Monday, February 27, 2006

Martina vs Washington Doha 06 part 2

Martina vs Washington Doha 06

here are the HQs by nouf.

i have requested nouf to post on incase he doesnt you can find him on in Marti-Party Forum under Swiss Players! ;)

hopefully he will do so.

as i myself will be on leave for a long time. and wont be able to add pictures or update my blog.

take care one and all. exam leave. see you in April or May!


Justine Henin's handwritting

can anyone read what Justine has written here?

51st filmfare awards

Other Pictures: AB Senior, Ash & AB Junior performong at the IFFA 2005. rumour has it that AB Junior & Ash are now an item. This year at the Filmfares both Asn and Junior B performed separately as she danced to the tunes of "kajra re" and to his hit numbers this year.

Amitabh Bachhan above. Below Rani Mukherji

Black, Parineeta hog limelight at Filmfare Awards
Saturday, 25 February , 2006, 22:58

Mumbai: Two of last year's biggest blockbusters Black and Parineeta stole the show in the technical awards category at the Filmfare Awards here on Saturday evening.

Parineeta won best art direction for Keshto Mondal, Tanushree Sarkar and Pradip Sarkar, best sound design for Bishwadeep Chatterjee and best choreography for Howard Rosemayer.

Black garnered awards in categories of best background music for Monty Sharma, best cinematography for Ravi K Chandran and best editing for Bela Sehgal.

Among the other winners were best action: Allan Amin (Dus), Best screenplay: Nina Arora and Manoj Tyagi (Page 3), Best Story: Sudhir Mishra (Hazaron Khwaeishen Aisi) and best dialogue: Prakash Jha (Apaharan).

The face of the year award which was voted for by viewers went to Vidya Balan and the RD Burman award for best new musical talent went to the music director of Parineeta, Shantanu Moitra.

Internationally acclaimed actress Shabana Azmi was awarded with the Lifetime Achievement Award by Filmfare for her contribution to Hindi cinema and producer Yash Chopra was given the Power Award.

In music category, ‘Bunty Aur Babli’ emerged the winner, winning best lyrics for the song ‘Kajra Re’ to Gulzar, best female playback singer to Ayesha Chinai for the same number and Best Music to the trio of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy.

The award for the best male playback singer went to Himesh Reshamiyya for ‘Aashiq Banaya Aapne’.

child actor Ayesha Kapoor won the Best Supporting Actress trophy for her role in ‘Black’, and Abhishek Bachchan won the Best Supporting Actor award for ‘Sarkar’.

Things that u dont know about Filmfare Awards

Things that u dont know about Filmfare Awards
By IndiaFM

  1. The guest of honour at the first ever awards (March 21, 1954 at the Metro theatre, Mumbai) was to be Gregory Peck. He couldn't make it--his flight from Colombo, where he was on location for Purple Plain, was delayed. But he did attend the banquet that followed at the Willingdon Sports Club.
  2. At first, the awards were called Clares after Clare Mendonca, the Times of India film critic who died the year of the first awards, 1954. However, the name didn't stick.
  3. At the first awards function, only 5 awards were presented with Do Bigha Zameen winning the award for the best film while Bimal Roy carried off the statuette for Best Director for the same film. Dilip Kumar won the first of many awards for his performance in Daag, while Meena Kumari won hers for Baiju Bawra. Best Music Director went to Naushad for Baiju Bawra.
  4. Lata Mangeshkar refused to accept her first Filmfare award because the Filmfare statuette was designed in the shape of a woman and the woman had no clothes on. So Lataji had reservations in accepting that nude statuette. Finally the award had to be wrapped with a handkerchief to be granted to Lataji.
  5. In 1962 Shammi Kapoor was expecting an award for his performance in Professor but was quite disappointed when he lost it to Ashok Kumar who won it for Rakhee. Shammi Kapoor subsequently received a letter from Ashok Kumar where Dadamuni stated that he knew how one felt to not win an award and added that he felt Kapoor deserved the award. Dadamuni's generous and magnanimous thoughts brought back a smile on Shammi Kapoor's face.
  6. In 1969 Sunil Dutt who lost it to Dilip Kumar in the Best Actor category organized a party for the thespian after the awards function. This started the trend of post-award parties.
  7. Vyajayantimala didn't accept the award for Devdas in the Best Supporting Actress category because she thought she was the lead actress of the film and not Suchitra Sen
  8. Also Pran refused to accept the award in the Best Supporting Actor category for the film Beimaan but his reason was different. He thought that the background score of Pakeezah was much better than the background score of Beimaan. But Shankar-Jaikishen won the award for Beimaan.
  9. In 1975 Yash Chopra's Deewaar swept all the awards except for the lead actor Amitabh Bachchan.
  10. Also surprisingly the biggest blockbuster hit Sholay won only one Filmfare Award in 1975 and that too for Best Editing.
  11. In the 1981 Filmfare Awards, Kishore Kumar was supposed to sing only 2 songs for the event. But he was so involved in the performance that he sang continuously for almost one hour. Accompanying him on the stage was his brother Ashok Kumar and son Amit Kumar. And later Kishore Kumar instead of singing his award winning song crooned Mohammed Rafi's song.
  12. Vani Ganpathi and Kamal Haasan got married on the day of the 25th Filmfare Awards. And they made a spectacular entry with their garlands still around their necks. That year Vinod Mehra also postponed his honeymoon with wife Meena Broaca to attend the function. Both marriages did not survive.
  13. Choreographer B. Sohanlal who was the president of the choreographer's association consistently appealed to the Filmfare to have an award for Best choreography. But his plea was answered only in 1988 when the Best Choreography Award was conceived. And the first choreography award was won by Sohanlal's disciple Saroj Khan for the Ek Do Teen number from Tezaab.
  14. The Doordarshan had an objection with Amitabh Bachchan's performance on the Jumma Chumma number on the Filmfare Awards event as the movie Hum had not yet been released by then and the song remained uncensored. The channel threatened to sue Filmfare for this but the matter subsequently dissolved.
  15. In 1991 Dimple Kapadia gave a special award to husband Rajesh Khanna for completing 26 years in the film industry. In the same year Gulzar gave an award to his ex-wife Rakhee in the Best Supporting Actress category for Ram Lakhan. And while handing over the trophy Gulzar in a very mischievous fashion said to Rakhee “Aji Sunti Ho”.
  16. As the Filmfare award function of 1991 came to an end, the entire mob of audience ran towards Amitabh Bachchan as he stood up near the pool. The pool was covered with planks and one of the planks cracked. At that moment Amitabh Bachchan did a real action hero stint by moving forward and picked up Rakhee who was very close to the cracked plank thereby averting a mishap.
  17. After winning numerous awards singer Lata Mangeshkar voluntary ousted herself from the Filmfare awards nominations so that fresh talents can get a chance. And after decades, in 1995, Lata Mangeshkar accepted the Best Playback Singer award for Hum Aapke Hai Koun! once again on popular demand.

for more such trivia visit above link. it will be updated shortly. ;)

Bush Administration's Discovery of India

Bush Administration's Discovery of India
Sunday, February 26, 2006 01:07:15 amTIMES NEWS NETWORK

March 25, 2005 was not a particularly eventful day newswise in the US or across the world. It was a Good Friday, the birthday of singer Aretha Franklin, the death anniversary of Saudi King Faisal, and the anniversary of the start of the war for liberation of Bangladesh.

The Terry Schiavo case dominated American papers and The New York Times had a story on how the real estate craze was replacing the dotcom bubble. Nothing particularly spectacular on the news scale.

Over at the State Department in Washington DC's Foggy Bottom, beat reporters were asked to tootle up to the briefing room for a background chat with three top Administration mandarins who by protocol could not be named, and who went by the bland appellation of Senior Administration Official (SAO) One, Two, Three. The topic of discussion was South Asia.

Some reporters shrugged; that meant India and Pakistan. Same old, same old. For beat journos fed on a diet of Middle East, Iraq, Russia, Eastern Europe, China etc, it was way down the exciting news list — not unless India and Pakistan were about to go to war or nuke each other.

More recently, Afghanistan and Pakistan came under the War on Terror, but India? After a brief moment in the sun during the Clinton days after the nuclear tests in 1998, the story was conceded to the commerce department and trade reporters — about all those outsourced jobs.

Unbeknownst to reporters though, the year had begun with a series of top-level meetings in the White House between the President and his principals — key cabinet officials including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley and others.

