Monday, January 31, 2011

Pakistani Scholar's Double Doctorate

HEC scholar completes two PhDs from France in record time

The Higher Education Commission (HEC) scholar Kashif Mehmood has made the whole nation proud by successfully completing two PhD degrees from France within a period of four years.

He is among those few fortunate researchers in the world who have secured double doctorates in two different disciplines (Business Administration and Computer Science) from two leading universities.

Dr. Kashif Mehmood completed four postgraduate degrees (PhD in Computer Science, PhD in Business Administration, MPhil in Business Administration, MS in Computer Science) within the last five years. He was awarded HEC scholarship under Overseas Scholarship Scheme for PhD in Selected Fields (Phase-1) in 2004.

Based on his education and experience, he secured admission in MS programme at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC) that is ranked among the best universities in the world. During his research internship, Dr. Kashif impressed his supervisor with his technical, analytical and managerial skills for which he was offered a PhD thesis in Computer Science.

After starting PhD in Computer Science, Dr. Kashif applied for an MPhil (Business Administration) in a leading French business school, ESSEC Business School. Getting into ESSEC was a difficult task and securing full fees waiver (worth 10,000 Euros/Year) was almost impossible. But Dr. Kashif secured an admission along with a full fees waiver for the first year (renewable each year). He completed his MPhil (Business Administration) within two years along with working on his Computer Science thesis. After MPhil, he was offered to continue towards PhD in Business Administration from ESSEC.

Dr. Kashif defended both of his PhDs in front of a jury consisting of eight senior and eminent professors/researchers. Dr. Kashif received exceptionally good reviews for his dissertation and was highly praised during his defense presentation. He was offered a full-time tenure track position in a leading university in Canada that he turned down to return to Pakistan and serve his country. Selfless intellectuals like Dr. Kashif Mehmood are a true inspiration to our youth and a pride to our nation.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Cricket World Cup - 2011

Final World Cup Squads
All teams have announced their final 15 players for World Cup starting in Dhaka on February 19.

The tournament is being hosted jointly by India, Sir Lanka and Bangladesh and first match will see India take on Bangladesh in Dhaka. The final will be held in Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium on April 2.
The squads (final 15)
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag (vice captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel, Praveen Kumar, Ashish Nehra, R Ashwin, Yusuf Pathan, Piyush Chawla
Pakistan: Muhammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Umar Akmal, Asad Shafiq, Kamran Akmal,Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Abdul Rehman, Saeed Ajmal, Shoaib Akhtar, Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz, Sohail Tanvir.
Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Clarke, Doug Bollinger, Brad Haddin, John Hastings, Nathan Hauritz, David Hussey, Mike Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Tim Paine, Steve Smith, Shaun Tait, Shane Watson, Cameron White.
England: Andrew Strauss (captain), Jimmy Anderson, Ian Bell, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Eoin Morgan, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Ajmal Shahzad, Graeme Swann, James Tredwell, Jonathan Trott, Luke Wright, Michael Yardy.
South Africa: Graeme Smith (captain), Hashim Amla, Johan Botha, AB de Villiers (wk), JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Colin Ingram, Jacques Kallis, Morne Morkel, Wayne Parnell, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Morne van Wyk (wk)
New Zealand: Daniel Vettori (captain), Hamish Bennett, James Franklin, Martin Guptill, Jamie How, Brendon McCullum, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Jacob Oram, Jesse Ryder, Tim Southee, Scott Styris, Ross Taylor, Kane Williamson, Luke Woodcock.
West Indies: Darren Sammy (captain), Adrian Barath, Carlton Baugh Jr, Sulieman Benn, Darren Bravo, Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Christopher Gayle, Nikita Miller, Kieron Pollard, Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Andre Russell, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Devon Smith.
Bangladesh: Shakib Al Hasan (captain), Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Shariar Nafees, Zunaed Siddique, Mohammad Ashraful, Raqibul Hassan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah Riad, Abdur Razzak, Naeem Islam, Shafiul Islam, Suhrawardi Shuvo, Rubel Hossain, Nazmul Hossain.
The Netherlands: Peter Borren (captain), Wesley Baressi (wk), Mudassar Bukhari, Atse Buurman, Tom Cooper, Tom de Grooth, Alexei Kervezee, Bradley Kruger, Bernard Loots, Adeel Raja, Pieter Seelaar, Eric Swarczynski, Ryan Ten Doeschate, Berend Westdijk, Bas Zuiderent. Reserves: Tom Heggleman, Andrew Hoogstraten, Muhammad Kashif
Ireland: William Porterfield (captain), Andre Botha, Alex Cusack, Niall O'Brien (wk), Kevin O'Brien, George Dockrell, Trent Johnston, Nigel Jones, John Mooney, Boyd Rankin, Paul Stirling, Albert van der Merwe, Gary Wilson (wk), Andrew White, Ed Joyce. 
Kenya: Jimmy Kamande (captain), Seren Waters, Alex Obanda, David Obuya, Collins Obuya, Steve Tikolo, Tamnay Mishra, Rakep Patel, Maurice Ouma, Thomas Odoyo, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Elijah Otieno, Peter Ongondo, Shem Ngoche, James Ngoche.
Zimbabwe: Elton Chigumbura (captain), Regis Chakabva, Charles Coventry, Graeme Cremer, Craig Ervine, Sean Ervine, Gregory Lamb, Shingirai Masakadza, Christopher Mpofu, Raymond Price, Edward Rainsford, Tatenda Taibu, Brendan Taylor, Prosper Utseya, Sean Williams. Non-travelling reserves: Terrence Duffin, Tinotenda Mawoyo, Njabulo Ncube, Tinashe Panyangara, Vusimuzi Sibanda
Sri Lanka: Kumar Sangakkara (captain and wicketkeeper), Mahela Jayawardene, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Thilan Samaraweera, Chamara Silva, Chamara Kapugedera, Angelo Mathews, Thisara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando, Muttiah Muralitharan, Ajantha Mendis, Rangana Herath.
Canada: Ashish Bagai (captain and wicketkeeper), Rizwan Cheema (vice captain), Harvir Baidwan, Nitish Kumar, Hiral Patel, Tyson Gordon, Henry Osinde, John Davison, Ruvindu Gunasekera, Parth Desai, Karl Whatham, Khurram Chohan, Jimmy Hansra, Zubin Surkari, Balaji Rao. Standby: Hamza Tariq

