Tennis Legend Martina Navratilova Proposes Marriage to Julia Lemigova


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Martina Navratilova and her Russian girlfriend Julia Lemigova at the US Open 2013 on September 7, 2013 (Source: PacificCoastNews.com)

Martina Navratilova and her Russian girlfriend Julia Lemigova at the US Open 2013 on September 7, 2013 (Source: PacificCoastNews.com)

The tennis legend Martina Navratilova (57) and the Russian beauty queen Julia Lemigova (42) have been lovers since 2006. Their dating came to an end on Saturday, September 6, 2014, when Navratilova proposed marriage to Lemigova on the big screen of Arthur Ashe Stadium between the US Open men’s semi-finals.

When Navratilova popped the question, a teary Lemigova said, “yes,” and the crowd cheered loudly.

Later, Navratilova said:

“I was very nervous. It came off. She [Lemigova] said yes. It was kind of an out-of-body experience. You’ve seen people propose at sporting events before, in movies, in real life. Here, it was happening to me. It was like I was watching myself do it.”

Navratilova once said that during 1981 US Open finals when the crowd gave her a long ovation as the runner-up when she lost to Tracy Austin, it was the first time she felt accepted as a new American citizen and a gay woman.

This time the legend said:

“What’s been amazing is the outpouring of support from everywhere, including when I was walking through the stadium afterwards with people saying, ‘Congratulations,’ people on the street saying, ‘Congratulations,’ and the Twitter outpouring has been unbelievably supportive.”

Today, in the United States, gay couples can marry in 19 states and in the District of Columbia. Navratilova said she and Lemigova prefer to get married in Florida, where they live. Last month, a federal judge in Florida ruled that the state’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, but Florida officials are appealing.

By the way, Julia Lemigova is not the first lover of Martina Navratilova.

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Would You like to Live in a Topsy-turvy House?


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. (1 Corinthians 1:25)

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The upside down house in the village of Szymbark , Poland

The upside down house in the village of Szymbark , Poland

Would you like to live in a topsy-turvy house like the above one? This house can be found in the tiny village of Szymbark in the municipality of Stężyca, in northern Poland. It is a center for winter sports.

As on December 31, 2011, the village of Szymbark had a total of 627 residents, with 544 people living in the main part of the village. The above upside-down house was built in 2007 by Daniel Czapiewski, a Polish businessman, builder and philanthropist.

Normally, it takes hardly three weeks for Czapiewski’s company to build a house. However, this extra-ordinary creative project took 114 days because of its structural design; moreover, the workers were a bit confused by the topsy-turvy architecture.

In 2010, in a poll conducted by “Official Baltic,” voted the Kashubian entrepreneur as  “The Man of the Year 2010″ for his ingenuity of design that has become a tourist attraction in Szymbark.

In the first place, what prompted Daniel Czapiewski to design the house to stand upside down? Well, the eccentric person that he is, Daniel Czapiewski opines that it represents his view on the current state of the world – the time of uncertainty after the end of the communist era in Poland.

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By the way, this house in the village of Szymbark, Poland is not the first upside down house to be built. Wonderworks Upside Down Building in Florida opened in 1998. There are also upside down houses in Austria, Germany, Russia, Spain, Turkey, South Korea, a café in Japan and so on.

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This is not a house, it is a statue in Vancouver, Canada (Image credits - papalars)

This is not a church, it is a sculpture in Canada (Image credits: papalars)

The above image is a unique statue and not a church. American sculptor Dennis Oppenheim designed this imposing 22 x 18 x 9 feet sculpture composed of galvanized structural steel, anodized perforated aluminum, transparent red Venetian glass, and concrete foundations, as an upside down church, with its steeple buried in the ground.

The piece, initially called “Church,” was proposed to the Public Art Fund in the city of New York to be built on Church Street. It was commissioned by the President’s Panel on Art. However, the president of Stanford University turned down the sculpture since he considered it as “not appropriate” for the campus. The director thought it was too provocative and might infuriate the Church and the religious folks in that area. To evade this situation Dennis Oppenheim then changed the title to “Device to Root out Evil”.

Though the “Device to Root Out Evil” was too hot for New York City, too hot for Stanford University, it finally found a public home in Vancouver. It was first installed in a public park in Vancouver, Canada. As expected, people again considered it too hot for Vancouver as well. The public had a mixed reaction towards the work and the Vancouver public parks committee voted to remove the sculpture. The Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Canada seized the opportunity to display the sculpture. After removing it from Vancouver, the museum placed it in Ramsay, Calgary’s most creative neighbourhood where it is now being celebrated.

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Kudankulam N-plant: Safety norms gains primacy over commissioning deadline


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Indrani Bagchi

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Posted on May 16, 2013 in THE TIMES OF INDIA.

