16 injured in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa handgrenade attack

Islamabad, Aug. 19 (ANI): An unidentified miscreant on Thursday lobbed a hand grenade in a crowded oil bazaar of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province’ Bannu region injuring at least 16 persons.

According to reports, the attacker targeted a shop with the hand grenade resulting in a blast, which injured several persons, some of them seriously.

All the injured have been shifted to the district headquarters hospital, Xinhua reports.

Security officials cordoned off the area following the attack, but no suspects were nabbed till reports last came in.

No extremist group has claimed the responsibility for the attack. (ANI)

New satellite images reveal how world”s mangrove forests have declined

Washington, Aug 19 (ANI): Scientists have got the most comprehensive and exact data on the distribution and decline of mangrove forests from across the world, all thanks to new satellite imagery.

The research, carried out by scientists from the U.S Geological Survey and NASA, and reveals forest distribution is 12.3 percent smaller than earlier estimates.

Mangrove forests are among the most productive and biologically important ecosystems of the world, including trees, palms and shrubs which grow at tropical and subtropical tidal zones across the equator.

Now scientists can use the world”s most definitive map of the Earth”s mangrove forest to reveal that approximately 53,190 square miles (137, 760 km2) of mangroves exist, substantially less than previous estimates.

“Our assessment shows, for the first time, the exact extent and distribution of mangrove forests of the world at 30 meters spatial resolution, the highest resolution ever,” said Dr Chandra Giri from USGS.

“This reveals that 75 percent of the remaining forest is found in just 15 countries, out of which only around 6.9 percent is protected under the existing protected areas network,” added Giri.

Mangrove forests have adapted to the most severe environmental conditions thriving in regions of high salinity, scorching temperatures and extreme tides across the equator.

However, increasingly human activity and frequent severe storms have taken their toll, resulting in a loss rate for mangrove forests higher than the loss of inland tropical forests and coral reefs.

“The current estimate of mangrove forests of the world is less than half what it once was, and much of that is in a degraded condition. It is believed that 35% of mangrove forests were lost from 1980 to 2000 which has had an impact on the coastal communities that use mangrove forests as a protective barrier from natural disasters such as hurricanes and tsunamis,” said Giri.

Using data from the NASA satellite Giri and an international team, including 30 student interns and visiting scientists from across the world, analysed more than 1,000 ”Landsat” scenes using digital image classification techniques.

This enormous task allowed the team to slowly piece together the world”s most accurate map of mangrove distribution.

This work represents the most comprehensive global database of mangrove forests ever created and has revealed that the world”s remaining mangrove forests are spread across 118 countries and territories.

Asia has 42 percent of the world”s mangroves, followed by 21 percent in Africa, 15 percent in North and Central America, 12 percent in Oceania and 11 percent in South America.

“The mapping of mangrove forests at this resolution, on a global scale, has never been attempted, partly due to cost and computation limitations,” concluded Dr Garik Gutman, from the NASA Land Cover/Land-Use Change Program, which funded the project.

“The Global Land Survey data produced by NASA and USGS has enabled worldwide land cover projects like this, because pre-processing global coverage of Landsat data at project levels is a gigantic task,” added Gutman.

The study is published in Global Ecology and Biogeography. (ANI)

Muslims have been routinely praying near 9/11 attack site in the Pentagon

Washington, Aug 19(ANI): The proposal to build a mosque near 9/11 ground zero in New York may have created outrage across the United States, but it has now come to light that Muslims have been routinely praying in the Pentagon soon after the 9/11 attack in Washington.

The Pentagon Chaplain is part of a section in the building that was rebuilt by the US Defense Department after American Airlines flight 77 crashed into it on September 11, 2001.

The chapel is open to all faiths and reserves time for Muslim prayer every Monday through Thursday at 2 p.m, and on Friday an Imam leads a prayer service.

On Tuesday, the Pentagon Chaplain’s also office hosted an Iftar dinner at the Pentagon conference center in recognition of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Fox News reports.

