Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Plane crash in Pakistan kills 152 people

ISLAMABAD – A government official says all 152 people on board a plane that crashed in the hills surrounding Pakistan's capital were killed.
Imtiaz Elahi, the chairman of the Capital Development Authority, told The Associated Press that earlier reports of five survivors from the crash were wrong and that all aboard died. The Capital Development Authority has a group that responds to emergency situations.
The cause of Wednesday's Airblue crash was not immediately clear. It attempted to land in rainy and cloudy conditions.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
ISLAMABAD (AP) — A passenger jet carrying 152 people crashed Wednesday into the hills surrounding Pakistan's capital amid poor weather, killing at least 50 people and stoking fears nobody could have survived the disaster.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik said five people survived the crash of the Airblue plane and were airlifted to a hospital in Islamabad. But doctors reported no sign of survivors at the city's two largest hospitals, and rescue workers at the scene expressed skepticism that anyone could have survived.
"Now we are pretty sure that there is not a single survivor," Hanif Khattak, the director general of Pakistan's Civil Defense, told The Associated Press near the crash site.
Local TV footage showed twisted metal wreckage hanging from trees and scattered across the ground on a bed of broken branches. Fire was visible and smoke rose from the scene as a helicopter hovered above. The army said it was sending special troops to aid the search.
"I'm seeing only body parts," Dawar Adnan, a rescue worker with the Pakistan Red Crescent, told The Associated Press by telephone from the crash site. "This is a very horrible scene. We have scanned almost all the area, but there is no chance of any more survivors."
The search effort was hampered by muddy conditions and smoldering wreckage that authorities were having trouble extinguishing by helicopter, Adnan said.
The cause of the crash was not immediately clear, said Pervez George, a civil aviation official. The plane left the southern city of Karachi at 7:45 a.m. for a two-hour scheduled flight to Islamabad and was trying to land during cloudy and rainy weather.
Airblue is a private service based in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city, and Wednesday's flight was believed to be carrying mostly Pakistanis.
Rescue workers scouring the heavily forested hills recovered 50 bodies from the wreckage, said Ramzan Sajid, spokesman for Capital Development Authority, which reports to the Interior Ministry and has a group that deals with emergencies.
"The plane was about to land at the Islamabad airport when it lost contact with the control tower, and later we learned that the plane had crashed," said George, adding the model was an Airbus 321 and the flight number was ED202.
At the Islamabad airport, hundreds of friends and relatives of those on board the flight swarmed ticket counters desperately seeking information. A large cluster of people also surrounded a passenger list posted near the Airblue ticket counter.
"We don't know who survived, who died, who is injured," said Zulfikar Ghazi, who was waiting to receive four relatives. "We are in shock."
Saqlain Altaf told Pakistan's ARY news channel he was on a family outing in the hills when he saw the plane looking unsteady in the air. "The plane had lost balance, and then we saw it going down," he said, adding he heard the crash.
Officials at first thought it was a small plane, but later revised that. George said 146 passengers were on the flight along with six crew members.
The Pakistan Airline Pilot Association said the plane appeared to have strayed off course, possibly because of the poor weather.
Raheel Ahmed, a spokesman for the airline, said an investigation would be launched, but for now the focus was to find survivors. The plane was no more than eight-years old, and it had no known technical issues, Ahmed said. The pilots did not send any emergency signals, he said.
The last major plane crash in Pakistan was in July 2006 when a Fokker F-27 twin-engine aircraft operated by Pakistan International Airlines slammed into a wheat field on the outskirts of the central Pakistani city of Multan, killing all 45 people on board.
Airblue flies within Pakistan as well as internationally to the United Arab Emirates, Oman and the United Kingdom.
The only previous recorded accident for Airblue, a carrier that began flying in 2004, was a tail-strike in May 2008 at Quetta airport by one of the airline's Airbus 321 jets. There were no casualties and damage was minimal, according to the U.S.-based Aviation Safety Network.
The Airbus 320 family of medium-range jets, which includes the 321 model that crashed Wednesday, is one of the most popular in the world, with about 4,000 jets delivered since deliveries began in 1988.
Twenty-one of the aircraft have been lost in accidents since then, according to the Aviation Safety Network's database. The deadliest was a 2007 crash at landing in Sao Paolo by Brazil's TAM airline, in which all 187 people on board perished, along with 12 others on the ground.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

