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Archive for December, 2010|Monthly archive page

North Korea may have new atom test to boost heir: South

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 6:26 am

 North Korea could conduct a third atomic test next year to boost the credentials of its leader-in-waiting, while prospects for bilateral talks with Seoul are slim, a South Korean foreign ministry report said on Friday.


The regular report from a ministry research institute was published a day after Pyongyang vowed a nuclear “sacred war” after the South vowed to be “merciless” if attacked, and held a major military drill near the border.

A North Korean Scud-B missile (C) and South Korean Hawk surface-to-air missiles are seen at the Korean War Memorial Museum in Seoul, December 24, 2010.

The North, which carried out nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, has yet to show it has a deliverable weapon as part of its plutonium arms program, but a third test would raise tensions further on the divided peninsula and rattle global markets.


Nuclear experts have also said they expect a third test soon, while South Korean media reported earlier this month that the North was digging a tunnel in preparation for one.


“There is a possibility of North Korea carrying out its third nuclear test to seek improvement in its nuclear weapons production capability, keep the military tension high and promote Kim Jong-un’s status as the next leader,” the report said, referring to Kim Jong-il’s youngest son.


“Tension between the two Koreas will remain high with chances of additional North Korean attacks on the South staying high. Chances of a summit meeting between leaders of the two sides look slim,” the institute said, according to a summary of the report.


The analysis for 2011 was written by the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security, run by the Foreign Ministry.


BOASTING TACTIC


Hostilities have escalated to their worst levels since the Korean war in the early 1950s, after a deadly naval clash in March and the North’s shelling of a South Korean island last month.


Still, the risk of an all-out war is low, and the North’s threats of destruction are largely rhetorical.


The North’s tactic of boasting about nuclear advances is a ploy aimed at restarting talks between itself, the South, China, Japan, Russia and the United States, from which it hopes to wring concessions, analysts say.


“Some form of meeting between six-party members could be held during 2011 to discuss North Korea’s uranium enrichment, but chances are very low for any meaningful progress being achieved,” the institute said.


Those involved in the six-party process say they want to resume it, but among them are widely differing starting points.


China, the North’s only major ally and vital financial backer, sees the forum as the best place to begin dialogue, but Seoul, Washington and Tokyo say they first need proof that Pyongyang is committed to dismantling its nuclear work.


“North Korea has displayed national strength and diplomatic skills that exceed its actual capacity. Kim Jong’s mental strength must be exhausted, and it is about time that China loses its patience,” Seoul’s Joongang Daily said in a commentary.


“The time has come for Seoul to strategically manipulate the North Korea-China alliance to encourage estrangement.”

Source: SGGP

Anarchists claim responsibility for Rome bombs

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 6:26 am

 An Italian anarchist group claimed responsibility for parcel bombs on Thursday that wounded two people at the Swiss and Chilean embassies in Rome, a reminder of Europe’s home-grown threats at a time of political instability.


A Swiss man was seriously wounded and rushed to hospital. An employee at the Chilean embassy was less seriously hurt. A note was found stuck to his clothing, claiming responsibility for the attack on behalf of the FAI, or Informal Anarchist Federation.


“We have decided to make our voice heard with words and with facts, we will destroy the system of dominance, long live the FAI, long-live Anarchy,” said the note, written in Italian, which was released in the evening by the police.


The incidents bore similarities to an episode in Greece last month in which far-left militants sent parcel bombs to foreign governments abroad and to embassies in Athens.

Firefighters walk out of the Swiss embassy downtown in Rome, December 23, 2010

The note was signed by the “Lambros Fountas revolutionary cell” of the FAI, named for a Greek anarchist killed in a clash with Athens police in March. It also made reference to anarchist movements in Chile, Mexico, Spain and Argentina.


“Greece, Italy and Spain have seen the presence of anarcho-insurrectionalist groups that are tightly linked,” Italy’s Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said before the note was found. “They are very violent.”


The FAI is well known to Italian authorities. Intelligence services said in a report to parliament last year that it was “the main national terrorist threat of an anarchist-insurrectionalist type.”


In December 2009 the group claimed responsibility for a bomb that partially exploded in a tunnel under Milan’s Bocconi University at 3 am, causing no casualties.


No note was found at the Swiss embassy, but police said the packages that exploded were almost identical.