However, it confirmed that the chapel is not a Mosque, and pointed out that it caters mainly to Christians and the Holy Bible can be found behind every pew.

The US Army, which runs the office of the Pentagon Chaplain, said that roughly 400 people from all faiths use the chapel regularly.

“The worshippers include people from the Catholic, Jewish, Episcopalian, Hindu, Mormon and Muslim faiths,” Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel George Wright said.

Though the chapel is located about 20 steps from the center of the impact site, the Army said that they have not received any complaints about the Muslims prayers.

The section also has a memorial dedicated to the memory of the 184 people who were killed in the incident. (ANI)

Madani arrested :Abdul Nasser Madani arrested For 2008 Bangalore blasts Videos News

Kollam, Kerala: Ending the eight-day long suspense, Kerala PDP leader Abdul Nasser Madani was today arrested amid high drama by the Karnataka Police in connection with the 2008 Bangalore blast case.

Madani was taken to Thiruvananthapuram en route to Bangalore by air so that he could be produced before the Metropolitan Magistrate this evening.

There was high drama outside Madani’s residence as a large crowd of teary-eyed supporters gathered to bid their leader an emotional farewell.

Madani left his residence shortly after mid-day prayers to surrender before a local magistrate court. But as soon as emerged from his orphanage-cum-madrassa complex at Anwarassery, a heavy contingent of Kerala police in riot gear stalled the vehicle to allow Karnataka officials to arrest him.Bangalore Deputy Commissioner of Police Omkarayya executed the warrant against Madani with the support of Kerala police. The arrest took place without any law and order problems except some slogan shouting by supporters hailing their leader.

Addressing the media earlier in the day, Madani said he was being falsely implicated in the case as part of a deep-rooted conspiracy.

“When I read about warrant in papers, I spoke to my lawyers. This is a conspiracy against me. I approached the court for bail as it is the right of every citizen,” said Madani.

Appealing for calm, Madani asked party workers to protest through democratic means.

“I don’t believe I can return alive from Karnataka. I may be implicated in many other terror cases. I am suffering from a host of diseases but will surrender. If they arrest me in between, let them do,” he said.

Madani was listed as the 31st accused in an additional chargesheet filed by the police last month after confessions by suspected Lashkar-e-Toiba operative T Nazir linking him to the Bangalore blasts that left one person dead and 20 others injured.

A team of the Bangalore Police reached the Magistrate Court near Madani’s residence on Tuesday even as the PDP leader’s supporters said his health had worsened and he will not be able to travel to Bangalore.

The Bangalore police had been in Kerala waiting to arrest Madani in the 2008 Bangalore blasts case ever since a Karnataka court denied him bail.

Madani has been charged in the past for inflammatory speeches and is also believed to have links with the Laskhar e Toiba. (With PTI inputs)

Colombia plane crash Miracle: Woman dies, 130 live

BOGOTA, Colombia – A Boeing 737 jetliner filled with vacationers crashed in a thunderstorm and broke apart as it slid onto the runway on a Caribbean island Monday. Only one of the 131 people on board died, and the island’s governor called it a miracle.

The plane hit short of the runway on Colombia’s San Andres Island and skidded on its belly as the fuselage fractured and bits of landing gear and at least one engine were ripped off. The jet wound up on one end of the runway, crumpled and in pieces, as passengers scrambled or were helped to safety.

Of the 125 passengers and six crew members aboard the Aires airline jet, the only one killed was a 68-year-old woman, Amar Fernandez de Barreto, said San Andres Gov. Pedro Gallardo.

“It was a miracle and we have to give thanks to God,” Gallardo said.

Officials were investigating a range of possible causes and looking into reports that Aires Flight 8520 was hit by lightning before the crash on the resort island, Colombian air force Col. David Barrero said.

“You can’t speculate. Lightning? A gust of wind? The investigation will say,” Barrero said by telephone from San Andres. “The pilot’s skill kept the plane from colliding with the airport.”

