Brazil says 16 bodies recovered from Air France jet
Flight 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris disappeared on June
1, four hours after it took off. All the 228 passengers and
crew on board are presumed dead in the crash, this is the
worst case in the airline's 75years
history and the world's
worst for almost a decade.
Authorities from Brazil said 16 bodies recovered in the
search operation carried out in the crashed place. Two bodies
were discovered on Saturday some 900 kilometers from the
Fernando de Noronha archipelago northeast of Brazil and approximately 70 kilometers from
where the plane sent its last message. Another 14 bodies were found in the area on Sunday.
The recovered bodies are being taken to the Brazilian island group before being transferred to
The flight recorders from the Airbus 330 have yet to be recovered and the search is becoming
urgent as the black boxes will only continue to broadcast a locator signal for the next three
weeks. Meanwhile, French investigators have said a possible cause of the crash may have
been faulty airspeedmonitoring
instruments. The sensors may have malfunctioned when the
plane flew into a storm.
Karia Munda is Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha
Member of Parliament Karia Munda was unanimously elected
Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha on Monday. His election, close on the
heels of Meira Kumar being elected Speaker, was hailed by members as an
articulation of the nation's commitment to social justice.
A dozen nominations were filed in Mr. Munda's favour. The motion was
first moved by Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani and seconded by
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Rajnath Singh. The second motion
was moved by Leader of the House Pranab Mukherjee and seconded by
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal.
Subsequently, leaders representing other parties across the floor moved similar motions. As
during the Speaker's election, the Left parties, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra
Kazhagam and the Telugu Desam Party did not file nominations in his favour but were
supportive of the motion.
Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad had filed a nomination but was not present to move
his motion. Hailing Mr. Munda's election, the Prime Minister hoped that the spirit of
accommodation seen in the election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker would continue
through the duration of the 15 th Lok Sabha.
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Mr. Mukherjee was glad that a 32yearold
unbroken tradition of having the Deputy Speaker
from the Opposition – which began in 1977, the very year Mr. Munda entered the Lok Sabha
– had been preserved with the unanimous election of Mr. Munda. This sentiment was echoed
by Mr. Advani.
Communist Party of India leader Gurudas Dasgupta urged the government to translate the
gesture of electing members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to the posts of
Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively into effective state policy. Mr. Munda was elected
to the Lok Sabha from Khunti in Jharkhand on BJP ticket.
Vahanvati appointed AttorneyGeneral
Goolam E. Vahanvati, till recently the SolicitorGeneral,
Monday appointed the next AttorneyGeneral
for a period of three years.
Mr. Vahanvati, who will succeed Milon K. Banerjee, is the first Muslim
to occupy the top law officer's post in the country in the last six decades.
Assuming office in the Supreme Court, Mr. Vahanvati said, "It is a
tremendous responsibility which I accept with great humility. I hope the
team of law officers will be able to give the best representation in the
courts to the UPA government."
Mr. Vahanvati, 60, was appointed the SolicitorGeneral
in June 2004. He was practising
mainly in the Supreme Court and High Courts, representing the Union of India in important
matters, including constitutional and revenue cases. Prior to being appointed SolicitorGeneral,
he was AdvocateGeneral
of Maharashtra from December 1999 to June 2004.
Among several cases, he appeared in the nine judges Bench hearing on the Ninth Schedule,
Kuldip Nayyar's challenge to the amendment to the Representation of the People's Act with
regard to the Rajya Sabha, the tainted Ministers case, in all matters pertaining to the sealing
and the challenge to the Delhi Laws Special Provisions Act, 2007 and challenges to the
Master Plan 2021.
He successfully defended the challenge to the reservation for OBCs in higher education. He
appeared as amicus curiae in the MP Local Area Development Scheme and for Union of
India/CBI in the matter relating to power of court to suo motu transfer investigation to the
CBI without prior consent of the State government concerned and the judgment is awaited in
both the cases.