On the agenda was a complete makeover of American policy in Asia, ranging from the middle east to far east. The US was getting increasingly isolated and friendless.

It needed a strong ally, an ally with whom it had common interest and values. Over several sessions, the strategy began to take shape.

When the briefing began, SAO One might have known he had a tough job on his hands getting reporters interested in the South Asia story.

"I'm going to explain this a little bit because I want you folks to kind of really have an understanding of it, so forgive me if it seems a little bit educational," he began, "But I think it's important that you really have a feel for the strategy..."

He then intoned about how "the Administration has made a fundamental judgment that the future of this region as a whole is simply vital to the future of the United States.

You've got India, which is the most populous democracy on earth and it's soon to pass China as the most populous country on earth.

You've got Pakistan, which is the second most populous Muslim country in the world and, by the way, the only one with nuclear weapons..." That sounded very much like same old, same old.

It was only when SAO One spoke about Secretary Rice having travelled to India the previous week to present the outline of the new US strategy for Asia did the story acquire some immediacy.

His next words were quite stunning, and seen in hindsight, will probably rank as the weightiest foreign policy statement from the US in the early years of the century.

"Its (the new policy's) goal is to help India become a major world power in the 21st century," he said, adding without being asked to amplify, "We understand fully the implications, including military implications, of that statement."

Those were the 26 words which rearranged — or were designed to change — the matrix of US-India relations.

But such esoteric concepts as redrawing the strategic contours of the world are not easily translatable into flashy news headlines.

It is the stuff of academic journals and foreign policy magazines. However, as the SAO continued his briefing, the "news peg" (in journalistic lingo) appeared: the US was ready to supply F-16s to Pakistan and President Bush had called Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to convey this; India could also have a choice of F-16s or F-18s.

The beat reporters perked up. Oh really? How many to Pakistan? Didn't the Indians object?

Reviewing the transcripts of the briefing almost a year later, it is astonishing to see how much of the questions that followed were about the F-16s. Almost all.

There was hardly a question about the new strategic alignment. In vain did the official try and bring the focus back to the big picture, highlighting the difference between the US approach to India as against Pakistan.

"The strategic dialogue (with India) will include global issues, the kind of issues you would discuss with a world power," he said.

"Look at the National Security Strategy document announced in the fall of 2002. It outlined a vision for strengthened strategic relationships, especially with India and Pakistan, spotlighting the significance of India."

But it was useless. The story of the day was F-16s. Three months later, the workaday media again missed a tectonic shift in US-India sphere.

This time it was Indian defence minister Pranab Mukherjee who came to Washington to meet, among others, his American counterpart Donald Rumsfeld.

They signed an agreement titled 'New Framework for the US-India Defence Relationship', which described a ten-year military alliance between the two countries.

Although it largely read as a statement of intent, the document was hugely ambitious in its size and scope, envisaging a broad range of joint activities, including collaborating in multinational operations "when it is in their common interest" (outside the peacekeeping domain), strengthening the capabilities of the two militaries to promote security and defeat terrorism, and enhancing capabilities to combat the proliferation of WMDs.

Once again, the deal went largely unreported by the US media, by now in the throes of America's Iraq war.

When Mukherjee returned home to India, he was roasted by leftist politicians for agreeing to be an American lapdog, a charge that would start to amplify in the coming months.

It was only when Manmohan Singh came to Washington in July 2005 and signed the nuclear energy agreement with President Bush that implicitly acknowledged India's nuclear power status that the full import of the US-India alliance, still wrapped in the overused term "strategic partnership", began to dawn in both countries. This was no ordinary deal.

An increasingly friendless US had zeroed in on a prospective ally on the other side of the globe — a country with which it had finally recognised it has common ideals, common perceptions, common threats — and to which it could perhaps someday outsource its troubles instead of its jobs. The rest, like the nuclear energy deal, was just a matter of detail.

Sunday Times of India

Prez-ing forward over the decades
26th Feb, 06

When George W Bush arrives in New Delhi on March 1, he will be only the fifth American president to visit India, after Dwight Eisenhower in 1959, Richard Nixon in 1969, Jimmy Carter in 1978 and Bill Clinton in 2000.

So while there was a decade's gap between the first three presidential visits, and two decades between Carter and Clinton, it is only about six years — the shortest span — between Clinton and Bush.

Some would say it's about four years too many. The Bush push for India, building on the blocks that Clinton laid out after New Delhi's 1998 nuclear tests, emerged in a National Security Strategy document announced in the fall of 2002, which outlined a vision for strengthened strategic relationships with India, highlighting its primacy in the region and its rise as a regional power and global force. But it would be another couple of years before Bush acted on it in practical ways.

Such lurching progress is typical of US-India relations that has seen so many ups and downs that it has engendered terms such as 'Estranged Democracies' and 'Engaged Demo-cracies'.

In the old days, books on the subject had titles such as 'The Cold Peace' and 'The Unfriendly Friends'. Now it's 'India: Emerging Power' and 'Rising India'.

Here, in STOI's assessment, are the historic highs and lows of US-India relations over the years...

1942 Franklin Delano Roosevelt pushed for India's independence with a reluctant Winston Churchill.

He continued to press Churchill over the years even as the latter grew resentful after every discussion on the subject. The American influence counted when Britain finally relented.

1962 During the India-China war, Kennedy responded positively to Nehru's plea for arms and support. "I want to give you support as well as sympathy," Kennedy wrote in response to a message from Nehru.

The US sent nuclear carrier USS Enterprise to the region as a show of solidarity. 1966-67The US supplied millions of tons of wheat to stave off a famine in India. The aid was not without a catch (see lows).

The US also wrote off nearly $2 billion owed by India and for many years that waiver held the record for the single largest amount ever written on a cheque.

1999 President Clinton summoned Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharief to Washington and forced him to withdraw from Kargil. He also said the Line of Control in Kashmir cannot be redrawn by force and signalled a huge change of policy by the US on the issue.

2005 Bush built on the Clinton initiative to get closer to India, signalling a dramatic realignment in the region.

The new policy's goal is to help India become a major world power in the 21st century. "We understand fully the implications, including military, of that statement," officials declared.

1948 Truman Administration engineered the UNSC resolution on Kashmir, ignoring the fact that Pakistan was the aggressor.

The move would set the tone on Kashmir for the next half century. Nehru warned that the US stance would have far-reaching consequences.

1953 Secretary of State John Foster Dulles visited the region and bought Ayub Khan's plea that the US should provide weapons to Pakistan to meet the growing communist menace. It started a military relationship that made Pakistan an arms junkie.

1966-67 In the face of a famine, US supplied India with food but kept the supply line so tight, it gave rise to the expression "ship to mouth".

A bitter Mrs Gandhi said India would never again beg for food. The result was the Green Revolution — with US help!

1971 After Pakistan cracked down on its eastern wing and attacked India in the west, the Nixon-Kissinger duo openly supported Pakistan and sent USS Enterprise to the Bay of Bengal to browbeat India. It would take many years to undo this damage to the relationship.

1979-80 Following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the US began recklessly arming Pakistan.

The Soviets were repelled, but it led to the jihadi culture, debilitation of Pakistan and birth of Al-Qaida, the result of which both US and India have had to bear

President Bush to play Cricket!!!! by golly can he do that!

I'm a cricket person: Bush
February 25, 2006 - 10:05AM

US President George Bush said this week "I'm a cricket match person" - and he'll have a chance to show it at a cricket event during his brief upcoming trip to Pakistan.

Details were hard to come by, but White House aides said on Friday that Bush was expected to mingle with cricket-playing children and meet of the sport's professional players during his stop in Pakistan.

It was unclear whether the US president, an avid baseball fan, would bat or bowl.

"It is planned as an opportunity for him to watch and learn a little bit about it. But, you know, who knows what he'll do?" said Bush national security adviser Stephen Hadley. "I have not asked him."

The president himself left no doubt that he'd rather play cricket than see a Bollywood movie, telling reporters on Wednesday that given the choice: "I'm a cricket match person."

"As I understand it, I may have a little chance to learn something about cricket. It's a great pastime," he said.

Bimal Roy: The Director of Hindi Cinema Classics

The gentle genius
Sunday, February 26, 2006 12:34:16 amTIMES NEWS NETWORK

His Do Bigha Zameen, the touching tale of a dispossessed peasant, was the first winner of the Filmfare award in 1954. Forty years after his death, his films continue to reign in the hearts of cineastes.

