Thursday, May 31, 2007

For sharp memory, eat chocolates

A chemical found in chocolate, tea, grapes and blueberries may boost memory by improving blood flow in the brain especially in combination with exercise, latest research suggests. The study, published in the American Journal of Neuroscience, was conducted on mice. The scientists now plan to study the effects of the chemical epicatechin on memory and brain blood flow in aged animals and then humans, combined with mild exercise. The food chemical epicatechin is one of a group of chemicals known as flavanols found in certain food items including chocolate, tea, grapes and blueberries. Earlier studies have already shown that the antioxidant compound flavanol could help improve cardiovascular health. Now the researchers, led by Henriette van Praag, working with chocolate firm Mars, compared mice that were fed a normal diet with those that were fed a diet supplemented with epicatechin. Half the mice in each group were allowed to run on a wheel for two hours each day and were trained to find a platform hidden in a pool of water, a month later. Those mice that exercised and ate the epicatechin diet remembered the location of the platform longer than the other mice. The epicatechin-fed mice who did not exercise also showed enhanced memory, but to a lesser degree. The mice on the special diet appeared to have greater blood vessel growth in certain parts of their brain, along with more mature brain nerve cells, the online edition of BBC News reported. "This is important because it identifies a single natural chemical with memory-enhancing effects, suggesting it may be possible to optimise brain function by combining exercise and dietary supplementation," Mark Mattson, a doctor at the US National Institute on Ageing, said. However, nutritionists warned chocolate is high in fat and sugar, which may undo any potential benefits. They recommended a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, with perhaps a small amount of chocolate.

Monday, May 28, 2007


Presidential election is about two months away. Poliical parties are in the process of finalising their candidates for thre top job. Many distinguished names are in the air, including that of incumbent President APJ Abdul Kalam, Lok Sabha speaker Som Nath Chaterji, Vice president Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, renowed Infosy chief Narayan Murthy, energy minister Sk Shinde, learned scholar Dr Karan Singh and a new entrant in the fray, foreign minister Pranab Mukherji. Undoubtedly they are all renowned and respected figures. In the din of electing next President, it needs to be kept in mind that the moment, the society in general and polity in particular are so polarised that only some mature person of integraity, totally apolitical and honest should be elected as the First Citizen of India. Through the above named worthies are all honourable personalities, yet APJ Abdul Kalam and Narayan Murthay are the most suitable. They are above controversies, apolitical and incorruptible.
Alternatively, political parties should reach consensus a;nd elect the next President uanimoulsy to avoid bitterness and unwanted divisions among various sections of people.