The International Cricket Council appointed him to hold an inquiry into the allegations of
racism in Zimbabwe along with High Court Judge Steven Majiedt in September 2004. He
was appointed Single Member Commission to inquire into allegations of racial abuse on
South African cricketers during the South African tour of Australia in December 2005.
Gopal Subramaniam is likely to be the next SolicitorGeneral
to succeed Mr. Vahanvati.
Mohan Parasaran will be one of the Additional SolicitorsGeneral
(ASG) likely to be reappointed.
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Lebanon confirms Hariri elections win
Official results declared a day after Lebanon's recentlycontested
parliamentary election has
confirmed the proWestern
coalition has held on to its majority. Interior Minister Ziad
Baroud confirmed the 14 th March coalition of Saad Hariri had won 71 seats in the 128member
body, one more than four years ago. Hassan Nasrallah, Head of militant movement
Hezbollah, which won 57 seats, said he accepted the outcome. US President Barack Obama
praised the election and welcomed the result. Mr Baroud said voting passed off satisfactorily,
despite some organisational problems. Security has been tightened and political leaders
appealed for calm throughout Lebanon, which last year witnessed pitched battles between
A possible victory for Hezbollah, which is supported by Syria
and Iran, had caused jitters among Western governments, and
the US was threatening to withdraw its aid package to Lebanon.
But Hassan Nasrallah said he accepted the outcome. "I would
like to congratulate all those who won, those in the majority and
those in the opposition," he said.
The turnout was 54%, Mr Baroud said, the highest percentage
among Lebanon's three million voters since the 197591
war. The campaign was marred by mudslinging
and accusations that large numbers of
expatriate Lebanese were flown home for free to cast votes.
But former US President Jimmy Carter, who led a team of international observers, said he
was encouraged by the way the election was conducted and the response of politicians from
all sides. "The most important thing is to commend the people of Lebanon and the election
authorities for a successful demonstration of the right of the people to express their will. They
did it legally and properly, and one of the tests of a successful election is a rapid acceptance
of the results," Mr Carter said.
Lebanon is a country of deeplyfragmented
religious sects, and this election broadly pitted
Shia Muslim supporters of Hezbollah against Sunni Muslims and Druze supporting the 14
March coalition. The crucial electoral showdown had been between Christian rivals, who
although they make up only onethird
of the population are constitutionally guaranteed an
equal half share of parliamentary seats. The influential Christian Maronite community was
split between established Westernorientated
factions and the Free Patriotic Movement
(FPM) of former Army Chief Michel Aoun, which joined the proSyria
faction in 2006.
As predicted, Hezbollah and its smaller Shia ally Amal swept the vote in Lebanon's mainly
Shia areas, but the FPM lost in the key districts of Zahleh and Beirut First. After years of
Syrian domination of its small neighbour, underpinned by a large military presence, the proWestern
bloc was swept to power in 2005, following the assassination of former Prime
Minister Rafik Hariri in a car bombing in Beirut.
Popular discontent after that attack had forced Syria to withdraw its troops amid accusations
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of its involvement in the killing. The government in Damascus has strongly denied the
claims. A post2005
unity coalition collapsed in November 2006, with the resignation of all
six of its proSyrian
ministers, stripping it of representation by Lebanon's largest confessional
group, the Shia Muslims.
The following year parliament became deadlocked over filling the vacant presidency and
unity government was only reformed
after the country teetered on the brink of fullscale
war in May 2008. Analysts say another fragile unity government is likely from this result.
A major division looks set to remain over Hezbollah's powerful guerrilla army, which proWestern
elements accuse of disrupting Lebanese stability but which Hezbollah supporters say
is vital to resist the threat from Israel. Hezbollah will demand that it retain a vetowielding
share of cabinet seats which it secured in last year's unity talks.
Peter Varghese is new Australian envoy
Australia has named Peter Varghese as the next High
Commissioner to India with concurrent accreditation to
Bhutan. He succeeds John McCarthy, who has served
since 2004. Mr. Varghese will take charge in August.
