Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pather Panchali still alive at the age of ‘50’

Mumbai: Prabhat Chitra Mandal celebrated ’50 years of Pather Panchali’ on the occasion of its 39th Anniversary with the screening of Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy at the Y.B. Chavan centre on Tuesday 8th Jan, 2008 at 6pm. The guest of honor, Mr. Sudhir Nandgaovkar inaugurated the ceremony, which was attended by a wide array of visitors from both the film and social fraternity.

The formal ceremony started with a welcome speech by Mr. Santosh Pathare, general secretary of Prabhat Chitra Mandal.

“We have successfully completed our 39 years of Prabhat Chitra Mandal, and what better way to celebrate this occasion than with the screening of Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy ,” said Mr. Pathare in his welcome speech. After introducing Mr. Sudhir Nandgaovkar and presenting him a bouquet he announced, “Sudhir Nandgaovkar is going to take up the responsibility of heading Prabhat Chitra Mandal’s new classic film center to be opened in Thane very soon.”

“Pather Panchali means a ‘song of a little road’. Pandit Ravi Shankar had given music to this film which was directed by great Satyajit Ray. And now this film has completed its’50 years’, which is definitely a great moment to rejoice and celebrate, not only this film, but the entire film industry as a whole,” expressed Mr. Nandgaovkar.

Pather Panchali was released in the year 1958 and ran for 8 weeks in Kolkatta. It was Satyajit Ray’s first film, which went on to a have a tremendous impact all over the world for its simple and artistic portrayal of poor a Bengali family, in which lies the genius of the great filmmaker.

The response for this screening was great. The enthusiasm amongst the audience, especially among the youngsters was palpable. “There were more than 200 people, including a good number of youngsters for the screening,” said Mr. Pathare.

The commemoration will continue till 10th January with the screening of ‘Aparajito’ and ‘Apur Sansar’ respectively, which constitutes the famous 'Apu' Trilogy’.

Our Mother Mary came to be - Mount Mary of Bandra

The pencil-thin wax candles burn endlessly day and night as fresh sprays of bright-coloured flowers almost cover the beatific face of mother Mary in white, holding a baby in her arms, this is the common sight at the Mount Mary Church, Bandra. Although we seek her divine grace and pursue her blessings to attain salvation, do we really know what the history of her presence is in her mist is? What is the story behind the miracle which has attracted millions of believers whose numbers continues to grow to date? The majority of answer is all probability is NO! This is exactly what this article deals with. Do give you a determination understanding of our mother of salvation and grace.

Mount Mary Church, also known as, Mount Mary Basilica, Mauli[mother] Mary or the Mount, has been visited by people of all faiths since 1640, when the Portuguese built the Nossa Senhora de Monte chapel on the site. The chapel crowned the hill till 1738, when it was razed by fire in a Maratha raid. According to a local legend, six months later the famous life-sized statue of the Virgin crafted in ornamented wood was recovered from the sea by a fisherman. The image was kept in the Aguada fort and later in the St Andrew’s church nearby, until the Mount was rebuilt in 1761 with funds from parishioners.

The statue was restored to its former position above a lavish gilded altar, which can still be seen today. Later, a long flight of stone steps was built on the eastern side of the church, leading to the main local market. The church has attracted pilgrims from all faiths over the years, though it’s not known when it gained its ‘miraculous’ reputation.
have always celebrate the Mount Mary It is therefore not surprising that millions of devotees of various religious beliefs and from different walks of life throng the church throughout the year to seek her blessings.

It is also said that the church got its reputation for answering prayers when the wish of a Parsi couple for a child was granted. The couple, Sir Jamshetjee Jeejeebhoy and Lady Jamshetjee, built a causeway between Mahim and Bandra, which was then separated by the sea, when their daughter was born. People now light creatively designed candles in the shape of limbs and other body parts denoting the specific area of ailment in front of the statue of Mother Mary, in the hope of being cured.

Trees, You and Life!!

Today, global warming is a major threat to human beings. The case of Borivali National Park is there for all of us to see; it is today under the growing threat from Human intrusion. Also, there is increasing cases of attacks by big cats on Humans. The issues are different, but the reason behind them are the same; Deforestation. To know what the main reasons behind deforestation are, the problems of it and it's possible solution, we met and interviewed a notable and respected of environmentalist, Dr. Ashok Kothari.

