Monday, February 28, 2011

Libyan rebel troops close in on capital Tripoli

Foreign Ministers from around the world are gathering in the Swiss city of Geneva today to discuss their response to the mounting humanitarian crisis in Libya. Speaking ahead of the UN Human Rights Council meeting, the American secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she will discuss responses on both the humanitarian and political fronts with many of her counterparts from Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Opposition forces controlling eastern cities including Benghazi, where the uprising started 10 days ago, say they have formed a national council to act as the political face of the anti-Gaddafi movement. At least 1,000 people are believed to have been killed in nearly two weeks of violence in which eastern cities have fallen to anti-government forces.

Libya, hundreds of armed anti-government forces backed rebel troops are closing in on the Libyan capital Tripoli still under the control of Col Muammar Gaddafi's loyalists.But their grip beyond the capital has been shrinking and all of eastern Libya and some areas closer to Tripoli are in rebels hand. Advancing towards Gaddafi's stronghold of Tripoli, protestors yesterday gained control of Zawiyeh town, which is just 50 KM from the capital. Al Jazeera reported that the rebels have also taken control of the north western city of Misurata.Forces opposed to Gadhafi took control of several western Libyan towns, an official said on Sunday as the strongman played down rebel gains after world leaders called on him to quit.Protest leaders established a transitional "national council" in several eastern and western cities seized from the Gadhafi regime and called on the army to help them take the capital Tripoli.United States said it was prepared to offer "any kind of assistance" to Libyans seeking to overthrow Gadhafi as his opponents piece together a transitional body comprising representatives from the liberated cities.

The unrest in the oil-rich north African state has set off a "humanitarian emergency", the UN refugee agency UNHCR said, as almost 100,000 migrant workers fled Libya in a mass exodus of foreigners.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed the calls of world leaders, including President Barack Obama, for him to quit. "We are just at the beginning of what will follow Gadhafi," she said. "First we have to see the end of his regime and with no further bloodshed," she said, noting Washington is eager for his ouster "as soon as possible." "We want him to leave."

Speaking ahead of a UN Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva on Monday, Clinton said she would meet many of her counterparts from Europe and beyond to craft responses on both the humanitarian and political fronts as Libyans try to "organise themselves post-Kadhafi."

The UN Security Council imposed a travel and assets ban on Kadhafi's regime and ordered an investigation into possible crimes against humanity after at least 1,000 people were killed in a crackdown by Kadhafi's security apparatus.

London said it had frozen Kadhafi family assets in Britain, amid newspaper reports that these amount to around 20 billion pounds (32.2 billion dollars, 23.4 billion euros) in liquid assets, mostly in London.

Australia is investigating claims that Kadhafi's family has stashed millions of dollars in assets down under, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said Monday. Canberra has launched a forensic probe to track down any assets the crumbling regime may have secretly built up in Australia.

People of Libya will liberate their cities," "We are counting on the army to liberate Tripoli." residents said reports through media On Saturday, former justice minister Mustafa Abdel Jalil, who quit Kadhafi's regime on Monday, announced a transitional government would be formed to lead the country for a three-month period before an election.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wen promises steps to reduce income disparities

Premier Wen Jiabao held a live chat with Chinese internet savvy "netizens", promising steps to reduce growing income disparities, bring down spiralling prices and provide affordable housing.Ensuring that fair income distribution will be an important task of the government as it has direct bearing on social justice and fairness as well as social stability, Wen said replying to questions Sunday just few hours before protest gatherings called by dissidents abroad.During the past two years Wen began holding annual live chat with netizens ahead of the session of the country's legislature, National People's Congress, (NPC), which is scheduled to hold its session early next month.This year's chat took place hours ahead of scheduled "protests" called by overseas dissident group on an internet website.
Similar calls last week evoked gatherings of people in Beijing and Shanghai and official media spoke of some arrests.The website called for "strolling" protests in 18 cities Sunday and Chinese police have made elaborate security measures to deal with them, including cautioning foreign media about rules governing coverage in China.

Wen said the government is striving to ensure that people lead a comfortable life with security and confidence in the new five year plan starting this year.
China's development blueprint for the coming five years will place high emphasis on the efforts to improve people's livelihood, he said speaking on the live chat conducted by official Xinhua news agency.

To enhance people's living standards is "our work's starting point as well as the final aim," he said.Greater efforts will be made to boost social development and progress, especially in those key sectors and aspects concerning national development and mass interests, the premier said.In order to focus on livelihood issues, the government is going to focus less on GDP and more on improving peoples incomes, he said.

The government is to set its annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth target for the 2011-2015 period at seven per cent, much below the last years GDP growth rate of over 10 per cent.This is to highlight the need to raise the quality of growth and improve the living standards of the people.The target was lower than the 7.5 percent for the previous five years.“We'll never seek high economic growth rate and big size at the price of environment, as that would result in unsustainable growth featuring industrial overcapacity and intensive resource consumption," Wen said.

