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Food worth millions for poor children siphoned off in Maharashtra, finds Supreme Court panel

Poor Children
Mumbai -In a grim reminder of the continuing misery of the poor in India, a report by a Supreme Court panel has revealed that food worth thousands of crores meant for underprivileged children in Maharashtra has been siphoned off by private companies. Instead, the children, who were entitled to the benefit under the anganwadi scheme, were fed stale and low-quality food.

The shocking revelations are part of a report submitted by the Supreme Court Commissioner who looked into widespread irregularities in the Maharashtra Anganwadi Yojana. As per the findings, tenders were intentionally awarded to three women's associations that were meant to supply food for children under the anganwadi scheme. However, the associations formed their own separate committees, which in turn delegated the work - supplying food and other nutritional supplements - to five private firms. These five companies, the report says, allegedly made massive profits by providing sub-standard food to poor children.

The latest report is a further indicator of the deteriorating social index in Maharashtra - the state already suffers from the ignominy of having one of the highest number of deaths from malnutrition in the country. The alleged scam should also come as a worry for the Congress-led government in Maharashtra as well as at the Centre as the anganwadi project is part of the larger Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme which is centrally-sponsored with the state governments tasked to implement it.

Heart - Black

Madeleine Albright's scrap with pro-Serbian activists in a Prague bookstore

© Youtube
"You're a war criminal," she says. "Get out."
Video has emerged showing Madeleine Albright in a verbal altercation with a group of pro-Serbian activists in Prague. The former U.S. Secretary of State got involved in a heated exchange with the activists who remonstrated with her over her role in the American-led 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and her reported interest in a Kosovar communications firm. At a book-signing event, promoting her memoir Prague Winter, in the Czech capital's Luxor bookstore on October 23, members of the civic group, "Friends of Serbs in Kosovo" entered into a verbal confrontation with Albright and her representatives.

The two videos, which were uploaded to YouTube by the group were published by the Czech publication Parlamentni Listy on its website on October 25. The videos show the verbal jousting that ensued after one of the group's members, Czech film director Vaclav Dvorak who made the documentary Stolen Kosovo, walked up to Albright and asked her to sign a DVD copy of his film.

In one video, Dvorak is accompanied by a cameraman as he comes up to Albright's desk and tells her: "I brought you a film I recorded in Kosovo and I also wanted to remind you of your other deeds," at which point he places posters on her desk with a picture of Albright and the logo of Kosovo's IPKO state telecommunications firm. Parlamentni Listy reports that one of the posters had photographs of Serbs killed during the NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999.

Comment: The same Madeleine Albright who said:

Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it.

--60 Minutes (5/12/96)


Bankrupt billionaire Sean Quinn jailed for 'outrageous' contempt

Sean Quinn
© Agence France-Presse
Sean Quinn built the Quinn Group conglomerate from scratch to become a global business empire spanning wind farms, cement plants and hotels
Bankrupt ex-billionaire Sean Quinn will spend Christmas in prison after being handed a nine-week jail term over an "outrageous" asset-stripping scheme, in violation of court orders.

The 66-year-old property entrepreneur, once Ireland's richest man, was sentenced at Dublin's High Court on Friday after being found in contempt of court.

The conviction centred on his defiance of a court order that had demanded Quinn, his son Sean Junior and nephew Peter Darragh Quinn,stop keeping foreign property assets beyond the reach of creditors at the state-owned Irish Banking Resolution Corporation (IBRC), the former Anglo Irish Bank.

In the contempt ruling, Judge Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne said the men had defied and misled the courts to shift assets as far afield as Belize, Ukraine and Russia.

She had sentenced Quinn's son and nephew to three months in prison in July, but delayed sentencing Quinn to see what measures he took to recover the assets. However, IBRC said that Quinn had not reversed the asset-stripping scheme and it had found evidence of continued efforts to frustrate the bank's attempts to recover the assets.

IBRC is pursuing Quinn for €2.8bn (£2.24bn) he owes, while Quinn only admits owing €455m and is pursuing a counter-case against the bank.


