Tuesday, November 30, 2010

India News: UNLF chairman Rajkumar Meghen

Manipur ultra’s ‘mystery’ solved


MOTIHARI/IMPHAL: The mystery surrounding the whereabouts of United National Liberation Front (UNLF) chairman Rajkumar Meghen, who went missing after being reportedly caught in Bangladesh about two months ago, was over finally when he was arrested at Motihari in Bihar on Tuesday.

A Manipur-based banned outfit, UNLF is the oldest militant group in the northeast. It has been fighting for Manipur's separation from India. Meghen is a member of Manipur's royal family of Manipur. He studied international relations in Kolkata's Jadavpur University 

Meghen's father Rajkumar Madhurayyajit was an army officer in the Allied Forces during the British rule and had founded SSB for Manipur and Nagaland in Imphal. Meghen's elder brother was a pilot with the Indian Air Force. 

''A joint police team from Manipur and Bihar arrested Meghen from near Chhatauni Chowk. Manipur Police AIG C P Mina identified the militant leader,'' SP (East Champaran) Paras Nath said. Meghen had taken shelter near the India-Nepal border to avoid police action. No arms was found on him. 

Confirming Meghen's arrest, additional SP (Imphal West) A K Jhaljit Singh said, ''I have received a message from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) that the UNLF chairman was arrested in Motihari.'' 

Meghen was produced in the court of Motihari CJM Madusudan Tiwari under heavy police escort. He was later taken to Imphal on a three-day transit remand. 
(the times of india)


India News:

BJP activists attack Mirwaiz's vehicle

NEW DELHI, December 1, 2010
All-Party Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq's vehicle was attacked by Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha activists and some Kashmiri Pandits when he was going to address a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC) here on Tuesday.

Shouting slogans such as “Bharat Mata ki jai” and “Kashmir hamara hai,” the protesters kicked and threw eggs at Mr. Farooq's vehicle. The vehicle rolled into the club with minor damage, including a detached wiper blade.
The Delhi Police and Central Reserve Police Force personnel cordoned off the area to escort Mr. Farooq's vehicle into the club. The protesters continued shouting slogans for well over half-an-hour after the press meet began. As many as 59 of them were detained by the police and taken away in two buses.
The conference was attended by foreign media representatives. “Why is the India media not allowed inside? This is because we all know what their [Mirwaiz's party's] agenda is,” said Daughters of Vitasta convener Nancy Kaul.
“We are here because this is an issue of national integration. He [Mr. Farooq] has no logic asking for separation of Kashmir from India,” said Roots in Kashmir activist Sanjay Peshin.
While the conference was in progress, some protesters burnt banners carrying Mr. Farooq's picture outside the club.
The conference began around 5 p.m. and lasted for an hour-and-half. Security personnel cordoned off the area around the FCC's entrance to ensure a safe exit for the leader's vehicle. The hasty departure was followed by more protests and slogan shouting.
This is the third attack on Mr. Farooq in the past one week. He was attacked in Chandigarh on November 25 and in Kolkata on November 28, where he attended seminars related to Kashmir.

National Security

National Counter Terror Centre by next year: PC

Express news servicePosted: Wed Dec 01 2010, 03:41 hrsNew Delhi:

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday said India’s capacity to deal with security challenges is better today than it was two years ago.
Addressing mediapersons at the completion of two years in the crucial post, Chidambaram said the National Counter Terrorism Centre could become operational by the end of 2011 if a decision on its inception is be taken before year-end. NCTC is being set up for strengthening the intelligence-sharing and analysing mechanism.
“I said that with the hope that a decision would be taken by the end of this year. Then I am hopeful that the NCTC would be set up within 12 months in comparison to 24 months that the US took (for a similar unit). I am confident that a decision on NCTC would be taken by the year-end,” he said.
Chidambaram also said the Detailed Project Report of the proposed National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) was ready and could be placed before the Cabinet Committee on Security for approval.
“The DPR is ready. It has been presented to me. Now the DPR will go to the CCS. The core team has been set up. The core team is working on the DPR,” he said.

Celebrating older (sexy) women

Marieke Hardy
There's a lot of talk in the media of late about older women, and how 'society' (that's us) is suddenly opening their hearts and minds to the idea of their beauty, sexuality and cultural relevance.