The central government would adopt new performance evaluation criteria for local governments and give more weightage to efficiency, environment protection and the people's living standards, he said.China's rise lies in talents and education, not gross domestic product (GDP), he said."The whole world is talking about China's rise, and what the people talk about most is (China's) GDP. But I think China's rise lies in talents and education," he said.He said he attaches greater importance to two other figures: the proportion of education expenditure in GDP and the proportion of scientific RandD expenditure in production."That concerns our nation's future," he said.He also said an important aspect for China's higher-learning education reform is to encourage students' creative spirit and independent thinking, in a bid to foster more high-caliber talents.More than six million students graduate from universities in China every year.He said the country will build more high-quality rural schools and take measures to make the nine-year compulsory education in cities more accessible to migrant workers' children.

The Cabinet, would discuss a plan to raise the threshold of personal income tax.
The plan, if implemented, would benefit China's whole medium and low-income groups, Wen said while answering a netizen' online question about tax payment.

The plan would be delivered later to the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature, for review, he said.He reiterated his determination to tame the country's runaway housing prices and promised to control the inflation which during the previous months reached 5.1 per cent.According to latest figures, the inflation was stated to be around 4.9 per cent.To curb the rising inflation, China has announced to shift to prudent monetary policy in 2011 from previous moderately loose monetary policy.He also promised steps to reduce energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) by 16 to 17 per cent by 2015 from 2011 levels.

Friday, February 25, 2011

UNSC session Friday on Libya

UN Security Council will meet in formal session on Friday to discuss the Libya crisis and Moamer Kadhafi's refusal to halt his crackdown on democracy protests, diplomats said.UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will address the 15-nation council, which has been searching for ways to step up pressure on Kadhafi over the unrest in which hundreds have been killed.US President Barack Obama and his French countepart Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday demanded an end to the use of force in Libya, the French presidency said."In the face of the continuing brutal and bloody repression, and to the threatening statements of the Libyan leadership, the two presidents reiterated their demand for an immediate halt to the use of force against the civilian population," it said.

In the telephone conversation initiated by Obama, Sarkozy said France would "demand a new urgent meeting of the UN Security Council on the situation in Libya," the French leader's office added in a statement.Thursday, France's human rights ambassador said "precise and corroborating evidence" could prove that crimes against humanity were committed during the crackdown on the popular uprising in Libya.Francois Zimeray said he had an unconfirmed figure of at least 1,000 people killed since the protests began last week.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Jubilant franchisee of ’Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants

2011-02-24 18:56:35 - Nksagar-Sagar Media Inc:
JFL, which already has rights for Domino’s Pizza, has now Jubilant FoodWorks Ltd., (JFL) India’s largest Food Service Company, announces the signing of a master franchisee agreement with the international subsidiary of Dunkin’ Donut’s to bring Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants to India.

Jubilant FoodWorks Ltd., (JFL) India’s largest Food Service Company, announces the signing of a master franchisee agreement with the international subsidiary of Dunkin’ Donut’s to bring Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants to India. With the beginning of this new agreement with Dunkin’ Donuts, JFL, which already has rights for Domino’s Pizza, has now significantly strengthened its portfolio. JFL is well poised to
address two distinct non-competing segments of the Food Service Industry in India, namely the home delivery of Pizza’s market and the all day part dine-in restaurant, food and beverage market.

Mr. Shyam S. Bhartia, Chairman and Mr. Hari S. Bhartia, Co-Chairman, Jubilant FoodWorks Limited said “We are delighted with this partnership and are excited about bringing the Dunkin’ Donuts brand to India. We strongly believe that the Dunkin’ Donuts brand is extremely relevant for India not only due its strength in donuts and coffee, but also due to a differentiated food and beverage menu. Dunkin' provides flexibility in localizing recipes, and we have strengths in food and culinary which we intend to leverage. We will provide an excellent all-day food, coffee, beverage and donut menu, suited to the Indian taste buds”.

Dunkin’ Donuts is an iconic brand, yet the brand is perhaps more relevant to consumers today than at any time in its history. The original Dunkin’ Donuts experience started in 1950 with cup of coffee and a donut. Today, Dunkin’ Donuts offers a wide range of high-quality foods and beverages, including a wide variety of coffee, coffee-related beverages, tea, flavoured beverages, baked goods and an expanding all-day snacking menu. Dunkin’ Donuts still use the original proprietary coffee blend recipe established by its founder more than 60 years ago. Besides coffee, Dunkin’ Donuts has a wide range of food products such as donuts, bagels, muffins, breakfast sandwiches, flatbread sandwiches, hash browns and more.

Dunkin’ Donuts is the world’s leading baked goods and coffee chain with total global system-wide sales of US $6 billion. Dunkin’ Donuts has more than 9,700 restaurants globally in 31 countries. Dunkin’ Donuts has rapidly expanded in 2010, opening 574 net new global locations, making it the fastest growing QSR in the world last year.

Mr. Nigel Travis, Dunkin’ Brands Chief Executive Officer and Dunkin' Donuts President, said, “Expansion to India is an integral part of Dunkin’ Donuts’ international growth plan. “As one of the world’s fastest growing economies and second most populous country, India presents a tremendous growth opportunity for Dunkin’ Donuts. We are especially delighted that we are entering the country with Jubilant FoodWorks Ltd., a world-class food service company. With a deep understanding of the Indian consumer, solid operational expertise and best-in-class marketing, Jubilant FoodWorks will play a key role in delivering on our goal to bring Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, baked goods and snacks to more people around the globe. We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial alliance.”

