Saturday, October 29, 2011

DTN News - ASIAN BOOMING ECONOMIES: India's First F1 Grand Prix Formula 1 Blast Off At Greater Noida Tomorrow October 30

DTN News - ASIAN BOOMING ECONOMIES: India's First F1 Grand Prix Formula 1 Blast Off At Greater Noida Tomorrow October 30
(NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - October 29, 2011: The Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida looked set to host a great motorsporting weekend as Formula One's superstar drivers and some of the sport's most storied teams burned rubber on the new track through two free practice sessions on Friday, and seemed to enjoy it, dusty conditions and stray dogs on the track notwithstanding.
With the top championship positions for this season locked ahead of the race, the Airtel Indian Grand Prix will be more a quest for domination in the speed stakes between the world's fastest drivers. There was palpable excitement in the Paddock area, where the teams are based, about the new track and a new market for Formula One racing.
Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel claimed pole position on Saturday for the inaugural Formula One Indian Grand Prix. Vettel's time of 1 minute, 24.178 seconds around Buddh International Circuit was three tenths of a second faster than McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, who will drop down to fi
Red Bull's Mark Webber was third fastest, ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and McLaren's Jenson Button.
Ferrari's Felipe Massa qualified seventh despite a heavy crash on the final lap when his right-front suspension broke going over a curb, sending him skidding into a barrier.
Mercedes' Nico Rosberg, Force India's Adrian Sutil and Toro Rosso pair Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari completed the top 10.
F1 Grand Prix: India's date with Hotwheels
"I loved it. It's a great track," McLaren's British driver Lewis Hamilton told ET, after he set the fastest lap time during the first free practice session in the morning, covering the 5.14 km track in one minute and 26.454 seconds. The fastest lap of the day was clocked by Ferrari's Felipe Massa at a minute and 25.706 seconds.
Hamilton said he has been having a good stay in India. "I had great Indian dinner last night. We went to this restaurant called Bukhara," Hamilton said. Did he have Dal Bukhara? "Ah yes, that, and some kababs," he added. Hamilton said he looked forward to a great race on Sunday.
Currently visiting New Delhi, Dawn Seth from England is enthusiastic of Formula 1, eager to be at Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida, if unable to obtain the relevant popular demand seats at the grandstand, Dawn will glue herself to the television to watch the entire day race.
Jaypee Sports International MD Sameer Gaur said he expected nearly 90,000 people on race day. "We have sold about 85,000 to 88,000 tickets for Sunday," he said. He said reports that ticket prices have been slashed are untrue. "We were selling grandstand seats at 35,000 for all three days. Later, due to popular demand, we introduced a ticket for race day alone for 15,000. We have not slashed prices at all," he said.
According to a Formula One Management official, Gaur had tears in his eyes when the first car - a Force India driven by Adrian Sutil, rolled off the pit lane. "Yes, it has been an emotional day. It is a dream come true to see all these cars finally racing here," Gaur said. The second car off the pit was a Lotus driven by Karun Chandhok, who will not be racing on Sunday. He drove the first timed lap on Friday. Force India's Paul di Resta and Narain Karthikeyan on an HRT followed Chandhok, as spectators cheered wildly for the Indian presence in the race.
In unrelated events, Virgin's Jerome D' Ambrosio suffered a mild crash while Ferrari's Fernando Alonso suffered an engine failure during the second practices session. Some teams and drivers complained of dust, while others said Formula One is about racing under all kinds of conditions and dust was expected here.
"It's an interesting track, a good challenge. It was very dusty to start with, but the track seems fun, especially the wide entries which give a lot of options to the drivers. It should be a good race on Sunday," double world champion Sebastian Vettel said.
Jackie Stewart, three-time world champion and one of the sport's best-known drivers, told ET this was the best new track he had ever seen. "In terms of the track and all the core areas, the pit stops, the team buildings and other facilities, this is on par with the best in the world. There are areas where more attention to detail is required, but then some countries are more developed in paying that sort of attention than others. This is a tremendous achievement and it's great for India," Stewart, who has travelled to India since the 1980s, owing to his association with Ford and Bridgestone, said.
For guests of the uber-luxury Paddock Club and others with access to the Paddock area, including the press contingent, there were many exciting moments as they frequently came face to face with celebrated drivers such as Michael Schumacher, Hamilton and Vettel. One also gets a close sense of the team operations from the area, as it connects to the rear of the pit garage. From a sport that used to play out in the distant playfields of the world's billionaires, Formula One racing has now come closer home, in the dusty plains of Greater Noida.
Fri 28 October 2011
Practice 110:00 - 11:30
Practice 214:00 - 15:30
Sat 29 October 2011
Practice 311:00 - 12:00
Sun 30 October 2011

