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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

looting in Houston ~ Amchi Mumbai provides food and shelter ~ aftermath of nature's fury

Nature’s fury – disaster strikes, it is for mankind to rise above !!

A day after heavy rains wreaked havoc in the country’s financial capital, the civic chief on Wednesday blamed extreme weather conditions for waterlogging on roads and railway tracks, saying the municipal machinery worked fine in the hour of crisis. The megalopolis received around 320 mm rain on Tuesday, the heaviest on a single day since the July 26, 2005 record of 944 mm, which paralysed the city within a few hours. The torrential rain plunged the city into chaos as water swamped homes, and submerged roads and railway tracks, leaving thousands of people stranded at various places.

~ and how beautifully Mumbaikars responded again !!  - one example : If anyone stuck in Lower Parel can make it to @bombaycanteen, our doors are open for some garam chai, working WiFi & warm hospitality, screamed one.   Maharashtra Parliamentary Affairs Minister Girish Bapat  appealed to people stranded in South Mumbai for unavailability of transport following heavy rains, to take shelter in his official residence for time being. In his appeal made through Facebook, the BJP leader, who hails from Pune, said that people stranded in areas such as Fort, and at Mantralaya can rest or stay in his official residence ‘Dnyaneshwari’, located at Malabar Hill, till the situation shows improvement.  Amchi Mumbai is different !

Miles away, the parallels between Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Katrina are stark. Look no further than the severe and destructive flooding that both storms have left along the Gulf Coast and the sheer number of evacuations due in part to a respective lack of preparation. Perhaps it’s because of those similarities that an “ABC World News Tonight” anchor’s use of the word “looting” on Twitter to describe a scene amid Houston’s floodwaters reminded many of a debate that raged 12 years ago.  ‘it was looting and finding’ – more to do with the attitude of people when disaster strikes !!  .. now read on !

Houston authorities imposed an overnight curfew Tuesday, incensed that criminals impersonating law enforcement officers in the wake of Hurricane Harvey were victimizing the city's hardest-hit residents. The curfew, which takes effect immediately and will continue indefinitely, was initially set from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. CT, but shortly thereafter, Mayor Sylvester Turner modified it to begin at midnight. With the police department strained to the limit after the historic storm, thousands of people are on their own, and "the reality is there are some people who might be inclined to take advantage of this situation," he said. "I don't want them to worry about anybody breaking into their homes or looting while they are away," he said.

The Harris County District Attorney's Office said 14 people have been arrested on suspicion of looting, but Police Chief Art Acevedo said there had been scores of other reports of even worse behavior. Specifically, people wearing T-shirts claiming to represent Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Homeland Security Department's Homeland Security Investigations division. He said real agents of both agencies don't wear T-shirts, so Houstonians should demand to see ID or call 911 before they open their doors.

Tropical Storm Harvey made its second landfall just west of Cameron, Louisiana in the early hours of Wednesday morning, promising more precipitation after a record rainfall that has caused catastrophic flooding and paralyzed Houston. The storm that first came ashore on Friday as the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in more than 50 years has killed at least 17 people, forced tens of thousands of people to leave deluged homes and caused damage estimated at tens of billions of dollars, making it one of the costliest US natural disasters.

The rescues continue late into the night in east Houston using any available boat or vehicle including garbage trucks.  "You cannot drive, nor be in any public place. We have had problems with armed robberies, with people with guns and firearms," said Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo. Turner earlier said the city was opening several additional emergency shelters to alleviate crowding at the convention center, which has 10,000 people. Some of those will be moved to a nearby concert hall and basketball arena.

City officials were preparing to temporarily house some 19,000 people, with thousands more expected to flee. As of Tuesday morning, nearly 50,000 homes had suffered flood damage, Texas officials said, and the tally is certain to rise. US President Donald Trump visited Texas on Tuesday to survey damage from the first major natural disaster to test his leadership in a crisis. The president said he was pleased with the response, but it was too soon for a victory lap. The unprecedented flooding has left scores of neighborhoods chest-deep in water and badly strained the dams and drainage systems that protect the low-lying Houston metropolitan area whose economy is about as large as Argentina's.

Harvey has drawn comparisons with Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans 12 years ago, killing 1,800 people and causing an estimated $108 billion in damage ~ and sadly the looting too perhaps is comparable.

Back home, the  Mumbai Police on Tuesday (29th Aug 2017)  debunked notions that the police in India moves at a slow speed when responding to disasters by taking charge and promptly helping people through tweets and issuing traffic advisories.Many parts of Mumbai and suburbs were inundated under three to four feet of water; the highways, main and arterial roads, bylanes, housing complexes, railway stations and even the Mumbai Airport. The Met department on Tuesday warned of more "heavy intermittent spells" in the next few hours.  However, the prompt tweets and updates from Mumbai Police helped a number of people. From asking people stuck in the rain to contact the police via Twitter to allaying fears and asking people not to panic, Mumbai Police turned into a life saver for the inundated Mumbai. The pinned tweet on its twitter handle asks people to dial 100 if they are stuck and assures them that the police will assist.