The explosions came at a time of tension in Italy. Last week saw an anti-government student protest that descended into some of the worst street violence in Rome for many years.


Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini condemned the incidents, which he said were a serious threat to diplomatic missions in Rome. He urged caution and warned against alarmist reactions.


The attacks, like those in Greece, focused attention on Europe’s domestic security threats at a time when authorities had otherwise been warning of the risk of attacks by al Qaeda.


“It doesn’t look like a typical jihadist thing. It looks more like the act of a leftist, fringe group,” said Stephan Bierling, professor of International Politics at Regensburg University in Germany.


Spending cuts caused by the financial crisis have led to demonstrations and strikes around Europe, and experts expect a rise in political violence by far-left groups.


“Given the similarities with the recent parcel bombs in Greece following anti-austerity protests, this could be a copycat incident by domestic activists,” said Samantha Wolreich, European risk analyst at advisory firm AKE.


A Greek police official said they had so far not received a request for help from Italian police. He said Greek authorities had stepped up checks of parcels at airports across the country following the attacks in Italy.


HEIGHTENED SECURITY FEARS


Bomb disposal experts searched the Swiss embassy offices but staff remained in the building following the incident, which occurred at around midday (1100 GMT).

Firefighters conducted checks of the Chilean embassy, in the same prosperous neighborhood, after the explosion of the package the size of a document. Other inspections were carried out at foreign missions across the Italian capital.

A source in the Rome prosecutors’ office said the package in the Chilean embassy had been sent from Italy, while the package in the Swiss embassy had been completely destroyed.

“We are reviewing our security posture in Rome in light of incidents today,” U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in Washington.

Chilean ambassador Oscar Godoy said there had been no indication that an attack was likely.

“This is an absolutely irrational and brutal act of terrorism,” he told reporters.

The explosions follow the discovery of a rudimentary device in an empty underground train in Rome on Tuesday. However, police said that it lacked a detonator and tests showed it contained no explosive.

Source: SGGP

Genomic Fossils Reveal Explosion of Life 3 Billion Years Ago

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 6:25 am

Life has existed on Earth for roughly 3.5 billion years, but there is very little fossil record left for most of that time. However, two researchers have used modern genomes to look back in time and reconstruct the evolution of ancient cells.


Their work has revealed an explosion of life about 3 billion years ago, coinciding with the appearance of the chemical mechanism that makes possible two crucial processes – respiration and photosynthesis. [Scientists Hunt for Signs of the Earliest Life on Earth]


“What is really remarkable about these findings is that they prove that the histories of very ancient events are recorded in the shared DNA of living organisms,” said one of the researchers, Eric Alm, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and biological engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He collaborated with Lawrence David, who received his doctorate from MIT and is now a junior fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows.


To turn the clocks back, Alm and David used information about modern genomes in combination with their own mathematical model that took into account the ways genes evolve, such as, the creation and inheritance of new gene families and the loss of genes. Using this technique, they traced thousands of genes from 100 modern genomes back to those genes’ first appearance on Earth.


This genomic “fossil record” indicates that the collective genome of life expanded between 3.3 billion and 2.8 billion years ago. During this period, 27 percent of all presently existing gene families came into being. The pair dubbed this the Archean Expansion.


This expansion coincided with the development of modern electron transport, which is the biochemical process responsible for shuttling electrons within cellular membranes to make breathing oxygen and carrying out photosynthesis possible.


“Our results can’t say if the development of electron transport directly caused the Archean Expansion,” David said. “Nonetheless, we can speculate that having access to a much larger energy budget enabled the biosphere to host larger and more complex microbial ecosystems.”


After the Archean Expansion, about 2.5 billion years ago, the atmosphere filled with oxygen, a dramatic event in the history of life on Earth, called the Great Oxidation Event. A type of photosynthesis, made possible by electron transport, is believed to have driven the oxygenation of the atmosphere.


Alm and David detailed their findings online Dec. 19 in the journal Nature.


 

Source: SGGP

Two Koreas take tough stance as think-tank warns of war

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 5:57 am

The two Koreas are still talking tough one month after the North’s artillery bombardment sent tensions soaring, with Pyongyang threatening nuclear war and Seoul vowing strong retaliation for any new attack.


One day after deploying tanks, artillery and jet fighters in a military show of force, Seoul’s defence ministry said Friday that a giant Christmas tree near the North Korean border would stay lit up till January 8.


