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Archive for May, 2012

Reputed websites under hacker threat: CERT-In

Posted by Admin on May 30, 2012

http://in.finance.yahoo.com/news/reputed-websites-under-hacker-threat-125757525.html

IANS – Sun 27 May, 2012 6:27 PM IST

New Delhi, May 27 (IANS) Websites of reputed government and private organisations are under threat from hackers, the Computer Emergency Response Team India (CERT-In) has said, warning users to be extra cautious while using the internet.

“It is observed that some hacker groups are launching distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on websites of government and private organisations in India. The attacks may be targeted to different websites of reputed organisations,” CERT-In, the national nodal agency for responding to computer security incidents, said in an advisory on its website.

“These attacks are being launched through popular DDoS tools and can consume bandwidth requiring appropriate proactive actions in coordination with service providers,” it said.

The agency has asked users to deploy adequate security systems to deal with these attacks originating through DDoS.

As a counter measure, it has also suggested that the users review traffic patterns and if there is any rise, this should be reported to the agency.

In a recent written reply in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Communications and IT Sachin Pilot said 112 government websites, including that of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), were hacked in just three months – Dec 2011 to Feb 2012.

These hacked websites belonged to the agencies in the governments of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kerala, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Sikim and Manipur.

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IPL: The Dirty Picture

Posted by Admin on May 30, 2012

http://cricket.yahoo.com/news/ipl–the-dirty-picture-.html

By Bhavna Vij-Aurora, Dhiraj Nayyar and Shantanu Guha Ray | India Today – Mon 28 May, 2012 1:01 PM IST

By Bhavna Vij-Aurora, Dhiraj Nayyar and Shantanu Guha Ray

A late-night bust-up involving charges of molestation and assault at a hotel suite in Delhi booked in the name of Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Deccan Chargers on May 18. An early morning Income Tax raid at the offices of Pune Warriors and Royal Challengers Bangalore on May 23 following a TV sting operation in which five fringe players were caught striking deals on spot-fixing and switching teams for more money. A brawl at Wankhede Stadium leading to a five-year ban by the Mumbai Cricket Association on Shah Rukh Khan on May 16. It was a week from hell for IPL. And the week promised to stretch into a long year.

Around 6.30 p.m. on May 22, Zohal Hamid, 27, was giving yet another live interview on her now famous charge of molestation by Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) player Luke Pomersbach. The incident acquired bizarre momentum, especially after her ‘fiance’ Sahil Peerzada, 33, was hit by Pomersbach and she turned out to be close to a defence agent. India Today was present at the plush farmhouse of her “rakhi” brother Abhishek Verma, an accused in the naval war room leak and under investigation for his suspected role in defence deals. Sahil made a dramatic entry while she was on camera. “How dare you speak to the media without my permission?” he asked. Zohal placated him and they then drove off in Verma’s Hyundai Sonata. Both she and Sahil then went incommunicado. Clearly, they had received instructions to go quiet. Some deal had been struck to cover up an intoxication-fuelled, unscripted drama that threatened to blow apart the nocturnal mix of sex and money that plays behind the televised scenes of IPL. Sahil and Zohal met their lawyer Rajneesh Chopra who had worked out a compromise with RCB owner Sidhartha Mallya, who had so charmingly described Zohal’s allegations against Pomerbasch as a “load of f…..g s..t” in a tweet. On May 22, Zohal agreed to withdraw her case against Pomersbach and drop the defamation threat against Mallya, who has not even deigned to remove the offending tweets from his account-another said “what this girl is doing is idiotic”. On May 23, though, he tweeted, “So glad all charges have been dropped and Luke can return Down Under a free man!”, followed by “Oh and btw, I know ppl can be cynical, so just so u know, the settlement wasn’t financial in any way!”

These shenanigans took TV cameras into the bedroom, the last thing IPL wanted as its oversold carnival becomes a sordid circus. The manufactured silence was designed to avoid some basic questions:

  • Why did Deccan Chargers book a Rs 20,000-a-day suite for Sahil at ITC Maurya?
  • What is Sahil’s connection, if any, with cricket and IPL?
  • What is Zohal’s real link with Sahil? She claims he is her “fiance”. Sahil is a trifle hesitant about the honour.
  • Why was Zohal sleeping in Sahil’s suite if she was not booked there?
  • Why were two men, Miraj and Moin, sleeping in Sahil’s room?
  • Why was RCB hosting an after-party despite an IPL ban on them in 2010?

The mystery became more mysterious with Verma’s involvement. His former New York-based business partner and lawyer C. Edmonds Allen claims that Zohal was an employee of Ganton Indian Private Limited, and that he recommended her for a visa to visit India on Verma’s request last year. Allen is the president of Ganton, which he claimed he set up to handle $205 million (Rs 1,127 crore) made by Verma through arms deals and lobbying for defence firms. Verma denies any link with Ganton and claims that Zohal too has nothing to do with Ganton. He says “my wife Anca Neacsu is best friends with Zohal” and recommended her for an Indian visa through Allen.

