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Friday 30 December 2011

Iran to Test Lon-Range Missiles in Navy Wargames

Iran to Test Lon-Range Missiles in Navy Wargames
TEHRAN (FNA)- Iran will fire long-range missiles during the naval drills in the Sea of Oman and Persian Gulf on Saturday.

"The Iranian navy will test several kinds of its missiles, including its long-range missiles, in the Persian Gulf on Saturday," Deputy Commander of the Iranian Navy and Spokesman of the Drills Admiral Mahmoud Moussavi told FNA.

"The fire of missiles is the final part of the navy drill," said Moussavi. "The final phase of the drill is to prepare the navy for confronting the enemy in war situations."

Iran's naval forces started 10-day wargames, dubbed as Velayat 90, in an area stretching from the East of the Strait of Hormoz in the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden last weekend.

The Iranian Navy also plans to test its advanced missiles and smart torpedoes during the ongoing naval wargames, codenamed Velayat 90, in Southern waters.

"During the coming days of the wargames, the Navy will launch advanced short-range, mid-range and long-range missiles and also smart torpedoes," Deputy Commander of the Navy for Coordination Admiral Rastegari told FNA.

Petrol prices may be hiked by up to Rs 1.5/litre?

Zeebiz Bureau

New Delhi: The state-run oil marketing companies may hike petrol prices by up to Rs 1.5 per litre, in their meeting on Friday as the Indian currency has weakened against the US dollar making imports costlier.

Oil firms had, at the last review on December 15, decided not to burden the consumers with Rs 0.65-0.70 per litre hike in petrol price needed at that time, as they felt Reserve Bank's intervention may help arrest fall in rupee's value.

"While international price of gasoline (against which domestic petrol prices are benchmarked) are more or less at the same level (as at the time of last revision), the rupee has depreciated to over Rs 53 to a US dollar," a top official said.

The average exchange rate in first fortnight of December was Rs 51.98 to a US dollar, which has further deteriorated.

State-owned oil companies like Indian Oil Corp (IOC) use fortnightly average of benchmark oil price and exchange rate to revise retail rates.

"There is an under-recovery of about 85 paise (Rs 0.85) per litre currently. After adding local sales tax, the desired increase in retail prices would be Rs 1.02 per litre," the official said.

Petrol at IOC pumps in Delhi is currently priced at Rs 65.64 per litre and the rates vary by a couple of paise at the pumps of Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum.

The oil firms had in November cut petrol prices twice on drop in international oil rates. The companies reduced petrol prices by Rs 2.22 per litre, or 3.2 per cent, from November 16, followed by a Rs 0.78 per litre cut from December 1.

However, it remains to be seen if the oil firms will get a political nod to increase the prices in view of assembly elections.

Petrol price was freed from government control in June last year but public sector companies continue to informally consult their parent Oil Ministry before taking a decision.

The government continues to control rates of diesel, domestic LPG and kerosene which were sold way below cost to keep inflation under check. The oil firms lose Rs 12.95 per litre on diesel, Rs 29.99 a litre on kerosene and Rs 287 per 14.2-kg LPG cylinder.

With PTI Inputs

Samoa to go back to the future with dateline shift

Samoa to go back to the future with dateline shift


December 27, 2011|By Peter Shadbolt, CNN
Once the last beaches in the world to see the sunset, Samoa will be first place to see the sunrise from December 31.
When the Vatican switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in the 16th century, legend has it that riots broke out over the "lost 11 days" the shift caused.
However, on the Pacific island of Samoa - which plans to skip Friday this week when it switches to the west side of the international dateline -- the mood is more typically laid back and Polynesian.
"Sure, people are excited," government spokesman Uale Papalii was reported as saying to foreign media. "I myself am relaxed, (we are) only changing the calendar."
The decision to push the international dateline further to the east and go back to the future -- going directly from Thursday to Saturday -- was prompted by new economic realities rather than a need to be the first place in the world to celebrate New Year's Day in 2012.
Samoan prime minister, Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, said the move would put the Pacific island nation of some 180,000 people on the same footing as its key trading partners in New Zealand and Australia, taking advantage of those economies links to China and the Pacific Rim.
"In doing business with New Zealand and Australia we're losing out on two working days a week," he was quoted as saying in the English-language Samoa Observer. "While its Friday here, it's Saturday in New Zealand and when we're at church Sunday, they're already conducting business in Sydney and Brisbane."
Currently, the archipelago is 21 hours behind Australia and 23 behind New Zealand, giving it just four working days a week that coincide with some of the Pacific Rim's largest economies. By moving the zig-zagging international dateline further to the east, Samoa will be just three hours ahead of eastern Australia and one hour ahead of New Zealand.
The international dateline -- which follows roughly 180 degrees longitude but takes diversions around islands and territories to prevent it dissecting nations internally - already creates serious anomalies for Samoa.
Its closest neighbor Tonga, little more than 800km to the south, is exactly 24 hours behind the island nation.
The move, however, has raised alarm in the tourism sector which markets Samoa as the last place on earth to see the sun set and has run into opposition.