Interview of an Environmentalist: - Dr. Ashok S. Kothari M.B.B.S.

Dr. Ashok S. Kothari practices Medicine in his clinic named 'Tree Shade Clinic' in Santa Cruz.. He is the former President of Santacruz Medical Social Association and also the past president of the Rotary Club of Bombay Seacoast and currently he is the Chairman of the Souvenir Subcommittee. He also holds a post in a Bombay Natural History Society as a Hon. Joint Secretary (Since 1984), which plays a major part in conserving nature. He has provided his contribution to the National Society of the Friends of the trees, which specifically works for the preservation of trees and has won many awards for planting the largest amount of trees.

He has also provided his contribution in the field of environmental publications, working as a Co-Editor for Salim Ali's India -1996 and Treasures of Indian Wildlife -2005 (BNHS & OUP Publications). He is someone who has been actively involved in Nature conservation and has also won many awards for doing a stellar job in planting trees.


Q.1. What is the Status of the environment that we live in?

We are felling trees at an alarming rate because of the pressure from growing population; as a result all the forests have been rendered very thin. The forest that we once had is just a fraction of the size it once was, and it continues to decrease every day. Even The Borivali National Park is under the growing threat of Human intrusion. And it is therefore no coincidence that there is increasing attacks of big cats on Humans, that’s the threat we face when nature is taken for granted.

People don't seem to have realised the importance of the Forest cover for the ecology of Mumbai. Every tree in Mumbai needs to be protected and we cannot just ignore the threat it poses to the environment and thereby to all of us as well. Remember…"Compromising on Trees is compromising on Life".

Q.2. What are the major implications on our nature an account of deforestation?

There are many implications some of which are very dangerous for humans and also the nature as a whole. Firstly the sea level is increasing rapidity. The experts’ are stating that global warming is aided by the effects of deforestation. Also, our life will become dull; and as pollution increases there will be an acute shortage of water. And this fact is showcased by various examples from our nature; like the 'Sahara' which is increasing and expanding in size every year and deforestation is to blame say the experts . The positive's side of forest cover is aptly demonstrated by the contribution of a single man can have on the nature, which is demonstrated by the effects his love for trees had on the small district of 'Palanpur' in North Gujarat.

A tree lover' Khalid Ahmed Khan' has been planting trees every year and had been stopping trees from being felled and exploited. After some years, through the contribution of this one individual it was seen that the annual rainfall increased from 12 inch to 32 inch. In contrast in 'Cherapunji' the rainfall is decreasing owing to deforestation, this example highlights the effect that trees have on nature.

Apart from these problems there is also the problem of erosion, landslides and also conservation of wildlife and the water sources, which also has a lot to do with trees as all of them are interdependent and interconnected.

Trees play a vital role in maintaining the balance of nature. If one tree is cut in nature it also means that many other forms of life are threatened and are now left vulnerable. And one of the reason that Mumbai has a regular and sufficient amount of water supply is the fact that it is surrounded by lakes from where it gets it's water supply. And these lakes are surrounded by trees which guarantees steady rainfall. And if we start cutting down these trees the entire Mumbai will be left vulnerable.

Q.3. According to you, what are the factors that have contributed to the problems of deforestation?

The biggest factors leading to deforestation are that, earlier we used to worship trees, but today we view it just as a commodity, which is there just to make our life better, nothing else. Even the tribal, who were seen as a protector of trees are now exploiting them. A tree, which is essential for a tribes existence has now become a partner in exhausting them. In the tribal area, it is not hard to see truckloads of trees coming out with load full of trees chopped illegally. This clearly shows there is a growing nexus between the tribals and the Timber mafia. The mafias are now very powerful and they make use of the corrupt authorities and ill-informed locals to make money out of the trees. The mafias are exploiting the tribals and the nature to achieve their vested interest.

Another important factor is the growing number of unemployment. Cutting down trees and selling them has become an alternate source of income for many.

Q.4. How do you rate the performance of the government regarding the issue of deforestation? Why?