The move is likely to anger Pyongyang since the date marks the birthday of its heir apparent Kim Jong-Un. The communist North sees the tree topped with a glowing cross as a provocative propaganda symbol.


The ministry said it hoped to send “a message of peace to the North” and the timing was just a coincidence.

South Korean Army K-9 155mm self-propelled Howitzers fire live rounds during joint air and ground military exercises on the Seungjin Fire Training Field, in mountainous Pocheon.

An international think-tank urged the two Koreas to accept international arbitration to redraw the flashpoint disputed Yellow Sea border.


“Measures must urgently be adopted to reduce the possibility of all-out war”, the International Crisis Group said in a report.


The North said Thursday it was ready for a “sacred war” using its nuclear weapons, as the South held its second live-fire drill in a week.


Pyongyang’s armed forces minister Kim Yong-Chun said the South’s firing drill Monday, on Yeonpyeong island near the Yellow Sea border, was a preparation for a new Korean war.


“The revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK (North Korea) are getting fully prepared to launch a sacred war of justice of Korean style based on the nuclear deterrent at any time necessary to cope with the enemies’ actions deliberately pushing the situation to the brink of a war,” Kim said.


The North on November 23 bombarded Yeonpyeong, killing four people including civilians. Pyongyang said it was retaliating for a South Korean firing drill that dropped shells into waters that it claims are North Korean territory.


The South’s military, accused of a perceived feeble response to last month’s bombardment, has been stressing it will hit back harder next time, using air power.


President Lee Myung-Bak, visiting a frontline army unit Thursday, warned of severe retaliation for any new attack.


“We’ve endured for long enough. We thought we could maintain peace on this land if we endured, but that was not the case,” Lee said. “Now we need to strongly retaliate to maintain peace, deter provocations and prevent war.”


People in the North, the president said, “are almost starving to death, and with the money spent to make atomic bombs, people could live”.


The United States has firmly backed its ally the South and urged China to do more to restrain its own ally, the North.


The North’s latest comments prompted the US State Department to chide it for its “belligerent tricks”.


“We need constructive actions, not heated rhetoric,” spokesman Philip Crowley said.


Despite earlier strong threats, the North did not retaliate for Monday’s firing drill on Yeonpyeong. It also offered nuclear concessions, according to US politician Bill Richardson, who ended a visit to Pyongyang this week.

Richardson said the North agreed to readmit UN atomic inspectors and negotiate the sale of nuclear fuel rods to a third party.

The New Mexico governor, who has longstanding contacts with North Korea, said Thursday the United States should consider resuming talks with the North.

Richardson said a resumption of six-nation talks — under which the North earlier agreed to give up its nuclear weapons in return for aid — could help prevent a new escalation of tensions.

If “they don’t react militarily again to this recent drill, then maybe the time has come for the six-party talks,” he told CNN, referring to the South Korean exercise staged Thursday.

Source: SGGP

UN demands halt to Ivory Coast killings

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 5:57 am

The United Nations demanded a halt to the “atrocities” triggered by Ivory Coast’s political crisis that have left 173 dead, and accused Laurent Gbagbo’s troops of harassing its peacekeepers.


And in another blow to Gbagbo’s regime, the Central Bank of West African States said only his rival Alassane Ouattara’s globally recognised government could manage the country’s accounts there.


US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meanwhile repeated Thursday a call for Gbagbo to step down.


UN officials in Abidjan said Gbagbo’s security forces, shielded by civilian protesters and backed by unidentified masked gunmen, had prevented human rights monitors from probing reports of at least two new mass graves.


They said gangs of gunmen had carried out murderous overnight raids on civilians living in the poorest districts of Abidjan.


UN peacekeepers in Ivory Coast man a position near a line of barbed wire at the entrance of the UNOCI headquarters in Abidjan.

“The situation is sufficiently disturbing for everyone to take it seriously and do something about it,” said Simon Munzu, UN human rights director in Abidjan.


“We’ve been stopped virtually every time we’ve tried to go into the field.”


In Geneva, the UN Human Rights Council voted to condemn “the atrocities and violations of human rights committed in Ivory Coast”, citing killing, kidnaps, sexual violence, repression of protests and destruction of property.


In a statement to the council, Clinton said: “We reiterate our call for former President Laurent Gbagbo to step down immediately.


