March 29, 2012

Georgia Salpa shows off her assets in sunshine

Celebrity Big Brother pin-up Georgia Salpa is looking haaaaawwwt in the sunshine

Only a couple of weeks ago she was sunning herself on the beaches of Dubai.

So after London has been treated to some warm sunny weather this week, Georgia Salpa has been making the most of the opportunity to show off her holiday tan.

The Irish model, 26, showed off her stunning curves in a tight white vest and denim short shorts as she relaxed in one of the capital's royal parks.

Spotted on a solo trip to the park, she topped up her tan as she reclined on a blanket as the city enjoyed the 23C sunshine.

After a while, the Celebrity Big Brother star looked a bit peckish and decided to get an iconic 99 Mr Whippy ice cream.

Salpa's day in the sun comes after she enjoyed a night out partying with CBB co-star Kirk Norcross at the DSTRKT club in Piccadilly on Tuesday.

Given Norcross's attention on his former The Only Was Is Essex co-star Joey Essex, it looks like he's gotten over his crush on Salpa.

Meanwhile, Salpa revealed this week she was being hounded with nasty messages on her Facebook and Twitter accounts.

She's also been getting vicious phonecalls to her London flat.

She told The Sun: 'It's all very weird and quite freaky. It started with constant crank calls and then they started tweeting me, I think they are the same guys.

'Then I was getting calls to my apartment which was really freaky, I never imagined they'd know where I live.'

George Clooney's girlfriend Stacy Keibler in lingerie shoot

Geroge Clooney's girlfriend Stacy Keibler sizzles in sexy LBG lingerie shoot... that's 'life before George'

She had already won over quite a lot of male fans during her wrestling and modelling days.

But since she started dating George Clooney, Stacy Keibler's star has rapidly ascended to the A-list.

And just to show exactly what the actor comes home to, a pre-Clooney photoshoot has been unearthed showing Keibler in a variety of sexy lingerie.

Obviously younger than her current age of 32, Keibler shows off her toned body in a series of sexy poses.

While in some photos she looks every inch the sensual seductress, in others she pulls the girl-next-door smile she's been sporting so often since getting together with Clooney.

Before she started dating the 50-year-old last August, Keibler was quite the pin-up, appearing in Maxim's Hot 100 list.

Her fabulous figure also caught the attention of Hugh Hefner, who asked to pose for Playboy magazine twice... but she refused both times.

Meanwhile, Keibler is back in the U.S. after a short holiday to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico with her boyfriend Clooney.

The pair enjoyed a much-needed break after Clooney's high-profile arrest outside the Sudanese embassy in Washington D.C. earlier this month.

In the eight months they've been dating, Keibler has already joined Clooney in Cabo three times, making this recent trip her fourth.

The actor first took to Cabo last October for her 32nd birthday and they also spent the New Year's holidays there with his close friends Cindy Crawford and her husband Rande Gerber.

Yesterday, Keibler teamed up with Martin Starr, Nicky Whelan and Kali Hawk to film an episode of spoof police camera show NTSFSDSUV (National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: Sport Utility Vehicle).

An offer from Facebook that can't be refused

Facebook offers Rs 1.34 cr package to Allahabad engineering student

Social networking giant Facebook has hired an engineering student here for a fat annual pay package of Rs 1.34 crore, one of the biggest offers made to alumnus of any technical institution of the country.

According to P Chakravarti, Director of the Motilal Nehru National Institute of Technology (MNNIT), a B.Tech student from the institute, who has requested that his name be withheld for "security reasons", received a letter on March 27 from Facebook confirming his appointment and the annual pay package on offer was stated to be $262,500 (around Rs 1.34 crore).

Interestingly, the MNNIT Director said the recruitment process began with a mail from Facebook "in October last year which was followed by nine rounds of telephonic interviews" before he was finally selected for the plush job which would require the student, who hails from Kanpur, to move to Menlo Park in California after finishing his software engineering course at the institute.

"Many students from our institute have bagged lucrative jobs. We have knowledge of at least 30 of our alumni getting selected with packages of more than Rs 10 lakh from companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Adobe etc", Chakravarti said.

"However, this one has been unprecedented and we are sure that no other student from any of the other institutions in the city or the more than two dozen National Institutes of Technology across the country has so far been offered such an awesome pay package", he added.

Kim Kardashian's hourglass figure: Incredible

Kim Kardashian shows off unbelievable hourglass shape in bikini shoot... while Kourtney's baby bump disappears 

Her curves are the fascination of fans across the world so what better way to show off their latest line of swimwear than by using Kim Kardashian to model.

The reality star, 31, showed off her hourglass shape in a bikini from her Kardashian Kollection - the fashion line she shares with sisters Khloe and Kourtney.

But there's something about the shoot and the girls' appearance that just seem impossible - most notably the difference between Kim's middle and her hips.

Kim's waist appears unbelievably tiny and the frilly duke-blue bikini certainly complements her shape which looks incredible.

The reality star is joined by her sisters Kourtney and Khloe in the picture which boasts a brooding theme with dark dramatic clouds seen in the background.

Kourtney,32, is seen sporting a dark strapless bikini while Khloe wears a lace bikini with a sheer navy kaftan over the top.

The girls skin appears luminous and flawless suggesting the trio have undoubtedly had a little help in the photoshop department.

In fact Kourtney, who is currently pregnant with her second child, was seen sporting a baby bump at the time of the shoot in February, but there is no hint of a pregnancy in the snap.

Her abs looked more toned than ever despite photographers capturing her baby bump in snaps on the same day last month.

Kim took to Twitter today to promote the shoot and posted the snap with the caption: 'Kourt, Khloe and I put on our favorite bikinis for our new #KardashianKollection swimwear shoot!

The picture, which seems to have considerable photoshop work on it, comes a day after Kim was seen leaving a skin and hair clinic in LA with red patches on her forehead.

It seems the star may well have indulged in a spot of Botox ahead of a glitzy event last night.

March 27, 2012

GoaWire Goa Music Festival invites musicians, bands & DJs

The GoaWire Goa Music Festival invites all musicians, Bands & DJs to be part of the biggest Music Fest ever held in Asia. The GoaWire Goa Music Festival ( which kicks off on Easter Sunday  - 8th April  with the first grand inaugural event at Elephant Art Café, Anjuna Beach is the biggest Music Fest to be held in Asia and is set to rock and shake Goa and Goans out of the hot summer sun-induced lethargy.

With over 120 performances or performing groups scheduled over two months of April and May and spread over 52 days at about 40 different locations, the GoaWire Goa Music Festival will cover and traverse the length and breadth of Goa from Canacona in South Goa, to Morjim, Ashwem and Arambol in North Goa. The main stops would include the tourist haunts of Anjuna, Vagator, Baga, Calangute, Candolim, Miramar and Panaji in the North and Majorda, Benaulim, Colva, Cavelossim and Palolem in South Goa. It is touted as the biggest Music Festival ever held in Asia till date and about one lakh Goans and visitors are expected to enjoy the extravaganza at about 40 different outdoor and indoor locations.