Asia's road to economic greatness suddenly turns into an obstacle course

Asia's road to economic greatness suddenly turns into an obstacle course

William Pesek
December 31, 2011
The Mayans were wrong. The world won't end in 2012, but at times it might feel as if it will. Such is Asia's lot as Europe's debt debacle and the US's political paralysis fuse, presenting challenges for leaders from Beijing to Jakarta.
In a less chaotic time, this might have been Asia's big moment. News this week that Japan and China will promote direct trading of the yen and yuan without using dollars is a case in point. An shift of power and capital would seem to be a given as Brussels and Washington turn inward. Yet a worsening global environment will interrupt Asia's path to economic dominance. Here are eight risks that might get in Asia's way:
Recoupling Asia dodged the US meltdown in 2008 with remarkable agility. Doing that will be harder in the year ahead as all of the world's major growth engines stall or go into reverse.
Default risks in Europe will increase, the US's funk will persist in an election year, Japan's malaise will deepen and China will hit a soft patch. With deft fiscal and monetary manoeuvring, Asia grew impressively in the three-plus years since Lehman Brothers imploded. A repeat performance is unlikely.
Hip-pocket worries Consumers will become more dissatisfied with the toxic mix of inflation and widening income inequality. Leaders aren't doing enough to make sure the benefits of growth are shared equitably. As the Gini coefficient - a statistical measure of wealth inequality - rises across Asia, rising tensions will play out in unpredictable ways in markets and politics.
Occupy Wukan It's getting harder for China to keep its 1.3 billion people from hearing about events in a coastal village in Guangdong province. There, thousands of people fed up with land seizures took to the streets and forced out Communist Party officials.
This Occupy Wall Street dynamic is a startling contrast to the usual success China has in quashing any hint of public discord. As The New York Times points out, there are at least 625,000 potential Wukans in China. The coming year will be busy for China's thought police.
Political intrigue China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan will pick new leaders. State elections in India will help determine whether Rahul Gandhi will soon replace his mother, Sonia, as president of the Congress Party. Taiwan's contest could be a standout: a verdict on President Ma Ying-jeou's policies and drive for better relations with China.
Territorial disputes in the South China Sea could bubble over. Violence might break out in Thailand if ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is allowed to return. In Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi's move to register her party for elections will test the government's recent steps towards democracy.
The Kim follies As the world gets used to Kim Jong-un as North Korea's leader, there's no telling how things will unfold in Pyongyang. Will Kim feel obliged to show he means business with missile launches and nuclear tests? Might military generals who covet the top job rebel? The questions about the world's most secretive regime hover over all of Asia.
Internet clampdown Beijing's great wall of censorship is raising cyber clampdowns to an art form, the latest on Twitter-like services. Yet the internet is under attack throughout Asia.
India is stepping up efforts to require Facebook, Google and other portals to remove content deemed offensive. South Korea and Thailand have been suppressing information. Balancing transparency and state control of information will become harder.
Japan's debt trap The conventional take is that Japan is in a liquidity trap, which makes it impossible for zero interest rates to stimulate the economy. The real problem is a debt trap, and the yen is part of it. On the one hand, a strong currency is prompting companies to go shopping overseas to hedge against the country's ageing population, lack of growth and a vulnerability to earthquakes and other disasters. On the other, it is further hollowing out Japanese industry. That will lead Japan to add to its debt, the world's largest, risking further credit downgrades.
China's bust It's a make or break year for China's efforts to defy the economic laws of gravity. A bad-debt hangover from the stimulus of recent years is a distinct possibility. Slower growth would be a nightmare for a Communist Party obsessed with social stability. It also would be a blow to Australia, which is more vulnerable to a Chinese slump than officials in Canberra admit.
Should the second-biggest economy join the US, Europe and Japan in the slow-growth club, Asia would find itself in treacherous territory. That wouldn't be the end of the world as the Mayans anticipated for 2012, but it would be different than the one we've come to know.

Criticism after India corruption bill vote delayed

Criticism after India corruption bill vote delayed

Indian Law makers from opposition parties shout slogans against ruling Congress party as they come out of parliament house after a debate on anti corruption bill in the Upper house, in New Delhi, India, Friday, Dec. 30, 2011 Parliament was adjourned amid chaotic scenes - and without a vote
India's opposition parties have bitterly criticised the government for its failure to put the controversial anti-corruption Lokpal bill to a vote in the upper house of parliament.
But the government insists that the opposition BJP was responsible for the bill not being passed.
The house was adjourned amid chaos after a debate stretched to midnight.
The BJP said the government had "orchestrated" the chaos as it was not sure it could pass the bill.
But Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal told reporters that if the BJP wanted the bill to have been passed, "it could have been passed without any problem".
"But they were not willing to co-operate. They would rather see the nation fail than the government succeed."
The Lokpal bill gives an independent ombudsman powers to prosecute politicians and civil servants.
The bill passed the lower house on Tuesday. It needed to be passed in the upper house on Thursday in order to become law.
The bill will now have to be revised and presented again.
The government said it had respected the constitution with the adjournment at midnight and that the people of India would know who was responsible for the failure to reach a vote.
But the BJP immediately called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to resign, saying his government had shown it was not fit to rule.
"The government has lost all moral right to continue in power. It should resign immediately," opposition leader Arun Jaitely told reporters.
"The [ruling] Congress [party] was never serious and committed to bring a strong Lokpal. It knew that it would never be able to get the bill passed in the lower house, so it choreographed the entire drama of debate which continued till midnight," he said.
'Moral defeat' The ruling alliance has 94 members there and needed a simple majority of 122 MPs to ensure the passage of the bill.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury said the adjournment was "big moral defeat" for the Congress party.
He said if the government was "serious about the passage of the bill, it should have taken the opposition parties in confidence".
Sukhendu Roy, a leader of the Trinamool Congress party, which is an ally of the ruling government, also criticised the adjournment of the vote, saying it was a "shameful" day for democracy and a result of "orchestrated chaos".
The ruling Congress party, however, said that with nearly 200 amendments to the bill demanded by the opposition it ran too late because the winter session of parliament ended at midnight.
Indian social activist Anna Hazare breaks his fast with a glass of juice offered by a child at the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) recreation ground in Mumbai on December 28, 2011 Mr Hazare has broken his fast, but pledged to protest against the bill
"How can a government pass a bill with so many amendments without studying it and examining it? It was a pre-planned move by the BJP to discredit the government," the junior minister for parliamentary affairs Harish Rawat told The Hindu newspaper.
The debate has not only been heated in parliament.
Leading anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare has called the bill "useless".
He had started another hunger strike but has since called it off and threatened instead to launch a campaign of civil disobedience that would fill the country's jails.
Mr Hazare and his supporters say that tougher measures are required in the bill if it is to prove effective at reducing the level of corruption.
Mr Hazare's main complaint is that the bill proposes keeping India's top investigation agency, CBI, out of the purview of the ombudsman.
A recent survey said corruption in India had cost billions of dollars and threatened to derail growth.

