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Today's Hot Stories-July 7, 2009

10 Headlines for Today

(1) Budget allocates Rs.39,000 crore for rural jobs scheme
(2) Government allots Rs 4,140 crore for highways
(3) US President Barack Obama and Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev reach a deal to cut back their stockpiles of nuclear weapons
(4) Investors lose Rs 2.54 lakh crore on Budget day
(5) GM gets $20 billion in funding for this year by the U.S. Treasury Department
(6) Japanese two-wheeler maker Yamaha launches Fazer 153 cc priced at Rs 72,000
(7) Cristiano Ronaldo officially introduced as the player of Real Madrid in front of 80,000 fans after signing a record deal of £80 million
(8) Australia bowler Brett Lee ruled out of first Ashes Test against England with rib injury
(9) Shane Bond is set to play his first international match after two years when New Zealand's will tour Sri Lanka in August
(10) Leaders of G8 nations set a target to cut greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050

5 Stories for Today

(1) 13 injured in clashes, grenade attack in Kashmir
(2) Mass arrests over China violence
(3) PepsiCo announces $1 billion investment in Russia
(4) IBM wins $251.7 million contract from Carrefour
(5) PSU stocks wealth erodes by Rs 82000 crore on Budget day

(1) 13 injured in clashes, grenade attack in Kashmir

At least 13 people, including four policemen, were injured in a grenade attack by suspected militants at a police party and clashes with security men here, official sources said.

Three policemen were among five persons who were critically injured when suspected militants lobbed a grenade at the police party, engaged in restoring law and order at Gawkadal which witnessed violence in protest against a student going missing four days back.

Alleging failure of the government to locate the student, hundreds of people took to the streets at these places and staged a sit-in. When police tried to disperse them, they refused, prompting the police to use batons. Five persons, including a policeman were injured in the incident.

When the police was engaged in restoring law and order at Gawkadal, suspected militants hurled a grenade at them, critically injuring three policemen and two civilians.

Police then fired a few rounds in the air in retaliation and shifted the injured to hospital, the sources said.

Pitched battles between a stone-pelting mob and police were witnessed in some localities that left seven persons, including a policeman injured.

Trouble started when residents of Maisuma locality blocked the main road after the disappearance of Asrar Mushtaq Dar, a 2nd year student of Islamia College.

(2) Mass arrests over China violence

Chinese police have arrested 1434 people over rioting in Xinjiang province, official state media says.

Rioting broke out in Urumqi - the capital of Xinjiang -leaving 156 people dead and more than 800 injured.

The unrest spread to a second city on Monday, with police breaking up fresh protests in Kashgar, dispersing more than 200 "rioters" at its main mosque.

Beijing blames ethnic Muslim Uighurs for the violence, but exiled Uighurs said that police fired on students. Demonstrators said they had been demanding justice for two Uighurs killed last month in a fight with ethnic Han Chinese at a factory in southern China.

The bloodshed drew international concern, with the US calling for all sides to "exercise restraint".

The official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported that police believed agitators were "trying to organise more unrest" in other cities in Xinjiang, a mountainous and desert region that borders Central Asia.

About 200 people "trying to gather" at the Id Kah mosque in the centre of Kashgar, on the ancient Silk Road, were dispersed by police early on Monday evening, Xinhua said.

Police also revealed they had information about efforts to organise unrest in the city of Aksu and the Yili prefecture, Xinhua added. Yili is a border region that was hit by ethnic unrest in the late 1990s.

As relative calm returned to the bloodstained streets of Urumqi, paramilitary police patrolled the main bazaar - a largely Uighur neighbourhood - carrying batons, bamboo poles and slingshots.

Mobile phone services were said to be blocked and internet connections cut or slowed down.

Witnesses and state media said that rioters' overturned barricades, attacked vehicles and houses, and clashed with police in Urumqi on Sunday. State television showed footage of protesters beating and kicking people on the ground.

There were graphic images of people who appeared to be ethnic Han Chinese sitting dazed with blood pouring down their faces.

Wu Nong, news director for the Xinjiang government, said more than 260 vehicles were attacked and more than 200 shops and houses damaged.

A senior communist party official in Xinjiang confirmed on Tuesday that 129 men and 27 women were killed in the clashes in Urumqi. The figure is higher than had been reported on Monday.

