Sunday, May 2, 2010

News in brief-World

President Barack Obama has lifted a Bush Administration ban on using federal funds for

human embryonic-stem-cell research, which scientists believe could help treat illnesses

like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Pro-life advocates criticized Obama's move, saying it

could lead to the destruction of human embryos in the name of research.

India, with 196 of its languages listed as endangered, tops the list of countries having the

maximum number of dialects on the verge of extinction in UNESCO's latest Atlas of

World's Languages in Danger of Disappearing. India is closely followed by the U.S.

which stands to lose 192 languages and Indonesia, where 147 are in peril.

Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) men surrendered their arms to the authorities ending their twoday

revolt after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's ultimatum to do so and go back to the

barracks or face tough measures.

The mutineers killed an unspecified number of Army officers, including Director-

General of the BDR Major General Shakil Ahmed, posted in the paramilitary border

force. Several thousand jawans are said to have revolted against their "corrupt officers."

President Hugo Chavez has ordered troops to temporarily seize control of all Venezuelan

rice processing plants to ensure they produce at full capacity. The President had accused

some companies of slowing production to evade price caps that have slashed their profit


Chang'e-1, China's first lunar probe, impacted the Moon recently, thereby ending its 16-

month mission. The probe, named after a legendary Chinese Moon goddess, was

launched into space on October 24, 2007 and sent the first full map of the Moon's surface

back to China one month later.

Renegade soldiers assassinated the President of Guinea-Bissau Joao Bernardo Vieira

in his palace, hours after a bomb blast killed his rival, but the military said no coup was in

progress in the fragile West African nation.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has resigned to pave the way for the

formation of a national unity government comprising Palestinian President Mahmoud

Abbas' Fatah and rival Hamas.



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The Vatican's official newspaper L'Osservatore Romano has said the washing

machine has done more to "liberate" women than the contraceptive pill.

President Barack Obama has said he will not allow human cloning in U.S. even as he

lifted the eight-year-old ban on government funding of embryonic stem cell research.

Delhi born 34-year-old Vivek Kundra was appointed the first ever Federal Chief

Information Officer by President Barack Obama recently.

Actor and director Clint Eastwood has been awarded a prestigious Palme d'Or award,

three months before this year's Cannes Film Festival starts in May 2009. Ingmar

Bergman is the only other director to receive the award, in 1997.

US animation director and producer John Lasseter will

receive a lifetime achievement award at this year's Venice

Film Festival in September 2009. Lasseter is the creative

force behind box office hits including 'Toy Story',

'Monsters Inc' and 'Finding Nemo'. He will share the

award with the directors of Disney Pixar studios, the first

time an entire team has been honoured with a career award.

Corporate icon

The Piaggio Group: A venerable heritage

Based in Pontedera, Rinaldo Piaggio founded Piaggio

encompasses seven brands producing scooters and

motorcycles. As the fourth largest producer of scooters

and motorcycles in the world,

Piaggio produces more than 600,000 vehicles annually,

with five Research and development centers, more than

6,700 employees and operations in over 50 countries. It

had revenues of $ 2.53 billion and net profit of $ 89.68

million in 2007. The most famous design associated with

this large industrial design company was the Vespa motor

scooter designed by the aeronautical engineer Corradino

D'Ascanio at the end of the Second World War.



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Founded by Rinaldo Piaggio in 1884, Piaggio initially produced locomotives and railway carriages.

During World War I the company focused on producing airplanes.

During World War II the company produced bomber aircraft, but Piaggio emerged from the conflict with its

Pontedera plant completely demolished by bombing.

Enrico Piaggio, the son of Piaggio's founder Rinaldo Piaggio, decided to leave the aeronautical field in order

to address Italy's urgent need for a modern and affordable mode of transportation. The idea was to design

an inexpensive vehicle for the masses.

Aeronautical engineer Corradino D'Ascanio, responsible for the design and construction of the first

modern helicopter by Agusta, was given the job of designing a simple, robust and affordable vehicle by

Enrico Piaggio.

Consequently, in 1946 Piaggio launched the Vespa (Italian for "wasp") scooter, and within 10 years over a

million units had been produced.

With strong cash flow emanating from the success of the Vespa, Piaggio developed other products,

including the 1957 Vespa 400, the only passenger car ever produced by the company.

In 1959, Piaggio came under the control of the Agnelli family, the owners of car maker Fiat SpA.

Resultantly, as the wider ownership of Fiat in Italian industry, in the 1964 the two divisions (aeronautical and

motorcycle) split to become two independent companies; the aeronautical division was named IAM Rinaldo


Today the airplane-company Piaggio Aero is controlled by the family of Piero Ferrari, who also still holds

10% of the famous car maker Ferrari.


