Saturday, 26 February 2011

Shafiul secures Bangladesh vital victory

Mohammad Ashraful celebrated extravagantly after his wickets, Bangladesh v Ireland, World Cup 2011, Mirpur, February 25, 2010

Bangladesh's bowlers held their nerve to atone for the failures of their batsman, as the pluck of the Irish proved insufficient to overcome the most fervent atmosphere of the World Cup so far. In a gripping, low-scoring encounter at Mirpur, Bangladesh flirted with disaster as they squandered a flying start from

Tamim Iqbal to crash to 205 all out, and when Ireland reached 93 for 3 at the halfway mark of their reply, they were well on course for a hugely deserved victory. However, six wickets for the Bangladeshi spin quartet set the stage for a flying finish from Shafiul Islam, who claimed 4 for 21 in eight hostile and reverse-swinging overs, to seal a wildly acclaimed victory by 27 runs with five overs to spare.

The result was tough on the Irish who, like the Netherlands earlier in the week, gave the match their all and deserved a Test-playing scalp as their reward. But the belief and unity of the Bangladeshis had to be seen to be believed, as they dusted themselves down after a chastising performance with the bat, and set about defending their meagre total with skill, tenacity and some sublime commitment in the field. Mohammad Ashraful, whose mercurial batting once again let him down when the heat was on, proved a revelation with the ball, as his spin-bowling all-sorts picked up two vital wickets inside the first 19 overs, and whose subsequent celebrations imbued both his team-mates - and perhaps more crucially, a rammed and expectant Mirpur crowd - with belief.

There will be many higher-profile fixtures than this in the coming weeks, but few could prove as pivotal to the fortunes of two teams who exceeded expectations four years ago in reaching the Super Eights in the Caribbean. Ireland's hopes of playing in the 2015 tournament hinge on their ability to produce this sort of performance in each of their next five matches, to convince the ICC that they deserve their place at the top table. But more immediately, Bangladesh's victory gives them a real chance of pushing for a quarter-final place that their form in home internationals suggests could be attainable.

After winning the toss and choosing to bat, Bangladesh started the match with the same aplomb with which they finished, bringing their fans to their feet in a thrilling first four overs, in which Tamim's blistering volley of strokeplay lifted the score to an imposing 41 for 0. However, Ireland are a more resourceful side than meets the eye, and the early decision to reduce the pace on the ball slowly but surely changed the tide of the contest. Trent Johnston and John Mooney drew the sting of the innings with their unrelenting line and length, but it was left to the teenaged spinner George Dockrell to inflict the telling blows.

Dockrell twirled straight through his ten overs, claiming 2 for 23 with a performance brimful of guile. His agonisingly slow pace through the air left all the batsmen groping in their defences, scared of taking on the long straight boundary for fear of being beaten in flight, and his two dismissals were carbon-copies of one another - a crease-bound Mushfiqur Rahim paddle-swept to Andrew White at short backward leg to end a doughty innings of 36, before Ashraful followed suit for 1 in the very next over.

Ireland's commitment in the field was unstinting. Ed Joyce and White pulled off a direct-hit run-out apiece, the first to remove Junaid Siddique for 3 - a dismissal which undermined Bangladesh's early momentum following the loss of the opener Imrul Kayes to an expert leg-side stumping from Niall O'Brien - and the latter to extract Raqibul Hasan for 38, at precisely the moment he looked set to guide the tail to a comfortable 200-plus total. But the one telling shortcoming was the performance of their quickest bowler, Boyd Rankin. His nine overs went for 62 - the most expensive analysis of the day - including a poor final over that went for 11.

Bangladesh won the Big match w Ireland

Ireland’s opening World Cup game ended in a 27-run defeat to Bangladesh in Group B in Mirpur today. Asked to field first, Ireland produced a superb bowling display after Tamim Iqbal’s quickfire 44 as Andre Botha (three for 32) and 18-year-old spinner George Dockrell (two for 23) restricted the Tigers to a modest 205 all out.

In response, brothers Niall (38) and Kevin O’Brien (37) were the standout performers with the bat, but despite staying ahead of the run-rate, a steady fall of wickets ended their hopes.

Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan and Mohammad Ashraful initially led the Bangladesh attack, picking up two wickets apiece, but it was Shafiul Islam’s career-best figures of four for 21 that rocked the Irish lower half and clinched victory with five overs to spare.