Despite his body of path-breaking work, why was Bimal Roy never given the glittering status of a Raj Kapoor, Mehboob or Shantaram or, indeed, the posthumous global acclaim accorded to Guru Dutt? While Roy's daughter, Rinki Bhattacharya, disagrees that Roy has been overshadowed by his contemporaries in the popular mindset, she says her father was "soft-spoken and shy like his films".

"The media explosion had yet to happen, but in any case, he was a very private person," he says. "He was not chatty or approachable."

Bimal Roy never pandered to the fanzines' yen for controversy, says Bhattacharya; he was content with the real success that came with making meaningful cinema.

"He remained untouched by the occupational hazards of directing beautiful, talented women, and was not given to temper tantrums or loud parties," she declares.

"The memories may have turned sepia now, but actors like Dilip Kumar and Sadhana were once proud to be repeated in his projects."

Decades after they were made, Roy's films continue to influence young directors. Ashutosh Gowariker says he is fascinated by the way Roy so effortlessly combined social commitment and entertainment in his cinema.

"Sujata made such a strong statement against the caste system while the angst of the impoverished farmer reached out to everybody through Do Bigha Zameen," he says.

Gowariker was quite elated when Rinki Bhattacharya told him that Lagaan reminded people of Do Bigha Zameen.

"I was not inspired by any one director during Lagaan, nor did I make a conscious effort to emulate anybody," he says.

"But certain images or elements of Bimal Roy's cinema have stayed with me through my growing years, which is probably why certain people say it reminds them of his work. I am flattered when they say that.

Scriptwriter Anjum Rajabali says that Bimal Roy does appear to be overshadowed by the showmanship of Raj Kapoor and the cult status that Guru Dutt achieved after his death.

"But I believe that Roy's cinema is a lesson in how social subjects can be tackled within the popular format," he says.

"Every film of his took up a relevant issue and treated it so beautifully by using all the conventional elements of cinema, like dance, music and drama.

The fact that Roy had his roots firmly in Bengal possibly rendered him more niche than his contemporaries' urban or typically pan-Indian films, but the difference in setting strikes one only when comparisons are drawn with the 'Hindi-ised' nature of Raj Kapoor and Guru Dutt films.

Otherwise, Roy's films, despite having a distinctly Bengal flavour, were totally universal.

He may have looked to a familiar milieu and found stories waiting to be told in its literature and on its streets (Parineeta, Biraj Bahu, Devdas, Kabuliwalla, Parakh, Sujata and Bandini), but the specificity never limited the genericity of the subjects—the caste system, untouchability and bonded labour were not Bengali phenomena, and dejected lovers anywhere in the world hit the bottle to this day.

"Even now, books are being written about the Kapoor family and websites are set up in memory of Guru Dutt," says Rajabali.

"But we need to make a strong effort to popularise the films of Bimal Roy, even Mehboob for that matter, especially now that India is rediscovering cinema which imparts a social message.

(The Bimal Roy Foundation is holding its annual 'Smriti Sandhya', featuring songs from Roy's films, at St Andrew's auditorium on March 1.)

The Oscar alley beckons

The Oscar alley beckons

Meena Iyer[ Sunday, February 26, 2006 12:35:59 amTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]

The Oscars are upon us. And nowhere is this more apparent than in the foreign films hitting marquees across India.

In the last two weeks, four Oscar-nominated flicks—Joe Wright's Pride and Prejudice, Rob Marshall's Memoirs Of A Geisha, Paul Haggis' Crash and Bennett Miller's Capote—have been released. And on March 3, just three days prior to the Oscar ceremony, Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain is also due.

Is this sheer coincidence or is there a hidden agenda? While trade analyst Amod Mehra believes that foreign film distributors typically choose this period for release ("Major Hindi films are held till the end of April because of school exams, and this is the only time English films can get a better run in multiplexes"), Vikramjit Roy of Sony Pictures, the company that brought Memoirs of A Geisha and Capote to India, says the move is part of a deliberate marketing strategy.

"I don't know if people in India are aware that there's something called the Oscar alley which gets into motion a little after the Golden Globe Awards, BAFTA and the Screen Actors' Guild Awards are announced," says Roy.

"The buzz actually starts from the Golden Globes since this is the first major awards category. And the BAFTA and Screen Actors' Guild Awards are strong indicators of who the winners at the Oscars could be.

Once the Academy nominations are announced, the wire agencies in Hollywood show a renewed interest in news stories about the nominated movies, and the Indian press picks up the scent.

This helps the films capture attention—especially slightly offbeat films like Memoirs and Capote which don't have a high marketing spend and therefore rely on buzz marketing.

Ajay Gupta of Multivision Multimedia India (P) Ltd, who brought Crash to India this week, says that nominated films are strategically released a couple of weeks before the Oscar ceremony.

"Once the awards are announced, only the winners have a clear advantage," he says. "On the other hand, this gambit helps the entire line-up of nominated films.

People want to see them all and then guess which of them will pick up the awards." Gupta, however, claims that only his company had actually planned the release of Crash and announced it a month ago.

"The other guys just jumped into the fray at the last minute."

When so many films come together, doesn't it prove it counter-productive at the box-office? Gupta admits it does. "They are bound to eat into one another's collections," he says.

"But despite this, releasing Oscar-nominated films closer to the Academy Awards is the best time to make money on them.

" Adds Mehra, "Most of the nominated films are niche. Only the elite audience or true lovers of cinema patronise them. So their advantage is double if they come prior to the actual ceremony.

Mehra also points out that India once imported only 50 to 60 English films in an entire year. "Now, we import at least 120 films a year.

For these films to get a good run in the theatres, the importer has to work doubly hard at creating a buzz. And the magic word here is 'Oscar'."

Vikramjit Roy believes that multiplexes have helped importers to a large extent. "Earlier we had to be content with releasing Hollywood films in the city centre or in single-screen theatres," he says.

"And the audience in the suburbs missed out on them because of the distance factor. Now the same socio-economic class of people frequent the multiplexes in the suburbs and in the city centre.

So our films are finding more patronage. And yes, the man in a distant suburb in India is as aware of the charisma of the Oscar as the man in Beverly Hills is."

The Oscar gyaan, then—coupled, of course, with a few tricks from the marketing gurus—probably does go a long way in ensuring better box-office collections. At the end of the day it's the money that counts.

Open Space: TOI

this is a Sunday special on the Times of India. selected Q&As

When did James Bond make his debut?

James Bond made his debut in Ian Fleming's book Casino Royale in 1953. This British spy has gone on to save the world from assorted sinister groups and megalomaniacs in several books. His enduring appeal probably lies in high-speed chases involving souped-up cars, charming sultry women and coming up trumps. Several actors have played Bond but the latest choice Daniel Craig has so incensed fans that they have launched a website to vent their anger.

— Sunil K, Chennai

What are Mersenne numbers?

Mersenne numbers are named after Fr Mersenne, a 16th century Italian mathematician. They are one less than powers of 2. The powers of 2 are 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128... so Mersenne Numbers are 1, 3, 7, 15, 31, 63, 127... The importance of these numbers is that when a Mersenne number is a prime p, (the so called Mersenne prime), then the number p(p + 1)/2 is a perfect number. Perfect numbers are numbers that are equal to the sum of their own divisors. All the divisors of 6 (other than 6 itself) are 1, 2 and 3. Their sum is again 6. So 6 is a perfect number and arises from the Mersenne prime 3. The Mersenne prime 7 gives the perfect number 28, the Mersenne prime 31 leads to the perfect number 496 and so on.

— Arun Vaidya, Ahmedabad

What is the origin of the term 'cat's cradle'?

Cat's cradle is a game in which an intricately looped string is transferred from the hands of one player to the next, resulting in a succession of loop patterns. It used to be a socio-religious activity carried out by small Greek communities in ancient times. On designated days, members used to transfer such looped strings, called cat's cradles, from hand to hand to invoke blessings and bring good luck.

— Rajeshwari Singh, New Delhi

Why do stars twinkle at night?

Stars seem to twinkle or change their brightness all the time. In fact, most stars shine with a steady light. The movement of air (sometimes called turbulence) in the Earth's atmosphere causes the starlight to get slightly bent as it travels from the distant star through the atmosphere to us on the ground. Some of the light reaches us directly but some gets bent slightly. This gives the illusion of twinkling. Stars closer to the horizon appear to twinkle more than others. This is because the atmosphere is a lot denser near the horizon than between the Earth and a star higher in the sky.