Mamata takes padayatra against illicit liquor

Mamata takes padayatra against illicit liquor

Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee walks in a rally to create awareness on the ill-effects of spurious liquor on Friday. Photo: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury
The Hindu Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee walks in a rally to create awareness on the ill-effects of spurious liquor on Friday. Photo: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury
With hooch claiming over 170 lives in the State, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday walked in a procession to create social awareness against the evils of illicit liquor.
“Even as administrative steps like arrests and destroying hooch dens are on, the problem should also be dealt socially,” Ms. Banerjee said at the foot of the Gandhi statue here at the end of the rally.
She walked in the procession, participated in by other ministers of the state, intellectuals and people, from College Square in front of the Calcutta University campus to the foot of Gandhi statue, a distance of around three km.
“Let us live a healthy life and stand up against social degeneration,” Ms. Banerjee said.
“It is a personal prerogative as to what one will eat or drink but one should not destroy his life by drinking illicit and unsafe liquor,” the chief minister said.
She said that people should come out to stop the trade and drinking of hooch, known as ‘cholai’ in local parlance.
“There are poor people who cannot afford a square meal but will still manage to have a drink,” she said.
She said that this was a social problem and this should be dealt socially along with administrative steps.
At least 170 people lost their lives after drinking hooch at Sangrampur under Mograhat police station area in adjoining South 24 Parganas district earlier this month.

New Clashes in Syria as Monitors’ Mission Is Challenged

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syrian security forces killed at least five people in Hama on Friday, according to a rights group, as hundreds of thousands of people staged protests across the country that were intended to show visiting Arab League monitors the extent of opposition to President Bashar al-Assad.

“Five were martyred today and at least 20 wounded when the Syrian security forces opened fire,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, according to Reuters. The activist groups said at least 250,000 people were on the streets of Idlib after Friday Prayers. Activists in Hama and the Damascus suburb of Douma said tens of thousands of Syrians were involved in the latest protests, throwing stones at the security forces, after several people were killed in unrest on Thursday. Al Jazeera television showed live video of what appeared to be thousands of demonstrators in Homs.
The rebel Free Syrian Army also said on Friday that it would stop its offensive against government targets during the monthlong mission by the Arab League monitors. The group’s leader, Col. Riad al-As’aad, told The Associated Press that the group halted its attacks after the observers arrived this week.
On Thursday, a prominent Syrian dissident, Haytham Manna, who has supported the observers, called for the delegation’s leader to be replaced or have his powers reduced. The leader of the observers, Lt. Gen. Muhammed al-Dabi of Sudan, has become a lightning rod for complaints about the team. Human rights activists say his credentials — including time as the chief of a military intelligence branch in Sudan that has been accused of atrocities — make him a poor candidate for the job.
In a statement, Mr. Manna said he was surprised by the choice of Mr. Dabi for the Arab League mission, though he did not refer to him by name. “We know his history and his shallow experience in this area,” Mr. Manna said. “I call for the Secretariat of the Arab League to work quickly to save the observers’ mission.”
The observers are supposed to monitor promises by Mr. Assad’s government to withdraw its forces from populated areas and release political prisoners.
A surge of violence in recent days has almost completely eclipsed the observers’ work. Activists have complained that government attacks have accelerated and that security forces have tried to mislead the observers by dressing soldiers in police uniforms and using other subterfuges.
“We were almost sure the regime wouldn’t change with the presence of the observers,” said Omar Idlibi, a spokesman for the Local Coordinating Committees, which guide the antigovernment demonstrations. But, he added: “We are cooperating. Closing the door is wrong.”
At the same time, armed opposition groups have shown no signs of ending their attacks against the security forces.
Video posted online by activists on Wednesday showed a daylight attack by gunmen on what was apparently a government convoy. The attack, by army defectors, killed at least four members of the security services, according to opposition groups.
Reporters who visited a military hospital in Homs saw a wounded solider and spoke to a doctor, who said that 557 people, mostly soldiers, had died in the hospital or been brought there after being killed between March 25 and Nov. 11, The Associated Press reported. The government’s opponents are generally treated in field hospitals in mosques or private homes, according to activists.
In Homs on Thursday, gunmen killed a military engineer and wounded a general, according to the Syrian state news agency.
By the afternoon, there was still no sign of the observers in the southern Syrian city of Dara’a, the scene of the uprising’s earliest and biggest demonstrations, according to Anwar Farres, a human rights advocate there. There was also no indication that the government was withdrawing, he said.
“This place is like a military base,” Mr. Farres said. “Our people will meet them with or without the presence of government forces.”
Later, another activist said the observers did show up, but only met with the governor.
There were similar frustrations in Hama, and more violence. One activist in the city said that snipers had been deployed and four people were killed on Thursday. Protesters had confined their demonstrations to “narrow neighborhoods,” rather than open spaces like Assi Square in the center of the city, he said.
“We would be shot,” he said.