The brain-child of Goan DJ Jenny D, the Goa Music Festival is co-ordinated by Frank Franklyn. Says Frank Franklyn, “We are really grateful for support extended to us by LynFord Dsouza and Bharat of Elephant Art Café, Micheal Mascarenhas of Flying Dolphin, Newton Azavedo of Newtons, Mariketty of Thalassa, Cajetan Dsouza of Brittos, Donald Coelho of O’Pescador, Shailaja of Patiala Pegg, Karlton Desouza of Horizon Grill, Anthony Fernandes of Abracadabra, Eric of Bom Successo, Anthony Dsouza of Big Peckers, Verner of Jambalaya, Shahid and Micheal of Club WestEnd, Ernest of Ernesto’s, Karl Coelho of Vallonne and several others without whose help this event would not have materialized. These people through their faith in us have helped us put this event together. We hope Goans enjoy their own musicians and DJs at this festival.”

The Goa Music Festival will see different genres, styles and types of music and musicians like Jazz, Pop, Rock, Reggae, Retro, Blues and Bollywood come together under one umbrella. About 60 of Goa’s best DJs will also perform alongside the musicians and bands. This is an initiative to promote Goan music, Goan musicians, bands, DJs and also indirectly promote Goan food and culture, explains Frank Franklyn. The performances will be held at different restaurants, clubs and hang-outs around Goa all under the banner of the Goa Music Festival.

Musicians, bands, DJs and groups wishing to perform at the GoaWire Goa Music Festival can contact Frank Franklyn  on +918888620851 or email frankfranklyn at for slots. Very few slots are available so please rush.

March 24, 2012

Audrina Patridge shows killer curves in bikini

With her pretty floral bikini and perfectly toned figure, Audrina Patridge certainly made for an eye catching sight as she hit the Los Angeles beach earlier today.

The 26-year-old reality star looked in good spirits as she ran through the surf and soaked up some spring sunshine on the sands.

Audrina showed off her washboard stomach muscles and toned arms - the result of her impressive workout regime.

At one point, the former Hills star slathered on the sun tan lotion and lay back on a towel to top up her tan.

Despite minimal make-up and her long light brown hair pulled up in a loose ponytail, the effect was stunning.

The star last year revealed a few of her beauty secrets, telling Now magazine: ‘I always take a cold shower to wake me up and close my pores. Then I moisturise my face.'

Happily, the star says there is nothing she would change about the way she looks, but says she works hard to maintain her figure.

'LA is so competitive that you want to look your best, though, so I work hard at it. I exercise and eat healthily.'

She also gave Shape magazine advice on how to achieve her 'beachy hair' look, revealing she washes her long locks twice a week and using dry shampoo in between and uses Moroccan hair oil on the ends.

'It smells really wonderful,' she told the magazine. 'And I have less breakage when I comb my hair.'

Audrina has a little time on her hands these days after her reality show Audrina ended last year after proving a ratings flop with audiences.

When it emerged the show was being canned she said: 'We finished in April and I kind of decided I wanted to take some time off from reality. I want to do something more like acting or hosting.'

Herb Ritts' picture of Cindy Crawford, Namoi Cambell

From Cindy Crawford to Naomi Campbell, new exhibition shows how Herb Ritts' photography 'came to define the era of the supermodel'

Pop culture and fashion of the Eighties and Nineties was characterised in large part by the rise of the supermodel and is best illustrated by the images of Cindy, Naomi, Christy and friends that dominated every billboard, magazine cover and music video of the time.

Many believe that no one captured the essence of that period better than Herb Ritts, the iconic photographer and director who died ten years ago from AIDS at age 50.

And so as a tribute to the legendary artist who was credited with bridging the gap between art and commerce, the J.Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles will open an exhibit featuring a carefully curated selection of his work early next month.

According to the New York Times, though some have called Ritts 'formulaic, he 'belongs in the tradition of Richard Avedon, Louise Dahl-Wolfe and Irving Penn.'

With a career that began in the late 1970's, the California-born Angelino rose to fame with his portraits and editorial shoots of fashion stars and celebrities.

Ritts pointed his lens at Madonna, Michael Jackson, Julia Roberts and Tom Cruise to name but a few of the famous faces he snapped, publishing his work in such publications as Vogue, Vanity Fair, Interview and Rolling Stone.

He applied his signature simplicity of composition and strength of form to advertising campaigns for Calvin Klein, Chanel and Gianni Versace among others, that are still instantly recognisable today.

And in the late Eighties, he turned his attention to the moving image directing adverts and music videos to huge critical acclaim.

The Los Angeles exhibit has been curated by Paul Martineau who described Ritts as an impulsive photographer.

'He wasn’t someone who had everything scripted,' he told the New York Times. 'He approached shoots organically.'

In a press release Mr Martineau said: 'Herb Ritts embraced his life in Los Angeles in every aspect and that is evident in his photographs. You can feel the Southern California light and warmth in his work and, without question, it influenced his pictures.'

The show is the result of months spent sorting through almost 1,000 boxes of photographs at the Herb Ritts Foundation and will include a 1993 shot of Cindy Crawford on a Malibu beach and one of actor Djimon Hounsou with an octopus on his head.

But a majority of the selected works are of the lesser known faces; the dancers, athletes and nudes that showcase his non-commercial talent.

'I didn’t want as many celebrities because I felt they had been given a lot of time,' explained Mr Martineau. 'I was interested in the most elegant work rather than the most whimsical.'

The exhibition will open on April 3 and run through to August 26 at the J.Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Interview with Nargis Fakhri: I am not dating Shahid Kapoor

Nargis Fakhri believes in saying the truth, unluckily all that has been so far said in the media, isn't so

Once again you are in the news for your alleged linkup with an actor. What's the truth about Shahid Kapoor and you? 

I am not dating Shahid Kapoor. I met him while performing at an awards ceremony. It was my first and I was nervous. Shahid was supportive. We have been friends since then. Can't one have both guy and girl friends? Why is having dinner, lunch or coffee with a friend such a big deal?

You flew down with Shahid for his birthday in Goa and then were spotted at a five star having dinner... 

For his birthday, I was invited. I thought I would have a nice time with people I know. I never thought it would become such a big deal. As for the dinner, a common friend planned it. Five of us met up after a long time.

You've been linked to Ranbir Kapoor and Imtiaz Ali earlier... 

They were just rumours. And I can't be bothered with them.

Does it feel weird to be constantly scrutinized? 

It comes with the job. But I would like the media to tell the truth. I am someone who will happily say the truth. I don't feel the need to hide from anyone. I see nothing wrong in love or being in love.

Rockstar was a big hit. But the critics were a bit harsh on you. Is that why you are waiting to sign your next project? 

I am not being choosy. There are things in the pipeline. I don't want to rush. I did not know what to expect from Rockstar. Later, I realised how lucky I was. Critics had no idea how hard I had worked. But it's fine. I realise that this is an unforgiving business. I take all the criticism positively.

March 23, 2012

Chandro Tomar: World's oldest professional sharpshooter

At 78, most pensioners are reliant on the glasses to even read a newspaper. But not Indian grandmother Chandro Tomar. With a £1,200 pistol in hand, and her sari draped over her long silver hair, it’s believed she’s the world’s oldest female professional sharpshooter.

She has entered and won over 25 national championships across India as well as raising six children and 15 grandchildren.

She said: ‘I wanted to do something useful with my life and show people my capabilities.

