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Background Note: Senegal

News4u-News Desk- These facts & figures have been forwarded by The US Department of States for general information.

PROFILE

Geography
Area: 196,840 sq. km. (76,000 sq. mi.), about the size of South Dakota.
Cities: Capital-Dakar. Other cities-Diourbel, Kaolack, Kolda, Louga, Rufisque, Saint-Louis, Thies, Tambacounda, Ziguinchor, Fatick, Matam, Kedougou, Sedhiou.
Terrain: Flat or rising to foothills.
Climate: Tropical/Sahelian-desert or grasslands in the north, heavier vegetation in the south and southeast.

People
Nationality: Noun and adjective-Senegalese (sing. and pl.).
Population (2010 est.): 12,323,252.
Annual population growth rate: 2.5%.
Ethnic groups: Wolof 43%; Fulani (Peulh) and Toucouleur 23%; Serer 15%; Diola, Mandingo, and others 19%.
Religions: Muslim 95%, Christian 4%, traditional 1%.
Languages: French (official), Wolof, Pulaar, Serer, Diola, Mandingo, Soninke.
Education: Attendance-primary 75.8%, middle school 26.5%, secondary 11% (estimated). Literacy-59.1%.
Health: Infant mortality rate-57.7/1,000. Life expectancy-59.38 years.
Work force (5.53 million): Agriculture-70% (subsistence or cash crops). Wage earners (350,000): private sector 61%, government and parapublic 39%.

Government
Type: Republic.
Independence: April 4, 1960.
Constitution: March 3, 1963.
Branches: Executive-President (chief of state, commander in chief of armed forces). Legislative-bicameral parliament with a 150-member National Assembly and a 100-member Senate. Judicial-Constitutional Council (appointed by the president from senior magistrates and eminent academics and attorneys), Court of Final Appeals, Council of State.
Administrative subdivisions: 14 regions, 34 departments, 320 rural councils.
Political parties: 73 political parties are registered, the most important of which are the Democratic Party of Senegal (PDS), Rewmi, Socialist Party (PS), the Alliance of Forces for Progress (AFP), “AND JEF/PADS”, the Union for Democratic Renewal (URD), “JEF JEL”, the National Democratic Rally (RND), the Independence and Labor Party (PIT), and the Alliance for the Republic-Yakaar.
Suffrage: Universal adult, over 18.
Central government budget (2009): Revenues-$2.89 billion; expenditures-$3.86 billion.
Defense (2007): $133 million.
National holiday: April 4, Independence Day.

Economy
GDP (2009): $12.6 billion.
Real annual growth rate (2010): 3.9%.
Per capita GDP (2010): $1,900 (purchasing power parity).
Inflation rate (consumer prices, 2009): -0.9%.
Natural resources: Fish, peanuts, phosphate, iron ore, gold, titanium, oil and gas, cotton.
Agriculture represents 12.4% of GDP. Products-fish, peanuts, millet, sorghum, manioc, rice, cotton, vegetables, flowers, fruit, livestock, forestry.
Industry: 19.8% of GDP, of which manufacturing and construction compromise 16.3% and energy/mining represent 3.5%. Types-fish and agricultural product processing; light manufacturing; mining; and construction.
Services: 55.6% of GDP, of which transport, warehousing, and communications represent 13.4% of GDP and trade 16.6% of GDP.
Trade (2008): Exports-$2.05 billion: fish products, peanuts, phosphates, cotton. Major markets-Mali 19.6%, India 7.2%, France 5.5%, The Gambia 5.4%, Italy 4.9%, U.S. 0.5%. Imports-$4.26 billion: food, consumer goods, petroleum, machinery, transport equipment, petroleum products, computer equipment. Major suppliers-France 19.7%, U.K. 15.2%, China 6.7%, Belgium 4.6%, Thailand 4.4%, Netherlands 4.1%, U.S. 2%.
Exchange rate: African Financial Community franc (CFA) is fixed to the euro. 656 CFA = 1 euro. 438 CFA = U.S. $1.
Economic aid: The United States provided about $85.1 million in assistance to Senegal in fiscal year 2009, including $2.1 million for peace and security, $2.4 million for governing justly and democratically, $49.2 million for investing in people, and $31.4 million for economic growth.

GEOGRAPHY
Senegal is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean, Mauritania, Mali, Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau. The Gambia penetrates more than 320 kilometers (200 mi.) into Senegal. Well-defined dry and humid seasons result from northeast winter winds and southwest summer winds. Dakar’s annual rainfall of about 61 centimeters (24 in.) occurs between June and October when maximum temperatures average 27oC (82oF); December to February minimum temperatures are about 17oC (63oF). Interior temperatures are higher than along the coast, and rainfall increases substantially farther south, exceeding 150 centimeters (60 in.) annually in some areas.