The government is planting trees no doubt. But the problem arises because in a hurry to see the tree grow quicker, the government is continuing with the plantation without proper planning and study. The result is that the government ends up planting trees of foreign origin like 'Paltoforum', 'Gulmohur', 'Ren', 'Australian Acacias' and the 'Eucalyptus varieties ', which are not ideal for Indian ecosystem and the Indian soil type.

Although these foreign trees grow quickly and don't require much care, they create more problems then they solve. For example, the 'Australian Acacias' don't live long, although they grow very fast, so what is the use of the growing this tree in the first place. And the eucalyptus tree sucks away all the water in the vicinity and lowers the water level, which creates more problems for the people, which goes against the use of the trees i.e., increase water supply. And the foreign trees do not attract birds either or support small wildlife which is yet another important function of the trees; to nurture and protect. The 'Ren' tree's roots grow so deep and wide that it destroys all the construction nearby, breaking the water pipe and cripples the infrastructure of the surrounding areas. The Indian trees although takes time to grow, there is no doubt that it's a much better option.

The question which really baffles me is that, in a country like India, which has the second highest variety of trees found anywhere in the world, only next to Brazil, has to be so dependent on trees of foreign origin. What is the rationale behind it? My only hope is that the government sooner rather than later realises its mistakes and takes steps to undo the impact the foreign tress have already had, at least to some extent.

Q.5. What is the role of the Government the NGO's and the society in coming up with an solution for the problem?

The NGO's must make sure that the government is performing it's duties, and is also delivering on the promises made to the people. The government must keep a constant watch on the activities of the government and maintain a constant pressure on them so that they do not take the issue of the environment and nature lightly. The NGO's should also provide a voice for the people demands and also raise the queries, and also transfer the complaints the general public has of the government and get it answered.

Creating awareness is the best answers to all these problems. If the people come to know about the dangers of deforestation then there is no reason why people won’t take a stand against it, after all we all know that deforestation is dangerous and has to be put a stop to. The Tree Act has to be made more stringent. The tree authority has to be made more accountable and a constant tab has to be kept on the trees that are cut. And rather than catching the workers the enforcers have to catch those who have ordered for the tree to be cut, the 'Big Guns' in the timber mafia.

Also, most trees are cut on Weekends, which allows for the perpetrators to get away. So, more thinking, time and man-hours have to be devoted to this task, which is only getting tougher and arduous by the day. A special toll free number, primarily dedicated for complaints regarding the environment and the trees has to be setup, and response time must be made quicker, unlike the Police or BMC who are difficult to contact and if they are somehow contacted never reach on time.

Q.6. According to you, who should take the lead in the fight against deforestation? Why?

The answer is quite simple. It is the people and the society at large who should take the lead. The young generation should be made aware about the importance of trees and should understand the significance of tree plantation and how essential conservation of trees is for all of us. Planting and conservation of trees should be made a habit. And once the society is made aware of the problem and the steps that are required to put a stop to it have been implemented with full devotion, there is nothing that could stop the tree from flourishing once again. The idea behind tree plantation is that the current generation has to plan ahead. As the tree takes time to grow, it has to be planted years in advance so that the coming generation could reap it's benefits.

Q.7. What are your suggestions to tackle deforestation in the society?

There has to be strict laws against the perpetrators of this crime against nature. In some cases the laws has not been stringent enough and there are many loopholes in them. When you talk about Mumbai, there has to be strict vigilance in and around the National park as also in other areas under forestation. Every tree needs to be protected. There has to be a strict tab on the trees that is coming in and out of the city of Mumbai. Thousands of trees come into India every night to be used as cremation timber, and that includes young trees, which is illegal and goes against the law. Another solution that can work is by encouraging the use of solar cooking gas. Also, electric crematoria have to be made used of more often to reduce the burden on this valuable resource. All these measures could help save that all important extra trees.

Q.8. What lessons should be draw from a social movement like Chipko Movement? Is it the answer for deforestation?

