Archive for October, 2006

GOOG to $560; Web Traffic Drop; Dirty Politics

October 27, 2006 Leave a comment

Blogs went nuts this week over Google’s new personalized search engine, which Monkey Bites explains in detail. It makes it easy for anyone to create a search engine for all their favorite topics without a Ph.D., with Search Engine Journal noting that bloggers can also earn revenue through AdSense. You can even allow others to add to or edit your search engine, blogs Mark Cutts. The days of Rollyo and Swicki may be numbered, blogs Mathew Ingram, just like Kiko’s were when Google released a Web-based calendar.

 Google also made a small but important change to Google News so that blog and archive search are now neighbors-bringing Google one step closer to integrating news and blog searches, writes Micro Persuasion. Meanwhile, blogs that advertisers can now choose sites they want their AdSense ads on, a potentially deep cut in ad-agency revenue since more advertisers may take ad planning and buying in-house. With Internet ad growth now far outpacing all other forms of advertising, it’s no wonder GOOG shares just hit an all-time high (via A VC) and Jim Cramer has Google going to $560. Hold the hosannas, though: A somewhat biased Venture Beat blogs that the YouTube buy marks the end of the Google Myth because Mountain View finally looked outside its famously loose engineering culture for a good business.

 September Web traffic dropped significantly for MySpace (4%), Facebook (12%) and YouTube (19%), possibly because the kidz are back in school, writes Bloggers Blog. Maybe their textbooks will become a little less expensive if Jimmy Wales has his way; the Wikipedia founder has asked for ideas on how to spend $100 million to free copyrighted works. VentureBlog reports on Chris Anderson’s post-Long Tail theory: The Economy of Abundance, where the costs of transistors, storage and bandwidth approach zero and companies should try to do everything, dropping what doesn’t work. Or they can start completely virtual branch offices in Second Life, like marketing firm Crayon is doing this week (via VentureBeat).

 In politics, it turns out President Bush likes using “the Google” to browse satellite photos of his Texas ranch (via VentureBeat). DealBreaker asks whether this misplaced “the” is some regional English tic, but everyone agrees the president has dropped “stay the course” in favor of, um, constantly changing tactics to complete the mission (via Huffington Post). Although Army General George W. Casey Jr. may ask for more troops to calm Baghdad, writes The New York Times, he asserts that just five of Iraq’s 18 provinces are really violent. Brendan Nyhan disagrees; it’s like saying the U.S. is calm except for California, D.C., Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.

 Back in the U.S., the GOP is accused of playing the race card (via LA Times). in Tennessee’s Senate race as one of its ads shows a scantily clad white woman winking at the camera and saying “Harold, call me” – a reference to African American Senate candidate Harold E. Ford Jr. (via Tennessee Guerilla Women). Although the ad’s composed of faux man-in-the-street interviews, Talking Points Memo says these are just filler designed to make the ‘Harold does white chicks’ idea seem to fit. Ford responded by crashing Republican opponent Bob Corker’s press conference (via Wonkette). See the video here.

 In the politics of entertainment, Madonna’s adoption of David Banda has hit the rocks since the boy’s father started complaining, writes Jossip, while Popbytes reports on The Material Girl’s Oprah appearance to defend herself. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes have finally set a wedding date-November 18-and place-Italy (via Yahoo News). But if you really need more pictures and speculation about Suri, Celebrity Baby Blog’s got the goods.

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Politics this week: 21st – 27th October 2006

October 26, 2006 Leave a comment

Iraq remained the dominant issue in America’s mid-term elections. With less than two weeks to go before polling day, Democrats hammered home the message that October is already the deadliest month of the year in the conflict both for American troops and Iraqi civilians. George Bush acknowledged his own dissatisfaction but said America was constantly adjusting its strategy and still winning. See article

In Iraq itself, the prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, pledged to crack down on illegal militias, particularly the Shia Mahdi Army, that are responsible for most of the continuing sectarian violence. But he refused to set a timetable for this; Shia parties with links to the militias make up part of his own coalition government.

New Jersey’s highest court issued a mixed ruling on gay marriage. It decided that homosexual couples are entitled to the same rights as heterosexual ones, but it avoided a conservative backlash (for now) by giving the state legislature time to ponder whether this constitutes “marriage”.

The Mark Foley scandal rumbled on as Dennis Hastert, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, presented his version of events to the House ethics committee. The committee’s report on Mr Foley’s relationship with congressional pages is expected soon.

California’s department of corrections provided the first details of its plans to house some prisoners temporarily in other states. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the state’s governor, issued an emergency proclamation earlier this month in response to “severe overcrowding” in prisons.

