Archive | January, 2011

Raja quizzed by CBI for the third time

Posted on 31 January 2011 by GGS News

New Delhi,(GGS NEWS) 31 Jan 2011 : CBI Monday questioned former Telecom Minister A Raja for the third time in connection with the funding and allegedly showing favours to some telecom companies in granting 2G spectrum between October 2007 and 2008.

Raja, who was questioned earlier on December 24 and 25 last year, was called to CBI office this morning and quizzed for nearly nine hours, official sources said.

The DMK MP was asked about his convesrations with corporate lobbiyst Niira Radia and the reasons of advancing the cut-off date of allocation of the spectrum in 2007.

Some of the questions pertained to the role of some of the kin of the former minister in a few offshoot companies of these telecom firms besides the flow of funds.

Raja was confronted with some documents recovered by the agency during searches on Department of Telecom offices in October 2009 after registering a case against unnamed officers of DoT and telecom companies, the sources said.

While Raja was allowed to go home today, CBI sources said he would be called again when he would be confronted with some more questions and documents recovered from the computers seized during raids conducted by the investigation agency.

Raja was questioned at length on the circumstances leading to spectrum allocation which has been criticized severely by Central Vigilance Commission and the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).

Raja was forced to resign on November 14 last year in the wake of the CAG report which held that the spectrum allocation at undervalued prices resulted in a notional loss of Rs.1.76 lakh crore to the state exchequer.

Raja got the telecom portfolio on May 18, 2007 and was re-elected as a Member of the 15th Lok Sabha and continued as Telecom Minister from May 31, 2009, till November 14, 2010 before he tendered his resignation.

The Supreme Court has asked CBI and Enforcement Directorate to submit status reports on their investigations into the 2G spectrum case to it by February 10 when the case will come up for further hearing.

In its FIR, CBI mentioned the loss as Rs 22,000 crore based on CVC findings which had referred the case to it.

Radia was quizzed by CBI last week as she had come under the scanner after her tapped telephonic conversations with various influential people including industrialists, politicians and journalists became public.

CBI has also questioned former Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chief Pradip Baijal, a 1966 batch IAS officer of Madhya Pradesh cadre, and former Telecom Secretaries Siddarth Behura and D S Mathur in connection with the case.

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Ramesh gives go-ahead to Posco steel plant, but with conditions

Posted on 31 January 2011 by GGS News

New Delhi,(GGS NEWS) 31 Jan 2011 : After putting the project on hold last year, Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh today granted conditional clearance for South Korean major Posco’s USD 12 billion steel mill project in Orissa.

The Ministry, while granting conditional green clearance for steel-cum-captive-power plant and a captive minor port, however, sought Orissa Government’s assurances before it can give final approval for diversion of 1253 hectares of forest land for the project, mooted as the single biggest foreign direct investment in India.

“Environmental clearance for the steel-cum-captive power plant is being accorded with 28 additional conditions over and above stipulated in the original environmental clearance of July 19, 2007,” Ramesh said in his order.

“The environmental clearance for captive port is being accorded with 32 additional conditions over and above stipulated in the original environmental clearance of May 15, 2007,” the order signed by the Minister said.

Ramesh also asked Orissa government to give a categorical assurance that those claiming to be dependent on or cultivating the land in the Posco project area do not belong to the other traditional forest dwellers (OTFD) category under the Forest Rights Act, 2006.

This, according to him, would make it clear that there are no legally tenable claims of non-tribals wanting recognition as OTFDs under the FRA.

“Final approval of diversion of 1253 hectares of forest land for the Posco project would be granted as soon as this assurance of the state government is received by the MoEF,” the Minister said.

In August last year, Environment Ministry had directed the Orissa government to stop land acquisition for Korean steel giant Posco because it violates the Forest Rights Act.

The step was taken on the basis of a ground report submitted by a three-member committee set up by the Environment and Tribal Affairs Ministries.

The state government and Pohang Steel Company (POSCO), signed an MoU on June 22, 2005 for setting up an integrated steel plant of a total capacity of 12 million tonnes per annum at Paradeep in Jagatsinghpur district.

The plant would be located on the northwestern bank of the Jatadharmohan river creek, 12 km south of the Paradeep Port requiring a total of 1620.496 hectares of land of which 1253.225 hectares is forest land and would affect eight villages in Erasama block of Kujang Tehsil.

