Saturday, May 9, 2009

i chat with apple

Chat from anywhere (or just look like it).
With the new video backdrops built into iChat, you can make it look like you’re chatting from the Eiffel Tower, under the sea, or from the moon. You can also create your own custom backdrops by dragging a picture or video from iPhoto or the Finder into the video effects window. Backdrops even show up on the screens of buddies who don’t have Leopard.
Show off (without showing up).
Why wait for a darkened room and a projector to present vacation photos or Keynote slides? Now you can do it all remotely, right in iChat. Put on a photo slideshow, click through a Keynote presentation, or play a movie in full screen, accompanied by a video feed of you hosting while your buddy looks on. In fact, you can show any file on your system that works with quick look.

Chat for effect.

Transform your video chats using new Photo Booth effects. Add kapow! to a chat with the comic book effect. Get twisted with twirl. Soften your image with glow. Just choose an effect and your video changes instantly.
Share and share alike.
Thanks to iChat screen sharing, you and your buddy can observe and control a single desktop with iChat, making it a cinch to collaborate with a colleague, browse the web with a friend, or pick plane seats with your spouse. Share your own desktop or your buddy’s you both have control at all times. And iChat automatically initiates an audio chat when you start a screen sharing session, so you can talk things through while you’re at it.

Chatting for the record.

Now you can save your audio and video chats for posterity with iChat recording. Before recording starts, iChat notifies your buddies and asks for their permission to record. When you’re done chatting, iChat stores your audio chats as AAC files and video chats as MPEG 4 files so you can play them in iTunes or QuickTime. Share them with colleagues, friends, and family or sync them to your iPod and play on the go.

new apple mac OS X

Leopard, the latest release of Mac OS X, is loaded with following features that let you do more.


The world’s fastest web browser includes security features to enhance your online experience.


Leopard transforms email into personalized stationery.

Mail for Leopard features more than 30 professionally designed stationery templates that make a virtual keepsake out of every email you send. From invitations to birthday greetings, stationery templates feature coordinated layouts, fonts, colors, and drag-and-drop photo placement from your iPhoto library.everything to help you get your point across. You can even create personalized templates. Messages created with stationery in Mail use standard html that can be read by popular webmail services and email programs on both Mac computers and PCs.

Forget manually adding a new item to your to-do list every time an email hits your inbox. Simply highlight text in an email, then click the To Do button to create a to-do from a message. Include a due date, set an alarm, or assign priorities. Every to do includes a link to the original email or note, and to-dos automatically appear in iCal, complete with any changes you make. And since to-dos are stored with your email (when using an IMAP mail service), you can access them from Mail on any Mac.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


A chaotic headbanger, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" is saved from pure flat-footed blockbuster franchise adequacy by six things, three of them on Hugh Jackman's left hand, three on his right.

Don't those retractable metal alloy blades look like a blast? The way they slide in and out like that? It's the only special effect in this entire mechanical enterprise that's the least bit special. It is cool, plain and simple, the way Jackman's mutant Wolverine slices through helicopter rotors or the passenger side of an oncoming truck, while his nemesis Sabretooth, played by Liev Schreiber, uses his own Howard Hughesian claws to drag a signature across someone's car hood, or someone's neck. Or the script. That would've been worth slicing.

This fourth "X-Men" picture ties for weakest "X-Men" picture with No. 3. The third one came not from Bryan Singer - he directed the enjoyable first two - but from Brett Ratner, whose career to date peaked with the shot of Salma Hayek bending over the car hood in "After the Sunset."

Gavin Hood isn't that kind of director. Hood's Oscar-winning film "Tsotsi" revealed a talent for blunt, effective storytelling, but with "Wolverine" Hood appears mismatched, uncertain as to how to activate and stylize this sprawling origin myth (sounds so much classier than "prequel") designed to showcase Jackman's arched eyebrow of rage, bare bum of destiny - at one point, naked, he darts through a waterfall and across a barnyard like a starlet in a '70s drive-in picture - and his mighty pecs of stardom.

Though they're brothers under the skin, across the centuries and behind their respective, superhuman muttonchops, Jackman and Schreiber periodically try to kill each other in "Wolverine." That's most of the plot. Screenwriters David Benioff and Skip Woods keep the slaughter coming (I wouldn't take anyone under 12 to this one), and every other retort pulls a variation on "Hunt him down. Take his head off." The film races around introducing this character and that one, jumping from Canada to Nigeria to Ohio to the Three Mile Island power plant, setting up the next round of impalings. "Wolverine" delivers a tremendous number of impalings. It may as well be called "X-Men Origins: Rise of the Impalings."