Kudankulam Nuclear Plant

Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, Tirunelveli district, Tamilnadu, India

NEW DELHI: Regardless of the recent promise made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Durban about the early commissioning of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant (KKNPP), the government has instructed the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) that safety reviews of KKNPPshould be run with a “fine-toothed comb” without being pressured by commissioning deadline. In fact, the government had recently invited the Operational Safety Review Team of the IAEA to do an independent safety assessment of other Indian reactors, particularly RAPS (in Rajasthan).

Last week, the Supreme Court cleared the power plant, paving the way for early commissioning. Originally, the plant was scheduled to be commissioned in 2007.

A whole new set of safety checks were conducted by the AERB after four valves that came from a Russian supplier were found to be “deficient”.

Stung by a series of popular protests about safety issues in Kudankulam, which has inspired protests by a large number of NGOs, the government is keen that no stone is left unturned. If this means the Russians are less than pleased, sources said, so be it. They added that some of the supplies from Russian companies have been found to be below par.

NPCIL has that the commissioning of KKNPP would now happen only in June, after another set of checks are carried out. The company said the physical progress of the plant was 99.6% complete.

This week a group of 60 leading scientists wrote a letter to the PM, and chief ministers of Tamil Nadu and Kerala asking for more stringent safety checks of the KKNPP. They have sought “renewed study” of safety issues by an independent panel of experts. The scientists — most of them serving in state-run institutions — have expressed doubts, “particularly with reference to possible sub-standard components” used in the plant.

These are not scientists advocating against nuclear energy, but concerned about safety issues. “These safety concerns are compounded by the fact that Russian authorities arrested Sergei Shutov, procurement director of Zio-Podolsk, on corruption charges for having sourced cheaper sub-standard steel for manufacturing components that were used in Russian nuclear installations in Bulgaria, Iran, China and India,” they wrote in the letter, The arrest of Shutov, they cited, led to several complaints of sub-standard components and follow-up investigations in both Bulgaria and China.

While the AERB gave an in-principle clearance for fuel loading of the plant in April, hopes that it would be commissioned by May were dashed after faulty valves made news. In an effort to quell the protests and spiralling negative perception about the power plant, the government has been on an information overdrive to educate and be transparent. This week, minister of state V Narayanasamy said, “All nuclear power projects undergo an elaborate in-depth safety review during the consenting stages, like siting, construction, commissioning, etc. After satisfactory review during project stage, AERB issues operating licence to an NPP for a period of up to five years.”

Last week, responding to a question in Parliament, government assured that components supplied to KKNPP are “tested in an integrated manner during commissioning to verify their performance in accordance to design performance criteria. Any shortfall noticed in performance is addressed/corrected as a part of the commissioning programme”.

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Re-posted from THE TIMES OF INDIA

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The Chernobyl Disaster: April 26, 1986


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Model of the inside of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant after the disaster. The lid of the reactor (metal, center) was blown off. (Photo from Chernobyl Museum, Kiev, Ukraine.)

Model of the inside of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant after the disaster. The lid of the reactor (metal, center) was blown off. (Photo from Chernobyl Museum, Kiev, Ukraine.)

26 years ago, on April 26, 1986, a catastrophic nuclear accident occurred at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant situated about 130 km north of Kiev, Ukraine, and about 20 km south of the border with Belarus. The explosion and fire released large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere that spread over much of Western USSR and Europe, contaminating large areas of Belarus, Ukraine, Russia and beyond in varying degrees.

The Chernobyl Disaster, the worst nuclear power plant accident in history, is the first of the only two classified level 7 events on the International Nuclear Event Scale; the other being the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011.

The Soviet Union claimed that the Chernobyl Disaster, was a unique event and the only accident in the history of commercial nuclear power, where radiation-related fatalities occurred. They said the design of the reactor being unique the accident is thus of little relevance to the rest of the nuclear industry outside the Eastern Bloc.

The Chernobyl Power Plant Complex consisted of four nuclear reactors of the RBMK-1000 design with units 1 and 2 constructed between 1970 and 1977, while Units 3 and 4 of the same design completed in 1983. Two more RBMK reactors were under construction at the site at the time of the accident.

To contain the contamination and avert a greater catastrophe, the Soviet Union employed over 500,000 workers and spent an estimated 18 billion rubles.

Chernobyl disasterAccording to the Soviets, the accident destroyed the Chernobyl unit 4 reactor, killing one person immediately while a second person died in hospital soon after due to injuries. A third person died from a coronary thrombosis. Out of the 237 people on-site originally diagnosed for acute radiation syndrome (ARS) during the clean-up, 134 cases were confirmed. Of these, 28 people died as a result of ARS within a few weeks of the accident. Subsequently 19 more died between 1987 and 2004, however, their deaths cannot necessarily be attributed to radiation exposure. Nobody off-site suffered from acute radiation effects although a large proportion of childhood thyroid cancers diagnosed since the accident is likely to be due to intake of radioactive iodine fallout.

