Archive | April, 2011

NASA Satellite Sees Tornado Tracks in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Posted on 30 April 2011 by GGS News

NASA,(GGS NEWS) 30 April 2011 : Deadly tornadoes raked across Alabama on April 27, 2011, killing as many as 210 people as of April 29. The hardest-hit community was Tuscaloosa. In an image acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite on April 28, three tornado tracks are visible through and around the city.

The tracks are pale brown trails where green trees and plants have been uprooted, leaving disturbed ground. Though faint, the center track runs from southwest of Tuscaloosa, through the gray city, and extends northeast towards Birmingham. Two other tracks run parallel to the center track. The northernmost track is in an area where the National Weather Service reported a tornado, but no tornado was reported in the vicinity of the more visible southern track. In the southern region, strong winds were reported.

The tornadoes were part of a larger weather pattern that produced more than 150 tornadoes across six states, said the National Weather Service. The death toll had nearly reached 300 on April 29, making the outbreak the deadliest in the United States since 1974.

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MM Joshi to submit PAC report to Speaker

Posted on 30 April 2011 by GGS News

New Delhi,(GGS NEWS) 30 April 2011 : Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman and senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi today evening submitted the committee’s contentious report to the Lok Sabha Speaker while accusing the ruling Congress of attempting to disrupt the panel’s functioning.

Addressing a press conference here, Joshi alleged that some “forces” were trying to disrupt the functioning of the PAC, clearly alluding to the ruling partyHe further accused the Congress of making false allegations against him saying, “There is a motive to destroy democratic institutions.” Putting a question mark on the credibility of the grand old party, Joshi said, “Congress first attacked the CAG and is now not letting the PAC function according to norms.”

He also stressed that, “Government needs to explain its expenditure and people have a right to know how government money is spent.”

Referring to the reports of a serious altercation during the PAC meet on Friday, Joshi countered, “It was a consensual decision in the PAC taken on April 4 to file the report by the end of this month.”

In a shocking revelation, the BJP stalwart said, “Some members of the committee were not supporting the investigations and some even didn’t let the PAC to question witnesses.”

He also revealed that some PAC members were in constant touch with their party colleagues on phones during the meetings and chits were being sent to them instructing them what to say.”

Answering a query on the reported leak of the report, Joshi said, “I have no idea how it happened. We have urged the Speaker to make sure that such incidents don’t happen again in the future.”

Joshi further added that, “I have sent the report to the Speaker’s office and expect her to accept the report and table it in Parliament.”

He also urged people to condemn corruption and take all possible measures to curb the menace.

Reacting to the charges, Congress spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, “The allegations are baseless and absurd. There is an attempt to distort and misrepresent the facts.”

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Bhutan denies landing of Arunachal CM’s chopper

Posted on 30 April 2011 by GGS News

Guwahati,(GGS NEWS) 30 April 2011 :  The missing chopper of Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu has been traced to eastern Bhutan and the CM is said to be safe.

Officials said the Pawan Hans AS350 B-3 helicopter was forced to make emergency landing in Bhutan due to inclement weather. The chopper had taken off from Tawang at 9.50 am this morning and was originally supposed to land in Itanagar at 11.30 am.

A spokesperson of the Arunachal CM’s office said Dorjee Khandu will be flying to Itanagar on another chopper. According to Arunachal MP Takam Sanjay, the chopper had lost communication with the ground after crossing the Tezpur airbase in Assam.

The AS350 B-3 helicopter had two pilots and three passengers on board, including the CM and his personal security officer. The third passenger was reported to be the sister of an MLA.

A massive search operation was launched after the chopper went miissing.

The helicopter in question, AS350 B-3, is a single-engine chopper. In case of an engine failure, there are very slim chances of the helicopter making a safe landing.

The incident came just days after another Pawan Hans helicopter crashed in Tawang on April 19, killing 17 people and injuring six.

The Pawan Hans Helicopter Services Limited (PHHL) has been operating five helicopters across Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura and daily Guwahati-Tawang services for the past nine years. It is one of the major lifelines of the landlocked Arunachal Pradesh

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Infosys appoints K V Kamath as chairman; Shibulal to be CEO

Posted on 30 April 2011 by GGS News

Bangalore,(GGS NEWS) 30 April 2011 :  Marking a crucial transition to the post-founder era of IT bellweather Infosys Technologies, KV Kamath was Saturday named as the next chairman, replacing NR Narayana Murthy. SD Shibulal was named as the new MD and CEO, while Kris Goplakrishnan was named as the co-chairman.