Friday, May 25, 2007

McDonald's says it's up to breakfast challenges

McDonald's Corp. said Thursday that it is prepared to defend the Egg McMuffin's 30-year reign as breakfast champion from an old rival and as many as three fast-food challengers.Jim Skinner, McDonald's chief executive, told shareholders attending its annual meeting at the company's Oak Brook headquarters that the chain is exploring expanding its dollar menu, currently limited to lunch items, to include the first meal of the day. That would counter Burger King's $1 breakfast menu and its version of the Egg McMuffin, a ham omelet sandwich.Breakfast is the fastest-growing category in the restaurant business, expanding at about 9 percent per year, as time-pressed consumers opt to grab something on the go rather than fix breakfast at home. McDonald's holds about a 40 percent market share in the breakfast category.In addition to Burger King, McDonald's soon could be facing increased competition from Subway, Taco Bell and Wendy's, all of which are testing breakfast products.Wendy's has said that its breakfast test, at 160 restaurants, is to be expanded to 20 percent to 30 percent of its 6,600 restaurants by the end of the year.Subway is testing a toasted breakfast sandwich at 7,000 outlets that offer breakfast, while Taco Bell is testing a breakfast program in four markets. No date has been set for either to expand nationally.Taco Bell spokesman Rob Poetsch said the chain, which is offering breakfast burritos and soft tacos, wants to "distinguish ourselves from the biscuit and muffin crowd."McDonald's is facing competition at breakfast from Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks, which are better known for their coffee than their food.Ralph Alvarez , McDonald's chief operating officer, warned the newcomers would find it is more difficult to deliver breakfast than it is to develop the menu."Breakfast is not as easy as it appears," he said, citing a host of challenges ranging from staffing and training to choosing restaurant locations."Driver's don't make left turns," he said, explaining that breakfast diners are in such a hurry they might stop at only the most convenient locations.Bob Goldin, executive vice president of Technomic Inc., a food research and consulting company, said the challengers are not likely to have much impact on McDonald's breakfast business."McDonald's is going to fiercely defend its well-earned turf," he said. "It has earned a tremendous amount of equity in the business that is going to be tough to dent."In addition, Goldin noted that the company is going to become more formidable when it rolls out a 24-hour breakfast menu.McDonald's is testing grill systems in Romeoville that would allow its operators to offer breakfast around the clock, rather than the current system that requires them to stop breakfast to make way for its burgers."We feel pretty good about breakfast," said Don Thompson, president of McDonald's USA.The comments about breakfast came as the world's largest restaurant chain, which slowed growth in 2003 to about 1 percent annually to focus efforts on expanding sales at existing restaurants, is planning to increase the speed of its expansion to about 1.3 percent annually. The company is planning to add 800 new restaurants and remodel 2,000 worldwide this year.Most of that growth is to be concentrated in Russia and China, where the mantra has become "better and bigger," said Tim Fenton, head of McDonald's Asia, Middle East and Africa business. The company plans to add 100 restaurants, a 12 percent growth rate, this year in China, where it runs about 800 outlets.In the U.S., growth is to be limited to about 200 new restaurants, said Matthew Paull, executive vice president and chief financial officer. McDonald's operates 13,800 units domestically. ----------

Babies can tell between languages

At four months, babies may be too young to speak or crawl, but they can certainly tell when a speaker has switched to a different language – with only visual cues. Researcher Whitney Weikum from the University of British Columbia found that infants are able to discern when a different language is spoken by watching the shapes and rhythm of the speaker's mouth and face movements. The findings suggest that babies growing up in a bilingual environment advantageously maintain the discrimination abilities needed for separating and learning multiple languages. As a part of the study Weikum and colleagues tested three groups of infants – ages four, six and eight months – from monolingual English homes and two groups of infants –ages six and eight months – from bilingual homes. They showed each group silent video clips of three bilingual French-English speakers, who recited sentences first in English or French, and then switched to the other language. Their findings suggest that visual information alone will prompt the babies at four and six months to pay closer attention and watch the video for a longer period when the speakers switch languages. "We already know that babies can tell languages apart using auditory cues. But this is the first study to show that young babies are prepared to tell languages apart using only visual information," says Weikum. The researchers found that six-month-old babies from both bilingual French-English and monolingual English homes could tell the languages apart visually. These groups would watch the video clips for a significantly longer period if the speaker switched languages. However, by eight months, only babies from a bilingual French-English home and familiar with both languages were able to tell the languages apart visually. "This suggests that by eight months, only babies learning more than one language need to maintain this ability. Babies who only hear and see one language don't need this ability, and their sensitivity to visual language information from other languages declines."