Those who saw the previous "X-Men" features will have little trouble sorting through the mutants here, such as teen versions of Scott "The Fire Beam" Summers and Emma Frost. But there's a rote quality to the proceedings, and director Hood shoots the action in such a way as to minimize the performers' abilities to perform it. The editing by Nicolas De Toth and Megan Gill chops each new incident of violence, along with simple one-two exposition chunks, into 12 or 15 erratic fragments. "Wolverine" has been shot, cut and packaged for those afflicted with ADHLAS which, as you may know, stands for "attention deficit hey look a squirrel!"

The performers compensate some. Here and there you get what you want from an "X-Men" prequel, thanks to the irrepressible Jackman; the slippery, can't-ever-trust-him-for-a-second Danny Huston; Lynn Collins' heartfelt, charismatic Kayla; and a wittily seething Schreiber, underplaying while overplaying - a neat trick. Across the next decade we'll no doubt see more "X-Men Origins" tales. Whoever develops them should take the time to re-view Singer's contributions to the franchise. "Wolverine" makes last summer's "Iron Man" and "The Dark Knight" seem like a long time ago indeed.

MPAA rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of action and violence, and some partial nudity).

Running time: 1:47.

Starring: Hugh Jackman (Logan/Wolverine); Liev Schreiber (Victor Creed/Sabretooth); Danny Huston (Stryker); Dominic Monaghan (Bradley); Ryan Reynolds (Wade Wilson/Deadpool); Taylor Kitsch (Remy LeBeau/Gambit); (Wraith); Lynn Collins (Kayla).

Directed by Gavin Hood; written by David Benioff and Skip Woods; produced by Lauren Shuler Donner, Ralph Winter, John Palermo and Jackman. A 20th Century Fox release. LINK...

Dutch 'royal attack' death toll rises

The death toll from the suspected attack on the Dutch royal family has continued to rise as more details emerged about the man who slammed his car into a crowd during a holiday parade.

A car is pictured after crashing into the crowd waiting for the visit of the royal family in Apeldoorn.
more photos »

The Dutch defence ministry announced late Friday that a military policeman, 55-year-old Roel Nijenhuis, had died in hospital -- bringing the death toll to seven, including the suspected attacker. Twelve people were also injured.

The driver, who has not been officially identified, died in hospital in the early hours of Friday from severe head trauma, as it was revealed that he had lost his job as a security guard and was about to lose his home.

"Recently, he informed me that he had been dismissed and could no longer pay the rent," landlord Sem Bosman told De Telegraaf newspaper. "He was due to have come today to transfer the keys to a new tenant."

The 38-year-old was described by his former landlord and neighbours as quiet, solitary, friendly, soft-spoken and a "dark horse," according to AFP news agency.

The man, whose name was not released, had been seriously injured in the crash Thursday in the town of Apeldoorn, about 45 miles east of Amsterdam, police said. He had been charged with trying to attack the royal family, authorities said. Were you there? Send us your video, images

Police searched the man's house but found no weapons, explosives, "or any other clues that could lead to the involvement of other people," police said.

Crowds had lined the streets to see Queen Beatrix and her family ride by in an open-top bus during the Netherlands' annual holiday of Queen's Day. See who the Dutch royal family are »

As the bus moved along, a black hatchback zoomed past it. The crowds were behind barriers off the road, but security officials and journalists, including many cameramen, were in the road as the car went by.

Don't Miss
Attempted attack on Dutch royal family leaves 5 dead
Background: The Dutch royal family
The car crashed into the low metal railing around a column on the side of the road. The vehicle appeared heavily damaged even before the crash, but the reason for that was unclear.

There was no one other than the driver in the car at the time, police spokeswoman Esther Naber said.

Members of the royal family saw the crash and gasped, then quickly sat down as the bus continued driving.

The attack caused outrage in the Netherlands, newspapers Friday widely expressing disbelief and suggesting the monarchy would have to change.

"Queen's Day will never be the same," the Trouw newspaper said. "The Netherlands always has been proud of their no nonsense royal family. With this comes a queen who not only cycles a bike, but also mixes with people without obvious security measurements. Is that still possible now the royal family has been the target of an attack?"