PEOPLE
About 75% of Senegal’s population is rural. In rural areas, density varies from about 77 per square kilometer (200 per sq. mi.) in the west-central region to 2 per square kilometer (5 per sq. mi.) in the arid eastern section. About 50,000 Europeans (mostly French) and Lebanese reside in Senegal, mainly in the cities. French is the official language but is used regularly only by the literate minority. All Senegalese speak an indigenous language, of which Wolof has the largest usage.

HISTORY
Archaeological findings throughout the area indicate that Senegal was inhabited in prehistoric times. Islam established itself in the Senegal River valley in the 11th century; 95% of Senegalese today are Muslims. In the 13th and 14th centuries, the area came under the influence of the Mandingo empires to the east; the Jolof Empire of Senegal also was founded during this time.

In January 1959, Senegal and the French Soudan merged to form the Mali Federation, which became fully independent on June 20, 1960, as a result of the independence and the transfer of power agreement signed with France on April 4, 1960. Due to internal political difficulties, the Federation broke up on August 20, 1960. Senegal and Soudan (renamed the Republic of Mali) proclaimed independence. Leopold Sedar Senghor, internationally known poet, politician, and statesman, was elected Senegal’s first President in August 1960.

After the breakup of the Mali Federation, President Senghor and Prime Minister Mamadou Dia governed together under a parliamentary system. In December 1962, their political rivalry led to an attempted coup by Prime Minister Dia. Although this was put down without bloodshed, Dia was arrested and imprisoned, and Senegal adopted a new constitution that consolidated the President’s power. In 1980, President Senghor decided to retire from politics, and he handed over power in 1981 to his handpicked successor, Abdou Diouf. Abdou Diouf was President from 1981-2000. He encouraged broader political participation, reduced government involvement in the economy, and widened Senegal’s diplomatic engagements, particularly with other developing nations. Domestic politics on occasion spilled over into street violence, border tensions, and a violent separatist movement in the southern region of the Casamance. Nevertheless, Senegal’s commitment to democracy and human rights strengthened. Diouf served four terms as President. In the presidential election of 2000, he was defeated, in a free and fair election, by opposition leader Abdoulaye Wade. Senegal experienced its second peaceful transition of power, and its first from one political party to another. Parliamentary and presidential elections were held in 2007.

GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Senegal is a secular republic with a strong presidency, bi-cameral legislature, reasonably independent judiciary, and multiple political parties. Senegal is one of the few African states that has never experienced a coup d’etat. As noted above, power was transferred peacefully, if not altogether democratically, from Senghor to Diouf in 1981, and once again, this time in fully democratic elections, from Diouf to Wade in March 2000.

The president is elected by universal adult suffrage to a 5-year term. The bicameral parliament has a National Assembly with 150 members who are elected separately from the president, and a Senate with 100 members of which 35 are elected and 65 are chosen by the president. The Socialist Party dominated the National Assembly until April 2001, when in free and fair legislative elections President Wade’s coalition won a majority (89 of 120 seats). The Cour de Cassation (Highest Appeals Court, equivalent to the U.S. Supreme Court) and the Constitutional Council, the justices of which are named by the president, are the nation’s highest tribunals. Senegal is divided into 14 administrative regions, each headed by a governor appointed by and responsible to the president. The law on decentralization, which came into effect in January 1997, distributed significant central government authority to regional assemblies.

Senegal’s principal political party was for 40 years the Socialist Party (PS). Its domination of political life came to an end in March 2000, when Abdoulaye Wade, the leader of the Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS) and leader of the opposition for more than 25 years, won the presidency. Under the terms of the 2001 constitution, future presidents will serve for 5 years and be limited to two terms. Wade was the last President to be elected to a 7-year term.

On February 25, 2007 President Abdoulaye Wade (pronounced “wahd”) won 56% of the vote in a field of 15 candidates, with 73% of registered voters going to the polls. Twice-postponed parliamentary elections took place on June 3, 2007, but most of the major opposition parties boycotted them, allowing the ruling Senegalese Democratic party (PDS) and its allies to capture 131 of the 150 seats in the National Assembly. In 2000 and 2007, Wade won open, peaceful, and highly competitive elections due to a strong Senegalese national desire for change after nearly 40 years of Socialist Party governments. Having come under tough scrutiny and criticism for not having realized many of his campaign promises, he has undertaken major public works projects that benefited him politically. In the March 22, 2009 local elections held nationwide, the opposition made substantial gains, including the defeat of Wade’s own son, Karim, in Dakar.

President Wade has advanced a liberal agenda for Senegal, including privatizations and other market-opening measures. He has a strong interest in raising Senegal’s regional and international profile. The country, nevertheless, has limited means with which to implement ambitious ideas. The liberalization of the economy is proceeding, but at a slow pace. Senegal continues to play a significant role in regional and international affairs, including its successful brokering with the African Union of the June 4, 2009 agreement among the three main parties to Mauritania’s crisis regarding a return to constitutional order in Nouakchott.

