Tuesday, December 6, 2011

FAISALABAD: More than 25 Ceramics Manufacturing Units have been closed down in Gujarat and Gujranwala districts during the current year 2011 due to fuel and energy shortages, primitive methods of manufacturing, inability to assemble and deploy intellectual, human and financial resources effectively, lack of vision for growth, limited perception of business requirements and restricted funding sources.

In a survey report conducted by International Finance Corporation of World Bank Group with the cooperation of State Bank of Pakistan and Owners of the Ceramics Industry, it was pointed out that this sector does not experience seasonal fluctuations and is fairly dependent upon business conditions. The business suffers from lack of technology and good quality raw materials which affects the quality of the product to great extent.

Therefore, Ceramics Industry has a heavy reliance on their suppliers and most of the businesses rely on more than five suppliers according to our primary survey.

According to Pakistan Ceramics Manufacturing Associations, the businesses in Ceramics Industry approach their customers, which are retail shops, by paying personal visits and arrange agreements. Most of the businesses have pre-selected retailers to whom they sell their products. Only about 10 percent have their own retail shops.

Syrian opposition activists have reported dozens of bodies dumped on the streets of the central city of Homs in one of the worst single incidents of violence in the nine-month uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that 34 dead, apparently kidnap victims, had been found after what it called "one of the deadliest days since the start of the Syrian revolution." It quoted an activist from Homs's al-Zahra neighbourhood as saying that they had been abducted by members of the feared Shabiha militia. Monday's death toll for the country was 50, it said.

The Local Coordination Committees, an opposition network, reported 31 dead, 30 in Homs and one in the northern city of Aleppo. None of these figures can be independently verified because the Syrian government does not allow journalists to operate freely.

Babbitt was about halfway through a five-year term. Deputy FAA Administrator Michael Huerta will serve as acting administrator. Industry officials and lawmakers said they expect Huerta to continue in the post through next year since the White House probably will want to avoid a possible nomination fight before the presidential election.

In recent months, Huerta has been leading the FAA's troubled NextGen effort to transition from an air traffic control system based on World War II-era radar technology to one based on satellite technology. Huerta was managing director of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and held several senior transportation department posts during former President Bill Clinton's administration.

Babbitt, 65, was arrested Saturday night in Fairfax City, Va., by a patrolman who said the nation's top aviation official was driving on the wrong side of the road.

Babbitt said in a statement that he had submitted his resignation to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and it had been accepted.

"I am unwilling to let anything cast a shadow on the outstanding work done 24 hours a day, seven days a week by my colleagues at the FAA," Babbitt said. "They run the finest and safest aviation system in the world and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to work alongside them."

LaHood thanked Babbitt for his service, saying that under his stewardship the nation's aviation system "became safer and stronger."

Babbitt "worked tirelessly to improve relations with the labor community and bolstered employee engagement among his 49,000 colleagues at the FAA. He led the FAA's efforts to improve pilot training and enhance safety for the traveling public, as well as those that work in aviation," LaHood said in a statement.
Earlier in the day, LaHood told reporters he was disappointed to learn of Babbitt's arrest from a news release issued by the Fairfax City police department on Monday.

It is the police department's policy to disclose the arrests of public officials. Babbitt, who lives in nearby Reston, Va., was the only occupant in the vehicle, police said. He cooperated and was released on his own recognizance, they said. They refused to disclose the results of Babbitt's blood alcohol test. The legal limit is .08.
LaHood has aggressively campaigned against drunken driving and is working with police agencies and safety advocates on an annual holiday crackdown on drinking and driving later this month. Safety advocates credit LaHood with doing more to raise the visibility of human factors in highway safety — including drunken driving, drivers distracted by cellphone use and parents who fail to buckle in their children — than any previous transportation secretary.

Babbitt's easy manner, commitment to safety and insider's knowledge of the airline industry generated respect in Congress, where he regularly testified on safety issues and in support of NextGen.

There was concern Tuesday that Babbitt's sudden departure could delay or jeopardize several important safety efforts under way at the FAA that are strongly opposed by the airline industry. One effort involves crafting the first new regulations in decades governing pilot work schedules in an effort to prevent fatigue.
The National Transportation Safety Board has identified pilot fatigue as one of the airline industry's most pressing safety problems. Industry opponents lobbied White House officials against the proposed regulations, saying they would cost too much or be too burdensome.

Babbitt was a former airline captain and internationally recognized expert in aviation and labor relations when Obama tapped him in 2009 to head the FAA. He was a pilot for now-defunct Eastern Airlines for 25 years and had served as president of the Air Line Pilots Association in the 1990s. As head of pilots association, he championed the "one level of safety" initiative implemented in 1995 to improve safety standards across the airline industry.

Friday, November 18, 2011

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Tiger Woods finally won a point, then couldn't buy a putt.

The Americans were assured of leading the Presidents Cup after a 4-1 decision in foursomes Saturday morning, when Woods and Dustin Johnson won a match and two American teams remained perfect.

Hopeful of building the lead in the fourball matches in the afternoon, the International team fought back.

K.T. Kim holed a 6-foot par putt on the 18th hole to give him and Y.E. Yang a 1-up win over Woods and Johnson. Woods missed nine putts from about the 15-foot range or closer, including one on the last hole that would have earned a halve. Woods was assured of his first losing record in the Presidents Cup since 1998, which also was at Royal Melbourne.