The decision was taken by the company’s board of directors meeting in Bangalore. The appointment will come to effect from August 21st this year, as its now mentor-chairman Narayana Murthy’s turns 65

After retirement Murthy will serve as chairman emiritus of the company.

Kris Goplakrishan is serving as the president and CEO of the company, while Shibulal is the COO and the member of the board.

Infosys has a practice of founder members becoming chairman.

The succession plans in the iconic company comes at a time when its not-so-exciting earning numbers have dampened the market expectations, while rivals like Tata Consultancy Services and HCL Technologies posted stellar results.

The company registered lesser-than-expected 13.6 percent growth in net profit at Rs 1,818 crore for in the last quarter of the previous fiscal.

The industry and markets have been keenly awaiting the succession plans at Infosys. More so, after the resignation of T V Mohandas Pai as Director and Head of Human Resources after putting in 17 years in the company. Pai was considered by many as the CEO material

Murthy had stepped down as CEO in 2002, handing over office to co-founder Nandan Nilekani. Nilekani left the company in 2007 to join the Unique Identification Authority of India. Current CEO Gopalakrishnan took over the reins from Nilekani.

Infosys had formed a nominations committee, comprising Professor Jeffery S Lehman, Deepak M Satwalekar (former MD and CEO of HDFC Standard Life Insurance) and KV Kamath (non-executive chairman of the Board of directors of ICICI Bank).

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Death toll rises as more bodies found in wake of tornadoes, at least 340

Posted on 30 April 2011 by GGS News

US,(GGS NEWS) 30 April 2011 : Soldiers and emergency teams are still searching for bodies and survivors.

More than 200 tornadoes were reported across six southern US states on Tuesday and Wednesday.

During a visit to Alabama, which bore the brunt of the storms, President Barack Obama said he had “never seen devastation like this”.

Mr Obama was speaking in Tuscaloosa, an Alabama town hit by a mile-wide (1.6km) tornado on Wednesday.

“We are going to do everything we can to help these communities rebuild,” Obama said. “We’re going to make sure you’re not forgotten.”

More than 250 people died in Alabama alone – mostly on Wednesday.

As many as a million homes and businesses in the state are still without power.

The overall death toll across the southern US makes it the second-deadliest tornado outbreak in US history, the Associated Press news agency reports.

It says the largest death toll ever was in March 1925, when 747 people were killed in storms that raged through Missouri, Illinois and Indiana.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley said he expected more bodies to be found in the coming days.

The mayor of Birmingham, the largest city in the state, told reporters on Friday: “Whole neighbourhoods of housing, just completely gone. Churches, gone. Businesses, gone… [it] seems like a bomb has been dropped.”

Tornadoes and storms have also caused deaths in Tennessee, Mississippi, Kentucky, Louisiana, Georgia and in Virginia.

A state of emergency remains in place in those states.

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Afghanistan: Taliban announce spring offensive

Posted on 30 April 2011 by GGS News

Afghan,(GGS NEWS) 30 April 2011 : The Taliban said Saturday it is launching a new offensive against foreign troops and Afghan security forces and will focus on military bases and convoys.

The Taliban statement, declaring its spring military operations, warned Afghans to stay away from “centers of the enemy.”

The announcement comes a day after a NATO official told CNN that the alliance anticipates insurgents to begin an extensive new round of attacks against U.S. and coalition forces “in the coming days.”

The officer with the International Security Assistance Force noted that the alliance has seen similar surges at this time in recent years.

“What basically they are trying to do is start their spring offensive, and they think by surging their forces and having a concentrated series of attacks that they can demonstrate their power and relevance and influence over the Afghan population.”

ISAF feels the increased coalition attacks on insurgents have had an impact, and new attacks by insurgents signal their effort to recoup their losses.

“Over the past several months insurgents have suffered a number of setbacks, having been pushed out of key sanctuaries. They have lost more weapons caches than any previous year, and they have lost hundreds of insurgent commanders and thousands of fighters,” the officer said.

In the 90 days ending April 22, coalition special forces conducted 1,393 operations, capturing or killing 468 insurgent commanders, and capturing or killing 2,637 lower-level insurgents.

In response to the latest intelligence, ISAF has “increased” measures to protect its forces as well as shared the intelligence with the Afghan government, the officer said.

