KARACHI: Former home minister of Sindh province, Dr Zulfiqar Mirza on Saturday reached London to help British authorities investigate among other charges, money laundering and incitement to violence against MQM chief Altaf Hussain.
Sources in Mirza’s family told Daily sitara Sindh News that the former provincial minister would meet Scotland Yard officials in next few days. Mirza, who is settled with his family in Dubai, had flown to London when he was contacted by the British officials.
London’s Metropolitan Police and the Scotland Yard have confirmed that they are currently investigating the above mentioned charges against the Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader, who is settled in Britain.
Meanwhile, President Asif Ali Zardari, who is at present in London also, telephoned Mirza requesting him to not meet with the British investigators, sources informed Dawn.com. The latter, however, refused to abide by the president’s advice.
The Scotland Yard officials requested Mirza to reproduce the evidences, he had offered to present against the MQM and its chief Altaf Hussain back in 2011.
The senior Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader had resigned as vice president of PPP’s Sindh chapter as well as membership of the Sindh Assembly following spat with MQM – the then coalition partner of President Zardari’s party at the centre and in Sindh.
Mirza had leveled serious allegations on MQM terming the party and its head responsible for target killings in Karachi. He not only accused Sindh Governor Ishratul Ibad of patronising target killers but also accused MQM’s former minister for ports and shipping Babar Ghauri of being responsible for disappearance of Nato containers.
MQM, however, had condemned all the allegations hurled at it by Zulfiqar Mirza.
SAN FRANCISCO, March 4, 2013 – A 10-year wait ends Tuesday with the arrival of ‘SimCity,’ a computer game that challenges players to build thriving cities in the face of conditions such as limited funds and climate change.
The sequel to the city-building computer game that factors in real-world consequences of energy choices, urban plans, and policy decisions debuts in the US for $60 a copy.
‘SimCity’ will be available in Britain three days later as part of a global rollout, according to game publisher Electronic Arts. The game is tailored for play on personal computers powered by Windows software.
Millions of people have played SimCity since the computer game designed by Will Wright was first released in 1989 but the Maxis Studio title to hit on Tuesday will be the first fresh installment to the franchise in a decade.
The original title won a broad, devoted following and led to a successful line of “Sims” strategy games in which players manipulate worlds and animated characters in simulations of real life.
Technology in ‘SimCity’ has been updated along with forces influencing the health of cities and the happiness of inhabitants, according to Maxis.
Along with rich 3-D graphics, the game will have a new simulation engine that enhances its realism and extends ramifications of urban design decisions past borders to affect neighboring cities.
SimCity has garnered enthusiastic reviews and won early endorsements from Twitter co-founder Biz Stone and the director of the Academy Award-winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”Maxis collaborated on the title with Games For Change, a group devoted to the creation of games that combine fun with learning about social issues.
“I love the game,” said “Inconvenient Truth” director Davis Guggenheim, who played an early version with his son last year.
“Climate change is the biggest crisis of our time, but there is a disconnect because it is not in front of us,” he added.
“When you play ‘SimCity’ it is in your face; if you build a coal power plant you feel the consequences — smog in the city, water table getting dirty, and your people getting angry.”Twitter co-founder Stone described ‘SimCity’ as encouraging systems that help make “better humans, a smarter world and a healthier planet.”Players become virtual mayors, guiding development of pretend cities and reaping rewards or suffering ramifications of decisions.
“Their mission is to make a thriving, happy city,” Erik Reynolds of EA said of the game on the eve of its release. “It you don’t have enough schools, you will have uneducated Sims and uneducated Sims get up to no good.”People can play SimCity solo, or establish in-game regions open where as many at 16 cities can be built by different players.
“If you have a super-dirty coal burning town and a neighbor is green, when the wind is blowing in their direction they will reap what you’ve sown,”Reynolds said.
Play in regions is hosted at the EA online Origin game forum.
Early this year, EA kicked off a SimCityEDU project with in-house nonprofit studio GlassLab to test the game’s potential as a tool for promoting science, math, and engineering in public schools.
