Dharmananda alias Lenin in Tamil Nadu alleging that Nithyananda’s disciples were plotting to kill him.

“The case filed by Nithya Dharmananda alias Lenin in Chennai was transferred to Bidadi police through Ramanagaram District Superintendent of Police late last evening for re-registration,” Additional DGP (Law and Order), A R Infant told a news agency.

Besides this, the police will also be checking the CDs and the footage aired in the media to check if the CD was doctored or was genuine.

OneIndia News

Parties discuss free-zone verdict

 
The Supreme Court’s refusal to review its order declaring Hyderabad a “free zone” for recruitments in government jobs triggered a fresh row, with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister K. Rosaiah on Wednesday calling an all-party meeting to decide future course of action.

Rosaiah told the state assembly that he had no objection to passing a resolution urging the central government to bring a constitutional amendment to set aside the Supreme Court order.

Amid strong protests by Telangana leaders of the Telugu Desam (TD), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), the chief minister called the meeting to discuss the issue.

“Hyderabad is part of sixth zone and not a free zone,” Rosaiah told the agitating members. He, however, said the issue was sensitive and could not be discussed in an open house.

In October last year, the Supreme Court had declared that Hyderabad was not a part of Telangana but a free zone as far as recruitments and postings in government were concerned.

The state government’s Special Leave Petition (SLP) challenging the order was dismissed by the Supreme Court on Tuesday at the admission stage.

This would mean that people from all parts of the state would have equal rights in jobs, postings and promotions in Hyderabad. People of Telangana had so far been enjoying local area status here with 70 percent quota in government jobs all these years.

Hyderabad had remained part of zone VI, along with Ranga Reddy, Mahabubnagar, Nalgonda, Nizamabad and Medak districts of Telangana.

Telangana, which comprises 10 districts including Hyderabad, was merged with then Andhra State in 1956 to form Andhra Pradesh. But the people of Telangana were given certain safeguards in appointments under the Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1956 and a subsequent Presidential Order and six point formula.

Following the October order of the Supreme Court, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) revived the movement for separate statehood for the region. The state witnessed massive protests for and against the demand.

The latest judgment came at a time when a five-member committee headed by Justice Srikrishna is looking into the issue of statehood for Telangana.

TRS leader Harish Rao said the court order would cover appointments to 18 departments, including the police. “This will badly affect the interests of Telangana people,” he said

Mafia boss held after using Facebook

One of the Italian mafia’s most wanted members has been arrested thanks to his use of the social networking website Facebook.

Police arrested Pasquale Manfredi, an alleged mafia killer, in the southern Calabrian town of Isola Capo Rizzuto, after they pinpointed his location via his frequent visits to Facebook using a prepaid pen drive.

Thirty-three-year-old Manfredi, knicknamed ‘Scarface’, had been on the run since last November and was among the country’s 100 ‘most dangerous’ fugitives.

When police raided the apartment building in Isola Capo Rizzuto where he had been living, Manfredi tried to escape across the roof but surrendered after he was surrounded.

Investigators described Manfredi as “cold and calculating”. Besides murder charges, he faces charges of arms trafficking and extortion.

Investigators believe he may have attended a training camp near the northern Italian city of Pavia, where he learned to use bazookas and other heavy weapons. Fugitive mafia boss held after using Facebook

Readers don’t want to pay for news online

Getting people to pay for news online at this point would be “like trying to force butterflies back into their cocoons,” a new consumer survey suggests.

That was one of several bleak headlines in the Project for Excellence in Journalism’s annual assessment of the state of the news industry, released on Sunday.

The project’s report contained an extensive look at habits of the estimated six in 10 Americans who say they get at least some news online during a typical day. On average, each person spends three minutes and four seconds per visit to a news site.

About 35 percent of online news consumers said they have a favorite site that they check each day. The others are essentially free agents, the project said. Even among those who have their favorites, only 19 percent said they would be willing to pay for news online — including those who already do.

There’s little brand loyalty: 82 percent of people with preferred news sites said they’d look elsewhere if their favorites start demanding payment.

“If we move to some pay system, that shift is going to have to surmount significant consumer resistance,” said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the project, part of the Pew Research Center.