The International team picked up two more wins, meaning it can at least put up a fair fight in the 12 singles matches Sunday. It also ended the Americans' streak of not losing a session for the first time since 2007.

Retief Goosen and Charl Schwartzel handed Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson their first loss of the week. The Americans made only one birdie, a poor effort in fourballs even in a cold, steady rain as the wind picked up.

Geoff Ogilvy and K.J. Choi hung on for a 1-up win over Steve Stricker and Matt Kuchar.

Even as the temperatures cool, emotions started to heat up. Jason Day celebrated a 30-foot birdie putt on the 17th to seemingly stay in the match, only for Mahan to bury his birdie putt from just outside 20 feet for a 2-and-1 win over Day and Aaron Baddeley.

Mahan flung his putter to the ground when it dropped and let out a roar.

"This is an Australian team we were playing here," Mahan said. "You heard the crowd, so to win like that, it feels good."

The Americans had a 1-up lead in the final match, with Adam Scott and Ernie Els putting up a strong fight against Nick Watney and Jim Furyk, who was trying to become the only American to win all four matches.

Els made a 20-foot birdie putt on the 15th to cut the deficit to 1 down, then Scott halved the 16th hole with a 12-foot putt.

Furyk and Phil Mickelson went to 3-0 as a team after winning their foursomes match Saturday morning. U.S. captain Fred Couples decided to rest Mickelson for Sunday's finale.

Monday, August 22, 2011

NAGUA, Dominican Republic (AP) -- A rapidly strengthening Hurricane Irene cut a destructive path through the Caribbean on Monday, pounding Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic with strong winds and rain as it followed a track that could carry it to the U.S. Southeast by the end of the week.

Irene grew into a Category 2 hurricane late Monday and the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said it could become a monstrous Category 3 storm as early as Tuesday. Forecasters said it could still be that strong when it passes over the Bahamas and slams into the United States, possibly landing in Florida, South Carolina or Georgia.

Earlier, the storm slashed directly across Puerto Rico, tearing up trees and knocking out power to more than a million people, then headed out to sea north of the Dominican Republic, where the powerful storm's outer bands were buffeting the north coast with dangerous sea surge and downpours.

The first hurricane of the Atlantic season was a large system that could cause dangerous mudslides and floods in Dominican Republic, the hurricane center said. It was not expected to make a direct hit on neighboring Haiti, though that country could still see heavy rain from the storm.

Dominican officials said the government had emergency food available for 1.5 million people if needed and the country's military and public safety brigades were on alert.

"We have taken all precautions," presidential spokesman Rafael Nunez said.

Irene is forecast to grow into a Category 3 hurricane as early as Tuesday as it moves over the warm waters of the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas, and could maintain that strength as it nears the U.S. coast.

Florida residents were urged to ensure they had batteries, drinking water, food and other supplies.

"We must prepare for the worst and hope for the best," said Joe Martinez, chairman of the Miami-Dade County Commission.

Officials in Charleston, South Carolina, also warned residents to monitor Irene closely. It has been six years since a hurricane hit the South Carolina coast, said Joe Farmer of the state Emergency Management Division.

Police and civil protection officials in the Dominican Republic made their way along the beaches of the country's northern coast to warn people away from the surging sea. Resorts pulled up the umbrellas and lounge chairs as the storm made its way toward the country. At the Wyndham Tangerine, a hotel in the resort area of Sosua and Cabarete, the staff converted a conference room into a temporary storm refuge for 300 people, said deputy general manager Karen Gonzalez.

Jose Manuel Mendez, director of the country's Emergency Operations Center, said that only about 135 people were in public shelters, but that hundreds of others were staying with friends and family to avoid the storm, which was expected to drop as much as 14 inches (35 centimeters) at higher elevations.

The 100 tourists who booked an ocean-view room at a Puerto Plata resort were moved to another building on Monday for their safety, said Medardo Carrera, manager for VH Gran Ventana Beach Resort, and the hotel ordered its 450 guests to stay inside their rooms Monday night.

At the nearby Casa Colonial Beach & Spa, several tourists packed their bags and fled ahead of the storm, hoping to catch one of the last flights for Miami, said concierge Zadaliy Placido.

The hurricane earlier cut power to more than a million people in Puerto Rico, downing trees and flooding streets on Monday. There were no reports of deaths or major injuries on the island, but Gov. Luis Fortuno declared a state of emergency and urged people to stay indoors to avoid downed power lines, flooded streets and other hazards.

During the storm's march through the region, Academy Award-winning actress Kate Winslet and others escaped uninjured when a blaze gutted Richard Branson's home on his private isle in the British Virgin Islands during Irene's march through the region.

According to Branson, about 20 people, including Winslet and her young children, were staying in his eight-bedroom Great House on Necker Island when the fire broke out around 4 a.m. amid the storm's lightning and high winds.

By Monday evening, Irene was centered about 130 miles (210 kms) east of Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph (155 kph). It was expected to pass near or over the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southeastern Bahamas on Tuesday and Wednesday.

In the overseas U.K. territory of the Turks and Caicos Islands, located in the Atlantic between the Bahamas and Haiti, there was a steady stream of customers buying plywood and nails at hardware stores, while others readied storm shutters and emergency kits at home.

"I can tell you I don't want this storm to come. It looks like it could get bad, so I've definitely got to get my boats out of the water," said Dedrick Handfield at the North Caicos hardware store where he works.

