Geo News 8th June 2012 - Latest Geo updates 8th June 2012 Live
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WASHINGTON: Pakistan's ambassador to the United States branded as "unhelpful" U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's latest stab at Islamabad's failure to tackle militant safe havens, saying it would make it harder for the two countries to narrow their differences.
Panetta, speaking in Kabul on Thursday, said the United States was reaching the limits of its patience with Pakistan because of the safe havens the country offered to insurgents fighting in neighboring Afghanistan.
"It adds an unhelpful twist to the process and leaves little
oxygen for those of us seeking to break a stalemate," Pakistan's
envoy, Sherry Rehman, said in a statement.
PESHAWAR: Spokesman for Provincial Government Mian Iftikhar Hussain on Thursday said the video regarding Kohistan scandal is a drama as it has been made at two different places.
He said the video shows that females are sitting at concrete made room whereas male in the video is dancing place of muddy structure.
Mian Iftikhar said the issue was complicated by those who prepared the video through modern computerize technique of 'mixing'. "Thanked to the Supreme Court which took sue moto notice which further rectified our stance that all the females are alive," Mian Iftikhar told a news conference in Peshawar.
The minister said he along with Maulana Esmatullah, Farzana Bari and other female activists reached to the place where the females met with the two females and confirmed that both of them were alive and secure.
"With the permission of females and heads of the family the NGO activists also made a video of both the females which only be shown to the Chief Justice of Supreme Court," he said.
Mian Iftikhar said that weather in the area was no good therefore the team took almost five hours to reach the place to confirm they are alive. He said that both the ladies also confirmed that the remaining three were also alive and living at different place.He said that the drama behind making a video will be further exposed in the coming time.
It is to be worth mentioned that Farzana Bari that they met with two of the females and they were alive and secure besides they had also made a video with the permission of the both the ladies which to be shown to the Chief Justice Itikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.
BAGHDAD: Attacks in central Iraq left five security members dead and an alleged Al-Qaeda fighter killed two prison guards Thursday, amid a recent spike in unrest that has broken a relative calm in Baghdad.
The violence comes just days after a suicide car bomb outside Iraq's Shiite religious foundation's headquarters in Baghdad killed 25 people, and during a protracted political crisis that has raised sectarian tensions.
In the deadliest attack, at least two anti-Qaeda militiamen were killed and one was wounded when gunmen opened fire on their checkpoint in the town of Tarmiyah, 45 kilometres (30 miles) north of the capital, an interior ministry official and a medical source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
A roadside bomb, meanwhile, detonated near an army patrol in the town of Mashaada, 30 kilometres (18 miles) north of Baghdad, killing one soldier and wounding three others, according to an army officer and a medic.
And in Abu Ghraib, just west of the capital, a roadside bomb blew up near an army checkpoint, killing one soldier and wounding three others, the interior ministry and medical officials said.
In Baghdad, police Lieutenant Colonel Nabil Hadi was shot dead by gunmen in the Jihad neighbourhood, in the capital's west, the interior ministry official said.
Thursday's attacks were the latest in a recent spike in violence. Along with Monday's suicide car bombing at the Shiite religious foundation in Baghdad, a series of blasts in the capital killed 17 people on May 31.
STANBUL: Al-Qaeda is still a spreading and imminent threat, US Secretary of State said Thursday, as she joined major world powers in Istanbul for a meeting to curb terrorism.
"The core of Al-Qaeda that carried out the 9/11 attacks may be on the path to defeat, but the threat has spread, becoming more geographically diverse," Clinton said at a speech that kick started the Global Counterterrorism Forum meeting.
"We will always maintain our right to use force against groups such as Al-Qaeda that have attacked us and still threaten us with imminent attack."
Although the group has lost serious blood after its core leadership ranks were destroyed, Clinton said, "the danger from terrorism remains urgent and undeniable."
She was referring to the recent killing of Al-Qaeda number two Abu Yahya al-Libi Tuesday, after a US drone strike dealt the most weighty blow to the group since the killing of its mastermind, Osama bin Laden.
"Just as the threat we face crosses borders and oceans, so must our response," Clinton added, calling on some thirty participants of the forum for an orchestrated effort to battle terrorism across the world.
Her call for increased global efforts was backed up by Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who co-chairs the Istanbul meeting with the US top diplomat.