The official Soviet casualty count of deaths is under dispute. Long-term effects such as deformities and cancers are still being accounted for.

By October 1986, the Soviets enclosed Chernobyl unit 4 in a large concrete shelter to allow continuing operation of the other reactors at the complex. However, that concrete  structure is neither strong nor durable. Around 200 tonnes of highly radioactive material remains deep within it, and this poses an environmental hazard until it is better contained.

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Click here to see the video series “Chernobyl Disaster Incident PART 1-8

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KUDANKULAM N-PLANT IN DANGER? SUPPLIER HELD FOR SHODDY PARTS


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By Kumar Chellappan

Posted on April 8, 2013 in the pioneer

ZiO-Podolsk Engineering Plant manufactures steam generators for NPPs of the Russian design

ZiO-Podolsk Engineering Plant manufactures steam generators for NPPs of the Russian design.

Against the backdrop of the arrest of Sergei Shutov, a director of Zio-Podolsk, a subsidiary of Rosatom, on charges of corruption, fraud and supplying cheap Ukrainian steel blanks and steam generators in nuclear reactors, former chairman of Atomic Energy Regulatory Board Dr A Gopalakrishnan has demanded an immediate investigation into the safety of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in India as it was Podolsk that had supplied components for the reactor.

He demanded constitution of an independent body of nuclear engineering specialists to ascertain the KNPP’s safety.

This is the first time in the history of the Indian nuclear establishment, a former chief regulator, who is respected all over the nuclear world for his no-nonsense approach, has questioned the claims of the Government that the plant is foolproof and “greener than even green”.

Gopalakrishnan, a nuclear power engineer with more than five decades of experience, said nothing was right with the 1,000 MW reactor built with Russian assistance. “The inordinate delay in the commissioning of the plant and the silence of the country’s nuclear regulator, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, has substantiated our doubts about the safety and security of the plant,” said the country’s former chief nuclear regulator.

Addressing the delegates of the all-India convention on “approach to the power question in the country”, organised jointly by People’s Committee for Safe Energy (PECOSE, promoted by the Lefts) and Breakthrough Science Society, Gopalakrishnan, said the silence maintained by both the Department of Atomic Energy and Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, was disgusting and dubious. “The AERB chairman should have been here to address the doubts in our minds. But they are avoiding the people,” he thundered.

He said there were many corruption charges. “Remember, these charges were made by the investigating agency in Russia, their equivalent of India’s CBI. There are charges that inferior quality materials have gone into the crucial components of the reactor being built at Kudankulam.

These are not allegations raised by journalists or social activists. The Russian Government itself had declared the other day about the arrest of Shutov, director of Zio-Podolsk, a Rosatom subsidiary, which supplied the KNPP reactor,” said Dr Gopalakrishnan.

Shutov was arrested on charges of corruption, fraud and for supplying cheap Ukrainian steel blanks and steam generators in nuclear reactors built by Rosatom. “The scope of this scandal could reach every reactor built and supplied by Russia over the past several years. This demands immediate investigation,” a spokesman of Russian security service had told the country’s media.

Gopalakrishnan pointed out that the initial agreement for building the nuclear plant was signed between India and the then USSR in 1988. By 1991 the USSR disintegrated. “The subsidiary units which were supplying the components for the Russian nuclear establishment too fell into undesirable hands. The arrest of the Zio-Podolsk executive in connection with the distribution of cheap and fraudulent materials to reactors is shocking because the same company had supplied components to the nuclear reactor at Kudankulam. Let the Russian authorities themselves come here, examine the entire components and certify that they are of good quality,” Gopalakrishnan said.

He described the claims of YN Dudkin, head of the Russian Specialists Group, that the Kudankulam reactors were the safest in the world as a ploy to hoodwink the people as well as the Centre. “It is the claim of a salesman. We want an official assurance from the Russian Atomic Energy Regulator. Then let’s constitute a body of independent nuclear engineering specialists and have a discussion on the thorny issues. The reactor should be cleared only after these formalities,” he said.

Dudkin had claimed that two Russian reactors, each of 1,000 MW are functioning normally in China. “Do you know that the Chinese are examining the entire reactor components following the arrest of the Zio-Podolsk executive,” said Gopalakrishnan.

The former AERB chairman was highly critical of the stance of APJ Abdul Kalam, former President, who declared the plant safer after a two-hour whirlwind tour in Kudankulam. “Who authorised Kalam to make such a statement? He is only a missile engineer and does not know anything about nuclear energy. How can such a person make a statement like that?” asked Gopalakrishnan.