It is the best example where a social movement has been instrumental in saving the nature. A social movement is the biggest personification of democracy and one that has the biggest impact. People’s movement is at the root of democracy and is very effective. It shows the collective strength of the society and demonstrated that there is no power that can oppose the power of a social movement. It has the power to bring about a revolution, and it is now time to use this example and bring about a revolution to protect our environment and nature. And there can be no better start than saving the trees.

Q.9. Could you give any message for the Youth?

The youth is the future. Every youth should take this issue very seriously and make sure that the trees are preserved and new trees are planted. And before planting there has to be a careful study of the type of trees being planted. And indigenous trees always have to be given priority over foreign trees.

Keeping the light of hope from Fading; Gaurav Gadodia

For some people challenges and adversities are an opportunity to prove themselves and it is under pressure and stress that they come to the fore. For them, pressure is a luxury and to quit is a crime. And excuses and clever pretexts are considered just considered a sign of the weak. Although the people of this breed are rare, definitely Gaurav Gadodia is one of them.

He suffered from macular degeneration (Stargardt's disease) when he was 9 years old, due to which he lost 70% of his sight. He had a normal childhood despite his impairedness. He is a very determined, focused, fun loving, and a happy go lucky person. He had normal and full vision at birth. But at the tender age of 9, he had problems reading & seeing clearly. “At the beginning it was very difficult for me to accept this fact and cope with it, but because of my parents support and constant encouragement I was able to come out of it” expresses Gaurav Gadodia passionately.

This handsome and unassuming star; is humble and confident at same time and loves to play cricket, going out with friends, attending karate camps is currently pursuing his Masters in Law along with being a Practicing Advocate in the High Court. He thinks that reading and computer or being a tech savvy person are his most basic problems he faces day to day. “The One way to come up in life is through acquiring knowledge, but till today knowledge was limited only to books,” he says dejectedly.

Listening to music, travelling are the other interests of Gaurav, who is also a black belt holder in martial arts. He is very inquisitive to know the things that are new and ground breaking and is an information and knowledge freak with an undying passion to learn, grow and progress in whatever he does. And it seems like his curiosity, fighting spirit and a competitive streak in him that led him to choose Chess as his passion. “Now what fascinates me about chess is that so many secrets lie beneath the 64 squares. It seems as if the board is my battlefield and the pieces are my troupe. The sheer nature, wholesomeness, quality to foresee and the ability to strategize, attract me the most to chess,” he retorts enthusiastically.

Enthusiastic and passionate Gaurav joined All India Chess Federation for the Blind (AICFB) in the year 1998 and with the help of Mr. Charudatt Jadhav (Hon. Secretary of the organisation); since then he has major steps forward in the world of chess. He has also coached b from Mr. Raghunanthan Gokhale, the only Donacharia Awardee for chess, which helped him to improve on the Excellency of his game. Over the years, he has been practicing for chess 3 to 4 hours everyday and has been playing a lot of tournaments and won many fame and accolades for himself and the country.

“One of the most memorable moment of my life is when my name entered the Limca book of Records being the First Indian to represent India in Under-21 World Championship for the Blind and securing the Second position in the Under-18 category in the World Junior Chess Championship for the Blind held in Belgium 1999,” says Gaurav proudly, who was also the first person to be awarded top honours in the Asian Chess Championship for the Blind in which various players from 13 countries participated.

He also shares a very special bond with his sister Neha, who has been a constant supporter and a pillar of strength to Gaurav through all his highs and low. Gaurav reserves special mention for Neha and acknowledges the special contribution that she has made in his life.

He's a living testimony to the power of the human spirit and what sheer persistence and passion can achieve. His example proves what positive reinforcement and the hunger to overcome all hurdles and challenges can result in.

One question that this throws up is, had he not been impaired would we been different? Not at all!

Here is a person that we can learn form and hopefully emulate. Just imagine if this person had what we just take for granted everyday, where it could have taken him. It's time for us lo look with us and start exploring and realizing the possibilities that lies within us and what better role model than Gaurav Gadodia, whose retinal light might have faded but the light of hope fired by his steely resolve and unparalleled dedication still rages on!!! Here is a hero, who believes in action rather than words.

IPL player auction final Lineup!!

