Iranian Missile Launch Confirmed
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced
that his country had successfully testfired
missile apparently capable of striking
Israel and U.S. bases in the Persian Gulf region.
U.S. officials confirmed the launch, while armscontrol
experts debated its significance. Several described it as
evidence of continuing progress in Iran's missile
program, if not a breakthrough. Iran fired a similar
missile last year.
Iran's ability to build a solidfuel
rocket suggests an
increasing sophistication in its missile program, because
solid fuel offers advantages over Iran's previous liquidfuel
program, several experts said. For one thing, liquidfuel
rockets are more vulnerable to preemptive strikes
because it takes hours or even days to fuel them. Solidfuel
rockets can be launched faster and are more mobile,
the experts said.
The missile was launched from a site in Semnan province, where Iran's missile and space
programs are headquartered and Ahmadinejad was born. Ahmadinejad visited the province
Wednesday as part of a series of trips by government officials to Iran's 30 provinces ahead of
the June 12 presidential election.
Reporters touring with Ahmadinejad saw corkscrews of smoke on the horizon near the
Alborz mountain range. Hours later, Ahmadinejad announced the news to a crowd of
thousands of people gathered for a speech in the city of Semnan. He said the missile struck its
intended target, but he did not specify where the target was.
"The rocket went into space, returned to Earth and hit its target," Ahmadinejad said to
raucous cheers in a soccer stadium lined with posters bearing his image.
Ahmadinejad has long said Iran's nuclear program has strictly peaceful civilian purposes. But
he linked the missile test with that program, calling it an important scientific achievement and
a blow to those trying to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions.
"In the nuclear case, we send them a message: Today the Islamic Republic of Iran is running
the show," Ahmadinejad said in his speech. "We say to the superpowers, 'Who of you dare to
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threaten the Iranian nation? Raise your hand!' But they all stand there with their hands behind
Gary Samore, the top White House counter proliferation official, said the missile was "a
significant step forward in terms of Iran's capability to deliver weapons."
But some experts said the missile was a new version of an existing missile that was
successfully tested late last year and has a range of about 1,200 miles.
The implication of solid fuel is that you can slap it onto a truck or put it in a cave and drive it
around," said Jeffrey G. Lewis, Director of the nuclear strategy nonproliferation initiative at
the New America Foundation in Washington.
According to the Iranian government, the missile showed another technical development: It
was in two stages, rather than one. For years, the Iranians simply built bigger and bigger onestage
rockets, which came to be nicknamed "Scuds on steroids," said Greg Thielmann, a
senior fellow at the Arms Control Association. But a twostage
rocket can go farther, because
it jettisons some of its weight as it flies. A country has to develop a twostage
system in order
to build intercontinental ballistic missile systems.
Samore said the launch might strengthen the coalition of countries that has been trying to
restrain Iran's nuclear program.
Iran's nuclear program was the top priority for Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
when he visited President Obama at the White House for the first time.
Israel said after the launch Wednesday that Europe and the United States should share Israel's
goal of stopping Iran's missile program. "In terms of strategic importance, this new missile
test doesn't change anything for us since the Iranians already tested a missile with a range of
1,500 kilometers, but it should worry the Europeans," Deputy Foreign Minister Danny
Ayalon told Israel Radio. "If anybody had a doubt, it is clear the Iranians are playing with
Obama acknowledged Monday that there is "deepening concern" in the global community
about Iran's nuclear ambitions. But the White House is pushing Israel, which receives nearly
$3 billion in annual military aid from the United States and has its own undeclared nuclear
arsenal, to focus on better relations with its Arab neighbors as a way to step up international
pressure on Iran.
Obama said that he would wait until after Iran's presidential election next month to directly
engage its leaders. Obama said he should know by the end of the year whether talks and
international pressure are dissuading Iran's leadership from pursuing nuclear weapons.
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Diplomats barred from Burma trial
Burmese authorities have barred international observers
from the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi, a day after allowing
them to attend.
The government opened proceedings to diplomats and
journalists, in an apparent response to criticism. But a
Burmese official said that the move had been "only for
leader Aung San Suu Kyi is accused of
breaking the terms of her house arrest, after a US man swam across a lake to visit her. The 63
has been in detention without being charged for more than 13 of the past 19 years.
Her latest period of house arrest was scheduled to expire on 27 May, and many observers see
this case against her as a pretext to ensure she is still in detention during next year's elections.
