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Showing posts from December, 2007

Benazir Bhutto Assassinated

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27 Dec' 07: Pakistan's charismatic Opposition leader and two time former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who escaped death by a whisker during a terrorist attack on her home coming parade in Karachi just over two months ago, was assassinated on Thursday evening in an attack by a suicide bomber and AK 47 armed gunmen who shot her in the neck and chest as she was leaving an election rally in the cantonment town of Rawalpindi, near here.

Ms Bhutto, 54, was killed just after she had finished addressing a large public rally at the historic Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi as part of her barnstorming campaign across the country for the January 8 general election.

She succumbed to her wounds on the operation table at the Rawalpindi General Hospital at 6.16 pm local time (6.46 pm IST).

Ms Bhutto, who is survived by her husband Asif Ali Zardari and three children Bilawal, Bakhtawar and Asifa, will be buried at Larkana, the family's ancestral home in Sindh province, close to the grave of her …

Blogger Malik among world's top 25 web celebs

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New York: Blogging might be a leisure activity for many famous personalities but it has brought fame to people like India-born Om Malik who has been named as one of the global web celebrities by American magazine Forbes.Ranked at the 12th position for technology blogging on the list of “Web Celeb 25", he shares the limelight not just with fellow bloggers but also with video hosts and gadget gurus.

A chemistry graduate from St. Stephen's College in New Delhi, Malik is the brain behind the website http://gigaom.com/ and has also served as a technology journalist for various publications."Om Malik has a long history as a tech journalist, writing for outlets including Business 2.0, Red Herring and The Wall Street Journal (he was also one of the founding staffers of Forbes.com ).

But true web celebrity status didn't come for the Indian-born writer until 2001, when he started his own technology blog, GigaOm," Forbes noted.On the other hand, twenty nine-year-old Perez Hi…

Top notch GPS models

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Today, GPS is a beautiful thing. A receiver in your car can learn its own location from 24 government owned satellites overhead your tax money at work. You're guided to a destination with colorful moving maps on a touch screen and an authoritative voice. But good GPS models must fulfill three requirements. First, each must be tiny, self contained and battery operated, so you can take it hiking or biking. Second, each must display live traffic and accident data - and offer to reroute you as necessary. And finally, each must pronounce actual street names not just "Turn right," but "Turn right on South Maple Street." That feature makes an enormous difference when you're flying blind in a new town. Here are a few top notch GPS models:

Magellan Maestro 4250 ($450): Like any gadget in a car, GPS receivers are a distraction, and therefore a safety risk. So it's amazing that speech recognition didn't arrive in these units sooner. On the Magellan, it'…

Police employ thieves to catch thieves

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In a novel experiment, the Kanpur police has decided to set out a thief to catch a thief."Who knows a criminal better than someone who has been a criminal himself? A former criminal knows the tricks of the trade like the back of his hand and if we take him into confidence, he can help us catch other criminals," said SSP Kanpur, Anand Swaroop.

The Kanpur SSP plans to use former criminals who are now inactive due to age and ill-health in this new project that is called "history-sheeter friend".The SSP has asked all police station heads in Kanpur to furnish a list of old criminals and history sheeters who have been inactive for quite some time now."Once identified, I will take them into confidence and ask them to share their knowledge with the local police so that crime can be checked," he said.

According to police estimates, there are about 5,000 such "inactive" criminals in Kanpur alone and many of them still maintain a contact with their underworl…

TEAM INDIA BAGS ITS FIRST EVER A1 GRAND PRIX VICTORY

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Narain Karthikeyan led Team India to the country's first ever victory in the Al Grand Prix by winning the feature race in Zhuhai, China, on Sunday.

Karthikeyan staved off a tough challenge from Team New Zealand and cleared the finish line just about a second before his nearest rival.

Though the win gives India 19 points, the team with a total of 27 points is not among the top contenders. Karthikeyan has had several setbacks recently starting with losing his position as a test driver with the Williams Formula One (Fl) team and struggling at the A1 circuit with mechanical problems in the qualifying races.

