January 31, 2012

Are you feeling depressed? You could take 'rape drug' Ketamine

A prescription drug that is also used as a powerful horse tranquiliser could offer an almost instant remedy for people suffering from depression, say scientists.

Doctors at Ben Taub General hospital in Houston, Texas, are testing the effect of ketamine on patients with a severe form of the condition.

The Class C drug, which is illegal to possess or sell, can cause a loss of feeling in the body and paralysis of the muscles sometimes giving users a feeling of being separated from reality. It is popular with clubbers because of its hallucinogenic effects.

However, mental health researchers were alerted to reports that the drug could also make depression 'vanish' almost instantly.

Current anti-depressants take at least a few weeks to kick-in, leaving a dangerous period when many patients feel suicidal. Ketamine could therefore be used to bridge that gap.

Scientists at the Neuro Psychiatric Center attached to the Ben Taub General are giving trial patients one infusion of either ketamine or a normal sedative and comparing the results.

One trial patient, mother-of-three Heather Merrill, believes she had been administered with the ketamine.

She told National Public Radio (npr.org) in the U.S that 24-hours after her treatment: 'It was almost immediate, the sense of calmness and relaxation.

'No more fogginess. No more heaviness. I feel like I'm a clean slate right now. I want to go home and see friends or, you know, go to the grocery store and cook the family dinner.'

Dr Asim Shah, director of the mood disorder programme in Ben Taub, added: 'She looks like a person who is genuinely happy, whereas before the study, she looked very down, very withdrawn, almost tearful.'

Researchers said the consistent patient reactions have made it hard to prevent doctors and patients from working out who has been given the drug, and who has had the placebo.

If the trial proves successful the researchers will then administer the drug three times a week to patients to test the long-term effects.

Ketamine can cause serious bladder problems and there are suggestions it could make some existing mental health problems worse and cause heart problems.

The scientists are hoping patients in the second trial will experience a radical mood boost that will last for a few months. They are also looking at developing a pill form of the intravenous infusion.

If all studies prove successful it will be at least two years before the drug is approved for use.


Facebook: How to know anyone has unfriended you

Breaking up just got harder to do: How to tell if anyone has 'unfriended' you on Facebook

A new browser add-on alerts Facebook users the instant that someone on their friends list 'unfriends' them - cutting off their link on the social network.

It also alerts users when someone rejects or ignores a friend request.

The script, called Unfriend Finder, is free, and has been a huge hit worldwide.

Unfriend Finder has been downloaded 44 million times.

It can be installed in almost any internet browser. Users see a red counter in their menu bar which comes up '-1' the second someone unfriends them - a dig at Facebook's logo for adding friends, which is a '+1'.

The news will horrify many Facebook users.

Facebook itself does not alert people when you click to 'unfriend' them, and it's become normal for people to do so stealthily.

It's a crucial 'get-out' clause from friendships that have grown apart - and useful when relationships go bad.

Many users also accept friend requests to be polite, then quietly 'unfriend' the people later if they're not close.

Unfriend Finder's page says, 'Unfriends are people who were previously your friend but have either deactivated their account or have removed you from their friend list.'

'Unfriend Finder will also tell you people you have requested friendship with and who has declined your friend request.'

'Unfriend Finder makes identifying unfriends easy by displaying a red counter in the menubar with the amount of unfriends you have.'

The script works in browsers such as Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer, and can be downloaded for free from the official site.

There are Facebook apps that also offer the same functionality, but apps that offer such functions have been a hotbed of spam in the past.

Several apps for smartphones such as Frienemy for Android also offer this functionality - but many cost money, and none offer the simplicity of watching directly in your internet browser.

Unfriend Finder is prone to bouts of down time, though, users say - if Facebook changes its website code, the script will no longer work, and Facebook does so quite frequently.

January 30, 2012

Adnan Patrawala murder case: All accused freed

Mumbai: Four youths accused of kidnapping and killing teenager Adnan Patrawala here in 2007 were today acquitted by a local court on account of lack of evidence, a verdict dubbed by the victim's family as "shocking".

The sessions court let off Sujit Nair, Ayush Bhat, Rajeev Dharaiya and Amit Kausha - aged between 25 and 31 - as the prosecution failed to prove the charges against them. The fifth accused, a juvenile, is being tried by the Juvenile Justice Board.

The prosecution's case was that Adnan, son of a businessman in suburban Andheri, was allegedly kidnapped by these five "friends" on August 19, 2007 after he went to meet them in Inorbit Mall in Malad in his father's Skoda car.

The five, who had befriended Patrawala through a social networking site, then asked the victim to drive with them to suburban Kandivli. They allegedly spiked a drink he was made to have. They strangled the 16-year-old to death in Navi Mumbai after their plan to extort Rs 2 crore as ransom went awry as news of the kidnapping had broken on TV and the police launched a manhunt for them, it said.

Subsequently, Patrawala's body was found in his car on Palm Beach Road in Vashi.

Charges of kidnap, murder, extortion and destruction of evidence were framed against all the youths in June 2009.

Outside the court, defence lawyer Ashish Chavan said the prosecution "miserably" failed to prove the charges.

"The prosecution claimed that all the accused conspired and committed the crime with a clear intention. One witness called Dias had been produced before the court, which had completely disbelieved his statement. Moreover, his statement has gone against the prosecution," he said.

Special Public Prosecutor in the case Ujjwal Nikam was not present in the court during the judgement. He was also not available for comment.

Responding to a query, Chavan said Patrawala was killed but not by these five. "This raises a very serious question, as to who are the real murderers?"

The prosecution had produced another witness, who had claimed to have last seen the victim with the five, but his statements were also disregarded by the court, which said they do not inspire confidence.

"The court also commented on the identification parade, saying this does not inspire confidence and there is no strong evidence against the accused," Chavan said.

The prosecution failed to establish the conspiracy theory which is like the backbone for a case. The entire case was based on circumstantial evidence, the defence stated.

The ransom theory was also not accepted as no phone calls were presented before the court by the investigators, Chavan, said adding, "this verdict will certainly have a bearing on the trial of the fifth accused."

Adnan's family was shocked by the judgement.

"It is a shocking verdict. My son was betrayed by the acquitted five. We will not give up and appeal in a higher court," said his father Aslam Patrawala.

However, he did not blame the police and prosecution for failing to secure conviction, saying they had done their best to prove the charges. "I am yet to speak to police or the prosecution with regards to the verdict.

Arun Bhat, father of Ayush, said his son was falsely implicated. "I am very relieved and my faith in the judiciary has been restored."

"We are relieved and we want to go home as soon as possible," acquitted youths Dharaiya and Kaushal told reporters outside the court.

Attack on TOI office: South Asia Media Commission says it's a matter of concern

New Delhi: The South Asia Media Commission today expressed serious concern over the attack on The Times of India newspaper's office in Mumbai last week, saying the incident proved that there was "no thaw" in targeting of media by non-state players due to perceived grievances against it.

"The attack on the office of Times of India group in Mumbai on Saturday is a matter of serious concern," K K Katyal, South Asia Media Commission President, said in a statement.

Suspected Shiv Sena workers had vandalised the reception area of Times of India (TOI) building apparently irked by a report in Marathi daily 'Maharashtra Times' which speculated that a sitting Sena MP was on his way to NCP. The newspaper belongs to the TOI group.

"The incident proved -- if a proof was needed -- that there is no thaw in the activities of non-state players in targeting the media because of their perceived grievances against published reports," he said.

Holding that Mumbai has lived up to its "notoriety" because of recent anti-media cases, Katyal said the attacks on journalists by non-state sections is an "India-wide phenomenon".

He said incidents against the media in the interior areas often do not get attention.

Referring to arrests made by Mumbai police in the case, he said all those involved in the attack must be apprehended and cases must be taken to court expeditiously to get deterrent punishment for the accused.

Police have already arrested 28 persons suspected to be Shiv Sena members.

The Commission is an associate of South Asian Free Media Association

Student admission to AIIMS, Bubaneshwar, by August

Bhubaneswar: The much awaited All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Bhubaneswar, is set to become functional and admission of students will start by August next.