The MoU also envisaged that the company would develop and operate a mining project in areas allocated by the government; a transportation project which includes a dedicated railway line, road and port; integrated township and water supply infrastructure.

But the project was delayed over green issues and protests by local residents who alleged that the setting up of plant would affect their largely agriculture and forest-based livelihoods.

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No tears as timid Murray flatlines again

Posted on 31 January 2011 by GGS News

Melbourne,(GGS NEWS) 31 Jan 2011 : Andy Murray once again froze on the biggest stage but instead of shedding tears as he did last year he simply shrugged off his failure to end 75 years of British grand slam hurt.

Murray embraced Novak Djokovic at the net after a 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 humbling by the Serb in the Australian Open final but then echoed the defeatist body language he had displayed in the match by saying he would not lose any sleep over his latest flop.

“It’s better than it was last year,” shrugged the fifth seed, who was reduced to tears after being beaten by Roger Federer in last year’s Melbourne final.

“It was obviously tough, disappointing. You know, I thought Novak played unbelievably well. Yeah, it’s tough, but I’ve got to deal with it.”

Murray has now lost three major finals, failing to win a set in any, and Britain’s wait for a first men’s grand slam singles champion since Fred Perry in 1936 continues after a display in which the Scot only became animated when yelling at his box to “Be quiet.”

“Against Novak you need to be firing on all cylinders,” said Murray, offering the usual platitudes in a monotone which screamed ‘Get me out of here’.He went on to say a grand slam title might not be the be all and end all for him.

“It’s not something I lose sleep over at night,” said the 23-year-old Scot, also thrashed by Federer in the 2008 US Open final.

“It’s going to be tough for a few days. I want to try and win one, of course. But if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.”

“I take tennis very seriously. But I love my life away from tennis as well. This year, compared with last, I’m very, very happy off the court.”

“I’m enjoying myself. There’s other things to look forward to.”

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I have to be calm during World Cup: Ashwin

Posted on 31 January 2011 by GGS News

Kolkata:,(GGS NEWS) 31 Jan 2011 :: As he gears up to live the dream of being in a World Cup squad, young Indian off-spinner R Ashwin says he is trying all he can to be of more utility by improving his batting and, more importantly, learning to handle pressure which “gets easily” to him.

“I`m trying my best to be an asset to the side. I`m working hard on my batting and want to be a utility man for the side so that I can be a real asset to the side. Pressure gets to me easily. I am working hard to be calm in a pressure-filled situation,” Ashwin said in an interview.

The 24-year-old player`s rise from obscurity to rank among the top spinners in two years time is no fluke but Ashwin says he is not quite sure whether he would actually get a chance to play in the World Cup starting February 19.

“I`m not overly-excited or thinking of figuring in the playing XI in the World Cup. I don`t know if I have a chance to make the playing XI. I will do whatever is there in my hands. That is a part and parcel of every game. It really does not get to me. I`m focussed in whatever I`m doing,” Ashwin said.

Asked how he was gearing up for the World Cup personally, Ashwin said, “I have been working hard and working smartly for past five-six months. When I bowl, I put myself in the batsman`s shoes, I keep thinking a lot.”

“You really can`t work hard on your skill but what you can do is to out-think the batsman on the field. You have to execute your plans well,” Ashwin said.

On the three-pronged spin attack, Ashwin said, “Bhajji will lead the attack well. He has really been bowling well… he`s always been inspirational and a guiding force. Also, I have the confidence and trust of my skipper (Mahendra Singh Dhoni) that helps in giving freedom as a bowler.”

With the hype rising about India`s prospects in the biggest cricketing extravaganza, Ashwin said: “Already there have been talks that this is the strongest Indian side ever. We are really good as a unit and well-suited to the domestic condition.”

“Obviously I want the team to win the Cup. The atmosphere in the team is just perfect, honestly speaking we stand a very good chance. We definitely have all the ammunition to make it to the last stage. But it`s just one game at a time after all,” Ashwin said.

“Every team is good at this level. You cannot underestimate any team. Moreover aided by technology all the 10 Test playing nations are well-equipped to tackle any opposition.”

Ashwin felt the recent tour to South Africa has also been good preparation for the mega-event.

“It`s one of the best South Africa tours, this team has the tenacity. We put them under tremendous pressure and fought till the end. That`s really a good sign… This team has the right vibes, helping each other.”

