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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Three Day Annual Vasanthotsavam in Sri Kalyana Venkesteswara Swamy Temple Concludes




On the concluding day of the three-day Vasanthotsavam, Temple Priests performing a simultaneous Snapana Thirumanjanam to the processional deities of Lord Malayappaswamy along with His consorts Sri Devi and Bhudevi, Sri Rama, Sri Lakshmana, Seetha and Sri Krishna and Rukmini at the premises of Sri Kalyana Venkateswara Swamy Temple in Srinivasa Mangapuram near Tirupati on saturday.

Annual Abhideyaka Abhishekam (Jyestabhishekam)


The Annual Abhideyaka Abhishekam (Jyestabhishekam) will be conducted in Sri Vari Temple for three days from June 6 to June 8, 2009.

In view of this utsavam in Sri Vari Temple, Arjitha Sevas such as Kalyanotsavam, Unjal Seva in Ayna Mahal, Brahmotsavam, and Vasanthotsavam are cancelled on June 8. However, except Vasanthotsavam, all other arjitha sevas will be performed as usual on June 6 and June 7. The devotees who intended to participate in Abhideyaka Abhishekam have to pay Rs. 2000/- and for each ticket only five persons will be permitted.

Special programmes such as Visesha Vajra Kavacha samarpana and Vajrangi Utsavam on First day, Muttangi Samarpana and Muttangi Utsavam on second day and Abhideyaka Kavacha samarpana and utsavam on the concluding day will be performed to the utsava deities. Special nadaswaram will be arranged at Sri Vari Temple by Sri M.K.S.Siva and Sri M.K.S.Natarajan by special Nadaswaram Vidwans of Chennai during the programme.

ISSUED BY THE PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER, TTDs, TIRUPATI

Mexico, US, Canada announce swine flu deaths

CHICAGO - Authorities in Mexico announced three more swine flu deaths and the United States and Canada one more death each as the world's largest vaccine maker signed a deal with the United States to produce a swine flu vaccine.

The World Health Organization says at least 46 countries have confirmed more than 12,950 swine flu cases. The Mexican death toll now stands at 83, and Canada's is two. The U.S. death is the 12th in the country.

The tiny nation of Bahrain reported Tuesday that a 20-year-old student had come down with mild swine flu _ the first case in a citizen of a Gulf Arab country. Kuwait, another Gulf nation, reported Sunday that 18 U.S. soldiers who passed through were infected with swine flu but had recovered and left the country.

Puerto Rico and the Czech Republic both reported their cases on Monday.

Sanofi Pasteur said Monday it has won a $190 million order from the United States government to make a swine flu vaccine. Sanofi Pasteur, which operates flu vaccine production plants at Swiftwater, Pa., and in Val de Reuil, in France, said it could begin commercial production in June.

Mexico unveiled a $90 million campaign aimed at luring back tourists to the country where the illness has hit hardest. Tourism is Mexico's third-largest source of legal foreign income, but worries over swine flu have sent hotel occupancy rates to a record low.

In the U.S., federal health authorities have confirmed 6,700 swine flu cases, most of them mild. But New York health officials reported another death during the weekend. And Dr. Damon Arnold, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said a resident of the Chicago area had died.

Canadian officials said Monday that a Toronto man who had swine flu but also suffered a chronic medical condition died Saturday.

Swine Flu Myths and Facts

Facts about swine flu and the current swine flu A (H1N1) oubreak include:

  • The last swine flu outbreak occurred in February 1976 in Fort Dix, New Jersey, causing 4 soldiers to get sick and 1 death.
  • A swine flu vaccine was given to people from October 1976 to December 1976 in response to the swine flu cases at Fort Dix. A swine flu pandemic never occurred though, and the swine flu vaccine was thought to cause many side effects, including Guillain-Barre syndrome. The vaccination program ended early because those side effects were thought to be worse than the risk of getting swine flu.
  • People can be contagious with swine flu for about one day before to seven days after their swine flu symptoms began.
  • Children may be contagious for more than seven days after their symptoms began.
  • The median age of infection in the United States with the swine flu A (H1N1) virus is 15 years and only about 10% of confirmed cases had a travel history to Mexico.

Swine Flu Myths

Myths about swine flu include:

  • Everyone is going to need three flu vaccines next fall/winter - one for seasonal flu and two for swine flu. (Myth - No one knows if a swine flu vaccine is going to be needed yet.)
  • Swine flu A (H1N1) with combine with bird flu (H5N1) and become a strain of influenza that both spreads easily and is very deadly. (Myth - While anything is possible and all influenza viruses have the ability to change, there is no evidence that this will happen.)
  • You can catch swine flu from eating pork. (Myth - The CDC states that it is safe to eat properly handled and cooked pork and pork products.)
  • The 1918 Influenza Pandemic was caused by a swine flu virus. (Myth - Research has actually found that it was caused by a virus related to several strains of flu including H1N1 among others.)
  • You can avoid the swine flu by wearing a facemask. (Probably a Myth - Little is actually known about whether a disposable facemask or respirator can prevent you from getting the swine flu.)
  • You should stay home until the swine flu outbreak is over. (Myth - While it is a good idea to stay home if you are sick and to follow your local public health advice about school closures and avoiding crowds. Simply staying home is otherwise not recommended by the CDC.)
  • A swine flu pandemic is inevitable and means that a lot of people will die, just like the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. (Myth - No one knows what is going to happen, but if this does become a pandemic with a lot of cases, the availability of antiviral flu medications, including Tamiflu (oseltamivir) and Relenza (zanamivir), 21st century health care, and the availability of a swine flu vaccine before next winter, should mean that we are ready for it.)
  • You should call your doctor to get some Tamiflu now just in case you need it later. (Myth - Stockpiling Tamiflu is a bad idea, since it may keep it out of the hands of people who need it now.)

Deaths linked to swine flu top 100 worldwide

A woman of the medical staff gestures wearing a mask at the Matei Bals hospital in Bucharest, Romania, Wednesday, May 27 2009, following the admission to the facility of the first Romanian infected with the swine flu H1N1 flu virus. A 30-year-old woman who arrived in Romania from New York who was confirmed to be infected with the swine flu virus was latter released from the hospital according to local media channels.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
NEW YORK - The world's swine flu death toll reached 100 as two more New Yorkers died while infected with a virus that has sickened more than 12,000 people.
The deaths of 83 people in Mexico, 14 in the United States, two in Canada and one in Costa Rica have now been linked to swine flu. But WHO's flu chief said the virus hadn't yet reached the level of pandemic and said a global outbreak designation would change little about how governments are already responding.

"We are comfortable that countries are doing the kinds of public health actions that they need to be taking right now," Keiji Fukuda said Tuesday during a press conference.

Governments continued to take steps to try to limit the virus' spread.

In Australia, about 2,000 passengers from a cruise ship that docked in Sydney were advised to quarantine themselves for a week after at least nine cases of swine flu were confirmed on board. The passengers disembarked Monday after nine days cruising the Great Barrier Reef.

Singapore's health ministry said it was searching for passengers on a flight from New York after a 22-year-old woman on the plane came down with the country's first case of swine flu.

In Chile, health authorities were keeping a 38-year-old woman in isolation with severe symptoms. Health authorities in Panama reported three new cases Tuesday, for a total of 79.

According to WHO's current pandemic criteria, the world is now in phase 5, meaning a global outbreak is imminent. To reach phase 6, the highest level, the agency's current definition requires established spread of the disease in a region beyond North America.

Fukuda said other countries would have to report big outbreaks similar to those seen in Mexico and the U.S. before WHO raises its pandemic alert. More than half of the swine flu cases are in the U.S.

Twenty schools reopened Tuesday in New York City, including one whose assistant principal was the first person in New York City to die of swine flu. But five more schools were closed, and the confirmation that two people who died Friday had swine flu brings the number of deaths possibly caused by the virus to four.

"Our hearts go out to their families," Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden said.

The outbreak began more than a month ago when hundreds of students at St. Francis Preparatory School in the Fresh Meadows section of Queens became sick.

The four known victims also had other underlying health conditions, Frieden said.

The two people whose deaths were disclosed Tuesday were a 41-year-old Queens woman and a 34-year-old Brooklyn man. Lab results confirmed that they had swine flu, but the exact cause of their deaths will be determined by autopsies, Frieden said.

Meanwhile, the Queens school whose assistant principal became the first New Yorker to die of swine flu again bustled with activity Tuesday.

The Susan B. Anthony Intermediate School, Intermediate School 238, was among 20 schools or programs that reopened after being shuttered as a precaution amid the city's 330 confirmed cases of swine flu.

"We just want to keep things moving," said principal Joseph Gates as he helped load two buses of students headed for a school trip to Washington, D.C.

Mitchell Wiener, I.S. 238's assistant principal, died May 17. A woman in her 50s died Saturday. The names of the swine flu victims other than Wiener have not been released.

Swine Flu Vaccine Swine Flu Basics

As the swine influenza A (H1N1) virus is a new virus, no swine flu vaccine is available to prevent infections.

