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‘Love’ conquers all in Cannes

News4u - Entertainment  Desk :   “Love”, the wrenching tale of an elderly man caring for his dying wife, scooped top prize at the Cannes Film Festival on Sunday, handing a second Palme d’Or to Austria’s Michael Haneke.

The jury headed by Italian director Nanni Moretti announced the winner among the 22 films in the awards race at a star-studded gala in the French Riviera city that wrapped up a 12-day world cinema marathon.

Haneke’s duo of octogenarian French actors, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, bowled Cannes over in the tale of two retired music teachers whose adoring relationship is tested when she suffers a stroke.

Both actors climbed on stage to accept the award with Haneke, who dedicated it to the many people involved in the film — and to his wife of 30 years.

“This film is an illustration of the promise we made to each other, if either one of us finds ourselves in the situation that is described in the film,” the 70-year-old director told the audience.

Hands-down favourite to win, the French-language “Love” marked a journey into tender, intimate territory for a director better known for exposing the chilling secrets of the soul.

The Austrian took the Palme d’Or three years ago for a very different work, “The White Ribbon” a black-and-white study of malice in a German village on the eve of World War I, which some saw as a parable on the roots of Nazi savagery.

He joins a highly select club of two-time laureates, includingUS director Francis Ford Coppola, Denmark’s Bille August,Serbia’s Emir Kusturica, Japan’s Shohei Imamura and the Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne.

Cannes’ best actor award went to Danish heart-throb Mads Mikkelsen, searing as a man falsely accused of molesting a child in the psychological thriller “The Hunt”.

Best known to international audiences as Le Chiffre in 2006′s the James Bond sequel “Casino Royale”, Mikkelsen dedicated his prize to director Thomas Vinterberg, back in Cannes 14 years after the incest drama “Festen.”

Two Romanian actresses, Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur, shared the best actress prize for their roles in Cristian Mungiu’s “Beyond the Hills”, about a young nun and her friend who falls victim to deadly “exorcism”.

Mungiu, who also won this year’s screenplay prize, captured the Palme d’Or in 2007 for the Communist-era abortion drama “4 Years, 3 Months and 2 Days”.

Mexican Carlos Reygadas took best director prize for the baffling family drama “Post Tenebras Lux”, whose Latin title means “after darkness, light” and derives from the biblical Book of Job.

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India loss to Argentina, crash out of Azlan Shah title race

News4u - Sports Desk :  Five-time champions India’s title hopes came a cropper after they suffered a 2-3 defeat against Argentina in a crucial match of the Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament in Ipoh on Wednesday. 

India suffered from their inability to capitalise on openings and also feeble defense to allow Argentina to call the shots.

Two field goals by Matias Paredes (37th minute) and Santiago Montelli (38th) soon after the half-time gave Argentina the advantage and then Gonzalo Peillat (58th) converted a penalty corner to ensure a victory for the Pan American champions.

The Indians fought hard and reduced the margin twice through goals from Sardar Singh (48th minute) and V R Raghunath (61st minute), but an equaliser eluded them inspite of repeated attacks into the rival citadel.

India have now lost three of their five matches, logging just six points ahead of Thursday’s last league outing against Pakistan.

Argentina have boosted their tally to nine points with three successive wins after starting with two losses.

The first session was mostly confined to the midfield with both teams often losing possession on top of the rival circle.

India created two openings from the left flank, but were unable to capitalise on them.

India’s first penalty corner in the sixth minute was also wasted as Sandeep Singh’s rising flick was deflected out by a defender.



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Bikram Singh assumes charge as new Army Chief

News4u - News Desk : Gen Bikram Singh, a veteran infantry officer, on Thursday took over as the 25th Chief of the Indian Army succeeding Gen V K Singh whose 26-month tenure was mired by controversies.

59-year-old Gen Bikram Singh will have a tenure of two years and three months in the top post.

Prior to his appointment as Army Chief, Gen Bikram was commanding the Kolkata-based Eastern Army Command.