Alongside India, Ashwin picked England, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and defending champions Australia to go all the way.

“England are doing very well at the moment, in these sub-continental condition everybody knows that Sri Lanka canbe a big threat, while Pakistan can be real dynamite. At the same time, we cannot just rule out World Cup champions Australia,” he said.

At the same time, he said Bangladesh have it in them to upset the heavyweights.

“In home conditions, Bangladesh can be a real threat. I will be surprised if they don`t stun some big names in the cricketing world in the course of the tournament.”

The World Cup is likely to be Gary Kirsten`s swansong assignment as India coach and Ashwin said the South African, under whom the team did exceptionally well, would be missed.

“Of course Gary Kirsten had a major role having been with the side for the last few years. He has been amazing. Hopefully somebody gets into his head and makes him to stay back (with us),” he quipped.

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Police in Bangladesh have fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse villagers protesting against government plans.

Posted on 31 January 2011 by GGS News

US,(GGS NEWS) 31 Jan 2011 : US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has told reporters the US would not be suspending aid to Haiti.

She rejected suggestions that the US would cut off aid to pressure Haiti into accepting the recommendations made by the Organisation of American States (OAS) to settle the electoral crisis.

Mrs Clinton was speaking after meeting the three leading candidates and the outgoing President Rene Preval.

Final results of the first round of the election are expected on Wednesday.

Mrs Clinton stressed she wanted to see the recommendations made by the OAS enacted.

“We want to see the voices and votes of the Haitian people acknowledged and recognised,” she said shortly after landing at Port-au-Prince airport.

The OAS has called for the government-backed candidate, Jude Celestin, to pull out of the race after monitors accused his supporters of rigging the first round of the election in his favour.

His party has withdrawn its backing, but Mr Celestin has refused to confirm that he is pulling out.

Asked if the Obama Administration was considering an embargo or a suspension of aid, Mrs Clinton answered that they were “not talking about any of that”.

“We have a deep commitment to the Haitian people,” she added.

Last month, US Senator Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who oversees foreign aid for Haiti, called for a halt to funds until the crisis was resolved.

At the time, Mrs Clinton said that Haitian officials should heed Senator Leahy’s warning and ensure a fair outcome to the election.

Preliminary results of the first round put former first lady Mirlande Manigat in first place and Jude Celestin in second, edging out the third-placed candidate, Michel Martelly.

Mr Martelly’s supporters said the poll had been rigged in Mr Celestin’s favour, an allegation which was later backed up by international monitors.

Under pressure from the United Nations, the OAS and the US, Mr Celestin’s party withdrew its backing, but Mr Celestin has not yet confirmed whether he will bow out.

On Friday, the electoral commission said it would announce the results of the disputed first round on Wednesday, and set the date for the second and final round for 20 March 2011.

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Clashes over Dhaka airport plans

Posted on 31 January 2011 by GGS News

Bangladesh,(GGS NEWS) 31 Jan 2011 : Protesters, some armed with sticks and axes, attacked police at the site in Srinagar sub-district, 40km (25 miles) south of the city.

Villagers say they will lose homes and farmlands.

The government wants the planned airport to be named after independence leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman – the father of current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

He was killed along with most of his family members in a coup in 1975, four years after Bangladesh won independence from Pakistan.

Police in Bangladesh have fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse villagers protesting against government plans to build a new airport south of the capital Dhaka.

The farmers, whose land the government wants to acquire for the project, set fire to a police camp, burned a police vehicle and blocked roads.

One policemen was killed and more than 50 people injured in the clashes.

The government says the farmers will be adequately compensated for their land.

Critics of the plans say the country’s existing airports are not operating at capacity.

Police say about 20,000 villagers demonstrated on Monday against plans to build Bangabandhu International Airport, in Munshiganj district.

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Blasts at Venezuela arms depot force thousands to fle

Posted on 31 January 2011 by GGS News

America,(GGS NEWS) 31 Jan 2011 : A series of explosions at an arms depot in Venezuela left one person dead and forced authorities to evacuate thousands of people living nearby.

The blasts were set off by a fire in the depot in the city of Maracay, about 100km (60 miles) west of Caracas.

It took firefighters several hours to bring the situation under control.