Iran’s fiery president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel to be “wiped off the map”, threatened that European countries could get “hurt” unless they distanced themselves from the Jewish state. Meanwhile, unfazed by discussion of UN sanctions over its refusal to suspend suspect uranium-enrichment work, Iran said it would inject uranium gas into a second cascade of enrichment machines at its plant at Natanz.

Israel’s coalition government tilted towards the right after the prime minister, Ehud Olmert, was forced to accept the inclusion in its ranks of the right-wing Yisrael Beitenu Party, led by Avigdor Lieberman. The decision is meant to ensure the government’s survival following the war in Lebanon over the summer, widely seen as a disaster. See article

The head of the United Nations mission to Sudan, Jan Pronk, was expelled from the country by the government. His offence was to write in his blog that the Sudanese army has suffered some defeats in Darfur against rebel fighters and that its morale is low.

The capital of Chad, N’Djamena, was fortified following reports that rebels were moving towards it from the east of the country. The government of President Idriss Déby, which survived a rebel assault on the city in April, accuses neighbouring Sudan of arming and backing the rebels.

The prime minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, said that his country was now “technically at war” with the Islamist militias that have taken over much of neighbouring Somalia. Ethiopia has admitted to having hundreds of troops in the country in support of the weak transitional government based in Baidoa. See article

North Korea’s regional neighbours continued their consultations about how to impose sanctions on the country following its nuclear test earlier this month. Pyongyang rattled its sabres and warned South Korea that if it participated in the UN-backed sanctions this would be a “declaration of confrontation”. See article

India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, appointed Pranab Mukherjee as foreign minister. Mr Singh had been doing both jobs since last November, when his then foreign minister resigned over the Iraq oil-for-food scandal.

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin had a stormy few days after an open microphone caught him praising Israel’s president for his virility in multiple alleged rapes. He also had a prickly meeting with European Union leaders in Finland, where they pressed him to liberalise his country’s energy market, and came under pressure over Georgia. In a national phone-in, Mr Putin underlined his anger with Georgia, accusing the authorities there of resolving problems “by force”. See article

Germany’s armed forces are likely to have a more robust role overseas. The government approved a new security doctrine that reaffirmed the Atlantic alliance, but foresaw wider involvement in peacekeeping. Existing rules restrict German troops in Afghanistan from fighting the Taliban. See article


In Hungary, violent clashes between police and demonstrators demanding the government’s resignation marred the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the anti-Soviet 1956 uprising. Police used tear-gas against the protesters and more than 100 were hurt.

Britain announced restrictions on migrants from Romania and Bulgaria, which join the EU next year. The restrictions were criticised by both free-marketeers and protectionists, but only six EU countries have said, so far, that they will fully open their labour markets to the workers. See article

In a referendum 78% of those voting approved a $5.2 billion plan to widen and deepen the Panama Canal. The expansion, due to be completed by 2014, could turn Panama into the logistics hub of the Americas, according to its backers.


Mexico’s Senate rejected a call to sack the governor of the southern state of Oaxaca, which has had its capital disrupted by striking teachers and left-wing protesters for the past five months. The governor’s supporters have called for federal police to evict the protesters.

After dozens of rounds of voting at the United Nations General Assembly for one of the two Latin American rotating seats on the Security Council, Guatemala out-polled Venezuela, but failed to secure the required two-thirds majority. The search began for a compromise candidate.

Bolivia’s government agreed to give jobs in a revived state-owned mining firm to 4,000 self-employed miners involved in clashes over a tin deposit earlier this month in which 16 people were killed and 60 injured.

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Business this week: 21st – 27th October 2006

October 26, 2006 Leave a comment

Business this week

Oct 26th 2006
From The Economist print edition

Jeffrey Skilling, Enron’s former chief executive, was sentenced to more than 24 years in prison and ordered to pay $45m in restitution for his part in the fraud that bankrupted the energy trader in 2001. Mr Skilling was found guilty in May along with Kenneth Lay, but Mr Lay’s convictions were recently “vacated” following his death in July. Enron employees who lost their pensions expressed satisfaction at Mr Skilling’s sentence. He said he was innocent and would appeal against the verdict. See article

The former chief financial officer of Comverse Technology pleaded guilty to fraud in relation to a stock-options scandal. He was the first senior executive to plead guilty in a host of similar scandals that have recently come to light, though other big corporate cheeses have resigned from their jobs. Comverse’s former boss, Jacob “Kobi” Alexander, who fled America, is fighting his extradition from Namibia.

