World News

North Korea detains American for illegal entry

North Korea said on Tuesday it has detained an American for illegal entry, its first apparent reference to a Christian activist who crossed into the communist state on a lone rights crusade.

“An American was detained after illegally entering the DPRK (North Korea) through the DPRK-China border on December 24,” Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency said in a one-paragraph report.

“He is now under investigation by a relevant organ.”

Robert Park, 28, was reported by colleagues to have crossed into the North across the frozen Tumen River from China in a one-man protest against repression in the hardline North.

Park, a US citizen of Korean ancestry, claimed he had seen a vision from God of North Korea’s liberation and redemption, his colleagues said, adding that he crossed the border shouting “I came here to proclaim God’s love”.

Park carried a letter calling on North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il to release political prisoners, shut concentration camps and take steps to improve rights and conditions, his colleagues said.

In March, two US journalists who crossed into North Korea from China while working on a story about human trafficking spent more than four months in jail for illegal entry.

They were released after Bill Clinton’s intervention.

Heavy rain kills 45 in Karnataka, Andhra (Second Lead)

Heavy rain kills 45 in Karnataka, Andhra (Second Lead)

BANGALORE/HYDERABAD – At least 30 people have been killed in Karnataka and 15 in Andhra Pradesh due to heavy rain, officials said Thursday.

Big parade: Communist China marks its 60th year

Big parade: Communist China marks its 60th year

BEIJING – Tanks and other heavy weaponry rumbled across Beijing behind goose-stepping troops as China celebrated 60 years of communist rule Thursday with its biggest-ever military review – a symbol of its rapidly

Michael Jackson hated ‘Thriller’ album

In this Aug. 29, 1993 file photo, pop singer Michael Jackson performs during his

AP In this Aug. 29, 1993 file photo, pop singer Michael Jackson performs during his “Dangerous” concert in National Stadium, Singapore. Photo: AP

King of Pop Michael Jackson wanted to quit working on his iconic 1982 album ‘Thriller’, which has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide, as he thought it “sucked“.

In newly released tapes, the late singer broke down in tears because he thought the record’s sound was “c**p”. He was unhappy with the Quincy Jones-produced album, and even told pals he didn’t want to release it, News of the World reported.

“Thriller sounded so c**p. The mixes sucked. When we listened to the whole album, there were tears… I just cried like a baby. I stormed out of the room and said, ‘We’re not releasing this’,” Jackson is heard saying on the tapes obtained by the paper.

However, the popstar’s visit to a local school playground convinced Jackson to change his mind when he watched children playing.

“One of the maintenance crew in the studio had a bicycle and so I took it and rode up to the schoolyard. I just watched the children play. When I came back I was ready to rule the world. I went into the studio and I turned them songs out,” he added.

Ketsana leaves more than 300 dead across South-East Asia

People walk through a flooded street in Hue, central area in Vietnam, on Tuesday. Authorities evacuated over 150,000 people as Typhoon Ketsana lashed Vietnam's central coast. Photo: AP

AP People walk through a flooded street in Hue, central area in Vietnam, on Tuesday. Authorities evacuated over 150,000 people as Typhoon Ketsana lashed Vietnam’s central coast. Photo: AP

One of the most destructive storms in years extended its deadly path across Southeast Asia, blowing down wooden villages in Cambodia and crushing Vietnamese houses under mudslides after submerging much of the Philippine capital.

The death toll today climbed past 300 and was rising. “We’re used to storms that sweep away one or two houses.

But I’ve never seen a storm this strong,” said Nam Tum, governor of Cambodia’s Kampong Thom province.

The immediate threat was easing as Typhoon Ketsana was downgraded to a tropical depression as it crossed Wednesday into a fourth nation, Laos. But its powerful winds and pummelling rain left a snaking trail of destruction.

Landslides triggered by the storm slammed into houses in central Vietnam yesterday, burying at least seven people including five members of the same family, the government said. They were among 52 people killed in the country, some by falling trees, officials said.

The storm destroyed or damaged nearly 170,000 homes and flattened crops across six central Vietnamese provinces, officials said. More than 350,000 people were evacuated from the typhoon’s path, posing a logistical headache to shelter and feed them.

Stop Smoking Methods-A look into the Methods available to help you Stop Smoking

What are the best stop smoking methods? There are so many ways to quit smoking that it really depends upon the individual. What works for one person may not work for another. But what is most important is that you find a program to help you quit smoking. With no program at all, 95% of quitters fail, and only 5% succeed. This proves that going “cold turkey” has virtually no chance of working. So it’s wise to get help.

Ok, now that we have established that it is best to find a program to help you quit smoking let’s take a look at the options that are available along with their success rates.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT)-Nicotine Replacement Therapy includes the patch, nicotine gum, and nicotine inhalers. They work by easing withdrawal symptoms by putting gradual amounts of nicotine into the smokers system. NRT has shown to have an initial success rate of 23% and only 15% after one year.

Zyban-This is an anti-depressant that has recently been given to smokers because it has shown to have some benefit to help quit smoking. Studies have shown an initial success rate of 36% upon completion of the program and 30% one year later. Zyban is available by prescription only and has several side effects.

Hypnosis, Accupuncture, Herbs-have been shown to be far less effective than the above methods. Several controlled studies found they were ineffective.

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) -NLP is a branch of psychotherapy that has been around for decades but has only recently been applied to help smokers stop smoking with astonishing results. Studies of NLP have shown an initial success rate of 97% and 92% after six months. NLP does not have to be applied at a doctor’s office. Its benefits can be gained by listening to an audio program. It works as one of the best stop smoking methods by removing the cravings for cigarettes from the smoker.

NLP has proven to be, by far, one of the most effective stop smoking methods. If you want to learn even more about the best NLP stop smoking program visit deserve to be smoke free. Take action and use NLP to put smoking behind you forever. Good luck-Trevor Green.

Iran should negotiate with key powers: UN

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the 64th session of the General Assembly at United Nations headquarters. File photo: AP AP United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses the 64th session of the General Assembly at United Nations headquarters.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he told the Iranians that the U.N. nuclear chief said a package of incentives from six key Western powers that is now on the table if Tehran suspends uranium enrichment is a good one and they should negotiate on it.

Mr. Ban held talks last Friday with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and said he had “much more candid discussions” Tuesday with Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.

With Iran scheduled to meet Thursday in Geneva with the six key Western nations — the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — the secretary-general said he told Mr. Mottaki “to make progress” in negotiations on his country’s nuclear programme.

The Geneva meeting comes days after the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, confirmed that Iran sent a letter on Sept. 21 disclosing that it was building a new uranium enrichment facility.

Mr. Ahmadinejad said Friday his country has complied with requirements to inform the IAEA six months before a new enrichment facility becomes operational, and was giving 18 months notice. But the IAEA says Iran is obligated to give notice that it plans to build such facilities as soon as that decision is made.

Following the IAEA’s disclosure of the new facility, Ban expressed “grave concern” about Iran’s continued uranium enrichment, as did the leaders of the United States, Britain and France.

According to Iran’s U.N. Mission, Mr. Ahmadinejad in turn expressed “grave concern” during his meeting with Ban that “instead of waiting for the IAEA, as the competent body, to reflect on … the new enrichment facility, the U.N. chief had “chosen to repeat the same allegations that (a) few Western powers are making.”

The secretary-general told a news conference Tuesday that he responded to Ahmadinejad’s criticism by telling the president that the newly disclosed facility violated U.N. Security Council resolutions. Ban said he urged him to be transparent and open all nuclear facilities to IAEA inspection.

Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful and aimed solely at producing nuclear energy, but the U.S. and its allies believe Tehran is pursuing nuclear weapons.

“I made it quite clear that when they argue that their nuclear facilities are genuinely for peaceful purposes the burden of proof is on their side,” Mr. Ban said.

Iran has agreed to allow the IAEA to inspect the new facility. At the news conference Tuesday, Ban was asked why he didn’t wait for the U.N. nuclear agency to issue its report, as Ahmadinejad said.

“To be transparent and credible, when you have such an intent to build facilities, they should have informed — notified the IAEA long time before, not just before everything would be completed,” Mr. Ban replied.

“That’s what I’m raising. So there is a question of transparency. That is why the world leaders have expressed their deep concern and that is why I have also expressed my concern,” he said.

Later, at a round-table luncheon hosted by the United Nations Foundation, Ban called the Iranian nuclear issue “very serious, even dangerous.”

He said he told Mr. Mottaki he was “troubled that Iran is criticized,” in the same manner as North Korea, and offered U.N. help for the country “to find some proper place in the international community.”

But to achieve this, he said, Iran has to prove it is completely transparent and gives the IAEA full access to its nuclear facilities.

“I said, have you informed the IAEA when you had the blueprint (for the new facility)?” Mr. Ban said. “You have done it after you have finished … construction, in a very remote mountainside underground. Then, it’s not true, complete transparency. That’s what I’m asking.”

The six powers have offered Iran two packages for suspending enrichment as a prelude to wide-ranging talks on its nuclear program, the first in 2006 and the second in 2008.

Ban said he asked IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei what he thought about the two packages.

“Dr. ElBaradei told me that the first package was not enough, he believed. The second package is something which is good and … can be negotiated,” Mr. Ban said. “So I told the Iranians, I checked with the (IAEA) director—general. The first one you might not have been satisfied. I agree. The second package is a good one. You can negotiate it.”

The 2008 package of economic, technological and political incentives to Tehran offers to help Iran develop a peaceful nuclear energy programme and improve economic and diplomatic relations with the six countries and the European Union, on condition in suspends uranium enrichment.

Asked how Mottaki responded, Mr. Ban said, “he didn’t have much to say.”

“I don’t know how this negotiation will go,” the U.N. chief added.

Case against Quattrocchi to be withdrawn, Centre tells court

Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi speaks to newsmen after his trial in Kuala Lumpur on Dec. 13, 2002.

AP Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi speaks to newsmen after his trial in Kuala Lumpur on Dec. 13, 2002.

The Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that it had decided to withdraw the case against Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, an accused in the Rs. 64-crore Bofors pay-offs case, which is pending before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate court here.

Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam made this submission before a Bench of Chief Justice K. G. Balakrishnan and Justices P. Sathasivam and B.S. Chauhan. He said all efforts to extradite Mr. Quattrocchi from Malaysia and Argentina had failed and the Red Corner Notice issued against him was also revoked. The case was coming up for hearing before the CMM on October 3 and the CBI would file an application for closure of the case.

He said that in February 2004, the Delhi High Court cleared Mr. Quatrrocchi of under the Corruption Act.

Advocate Ajay Agrawal, who filed a petition in 2006 against the defreezing of Mr. Quattrocchi’s bank account in London, questioned the government stand.


G20 Power Shift Boosts India And China

World leaders have declared the Group of 20 nations will become the top economic forum – spreading influence to emerging powers like China and India.

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (L) and his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy (2nd R) stand with US President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama at the Pittsburgh G20 SummitFrance’s Nicolas Sarkozy and Mr Obama with their wives in Pittsburgh

The dramatic shift was announced by the White House as US President Barack Obama hosted his first major summit in Pittsburgh.

A statement said: “Leaders endorsed the G20 as the premier forum for their international economic cooperation.

“This decision brings to the table the countries needed to build a stronger, more balanced global economy, reform the financial system, and lift the lives of the poorest.”

The G8, which included only wealthy nations Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and America, has served in various forms as the premier economic forum since 1975.

Protester kicks tear gas canister during anti-G20 protests in PittsburghProtesters have clashed with cops

But the Pittsburgh talks have been marred by violent scenes, as anti-capitalist protesters clashed with police on Thursday.

More rallies were expected and riot officers have been preparing for trouble.

Meanwhile, G20 leaders were closing in on a deal to tighten financial regulations after last year’s market meltdown.