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DTN News - ASIAN BOOMING ECONOMIES: Playboys Of The Eastern World

DTN News - ASIAN BOOMING ECONOMIES: Playboys Of The Eastern World
(NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - October 29, 2011: Indians feel at home in gambling hotspots. Indians are a common sight at gambling tables from Macau to Singapore.

Viren Mehra, 35, an investment banker from Mumbai, digs his elbows into the edge of a green baize table, transfixed by the Chinese woman croupier dealing out the cards. He's not overawed by the world's largest casino. The gilded, cavernous, chandelier-spangled $2.2 billion Venetian Macao spans 10 football fields. He ignores the fact that he's the only Indian at a table packed with chain-smoking Chinese. Yellow-jacketed hostesses periodically refresh gamers' glasses from carts loaded with water, orange juice and milk. The tobacco-laden airconditioned air is punctuated by whoops from some of the tables. Mehra is a regular, making six or seven visits a year, jetting down to Hong Kong and from there taking a 45-minute ferry ride to Macau(also spelt Macao). Here, he transacts business worth millions with hedge fund investors and corporate czars.

The venue is either the gaming floor at The Venetian or at the Macau Golf and Country Club. Mehra's five-yeargambling record: wagers of Rs. 50 lakh at the tables, wins of Rs.45 lakh. Net loss: Rs. 5 lakh. His favourite game? "Poker. Because it's all about thinking fast, having a head for numbers and keeping nerves of steel. Exactly what I need in my line of work."

Gambling at a Goan casino ship
Participants at the world gaming festival held aboard a Goan casino ship in September 2011.
Mehra is part of a new breed of Indian gamblers with high disposable incomes who fly down to exotic foreign locales to chance their luck. The passengers on the Hong Kong-bound late-night flight out of Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport are mostly male. There are wolfpacks of Sikh businessmen from Chandigarh who mix beer and whisky on board and entrepreneurs from the Hindi heartland who fiddle with the inflight entertainment even before take-off. Rakesh Kumar (name changed), a commodities trader fromIndore and a regular, spends approximately $10,000 each time he hits the casinos. He prefers the casinos in Singapore because they are "Asia's safest gambling destinations". "There are no sleazy activities there," he says primly. Kumar has been lucky only once in as many as 10 visits. And each time he boards a flight to Singapore, Kumar finds many heading to the city-state only for gambling.

The flights carrying Indian gamblers are going beyond the domestic gambling destinations of Goa and Sikkim. In Macau, the number of Indian tourists rose from 5,000 in 2002 to 1.69 lakh in 2010. They are now the biggest chunk of tourists after the Chinese and an increasingly common sight at tables in Macau, which hosts 34 casinos. "Indians can be seen with mobile-phone sized chips of HK $1,000 at the casinos and will place one peti (Rs. 1 lakh) on a single round of baccarat," says Pawan Bagri, 35, a Kolkata-based stockbroker. Indians, whom the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) considers the city's biggest spenders, are also top punters at Singapore's two mammoth casinos.

The casinos' projected earning of $6.5 billion this year is expected to go up to $8 billion by 2014-over half from Indian, Chinese, Australian and Indonesian tourists. Sri Lanka, where gambling was taboo, is in the process of legalising it. The island nation hopes to repair its economy with Indian tourists. "Indian tourists are already our largest arrivals over the past three years and entertainment is an area we want to focus on," says Nalaka Godage, chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourist Board.