'As soon as I shot my first pistol I was hooked. And now I’ve shown everyone there’s no disadvantages to my age. If you’re focused you can do anything.’

Almost ten years ago Chandro took her granddaughter to a local firing range in Johri village, in Uttar Pradesh, India.

She wanted to learn a new skill but was too shy to go alone.

In the end it was Chandro who was welcomed into the club with open arms.

‘As I was waiting around I decided to have a go. The coach spotted me and was amazed at my aim,’ she said.

‘He told me to come back so I did. Initially I was just supporting my granddaughter but I enjoyed it so much it became a passion and I looked forward to going to the club every week.’

Chandro Tomar with her medals and trophies
While Chandro tended to her daily chores on her farm and raised her family, she practiced her aim whenever she could using stones and throwing them at water bottles.

The club’s coach, Farooq Pathan, who set up the shooting club with two friends in 1998, said: 'I was surprised when I saw a pensioner in our group but she picked it up pretty quickly.

'She was so good some of the men stopped turning up altogether to avoid being humiliated by her, a old woman. She has the ultimate skill, a steady hand and a sharp eye.'

And now she’s a national treasure, known throughout India for her skill, even winning gold at the Veteran Shooting Championship held in Chennai.

But her biggest fan is her daughter Seema, who is also an international shooting star becoming the first Indian woman to win a medal at the Rifle and Pistol World Cup.

'She is amazing,' she said. ‘If she can do it then so can we. She showed us that anything is possible. She has helped so many of us improve our lives.

'Many members of the club have gone on to even find jobs with the military, and police force, because of her encouragement.’

Chandro had an experience with the police herself, proudly beating an officer at one competition.

She said: ‘I defeated the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Delhi police. It was brilliant.'

But medals or no medals, life at home never changes for Chandro and she still cooks, cleans and cares for her family, making sure dinner is served before firing some bullets down at her local range and helping to carve out future success stories from the club.

March 21, 2012

What is Direct Tax Code (DTC 2012): Highlights and Impact

The New Direct Tax Code (DTC) is said to replace the existing Income Tax Act of 1961 in India. DTC bill was tabled in parliament on 3oth August, 2010. There are big changes now in monsoon session and There are now much less benefits as compared to what were in the original proposal.

During the budget 2010 presentation, the finance minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee reiterated his commitment to bringing into fore the new direct tax code (DTC) into force from 1st of April, 2011, but same could not be fulfilled.

Again, as per budget presented on 16th March, 2012, Implementation of Direct tax code has again been deferred and won’t be applicable from 1st April, 2012. Also check out changes in taxation in 2012 budget.

Highlights of Direct Tax code

1. Removal of most of the tax saving schemes: DTC removes most of the categories of exempted income. Unit Linked Insurance Plans (ULIPs), Equity Mutual Funds (ELSS), Term deposits, NSC (National Savings certificates), Long term infrastructures bonds, house loan principal repayment, stamp duty and registration fees on purchase of house property will loose tax benefits.

2. New tax saving schemes: Tax saving based investment limit remains 100,000 but another 50,000 has been added just for pure life insurance (Sum insured is atleast 20 times the premium paid) , health insurance, mediclaims policies and tuition fees of children. But the one lakh investment can now only be done in provident fund, superannuation fund, gratuity fund and new pension scheme (NPS).

3. Tax slabs: The income tax rates and slabs have been modified. The proposed rates and slabs are as follows:
Annual IncomeTax Slab
Up-to INR  200,000 (for senior citizens 250,000)Nil
Between INR 200,000 to 500,00010%
Between INR 500,000 to 1,000,00020%
Above INR 1,000,00030%

Men and women are treated same now

4. Home loan interest: Exemption will remain same as 1.5 lakhs per year for interest on housing loan for self-occupied property.

5. Short and long term gains: Only half of Short-term capital gains will be taxed. e.g. if you gains 50,000, add 25,000 to your taxable income.
Long term capital gains (From equities and equity mutual funds, on which STT has been paid) are still exempted from income tax.

6. EEE and EET: As per changes on 15th June, 2010, Tax exemption at all three stages (EEE) —savings, accretions and withdrawals—to be allowed for provident funds (GPF, EPF and PPF), NPS (new pension scheme administered by PFRDA), Retirement benefits (gratuity, leave encashment, etc), pure life insurance products & annuity schemes. Earlier DTC wanted to tax withdrawals.

7. Education Cess: Surcharge and education cess are abolished.

8.  Income arising from House Property: Deductions for Rent and Maintenance would be reduced from 30% to 20% of the Gross Rent. Also all interest paid on house loan for a rented house is deductible from rent.

Before DTC, if you own more than one property, there was provision for taxing notional rent even if the second house was not put to rent. But, under the Direct Tax Code 2010 , such a concept has been  abolished.

9. LTA (Leave travel allowance): Tax exemption on LTA  is abolished.

10. Education loan: Tax exemption on Education loan to continue.

11. Corporate tax: Corporate tax reduced from 34% to 30% including education cess and surcharge.

12. Taxation of Capital gains from property sale: For sale within one year, gain is to be added to taxable salary.
For long term gain (after one year of purchase), instead of flat rate of 20% of gain after indexation benefit, new concept has been introduced. Now gain after indexation will be added to taxable income and taxed at per the tax slab.
Base date for cost of acquisition has been changed to 1st April, 2000 instead of earlier 1st April, 1981.

14. Medical reimbursement : Max limit for medical reimbursements has been increased to 50,000 per year from current 15,000 limit.

15. Tax on dividends: Equity mutual fund will attract 5% dividend distribution tax (DDT). DDT has been removed from debt and non-equity based mutual funds but now dividends on non-equity funds will be taxable in investor’s hand as per his slab rates. There will also be a TDS 0f 10% (20% in case of NRI and companies)  if dividend is more than 10,000 Rs for non-equity funds.

15. News for NRIs : As per the current laws, a NRI is liable to pay tax on global income if he is in India for a period more than 182 days in a financial year. But in new bill, this duration has been changed to just 60 days.

An NRI will be deemed as resident only if he has also resided in India for 365 days or more in the preceding four financial years, together with 60 days in any of these fiscal years.  Even if an NRI becomes a resident in any financial year, his global income does not immediately become liable to tax in India. Global income would become taxable only if the person also stayed in India for nine out of 10 precedent years, or 730 days in the preceding seven years.

This is very unfair to Seafarers. To avoid any income tax, an Indian sailor employed with a foreign ship will have to stay maximum for 60 days in India.

Online FIR filing will be available from 2013

Come 2013, an FIR can be filed at the click of a mouse.

"Online registration of First Information Report will be possible" once server and network is established by the year end or early next year, Home Minister P Chidambaram told the Rajya Sabha today.

Answering questions on police reforms, he said the Centre was against selection of Director General of Police of a state by Union Pubic Service Commission as has been directed by the Supreme Court in 2006.

The selection, he said, should be left to the states from among 3-4 senior officers. Centre and state are on the same page on this issue.

The Centre is also against giving a two-year fixed tenure to a DGP irrespective of retirement age as cadre management would become very difficult, he said. States too have expressed difficulty in following the direction, he said.