“The United States joins the international community in condemning the growing violence, the grave human rights violations, and the deterioration of security in Cote d’Ivoire,” she added.


The UNOCI peacekeeping force also complained that Gbagbo’s camp continued to besiege the waterfront Abidjan hotel where Alassane Ouattara’s rival government is holed up, protected by 800 UN troops.


Gbagbo and Ouattara have been in a standoff since a November 28 presidential election, which both claim to have won. Ouattara has been recognised by the UN Security Council, but Gbagbo is determined to cling to power.


“Serious human rights abuses and intimidation continue to be reported in several districts of Abidjan. The toll of dead, wounded and missing is rising rapidly,” UNOCI spokesman Hamadoun Toure told reporters.


Human Rights Watch said it had recorded the same crimes.


But Gbagbo’s regime remained defiant, calling on supporters to resist international pressure.


“It’s a battle,” Gbagbo’s powerful wife Simone told lawmakers. “War is being waged on us in several forms. If we do not want to be crushed, we should raise our heads, resist and have confidence in ourselves.”


But in a further blow to Gbagbo, seven finance ministers representing the other countries in the West African Monetary Union said only Ouattara’s government could deal with their shared central bank.


The decision could threaten Gbagbo’s camp with a cashflow problem.

Earlier, briefing ambassadors in Geneva, the UN deputy human rights chief said the UN had been able to confirm allegations of 173 killings and 90 cases of torture or ill treatment in Ivory Coast in the past week.

Munzu said the true toll might be much higher because Gbagbo’s troops had blocked attempts by his staff to investigate reports of two major mass graves — one allegedly holding 60 to 80 bodies, the other 30.

“We get to a roadblock, manned by heavily armed elements of the Defence and Security Forces, with whom are associated hooded people who we don’t know,” he told reporters at UNOCI headquarters in Abidjan.

The Defence and Security Forces (FDS) are police and army regulars loyal to Gbagbo. They have been deployed to prevent protests by Alassane supporters.

“And to this is added civilians, including children, who would tomorrow be classified as ‘collateral damage’ if we tried to force our way” past roadblocks, Munzu said.

Asked if the United Nations had confirmed reports that Liberian mercenaries were in Abidjan, spokesman Toure said: “Our patrols have met a group of people speaking English and claiming to be Liberian.”

He said the group was seen at night in Abidjan and was “heavily armed”.

Toure said pro-Gbagbo security forces were blocking UN patrols and supply convoys, intimidating UN police and besieging Ouattara’s base in the Golf Hotel, “supported by masked individuals with rocket launchers.”

UNOCI was having trouble finding fuel or getting flights into Abidjan airport, but promised that the force would stay on, he added.

Nigeria will host a meeting of the Economic Community of West African States in Abuja, and US officials say an appeal will be made for new troops to reinforce the hard-pressed UN peacekeepers.

Ivory Coast football star Didier Drogba issued a statement on behalf of the national team calling for an end to the violence.

Source: SGGP

Russia to approve nuclear treaty with US

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 5:57 am

 Russia was due Friday to give initial approval to a historic nuclear arms pact with the United States that opens the way for the former Cold War foes’ cooperation on everything from Afghanistan to Iran.


The new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) that was passed after a months-long political battle by the US Senate on Wednesday has been the centerpiece of Washington’s efforts to “reset” lagging relations with Moscow.


The agreement slashes the two sides’ nuclear arsenals to 1,550 deployed warheads per side and leaves each country with no more than 800 launchers and bombers.


But besides also restoring vital inspections the treaty also goes a long way toward easing Russia’s worries that it will soon begin losing nuclear parity with the United States — a point of national pride since the Soviet era.

US President Barack Obama leaves the White House.

The State Duma lower house of parliament was scheduled to hold the first of three required votes on the treaty in its final session of the year Friday.


But a top ruling party member said that no emergency sessions would be held next week and that final passage was not expected until lawmakers returned from their New Year’s vacations on January 11.


“Further work on the ratification bill will continue once the Duma resumes its work in January,” news agencies quoted the Duma’s foreign affairs committee chairman Konstantin Kosachev as saying.


Yet the timing glitch seemed of secondary importance as Russian President Dmitry Medvedev phoned US President Barack Obama in the wake of the Senate vote, according to a statement from Obama’s office Thursday.


