Francois Hollande is the new French President

Paris: France handed the presidencyon Sunday to leftist Francois Hollande, a champion of government stimulus programs who says the state should protect the downtrodden – a victory that could deal a death blow to the drivefor austerity that has been the hallmark of Europe in recent years.
Mild and affable, the president-elect inherits a country deep in debt and divided over how to integrate immigrants while preserving its national identity. Markets will closely watch his initialmoves as president.
He narrowly defeated the hard-driving, attention-getting Nicolas Sarkozy, an America-friendly leader who led the country through its worst economic troubles since World War II but whose policies and personality proved too bitter for many voters to swallow.
“Austerity can no longer be inevitable!” Hollande declared in hisvictory speech after a surprising campaign that saw him transform from an unremarkable figure to an increasingly statesmanlike one. He will take office no later than May 16.
Speaking to exuberant crowds, Hollande portrayed himself as a vehicle for change across Europe.
“In all the capitals … there are people who, thanks to us, are hoping, are looking to us, and wantto finish with austerity,” he told supporters early Monday at Paris’ Place de la Bastille. “You are a movement lifting up everywhere inEurope, and perhaps the world.”
Celebrations continued into the night on the iconic plaza of the French Revolution, with revelers waving French, European and labor union flags and climbing the base of its central column. Leftists were overjoyed to have one of their own in power for the first time since Socialist Francois Mitterrand was president from 1981 to 1995.
Sarkozy is the latest victim of a wave of voter anger over spending cuts in Europe that has ousted governments and leaders in the past couple of years.
In Greece, a parliamentary vote Sunday was seen as critical to the country’s prospects for pulling out of a deep financial crisis felt in world markets. A state election in Germany and local elections in Italy were seen as tests of support for the national governments’ policies.
In France, with 95 per cent of the vote counted, official results showed Hollande with 51.6 per cent of the vote compared with Sarkozy’s 48.4 per cent, the InteriorMinistry said. The turnout was a strong 81 per cent.
“Too many divisions, too many wounds, too many breakdowns and divides have separated our fellow citizens. This is over now,” Hollande said in his victory speech, alluding to the divisive Sarkozy presidency. “The foremost duty of the president of the Republic is to unite … in order to face the challenges that await us.”
Those challenges are legion, and begin with Europe’s debt crisis.
Hollande has said his first act after the election will be to write a letterto other European leaders calling for a renegotiation of a budget-trimming treaty aimed at bringing the continent’s economies closer together. Hollande wants to allow for government-funded stimulus programs in hopes of restarting growth, arguing that debts will only get worse if Europe’s economies don’t start growing again.
Sarkozy and Germany’s Angela Merkel spearheaded the cost-cutting treaty, and many have worried about potential conflict within the Franco-German “couple” that underpins Europe’s post-war unity.
Merkel called Hollande to congratulate him on his victory. Hollande has said his first trip would be to Berlin.
President Barack Obama also offered congratulations and an invitation to the White House ahead of this month’s summit of the Group of Eight leading economies at Camp David, Md., the White House said. After that, Hollande will attend a NATO summit in Chicago, where he will announce he is pulling French troops out of Afghanistan by the end of the year.
While some market players have worried about a Hollande presidency, Jeffrey Bergstrand, professor of finance at the University of Notre Dame, said it’s agood thing that Hollande will push for more spending throughout Europe to stimulate the economy.
Europe is “going into a really serious and poor situation,” Bergstrand said. Hollande “is going to become the speaker for those countries that want to do something about economic growth.”
Sarkozy conceded defeat minutes after the polls closed, saying he hadcalled Hollande to wish him “good luck” as the country’s new leader.
“I bear responsibility. … for the defeat,” he said. “I committed myself totally, fully, but I didn’t succeed in convincing a majority of the French. … I didn’t succeed in making the values we share win.”
Sarkozy came to office on a wave of hope for change that critics say he squandered even before the economic crises hit. They saw his tax reforms as too friendly to the rich, his divorce in office and courtship of supermodel Carla Brunias unseemly, and his sharp tongue as unfitting for his esteemed role.
French politicians now turn their attention to parliamentary elections next month. With what appears to be a thin victory margin,Hollande must more than ever count on a healthy majority in June legislative elections – the next challenge for Sarkozy’s conservatives.
“The hour is one of mobilization. … We must not give all the power to the left,” said Jean-Francois Cope, leader of Sarkozy’s UMP party.
The Socialists will have blanket control of the country if they get a majority in the decisive lower house of parliament. They already preside over the Senate and hold most regions and municipalities in France.
Hollande has pledged to tax the very rich at 75 per cent of their income, an idea that proved wildly popular among the majority of people who don’t make nearly that much. But the measure would bring in only a relatively small amount to the budget, and tax lawyers say France’s taxes have always been high and unpredictable and that this may not be as much of a shock as it sounds.
Hollande wants to modify one of Sarkozy’s key reforms, over the retirement age, to allow some people to retire at 60 instead of 62.He wants to hire more teachers andincrease spending in a range of sectors, and ease France off its dependence on nuclear energy. He also favors legalizing euthanasia and gay marriage.
Sarkozy supporters call those proposals misguided.
“We’re going to call France the newGreece,” said Laetitia Barone, 19.”Hollande is now very dangerous.”
Sarkozy had said he would quit politics if he lost, but was vague about his plans Sunday night.
“You can count on me to defend these ideas, convictions,” he said,”but my place cannot be the same.”
Sarkozy alienated many voters witha lunge to the right during the last two weeks of campaigning as he tried to lure backers of the far-rightanti-EU and anti-immigration candidate Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front party.
People of all ages and ethnicities celebrated Hollande’s victory at the Bastille. Ghylaine Lambrecht, 60, who celebrated the 1981 victory of Mitterrand, was among them.
“I’m so happy. We had to put up with Sarko for 10 years,” she said, referring to Sarkozy’s time as interior and finance minister and five years as president. “In the last few years, the rich have been getting richer. Now long live France, an open, democratic France.”
“It’s magic!” proclaimed Violaine Chenais, 19. “I think Francois Hollande is not perfect, but it’s clearFrance thinks it’s time to give the left a chance. This means real hope for France. We’re going to celebratewith drink and hopefully some dancing.”