Principal Government Officials
President of the Republic-Abdoulaye Wade
President of the Senate-Pape Diop
President of the National Assembly-Mamadou Seck
Prime Minister-Souleymane Ndene Ndiaye
Ambassador to the United States-Fatou Danielle Diagne
Ambassador to the United Nations-Paul Badji

Senegal maintains an embassy in the United States at 2112 Wyoming Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008 (temporary tel. 202-450-1659), and a Mission to the United Nations at 392 Fifth Avenue, 9th floor, New York, NY 10018 (tel. 212-517-9030).

ECONOMY
The former capital of French West Africa, Senegal is a semi-arid country located on the westernmost point of Africa. Predominantly rural and with limited natural resources, the country earns foreign exchange from fish, phosphates, peanuts, tourism, and services. Its economy is highly vulnerable to variations in rainfall and changes in world commodity prices. Senegal depends heavily on foreign assistance, which in 2007 represented about 23% of overall government spending-including both current expenditures and capital investments-or African Financial Community franc (CFA) 315 billion (U.S. $630 million).

The fishing sector is Senegal’s export leader. In 2007, fishery products contributed 22% of Senegal’s export earnings and employed about 15% of the population. Industrial fishing operations struggle with high costs, more efficient Asian and European Union (EU) competitors, and ineffective patrolling of its territorial waters against poachers. Receipts from tourism, the second major foreign exchange earner, contribute between 4.6%-6.8% of GDP annually. Senegal has about 320 tourist class hotels, and the sector employs about 100,000 people serving over 700,000 tourists annually. Agriculture employs about 70% of the economically active populace, while groundnut cultivation (which in 1960 had provided 80% of Senegal’s export earnings) engages about 10% of the population and is done on 50% of sown land in rotation with millet and sorghum. Mining, especially of phosphates, employs about 33,000 people and provides about 15% of export value.

Senegal’s Agency for the Promotion of Investment (APIX) plays an important role in the government’s foreign investment program. Its objective is to increase the investment rate from its current level of 20.6% to 30%. Currently, there are no restrictions on the transfer or repatriation of capital and income earned, or investment financed with convertible foreign exchange. Economic assistance comes largely from France, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the United States. The European Union, the African Development Bank, China, Canada, Spain, Japan, and Germany also fund significant aid programs.

Senegal has well-developed though costly port facilities, an international airport serving 28 international airlines that serves as a regional hub, and a reasonable telecommunications infrastructure, including a fiber optics backbone and cellular phone penetration approaching 15% of the population.

As of 2008, U.S. foreign direct investment stock in Senegal totaled $18 million. Total bilateral trade in 2008 was $155 million, with the United States exporting $137 million in goods and importing $18 million of goods.

Remittances in 2007 reached $902 million, which is triple the amount of foreign direct investment.

DEFENSE
Senegal has well-trained and disciplined armed forces consisting of about 17,000 personnel in the army, air force, navy, and gendarmerie. The Senegalese military force receives most of its training, equipment, and support from France and the United States. Germany also provides support but on a smaller scale. Military noninterference in political affairs has contributed to Senegal’s stability since independence.

Senegal has participated in many international and regional peacekeeping missions. Its history of participation in peacekeeping is impressive. Most recently, Senegal provided peacekeeping forces for the African Union (AU) mission in Darfur, Sudan (AMIS), the UN mission in Liberia (UNIMIL), and the UN mission in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI), where Lieutenant General Abdoulaye Fall, who is now Chief of Defense of the Senegalese Armed Forces, was the Force Commander. In 2000, Senegal sent a battalion to the Democratic Republic of Congo to participate in MONUC, the UN peacekeeping mission, and agreed to deploy a U.S.-trained battalion to Sierra Leone to participate in UNAMSIL, another UN peacekeeping mission. A Senegalese contingent was deployed on a peacekeeping mission to the Central African Republic in 1997, and in 1994, Senegal sent a battalion-sized force to Rwanda to participate in the UN peacekeeping mission there. In 1992 Senegal sent 1,500 men to the ECOMOG peacekeeping group in Liberia, and in 1991, it was the only Sub-Saharan nation to send a contingent to participate in Operation Desert Storm in the Middle East.

In August 1981, the Senegalese military was invited into The Gambia by President Dawda Kairaba Jawara to put down a coup attempt. In August 1989, Senegalese-Gambian military cooperation, which began with the joint Senegalese-Gambian efforts during the 1981 coup attempt, ceased with the dissolution of the Senegambian Confederation. Senegal intervened in the Guinea-Bissau civil war in 1998 at the request of former President Vieira.

