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Another Indian student attacked in Oz

Melbourne, June 12 (ANI): In yet another attack on Indians in Australia, a 22-year-old student was allegedly assaulted by a teenager in Adelaide's busy Rundle Mall.

According to the police, the attack took place on Thursday. The student suffered a broken nose.

A 17-year-old youth has been arrested in connection with the case.

Meanwhile, Indian students in Melbourne and Sydney organised another rally against what they claimed were racially motivated attacks by groups of Middle Eastern men.

There have been a string of attacks in Melbourne during the past few days, which Australian authorities insist have been crime-related.

Indian students believe that the attacks were acts of racism and warned of "curry bashings" in Australia, where foreign students more than 12 billion dollars contribute. (ANI)

India is an 'absolutely critical country' for U.S.





Washington: U.S. President Barack Obama has despatched a personal letter to New Delhi making it clear that India is "an absolutely critical country" with which Washington is keen to work, a top official has said.


U.S. Undersecretary of State William Burns, who is in New Delhi to make the first high level contact with the Manmohan Singh government since its return to power, would be delivering the "presidential letter", the envoy, Richard Holbrooke, told reporters Wednesday without providing details on the contents.



"It's a private letter," said Holbrooke. "But the important thing is that the number three person in the Department of State has gone to India to reaffirm immediately after the election,"said the U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"Burns is now beginning the dialogue with the newly elected government in an atmosphere of great positive feelings," he said. "And without getting into Indian politics, all I can say is that all of us - Secretary (of State) Hillary Clinton, Bill Burns, myself, President Obama - everyone looks forward to working with the newly elected Indian Government."

"He is carrying the messages that I would have carried if I had had time to go to New Delhi on this trip, but I couldn't do it," said the envoy, who visited Pakistan last week to assess relief efforts to help the estimated two million people who have fled a Pakistani offensive against the Taliban.

"All I can tell you is that this Administration believes that what happens in Afghanistan and Pakistan is of vital interest to our national security. And ...that India is a country that we must keep in the closest consultations with."

"And we consider India an absolutely critical country in the region," Holbrooke said. "They're not part of the problem, but they are vitally affected, and we want to work closely with them," he added explaining what some observers have described as a hole in Obama administration's foreign policy focused on Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"The Indians were very frank with us. They wanted to keep in touch with us during the election period, but they had to wait through the election, just like we do. It's the world's two greatest democracies."

Holbrooke, who visited New Delhi on his first two trips to the region, said next week he would be meeting the new Indian ambassador to the U.S., Meera Shankar, whom he already met twice.

As TV moves on, millions may face blank screens in US




San Francisco, June 11 (DPA) In a land where television has long been a basic necessity of life, millions of people may find themselves without access to television Friday when the US switches from analog to digital broadcasting.

The change is part of a long-delayed update in the allocation of the wireless spectrum, which is used to broadcast everything from TV signals to mobile phone services and emergency radio traffic.

It is designed to free up valuable frequencies previously used by television stations to broadcast their signals and which will now become part of the information superhighway on which users of iPhones, Blackberries and other smartphones and mobile laptops will increasingly get the information they need to stay connected 24/7.

Those broadcast spectrums have already been sold by the US government to mobile phone companies for billions of dollars. But at least for now the scheme is far from a win-win situation on the road to communications nirvana.

Critics complain that it is the poor and disadvantaged who once again are paying the price for progress as the analog signals of local and network stations are terminated - forcing people to either subscribe to costly cable or satellite service or to buy and install digital converters for their TV sets.

Industry trade group DTV Across America estimates that between 20 and 30 million household faced the need to transition to the new system.

Aware of these issues, the US government has spent more than $2 billion on a voucher programme, in which every household can get two vouchers worth $40 each to buy two converter boxes.

However, despite a massive advertising campaign and a three-month postponement of the switch date, millions of households are estimated not to have availed themselves of the new service and are set to lose their signal entirely when analog broadcasting becomes a relic of history June 12.

The latest survey by the Nielsen Company indicates that as of the end of May, more than 10 percent of the 114 million households that have television sets are either completely or partly unprepared.

Many of those are likely to turn to a 4,000-people strong call centre set up by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to help people make the switch.

In an interview with the New York Times, acting FCC chairman Michael J. Copps conceded that the impact was likely to be hardest on poor families, the handicapped, the elderly and in homes where little English is spoken.