As Mumbai reeled under heavy lashings of rain for the fourth consecutive day on Tuesday, some good samaritans in the city have responded by opening their doors for those stranded in the downpour. Locals have been sharing their addresses and contact details, offering shelter and food to anyone and everyone who needs it. Offices, gurudwaras, restaurants have volunteered to offer sanctuary to people stranded as torrential rain brings the city of blinding lights to a standstill, throwing traffic out of gear, affecting trains and flights services in the Maharashtra capital.

Salute the spirit of Samaritans and the city.. .. mera Bharat mahan hai !
With regards – S. Sampathkumar

30th Aug 2017.

Friday, August 25, 2017

spectacles distributed at SYMA - remembering KE Raghavan

Srinivas Youngmens Association (SYMA) has been doing service relentlessly since 1977.  Of our many services, Medical services and Education services are our prime activities.

We have come a long way since 1989 when our medical services were launched in a small street corner at Peyalwar Street ~ many our volunteers have striven so hard ensuring that pleasant and quality service is extended to poor and needy.  Of the many people involved – we recall and remember the passionate services of dear KE Raghavan born on 12.10.1953

A decade back on this day [fateful Saturday 25.8.2007] the affable Kunnavakkam Elayavalli Raghavan passed away – his sudden death shocked Triplicane and hundreds turned up at his funeral.  He would ever be remembered for his nice words, smiling face, hard work done always at the background without ever showing up on stage.  On a day when Sri Sankaracharya was to visit our medical centre in its nascent stage, he took upon himself, the task of whitewashing the entire premises and the day beckoned with the place so neat and clean.  He was exceptionally good in cooking and the sambar that he used to make still lingers.  In SYMA tours, besides other manual work, cooking and serving was his area and he made everyone feel happy with that.

Every year we remember him on 25th of August – this year on Independence day - around 130 people were screened ~ 11 persons were selected, of them 9 were taken to Sri Sankara Eye Hospital, Pammal on the same day.  Cataract surgery was done free for them, later,  they were brought back to Triplicane in a van arranged by SYMA.  SYMA members went to the hospital a day later,  met those who underwent eye surgery, providing them words of comfort.

31 persons were prescribed spectacles.  The eye-glasses were made by Sri Sankara Eye Hospital, Pammal and they were distributed in a function held at SYMA Medical Centre today @ 5.00 pm.

Today SYMA remembers Mr KE Raghavan, who left us this day in 2007.  The edifice of SYMA has been built brick by brick by the efforts of some and late KE Raghavan played a great part in maintaining the Centre those days. His brother Mr KE Srinivasan, Prop. Alamu Stores, distributed the glasses alongwith Mr TJ Ramani, President.  Many Office bearers and members were also present.

Me with KE Raghavan ~ photo taken in 1994 at Vellore – SPIC Viji marriage !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

25th Aug 2017.

Who is Akila Dhananjaya ? Dhoni and Buvi see India through at Pallekele

The owners, fans and others of Chennai Super Kings are still angry with BCCI and are trying to pose problems – one secret plan was hatched yesterday !! .. .. .. Sri Lankans have fetish for long names – and Akila Dhananjaya has one – he is : Mahamarakkala Kurukulasooriya Patabendige Akila Dananjaya Perera !  .. .. ..  when Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar was often on a song and scored a century, a distraught critic would remark, when Sachin scores a ton, India loses.  Far away from the truth it was for this what the statistics reveal.  In a great career from 1989 – 2012, he scored 18426 ODI runs with 49 centuries, with the first one coming only in 1994.  Of these 33 came in matches that India won ! – and in a Team game, could one individual be blamed if he turnsout a heroic performance – wins the match but ends up on losing side for no fault of his .. ask Akila the man of the match, the same Q today and one will understand the pain !!

It was getting closer to midnight and it was difficult to sustain interest and watch the match – even when India (and MS Dhoni)  was playing.  The eyes were drooping pleading rest – and it was not any great tournament – the Indo Lanka series has been no match thus far.  It has been so bad that a  section of Sri Lanka spectators held up the team bus and voiced raucous displeasure at the performance of players and administration following the nine-wicket loss against India in Dambulla in the previous onedayer.

A group of about 50 fans had stood in the vicinity of Sri Lanka's parked bus, hooting and shouting slogans such as "we want our cricket back" and "no politics in cricket", until police stepped in and cleared the gathering. The incident delayed Sri Lanka's departure from the venue by close to half an hour. The fan demonstration followed months of increasing dissatisfaction with on-field results. Social media has been aflame with scathing satire, taking aim at selectors and administrators in addition to players, in a year in which Sri Lanka has slipped to several unprecedented losses.

Coming back in a rain affected match with revised target, India was faltering at 131 for 7 after having a century opening stand – suddenly stumps were getting rattled often as one Akila turned hero having claimed Indian wickets.  Bhuvneshwar walked in, joined Dhoni as Akila added Axar Patel to his kitty and had 6. 