Despite the rather dark period known as 'The Cougar Years' when we briefly believed that just because Courtney Cox was on television providing sexual favours to teenage boys we were suddenly Ghandi, there has certainly been a slight shift. Annette Bening and Julianne Moore are able to appear in a major motion picture wearing minimal makeup without bringing the WTO to major collapse, KD Lang records continue to chart well, and everybody still manages to build up a froth of excitement about Oprah Winfrey bringing her patented brand of screaming banshee she-freaks to our home country for a visit.

We love to congratulate ourselves on this new, enlightened period of celebrating the older woman (look! Betty White on the television, saying 'dick'!  Har har, she's still got it!). But are we really as down with the older dames as we think we are? Or do we only admire them within our slightly stringent limits?

The recent touring team of Blondie's Debbie Harry and The Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde has the newspapers all in a fizz, with journalists lining up to reminisce about days of yore – when the rock n' roll temptresses were lithe and attractive – and celebrating the fact that thankfully in a physical sense at least things have remained on a somewhat even keel ("Donning ultra-slim stovepipe jeans and cowboy boots," one reviewer gushed about Hynde, "you wouldn’t guess that the super-skinny frontwoman is now almost 60 years old." And doesn’t that come as a huge relief?). There are passing hushed mentions of Debbie Harry’s 'ice cream years' when she selfishly put dieting on hold to tend to her sick partner, with several later paragraphs reassuring all who may have considered boycotting her concerts that she's moved through her fat period and can now entertain us in trim and terrific style. It's an interesting counterpoint to recent press featuring guitarist/author Keith Richards, who has a face like a hatful of busted arseholes but was generally admired by all as a grand talent/wit/rogue.

Fashion magazine V even released a special edition 'Who Cares About Age' issue ('Like a fine wine – V Magazine celebrates 50-plus divas'), featuring "a trifecta of sophisticated cover girls – Susan Sarandon (64), Sigourney Weaver (61) and Jane Fonda (72)".  And these women are fine as hell, they look unbelievably smoking hot and long may they reign in the minds of prepubescent fantasies if indeed such a thing is legal etc. But what about the ones who haven't aged in such a taut and appealing way? Do we shove them aside for making us inconveniently aware of our own mortality?

Who Weekly's recent '2010 Sexiest People' issue (cover stars: Jessica Marais, Jennifer Hawkins, Natalie Imbruglia – aged 26, 25 and 35 (Imbruglia is the old hag of the trio) respectively) keeps it nice and spritely, with the oldest person heralded as 'sexy' being sex robot Kylie Minogue at a withered and geriatric 42. Boyzone singer Ronan Keating ('Debonair with Edge', according to the taste-makers at Who) tells it like it is, musing philosophically on a later page: "Men are lucky, I suppose – we benefit from age". Thank goodness somebody's finally come out and spoken the truth, celebrating the aging process for what it is – a boon for men and a sad reality for the fairer sex who simply wither away and die, providing society with naught but a sagging bosom and a few tepid bleatings about childbirth as their legacy. Right on, Ronan! This one's for the brothers!

In the same issue confrontational gyrater Madonna is gently chided for daring to indulge in plastic surgery, appearing "plump-faced – some might say swollen". The offending photographic evidence is placed next to an older picture of her looking "drawn … more like her 52 years". No suggestion, of course, that the reason someone like Madonna may dabble in plastic surgery in the first place is solely due to glossy women’s magazines delightedly releasing double-page WRINKLE WATCH 2010 liftouts every time she has the gall to leave the house looking her age.

Society wants to celebrate older women. Sure. So long as they're still sexually attractive in some way. So long as they're still pouring themselves into skinny-leg denim and Herve Leger bandage dresses. So long as we still want to do them. To the ones who dare wrinkle, sag, blow out or simply look as though you've lived a long and entertaining life, put it away for god's sake. We don’t want a bar of you. And the way things are going we probably never will.

Marieke Hardy is a writer and regular panellist on the ABC's First Tuesday Book Club.

US high school hostage-taker

US high school hostage-taker dies of wounds

The 15-year-old boy who shot himself after taking 23 students and a teacher hostage at his school in Wisconsin has died of his wounds.

Austin Biehl

Marinette Police Chief Jeff Skorik said Samuel Hengel died on Tuesday morning at a hospital in Green Bay.
Hengel shot himself with a handgun as police stormed a classroom at Marinette High School on Monday night, after a stand-off lasting several hours.
Chief Skorik said police were still trying to ascertain his motives.
"As far as what caused this, it seems to be a mystery," he said. "We have not been able to identify anything that precipitated this incident."

'Most respectful kid'
He said the incident at Marinette High School began at about 1330 (1930 GMT) on Monday, sometime after which the first shots were fired.

