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Maruti Suzuki to introduce global car by 2017

By News Updater

Maruti Suzuki India, the country's largest carmaker is likely to roll out a global car by 2017, as it strengthens the R&D activities. The company will start working on a global car at its new R&D centre at Rohtak. The company will develop the car with some assistance from parent Suzuki Motor Corp, targeting the European and Japanese markets. The global car will be developed mainly by Indian engineers.

The car will be powered by an 800cc engine and will be positioned along with the company's current best seller 'Alto'. MSI is spending up to Rs 1,500 crore to set up a R&D centre at Rohtak, which will be SMC's only such significant centre outside Japan, to scale up its vehicle development programme and become self-reliant.

In the past, MSI engineers had participated in the development of global models, which have been introduced in India, such as Swift and Ritz. MSI is at present working on an indigenously developed small car for the Indian market that is likely to be launched next year.

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Syria unrest: UN says 2,200 killed in protest crackdown

Category: By News Updater
More than 2,200 people have been killed since the Syrian government's crackdown on protesters began in mid-March, the United Nations says.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay gave the new toll at an emergency session of the UN Human Rights Council.

The UN previously put the number of dead at between 1,900 and 2,000.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Sunday that his government was in no danger of falling.

And he warned that any foreign military intervention would backfire on those who carry it out.

Navi Pillay opened the session by saying: "The gravity of ongoing violations and brutal attacks against the peaceful protesters in that country demand your continued attention."

She went on: "As of today, over 2,200 people have been killed since mass protests began in mid-March, with more than 350 people reportedly killed across Syria since the beginning of Ramadan.

"The military and security forces continue to employ excessive force, including heavy artillery, to quell peaceful demonstrations and regain control over the residents of various cities."

The meeting of the UN Human Rights Council was called by 24 states, including Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

It followed the publication of a report by UN investigators earlier this month which concluded that Syrian security forces were carrying out widespread human rights violations, which could constitute war crimes. Read More...

Salafist ideological challenge to Hamas in Gaza

Category: By News Updater
"Shame on you Obama, Osama is still inside us," was the rhythmic chant of a small group of protesters in Gaza City this week.

Most of them were young men in their 20s. They were small in number, not much more than 50, but strong in voice.

"We came here to show our anger at the murder of Sheikh Osama Bin Laden," said Jihad, a stout man with a thick beard in Islamic traditional dress. He's a Salafist jihadi.

"The Salafist jihadis in Gaza yearn to have acceptance from al-Qaeda," says Nathan Thrall, a Middle East Analyst at the International Crisis Group and an expert on radical Islam in Gaza.

"They are not yet affiliates of al-Qaeda but to say they are inspired by al-Qaeda is accurate," says Mr Thrall.

Salafists practice a very conservative and traditional form of Islam. They take their inspiration from the early generations of Muslims who were close to the Prophet Muhammad and his message.

In Gaza the vast majority are non-violent. Salafist jihadis espouse violence.

They are a tiny minority in Gaza. Nathan Thrall estimates their numbers to be in the tens rather than the hundreds.

They have often been in conflict with the Hamas government in Gaza, which they regard as too moderate and too willing to compromise Islamic principles.

And the Salafist voice is being heard.

'Ideological threat'

Earlier this month, a day after the killing of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan, the Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh condemned the American operation. Mr Haniyeh called Bin Laden an "Arab and Muslim holy warrior".

Such words were ill-timed for those who hope the recent Palestinian unity deal between Hamas and its secular rivals Fatah might see Hamas moderate its views.

Hamas has since rowed back on the comments, but many believe Mr Haniyeh at least partly had the Salafist constituency in Gaza in mind when he made the remarks.

"The threat posed by the Salafists to Hamas is really an ideological one," says Nathan Thrall.

"It's very difficult for Hamas to defend itself against Islamist challengers who say it is failing to impose Islamic law, fight Israel and liberate the Palestinian people."

But he says the physical threat that the Salafists pose to Hamas is much smaller.

"Hamas has shown in the past that it is able to crush the Salafist jihadis when they cross red lines."

One such red line was the kidnapping and murder of Vittorio Arrigoni by a small Salafist group in Gaza in April.

The Italian pro-Palestinian activist, who was living in Gaza City, was abducted and strangled.

Before he was killed a video showing the 36-year-old beaten and blindfolded was posted - on a Salafist website.

The kidnappers demanded the release of Salafist prisoners being held in Hamas jails.

'Closing the file'

Hamas had largely been credited with reducing the threat of kidnapping in Gaza and Mr Arrigoni's murder was seen as a challenge to its authority. It hit back with force.

A few days after the killing Hamas security forces surrounded a house in central Gaza where the three alleged Salafist kidnappers were holding out.

After a fierce gun battle, two of the Salafists ended up dead. One was captured. It's believed since then a number of other Salafists have been arrested across Gaza.

"I think we succeeded now to end this file," Hamas's Deputy Foreign Minister Ghazi Hamed told me.

"This was a small group. Some of them were killed. Some of them were arrested. Everything is under control."

It emerged this week though that an American citizen living in Gaza was advised by Hamas to leave the strip because of threats from Salafist groups and a possible kidnapping plot to avenge the death of Osama Bin Laden.

Depending on which way you look at it, the news was either proof that Hamas is one step ahead of the Salafists and is indeed in control of Gaza, or that the Salafist threat is greater than Hamas perhaps likes to make out.

Government and 'resistance'

Hamas does have the means to largely control Gaza. Tens of thousands of people work in the security forces here.

Just a few weeks after Mr Arrigoni's murder Hamas managed to successfully police the first ever Gaza Marathon, a potentially easy target for Salafist jihadis.

Thousands of Hamas police lined the route, which covered Gaza from top to bottom. The event allowed Hamas to show it was in full control.

The military face of Hamas is a familiar one. It sells itself on being a movement of fighters against Israel's occupation. But it also has to govern. That means schools, hospitals and keeping the streets clean.

Maher Sabra, an analyst at al-Ummah University in Gaza, says this has presented Hamas with a challenge.

"It is very difficult to combine the two things, to be in power as a government taking care of people and at the same time working as a resistance movement."

For the past four years, Mr Sabra believes, Hamas has had to become more pragmatic.

"They are in a delicate position. But so far they are surviving," he smiles.

For the small number of Salafist jihadis, though, Hamas has got the balance wrong.

Some Salafists are disgruntled former Hamas members who believe the movement is neglecting its principles.

The fact that a number of Salafists were once linked to Hamas has led some in Israel to accuse the media of playing up the Hamas-Salafist split, suggesting the two are actually closer than is sometimes made out.

But Nathan Thrall from the International Crisis Group rejects this and says the conflict is real.

"Hamas has very little interest in having Islamist challengers question its credentials."

Salafist jihadis are a tiny minority in Gaza. But as the dynamics of Palestinian politics shift in the coming months they maintain a limited potential to make themselves heard, either by launching rocket attacks on Israel to break the relative calm or by trying to challenge Hamas more directly.

Source :


Egypt: Suzanne Mubarak detained in corruption probe

Category: , By News Updater
Suzanne Mubarak will be held in a Cairo prison, Egypt's Mena news agency says.

Mrs Mubarak, 70, and her husband have been questioned over allegations of "illegal acquisition of wealth".

The former president, who held power for 30 years, stepped down in February after weeks of protests.

He has since been detained by Egypt's Illicit Gains Authority, on charges he abused his position to illegally acquire wealth. He is also accused of involvement in the killings of anti-regime protesters.

The 83-year-old is currently under arrest in a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, after suffering heart problems. His detention was extended by 15 days early on Friday morning.

The military council which has been in power since Mr Mubarak stepped down has vowed to bring to justice all those accused of corruption.

The former president, his wife, their two sons Alaa and Gamal and their wives have been banned from travel and had their assets frozen by general prosecutor Abdel Magid Mahmud.

More than 20 ministers and businessmen linked to Mr Mubarak's regime have been detained since his departure from office.

Last week, former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly was sentenced to 12 years in jail on charges of money-laundering and profiteering.

Adly also faces separate charges of ordering troops to fire on demonstrators. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

Obama: bin Laden had support network

Category: , By News Updater
WASHINGTON -- Osama bin Laden benefitted from "some sort of support network" inside Pakistan, President Barack Obama said in a Sunday broadcast interview, but he added it is not clear whether government officials knew the terrorist leader was living inside their country when U.S. commandos killed him in a raid last weekend.

