Archive | March, 2011

GREAT Spectrometer Readied For Flight on SOFIA

Posted on 31 March 2011 by GGS News

NASA,(GGS NEWS) 31 March 2011 :Scientists recently completed a series of nighttime, ground-based testing of the German Receiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies, or GREAT, spectrometer in preparation for a series of astronomical science flights on the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy in April. With the SOFIA 747SP aircraft positioned on the ramp outside NASA’s Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility, the upper door covering the telescope was opened and GREAT’s interaction with the telescope was evaluated.

The GREAT instrument is a receiver for spectroscopic observations at far-infrared frequencies between 1.2 and 5 terahertz (wavelengths between 60 and 250 microns). Those wavelengths are not accessible from ground-based telescopes because of atmospheric water vapor absorption.

GREAT is one of two first-generation instruments built for SOFIA by a consortium of German research institutes, including the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, the University of Cologne, the German Aerospace Center and the Max Planck Society. The Max Planck Society and German Research Society financed the development of the instrument.

SOFIA is a joint venture of NASA and the German Aerospace Center DLR. NASA supplied the aircraft and the telescope was built in Germany. NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center manages the SOFIA program. NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., manages SOFIA’s scientific mission. The Universities Space Research Association, in Columbia, Md., and the German SOFIA Institute in Stuttgart, Germany, operate SOFIA’s scientific mission operations respectively for NASA and the DLR.

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Arctic Ice Gets a Check Up

Posted on 31 March 2011 by GGS News

NASA,(GGS NEWS) 31 March 2011 : Scientists tracking the annual maximum extent of Arctic sea ice said that 2011 was among the lowest ice extents measured since satellites began collecting the data in 1979. Using satellites to track Arctic ice and comparing it with data from previous years is one way that scientists track change in the Arctic system.

“For the first 20 years of the satellite record, the average annual maximum was basically uniform,” said Joey Comiso of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., who studies the sea ice data collected by the AMSR-E microwave sensor on NASA’s Aqua satellite. “Then, we see an abrupt decline.”

For a closer look at polar ice, NASA scientists are in the field for the most recent leg of Operation IceBridge, an unprecedented airborne science mission to study the Earth’s polar regions. On March 29, IceBridge took off for its ninth science flight since the campaign’s first flight on March 16.

Over the next eight weeks, researchers will continue to fly over the Arctic aboard an airborne science laboratory, tracking changes to sea ice and land ice, and even collecting some measurements not yet possible from space.Satellites and aircraft work together to document the state of the Arctic, and changes through time. For example, new research led by Nathan Kurtz, a polar scientist at Goddard, shows that large losses of sea ice in the Arctic were observed by NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) from 2003-2008.

The losses reduce the ability of the sea ice cover to insulate the atmosphere from the ocean, which increases the amount of heat transferred from the ocean to the atmosphere. That transfer, in turn, may be contributing to warming air temperatures in the Arctic, according to the research, now in press with Journal of Geophysical Research, Oceans.

“With IceBridge, we will continue monitoring the loss of sea ice in the Arctic which will not only help us determine the health of the sea ice cover, but whether the impact of sea ice losses are further impacting warming in the Arctic region,” Kurtz said.

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Dantewada not fully in our control: Raman Singh

Posted on 31 March 2011 by GGS News

Raipur,(GGS NEWS) 31 March 2011 : No one found guilty will be spared, Chief Minister Raman Singh says on the Dantewada arson incident in which policemen allegedly went on the rampage in three tribal hamlets of Chhattisgarh. But he is quick to add that the area is not fully under government control.

Reacting to the attack on Swami Agnivesh, Singh said he had warned the social activist against going to Dantewada as there was a possibly of a “people’s outburst”.The government will act hard, no one, no policeman will go scot free if the probe report indicts them,” Singh told IANS even as his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government faces possibly its strongest ever criticism since it came into power for the Dantewada episode.

Villagers of Tarmetla and two other nearby tribal hamlets in Dantewada district have alleged that policemen had gone on the rampage between March 11 and 16, burning down over 200 houses, killing people and even raping women.

Singh, however, said Tarmetla was not fully under the government’s control.