Highest bids

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India: Chennai, $1.5 million
Andrew Symonds, Australia: Hyderabad, $1.35 million
Sanath Jayasuriya, Sri Lanka: Mumbai, $975,000
Ishant Sharma, India: Calcutta, $950,000
Irfan Pathan, India: Mohali, $925,000
Brett Lee, Australia: Mohali, $900,000
Jacques Kallis, South Africa: Bangalore, $900,000
R.P.Singh, India: Hyderabad, $875,000
Harbhajan Singh, India: Mumbai, $850,000
Chris Gayle, West Indies: Calcutta, $800,000
Robin Uthappa, India: Mumbai, $800,000


x-Rahul Dravid, India
Jacques Kallis, South Africa, $900,000
Anil Kumble, India, $500,000
Cameron White, Australia, $500,000
Zaheer Khan, Bangalore, $ 450,000
Mark Boucher, South Africa, $450,000
Nathan Bracken, Australia, $325,000
Dale Steyn, South Africa, $325,000
Wasim Jaffer, India, $150,000

x-Sourav Ganguly, India
Ishant Sharma, India, $950,000
Chris Gayle, West Indies, $800,000
Brendon McCullum, New Zealand, $700,000
David Hussey, Australia, $625,000
Shoaib Akhtar, Pakistan, $425,000
Murali Karthik, India, $425,000
Ricky Ponting, Australia, $400,000
Ajit Agarkar, India, $350,000
Umar Gul, Pakistan, $150,000

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India, $1.5 million
Jacob Oram, New Zealand, $675,000
Albie Morkel, South Africa, $675,000
Suresh Raina, India, $650,000
Muttiah Muralitharan, Sri Lanka, $600,000
Matthew Hayden, Australia, $375,000
Stephen Fleming, New Zealand, $350,000
Parthiv Patel, India, $325,000
Joginder Sharma, India, $225,000
Makhaya Ntini, South Africa, $200,000

Monday, February 4, 2008

Fastrack Valentine Ride - Amalgamation of Passions.

It is often said that a man or a woman are defined by the passion that they have and share. And that someone, who is without a passion to pursue and does not try that extra hard to fulfill it is said to have hardly lived. No other day ignites the same amount of passion and emotions than Valentine's Day does; where we all take time off to express our gratitude and appreciation to that someone who means a lot in all our lives.

Taking about Passion, Bombay Bikers have come up with a unique event to combine the common passion that we all share for Bikes and pleasure of riding with the spirit and celebration that Valentines Day brings with it. Fastrack Valentine Ride scheduled on the Sunday, 10th of February is an ideal opportunity to realize your true passion of bikes; companionship and camaraderie with all those who share your passion. This day is designed to make sure that everyone associated with the event experiences the true pleasures and spirit that comes alive when you combine your love for riding with your zest for life, togetherness and love, creating a bond that creates magic.

The event which has been inspired by the message of love, friendship, harmony and merriment that Valentine day gives is supported by Fasttrack and will start from Dadar, with a planned ride to Nishyland (on old Mumbai Pune Highway) for a day which promises a day filled with as much fun and enjoyment that can be packed into one day, including, Fun at the Water Park (Nishyland), Sumptuous Meals/ Veg/ Non-Veg with Soft drinks, Rain Dance DJ and not to mention Water Games.…

We have decided to leave no stone unturned to make this day a success. This event has already garnered encouraging response from many couples already. So, make sure not to miss this opportunity to follow your passion to 'Ride-in' the Valentine's day in style and in a unique way.

For Enquiries, Information and Registration Contact:


+91 99676 42220 or Visit

Date: 10th, Feb, 08
Event: Joy ride, Jan '08
Venue: Dadar, Shivaji Park, Bombay

Timing (Start): -7-8 am

Organizer: Bombay Bikers

10 Reasons Why the Giants Won

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- While all the talk leading up to Super Bowl XLII centered on perfection, on how the New England Patriots were one of the best teams ever, we forgot to acknowledge one simple fact: The New York Giants were playing better at this time of the year than their opponents.

We should've realized what was happening in the postseason. We do now. The Giants have their Vince Lombardi Trophy after a 17-14 win over the Patriots. Here are 10 things we learned from arguably the greatest Super Bowl ever.