"We don't know whether there might have been some people inside of government, people outside of government, and that's something that we have to investigate and, more importantly, the Pakistani government has to investigate," Obama said in an interview for CBS ( CBS - news - people )' "60 Minutes."

Bin Laden was living in a high-security compound in Abbottabad, a Pakistani city with a strong military presence, when U.S. Navy SEALs raided his compound in the middle of the night and killed him. The terrorist leader's body was quickly buried at sea.

The president made his comments as top administration officials and lawmakers rebutted calls for a cut-off in American aid to Pakistan, an inconstant ally in the long struggle against terrorists.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said: "Everybody has to understand that even in the getting of Osama bin Laden, the Pakistanis were helpful. We have people on the ground in Pakistan because they allow us to have them.

"We actually worked with them on certain parts of the intelligence that helped to lead to him, and they have been extraordinarily cooperative and at some political cost to them in helping us to take out 16 of the top 20 al-Qaida leaders with a drone program that we have in the western part of the country."

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Design Trend Seen in Royal Wedding Dress

Category: By News Updater

Prince William and Kate Middleton honor Diana’s memory

Category: By News Updater
Five months ago, when Prince William first announced to the world he’d given a ring to Kate Middleton, he made it clear that only one other woman mattered as much to him.

"It's my mother's engagement ring,” he told the press of the sapphire and diamond engagement heirloom. “Obviously she's not going to be around to share any of the fun and excitement of it all -- this was my way of keeping her close to it all."

During every step of their path down the aisle, Kate and William have made a point to keep Lady Diana’s memory alive. Today’s wedding was no exception. They recited their vows at the Westminster Abbey, the historic church where Diana’s memorial was held for 3 million mourners in 1997. Then, William was just a teenager, and his solemn march behind his mother’s coffin was in stark contrast to the beaming stride he took down the aisle today.

But the church itself wasn't the only reminder of Diana's parting. Bishop of London Richard Chartres, who also spoke at Diana's memorial, gave the wedding sermon. And during the musical portion of the ceremony, the first hymn sung was "Guide Me Thou, O Great Redeemer," the same song that concluded Di's funeral service and memorial service, 10 years after her death.

The focus wasn't only on Di's absence, but on the memory of her vibrant life. As Kate walked down the aisle in Alexander McQueen , every bit the breathtaking bride her mother-in-law was in 1981, she clutched a bouquet of Sweet William dotted with Lily of the Valley, a staple of Diana's wedding bouquet. And when it was time to say her vows, she again summoned Di’s independent spirit, by omitting the term “obey”. It was the one battle Diana Spencer picked when she agreed to marry Prince Charles. At the time, the break in tradition caused outrage among royal-watchers. Today it’s a testament to Di’s courage and trail-blazing choices.

Perhaps the biggest homage to Di’s legacy has been the subtle nods to lessons she taught both her immediate family and the royalty she’d forever be linked to. Diana’s tragic death, often blamed on a stalking paparazzi, may have influenced the couple and the royal court to keep their guard up with both paps and press during the wedding planning. When Di’s bridal dressmaker was announced, reporters famously rifled through the designer’s dumpsters hunting for information. Lesson learned, Kate kept her dress a secret despite pressure from media outlets and with souvenir factories at a standstill. It helped to have the firm backing of Clarence House, the royal press office, which closely guarded information in accordance to Will and Kate’s wishes. They’ve also accommodated the couple’s desire to have Diana’s favorite fashion photographer, Mario Testino, snap their engagement photo.

For Diana, whose outspoken voice was sometimes muffled by royal etiquette, fashion as a way to communicate with the public. Today, Carole, Kate's mother, stood in solidarity with her fellow mother-in-law. Her sky blue shantung dress was designed for the occasion by the house of Catherine Walker, Di's favorite designer. Walker, who died last year, designed at least 1,000 looks that defined Diana's style in her lifetime, including the black dress she was buried in.

Just skidding off of her teenage years, Diana became a figurehead the instant she said her vows. “At the age of 20 she has renounced forever spontaneity and privacy, freedom and independence, her red Mini Metro and her Chelsea apartment, past friendships and future intimacies other than those deemed appropriate for royal confidences,” a reporter wrote in the New York Times, the day after her July 29 nuptials. Both William and Kate, nearing the end of their 20s, were able to come into their own as individuals before they settle down with children, as they’re swiftly expected to do upon marriage. Their decision to wait, and to forge a 10-year bond, was no doubt a reaction to young Diana’s marital struggles which she claimed in Andrew Morton’s biography, started by “day two.”

For her wedding in 1981 Diana had little say in the guest list. But after her divorce, the people’s princess kept herself surrounded with a close-knit circle, some of them in attendance today, including dear friends Tessa Green and Elton John, who refashioned his song Candle in the Wind in her memory. John, along with over 1,000 other official guests, were asked by the couple to make charitable donations in lieu of gifts. Of all the bricks that built Diana’s legacy, her humanitarian work was a cornerstone.

Nine days ago, while the rest of the world fixated on every last detail of their impending nuptials, Will and Kate took a boat to his mother’s final resting place. The couple spent a quiet day at Lady Di’s remote burial site, and walking the grounds of the nearby arboretum where Will and Harry planted trees alongside their mother as boys. “It was very important for William to take Kate to visit his mum just before their wedding day," a royal insider told the Daily Mirror. “Diana is still a huge part of her boys' everyday life and always will be." This was particularly true today, as William bit his lip nervously, standing at the altar with his bride, just as his mother did on her wedding day. It was a reminder to the millions of viewers who've watched the prince become a man, he's still his mother's son.

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Royal wedding balcony kiss

Category: By News Updater

Royal Wedding: Reconciliation sealed with a ring

Category: By News Updater
The shared presence on the Buckingham Palace balcony of the Duchess of Cornwall and the engagement ring worn by William’s mother dispels memories of rift and retribution for ever, says Patrick Jephson.

What a day. To see and hear William and Catherine take their vows was a privilege made no less special by sharing it with an extended congregation of a billion or so. As a wedding production, this one surely scored as high marks for technical merit and artistic interpretation as any in Westminster Abbey’s history. With their own eternal beauty, the familiar words reached out to our hearts and in return our hearts reached out to the young couple whom, despite their familiarity, it was as if we now saw anew.

We can see other things anew as well. The enduring strength of the great institutions of Crown and Church, Parliament and the Armed Forces – all now visibly transferring to the care of the rising generation. And who could fail to see anew the debt we owe the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, whose presiding parental role gives a whole new meaning to the idea of growing old gracefully.

Grace was a word and a gift that kept coming to mind, especially when attention moved from the solemnity of the Abbey to the jubilation of the Mall. For the first time in nearly 20 years, Diana, Princess of Wales’s engagement ring returned to the Buckingham Palace balcony. To its lustrous blue eye, the view of cheering crowds must have been reassuringly familiar. Poignant, too, if you recall its first visit to this place. Looking slightly to its right, however, it would have spotted something new and probably – in that location – rather bewildering: the distinctive silhouette of the Duchess of Cornwall, elegant in cream and aqua.

The symbolism is as deafening as the roar of yesterday’s immaculate fly-past. The mother whose name has seldom been heard in polite royal circles for half of William’s lifetime is now back on the approved list. Even more firmly on the approved list, and in a more substantive form, is his stepmother. For those who like their gestures nice and clear, yesterday saw both women publicly reconciled in a way that brings nothing but credit to William and his bride.

A big family occasion is a great opportunity for such healing initiatives. We can guess that few will have been more pleased than the new Duchess of Cambridge. Her experience as a child in a happy family will surely bring sunshine to the sometimes gloomy palace corridors that are now part of her world. The Windsors have a not entirely undeserved reputation for nursing grudges – sometimes even against their in-laws. So if his wife has helped William demonstrate the benefits of reconciliation, then everyone – but mostly he – can be the happier for it.

Of course, reconciliations seldom take root unless the original perceived offence has been purged. An honest acknowledgement of past failings is essential. After all, if bygones really are going to be bygones, it helps to have some agreement about what’s to be sent to life’s great compost heap of expended emotion.