For a comfortable gameplay in StarCraft 2 will need a powerful computer

To run StarCraft 2 will need a computer with at least the following characteristics:

* OS - Windows XP / Windows Vista / Windows 7;
* Processor - 2.6 GHz or equivalent Pentium IV AMD Athlon;
* Graphics card - NVIDIA GeForce 6600 GT or ATI Radeon 9800 PRO;
* Hard drive - 12 GB of free space;
* RAM - 1 GB.
To play with maximum graphics quality is recommended the following configuration:

* OS - Windows XP / Windows Vista / Windows 7;
* Processor - Dual-Core with a frequency of 2.4 GHz;
* RAM - 2 GB;
* Graphics card - NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTX or ATI Radeon HD 3870.

North Korea warns of nuclear 'sacred war'

North Korea says it will use its "nuclear deterrent" in response to joint US-South Korean military exercises this weekend.
Pyongyang was ready to launch a "retaliatory sacred war" at any time, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
Washington and Seoul say the war games are to deter North Korean aggression.
Tensions between the two Koreas have been high since the sinking of a South Korean warship in March.
An international investigation said the ship was sunk by a North Korean torpedo, a claim strongly denied by Pyongyang.
Responding to Pyongyang's warning, US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said that Washington was "not interested in a war of words with North Korea".
"What we need from North Korea is fewer provocative words and more constructive action," the spokesman added.
The BBC's John Sudworth, in Seoul, says this is not the first time that North Korea has issued such a warning.
Although it is likely to be dismissed as the usual diplomatic brinkmanship, the rising tension will cause concern among governments in the region, he adds.

'War of words'

The North's powerful National Defence Commission said the war games were "nothing but outright provocations aimed to stifle the Democratic People's Republic of Korea [North Korea] by force of arms," the KCNA reported.

"The army and people of the DPRK will start a retaliatory sacred war of their own style based on nuclear deterrent any time necessary in order to counter the US imperialists and the South Korean puppet forces deliberately pushing the situation to the brink of a war," it added.

In response, the White House said it was not interested in a "war of words" with North Korea.

State Department spokesman PJ Crowley said the US wanted "more constructive action and fewer provocative words" from Pyongyang.

The North had already promised a physical response to the military exercises during an Asian regional security forum in Vietnam on Friday.

North Korea's delegation spokesman at the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) regional forum said the exercises were an example of 19th century "gunboat diplomacy".

"It is a threat to the Korean peninsula and the region of Asia as a whole," he said.
China warning

The war games - which begin on Sunday - will involve the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, 20 other ships and submarines, 100 aircraft and 8,000 personnel.

China has criticised the plans and warned against any action which might "exacerbate regional tensions".

But Japan is sending four military observers, in an apparent endorsement of the drills.

The US announced on Wednesday that it was to impose new sanctions on North Korea, aimed at halting nuclear proliferation and the import of luxury goods. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

July inflation seen around 11%: Official

India's headline inflation in July could be around 11 per cent, Chief Statistician of India T C A Anant told reporters on Monday.

Anant also said higher farm production and monetary tightening are needed to tame headline inflation and that he expected prices to cool by November.

The Reserve Bank of India is widely expected to raise its repo and reverse repo rates by 25 basis points each, for the fourth time since mid-March, at its monetary policy review on Tuesday.

"All the measures that the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) has been taking in this regard and may take in the future also, should also have shown by then (third quarter). All this means that you would have softening of prices."

The Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council headed by former central bank governor C. Rangarajan had said last week that the RBI needs to take strong monetary action to tame high inflation.

Rangarajan said that he expected the central bank to carry out a series of small policy tightening steps.

An improvement in farm output and initiatives by the government to rein in the fiscal deficit would also have an impact on lowering prices, Anant said.

Wholesale price index, India's main inflation gauge, rose 10.55 per cent in June from a year earlier, holding in double digits for the fifth straight month.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is facing strong criticism over handling of the inflation issue, said on Saturday that headline inflation could come down to 6 per cent by December.

The opposition parties have said they would seek a special discussion and vote in parliament over high prices this week.

But there is little threat to government stability, and the move will only distract from pushing key reform bills in the current session of parliament that began on Monday.