Gaddafi adamant - Libyan Minister quits

Libyan Interior Minister Abdel Fatah Yunes and a top aide of Moammar Gaddafi's powerful son Saif resigned Wednesday, the latest to disown the regime of the defiant leader who vowed to crush unprecedented protests against his 41-year rule despite global demands for an end to violence."I announce my resignation from all my duties in response to the revolution of February 17 (against Gaddafi)," Yunes, attired in a military uniform, said on the pan-Arabic satellite channel Al-Jazeera.

Gen Yunes, who followed in the steps of Justice Minister Mustapha Abdeljalil, called on the armed forces to join the revolt and respond to the legitimate demands of the people.Reports said that Youssef Sawani, a senior aide to Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, one of Gaddafi's influential sons, also resigned from his post in protest against the violence.The resignations came a day after Abdeljalil quit in protest over the "excessive use of violence" against protesters, and diplomats at Libya's mission to the United Nations called on the army to help remove "the tyrant Muammar Gaddafi".Libyan diplomats in several countries have either resigned in protest over the use of force, including the alleged firing by warplanes on civilian targets, or renounced Gaddafi's leadership, saying they stood with the protesters.The Libyan Interior Ministry gave the first official death toll since the uprising began a week ago, saying 300 people had died so far -- 189 civilians and 111 soldiers.

As countries across the world started evacuating their nationals trapped in Libya, India and 14 other members of the powerful UN Security Council strongly condemned the use of force against the peaceful protesters and demanded an immediate end to violence in the country.The Security Council "condemned the violence and use of force against civilians, deplored the repression against peaceful demonstrators and expressed deep regret at the deaths of hundreds of civilians", following a closed-door meeting of the powerful body last night.

A defiant Gaddafi refused to bow down to the massive uprising and vowed to "die a martyr" while exhorting his supporters to crush the anti-regime protests and take back the streets of Libya.As outrage grew over the bloody suppression of anti-government protests in his country, he cursed the elements he claimed were trying to stir unrest in the Arab world, and raised the spectre of civil war by calling on his supporters to take to the streets."Damn those who try to stir unrest in Arab countries," said Gaddafi, who appeared on state television for the second time in 24 hours last night."Capture the rats," a fiery Gaddafi said of anti-regime demonstrators.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed outrage over the use of lethal force against peaceful protesters in Libya and asked the Gaddafi government to take steps to end the violence."There is no ambivalence; there is no doubt in anyone's mind that the violence must stop and that the government of Libya has a responsibility to respect the universal rights of all of its citizens and to support the exercise of those rights," Clinton told reporters.

William Hague, British Foreign Secretary, said that there are "many indications of the structure of the state collapsing in Libya"."The resignation of so many ambassadors and diplomats, reports of ministers changing sides within Libya itself, shows the system is in a very serious crisis," he said.

Several European Union countries, mainly Germany and Finland, sought sanctions against Gaddafi at their talks in Brussels."We are calling on the Libyan authorities to stop the violence against their own people," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters. "If the violence does not stop. we will consider sanctions. Moammar Gaddafi's speech was very scary as he has declared war on his own people."

Peru became the first nation to suspend diplomatic ties with Libya."Peru is suspending all diplomatic relations with Libya until the violence against the people ceases," its President Alan Garcia said.Two planes carrying French nationals from Libya arrived in Paris Wednesday with some 500 passengers aboard. A Russian plane also brought back 118 people to Moscow from Libya.The US State Department said it had chartered a ferry to evacuate American citizens from Libya, asking them to reach the designated port in Tripoli as soon as possible.The 22-member Arab League, meanwhile, barred Libya from attending its meetings until it responds to the demands of anti-regime protesters and guarantees the "security and stability of its people".

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New Zealand earthquake

Quake, which struck at 12:51 pm 2351 GMT Monday,will have caused more damage than a 7.1-magnitude earthquake on 4th September because of its shallow depth, the institute said.The New Zealand Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences said the epicentre was near Christchurch, at a depth of 5 kilometres.Witnesses said the ground lifted up to 1 metre in places:

Prime Minister John Key said at least 65 people were dead with many more people yet to be rescued. Hundreds more have suffered a wide range of injuries.“We could be facing New Zealand’s darkest hour,” Key said after arriving in the devastated area following an emergency meeting of cabinet ministers.Rescue teams were dealing with widespread destruction, including two buses crushed by falling debris.There were other reports of bodies being pulled out of buildings and crushed cars.Police said emergency services were battling a number of fires and power was out in many areas.

Tuesday’s quake brought down power lines, ruptured pipes and forced the closure and evacuation of many buildings including the airport and university, and disrupted phone communications.

Monday, February 21, 2011

G20 ministers reach compromise on economic flaws

G20 finance ministers find a compromise deal to correct global economic imbalances and expressed concern over excessive commodity price volatility impacting the world food security, an issue pressed by India.

After two days of hard bargain by their finance ministers, major economies faced with uneven recovery and downside risks reached a text on Saturday in the face of tough resistance from China to agree on guidelines for removal of structural flaws in the global economy.

"It has not been simple. There were obviously divergent interests but we were able to reach a compromise on a text," French economy Minister Christine Lagarde said.