And unfortunately, the seasonal flu vaccine that many of us received will not provide any protection against the swine flu virus.

Experts are already working on a swine flu vaccine though.

Swine Flu Vaccine

It is estimated that the swine flu vaccine won't be ready until sometime around September to November 2009. In addition to the time required to actually make a new vaccine, the likely need to make seasonal flu vaccine for next year may delay things a little.

Can the swine flu vaccine be combined with the seasonal flu vaccine? Probably not, as vaccine companies will be done making seasonal flu vaccine by early summer 2009, well before they can likely even get started on the swine flu vaccine.

Once the swine flu is ready, who will get it?

As was planned for other pandemics, swine flu vaccine will likely be given out based on specific categories and priority levels and the severity of the pandemic.

At first, swine flu vaccination would be 'targeted to protect workers with critical skills, experience, or licensure status whose absence would create bottlenecks or collapse of critical functions, and to protect workers who are at especially high occupational risk,' according to the CDC. People with critical functions would be prioritized in the top tiers of vaccinations priority.

What about children?

In general, children are also considered to be in a priority group for getting swine flu vaccine and are also considered to be in the first tiers of vaccination depending on their risk for complications:

  • Infants & toddlers 6 to 35 mo old, pregnant women - Tier 1
  • Household contacts of infants less than 6 mo - Tier 2
  • Children 3 to 18 yrs with high risk conditions - Tier 2
  • Children 3 to 18 yrs without high risk conditions - Tier 2 (Moderate Pandemic)
  • Children 3 to 18 yrs without high risk conditions - Tier 3 (Severe and Less Severe Pandemic)

To get the first three tiers of people vaccinated is estimated to require about 104 million doses of swine flu vaccine.

1976 Swine Flu Vaccine

Although it is true that we don't currently have a swine flu vaccine, there once was a swine flu vaccine that was made to target the swine flu H1N1 strain that was found at Fort Dix, New Jersey. Because of fears that this swine flu strain was similar to the flu strain that caused the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, a vaccination program immunized more than 40 million people in the United States between October 1976 to December 1976.

The immunization program was stopped early because the swine flu pandemic didn't occur, and the swine flu vaccine was thought to cause many side effects, including Guillain-Barre syndrome.

How many cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome were there? About 40, or 1 per million people vaccinated. Even that was considered too high though in light of the fact that there didn't seem to be any cases of swine flu that season.



Source:

PandemicFlu.gov. Draft Guidance on Allocating and Targeting Pandemic Influenza Vaccine. Accessed April 2009.
http://www.pandemicflu.gov/vaccine/prioritization.html

British scientists have begun work on a vaccine against the H1N1 swine flu virus


1. It could take manufacturers up to five months to mass-produce the vaccine
2. Manufacturers are halfway through producing their normal vaccine to combat winter flu. If they are asked to stop - there will be shortages of the normal seasonal vaccine

Their efforts are under way at the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) in Hertfordshire.

The NIBSC is one of a small group of influenza centres around the world which will create a seed vaccine strain which could then be grown in bulk by manufacturers.

Its scientists need a steady hand to drill a hole in a hen's egg.

For that is the first step in the creation of a vaccine against the swine flu virus.

Scientists at NIBSC, which is part of the Health Protection Agency, say eggs are ideal for growing up flu viruses.

"They are like virus production factories," its principal scientist Dr John Wood explained.


"Eggs have been used for decades to make flu vaccines. It's an old technology but it works very well."

I was allowed into one of the containment labs which will be used to make the vaccine but not where the live virus is being used.

This is not because of infection but because I might contaminate the vaccine production process.

It involves scientists painstakingly injecting a small amount of virus into each egg which will then be incubated over the weekend.

By Monday, they should have enough virus to begin the next stage.

Two different techniques are being used.

First, "reverse genetics", where scientists take the H and the N surface proteins from the H1N1 virus and mix them with a laboratory virus known as PR8.

This creates a harmless hybrid virus which can be used for the vaccine.

The second technique involves injecting both the H1N1 and PR8 viruses into eggs and allowing the hybrid strain to be created through a natural re-assortment of their genes.

The vaccine will work by tricking the immune system into thinking it has been infected with the H1N1 swine flu virus so that it creates antibodies against it.

Bulk production

Then, if subsequently exposed to the virus, the immune system will destroy the invader before it can cause illness.

The first seed strain of H1N1 swine flu vaccine should be ready in three to four weeks. It will then take another four or five months for vaccine manufacturers to produce the vaccine in bulk.

On Wednesday, when the WHO raised the threat level to five - one short of a pandemic, its director general stopped short of asking vaccine manufacturers to switch to an H1N1 strain.

Dr Margaret Chan said this was because it was not yet clear how severe the virus would be.

"It will be an extremely difficult decision for the World Health Organisation and governments to make," said Dr Wood.

"Manufacturers are halfway through producing their normal vaccine to combat winter flu.

"If they are asked to stop doing that it means there will be shortages of the normal seasonal vaccine and vulnerable people could be susceptible if there was an epidemic of ordinary flu this winter".

The WHO has a matter of weeks in which to make that decision if it does not want to lose valuable time.

No-one should expect a swine flu vaccine to be available before the Autumn. In fact most of us will have to wait a lot longer.

Around 300 million doses of seasonal flu vaccine are produced globally each year.

The vaccine includes three different strains of human flu so each dose takes three eggs to produce.

If manufacturers switched to producing a single pandemic strain vaccine, they might feasibly triple the number of doses to around 900 million.

But it may not be that simple.

We do not know how well the virus will grow in eggs or how much antigen will be needed to create an effective vaccine.

It may require two injections to provide adequate immunity.

Long wait

With a world population of more than six billion, there clearly will not be enough to go round and the disease will hit poorer countries hardest because they cannot afford to buy the vaccines.

The UK government has contracts with two manufacturers to produce 120 million doses of pandemic vaccine - enough for two doses per Briton, if required.

But unless you are a front-line healthcare worker or someone involved in an essential service, do not be surprised if you are not among the first to receive it.

If a pandemic is declared and vaccine production begun then most of us are likely to have to wait until well into next year before we are offered it.

That is why it is so important to try to prevent an epidemic in Britain now. That would buy us valuable time in which to create a vaccine.



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SSC Results | 10th Class Results

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Astronauts Declare Hubble Mission a NASA Victory

The STS-125 crew in Atlantis' flight deck during a ship-to-ship call to the International Space Station's Expedition 19 crew, 20 May 2009

U.S. astronauts are declaring their daring repair of the Hubble Space Telescope a success. The crew says the mission proves the importance of man's continued presence in space.

The astronauts aboard the shuttle Atlantis were all smiling Wednesday as they held their first news conference from space since equipping the Hubble telescope with a new camera and other enhancements this week.

They had a reason for smiling. They successfully made unprecedented repairs to a telescope the size of a school bus while orbiting 560 kilometers above Earth.

Astronaut John Grunsfeld says the complexity of the Hubble mission demonstrated the importance of having humans, not just machines, in space.

"We showed that you can push that technology even further," said John Grunsfeld. "That people can creatively solve problems in real time, as was more than aptly demonstrated by Mike Massimino pulling that handrail off, that was something that I don't think anybody anticipated."

Grunsfeld was referring to a challenge the astronauts faced on the fourth of their five spacewalks, when astronauts Mike Massimino and Michael Good spent hours struggling to remove a stuck bolt from a handrail on the telescope.

Massimino explains:

"I was out there, and just couldn't believe that we weren't able to, I wasn't, able to get that last bolt on the handle off," he said. "When we trained, it was actually the easiest. "

A support team on the ground at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland scrambled to figure out an alternative plan. It eventually advised Massimino to rip the handrail off with brute force.

Despite the challenges, the astronauts say they left the 19-year-old telescope stronger than ever. They expect it to continue working for another five to 10 years.

The Hubble is the first major optical telescope to float high above Earth's distorting atmosphere, rain clouds and light pollution. That unobstructed view has produced spectacular images of far-away galaxies and billowing towers of gas and dust rising from clusters of stars.

Data gathered by the Hubble has enabled astronomers to determine the universe is about 13.7-billion-years-old.

The U.S. space agency considers the Hubble's work the most significant advance in astronomy since the Italian physicist Galileo Galilei turned his telescope toward the stars 400 years ago.

Astronomer Sandra Faber agrees:

"To use a telescope as a time machine, looking back millions of years," said Sandra Faber. "That's a terrific legacy."

The Hubble repair trip is the last scheduled servicing mission of any science instrument in orbit, as NASA plans to retire its shuttle fleet next year.

U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered a review of the spacecraft program that NASA hopes will replace the shuttle.

Astronaut John Grunsfeld says if he gets to talk with Mr. Obama, he will recommend reaching even further in space.

"We have lots of places nearby, near Earth objects - the Moon, Mars," he said. "It's a great solar system, and it's time for humans to start moving out. And that's what we're doing. What we have to do is get down to the business of actually doing it. And I think that's what I would say to President Obama."

