Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Astronaut spots "bullet hole" in ISS solar panel

Astronaut spots "bullet hole" in ISS solar panel
 An Astronaut on-board the
International Space Station has spotted a small object,
possibly a meteoroid, that flew through a solar panel, leaving
a "bullet hole" on ISS.
    Expedition 35 commander Chris Hadfield shared a photo on a
social networking site, showing a portion of one of the solar
array wings on the ISS with a small but very visible hole made
by a passing meteoroid.
    Hadfield referred to the object in one of the panel cells
as "a small stone from the universe."
    "Glad it missed the hull," Hadfield said.
    Likened to a bullet hole, whatever struck the solar panel
was actually travelling much faster when it hit, 'Universe
Today' website reported.
    Meteoroids are travelling through space at speeds of well
over 40234kph - many times faster than any bullet, the website
    The ISS, luckily, has a multi-layered hull consisting of
layers of different materials, providing protection from
micrometeorite impacts.
    If an object were to hit an inhabited section of the
Station, it would be slowed down enough by the different
layers to either not make it to the main hull or else merely
create an audible "ping."

Compulsion---Important meeting on FDI in defence, other issues tomorrow

Compulsion---Important meeting  on FDI in defence, other issues tomorrow

     Commerce and Industry Minister
Anand Sharma is expected to discuss hiking of FDI cap in the
defence sector as well as other issues related to foreign
direct investment with Finance Minister P Chidambaram
     "A meeting has been scheduled between both the ministers
for tomorrow. The Commerce and Industry Minister may discuss
the issue of increasing FDI ceiling in defence and on
redefining FDI and FII," according to an official source.
     Sharma is pitching for hiking FDI cap in defence to 49
per cent from the current 26 per cent.
     India is one of the largest defence importers in the
world with a minuscule component of exports. India at present
imports over USD 8 billion worth of such equipment and its
defence budget is growing at an average of 13.4 per cent
annually since 2006-07.
     According to sources, Sharma is also likely to discuss
matters related to redefining FDI and foreign institutional
investment (FII) to remove ambiguities.
     On this, the Reserve Bank is expected to soon come out
with a discussion paper.
     Chidambaram, in his Budget speech, had proposed to follow
the international practice with regard to defining FDI and
FII. According to the proposed definition, if an investor has
a stake of 10 per cent or less in a company, the investment
would be treated as FII. And if an investor has a stake of
more than 10 per cent, it would be treated as FDI.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Civil Aviation Ministry Permits Scheduled Airlines to Charge Fees for Certain Unbundles Services Separately

Civil Aviation Ministry Permits Scheduled Airlines to Charge Fees for Certain Unbundles Services Separately

The Minister for Civil Aviation ,Shri Ajit Singh, has decided to permit scheduled airlines to unbundle certain services and to charge fees for these services separately. This is based on the recommendations of the Nathan Economic Consultants in their report on “Economic Regulations to Airlines Ticket Pricing in India”. Nathan Economic Consultants in their report have recommended unbundling of services “since it has become a necessary aspect of exercising more control over operational costs and running a successful airline”.  Globally, scheduled airlines are permitted to unbundle services and levy a charge for each of the unbundled services. These are called “Unbundled Flight Products” or a la carte pricing. 
The objective of the decision is to facilitate airlines to offer low base fare for price sensitive travellers, while at the same time offer choice to service seekers at a price.  This will allow the passengers to benefit from lower base fares and to customise the product to better suit their requirements and budget while allowing airlines to develop more sustainable operations in an environment of wafer thin margins.