1. Eli is the Man

Giants quarterback Eli Manning finalized his stunning postseason run -- as well as the Super Bowl MVP award -- with that game-winning touchdown drive in the final minutes. He also gave the Giants a play that probably will turn up on every Super Bowl highlight film for decades to come. When Manning spun out of what seemed to be a sure sack with 59 seconds left and delivered a 32-yard strike to David Tyree, he showed the kind of heart every team covets from its leader. It's fair to say that was one of the biggest plays in Super Bowl history.

"I was watching Eli after Randy Moss caught that touchdown pass [to give New England a 14-10 lead with 2:42 remaining in the game]," said Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who watched his younger brother from a stadium suite Sunday. "There wasn't any panic in his eyes. His mind-set was, 'Hey, we have got 2:45 left and we have some timeouts. We'll have the ball last, and we'll make it happen.'"

2. Plaxico the Prophet

It looks as though Plaxico Burress now has his own place alongside Joe Namath in the New York sports scene. He had only two catches Sunday, but his second one turned out to be the game-winning touchdown. You have to give the guy credit: He had the confidence to say what the Giants privately believed. And you also have to applaud him for continuing to stay focused when the ball wasn't coming his way.

What you can question, however, is why New England opted to single-cover 6-foot-5 Burress with 5-9 cornerback Ellis Hobbs on Burress' game-winning, 13-yard touchdown catch with 35 seconds left.

"They were basically double-teaming me all night," Burress said. "We were just waiting for that one time where we could get him over there in single coverage. I gave him a slant fake; he bit on it; and Eli put it up there for me to come down with it."

3. The Giants had the right idea

New York definitely got off to the kind of start it needed. By controlling the football for 19 minutes, 27 seconds, in the first half, the Giants kept the Pats' prolific offense on the sideline while gaining plenty of confidence. The first quarter was especially critical; New York held the ball for nearly 10 minutes while converting a Super Bowl-record four third-down opportunities on that first drive. That possession was enough to make the Giants see that this game wouldn't overwhelm them.

"We hit them in the mouth time and time again," New York wide receiver Amani Toomer said. "They realized real early that we weren't backing down from them."

Added New England wide receiver Randy Moss: "I think their intensity from the beginning snap to the end of the game was really higher than ours. We just couldn't meet that intensity."

4. The ball wasn't bouncing New England's way

This game would've been much different early on if the Patriots' defense had been able to hold on to the football. Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw fumbled in the second quarter, but wrangled the ball away from Pats linebacker Pierre Woods to maintain possession at the New York 30-yard line. The Patriots also couldn't recover a fumble that another New England linebacker, Adalius Thomas, forced after sacking Manning later in the quarter. Finally, Pats cornerback Randall Gay dropped what looked like a sure interception of an errant Manning pass intended for Steve Smith.

Sure, Patriots cornerback Ellis Hobbs intercepted Manning early in that period, but New England thrives on converting turnovers into points. It simply couldn't come up with enough of them.

5. Sour on Seymour

The Giants didn't have anything positive to say about Patriots defensive end Richard Seymour after their Super Bowl win. Apparently, Seymour told some New York offensive players that they "should be ready to go home" before their last drive. That comment irritated Toomer, and it still bothered Giants running back Brandon Jacobs in the locker room.

"I'll give you a quote on Seymour," Jacobs said. "You can write that he's a soft [expletive]. He said we should get ready to go home. Well, now he's on the team that went 18-1."

6. Where's Randy?

The Giants clearly learned a thing or two about defending the Patriots offense after losing their regular-season finale to New England. One essential key was to contain Moss, especially if you want to limit the big plays. In that first meeting, Moss produced six receptions for 100 yards and two touchdowns. On Sunday, he continued to be the same nonfactor he was throughout the postseason. Although he scored the go-ahead touchdown with 2:42 left, he finished with only five receptions for 62 yards.

"We had a game plan, and we just didn't execute it," Moss said. "We don't point fingers around here. We just didn't play well as a unit."