In the Bahamian capital of Nassau, Henry Vera, of Long Island, New York, said the approaching hurricane will not cause him to cut his vacation short in Cable Beach, where he and his girlfriend are booked at a hotel until Sunday.

"I've never been in a hurricane before so I have no idea what to expect," the 29-year-old Mineola resident said. "But I'm not going to leave early, I still have a week off work and I'm still on vacation."

In Puerto Rico, 600 crews spread out across the island to repair toppled light poles, and the majority of customers were expected to have power by late Monday, power company spokesman Carlos Monroig said. Schools, most government offices and many businesses remained closed. Flights resumed at the international airport in San Juan by midmorning.

The storm entered through the southeast coastal town of Humacao, but emergency management regional director Orlando Diaz said the damage seemed to be less than he feared.

"We thought things were going to be a bit more tragic," he said. "I was surprised that we didn't see the amount of rain I expected."
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's son and one-time heir apparent, who was reported arrested by rebels on Sunday when they advanced on the capital Tripoli, is free.

Seif al-Islam turned up in the early morning hours Tuesday at the Rixos hotel, where foreign journalists are staying in Tripoli under the close watch of Gadhafi regime minders. He then took reporters in a convoy on a drive through parts of the city under the regime's control.

Associated Press reporters were among the journalists who saw him and went on the tour. He told the reporters: "We are going to hit the hottest spots in Tripoli."

They then drove around streets full of armed Gadhafi backers, and controlled by roadblocks. They visited several sites where Gadhafi supporters were gathered.

Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro was held out of the starting lineup Monday night against Atlanta, one night after television cameras caught him not paying attention in the field as a pitch was thrown.

"It's a mental day off," Chicago manager Mike Quade said during a long pregame press conference at which Castro was pretty much the only topic of discussion.

"I was real disappointed. He understands that. We'll see how the next day or so goes. We'll take it one day at a time. He's got a lot of work to do in terms of bearing down and concentrating."

The pitch in question occurred during the sixth inning of Sunday night's 6-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. As reliever James Russell went into his motion and delivered to Daniel Descalso, Castro kicked at the dirt and then walked toward the outfield, never looking toward home plate when the pitch was thrown.

"When I saw Russ' pitch when he wasn't on board yet, that was the thing that got me more than anything," Quade said. "People stay loose different ways and approach each pitch different ways, but the fact that he wasn't prepared for Russ' pitch was the main thing."

ESPN aired a clip of the play the next inning and commentator Bobby Valentine spent nearly seven minutes haranguing Castro and the Cubs' inability to get him to focus. Quade said he didn't hear any of Valentine's comments.

"I don't listen to Bobby very much," Quade said. "I looked at everything with the mute on. That's kind of what I do. I don't want any outside influences. I want to know exactly what I see and make up my own decisions.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's regime appears to be nearing collapse, but the colonel himself has apparently gone underground.

U.S. officials say they believe he is still in Libya, but if they have any more precise fix on his whereabouts, they aren't sharing the details.

In a briefing Monday afternoon on Martha's Vineyard, Mass., where President Barack Obama is vacationing with his family, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the "best information" indicated that the Libyan strongman was still in Libya, whereabouts unknown.

"That's the latest," Mr. Earnest said. "There's no evidence to indicate that he's left."

Dia Alhutmany, a spokesman for the rebel-aligned Libyan Mission to the United Nations in New York, said Col. Gadhafi's son, Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, once seen as his possible successor, had been captured and was in rebel hands. It wasn't immediately possible to confirm cable reports that Seif el-Islam had turned up at a Tripoli hotel later Monday. He said another son, Mohammed, had been captured, but may have escaped rebel custody.

Mr. Alhutmany wasn't able to confirm reports of the capture of a third son, Saadi, and added that another son, Mutassim, may have escaped to the city of Sabha in the south.

Clashes were reported Monday around Col. Gadhafi's Tripoli compound. The colonel has held power for more than four decades, alternately defying and courting the West. He survived U.S. airstrikes in the 1980s after being linked to the bombing of a Berlin disco popular with American service members.

During the George W. Bush administration, he won renewed relations with the U.S. by agreeing to give up his quest for weapons of mass destruction.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Like Twitter, Google's social network has yet to solve some challenging problems. Among them: the "noisy stream" and how to find interesting content

Tech blogger Robert Scoble, the king of the early-adopter crowd, has posted some thoughts about what he likes and doesn’t like about using Google+, and some of his points hit home with me as well. And the more I thought about the new social network and the things it doesn’t do very well, the more similar it seemed to the issues that have also been dogging Twitter for some time. Like Twitter, the Web giant has to figure out how to solve some pretty challenging problems—including the "noisy stream" issue, the problems of search and discovery, and, of course, how to keep people from going away and never coming back.

As more than one person (including Scoble himself) has noted, he isn’t exactly the average user of social tools. As someone with hundreds of thousands of followers, who jumps on every new Web or social tool that comes along—in some cases dominating those new services to the point where they become almost unusable, as some found with FriendFeed—Scoble is definitely an "edge case." But at the same time, that makes him a little like the canary in a coal mine: He can highlight problems that may only become obvious for others much later.