I remember a fraught afternoon in Diana’s cheerfully cluttered, flower-scented sitting room. It was late 1995, more than three years after her formal separation from the Prince of Wales. William and Harry were at boarding school. The matter under discussion was anything but happy.

With a look I had come to dread – partly truculent and partly apprehensive – my boss was waiting for my reaction to the bombshell she had just exploded in my overcrowded brain: she had secretly recorded an interview for Panorama. It was going to clear the air, set the record straight and generally put us on the path to a less complicated future. And I was not to worry.

But I did worry. I also tried to find the right words to persuade her that an olive branch might be a better offering than what I guessed would be a one-sided repetition of past grievances. The moral authority she would have gained from such a self-assured and magnanimous coup would have scored a knock-out in the unedifying contest for public sympathy in which she and her husband seemed permanently trapped.

She was not to be persuaded – or perhaps I just didn’t find the right words. Instead of reconciliation, a conclusive twist was added to the downward spiral of relations with her in-laws. For the remainder of her life, she moved inexorably away from the royal structure which, for all its faults, was always reliably protective.

Protection, we can be sure, is what William wants for his vulnerable new bride. Protection especially from the unhappiness, he must feel, that was so avoidably piled on his mother’s slender shoulders. Since the cornerstone of such protection will be a secure marriage – in which success and failure are experiences to be shared rather than triggers for distrust – much of the responsibility will lie in his hands.

An even-handed and relentlessly polite relationship with the media will be the best protection against the dangerous illusion that the press are an enemy to be bested at every turn. The extent and tone of media coverage of this event should remind us of its power to unite as well as divide.

Protection from physical harm doesn’t need any elaboration, except to remember that Scotland Yard’s finest are better than any alternative – a point well underlined by yesterday’s faultless security operation.

Protection from the loneliness of the royal road and from the corrosive search for “relevance” is best secured through a consistent programme of low-key hard work, with all the job satisfaction that royal status can unlock.

Most important is to find protection from the self-doubt that seems an inevitable by-product of being – even theoretically – always in the right. The adulation that’s just been ramped up 10 notches by the wedding can play havoc with the most seasoned public figure’s sense of proportion. The best protection might often be found in remembering that a moment of royal humility can achieve more than a week of icy royal looks. It really is better to be loved than feared. Without that regular acquaintance with humility, there’s little chance of seizing those all-important reconciliation opportunities.

Even if only in the form of an engagement ring, William’s mother has sealed reconciliation with the woman she had reason to hold responsible for her cruelly dashed marriage expectations. In the words of William and Catherine’s own prayer, there could be little better example of “what is real and important in life” than this evidence of grace. That William has had the courage and wisdom to heal such a wound perhaps promises more for his eventual reign than anything else we saw in the wedding celebrations.

India beat Pakistan, face Sri Lanka in Mumbai on Saturday

Category: By News Updater
India beat Pakistan by 29 runs on Wednesday to set-up a World Cup final against Sri Lanka in Mumbai on Saturday.

Pakistan, chasing 261 for victory, were dismissed for 231 in the face of a disciplined effort by India under the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium floodlights.

India's 260 for nine, after winning the toss, was built around Sachin Tendulkar's 85.

But they might have made considerably less had not the 'Little Master' been dropped four times in an innings that still left him one short of a hundred international hundreds.

Left-arm fast bowler Wahab Riaz led Pakistan's attack with career-best figures of five for 46.

India's victory meant they'd won all five of their World Cup matches against arch-rivals Pakistan and kept alive the 37-year-old Tendulkar's dream of lifting the trophy for the first time in his illustrious career.

Brief scores

India 260-9 (Sachin Tendulkar 85; Wahab Riaz 5-46) v Pakistan 231 all out in 49.5 overs (Misbah-ul-Haq 56, Mohammad Hafeez 43)

India won by 29 runs

India vs. Sri Lanka world cup 2011 final on Saturday


Cricket World Cup - India beat Pakistan to reach final

Category: By News Updater
ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 semi-final, Mohali:
India 260-9 (50 overs) bt Pakistan 231 by 29 runs (49.5 overs)

India booked a place against Sri Lanka in Saturday's World Cup final after beating Pakistan by 29 runs in Mohali.

Virender Sehwag (38) hit nine fours and Sachin Tendulkar, reprieved by referral and dropped four times, looked set for his 100th international century.

He was out for 85 from 115 balls as India compiled 260-9, left-arm seamer Wahab Riaz with a career-best 5-46.

Mohammad Hafeez struck 43 and Misbah-ul-Haq made a defiant 56 but Pakistan were all out for 231 in the final over.

With tickets reportedly exchanging hands for many thousands of rupees, an estimated 28,000 packed into the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium and every possible vantage point outside the ground taken, a match of such magnitude between the fierce rivals deserved to be a classic encounter.

Misbah had played a curiously subdued innings, with his first 27 taking 52 balls, and though he hit two fours and a six in six deliveries 30 were needed from the final over and India justified their decision to field three seamers by defending a relatively modest total.

The start of the India innings after they opted to bat on a pitch showing tinges of green saw Tendulkar overshadowed by the remarkable Sehwag.

With precise clips off his legs and sweetly-struck drives, Sehwag struck five fours in an over from the wayward Umar Gul and had amassed 38 by the end of the fifth over.

But he was lbw trying to turn one from Riaz to leg and as India reached 50, Tendulkar's innings was still in its infancy with eight to his name from only 11 balls faced.

He soon demonstrated some exquisite timing as a defensive flick raced through mid-on for four, before he was given out lbw on 23 to the spin of Saeed Ajmal.

Umpire Ian Gould's decision looked perfectly correct as Tendulkar was hit playing across the line but under review the ball tracking system indicated it was turning down the leg-side sufficiently to miss the stumps, and to the great delight of the vast majority of the crowd the decision was overturned.

There was an appeal for a stumping next ball which was also rejected after a replay, while the first drop occurred with Tendulkar on 27 when Misbah-ul-Haq failed to cling on diving to his right at mid-wicket.

The India 100 came up in the 16th over but Pakistan began to slowly claw their way back, Gautam Gambhir deceived in flight by Mohammad Hafeez and stumped.

Inexplicably Younus Khan spilled a routine chance at extra-cover with Tendulkar on 45 and the opener duly completed his 95th one-day international half century by taking the aerial route safely over the cover fielders for his eighth four.

Left-armer Riaz soon brought Pakistan firmly back in the contest with wickets in successive balls to restrict India to 141-4, Virat Kohli mis-timing straight to point and Yuvraj Singh bowled first ball by a low, late-swinging full toss.

Tendulkar saw a thick edge brush the gloves of Kamran when on 70 to the exasperation of the ever demonstrative Afridi, who went wicketless for the first time in the tournament.

Then on 81 Umar Akmal spurned another opportunity, parrying the chance at mid-on in the style of a goalkeeper pushing the ball over the crossbar, with spinner Hafeez making a few choice observations on the error.

But 15 short of the landmark Tendulkar drove to extra-cover where Afridi made no mistake, and the run-rate soon dropped below five for the first time since the end of the second over.

Dhoni has now gone 13 innings without an ODI fifty and his sedentary 25 from 42 balls bore no resemblance to Sehwag's innings apart from the manner of dismissal, an attempted turn to leg off left-armer Riaz.

Three fours were taken in an over from Gul, whose eight overs cost 69, but Pakistan would surely have expected their required rate to be substantially more than 5.20.

Understandably their openers were not able to match Sehwag's rate of scoring but they utilised the fast outfield and had three boundaries apiece after seven overs before Kamran cut to point.

The crowd had been subdued by Pakistan's assured start but they were revived when Hafeez attempted a reckless 'Dilscoop,' trying to work to leg from well wide of off-stump and feathering a catch to wicketkeeper Dhoni.

Almost seven overs had elapsed without a boundary when Asad Shafiq, having calmly accumulated 30, lost his middle stump trying to cut Yuvraj slow left-armers and with the rate rising above six the match was in the melting pot.

Younus survived a missed stumping in Yuvraj's next over but three balls later drove tamely to extra-cover.

Timing began to look difficult on the slow surface under the numerous low floodlights dotted around the ground but Umar hit a four over cover and a pull for six off Yuvraj, the first boundaries for 12 overs, to reduce the requirement to 131 from 20 overs.

