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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

ICC World Cup : Yuvraj helps India beat Netherlands by 5 wickets

Yuvraj sing
As twilight merged into night at Ferozeshah Kotla, the din became louder. The party was on and the raucous crowd was having its fill as Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag tore into the modest Netherlands attack. Just 190 needed to wrap this one up against the minnows, it was celebration time. Suddenly, the grand march towards victory became a painful lurch towards the post as profligate Indian batsmen gave new sheen to the expression, "cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties."
Sehwag, Tendulkar and Pathan sacrificed their wickets while trying to finish the game before the waiters stopped serving evening tea in the dressing room. Virat Kohli's expansive drive only helped the ball hit the off-stump and Gautam Gambhir was unlucky to see his leg-stump clipped around his legs.
From 69 without loss to 99 for four and then 139 for five was almost surreal. The tension in the air was palpable, just as it was in the last game against Ireland. The old firm of Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni then took charge and sanity was restored. India won the World Cup Group B game on Wednesday by five wickets with more than 13 overs remaining, also making to the quarterfinals in the process. But with tougher tests coming up, doubters would still be shouting from the roof tops, such was the display overall.
Yuvraj turned in another remarkably saviour-like, man-of-the-match performance to soothe nerves and see India home. He was nagging with ball (9-1-43-2) and resolute with the bat (51 not out, 73 balls, 7x4). One was reminded of what Dhoni said on Tuesday in the pre-match press meet: "I'm a great fan of Yuvraj Singh."
In the first half of the day, the script went the way India's spin doctors would have wanted it to. A web of spin on a low, slow and turning Kotla track, not your 'ideal' One-day wicket by any means, suffocated the life out of Dutch batsmen. The visitors huffed and puffed their way to 189 all out in 46.4 overs after winning the toss and batting first.
That spin would be the order of the day was established quite early when Pathan replaced Ashish Nehra after the comeback man had bowled just one over of his medium pace. Star off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was in operation by the seventh over and soon, Piyush Chawla too was creating confusion in the Dutch ranks with his assortment of leg-spinners, googlies and flippers.
All this while, Yuvraj, fresh from a five-wicket haul in the last game against Ireland, was rubbing his hands in anticipation. It was not long before he also got his chance to make hay in the sun, which he did immediately by picking up a wicket in his first over.
The medium-pacers, especially Zaheer Khan, also benefited from the pressure applied by the spinners. Zaheer picked up three in his second spell to help India wrap up the innings in a hurry. The Netherlands essay, which had a promising start, began misfiring as soon as the tweakers came on. The Dutch batsmen did not have the wherewithal to counter quality spin in these conditions. Thus, the 56-run opening stand proved a flash in the pan as wickets fell at regular intervals.
It was left to skipper Peter Borren to launch a late riposte with a breezy 38 off 36 balls. He crashed Yuvraj for two fours in the 42nd over of the innings and then whack two sixes off Chawla in the 43rd to bring some substance to the total.
Chawla finally found a track where he could turn the ball and hoodwink the batters. Of course, the Dutch could not exert too much pressure on him but his confidence would have got a fillip nonetheless. He could even turn his googlies which normally do not turn much.
A wickets, though, eluded Harbhajan once again, despite the sardar bowling his full quota. In the field, the hosts looked flat. They might be saving the fire for the bigger tests. But it's fielding which exhibits the collective attitude of a group. And since skipper Dhoni has himself thrown the towel — he said India's fielding can't improve — one cannot hope for anything better. Besides a lack of quality effort from many in the field, two return catches were fluffed, one each by Chawla and Yuvraj, though both were tough ones.In tight games, this lack of intent may cost India dearly.
score card

Netherlands innings (50 overs maximum) R M B 4s 6s SR
ES Szwarczynski b Chawla 28 59 42 4 0 66.66
W Barresi† lbw b Yuvraj Singh 26 67 58 2 0 44.82
TLW Cooper c †Dhoni b Nehra 29 52 47 2 0 61.70
RN ten Doeschate c Khan b Yuvraj Singh 11 29 28 1 0 39.28
AN Kervezee c Harbhajan Singh b Chawla 11 45 23 1 0 47.82
B Zuiderent lbw b Khan 0 10 6 0 0 0.00
TN de Grooth run out (Chawla/†Dhoni) 5 14 11 0 0 45.45
PW Borren* c Nehra b Khan 38 46 36 3 2 105.55
BP Kruger run out (Kohli/†Dhoni) 8 16 12 1 0 66.66
Mudassar Bukhari b Khan 21 20 18 1 2 116.66

