News Saturday 22/07/06 India/World

Akal Takht invites excommunicated Sikhs to rejoin Sikh fold
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 21
In an unprecedented ‘Gurmata’ (literally Guru’s intention), passed unanimously in presence of Guru Granth Sahib, today gave choice to all excommunicated persons to rejoin the Sikh fold by January 13, 2007 without undergoing any ‘Tankhah’ (punishment) on the pre-condition that they accept the authority of Akal Takht, ‘Granth and Panth’.
Jathedar Akal Takht, Joginder Singh Vedanti, who read the ‘Gurmata’ from the rostrum of the Takht, here, said that those who had gone astray ‘intentionally or un-intentionally’ from the Sikh fold could themselves avail the special exemption given to them to mark quadricentennial century of ‘Miri Piri’ (foundation of Akal Takht) .
Later talking to The Tribune, Jathedar Vedanti said that the ‘Gurmatta’ was meant for all including Nirankaris, who were excommunicated after the Sikh-Nirankari clash on April 13, 1978. The Gurmatta was pronounced to mark the ‘Miri-Piri Divas’, which was postponed for today after clash on July 2.
The Sikh scholars feel that this was for the first time in the 400 years of the foundation of Akal Takht that any excommunicated Sikh was given an opportunity to re-join the Sikh fold without undergoing any atonement. ‘Ramraias , Minas , Dheermalias etc had been excommunicated from the Sikh Panth since the Guru’s period.
The important personalities, who were excommunicated in recently included Joginder Singh, a editor of daily Spokesman, Canada-based Mr Gurbax Singh Kalaafghana and certain foreign-based Sikhs who were punished for violating the ‘Hukmnama’ (edict) on Langar issue.
Meanwhile, Jathedar, Akal Takht has imposed a ban on any type of sloganeering, especially ‘Zindabad-Murdabad’ in any gurdwara premises of the world.
The Sikh clergy has also banned press conferences in gurdwara premises. However, Bhai Mohkam Singh, a spokesman of the Damdami Taksal said that Jathedar, Akal Takht must direct the SGPC to provide suitable place for the press conferences for rival Panthic factions since the Badal faction had already been using the Shiromani Committee’s offices.
In another significant pronouncement, Jathedar Akal Takht said that ‘both Jehangir and Dewan Chandu’ were responsible for the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev. This pronouncement from Akal Takht has come as great setback to the Shiromani Akal Dal, led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal since Ms Sushma Swaraj, a senior BJP leader had given a clean chit to Dewan Chandu from the Akali Dal’s stage. On this, Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, President Delhi Akali Dal (New Delhi) has appreciated Jathedar Vedanti for his ‘bold statement’. However, the ‘Pashtap Divas’ passed off peacefully though senior leaders of the Badal faction, including Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and his party MLAs/MPs, Brig K.S.Kahlon and other factions, including Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, Mr Daljit Singh Bittu, Mr Kanwarpal Singh, Mr Satnam Singh Paunta Sahib and a large number of SGPC members were present on the occasion. The Task Force of the SGPC was on high alert for any eventuality. Jathedar Akal Takht, was the only person to address the Sikh Sangat.

Panthic groups to launch gurdwara reform movement
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 21
At the first meeting of various Panthic groups opposed to Mr Parkash Singh Badal today decided to launch second gurdwara sudhar lehar (gurdwara Reform Movement), after a gap of eight decades. Earlier, the SGPC came into being in 1925 after the first gurdwara reform movement.
Representatives of various Sikh organisations decided, in principle, to ‘liberate’ the Sikh institutions from the ‘clutches’ of the SAD (Badal).
Addressing mediapersons after a meeting of different Panthic factions Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), said a united front of Panthic organisations would be committed to stop the misuse of ‘Guru ki golak’ (gurdwara funds) by Badal faction. He said the Panthic Front would not allow langar (community kitchen) to be served from the gurdwara funds at political rallies and functions.
Mr Mann said the front would hold a meeting on August 3 at Fatehgarh Sahib to finalise further course of action regarding the gurdwara reform movement. He said they would make all efforts for the implementation of the Sikh Maryada in true spirit.
Commenting on the decision of the Takht Jathedars on the incident of July 2, Mr Mann said that Panthic organisations had condemned the way the Sikh high priests had taken the unilateral decision. He said they should have given a chance to the opposite parties to present their case before giving their verdict. He said he had requested Akal Takht Jathedar to summon Mr Badal and Mr Avtar Singh, president, Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, as they were equally responsible for the incident, but he had not taken any action so far.
Commenting on the labelling of various Panthic leaders as Congress agent by Mr Badal, SAD (A) chief said that he (Badal) was responsible for breaking unity of the Panthic forces. He said this is evident from the defeat of SAD candidates during byelections to various constituencies of the Vidhan Sabha in the past. Dr Jagjit Singh Chouhan, Mr Prem Singh Lalpura, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, Mr Satnam Singh Paonta Sahib, Bhai Mohkam Singh, Mr Daljit Singh Bittu, Mr Kanwarpal Singh, Mr Narain Singh were also present at the meeting.
Hand over Dawood, Salahuddin
India tells Pak to take immediate action
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 21
India today advised Pakistan to take immediate action to address the Indian concerns on terrorism and suggested a roadmap too,- arrest United Jehad Council Chairman Syed Salahuddin and “global terrorist” Dawood Ibrahim and hand them over to New Delhi.