Officials said 119 people were treated or checked at clinics and five of them were seriously injured.

The airline said at least five U.S. citizens were on the plane, while the U.S. Embassy in Colombia said that four Americans and one U.S. permanent resident suffered injuries. The embassy said one critically injured American was being flown to Bogota for care, while the others were treated and released.

Airline representative Erika Zarante said four Brazilians, two Germans, two Costa Ricans and two French citizens also were on the plane.
The accident occurred so suddenly that the pilot did not report an emergency to the control tower, said Col. Donald Tascon, deputy director of the civil aeronautics agency. He said the plane’s low altitude as it prepared to land — perhaps 100 feet (30 meters) just before the crash — may have averted worse damage.

Passenger Ricardo Ramirez, a vacationing civil engineer, told Caracol Radio that all had seemed normal, even though the plane was flying through a storm, with flashes of lightning, as it neared the airport.

“The plane was coming in perfectly. We were just about to land, everything was under control,” he said. The accident “appeared out of nowhere.”

After the plane hit and skidded to a stop on the pavement, Ramirez said he struggled to free himself and his wife from their seat belts.

“We tried to get out of the plane because the plane was starting to shoot flames,” he said. “In a few minutes, a police patrol arrived and helped us.”

Survival was “a miracle of God. Thanks to God we are alive,” Ramirez said, though his wife suffered a dislocated shoulder.

Firefighters quickly doused the beginnings of a fire on a wing, police Gen. Orlando Paez said. A group of police officers who were waiting at the airport for the plane to fly them back to the mainland aided in rescuing victims.

The jet crashed at 1:49 a.m. on the island, a resort area of 78,000 people about 120 miles (190 kilometers) east of the Nicaraguan coast.

Ninety-nine passengers were taken to Amor de Patria Hospital on San Andres, said Dr. Robert Sanchez, the hospital director. “It’s incredible. For the dimension (of the accident), there should be more,” he said.

Sanchez said an initial examination indicated that the single fatality may have been caused by a heart attack.

Twenty other passengers were treated at another clinic, according to the national civil aviation agency.

Among the seriously injured was a 12-year-old girl who suffered a broken pelvis, Gallardo said.

A 1 1/2-year-old boy among the passengers wasn’t listed among those with serious injuries.

Dr. Ricardo Villarreal, director of the clinic of the same name, said the pilot suffered some cuts to his face and was under observation. He identified him as Wilson Gutierrez.

The airline, Aerovias de Integracion Regional SA, said it has about 20 planes, including 10 Boeing 737-700 jets. It said in a Twitter posting that it was “working and investigating with the aeronautical authorities to determine the causes.”

Barrero said scattered pieces of the plane blocked part of the 7,800-foot (2,380-meter) runway. But enough was usable that air ambulances would be able to land, he said.

Boeing said the 737-700 jet left the factory in 2003. It was not clear whether Aires was the first operator.

Aviation experts said it was too early in the investigation to speculate about what caused the accident.

At this stage in the probe, “you don’t exclude any possibility, but investigators will be looking closely at the weather,” said William Voss, president and CEO of the Flight Safety Foundation, based in Alexandria, Virginia.

Voss said a “sudden shift in wind direction can cause the aircraft to suddenly lose a lot of lift and end up landing short of the runway.”

He and other experts say there can be hazards due to wind shear, violent shifts in wind direction and speed that can develop, especially beneath a thunderstorm.

Tascon said San Adnres’ airport is not equipped with sophisticated equipment such as Doppler radar — which is used in many U.S. airports to help detect wind shear.

Larry Cornman, a physicist and expert on wind shear and turbulence at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, said he doubted lightning alone would be enough to bring down an aircraft. He said a strike would have to be powerful enough to pierce the aircraft skin and would have to hit a very specific location, such as going through a wing and into a vapor-filled fuel tank.

Planes are designed to be protected from lightning, and because of their shape and metallic construction, lightning usually dissipates around aircraft rather than causing severe damage, Cornman said.