The finance Ministers and central bank chiefs, who could not reach a broad consensus on framing rules for current account deficit and real exchange rate and reserves, said "our aim is to agree, by our next meeting in April," on a set of indicative guidelines to ensure orderly economic growth.However, the document did not talk about an issue of much interest to India.

New Delhi wanted that G20 should urge all jurisdictions to conclude Tax Information Exchange Agreements so that menace of black money in tax havens can be tackled.
This issue seems to have been put on back seat as a lot of time was spent on reaching an agreement with China, which was opposed to inclusion of foreign exchange reserves and its exchange rate among the guidelines.China is sitting on a USD 2.8 trillion forex reserves and is accused by the US of manipulating its currency yuan.

Faced with a double digit food inflation, India also pressed for a coordinated approach to tackle food, commodity and oil price volatility, which make emerging economies "vulnerable".The issue was raised by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee who said that "India did not contribute to the build-up or persistence of global imbalances" but "found no room for comfort in tackling food inflation" in the backdrop of high international prices.Commodity prices increased 20 to 30 per cent in 2010, according to the IMF estimates.

The communique issued said "We discussed concerns about consequences of potential excessive commodity price volatility. we reiterated the need for long term investment in the agriculture sector in the developing countries."
The Ministers agreed on a plan to strengthen the international monetary system (IMS) with regard to disruptive capital flows and disorderly movement in exchange rates, a matter of great concern to India."Today we agreed on strengthening the functioning of IMS,mindful of possible drawbacks and management of global liquidity to strengthen our capacity to prevent and deal with shocks," the communique said.

The document also expressed its worries on the impact of rising oil prices which have exceeded USD 100 per barrel.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pak-US ties in limbo

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Friday that Pakistan risks major instability at home and a hampered war effort in next-door Afghanistan if it doesn't implement reforms and stop fomenting anti-American sentiment.Further Clinton said Pakistani cooperation is critical to the success of the fight against Taliban and al-Qaida extremists in neighboring Afghanistan.Clinton was unusually blunt in her criticism of anti-American rhetoric and sentiment.

She has cautioned against letting problems escalate into crises. The case has become a focal point for rampant suspicion about U.S. motives and activities in Pakistan, and U.S. insistence on a quick resolution has seemed to only harden Pakistani resolve not to bend."Distrust lingers on both sides," Clinton said. "We need to work together carefully to prevent misunderstandings and disagreements from derailing the progress we have made in the past two years." Geo reports relations with Pakistan have plummeted to their lowest point in recent years since the arrest of an American embassy employee in Lahore. The employee, Raymond Allen Davis, shot and killed two Pakistani men he says were trying to rob him on Jan. 27.The U.S. insists that Davis was acting in self-defense and qualifies for diplomatic immunity because he worked for the embassy. U.S. officials are demanding Davis be released immediately.

Pakistani authorities have refused thus far to release Davis and have questioned his immunity status.Clinton said Pakistan's public finances are in disarray and that energy shortages are hampering economic growth and causing political instability there."Shocking, unjustified anti-Americanism will not resolve these problems," she said.Pakistan has a responsibility to ensure that the Afghan Taliban cannot continue to conduct the insurgency from Pakistan's territory, Clinton said."Pressure from the Pakistani side will help push the Taliban toward the negotiating table and away from al-Qaida," she said.

Clinton issued a warning to the Taliban and other extremists in Afghanistan that they must choose between war and peace as the U.S. increases military pressure on them.Clinton said reconciliation is the only way to ensure Afghanistan's lasting stability and challenge extremists to abandon al-Qaida and to align themselves with the government for the good of the country and their own safety."They cannot wait us out," Clinton said. "They cannot defeat us. And they cannot escape this choice."

U.S. has increased military pressure on extremists and says it has the Taliban on the run in key areas of the country. Heavy fighting is expected this spring, along with a continued heavy reliance on unmanned drone attacks and secret ground raids targeting militant leaders along the Pakistan border."The escalating pressure of our military campaign is sharpening a similar decision for the Taliban: break ties with al-Qaida, give up your arms, and abide by the Afghan Constitution and you can rejoin Afghan society," Clinton said. "Refuse and you will continue to face the consequences of being tied to al-Qaida as an enemy of the international community."
United States plans to begin withdrawing troops from the country this summer, and President Barack Obama has promised that the U.S. combat role will end in 2014.

The administration will begin assessing conditions for possible troop drawdowns next month as it determines where Afghan security forces can take the lead. The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, said last week that intelligence reports indicate Taliban leaders are worried and that there is "friction and discord" between the guerrillas in the field and their leadership in Pakistan.Last year's troop surge, led by the United States, boosted the international fighting force in Afghanistan to about 150,000 troops. NATO and Afghan President Hamid Karzai hope to have more than 300,000 Afghan army and police in action by next autumn facing a much smaller organized insurgent force.Last year was the deadliest of the nearly decade-long war for international troops, with more than 700 killed. This compares to about 500 in 2009, previously the worst year of the war. Record numbers of insurgents and civilians also have been killed.