The "Noisy Stream" Problem

In his post, he mentions a couple of things that I’ve also noticed, as someone who has used Google+ since it launched, including the fact that over time a stream of activity on the network can become noisy to the point where it’s hard to follow at all. That is especially true if one follows—or "circles"—people who produce a lot of content (like Scoble). But it’s also true if you follow someone whose content gets a lot of comments, as is the case with users such as Myspace co-founder Tom Anderson, or even Google (GOOG) co-founder Sergey Brin (and yes, I don’t use Circles as much as I probably should).

WASHINGTON, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton said on Sunday that Washington was "deeply disappointed" by Iran's sentencing of two U.S. hikers for eight years in prison.

In a statement issued by the State Department, Clinton said the United States continued to call and work for the two Americans' "immediate release," saying it was time for them to return home and be united with their families.

"I joined President Obama and the people of the U.S. in expressing our unflagging support for Shane, Joshua, Sarah and their families during this difficult time," she added in the statement.

The two detained U.S. hikers, Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer, were sentenced to eight years in prison by Iran on Sunday on charges of illegal entry to the country and espionage.

Three U.S. nationals were arrested in Iran on July 31, 2009, for illegally entering Iran's western border and were later charged with espionage. The U.S. government considered the charges unfounded.

The female U.S. hiker Sarah Shourd, once jailed in Iran with the other two Americans, was released by Tehran's prosecutor in September 2010, on a bail of 500,000 U.S. dollars due to her health situation.
JERUSALEM, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- The killing of Egyptian policemen and soldiers Thursday apparently by Israeli troops, who were in hot pursuit of militants responsible for attacks earlier in the day within Israel, have strained relations between the two nations.

On Saturday, an Israeli diplomat in Egypt delivered a statement from Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak expressing his regret over the killing and proposing a joint investigation during a meeting at the Egyptian Foreign Ministry.

But officials in Egypt were unimpressed by the Israeli gesture.

"The Israeli statement was positive on the surface, but it was not in keeping with the magnitude of the incident and the state of Egyptian anger toward Israeli actions," Egypt's official news agency MENA quoted an Egyptian cabinet statement as saying on Sunday.

Israeli analysts told Xinhua that the cool reaction of Egyptians is an indication to how much the relations between the two countries have declined since former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down in February.


Mubarak was considered a strong ally by Israel because of similar views on many regional issues. During his 30 years in power, Israel could count on the southern border to be relatively quiet and demand few military resources. However, after Thursday's attacks, that could all change, according to Prof. Barry Rubin, director of the Global Research for International Affairs Center.

"Clearly, it will have to be a military priority to reinforce the border," Rubin said, adding that "It means re-establishment of the southern command as a regularly functioning front."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The apparent suicide of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" husband Russell Armstrong sent shock waves across the internet on Tuesday, but perhaps it shouldn't have.

The tragedy follows relevations that Armstrong's wife, "Real Housewives" star Taylor Armstrong, filed for divorce from him in July. It also came after he complained, "This show has literally pushed us to the limit."

Also read: Russell Armstrong, 'Real Housewives' Husband, Dead of Apparent Suicide

In reality, the apparent suicide was preceded by a long list of destroyed marriages and financial ruin that have plagued the franchise's castmates since the "Real Housewives of Orange County" premiered in 2006.

No fewer than eight divorces have occurred among the "Real Housewives" crew, even before the Armstrong union officially began to disintegrate last month.

Also read: 'Real Housewives' Return: 'No Decisions Have Been Made'
Chris Carlson, Associated Press
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Michael Young had three of the Rangers' 17 hits and drove in three runs, and Texas opened its biggest AL West lead of the season with a 7-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.

Derek Holland (11-4) yielded nine hits and fell one out shy of his fifth complete game for the Rangers, who have moved six games ahead the struggling Angels with wins in the first two games of this four-game series.

Josh Hamilton homered in a three-hit performance before leaving with back spasms, and Mitch Moreland had a two-run single among his three hits in Texas' fifth straight victory.

Torii Hunter had two hits and drove in a run for the punchless Angels, who trailed Texas by just 1½ games a week ago.
Facebook says its inspection of a computer belonging to a man who claims to have a contract that entitles him to half-ownership of the social-networking giant has turned up an "authentic contract" that does not mention Facebook.

Forensic analysis proves that the alleged 2003 contract between Paul Ceglia and Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was an "outright fabrication," Facebook said, asking that Ceglia's suit against Zuckerberg and Facebook be dismissed, according to a Facebook filing yesterday in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York. The contract, which Facebook contends Ceglia was trying to conceal, was found embedded in electronic data from 2004 and refers only to StreetFax, a Web site Ceglia was trying to develop, Facebook said.

Facebook lawyers also complained that Ceglia had refused to supply documents covered by a discovery order in June and was "willfully concealing" six USB drives that contain relevant documents related to possible manipulation of the original contract.

"It is very likely that Ceglia used these removable devices to manipulate and store documents, including the purported Facebook contract, in the belief that this evidence would not be discovered or that the devices could easily be discarded if necessary, as Ceglia has now apparently done," Facebook lawyers said in their filing. "This is the digital equivalent of throwing critical evidence into Lake Erie."

Ceglia has reportedly relocated his family to Ireland as a result of the attention the case has attracted and could not be reached for comment. San Diego-based law firm Lake, which represents Ceglia in the case, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, attorney Jeffrey Lake acknowledged in a filing with the court today that the StreetFax contract differs from the one previously admitted as evidence in the case but said his client has an explanation for why the two contracts differ. Lake did not indicate what that explanation might be.
AWS GovCloud will meet a host of strict regulatory requirements specific to government and include services such as Elastic Compute Cloud, Simple Storage Service, Elastic Block Store, and Amazon Virtual Private Cloud.