THE BOOKIE UNDERBELLY

Born in Afghanistan to an Afghan father and an Iranian mother, Zohal’s family migrated to US in the late 1980s. Now an American citizen, she works for a cosmetics company in New York as a sales manager. She did part of her schooling in India, where she picked up conversational though accented Hindi. She went to Rutgers University in New York. After watching her first IPL match on May 17, goes her story, she landed at the RCB party and in the room booked by Deccan Chargers at ITC Maurya. Every answer begs a further question.

But Rajiv Shukla, who took over as the IPL commissioner in September 2011 and is also a Union minister, has no answers, except an evasive one. “I am the IPL commissioner, not police commissioner. I have nothing to do with what is happening in the hotel room.” The fact that he mentioned “police commissioner” involuntarily speaks for itself. He believes media is exaggerating the problems of the league by highlighting stray off-field incidents. He does not deny knowing Sahil Peerzada. “He is the son of a Congressman,” he says. Sahil’s father, Peerzada Ghulam Mohammed, who died in 1994 at the age of 52, was a ticketing agent at the Sopore (J&K) bus stand in the 1970s, and went on to become a junior-level Congress leader. The family migrated to Mumbai in 1992.

Sahil’s brother, Feroze, says he has a real estate business in Mumbai, as well as two Kashmir handicrafts showrooms at the Leela in Bangalore and near Pavilion Mall in Kuala Lumpur. But Sahil’s reputation has been made in bedrooms rather than boardrooms. He is a serial dater of semi-famous women such as TV actors Shama Sikander and Gauhar Khan. Deccan Chargers is silent about why they rented such an expensive suite for him. Manjula Harpanahalli, media coordinator for Deccan Chargers, told India Today that they had no comments to offer. Repeated calls and text messages to E. Venkatram Reddy, director (operations), Deccan Chargers, went unanswered.

Investigating agencies are silent but taking a keen interest in the events. They have been busy. There has long been a suspicion that IPL is a breeding ground for bookies. Days before the start of the tournament, CID officers of Mumbai Police traced a conference of bookies from all over India huddled inside a five-star hotel room in Mumbai to plan their strategy: Essentially, to cooperate in the milking of those who like a flutter.

On May 17, when Chennai Super Kings was taking on Kings XI Punjab, Arun Chavan, head of Mumbai Police’s Property Cell, arrested two well-known bookies from a Lokhandwala flat. Devendra Kothari, 42, and Sonu Jalan, 30, were taking bets on the crucial match. Both were arrested immediately and 20 mobile handsets, a dozen SIM cards, two laptops, two voice recorders and an LCD T recovered. They led the police to another bookie, Mohammad Feroze Ansari, 38, from Nagpada in Mumbai. On May 19, the police arrested him too. The probe has now moved to Delhi. A team from Mumbai Police left for Delhi on May 21. Their goal: Check the truth in Kothari’s claim that he paid Rs 10 crore to a Sri Lankan cricketer to fix a one-day international match in 2006. “We cannot reveal the name of the Sri Lankan player. Investigations are still on,” said Mumbai Additional Commissioner of Police Vishwas Nangre-Patil.

In Delhi, the police confirmed that Kothari and Jalan were part of a global betting racket and among 170 suspects scheduled to visit Sri Lanka to fix matches. “There was to be a meeting in Colombo in anticipation of the fourth T20 World Cup which will take place in Sri Lanka. But it was cancelled,” says Brijesh Kumar Gupta, Delhi’s police commissioner. The police’s suspicions about a Colombo meeting were confirmed when a woman they picked up on May 19 from Delhi for possessing cocaine confessed to her involvement in the betting racket and said she was to travel to Colombo. On May 24, Delhi Police busted a betting racket in west Delhi, unearthing a mini-telephone exchange comprising 113 lines used for transmitting information about rates to over 300 betting syndicates across India.

India’s betting laws date back to the Public Gambling Act of 1867. Bail, therefore, is guaranteed for a paltry Rs 100 and allows bookies to get free within days of their arrest. No one has bothered to change this. “There’s very little time for questioning. And rarely are the big fish netted because the bookie chain is inordinately long,” says Gupta. This year alone, Delhi Police conducted more than 75 raids on bookies in Delhi and arrested over 100 people placing bets on IPL, the highest since the tournament started four years ago. The core problem hampering investigations is that there is no complaint, says Gupta.

ULTIMATE SECRET SOCIETY

Cricket is hardly the primary activity in IPL. The large, growing and dark circle around the field includes a secret society of franchise owners, pretty party girls and men of unknown means. Presiding over this is the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which has ensured lack of transparency. BCCI is a registered society completely autonomous from the Government. It only started paying income tax in 2007 after authorities decided that it wasn’t simply a charitable organisation “promoting the sport of cricket”. In the effort to become successful, IPL has cut corners. Interpol wanted to investigate the bookie phenomenon and and asked for Rs 90 crore as expenses, just as it had asked FIFA when it set out to investigate football sleaze. FIFA paid. International Cricket Council (ICC) President Sharad Pawar refused. Very conveniently, ICC’s Anti Corruption Unit was hired. “If ICC had hired Interpol, cricket’s cleansing process would have begun. But that did not happen,” says Union Sports Minister Ajay Maken.