A six over the sightscreen from Umar saw the crowd go quiet again but from the first ball after the drinks break Harbhajan Singh struck a key blow with a quicker ball from around the wicket that straightened and breached his defences.

Dangerman Abdul Razzaq was dismissed cheaply by a cutter from Munaf Patel and though Afridi made a quickfire 19 to leave 77 needed from 50, he sliced a Harbhajan full toss to cover.

Misbah's brief late burst of hitting proved in vain and now attention turns to an enticing final in Mumbai, which will feature Tendulkar on his home ground seeking to record that 100th hundred against Sri Lanka's own talisman, Muttiah Muralitharan.



India vs Pakistan - Odds favour India 58:42

Category: By News Updater
As the thrill in two countries reached fever pitch and the tension rose to near-paralysing levels, Team India turned for inspiration to the man who has never seen defeat in a World Cup game against Pakistan for close to two decades now.

On the eve of the semifinal in Mohali, India’s mental conditioning coach Paddy Upton took the back seat, and the task of delivering the team talk fell on Sachin Tendulkar.
The veteran of six World Cups during which India have got the better of Pakistan in four games probably sensed it would be counterproductive to dwell for too long on the obvious significance of the match ahead.

Sources close to the team said Sachin Tendulkar’s talk was short but very effective. He essentially asked the boys to be calm and to stick to their natural game.

“He went back to the 2003 group game at Centurion. He spoke about how he had refused to fall into the short ball trap that the Pakistani quicks Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar had laid for him, and instead played his natural game,” said a source. Sachin Tendulkar smashed 98 off 75 balls as India chased down Pakistan’s 273 with six wickets and over four overs to spare.

Japan's quake toll set to exceed 1,000, world offers

Category: , , By News Updater
TOKYO (Reuters) - A devastating tsunami triggered by the biggest earthquake on record in Japan looked set to kill at least 1,000 people along the northeastern coast on Friday after a wall of water swept away everything in its path.

Thousands of residents were evacuated from an area around a nuclear plant after radiation levels rose in the reactor, but there was no word on whether there had actually been a leak.

Underscoring grave concerns about the Fukushima plant some 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. air force had delivered coolant to avert a rise in the temperature of the facility's nuclear rods.

The unfolding disaster in the wake of the 8.9 magnitude earthquake and 10-meter (33-feet) high tsunami prompted offers of help from dozens of countries.

China said rescuers were ready to help with quake relief while President Barack Obama told Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan the United State would assist in any way.

Stunning TV footage showed a muddy torrent of water carrying cars and wrecked homes at high speed across farmland near the coastal city of Sendai, home to one million people and which lies 300 km (180 miles) northeast of Tokyo. Ships had been flung onto a harbor wharf, where they lay helplessly on their side.

Boats, cars and trucks were tossed around like toys in the water after a small tsunami hit the town of Kamaichi in northern Japan. An overpass, location unknown, appeared to have collapsed and cars were turning around and speeding away. Japanese politicians pushed for an emergency budget to fund relief efforts after Kan asked them to "save the country," Kyodo news agency reported. Japan is already the most heavily indebted major economy in the world, meaning any funding efforts would be closely scrutinized by financial markets.

Domestic media said the death toll was expected to exceed 1,000, most of whom appeared to have drowned.

The extent of the destruction along a lengthy stretch of coastline suggested the death toll could rise significantly.

Tsunami warnings were issued across the Pacific but were later lifted for some of the most populated countries in the region, including Australia, Taiwan and New Zealand.

Even in a nation accustomed to earthquakes, the devastation was shocking.

"A big area of Sendai city near the coast, is flooded. We are hearing that people who were evacuated are stranded," said Rie Sugimoto, a reporter for NHK television in Sendai.

"About 140 people, including children, were rushed to an elementary school and are on the rooftop but they are surrounded by water and have nowhere else to go."

Japan has prided itself on its speedy tsunami warning system, which has been upgraded several times since its inception in 1952, including after a 7.8 magnitude quake triggered a 30-meter high wave before a warning was given.

The country has also built countless breakwaters and floodgates to protect ports and coastal areas, although experts said they might not have been enough to prevent disasters such as what happened on Friday.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told people to stay in safe places as the cold deepened into the night. "Please help each other and act calmly," he told a news conference.

In Tokyo, residents who had earlier fled swaying buildings jammed the streets trying to make their way home after much of the city's public transportation was halted.

Many subways in Tokyo later resumed operation but trains did not run. People who decided not to walk home slept in office buildings.

"I was unable stay on my feet because of the violent shaking. The aftershocks gave us no reprieve. Then the tsunamis came when we tried to run for cover. It was the strongest quake I experienced," a woman with a baby on her back told television in northern Japan.


The quake, the most powerful since Japan started keeping records 140 years ago, sparked at least 80 fires in cities and towns along the coast, Kyodo said.

Other Japanese nuclear power plants and oil refineries were shut down and one refinery was ablaze. Television footage showed an intense fire in the waterfront area near Sendai.

Auto plants, electronics factories and refineries shut, roads buckled and power to millions of homes and businesses was knocked out. Several airports, including Tokyo's Narita, were closed and rail services halted. All ports were shut.

The central bank said it would cut short a two-day policy review scheduled for next week to one day on Monday and promised to do its utmost to ensure financial market stability.

The disaster occurred as the world's third-largest economy had been showing signs of reviving from an economic contraction in the final quarter of last year. The disaster raised the prospect of major disruptions for many key businesses and a massive repair bill running into tens of billions of dollars.

The tsunami alerts revived memories of the giant waves which struck Asia in 2004.

Warnings were issued for countries to the west of Japan and across the Pacific as far away as Colombia and Peru, but the tsunami dissipated as it sped across the ocean and worst fears in the Americas were not realized.

The earthquake was the fifth most powerful to hit the world in the past century.

"The building shook for what seemed a long time and many people in the newsroom grabbed their helmets and some got under their desks," Reuters correspondent Linda Sieg said in Tokyo. "It was probably the worst I have felt since I came to Japan more than 20 years ago."

The quake surpasses the Great Kanto quake of September 1, 1923, which had a magnitude of 7.9 and killed more than 140,000 people in the Tokyo area.

The 1995 Kobe quake caused $100 billion in damage and was the most expensive natural disaster in history. Economic damage from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was estimated at about $10 billion.

Earthquakes are common in Japan, one of the world's most seismically active areas. (Writing by Dean Yates; Editing by John Chalmers; Singapore +65 6870 3815)


Japan Earthquake and Tsunami: Pictures & Videos

Category: , By News Updater
Japan, Today was hit by a massive 8.9 earthquake. It triggered a tsunami which hit the coastal areas. The quake hit the Northeastern part of the country.

Strong tremors shook buildings in the capital Tokyo. Tsunami warnings have been sounded across the Pacific region- New Zealand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea,Hawaii, and others.


Major tsunami damage in North Japan after 8.9 quake

Category: , , By Seetha
A magnitude 8.9 earthquake slammed Japan's eastern coast Friday, unleashing a 13-foot (4-meter) tsunami that swept boats, cars, buildings and tons of debris miles inland. Fires triggered by the quake burned out of control up and down the coast, including one at an oil refinery.

At least one person was killed and there were reports of several injuries in Tokyo, hundreds of miles (kilometers) away, where buildings shook violently through the main quake and the wave of massive aftershocks that followed. A tsunami warning was issued for dozens of Pacific countries, as far away as Chile.

Japan's meteorological agency said that within two hours, large tsunamis washed ashore into dozens of cities along a 1,300-mile (2,100-kilometer) stretch of the country's eastern shore — from the northern island of Hokkaido to central Wakayama prefecture.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the quake caused "major damage in broad areas" but nuclear power plants in the area were not affected. The government prepared to send troops to the quake-hit areas.

"This is a rare major quake, and damages could quickly rise by the minute," said Junichi Sawada, an official with Japan's Fire and Disaster Management Agency.

TV footage showed waves of muddy waters sweeping over farmland near the city of Sendai, carrying buildings, some on fire, inland as cars attempted to drive away. Sendai airport, north of Tokyo, was inundated with cars, trucks, buses and thick mud deposited over its runways. Fires spread through a section of the city, public broadcaster NHK reported.