Saturday, May 5, 2007


Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, steel baron Lakshmi Mittal and Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi figure in Time magazine’s coveted list of 100 most influential people, which also includes Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
But missing from the list for the first time in four years is US President George W. Bush.
In a write up on Gandhi, who is also on the cover of the magazine’s Asia edition, Time says in the 16 years since the death of her husband, she had become the face of the country’s most famous family and as leader of the Congress party, she has managed the largest political party in the country and steered it to victory.
When her party won national elections in 2004, she was offered the post for prime minister; she listened to her “inner voice” and turned it down, and anointed the economist Manmohan Singh in her stead, the magazine recalled.
For ordinary Indians, this act of renunciation held tremendous mythic resonance. Though Singh is Prime Minister, it is Sonia (60), who is the kingmaker.
The list also features Queen Elizabeth II, Sudanese President Mohamed Omar Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir, acting Cuban President Raul Castro, Iranian Supreme leader Atyatollah Ali Khamenei, Chinese President Hu Jintao, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Pope Benedict XVI.
Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barrack Obama, who are fighting for Democratic nomination for the next year’s US presidential election, secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and outspoken and staunch critic of President Bush, house speaker Nancy Pelosi are among the Americans who find their names on the list.
This year’s list features people from 27 countries, including 29 women and 71 men. But Americans predominate, constituting 54 among the 100 and Britain follows with ten.
Releasing the list, deputy managing editor Adi Iqnatius said the list contains both people who had good effect and evil influence in the world and that explains bin Laden being on the list.
Replying to question, Iqnatius agreed that the selection is subjective, adding that there were several other influential people. But the magazine had to make the make the selection, which is based on varied criteria.
Initially, the list had 1000 names, which were pared down to 100. But he conceded that predominance of Americans could be due to the fact that the magazine is located in New York.
Time magazine compares Lakshmi Mittal, CEO of Arcelor Mittal, with Scottish-American Industrialist Andrew Carnegie, who consolidated steel industry in the US and is widely respected as a philanthropist, saying Mittal appears to reincarnation of Carnegie.
“Both gave notoriously glamorous parties. Carnegie was, and Mittal is, famously generous and charitable, although Mittal has given millions of dollars without fanfare to tsunami relief and other causes,” Time said of the two steel magnates.
Yet arguably, Mittal (56) overshadows Carnegie in some ways. Carnegie’s US Steel was the first American company to achieve a 1 billion dollar market capitalisation. Arcelor Mittal seems likely to become the world’s first 100 billion dollar market-cap steel company, the write up notes.
The geographic scope of Arcelor Mittal, with 320,000 employees in 60 countries, also vastly exceeds the US Steel’s.
In a write-up on Nooyi, Time magazine said, the shocking thing isn’t who she is but the world she has inherited. “Globalism was not new when she joined PepsiCo more than a decade ago but the global part has changed. As Pepsi’s strategist, she’s a former management consultant, Nooyi helped position PepsiCo for growth in China, the Middle East and her native India,” the write up notes.

Doing good makes you feel good

Now you have more than one reason to tell the world why your friend is one in a million – that is, if you are one of those who feel friendship is all about caring and sharing. A study suggests that being good to others adds meaning to your life, and makes you happy. Michael Steger, a psychologist at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, has always been amazed by how differently people lead their lives. Pat Tillman, for example, left the NFL to enlist in the Army and fight in Iraq and later Afghanistan (where he was killed), Steger said, but Paris Hilton continually pursues “a public life of shallowness.” Steger couldn’t help but wonder which behaviour makes people happier – seeking pleasure or doing good? To find out, he and his colleagues asked a group of 65 undergraduates to complete an online survey each day for three weeks that assessed how times they participated in hedonic, or pleasure-seeking behaviours, versus meaningful activities, such as helping others, listening to friends’ problems and/or pursuing one’s life goals. The surveys asked the subjects how much purpose they felt their lives had each day and whether they felt happy or sad. The subjects also completed two sets of questionnaires at the beginning and end of the study to assess how they felt about their lives more generally. They found that the more people participated in meaningful activities, the happier they were and the more purposeful their lives felt. Pleasure-seeking behaviours, on the other hand, did not make people happier. Realising that some people may feel guilty about reporting pleasure-seeking behaviours, Steger and his colleagues then modified the survey questions slightly to make them seem less exceptionable, and asked a new group of students to perform the study again, this time over a four-week period. The psychologists got the same results. “A lot of times we think that happiness comes about because you get things for yourself,” said Richard Ryan, a psychologist at the University of Rochester, who was not involved in the study. “But it turns out that in a paradoxical way, giving gets you more, and I think that’s an important message in a culture that’s pretty often getting messages to the opposite effect.” In order to make sure that the relationship between happiness and doing good wasn’t the other way around – that happiness instead leads people to do good things – the researchers looked at which tended to come first. They found that the subjects became happier after they did something good, suggesting that happiness does, in fact, come about as a result of doing good things. The results of the study, to be published in the Journal of Research in Personality, present an “enormously optimistic picture of people, that as a cynic, I was very happy to see,” said Steger.