Start Quote

Austin Biehl
I don't think he intended to hurt anyone - if he wanted to, he probably would have done it”
Austin BiehlClassmate of Samuel Hengel
One of the hostages said Hengel left the classroom while a film was being shown and came back with a duffel bag, which police later said contained two semi-automatic handguns and ammunition.
He then reportedly shot at the film projector and a wall, before sitting down at the front of the class.
"He didn't say anything," Austin Biehl, 15, told reporters. "We were just scared and shocked he was doing this. My legs were shaking."
The authorities were first notified of the incident by the high school's principal at 1548, after he was told of the situation by a student whom Hengel had allowed to leave.
After a stand-off of four hours - during which the teacher, Valerie Burd, communicated with the hostage negotiation team and Hengel's classmates tried to keep him calm by chatting with him about hunting, fishing and movies - five students were released because they needed to go to the toilet.
Chief Skorik said that at 2003, officers outside the classroom heard three shots and "breached the door". At the front of the room was Hengel, who then shot himself in the head, he added. The remaining hostages were evacuated.
Hengel was transported to the nearby Bay Area Medical Center, and later to St Vincent Hospital in Green Bay, where he died.
Family friends of the Hengel family said he was "the most respectful kid you would ever meet" and that his actions were completely shocking.
"I don't think he intended to hurt anyone," Austin Biehl said. "If he wanted to, he probably would have done it."
Classes at Marinette High School will resume on Wednesday. (BBC)

Russia News:

Russian president Medvedev sees new arms race if cooperation fails

Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, November 30, 2010; 6:58 PM
MOSCOW - In a state-of-the-nation speech Tuesday that dwelled on overcoming the persistent weaknesses sapping Russia, President Dmitry Medvedev suggested that failure to reach agreement on missile defense cooperation in Europe could set off a new arms race in the decade ahead.

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Those dark remarks appeared aimed as much at his own generals as at the West. Medvedev has indicated that he wants to bend the nation's resources toward diversifying the economy rather than restoring the military-industrial complex of old, and the Kremlin has come to see arms control as in its own interests.

Medvedev did not mention the still-unratified nuclear arms agreement with the United States, but he spoke approvingly of a summit in Lisbon on Nov. 20 where he discussed the eventual goal of Russian cooperation with NATO on a European missile defense system.
"It goes without saying that was a positive development," he said. "But in this room, I would like to openly say that the choice for us in the coming decade is as follows: We will either come to terms on missile defense and form a full-fledged joint mechanism of cooperation or . . . we will plunge into a new arms race and have to think of deploying new strike means, and it's obvious that this scenario will be very hard."

Lack of agreement on arms issues would be the worst-case scenario for Russia, said Irina Kobrinskaya, a political analyst with the Institute of World Economy and International Relations at the Russian Academy of Sciences, pointing out that Medvedev devoted the bulk of his speech to plans for overcoming domestic debilities.

"For Russians, we all know that it was the arms race that led to the disintegration of the Soviet Union," Kobrinskaya said. "Russia is not ready financially for a new arms race."
As if to underscore the point, the commander of Russia's Strategic Rocket Forces told reporters Tuesday that about 20,000 jobs have been cut from those forces over the past

five years. And Nikolai Makarov, chief of the Russian General Staff, denied a Wall Street Journal report that Russia has been moving missiles near NATO countries.

"We did not deploy any missiles in the Kaliningrad region," Makarov told the Interfax news agency. Kaliningrad is a Russian enclave tucked between Poland and Lithuania, both of which are NATO members.

Medvedev was delivering his third state-of-the-nation address to the government, both houses of parliament and religious leaders, including the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, who entered with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. He spoke in St. George Hall in the Grand Kremlin Palace, a 65-yard-long gleaming white testament to wealth, power and majesty, with its enormous bronze chandeliers and twisted columns supporting a vaulted ceiling.

Yet Medvedev described a country that is losing a trillion rubles - about $32 billion - annually to bribery, theft and corruption and remains weakened by the low birthrate of the 1990s, which caused a drop in the population.

Much of his 75-minute speech was devoted to the theme of protecting Russia's children and nurturing a generation capable of rebuilding the country. His audience clapped often, though not in the openly partisan manner of a U.S. State of the Union audience. Russia's is essentially a one-party system, despite the few Communists in the hall.

Even though the child mortality rate is dropping, Medvedev said, one-third of Russian children have health problems when they start school, as do two-thirds of teenagers. In addition, 100,000 children are victims of violence every year. "It breaks your heart," he said.