PM Seelaar not out 0 2 0 0 0 -

Extras (b 6, lb 3, w 2, nb 1) 12

Total (all out; 46.4 overs; 191 mins) 189 (4.05 runs per over)
Fall of wickets1-56 (Szwarczynski, 15.2 ov), 2-64 (Barresi, 18.6 ov), 3-99 (ten Doeschate, 28.2 ov), 4-100 (Cooper, 29.1 ov), 5-101 (Zuiderent, 30.6 ov), 6-108 (de Grooth, 34.2 ov), 7-127 (Kervezee, 38.1 ov), 8-151 (Kruger, 42.2 ov), 9-189 (Borren, 46.1 ov), 10-189 (Mudassar Bukhari, 46.4 ov)

Bowling O M R W Econ

Z Khan 6.4 0 20 3 3.00

A Nehra 5 1 22 1 4.40

YK Pathan 6 1 17 0 2.83

Harbhajan Singh 10 0 31 0 3.10 (2w)
PP Chawla 10 0 47 2 4.70 (1nb)
Yuvraj Singh 9 1 43 2 4.77

India innings (target: 190 runs from 50 overs) R M B 4s 6s SR
V Sehwag c Kervezee b Seelaar 39 36 26 5 2 150.00
SR Tendulkar c Kruger b Seelaar 27 45 22 6 0 122.72
YK Pathan c & b Seelaar 11 12 10 1 1 110.00
G Gambhir b Mudassar Bukhari 28 57 28 3 0 100.00
V Kohli b Borren 12 16 20 2 0 60.00

Yuvraj Singh not out 51 93 73 7 0 69.86

MS Dhoni*† not out 19 56 40 2 0 47.50

Extras (w 4) 4

Total (5 wickets; 36.3 overs; 160 mins) 191 (5.23 runs per over)
Did not bat Harbhajan Singh, PP Chawla, Z Khan, A Nehra
Fall of wickets1-69 (Sehwag, 7.3 ov), 2-80 (Tendulkar, 9.1 ov), 3-82 (Pathan, 9.5 ov), 4-99 (Kohli, 14.3 ov), 5-139 (Gambhir, 23.1 ov)

Bowling O M R W Econ

Mudassar Bukhari 6 1 33 1 5.50 (2w)

RN ten Doeschate 7 0 38 0 5.42 (2w)
PM Seelaar 10 1 53 3 5.30

PW Borren 8 0 33 1 4.12

TLW Cooper 2 0 11 0 5.50

BP Kruger 3.3 0 23 0 6.57

Keeping an eye on H1N1

MIT scientists identify a mutation that could allow the flu virus to spread much more easily.
Anne Trafton, MIT News
An image of the H1N1 influenza virus.
Cambridge (Massachusetts). In the fall of 1917, a new strain of influenza swirled around the globe. At first, it resembled a typical flu epidemic: Most deaths occurred among the elderly, while younger people recovered quickly. However, in the summer of 1918, a deadlier version of the same virus began spreading, with disastrous consequence. In total, the pandemic killed at least 50 million people — about 3 percent of the world’s population at the time.
That two-wave pattern is typical of pandemic flu viruses, which is why many scientists worry that the 2009 H1N1 (“swine”) flu virus might evolve into a deadlier form.
H1N1, first reported in March 2009 in Mexico, contains a mix of human, swine and avian flu genes, which prompted fears that it could prove deadlier than typical seasonal flu viruses. However, the death toll was much lower than initially feared, in large part because the virus turned out to be relatively inefficient at spreading from person to person.
In a new study from MIT, researchers have identified a single mutation in the H1N1 genetic makeup that would allow it to be much more easily transmitted between people. The finding, reported in the March 2 edition of the journal Public Library of Science (PLoS) One, should give the World Health Organization, which tracks influenza evolution, something to watch out for, says Ram Sasisekharan, senior author of the paper.
“There is a constant need to monitor the evolution of these viruses,” says Sasisekharan, the Edward Hood Taplin Professor and director of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. Some new H1N1 strains have already emerged, and the key question, Sasisekharan adds, is whether those strains will have greater ability to infect humans.
WHO labs around the world are collecting samples of human and avian flu strains, whose DNA is sequenced and analyzed for potential significant mutations. However, it’s difficult, with current technology, to predict how a particular DNA sequence change will alter the structure of influenza proteins, including hemagglutinin (HA), which binds to receptors displayed by cells in the human respiratory tract. Now that this specific HA mutation has been identified as a potentially dangerous one, the WHO should be able to immediately flag any viruses with that mutation, if they appear.
Identifying this mutation is an important step because it is usually very difficult to identify which of the many possible mutations of the HA protein will have any impact on human health, says Qinghua Wang, assistant professor of biochemistry at Baylor College of Medicine. “These are exactly the types of mutations that we need to watch out for in order to safeguard humans from future disastrous flu pandemics,” he says.