"I believe one thing is crystal clear to all of us: No country is immune from this threat and we cannot win the fight against terrorism unless we join hands," said Davutoglu for his part.
The second meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Forum, established by support of the United Nations in 2011, came amid concerns of civilian losses during strikes against terrorist groups, particularly in NATO activity zones.
Clinton pledged that the US, the largest and commanding force in NATO, would "go to extraordinary lengths to ensure precision and avoid the loss of innocent life," coinciding with an angry Afghani response over unintentional killing of 18 civilians by a NATO air strike Wednesday.
NATO's US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said the strike was ordered after troops came under fire during an operation against a Taliban insurgent leader, and it would investigate charges of civilian deaths.
Civilian casualties caused by US and NATO air strikes have been a frequent source of tension concerning the use of drones in combatting terrorism.
US officials insist on continued drone attacks against Al-Qaeda affiliated insurgents, now pushed into Pakistan after the US entry in Afghanistan following September 11 attacks.
Since US President Barack Obama took office in 2009, US forces have been engaged in a relentless attempt to crush the group in various countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.
HONG KONG: Asian markets rose for a third successive day on Thursday, posting strong gains on hopes for stimulus measures in the United States and Europe as well as promises of help for Spain's banks.
The euro also held up against the yen and dollar after impressive gains in New York late Wednesday, with dealers feeling a little more confident European leaders can navigate the long-running crisis.
Tokyo was 1.26 percent higher by the break, Hong Kong rose 1.72 percent, Sydney was up 1.49 percent and Seoul soared 2.77 percent while Shanghai added 0.40 percent.
Regional investors followed the lead of their counterparts in Europe and the United States.
While a decision by the European Central Bank to keep rates on hold was disappointing, its head Mario Draghi said some governors on the policy committee had wanted a cut.
He added that Wednesday's decision was "taken by very broad consensus" - which analysts took to mean that there will be a reduction next month owing to the admission of dissent.
The bank also said it would keep cash flowing to the 17-nation eurozone's embattled banks, at least through year-end.
On Spain, French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici on Wednesday said the eurozone was ready to "mobilise very rapidly" to assist if Madrid requested it, slightly easing fears in the region's fourth largest economy.
Spain has become a huge concern for the eurozone, with Germany against providing aid to Spain to help its banks without a bailout, and other states flexible on how to help Madrid without resorting to a full rescue.
The likelihood of another round of stimulus in the United States rose again as the Fed looks to head off the effects of the European slump on the world's number one economy.
Dennis Lockhart, President of the Atlanta Federal Reserve, said the central bank might need to consider more easing if economic growth there hits more road blocks, days after another poor batch of jobs growth data.
He said if domestic growth is no longer possible "further monetary actions to support the recovery will certainly need to be considered", while the Fed rate-setting committee needs to be ready to respond to economic instability.
SINGAPORE: Crude prices rose in Asian trade Thursday amid speculation of further monetary easing in the US and as France pledged speedy eurozone mobilization should debt-straddled Spain require its aid.
New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in July, was up 20 cents to $85.22 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for July delivery gained 20 cents to $100.84.
"Crude oil futures rallied... on growing hopes for a rescue of Spain's troubled banks to ease the eurozone debt crisis, and as a US Federal Reserve official hinted at more monetary easing," Phillip Futures said in a report.
French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici on Wednesday said the eurozone was ready to "mobilise very rapidly" to assist Spain if Madrid requested it, tempering fears of a worsening crisis in the region's fourth largest economy.
In the US, Atlanta Federal Reserve President Dennis Lockhart said the Fed might need to consider more monetary easing if economic growth in the world's largest oil consumer hit more road blocks.
Stating that monetary policy was "appropriate" for the moment, Lockhart said in a speech posted on the bank's website that the Fed would likely consider more action if growth stalled.
"Should it become clear that something resembling my baseline scenario of continued, though modest, growth is no longer realistic, further monetary actions to support the recovery will certainly need to be considered," he said.
PARIS: India's Mahesh Bhupathi and Sania Mirza won the mixed doubles title at the French Open on Thursday, defeating Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico and Klaudia Jans-Ignacik of Poland 7-6 (7/3), 6-1 in the final.
Bhupathi, one of the most successful men's doubles and mixed doubles players ever, won the title in style on his 38th birthday.
"Now I don't have to think of a gift to give him," Mirza said after their victory which was broadcast live in India, where the pair, playing as seventh seeds, are national sporting heroes.