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Railway Budget 2012: Dinesh Trivedi focuses on safety, modernisation

New Delhi: Union Railway Minister Dinesh Trivedi presented his maiden Railway Budget in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday stressing on safety and Modernisation. Pointing out that he took over as the Railway Minister on a day when there was a train accident, he said that he would work towards making the Railway one of the safest mode of transport in the country.

Announcing the setting up of a Railway Safety Committee, which will be headed by Anil Kakodkar, he said that Indian Railways need to learn from Europe where there have been no major accidents for the past several decades even though trains run at a very speed there. He added that all unmanned level crossings would be abolished in the next five years.

Trivedi announced that signalling system and 19000 km of track would be modernised through renewal upgradation would be undertake. He said that the track which are proposed to be modernised account for almost 80 per cent of traffic.

Cong faces rebellion inUttarakhand

Congress, on Tuesday night,
was faced with a rebellion in
Uttarakhand as senior leader Harish
Rawat’s camp made it clear that he
would not give up his claim on chief
ministership but he vowed to fight it
out within the party. Rawat, who is
learnt to have offered to resign as
minister of
state for parliamentary affairs and
agriculture in protest against his not
being considered for chief
ministership, was closeted with a
sizeable number of 32 Congress MLAs
supporting him throughout the day
strategising the next course of
action.
The Congress was said to be worried
in the wake of Rawat’s supporters
keeping away from the swearing-in
ceremony of Vijay Bahuguna and
one of the newly-elected MLAs
saying the new government would
not last even for 10-15 days. Harish
Rawat told reporters tonight that he
has no plans to quit Congress but
would continue to fight for his claim
on chief ministership.
“I am a Congress worker and will
seek redressal of my grievances
within Congress forum,” was his
brief refrain to a volley of questions.
He, however, refused to spell out
next course of action. However,
senior party leader and MLA Harak
Singh Rawat, one of those
supporting him, was more forthright
when he said “the future of new
government in Uttarakhand is very
bleak… It can continue only for 10-15
days.” Opposing Bahuguna who was
sworn-in as chief minister Tuesday
evening, Harak Singh Rawat said he
has “no contribution in the state and
has been imposed on us”. He
credited Harish Rawat with playing a
major role in Congress victory in
Assembly eletions in Uttarakhand.
Sources close to Harish said that the
attendance of just around 10
Congress MLAs at the swearing in
ceremony of Bahuguna reaffirmed
the point that he is the “real leader”
of the party there.
There was speculation that Harish
had met BJP chief Nitin
Gadkari Monday night but it was
denied by another supporter MP
Pradip Tamta.
Union minister Ghulam Nabi Azad,
party in-charge of the state who had
announced the name of Bahuguna
as chief minister also rubbished this
speculation saying he can never
even think that Rawat will meet
Gadkari or go to any other party. “He
(Rawat) is a committed Congress
worker and will remain in Congress.
He is a member of the Union Council
of Ministers and he has a
contribution to make there,” Azad
said.