The Algemeen Dagblad newspaper agreed.

""What is going to happen on the 30th of April next year? And will we continue to see the members of the royal family cycling through the canals of Amsterdam or hunting for bargains in the Bijenkorf in The Hague?"

Queen's Day is a national holiday in the Netherlands, the Netherlands Antilles, and Aruba. The tradition started in 1885 and celebrates the birthday of the queen.

Although Queen Beatrix's birthday is January 31, she officially celebrates her birthday April 30, according to the Dutch government. LINK...

Unions Prevail Over Wall Street in Chrysler Deal

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA BLAMED CHRYSLER'S BANKRUPTCY on "speculators," but the real problem was that the government's plan gave too much to the auto maker's unions and not enough to creditors.

If the secured creditors holding $6.9 billion in claims had been offered anything close to what the administration wants to give the United Auto Workers, there would have been no bankruptcy filing by Chrysler.

In the bizarre pecking order offered by the administration, the unions, which are at the bottom of Chrysler's capital structure, would get nearly full recovery value for their $10.6 billion retiree health-care claims, while the secured . LINK...

Immigrants push for reforms at rallies nationwide

MIAMI (AP) — Thousands of immigrants and their families marched in cities from coast to coast, hoping to channel the political muscle Hispanics flexed last fall as President Barack Obama won election. This time, they hoped to jump-start an old cause: forging a path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S.
Crowds were dampened in many areas though, as the swine flu scare kept numerous people home Friday. The area hardest hit by the swine flu is Mexico, also the native home of many rally participants.
In Miami, more than 300 minority rights activists joined with union officials in one of the first local immigration rallies to be endorsed by the AFL-CIO. Participants waved signs for immigration reform in Spanish, English and Creole. They also sought temporary protection for the state's large community of Haitian immigrants, whose native island has been devastated in recent years by hurricanes and floods.
They chanted "W-I N-O-U K-A-P-A-B," Creole for "Yes We Can."
In Colorado, a march was planned Saturday in Greeley, a rural town 60 miles north of Denver, and the site of a 2006 federal raid at a meatpacking plant, in which 261 undocumented workers were detained.
"We wanted to make the undocumented workers the protagonists, to give them a voice," said one Greeley organizer, Alonzo Barron Ortiz.
Activists' hopes have been buoyed by Obama's election and a Democratic-controlled Congress, in part because they believe the Hispanic vote, about two-thirds of which went to Obama, helped flip key battleground states such as Colorado and New Mexico. Many Hispanics strongly back comprehensive immigration reform — and believe Obama owes them for their support.
On Friday, thousands attended events in Houston, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Denver, Chicago, New York and other cities. They said a sizable role played by immigrants in the economy merits immigration reform.
"If we don't have the conversation, the economy isn't going to get any better," said Sergio Inocenzio, a 48-year-old juice plant worker who marched in Yakima, Wash., and has lived in the United States his entire life. "We're not here to take anything. We're here to work."
Organizers had hoped crowds would equal or exceed those of last year, which was down from 2006 when a stringent immigration bill poised to pass in Congress drew large-scale protests. But early reports suggested turnout was far lower than in previous years.
In Chicago, organizers had expected about 15,000 participants, but the crowd appeared much smaller.
In Newark, N.J., about 225 marchers paused outside the federal immigration building during a rally. "Say Reform, Not Raids" read signs in the crowd.
Stella Okereke, a Nigerian immigrant, said the marches weren't just about Hispanics. "It is for all of us, for Africans, for Americans for Haitians, for anybody who has felt a pinch of injustice, and that's why we are here, to support that immigration reform be done now," Okereke said.
The rally in New York City drew a diverse crowd that included Chinese, Ecuadoreans, Mexicans, Salvadorans and Pakistanis. Among them stood a smattering of those who oppose immigration reform.
And one of the largest gatherings assembled outside the White House, where more than 2,000 people rallied to call for change in immigration policy.
The White House announced this week that it would refocus its resources on prosecuting employers who hire illegal immigrants. And a Senate Judiciary subcommittee took up immigration this week for the first time in the new Congress. LINK...


With the FIA setting the balance of power between Budget Cap and Non-Budget Cap teams in 2010, Andrew Davies argues that the manufacturers and the sports fans are going to be left out in the cold.