According to Gopalakrishnan, more than the energy requirements of the country, what weighed in the minds of the people who lead the UPA Government was personal gains. “They have thrown to winds the well thought out Indian nuclear plan conceived and developed by Dr Homi J Bhabha and Dr Vikram Sarabhai. Dr Bhabha and Dr Sarabhai wanted India to be free from the shackles of the western world which controls the uranium reserve of the world. The Bhabha Plan was to build a network of nuclear reactors to harness the vast thorium reserve of the country. But we will never reach a stage where we can make use of the Thorium reserves if we import of nuclear reactors,” he said.

Gopalakrishnan pointed out that it is humanly impossible to meet 40 or 50 per cent of the country’s energy needs through nuclear power. “You require hundreds of reactors. Do we have the space for that? Remember that all the reactors we are planning to import run on enriched uranium. We do not have uranium resources. The companies selling these reactors to us will give fuel for two years which will be renewed subject to their satisfaction about our conduct. Our nuclear sovereignty has been surrendered to the western powers by the Manmohan Singh Government,” charged Gopalakrishnan.

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Nuclear meltdown

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Feodor Vassilyev: The Russian Who Sired 87 Children in 35 Births


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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On July 26, 2012, I posted an article titled “News: A woman gave birth to 11 baby boys in Surat, India.” Yesterday, Gurdip Singh Suri, a reader, commented:

“IT is nothing as per news over internet file Mr Vassilyev and his first wife, holds the record for most children a couple has parented. She gave birth to a total of 69 children. She gave birth to 16 pairs of twins, 7 sets of triplets and 4 sets of quadruplets between 1725 and 1765, in a total of 27 births. 67 of the 69 children born are said to have survived infancy.” (sic)

In an article titled “Feodor Vassilyev and Wikipedia’s Gender Imbalances” posted on November 13, 2011, in zerogeography.net, Mark Graham says:

Two papers in particular demonstrated the gender imbalances not only exist, but also significantly influence the types of information that exist in Wikipedia (the papers were titled ‘An Exploration of Wikipedia’s Gender Imbalance’ and ‘Gender Differences in Wikipedia Editing’.

Perhaps the most interesting discussion of these imbalances came during a talk by Jen Lowe when she brought up the Wikipedia article on Feodor Vassilyev.

Feodor is apparently notable enough for a Wikipedia article because his wife sets the record for the most children birthed by a single woman. Just to reiterate, it is Mr. Vassilyev and not Mrs. Vassilyev who is deemed notable enough to have a Wikipedia article here!

This prompted me to learn more about this uncanny phenomenon.

The first published account about Feodor Vassilyev and his children appeared in the September 1783 issue of the Gentleman’s Magazine, and Historical Chronicle, Volume 53, Part 2, p.753, published in London that features a letter written by a person who has signed his name as X.Y.

Here is a facsimile of that letter:

69 children - 1

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69 children - 3

The writer concludes:

“The above relation, however astonishing, may be depended upon, as it came directly from an English merchant in St Petersburg to his relatives in England, who added that the peasant was to be introduced to the Empress. A few such subjects would remove the great deficit of population in her extensive dominions.”

In 1989, in Quadruples and Higher Multiple Births, on pages 96-97 under the heading “Feodor Vassilyev: a case of remarkable fecundity” Marie M. Clay wrote:

Feodor Vassilyev - A case of remarkable fecundity - 1

Feodor Vassilyev - A case of remarkable fecundity - 2

Marie Clay notes: “Sadly, this evasion of proper investigation seems, in retrospect, to have dealt a terminal blow to our chances of ever establishing the true detail of this extraordinary case”.

In Saint Petersburg Panorama, Bashutski, 1834, the author notes that:

In the day of 27 February 1782, the list from Nikolskiy monastery came to Moscow containing the information that a peasant of the Shuya district, Feodor Vassilyev, married twice, had 87 children. His first wife in 27 confinements gave birth to 16 pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets and four sets of quadruplets. His second wife in eight confinements gave birth to six pairs of twins and two sets of triplets. F. Vassilyev was 75 at that time with 82 of his children alive.”

Many have raised doubts about the truth of these claims. In 1933, Julia Bell, M.A., M.R.C.P., published an article titled “PLURAL BIRTHS WITH A NEW PEDIGREE” in Biometrika, states that a 1790 book Statistische Schilderung von Rutsland written by B. F. J. Hermann provided the claims about the children of Feodor Vassilyev, but “with a caution”. Bell also states that in 1878, The Lancet reported this case in an article about the study of twins. This article states that the French Academy of Sciences attempted to verify the claims about Vassilyev’s children and contacted M. Khanikoff of the Imperial Academy of St Petersburg for advice as to the means they should pursue. Khanikoff told that all investigation were superfluous, and the members of the family still lived in Moscow and that they had been the object of favours from the Government.

However, here is the story.