Key policymakers have been saying that food prices will moderate by the end of this year, betting on good monsoons and strong harvest to cool the prices from the high levels touched towards the end of last year, when the worst drought in 37 years hit farm output.

India, Asia's third largest economy, is expected to grow at around 8.5 per cent in the 2010/11 fiscal year.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

'Most wanted' militant killed in Kashmir: army

SRINAGAR: One of Kashmir's "most wanted" militants has been killed during a fierce gunbattle, dealing a blow to the insurgency in the volatile Himalayan region, the military said Wednesday.

A Pakistani identified as Nouman, the commander of the Pakistan-based Harkat-ul-Mujahedin rebel group in Indian Kashmir, was killed in an overnight firefight with soldiers, army spokesman J.S. Brar told AFP.

Harkat-ul-Mujahedin is one of a number of groups fighting against New Delhi's rule in Muslim-majority Kashmir, which is divided between India and Pakistan. The most powerful group is thought to be Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).

Brar claimed Nouman was "Kashmir valley's top most militant" wanted for a number of attacks, including master-minding a nearly 24-hour siege at a hotel in the centre of Indian Kashmir's main city Srinigar in January.

"His death is a big jolt to insurgency in Kashmir," he said.

The gunbattle took place in Sopore town, about 50 kilometers (31 miles), north of Srinagar, and also left an unidentified accomplice to Nouman and an Indian soldier dead.

More than 47,000 people have died in Kashmir since anti-India militants launched an insurgency in the scenic region in 1989.

The violence has declined sharply since India and Pakistan started a slow-moving peace process in 2004. Both nuclear-armed rivals hold the region in part but claim it in entirety.

Oil hovers above $77 in Asian trade

SINGAPORE: Oil rose slightly in Asian trade on Wednesday as investors stayed on the sidelines ahead of a closely watched inventory report on US energy supplies, analysts said.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in September, gained five cents to $77.63 a barrel, while London's Brent North Sea crude for September was nine cents higher at $76.31.

Investors were waiting for a weekly inventory report due Wednesday from the US Department of Energy, analysts said.

"We're in sort of a holding pattern. Most people are waiting for the inventory report for their next move," said David Johnson, a Hong Kong-based oil analyst with Royal Bank of Scotland.

Market sentiment was also cautious following mixed economic data and disappointing US corporate earnings reports, he said.

"There's nothing coming that people can latch on to that's proof that the world economy is getting better so prices are just slightly holding back," he said.

Computer giant IBM and Wall Street investment bank Goldman Sachs yesterday announced their profits had slumped in the second quarter.

The disappointing earnings reports hit market sentiment, which was further weakened by a mixed report on the embattled US housing market.

Oil prices, however, edged higher yesterday on expectations of a drawdown in inventories, indicating higher demand for crude. The weekly snapshot is considered a key indicator of demand in the world's biggest economy.

The average analyst forecast is that US crude oil stockpiles fell by 1.1 million barrels last week, according to a Dow Jones Newswires survey, suggesting stronger consumption.

Investors were also watching a tropical system brewing near the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, which could head towards the Gulf of Mexico, home to roughly 30 per cent of US petroleum production.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Spain wins World Cup