It was almost a good week for the FIA. They made the right decision about suspending the sentence for McLaren's Melbourne misdemeanours. They added 15kg to the minimum weight for cars, meaning that Robert Kubica and puddings can be reunited once more. They increased the budget cap from £30m to £40m...but, calamity of calamities, they're insisting on this two-tier technical rule.

Now Max Mosley's intention is honourable here. He's got to find a way to put 26 cars on the grid in the worst financial climate we've seen for many years. With General Motors teetering on the brink in the States nobody thinks it's a bluff when he says another major manufacturer could leave the sport soon. Renault have never been as committed as Ferrari, Mercedes and BMW, and you always believed that Honda were more up for it than the French.

What Max has to do is lure new teams in, give them an incentive to compete, but not skew the rules so much that they end up with an advantage.

Mosley is a great believer in not confusing the fan and the new technical rules look set to make it the most ridiculously complex sport on the planet. At the moment you have cars on the grid with different fuel loads, with different sets of tyres and with or without KERS.

The FOTA global survey on what F1 fans want from motorsport emphasized that it is the broadcasters giving inside information into what is happening that really adds to the experience. People watching an F1 race need to know what's going on. Yet in the heat of battle, the broadcasters can't get things right when there are so many variables to remember.

Coming to the grid in Bahrain BBC commentator Jonathan Leggard told us that everyone was on the option super-soft tyre. They weren't, hence Kovalainen going backwards in the opening laps while his team-mate strutted his stuff at the front.

After thinking how badly he'd done in the race it was then a surprise to learn that Kovy had started on the harder prime tyre. Now although the FIA have taken refuelling and hence fuel strategy out of the equation for 2010, they are still hoping to add six more cars and differing wing specs for the new teams. So it will be more complex and harder for the broadcasters to tell us what's going on.

That's not a recipe for increased viewing figures.

The English Premier League is the most watched football league in the world and it is dominated by the four richest clubs in the country, Man Utd, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal. They don't have budget caps.

The teams that are struggling to get into the league don't whine that they're not joining unless they too can afford £35m for Cristiano Ronaldo, they're just happy to be there. They don't argue that because they have under £15m turnover they should get a 1-0 start in every game. That's not sport.

The difference is that the Premier League is the owner of its TV rights and anyone joining the league is happy and privileged to be part of that club. F1 is an anachronism in that the TV rights are owned by Bernie's Formula One Management who seem to be embroiled in ongoing disputes about what is owed to whom.

The teams have already been stung by the diffuser row and have a very great sense of one small technical innovation giving a very big advantage to another team. So this is perhaps the very worst moment to be pushing through a rule that may make a £40m new entrant faster than a £400m giant like McLaren or Ferrari.

Brawn aren't quick out of some arbitrary stroke of the pen. Honda spent all of 2008 with their heads buried in their hands at the grands prix while crafting the 2009 challenger that Brawn inherited. It wouldn't be sport if the FIA's calculation made Prodrive or USF1 faster than BMW or Toyota.

Mosley's dilemma is that he has to try and find a set of rules that can keep the manufacturers on board, bring in new entrants, yet still keep the FIA's biggest paymaster, Formula One Management, happy. The trouble is, in selling the world TV rights for 100 years the FIA have given up the family silver.

If FOTA decide that the FIA are incapable of organising a fair series after the rancour of the diffuser row, and there is increasing trouble over the TV payments, then the game will be up for F1. Three of the four top-spending teams are doing badly this year thanks to the rule changes.

It will be hard for Mario Theissen to go back to the board of BMW in 2010 and justify his team's involvement in the sport if they are being beaten by a technically less innovative new entrant, just because of where the FIA set the balance between budget cap and non-budget cap teams.

Interestingly Max Mosley said this week that he doesn't have one "legally binding" commitment from any of the manufacturer teams to be in the sport for the next five years. Given what's happened recently, it's hardly surprising. LINK...

NRI with suspected swine flu symptoms leaves hospital despite doctors' advice

NEW DELHI: A London-based NRI who was admitted to a Delhi hospital Saturday morning with suspected swine flu symptoms left the hospital on his

own despite doctors suggesting that he stay for three days, the doctors said.

The 35-year-old man was screened for influenza A (H1N1) (as swine flu is officially called) symptoms at the Indira Gandhi International Airport. After he was found to have a running nose, cough and throat irritation, he was admitted to the isolation ward of the Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) hospital.