This was stated by Union Health Secretary P K Pradhan who reviewed the progress of AIIMS-Bhubaneswar work at a meeting with top Odisha government officials besides visiting the institute site at Sijua here.

"I reviewed the ongoing work for AIIMS, Bhubaneswar. The progress is good and we expect admission of 50 students to begin by August this year making the institute functional," Pradhan told reporters.

The number of seats for the MBBS course is proposed to be 100 next year with gradual completion of other works of the upcoming institute, official sources said.

Pradhan was optimistic that a 500-bed hospital would be operational by December next in the campus where construction of other work was in full swing.

AIIMS-Bhubaneswar project comprises three components - hospital, medical college and housing. While the hospital has been taken up at a cost of Rs 264 crore, about Rs 100 crore are being spent on the medical college and Rs 50 crore on housing.

The upcoming institute would have a 960-bed hospital. These include 500 beds for the medical college and hospital, 300 beds for speciality/ super speciality, 100 beds for intensive care and trauma, 30 beds for physical medicine and rehabilitation and 30 beds for another medical purpose.

The hospital proposes to provide healthcare facilities in 42 speciality and super-speciality disciplines, sources said.

January 29, 2012

Tax saving doesn't always pay back; sometimes it is better to pay tax

Tax saving is considered to be one of most important aspects of financial planning. With the financial year-end fast approaching, most investors would rush to fulfil their commitments so as to save as much tax as possible.

Consequently, many investors also end up making very bad investments as well. That is, there is duplication of instruments or unwanted investments and so on. So while saving taxes is a legitimate aspiration, overdoing it can actually do more damage to your finances than help.

There are several such instances where meaningless investments are made for the sake of saving taxes. For instance, take the case of medical insurance, there are many who are covered adequately through a group medical insurance of their companies.

But they still end up buying policies for themselves, family and parents, just to save taxes under Section 80D. The eligibility: Rs 15,000 annually for self and family, another Rs 15, 000 a year for parents which increases to Rs 20,000 if parents are senior citizens.  But the question to ask is whether you need them or all of them?

Most justify the expenditure by saying that the additional medical cover would actually be good for their finances and reduce financial pressure in case of any hospitalisation. Other reasons they cite are soaring medical costs, increased chances of falling ill and inadequate cover in a family floater. Of course, there is a dash of sentiment in their explanations - ‘My neighbour/ friend / colleague had to go through hell, there was no cover, they had to take a loan which they are still repaying and so on.’

But the numbers do not justify the expenditure. For saving just Rs 4,635 (even for the highest tax bracket), people end up buying cover for a premium of Rs 15,000. Then, there are those who invest in insurance policies to save taxes. Now, insurance is for security. But insurers and their agents sell it under the head of tax savings and investments. Many people, as a result, look at these products only from a tax saving perspective.

The security that an insurance policy provides is simply a footnote that many forget to read. When the tax season looms and the employer has delivered an ultimatum to show proof of tax saving investments, the scramble begins. Then, the helpful insurance agent utters the magic word - a policy that will help them save tax - Invest in an insurance policy, get the proof, submit it to their office - and life is bliss!
Investment Rs Tax
Savings Rs
15,000 4,635 If there is adequate insurance from
employer, don't invest in it
NSC/ 5 year
Time deposits
50,000 15,450 They are low-yielding instruments,
 post-tax returns are very low
Life Insurance/
50,000 It is a wasteful expense when
done without understanding
the policy
Home purchase
Couple of
lakh rupees
46,350 It puts undue pressure on finance
and the EMI for extended periods
is huge 
PPF/ VPF 50,000 15,450 It has to be used only when
the tenure matches one’s needs

The problem: Most are unaware of the policy they have invested in, whether that policy is suitable to them, whether the tenure invested is appropriate, what returns it could offer and whether it is a traditional or a unit-linked product and so on. In a nutshell, they have not evaluated the product for its merits and have just invested to save tax.

Another favourite among people is to buy a home to save tax. If it is the first home, the deduction available is just  Rs 1.5 lakh a year and tax savings would amount to Rs 46,350 in a year. For this reason, if one were to buy a home, it can put enormous pressure on one’s finances. Due to this, one’s lifestyle can become crimped. And it will continue to stay that way for years. It might have been much better just to have paid the taxes, invested the money after that, live life decently due to better cash flows ( in the absence of constricting loans ) and end up buying a property later,  when it is actually required. This kind of investment is very common and quite harmful.

First, they invest a big sum of money in a product that they may not need - that too, a product that may require them to service for a long time.

Second, once someone points out   pitfalls, they want to exit it in a hurry but many times the math forces them to hang around for years. For instance, if a policy has a lock-in for five years, there is little you can do. Yes, there would be some surrender value if you exit in the interim. But it will be most probably at a significant loss.

Third, even though they have been alerted, paying premiums at times becomes a habit. As a result, people forget to exit them at the right time.

Now, comes the most interesting part. Borrowing to save tax! Come December and the scramble to submit proof sets in. Those short of cash, resort to borrowing to save tax.  People are known to take personal loans or credit card loans to invest in tax saving instruments. If one were to calculate the costs and efforts vis-à-vis how much money is being saved, it may not make much sense to do it in the first place.
Any investment made, even if it made for tax savings, should make sense in the overall scheme of things. It needs to be a good investment.

We need to realise that if we actually calculate the total costs, it may be much costlier saving taxes than paying taxes, in many cases. Save taxes, where you can. Simply pay it, if it does not make sense. You would be much better-off.


Oxford University Press completes 100 years in India

Kolkata: With a series of new publishing initiatives, which includes releasing of Jim Corbett's unpublished writings, the Oxford University Press (OUP) is celebrating 100 years of operations in India this year.

"As a department of the University of Oxford, OUP will celebrate by showcasing its rich history in India through re- issues of classics and by launching major new centenary year publishing initiatives in 2012," OUP India's Managing Director Manzar Khan said.

One of the most awaited books of the year from their stable will be the unpublished writings of British conservationist Jim Corbett sourced from OUP archives.

"For the centenary, we will have books by acclaimed authors including Romila Thapar, Irfan Habib, Girish Karnad, Sudhir Kakar, Ashis Nandy, Sunil Janah, Valmik Thapar, and U R Ananthamurthy - authors who have continued to publish with us over several decades," he said.

Here to participate at the ongoing Kolkata Book Fair, they will soon come out with 'Rabindranath Tagore: An Illustrated Life' written by Uma Das Gupta. The illustrated biography of the bard focuses on his personal life to expose the larger forces that moulded his personality and thought.

'Tales from Thakurmar Jhuli: Twelve Stories from Bengal', a classic collection of Bengali folktales and fairy tales originally brought together by Dakshinaranjan Mitra Majumder's in 1907, will be released in English later in the year.

A book on Kolkata is being specially planned in 2012: 'Redeeming Calcutta: A Portrait of India's Imperial Capital' by Steve Raymer, renowned National Geographic photojournalist.

He takes the readers through the streets, ghats and corridors of Kolkata with around 200 photographs including historic black-and-white images.

The book captures the imperial and historical city, the maelstrom of the streets, the city in motion, commerce and business, the practice of faith, the country's cultural hub, and politics.

Another significant book would be Sunil Janah's 'Photographing India'. With around 400 black and white photographs covering the years 1942 to 1978, it captures important events in Indian history - from eminent political leaders, writers, and artists to India's rich heritage and traditions to the socio-cultural life of ordinary people.

A centenary edition of N Horsburgh's New Oxford Modern English, one of the oldest yet most successful school courses, will also be published in 2012.

"We will also reissue the first academic book published in 1912 - S Radhakrishnan's 'Essentials of Psychology'. And will have a special edition of the Oxford School Atlas first published in 1915," the OUP official said.

Publish over 400 titles annually in India, the leader in the academic and scholarly books category, will have additional centenary editions and will also publish new series like the Oxford India Short Introductions and Oxford India Perennials.

The publishers are also looking to increase investment and double their turnover in the next 3-4 years.

"We plan to substantially increase our investment in human resources and infrastructure and aim to double our turnover in the next 3-4 years," Khan said adding that they publish the largest number of academic and scholarly books and are the market leaders in school publishing.