The astronauts will share their views with a key U.S. Senate committee considering NASA's budget. They will testify before the committee from space this week.

Researchers Develop Novel HIV Vaccine

HIV is a constantly moving mutating virus

U.S. researchers have developed an experimental vaccine against the virus that causes AIDS using a novel technique that leapfrogs the body's natural immune system. The new vaccine, successfully tested in monkeys, is still years away from human use. But it offers new hope of preventing the spread of a disease that has already killed 20 million people and infected 33 million more around the world.

Dr. Philip Johnson and a team of researchers at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine decided to pursue their novel approach because, Johnson says, all previous efforts to get the body's natural immune system to fight off an HIV infection have failed.

"I think that the time has passed and people have seen that the traditional methodologies, the traditional approaches, have not worked. And there's no evidence that they will work in the short term," Dr. Johnson said.

Instead, Johnson and his colleagues pursued a strategy they've been working on for 10 years that focuses on special antibody-like proteins that can neutralize the HIV virus. Bypassing the immune system, the investigators created the proteins from a variant of HIV called SIV, which infects monkeys. They engineered the DNA of these proteins into a harmless cold virus and injected this modified carrier into the muscles of laboratory monkeys that were not infected with SIV.

Once injected into the muscles, the transferred genes began producing and pumping out anti-SIV proteins - called immunoadhesins - that circulated throughout the monkeys' bloodstream, binding to SIV and preventing the virus from infecting healthy cells.

In order to produce a vaccine for humans, Johnson says researchers would make immunoadhesins from people who have been infected with HIV for decades, in some cases before they developed AIDS.

"And what we can do is go into those individuals, take cells from them and then actually tease out the genes that are responsible (for keeping AIDS at bay). And then we can use those genes to develop new molecules in the lab that we can turn around and give back to people who have never been exposed to HIV. And in the case of the monkey study that we just published on, we were able to protect the monkeys using that approach," Dr. Johnson said.

The study, published in the journal Nature Medicine, involved nine rhesus macaques that were injected with the modified SIV immunoadhesins.

When they were injected with live SIV four weeks later, six of the monkeys were completely protected from infection. And researchers found that more than a year later, all of the monkeys still had high concentrations of the antibodies in their blood.

By contrast, a group of six unimmunized monkeys became infected with SIV, and four of them died during the experiment from AIDS complications. The three immunized monkeys infected with SIV never developed AIDS.

Seth Berkley, president and founder of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, says the SIV vaccine represents an important milestone.

"We're not sure this is ultimately going to be a vaccine. But if we can take this approach and show protection, that gives you a proof of concept and nothing would be more important to the field to have than a proof of concept, and also being able to set the levels of antibody required and understand the protection," Berkley said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Philip Johnson and his colleagues plan to meet soon with U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulators to work out the details of human vaccine trials, which could begin within the next two years.

Obama To Speak Thursday On Guantanamo, US Security


President Barack Obama will speak Thursday about his efforts to close the U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where some terror suspects are held. U.S. lawmakers voted Wednesday to deny Mr. Obama the money to close the prison.

The Obama administration describes the address as a "major national security speech." White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says President Obama will discuss, among other things, the steps are needed to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.

"He will go through some of the decisions that we have to make, regarding how to close down Guantanamo, something that Democrats and Republicans alike agree on."

Pictures emerged in 2004, showing abuses of prisoners at Guantanamo," said Robert Gibbs. "Mr. Obama promised during his 2008 presidential campaign to close the prison. In his first days in office, he signed an order to do so, and appointed a task force to look into details.

But the U.S. Senate voted 90 to six on Wednesday to deny the president the money to close the facility. Many senators are worried that the 240 detainees held there could be transferred to prisons in the United States. Gibbs has acknowledged the lawmakers' concerns, and says Mr. Obama's plans for the prisoners are still taking shape.

"The president has not decided where some of the detainees will be transferred," he said. "Again, those are decisions that the task forces are working on, and that the president will begin to lay out and discuss tomorrow [Thursday]."

Despite the uncertainty about the fate of the detainees, Gibbs says the president is committed, above all, to Americans' safety.

"The president understands that his most important job is to keep the American people safe, and that he is not going to make any decision or any judgment that imperils the safety of the American people," said Gibbs.

Some Republicans say Guantanamo should be kept open, and that abuses there have been ended. They also warn that terrorists who cannot be convicted might be set free in the U.S.

Gibbs says Guantanamo's continued existence is helping terror groups recruit new members.

Also Wednesday, a federal judge ruled that the U.S. can still hold some prisoners at Guantanamo indefinitely without any charges.

Swine Flu Cases Surge Above 10,000

Passengers wear masks as a precaution against the swine flu in the morning rush hour in Sannomiya, Kobe, western Japan, 20 May 2009

The World Health Organization says the number of global H1N1 swine flu cases has surged beyond 10,200 and the death toll has climbed to 80.

WHO reports the vast majority of deaths, 72 of them, are reported in Mexico. But the greatest number of infections, nearly 5,500, are reported in the United States.

On Wednesday, U.S. health officials in the midwestern state of Missouri reported a seventh death in the United States. Authorities say the 44-year-old patient was diagnosed with the swine flu after a trip to Mexico.

Taiwan reported its first swine flu case on Wednesday. Health authorities say the 52-year-old Australian man arrived in Taipei on Monday, after working as a doctor on a cruise ship in the northeastern U.S. state of New York.

The World Health Organization says the virus has spread to 40 countries, not including Taiwan. The confirmed cases span the Americas, Europe, Asia and Oceania.

Geithner Says US Financial System 'Starting to Heal'

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Capitol Hill, 20 May 2009

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the Obama administration is making progress in calming financial markets. Testifying before the Senate Banking committee, Geithner said a program to help banks and other financial institutions get rid of bad investments will start operating in about six weeks.

Treasury Secretary Geithner told members of the Senate banking committee that economic recovery efforts are beginning to take effect.

"Today I am pleased to report that there are encouraging signs that the financial system is starting to heal," said Timothy Geithner. "Concern about systemic risk has diminished, and overall credit conditions have started to improve."

Geithner said government and private investors will work together to purchase bad loans from banks, so-called "toxic assets", so the banks can resume lending and get the economy going again.

The treasury secretary faced some skepticism from some members of the panel as he gave a progress report on his oversight of the $700-billion effort, known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or "TARP." Ranking Republican member, Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, accused the Obama administration of not have having a well-conceived plan for the country's banks.

"The failure to devise a clear, Mr. Secretary, and credible plan for employing TARP, has also resulted in a massive waste, some people believe, of taxpayer dollars," said Senator Shelby.

Senator Shelby said the massive TARP plan approved late last year had actually scared investors instead of calming them. Several other Republican members expressed concern about the level of government intervention in the market economy. Geithner defended his administration's actions.

"Crises don't burn themselves out," he said. "Crises this severe don't burn themselves out. To fix them requires the action of government."

Geithner confirmed media reports that the Obama administration is considering the creation of a regulatory commission that would have broad authority to protect consumers of financial products such as mortgages, credit cards and mutual funds. He said discussions are still ongoing.

Pentagon Confirms Iran Missile Test, Calls It 'Consistent' with Concerns


U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has confirmed that Iran has tested a medium range ballistic missile that can reach Israel, southeastern Europe and U.S. bases in the Middle East. A Pentagon spokesman says the test "is consistent" with U.S. concerns about Iran's effort to develop ballistic missiles and its nuclear program.

Secretary Gates confirmed the Iranian test during an appearance before a House of Representatives committee.

"The information that I have read indicates that it was a successful flight test," he said. "The missile will have a range of approximately 2,000 to 2,500 kilometers. Because of some of the problems they've had with their engines, we think, at least at this stage of the testing, it's probably closer to the lower end of that range. Whether it hit the target that it was intended for, I have not seen any information on that."

Earlier Wednesday, Pentagon Spokesman Bryan Whitman said the Iranian missile test tends to add credence to U.S. concerns about the potential Iranian threat to its neighbors.

"Iran is at a bit of a crossroad," he said. "They have a choice to make. They can either continue on this path of continued destabilization in the region, o
r they can decide that they want to pursue relationships with countries in the region and the United States that are more normalized. They have a choice to make."

President Obama is trying to engage diplomatically with Iranian leaders, in an effort to settle differences over its missile and nuclear programs, and other issues. After the latest test, his spokesman confirmed that the president still believes it makes sense to do that. But the president said this week that if he does not get a positive response by the end of the year, he will reassess his policy.

Iran says its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes, but U.S. officials disagree. Still, experts say while Iran is making progress in its missile program, the technology involved in putting a nuclear warhead on a missile is much more complicated.

Iran says the test missile did hit its target.