Some teachers and children in schools in the California city of Oakland dabbled with SimCity game as part of a GlassLab effort to explore its potential for teaching children and getting them excited about technology studies.
“There is huge focus on mastering new skills to run a successful city,”said GlassLab general manager Jessica Lindl.
“These children are coming in on their own during recess to play the game and we literally have to tear them away from the computer when it is time to go back to class,” she continued.
Feedback from the students will be used to specialize a version of SimCity for schools, according to Lindl. Backers of GlassLab include the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
WASHINGTON, March 4, 2013 – The White House said Monday it agrees with a citizen petition arguing that “jailbreaking” of mobile phones to allow users to switch carriers should be legal.
In a statement released on the White House petitions web page, presidential aide R. David Edelman said the administration supports the view of more than 114,000 signers who argued they should be able to unlock their cell phones without criminal or other penalties.
“It’s common sense, crucial for protecting consumer choice, and important for ensuring we continue to have the vibrant, competitive wireless market that delivers innovative products and solid service to meet consumers’ needs,”Edelman said.
“This is particularly important for secondhand or other mobile devices that you might buy or receive as a gift, and want to activate on the wireless network that meets your needs – even if it isn’t the one on which the device was first activated. All consumers deserve that flexibility.”Edelman said the White House supports “a range of approaches to addressing this issue, including narrow legislative fixes” to the law in question, and added that the Federal Communications Commission may also play a role.
The issue arose from a ruling by the Librarian of Congress, stating that persons who circumvent the software protecting a mobile phone which is “locked”to a single carrier would no longer be exempt from copyright law as of January 26.
The ruling prompted a flurry of protests, and more than 100,000 people added their names to the White House petition, enough to require a response under the Obama administration guidelines on online petitions.
From medical treatment to global communications, the past couple of decades have seen technology take over, and its impact is expected to increase to a much greater level as people constantly look to enhance their productivity and get more out of their day.
Since the introduction of the first photo finish at the 1948 London Summer Olympics, technology has also had an incredible impact on how sports are played and how athletes use new innovations to continuously improve their performance and set new records. Pakistani sport has also been affected by and benefitted tremendously from the introduction of new technologies in international sport.
Pakistani sports fans got their first taste of the impact of biomechanics in sports after the controversy surrounding the bowling actions of Shoaib Akhtar and Sri Lankan superstar Muttiah Muralitharan, as they seemingly ‘chucked’ the ball. In order to avoid future controversies and clear the actions of the bowlers, the ICC turned to Biomechanics.
So what is biomechanics? It is a technology that utilises the laws of mechanics to provide a greater understanding of how the bodies of athletes react in different situations through the use of mathematical modelling and computer simulations. The availability of this detailed information about body movements and their impact on the game, which would be missed by the naked eye, help provide definitive guidelines with regards to the legitimacy of a bowler’s action.
To solve the Akhtar- Muralitharan dilemma, the ICC referred the bowlers to specialist centres that used motion analysis high-resolution cameras to measure the angle at which the bowlers were moving their arms during their bowling action. And with the availability of biomechanics, it allowed the ICC to draw a line with regards to the constant controversy surrounding these bowlers, allowing the sport to move forward once again.
Biomechanics has other implications on sports in general as more athletes turn to technology to gain that extra bit of speed that can mean the difference between first and second place – winning and losing. The study of body movements through the use of biomechanical technology also allows coaches to help iron-out flaws in the way an athlete runs or throws, to not only increase their sporting prowess, but also reduce the risk of injuries that could potentially end careers.
Fast bowlers have often suffered from severe pressure on their joints as the increasingly hectic touring schedules cause more wear and tear than ever before, specifically on the knees and spine. Pakistan has long suffered the effects of these physical-stress related injuries as fast bowlers like Mohammed Zahid had to end their careers after suffering stress fractures in the back due to the enormous force absorbed by his body due to bowling actions. Shoaib Akhtar and Imran Khan also suffered because of similar injuries and lost significant playing time while recovering from stress fractures.