“You certainly don’t expect to see catastrophic damage to an aircraft due to lightning,” Voss said.

Guam earthquake : 7.2-magnitude quake hits Guam News Photos

WASHINGTON, Aug. 13 (Xinhua) — A major 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck southwest of U.S. territory Guam on Saturday local time, the United States Geological Survey reported on its website.

The quake occurred at 7:19 a.m. on Saturday local time (2119 GMT on Friday), 375 km (230 miles) southwest of Hagatna (formerly Agana), capital of Guam, at a depth of 4.7 km (2.9 miles), the USGS said.

The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said that, based on historical earthquake and tsunami data, no destructive widespread tsunami threat exists.

“However, earthquakes of this size sometimes generate local tsunamis that can be destructive along coasts within 100 km of the earthquake epicenter. Authorities in the region of the epicenter should be aware of this possibility and take appropriate action,” the center said.

Guam is an island in the western Pacific Ocean and the largest and southernmost of the Mariana Islands. It is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States and one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government.

American flight crash ,accident killed former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens and four other people on August 11

The American senator, Ted Stevens – who was renowned for directing hundreds of millions of dollars in worthless projects to his home state of Alaska until he was convicted of corruption and thrown out of office – has been killed in a plane crash.

Stevens, who survived a similar crash in Alaska in 1978 that killed his wife, was on a junket to a fishing lodge courtesy of a telecommunications company when the aircraft came down in bad weather in a remote part of the state.

Five of the nine people on board the singled engine plane are believed to have died. Some of the survivors were reported to have struggled with serious injuries through the night until help arrived.

Among the survivors was former head of Nasa and the North American chief executive of the European aerospace firm and defence contractor, EADS, Sean O’Keefe, and his teenage son. Officials said O’Keefe was badly injured and was one of three passengers flown to a hospital in Anchorage.

The plane went down at about 8pm Alaska time on Monday near Lake Aleknagik, about 320 miles southwest of Anchorage. It was spotted by another aircraft but the Alaska air national guard and US coastguard only reached the site 12 hours later as fog and rain had reduced visibility to just a few hundred yards.

Stevens, 86, who served in the Senate for 41 years – longer than any other Republican – was flying to a fishing lodge near Lake Aleknagik. The plane and the lodge are owned by an Alaskan telecommunications firm, GCI.

Stevens and O’Keefe were close friends who were described as “fishing buddies”.

The former senator was renowned in Alaska for his ability to direct hundreds of millions of dollars in federal government funds to the oil-rich state with a small population. He was affectionately known as Uncle Ted and in 2000 was named “Alaskan of the Century” by the state legislature. The state’s main airport, in Anchorage, was named after Stevens.

One of his projects became known as the “Bridge to Nowhere” after it was revealed he had ensured Congress directed $450m for the construction of a bridge in Ketchikan that was of little discernible use other than to link a small island of about 50 people to the mainland.

Alaska’s governor, Sean Parnell, yesterday paid homage to Stevens.

“Though small of stature, Ted Stevens seemed larger than life, and anybody who knew him, knew him that way, for he built for Alaska and he stood for Alaska and he fought for Alaskans,” he said.

Barack Obama said Stevens, who won several medals as a pilot in the Far East during the second world war, “devoted his career to serving the people of Alaska and fighting for our men and women in uniform”.

But Alaskan voters began to see Stevens in a different light after he was charged with accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts – including remodelling work on his home that doubled its size – from oil companies and contractors.

He was convicted on seven charges of corruption in 2008. The convictions were overturned a few months later after the US attorney general, Eric Holder, said there was serious misconduct by prosecutors.

But the voters had already delivered their verdict. Eight days after his conviction, Stevens lost his bid for re-election to the Senate.

The authorities also investigated suspicions that Stevens steered millions of dollars in federal funds to a sports fishing group run by a former aide when it was supposed to have gone to the National Park Service.

But yesterday Stevens’ tainted past was largely brushed aside as the former governor of Alaska and fellow Republican, Sarah Palin, recalled him in glowing terms.

