Decision on Smart City soon

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Thiruvananthapuram: S Sharma, fisheries minister informed that the government would soon take a decision on Smart City project. Speaking to the media, the minister alleged that TECOM has failed miserably to implement the contract. Mr Sharma opined that the stand adopted by TECOM in this regard is dubious.

“ It is the duty of TECOM to implement the contract. As per the contract construction works should have been underway by now. But the response from TECOM is not encouraging.” - said the minister.

The minister's words are seen as a clear warning for TECOM that the government is not willing to wait anymore. Mr Sharma disclosed that the government is yet to start negotiations regarding finding another promoter for Smart City project.

The minister warned that the government would be forced to seek legal action, if TECOM backs off from the dream project. He pointed out that TECOM is making demands, which are not in the MoU signed and such demands are not acceptable to the government. 

Gold rebounds on wedding season demand, global cues

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Gold prices rebounded by Rs 115 to Rs 18,790 per 10 gram in the bullion market in New Delhi on Saturday on aggressive buying by stockists and jewellers for the ongoing marriage season amid a firming global trend.
The precious metal gained 2.30 dollar to 1,214.30 dollar an ounce in overseas markets.
Standard gold and ornaments recovered sharply by Rs 115 each to Rs 18,790 and Rs 18,640 per ten gram respectively. They had lost Rs 135 in the previous trading session. Sovereign gained Rs 50 to Rs 14,600 per piece of eight gram.
Spurred by an all-round boom in buying for the wedding season and a firming global trend, gold prices climbed to a record level of Rs 18,810 on Wednesday.
However, silver ready held steady at Rs 29,600 per kg and weekly-based delivery gained Rs 20 to Rs 29,275 per kg.
Silver coins continue to be asked around the previous level of Rs 34,400 for buying and Rs 34,500 for selling of 100 pieces.

Diana's black dress goes on the block

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It was black and strapless, with a sassy sequined flounce at the bodice and a gloriously full, swishy skirt. The dress was, Lady Diana Spencer thought, so grown-up, just right for her first official engagement after the announcement she was to marry Prince Charles.
But when photographs emerged of the then 19-year-old Diana emerging from a limousine at a March, 1981 charity event - all creamy shoulders and ample decolletage - there was a minor scandal over the revealing cut. According to Elizabeth Emanuel, who designed the ball gown with her husband David, they didn't realize the furor the dress would cause.
"She just looked fantastic. At that time, she was curvy. Not fat in any way, but she had cleavage, we love cleavage. And she looked great in this dress," Emanuel said in an interview Friday.
"We in no way expected there to be such a reaction. And I think from that moment on, Diana became a fashion icon."
The dress had been missing for years until David Emanuel recently discovered it in a plastic bag at his home. Along with other garments worn by Diana and designed by the Emanuels, it is to be auctioned off June 8 in a sale that includes the silk chiffon blouse chosen for the Princess of Wales' official engagement portrait by Lord Snowdon, and the calico prototype used to fit her famous ivory wedding gown.
Prince Charles reportedly didn't like the ballgown she wore to the charity event, because he thought black was for people in mourning. Diana thought it was tres chic, and anyway, she had nothing else to wear.
"She was unsophisticated at that point, and when I look at the wedding dress and the black ballgown I can see a young girl's dream of the ultimate party dress or romantic dress," said auctioneer Kerry Taylor, whose eponymous firm is handling the sale.
"So there's an innocence about these early pieces.
"Later on she became very svelte, very sophisticated, very elegant," Taylor said.
"But here we see just a very beautiful, innocent young girl, and the clothes reflect that." For the editors of Britain's voracious press, the dress - and the snaps of Diana in it - would kick off a long love affair with the princess.
"Up until that point, they'd seen her as a floppy-haired puppy," said Christopher Wilson, a seasoned observer who has written extensively on the royals. "And that's the moment Fleet Street fell in love with her.
"It all stretches back to that one picture." Taylor and Elizabeth Emanuel are hopeful the collection will go to a museum _ the black dress is expected to fetch between 30,000 and 50,000 pounds ($44,000 to $73,000) and the prototype of the wedding dress between 8,000 and 12,000 pounds ($12,000 to $17,000) - but understand that Diana's legacy means there's a strong chance a private collector may snap up the garments.
Despite the reaction to her ballgown, Diana liked it enough to ask the Emanuels to take it in when it became too large for her, as she was constantly losing weight. In the months leading up to her wedding, Diana's waist dropped from 26 to 24 inches, and the Emanuels decided it would be easier to just make her a new, smaller version of the dress. Elizabeth Emanuel said she doesn't know what happened to the second version.
The collection up for sale includes sketches, notes, invoices - one shows Diana's mother paid 1,000 guineas for the wedding party's dresses, which was the equivalent of 1,050 pounds - and even the handbag that Elizabeth Emanuel carried to the wedding at St. Paul's Cathedral on July 29, 1981. It still has the smelling salts the designer brought along in case her famous client felt faint. (She didn't, Emanuel said, describing Diana as the epitome of calm.)
"Diana was just fantastic. From the moment we first met her, she was just like a regular client. She was lovely, down-to-earth, very sweet, very calm, very friendly. She made a point of meeting everybody in the work room and she was just so easy to get on with," Emanuel said. "We had so much fun."