On June 11, 2009, about three months after the H1N1 virus first appeared, the World Health Organization declared a level 6 pandemic alert (the highest level). Nearly 5,000 H1N1 deaths were reported to the WHO, and more than 400,000 cases were confirmed, though the true number of cases is significantly higher because many countries stopped counting cases after the first few months of the outbreak, according to the WHO.
In July 2009, a team of researchers from MIT, led by Sasisekharan, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in the journal Science that the H1N1 virus was much less easily passed from person to person than seasonal flu viruses and earlier pandemic flu viruses such as the second wave of the 1918 strain.
Sasisekharan and CDC senior microbiologist Terrence Tumpey had previously shown that a major factor in flu-virus transmissibility is the structure of the HA protein, which is found on the viral surface. The tightness of fit between HA and the respiratory cell receptor determines how effectively the virus infects a host.
The 2009 H1N1 strain, like the first wave of 1918 (known as the NY18 strain), does not bind efficiently. However, it took only one mutation of the NY18 virus’ HA protein to become the much more virulent SC18 strain, which caused the second wave.

Viral evolution
In the new PLoS study, the MIT researchers focused on a segment of the HA protein that they have shown affects its ability to bind to respiratory cells. They created a virus with a single mutation in that region, which replaced the amino acid isoleucine with another amino acid, lysine. That switch greatly increased the HA protein’s binding strength. They also found that the new virus spread more rapidly in ferrets, which are commonly used to model human influenza infection.
If such a mutant virus evolved, it could generate a “second wave” like the ones seen in 1918 and in 1957 (known as the “Asian flu”). “If you look at the history, it takes a very small change to these viruses to have a dramatic effect,” Sasisekharan says.
The amino acid in question is located in a part of the viral genome prone to mutate frequently, because it is near the so-called antigenic site — the part of the HA protein that interacts with human antibodies. Antigenic sites tend to evolve rapidly to escape such antibodies, which is why flu vaccine makers have to use new formulas every year. This year’s vaccine included a strain of H1N1, which is still circulating around the world.

The search for planets around other stars : a talk at Stanford

Natalie Batalha
Natalie Batalha, a key scientist in the search for Earth-like planets orbiting distant stars, will talk about the quest Thursday evening as the speaker for the annual Bunyan Lecture, presented by the Stanford Astronomy Program.  The 7:30 p.m. talk is free and open to the public.


Is there life elsewhere in space?
Two years in, NASA's search for Earth-like planets circling far-flung stars is galloping ahead. The Kepler telescope, in orbit around Earth, has discovered 15 stars with planets of their own.
And the checklist of stars that might harbor planets has grown to 1,235.
But the quest is still on for the perfect planet, the gem that could potentially sustain life.
Natalie Batalha, a key scientist in the project, says that someday, in the very distant future, our descendants may venture to such a planet.
"Somehow, this really taps into something fundamental in our nature," Batalha said in an interview. "It's the seed of exploration in all of us."
Batalha, an astrophysicist at San Jose State University, is the deputy science leader of the Kepler team. She will explain this galactic search during the 28th Annual Bunyan Lecture, presented by the Stanford Astronomy Program. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is scheduled for Thursday, March 10, at 7:30 p.m. in Braun Auditorium, in the Mudd Chemistry Building, 333 Campus Drive.
NASA's planet-hunting  Kepler stares out into a slice of the Milky Way, like a video camera looking at 156,000 stars simultaneously. Its instruments search for the telltale temporary dimness created when an orbiting planet passes in front of its star, blocking a portion of the light we see from Earth.
Some of Kepler's discovered planets are too near a hot star to support life; others are frigid, too far away. The goal is to find planets in the habitable zone, where the temperature will permit the presence of liquid water and perhaps life.
But while the ultimate quest is the discovery of life afar, the more immediate goal is simply finding planets. For that, Kepler gets some help from the Keck Observatory in Hawaii. When Kepler finds a winking star, Keck can focus in to gather precise data.
A star obviously has a gravitational effect on a planet orbiting around it, but it works the other way as well: The gravity of the planet causes the star to wobble slightly. That wobble pushes the star ever so slightly closer to Earth, and then away, a movement that can be detected by tiny changes in the color of the star's light – the Doppler Effect.
"The dimming of light tells us something about the size of the planet, and the Doppler shift tells us something about the mass of the planet," Batalha said.
As young students learn in physics class, if you know the mass and volume of an object – including planets – you can then compute the density. This led researchers to conclude that one recently discovered planet is so dense that it should be known as the rocky planet.
"There is awe in the discovery of new worlds," Batalha said. "I think it's really important for the public to take this journey with us, and learn what we're learning. We think this is something important for humanity."

