Geo News 13th June 2012 - Latest Geo updates 13th June 2012 Live
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ISLAMABAD: Holding the Holy Qura'n in his hand, real estate tycoon Malik Raiz Tuesday opened a Pandora's Box by quizzing Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on three counts during a press conference here.
"Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry should reveal how many meetings have held between him and CJ in the darkness of night? Was Arsalan Iftikhar not a part of these meetings, does he not know me? The sitting Registrar was also present during several of these meetings."
Secondly, he asked: "How many meetings were held at the residence of Ahmed Khalil between the Chief Justice and Prime Minister and was there not an acting judge of the Supreme Court present during one of the meetings?"
"How long did the Chief Justice know about this case and why did he wait till media reports to take suo moto notice," Malik Riaz posed the third question.
Malik Riaz alleged that he was blackmailed and did not pay any bribes. He described Arsalan Iftikhar, son of the Chief Justice, as ‘don’, adding he was the one running the judiciary.
However, Malik Riaz clarified that he had not accused the Chief Justice of anything and respected him.
When asked of repercussions which may arise following such a news conference, Malik Riaz replied that he did not care if he was charged with contempt or sent to prison.
"The Supreme Court would be responsible if our project was made to sink," he claimed.
Recalling the days of his past, he said he used to be a poor man who had to walk on foot for as many as 8 kilometres as he had no money. "I did not even have enough cash for medical treatment of my daughter," he added.
He said whatever he owned today was bestowed to him by the grace of Allah, adding 75 percent of his assets were being used for welfare work.
"I have been blackmailed, and like me many other businessmen were blackmailed too," he made a grave accusation, adding, that he had always supported the Chief Justice in his columns. "But, Arsalan Iftikhar is a don," he added.
Malik Riaz said today he went to the Supreme Court not for buying justice but to present the facts.
At the end, he said he would hold one more press conference next week and reveal further details.
SC Registrar's reaction:
In reaction to the allegations leveled by Malik Riaz, the Supreme Court Registrar Faqir Hussain said that the real estate tycoon had met with Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry during the days of latter's deposition.
Speaking to Geo News, Faqir Hussain said that two to three such meetings had taken place during which he too was present. The Chief Justice held no meetings with Malik Riaz after his restoration, he clarified.
Aitzaz Ahsan's reaction:
Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan has confirmed that he had informed the Chief Justice about the rumours doing the rounds about Dr Arsalan Iftikhar’s dubious business transactions with Malik Riaz Hussain.
While talking to Geo News after a blistering press conference of real estate tycoon Malik Riaz, he said he had told the CJ about the sensitivity of the matter but did not show any documents to him in this regard.
The allegations are of serious nature, Aitzaz said, adding that he did not follow up with the chief justice on the issue afterward.
KARACHI: Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief, Altaf Hussain has expressed grief and sorrow over the killing of Syed Qarar Ali and injuring of Syed Zakir Ali, brothers of former MPA and member of the MQM Election Cell, Syed Shakir Ali.
In a statement issued by MQM here on Tuesday, Altaf Hussain offered his condolences to the bereaved family members and said that the blood of the MQM workers, sympathizers and general public would not be allowed to go to waste.
He asked the grieving family members to bear with patience and said that their grief was felt by him and the workers of the MQM equally.
He prayed Almighty Allah to bless the departed soul and descend serenity on the family members.
He also prayed for the early recovery of the injured Syed Zakir Ali. (APP)
MAZAR-I-SHARIF: More than 70 people are feared dead after a double earthquake triggered a landslide that buried homes in northern Afghanistan, a senior official said on Tuesday.
A day after the earthquakes, between 50 and 70 people are thought to be trapped in Burka district, the worst-hit area in the province of Baghlan, authorities say.
“They might be dead as there is a lot of soil and removing this is very, very hard,” said provincial governor Munishi Abdul Majeed.
“We have sent excavators to the area but I don’t think they will be able to do much.”
Rescuers are struggling to free those trapped and more teams have been sent from Kabul to the disaster-hit village of Mullah Jan, Mohammad Nasir Kohzad, the head of the local natural disaster response team, told AFP.
Six people have been rescued with injuries, he added. Officials have so far confirmed that only three bodies have been recovered.
Baghlan Police chief Assadullah Shirzad said two bulldozers were working to clear rubble at the village, much of which has been destroyed, and around 100 security forces were helping the search.
Two shallow quakes hit the region in the Hindu Kush mountains within half an hour on Monday, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS).
The first, with a magnitude of 5.4, struck at 9:32 am at a depth of 15 kilometres with the epicentre around 160 kilometres southwest of the town of Faizabad.
A more powerful tremor, measured at 5.7 magnitude, hit around 25 minutes later in almost exactly the same place, USGS said.
Buildings were felt shaking slightly in Kabul, around 170 kilometres to the south, during both quakes. Northern Afghanistan and Pakistan are frequently hit by earthquakes, especially around the Hindu Kush range, which lies near the collision of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.
BEIRUT: Syrian forces pounded a neighbourhood of the eastern city of Deir Ezzor with mortar fire on Tuesday, killing 10 civilians including a young girl, a monitoring group said.
