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Today's Hot Stories - April 30, 2010

10 Headlines for Today

(1) Five women devotees killed in Haryana stampede
(2) DU buried 20kg of radioactive material on campus, says professor
(3) SAARC plans expert group on climate change
(4) HP to pay $1.2bn for Palm
(5) Rupee gains 7 paise against dollar in early trade
(6) UltraTech Cement buys ETA Star Co of Dubai
(7) We cannot take Afghanistan lightly: Dhoni
(8) Modi entitled to a fair trial: I S Bindra
(9) Nadal trounces Hanescu at ATP Rome Masters
(10) Brown fails in final British TV debate, Cameron victorious

5 Stories for Today

(1) Manmohan Singh, Tendulkar feature in "Time 100"
(2) Pakistan Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud is alive: ISI
(3) Sebi, IRDA differ over legal recourse
(4) United, Continental to announce merger on Monday to create world's largest airline: WSJ
(5) Food inflation down to 16.61% on rabi arrival

(1) Manmohan Singh, Tendulkar feature in "Time 100"

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar and economist Amartya Sen are among nine Indians figuring in Time magazine's annual list of 100 most influential people while Bollywood sensation Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan tops its 100 Alumnae list.

Manmohan Singh finds himself in the 19th spot in the Leaders list headed by Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva with US president Barack Obama in the fourth place.

As India's finance minister from 1991 to 1996, Manmohan Singh "released India's potential for the benefit of its people. Now, as Prime Minister, he is guiding India into the ranks of the great powers," wrote PepsiCo's Indian American chairperson Indra Nooyi.

Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar gets the 13th place among 25 "Heroes" headed by former US president Bill Clinton who is recognised for his work as a fund-raiser and anti-poverty activist.

Writing about Tendulkar's double century in a One Day International match, new age guru Deepak Chopra says: "To millions of Indians and countless fans around the world, this act, which caps a career of record-breaking feats, arouses a sense of awe."

"The Alchemist" is the favourite book of Time Alumnae Aishwarya, who lists "certainly my mother and father" as the two people who had the most effect or influence on her.

Sixth placed among heroes Dr Perumalsamy Namperumalsamy, 70, was recognised for performing cataract surgery at the Aravind Eye Care Hospitals since 1976 and having treated 3.6 million surgeries to date-a new one every 15 minutes.

Indian entrepreneur Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw gets the 16th spot among 'heroes' for donating $2 million to support health insurance coverage for 100,000 Indian villagers and another$10 million for creating the 1,400-bed Mazumdar-Shaw Cancer Centre in Bangalore.

A paramedic from Toronto, Rahul Singh in 22nd place is recognised for his relief work in Haiti in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that hit the poor Caribbean nation on Jan 12. In 1998, Singh founded GlobalMedic to provide disaster relief using volunteer professional emergency workers.

Chetan Bhagat, author of bestsellers, "One Night @ the Call Centre" and "Five Point Someone" is the lone Indian in the list of Artists headed by extravagantly outfitted singer Lady Gaga.

"I've seen the effect Chetan has on his readers," writes Academy Award winner Indian composer AR Rahman. "He often writes about following your dreams and not bowing to others' expectations. That isn't easy in India, where family opinion matters and some professions are regarded as more serious than others."

Nobel prize winner economist Amartya Sen is 20th on the "Thinkers" list. "Occasionally loquacious, often ironic, usually genial, always brilliant," Sen's notion of measuring human development is now central to the work of the United Nations and the World Bank, notes Harvard University history professor, Neil Ferguson.

Indian-America doctor and Harvard professor Atul Gwande is fifth on the list of 'thinkers' for his contribution to medicine.

"In this historic time for health policy, the need for smart, creative thinkers is greater than ever. Gawande certainly is one and it is equally certain his influence will grow," wrote former US State Senator, Tom Daschle.

Humanitarian worker, Sanjit Bunker Roy's Barefoot College has trained more than 3 million people for jobs in the modern world, in buildings so rudimentary they have dirt floors and no chairs, Time said.

"Roy combines humanitarianism, entrepreneurship and education to help people steer their own path out of poverty, fostering dignity and self-determination along the way," it said.

(2) Pakistan Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud is alive: ISI

The chief of Pakistani Taliban Hakimullah Mehsud survived an American drone attack in the northwestern tribal region of the country in January, and is alive and well.

Last January, Pakistan’s state-run TV station reported that Mehsud, 32, was killed in a US drone strike in South Waziristan where Pakistan’s military launched an offensive last October.

Mehsud's apparent survival will be a major setback for the CIA, which intensified efforts to kill the dreaded young Taliban leader early this year after he appeared in a video alongside an al-Qaeda operative who killed seven CIA officials in Afghanistan in December late.

