Bandra Worli Sea Link

July 1, 2009

After 10 years of expectations , delays and, of course, hardcore planning and labour, the spectacular Bandra-Worli Sea Link is set to open at midnight on Tuesday. Come Wednesday morning and a new day will dawn for Mumbai’s rush-hour motorists, with the Rs 750-crore link offering a new route between the city and the western suburbs. Till now, the Mahim Causeway was the only route
A fireworks, lights and laser show, coupled with music, was held on Monday night at the main cable-stayed bridge at the Bandra end. It was enjoyed by thousands from the Bandra promenade and Mahim beach, but was not clearly visible to those at Worli sea face and Dadar due to slight drizzles, haze and cloudiness. There was no space left at the sea-faces as thousands gathered to view the show, but those at Worli were disappointed, said Anandini Mulgaonkar and Shubha Sehgal of Worli and Bandra, respectively.

From 12.01 am onwards on Wednesday , officials are expecting joy riders to take the link before office-goers arrive in larger numbers as morning peak hour nears. With no toll from July 1 to July 5, a large amount of traffic is expected. The traffic police will face a daunting task at Worli and Bandra.
Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) engineers said the toll-free move is at the behest of politicians seeking political mileage.
An automatic system will identify vehicles going over the 50 kmph limit. MSRDC engineers said cameras on the link can take swift 360-degree turns and capture images of vehicles within 1.5 km. Two cameras fitted under the cable-stayed portions of the link will keep watch on the movements of boats and ships.
While work on beautifying the promenade at Bandra has begun, plans for the highest fountain in the country are on the backburner, but floating fountains may be ready in about six months.
Hindustan Construction Company chairman and managing director Ajit Gulabchand, addressing the media on the eve of the inauguration, said the bridge would be the next landmark of Mumbai after the Gateway of India. “The project has shown us the extent to which accuracy and perfection can be achieved in massive and challenging technical designs,” he said, adding that the world has seen the might and ability of the planners, engineers and developers of India.
PUBLIC INAUGURATION
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar will throw open the Bandra-Worli Sea Link at a public function to be held on Tuesday at 3.30 pm at the Mhada ground near Rang Sharda. Gandhi is expected to inaugurate the toll booth, drive to the cable-stayed bridge and visit the exhibition centre first.
Traffic curbs at Bandra
All vehicles will be prohibited on the road to the sea link at the Bandra end as well as K C Marg (Reclamation) on Tuesday from 3 to 8 pm. Traffic police will allow only vehicles engaged in essential and emergency services and the vehicles of invitees to the sea link’s opening. People traveling to Chapel Road, Mehboob Circle, Bandstand, Chimbai and Carter Road will have to use S V Road or Hill road. Parking restrictions will be implemented on sea link road, K C Marg, A K Vaidya Marg and adjoining roads. TNN

HEAVY-DUTY BEAUTY
Length of bridge (4.7km): 63 times the Qutub Minar
Weight of bridge (6.7L tonnes): 50,000 African elephants
424 cables for main roadway: can support 900 tons each
Length of steel wire used (37,680km): Nearly the earth’s circumference
Concrete used: 2.3 lakh cubic metres
Height of main towers (126m): 43-storey buidling
Pile caps: Bridge rests on 135 pile caps, the largest being 55 m in length and 55 m in breadth (half a football field)
Peak-hour sweat: 4,000 workers and 150 engineers

A NORTH-SOUTH LINK
Mahim Causeway is currently the only route that connects the western suburbs and island city. The Bandra-Worli Sea Link will be the second major route
An MSRDC survey revealed that motorists from the distant suburbs of Borivli, Dahisar, Kandivli and Malad would be more likely to use the sea link. Motorists from Andheri, Parel, Santa Cruz, Juhu and Bandra would be less likely
During peak hours, around 7,000 to 8,000 cars are expected to use the sea link per hour
Since the first five days are toll-free , a large number of people are expected to use the link initially just for the novelty

dsc-1523MATTER OF MINUTES
Currently, it takes 35 to 38 minutes to go the 7.7-km distance between Mahim flyover and Love Grove Junction, Worli
Transport experts estimate that travelling the link plus its approach and exit roads, which also measure about 7.7 km, will take at least 25 minutes
The builders claim that travelling the 4.7-km main link will take just 6 minutes

PAYING THE TOLL
FREE: From July 1 to July 5
BASIC FEE: Car or SUV | Rs 50 | Mini bus or mini truck | Rs 75 | Bus or truck Rs 100
PASSES: Daily travel: (2-way ) | 1.5 times basic toll
Daily travel: (multiple entries) | 2.5 times basic toll