In 2011, IPL had hit a ratings low. A new model was sought to be created, as highlighted in broadcaster Set Max’s ads which encouraged viewers to watch the game on the ground. Rajiv Shukla says that the average gate receipts for the 2012 season will be Rs 30 crore for each franchise. He also argues that the decline in TAM TRP ratings, from an average of 4.81 in IPL-1 to 3.33 in IPL-5 so far, is misleading because the goalposts have changed. “The ratings of even the most popular entertainment programmes have fallen as a result. IPL is still doing very well on television,” he says. Shukla is also buoyant about overseas revenues.

EVADING THE TAX NET

All nine IPL franchises have been under the scanner of the Income Tax Department after a report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Finance in July 2011 instructed tax officials to scrutinise the accounts of all IPL teams. What aroused the suspicion of the Standing Committee was a wide discrepancy between the annual financial returns statements for the assessment year 2008-09 and the assessment year 2009-10. For the year 2008-09, also the first year of IPL, three of the eight franchises, Mumbai, Chennai and Deccan Chargers, showed nil loss. The remaining five showed minor losses-Rajasthan Rs 6 lakh, Punjab Rs 14 lakh, Kolkata Rs 50 lakh, Bangalore Rs 79 lakh and Delhi Rs 2.92 crore. In 2009-10, each franchise reported huge losses-Rajasthan Rs 35.5 crore, Punjab Rs 65.68 crore, Kolkata Rs 11.85 crore, Mumbai Rs 42.89 crore, Chennai Rs 19.3 crore, Bangalore Rs 5.58 crore, Deccan Rs 87.09 crore and Delhi Rs 47.11 crore.

There was no particular reason why losses should have mounted so steeply. The player auctions had been conducted before IPL-1. The cost of players would be the same for IPL-2. The revenue streams would have been greater-the success of IPL drew more advertisers and spectators to the second edition. The only reason for higher costs was the move to South Africa, but that alone could not explain the wide discrepancies. According to sources at the Income Tax Department, while the assessment is complete, investigation is ongoing and franchises have been asked to furnish details.

There are several other issues of apparent financial irregularities red-flagged in the report of the Standing Committee. At least four teams-Rajasthan Royals, Kolkata Knight Riders, Kings XI Punjab and Mumbai Indians- received investments from abroad from tax havens such as Mauritius, Bahamas and British Virgin Islands. BCCI, in its reply to the committee, put all the blame on former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi. Even if true, and that is not proven, how does this exonerate the franchise owners who got the money from questionable unnamed sources? The Enforcement Directorate (ED), charged with investigating these violations, said its investigations have not been completed.

Even BCCI and IPL are under investigation by ED and Reserve Bank of India for operating bank accounts along with Cricket South Africa during IPL-2 without permission. IPL Commissioner Shukla shrugs aside the allegations of financial irregularities, just as he dismisses anything in convention with his usual bluster.

PLAYERS DON’T HAVE LEVEL PLAYING FIELD

There are other problems, inbuilt into IPL, which have created irregular incentives for players. In 2010, all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja was banned from season 3 of IPL for trying to negotiate a contract in violation of league rules. Jadeja, who at the time had not played for the IndianTP Sudhindra national team, was entitled to a salary of Rs 25 lakh, not more, set by the IPL Governing Council. Already a rising star in his franchise, Rajasthan Royals, Jadeja believed he deserved more money. This perverse rule on pay caps for Indian players who have never represented the country has made them vulnerable to the lure of illegal negotiations with franchises and offers from bookies. Curiously, no such cap is applicable to foreign players who have not represented their countries.

A recent TV sting operation on five Indian players who have never represented India revealed the dangerous consequences. The players- TP Sudhindra (Deccan Chargers), Shalabh Srivastava (Kings XI Punjab), Mohnish Mishra (Pune Warriors), Amit Yadav (Kings XI Punjab) and Abhinav Bali-were caught on camera either offering to indulge in spot-fixing or ready to negotiate with other franchises or admitting that their franchises paid them significantly more than the official figure, in cash. An underground economy is clearly thriving in IPL. Modi, the creator of IPL and commissioner in its first three editions, admits that not auctioning uncapped players was a mistake.

There are several possible reforms that can salvage the situation:

  • No player should be retained by a franchise without an auction. In 2008, for example, M.S. Dhoni was bought by Chennai Super Kings at the highest bid price of $1.5 million (Rs 7.5 crore). He was not put up for auction for the 2011 and 2012 seasons in which Gautam Gambhir came out on top with a bid price of $2.5 million (Rs 12.5 crore) from Kolkata Knight Riders. It would be unreasonable to expect Dhoni to have commanded anything less in an open auction.
  • The only players not subject to an auction in IPL-1 were the icon players-Sachin Tendulkar (Mumbai), Rahul Dravid (Bangalore), Sourav Ganguly (Kolkata), Yuvraj Singh (Punjab) and Virender Sehwag (Delhi). Each was, however, to be paid a 10 per cent premium on the highest bid paid out by their team in the open auction. There was some transparency then. Now, with the icon system being replaced by the system of retaining players (icons or not), no one knows how much players are being paid, whether by cheque or in cash. Says Modi, “No one should be allowed to be retained. If a player is important for the franchise, let them bid for him.” Rajiv Shukla also recognises the opacity of retaining players. “We will consider revising this in our next Governing Council meeting,” he says.
  • There should be an independent regulator for sports. “No one is being able to self-regulate. If not for anything else, let the regulator look into the alleged financial bungling of the state cricket associations,” says Ajay Maken. “Put rules in place, things will start moving,” says Bishen Singh Bedi. The former Indian captain says it’s time BCCI auctions each player every year. “Let there be transparency, let us see who is paying what for whom. Let the juniors get a price for themselves so that they do not take money under the table,” adds Bedi.