Globally, OUP is the largest university press and publishes more than 4,500 new books annually.

Their diverse portfolio includes scholarly works, school and higher education textbooks, dictionaries and reference books, as well as journals.

Anushka Sharma Interview: 'Vishal Bhardwaj brings out the best in actors'

Mumbai: Actress Anushka Sharma, who has worked with some of the top guns of B-town in her four-year acting career, is all excited about her forthcoming project, Vishal Bhardwaj's 'Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola'.

The 23-year-old model-turned Bollywood actress, who made her debut opposite Shah Rukh Khan in a Yash Chopra production, says she was dying to work with the critically acclaimed filmmaker Bhardwaj as he "brings out the best in his actors".

"I think our film is every entertaining it is like a dark comedy. I think it is Vishal sir's most commercial project if I can say so. And also, the movie's cast is exciting - there is Imran Khan, Pankaj Kapur, Shabana Azmi. He is one director who is known to take out the best from actors. I am dying to work with him (Vishal)," Anushka said.

Anushka will also be seen in a Yash Chopra-directed untitled film with Shahrukh Khan and Katrina Kaif.

About this movie, the 'Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi' actress said she was very excited about the project with Yash Raj Films, the production house which launched her in Bollywood.

Both films are expected to hit cinemas this year.

Anushka made her debut in Aditya-Chopra directed 'Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi' (2008). Thereafter, she was seen in two more Yash Raj Films 'Badmaash Company' and 'Band Baaja Baarat' (both 2010).

She then featured in Nikhil Advani-directed 'Patiala House'. Her latest release was 'Ladies vs Ricky Bahl', also a Yash Raj Films production.

India still a foreign investment hot spot - E&Y

Foreign direct investment in India is set to swell in coming years as investors stomach a lack of transparency, poor infrastructure and policy paralysis in their search for growth, professional services firm Ernst & Young (E&Y) said in a report.

Overseas investment in Asia's third-largest economy rose for the first time in three years in 2011, the report noted, as global investors put their faith in rising salaries, an expanding middle-class and a large and cheap labor force.

"The fundamentals that make India attractive to investors remain intact," Farokh T. Balsara, head of markets at Ernst & Young India, wrote in the report released on Sunday.

"However, our respondents continue to cite inadequate infrastructure and a lack of governance and transparency as major obstacles to investment."

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in India rose 13% to $50.81 billion in the first 11 months of 2011 from a year earlier, while the total number of projects rose 25% to 864, the report said, citing data from the Financial Times' FDI Intelligence service.

Business confidence in India has declined over the past year, as economic growth slowed from an annual rate of 8.5% in 2010/11 to about 7%, and corruption and policy paralysis discouraged investment in big projects.

Just over half of chief executives in India are still "very confident" of revenue growth in the next 12 months, down from 88% a year ago, according to a recent survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The majority of companies surveyed by E&Y were confident in the long-term prospects for investment in India, given sluggish growth in the United States and debt problems in Europe.

Almost 70% of 382 international companies surveyed said they plan to increase or maintain their operations in India, said the report, which was prepared for the World Economic Forum gathering in Davos, Switzerland.

Just 19% said they had no plans to enter the country or were preparing to withdraw.

Robust domestic demand, cost competitiveness and a cheap, ever-growing labour force were cited India's key benefits.

"Although the ongoing global uncertainty...(has) prompted some discomfort among global investors to make long-term commitments, India's inherent advantages and its proven resilience to counter macroeconomic challenges far outweigh these concerns," Balsara said.

Automakers led the way in investing in India last year, boosting spending by 46%, E&Y said.

Technology and life sciences companies were other big spenders, while spending by foreign companies on infrastructure and retail projects declined.

Ford Motor Co, which said this month it would spend $142 million on its Indian operations, and the Renault-Nissan alliance are among companies that are stepping up investment in India.

Other companies, particularly retailers, are not so sure.

Sweden's IKEA, the world's biggest furniture retailer, said this week that would be difficult to set up shop in India because of complex government sourcing rules announced this month.

Plans by companies such as Wal-Mart were set back in December when the government, under pressure from political allies, abandoned a long-mooted policy to open up the supermarket sector to direct investment by foreign companies.

EPFO may fix minimum pension at Rs 1,000 at Feb 22 meeting

Retirement fund body EPFO is likely to fix the minimum pension for its subscribers at Rs 1,000 per month at the scheduled meeting the Central Board of Trustees (CBT) on February 22.

"The CBT will take a call on the proposal to fix minimum pension at Rs 1,000 per month for its subscribers in a meeting scheduled on February 22," a source said.

The meeting of CBT, the apex decision making body of the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation's (EPFO) had earlier in December deferred the decision on the matter.

Although the agenda for the meeting is yet to be finalised, sources said, the issue would come up for discussion.

According to EPFO data, as of March 31, 2010, there are 35 lakh pensioners subscribed to the retirement fund body, of which 14 lakh persons get a monthly pension of less than Rs 500.

The number of EPFO pensioners getting a monthly pension of Rs 1,000 is 7 lakh. The data reveals that there are cases where pensioners are getting a monthly pension as low as Rs 12 and Rs 38.

Although representatives of employers and employees have agreed on fixing the minimum pension at Rs 1,000 per month, there is no decision on the means of raising the additional fund requirement.

As per estimates, the decision will require an additional contribution of 0.63% of subscribers' basic pay and dearness allowance.

The hike in contribution will be over-and-above the 8.33% contributed by employers toward the pension account of employees, as well as the 1.16% provided by the government under the scheme.

If the government decides to bear the extra cost, then an amendment to the Employees' Pension Scheme (EPS) would be needed.

"It is possible that trustees may decide on sharing of additional burden equally by government, employees and employers," a trustee said.

Furthermore, the CBT is likely to discuss the proposal to issue passbooks to subscribers on the lines of banking services.

At present, the employers are required to maintain record of contribution made by them and their employees with monthly updates.

EPFO has planned to issue these 'Contribution Cards' to subscribers from April 1, 2012.

The EPFO has subscriber base of over 4.71 crore and manages a corpus of Rs 3.5 lakh crore.

Making Rushdie's visit public a tragic mistake: JLF producer

New Delhi: With much ruckus created over Salman Rushdie's visit that never happened, the producer of the Jaipur Literature Festival believes it was a "tragic mistake" on the organisers' part to have made public his attendance.

The festival had earlier seen Rushdie's presence in 2007 without much fuss, and an unannounced visit by controversial Dutch-Somali writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali in 2010.

Sanjoy K Roy said that perhaps it would have been better not to have announced the visit of the 'Midnight's Children' author, that ultimately almost hijacked this edition of the festival.

"In retrospect it was a big mistake.... It was a tragic mistake," he told Karan Thapar at CNN-IBN's Devil's Advocate, when asked about the festival organisers' decision to make public Rushdie's appearance three weeks before it happened.

However, he said the calling off of the visit was based on intelligence inputs received from the Rajasthan IB, despite the fact that the police "had stood by us" in providing more than adequate security, and at no point did the government "ever say to us that do not ask Rushdie to come".

"Each of the bits of information we received from Rajasthan IB led to the decision to not come, which in retrospect was the best decision," he said, while pointing out that he was in no position to judge if the inputs were credible.

Rushdie himself has said that he was provided concocted information by the Rajasthan intelligence.

The festival that began on January 20 first saw the 'Satanic Verses' author call off his visit and later his video link address was scrapped due to alleged threats of violence.

In a dramatic turn of events, the video was cancelled at the last moment even as hundreds of people waited in anticipation.

"What changed my mind (at the last minute) was when I got out and saw approximately 5,000 people sitting in the lawns and realised some of them had got hold of chairs that they may fling on to the screen; even if one of them did that, the kind of mayhem that it could have created could have lead to either a stampede or a lot of people getting hurt," Roy said.

"It was a decision made by us knowing fully well that the kind of rhetoric that was received by us from, including a senior Maulana, who said to me 'for us it is jihad and our young people will fight it to the end," he said.

He also said the popularity of the festival at a venue where thousands can congregate at a time turned out to be the major factor in their decision to not take any risk.