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa | Exhaustion etched on their faces, fatigued bodies ready to betray them, the players knew just one goal would be enough to win the elusive World Cup for their nation.
As the clock ticked toward penalty kicks Sunday night, the shivering crowd at Soccer City Stadium grew anxious.
Spain or the Netherlands would win its first championship if only someone could find the net.
Andres Iniesta did, and Spain rules the soccer world at long, long last after a 1-0 extra-time victory.
“We have all done an incredible job,” Iniesta said. “I don’t think we even realize what we have done.”
This final was a physical test of attrition that sometimes turned dirty — a finals-record 14 yellow cards were handed out and the Dutch finished with 10 men. In the end, it was Iniesta breaking free in the penalty area, taking a pass from Cesc Fabregas and putting a right-footed shot from 8 yards just past the outstretched arms of goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg with about 7 minutes left to play, including injury time.
“When I struck it, it just had to go in,” Iniesta said.
For the Dutch and their legions of orange-clad fans wearing everything from jerseys to jumpsuits to clown gear to pajamas, it was yet another disappointment.
Even with their first World Cup title tantalizingly within reach, they failed in the final for the third time. This one might have been the most bitter because, unlike 1974 and 1978, the Netherlands was unbeaten not only in this tournament but also in qualifying for the first World Cup staged in South Africa.
Soccer City was soaked in Oranje, from the seats painted in that hue throughout the stadium to pretty much everyone seated in them, including crown prince Willem-Alexander. It was different when they lost to hosts West Germany and Argentina in previous finals; this time, the Dutch were something of a home team. And the visitors won.
Spain had pockets of supporters, too, with fans dressed in red and scattered throughout the stadium. Among those cheering were Queen Sofia, Rafael Nadal and Pau Gasol.
Spain’s fans might have been in the minority, but when the final whistle blew, they were tooting their vuvuzelas with a vengeance in tribute to their champions.
A second straight World Cup final headed into extra time, and the goalkeepers were unbeatable. Stekelenburg, relatively inexperienced on the international level, made a spectacular left leg save when Fabregas broke free early in overtime.
The goal in the 116th minute came off a turnover by the Dutch defense that Fabregas controlled just outside the penalty area. Iniesta stayed on the right and sneaked in to grab the pass and put his shot to the far post. Stekelenburg barely brushed it with his fingertips as it soared into the net.
And with that, Iniesta tore off his jersey and raced to the corner where he was mobbed by his teammates.
Several Dutch players wiped away tears as they received their runners-up medals — yet again. They had won every qualifying match and all six previous games in South Africa before the bitter ending.
The Netherlands now has more victories in World Cup games without a title than any nation: 19. Spain held that dubious record with 24.
Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk took off his silver medal as soon as he left the podium, a look of disgust on his face.
The winners struggled but managed to lift their coach, Vicente del Bosque, in the air in celebration.
“They made it very difficult for us to play comfortably,” Del Bosque said. “It was a very intense match.”

After three months trying, BP poised to stop Gulf oil flow

NEW ORLEANS: After more than three months of trying, BP engineers said Monday that they were finally on the verge of capping the ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico that created America's worst-ever environmental disaster.

Doug Suttles, BP's chief operating officer, said at a press briefing that the oil giant had nearly finished installing a massive oil containment cap that could slow the flow of oil to a trickle, or even stop it altogether.

Over the weekend, BP removed one containment cap from the Deepwater Horizon oil well and said Monday they were just hours away from replacing it with a tighter-fitting one.

"We'll be attaching the cap later this morning," Suttles said.

"After that we'll begin the well integrity test, which is to close the stack in, which will stop flow coming from the well and monitor that," he said.

"I think at this point our confidence is growing" that the oil flow will be contained.

If engineers keep to their timeline, BP could be on the brink of containing the worst environmental disaster in US history.

The breakthrough comes after 13 weeks in which up to half a million barrels of crude has poured into the US Gulf, and after successive weeks of "top kills," "top hats," "junk shots" and other oddly-named procedures meant to choke off the flow of oil.

BP said however that with this latest device, they have finally found one that seems likely to contain all of the oil for the first time since the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig on April 22.

Expected to take between four and seven days, the round-the-clock work on installing the new containment cap began at midday on Saturday when the old, less efficient cap was ripped off a fractured pipe a mile down on the sea floor by robotic submarines.

The new containment system is designed so that it can be disconnected and reconnected more easily in the case of a hurricane and has a built-in device that should give the first precise estimate of the overall flow.

Suttles also announced that by late Monday, a third container ship, the Helix Producer, could be attached to the oil well's blowout preventer, allowing BP to siphon an additional 20,000 to 25,000 barrels a day to the surface.

BP says the Helix Producer will raise capacity to between 60,000 and 80,000 barrels a day, enough to contain the whole leak.

The effort to attach the vessel had been delayed after engineers over the weekend encountered leaks and problems with the hydraulic system, which now have been resolved, Suttles said.

The former Coast Guard commander who is heading the US government's response effort on Monday hailed the progress made over the weekend in stopping the gusher.

"This could lead to the shutting of the well," Admiral Thad Allen, told US television Monday.

He added that officials are also considering sealing the well with cement, depending on the outcome of an "integrity test" -- an analysis on the amount of pressure building within the containment cap.

"This containment cap will have the ability to actually close down valves and slowly contain all the oil. Once we do that, we'll know how much pressure is in the well," Allen told CNN during a round of morning television interviews.

"It could tell us that the well is with holding the pressure and we can shut the well in or just cap it, if you will. Either way, those are two pretty good outcomes," Allen said.