"We weren't doing well in the qualifying. So we changed the qualifying set up for this race. I am glad it helped," Karthikeyan told . India started third in the feature race but New Zealand used two power boosts a special facility that allows drivers to gain an extra 30bhp speed for a few seconds in the last four or five laps. This reduced the gap to 6/10th of a second…

Top 10 Indian American newsmakers in US

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Silicon Valley (US): Renowned astronaut Sunita Williams, newly elected Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and controversial fashion designer Anand Jon have been listed among the top 10 Indian American newsmakers in the United States this year.

Prominent Hindu chaplain Rajan Zed and teen idol Sanjaya have also made it to the list released by India Currents, a monthly maga zine issued from California which annually names those Americans of Indian origin who make headlines during the calender year.

In its list for this year, the magazine has included policy makers, original thinkers, trend setters, record breakers and media sensations. Jindal, 36, hit the headlines for being appointed as the youngest Governor of the US.
Williams made it to the magazine's list as she set the record for the longest single space flight while Anand Jon was in news as he was charged with sexually assaulting a number of models who worked for him. Other Indian Americans in the list are Pulitzer …

Have $1 million? You ain't rich enough

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Millionaires are passé. A new report on wealth published by British banking group on Monday says ‘millionaire,' the old word for the wealthy, has lost its charm. You need 10 million US dollars now to be truly considered wealthy. In other words, you have to be a dollar crorepati, according to 35 per cent of 790 wealthy individuals surveyed by the bank to measure the bar on wealthiness. A self owned home does not count in the calculation to define the wealth status. "This is the perceived level at which people believe they are truly wealthy as it gives them influence within their community and a greater sense of control over their own destiny," Satya Bansal, head of Barclays Wealth in India, said. "This level of wealth elevates their status so they behave more like people with assets of $50 million, than people with $5 million," it said. An old world million dollars is not enough because it now costs more to enjoy some luxuries such as a butler, concierg…

Malaysia has changed, but not for the better

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Ramachandran, a Tamil, was hospitable and enthusiastic, keen to take me on a tour of Kuala Lumpur. I would have to see the Maha Mariamman temple and the Batu caves, as "without them a trip to Malaysia would be incomplete," he asserted. The Batu Caves temple, devoted principally to Lord Subramanian swamy, is a big tourist attraction for the entire South East Asia, with people of all religions and nationalities visiting it. Established in 1891, it's a signature spot of Hindu civilizational marks on the Malay Peninsula. Hindu influence, dating back to 2nd century AD, can be seen in Malay culture, language and traditions even today. The "Malay" of Malaysia, and "Pur" of Kuala Lumpur are unmistakably Sanskrit. I was introduced to a vivacious amount of Malaysian history while climbing the 272 steps leading to the Batu Caves. More Chinese Buddhists were praying there than Hindus. The atmosphere was so sublime and enchantingly serene that I felt I was in T…

A web portal for stories

Unicef, per Child One Laptop and Google have joined together to set up a portal of stories. This portal, www.ourstories.org, is meant to be a repository of traditional stories from various places. The portal is part of the attempt by the three agencies to preserve folktales and through them, different cultures. Under this project, children will write, narrate and upload folk stories which they have heard from grandmothers, friends and local people. People all over the world will be able to read these stories online and can also locate the places from which these stories come using Google Map. This will facilitate interaction between different cultures and make people aware of their common humanity.

India No 18 in global graft index

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Every fourth Indian has paid a bribe in the past year, an influential annual survey by a leading anti-corruption watchdog said in its report released in Berlin on Thursday. India emerged as the world's 18th most corrupt country on the basis of the percentage of its people paying bribes in Transparency Internationale's Global Corruption Barometer 2007. African, East European and Latin American countries are ahead of India in the corruption index. Cameroon is the most corrupt, with a whopping 79 per cent of its population having paid a bribe in the course of the past year. Pakistan is the world's sixth most corrupt: 44 per cent of its people having paid a bribe in the past 12 months. Worldwide, an average 25 per cent of people have been asked to pay a bribe to the police, and political parties and parliaments are the most tainted by corruption. The poor are targeted for bribes in both developed and developing countries. The study "has made it clear that too …