The tsunami also roared over embankments in Sendai city, washing cars, houses and farm equipment inland before reversing directions and carrying them out to sea. Flames shot from some of the houses, probably because of burst gas pipes.

Elsewhere, large fishing boats lay upturned on land, some distance from the sea.

Officials were trying to assess damage, injuries and deaths but had no immediate details. Police said at least one person was killed in a house collapse in Ibaraki prefecture, just northeast of Tokyo.

A large fire erupted at the Cosmo oil refinery in Ichihara city in Chiba prefecture near Tokyo and was burning out of control with 100-foot (30 meter) -high flames whipping into the sky.

NHK showed footage of a large ship being swept away by the tsunami and ramming directly into a breakwater in Kesennuma city in Miyagi prefecture.

In various locations along the coast, footage showed massive damage from the tsunami, with cars, boats and even buildings being carried along by waters. Partially submerged vehicles were seen bobbing in the water.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was a magnitude 8.9, while Japan's meteorological agency measured it at 8.4. It struck at 2:46 p.m. and was followed by 12 powerful aftershocks, seven of them at least 6.3, the size of the quake that struck New Zealand recently.

A tsunami warning was extended to a number of Pacific, Southeast Asian and Latin American nations, including Japan, Russia, Indonesia, New Zealand and Chile. In the Philippines, authorities said they expect a 3-foot (1-meter) high tsunami.

The quake struck at a depth of six miles (10 kilometers), about 80 miles (125 kilometers) off the eastern coast, the agency said. The area is 240 miles (380 kilometers) northeast of Tokyo.

In downtown Tokyo, large buildings shook violently and workers poured into the street for safety. TV footage showed a large building on fire and bellowing smoke in the Odaiba district of Tokyo.

Several nuclear plants along the coast were partially shut down, but there were no reports of any radioactive leakage.

In central Tokyo, trains were stopped and passengers walked along the tracks to platforms. NHK said more than 4 million buildings were without power in Tokyo and its suburbs.

The ceiling in Kudan Kaikan, a large hall in Tokyo, collapsed, injuring an unknown number of people, NHK said.

Osamu Akiya, 46, was working in Tokyo at his office in a trading company when the quake hit.

It sent bookshelves and computers crashing to the floor, and cracks appeared in the walls.

"I've been through many earthquakes, but I've never felt anything like this," he said. "I don't know if we'll be able to get home tonight."

Footage on NHK from their Sendai office showed employees stumbling around and books and papers crashing from desks. It also showed a glass shelter at a bus stop in Tokyo completely smashed by the quake and a weeping woman nearby being comforted by another woman.

Several quakes had hit the same region in recent days, including a 7.3 magnitude one on Wednesday.

Thirty minutes after the main quake, tall buildings were still swaying in Tokyo and mobile phone networks were not working. Japan's Coast Guard has set up a task force and officials are standing by for emergency contingencies, Coast Guard official Yosuke Oi said.

"I'm afraid we'll soon find out about damages, since the quake was so strong," he said.

In Tokyo, hundreds of people were evacuated from Shinjuku train station, the world's busiest, to a nearby park. Trains were halted.

Tokyo's main airport was closed. A large section of the ceiling at the 1-year-old airport at Ibaraki, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northeast of Tokyo, fell to the floor with a powerful crash.

Dozens of fires were reported in northern prefectures of Fukushima, Sendai, Iwate and Ibaraki. Collapsed homes and landslides were also reported in Miyagi.

Japan's worst previous quake was in 1923 in Canto, which killed 143,000 people, according to USGS. An earthquake in Kobe city in 1996 killed 5,502 people.



Rest of Asia Huge tsunami slams coastal Japan after 8.9 magnitude quake

Category: , By Echo
The biggest earthquake to hit Japan in 140 years struck the northeast coast on Friday, triggering a 10-metre tsunami that swept away everything in its path, including houses, cars and farm buildings on fire, media and witnesses said.

At least one person was killed in Fukushima prefecture, north of Tokyo where four million homes were without power. The 8.9 magnitude quake caused many injuries, public broadcaster NHK said, sparked fires and the wall of water, prompting warnings to people to move to higher ground in coastal areas. Some news agencies have reported three deaths until now.

The Philippines, Taiwan and Indonesia all issued tsunami alerts, reviving memories of the giant tsunami which struck Asia in 2004. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued alerts for countries as far away as Colombia and Peru.

There were several strong aftershocks. In the capital Tokyo, buildings shook violently. An oil refinery near Tokyo was on fire, with dozens of storage tanks under threat.

"I was terrified and I'm still frightened," said Hidekatsu Hata, 36, manager of a Chinese noodle restaurant in Tokyo's Akasaka area. "I've never experienced such a big quake before."

TV pictures showed the tsunami carrying the debris and fires across a large swathe of coastal farmland near the city of Sendai, which has a population of one million. The pictures suggested the death toll was going to rise.

NHK showed flames and black smoke billowing from a building in Odaiba, a Tokyo suburb, and bullet trains to the north of the country were halted.

Black smoke was also pouring out of an industrial area in Yokohama's Isogo area. TV footage showed boats, cars and trucks floating in water after a small tsunami hit the town of Kamaichi in northern Japan. An overpass, location unknown, appeared to have collapsed into the water.

Kyodo news agency said there were reports of fires in Sendai where waves carried cars across the runway at the airport. The western prefecture of Wakayama ordered 20,000 people to evacuate after further tsunami warnings.

"The building shook for what seemed a long time and many people in the newsroom grabbed their helmets and some got under their desks," Reuters correspondent Linda Sieg said in Tokyo. "It was probably the worst I have felt since I came to Japan more than 20 years ago."

Great Kanto Quake

The quake was the biggest in 140 years. It surpasses the Great Kanto quake of Sept. 1, 1923, which had a magnitude of 7.9, killed more than 140,000 people in the Tokyo area. Seismologists had said another such quake could strike the city any time. The 1995 Kobe quake caused $100 billion in damage and was the most expensive natural disaster in history. Economic damage from the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was estimated at about $10 billion.

The Tokyo stock market extended losses after the quake. The central bank said it would do everything to ensure financial stability.

Passengers on a subway line in Tokyo screamed and grabbed other passengers' hands during the quake. The shaking was so bad it was hard to stand, said Reuters reporter Mariko Katsumura.

Hundreds of office workers and shoppers spilled into Hitotsugi street, a shopping street in Akasaka in downtown Tokyo. Household goods ranging from toilet paper to clingfilm were flung into the street from outdoor shelves in front of a drugstore.

Crowds gathered in front of televisions in a shop next to the drugstore for details. After the shaking from the first quake subsided, crowds were watching and pointing to construction cranes on an office building up the street with voices saying, "They're still shaking!", "Are they going to fall?"

Asagi Machida, 27, a web designer in Tokyo, sprinted from a coffee shop when the quake hit.

"The images from the New Zealand earthquake are still fresh in my mind so I was really scared. I couldn't believe such a big earthquake was happening in Tokyo."

The US Geological Survey earlier verified a magnitude of 7.9 at a depth of 15.1 miles and located the quake 81 miles east of Sendai, on the main island of Honshu. It later upgraded it to 8.9.

A police car drove down Hitotsugi Street, lights flashing, announcing through a bullhorn that there was still a danger of shaking.

Japan's northeast Pacific coast, called Sanriku, has suffered from quakes and tsunamis in the past and a 7.2 quake struck on Wednesday. In 1933, a magnitude 8.1 quake in the area killed more than 3,000 people. Last year fishing facilities were damaged after by a tsunami caused by a strong tremor in Chile.

Earthquakes are common in Japan, one of the world's most seismically active areas. The country accounts for about 20 percent of the world's earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.


Japan Earthquake: Magnitude 7.3 Earthquake Hits Japan's Northeastern Coast

Category: , By Echo

A magnitude 7.3 earthquake hit off Japan's northeastern coast Wednesday, shaking buildings hundreds of miles away in Tokyo and triggering a small tsunami. There were no immediate reports of significant damage or injuries.

The quake struck at 11:45 a.m. local time and was centered about 90 miles (150 kilometers) off the northeastern coast – about 270 miles (440 kilometers) northeast of Tokyo – at a depth of about 5 miles (8 kilometers), Japan's meteorological agency said.

