November 22, 2008

Maruti's A-Star to meet European Emission Norms

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Maruti Suzuki's compact A-Star, which will be launched in October, is expected to surpass the earlier strict emission norms announced by the company.

Emission from the A-Star not only complies with the Euro 3 (Bharat-3) norms that are operational in 13 Indian cities, including Delhi, but also geared to meet stringent emission norms that will be implemented across Europe in the coming years.

The A-Stars CO2 emission will be even lower than 109 gm/km which we had envisaged earlier. This is much lower than the European emission norms that require cars to emit 120 gm/km in the future said Shinzo Nakanishi, MD, Maruti Suzuki.

India's Euro 3 norms is 5 years behind those currently enforced in Europe, while Euro 4 norms that are enforced outside the 13 Indian cities are 10 years behind European benchmarks. While gaseous and particulate matter comprise Euro 4 gradation in India, Europe's emission reports estimate the CO2 discharge levels only. Lower CO2 levels in cars means the car has superior fuel efficiency, said Anomita Chowdhury, Associate Director, Centre for Science and Environment.

Maruti Suzuki's decision to manufacture the A-Star car in India is part of parent Suzuki's overall strategy to make India the manufacturing hub for the production of small cars like the Alto, Swift, and Maruti 800. We may consider manufacturing the A Star later in China which will cater to the Chinese market only. In that case we may have to export auto components from India to China, said Nakanishi.

The firm hopes to export about one lakh units of the A-Star to Europe. In about 2-3 years from the launch, we may export to S America and the SE Asian region, he said.

As part of its strategy to consolidate its position in the A2 segment, which will witness newer players like Nissan, Toyota, and Honda this year onwards, Maruti Suzuki has indicated it will launch the compact Splash next year.

Source: Marutisuzuki.com

Spain grabs 2-1 Davis Cup final lead against host Argentina

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In Saturday's pivotal doubles rubber, a tandem of lefthanders Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco topped a duo of Agustin Calleri and David Nalbandian in four sets to give visiting Spain a 2-1 lead over Argentina in their best-of-five Davis Cup final at Estadio Islas Malvinas.

Lopez and Verdasco dropped the first set on Day 2 before fighting back for a 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 decision over Calleri and Nalbandian on the indoor hardcourt here in Mar del Plata. Argentine captain Alberto Mancini removed Jose Acasuso from the doubles bout and replaced him with Nalbandian, who was a singles winner here on Friday.

Spain now needs to win just one of Sunday's two reverse singles rubbers to secure its third Davis Cup title this decade, while the Argentines need to sweep the Day-3 singles in order to secure that elusive first-ever Davis Cup championship.

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On Saturday, the Spaniards dropped a tough first set by losing the last three games against Calleri and Nalbandian, but fought back to take the second stanza and level the rubber.

In a most interesting third set, Spain jumped out to a seemingly-commanding 5-1 lead only to see the Argentines charge all the way back to forge a 5-5 tie and ultimately force a tiebreak.

In the tiebreak, it was team Argentina that let things slip away, as Calleri- Nalbandian blew a 5-1 lead, as the Spaniards rattled off six straight points to stun the hosts and grab a two-sets-to-one lead.

The fourth and deciding set was never in doubt for Spain, as the visitors roared out to a 5-2 advantage, after dropping the first game, and held on to secure the crucial second point.

Lopez and Verdasco needed 3 hours, 18 minutes to prevail, which they did with the help of six service breaks and 12 aces. The losers settled for four breaks and 10 aces.

Sunday's singles call for Spain's David Ferrer to take on 20-year-old rising Argentine star Juan Martin del Potro and Lopez to encounter the former Wimbledon runner-up and former Tennis Masters Cup champion Nalbandian. The world No. 9 del Potro, No. 11 Nalbandian and No. 12 Ferrer account for three of the top-12 players on the planet. Lopez is ranked 31st.

On Friday here, Nalbandian spanked Ferrer 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 in the opening singles rubber and Lopez then pulled Spain even with a 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 stunner over del Potro.

The Spaniards, captained by Emilio Sanchez, also have Davis Cup rookie Marcel Granollers at their disposal on Sunday. Granollers joined the squad last week when world No. 1 superstar Rafael Nadal announced his withdrawal, citing a knee injury. The amazing Nadal is the reigning Wimbledon, French Open and Olympic champ.

The gritty Spaniards own a pair of Davis Cup championships, with both coming this decade -- in 2000 and 2004. Argentina was the runner-up just two years ago and also back in 1981.

Spain is 2-0 all-time versus Argentina, which is hosting for the first time ever in this series. The Spaniards prevailed at home way back in 1926 and again in 2003.