Bhupathi, who is married to Indian actress and former Miss Universe Lara Dutta, dedicated the trophy to their four-month-old daughter Saira, his first child.
"This one's for her and I'm really happy," he said, after winning his eighth mixed doubles majors crown -- he has now won each mixed title twice.
Bhupathi first won the mixed doubles title at Roland Garros in 1997, when he teamed up with Japan's Rika Hiraki to become the first player from India to lift a Grand Slam trophy.
He completed a career Grand Slam in mixed doubles in 2006. Bhupathi also has four men's doubles majors, including two in Paris
It was the third time that Mirza and Bhupathi had reached a Grand Slam final together. They won the 2009 Australian Open after being runners-up at the same tournament in 2008.
"We play a dangerous kind of tennis. When we're playing well, it's kind of hard to beat us," Bhupathi told a news conference.
Mirza, who did not play singles at Roland Garros following a rankings slump, added: "Every time you enter a tournament you want to win it. That's something that you enter hoping.
"You know, we were happy that we could keep the level up over two weeks and come out playing well on the important points. I think that's what really matters in mixed with the deuce and super tiebreaks."
Mirza said she felt they were destined to win the final, which was played in the late evening and in the aftermath of the women's singles semi-finals, and was watched by just a handful of fans inside the Philippe Chatrier court
"It's happened the second time on his birthday. Funnily enough, he said it the first time when we were playing the first round. He said, 'Oh, last time I won on my birthday in Paris. I won my first slam'," she explained.
"So he said, 'Maybe it's destiny'. We were still in the first round. We kept winning and we didn't want to jinx it, so we didn't mention it again."
Gonzalez and Jans-Ignacik had prevented the final becoming a virtually all-Indian affair when they defeated Leander Paes and his Russian partner Elena Vesnina in the semi-finals.
LAHORE: Pakistan Cricket Board here on Wednesday announced the Pak U-9 team and management for the ACC U19 Asia Cup in Malaysia being played from June 21 to Juky first.
Batsman Babar Azam leads the 16-member side whose other members are Sami Aslam,Imam ul Haq, Umar Waheed, Azizullah,Mir Hamza, Ehsan Adil, Salman Afridi (WK), Mohammad Nawaz, Syed Faraz Ali, Akhtar Waheed Kiyani, Mohammad Zia ul Haq, Shahid Ilyas, Shahid Qadir,Syed Saad Ali and Jaahid Shoukat Ali.
Team Management:Haroon Rasheed team Manager, Sabih Azhar coach, Dr Sohail Saleem, Doctor/Physiotherapost, Yasir Malik ,trainer, Usman Hashmi,Analyst.
LOS ANGELES: "Snow White and the Huntsman" was the fairest of them all at the North American box office over the weekend with a $56.3 million debut, industry estimates showed Sunday.
The film starring Charlize Theron and Kristen Stewart of "Twilight" fame, which offers a new twist on the classic fairy tale, knocked the sci-fi comedy sequel "Men in Black 3" off the top of the charts.
The reunion of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as secret agents battling aliens living on Earth, which topped the box office charts last weekend, took second place with $29.3 million, according to Exhibitor Relations.
"Men in Black 3" has total takings of $112.3 million so far.
In third place was comic book superhero blockbuster "The Avengers," pocketing $20.3 million. It has so far taken in $552.7 million in North America.
The film has become the highest-grossing movie in Walt Disney Studios' history with global earnings so far of almost $1.4 billion, the third-highest total of all time.
"The Avengers" maintained its lead over the big-budget but critically panned "Battleship," which dropped to the number four spot in its third weekend with $4.8 million in box office receipts.
In fifth was comedian Sacha Baron Cohen's "The Dictator," at $4.7 million.
"The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," a comedic drama about British retirees in India, took in $4.6 million for sixth place.
Keeping its seventh place was romantic comedy "What to Expect When You're Expecting," about five interconnected couples sharing the experience of having a baby, with $4.4 million.
Next was Tim Burton's "Dark Shadows" reboot starring Johnny Depp, in eighth place with $3.9 million.
Ninth place went to horror flick "Chernobyl Diaries." The tale of a group of tourists taking a disastrous tour of the ghost town of Pripyat in Ukraine, abandoned after the 1980s nuclear disaster, made $3 million.