7. Brilliance and boneheadedness

New England coach Bill Belichick obviously doesn't need spying tactics to see everything. His decision to challenge a punt play on the Patriots' opening drive of the second half -- he alleged that Giants reserve linebacker Chase Blackburn didn't reach the sideline in time to avoid a penalty for 12 men on the field -- allowed the Patriots to maintain possession at a critical point in the game.

Unfortunately for the Patriots, the Giants' defense wasn't going to cave in the face of that momentum. New York managed to force New England into another fourth-down situation that ended with another interesting choice by Belichick (he went for it on fourth-and-13 from the Giants' 31-yard line instead of attempting a 48-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski). Note to Belichick: Those three points could've helped your team in the end.

8. The Justin Tuck factor

New York's third-best defensive end looked like a future Hall of Famer in this game. In the first half alone, Tuck led the team with six tackles, sacked Tom Brady twice and forced a fumble on the second takedown. Before Tuck started taking over, the Giants seemed to be feeling their way through the early moments of the game. After that turning point, it was apparent the Patriots would have protection problems throughout the contest.

"We just tried to keep him off his timing," Tuck said. "That's what you have to do against a quarterback that good."

9. Tom Brady is human

You have to admit it was strange to see the Patriots' Pro Bowl quarterback harassed as much as he was in this game. He was hit on more than half of his first 17 pass attempts in the first half alone,

the Giants sacked him three times and knocked him down six other times -- and Brady actually looked rattled at times. He couldn't stand in the pocket long enough to throw deep to Moss, and he even seemed confused at times. The bottom line: Brady faced his toughest challenge of the season at the worst possible time (he was sacked five times).

Said Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo: "We never put a number on it, but we said all week that we had to hit [Brady] whether he completed a pass or not. But that guy also is a warrior. When he was leading them down the field [for the go-ahead touchdown with 2:42 left], he wasn't thinking about the hits he took earlier in that game."

10. Kevin Faulk's hurting hamstring

The impact of Faulk's left hamstring injury -- he limped off the field after the Patriots' first possession of the second half -- can't be underestimated. Faulk had been the best player on the New England offense in the AFC Championship Game win over San Diego two weeks ago, and he was just starting to give New York fits with his receptions out of the backfield Sunday. Without him at full strength, the Pats lost one of Brady's favorite third-down options. And as talented as Laurence Maroney is, he's not as clutch in those situations as Faulk can be.

"Kevin Faulk is as dangerous on third down as [Patriots wide receiver] Wes Welker is," Giants safety Gibril Wilson said. "They lost a lot when he wasn't out there."

Jeffri Chadiha covers the NFL for

Source : ABC News

Navy Tests Incredible Sci-Fi Weapon

The U.S. Navy yesterday test fired an incredibly powerful new big gun designed to replace conventional weaponry aboard ships. Sci-fi fans will recognize its awesome power and futuristic technology.

The big gun uses electromagnetic energy instead of explosive chemical propellants to fire a projectile farther and faster. The railgun, as it is called, will ultimately fire a projectile more than 230 miles (370 kilometers) with a muzzle velocity seven times the speed of sound (Mach 7) and a velocity of Mach 5 at impact.

The test-firing, captured on video, took place Jan. 31 in Dahlgren, Va., and Navy officials called it the "world's most powerful electromagnetic railgun."

The Navy's current MK 45 five-inch gun, by contrast, has a range of less than 23 miles (37 kilometers).

The railgun has been a featured weapon in many science fiction universes, such as the new "Battlestar Galactic" series. It has also achieved newfound popularity among the 20-something-and-under generation for its devastating ability to instantaneously shoot a "slug" through walls and through multiple enemies in video games such as the "Quake" series of first person shooters.

The Navy's motivation? Simple destruction.

The railgun's high-velocity projectile will destroy targets with sheer kinetic energy rather than with conventional explosives.

"I never ever want to see a Sailor or Marine in a fair fight. I always want them to have the advantage," said Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Gary Roughead. "We should never lose sight of always looking for the next big thing, always looking to make our capability better, more effective than what anyone else can put on the battlefield."

The railgun's lack of explosives means ships would be safer, said Elizabeth D'Andrea, Electromagnetic Railgun Program Manager.

The Navy's goal is to demonstrate a full-capability prototype by 2018.