Founded in 1884, Piaggio's product range includes scooters, mopeds

and motorcycles from 50 to 1,200cc under the Piaggio, Vespa, Gilera,

Aprilia, Moto Guzzi, Derbi and Scarabeo brands. Piaggio also

operates in the 3-and 4-wheeled light transport sector with the Ape,

Porter and Quargo.

Fiat's Giovanni Alberto Agnelli was elected President of Piaggio.

In 1994, Sfera, the first scooter with plastic bodywork was produced

by Piaggio.

In 1994 a milestone was reached with the launch of maxiscooter


Piaggio models include Liberty, NRG, Fly and Zip.

Vespa models include Granturismo and GTS.

Gilera models include Runner and Nexus.

Aprilia models include SR, Sportcity, Leonardo and Atlantic scooters & Scarabeo, Tuono, Caponord

and Pegaso bikes.

Moto Guzzi, founded in Mandello del Lario 1921, is famous for models like Norge, California Vintage,

California Touring, Breva, Griso, Nevada Classics and Corsa.

Derbi's current range is composed of the Mulhacén and the Senda, Atlantis, GPR, GP1 and Boulevard




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Group companies


Sometimes likened to the Ford Model T automobile (1908-

27), which sold 15 million units in its lifetime, the Italian

Vespa motor scooter designed by Corradino D'Ascanio

and manufactured by Piaggio since 1946 has been the bestselling

two-wheeler, with more Vespas than Model Ts having

been sold by the end of the 20th century.

In terms of public visibility and capturing the public

imagination, the Vespa has also featured in countless films

spanning several generations, including 'Roman Holiday' (in

which it was ridden by Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn),

Vincente Minnelli's 'An American in Paris', Federico Fellini's

'La dolce vita', Franc Roddam's 'Quadrophenia', George

Lucas's 'American Graffiti', and Jay Roach's 'Austin Powers'.

The Vespa scooter (named after the wasp whose buzzing it

imitates) proved to be a stylish, affordable means of

transportation in the reconstruction period of the later 1940s,

epitomizing the democratic spirit that infused the outlook of

many designers in the years immediately after the end of the


Able to be ridden by men and women alike, easy to operate,

with three-speed gears operated from the handlebar, a pedal-operated rear brake, and a stylish body casing

to protect riders from dirt, the final form evolved from D'Ascanio's 1945 Paperino and MP6 prototypes and

was launched in April 1946. It proved immensely popular throughout Europe and the rest of the world later.

Moto Guzzi

Established in 1921 in Mandello del Lario, Italy, Moto Guzzi has led

Italy's motorcycling manufacture, enjoyed prominence in world-wide

motorcycle racing, and led the industry in ground-breaking innovation —

for the greater part of its history.

Moto Guzzi was conceived by Carlo Guzzi, Giovanni Ravelli and

Giorgi Parodi, two aircraft pilots and their mechanic serving in the

Corpo Aeronautico Militare (the Italian Air Corp, CAM) during World War I. The three were assigned to the

Miraglia Squadron based outside Venice.

The trio envisioned creating a motorcycle company after the war. Guzzi would engineer the motor bikes,

Parodi (scion of wealthy Genovese ship-owners) would finance the venture, and Ravelli (already a famous

pilot and motocycle racer) would promote the bikes with his racing prowess.

Guzzi and Parodi formed Moto Guzzi in 1921. Ravelli, ironically, had died just days after the war's end in an

aircraft crash – and is commemorated by the eagle's wings that form the Moto Guzzi logo.



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Derbi's origins began with a little bicycle workshop in the village of Mollet near Barcelona, founded in 1922

by Simón Rabasa Singla.

In 1944, Singla formed a limited liability company named Bicicletas Rabas with the

aim of moving into manufacturing bicycles.

In 1950, the company changed its name to the Nacional Motor SA and unveiled its first motorcycle, the Derbi


The name Derbi is an acknowledgement of the company's history and is an acronym for DERivados de

BIcicletas (derivatives of bicycles).


Aprilia is an Italian motorcycle company, one of the seven marques owned by Piaggio, the world's fourth

largest motorcycle manufacturer. Aprilia started as a scooter manufacturer, but

has more recently come to be known for its race-winning sportbikes–V-twin

Superbike, the RSV Mille.

Aprilia has introduced a number of technological innovations–the first catalytic

converter for scooters and the first water cooling system for 125cc bikes. It

has introduced completely new segments, like Scarabeo.