Feodor Vassilyev a peasant from Shuya, Russia was born around 1707 and died in 1782. Between 1725 and 1765, his first wife Valentina gave birth to a total of 69 children: 16 pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets and four sets of quadruplets in a total of 27 births. Out of the 69 children born, 67 survived infancy.

His second wife gave birth to six pairs of twins and two sets of triplets totalling 18 children in eight births.

So, Feodor Vassilyev sired 87 children in 35 births.
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Koodankulam: Shoddy equipment develops leaks


Sam Rajappa.

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By Sam Rajappa

Posted on February 17, 2013, in The Island

Kudankulam Protest rally - 01

Demonstrators near the Kudankulam nuclear power project (File Photo)

ACCORDING to the Department of Atomic Energy and the authorities of Nuclear Power Corporation of India, the loading of uranium fuel rods at the 1,000 MWe-capacity first unit of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project was completed on 2 October last year, but has not produced a single unit of electricity so far. Critical equipment supplied by Atomstroyexport of Russia, building nuclear reactors abroad, were found to be shoddy and have developed leaks even before commissioning of the plant. The financial statement released by Atomstroyexport shows its losses have doubled in the last year and it is on the brink of bankruptcy. Russian engineers at the Koodankulam plant site have not been able to plug the leaks. In a desperate attempt to commission the plant, as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has made it a prestige issue, NPCIL has flown in technicians from Croatia and Germany to carry out repairs in the Russian designed and erected plant. NPCIL claims to have spent an excess of Rs. 4,500 crore on the non-functioning power plant. The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy has threatened to lay siege on the Koodankulam nuclear complex in a non-violent manner if the Centre commissions the first unit in haste and secrecy without attending to its safety requirements, and sought a White Paper on the KKNPP and its reactors from the Centre. It was turned down.

An official statement issued by NPCIL on 25 January said the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board has given permission to “repeat the full systems test at the first unit.” One needs to repeat a test only if it failed in the first instance. NPCIL’s desire to gloss over its failure and make it seem as if the ‘permission’ is a hard-won victory is understandable. But why is the AERB condescending even after RK Sinha, chairman of Atomic Energy Commission, had said that “there are some system parameters like flow, pressure, temperature that need to be maintained within particular values.” During the first hydro test conducted last December, certain valves did not behave the way the manufacturer claimed they would. These valves were opened, repaired, and some components replaced. The fact that brand new valves malfunctioned raises questions about the quality of equipment supplied. Identification of defective valves at this late pre-commissioning stage suggests that the quality of assurance of individual components was deficient.

In February last year, Russia’s Federal Security Service arrested Sergei Shutov, procurement director of Rosatom subsidiary Zio-Podolsk, on charges of corruption and fraud. Zio-Podolsk is the sole supplier of steam generators and some other key components for Russian nuclear reactors worldwide, including India. Shutov was charged with using cheap Ukranian steel blanks in nuclear reactors. NPCIL should reveal whether the leaky valves were supplied by Zio-Podolsk. A PTI feature issued in July 2011 reveals, quoting DAE sources, that the Koodankulam plant was expected to be commissioned in March 2009, long before protesters held up work on the project for nearly six months, but was delayed because of difficulties experienced in receiving equipment from Russia “in sequential order.” The article says: “The designers discovered that several kilometers of power and control cables in the reactor were missed after the completion of double containment of the reactor.” The problem was rectified after the cables meant for power supply to instrumentation in different buildings were incorporated by breaking open the concrete walls in the containment domes and was sealed again bringing the cables from the switch yard to inside. Breaking open and resealing the containment dome is unprecedented in nuclear power industry.

As the Manmohan Singh government is determined to unleash all kinds of atrocities on peaceful protesters against the shaky Koodankulam plant like filing 325 cases including sedition, waging war on the Indian State and on other serious sections of the Cr PC and IPC with 5,296 named as accused and 221,483 unnamed accused at one police station alone near the plant site, PMANE has taken up the issue with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi who had earlier reached out to the tribal people opposed to Vedanta Resource’s Rs. 4,500-crore bauxite mining project in Orissa’s Niyamgiri Hills. Rahul had then said: “True development takes place by respecting the interests of the poor,” and offered to be their sipahi in Delhi. SP Udayakumar, coordinator of PMANE, in a letter to Rahul, said if the Congress did not respect people’s power, democracy and peaceful struggles, and starts the Koodankulam plant forcibly, it would prompt the voters at least in Tamil Nadu and Kerala to shun the Congress.

Unmindful of the people’s fears about the breaking open and resealing of the dome of the Koodankulam plant, the AERB, DAE and NPCIL remain tight-lipped. Even a small mishap in a nuclear facility will have the potential to destroy millions of people in our densely populated country. In a recent report, the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India has passed strictures on the ‘toothless’ AERB for not even ensuring nuclear and radiation safety in any of the atomic installations in the country. The long-awaited Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority Bill, tabled in the Lok Sabha on 7 September 2011, ostensibly to bring about much needed independence and transparency in administering safety of nuclear operations, remains a non-starter. According to A Gopalakrishnan, former chairman of AERB, the Bill fails to serve any of its laudable objectives in its present form.