“If Pakistan really wants to convince the people of India that we are working together against terrorism then it can take some action immediately and they can,” a Ministry of External Affairs spokesman said in a prepared reply in response to a question on Indian reaction on Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s address to the nation yesterday.
Moreover, the Government of India is having an appraisal of the July 11 Mumbai blasts. “ We are also looking at all implications that it has in political and security terms and we are taking considered action step-by-step,” the spokesman said.
There is nothing new in New Delhi’s demand for arrest and handing over of the two above-named terrorists who are harboured in Pakistan and whom Islamabad has been treating as its strategic weapons against India.
India also demanded that Lashkar-e-Toiba’s parent body, the Jamaat-Ud-Dawa (JuD), should be banned and its leaders should be arrested. Islamabad has so far been saying that the JuD is being kept under close watch.
Dawood Ibrahim has been listed in the UN Security Council’s 1267 Committee as an individual associated with the Al Qaeda and has been designated by the United States as a “global terrorist”. The Foreign Office said, “ If Pakistan takes action to implement the directives of the UN Security Council, then it will give credibility to its assertion that it is willing to fight terror.”
The MEA spokesman said President Musharraf’s offer to help in investigations in the Mumbai blasts, if evidence were to be provided to him, gave no cause for satisfaction to the Indian Government in view of Pakistan’s refusal to cooperate in the past.
The spokesman was asked an obvious question: whether the Indian suggestions were not preconditions? He answered it thus: “I did not say that. I was asked a question what it would take to convince us. I have listed here some examples of practical actions which will add credibility to Pakistan’s claim that they are willing to fight terror together with India.”
The Foreign Office also hinted at the futility of providing evidence to Pakistan about the latter’s involvement in terrorist activities in India. Asked if New Delhi had provided any fresh evidence to Islamabad, as asked by President Musharraf in his address yesterday, the spokesman said, “This claim that ‘provide us evidence and we will cooperate’ gives us no cause for satisfaction because in the past when we have provided evidence then there has been no practical action on Pakistan’s part.” At the same time, the MEA maintained that in view of President Musharraf’s assurance, India would continue to provide to Pakistani authorities all available evidence and await practical action on their part.

Pak rejects demand
Islamabad July 21
Rejecting India’s demand for deportation of Dawood Ibrahim and Hizbul Muhajideen chief Syed Salahuddin, Pakistan today claimed there was nothing to warrant pointing finger at it in the Mumbai train blasts.
A strongly-worded statement by Pakistan Foreign Ministry said the fact that after 10 days of the blasts India had little to say other than to mention Ibrahim and Salahuddin “demonstrates that there was nothing to warrant the irresponsible act of pointing finger at Pakistan immediately after the Mumbai attack”. — PTI
First Indian casualty in Lebanon
New Delhi, July 21
The ten-day-old Israel-Lebanon conflict has claimed the first Indian casualty. The Foreign Office today confirmed the death of an Indian glass factory worker in Lebanon, Devendra Kumar Swain, who was one of the three Indians injured in Israeli bombings

Dense grey clouds invaded the skies over Chandigarh on Friday threatening to shower spikes of rain but retreated without venting their fury. — Tribune photo by Karam Singh

Home on wheels
Fitted with hi-tech gadgets that you wish your house to be equipped with, mini-trucks converted into campers are giving the concept of “home away from home” an all-new meaning, says Saurabh Malik