Cyclone Thane crosses Tamil Nadu coast, 18 dead; leaves Andhra unscathed

Cyclone Thane crosses Tamil Nadu coast, 18 dead; leaves Andhra unscathed
A man rides a motorbike on a damaged highway along the Bay of Bengal Sea on the outskirts of Chennai after Cyclone Thane. (Reuters photo)
CHENNAI: Severe cyclonic storm 'Thane' today claimed 18 lives as it hit the Tamil Nadu coast, leaving a trail of destruction and throwing life out of gear in Cuddalore district and neighbouring Union Territory of Puducherry. Cuddalore, about 170 km from here on the east coast, bore the brunt of the cylocnic fury, accounting for nine deaths, Puducherry seven and Chennai two in rain-related incidents such as wall collapse and electrocution, officials said.

'Thane' crossed the coast between Cuddalore and Puducherry bringing in its wake torrential rains accompanied by gale that uprooted hundreds of trees and electric poles, snapping power supply in several areas. The tiny Puducherry was cut off from neighbouring districts in Tamil Nadu with the uprooted trees blocking road traffic.

After the landfall, Thane moved further westward and weakened rapidly into a deep depression and lay centered at about 100 km west of Cuddalore, the regional weather office here said. "The system is likely to move westwards and weaken further," it said forecasting heavy rainfall for the next 12-24 hours in different parts of the state and Puducherry and advised fishermen against venturing into sea due to rough conditions.

Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa sanctioned a sum of Rs 150 crore towards immediate relief works including putting back in shape the infrastructure which has taken a hit and directing four of her cabinet colleagues to visit affected districts to oversee relief work.

'Thane' leaves Andhra Pradesh coast unscathed

After keeping everyone in Andhra Pradesh on toes for the last two days, Cyclone Thane subsided this evening. Only two tehsils in the coastal Nellore district received 9.8 cm of rain, while 174 other tehsils received moderate rains, state Revenue Minister N Raghuveera Reddy said.

Briefing reporters after a review meeting this evening, Raghuveera said the sea had calmed and no damage to property or casualties had been reported. "By God's grace, there is no loss of life or property anywhere. Everything is returning to normal," he said.

However, all relief teams, including the National Disaster Response Force, have been asked to remain on alert for another day and fishermen too have been advised not to venture into the sea for one more day. 

Team Anna blames Hamid Ansari for Lokpal fiasco in Rajya Sabha

Team Anna blames Hamid Ansari for Lokpal fiasco in Rajya Sabha

Published: Friday, Dec 30, 2011, 19:06 IST
Place: GHAZIABAD | Agency: PTI
Team Anna today faulted Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari for abruptly adjourning the upper house sine die without a vote on the Lokpal bill.
Former Law Minister and prominent Team Anna member Shanti Bhushan criticised the decision of Ansari to adjourn the Rajya Sabha sine die last night after conclusion of debate on Lokpal bill amid high drama.
"It was clear that majority of members wanted to continue proceedings of the house. They were even ready to sit through the night. The house is always run as per the sense of the house...I think he did the wrong thing," he told reporters.
Bhushan said the chairman should have gone by the views of majority of the members.
"Being the chair of the house, he should have done what the majority wanted," he said.
Bhushan also rubbished arguments that there was a need for president's nod to continue the House saying the chair has all authority to decide on continuing the proceedings.
"President's nod is needed only for convening the session... The house was not prorogued and there was no problem in continuing the session...He did wrong which should not have been done," Bhushan said.
In a statement, without taking the name of Ansari, Team Anna alleged, "Speakers were allowed to give lengthy speeches to kill time. And then taking shelter behind procedures, Parliament was adjourned sine die at midnight without voting."
Another Team Anna member Kiran Bedi also appeared to raise questions over Ansari's conduct during the debate.
"In everyone's life there come moments where one can rise above. This was one such last night for Chairman Rajya Sabha to create history. Alas!" Bedi tweeted.


Syria: prisoners released as violence continues

Police, judiciary among most corrupt institutions in Pak

Police, judiciary among most corrupt institutions in Pak

Karachi: Pakistan's Judiciary and police have been ranked among the most corrupt institutions in the country in a survey by an international anti-graft watchdog.

According to Transparency International Pakistan's national corruption perception survey, 2011, land administration and police were the two most corrupt and education and military least corrupt departments.

The military which was included in the survey for the first time was the least corrupt department after education.

The judiciary and courts became the fourth most corrupt from the sixth position recorded last year, Dawn newspaper reported.

The taxation department slipped to the 3rd rank from its previous 8th position, while Customs and Tendering and Contracting departments have shown alarming increase in the corruption trend.

Police had topped all the previous years' surveys but the Land Administration has crossed them and the factor of the 'Land Mafia' was one of the big reasons for this increase.

The annual survey report was released at Karachi Press Club in a press conference by TIP Chairman Sohail Muzaffar, along with TIP Advisory Committee chairman Syed Adil Gilani.

This year's survey has been conducted by Gallup Pakistan. Sohail Muzaffar cited the delay in punitive action by the state organs against the corrupt elements in corruption cases like Pakistan Steel, NICL, Punjab Bank, Rental Power Plants, KESC, PIA, Railway and Wapda as the main reason for the rise in corruption levels.

Sohail said that judiciary was confronted by deliberate defiance in implementing Supreme Court orders and delay in punishing corrupt persons by the judiciary is one of the causes of lower ranking of judiciary.

On the inclusion of military in the survey, the TIP chairman said, "We have not included it in the survey, Gallup itself has added military and they have not put railways in the survey".

He said the military should not be placed before the education in the rank because according to him military is less corrupt than the education.

AQ Khan gave nuclear tech to India: US arms expert

AQ Khan gave nuclear tech to India: US arms expert
TNN | Dec 23, 2011, 04.50AM IST

WASHINGTON: A US arms control expert has made the astonishing claim
that Pakistan's notorious nuclear engineer A Q Khan may have passed on
nuclear technology to India.