DGCA is empowered to monitor the levy of charges for such services/flight products under Rule 135 of the Aircraft Rules, 1937 and such services come under tariff as per the definition provided under Section-5 of the Aircraft Act. However, the levy of such charges will be based on the following principles:-
1.    Safety, schedule and reliability not to be compromised.
2.    Services permitted for unbundling shall be distinct with a clear description and without any ambiguity.
3.    Services to be provided on opt-in basis and not on opt-out basis i.e. customers should be given opportunity to pick and choose which amenities they want to receive and pay for.
4.    Charges for unbundled services shall be a fixed amount and announced well in advance by the airlines which shall not vary with the base fare for a particular flight.
5.    The key guiding principle shall be adequate disclosure and transparency on the part of airlines on the websites, online travel portals and  travel agents so that the consumers maximize the informed choice.
6.    Airline to file details of services to be unbundled and fee charges for the same to DGCA in terms of product description, charges/fee, manner of disclosure to public, terms and conditions etc.
7.    DGCA may not fix fee for unbundled services but shall have the right to intervene and stop charging if regulatory principles are violated by the airlines.
List of Services
1.    Preferential seating
2.    Meal/snack/drink charges (except drinking water)
3.    Charge for using Airlines’ lounges
4.    Check in baggage charges
5.    Sports equipment carriage
6.    Musical instrument carriage
7.    Fee for special declaration of valuable baggage – (allow for higher unit on carrier liability).
[List will be reviewed after a period of six months.]

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

China sticks to its stand; says no incursion by its troops

China sticks to its stand; says no incursion by its troops

                    Ignoring India's demand to revert
to a status-quo in Depsang Valley, China today firmly stuck to
its stand that its troops have not violated the Line of Actual
Control (LAC) in the Ladakh region.
          "I want to reiterate here that the Chinese border troops
have been acting in strict compliance with the bilateral
agreements and conducting normal patrol on the Chinese side of
the LAC. They have never crossed the line", Chinese Foreign
Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing here.
          She was replying to a question on yesterday's flag
meeting between the militaries of the two countries in Ladakh
region and subsequent assertion by India that status quo
should be restored.
          Hua's assertion, reiterating her remarks made on April
22, makes it clear that China is sticking to its stand that
there is no violation and its troops may stay put in the area
until it is resolved through the talks.
            Hua said both sides have opened the "communication
channels" to discuss the issue though the consultation
mechanisms on boundary issue.
            But, at the same time she said both sides should stick to
the consensus reached so far on LAC.
            "The two sides should abide by their consensus which is
in the interest of both. The two sides should work together to
properly resolve border issues with in the framework of
existing mechanisms and create favourable conditions for the
bilateral relations", she said.
            This is the first time, after the controversy broke, that
China has acknowledged that the issue is being discussed
between the two countries.

China may have provided Pak with N-weapons designs: document

China may have provided Pak with N-weapons designs: document

China might have provided its
close ally Pakistan a fairly comprehensive package of proven
nuclear weapons design in late 1970s and the CIA knew about
it, according to a recently declassified document.
            "The CIA had evidence suggesting close Pakistan-China
nuclear cooperation, to the point of facilitating a nuclear
weapons capability, although the intelligence community saw
this as possibly a special case based on an alliance that had
existed since 1963," according to recently declassified CIA
data, obtained by the National Security Archive (NSA) under
the Freedom of Information Act.
            According to the document, this allegation has come up
before, for example in a State Department document and in
major news stories but this is the first time the CIA has
released some of its own information.
            "The estimate highlights some of the main developments,
including 'verbal consent (in 1974) to help Pakistan develop a
nuclear blast capability', 'hedged and conditional commitment'
in 1976 to provide nuclear weapons technology, and unspecified
excised information that raised the possibility that China has
provided a fairly comprehensive package of proven nuclear
weapon design information," it said.
            "Even without Chinese help, the Pakistanis could develop
a nuclear weapon, but access to Chinese weapons design and
test data might be crucial in establishing Islamabad's
confidence in an untested weapons capability," said a 1983
national intelligence estimate of the CIA, which is heavily
            The exchanges may not have been one-way and the reference
to Chinese "involvement" in Pakistan's uranium enrichment
programme probably refers to gas centrifuge technology, which
Pakistan shared with China, it noted.
            Significant portions of the document covering technology
sharing are excised, but more may be learned if additional
details are released under appeal, the NSA added.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

What a feeling!!!!Darshan of Sai on Ramnavmi

It is great to have darshan of Sai at Shirdi .Get blessed by watching Ramnavmi celebrations.See our bhakt brothers and sisters.
It is a great feeling to see Sai in Shirdi