Swanky armrests; fiber-molded glass holders; LCD screens on the back of the headrests for the rear-seat passengers; and remote controls for both the stereo and the air-conditioner…. If you think that’s driving home the message of comfort, you haven’t seen “house on wheels” cruising down the comfort lanes of life and city.
Meticulously build by Delhi-based designers; you can scarcely recognise the vehicles modifying the lives of so many motorists across the city. For, the mobile “houses of the non-commons” are ultimate in opulence and luxury.
You have to see it to believe it. Fitted with almost all modern-gadgets and equipment you can ever hope to install in your non-movable dwelling units with the right kind of dough, the houses built on imagination are navigating into the hearts of city residents, dexterously. Right, after drifting against the currents of conventions, steadily! If you still haven’t seen what living life in the moving “house of the lords” is like, just hop into you own little car and drive down to Sector 34 parking lot. There is no way you can miss seeing the penthouse with all modern amenities in place of an untreated Tempo-Traveler.
Super-deluxe AC bus off
[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh today flagged off the maiden super deluxe air conditioned bus from Amritsar to Chandigarh, and said that ARAI-approved air conditioned buses would be launched in various districts through PUNBUS to ensure comfortable travel for the public.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Kolkata, July 21: Sourav Ganguly on Friday raised a banner of revolt against his long-time mentor Jagmohan Dalmiya, accusing the former BCCI chief of ‘playing’ with his career.
Parliament heads for monsoon session

[ 22 Jul, 2006 0943hrs IST

NEW DELHI: With the Mumbai train bombings, rising prices, farmers' suicides and Maoist violence the talking points of the day, an aggressive opposition is set to take on the government in what is sure to be a tempestuous parliament session from Monday.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led opposition has already threatened that it would attack the government severely on the lapses in internal security and intelligence failures that led to a series of terror attacks, including the Mumbai blasts in which more than 200 people were killed.

"It will be a stormy monsoon session," warned VK Malhotra, deputy leader of the BJP in the Lok Sabha. "We have a range of issues to raise in parliament and expose the government's failures."

Malhotra said the opposition would grill the government on the spiralling prices of essential commodities, the 7/11 Mumbai and Srinagar blasts, farmers' suicides and the Maoist violence.

"We will focus on UPA's (the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance) failure to check the threats against internal security. This government has completely failed in its policies," Malhotra said.

The navy war room leak case -- in which four naval offices were suspended after allegations that they had leaked classified information relating to the planned purchase of sophisticated equipment -- would also be raised during the one-month session.

"We will continue our protest against corruption in this session too," declared Malhotra.

Besides the opposition, allies of the ruling Congress also seem to be unhappy with the internal security situation in the country.

"The policies on Jammu and Kashmir and Maoist rebellion seem to have completely failed. There has to be a review in the policies, and the unhappiness among the allies would definitely reflect inside the house," said a senior UPA leader.

However, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Front is likely to spare the government on this sphere
22.7.2006. 15:29:29

- Aust evacuees safe in Cyprus
- Death toll climbs in Gaza
Israel has called up as many as 3,000 more reservists as it masses troops on the Lebanese border in what some believe is the prelude to further ground incursions.

Israeli authorities wouldn't rule out a full-scale invasion aimed at destroying Hezbollah positions, despite mounting calls for a ceasefire.
Death toll rises

At least seven civilians were killed in Israeli air raids in Lebanon on Friday which included the fiercest attacks in the east of the country since Israel launched its offensive.

According to police, four civilians were killed and 15 wounded in an intense bombardment of the Hezbollah stronghold of Baalbeck in eastern Lebanon and another was killed near
the southern port of Tyre.

Hezbollah also announced the death of two of its fighters, without saying where they had been killed, bringing the death toll for Shiite Muslim militia in the Israeli offensive to 11.

But Hezbollah also claimed it had arrested two "Israeli agents" in Lebanon who had been scouting bombing targets.

According to an AFP correspondent the raids, which lasted more than two hours, targeted homes, petrol stations and Hezbollah sites in Baalbek.

In the south, a girl was killed and her father and eight-year-old brother wounded when their motorbike was hit by an Israeli missile in a late-evening strike south of Tyre.

One civilian was killed and eight others wounded in air raids on the town of Nabatiyeh to the east.

Tens of thousands of people have fled the southern border area, which Hezbollah has in its grip with no Lebanese army presence, as fears of a humanitarian crisis mount.