Kate vs Catherine: Future queen puts UK in royal dilemma

BELFAST (Northern Ireland).
Call her Kate, at least for now. It may be years before Kate Middleton becomes queen, but questions are already being raised about the princess-to-be's preferred moniker: queen Kate or queen Catherine?
Ever since her engagement became official in November, palace officials - and her fiance, prince William - have taken to calling her Catherine, which is the name used on the official, gold-embossed invitations to their nuptials at Westminster Abbey on April 29.
"Catherine'' sounds more formal, regal and fitting for a future queen, experts say. But Middleton herself may not embrace the change just yet. During a joint visit on Tuesday with William to Northern Ireland, Middleton mentioned casually that she thinks of herself primarily as Kate.
"I'm still very much Kate,'' said Middleton, when a woman outside Belfast City Hall asked her what name she preferred.
The "Kate'' versus "Catherine'' debate has emerged in recent weeks because of William's switch in using it and because "Catherine'' or the initial "C'' is being imprinted on officially sanctioned wedding memorabilia and commemorative china.
"I think that Catherine does have a more historic feel to it; there have been several queen consorts called Catherine in British history,'' said Charles Kidd, editor of the blue-blood bible Debrett's Peerage. "So queen Catherine does sound quite familiar. It has a historic ring to it.''
He said Kate also sounds pleasant but reminds him of the feisty character in 'Kiss Me Kate,' a Cole Porter musical that features Shakespeare's play 'The Taming of the Shrew.'
The late Princess Diana, William's mother, also had an informal nickname - "Lady Di'' - that was too casual for formal court affairs, where she was called Her Royal Highness, The Princess of Wales.

IAEA nod to China, Pak pact for two new nuclear reactors

The global nuclear watchdog has approved the safeguards agreement between Pakistan and China for building two new nuclear power reactors at the existing facility at Chashma in Pakistan.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) unanimously approved the agreement at a meeting of its Board of Governors in Vienna yesterday.
"It is only a technical agreement between Pakistan and China. It was approved unanimously," an IAEA official said.
India is a member of the 35-member IAEA Board of Governors.
The agreement enables Pakistan to procure nuclear reactors from China and the IAEA rules do not prohibit such transfers.
However, a nod from the Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG) would be necessary to enable such transfers. The 45-member NSG controls export or transfer of nuclear materials between countries to ensure they are used only for civilian nuclear energy programmes.
The IAEA official said the global nuclear watchdog had nothing to say on NSG clearances for the agreement.

Founder of Muslim TV station sentenced for wife's beheading in US

The founder of a TV station aimed at improving the image of Muslims in the US has been found guilty of beheading his wife and was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years in prison.
Pakistan-born Muzzammil Hassan and his wife Aasiya founded Bridges TV in 2004 when US attitudes towards Muslims were at an all-time low following the Sep 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the country's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
They hoped that by portraying the positive culture and heritage of the more than eight million Muslims living in the US, they would counter the negative stereotypes that were prevalent among many Americans.
But the ambitious couple ended up only reinforcing those stereotypes when their marriage fell apart.
In February 2009, five days after Aasiya informed Hassan that she would seek a divorce, the TV executive went to a police station in Buffalo New York and told police that his wife was dead.
Police found her decapitated body and the long knife used to kill her in Hassan's office. Hassan admitted to killing her but claimed that he had acted in self-defence.
"I deeply regret that things came down to what they came down to," Hassan said in court on Wednesday according to BuffaloNews.com.
In Wednesday's sentencing in Erie County Court in upstate New York, Judge Thomas Franczyk said he had no doubt that the murder was a "premeditated act of violence".
"Justice demands that you receive nothing less than the maximum possible sentence," the judge said, according to the report.

China to launch construction of rail line to Myanmar this year

China is set to begin construction of a railway line to Myanmar this year. The move is expected to help Beijing in its competition with India in acquiring infrastructure development and other business contracts in Myanmar.
China has also entered into an agreement with the Russian government to resume freight train services on a railway line, which was closed down six years back due to differences among its stake holders. The 100-km railway line connecting Hunchun in China with Makhalino in Russia is scheduled to reopen next May.
Construction of the rail line to Myanmar has been delayed due to elections and some political problems in that country.
"We originally wanted to start as soon as possible but because the (new) Myanmar government has just been formed and because of their internal problems, we have had to wait," Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming said Tuesday "We want to start construction this year," he said.
One of the challenges facing the new line would be mismatched gauges in the two countries. The two governments have signed an agreement to sort out this problem. China is offering several sweeteners like help in establishing power grids, telecommunication networks, oil and gas pipelines and ports.
Myanmar faces wide ranging sanctions from Western governments and is keen on getting assistance from Beijing. The country saw its first election in 20 years in November but it has been condemned by critics as government controlled voting exercise.