The Spaniards, who are 2-3 in their all-time Davis Cup finals and appearing in their fourth final this decade, reached this year's final by beating the 32-time and defending champion United States 4-1 in a semifinal in Madrid, while Argentina got past Russia 3-2 in Buenos Aires, with del Potro winning a fifth and deciding rubber.

The Argentines have won 13 straight Davis Cup ties as the host.
Source: Sportsnetwork.com

Travis Barker Sues Plane and Tire Companies

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Travis Barker is suing Bombardier Inc., Clay Lacy Aviation and Goodyear Tire and Rubber in connection with the plane crash that severely injured him and killed two of his friends.

The suit, filed in L.A. County Superior Court, was filed by Barker and the mother of Charles "Che" Still, Travis' bodyguard who died in the crash.

In the lawsuit, Travis and Thelma Martin Still claim "one or more of the tires failed leaving tire debris and portions of airplane components along the 8,600 foot runway" ultimately causing the Learjet to crash.

The suit alleges a "negligent attempt to abort the takeoff." The suit continues, "The pilot's decision was a breach of their duty owed to the passengers onboard and was a substantial factor in causing the crash and resultant injuries and deaths."

The suit also alleges the plane was "defective," as were component parts including the tires.

The suit goes on, "It's landing gear, tires, wheels, brakes, reverse thrust system, squat switches and component parts were not airworthy."

Barker is suing for "pain and suffering, mental anguish, psychological and emotional distress and disfigurement and pre-impact fear of death and burning."

UPDATE: A rep for Clay Lacy just told TMZ, "We are surprised about the lawsuit and concerned and knowledgeable about the accident. We are sympathetic for the victims but we want to emphasize we were not operating this airplane. This was not our airplane. We merely assisted the parties in chartering this aircraft with another company. We simply booked it for them."

Source: Tmz.com

Astronauts step out for longest, hardest spacewalk

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Astronauts stepped out for the longest and hardest spacewalk of their mission Saturday to wrap up greasy repair work on a gummed-up joint at the international space station.

As spacewalk No. 3 was getting under way, a new recycling system for converting urine into drinking water broke down again.

It was the third day in a row that the urine processor inexplicably shut down, and it appeared to be the same kind of sluggish motor trouble seen before. Engineers on the ground scrambled to figure out what might be wrong; the problem could jeopardize NASA's plan to return recycled water to Earth aboard space shuttle Endeavour next weekend.

The $154 million water recycling system, delivered a week ago by space shuttle Endeavour, is essential for allowing more astronauts to live on the space station next year.

Saturday's spacewalk by Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Stephen Bowen focused entirely on the clogged solar wing-rotating joint. The joint stopped working properly more than a year ago, after it became jammed with metal grit from grinding parts, and cannot keep the solar wings on the right side of the space station pointed toward the sun.

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The astronauts got started on the unprecedented clean and lube job — and bearing replacements — on Tuesday.

NASA expected Saturday's spacewalk repairs to last at least seven hours. Any chores left undone could be squeezed into the fourth and final spacewalk of the mission Monday. That's when astronauts are supposed to grease up the good rotary joint on the left side of the orbiting complex.

Stefanyshyn-Piper — who lost a $100,000 tool kit during Tuesday's spacewalk — had to share grease guns with Bowen 225 miles up. To make up for the grease gun shortage, they took out a caulking gun normally reserved for repairs to the shuttle's heat shield.

As for the broken urine-recycling system, flight controllers and astronauts alike were disappointed when it stopped working again Saturday. Mission Control radioed up the bad news just before the spacewalk began.

"I'm very sorry to hear that," astronaut Sandra Magnus replied.

Earlier Saturday, flight director Brian Smith said the machine for converting sweat and other condensation into drinking water was working fine, and that the two crews were trying to create more condensation in order to collect samples. The astronauts turned off the air conditioner on the Russian side of the space station, cranked up the heat in the docked shuttle, and waited for condensation to form on equipment in the American compartments.

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Even though there would be no samples of urine-converted water, at least there would be samples of processed condensation if the plan works, Smith said.

NASA wants samples of the recycled water returned aboard Endeavour in order to conduct tests and ensure that it's safe to drink. The equipment is supposed to run for at least 90 days before anyone takes a sip.

The space agency cannot expand the size of the space station crew from three to six unless the water recycling system is working. NASA still hopes for that to happen by June.

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Endeavour is supposed to leave the space station on Thanksgiving, but its departure could be put back a day in order to collect enough samples from the recycling equipment.