The retrial began of Josef Ackermann, the chief executive of Deutsche Bank, and five others who face criminal charges that stem from the awarding of executive bonuses at Mannesmann. Mr Ackermann was on the company’s supervisory board at the time of its takeover by Vodafone in 2000 (Deutsche Bank is not connected to the trial). There is speculation that Mr Ackermann will plead guilty to non-criminal charges in order to concentrate on running Germany’s biggest bank.

United Biscuits, which makes some of Britain’s best-known snacks, including Jaffa Cakes, Penguin biscuits and Hula Hoops, agreed to be bought by two private-equity firms for some £1.6 billion ($3 billion).

Altria announced that it would reveal its decision on whether (and how) to spin off Kraft Foods at a shareholders’ meeting in January. The conglomerate has long wanted to sell Kraft, but its plans were put on hold after its Philip Morris unit became embroiled in tobacco litigation.

Carl Icahn won his battle to shake up the management of ImClone Systems, a biomedical company, when it appointed him chairman and sacked its interim chief executive. Mr Icahn, who owns around 14% of the company, had led a shareholders’ campaign to oust several directors.

Ford reported its biggest quarterly loss in 14 years—$5.8 billion—as it booked writedowns and charges. The performance of Ford’s North American auto unit, where sales dropped by some 15% compared with a year ago, and its premier-car group, which includes Jaguar, continued to pull down its earnings. Alan Mulally, who was appointed Ford’s chief executive in September, said the results were “unacceptable”.

DaimlerChrysler’s quarterly profit, 37% lower than a year ago, was also hampered by plunging sales in America, offsetting an improved performance at the company’s Mercedes unit. But there was some good news for Detroit when General Motors said a net loss of $115m (compared with $1.66 billion last year) was actually an adjusted profit of $529m if special items, which are related to its restructuring, were excluded.

Some much-needed good news for Airbus. It sealed a deal to set up a plant in China and won an order for 150 A320 jets from the country.

A substantial merger was announced in Australia’s insurance industry as Promina agreed to a A$7.9 billion ($6 billion) takeover proposal from Suncorp-Metway, a rival which also operates banks.

In an unusual move for the company, IBM filed two lawsuits against Amazon claiming the online retailer infringed five patents on internet technology, including processing online transactions. IBM holds more patents than any other American company and usually seeks to resolve licensing disputes out of court.

Meanwhile, Amazon said its quarterly profit had fallen (again). But as sales exceeded forecasts, its share price rose. Investors also cheered Amazon’s statement that it would put a brake on buying new technology that has enabled it to launch services such as film downloads, but dragged down earnings.

Sony’s net profit plunged by 94% in its second quarter (and it made an operating loss) compared with a year ago. Along with the continuing troubles at its gaming unit, the conglomerate took a hit from the safety recall of 9.6m laptop batteries, for which its executives apologised. See article

Existing-home sales in America slid in September for a sixth month as the housing market continued to slow. The median home price also fell, to $220,000—2.2% less than a year ago. But the fall was bigger in some regions—5.1% in the north-east for instance.

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Wal-Mart Flogged; Blogging for Clicks; Outing Politicians

October 20, 2006 Leave a comment

Top Stories for the Week of October 16 – October 20

 The blogosphere coined a new word this week: Flogvertising. Remember Jim and Laura of Wal-Marting Across America – the ones who created all those folksy stories about Wal-Mart? (via Real Lawyers Have Blogs). Turns out the couple were hired by the non-folksy execs at Edelman, Wal-Mart’s giant PR agency (via JD on EP). Blogosphere reaction was predictably frantic. Publishing 2.0 wants to know why Edelman waited so long to respond-you call this a conversation? And doesn’t this violate the Word of Mouth Marketing Association guidelines Edelman helped create in the first place? writes Business Blog Consulting.

Micro Persuasion’s Steve Rubel, who works for Edelman, was curiously absent from the debate, then made some tepid statement about Edelman’s commitment to the WOMMA guidelines on transparency. If the first rule of damage control is to have someone else speak for you, Scobleizer swallowed the bait: After a  call from Edelman’s chief, he took the PR agency’s word (!) that misleading marketing is not acceptable there. Marketing Roadmaps blogs that Edelman’s campaign didn’t achieve its goals for the client, and spawns far larger problems for the agency going forward. Too bad for client Wal-Mart, but as gapingvoid‘s mom is fond of saying, “Education is expensive.”

It’s fine to pretend to be someone else as long as you say you’re pretending, which is what Reuters has done with its new bureau within Second Life. Reuters media correspondent Adam Pasick will be “Adam Reuters,” the news bureau’s avatar in the online world (via Smart Mobs). Reuters’ costs are lower than the real world and it may even get a few scoops, writes Mashable! also has an avatar in Second Life, blogs The Stalwart, who is considering becoming SL’s first virtual hedge fund manager.