Clinton also formally announced the appointment of retired veteran diplomat Marc Grossman to succeed the late Richard Holbrooke as the administration's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. The post had been occupied by Holbrooke's former deputy on a temporary basis since Holbrooke's sudden death in December.The Davis case underscored the need for the administration to have a permanent point man to coordinate the complex relationships between Washington, Kabul and Islamabad.Despite an urgent administration-arranged visit to Pakistan by Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry, the situation remains unresolved with the Pakistani government in a tight spot.If it releases Davis, it risks angering violent elements in its population — including the Taliban, who have threatened to attack any official involved in letting Davis go. The ruling party also risks further alienating voters already unhappy with its performance.In Lahore on Friday, some 200 protesters associated with Jamaat-u-Dawa, a charity alleged to be a front for the banned militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, demanded Davis be hanged.
Media agencies

Four die in Pearl Square Manama city Bahraini

Bahraini security forces fired on protesters, wounding at least 230 people were wounded on Friday near Pearl Square in the Bahraini capital, Manama, a day after police swept away a protest camp from the traffic circle in the city, killing four people and wounding more than 230.Bahrain, Ali Ibrahim, deputy chief of medical staff at Salmaniya hospital, said 66 people had been admitted suffering wounds from the clash in Pearl Square. Four were in critical condition.

"We think it was the army," former lawmaker Sayed Hadi said of the shootings. He is a member of Wefaq, the main bloc, which resigned from parliament on Thursday.Protester Fakhri Abdullah Rashed said he had seen soldiers shooting at demonstrators in Pearl Square. "I saw people shot in several parts of their body. It was live bullets," he added.About 1,000 emotional people gathered outside a hospital, some spilling into the corridors as casualties were brought in, including one with a bloody sheet over his head.

King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa announced he had asked the crown prince to start a national dialogue "with all parties" to resolve the crisis rocking the island kingdom.Bahrain's most revered cleric, Sheikh Issa Qassem, described the police attack as a "massacre" and said the government had shut the door to dialogue. But he stopped short of calling openly for street protests.It was the worst bloodshed in the Gulf island kingdom in decades and underlined the jitters of its royal family, long aware of simmering discontent among the majority.The army in Bahrain, a country of 1.3 million people of whom 600,000 are native Bahrainis, had issued a warning to people to stay away from the center of the capital.Bahrain hosts the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, which projects U.S. military muscle across the Middle East and Central Asia.
Media agencies

Friday, February 18, 2011

CCS scrap Antrix-Devas deal on S-Band spectrum

Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, decided to annul the contract Antrix, the commercial arm of ISRO, had entered into with Devas Multimedia under which it was to lease out 90 percent transponders on two of ISRO's satellites GSAT-6 and GSAT-6A."The Agreement for the lease of space segment capacity on ISRO/Antrix S-Band spacecraft by Devas Multimedia Pvt. Ltd. entered into between Antrix Corporation and Devas Multimedia Pvt. Ltd. on 28th January, 2005 shall be annulled forthwith," announced Law Minister Veerappa Moily after the meeting in New Delhi on Thursday.He said when the question of strategic requirement arises, the government cannot give S-band spectrum even to Antrix for commercial use."We have thoroughly examined this matter and ultimately we have come to the conclusion that under provisions of the agreement and the law governing that, it can be annulled," he said when asked whether the impact of the decision was discussed by the CCS.

Under the agreement signed in January 2005, Devas was to lease transponder capacity from the two satellites at a cost of USD 300 million (approximately Rs 1350 crore) spread over 12 years.Devas Multimedia had on Wednesday threatened to move court if the government took any unilateral decision to terminate the deal."Even if they go to court, they are not likely to succeed," Moily said when asked whether the government was ready to face the legal challenges put up by Devas.

After news reports about the possible revenue loss appeared, the Government and ISRO said the project was already under review and action has been initiated for termination of the contract.The Prime Minister on Wednesday had said the deal had never been operationalised and rejected suggestions that his office had held "backroom" talks with Devas after the Space Commission's recommendation to scrap the deal.He had said that if there has been delay in scrapping the deal, this has been "only procedural".

A brief official statement said there has been an increased demand for allocation of spectrum for national needs, including for the needs of defence, para-military forces, railways and other public utility services as well as for societal needs.

"Having regard to the needs of the country's strategic requirements, the Government will not be able to provide orbit slot in S band to Antrix for commercial activities, including for those which are the subject matter of existing contractual obligations for S band," Moily said reading out from the statement.He said resorting to the force majeure clause of the agreement was one of the options before the government to cancel the deal.

The Law Ministry, in its opinion given on 18th June 2008, had made it clear that in event of termination Antrix shall be required to reimburse Devas all the upfront capacity reservation fees and corresponding service taxes received till that date.

The Agreement provided for an up-front capacity reservation fee of USD 20 million per satellite and annual lease charges starting at USD 9 million per satellite.
There are also penalty charges to be paid by Antrix in case of late delivery of satellite or performance failures/service interruptions.