FOREIGN RELATIONS
President Senghor advocated close relations with France and negotiation and compromise as the best means of resolving international differences. To a large extent, the two succeeding Presidents have carried on Senghor’s policies and philosophies. Senegal has long supported functional integration among French-speaking West African states through the West African Economic and Monetary Union. Senegal has a high profile in many international organizations and was a member of the UN Security Council in 1988-89. It was elected to the UN Commission on Human Rights in 1997. Friendly to the West, especially to France and to the United States, Senegal also is a vigorous proponent of more assistance from developed countries to the Third World.

Senegal enjoys mostly cordial relations with its neighbors. Progress has been made on many fronts with Mauritania to include border security, resource management, economic integration, and the return of an estimated 30,000 Afro-Mauritanian refugees living in Senegal.

U.S.-SENEGALESE RELATIONS
Senegal enjoys an excellent relationship with the United States. The Government of Senegal is known and respected for its able diplomats and has often supported the U.S. in the United Nations, including with troop contributions for peacekeeping activities. The United States maintains friendly relations with Senegal and provides considerable economic and technical assistance. About 300 Senegalese students come to the United States each year for study. President Diouf paid his first official visit to Washington, DC, in August 1983 and traveled several times to the U.S. thereafter. Senegal was President George W. Bush’s first stop in his July 2003 visit to Africa. In June 2001, President Wade met President Bush at the White House. Senegal hosted the Second African-African American Summit in 1995. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton began her trip to Africa in March 1997 with a visit to Senegal, and President Bill Clinton visited Senegal in 1998. Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner visited Senegal in August 2001. Foreign Minister Gadio met Secretary of State Colin Powell in September and November 2001. Senegal took a strong position against terrorism in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the U.S., and in October 2001 hosted a conference establishing the African Pact Against Terrorism. On July 20, 2005, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice attended the fourth annual African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum held in Dakar, Senegal. That year’s Forum focused on increasing investment initiatives and facilitating economic and political development in Africa. In June 2007, First Lady Laura Bush made Senegal her first stop during a four-country Africa tour in support of the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) implements the U.S. Government’s development assistance program. USAID’s strategy focuses on promoting economic growth/private sector development by expanding microfinance and business development services and commercializing natural and non-traditional products; improving local delivery of services and sustainable use of resources; increasing use of decentralized health services; and improving middle school education, especially for girls. In addition, there is a conflict resolution and rehabilitation program to improve conditions for peace in Senegal’s two southern regions known as the “Casamance”.

The Peace Corps program in Senegal has approximately 150 volunteers serving in agriculture, forestry, health, and small business development. The U.S. Embassy’s Cultural Affairs Section administers the Fulbright, Humphrey, and International Visitor exchange programs. The Fulbright teacher, researcher, and lecturer programs are two-way exchanges; hence the section also supports American grantees in Senegal during their stay. In addition to exchanges, the section organizes numerous programs for the Senegalese public including U.S. speaker programs, fine arts programs, film festivals, and a book club. Finally, the section organizes an annual regional colloquium for American Studies professionals, journalists, and civic leaders from over 15 countries in Africa.

On September 16, 2009, Senegal signed a $540 million compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) for road rehabilitation and food security initiatives in some of the poorest regions of Senegal.

Principal U.S. Officials
Ambassador-Marcia S. Bernicat
Deputy Chief of Mission-Robert Yamate
USAID Director-Kevin Mullally
Peace Corps Director-Christopher Hendrick
Defense Agency Chief-COL Matthew Sousa
Political Counselor-David Whiting
Economic Officer-Steve Perry
Public Affairs Officer-Robin Diallo
Consular Officer-Monica Sledjeski

The local address of the U.S. Embassy in Senegal is U.S. Embassy, B.P. 49, Ave. Jean XXIII, Dakar, Senegal.

TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State’s Consular Information Program advises Americans traveling and residing abroad through Country Specific Information, Travel Alerts, and Travel Warnings. Country Specific Information exists for all countries and includes information on entry and exit requirements, currency regulations, health conditions, safety and security, crime, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. Travel Alerts are issued to disseminate information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas that pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel to a certain country because the situation is dangerous or unstable.

For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet web site at http://www.travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Alerts, and Travel Warnings can be found. Consular Affairs Publications, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a safe trip abroad, are also available at http://www.travel.state.gov. For additional information on international travel, see http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Travel/International.shtml.

The Department of State encourages all U.S. citizens traveling or residing abroad to register via the State Department’s travel registration website or at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an emergency and will enable you to receive up-to-date information on security conditions.

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada or the regular toll line 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada.

The National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of State’s single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport information. Telephone: 1-877-4-USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778); TDD/TTY: 1-888-874-7793. Passport information is available 24 hours, 7 days a week. You may speak with a representative Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Eastern Time, excluding federal holidays.

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) and a web site at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/default.aspx give the most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. The CDC publication “Health Information for International Travel” can be found at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/contentYellowBook.aspx.

Senegal

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Yahoo CEO’s resume is ‘fudged’

News4u - Business Desk :SAN FRANCISCO: A disgruntled Yahoo shareholder questioned the qualifications and integrity of recently hired CEO Scott Thompsonafter exposing a misrepresentation about the executive’s education.

