Sunday, August 30, 2009

Firefighters | die in Los Angeles wildfires

Two firefighters have died and a major telecommunications centre is under threat from the huge wildfires raging out of control in the hills above Los Angeles.

As the fire, fuelled by high temperatures, low humidity and tinder dry forests continued to spread in all directions, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger urged residents to obey evacuation orders for the "very dangerous" blaze that has already burned through 42,000 acres and is threatening 12000 homes.

The two firemen were in the midst of an intense fire in the Angeles National Forest on Sunday afternoon when their fire engine rolled off the mountainside, according to county deputy Fire Chief Mike Bryant.

He did not give a cause for the crash.

As ash fell as far away as central Los Angeles, fire fighters focussed their attention on Mt Wilson, the site of 22 transmission towers for television and radio broacasts as well as emergency services. Officials said the flames could be on the towers within hours, as planes dumped tons of water in the area and 2500 firemen contiued to build 100 miles of fire protection lines.

The 100-year-old Mt Wilson Observatory, a major centre for astronomy and home to several university programmes, is also under threat.

So far, at least 18 buildings have been destroyed, and three people have been burned including a couple who tried to ride out the fire in their backyard hot tub.

Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said the pair "completely underestimated the fire" and the hot tub provided "no protection whatsoever".

The fire, which stated on Wednesday, is still only five percent contained and officials said that, with high temperatures and low humidity, it was only going to get bigger.

Although a lack of high winds has helped limit the spread of the fires it has also made it hard to fight them from the air as thick smoke is building up over the flames instead of being blown away, said Mr Schwarzenegger.

The areas affected by the blaze include foothill suburbs such as Big Tujunga Canyon, La Canada Flintridge, Glendale, and Altadena.

Another wildfire is also raging near Los Angeles in the San Bernardino National Forest.

Hurricane threatens | Mexican coast

A hurricane which has already brought flooding to Mexico's Pacific coast has strengthened into a category four storm, forecasters say.
Hurricane Jimena, which is now rated as extremely dangerous, is moving slowly north-west, roughly parallel to the coast, meteorologists say.
On Sunday afternoon it had maximum winds of nearly 140mph (220 km/h).
Experts say it is on course to reach Mexico's Baja California peninsula by late Monday or early Tuesday.
Richard Pasch, of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, said it was difficult to predict how strong the hurricane would be when it neared the peninsula.
But he added: "I think it's going to be a substantial hurricane by the time it approaches."

One of the towns in its path is the resort of Los Cabos, where the Paris-based Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development is due to hold a conference on Tuesday.
It was not clear if the conference would still take place.
US tourist Beverly Boyer said she planned to cut short her holiday in Los Cabos and fly home on Monday.
"I am nervous and frightened. This is a category four storm that is going to hit," she said.
On Sunday, authorities in Cabo Corrientes, a coastal town in the Mexican state of Jalisco, were setting up shelters in case of heavier wind and rain.

Criminals in police custody attacked by | Rival Gang

Unknown assailants attacked two criminals who were being transported by Bulandshahr police to Amroha for a hearing on Tuesday, injuring one of the two criminals.

The police suspect the attack was fallout of rivalry between two gangs.

The two criminals — Pintoo and Chandra Veer — belong to the infamous Debu gang and were arrested for cases of theft and dishonestly capturing property.

According to the police, Pintoo and Veer were accompanied by three policemen of Bulandshahr Police and had come to Hapur in a Roadways bus. "The police don't have resources to take criminals to courts in other districts, so we use public transport system," a senior police officer said.

Around 9 am on Tuesday, all five were headed to Hapur railway station — two criminals were on one rickshaw with a constable and two constables were on another rickshaw — when they were attacked. "Near Seesganj crossing, the assailants threw red chilly powder at the two constables on the other rickshaw and started shooting," Satish Chand, Circle Officer, Hapur, said.

Eyewitnesses said there were three assailants and there were firing at Pintoo. A bullet hit Pintoo in the throat.

"Pintoo was admitted to Khan Nursing Home after he was shot by suspected members of another gang," Akhil Kumar, SSP, Ghaziabad, said.

A passerby, Jeetendra, was also injured in the shootout when a bullet grazed his shoulder.

A case has been registered against unknown assailants at Hapur police station and investigations are on, the police said.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Chandrayaan 1 lost | moon mission in limbo

Scientists have lost radio contact with Chandrayaan 1, India’s space mission to the moon.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) abruptly lost radio contact with the unmanned spacecraft at around 0130 hrs IST on Friday. Data was last received from spacecraft shortly after midnight.

"The mission is definitely over. We have lost contact with the spacecraft," Project Director of the Chandrayaan-1 mission M Annadurai told PTI.