Monthly pass: (all vehicles) | 50 times basic toll
PAYMENT MODES
Manual payment: 30 seconds
Swipe card (for monthly passes): 20 seconds On-board-unit electronic payment: 10 to 12 seconds
BIG BROTHER
12 cameras will be monitored by MSRDC, traffic police and city police Link will be under the jurisdiction of Bandra and Worli police stations Two policemen on bikes will patrol Shoulders along bridge will allow traffic police to pull over errant drivers

LENGTH TO TAKE AWAY BREATH
4.7 km Bandra-Worli Sea Link (4 lanes) 4 km Bandra-Worli link (4 lanes; to open later as part of link up to Nariman Point)
Breaking up the link
449-metre toll plaza section at Bandra end with promenades 800-metre pre-cast approach at Bandra end 600-metre cable-stayed bridge at Bandra with two 126-metre tall towers 200-metre pre-cast bridge between Bandra-Worli cable-stayed bridges Two 175-metre cable-stayed bridges at Worli with two 56-metre towers 1,400-metre approach at Worli end 811-metre link at Worli end Another 90 metres or so may make up approaches at either end
LINKS TO THE CITY
Flyover at Love Grove junction, Worli Clover-leaf interchange at Mahim Approach road from Mahim interchange to toll plaza
RISING BOTTOMLINE
Main Link cost: Rs 750 crore Total cost: Rs 1,634 crore Initial cost for main link: Rs 434 crore Costs rose because fishermen complained their livelihood was being disturbed. Re-aligned link was built 150 metres farther from the coastline Harder rock was drilled into Extra cable-stayed bridge put at Worli end at a higher level to allow fishing boats to pass Interest payments rose
STRETCHED DEADLINES
Initial deadline: December 2004 (later revised to December 2007 & December 2008) Bridge completed: April 21, 2009 All allied work completed: May 31, 2009 Delays caused by fisherfolk protests and payment disputes

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The life history of Barac obama

June 27, 2009

Barrack obama was born in the year of 4 August 1961, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA .His name was Barrack Hussein Obama Jr,the nick name was Barry Bama Rock .His height is6′ 1½” (1.87 m). Barack Obama was born to a white American mother, Ann Dunham, and a black Kenyan father, Barack Obama, Sr., who were both young college students at the University of Hawaii. When his father left for Harvard, she and Barack stayed behind, and his father ultimately returned alone to Kenya, where he worked as a government economist. Barack’s mother remarried an Indonesian oil manager and moved to Jakarta when Barack was six. He later recounted Indonesia as simultaneously lush and a harrowing exposure to tropical poverty. He returned to Hawaii, where he was brought up largely by his grandparents. The family lived in a small apartment – his grandfather was a furniture salesman and an unsuccessful insurance agent and his grandmother worked in a bank – but Barack managed to get into Punahou School, Hawaii’s top prep academy. His father wrote to him regularly but, though he traveled around the world on official business for Kenya, he visited only once, when Barack was ten.

Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham, grew up in Wichita, Kansas. Her father worked on oil rigs during the Depression. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he signed up for service in World War II and marched across Europe in Patton’s army. Dunham’s mother went to work on a bomber assembly line. After the war, they studied on the G. I. Bill, bought a house through the Federal Housing Program, and moved to Hawaii.Meantime, Barack’s father had won a scholarship that allowed him to leave Kenya pursue his dreams in Hawaii. At the time of his birth, Obama’s parents were students at the East–West Center of the University of Hawaii at Manoa.Obama’s parents separated when he was two years old and later divorced. Obama’s father went to Harvard to pursue Ph. D. studies and then returned to Kenya.

His mother married Lolo Soetoro, another East–West Center student from Indonesia. In 1967, the family moved to Jakarta, where Obama’s half-sister Maya Soetoro–Ng was born. Obama attended schools in Jakarta, where classes were taught in the Indonesian language.Four years later when Barack (commonly known throughout his early years as “Barry”) was ten, he returned to Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents, Madelyn and Stanley Dunham, and later his mother (who died of ovarian cancer in 1995).He was enrolled in the fifth grade at the esteemed Punahou Academy, graduating with honors in 1979. He was only one of three black students at the school. This is where Obama first became conscious of racism and what it meant to be an African–American.