The Supreme Court had also directed constitution of a State Security Commission, separating investigating police from law and order police, setting up of Police Establishment Board at state level to decide transfers, postings and promotions of officers, and having Police Complaints Authorities at state and district levels to go into complaints against police officers, he said.

The Home Ministry has also filed an application for modifications in the judgement on certain aspects like direction stipulating a minimum 2-year tenure for DGP, he said hoping the apex court will strike a balance.

"As far as states are concerned, I doubt if their is a consensus in this House or the other House for implementation of police reforms," he said.

"I believe police is answerable to law. The police is not answerable to any man or woman," he said, adding civilian authority in administering law and order and public order cannot be removed.

March 20, 2012

Gym exercises can give you orgasms too!

Many women who visit the gym experience a rather unusual side-effect, according to a study about sexual pleasure.

Women reported experiencing orgasms when lifting weights or during a spinning session, even if sex was the last thing on their minds.

And the most effective workout? An exercise that works the abdominal muscles using a piece of gym equipment called the 'captain's chair.'

You then squeeze your abdominal muscles (which support the trunk of the body) to help you lift your knees to your chest before lowering the feet to the floor again.

The result was revealed in a study from Indiana University. They surveyed hundreds of women aged from 18 to 63 who said they had experienced exercise-induced orgasm or sexual pleasure.

Most women say they feel excited while doing abdominal exercises

Nearly half of the women had experienced the symptoms on more than 10 occasions. Abdominal exercises came at the top of the list, accounting for just over half of exercise-induced orgasms.

Other popular abdominal exercises include the bicycle exercise where you lie on the floor and pedal the feet in the air and crunches (half situps) performed sitting on an exercise ball.

Research leader Debby Herbenick, said: 'The most common exercises associated with exercise-induced orgasm were abdominal exercises, climbing poles or ropes, biking/spinning and weight lifting.'

Interestingly, most women were not fantasizing at the time or thinking about someone they were attracted to. The key, it appears, is when you activate your 'core' muscles.

That's why workouts requiring a stable frame - such as weight lifting and yoga - scored to highly.

Herbenick said: 'These data are interesting because they suggest that orgasm is not necessarily a sexual event, and they may also teach us more about the bodily processes underlying women's experiences of orgasm.'

Although 'coregasms' - exercise-induced orgasms, were first reported in 1953, there has been little scientific research into the subject.

The latest study suggested they are a burden rather than a boon. A fifth of women who experienced them said they had no control over the experience and most of them felt self-conscious as a result.

Herbenick said that the mechanisms behind exercise-induced orgasm and exercise-induced sexual pleasure remain unclear and, in future research, they hope to learn more about triggers for both.

She also said that the study findings may help women who experience the symptoms feel more normal about their experiences or put them into context.

Herbenick cautioned that it is not yet known whether such exercises can improve women's sexual experiences.

'It may be that exercise - which is already known to have significant benefits to health and well-being - has the potential to enhance women's sexual lives as well.'

The study, published in the journal Sexual and Relationship Therapy, did not determine how common it is for women to experience exercise-induced orgasm or exercise-induced sexual pleasure.

However, the authors noted that it took only five weeks to recruit the 370 women who experienced the phenomenon, suggesting it is not rare.

5 best fruits for you that fight diseases: Apple, Avocado, Banana, Blackberry & Blueberry

We often ask which is the best fruit to eat. The answer is difficult, because there are many fruits that are best to eat. We give you 5 most nutritious fruits that are fibre-filled and they fight diseases effectively. And the best part? They are readily available in the stores near your home!

Few things compare to the sweetness of fresh-picked strawberries or the luscious first bite of watermelon that leaves juice dripping down your chin.

Fruits are not only delicious but healthful too. Rich in vitamins A and C, plus folate and other essential nutrients, they may help prevent heart disease and stroke, control blood pressure and cholesterol, prevent some types of cancer and guard against vision loss.

If it's the vitamins that promote good health, you may wonder if you can just pop supplements. Nope. Sun-drenched peaches and vine-ripened grapes contain more than just vitamins; they're a complex combination of fibre, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals – as well as the vitamins – that work in combination to provide protective benefits. You can't get all that from a pill.

All fruits offer health benefits, but the following 5 stand out as nutrient-dense powerhouses with the most disease-fighting potential. (Note: Only the best sources of each vitamin, mineral and antioxidant are listed in the "nutritional value" section.)

• Nutritional value (1 medium): 75 calories, 3 g fibre
• Disease-fighting factor: Apples contain antioxidants called flavonoids, which may help lower the chance of developing diabetes and asthma. Apples are also a natural mouth freshener and clean your teeth with each crunchy bite.
• An apple's flavour and aroma comes from fragrance cells in apple skin, so for maximum flavour, don't peel your apple. Plus, the vitamins lie just beneath the skin.

• Nutritional value ( ½ avocado): 114 calories, 4.5 g fibre, source of vitamin E and folate
• Disease-fighting factor: Avocados contain healthy monounsaturated fats that can help lower cholesterol levels when eaten instead of harmful saturated fats. For a heart-healthy boost, replace butter with avocado on your favourite sandwich.
• Babies love avocados. Their soft, creamy texture makes them easy to eat, and their high fat content helps with normal infant growth and development.

• Nutritional value (1 medium): 105 calories, 3 g fibre, source of vitamin B6, potassium and folate
• Disease-fighting factor: With 422 milligrams of potassium per banana, these sweet delights have more potassium than most fruit and may help lower blood pressure levels.
• People with rubber latex allergies may also be allergic to bananas since the two come from similar trees and share a common protein.

• Nutritional value (1/2 cup/125 mL): 31 calories, 4 g fibre, rich in antioxidants
• Disease-fighting factor: Blackberries get their deep purple colour from the powerful antioxidant anthocyanin, which may help reduce the risk of stroke and cancer. Studies show that blackberry extract may help stop the growth of lung cancer cells.
• The ancient Greeks called blackberries "gout-berries" and used them to treat gout-related symptoms.

• Nutritional value (1/2 cup/125 mL): 41 calories, 1.5 g fibre, rich in antioxidants
• Disease-fighting factor: Blueberries rank No. 1 in antioxidant activity when compared to 60 other fresh fruits and vegetables. Blueberries may help lower the risk of developing age-related diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
• Blueberries freeze very well. Here's how: Rinse, then let berries dry in a single layer on towels. Freeze in a single layer on rimmed baking sheets. Seal in freezer-safe containers for up to one year. Use them straight from the freezer in your morning cereal, blend them into a smoothie or mix into pancake or muffin batter. (You can also buy frozen blueberries year-round.)

So, now you you know which is the best fruit to have. We hope you make use of this information! Have a fruitful day!


March 18, 2012

Review of Union Budget 2012-2013: Good and bad points

India's Budget 2011: What was promised, what was delivered
Let's look at how the UPA fared post last year's budget, where it made an array of promises to the public

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee made some lofty promises during his budget speech on February 28, 2011. For the most part, the government has been unable to keep its word, in part owing to the inability to pass reform in Parliament, but also exacerbated by an economic slowdown and high oil and food prices. Here is a list of projections made in in the 2011 budget and how they have measured up over the year.

Gross Domestic Product 
The finance minister expected the economy to grow by 9 per cent, plus or minus 0.25 per cent in the fiscal year 2011-12.