“He is a warrior, an Alaskan hero. A world war two vet who dedicated his life to his country. He is one of our heroes up here,” Palin said.

Before the crash that killed his wife, Ann, Stevens is reported to have spoken of a premonition that he would die in a plane crash. Stevens re-married several years later.

Abu Bakar Bashir arrested for alleged involvement in terrorism

His lawyer, Muhammad Ali, said his client was taken in early today, allegedly for involvement with a new militant network in Indonesia’s westernmost province of Aceh.

Police said Bashir, 71, was arrested by the Indonesian police anti-terrorist taskforce Detachment 88 while travelling from Ciamis in West Java, where he had been attending Koran recitals, to his home in Solo.

Taken to police headquarters in Jakarta, Bashir said as he was led into the building: “This is Allah’s blessing; this is America’s fabrication.”

Bashir is accused of involvement in an Islamic militant training camp uncovered by police in Aceh province in February, said counter-terrorism chief at the security ministry, Ansyaad Mbai.

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“He had been involved in terror network in Aceh. As we know, that terror group in Aceh is linked with Jemaah Islamiah and many other extremist groups in our country,” Mbai told Agence France Presse.

“One of the allegations is that he provided funding to the Aceh military training. It’s one of many allegations weighed against him,” he added.

In the aftermath of the discovery of the training camp, police claimed to have killed 13 suspects, including the senior Jemaah Islamiah operative and Bali bomber Dulmatin, and arrested more than 60 others.

Three members of Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid, a group established by Bashir after splitting from the Indonesian Mujahadeen Council two years ago, are already under arrest on suspicion of helping to finance the Aceh operation.

Rumours have circulated for weeks that Bashir, a fiery preacher known for propagating hatred against foreigners, was next on the list.

Bashir has denied he or members of his group are linked to the Aceh group.

On Saturday, police arrested five suspects and seized high-explosive materials in separate anti-terror raids in several areas in West Java province.

The target of the alleged terror plots was not immediately clear, but Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Saturday said police had foiled a terror plot against him as he visited the province.

Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith hailed today’s arrest.

“Australia welcomes the fact that Indonesian police have today arrested Abu Bakar Bashir in connection with possible terrorism-related offences,” Mr Smith said.

Wahyudin, the director of Bashir’s Al Mukmin Islamic boarding school in Solo, told the Jakarta Globe today that the cleric’s wife, Aisyah, might also have been taken into custody.

Bashire’s son, Abdul Rohim, insisted his father, who went to Ciamis for a preaching engagement, was innocent.

“He was heading back to Solo when police arrested him together with my mother,” he said. “We appeal police to treat my parents well. … He is innocent, he was just carrying out his obligations as as Muslim”.

Bashir is best-known as the alleged founder and spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiah, the al-Qa’ida-linked group responsible for the Bali bombings that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.

Bashir, who denies the association and that JI even exists, was jailed in 2005 on a charge of conspiracy in relation to the 2002 outrage but acquitted of charges arising from the Marriott Hotel bombing the following year.

In June 2006 he was released from prison and in December that year the Supreme Court overturned his conviction.

The International Crisis Group last month said it was possible Bashir’s arrest would have little impact on Indonesian extremism.

“He is very much the elder statesman of Indonesia’s radical movement, but he is neither the driving force behind it now nor its leading ideologue,” it said in a report.

But authorities should handle the arrest with care to avoid a backlash, it warned.

“If Bashir is arrested for a third time since the first Bali bombing, the police will be under enormous pressure to produce hard evidence of criminal activities.”

Video of Indonesia arrests radical cleric Bashir from Youtube:

Tejaswini Sawant : Tejaswini Sawant won Gold at World Championships

Tejaswini Sawant on Sunday became the first Indian woman shooter to clinch a gold medal at the World Championship by finishing on top with a world-record equalling score in the 50m Rifle Prone event in Munich, Germany.