Farhan Akhtar will come in ads on crime against women

After a newspaper campaign, actor-filmmaker Farhan Akhtar will be the likely face of Delhi Police for an audio-visual advertisement to educate people about crime against women.

Thirty-eight-year-old Akhtar, who directed the recently released Bollywood movie 'Don 2', has already appeared in a newspaper campaign in which he exhorted Delhiites to help end violence against women.

"Now we are planning an audio-visual campaign with the actor on the issue. Talks are on," Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat said.

In the print campaign, Akthar made a compelling statement saying, "Make Delhi safer for Delhi. Are you man enough to join me? Don't sit back and allow violence against women. Fight it. Report it. Call Women's Helpline 1091."

Last December, Delhi Police had roped in cricketer Virender Sehwag, who appeared in advertisements urging people to follow traffic rules and to wear helmets.

"Celebrities are being roped in to popularise our initiatives. We are trying get more personalities to promote such causes and help curb crime," a senior police official said.

Former cricketers Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, Kapil Dev, Kirti Azad, Atul Wassan and Bishen Singh Bedi, among others, had figured in Traffic Police's programmes.

In Facebook IPO, investment bankers look for more prestige than money

Social networking site Facebook's historic initial public offering (IPO) is likely to set a new standard for how low investment banks are willing to go on advisory fees to win big business.

The world's largest online social network is expected to tap public markets for $10 billion in the coming months in an offering that will value the company at up to $100 billion, according to sources familiar with the planned IPO. It will be one of the biggest US market debuts ever, and a prized trophy for the investment bankers seeking to win lead advisory roles.

That has set up a fierce competition on Wall Street, particularly between the presumed front-runners Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group Inc, which may offer their underwriting services for as little as 1% of gross proceeds, bankers and industry observers said.

That would be far less than the 7% fee that smaller deals typically fetch, or the 2 or 3% that large deals tend to command.

"The Facebook IPO will be iconic," said James Montgomery, chief executive of San Francisco-based investment bank Montgomery & Co, which advises tech companies on mergers, acquisitions and private placements.

Facebook can easily negotiate a 1% fee for the entire group of investment banks that will peddle its shares, Montgomery said, "much to the chagrin of the underwriters."

Such a low fee is practically unheard of for investment banking deals, apart from the offerings of bailed-out companies General Motors Co, American International Group Inc and Ally Financial Inc, which sold shares held by the US government in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

But Facebook has several advantages that will allow the company to haggle for a lower fee: it will be an easy sell as hoards of investors are keen to jump on the social media trend, and even a 1% fee would reap $100 million in revenue for investment banks, sending a lead advisor to the coveted No. 1 spot on IPO league tables.

"There's no other IPO like this," said Lee Simmons, a tech specialist at Dun & Bradstreet. "It's kind of the 800-pound gorilla for the tech sector."

The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook plans to file IPO documents with US securities regulators as early as Wednesday, and is close to picking Morgan Stanley as the lead underwriter.

The typical IPO that raises less than $500 million incurs a 7% fee -- what's known as "the 7% solution." But as IPOs grow in size, the fee%age shrinks.

Investment banks usually earn fees of 4% to 5% on IPOs of more than $1 billion, but deals from Silicon Valley tend to carry a premium. US tech IPOs of at least $1 billion carried an average fee of 5.8% from 2000 to 2012, on average, according to Thomson Reuters data.

In the case of Facebook -- whose T-shirt-wearing, 27-year-old chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, is said to appreciate status updates more than stock brokers -- it's unlikely advisors will be able to command the standard rate.

"These Valley types think this whole process could be automated and they don't have to pay 7% to these flashy, French-cufflink-wearing Wall Street types," said Eric Jackson, founder and managing member of Ironfire Capital, a technology-focused hedge fund, who has interacted professionally with executives at Facebook and other social-media companies.

Pricing dilemma

Facebook's offering will be the largest ever IPO from Silicon Valley, as well as the largest global high-tech IPO since the dot-com bubble burst. The most recent US social-media IPO, Zynga Inc, raised just one-tenth of the proceeds Facebook is hoping for.

Winning a lead advisory role on Facebook has become a make-or-break contest for tech bankers such as Goldman's George Lee, Morgan Stanley's Michael Grimes and Credit Suisse's Bill Brady.

Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs have been in communication with Facebook for months and already offered pitches to its executives in hopes of becoming lead adviser, according to sources briefed on the meetings.

Wall Street is now waiting to hear who will win the coveted "lead left" title, referring to where the top underwriter's name will appear on the IPO prospectus.

"Facebook is one of the most well-known brands around the globe," said George Papaioannou, a business professor at Hofstra University who has studied underwriting competition among investment banks. "The underwriters will have to do very little convincing to investors, and that gives Facebook a huge negotiating advantage."

Investment banking fees are not usually the primary concern for IPO candidates, who must nail down the right offering price and sell shares to the right mix of investors, Papaioannou said.

If the offering price is too high, the company and its underwriters risk burning IPO investors. If the bar is set too low, the stock issuer risks leaving money on the table. And if the mix is not right -- with more short-term traders than long-term investors -- a stock can become highly volatile in the days and weeks following its debut on an exchange.

Zynga, which makes some of the most popular online games that are played on Facebook, is a prime example. Co-managed by Goldman and Morgan Stanley, the IPO was priced at $10 a share in mid-December. IPO investors watched the stock fall 5% on the first day of trading. Zynga was quoted at $9.72 on Friday.

Similarly, online coupon-deals site Groupon Inc priced its IPO at $20 a share on November 4, but its shares fell as much as 26% in the first two weeks of trading. The stock was trading at $19.78 on Friday. Goldman, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse were co-managers of the IPO.

Hhandle with care

The other edge of the IPO sword can cut just as sharply for hot tech stocks.

LinkedIn Corp, which raised $353 million last May in an IPO priced at $45 a share, watched the stock soar as high as $122.70 on the first day of trading. LinkedIn shares have drifted down to the low $70 range, but the price range to date indicates that the company could have raised another $440 million to $1 billion in extra money if the IPO were priced more aggressively. Morgan Stanley was in the lead left position.

A sharp fluctuation in price soon after Facebook's IPO "would really embarrass Facebook and the underwriters," given the recent history of social-media IPOs, said Papaioannou

The Zynga, Groupon and LinkedIn deals garnered fees of 3 to 5%.

To be sure, the banks that are vying for a lead position on Facebook's IPO will have to do more than lowball on price. They will also have to convince the Palo Alto, California-based company that the deal will go off without a hitch.

As Facebook's size and influence have grown in recent years, its actions -- whether changes to privacy policies on its popular networking site, or its interactions with Wall Street bankers -- have come under intense public scrutiny.

Goldman's handling of a private sale of $1.5 billion worth of Facebook shares to wealthy clients last year stirred enough controversy that the bank was forced to limit the offering to non-US investors.

That misstep may have cost Goldman some goodwill with Facebook, industry observers said. And, as a company that makes money from a broad base of users, it also forces Facebook to consider whether its IPO will give unfair advantages to well-heeled investors.

"Two reasons I think Morgan Stanley will get the lead: one, they have a great retail distribution platform with the Smith Barney franchise and, two, I don't think Facebook is overly happy with Goldman Sachs," said Jeff Sica, president and CEO of SICA Wealth Management, who has bought shares of Facebook in private, pre-IPO markets for clients.

Morgan Stanley was the top bookrunner for global high-tech IPOs last year, with $2.2 billion in global proceeds and 10.9% market share. It also led the pack in US high-tech IPOs, according to Thomson Reuters data. Goldman Sachs was the runner up with $1.9 billion in global fees and 9.2% market share, and ranked No. 3 in US high-tech IPOs behind JPMorgan Chase & Co.

A less measurable but equally important factor in obtaining the lead IPO position is whether bankers can connect with decision-makers at Facebook on a personal level.

"It's really going to be the banker that understands and is sensitive to Zuckerberg and the executive team's needs," said Dun & Bradstreet's Simmons. "Whoever does that successfully will get the bragging rights, the proverbial brass ring of tech IPOs."