POLITICS OF CRICKET

IPL would not have survived its serious flaws were it not for a strong cross-party political alliance lending its weight. Shukla is a prominent minister. Arun Jaitley, leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, is on IPL’s Governing Council and heads its legal and disciplinary committee. The cricket establishment of BCCI and its regional components are packed with powerful politicians. Four are members of the Union Cabinet-Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar (ICC president), Congressmen C.P. Joshi (president, Rajasthan Cricket Association) and Vilasrao Deshmukh (president, Mumbai Cricket Association), and Farooq Abdullah (president of the J&K Cricket Association) of the National Conference. The quartet has successfully stalled Maken’s attempts to legislate a sports bill that will force BCCI to be more accountable. “What can I do if no one wants to clean the dirt from cricket?” says Maken.

Shukla says there is no need for BCCI to be under the Government. “We don’t take a penny from the Government. And we have made a global name for ourselves,” he says. The cricket establishment can count on some support from outside the Government. Apart from Jaitley, Anurag Thakur, a BJP MP and son of Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, is president of his state’s cricket association which hosts IPL games at its stadium in Dharamshala. His party colleague, Kirti Azad, is however a staunch opponent of IPL and went on dharna demanding the abolishing of the league after its string of recent scandals. Azad said that India’s image was being spoilt at an international level because of IPL debauchery and that he has written a letter to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to take action against IPL.

Politics is a power game, and for now Maken and Azad are weak before a muscular establishment. But a poisonous worm is corroding the IPL apple from within, and all the might of Pawar, Shukla and friends will not stop this disease from spreading, if they do not use a sharp scalpel.

– With Kiran Tare and Nishat Bari

Posted in Conspiracy Archives, India Forgotten, Press Releases, Rated R, Vigilant Citizen | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on IPL: The Dirty Picture

No impact of rupee slide on banks: SBI chief

Posted by Admin on May 30, 2012

IMG_9746_pcs_1 Same same but different. 500 In...

IMG_9746_pcs_1 Same same but different. 500 Indian Rupee (Photo credit: artist in doing nothing)

http://in.finance.yahoo.com/news/no-impact-rupee-slide-banks-145252120.html

IANS – Mon 28 May, 2012 8:22 PM IST

Bangalore, May 28 (IANS) The rupee’s slide against the dollar had no impact on Indian banking operations though profitability of importers would be affected, State Bank of India (SBI) chairman and managing director Pratip Chaudhary said Monday.

“There is no impact of a falling rupee on banks but it (slide) would strain the profitability of our importing customers, while exporting customers will have an advantage,” Chaudhary told reporters on the margins of a bank function here.

At the same time, despite currency volatility, the bank has seen higher remittances from non-resident Indians (NRIs) in their accounts to benefit from the conversion from dollar to rupee.

Owing to external and internal factors, the Indian rupee has weakened by 23 percent during the last five months, hitting a record low of Rs.56.40 May 23 but recovered slightly to trade in the Rs.54.80-Rs.55.50 range subsequently. It was trading at Rs.55.26 Monday.

Noting that further cut in interest rate would depend on government borrowings this fiscal (2012-13), the chairman said banks were borrowing at 8.5 percent (from the RBI) and lending (primary rate) to the corporate sector at nine percent and above as the government borrowings was at eight percent currently.

“Lowering of interest rate is largely determined by the rate at which the government borrows from the central bank. If the RBI cuts rates further, banks will be in a position to lower lending rate,” Chaudhury said after donating a Rs.8.40-lakh school bus to Angavikalara Ashakirana Trustat Davangere, about 260km from here, as a gift from the bank’s regional office.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) April 17 reduced key rates such as repo (repurchase) rate 50 basis points (0.5 percent) to 8 percent from 8.5 percent, resulting in the reverse repurchase rate decreasing to 7 percent from 7.5 percent for this fiscal (FY 2013).

The repo rate is the interest the central bank levies on short-term borrowings by commercial banks. The reverse repo rate is the interest on short-term lending. A cut in these rates rate reduces the cost of accessing funds for lending institutions.

As the SBI’s base lending rate was at 10 percent, lowest among state-run banks, it did not lower it further after the RBI’s rate cut.

“We have, however, reduced interest rates on loans for education and purchase of cars and to small and medium enterprises (SMEs),” Chaudhury added.

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How resilient is Indian economy?

Posted by Admin on May 30, 2012

Structure of the organised banking sector in I...

