Monday, August 13, 2012

Closing ceremony of the London Olympics 2012

In these past 17 days, London has given the world something to talk about, raised the bar of expectations, satisfied the world’s insatiable appetite for entertainment and they did it with style and pride. But the climax was reached with the smashing success of the closing ceremony of the London Olympics 2012. Featuring more than 4,100 performers, including 3,500 adult volunteers and 380 schoolchildren, the ceremony showcased talent, artistes and creativity with attention to detail, sparing absolutely no expense.
Very honestly, I had heard rumours about The Spice Girls reuniting and taking the stage at the Olympics and my main concern watching the ceremony was to watch them mesmerise the crowd just like they did in the 90’s! But the moment I started watching the ceremony, I was hooked. There wasn’t a scene I wanted to miss or moment I could predict.
Sitting in my room, glued to the television, this was easily the best roller-coaster ride you could have witnessed. From start to end, the closing ceremony was electric. In this blog, I’m going to try and highlight the moments I found to be most captivating.
Rise and shine London!
The event started off with “A day in the life of London” theme, show casing all the landmarks you would see whence awakening for your daily work routine. The theme was enchanting; the landmarks, the people, the cars were all covered in newspaper clippings! What at first glance, seems like rhetoric facts and figures suddenly reveal prose from poems and writings by famous British poets and writers. The glitz and glamour of the London streets at rush hour portrayed here was phenomenal. They captured every detail that comes to life in the wake of morn. If you haven’t been to London and seen the morning hustle-bustle, this would give you a feel of the type of systematic chaos that comes forth.
Spectators are treated to the closing ceremony pre-show
And then started the clattering and rhythmic beats from within the buildings! Turning the building and everything else surrounding them into musical instruments, thudding and thumping came The Stomps with their percussion routine. They played on everything! Dustbins, buildings, people and finally used brooms, the same ones they just played tunes with, to clean away the newspaper.

Although it may seem like noise and disarray here, shockingly enough, the crowd, including myself, were enthralled! To think you can play a tune on the Tower Bridge!
Pictures from the 2012 Olympics closing ceremony (© Reuters)
With Emeli Sande singing in the background I don’t think we had time to get over the view that beheld us, when out popped Winston Churchill from the Big Ben! Pretty much telling The Stomps to shut up, he quoted Shakespeare, as was done in the opening ceremony.
A performer takes part in the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium
The energy and excitement vibrating through the crowd was pulsating through the screen and all I could do was wish I was there to witness the grandeur in its entirety myself.
Performers wave British flags during Closing Ceremony
Then came the British national anthem- and a whole new wave of goose bumps! Funnily enough, even though the anthem was not Pakistani, it left me in awe- it made me want to stand up and sing my own national anthem amongst a crowd that big!
Although the purely British theme could have sucked the fun out of certain scenes they were trying to create- like the explosion of a yellow car- which apparently signified a British comedy (please excuse me- very uneducated in that genre I am). The bang in itself with Michael Caine’s voice booming in the background saying “I only told you to blow the bloody doors off!” was hilarious enough- without any background knowledge, not to mention the barrage of colourful balloons that were released!
The Big Bang
Just like the Big Bang, this scenic view of the city of London, covered in newspaper sprawled over a British flag coloured River Thames was pulled apart. Every beginning and end thought out so carefully- down to every little detail, the genius behind this creative masterpiece deserves a widespread applause!
Just as the theme for an early morning London was set forth, thousands of alarm clocks began to blare and beep sounding the arrival of probably what was an evening London – at sunset I suppose.
The event reverberated happiness and peace and just a sense of excited unity as sports usually do. When the athletes came marching in, donning their national flags, with their ridiculously happy expressions, you could just tell that life had changed for them.
Athletes watch the fireworks show at the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Wanna know a fun fact?
The Olympics actually held 303 events!
How do I know that? No, it wasn’t Wikipedia! Because performers brought together 303 white boxes to form a pyramid on which the highlights were all projected! Nostalgia seeped through as visions of happiness and teary moments captured throughout the events burst onto the white pyramid. Factual and fun – I didn’t think you could manage that in one feat.