"The US government is under pressure because it is unable to achieve much in Afghanistan. This is one way of hitting their al-Qaeda enemies, as they define them," the official said.

Mehsud rose to prominence in 2007 with the humiliating kidnapping of over 200 Pakistani soldiers in South Waziristan. In 2008 Baitullah Mehsud appointed him to head Taliban in three tribal regions—Khyber, Kurram and Orakzai.

He also masterminded attacks on NATO convoys in Peshawar and Khyber tribal region, near the Afghan border. In Orakzai tribal agency, which was under his sway, Taliban fighters preyed on minority Sikhs and carried out bloody sectarian attacks on Shias.

Hakimullah became Taliban leader in August after a CIA drone killed the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) founder, Baitullah Mehsud. He also became known for cruelty.

Pakistani intelligence officials now say that Mehsud was only wounded in the attack. From the outset, the Taliban consistently denied that he was dead.

It took Taliban about three weeks to confirm that Hakimullah Mehsud's predecessor, Baitullah Mehsud, had been killed in a drone attack last August.

Mehsud's leadership has been challenged by other figures, too, including his rival Wali-ur-Rehman. "He may not be in the leadership position," the intelligence official said.

Accurate information independently from the Pakistan's tribal regions where the Taliban leader is based is difficult because the area is remote and dangerous and there are legal restrictions on who can visit.

(3) Sebi, IRDA differ over legal recourse

Contrary to their earlier stand to move court jointly for settling the issue of control over ULIPs, differences have surfaced between insurance regulator IRDA and market watchdog Sebi on the legal recourse.

IRDA said it wanted to seek a legal mandate jointly with Sebi, but the market regulator had reservations. "Sebi has written a letter to us, that according to their legal counsel, the joint application is not valid in this (Ulip) case under section 90 of Civil Procedure Court," IRDA chairman J Harinarayan said.

A renowned lawyer had suggested the regulators filed a case under section 90, as they were not adversaries fighting each other but only required a legal clarification over jurisdiction. Under section 90 "if any person agrees in writing to state a case for the opinion of the court, then the court shall try and determine the same in the manner prescribed."

When asked whether IRDA would again approach the government, he said it could be one of the options. However, Sebi chairman C B Bhave refused to comment on the issue, when contacted.

The high voltage dispute between Sebi and insurance regulator IRDA arose when the market regulator banned 14 life insurers.

(4) United, Continental to announce merger on Monday to create world's largest airline: WSJ

UAL Corp's United Airlines and Continental Airlines Inc are expected to announce that they are merging to form the world's largest airline on Monday.Continental's board would meet on Friday and Sunday, and United's would meet on Friday.

The concern over the share-price ratio to be used in apotential stock swap was "no longer an issue" and added that an announcement of the deal would likely be made early next week.

The two U.S. airlines resumed merger negotiations earlier this month, two years after walking away from similar talks.

Other aspects of the potential deal have already been agreed to, including naming United Chief Executive Glenn Tilton as chairman and Continental CEO Jeff Smisek as chief executive said. United would be the surviving brand and the combined company would be based in Chicago, they added.

Tilton would be non-executive chairman for two years, after which Smisek would also take on that post.

Shares of United fell 1.3 percent to $21.47 on Thursday, while Continental rose 2.4 percent to $22.70.

(5) Food inflation down to 16.61% on rabi arrival

Food inflation cooled off by over one percentage point to a month's low of 16.61% in the week ended April 17 as pressure on prices declined with the arrival of rabi (winter) crops in the markets but analysts said price pressure will remain till June, with the effect of food inflation spreading to manufactured items.

But government officials said food prices will decline further as the projection of a normal monsoon will calm speculative activities in the commodities markets.

Over the week, inflation declined from 17.65% as prices of masur, jowar, fruits and vegetables dropped around 2% and that of wheat by 1%. However, moong, urad and fish-inland became costlier. Pulses, however, remained expensive by about 30%, milk by 22% and fruits by about 10% over the last year.

‘‘The outlook is further brightened by the fact that a normal monsoon is predicted this year... Indications of softening of food inflation are clearly visible... It is expected that this decline will continue in the coming months uninterruptedly,'' finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had said on Wednesday.

Though food prices have started easing, overall inflation is on the rise, with it spreading to non-food segments.

The wholesale price-based inflation in March was 9.9%, much higher than RBI's projection of 8.5% by March-end. On an annual basis, potatoes saw a significant fall of 28% in prices on glut in supplies in various parts of the country and onions became cheaper by 10%. To contain inflation, RBI had raised its key short-term lending and borrowing rates.




           
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