440px-Official_portrait_of_Barack_Obama

In his memoir, Obama described how he struggled to reconcile social perceptions of his multiracial heritage. He saw his biological father (who died in a 1982 car accident) only once (in 1971) after his parents divorced. And he admitted using alcohol, marijuana and cocaine during his teenage years.

Barack Obama has admitted that he struggled through his initial childhood years to find answers about his multicultural, multi racial heritage. As a very small child he found difficult to accept such vast differences between his mother and fathers skin color. In his own words he says that he had a middle class upbringing. During his teenage years, he even used cocaine, marijuana and alcohol to deal with his internal conflicts, something which he regretted later. Now, he thinks it was a big mistake and he was morally wrong. He never touched illegal drugs again after those years.After high school, Barack moved to Los Angeles and studied at the Occidental College for two years; from there to Columbia College in New York. He majored in Political Science with specialization in International relations in 1983. In the meantime his father had died in Kenya in 1982. Barack Obama moved to Chicago after spending four years in New York and working at Business International Corporation and New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). He was hired as Community organizer by Developing Communities Project, a church based community organization. The organization wanted a young black man to help them collaborate with black churches in the south side. From 1985 to 1988, Obama worked there as Director of the organization. He helped blacks fight for their rights from the city government. He worked to improve the living conditions of poor neighborhoods which faced crimes unemployment. Working in a small organization taught him organizational skills. He was always good with words and was known for making speeches which people could emotionally connect to. He worked with Saul Alinsky whose method was agitation which meant getting people angry enough about their current state of things that they are compelled to take some step and do something. During his tenure at Developing Communities Project, the staff at this organization grew from 1 to 13 and so did their budget. Then, he worked as consultant and instructor for Gamaliel Foundation, a community organizing institute. It was 1988 when we first traveled to Europe and then to Kenya for few weeks, where he met his fathers family for the first time.

Barack Obama felt that law was a medium which could facilitate activism and community organization. So in late 1988, he entered Harvard Law School. In his second year at college, in 1990, he was elected as the president of law review. This role required him to be editor- in-chief and supervisor of law review staff of about 80 editors. As he was the first black to be elected for this position, it was a widely reported and much publicized event. It had taken Obama long sessions of discussion with conservatives to support him. While still in law school in 1989, he worked as an associate at Sidley and Austin law firms. He met his future wife Michelle, also a lawyer, here. Newton Minnow was a managing partner here. Minnow, later introduced him to many of the Chicago top leaders. In the summer of 1990, he worked at Hopkins and Sutter and finally graduated from Harvard in 1991; after which he again moved back to Chicago where he practiced as a civil rights lawyer. His could have easily taken up a god job after Harvard but his values and mothers teachings had taught him to do something for the society and the less privileged ones. The publicity that he garnered at Harvard, because of his election as first black president of Harvard law review, led him to an offer by University of Chicago law school to write book on racial relations. He was offered a fellowship from the university and an office from where he could write the book. In the meantime, after dating for few years and being engaged for a year, Barack married Michelle Robinson in 1992. Obama initially thought he would complete the book in one year but it took much longer as it was a memoir and he included bits about his personal life also. He traveled to Bali with his wife and wrote most of the part of the book there. In mid 1995, the manuscript was published. Book was named Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. Few months after this publication his mother Ann, who had moved to Hawaii from Indonesia in 1994, died of ovarian and uterine cancer. He won the Grammy award for the audio version of this book.

barack-hussein-obama

Meanwhile, Barack Obama also taught Constitutional Law at University of Chicago Law School from 1992- 2004; first as a Lecturer from 1992 to 1996 and then as Senior Lecturer from 1996 to 2004. Barack had also joined Davis, Miner, Barnhill and Galland law firm as civil rights attorney. He was an Associate in this law firm from 1993 to 1996 and then counsel from 1996 to 2004. Barack served on the board of Directors Woods Fund of Chicago, Joyce foundation form 1994 to 2002. In 1992, he became the founding member of board of director of Public Allies but resigned in 1993 and his wife joined it. All these years in Chicago, he served on board of directors of Chicago Annenberg Challenge, Chicago lawyers Committee for Civil Right under Law, the Centre for Neighborhood Technology and Lugenia Burns Hope Center.