On 20 May Aung San Suu Kyi was allowed to speak to three foreign diplomats. Several
others, along with 10 journalists, were allowed into court at Rangoon's Insein prison.
But a Burmese official said that the court would not be open to international observers on
"Only for one day were diplomats and press allowed," the unidentified official told AFP news
Lawyers for Suu Kyi have argued that she did not invite the US national, John Yettaw, to
visit, and only allowed him to stay because he said he was exhausted.
But the UK's Ambassador to Burma, Mark Canning, said he was not confident that she would
receive a fair trial.
"I think this is a story where the conclusion is already scripted," he said.
Burma's ruling generals say they will hold multiparty
elections in 2010.
Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy won the last elections, in 1990, but was
never allowed to take power.
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in Cabinet, says Sonia
United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia
Gandhi has told party managers that she was in favour of
appointing only politicians as Cabinet ministers, since they
were accountable to the people during elections, and
preferred to keep "nonpoliticians"
This, in effect, minimizes the chance of Planning
Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia
or former Reserve Bank Governor C Rangarajan being
appointed finance minister.
According to top sources in the party, "this narrows down
the choice for finance ministry to Pranab Mukherjee, who may retain the portfolio, and P
Both Chidambaram, who headed finance before taking charge of home after the 26/11 terror
attacks, and Mukherjee, who took over from him, are interested in heading the ministry.
Meanwhile, after holding separate meetings with some of the allies over sharing of
ministerial berths, the Congress top brass held the first meeting of the UPA. Most of the
parties have offered Manmohan Singh unconditional support to form the next government.
Mamata Banerjee, whose Trinamool Congress won 19 seats, has sought at least two Cabinet
portfolios from a choice of three — railways, rural development and information technology
In a late development, top Congress managers conveyed to the supporters that in the wake of
more parties offering unconditional support to the Congressled
government, a new formula
to share ministerial berths was in the works, according to which the party would offer one
Cabinet portfolio to a prepoll
ally for every 10 seats won by it. Earlier, the party offered two
ministries for every 13 seats held.
Besides, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), with 18 MPs, has also demanded IT and
Telecommunications, a portfolio it held in the outgoing government. The DMK patriarch and
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Karunanidhi also met the Congress president and is learnt to
have asked for seven Cabinet berths for his party.
Although Karunanidhi is keen to get a Cabinet seat for his loyal T R Baalu, Congress sources
claim the prime minister was unimpressed by his performance in the last five years. Baalu
was in charge of shipping, road transport and highways.
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During Baalu's tenure at least five Chairmen of the National Highways Authority of India
had to quit in quick succession, following reports of disagreements with the minister.
Congress sources suggest the prime minister is also not happy with the progress of the
National Highway network.
In today's meeting, attended by DMK, Trinamool Congress, NCP, National Conference,
PCK, Bodo People's Front, Kerala Congress (Mani) and Muslim League, Manmohan Singh
laid emphasis on strengthening the UPA's flagship programmes and said internal security and
maintaining communal harmony would be his government's priorities.
MTV signs deal with HCL for online support
HCL Technologies signing a global outsourcing deal with
MTV Networks (MTVN) to develop and support its online
media platforms. The financial details were not disclosed.
MTV Networks is part of media conglomerate Viacom and
owns brands such as MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon and
Comedy Central. The outsourcing engagement with HCL
is aimed at supporting content delivery on the Internet.
HCL and MTVN signed the deal in the OctoberDecember
quarter last year. It was not disclosed when HCL will start generating revenues
from the contract.
The Indian IT firm will provide application development and maintenance services to the
media firm. "We will also work on future technologies such as media players, search
technologies and product engineering for MTVN," said HCL Technologies Senior Director
HCL will work on developing and supporting platforms for media players, social networking
and games, among others, for MTVN. Most of the work under the engagement will be done
at HCL's existing centres in Chennai, while the user interface design would be supported
from Noida. HCL will also set up a media centre for MTV Networks for developing new
products such as media players. The IT firm didn't reveal the investment earmarked for the
centre that is likely to come up in Chennai.
HCL Technologies CEO Vineet Nayar said the firm's innovative solutions and riskandreward
sharing model has helped it bag a number of deals in the last several quarters. "We
look forward to this partnership with MTVN and demonstrating the value which HCL
brings," he added.
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In the last few months, HCL has won a number of deals including a $350million
services outsourcing deal with Readers' Digest Association (RDA) signed in March this year.