January 28, 2012

Fruit juice and cancer: The link is established

A glass of juice in the morning is believed to be the healthy way to start a day, but Australian scientists have claimed that some fruit juices contain so much sugar that they actually increase the risk of certain cancers, rather than preventing them.

They said, in fact, by the time the drink has been processed and packaged, many of the ingredients in fruit that protect against tumours have been lost, the Daily Mail reported.

The researchers wanted to establish how effective different fruits, vegetables and juices were at preventing the development of bowel cancer.

They examined the diets of 2,200 adults, who filled in a questionnaire detailing their daily eating habits. The team then tracked the participants for two years to see how many of them developed the disease.

Unsurprisingly they found that eating apples, sprouts, cauliflower or broccoli on a daily basis all reduced the likelihood.

However, those who consumed lots of fruit juice had a higher risk.

The research found that those drinking more than three glasses a day were more likely to develop rectal cancer, a form of bowel cancer.

Scientists believe the high sugar content in juice may trigger certain tumours.

The Perth team also said that many things found in fruit which help protect against bowel cancer - including fibre, vitamin C and chemicals known as antioxidants - are lost during the juice's processing.

The findings were published in the journal of the American Dietetic Association.

January 27, 2012

Republic Day drama: Who the hell cares? Indians bought more national flags during Anna Hazare fast

The tricolour sale this Republic Day was a dampener, say stationary shop owners and flag manufacturers. Traders note that the tricolour sold better during the Anna agitation as against now.

Rameth, a seller at Paradise signal said, "I sell flags here every year. I buy them for Re 1 each and sell them for Re 2 each. This time, I only made a profit of Rs 200 because very few people bought the flags this year."

Even the suppliers of cloth flags reported a drop in sales, "We manufacture silk flags with the Ashoka Chakra embroidered on it. Though last year the sales were pretty good, this time, it is almost half of last year's figures as we managed to sell only five to ten flags," said Pankaj Agarwal, proprietor, Agarwal flag Store.

Giridhar Vyas of Bhagwan Cards store said, "We had purchased flags for around Rs 5,000 to 6,000 and managed to sell flags worth around Rs 4,000 only. On top of this, we also have last year's stock remaining. Our profit margin from selling these flags is only around 20 percent and sales this year are down by at least 30 percent."

With no evident reason behind this drop in numbers, Giridhar blamed the Telangana agitation, "I think because of the Telangana agitation people prefer to go out of town for every holiday, hence greatly reducing the number of potential customers."

However, it seems that people were inspired to buy the national flag when a strong sense of patriotism fuelled by a nation-wide uproar was in the air. Shop owners reported that sales of flags during the Anna Hazare movement were much higher when compared to the week prior to Republic Day.

Vidya Sagar, sales manager, Sri Vigneshwara stationery store said, "Sales this year have fallen by around 20 percent. During the Anna Hazare movement a few months back, we managed to sell 80 percent of the stock including the remainders from last year's Republic day and Independence Day stock. We sold over 500 pieces in a week at that time, whereas in the past week, we sold only around 300."


But despite that some duffer articles said: India celebrates Republic Day with great enthusiasm
Some bloggers said why did we spend so much on Republic Day

January 25, 2012

Apple beats expectations, profit rises, shares jump

Makers of iPads and iPhones, Apple Inc's quarterly results went past Wall Street's expectations after US consumers snapped up near-unprecedented numbers of iPhones and iPads, sending its shares up 8% into record territory.

The world's most valuable technology corporation returned to form after a rare miss in the previous quarter, assuaging investors' worries that its sheer size meant it was headed into a period of slower growth.

It sold 37.04 million iPhones - its flagship product - and 15.43 million iPad tablets, doubling from a year earlier and easily outpacing already heightened expectations for a strong holiday season. That helped swell its warchest of cash and securities to almost $100 billion - more than enough to plug December's US budget deficit and level with California's 2012/13 spending plan.

The company founded by late Silicon Valley titan Steve Jobs - who died in October after a years-long battle with cancer - smashed estimates on all its results including gross margin, which came in at 44.7% during the quarter.

Apple reported a net profit of $13.06 billion, or $13.87 a share, handily outstripping an average Street forecast of $10.16 per share. The beat alone - by more than $3 a share, or $3.5 billion - would be a respectable sales figure for many smaller tech companies.

"Going into 2012, I expect strength of iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad should carry on into the year. Apple still has some tailwind, including opening up new retail stores and expanding its distribution channels," said Hendi Susanto at Gabelli & Co.

"I would say Apple still has many unpenetrated international markets ... Apple is still far from its saturation.

The results allayed lingering doubts about the ability of new Chief Executive Tim Cook to lead the company that Jobs built from a garage project into a global leader. This was the first full quarter for Apple without its legendary cofounder.

But the big quarter fueled Wall Street's impatience with Apple's $97.6 billion in cash and short-term and long-term marketable securities. Several analysts zeroed in on that war chest during the conference, quizzing both Cook and Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer about Apple's plans for that immense cache.

Oppenheimer said it was "actively discussing" the cash balance but didn't have anything to announce. Neither Cook nor Oppenheimer offered clues as to what the company was thinking on a possible dividend or stock buyback - a constant on investors' most-wanted lists - but hinted that Apple may invest in its supply chain or in acquisitions.

"While one might be tempted to conclude they will go on a buying spree, we think that is likely not the case," said Michael Yoshikami, CEO of YCMNET Advisors, which owns Apple shares. "We are looking for Apple to pay a one-time distribution rather than an ongoing dividend."

Apple's revenue leapt 73% to $46.33 billion, handily beating the average Wall Street analyst estimate of $38.91 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Sales in the United States were particularly strong, with revenue rising 90% in the Americas region. Sales in Europe were up 55% even though the region is in the grip of a debt crisis that has pummeled consumer confidence.

Monster quarter

Shares in Apple jumped 8% to about $452 in extended trade following the earnings report. The stock - which set a record high of $427.75 just this month - had closed at $420.41 on the Nasdaq.

Several analysts had warned that Apple might face a rougher ride than usual in 2012.

Google Inc's Android - a free software to run smartphones, adopted heavily by Samsung Electronics, Motorola and others - is chipping away at Apple's market share. A host of tablets from Amazon.com Inc, among others, offers buyers viable alternatives.

And then there are the inherent difficulties in maintaining growth momentum. In fiscal 2011, Apple tacked on $43 billion to its revenue, which analysts likened to birthing a Fortune 500 from scratch - every year. Its market value stood just shy of $400 billion, rivalling Exxon Mobil for the title of largest US corporation.

Still, some analysts said the stellar fiscal first quarter suggested such fears were premature, particularly given a 2012 pipeline that many expect to include the third iteration of the market-leading iPad and a fifth-generation iPhone that will trigger a new round of consumer mania.

"Customer demand was off the charts in the quarter," Oppenheimer told Reuters in an interview.

Average projections for sales of Apple products during the fiscal first quarter, which includes the holiday shopping season and one more week than is typical, were for roughly 31 million iPhones, 13.5 million to 14 million iPads and 5 million Mac computers.

On Tuesday, Apple also forecast results for its fiscal second quarter that were ahead of analyst estimates. It expects revenue of about $32.5 billion and diluted earnings per share of about $8.50. Wall Street had expected earnings of $8.04 per share on revenue of $32.1 billion in the fiscal second quarter.

"It sets up Apple well for the rest of the year," said Canaccord Genuity's Michael Walkley. "They are still ramping up the new geographies like the iPhone 4 in China, which they just started selling in January and we'll see in March results."

"IPhones and Siri (voice-activated software) still driving strong. An iPhone 5 for the end of the year with a new form factor and with LTE (next-generation mobile technology) will drive another set of gains in 2012," he added.

Politicians in bed with extremists for electoral gains: Rushdie

Salman Rushdie, whose Jaipur Litfest video conference was cancelled on Tuesday, expressed disappointment that politicians are in bed with religious extremists groups and hence unwilling to oppose or stop them.