Clinton evolves into Obama's `Mr Fix It'

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Former US president Bill Clinton has in the last 18 months become indispensable to the incumbent Barack Obama in ways many in his administration did not anticipate. 
According to The Washington Post, Clinton has become a roving, always on-call fixer who lends his political skills to help Obama and the Democrats in tough situations.
Clinton is campaigning and raising money in places where Obama is less (or less than) welcome.
And, as was revealed Friday, he has been an intermediary on sensitive, off-the-grid conversations with candidates such as Republican Joe Sestak, whom he tried -- on behalf of the White House -- to talk out of running for the Senate.
One of Clinton's lowest political moments as president was when his party lost both houses of Congress in 1994. Now, with Obama's Democratic majority similarly imperiled, 44 is turning to 42 for help.
The Republicans have taken notice, suggesting that Clinton might play a bigger role this cycle than Obama.
Clinton's relationship with Obama was strained through much of the 2008 campaign, but things between them improved when Obama appointed Hillary Rodham Clinton Secretary of State.
Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, a former Clinton aide and confidante, helped ease the tension.
Clinton and Obama have appeared together at least 11 times since Obama's inauguration, including on Thursday, when the two lunched at the White House.

Terrorist who masterminded bomb attack nabbed

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A terrorist, who allegedly masterminded a bomb attack on the convoy of the Dera Sacha Sauda sect chief in Karnal two years ago, has been caught by the Punjab police.
Bakshish Singh Baba was nabbed from Amritsar recently by the Special Operation Cell and was being interrogated, top police sources said on Saturday.
The police was trying to apprehend his other accomplices hiding in Punjab and neighbouring states, they added.
According to the sources, the Khalisthan Liberation Force terrorist was wanted for "masterminding" the bomb attack on Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Raheem Singh in Karnal in February 2008 in which nine persons were injured.
Baba, carrying a reward of Rs 5 lakh on his head, was allegedly involved in more than 25 cases of terror related activities and destruction of public property in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. He had fled to Pakistan soon after the attack on the Dera chief's convoy, they said.
During the interrogation, police was attempting to extract the information that as to how he had gone to Pakistan and how he returned to India, besides his stay in Pakistan.
Baba is a resident of Osmana village of Ludhiana district of Punjab.

80 dead as Islamic militants attack mosques in Pakistan

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Some 80 people died and dozens were wounded in the worst-ever attack against the Ahmadi sect.

Officials said the assaults in Lahore were carried out by at least seven men, including three suicide bombers. Two attackers were captured.

At one point, a gunman fired bullets from atop a minaret.

It was one of the first times militants have deployed gun and suicide squads and taken hostages in a co-ordinated attack on a religious minority in Pakistan.

Yesterday's attacks took place in the Model Town and Garhi Shahu districts of Lahore, Pakistan's second-largest city and one of its most important, both politically and militarily.