5 GREAT GAMBLING MOVIES Seedy card games and sexy vamps. Casinos are Bollywood's vice dens. GAMBLER (1971) DevAnand is the card sharp on Lady Luck's roller-coaster. The GREAT GAMBLER (1979) Twin Amitabh Bachchans. One a gambler who's never lost, the other a policeman on his trail. KITES (2010) Hrithik Roshan is Jay, a man who lives by his wits. Bollywood's first Las Vegas sojourn. TEEN PATTI (2010) Amitabh Bachchan and Ben Kingsley battle each other in this remake of the 2008 hit 21. DOUBLE DHAMAAL (2011) Macau's Bollywood debut. The comedy had Sanjay Dutt playing a casino owner.

In India, public gambling is legal only in Goa and Sikkim. Elsewhere, the Public Gambling Act, 1867, prescribes fines and a one-year jail sentence for offenders. Gambling, however, thrives as an underground industry estimated by a 2010 kpmg report at $60 billion (Rs. 2.7 lakh crore) a year. This is the pie the overseas destinations are eyeing.

For years, Kathmandu used to be the place to be at, but with its eight casinos under threat of closure for non-payment of taxes, its lure is on the wane. For Indian gamblers, it's either the glitzy gaming tables of Macau, which give the Chinese special administrative region an annual turnover of $15 billion, four times that of Las Vegas, or the vertiginous towers of Singapore's shimmering Marina Bay Sands casino. Both cities have direct flights from Delhi and Mumbai. "A round trip to Macau costs just Rs. 23,000, about as much as it costs to fly from Delhi to Port Blair," says Jinal Shah of Zenith Holidays.

"Why would an Indian gambler endure visa hassles to go half-way across the globe to Las Vegas when the world's gaming capital is just six hours away?" ARUNA JHA, Restaurateur, Macau

Macau's Indian tourist surge began when half of Bollywood, from Amitabh Bachchan to Shah Rukh Khan, descended on it during the International Indian Film Awards in 2009. The event mirrored the former Portuguese colony's mega casino boom.

"Why would an Indian gambler endure visa hassles to go half-way across the world to Las Vegas when Macau is so close?" asks Aruna Jha, 52, who runs three Indian restaurants on the island, which offers visa on arrival for Indians. The Kathak dance teacher moved here from Dehradun 28 years ago. A fourth restaurant is on the cards. "I'm in the casino capital of the world," she says, adding, "I need a fourth card." Four other Indian restaurants have opened to cater to the Indian tourist rush.

Aruna Jha
Aruna Jha
Singapore opened two casinos in 2010, at Sentosa and another at the Marina Bay Sands. Built for $10 billion each (Rs. 45,000 crore), they are now thriving centrepieces delivering bumper profits and reeling in thousands of Indians. The STB predicts its casinos will soon overtake Las Vegas and become the world's second-largest gambling hub-after Macau-by the end of 2011. An estimated one million Indians would have landed in Singapore's Changi airport by the year-end, spending over $750 million, a sharp increase from last year's $560 million spend. "At least 15 to 20 per cent of them go to the casinos," estimates Wai Kee Choong, head of Regional Gaming at Nomura Asia.

The get-rich craze saw five Indian tourists getting arrested in January this year for using fake chips to gamble at the city-state's Marina Bay Sands Casino.

The Venetian
The gambling tables at The Venetian Macao resort hotel are spread over 5,50,000 sq ft. It is the world's largest casino.
"At least 15 to 20 per cent of the tourist spend in Singapore goes to the casinos." Wai Kee Choong, Head of Regional Gaming and Lodging Research, Nomura Asia

Singapore's Indian restaurants have doubled in just two years, from 45 in 2009 to 82 this year. Indian eateries are second only to the city-state's 384 Chinese restaurants. Almost all restaurants in Singapore's shopping malls and hotels serve Indian cuisine.