A veteran diplomat, Mr. Varghese is currently DirectorGeneral
of the Office of National Assessments. He served
as the High Commissioner in Malaysia from 2000 to 2002
and was also a part of the Australian missions in Vienna (198083),
and Tokyo (1994).
Mr. Varghese's appointment comes at a crucial time in Canberra's engagement with New
Delhi. Though the attacks on Indian students in Australia is dominating news about ties
between the two countries, a deeper and quieter engagement has been under way in line with
Australia's recognition of India's growing economic and strategic importance and influence.
Maruti's US revenue zooms past Suzuki's
The Indian subsidiary reports 10% growth, while its Japanese
parent registers a 55% decline. For the first time in more than a
quarter century, Maruti Suzuki, the Indian subsidiary of Suzuki,
posted higher revenues from the US than that of the Japanese carmaker
during the last financial year.
Between April 2008 and March 2009, when automobile giants across the globe witnessed a
drastic fall in demand, Maruti Suzuki posted a revenue growth of 10 per cent, whereas
Suzuki's North America operation reported a decline of 55 per cent.
According to the audited financial results of Maruti, the company's income in FY09 stood at
Rs 23,085 crore as against Rs 10,00011,000
crore (¥ 225,601 million) reported by Suzuki's
North America operation. MSIL had reported revenues of Rs 18,000 crore in 200708.
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Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL) Chairman R C Bhargava said, "Last year, we produced
more cars than any other previous years. The US market was down due to a number of
reasons, but Maruti posted a growth. Probably this year too, we will see the same pattern. So
far in the current quarter, we have seen some revival in demand in India. This will hopefully
carry forward as we do not expect any increase in tax rates for the automobile sector."
Suzuki's North American operations had reported a revenue fall of 55.6 per cent compared to
(when the company posted a total revenue of Rs 21,500Rs
23,000 crore) on account
of reduced sales. Its operating income stood negative at yen 24,143 million (about Rs 1,200
Suzuki holds a little over 54 per cent stake in MSIL, which is one of the most profitable
companies of the Japanese auto major. In May, Maruti's domestic market share stood at 62
per cent, followed by Korean carmaker
Hyundai Motors and Tata Motors.
During FY09, MSIL sold close to 7.92 lakh units, of which 70,000 units were exported.
However, when compared to FY08, its sales grew marginally by 3.6 per cent to 7.64 lakh
units. Senior officials of MSIL attribute the increase in revenues to higher realisation from
brands such as Swift and Swift DZire.
In order to keep pace with the demand from domestic and international markets (the company
exports models to Europe), MSIL has decided to pump in Rs 1,800 crore in the current
financial year to increase its capacity to 1 million cars from less than 900,000 units at present.
Besides, the company is also mulling to shift a major portion of its small car manufacturing
activities to India to save on costs and also ease the burden of the parent company, which will
focus on bigger cars and alternative fuel options. India will continue to remain at the centre of
Suzuki's global scheme of things as the Japanese giant has already chalked out some
aggressive expansion plans in the export segment in the immediate future.
Pantaloon to raise Rs 1,000 crore from PEs
Pantaloons Retail, the country's largest retailer, today said it plans
to raise as much as Rs 1,000 crore by selling shares to investors.
The company board gave its approval for the fund raising plans
Pantaloon is expected to go in for a private placement of its shares with private equity (PE)
companies within the next 45 days, company sources said. Already, the company is in talks
with leading PE firms such as Carlyle, Blackstone, Bain Capital, KKR and Goldman Sachs to
raise funds, sources added.
Recently, the company raised Rs 368 crore by issuing equity shares and warrants to
promoters and select investors. It issued 11 million equity shares to PFH Entertainment, a
promoter group company and 4.1 million shares to Dharmyug Investments, an arm of media
conglomerate Bennett Coleman and Company Ltd. Pantaloon also issued five million
warrants at Rs 183 each to PFH to raise Rs 91.5 crore.