The source of the article is as surprising as the claim is fantastic.
In a commentary in Playboy, Joshua Pollack, a US policy wonk who has
worked on nuclear proliferation, says India may have been the secret,
unnamed "fourth country" - after Iran, Libya and North Korea - to
which AQ Khan "provided the shortcut to a nuclear weapon".

Pollack offers little credible evidence to back the contention, other
than to point similarities between the centrifuges India uses in its
uranium-enrichment program and Pakistan's centrifuges engineered by
Khan. He also cites South African court documents claiming a member of
the 'Khan network' supplied India's centrifuge program with
specialized equipment, starting in the late 1980s.

According to Pollack, although India went nuclear several years before
Pakistan, it was through the plutonium route (in 1972). India could
break ground on its uranium enrichment facility only in 1986, by which
time Pakistan was churning out weapons-grade uranium for three years.

'India's N-centrifuge design came from A Q Khan'

A US arms control expert has claimed that Pakistan's notorious nuclear
scientist A Q Khan may have passed on nuclear technology to India,
citing newspaper ads in 2006 requisitioning centrifuge parts.

"India's enrichment program progressed slowly... In 2006 the
Washington DC-based Institute for Science and International Security
revealed that the Indian government had used newspaper ads to solicit
bids for centrifuge parts. The details of these advertisements, along
with documents Indians gave potential suppliers, provide strong clues
about where New Delhi's supercritical centrifuge technology came
from," Joshua Pollack said in a commentary in Playboy. "Despite some
changes, the design is recognizable to the trained eye: It almost
mirrors the G-2 centrifuge, a design Khan stole from URENCO in the
1970s and reproduced as Pakistan's P-2 centrifuge."

Pollack also says an engineering firm belonging to Gerhard Wisser, a
German in South Africa, in collaboration with Gotthard Lerch in
Switzerland, supplied specialized equipment to both Pakistan and its
proliferation partners, and starting in the late 1980s, to India too.

"Could Khan have been ignorant about Wisser's dealings with India? His
own guilty conscience says otherwise," Pollack conjectures, writing
that though Khan has never acknowledged having a fourth customer, he
gave his Pakistani interrogators at least two contradictory cover
stories that may explain how Pakistan's enrichment technology could
have ended up in "enemy hands".

At first, Khan seems to have suggested his overseas network (Lerch,
Wisser et al) was autonomous enough to supply both India and Pakistan.
But Khan later alleged he had been exploited by an Indian connection
who was hidden inside Farooq's Dubai operation. "Ironically," he cites
Musharraf's biography, "the network based in Dubai had employed
several Indians, some of whom have since vanished."

The idea that Khan would have wilfully sneaked knowhow to India is
far-fetched, considering he had a pathological hatred of the country
of his origin (he migrated to Pakistan from Bhopal). Both Musharraf
and Khan have been repeatedly exposed as bare-faced liars, but
Pakistani nationalists, in a bid to obfuscate the proliferation charge
against Islamabad, have long alleged that India too has been a
beneficiary of nuclear smuggling rings.

Government does a complete U-turn on talks with anti-dam protestersin Assam


A large public meeting held at Guwahati, Assam today expressed their support to the ongoing anti-dam movement in Assam. This meeting was attended by various opposition parties, human rights organisations, women bodies, civil society, student organisation, bank unions, trade unions. The meeting condemded Assam government's actions on the peaceful demonstrations. The speakers had asked the Assam CM, Shri Tarun Gogoi and the Indian government to realise the peoples' protest against the mega dams in Arunacha

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Akhil Gogoi <>
Date: 29 December 2011 03:06
Subject: Government does a complete U-turn on talks with anti-dam protesters in Assam
To:, Roma <>

For your update from todays newspaper. Also attached photographs
Government does a complete U-turn on talks with anti-dam protesters
The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) is being helped by Maoists and the entire anti-dam movement is being orchestrated by the ULFA and the Maoists – Tarun Gogoi
By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, Dec 28: Only recently, the Group of Ministers (GoM) had announced after its first meeting that it was willing to hold talks with anti-dam protesters and break the impasse. But on Wednesday, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi did a volte face of sorts by stating that the anti-dam protesters had to make the first move of coming forward for talks.
Talking to mediapersons after the meeting held on Wednesday at Rajiv Bhavan in Guwahati on the occasion of the establishment day of the All India Congress Committee (AICC), Chief Minister Gogoi, when asked for his reaction on the situation in the North Bank, said: "The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) is being helped by Maoists and the entire anti-dam movement is being orchestrated by the ULFA and the Maoists."
The Chief Minister further said, "The government is not opposed to any democratic movement by any organization. But if under the garb of a movement, law is violated, the government will not remain a silent spectator."
On talks with the anti-dam protesters, he said, "It is the anti-dam protesters who will have to first come forward for talks. It is evident that these protesters do not want Assam's development. The people of Assam are definitely with us. The anti-dam protesters claim that they have the people's support. If that is the case then why did they lose in the last Assembly polls? The Panchayat polls will be held soon. We will see who has the support of the people of Assam – the government or the anti-dam protesters."
The Chief Minister's comments have only made it evident that the government will adopt a sterner approach while dealing with the situation in the North Bank. The possibility of the confrontation between the government and the anti-dam protesters turning uglier also cannot be ruled out.
North Bank has been tense since last Sunday night when police personnel forcefully evacuated anti-dam protesters from their makeshift camps in Lakhimpur district. People in Lakhimpur and Dhemaji districts have since been protesting against police operations against anti-dam activists.