Apart from ADM and infrastructure support, HCL would also work on digital content
delivery for the media firm. It also won a sevenyear,
IT services deal from
Indian general insurer National Insurance Company. HCL also signed a $100million
centre services and transformation deal with printing major Xerox Corporation. More
recently, it bagged a multimillion
dollar deal from supply chain services firm UTI.
Novartis buys part of generics maker for $1.2 billion
Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Novartis AG said that it will
buy the generic injectable cancer drugs business of
Austria's EBEWE Pharma for $1.2 billion in cash.
Novartis said EBEWE's products will be incorporated into its own generics units Sandoz,
creating a new unit in Unterach, Austria. Some of EBEWE's products include versions of the
chemotherapy agents Cytarabine and Etoposid, along with the breast cancer treatment
"These medicines will remain the backbone of multidrug
treatments in the fight against
cancer, one of the world's leading causes of death,'' said Novartis Chief Executive Daniel
Vasella. The deal excludes EBEWE's line of injectable neurological medicines, Novartis said.
The market for injectable generics was estimated to be worth $1012
billion in 2008, with
cancer drugs accounting for almost a third of that, Novartis said.
company said cancer drugs worth $9 billion in annual sales are expected to
lose patent protection by 2015. Novartis shares closed 0.5 percent higher at $40.41 (USD) on
the Zurich exchange.
The move comes on the heels of Pfizer Inc.'s decision to expand more strongly into generic
drugs. The New Yorkbased
company added injected drugs specialist Claris Lifesciences Ltd.
as a partner while expanding a prior deal with Indiabased
Aurobindo Pharma Ltd.
The deals come as large pharmaceutical companies scramble to protect revenue because of
pricing pressures, increased competition and a lack of new blockbuster drugs. For many
companies, their largest moneymakers are losing patent protection, opening the market up to
cheaper generic competition and cutting into sales.
Utilities test Google Software to Save Energy
A handful of electric utilities are rolling out software made by Internet giant Google Inc.
(GOOG) as part of their "smartmeter"
programs in hopes it will help customers conserve
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Utilities including Sempra Energy's (SRE), San Diego Gas
& Electric unit, Energy Future Holdings Corp.'s, TXU
Energy, and Integrys Energy Group Inc.'s (TEG)
Wisconsin Public Service Corp. are testing Google's
software as part of programs to digitize their utility meters
and relay usage information to the utility and to customers.
The application, called Google PowerMeter, reads information coming from a smart meter,
and displays it in realtime
on a Web site. As utilities increasingly embrace smart meters as a
way to cut energy use, in part by charging customers for the power they use at realtime
prices, they have been searching for ways to display the information in a userfriendly
manner that allows customers to adjust their power use. Smart meters and their potential to
help cut U.S. energy consumption and greenhousegas
emissions, have been embraced by
President Barack Obama and Congress, in part through billions of dollars in grants made
available for smartmeter
programs as part of the Recovery Act.
"A smart meter is just a meter unless you're able to utilize the information and get it into
customers' hands," said Hal Snyder, vice president of customer solutions at San Diego Gas &
Electric. The utility is rolling out Google's PowerMeter as part of its $572 million smartmeter
San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) estimates its smart meters, with the PowerMeter
application, could help customers cut their use by 5% to 10%. Such cuts likely would come
from people unplugging televisions, DVD players and other electronics, and turning off
lights, Snyder said.
A small group of San Diego Gas & Electric employees has been testing the PowerMeter, and
the utility plans to expand the program to 35 other customers this month. If the system works
well, SDG&E likely will offer it to all 1.4 million customers slated for electricmeter
upgrades over the next two years, Snyder said.
SDG&E and Google, of Mountainview, Calif., said they're working with electric meter and
data management company Itron Inc. (ITRI) to work on putting the software in place.
Other utilities testing Google's PowerMeter include Reliance Energy in India and Toronto
System Ltd. in Canada and Glasgow EPB of Kentucky, White River Valley
Electric Cooperative of Missouri, and JEA of Florida. Google said it plans to partner with
additional utilities and meter companies in the future.
American Idol winner is crowned
Student Kris Allen has been named the surprise winner of the eighth season of American
Idol. The 23yearold
from Arkansas beat favourite Adam Lambert, 27, to the title in
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"I'm sorry; I don't even know what to feel right now.
This is crazy," he said after hearing he had won. Host
Ryan Seacrest said nearly 100 million votes had been
cast during the show, which featured Keith Urban and
Lionel Richie as guest stars.