This estimate were revised down to 8.2 per cent in last July, and further reduced to 7.1 per cent by the prime minister’s Economic Advisory Council. The report by the council states the downward revisions are due to both the euro zone crisis and the uncertain domestic political environment, which have slowed the recovery in infrastructure investment. Additionally, industrial and investment activity declined in the second quarter of last year, further affecting growth.

The 2011 budget forecast inflation for the fiscal year at 5 per cent.

Inflation has stayed at around 10 per cent for the 22 months preceding October 2011. The inflation rate dropped to 9.1 per cent last November and fell further, to 7.5 per cent in December and 6.5 per cent in January before rising marginally to 6.95 per cent in February, according to a report by the prime minister’s advisory council. The sustained inflationary pressure came mainly from high prices of cereals, vegetables, pulses and dairy products.

The finance minister projected the fiscal deficit at 4.6 per cent.

Analysts have revised this estimate to between 5.8 per cent and 6.1 per cent. An HSBC report on India’s macroeconomic indicators pegs the deficit rate at 5.8 per cent and says that the target of 4.8 per cent for the fiscal year 2010 was achieved largely due to the one-off revenue collections from 3G license sales. According to bank Nomura, the central government’s budget deficit will widen to 6.1 per cent due to slower revenue growth and a higher subsidy bill.

The central government projected its total subsidy bill at Rs 1.44 trillion ($28 billion) for 2011-12.

Fertilisers make up about a third of the total of the government’s subsidy bill at Rs 500 billion ($1o billion) but judging by previous years’ records, where subsidy bills have been revised upwards, this year will be no different. According to the Fertiliser Association of India, the bill for the current fiscal is set to cross Rs 700 billion ($10.4 billion). The increased subsidy bill owes to a spike in international prices of inputs and fertiliser prices.

The central government budgeted Rs 605 billion ($12.1 billion) to fund food subsidies. As of last December, the government had released Rs 451 billion or about 75 per cent of its budget allocation for the year toward food subsidies. This check is likely to increase by 50 per cent over the next year if the Food Security Bill, which aims to provide legal entitlement to subsidised grain to 75 per cent of rural and 50 per cent of urban households, according to a report by The Financial Express.

Petroleum subsidies were estimated at Rs 236 billion ($4.2 billion) for 2011-12. Nomura analysts predict that this bill will nearly triple and be billed at Rs 600 billion ($12 billion) owing to the volatility in oil prices worldwide. India imports about 70 per cent of its total consumption of oil; Iran and Saudi Arabia are two of its largest suppliers.

The central government allocated Rs 520 billion ($10.4 billion) to the education sector for 2011-12.

The accountability initiative by the Centre for Policy Research finds that more than a year after the Right to Education Act was passed, although the government’s allocations to education have increased, these have not improved learning outcomes. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the government’s flagship elementary education program, accounts for 65 per cent of the centre’s education budget. Of this, teachers received the largest portion of funding (44 per cent covers salaries, teaching inputs and training) while children received only 10 per cent, which covers uniforms, text books and bringing the unschooled into formal schooling. Overall, states are not spending their allocated budgets, with the average expenditure hovering at around 77 per cent of budgeted allocations.

The central government targeted revenue of Rs 400 billion (approximately $8 billion) from reducing its stake in public sector companies.

The government has only been able to achieve a fraction of its disinvestment target, earning Rs 130 billion ($2.6 billion) from broadband wireless auctions. The government decided against selling its shares of cash rich enterprises as this would have “reduced investible resources and failed to convince market participants,” who do not give much weight to proceeds from one-off asset sales, reports the prime minister’s advisory council.

Kiran Bedi: I could have become Delhi police chief had I compromised

India's first woman IPS officer Kiran Bedi has said that she could have become the first woman police chief of the national capital had she made some compromises.

"I could have compromised to become the Delhi CP but I did not. Had I done so, my self-esteem would have gone down," Bedi said at a day-long symposium titled 'Women Changing India' organised by USA's Barnard College on Friday.

During the panel discussion on 'Conversations on Social Activism,' the cop-turned-activist said that some bureaucrats and politicians "conspired" to see that Delhi did not get a woman police chief.

Other than Bedi, the session had Mirai Chatterjee, director of social security at Self Employed Women's Association; Shaheen Mistri, founder of Teach for India, and Gita Sen, professor at IIM, Bangalore, as speakers.

"Women are critical stakeholders in India. They are leaders in their communities, in economic development, in activist movements, in corporate board rooms -- their influence is really at the heart of everything happening here," Debora Spar, president of Barnard College, said.

Another panel discussion titled 'Voices of the Region' saw speakers including Nandita Das, Farah Khan, journalist Mallika Kapur and architect and conservationist Brinda Somaya highlighting major contributors to arts and media in India.

Rajiv Gandhi Equity Saving Scheme: The Factsheet

With equity-linked saving scheme (ELSS) or tax-saving mutual fund (MF) schemes on their way out effective April 2013 if the proposed direct taxes code (DTC) kicks in then, Budget 2012 has provided some sort of an alternative. However, unlike ELSS that is a mutual fund, the new option will solicit direct investments in equities.

The scheme

Called the Rajiv Gandhi Equity Saving Scheme (RGESS), those investors whose annual income is less than Rs. 10 lakh can invest in it. You will be able to invest in this scheme up to Rs. 50,000 and get a deduction of 50% of the investment. So if you invest Rs. 50,000 (maximum amount you can invest), you can claim a tax deduction of Rs. 25,000 (50% of Rs. 50,000).

This will translate to a maximum benefit of Rs. 5,000 (investors whose annual income is a maximum of Rs. 10 lakh falls under the 20% income-tax bracket). Those whose annual income is Rs. 10 lakh or more will not be able to invest in RGESS. Just like ELSS, your money will be locked in for three years.

Benefits from RGESS are limited though, if compared with ELSS. ELSS is available for all investors and offers deduction up to Rs. 1 lakh under section 80C. Also, your entire amount invested, subject to a maximum of Rs. 1 lakh, gives you tax deduction benefits.

For FY13 though, both ELSS and RGESS will be at your disposal, provided the capital market regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), releases guidelines and allows these schemes to launch. “Since the DTC has been postponed by a year, this year will be a sort of bonus for retail investors; both RGESS and ELSS will be available,” says Rajiv Deep Bajaj, vice-chairman and managing director, Bajaj Capital Ltd, one of India’s largest retail distributors of MFs and financial products.

MFs or direct equities?

Budget 2012 is silent on how this scheme would operate. In his Budget speech, the finance minister said this scheme would be available for investments made “directly in equities”, but went to add that “the scheme will have a lock-in period of three years”. In simple words, it is unclear that RGESS is available only if you buy equity shares directly or whether MFs will also be launch such “schemes”. “The effort to increase retail participation in equity markets is a long-term positive. However, we believe that this should be extended to equity funds as well. Small investors are better off accessing the equity markets through funds with a good track record rather than directly, which requires expertise and resources,” says Harshendu Bindal, president, Franklin Templeton Asset Management (India) Ltd.