Amazon on Tuesday announced the release of cloud services aimed specifically at U.S. government users and contractors, joining a growing list of cloud service providers including Microsoft and Google that also have modified their cloud services to meet the unique needs of government.

According to Amazon, the new offering, Amazon Web Services GovCloud, will meet a host of strict regulatory requirements specific to government. It's designed to meet moderate security control levels under the Federal Information Security Management Act and to meet FIPS 140-2, a federal cryptography standard.

In addition, Amazon says that GovCloud supports processing and storage of export-controlled, often defense-related, data and applications governed by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), as it limits both logical and physical access to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. The servers powering Amazon Web Services GovCloud will be physically located on the West Coast of the United States, giving customers further assurance that their data will stay in this country.

Clouds like Amazon's GovCloud that meet government requirements will likely increase government adoption. "As we move workloads into the cloud, we look forward to leveraging ITAR-compliant clouds such as the new AWS GovCloud for our compliance-dependent projects so we can continue to look to the cloud first for even more missions," NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory CTO Tomas Soderstrom said in a statement.
In cloud computing, WAN optimization is a necessity.
Discover how to address network limitations to successfully implement a cloud-based system.
Investors fretted Tuesday because European leaders
made no immediate moves to strengthen the eurozone's finances.
Richard Drew - AP
NEW YORK Worries about Europe's economic and debt problems Tuesday sent stocks to their first loss in four days.

The major indexes bounced up and down in another volatile day. The Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 120 points in the first half-hour of trading after a report showed that Germany's economy stalled last quarter and dragged down growth for Europe.

The Dow pared most of its losses by noon but resumed its drop after the leaders of France and Germany tried to calm worries about Europe's debt problems by pushing for long-term political solutions. Investors were hoping for immediate financial measures such as the introduction of a single bond jointly backed by the eurozone's members. The Dow fell as many as 190 points in the early afternoon before again recovering.

At the close, the Dow was down 76.97, or 0.7 percent, to 11,405.93. It was the first time in seven trading days that the Dow rose or fell by less than 100 points. The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 11.73, or 1 percent, to 1,192.76. The Nasdaq fell 31.75, or 1.2 percent, to 2,523.45.

"The real question the market is trying to answer is: Are we going to have another recession or not?" said John Burke, head of Burke Financial Strategies with $200 million in assets under management. "Today, the answer is maybe yes, because it doesn't look like Europe has figured out a solution to its debt."

Asian stocks rose for a third day as companies reported higher profits. U.S. equity-index futures advanced, the euro erased losses against the dollar, while copper and oil paced gains among commodities. 

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.4 percent as of 2:05 p.m. in Tokyo, extending a two-day, 2.4 percent rally. Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures climbed 0.2 percent after earlier losing as much as 0.6 percent. Europe’s 17-nation currency was little changed at $1.4409 and slid 0.2 percent versus the yen. The Swiss franc weakened against all 16 major peers. Wheat gained a third day, copper advanced as much as 0.7 percent and oil climbed 0.8 percent.

China Coal Energy Co. rallied 8.8 percent after saying first-half profit rose, while Brambles Ltd. jumped 5 percent in Sydney after it forecast a profit gain of as much as 28 percent. Stocks and the euro slid earlier as French and German leaders said they plan to resubmit a financial-transaction tax that was rejected last year, while rebuffing calls for joint euro borrowing and the expansion of the 440 billion-euro ($632 billion) rescue fund.

“We see the negative newsflow likely to come out of Europe rather than anywhere else in the world these days, but if you look outside of that, things are starting to get a little better,” Steve Brice, chief investment strategist at Standard Chartered Plc, said in a Bloomberg Television interview from Singapore. “We do prefer Asia to the developed world.”
Two men who posted messages on Facebook inciting other people to riot in their home towns during the recent English outbreaks of violence have each been sentenced to four years in prison by a judge at Chester Crown Court.

Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, one of two men jailed for four years over a Facebook post.

Jordan Blackshaw, 20, set up an "event" called Smash Down in Northwich Town for the night of August 8 on the social networking site but no one apart from the police, who were monitoring the page, turned up at the prearranged meeting point outside a McDonald's restaurant. Blackshaw was promptly arrested.

Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, 22, of Latchford, Warrington, used his Facebook account in the early hours of August 9 to design a web page entitled The Warrington Riots.

ISLAMABAD: Music-lovers including traditional Qawwali lovers observed the death anniversary of legendary singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan here on Tuesday.

(R) Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan seen in this picture. - Photo by WhiteStar
“The King of Qawwali”, Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was born on October 13, 1948 in Faisalabad.

The legendary singer was not only popular in Pakistan but also in rest of the world. He sang predominantly in the Islamic devotional style known as Qawwali.

He passed away at the age of 48, having become one of the world’s most outstanding vocalists.

Nusrat Fateh’s songs are still alive among his fans and also youngsters, and have defined the art-form of Qawwali for the generations to come.

LONDON: Samsung can sell its latest iPad rival in most of Europe again after a German court lifted most of an injunction it had imposed at Apple's request.

The Duesseldorf regional court said it was questionable whether its authority extended to international companies operating outside Germany, so it restricted a preliminary ban imposed last week on Samsung Electronics to Germany.