Hospital Medical Superintendent N.K. Chaturvedi told IANS: "He left the hospital on the pretext of staying with his relatives in Delhi. We did try to tell him that the weather is very bad and he should stay in the hospital."

However, Chaturvedi said that the man did not have fever and doctors are of the view that he could test negative for the flu.

"We have collected his clinical samples and sent them to NICD (National Institute of Communicable Diseases) for laboratory tests. The report is expected within 24 hours," he said.

The hospital took down the address where the man planned to stay and his contact details of the man, Chaturvedi added. LINK...

Spaniard Jose Brasa appointed India's hockey coach

New Delhi, May 1 (IANS) Spaniard Jose Brasa will take over the coaching reins of the Indian hockey team from this month's Asia Cup.

Brasa has been appointed till the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou.

Brasa will reach here Sunday and will sign the contract before leaving with the team for May 9-16 Asia Cup in Kuantan, Malaysia, a top sports official said here Friday.

Brasa will be given a contract till the 2010 Asian Games, which can be extended after quarterly assessment.

Brasa, who will be accompanied by physical trainer from Spain David Terez, will get a remuneration of Euros 84,000 ($111,415) annually. Terez will take home Euros 60,000 ($79,600).

Brasa is a senior International Hockey Federation (FIH) master coach and led the Spanish women's team to the gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

The Indian hockey team was without a coach for almost a year now after Joaquim Carvalho resigned in March last year after eight-time champions India failed to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in 80 years.

Australian Ric Charlesworth took over as the technical adviser of the team for a brief period before he left the job after a fall-out with sports ministry and hockey officials.

Harendra Singh is currently the coach in-charge of the team.

Under him, India reached the final of Punjab Gold Cup and won the Azlan Shah in Malyasia last month after a lapse of 13 years. LINK..

Gerard: Will you marry me, Priyanka?

The couple has left many wondering after she hosted a special party for him on Thursday at her new residence at Raj Classic, Versova. It was on the pretext of a housewarming party, a celebration which the actress had been postponing for months.

The party which went on until 4 am started sedately but warmed up as the evening progressed. A close friend who was among the select guest list present on Thursday night said, “Of course the party was for Gerard who was completely besotted by Priyanka and kept proposing to her every half hour. It's become a standing joke rather a ‘kneeling’ joke between them. ‘Will you marry me?’ he knelt and said every half hour while she would burst into laughter. She’s clearly not interested on being Mrs Butler.”

Contrary to reports, Butler is not in India to scout for locations for a film. He’s travelling across India with some male friends. “He’s already been to the Taj Mahal and all the other tourist places. He leaves India early next week. Meeting and spending time with Priyanka was definitely a part of Gerard’s plan,” said the friend. “So Priyanka combined the long-postponed housewarming with Gerard’s presence.”

The selected guest list comprised Sussane and Hrithik Roshan, Gauri and Shah Rukh Khan, Karan Johar, Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone, Imran Khan and Avantika, Farah Khan and Shrish Kunder, Mahip and Sanjay Kapoor, Meher Jessia and Arjun Rampal, Kangana Ranaut minus Adhyayan, and Farhan Akhtar, who came without his wife, but his friend and business partner Ritesh Sidhwani. Priyanka’s parents were also present at the perky party. Among the absentees were Aishwarya and Abhishek Bachchan and Rani Mukerji.

The lady made a rather jittery host, running around attending to the guests more than they needed to be. Laughed the friend, “Priyanka had never in her life hosted a party before. She wanted to do it just right. It was okay if she over-did the hospitality as long as she didn’t lack in her role as a hostess. The Mediterranean food was ordered from Aurus and was quite a hit with the selected invitees.”

Sussane Roshan who has done the interior design of the house, we hear, couldn’t help but look around with much admiration, while husband Hrithik beamed on proudly. Clearly, the problems between this couple have been ironed out.

Neighbour and beau Shahid Kapur walked in too, but with choreographer Ahmed Khan. The two burnt the dance floor soon enough. At one point, Priyanka and Gerard took to the dance floor as well, a choreographic chemistry that was noted by guests present. And yes, he did propose to her one more time here as well.


Neighbours annoyed with the revelry

While the party at Priyanka’s residence was on in full swing, neighbours were not too amused with the bagpiping-loud decibel levels. As a result, one of Priyanka’s neighbours lodged a complaint with the police that the party was too loud.