Apart from just mentioning or introducing this scheme, Budget 2012 doesn’t elaborate much on RGESS. If you take the finance minister’s words literally, MFs will not be allowed to launch RGESS. The Budget speech uses the words “direct equities”, which means that you will need to buy equity shares directly to be able to get this tax deduction benefit.

However a person from the finance ministry with direct knowledge of the matter hints that RGESS would avoid the mutual fund route. “ELSS is meant for indirect participation in the stock market, with no involvement of the asset holder. RGESS aims at encouraging direct participation in the stock market”, said the person. The source added that RGESS would help “in development of equity culture”.

Defining ‘first-time’ investors

Although Budget 2012 remains silent on how it aims to identify “first-time investor”—the group of investors that RGESS will target, once launched—the person quoted earlier tells us that those who do no yet have a depository (demat) account would be the target investors for RGESS. “It is roughly estimated that there are around 15 million Permanent Account Number (PAN) holders with income between Rs. 2 lakh and Rs. 10 lakh, that do not have a demat account at present. These income tax payers would be the universe from which beneficiaries of the scheme would be drawn”, says the finance ministry person. “Once they define ‘new retail investor’, one needs to also prove that the investor is a new retail investor,” says Hiresh Wadhwani, partner and national director (finance services), Ernst and Young.

What to do?

Wait for further clarification. Since RGESS is an investment scheme that warrants stock market investments, Sebi will regulate it and issue guidelines. Also, clarity is needed on how the government will ensure that your equity investments are locked-in for three years and whether premature redemptions will be allowed under special circumstances or not.

ELSS schemes don’t allow premature redemptions. For now, continue investing in ELSS if you’re seeking tax deduction limits since ELSS will continue for one more year.

What is Rajiv Gandhi Equity Savings Scheme

In Union Budget 2012-13, the Finance Minister announced something called Rajiv Gandhi Equity Savings Scheme. Find out from experts what the scheme is all about:

The broking industry has given thumbs up to the Finance Minister's announcement of introducing the new Rajiv Gandhi Equity Savings Scheme in this year's Union Budget. Analysts expect the broking industry to get a boost, both in terms of clients and revenues from the scheme.

“The scheme would allow for income tax deduction of 50 per cent to new retail investors, who invest up to Rs 50,000 directly in equities and whose annual income is below Rs 10 lakh. The scheme will have a lock-in period of 3 years,” said Mr Pranab Mukherjee, Finance Minister, Government of India. This 50 per cent deduction would be on the short-term capital gains tax.

Brokers feel that the implementation of the scheme would help reduce market volatility and ensure more capital flow into the Indian equity markets. Mr K. Sandeep Nayak, CEO, Centrum Broking, said, “There will definitely be a spurt in demat and broking accounts as new investors are drawn to the capital markets. There could be a five per cent chance that investors can be misled into putting money into wrong stocks.”

“An individual investing Rs 50,000 prudently in the equity markets will get the benefit of Rs 25,000 deduction. At the lowest income tax slab of 10 per cent this translates into tax savings of Rs 2,500. So, he has actual investment is Rs 47,500. Besides, possible appreciation at the end of the three-year lock-in period, another benefit for the investor is that he need not pay long-term capital gains tax,” said Mr Shravan Sharma, Chartered Accountant.

Through this scheme, brokers feel that it is a good phase for them as an increase in investors would also translate into an increase in revenues. They also feel that the Government is trying to build an investment cult. “With the expected increase in investors, we hope to increase revenues as well. As January to March is the season when people put maximum money into insurance schemes and policies (to evade tax), we hope that the next season will also bring brokers maximum money,” said Mr Satish Menon, Executive Director, Geojit BNP Paribas Financial Services.

March 16, 2012

How to know if a woman likes you? Just notice how she looks at you

The look of love? How a woman's glance can tell a man if she's interested (or whether to walk away)
  • If she looks down and then moves her eyes in a sweeping motion across the floor it almost certainly means that she is attracted to someone
  • But an instant stare into a man's eyes or over his head on meeting is very bad news for a suitor
  • The secrets of a woman's mind are revealed in Ali Campbell's book 'More than Just Sex'
The female mind has always been a complete mystery to most men and their enigmatic thoughts and actions almost impossible to decode - until now.

Finally the closely-held secret of whether a woman fancies someone has been exposed and experts have found it is all in the eyes.

good news!good news!
Great news! Life coach Ali Campbell says that if a woman looks down and sweeps the floor with her eyes, left, or looks to the side and then back it is a sure sign she fancies a man

A new study looked at how and where women glance after a man makes initial eye contact and found this shows him all he needs to know about his chances of romance.

What happens in the 45 seconds after meeting makes it crystal clear if love is in the air or whether the hapless male suitor will get the cold shoulder, experts have said.

About turn: A woman looking sideways was often thought to be a rejection but research has found that in fact she is attracted to you

Life coach Ali Campbell says in his book 'More than Just Sex' that the look men want to see is her looking down and then moving her eyes in a sweeping motion across the floor because it almost certainly means that she is attracted to you.

This glance means that she is checking her internal emotions, in short, she likes you but is working out how much.

'This is the one you are after, it's the holy grail of looks. It is a great indication that the female is interested,' he said.

Bad newsBad news
Forget it: An aggressive stare, left, or looking up or over a man's head is not good news and experts say a man is best to turn his attention elsewhere

'If a guy can pick up on that he has a sure-fire way to work out if she is interested.'

And in a complete reversal the disinterested, shy or bashful look sideways a woman often gives is not the brush-off most men thought it was.

It is in fact the opposite.

If a woman looks away for up to 45 seconds and then stares you straight in the eye it is another sure sign that she is interested because she is thinking hard about whether you are a suitable partner.

'Most guys have the idea that if they make eye contact and she looks away she is not interested. But she will look away, that's inevitable, because that's what happens when we think to ourselves and also consider our feelings,' Mr Campbell told MailOnline.

'I have interviewed literally hundreds of women and too many men concentrate on having the right car, the right watch, the right whatever. But it is rubbish, all the women told me they are just interested in what men are like inside.

'What I am doing for guys is to make sure they know there is someone out there who is interested in you. The important thing is to show who you really are.'

But of course with good news there is bad and this book has also given men the clearest indications yet about whether they have no chance of love with someone they like.

If after the man makes eye contact she instantly looks over his head or stares straight back at him it is almost certainly curtains.

These two 'aggressive' reactions mean the man should back off quickly and turn his attentions elsewhere to avoid further embarrassment.

'You do not want her to stare you out or look over your head. That's a bad sign,' he said.

Mr Campbell's study has also found women give off other signals that men should look out for on a date or when they meet someone for the first time.

Whether she is right or left handed she will use her dominant wrist to point at you if she likes you.

Also if she touches her hair she is attracted to you and if she twirls the ends then she really likes you.

Lauren Goodger is covered in reptile body paint for PETA ad

Lauren Goodger is the latest celebrity to strip off for a good cause.

The Only Way Is Essex star gave fans a sneak peek of her upcoming ad campaign for PETA by posting a snap from the photoshoot yesterday on Twitter.

In the picture, the 25-year-old, wearing only some small, flesh-coloured underwear, is seen covered in body paint designed to resemble snakeskin.

The reptile-inspired artwork ends at her neck, with the reality star's face made up with standard glamorous dark eye make-up and glossy pink lips.