Samsung's Galaxy Tab line of tablet computers is considered the most credible alternative to Apple's iPad, which has taken the market by storm, selling about 30 million since its launch a year and a half ago.

Apple and others have moved aggressively to defend their intellectual property in maturing markets, especially against Google's Android software platform, on which the new Samsung Galaxy 10.1 tablet is built.

Android, a latecomer to the mobile market, has become a target by rapidly turning into the world's most popular smartphone platform. Google is relatively defenseless because it owns few wireless patents, in contrast to older rivals.
Islamabad—Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) on the 64th Independence Day of Pakistan announced the launch of the country’s first 3G enabled tablet with built in EVO Wireless Broadband

“3G EVO Tab” is a 7 inch touch screen tablet with built-in EVO service to offer wireless broadband internet on the go in more than 100 cities across the country. Powered by Google Android Froyo 2.2 Operating system, 3G EVO Tab offers support for both 3G & Wi-Fi for an un-interrupted on-the-go connectivity. With a 5MegaPixel Camera , a variety of built-in applications plus access to latest Android market; 3G EVO Tab lets you browse, snap, share, communicate, navigate, play games and do a lot more on-the go; thereby making it an ideal connectivity solution for users looking for high speed on-the-go 3G connectivity on an Android platform. It’s available in two colors i.e. Grey Stone & Ivory White.

PTCL 3G EVO Tablet offers convenience and speed with three diverse economy packages to suit individual needs & pockets. With a 12month contract, customers can get EVO Tab for as low as Rs.7999 plus 12months unlimited EVO service, all at Rs. 31,999. Apart from the 12months contract, EVO Tab also offers bundled packages based on 3months and 6months contract at Rs.27,999 & Rs. 29,999, respectively with 3months & 6months of unlimited EVO service.

SEVP Commercial Naveed Saeed said that PTCL always strives to provide high quality services to its customers and with these 3G EVO Tab packages PTCL aims to give double advantages to its valued customers in the industry at the lowest rates. He said this reinforced company’s determination to improve and build good relationship with its customers while meeting their demands most effectively. He further added that PTCL 3G EVO Tab is packed with features of both a tablet and a GSM phone that will give PTCL customers the freedom to surf, talk, tweet & do a lot more simultaneously on -the-go in more than 100 cities nationwide.
Syed Asim Ali EVP Wireless Business said that it is always our top priority to facilitate our customers to the maximum. 3G EVO Tab is yet another first for the Pakistan market which is in line with our aim of introducing products and services that add value to our customer’s lives.
WASHINGTON — Less than six months after taking over as chief executive, Google co-founder Larry Page has placed the Internet giant's most audacious wager yet.

The $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility dwarfs Google's previous purchases and thrusts a company that has made its fortune in Internet search and advertising into an entirely new arena -- hardware.

The Illinois-based Motorola Mobility makes mobile phones, tablet computers and TV set-top boxes -- areas where the Silicon Valley-based Google has no experience other than writing the software to power the devices.

Integrating an 80-year-old company with 19,000 employees and manufacturing plants around the world will pose a serious challenge and technology analysts are divided on whether Google can carry it off.

Whether it does or not, analysts are unanimous in saying that the bold move by the 38-year-old Page, who replaced Eric Schmidt as Google's chief executive in April, has changed the landscape of the booming mobile industry.

"The repercussions are huge," Gartner research director Michael Gartenberg told AFP. "It shows that it's so hard to look at this market beyond the short term because we've seen so many twists and changes.

"Palm went from irrelevant to being bought by Hewlett-Packard, Nokia was on the ropes and suddenly you have a new CEO and a very close relationship with Microsoft."

Gartenberg said the Motorola Mobility purchase gives Google the "opportunity to pursue their pure vision of Android," the mobile operating system it currently licenses to handset manufacturers around the world.

Britain led international outrage over Syria's continuing fierce and apparently random assault on a coastal city, that now includes the use of raking machine gunfire, by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

William Hague, the foreign secretary, issued a statement saying President Assad was "fast losing the last shreds of his legitimacy", adding his words to those of the White House, which said he had already lost legitimacy.

The United Nations Council on Human Rights called an emergency meeting in response to the violence in Latakia, where an alleged naval bombardment at the weekend has been followed by a military assault that has included "intense" machine gun fire, according to rights groups.

There were even signs of consternation in Syria's last remaining ally, Iran.

President Barack Obama told an audience in rural Iowa that the U.S. economy will be “stronger than before” as he sought to regain the initiative on the economic debate that likely will dominate the 2012 campaign.

“I’m also convinced that comeback isn’t going to be driven by Washington,” Obama said at a forum on the rural economy at Northeast Community College in Peosta. “It is going to be driven by folks here in Iowa.”

On the second day of a Midwest bus tour in the state that helped propel his drive toward the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, Obama used an updated version of some of the same themes that animated his earlier campaign.

Then, he cast himself as an outside agent of change running against Washington and relying on grassroots support. Now, Obama is calling on voters to join him in pressuring Congress, saying “politics of the short term” and “the refusal of a faction of Congress to put country ahead of party” are stalling measures to bolster growth.

“There’s nothing wrong with our country, although there is some problems with our politics,” Obama said yesterday. “I hope that I can count on you in the days ahead to lend your voice to this fight to strengthen our economy.”