Excitement started breaking through even more, when music legends like George Michael paid a tribute to John Lennon – a silhouetted Lennon that was created for all to see with jigsaw puzzles. Once this was dissembled and after a bunch of British music that was great to hear- but (again excuse the ignorance) did not interest me very much, came what seemed to me like the biggest catwalk. Nine British supermodels strutted their stuff in front of a crowd of 80,000 people- this definitely had to be the biggest ramp ever. I doubt the boys have anything to complain about regarding this event – unlike the opening ceremony where Bond and Beckham (sigh) were drooled over by the girls and the boys tried to conceal their annoyance under stark criticism.
British models take part at the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium August 12, 2012.
Although I really wasn’t a fan of the songs being sung earlier in the event, the songs and artists that came next, in limousines might I add, were magnificent. With lights, glitter and a massive octopus glamorising their entrance, I hadn’t stopped singing along and dancing to Jessie J’s ‘Price Tag’, Tinie Tempah’s ‘Written in the Stars’ and Taio Cruz’s ‘Dynamite’ when *let the drum rolls begin* came The Spice Girls in five black taxis.
Famous British disc jockey Fatboy Slim performs at the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
After a ballet performed by the famous black cabs of London, out came Posh, Sport, Baby, Scary and Ginger spice - reunited once again singing ‘Wannabe’ and the crowd burst into screams of joy! Each on the cabs they came from were lit in colours and themes as props to their nicknames- what fun! A wistful cloud of bliss encompassed the fans, me actually, and I really did not want the sequence to end. It was great to see them back together again – giving hopes for a possible reunion, but I regretfully doubt that ever happening. Maybe it’s for the good anyway; I mean who wants to ruin the memories you have with their old songs with new songs that may not do justice to their image.
The Spice Girls perform in front of a London taxi during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
I’ll try not to get carried away with my antics about the Spice Girls and move to the rest of the event. Although this was the highlight for the girls, many other fans were hoping against hope that they would be able to witness the surprise reunion of the ‘Oasis’ – although their song ‘Wonder wall’ was boomed in the stadium, it was performed solely by Liam Gallagher.
For me, this really was the climax of the event, but was taken a step further when Jessie J returned to perform a rendition of ‘We will rock you’ – and that was it; hearts thumping, ears pumping, and excitement taking over the entire stadium, the effect of this song was electrical.
With entertainment for all ages, they managed to give the boys their dose of eye candy with the supermodels, girls their youth back with the Spice girls and the kids a fill of adventure with the performances, I doubt there is a single thing that comes to mind that you could pinpoint and say was missing from this event! From cars and buildings, to people falling from the sky, to fireworks, the Spice Girls and even supermodels – the razzle and dazzle of this event encapsulated every single detail with flare!
The Pet Shop Boys during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Memories were created and history was made. With a gigantic success like this, setting an even higher standard for entertainment, we can only sit back and anticipate what the next Olympic Games have in store for us.
I’m sure I wasn’t able to encapsulate even a quarter of what the actual event portrayed and may have even missed out on some of your favourite moments, but this was the closing ceremony as I saw it, and it was fantastic!
Fireworks explode over the Olympic Stadium during the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games August 12, 2012.
The Olympic torch being put off until 2016, left many with a sense of sadness at the realisation of its end. Despite Pakistan’s performance at the Olympics, the event was historical and all we can do is hope for a better chance next time around! What a surreal journey it was.
Rio de Janeiro, you have a tough giant to beat in 2016, but I am definitely looking forward to seeing how the glitz of this event will be upped.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Two earthquakes have struck north-western Iran-87 people dead and 400 more injured


Two strong earthquakes have struck north-western Iran, leaving at least 87 people dead and 400 more injured, according to state TV.

The quakes struck near the city of Tabriz and the town of Ahar, but most of the casualties are thought to be in outlying villages.

Reports say phone lines to many villages have been cut off, making rescue efforts harder.

The US Geological Service measured the quakes at magnitude 6.4 and 6.3.

"The quake has created huge panic among the people," one resident of Tabriz told the BBC. "Everyone has rushed to the streets and the sirens of ambulances are everywhere."

The towns of Haris and Varzaqab in East Azerbaijan province were among those that suffered casualties, Khalil Saei, local crisis committee chief, told state TV, according to the Associated Press.

Officials say at least four villages have been completely destroyed, with another 60 villages suffering damage ranging from 50% to 70%.

The two earthquakes came within minutes of each other, according to seismology experts at Tehran University.

Dozens of rescue workers have been sent to the region, but the onset of darkness has hampered relief efforts.

Mexico stunned favourites Brazil 2-1 to win Gold

Oribe Peralta

Oribe Peralta


  London Olympics 2012 Football Final: Mexico stun Brazil to win gold

Mexico stunned favourites Brazil 2-1 at Wembley to win the men's Olympic football gold medal for the first time.