"My overwhelming feeling is a disappointment on behalf of India, which is a country that I have loved all my life and whose long-term commitment to secularism and liberty is something I've praised for much of my life. And now I find an India in which religious extremists can prevent free expression of ideas at a literary festival, in which the politicians are too, let's say, in bed with those groups...for narrow electoral reasons, in which the police forces are unable to secure venues against demonstrators even when they know the demonstration is on its way," said the writer of Midnight's Children and the controversial Satanic Verses in an interview with NDTV.

Religious extremists were the real enemies of Islam, Rushdie said. The writer said, "The real enemies of Islam are the leaders, the Deobandis, the various extremist leaders and their followers, who behave like this, because what they do is to strengthen the extremely negative image of Islam as an intolerant, repressive, and violent culture, as an ideology masquerading as a gentle faith, whereas actually what happens every time it's crossed, or every time it dislikes something, is that it resorts to threats and violence. People like this, who behave like this, are the ones who feed that image and they are the ones responsible for the negative views of Islam in the world, and they should be called the enemies of the faith."

Rushdie felt it was ironical that The Satanic Verses was banned in India whereas it was available in 50 other countries, including Turkey, Egypt and, now, Post-Gaddafi Libya.

"We live in the information age in which information moves freely. And no matter what this gang of protesters tries to do, they will not prevent the dissemination of my novel, which is published all over the world, I think in more than 50 languages and, by the way, is legally published, in my certain knowledge, in Turkey and Egypt, and recently, after the fall of the Gaddafi regime, it was un-banned in Libya.

"So you have several Muslim countries in which the novel is freely able to be sold and read without any trouble. And yet, in India; this was the first country in the world to ban the book and after 23 and a half years that ban still survives. If Libya can do this, Turkey can do this, Egypt can do this, does India want to be a totalitarian state like China or does it want to move in the right direction towards liberty and the open discussion of ideas?"

Rushdie added that the whole episode was a scandalous but it will not stop him from coming to India. "I will come to India as many times as I choose to.

Do what I will and I will not allow these religious gangsters and their cronies in the government to prevent me...so deal with it."

He also said, "I thought the whole thing was fantastically fishy. I think that from the moment, the way in which the Congress Party...the way in which Congress officials, and many other party officials of other parties, all stated their opposition to my coming, I felt quite clear that some way would be found to prevent me from coming. And in the end, sadly it was."


January 24, 2012

Sunny Leone is just perfect for 'Jism 2' role: Pooja Bhatt

Bollywood producer Pooja Bhatt believes that casting plays an important role in moviemaking, and an actor's personality must match with the character one plays.

That is precisely the reason why she chose Indo-Canadian porn star Sunny Leone for the lead part in " Jism 2".

"We have done authentic casting in 'Jism 2'. We have taken Sunny Leone because we want a girl who plays that kind of part and persona," said Pooja on the sidelines of an event.

"It is very important that you cast authentically. Everyone talks about out-of-the-box casting but no one does it," added the the 39-year-old.

Pooja, who has made films like "Zakhm", "Jism" and "Paap", asserts that she likes to associate with people who are genuine.

"People talk about 'Zakhm' and then go and watch 'Jism'. The point is that we have decided to attach ourselves with only those who are audacious, be it Sunny Leone or anyone else; people who walk their talk and dare to stick their necks out," she said.

The actress-turned-filmmaker, daughter of Mahesh Bhatt, is currently busy with pre-production work of "Jism 2", which will go on floors soon.

Two male actors are yet to be finalised for the film.

January 22, 2012

What is Sopa and why it matters

The tech industry is abuzz about SOPA and PIPA, a pair of anti-piracy bills. Here's why they're controversial, and how they would change the digital landscape if they became law.

What is SOPA? SOPA is an acronym for the Stop Online Piracy Act. It's a proposed bill that aims to crack down on copyright infringement by restricting access to sites that host or facilitate the trading of pirated content.

SOPA's main targets are "rogue" overseas sites like torrent hub The Pirate Bay, which are a trove for illegal downloads. Go to the The Pirate Bay, type in any current hit movie or TV show like "Glee," and you'll see links to download full seasons and recent episodes for free.

Content creators have battled against piracy for years -- remember Napster? -- but it's hard for U.S. companies to take action against foreign sites. The Pirate Bay's servers are physically located in Sweden. So SOPA's goal is to cut off pirate sites' oxygen by requiring U.S. search engines, advertising networks and other providers to withhold their services.

That means sites like Google wouldn't show flagged sites in their search results, and payment processors like eBay's (EBAY, Fortune 500) PayPal couldn't transmit funds to them.

Both sides say they agree that protecting content is a worthy goal. But opponents say that the way SOPA is written effectively promotes censorship and is rife with the potential for unintended consequences.

Silicon Valley woke up and took notice of the implications when SOPA was introduced in the House of Representatives in October. But its very similar counterpart, PIPA (the Protect IP Act), flew under the radar and was approved by a Senate committee in May. PIPA had been scheduled for a vote on January 24.

But after a massive pushback from tech companies and their supporters, both SOPA and PIPA were officially "postponed" on January 20.

Isn't copyright infringement already illegal? Yes. The 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act lays out enforcement measures.

Let's say a YouTube user uploads a copyrighted song. Under the current law, that song's copyright holders could send a "takedown notice" to YouTube. YouTube is protected against liability as long as it removes the content within a reasonable timeframe.

When it gets a DMCA warning, YouTube has to notify the user who uploaded the content. That user has the right to file a counter-motion demonstrating that the content doesn't infringe on any copyrights. If the two sides keep disagreeing, the issue can go to court.

The problem with DMCA, critics say, is that it's useless against overseas sites.

SOPA tackles that by moving up the chain. If you can't force overseas sites to take down copyrighted work, you can at least stop U.S. companies from providing their services to those sites. You can also make it harder for U.S. Internet users to find and access the sites.

But SOPA goes further than DMCA and potentially puts site operators -- even those based in the U.S. -- on the hook for content that their users upload. The proposed bill's text says that a site could be deemed a SOPA scofflaw if it "facilitates" copyright infringement.

That very broad language has tech companies spooked.

Sites like YouTube, which publishes millions of user-uploaded videos each week, are worried that they would be forced to more closely police that content to avoid running afoul of the new rules.

"YouTube would just go dark immediately," Google public policy director Bob Boorstin said at a conference last month. "It couldn't function."

Tech companies also object to SOPA's "shoot first, ask questions later" approach.

The bill requires every payment or advertising network operator to set up a process through which outside parties can notify the company that one of its customers is an "Internet site is dedicated to theft of U.S. property." Once a network gets a notification, it is required to cut off services to the target site within five days.

Filing false notifications is a crime, but the process would put the burden of proof -- and the legal cost of fighting a false allegation -- on the accused.

As the anti-SOPA trade group NetCoalition put it in their analysis of the bill: "The legislation systematically favors a copyright owner's intellectual property rights and strips the owners of accused websites of their rights."

Who supports SOPA, and who's against it? The controversial pair of bills, SOPA and PIPA, have sparked an all-out war between Hollywood and Silicon Valley. In general, media companies have united in favor of them, while tech's big names are throwing their might into opposing them.

SOPA's supporters -- which include CNNMoney parent company Time Warner (TWX, Fortune 500), plus groups such as the Motion Picture Association of America -- say that online piracy leads to U.S. job losses because it deprives content creators of income.

The bill's supporters dismiss accusations of censorship, saying that the legislation is meant to revamp a broken system that doesn't adequately prevent criminal behavior.

But SOPA's critics say the bill's backers don't understand the Internet's architecture, and therefore don't appreciate the implications of the legislation they're considering.

In November, tech behemoths including Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) and Facebook lodged a formal complaint letter to lawmakers, saying: "We support the bills' stated goals. Unfortunately, the bills as drafted would expose law-abiding U.S. Internet and technology companies to new uncertain liabilities [and] mandates that would require monitoring of web sites."

Where does the bill stand now? SOPA was once expected to sail quickly through committee approval in the House.

But tech companies, who largely oppose the bills, mobilized their users to speak out. Wikipedia and Reddit launched site blackouts on January 18, while protesters hit the streets in New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C. Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) drew more than 7 million signatures for a petition that it linked on its highly trafficked homepage.