A draft text said the summit would agree bankers’ bonuses should be curbed and call for government stimulus measures to be maintained until the global economic recovery was cemented.

Leaders would advise “limiting bonuses to a percentage of total net revenues when it is inconsistent with maintenance of a sound capital base,” a G20 source said, quoting from the draft.

Riot police on the streets of Pittsburgh ahead of G20 protestsRiot police in Pittsburgh

“We’ll avoid any premature withdrawal of stimulus,” the source said, adding that measures which have seen trillions poured into the key sectors over the past year should be maintained “until a durable recovery is secured”.

A Chinese central bank official also predicted a move on International Monetary Fund voting rights, saying developing countries had been under-represented in key financial institutions for too long.

World leaders have pledged to work for comprehensive IMF reform and there is a long-term consensus on the need to address imbalances in voting power.

But some European nations have balked at losing their influence.

For Brazil, China, India and other emerging countries, it is crucial to achieve a breakthrough in negotiations in Pittsburgh, so the IMF can endorse the reform at its annual meeting on October 6 to 7 in Istanbul.

G20 leaders set for summit on financial crisis, regulation

Pittsburgh, Sep 24 (IANS) As G20 leaders converged here for their third summit, a major consensus that has emerged is economies like India have a key role to play in restoring normalcy in the global financial system and to overcome the current economic downturn.

While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has already said India had much to offer in terms of finding a solution to the financial crisis, US President Barack Obama feels America alone cannot resolve all problems and there must be a global consensus.

‘Leaders should recognize that developing countries are a key part of the solution,’ said World Bank President Robert Zeollick, ahead of the summit scheduled Thursday and Friday.

‘Pittsburgh can be a turning point in other ways. Developing countries are part of the solution,’ he said, adding: ‘If London was a summit for the financial sector, let Pittsburgh be a summit for the poor.’

Some 1,100 delegates and more than 2,000 journalists from across the globe have converged here for the G20 Summit, during which India is expected to commit itself to ensuring the recovery of the global economy.

‘It is necessary for India to engage in the management of the world economy because we have a lot at stake, and a lot to contribute,’ Manmohan Singh said as he prepared for the summit.

At the same time he also expected some strong signals from the summit against protectionism, especially by rich nations, whether it concerned trade in goods, services, investment or financial flows.

The most significant remarks, nevertheless, came from the host President Obama.

‘Power is no longer a zero sum game. No nation can or should try to dominate another nation. No world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed,’ said the US president.

According to diplomats, the G20 leaders were also expected to issue a statement at the end of the summit Friday committing themselves to a framework of sustainable and balanced growth.

Their first interaction is scheduled at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, where President Obama will host a welcome reception, following which they will meet at the sprawling David Lawrence Convention Centre Friday.

The city, meanwhile was geared to tackle any protest that turns ugly, with the federal government expected to spend some $10 million on security arrangements with another $4 million by the state of Pennsylvania.

The green banners put up in the city read: ‘Pittsburgh welcomes the world’, even as police was patrolling the areas near the venue on foot, helicopters and even bicycles.

Moon water: NASA thanks Indian space agency for partnership

Washington, Sep 24 (IANS) India’s maiden lunar mission Chandrayaan has been successful in finding traces of water on the lunar surface, the US space agency NASA said here Thursday, and thanked the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for the partnership.

A National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) official said that traces of water and hydroxyl, a molecule consisting of one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom, was also found in the lunar soil.

NASA also thanked ISRO for the partnership.

The NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) instrument was one of the instruments aboard the Chandrayaan-I, which was launched Oct 22, 2008. However, the mission had to be aborted Aug 30 after Chandrayaan lost radio contact with the earth.

The analysis of the huge volume of M3 data was carried out by a joint team of scientists from the US and India.

The scientific team was led by M3 principal investigator Carle Pieters, a planetary geologist at Brown University in Rhode Island, and J.N. Goswami, principal scientist of Chandrayaan-1 from Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) of the Indian Department of Space.

The team had concluded that there were traces of hydroxyl (OH) and water (H2O) molecules on the surface of the moon closer to the polar region.

The experts also concluded that traces of OH and H20 were in the form of a thin layer embedded in rocks and chemical compounds on the surface of the moon and the quantity were extremely small – of the order of about 700 parts per million (ppm).

Japan to be bridge on nuclear, climate, economic issues: Hatoyama

New York, Sep 25 (DPA) Japan’s new Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said Thursday his government will act as a bridge between nuclear and non-nuclear states because Japan has suffered the devastation of atomic bombs in 1945.

Hatoyama also said Japan will play the same role in economic fora, where the formulation of regulations dealing with financial markets are needed, including summits of the world’s 20 richest economies (G20).

Hatoyama attended meetings at United Nations headquarters in New York and spoke with the UN Security Council on nuclear disarmament and in the UN General Assembly, whereas his predecessors had mostly shunned UN meetings.

His Democratic Party of Japan last month toppled the liberal party that dominated politics in the country for more than five decades.

‘The new Japan will need to respond appropriately to globalisation,’ Hatoyama said in an address to the 192-nation assembly. Japan became a UN member in 1956 under prime minister Ichiro Hatoyama, Yukio’s grandfather.

‘Japan can speak with the greatest persuasiveness in urging nuclear weapon-states towards nuclear disarmament and non-nuclear states to avoid the temptation to acquire nuclear weapons,’ he said.

Hatoyama told the UN climate change summit Tuesday that Japan will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 at 1990 levels, which drew praise from the UN because it was the only country to announce such a plan.

‘Japan announces such an ambitious pledge because it wishes to serve as a ‘bridge’ among countries with varied interests and to preserve the planet for future generations,’ he said.

Japan is the second largest financial contributor to the UN, behind the US. It is seeking a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and expanded responsibilities in the UN administration.

Goa school shuts down for week over swine flu

Panaji, Sep 25 (IANS) The Goa education department Thursday directed a city school to close down for a week after two pupils were found suffering from swine flu and three other were suspected of being affected by the virus, a top education department official said.

Speaking to IANS late Thursday, director education Celsa Pinto said that People’s High School, located in the heart of the capital, was closed down after medical tests confirmed that two students had tested positive for the H1N1 virus.

‘It is a precautionary measure. There is no need for panic. We have been asked by the directorate of health services to close the school for seven days. Both students are from Class 5,’ she said.

Pinto further said that three other students were suspected of having swine flu and that their test reports were awaited. The department would be issuing a public notice Friday informing the rest of the school’s students about the seven day closure.

The confirmed test reports were received by the state health department from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) at 9.30 p.m.

There are presently 36 confirmed swine flu cases in the state, which has seen three deaths from the disease.

Pokhran II: “no scientific basis for doubts”

Dr. R. Chadambaram (right), Principal Scientific Advisor to the Central Government and former Chairman, AEC with Dr. Anil Kakodkar, Chairman, AEC talking to media in Mumbai on Thrusday. Photo: Vivek Bende

The Hindu Dr. R. Chadambaram (right), Principal Scientific Advisor to the Central Government and former Chairman, AEC with Dr. Anil Kakodkar, Chairman, AEC talking to media in Mumbai on Thrusday. Photo: Vivek Bende

Refuting the doubts raised recently over the success of the May 1998 Pokhran II tests, Anil Kakodkar, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and R. Chidambaram, AEC Chairman in 1998 and now Principal Scientific Adviser to the Union government, said on Thursday that the controversy was “unnecessary” and the doubts had “no scientific basis.”

In defence of the accuracy of the tests, Mr. Chidambaram made an elaborate power point presentation to the press and members of the scientific community. He sought to clear doubts about the test yield raised by scientists K. Santhanam, Project Leader, Pokhran-II, and P.K. Iyengar, a former AEC Chairman.

Santhanam’s contention

Mr. Santhanam had spoken about the differences in the yield estimates of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC).

He had contended, “The fission bomb yield from DRDO’s seismic instrumentation was 25 kiloton (kt).”( The Hindu, September 17, 2009: “Pokhran-II thermonuclear test, a failure”).

In his response, Mr. Chidambaram clarified, “The BARC estimate of the yield for the fission device is 15 kiloton [not 25 kiloton] and for the thermonuclear device 45 kiloton. One of the methods used for the estimation of the device yield was close-in acceleration measurement, for which both DRDO and BARC had set up instrumentation. It soon became apparent that after discussion among the two groups of specialists that the DRDO data had anomalies and had to be rejected and that the BARC data, which had the expected waveforms, would be accepted.”

Dr. Kakodkar added there were different methods to find out the yields’ seismic measurement, instrumentation, radiochemical, actual simulation of ground motion, among others.

“These are all different disciplines; there are different groups which do it. BARC is a large institution and assessment is done by different expert groups.”

On crater’s diameter

To Mr. Santhanam’s yardstick of the diameter of the crater, Mr. Chidambaram said: “The fission device was emplaced in rhyolite medium whereas the fusion device was emplaced in the pink granite medium. The medium for the Pokhran-I test was shale and sandstone. The geology in the Pokhran region is inhomogeneous. The propagation of the shock wave is affected by every interface. 3-D simulation calculations of the rock mechanical effects, done by BARC scientists, after considering all these factors accounted for the observed effects in the thermonuclear test.” He said he failed to understand what scaling laws Mr. Santhanam had used.

On the question of finding trace-levels of radioisotopes in Apsara, a pure fission reactor, Mr. Chidambaram stated, “The tail of the fission neutron spectrum extends to beyond the excitation energy of these reactions. But the fusion neutrons are of 14 MeV. That is why isotopes like Mn-54 and Na-22 are found in significant [not trace] quantities in the rock samples from the thermonuclear device site rock samples.”

“If one sees the gamma-ray spectrum of a typical rock sample of the thermonuclear test site, published in refereed journals by BARC scientists, sharp peaks for these radioisotopes are seen, not just bumps in the background! In the Mn-54/Ce-144 ratios from the samples of the two test sites, reproduced by R. Ramachandran in his Frontline article of 25th September 2009, this ratio for the thermonuclear test samples is seen as a high multiple of the ratio for the fission test samples.”

Poser to P.K. Iyengar

Mr. Chidambaram pointed out, that Dr. Iyengar, in his contention made in 2000, had not disputed the yield of the thermonuclear test. However, he said: “We do not understand, how, without knowledge of the design and, therefore without knowledge of the fusion-fission break-up and the quantity of thermonuclear material in the device and its isotopic composition, he [Dr. Iyengar] has tried to calculate the efficiency of fusion burn.”

“No need for more nuclear tests”

R. Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Union government, said on Thursday that no nuclear weapon state ever revealed the thermonuclear design as that information would be proliferation-sensitive.

He and Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission Anil Kakodkar stressed that India was the only country to release so much information on the Pokhran II tests through scientific media. They said the tests had gone through peer review and been discussed in international scientific journals.

Reiterating that there was no need for more nuclear tests, Dr. Kakodkar said: “We want to re-emphasise that the 1998 tests were fully successful and had achieved in toto their scientific objectives and the capability to build fission and thermonuclear weapons with yields up to 200 kt.”

While the U.S. had conducted several tests, they stopped after 1991, Mr. Chidambaram said. With the increase in scientific knowledge and advancements in computer technology, “there is no need for so many tests.” Also, the charge of being hasty, applied to Pokhran II “is unfounded.” The team was waiting since 1974 (Pokhran I), Mr. Chidambaram argued.

Pranab’s link with Goddess Durga

Pranab Mukherjee
Far from the hurly-burly of politics, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee plays another role at this time of the year – a priest worshipping Goddess Durga.

Ms. Mukherjee worships the Goddess at Miriti, his ancestral village near Kirnahar in Birbhum district, 200 km from Kolkata.

“The puja is around 100 years old. Pranab’s grandfather late Jangaleswar Mukherjee started the puja,” said Goutam Roy, who has been looking after puja arrangements for the last couple of years.

“After him, Kamadakinkar Mukherjee, father of Pranab Mukherjee continued it. Pranab babu does the same,” he said.