Embassy car blast: Release Qazmi, say protestors

New Delhi: Social activists and journalists on Monday sat on protest at India Gate in the nationalcapital and organised a candle light vigil demanding the release of journalist Syed Mohammad Qazmi arrested in connection to the Israeliembassy car blast last month.
The procession of about nearly 500 people was led by Qazmi’s wife Jahanara who claimed that her husband “is innocent and should bereleased immediately”.
The protesters claimed that Qazmi, 52, was implicated and shouted anti-US and anti-Israel slogans.
Activist Shabnam Hashmi said that police “fabricated the entire story” and called for immediate dissolution of Delhi Police’s anti-terror unit Special Cell.
“A group of journalists and activists, met the chief minister (Sheila Dikshit) and spoke to her onthe issue. She told us that she will be meeting home minister (P Chidambaram) and discussing the matter with him,” Hashmi added.
The protest was also attended by several Muslim religious leaders which, Hashmi claimed, was against the spirit of the protest as it was a secular protest and they had came without invitation.
Her sentiments were echoed by senior journalist Syed Naqvi, who claimed that this could “politicise what is a people’s protest”.
Qazmi was arrested by police last week. An Israeli diplomat’s wife was injured in the blast in the Israeli embassy’s car February 13 incentral Delhi.
The journalist, who hails from Meerut in Uttar Pradesh, is a resident of south Delhi’s BK Dutt colony near Jor Bagh.
A post-graduate in Persian from Delhi University, Qazmi has workedas a freelance journalist with Doordarshan News. He has also worked as a news reader for a Tehran-based radio station and was recently working as a freelancer for Iranian news agency IRNA.

‘Facebook friends judge you by your photos, not texts’

London: Are you on Facebook? Then, make sure you post a nice, impressive photograph, as users onthe social networking sites appear to form judgements on profiles without even reading words, researchers say.
The researchers at the Ohio State University in the US also found that people pay closer attention to information that could be viewed as negative or not normal on such sites.
It seems a profile photo on Facebook tells viewers all they need to know to form an impression of a person and no words are really necessary, they said.
In one experiment, the researches found college students who vieweda Facebook photo of a fellow student having fun with friends rated that person as extroverted – even if his profile said he was “not a big people-person”.
The only exception is when a photois out of the ordinary or shows someone in a negative light. In thatcase, people do use profile text to help interpret what kind of person is shown in the profile, they said.
“Photos seem to be the primary way we make impressions of people on social networking sites,” lead author Brandon Van Der Heide was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.
“People will accept a positive photoof you as showing how you really are. But if the photo is odd or negative in any way, people want to find out more before forming an impression,” he said.
For their study, published in Journalof Communication, the researchers recruited 195 college students and made them view mock Facebook profiles of a person that included a photo and a written “about me” statement.
Participants were asked to rate how extroverted they thought the student in the profile was, on a scale of 1 to 7 based on the photo and text.
It was found the profile, which had a photo showing the person enjoying a night out with friends and a text saying he was the happiest person with a big group of friends, was rated as the most extrovert.
Surprisingly, the participants also rated the person most extrovert if his profile had a extroverted photo but a text suggesting the person was an introvert.
But if the photograph suggested anintrovert, people did pay attention to the text. If the text also suggested an introvert, participants rated the person as such.
But if the text suggested the person was an extrovert, participants rated them as slightly less introverted, the researchers said.
“They were still seen as introverted, because of their photo showing them alone on the park bench. But they got a little bump up in their extroversion rating because of their profile text suggesting they were extroverted,” said Prof Van Der Heide.
These results support a theory that people generally pay closer attention to information that couldbe viewed as negative or not normal, he said.
Researchers also said that on social networking sites such as Facebook,users expect people to showcase themselves as happy, successful and sociable.
“If the photograph fits that image, people have little reason to question his or her judgements about this person’s characteristics,”Prof Van Der Heide said.
“But if the photo shows something we did not expect – someone who is more introverted, for example – viewers want to read the text and do a little more interpretation.”
The results were of interest because when people use text or photos alone to build an impression of someone, text may sometimes have a greater influence, he said, adding this is especially true when conveying negative information.