Lauren pouts for the camera as she poses seductively, her arm carefully covering her cleavage and protecting her modesty.

The evening before, Lauren hinted to fans that her provocative shoot will be shown in the US too.

But Lauren's long day on set didn't prevent the TV star and beauty salon owner from heading out on the town afterwards.

Lauren admitted that she was feeling fatigued after the shoot but soldiered on to party with her friends at Aura nightclub in London.

'On way outtt I'm soooo tired why I do this non stop how do I do it work n play oh well young once! work hard x' she tweeted.

Having scrubbed off her reptile second skin, Lauren stepped out showing off her legs in a tight black mini skirt.

She added a leather jacket from Celeb Boutique to the ensemble - perhaps something of an odd choice considering she had spent the day working on a PETA campaign.

Coco Austin shows picture of her butt... luscious butt

Coco Austin gave her fans more than a glimpse of how she whiled away her day between takes on a TV set yesterday.

The 32-year-old reality star and actress claimed to have forgotten her underwear - and posted the evidence on Twitter. Coco let her behind do all the posing as she lounged on a sofa in a pair of low slung jeans, with her back to the camera.

She tweeted the accompanying message: 'I guess its Thongless Thursday ! What a shocker ,I forgot panties this morning.' Coco - who is married to rapper Ice T - added: 'On Law & Order set, can't go home & get them.' Austin was on location filming another guest appearance on the police drama, in which her husband has a regular role.

The TV personality - who insists her curves are all real - recently opened up about how she used to suffer from an eating disorder.

She told Sister 2 Sister magazine: ‘When I was 18, the J. Lo butt was not in. To have a booty was not the thing.

'You were considered fat if you had a booty. I was being cast in stuff where you'll see all these really beanpole-looking white girls with blond hair and big boobs. That's what I wanted to be.’

She continued: ‘I was pulled aside during a photo shoot and a director told me that I needed to lose weight - that I was getting fat.

‘When I heard that I went into full craziness,” she shares. “I went and tried everything from diet pills to cleansing to everything you could possibly do to get rid of your butt. Bulimia - I tried that but I love my food too much.’

Fortunately, Coco survived the eating disorder ordeal, thanks to her Law & Order: Special Victims Unit star partner.

He confessed: ‘I told her, “You got a little waist and a nice, round butt.” I said, “That's what's unique about you. The boobs - anybody can go buy them.”’

March 12, 2012

Link between circumcision and prostate cancer

Circumcision may protect against prostate cancer, a study shows.

A study found that men who had been circumcised before they had sex for the first time were on average 15 per cent less likely to develop the illness than uncircumcised males.

They were 12 per cent less likely to develop less aggressive prostate cancer and 18 per cent less likely to suffer the more aggressive form.

Jonathan Wright, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, said that infections were known to cause cancer, with sexually transmitted infections contributing to prostate cancer.

Because circumcision can protect against infection Dr Wright reasoned it may also prevent cancer.

He and a team studied 3,399 men, around half with the disease and half without, and discovered the statistics backed up the theory.

Those who had been circumcised had had the operation before their first sexual intercourse.

The researchers say that as well as protecting against chronic inflammation circumcision may toughen the inner foreskin and remove the space beneath where pathogens can thrive.

Dr Wright said: 'These data are in line with an infectious/inflammatory pathway which may be involved in the risk of prostate cancer in some men.

'Although observational only, these data suggest a biologically plausible mechanism through which circumcision may decrease the risk of prostate cancer. Future research of this relationship is warranted.'

The results were published Monday in the journal Cancer and add to the longstanding debate over whether boys should keep their foreskin.

The World Health Organization already recommends the controversial procedure based on research showing it lowers heterosexual men's risk of contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Last year, scientists also reported that wives and girlfriends of circumcised men had lower rates of infection with human papillomavirus or HPV, which in rare cases may lead to cervical and other cancers.

Last week, researchers reported that African men who were circumcised were less likely to be infected with a particular herpes virus.

Circumcision rates vary widely between countries. According to a 2007 report from the World Health Organisation three-quarters of men in the U.S were circumcised for non-religious reasons.

However, the rate is 30 per cent in Canada and just six per cent of men have undergone the procedure in the UK.

In September, the Royal Dutch Medical Association discouraged circumcision, calling it a 'painful and harmful ritual.'

How Kristen Stewart looks in Breaking Dawn part 2

Red eyes, pale white skin and razor-sharp cheekbones - Kristen Stewart's Bella looks fang-tastic as a vampire in Breaking Dawn Part 2 teaser

The last film finished after Bella Swan was turned into a vampire by her immortal lover Edward Cullen.

And now Twilight fans have been given their first look at Bella as a vampire, after a teaser trailer for Breaking Dawn - Part 2 hit the internet.

It is believed the trailer was shown at the first instalment in the final story was released on DVD at Target stores in America, with fans quick to post the video online.

In the trailer, Bella is seen awakening a vampire after Edward injecting her heart with his venom in a bid to keep both her and their baby Renesmee alive.

With red eyes, pale skin and red lips, Bella looked worlds away from the teenager she once was, and on a par with her vampire lover.

The video shows Bella analysing a piece of paper torn from a copy of The Merchant Of Venice with the words: 'Gather as many witnesses as you can before the snow sticks to the ground. That's when they'll come for us.'

She tells Edward: 'It's strange. Physically I feel like I could demolish a tank. Mentally I feel just drained.'

After suggesting a bath might make her feel better, Edward tells Bella: 'I've had a bad habit of underestimating you.

'Every obstacle you've faced, I'd think you couldn't overcome it, but you just did. You're the reason I have something to fight for - a family.'

As a vampire, Bella also finds herself with a super power - a higher level of self-control.

In the book, Stephanie Meyer writes that Bella fits in perfectly to the vampire world.

Writing as Bella, the book reads: 'I was amazing now - both to them and to myself. It was like I had been born to be a vampire.

'The idea made me want to laugh, but it also made me want to sing. I had found my true place in the world, the place I fit, the place I shined.'

As well as a huge amount of self control, Bella has the power to project a shield using her mind which then protects the people around her.

Shale gas 'revolution': Reasons to question it

By Sunita Narain

The world does not need another cheap energy option, it needs options that will drive it to secure its future

In the US, the climate change issue has lost so much traction that President Barack Obama, who came with a promise of change, has backed down on any discussion on it. After his election in 2008, Obama announced: “This is the moment when the rise of oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” But since then, little has happened to cut emissions at the scale and pace needed. In the current elections, Obama does not mention the C-word, and climate change is a non-issue. The US has no interest in taking the lead in this matter.

This is what we know. There is a new development afoot that could push the US to “clean energy” — but the zillion-dollar question is if this will be good or bad for the future.

The US, it is said, is close to a shale gas revolution. Reserves of this natural gas – which is extracted from deep rock formations using hydraulic fracturing – are said to be huge. The US Energy Investigation Agency’s 2012 estimate is that recoverable natural gas reserves are some 860 trillion cubic feet — enough to last 40 years at current consumption levels.