Allen, who won over audiences with his allAmerican
good looks and by putting a personal spin on popular
tunes, appeared shocked as musical theatre actor
Lambert embraced him after the announcement.
How to fit 300 DVDs on one disc
A new optical recording method could pave the way for data
discs with 300 times the storage capacity of standard DVDs,
Nature journal reports. The researchers say this could see a
whopping 1.6 Terabytes of information fit on a DVDsized
They describe their method as "fivedimensional"
recording and say it could be commercialised.
The technique employs nanometerscale
particles of gold as
a recording medium.
Researchers at Swinburne University of Technology in
Australia have exploited the particular properties of these
by manipulating the light pointed at them.
The team members described what they did as adding three "dimensions" to the two spatial
dimensions that DVD and CD discs already have.
They say they were able to introduce a spectral or
and a polarization
dimension, as well as recording information in 10 layers of the Nanorod
films, adding a third
The scientists used the nanoparticles to record information in a range of different colour
wavelengths on the same physical disc location. This is a major improvement over traditional
DVDs, which are recorded in a single colour wavelength with a laser.
Also, the amount of incoming laser light absorbed by the nanoparticles depends on its
polarization. This allowed the researchers to record different layers of information at different
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Their approach used 10layer
stacks composed of thin glass plates as the recording medium.
If scaled up to a DVDsized
disk, the team would be able to record 1.6 terabytes that
1,600 gigabytes or
over 300 times the quantity stored on a standard DVD.
Significant improvements could be made by thinning the spacer layers and using more than
two polarization angles pushing
the limits to 10 Terabytes per disc and beyond, the
Recent efforts based on holography have shown that up to 500 GB could potentially be stored
on standard DVDsized
disks. Holographic methods take all of the information to be recorded
and encode it in the form of a graph showing how often certain frequencies arise in it.
Reliance Power to invest Rs 12,000 crore in Arunachal
Reliance Power will invest
over Rs 12,000 crore for executing 2,520MW
hydro power projects in Arunachal Pradesh, to
be commissioned in the next Five Year Plan
"Reliance Power has signed an agreement with the Arunachal Pradesh government
for developing 2,520 MW of hydro power projects in the state," a Reliance Power
The company has signed agreement with the state government for developing four hydro
power projects 1,200
420 MW Amulin, 500 MW Emini and 400 MW
These projects were awarded to the company through competitive bidding conducted by the
The current hydro project portfolio of Reliance Power is 4,620 MW, one of the largest in
private sector in India.
Besides, the other projects of the company in the state are 700MW
Siyom, a company statement said.
Construction activities have commenced at TatoII
and Siyom and preliminary work like
preparation of Detailed Project Report is going on for all the other projects, it said.
All these projects are Runofriver
(ROR) projects and would take 67
years to get
commissioned. They are expected to be commissioned in the next plan period (201217)
will be the first project to go onstream.
Skoda launches luxury car the New Laura
Skoda India launched its luxury car the New
Laura, which is available in three engines
and six variants, priced between Rs 12.67
lakh and Rs 17.15 lakh, according to exshowroom
"We are proud to present the New Laura,
which assures the customers a perfect 10/10
driving experience," Skoda India Board
Member Thomas Kuehl said in a release.
"Skoda India has achieved tremendous success since its inception in India and we are looking
forward to achieve many more milestones with the support of our valued Indian customers,"
"With the New Laura, we will reinstate our supreme position in the C+ segment and aim at
increasing our segment share by penetration into smaller cities and towns in India for which
we are expanding our dealer network and infrastructure to 65 points by this yearend,"
India GM Sales Ashutosh Dixit said.
set to open its first Indian wholesale outlet
the world's largest retailer, is set to open its first
wholesale or cashandcarry
store in India next week and
has chosen Amritsar as the location to kickstart
venture, company officials said. The USbased
also decided to call its cashandcarry
Modern Wholesale to offer retailers bargains that would
eventually benefit end consumers, the officials added.
The venture is in collaboration with the Bharti group that
has interests in telecom, retail, agrotrade
and realty industries. The US giant and Bharti had
formed the 50:50 joint venture in 2007 to launch a chain of wholesale stores in India.
Officials said more than dozen such large stores, spread over 50,000 to 100,000 sq ft were
planned in the country over the next five years. They said only retailers who have a sales tax
number would be served at these stores.
India does not permit foreign equity in multibrand
retailing, estimated to be a $350billion
industry and seen doubling in size by 2015. Only 5% of the market is in the organized
segment, with momandpop
stores accounting for the bulk of the shops.