Mr. Mukherjee himself performs the puja on Mahastami puja, the second day of the four day festival, with thousands of people including villagers, party workers, family members visiting Miriti.

UN Security Council resolution for nuclear-free world

NOT AN EMPTY PROMISE: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his opening remarks the United Nations Security Council, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2009. Photo: AP

AP NOT AN EMPTY PROMISE: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his opening remarks the United Nations Security Council, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2009. Photo: AP

Significantly, President Barack Obama, who called it a “historic resolution,” became the first American president to preside over the Security Council summit. Russia, China and the developing world backed the U.S.-sponsored measure

With U.S. President Barack Obama presiding, the U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Thursday aimed at ridding the world of nuclear weapons.

Russia, China and developing nations supported the U.S.- sponsored measure, giving it global clout and strong political backing.

The resolution calls for stepped up efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, promote disarmament and “reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism.”

Mr. Obama was the first American president to preside over a Security Council summit, gaveling the meeting into session and announcing that “the draft resolution has been adopted unanimously.”

“The historic resolution we just adopted enshrines our shared commitment to a goal of a world without nuclear weapons,” Mr. Obama said immediately after the vote. “And it brings Security Council agreement on a broad framework for action to reduce nuclear dangers as we work toward that goal.”

Just one nuclear weapon set off in a major city could cause major destruction, Mr. Obama said.

He said the global effort would seek to “lock down all vulnerable nuclear materials within four years.”

“This is not about singling out an individual nation,” he said. “International law is not an empty promise, and treaties must be enforced.”

“We will leave this meeting with renewed determination,” Mr. Obama said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon saluted the national leaders for joining in the unprecedented Security Council summit on nuclear arms.

“This is a historic moment, a moment offering a fresh start toward a new future,” he said.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said that “our main shared goal is to untie the problem knots” among nations seeking nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament.

“This is complicated since the level of mistrust among nations remains too high, but it must be done,” he said.

An endorsement of Obama’s nuclear agenda: aides

Mr. Obama’s aides see adoption of the resolution as an endorsement of the president’s entire nuclear agenda, as laid out in his April speech in Prague. He declared his commitment to “a world without nuclear weapons.”

In that speech, the U.S. President called for the slashing of U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, adoption of the treaty banning all nuclear tests, an international fuel bank to better safeguard nuclear material, and negotiations on a new treaty that “verifiably” ends the production of fissile materials for atomic weapons.

He also strongly backed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, or NPT, which requires signatory nations not to pursue nuclear weapons in exchange for a commitment by the five nuclear powers to move toward nuclear disarmament. States without nuclear weapons are guaranteed access to peaceful nuclear technology for electricity generation.

All those measures are included in the draft resolution.

In its opening paragraph, the draft reaffirms the council’s commitment “to seek a safer world for all and to create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons.”

Arms control advocates say those elements are interconnected. Some nations might eventually reject the limitations of the Nonproliferation Treaty, for example, if the U.S. and other nuclear powers don’t abide by that treaty’s requirement to move toward disarmament by reducing their arsenals, or if they reject the test ban.

Also on Thursday, the U.S. rejoined a biennial conference designed to win support for the treaty banning all nuclear bomb tests.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was scheduled to help kick off that U.N. session, uniting foreign ministers and other envoys from more than 100 nations that have ratified or at least signed the 1996 treaty. It represents the first U.S. participation since 1999.

ElBaredei, Kissinger among invited guests

Among the invited guests were U.N. nuclear chief Mohamed ElBaradei, former U.S. Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, former U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry, media mogul Ted Turner, former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn and Queen Noor of Jordan – all campaigners against nuclear weapons.

Mr. Nunn, a Georgia Democrat who heads the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a Washington—based group designed to fight the global spread of nuclear materials, said the most important thing about the resolution “is the high—level visibility that will be taking place … with world leaders gathering to remind both themselves and the world that we are at a nuclear tipping point.”

Mr. Nunn said on Wednesday Mr. Obama’s message is that “we are in a race between cooperation and catastrophe.”

The draft resolution does not mention any country by name but it reaffirms previous Security Council resolutions that imposed sanctions on Iran and North Korea for their nuclear activities. It does not call for any new sanctions.

The draft “expresses particular concern at the current major challenges to the nonproliferation regime that the Security Council has acted upon.”

It also calls on all countries that are not parties to join the treaty “to achieve its universality at an early date,” and in the interim to comply with its terms. The major countries that are not members of the NPT are India and Pakistan, which have conducted nuclear tests, and Israel which is believed to have a nuclear arsenal.


A great opportunity for Indian science

The Nilgiri mountains were chosen as the suitable site for the underground laboratory because of the stability and safety of the Nilgiri rock. Photo: K. Ananthan

THE HINDU The Nilgiri mountains were chosen as the suitable site for the underground laboratory because of the stability and safety of the Nilgiri rock. Photo: K. Ananthan
India is a land of ancient civilisation that had made fundamental contributions to human knowledge in the hoary past. Even the discovery of the positional number system with the accompanying concept of “zero” is attributed to ancient India. We already have a population of more than a billion and may soon become the most populous nation on Earth.Should we rest content with our ancient heritage and keep repeating that our contribution to knowledge is “zero?” Should we continue to be mere borrowers and users of modern knowledge and modern scientific technology? When do we give back? When do we become creators of fundamental knowledge?The opening up of neutrino physics offers us a great opportunity to do that. Very important discoveries have been made recently in neutrino physics and neutrino astronomy.Scientists from the United States and Japan received the Nobel Prize in 2002 for these discoveries. Neutrinos are elementary particles that are filling the Universe in abundance but are very elusive. Trillions of neutrinos are passing through our bodies every second without affecting us. One of the most important discoveries of the last decade is that neutrinos have mass. Until this discovery, it was thought that neutrinos are massless particles like photons, the quanta of light.This has led to active planning of many more neutrino laboratories round the world, especially considering that a considerable part of neutrino physics is yet to be discovered. A grand race is on. India was a pioneer in neutrino physics. The very first detection of cosmic-ray produced neutrinos was made in the Kolar Gold Fields (KGF) experiment in 1965. But the KGF laboratory was closed in the 1990s because the KGF mines were closed.Can we recover the lost initiative? We can. The India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) project has been conceived with that objective in view. A group of scientists and engineers spread over 25 scientific research institutions and universities in India is actively involved in the creation of INO. It is a unique basic science collaboration in the country. It has been approved for funding by the Department of Atomic Energy and the Department of Science and Technology and included by the Planning Commission as a mega science project under the Eleventh Five-Year Plan. (Information about the INO is available at rock of at least a kilometre thickness is needed to filter all other cosmic-ray-produced particles to enable the detector to detect the elusive neutrinos. Hence we have to go inside a mountain. The Nilgiri mountains were chosen as the suitable site for the underground laboratory because of the stability and safety of the Nilgiri rock. A huge cavern of size 120m x 25m x 30m will be dug under the Nilgiri mountains at 1.3 km below the peak and this will be accessed through a horizontal tunnel of more than 2 km in length. A gigantic magnetised detector weighing 50,000 tonnes will be constructed inside this cavern and will be used to detect and study the neutrinos.

In the beginning, this detector will be used to study the neutrinos produced by cosmic rays. Further progress in neutrino physics will depend on catching neutrinos that will be produced in the so-called “neutrino factories.” Such plans are being made in Japan, Europe, and the U.S. We are in dialogue with scientists abroad who are involved in these plans. Neutrinos produced in the neutrino factories thousands of kilometres away will travel through the Earth and be detected in the INO. Such long-baseline neutrino experiments are needed to reveal further neutrino secrets.

Although the first priority will be to establish those parts of neutrino physics that are still unknown or uncertain, once that is accomplished attention will shift to mastering neutrino technology. But that will take time. Some of the exciting applications of neutrino technology will be these: (1) Since neutrinos are the most penetrating radiation known to mankind (a typical neutrino can travel a million Earth diameters of matter without getting stopped), neutrino beams will be the ultimate tools for the tomography of Earth. (2) A new window on geophysics opened a few years ago when a neutrino detector in Japan detected geoneutrinos emitted by radioactive uranium and thorium ore buried in the bowels of the Earth. This leads to the possibility of mapping the whole Earth as far as its radioactive content is concerned.

The 50,000 tonnes of steel used in the detector does not deteriorate since the neutrinos hardly interact. If this steel could be lent by Mittal Steel Company or the Tata Iron and Steel Company, it could be returned to them later. There is a precedent for this. The Sudbury Neutrino Observatory in Canada used the heavy water loaned from the Canadian Atomic Energy Commission and returned it to the AEC after making a crucial contribution to neutrino physics. Such a contribution by Indian industry will be a trendsetter for building synergy between science and industry. It is much needed for taking the country to the next stage of development.

Since the proposed INO site in Nilgiris is near an environmentally sensitive area, the INO group has taken great pains to formulate an environmental management plan, in consultation with environmental scientists. The INO group is committed to prevent any damage to the environment and, in fact, plans to contribute positively towards its preservation through its own resources so that the INO becomes a model project to establish that basic science and environmental awareness can go hand in hand.

In addition to making major discoveries, the INO will benefit generations of students and young scientists and engineers by training them through participation in a major scientific experiment. Student recruitment and training for the INO has started. The project will also include an INO Centre devoted to R&D in detector technology, which will have far-reaching applications in diverse fields. In spite of progress on all other fronts, the project has been bogged down because of the delay in procuring the required government clearances.

The importance of the India-based neutrino observatory in the context of international science cannot be overemphasised. Other groups in other countries are eagerly waiting for the operation of, and results from, the INO. However they are not going to wait indefinitely. Plans are afoot both in the U.S. as well as China for building huge underground neutrino laboratories. The INO’s competitive edge is slipping away and any further delay will be detrimental to the success of the project. A number of reputed scientists from different parts of the world, including two Nobel Laureates and several Directors of neutrino laboratories, have recently appealed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for urgent action.

I hope that the governments of India and Tamil Nadu together will act soon so that this great opportunity for Indian science is not lost.

(The author is a former Joint Director of, and Distinguished Professor at, the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai. He is now Adjunct Professor at the Chennai Mathematical Institute. Email:

New movie to recreate Tagore’s Victoria love story

New Delhi, Sep 24 (IANS) The love story between Rabindranath Tagore and Victoria Ocampo — the Argentine whose songs India’s Nobel Laureate poet could hear from the sky and to whom he dedicated his life — is the subject of a new movie by Argentine director Pablo Cesar.

‘Thinking of Him’ will be about Ocampo, the fiery feminist, writer and woman of the world, and the way her meeting with Tagore changed the lives of both.

‘The Tagore-Victoria story is fantastic material for a film. I am glad that I have been able to interest Pablo Cesar. I liked his preliminary script and the title he has chosen for his movie,’ R. Viswanathan, the Indian ambassador to Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, told IANS over e-mail.

Cesar had also made the first Indian-Argentine co-production ‘Unicornio’.

Victoria was a writer, editor and culture activist, a free and wilful spirit who held Tagore under her spell when he stayed at her home during his visit to Argentina in 1924.

‘Victoria was very excited when Tagore came to Buenos Aires in 1924. In her own words, it was one of the great events of his life. She wrote an article in La Nacion that she welcomed Tagore and hosted him for two months. There is talk of platonic love between the 63-year-old Tagore and the 34-year-old Victoria,’ Viswanathan recollected.

The Indian envoy in Buenos Aires has just finished reading ‘Victoria Ocampo – Writer, Feminist and Woman of the World’, a 170-page summary of her autobiography. The full autobiography in Spanish runs into six volumes. The translated summary is by American Patricia Owen Steiner.

‘Victoria wanted to be a writer in her youth. She read Tagore’s ‘Gitanjali’ in 1914 and said ‘it fell like celestial dew on my anguishing 24-year heart’. She described Tagore’s poetry as ‘magical mysticism’, radiating ‘happiness and serenity’,’ Viswanathan said.