Maoists, ULFA involved in anti-dam stir: CM

 GUWAHATI, Dec 28 – Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today claimed that Maoists and anti-talk faction of ULFA were involved in the agitation against the construction of a hydro-electric project in Lakhimpur district, reports PTI
"Maoists, anti-talk faction of ULFA and other extremist groups are involved in theprotest. Maoists are helping the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), which is spearheading the stir," Gogoi told reporters here.
"Paresh Baruah (anti-talk ULFA leader) does not want progress of Assam. Agitators do not want development of the state...They want prices of essentials to rise and scarcity of food items," he said.
"But action has to be taken when there is a breakdown of law and order," Gogoi said referring to police action on the agitators during the last two days.
To a query, Gogoi said, "we can hold discussions with the protestors any time...Even tomorrow...If they come forward for parleys. What the experts on dams say has to be accepted by them."
Reacting to the Chief Minister's statement, KMSS General Secretary Akhil Gogoi said, "Tarun Gogoi's claim will only help Maoists and ULFA to establish themselves in Assam".
"People are being regularly attacked when they raise fear that the mega dams will bring more misery to their lives as they are dependent on rivers. Tarun Gogoi is not prepared to listen to the apprehensions of the people," he told reporters at Chauldhowa in Lakhimpur district.

NFFPFW / Human Rights Law Centre
c/o Sh. Vinod Kesari, Near Sarita Printing Press,
Tagore Nagar
District Sonbhadra 231216
Uttar Pradesh
Tel : 91-9415233583, 05444-222473
Email :

Turkish air raids kill 23 Kurdish villagers - reports

Arrest warrant adds to Iraq's religious feud

North Korea: What next?

Rebel Libya cracks without anti-Gaddafi glue

Lokpal Bill continues to be a 'jinxed' affair

New Delhi:  The Lokpal Bill has always appeared to be a jinxed affair, the history of last 40 years shows. With the Rajya Sabha adjourning sine die midnight amid uproar without passing the Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, 2011, even after day-long debate, it has once again shown that it was so.

In fact, the strange coincidence so far was that the Lok Sabha has got dissolved whenever Parliament has taken up the Lokpal Bill for consideration.

This has been the case since 1968. That year, The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill was introduced on May 9. It was referred to the Select Committee of Parliament.

It was passed in the Lok Sabha as "The Lokpal and Lokayukta Bill, 1969" on August 20, 1969. However, before this Bill could be passed by the Rajya Sabha, the Fourth Lok Sabha was dissolved and consequently this Bill lapsed.

Then on August 11, 1971 another Lokpal and Lokayuktas Bill was introduced. It was neither referred to any Committee, nor passed by any House. It died a natural death consequent upon the dissolution of the Fifth Lok Sabha.

Later, the Lokpal Bill was brought on July 28, 1977. It was referred to a Joint Select Committee of both the Houses of Parliament. Before the recommendations of the Joint Select Committee could be considered, the Sixth Lok Sabha was dissolved and consequently this Bill also lapsed.

The Lokpal Bill, 1985, was introduced on August 28 that year and referred to a Joint Select Committee of Parliament. However, the Bill was withdrawn by the then government because of its inadequacy to cover different types of situations. While withdrawing it, the government of the day said it would later come forward with a comprehensive legislation to deal with redress of public grievances.

The Lokpal Bill came again in 1989 as it was introduced on December 29. However, the Bill lapsed consequent upon the dissolution of the Ninth Lok Sabha on March 13, 1991. The United Front government introduced yet another bill on the issue on September 13, 1996. It was referred to the department related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs for examination and report. The Standing Committee presented its report to Parliament on May 9, 1997 making wide ranging amendments to the various provisions of the Bill. Before the government could finalise its stand on the various recommendations of the Standing Committee, the Eleventh Lok Sabha was dissolved.

The last such measure was brought on August 14, 2001 by the BJP-led NDA government. It was referred to the department- related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs for examination and report but the Government bowed out of office in May 2004.

Bidve murder a hate crime, say UK police

London: The UK police said on Thursday that the murder of Indian student Anuj Bidve was most likely a hate crime. Bidve, a Lancaster University student, was apparently murdered on Monday for not telling the time.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of External Affairs has agreed to meet the return travel expenses to UK of 2 family members of slain Indian student Anuj Bidve and agreed to foot the bill for all expenses regarding the transportation of his body from Manchester.
The Lancaster University, where Bidve was studying, has also agreed to return his tuition fees to the family.
Bidve murder a hate crime, say UK police
The Indian High Commission to the UK had on Wednesday assured to provide all possible help in expediting the process of repatriation of his body to India.
Extending all possible help to the bereaved family of Bidve, who was shot dead in Manchester on December 26, the consulate General of India in Birmingham and the Indian High Commission said that they were "deeply" saddened at the "unfortunate" and tragic killing.
The High Commission said in a statement, "The High Commission of India is deeply saddened at the unfortunate and tragic killing of Anuj Bidve, an Indian student studying at the Lancaster University in the early hours of December 26.
"Following this unfortunate incident, senior officials from the Consulate General of India, Birmingham have been in touch with the Greater Manchester Police authorities and also the bereaved family members in Pune.
"Our shock and concern at the horrific incident has been conveyed to the authorities investigating the case along with the strong expectation that the perpetrators of the ghastly crime would be brought to justice at the earliest."
The High Commission also conveyed family's apprehension over the possible delay in repatriation of the body to India due to the ongoing investigation.
"The concerned authorities have also been suitably sensitised about the family's wish to have the dead body repatriated to India at the earliest. The authorities have assured us of full cooperation.
"The High Commission of India understands that in cases of this nature, a second inquest may be necessary, including with a view to strengthening the case of the prosecution. The High Commission of India hopes that this process will be completed at the earliest, so that the body could be released and repatriated to India in consonance with the request of the bereaved family."
The British police, as of now, has arrested four persons in connection with the killing of Bidve, who died following an "unprovoked" attack on Monday.
Bidve was with nine other Indian students when he was shot by two white men after a short conversation.
Hailing from Pune, Bidve was a postgraduate student of Microelectronics at Lancaster University and was visiting friends in Manchester during the Christmas holidays when he was gunned down.
In a statement, Bidve's family has said his death had left "a void in our lives."
The High Commission said that it has also requested for support from Bidve's university.
"The Lancaster University authorities have also been requested by the Consulate General of India to provide necessary support and care to the friends of the deceased who were present at the time of the tragic incident."
The response of the Lancaster University has been sympathetic and supportive, the statement said.
With inputs from PTI

