History is made as India launches first space mission

Standing at the bottom of his garden, cup of coffee in hand, Gopinath Garirao, 63, peered into the dawn sky and marvelled as the Indian rocket streaked into orbit, fuelled by the hopes of a billion people.

When he was born in 1945 India was still under British colonial rule and more than two years away from the bloody chaos of Partition.

He joined the Indian Railways as an engineer in 1969 – the year that Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon – and worked there until he retired in 2005, on a pension of £100 a month. He has lived through one war with China and three with Pakistan.

There he was, standing outside with his wife, Kalavati Bai, watching the launch of Chandrayaan1 – India’s first unmanned mission to the Moon – from his own back garden.

I felt very proud to be an Indian,” he told The Times from his home in Sullurpet, six miles from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh.

“In the 20th century the race to the Moon was fought between the erstwhile Cold War adversaries,” said Pallava Bagla, the author of Destination Moon, a history of ISRO.

“In the 21st century those gladiators have been left behind and the Asian nations, on the upsurge, have decided to take their place,” he said. “Chandrayaan is a scientific mission, but it also has implications for global geopolitics. It’s like a coming-out party for India.”

Thoughtful, entertaining article. So far, Rupert Murdoch not only hasn’t screwed-up the TIMES, I think he’s learned something from them about how to manage an online presence. RTFA.

Bill Gates has started a new company – bgC3

Just months after his Microsoft farewell, Bill Gates is quietly creating a new company — complete with high-tech office space, a cryptic name and even its own trademark.

Public documents describe the new Gates entity — bgC3 LLC — as a “think tank.” It’s housed within a Kirkland office that the Microsoft co-founder established on his own after leaving his day-to-day executive role at the company this summer.

Is this Bill Gates’ next big business? A Gates insider gives an emphatic no — saying it’s not a commercial venture but rather a vehicle to coordinate the software mogul’s work on his business and philanthropic endeavors…

Federal trademark filings provide more clues – describing bgC3 as a think tank, under a generic trademark classification that corresponds broadly to areas including “scientific and technological services,” “industrial analysis and research,” and “design and development of computer hardware and software.”

Do you think we’ll ever see an IPO?

Coppers arrest naked burglary suspect – in a chimney

A naked man rescued from inside a supermarket chimney has denied he was trying to burgle the store.

Daniel Davies was found after police heard cries for help coming from the chimney at the Tesco Express store in Ormskirk Road, Wigan. They investigated and called firefighters, who dismantled the chimney breast and found the unemployed 20-year-old naked inside it, Wigan magistrates court heard.

Davies…pleaded not guilty to attempted burglary.

He told police he fell down the chimney while trying to escape some men he owed money.

Whatever happened to pirates and rustlers, gunmen arrested trying to hold up the stagecoach – who bragged about what bad guys they were?

Nowadays, if you’re a crook – you deny it and then whimper for counseling.

Woman arrested for murdering her virtual reality husband

A 43-year-old Japanese woman whose sudden divorce in a virtual game world made her so angry that she killed her online husband’s digital persona has been arrested on suspicion of hacking, said police.

The woman, who is jailed on suspicion of illegally accessing a computer and manipulating electronic data, used his identification and password to log onto popular interactive game “Maple Story” to carry out the virtual murder in mid-May, a police official in northern Sapporo said on condition of anonymity, citing department policy.

“I was suddenly divorced, without a word of warning. That made me so angry,” the official quoted her as telling investigators and admitting the allegations.

The woman had not plotted any revenge in the real world, the official said.

She has not yet been formally charged, but if convicted could face a prison term of up to five years or a fine up to $5,000.

Why can’t she pay her fine in “Mesos”?

British Lords block return home for Chagos Islanders


Diego Garcia “farmland”

The highest court in Britain has ruled in favor of the British government, blocking the return of hundreds of Chagos Island people to their homes in the south Indian Ocean after nearly 40 years of exile.

The decision by the House of Lords ends a years-long battle to secure the Chagos Islanders the right to return to their archipelago, from where they were forcibly removed in the 1960s and 1970s to make way for an American airbase on Diego Garcia.

By a ruling of 3-2, the lords backed a government appeal that allowing the islanders to return could have a detrimental effect on defense and international security.

Patriotism, war, the endemic cowardice of bureaucrats sum up the usual excuses for repression.

The British-owned island chain was forcibly depopulated between 1968 and 1973, with 2,000 residents shipped to Mauritius and the Seychelles, allowing Britain to rent the main island of Diego Garcia to the United States.