U.S. airman Is suspected of punching Japanese boy, police say

Koichiro Gemba
© Agence France-Presse
Japan's foreign minister Koichiro Gemba
Tokyo - Japanese leaders reacted angrily on Friday after the police on Okinawa said an American Air Force serviceman was suspected of breaking into an apartment while drunk and punching a 13-year-old boy, just weeks after two American sailors were accused of raping a woman on the same island.

Japan's foreign minister, Koichiro Gemba, called the suspected attack "outrageous," and he said hitting a boy was "completely unforgivable."

The assault took place early Friday morning, the police said. The airman was apparently in violation of a curfew imposed just last month by the American military on all of its roughly 50,000 military personnel in Japan following the rape accusation. The police did not release the name of the 24-year-old airman, who was in the hospital after apparently falling from a third-story window.

The back-to-back episodes have stirred outrage on Okinawa, the southern island that hosts three-quarters of the American bases in Japan. The episodes also threaten to complicate ties between the United States and its closest Asian ally at a time when both nations are trying to work together to face an increasingly assertive China.


Some relief? After controversy, Bloomberg calls off New York City Marathon

Update at 5:17 p.m. ET. Marathon Cancelled:

After receiving withering criticism, officials have decided to cancel the New York City Marathon, the largest 26.2 mile road race in the world.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had insisted on allowing the marathon to continue, issued a statement saying he did not want to taint the event with shroud of controversy.

"While holding the race would not require diverting resources from the recovery effort, it is clear that it has become the source of controversy and division," Bloomberg said in a statement emailed to reporters. "The marathon has always brought our city together and inspired us with stories of courage and determination. We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it."

NBC News points out that just hours earlier, Bloomberg asserted that the marathon would go on.

"If you think back to 9/11, I think Rudy [Giuliani] made the right decision to run the marathon," Bloomberg said. "It pulled people together and we have to find some ways to express ourselves and show solidarity to each other."

The mayor said New York Road Runners would issue more information later for the 45,000 runners.


Film producer has mass exorcism at Soho cinema

A producer has held a mass exorcism at a London cinema, claiming his film was being haunted by evil spirits.

Filmmaker Bill Bungay blamed several strange occurrences connected with his film When the Lights Went Out on "the effects of a demonic possession".

Two showings of the horror film at the Soho Screening Rooms were hit by blackouts, with Bungay deciding to hold an exorcism to cleanse the cinema.

Using the help of 100 male and female religious friends, he felt that exorcism needed to be held as it could not have been a "coincidence".

Bungay's film is based on the supposed haunting of a Yorkshire home that belonged to director Pat Holden's aunt Jean Pritchard in the 1970s.

The producer said: "It was one thing to put the first power failure down to a bit of bad luck.

"But to move cinemas and have exactly the same thing happen 20 minutes into the movie when the evil presence is first felt was beyond coincidence, and has caused much concern for the production."

However, cinema projectionist Paul Speed stated that the incidents were likely more technical than paranormal.

"In Soho, we get outages when there is a big demand for power for heating when the temperature drops," he said.

Eye 1

Young brothers swept to death by Sandy denied refuge minutes earlier


Glenda Moore, and her husband, Damian Moore, react as they approach the scene where at least one of their childrens' bodies were discovered in Staten Island, New York, Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012
As Superstorm Sandy ravaged New York, Glenda Moore drove frantically across Staten Island in an attempt to get her sons to safety.

Instead, Moore found herself and her boys -- Connor, four and Brandon, two -- caught in the full fury of the storm.

Buffeted by torrential rains and winds of up to 90 miles per hour, her Ford Explorer plunged into a hole. According to the account she would later give police, Moore carried her sons to a nearby tree, gripping branches along with her boys as she tried to shelter them from the storm surge.

She told police they clung together for hours, before Moore managed to make her way to a nearby property, and pleaded to be let inside. But according to her police account, rather than sheltering the desperate strangers, the occupant refused to let them enter.