Rounding out the top 10 was "For Greater Glory," a chronicle of the Cristero War of 1926-29, an uprising against the Mexican government also known as the Cristiada. It took in $1.8 million on its debut weekend.
Final figures were due out on Monday.
MIANWALI: Well-known folk singer Attaullah Esa Khelvi performed at a musical night, organised for the employees of Pakistan Air Force on the occasion of Youm e Taqbeer in Mianwali.
A large number of PAF staff along with their families attended the show.
NEW YORK: Sweet drinks have been linked to a slightly higher risk of developing high blood pressure, but a US study finds that fruit sugar may not be the culprit as found in earlier research.
Researchers followed more than 200,000 men and women for up to 38 years and found that regularly consuming sweetened drinks, either containing sugars or artificially sweetened, was associated with a rise of about 13 percent in the risk of developing high blood pressure.
Carbonated and cola drinks were most strongly linked to a risk for hypertension, but fruit sugar, or fructose, in drinks did not stand out as a driving factor, the group reported in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
"We don't know what causes the increased risk in artificial-or sugar-sweetened beverages," said Lisa Cohen, lead author of the study and a researcher at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
"It's hard to say that from the fructose itself you're increasing your hypertension risk."
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg last week proposed a ban on large-size sugary sodas, the latest in a string of public health initiatives that include a campaign to cut salt in restaurant meals and packaged foods.
Earlier studies had implicated fructose as a factor related to a risk of high blood pressure, but Cohen noted that those have only taken a snapshot in time and could not determine which came first, the high blood pressure or taste for sweet drinks.
Cohen and her colleagues looked at data from three massive studies, including nearly 224,000 healthcare workers, whose diet and health were tracked for 16 to 38 years. No participants had diagnosed high blood pressure at the start of the study.
Over time, those who drank at least one sugar-sweetened beverage a day had a 13 percent increased risk of developing hypertension relative to those who only had a sweet drink once a month or less.
Similarly, people who drank at least one artificially-sweetened drink a day had a 14 percent increased risk of developing hypertension relative to those who had few or none.
To see if it was the fructose that was responsible, researchers also looked at people who had high levels of fructose in their diets from other sources, such as fruits.
Among people who consumed 15 percent of their calories from fructose sources other than drinks, the risk of developing hypertension was either lower or the same as people who ate very little fructose.
"You would think if fructose were the causative factor, then eating a lot of apples (for example) would also increase your risk of hypertension," Cohen told Reuters Health.
The "markedly" stronger link between carbonated sweet drinks and increased hypertension risk might be explained by the larger serving sizes associated with sodas, or some other unknown ingredient common to all of them, the researchers said - but further research is needed. (Reuters)
PARIS: The meteoric rise of a natural, healthy alternative to sugar - a holy grail for the food industry - might just be a little too good to be true.
In two years stevia, a plant used for centuries by Paraguay' s G uarani Indians, has shot to prominence in products by Coca-Cola, Danone and Merisant.
Encouraged by distrust of artificial sweeteners and demand for natural products, they have turned to extract of stevia, which is up to 300 times sweeter than traditional beet or cane sugar.
The problems are the aftertaste, the cost, and possible hurdles in defining it as natural in some European Union markets.
Initial sales and projections are impressive but the plant's extracts have a strong aftertaste, often compared to liquorice, and are far more expensive than artificial sweeteners including aspartame, saccharin and sucralose.
To ease stevia's taste products like French sugar maker Tereos' Beghin-Say and Coca-Cola's Fanta Still - trialed with stevia - still include sugar in their recipe
Tereos PureCircle said that out of the 604 new products containing extracts of stevia launched worldwide in 2010 - up from 373 in 2009 - 60 percent still contained sugar.
Poor consumer feedback also led dairy giant Danone to work on a new recipe for its stevia yoghurts marketed under its leading low-calorie brand Taillefine in 2010.
"We are trying to find solutions to erase this liquorice taste but it's not easy," Marilise Marcantonio, communication director for Danone Fresh Products, said. "Consumers are looking for natural products - but not at any price."
Some scientists also note that a technique to extract Rebania-A, derived from stevia leaves, through ethanol, rather than water, to obtain purer and sweeter products could mean stevia may not be able to be marketed as "natural" in some EU countries, undermining the current marketing strategy.