Devas has so far made a payment of Rs 58.37 crore as upfront capacity reservation fee for the two satellites.The launch of GSAT 6 has already been delayed by at least two years and ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan had said that the satellite was yet to be integrated.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

African Session -Joyee Kinabo Tanzania:IFPRI Conference2011

Russians Interpreting Mahabharat-International Symposium IGNCA

Berlusconi to face trial in sex crime

The trial of Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi that will determine whether he is guilty of abuse of power and minor prostitution will start in Milan on April 6.The judge in the case, Cristina Di Censo today granted the request for a fast-track trial filed by prosecutors last Wednesday as she determined evidence of proof existed that the alleged crimes were committed.She also determined the Milan court had the authority to try a prime minister. The 74-year-old Prime Minister has consistently denied any wrongdoing in the case.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Iran opposition to hold anti-government rally

Its turn of Iran opposition leaders say that their planned anti-government march on Monday will go ahead, as they see it as an expression of their solidarity with the Egyptian people.“There are no plans to cancel it,” Ardeshir Amir Arjomand, senior political adviser to the opposition leader Mir Hussein Moussavi, said in a statement published Sunday on opposition Web sites.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad welcomed the emergence of a “new Middle East”, but has pledged to quash planned opposition protests in his country and administration has detained tens of journalists, young student and members which close to the opposition leadership to fail the opposition endeavor of Monday anti-government march:

Mehdi Karroubi said “If they are not going to allow their own people to protest, it goes against everything they are saying, and all they are doing to welcome the protests in Egypt is fake,”

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps warned as its senior commander Hossein Hamadani said: “The conspirators are nothing but corpses.Any incitement will be dealt with severely.”

Anti-government protesters rally in Bangkok

Yellow shirt People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) in thousands are rallying against Dictatorship (UDD) on Sunday and the Red shirts protest against Thailand’s judicial system of the government in front of the criminal court in the country’s capital, yellow shirts at Makkhawan Rangsan Bridge on Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue Bangkok:Police avoided clashes between rival protesters by steering the red shirt march clear of the yellow shirt rally site. Traffic police blocked the red shirts from entering roads leading to the protest sites of the PAD.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Egyptian Army assures smooth transition to civilian rule

Egyptian Army announced smooth transition to civilian rule in Egypt, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has pledged to enact a smooth transition to civilian rule, amid celebrations marking the end of 30 years without Hosni Mubarak as President. A senior army officer announced on state television last evening that the military will guarantee the peaceful transition of power in the framework of a free, democratic system which allows an elected, civilian power to govern the country to build a democratic, free state. The council also pledged to honour its international treaties.

In a related development, Egyptian state television reported that prosecutors have begun an investigation into three former ministers from Mubarak's government. Travel bans have been imposed on former Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif and former interior minister Habib al-Adli, who were both sacked by Mubarak before he stepped down from the presidency. A travel ban was also imposed on the information minister Anas el-Fekky, who was reappointed in the new cabinet.

US President Obama has hailed the promise by Egypt's new military leadership to work towards civilian rule and said it would strengthen stability in West Asia. Washington's top military officer Admiral Mike Mullen is now traveling to the region for talks with the US allies.

ASEAN to discuss Thai-Cambodia border clash

As tension continues to simmer on the Thailand and Cambodia border over a 11th century Hindu Shiva temple, a concerned Asean grouping has asked all its foreign ministers to meet for an urgent conclave to discuss the Preah Vihar shrine dispute.

The invitations to the foreign ministers have been sent by Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, the current Asean chair and the meeting is set to be held on 22nd February.While Cambodia has sought an urgent Security Council meeting calling for a UN buffer force to be put in place, Thailand has said the dispute should be resolved bilaterally.Meanwhile, Thailand has said that more than 20,000 soldiers will be deployed on the Thai-Cambodian border as part of a national defence plan and an incident action plan approved by the army commander, 'Bangkok Post' quoted army sources as saying Saturday.The plan is to remain in effect till 30th March .
The main entrance of the Shiva temple known as Preah Vihar is officially on the Cambodian side but most of the other parts of the temple spill over to the Thai side.
Officially the foreign ministers have been invited to discuss "regional and international issues," but the purpose of the meeting is clear, senior Asean officials told the Bangkok Post.

The Indonesian foreign minister has met both Cambodian and Thai foreign ministers so far.He has said that Asean's role is one that supports bilateral efforts to resolve the conflict.Recent reports after the border clash a couple of weeks back had said that parts of the temple had been damaged in the recent skirmishes between the two neighbours after Cambodian troops used the shrine as a military base to fire on the Thai soldiers.Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has sent a letter to the UN Security Council saying Thailand's action during the clashes last week with Cambodia was appropriate and is in line with international principles.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged both the countries to come up with mechanisms to solve their disputes and end armed confrontation as soon as possible.
US has also called for Thailand and Cambodia to exercise restraint.The construction of the first temple at the site began in the early 9th century and continued in the following centuries dedicated to Shiva in his manifestations as the mountain gods Sikharesvara and Bhadresvara.

The earliest surviving parts of the temple dates from early 10th century, when the empire's capital was at the city of that name.In the wake of the decline of Hinduism in the region the site was converted to use by Buddhists.

In 1954, Thai forces occupied the temple following the withdrawal of French troops from Cambodia.Cambodia protested and turned to the International Court of Justice which later ruled in 1962 that the shrine belonged to Cambodia.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Russia,Japan standoff in territorial dispute

Russia and Japan today failed to calm a flaring territorial dispute in a bruising meeting of their top diplomats, with Moscow bluntly accusing Tokyo of unacceptable behaviour in the standoff.

The talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Japanese counterpart Seiji Maehara were marked by an icy atmosphere and indications of an increasingly tense stalemate over the Pacific Kuril islands dispute. Earlier, during their over two-hour meeting,

Lavrov described Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara's current visit to Moscow as timely but he had hoped the visit could take place in a more favorable political environment. Russia and Japan have long been at odds over the sovereignty of the four Pacific islands, which are called the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia.