In other blog news, PopSugar is looking more and more like a West Coast Gawker Media for women, especially since Sequoia Capital just invested $5 million, blogs alarm:clock. New products will include GeekSugar (a little sister to engadget), BuzzSugar (music/movies/etc.) and YumSugar (food/drink), writes TechCrunch. Sugar Publishing already has 20 million page views per month and 1.5 million uniques. And page views are what every writer and editor at Business 2.0 is now gunning for-individually. The magazine is making its whole staff blog and will compensate them accordingly for hits. BuzzMachine worries about B2.0’s bloggers whoring for clicks, but confesses that he was hit-driven at People magazine so what’s new?

 Go go GOOG. Google is expected to report U.S. advertising revenues of $4 billion for 2006-one quarter of the $16 billion to be spent and a 65 percent jump from last year. No company has ever acounted for that much Web advertising. The loser? Yahoo which reported disappointing quarterly earnings and earned a stock downgrade from Elie Wiesel (via Blogging Stocks). Also resurfacing this week are rumors of a Yahoo buyout: will it be Microsoft, News Corp or Time Warner? And is Yahoo CEO Terry Semel about to join the dead pool asks Valleywag.

The Friendster tell-all story was finally told this week and it’s not pretty, says TechCrunch. Friendster turned down a $30 million buyout offer from Google in 2003 and everything went downhill from there. Though there’s a lot of finger pointing in the story, there’s also a lot to learn from the site’s bust, says Signal vs. Noise, including: accepting too much venture capital; spending too much time on features instead of performance; and solving exciting potential problems instead of real mundane ones. Interestingly, Friendster choked even though it was initially backed by the PayPal Mafia.

 Poltical bloggers were busy this week in the runup to midterm elections. BlogActive alleges that Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) is gay, or at least has had same-sex sexual relations with consenting adults. Craig is denying the accusation, blogs Sister Toldjah, and why do those outing gays think it’s alright? Unclaimed Territory is amazed Republicans are objecting to the use of homosexuality in politics, while Wonkette blogs that as recently as October, Craig recently solicited candidates to become congressional pages.

Other October surprises abound as the November 7 election approaches. Ohio is becoming hostile territory for Republicans says The RCP Blog, and the governor’s race may become a Democratic blowout, (via Taegan Goddard). Out West, though, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) faces a real-estate scandal and questions about Christmas bonuses he gave staffers, (via Instapundit) and California should return Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to office in a walk.

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Business this week: 14th – 20th October 2006

October 19, 2006 Leave a comment

Business this week

Oct 19th 2006
From The Economist print edition

As the scandal over backdated stock options continued to gather pace, William McGuire resigned as chairman and chief executive of UnitedHealth. An investigation carried out for the health insurer by a law firm reported irregularities in granting stock options (worth some $1 billion) to Mr McGuire stemming from contract negotiations in 1999. The report also raised concerns about the depth of a financial relationship between Mr McGuire and the then acting-chairman of the board’s compensation committee. See article

A judge dismissed the convictions for fraud handed down to Kenneth Lay in May. As Enron’s former boss died from heart failure in July, before he was sentenced or could launch an appeal, the judge followed precedent by “vacating” the convictions, which also stops the government from seeking compensation from Lay’s estate.

In a deal that ends more than a century of rivalry, Chicago Mercantile Exchange agreed to buy the Chicago Board of Trade for $8 billion, the biggest merger yet in a spate of tie-ups among financial exchanges. Both institutions specialise in derivatives. CME‘s former chairman said the deal sealed the transformation of Chicago from the world’s “hog butcher” to its “risk manager”. See article

Banca Popolare di Verona e Novara agreed to buy Banca Popolare Italiana for euro8.2 billion ($10.3 billion), creating Italy’s fourth-biggest bank. BPI was at the centre of last year’s scandal that brought down Antonio Fazio as governor of the Bank of Italy. The deal is seen as further evidence that the effort to encourage consolidation among the country’s banks is working.

Citigroup broadened its presence in Turkey’s expanding financial-services industry by agreeing to buy a 20% stake in Akbank for $3.1 billion. It was Citigroup’s first big deal since the Federal Reserve lifted its ban on the company from making acquisitions after it became embroiled in a series of regulatory problems.

After it apparently attracted record interest from institutional investors, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China’s dual-listed public offering was opened to individual investors. Hundreds of people queued to get a copy of the prospectus ahead of this month’s flotation.