He has held several important appointments in counter insurgency areas as the Corps Commander of Srinagar-based 15 Corps and Akhnoor-based 10 Division as Major General.

The officer, better known as ‘Bikki’ to his friends, was commissioned into the Sikh Light Infantry regiment on 31st March, 1972 after attending the prestigious Indian Military Academy (IMA).

At the IMA, he held the appointment of battalion cadet adjutant and was awarded the Jammu and Kashmir Rifles gold medal for ‘tactics and leadership’ and the Shriganesh Trophy.

He was awarded the ‘Commando Dagger’ and the ‘Best in Tactics’ trophy during his young officers’ course at Infantry School.

He also served as an instructor at the Commando Wing of the Infantry School in Belgaum.

The officer was the face of the Army during the Kargil war when he was serving in the Military Operations Directorate in New Delhi and used to brief the media about the progress in operations to drive out enemy troops from Indian territory.

As a brigadier, Singh attended the US Army War College in Pennsylvania and has served in two assignments with the United Nations in Central America and as the deputy force commander and GOC of Eastern Division in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Gen Bikram Singh is married to Surjeet Kaur and the couple have two children.

Bikram Singh assumes charge as new Army Chief

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Assange loses extradition appeal against extradition

News4u - News Desk : Britain’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to Sweden to face accusations of sex offences.

“The request for Assange’s extradition has been lawfully made and his appeal against extradition is accordingly is dismissed,” said Supreme Court president Nicholas Phillips.

Justices reached their judgement by a majority of five to two, Lord Phillips told the hearing. 40-year-old Assange has spent the better part of last two years fighting attempts to send him to Sweden, where he is accused of sex crimes.

Australian-born Assange denies wrongdoing, saying the sex was consensual, but has refused to go to Sweden, claiming he doesn’t believe he’ll get a fair trial there. Assange’s lawyers said they may appeal against the judgement. 

Julian Assange
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US not willing to buy Pak’s new story on Afridi

News4u-News Desk-Seeking a clarification from Pakistan, the US said that it did not believe in the “story” that a Pakistani doctor, who helped CIA track Osama bin Laden, was sentenced to 33-years in jail for links with the banned Lashkar-e-Islam militant group.

“We do not believe in this new story (on Dr Afridi),” a senior Administration official said, adding that the State Department has sought clarification from Pakistan on this confusing signal coming from the country.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said that he does not agree with the argument that Afridi had links with certain terrorist groups.

The tribal court convicted Shakeel Afridi of maintaining close links with the Lashkar-e-Islam, which operates in Bara and Tirah areas of Khyber Agency, and not for his involvement with the American spy agency, media reports earlier said.

The State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, told reporters the US has sought clarification from Pakistan on this issue.

“We are actually seeking clarity on those latest reports. I’m aware of what you’re talking about, so we’ve raised those with the government of Pakistan,” he said.

“It seems to contrast previous reports about his conviction and the basis of it, so we’re trying to get clarity,” Toner said when asked about the new reason being given by Pakistan for sentencing Afridi.

“I mean you know other than raising it very publicly as we’ve done via Secretary (of State, Hillary) Clinton and raising it consistently in our meetings with Pakistani government officials,” he said.

“It’s unclear to me what else we could do for his case, but we certainly take it very seriously, the secretary’s very clear in her remarks saying that there’s not any basis for holding Afridi,” Toner added.

US and Pakistan Flag

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‘World No Tobacco Day’ being observed today

News4u-News Desk-‘World No Tobacco Day’ is observed every year on May 31 to raise awareness about the lethal effects of tobacco and to encourage the public to abstain from all forms of tobacco consumption.

The theme for this year is “Tobacco industry interference.” By selecting this theme, World Health Organisation, WHO aims to nip the problem of smoking in the bud by highlighting the tobacco industry’s brazen and increasingly aggressive attempts to counteract global tobacco control efforts.

Tobacco use is one of the leading preventable causes of death. The global tobacco epidemic kills nearly 6 million people each year, of which more than 6 lakh people are exposed to second-hand smoke. Unless acted upon, it will kill up to 8 million people by 2030, of which more than 80 per cent will live in low- and middle-income countries.