MicroSoft challenges iPod again

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Don't look now, but Microsoft might finally be getting the hang of hardware. The company's overall track record for designing gadgets is pretty awful. Remember the Smart Display? The Spot Watch? The Ultra Mobile PC? The original Zune? But Microsoft's new second generation Zune music/photo/video player is a pleasure to use. It fixes a long list of things that made the original Zune such a pathetic wannabe. Best of all, the new Zune is starting to develop its own identity. The echoes of Microsoft executives saying, "It'll be just like the iPod, only ours" aren't quite as loud on this one. The family includes three new models. First, there's an 80 gigabyte hard drive Zune ($250) whose size, design, shape and price are intended to compete with the 80gig iPod Classic. Then there are the flash memory based models, which resemble last year's iPod Nano: thin, tall slabs that hold 4 or 8 gigabytes of music, photos and videos (for $150 an…

Google distorts reality, says Austrian study

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GOOGLE, The world's largest Internet search engine, is on several fronts a danger that has to be stopped, a study released by Austria's Graz University claims.

A research team led by Prof. Hermann Maurer, chairman of Graz University's Institute for Information Systems and Computer Media, argues that Google is turning into a new version of George Orwell's "Big Brother" - creating unacceptable monopolies in many areas of the worldwide web.

According to his research, around 61 billion Internet searches are conducted each month. In the US, on average 57 percent of searches are conducted with Google, and up to 95 percent of Internet users use Google at least sometimes.

It is dangerous enough that single entity such as Google is dominant as a search engine, Maurer and his co writers say, but the fact that Google is operating many other services and is probably colluding with still further players was "unacceptable".

"Google is massively invading privacy,…

Future cars to send mails, gives health reports

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Pesky break downs in the middle of a busy street due to engine trouble would become a thing of past as future technologies would enable a car flash health report well in advance indicating all was not well with it. "Your car could send an e-mail telling you that it's time to drop in for a health checkup at your nearest service centre," said Dr Alan Taub, executive director, General Motors Research and Development in Warren Michigan, while tracing the future technology in the automotive industry. "It could warn you well in advance that it was having an engine problem or that the brake pads were getting worn out or that the battery has not been charged enough", he said. The component of electrification and electronification of value added software in vehicles, especially in the high end segment will go up to 40 per cent by 2015, said Mr Allan. The vehicle would have sophisticated software that could be serviced by just downloading a patch of software. GM, whi…

UK unveils new immigration rules

BRITAIN on Wednesday announced a new points based immigration system that will help highly skilled professionals like scientists, doctors and entrepreneurs from India and other non European Union countries to settle in the UK.
Applicants under the new system will need to gain a sufficient number of points. And scoring is based on a balance between the skills of applicants and skills needed in the UK, as determined by government research and statistics, Britain's Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said.

The new system is designed to replace more than 80 different routes of entry into the country with a fivetier structure.

Tier one will become effective from the beginning of 2008 and will be for highly skilled migrants including scientists, doctors and entrepreneurs. Those entering the UK under this tier will not need a job offer.

Tier two will comprise nurses, teachers and engineers who have job offers in shortage areas and tier three will cover low skilled workers. Migrants in this categ…

Rupee is flexing its muscles against Dollor

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If you've been the long drawn fisticuff between the dollar and the rupee you know this already It is six pack season and the rupee is flexing its muscles like SRK in OSO.

In the recently concluded Indian Economic Summit, Gerard Lyons, chief economist & group head (global research), Standard Chartered Bank said, "The rupee we maintain its unrelenting march and possibly climb to Rs 30 to a dollar in the next five years."

But not everyone is swooning. And this bit of news has not come easy to the foreign tourists who prefer paying in dollars.
A couple from Texas, Beth and Tim Warner went to Agra to see the Taj Mahal and were surprised when they were asked to pay in rupees, as they knew they can pay in dollars. Until now, foreign tourists to sites like the Taj Mahal have had the option of paying in dollars or rupees.

They had to pay Rs 250 per head to enter the mausoleum. "The ruling is aimed at safeguarding tourism revenues, following the recent fall in the dollar,&quo…

Do it for yourself

I walked with a friend to the newsstand the other day The friend bought a paper and thanked the shopkeeper in refined words. The owner, however, did not even acknowledge it. "An unsociable person, isn't he?" I commented as we walked away.