"It (Chandrayaan-1) has done its job technically--100 per cent. Scientifically also, it has done almost 90-95 percent of its job," said Annadurai.

S Satish, director of ISRO’s public relations, earlier told CNN-IBN scientists were unable to know what is happening to the spacecraft because of the snag. He said ISRO was not in communication with Chandrayaan 1 and was unable to determine what was happening to the spacecraft after the radio link was lost.

“We are not able to establish communication with the spacecraft--that is what we mean by loss of radio link. It is some sort of serious problem,” said Satish.

"We are not able to establish communication with the spacecraft, so we are not able to know what is happening to the spacecraft. This anomaly is being analysed from the data received last,” he said.

An ISRO press release in Bangalore said the spacecraft had fulfilled most of its scientific objectives. "The spacecraft has completed 312 days in orbit, making over 3,400 orbits around the moon and providing large volume of data from sophisticated sensors like terrain mapping camera, hyper-spectral imager, moon mineralogy mapper and so on, meeting most of the scientific objectives of the mission," the statement said.

"The contact was lost at 0130 IST as the deep space network (DSN) at Byalalu, about 40 km from Bangalore, received the data from the lunarcraft during the previous orbit up to 00.25 IST," it said.

In February 2009, a “prime sensor” of the spacecraft developed a snag. The device enables scientists to determine altitude and forced its failure forced ISRO to push the spacecraft’s orbit from 100 km to 200 km from the moon's surface. The change in orbit means the data would be of lower quality.

Chandrayaan was launched in October 2008 to map a three-dimensional atlas of the moon, and the surface's chemical and mineral composition.

India plans to send an astronaut into space by 2014 and a manned mission to the moon by 2020. The Government has approved the launch of Chandrayaan-2, which is expected to take off between 2010 and 2012, and will include a rover that will land on the moon.


(1958 – 2009)

Michael Joseph Jackson (born August 29, 1958 in Gary, Indiana, died June 25, 2009 in Los Angeles, California), often referred to as The King of Pop, is the biggest-selling solo artist of all time, with over 750,000,000 sales. Jackson is an inductee of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and double inductee to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. His awards include 8 Guinness World Records, 13 Grammy Awards, and 26 Billboard Awards.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Michael Jackson | Birthday

Michael Jackson birthday celebrations will be quite popular this weekend, since this is the first Michael Jackson birthday after his death. Michael Jackson birthday parties stand to pick up right where the Michael Jackson mourning period left off,
as millions pay tribute and homage to Jackson all over again. With tomorrow being Jackson's birthday, the tributes are sure to be big and small all over the country - though the big Jackson birthday bash is being held in Spike Lee's neighborhood.

Out of all the Michael Jackson birthday tributes, Spike Lee is holding the biggest one - so big that they had to move the location. Tomorrow, Lee is celebrating what would have been Jackson's 51'st birthday with a free get-together for all of the King of Pop's fans.

The Michael Jackson birthday party was originally going to be held at Fort Green Park in Brooklyn, but too many people are scheduled to come. Therefore, Lee had to move his bash to the larger Nethermead meadow in Prospect Park, to fit the likely 10,000 attendees for the celebration.

Spike Lee is hosting this birthday tribute 13 years after directing both versions of Jackson's "They Don't Care About Us" video. Along with Lee, the birthday party will be attended by Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz, who will declare August 29'th Michael Jackson Day, and the Rev. Al Sharpton, who delivered a memorable eulogy at the Jackson funeral over a month ago.

The Michael Jackson birthday celebration will take place from noon to 5 p.m. Eastern Time, as Lee promised a "Brooklyn-style" party. Naturally, more than a few Jackson hits will likely provide the soundtrack for the block party.

In addition to Lee's gathering, BET will mark this special Michael Jackson birthday with a whole weekend of Jackson specials and videos, just like they did after Jackson's death.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Swiss bank UBS to disclose secret account details