“Everyone knows that the Tarmetla area is not under the government’s full control. In recent months police have made some penetration and challenged Maoists who are using local people as a human shield in the battle against police,” the 59-year-old politician said.

Tarmetla, about 500 km south of capital Raipur, is the area where Maoists had massacred 76 security April 6 last year, including 75 of them belonging to the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

Singh said the “forces still struggle to enter certain jungle areas in Bastar where Maoists dominate, they have buried landmines, there is always a possibility of civilians coming to harm in the case of crossfire, but the probe report will make everything clear because I too want to know the facts of the Tarmetla arson case”.

Singh, who has headed the BJP government since December 2003 in the country’s worst Maoist insurgency-hit state, on March 24 set up a four-member probe panel besides ordering a magisterial inquiry. Newspaper photographs showed the devastation in the areas.

Singh said the “probe will be completely ‘fair and impartial’. I have transferred the Dantewada collector R. Prasanna and Senior Superintendent of Police S.R.P. Kalluri because there was lack of coordination among them and also to ensure that the probe is influenced by anyone”.

He, however, chose to remain silent in the state assembly as the stormy budget session ended Thursday, refusing to make a statement on the Dantewada incident despite the Congress paralysing the house since Monday and terming the incident a fallout of ‘jungle raj’.

Even Swami Agnivesh and some mediamen accompanying him were attacked by a mob in Dantewada March 26 while they were on their way to Tarmetla. Agnivesh was pulled out of his car, manhandled and eggs were thrown at him allegedly by policemen in civilian clothes and cadres of the anti-Maoist militia Salwa Judum. The protesters stoned Agnivesh’s convoy and forced him to return.

Singh remarked: “I provided him full security, I had personally told him before he headed to Dantewada that the area is very sensitive, ‘I will give you (Agnivesh) security cover till the location where we are in a position to provide it,’ I had also told him that people of the area have suffered too many Maoist brutalities, so people’s outburst is a possibility.

“Agnivesh should have avoided going to the media in Raipur and New Delhi about what happened to him in Dantewada, it spoils the atmosphere.”

The Congress had sent a 10-member team of party legislators to Dantewada villages March 29 to make an on the spot assessment but they were arrested in Dantewada and returned without reaching Ground Zero.

Asked why his government was stopping those who wanted to know the truth, Singh said: “It’s not an area you can easily go to, roads have multiple-layer landmines and Maoists are dominant, each time an outsider attempts to go there, police have to go first to open the roads and clear the landmines.”

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Barca Relief as Tests Rule Out Messi Muscle Injury

Posted on 31 March 2011 by GGS News

Madrid,(GGS NEWS) 31 March 2011 :  Leaders Barcelona breathed a sigh of relief on Thursday after tests showed that a suspected injury to joint La Liga top scorer Lionel Messi on international duty with Argentina was merely a scare.

The World Player of the Year, level on 27 goals with Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo, pulled out of Argentina’s friendly against Costa Rica on Tuesday as a precaution.

He had tests on the adductor muscle in his right leg on Thursday at a clinic in the Catalan capital as Barca prepare to defend their five-point lead over chasing Real Madrid at third-placed Villarreal on Saturday. “Once the tests were completed doctors ruled out any muscle injury,” Barca said.

“The player will have physiotherapy between now and Saturday, when a decision will be taken on his participation in the Villarreal game.”

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Kamran to face the axe, international career might be over

Posted on 31 March 2011 by GGS News

Karachi,(GGS NEWS) 31 March 2011 :  Experienced Pakistani wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal may have played his last international match after his disappointing performance in the World Cup semifinal against India in Mohali.

A reliable source close to the national selection committee said that the selectors had decided before the match that if he didn`t perform in the crucial game they would start looking for replacements. “The fact is that the selectors had decided before the World Cup that Kamran would no longer be playing Test matches. But they had backed him to perform in the tournament so that he could be considered for limited over cricket,” the source said.

According to the source if Kamran had performed in the semi-final he would have remained in contention to continue playing limited over cricket. “But now according to what the selectors have decided his Pakistan career is virtually over as they are not happy with either his keeping or batting at this level,” the source said.

“For a player who has been around since 2002, their appears to be no consistency or improvement in his keeping or batting and the selectors now believe it is time to find a replacement for him and move on,” the source said.