Officials said work is continuing in the meantime on two relief wells to permanently seal the ruptured pipeline. That would likely occur in mid-August when the first of the two wells is due to be completed, allowing drilling fluids and cement to be injected into the well.

That operation could be ready "towards the very end of this month," Suttles said.

Meanwhile, a seven member presidential commission was starting its work Monday, meeting in New Orleans as it prepared a report to be delivered in six months' time on the cause of the oil rig disaster and how to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.

The feverish work in the Gulf, on the containment caps, relief wells, and skimming and burning cleanup efforts, come as officials race to take advantage of a stretch of fine weather in the midst of the Atlantic hurricane season.

Oil has washed up on beaches in all five Gulf states, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, forcing fishing grounds to be closed and threatening scores of coastal communities with financial ruin.

BP said Monday the disastrous oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico has cost 3.5 billion dollars (2.78 billion euros), although the petroleum giant's shares rose sharply on reports it was poised to sell some of its assets.

About 46,000 personnel, more than 6,400 vessels and dozens of aircraft were engaged in the expensive response effort, BP said.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Germany vs Uruguay : Germany 3:2 Uruguay

The Germans won 3:2, and as four years ago, again took third place.

For a few seconds before the final whistle Forlan almost turned the game into extra time. A ball thrown to them from the penalty area rounded the wall and made ringing the crossbar. Still, Uruguay team had to surrender and leave the field defeated.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Google expects China to clear its license

The CEO of search engine giant Google, Eric Schmidt, has said that he expects China to renew the company's license to allow it to operate in the mainland.

Talking with reporters at the annual media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, hosted by investment bank Allen and Co, Schmidt said, "We now expect a renewal."

Google, based in Mountain View, California, does not hold the kind of dominant position in China's search market that it does in the US.

The search engine operated by mainland competitor Baidu has about 60 percent of the market to Google''s 30 percent.

Schmidt did not say when he expects Beijing to give it the OK.

Google''s license runs though 2012 but needs a renewal each year.

Solar powered plane completes 24-hour flight

A solar powered aircraft has become the first to complete a 24-hour flight, using batteries charged during the day to keep it aloft at night.

The aircraft touched down on runway at Payerne airfield, Switzerland at exactly 8:00 a.m., The Telegraph reports.

Helpers rushed to stabilize the pioneering plane as it touched down, ensuring that its massive 207-foot (63-meter) wingspan didn't touch the ground and topple the craft.

The team behind the project says it has now shown the single-seat plane can theoretically stay in the air indefinitely, recharging its batteries using 12,000 solar cells.

Pilot Andre Borschberg had flown over the Jura mountains west of the Swiss Alps since daybreak yesterday, absorbing sunlight to charge the batteries.

Four electric motors and propellers power the single-seater plane. It weighs about the same as a small car, despite having a 207-foot wingspan, similar to a large commercial jet. 

Puyol sends Spain into the Final

First Europe and now, possibly, the world for Spain, who won through to the Final of South Africa 2010 with a 1-0 victory over Germany in Durban. Carles Puyol's 74th-minute header repeated the single-goal triumph over Germany that secured La Roja the European title two years ago and now only the Netherlands stand between them and a first FIFA World Cup™ title.

Whatever the outcome at Soccer City on Sunday, there will be history made with a new name on the Trophy after Spain produced their best performance of these finals to end Germany's hopes of an eighth Final appearance and secure their first. Joachim Low’s men, by contrast, missing the suspended Thomas Muller, were unable to repeat the scintillating displays with which they swept aside England and Argentina and, as in 2006, suffered the anguish of semi-final defeat.

While Germany were playing in their 12th FIFA World Cup semi-final, this was Spain's first, although it was business as usual for Vicente del Bosque's side, who dominated possession. Indeed Spain might have had an early goal when Pedro, making his first start of the finals in place of Fernando Torres, slipped a through-ball to David Villa after just six minutes. Clear of the Germany defence, Villa produced a sliding finish but Manuel Neuer was out of his goal fast to deny the Spaniard.