He  is Akila Dananjaya. He is supposed to be an offspinner but his nimble fingers can do what they want to the ball. One minute in 2012, he was bowling in the nets, the next he was fast-tracked into the Sri Lanka team by no less a spotter of talent than Mahela Jayawardene, in a World T20 to boot. If that isn't enough drama, on debut, he struck in his first over, and then got hit in the face by a cricket ball. When Akila Dananjaya's name appeared in Sri Lanka's provisional squad for the ICC World Twenty20, the rumour mill in Lanka spun out stories where the media could not. Some accused his family of using political clout to achieve his sudden elevation. It would not have been the first time, after all. Others alleged money had passed hands - a favour in exchange for funds for an ailing board. Others still supposed it was a mistake, or an oversight. Why would an 18-year-old unknown, who has never played for Sri Lanka at Under-19 level, let alone any first-class or List A cricket, be picked for the national side? Dananjaya is the son of a carpenter from Panadura, just south of Colombo.  He had just played 3 one dayers and had 5 wickets in them – Pallekele, 24th Aug 2o17 was different – he was the Man of the Match.

Dananjaya had tied the knot less than 24 hours before the game at his hometown in Moartuwa (some 150 kilometers from Kandy) to childhood sweetheart Nethalie Tekshini. But instead of going on the honeymoon; he was back in the team hotel in Kandy that night ahead of the second ODI.   In one over he had  Kedar Jadhav, Virat Kohli and KL Rahul  foxed by the wrong-un  and completed his maiden five-wicket haul in the next over when Hardik Pandya came down the track, but the googly went through bat pad and settled in Niroshan Dickwella's gloves, allowing for a simple stumping. Dhananjaya wasn't finished yet, as he trapped Axar Patel leg before wicket with a ball that went straight on to reduce India to 131 for 7. Captain Upul Tharanga held back two of his overs, and was that a mistake ??

The cool veteran MSD was unfazed and this time he did not have to – as Bhuvneshwar Kumar played a dream knock, calm composed, laced with couple of clean hits, making his maiden 50 and bringing about a victory for India by three wickets, he would never forget this rain-hit night. From 131 for 7, through sheer force of will and fiendish common sense, he marshalled India towards their target. He had advice for those who would listen, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, in the course of a record-breaking eighth-wicket partnership of 100, certainly did.  Bhuvi becomes the 4th batsman   to score a half century at No. 9 in successful ODI chases. Bhuvneshwar Kumar joined James Faulkner, Thomas Odoyo and Brendon Mccullum in this feat. The pair added   100 - runs  for the eighth-wicket - highest for the eighth-wicket for India in ODIs.

1.       Getting back to that long name : Mahamarakkala Kurukulasooriya Patabendige Akila Dananjaya Perera - long names – are sort of common in Lanka - the Quiz Q was : this bowler has longer initials than his name (WPUJC Vaas) Warnakulasuriya Patabendige Ushantha Joseph Chaminda Vaas; then, here is some more -  Herath Mudiyanselage Rangana Keerthi Bandara Herath;  Dampalage Shehan Naveendra Fonseka Gunawardene Jayasuriya; Paththamperuma Arachchige Don Lakshan Rangika Sandakan; Balapuwaduge Manukulasuriya Amith Jeevan Mendis [Jeevan Mendis] ; Balapuwaduge Ajantha Winslow Mendis [Ajanta Mendis] 
2.       Akila had been spotted by CSK long back and was picked – but in 2013 there was politics spilling over with the State Govt pronouncing that Lankan players in Chennai matches are unwelcome and hence they could not play at home matches

With Regards – S. Sampathkumar

25th Aug 2017.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Do you use DigiLocker ! ~ how facile ..

All of us are keen to earn more ! ~ most  likely you have a ‘safe deposit locker’ with a bank … depending on the valuables that you have – as one’s riches increase, one is forced to  chose renting  a bigger sized one (may be some require a room and not a box !) ~  A safe deposit box -  is an individually secured container, usually held within a larger safe or bank vault. Safe deposit boxes are generally located in banks, post offices or other institutions. Safe deposit boxes are used to store valuable possessions,  (Gold, silver, diamond ornaments ….) precious metals, currency, marketable securities, important documents such as wills, property deeds, - things that  need protection from theft, fire, flood, tampering, or other perils.

This is no post on a Bank locker, how to get one, what to keep, whether they could be insured or not ! ~ but on my personal happiness in becoming part of crowd of - : 7835607 – belated attempt though !

It is -* DigiLocker *  - the "digital locker"  service operated by the Government of India that enables Indian citizens to store certain official documents on the cloud. The service is aimed towards reducing the need to carry physical documents, and is part of the PM Shri Narendra Modiji -led government's Digital India initiative.  It comes with huge 1 GB of storage space for storing  identification card issued by Government agencies, education certificates, PAN cards, driving license, vehicle ownership documents and some other documents.

To utilize this service, one  need to possess an Aadhar card.  For sign-up, actually, you require only a mobile no. with which you get an OTP – with which you can create your User ID & Password – and the link the Aadhar card later.  But pulling up the documents from the Issuing Agencies can be done only when you link your all important Aadhar card number.   

The beta version of the service was rolled out in February 2015, and should have taken the Nation by storm.  Today when checked it has 7835607 users including Yours Truly.  Now it allows students of ICSE board to store their class X and XII certificates in DigiLocker and share them with agencies as required.  A couple of banks and one General Insurance Company too have started providing access to documents in DigiLocker from within its net-banking application, allowing users to e-sign them and forward as needed.  The list includes Hospitals - Tata Memorial Hospital  planning to launch the use of DigiLocker for storing cancer patients' medical documents and test reports. According to a UIDAI architect, patients would be provided a number key, which they can share with another hospital to allow them to access their test reports.  What a facility it would turn out to be !