'Time is running out'

From nuclear power to reforestation to better toasters, the world now has a game plan from climate experts for fighting global warming, a report their chief scientist says will have a ''profound influence'' on coming negotiations.
American officials questioned the economic cost, and the Chinese questioned whether fast results could be achieved. But a leading expert said there was little choice.
''If we continue doing what we are doing now, we are in deep trouble,'' said Ogunlade Davidson, co-chairman of the U.N.-sponsored group that produced the report, approved by consensus by more than 120 nations Friday at the end of a weeklong meeting.
A summary said the world must significantly cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by sharply improving energy efficiency in buildings, vehicles and even kitchen appliances; shifting from fossil fuels to nuclear, wind, solar and other renewable energy sources; saving forests as ''carbon sinks,'' and capping agricultural emissions. The document says the world has the technology and wealth to act in time to avoid a sharp rise in temperatures.
The assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change builds on reports by two other IPCC working groups issued earlier this year. The Working Group III study looks in detail at the most promising technologies for reining in the heat-trapping gases and at policies, such as taxes or quotas on carbon emissions, that might encourage development of the technologies. It also looks at how much that might cost economies.
It estimates the world must stabilize the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by 2015 at 445 parts per million to keep global temperatures from rising 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels. Scientists fear temperatures higher than that might cause severe damage. Current atmospheric concentrations are thought to have passed 400 parts per million.
''Time is running out,'' said Olav Hohmeyer, a German delegate.
Global talks resume in December.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Good Boy, Bad Boy

Good Boy, Bad Boy is a Bollywood film scheduled to be released in 2007 and the film is directed by Ashwini Chaudhary. The movie stars Emraan Hashmi, Isha Sharvani, Tusshar Kapoor, Tanushree Dutta and Paresh Rawal. This film is produced by Subhash Ghai under the banner of Mukta Arts Ltd. Chilean-Indian model Jennifer Mayani is also the film playing the role of Jenny.
Rajan Malhotra is a proverbial bookworm, forever lost in studies and completely oblivious to the frolicking of a college dude. He hails from a well to do background and his parents are constantly worried due to his somber nature and his lack of interest in any extra curricular activities.
While Raju Malhotra has absolutely no time for studies as playing notorious pranks on others takes up most of his time on a daily basis. His father constantly ridicules him for his wayward ways...