'We are much better prepared than we were in February, when the original transition was to have occurred, but there will nonetheless be significant disruptions,' Copps said. 'In the past five months we've tried to accomplish what should have been done over the last four years.'

There are advantages and disadvantages to watching TV through these converter boxes. Firstly, the boxes can be a hassle to install - especially for those not fond or adept at moving their televisions and dealing with the mass of cables in the back. Numerous companies do offer installation services for the new converter boxes but these services bump the cost of conversion far above the $40 value of the coupons.

In some areas the digital signal can be better than analog - though in others it can be worse or even nonexistent. Many digital boxes do offer a useful viewing guide - though some elderly people complain that learning how to navigate the system with a new remote control is fiendishly complicated.

'It has all been a nightmare, and it's very, very upsetting,' said Frances Lim, a 72-year-old woman in San Jose California. 'We don't have money for cable or satellite and were very happy with the few stations we have been getting for years. Now we have to change. I didn't know how to do it. Luckily my grandson helped me. But I'm still learning the new remote control.'

US President Barack Obama is helping the effort to prepare for the switch.

'The number of households unprepared for digital television has been cut in half. Still, some people are not ready,' said Obama in a statement last week. 'I encourage all Americans who are prepared to talk to their friends, family, and neighbours to make sure they get ready before it's too late. I urge everyone who is not yet prepared to act today.' Obama said.

Indian internet startups fail to meet VCs expectations

Bangalore: Internet Services companies in India are one of the largest venture capital [VC] funded companies in India. However, these firms have not delivered as per the expectations of the VCs. "With broadband penetration and PC affordability still an issue, internet companies have not met the expectations we had set two years back," said Sachin Maheshwari, Principal at Draper Fisher Jurvetson [DFJ] India. DFJ has funded many Internet startups like naseeb.com and seventymm.com. VCs had earlier expected the number of internet users in country to grow to 80 million by 2012. But so far it has just reached 40 million and therefore the traffic is too low to generate good revenue.



Many internet companies rely on online advertisement for revenue. They might find it difficult to survive due to low internet users. The internet advertisement revenue in country is $200 million, but majority of it is generated by Google. Few VCs feel that internet companies have not found the correct business model. "The business models that work abroad do not necessarily work in India," says Ritesh Banglani, Senior Investment Advisor, IDG Ventures India.

According to Alok Mittal, General Partner, Canaan Partners, the most successful internet companies in India are subscription based or lead generating like Naukri.com. But despite not meeting expected results, internet companies are still amongst the most favored by VCs. "We expect these companies to do better as when the internet penetration picks up and monetization models are clearer," said DFJ's Maheshwari.

According to Venture Intelligence, 21 percent of the VC deals struck between July 2008 and June 2009 were in internet services. The value of these deals was around $120 million.

American tech-firms fight Obama's H1-B visa stance





Bangalore: U.S. President Barack Obama's 'Say no to Bangalore, yes to Buffalo' rhetoric, which has gained strong ground after the introduction of the Durbin-Grassley's anti H-1B visa bill, has failed to accrue support of the American companies. Many of the U.S. firms have jointly, launched a campaign against the newly proposed law as it would lead to a job loss of as many as 2.2 million Americans.

The Technology CEO Council, a Washington-based advocacy group of U.S. American tech-companies, in its protest has released a report that reveals the affects of the new policy of Obama administration to end 'tax breaks'. The new law that ends tax incentives to those firms which create jobs overseas, would also lead to a decline in investments in the U.S. plants, equipment and property by as much as $84.2 billion. Repealing or sharply limiting deferral would not generate large tax revenues, since substantial job losses, wage cuts and lower investments would reduce tax revenues, the report said. The report commissioned by the council has been authored by Robert J Shapiro, a former Clinton administration economic official, and Aparna Mathur, a Research Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

As per the new law, the tax incentives would now go to those creating jobs inside the United States, in places like Buffalo city, bordering Canada in upstate New York. "We will stop letting American companies that create jobs overseas take deductions on their expenses when they do not pay any American taxes on their profits," Obama said.

Samsung launches solar-powered phone





Noida, June 10 (IANS) Leading white goods and mobile handset manufacturer Samsung Wednesday launched a low-cost solar-powered mobile phone, and said it was planning to introduce about 20 more models by year-end.

The new handset, launched under its low-cost line of products - 'Guru' - at a price of Rs.2,799, has a solar panel on the back, which can be used to charge the battery anywhere the sun is shining.