Source: The Associated Press

BlackBerry Storm


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RIM's new BlackBerry Storm is proving to be popular with some people -- many Verizon Wireless stores sold out of their first batches yesterday. But while Verizon initially promised quick Internet orders, shipment for new orders has been delayed to "by Dec. 15." This is potentially bad news for RIM, whose third quarter ends Nov. 29. (See below for details.)

Why the delay? Engadget reports that Verizon is being forced to downgrade the phones in its inventory to an older version of RIM's operating system to potentially avoid a "security glitch," which was first alleged by mobile blog Boy Genius Report. (We don't know if this is true. We're checking with Verizon and will update if we hear back.)

Engadget: Supposedly the Storm was set to launch with OS version 4.7.0.82, but due to a last-minute security glitch every last handset had to be downgraded to .65 -- a surely time-consuming task that resulted in many fewer handsets in-store and online for release. Right now Verizon is indicating that orders placed before noon on November 21 should ship on the 25th, those received after noon will ship on December 5, and anything received on November 22 or later will not ship before December 15. That's close enough to a certain major holiday to make BlackBerry-loving kids of all ages nervous.

Nervous indeed -- and something that, if true, could potentially negatively impact RIM's Q3 results -- the quarter that ends Nov. 29 -- and Q4 guidance. We assume RIM's Q3 device shipments are at lower risk because, in theory, the phones have already been sold to Verizon, whose staff is tinkering with them. (Though it's possible Verizon's orders in Q3 and Q4 will be lower while they can't ship phones they already have.)


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More important: If thousands of people can't buy new Storms until next month, they can't sign up to be new BlackBerry service subscribers until next month -- which is part of RIM's Q4. Which could negatively impact RIM's Q3 subscriber growth. How much? We don't know. But it's definitely not good news for RIM or Verizon.

And if the delay extends further into the Christmas buying season, it's even worse. Why? Besides delaying Storm purchases, it could push on-the-fence buyers to consider other phones, such as Apple's (AAPL) iPhone.

That could be happening already. We've seen some anecdotal evidence -- like multiple Twitter conversations -- panning the Storm's "click" touchscreen, which you have to press down hard to type with -- and dismissing the phone's threat to Apple. (We think it's a decent phone, but we personally find the keypad more gimmicky than helpful.)

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Source: Alleyinsider.com

Family shock at Florida web death

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The family of a US teenager who killed himself live online via a webcam have spoken of their regret at how no-one stopped the unfolding suicide.

Abraham Biggs, 19, from Pembroke Pines, near Miami, killed himself hours after announcing his plan on his blog.

His father said it was "unimaginable" that neither the website's operators nor any viewers alerted the police.

Biggs took an overdose of anti-depressive drugs, but remained comatose online for hours before he died.

His father, Abraham Biggs Sr, said he had no idea his son was contemplating suicide.

''We were very good friends,'' Mr Biggs said of his son, adding: "It's wrong that it was allowed to happen.''

Biggs Jr, who was studying to be a paramedic at the college where his father is a maths professor, suffered from mental illness which his mother said had finally claimed his life.

''My son, Abraham Biggs Jr, was well-loved and cared for. However, the mental illness of bipolarity and depression got the better part of him,'' she wrote on MySpace.

'Nothing happened'

The sense of disbelief at the teenager's death was heightened by the realisation that his end was drawn out and, most likely, preventable.

He began the process by posting messages telling people he was going to kill himself, and then started streaming live pictures from his home.

Reports say that some of viewers who logged in to watch began to encourage the teenager to kill himself, while others tried to dissuade him.

After several hours, when he had not moved some viewers finally notified the site's moderator, who then called the police.

The boy's sister, Rosalind Biggs, denounced the website, Justin.tv, which allows people to broadcast themselves online: "They got hits, they got viewers, nothing happened for hours."

It is unclear how many people watched Wednesday's suicide unfold, although reports suggest that some viewers thought it was a hoax.

The last transmission from the webcam was of a police officer bursting into Abraham Biggs's room, where he discovers his body and then places his hand over the camera.

Michael Seifert, chief executive of Justin.tv, said the company and its staff would "take a moment to recognise and reflect upon the tragedy that occurred within our community" and offered condolences to the Biggs family.

The footage has since been taken down and his father is now calling for more regulation of chatrooms.


Source: Bbc.co.uk

Tibetan exiles support Dalai Lama policy

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A group of Tibetan exiles meeting in India say they support the Dalai Lama's policy of Tibetan autonomy from China rather than complete independence.