Structure of the organised banking sector in India. Number of banks are in brackets. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

http://in.finance.yahoo.com/news/resilient-indian-economy-030000550.html

Equitymaster – 18 hours ago

The growth forecasts for Indian economy have recently been revised downwards. Reeling under gross mismanagement, the Indian economy seems to be in a state of mess. However, the Finance Minister feels otherwise. He believes that India is in a better position than other economies to deal with it on account of high savings rate and domestic demand along with regulatory mechanisms.

Given the current circumstances, the picture portrayed by Finance Minister is too rosy to be real. He draws support from a huge young population and hence a robust domestic demand, a strong Indian banking system and diversified exports base. However, with disturbances in the global economy, it is only logical to expect that demand of exported goods will slow down.

The role of major Asian economies, especially India and China, in running the global growth engine can’t be undermined. These economies have the advantage of a huge chunk of young population that will keep the demand vibrant and add to the productivity. However, while China is making the right moves by shifting focus to tap the domestic demand, India seems to have landed itself in a very precarious situation.

With twin deficits gaping us wide in our face and rupee in a free fall, an optimistic tone for Indian economy looks so out of place. Our regulatory mechanisms might have worked in the past; however, the country seems to be falling too short on action in policy front. This is keeping foreign investors at bay. The absence of domestic funds and lack of foreign investment will lead to infrastructural deficit thus wasting the potential of youngsters. It is said that tough times can teach a lot. Looks like our time to learn has come. Hope the Government stops fiddling while the country is burning and wakes up to the need of reforms before it is too late.

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Oldest-known Mayan calendar found

Posted by Admin on May 30, 2012

http://in.news.yahoo.com/oldest-known-mayan-calendar-found-043356038.html;_ylt=AuY_q.USLSuyACKh5I2ny8jQscB_;_ylu=X3oDMTFxbGs3Y3Z1BG1pdANJbmZpbml0ZSBCcm93c2UgVGV4dARwb3MDMQRzZWMDTWVkaWFJbmZpbml0ZUJyb3dzZUxpc3Q-;_ylv=3

By Indo Asian News Service | IANS India Private Limited – Fri 11 May, 2012

Washington, May 11 (IANS/EFE) A team of US archaeologists announced Thursday the discovery of the oldest Mayan calendar to date, a ninth-century artifact amid the ruins of an ancient city inGuatemala.

The calendar documents cycles of the moon and, apparently, those of Venus and Mars as well, Boston University’s William Saturno andUniversity of Texas archaeologist David Stuart told a press conference.

The find, to be detailed in this week’s issue of the journal Science and the June issue of National Geographic, also further discredits the notion that the Mayas predicted the world would end in December 2012.

Proponents of the doomsday idea said 2012 would mark the conclusion of the last of the 13 “baktuns” – cycles of 400 years – that make up the Mayan calendar.

But the calendar found in Xultun, Guatemala, has 17 baktuns, and Stuart said the Mayas method of time measurement included units much larger than the baktun.

“The Mayan calendar is going to keep going for billions, trillions, octillions of years into the future,” he said.

The hieroglyphs in Xultun are several hundred years older than the calendar and astronomical tables of the Dresden Codex, which dates from the 11th or 12th century.

The home containing the calendar was part of a large residential complex.

Though Xultun was discovered in 1915, 99.9 percent of the site has yet to be explored, according to Saturno, who spoke of “the great wealth of scientific material that remains in Guatemala in the Maya area for us to discover”.

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Ancient shipwrecks unearthed in China

Posted by Admin on May 30, 2012

http://in.news.yahoo.com/ancient-shipwrecks-unearthed-china-120039966.html

By Indo Asian News Service | IANS India Private Limited – 9 hours ago

Beijing, May 29 (IANS) Archaeologists in China have unearthed two shipwrecks under an artificial waterway that remained buried forcenturies.

Over 600 artifacts have also been recovered from the site in Tianjin, the Tianjin Cultural Heritage Protection Centre said.

The wrecks, which date back to Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), first came to light in April, after workers dredged a section of the Grand Canal, said Mei Pengyun, centre director.

The 1,776 km-long Grand Canal passes through several provinces in northern and eastern China. The oldest sections of the canal were built 2,500 years ago, People’s Daily reported Tuesday.

The discovery will provide insights into construction of ships inancient China, archaeologists said.

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Syrian diplomats expelled over Houla killings

Posted by Admin on May 30, 2012

http://in.news.yahoo.com/syrian-diplomats-expelled-over-houla-killings-120224704.html

Syrian diplomats expelled over Houla killings

Reuters – 9 hours ago

REUTERS – France and Australia threw out Syrian diplomats from their capitals on Tuesday and other countries were due to follow suit as revulsion over the killing of more than 100 civilians in a Syrian town spurred them to act against President Bashar al-Assad.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called Assad a murderer and Australia’s Bob Carr said those responsible for the massacre at Houla would be held to account.

“Bashar al-Assad is the murderer of his people. He must relinquish power. The sooner the better,” Fabius said in an interview with French daily Le Monde.

French President Francois Hollande told reporters Syria’s ambassador in Paris was being expelled. He said the decision was not unilateral but taken in consultation with France’s partners.

Diplomatic sources in several countries told Reuters other governments would take similar action — a development which would mark a new phase in the international effort to halt the repression of a 14-month-old uprising against Assad and force him to relinquish power.