The expectation is new attacks would continue to focus on the latest Taliban tactics of assassinations, small arms attacks and going after so-called “soft” targets of Afghan civilians. The officer also said the alliance is watching for more of the “impersonation and infiltration-type attacks that you have seen in the last several days.”

He noted that the alliance remains uncertain if recent attacks by Afghans in military uniforms really are the work of impersonators loyal to the Taliban. ISAF is currently helping train 450 counterintelligence experts in the Afghan forces to help watch for such activity, a doubling of the current counterintelligence force.

This all comes as the Pentagon released its latest report to Congress on the progress in Afghanistan. The military says gains made in Afghanistan over the last half year has created the “necessary conditions” to begin transferring control of security to the Afghanistan government in seven areas of the country inhabited by approximately 20% to 25% of the population.

The latest semi-annual report concludes insurgent momentum has been halted in much of the country, though the gains are “fragile and reversible.” However, the report notes that efforts to fortify government and development was “slower than security gains” over the last six months.

The total number of security incidents were higher from October 2010 through March 2011 compared to the same period of the winter of 2009-2010 the report said. The report says this is mainly due to increased ISAF and Afghan troop presence, which allowed for a higher pace of operations against insurgents safe havens.

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Syria tanks enter Daraa, residents report heavy shooting

Posted on 30 April 2011 by GGS News

Syria,(GGS NEWS) 30 April 2011 : The Syrian government ordered more tanks into Daraa on Saturday and heavy gunfire was heard in the city as security forces tried to crush a revolt against President Bashar Assad, residents said.

Syrian troops and tanks first swept into Daraa on Monday to quell pro-democracy protests against Assad that have spread across the country of 20 million, posing the biggest challenge to his rule and prompting Western powers to impose sanctions.

Daraa, a southern city of 120,000 people, is the cradle of a six-week-old uprising which started with demands for more freedom and an end to corruption. It developed into a movement to overthrow Assad following a violent crackdown by authorities.

Residents said they could hear heavy gunfire, mostly from Daraa’s old quarter, which is situated on a hill near the Jordanian border and is mostly residential.

“Since dawn, we’ve been hearing a heavy exchange of gunfire that is echoing across the city and you do not know what’s happening,” Abu Tareq, a resident, told Reuters by phone.

“I saw more than 15 tanks that had entered from the Damascus highway heading in the direction of the Old City.”

It was not immediately clear whether tanks and mounted armored carriers were shelling the city or agricultural land near the border.

Another resident, Abu Ahmad, told Reuters he had heard tanks had stormed areas in the old city, where the Omari Mosque, which has been a focal point for protests, is located.

“It looks like they (security forces) want to finish their campaign today. From the new tank deployments, it looks as though they are intensifying their operations today.”

Despite the heavy military deployments and mass arrests, demonstrators again took to the streets calling for Assad’s overthrow on Friday.

Soldiers in Daraa killed 19 people on Friday when they fired on protesters who were trying to enter the city from nearby villages in a show of solidarity, a medical source said.

Syrian rights groups put Friday’s death toll at 62, pushing the number of deaths since an uprising that has posed the biggest challenge to the Assad dynasty’s four decades in power, to more than 500.

The crackdown prompted Western powers to take their first concrete steps in punishing Syria for the bloodshed. Washington imposed new sanctions on government figures, including Assad’s brother, who commands the army division which stormed Daraa on Monday.

Assad’s cousin, Atif Najib, was also targeted as was Ali Mamluk, director of general intelligence and Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard, accused of helping the Syrian crackdown.

Syria has denied Iran was helping it quell protests.

European Union diplomats said they had reached preliminary agreement to impose an arms embargo on Syria and would urgently consider further measures.

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Tijuana ‘cartel boss’ Arellano Felix extradited to US

Posted on 30 April 2011 by GGS News

(GGS NEWS) 30 April 2011 : A drug lord has been extradited to the United States as Mexico battles to gain control over powerful gangs.

Benjamin Arellano Felix was head of the powerful Tijuana cartel and operated on the Mexico-U.S. border near San Diego until he was captured in Mexico in 2002.

He faces charges in the U.S. of smuggling tonnes of cocaine into California in the 1990s.

Lanny Breuer, assistant attorney general of the criminal division, said: ”The extradition… reflects our close collaboration with our Mexican law enforcement partners to dismantle violent criminal organisations.’

One former cartel boss Osiel Cardenas, who was extradited to the U.S.  in 2007, is serving a 25-year sentence in Texas without chance of parole.

The Tijuana cartel, also known as the Arellano-Felix gang, has lost much of its power after the deaths and capture of many of its leaders in the last ten years.