At least 341 people have been killed in Lebanon since the start of the Israeli offensive.
Stem-cell debate turns deadly dumb
By Jim Spencer
Denver Post Staff Columnist


Curt Freed directs the neurotransplantation program for Parkinson's disease at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. He wants to put dopamine cells in the brains of patients to ease their suffering. He never thought of himself as an accessory to murder.
He still doesn't.
Presidential press secretary Tony Snow claims that George W. Bush had to veto increased federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research because the president is "against murder."
Snow's was a very cheap shot in the fight over embryonic stem-cell research. The president's spokesman sounded like who he was before he came to the White House - a fill-in for Rush Limbaugh.
Men and women like Freed, who use embryonic stem cells in their medicine, don't kill. They heal.
Snow smeared plenty of good people with his idiotic comment. But his boss injured a lot more with his veto. Folks like Doug McCulloch. McCulloch lives in Denver. He suffers from a degenerative nerve disease whose cure could lie in embryonic stem-cell research. McCulloch felt personally hurt by the president's veto. Congressman Bob Beauprez's vote to uphold the veto in an override attempt infuriated McCulloch, too. Beauprez may now kiss goodbye McCulloch's vote in Beauprez's bid for governor of Colorado.
McCulloch doesn't condone murder. Like Freed, he condones science that might change the lives of hundreds of thousands of kids with diabetes or people with seizures or spinal cord injuries.
Doing the bidding of a small cabal of anti-science, anti-abortion zealots in an election year, the president gave a figurative finger to millions of sick people.
Snow's mention of murder was "extremely inflammatory and untrue," Freed said. "I was astounded by the comment." Disgusted might be a better description. The president vetoed a bill that would have paid for creating embryonic stem cells from frozen embryos being thrown away by fertility clinics. The discarded embryos' donors had to approve. "Tens of thousands of frozen embryos are thrown away every year," said Freed, who currently has no stems cells suitable for human transplant. "It has nothing to do with murder."
India-US N-deal: Bill introduced in Senate

[ 22 Jul, 2006 0932hrs IST

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WASHINGTON: The process for Congressional approval of the India-US nuclear deal got underway with the introduction of the enabling legislation in the Senate.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Republican Chairman, Richard Lugar reported on Friday to the upper house the bill that would permit resumption of exports of nuclear materials, equipment, and technology to India after 30 years, as approved by his panel by an overwhelming 16-2 vote last month.

Lugar's counterpart on the House International Committee, Henry Hyde is expected to introduce its own version of the enabling legislation before the full House early next week.

The House panel had approved a slightly different version of the bill by an equally huge 37-5 margin.

Once approved by the two houses, the legislation will have to go to a Conference Committee to work out a common language as a bill cannot become a law of the land until it has been approved in identical form by both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Reflecting a common intent, both suggest a two-step vote for the final Congressional approval of the nuclear deal that both agree would become a cornerstone for US-India relations.

The first vote would allow the Bush administration to negotiate a formal agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation with India under conditions outlined in Section 123 of the US Atomic Energy Act of 1954.

In the second vote, the Congress would approve the so-called "123 agreement" itself.
Sexuality: Smoking and Obesity Raise Risk of Erectile Woes

Published: July 18, 2006
Smoking increases the risk of erectile dysfunction by 50 percent, and obesity nearly doubles the risk, new research suggests. Researchers tracked the diet and health of more than 22,000 male health professionals from all 50 states from 1986 through 2000.
Stuart Goldenberg


A Prospective Study of Risk Factors for Erectile Dysfunction (Journal of Urology)

More Columns: Vital Signs »

At the start of the study, after controlling for other factors, they found that men with good or very good erectile function had a lower prevalence of smoking, a lower body mass index, and less hypertension, heart disease and diabetes than those who reported fair, poor or very poor function.
Among men who started with good or very good function, those who expended energy equivalent to running 1.5 hours a week reduced their risk of future erectile dysfunction by 30 percent compared with the group that exercised least.
But at any level of exercise, being overweight increased the risk of dysfunction. Men who were both overweight and physically inactive had a risk two and a half times that of men who were active and of normal weight.
The findings, published in the July issue of The Journal of Urology, were partially financed by Pfizer, and one of the six authors has a financial relationship with that company.
Smoking and obesity also increase the risk for heart disease, but they lead to erectile dysfunction at an earlier age, in time to begin preventive measures
The Claim: Chocolate Is an Aphrodisiac

Published: July 18, 2006
THE FACTS The Aztecs may have been the first on record to draw a link between the cocoa bean and sexual desire: the emperor Montezuma was said to consume the bean in copious amounts to fuel his romantic trysts.
Leif Parsons