Oribe Peralta struck from the 18-yard box after 32 seconds following some poor Brazilian defending.

Fabian Marco hit the Brazil crossbar before a completely unmarked Peralta headed his team's second goal.

Brazil, also hoping to win gold for the first time, pulled a goal back through Hulk in injury-time, before Oscar headed wide when well positioned.

But the South American side scarcely deserved to take the game into extra-time after a very patchy performance, particularly in defence.

Mano Menezes's team had scored three in each of their previous five games and were treating the tournament as an important staging post ahead of hosting the World Cup in 2014.

But if they are to succeed on home soil they will have to show a significant improvement from what they produced at Wembley, with star forward Neymar a largely peripheral figure.

Menezes went into Saturday's match under huge pressure to deliver gold and fill the one significant missing blank for the Brazilian team, but if the game was to be Brazil's coronation as Olympic champions then Mexico clearly had not read the script.

They defeated Brazil 2-0 in a friendly earlier in the summer and stunned Wembley when Peralta's low strike nestled in the bottom corner while many inside the stadium were still taking their seats.

Manchester United defender Rafael was partly at fault for the goal, his sloppy pass allowing Javier Aquino to nip in and dispossess Sandro, with the ball running invitingly into the path of Peralta.

Brazil could not find their stride - a situation not helped by a series of niggly fouls that broke up play and angered coach Menezes, who could be seen waving an imaginary card on the touchline.

And their disappointing start was put into stark perspective when Menezes made a change just after the half-hour mark, bringing on Hulk for Alex Sandro.

The substitution made a difference and Jose Corona managed to palm clear a swerving strike from Hulk while Marcelo shot wastefully wide after he had linked with Oscar and Leandro Damiao to carve open the left side of the Mexican defence.

By the early stages of the second half it was obvious that Mexico had opted to try to defend their lead.

This seemed to play into the hands of their opponents, particularly Neymar, who had disappointed in the opening half but briefly relished the chance to repeatedly run at the Mexico defence.

He twice shot wide and saw another effort blocked, but his influence soon faded and Mexico almost struck with a swift break.

There was more shoddy Brazilian defending involved too, as Fabian dispossessed an opponent far too easily and eventually saw his overhead effort rebound off the crossbar.

An unmarked Peralta later slotted home from six yards but Brazil were saved by the offside flag. There was to be no reprieve with 15 minutes remaining.

A free-kick was delivered from the right and the Mexico striker was left completely alone to head home from eight yards.

Brazil's frustrating afternoon saw team-mates Juan Jesus and Rafael square up to each other in the final minutes.

Hulk's injury-time strike into the bottom corner briefly ignited hope of a spectacular comeback and Oscar then headed wastefully wide at the near post as Mexico held on.

Friday, August 10, 2012

BOLT in action

BOLT is the legend after all Jamaican 200 meter sprint!

Usain_200m-Olympic 2012

Usain Bolt

warren weir, usain bolt ,yohanblake

Usain Bolt finally permitted the world to acclaim him as a sporting legend after the supreme showman of track and field delivered another superlative performance at the London Olympics on Thursday.

Bolt danced around the bend in the men's 200 metres final, accelerated past Yohan Blake on his inside and glanced quickly to his left to check he was ahead of his Jamaican team mate.

Satisfied he had the race won, he sauntered over the line with his right index finger held high. His time of 19.32 seconds equalled the then world record set by Michael Johnson at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics which statisticians estimated would last another quarter of a century.

Instead Bolt reduced it to 19.30 at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and then to 19.19 at the Berlin world championships the following year. He also broke the 100 record twice.

Last Sunday Bolt joined Carl Lewis as the second man to retain the 100 title but said he would defer any talk of legends until he went one better than the American and successfully defended both sprint crowns.

There were no such inhibitions on Thursday after Bolt led Blake and Warren Weir to a Jamaican clean sweep. The United States, the traditional giants of Olympic sprinting, are the only other country to win all three medals in a single Games.

"It's what I came here to do, I'm now a legend," Bolt said after a joyous victory lap with Blake and Weir during which he acknowledged the tumultuous applause from all parts of the Olympic stadium.

"I'm also the greatest athlete to live. I am in the same category as Michael Johnson. I'm honoured. It's all about Michael Johnson for me. I grew up watching him break world records. He's a great athlete."

Bolt made his early reputation as a 200 metres runner and coach Glen Mills, who took charge after injury ruined Bolt's 2044 Athens Olympics campaign, was keen for him to try the 400.