Tamim and Imrul Kayes gave the crowd plenty to cheer about in the first powerplay as the total reached 50 in just 5.4 overs, but Ireland hit back with three quick wickets. Kayes (12) was stumped smartly by Niall O’Brien off John Mooney before Junaid Siddique was run out for three attempting a quick single.

Botha made it three down when he had the dangerous Tamim caught slashing to point for 44. Shakib struck three boundaries for his 16, but Botha nipped the skipper’s innings in the bud, catching him off his own bowling.

Raqibul Hasan (38) and Mushfiqur Rahim (36) lent stability to the innings with their patient approach, taking 109 deliveries to put on 61 for the fifth wicket. However, Ireland regained the initiative as Dockrell — who bowled one of the tightest spells of the tournament to date — removed Mushfiqur and newcomer Ashraful (one) in successive overs, while Andrew White’s quick fielding saw Raqibul run out.

The last three batsmen added a crucial 49 runs before being wrapped up by Botha and Trent Johnston, who ended with figures of two for 40.

In reply, Ireland lost both their openers — Paul Stirling (nine) and skipper William Porterfield (20) — by the 10th over and were left reeling at 75 for three when Ed Joyce (16) was tamely caught and bowled by Ashraful.

Niall O’Brien was soon joined in the middle by his younger brother Kevin when White (10) was bowled by Ashraful and Bangladesh kept the pressure going with Niall’s dismissal off a superb catch by Tamim.

Kevin kept things steady — notching up a useful 41-run stand with Botha — but was caught in the deep for 37 off Shaiful and three quick wickets then further deepened Ireland’s woes. Mooney (nought) was bowled by Naeem Islam and followed in similar fashion by Botha (22) off Shaiful, who also trapped Johnston lbw for six.

Fittingly, it was Shaiful who kicked off Bangladesh’s victory celebrations when he dismissed Boyd Rankin for three.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Strong earthquake hits New Zealand

About 300 people remain missing as search efforts in New Zealand continue in the aftermath of Tuesday's powerful earthquake in Christchurch.

At least 75 people are known to have died, with the death toll expected to rise significantly, officials say.

Meanwhile, hundreds of foreign rescue workers are arriving to join the search effort, amid warnings that time is running out for survivors.

The 6.3 magnitude quake is the country's biggest disaster in 80 years.

Authorities are working through the night to find survivors in an effort which has been hampered by aftershocks.Rescue work at one building, housing a TV network and a foreign language school, was called off as officials said there were no signs of life.

And the city's tallest hotel and surrounding area was cordoned off as rescue officials feared the hotel could fall on top of them.

The director of New Zealand's Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, John Hamilton, has said rescuers have only a window of two or three days to find people.

The World says to regime Gadhafi

Militiamen loyal to Moammar Gadhafi clamped down in Tripoli, but cracks in his spread elsewhere across the nation, as the protest-fueled rebellion controlling much of eastern Libya claimed new gains closer to the capital. Two pilots let their warplane crash in the desert, parachuting to safety, rather than bomb an opposition-held city.

The opposition said it had taken over Misrata, which would be the largest city in the western half in the country to fall into its hands. Clashes broke out over the past two days in the town of Sabratha, west of the capital, where the army and militiamen were trying to put down protesters who overwhelmed security headquarters and government buildings, a news website close to the government reported.

Two air force pilots jumped from parachutes from their Russian-made Sukhoi fighter jet and let it crash, rather than carry out orders to bomb opposition-held Benghazi, Libya's second largest city, the website Quryna reported, citing an unidentified officer in the air force control room.Residents were honking horns in celebration and raising the pre-Gadhafi flags of the Libyan monarchy, said Faraj al-Misrati, a local doctor. He said six people had been killed and 200 wounded in clashes that began Feb. 18 and eventually drove out pro-Gadhafi militiamen.

The Libyan Embassy in Austria also condemned the use of "excessive violence against peaceful demonstrators" and said in a statement Wednesday that it was representing the Libyan people.

International alarm has risen over the crisis, which sent oil prices soaring to the highest level in more than two years on Tuesday and sparked a scramble by European and other countries to get their citizens out of the North African nation. The U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting that ended with a statement condemning the crackdown, expressing "grave concern" and calling for an "immediate end to the violence" and steps to address the legitimate demands of the Libyan people.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy also pressed Wednesday for European Union sanctions against Libya's regime because of its violent crackdown on protesters, and raised the possibility of cutting all economic and business ties between the EU and the North African nation.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

This is the Best Burger in America

We don't usually name a Burger of the Year. But the Umami Burger from L.A. ain't no ordinary burger. Alan Richman breaks down the secrets of its addictive taste.