In 1992 election he had organized largest voter registration drives, Project Vote, in history of Chicago from April to October 1992. He had with him a staff of ten and around seven hundred volunteers. They had the goal of registering around 150,000 African Americans in the state who were unregistered. It was one of the most successful voter registration drives one had ever seen. Baracks work led him to run for Illinois State Senate. Eventually, he was elected in 1996 November, succeeding State Senator Alice Palmer, as Barack Obama was the only candidate left, after rest of the petitions were invalidated. He strongly worked for ethics reforms and criminal justice reform. In 1998, Barack with U.S. senator Paul Simon passed the toughest campaign finance law. It called for banning any personal use of the campaign money and any gifts received from the lobbyists. Before the law was passed, Illinois was among the worst states for campaign finance regulations.

He went on to serve three terms in the Illinois State Senate, from the year 1997 to 2004. Barack lost a primary run for U.S. House of Representatives to Bobby Rush in a very close fight in the year 2000. In the year 2003, he passed legislation to expand healthcare coverage to 70,000 children making Kidcare, state Childrens Health insurance program, permanent. The legislation also extended health insurance to uninsured parents, which added up to additional 84,000 parents. After he found there were 13 innocent death row inmates, Barrack saw to it that death penalty reforms were changed. Also, Illinois became the first state where videotaping an interrogation became mandatory. Even Law enforcement agreed that recording questioning would help the prosecutions chances. As the Chairman of Illinois Senates Health and Human Services Committee, Barack Obama unanimously led a legislation to be passed on racial profiling by the police, which means maintaining records of the race, age and gender of the drivers detained. For low income families, Obama created Illinois Earned Income tax credit which offered tax relief.

Barack Obama came into national limelight with an inspiring speech at July 2004 Democratic National Convention where he spoke against the Bush administrations policies on Iraq war. His speech was the highlight of the convention and people who saw it knew that he was an emerging star. Barrack is a great orator, at par with Martin Luther King Jr. and often compared with John F Kennedy. People wait for hours to hear him speak. During his presidential campaign he drew huge crowd. He has a flair for consensus building and he loves addressing crowds. His wife Michelle Robinson is a Harvard Law School graduate. Michelle and Barack had their first daughter, Malia Ann in 1998 and second daughter Natasha, known as Sasha in 2001. His second book, Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream was out in October 2006 and he won the Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album for audio version of this book too. As a writer, Barack is very talented and is an introspective writer. Barack is a devoted basketball player and a Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bears fan. Though his father was brought up with Islamic faith, he was an atheist by choice, however, Barack follows Christianity.

By middle of 2002, he started thinking about running for U.S. Senate and formally, announced his candidacy in 2003 for U.S. Senate. On 2nd November 2004, he won the election by a great victory margin and was finally, elected to the US Senate, following which he resigned from Illinois State Senate. Barack Obama became the fifth African American senator in the history to do so. Till 2006, Obama held minority appointments like Foreign relations, Environment and Public Works, Veterans Affairs on Senate committees. He took additional major assignments of Committee of Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs at the start of 2007. While in U.S. Senate Foreign relations Committee, Barack visited Iraq to witness the war. In January he even introduced a legislation to end the Iraq war. He went against the conventional thinking of U.S. and had the courage to oppose the war. He also traveled to Russia and Africa. Right through his career he has spoken about his opposition to the Iraq war and to providing universal health care, which he focused on even in the presidential campaign. Obama made efforts to correct the disparity that existed in the state of Illinois where veterans were receiving less disability benefits as compared to other states. As a result more disability claims specialists were hired for the regional office in Chicago and claims of veterans were re-examined. Education was his top priority during his Senate years. He passed a legislation to carry summer education programs which emphasize mathematics and problem solving skills. He worked on to get black colleges eligible for grant money.
Quick summary of Barack Obama’s Life:

1961 – Barack Obama is born in Honolulu, HI.

1968 – Obama and his mother move to Indonesia for 5 years.

1971 – Obama moves back to Honolulu, HI. to live with his grandparents. He starts 5th grade at Punahou School.

1979 – Barack Obama graduates from Punahou School and spends two years at Occidental College.

1981 – Obama transfers to Columbia University.

1983 – Graduates from Columvia University and works at Business Int’l Corporation for a year.

1985 – Moves to Chicago and becomes the director of Developing Communities for 3 years.

1988 – Starts studying at Harvard Law School.

1992 – Obama works as the executive directory of Project Vote and Marries Michelle Robinson

1993 – Begins working as an Attorney at Miner, Barnhill & Galland and is the senior lecturer at the University of Chicago.

1995 – Publishes his first book “Dreams Of My Father”

1996 – Elected into the Illinois State Senate.

1998 – Re-Elected into the Illinois State Senate.

1999 – His first daughter, Malia, is born.

