Sonia, Shah Rukh among 50 most powerful
Famous as well as the infamous find mention in the Newsweek list
Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan have been ranked among the 50
most powerful people in the world by the Newsweek magazine. President-elect Barack Obama topped the list.
Placing Sonia Gandhi at the 17th spot, the magazine said: “Although India’s political scene is riven by factions,
Congress remains the strongest national force, and the Italian-born wife of Rajiv Gandhi rules it unchallenged. In
the world’s largest democracy, she’s queen.” Shah Rukh Khan, ranked 41st, was described as the “King of
Pakistan army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who controlled the country’s nuclear weapons, was placed 20th on
the list of the global “power elite” at the beginning of 2009 in the magazine’s January issue.
Obama, who scripted history by becoming the first black-American to be voted to the White House, was followed
by Chinese President Hu Jintao, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown,
German Chancellor Angela Markel and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
A surprise inclusion, which the magazine admitted was subjective, was Osama Bin Laden, termed a “global
terrorist.” North Korean dictator Jim Jong II also found a place. About 47-year-old Obama, the magazine said the
Democrat would be judged on how he handled the economic crisis that now enveloped the U.S.
Others on the list include the Dalai Lama, the former U.S. president, Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary, Iranian
strongman Ayatollah Ali Khemenei, Saudi King Abdullah-bin-Abdul Aziz-al Saud, American General David
Petraeus, Iraqi leader Nouri al-Maliki, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg,
Pope Benedict XVI, media mogul Rupert Murdoch and popular show host Oprah Winfrey.
Thaksin’s allies booted out in Thailand
Anti-Thaksin alliance’s candidate is the new PM
Thailand’s Constitutional Court unseated politically beleaguered Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat by ordering
that his People’s Power Party be disbanded for electoral fraud. Somchai stands disqualified for elective office for
With this, the Court in Bangkok has disqualified both leaders to become Prime Minister since the “restoration of
democracy” earlier this year under a Constitution that was crafted by coup masters and approved in a
“referendum.” The Army had toppled Thaksin Shinawatra, a twice-elected leader, in September 2006.
(3) of (7)
Somchai and his predecessor, Samak Sundaravej, are seen by their critics as “proxies” for Thaksin, now in exile
as a “fugitive” after his recent conviction in a case of “conflict of interest” relating to his tenure as Prime Minister.
The Court held that the disqualification of any member of a party for poll irregularities of any kind would warrant
the dissolution of the party itself under the present Constitution, according to diplomats and independent
observers. It was not Somchai but his associate who was found guilty of electoral malpractice.
The Court’s ruling, amid escalation of unrest against the Somchai Government, was greeted with enthusiasm by
the protesters with diverse interests, banded as the “People’s Alliance for Democracy” (PAD).
Meanwhile, Thailand’s House of Representatives have elected 44-year-old Abhisit Vejjajiva of the opposition
Democrat Party as the country’s youngest Prime Minister. The parliamentary vote in Bangkok was widely seen
as an exercise to end a prolonged political crisis over the popular appeal of Thaksin Shinawatra, the militarydeposed
leader in self-imposed exile. The pro-Thaksin United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship has
vowed to oppose Vejjajiva’s appointment.
Abhisit, seen by his critics as the military’s “proxy”,” is supported by the anti-Thaksin People’s Alliance for
Democracy, which recently seized the Bangkok international airport for several days and occupied the
Government House compound for over three months.
China, Taiwan set up direct links
Beijing, Taipei begin transport, mail services
China and Taiwan started direct air and sea transport and postal services recently, a historical step in cross-
Strait relations. Formerly, air and sea movements, including mail, had to go by way of a third place. The flight
time from Shanghai to Taipei has been cut by more than one hour, to 80 minutes, as planes are no longer
required to fly through Hong Kong’s airspace, a detour that the Taiwan authorities formerly insisted on citing
The start of direct flights marked a key step in the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations. The two sides
also agreed to launch regular passenger charter flights, which formerly only flew on weekends and the four major
The two countries have also started direct shipping and postal services across the Taiwan Straits. Under the
agreement on direct shipping, passenger and cargo vessels owned by China and Taiwan may sail directly across
the Taiwan Straits subject to official approval.
Bush visits Baghdad to sign security pact
Status of Forces Agreement will govern US troops in Iraq
U.S. President George W. Bush made a surprise farewell visit to Baghdad recently, five weeks before he hands
over the task of overseeing the withdrawal from Iraq to his successor Barack Obama.. Bush met his Iraqi
counterpart Jalal Talabani at the start of his fourth visit since U.S.-led troops toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime
in April 2003 during a deeply unpopular war.