Heat Is On

Our goal is to pursue growth with monetary stability" is typically a standard line in most official statements on monetary policy. Quite significantly, the growth objective played a noticeably subordinate role in the RBI's annual monetary policy, released by RBI governor Y V Reddy a few days ago. This is consistent with the recent policy measures announced by the central bank. These measures have all been designed to bring inflation under control, even at the cost of a possibly lower rate of growth in the short run. Perhaps, the pursuit of growth is not the main concern of policy-makers today because the Indian economy has been growing remarkably rapidly over a fairly long period of time. More importantly, the economy has been growing pretty much on its own without much assistance from government. During much of this period, growth was accompanied with price stability. However, in recent months, the economy has been exhibiting classic signs of 'overheating' with high growth accompanied by a rate of inflation that has now exceeded 6 per cent. In somewhat simplistic terms, 'overheating' occurs when excess demand in the economy pushes up prices because supply falls short of demand. This phenomenon is most likely to occur when an economy is growing very fast, and that too over a sustained period. A very likely consequence of this sustained high rate of growth is that industries begin to operate at close to full capacity, and so are not able to increase supply in the short run even though they realise that there is sufficient demand in the economy to mop up additional quantities. Even in sectors where industries operate below capacity, infrastructural cons-traints may prevent any expansion of output. Governments and central banks have limited policy options in correcting an overheated economy. Since an excess of demand over supply is the root cause of overheating, corrective measures must either reduce demand or increase supply. But, if it is the absence of adequate capacity that is constraining supply, then there is very little that government can do to increase supply, at least in the short run. In recent months, the surge in food prices accounts for a large component of the overall inflation. Government has adopted some limited steps to augment food supply. The ban on export of food items will have some beneficial impact on domestic food supply, although the quantitative effect may be limited since current wheat exports have not been very high in any case. In addition, only the more expensive varieties of wheat are typically exported, and hence there may not be any increase in domestic supply of the more common varieties of wheat. Government has also taken some direct steps to abate the price rise. Most important of these has been reduction in the prices of petroleum and diesel. Fuel is an important component of the overall price index, and so any reduction in fuel prices has an immediate direct impact on prices. Moreover, any reduction in their prices has an important indirect effect since this reduces transportation costs. This in turn brings down the cost of a wide variety of items of common consumption. The RBI's recent efforts have focused on controlling aggregate demand. And it is here that some fine-tuning becomes necessary. Efforts to reduce the availability of credit are the textbook remedy to curtail aggregate demand. However, a large reduction in credit supply may constrain the expansion plans of entrepreneurs and thereby have a negative effect on the prospects of long-run growth. Increasing globalisation also creates its own problems for monetary policies designed to curb inflation. Indeed, Reddy has identified the surge in net inflows of foreign exchange as the main concern of monetary policy today. We have now accumulated an excessively large stock of foreign exchange reserves. The continuing inflow of foreign exchange essentially means that the world demand for rupees exceeds its supply. If the RBI does not intervene in the foreign exchange market, this excess demand would cause the rupee to appreciate relative to other foreign currencies. Any appreciation in the external value of the rupee makes Indian exports less competitive in foreign markets, and hence reduces exports. As readers probably know, the rupee has appreciated almost 10 per cent against the dollar in recent times. Not surprisingly, the Indian export sector has not been doing too well during this period.

'Google best workplace for MBA grads'

After jumping from 129th in 2005 to 2nd in 2006 and to Numero Uno this year, Google, the most popular search engine is now the most popular place to work for MBA students, thus ending McKinsey & Company's 12-year reign. Google also appears in the top ten in all industry rankings (from investment banking to healthcare). Below some of the key findings of The Universum IDEAL(TM) Employer Survey- MBA Edition 2007 conducted by Universum, global employer branding leader helping companies, through research and consulting, understand and develop their Employer Brand Image and Employer Value Proposition. 5,451 MBA students participated in the MBA Edition of The Universum IDEAL Employer(TM) Survey, making it the largest survey of its kind. Students were asked to rank their IDEAL(TM) Employers as well as to answer questions about their career expectations, including IDEAL Employer characteristics, preferred location, salary expectations, top industries and best internships communications preferences. Despite Google's new strength as the overall IDEAL(TM) employer, McKinsey is still the number 1 employer among men MBAs. Goldman Sachs (3) maintained its position in the top 10. Bain & Co. (4), BCG (5), Apple (6), Microsoft (7), GE (8), Nike (9) and Bank of America (10) round out the list. McKinsey maintains its 1st position as the top employer in management consulting. Google jumped to the fourth position, preceded by BCG (number 2) and Bain & Company (number 3). Goldman Sachs still number 1 among students choosing a career in investment banking followed by Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers, JPMorgan IB and Merrill Lynch. Bank of America replaced Citigroup as the number 1 IDEAL employer among MBA students interested in commercial banking. IT companies went up overall. Google maintained its number 1 position. Apple (6) moved up from seventh position in 2006, while Microsoft (7) jumped from the 16th position. Procter & Gamble, Google, PepsiCo, Nike and BCG make the top 5 for students interested in consumer goods. Starbucks pushed 8 positions from 15th to 7th. GE is still the number 1 among students who selected engineering/manufacturing followed by Toyota, Apple, J&J and BCG. Intel, number 2 in 2006, fell 15 positions while companies like Honeywell and Boeing pushed up in the top 10.