The fabrication confirmed Thursday by Yahoo Inc gives New York hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb more artillery as he tries to topple a board of directors favored by Thompson, who became CEO of the troubled Internet company four months ago.

Loeb, whose fund Third Point owns a 5.8 per cent stake in Yahoo, gained more leverage when he discovered Thompson doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree in computer science from a small college in Easton, Massachusetts, as Yahoo stated in a regulatory filing last week.

Thompson only has an accounting degree from Stonehill College, an accomplishment that Yahoo also listed in the filing. The accounting degree was the only one listed in Thompson’s resume last year by eBay Inc when he was still running that company’s PayPal payment service. He graduated in 1979, according to Stonehill’s website.

Yahoo confirmed Thompson’s credentials had been exaggerated in the recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company, which is based in Sunnyvale, California, brushed off the distortion as an “inadvertent error.”

But Loeb pounced on the misinformation as a violation of Yahoo’s code of ethics and called for an independent investigation to determine whether Thompson had misled the company’s board about his technology credentials. He also cited the mix-up as an example of Yahoo’s poor corporate governance.

“If Mr Thompson embellished his academic credentials we think that it 1) undermines his credibility as a technology expert and 2) reflects poorly on the character of the CEO who has been tasked with leading Yahoo at this critical juncture,” Loeb wrote in a letter to Yahoo’s board on Thursday. “Now more than ever Yahoo investors need a trustworthy CEO.”

In the past, other companies have suspended or fired executives who were caught lying on their resumes. Yahoo hired Thompson to reverse years of financial lethargy that set in at the company even as more advertising shifted to the Internet. The funk has weighed on Yahoo’s stock, which has been hovering between $10 and $20 for most of the last three years. Yahoo shares fell 27 cents to close at $15.40 on Thursday. That’s well below the $33 per share that stockholders could have gotten in May 2008 if the board had accepted a takeover offer fromMicrosoft Corp.

The company stood behind Thompson in its statement. “This in no way alters that fact that Mr Thompson is a highly qualified executive with a successful track record leading large consumer technology companies,” Yahoo said. “Under Mr Thompson’s leadership, Yahoo is moving forward to grow the company and drive shareholder value.”

Tensions between Loeb and Thompson escalated since late March when Yahoo appointed three new directors to its board. In doing so, Yahoo snubbed Loeb, who had been lobbying for a board seat along with three allies who he believes have the skills necessary to help Yahoo rebound from its long-running struggles. At the time, Thompson made it clear that he and the Yahoo committee overseeing the search for new directors had concluded Loeb wasn’t the best candidate.

Loeb is waging a campaign to persuade Yahoo’s shareholders to elect him and his allies to the board at the company’s annual meeting. The date of that meeting still hasn’t been set. Besides ripping Thompson, Loeb also sought to discredit Patti Hart, one of the Yahoo directors he wants bounced from the board. Hart led the committee that recommended Yahoo’s new appointments to the board.

In his letter, Loeb noted that Yahoo’s recent SEC filing says Hart holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing and economics from Illinois State University. In its response, Yahoo clarified Hart received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with specialties in marketing and economics.

Thompson, 54, has mostly cut costs to boost profits since taking over as Yahoo’s CEO. Last month, he laid off about 2,000 employees, or 14 per cent of the workforce, in the biggest payroll purge in Yahoo’s 17-year history. He also disclosed plans to close about 50 Yahoo services that haven’t been attracting enough users or generating enough revenue.

He has made modest progress on other financial fronts. Yahoo registered its first year-over-year increase in quarterly net revenue since 2008 during the three months ending in March.

Even though he doesn’t have a computer science degree, Thompson has a background in technology. He served as PayPal’s chief technology officer for three years before being promoted to the payment service’s president in 2008. He also previously worked as chief technology officer at credit- and debit-card processor Visa USA.AP

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Team Anna did not dishonour national flag: Supreme Court

News4u - News Desk : NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today dismissed a PIL seeking action against Anna Hazare and his team members for allegedly showing disrespect to the national flag during his agitation for the Lokpal Bill last year.

A bench of justices B S Chauhan and J S Khehar rapped the petitioner, Chennai-resident L K Venkat for filing the PIL.

The petitioner had alleged that during the agitation in December last year, the associates of Harare had shown disrespect to the national flag and the government had failed to take any action despite a complaint filed against them.

“During the course of the agitation, Hazare and his associates had flown the national flag at half mast in public and also mutilated and defaced the flag,” the petitioner alleged.

The bench, however, was not satisfied with his contention and during the hearing threatened to impose cost on the petitioner for misusing the process of PIL but it refrained from doing so and dismissed the petition.PTI

team anna

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India has toughened its Siachen stand: Kayani

News4u-News Desk- ISLAMABAD: India has toughened its stance on Siachen, the world’s highest battleground, said Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
Kayani made the remark to media personnel after a visit to Gyari sector in the Siachen glacier area, his third since an avalanche entombed nearly 140 soldiers.