2000 – Challenges Congressman Bobby Rush but was defeated in the Primary.

2001 – His second daughter, Sasha, is born.

2004 – Gives the keynote address at the 2004 DNC convention after defeating Alan Keyes.

2006 – Publishes his second book “The Audacity Of Hope”

2006 – Announces that he will seek the 2008 Democratic party nomination.

2008 – Wins the Iowa caucus.

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The End of Michael Jackson at the age of 50

June 26, 2009

Pop star Michael Jackson has died in Los Angeles, aged 50.Paramedics were called to the singer’s Beverly Hills home at about midday on Thursday after he stopped breathing. He was pronounced dead two hours later at the UCLA medical centre. Jackson’s brother, Jermaine, said he was believed to have suffered a cardiac arrest. Jackson, who had a history of health problems, had been due to stage a series of comeback concerts in the UK, beginning on 13 July.

Speaking on behalf of the Jackson family, Jermaine said doctors had tried to resuscitate the star for more than an hour without success. Jermaine Jackson on his brother’s sudden deathThe family requests that the media please respect our privacy during this tough time. And Allah be with you Michael always. I love you.TV footage showed the star’s body flown from UCLA to the LA County Coroner’s office where a post-mortem is expected to take place on Friday.

michael-jackson(10)

Concerns were raised last month when four of Jackson’s planned comeback concerts were postponed, but organizers insisted the dates had been moved due to the complexity of staging the show. A spokeswoman for The outside Organization, which was organizing the publicity for the shows, said she had no comment at this time.

Broadcaster Paul Gambaccini said: I always doubted that he would have been able to go through that schedule, those concerts. It seemed to be too much of a demand on the unhealthy body of a 50 year old.

I’m wondering that, as we find out details of his death, if perhaps the stress of preparing for those dates was a factor in his collapse.It was wishful thinking that at this stage of his life he could be Michael Jackson again.”Uri Geller, a close friend of the star, told BBC News it was “very, very sad”.

Speaking outside New York’s historic Apollo theatre, civil rights activist Rev Al Sharp ton paid tribute to his friend.

I knew him 35 years. When he had problems he would call me,” he said.

“I feel like he was not treated fairly. I hope history will be more kind to him than some of the contemporary media.” Melanie Bromley, west coast bureau chief of Us Weekly magazine, told the BBC the scene in Los Angeles was one of “pandemonium”.

“At the moment there is a period of disbelief. He was buying a home in the Holm by Hills area of Los Angeles and the scene outside the house is one of fans, reporters and TV cameras – its absolute craziness.

I feel this is the biggest celebrity story in a long time and has the potential to be the Princess Diana of popular culture. Musical icon. Tributes from the world of music and film have already flooded in from celebrities including Madonna, Arnold Schwarzenegger and ex-wife Lisa Marie Presley.

Large numbers of fans have also gathered outside Jackson’s home and at the UCLA medical centre with lit candles to mourn the star while playing his greatest hits. Face book groups have also been set up for fans to share their memories.

Paramedics were called to the singer’s house in Bel Air at 1221 (1921GMT) following an emergency phone call. They performed CPR on Jackson and rushed him to the UCLA medical centre.

michael-jackson

A spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department said the robbery and homicide team was investigating Jackson’s death because of its “high profile”, but there was no suggestion of foul play. Jackson began his career as a child in family group The Jackson 5. He then went on to achieve global fame as a solo artist with smash hits such as Billie Jean and Bad. Thriller, released in 1982, is the biggest-selling album of all time, shifting 65m copies, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

He scored seven UK number ones as a solo artist and won a total of 13 Grammy awards.

“For Michael to be taken away from us so suddenly at such a young age, I just don’t have the words,” said Quincy Jones, who produced Thriller, Bad and Off The Wall.He was the consummate entertainer and his contributions and legacy will be felt upon the world forever. I’ve lost my little brother today, and part of my soul has gone with him.” The singer had been dogged by controversy and money trouble in recent years, becoming a virtual recluse. Michael Jackson’s body is delivered by helicopter for a post mortem report .He was arrested in 2003 on charges of molesting a 14-year-old boy, but was found not guilty following a five-month trial. The star had three children, Michael Joseph Jackson Jr, Paris Michael Katherine Jackson and Prince Michael Jackson II. He is survived by his mother, Katherine, father, Joseph and eight siblings – including Janet, Randy, Jermaine and La Toya Jackson.