Diabetes may hit male fertility

Diabetes may be damaging men's sperm, which could affect their fertility, British researchers said. In one of the first studies to compare DNA in sperm from diabetic and non-diabetic men, the researchers found more DNA damage in sperm cells of men with diabetes — a possible sign of reduced fertility. Researchers at Queen's University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, studied sperm from 27 men with type-1 diabetes, with an average age of 34, and 29 non-diabetic men of similar age. They found that while semen volume was lower in diabetic men, all other measures including sperm concentration, output, form, structure and ability to move appeared normal. But when they looked at the DNA, they found much more damage in the sperm of diabetic men. Sperm damage can impair male fertility and has been associated in couples with a history of miscarriages, they wrote in the journal Human Reproduction. They recruited their volunteers from a centre for endocrinology in Belfast and among men who had sought to have their fertility tested. Type-1 diabetes, also called juvenile diabetes, is caused when the body mistakenly destroys cells in the pancreas that secrete insulin. The more common type-2 diabetes is linked with obesity, poor diet and lack of exercise. Because the volunteers who were not diabetic were men seeking fertility treatment, the researchers said they may also have more damaged sperm than the average man. "Any significant differences demonstrated between diabetic men and this control group would be of even greater significance if compared with a fertile population," they wrote. The researchers said the study was small and more research was needed to understand just how diabetes damages sperm and what it might mean

Wednesday, May 2, 2007


Couples at a group wedding in Nanjing in China's eastern Jiangsu Province. The week-long May Day holiday introduced by China's government in 1999 has proven to be a popular time for couples to get married.

Eat pistachios for a healthy heart

Eating pistachio nuts could keep heart disease at bay, says a study.
One of the oldest edible nuts on the planet, the pistachio nut is believed to have originated in the Middle East where it grew wild for thousands of years. The nuts are now available across the globe in roasted, salted, shelled and unsalted forms.
Like all nuts, pistachios are an excellent source of protein. They are thought to be rich in nutrients that appear to lower cholesterol and keep arteries healthy, reported the online edition of Daily Mail.
Penny Kris-Etherton and other researchers at the Pennsylvania State University asked volunteers to supplement a low fat diet with pistachios. Some ate 1.5 ounces of the nut a day, while others had double that amount, either alone as a snack or incorporating them into cereal, muffins and pesto sauce. A third group did not eat any pistachios.
After just a month, cholesterol levels were significantly lower among the pistachio eaters. Those who ate the most nuts experienced the biggest decrease in cholesterol, the researchers said.
A handful or two of pistachio nuts a day could keep heart disease at bay, the study suggests.
"Our study has shown that pistachios, eaten with a healthy heart diet, may decrease a person's cardiovascular disease risk profile," Etherton said.
Pistachios are rich in an antioxidant called lutein, usually found in green leafy vegetables and brightly coloured fruit. Present at higher levels in the pistachio than other nuts, lutein helps prevent cholesterol from clogging up arteries.
Experts say it is best to eat unsalted rather than salted pistachios as too much salt can raise blood pressure. However, both types should have the same effect on cholesterol.

Delhi's first water baby surfaces

The normal versus caesarean delivery debate now has a new angle to it: Water. Water birthing, a procedure in which a woman delivers in a basin or tub of warm water, is becoming increasingly popular in the west. It recently made its first inroad in Delhi when a city hospital conducted its first ‘experiment’ with water birth. And doctors at the hospital say one of the factors that caused them to try it out, albeit with the mother’s consent, is the rising rate of C-secs in the city. Charlotte Walter, a city-based British national, delivered underwater at Phoenix Hospital in Greater Kailash under the supervision of gynaecologist and infertility expert Dr Urvashi Sehgal on April 28. Both mother and baby – a bonny girl who weighed 2.9 kilograms at birth – are reported to be doing fine. Charlotte, according to Dr Sehgal, was in labour for five hours. "The rates of caesarean sections in the city are higher than ever before. This is a situation which has been bothering me for quite a while and I believe one important factor in this is the fear of prolonged labour pain. Water birthing can go a long way in assuring women who go for voluntary C-secs to ensure better health for themselves and their babies," Dr Sehgal said. The hospital had been toying with the idea of water birthing for three years now, said child birth educator Divya Deshpande, who works with the hospital. "Initially we did not have the infrastructure. The pool is a little different from a normal one because the height has to be enough for the women to be completely submerged to get the buoyancy," said Divya.