— Rikin B Gandhi, Mumbai

you can find this every Sunday here:

Henin-Hardenne beats Sharapova in Dubai tennis final

TOI, Sunday 26th Feb,06

DUBAI: Justine Henin-Hardenne won her 25th career title when she defeated Maria Sharapova 7-5 6-2 in the final of the Dubai Open.

It was the fourth-seeded Belgian's third Dubai title and her second tournament victory of the year after winning in Sydney and finishing as runner-up at the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Third seed Sharapova, denied her 11th career title in her first final since she won on grass in Birmingham in June, was particularly adventurous in trying her luck at the net withvarying degrees of success.

However, the 18-year-old Russian's limitations were exposed in the latter stages when she lacked patience in the rallies and failed to build a winning position.

Sharapova had to fight off two break points at 3-3, but then broke to lead 5-3 when she hit a drop shot so perfect that it caused her astonished opponent to drop her racquet, and then mis-hit a backhand wide.

Henin-Hardenne, though, responded by denying Sharapova as she served for the set and from 5-5 conceded just one more point.

Henin-Hardenne broke to lead 3-2 in the second set when Sharapova netted a forehand from the Belgian's fierce return. Having moved exceptionally well throughout the match,Henin-Hardenne made it count the most at 4-2 when she ran down a ball from Sharapova and made a glorious backhand winner to earn a second break.

A dispirited Sharapova made one final effort to rescue the match, but Henin-Hardenne held off two break points before claiming victory.

After gaining a revenge 6-3 6-4 win over Hingis in the afternoon, Sharapova alleviated the boredom by doing her online studies for her high school degree.

She then came out and beat defending champion Davenport in a match which ended close to midnight. Henin's win over Kuznetsova extended her unbeaten run to 14 matches in Dubai.

Pet Power

Sun 26th Feb 06

Studies prove that pets have an uncanny ability to heal emotional & physical ailments. BT unravels more about pet therapy.

It is simply heart warming to see your pet dog waiting for you at the doorstep or your cat purring away to glory as you enter your house.Studies have found that your furry or feathery friend can do a lot not only for your mental health but also for bettering your health. And if you are older, a pet can offer you a sense of encouragement, and even a reason for living.

Interestingly, in a recent review published in the British Medical Journal, researchers stress upon the positive benefits, both physical and mental of the close relationship between man and animal --- pet and the owner. We all know about the fact that close relationships have a powerful influence on well-being and so the innate exercise of owning a pet may confer more benefits than expected.

The 'pet' benefits

  • Run with your dog and you will maintain your fitnes levels. If you have a pet dog at home, you dont really need to worry because you will be exercising regularly.
  • Generally elderly people living alone or in a long-term care facility often feel isolated and suffer from loneliness and depression. Having an animal in their lives can change all that. Pets decrease your feelings of loneliness & depression. Having a pet emulates the smoetional support you find in close relationships. However, having an animal around isnt alwasy practical especially in case of Alzheimer's disease,as it put the animal's safety at risk.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Hingis vs Sharapova(Dubai open 2006) pictures

here are the pictures:

Martina Hingis' post match comments after defeat against Sharapova


Even losing doesn't really upset the Swiss Miss. Despite crashing out to Maria Sharapova in the Dubai Open women's championship quarter-finals, Martina Hingis was her usual bubbly, giggly self at her post match interview yesterday.

Hingis, the former world No.1, had beaten Sharapova in Tokyo a couple of weeks earlier. So what happened here? "She (Sharapova) played really well. She's tall and that gives her the advantage of being able to hit some great top spins. I came up short at the end," said Hingis, ranked 50 now.

"I wasn't concentrated enough today. I made quite a few unforced errors. But she played well (even though) the crowd was carrying me today."

Dubai loves an underdog. In the first round around 5,000 throats roared for Sania Mirza when she played Hingis. Yesterday, the show court crowd raised their voices for Hingis. After all the Swiss miss was playing a world number four and seeded third here.

When Hingis was asked if Sharapova's grunting affected her own performance, Hingis giggled and then said: "Actually it was quite funny.

"Hingis, who got a wild card for the Dubai Open, said her short-term goal is to get into the top 15. "I need to get seeded for tournaments so that I don't have to play (Amelie) Mauresmo or (Justine) Henin in the first round.

"Over the past few days, quite a few of her rivals said Hingis is playing at a level within the top 20 in the world. "She could easily be in the top 20 or 15," said Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova, a former US Open champion.

Hingis also said doing things a bit more carefully these days to stay injury-free. It was niggling small injuries that forced Hingis to call it quits three years back when she was top gun in the women's draw.

On her relationship with her mother, Hingis said with a big smile: "We don't fight as much anymore. She's getting older too and I'm trying to keep her stress-free."

Love all between Melanie and Martina Hingis

Love all between mother and Hingis

By Alaric Gomes, Staff Reporter

Dubai: Former World No 1 Martina Hingis has made her peace with her mother.

Older and much wiser now than what she was a few years back, the Swiss Miss admitted they do not squabble as often now as they used to before.

"We probably do not fight as much as we used to before," Hingis said after losing to Maria Sharapova in the quarter-finals of the Dubai Duty Free Open yesterday.

The relationship between Martina Hingis and her mother, Melanie Molitor, who doubles up as her coach has been the centre of attention in the past. In 2001, Melanie went on record to state that she was withdrawing from her position as the coach to her high-profile and often-volatile daughter.

Subsequently, Hingis stopped playing on the Tour for the first time in 2001 when she tore ligaments in right ankle at the Filderstadt Open. That loss caused her to lose her No 1 ranking to Jennifer Capriati after 73 consecutive weeks. She had an ankle injury in October that year, and missed the remainder of the season.

Successful return:

In 2002, Hingis made a successful return to the Tour following a three-month lay-off, snapping off a 13-tournament drought to win the Sydney Open.

Hingis did not play in 2003, disclosing that she wanted to take an indefinite break from the game. She did not play the next season too. Hingis made a comeback on the Tour in 2005 at Pattaya City as an unranked wild card, before falling to No 73 Marlene Weingartner in three sets.

One thing making the difference in the relationship between mother and daughter is the three-year break that Hingis took when she saw her ranking slip down.

However, with the break came the realisation and maturity even as the teen years faded in the background. Melanie is presently accompanying her daughter in Dubai.

"My mum is the person who knows me best. She is aware of what I am capable of? she knows me inside out. So maybe she is the best person I can fight with," Hingis said.

For the moment, the Swiss Miss has been pretty successful on her comeback, her most notable achievement thus far being the mixed doubles title with India's Mahesh Bhupathi at the Australian Open this year.


Clouds thicken over Williams sisters' future

Clouds thicken over Williams sisters' future

By Richard Eaton

DUBAI (AFP) - Venus and Serena Williams have pulled out of the 1million dollars Dubai Duty Open, further increasing fears that the sisters who dominated the game during the early part of the game will never be the same again.

Venus has withdrawn with a right arm strain which is said to have worsened in training, and Serena declared she had a problem with an ongoing knee injury and did not want to risk it.

"I don't want to compete until my knee feels completely better," said Serena, whose problems are compounded by a related increase in weight which brought jibes from spectators during last month's Australian Open in Melbourne.

This was the only tournament which the former winner of all four Grand Slams has played this year, during which she has so far won only two matches. Serena has not won a tournament since the Australian Open more than 13 months ago.

Venus' predicament seems almost as bad, not having won a match this year, having played one tournament only, and not having won a title since Wimbledon nearly eight months ago.

Venus has slipped to number ten in the world and Serena to 44, which means that she cannot any longer be seeded in good quality events.
However the recently returned former world number one 'Swiss Miss' Martina Hingis doesn't believe that they will retire.

"I can't just see them walking away from the game, no."

But with professional tennis developing all the time and both sisters having time-consuming interests outside the sport, it is becoming harder all the time for them to catch up again.

This may be what Venus has in mind, particularly after appearing to be at a low ebb at Dubai this time last year, and somehow going on to an unexpected triumph in regaining the Wimbledon title.

The Dubai event has however been able to obtain at short notice an excellent replacement.

Amelie Mauresmo, who achieved her life's ambition with her first Grand Slam title at Melbourne a month ago, has agreed to step in and will take over from Lindsay Davenport as the top seed.