“President Medvedev congratulated President Obama on the Senate’s approval of the new START Treaty, and the two leaders agreed that this was an historic event for both countries and for US-Russia relations,” said the White House statement.


Pro-Kremlin deputies also took turns hailing the agreement as an important signal that relations between the two one-time rivals were finally getting back on track.


“There are times when our interests do not contradict each other. This is precisely one of those times,” said the upper chamber’s foreign affairs committee chairman Mikhail Margelov.


“We are standing side by side on this one without stepping on each other’s toes.”


Obama and Medvedev had signed the agreement in April as part of a renewed US commitment to win both Russia’s trust and cooperation in the handling of pressing international disputes.


The treaty works in Moscow’s favour because it slashes the United States’ nuclear arsenal to a size that Russia can keep up with despite its financial difficulties and its need to take old nuclear warheads out of commission.


But it also suits the United States because it removes a major roadblock in the two sides’ relations and paves the way for Russia joining international efforts to halt the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran.


Russia’s assistance is also important in transporting support equipment for the NATO-led campaign in Afghanistan and deputies said that all types of cooperation were possible now that the Senate had passed the pact.


“Ratification will have a positive effect on all areas of our bilateral cooperation — especially Afghanistan and Iran,” ruling United Russia party deputy Ruslan Kondratov said in comments posted on the party’s website.


Yet some lawmakers are uneasy about the non-binding amendments that US senators attached to the so-called “resolution of ratification” that was aimed at soothe sceptical Republicans’ worries about the pact.

Duma deputies were expected to add their own non-binding resolutions to the text that did not change the essence of the treaty but underscored Russia’s displeasure with US plans to deploy a new missile defence system in Europe.

The disputed US amendments are already a part of the treaty and several lawmakers said they understood that the additions were primarily meant for US audiences.

“This is all a part of a grand chess game … that Obama is playing home,” Margelov said.

Source: SGGP

Obama to regulate carbon from power plants

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 5:56 am

 US President Barack Obama’s administration said it will regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, setting up a climate change battle with a skeptical new Congress.


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it would set standards for fossil fuel power plants and petroleum refineries, which together emit nearly 40 percent of the gasses blamed for climate change in the United States.


The decision comes after a bill to set up a “cap-and-trade” program to restrict emissions in the world’s second largest polluter died in the Senate, although the EPA insisted it was not trying to replace action by Congress.


“We are following through on our commitment to proceed in a measured and careful way to reduce greenhouse gas pollution that threatens the health and welfare of Americans and contributes to climate change,” EPA chief Lisa Jackson said in a statement.

US President Barack Obama’s administration said Thursday it will regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, setting up a climate change battle with a skeptical new Congress

“These standards will help American companies attract private investment to the clean energy upgrades that make our companies more competitive and create good jobs here at home,” she said.


The EPA did not go into specifics about the new standards, saying it would make a proposal in the new year and finalize it in 2012 after public comment.


The regulator suggested it would not impose an outright figure for emission standards but instead would ask companies to embrace cleaner technologies.


“This is not about a cap-and-trade program,” senior EPA official Gina McCarthy told reporters on a conference call.


“It is not in any way trying to get into the areas in which Congress will be establishing law, at some point in the future we hope,” she said.


McCarthy did not say which technologies would be favored, although the Obama administration has been promoting wind, solar and other low-emission renewable energies. Fossil fuels, particularly coal, are much dirtier.


Representative Darrell Issa, who is set for a prominent role in the Republican-led House of Representatives that takes over next month, was “disappointed” by the EPA decision, said his spokesman, Kurt Bardella.


“The fact is there are serious questions about the wisdom of EPA’s recent efforts to impose multiple job-killing regulations that only serve to raise costs on a manufacturing industry trying to overcome a bad economy,” he said.


The National Petrochemical and Refiners Association, an industry group, vowed to fight the EPA move and accused the Obama administration of usurping the authority of Congress.


“Regulations can’t create technology that doesn’t exist or change the laws of physics and economics, so the only way to comply with EPA’s proposals would be to inflict massive increases in energy costs and massive increases in unemployment on families across our nation,” it said.


But advocates of action on climate change believe that the United States can open up a new green economy, creating jobs, if it moves away from fossil fuels.


Joe Mendelson of the National Wildlife Federation criticized “polluters that want to hold hostage America’s clean energy future and our public health with bullying and unfounded threats of doom and gloom.”