The assault at Model Town was relatively brief and involved four attackers spraying worshippers with bullets before exploding hand grenades, said Sajjad Bhutta, Lahore's deputy commissioner.

Several kilometres away at Garhi Shahu, the stand-off lasted about four hours.

TV footage showed an attacker on the top of a minaret of the mosque at one point in the siege, firing an assault rifle and throwing hand grenades.

Outside, police traded bullets with the gunmen.

Mr Bhutta said at least three attackers held several people hostage inside the Garhi Shahu mosque. The three wore jackets filled with ammunition.

"They fought the police for some time, but on seeing they were being defeated they exploded themselves," he said.

Two attackers were caught, and one was being treated for wounds, Punjab province police chief Tariq Saleem Dogar said. It was reported that the Punjab province branch of the Pakistani Taleban had claimed responsibility. However, such attacks often spur unverifiable claims of responsibility from various groups.

The province's top executive, chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, appealed for calm.

"We, our security forces, will fight this menace till the end," Mr Sharif said. "Attacks on places of worship is barbarianism. It is a shame to cause bloodshed in mosques."

Muslim leaders have accused Ahmadis of defying the basic tenet of Islam that says Mohammed was the final prophet – Ahmadis argue that their leader was the saviour rather than a prophet.

The long-standing threat to minorities in nation allied to the United States has been exacerbated as the Sunni extremist Taleban and al-Qaeda movements have spread.

Luqman Ahmad, 36, was sitting waiting for prayers to start when he heard gunshots and then an explosion. He quickly lay down and closed his eyes.

"It was like a war going on around me. The cries I heard sent chills down my spine," he said. "I kept on praying, 'May God save me from this hell'.

"I cannot understand what logic these terrorists have by attacking worshippers and harmless people like us," he said, describing how he had seen bodies and blood all around.

Also yesterday, a suspected US missile strike killed 11 alleged militants and wounded three others in the Nazai Narai area of the South Waziristan tribal region, intelligence officials said.

The exact identities of the dead were not immediately clear, said the officials.

Elsewhere, in Pakistan's south-west Baluchistan province yesterday, gunmen on a motorcycle killed four police officers in Quetta city.

One of the officers had helped to arrest militants from the banned Sunni extremist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, senior police official Naveed Ahmed said.

Train derailment in Bengal More bodies still trapped

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At least 120 passengers are feared killed and 160 injured after suspected Maoists derailed 13 coaches of Mumbai-bound Gyaneshwari Express leading to a collision with a goods train in West Midnapore district early on Friday.

Investigating officials have ruled out blast as the cause for the accident in West Midnapore on Friday. It is confirmed that the derailment was not due to a blast, they said.

Five of the coaches were hit by a speeding goods train that came from the opposite direction on an adjoining track.

According to preliminary investigations, fishplates had been unbolted in a section of the track that may have led to the derailment. On reaching the site around 9.30 am, rediff.com's correpondent saw fishplates lying unscrewed in a section of the track. The correspondent also found the railway track was dug as deep as two-feet at one part.

A fishplate is a metal or wooden plate bolted to the sides of two abutting rails.

At least 160 others are feared to be trapped inside the crashed bogies, sources said.

Though officials said they had removed 65 bodies from the site, doctors and those involved with the rescue operation told rediff.com that the figure could be much higher.

Union Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee [ Images ], who rushed to the site around 6 am, said she had been told that an explosion on the tracks had caused the derailment.

"We fear this is a Maoist attack," Banerjee said.

"The railways are a soft target… The Maoists have attacked the railway in the past and, it seems, even now," she said.

However, railway officials said a section of the rail had been removed.

West Bengal [ Images ] Relief Minister Mortaja Hussain said hundreds of people are feared trapped in the train, which was heading to Mumbai [ Images ] from Kolkata [ Images ].

Though the railway ministry had earlier assured that pilot cars would guide passenger trains travelling through Maoist-infested areas, reports said there was none on Thursday night.

The incident occurred around 1.30 am on Friday in West Midnapore -- a Maoist stronghold about 135 km west of Kolkata.

