Saturday, August 23, 2008

Biden to be running mate of Obama

DEMOCRAT PRESIDENTIAL candidate today ended speculations over his running mate for 2008 presidential elections. Barack Obama has chosen Delaware Senator, an experienced politician, Joe Biden as his vice presidential running mate. This pick is designed to shore up the Illinois senator’s foreign policy credentials in advance of the November election against John McCain, as confirmed by a Democratic source. Biden had been considered the front-runner for the job in recent weeks, a position confirmed by a last-minute, unscheduled trip last weekend to meet the Georgian President.

News of the pick was reported in advance of Obama’s campaign plan, which is scheduled for Saturday. The announcement was given out to supporters via email and text message. Biden ’s selection ended a two-month search that was conducted almost entirely in secret.

First elected to the Senate in 1972 at the age of 29, Biden has not been seriously challenged since then which is a reflection of the Democratic roots of the state and Biden’s skillfulness as a politician. Biden was born in Scranton, grew up in the suburbs of Wilmington, Delaware, and went to Syracuse Law School. He also was, as a young man, in the centre of a gripping family drama. Barely a month after he was elected to the Senate, his wife and their three children were in a car accident with a drunken driver which resulted in the death of his wife and a daughter. His two sons survived and Biden remarried five years later.

Long rumoured as a candidate for national office, Biden launched a presidential bid in 1987 that was gaining traction until a video was leaked to the press that showed striking similarities between a speech by Biden and an address by British Labour Party politician Neil Kinnock. Biden sought to beat back the controversy but subsequent allegations about plagiarism and resume inflation in law school forced him from the contest.

Biden was subsequently stricken in early 1988 by a brain aneurysm from which he recovered fully. Once his health improved, Biden threw himself back into the day to day working of the Senate where he chaired the high profile Judiciary Committee from 1987 until 1995. In that role, he chaired the controversial Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas. Biden has also served several stints as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a perch from which he has emerged as one of the leading voices in the Democratic Party on foreign policy matters.

Two decades after his first bid for presidency, Biden tried again in 2007 but could not gain momentum due to the presence of both Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton in the contest but acquitted himself well in the eyes of the Democratic establishment. Biden proved that the charisma that had recommended him as a rising star in the 1980s was still very much part of his political portfolio; he also excelled in the myriad debates held among the Democratic aspirants during the primary season.

For Obama, the Biden pick is a sign that he and his campaign believe that foreign policy matters will be the front and centre issues in the fall election. Biden brings the Democratic ticket immediate gravitas on issues ranging from the war in Iraq to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Georgia.

McCain’s campaign shows that he believes Obama’s experience in public life ill suits him to handle the complex world situation into which the next president will immediately step. Biden, a serious politician with a far deeper resume than Obama, will complicate, if not entirely blunt, Republican attacks on Obama’s suitability for top post.

N-Deal: NSG meet inconclusive

INDIA WILL have to wait a few more days to get some conclusive stand of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), as the crucial two-day meeting of NSG called to consider whether to allow India to conduct civil nuclear trade ended on August 22, 2008 without a decision.

The group is expected to be convened again on September 4, to take a final decision.

After intense deliberations over the move that will end India’s 34-year-old isolation in civil nuclear commerce, diplomats said no final decision could be arrived at. More discussions are required and for that purpose the NSG is expected to be convened again in September, they said.

The meeting was positive.... Many delegates raised some questions and the US is pleased (with that). I remain optimistic and we will continue to make progress, John Rood, leader of the US delegation at the NSG meet told reporters after the two-day discussions.

The discussions remained inconclusive as some members raised questions over the move to grant waiver to India since it is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Indications that the decision could be delayed surfaced during the day when US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher said in Mumbai that some amendments would be made to the draft waiver moved at the NSG.

Keen on an unconditional waiver from the NSG, India on Thursday held a special briefing for the member countries on the sidelines of the group’s meet to allay apprehensions over the initiative. Three countries -- Switzerland, Austria and New Zealand -- raised questions during the briefing asking why the exemption should be made for India which is not a signatory to NPT.

They also voiced their apprehensions over the nuclear test issue.

Responding to the questions, the Indian delegation led by Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon cited New Delhi’s impeccable track record on non-proliferation front despite not being a signatory to the NPT. The Indian delegation is also understood to have pointed out that India already has in place strict export control rules to prohibit transfer of nuclear technology and fuel to ineligible entities.

Sources said the representatives of the respective member countries will take back home the outcome of the deliberations to get approval from their governments.

India has made it clear that it is willing for clean waiver, nothing less, while some countries feel that India should be brought into Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and NPT net.