Gilera is an Italian motorcycle manufacturer founded in Arcore in 1909 by Giuseppe Gilera. In

1969 the company was purchased by the Piaggio & Co. SpA.

In 1935 Gilera acquired rights to the Rondine four-cylinder engine. From the mid-thirties

Gilera developed a range of four-stroke engine machines. The most famous of which was the

1939 Saturno.

Piaggio's commercial vehicles: Ape, Porter, Quargo, Trackmaster.

News in brief-India

Liquor baron Vijay Mallya bought Mahatma

Gandhi's personal belongings that included

including sandals, a Zenith pocket watch and some

utensils for $1.8 million (Rs 9.4 crore) at an auction

conducted by Antiquorum Auctioneers in New

York. Mallya rejected Union Culture Minister Ambika Soni's claim that the government

had arranged for procurement of the items through him.

Just before the auction, owner of Mahatma Gandhi's personal belongings James Otis

had agreed to withdraw these from the auction. But the auction house did not agree.

Mallya has presented these items to the government of India.



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President Pratibha Patil has rejected Chief Election Commissioner N. Gopalaswami's

recommendation that Navin Chawla be removed as Election Commissioner. The

President's decision is said to have been based on a recommendation given by the Union

Law Ministry.

Gopalaswami is due to retire on April 20 and by rejecting his recommendation, the decks

have been cleared for Navin Chawla's appointment as the next CEC. Acting on the

BJP's complaint, the outgoing CEC made a suo motu recommendation to the President.

Chawla will hold charge till July 29, 2010 when he will turn 65. The new CEC has

authored a number of books, including a biography of Mother Teresa that became

popular internationally.

Minister of State for Commerce and Power Jairam Ramesh

resigned from the council of ministers to devote more time to the

party. He was the architect of the Congress manifesto for the

2004 Lok Sabha elections.

The manifesto prepared by Jairam Ramesh later morphed into

the Common Minimum Programme (CMP), the document on the basis of which the

United Progressive Alliance government moved forward. The slogan 'Congress ka

haath, Aam aadmi ke saath' was Ramesh's brainchild.

The Union government has appointed Justice Gurbax Rai Majithia as the new

chairman of the National Wage Boards for Working Journalists and Other Newspaper

Employees. He replaces Justice K. Narayan Kurup, who resigned from the post on July

30, 2008 after the wage boards recommended 30% interim relief

for newspaper employees.

Career-diplomat Satyabrata Pal joined the National Human

Rights Commission (NHRC) as its member after retiring from

service recently. A 1972-batch IFS officer, Pal, who was till

recently India's high commissioner to Pakistan, will have a fiveyear

term in the NHRC.

Hindi film singers Shaan and Roop Kumar Rathore have been roped in by the BJP to

sing their publicity jingles for the coming Lok Sabha polls. The ads, which will be

signed off with the slogan "Mazboot Neta, Nirnayak Sarkar" (Strong leader, Decisive

government), have been designed by Frank Simoes-Tag and Utopia.



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India Post released a stamp in the denomination of Rs 5 to commemorate the 60th

anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights on

December 10, 2008.The stamp features Abraham Lincoln,

Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Junior, and Mother Teresa

the acknowledged champions of human rights.

A special court in New Delhi sentenced the former Union

Minister of State for Communications, Sukhram, to three-year

rigorous imprisonment and ordered forfeiture of his assets worth

Rs. 4.35 crore, disproportionate to the known sources of his


The French government will lend its support to the setting up of a new Indian Institute

of Technology (IIT) in Jaipur, which will focus on the study of aeronautical engineering

and energy research.

Nirmala Venkatesh, member of the National Commission for Women, was removed

from her office for failing to conduct an unbiased enquiry into the Mangalore pub attack

on girls last month by the Sri Ram Sene activists.

India has won formal approval for an Additional Protocol (AP) to its safeguards

agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from the agency's

Board of Governors. This completes all of its major commitments stemming from the

July 2005 nuclear agreement with the United States.

Nirmala Venkatesh, who was removed as a member of the

National Commission for Women over the Mangalore pub attack

probe, has joined the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The former Prime Minister, V.P. Singh's Jan Morcha merged

with Ram Vilas Paswan-led Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJP). V.P.

Singh's son Ajay Pratap Singh — who heads the Jan Morcha —

will be the party's candidate from Fatehpur in Uttar Pradesh.

The Congress, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)

have sealed a seat-sharing pact for the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Jharkhand.

The Election Commission cracked the whip on the Congress party and Saakshi TV

channel for telecasting an advertisement depicting the alleged back-stabbing of NTR by

his son-in-law and Telugu Desam president N. Chandrababu Naidu.

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