The Maoists had declared four-day bandh in and around the area where the accident occurred.

However, they are yet to claim responsibility for the alleged attack. Maoist posters have been found at the site.

Indian Air Force helicopters have been pressed into service at the accident spot and have airlifted some of the injured to hospitals. The Border Security Force disaster management team is also on its way to the site.

Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is at the accident spot, said that the blast which caused the express train to derail took place on the first day today of a four-day 'Black week' called by the Maoists.

Banerjee said that a patrol engine had passed through the area half an hour earlier, but the timing of the blast proved disastrous with a portion of the line being blown away.

She announced Rs 5 lakh for the next of kin of each of the dead and Rs 1 lakh for the injured.

This is the second Maoist attack on civilians this month. Naxals had blown up a civilian bus in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh on May 17, killing at least 36 people, including 12 Special Police Officers.

South Eastern Railway Public Relations Officer Soumitra Majumdar said the train had 24 coaches. After the explosion, 13 including 10 sleeper coaches, derailed of which five were hit by the goods train coming on the opposite track.

An unreserved coach, the pantry car and luggage van also derailed, he said.

Relief officials used gas cutters to extricate trapped passengers and bodies from the mangled remains of the affected coaches. Passengers' belongings lay strewn scattered on the tracks.

Angry passengers said the first signs of relief came only around 5 am, three-and-a-half hours after the incident.

Nine of the coaches which were not damaged in the blast took the injured and the other passengers to Kharagpur where they were admitted to hospital.

Anti-Maoist forces were at the spot and assisting the police and rescue personnel in extricating the bodies from four badly damaged sleeper coaches S-5, S-6, S-7 and S-8.

West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee has asked state Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta to immediately rush to Sardiha, the site of the accident.

"I have been asked by the chief minister to rush to the accident site with six special rescue teams and three mobile ambulances," Dasgupta said before leaving for the accident spot on Friday morning.

The state government would bear the treatment cost of the injured passengers, chief minister's secretariat sources said.

Senior railway officials including Railway Board Chairman S S Khurana and DG RPF rushed to the spot.

A relief train left Kharagpur with a team of 12 doctors and 20 paramedics as also two doctors from the Kalaikunda airbase, the officials said.

Helplines have been set up at Kharagpur -- (0322) 255751 and 255735, Howrah - (033) 26382217, besides a toll free number 10722.

Helplines have also been set up at Tatanagar (0657) 2290324, 2290074, 2290382, at Rourkela (0661) 2511155, Chakradharpur (06587) 238072 and Jharsuguda (06445) 270977.

Plane crash at Hyderabad air show, both pilots dead

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It was a horrific sight for Hyderabad. A Navy plane taking part in an air show freefell in seconds, nosediving from the sky straight into a three-storey building in Bowenpally, a residential area near Hyderabad's Begumpet airport. (Watch: The mangled remains of the plane)

Both pilots Commander S K Maurya and Rahul Nair were killed. Four people were injured.

"The co-pilot tried to eject but I don't know if he had enough reaction time. Or the parachute did not open because it did not have sufficient height and he died right near the crash site. The pilot's body was found on top of the building where the aircraft crashed," said A K Khan, Hyderabad police commissioner.

The aircraft that crashed was a Kiran MK-II aircraft belonging to the 'Sagar Pawan' aerobatic team of the Navy. (Read: What is Navy's Sagar Pawan?) It was performing the final loop of the 'Downward Bomb Burst' manoeuvre when it started freefalling. The air show was part of the inaugural ceremony for the India Aviation Summit.

The building that was hit went up in flames but did not collapse. Eyewitnesses say that because the aircraft crashed into a water tank on top of the building, the fire was controlled. "There was a big sound and we came. There was a mother and son. They jumped from the window and her leg was fractured. We moved her to safety," says an onlooker. (Watch: Eyewitnesses describe the crash)

Seconds after the plane hit the building in the heart of the city, a loud explosion was heard, and a cloud of smoke surrounded the area. Two fire engines and thirty fire-fighters were rushed to the location. But the narrow streets and the crowd of onlookers made rescue operations tough.

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