The general said India was now demanding re-determination of positions, reported Dawn. He, however, added it “takes two hands to clap”.

On April 18, the country’s powerful army chief had said that his country favoured talks with India to demilitarise the Siachen glacier.

“Peaceful coexistence between the two neighbours is very important so that everybody can concentrate on the well-being of the people,” he said.

“Both countries should sit together to resolve all the issues including Siachen,” Kayani added.

Pakistan, however, promptly did an about turn a day later when Islamabad insisted said there was no change in its stance on the disputed glacier.

Foreign office spokesperson Moazzam Ali Khan said here that Pakistan has made no change in its stance on the Siachen glacier.

“It is in our mutual interest that we address all the issues in a meaningful and result-oriented manner,” Khan said. IANS

Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani

Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani

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US transportation department slaps fine of $80,000 on Air India

News4u-News Desk- WASHINGTON: The US transportation department has slapped a $80,000 fine on Air India for failing to post customer service and tarmac delay contingency plans on its website and adequately inform passengers about its optional fees.

This is the first penalty assessed for a violation of the Department’s new airline consumer rules that took effect last August.

“Our new airline consumer rules help ensure that passengers are fully informed about airline services and fees and what to expect if their flight is delayed on the tarmac,” US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said yesterday.
From August 2011, foreign carriers operating to the US with at least one aircraft of 30 or more seats have been required to adopt contingency plans for lengthy tarmac delays as well as customer service plans, and to post these plans on their websites.

US carriers have been covered by this requirement since April 2010, the Department of Transportation said in a statement.

Also both US carriers and foreign carriers with a website that sells tickets to US consumers have been required to include on their homepages a prominent hyperlink that takes viewers directly to a page that shows all fees for optional services the carrier charges, including baggage fees.

Air India failed to post its customer service and tarmac delay contingency plans and to provide a link to its optional fees by the required date, the statement added.PTI

Air India Aircraft

Air India Aircraft

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No deal in release of Sukma collector: CM, Maoists’ mediators

News4u-News Desk-RAIPUR: Chattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh and the Maoists’ mediators on Friday emphatically said there was no secret deal or any quid pro quo between Naxals and the state government behind the release of Sukma collector Alex Paul Menon after he was held hostage for 12 days.

A day after he was set free, the 32-year-old IAS officer returned to his Sukma home, about 450 km from the state capital, this morning to an emotional welcome from his pregnant wife Asha and other family members.

Menon spent the night at CRPF base camp at Chintalnar before reaching Sukma by helicopter and was brought home under tight security. His mother-in-law offered the traditional ‘aarti’ before he stepped into his official residence.

“There is no secret deal or any understanding to facilitate the release of Alex Paul Menon,” Singh told reporters when asked whether there was any understanding between the state government and the rebels to bring to an end the 12-day hostage crisis.

At a press conference in Sukma, the two Maoists’ mediators-B D Sharma and Prof Hargopal-who facilitated the release of Menon denied any secret deal for the freedom of the Collector.

S K Mishra, one of the two Government mediators, also categorically said there was no “secret deal” or any “quid pro quo” between the two sides.

“Everything is in public domain,” he said referring to the agreement reached at between the mediators of the state government and the Maoists that paved the way for the release of the official.

Under the agreement, the government had agreed to set up a high-powered committee under the chairmanship of Nirmala Buch, one of the two Government mediators, to review the cases of all prisoners languishing in Chattisgarh jails including the cases demanded by the Maoists.PTI

Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh

Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh

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Android caused losses to Google

News4u-News Desk- SAN FRANCISCO: Google Inc’s Android mobile platform resulted in a net loss for the company in every quarter of 2010, despite generating roughly $97.7 million in revenue for the first quarter of that year, a US judge said in court.

The discussion on Thursday of the finances of what has become the world’s leading mobile operating software in just four years came during a damages hearing in high stakes litigation between Oracle and Google over smartphone technology.

A jury is deliberating on Oracle’s allegation that Google, the top Internet search engine, violated its copyright to parts of the Java programming language. At the end of the day on Thursday, one juror sent out a note asking what would happen if they can’t reach a unanimous verdict.

In response, US District Judge William Alsup sent the jury home for the day and asked them to continue deliberating on Friday.

Oracle sued Google in August 2010, saying Android infringes on its intellectual property rights to the Java programming language. Google says it does not violate Oracle’s patents and that Oracle cannot copyright certain parts of Java, an “open-source,” or publicly available, software language.

In a hearing outside the jury’s presence earlier on Thursday, Alsup quizzed attorneys for both companies about some of the Android financial information submitted in the case.