The immediate catalyst for the expulsions appeared to be the massacre on Friday, including women and children, in Houla, although the international community is increasingly frustrated at the failure of a U.N.-brokered peace plan to end the bloodshed in Syria.

Syrian officials denied any army role in the massacre, one of the worst since the uprising against Assad.

Australia announced the expulsion of two Syrian diplomats including the chief of mission, Jawdat Alai, on Tuesday and gave them 72 hours to leave the country.

“The Syrian charge has again been advised to convey a clear message to Damascus that Australians are appalled by this massacre and we will pursue a unified international response to hold those responsible to account,” Foreign Minister Carr said.

“This massacre of more than 100 men, women and children in Houla was a hideous and brutal crime.”

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan also condemned the killings and said there was a limit to the world’s patience.

“To carry out this kind of murder…while the United Nations observer mission is carrying out its mission in Syria is torture, it is wretched,” Erdogan said.

“There is also a limit to patience, and I believe that, God willing, there is also a limit to the patience in the U.N. Security Council,” Erdogan told a meeting of his ruling AK Party.

(Writing by Angus MacSwan; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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First Impressions Are Intuitive

Posted by Admin on May 30, 2012

First Impressions Are Intuitive

by Owen K Waters

Whenever you step firmly into heart-centered consciousness, your awareness immediately becomes more connected to your inner source of intuition. Through intuition, you become aware of information about people, places and events that springs from the essence of those people, places and events. This information is not delivered through the outside senses, although it may unfold within you at the same time that you receive sensory information.

While visual information relates only to the sense of sight, intuitive information includes much more. It includes all sensory information – sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste – and, in addition to that, the thoughts, feelings and memories that are relevant to the situation.

First impressions are more than just visual. They are intuitive as well. When you are about to meet a person for the first time and you are approaching them, you will receive a visual impression and your consciousness will also receive impressions about the nature of their consciousness, such as their true emotional state. That intuitive stream of information will come into your awareness alongside the visual stream and, if you are aware that it exists, you can add the intuitive information to your conscious impression of the person.

Everyone receives this intuitive information stream unconsciously, but, for it to arrive in your conscious mind, you have to:

1) Be aware that it exists.

2) Be open to receiving it.

The more you practice having an openness to intuitive information, the more this will develop.

Most people are not aware of their mental and emotional transmissions. In a crowd of people, these transmissions add together and there is as much mental noise as there is physical noise. As you become more in tune with your inner senses, you will find that, on some occasions, it’s better not to access your intuitive information for a time, just to give yourself some peace from the volume of mental noise.

At night, when you travel out-of-body in the spirit realms, communication is different than when you are awake in your physical body. The natural method of communication in your spirit body is to exchange information with others via thought. In the spirit world, people naturally know when to open for a communication and when to close down their thought transmissions again. There, you sense when a person ‘opens’ to you and sends a mental greeting, or when they are ‘closed’ and not offering any communication.

In daily life, first impressions are intuitive as well as visual. The reception of such information is automatic, but the conscious mind misses this information feed when it is focused entirely upon the external world.

Be more aware of your own intuitive information. Be open to it. Then, it will flow right into your conscious mind along with the visual information that your conscious mind is receiving.

*If you enjoyed today’s article, forward it to a friend! They will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Owen K Waters is the author of Spirituality Made Simple, which is available both as a paperback and a downloadable e-book, at:

http://www.infinitebeing.com/ebooks/simple.htm

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The beautiful temples of Bali

Posted by Admin on May 27, 2012

http://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/photos–the-beautiful-temples-of-bali.html?page=all

The beautiful temples of Bali

The Indonesian island of Bali is home to the majority of the country’s Hindus. Balinese Hinduism is characterized by the worship of the supreme god Acintya, along with the trinity in Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The art and ritual of the Balinese Hindus trace back to influences from the 4th century when Hinduism reached the island’s shores. Balinese temples are ornate, beautiful and situated in visually stunning locales. LAKSHMI SHARATH traipses through Bali and returns with these breathtaking picture postcards.

Note from the Admin : – Please include Bali and Thailand as well to the glorious era of the Hindu Empire with strikingly similar architecture across the landmass as well as extremely similar mythological stories and lore of the same group of Gods who were worshiped and revered across the region as well, during the yesteryears of old.

By Lakshmi Sharath | Yahoo Lifestyle Entertainment – Tue 24 Jan, 2012 2:16 PM IST

A roadside temple in Bali

Roadside Temple in Bali, Indonesia © LAKSHMI SHARATH

If you think India has many shrines, think again. In Bali, Indonesia’s Hindu island, there are temples everywhere – in streets, atop mountains, clinging to cliffs, on the seashore, and in the courtyard of every home.

Devotees at the Mother Besakih temple

Balinese Hindus at the Mother Besakih Temple in Bali, Indonesia © LAKSHMI SHARATH

The Mother Besakih temple is one of the most important temples in Bali. It is located atop Mount Agung. It is not just one shrine but a cluster of 20 temples overlooking the villages and the green slopes of the mountain. Balinese believe that the good spirits along with their deities reside here and the shrines resemble houses built for them.