‘Gitanjali’ was the book of poems for which Tagore won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913.

On his part, Tagore was ‘rejuvenated by Ocampo’s flower-filled garden that overlooked the scenic bank of the immense Plata river’, the ambassador quoted from the book. ‘Victoria was the muse of his Purabi poems in which he referred to her as Vijaya.’

One of Tagore’s most famous songs starts ‘I know you, foreigner’ and goes on to say ‘I have seen you in the middle of the heart… I have heard your song when I listened to the sky, I have dedicated my life to you… I have come to you after roaming the world, I am a guest at your doorstep.’

On her part, Victoria had a spiritual awakening from her encounter with Tagore. ‘She was overawed by his intellect and felt like a child before him. She mostly listened to him and did not dare to express herself.

‘The Tagore-Ocampo encounter opened an intellectual, literary, cultural and spiritual bridge between India and Argentina. Since then there has been a strong Argentine tradition of spiritual and cultural interest in India,’ the ambassador said.

Writer and historian Ketaki Kushari Dyson, who has researched Ocampo’s life extensively, says: ‘I realised that of all the gifted and attractive women with whom Tagore had come into direct contact in his long life, Ocampo was possibly the most distinguished.’

After Tagore left Argentina, the poet and Ocampo met once more in 1930 in France. ‘The meeting was not pre-meditated. Ocampo’s life had undergone significant upheavals which Tagore was not aware of,’ Dyson says.

Ocampo, who was also inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent struggle, in 1968 received an honorary doctorate from the Vishwa Bharati University set up by Tagore in Santiniketan, West Bengal.

Water on moon can’t be confirmed: ISRO chief

Chennai, Sep 24 (IANS) Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman G. Madhavan Nair has said he can’t confirm the presence of water on the moon.

‘Mineralogy matter has given 97 percent of the moon surface coverage. I can’t confirm the presence of water now. Before the end of this week, we will let you know,’ Nair told reporters Wednesday at ISRO’s satellite launch centre in Sriharikota — about 70 km from here — after the launch of India’s latest satellite Oceansat-2.

The American space agency NASA is expected to announce Thursday major findings of its moon mineralogy probe that went on board India’s Chandrayaan-1.

Though the announcement is still under wraps, it is speculated it will be about the presence of water or ice on the moon.

Nair also said: ‘Chandrayaan is a 100 percent success as far as ISRO is concerned. ISRO is studying the data sent by the satellite and is now focussing on Chandrayaan-2 which will be launched sometime in 2012 or 2013.’

India’s Chandrayaan first to find water on Moon

London, September 24 (ANI): Data from Chandrayaan-1, India’s first lunar mission, has revealed the presence of large quantities of water on the surface of the Moon, a discovery that is a significant boost for India in its space race against China.

ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) lost control of Chandrayaan-1 last month, and aborted the mission ahead of schedule, but not before M3 and the other instruments had beamed data back to Earth.

According to a report in The Times, water was found by NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3), designed specifically to search for water by picking up the electromagnetic radiation emitted by minerals.

M3 was one of two NASA instruments among 11 pieces of equipment from around the world on Chandrayaan-1, which was launched into orbit around the Moon in October last year.

The M3, an imaging spectrometer, was designed to search for water by detecting the electromagnetic radiation given off by different minerals on and just below the surface of the Moon.

Unlike previous lunar spectrometers, it was sensitive enough to detect the presence of small amounts of water.

The M3 also made the unexpected discovery that water may still be forming on the surface of the Moon, according to scientists familiar with the mission.

“It’s very satisfying,” said Dr Mylswamy Annadurai, the project director of Chandrayaan-1 at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in Bangalore.

“This was one of the main objectives of Chandrayaan-1, to find evidence of water on the Moon,” he told The Times.

This will also provide a significant boost for India as it tries to catch up with China in what many see as a 21st-century space race.

“This will create a considerable stir. It was wholly unexpected,” said one scientist also involved in Chandrayaan-1.

“People thought that Chandrayaan was just lagging behind the rest but the science that’s coming out, it’s going to be agenda-setting,” the scientist added.

Scientists have long hoped that astronauts could be based on the Moon and use water found there to drink, extract oxygen to breathe and use hydrogen as fuel.

Several studies have suggested that there could be ice in the craters around the Moon’s poles, but scientists have been unable to confirm the suspicions.

According to another lunar scientist familiar with the findings, “This is the most exciting breakthrough in at least a decade. And it will probably change the face of lunar exploration for the next decade.”

Indian Army Chief reassures border with China is safe

Chief of Army Staff General Deepak Kapoor reassured on Wednesday that the country’s border with China is secure.

Recent reports in Indian media said the Chinese troops breached the international border earlier this year in northern Ladakh region and painted ‘China’ on some boulders and rocks.

Reports said the Chinese troops had entered nearly 1.5 kilometres into the Indian territory near Mount Gaya, which is recognised as an international border by both India and China.

The red markings were found around 1.5 to 1.7 kilometres inside the Indian territory.

“The Indian borders are extremely safe. There is nothing to worry that should concern any normal citizen of the country. We are fully alive to any challenges that we may face at any point and there is nothing to worry about,” said General Kapoor on the sidelines of a function in Jaipur city.

China has also denied any border incursions by its troops, and blamed Indian media of trying to stoke tensions.

“The number of transgression is exactly at the same level in comparison to last year and media should not go on overdrive on this sensitive issue. We have a proper mechanism to resolve these incursion issues whenever a violation takes place,” General Kapoor said.

China lays claim to 90,000 sq km of land on the eastern sector of the border in Arunachal Pradesh, earlier known as NEFA (North Eastern Frontier Agency).

orld Bank approves 4.3 billion dollar loan to India for infrastructure projects

The World Bank on Tuesday approved a 4.3 billion dollars loan for India to finance infrastructure projects, to help maintain credit growth levels, employment growth, support social banking and help strengthen the economic recovery from the global financial crisis.

The loan includes a 2 billion dollar loan, which is designed for Banking Sector Support Loan, which would to boost the capital of state banks and maintain credit growth.

While, a loan of 1.2 billion dollars was to the India Infrastructure Finance Company Ltd. (IIFCL) to support its role to catalyze private financing for public-private partnerships in (PPPs) infrastructure and stimulates the development of a long-term local currency debt financing market.

A loan of 1 billion dollars was approved for the Power Grid Corporation of India for the Fifth Power System Development Project, in order to look into the shortage of power in the country. oberto Zagha, World Bank country director for India, said that the logic of these four loans is to support India’s economic recovery by enabling enterprises to get access to credit and to enable investment in infrastructure.

He further said that it was a long-term need on infrastructure that India has so it makes sense to increase the spending to maintain the high level of employment.

Uttar Pradesh DSP shot by son

Allahabad, Sep 24 (IANS) The son of a deputy superintendent of police (DSP) shot his father and uncle Wednesday night after a brawl in the George Town locality of the city, police said.

The incident took place at around 11.30 p.m.

DSP S.P. Chaudhary received a bullet injury in his head and was rushed to a private hospital in critical condition.

‘Chaudhary’s son, Rajesh, is a drug addict and he entered into a brawl with his uncle. While other family members tried to pacify him, he pulled out a country made weapon and fired at his uncle,’ superintendent of police (City) A.K. Vijeta told IANS over phone.

The bullet first hit Rajesh’s uncle on his hand and then pierced through Chaudhary’s head, he said.

Chaudhary is posted in the Economic Offence Wing (EOW) in Varanasi.

‘Rajesh is absconding and we will nab him soon,’ Vijeta added.

Search for survivors continue after Chhattisgarh chimney crash

Balco Nagar (Chhattisgarh), Sep 24 (IANS) The rescuers early Thursday continued their search for survivors under the debris of an under-construction power plant chimney here of the Bharat Aluminium Company Ltd (Balco) that caved in Wednesday amid heavy rain killing at least 20 labourers.

Dozens of people were waiting at the crash site to know the fate of their loved ones who are belived to be trapped under the rubbles. The workers were employed by the Gannon Dunkerley and Company Ltd (GDCL).

The under-construction chimney would have reached a height of 275-metres on completion but collapsed midway at a height of 100 metres Wednesday afternoon. The chimney is being built for a 1,200 MW coal-fired power plant of Balco.

Meanwhile, the workers have protested against the Balco management and GDCL for alleged security lapses.

The tension, however, eased out after district authorities boosted police presence and assured the workers of stern action against Balco for ‘deadly lapses’.

Korba district collector Ashok Agrawal said the toll could increase. ‘I estimate not less than 50 people, most of them workers, were still under the rubble.’

District authorities have pressed several cranes to clear the debris and kept ambulances ready to take the injured people to hospital.

Chief Minister Raman Singh, who ordered a judicial probe into the tragedy, asked the police to register an FIR against the Balco management for negligence.

He has asked senior minister Brijmohan Agrawal to visit the accident site in Balco Nagar, some 250 km from Raipur, to oversee the rescue operation. The Balco aluminium complex is located in Korba town.

‘It’s a massive accident, we have retrieved 20 bodies so far, dozens are trapped, we are striving hard to pull out the survivors, if any, from the wreckage,’ Ratanlal Dangi, district superintendent of police told IANS.

The Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd holds 51 percent stake in Balco while the remaining 49 percent owned by the government.

Sterlite has invested huge sums of money in the project to double its production capacity. Currently, Balco produces 345,000 tonnes of aluminium per annum.

China calls for world without nuclear weapons

New York, Sep 24 (DPA) China’s President Hu Jintao Wednesday called for a world without nuclear weapons and destruction of all nuclear arsenals, a position similar to that of US President Barack Obama.

Hu will Thursday take part in the nuclear disarmament session of the UN Security Council to be presided over by Obama.

Addressing the UN General Assembly, Hu reiterated Beijing’s call for a ‘complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons’.

‘We call on the international community to take credible steps to push forward the nuclear disarmament process, eradicate the risks of nuclear weapons proliferation and promote peaceful use of nuclear energy and related international cooperation,’ he said.

The US, China, Russia, France and Britain are the world’s declared nuclear powers as well as UN Security Council permanent members with veto power.

But the US and China have yet to ratify a key treaty in nuclear disarmament, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Obama has pledged Washington’s ratification, but Hu did not mention it in his address.

Turning to critics of China’s record on ethnic, human rights and religious issues, Hu called for tolerance in society.

‘We should acknowledge differences in cultural tradition, social system and values and respect the right of all countries to independently choose their development paths,’ he said.

October marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China and Hu said the country will make greater contributions and bring ‘more opportunities’ to the world.

He said his government will increase financial support to countries hard hit by the financial crisis.

Michael Jackson single to be released Oct 12

Los Angeles, Sep 24 (DPA) A new single from Michael Jackson will be released Oct 12, according to an announcement Wednesday on his official website.

The single will be called ‘This Is It’, which was also the title of the planned comeback tour he was about to begin when he died in June from an overdose of powerful sedatives.

The release, which features vocals from Jackson’s brothers, will be followed by the launch of a two-disc album in later July filled with new versions of classic Michael Jackson songs and other new recordings. A film based on footage shot in rehearsals for the comeback engagement is due to hit theatres Oct 28.

‘This song only defines, once again, what the world already knows – that Michael is one of God’s greatest gifts,’ said John McClain, co-producer of the album.

G-20: India to seek greater role inmanaging global economy

Pittsburgh, Sep 24 (IANS) As the leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies gather here Thursday to review their efforts to stem global recession, India is expected to pitch for a more proactive role in the management of the global economy.

As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who arrives here put it before embarking for the summit, ‘It is necessary for India to engage in the management of the world economy because we have a lot at stake, and a lot to contribute.’ He will also ‘convey India’s interest in seeing the earliest possible return to trend growth and stabilisation of the banking and financial sectors in the advanced economies, because this directly affects our exports, capital inflows and investment.’

