Saturday, 29 June 2013

Uttarakhand assembly speaker says toll may cross 10,000

LMORA/GWALIOR: The number of people killed in cloudbursts and flash floods in Uttarakhand recently may cross 10,000 mark, state assembly speaker Govind Singh Kunjwal said on Saturday.
"Earlier when I returned from a tour of Garhwal region I believed the casualty figure could be 4000 to 5000. But now as per my information and bodies being seen by the people, I can say the figure can cross the 10,000 mark," Kunjwal told told reporters here.
Though refusing to quantify casualties even 14 days after the tragedy, chief minister Vijay Bahuguna has been saying it is feared over 1,000 people might have been killed in the natural calamity.
According to him, the exact number of people killed will be known only after the removal of debris.
Kunjwal said arrangements should be made immediately by the government to dispose of the bodies in view of the threat of an epidemic.
Unable to trace parents at Kedarnath, MP woman ends life
After failing to trace her parents, who had gone to Kedarnath pilgrimage, a 35-year-old woman allegedly committed suicide here, police said today.
The dejected woman, Mamta Tripathi hung herself yesterday when her family could not find the whereabouts of father Nathuram Parashar (60), mother Kamla Devi (50), uncle Satish Parashar and aunt Vimla Devi, who had left for the pilgrim town on June 5, they said.
Mamta's husband had also left for Haridwar on June 18 to search for his wife's parents. She had spoken to them for the last time on June 15 and since then there was no contact, police said.
The woman had yesterday gone to Manshadevi temple to pray for the safety of her parents and on returning home, she cooked food for her family and after eating went to her room and took the extreme step.
At least 3,000 people are still reported missing in the massive Uttarakhand floods and landslides after heavy rains pounded the hill state on June 15, leaving nearly 1,000 dead and scores stranded.
Kedarnath is the worst-affected in the flood fury, and authorities are racing against time to minimise risks of an epidemic outbreak there.

Railways minister Mallikarjun Kharge launched SMS-based ticketing system yesterday -how to book a rail ticket through SMS

IRCTC's ambitious SMS-based ticketing system is a reality now. Railways minister Mallikarjun Kharge launched this new system yesterday and said that the service aims to "empower the common man who does not have access to internet and cannot afford to buy smartphones."
The SMS-based ticketing system, a pilot project by IRCTC, will also effectively eliminate the menace of touts fleecing unsuspecting travellers at the time of booking tickets. Kharge added that this new system will prove especially beneficial to labourers and workers when booking tickets to their native towns. Such a system is apt for them since it is quick and hassle-free.
This SMS-based ticket service can be availed through two numbers - 139 and 5676714. Those looking to book tickets by sending an SMS to 139 will have to first register their mobile numbers with IRCTC and their banks. Over 25 banks are offering this facility at the moment. Users will then receive an MMID or Mobile Money Identifier and OTP or one time password from the bank for payment authorisation. This SMS-based service is available to all mobile subscribers.
To book the ticket, an SMS will have to be sent in the following format -
BOOK [TrainNo][FromStn.Code][ToStn.Code] [TravelDate (DDMM)][Class][Passenger-Name][Age][M/F]
Upon sending this SMS to 139 users will receive Transaction ID alongwith other details. To make the payment, they will have to send an SMS to 139 in the following format -
PAY [Transaction ID as received][IMPS][Your MMID as received from the bank][OTP ][IRCTCUserID]
Users can also book their tickets by sending an SMS to 5676714. They will have to first register their mobile number with IRCTC and m-wallet, and send an SMS to 5676714 in the following format -
START [irctc user Id]
To book the ticket, users will have to send an SMS to 5676714 in the following format -
BOOK[From stn.code],[to stn.code],[DDMMYY], [Trainno],[Class],[passenger name],[age],[M/F]
Once they have sent that SMS, users will receive the transaction number on their phones. A second SMS will have to be sent to make the payment. The format is as below -
"PAY [transaction no], MPAY, [m-PIN]" for authorizing payment through MPAY
Or
"PAY [mobileno],[mmid],[amount],[transaction Id],[OTP]" for authorizing payment through IMPS.
Once they've made the payment, users will receive a booking confirmation SMS on their phone.
The SMS-based ticketing service through BSNL will require users to have a BSNL SIM card, a Java-enabled phone and an Andhra Bank Prepaid card. This system in particular is a menu-based one, meaning the user will have to enter details in a step-by-step process. To register, they will have to first install the application and select the "Register" option to get the Mpin. To book tickets through BSNL, users will have to first click the BSNL Prepaid Card icon and select Ticketing > Train (IRCTC). They have to provide details of their journey such as the name of their starting and destination stations, train number, date of their travel, class, quota, and passenger details.