(4) of (7)
His visit comes hot on the heels of a trip to Iraq by U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who said the U.S.
mission in the country was in its “endgame.”
Bush met Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the two signed a ceremonial pact marking the adoption of an Iraq-
U.S. security pact, which calls for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops by the end of 2011. Iraq’s Parliament in
November approved — after months of intense political wrangling — the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA),
which also sets June 30 as the deadline for the pullout of combat forces from cities and villages. The pact will
govern the presence of 1,46,000 U.S. troops stationed in more than 400 bases when their U.N. mandate expires
at the end of the year, giving the Iraqi government veto power over virtually all of their operations.
The top U.S. commander in Iraq, General Raymond Odierno, said that U.S. troops would stay in Iraqi cities in a
support and training role even after the June target date for their withdrawal. As part of political bargaining
leading up to the vote, Iraq agreed to demands by Sunni parties to hold a referendum on the accord no later than
Obama has said he favours “a responsible withdrawal from Iraq” within 16 months after taking office. While the
security situation in Baghdad and other parts of the country has significantly improved, violence remains a major
factor in Iraq’s everyday life. More than 4,200 U.S. troops and tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers have been killed
in the country since the invasion. Problems continue to dog the massive economic reconstruction programme
undertaken since the 2003 invasion.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that an unpublished U.S. government report had found that U.S.-led
efforts to rebuild Iraq were crippled by bureaucratic turf wars, violence and ignorance of the basic elements of
Iraqi society, resulting in a $100-billion failure. It cited a 513-page federal history of the reconstruction effort
circulating in Washington in draft form among a tight circle of technical reviewers, policy experts and senior
Harold Pinter passes away
The Nobel Prize winner created a distinct genre of playwriting
Harold Pinter, the Nobel Prize-winning British playwright, passed away at the age of 78. Pinter, whose plays
were famously punctuated with long silences, had the distinction of spawning a distinct genre of playwriting which
came to be known as “Pinteresque”–a term that became part of the English vocabulary and was included in the
Oxford English Dictionary. Author of more than 30 plays—the best-known among them being “The Caretaker”
and “The Homecoming” — he also wrote film scripts including that of ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’.
Pinter was a passionate advocate of unilateral nuclear disarmament and a bitter critic of U.S. involvement in
Central and South America. As a young man, he became a conscientious objector and was fined for refusing to
undergo National Service in 1949. Later, he was to turn down knighthood though he accepted a string of other
Pinter started off as an actor under the stage name David Baron. His first triumph as a playwright came in 1957
when his play “The Room” was hailed as marking the start of a new era in British theatre. His long career as a
playwright, poet and film writer was marked as much by praise as by controversies mostly relating to his political
(5) of (7)
Sir Robert Alexander Watson-Watt is considered by many to be the ‘inventor of radar’. Radar
development was first started elsewhere, but Watson-Watt worked on some of the first workable radar
systems, turning the theory into one of the most important war-winning weapons.
The predecessor of Columbia Pictures, Cohn-Brandt-Cohn Film Sales, was founded in 1919 by Harry
Cohn, his brother Jack Cohn, and Joe Brandt.
The Chrysler Building was designed by architect William Van Alen to house the Chrysler Corporation. It
was the world's tallest building for 11 months before it was surpassed by the Empire State Building in
1931. However, the Chrysler Building remains the world's tallest brick building.
Rockefeller Center was named after John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who leased the space from Columbia
University in 1928 and developed it from 1930. Rockefeller initially planned a syndicate to build an opera
house for the Metropolitan Opera on the site, but changed his mind after the stock market crash of 1929
and the withdrawal of the Metropolitan from the project. The centerpiece of Rockefeller Center is the 70-floor
266 metre high GE Building—formerly known as the RCA Building. The building was renamed in the 1980s
after General Electric (GE) re-acquired RCA, which it helped found in 1919.
The Empire State Building was financed primarily by Pierre S. du Pont.
De La Rue is the world’s largest commercial security printer and papermaker, involved in the production of
over 150 national currencies and a wide range of security documents such as passports, authentication
labels and fiscal stamps.
De La Rue plc is a British security printing, papermaking and cash-handling systems company
headquartered in Hampshire.
The Company was founded by Thomas de la Rue who set up in business as a
stationer and printer in London in 1821. In 1831 his business secured a Royal Warrant
to produce playing cards, in 1855 it started printing postage stamps and in 1860 it
began printing banknotes. In 2003 the Company acquired the banknote printing
operations of the Bank of England.