Having weathered the global meltdown much better than others, a confident India is also expected to seek reform of international financial bodies and forcefully oppose all forms of protectionism that may affect global economic recovery.

As Manmohan Singh has said India ‘would also like to see a strong message to emerge from Pittsburgh against protectionism in all its forms, whether trade in goods, services, investment or financial flows.’

Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia will be the prime minister’s ’sherpa’ or key aide at the two-day summit hosted by US President Barack Obama.

Ahead of the Pittsburgh Summit bringing together a group of countries that accounts for 90 percent of the global output, 80 percent of world trade and two-thirds of humanity, India has also committed to invest up to $10 billion in the IMF to help replenish the fund to help countries struggling in the current financial crisis.

Meeting amid signs of a fading recession, the G-20 leaders are expected to echo their finance ministers and central bank governors who said earlier this month that while it was important to start discussing exit strategies, it was too early to begin carrying them out.

Officials representing the G-20 members have also said it’s unlikely the nations’ leaders will make additional financial commitments on the scale of those made in April, when the G-20 leaders agreed to triple the resources of the IMF, which acts as the world’s lender of last resort.

The G-20 members are working on a more detailed framework for regulatory reform along with firm deadlines. Ultimately, though, it is up to national legislatures to follow through. US Congress is working on a proposal to overhaul financial regulation.

Besides India and the US, the G20 comprises Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, Britain and the EU.

Masked Robbers Use Helicopter To Rob Cash Depot In Stockholm

Bell 206B Jet Ranger II

Bell 206B Jet Ranger II

see larger image

Robbers with machine guns and explosives used a stolen helicopter to break into a dash depot in Stockholm, Sweden on Wednesday morning.

The robbers stole a BELL 206B helicopter, landed it on the roof of G4S Cash, and blasted their way into the building. They then loaded bags of cash into the helicopter and flew away. The cash depot is used to refill ATMs in Stockholm. The police do not want to disclose how much cash was stolen, but according to Svensk Handel, a Swedish business organisation, the robbery may cause a shortage of cash in Stockholm’s ATMs.

A Swedish police officer who wanted to stay anonymous told Swedish news agency TT that he suspects the robbery was an insider job. Police are also saying the helicopter pilot was likely a professional pilot. Police were told not to fire at the helicopter, and could not follow it in police helicopters, as the robbers had placed a bag with suspected explosives in the police hangar. The explosives are currently being examined.

The abandoned helicopter was found in Rönninge, north of Stockholm. One person has been arrested in connection to the robbery.

NSA dismisses DRDO scientist’s claims on Pokhran II as ‘horrific’

NEW DELHI: National Security Adviser M K Narayanan has termed a former DRDO scientist’s claims on Pokhran II nuclear tests as “horrific” and

asserted that India has thermonuclear capabilities which have been verified by a peer group of researchers.

He said that the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), which comprises a peer group of scientists, had last week come out with the “most authoritative” statement on the efficacy of the 1998 nuclear tests and no more clarification was required from the government on the matter.

“They (AEC) were satisfied in 1998 and they were satisfied in 2009. Now what are you going to discuss?” he said to a news channel.
Narayanan said that the AEC, an independent Commission and the highest body in such matters, was asked to study the data of the 1998 nuclear tests once again in the wake of the controversy over the efficacy of the hydrogen bomb following the statements of former DRDO scientist K Santhanam.

“I think, we have done what we have done. Beyond that I do not know what we can do,” he said.

Eminent scientists like C N R Rao, P Rama Rao and M R Srinivasan were members of the AEC and the doyen of the nuclear programme Raja Ramanna was part the apex nuclear body which went into the test results in 1998.

Nine Indian-origin people work in White House

WASHINGTON: At least nine Indian-origin people work in the White House, with some getting $100,000 or more a year, official figures released by

President Barack Obama’s office have revealed.

According to the figures, Sonal Shah, who’s the deputy assistant to the US President and director at Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, gets an annual salary of $120,000.

Both Rachana Bhowmick, who is the director of special projects, and Aditya Kumar, also director of special projects as well as special assistant to Office of Chief of Staff, earn $99,000 a year each.

Those in the salary slab less than $90,000 are Anisha Dasgupta who works as a Counsel at an annual package of $86,927 and Pradeep Ramamurthy, the Director of Response Policy, whose gross salary is $86,927.

The figures, released on the White House blog, also reveal that Kavita Patel who is the Director of Policy for the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement gets USD 65,000 annually, while Shomik Dutta, the Special Assistant to White House Counsel, earns $62,000.

Likewise, White House Policy Advisor Manashi Deshpande earns $54,000 a year while Taara Rangarajan gets $40,000 for her services as Deputy Associate Director.

According to the White House, consistent with Obama’s commitment to transparency, the figures have been disclosed on its website as it is transmitted to the US Congress. Since the year 1995, it’s required to deliver a report every year.

Israel and Palestinians to attend meeting with U.S.

A young Palestinian Muslim girl sits next to worshippers praying by the Dome of Rock Mosque during the first day of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, in the Al Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem's Old City, on Sunday. Photo: AP

A young Palestinian Muslim girl sits next to worshippers praying by the Dome of Rock Mosque during the first day of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, in the Al Aqsa Mosque Compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, on Sunday. Photo: AP

Israel and the Palestinian Authority on Sunday accepted an invitation for a trilateral meeting with President Barack Obama later this week to lay the groundwork for renewed negotiations on Mideast peace.

Mr Obama will host the meeting on Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The three-way meeting, on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, will take place immediately after Mr Obama meets separately with each of the two leaders. It comes shortly after U.S. Special Envoy George Mitchell failed to bridge wide gaps between Israelis and Palestinians during a visit to the region last week.

The main disputes are over Israeli settlements in the West Bank and whether peace talks should begin where they left off under Netanyahu’s predecessors.

A statement from Mr Netanyahu’s office said the Israeli premier “warmly accepts the invitation.”

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat confirmed Mr Abbas would attend the meeting and said he hopes the meeting will renew talks.

The Palestinian leader held talks with Netanyahu’s predecessor, Ehud Olmert, for over a year without achieving an agreement.

Mr Abbas is locked in a power struggle with the Islamic militant group Hamas, which overran the Gaza Strip in 2007, leaving him only in control of the West Bank. Hamas has used lack of progress in negotiations to try to discredit Mr Abbas.

The two sides meet on a regular basis until December when Israel launched a military offensive in Gaza aimed at stopping militants from firing rockets on southern Israel.

Keywords: Israel, Palestinian Authority, President Barack Obama, Mideast peace.

Twittering class takes Tharoor’s side

Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor wit h BJD MP Jay Panda in New Delhi. File Photo: PTI

PTI Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor wit h BJD MP Jay Panda in New Delhi. File Photo: PTI

The Congress party’s censure of Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor over his “cattle class” tweet only seems to have increased his following on the social networking site Twitter. As a twitterer remarked: “Shashi Tharoor is now Twitter’s brand ambassador in India.”

On Thursday night Mr. Tharoor had a following of 1,69,096 on the site. By Saturday evening the numbers had gone up by over 16,000 and growing every minute, with the majority of twitterers showing no signs of being offended by the “unacceptable” remark. To the contrary, most thought it was the Congress that had come off poorly from the episode. “Grumpy idiots with no humour” was how one twitterer described “this needless problem on Shashi Tharoor tweets.” Others wondered why “people can’t even take a joke” and why “we Indians cannot afford to have witty politicians.”

Unsurprisingly, there was praise on the site for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s “mature” handling of the affair. Dr. Singh had dismissed the whole thing as bantering (“ nok jhok toh hotee rahtee hai”) on Friday, which clearly was the “cool thing” to say with the twittering class. “The ruckus on Shashi Tharoor is created by lousy politicians. PM’s comment speaks of a mature politico, others should learn,” said a twitterer.

The Prime Minister’s genteel intervention also lowered tempers within the Congress. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who had asked for Mr. Tharoor’s resignation, indicated that the subject was closed.

Spokespersons, who had earlier said the “cattle class” comment was unacceptable, too refused to “add or subtract” to the official stand. Nonetheless, it was clear that it would be sometime before the controversy blew over.

Congresspersons, many of them clearly upset by the meteoric rise of the “rank outsider,” continued to attack Mr. Tharoor in private. There were also murmurs about the Prime Minister’s light-hearted quip being at variance with the stern view of the party.

Yet it was not all brickbats for Mr. Tharoor in the Congress. A senior Minister indulgently said, “Mr. Tharoor would learn the hard way to weigh his words.” Outside the political class, too, many are wondering what the fuss is all about. Indeed, by over-reacting, the Congress had shown itself to be “dour and humourless” which did not quite gel with its self-image of a party of Generation-next that was modern and forward-looking.

Congress watchers say that by flying off the handle at Mr. Tharoor’s supposed indiscretion, the party has missed a chance to show how different it was from the Bharatiya Janata Party whose intolerance was evident in the expulsion of Jaswant Singh. The Congress has proved itself to be nearly equal to the BJP in not allowing space for different and irreverent views. Had the Congress taken the “cattle class” and “holy cows” comments in its stride, who knows, it might have added the twittering class to its vote bank.

In any case, it is not clear who the Congress was addressing by taking the hard line. The twitterers are laughing, the middle class is indifferent to what has been mainly a media preoccupation, and the aam aadmi is battling too many survival problems to nitpick on tweets.

Keywords: Twitter, Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State for External Affairs, cattle class twitter, Congress, aam aadmi, Twitter’s brand ambassador in India

Beijing lockdown ahead of National Day

A file photo of Dashilan, a major commercial center near Qianmen in downtown Beijing. On September 17, a man stabbed two people to death with a knife and wounded 12 others. China has since increased security in preparation for China's 60th anniversary.

AP A file photo of Dashilan, a major commercial center near Qianmen in downtown Beijing. On September 17, a man stabbed two people to death with a knife and wounded 12 others. China has since increased security in preparation for China’s 60th anniversary.

Unprecendented security cordons the Chinese capital ahead of its 60th National Day celebrations.

Tanks and troops on Saturday lined the empty streets of China’s capital that has been placed under a heavy lockdown amid security concerns ahead of the country’s National Day celebrations.

With the People’s Republic of China’s marking its 60th anniversary on October 1, Beijing has in recent days been swarmed by thousands of troops, police and security volunteers as the government, wary of any unrest, conducted a massive security operation in preparation for the National Day.

On Friday and Saturday, large parts of the city were effectively shut down and closed to the public as soldiers and tanks conducted a rehearsal for the National Day parade, which will see a military display of thousands of troops along Beijing’s Avenue of Eternal Peace, the grand east-west road that runs through the heart of the city past Tiananmen Square.

The government has announced a string of measures in recent weeks to tighten security before October 1, some peculiar and others unpopular with this city’s residents. An official this week declared the skies a “no fly zone”, banning “pigeons, kites and balloons,” in a city where pigeon-flying is a popular pastime.

For the unfortunate residents of neighbourhoods that were closed down this weekend, this meant even home was off limits. “I was stranded outside my house for hours as there were military tanks in my doorstep!” exclaimed one resident, who only gave his last name as Zhou. “The restrictions are too much, but it’s the 60th anniversary so I can understand why they have to do this.”

A spate of stabbing incidents in recent days near Tiananmen Square, the city’s most heavily guarded landmark, has further raised the concerns of officials.

On Saturday, a French woman was stabbed in a restaurant south of the square and is currently being treated. This followed a stabbing spree on Thursday in a shopping area south of the square, when a man wielding a knife killed two security guards and injured 12 others.

Officials did not say if the incidents were related, but have tightened already heavy security measures.

Around one million “security volunteers” will trawl the city’s neighbourhoods in coming days in what will be the largest security operation the city has seen. While many residents feel the measures are excessive, authorities have justified the clampdown saying the government faced an “overwhelming task” to maintain stability.