In the days before the 2008 Iowa caucuses, Obama also sought to enlist Iowans, telling a crowd on Dec. 27, 2007 that “we can’t afford four more years of the same divisive food fight in Washington that’s about scoring political points instead of solving problems.”
Delivering on Promises

The question now is whether Obama can recapture his earlier support at a time when his ability to deliver on economic promises is limited by budget concerns and his policies are under attack by Republicans.
THE world’s largest Internet search engine also celebrated Pakistan’s 64th Independence Day with Google Doodle.

For the very first time in the history of Google, a Google Doodle has been especially designed for Pakistan. Google has put a green-collared doodle representing the colour of Pakistan’s national flag on the Pakistani Google homepage. For years, countless forums have hosted hordes of discussions on why a Doodle to celebrate Pakistan’s Independence Day was not making an appearance.
The idea was pushed in front of the team from Google, Google.org, Google Maps and YouTube that came to Pakistan last December. It was all over Twitter and emails were submitted to the Proposals link on the Doodle4Google website. Run a search on “Google Doodle for Pakistan” and you’ll see how aggressive and assertive some of these requests were.
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered Director General Federal Investigation Agency to associate himself with a team, investigating National Insurance Corporation Company Limited (NICL) scam and take steps for registration of cases.A three-Judge bench of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Amir Hani Muslim and Justice Ghulam Rabbani on a suo motu case, taken on suspension issue of additional director general FIA Zafar Ahmed Qureshi, also directed the DG FIA to inquire from Inspector General Police Punjab about registration of any complaint about a bomb hoax of August 13 in FIA building Lahore and apprise it on Wednesday.The bench in its order said that the rumour about planting a bomb inside FIA building was spread intentionally to prevent entry of Zafar Ahmed Qureshi, who was asked by the apex Court on August 8 order to assume charge of his duties immediately after setting aside his suspension order of July 2.“In such like situation, it was the duty of DG FIA to register a case under Section 505 of PPC,” the bench observed. He was directed to ensure that action was duly intended against the responsible.The bench also cancelled casual leaves of team members of Qureshi and ordered DG FIA to produce them before it on Wednesday and ensure that they would not be pressurized or threatened from any quarters.The bench also observed that hurdles for Qureshi in assumption of charge of duty were created intentionally.“We are of the opinion that Secretary Interior, DG FIA, director Lahore and assistant director Lahore, are, prima facie, responsible for violating Supreme Court orders of August 8,” the bench added.The bench also issued notice to Director FIA Lahore to appear on Wednesday over the issue of reported resistance against Qureshi.At the outset of proceedings, Zafar Qureshi apprised the bench that he received the Court’s order on August 9 and wrote a set of letters to the DG FIA but could not get any response. He said that he had asked for deputing his former four-member team comprising Javed Hussain Shah, Mohammad Ahmed, Khalid Anees and Sarwar and arrangement of a meeting at National Police Foundation but it was not allowed.He said that he was informed by a source that two among these officials including Javed Hussain Shah and Sarwar had been sent on casual leaves while the files of NICL were also taken away form them. Zafar said that on night of August 12 he was informed by the assistant director FIA Lahore Khawaja Hamad that a bomb was planted in FIA building, therefore, he should not visit it. While the next morning, the building was locked after claim of bomb planting, with few officials inside and barring his entry, he added. Expressing annoyance, the Chief Justice told Secretary Interior Khawaja Siddique Akbar that they had ordered the Secretary Establishment to proceed against him for similar tactics.Reminding him, the Chief Justice, told him that contempt of proceedings were still pending against him.Defending his position, the Secretary Interior said that he had responded quickly to Qureshi’s requests and the fact was appreciated by the FIA official himself in his written letter.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Bank of America stocks tumbled 20 percent on Monday as investors reacted in part to a $10 billion lawsuit that the insurance corporation American International Group brought against the company.

The dramatic single-day drop was reminiscent of market plunges during the financial crisis of 2008, and stood out even amongst a market-wide spate of sell-offs that left the Dow Jones industrial average more than 600 points down on the day.

BofA closed at $6.51 on Monday, a 20.32 percent drop from the opening bell, after a day of rapid stock declines that saw the Dow shed 634 points. The Dow closed at 10,809 after dipping below 11,000 for the first time since November 2010, making Monday the sixth-worst trading day in Dow history.

Elsewhere in the market, the S&P 500 Index fell by 6.66 percent and the NASDAQ Composite closed at 6.9 percent down.

On Monday, AIG announced that it was suing Bank of America for more than $10 billion, alleging that BofA, and its acquisitions Merrill Lynch and Countrywide Financial, participated in “massive fraud” when they sold mortgage-backed securities to AIG between 2005 and 2007. AIG says that more than 40 percent of the mortgages were presented as being more secure than they actually were.

A spokesman for Bank of America has countered that AIG “is the very definition of an informed, seasoned investor” and should be held responsible for any purchases it made.

The slide in BofA stocks, the worst since April 2009, was reflected in declines among other major lenders. Citigroup was down 16 percent at the end of the day, Morgan Stanley closed down 14 percent, JPMorgan and Wells Fargo were each down 9 percent and Goldman Sachs fell 6 percent.

AIG’s own stock fell 10 percent to $22.58.

Bank of America, the country’s largest banks by assets, has seen the value of its stock decline by 54 percent since the start of 2011. Last month, BofA reported losses of $8.8 billion in the second quarter, its worst quarterly earnings report ever.