Sawant shot a score of 597 (100,100,100,99,99,99), equalling the 1998 record set by Marina Bobkova of Russia.

The 29-year-old Commonwealth Games gold medallist was level with Poland’s Ewa Joanna Nowakowska in the final score but managed to clinch the top honours with a better perfect score tally.

Kazakhstan’s Olga Dovgun settled for the bronze with a score of 596.

About Tejaswini Sawant (from wiki)

Tejaswini Sawant (Marathi: तेजस्विनी सावंत) (born: 12 September 1980) is an Indian shooter from the Maharashtrian city of Kolhapur. In 2006, she won gold medals in Women’s 10m Air Rifle singles and Women’s 10m Air Rifle Pairs (with Avneet Kaur Sidhu) events at the Commonwealth Games at Melbourne. In 2010 she became the World Champion in the 50m Rifle Prone event in Munich, Germany. She was selected to represent India at Commonwealth Games ahead of Asian Games gold medallist Anjali Ved Pathak Bhagwat and world record holder Suma Shirur after winning 5 gold medals, 6 silver medals and 5 bronze medals at the national championships. She has also represented India at the 9th South Asian Sports Federation Games in 2004 in Islamabad where she helped India win gold medal.

Sawant won a bronze medal in 50 metre rifle three positions at the 2009 ISSF World Cup in Munich. On 8 August 2010, she became the first Indian woman shooter to win a gold medal at the World Championships with a world-record equalling score in the 50m Rifle Prone event in Munich, Germany.

MSC Chitra collides with MV Khalijia-III Mumbai Oil Spill News Photos Videos

A navigational error resulted in the collision of two merchant vessels due to which an oil spill has been reported near Mumbai’s coast on Saturday morning. No loss of life was reported. The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) rescued 33 sailors, but due to the impact of the collision a few containers filled with dry cargo have fallen into the sea.

“At 9.50 am on Saturday, merchant vessel Khalijia III was heading into Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and the Panama-flagged MSC Chitra was leaving the port area when the collision occurred,” said Captain Manohar Nambiar, chief public relations officer, defence, Mumbai. A couple of containers aboard MSC Chitra fell into the sea.
The ICG’s Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC), Mumbai, received information about the incident at around 10 am. The container vessel MSC Chitra was grounded in the vicinity of Prongs Reef lighthouse.
“On receiving word, the regional operational centre of the ICG promptly despatched Indian Coast Guard ship Kamala Devi to render assistance. As of now 33 crew members have been safely evacuated by the Coast Guard ship and tugboat Vamsee-III. No casualty has been reported,” added Capt. Nambiar. Later on Saturday, ICG ship Sangram was sent with control response equipment.
“However, there is an oil spill in the area and the Coast Guard has sent a helicopter and ship for the necessary pollution control. MSC Chitra has suffered major damage and it is carrying around 2,000 tonnes of fuel,” said a Coast Guard officer. As of Saturday evening, the authorities were unable to assess the extent of the oil spill and damage to marine life. “Mitigation measures to control the oil spill are currently on. Oil needs to be pumped out of the merchant vessel into another barge, but choppy sea conditions are creating a bit of a problem,” added the Coast Guard official.
By late Saturday afternoon, the ships had been stabilised and were not at any risk of sinking. According to the Coast Guard officer, it was clearly a navigational failure. The Director-General of Shipping as well as the port authorities will be conducting an inquiry into the accident. “A proper picture of exactly what went wrong can be ascertained only after a detailed investigation,” said the officer.
MSC Chitra was heading to Mundra from JNPT. On July 18, the Coast Guard’s MRCC, Mumbai, had received a distress call from MV Khalijia-III due to excessive flooding. The vessel had been grounded due to flooding. Thereafter, authorities rendered immediate assistance by sending the tugboat Garware-III and ICG ship Subhadra Kumari Chauhan for rescue operations. All 28 crew members were evacuated.
MV Khalijia-III had come to JNPT from China carrying 30,000 tonnes of steel coils. It was berthed for repairs at JNPT.

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