Zhou Yongkang, a member of the Communist Party’s Standing Committee this week called for a “Peoples War” to maintain security. He called for officials and volunteers to “fully prepare themselves for the most complicated situation.”

Officials have not mentioned any specific threats, but are clearly not taking any chances. Restrictions have already been placed on the movement of vehicles from other provinces. The city’s migrant population has also been asked to register themselves with officials, and officials said the movement of migrant workers will be regulated.

With many residents voicing their annoyance at the government’s measures, officials said on Saturday this weekends disruptions would be the last before October 1. “We had planned another rehearsal on September 26, but it has been called off to avoid further affecting the public,” an official said.

Police visits to the homes of residents who live along the avenue on which the parade will take place have also become regular. Residents have been told to “close their windows and stay away from balconies” that overlook the street on October 1. “If we cant see the parade, who are they putting it up for?” one aggrieved resident remarked.

Obama to meet Netanyahu and Abbas

In this Sept. 14 file photo President Barack Obama speaks about the financial crisis on the anniversary of the Lehman Brothers collapse at Federal Hall on Wall Street in New York. AP

AP In this Sept. 14 file photo President Barack Obama speaks about the financial crisis on the anniversary of the Lehman Brothers collapse at Federal Hall on Wall Street in New York. AP

President Barack Obama will host a meeting on Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in an effort to lay the groundwork for renewed negotiations on Mideast peace.

The meeting comes at a time when U.S. efforts were encountering strong resistance in the region.

The three-way meeting will take place immediately after Mr. Obama meets separately with each of the two leaders, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said on Saturday.

Special Envoy George Mitchell says it is another sign of Mr. Obama’s commitment to comprehensive peace. The meetings will take place in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting.

No announcement is expected at the meeting of the three leaders, according to an administration official. But Mr. Obama scheduled the meeting to show his personal commitment to making progress, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the discussions.

On Friday, the possibility of a three-way meeting had been in doubt because Mr. Mitchell failed to bridge wide gaps between Israelis and Palestinians.

Mr. Obama has set the renewal of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks as a major goal of his young presidency, and dispatched Mr. Mitchell as a White House envoy to soften the ground on both sides. Mr. Mitchell has had a hard go, with a new hawkish Israeli leader on one side and an increasingly dispirited Palestinian leader on the other.

Over four days, Mr. Mitchell met twice with Mr. Abbas and four times with Mr. Netanyahu, including twice on Friday before Mr. Mitchell left the Middle East.

The key disputes are over Israeli settlement expansion and whether peace talks should begin where they left off under Mr. Netanyahu’s predecessors.

Israel has balked at a U.S. demand that it freeze settlement construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, war-won territory the Palestinians want for their state. Under a U.S.-sponsored plan from 2003, Israel is required to freeze all such construction.

If next week’s three-way meeting is not based on a settlement freeze it will mark a further setback for the already weakened Mr. Abbas.

Mr. Netanyahu wants to continue building about 3,000 housing units on the West Bank, while offering to curtail other construction for several months. Nearly half a million Israelis have moved to the West Bank and east Jerusalem since Israel captured the territories in the 1967 Mideast War, and Palestinians fear the growing settlements will make a viable state impossible.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has been the most forthright member of the Obama administration in demanding a full stop to Israeli settlement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. She has insisted on a halt to “natural growth,” the Israeli term for expansion to accommodate the children of the already large settler population.

Mr. Netanyahu and his defence minister, Ehud Barak, are veterans of past peace talks who took office this year as hardliners opposed to new concessions to the Palestinians. Mr. Abbas had begun peace talks with Mr. Netanyahu’s scandal-tinged predecessor, Ehud Olmert, with little to show for it.

Mr. Barak is due to meet Defence Secretary Robert Gates on Monday.

The Bush administration had hoped to draw Mr. Olmert and Mr. Abbas into serious talks about issues that had not been on the table for years, including the borders of an eventual Palestinian state. Mr. Abbas was weakened from the start by an internal Palestinian division, and Mr. Olmert by his own political troubles. Their meetings were cordial but superficial, and more substantive staff-level discussions looked promising but ended up in a fizzle.

Mr. Abbas is locked in a power struggle with the Islamic militant group Hamas, which overran the Gaza Strip in 2007, leaving him only in control of the West Bank. Hamas has used lack of progress in negotiations to try to discredit Mr. Abbas.

Pakistan wants additional information in 26/11 case

The additional information Pakistan is seeking relates to forensic data for a piece of pink foam, said to have been recovered by Indian investigators from the boat that the Mumbai attackers used. Photo: AP

AP The additional information Pakistan is seeking relates to forensic data for a piece of pink foam, said to have been recovered by Indian investigators from the boat that the Mumbai attackers used. Photo: AP

Pakistan has asked India for additional information in the Mumbai attacks case relating to the forensics of the evidence available with Indian investigators.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Saturday Pakistan’s indent for more information was included in a dossier handed over by the Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir to Indian High Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal here. The dossier also recaps and updates the investigations into the Mumbai attack by Pakistan.

The additional information Pakistan is seeking relates to forensic data for a piece of pink foam, said to have been recovered by Indian investigators from the boat that the Mumbai attackers used.

Some pink foam was also recovered by Pakistani investigators and Mr. Malik said an exact match between the two was needed to present as evidence in court.

Pakistan also wants the forensic analysis of the communication intercepts between the attackers and their handlers, and the details of a Yamaha engine that powered the dinghy used by the attackers to land on the Mumbai shoreline.

Mr. Malik said Pakistani investigators were also seeking the certified depositions made by witnesses in the Mumbai trial court, particularly by the officials of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations.

“We want maximum information from India because we want to make our case solid and credible in such a way that culprits do not get benefit of doubt,” the Minister told a press conference. “We want to take the entire investigation to its logical conclusion, that is we want to get them convictions.”

The Pakistani investigators, Mr. Malik said, had already done a professional job of turning sketchy information into “tangible evidence” that could be presented in court.

Seven important suspects had been arrested – they include the Lashkar-e-Toiba operations chief Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi – and charges would be framed against them at the next hearing of the anti-terrorism court, Mr. Malik said.

An in camera hearing of the proceedings in the case was held at the ATC in Adiala Jail on Saturday. The Interior Minister revealed that judge Baqir Ali Rana had announced that he would formally indict the seven at the next hearing on September 26

In addition, 101 witness statements had been recorded; 126 pieces of evidence seized; “a number of” hideouts identified; bank accounts connected to the case traced; and, a boat used in transporting the attackers seized.

“The results have been tremendously good,” Mr. Malik said. “What we have done in this short time nobody could have done”

While this was not being appreciated, he said, “what we have not done is being advocated against us, and [that] is Hafiz Saeed.”

He lamented that had India shared information from the interrogation of Fahim Ansari, who was arrested in 2008, the attack could have been prevented.

“Our concern is, why this information was not shared with us,” he said.

Hafiz Saeed should be interrogated for 26/11 attacks: Chidambaram

Home minister P Chidambaram on Monday demanded that Pakistan interrogate JuD chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed for the Mumbai terror attacks as

all the evidence against him was on its soil.

Reacting to reports that Saeed has been placed under house arrest, Chidambaram said he has no objection even if it was a “face-saving technique” by Pakistan.

“My demand is that now that he has been arrested he should be interrogated on the 26/11 incidents. His role in the 26/11 attacks must be investigated,” he told reporters here on the sidelines of a function here.

“Evidence is in Pakistani soil. When Pakistan says give us evidence, evidence is not on Indian soil, all the evidence against Hafiz Saeed is on Pakistani soil,” he said.

“Therefore, one must investigate in Pakistan and find the evidence in Pakistan,” he said.

The home minister said two FIRs, which were filed against Saeed on Friday by Pakistani authorities, are unrelated to 26/11 attacks.

India has been insisting that Pakistan should take action against Saeed for his role in masterminding the Mumbai attacks but Pakistani authorities have claimed that the evidence provided by New Delhi against the JuD chief is not adequate for arresting or prosecuting him.

‘Hafiz Saeed under house arrest’

In this May 23, 2005 photo, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, chief of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, is seen in Islamabad.

AP In this May 23, 2005 photo, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, chief of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, is seen in Islamabad.

Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, the mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, has been placed under house arrest in this eastern Pakistani city, according to media reports.

Police have imposed restrictions on the movement of banned Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed and barred him from leading Eid prayers at the Gaddafi Stadium.

“Police party has been deputed outside his residence restricting his movement,” Geo News said.

A police contingent was deployed outside Saeed’s home in Johar Town area of Lahore late last night to restrict his movements. However, it was not clear if he had been officially put under house arrest.

TV news channels reported that Saeed’s movements had been restricted for reasons of security. There was no official word on the issue.

Saeed, also the founder of the Lashker-e-Taiba, was expected to lead the Eid-ul-Fitr prayers at the Gaddafi

Stadium here.

The move moves three days after Pakistani authorities filed two cases against Saeed, also the founder of LeT which is blamed for the Mumbai attacks, under the anti-terrorism act. The fresh charges slapped on him have nothing to do with the 26/11 strikes.

India has been insisting that Pakistan should take action against Saeed for his role in masterminding the Mumbai attacks but authorities here have claimed that the evidence provided by New Delhi against the JuD chief is not adequate for arresting or prosecuting him.

Keywords: Hafiz Saeed, house arrest, JuD, mumbai terror

U.S. wanted safe exit for Musharraf: envoy

Pervez Musharraf.

PTI Pervez Musharraf.

The United States has revealed, for the first time, that it wanted a “safe exit” for the former Pakistani military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, after he was forced to step down from the post of head of state last year.

Anne W Patterson, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, said Washington wanted a “safe exit” and a dignified retirement for the former President, the Daily Times newspaper reported on Sunday, quoting a private TV news channel.

The U.S. envoy underlined that Washington had wanted a peaceful transition to democracy.

The possibility of General Musharraf being tried for treason has arisen after the Supreme Court recently declared the emergency imposed by him in 2007 as unconstitutional and illegal. However, the U.S. envoy said the demands for General Musharraf’s trial for treason under Article 6 of Pakistan’s Constitution were the country’s internal matter.

“Now he [General Musharraf] has become a thing of the past and we have no position on him,” she was quoted as saying in the report by the Pakistani daily.

Last week, a row had erupted among political parties here after media reports quoted President Asif Ali Zardari as saying the former military ruler was given a “safe exit” after his resignation last year because of a negotiated settlement guaranteed by “international and local” stakeholders.


A top Taliban commander, who was captured after being injured seriously in a gun battle with security forces in Pakistan’s restive Swat valley, succumbed to his wounds on Sunday, said the military.

“Sher Mohammad Qasab, who had multiple bullet wounds, succumbed to his injuries on Sunday morning,” said the military in a statement.

A team of Army doctors was treating Qasab but “he could not survive.” Qasab, who was carrying a reward of Rs. 10 million on his head offered by the NWFP government, was a close aide of Maulana Fazlullah, chief of the Taliban in Swat.

Keywords: Pervez Musharraf, safe exit, United States, Anne W Patterson, Zardari, Taliban

China begins work on space centre

A ground-breaking ceremony being held in Wenchang, Hainan Province, marking the beginning of construction of a new space launch centre recently. Photo: Xinhua

A ground-breaking ceremony being held in Wenchang, Hainan Province, marking the beginning of construction of a new space launch centre recently. Photo: Xinhua

China has begun construction of its space launch centre in Wenchang City, on the northeast coast of the tropical island province of Hainan, scheduled to be completed by 2013.

The Hainan Space Launch Center, the fourth and the lowest latitude one in China, only 19 degrees north of the equator, would allow it to take part in more international commercial space launches, said Wang Weichang, director of the Hainan Space Launch Center Project Headquarters.