The Bill seeks to establish a Council of Nuclear Safety to be chaired by the Prime Minister and will have as its members five or more Cabinet ministers, the Cabinet Secretary, chairman of the AEC and experts nominated by the Union government. The CAS will constitute two search committees, one to select the chairperson and the other to select members of the NSRA. The CNS is empowered to create an Appellate Authority to hear any appeals on any order or decision of the NSRA. The same Appellate Authority will also decide on appeals from the government against the NSRA. What the government tries to do under this Bill is to create a high level council under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister to control and curb the freedom of action of the NSRA. Clause 20 of the Bill stipulates the NSRA should function in a manner consistent with the international obligations of India.

If the NSRA were to find the equipment supplied by Russia to the Koodankulam plant substandard and do not conform to safety norms, the regulatory body dare not act for it would be contrary to “India’s international obligations” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has promised unilaterally to his Russian counterpart while on a visit to Moscow in December 2011.

The same clause also says the NSRA “shall not interact with bodies outside India without the prior approval of the government.” The subservient nature of the proposed NSRA has been made abundantly clear in Clause 48(1) which says: “the Central government may, by notification, supersede the regulatory authority for such a period not exceeding six months. Upon notification, the chairperson and members of the NSRA shall vacate their offices as such; … all the powers, functions and duties shall, until the authority is reconstituted, be exercised and discharged by the Central government.” The NSRA can never be independent unless the appointment of its chairperson and selection of members of the regulatory authority as well as suppression of the NSRA are left to Parliament and not to the ruling party of the day. (The Statesman/ANN)

Re-posted from The Island

About the author:

Sam Rajappa

Sam Rajappa is a journalist with over five decades experience in media. He is The Weekend Leader’s Consulting Editor. Sam started his career in journalism in 1960 as a sub-editor with the Free Press Journal in Bombay. In 1962 he joined The Statesman in New Delhi and later moved to Chennai. He was associated with the paper till 2008. In 1980, he took a year’s sabbatical from The Statesman to set up the South Indian network of India Today, and worked as their South India bureau chief based in Bangalore. Again, he took a short break from the paper in 1996 to launch The Andhra Pradesh Times, an English daily published from Hyderabad, as its founder-editor. For about fifteen years, since 1980, Sam was also the BBC’s South India correspondent. He was an adjunct faculty member of the Chennai-based Asian College of Journalism from 2001 to 2007 and later served as Director of The Statesman Print Journalism School, Kolkata.

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News: Russian Meteorite Shards Command ‘Stratospheric’ Prices


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Feb. 18, 2013: In this frame grab taken from AP video, a researcher touches a piece of a meteorite in a laboratory in Yekaterinburg. Researchers from the Urals Federal University, based in Yekaterinburg, have determined that the small stone-like pieces found near Lake Cherbarkul in the Chelyabinsk region are pieces of the meteorite that exploded over the region Feb. 15. A total of 53 pieces have been brought for analysis to the university in Yekaterinburg.(Source: AP Photo/ The Urals Federal University Press Service, Alexander Khlopotov)

February 18, 2013: Researchers from the Ural Federal University, based in Ekaterinburg, have determined that the small stone-like pieces found near Lake Cherbarkul in the Chelyabinsk region are pieces of the meteorite that exploded over the region on February 15. The university received a total of 53 pieces for analysis. (Source: AP Photo/ The Urals Federal University Press Service, Alexander Khlopotov)

The meteorite that streaked at a hypersonic speed of at least 33,000 mph across the morning sky over Chelyabinsk, Russia on Friday, February 15 at 3:20:26 UTC exploded and disintegrated about 18-32 miles above the ground. According to media reports, the shock wave from the explosion estimated as equal to 30 Hiroshima atomic bombs of August 1945, blew out the windows of 900 schools and hospitals, damaged around 100,000 homes, and injured nearly 1,200 people, It induced an undeniable trauma in many residing in and around Chelyabinsk. Fellow blogger, science fiction and fantasy author Bill Housley aptly wrote that it was similar “To Be Shot at and Missed.

Asteroid expert Don Yeomans, head of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office said the object that streaked across the sky over this Russian industrial city was most likely a bolide – an exploding fireball.

The sonic blast shattered windows in and around Chelyabinsk. Scattered amid the broken glass are bits of space rock that sparked on a “meteorite rush.”