There was another nervy moment to follow for Low's men after 14 minutes. From a short corner, Andres Iniesta drove in a centre that Puyol met with a flying header that, to the relief of the Germans, cleared the crossbar. Spain had more than 60 per cent of the ball in the game's first quarter but Germany, happy to sit deep and continue the counter-attacking game that had brought them such reward in previous matches, began to offer a threat. Lukas Podolski played in Mezut Ozil on the left and he duly supplied Miroslav Klose on the edge of the box, but the Bayern Munich forward was crowded out.

Iker Casillas was called into action for the first time just after the half-hour to turn behind a low 30-yard drive from Piotr Trochowski, the man brought in to replace Muller. On the stroke of half-time, Germany finally picked a hole in the Spain defence when Ozil broke into the box on to a pass from Klose. As Sergio Ramos challenged, the German midfielder went to ground but referee Viktor Kassai waved play on.

The second half began like the first, with Spain threatening Neuer's goal as Xabi Alonso drove narrowly wide from 25 yards, then Villa curled another attempt wide of the same post. The pressure intensified with the hour approaching and Germany's goal was lucky to survive intact. Pedro's low shot drew a fingertip save from Neuer and as Per Mertesacker dawdled over his clearance, Iniesta nipped in and drove a low ball across goal that the lunging Villa was within a whisker of reaching at the far post. With Germany still unable to clear their lines, Pedro then fired wide.

Low sought to change things, sending on Marcell Jansen in place of Jerome Boateng and, later, Toni Kroos for Trochowski. It was Kroos who had Germany's first attempt of the second half in the 69th minute, meeting Podoski's far-post cross with a side-footed shot that Casillas beat away.
Instead, with 16 minutes remaining, the decisive goal came at the other end. From a corner by Xavi, Puyol leapt above team-mate Gerard Pique and powered a header past Neuer. Pedro could have ensured a bigger margin of victory in the closing stages but he allowed Arne Friedrich to dispossess him after bursting through in a two-on-one with substitute Torres. It did not matter in the end, Spain's third successive 1-0 win carrying them into their first Final.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Corporate tax collections rise 21.7% in Q1

NEW DELHI: The government’s corporate tax collections grew a strong 21.7% in the first quarter of the current fiscal, confirming that economic recovery was beginning to translate into better profits for companies.

The Sensex was up 1% on the expectation of improved corporate performance.

Overall direct tax collections were up 15% to Rs 68,675 crore in the April-June quarter, data released by the finance ministry on Tuesday showed. India’s manufacturing had grown a strong 19.4% in April, suggesting a strong industrial recovery.

Corporate tax collections for the quarter added up to Rs 43,439 crore while personal income tax grew marginally by 1.24% to Rs 24,075 crore.

However, part of the buoyancy in direct tax collections was due to the base effect. Hit by the slowdown , corporate tax collections had grown only 3.3% in the first quarter of last fiscal while personal income tax had grown 4.4%.

The government has budgeted an overall tax mop-up of Rs 7.46 lakh crore during this fiscal, out of which Rs 4.3 lakh is to be realised from direct taxes, an increase of 13% over the amount realised last year.

The robust tax collection will help the government prune its fiscal deficit even more. It is already sitting on a Rs 65,000 crore excess windfall from 3G and broadband auction.

The fiscal deficit for current year is pegged at 5.5% of GDP. Better then budgeted realisation will help reduce government borrowing, leaving more funds for the private borrowers.

However, the realisation from the securities transaction tax (STT) declined to Rs 1,094 crore, from Rs 1,462 crore in the first quarter of previous fiscal reflecting possibly lower volumes because of the volatility in the stock market.

Advance tax collection in the first quarter was up by 31.4% to Rs 26,876 crore as against Rs 20,456 crore in the same period last fiscal.

The victory of the Dutch national team

Last Tuesday evening, more than 40 thousand fans watched the victory for the Netherlands soccer match with Uruguay, which ended with the score 3:2.

Across the country, fans are met out of the national team to the finals of the World Cup with fireworks, music, car honks and the universal rejoicing. In Rotterdam, football fans bathed in the fountains.

Obama has promised to withdraw troops from Iraq before the end of 2011

President of the United States Obama starts to fulfill its election promises. He stated that prior to August 31, 2010 will end all military operations of American troops in Iraq.

Obama has promised to withdraw troops from Iraq before the end of 2010

16 more H1N1 deaths in India in past one week

As many as 16 people have died of influenza A (H1N1) in India in the week ended July 4, taking the toll in the country since the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the swine flu as a pandemic in mid-June last year to 1601.