He said the site would be mainly used for launching synchronous satellites, heavy satellites, large space stations and deep space probe satellites. The centre consists of a space launch port, a space theme park, a rocket assembling plant, a rocket launch base and the command centre.

The centre is designed to handle up to 10-12 rocket launches a year, according to Mr. Wang.

He said China’s current three space launch centres in Jiuquan, Taiyuan and Xichang — all landlocked in western plateau and mountainous regions — lack commercial development and are inconvenient for transportation. Long Lehao, a career rocket expert with the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said the Wenchang centre would increase the payload mass of rockets by more than 300 kg, 7.4 per cent more than that from the other three centres.

He explained that rockets to be launched from Wenchang would consume less fuel to get into orbit, because of its better location.

“A satellite launched from Wenchang will be able to extend its service life by three years as a result of the fuel saved from the shorter manoeuvre from the transit orbit to the geosynchronous orbit.” Liang Xiaohong, vice-president of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, said the centre was likely to be the launch base for the new-generation Long March 5 large-thrust carrier rocket, which is under development.

Keywords: China, Hainan Space Launch Center, Wenchang

A.Q. Khan “exposes” Islamabad role

For the first time a letter, purported to have been written by A.Q.Khan, the “father” of Pakistan’s nuclear programme disclosing Islamabad’s role in supplying nuclear technology to North Korea, Iran and Libya, has been published.

The Sunday Times claimed that in the letter dated December 10, 2003 and addressed to his Dutch wife Henny he expressed fear for his life saying: “They might try to get rid of me to cover up all the things they got done by me.” It reportedly further says: “Darling, if the government plays any mischief with me take a tough stand.”

The newspaper reproduced a facsimile of the four-page letter. “In numbered paragraphs, it outlines Pakistan’s nuclear cooperation with China, Iran and North Korea and also mentions Libya,” according to Simon Henderson, the author of The Sunday Times story.

He claims that he acquired a copy of the “secret letter” in 2007. Another copy of the letter was reportedly seized by the Dutch police in a raid on one of Dr. Khan’s brothers in Amsterdam in 2004.

“Just four pages long, it is an extraordinary letter, the contents of which have been never revealed before. Dated December 10, 2003 ….it is handwritten, in apparent haste,” Mr. Henderson writes.

Dr Khan, once idolized by his countrymen, fell from grace after being accused of sharing nuclear secrets with Libya, North Korea and Iran and a made a televised confession. He was placed under house arrest by Pervez Musharraf.

Keywords: A.Q. Khan, pakistan, nuclear programme, Libya, North Korea

Blair touts 10 million jobs from climate action

Former British prime minister Tony Blair

AP Former British prime minister Tony Blair

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair says he hopes to break the “deadlock” in global climate talks with evidence that 10 million jobs could be created by 2020, if developing nations agree to big cuts in greenhouse gases.

Mr. Blair, heading up a climate initiative, released a report that also shows a global climate agreement could increase the world’s GDP by 0.8 per cent by 2020, as compared with the projected gross domestic product with no climate action.

He was visiting New York ahead of a U.N. climate summit drawing 100 world leaders tomorrow and a flurry of supporting events in New York City this week.

The events are intended to build support for crafting a new climate deal in Copenhagen, Denmark in December to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, requiring mandatory cuts in atmospheric warming gases, that expires at the end of 2012.

Mr. Blair’s report, one of a series he is promoting, is based on computer modelling by Cambridge University economists. He called the upcoming Copenhagen negotiations “the moment when we move from a campaign to a policy program” that clears the hurdles of exactly how the world’s main economies will cut emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other industrial warming gases.

“I think it is essential that we get an agreement at Copenhagen,” he said. “I think it is possible, and the purpose of the report is to show that in economic terms, certainly in the medium and long—term, it’s hugely to our economic benefit to get a global agreement.”

Mr. Blair acknowledged the costs of investment in new forms of energy that emit fewer warming gases — wind, solar panels, nuclear power, electric vehicles, so-called “smart grid” plans using more renewable forms of energy — are daunting, particularly on the heels of a global financial crisis.

“It’s politically very tough for people, because short-term, obviously, people have got to take measures that are difficult,” he said. “In the medium and long-term, there are real benefits from doing this.”

Much could depend on the U.S. Senate, where the prospects of legislation to follow up on a House plan and deal with U.S. greenhouse gases that account for about a fifth of the world’s emissions is considered a steep uphill fight.

China, the other main emitter, accounts for another fifth, and is expected to announce major climate plans this week.

The Obama administration has announced a target of returning to 1990 levels of greenhouse emissions by 2020, while China is seeking to use 15 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Keywords: Tony Blair, U.N. climate summit, climate change

Lucknow girl to address world leaders on climate change

A 13-year-old girl from Lucknow, speaking on behalf of the world’s three billion children, will address over a 100 world leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama during a summit on the climate change here on Tuesday.

“I’m going to tell him (Obama) that the policies that they make today are going to affect us and if they act in present then they have secured the future for us,” Yugratna Srivastava told PTI.

“We received a very nice planet from our ancestors. It was green, now we have damaged it, polluted it, and we’re going to give a bad planet to our successors and this is not right,” Ms. Srivastava, who is also on the youth advisory board of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)’s youth organisation called ‘Tunza’ (to nurture), added.

“Please listen to the voices of youth and children, and please try your best to solve all the environmental crises that are occurring in our community,” is her message to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.

The ninth class student of St. Fidelis College will be addressing more than a 100 world leaders at the General Assembly during the Climate Change Summit convened by the U.N. Chief Ban Ki-moon. India will be represented by the Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna and Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.

This summit is being held to mobilise political will ahead of the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December, which is expected to yield a climate treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.

“They (the world leaders) have to take into account the opinion of the three billion youths,” Ms. Srivastava said.

“They can’t exclude us so we are ready to help them and provide full support to them to have a green planet.”

Commenting on the divide between the developed and developing world on the issue, Ms. Srivastava noted, “Each country should do its best since environmental problems never differentiate political or geographical boundaries.”

“Whatever protocol they make, it should be an action oriented one and they should enforce them,” she added.

The UNEP was very impressed with Ms. Srivastava’s performance at a meeting in Daejeon, South Korea, which produced a youth statement on climate change on the road to Copenhagen. She was selected for Tunza after speaking at the high-level event through a competitive process.

The young environmentalist said that she was proud to represent India.

The conservationist recommends that everyone should save water, conserve electricity and plant trees. “The world will change only if each individual changes,” she puts it simply.

On the web, Ms. Srivastava tweets urgent messages about saving the planet. While she is anxious about her big speech, the young leader is also glad to miss her exams in school.

“I’m pretty nervous but I’m also confident that I have the voice of three billion of the population that will reach them and they will have to act,” she said.

S. Korea’s top nuclear envoy travels to US

Russia's deputy nuclear negotiator Grigory Logvinov, left, shakes hands with South Korean chief nuclear envoy Wi Sung-Lac, during their meeting in Seoul on September 8. File photo: AP

AP Russia’s deputy nuclear negotiator Grigory Logvinov, left, shakes hands with South Korean chief nuclear envoy Wi Sung-Lac, during their meeting in Seoul on September 8. File photo: AP

South Korea: South Korea’s top nuclear envoy departed on Sunday for the United States for talks on how to convince North Korea to return to stalled international disarmament negotiations.

Wi Sung-lac said his trip would focus on possible direct talks between Washington and Pyongyang as a way to resume broader six-nation nuclear talks involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan, Yonhap news agency reported.

North Korea has been insisting on one-on-one negotiations after it pulled out of the six-party talks to protest international criticism of its rocket launch. Washington, which had strictly demanded the North first return to the six-party talks, is now, considering direct talks as part of its efforts to restart the six-party process.

On Friday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il reportedly expressed willingness to engage in “bilateral and multilateral talks,” an indication the country could rejoin the six-party process.

Mr. Wi’s office said the envoy would accompany officials attending the U.N. General Assembly and meet U.S. officials to discuss the resumption of the six-party talks.

North Korea’s state media said the country on Friday dispatched a delegation led by Vice Foreign Minister Pak Kil Yon to the U.N. General Assembly.

World’s Most Expensive Cars

World's Most Expensive Cars Hannah Elliott, Forbes.comHate the smell of exhaust or the skunk you just passed on the highway? If you buy the Maybach 62 Zeppelin, your nose will never have to suffer again. The car comes with a built-in, illuminated atomizer that gently diffuses the fragrance of your choice throughout the cabin.Granted, that peace of mind will cost you–to the tune of $506,500. But that’s the low end when looking at the limits of what money can buy at the dealership. For a whopping $1.8 million you can get the Cinque Roadster, which features a stunning 678 horsepower V12 engine, carbon fiber racing seats, a titanium suspension and a 0-60 mph time of 3.3 seconds.But those who still don’t want to be outdone should consider the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport or the Koenigsegg CCXR, both of which cost more than $2 million.The auto industry may have fallen considerably this year, but that doesn’t mean those who can afford to spend six- or seven-figure sums on a luxury vehicle are lacking options.Behind the Numbers To compile our list of the most expensive cars this year, we reviewed price lists from all the ultra-luxury automakers that had the potential to produce a contender this year for the top spot, including Bentley, Bugatti, Ferrari, Koenigsegg, Lamborghini, Leblanc, Maserati, Maybach, Mercedes-Benz, Pagani, Porsche, Rolls-Royce, Saleen, Shelby SuperCars and Spyker.We narrowed our terms for the list by choosing only cars that are currently in production and street legal, which eliminated the discontinued $653,000 Enzo Ferrari, $585,000 Saleen S7 and $500,000 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Roadster, among others. Prices do not include taxes; some prices have been converted from euros to dollars. And not all of the vehicles on our list are sold in the U.S.

It’s been a mixed bag this year for purveyors of ultra-luxury cars. Maybach sold 12 cars last month–the same amount it sold in July of this year. Rolls-Royce sold twice that, up 50% over July. Ferrari, Maserati and Bentley saw relatively routine year-over-year declines of 10%, 31% and 43%, respectively. But all of them except Rolls are down more than 50% in a year when the total auto industry saw a comparatively small 28% decrease year-to-date.

When sales do bounce back, expect luxury cars to recover slower than traditional segments. Lincoln Merrihew, the managing director of automotive, petroleum and travel for Compete, a unit of the market research firm TNS, says the delayed recovery is due in part to the fact that these cars never see Cash for Clunkers-type incentives. They also have a shelf-life that matters: The difference between one model year and another is significant for collectors and connoisseur-investors, who notice even the most minute changes in body styling, horsepower or interior trappings.

But more than anything, even people who can afford to buy a $1.5 million Lamborghini Reventon LINK are going to think about just when and how to make the purchase, if at all, Merrihew says.

“There have been times when the U.S. was in recession or Japan was in recession or Europe was, but the rest of the world wasn’t,” he says. “This time, it’s a global event–so there isn’t a safe haven for these products, and even their distinctiveness isn’t going to help.”

The Price of Luxury According to Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Manhattan-based Luxury Institute, the custom-built options and concierge-like service the very wealthy expect in their cars will keep them coming back to Rolls-Royce and Bentley, even in hard times.

A heady mix of image, exclusivity, design and racing technology makes these cars expensive. The Pagani Zonda F Roadster runs on a V12 Mercedes-Benz AMG engine, but it costs almost $1 million more than the McLaren Roadster, which also has an AMG engine, albeit with less power and racing technology. There’s a certain component of exclusivity in that Pagani Zonda mark-up as well: Production is limited to 25 units.

Those who purchase a $1.4 million Pagani Zonda F Coupe are buying into a racing heritage–and Formula One engineering. The car’s body design and specialized crash structure (built to maintain safety at ultra high speeds) are derived directly from race car aerodynamics.