There is also an associated facility for e-signing documents. The service is intended to minimise the use of physical documents, reduce administrative expenses, provide authenticity of the e-documents, provide secure access to government-issued documents and to make it easy for the residents to receive services.  Sooner, DigiLocker will minimise the use of physical documents and provide authenticity to e-documents.
Issuers of documents will have the facility to upload and share these with any registered agency or department. The aim is to make it easy for agencies to share e-documents and minimise the use of physical ones.  Unlike, Online storage platforms like Google Docs and Dropbox where you have to scan and upload – in Digilocker it is pulling the document from the Original Issuing Agency thus adding the mark of authenticity.   You can store any other document too – it can be your Share scrips, MF, Insurance policies, medical reports, PAN, Voter ID cards, Birth / marriage certificates and more .. .. …

Targeted at the idea of paperless governance, DigiLocker is a platform for issuance and verification of documents & certificates in a digital way, thus eliminating the use of physical documents.  The platform has the following benefits:
1.         Citizens can access their digital documents anytime, anywhere and share it online. This is convenient and time saving.
2.         It reduces the administrative overhead of Government departments by minimizing the use of paper.
3.         Digital Locker makes it easier to validate the authenticity of documents as they are issued directly by the registered issuers.
4.         Self-uploaded documents can be digitally signed using the eSign facility (which is similar to the process of self-attestation).

In Digi terminology - Issued documents are e-documents issued by various government agencies in electronic format directly from the original data source and the URI (link) of these documents is available in the issued documents section of DigiLocker. Whereas uploaded documents are those e-documents uploaded directly by the DigiLocker user.  A requester, in the context of DigiLocker, is a government department that offers citizen services (the revenue department, a passport office or a municipality) or an organisation that requires documentation (banks, telcos, etc.).

So ~ do you have a digital locker account – or you could immediately visit : and sign up for one.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

23rd Aug 2017.

English version of Bhagawat Gita in 1784 .. .. impeachment and first hanging by British in India

Hastings,  is a New Zealand city and is one of the two major urban areas in Hawke's Bay, on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand. The city of Hastings and its outlying suburbs of Flaxmere and Havelock North are the principal settlements in the Hastings District. These main centres are surrounded by thirty-eight rural settlements, including Clive and Haumoana. Hastings District is a food production region. The fertile Heretaunga Plains surrounding the city produce stone fruits, pome fruit, kiwifruit and vegetables, and the area is one of New Zealand's major red wine producers.

Ever heard of M Nandakumar and his place in Indian history ? and have we read anytime of the impeachment of [or rather  a failed attempt between 1788 and 1795] of the first Governor-General of India in the Parliament of Great Britain ??  ~ and can you imagine who wrote  this edition of our Holy Bhagawat Geetha ?!?!?!?

Warren Hastings (1732 – 1818), was the first Governor of the Presidency of Fort William (Bengal), the head of the Supreme Council of Bengal, and thereby the first de facto Governor-General of India from 1772 to 1785.  Hastings was born in Churchill, Oxfordshire in 1732 to a poor father, Penystone Hastings, and a mother, Hester Hastings, who died soon after he was born. He joined the British East India Company in 1750 as a clerk and sailed out to India reaching Calcutta in August 1750.  At the time, British traders still operated at the whim of local rulers, and so Hastings and his colleagues were unsettled by the political turmoil of Bengal. 

When a  British expedition from Madras under Robert Clive arrived to rescue, Hastings served as a volunteer in Clive's forces as they retook Calcutta in January 1757. In 1758 Hastings became the British Resident in the Bengali capital of Murshidabad – a major step forward in his career – at the instigation of Clive.  After political turmoils and wars, Hastings resigned in December 1764 and sailed for Britain.  Over there, he lived lavishly ran up enormous debts, and  to restore his finances,  applied to the East India Company for employment. His application was initially rejected but later  secured  the position of deputy ruler at the city of Madras under Clive. He sailed from Dover in March 1769. On the voyage he met the German Baroness Imhoff and her husband. He soon fell in love with the Baroness and they began an affair, seemingly with her husband's consent. Hastings arrived in Madras shortly after the end of the First Anglo-Mysore War of 1767–1769, during which the forces of Hyder Ali had threatened the capture of the city. He was to rise to the level of Governor of East India company later in 1774. 

M Nandakumar, (1705 – 1775)  was a collector of taxes, more so a diwan for various areas in what is now West Bengal. He was India's first victim of hanging under British rule. He was appointed by the East India Company to be the collector of taxes for Burdwan, Nadia and Hoogly in 1764, following the removal of Warren Hastings from the post ! ~ history many a times is crucial and life comes in full circle - in 1773, when Warren Hastings was re-instated as governor-general of Bengal, Nandakumar brought accusations of peculation against him that were entertained by Sir Philip Francis and the other members of the Supreme Council of Bengal. However, Warren Hastings could overrule the Council's charges. Thereafter, in 1775 Warren Hastings brought charges of fraud against the Maharaja. The Maharaja was tried under Elijah Impey, India's first Chief Justice, and friend of Warren Hastings, he was found guilty, and hanged in Kolkata on 5 August 1775.