The attack, which targeted the city's Al-Jbaible neighbourhood, came a day after 12 people, including three children, were killed in a car bomb blast in Deir Ezzor's Al-Joura neighbourhood, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Activists in Deir Ezzor said the car used in Monday's bombing belonged to a man who was detained several months ago by military intelligence, adding that the vehicle had been confiscated by authorities, and that the explosion was "the regime's doing."
The allegations could not immediately be verified due to severe restrictions on the media in Syria.
Thousands of people gathered in Deir Ezzor on Monday night to protest the blast, chanting slogans against President Bashar al-Assad such as "Traitor, traitor, O Bashar," the activists said.
Regime forces also on Tuesday shelled the town of Hreitan in the northern province of Aleppo, the Britain-based Observatory said, adding that regular soldiers clashed with armed rebels at the entrance to the town, leading to "heavy losses among regime troops." The shelling "destroyed a large number of houses ... and forced residents to flee," said the Local Coordination Committees, which spearheads protests against the regime.
Tuesday's violence came as Syria's main opposition bloc accused the regime of escalating attacks across the country in an attempt to wipe out the anti-regime rebellion.
SAN FRANCISCO: Apple unveiled its own mapping program Monday for its iPhone and iPad devices, moving onto turf already occupied by Google in the popular software application.
Apple's new iOS 6 operating system includes "an entire new mapping solution from the ground up and it is beautiful," Apple's Scott Forstall told the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.
"We are doing all the cartography ourselves. We are covering the world," Forstall said.
Apple has "ingested hundreds of millions of business listings around the world," he added, saying it has integrated with the consumer review service Yelp for reviews and ratings.
The Apple maps program will include real-time traffic patterns updated with help from users "to keep traffic info fresh and up to date," he added.
The move means Apple, which is in a battle against devices powered by Google's Android operating system, will no longer rely on the Google program for its main maps application.
Although the maps application does not generate revenues directly, it often links to searches for products and services such as restaurants or businesses.
Analysts say the Apple maps program could over time move iPhone and iPad users away from Google search and reduce revenues for the search giant.
Apple said its iOS 6 will be in devices shipped in the coming months which also include the Siri personal assistant that performs many of the search functions of Google. "Siri has been out only eight months," Forstall said.
"In these eight months Siri has been studying up and learning a lot more."
KARACHI: The coalition government of Sindh unveiled the province's annual budget for 2012-13 envisaging a total outlay of Rs578 billion here at Sindh Assembly on Monday.
Provincial Minister for Finance, Syed Murad Ali presented the budget at a special session of the Sindh Assembly chaired by Speaker Nisar Khuhro.
The provincial budget sets the target for its total revenue receipts at Rs570 billion while Rs231 billion have been set aside for the development programme.
The Minister said that Group Life Insurance for the government servants has been doubled, adding as many as 20,000 employments will be provided to the citizens of the province in the next fiscal.
An allocation of Rs117 billion has been made for education sector.
Murad Ali Shah claimed that the present government had spent Rs644 billion on development expenditure during the last 5 years while rehabilitation of flood-stricken areas was carried out at an accelerated pace.
He said the deficit for the outgoing fiscal was recorded at Rs7 billion, adding provision of uplift funds was mainly responsible for the same.
The provincial Financial Minister believed that building of Zulfiqarabad will boost Sindh's progress and the government wished that Chinese companies set up their businesses in the proposed area.
He said the Sindh Bank had so far issued more than Rs430 million loans to 2,000 growers of the province. The Bank also provided assistance of Rs5 billion for wheat procurement.
MOSCOW: Newly-crowned French Open champion Maria Sharapova will be Russia's flag-bearer at the opening of next month's London Olympics, Russia's tennis federation chief Shamil Tarpishchev said Tuesday.
"We reached an agreement about it just after the French Open final," said Tarpishchev, who is also a member of Russia's National Olympic Committee.
"As far as I know Roger Federer will be Switzerland's flag-bearer and Rafael Nadal will be Spain's. It's very pleasant that the popularity of tennis is growing around the word."
Sharapova won the French Open title on Saturday with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Italy's Sara Errani to seal a rare career Grand Slam -- winning the four biggest tournaments in the sport.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev both sent congratulatory telegrams to the Florida-based tennis star while the country's tennis chiefs expressed hope that she would now go for gold at the London Games.
Russian tennis fans have always been unstinting in their support of Sharapova, known affectionately by her short name "Masha", even though she is resident in the United States and only rarely comes home.
Sharapova has also made clear her loyalty to her home nation, competing in the Fed Cup and almost always wearing a necklace with the cross of the Russian Orthodox Church when she plays. (AFP)
BRUSSELS: Pakistan will commence their European tour today with a match against Belgium which will at 7 PM Pakistan time here.
Three senior players, former captain Mohammad Imran, Shakeel Abbasi and Mohammad Wasim included in the squad due to the disappointing performance of the team in the Azlan Shah Hockey Tournament in Malaysia could not accompany the team as they could not obtain a visa.
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)