This image made from television broadcast 20 May 2009 by the Iranian television station, IRIB, is said by them to show the launch of a Sejil-2 surface-to-surface missile

ran's ability to threaten U.S. allies in Europe is a key motivation for the missile defense system the Bush Administration was working on installing in Poland and the Czech Republic. The Obama Administration has been reviewing whether it wants to proceed with the program. President Obama says he wants to evaluate whether the system is technologically feasible and cost effective, and whether the Iranian threat can be eased through diplomacy.

On Wednesday, Secretary Gates gave this insight into the review. "There is considerable interest, I would say, in the administration in pursuing the third [European] site," he said.

"But I would say there is also great interest, which frankly I've been working on for two years, to see if we can partner with the Russians and make this in effect a quadripartite effort of Poland, the Czech Republic, the Russians and ourselves," he added.

Secretary Gates said an existing Russian radar could supplement the planned American system. But Russia has rebuffed previous U.S. efforts to create a shared missile defense system, and strongly opposes the American plan to install its own system in Europe. Gates says any deployment of the U.S. system has been delayed by the fall of the Czech government before its parliament ratified the relevant treaties.

Earlier Wednesday, Pentagon Spokesman Bryan Whitman said the Iranian missile test tends to add credence to U.S. concerns about the potential Iranian threat to its neighbors.

"Iran is at a bit of a crossroad," he said. "They have a choice to make. They can either continue on this path of continued destabilization in the region, or they can decide that they want to pursue relationships with countries in the region and the United States that are more normalized. They have a choice to make."


President Obama is trying to engage diplomatically with Iranian leaders, in an effort to settle differences over its missile and nuclear programs, and other issues. After the latest test, his spokesman confirmed that the president still believes it makes sense to do that. But the president said this week that if he does not get a positive response by the end of the year, he will reassess his policy.

Iran says its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes, but U.S. officials disagree. Still, experts say while Iran is making progress in its missile program, the technology involved in putting a nuclear warhead on a missile is much more complicated.

Prabhakaran’s final hours

Prabhakaran’s death is established primarily through circumstantial evidence. The remains of an individual with very similar physical structure to Prabhakaran has been discovered and tests are being performed to establish his identity beyond reasonable doubt.

The Army needs no testing to establish the LTTE leader’s death. Certain sections of the media have misreported the circumstances surrounding Prabha’s death. We wish to correct these records with the following account in chronological order with certain sections left-out for obvious reasons.

Only 3 LTTE leaders, other than Prabhakaran and his wife, knew of his whereabouts. Other than his son Charles Anthony, the only other LTTE leaders who knew where he was was Poddu Ammaan, the Intelligence Chief and the head of the LTTE’s Medical Unit, Reagan.

The latter was taken in and detained for days until Military Intelligence got hold of him. Until then Regan had pretended he did not know Prabhakaran’s whereabouts. Thanks to Reagan’s information, MI officers had clearly identified Prabhakaran’s lair by 16th evening/17th dawn.

They uncovered an elaborate plan by Prabhakaran and gang to breach the 53 FDL. The plan was to cross the lagoon to Mullaitivu-Weli Oya Jungles, from there to reach the Eastern Province (Batticaloa/Ampara) via Trincomalee, where ‘Colonel’ Ram’s team was waiting.

Within hours of this warning, on 17th May at dawn, Tigers had started their final operation. A daring sea borne operation was launched. All Army Divisions, forewarned, reacted swiftly but the Tigers managed to breach the FDL of the 53 Division at its weakest and take-out several bunkers killing 15 SLA. They also seized an Army Ambulance.

Moments later, the 53 Division retaliated. A hail of RPG HEAT/Thermobaric rockets were fired. Around 200 LTTE cadres had died in the attack. 30 bodies were reduced to ashes. Limbs of the LTTE’s best were scattered all over the place. The captured ambulance was also hit in the melee and burnt swiftly.

It was upon investigating the ambulance that 3 bodies, one of which resembled Prabhakaran’s body structure was discovered. The body was blackened and beyond facial/physical recognition. But the Army knew it may very well be Prabhakaran. There was no other way for him to escape.

Prabhakaran should have been killed either in the box-in by the Special Forces, the retaliation by the 53 or he should have died injured somewhere along the lagoon. The closest to his remains have been found only inside the charred ambulance.

One of the hardcore cadres captured alive in the attack claimed Prabhakaran was shot and injured in the fight. But he had heard it from an eyewitness, another hardcore cadre who was killed.

The charred bodies, including the one believed to be Prabhakaran were captured by the 53 Division, but were taken away by another Division.

Some 400 bodies were captured by the Army. 1,2, and 5 Special Forces led the clearing operation. The remains may include, in future, missing leaders from the list publicized by the government such as Lawrence, Karikalan, Papa, Ilanthirayan etc.

The remains of top leaders like Poddu, Bhanu and Soosei were identified. Soosei was fighting till 17th evening until the Special Forces rid him of his mysery once and for all. He and Swarnam were the last brave LTTE leaders who held their ground and fought while others were trying to flee the scene.

The fate of the ‘missing’ tiger leaders from the publicized government list will be ‘filled’ in due course!

Prabhakaran no more. Others dead too.

The Sri Lanka Army has recovered, what appears to be the remains of LTTE Leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and the bodies of his key aides. The remains of 250 LTTE leaders and their bodyguards have been recovered.

We can now confirm that the remains are indeed of Prabhakaran and his key leaders. The exact details of their demise will be discussed in time.

As we reported yesterday, the Army’s 1 and 2 Special Forces, incidentally the two Special Forces Regiments who fought to regain Mullaitivu Base over a decade ago and the Commando Regiment are discovering the remains ‘in order of importance’ with assistance provided by the MIC.

US welcomes Sri Lanka end of The quarter-century war


Washington, 19 May, (Asiantribune.com): The quarter-century civil war in Sri Lanka has come to a dramatic end when the army wiped out the entire leadership of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, including the leader who founded the rebel group.

It is an ending all but unimaginable just a few years ago when the rebels ran a virtual Tamil state, controlling much of the north and east under their control.

It took a little time for the international community to respond to the event, partially because of the weekend.

The US Department of State early Monday welcomed the fact that the fighting has ended. “We are relieved that the immense loss of life and killing of innocent civilians appears to be over,” The department spokesperson Ian Kelly said, adding that this is an opportunity for Sri Lanka to turn the page on its past, and build a Sri Lanka rooted in democracy, tolerance and respect for human rights.

Earlier, the European Union called for an independent investigation to determine if human-rights laws were violated.

But Sri Lanka says its military freed more than 70,000 civilians who had been held “hostage” by the LTTE, which was widely praised. US responded that “Its time for the Sri Lanka government to engage the Tamils, Sinhalese and other Sri Lankans to create a political arrangement that promotes and protects the rights of all Sri Lankans.” Hinting that no such crisis occur again - it’s better to engage all the community in the main stream.

The international community is also putting pressure on Sri Lanka to allow access to the strip of northeastern coast where heavy fighting took place for days.

UN spokesman Gordon Weiss said that it is essential for treating any remaining wounded or ill civilians who may have been left behind.

US asked the Sri Lanka government to provide for the needs of the 280,000 civilians now living in relief camps, providing food, water and shelter and basic health care and sanitation. “as expediting their return to their homes…should be a top priority for the government,” the spokesperson concluded.

India to airlift another Rs. 3 crore medical aid to war ravaged Sri Lanka

New Delhi, 19 May (asiantribune.com): India will provide another Rs. 30 million worth medical aid to Sri Lanka, the foreign office announced on Monday even as a local TV channel, CNN-IBN reported that external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee spoke to President Mahinda Rajapaksa for a confirmation on Velupillai Prabhakaran’s end.

An Indian Air Force IL-76 aircraft carrying about 25 tons of medicines will leave Delhi for Colombo on Friday, May 22, the official statement said. This will be disbursed to the sick and wounded Internally Displaced People (IDP) in northern Sri Lanka. The Indian Armed Forces have set up a fully equipped 50-bedded hospital close to an IDP Camp at Pulmodai, a town on Sri Lanka’s northeast coast.

’The 60-member medical team comprising specialists, surgeons and pediatricians have treated over 3,000 people, mainly war wounded, trauma and fractures, in the past two months since the hospital came up. The Sri Lankan government has lauded the humanitarian work done by the team of doctors from the Indian armed forces in mitigating the sufferings of the civilian Tamil population in the war-ravaged island nation’, the statement said.

It added that acting on a request from the Sri Lankan government, the Field Hospital will soon be shifted to Menik Farms in Vavuniya to widen scope of the humanitarian assistance. A need was felt for including a Gynecologist in the team of doctors but experts said that since the Field Hospital lacks specialized medical equipment and support staff, this would not be feasible at the moment. A lady Medical Officer present in the team was capable of handling routine problems related to women patients.

Cong on Prabhakaran

Congress spokesman Janardan Dwivedi said the government would formally react to the reports on Prabhakaran’s death. ‘Sri Lanka is a sensitive issue. Our Foreign Minister is meeting the Prime Minister. The Government of India will contact the Sri Lankan government to ascertain the fact’, he said as agencies flashed the news of end to LTTE chief.