Life did not stop there .. .. .. Hastings, along with Sir Elijah Impey, the chief justice, were impeached by Parliament. They were accused by Burke (and later by Macaulay) of committing judicial murder; but Sir James Stephen, who examined the trial in detail, states that the indictment for forgery arose in the ordinary course, was not brought forward by Hastings, and that Impey conducted the trial with fairness and impartiality.  The Hastings was accused of misconduct during his time in Calcutta particularly relating to mismanagement and personal corruption. The prosecution was led by Edmund Burke and became a wider debate about the role of the East India Company and the expanding empire in India. The trial did not sit continuously and the case dragged on for seven years. When the eventual verdict was given Hastings was overwhelmingly acquitted. It has been described as "probably the British Isles' most famous, certainly the longest, political trial".

In what some who have not read history hail as a great judicial system that is legacy of British India -  Hastings trial was not just concluded for decades. The house sat for a total of 148 days over a period of seven years during the investigation. On 23 April 1795 the Lord Chancellor Lord Loughborough oversaw the delivery of the verdict. A third of the Lords who had attended the trial's opening had since died and only twenty-nine of the others had sat through enough of the evidence to be permitted to pronounce judgement.

However the trial ruined him financially leaving him with huge debts.  Hastings' successors as Governor General, beginning with Lord Cornwallis, were granted the much wider powers that Hastings had sought while in Calcutta.

Tidbit 1:  The Treaty of Madras was a peace agreement signed on 2 April 1769 between Mysore and the British(Lord Verelst) East India Company  brought an end to the First Anglo-Mysore War.  

2.   Warren Hastings took keen interest in translating the Bhagavad Gita into English, and as a result of his efforts the first English translation appeared in 1785. Warren Hastings wrote the introduction to the English translation of the Bhagavad Gita, dated 4 October 1784, from Benares.
3.  the city in New Zealand described in para 1 is named after Warran Hastings.
4.  remember that in Oct 2010 at Vizag one dayer – John Hastings made his debut alongside  Shikhar Dhawan, Saurabh Tiwary and Mitchell  Starc.
Interesting ! and should not we be learning the real  history than what we really learnt at school !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

23rd Aug 2017.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Quick brown fox jumps over ~ rare black fox sighted in UK !!

Dear (s)  :  Can you say which one of the following  is correct ?

1) The quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog.    OR..........
2) The quick brown fox jumped over a lazy dog.                                           (see the end)

Could be a difficult one for the new gen. But for old timers, this is a well known sentence.

Away, Foxes are small-to-medium-sized, omnivorous mammals belonging to several genera of the family Canidae. Foxes are slightly smaller than a medium-size domestic dog, with a flattened skull, upright triangular ears, a pointed, slightly upturned snout, and a long bushy tail. Foxes live on every continent except Antarctica. The global distribution of foxes, together with their widespread reputation for cunning, has contributed to their prominence in popular culture and folklore in many societies around the world. The hunting of foxes with packs of hounds, long an established pursuit in Europe, especially in the British Isles, was exported by European settlers to various parts of the New World.  They are generally brownish ~ and rarely all black !!

MailOnline reports that a driver was shocked to find one of the UK's rarest animals, the elusive black fox, had jumped into his van as he was loading up one day. Sam Houghton couldn't believe his eyes when the fox tried to clamber aboard his vehicle in Sale, Greater Manchester.  The black colouring is common on growing fox cubs before they grow their dark chestnut coat.

The rare black fox was spotted in Sale, Greater Manchester; some red foxes stick with their beautiful black fur because of a rare genetic glitch. To make that happen, both parents have to carry the rarer recessive melanic gene - that causes a black coat - but even then there is only a 1 in 4 chance of having a cub with a dark coat.

The man is quoted as saying that as they were loading up, the black fox came from nowhere and tried to jump into the van, taking them by surprise and scaring them too ! 'We were amazed when we saw it. We googled it and it was definitely a black fox. I couldn't believe it when it said it was one of the rarest animals in the UK.'  They got their composure and were able to photo the rare animal. 

A flurry of black fox sightings this year have given hope that they may be breeding. Five black foxes were spotted in Yorkshire this year which has led to claims that there may be a breeding pair in the county. It was thought the foxes spotted might be descendants of the famous 'Black Fox Bob' - only the fifth black fox confirmed sighting - who sadly died in Halifax last year.

'It is also possible that the appearance of melanism in UK foxes is natural and it is topography and inbreeding that is keeping the gene expressed in small communities. 'Melanistic animals are naturally bolder than their non melanistic counterparts, and now breeding season is over and weaning is about to begin it may be that the fox just felt the need to take advantage of what peoples gardens had to offer.' Before this year, there had only been five reported sightings of black foxes nationwide in five years.

They are the rarest animal in Britain, partly because they were extensively hunted for their fur in the past. In Gaelic tradition, black foxes are bringers of bad luck and in Medieval times, villages were afraid of seeing one, believing it was an omen of trouble or bad luck.