Last year, online advertising saw its first decline since 2002, according to the research firm eMarketer. Four of five Americans surveyed told the project that they never or hardly ever click on ads.

Despite a lot of choices, traffic on news sites tends to be concentrated on the biggest — Yahoo, MSNBC, CNN, AOL and The New York Times.

“There was this view that we’re retreating into our own world of niche sites and that’s not true,” Rosenstiel said.

That offers a glimmer of hope for establishing a pay system if operators of the biggest sites could somehow agree on how to do it, he said. The survey found that if forced to make a choice, consumers prefer some kind of subscription service to a pay-as-you-go plan.

The Wall Street Journal requires readers to pay for content and The New York Times recently announced plans to charge for full access to its Web site. Starting next year under a metered system, Times readers will be allowed to click on a certain number of stories for free each month, with fees kicking in for readers who exceed that level.

In addition to attempts to reach back and charge readers for content they have become accustomed to getting for free, news executives hope that advances in technology and changes in consumer habits will provide future revenue opportunities.

The Associated Press last month announced a new business unit, AP Gateway, designed to develop and promote products that will help the cooperative, newspapers and broadcasters create revenue-producing products. The AP, for instance, will charge for an application it is developing for use on the iPad, Apple’s tablet computer.

While consumers may seem reluctant to pay for news, they’re more likely to pay for the functionality of news products on various devices, including smart phones, said Jane Seagrave, senior vice president and chief revenue officer at The Associated Press.

“I’m more hopeful now than I ever have been,” Seagrave said. “There seems to be a broad understanding that there is a value to professional journalism that is at risk right now.”

Pew’s survey also noted how news habits are changing rapidly. Blogging is declining in frequency, one quarter of Americans now say they get some news on their mobile phones and people are looking for news more frequently on social Web sites, the survey found.

For the online survey, the project interviewed 2,259 people from Dec. 28, 2009, to Jan. 19, 2010. The margin of error is plus or minus five percentage points.

Beyond the online activity, the study found that cable news, led by Fox News Channel, seemed to be the only sector of the news industry thriving.

Newspaper advertising revenue fell 26 percent in 2009 compared to the year before, the study said. Local TV and radio ad revenue were both off 22 percent. Network television ad revenue was down 8 percent.

Network news division resources are down more than half since the late 1980s, and that doesn’t count ABC News’ recent announcement that it could lose as much as a quarter of its staff due to cutbacks.

Newspaper spending on reporting and editing has fallen roughly 30 percent over the past decade, probably more at many big-city dailies, Rosenstiel said.

Court to hear paternity suit against Tiwari

Former Andhra Pradesh Governor N.D. Tiwari. The Delhi HC had dismissed his plea and decided to adjudicate a paternity suit.

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday dismissed former Andhra Pradesh Governor N.D. Tiwari’s plea and decided to adjudicate a paternity suit filed by a man claiming him to be his son.

A division bench headed by Justice Vikramjit Sen dismissed the plea of the 84-year-old Congress leader who sought dismissal of the petition on the ground that it was filed 31 years after the petitioner was born.

The court set aside a single bench order which had dismissed the paternity suit filed by Rohit Shekhar, a law graduate, on the ground that it was not maintainable.

The bench directed all the parties to appear before the single judge on April seven when the suit will be heard on merits.

Mr. Tiwari had to demit office as Andhra Pradesh Governor in the wake of a sting operation that purportedly showed him in a compromising position with three women.

The court had on March 11 reserved its order on the suit.

The politician had vehemently opposed entertaining of the petition filed by Shekhar seeking the court’s direction to declare Mr. Tiwari as his biological father.

Shekhar filed an appeal before the division bench challenging the single bench order which had dismissed his petition on the ground that it was not maintainable.

Justice S.N. Dhingra had on November 3 last said the suit filed by Shekhar was not maintainable and allowed the plea of Mr. Tiwari who had sought dismissal of the petition.

The Court had said it has no territorial jurisdiction to hear the case as Mr. Tiwari, the then Andhra Pradesh Governor, was in Hyderabad and a suit against him could be filed only in that city.