Instead Bolt persuaded Mills to let him drop to the 100, which he did with spectacular success with his world records in Beijing and Berlin.

Johnson, who won the 200-400 double in Atlanta and retained his 400 title at the 2000 Sydney Games believes Bolt could go where no man or women has ever gone and set a world record in the 400 to add to his 100 and 200 marks.

Bolt has said repeatedly that both training for and racing the 400 would be too painful an experience but he did concede this year that a further debate with Mills is on the cards after the season ends.

"I sense that my coach wants me to run it, I think we are going to have a showdown after the season," he said.

First Bolt will help his team mates try to retain the 4x100 metres relay title.

The final is scheduled for Saturday evening, the penultimate night of the Games. Victory for the Jamaicans would give Bolt six Olympic track medals, one ahead of Lewis who also won four long jump titles.

Monday, August 6, 2012

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Successfully Lands on Mars

NASA's newest Mars rover, Curiosity, has a tall task ahead of itself when it lands Aug. 6 on the Red Planet.

The rover, part of the $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory mission, will aim to search for signs that Mars is, or ever was, habitable. Since one of the key requirements of habitability is thought to be the presence of liquid water, Curiosity will seek signs of water buried beneath the Martian surface.To do this, the rover will shove neutrons underneath the planet's surface in hopes that the particles bump against hydrogen, one of the two types of atoms that make up water molecules. Neutrons are subatomic particles that have no electrical charge. When a neutron hits a hydrogen atom, the neutron will slow to a near-stop because the two particles are about the same size.
“The goal is in about 20 minutes of pulsing and returning and detecting the signal, [the rover] can build up a fairly good understanding of how much water there is below the surface,” said Ashwin Vasavada, MSL's deputy project scientist. [11 Amazing Things NASA's Huge Mars Rover Can Do] Neutrons have already been used on Mars to find what are believed to be ice reservoirs. In 2002, a high-energy neutron detector aboard the orbiting Mars Odyssey spacecraft found robust evidence of hydrogen on the higher latitudes of the Red Planet, lurking just underneath the surface.
From space, it's much easier to use neutrons to seek out water because high above a planet, there are many neutrons, Vasavada said. Closer to the surface, neutrons are so few and far between thatMSL must carry its own artificial neutron generator.
Provided by the Russian Federal Space Agency, the Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) experiment onboard Curiosity will blast 10 million neutrons into the surface with every pulse. These pulses will only take an instant: typically one microsecond, or a millionth of a second. Curiosity can send these pulses out up to 10 times per second.Gale Crater, where the Curiosity rover is supposed to land on
Mars, is not expected to have vast tracts of water underground. Maps of the area show possible sulphates and clays in the lowlands.
As for water, NASA expects the landing site will have “hydrated minerals,” meaning minerals that have water molecules or hydrogen-oxygen ions stitched into the mineral's crystal fabric. NASA says these minerals can “tenaciously retain water” from a past time when water may have been more abundant on Mars. Water might also be present in a transient form that changes with the Martian seasons, such as soil moisture that can increase or decrease according to the surrounding humidity. DAN can also help researchers understand the “water cycle” on Mars and compare it with what occurs on Earth. Our planet recycles its water in a continuum between the atmosphere and bodies of water such as oceans, lakes and underground reservoirs. DAN will try to map out the Martian water cycle in conjunction with Curiosity's cameras and its weather station, which can capture properties such as humidity, wind speed, and temperature.

Figuring out where the water goes will help scientists understand how the Martian climate works. With a little analysis, this knowledge may just make the search for life a bit easier.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A 'secret order' from Obama to aid Syria rebels