A 24-inch (60-centimeter) tsunami reached the coastal town of Ofunato, in Iwate prefecture, with other towns reporting smaller waves reaching shore about 30 minutes after the quake.

"We have confirmed that small tsunami have come up on the shores, but we have no reports of damage at this point," said Shinobu Nagano, an emergency and disaster response official in Iwate. "We are still trying to determine the impact of the quake."

Some train lines in the area were temporarily stopped after the quake, but they were restarted shortly after noon. Tohoku Electric Power said there was no damage at its nuclear power facility in the region.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said a Pacific-wide tsunami was not expected.

There was a 6.3 magnitude aftershock shortly after the main quake, the meteorological agency said.

In Tokyo, office buildings swayed and creaked for about 30 seconds during the quake.

Japan lies on the "Ring of Fire" – an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones that stretches around the Pacific Rim and where about 90 percent of the world's quakes occur.


Earthquake hits northeast Japan

Category: By Seetha
A strong earthquake triggered a small tsunami along Japan's northeastern coast Wednesday and shook buildings hundreds of miles away in Tokyo. There were no immediate reports of significant damage or injuries.

Some train lines in the northeastern prefecture of Iwate were temporarily stopped after the magnitude 7.3 quake, but they were restarted shortly after. Tohoku Electric Power said there was no damage at its nuclear power facility in the region.

A 24-inch (60-centimeter) tsunami reached the coastal town of Ofunato and other towns reported smaller waves reached shore about 30 minutes after the quake, which occurred at 11:45 a.m.

It was centered about 90 miles (150 kilometers) off the northeastern coast at a depth of about five miles (eight kilometers), Japan's meteorological agency said.

"We have confirmed that small tsunami have come up on the shores, but we have no reports of damage at this point," said Shinobu Nagano, an emergency and disaster response official in Iwate. "We are still trying to determine the impact of the quake."

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said a Pacific-wide tsunami was not expected.

In Tokyo — about 270 miles (440 kilometers) from the epicenter — office buildings swayed and creaked for about 30 seconds.

There was a 6.3 magnitude aftershock shortly after the main quake, the meteorological agency said.

Japan lies on the "Ring of Fire" — an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones that stretches around the Pacific Rim and where about 90 percent of the world's quakes occur.

In 1933, about 3,000 people were killed around Ofunato by an earthquake and tsunami that had a maximum wave height of 94 feet (28 meters), according to the U.S. Geological Survey. In 1896, a magnitude 8.5 earthquake generated a tsunami that killed 27,000 people in the area.

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Telecom Regulatory Authority of India(TRAI) has issued new SMS guidelines.As per which all telecom service providers are required to remove all SMS packs which provide more than 100 SMS per day.This will come into effect from 1st March 2011.Now those who have the habbit of sending more than 100 SMS per day will have to restrict yourself to 100 SMS or you will have to take new connection and do SMS offer in that for sending the rest for free.Otherwise you will be charged for every SMS you send after the first 100 SMS.In short you will not be allowed to sent more than a 100 SMS each day using SMS offers.TRAI has taken this decision because of the growing number of Unsolicited Commercial Communications ( promotional SMS and Calls).However, in order to curb such messages, TRAI has given direction that no Access Providers shall provide any SMS packages in any form (through voucher, student pack, seasonal pack etc) permitting sending of more than 100 SMS per day per SIM.Any way this decision will be a extremely bad news for heavy texters.


Booker T. Washington

Category: By News Updater

This 1894 file photo shows Booker T. Washington. The famous ex-slave was a boy when Emancipation came to his Virginia plantation. He had been called only “Booker” until enrolling in school. “When the teacher asked me what my full name was, I calmly told him, ‘Booker Washington,’” he wrote in his autobiography, “Up from Slavery.” George Washington's name is inseparable from America, and not only from the nation's history. It identifies countless streets, buildings, mountains, bridges, monuments, cities — and people. In a puzzling twist, most of these people are black. The 2000 U.S. Census counted 163,036 people with the surname Washington. Ninety percent of them were African-American, a far higher black percentage than for any other common name.… Read more

Gadhafi hold whittled away as Libya revolt spreads

Category: By Seetha
BENGHAZI, Libya – The scope of Moammar Gadhafi's control was whittled away Wednesday as major Libyan cities and towns closer to the capital fell to the rebellion against his rule. In the east, now all but broken away, the opposition vowed to "liberate" Tripoli, where the Libyan leader is holed up with a force of militiamen roaming the streets and tanks guarding the outskirts.

In a further sign of Gadhafi's faltering hold, two air force pilots — one from the leader's own tribe — parachuted out of their warplane and let it crash into the eastern Libyan desert rather than follow orders to bomb an opposition-held city.

International momentum was building for action to punish Gadhafi's regime for the bloody crackdown it has unleashed against the uprising that began Feb. 15.

President Barack Obama said the suffering and bloodshed in Libya "is outrageous and it is unacceptable," and he directed his administration to prepare a full range of options, including possible sanctions that could freeze the assets and ban travel to the U.S. by Libyan officials.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy raised the possibility of the European Union cutting off economic ties.

Another proposal gaining some traction was for the United Nations to declare a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent it using warplanes to hit protesters. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that if reports of such strikes are confirmed, "there's an immediate need for that level of protection."

Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said estimates of some 1,000 people killed in the violence in Libya were "credible," although he stressed information about casualties was incomplete. The New York-based Human Rights Watch has put the death toll at nearly 300, according to a partial count.

In Tripoli, Gadhafi's stronghold, protest organizers called for new rallies Thursday and Friday, raising the potential for a more bloody confrontation.

AP/Lefteris Poitarakis

Militiamen and Gadhafi supporters — a mix of Libyans and foreign African fighters bused in — roamed the capital's main streets, called up Tuesday night by the Libyan leader in a fist-pounding speech in which he vowed to fight to the death. The gunmen fired weapons in the air, chanting "Long live Gadhafi," and waved green flags. With a steady rain, streets were largely empty, residents said.

In many neighborhoods, residents set up watch groups to keep militiamen out, barricading streets with concrete blocks, metal and rocks, and searching those trying to enter, a Tripoli activist said.

Gadhafi's residence at Tripoli's Aziziya Gates was guarded by loyalists along with a line of armed militiamen in vehicles, some masked, he said. The radio station building downtown was also heavily fortified. In one western neighborhood, security forces stormed several homes and arrested three or four people, a witness said, while tanks were deployed on the eastern outskirts, witnesses in at least one neighborhood said.

"Mercenaries are everywhere with weapons. You can't open a window or door. Snipers hunt people," said another resident, who said she had spent the night in her home awake hearing gunfire outside. "We are under siege, at the mercy of a man who is not a Muslim."

But below the surface, protesters were organizing, said the activist. At night, they fan out and spray-paint anti-Gadhafi graffiti or set fires near police stations, chanting, "The people want the ouster of the regime," before running at the approach of militiamen, he said. The Tripoli residents, like other witnesses around the country, spoke on condition of anonymity because of fear of retaliation.

In opposition-controlled Benghazi, the eastern city where the uprising began, residents held a mass rally outside the city's main courthouse, vowing to support protests in the capital, said Farag al-Warfali, a banker. They also called a one-day fast in solidarity with them. Afterward, young men went into the courthouse to register to obtain weapons, which had been looted from police stations and military bases and then turned over to the city's new rulers, he said.

The idea is to "take their weapons and march toward Tripoli," al-Warfali said, although Benghazi lies 580 miles (940 kilometers) east of the capital, and territory still loyal to Gadhafi lies between them.

There were similar calls in Misrata — several hours' drive from Tripoli, the closest major city to the capital to fall to anti-government forces. A mosque called residents to come to "jihad," or holy war, in support of the anti-Gadhafi camp, said one resident, Iman.

"We are going to join forces with our brothers in Tripoli," she said.

The extent of Gadhafi's control over the country he has ruled for 41 years had been reduced to the western coastal region around Tripoli, the deserts to the south and parts of the center.

After Gadhafi's speech Tuesday night, militiamen flooded into Sabratha, a town west of Tripoli famed for nearby ancient Roman ruins, and battled government opponents who had taken over, said one resident. Around 5,000 militiamen from neighboring towns, backed by army and police units, clashed with the rival group and drove them from the streets, he said.