Now to the opening ~  ‘pangram’  contains all the alphabets and would help test out the new typewriters. The word ‘pangram’ comes from Greek, literal translation meaning every letter. The pangram at the start of the article is believed to have been in use for centuries and utilised by Western Union to test Telex / data communication equipment for accuracy and reliability. Number of computer programmes including MS Windows use this to display the available fonts. Of the two, the latter is not a pangram, as it does not have a ‘s’ in the sentence.

Fox News is an American basic cable and satellite television news channel owned by the Fox Entertainment Group, a subsidiary of 21st Century Fox. The channel broadcasts primarily from studios at 1211 Avenue of the Americas, New York City, New York. The channel was created by Australian-American media mogul Rupert Murdoch and was launched in Oct 1996. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
22nd Aug 2017.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Spanish Swimmer Fernando Álvarez makes the World listen to his call for 1 min silence !

Budapest is the capital and the most populous city of Hungary and one of the largest cities in the European Union. The history of Budapest began with Aquincum, originally a Celtic settlement  that became the Roman capital of Lower Pannonia. Hungarians arrived in the territory in the 9th  century. Following the Battle of Mohács and nearly 150 years of Ottoman rule, the region entered a new age of prosperity, and Budapest became a global city with the unification of Buda and Óbuda on the west bank with Pest on the east bank on November 17, 1873. Budapest also became the co-capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a great power that dissolved in 1918, following World War I. The city was the focal point of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, the Battle of Budapest in 1945, and the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.

FINA World Championship is now on at Budapest, FINA was founded in 1908  with 8 nations: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary and Sweden.  Four years later, women contested the aquatic events for the first time at Stockholm.  The last championship was held in 2015 in Russia and the 17th version is now on at Budapest. 

The death toll from the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils  is reported to be 15, although scores more were injured, many of them seriously.  The last known member of the Barcelona terror cell has been shot dead after he was cornered by armed police while wearing a fake suicide vest. Younes Abouyaaqoub was killed in a town 30 miles west of Barcelona, four days after he drove a van along the crowded tourist boulevard Las Ramblas, killing 13 people and injuring more than 130. Uncertain whether the vest he was wearing contained a real bomb or not, police deployed a robot to remove and examine the device, before confirming that it was fake.

Five other members of the cell – including Abouyaaqoub’s brother Houssaine - were shot dead by police in the coastal town of Cambrils early last Friday. They were each wearing fake suicide vests, possibly because they wanted to be shot dead rather than injured and arrested. The owners of a vineyard outside Subirats say police warned them to leave the property after they saw a car crossing their land at high speed. They then heard a helicopter overhead and a number of police cars racing to the area.

A 12-strong terror cell that carried out two deadly attacks in Spain had collected 120 gas canisters and was planning to use them in vehicle attacks, Spanish police say. Canisters were found at a house, said to be used by the cell, that blew up in the town of Alcanar on Wednesday night.

Getting back to FINA, today occurred an incredible moment when  a swimmer sacrificed World Championship glory to honour the victims of the terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils. Fernando Alvarez, from Cadiz, Spain, had asked organisers of the Masters World Championship to hold a minute's silence, but had his request refused. So when his fellow competitors in the 200-metre breaststroke race jumped into the pool, Mr Alvarez remained on the starting block for 60 seconds.

Swimming in the final of the men’s 200 backstroke at 17th  FINA Masters World Championships in Budapest on Saturday, Spain’s Fernando Álvarez paid a personal tribute to the victims of Thursday’s terrorist attack that killed at least 14 people and injured dozens more in Barcelona. Álvarez had asked FINA (the International Swimming Federation) to hold a one-minute period of silence before the start of his race, but he told the press that his request was denied. Álvarez, who swims with the club Natación Cadiz, was entered in the 50, 100 and 200 meter breaststroke events. He told El Español that after he swam the 100 breast on Friday, he asked FINA about a period of silence to honor the victims. But FINA denied his request, saying they couldn’t spare a minute from their timeline (“No se puede perder ni un minute” were his exact words to reporters).

So Álvarez decided to pay the tribute all alone. He stood on the block at the start of his heat of the 200 breast on Saturday morning, and after hearing the signal, he waited 60 seconds before starting his race. All soccer teams in the Spanish La Liga observed a minute of silence before their matches this weekend, and Álvarez thus joined his country’s tribute to the victims of the attacks. Álvarez’ time was not recorded, but as he explained to El Español, it didn’t matter at all. “I started a minute late. But that doesn’t matter. What I was feeling was more than if I had won all of the gold medals in the world.”

Álvarez still has the 50m breast to swim on Sunday. Mr Alvarez competes in masters swimming - a form of competitive swimming which includes swimmers aged 25 and upwards, with some competing into their 80s and 90s.  He may not have won, but has garnered the much needed attention to focus on what he wanted to !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

21st Aug 2017.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Venezuela ~ Oil and subsidies plunge Nation to deep crisis

At least 37 people were killed during clashes between armed inmates and security forces at a small prison in southern Venezuela.  Gov. Liborio Guarulla said the bloodshed came after fighting erupted between inmates and their jailers in the prison in Puerto Ayacucho, capital of sparsely populated Amazonas state. He said security forces raided the facility seeking to restore order in the prison, where the inmates had seized control several weeks ago.