Source :

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Guantanamo Bay - Still Haunting White House

Obama unlikely to close Guantanamo as 'War on Terror' continues

The politics of war and terrorism have put President Obama's order to close Guantanamo on hold. In America, the indefinite detention of suspected terrorists remains an accepted cost of waging a global war.

Just two days into his first term, US President Barack Obama ordered the Guantanamo Bay detention camp to be closed. However, his initial earnestness has given way to a painstaking implementation process fraught by the politics of war and terrorism.
Last December, Congress blocked funding to transfer detainees out of Guantanamo. The move came a month after the surprisingly narrow conviction of Ahmed Ghailani for his role in the 1998 US embassy bombings in East Africa. Ghailani's controversial trial raised concern about the unpredictability of prosecuting terrorism suspects in civilian courts.
This politically charged environment has stalled the closure of the Guantanamo camp by a year. Although President Obama came to power promising to end what he called “a sad chapter in American history,” it appears that this chapter is still being written. Indefinitely detaining suspected terrorists without trial, a policy developed during the Bush administration, remains an accepted cost of waging a global war.
Campaign promises
In the opening days of the "War on Terror," the Bush administration designated suspected terrorists as "unlawful enemy combatants" which stripped them of the rights guaranteed under the Third Geneva Convention. Detainees were held for years without trial, and some were subjected to "enhanced interrogation techniques" - such as waterboarding - in secret CIA prisons. Bush administration critics simply called it torture.
But as outrage in the Muslim world grew and Washington's relations with its European allies deteriorated, a growing number of American politicians came to the conclusion that the moral and political costs were outweighing any security benefits. During their presidential campaigns, both John McCain and Barack Obama said they wanted Guantanamo closed.
Fleeting interest
Although President Obama sought a speedy implementation of his campaign promise, political realities raised doubts in Washington about the feasibility of definitively closing the detention camp.
"The Obama administration has found congressional interest to be very fleeting," Matthew Waxman, a senior fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations who worked on detainee affairs during the Bush administration, told Deutsche Welle.
"And they've found a similar phenomenon abroad," Waxman said. "It's very easy for parties to say [they'd] like to see Guantanamo closed until they are actually confronted with the costs of doing so in the form of taking some detainees."
Europe responded hesitantly when asked by Washington to shoulder part of the burden. And the repatriation of Guantanamo inmates to instable countries like Yemen, the home of 90 detainees, raises concern about whether they will be mistreated or prematurely released.
Inadmissible evidence
The Obama administration originally intended to transport many of the detainees to the United States and try them in civilian courts. But prosecuting these cases in the criminal justice system has proven difficult due to lingering allegations of torture from the Bush years.
And according to Waxman, often incomplete evidence has compounded the difficulty of reliably trying and convicting terrorism suspects.
"The bigger issue is that the type of information available to the government about detainees is very difficult to use in court," he said. "Much of it was collected on the battlefield or in the course of intelligence operations at a time when prosecution wasn't seriously contemplated."
Ahmed Ghailani serves as an example of Waxman's point. Accused of participating in the 1998 US embassy bombings in East Africa, Ghailani was the first Guantanamo detainee to face prosecution in a civilian court. The Obama administration expected a decisive conviction, but prosecutors ran into difficulties when Judge Lewis A. Kaplan barred key witness testimony.