Mauresmo is also in the form of her life, having won the WTA year-end championships in Los Angeles three months ago, and winning 21 matches out of 23 up until Sunday's final against Kim Clijsters in the Diamond Games in Antwerp.

"I've achieved everything I wanted in my career," said Mauresmo.
"The Fed Cup, being world number one and winning a Grand Slam. But it's great to be able to come back to Dubai,"

How great remains to be seen, because she should have a semi-final with Justine Henin-Hardenne, who will be playing her first tournament since being unable to complete the Aussie Open final against Mauresmo because of a viral problem, and may be aching to atone for it.

Other withdrawals include Patty Schnyder, the world number nine from Switzerland, and Sevtlana Kuznetsova, the 2004 US Open champion from Russia.

Another Russian, Anastasia Myskina, moves up to the sixth seeding spot, hoping to regain the form which last year won her the French Open title, but discovering she has a possible second round with Hingis.

That however will depend upon Myskina getting past Zheng Jie, who has taken over as the leading player in a rising Chinese group, and upon Hingis surviving a first round against Sania Mirza, whose victory over Kuznetsova here last year was watched by 38 million people on television in India.

Published : February 20, 2006

New Tennis show: ACE on Espn-Star Sports

This weeks show:

  • A look-back at the Australian Open~ the more memorable moments and the crowning of the 2006 champions. Expert critique from Alan Wilkins - not to be missed!

  • The ATP tour has kicked off with a bang ~ see the latest results and highlights.

  • Check out who's making headlines as we serve you a weekly dose of Acepresso

  • Want to know your game better? While the professionals make it look so easy, Louise Pleming takes the amateurs back to basics. Lesson One: How to grip the racket.

  • Martina Hingis tells us her story in an exclusive interview ~ the youngest Grand Slam champion, with nine career Grand Slam doubles titles and five singles Grand Slam titles to her name, she sent shockwaves when she announced her retirement at the age of 22. And now, Hingis is back! Catch her in this week's Sony Ericsson feature.

  • Feel the beat on the ladies tour as we bring you all the action from the WTA circuit

  • We also review our Top Five Play of the week

All this and more on the new tennis show, ACE, on STAR Sports!

All Channels
Country: India
Sports: TENNIS

From: 25-Feb-2006 To: 11-Mar-2006
Key: L (Live); S (Same Day Delay); A (As Live); T (Taped); R (Repeat)

Date Time Sport Channel Event title Duration
02-Mar-06 23:02 STAR Sports ACE (T) 00:28
05-Mar-06 05:00 STAR Sports ACE (R) 00:30
09-Mar-06 23:02 STAR Sports ACE (T) 00:28
11-Mar-06 06:00 STAR Sports ACE (R) 00:30

for schedules about your country please visit the link above.

Alternatives to living without chicken in your diet!

hmmm.......... :P

Fringe Benefit Tax: Budget 2006

Why FM may not remove fringe benefit tax

February 25, 2006

It's impossible to become a successful politician without polarising opinions. The current finance minister has his passionate supporters. He also has his equally passionate detractors.

They agree on two points. One is that he is an extremely smart man and a very quick study. The other is that he's stubborn to a degree.

Those two traits must have been in conflict with specific reference to the FBT while he was drafting this Union Budget. The drafts must be done and dusted already, except perhaps for the odd quote.

PC could hardly have failed to realise that the so-called Fringe Benefit Tax has caused screams of distress across the length and breadth of corporate and professional India.

There are many arguments in favour of scrapping the tax altogether and writing the experiment off to experience. If instead, he raises compensatory revenue by adding 100-150 basis points onto corporate tax (1-1.5 per cent to the current effective rate of 33.6 per cent), most corporates will pay gladly to be rid of the turbulence caused by FBT.

But scrapping the tax would involve a tacit admission that he made an error of judgement by imposing it in the first place. So, he may not do that. In which case, he will probably add another subset of clarifications and turn it into an even more bewildering impost.

That is one of the many irritating things about FBT. It requires separate audits and filings and, for small organisations, those expenses may exceed the value of the tax paid.

It is also levied regardless of profits -- a lossmaker still has to pay FBT. In the way its currently levied, entirely legitimate business expenses (travel, marketing, phone bills) are also taxed.

There are anomalies in the way that medical claims and car loans are taxed, which could cause more distress to somebody at the lower end of the corporate totem pole. There is a puzzlingly differential treatment of industry as well -- IT companies have some exemptions that ITES companies don't.

The treatment of pension contributions is particularly strange. Many corporates have simply restructured compensation packages and done away with pension contributions to avoid this; in some cases, the company is bearing the extra tax burden on pension contributions; in other cases, the employees are paying the tax. India doesn't have a social security system, which makes this concept worse.

After all this trouble, the government isn't likely to raise a great deal of extra revenue through FBT. It would probably make a great deal more (and cause less wastage of human resources) if it just junked it.

The FM cited the example of Australia when he imposed the tax last year. The Aussie version doesn't treat pensions, medical expenses, legit business expenses quite the same way. In the 2005 Budget, PC also said that he wanted India to come closer to the Asean tax regimes in style. None of the Asean nations has an FBT at all.

Why, you may wonder, am I blathering on about a relatively minor measure in an era of enormous change? I suspect that the FM's treatment of FBT could be most crucial in terms of what it does to short-term sentiment. If he removes it, the market might rise in relief. If he adds another 30-odd clarifications and notifications to FBT instead, the market will be less than happy.

Idea cellular: Tata-Birla spat intensifies

February 25, 2006 15:54 IST

Intensifying their attack on Tatas on the issue of stakeholding in joint venture Idea, Birlas shot off yet another letter to the government alleging that the former had not disclosed acquisition of AWS of Mauritius in the venture.

But Tatas are holding their ground -- that they are not under any such obligation and would sell their equity at an appropriate time for a fair value -- and will respond to Birla's second missive in a day or two, sources in the know said.

Following up its communication earlier this month, A V Birla group wrote to Department of Telecommunication that Tatas were not complying with the licence conditions and they should be asked to expeditiously bring their stake in Idea to below 10 per cent from over 48 per cent now.

Tatas had acquired the equity of Mauritius-based AWS in Idea through their wholly owned subsidiary AT&T cellular in September last year, sources said, wondering as to why acquisition of foreign equity belonging to Cingular by Birlas had not become an issue earlier.

Industry sources feel that the two oldest corporate groups in India are clashing possibly over the valuation of Tata's holding in Idea, in which both Tatas and Birlas have right of refusal in case the other sells.

However, Tatas are scouting for buyers and are believed to be in talks with a number of players including Maxis, but no confirmation could be ascertained.

While Birlas have amplified their earlier point of view and sought further clarification on the issues raised by Tatas in their rejoinder sent to Department of Telecom (DoT) urging that no regulatory compulsion could be applied on them to sell equity.

Sources said any ruling in favour of Birlas could mean a distress sale for Tatas of their equity and they may not get the proper value for their holding.

The point has also been highlighted by Tatas themselves, when they told DoT that there was no time bar for such a process and they would sell their equity at an appropriate time when they get a fair value for their stake.

Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata had earlier said that holding in Idea was purely an investment decision, sources pointed out and said that Tatas were not participating in any major decision of the company including appointment of CEO despite the fact that the group has pumped in about Rs 800 crore (Rs 8 billion) to acquire stake in the joint venture.

In its second letter, Birlas wanted to know as to why no prior permission was taken by Tatas for acquiring AWS equity and absence of discloure was having 'all round impact' on the company's business.

On the other hand, sources say that Tatas are not interfering with the business nor are they imposing any decision despite the regulatory clause that consent of any serious Indian partner (having over 10 per cent equity) was a must for taking any decision by a telecom player.

When contacted, Birla group officials declined to comment on the issues raised in their letter as also if they would be interested to buy out Tatas from Idea using the agreement clause of first right of refusal.

Maintaining that after prior permission of DoT it had increased its shareholding in Idea to 50.14 per cent by acquiring a portion of shares held by foreign promoter of Idea, Birlas said in the letter of February 22 that "the Tata Group's Mauritius transactions required prior permission and was incapable of receiving that permission and was yet transacted without permission."

In their letter of February 18, Tatas quoted the pre-bid clarifications issued by the DoT to say that the promoters are persons who hold shares in the licencee company and it relied on this to assert that AT&T cellular, Mauritius, continued to be a promoter of Idea and any change in shareholding of AT&T Cellular was of no consequence to DoT.