Vodafone launches signal booster

June 24, 2009

Vodafone is to start selling hardware that makes it easier to use a mobile in the home. The box known as a femtocell is essentially a tiny base station that boosts mobile signals within the home. The hardware, which Vodafone has dubbed the Access Gateway, routes calls across a broadband connection.

The Access Gateway will go on sale on 1 July for a one-off purchase of £160, a monthly charge of £5 or as part of a £15 per month mobile deal. The device can support up to four calls at a time and works with any third-generation (3G) phone. Vodafone said it had been trialing the technology for six months before taking the decision to launch the service. Those signing up will have to register which phones will be routing calls via the gadget.

3g Iphone

There’s a service imperative where people are using mobiles at home more and more in terms of signal quality around the house and through the walls of building,” said Nigel Toon, head of femtocell chip maker Pico chip. “There are definitely some challenges there. Mr. Toon said femtocell would also prove useful as operators extended the range of services they were offering and worked to cope with the growth of mobile broadband. Data use on mobiles is projected to grow enormously Toon but operators would not be able to put up more base stations to cope with usage. To handle that the carriers have to have a lot more capacity in their networks.

China accused for unfair trade

June 24, 2009

The US and European Union (EU) have filed complaints that China is unfairly limiting its raw material exports. In the trade cases filed with the World Trade Organization (WTO) the US and EU said China was giving its domestic industry access to cheap materials. China said it was meeting its WTO obligations and would contest the case. The case may be the first of many between the world’s largest nations as countries have sought to protect their industries amid the global recession. The cases concern the export of materials such as coke used to make steel, for which it is one of the largest producers, as well as bauxite and magnesium. The United States believes that China is unfairly restricting exports of raw materials US Trade Representative Ron Kirk said.
These actions are hurting American steel, aluminum and chemical manufacturers, among other industries, that desperately need this material to make their products.” Mr. Kirk said the US had decided to pursue a WTO case after two years of talks between the Chinese and the previous administration of former President George W Bush had failed to reach a resolution. China responded that its goal was to protect the environment and natural resources, and the Chinese side considers the relevant policy to be compliant with WTO regulations. China has also responded by launching a complaint over a US ban on the imports of Chinese poultry, which has been in place since the bird flu scare in 2004. The US and EU complaints now trigger a 60-day consultation period. If the dispute is still not resolved, they can formally request a hearing panel, which could hear the case for up to a year. If they win, the US and EU would then be given the go-ahead by the WTO to impose economic sanctions on China.

Recession near bottom

June 24, 2009

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says the world economy is near the bottom of the worst recession in post-war history.The body that represents the 30 most industrialized nations said that those economies would shrink 4.1% this year. But it adds that recovery is likely to be “weak and fragile” for some time. The UK is in a sharp recession with output set to decline by 4.3% in 2009. Worse than its previous forecast of a 3.7% fall. The OECD predicts zero growth in the UK economy in 2010, and says the UK budget deficit will reach 14% next year – both worse than UK government estimates.

It says the pace of the global downturn is now moderating after the sharp drop in the six months to March, but it still expects world output to shrink by 2.2% this year. However, this is the first time for two years it has revised upwards its overall economic forecasts, especially for 2010, with the economies of Japan and the US now expected to decline less sharply than projected in its previous report. It says the advanced economies will return to weak growth of 0.7% in 2010, compared with its previous forecast of a contraction of 0.1%. It looks like the worst scenario has been avoided the OECD said. Even if the subsequent recovery may be slow, such an outcome is a major achievement of economic policy.” The OECD adds that there are already signs of recovery in the large non-OECD countries such as China, and that in the US activity could bottom out in the second half of 2009.

However, it is more pessimistic about the prospects for the UK and the euro zone. It says that “signs of impending recovery in the euro area are not yet clearly visible” because of housing bubbles, damage to the financial sector, and export setbacks. And it warns that in the UK, rising public sector deficits will need to be reined in as recovery takes hold, and urges the government to develop a “concrete and comprehensive plan” to ensure debt is on a declining path. It also warns that unemployment could still rise to above 10% in the UK, the euro zone, and the US.

The collapse in world trade, which is projected to fall by 16% this year, has hit major exporting countries such as Germany and Japan particularly hard. The OECD says that not only have its growth projections been revised, but the risks that things might be worse than expected are lower. It says financial conditions might improve more quickly that it has assumed, although there is still a risk of an adverse reaction in bond markets to the high levels of government debt.