Kaplan ruled the testimony inadmissible because the witness had been identified through coercive interrogations in a secret CIA prison. The New York jury ultimately convicted Ghailani on one count of conspiracy. But it also acquitted him of the 284 other charges. As a result, Ghailani's lawyers have said they will seek a retrial due to the inconsistency of his conviction with the overwhelming acquittals.
Political capital 
The politically controversial outcome of Ghailani's trial gave momentum to those opposed to closing Guantanamo and trying terrorism suspects in civilian courts. And this momentum became bi-partisan when a Democrat-controlled Congress last month passed the defense authorization bill that bars funding for the transfer of detainees. 
"Democrats were kind of afraid that they would be painted as soft on terrorism if they didn't go along with this effort," Johannes Thimm, an expert on American foreign policy with the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, told Deutsche Welle.
President Obama could have vetoed the legislation, but the bill included $725 billion (537 billion euro) for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He ultimately signed the bill into law, making it more difficult to accomplish his own goal of holding trials in civilian courts. The Obama administration has promised to work for the repeal of the Guantanamo provisions.
"From his point of view it's sort of a fight that he can't win right now," Thimm said. "He doesn't want to spend too much political capital on it."
Rule of lawlessness? 
Baher Azmy, a constitutional law professor at Seton Hall Law School who has represented Guantanamo detainees, believes Obama's unwillingess to spend that political capital creates an inertia which ratifies many of the policies of the Bush administration.
Indeed, the Obama administration has considered lifting its stay on military commissions. Used extensively under President Bush, the commissions have less stringent rules on the admissibility of evidence. This makes it easier - in theory - to win a case like Ghailani's.
"The fundamental problem that the Obama administration has is their claim that they can choose what court to put a detainee in," Azmy said. "So if they feel like they have super strong evidence, they claim they can put him in a civilian trial. If they don't have enough evidence for a civilian trial, they just drop them in a military commission."
And if there is not enough available evidence to try a detainee in either a civilian court or a military commission, the Obama administration reserves the right to detain terrorism suspects indefinitely, he continued.
Azmy believes the US government's claim that it can choose the legal venue based on the relative strengths or merits of its case contradicts the rule of law and makes representing detainees particularly difficult.
“It's despairing and lawless,” he said.
No end in sight
Although administrations have changed, both sides of the political aisle remain convinced that America faces an existential threat to its national interests. As a consequence, many Republicans and Democrats sanction a permissive set of legal standards.
"The Obama administration believes that the United States is engaged in a war with Al-Qaeda and its allies, and therefore it can draw on the laws of war in conducting counterterrorism operations," Waxman said.
And in this global war, which has now entered its tenth year, peacetime standards of due process have taken a backseat to the national security agenda now set by President Barack Obama.
"I'm worried that we're in a long period of an extra-constitutional national security state, and that the traditional rules will continue to be distorted in order to accommodate the President's national security interests," Azmy said.
As the American-led "War on Terror" drags on, the prospect of definitively ending what candidate Obama called a "sad chapter in American history" is unlikely to occur during his first term as president.
"Guantanamo is going to stay open for quite some time," Waxman said. "At this point, it is virtually impossible to see it be closed during this presidential term, and it is likely to be open well beyond that."
Author: Spencer Kimball
Editor: Michael Knigge

Monday, January 24, 2011

Life Without Tick . . . Tick . . . Tick!

by Saalik Siddikki

The digitalized era has deprived us of many small and simple fascinations that we used to enjoy till four five decades ago.  One of the enthrallments was a rhythmic tick . . . . tick . . . . tick of pendulum clocks.