Revived Maoists begin flexing muscle in Nepal

Within days of joining the new communist-led government of Nepal, the former Maoist guerrillas have begun to flex their trade union muscle, calling strikes in quick succession in the major industrial areas, whose effect will also be felt by major Indian companies like Hindustan Unilever, ITC and Dabur India.
From Tuesday, the All Nepal Industrial Trade Union owing allegiance to the Maoists withdrew from negotiations with officials of the Hetauda Industrial Corridor in central Nepal and enforced an indefinite strike that has hit nearly 80 industries employing over 5,000 workers. Among the besieged industries is Hindustan Unilever's subsidiary Nepal Unilever, which faces a daily loss of NRS 4 million as its factory at Basmadi in Makwanpur district remains closed.
On Wednesday, the trade union on the warpath also shut down industries in the Morang-Sunsari Industrial Corridor, the largest in the country with about 500 units. Though it was a token strike from half an hour in the morning, the Chamber of Industry, Morang said the union had distributed pamphlets saying it would be followed by a one-hour closure Thursday, which will be doubled Friday. If its demands are not met by then, the striking union has warned of stronger measures, likely to lead to an indefinite closure, as in Makwanpur.
ITC's joint venture Surya Nepal, one of the biggest tax payers in the Himalayan republic, has its garments factory in Biratnagar town located in the corridor. ITC's John Players garments are manufactured here and exported to India and other countries. The strike call comes even as Surya Nepal is building a new factory for its tobacco business in Tanahun district in the hills to get a reprieve from the culture of bandhs plaguing southern Nepal.
The Maoist trade union is demanding that the existing minimum wage of NRS 4,600 (less than Rs 3,000) be increased to NRS 10,000 and daily wage to NRS 450 from NRS 190. It says the current 11.3 percent inflation has made survival impossible on the current prescribed wages. The industries, on the other hand, are incurring whopping losses due to the power crisis that started three years ago, resulting presently in almost 18-20 hours of power cut daily during waking and working hours. They are also besieged by extortion by armed groups and major political parties, and the fear of kidnap and even murder attempts.
Dabur India's joint venture Dabur Nepal, which had its factory in southern Nepal raided in December and 74,000 cartons of its Real brand of fruit juice initially sealed for manufacturing date irregularities, faces possible disruptions later this month along with Surya Nepal's tobacco factory. The Maoists have announced similar protests in the Bara-Parsa Industrial Corridor along the Indian border till March 25. From March 26, the union has warned of an indefinite strike in the belt if the industries fail to concede its demand.

Second British royal wedding set for July 30

Zara Phillips (right)
Queen Elizabeth II's eldest grand-daughter and champion showjumper Zara Phillips is to wed Mike Tindall, the England rugby union captain, in Edinburgh on July 30, Buckingham Palace said Wednesday.
"Miss Zara Phillips and Mr Mike Tindall will be married at the Canongate Kirk, Edinburgh, on Saturday, 30th July," the brief statement said.
"The couple will hold a reception at the Palace of Holyroodhouse following the ceremony."
Holyroodhouse is the sovereign's official residence in Scotland.
The second British royal wedding this year will come almost exactly three months after Phillips's cousin Prince William, the second in line to the throne, marries his university sweetheart Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey in London on April 29.

Bomb kills 36 at anti-Taliban funeral in Peshawar

In the latest string of militant attacks, a suicide bomber attacked a funeral procession in Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar on Wednesday, killing at least 36 people and wounding more than 50 others.
The attack came a day after 25 people were killed and more than 120 injured in a car bomb explosion at a gas station in the city of Faisalabad.
Officials said the suicide bomber detonated his strapped explosives when around 100 men were offering funeral prayers for a woman relative of a member of an anti-Taliban militia at a lawless Adezai town on the outskirts of Peshawar.
"The bomber targeted the funeral of the daughter-in-law of Kalam Khan - a leader of the anti-Taliban tribal force in Adezai, six miles from Peshawar city," said Ijaz Khan, a senior police official.
"The suicide bomber walked into the crowd of mourners and detonated himself. That is why the casualties are so many," Khan said.
Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was carried out in retaliation for the support by local tribal militia of the ongoing anti-Taliban operation by Pakistan's security forces in the tribal region. Bloodied flesh, shoes and caps littered the scene of the attack. TV channels showed survivors and volunteers rushing the injured into hospitals.
The government raised several anti-Taliban militia groups spearheaded by Pashtun tribal elders in the region.
The area has already witnessed frequent Taliban attacks on police stations and security posts. A former head of the pro-government force, Abdul Malik, was also killed in a similar bombing in the area in 2009.
The recent escalation in terror attacks is indicative of the fact that the Pakistani Taliban have regrouped. 

No field trial of GM crops without state govts' nod: Ramesh

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh today said all field trials of genetically modified (GM) crops will be stopped if chief ministers ask the Ministry to stop such experiments in their states.
Ramesh was reacting to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's reported opposition to field trials of GM crop Bt maize in his state.
The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), under the Environment Ministry, had allowed US-based firm Monsanto to conduct field trials of Bt maize in Bihar.
Ramesh said no field trial would be allowed without the written permission of the state government and that he had given direction to the GEAC in this regard.
When asked about the Ministry's approval to Rubber Board to conduct field trials on GM rubber in Kerala, which was opposed by state Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran, Ramesh said Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan did not ask him to stop it.
The minister said there were differences within Kerala's ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) on this issue and that prevented the Chief Minister from asking him to stop the experiment in the state.