"They are advertising stevia as a miracle," marketing consultant Sam Waterfall said. "If consumers begin to feel they are misled, this could be a real disaster."
KEY FRENCH MARKET
France is keenly watched as a testing ground for Europe, having cleared stevia-based products in late 2009. New checks and administrative hurdles delayed its approval at EU level until November 2011.
Stevia has been used for decades in Japan and has spread in the United States since 2008, where sales rose over 60 percent in 2011.
Since early 2010 its extracts have been used in France in low-calorie products ranging from soft drinks to yoghurts, jam and tabletop sweeteners, with some products recording triple-digit rises in sales last year.
"It's a revolution. In two years an ingredient has been able to turn the sweetener market upside down," said Olivier Badinand, marketing director for Europe of Merisant, maker of Canderel, leader in France's tabletop sweeteners market.
Stevia's market share among high-intensive sweeteners is still less than 1 percent but growth rates are impressive. Volumes jumped over 50 percent in France last year, and are expected to more than double in 2012 and quadruple by 2014.
"We are in a market that is really taking off," said Michel Laborde, head of sales and marketing at France's largest sugar maker, growers-owned Tereos, which has stepped into the stevia market through a joint venture with the world's leader PureCircle.
Paris will host on Thursday the World Stevia Organisation's fourth conference, gathering academics, industrials and sellers.
Despite taste and cost misgivings, the surge in sales to date, EU clearance and growing demand for low-sugar products correlated with a rise in obesity, has prompted food giants to launch new products.
Coca-Cola's flagship drinks Sprite and Nestea's recipes have been modified to include stevia in a bid to cut the sugar level by up to 30 percent and will soon be available in French stores, Claire Meunier, nutrition manager at Coca-Cola France said.
The world's main producers of compounds from stevia's leaves like Rebaudioside A (Reb A) are Malaysia's PureCircle and U.S. agrigiant Cargill.
Tereos PureCircle Solutions, created in late 2010, sells stevia-based sugar products to food and drink makers in several EU countries including Belgium, Italy and Spain.
Tereos also replaced aspartame with stevia in some of its low-calorie tabletop sugar Beghin-Say Ligne and sales trebled in the year to March, Laborde said, adding that the firm was in the process of launching a stevia powder sugar in France.
"The French market was absolutely key. In light of the success, we had a model to apply, time to look at the results and adapt our strategy to other countries," Merisant's Badinand said. The firm has now deployed stevia in around 20 EU states.
Merisant sells a stevia version of its flagship product Canderel and created a separate brand, PureVia, whose products - powder and cubes - look like sugar but contain none.
PureVia sales grew by 81 percent and Canderel Stevia by 115 percent in the year to end-February to a total of 14.7 million euros and Merisant targets 20 million in 2012, Badinand said. (Reuters)
GEO Amazing and Interesting
TOKYO: A Japanese man astonished the people by eating 32 boiled eggs in one minute.
The 33-years old Takeru Kobayashi also holds the world record for hot dog eating for six years.
NEW DELHI: At least 430 people, mainly children, have died from an outbreak of encephalitis in a deeply neglected region of the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, officials said on Saturday.
K.P. Kushwaha, chief paediatrician at the BRD Medical College in the state's hardest-hit Gorakhpur district, said it was one of the worst outbreaks of encephalitis in the impoverished region, which borders Nepal.
"The situation is grim and the epidemic is worse than previous years and with so many patients there are no empty beds at the hospital," Khuswaha said.
"We count such cases since January but most of these casualties have occurred since July."
He said more than 2,400 patients have been admitted to government hospitals in the region so far this year of which at least 430 have died.
"Until Saturday, 336 children and 94 adults have died," Kushwaha told from the overcrowded hospital where patients were lying two to a bed.
He said 262 patients were undergoing treatment in the state-run facility.
"Everyday between 30 and 40 patients are being brought in for treatment," he said.
Some 215 people, a majority of them children, succumbed to encephalitis in Gorakhpur last year while the death toll from the disease in 2005 was more than 1,400 in Uttar Pradesh.
Eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh are ravaged by encephalitis each year as malnourished children succumb to the virus, officials say.
Encephalitis causes brain inflammation and can result in brain damage. Symptoms include headaches, seizures and fever.
Health experts say 70 million children nationwide are at risk of encephalitis.
Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, has been struggling for years with an encephalitis prevention programme, vaccinating millions of children against the virus. (AFP)