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Source: Yahoo News

Bush unveils $3 trillion spending plan

President Bush is sending Congress a $3 trillion spending blueprint that would provide a big boost to defense and protect his signature tax cuts.

It seeks sizable savings in government health care programs and puts the squeeze on much of the rest of government, but it would still generate near-record budget deficits over the next two years.

Democrats attacked Bush's final spending plan as a continuation of what they contend are seven years of failed policies by the Bush administration.

"Today's budget bears all the hallmarks of the Bush legacy — it leads to more deficits, more debt, more tax cuts, more cutbacks in critical services," said House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt, D-S.C.

For his last budget, Bush stopped the practice of providing 3,000 paper copies of the budget to members of Congress and the media as a moneysaving measure. Democrats joked that Bush had run out of red ink.

"We have seen this script before. The president proposes more of the same failed policies he has embraced throughout his time in office — more deficit-financed war spending, more deficit-financed tax cuts tilted to benefit the wealthiest and more borrowing from foreign nations like China and Japan," said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D.

Democrats said the big jump in deficits for this year and 2009 continued an era under Bush in which the national debt has exploded. A projected 10-year surplus of $5.6 trillion when Bush took office was wiped out by the 2001 recession, the increased spending to fight terrorism and, Democrats contend, Bush's costly tax cuts.

Bush's spending blueprint sets the stage for what will probably be epic battles in the president's last year in office, as both parties seek to gain advantages with voters heading into the November elections.

Bush, who was the first president to propose a $2 trillion budget, back in 2002, will leave office as the first president to hit $3 trillion with a spending plan.

His blueprint for the budget year that begins next October projects huge deficits, around $400 billion for this year and next, more than double the 2007 deficit of $163 billion. Private economists believe the deficit could easily surpass the previous record in dollar terms of $413 billion set in 2004, especially if the country does go into a recession.

The sharp jump in the deficits reflects, in part, a proposed economic stimulus plan of around $145 billion. Bush is urging Congress to pass it quickly as a way of getting tax rebates to households this summer in hopes of preventing a full-blown recession.

As in past years, Bush's biggest proposed increases are in national security. Defense spending is projected to rise by about 7 percent, to $515 billion, and homeland security money by almost 11 percent, with a big gain for border security. Details on the budget were obtained through interviews with administration officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity until the budget's release.

The bulk of government programs for which Congress sets annual spending levels would remain essentially frozen at current levels. The president does shower extra money on some favored programs in education and to bolster inspections of imported food, following last year's high-profile recalls of tainted products coming from China.

Bush's spending proposal would achieve sizable savings by slowing the growth in the major health programs — Medicare for retirees and Medicaid for the poor. There the president will be asking for almost $200 billion in cuts over five years, about three times the savings he proposed last year. The savings would come from freezing payments for hospitals and other health care providers.

Congress rejected last year's effort and Democrats are predicting Bush's new proposal will meet the same fate.

Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other so-called entitlement programs — where the government is obligated to pay benefits to all who are eligible — now account for half of the total budget, with the costs expected to continue rising rapidly in coming years as 78 million baby boomers reach retirement.

Bush had hoped to make overhaul of Social Security a top goal of his second term but his plan to introduce individual investment accounts went nowhere.

Bush's five-year blueprint makes his first-term tax cuts permanent while still claiming to get the budget into balance by 2012, three years after he leaves office. While Republicans are pledging to protect the tax cuts, Democrats, including the party's presidential candidates, want to roll back the tax relief provided the wealthy.

Democrats say Bush's budget is built on flawed math. Beyond 2009, the budget plan does not include any money to keep the alternative minimum tax, which was aimed at the wealthy, from ensnaring millions of middle-income people. It also includes only $70 billion to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2009, just a fraction of the $200 billion those wars are expected to cost this year.

Bush proposes boosting spending to hire more diplomats at the State Department and in some areas of education such as Title I grants, the main source of federal support for poor students.

But at the same time, Bush seeks to eliminate 47 other education programs that are seen as unnecessary, part of 151 programs Bush is targeting to either eliminate or sharply scale back. A similar effort last year met with little success.

Source: Yahoo News