Nowadays, scientists ascribe the aphrodisiac qualities of chocolate, if any, to two chemicals it contains. One, tryptophan, is a building block of serotonin, a brain chemical involved in sexual arousal. The other, phenylethylamine, a stimulant related to amphetamine, is released in the brain when people fall in love.
But most researchers believe that the amounts of these substances in chocolate are too small to have any measurable effect on desire. Studies that have looked for a direct link between chocolate consumption and heightened sexual arousal have found none.
The most recent study, published in May in the journal Sexual Medicine, looked specifically at women, who are thought to be more sensitive to the effects of chocolate. The researchers, from Italy, studied a random sample of 163 adult women with an average age of 35 and found no significant differences between reported rates of sexual arousal or distress among those who regularly consumed one serving of chocolate a day, those who consumed three or more servings or those who generally consumed none.
The study relied on self-reports. But it reflected what many researchers believe: if chocolate has any aphrodisiac qualities, they are probably psychological, not physiological.
THE BOTTOM LINE Research suggests that chocolate’s aphrodisiac properties, if any, are limited.
China storm toll nears 500

Friday, July 21, 2006; Posted: 9:11 a.m. EDT (13:11 GMT)

Chinese soldiers rescue people trapped by flooding in Leiyang, Hunan.
A $30 donation gives $240 in food. Feed starving children and families

BEIJING, China (AP) -- China's death toll from tropical storm Bilis more than doubled to 482 on Friday after a hard-hit province reported a sharp rise in fatalities, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
Authorities in inland Hunan province said 346 people died in floods triggered by Bilis, while 89 others were missing, according to Xinhua. The province had previously reported 92 deaths.
Posted on Sat, Jul. 22, 2006

Scientists link fires to global warming


The Associated Press

Scientists worldwide are watching temperatures rise, the land turn dry, and vast forests go up in flames.
In the Siberian taiga and Canadian Rockies, in southern California and Australia, researchers find growing evidence tying an upsurge in wildfires to climate change, an impact long predicted by global-warming forecasters.
A team at California’s Scripps Institution, in a headline-making report this month, found that warmer temperatures, causing earlier snow runoff and consequently drier summer conditions, were the key factor in an explosion of big wildfires in the U.S. West during three decades, including fires now rampaging east of Los Angeles.
Researchers previously reached similar conclusions in Canada, where fire is destroying an average 6.4 million acres a year, compared with 2.5 million in the early 1970s.
And an upcoming U.S.-Russian-Canadian scientific paper points to links between warming and wildfires in Siberia, where 2006 already qualifies as an extreme fire season, the sixth in the past eight years.
Far to the south in drought-stricken Australia, meanwhile, 2005 was the hottest year on record, and the dangerous bushfire season is growing longer.
“Temperature increases are intimately linked with increases in area burned in Canada, and I would expect the same worldwide,” said Mike Flannigan, a veteran Canadian Forest Service researcher.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an authoritative U.N.-sponsored network of scientists, has long predicted that summer drying and droughts would worsen forest fires, which in many regions are primarily set by humans.
A nonhuman cause also might be on the rise. Warming in high northern latitudes is expected to generate more lightning, igniting more forest fires.
Forest and peat fires release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, adding to climate warming, which in turn will intensify forest fires, worsening warming in a planetary feedback loop.
“This is a carbon bomb,” Johann Goldammer, director of the Global Fire Monitoring Center at Germany’s Freiburg University, said of the northern forest. “It’s sitting there waiting to be ignited, and there is already ignition going on
NASA’s Goals Delete Mention of Home Planet

Published: July 22, 2006
From 2002 until this year, NASA’s mission statement, prominently featured in its budget and planning documents, read: “To understand and protect our home planet; to explore the universe and search for life; to inspire the next generation of explorers ... as only NASA can.”
In early February, the statement was quietly altered, with the phrase “to understand and protect our home planet” deleted. In this year’s budget and planning documents, the agency’s mission is “to pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research.”
David E. Steitz, a spokesman for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, said the aim was to square the statement with President Bush’s goal of pursuing human spaceflight to the Moon and Mars
Tandy Trower, general manager of the Microsoft Robotics Group, shows off one of the robots his team works on. Picture / Reuters

Microsoft ready to do the robot

2.40pm Saturday July 22, 2006

SEATTLE - Maybe it's the robotic dog resting in the corner or the R2-D2 "Star Wars" droid on the floor, but Tandy Trower's office is not a typical workstation found on the Microsoft campus.

Trower heads the Microsoft Robotics Group, a nine-person operation with the modest trappings of a start-up company but grand ambitions befitting a US$44 billion software giant.

Microsoft aims to bring robotics technology to the masses with programming software to ease the development of new applications, replicating an approach it adopted in the early days of the personal computer industry.