He said the government of India will give a reaction on the issue later and that will also be the official response of the party.

Communist Party of India, CPI, on the other hand, termed the situation in Sri Lanka as “grave”. The party’s national secretary D Raja, who hails from Tamil Nadu, criticized that the Delhi appeared unconcerned about the situation in Northern Lanka. He said India must press Colombo to announce a political package to empower the ethnic minority of the island nation.

Has LTTE leader Prabhakaran embraced death?

Speculation is rife among knowledgeable circles in Colombo that Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) leader Velupillai Prabhakaran is no more among the living.

It is widely believed that the 54 year old tiger supremo who was born on November 26th 1954 has committed suicide along with more than 300 of his deputies and senior cadres in the Mullivaaikkaal area of Karaithuraipatru AGA division in Mullaitheevu district.

[Velupillai Prabhakaran]

Though the Defence ministry website says that the tiger leader trapped with his deputies is planning to commit mass suicide there are reports that the “Thalaivar” (leader) and “poraligal” (fighters) have already committed “Veeramaranam” (heroic death).

Unconfirmed reports say that the injured LTTE leader and several of his senior deputies had embraced death voluntarily in keeping with the LTTE practice of suicide.

There were also conflicting reports that the LTTE had triggered off a huge explosion in which their bodies were destroyed after taking cyanide first.

Another report said the armed forces had identified the “structure” in which Prabhakaran was staying and demolished it through powerful explosives.

It is said that the announcement about Prabhakaran’s “death” is being withheld until tomorrow Sunday May 17th to be revealed publicly by President Mahinda Rajapakse in a special address to the nation.

Apparently the President is cutting short his trip to Jordan to return home and personally announce the “historic” event.

President Rajapakse hinted at the latest development when he addressed the G-11 summit held in Jordan.

The President said:

Many in the world believed that the LTTE is invincible, but, I am proud to announce at this august gathering that my government with the total commitment of our Armed Forces, has in an unprecedented humanitarian operation, finally defeated the LTTE militarily. I will be going back to a country that has been totally freed from the barbaric acts of the LTTE. This freedom comes after 30 long years. My government’s precise and well coordinated humanitarian operation has so far succeeded in rescuing over 210,000 civilians who were being used as human shields by the LTTE. The defeat of the LTTE on the ground heralds a new era in Sri Lanka.

The key phrases “I will be going back to a country totally freed” and “finally defeated the LTTE militarily”, “defeat of the LTTE on the ground” etc are interpreted as indicators that the tiger hierarchy is now eliminated.

There is also a move to celebrate Monday May 18th as a “victory day over terrorism” throughout the Country. Already householders in Colombo and outstation towns are being instructed to fly the national flag.

The President is expected to declare the 18th as a national holiday.

There had been many theories earlier about the whereabouts of Velupillai Prabhakaran.

While some felt he had fled the country others said he had moved to the Wanni jungles.

The LTTE political commissar Balasingham Nadesan however said the leader was “with the people leading and guiding us in battle”.

According to a defence-related source who spoke on condition of anonymity the military had been convinced the LTTE leader was in the Mullivaaikkaal area through intercepts of communication between some tiger cadres.

Further confirmation had come when the wife of Thillaiambalam Sivanesan alias Soosai the sea tiger special commander surrendered to the Navy with some others.

She had allegedly revealed that the LTTE leader was seriously injured and was staying in a well-guarded location with other senior leaders like her husband Soosai and Pottu Amman.

She had also said that a team of 300 bodyguards are positioned around the place where Prabhakaran is staying and that the tiger leader is prepared to take his own life rather than surrender if surrounded.

Soosai’s wife is the sister of Sathiyanathan alias Shankar the first LTTE cadre to be killed.

He died on Nov 27th 1982 and the LTTE has been observing that date as “Maaveerar Thinam” or “great heroes day” annually since 1989.

The military received further confirmation when a team of doctors from the LTTE’s “Thileepan medical unit” surrendered to the Army at Karaiyamullivaaikkaal.

One of the medical personnel who had been attending to Prabhakaran personally had divulged further information including guidelines to the exact spot Prabhakaran was in.

The military had then moved further into the area and encircled the swathe of territory Prabhakaran was in.

The defence official refused to comment when asked whether the LTTE Leader was alive or not.

He also declined to answer whether Prabhakaran and the LTTE had committed mass suicide by blowing themselves up or by consuming cyanide.

When asked whether the military had identified the place where Prabhakaran was staying and had blown it up with powerful explosives the official again refused to respond.

Another authoritative source who also requested anonymity indicated in a round-about way that the LTTE leader was dead.

Using a cricket metaphor the well-informed official observed cryptically;

“Match Over, Series won, captain’s wicket gone, stumps drawn, players heading for pavilion. That’s all I can say for now”.

At least three other officials I spoke to refused to answer any questions on the subject.

One of them said “We cant open our mouths (kata arinda baa) until “lokka” (boss) gets here”.

An informed source in Europe regarded as being close to the LTTE declined to respond when asked about Prabhakaran and the LTTE saying he had no information and did not want to deny or confirm anything.

There were also reports that the LTTE had begun blowing up its arms dumps and arsenals.
Important documents were also being destroyed.

More than 200 tiger cadres had surrendered to the army on May 15th, reports said.

Among those who surrendred was Isaichelvi the widow of former tiger political commissar Suppiah Paramu Thamilselvan.

At least two senior leaders Sornam and Sasi master had died in battle.

Three other senior tigers whose names are being withheld have also turned themselves in to the army.

It was also reported in sections of the media that the LTTE leadership had held a high-level conference where decisions of tremendous importance were made.

Associated at this conference were the right and left hands of Prabhakaran namely Pottu Amman and Soosai.

Defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse told the BBC that the soldiers had successfully rescued thousands of civilians from the LTTE’s clutches.

In a separate development some tiger cadres from the Wanni telephoned their relatives abroad and bade “farewell”.

They said their families will be surrendering to the Army while they themselves would either fight and die or swallow cyanide.

Unconfirmed reports about Prabhakaran’s death and mass suicide of more than 300 tigers has also begun circulating amidst diaspora circles.

President Rajapakse’s return to Colombo is being eagerly awaited.

If the news about Prabhakaran’s death and mass suicide of tigers is confirmed beyond doubt, it would no doubt be the most significant development in contemporary Sri Lanka.

The event will have far-reaching consequences and is likely to herald a new direction in the on-going Tamil struggle to win their lost rights in the Island.

Source:Lanka News Today

Prabakaran & 26 LTTE Leaders bodies recovered



Prabakaran had not worn cyanide capsule; 475 bodies recovered with 26 leaders
Are the two female bodies Prabakaran’s wife and daughter?

Karuna Amman who was PrabhakaranPrabhakaranformerly second in Command of the LTTE and former LTTE spokesman Daya Master have helped the Army to identify the bodies of Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and other top leaders, Defence sources said today (20).

The two were taken under heavy security to Vellamullivaikkal in Mullaitivu around 3.50 pm yesterday by 57 Division commander Maj. Gen. Jagath Dias, 53 Division commander Maj. Gen. Kamal Gunaratne and 58 Division Commander Brig. Shavendra Silva.

The bodies of 30 Tiger leaders, including those of intelligence leader Pottu Amman and Sea Tiger leader Soosai have already been identified.

Today was a day of closure in the LTTE’s violent saga. However, some interesting developments can be expected within the next day or two from the Eastern Province as Ram and Umaram and their teams are traced down

The two leaders move their families to the north soon after their split with Karuna in 2004. Their fate may be revealed in due course as more bodies are recovered from the battlefield.

As reported by the media, LTTE’s former police and ‘political wing’ chief and chief spokesman Nadesan, his family, Pulidevan and his family and Ramesh and his family have all died and their bodies discovered by the Special Forces.

There were rumours that the two leaders had gone down on their knees and begged the Special Forces at which point they assumed the Special Forces to smile and let them go.

Rumours are that Prabhakaran’s entire family was dead. These rumours indicate that even Prabha’s daughter, Duharga was there at the scene. Until otherwise indicated by the government, at this moment in particular, their bodies are nowhere to be found.

Poddu Amman, Soosei and Bhanu and their families have all been killed in the confrontation on the 17th. Other leaders like Lawrence, Karikalan, Ilanthirayan, Papa, Sempian etc are also dead. Their bodies might also be discovered in due course.

The chief of the LTTE’s Mine-laying unit and a chief innovator of the Jhonny Mine and other deadly IEDs has died having lost both his legs in a mysterious blast. The LTTE’s chief of smuggling with India and the deputy of the international procurement units (not Castro) have also died.

Meanwhile the last batch of the 80,500 civilians rescued after the final operation on the 15th were dispatched to Vavuniya today. With this the total number of civilians rescued is a staggering 350,000.

Brigadier Shavendra Silva says that there were only two bodyguards with Prabakaran when he was killed. He had not worn the cyanide capsule and was killed as he was trying to escape meekly, he said.