Versova police station’s Senior Inspector S J Nalavade confirmed and said, “We also imposed a charge of Rs 5,000 on Raja Mohammed Bashir, who was in charge of the music at the party.”

A guest who attended the party said, “The police came around 1.30 am and asked the blaring music to be lowered. Priyanka had to obey the orders. LINK...

50 years on, Kamal believes in setting trends

CHENNAI: It is his 50th year in cinema, and Kamal Haasan, who has essayed hundreds of characters, has another thousand ideas up his sleeve. "I

want to make a film on the Eelam Tamils and don roles that are not type cast," said Kamal, who debuted as a child actor in Kalathur Kannamma' in 1959. The actor, who raised the bar innumerable times when it comes to acting, is still talking of doing things differently', and find stories that would offer a platform to showcase his immense potential. When asked if he would attempt roles like Amitabh Bachchan has, in Bollywood, Kamal said he was already on that route. Unnaipol Oruvan' is a film which makes such an attempt, and many others would follow, said Kamal at a press conference in the city. The forthcoming film, a remake of the Bollywood hit A Wednesday', will have local sensibilities, said Kamal. "There is no harm in remaking movies from other languages as long as they are done well and honestly," said Kamal. "After all, poet Kamban was inspired to write the Tamil epic Kamba Ramayanam from the original. Both kings and ordinary people have loved it. That is my aim as well," said Kamal.

Exploring terrorism is not a new idea with Kamal. His critically acclaimed Kurudhi Punal' dealt with the subject. "However, this is a differently told tale," said Kamal. Unnaipol Oruvan also marks the coming together of Kamal and Malayalam superstar Mohanlal for the first time. "I had always wanted to do a film with national actors, and Kamal's project is a beginning," said Mohanlal. "It should be possible for actors from other languages to join hands for meaningful and yet commercially viable projects, " added Mohanlal. LINK....

BJP, Cong may stun SP, BSP; due to Gandhis

New Delhi: After three phases of polling, it appears the Congress and the BJP may well be doing better than expected in the key state of Uttar Pradesh with the potential losers being the SP and the BSP.

So has Rahul Gandhi's “go it alone” policy and BJP’s Hindutva slant clicked? Ground reports suggest so. Muslims, having turned their back on the Congress after the Babri demolition, are doing a rethink after Mulayam embraced Kalyan Singh.

The good news for BJP is that Brahmins are tiring of Mayawati's social engineering which has now begun targeting the Muslims.

It was Rahul's idea to walk it alone in the crucial state despite having taken the Samajwadi support during the trust vote. But a bitter SP thinks Rahul's romance with this idea will be shortlived.

There are smiles on BJP faces, having once boasted of big names from the state, the party was groping for a foothold. Now, after three phases of polling, the Hindutva strategy, which was not overplayed except in Pilibhit, may have clicked.

And as the Congress and the BJP prepare for the last two phases, it will be Gandhi versus Gandhi as Rahul and Varun take each other on. The national parties are relying on the same family tree to reap a harvest in Uttar Pradesh. LINK...

Lalu meets old friends in Pataliputra poll battle

The hands he had held once are now raising against him but RJD supremo Lalu Prasad seems unruffled about the battle against friends-turned-foes Ranjan Prasad Yadav of the JD(U) and Congress nominee Vijay Singh Yadav from Pataliputra. "I relied on him (Ranjan) but he betrayed my trust. I gave him the charge to improve the face of universities and higher educational institutions but he was a miserable failure.... Ranjan will be politically destroyed," Lalu said. Ranjan, a retired reader at Patna Science College, was once considered an alter ego of Lalu who had sent him to the Rajya Sabha twice in 1990 and 1996.

But Ranjan quit the RJD in 1998 after he had failed to persuade Lalu to replace Rabri Devi with him as the Chief Minister. The former RJD leader joined the LJP but again switched loyalty to JD(U) after its chief Ramvilas Paswan and Lalu joined hands for the polls. Similarly, current Congress contender Vijay Singh Yadav was elected to the Rajya Sabha because of Lalu's support.

Now a staunch critic of the RJD strongman, Ranjan is banking on development work of Nitish Kumar, making the polls seem a contest between Kumar and Lalu. But the RJD chief is unperturbed in the run-up to election on May 7. "This (the propaganda that voters are impressed with Kumar's development work) is nothing but a political conspiracy to influence voters," he said, asserting that the RJD-LJP-SP alliance would sweep the polls.