But his territory was being eroded.

The opposition said Wednesday it had taken over Misrata, Libya's third-largest city.

Residents honked horns in celebration and raised the pre-Gadhafi flags of the Libyan monarchy after several days of fighting that drove militiamen from the city, about 120 miles (200 kilometers) east of Tripoli, said Faraj al-Misrati, a local doctor. He said six people had been killed and 200 wounded in clashes that began Feb. 18.

Residents had formed committees to clean the streets, protect the city and treat the wounded, he said. "The solidarity among the people here is amazing, even the disabled are helping out."

An audio statement posted on the Internet reportedly from armed forces officers in Misrata proclaimed "our total support" for the anti-Gadhafi movement.

New videos posted by Libya's opposition on Facebook also showed scores of anti-government protesters raising the pre-Gadhafi flag on a building in Zawiya, 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Tripoli. The city is located near a key oil port and refineries on the Mediterranean. The footage couldn't be independently confirmed.

Government opponents were also in control in Zwara, a town about 30 miles (50 kilometers) from the Tunisian border in the west, after local army units sided with them and police fled, said one resident, a 25-year-old unemployed university graduate. "This man (Gadhafi) has reached the point that he's saying he will bring armies from Africa. That means he is isolated," he said.

Gadhafi long kept his army weak and divided for fear of challenge, so in the fierce crackdown his regime has waged on the uprising, he has relied on militia groups, beefed up by fighters hired abroad. Meanwhile, army units in many places have sided with the rebellion.

On Wednesday, two air force pilots jumped from parachutes from their Russian-made Sukhoi fighter jet and let it crash, rather than carry out orders to bomb opposition-held Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city, the website Qureyna reported, citing an unidentified officer in the air force control room.

One of the pilots — identified by the report as Ali Omar Gadhafi — was from Gadhafi's tribe, the Gadhadhfa, said Farag al-Maghrabi, who saw the pilots and the wreckage of the jet, which crashed in the desert outside the key oil port of Breqa, about 440 miles (710 kilometers) east of Tripoli.

The anti-Gadhafi forces and the mutinous army units that have joined them were consolidating their hold on nearly the entire eastern half of the 1,000-mile Mediterranean coastline, stretching from the Egyptian border to Ajdabiya, about 480 miles (800 kilometers) east of Tripoli, encroaching on key oil fields around the Gulf of Sidra.

Across their territory, they have been setting up their own administrations. In many places, committees organized by residents, tribes and mutinous army officers were governing, often collecting weapons looted from pro-Gadhafi troops to prevent chaos.

"There is now an operating room for the militaries of all the liberated cities and they are trying to convince the others to join them," said Lt. Col. Omar Hamza, an army officer who had allied with the rebels in Tobruk. "They are trying to help the people in Tripoli to capture Gadhafi."

At the Egyptian border, guards had fled, and local tribal elders have formed local committees to take their place. "Welcome to the new Libya," proclaimed graffiti spray-painted at the crossing. Fawzy Ignashy, a former soldier now in civilian clothes at the border, said that early in the uprising, some commanders ordered troops to fire on protesters, but tribal leaders stepped in and ordered them to stop.

"They did because they were from here. So the officers fled," he said.

A defense committee of residents was even guarding one of Gadhafi's once highly secretive anti-aircraft missile bases outside Tobruk. "This is the first time I've seen missiles like these up close," said Abdelsalam al-Gedani, one of the guards, dressed in an overcoat and carrying a Kalashnikov rifle.

International alarm has risen over the crisis, and is sending oil prices soaring and European and other countries scrambling to get their citizens out of Libya. Oil prices hit $100 per barrel for the first time since 2008. Libya is the world's 15th largest exporter of crude, accounting for 2 percent of global daily output. Traders are worried the revolt could threaten Libya's oil production and spread to other countries in the region.

Passengers arriving in Malta, a short flight away from Libya, described chaos and violence at Tripoli's airport, with desperate people pushing and shoving to get onto the few flights taking off Wednesday.

"One of my fellow passengers was actually beaten up quite heavily and kicked on," said Steffan Arnersten, a 42-year-old Swede who works as a managing director at a technical consulting company.

The U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting that ended with a statement condemning the crackdown, expressing "grave concern" and calling for an "immediate end to the violence" and steps to address the legitimate demands of the Libyan people.

After a meeting of EU ambassadors, the bloc did not announce sanctions, but EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the EU stood "ready to take further measures" beyond suspending talks on a bilateral deal.

The precise measures were still being negotiated, a senior EU official said, adding that there were up to 10,000 EU citizens in Libya, sparking worries about getting them out of the North African country safely. The official requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

"The continuing brutal and bloody repression against the Libyan civilian population is revolting," French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a statement. "The international community cannot remain a spectator to these massive violations of human rights."

Resource from

Iraqi: I'm proud my WMD lies led to war in Iraq

Category: , By Echo
LONDON – An Iraqi man whose testimony the United States used as a key evidence to build a case for war in Iraq says he is proud that he lied about his country developing mobile biological warfare labs.

The Guardian newspaper published an interview Wednesday with Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, who has been identified as the informer called "Curveball," whose claims about weapon labs formed part of then-U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's speech to the U.N. Security Council in 2003, shortly before the war began.

The Guardian quoted al-Janabi as saying: "I had the chance to fabricate something to topple the regime. I and my sons are proud of that."

Although some intelligence agents were skeptical of Curveball's story, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee reported in 2004 that the Central Intelligence Agency "withheld important information about Curveball's reliability" from analysts dealing with the case.

The Guardian interviewed al-Janabi in Karlsruhe, Germany in a mixture of Arabic and German. The U.S. Senate panel's report said Curveball spoke in English and Arabic when he was interrogated by intelligence officers.

Asked about his feeling's about the deaths and destruction during the war and in the years following, The Guardian said al-Janabi said there was no other way.

"I tell you something when I hear anybody not just in Iraq but in any war (is) killed, I am very sad. But give me another solution. Can you give me another solution?" the newspaper quoted him as saying.

"Saddam did not (allow) freedom in our land," the Iraqi said. "There are no other political parties. You have to believe what Saddam says, and do what Saddam wants. And I don't accept that. I have to do something for my country. So I did this and I am satisfied, because there is no dictator in Iraq any more."


'Egypt is Free' chants Tahrir after Mubarak quits

Cries of "Egypt is free" rang out and fireworks lit up the sky as hundreds of thousands danced, wept and prayed in joyful pandemonium Friday after 18 days of peaceful pro-democracy protests forced President Hosni Mubarak to surrender power to the military, ending three decades of authoritarian rule.

Ecstatic protesters in Cairo's Tahrir, or Liberation, Square hoisted soldiers onto their shoulders and families posed for pictures in front of tanks in streets flooded with people streaming out to celebrate. Strangers hugged each other, some fell to kiss the ground, and others stood stunned in disbelief.

Chants of "Hold your heads high, you're Egyptian" roared with each burst of fireworks overhead.

"I'm 21 years old and this is the first time in my life I feel free," an ebullient Abdul-Rahman Ayyash, born eight years after Mubarak came to power, said as he hugged fellow protesters in Tahrir Square.

An astonishing day in which hundreds of thousands marched on Mubarak's palaces in Cairo and Alexandria and besieged state TV was capped by the military effectively carrying out a coup at the pleas of protesters. After Mubarak's fall, the military, which pledged to shepherd reforms for greater democracy, told the nation it would announce the next steps soon. Those could include the dissolving of parliament and creation of a transitional government.

Mubarak's downfall at the hands of the biggest popular uprising in the modern history of the Arab world had stunning implications for the United States and the West, Israel, and the region, unsettling rulers across the Mideast.

The 82-year-old leader epitomized the complex trade-off the United States was locked into in the Middle East for decades: Support for autocratic leaders in return for stability, a bulwark against Islamic militants, a safeguard of economic interests with the oil-rich Gulf states and peace — or at least an effort at peace — with Israel.

The question for Washington now was whether that same arrangement will hold as the Arab world's most populous state makes a potentially rocky transition to democracy, with no guarantee of the results.

At the White House, President Barack Obama said "Egyptians have inspired us." He noted the important questions that lay ahead, but said, "I'm confident the people of Egypt can find the answers."