UBS, the Swiss banking behemoth, will pay a $780 million penalty to the US Justice Department and disclose the names of many secret account holders as part of an agreement to avoid prosecution, in a major change from traditional client secrecy.
The penalty is due to the bank’s help in enabling, goes the charge, thousands of Americans to evade income tax, in breach of regulations, a charge that UBS has partially accepted.
"UBS sincerely regrets the compliance failures in its US cross-border business that have been identified by the various government investigations in Switzerland and the US, as well as our own internal review," said Peter Kurer, the bank’s chairman, in a statement.
"We accept full responsibility for these improper activities," he added, suggesting that "client confidentiality, to which UBS remains committed, was never designed to protect fraudulent acts."
In a separate development, the Swiss Federal Banking Commission has pronounced that "UBS violated the requirements for proper business conduct." The bank also got a severe rap from the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, which said UBS has "severely breached" its obligations under law.
The bank would have faced prosecution by US authorities if it had not reached this agreement. The US will drop the charge in 18 months if the bank will turn over an agreed number of names, helps prosecutors and pays the penalty. The penalty would have been much larger if the bank hadn’t been also making record losses; it has announced major job cuts, got out of parts of debt trading and in commodities and posted a loss of about $6.5 billion in the last quarter
this development is bound to undermine Switzerland’s status as the world’s leading tax haven. Germany and Britain are preparing ground for a concerted crackdown on tax havens, particularly Switzerland. They are expected to join forces for a major agreement on a tough regulatory framework to stop tax and banking fraud, to be discussed at the upcoming G-20 heads of nations meeting on April 2 in London, analysts said.
The major charge against UBS is that it conspired to defraud the US tax authorities which were denied access to funds held by rich Americans. The US authorities says about 17,000 of 20,000 cross-border clients held funds to the tune of $ 20 billion to evade taxes.
The Swiss government’s okay to this admission by UBS is a new development. Till now, the Swiss government did not share data with foreign tax authorities in cases concerning tax evasion.
With inputs from Bloomberg
In the US, tax evasion is a crime. Swiss law does not regard it so; they view tax fraud as a serious offence. For some time now, the US and Germany have been pressing Switzerland to give up its tax secrecy laws. This agreement between UBS and the US tax authorities marks a watershed in the secrecy laws that helped build the world’s most powerful offshore banking center in Switzerland.
"For Switzerland, it is a true catastrophe for the country’s first industry, that is to say the banking center," Charles Poncet, a Geneva-based attorney and former lawmaker, told Reuters.
The agreement would have far-reaching implications for Switzerland’s effort to stay as the world’s leading offshore banking center, analysts said.

Is India a poor Country- Revelation on Swiss bank accounts

Don’t know how far this is true, but a friend of mine forwarded me this
This is so shocking…….wish black money deposits was an Olympics event….India would have won a gold medal hands down. The second best Russia has 4 times lesser deposit. US is not even there in the counting in top five !! India has more money in swiss banks than all the other countries
Recently, due to international pressure, Swiss govt. agreed to disclose the names of the account holders only if the respective govts formally asked for it. Indian govt. is not asking for the details…….no marks for guessing why ????
We need to start a movement to pressurize the govt. to do so !! this is perhaps the only way, and a golden opportunity, to expose the high and mighty and weed out corruption !!
Please read on……and forward to all the honest Indians to… somebody is forwarding to you…….and build a ground-swell of support for action !!
Is India poor, who says? Ask Swiss banks With personal account deposit bank of $1500 billion in foreign reserve which have been misappropriated, an amount 13 times larger than the country’s foreign debt, one needs to rethink if India is a poor country?.
DISHONEST INDUSTRIALISTS, scandalous politicians and corrupt IAS, IRS, IPS officers have deposited in foreign banks in their illegal personal accounts a sum of about $ 1500 billion, which have been misappropriated by them.
This amount is about 13 times larger than the country’s foreign debt. With this amount 45 crore poor people can get Rs 1,00,000 each. This huge amount has been appropriated from the people of India by exploiting and betraying
Once this huge amount of black money and property comes back to India , the entire foreign debt can be repaid in 24 hours. After paying the entire foreign debt, we will have surplus amount, almost 12 times larger than the foreign debt. If this surplus amount is invested in earning interest, the amount of interest will be more than the annual budget of the Central government. So even if all the taxes are abolished, then also the Central government will be able to maintain the country very comfortably.
Some 80,000 people travel to Switzerland every year, of whom 25,000 travel very frequently.
“Obviously, these people won’t be tourists. They must be travelling there for some other reason,” believes an official involved in tracking illegal money. And, clearly, he isn’t referring to the commerce ministry bureaucrats who’ve been flitting in and out of Geneva ever since the World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations went into a tailspin!
Just read the following details and note how thesedishonest industrialists, scandalous politicians, corrupt officers, cricketers, film actors, illegal sex trade and protected wildlife operators, to name just a few, sucked this country’s wealth and prosperity. This may be the picture of deposits in Swiss banks only. What about other international banks?
Black money in Swiss banks — Swiss Banking Association report, 2006 details bank deposits in the territory of Switzerland by nationals of following countries:
Top five
India—- $1,456 billion
Russia —$ 470 billion
UK ——-$390 billion
Ukraine - $100 billion
China —–$ 96 billion
Now do the maths - India with $1456 billion or $1.4 trillion has more money in Swiss banks than rest of the world combined. Public loot since 1947:
Can we bring back our money? It is one of the biggest loots witnessed by mankind — the loot of the Aam Aadmi (common man) since 1947, by his brethren occupying public office. It has been orchestrated by politicians, bureaucrats and some businessmen.
The list is almost all-encompassing. No wonder, everyone in India loots with impunity and without any fear.
What is even more depressing in that this ill-gotten wealth of ours has been stashed away abroad into secret bank accounts located in some of the world’s best known tax havens. And to that extent the Indian economy has been stripped of its wealth.
Ordinary Indians may not be exactly aware of how such secret accounts operate and what are the rules and regulations that go on to govern such tax havens. However, one may well be aware of ‘Swiss bank accounts,’ the shorthand for murky dealings, secrecy and of course pilferage from developing countries into rich developed ones.
In fact, some finance experts and economists believe tax havens to be a conspiracy of the western world against the poor countries. By allowing the proliferation of tax havens in the twentieth century, the western world explicitly encourages the movement of scarce capital from the developing countries to the rich.
In March 2005, the Tax Justice Network (TJN) published a research finding demonstrating that $11.5 trillion of personal wealth was held offshore by rich individuals across the globe.
The findings estimated that a large proportion of this wealth was managed from some 70 tax havens.
Further,augmenting these studies of TJN, Raymond Baker — in his widely celebrated book titled ‘Capitalism’ s Achilles Heel: Dirty Money and How to Renew the Free Market System’ — estimates that at least $5 trillion have been shifted out of poorer countries to the West since the mid-1970.
It is further estimated by experts that one per cent of the world’s population holds more than 57 per cent of total global wealth, routing it invariably through these tax havens. How much of this is from India is anybody’s guess.
What is to be noted here is that most of the wealth of Indians parked in these tax havens is illegitimate money acquired through corrupt means.
Naturally, the secrecy associated with the bank accounts in such places is central to the issue, not their low tax rates as the term ‘tax havens’ suggests. Remember Bofors and how India could not trace the ultimate beneficiary of those transactions because of the secrecy associated with
these bank accounts?