PB West Asia correspondent reports that Dubai is set to mark the Day by banning the sale of tobacco for 24 hours. More than 200 companies - including restaurants, gas stations, and supermarkets - have decided not to sell tobacco products for the day.


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Mixed response to bandh against petrol price hike

News4u - News Desk : The nationwide bandh called by the NDA and Left parties to protest the petrol price hike on Thursday evoked a mixed response amid incidents of stone pelting, arson and road blockades in Karnataka, Maharashtra and West Bengal.

In the national capital, the bandh did not evoke much response though party supporters blocked traffic in some places.

Small shops were seen open in many areas in the morning while commuters complained that there were less autos on roads as a number of auto and taxi unions have joined the protest.

In the financial capital, Mumbai, bandh supporters pelted stones at buses in two suburban areas of the city.

Elsewhere in Maharashtra, activists pelted stones at 13 buses in Pune, 10 in Nagpur and Thane districts and stopped some buses by blocking roads in Satara district
Local trains and buses were plying as usual in most parts of Mumbai.

The bandh disrupted normal life in parts of BJP-ruled Karnataka where bandh supporters set on fire three buses and stoned about a dozen others forcing authorities to withdraw bus services in the city.

Public transport was hit and shops and business establishments remained shut in several parts of Karnataka.

There was no impact of the bandh in Kerala and a lukewarm response to the stir in Tamil Nadu.

In Bihar, NDA Convener and JD-U national president Sharad Yadav and BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain were among 800 activists taken into custody while enforcing the bandh.

Yadav, who along with 700 odd supporters took out processions in Saharsa town to enforce the call, was taken into custody.

Hussain, the BJP National Spokesman, and others were detained in Bhagalpur town while trying to enforce the bandh.

Yadav demanded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh resign immediately for the “failure” of his government to control the spiralling prices of petroleum products and essential commodities.

In West Bengal, bandh supporters blocked some roads in some areas and squatted on railway tracks.

Bandh supporters blocked the Howrah Bridge, which connects the metropolis to the Howrah district.

They also blocked roads at Chapadali more in Barasat, in Bankura district, Budge Budge and some other places, police said.

However, buses, cars, taxis, trams were running in the metropolis though in less number. Normal life was affected in Punjab due to the strike.

Commercial establishments in Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Batala, Kapurthala, Pathankot and Amritsar remained closed, though factories and other industrial units were operational.

The impact of bandh was also visible on the transport network with buses including private ones remaining off the road, causing inconvenience to people, as per reports pouring in from various districts including Patiala, Gurdaspur, Pathankot and Kapurthala.

However, in Chandigarh, shops and commercial establishments remained open and buses were plying as usual.

In Congress-led Haryana, the bandh call did not evoke much response with shops and commercial establishments remaining open at most of the places in the state.

Markets were closed in major cities of Rajasthan and private buses off the road due to the bandh.

The unprecedented hike in petrol prices has helped the Left and the Right to make common cause for the nationwide protest, described by BJP and its allies as Bharat Bandh and by Left as All India Protest Day.

This is the second time that the BJP, Left and other non-Congress parties will be coordinating their agitations since the last Lok Sabha elections to give the impression of a wider Opposition unity on issues concerning people.

A similar agitation against petrol price hike had happened on July 5, 2010.

Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party, which is supporting the UPA government from outside, has also given the bandh call as has BJD in Odisha.


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Cabinet approves new telecom policy

News4u-Business Desk-The government on Thursday cleared National Telecom Policy 2012 that aims to abolish roaming charges thus allowing mobile phone subscribers to use same number across country without having to pay extra charges.

“Target is one nation full mobile number portability and work towards one nation free roaming,” Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters after the Cabinet gave approval to NTP.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) will now start process to implement full mobile number portability allowing users to retain their existing number at the time of changing their service providers across any state in the country.

However, consumers will have to wait for some time before roaming charges are abolished and one-number-one-nation concept implement as DoT will first work out modalities of the new scheme before it is brought into force.