LTTE’s former armed wing leader and present Minister V. Muralitharan alias Karuna Amman and media spokesman Daya Master identified the LTTE leader’s body. Karuna pointed out that he had always told that Prabakaran was a timid guy and he had not worn a cyanide capsule.

Prabakaran’s personal revolver, his satellite telephone, identity tags and documents were recovered with the body.

Army says that investigations are underway to verify if the two female bodies recovered a short distance away were his wife’s and daughter’s.

Army further says that 475 bodies including those of 26 LTTE leaders have been recovered so far.

Karuna and Daya Master help Army to identify LTTE leaders’ bodies
Karuna Amman & Daya Master

LTTE other leaderesLTTE other leaderes

The other bodies identified so far are:

Military wing leaders - 1. Banu, 2. Lakshman and 3. Jeyam,

Political wing leader 4. Nadesan,

5. LTTE peace secretariat head Pulidevan,

6. Special forces leader Ramesh,

7. LTTE ‘police’ chief Ilango,

8. Prabhakaran’s son Charles Anthony,

9. Sudarman, intelligence leader Thomas,

10 Senior Sea Tiger leader Sri Ram,

11. Women’s wing leader Aravi,

12. Deputy intelligence leader Kapil Amman,

13. women’s leader (training) Ajantha,

Mortar wing leaders 14, Varma and 15. Parda,

16. Prabhakaran’s Secretary Pudiyavan,

17. Special forces leader Jenarathan,

18. Artillery wing leader Ilanparithi,

19. Prabhakaran’s Private Secretary Pudiyam Master,

20. Senior intelligence leader Verti,

21. Intelligence leader Ram Kumar,

22. Senior female intelligence leader Manimekala alias Komali ,

23. Political head in Batticaloa Anna Thurai,

24. Senior Sea Tiger leader Rangan,

25. Senior intelligence leader Vinodan and

26. Internal intelligence leader Madhavan.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Japan''s swine flu cases hit 173

TOKYO, May 19 (KUNA) -- Confirmed swine flu cases in Japan reached 173 on Tuesday after 10 more people have tested positive for the H1N1 virus, while more than 4,000 schools in affected areas shut down or consider closing this week, the health ministry and local authorities said. Most of domestic infections were found among teenagers in Osaka and neighboring Hyogo prefectures, western Japan, who have no record of recent overseas travel.
Meanwhile, Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yoichi Masuzoe told reporters that the government will gradually scale down quarantine inspections aboard airplanes to detect patients, while intensify measures to handle domestic infection cases, which may be starting to spread on a full scale. Tha nation's first confirmed cases of swine flu were found earlier this month through health inspections at Tokyo's Narita International Airport among a group of Japanese students and teachers, who arrived May 8 on a flight from the US after a two-week school trip to Canada.
Japan became the fourth-most infected country in the world as of Tuesday, although still no cases have been reported in greater Tokyo. (end) mk.aj KUNA 190901 May 09NNNN

Japanese Health Ministry confirms 130 swine flu cases


TOKYO, May 18 (RIA Novosti) - Japan's Health Ministry announced on Monday that a total of 130 people in the country have been infected with the A/H1N1 influenza virus, commonly known as swine flu.

Most of the infections were reported at schools in western Japan's prefectures of Hyogo and Osaka. Local authorities in Osaka have ordered schools and kindergartens to be closed until May 24.

"There are difficult cases at the advanced stage of the disease. However, if treatment comes at an early stage there is a complete recovery. I ask people to respond calmly," Prime Minister Taro Aso said.

Mexico, where 2,895 human cases have been confirmed, including 66 deaths, handed over on Monday the strain of the swine flu virus to the World Health Organization for laboratory tests.

The organization said on Sunday the global caseload of human swine flu cases had reached 8,480 in 39 countries.

Sensex creates history, vaults 2111 points

The Bombay Stock Exchange (left) gave a thumbs up to election results with the 30-share benchmark Sensex zooming by 2111 points on Monday for the first time in history within minutes of opening. The authorities halted trading for the day after the index hit the permitted upper circuit. Picture at right shows onlookers watching the movement of the index with all smiles.

MUMBAI: It was a day of surprises for the stock markets on Monday as it gave a thumbs-up to the victory of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in the general elections with a gain of 2110.79 points.

The Dalal Street lost fear for the first time since the global recession hit markets with the fall of U.S.-based investment banker Lehman Brothers in August 2008. United Progressive Alliance’s near majority in parliamentary elections helped the market create history and hit the upper circuit twice in a day.

The Sensex, at the opening bell, surged 1306 points to 13479 and Nifty was 532 points up at 4203 and hit the first circuit for the day and also for the first time in the history of the Indian stock exchanges and the markets were closed for two hours. At 11.55 a.m. when the market opened again, the Sensex gained another 700 points and Nifty 150 points and hit the second circuit of the day and the market was closed for the day.

The BSE 30-share sensitive index (Sensex) gained 2110.79 points or 17.34 per cent and closed at 14284.21 while a broader 50-sahre Nifty of the NSE gained 651.50 points or 17.74 per cent to close the session at 4323.15.

Monday’s gain was an affirmation of investors that an effective and smooth continuation of the current policies of the government in the coming days. “With proactive monetary and fiscal policies combined with stable government, one can only expect that the economy will be back on track much faster than what one could have thought of,” said A. Balasubramaniam, CIO of Birla Sun Life Mutual Fund (BSLMF).

“The market breadth, the number of advancing shares to declining shares, was highly tilted in favour of advancing shares,” said Gaurav Dua, Head of Research, Sharekhan, a stock trading firm. Of the 846 stocks traded on the BSE, 833 advanced, whereas 11 stocks declined. Two stocks ended unchanged.

All sectoral indices on the BSE closed positive gaining in the range of around 7-23 per cent. The rally was led by the realty sector which moved up by 23.45 per cent, followed by capital goods sector which was up by 21.90 per cent.

BSE Bankex was up by 19.18 per cent, Oil & Gas by 19.11 per cent, Power by 18.33 per cent, PSU by 16.42 per cent, Metal by 16.10 per cent and Teck index by 14.02 per cent. Voicing a concern in the midst of jubilation, Mr. Balasubramaniam said that “Though the Indian equity market is going to cherish the positivity, the bond market may not cherish as much as the equity market due to fiscal concerns”.

Among the broader indices, BSE midcap was up by 447.41 points or 11.75 per cent and small cap by 387.14 points or 9.05 per cent.

The BSE said that all settlements were completed smoothly according to schedule. “There are no issues on margin collection and it has been computed as per the regular policy,” it added.

Monday, May 18, 2009

New York principal's death linked to flu virus, hospital says

NEW YORK (CNN) -- An New York middle school assistant principal who was hospitalized with the H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu, died Sunday apparently from flu complications, a hospital spokesman said.

Mitchell Weiner, 55, assistant principal at Intermediate School 238 in Queens, died at 6:17 p.m. Sunday, Flushing Hospital spokesman Andrew Rubin said.

"We believe he had complications of the swine flu," Rubin told CNN Radio, adding that once Weiner was admitted to the hospital, he was listed in critical condition. However, he wouldn't say whether Rubin had any pre-existing medical conditions.

"It is with great sadness tonight that we learn that New York has lost one of its residents to an illness related to H1N1," New York Gov. David Paterson said.

Last week, when city and state officials announced that four students were infected and a school official in Queens was "critically ill" with the virus, Mayor Michael Bloomberg did not name the official. He described the staffer as an assistant principal who "may have had other health problems."

"We're trying to identify that and ascertain whether those problems were exacerbated by the flu or whether it's totally unrelated," Bloomberg said at the time.
Since the H1N1 outbreak surfaced last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Prevention has linked four U.S. deaths to the virus: A Washington state man with heart problems who died from flu complications; an Arizona woman with lung disease; a Mexican toddler who was visiting with her family and a pregnant woman who had been on life support since April. All had preexisting medical problems.

Weiner's school is one of eight schools temporarily closed in New York due to flu concerns.

"We are now seeing a rising tide of flu in many parts of New York City," said New York City Health Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden earlier Sunday.
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"With the virus spreading widely, closing these and other individual schools will make little difference in transmission throughout New York City, but we hope will help slow transmission within the individual school communities."

The flu strain, which originated in Mexico, killed dozens of people there, causing U.S. officials to worry that it could take a similar toll after spreading across the border. But it has thus far acted similar to typical seasonal influenza -- which usually can be treated successfully but can be deadly among the very old, very young and people with preexisting health problems.

Snapshots of Russia by train

Matthew Chance undergoes cosmonaut training at Star City.

(CNN) -- In a special report for CNN's Eye on Russia week, Moscow Correspondent Matthew Chance travels across the vast country from the northern port of Murmansk in the Arctic to the southern city of Sochi on the Black Sea. Here Chance recalls some highlights from his epic journey.

Arctic Ambitions

MURMANSK -- What an incredible, surprising place to begin a journey. At latitudes where most other Arctic states maintain little more than a few isolated scientific outposts, Russia has an entire city of 300,000.