The use of biomechanics has not been limited to just a few sports, for years now the world’s top golfers have utilised this technology to iron out any kinks in their golf swing to help gain extra yards in their drives. This, coupled with the incredible leap in the use of technology and new materials in designing sports equipment, has helped top golfers tame the most challenging courses and break records that have stood for decades.
Swimmers and runners have used this technology, combined with other conventional medical technologies to help provide in-depth data about the functioning of their bodies during an event, and how they can improve on their performance based on data gathered on blood pressure, heart rates, breathing habits and physical movements during tests as well as in actual professional events. Coaches are now using a mix of these technologies, along with advice from doctors, physicians and technologists, to help increase the endurance of individual athletes, by concentrating on physical training programs that allow athletes to build up their resistance to the stress associated with each sport.
The end of instinct and adrenaline rush…
Purists have criticised the ever-increasing use of technology in sports, citing fears that the essence of the sport and the nuances of on-field decisions, including umpiring decisions, are an essential part of what makes the sport attractive. They fear that the excessive use of technology is making sports too clinical, and therefore less interesting for fans; but the fact remains that with time, sporting events have evolved and individual athletes have adapted by using more technology to ensure that they can break previously held notions about the limitations of the human body.
The relationship between sports and technology is evolving on a daily basis, from the use of Hawk-Eye to eradicate incorrect decisions in cricket, to the introduction of goal-line technology that will help referees in football decide whether or not a ball had crossed the goal line.
These decisions have a far-reaching impact on athletes and on teams in international sports, where a wrongfully disallowed goal can cost a football club millions of dollars in potential revenues.
Or levelling the playing field?
The increasing use of technology in sports is unavoidable. Using technology could help smaller nations compete with the sporting giants of the world by helping train athletes in the best way possible from a young age. Technology use will help level the playing field as more and more countries adopt new training and assessment techniques to identify talent that can compete on the international stage, and hone their skills specifically according to the needs of their chosen sports.
In Pakistan, the use of technology in sports remains beyond the reach of most young talented individuals; the Pakistan Cricket Board is the only sports board to have used biomechanics in training so far. This trend should hopefully change in the coming years, as the increasing potential for earning large sums of money from professional sports forces team owners and athletes to start utilising these technologies and help provide better opportunities for local athletes on the international stage.
What is a black hole?
A black hole is a region of spacetime from which nothing can escape, even light.
To see why this happens, imagine throwing a tennis ball into the air. The harder you throw the tennis ball, the faster it is travelling when it leaves your hand and the higher the ball will go before turning back. If you throw it hard enough it will never return, the gravitational attraction will not be able to pull it back down. The velocity the ball must have to escape is known as the escape velocity and for the earth is about 7 miles a second.
As a body is crushed into a smaller and smaller volume, the gravitational attraction increases, and hence the escape velocity gets bigger. Things have to be thrown harder and harder to escape. Eventually a point is reached when even light, which travels at 186 thousand miles a second, is not travelling fast enough to escape. At this point, nothing can get out as nothing can travel faster than light. This is a black hole.
Do they really exist?
It is impossible to see a black hole directly because no light can escape from them; they are black. But there are good reasons to think they exist.
When a large star has burnt all its fuel it explodes into a supernova. The stuff that is left collapses down to an extremely dense object known as a neutron star. We know that these objects exist because several have been found using radio telescopes.
If the neutron star is too large, the gravitational forces overwhelm the pressure gradients and collapse cannot be halted. The neutron star continues to shrink until it finally becomes a black hole. This mass limit is only a couple of solar masses, that is about twice the mass of our sun, and so we should expect at least a few neutron stars to have this mass. (Our sun is not particularly large; in fact it is quite small.)
A supernova occurs in our galaxy once every 300 years, and in neighbouring galaxies about 500 neutron stars have been identified. Therefore we are quite confident that there should also be some black holes.
Lahoris are famous for their passion for kite-flying — a passion that survived strong opposition from the influential religious right for decades, but couldn’t manage to withstand ‘corporatisation and official patronage’ of the sport for very long.