Most of the members of NSG are said to be in favour of Indo-US civil nuclear deal but decisions in NSG meets are taken with general consensus and for that every members concerns are to be addressed.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Beijing Olympics: All eyes on Vijender now

BOXER VIJENDAR Kumar started a new era in Indian sports on Wednesday (August 20), when he entered the semifinal of men’s 75kg middle weight category of the boxing event in Olympics. Vijender, the Bhiwani boxer, defeated Carlos Gongora of Ecuador in the quarterfinal with the final score 9-4.

By winning the match Vijender has assured another medal for India.

Vijender had a good start, winning the opening round 2-0. He also pocketed the second round 2-1. The third round also went to him 3-2 and so did the fourth 2-1.

Vijender stormed into the last eight after overwhelming Angkhan Chomphuphuang of Thailand 13-3 in a lop-sided pre-quarterfinal bout on Saturday (August 16).

Earlier, he thoroughly dominated his opening bout against Gambia’s Jack Badou, scoring a 13-2 win.

With one gold (of shooter Abhinav Bindra) and one bronze (of wrestler Sushil Kumar) and one yet undecided medal of Vijender, makes it India’s best ever performance in Olympic Games.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Usain Bolt : The fastest man on earth

IT WAS something about true Olympic spirit when 100 metre race was concluded in Beijing, something about fast, faster and fastest at the track when Usain Bolt of Jamaica kept on being the fastest man on earth with a new world record in 100 metre race. He won the Men’s 100metre gold medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, with bettering his own world record of 9.72 seconds and setting new heights at 9.69 seconds. Silver medalist Richard Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago ran a time of 9.89 seconds, leaving American Walter Dix to take the bronze in a time of 9.91 seconds. The Olympic record stood at 9.84 seconds, set by Donovan Bailey at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.

Hot favourite Asafa Powell, favourite in Athens 2004 and last year’s world champion, failed to live up to the expectation both the times, and again cracked under the pressure, finishing fifth and 0.26 seconds behind his arch-rival Bolt.

world champion, Tyson Gay failed to qualify after running a time of 10.05 seconds in the semifinals. Gay was America’s best chance for gold.

The gold medalist, who started celebrations by raising his arms before the finish line, explained his early celebration, "As soon as I saw I had covered the field and I knew I would win, I was very happy and I started to celebrate."

Final results of the Olympic Men’s 100metre:

1. Usain Bolt – Jamaica 9.69 seconds, world record
2. Richard Thompson - Trinidad/Tobago 9.89 seconds PB
3. Walter Dix -America 9.91 seconds PB
4. Churandy Martina - Netherlands Antilles 9.93 seconds NR
5. Asafa Powell – Jamaica 9.95 seconds
6. Michael Frater – Jamaica 9.97 seconds PB
7. Marc Burns - Trinidad/Tobago 10.01 seconds
8. Darvis Patton - America 10.03 seconds

Haryana showers prizes on boxers

THE HARYANA government has showered prizes on it players competing at the ongoing Olympics. They are yet to win a medal but Akhil Kumar and Jitender, finalist and quarter finalist in the boxing event, have been rewarded Rs 25 lakh each by the State government. Lavishing praise on Akhil and Jitender for putting up such a fine performance, Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said the medal-winning boxers among the three would be made Deputy Superintendent of Police. Jitender and Akhil have advanced to the quarter final and final of the 51 Kg and 54 Kg category respectively and are just a few shots away from the medal. The chief minister congratulated both these boxers on their fine performance and urged all the participating players hailing from Haryana to concentrate on performance and do their best to clinch medals. He said the State government would appreciate their efforts and suitably reward their achievements.

The Haryana government has already announced a Rs 2-crore reward for State athletes who win gold medals at the Olympics. Silver medallists would get Rs 1 crore and bronze winners would get Rs 50 lakhs.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Bindra wins first Olympic gold for India

SHOOTER ABHINAV Bindra made history on Monday (August 11) when he won the first ever individual gold medal for India in Beijing Olympics. Bindra won the gold medal in Men’s 10 metre Air Rifle event in Beijing with an incredible performance in the final. His total score read 700.5.

China’s Qinan Zhu won the silver medal with a total score of 699.7. While Finland’s Henri Hakkinen won the bronze medal with 699.4 points. Hakkinen was leading the field after the qualification round, but was unable to hold off Bindra and Zhu in the final.

Before the last shot, Bindra and Hakkinen were on first place together, but Bindra secured the gold medal with his best shot of the final, an outstanding 10.8