Goa Gajah

Goa Gajah temple in Bali, Indonesia © LAKSHMI SHARATH

Goa, I learned, is pronounced “Guha” as in many Indian languages. It refers to a 1,000-year-old cave excavated here that houses the Hindu trinity of gods and Ganesha, whom the Balinese know as “Gajah” (as in elephant). The 11th century site, called Lwa Gajah, was not discovered until the 1950s and was believed to be a sanctuary of a Buddhist monk. Carved images of the Buddha and smaller shrines and a step-well dot the green landscape here.

Uluwatu

Pura Uluwatu is one of Bali’s most spectacular temples © LAKSHMI SHARATH

Bali’s shrines are often located in the most exotic landscapes. This is Pura Uluwatu right atop the cliff. The scenery is breathtaking as you climb uphill through a small forested area patrolled by boisterous monkeys.

Bali’s royal shrine

Royal shrine in Bali, Indonesia © LAKSHMI SHARATH

Pura Taman Ayun, literally “beautiful garden”, is the shrine of the royalty in Bali. Built in the 17th century, this temple in Mengwi, south Bali, is believed to house the ancestors of the royal dynasty and their family deities.

Puppets galore

Puppets in Bali, Indonesia © LAKSHMI SHARATH

The sounds of performances fill the air as you walk into any of these temples. Wayang or shadow puppetry, the Kecak or fire-dance, and various other local dances like Barong, Legong and Pendet are some of the art forms to experience while you visit these shrines.

Sunset at Tanah Lot

Tanah Lot temple in Bali, Indonesia © LAKSHMI SHARATH

No trip is complete without a glimpse of the spectacular sunset in Tanah Lot temple, a tourist magnet located on a rocky oceanic island. The 15th century shrine, dedicated to the sea spirits, was built under the direction of a priest and is believed to be guarded by snakes.

Lakshmi Sharath is a media professional, traveler, travel-writer, photographer and blogger.

Are you a passionate traveler? Yahoo! India Travel offers you the perfect soapbox to tell your travel tales. Submit your travelogues with photos to travelindiasubmissions@yahoo.in

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Temple-spotting in Cambodia

Posted by Admin on May 27, 2012

http://in.lifestyle.yahoo.com/photos/temple-spotting-in-cambodia-1331894564-slideshow/

Temple-spotting in Cambodia

Wait, don’t go back after visiting Angkor Wat. LAKSHMI SHARATH recommends five other breathtaking temples to see in Siem Reap

Note from the Admin : – Remember Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar(Burma), Indonesia, Sumatra, Borneo, Papau New Guinea, Malaysia, Vietnam, Australia and the entire archipelago of the Philipines, all belonged to one large landmass of Oceania and Austra-lasia formerly known as Lemuria and where along with the main region of the Indian Sub-Continent of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka along with southern regions of Afghanistan or the North Western Frontier Provinces such as Sindh and Baluchistan were all part of a flourishing and glorious Hindu Empire. Their remnants today have been weathered away by winds, floods and erosions leaving only glimpses of what one could term as the closest of the Pre Antediluvian civilizations of our forgotten past to a state of supreme Utopia.

Cambodia

Thought Angkor Wat was synonymous with Siem Reap? Think again. Once you are done with the sunrise and sunset and the tour of Angkor Wat, do not head back to the next destination in Cambodia. Buy yourself a three-day Angkor pass and visit other marvelous temples and you will find a slice of ancient civilization waiting for you.

Cambodia

The gates of the fortified town Angkor Thom opens into a different world and Bayon would probably be your first stop. Like the faces that greet you at the gate, Bayon is carved with them as the towers give the impression of a mountain with small peaks. Built in the 12th and 13th centuries, this was the state temple of the ancient rulers. You will need at least a couple of hours to see this enormous temple complex. Spare some time to wander around the town of Angkor Thom. This is my favorite temple in Siem Reap.

Cambodia

You would probably remember this temple for the Angelina Jolie film Tomb Raider. As I walked around Ta Prohm, it was amidst a restoration process assisted by the Indian government. The trees, their long serpentine roots and sturdy trunks, beckon you here. The eyes follow them as they mysteriously curl around a boulder and add an element of wildness to a sculpture. It was believed to have been a temple monastery. Ta Prohm leaves you breathless as you watch the elements of nature and art create wild magic in front of you.

Cambodia

Preah Khan is another masterpiece that literally opens into a different world as you enter the portals of the temple. It was believed to have been a Buddhist university as well. The trees add a different dimension to the sculptures as you see them growing on the walls of the temple, almost holding onto them.

Cambodia

Banteay Srei is probably the smallest of the temples here and it is also one of the furthest from the Angkor complex. Carved in sandstone, this temple’s name I am told literally means Citadel of Women in reference to its beauty. The journey will take you about an hour, but it is worth spending every minute here.

Cambodia

The guides and the tuk tuk guys will highly recommend Pre Rup for the sunset and I found it rather quiet compared to the other sunset points This state temple is built a few kilometers away from Angkor town and stands on the way to Banteay Srei. The towers, built in laterite, sandstone and brick, glow in the evening sun as we spend a few quiet moments before returning to Siem Reap.