Indian market has to grow in a balanced manner'

Mumbai, Aug. 21 -- Swiss believes India is a large market of affluent people who can buy first class services, said Holger Hatty, its chief commercial officer, in an interview. Excerpts. On the Indian market India is high on our agenda. Hence we are introducing first class here. India is a large market of affluent people who can buy first class. We want to be the best premium European carrier from India. The market witnessed too much competition and airlines built too much capacity. This market was very much regulated and once it opened up, it opened suddenly. The market has to grow in a balanced manner. On its offering Our first class would be the main differentiator. We are targeting top businessmen, high net worth individuals and bollywood personalities. We are replacing the 10-year old business class with ultra modern facilities. Our premium positioning would help us earn more revenue from other classes. On difficult times People do tighten their purse strings in difficult times but one should not divert from ones strategy. We are a premium carrier. We are convinced that in the long-term, first-class products will excel. There can't be Swiss without the premium first class.

England rout Australia by 197 runs to regain Ashes

London: England pulled off a sensational 197 run victory over Australia in the fifth and final cricket Test to regain the coveted Ashes urn after a four-year gap here today.
After setting Australia an improbable target of 546 runs, the hosts wrapped up Australia's second innings at 348 at The Oval to clinch the series 2-1 and make Andrew Flintoff's swansong Test a memorable event.
A packed Oval crowd erupted into celebration when spinner Greame Swann dismissed Michael Hussey to draw curtains on a keenly contested series between the arch-rivals.
Hussey stood tall amid the ruins with a valiant 121-run knock while skipper Ricky Ponting also batted bravely for his 66 before Flintoff effected his brilliant run out.
Ponting suffered the ignominy of being the only the second Australia captain in 132 years of Ashes history to lose two series on England soil. The other was Australia's first touring captain Billy Murdoch a century ago.

India's Ekta Chaudhary out of Miss Universe contest

Atlantis Paradise Island (The Bahamas), Aug 24 (IANS) Delhi girl Ekta Chaudhary Monday failed to make it to the top 15 finalists of the Miss Universe 2009 contest here, dashing hopes of getting the crown back to India.
The top 15 finalists who will be vying for the Miss Universe crown are from Albania, Australia, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, France, Iceland, Kosovo, Puerto Rico, Sweden, Switzerland, South Africa, the US and Venezuela.
These finalists were selected from among 80 contestants who appeared in cocktail dresses and then reappeared in swim suits.
The winner will be crowned by reigning Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza of Venezuela.

The New Miss Universe

Miss Venezuela Stefania Fernandez is the new Miss Universe. Here is a look at the winning moments.