US President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorising US support for rebels seeking to depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government, Reuters news agency said quoting sources familiar with the matter.
Obama's order, approved earlier this year and known as an intelligence "finding", broadly permits the CIA and other US agencies to provide aid that could help the rebels dislodge Assad from power.
The shift towards supporting Assad's armed opponents intensified following last month's failure of the UN Security Council to agree on tougher sanctions against the Damascus government.
The full extent of clandestine support that agencies like the CIA might be providing also is unclear. White House spokesman Tommy Vietor declined comment on the matter.
The White House has apparently stopped short of giving the rebels lethal weapons, even as some US allies have been doing just that
US and European officials have said that there have been noticeable improvements in the coherence and effectiveness of Syrian rebel groups in the past few weeks. That represents a significant change in assessments of the rebels by Western officials, who previously characterised Assad's opponents as a disorganised.
Overt support
Separately from the president's secret order, the Obama administration has stated publicly that it is providing some backing for Assad's opponents.
The State Department said on Wednesday the US government had set aside a total of $25m for "non-lethal" assistance to the rebels.
A US official said that was mostly for communications equipment, including encrypted radios.
The State Department also says the US has set aside $64m in humanitarian assistance for the Syrian people, including contributions to the World Food Program, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other aid agencies.
'Nerve centre'
A US government source acknowledged that under provisions of the presidential finding, the US was collaborating with a secret command centre operated by Turkey and its allies.
Last week, Reuters reported that, along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Turkey had established a secret base near the Syrian border to help direct vital military and communications support to Assad's opponents.
This "nerve centre" is in Adana, a city in southern Turkey about 100km from the Syrian border, which is also home to Incirlik, a US airbase where US military and intelligence agencies maintain a substantial presence.
Turkish authorities are said to be increasingly involved in providing Syrian rebels with training and possibly equipment.
European government sources said wealthy families in Saudi Arabia and Qatar were providing significant financing to the rebels. Senior officials of the Saudi and Qatari governments have publicly called for Assad's departure.
On Tuesday, reports emerged that the Free Syrian Army had obtained nearly two dozen surface-to-air missiles, weapons that could be used against Assad's helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.
Syrian government armed forces have employed such air power more extensively in recent days.
NBC network said the shoulder-fired missiles, also known as MANPADs, had been delivered to the rebels via Turkey.
On Wednesday, however, Bassam al-Dada, a political adviser to the Free Syrian Army, denied the NBC report, telling the Arabic-language TV network Al-Arabiya that the group had "not obtained any such weapons at all".
US government sources said they could not confirm the MANPADs deliveries, but could not rule them out either.
Current and former US and European officials previously said that weapons supplies, which were being organised and financed by Qatar and Saudi Arabia, were largely limited to guns and a limited number of anti-tank weapons, such as bazookas.

China's disgraced Olympic coach apologises

China's Olympic badminton head coach has apologised for his role after his two top players were disqualified for not playing to win.
Coach Li Yongbo said "It's me to blame", while disqualified player Yu Yang declared she was quitting the sport.
Yu was among eight women's doubles players expelled from the Games on Wednesday. The others were team mate Wang Xiaoli, South Korean pairs Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na, and Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung, plus Greysia Polii and Meiliana Jauhari of Indonesia.
"This is my last competition. Goodbye Badminton World Federation [BWF], goodbye my beloved badminton," Yu wrote on her Tencent microblog. "We ... only chose to use the rules to abandon the match.
"This was only so as to be able to compete better in the second round of the knockout (stage). This is the first time the Olympics has changed the (event's format). Don't they understand the harm this has caused the athletes?
Yu and Wang were the top-seeded pair.
The eight players were turfed out of the Olympics by the BWF for throwing matches in a bid to secure more favourable draws later in the tournament.
The sight of four pairs deliberately easing off disgusted a crowd of 4,800 packed into Wembley Arena expecting to see the best of badminton's best.
The introduction of a round-robin stage in the games, rather than a straight knock-out tournament, meant that losing one game could lead to an easier match in the next round.
Yu's partner Wang also posted comments on her Tencent Weibo, saying that the players were being made to pay the price for the flaws in the new competition rules.

"What you've canceled is not just a game, but my dream!'' she said"
Instead the fans were treated with disdain as the Chinese, Korean and Indonesian players sprayed hopeless shots into the net and beyond the lines. Their antics were also beamed around the globe to a disbelieving audience.
'Publicly apologise'
The Xinhua state news agency said Chinese officials were demanding their disgraced players make a public apology.
"The delegation has already severely criticised and educated the responsible badminton leaders, team and relevant players and demanded they profoundly recognise the seriousness and the harmfulness of this matter, reflect deeply on it, publicly apologise and resolutely prevent such incidents from happening again," Xinhua quoted an unnamed spokesman as saying.
Li Yongbo, chief coach of the Chinese badminton team, said the poor behaviour of his players reflected the shortcomings of the new regulations in the sport.
"I feel that no matter whether it is the rules or something else, that's no excuse," said Li. "The key point is we did not behave professionally as athletes and did not treat each match seriously.
An appeal by South Korea over the disqualification was rejected by the BWF and Indonesia withdrew its appeal.
In South Korea, newspapers largely disapproving of the country's players actions in the scandal, reports said.
One newspaper said the players had ''disgraced the Olympic spirit and embarrassed the country''.