The president urged the European Union to help Russia enter the World Trade Organization and called for closer partnerships and economic ties with the United States.

"Foreign policy must manifest itself not only in missiles but also on concrete achievements, clear to our citizens, in setting up joint ventures in Russia, in the emergence of quality inexpensive goods, in job creation and in relaxed visa procedures," he said.
"We are renewing our country."


Earth Quake:Japan.

6.6 magnitude quake near Japanese islands: 
TOKYO — A strong 6.6 magnitude quake struck off Japan's southern Bonin Islands on Tuesday, the US Geological Survey said, with tremors felt more than 800 kilometres away in Tokyo, but no tsunami was expected.
The quake hit at 12.24 pm local time (0324 GMT), 337 kilometres (210 miles) west northwest of Chichi-shima in Japan's remote Bonin island region at a depth of 478 kilometres. There were no immediate reports of damage or injury.
The USGS originally said the quake was magnitude 6.9, but later revised its figure.
Japan's meteorological agency also said the focus was off the west coast of the same chain of islands in the Pacific, known in Japan as the Ogasawara islands, 808 kilometres south of Tokyo.
Even so, the quake swayed buildings in the capital.
Around 20 percent of the world's most powerful earthquakes strike Japan, which sits on the "Ring of Fire" surrounding the Pacific Ocean.
But high building standards, regular drills and a sophisticated tsunami warning system mean that casualties are often minimal.

Pakistan News: dying to kill.

Suicide bomber targets police in Bannu, 6 killed

* Policeman, eight-year-old girl, among those killed

* 16, including two policemen, injured in attack

Staff Report 
PESHAWAR: A suicide bomber targeted a police van in Bannu, killing six people including a policeman, on Tuesday.

“A suicide bomber attacked Saddar Police Station van near Milad Chowk,” police official Aurangzeb Khan said.

It was the fourth suicide attack in the country this month and the first in Bannu since February 11 this year when eights policemen and seven civilians were killed in twin strikes by terrorists. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack. However, Bannu police suspects it must be the work of Taliban or banned sectarian outfits trying to disrupt peace during Muharram.

“An eight-year-old girl and his father were among the fatalities,” the police official said. He did not confirm whether the bomber was targeting police van or simply trying to create terror before the start of Muharram. The attack left two policemen and 14 civilians injured, hospital sources said by phone. The police said the suicide attacker detonated the explosives when a police vehicle came near him at Milad Chowk.

Bannu has been under attack from terrorists as the district serves as gateway to North Waziristan where the United States believes al Qaeda and Taliban have safe heavens to stage attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The attack comes a week before the start of Muharram for which Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government ordered elaborate arrangements for high security. Acting President Dr Fehmida Mirza has strongly condemned the bomb blast in Bannu and expressed grief and sorrow over the loss of lives.


Nuclear fears over Pakistan

The Irish Times - Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Nuclear fears over Pakistan revealed


AMERICAN AND British diplomats fear Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme could lead to fissile material falling into the hands of terrorists or a devastating nuclear exchange with India.
The latest cache of US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks contains warnings that Pakistan is rapidly building its nuclear stockpile, despite the country’s growing instability and “pending economic catastrophe”.
Mariot Leslie, a senior British Foreign Office official, told US diplomats in September 2009: “The UK has deep concerns about the safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons,” according to one cable classified “secret/noforn [no foreign nationals]”.
Seven months earlier the US ambassador to Islamabad, Anne Patterson, cabled to Washington: “Our major concern is not having an Islamic militant steal an entire weapon but rather the chance someone working in government of Pakistan facilities could gradually smuggle enough material out to eventually make a weapon.” The leaks expose in detail the deep tensions between Washington and Islamabad over a broad range of issues, including counter-terrorism, Afghanistan and finance, as well as the nuclear question.
The cables also revealed that: 
* Small teams of US special forces have been operating secretly inside Pakistan’s tribal areas, with Pakistani government approval, while senior ministers have privately supported US drone attacks.
* The ambassador starkly informed Washington that “no amount of money” from the US would stop the Pakistani army backing Islamist militants and the Afghan Taliban insurgency.
* The US concluded Pakistani troops were responsible for a spate of extrajudicial killings in the Swat Valley and tribal belt but did comment publicly to allow the army to take action on its own.
* Diplomats in Islamabad were asked by the Pentagon to survey refugee camps on the Afghan border, possibly for air strike targeting information.
* The president, Asif Ali Zardari – whose wife, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated – has made extensive preparations in case he too is killed, and once told US vice-president Joe Biden he feared the military “might take me out”. 
– ( Guardian service)