The upcoming rules could also trigger a battle with oil-producing Texas, which emits far more greenhouse gases than any other state and has adamantly opposed Washington restrictions.


Obama last year pledged that the United States would curb emissions by 17 percent by 2020 compared with 2005 levels. The goal is modest compared to the actions of other developed economies, particularly the European Union.

Most scientists say the world is far off track at meeting a goal — codified at UN climate talks in Mexico this month — of keeping temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

Source: SGGP

Pope talks of God’s ‘surprises’ in Christmas message

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 5:56 am

Pope Benedict XVI will say that God is faithful to his promises but often surprises us by how he fulfils them, in a message for for BBC radio’s “Thought for the Day” to be broadcast later Friday.


In a special event to mark Christmas Eve, Benedict recorded the message in Rome on Wednesday and his comments will go out in the slot during the corporation’s flagship Today programme at 0745 GMT.


“I keep all of you very much in my prayers during this Holy Season,” the pope says in the broadcast, excerpts of which were carried on the BBC’s website.

Handout picture from the BBC shows a picture released by The Vatican press ofiice of Pope Benedict XVI recording a message for BBC radio’s Thought for the Day programme

The pontiff is quoted as saying that Christmas recalls the time in history when the Israelites were waiting for the Messiah, whom they pictured as a great leader who would restore their freedom.


But God surprised them because it was Jesus, a child born in Bethlehem, who would become their saviour instead.


The broadcast comes three months after the 83-year-old Benedict visited Britain.


In the message, listeners will hear the pope say: “I am glad to have the opportunity to greet you again, and indeed to greet listeners everywhere as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ.”

Source: SGGP

Japan to approve record budget: reports

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 5:56 am

 The cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan is on Friday expected to approve a record budget of 92.40 trillion yen (1.11 trillion dollars) for fiscal 2011, according to local media reports.

The cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan (pictured) is on Friday expected to approve a record budget of 92.40 trillion yen (1.11 trillion US dollars) for fiscal 2011, according to local media reports

The budget is expected to be slightly larger than the initial budget for 2010, which stood at 92.30 trillion yen, Jiji Press and Kyodo News said.


The budget will include more than 44 trillion yen from issuing new government bonds, a second straight year that bonds have exceeded tax revenue as a source of income, the reports said.


The draft budget, which covers the financial year starting in April, was expected to be approved at a special cabinet meeting later on Friday.


Kan took office in June promising to slash spending and work towards cutting Japan’s massive public debt, which accounts for nearly 200 percent of gross domestic product, but the state of the economy has complicated his task.

Source: SGGP

Indian police raid homes of Delhi Games chief

In Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 at 5:55 am

 Indian police on Friday raided the homes of the chief organiser of the New Delhi Commonwealth Games, Suresh Kalmadi, as part of a probe into graft allegations that surrounded the event.


A spokesperson from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said police had conducted searches at Kalmadi’s residences in the capital and the western town of Pune, and at the home of his personal secretary Manoj Bhore.

Commonwealth Games chief organiser Suresh Kalmadi speaks at the event’s closing ceremony at Jawarharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi in October, 2010

The Games, which were held in Delhi in October, were hit by claims of massive financial irregularities as the budget ballooned to an estimated six billion dollars.


The CBI spokesperson said a top police official had written to the government earlier this month requesting Kalmadi’s removal from the chairmanship of the Games organising committee on the grounds that he was obstructing the investigation.


Kalmadi, who took much of the international criticism about unfinished facilities and poor planning, quit as secretary to India’s ruling Congress party in November.


The CBI raided the homes of other top committee officials in November and arrested the sacked treasurer, M. Jayachandran, the third official to be accused of forgery and cheating over the awarding of Games-related contracts.


Police have charged two other former Games officials over alleged corruption.


Companies contracted to provide sports surfaces, training equipment and landscaping for the Games were also raided by tax inspectors in October.


The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) national watchdog has received complaints alleging up to 1.8 billion dollars of Games money was misappropriated.


A CVC report into the Games has confirmed the use of poor-quality materials and massive cost overruns on construction projects.


A defiant Kalmadi brushed off corruption allegations, telling reporters in November: “I have not done anything wrong, even in a single thing. I welcome the investigations and will answer all queries.”


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh set up a panel after the Games concluded to investigate graft claims and two other government bodies are also running separate probes.

Source: SGGP