The United States at times seemed overwhelmed during the upheaval, fumbling to juggle its advocacy of democracy and the right to protest, its loyalty to longtime ally Mubarak and its fears the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood — or more radical groups — could gain a foothold. Mubarak's fall came 32 years to the day after the collapse of the shah's government in Iran, the prime example of a revolution that turned to Islamic militancy.

In Egypt, persecuted democracy activists frequently denounced the U.S. government for not coming down harder on Mubarak's rights abuses. Washington's mixed messages during the crisis frustrated the young protesters. They argued that while the powerful Brotherhood will have to be allowed to play a future political role, its popularity would be diminished in an open system where other ideologies are freed to outweigh it.

Neighboring Israel watched with the crisis with unease, worried that their 1979 peace treaty could be in danger. It quickly demanded on Friday that post-Mubarak Egypt continue to adhere to it.

Any break seems unlikely in the near term. The military leadership supports the treaty. Anti-Israeli feeling is strong among Egyptians, and a more democratic government may take a tougher line toward Israel in the chronically broken-down peace process. But few call for outright abrogating a treaty that has kept peace after three wars in the past half-century.

From the oil-rich Gulf states in the east to Morocco in the west, regimes both pro- and anti-U.S. could not help but worry they could see a similar upheaval. Several of the region's rulers have made pre-emptive gestures of democratic reform to avert their own protest movements.

The lesson many took: If it could happen in only three weeks in Egypt, where Mubarak's lock on power appeared unshakable, it could happen anywhere. Only a month earlier, Tunisia's president was forced to step down in the face of protests.

"This is the greatest day of my life.", Nobel Peace laureate Mohammed ElBaradei, whose young supporters were among the organizers of the protest movement, told The Associated Press.

"The country has been liberated after decades of repression," he said adding that he expects a "beautiful" transition of power.

Perhaps most surprising was the genesis of the force that overthrew Mubarak.

The protests were started by a small core of secular, liberal youth activists organizing on the Internet who only a few months earlier struggled to gather more than 100 demonstrators at a time. But their work through Facebook and other social network sites over the past few years built greater awareness and bitterness among Egyptians over issues like police abuse and corruption.

"Facebook brought down the regime," said Sally Toma, one of the main protest organizers.

When the online activists called the first major protest, on Jan. 25, they tapped into a public inspired by Tunisia's revolt and thousands turned out, beyond even the organizers' expectations. From there, protests swelled, drawing hundreds of thousands. The Muslim Brotherhood joined in. But far from hijacking the protests as many feared, it often seemed co-opted by the protesters, forced to set aside its hard-line ideology at least for now to adhere to democratic demands.

About 300 people were killed in the course of the turmoil. Police attacked the first protests with water cannons and gunfire and then a force of regime supporters _believed to be paid thugs — assaulted Tahrir trying to dislodge the protesters, only to be beaten back in two days of pitched battles.

Wael Ghonim, a Google Inc. executive who earlier this year secretly created a Facebook page that became a crucial protester organizing forum, said he "went mad" when he heard the news of Mubarak's ouster.

"I expect a bright future. I trust in 80 million Egyptians," Ghonim, who was arrested immediately after the protests began and held for 12 days, told The Associated Press.

Mubarak, a former air force commander came to power after the 1981 assassination of his predecessor Anwar Sadat by Islamic radicals. Throughout his rule, he showed a near obsession with stability, ensuring control through rigged elections, a constitution his regime wrote, a ruling party that monopolized the levers of state, and a hated police force accused of widespread torture.

He resisted calls for reform even as public bitterness grew over corruption, deteriorating infrastructure and rampant poverty in a country where 40 percent live below or near the poverty line.

Throughout the crisis, Mubarak backpedaled with concessions, replacing his government, purging his ruling party and moving to prosecute some of its most unpopular figures. But the moves did nothing to diminish the regime's power — and did not satisfy the steadily swelling protests.

Up to the last hours, Mubarak sought to cling to power, handing some of his authorities to his newly appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman while keeping his title.

But an explosion of protests Friday rejecting the move appeared to have pushed the military into forcing him out completely.

Hundreds of thousands flooded the main squares of cities around the nation. Soldiers stood by, even threw cookies and biscuits to protesters who massed in front of Mubarak's palaces in Cairo and Alexandria, chanting for him to go. Others blockaded the towering State Television and Radio Building overlooking the Nile River in Cairo, blocking employees from entering.

Ahmed Kassam, an engineer, said he marched with crowds for two hours across Cairo from Tahrir to the Oruba palace. "We were shouting at people standing in their balconies and they came down and joined us. We have thousands behind us," he said. "Today I feel that something is going to change. I feel very, very powerful."

Protesters stormed the main security headquarters in southern Egypt's main city Assiut, and two were killed by police opening fire before the province's governor was forced to flee, escorted to safety by the army.

The ousted Mubarak himself flew to his isolated palace in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, 250 miles from the turmoil in Cairo.

Suleiman — who appears to have lost his vice president's post as well in the military takeover — appeared grim as he delivered the short announcement on state TV Friday night that Mubarak was stepping down.

"In these grave circumstances that the country is passing through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave his position as president of the republic," he said. "He has mandated the Armed Forces Supreme Council to run the state. God is our protector and succor."

The question now turned to what happens next. Protesters on Friday had overtly pleaded for the army to oust Mubarak. The country is now ruled by the Armed Forces Supreme Council, consisting of the military's top generals and headed by Defense Minister Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi

After Mubarak's resignation, a military spokesman appeared on state TV and promised the army would not act as a substitute for a government based on the "legitimacy of the people."

He said the military was preparing the next steps needed "to acheive the ambitions of our great nation" and would announce them soon. He praised Mubarak for his contributions to the country. Pointedly, he did not salute his former commander-in-chief. Instead he stood at attention and raised his hand to his cap in a salute to protesters killed in the unrest.

Abdel-Rahman Samir, one of the protest organizers, said the movement would now open negotiations with the military over democratic reforms but vowed protests would continue to ensure change is carried out.

"We still don't have any guarantees yet — if we end the whole situation now, then it's like we haven't done anything," he said. "So we need to keep sitting in Tahrir until we get all our demands."

But, he added, "I feel fantastic. .... I feel like we have worked so hard, we planted a seed for a year and a half and now we are now finally sowing the fruits."

For the moment, concerns over the next step were overwhelmed by the wave of joy and disbelief — and an overwhelming pride that they had waged a peaceful campaign crowned with success.

In Tahrir Square, the crowds of several hundred thousand watched and listed to Suleiman's speech on televisions and on mobile-phone radios. When he finished, they burst into wild cheers, waving flags and chanting "Allahu akbar," or "God is Great" and "the people have brought down the regime."

Spontaneous lines of dancers threaded through the packed mass of people. One man kissed the ground and thanked God while others screamed, "Hosni is gone, Hosni is gone." Around the capital of 18 million, cars honked their horns in celebration.

"I am 42 years old and my children can finally live in free," said Mahmoud Ghandem, who joined the Tahrir protests five days ago from his Nile Delta town of Kafr el-Sheikh.

Outside the Oruba presidential palace, one man sprawled on the grass in shock amid the cheers. Others handed out sweets and waved their hands in V-for-victory signs. The crowd then began to march in a sea of Egyptian flags back to the protest's heart, Tahrir.

Throughout the night, Tahrir Square and the surrounding downtown streets were transformed into a massive party. Thousands streamed in from across the city, jamming bridges over the Nile. Army checkpoints surrounding the square for days melted away as some soldiers threw themselves into the throngs. In the streets, parents took pictures of their children posing with Egyptian flags.

State television, a bastion of unwavering support for Mubarak, had an almost instant change of tone. After disparaging the protesters as foreign-backed troublemakers for days, it began reporting the celebrations as a victory for freedom. Egyptians, one reporter outside Oruba palace proclaimed, "are able to move the waters that have been still for 30 years."

Ala Moussa, a 24-year-old from Alexandria who came Friday to join the Cairo protests, took off his glasses to wipe away tears. He had been shot by a rubber bullet during earlier protests in his hometown.

"For 50 years, it was a police state and we adapted ourselves to it," he said. "The question now is, can we take another route. I hope so."

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