Nevertheless, Lalu is campaigning here vigourously and is addressing as many as 11-12 meetings a day. However, Ranjan feels he would dent Lalu's support base of Yadava and minority voters apart from getting support of an overwhelming majority of upper castes which has been voting for the NDA since the 1990s when reservation for the socially weaker sections was dramatically hiked.

On his part, Nitish Kumar too seems to be serious about a victory of the party's candidate here as he is touring every nook and cranny of the constituency, where the contest is expected to witness a photo-finish. On his campaign trail, the Chief Minister described Lalu, who was invited by B-schools abroad to deliver lectures on the turnaround of Indian Railways, as a "mismanagement guru" and asked the people to "bolt the gates to keep Lalu out of Parliament for a better Bihar under NDA".

Congress' Vijay Singh Yadav, the once self-styled lieutenant of Lalu, is desperately trying to make the contest a triangular one. He claims sizeable support from his community. Besides, he feels Muslims and upper castes too have veered towards his party after it broke ties with RJD-LJP. LINK...

Communists forgetting poor and the backward: Rahul

Keeping up the tirade against the CPI(M) on his second visit to West Bengal, AICC General Secretary Rahul Gandhi today accused it of "forgetting" the poor, the backward classes and minorities in the state.
"I am shocked. What kind of a communist government is this which forgets the poor, backward and minorities?" Gandhi asked at an election rally here, a day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's attack on Left parties for their 'failure' to usher in development.

"This is my second visit to Bengal. When I first came here, I thought here is a government for the poor. But I was surprised to see that against eight lakh job cards, only 60 were given jobs (under the NREGS). While they were supposed to get 100 days work, they only got jobs for 17 days," he said.

The CPI(M), he said, had praised the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in Delhi, but failed to implement it in West Bengal.

Turning to the BJP-led NDA, Gandhi claimed that its slogan 'India Shining' had failed to reach the poor. "They have divided the country in two, with one part shining and the other consisting of the poor."

"In Bangalore, they are attacking women. In Orissa, they are attacking Christians," he alleged.

Describing the Congress-led UPA government as pro-poor and for dalits, adivasis, and minorities, Gandhi said it had fulfilled the promises made when it came to power five years ago.

"The UPA has implemented the 100-days work scheme in all states. It had started mid-day meals in all primary schools in the country. Not only has it waived Rs 70,000 crore in farm loans, it has enabled access of farmers to bank loans. It has also passed the Adivasi Bill, restoring to them the right of land," he said.

Accusing the Left-initiated Third Front of bringing 'political uncertainty' in the country, West Bengal PCC president Pranab Mukherjee said over the past 52 years, the Left parties managed to increase their tally from about 20 seats to only 60 seats in Parliament.

"They are now dreaming of forming the government and even taking the Prime Minister's post. But a party needs at least 272 seats to form the government. Those who took 52 (years) to reach a tally of only 60 seats...You can imagine how long will it will take for them to muster 272 (seats)," he said.

Mukherjee said even if the Third Front managed to form the government, it would not last for more than two years. "This would mean an unnecessary expenditure of Rs 112 crore." LINK...

Black money stashed abroad: Govt files affidavit in SC

NEW DELHI: Under pressure to bring back the black money stashed in Swiss bank accounts, the Centre on Saturday filed an in the Supreme 
Court on the issue. (

The Union government told the Supreme Court that it was doing everything on the issue of retrieving over Rs 70 trillion ($1.4 trillion) in black money believed to be stashed away in foreign
 by rich Indians. 

The government said this in an affidavit filed in the apex court in response to a lawsuit by former union law minister Ram Jethmalani, former Lok Sabha general secretary Subhash C Kashyap and former Punjab Police chief KPS Gill, which had sought the court's direction to the government to retrieve the unaccounted money. 

In its affidavit, the government termed the lawsuit as "politically motivated" and questioned the timing of its filing, in the midst of the general elections, and sought its dismissal. 

The Centre also told the apex court about the re-opening of the assessment of suspected cases. It further stated that it was monitoring the economic trend. 

Famous for its secret accounts, Swiss banks have highest deposits by Indians. The revelation came after Swiss banks were forced by the US and other Western countries to disclose the details of their nationals who maintain accounts with them. 

The issue was raked up by the main opposition party, the BJP and was used as their main poll plank in the ongoing General elections.