"Oh, he's that way every day," shrugged my friend. "Then why do you continue being so polite to him?" I asked. My friend replied, "Why should I let him determine how I'm going to act?"

Politeness is generally not only accepted but also appreciated in all spheres of life. Living in society, we need to possess certain qualities, amongst them being politeness, that enables us to live among people and to interact with them successfully.

We have to choose our words and thoughts carefully; no matter whether we are having a bad day or we are just tired of the way a person is behaving. It truly requires a lot of restraint and self control to avoid reacting to provocative behavior;

When a person behaves badly, w…

Did You Know - Islands big and small?

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One out of every ten people lives on an island. Of the six billion plus people that inhabit our world, 200 million live in Indonesia alone and some 60 million live in Britain. Indonesia consists of 13,667 islands of which only 6,000 are inhabited. Britain is the only island that is connected to a continent (Europe) via the Chunnel (the underground rail to France). Of all the islands in the world, the largest is Greenland. You could perhaps think of Australia as an island - it fits the description but it is considered a continent because of its unique plant and animal life. Antarctica is also a continent. But there are many islands you probably never heard of. The smallest island in the world, according to the Guinness Book of Records, is Bishop Rock. Lying in the most south westerly part of the UK, it is one of the 1,040 islands around Britain and only has a lighthouse on it. The remotest uninhabited island is Bouvet Island in the South Atlantic and the remotest inhabited island …

Study says curiosity leads youth to smoke

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Youngsters don't start smoking because they think it's cool. They take their first drag out of sheer curiosity, reveals a new study conducted by the Roy Castle Foundation. 82 per cent of smokers pick up the habit before the age of 18, according to the Liverpool Longitudinal Smoking Study. Some youngsters start puffing away as an act of rebellion; others take to it to attract friends and a few do it just to kill time. Young smokers in the city back up these findings. "I started smoking when I was 17," says Karen Thomas, a software professional at IBM. "There was no particular reason why I started. I was just curious. Then it became a habit to the extent that I was smoking 20 cigarettes a day," says Karen, who is now down to less than 10 a day. Kshitij Jain, a student at Wesley Degree College, stole his first fag from his dad, who is a smoker. "I tried it when I was 11, but it wasn't a regular occurrence until I turned 19," he says. "…

Muttiah Muralitharan Past Shane Warne Record

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3 Dec'07: Sri lankan bowler Muttiah Muralitharan got the inevitable 709th wicket before his home crowd in Kandy, becoming the world's highest wicket taker in Tests surpassing Shane Warne's record. He finished the day with 6/55, his 61st five for.

Global cell phone use at 50 percent

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HELSINKI (Reuters) - Worldwide mobile telephone subscriptions reached 3.3 billion equivalent to half the global population on Thursday, 26 years after the first cellular network was launched, research firm Informa said.

Since the first Nordic Mobile Telephony (NMT) networks were switched on in 1981 in Saudi Arabia, Sweden and Norway, mobile phones have become the consumer electronics sector with the largest volume of sales in the world.

"The mobile industry has constantly outperformed even the most optimistic forecasts for subscriber growth," Mark Newman, head of research at Informa said in a statement.

"For children growing up today the issue is not whether they will get a mobile phone, it's a question of when," Newman said.

In recent years the industry has seen surging growth in outskirts of China and India, helped by constantly falling phone and call prices, with cellphone vendors already eyeing inroads into Africa's countryside to keep up the growth.

The Nor…

Who, and what, is Ashfaq Kiyani?

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28 Nov'07: Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has finally quit the Army after remaining Army Chief for nine years. But whether this means he will become a ceremonial head of state or continue to call the shots is a million dollar question. There is no denying the fact that Gen. Musharraf will lose considerable power because he has vacated the powerful military slot. Though Gen. Musharraf says the new chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani, is a trusted man and will back him as a powerful President, this appears to be only a hope. In 1998, Gen. Musharraf was chosen by then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as the most trusted man, but within a year Gen. Musharraf toppled him. This can still happen. Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto thinks that with Gen. Kiyani and other similar-minded generals taking over the Army, an unpopular Musharraf as a civilian President would be of no benefit. Gen. Musharraf, however, insists he retains the Army's support and, to that end, the 55-year-…