In fact, Murmansk is one of the friendlier, more pleasant cities I have ever visited in this country. The northern air is rich to breathe; the strange Arctic light lends a magical glow to the landscape.

And there's a cafe culture! We sipped cappuccinos in the Arctic Circle and made friends with locals who seemed genuinely pleased to be living in their frigid metropolis.

You might think Murmansk is just a freezing monument to the Soviet Union's grim determination to settle citizens across its sprawling territory at any cost.

But today it's as much a symbol of modern Russia's Arctic ambitions: a strong foothold in a region believed to possess vast natural resources. In the global race for control of the Arctic, Murmansk is giving Russia a crucial head start.

Beast from the East

ST. PETERSBURG -- For a day and a half, we trundled through the tundra on board the Arctic Express to St. Petersburg --- plenty of time to watch the white blankets of snow that covered the land gradually disappear.

But we had come to Russia's city of beauty to meet its beast.

Nikolai Valuev stands an incredible 7 feet tall, is a heavyweight boxing champion of the world and a Russian sporting hero.

He used to be known to U.S. boxing promoters as "The Beast From The East" -- but he didn't care much for the name. Now he prefers "The Russian Giant" which was absolutely fine with me.

In fact, Valuev is disarmingly pleasant and soft-spoken. He told me he had to work hard on being extra nice simply to stop people from being frightened when meeting him.

Now he concentrates on encouraging Russia's youth to take up boxing. The country, he says, is a potential hotbed of future champions.

Valuev has found fame outside the ring too, starring in several Russian movies and writing a book. He also writes poetry.

Star City

MOSCOW -- If you've got $30 million to spend, you might want to consider training to be a space tourist in Russia's Star City. This is the country's biggest cosmonaut training center and the next stop on our journey.

Between 2010 and 2015 --- when NASA's space shuttle ends its missions, and until the new generation of U.S. craft come online -- Russia will be the only country to have manned missions into space, including to the International Space Station.

NASA is now sending all its astronauts here to train in the Soyuz capsule, the vehicle on which they will depend to carry them through their missions.

And the training is vigorous. I know because someone, somehow, convinced me to sample it!

Ever been strapped in a centrifuge and subjected to the same G-force as a cosmonaut taking off in a Soyuz? I have, and I didn't like it.

  • Matthew Chance also traveled to Russia's agricultural heartland and Sochi, the venue for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, in his special report "Eye on Russia: Moving Forward" this weekend on CNN.
  • Obama calls for 'common ground' on abortion at Notre Dame

    SOUTH BEND, Indiana (CNN) -- President Obama delved into the abortion debate in a controversial Notre Dame commencement address Sunday, calling for a search for common ground on one of the most divisive issues in American politics.

    Addressing a sharply divided audience at the storied Catholic university, Obama conceded that no matter how much Americans "may want to fudge it ... at some level the views of the two camps are irreconcilable."

    "Each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction," he said. "But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature."

    The commencement ceremony was boycotted by a number of graduates dismayed by the university's decision both to tap Obama as its commencement speaker and to give him an honorary degree.

    The president is a supporter of abortion rights and federally-funded embryonic stem-cell research -- positions that are anathema to traditional Catholic teachings.

    Some graduates attended the ceremony, but expressed their disapproval by donning mortarboards marked with a cross and the outline of an infant's footprints. Others countered by wearing mortarboards adorned with an Obama campaign symbol.

    Protests by abortion rights opponents before Obama's speech led to 39 arrests, St. Joseph County sheriff's deputy Rachel Zawistowski told CNN. One of those arrested was Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff identified as "Roe" in the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that struck down state laws banning abortion.

    All those arrested were charged with trespassing, and two people taken into custody were also charged with resisting arrest, Redmond said. The charges are misdemeanors, and defendants had to post bail of $250 each before being released, he said.

    Inside, several hecklers who interrupted the start of Obama's speech were loudly booed by the audience.

    Obama asked the crowd if it's possible "for us to join hands in common effort."

    "As citizens of a vibrant and varied democracy, how do we engage in vigorous debate?" he asked. "How does each of us remain firm in our principles, and fight for what we consider right, without demonizing those with just as strongly held convictions on the other side?"

    The president told the audience a story about an e-mail he received during his 2004 Illinois Senate race from a doctor who opposed abortion. The doctor, according to the president, said he voted for Obama during the Democratic primary but felt he might not be able to support him in the general election.

    A self-described Christian who "was strongly pro-life," the doctor had been offended by an entry on Obama's Senate campaign Web site that said Obama would oppose "right-wing ideologues who want to take away a woman's right to choose."

    "The doctor said that he had assumed I was a reasonable person, but that if I truly believed that every pro-life individual was simply an ideologue who wanted to inflict suffering on women, then I was not very reasonable," Obama said.

    He said the doctor urged him not to change his views, but rather to speak about the issue of abortion in "fair-minded words."

    After instructing his campaign staff to change the wording on his Web site, Obama said he prayed "that I might extend the same presumption of good faith to others that the doctor had extended to me."

    "When we do that -- when we open our hearts and our minds to those who may not think like we do or believe what we do -- that's when we discover at least the possibility of common ground."

    The president said that while "maybe we won't agree on abortion ... we can still agree that this is a heart-wrenching decision for any woman to make."

    He urged supporters and opponents of abortion rights to "work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoption more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term."

    He also endorsed the drafting of a "sensible conscience clause" to "honor the conscience" of doctors and other medical workers opposed to abortion.

    Let's "make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded in clear ethics and sound science, as well as respect for the equality of women," he said.

    Obama is the ninth sitting U.S. president to deliver the commencement speech at the University of Notre Dame, but none of his predecessors touched off a similar firestorm.

    "I have no problem with Obama speaking on the campus [but] I do have a problem giving him [this] honor," said Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League.

    Catholic Bishop John D'Arcy of South Bend, Indiana, was among those who skipped the ceremony.

    "President Obama has recently reaffirmed, and has now placed in public policy, his long-stated unwillingness to hold human life as sacred," D'Arcy said in a written statement.

    Notre Dame President John I. Jenkins noted in a statement in March that the university has hosted Democratic and Republican presidents, and said the invitation does not mean the university agrees with all of Obama's positions.

    Obama carried the Catholic vote in last year's presidential election by a margin of nine percentage points, 54 to 45 percent. A Quinnipiac University poll released last Thursday suggests most U.S. Catholics wanted Notre Dame to allow Obama to speak, with 60 percent of Catholic voters in the survey saying Notre Dame should stand by its invitation to the president.

    Observant Catholic voters who attend religious services about once a week said by a 49 to 43 percent margin that Notre Dame should keep Obama on the program. Catholics who attend services less frequently said by a 70 percent to 26 percent margin that Obama should speak, according to the poll.

    "Neither Americans overall, nor Roman Catholic voters in particular, think Notre Dame should rescind its invitation to President Obama," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

    "The strongest opposition to the president's appearance comes from observant Catholics, but more of them than not say he should be allowed to speak."

    The poll, taken April 21-27, surveyed 2,041 registered voters nationwide. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.

    "Catholics are not a monolithic group. If you divide between practicing Catholics and nonpracticing Catholics, you'll find that the practicing Catholics for some reason are opposed to Obama getting an honor. They're not opposed to him speaking at Notre Dame. They're opposed to him being honored," Donohue said.

    H1N1 flu virus alert in Adilabad

    ADILABAD: A influenza A (H1N1) alert has been sounded in Adilabad district on Sunday with the Director, Health, wanting a medical team to be kept ready at district level for screening of passengers who arrive in the district from other countries.

    Collector Ahmad Nadeem was apprised of the development by the DMHO who told The Hindu that no case has been reported in the district. –Staff Reporter

    Obama to visit Ghana in July

    President Obama will travel to Ghana for two days after the G8 Summit in July.

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Obama will rack up plenty of frequent flyer miles this summer with planned trips in Africa, Russia and Italy.
    Obama, along with his wife, Michelle, will visit Accra, Ghana, on July 10 and July 11, the White House said Saturday. It will follow Obama's trip to the G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy, from July 8 to July 10.

    Obama will address various bilateral and regional issues with Ghanaian President John Atta Mills, the White House said in a news statement.

    "The President and Mrs. Obama look forward to strengthening the U.S. relationship with one of our most trusted partners in sub-Saharan Africa, and to highlighting the critical role that sound governance and civil society play in promoting lasting development," according to the statement.

    Obama announced a week ago that he will visit Egypt on June 4 to deliver a speech on America's relationship with the Muslim world.

    Egypt is "a country that in many ways represents the heart of the Arab world," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said at the time.

    Gibbs deflected several questions at his daily briefing about whether Egypt is a wise choice given President Hosni Mubarak's resistance to making his government more democratic.

    Obama originally promised to deliver the speech during his first 100 days, but senior administration officials say the date slipped in part because of security and logistical issues.

    Obama has visited Africa before as a senator. In 2006, he received a hero's welcome in his father's native Kenya.

