Monday, May 30, 2011

Former Rajya Sabha VC and six-time MLA jumps to death

2011-05-29 22:30:00
Last Updated: 2011-05-29 22:53:49

Kolkata: Six-time CPI(M) legislator and former Rajya Sabha Vice-Chairman Mostafa Bin Quasem, who was suffering from acute depression and other ailments, today allegedly committed suicide by leaping to death from the fourth floor of the MLA hostel here.
"The MLA jumped from the fourth floor of Room 411 and fell on a tin shed. He is dead," police said.

A suicide note found on the 70-year-old MLA's body said he was taking the extreme step due to acute depression and a number of other ailments including kidney-related problems for some time, according to the police.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Industry and Commerce Minister Partha Chatterjee visited the hostel and the hospital where the body was kept. Banerjee said that she could have helped Quasem in his treatment had she been informed, but he died before she could be introduced to him in the new Assembly.

She instructed authorities to hand over the body to the family after postmortem and other formalities tomorrow. The chief minister expressed her condolences to the bereaved family and asked the administration to accord him due honour and respect.

"If we receive any suggestion from the CPI(M), we will do the needful," Banerjee said.
Quasem was first elected to the West Bengal Assembly in 1977 from Baduria and Swarupnagar in the period between 1991-2006. He was recently elected from Basirhat North. The CPI-M leader, who was a MP of the Upper House from 1984 to 1990, was the Rajya Sabha Vice-Chairman from 1987 to 1988. Quasem is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter.

Chatterjee said that there should be an inquiry on what led the CPI-M leader to his tragic end. Quasem was among the MLAs who had arrived here for the election of the West Bengal Assembly Speaker tomorrow. With Quasem's death, the number of CPI-M MLAs in the Assembly has gone down to 39 and that of the opposition Left Front to 61.

FBI ignored warnings on Headley's jihadist career


Officials dismissed information from his wives that he was working with the Lashkar-e-Taiba
Federal Bureau of Investigation detectives disregarded multiple warnings that the Pakistani-American jihadist David Headley was working with the Lashkar-e-Taiba - two of which came from his own wives.
The FBI, intelligence sources have told The Hindu, instead chose to believe Headley's claims that he had only made contact with the jihadist group to further his work as a counter-narcotics informant.
FBI officials, the sources said, were long aware of Headley's links with jihadists in Pakistan's north-west, and even interviewed him for information in the weeks after 9/11.
But they believed Headley was working for the United States' Drug Enforcement Agency, which he developed a relationship with, after being arrested in 1988 for smuggling heroin from Pakistan.
In 1997 Headley was arrested by the DEA again, and this time secured his freedom by becoming a key informant. In a 1998 letter, prosecutors said he “helped the DEA infiltrate the very close-knit Pakistani narcotics dealing community in New York.”
He was still on probation when he travelled to Pakistan in 1999 for his arranged marriage with Lahore resident Shazia Geelani - setting off events which would lead to his second brush with the FBI.
Following a domestic violence incident in 2005, Ms. Geelani - with whom Headley has four children, Haider, Osama, Sumya and Hafsa - said her husband had trained with the Lashkar-e-Taiba. She told authorities that he often bragged of successfully deceiving the FBI.
Headley was briefly detained by police in New York on domestic violence charges, but not prosecuted. FBI detectives looked into Ms. Geelani's allegations, but decided no action was needed.

Later, in 2006, Headley ran into fresh trouble with police - and this time ended up spending eight days in custody at Lahore's Race Course police station. The arrest, a credible Pakistani media source told The Hindu, was made after a Lahore-based Moroccan medical student complained that Headley had reneged on a promise to marry her. Extra-marital sexual relations are a crime in Pakistan.
Bailed out by Ms. Geelani's father Javed Ahmed, Headley married Ms. Outhalla weeks later - though his first wife was never informed of their relationship.
In April 2007, Ms. Outhalla accompanied Headley to Mumbai. Less than a month later, Headley enjoyed a holiday in Dubai with Ms. Geelani.
Later though when Ms. Outhalla discovered that Headley was already married, she visited the U.S. embassy in Islamabad and informed them of his links to jihadists. “Indirectly,” she told The New York Times last year, “they told me to get lost.”
The United Kingdom's domestic intelligence service, MI5, finally sparked off action against Headley when it reported to the FBI that he had made contact with two jihadist suspects in the town of Derby.