'We have developed this phone keeping in minds the needs of the consumers, especially for people in areas where the electric supply is unstable,' said J.S. Shin, president and chief executive of Samsung, Southwest Asia.

The phone, christened the 'Guru E1107', can provide around 5-10 minutes of talk-time with one-hour of solar charging when the handset is turned off and sunlight has adequate intensity.

'Solar charging can give you enough time to make few important calls when there is no electricity or you are not close to a plug point,' said Sunil Dutt, country head of Samsung India.

The battery will attain full power with about 40 hours of solar charging.

'But that is really not the intention behind the launch of this phone. It is to enable customers to make a call when there is no electricity,' said Dutt.

The handset, the 11th model in the Guru series, will be in shops by month-end.

The first few batches of Guru E1107 will be imported from South Korea.

Saumsung has already launched about 20 models this year and plans to take this number to about 40 across categories.

Asked whether the company would consider introducing solar charging features in high-end phones, Dutt said: 'We would definitely consider doing so.'

Samsung, which has invested about $44 million in developing its mobile manufacturing facility in Noida, also has ambitious plans for the huge Indian mobile market.

'Our market share is in the early double digits currently. We plan to increase it by about 5-6 percent this year,' said a company official.

The company is also planning to introduce in India its solar-powered touchscreen mobile handset, Blue Earth - unveiled at a technology conference in Barcelona, Spain early this year.

Prabhakaran was tortured before being killed, says report




New Delhi, June 10 (IANS) Tamil Tigers leader Velupillai Prabhakaran was tortured by the Sri Lankan military before being killed, a leading human rights body said in a report released Wednesday.

The University Teachers for Human Rights (UTHR) quoted high-level military sources as saying that Prabhakaran was tortured in the presence of 'a Tamil government politician and a general'.

The torture, it said, took place probably at the headquarters of the army's 53 Division, which battled the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) before crushing it last month.

'Several army sources have said that Prabhakaran's (younger) 12-year-old son Balachandran was killed after capture. Our (sources) said that he was killed in front of his father,' said UTHR, which has always been critical of excesses both by the military and the LTTE.

'These sources added that this information is correct unless officers at the highest level are fibbing to one another.

'Our sources in addition to several others have said that all the LTTE persons remaining in the NFZ (No Fire Zone) were massacred,' it added in a 48-page report, an advance copy of which was made available to IANS.

Sri Lanka announced May 18 that Prabhakaran, founder leader of the LTTE, was killed in a lonely coastal stretch in the northeastern district of Mullaitivu where the Tigers had massed their forces before going down.

His body was put on display, placed on a stretcher, the back of the head blown off.

Sri Lankan minister Vinayagamurthy Muralitharan alias Karuna, a former confidant of Prabhakaran, had told IANS that the LTTE chief was shot dead with 18 of his guards.

Prabhakaran's death marked the end of the LTTE's dragging conflict that claimed 90,000 lives since 1983.

UTHR said: 'Information seeping into the public domain from within the army points to capture or surrender, but the official responses dismissing this are a rehash of stories that public no longer finds credible. It is left to an impartial enquiry to answer this and related questions.'

UTHR pointed out that the government was evasive about the fate of Prabhakaran's wife Mathivathani.

It quotes a brigadier as saying: 'We had to look for Prabhakaran's body because the world was interested in seeing it. But the body of his wife is not of any importance to us.'

The UTHR report said: 'That would be the fate of the unknown hundreds of civilians and militants killed in those last days (of fighting).'

According to the report, among the LTTE leaders who surrendered to the army included Baby Subramaniam, a member of the group since 1976 and one of Prabhakaran's oldest associates.

Others reportedly now in government custody included former eastern province political leader Karikalan, former spokesman Yogaratnam Yogi, former head of the LTTE international secretariat Lawrence Thilakar, political advisor V. Balakumar, Jaffna leader Ilamparithi and Trincomalee political leader Elilan.

Attack on Indian students: Time to issue advisory on Australia






NEW DELHI: As the spate of attacks against Indian students continued in Australia, India increased pressure on Australia to ensure the safety of
Indians protest
Indian students studying in different parts of the country and warned that the attacks could have an adverse effect on that country’s education sector.