Monday, April 15, 2013

Pope backs report critical of 'radical feminist' US nuns

Pope backs report critical of 'radical feminist' US nuns

   Pope Francis has backed a
doctrinal report drawn up under his predecessor Benedict XVI
that accused the largest group of nuns in the US of holding
"radical feminist" views, the Vatican said in a statement
    The new pope has "reaffirmed the findings of the
assessment and the programme of reform" for the Leadership
Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), which represents around
45,000 US nuns and is known for its social work, the Vatican
    The statement said the head of the Vatican's Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith, Ludwig Mueller, met with
representatives of the LCWR in the Vatican today in an attempt
to smooth over differences.
    Mueller thanked the group for its work in "many schools,
hospitals, and institutions of support for the poor" in the
US, the statement said.
    But he also emphasised the need for the group to cooperate
with US bishops and said LCWR was legally "under the direction
of the Holy See".
    The Vatican report issued in 2012 following a three-year
investigation pointed to "serious doctrinal problems" and
"unacceptable positions".
    It appointed the Archbishop of Seattle, Peter Sartain, to
ensure the group toe the line.
    The report accused LCWR members of "dissent" with Church
teachings against homosexuality and said they were pursuing
"radical feminist themes".
    It condemned LCWR for being "silent on the right to life
from conception to natural death".
    The report also said a position stated by LCWR in 1977
against the ordination of priests as a male prerogative "has
never been corrected".

Indian Air force now capable of meeting twin challenge from China, Pak

IAF now capable of meeting twin challenge from China, Pak

  Considering the threat perception
from both China and Pakistan, IAF has upgraded its
capabilities to meet any challenge from the two fronts
    These capabilities were tested successfully for the first
time during the recent three-week war games 'Livewire' in
which over 400 fighter jets participated, IAF sources said
here today.
    In the exercise, which commenced on March 18, the IAF
created a simulated scenario of a challenge from both eastern
and western fronts simultaneously.
    Testing its capabilities to meet the challenge, the IAF
swiftly mobilised its frontline fighter and transport aircraft
from Pakistan border to the eastern front, particularly the
recently-developed Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs) in the
Northeast, the sources said.
    All the major aircraft of the IAF including the Su-30MKI,
Mirage 2000, Jaguars, MiG 29, MiG 27s and the MiG 21s took
part in the war games.
    They said the force kept the required number of aircraft
in the western front while mobilising the majority of its
assets including the mid-air refuelling aircraft towards the
eastern front, they said.
    All the air-fields in the northeast including the eight
Advanced Landing Grounds at Along, Walong, Tuting, Ziro,
Pasighat, Vijay Nagar and Tawang were activated and were
manned for operations of all types of fighter and transport
aircraft operations.
    This was the first time that such an exercise was
conducted by the IAF where it tested its capabilities on both
the possible war fronts, sources said.

World military spending falls, but China, Russia’s spending rises,India spends less, says SIPRI

World military spending falls, but China, Russia’s spending rises,India spends less, says SIPRI

World military expenditure totalled $1.75 trillion in 2012, a fall of 0.5 per cent in real terms since 2011, according to figures released today by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The fall—the first since 1998—was driven by major spending cuts in the USA and Western and Central Europe, as well as in Australia, Canada and Japan. The reductions were, however, substantially offset by increased spending in Asia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and Latin America. China, the second largest spender in 2012, increased its expenditure by 7.8 per cent ($11.5 billion). Russia, the third largest spender, increased its expenditure by 16 per cent ($12.3 billion).

Despite the drop, the global total was still higher in real terms than the peak near the end of the cold war.

'We are seeing what may be the beginning of a shift in the balance of world military spending from the rich Western countries to emerging regions, as austerity policies and the drawdown in Afghanistan reduce spending in the former, while economic growth funds continuing increases elsewhere,' said Dr Sam Perlo-Freeman, Director of SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme. 'However, the USA and its allies are still responsible for the great majority of world military spending. The NATO members together spent a trillion dollars.'

The USA: wars ending, cuts biting

In 2012 the USA's share of world military spending went below 40 per cent for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union. A declining trend that began in 2011 accelerated in 2012, with a drop in US military spending of 6 per cent in real terms to $682 billion.