Monsoon arrives in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram, May 29 : The monsoon has arrived inKerala. Heavy rains have been reported since Saturday night in the central and southern districts of the state, an official of the India Meteorological Department said.

Rains have also hit some parts of Tamil Nadu, south Bay ofBengal and south Andaman Sea, the official said Sunday.

Kumarakom, the pristine tourist destination in Kerala, has recorded the heaviest rainfall of 12 cm, he said.

An IMD report said that conditions were favourable for the advance of southwest monsoon over some more parts of the Arabian Sea, remaining parts of Kerala, some more parts of Tamil Nadu, south Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea and some parts of Karnataka during the next two-three days.

From 2005 onwards the IMD has been issuing forecast on the onset of monsoon over Kerala using an indigenously developed statistical model. The forecast based on this model during the last six years have been correct.

TN nurses work amidst bombings in Yemen

 Pramila Krishnan 

Yemeni army officers lifted by anti-government protesters shout slogans during a demonstration demanding the resignation of of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Sanaa, Yemen - AP/PTI

Hundreds of Tamil nurses are holed up in the military hospital at Sanna in strife-torn Yemen for over a week without proper food and water.
Worse still, there is constant fear of death as bullets and bombs keep flying around as the women are forced to duty for tending to the military personnel injured in the rebels’ attacks.
“We are facing death every second. A bullet missed my leg by a whisker. At least four or five shells hit our building. Many nurses have turned patients and there are no basic amenities,” said Anitha, 27, a native of Nagercoil, speaking to DC over phone.
Most of the nurses in the Yemeni hospitals are from Tamil Nadu, Kerala and a few other Indian states.
They have been recruited on a monthly salary of US$400 and comfortable quarters but now the situation has become terribly unstable due to the rebels’ violent campaign to unseat President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Protector of emigrants D. Jai Shankar in Chennai said he had received many SOS calls from the nurses stranded in Yemen.
27-year-old Ajitha, when she took the flight to Hajjah city in Yemen some nine months ago, nursed high hopes that the monthly salary of $400 promised for the nursing job in a hospital there would help her ailing father quickly repay his debt of Rs 5 lakh.
But as the rebels mounted violent campaign to unseat President Ali Abdullah Saleh in February, the life of Ajitha, and of hundreds of Indian nurses like her, turned into a nightmare as they were forced to work in harsh circumstances treating wounded government soldiers even as the militants bombarded the hospital and even their living quarters.
“The government forces kept shifting us from one place to another for safety. I moved four places in the last few days and even now, there are bullets and bombs flying all around. The rebels are firing at our building from across the road. I am not sure what will happen to me. A bullet missed my leg by a whisker,” Ajitha said in a phone interview from her hospital ward in Sanna city.
“The soldiers suddenly come and announce we must move to another safe place. We must pack up in minutes and run with them.”
Ajitha’s father Alagiya Nayagam, 57, said the family had lost hope of getting his daughter back safe and sound.
“We are shattered. We have no hope unless our government acts fast.” He needs her income from Yemen to treat his wife who is suffering from heart ailment and also to educate the youngest daughter.
“Many nurses from Yemen got in touch with us to say they are being forced to work in difficult conditions. They can get in touch with the 24-hour helpline in the Indian embassy,” D. Jai Shankar told DC in Chennai. “We can rescue the registered emigrants but it is tough to contact them.”

Obama uses own story to woo Europe, attract voters

Soldiers march past US President Barack Obama as he takes part in an arrival ceremony at the presidential palace in Warsaw, Poland. - AP Photo

 First he was Irish, then he was British, and now he’s Polish, too.

US President Barack Obama, during a week traveling through Europe, used his personal story to woo a continent some feel he has neglected, while simultaneously reaching out to important political constituencies back home.

From Ireland to Britain to Poland, Obama – the son of a Kenyan father and a Kansas mother – discovered and exploited his European roots, delighting foreign crowds and inking images that could turn up in presidential campaign commercials next year.
“My name is Barack Obama – of the Moneygall Obamas – and I’ve come home to find the apostrophe that we lost along the way,” Obama, joking about the “Irish” spelling of his name, told a crowd of some 25,000 in Dublin, hours after visiting the town where his great-great-great grandfather once lived.