Mubarak has stepped down

Mubarak has stepped down President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak has finally descended fro power with the vice president Omar Suleiman has named a military council to run the country's affairs, state television said on Friday after 18 days of mass protests against his rule.
Hosni Mubarak, who ruled Egypt with an iron hand for over three decades, stepped down as President on Friday and handed over power to the army capitulating under mass protests sweeping the country's streets for the last 18 days.

President Hosni Mubarak resigned and handed over power to the military, announced the recently appointed vice president Omar Sulaiman on state television.Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the anti-government protests, erupted in joy with tens of thousands of people shouting 'Egypt is Free".The end of a despotic regime in most populous Arab nation came one week after the protesters set a deadline of 'Departure Friday' for 82-year- old Mubarak to step down as President.

Earlier in the day, the Army appeared to throw its weight behind Mubarak's transition plan, assuring the protesters that it will guarantee a free and fair election in September, and asking them to go home and get to work.
A ruling party official adds Mubarak and his family had left Cairo for the glitzy Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh where there is a presidential villa further added that Mubarak had handed powers to deputy Omar Suleiman.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Mubarak refuses to quit

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Thursday he had delegated power to his deputy and proposed constitutional changes but stopped short of resigning, infuriating protesters who had urged him to go.His televised speech was met with angry chants of "Down, Down with Mubarak" among the more than 200,000 people who packed Cairo's Tahrir Square on the 17th day of massive nationwide protests demanding the strongman's overthrow.Many of the protesters called for an immediate general strike and angrily addressed the army, which had deployed large numbers of troops and tanks around the protest: "Egyptian army, the choice is now, the regime or the people!"
Hopes had run high that Mubarak would step down immediately after the military leadership had announced hours earlier that it would step in to ensure the country's security and see that the people's "legitimate" demands were met.But by the end of his speech the 82-year-old remained president.Delegating his powers to his vice president and former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, he said he would remain leader through a transition process until September and would one day die in Egypt."I have decided to delegate power to the vice president based on the constitution," a frail Mubarak said in a scratchy voice."I am conscious of the dangers of this crossroad. and this forces us to prioritise the higher interests of the nation."

He went on to take an apparent swipe at the United States and other countries that have pushed him to accelerate a transition to democracy, saying: "I have never bent to foreign diktats."I have always preserved peace and worked for Egypt and its stability."The speech failed to appease protesters, who for the last two weeks have called for the end of Mubarak's regime in massive demonstrations that have rocked the most populous Arab country.

Speaking also on television soon after Mubarak, Vice President Omar Suleiman urged protesters to go home or back to work.But as they began peacefully filing out of Tahrir Square, the chants grew darker. "To the palace we are heading, martyrs by the millions!" they shouted.Earlier, the square had been bathed in a carnival atmosphere, as many tens of thousands of Egyptians gathered to celebrate what they hoped would be Mubarak's final speech of a three-decade-long autocratic reign.

When they realised he was refusing to step down, the mood changed and deep-seated anger rose to the surface.The crowd chanted "Neither Mubarak nor Suleiman!" as one elderly woman in the crowd moaned: "The old man just won't give up power."

Thousands of the protesters have been occupying the square since January 28, demanding democratic reform and an end to the Mubarak regime. They have set up a sprawling tented encampment, surrounding by a cordon of troops and tanks.US President Barack Obama said the world was watching "history unfold" and said America would do all it could to ensure a genuine transition to democracy.

Obama, speaking in the northern state of Michigan, directly addressed the young people of Egypt who have swelled the massive crowds in Cairo."What is absolutely clear is that we are witnessing history unfold. It is a moment of transformation that is taking place because the people of Egypt are calling for change," he said.

PM appoints committee to deal on S-band spectrum

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday appointed a high power committee to review various aspects and fix responsibility for lapses in the controversial deal between Antrix Corporation, ISRO's commercial arm, and a private company for lease of scarce S-band spectrum.Singh called in ISRO Chairman and Secretary, Department of Space K Radhakrishnan to brief the Cabinet on the agreement Antrix had signed with Devas Multimedia, a private company floated by former ISRO officials.

Radhakrishnan circulated a two-page note among the ministers on the agreement with Devas which the Space Commission had, in July last year, recommended be annulled.
The Prime Minister also informed the Cabinet that he had set up a two-member Committee of B K Chaturvedi and Roddam Narsimha to review various aspects of the controversial agreement which media reports claimed could cause a loss of Rs two lakh crore to the national exchequer.

A few ministers wanted to know the need for the deal with Devas and the purpose it would serve. At this point it was decided to wait till the High Power Committee submits its report.At the Cabinet briefing when asked about the Antrix deal, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said the issue was discussed after the meeting and a two-member committee has been asked to submit a report within a month.

When pointed out that Chaturvedi was Cabinet Secretary when the deal was signed, Soni said she was not in a position to comment but added that "he would know how and why it happened. An individual can assess the situation rising above a particular post, unless you are a beneficiary."

The Committee has been asked to review the technical, commercial, procedural and financial aspects of the agreement.The Committee would review the adequacy of procedures and approval processes followed by Antrix, ISRO and Department of Space, and suggest improvements and changes.