Fad-Loving Japan May Derail a Sony Smartphone

TOKYO — Sony’s Xperia Z smartphone, which went on sale in February, has already sold almost a million units by some estimates. But NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s largest mobile carrier, will soon stop selling it. The Xperia Z has not even hit the United States market yet: T-Mobile says the model will make its debut on its network in the coming weeks.

But it is already a has-been in Japan. DoCoMo has turned its attention to a new phone, the Sony Xperia A — a model with fewer features that has not won the stellar praise showered on the Z.
“It’s time for a new model,” said Mai Kariya, a DoCoMo representative in Tokyo. “We’re finished with the Xperia Z, and now focusing on the Xperia A.”

As Sony banks on smartphones to turn around its struggling electronics business, it faces an increasingly bothersome obstacle at home: the demands of Japan’s powerful cellphone carriers, which remain obsessed with constant model updates.
For years, Japan’s three largest mobile network companies have pressed phone makers here to update their handsets every three or four months, providing Japanese consumers a dazzling array of newfangled phones and features each season. Phones with digital TV broadcast receivers were once all the rage; a phone without it was never going to sell. Then it was thumbprint scans; you’d be hard pressed to find those on many phones today. The same is true of swiveling screens, and to a lesser extent, electronic wallets.

Suryanelli rape case: Court rejects plea against PJ Kurien

In a major relief for Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien, a sessions court in Kerala's Idukki district today dismissed a plea to make the Congress leader an accused in the Suryanelli rape case.
The case relates to a 16-year-old girl from Suryanelli in Idukki who was abducted in January 1996 and taken to various places and sexually exploited by at least 40 people.
In a strongly-worded statement, Judge K Abraham Mathew observed the previous and the latter pleas against Mr Kurien by the rape survivor are identical. The judge said there was no few fact or information that had come to light in the case. The court said since the earlier magistrate had found no ground to respond to offences other than rape, it will be difficult to entertain subsequent complaints.
Raising doubts about the intent of the petitioner, the court today observed, "The history of the litigation shows that the second complaint has all the characteristics of a vexatious litigation. "
The rape survivor wants the court to order an investigation against Mr Kurien on the basis of revelations made by Dharmarajan, a lawyer, who is the only person convicted in the case, and serving a life sentence.
In February, Dharmarajan had told regional TV channel 'Mathrabhumi' that he had driven the Congress leader to the Kumili Guest House where the gang-rape survivor alleges she was assaulted by Mr Kurien. However Dharmarajan retracted his statement a month ago.
The Court today said it "could not frame a charge or try an accused on the basis of a confession of a co-accused," especially when his two statements are diametrically opposite.
Police investigations in the past have found Mr Kurien to be not involved in this case and he was also exonerated by the High Court. The rape survivor has, however, maintained that Mr Kurien was one of the people who had raped her.

American student killed in Egypt taught English

An American college student stabbed to death during a protest in Egypt was in the country teaching English to children and improving his Arabic, according to a Facebook post on Saturday that appeared to be from his family. Andrew Pochter, 21, from Chevy Chase, Maryland, died after being stabbed in the chest in the coastal city of Alexandria, where anti-government protesters stormed an office of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood.It was not clear what Pochter was doing at the protest, but Egyptian officials said he was carrying a small camera. A statement on a Facebook page entitled "R.I.P Andrew Driscoll Pochter", which appeared to have been posted by his family, said Pochter had travelled to Alexandria for the summer to teach English to 7- and 8-year-old Egyptian children and to improve his Arabic. The page had also been posted on by colleagues of Pochter at the U.S. educational non-profit organisation where he was working. The family statement read: "He went to Egypt because he cared profoundly about the Middle East, and he planned to live and work there in the pursuit of peace and understanding." Pochter was looking forward to beginning his junior year at Ohio's Kenyon College and had planned to study abroad in Jordan next spring, according to the statement. He had also spent time in Morocco.
"Andrew was a wonderful young man looking for new experiences in the world and finding ways to share his talents while he learned," it said. A statement from Kenyon College said Pochter was interning in Alexandria with AMIDEAST, an American non-profit organisation that runs education and development programs in the Middle East and North America. A State Department spokeswoman confirmed that Andrew Pochter was killed on Friday in Alexandria. "We extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends," Marie Harf said. Harf said the U.S. embassy in Cairo and the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs were providing "appropriate consular assistance."
The Muslim Brotherhood said eight of its offices had been attacked on Friday, including the one in Alexandria. Officials said more than 70 people had been injured in the clashes in the city, adding to growing tension ahead of mass rallies on Sunday aimed at unseating President Mohamed Mursi.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Pennsylvania girl's double-lung transplant a success, family says