When I was about 6 and, being the only child of my parents, also was all alone in the house to play with my toys, I was not allowed to go out to play with the street kids for longer periods.  So, I fell victim to indulging in my own world of fantasies.

And most probably that was the only reason that I got into the habit of deep thinking, creative visualization and self-talking.  I read about these subjects in the fourth decade of my life that, quite interestingly, became my favourite subjects for study and practice.

To be very fair, these three subconsciously developed habits have always played a vital role in saving me from mental collapse on numerous occasions.

Sometimes, I wanted to take down the clock to put it among my characterized toys to watch them closely.  I never expressed this kiddish desire to my step mother for fear of admonition.

I had created characters of my own choice; both friends and rivals except the clock.  It never occurred to me to tag it with some name like the toys.  It remained as something very special, beyond fabricated relations that I had with my army of toys.

I remember that my mother would say ‘Look at the clock, when it strikes the hour, your play-time, outdoor, would end.’  I still recall subconsciously visualizing the clock's hands moving to the set time and surprisingly I mostly returned home without inquiring about time from anyone passing by us.  Most of my street-mates were flabbergasted at my accurate perception of the moments when I had to go back home, sometimes even in the middle of the game that I was playing.

We had two pendulum clocks encased in very beautiful wooden frames that were sent to my father, as a special gift, by a friend who resided in England in those days.  My father always expressed his pride in having those valuable clocks sent by his friend.

When I had nothing to do, I used to gaze at the huge clock in our living room.  Its tick . . . tick . . .  tick mesmerized me.  I would move my eyes with the swaying movements of the pendulum in a very soothing, tranquilizing and spiritual rhythm.  And, after a few moments of that hypnotic phase, a kind of very strong energy wave would start radiating in my body moving in a circular motion from head to toe and vice versa.

I assume that many people would have had this type of experience at some stage of their life.

Being the Ring Master of my very own circus, I always got myself engaged in my universe of toys, each of which was labeled as a special character; to such an extent that my mom would yell at me to say something or a clock’s hourly striking sound would break my deep absorption.

In later years, these clocks kept reminding me of their lively presence in the house.  Every moment of 365(6) days of the year recorded sometimes low and sometimes loud tick-ticking during home-studies, listening to radio programmes, enjoying weekend gatherings with friends and, lethargic thinking, relaxing or inducing sleep and of course in all weathers.

There was no escape from those perfectly and mechanically set stubborn tick . . . ticks and chimes of exquisitely designed clocks.

Now, while writing this, I feel that those pendulum clocks, part of every urban household in those days, made us feel the flow of passing time and let the echo of life play a soft but awakening tune for us.

The digitalized era has definitely made some chores of life exceptionally easy, convenient and comfortable for us, but then it also has devoured the mesmerizing tick . . . tick . . . tick of pendulum clocks that were a constant source of reminding us of passage of time and evolution of life.

Besides memorable happy moments of childhood, I also badly miss those tick ticks.

TOP Ten Books with One-Letter Titles

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Australian Open 2011 - Unbelievable

While warming up for her third-round Australian Open match, Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova noticed a bouncy spot on the court. "It was a little bit strange," she said. "I thought Nike had put some extra cushioning in my shoes!"
The chair umpire came out to inspect the area and tried to bounce a ball on the spot. The result has to be seen to be believed:

Source :

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dark-Matter Galaxy Detected

Hidden Dwarf Lurks Nearby?

Signs point to an invisible "Galaxy X" just outside our own.

Richard A. Lovett in Seattle, Washington
Published January 14, 2011

An entire galaxy may be lurking, unseen, just outside our own, scientists announced Thursday.
The invisibility of "Galaxy X"—as the purported body has been dubbed—may be due less to its apparent status as a dwarf galaxy than to its murky location and its overwhelming amount of dark matter, astronomer Sukanya Chakrabarti speculates.