Facebook (FB) Stock Sinks on Exits

Facebook shares continued their free-fall on a day when bad news piled up for the social network faster than “likes” for Rihanna.
Top Facebook executives Katie Mitic and Ethan Beard said they’re quitting  for other pursuits, the second and third top managers to leave since the May 17 IPO.  The exits came after news that the company’s prospects dimmed in the second quarter as sales and user expansion slowed.
This morning the Wall Street Journal reported that institutional investors including Fidelity are dumping their shares. Some 21 Fidelity funds sold more than 1.9 million public Facebook shares in June, the newspaper reported.
If that wasn’t enough bad news, Facebook noted in a regulatory filing that more than 83 million Facebook accounts are duplicates or fakes.  That’s about 4.8 percent of its total accounts.
But it gets worse. Blogger Erik Larson set the investor community abuzz when he estimated that 90 percent of the Facebook advertising clicks he receives were from spambots.
Facebook shares dropped as much as 4.7 percent to a record low, the fifth straight day of declines. They traded at $20 this afternoon, 47 percent below their IPO price of $38.
There may be more selling to come.
Facebook’s first tier of restrictions on insider share sales expires Aug. 16, when about 271 million shares will be available for trading. Another 243 million shares would become available for trading between mid-October and mid-November, Reuters reported.

Bangladesh has ordered three international charities to stop providing aid to Rohingya

Bangladesh has ordered three international charities to stop providing aid to Rohingya refugees crossing the border from Myanmar where they have fled persecution and violence.
Local administrator Joynul Bari said on Thursday that France's Doctors without Borders (MSF), Action Against Hunger (ACF) and Britain's Muslim Aid UK have been told to suspend their services in the Cox's Bazaar district bordering Myanmar.
"The charities have been providing aid to tens of thousands of undocumented Rohingya refugees illegally. We asked them to stop all their projects in Cox's Bazaar following directive from the NGO Affairs Bureau," Bari told the AFP news agency.
Bari said the charities "were encouraging an influx of Rohingya refugees" from across the border in Myanmar's Rakhine state in the wake of recent sectarian violence that left at least 80 people killed.
The charities have provided healthcare, training, emergency food and drinking water to the refugees living in Cox's Bazaar since the early 1990s.
MSF runs a clinic near one of the Rohingya camp which provides services to 100,000 people.
Fleeing violence
Speaking a Bengali dialect similar to one in southeast Bangladesh, the Rohingyas are Muslims seen as illegal immigrants by the Buddhist-majority Myanmar government and many Burmese.
They are viewed by the United Nations as one of the world's most persecuted minorities.
Obaidur Rahman, country head of Muslim Aid UK in Bangladesh, confirmed to AFP that his group had stopped its Rohingya project following the order.
The government says some 300,000 Rohingya Muslims are living in the country, the vast majority in Cox's Bazaar, after fleeing persecution in Myanmar. About 30,000 are registered refugees who live in two camps run by the United Nations.
In recent weeks, Bangladesh has turned away boats carrying hundreds of Rohingya fleeing the violence in Myanmar despite pressure from the United States and rights groups to grant them refuge.
Myanmar security forces opened fire on Rohingya Muslims, committed rape and stood by as rival mobs attacked each other during the recent wave of sectarian violence, New York-based Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.
The authorities failed to protect both Muslims and Buddhists and then "unleashed a campaign of violence and mass roundups against the Rohingya", the group said in a report

IN Kabul Afghan forces foil attack

Afghan security forces have ambushed a group of eight fighters during a seven-hour gun battle in the capital, Kabul.
Three cars full of explosives and ammunition were recovered in Thursday's gun battle, which ended with five of the fighters dead.
Afghan authorities said the ambush on a compound east of Kabul came as they thwarted a planned attack by the group in the capital.
Soldiers from Afghanistan's intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), launched the raid in darkness, entering a building about an hour after midnight in Kabul's Pul-e-Charkhi district which the fighters were using as a base.
"They aimed to enter a building in Kabul and launch a combined attack on security forces, government offices or offices belonging to foreigners," an NDS spokesman told the Reuters news agency.
Afghan security forces claimed the fighters were loyal to the Taliban, however, the group issued a statement denying that Thursday's operation was against their fighters.
Taliban fighters had previously launched an attack in central Kabul on April 15, occupying a high-rise construction site and pounding the city's diplomatic and business centre with rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire until they were killed.
On June 22, Afghan security forces fought a day-long battle with fighters after a Taliban attack on a lakeside hotel on the outskirts of Kabul.
But security forces and NATO-led foreign troops say the sporadic attacks do not point to weaknesses in Afghan forces and intelligence ahead of a withdrawal by most foreign combat troops to be completed by 2014.