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Putin rejects poll rerun, but vows fair prez election

MOSCOW: Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that mass protests against his 12-year rule were being stoked by a hollow collection of leaderless opposition groups who wanted to sow chaos in Russia. In his first comments since Saturday's protest, Russia's PM said it was impossible to annul the December 4 parliamentary election but promised the March presidential vote would be transparent.

Comparing protesters to Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky, Putin said they were more interested in sowing chaos than implementing a concrete set of ideas on how the world's biggest energy producer should develop. "The problem is that they have no single programme," he told top members of his All Russia People's Front, an umbrella movement of supporters, at his presidential election campaign HQ in Moscow.

"They have many individual programmes, but no unified one and no clear way to reach their goals and there are no people who would be able to do anything concrete," he said.

Argentine president Cristina Fernandez has cancer

Argentine president Cristina Fernandez has cancer

Argentine president Cristina Fernandez has cancer
Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner gives a thumbs-up after being sworn-in in Buenos Aires in this handout taken on December 10, 2011 .Cristina Fernandez will be operated on for thyroid cancer in January, a government spokesman said on December 27, 2011. The carcinoma has not metastasized, the spokesman said at a news conference. Photo taken December 10, 2011. (Reuters Photo)
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina: A government spokesman says President Cristina Fernandez will be operated on for papillary thyroid carcinoma on January 4.

Spokesman Alfredo Scoccimarro says the carcinoma was detected during a routine medical exam on December. 22.

Scoccimarro said on Tuesday that doctors confirmed that the cancer hadn't metastasized or affected her lymph nodes.

The 58-year-old Fernandez will be operated on in Buenos' Aires Hospital Austral on Jan. 4, 2012. She will rest and take time off from her duties

Syria, Egypt and Middle East unrest - live updates

Syria, Egypt and Middle East unrest - live updates

• Arab League observers resume mission in Homs
• Activists denounce 'whitewash' as Dabi criticisms mount
• Hosni Mubarak wheeled back into court as trial resumes
• Peres urges calm amid rising tensions in Israel
This page will update automatically every minute: On | Off
Syrian tank driving through the city of Homs
Syrian tank driving through the city of Homs during a visit from Arab League observers. Photograph: -/AFP
10.38am: A team of four observers is currently touring various districts in Homs as protesters gear up for a second day of huge demonstrations, according to the AP.
The willingness to go out into the streets again comes despite a large security presence in the city, the report adds. One resident, speaking over the phone, said:
I can see riot police with shields and batons on main streets and intersections, they are everywhere.
The desire to show the Arab League observers exactly how strong the protest movement is appears not to be unique to Homs.
This video, from the Local Co-Ordination Committee's Facebook page, apparently shows a demonstration being held in the north-eastern town of Amuda. The LCC says the "sit-in" comes while "waiting [for] the Arab League's observers".
10.17am: This grab from Egyptian state television shows the once mighty Hosni Mubarak being wheeled into a Cairo court covered in a green blanket on a hospital gurney.
Mubarak The former dictator has been charged with complicity in the deaths of nearly 840 protesters in the crackdown against the revolution. AP reported that he was brought from a helicopter and taken to an ambulance for a short ride to the court.
Next in line of witnesses whose testimony was demanded by both the prosecution and the defense is chief of staff Lt. Gen. Sami Hafez Anan, the second-highest ranking official in the ruling military council.
Also on trial with Mubarak and facing the same charges are his former Interior Minister Habib el-Adly and six senior former security officials.
Mubarak and his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, also face corruption charges.
The prosecution's case depends heavily on accounts of members of the former president's inner circle including ex-spy chief Omar Suleiman, who was appointed vice president by Mubarak during the uprising.
Al Masry Al Youm reports that dozens of victims' relatives rallied outside the court, calling for retribution and hoisting posters of their deceased.
The families called for faster prosecution of those accused of killing demonstrators as well as the removal of Adly-era officials from the Interior Ministry.
A smaller group also gathered at the academy to express solidarity with the former president and tout his innocence. The academy has beefed up security to prevent clashes between demonstrators.
9.51am: The international community will "consider other means to protect Syrian civilians" if the regime of Bashar al-Assad continues to "resist and disregard" an Arab League peace plan, the US has warned.
Washington condemned the escalation in violence ahead of the observers' arrival in Syria, said state department spaokesman Mark C Toner, adding:
The [Arab League] monitors should have unfettered access to protestors and to areas most severely affected by the regime's crackdown. They bear a heavy responsibility in trying to protect Syrian civilians from the depredations of a murderous regime.
The next steps that the United States and the international community take will consider the extent of genuine cooperation from Syrian authorities with the Arab League monitoring mission, and the government's degree of compliance with the other elements of the Arab League initiative.
If the Syrian regime continues to resist and disregard Arab League efforts, the international community will consider other means to protect Syrian civilians.
9.32am: There is a clear division among Arab League states as to how best to proceed with Syria, AP reports.
While its members agree Assad must go, they are divided on how and are wary that an escalation in the crisis might bring international intervention. As a result, the observer mission was their best compromise.
On the one side, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and their Gulf Arab allies favour Arab sanctions on the regime and referring the issue to the U.N. Security Council for action, the report says.
On the other, Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon and Algeria are eager to give the Arab peace plan a chance.