Kamran, 29, has played 53 Tests, 137 ODIs and 38 T20 internationals but in recent times his wayward keeping abilities and inconsistent batting has disappointed the selectors as well as his fans.

The source said the selectors would definitely not be picking Kamran for the forthcoming tour to the West Indies for either format of the game. “The selectors will rely on Adnan Akmal and Sarfaraz Ahmed for the West Indies tour that is now decided after the semi final today,” the source said.

Kamran`s repeated follies behind the stumps, including some vital dropped catches, have cost Pakistan team a lot and again yesterday his keeping was untidy while he scored just 19 runs opening the innings.

“The selectors will now also decide on the future of some senior players in the limited over teams as they now plan to blood more new players in one-day and T20 cricket on the West Indies tour,” the source added. Enigmatic fast bowler, Shoaib Akhtar has already announced his retirement from international cricket after the World Cup and the Pakistan team management also didn`t play him in the last four matches of the tournament.

Ironically Shoaib`s ouster from the playing eleven also involved Kamran who had dropped two catches in one over from Shoaib against New Zealand leading to an argument between them in the dressing room and eventual disciplinary action against the temperamental fast bowler.

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People of Tamil Nadu will never support coalition govt says Jaya

Posted on 31 March 2011 by GGS News

Chennai,(GGS NEWS) 31 March 2011 :AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa on Thursday said the people of Tamil Nadu will never support a coalition government in the state, days after her archrival M Karunanidhi indicated that the DMK was not averse to such an arrangement if the situation warranted.

“The people of Tamil Nadu will never support a coalition government,” she said.

Jayalalithaa, who is contesting from Srirangam in Trichy, said the people of the state are “thoroughly disgusted” with the domination of a one single family in the affairs of the state. “The people have made up their mind to throw out this family lock, stock and barrel,” she said in response to a query.

Her comments come days after Karunanidhi indicated that the DMK may head a coalition government in the state if the situation warrants.

The Congress, which has been providing outside support to the DMK Government in Tamil Nadu, has also been indicating that it may join the government if the combine is voted back to power.

“The results will speak,” Jayalalithaa, who is hopeful of making a comeback in the elections, said.

The former chief minister also lamented that there was little time left for campaigning as the Election Commission decided to conduct the polls in April instead of May.

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Rebels fight Gaddafi’s forces for east Libyan town

Posted on 31 March 2011 by GGS News

US,(GGS NEWS) 31 Match 2011 : US President Barack Obama has secretly authorised covert assistance to rebels seeking to overthrow Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi, US media reports say.

He recently signed a document known as a “finding”, allowing support to the rebel groups, Reuters news agency and ABC News said.

Such “findings” are a common way for the president to authorise covert operations by the CIA.

The CIA and White House have both declined to comment on the reports.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said: “I will reiterate what the president said yesterday – no decision has been made about providing arms to the opposition or to any group in Libya. We’re not ruling it out or ruling it in.

“We’re assessing and reviewing options for all types of assistance that we could provide to the Libyan people, and have consulted directly with the opposition and our international partners about these matters.”

The latest reports come amid an ongoing debate about the legality of arming the forces opposed to Col Gaddafi, the BBC’s Steve Kingstone in Washington says.

Mr Obama has said publicly the US has not ruled out arming the rebels. He has pledged US troops will not join the effort to eject Col Gaddafi

The New York Times, citing American officials, said on Wednesday that the CIA has had operatives on the ground in Libya for several weeks. They are said to be gathering intelligence for air strikes and making contact with the forces fighting Col Gaddafi.

The newspaper says British intelligence and special forces are also involved.

The Associated Press news agency, quoting a US official and former US intelligence officer, said small teams of CIA operatives had been sent into Libya after the agency’s station in the capital, Tripoli, was forced to close.

Some of those operatives had been involved in rescuing the crew of an F-15E Eagle warplane that crashed in Libya a week ago, AP said.

Meanwhile, US officials told the Washington Post newspaper that CIA operatives had been sent in to gather intelligence on the identity, aims and progress of the forces opposing Col Gaddafi.