The management of RWE, a German utility group, agreed to sell Thames Water, Britain’s biggest water company which it bought in 2000, to a consortium led by Macquarie Bank for £8 billion ($15 billion) including debt. It is the third announced takeover of a British water company this month. The investment group trying to buy Anglian Water’s parent company raised its stake in the company to fend off potential counterbids. See article

After much speculation about a deal, Tata Steel, based in India, confirmed it was proposing to buy Corus, an Anglo-Dutch steelmaker. Tata values Corus at $10 billion, including debt, though other groups are thought to be interested in launching rival bids.

A week after Google agreed to buy YouTube, Universal Music launched lawsuits against two smaller video-sharing websites, Bolt and Grouper, for copyright infringement.

The rivalry between Intel and Advanced Micro Devices was highlighted as both chipmakers reported quarterly earnings. Particular scrutiny was given to shipments of microprocessors, on which both companies compete intensely. Intel enjoyed record shipments of microprocessors, and although its net profit dropped by 35% compared with a year ago, its share price was buoyant. AMD‘s shipments also rose, but its gross profit margin was squeezed by sagging prices and its share price fell, even though net profit rose by 77%.

In one of the biggest-ever residential-property transactions, MetLife, an insurer, agreed to sell two apartment complexes it owns in New York for $5.4 billion to two buyers, one of which is Tishman Speyer, a company that owns several prestigious buildings worldwide, including the Chrysler Building and the Millbank tower in London. The deal is controversial, however, as most of the flats in the buildings are rent-controlled; MetLife developed the properties after the second world war to house returning troops. See article

America’s headline inflation rate fell by 0.5% in September on the back of declining energy prices, the biggest monthly drop since last November. The news was one factor that helped the Dow Jones Industrial Average to push past 12,000, briefly, for the first time. But the Federal Reserve will not be so optimistic: core inflation, which excludes energy and food, reached 2.9%, its highest annual rate since February 1996. See articleE+

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Politics this week: 14th – 20th October 2006

October 19, 2006 Leave a comment

Politics this week

Oct 19th 2006
From The Economist print edition


The United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions on North Korea to protest against its nuclear bomb test. Condoleezza Rice, America’s secretary of state, headed to Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing to ask that the sanctions be fully implemented (including a provision to search North Korean ships). China, North Korea’s nearest thing to an ally, suggested it would not do so. North Korea said it viewed the sanctions as an act of war and reports suggested it was preparing a second nuclear test. See article

Tamil rebels carried out attacks on government targets in Sri Lanka, including a suicide-bomb aimed at a naval convoy that killed over 100 people, most of whom were sailors. The government continued an air attack on a rebels stronghold, banishing hope that the war will end soon. See article

Hafeez Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Toiba, the biggest jihadist group fighting Indian rule in Kashmir, was released from custody in Pakistan. Mr Saeed heads another Islamist group, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, that is banned by America, but not by Pakistan. He denies America’s claim that the group raises funds for fighters.

With American casualties rising in Iraq—more than 60 American soldiers have been killed so far this month—the debate over possible new strategies in the conflict intensified in Washington. See articleE+

The police in Israel recommended that the country’s figurehead president, Moshe Katsav, should face charges of rape. But unless he steps down, he cannot be tried until his term ends next August. See article

A state of emergency was declared in the Nigerian state of Ekiti after the governor was impeached on corruption charges. Nigeria’s financial crimes commission is investigating 33 of the country’s 36 governors for corruption. See article

After elections in Côte d’Ivoire were delayed because of the slow pace of disarmament by government and rebel militias, African leaders recommended that President Laurent Gbagbo be allowed to stay in office until a ballot can be held, but with reduced powers.

South Africa secured a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council for the first time. The government said it would use its position to campaign for UN reform, including the expansion of the council to include a permanent African member.

Hugo Chávez’s expensive campaign to win Venezuela a seat on the Security Council appeared to be heading for defeat. Venezuela trailed its American-backed rival, Guatemala, in more than 20 rounds of voting, but neither won the required two-thirds majority. Diplomats expected that a third Latin American country would emerge as a compromise candidate. See article


The remains of Juan Domingo Perón, Argentina’s most revered and most divisive political leader, were reburied in a new mausoleum outside Buenos Aires. The ceremony, attended by thousands, was marred when fighting broke out between rival factions of the ruling political movement that bears his name.

Álvaro Noboa, a banana magnate and Ecuador’s richest man, came first in the country’s presidential election, winning 26.2% of the vote. He will face a run-off ballot against Rafael Correa, a leftist, next month. See article

Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the centre-left loser of Mexico’s presidential election, suffered a second defeat when his party’s candidate lost a gubernatorial election in his home state, Tabasco. The defeat will undermine Mr López Obrador’s campaign of “civic resistance” against Mexico’s government.