“A really disastrous outcome has become more of a remote risk,” said OECD chief economist Jorgen Elmeskov. This was a policy-driven upturn”, but it was still not clear when private demand would be able to replace public demand, and he urged governments to “stay the course”. The OECD says that “it would be tempting but wrong” to relax the extraordinary policy effort of the last nine months. It says there is still more that policy can do to ensure a faster and more robust recovery, especially by removing the uncertainty over impaired bank assets.

The OECD adds that there are major challenges in eventually rolling back the range of government interventions to stabilize the financial system – in particular, it calls for coordination across countries to avoid fear of competitive disadvantage blocking progress. And it says that tough measures will be needed to eventually reduce government budget deficits that have been stretched by the crisis. It urges governments to begin planning for such adjustments now even if they cannot be fully implemented until the economy improves

Attack on Russian regional leader

June 22, 2009

The president of the southern Russian republic of Ingushetia has been wounded in an assassination attempt, apparently launched by a suicide bomber.Yunus-Bek Yevkurov is said to be in critical but stable condition in hospital, with head and chest injuries. Reports said one bodyguard was killed and several others were wounded, after a car travelling at high speed rammed the president’s vehicle. Ingushetia, which neighbours Chechnya, has seen violence soar recently. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called the attack, in the city of Nazran, “an act of terror”. He has ordered the interior ministry and the Federal Security Service (FSB) “to fully investigate the attack on the Ingush president’s life and to take all the necessary law-enforcement efforts”, presidential press secretary Natalya Timakova said. Charred shellThe attack was launched at about 0820 (0420 GMT) as the president’s motorcade passed, carrying him to work, an official told Itar-Tass news agency. The brother of the president was among at least three bodyguards injured in the attack, he said. Witnesses said they saw a 4×4 vehicle – apparently the president’s – on the road with broken windows and bodywork damage. The charred shell of another car – presumably the bomber’s – lay at the bottom of an embankment. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it seems probable that it was carried out by Muslim separatists fighting against Moscow’s rule in Ingushetia, says the BBCs Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Moscow. Monday’s attack is the third on a senior figure in Ingushetia in as many weeks. On June 10, gunmen killed the deputy chief supreme court justice in Nazran as she dropped her children at a kindergarten. Three days later, the region’s former vice prime minister was shot dead outside his home in Nazran. Hundreds of refugees from the wars in Chechnya have settled in Ingushetia, a mainly Muslim republic, which is itself one of Russia’s poorest regions. The insurgency in Chechnya has largely been suppressed, but the violence has spilled over and now seems to be escalating in Ingushetia and Dagestan. President Yevkurov, a former paratrooper general, was installed by the Kremlin last year to try to bring stability to Ingushetia. Mr Medvedev paid tribute to the progress made by Mr Yevkurov, saying: “The Ingush president did much recently both to bring order and… civil peace to the republic. The bandits did not like this activity.”

Australia row over ‘fake’ e-mail

June 22, 2009

An e-mail at the centre of opposition attempts to oust Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is a fake, according to police.The e-mail was purported to have been sent to a treasury official by Mr Rudd’s office, to help his car dealer friend get a government loan.Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull said the e-mail showed Mr Rudd had abused his position and must resign. Analysts say this is the biggest test Mr Rudd has faced since he was elected. Australian media have dubbed the affair “Utegate“, as the car dealer in question, John Grant, had lent Mr Rudd a “ute” – a two-seater pick-up truck – for use in his constituency.

Escalating row

Opposition politicians believe Mr Rudd tried to help Mr Grant secure money from a Treasury fund called OzCar to help his business cope with the global economic slump.The row began on Friday, when Treasury official Godwin Grech told a Senate committee he thought he could remember receiving an e-mail regarding funding for the car salesman, but added he had no proof .Police were called in to search Mr Grech’s home on Monday and specialists examined his computer equipment.Preliminary results of those forensic examinations indicate that the e-mail referred to at the centre of this investigation has been created by a person or persons other than the purported author of the e-mail,” the Australian Federal Police said in a statement on Monday. The row forced a special session of parliament in which the two sides demanded resignations. Mr Rudd had given Mr Turnbull an ultimatum to produce the e-mail in the parliamentary session, or resign.It is false, fake and a forgery. There can be no graver offence in public political life than to be in the business of communicating a document that is false, out there, through the media, in order to bring your political opponent down,” Mr Rudd said.He told parliament the opposition had failed to provide the evidence so had “no alternative now but to stand up and apologise and resign”.But Mr Turnbull mounted his own attack, telling parliament: “What we have here is a shocking abuse of power.We have a treasurer who has used his considerable influence to get a favour for a mate. And not just any mate – a mate who is a benefactor of the prime minister,” he said.Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey demanded Mr Rudd and Treasurer Wayne Swan should both stand down.