US tops Rs 31,000cr-donation list

Over Rs 31,000 crore have been received as donations from abroad by various associations and organisations working in the country during 2006-09 with nearly one-third coming from the United States alone, Lok Sabha was informed on Tuesday.
The maximum number of these donations were directed to associations and NGOs based in Delhi followed by Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, which have received Rs 8,095 crore, 5,437.91 crore and 3,545.24 crore, respectively during the three-year period -- from 2006 to 2009. The top donor was the United States from where over Rs 9,310 crore were received by NGOs in India during the period, data presented by the home ministry in Lok Sabha revealed.
According to the data, Indian NGOs and associations have received Rs 31,473 crore as donations during the 2006-09 period.
MoS (home affairs) Mullappally Ramachandran said some complaints have been received with regard to irregularities and misutilisation of such funds, and based on them 41 associations have been prohibited from receiving funds from abroad. He said, "About 41 associations are prohibited from receiving foreign contribution, 35 associations are placed in prior permission category and accounts of 11 associations are frozen at present. Further nine cases have been referred to CBI for detailed investigations for FCRA violations.''
He said of these nine cases, four are on trial, one has been convicted. The minister said, "Two are stayed by courts, one has been closed due to insufficient evidence and in one case prosecution sanction has been issued.''

Akhilesh Yadav arrested, calls Mayawati autocratic

Akhilesh Yadav
Samajwadi Party MP Akhilesh Yadav, the son of party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, was arrested from the airport here on Wednesday to prevent him from taking part in protests against Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati and her party.
"The state government has been functioning in an autocratic manner and my arrest reflects it clearly," Akhilesh Yadav said.
Akhilesh Yadav, who is president of the party's Uttar Pradesh unit, was held at Amausi airport shortly after he arrived from Delhi.
"We will continue our fight against the autocratic functioning of the state government, irrespective of the harsh measures being adopted by the state government to gag us," he added.
According to Deputy Inspector General, Lucknow, DK Thakur, he was arrested to maintain law and order in the wake of the SP's protests against Uttar Pradesh's ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
He was supposed to address party men first at the SP's office in Lucknow and later in Kannauj, his parliamentary constituency, said party spokesperson in the state Rajendra Chaudhary.
SP launched a three-day statewide agitation against the state's ruling party on March 7 as part of its campaign "BSP hatao, Pradesh Bachao (Remove BSP, save the state)".

Chennai cops bust nationwide online sex racket

Suburban police on Tuesday busted a national-level online prostitution network, and arrested one pimp and rescued two Mumbai-based women near Porur Roundtana. Police said that the girls who engaged in the trade moved from one city to the other.
Police received a tip-off from a customer about a prostitution racket in a house in Virugambakkam, carried out under the garb of escort services. The police found a contact number on the Internet and used a decoy to initiate contact. After two days of investigation and follow-ups, the special anti-vice squad of suburban police nabbed the pimp and rescued a girl from a car on Tuesday noon.
According to the police, the pimp was identified as R Saravanamuthu alias Surya, 35, from Vattur village in Namakkal district. Saravanamuthu used to bring girls from Mumbai. Meanwhile, the police raided a house in Virugambakkam and rescued another girl. The girls are Manjula Pande, 22, of Orissa and Neha Choudhary, 24, of Andra Pradesh. The two had settled in Mumbai four years ago.
The police found a Bangalore number online, and when they called, they obtained a local number. The gang offered college girls and teen girls for escort services.
"The pimp allowed his customers take the girls out, and asked them to treat the women like their wives," assistant deputy commissioner of suburban police S Jayakumar said. He charged `15,000 for a day. The girls worked for a monthly salary.

Gaddafi plane crosses Greece air space : Defense ministry

A private plane belonging to embattled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi with unknown passengers aboard crossed Greek airspace en route to Egypt on Wednesday, a Greek defense ministry source said.
"A private plane of Gaddafi has crossed Greek airspace en route to Egypt," the ministry source said, adding: "We do not know who is on board."
A Greek air force source said the plane was a Libyan Airlines Falcon 900 that normally carries VIPs, though the pilot denied that dignitaries were on board.
"The pilot tabled a flight plan from Tripoli to Cairo," the air force source said, adding: "The plane crossed southwest of the island of Crete around an hour ago. It should be landing in Cairo by now."
Gaddafi on Tuesday had called Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, the Greek leader's office said. In the discussion, Papandreou had told Gaddafi to seek a peaceful resolution to the rebel uprising against his government.
The Libyan strongman, whose forces have hit back against rebels seeking his overthrow with air strikes that have killed civilians, is under a travel ban imposed by the United Nations Security Council.
The European Union last month placed a visa ban was against 16 people, including Gaddafi, members of his family "closely associated with the regime" and others "responsible for the violent crackdown on the civilian population".