The Egypt-led camp, the officials [who spoke to AP] said, hopes that enough troops and weapons will be pulled out from Syrian cities to prompt Syrians to take to the streets in large numbers, putting Assad under the kind of pressure that forced Egypt's Hosni Mubarak and Tunisia's Zine El Abidine Ben Ali out of office this year.
9.15am: Only one day in and already questions are being asked of the Arab League's month-long observer mission in Syria.
Human Rights Watch, the New York-based organisation, is accusing the Syrian authorities of hiding "perhaps hundreds" of detainees from the Arab observers as they tour flashpoint areas such as Homs.
It says it has spoken to witnesses who have told them that, in the days leading up to the monitors' arrival, prisoners were transfered to military bases which remain off-limits to the observers. Calling on the Arab League to "insist on full access to all Syrian sites used for detention," HRW quoted its Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson as saying:

Syria's subterfuge makes it essential for the Arab League to draw clear lines regarding access to detainees, and be willing to speak out when those lines are crossed.
9.00am: Good morning and welcome to Middle East live.
We'll be focusing today on the Arab League's observer mission in Syria, and on the resumption of Hosni Mubarak's trial in Cairo.


Arab League observers are resuming their monitoring work in the city of Homs a day after tens of thousands of people turned out to welcome their arrival.The head of the delegation, Sudanese General Mustafa Dabi, told Reuters he believed the situation in the restive city to be "reassuring so far". Activists however said the regime had not stopped its assault on civilian protesters, accusing it of opening fire on protesters and killing several people in Homs yesterday.
Dabi's role as chief observer is drawing criticism from activists who say his chequered past leaves him unqualified to be a standard-bearer for human rights. Dabi is a former head of military intelligence under the regime of President Omar al-Bashir. Omer Ismail, a Sudanese analyst for the Enough Project, a Washington-based organisation focused on genocide and crimes against humanity, told the Guardian:

When he served as Sudan's former head of military intelligence … alleged war crimes including genocide were committed on his watch.
Instead of heading a team entrusted with a probe of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity by Syria, the general should be investigated by the ICC for evidence of similar crimes in Sudan.


Hosni Mubarak, the onetime dictator, has been wheeled back into a Cairo courtroom as his trial on charges of killing protesters and abuse of power resumes. The trial, which has been suspended for several months, is fascinating Egyptians and the Arab world. Mubarak, 83, could face the death penalty if convicted.
Forced "virginity tests" on female detainees have been ruled illegal after a court ordered an end to the practice. Hundreds of activists were in a Cairo courtroom to hear a judge say the army could not use the 'test' on women held in military prisons in a case filed by Samira Ibrahim, one of seven women subjected to the practice after being arrested in Tahrir Square during a protest earlier this year.

Israel and Palestinian territories

Israel's president has urged "the entire nation" to support the battle "to save the majority from the hands of a small minority" amid rising tensions between the country's secular and religious Jews on one side, and extremist ultra-orthodox groups on the other. As thousands of Israelis gathered in the town of Beit Shemesh for a protest following an attack on an eight-year-old girl for dressing "immodestly", Simon Peres told the country:

We are fighting for the soul of the nation and the essence of the state.

Cyclone Thane: Food, ready

HYDERABAD: Chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy has directed chief secretary Pankaj Dwivedi to instruct district collectors of the districts concerned, mainly Nellore and Prakasam, to take all precautionary measures in view of the approaching cyclone Thane.
The chief minister took stock of the cyclone situation in the state at the secretariat on Tuesday. Revenue minister N Raghuveera Reddy, chief secretary and disaster management commissioner T Radha and other senior officials were present.
He asked senior officials to visit the coastal districts and also YSR Kadapa, Ananthapur, Kurnool and Chittoor districts to review the measures taken by the respective district administrations.
Officials said adequate food stocks, drinking water sachets, emergency lamps/ lights etc have been kept in readiness. Medical and health department officials have been instructed to keep sufficient quantities of essential medicines and 108 and 104 medical ambulance services are kept ready to help affected people. The electricity department has been instructed to take special care to monitor the power situation.
Similarly, APSRTC authorities have been asked to keep sufficient number of buses ready for the movement of people in case of evacuation and also for the supply of essentials.
Police and fire departments have been asked to keep constant vigil and be in touch with the district administration.
District collectors have been instructed to ensure sanitation, adequate lighting and drinking water at cyclone shelters and other places where the evacuated people will be housed.

HDFC Chairman Deepak Parekh resigns from Hindustan Unilever board Close

NEW DELHI: FMCG major Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) today said HDFC Ltd Chairman Deepak Parekh, who is an independent director in the company's board has resigned after more than 14 years of association with the firm citing personal reasons.

Parekh, who was on the company's board since 1997, resigned after putting in more than 14 years in the firm, HUL said in a filing to the BSE.

The resignation is with effect from December 27, 2011, it added.

"Parekh during his long tenure lasting more than 14 years as an independent director made significant contribution to the company and has now chosen to step down given several other commitments that he has," it added.

Parekh was also the chairman of HUL's audit committee, it said.

The other independent directors of HUL include A Narayan, TCS Vice-Chairman S Ramadorai and noted scientist and former Director General of CSIR R A Mashelkar.

Shares of HUL were trading at Rs 412.50 on the BSE in the afternoon trade, down 0.94 per cent from its previous close.