The decline is mostly the result of reduced war spending, which fell from $159 billion in FY 2011 to $115 billion in FY 2012, and is set to continue its downward course, with only $87 billion requested for 2013.

US military spending in 2012 was also projected to be $15 billion lower than previously planned as a result of cuts to the Department of Defense linked to the 2011 Budget Control Act. The bulk of cuts under this legislation will begin in 2013.

A wider slowdown

Austerity policies also caused falls in military spending in most of Europe in 2012. Since the 2008 global financial crisis, 18 of the 31 countries in the European Union or European NATO have cut military spending by more than 10 per cent in real terms.

Even in those parts of the world where spending has increased, the effects of the economic crisis can still be seen: slowing economic growth in emerging regions has led to slower rates of growth in military spending. Only the Middle East and North Africa increased their rate of military spending between 2003–2009 and 2009–2012.

The average annual rate of military spending increase in Asia, for instance, has halved from 7.0 per cent per year in 2003–2009, to 3.4 per cent per year in 2009–2012. The slow-down was most dramatic in Central and South Asia, where military spending was growing by an average of 8 per cent per year in 2003–2009, but by only 0.7 per cent a year since 2009, and actually fell in 2012, by 1.6 per cent.

'All the indications are that world military spending is likely to keep falling for the next two to three years—at least until NATO completes its withdrawal from Afghanistan at the end of 2014,' said Dr Perlo-Freeman, 'However, spending in emerging regions will probably go on rising, so the world total will probably bottom out after that.'

Notable regional developments

• Military expenditure in Asia and Oceania rose by 3.3 per cent in 2012. Large increases were seen in Viet Nam, where tensions with China are prompting major naval purchases, and in Indonesia. Spending in India decreased by 2.8 per cent.

• Military spending increased sharply across North Africa, by 7.8 per cent in real terms, the result of both ongoing military modernization and concern over terrorist groups in the Sahel. Military spending in sub-Saharan Africa fell by 3.2 per cent.

• Military spending in the Middle East rose by 8.4 per cent rise in 2012. The largest percentage increase worldwide in 2012 was by Oman (a 51 per cent rise). Saudi Arabia also increased spending by 12 per cent. Spending by Iran, Qatar, Syria and the United Arab Emirates is unknown.

• In Latin America military spending increased by 4.2 per cent in 2012. The largest increases were by Paraguay (43 per cent) and Venezuela (42 per cent). The increasing role of the military in combating drug cartels pushed Mexico's spending up by 9.7 per cent.

• Military spending in Eastern Europe increased by 15.3 per cent in 2012, the largest regional increase. Besides Russia, Ukraine also increased its spending substantially—by 24 per cent.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

North Korea's Twitter account hacked amid tension

North Korea's Twitter account hacked amid tension

 Hackers have apparently disrupted North
Korea's government-run Twitter account. The disruption comes
at a time of rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
    The North's Uriminzokkiri's Twitter account today
displayed four tweets saying "hacked." A fifth tweet said
"Tango Down" and was followed by a link to Uriminzokkiri's
Flickr page.
    Both sites were running today but carrying content that
differed sharply from content typically posted by the regime
in Pyongyang, leading viewers to assume the accounts had been
    North Korea opened its Uriminzokkiri Twitter account in
2010 to use the social media to praise its system and