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Though the company shareholders have approved the restructuring of its business, the
company has deferred its restructuring plans to next financial year, sources said. The
company's financial year ends on June 30.
The company planned to sell its fashion division, including the entire investment in Home
Solutions (Retail) India, to its whollyowned
subsidiary, Future Value Retail and its retail
division to subsidiary Future Specialty Retail.
Billy Elliot sweeps Tony awards
The Broadway production of the British hit musical Billy
Elliot has won 10 Tony Awards at a ceremony in New
York, including best musical. The three young actors who
share the title role got a unique best actor prize. Its
director also won a Tony award. The show about a
miner's son from northern England who dreams of
dancing has taken Broadway by storm. However, the
musical and its composer, Sir Elton John, lost out in best
score category which went to "Next to Normal".
Sir Elton helped accept the best musical Tony, telling the audience: "Thank you for accepting
us so beautifully on Broadway." We came here at a hard time economically. You opened up
your wallets and you opened up your hearts to us. And we love you for it, thank you."
Billy Elliot, the Musical is based on the 2000 Oscarnominated
film which is starring Jamie
Bell. Both the film and the musical were directed by Britain's Stephen Daldry. "I have been
blessed in my life to spend the majority of the last 10 years of my life working on the story of
Billy Elliot," said Daldry, calling it a "long, extraordinary journey".
He said the award belonged to everyone connected to the show and especially to "three great
gifts of Broadway, our three little Billys", referring to actors David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik
and Kiril Kulish. After the ceremony, Daldry said that he was a "happy bunny" and
"genuinely thrilled" that the music had been accepted on Broadway and celebrated at the
Eric Fellner of Working Title who produced both the film and play said: "We are delighted
and honoured by the amazing recognition the Tony voters have shown us. The musical
opened in London in 2005. A Sydney production followed in 2007.
Separately, British actress Natasha Richardson was singled out during the award ceremony's
In Memoriam section. She died earlier this year following a skiing accident in Canada.
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Finnish Civil War
The Finnish Civil War was a part of the national and social turmoil caused by World War I
(1914–1918) in Europe. The war was fought in Finland from 27 January to 15 May 1918,
between the forces of the Social Democrats led by the People's Deputation of Finland,
commonly called the "Reds" (punaiset), and the forces of the nonsocialist,
Senate, commonly called the "Whites" (valkoiset). The Reds were supported by Russian
SFSR, while the Whites received military assistance from the German Empire.
The February and October Revolutions in 1917 caused defeat in World War I and a total
collapse of the Russian Empire (which at the time included Finland), and the destruction in
Russia resulted in a corresponding breakdown of Finnish society during 1917. The Social
Democrats on the left and conservatives on the right competed for the leadership of the
Finnish state, which shifted from the left to the right in 1917. Both groups collaborated with
the corresponding political forces in Russia, deepening the split in the nation.
As there were no generally accepted police and army forces to keep order in Finland after
March 1917, the left and right began building security groups of their own, leading to the
emergence of two independent armed military troops, the White and Red Guards. An
atmosphere of political violence and fear grew among the Finns. Fighting broke out during
January 1918 due to the acts of both the Reds and Whites in a spiral of military and political
escalation. The Whites were victorious in the ensuing war. In the aftermath of the 1917–1918
crisis and the Civil War, Finland passed from Russian rule to the German sphere of influence.
The conservative senate attempted to establish a Finnish monarchy ruled by a German king,
but after the defeat of Germany in World War I, Finland emerged as an independent,
The Civil War remains the most controversial and emotionally loaded event in the history of
modern Finland, and there have even been disputes about what the conflict should be called.
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Approximately 37,000 people died during the conflict, including casualties at the war fronts
and deaths from political terror campaigns and high prison camp mortality rates. The turmoil
destroyed the economy, split the political apparatus, and divided the Finnish nation for many
years. The country was slowly reunited through the compromises of moderate political
groups on the left and right.