On Wednesday, BofA CEO Brian Moynihan will answer shareholder questions during a 90-minute conference call. A press release from Fairholme Capital Management, a major shareholder with BofA, says that “skeptics are invited to participate.”

Monday’s market plunge is seen as a response to Standard & Poor’s historic downgrade of the United States’ credit rating last Friday, as well as concerns that Italy and Spain could slip into default as part of the worsening European debt crisis. Investors have also seen a series of disappointing economic reports in recent days, raising fears that the U.S. economy may be headed for a double-dip recession.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will have to repay over $8 billion obtained under the Standby Arrangement (SBA) from the IMF within the next four years up to fiscal year 2014-15 since the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) will have to return installments of the $1.4 billion loan in the ongoing fiscal year starting February 24, 2012, The News has learnt.

According to the repayment schedule agreed between the IMF and Pakistan, which is available with The News, Pakistan will have to return the first due installment of $413 million — 258 million Special Drawing Rights (SDR) — to the IMF on February 24, 2012. This will be paid back to the Fund from foreign currency reserves held by the SBP.

The foreign currency reserves rose to over $18 billion in the wake of a comfortable external account balance but pressure will start to be felt on that side after the initiation of repayments to the IMF loan as well as the possibility of a further dip in exports owing to a decline in the prices of cotton in the international market. The higher remittances are rescuing Pakistani authorities but many economists term this phenomenon ‘mysterious’ and require further analysis to know reasons for achieving unprecedented growth in this sector. An analysis done by SBP shows that 68 percent transactions of money received from abroad can be termed small transactions. 

The existing $11.3 billion SBA program is going to expire on September 30, 2011 as the last two tranches of $3.2 billion seem like a pipedream in the aftermath of Islamabad’s failure to pursue key reforms as well as the emergence of the revenue figures fiasco that has severely tarnished the credibility of the economic team. 

“The first installment of SBA program worth $413 million (258.4 million Special Drawing Rights) of the IMF will be due on Feb 24, 2012; the second installment worth $413 million on May 25, 2012; and third installment of $113 million on June 29, 2012,” say official documents showing details of repayment arrangements between Pakistan and IMF.

The SDR is an international reserve asset, created by the IMF in 1969 to supplement the existing official reserves of member countries. SDRs are allocated to member countries in proportion to their IMF quotas. The SDR also serves as the unit of account of the IMF and some other international organisations. One US dollar is equivalent to 1.6 SDR. Islamabad will have to repay 258 million SDR on August 24, 2012, which translates into over $400 million and 71 SDR on October 2012. The total repayments in year 2012 will stand in the range of 1.418 billion SDR, 2.362 billion SDR in 2013, 1.230 billion SDR in 2014 and 193 million SDR in 2015.

The foreign currency reserves of Pakistan stand in the range of over $18 billion out of which over $8 billion is loans obtained from the Fund under the existing SBA program. After excluding the IMF loan, the position of foreign currency reserves, which will stand in the range of $10 billion, will be exposed to vulnerabilities. 

Despite the outstanding performance of remittances as well as improved performance of the exports sector, Pakistan is left with no option but to seek another IMF programme in the range of $3 to $5 billion to give other donors and investors the signal that the country is under tight scrutiny of the IMF.
KARACHI: At least six people were killed, 15 others injured and dozens feared trapped when a dilapidated five-storey residential building collapsed in the congested area of Lyari here on Thursday morning.

As the rescue operation led by the Army Corps of Engineers continued late into the night, the collapse of Qasr-e-Ruqqaiya situated in Moosa Lane, Baghdadi, resulted in the death of six-year-old Areesha, her brother 22-year-old Bilal along with 25-year-old Imran and an elderly woman, Hawa Bai. The bodies of two other women were recovered late at night.

More deaths were feared as hordes of spectators in the narrow and congested lanes, and a slow response from the government in providing equipment and services, delayed the rescue work.

U.S. mortgage rates dropped to new lows after the latest round of gloomy economic data hurt Treasury yields, according to Freddie Mac's weekly survey of mortgage rates.
Mortgage rates tend to follow Treasury yields, which have fallen after data showed the U.S. economy grew a much weaker-than-expected 1.3% in the second quarter while first-quarter growth was cut to less than a quarter of what was originally reported.
"In fact, the first half of this year was the worst six-month period since the economic recovery began in June 2009," said Frank Nothaft, Freddie's chief economist.
The news sent 15-year fixed and five-year adjustable-rate loans to historic lows, the mortgage-finance agency said.
On the other hand, Mr. Nothaft said "there were indications that the housing market is firming."
The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.39%, for the week ended Thursday, down from 4.55% the previous week and last year's rate of 4.49%, setting a new low for the year. Rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.54%, down from 3.66% last week and 3.95% a year earlier.
Five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages averaged 3.18%, a drop from 3.25% last week and 3.63% a year ago. One-year Treasury-indexed ARM rates averaged 3.02%, falling from 3.25% in the prior week and 3.55% in the prior year.
To obtain the rates, 30-year fixed-rate mortgages required an average payment of 0.8 point, while 15-year fixed rates required an average 0.7 point payment. Five-year adjustable rate mortgages required an average 0.6-point payment, while one-year adjustable rates required an average 0.5 point payment. A point is 1% of the mortgage amount, charged as prepaid interest.
Write to Drew FitzGerald at andrew.fitzgerald@dowjones.com