More than six years after the sport was banned and Basant celebrations heralding spring prohibited in the wake of deaths in kite-flying related accidents, the people still try and cling every year to the slightest and the weakest signal from the city administration for the revival of the festival that once was part of their growing-up experience in the city.
“What the orthodox religious lobbies could not achieve by decreeing Basant festivities as an un-Islamic and Hindu ritual came into being because the government didn’t have what it takes to protect the citizens’ right to enjoy their life the way they want to,” says Ihsanul Haq, a businessperson from Mozang.
“Instead of implementing the laws regulating the kite business to minimise the risk to human life, the inept bureaucracy and the police hierarchy have convinced the politicians to outlaw the sport. This kind of thinking dictates most actions of our rulers who would ban pillion riding and switch off our cellphones in the wake of a terrorist attack in the city or even in anticipation of it. Easy solutions to complex issues cannot solve our problems,” he argues.
Deaths caused by celebratory gunshots, falls from the rooftops, electrocution or road accidents related to Basant celebrations had always been an ‘accepted’ part of the game. But the images of motorcyclists and children with their throats cut by razor-sharp twine lined with abrasive chemicals and excessive crushed glass or killed by gunshots shown by television channels in the early 2000s triggered widespread public outcry against the ‘killer’ sport. It also provided fresh ammunition to the religious groups for their campaign against the ‘pagan’ festival. Those feeling angry over repeated power breakdowns due to kite-flying too joined the chorus.
The first ban on kite-flying, though for a period of three months only, was slapped by the then city Nazim Mian Amer Mahmood, a former activist of the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) who enjoyed close links with the generals. As the entry of multinationals, big banks, generals, bureaucrats, politicians, media groups and film and sports celebrities, as well as organisation of Basant celebrations at official level created a cut-throat competition, the use of banned materials in the preparation of lethal string used to bring down the rival’s kites increased.
As the number of deaths rose, the Supreme Court banned kite-flying/Basant festivities until a legal framework was put in place to regulate the business as well as the game itself. The government made extensive regulations, banned the use of chemical and metal reinforced string and proposed stringent punishments for the violators to get the Court’s ban lifted for 15 days for the Jashan-i-Baharaan in 2006. But the relief period was cut short by more deaths as law enforcers found it impossible to chase the violators and the sport and the business —manufacturing and sale of all kinds of materials used for making kites and string — was banned for an indefinite period.
Ever since, many have approached the courts for removal of the ban for 15 days each year as provided in the Punjab Kite Flying Prohibition Ordinance, pleading that the revival of kite flying business was crucial to save thousands of families associated with the trade. “It is surprising that the petitioners have never pointed out the significance of Basant and this centuries-old tradition for the cultural life of the city,” says Mubashir Bashir, a financial expert by profession. “What matters most to me is not jobs — although they remain a major concern, but the revival of the tradition that cuts across religious, economic, social and other divides.”
Ihsan points out that the way Basant is celebrated in Lahore is unique. “The city’s weather — cool breeze blowing under a clear, blue sky — in February, just when winter is departing, and the architectural layout of the Walled City and its residents’ unmatched passion for kites provide a perfect setting for this sport. It is the culture of the old city that has helped the people defy the decrees by religious groups against Basant. Therefore, it is no surprise that no other city in the entire subcontinent has ever attracted kite lovers from around the world as Lahore has. Even Basant festivals organised in Indian cities like Jaipur have failed to catch the attention of the world.”
As the time for traditional Basant celebrations is approaching with the beginning of February, Lahoris are once again asking: Will their sky ever be dotted with colourful kites and their rooftops resonate with the shouts of ‘bo kata’? More importantly, will their children be allowed to experience what they had in their childhood?
There are no easy answers to these questions because no-one would want loss of another innocent life for the sake of pleasure. Still the old days can be revived provided everybody — the administration, the police, the people, etc — agree to play the game according to the rules.
After all, those trapped by the sharp twine could be anybody’s friend or family.