At the same time Prime Minister Manmohan Singh raising the issue in a telephonic conversation with his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd who had called to offer his congratulations on a second term. Mr Rudd assured the Prime Minister that action was being taken.

“Prime Minister Rudd said that the overwhelming majority of Indian students were safe and that he took the issue of the security of all foreign students in Australia very seriously. He said that he was appalled by the attacks and that the concerned authorities would work to bring the perpetrators to justice,’’ a PMO release said.

In a similar vein Australian foreign minister Stephen Smith called up external affairs minister SM Krishna and assured him that steps were being taken to not only protect students but also to arrest the culprits behind the attacks. As news of yet another attack came in, New Delhi conveyed its concern to Canberra at the highest levels both in Australia and India. The ministry of external affairs on Friday called in Australian ambassador to India John McCarthy to convey India’s “deep anguish and continuing concern’’ about the attacks and to push the Kevin Rudd government to take steps for the security of students.

“It was conveyed to the Australian High Commissioner that, continuing sense of unease and insecurity, for Indian students in Australia, can have an adverse effect, in a sector that holds much promise,’’ said a statement by MEA official spokesperson Vishnu Prakash. Mr McCarthy apprised MEA secretary N. Ravi of the steps taken by the authorites for the security of students.

Indian students in Australia to hold peace rally on Sunday





MELBOURNE: Deeply concerned over the spate of attacks on its members, the Federation of Indian Students of Australia (FISA) has called for a
peace rally Sunday "in response to the growing anger in the community".

The spurt in crimes against Indian students in Sydney and Melbourne has left one battling for life while another is recuperating from a deep stab injury.

The call for the rally came Saturday, a day after Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke to his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd and urged him to take all steps to ensure the security of Indians in Australia.

FISA, an organisation which "integrates, empowers and represents" Indian students in Australia, said the rally would begin Sunday morning from Royal Melbourne Hospital, where one of the injured students is battling for life, and conclude at Victorian Parliament House.

The rally will end with a candle light vigil in support of the victims of the crimes.

"The purpose is to create an awareness about an increasing number of hate crimes within the state and to promote racial harmony and peace," FISA said in a statement.

It appealed to Australians to support people from different ethnic backgrounds. "We encourage all Victorians to show support for residents of all ethnic backgrounds," it said.

There are over 80,000 Indian students in Australia.

The friends and acquaintances of the 25-year-old Sravan Kumar Theerthala, who was attacked with a screwdriver over the weekend and is admitted to the Royal Melbourne Hospital, have expressed their concern over the attacks.

"We are not feeling safe basically in Australia, we are not feeling safe at all," one of them told the Herald Sun.

Another Indian said: "They told us that it is a multicultural country, you know, but after living here for three years, I will just say it is a multi-racism country you know."

Another Indian student Rajesh Kumar sustained burn injuries after a petrol bomb was thrown into his apartment in Sydney. This incident took the number of such assaults in Australia to four in the past three weeks.

Representatives of FISA and National Union of Students (NUS) had met the Indian High Commissioner Sujatha Singh two days ago to discuss the issue.

Obama to create 'Cyber Czar' to protect computer networks in US





Reports indicate that US President Barrack Obama is planning to create a "cyber czar," a senior White House official who will have broad authority to develop strategy to protect the nation's government-run and private computer networks.

According to a report in the Washington Post, the adviser will have the most comprehensive mandate granted to such an official to date and will probably be a member of the National Security Council.

But, he will report to the national security adviser as well as the senior White House economic adviser, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deliberations are not final.

The announcement will coincide with the long-anticipated release of a 40-page report that evaluates the US government's cybersecurity initiatives and policies.

The report is intended to outline a "strategic vision" and the range of issues the new adviser must handle, but it will not delve into details, administration officials told reporters last month.

Cybersecurity "is vitally important, and the government needs to be coordinated on this," said a White House official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

"The report gives conclusions and next steps. It's trying to steer us in the right direction," he said.

Sources say Obama was briefed a week ago and signed off on the creation of the position. But, discussions are continuing as to what rank and title the adviser would have.

The idea is to name someone who can "pick up the phone and contact the president directly, if need be," an administration official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Obama pledged during his presidential campaign to elevate the issue of cybersecurity to a "top priority" and to appoint a national cybersecurity adviser "who will report directly to me."

Sources said that having the adviser report to both the national security and economic advisers suggests that the White House is seeking to ensure a balance between homeland security and economic concerns. (ANI)
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