Media reports had stated that the Department of Space had allocated 70 MHz of S-Band spectrum to Devas Multimedia for Rs 1,000 crore. The actual value of this was estimated to be around Rs 2 lakh crore, the reports claimed.The Prime Minister's Office had denied reports, saying no decision has been taken and hence charges of revenue loss were without any basis.

ISRO chief K Radhakrishnan, at a press conference on Tuesday, had admitted that details about contract that gave Devas rights to 90 per cent usage of transponders on two satellites, were not shared with the Space Commission or the Union Cabinet.
ISRO issued an official note on the entire matter to clarify that the Government had taken no decision to allocate space segment using S-band spectrum to Antrix or Devas.
The note also included opinion of the Law Ministry that the deal with Devas be annulled.The Law Ministry opinion also made it clear that ISRO was not duty bound to provide orbit slot to Antrix for commercial activities, especially when there were strategic requirements to be met.

However, it said as per the agreement, Antrix will have to reimburse Devas all the upfront capacity reservation fees and corresponding service taxes it had received till the date of annulment.Devas has so far made a payment of Rs 58.37 crore as upfront reservation fee for two satellites -- GSAT 6 and GSAT 6A.As per the note, the Space Commission has recommended a review and restructuring of the working of Antrix in the wake of the controversial deal.Mewanwhile, Demanding immediate cancellation of Antrix-Devas deal for scarce S-band spectrum, BJP asked how a high-powered panel headed by former Cabinet Secretary B K Chaturvedi could probe the issue when he himself was among those who had approved it in 2005."The deal should be cancelled immediately. Various government departments had raised questions on the agreement. It had been seven months now that government was aware of the issue," BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters.In reply to a question, she said her party is not being unreasonable in demanding an immediate cancellation of the deal as the matter was before the government for the past seven months.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Egypt panel 'to study constitutional reform'

Opposition met Vice-President Omar Suleiman calling on President Mubarak to resign to review the constitution thus Egypt govt,and opposition on peaceful transition but opposition wary after talks:Thousands of peoples joined demonstrations in Cairo and other cities, calling for democratic reforms.President Mubarak refused to resign immediately,on plea to do so would cause chaos instead that he will not stand for re-election in September.

Protest in Serbian thousand throng Belgrade

Serbian capital Belgrade loomed with thousands of protesters gathered for the rally in front of the Serbian parliament in central Belgrade,demand snap Polls:
Ten party coalition, integrated during EU integration,is in power since 2008, led by Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic and President Boris Tadic.

Mr Nikolic formerly the head of the ultra-nationalist Radical Party has now founded the Serbian Progressive Party just three years ago now his popularity surged and poses a serious threat to the government, BBC correspondent says. Further BBC reports “I know you are dissatisfied, filled with resentment. We are many here today, so many that no one can stop us,” populist Tomislav Nikolic, the leader of the nationalist Serbian Progress Party told the crowd.

“I am not asking (the ruling party) to step down, elections will take care of things. ... Give us two months to let them call early elections,” he asked his supporters to chants of “We want elections!”

If new elections are not called by April “you will find me here again on the streets and you can join me” for new protests, Nikolic vowed.

Kef protest: Accuse of abuse of power in Tunisia

A unity government has been sworn in and Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi has promised elections within six months Tunisian:-Tunisian police opened fire after a crowd attacked burned a police station, demanding the resignation of the police chief they accused of abuse of power on today protest in town Kef reports say another two people died on the way to hospital the situation deteriorated after the police chief, Khaled Ghazouani,slapped a woman in the crowd.small-scale protests demanding the removal of anyone linked to the former regime have continued.

Protesters reportedly threw stones and petrol bombs at the building. Two members of the security forces were arrested in Sidi Bouzid, in connection with the death of two detainees earlier in the week.The town was the origin of the weeks of unrest which ousted Mr Ben Ali in mid-January.
Media agencies

Fan Jingling China:Kumarajiva Lotus Sutras Buddhism

Friday, February 4, 2011

Yemen protests in Sanaa oust President Saleh

Anti-government protesters for a change in government and rejected Mr Saleh's offer to step down in 2013 after more than 30 years in power in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, for a "day of rage" against President Ali Abdullah Saleh.Who has in parliament session on Wednesday, Mr Saleh, envisaged his plans to pull out of power,assuring he would not seek to extend his presidency after his term expires in 2013 and vowing not pass on power baton to his son.

President Saleh, ascended leader of North Yemen in 1978, and has ruled the Republic of Yemen since the north and south merged in 1990. He was last re-elected in 2006.Demonstrators assembled in different parts of Sanaa "The people want regime change," anti-government protesters shouted as they gathered outside Sanaa University. "No to corruption, no to dictatorship."

Yemen plagued with range of security issues, thus becoming a leading al-Qaeda haven, with the high numbers of Unemployment youths in Yemen runs at 40%there are rising food prices and acute levels of malnutrition.Opposition leaders who complain of mounting poverty frustration with a lack of political freedoms on young population .

Ms Tora Aasland Norweign Minister of Research Higher Education

Competitiveness, climate, security Finn’s priorities Ministry of Finance release Finnish road map of EU presidency. Finland i...