Shekhar filed the suit claiming he was born out of a relationship between his mother Ujjwala Sharma and Mr. Tiwari, a charge denied by the latter.

Mr. Tiwari was earlier directed by the court in November 2008 to file his reply in which he had refuted all the allegations and submitted that the suit was filed to malign him.

Dhoni ruled out of IPL for 10 days

Chennai Super Kings captain M.S. Dhoni will miss IPL action for the next 10 days due to the elbow injury he sustained during a match against Kolkata Knight Riders on Tuesday

 Chennai Super Kings’ Indian Premier League campaign received a huge blow on Wednesday with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni being ruled out of action for the next 10 days because of an elbow injury.

“Dhoni will be out of action for the next 10 days and the exact nature of his injury is being examined by the doctors at a private hospital here,” a team management source told PTI.

Dhoni underwent an x-ray test after being hit by a rising Shane Bond delivery in yesterday’s match against Kolkata Knight Riders at Eden Gardens even though Coach Stephen Fleming ruled out any major injury to the India skipper.

The source, however, said that Dhoni will be travelling with the team to Delhi, where the Chennai side will take on Delhi Daredevils at Ferozeshah Kotla on Friday.

“He will be travelling with the team to Delhi,” the source said.

“An official announcement will be made once the nature of the injury is determined by the doctors,” he added.

Apart from the match against the Daredevils, the injury also rules Dhoni out of Chennai Super Kings’ matches against Kings XI Punjab (March 21), Royal Challengers Bangalore (March 23) and Mumbai Indians (March 25).

Honda to recall 410,000 vehicles for brake problem

Honda Motor Co. on Tuesday said it is recalling about 410,000 Odyssey minivans and Element small trucks because of problems with the brake pedals

Honda Motor Co. will recall more than 410,000 Odyssey minivans and Element small trucks because of braking system problems that could make it tougher to stop the vehicle if not repaired.

The recall includes 344,000 Odysseys and 68,000 Elements from the 2007 and 2008 model years.

Honda said in a statement that over time, brake pedals can feel “soft” and must be pressed closer to the floor to stop the vehicles. Left unrepaired, the problem could cause loss of braking power and possibly a crash, Honda spokesman Chris Martin said.

“It’s definitely not operating the way it should and it’s safety systems, so it brings to the recall status,” he said.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported three crashes due to the problem with minor injuries and no deaths, Martin said. Honda notified NHTSA of the recall on Monday, he said.

Honda has traced the problem to the device that powers the electronic stability control system, which selectively brake each of the wheels to keep the vehicles upright during an emergency situation.

When the device, called a “vehicle stability assist modulator,” tests itself when the vehicles are started, it allows a small amount of air into the hydraulic brake lines. Over time, an air bubble in the lines can cause a loss of braking power and require that the pedal be pushed farther toward the floor than normal to stop the vehicles, Martin said.

“Although not all vehicles being recalled are affected by this issue, we are recalling all possible units to assure all customers that their vehicles will perform correctly,” Honda said in a statement.

Under the recall, which Honda said it volunteered to do, Honda said that owners should wait to get a letter from the company before scheduling a repair because the parts are not yet available. Letters should go out toward the end of April.

Drivers who fear that they’ve lost braking power should have their dealer check the brakes sooner, Martin said. The dealer can “bleed” air bubbles out of the hydraulic lines, which should fix the problem until the parts arrive for the final repair, he said.

Honda technicians will put plastic caps and sealant over two small holes in the device to stop the air from getting in, Martin said.

The automaker is still preparing a list of affected vehicles. After April 19, owners can determine if their vehicles are being recalled by going to www.recalls.honda.com .

The safety recall is Honda’s second in the past two months. In February it recalled 952,118 vehicles globally due to air bag problems.

It comes on the heels of Toyota Motor Corp.’s spate of safety recalls that include more than 8 million vehicles worldwide for braking and sudden acceleration problems.

One of the Toyota recalls is a braking software problem that causes the pedal of the Prius gas-electric hybrid to momentarily drop toward the floor.

Ford Motor Co. had a similar software problem with its Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan hybrids. The company told owners of 17,600 cars to bring them in for a software update because a glitch can give drivers the impression that the brakes have failed when they haven’t.