Why shooting victim wants Dark Knight killer James Holmes to face firing squad

A WOMAN peppered with shotgun pellets during the Batman cinema massacre says the gunman should face the death penalty - by firing squad.
Carli Richards took graphic photos of the wounds she suffered when shot in the right arm, both legs, chest, back and rear as James Holmes went on a shooting spree during the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado.
By the time his rampage was over, 12 people were dead and at least 58 were wounded.
Calling for Holmes to be put to death, an angry Ms Richards, 22, told TMZ website yesterday: "I think death by firing squad would be totally justified ... just injecting him is painless.
"I had enough needles in me that night to know that a needle isn't that bad. I want him to see what it feels like.
"I wish someone would shoot him and let him bleed out.
"He shot me with stuff they use to shoot birds and deer. I want him to feel what it's like to feel that helpless."
Ms Richards was in Century 16 cinema with her boyfriend Chris Townson when Holmes started the horrifying massacre.
In a blog entry, she described how she thought that when Holmes entered the screening it was a promotional stunt.
Ms Richards was wearing her father's 1980s-vintage Joker T-shirt and seated near the left-hand aisle when the dark figure appeared at the front and tossed a gas canister.
"I heard a weird popping noise and then a can or something came flying towards us," she said.
"The girl next to me and I both swatted at it and it almost hit me in the face.
"In a split second, I recognised that it was tear gas, meaning that this was either a bad joke or it wasn't a joke at all and either way, time to run."
She credits realising it was tear gas so quickly because both she and her boyfriend had trained with the US Navy.
"The next second is a blur, but according to Chris I jumped over him to get out of the aisle and we both ran for our lives."
Only when they reached Mr Townson's car 100m away did Ms Richards touch the right sleeve of her blazer and notice that it was covered with blood.
"My initial reaction to it was, 'It's either fake or it's someone else's blood'. Suddenly, the pain began to sink in," she said.
She was told at the hospital that she had been hit by pellets from a shotgun.
"In my right arm, both of my legs, my chest, my back, and my butt." Ms Richards wrote.
She is still in pain and unable to return to work.
Holmes was charged on Monday with 24 counts of murder and 116 counts of attempted murder in the shooting rampage on July 20. He appeared just as dazed as he did in his first court appearance last week, but at one point exchanged a few words with one of his lawyers.
Each death carried two separate murder charges, one for premeditation and one for showing extreme indifference to life. All the charges carry the death penalty as a possible sentence.

BFI's best films list - Vertigo tops Citizen Kane

Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo has claimed the top spot in the list of the 10 greatest movies ever, compiled by the British Film Institute's Sight & Sound magazine.
Hitchcock's classic knocks off another by Orson Welles, whose Citizen Kane had topped the list for the last 50 years.
Starring James Stewart and Kim Novak, Hitchcock's 1958 psychological drama was named No. 1 in the survey of international film critics that the magazine conducts every 10 years.
Once thought of as a genre filmmaker, the British director has attracted renewed admiration as his influence on contemporary directors is reassessed.
Earlier this year, noted Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro showed off his favourite Hitchcock movies during a visit to Toronto and said the British director had created an entire film language that endures to this day. The BFI has mounted a retrospective of Hitchcock's work, including nine little-known silent films, as part of the London Cultural Olympiad.
After having inched up the poll in recent decades, Vertigo received a leading 191 votes from the 846 international film experts surveyed. Citizen Kane, Welles’s 1941 epic about a newspaper magnate, earned 157 votes.
Altogether, more than 1,000 critics from around the world were approached to name their favourite movies. The magazine began polling critics in 1952, with Vittorio De Sica's Bicycle Thieves topping the inaugural tally.
Sight & Sound's longer list of the Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time, posted on its website, includes such titles as Battleship Potemkin, Metropolis, La dolce vita, Seven Samurai, In the Mood for Love and Taxi Driver.