The NTP 2012 envisages increasing penetration of telecom services in rural area from current level of around 39 to 70 per cent by 2017 and 100 per cent by the year 2020.

Under the new policy broadband speed has been increased to minimum of 2 megabit per second (mbps). This change will come into force with immediate effect.

With the new policy getting approved, telecom licences have been delinked from spectrum which was earlier bundled with the licences.

The NTP 2012 will allow operators to provide services based on any technology by using airwaves and will not restrict them to use it for particular service using any specific frequency band.

At present, there are frequencies which are specifically used for providing GSM or CDMA services as per the permit given to the companies.

3G Tower

Spectrum Tower


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5 killed, 50 injured in Doon Express derailment

News4u - News Desk : Five persons were killed and 50 others injured when seven bogies-five sleeper and two general coaches-of Howrah-Dehradun Doon Express derailed near Mahrawa station in Jaunpur on Thursday.

“Five persons have been killed and 50 injured in the accident,” Superintendent of Police (SP), Jaunpur, Akash Kulhari told a news agency.

The accident took place near Mahrawa under the Lucknow Division of Northern Railway at 1.13 PM when five sleeper (S4 to S8) and two general coaches derailed, Railway Ministry spokesman Anil Saxena said in Delhi.

“While four of the coaches got tilted, three of them derailed. So the coaches which are affected are the 11th onwards from the engine, upto the 17th coach,” he said.

The region, where accident took place, does not have good road connectivity. Relief and rescue teams have been rushed to the spot from Varanasi and Lucknow, a senior official said.

“We have directed the district magistrate to provide essential medical services. All nearby hospitals have been alerted to provide timely medical aid to the affected people”, ADG Railways Gurdarshan Singh said, adding directives have also been issued to make arrangement of water tankers and eatables for those stranded at the spot.

He said Principal Secretary (Home) R M Srivastava has directed UP Roadways buses to ferry people from the affected area.

On the possible cause for the accident, Railway Board member A P Mishra said that exact cause has to be ascertained. It could have been “due to excessive heat causing track expansion or some miscreant activity,” he said, adding that the railway track could be cleared by tomorrow morning.

“Assistant Loco Pilot has infomed railway officials that he had seen some obstruction in the track and he tried to apply brake. While 10 coaches passed, the last seven bogies derailed”, Mishra said, adding that Railway Minister Mukul Roy is likely to reach the spot tonight.

On May 22 in Penukonda in Andhra Pradesh, 25 passengers were killed, 16 of them charred, and 43 injured when the Bangalore-bound Hampi Express rammed into a stationary goods train after its driver apparently overshot the signal near the station.

train accident

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UN Security Council discusses Syria crisis

News4u - News Desk :  The UN Security Council on Wednesday held talks on the Syria crisis as two massacres in five days hardened international calls for action.

Diplomats at the closed briefing said that UN officials had given a “somber” account of a massacre in Houla last week and the discovery of more bodies yesterday at Assukar near Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria.

At least 108 people were killed in Houla. UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous gave the council details of the 13 bodies found at Assukar - nearly all killed execution-style, diplomats said.

The council was also briefed by Jean-Marie Guehenno, deputy to UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, who held meetings with Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on Tuesday.

Guehenno said there was a need for “a genuine political process to break the cycle of violence” in Syria, according to one diplomat at the meeting.

Germany’s UN ambassador Peter Wittig said that the Houla massacre last week should have been “an eye-opener” for some members of the 15-member council.

“We hope we can take the discussion forward today,” he told reporters before the meeting started. Ambassadors said they would be looking for signs of political progress or resistance from Assad after Annan’s latest meetings.

Wittig said the council should consider whether the UN observer mission in Syria is big enough, along with what he called “clear violations” of UN Security Council resolutions on Syria and the need for “accountability” for crimes committed there.

There are currently about 290 unarmed military observers in Syria monitoring Assad’s compliance with Annan’s six-point peace plan. Annan has said that Assad has failed to abide by any of the points.


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