Alsup had sealed an internal 2011 Google document which contains profit and loss numbers for Android in 2010. However, the judge read aloud certain portions of it in court on Thursday.

The judge did not disclose the specific loss figures for Android, but said it lost money in each quarter of 2010.

“That adds up to a big loss for the whole year,” Alsup said.

Google does not publicly report financial information about Android. The company announced the operating system in 2007, and the first Android phone was shipped in 2008.

Oracle contends that Google should not be able to deduct certain Android expenses for the purposes of copyright damages in the case. However, Google spokesman Jim Prosser said Oracle misrepresented its financial numbers.

The trial has been divided into three phases: copyright liability, patent claims, and damages. It began in April and is expected to last at least eight weeks.

The juror’s note about a possible deadlock was the eighth communication from the panel since they began deliberating on Monday. Alsup tried to lift their spirits, saying it was a very complicated case.

“It’s not unusual for people to disagree,” Alsup said.

If the jury does become deadlocked, Alsup said that they might move on to hear evidence in the patent phase of the case, and another jury would have to resolve the copyright questions on a retrial.

The case in US District Court, Northern District of California, is Oracle America, Inc v Google Inc, 10-3561. Reuters

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Environment ministry panel refuses clearance to SAIL’s 3 iron ore mines

News4u-Business Desk-NEW DELHI: A high level committee of theenvironment ministry has refused clearances for SAIL’s three key iron ore mines in Jharkhand’s West Singhbhum district, as the area is severely polluted and appropriate control measures are not in place.

The mines, Jhillingburu-I, Jhillingburu-II and Topailore, are located in Gua iron ore reserves and are estimated to hold 82,812.6 million tonne of deposits.

Steel minister Beni Prasad Verma said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha that the expert appraisal committee (EAC) of the environment ministry had examined the proposals on January 24, 2012 for issuance of terms of reference for preparation of environment impact assessment/environment management plan.

However, the EAC observed that these mines are located in West Singhbum district, an area identified as severely polluted in terms of the respirable suspended particulate matter exceeding the prescribed limits.

“The EAC, therefore, deferred and kept the proposals in abeyance till appropriate control measures are implemented in the said area. The proposal is still pending with the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) for approval,” Verma said.

He added that “the shortfall in the supplies of iron ore as a result of the closures of mines is being met from other operating mines as a short term measure.”

The steel minister further said that his ministry has taken up the matter on several occasions with the MoEF to expedite the grant of forest and environment clearances in respect of pending iron ore mines including Gua.

SAIL had sought forest clearance for the Topailore mine in September 2006, while approvals for Jhillingburu-I and Jhillingburu-II mines were sought in July 2008.

The three mines are critical for SAIL’s expansion plans, which is in talks with South Korean steel major Posco for setting up a new 3 million tonne plant in Bokaro, adjacent to its existing plant there.

Besides, it has also been planning to set up a 5 MT capacity new plant in Sindri. Iron ore for both the proposed plants are to be sourced from Gua and Chiria mines in Jharkhand. PTI

State-owned SAIL

State-owned SAIL

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Vidya Balan roped in for ‘clean picture’