A tapir  is a large, herbivorous mammal, similar in shape to a pig, with a short, prehensile nose trunk. Tapirs inhabit jungle and forest regions of South America, Central America, and Southeastern Asia.

Venezuela officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is a federal republic located on the northern coast of South America. It is bordered by Colombia, Brazil,  Guyana and the islands of Trinidad and Tobago.  The country has extremely high biodiversity with habitats ranging from the Andes Mountains in the west to the Amazon Basin rain-forest in the South.  The territory now known as Venezuela was colonized by Spain in 1522 amid resistance from indigenous peoples. In 1811, it became one of the first Spanish-American colonies to declare independence.

It is not in great shape and is in news for wrong reasons ! – the mounting crisis in Venezuela is entering a new chapter as President Nicolás Maduro's plans to rewrite the constitution face a pivotal vote.  Shortly, 545 seats in the new Constituent Assembly will be decided. The winners would essentially replace the current National Assembly, which is controlled by Maduro opponents -- who have called for a boycott of the vote. For months, opponents have taken to the streets to voice their frustration with Maduro's government. More than 100 people have died in connection with bloody protests. Chaos has consumed this country of astonishing natural beauty -- one that also possesses the largest proven oil reserves in the world. How did a potential paradise become so lost ?

While Venezuela has become a humanitarian and economic mess, it is worth looking at the one industry the Chavez and Maduro regimes relied on to bring wealth to their socialist country. With utter neglect of existing private industries like agriculture, and with reallocation of resources and wealth through centralized planning, the Venezuelan government has managed to bring hunger to its people. Venezuela became dependent on oil when it did not need to. Oil revenue fuelled Venezuela's economy under former President Hugo Chavez. When oil was $100 a barrel, billions flowed through the state-owned petroleum company and were siphoned off for social programs and food subsidies. But when oil prices fell dramatically, those massive subsidies became unsustainable. Simple Lessons for us too !! ~ don’t live on subsidies alone !!

Venezuela is split into Chavistas, the name given to the followers of the socialist policies of the late President Hugo Chavez, and those who cannot wait to see an end to the 18 years in power of his United Socialist Party (PSUV).  Chavistas praise the  men for using Venezuela's oil riches to markedly reduce inequality and for lifting many Venezuelans out of poverty. But the opposition says that since the PSUV came to power in 1999, the socialist party has eroded Venezuela's democratic institutions and mismanaged its economy. Chavistas in turn accuse the opposition of being elitist and of exploiting poor Venezuelans to increase their own riches. They also allege that opposition leaders are in the pay of the United States, a country with which Venezuela has had fraught relations in recent years.

~ and can a Nation plunge to this level ??  -  starving thieves steal animals from Venezuelan zoo to EAT as the country struggles with chronic food shortages reports MailOnline which adds that animals  of ten different species stolen from zoological park in Venezuela that  includes thefts of tapirs, buffalos and wild boar-like peccaries – the sad part is that authorities believe they are being taken from the park to be eaten !!

A wave of animal thefts in city of Maracaibo near the Colombian border - including tapirs and a buffalo - have been linked to the chronic food shortages in Venezuela. Most recently, two collared peccaries, similar in appearance to boars, were stolen over the weekend, local police say. The head of the Zulia Metropolitan Zoological Park in Maricabo said thefts in recent weeks had affected ten species. 'What we presume is that they (were taken) with the intention of eating them,' Luis Morales, an official for the Zulia division of the National Police, told reporters on Tuesday.

The chaotic collapse of the country's socialist economic model has created chronic food shortages that have fuelled malnutrition and left millions seeking food anywhere they can find it, including in trash cans and dumpsters. President Nicolas Maduro blames food shortages on opposition protests that have blocked streets and highways and a broader 'economic war' led by adversaries with the help of Washington. Leonardo Nunez, head of the Zulia Metropolitan Zoological Park, blamed 'drug dealers' for the thefts, saying they are selling them on the black market.

Shortages have also left zoos without sufficient food to feed animals, with some 50 animals starving to death last year at a Caracas zoos, according to a union leader. Sad state of affairs indeed ~ political parties would fight, their activists die for them – in the end the common man’s life becomes miserable – poor governance, no ethics – shambolic.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
17th Aug 2017.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Celebrating 71st Independence Day of Great India

The greatest day for all of us is 15th August ~ Indian Independence Day. Let us celebrate 71st Independence Day of the Nation in a grand manner.  70 years ago, it was on this day [rather night] – the Union Jack faded descended for one last time from the flagstaff of Viceroy’s house at New Delhi marking the symbolic end to imperialism and the awakening of the spirit of free India.

Winston Churchill passionately held the conviction that British rule in India had been just and exercised in India's best interests ! ; that her masses looked on their rulers with gratitude and affection; that the politicians agitating for independence were a petty-minded, half-educated elite, unreflective of the desires or interests of the masses. He contemptuously dismissed those fighting for freedom of India as 'men of straw'.

When the day beckoned,  Louis Mountbatten and his advisers, drawing on those manuals which had ordered all the grandiose manifestations of the Raj, had estimated 3o,ooo people would attend the celebrations. The figure was wrong, not by a few thousand but well over half a million. Never before had anyone ever seen anything remotely like it in India's capital city. 