    Before the G8 summit, the president is scheduled to travel to Moscow from July 6 to July 8 at the invitation of Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev.

    The G8 is made up of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, England and the United States.

    Obama faces Notre Dame speech backlash

    (CNN) -- University of Notre Dame senior Emily Toates, like many in the Catholic faith, is angry over her school's decision to give President Obama an honorary degree at this weekend's commencement.

    She's doing something about it: skipping the event.

    "I do not feel comfortable going and celebrating him as the university hands him an honorary degree -- in a sense honoring his policies," Toates said.

    On Sunday, Obama will become one of many sitting U.S. presidents to deliver the commencement address at the Catholic institution. The honor comes much to the chagrin of anti-abortion groups and Catholics protesting the president's pro-choice, pro-stem cell research views.

    ND Response, an anti-abortion student group that Toates is working with, will boycott the graduation ceremony in protest. Other anti-abortion groups have started petitions against Obama's appearance and have plans to protest his visit to the South Bend, Indiana, campus.

    "It's not a political issue; this is an issue of human dignity, and it's a Catholic issue," Greer Hannan, a Notre Dame graduating senior, said in a statement. "As a Catholic university, we need to stand up for it."

    The group said it has received official permission to hold a "prayerful and constructive demonstration" on the university's south quad on graduation day, according to a statement.

    Notre Dame has said all views are welcome, no matter the speaker's party affiliation. In a statement in March, Notre Dame President John I. Jenkins said that does not mean the university agrees with all of Obama's positions.

    The White House has said the president is honored to be speaking at the university and welcomes the exchange of ideas on hot-button topics. On Friday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that Obama will "obviously make mention of the debate that's been had."

    "This is a commencement ceremony, a special occasion for families to celebrate ... the president will understand that's the most important aspect of the day," Gibbs said.

    Toates, who will instead walk across the stage at her department's ceremony on Saturday, said the appearance has created a division on campus over whether the Democratic president should be allowed to speak and receive an honor. She said that if Obama had been asked to speak in a different context, the uproar would not be there.

    "If he was invited to a town hall meeting, a panel discussion, something where we were discussing these issues ... then I wouldn't have a problem with it. I would go and hear what he has to say," she said. "The problem is, a commencement isn't the context for a dialogue. He's going to be standing up on the stage speaking to us in our seats. There isn't that opportunity for dialogue."

    It's a point with which one top Catholic agrees.

    "I have no problem with Obama speaking on the campus. ... I have no problem with him addressing the law school, being involved in this symposium. ... I do have a problem giving him the honor," said Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League.

    But history and peace studies major Michael Angullo said most students stand behind Notre Dame's invitation even if they don't agree with all of Obama's policies.

    "Don't think less of the University of Notre Dame," Angullo said. "Don't let this mission be corrupted by a president whose thoughts on this issue are different than Catholic thoughts. Be willing to engage in that."

    A poll out Thursday suggested that most U.S. Catholics want Notre Dame to allow Obama to speak.

    Sixty percent of Catholic voters sampled in the Quinnipiac University survey said Notre Dame should not rescind its invitation to the president.

    Observant Catholic voters who attend religious services about once a week say by a 49 percent to 43 percent margin that Notre Dame should keep Obama on the program. Catholics who attend services less frequently say by a 70 percent to 26 percent margin that Obama should speak, according to the poll.

    "Neither Americans overall, nor Roman Catholic voters in particular, think Notre Dame should rescind its invitation to President Obama," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "The strongest opposition to the president's appearance comes from observant Catholics, but more of them than not say he should be allowed to speak."

    The poll, taken April 21-27, surveyed 2,041 registered voters nationwide. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.

    "Catholics are not a monolithic group. If you divide between practicing Catholics and nonpracticing Catholics, you'll find that the practicing Catholics for some reason are opposed to Obama getting an honor. They're not opposed to him speaking at Notre Dame; they're opposed to him being honored," Donohue said.

    New York principal's death linked to flu virus, hospital says

    New York City Health Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden reports a rising tide of flu in the city.

    NEW YORK (CNN) -- An New York middle school assistant principal who was hospitalized with the H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu, died Sunday apparently from flu complications, a hospital spokesman said.

    Mitchell Weiner, 55, assistant principal at Intermediate School 238 in Queens, died at 6:17 p.m. Sunday, Flushing Hospital spokesman Andrew Rubin said.

    "We believe he had complications of the swine flu," Rubin told CNN Radio, adding that once Weiner was admitted to the hospital, he was listed in critical condition. However, he wouldn't say whether Rubin had any pre-existing medical conditions.

    "It is with great sadness tonight that we learn that New York has lost one of its residents to an illness related to H1N1," New York Gov. David Paterson said.

    Last week, when city and state officials announced that four students were infected and a school official in Queens was "critically ill" with the virus, Mayor Michael Bloomberg did not name the official. He described the staffer as an assistant principal who "may have had other health problems."

    "We're trying to identify that and ascertain whether those problems were exacerbated by the flu or whether it's totally unrelated," Bloomberg said at the time.

    Since the H1N1 outbreak surfaced last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Prevention has linked four U.S. deaths to the virus: A Washington state man with heart problems who died from flu complications; an Arizona woman with lung disease; a Mexican toddler who was visiting with her family and a pregnant woman who had been on life support since April. All had preexisting medical problems.

    Weiner's school is one of eight schools temporarily closed in New York due to flu concerns.

    "We are now seeing a rising tide of flu in many parts of New York City," said New York City Health Commissioner Thomas R. Frieden earlier Sunday.
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    "With the virus spreading widely, closing these and other individual schools will make little difference in transmission throughout New York City, but we hope will help slow transmission within the individual school communities."

    The flu strain, which originated in Mexico, killed dozens of people there, causing U.S. officials to worry that it could take a similar toll after spreading across the border. But it has thus far acted similar to typical seasonal influenza -- which usually can be treated successfully but can be deadly among the very old, very young and people with preexisting health problems.

    Tamil Tigers offer to 'silence our guns' in Sri Lanka conflict

    Sri Lanka's defense ministry says this handout photo shows troops with a captured Tamil Tiger craft Thursday.

    (CNN) -- The Tamil Tiger rebels in Sri Lanka said Sunday they have "decided to silence our guns" as government forces closed in on their last stronghold.

    It is not the first time the rebels have called for an end to fighting when backed into a corner by the Sri Lankan military. But should they follow through on their announcement, the decision would potentially end a bloody 25-year civil war in the country.

    "This battle has reached its bitter end," Selvarasa Pathmanathan, a spokesman for the rebels said in an "urgent statement" posted Sunday on Tamilnet.com, a pro-rebel Web site.

    "It is our people who are dying now from bombs, shells, illness and hunger. We cannot permit any more harm to befall them. We remain with one last choice -- to remove the last weak excuse of the enemy for killing our people. We have decided to silence our guns," he said.

    Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa is expected to announce that "military operations" against the Tiger rebels have ended in an address to the nation from Parliament on Tuesday, the government said Sunday.

    The rebels -- formally known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) (LTTE) -- have fought for an independent state for minority Tamils in Sri Lanka since July 1983. As many as 70,000 people have been killed since the civil war began.

    Government forces have trapped the remaining rebels in a small stretch of land in the north of the country -- and possibly thousands of civilians with them, an international aid worker in the country told CNN.

    The civilians are "under intense fire" and "essentially on their own" in the area, which the government says contains only rebels, the aid worker said.

    The Tigers themselves claim 25,000 civilians are dead or dying, a rebel identified as Col. Soosai said in a statement on Tamilnet.com.

    Independent confirmation was not possible since media are not allowed into the area.

    Reports indicated fighting had intensified as troops scrambled to clear a remaining 1.2 square kilometers before the government could announce that military operations had ended.

    The army destroyed six Tamil Tiger boats and killed 70 rebels in a lagoon on the western edge of a no-fire zone early Sunday, Sri Lanka's Media Center for National Security said.

    Sri Lanka's prime minister warned Saturday that his country "stands on the brink," as its soldiers cornered Tamil Tiger fighters in an assault which the United Nations fears is trapping more than 50,000 civilians on a small plot of coastal land.

    Government troops seized the last remaining coastal stretch under the control of Tamil Tiger rebels, the Ministry of Defense said Saturday.

    The seizure marks the total capture of coastline territory previously controlled by the rebels, it said, after army divisions advanced from the north and south to link up.

    An international aid worker said the United Nations was expecting about 20,000 of them to arrive in refugee camps Sunday. There were no medical services in the no-fire zone, the aid worker said. The Media Center for National Security claims 50,097 have come out of battle zones.

    Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa returned from Amman, Jordan, on Sunday. Rajapaksa was attending a summit of developing nations and the World Economic Forum.

    In an address to the summit in Amman on Saturday, Rajapaksa said the Sri Lankan armed forces had defeated the rebels.

    "I will be going back to my country Sri Lanka that has been totally freed from the barbaric acts of terrorism of the LTTE. This freedom comes after 30 long years," Rajapaksa said.