Mozilla CEO: Don’t Understand The Internet? Get Out Of Government

AUSTIN, Texas – The Internet is a way of life for billions of people but some in Washington still don’t seem to get it, Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs said on Saturday.
“If you don’t understand the Internet, you don’t have any place in government,” he told an audience at the annual South by Southwest conference in Austin.
Given the impact of the Internet on daily life, Kovacs said, he is amazed when members of Congress express adesire to hire staffers who”understand” the Internet.
“It’s not something you learn, or hire someone for. It has to be the way you live your life,” he said.
Washington and the tech industry have increasingly clashed as the impact of Internet and other tech issues grows. Mozilla joined other Internet companies and organizations like Google and Wikipedia in protesting proposed anti-piracy legislation in January.
But Kovacs said through internal discussions Mozilla officials have decided to avoid wading into more political fights. “That’s not our place,” he said. Instead, Kovacs said Mozilla will focus more on”protecting the Web.”
It is incorrect to say that Web companies drove the broad online protests that ultimately scuttled the anti-piracy bills, heargued. Web sites simply”lubricated” communications between citizens and their representatives, allowing the issue to be publicized beyond people involved in technology policy.
“We enabled 30 million people to take action,” Kovacs said.”Thirty million people are not nerds. Thirty million people arecitizens.”
Tech activists and companies are flexing their newfound lobbying muscles at the conference, but members of several different panels on the anti-piracy debate said many issues complicate efforts to harness that power again.
Major websites took unprecedented actions during piracy protests but Tumblr vicepresident Andrew McLaughlin said he doesn’t expect to see a wave of more politically active web companies. Instead, concerned techies should become involved as basic citizens, he said.
McLaughlin, a former White House adviser, said online piracy must be addressed, but lawmakers who want to crack down on piracy should understand the way the Internet works, rather than base their decisions on a”short-sighted desire to hijack”the Internet in favor of entertainment companies or manufacturers.
And it’s not just politicians who need to be educated, said Andrew Rasiej, president of Personal Democracy Media, a website dedicated to Internet policy issues.
Many of the people who spoke out against the anti-piracy billsdid so based on information from their friends, he said.”Many didn’t even read the bill,” Rasiej said. “There will need to be a lot more education on all sides.”

5.8 earthquake hits PoK; tremors felt in J&K

Srinagar: An earthquake measuring 5.8 hit various parts of northern Pakistan on Monday. Tremors were also felt in parts of Jammu and Kashmir. The epicentre of the earthquake was Gilgit in Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

The tremors were felt around 11:41 am on Monday in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Jammu and Kashmir police said no loss of life or damage of property was reported by far.

Director of the department of seismology in the Indian Met department said, “Magnitude 5.8 comes under moderate category, so there is no serious fear of aftershocks. But there could be a few. We do not expect destruction like the 2005 Kashmir quake. We have received reports of strong shocks from the northern part of Kashmir.”

Budget session: Opposition sees nothing new in President’s speech

New Delhi: President Pratibha Patil on Monday addressed her last joint session of Parliament before her term ends but the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said that the speech had no new direction and added that the country could soon witness mid-term elections.

While the President spoke about the economy, security, terrorism, relations with Pakistan, corruption, black money, sub-quota for minorities, some Opposition MPs tried to disrupt the address and raised slogans.

The session witnessed uproar by the Opposition when the President spoke about the minorities sub-quota and also when she spoke about the setting up of the Nation Counter Terrorism Centre. BJP leaders claimed that the government had nothing new to offer and the country was heading towards a mid-term election. “The speech is on what the government is doing. It Looks like the situation is building towards a mid-term poll,” he said.

As soon as President Patil spoke abut the minorities sub-quota, there was uproar in Parliament.

“The government has decided to provide a sub-quota for minorities. The government has decided to bring 4.5 per cent sub quota for minorities with the existing quota,” Patil announced, following Opposition MPs started shouting slogans.

Addressing Parliament, she also expressed concern over the world economy, but said that India’s economic growth was better than others. “My government has completed its half tenure. This was a difficult economic year for the world. The economic growth of India has decreased but is better compared to the world economic scenario,” President Patil said.

She also said that the economy will stabilise soon. “Economy will soon revert to 8-9 per cent growth path,” she said.

President Patil also assured that the government was acting to tackle black money. “Government is working on various levels on black money and is taking action to tackle the menace,” she said. “The government is also working to reduce corruption at all levels,” she added.

Speaking on India’s removal from WHO’s list of Polio nations, Patil said, “A separate department of disability affairs will focus on issues confronting disabled persons proposed to be set up. Polio has almost been removed from India.”

The President also announced that Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Bill will be introduced in Parliament.

Speaking on cross-border relations, Patil said, “We are committed to resolving all outstanding issues with Pakistan through dialogue.”

President Patil also mentioned the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) saying, “NCTC aims at improving India’s capability to counter internal security threats.”

Soon, railway to charge you for keeping you safe

New Delhi: Pay more if you want totravel safe is what a high level committee on railway safety has recommended. The panel has suggested that a safety cess of Rs 5000 crore per annum should be levied from passengers.
If the recommendations of the panel are accepted, the passengers may be looking at a train fare hike after eight years.
The committee, formed in the wake of increasing accidents, has said that safety still remains a major concern in Indian railways, adding that the railway safety infrastructure worth Rs 1 lakh croreshould be put in place over the nextfive years.
Referring to the recommendations of the report, Union Railways Minister Dinesh Trivedi said he could not implement safety report unless he borrowed.
We can generate from our real estate. I cannot implement safety report if I sit quietly and not borrow, he said.
The minister further said, In next five years, we need Rs five lakh crore, adding that the Indian railway had outlived its utility.
Trivedi, however, refused to reveal anything about the railway budget.
I am not going to spell out what I am expecting in the budget. My plan will be unveiled shortly, he said.