Bayer registered Aspirin as a trademark in 1899. However, the German company lost the right to use the
trademark in many countries as the Allies seized and resold its foreign assets after World War I. The right to
use ‘Aspirin’ in the United States (along with all other Bayer trademarks) was purchased from the U.S.
government by Sterling Drug in 1918
The Prince of Wales Bhumi Vardaan Foundation, with Prince Charles as its chief patron, began
manufacturing organic tea bags in India.
Coca-Cola and L’Oreal are teaming up to create a nutraceutical beverage called Lumaé, a tea-based
ready-to-drink beverage that will contain ingredients that can help women care for their skin.
(6) of (7)
Brand Icon: Xerox
Xerox can trace its roots to 1906, when a photography-paper business named The Haloid Company was
established in Rochester, New York.
In 1935 Haloid bought the Rectigraph Company, a photocopying machine manufacturer that used Haloid's
paper. Selling Rectigraphs became an important part of Haloid’s business.
In 1947 Haloid entered into an agreement with Battelle Memorial Institute, a nonprofit research
organization to produce a machine based on a new process called xerography.
Xerography was the invention of Chester Carlson who became a patent lawyer
Carlson in 1938 invented a method of transferring images from one piece of paper to another using static
In 1973, Xerox PARC created the Xerox Alto a small minicomputer. The Alto was never commercially sold,
as Xerox itself could not see the sales potential of it.
In 1979, several Apple Computer employees, including Steve Jobs, visited Xerox PARC and the others saw
the commercial potential of the GUI and mouse, and began development of the Apple Lisa, which Apple
introduced in 1983.
The first laser printer was produced by Xerox in 1977 when researcher Gary Starkweather modified a
Xerox copier in 1971
In 1981 Xerox released the Memorywriter typewriter
In 1981, Xerox PARC developed a workstation called Xerox Star
which despite its technological breakthroughs, did not sell well due to its
Brand Icon: Sanyo Electric Co
Sanyo was founded by Toshio Iue, the brother-in-law of Konosuke
Matsushita and also a former Matsushita employee.
The company's name means three oceans in Japanese, referring to the
founder's ambition to sell their products worldwide, across the Atlantic,
Pacific and Indian oceans.
Sanyo got its start as a manufacturer of bicycle lamps. In 1952 it made
Japan’s first plastic radio and in 1954 Japan’s first pulsator-type washing machine.
Fisher Electronics is a Sanyo US subsidiary.
Sanyo Electric produced solar modules worth $213 million
(7) of (7)
Brand Icons: Walgreens
• Walgreen is a pharmacy chain with operations in US and Puerto Rico.
• Select stores now include Walgreens TakeCare Health Clinics staff diagnose, treat,
and prescribe for common illnesses and also issue vaccinations
Brand Icons: Fujitsu
Fujitsu is a Japanese company specializing in semiconductors, telecommunications, and services. The
slogan is “The possibilities are infinite”
The company was established in 1935 under the name Fuji Tsūshinki Seizō (Fuji Telecommunications
Equipment Manufacturing), a spin-off of the Fuji Electric Company
Fuji Electric Company was a joint venture between the Furukawa Electric Company and German
conglomerate Siemens founded in 1923
In 1954 Fujitsu manufactured Japan's first computer, the FACOM 100
The active partnership with Siemens AG was revived in 1999 in the form of Fujitsu Siemens Computers,
owned 50/50 by Fujitsu and Siemens.
In 1992, Fujitsu introduced the world’s first 21-inch full-colour display
Product lines: LifeBook notebook computers.
Servers SPARC Enterprise, PRIMEPOWER, PRIMEQUEST, PRIMERGY, ETERNUS storage for
In the movie ‘Back to the Future Part II’ the writers thought by 2015 most companies would be owned by
Japan. In 2015, Marty’s employer is Fujitsu, and he is fired by company owner Ito Fujitsu.
Brand Icons: Vodafone
The name Vodafone comes from ‘voice data fone’, chosen by the company to ‘reflect the provision of voice
and data services over mobile phones.’
In 1985 Racal Electronics launched Vodafone
1991: Racal Telecom was demerged from Racal Electronics as Vodafone Group
1999: Vodafone purchased AirTouch Communications, Inc. and changed its name to Vodafone AirTouch
plc. The acquisition gave Vodafone a 35% share of Mannesmann, the largest German mobile network.
1999: Vodafone merged its U.S. wireless assets with those of Bell Atlantic Corp to form Verizon Wireless
2000: Mannesmann, which had purchased Orange (UK mobile operator), was acquired by Vodafone
2000: Reverts to its former name, Vodafone Group Plc