The key to the question remains British political subservience to the United States.

Courts try to bring a just end to the question of returning these people to their homeland – stolen in service to the Cold War. When justice appears imminent, the Global War on Terror becomes the latest rationale for theft.

I guess British politicians feel they get enough return for their role as America’s 51st State to justify their perpetual kneeling position.

Texas prisons locked down after cell phone threats


Wireless neighborhood

The death row inmate who ignited a growing scandal on prison contraband after he was caught talking on a smuggled cell phone was transferred Wednesday to a prison psychiatric unit after guards discovered a 3-foot strip of sheet tied to a fixture in his cell.

Richard Tabler was restrained and taken in for evaluation after guards also noticed red marks on his neck. No serious injuries were noted. Tabler was later transferred to Jester IV in Richmond from the Livingston prison. “We don’t know if he was going to make a noose. It’s a precaution,” prison spokesman Jason Clark said of Tabler.

Tabler’s threatening calls from a smuggled cell phone to state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, and a reporter prompted the governor this week to order a systemwide lockdown so guards could sweep all 112 prisons for contraband.

The massive search through Texas prisons has turned up 13 more smuggled cell phones and 12 more cell phone chargers in the past 24 hours, including another phone and charger found on death row, Clark said.

The cell phone and charger discovered on death row were found above the ceiling in the men’s shower area. That brings the number of cell phones found since Monday on Texas’ death row to four.

The prison system remains locked down, with inmates assigned to their cells as correctional officers sweep all prison units for contraband, a process that could take three weeks.

No employees have been arrested in connection with any of the smuggled cell phones found this week.

i guess the cell phones teleported into the prisons, eh?

What crap. Contraband gets into prisons one way. It gets walked in by someone. It may be kin waltzing past sleazy, incompetent, corrupt guards – or the corrupt guards earn side money by acting as delivery boys.

Weekly World News returns – online

Elvis could get a second chance at life, Bat Boy may yet outwit government scientists and politicians’ chances of adopting alien babies just improved. That is because the offbeat tabloid Weekly World News, which stopped printing last year, has been sold and the new owner has revived it online and might start printing it again.

“I had always been a fan in college,” said Neil McGinness, whose new company, Bat Boy, announced this month that it had bought the publication from American Media. “And I grew up in Cleveland at a time when Dennis Kucinich was the mayor, so I believed that UFO’s and many other things were possible.”

McGinness ran the entertainment and comedy division at IMG Media, was an executive at National Lampoon and handled marketing at Broadway Video, founded by Lorne Michaels, the producer of “Saturday Night Live.”

McGinness plans to sell advertising online, license characters featured in The News – he is talking to toy companies – and develop movie deals based on the publication’s content.

“Our view is the dominance of special-effects movies at the box office, and the popularity of ‘Heroes’ and ‘Lost’ on prime-time television, shows that the fringe culture is more relevant than ever,” McGinness said. “And The Weekly World News embraces that fringe culture.”

Fringe culture rocks. Well, some of it. And what better occasion to revive something that smacks of wackiness and counter-culture than the probable next-gen Camelot on the Potomac?

Federal law helps crooks with cell phones escape prison


Hidden cell phone

South Carolina might already have started jamming cell phone signals in prisons to prevent convicts from committing further crimes, if it weren’t for one significant problem with the plan: It’s against the law.

The struggle to stop cell phone use in prisons — where some experts say the devices have become a new form of cash — has states trying old-fashioned cell searches, sophisticated body scanners, even dogs trained to sniff out batteries and memory chips. South Carolina’s state prison chief, Jon Ozmint, wants to add to those tactics with existing technology that blocks cell signals.

Standing in his way is the Federal Communications Act, which prevents states from using jammers or otherwise interfering with federal airwaves. The Federal Communications Commission can give federal agencies the authority to use such jammers. But there’s no such provision for state and local law enforcement.

This is a classic example of a rule that has not kept up with technology,” said Ozmint, who has managed South Carolina’s 28 prisons for the past five years. “It’s just hypocrisy beyond the pale of reason that the big bad federal government goes, ‘Oh, well, we can use this technology, but you poor little states can’t use the same technology to protect your citizens.”‘

You’d think it might be easy to rectify the situation. But the FCC has to be involved. And then there’s the biggie – Congress has to pass legislation.

That would have to be sensible, useful laws; hopefully, without mandating hardware from lobbyists who would better serve the nation from inside the prison cells in question.