Amid complaints from civil-liberties groups that he was reversing basic constitutional rights, George Bush signed into law new rules on the detention and prosecution of terrorism suspects. Republicans seized on the act to bash Democrats for being soft on security issues. Lawyers predicted challenges to the legislation, which was partly designed to clarify the law.

An earthquake of magnitude 6.7 shook Hawaii, causing some structural damage but no serious injuries. Possibly still stung by criticisms over Hurricane Katrina (and maybe with one eye on the mid-term elections) the White House declared it a disaster and ordered the release of federal assistance. It did the same for a snowstorm in upstate New York and flooding that occurred—in August—in Alaska.

Another potential congressional scandal brewed as Curt Weldon, a Republican who is in a tight election race in his suburban Philadelphia district, confirmed that the Justice Department was investigating his connection to lobbying contracts through his daughter’s firm. Mr Weldon blamed “left-wing liberal activists” for the timing of the investigation.

Arnold Schwarzenegger burnished his green credentials by announcing a pact with north-eastern states, including New York, to co-ordinate existing plans on reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. See articleE+

The Polish government survived a vote of confidence after the conservative Law and Justice party lured the populist Self Defence party, led by Andrzej Lepper, back into a coalition. Mr Lepper, who was sacked a month ago, will be the agriculture minister. The opposition accused the government of “squandering Poland’s prestige”.

Turkey continued to protest over the French National Assembly’s vote for a bill to criminalise denial of the 1915 Armenian genocide. Many Turks detected yet another attempt to derail their efforts to join the European Union. See article

The new centre-right government of Sweden, led by Fredrik Reinfeldt, had a rocky start when two female ministers were forced to quit. One had registered her nanny improperly; the other had not paid her television licence.

Iceland upset conservationists by announcing a resumption of commercial whaling. It plans to take nine fin whales, an endangered species, and 30 minke whales a year.


France’s three candidates for the Socialist Party nomination for president in next year’s election staged a televised debate. The front-runner, Ségolène Royal, emerged without too much damage, although some recent polls have put her behind the main centre-right candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy.

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October 17, 2006 Leave a comment

                                                                                                Health & Welfare Services


                                                                                                October 5, 2006







There has been an outbreak of infectious diseases like Dengue, Malaria and Chikungunya, in different parts of the country, mainly caused by mosquito bite.


Though this has not been reported as an epidemic, large numbers of people are falling sick due to these diseases.


All these diseases start with fever; only a clinician and laboratory investigations can diagnose these diseases.


Following are the characteristics of theses three diseases











Chikungunya fever


What is it?

Infectious disease caused by the parasite called Plasmodia. (P.vivax and P.falciparum are more common)

It is an acute viral fever occurring in two forms
– Dengue Fever
– Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever

Caused by Dengue virus

It is an acute viral fever caused by the Chikungunya virus

Mode of spread

Bite of infected female Anopheles mosquito. (Night biter)

Bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito. (Day biter)

 Bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito. (Day biter)

Onset of symptoms

§         8-12 days after bite of infected mosquito

§         2-5 days after bite of infected mosquito

§         3-12 days after bite of infected mosquito


§         Fever recurring every 2 days

§         Chills

§         Headache, muscle ache

§         Tiredness

§         Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may occur

§         Jaundice(Yellow colorings of skin and eyes)


§         High fever

§         Severe headache

§         Pain behind the eye

§         Severe joint and muscle pain

§         Nausea and vomiting

§         Rash

§         In hemorrhagic dengue, there is damage to blood, lymph vessels, bleeding from nose, gums or under skin



§         High fever of sudden onset

§         Headache

§         Joint pain and/or swelling of joints

§         Nausea and vomiting

§         Infection of conjunctiva of eye and sensitivity to light

§         Rarely rash


§         Commonly seen in P. falciparum infection.

§         Cerebral malaria (affecting the brain), bleeding disorders, jaundice, kidney failure, respiratory distress and death.

§         Bleeding disorders leading to bleeding from the nose, mouth and gums or skin bruising

§         Very low blood pressure leading to shock


§         Life-threatening complications are rare

§         Can affect the brain in new-born children





§         Based on Clinical features and Peripheral blood smear

§         Negative blood test DOES NOT rule out malaria

§         Based on Clinical features

§         Laboratory tests such as Serology and PCR are used to confirm diagnosis.


§         Based on Clinical features

§         Laboratory tests such as Serology and IgM antibody are used to confirm diagnosis.



§         Very effective drugs are available, Eg. Chloroquine, Quinine, Primaquine, Sulphodoxine+Pyrimethamine, Arteether and artemether.