Amateur enthusiasts in Russia and scientists alike are scrambling to find bits of the meteorite worth more than their weight in gold. Dmitry Kachkalin, a member of the Russian Society of Amateur Meteorite Lovers said that enthusiasts will pay dearly for them. “The price is hard to say yet … The fewer meteorites recovered, the higher their price,” Kachkalin told Reuters. He estimates that chunks could be worth up to $2,200 per gram — more than 40 times the current cost of gold, the news agency said.

Within hours after the explosion, many residents of Chelyabinsk and its neighborhood  had listed shards of the meteorite on classified ads sites.

International Business Times reported that a person named Andrew advertised 18 pieces of the meteor for 500 rubles (about $16.61) each on avito.ru, – the largest Russian-language free classifieds site. “There are 18 pieces of size as a wristwatch,” Andrew wrote on the site. “You can choose as souvenirs or for stories. BOOK ME IN ADVANCE, to snap up FAST!”

Another Russian felt his rocks were more worthy, asking 300,000 rubles (roughly $10,000) for a piece of the rock. “A piece of the meteor for sale, it’s new,” Sergey wrote, with a photo of himself holding a piece of stone.

Russia’s Lake Chebarkul meteorite crater

The crater created by the meteorite in Russia’s Lake Chebarkul.

On Monday, scientists from Ural Federal University (UrFU) in Ekaterinburg found shards of the meteorite which fell on 15 February near lake Chebarkul near Chelyabinsk, about 1500 kilometers east of Moscow. The expedition team released a photo showing 53 tiny fragments of the meteor each about 0.2-inch-long.

Dr. Alexey Ischenko from UrFU Meteorite Expedition studying a piece of celestial body

Dr. Alexey Ischenko from UrFU Meteorite Expedition studying a piece of the celestial body

Shards of 'Meteorite Chebarkul'

Shards of ‘Meteorite Chebarkul’

According to Viktor Grokhovsky, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences‘ Committee on meteorites and the leader of the expedition, told the Interfax news service that the meteorite belonged to the class of regular chondrites. “These stone fragments contain about 10% iron. The meteor is likely to be called ‘Meteorite Chebarkul’,” the scientist said.

He then added: “We have found tiny pieces, about 50-53 in all, and each measure in millimeters. That was all we could find in the snow around the crater. The fragments we found are traces of the outer layer of the meteorite – there is a melted crust and so forth – which mean that the basic mass lies there, in the lake.”

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The Meteorite Explosion that Shook Chelyabinsk, Russia on February 15, 2013


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Russian Meteor

A meteor seen flying over Russia on Feb. 15 at 3:20: 26 UTC impacted Chelyabinsk.

A meteor entered the Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrated in the skies over Chelyabinsk, Russia, at 7:20:26 PM PST, or 10:20:26 PM EST on February 14 (3:20:26 UTC on February 15).

At a news conference on Friday, NASA scientists said the object was a “tiny asteroid”. The trajectory of this meteor differed appreciably from the trajectory of the asteroid 2012 DA14, which hours later made its flyby of Earth, making both objects completely unrelated.

The Russian Emergency Ministry described it as a shower of meteorite debris. However, some unconfirmed reports suggested that Russian air defenses shot down a meteorite. NASA asteroid expert Don Yeomans, head of the agency’s Near-Earth Object Program Office, said that the object which exploded was most likely an exploding fireball known as a bolide.

According to the preliminary information that appeared in the media unidentified flying objects exploded over several cities in Russia, and the object at Chelyabinsk measured 49 feet (15 meters) across, weighing 7,000 tons and released 30 kilotons of energy when it exploded, and the blast waves blew out window glass of buildings in Chelyabinsk, sending dozens to hospitals, disrupted mobile services, and reportedly injured more than 1,000 people. Many dashboard videos appeared online, showing huge fireballs flying over buildings and exploding with a strong blast. Some walls of the Chelyabinsk Zinc Factory that produced 160,000 metric tons of refined zinc and alloys last year collapsed with extensive damage to the plant.

Now NASA says information provided by a worldwide network of sensors has allowed scientists to revise their estimates for the size of the object before entering Earth’s atmosphere to 55 feet (17 meters), weighing about 10,000 tons. Bill Cooke, head of the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama said the energy released during the explosion amounted to 500 kilotons equal to that of an exploding modern nuclear bomb.

Fresh data collected from five more infrasound stations located around the world helped to generate these new estimates. The first infra-sound recording of the event took place in Alaska – over 6,500 kilometers away from Chelyabinsk. Calculations performed by Peter Brown at the University of Western Ontario, Canada, using infrasound data show the time taken by the object from entering the atmosphere to its disintegration in the air took 32.5 seconds.

Paul Chodas of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California said, “We would expect an event of this magnitude to occur once every 100 years on average “

The present Russia meteor is the largest reported since 1908, when a meteor hit Tunguska, Siberia.