The Irish Times - Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ashton plays down Tehran defiance ahead of nuclear talks

ARTHUR BEESLEY, European Correspondent
EU FOREIGN policy chief Catherine Ashton played down defiant rhetoric from Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as talks loom next week on Tehran’s nuclear programme, the first for 14 months.
Ms Ashton’s talks with Iran’s nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili take place next Monday and Tuesday in Geneva. Senior diplomats from the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China will also participate.
The renewed engagement marks a big test for Ms Ashton, who is the envoy of the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany on the Iranian nuclear programme. She took office one year ago when the Lisbon Treaty was enacted and her new diplomatic corps – the European External Action Service – is formally established today.
Mr Ahmadinejad told Iranian reporters on Monday that his uranium enrichment programme would not be negotiated away. He was willing, however, to discuss nuclear co-operation.
Ms Ashton’s spokesman said the talks were a “two-way street” but said Iran’s own nuclear project was central to the dialogue.
“We take note on a regular basis of the quoted remarks from Iran. Our policy is not to comment. [Ms] Ashton has been very clear that the core subject of these talks is Iran’s nuclear programme,” the spokesman said.
The western powers say they have evidence to show Iran is building a nuclear bomb, but Tehran has insisted the project is for exclusively peaceful purposes.
Iran has ruled out stopping its enrichment activity and has continued to defy calls for greater co-operation, stoking fear of a wider conflict in the Middle East.
While the hardening of UN, EU and American sanctions on Iran in recent months is widely held to be behind Mr Ahmadinejad’s return to the talks, there is little hope of a significant breakthrough, at least in the first instance.
Mr Ahmadinejad rubbished reports based on WikiLeaks disclosures that many of his country’s Arab neighbours had pushed for a US attack against its nuclear programme. “Regional countries are all friends with each other. Such mischief will have no impact on the relations of countries,” he said.
“We don’t think this information was leaked. We think it was organised to be released on a regular basis.”

Sr.Lanka: Justice to Sri Lankan Tamils.

Carry forward efforts to ensure justice to Sri 

Lankan Tamils, India urged
B. Muralidhar Reddy

COLOMBO: The Tamil Parties Forum (TPF), the umbrella organisation of Tamil parties other than Tamil National Alliance (TNA), in a letter to External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna has said efforts by India to ensure ‘equality and justice' to Sri Lankan Tamils should be carried forward.

The TPF, which recently met Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, has said that the Tamil political parties had come to an understanding and constituted a common forum to strive for a permanent political solution to the ethnic problem and also to work towards solving the immediate issues faced by the Tamil people.

“In this context, we have initiated discussions with the other concerned political parties, including the TNA, with a view to forging a consensus on the question of a political solution to the national question of Sri Lanka,” it said.

The TNA holds the majority of seats in Parliament from the Northern and Eastern provinces in the island nation.

Maintaining that the political solution should be found within the framework of a united Sri Lanka thus enabling the Tamils to participate fully in their ‘own governance in the North-East,' the Forum said that the implementation of the 13th amendment in full would be a positive beginning.

On civil administration, it said establishment of a full and complete civil administration without any involvement of the security forces in the Northern and Eastern provinces was the need of the hour.

“We are concerned that the proposal to establish settlements of the members of the security forces and their families numbering many thousands will drastically alter the demographic composition in the Northern and Eastern provinces that had been recognised as the areas of historical habitation in the Indo-Sri Lanka accord of 1987,” it said.

The letter said one of the main reasons for the discontent between the communities was the ‘state-sponsored colonisation' by successive governments in the past with the motive of altering the demographic composition in the North-East.

On resettlement of the war-displaced, it said that though a majority of them had been sent back to their former places of habitation, they had not been settled with adequate basic facilities.
Separately, the parliamentary group of the TNA said it chose to abstain from voting on the budget for 2011 as it had not made any allocation for the relief, resettlement and rehabilitation, particularly of the displaced Tamil people and the Tamil people in general.

In a statement, it said the government must engage in discussion the elected representatives of the Tamil people on resettlement, rehabilitation and resolution of the national problem.
“However, no meaningful steps have been taken by the government in this regard up till now. In this context, we would like to demonstrate our good faith in participating in the discussions concerning the extremely important issues of resettlement and political solution. Therefore, the TNA decided to abstain from voting against the budget 2011 at the second reading.”

(source:the hindu)