North Korea moves missile to east coast: report

North Korea moves missile to east coast: report

  North Korea appears to have moved a
medium range missile capable of hitting targets in South Korea
and Japan to its east coast, the South's Yonhap news agency
reported today.
    The movement was detected by both South Korean and US
intelligence, Yonhap said, citing military and government
    "It appeared that the object was a Musudan mid-range
missile," it quoted one South Korean official as saying.
    "We are closely monitoring whether the North moved it with
a view to actual launch or just as a show of force against the
US," the official added.
    Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper also carried a similar
    The Musudan missile was first unveiled at a military
parade in October 2010 and is believed to have an intended
range of around 3,000 kilometres. However, it is not known to
have been tested.
    Yonhap cited intelligence sources as saying the North
might launch the missile on April 15, the birth anniversary of
founding leader Kim Il-Sung.
    The South Korean Defence Ministry declined to confirm the
report, but stressed that it kept a "24-hour watch" for any
potential North Korean missile launches.
    "We believe there is always an open possibility for a
missile launch and related measures have been prepared,"
ministry spokesman Wi Yong-Seop told reporters without
    The United States said yesterday it was sending
ground-based missile interceptors to Guam in response to North
Korean threats to strike the Pacific island and other US
    A US territory that is home to 6,000 American military
personnel, submarines and bombers, Guam lies 3,380 kilometres
southeast of North Korea.
    Experts say the Musudan could theoretically be pushed to
such a range, but the lack of tests means it lacks any proven
strike capability, even on targets closer to home.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Indian Railways enter one billion plus club in freight loading

Railways enter one billion plus club in freight loading
With the loading target exceeding
1007 million tonnes (MT) by the end of March, Railways today
entered the select group of billion plus club in freight
movement with China, Russia and USA.
    "We transported about 1010 MT freight as against the
target of 1007 MT for 2012-13," a senior Railway Ministry
official said, adding, "With this we are now part of the
billion plus group in the world."
    In March alone, railways carried 99 MT goods as against an
average of 80 MT to 85 MT being carried every month. While USA
carried 1380 MT, Russia's loading was 1200 MT and China
touched 1100 MT mark in 2012-13.
    Last year, railways had marginally failed to achieve the
loading target as the national transporter could carry 969.8
MT against the target of 970 MT.
    Congratulating railwaymen for the achievement, Railway
Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said, "It is really creditable to
achieve this significant freight loading despite present
economic scenario the world over."
    He said Indian Railways will play the role of engine of
growth for country's economy.
    Attributing the achievement to the surge in demand for
coal, the official said, "Special effort was made to ensure
transport of coal to power houses as the demand started
increasing from July 2012. The demand for cement, iron ore and
steel loading was also picked up later."
    Coal movement, crucial for freight, constitute 42 per cent
of total loadings of railways followed by cement (24 per cent)
iron ore (21 per cent) and steel (14 per cent).
    Admitting it as a challenging task as there was slowdown
in goods traffic during May, June and the first fortnight of
July, the official said there were about 300 rakes lying idle
during the period.
    "We increased the average speed of freight trains from 22
km to 37 km per hour and also added more wagons per rake from
50 to 58 as we focused on heavier, longer and faster movement
of trains," the official said.
    Railways has kept the loading target at 1047 MT for the
fiscal 2013-14.
    "We are hopeful of achieving this target also as there
would be greater foodgrain movement as the government is
planning to legislate food security bill in coming months," he

Transformation in China policy---Strengthen combat readiness to win wars: Top Chinese official

Strengthen combat readiness to win wars: Top Chinese official

Amidst escalating maritime disputes
between China and its neighbours, a top Chinese military
official has called on the armed forces to "strengthen combat
preparedness and ensure victories in wars".
            Fan Changlong, the vice chairman of the Central Military
Commission (CMC), the apex military body which controlled the
2.3 million strong military, made the remarks during an
inspection tour of troops stationed in east China's Jiangsu,
Fujian and Zhejiang provinces.
            The army should always maintain its readiness and
fighting abilities to ensure victory, Fan said.
            The CMC is headed by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
            Fan asked all military staff to comprehend and implement
the key points conveyed by Xi asking the military to be
absolutely to loyal to the ruling Communist Party of China,
            "Military officers and soldiers must be absolutely loyal,
pure and reliable, and firmly follow the directions of the
Central Committee of the CPC, Central Military Commission and
chairman Xi," Fan said.
            Fan, who is also a Political Bureau member of the CPC
Central Committee, urged military staff to step up training,
especially in complex situations such as electromagnetic
environment and field operations.
            Training must be strict and targeted to meet real wartime
needs rather than a show, he said.
            His comments came as China grappled with escalating
tensions with Japan over the disputed islands as well as other
South East Asian countries on the sovereignty over the South
China Sea.