News4u-Entertainment Desk- Vidya Balan on stereotypes, giggling fits and her ‘raunchiest’ role
Your character in Ishqiya exudes sexuality and relies on deceit. One hadn’t expected you to explore such a space.
I agree people had perceived me in a certain light but personally, I have not set any limitations for myself regarding the roles I take up. I am greedy as an actor and have been so in the past. I’ve experimented with roles and film-makers alike. Ishqiya simply pushes that limit. The aggressive sexuality that my character exudes is there in all of us. After all, my character Krishna is the typical Indian woman who fits into the shoes of a mother, daughter and sister during the day but behind the doors, she’s very sexual. Somehow we have come to associate ‘sexy’ with the clothes we wear but to me, it’s all about the eyes. So one can be clothed head to toe and still be sensuous.
How are the people around you reacting to this unexplored facet?
I had truly not bargained for the variety of reactions that I’ve got after the theatrical promo was released. One of my friends told me that earlier, he would have had to think twice before telling me I looked ‘hot’ because he perceived me to be a certain way. But now, he is comfortable doing so. On the other hand, a producer, whom I shall not name, actually came up to me and said that he didn’t know I was capable of being raunchy!
Did you hesitate in mouthing the expletives?
During rehearsals, I would not mouth expletives. I had come up with certain short cuts and would use those during practice. Arshad (Warsi) would keep telling me that I should use the exact word so I could get comfortable before we shoot the scene but I asked him to leave it to me. So finally, when we shot such a scene the first time, I did it just perfect and everyone on the set asked me if I was out to shock them.
Was it awkward romancing a veteran like Naseerudin Shah on screen, especially since he has not portrayed a romantic character in years?
I have a huge problem of giggling during rehearsals. And it happens more so when I share a good rapport with my co-actors. So often while rehearsing, I would either get a giggling fit or look away to avoid one. He couldn’t understand what was wrong with me but he was very patient. By the end of it, Arshad and Naseerji had nicknamed me Giggles.
At the same time, while one does ease up, it’s not possible to be on back-slapping terms with someone as senior as Naseerji. His daughter Heeba was a senior in college. I remember when once we were to work together on a certain project. I called up her residence and the moment I heard Naseerji’s voice, I hung up. So one always maintains that respectable distance.
How many takes before you got yourself to slap Warsi on screen?
Arshad and I are very good friends and every time director, Abhishek Chaubey, would roll the camera, I would slap Arshad gently. He kept insisting that I shouldn’t hesitate — we were shooting in sync sound and unless I slapped him hard, it would not sound right. After a couple of takes, I finally managed to land him such a solid one that I am sure he had a heart attack. I got away with it with a mere apology.
Your other film, Paa, which also releases this December, deals with a rare growth disorder, progeria. Was it an emotionally challenging film?
The film does deal with a serious topic but the beauty of R Balakrishnan (director) is that he treats such topics with sensitivity and yet make them light. We saw it in his debut Cheeni Kum where he dealt with the topic of romancing a much younger woman with such panache that it didn’t rankle. Similarly, what we have here with Paa is also an extraordinary situation but he treated it in a way that it gives you a Life is Beautiful kind of feeling.
Amitabh Bachchan’s character in the movie is of a young kid who suffers from progeria. Was it challenging to correlate the 61-year-old actor with the 12-year-old he plays in the movie?
The prosthetics that he used for the movie did most of the job. But after having worked with him in Paa, I wish every actor gets a chance to work with him at least once in their lifetime. I have been told at times that I take my job way too seriously. But working with Mr Bachchan has validated my faith. Despite having been in the industry for so many years, he continues to be passionate and true to his work.
Critics have often pointed out that you aren’t suited for contemporary characters. Would you agree?
I consider this a huge compliment because today, most contemporary characters these days are floozy and I need substance. If I am doing more justice to the Indian-woman roles, so be it. I prefer that to the flimsily sketched and often lifeless characters that border on being apologetic.
Television as a medium is an attractive option for film stars these days. Since you started with television, would you explore it again?
As an actor, I have been spoilt by the cinematic medium now. Television on the contrary is exacting in terms of budget and delivery dates. I think I have become too laidback for television. screen

News4u-Entertainment DeskThe Dirty Picture actor Vidya Balan will now feature in a “clean picture” — ad films to propagate the government’s sanitation programme.

Union Minister Jairam Ramesh, who has successfully roped in the celebrity as brand ambassador to spread awareness about the drinking water and sanitation campaign, is hopeful that her involvement will make the campaign to end open defecation a “national obsession”.

“For an actor, what can be a better thing than doing a dirty picture on screen and off screen a clean picture. I think this role will work a lot because we are working on a national movement,” Balan said after meeting Rural Development Minister Ramesh at his office.

“This is a clean picture (for Vidya Balan),” Ramesh quipped when reporters asked Balan if people will like her in a role to end the menace of open defecation in the country, an issue closely related to women’s health and security.

“I think it is a matter great honour for me, becoming the brand ambassador of sanitation campaign. It needs to become a national obsession. I am ready to (do it) in my capacity. I am convinced,” Balan, who has won the national award for her role in The Dirty Picture this year, said.

Ramesh said Balan, who will appear in ad campaigns to propagate construction and use of toilets, is actually the first brand ambassador of the Ministry.

“She (Vidya Balan) has agreed to give her time for the campaign for two years. She will be fully involved in the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan-(the re-structured version of the Total Sanitation Campaign),” he said.

“Vidya’s involvement in the campaign will help make it a national obsession,” Ramesh said.

Despite being one the fastest growing emerging economies, access to adequate sanitation remains abysmally low in India compared to many other countries with similar or lower GDP.

According to UNICEF-WHO Joint Monitoring Programme Report 2010, nearly 60 per cent of India’s 1.1 billion people still practice open defecation.PTI

Vidya Balan

Vidya Balan

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Carlsberg India launches campaign for Euro 2012

News4u-Sports cDesk- Carlsberg India Pvt Ltd (CIPL), continuing its association with UEFA Euro 2012, has launched a unique ‘Carlsberg Man of the Match Award’ campaign in India.

Through a digitally run contest, participants will battle it out for a place in history — to win an exclusive chance to present the award at the Euro semi-final match at Warsaw, Poland on June 28.

The winner from the top five finalists will be announced in the third week of this month.

Commenting on the contest, Subodh Marwah, director marketing, Carlsberg India, said, “The Carlsberg Man of the Match Award initiative and our association with UEFA EURO 2012 marks yet another milestone in Carlsberg’s commitment towards promoting sporting excellence and rewarding fans across India.” PTI

Carlsberg India launches campaign for Euro 2012

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