The police say some bodies were recovered from street corners in the aftermath of the clashes. Others died in hospital.

Accounts differ over how the violence happened. The Xinjiang government blamed separatist Uighurs based abroad for orchestrating attacks on Han Chinese.

But Uighur groups insisted their protest was peaceful and had fallen victim to state violence, with police firing indiscriminately on protesters in Urumqi.

Rebiya Kadeer, exiled president of the Uighur American Association, denied claims that she had incited the riots. She said she had learned about the protests from websites and only called her family in China to warn them to stay away from any trouble.

There has been widespread international concern at the clashes, which some analysts say are the most serious in China since Tiananmen Square in 1989.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon led the calls for restraint, a sentiment echoed by Britain and the US.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said: "We are deeply concerned over reports of many deaths and injuries from violence in Urumqi in western China. We call on all in Xinjiang to exercise restraint."

(3) PepsiCo announces $1 billion investment in Russia

US soft drink giant PepsiCo said that it would boost investment in Russia by one billion dollars, topping the list of US trade deals expected during President Barack Obama's visit to Moscow this week.

The increased investment will bring PepsiCo's total outlay in Russia to four billion dollars (2.9 billion euros), the company said in a statement, adding the investment would be spread over the next three years.

"I am delighted to announce that over three years we expect to invest one billion dollars in our beverage and food businesses in Russia," PepsiCo Chief Executive Indra Nooyi said in the statement.

"This investment reflects very clearly our great confidence in Russia and our long-term commitment to this very important market," he added.

PepsiCo is among the US firms to participate in a US-Russian business summit that aims to capitalise on a "reset" of ties expected from Obama's meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

"Investors hope to hear some positive comments -- the start of a process that 'clears the air' on a number of investment issues, as well as in the political sphere," said Chris Weafer, Chief Strategist at UralSib bank.

"That being the case, the benefits will be longer term and, currently, more concentrated in private equity and venture capital deals in areas such as technology, agriculture, pharmaceutical and medicare," he added.

At the summit, executives including from US oil majors, US farm machinery maker John Deer and aircraft maker Boeing will discuss the Russian investment climate, which many have criticised as corrupt and overly bureaucratic.

This month, Boeing is also to launch its joint venture with Russia's VSMPO-Avisma, the world's largest titanium producer, for the production at an Ural region plant of components for Boeing's new Dreamliner passenger plane, according to a deal signed in April.

Obama arrived earlier in his first visit as president to Russia on Monday for a two-day summit aimed at reviving a relationship troubled by a string of crises.

Russia saw major ebb in foreign capital investment after its war with Georgia in August and the drop in oil prices amid the economic slowdown shook investor confidence.

(4) IBM wins $251.7 million contract from Carrefour

IBM Corp. said that it signed a five-year agreement with French retailer Carrefour SA to improve and manage its information technology infrastructure for $251.7 million.

IBM signed the contract with Carrefour the second largest international retailer after Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in June.

IBM said the agreement will allow the retailer to control costs and improve IT security, among other benefits.

Carrefour France's IT infrastructure will be hosted from IBM's first European green data center in Montpellier.

(5) PSU stocks wealth erodes by Rs 82,000 crore on Budget day

The country's government-run firms suffered a loss of over Rs 82,000 crore on a single day with no significant announcement like FDI hike in some sectors or disinvestments in PSUs in the Budget 2009-10.

The market valuation of Bombay Stock Exchange PSU index eroded by Rs 82,316 crore to Rs 1410674.61 crore on Monday against Rs 14,92,991.36 crore on Friday last week.

Analysts said the PSU stocks have taken a hit as the government did not detail out the expected roadmap for disinvestment of unlisted PSU firms.

"In my view equity market is disappointed because the Finance Minister did not touch generic announcements like FDI hike in few sectors and no significant mention on divestments also made short-term participants jitterier," Birla Sun Life Insurance Company CIO Vikram Kotak said.

The BSE PSU index plunged over 450 points to settle at 7773.24 points against the Friday's close of 8,226.83 points.

In the Budget Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said, "The PSU are wealth of the nation and part of this wealth should rest in the hands of the people. While retaining at least 51 per cent government equity in our enterprises, I propose to encourage people's participation in our disinvestment programme."

The drop in PSU stocks is in sharp contrast to their gaining streak a week before the Budget.

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