Cambodia

Five is a rather small number when it comes to the temples of Angkor and the monuments around Siem Reap. If you have more time, do check out the Roluos Group of temples – Bakong is beautiful ; or visit Kbal Spein or Kulen Mountains to see the River of thousand Shiva lingas – small stone carvings on the bed of the Siem Reap river.

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What it meant to be a Hindu for me

Posted by Admin on May 26, 2012

http://cosmicstories.wordpress.com/2012/05/13/what-it-meant-to-be-a-hindu-for-me/

What it meant to be a Hindu for me

Even before I opened my eyes for the first time in this world, I was a Hindu. I was a Hindu by default because I was born in a Hindu family. I was marked with this word. Although, I didn’t know what that word really meant, I used to write my religion as Hindu in all the school and college forms. I still do that.

In this essay, I am not going to argue about what Hindu really means. I will do that in the next Blog. In this Blog, I will rather tell my readers about what I have experienced and how I see Hinduism. I am not religious anymore. I wonder if I was ever so religious. I was born in a Brahmin Family in one of the most underdeveloped states in India. It is necessary to talk about my birthplace because it has a good significance here. An underdeveloped state means that most of my family members and almost all of the society were too much inculcated with the idea of religion. But, can we here make a comparison of extremely religious Muslim or Christian society with an extremely religious Hindu society? How did I find my way out of this trap of irrational religious beliefs? Simple! Because Hinduism generally does not enforces its beliefs on anyone.

My friends in west or Pakistan are unable to understand how a Hindu really lives or practices his faith. That is warranted because they compare Hinduism with their own prejudices and religion.

Muslims laugh on Hinduism thinking that Hindus worship a million gods in Idols and drink Cow piss (Yuck!). I never did that. Nor any of my family members ever did that too. We have a few cows in our farm-house but we only used them to get milk. Yes, we did have idols of Gods in our temple at home, but they were just 3 or 4 of different kinds. Nobody can build a temple of a million Gods.

This is Goddess Durga

Goddess Durga is worshiped as the principle God in our family and village. We do consider all other Hindu Gods like Brahma, Vishnu or Shiva. A Hindu can choose what God he wants to worship. We worshiped Durga and had idols of a few other Gods in our temple. How many times did we used to worship? Well! My father worships everyday but mostly it was unnecessary. Anyone could worship or just bow his head sometimes before the idol, anytime of the day or week or even month. There are no strict enforced laws for worshiping-Every Hindu is to himself.

Yesterday, a few boys came in my Room with a collection of audio jokes in their mobile. Some of these jokes were sexual and directed towards Hindu Gods. Everyone just laughed- Even my room-partner who is a staunch believer in Hinduism. Even he laughed when his God was brutally mocked in the joke. One important thing to say: Nobody was killed. I was so astonished to see that. How can a believing Hindu joke crudely on his Gods? But that is a relieving truth that I have lived from the last 25 years. Hindus do not just get angry and kill anyone for mocking their Gods. Just think about what would have happened to those boys if we were Muslims and their crude jokes were directed towards Muhammad. *Stoning*??

River Ganga is considered Holy in Hinduism. It is said that anyone who dies at its banks gets heaven as reward in afterlife. I have never considered Ganga as a Holy river. It is just like any other river. I used to say that before my other Hindu friends in my early youth. None of them ever replied back with an angry tone, saying that I was offending Hinduism. No! All the other Hindus would easily accept that it was my choice. Anyways, I love River Ganga as I would love River Nile; it has served for centuries as the cradle of civilization.

There is a concept of heaven and hell in Monotheistic religions. There is some concept like that in Hinduism too. But I don’t know any Hindus in my friend or family circle who really think or care about that. Though, they all believe in Hinduism but still they don’t have the knowledge of any Heaven or Hell. They just live their life easily, doing their everyday duties. I was never frightened with Hell. I have never done anything good only because of some reward of heaven. That’s just a way of life for ordinary Hindus. What most of the Hindus think is that when you die, your soul becomes a part of the greater soul (God) or based on your actions, you reincarnate.

All of my family members think that God is everywhere. He is the creator and sustainer of life. He answers prayers and he loves his creation. Many of the followers of like Christianity and Islam think that Hindus worship idols thinking that idols are God. But this is not true- Many Hindus only worship idols because they think that they are worshipping an infinite through the finite- that they are worshipping an unknowable thorough a knowable object.

All of the scholars of Hinduism agree that Hindu is not specifically a religious term. It is a nationalistic term which means people living to the east of river Indus. I call myself a Hindu because of that definition only. I was born in India, therefore I am a Hindu. Like in the same way, a person born in America is American.

Hinduism is a strange religion. It gives a lot of space to its believers to paint any picture of God that he/she likes. It is not prescriptive and even an Atheist can be a Hindu.

A person can be a Hindu, even if:

He worships daily or even rarely in a year.

He eats whatever he likes or doesn’t eat Non- Veg. ever.

He thinks Ganga is holy or not.

He is free to respect or revile any of the Hindu Gods. But he will still remain a Hindu. You can’t take that away from him. There is a lot of space given in this religion. Do what you want!  But with all that freedom, you are still bound under the chains of irrational beliefs.

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