400 kids fall ill after inhaling paint

The owner of a furniture company has been arrested for allegedly using benzene-laden paint which resulted in the hospitalisation of over 400 school students in northeast China's Liaoning Province. Investigators said the owner of Panjin Yixian School Facility factory tried to cut cost by using paint meant for outdoor use on furniture supplied to the Shalingzhen School since April 24. The fumes caused sickness among the children who complained nausea, headaches, dizziness and weakness of limbs. Ten children were reported to be still in the hospital on Tuesday, all of them in a stable condition. Tests by the Panjin Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision (PBQTS) showed that benzene concentration emitted from the desks and chairs was 1.12 times higher than the recommended safety level. Officials also examined unsold furniture in the factory and found that benzene concentration was 9.7 times higher than the safety level. Earlier, tests by the PBQTS indicated formaldehyde concentrations in the classrooms were double the legal limit of 0.1 milligrams per cubic meter. But officials said the symptoms of formaldehyde poisoning, sore throat, coughing and irritation of eyes, were different to the symptoms suffered by the school children. The local government has directed the primary section of the school to suspend classes.

Ta Ra Rum Pum

Siddharth Anand's Ta Ra Rum Pum plays on every human's ultimate fantasy to conquer against all odds and take home the trophy. Here the trophy stands as a metaphor for the realisation of one's most precious dreams. And that is precisely what makes Ta Ra Rum Pum a universal subject to identify with and feel for.
After the runaway success of Salaam Namaste, director Siddharth Anand’s Ta Ra Rum Pum is a YashChopra Production. Needless to say, this one has Saif Ali Khan and Rani Mukherjee in the lead. The film carries a social message for all without losing the commercial aspect of Yash Raj films. Ta Ra Rum Pum’s story is about love, inspiration and the 'never say die' spirit.
Saif plays Ranveer aka RV in the film. He starts out as a pit stop tyre changer and goes on to make it big with the help of Harry (Jaaved Jaffery), his manager. No Egglactly from Jaaved this time. He is seen a meticulously crafted serious role. He falls in love with Shona aka Radhika (Rani Mukherjee). He gets an opportunity to show some moves along with Radhika in the romantic numbers. Success follows soon and he becomes the number 1 race car driver in U.S.A. as well as the proud father of two kids, Priya (Angelina Idnani) and Ranveer (Ali Haji).
Mr Hero beomes irresponsible and takes a huge loan to buy a Merc and a lavish house. Fate changes and Saif has great fall from his career heights due to an accident. He is left jobless and bankrupt. Mad in love, Radhika had left her education incomplete and the consequence is that she has to work in a low profile job.
Vishal-Shekhar are back to give another hit to the masses with their melody. The soundtrack offers no surprises and has a typical Yash Raj feel in all its songs.
Saif Ali Khan indispensable. His spontaneity is utterly disarming and distracting. He plays RV -- a huge racing star, with amusement as if to say 'big deal' not losing his boyishness even during stressful times. Rani enacts the role of the mother/wife proficiently. Jaaved Jaaferi is first-rate in a serious role. Bharat Dabholkar is efficient. Victor Banerjee suits the character. Shruti Seth is alright. Angelina Idnani and Ali Haji are adorable. Director Siddharth Raj Anand is only getting better with every film.
Overall, Ta Ra Rum Pum is a feel-good family entertainer with good looking actors, thrilling car chases, playful melodies (Vishal-Shekhar) and pretty

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

One more PUMPKIN

Justin and Lia Watt of Plainfield are waiting for The Great Pumpkin and hoping for a great Bears season!