§         Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent complications.

§         No specific anti-viral treatment available.

§         Symptomatic treatment is given, consisting of Pain relieving drugs (such as paracetamol, ibuprofen and diclofenac) plenty of fluids and rest.

§         Aspirin is to be avoided





There is no vaccine available for all these diseases.  Always notify the public health authorities if any of these diseases occurs in your locality. Preventive measures include-


¨       Using Personal protective measures:


§         Preventing mosquitoes from entering the house- Apply nets to windows

§         Protection from mosquito bites by using

­        Protective clothing

­        Mosquito repellents

­        Insecticide vapourizers

­        Mosquito nets


¨        Elimination of mosquitoes


§         Avoiding or eliminating water collections, as these mosquitoes lay eggs in clean stagnant water. Most such collections are artificial, temporary and man made such as buckets, coconut shells, tyres thrown in open and overhead water tanks, etc.


§         Use of Larvicides such as Temiphos and Fenthion


§         Killing adult mosquitoes using Space sprays, Thermal fogs. Commonly used insecticide sprays are Organophosphate insecticides and Pyrethroids






Ø       If there is stagnant water near sites / offices / residential colonies notify  Health / Sanitary authority for drainage / anti larva measures ( spray of insecticides)


Ø      Drain stagnant water from potted plants, air coolers , old tins, old tyres etc.


Ø      Enforce stringent sanitary measures in and around our sites to reduce mosquito population by fogging and spraying pesticides.


Ø      To avoid mosquito bites:

Ø      Use mosquito repellant creams while going outdoors

Ø      Ensure mosquito nets on windows

Ø      Use electric insecticide vapourisers as indoor mosquito repellants

Ø      Use mosquito nets in highly endemic areas


Ø      Do not ignore fever (with or without chills) more than 38oc / 104oF. Consult your family physician


Ø      All local coordinators/ site in charge and doctors are requested to translate this information into local language and spread awareness.


Ø      In case you have a suspect case please provide us information about location, telephone number of the employees, his / her attending physician’s / hospitals for follow up and better coordination in order to provide best healthcare.





Dr. K J Kamat


(Director – Medical, Health & Welfare Services)



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October 17, 2006 Leave a comment

Clean enough to be healthy
but dirty enough to be happy
Kitchen closed – – this chick has had it!
Martha Stewart doesn’t live here!!
So this isn’t Home Sweet Home
Ring Bell for Maid Service.
If no answer do it yourself!

I clean house every other day.
Today is the other day!

If you write in the dust,
please don’t date it!
~~ I would cook dinner but I can’t find the can opener! ~~

My house was clean last week,
too bad you missed it!

A clean kitchen is the sign of a wasted life.

I came,
I saw,
I decided
to order
take out

If you don’t like my standards of cooking.
Lower your standards.

My house doesn’t always look like this
Some days it’s even worse.

A messy kitchen is a happy kitchen,
and this kitchen is delirious.

A balanced diet is dark chocolate in one hand
and white chocolate in the other.

If you can laugh at yourself,
you will always be amused.

Help keep the kitchen clean

Countless numbers of people have eaten in this kitchen and gone on to lead normal lives.

*My next house will have no kitchen — just vending machines.*

Shopping forever Housework, never!

Remember only dull women have immaculate houses.

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13 Reasons to Smile

October 16, 2006 1 comment

Now that food has replaced sex in my life, I can’t even get into my own pants.
Marriage changes passion.
Suddenly you’re in bed with a relative.
I saw a woman wearing a sweat shirt with “Guess” on it
So I said “Implants?” She hit me.
How come we choose from just two people to run for
president and over fifty for Miss America?
A good friend will come and bail you out of jail…but, a true friend will be sitting next to you saying, “Wow…that was fun!”
I signed up for an exercise class and was told to wear loose-fitting clothing. If I HAD any loose-fitting clothing, I wouldn’t have signed up in the first place!
When I was young we used to go “skinny dipping,” now I just “chunky dunk.”
Don’t argue with an idiot; people watching may not be able to tell the difference.
Wouldn’t it be nice if whenever we messed up our life we could simply press ‘Ctrl Alt Delete’ and start all over? AMEN, AMEN !!
Why is it that our children can’t read a Bible in school, but they can in prison?
Wouldn’t you know it…
Brain cells come and brain cells go, but FATcells live forever.
Why do I have to swear on the Bible in court when the Ten Commandments cannot be displayed outside?
Bumper sticker of the year:
“If you can read this, thank a teacher -and, since it’s in English, thank a soldier”
And remember: life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.