Chinese gamblers, who outnumber Indians 10 to 1 in both Singapore and Macau, play for luck. For Indians, gambling has a social and religious sanction, especially in the run-up to Diwali. Yet what happens in Macau, stays there. Jha recounts how one of her gambler patrons, a stone trader from Delhi, refused to take phone calls. He had told his family he was at a quarry in Rajasthan. The family of another inveterate gambler received a twin shock when they were informed of his death in Macau; he was supposed to be in Mumbai.

Wai Kee Choong
Wai Kee Choong
Could it be because prostitution and gambling are considered bedmates? And there is an air of illegitimacy attached? On Macau, the island's Russian and Chinese prostitutes scatter calling cards with cellphone numbers on the pavements. There are jokes about a dozen Indian tourists trying to bargain a bulk discount out of an outraged Russian prostitute. High-heeled streetwalkers prowl the bars and casinos swinging handbags and soliciting clients. Travel agents have a polite word for such activity: they call it "nightlife".

But food is perhaps more important than sex. Gamblers like Hitesh Shah, a 47-year-old businessman from Mumbai, prefer Goa to Singapore because they can't live without Indian vegetarian food. Live gaming took off in Goa with the 2008 arrival of three offshore casinos. Goa now has 24 casinos which earn the state Rs.250 crore annually. Sikkim, which opened its second casino in a five-star hotel this year, hopes to cash in too. It aims to lure away Kathmandu-bound gamblers once it gets its own airport at Pakyong in 2013.

The Resorts World Sentosa complex.
Dealers stand by tables at Singapore's The Resorts World Sentosa complex.
"Business is up 500 per cent since 2008.We are competing with neighbouring countries using our global casinos, easy access and personalised service." SHRINIVAS NAYAK, CP Group, Goa

Goa's casino business has grown by 500 per cent in three years and hopes to compete with Macau and Singapore. "Easy access, personalised service and local food make us a preferred destination," says Shrinivas Nayak, a spokesman for the CP Group, Goa's biggest gaming company. The red carpets are being laid out for the Indian high rollers. The red carpets are being laid out for the Indian high rollers. They have never had it so good.

- With Roshni Jayakrishnan and Kiran Tare

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DTN News - GADDAFI'S FAMILY AFFAIRS: Libya's Saif al-Islam Bids To Escape Father's Fate