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Doomsday hysteria grips Russia


Survival kits and trips to hell, doomsday hysteria grips Russia …

Source:  RT – 01 December, 2012

RIA Novosti / Sergey Yolkin

RIA Novosti / Sergey Yolkin

Doomsday hysteria has gripped Russia and some of its neighbors. Travel agencies are selling tours to either heaven or hell and people are stocking up on food and fuel. Officials are publicly denying the apocalypse, hoping to calm the hype.

Those awaiting Doomsday have three weeks to finish their preparations before the date of the much publicized apocalypse allegedly predicted by Mayan calendar, that is going to happen on December 21, 2012.

Thousands of people across Russia keep stocking up their back rooms and balconies with food, fuel and other supplies they might need when disaster strikes. Some are even moving outside of cities because of the widely spread rumors that cities would be impossible to survive in after an apocalypse on Earth.

According to one of the most popular scenarios, on December 21 the sun is going to line up with the center of our Milky Way galaxy which will cause an entire blackout on Earth and a wave of different natural disasters.

Doomsday merchandize offered in Russia and Ukraine include survival kits. In the Siberian city of Tomsk such itemsfor “meeting the end of the world” include ID cards, notepads, canned fish, a bottle of vodka, rope, a piece of soap, among other items. The packages are said to be popular among customers, more than 1,000 kits have been already sold, the company says.

Ukrainian entrepreneurs also offer a version of a doomsday kit. Just like Tomsk package, the Ukrainian one also includes alcohol: champagne for ladies and vodka for gentlemen. The rest of the kit consist of jack-knife, two-minute noodles, shampoo, soap, rope, matches and condoms.

Marina Mendelson wedding agency sells Last Day sets in Tomsk. (RIA Novosti / Yakov Andreev)
Marina Mendelson wedding agency sells Last Day sets in Tomsk. (RIA Novosti / Yakov Andreev)

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Not all doom and gloom

An apocalypse kit is not the only way for the entrepreneurial minded to cash in on the end of the world hype.

One Ukrainian enterprise is selling tours to heaven and hell for December 21 promising full return of money in case of “not getting to heaven or hell.” A trip to heaven would cost about $15, while trip to the underworld is more expensive at around $18. The agency explains difference in price by saying that Hell should be more fun.

While Ukrainian trips are even said by the firm behind to be just for fun, some individuals in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod offered far more expensive doomsday fair – one being a salvation trip in an arc. An internet ad offered seats in the arc for just 80,000-150,000 rubles, which is approximately $2,600-5,000.

Bars and nightclubs are getting ready for apocalypse day in their own way announcing theme parties and inventing special cocktails like “Total Recall” – an extremely alcoholic drink that makes you “recall your entire life.”

But doomsday hysteria isn’t isolated to just the former soviet Republic. In France authorities had to ban access to a mountain that doomsday theorists believe will be the only safe spot during the apocalypse on December 21.

At the birthplace of Mayan calendar, Mexico and Guatemala agencies offer tours “The end of the world with Maya” and “The world of Maya 2012.”

Pictures advertizing tickets to heaven sold for $15. Images taken from pokupon.uaPictures advertizing tickets to heaven sold for $15. Images taken from pokupon.ua

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Russian officials cancel apocalypse

Meanwhile, in Russia rapidly growing doomsday hype has sparked a negative reaction from authorities.

Russia`s Emergency Ministry is not expecting any global cataclysms in the near future, the head of EMERCOM Vladimir Puchkov said on Friday, adding that those worried are free to call the Ministry hotline to talk about their concerns.

Another senior official took a more emotional stance about doomsday speculations. Russia`s Chief Medical Officer of Health Gennady Onishenko lashed out at those publicizing the apocalypse warning that they would end up in court.

“This directly influences people`s health. When they depress you and say that in less than one month everything is going to end, there are many people, who believe this,” he said.

Russian State Duma deputies wrote an open letter urging media to stop speculating about the doomsday. The deputy head of the Duma committee on Science and Technology publicly promised that no apocalypse is happening on December 21.

“In our committee there are academics and scientists, and with all responsibility we state that there will be no doomsday. Who made that up and circulates this around?” he asked.

Mayan legacy

The speculations about December 21, 2012, doomsday are prompted by the Mayan calendar ending on this very day.

The Mayan civilization reached its height from 300 AD to 900 AD was based in modern day Mexico and Central America. Mayans were good astronomers and created very precise calendars.

Their Long Count calendar begins in 3,114 BC, measuring time in 394-year periods known as Baktuns. The thirteenth Baktun ends around Dec 21, 2012, which first produced rumors about the end of the world.

Despite numerous scientists and Mayan descendants denying the connection between the end of the calendar and the end of the world the rumors quickly got out of control causing public hysteria.

It is not known why this particular end of the world theory became so popular. Over two dozen doomsday predictions have failed to materialize since the beginning of the 20th century.

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