The bills lost some of their Congressional backers as a result of the backlash. Both SOPA and PIPA were tabled on January 20.

If the bills do come back up for discussion, they will likely be extensively reworked.

One major tenet of the original SOPA legislation has already been removed. As originally written, SOPA would have required Internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to sites that law enforcement officials deemed pirate sites.

But the White House said its analysis of the original legislation's technical provisions "suggests that they pose a real risk to cybersecurity," and that it wouldn't support legislation that mandates manipulating the Internet's technical architecture.

The White House's statement came shortly after one of SOPA's lead sponsors, Texas Republican Lamar Smith, agreed to remove SOPA's domain-blocking provisions.

What are the alternatives? One option, of course, is that Congress does nothing and leaves the current laws in place.

Alternative legislation has also been proposed. A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act (OPEN) on January 18 -- the same day as the Wikipedia site blackout.

Among other differences, OPEN offers more protection than SOPA would to sites accused of hosting pirated content. It also beefs up the enforcement process. It would allow digital rights holders to bring cases before the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), an independent agency that handles trademark infringement and other trade disputes.

California Republican Darrell Issa introduced OPEN in the House, and Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden introduced the Senate version. OPEN's backers had posted the draft legislation online and invited the Web community to comment on and revise the proposal.

SOPA supporters counter that the ITC doesn't have the resources for digital enforcement, and that giving it those resources would be too expensive.

Smith, one of SOPA's lead sponsors, released a scathing statement about OPEN immediately after it was introduced.

"The OPEN Act does not do enough to combat online piracy, and may make the problem worse," Smith wrote.


January 21, 2012

What Deepika Padukone eats for breakfast, lunch & dinner to maintain her svelte body

What does Deepika Padukone eat? Yes, it's a question many people ask when they see the svelte beauty. Here is the answer to what the Bollywood actress maintains her figure. Blessed with an athlete's body, Deepika Padukone does her bit to continue looking like the lean, toned stunner that she is.

Former model and national level badminton player, 25-year-old Deepika Padukone, one would agree, has an enviably toned and lean body. The leggy actress has a figure that can carry of both Indian and western outfits with equal finesse and grace. An excruciatingly strong will power makes it easy for her to stick to exercise routines and diets without wavering. Here are a few things she and her trainer Yasmin Karachiwala are clearly getting right.

Deepika Padukone was never out of shape

"All throughout school, I would go for badminton practice from 5 to 7 am," explains Deepika. "After school, I would practise for another two hours. It was a routine I stuck to every single day while growing up. So that definitely had a large role to play in how my body developed and maintained itself. However, after I stopped playing, I also discontinued exercising for quite a few years. And my initial training tided me over that period."

Not known to be a chubby kid, she glided through her initial years of college and modelling without much training. It was only once work became more and more camera- centric that she felt the need to focus on her body and start to tone up again.

"I was always slim but I knew my body had the potential to really look defined. I wasn't fat or out of shape, but I wanted to look a lot better. This is when I started training with Yasmin and she introduced me to Pilates and strength training. It did wonders for my tone and definition. I may have lost maybe a kilo or two at the most in all this time, but have lost inches all around and it shows," she says.

Deepika never followed a strict gym routine
Not one to enjoy conventional gym routines, Deepika likes to shake up her regimen with a mix of cardio, Pilates and yoga, constantly trying to mentally push the limits of her endurance and physical potential.

"I do a lot of freehand weights and four to five sets of stretching exercises with 10 to 20 reps, in between Pilates or stretching routines. I don't particularly like running so I don't do a lot of conventional gym exercises," she says. "I try and exercise as often as I can, but when I'm travelling or shooting, I tend to skip it for days on end."

One of the toughest things for Deepika was the effort to break her sweet tooth. "All my teeth are sweet. It's my weakness. When I was younger, it was only chocolates; I wouldn't touch any Indian sweets. But now I crave anything sweet, but I try and be good. I treat myself once in a while," she says.

What Deepika's trainer says

Yasmin goes into the details of Deepika's training routine and emphasises on how important it is to have self-control and will power to control urges that work against you.

"Deepika tries to come in every day for an hour. But currently, for example, she is in South Africa and hasn't been exercising for over 10 days. This is when she'll usually work out at home with Pilates or yoga," she explains.

Pilates has worked wonders on her body and uses a combination of strength and yoga to tighten the core muscles of the body and relax the mind. As a routine, it helps build flexibility and creates endurance in legs, abdominals, back and arms through resistance training. It also involves a steady control on breathing that helps to relieve stress and allow proper oxygen to reach core muscles. The flexibility helps coordination and balance and adequately trains all the muscle groups in the body.

Freehand and light weights

Deepika's typical workout consists of functional training at the gym with a mix of freehand and light weights, depending on what body part is being worked upon.

In addition, the Pilates machine and props such as resistance bands, wunda chair, foam weights etc, are used for an overall workout. This gives her the lean look without making the body look too muscular. "We also have a jumping series of the Pilates, which is a combination of cardio and Pilates," says Yasmin. "Here we do the jumping squat or walking lunges that may be accompanied by light weights of a kilo or two. I also like to intersperse a minute or two of cardio between other routines." Since Deepika exercises daily, to prevent soreness in the body, weight training is kept at a minimum.

"If she has a shoot where she is wearing shorts or a short skirt, we emphasize on her legs; if it's a halter that exposes her back and arms, we'll focus on push ups or pull ups, and weights are decided accordingly," says Yasmin. "For example, she has a beach scene in her upcoming movie, Cocktail, where we worked on her entire body's look. Usually, it's light weights and low reps and I like using a lot of props to keep the workout engaging and fun."

As for her diet, Yasmin encourages eating small meals every two hours that contain a combination of carbs and proteins. "We recently discovered Quinoa, a carbohydrate substitute high in fiber, which has worked wonders for Deepika," she says.

Deepika's Food for thought

This is what Deepika's average meal plan looks like:
  • Breakfast: 2 egg whites
  • Two hours later: Fruits
  • Lunch: Proteins; usually fish and grilled vegetables
  • Two hours later: A fruit or vegetable juice
  • Dinner: Lean meat; grilled chicken or fish
So, now you know what to eat to look like Deepika Padukone!

January 19, 2012

Education cannot be a business product: Kalam

Former President APJ Abdul Kalam said education cannot be categorised as a business product or system and only great teachers can inspire quality learning.

Addressing the students of Maharaja Sayajirao University and Prince Ashokraje Gaekwad School at two separate functions here last night, Kalam said, "It is not the great building or a great facility or great advertisements which give quality, but loveable education and great teachers do."

"Education at the primary level has to be delivered in an integrated way by great teachers through great syllabus and by promoting affinity between parents, students and teachers. It cannot be business product or system," he said.

He suggested educational institutions to introduce cutting edge technologies for enabling the students to make faster progress in their learning process.

Capacity building through education will enable students to deal with the real world, particularly to grow in their professional career and participate in the national development, he said.

Research creativity, innovation, ability to use high technology, entrepreneurial leadership, and moral leadership capacities are to be built up among students in their formative years by educational institutions for their participation in nation building tasks, Kalam said.

"If we develop in all our students these five capacities, we will produce 'Autonomous Learner' a self-directed, self controlled, lifelong learner who will have the capacity to both respect authority and at the same time is capable of questioning authority, in an appropriate manner," he said.

It's official: Sunny Leone is in 'Jism 2'

Director Pooja Bhatt has ended the mystery about the naked girl behind the wet white sheet in the teaser poster of 'Jism 2' by confirming Canadian porn star Sunny Leone as the lead.

Leone came to the limelight in India with her stint in the fifth season of controversial reality show 'Bigg Boss'. She was offered a role in the movie when Mahesh Bhatt entered the show briefly to meet her. But it was not official.

"Promised the mid-night hour but wanted to savor the moment and joy of announcing that Sunny Leone has signed Jism 2! May the speculation end," Pooja wrote on Twitter.

The poster of the film with a mystery girl behind the wet white sheet, also created quite a frenzy among fans and Bhatt had promised to unveil the face tonight at 12.