The automaker called the repairs a “customer satisfaction program” and said it was not a full-fledged recall.

U.S. Fed to hold rates low as economy slowly improves

A television indicates that the Fed will keep interest rates unchanged on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York on Tuesday

Interest rates will be held in the range of 0-0.25 per cent for an extended period in anticipation of “low rates of resource utilization, subdued inflation trends, and stable inflation expectations”, the United States Federal Reserve’s said

Interest rates will be held in the range of 0-0.25 per cent for an extended period in anticipation of “low rates of resource utilization, subdued inflation trends, and stable inflation expectations”, the United States Federal Reserve’s said today.

Following the Fed’s announcement, equity markets closed at an 18-month high and US Treasury yields declined, according to reports.

The Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee, which last met in January, hinted at improving conditions in the U.S. economy, pointing out that business spending on equipment and software rose “significantly” and household spending expanded moderately. However the latter remained constrained by high unemployment, modest income growth, lower housing wealth, and tight credit, the FOMC cautioned.

The FOMC added a note of explanation on its efforts to bolster the mortgage finance market through credit securities purchases. “To provide support to mortgage lending and housing markets and to improve overall conditions in private credit markets, the Federal Reserve has been purchasing $1.25 trillion of agency mortgage-backed securities and about $175 billion of agency debt,” it said.

Commenting on the overall macroeconomic picture the FOMC said that economic activity continued to strengthen and that “the labor market is stabilizing”. However, it added that employers remain reluctant to add to payrolls. With substantial resource slack continuing to restrain cost pressures and longer-term inflation expectations stable, inflation is likely to be subdued for some time.

Nine out of ten members of the FOMC voted for the FOMC to hold rates low. The one dissent vote came from Thomas M. Hoenig, who held that “continuing to express the expectation of exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate for an extended period was no longer warranted because it could lead to the build-up of financial imbalances and increase risks to longer-run macroeconomic and financial stability.”

Twitter working on Chinese registration page

Twitter is working on a way to allow Chinese users to sign up to the social networking site in their own language

 Twitter is working on a way to allow Chinese users to sign up to the social networking site in their own language, a co-founder of the site said Monday night, but access to the popular site remains blocked in the country.

Jack Dorsey said at a panel that Twitter is “hard at work” on allowing users to register in Chinese. Dorsey was responding to a question from Chinese avant-garde artist Ai Weiwei.

Ai has been an outspoken critic of Chinese authorities and their continuing efforts to impose censorship. He said he spends about eight hours a day on Twitter.

“I need a clear answer, yes or no?” he said to Dorsey, who joined the conversation via satellite.

“Yes, it’s just a matter of time,” Dorsey responded, citing limited staff and technical constraints as challenges for setting up the Chinese registration page.

Dorsey, Ai and Richard MacManus, founder of technology blog ReadWriteWeb, were part of a discussion on digital activism at the Paley Center for Media. People from all over the world also participated via Twitter, with their tweets displayed on a large screen behind the panelists.

The conversation came only a couple of days after it was reported that Google was “99.9 percent sure” to close its search engine in China because of stalled negotiations over censorship. Google has about 35 percent of the Chinese search market. The panelists praised the decision, calling it courageous and inspiring.

Ai said he wants Chinese translation on Twitter so users who are able to get past the firewall can read tweets.

Since it was founded in 2006, Twitter has emerged as a tool for digital activism in messages of no more than 140 characters. Ai has used it to demand answers about the number of young children who were killed in the Sichuan earthquake.

Last April, protesters in Moldova used Twitter when mobile phones and news television stations went down, rallying as many as 10,000 people to one demonstration. And tech-savvy Iranians turned to Twitter to protest the disputed presidential election.

Dorsey said he has no idea how Twitter would get around the firewall. He admitted he didn’t know the site was blocked in the country until three weeks ago when he was prepping for the event.

When asked whether he would give user information to the Chinese government, he said he hoped the company could work with the U.S. government to make sure that doesn’t happen.

“Step one is translation, getting the site accessible in a Chinese version,” said Dorsey. “That’s something the company is really pushing to do.”

But moving into the country is something “that’s very difficult to do,” he said.