A nephew of Felix, Fernando Sanchez Arellano, has taken over but his power has been limited after another gang took over his territory, say drug trade experts.

The Sinaloa cartel, run by Mexico’s most-wanted man Joaquin ‘Shorty’ Guzman, has largely taken over its turf.

Since late 2006, an estimated 37,000 people have died in Mexico’s drug war.

The extradition pointed to improved relations between U.S. and Mexican authorities in the ongoing drug war.

Mexican president Felipe Calderon had become embroiled in a war of words with Washington over the situation.

American officials said the Mexican government was not doing enough to clean up endemic corruption in its police force and judicial system which helps feed the violence.

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EU maintains total liquids ban on flights for now

Posted on 30 April 2011 by GGS News

Eu,(GGS NEWS) 30 April 2011 : In a last-minute U-turn, the European Union on Friday maintained a total ban on taking liquids on aircraft after several states refused to allow passengers to carry duty-free drinks in hand luggage.

The European Commission had planned to partially lift the five-year ban Friday by allowing passengers travelling from non-EU nations to an EU state, or who are in transit, to carry duty-free goods containing liquids.

But in a sudden change of heart, EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said he was advising EU nations to defer the removal of the restrictions “for a limited period” as a “growing number” of states had indicated they would choose to maintain the ban.

The EU’s executive arm said it would review the situation with member states and consult with the United States, a major destination for European travellers, which has not indicated how it would respond to Europe relaxing its rules.

Authorities worldwide banned containers of liquids and gels exceeding 100 millilitres (3.4 ounces) in 2006 after British police foiled a transatlantic plot to detonate liquid explosives aboard airliners flying to Canada and the United States.

The European Commission’s bid to begin to relax the rules is part of an effort to remove all restrictions by 2013 by applying screening methods for liquids, rather than banning them.

Currently, for example, a passenger who buys a bottle of vodka at the duty free shop in Moscow must throw it away at the security checkpoint when transiting in Frankfurt before flying on to London.

France is among EU states refusing to relax the ban, arguing that the country, active in military operations in Libya and Afghanistan, remains a target for attacks.

Justifying the decision to maintain the ban, Kallas said that telling states to allow duty free gels and liquids while others refuse to lift the restrictions would create confusion for passengers.

“Therefore, the restrictions on carrying duty-free liquids purchased outside the EU through European airports should remain in place until passengers can travel with certainty,” he said.

Under special rules, passengers are still allowed to carry duty-free liquids from international airports in Canada and the United States as well as six Croatian airports, the Changi Airport in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

The Association of European Airlines, which favours a relaxation of the rules, nevertheless welcomed the commission’s decision as the “least worst” solution given that many states refused to lift the ban and the US reaction remained unclear.

“We repeatedly voiced concerns about the US situation, but we were assured it would be resolved ahead of the 29 April deadline. This should not have been a last-minute issue,” said AEA secretary general Ulrich Schulte-Strathaus.

Without clarification from the United States, however, passengers flying from Europe to US destinations could have faced further screening or had their liquids confiscated, the AEA said.

“The USA and Europe must communicate openly and as equals, especially given the international nature of the airline industry,” he said

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Two charged after police injured in Tesco riot

Posted on 30 April 2011 by GGS News

England,(GGS NEW) 30 April 2011: Stephen Carroll, 32, from Chaplin Road, Bristol and two 17-year-old boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons, appeared at Bristol Magistrates’ Court.

Mr Carroll was charged with assaulting a police officer and damaging a police camera. The teenagers were charged with violent disorder and theft.

No pleas were entered and all three are due to appear in court again on 6 May.

Mr Carroll, from the Easton area, was released on bail with the condition that he lives at his home address, does not enter the Stokes Croft area and adheres to a night-time curfew.

One of the 17-year-olds was charged with two counts of violent disorder – one on 22 April and one on 29 April. He was also charged with theft. He was remanded in custody.

The other 17-year-old, a schoolboy, was charged with violent disorder and theft. He was released on bail with the same conditions as Mr Carroll.

Officers and protesters were injured early on Friday, after rocks and missiles were thrown during the protests, which had started peacefully in Cheltenham Road, at about 2000 BST on Thursday.

Thursday’s protest came less than a week after demonstrations following the opening of a Tesco store in the area.

Avon and Somerset Police said they were determined to identify as many people involved as possible and have released CCTV images of more than 80 people they want to trace.

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