Seeking to counter various points made by Tatas, Birlas said in their latest communication that "licence conditions required the Tata Group to reduce their shareholding in Idea, direct and indirect, to nil."

In perspective of licence conditions, Birlas said that "it is totally inconsistent with the national telecom policy that a business group, while maintaining its own telco operation, should first build, and continue for two years with impermissible holdings in another competing company."

In this context, Birlas questioned further augmenting of holding in Idea saying this impeded investment, caused loss to government revenue besides eroding the competitiveness of the joint venture and questioned the rationale behind seeking "protracted time to encash maximum value for holdings which were irregular in the first place."

Pending the final decision, Birlas requested that Tatas be directed not to exercise voting rights or management control in Idea.

Union Communications Minister Dayanidhi Maran remained non-committal on the ongoing spat between Tatas and Birlas over their telecom joint venture Idea.

On persistent queries, he told PTI: "We are looking into the issue," but declined to elaborate

'Let us define genocide, crime against humanity'

February 25, 2006 17:50 IST

The government should take steps to define genocide, war crimes and crime against humanity to bring these on the statute book as it will help tackle the menace of terrorism, Bar Association of India Chairman and noted jurist Fali S Nariman said on Saturday.

"Even if we don't ratify the Rome Treaty, at least our penal laws should define these crimes so that those who commit such crimes can be punished... It can help us tackle the menace of terrorism," Nariman said at the inauguration of a workshop on International Criminal Court in New Delhi.

He said we should not give an impression that we were not interested in punishing the perpetrators of such crimes.

Observing that there was a common misconception about the ICC that it impinged upon the jurisdiction of national judicial systems, Nariman said on the contrary it was complementary to domestic legal set up.

Noting that the traditional notion of sovereignty was getting eroded in view of globalisation, he said there was a need to have a rethink on the issue.
The ICC is a permanent court to try those responsible for crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide and aggression. Several countries, including India and the US, have not ratified the Rome Treaty on ICC, which became operational in March 2003.

Senior Lawyer and president of the Criminal Justice Society of India, K T S Tulsi, said that in the changed scenario, the ICC assumed more significance as trans-national crimes like money laundering and terrorism were posing a great threat to domestic judicial systems.

a article.

Dr Singh, other hotshots on US talk show

rediff News Bureau February 25, 2006 17:25 IST

Most Indians surely have not heard of Charlie Rose, but the New Yorker is a well-respected talk show host, whose programme airs weeknights in America on the Public Broadcasting Service or PBS channel.

Rose seems to have an affection for India, having interviewed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in September 2004, Finance Minister Palanippan Chidambaram exactly a year later, and Amitabh Bachchan last April.

In time for President George W Bush's passage to India next week, Rose will present interviews from India all week.

Among his guests are Prime Minister Singh, National Security Adviser M K Narayanan, Wipro Chairman Azim Premji, Infosys Chief Executive Officer Nandan Nilekani, Tata Sons Chairman Ratan Tata, Biocon CEO Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Sterlite Chairman Anil Agarwal, actress Shabana Azmi, Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta, The Hindu Deputy Editor Siddharth Varadarajan and columnist Gurcharan Das.

for more information about upcoming programs:

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Martina vs Sania match pics: Part II

Will Smith in India

Will Smith wants Chicken Tikka & Ash!

Hollywood star Will Smith, who is in the country to launch a new movie channel, says there are two things he simply must do in India.

'Just recently, I got to know the number of films Bollywood makes a year -- a whopping 800. And each with its share of song, music, dance and drama.

I am simply enticed to be part of it,' the Switch star was quoted by Contactmusic as saying.

'I would do anything that Aishwarya Rai will be part of. I love her so. I also want to taste the authentic Chicken Tikka Masala,' he added.

Besides launching the new channel Pix, Smith will appear on the hit reality show Indian Idol.

Martina vs Sania match pictures

here are pictures by nouf from

Anastasia Myskina at Dubai Tennis Open

Myskina learns truth the hard way
By Alaric Gomes, Staff ReporterDubai:

Life has indeed taken a full turn for Anastasia Myskina as the Russian sensation resets her targets for 2006.

"There's much more to life than just playing tennis, and I am happy I learnt things the hard way," Myskina told Gulf News during a chat yesterday.

As Myskina notched up her best-ever performances through the 2004 season climbing to an all-time high of No 2 on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, she saw her world come crumbling down after her mother was struck with throat cancer. "It changed me, not merely as a person, but more importantly as a tennis player," she reflected.

Though playing on the Tour, Myskina found herself very disinterested and distracted in everything she did.

"I was getting used to the fact that I've got to be on court. Life became very insipid and I was just going from one tournament to another," she disclosed.

Hence, she did the next best thing by turning more towards the family, with her mother as the focal point of her attention. And things definitely started getting better.

"I started appreciating life, my mother got better after treatment and, in fact, she has come along with me for this tournament," Myskina said with a smile.

But now with her mother having recovered completely, Myskina is prepared to give her ambition of becoming world No 1 another shot. "Yes, I do have the potential to be up there among the best players," said the 24-year-old Russian, who is presently ranked at No 11 on the Tour.

"Most probably, breaking into the top 10 would be an immediate priority. After that, it would be to come down the rankings and aim for the top spot," Myskina disclosed.

Teen bloggers overshare info -- study

Teen bloggers overshare info -- study

By ELLIOT SMILOWITZUPI Technology Correspondent
WASHINGTON, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Teenage bloggers often willingly reveal their names, ages and offline locations in their blogs, leaving them vulnerable to cyberstalking, according to a recent study.

In his paper "Teen Lives Exposed: The Private Lives of Teens Made Public," Northwestern University researcher David Hoffaker said that 20 percent of teen bloggers he looked at revealed their full names in their blogs, 67 percent revealed their ages and 60 percent their locations.

Hoffaker said teenagers might be unaware of the risks of putting information on blog sites.

"There is a feeling of some sort of anonymity or safety among numbers" for teenage bloggers, Hoffaker told UPI.

The study looked at 68 blogs by teens between ages 13 and 17, with a mean age of 15.47 years. Most of the blogs he looked at were found on Livejournal, Xanga or Blogger.

John Shehan, CyberTipline program manager at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said that child predators can seize upon any bit of information to begin communication with youths.

"A child may express frustrations with a parent, depression, or lack of self-esteem in a blog," he said. "They really open themselves for a predator to swoop in and become their best friend, to establish that bond ... and then to exploit the situation."

Steven Krause, blog expert and English professor at Eastern Michigan University, says that while most bloggers of all ages share some personal information on their blogs, it becomes dangerous when youths share information that is too personal.

"It's one thing for someone to say I'm a student at such-and-such a school or I live in such-and-such a town and I like going to parties," he said.

"It's another thing to say this is exactly when I have chemistry in room 123 and this is my street address and this is my phone number and my e-mail address, and this is when and where I'm meeting my friends for a party."
Krause said that this happens because teenagers "tend to do some dumb things."

"They did dumb things before blogging came along, and I predict they will do dumb things in the future," he said.

Krause said the solution is to educate teenagers that things posted on the Internet become fully public. He noted the old axiom that one shouldn't put anything on the Internet that they wouldn't want on the front page of a newspaper.

"Maybe we should tell teenagers that they shouldn't put anything on their blog that they wouldn't want the important adults in their lives to find out about," he said.

Shehan said that teens should be taught to take care to not share too much information, which includes "more than just their names and numbers, it includes their life stories and situations, as well as their screen names and e-mail addresses."

Among Hoffaker's other findings, he said that he found teenagers tended to use their blogs to go over events in their life.

"The basic content of the blogs were day-to-day depictions intermixed with personal reflections and feelings," he said.

He also said that teen bloggers were using their blogs to maintain ties with people that they already knew outside of the Internet.

"They are using the (blog) space to enhance offline relationships," he said.
Krause said that blogging can be a method for teenagers to find themselves.

"Obviously, a lot of writing to discover one's self is not something that should be shared, and that's the kind of thing that teenagers need to be educated about," he said.

"On the other hand," he added, "blogging is a great way to find an audience of interested readers, and that's the kind of thing that I can see as being extremely valuable and empowering to teens."

Hoffaker agreed that keeping a blog can help teenagers discover things about themselves.

"Adolescence is an important time (for teens) to figure out who they are and construct a cohesive story," he said. "Blogs are conducive to helping construct these narrations."