Mahesh Bhatt also tweeted his delight of Leone signing the sequel of 2003 hit film 'Jism', which starred Bipasha Basu and John Abraham.

"Sunny Leone is the heroine of Pooja Bhatt's 'Jism 2'. Now watch this brave girl unfold her soul and rise higher and higher," Bhatt tweeted.

Leone, whose real name is Karen Malhotra, is also upbeat about bagging the lead role.

"Hey everyone! So excited to be working on 'Jism 2'. Remember to follow @jism2 to get all the movie news first," she wrote on Twitter.

While Leone plays the female lead, the film will have two male protagonists and actress-turned-filmmaker Pooja, the producer of 'Jism 2' is in a dilemma over who to sign.

"While my dream that is Jism 2 comes closer to realization with Sunny Leone my nightmare with regards to casting my two leading men begins.

"Finding one 'man' in this business is tough enough and we need to cast two in Jism 2! I suspect strongly that it is masochism that drives me," Pooja said.

Greece on verge of default... what happens if it does?

Greece is expected to announce a bond swap deal with private sector creditors which will see at least half the value of their investments in its debt written off.

Such a deal is likely to tip the country into default, although that could mean several different things.

Greece's current ratings

The three big credit rating agencies - Fitch, Moody's and Standard & Poor's - downgraded Greece in July after the debt swap plan was unveiled, assigning it "highly speculative" status and warning that losses for private creditors would imply a default. Fitch rates Greece CCC, S&P rates it CC and Moody's Ca.

Selective or outright default?

Fitch and S&P make a distinction between a selective or restricted default, where a borrower stops making interest or principal payments on some debts, and an outright inability or refusal to repay creditors.

Market players often make similar distinctions, referring to "orderly and disorderly", "soft and hard" or "managed and messy" defaults.

Both rating agencies have said a debt exchange under which creditors take losses, whether voluntary or otherwise, would be a selective or restricted default.

S&P said in July it would revise Greece's sovereign rating to "selective default" when any debt restructuring is implemented, with the affected bonds being cut to D, its lowest rating, denoting a default.

Fitch's lead analyst for Greece, Paul Rawkins, said on Wednesday that Greece would be assigned its "restricted default" rating when the bond exchange period closes.

Moody's does not make a similar distinction but its lowest rating of C implies a default with little prospect for recovery of principal or interest.

What happenes afterwards?

S&P and Moody's each said in July that once a restructuring is completed they will reassess Greece's creditworthiness in light of its reduced debt burden, which is likely to mean its ratings are upgraded. S&P said it expected to assign "a low speculative-grade rating" to Greece, reflecting its still-high debt and uncertain growth prospects.

New bonds issued under the debt swap will also be rated, possibly - since some will be collateralised - at a higher level than unsecured Greek government bonds.

Fitch's Rawkins said Greece's restricted default rating would be maintained "for a short period" before it was reassessed, taking into account changes to the country's debt profile.

An outright default would be seen as a sign politicians had lost control of the single currency, and markets would immediately take aim at other weak countries such as Italy, Spain and Portugal.

Will there be a credit event?

The International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA), has the final say on whether a "credit event" has occurred, triggering the payment of default insurance taken out on Greek bonds via the credit default swap market.

According to the latest data from DTCC , outstanding credit default swaps on Greek debt total $70.8 billion gross and $3.2 billion net. Forced losses for investors would almost certainly be considered a credit event, even as part of an "orderly" default.

Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos told the New York Times this week he will consider legislation forcing creditors to take losses if no agreement can be reached.

An outright default, where Greece does not meet interest payments or repay principal, would prompt ISDA to declare a credit event as grace periods expire.

Recent comments

"Greece will default very shortly. Whether there will be a solution at the end of the current rocky negotiations I cannot say," Moritz Kraemer, the head of S&P's European sovereign ratings unit, told Bloomberg Television on Monday.

"There is a lot of brinksmanship (going) on and a disorderly default will have ramifications on other countries but I believe policymakers will want to avoid that ... The game is still on."

"It is going to happen. Greece is insolvent so it will default," Edward Parker, Managing Director for Fitch's Sovereign and Supranational Group in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, told Reuters on Tuesday. "So in that sense it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.

"We have said for a long time that we don't think this (private sector involvement) is the way to go, and we would treat it as a default," Parker said. "It clearly is a default, however they try to spin it."

"It would be a default regardless of the size of the NPV (net present value) loss," Fitch's lead analyst for Greece, Paul Rawkins, said on Wednesday.

January 17, 2012

Weird fact about women: Most don't bathe every day!

We all know women are pretty, soft, sexy, and attractive but have you ever imagined another side to them, a slightly unkempt one at that? Actually, women can be quite crazy; they are capable of doing things that make men go red in the face such as faking orgasm, preferring chocolates over sex and the list is endless.

Women are psychologically and physically different from men. They hide age, weight, feelings, qualities, and do things that men have never thought of doing. On that note, we explore some funny, weird facts about women that are lesser-known.

Women always carry their handbags around: Men must have not noticed this, but women always carry their handbags or purses. They feel awkward if they don't carry anything in their hands. And we really don't know what they have inside their bags!

Women never have anything to wear: Give them thousands of bucks; they can spend the whole sum on shopping. And still complain that they haven't got anything to wear. The fact is that most of the clothes or accessories in their closets are either one-time-wear or not even that.

Women don't bathe everyday: Not all women bathe everyday, no matter how much they profess cleanliness and hygiene. They rely on deodorants and perfumes to smell good.

Women eat a hell lot: When men are around, women act like they eat too little. But when left alone she can polish off a full size pizza. Now, we know why women always talk about food and recipes.

Why women love TV serials/Soap operas so much: We know most of the TV serials look so stupid and funny but women still love them. Probably they just want to feel that there are people worse off than them. Now you should know why a Balika Vadhu kind of show is so famous.

After sex women still love to be kissed: Men always feel tired and prefer to sleep after sex, but women don't. They like to talk, fool around, and kiss each other. For a great relationship, men should take note of this.


-Women worry about their looks while having sex

-Women love to bargain, even if they don't like the buy

-Around seventy per cent women would rather have chocolate than sex

-Women don't like another woman to wear the same dress

-Women mature much faster than men

-Women can spend a whole day before the mirror

-Women don't need sex as often as men do. Sex is more about emotions for women.

If you know any other funny facts about women, please add to the list.

Google, Facebook oppose web control in Delhi HC

Internet giants Google and Facebook told the Delhi High Court on Monday that it is not possible for companies to block offensive content that appears on their websites, in a case that has stoked fears about censorship in the world's largest democracy.

Google and Facebook are among 21 companies that have been asked to develop a mechanism to block objectionable material, after a private petitioner took the websites to court over images deemed offensive to Hindus, Muslims and Christians.

At the heart of the dispute is a law passed last year in the country that makes companies responsible for user content posted on their websites, requiring them to take it down within 36 hours in case of a complaint.

The case was originally filed in a lower court, but the companies have appealed to the Delhi High Court, challenging the lower court's ruling asking them to take down some content.

"The search engine only takes you till the website. What happens after that is beyond a search engine's control," Neeraj Kishan Kaul, a lawyer for Google's Indian unit, told a packed High Court hearing on Monday.

"If you use blocks, which is very easy for people to say, you will inadvertently block other things as well. For example: the word 'sex'. Even a government document like a voter ID list or a passport has the word 'sex'," he added.

Siddharth Luthra, a lawyer for Facebook told the court it was not possible for the social network to "single out" any individual on the basis of religion or views and said the users should be held responsible for content they post.

Less than a tenth of India's 1.2 billion population have access to Internet although its 100-odd million users make it the third biggest Internet market after China and the United States. Internet users in India are seen nearly tripling to 300 million over the next three years.

Despite the new rules to block offensive content, India's Internet access is still largely free unlike the tight controls in neighbouring China.

Civil rights groups have opposed the new laws. But politicians say that posting offensive images in the socially conservative country with a history of violence between religious groups presents a danger to the public as Internet use grows.

The high court will resume hearing the case on Thursday, Justice Suresh Kait said. The judge was last week quoted by local media warning the websites of China-style controls if they did not create a means to curb material seen as offensive.