In desperation, Moore told police she then went to the back of the house, and tried to break in using a flower pot, but was unable to do so. As the storm raged on, her sons were swept away by flood waters.

The bodies of the boys were found near each other Thursday, about a quarter of a mile from where Moore last held them.

Meanwhile, public anger has been directed at the homeowner who allegedly failed to help Moore and her children. The man, who told CNN's Gary Tuchman that his name is Alan but did not want his full name used, disputed Moore's account, saying he saw only a man outside.

Comment: A man's refusal to help a woman and her two young sons directly results in the death of the children and all he can do is blame the mother. This is everyday pathological behavior in action. This is the type of pathology that repulses normal human beings and is normalized by far too many people as the status quo.


Symbolic? UK chain store retailer 'Comet' sees website crash and suppliers commandeer stock

Retailer Comet was plunged into chaos on Thursday as its looming administration led to suppliers commandeering stock, its website crashing and shoppers being urged to spend vouchers soon to become worthless.

The company said a notice of intent to file for administration had been handed in at the high court with the formal appointment of administrators expected early next week. The crunch puts 6,500 jobs at risk and raises the spectre of one of the darkest days for the high street since the collapse of Woolworths in 2008. In an email to staff, Comet chief executive Bob Darke said the board was "urgently working with its advisers to seek a solution to secure a viable future".

The 80-year-old company started as Comet Battery Stores, which charged batteries for wireless sets, and pioneered out-of-town retailing, opening its first superstore in Hull in 1968. In the first of a series of ownership changes, Comet was bought by B&Q owner Kingfisher in 1984 for £129m and, by the mid-1990s, had become a national chain. Amstrad founder Lord Sugar tweeted: "Sad to see the demise of Comet. They were my first serious trade customer when I started my first electronics factory in the early 70s."


Facebook censors Navy SEALs for claiming Obama denied them help


Facebook page of Special Operation Speaks PAC
Social media giant Facebook has removed a message by the Special Operations Speaks PAC (SOS), which shed negative light on US President Obama for denying a request for military support in Benghazi before the deadly attack on the consulate.

The message came in the form of a meme, accompanied by an image of Obama, smiling while holding his ears, next to an image of former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

"Obama called the SEALs and THEY got bin Laden," the meme states. "When the SEALs called Obama, THEY GOT DENIED."

The message sheds light on Obama's failure to provide backup when the SEALs called for it in Benghazi, shortly before four Americans were killed in an attack that killed the US Ambassador to Libya.

Sources who were present during the six-hour assault claim that military assistance, which was only two hours away, was requested and denied even when the CIA safe house was under attack. The assault has become a controversial topic, with the White House having been unclear about how much it actually knew about the attack and the motivations behind it.

SOS is an anti-Obama group consisting of "veterans, legatees, and supporters of the Special Operations communities of all the Armed Forces," the Facebook page states. After the page garnered 30,000 shared and 24,000 likes for the meme in just 24 hours, it was deleted by Facebook.


Hollywood wages war against legitimate Megaupload customers

police line tape @ megaupload
© n/a
A federal judge is considering how legitimate users of the Megaupload online storage site may be allowed access to files hosted on seized servers, but Hollywood is still adamant about doing everything possible to prevent that from happening.

Kyle Goodwin says he uploaded personal files to the Megaupload.com cyber locker that were vital to his small business, but he's been unable to access that data ever since authorities shut-down the site and arrested its founder, Kim Dotcom of New Zealand, in January. Ten months after the fact, Goodwin can't access his files and is now being represented by attorneys from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

"The government engaged in a overbroad seizure, denying Mr. Goodwin access to his data, along with likely millions of others who have never been accused of wrongdoing," EFF staff attorney Julie Samuels says in a statement this week. "Access to the government's warrant application and related materials can help us learn how this could have happened and provide assistance in our efforts to get Mr. Goodwin his property back."

A judge is now being tasked with deciding if those court files can be opened to assess the situation fully, but the Hollywood bigwigs who were opposed to the site say that might not be the best idea.