A 10-year-old Pennsylvania girl who battled for an organ donation successfully underwent a double lung transplant Wednesday and her family said doctors were "pleased" at her progress and prognosis.
Sarah Murnaghan, who suffers from severe cystic fibrosis, received new lungs from an adult donor in surgery at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, spokeswoman Tracy Simon said.
The Murnaghan family said it was "thrilled" to share the news that Sarah was out of surgery.
"Her doctors are very pleased with both her progress during the procedure and her prognosis for recovery," the family said in a statement.
During double-lung transplants, surgeons must open up the patient's chest. Complications can include rejection of the new lungs and infection.
Sarah went into surgery around 11 a.m. Wednesday, and the procedure lasted about six hours, her family said. She is expected to spend approximately two weeks recovering in hospital.
"The surgeons had no challenges resizing and transplanting the donor lungs -- the surgery went smoothly, and Sarah did extremely well," it said.
Sarah's family and the family of another cystic fibrosis patient at the same hospital challenged transplant policy that made children under 12 wait for pediatric lungs to become available or be offered lungs donated by adults only after adolescents and adults on the waiting list had been considered. They said pediatric lungs are rarely donated.
Sarah's health was deteriorating when a judge intervened in her case last week, giving her a chance at the much larger list of organs from adult donors. U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson ruled June 5 that Sarah and 11-year-old Javier Acosta, of New York City, should be eligible for adult lungs.
Critics warned there could be a downside to having judges intervene in the organ transplant system's established procedures. Lung transplants are difficult procedures, and some experts say child patients tend to have more trouble with them than adults do.
No other details about the donor lungs are known, including whether they came through the regular donor system or through public appeals.
Sarah's relatives, who are from Newtown Square, just west of Philadelphia, were "elated this day has come." However, they also expressed their gratitude to the family of the lung donor. 
"We also know our good news is another family's tragedy. That family made the decision to give Sarah the gift of life -- and they are the true heroes today."
The Murnaghan family received word about the donor lungs Tuesday night, family spokeswoman Maureen Garrity said.
Sarah's mother, Janet Murnaghan, said in a Facebook post that the family was "overwhelmed with emotions" and thanked all her supporters. She said the donor's family "has experienced a tremendous loss, may God grant them a peace that surpasses understanding."
The national organization that manages organ transplants, the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, added Sarah to the adult waiting list after the judge's ruling. Her transplant came two days before a hearing was scheduled on the family's request for a broader injunction.
The network has said 31 children under age 11 are on the waiting list for a lung transplant. Its executive committee held an emergency meeting this week but resisted making emergency rule changes for children under 12 who are waiting on lungs, instead creating a special appeal and review system to hear such cases.
Sarah's family "did have a legitimate complaint" about the rule that limited her access to adult lungs, said medical ethicist Arthur Caplan, of the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York.
"When the transplant community met, they didn't want to change that rule without really thinking carefully about it," he said. The appeals process that was established this week, he said, was "built on evidence, not on influence."
He added: "In general, the road to a transplant is still to let the system decide who will do best with scarce, lifesaving organs. And it's important that people understand that money, visibility, being photogenic ... are factors that have to be kept to a minimum if we're going to get the best use out of the scarce supply of donated cadaver organs."

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Northern Germany- swollen waters of the River Elbe reach a peak

People in the German city of Dresden have worked through the night to build up flood defences, as the swollen waters of the River Elbe reach a peak.

Long lines of volunteers could be seen on river banks, passing sandbags to each other, helping emergency crews.As of Wednesday, the Elbe was running some 7m (21ft) above its normal levels.
It's been caused by a wet spring and sudden heavy rainfall, leading to flooding across central Europe.So far 13 people have died in the floods across Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic.
Parts of Germany have seen the highest levels of flooding for centuries. In the town of Deggendorf in the state of Bavaria, hundreds of people were evacuated on Wednesday, some winched to safety by helicopter.The surging Elbe River crested on Thursday in the eastern German city of Dresden, sparing the historic city centre but engulfing wide areas of the Saxony capital.