The most important development is that this highly intrusive extraction of gas, which involves pumping a concoction of water, chemicals and sand deep into the earth to unlock gas trapped in shale formations, is turning out to be cheap. The price of extraction and sale has dropped low enough for this gas to compete with coal and all other energy sources. It is the game-changer in global energy supply. It is also a possible game-changer in climate change. The combustion of natural gas emits roughly half the carbon dioxide emitted by coal or oil per unit of output. This means the US can substitute its coal power stations with gas and cut its emissions, without doing anything to reduce energy use. It can also replace gas in the transport sector, by either using it as compressed gas or liquefying it. All this means more business, more jobs and less pollution, without the dreaded C-word and the imperative of changing lifestyles or reducing consumption.

The excitement is so high that the country, it seems, has little time to spare on the downside of this energy source. There are clear and present dangers in shale gas extraction. One, the opportunity cost of the huge quantities of water needed to push open the gas trapped in rocks. Two, there is the possibility of deadly contamination of groundwater from the mixture of chemicals used in the process. Not enough is known about the chemical concoctions because companies say the chemical formulae essential to break down shale are proprietary and they will not disclose them. The water and chemicals first pumped down are also pumped back up — water flows back up the hole after the wells have been fractured. Disposal of this wastewater is a challenge, admits the US government. Then there is the danger of earthquakes, caused by both hydraulic fracturing and disposal of wastewater into deep wells. As yet, little is known or understood of these problems.

Local communities in US states are on the warpath against moves to change land use to allow drilling and against contamination of water. Pennsylvania’s Senate has passed legislation allowing drilling, but a New York court has struck down the power to change land-use zoning.

US environmental groups are also divided — between the enormous potential of this gas-transition to combat climate change and the present dangers of its extraction. The Sierra Club – a powerful green group – is a strong proponent of gas. A recent expose in the US media claimed this was due to huge donations – often secret – it received from gas companies to run its anti-coal campaign. But all said, the push for this “clean” gas is inexorable.

The other big question is: what will the gas-rush do to the fight against climate change? The world needs to find inventive technologies for the transition away from fossil fuels. Natural gas is, at best, a transitory option. But the availability of this underground reserve at cheap rates will mean that there will be less incentive for new research and investment in new technologies. Solar energy, even with its decreasing costs, will be uncompetitive relative to gas. The fuel switch at cheap rates will also provide no real price option for industries to invest in efficiencies or new clean technologies. What will this do to the clean energy futures of the world?

The fact is that the world does not need another cheap energy option. It needs options that will drive it to secure its future, not just safeguard its present. The shale gas “revolution” could be what does not work in this respect.

Source: Business Standard

March 11, 2012

NGO embarks on innovative idea to protect Hornbill

Itanagar: To protect the endangered Hornbill (state bird of Arunachal Pradesh) from certain extinction, an organization in East Kameng district has embarked on an innovative idea to conserve the avian species.

Ghora Aabhe Society (GAS) the NGO at Seijosa in the district has prohibited felling of trees, bamboos and jhum cultivation within the radius of 150 metres to 350 metres of the nesting sites of the bird under customary laws with effective immediately.

Violators would be imposed fines up to one lakh, a communique issued by the Society said here today.

Four rare species of the bird including Great Hornbill, Rufus Hornbill, Wreathe Hornbill and Oriental Hornbill are found in Seijosa.

Taking serious note on poaching, hunting, illegal fishing and timber operations in Seijosa area, the society further decided to impose hefty fines on those involved in such illegal activities.

Killing of a Hornbill would invite penalties upto Rs. 50, 000 while a fine of two lakh would be imposed on killing of a Tiger, the communique informed adding, informers of such illegal activities would be rewarded 50 per cent of the collected amount through penalty.

The customary laws were adopted by the GAS, a forum of gaon burahs (village heads) of Seijosa on March 1 last.

So far 10 persons from 9 villages of Seijosa area have got employment in Hornbill Adoption Project, the first of its kind in India.

Currently, GAS along with Nature Conservation Foundation of Mysore, department's officials of Pakke Wildlife Sanctuary (Tiger Reserve) and local people are jointly working on the project.

Courts can't pass general directions to govt: Supreme Court

New Delhi: Courts cannot pass general directions to states and Union Territories, however well-intended they may be, particularly when it involves huge financial expenditure and inconvenience to the government, the Supreme Court has ruled.

The apex court gave the ruling while upholding an appeal by the Kerala government challenging the state high court's fiat for construction of large number of bus bays and acquisition of land all over the state for setting up special roadside parking zones to prevent recurrent accidents.

"Such general directions of wide ramifications ought not to have been given in such proceeding... The facts which are relevant and germane for issuance of such directions were not before the court," said a bench of justices R M Lodha and H L Gokhale, in a judgement.

The Kerala government had appealed in the apex court challenging the high court's September 17, 2008 order, directing it "to provide sufficient parking space for vehicles on road side, if required, by acquiring land, which should also be done within a time frame, even though we do not fix any specific time for this."

The directions were passed while dealing with the compensation claim of the family of one P C Krishnakumar, a motorcycle pillion rider, who died after his bike rammed into a truck allegedly parked on roadside without sufficient indicators at Puthusserichellakkadu, on the Coimbatore-Palakkadu National Highway.

Rajasthan Royals looks to capitalise on brand Rahul Dravid

New Delhi: The curtains may have come down on 'the Wall' but Rahul Dravid could become even more visible on the small screen in the upcoming IPL season as his team Rajasthan Royals looks to cash in on the emotional quotient post his retirement.

Not only his IPL team, endorsement market experts believe that Dravid could still be a natural choice for many brands thanks to his reliability and integrity.

"We are planning to shoot an advertisement with Rahul Dravid along with other team members of Rajasthan Royals. He is a very good cricketer and an association with him will definitely help us upgrade our brand," Supertech Ltd CMD R K Arora told PTI.

Real estate developer Supertech is one of the sponsors of Rajasthan Royals (RR) IPL team captained by Dravid in the fifth season of the Indian Premier League.

According to RR's Chief Executive Officer Raghu Iyer, Dravid signifies reliability and integrity.

"After the news of his retirement, definitely the emotional quotient has gone up and it will definitely have a positive rub off on Rajasthan Royals as fans would like to see him play cricket. It should augur well for Rajasthan Royals team in this IPL season," Iyer said.

RR's sponsors, including TCS, Ultratech, Kingfisher, Puma and Supertech would want to use his image along with other RR team members in their commercials and promotions, he added.

"They (sponsors) were already planning, but his retirement will surely accentuate that," Iyer added.

In the past Dravid has endorsed a host of brands, including Bank of Baroda, Britannia, Hutch, Reebok, Sansui, Citizen, Pepsi, Karnataka Tourism, Castrol, Max New York Life, Kissan and Gillette.

However, in the last few years he was not seen much active in the endorsement market.

"Cricket is largely about youth and Dravid has not been visible in the brand endorsement market for quite some time now. Till about 7-8 years back, he was the biggest endorser after Sachin Tendulkar," Collage Sports Management Director Latika Khaneja said.

He may be able to make a comeback like Srikkanth, Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar, she said.

"He will be a natural choice for brands which are looking for someone who symbolises strength and trust," Khaneja added.

Ending a glittering 16-year career, Dravid on Friday announced his retirement from international cricket with 13,288 Test runs, the second most aggregate in the game's history.

Dravid's brand endorsements are managed by Twenty First Century Media.