DTN News - GADDAFI'S FAMILY AFFAIRS: Libya's Saif al-Islam Bids To Escape Father's Fate
(NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI, India - October 29, 2011: Saif al-Islam Gaddafi is expected to try to surrender to the International Criminal Court or seek refuge in a friendly African country as he races to escape his father's fate.
The Hague-based ICC said on Friday the 39-year-old had been in touch. It urged him to turn himself in, warning it could order a mid-air interception if he and his mercenary guards tried to flee by plane from his desert hideout for a safe haven.
The ICC's comments offered some corroboration of reports from Tripoli's new National Transitional Council (NTC) leaders and African neighbours that he has taken refuge with Tuareg nomads in the borderlands between Libya and Niger.
"Through intermediaries, we have informal contact with Saif," ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said in a statement.
"We have learnt through informal channels that there is a group of mercenaries who are offering to move Saif to an African (state) not party to ... the ICC. The Office of the Prosecutor is also exploring the possibility to intercept any plane within the air space of a state party in order to make an arrest."
In Beijing on Saturday, Moreno-Ocampo said Saif al-Islam was saying he would prove he was innocent of alleged crimes against humanity.
NTC officials told Reuters earlier this week that monitoring of satellite calls and other intelligence indicated Saif al-Islam was considering turning himself in to the ICC, and trying to arrange an aircraft to get him there and out of reach of NTC fighters, in whose hands Muammar Gaddafi was killed a week ago.
However, surrender is only one option. The Gaddafis made friends with desert tribes in Niger, Mali and other poor former French colonies in West Africa, as well as farther afield in countries like Zimbabwe and Sudan, some of them also recipients of largesse during the 42-year rule of Muammar Gaddafi, a self-styled African "king of kings".
France, a key backer of February's revolt, reminded Africans of obligations to hand over the surviving ICC indictees - former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi and Saif al-Islam.
"We don't care whether he goes on foot, by plane, by boat, by car or on a camel, the only thing that matters is that he belongs in the ICC," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero. "We don't have many details, but the sooner the better."
Niger, Mali, Chad and Burkina Faso, a swathe of arid states to the south of Libya, are all signatories to the treaty that set up the ICC, established to give a permanent international tribunal for crimes against humanity after ad hoc bodies set up for Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia and Sierra Leone.
"If we reach agreement, logistical measures for his transfer will be taken," ICC spokesman Fadi El Abdallah said. "There are different scenarios, depending on what country he is in."
Without its own police force, the ICC depends on cooperation from member states, which do not include world powers the United States, Russia and China.
Algeria, which took in Saif al-Islam's mother, sister, brother Hannibal and half-brother Mohammed, is not a signatory. Nor are Sudan or Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe.
As well as enjoying protection from Tuareg allies who traditionally provided close security for the Gaddafis, Saif al-Islam may still be in the company of mercenaries from elsewhere in Africa, including possibly South Africa, NTC officials say.
A South African newspaper, in an unconfirmed report, said South African mercenaries were working to fly him out.
A bodyguard who saw Saif al-Islam as he fled last week from one of the Gaddafi clan's last bastions near the capital told Reuters that he seemed "nervous" and "confused". He escaped even though his motorcade was hit by a NATO air strike as it left Bani Walid on Oct. 19, the day before his father died in Sirte.
Three of Saif al-Islam's brothers were killed in the war. Another, Saadi, has found refuge in Niger.
The arrest or surrender of Saif al-Islam would bring a new prominence for the nine-year-old ICC, whose highest profile suspect to date is Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who remains defiantly in office, defended by many fellow Africans.
Following the killing of Muammar Gaddafi, most probably at the hands of fighters who filmed themselves battering and abusing him, Western allies of Libya's new leaders urged them to impose respect for human rights.
NTC leaders would like to run their own trials, but acknowledge that their writ barely runs in the deep south.
Their NATO allies, now winding up a mission that backed the revolt, have expressed little enthusiasm for hunting a few individuals across a vast tract of empty continent -- though French troops based in West Africa might be best placed to step in with transport if Saif al-Islam did choose to surrender.
The ICC's Moreno-Ocampo said in his statement: "If he surrenders to the ICC, he has the right to be heard in court, he is innocent until proven guilty. The judges will decide.
"If the judges decide that Saif is innocent, or has served his sentence, he can request the judges to send him to a different country as long as that country accepts him."
Saif al-Islam was once seen as a liberal reformer, architect of a rapprochement with Western states on whom his father waged proxy guerrilla wars for decades. But he responded with belligerent rhetoric after the revolt erupted in Libya.
The ICC accuses him of hiring mercenaries to carry out a plan, worked out with his father and Senussi, to kill unarmed protesters inspired by "Arab Spring" uprisings elsewhere.
Niger's government in the capital Niamey has vowed to meet its ICC commitments. But 750 km (400 miles) north in a region where cross-border allegiances among Tuareg nomads often outweigh national ties, the picture looks different.
For now, some of the tens of thousands of people who eke out a living in the deepest Sahara, an expanse roamed by smugglers and nomadic herders, say there would be a welcome for the younger Gaddafi.
"We are ready to hide him wherever needed," said Mouddour Barka, a resident of Agadez in northern Niger. "We are telling the international community to stay out of this business and our own authorities not to hand him over -- otherwise we are ready to go out on to the streets and they will have us to deal with."
Mohamed Anako, president of Agadez region, the size of France, said: "I am ready to welcome him in. For me his case is quite simply a humanitarian one.
"Libya and Niger are brother countries and cousins ... so we will welcome him in."
(Additional reporting by Sara Webb and Aaron Gray-Block in Amsterdam, Samia Nakhoul in London, Mark John in Dakar, Ibrahim Diallo in Agadez and Barry Malone in Tripoli; Editing by Myra MacDonald and Ralph Gowling)
*Link for This article compiled by Roger Smith from reliable sources Reuters
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