Hoffaker said that while many parents and educators have concerns about teens spending too much time online, authority figures often don't realize the positives that come from blogging.

"It's useful for basic psychological development," he said. He added that it could bring benefits in literacy skills and reinforcing social support.
Krause said he feels there has been an overreaction to the dangers of blogging.

"I prefer to emphasize the pedagogical benefits of blogging," he said. "We're talking about a way where young writers can write about almost anything and reach an almost limitless audience. That's an exciting and powerful opportunity."

Stress in Early Pregnancy Linked to Miscarriage

Stress in Early Pregnancy Linked to Miscarriage

Ease anxieties before you get pregnant, experts adviseBy Kathleen DohenyHealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Feb 21 (HealthDay News) -- Pregnant women who are stressed out during the first three weeks after conception are nearly three times as likely to miscarry, a new study finds.

"Try to provide yourself with what you consider a good environment. The less stress, the better," advised lead researcher Pablo Nepomnaschy, a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

His team published its findings in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The NIH team evaluated 61 women over 12 months, collecting each woman's urine three times a week to check for pregnancy status and levels of cortisol, a stress-linked hormone.

"This study is special in the sense that we include cortisol data," said Nepomnaschy, He added that they did this testing very early in the pregnancy because "most pregnancy losses take place in the first three to four weeks after conception."

Of the 61 women, 22 got pregnant. Nine carried to term and 13 miscarried. Women with increased cortisol levels during the first three weeks of pregnancy were 2.7 times more likely to miscarry, the researchers found.

In all, miscarriages occurred in 90 percent of pregnancies in which the women had increased cortisol levels and in 33 percent of those with normal cortisol levels.

Nepomnaschy said it's unclear why a boost in cortisol might raise miscarriage risks, but he offered a hypothesis: "The body might interpret that [increased cortisol level] as conditions deteriorating, and maybe that might trigger an abortion mechanism."

The women studied were all residents of a rural area of Guatemala. "This population is more alike than any population in the United States," Nepomnaschy said, explaining that he was trying to get a sample of women who were similar in lifestyle, ethnicity and culture to rule out other factors linked to miscarriage. The women studied had similar diets and activity levels, and were all of the same ethnicity.

Another expert, Dr. Mary Stephenson, an obstetrician-gynecologist who runs the Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Program at the University of Chicago, said, "It's an intriguing article. Certainly more research is needed. But it is a potential mechanism by which miscarriage may occur."

Other studies have looked at the cortisol/miscarriage link, Stephenson said. "The results have been conflicting. There are some studies in animals that suggest that stress increased the risk of miscarriage. And doctors have long suspected that stress does the same in people."

About 15 percent of recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage, according to the March of Dimes. But Stephenson said that statistic usually includes pregnancies that made it to six weeks. "When you count the ones that occur before six weeks, up to half of pregnancies end in miscarriage," she noted.

The best advice for women trying to get pregnant is to de-stress your life before you conceive, she said.

"I talk about this a lot with my patients," Stephenson said. "I recommend that before they get pregnant, they take a serious look at their lifestyle."

And that includes getting enough sleep, so fatigue isn't an issue. "Fatigue is a type of stress," Stephenson said.

To learn more about miscarriage, visit the March of Dimes.

Copyright © 2006 ScoutNews LLC


Bush urges India to cooperate on nuclear plans

Bush urges India to cooperate on nuclear plans

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush on Wednesday urged India to produce a plan to separate its civilian and military nuclear programs to bring its civilian plan into the international mainstream.

The two governments reached an agreement in principle last July that would give India access to foreign civilian nuclear energy technology for the first time in 30 years.

But the two sides are at odds over a critical element in the deal, which would require India to open more of its civilian nuclear facilities to international inspection, while military sites remained off-limits.

Bush, in a speech to the Asia Society previewing a trip next week to India and Pakistan, said India should bring its civilian nuclear program under the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"I'll continue to encourage India to produce a credible, transparent and defensible plan to separate its civilian and military nuclear programs," Bush said.

The U.S.-India deal would give India access to long-denied civilian nuclear technology, including fuel and reactors. Analysts say the failure to resolve key practical differences could mar Bush's trip.

"Implementing this agreement will take time and it will take patience from both our countries," Bush said.

as reported on Reuters.

Bird Flu in India: Update

Out of 12 people suspected of having bird flu and being tested in India,7 have tested negative for the H5N1 virus. 5 patients are going through further tests to determine if they are suffering from the disease.

In all 95 people were tested but 90 proved negative for the H5N1 strain, said Union health secretary P.K. Hota.

Health officials fear that many people who live in close contact with animals especially in rural areas and who have little or no access to health services could contract avian influenza.

Meanwhile culling of fouls continues in the most inhumane manner.

Civic workers in Navapur told Reuters they were instructed not to shed bird blood to prevent any infection spreading. so these birds have their necks wringed or them being put into sacks and being buried in pits alive or being burned without checking if the animals are still alive!

there are fresh reports of poultry deaths in Shimoga, Karnataka

8 trains from Western Railways to Navapur have been cancelled. Also serving of chicken dishes on trains and planes have been stopped. Army men have also cancelled their orders from poultry farms. The army is the largest consuming body in India.

There has been a sharp fall in the demand and consumption of chicken, eggs and other poultry products across the country.

Although officials say that cooking of chicken to 70 deg C or for a period of 30 minutes means the food is safe, they fail to understand that before cooking the meat has first to be cut which means the flesh will have to be touched resulting in contact with the bird.

The best would be to be safe and avoid eating chickens.

Jessica Lal Murder Verdict: Justice Denied

The Jessica Lal murder case has shown how the rich and the powerful can twist the arms of the law enforcement agencies to their own interests.

The Jessica Lal murder verdict resulted in the acquittal of prime accused Manu Sharma (son of former union minister Vinod Sharma) and his associates Vikas Yadav (son of former Rajya Sabha member D.P. Yadav), and Yograj Singh (father of cricketer Yuvraj Singh)

Shyam Sunder Sharma (son-in-law of former president SD Sharma), Amardeep Singh, Vikas Gill, Harvinder, Raja Chopra and Alok Khanna have all been given the clean chit as well.

The April 30th 1999 murder of the model Jassica Lal at the Tamarind Court restaurant in the Capital. It was Bina Ramani's party where there were 250 odd guests and except a single witness i.e. Ramani herself the 100-120 witnesses along with high-profile witnesses like Model-Actor Shayan Munshi who filed the FIR actually went back on their accounts.

Jessica Lal was shot in the head at point blanck range when she refused to serve more alcohol to the accused after the bar was already closed.

This resulted in him pulling out his gun, fire a shot in the air and then without warning shoot the girl in the head. Later he ran away from the crime scene on foot leaving his car behind. His friends later ran away by their car.

In May 1999, the Delhi High Court came down heavily on the city police for carrying out a shoddy investigation. Forensic evidence wasn't gathered in the case and the police found 2 bullets but never recovered the gun.

Accusations of harassing witnesses and tampering with evidence all along the 6 long years that the trial took has meant that the trial could never have a successful verdict.

The acquittal of all 9 accused has sent shockwaves through the country. The family of the victim said they had expected that the accused would eventually be acquitted.

This shows the clear lack of will on the part of our law enforcement system and the archaic law system which allows for cases to go on and on for years.

Case Sheet
  • April 1999:
    Jessica Lal allegedly murdered by Manu Sharma
  • May 2001:
    Key witness and struggling model Shyan Munshi, turns hostile
  • July 2001:
    Malini Ramani identifies Manu Sharma as the man harassing Jessica at the party
  • Aug 2001:
    Delhi High Court denies Manu Sharma bail
  • Oct 2001:
    Socialite Bina Ramani identifies Manu Sharma in court
  • Jan 2002:
    Manu Sharma gets bail
  • Feb 2006:
    Delhi court acquits all nine accused in the case

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Strange Flowers

Flowers are very delicate and beautiful creations. now it would seem hard to try to imagine them to be strange or scary but here are some sure strange looking flowers...

and dont think abt the Venus Fly Trap! lol

note: all images are credited to their original cappers. these are what i found while surfing on the net.

so have a great time!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Cricket: American shows the Black Caps how to play ball
21.02.06By Richard Boock

It's enough to make the traditionalists call for preservation orders: first an international cricket match being won 3-0, and now this - an American on the New Zealand coaching staff.