Detectable only by the effects of its gravitational pull, dark matter is an invisible material that scientists think makes up more than 80 percent of the mass in the universe. (See "Dark Matter Detected for First Time.")
Chakrabarti, of the University of California, Berkeley, devised a technique similar to that used 160 years ago to predict the existence of Neptune, which was given away by the wobbles its gravity induced in Uranus's orbit.
Based on gravitational perturbations of gases on the fringes of our Milky Way galaxy, Chakrabarti came to her conclusion that there's a heretofore unknown dwarf galaxy about 260,000 light-years away. (Related: "Huge Black Hole Found in Dwarf Galaxy.")
With an estimated mass equal to only one percent the mass of the Milky Way, Galaxy X is still the third largest of the Milky Way's satellite galaxies, Chakrabarti predicts. The two Magellanic are each about ten times larger.
If it exists, Galaxy X isn't likely to be composed entirely of dark matter.
It should also have a sprinkling of dim stars, Chakrabarti said. "These should provide enough light for astronomers to see it, now that they know where to look," she said.
The reason the dark matter galaxy hasn't yet been seen, she added, is because it lies in the same plane as the Milky Way disc. Clouds of gas and dust stand between us and Galaxy X, confounding telescopes.
Galaxy X Addresses Fundamental Problem
If Galaxy X's existence is confirmed, it would be a major step in verifying our understanding of how the universe condensed from primordial matter and energy after the big bang, Chakrabarti said.
Current theory correctly predicts the distribution of distant galaxies, she said. But it also predicts hundreds of dwarf galaxies around the Milky Way, and to date only a few dozen have been found.
This "missing satellite problem" she said, "is a fundamental problem in cosmology."
More Dark Galaxies Out There?
Galaxy X could soon lead to Galaxies Y and Z, according to Chakrabarti.
"This is basically a new method to render dark galaxies visible," she said, adding that her technique should be able to detect dim dwarf galaxies as small as a thousandth the mass of the Milky Way.
The new finding is a useful contribution to projects aiming to map the distribution of dark matter on the far edges of the universe, according to David Pooley, a Texas-based dark matter astronomer with Eureka Scientific, a private corporation that helps scientists secure research funding.
"All of these dark matter studies are really starting to map out the distribution of dark matter," said Pooley, who was not part of Chakrabarti's team. "Any information we get is extremely valuable."
Galaxy X: The Search Begins
Now that astronomers know where to look for Galaxy X, they should be able to find it, especially if they conduct the search in dust-penetrating infrared light, Chakrabarti said.
"Say you're looking for a car with very dim headlights, in the fog," she said. "If you know approximately where to look, you would have a better chance of finding it."
Chakrabarti hopes to do some looking herself within the next few months and is seeking to secure time at a large infrared telescope.
Even if Galaxy X isn't confirmed, she said, her findings will still shed new light on a shady subject.
The absence of X would mean there's some other oddity out there throwing off the calculations—perhaps an unexpected distribution pattern of the halo of dark matter thought to surround the Milky Way.
"We still stand to learn something very fundamental," she said.
The Galaxy X study is pending in the Astrophysical Journal.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

SMOKING causes gene damage in minutes

Sat Jan 15, 9:17 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Those first few puffs on a cigarette can within minutes cause genetic damage linked to cancer, US scientists said in a study released.
In fact, researchers said the "effect is so fast that it's equivalent to injecting the substance directly into the bloodstream," in findings described as a "stark warning" to those who smoke.
The study is the first on humans to track how substances in tobacco cause DNA damage, and appears in the peer-reviewed journal Chemical Research in Toxicology, issued by the American Chemical Society.
Using 12 volunteer smokers, scientists tracked pollutants called PAHs, or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, that are carried in tobacco smoke and can also be found in coal-burning plants and in charred barbecue food.
They followed one particular type -- phenanthrene, which is found in cigarette smoke -- through the blood and saw it form a toxic substance that is known to "trash DNA, causing mutations that can cause cancer," the study said.
"The smokers developed maximum levels of the substance in a time frame that surprised even the researchers: just 15-30 minutes after the volunteers finished smoking," the study said.
"These results are significant because PAH diol epoxides react readily with DNA, induce mutations, and are considered to be ultimate carcinogens of multiple PAH in cigarette smoke," the study said.
Lead scientist Stephen Hecht said the study is unique because it examines the effects of inhaling cigarette smoke, without interference from other sources of harm such as pollution or a poor diet.
"The results reported here should serve as a stark warning to those who are considering starting to smoke cigarettes," Hecht said.
Lung cancer kills about 3,000 people around the world each day, and 90 percent of those deaths are attributable to cigarette smoking.
The research was funded by the National Cancer Institute.