Expensive cars also have bespoke qualities and standard amenities that connoisseurs simply can’t get anywhere else. The $1.4 million Maybach Landaulet is a chauffeur-driven car with a top that can be opened fully at the rear, while the chauffeur’s compartment remains completely enclosed. A partition screen with clear glass and curtains dissects the car, and folding tables in the back allow for afternoon Champagne lunches on the go–on reclining white-leather seats, of course. When the weather doesn’t allow for such things, there’s a Dunhill umbrella stowed in a special slot on the door.

While that may seem excessive, there’s still a market. And industry experts say that ultra-luxury automakers must control production numbers, maintain superior service standards and invest in new technology if they want to survive–and thrive–during and after the recession.

When the wealthy are ready to start handing over their American Express cards again more freely, the automakers had better have something different and unique available.

The PSLV-C12 lifts off from Sriharikota on April 20, 2009, with two satellites, the RISAT-2 and the Anusat, on board. File photo: S. Thathoni

The Hindu The PSLV-C12 lifts off from Sriharikota on April 20, 2009, with two satellites, the RISAT-2 and the Anusat, on board. File photo: S. Thathoni

Filling of liquid fuel in the second stage of the Rs.70-crore Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket that would carry the Rs.130-crore Oceansat2 — India’s remote sensing satellite — on Wednesday afternoon was progressing smoothly at India’s rocket launch centre in Sriharikota, around 80 km from here.

The PSLV would also carry six other nano satellites. The 51-hour countdown for the sixth flight of PSLV’s core alone version (rocket without its six strap-on motors) started Monday 9 a.m.

Speaking to IANS from Bangalore, S. Satish, director, publications and public relations of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), said: “The four-stage rocket uses solid and liquid fuel alternatively. The first and third stages are fired by solid fuel and the third and fourth stages are powered by liquid fuel.”

While the solid fuel is cast ready, the liquid fuel will be filled in the two days preceding the rocket launch.

According to Mr. Satish, filling of the second stage with 41.5 tonnes of fuel will take around 10 hours.

Into the flight, the second stage fuel will burn for 147 seconds developing a maximum thrust of 799 kilo Newton (kN) — a Newton is a measure of force needed to accelerate one kilogram mass at one metre per second squared.

The first stage carrying 139 tonnes of propellant is one of the largest solid propellant boosters in the world and will burn for 101 seconds to develop 4,817 kN.

The third stage uses 7.6 tonnes of solid fuel (112 seconds burning time; thrust 238kN) and the fourth has twin engine configuration with 2.5 tonnes of liquid propellant that will burn for 497 seconds and the thrust will be 14.6kN — both engines put together.

According to Mr. Satish, the rocket will blast off the first launch pad at 11.51 a.m. on Wednesday for its flight during which it would earn an unspecified amount of dollars as the carriage fee from the European owners of six nano satellites, piggy backing on the 960kg Oceansat2.

The Indian satellite will be ejected into a sun-synchronous orbit 720 km above the earth and it will cover the whole earth as the coverage strip will be moving.

The orbit is designed in such a way that the satellite will cross the Equator at 12 noon near India.

A global leader in remote sensing data, India has till date launched 15 remote sensing satellites of which nine are still in operation.

Even the Oceansat1 launched in 1999 is in service and will go into oblivion slowly.

According to Mr. Satish, the design life of Oceansat2 is five years and it may outlast that period like its earlier version.
Keywords: Polar Satellite Launch VehiclePSLV rocketOceansat2, remote sensing satellites, rocket launch centreSriharikota

Earthquake rocks Assam and north eastern States

An earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale rocked parts of Assam and other northeastern states of India Monday afternoon.

The tremors were felt at 2.26 p.m. No casualties were reported immediately.

The epicentre was plotted along the India-Bhutan border, 125 km northwest of Guwahati.

Preliminary reports say cracks developed in apartments and concrete structures in Guwahati.

This is the fifth and the highest intensity earthquake to have rocked the northeast since August 13, according to the Regional Seismological Centre of Shillong.

Keywords: EarthquakeAssamNorth East

Santhanam hits back at NSA

Former DRDO scientist K Santhanam, who has questioned the success of 1998 Pokhran nuclear tests, on Monday hit out at NSA M K Narayanan, saying the official was “barking up the wrong tree” by contending he was not privy to test measurements and information.

Terming the remarks by the NSA as “unnecessary”, he also demanded that an independent panel probe the success of the Pokhran tests.

Mr. Narayanan is “barking up the wrong tree”, he said at an interaction with journalists at the Indian Women Press Corp here.

Mr. Santhanam also sought to counter claims by Mr. Narayanan and others in the establishment that he was not privy to the test measurements and information on Pokhran-II tests.

The former DRDO scientist had last month questioned the efficacy of the thermonuclear device during the Pokhran-II tests. He had described the May 11, 1998 tests as a ‘fizzle’ (failure to achieve expected yield) and said India needed to conduct more tests besides not signing CTBT.

Mr. Narayanan has termed Mr. Santhanam’s claims about Pokhran-II as “horrific” and asserted that India has thermonuclear capabilities which have been verified by a peer group of researchers.

Keywords: K SanthanamNSAM K Narayananthermonuclear testsDRDO

Maoists asks Railway staff to close station in Orissa

Three weeks after rendering it defunct by triggering explosions, armed Maoists stormed into the railway station at Roxi, about 90 km from here, and asked its staff to close the station, RPF sources said here on Monday.

Shouting slogans: “station band karo” (close the station), a large number of red rebels asked the staff- assistant station master (ASM) Arbind Kumar and porter- to leave the building, they said.

The ultras did not harm anyone and traffic was normal on the route, the sources said.

The station, under Rourkela-Barsuan section in Orissa’s Sundargarh district, has remained dysfunctional since early this month as the Maoists had caused extensive damage to it by triggering blasts.

It was yet to become operational as construction and repair work still continuing, the sources said.

The single gauge line, about 60 to 70 km of which passes through the foot-hills of Maoist-infested Saranda jungles on the Orissa—Jharkhand border, is mainly used for transportation of iron ore from Barsuan mines area to Rourkela Steel Plant.

Keywords: OrissaMaoistsRailway station,

WGC launches gold festival across nation to attract consumers

The HIndu

In order to cash in on the rising festive demand the World Gold Council today said it has tied up with leading retailers across five cities in India from September 19 to October 19 to organise a gold festival named ’The Great Indian Gold Rush’

“This is the first time that the World Gold Council will present a festival of such magnitude to the Indian consumer.

Through ‘The Great Indian Gold Rush’, we aim to make gold more accessible by associating with leading retailers across India,” WGC Managing Director – Indian Subcontinent – Ajay Mitra said in a statement here.

‘The Great Indian Gold Rush’ has seen the participation of 40 jewellers from Mumbai through 63 outlets, 47 jewellers from Delhi through 71 outlets, 15 jewellers in Bangalore through 25 outlets and 20 participants and 20 retailers from across the Vidarbha region, it said.

As gold has special relevance for the Indian festive season, this gold festival will ensure that consumers are more connected to the precious metal through lucky draw prizes, the statement said.

Keywords: WGC, Gold prices

India, Pak Foreign ministers to meet on Sep 27

The Hindu

Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan will meet in New York on September 27 when Islamabad’s commitment and action against terror emanating from its soil will come under review.

Pakistan’s action against perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks will top the agenda of the meeting, which will take place on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, the first high—level contact between the two countries after the meeting between their Prime Ministers in July.

To prepare ground for the meeting, Foreign Secretaries of both the countries will meet on September 26 during which Salman Bashir will discuss with his Indian counterpart Nirupama Rao all issues between the two countries, including terrorism and the “core issue” of Kashmir.

“The Foreign Secretaries meeting is being held in accordance with the decisions made during the talks between the Prime Ministers of Pakistan and India at Sharm el-Sheikh in July,” Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said.

“All the issues between the two countries, including terrorism and the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir, will be discussed in these meetings,” he told state-run APP, when asked about the agenda for the two meetings.

While Pakistan has been asking India to resume the stalled peace process, New Delhi maintains that any meaningful dialogue with Islamabad can only be based on fulfilment of its commitment not to allow its territory to be used in any manner for terrorist activities against it.

“The Foreign Ministers will meet to discuss the agenda prepared by the two Foreign Secretaries,” Bashir said.

He expressed the hope that these meetings will pave the way for the formal resumption of the stalled peace process between the two countries.

The meeting is a follow-up of the Summit meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt on July 16.

Keywords: IndiaPakistanbilateral relationstalks

Tharoor meets Sonia, Pranab; Party asks him to be careful

New Delhi: After triggering a controversy by his “cattle class” remark, Union Minister Shashi Tharoor today met Congress President Sonia Gandhi and was asked by the party to desist from any comments or actions, even jokingly, that would hurt the sentiments of common people.Soon after his return from Liberia and Ghana where he was on an official visit, Tharoor met Gandhi amid demands for his resignation as Minister of State for External Affairs.Later he also met senior Congress leader and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.A glum-faced Tharoor did not speak to waiting mediapersons after his meetings with Gandhi and Mukherjee.While it was not known what transpired during these meetings, party spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed said “any well-wisher of the party, Government and Tharoor will advise him to desist from any comments or action even jokingly that would hurt the sentiments of the common man.”His comment on his Twitter last week dubbing travel in economy class as “cattle class” had evoked strong rebuke from the AICC.”We totally condemn it (Tharoor’s comments). The statement is not in sync with our political culture. His remarks are not acceptable given the sensitivity of all Indians,” AICC spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan had said. .

Health Min asks officials to undertake austerity

New Delhi: As part of the government’s austerity drive, Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad today asked officials in his ministry to undertake only “unavoidable” foreign trips and prune domestic travel whenever possible.

Azad wrote to his officials asking them to seek his approval only for “unavoidable foreign travel and that too with minimum number of members in the delegation”, an official in the health ministry said.

He also asked officials to prune domestic travel as far as possible.

The letter came as a follow-up to the Finance Ministry’s circular dated September seven directing ministries to curtail expenses.

Last month, during a Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting on drought, party President Sonia Gandhi had advised all party ministers, MPs and legislators to donate 20 per cent of their salary for drought relief measures to their respective state governments.

She had also suggested that party workers adopt “austerity measures” so that their public and private lives “reflect concern for those who are less fortunate”.

Militants kill Army Major, jawan in Bandipora encounter

A policeman stands guard in Srinagar. The Major and the jawan were killed in Bandipora district. File Photo: Nissar Ahmad

The Hindu A policeman stands guard in Srinagar. The Major and the jawan were killed in Bandipora district. File Photo: Nissar Ahmad

An Army Major and a jawan were killed in a gun battle with militants in Bandipora district of north Kashmir on Wednesday.

Major J S Suri and the jawan in the rank of Naik went down fighting the militants at the village Boniyari—Sumbal, 30 kms from here, officials said.

Acting on a tip off, the Army, led by the Major stormed a house where militants were hiding on Tuesday night.

Though other members of the party came out, the duo was trapped in heavy firing by the militants.

After a night-long lull, the militants resumed firing this morning.

The Army along with the police had strengthened the cordon around the house during Tuesday night to prevent any attempt by the militants to escape under the cover of darkness.

In another encounter in Baramulla district, two Army jawans and two militants were killed at Ladoo forest in Panzla area in Rafaibad on Tuesday.

The encounter took place when a search party of 32 Rashtriya Rifles confronted a group of militants, the officials said.

Three soldiers were injured in the initial exchange of fire of whom two succumbed to injuries, they said.

Body of two militants were recovered during the search of the area, they said, adding that their identity was being ascertained.

Oceansat-2 and nano satellites inside the heat-shield of the PSLV-C 14. Photo: ISRO

PSLV C-14 takes off from Satish Dhavan Space Centre at Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, on Wednesday. Photo: PTI
Oceansat-2 and nano satellites inside the heat-shield of the PSLV-C 14. Photo: ISRO

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