Not only that, but professional fielding tutor Mike Young has been living in Brisbane for the past 25 years, and has most recently been working for arch-rivals Australia, gaining praise for his efforts during the VB Series.

Young has been brought in to work with New Zealand over the next three weeks, and has flatly rejected any suggestions of a conflict of interest, despite not ruling out a return to the Australian national team.

The practice of shifting back and forth between international dressing rooms is rare enough for management personnel, but particularly as teams start becoming increasingly guarded during the lead-up to the World Cup.

"I work for the New Zealand cricket team now, so my job is to make them the best and if they beat Australia, then that's Australia's problem," Young said yesterday. "I'm not contracted, I'm a consultant, and I need change too - it's good for me. "I just want to spend three weeks with this organisation and enjoy myself. I wish the Australians well in South Africa, but right now I'm a Black Cap."

A former baseball player, coach and manager, Young said he wouldn't be re-inventing the wheel for the New Zealand fieldsmen, whom he regarded as "exceptional athletes", but would instead be reinforcing some fundamental parts of the trade.

First and foremost in the list of priorities was the players' attitude, he said. "It's all about wanting to field, wanting to go out there and do a job, and when you're dealing with these guys it's an enjoyable task.

"But to be a good fielder you've got to want to field, and it's not an easy thing to do in cricket; you're out there a long time." Young believed the advantage he would bring to the New Zealand team was a fresh face.

The fact that he'd never played cricket was an advantage he said, in that he usually provided a different perspective for the players. "Often it's just a different voice," he said. "John [Bracewell] is an outstanding coach and the reality is that I'm delivering the same message that he delivers, but the fact it's coming from a different person sometimes helps."

As for his thoughts on the comparative skills required in baseball and cricket fielding, it was a clear-cut issue. "This [cricket], to me, is more difficult [than baseball], because you're out there for a long period of time and it's difficult to maintain your awareness levels," he said. "A slip-fielder might have to stand out there for ages without any action, and then have to make a one-handed catch without a glove. If that's not hard to do then I'm not standing here."

Flowers of Alaska

flora n fauna enthusiasts like me can have a look at this great site about Alaskan Flowers.

nice pictures.

sample this:

India, France sign civil nuclear cooperation declaration

India, France sign civil nuclear cooperation declaration

NEW DELHI, FEB 20: India and France on Monday signed a declaration on civilian nuclear technology cooperation even as New Delhi made it clear that any future nuclear technologies acquired through international cooperation would be subject to international safeguards.

After two-hour long talks, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and French President Jacques Chirac described the signing of the declaration on development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes as an “important step forward” towards realisation of the objective of the two countries to conclude a bilateral agreement in the area. The two “agreed to continue to work together towards the fulfillment of that objective,” a joint statement issued after the talks said, while recalling last September 12 statement on the issue.

Addressing a joint conference, with Mr Chirac, Dr Singh said,“I confirm that all facilities procured by India through international cooperation for civilian nuclear energy will of course be subject to international safeguards. If any facilities that may become available to India in future through international cooperation will be subjected to safeguards of IAEA.”
About opening up the existing nuclear facilities to international inspection, Dr Singh said India would honour “in letter and spirit” the July 18 Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement, thereby suggesting that separating the civilian and military facilities would be based on India’s own discretion.

Responding to a question, Mr Chirac voiced his country’s unequivocal support to India’s civilian nuclear energy requirements in view of the country’s growing economic and developmental needs. “France is supportive of India on two principle —one on moral grounds as India needs help in development, and also since it is a responsible country, it should be able to procure energy sources that do not emit greenhouse gases,” he said, adding “the longstanding ties of friendship and understanding between the two countries will be further strengthened.”

Dr Singh expressed gratitude to France for its principled position in promoting cooperation between India and the nuclear suppliers group members.

Earlier, the two leaders held long delegation-level talks on various aspects of bilateral relations.

The discussions focussed mainly on taking forward the strategic partnership by further strengthening bilateral cooperation in a wide array of fields including political, economic, defence, space, civilian nuclear energy, education and research.

The two countries also signed eight other agreements for cooperation in various sectors including defence, commerce and industry, tourism, culture, space and civil aviation and memorandums of understanding (MoUs) for cooperation in energy and management areas.

A state-owned Indian airline finalised a deal to buy 43 Airbus jets.
Terming cooperation in the space sector as an important aspect of India’s relations with France, Dr Singh said this “is progressing well”.

“We also deeply appreciate France’s support to India’s candidature for permanent membership of the UN security council,” he said.

Noting that there existed untapped potential, he asked French companies to take advantage of India’s rapid economic growth and science and technology potential.

While recalling the pledge made by the two leaders to double bilateral trade within five years, he said they had identified infrastructure, IT, pharmaceuticals, environment, advanced and new technologies, food processing, automobiles and aeronautics as priority sectors for forging business partnerships.

During the talks, the Prime Minister was assisted by defence minister Pranab Mukherjee, finance minister P Chidambaram, and tourism minister Ambika Soni.

The Financial Express, India

Warli Art

Tribal art from Warli tribe in Western Maharashtra

to order:

all images are copyrighted to their original photographers/websites

Bird Flu In India

By Krittivas Mukherjee

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India quarantined six people in hospital on Monday and began a door-to-door search for anyone with fever as authorities scrambled to contain the country's first outbreak of bird flu.

In Europe, officials urged people to carry on eating poultry meat despite outbreaks of the lethal H5N1 bird flu strain, saying European Union authorities had the means available to wipe out the disease.

A string of EU countries have now confirmed H5N1 in wild birds, knocking consumer confidence in poultry meat -- especially chicken. But the EU farm chief rejected requests from member states to support poultry prices saying the situation had not yet become sufficiently severe.

"We have the measures and legislation for containment and eradication of such diseases," EU Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou told journalists in Brussels.

As bird flu continued its relentless march into the heart of Europe from Asia, at least 11 nations worldwide reported outbreaks over the past three weeks, an indication that the virus, which has killed at least 92 people, is spreading faster.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday that mutations in the H5N1 virus are seemingly making it more deadly in chickens and more resistant in the environment but without yet increasing the threat to humans.

The changes, which all viruses undergo, have affected patterns of transmission amongst domestic poultry and wild birds, with ducks, for example, developing the ability to pass the virus on without getting ill.
"They have not, however, had any discernible impact on the disease in humans, including its modes of transmission," the WHO said in a statement posted on its Web site (

India's Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said the situation was "under control" and there were no human cases of avian flu in the country despite fears at the weekend that a farmer had succumbed to the disease.

End of the world in 1,000 years?

End of the world in 1,000 years?

rediff Features Desk February 17, 2006 12:57 IST

To stay alive, we have to meet a deadline.

*If man does not stop burning fossil fuels, by the year 3000, rising oceans will drown many countries and cities, and temperatures will have risen by as much as 15 degree Centigrade.

*Global warming could quadruple by 2100. Abrupt climate changes will become routine.

*Ocean water will become less acidic, throwing the marine ecosystem out of gear and resulting in catastrophic results for the earth.

These are the findings of a study called Climate Change on the Millenial Timescale by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research for the United Kingdom's Environment Agency.

And it's not just the British study -– which is the first to examine the impacts of global warming beyond the end of this century -- that urges mankind to save itself right now.

Jim Hansen, a climate change scientist with America's National Aeronautics and Space Administration told the British newspaper The Independent: 'I think sea-level rise is going to be the big issue soon, more even than warming itself.'

The Tyndall Centre study says by 3000 oceans will rise by more than 11 metres if mankind ignore the peril the earth is in.

Hansen, director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York -- who is American President George W Bush's top climate modeller -- said the Bush administration tried to gag him when he wanted to speak to the media about new satellite data of the Greenland ice cap.

'They (the satellite data) show that Greenland seems to be losing at least 200 cubic kilometres of ice a year,' Hansen wrote in the as-told-to article in The Independent, adding that even two years ago, the ice cap was deemed to be stable.

The earth seems to be on the edge of a tipping point beyond which the melting ice would see huge armadas of icebergs floating in the ocean and drowning much of the earth, he wrote.

Both the British study and Hansen say the only way out is drastically cutting down carbon-based fuels and focusing on alternative energy sources. Now.

In fact, the British study says mankind must stop all greenhouse gas emissions -– caused by burning fossil fuel -- by 2200.

And if we don't take action now, both Hansen and the study emphasise, the earth may set in motion disastrous consequences that we would not be able to reverse later, even if we tried.

a article.