Residents and emergency crews had worked through the night to fight the floods in Dresden. The German military and the national disaster team sent more support in a frantic effort to sandbag levees and riverbanks as floodwaters that have claimed 16 lives since last week surged north.
“Everybody’s afraid but the people are simply fantastic and sticking together,” said Dresden resident Silvia Fuhrmann, who had brought food and drinks to those building sandbag barriers.
 The Elbe hit 28 feet, 9 inches around midday well above its regular level of 6. 5 feet. Still, that was not high enough to damage city’s famous opera, cathedral and other buildings in its historic city centre, which was devastated in a flood in 2002.

Germany has 60,000 local emergency personnel and aid workers, as well as 25,000 federal disaster responders and 16,000 soldiers now fighting the floods.
Farther downstream, the town of Lauenburg just southwest of Hamburg evacuated 150 houses along the Elbe, n-tv news reported, as the floodwaters roared toward the North Sea.
In the south, the Bavarian city of Deggendorf was hit by a third levee break on Thursday, with floods gushing into neighbourhoods. Scores of homes remained underwater and authorities warned that a dam was still in danger of bursting.“It’s indescribably bad,” Bavarian Governor Horst Seehofer said upon visiting the area. “It’s beyond comparison.”

In the Saxony-Anhalt city of Bitterfeld, an attempt to blow open another levee to lower waters threatening the city along the Mulde River was unsuccessful.
Some 30,000 residents in nearby Halle were urged to evacuate, meanwhile, as the Saale River reached its highest level in 400 years.

In the Czech Republic, firefighters said some 700 Czech villages, towns and cities have been hit by flooding in the last few days and some 20,500 people had to be evacuated. In the country’s north, the water in the Elbe reached its highest level overnight and began to recede on Thursday.
n the Slovak capital of Bratislava, the Danube was still rising from the record levels it reached a day earlier, but authorities said protective barriers have held firm so far.

So far, the floods have killed eight people in the Czech Republic, five in Germany, two in Austria and one in Slovakia.Some 12,600 people have been evacuated in the state as a result of the floods, according to the European Commission.

Overall, nearly 30,000 people have been evacuated in Germany.
The floods are so widespread, the European Commission has warned it has run out of emergency money to help the countries affected.Rivers in the central Polish province of Lodz have also reached dangerously high levels.In Hungary, a flood on the Danube is expected to peak in the capital, Budapest, on Monday.

Fuel Efficient Vehicle: An effort for a greener future

As the oil reserves deplete around the world, a team from SRM University, Chennai has taken up the challenge to develop high fuel efficiency vehicle. Seven students, from various departments of engineering teamed up to from 'Infieon Supermileage' to compete against the best teams from Asia in the prestigious Shell Eco Marathon- Asia in July, 2013.
 Shell Eco-marathon is a platform that challenges students to design, build and drive the most energy-efficient car. At three events around the world hundreds of team compete to travel the furthest on the least amount of energy. Some achieve distances equivalent to driving from Paris to Moscow (that's 2,485 km or 1,544 miles) on a single litre of fuel. The current highest international record is held by a team from Europe at 4900 kmpl.The competition is held in three places spanning all the continents including Americas, Europe and Asia. The Asian version takes place at the famous Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia. The competition has stringent rules and regulations for higher safety which the vehicle needs to comply in order to get on the track for the event.
The team from SRM is led by a final year student Sandeep Ganesh who happens to be an automobile enthusiast. The team Infieon Supermileage will be using gasoline as its fuel. "The prototypes are three wheeled Vehicles delivering an ultra-high fuel efficiency due to a combination of aspects such as restricting the kerb weight up to 140kg to make the vehicle light, an aerodynamically aesthetic shell design, maintaining a constant speed(40km/hr) and a highly tuned engine, "claims Sandeep Ganesh.
The team consists of Sandeep Ganesh, Vivek Srinivas, Sayan Malakar, Shashank Rai, V. Ajith, Saurabh Srivastava and Rishabh Jain. The team which began in May 2012 has currently finished its vehicle and is undergoing rigorous testing before leaving to Malaysia later this June. The team sources its financial support primarily from the university and is looking forward to potential sponsors. "The team's primary targets are to compete in the competition building India's most fuel efficient prototype and to promote green driving through rigorous PR events and activities and educating the masses about fuel conservation and green driving." says Vivek, a team member.