இந்த உலகில் ‘சத்யம், தர்மம், அழகு, படிப்பு, வீரம், ஒழுக்கம் என்று எல்லா நல்ல குணங்கள் கொண்ட மனிதன் யாரேனும் உண்டா?’ என்று வால்மீகி முனிவர் கேட்க, நாரத பகவான் ‘உண்டு. அவர் தான் இக்ஷ்வாகு வம்சத்தில் வந்த தசரத குமாரர் ஸ்ரீராமர்’ என்று கூறி வால்மீகி முனிவருக்கு ராம சரித்திரத்தை சுருக்கமாக நூறு சுலோகங்களில் உபதேசித்தார். இது வால்மீகி ராமாயணத்தின் முதல் ஸர்கம்.

The great sage Valmiki wanted to know about that man – who is the epitome of all virtues ~ of Truth, Honesty, Beauty, Scholarliness, Valour and discipline ~  Omniscient Sage Narada replies that is *Maryadha purush Sri Rama*  Himself.   ~ and epic Ramayana was born…. The greatest Epic “Sri Ramayana” is a smriti [written from memory as seen and heard].. .. ..  The following phrase is a Sanskrit sloka uttered by Sri Rama Himself…

“Janani Janma-bhoomi-scha Swargadapi Gariyasi"जननी जन्मभूमिश्च स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी)  

~ it translates to mean “Mother and Motherland are superior to Heaven”.. This part of Valmiki Ramayana - Rama uttering this while addressing  Lakshmana  after their victory over (demon) king Ravana.

अपि स्वर्णमयी लङ्का मे लक्ष्मण रोचते जननी जन्मभूमिश्च स्वर्गादपि गरीयसी
"Lakshmana, even this golden Lanka does not appeal to me, mother and motherland are greater than heaven." 

Independence was granted by an Act – ‘The Indian Independence Act 1947’ passed by the  Parliament of the United Kingdom that partitioned British India into the two new independent dominions of India and Pakistan. The Act received the royal assent on 18 July 1947, and Pakistan came into being on 15 August at the same time as Indian independence. However, due to Mountbatten's need to be in New Delhi for the transfer of power, Pakistan celebrated its formation a day ahead on 14 August 1947 to enable the viceroy Lord Mountbatten to attend both events !  The legislation was formulated by the government of Prime Minister Clement Attlee and the Governor General of India Lord Mountbatten, after representatives of the Indian National Congress, the Muslim League, and the Sikh community came to an agreement with the Viceroy of India,  on what has come to be known as the 3 June Plan or Mountbatten Plan.

Independence was not achieved in a day ~ nor through a single enactment. The struggle and sacrifices encompass millions of activities right from 1757 spanning 190 years till 1947. Many names have been forgotten, many did not receive the honours their sacrifices deserve – may be due to doctored history. 

Triranga or the National Flag was first recognized in 1906 in Calcutta Meeting; the next occasion was in 1907 by Madame Cama; in 1917 Lokmanya Bala Gangatara Tilak and Annie Besant hoisted it; in 1931, it was the Tri-colour designed by Pingali Venkayya with Spinning wheel at its middle.

The National flag of India was adopted in its present form during a meeting of the Constituent Assembly held on 22 July 1947, when it became the official flag of the Dominion of India. The  term "tricolour" always refers to the Indian national flag. The flag is based on the Swaraj flag, a flag of the Indian National Congress designed by Pingali Venkayya. The flag, by law, is to be made of khadi, a special type of hand-spun cloth of cotton or silk made popular by Mahatma Gandhi. The manufacturing process and specifications for the flag are laid out by the Bureau of Indian Standards – the length should be 1.5 times more than the width.

Usage of the flag is governed by the Flag Code of India and other laws relating to the national emblems. The original code prohibited use of the flag by private citizens except on national days such as the Independence day and the Republic Day. In 2002, on hearing an appeal from  Naveen Jindal, the Supreme Court of India directed the Government of India to amend the code to allow flag usage by private citizens. Subsequently, the Union Cabinet of India amended the code to allow limited usage.  Karnataka Khadi Gramodyoga Samyukta Sangha (KKGSS) is a manufacturing federation located in the Bengeri area of the city of Hubli in the Karnataka, state of India. It is the only unit in India that is authorised to manufacture and supply the Flag of India.  

IN Capital New Delhi,  India Gate is a memorial to 82,000 soldiers of the undivided Indian Army who died in the period 1914–21 in the First World War, in France, Flanders, Mesopotamia, Persia, East Africa, Gallipoli and elsewhere in the Near and the Far East, and the Third Anglo-Afghan War. 13,300 servicemen's names, including some soldiers and officers from the United Kingdom, are inscribed on the gate. In 1971, following the Bangladesh Liberation war, a small simple structure, consisting of a black marble plinth, with reversed rifle, capped by war helmet, bounded by four eternal flames, was built beneath the soaring Memorial Archway. This structure, called Amar Jawan Jyoti, or the Flame of the Immortal Soldier, since 1971 has served as India's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

 Celebrating Indian Independence 
~  it is the time to celebrate the birth of this Great Nation and remember those great men whose martyrdom gave us the fresh air to breathe !!  Jai Hind..

With regards – S. Sampathkumar