In interviews with US television networks on Tuesday, Mr Obama spoke of applying “steady pressure, not only militarily but also through these other means” to encourage Col Gaddafi to step down.

He said the US had not decided whether or not to provide arms to Libyan rebels in the future.

“It’s fair to say that if we wanted to get weapons into Libya

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Pakistan Ten die after bomb hits Fazlur Rehman convoy

Posted on 31 March 2011 by GGS News

Pakistan,(GGS NEWS) 31 March 2011 : At least 10 people have been killed in north-west Pakistan after a suicide bomber hit the convoy of a radical religious leader, police say.

At least two of those who died in the blast near Charsadda were police guarding Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who was unharmed. Thirty others were injured.

It is the second time in as many days that Maulana Rehman has been targeted. An attack on Wednesday killed 10.

Taliban militants are thought to have carried out the bombings.

Maulana Rehman is one of Pakistan’s most famous politicians, with a strong support base in the north-west.

Although his Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party is close to militant organisations,correspondents say insurgent leaders were angered by a Wikileaks cable showing Mr Rehman apparently offering help to US officials in return for greater political power.

While Maulana Rehman said that he did not know who might want to attack him, many believe his former Taliban allies – angry over the Wikileaks revelations – are responsible.

“My car was substantially damaged in the attack. There is blood everywhere… my clothes are covered in blood,” he told reporters minutes after Thursday’s attack.

“The bodies were blown out of the car… We are trying to get the dead and injured out of here and to hospitals.

“I can’t say who is behind these attacks but its definitely due to our political ideology.”

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Legal Syrian Committee to prepare a study to facilitate Lifting Emergency Law

Posted on 31 March 2011 by GGS News

Syria,(GGS NEWS) 31 March 2011 : Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad has directed a legal committee to look into lifting unpopular emergency laws, in place for nearly half a century.

It will finish work by 25 April, reported the state news agency Sana.

The announcement comes a day after President Assad vowed to defeat a “plot” against his country, but failed to announce the lifting of emergency legislation as some had predicted.

It was his first speech since protests erupted in Syria two weeks ago.

Following Mr Assad’s address on Wednesday, protests and gunfire broke out in the flashpoint port city of Latakia, though reports of casualties are unconfirmed.

Protesters have called on Facebook for more protests following Friday prayers, reported news agency AFP.

But backing for Mr Assad’s regime has also been in evidence, with huge crowds joining officially encouraged shows of support for the regime in Damascus on Tuesday.

“Under a directive by President Bashar al-Assad, a committee of legal experts has been formed to study new laws on national security and counter-terrorism, in order to pave the way for ending the state of emergency,” Sana reported.

The laws, which permit arrest without charge and restrict gatherings and movement, have been in place since 1963.

Mr Assad admits reforms are needed but insists he will introduce such reforms at his own pace and not because of pressure.

The unrest has become the biggest threat to the rule of President Assad, 45, who succeeded his father Hafez on his death in 2000.

Syria’s security forces have responded harshly, with activists and rights groups estimating between 60 and 130 people have died in clashes.

But officials say the death toll is closer to 30.

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Suspected drug lord held in Guatemala

Posted on 31 March 2011 by GGS News

US,(GGS NEWS) 31 March 2011 : Guatemala’s most wanted suspected drugs lord, Juan Ortiz Lopez, has been captured by US and Guatemalan agents.

Soldiers and police in helicopters swooped on Mr Ortiz’s home in the city of Quetzaltenango.

He is accused of smuggling tonnes of cocaine through Guatemala and Mexico into the US.

The operation is the latest sign of the US’s growing involvement in the fight against organised crime in Central America.

“This is the capture of a big fish,” Guatemalan interior minister Carlos Menocal told a news conference after Mr Ortiz was flown to Guatemala City and taken to court.

He added that Mr Ortiz would probably be extradited to the US to face trial.

Guatemala is struggling against the growing influence of Mexican drugs cartels in large areas of the country.

Earlier this month US President Barack Obama promised $200m (£125m) in extra funds for the fight against organised crime in Central America during a visit to neighbouring El Salvador.

The UN has also promised more international support for Central America, amid concerns that the region’s government’s do not have the resources to contain the growing power of the drugs cartels.

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