Officials said the blaze began shortly after 0400 local time (0800GMT), and television pictures showed thick white smoke rising up from the area.

Local resident Yandry Rey said she saw a “ball of fire” after hearing the explosions.

“It seemed as though they were bombing us. It was horrible,” Ms Rey told the Associated Press.

Officials said that firefighters were waiting until the explosions died down before investigating further.

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Ryanair profits hit by severe winter weather

Posted on 31 January 2011 by GGS News

Eu,(GGS NEWS) 31 Jan 2011 :: Ryanair reported a loss of 10.3m euros ($14m; £8.8m) in the final quarter of 2010 after strikes and bad weather forced it to cancel 3,000 flights.

However, the loss was down from the 10.9m-euro deficit the Irish budget carrier recorded the year before.

The cancellations were partly offset by a 15% rise in average fares to 34 euros, and a 20% increase in sales of items such as in-flight refreshments.

There was also an increase of 6% in passenger numbers during the period.

“This small third-quarter loss of 10 million euros is disappointing, as we were on track to break even, but earnings were hit by a series of air traffic control strikes in the third quarter, compounded by a spate of bad weather airport closures in December,” said the airline’s chief executive

He said the number of flight cancellations in the third quarter were above the 1,400 seen in the whole of the previous financial year.

The airline also saw its fuel bill for the quarter rise by 37%.

However, Mr O’Leary said the airline was on course to achieve full-year net profits in the top end of its forecast range of between 380m euros and 400m euros.

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Indonesia sex tape star is jailed

Posted on 31 January 2011 by GGS News

Indonesia,(GGS NEWS) 31 Jan 2011 ::A court in Indonesia has sentenced one of south-east Asia’s best known pop stars to three-and-a-half years in prison for making and distributing sex videos on the internet.

The tapes of Nazril Irham, or Ariel as he is known, and two other celebrities, were made public last June.

He is the first celebrity to be charged under Indonesia’s strict pornography law that came into effect in 2008.

Ariel denied distributing the videos, saying they had been stolen.

Ariel had made three sex videos featuring him and separately, two female celebrities.

The 29-year-old was found guilty of “giving an opportunity for others to spread, produce and prepare a pornographic video”, according to the verdict.

“As a public figure, the defendant should be aware that fans might imitate his behaviour,” said Judge Singgih Budi Prakoso.

He said that Ariel had done nothing to prevent the wide distribution of the videos.

Ariel was speechless on hearing the verdict, and his teenage fans who filled the court room broke down in tears, says Alice Budisatrijo, who was at the court in Bandung.

The singer’s lawyer said he would appeal against the sentence and criticised the judges’ admission that they were influenced by public pressure.

Outside the court, hundreds of protesters had gathered calling for a harsher punishment.

The charge carried a maximum 12-year sentence and a fine of more than $600,000 (£403,000).

The trial has become a target for protests by hardline Muslim groups who have adopted pornography as a banner issue, claiming it symbolises what they have called the nation’s moral decline.

The Blackberry telephone provider, Research In Motion (RIM), has also been asked by the government to prevent pornographic content from being made available through their devices if they wish to maintain distribution in Indonesia.

The case has exposed the deep cultural divide in the country, our correspondent says.

Indonesia is a secular state with a long tradition of tolerance, but with more democracy in the past decade, Muslim political groups have tested their strength through morality and corruption campaigns.

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Sudan protestor ‘dies after police assault’ in Khartoum

Posted on 31 January 2011 by GGS News

Africa,(GGS NEWS) 31 Jan 2011 :: A student has died from his injuries after clashing with Sudanese police, activists say.

Mohammed Abdulrahman was studying at the Ahaliya University in Omdurman, scene of fierce fighting on Sunday.

The anti-government protests have been inspired by those in Tunisia and Egypt and were also organised on Facebook.

The demonstrations in Khartoum and its twin city, Omdurman, were against the high cost of living and the lack of political and social freedom in Sudan.

“You are our martyr Mohamed Abdelrahman,” activists wrote on a Facebook group called Youth for Change which has more than 16,000 members, reports the Reuters news agency.

One prominent human rights activist said Mr Abdulrahman had been shot.

Khartoum’s universities are said to be surrounded by heavy security and some have been closed.

There has been no official comment on the reports of Mr Abdulrahman’s death.

The authorities say they have arrested about 70 people but many were later released.

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