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Politics this week: 7th – 13th October 2006

October 12, 2006 Leave a comment

North Korea claimed to have carried out a nuclear test. Russia corroborated the claim, and other regional powers monitored an underground explosion consistent with it. The test was condemned around the world. Japan announced harsh sanctions and America and other countries also threatened them. China, the only country thought to have significant influence with North Korea, called the test a “brazen” act; it was unclear what response it might support. See articleE+

Pakistan condemned North Korea’s test as a “destabilising” act. It should know: Pakistan’s inaugural nuclear tests in 1998 caused international outrage. In 2004 Abdul Qadeer Khan, the architect of Pakistan’s nuclear-arms programme, admitted to having illicitly furnished North Korea, Libya and Iran with nuclear technology.

The British commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan held talks with Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf about the Taliban insurgents who have killed dozens of NATO troops in recent months. Some Taliban leaders are believed to be based in northern Pakistan with, some NATO officials claim, the approval of Pakistani intelligence agencies.

Scores of soldiers and Tamil rebels were killed in heavy fighting in Sri Lanka’s northern Jaffna peninsula. The conflict began the day after the government and rebels agreed a date for peace talks later this month.

Republicans were embroiled in the fallout from the Mark Foley scandal. As the ethics committee in the House of Representatives issued subpoenas in their investigation into the former congressman’s communications with teenage pages, Dennis Hastert, the speaker, ignored calls to resign for his handling of the affair. Opinion polls showed a sharp drop in support for the party in next month’s mid-term elections. See article

A small plane caused a security scare in New York when it crashed into an apartment building. The pilot, a player for the New York Yankees baseball team, and his flight instructor were killed.


In the only television debate in the California governor’s race, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the incumbent, slugged it out with Phil Angelides, his Democratic opponent. He said Mr Angelides had “joy” in his eyes when he spoke about raising taxes. Mr Angelides did his best to link Mr Schwarzenegger to George Bush, but with the governor far ahead in the polls the chatter probably made little difference.

The government announced plans to crack down on violations of the trade embargo on Cuba (sanctions-busting can carry a ten-year jail term). Critics said this was simply a way of propping up the Republican vote in southern Florida.

Raúl Castro, interim leader of Cuba, denied claims by American officials, reported in Time magazine, that his brother, President Fidel Castro, has terminal cancer and will never return to power. The president, who had intestinal surgery in July, was “getting better all the time”, he said.

In the first televised debate between the two remaining candidates in Brazil’s presidential election, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was put on the defensive by aggressive questioning from the centrist challenger, Geraldo Alckmin, about the corruption scandals that have dogged his four-year term in office.

A team of American and Iraqi epidemiologists estimated that 650,000 more people have died in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion than would have died if there had been no invasion. The Bush administration said the study was flawed. See article

The prospect of war in Somalia increased after several hundred Ethiopian troops were seen deep inside the country. They support the transitional government that has been losing out to the Islamists, who now control the capital and much of the country. See article

A ceasefire between Uganda’s government and a rebel group in the north, the Lord’s Resistance Army, seemed to be unravelling. Rebel leaders said they would not leave the bush to begin formal peace talks until warrants for their arrest for war crimes, issued by the International Criminal Court, were dropped.

Amnesty International said several thousand child soldiers continue to serve within armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo, three years after a war was officially declared over.

A long-running feud worsened between the president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, and his vice-president, Atiku Abubakar, who hopes to contest presidential elections next year. Mr Abubakar has been told to appear in court to answer corruption charges and a close aide was jailed for disclosing classified information.


Anna Politkovskaya, a campaigning Russian journalist who exposed official wrongdoing, was shot dead in Moscow. President Vladimir Putin, visiting Germany four days later, broke his silence on her killing to condemn it, but described her as a person of “minimal influence” in Russian political life. See article

Later, Mr Putin told his hosts that he wanted to make Germany into Europe’s “gas hub”, but he faced criticism for Russia’s human-rights record and treatment of its neighbours. See article

Georgia condemned Russia’s deportation of ethnic Georgians, as the two countries’ war of words, prompted by a spying row, continued.

The Czech minority government resigned after losing a vote of confidence, perpetuating a four-month-old political stalemate produced by a general election in June that resulted in a tie between left and right.

France is to ban smoking in all public places from next February, the prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, announced. Cafés, nightclubs and restaurants must ban smoking by January 2008.

Jack Straw, Britain’s former foreign secretary, sparked a row when he said he preferred Muslim women not to wear the veil in face-to-face meetings. Some accused Mr Straw of trying to raise his profile because he wants to become deputy leader of the Labour Party. Mr Straw’s comments were supported by Gordon Brown, the chancellor and likely successor to Tony Blair. See article

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