Air India earns Rs 36 crore a day, spends Rs 57 crore

Explaining the precarious financial health of India's flag carrier, the government on Wednesday said Air India earns Rs 36 crore a day from its operations while it spends about Rs 57 crore.
"We are paying compulsory payment abroad of Rs 16 crore and committed payment here in India is Rs 20 crore. But the total expenditure comes to about Rs 57 crore," civil aviation minister Vayalar Ravi said in Lok Sabha during the Question Hour.
Air India is facing a major problem of payment overdue for aviation fuel to oil companies. The overdue to oil PSUs have soared to over Rs 2,280 crore as on February this year.
"The government has infused Rs 1,200 crore, out of this, we have given Rs 475 crore to the oil companies. As it is, it is true that Rs 1,900 crore is still pending."
Besides, an amount of Rs 12.5 crore is being paid daily by Air India to oil companies on cash and carry basis. Till date Air India has paid 1,147.5 crore under this scheme.
Ravi said that the oil companies were not at all yielding to the government's requests of any concession. They (oil PSUs) have extended the credit facility to all the private airlines but not to Air India.
"We are requesting that Air India must get the treatment which is being extended to the private companies," Ravi said.
Asked whether the government is considering measures to ensure that private airlines cover all the Indian sectors in an appropriate manner to increase aviation connectivity, he said Route Dispersal Guidelines have been laid down with a view to achieve better regulation of air transport services covering various regions in the country.
"It is, however, up to the airlines to provide air services to specific places depending upon the traffic demand and commercial viability. Airlines are free to operate anywhere in the country subject to compliance of the Route Dispersal Guidelines issued by the government," Ravi said.

Al-Qaida, LeT threat to World Cup

In what will put the security apparatus of the 2011 World Cup on high alert, the intelligence bureau has warned of possible terror attacks during matches, which are held in India.
Times Now has accessed the Intelligence Director's letter to all the DGPs and the chief secretaries of all the coastal states, warning that terror groups like Al-Qaida and the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) are seeking time frames of the matches in the country.
The letter also says that the terrorists are planning a 26/11 type attack in India during world cup matches.
The letter dated March 2, 2011 read, "Al Qaida & LeT are planning near term attack. Urdu speaking LeT cadres are likely to try to sneak into India in the next few weeks. Zabiuddin Ansari & his operations network which were behind the German Bakery attack in Pune are seeking the time frame of the World Cup matches in India."
"Attack would be on par with the number of operative who participated in the 26/11 attacks. Some members of this cell are already in the country & some likely to arrive soon. Please take necessary precautions in your respective jurisdictions to detect any such attempt," the letter adds.
Reacting to the alert from intelligence agencies, BCCI Media Wing chairman Rajiv Shukla said, "We are in touch with the ministry of home affairs. We are taking all the required precautions. The local administration and state government are making all the necessary security arrangements for the players, officials and spectators."

Somali pirates free ship with 11 Indians, fate of 79 hangs in balance

Anxiety mounted today about the fate of 79 Indian sailors abducted by Somali pirates from an Egyptian ship as the deadline set by the sea brigands for the execution of eight of the hostages expired today.
On the other hand, 11 Indians captured along with their ship in a separate incident have been freed by Somali pirates, who had kept them hostage for 11 months, capping "delicate" negotiations.
The concern over the plight and safety of the 79 Indians on board the Egyptian cargo vessel MV Suez, hijacked in the Gulf of Aden on August 2 last year was voiced in the Lok Sabha when the Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj raised the issue during Zero Hour.
External Affairs Minister S M Krishna assured the House that the government was doing everything possible for their release.
"We are doing all that we can. We are in touch with the ship owners. We are depending upon ship owners, as is done in most cases, to negotiate with the pirates," he said.
Krishna said there was a transitional government in Somalia and "we have taken up the issue with the President of that government and he has assured us all help."
The Minister said he has held talks with the Egyptian Ambassador to India who has promised all assistance for safe and quick release of the hostages. The Indian envoys in Egypt and Dubai were also making efforts in this regard.
Meanwhile, 11 Indian sailors on ship RAK Africana were freed by Somali pirates and picked up by a Spanish naval ship in vicinity "(They are) safe," Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said on Twitter.
Noting that the negotiations for release of the Indians were "delicate" and "prolonged", she said 53 Indian sailors are still in captivity of the pirates along with hostages from other countries.