The Tibetan exile community backed the Tibetan Buddhist leader following a vote in the Indian town of Dharamsala, where Tibetan leaders had met to discuss their relations with China, the BBC reported Saturday.

The Dalai Lama has urged Tibetan people to stop fighting for complete independence from China and embrace his so-called Middle Way approach.

Chinese control over Tibet has long been a major issue in the Asian country since China invaded and assumed control in 1950.

The BBC said if China does not move forward with attempts to implement the Buddhist leader's proposal, the call for full Tibetan independence will likely gain increased support.

Tibetan delegates, concerned with anti-Tibetan attitudes in China, have suggested the Dalai Lama not travel to China until attitudinal changes occur, the British broadcaster reported.

Source: Upi.com

India 'to step up piracy battle'

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The Indian navy is planning to send at least one more warship to the area, according to local media reports.

And Delhi has formally been given permission to act under a UN resolution allowing navies to pursue pirates into Somalia's territorial waters.

Piracy incidents have surged off the Somali coast and a number of Indian crews have been on hijacked ships.

On Tuesday, an Indian warship sank a suspected pirate ""mother ship"" after it came under attack in the Gulf of Aden.

Earlier this week, a Saudi Arabian super tanker, the Sirius Star, was hijacked along with 25 crew. The tanker, loaded with oil worth $100m, is now anchored off the Somali coast.

According to local media reports, the Indian navy now plans to send at least one more warship to the Gulf of Aden.

INS Mysore -- a destroyer -- could be deployed as early as next week, reports say.

The Navy refused to confirm the report, saying it did not discuss deployment of ships.

Under a UN Security Council resolution passed in June, states co-operating with Somalia's transitional government are permitted, for a period of six months, to enter its territorial waters to ""repress acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea"".

The international forces are allowed to use ""all necessary means"", in a manner consistent with relevant provisions of international law, according to resolution 1816.

India is among several countries currently patrolling the Gulf of Aden, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes which connects the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.

In recent weeks, there has been a growing demand for multinational efforts to fight the pirates, with more than 90 vessels attacked this year.

France, India, South Korea, Russia, Spain, the U.S. and NATO also have a presence in the region.

India has called for greater cooperation between foreign navies to tackle the piracy threat.

India deployed INS Tabar in the Gulf of Aden on 23 October, and it has escorted 35 ships safely through the ""pirate-infested waters"", the navy says.

Meanwhile, the Directorate General of Shipping in India has confirmed that seven Indians are among the crew of the MV Delight, a Hong-Kong registered Iranian cargo ship, which was hijacked on Tuesday.

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The 25-member crew includes two Pakistanis, seven Filipinos, seven Iranians and two Ghanaians.

The ship was carrying wheat and was bound for Iran.

A week ago, 18 Indian crew members of the Japanese-owned cargo ship MV Stolt Valor were released after being held by pirates for two months.

Somalia has not had a functioning national government since 1991 and has suffered continuing civil strife.

Source: Tehrantimes.com

Bush staunchly defends free trade in farewell

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Speaking at the APEC leaders meeting in Lima, Peru, Mr Bush said his administration would use its last two months in office to work on measures against protectionism.

And he offered a sweeping defence of free trade, demanding the world resist protectionism during the financial turmoil.

Mr Bush and 20 other leaders from the Pacific rim, including Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, were holding talks in Peru at a tightly guarded military headquarters, where two decades earlier troops tortured suspected leftist sympathisers.

Staunchly defending his often controversial eight-year presidency as he prepares to hand over to Barack Obama, Mr Bush summed up his philosophy as "free markets, free trade and free people."

"I believe there is an Almighty and I believe a gift of that Almighty to every man, woman and child on the face of the Earth is freedom," Mr Bush said in an address on his final foreign trip as president.

Peppering his remarks with Spanish, Mr Bush conceded that recent events showed that governments must sometimes intervene in markets.

The Bush administration led a $US700 billion bailout of Wall Street in hopes the US economy would rebound from its worst crisis since the Great Depression.

"Yet it is also essential that nations resist the temptation to overcorrect by imposing regulations that would stifle innovation and choke off growth," Mr Bush said. "The verdict of history is unmistakable."

He vowed to press hard in his final two months in office to break a deadlock in World Trade Organization negotiations, a pledge made by 20 world leaders last week in Washington for a summit on the financial turmoil.

"We refuse to accept protectionism in the 21st century," he said emphatically.

Despite massive job cuts and plummeting growth rates across the world, Mr Bush predicted that capitalism would eventually be vindicated.

"Recovering from the financial crisis is going to take time, but we'll recover, and in so doing begin a new era of prosperity," he said.

Source: ABC News

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