World hunger hits one billion

June 20, 2009

One billion people throughout the world suffer from hunger, a figure which has increased by 100 million because of the global financial crisis, says the UN.The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said the figure was a record high. Persistently high food prices have also contributed to the hunger crisis.

The director general of the FAO said the level of hunger, one-sixth of the world’s population, posed a “serious risk” to world peace and security. The UN said almost all of the world’s undernourished live in developing countries, with the most, some 642 million people, living in the Asia-Pacific region. In sub-Saharan Africa, the next worst-hit region, the figure stands at 265 million. Just 15 million people are left hungry in the developed world. “The silent hunger crisis – affecting one-sixth of all of humanity – poses a serious risk for world peace and security,” said Jacques Diouf. “We urgently need to forge a broad consensus on the total and rapid eradication of hunger in the world and to take the necessary actions.” ‘Contradiction’

The increase in the number of hungry people was blamed on lower incomes and increased unemployment, which in turn reduced access to food by the poor, the UN agency said.

But it contrasted sharply with evidence that much of the developed world is richer than ever before.It’s the first time in human history that we have so many hungry people in the world,” said FAO spokesman Kostas Stamoulis, director of the organization’s development department.And that’s a contradiction, because a lot of the world is very rich despite the economic crisis.” Mr. Diouf urged governments to provide development and economic assistance to boost agriculture, particularly by smallholder farmers. Investment in agriculture must be increased because for the majority of poor countries a healthy agricultural sector is essential to overcome poverty and hunger and is a pre-requisite for overall economic growth,” he said.

Urban poor would probably face the most severe problems in coping with the global recession, the UN warned, because lower export demand and reduced foreign investment were more likely to hit urban jobs harder.Many migrants to urban areas would be likely to return to rural areas, it added, transferring the burden.Incomes have also dropped “substantially” in some developing countries where families depend on remittances from relatives working abroad.

With the financial crisis hitting all parts of the world more or less simultaneously, developing countries have less room to adjust, the UN agency says.Food prices among the pressures is the reality that borrowing from international capital markets is more limited” in a global crisis, the FAO said.Food costs in developing countries now seem more expensive, despite prices in world markets declining during the food and fuel crisis of 2006-08, it added.They remained on average 24% higher in real terms by the end of 2008 compared to 2006. For poor consumers, who spend up to 60% of their incomes on staple foods, this means a strong reduction in their effective purchasing power.

U.S. ready for North Korea missile

June 20, 2009

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that the United States could defend itself should North Korea launch a missile toward Hawaii and that U.S. officials are carefully monitoring the reclusive nation’s military. This North Korean ship is known for having carried “proliferation materials,” a senior U.S. official says. North Korea is preparing to launch a missile over Pacific Ocean waters, Japanese media reported Thursday. With missile interceptors and radar equipment deployed in and near Hawaii, “we are in a good position should it become necessary to protect American territory.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military is tracking a North Korean ship in the Pacific that is believed to be carrying illicit weapons or technology, a senior U.S. official said Thursday. While the United States does not know what is on the ship, the Kang Nam is a repeat offender,” known for having carried “proliferation materials,” one senior defense official said. Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday that the United States would not forcibly board a North Korean ship but, in accordance with a recent U.N. resolution, would request permission to search the ship or press any port the ship docks in to inspect it for illegal materials.

The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution June 12 calling on all states to inspect vessels suspected of containing contraband. If a ship refuses, it is to proceed to the closest port for a mandatory inspection. Tension has been rising with North Korea, which in May conducted a nuclear test, fired test rockets and threatened U.S. and South Korean ships near its territorial waters.

Also in late May, two U.S. Defense Department officials said U.S. satellite imagery spotted “vehicle activity” at a North Korean ballistic missile facility. The officials said the images showed vehicles used to transport Taepodong-2 missiles but no missile parts. The Taepodong-2 is a long-range missile that North Korea tested in April. That test showed a significant improvement in range from North Korea‘s initial long-range missile test in 2006.Further aggravating tensions are North Korea‘s arrest, conviction and sentencing of two American journalists, Euna Lee and Laura Ling. The Current TV journalists were apprehended near the country’s border with China and accused of plotting a smear campaign against North Korea. Lee and Ling were sentenced to 12 years in a labor camp.

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