President Obama the apologizer in chief

An overarching theme of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign is that he will not apologize for America - unlike the current occupant of the White House. Romney is so committed to this argument that he made it the title of his 2010 book, and it's a point he hits over and over again on the stump. Here's Romney last August, speaking to the VFW:
"I start with the fundamental conviction that America is the greatest nation in the history of the world and a force for good. And while we are not perfect, I will not apologize for America!
Our president has taken a different approach. Have we ever had a president who was so eager to address the world with an apology on his lips and doubt in his heart? He seems truly confused not only about America's past but also about its future."
In his book, Romney points to what he calls apologies in speeches in various countries as part of Mr. Obama's "apology tour" - a term coined by Karl Rove.
There's no question that Mr. Obama has explicitly said that America is less than perfect. One of the quotes that Romney seized on comes from a 2009 town hall meeting in France. Here's the section Republicans highlight:
"In America, there's a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive."
Let's put aside the question of whether that's an apology for now - and simply see what the president said next.
"But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual, but can also be insidious. Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans choose to blame America for much of what's bad."
Clearly, Mr. Obama was making a two-sided argument, not offering up an apology in a vacuum.
Romney also cited Mr. Obama's statement in Cairo that "The United States is still working through some of our own darker periods in our history," a reference to slavery. But if this constitutes an apology, then Republican president George W. Bush is the real apologizer-in-chief. In 2003, Mr. Bush said that the "racial bigotry fed by slavery did not end with slavery or with segregation." And Mr. Bush repeatedly apologized to foreign governments for American actions - including for an American soldier shooting a Koran and for abuse of Iraqi prisoners.
As I see it, there are two possible interpretations of Romney's position.
First, he believes the United States has never done anything wrong when it comes to foreign policy - a position that no serious observer could possibly hold.
Second, he believes the United States has made mistakes - but the president shouldn't admit them no matter what. If Romney truly believes that, he is both breaking with Mr. Bush and significantly limiting the tools at his disposal in international diplomacy.
If I had to guess, though, I'd say he doesn't believe it. A President Romney would be just as likely to acknowledge America's mistakes as a President Bush or Obama if he thinks doing so would serve American interests.
However, Romney appears to have calculated that he can win voters by implicitly casting Mr. Obama as anti-American - even if the claim has little connection to the truth.

In UK eavesdropping scandal Rebekah Brooks formally charged

The former head of media baron Rupert Murdoch's News International was formally charged at a London police station Thursday in the eavesdropping probe that has rocked the News Corp. empire and British government, London police said.
Authorities announced last week that Rebekah Brooks -- who besides being a onetime chief executive of News International, which is the division of News Corp. that includes the company's British newspapers, also had been editor of The News of the World tabloid -- was among those being charged in the high-profile case.
On Thursday evening, she "answered bail" at Lewisham police station in the British capital and "was charged" with several offenses, the Metropolitan Police Service said in a written statement.
She posted bail and is scheduled to next appear in court on September 3.
The long-running police investigation prompted by illegal eavesdropping at the defunct Murdoch tabloid The News of the World has expanded into probes of computer hacking, bribery and corruption. Brooks served as that newspaper's editor before taking the same role at The Sun and eventually rising to the CEO position with News International.
The announced names of the suspected hacking victims include some of the world's biggest celebrities, including Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Jude Law, Paul McCartney and soccer star Wayne Rooney.
The phone-hacking accusations have reverberated through the top levels of British politics and journalism, led to the major tabloid's closing and prompted a parliamentary committee to issue damning criticism of Murdoch.
Others charged in the case include Andy Coulson, an editor at News of the World who went on to become director of communications for British Prime Minister David Cameron before resigning.
According to Thursday's release from London police, Brooks was charged on three offenses. The first claims that she -- along with Coulson, Stuart Kuttner, Greg Miskiw, Ian Edmondson, Neville Thurlbeck and James Weatherup -- conspired between October 3, 2000, and August 9, 2006, "to intercept communications in the course of their transmission, without lawful authority." Specifically, the charge asserts that they listened to "voice mail messages of well-known people."
Another charge accuses Brooks, Coulson, Kuttner, Miskiw, Thurlbeck and Glenn Mulcaire of intercepting messages of Milly Dowler, the 13-year-old British schoolgirl who was abducted and murdered in 2002.
Lastly, Brooks, Mulcaire and Miskiw are charged with, between December 3, 2002, and January 22, 2003, conspiring to intercept the messages of firefighter trade union boss Andy Gilchrist.
Brooks has previously vigorously denied the charges against her, saying she was "distressed and angry."
The scandal exploded with the revelation that the phone of Dowler was hacked after she disappeared in 2002. She was later found murdered. Indications that her voice mail had been accessed had given her parents the false hope she was still alive.
Prosecutors allege there were more than 600 victims of phone hacking between 2000 and 2006.
The investigation and public notoriety has been damaging to News Corp. and Murdoch, who stepped down from a string of company boards of directors earlier this month and further distanced himself from the print business that first brought him fame and fortune.

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