Of these, ten deaths occurred in Kerala, four in Maharashtra and two in Andhra Pradesh, an official statement said.

Besides, one death that occurred earlier in Gujarat had been reported to the Centre by the State Government, it said.

A total of 370 fresh cases of the flu were reported during the week, including 222 in Kerala and 72 in Maharashtra, the statement added.

Friday, July 2, 2010

USAID compound attacked in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan – Six suicide bombers attacked a USAID compound Friday in northern Afghanistan, killing at least four people and wounding several others, officials said. Two of the dead were foreigners.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which began about 3:30 a.m. when a suicide car bomber detonated a sports utility vehicle at the compound's entrance. An Afghan security guard was killed in the blast, said Gen. Abdul Razaq Yaqoubi, chief of police in Kunduz province.

Five other attackers then stormed a building used by Development Alternatives Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based global consulting company that has a contract with the United States Agency for International Aid, or USAID, to work on governance and community development in the area.

An Afghan policeman and two foreign workers — one from Germany and the other from the Philippines — were killed in the fighting, said Gen. Murad Ali Murad, a commander for the Afghan National Army.

The bodies of five suicide attackers were recovered from two floors of the building.

In Berlin, a spokesman for Germany's Foreign Ministry confirmed a German citizen had been killed in the Kunduz attack but did not elaborate. He was speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government policy.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told The Associated Press that six suicide bombers attacked a "training center" for Afghan security forces in Kunduz and killed 55 foreigners. The Taliban often exaggerate their claims.

The attack appeared part of a Taliban campaign against development projects at a time when the U.S. and its allies are trying to bolster civilian programs to shore up the Afghan government. On Wednesday, militants rocketed a base for South Korean construction workers in Parwan province but caused no casualties.

In April, a gunman killed an 18-year-old woman working for Development Alternatives, as she left her job in the southern city of Kandahar. Police believed the killing was part of a Taliban campaign against Afghans working for foreign development organizations.

"This attack shows the insurgents' desire to prevent progress, and draws attention to their true goal of serving themselves rather than the people of Afghanistan," Navy Capt. Jane Campbell, a spokesman for NATO, said, referring to the Kunduz attack.

Coalition troops provided assistance to Afghan security forces and helped wounded civilians at a nearby NATO base, she said.

Violence is rising in Afghanistan, and concern is growing in Washington and other allied capitals over the direction of the war. The 120,000-member NATO-led force is awaiting the arrival of a new commander, Gen. David Petraeus, who has warned of hard fighting this summer.

The United Nations is relocating a few dozen of its 300 foreign-hired staff because of fears about rising violence.

Last October, three gunmen with automatic weapons and suicide vests stormed a guest house used by U.N. staff in Kabul, killing at least 11 people including five U.N. workers.

NASA delays shuttle finale until 2011

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA on Thursday postponed the final two missions of the space shuttle program until November and February due to delays preparing the last load of spare parts for the International Space Station.

Shuttle Discovery’s launch on a cargo resupply mission will be postponed from September to Nov. 1, under a plan approved by NASA managers.

Sister ship Endeavour, carrying the $1.5 billion Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer particle detector, is now set to fly on Feb. 26 on the program’s 134th and final mission.

NASA initially planned to retire its three-ship fleet by the end of 2010. Congress is, however, expected to give the space agency a $600 million cushion to ease its deadline pressures.

NASA has also managed to trim the program’s $200 million monthly costs to extend shuttle operations into March 2011.

The United States is retiring the shuttles primarily due to high operating costs. The Obama administration is pushing for Congress to approve a controversial plan to fly astronauts on commercial spacecraft, freeing NASA to focus on developing bigger rockets and new technologies needed for future missions to asteroids, Mars and other destinations in the solar system.

NASA also had to pick launch dates that did not conflict with Russian, European and Japanese missions to the station or previously scheduled rocket launches and other activities at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which provides critical support services for shuttle flights.

"There’s so much traffic around the station it ultimately made the most sense to pick Nov. 1," said NASA spokesman Kyle Herring. Discovery’s delay, in turn, bumped Endeavour’s flight from November to February.

A proposal for an additional station cargo run on shuttle Atlantis, which will be prepared as an emergency rescue vehicle for the Endeavour crew, is pending, with a decision expected in August, Herring said.