World looks at India more positively

Incredible India
Mark Twain and Max Mueller were captivated by India. Winston Churchill and Richard Nixon disdained her. In a far more complex 21st century environment, India continues to evoke mixed reactions across the world, although it is gradually increasing positive views from the international community even as it jostles for influence with key players such as United States and China.
A BBC World Service Country Rating Poll of 27 countries conducted with the University of Maryland shows India rated a 42% "mainly positive" view of its influence in 2010-2011, a 6% improvement over the previous year, with 29% "mainly negative". China rated 44-38 and the United States 49-31 in a poll that was topped by Germany 62-15, UK and Canada 57-12. The poll results released this week involved 28,619 citizens in major urban areas of 27 countries.
The broadly positive numbers for India masks a complex picture of country-by-country views that has ebbed and flowed with geo-political and economic developments. Of 27 countries polled, 17 lean positive towards India, four lean negative, and six are divided. Countries where there was a mainly negative view of India's influence include (not unexpectedly) Pakistan, and unexpectedly, Philippines, France and Spain. China and Australia were among the countries which are divided about India.
Although Americans and British still lean largely positive (56% and 50%, respectively), the poll showed their views of India's influence in world affairs have deteriorated over the past year, with negative ratings increasing sharply in both countries (29%, up 11 points in the US, 35%, up 19 points in the UK). The same trend is observed in Australia, where negative views are up 18 points compared to 2010, and Australian opinion shifted from being positive in 2010 to divided in 2011 (44% vs 45%).
Italy is the most favourable country towards India in Europe. More than six in ten (61%) lean positive, a 19-point rise since 2010. India also increased its positive views significantly in Turkey, South Korea and Nigeria. Even in China, the positive views of India went up from 29% in 2010 to 40% this year.
While most countries, including the United States and China, improved their positive view across the world, the three most negatively viewed countries saw their average ratings go from bad to worse, including Iran (59% negative, up 3 points since 2010), North Korea (55%, up 6 points), and Pakistan (56%, up 5 points).
Pakistan is having a particularly dismal time. Of the 27 countries polled in 2011, 23 lean negative towards Pakistan, three lean positive, and one is divided. Even China, Pakistan's much-vaunted ally, moved from being divided about Pakistan to leaning negative. While there was an increase in favorable ratings of seven points (37%), negative ratings grew by 13 points (47%).
A number of countries with clearly unfavorable leanings towards Pakistan have become even more negative, including the US (75%, up from 58%) and Australia (74%, up from 54%). Negative views of Pakistan in the United Kingdom jumped 24 points to 68%, and in Canada they increased by 18 points (67%). Turkey is the only country which has a positive view of Pakistan.
Views of the US continued their overall improvement in 2011, confirming the trend seen in 2010. Of the 27 countries surveyed, 18 hold positive views, seven hold negative views, and two are divided. In Asia, a majority of Chinese is now holding negative views (53%, up 9 points), and although views improved a bit in Pakistan, they are still largely negative overall (16% vs 46%).

Tax demand on Hasan Ali and associates pegged at Rs 71,845 crore

What exactly is the tax demand on Hasan Ali Khan and his associates? For a while, a figure of Rs 40,000 crore has been doing the rounds, though some tax officials were questioning the veracity of this amount. However, the income-tax department is now learnt to have raised a demand of Rs 71,845 crore.
This figure — which is larger than the country's health budget and its annual service tax collections — includes a demand of Rs 50,329 crore on Khan himself, Rs 49 crore on his wife, Rheema; Rs 591 crore on his alleged associate Kashi Nath Tapuriah and Rs 20,540 crore on his wife, Chandrika Tapuriah, revealed I-T department sources
Of the total tax demand of Rs 71,845 crore, the I-T department has adjusted only Rs 60 lakh which was recovered from raids on Khan and the Tapuriahs. The appeal is now pending before the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal. Even the Comptroller & Auditor General is learnt to be looking into the issue.
Although investigations have been on since 2007, tax authorities were not really seen to be pushing the case till the Supreme Court turned up the heat. Interestingly, the Centre had filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court in 2009 itself stating that the I-T department had raised a demand of Rs 71,848.59 crore against Khan, his wife Rheema and other associates (reported by TOI in a front-page article, 'Pune man holds secret billions' on May 3, 2009).
Government officials, however, said the recent demand was made following information collected by them from a pen drive and laptop recovered during raids on Hasan Ali and the Tapuriahs. They further said the scope of the probe has been widened to include at least six more countries, which may further push up the demand on Khan. The I-T department is investigating Khan's investment links in these countries.
At nearly Rs 72,000 crore, the tax demand is nearly half the amount locked up in all tax disputes (direct and indirect), which were estimated at Rs 1.43 lakh crore at the end of March 2010 — not including the demand on Khan.
The amount is more than what is being spent on food subsidy (Rs 60,000 crore), primary and secondary education (Rs 63,300 crore) or even the health ministry's budget (Rs 30,456 crore) in 2011-12. If the government manages to realize the amount from Khan and his associates, which officials admit is a remote possibility, it would be marginally higher than the Rs 69,400 crore that the government hopes to collect as service tax during the current financial year.