The crowd loved it, and references to his roots continued at his next stop in London.
“I bring warm greetings from tens of millions of Americans who claim British ancestry, including me, through my mother’s family,” he told Queen Elizabeth II.
In Warsaw he talked about his hometown of Chicago and adopted one of its more prominent ethnic groups as his own.

“If you live in Chicago and you haven’t become a little bit Polish, then something’s wrong with you,” he said at a press conference with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
The result? The United States’ first African-American president connected himself personally to three of the four European countries he visited, burnishing his credentials on the continent after an emphasis on Asia in the first years of his administration sparked concern that US focus had shifted dramatically eastward.

Heather Conley, a Europe expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said the visit showed Obama could reach out to the “Atlantic Community” in the West and the Asia Pacific region in the East at the same time.
“The visit accomplishes its mission,” she said. “He was certainly clarifying that his personal narrative goes in both directions.”

Few Accomplishments, lots of symbolism
That accomplishment may be the main one on a trip that was heavy on imagery but light on substance.

In France – the one country where he did not claim an ancestral or cultural bond – Obama met with fellow leaders from the Group of Eight industrial nations, all of which adopted a unified position that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi must go.
But that was a rare foreign policy achievement on an otherwise largely ceremonial six-day tour.

White House advisers believe that the images of Obama dining with the British queen and meeting with international leaders will quell lingering criticism from opponents that he is a lightweight on the world stage.

Public compliments from British Prime Minister David Cameron about the successful US operation that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden also reinforced Obama’s political strength in the area of national security.

With potential Republican rivals competing to establish their own presidential qualifications, Obama’s trip also helped him appear above the domestic political fray.Creating enduring images for tens of millions of Irish Americans, a significant voting bloc, and US citizens of British and Polish decent was also a plus.

“The president’s political consultants got some great video for his 2012 TV ads,” said Larry Sabato, a politics professor at the University of Virginia. “The Irish stop was golden for the millions who trace their ancestry to Eire. The appealing scenes with the royals can be recycled.”

Political risks

But the trip was not a complete win in the imagery department. Deadly tornadoes in the US Midwest dominated domestic news coverage while Obama was away and some analysts said many Americans did not even realize he was gone.
The White House was aware of that problem. It scheduled a last-minute televised statement by Obama about the tornadoes on Tuesday morning in London so he could announce a Sunday trip to the affected region.

Shortly after speaking to the cameras, he left to spend the day at Buckingham Palace.
Still, while Americans and Obama’s political advisers fret about the state of the US economy, the president put in a plug for having space to focus on foreign policy such as the democratic upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa, which dominated talks in each of the countries he visited.

“Even at a time where I spend most of my day thinking about our economy and how to put folks back to work. I want the American people to understand we’ve got to leave room for us to continue our tradition of providing leadership when it comes to freedom, democracy, human rights,” he said in Poland.

Hyderabad was on 26/11 plotters radar

Monday, 30 May 2011

Hyderabad, May 30: The plotters of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks and David Headley, who is a witness in the case against Tawwahur Rana being heard in a Chicago, US, court, had discussed Hyderabad along with other cities in the country as possible targets, sources said. After training with the LeT, Headley was asked to visit India by his handlers in Pakistan and on the possible itinerary were Hyderabad, Kolkata, Delhi, Bengaluru, Pune, Nagpur, apart from Mumbai.
Sources in the Intelligence Bureau said Headley had disclosed to FBI that Jammu and Kashmir, Hyderabad and Junagarh — all three areas which did at first join the Indian Union — were on the list of the terrorists.
David Headley identified one of the voices in the terror tapes that Abu Al Qama, who took the name of Hyderabad. Abu Al Qama, based in Pakistan, handled the 26/11 terrorist Babar. Babar was asked to contact the Indian media and claim that he belonged to the so-called ‘Hyderabad Deccan Mujahideen’. Abu Al Qama asked Babar to identify himself as hailing from Toli Chowki in Hyderabad. State police said they have no information on Hyderabad being on Headley’s radar.

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