It's half beef and half beyond belief.

I arrived in Los Angeles not much taken with umami, at least not the way true believers are. Too much mysticism, not enough science. Nor did I care much for the L.A. burger culture, not like the locals. Too many toppings, not enough meat.

Then I tasted the Umami Burger, Adam Fleischman's cross-cultural merger of Japanese ingenuity and American know-how. And I thought to myself, This is a man among burger men, worthy of our adulation even if he's always wearing a T-shirt with an Umami Burger logo. (These days, even the greats can't resist self-promotion.)

Fleischman, the founder of the modest but ever expanding four-shop Umami Burger chain, has rethought every element of the hamburger experience. The bun. The meat. The ketchup. The toppings. Even valet parking. Yes, at the original Umami Burger joint on La Brea, 900 square feet of utter simplicity across the road from a Goodwill store, every burger comes with parking, the ultimate in West Coast customer service.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Paris Hilton Converts to Islam

Former American socialite, Paris Hilton has converted to Islam, her spokesman, Ian Brinkham, has revealed to CBS news. By embracing Islam, Paris Hilton decided to avoid her old life as a celebrity did a lot of unfocused life and full of sin.Paris Hilton also plans to change its name to “Tahirah” which means “pure or holy” in Arabic.

"She has been toying with the idea for quite a while now and when she was imprisoned at Century Regional Detention Facility in 2007, she encountered a few people who had already converted," Mr Brinkham said.

By converting to the Muslim faith, Paris Hilton has decided to shun her old life as a celebrity skank.Speaking from an Islamic study retreat in Jeddah, she said: "I have now found total peace in my life. Before, I used to be known as an STD-ridden streetwalker , a 'hoe' and a person of loose morals, but now, things have changed. Allah be praised."

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Egypt's historic moment spurs new hope in Arab world

From the halls of power across the Arab world came a stunned silence. In the living rooms of ordinary people watching history unfold live on television there was wonder, amazement and a renewed sense of hope and possibility.

And from Israel, which may also be profoundly affected by the fall from power of its closest Arab ally, came indications of a deep sense of unease.

If anyone had doubted the transformational potential of the revolt in tiny Tunisia that overthrew a ruler of marginal significance on Jan. 14, here was proof.

Just four weeks later, Hosni Mubarak, the president of Egypt, the region's elder statesman and the embodiment of Arab authoritarianism for a generation, had been force stop down under pressure from his own people, an event as momentous for the Arab world as it is for Egyptians.

Though the circumstances of Mubarak's departure and the assumption of power by the military raised troubling new questions, for most Arabs the details didn't matter. Egypt had rapidly followed Tunisia down the path of dissent and revolt, and the only question on everyone's minds was which of the Middle East's autocrats would be next in line.

In Beirut, Lebanese fired Kalashnikovs in the air and set off fireworks in celebration at the news, in the West Bank town of Ramallah, Palestinians honked their horns and cheered, and in Gaza, Hamas police officers distributed candies to citizens.

"A lot of other dictators were waiting to see if Mubarak goes or stays, and if he stayed it would have given them added strength to resist the demands of their people," said Jordanian political analyst Labib Kamhawi. "Now we will see accelerated demands for political reform and people will be more blunt in their demands."

"Egypt is the compass, the heart of the Arab world, the place where things start and end," he added. "So Arab regimes are very unhappy and feel that their moment is approaching."

Many regimes are already rushing to offer concessions to their citizens intended to appease unrest or deflect the threat of revolt. In Bahrain, home of the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet, the king on Friday announced gifts of $2,700 for every family, as opposition groups stepped up calls for a day of protest on Monday.

Syrian authorities this week lifted bans on Facebook and Twitter. Jordan's King Abdullah has replaced his cabinet in response to demonstrations there. Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh pledged last week not to seek reelection in 2013, but several hundred protesters took to the streets in southern Yemen on Friday to demand secession from the north.

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Friday, 11 February 2011

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Wednesday, 9 February 2011

ICC satisfied by pace of work at Eden

The ICC has given a cautious nod to Eden garden bid to host the remaining three world cup matches scheduled there, apart from the India-England game, saying that it is "encouraged" by the progress made towards completing the necessary construction work.

"We are pleased with the progress made since January 25, and if that pace of work is maintained, we believe that the stadium will be ready for the games scheduled in March," Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive said.

Eden Gardens is slated to host group-stage matches between South Africa and Ireland on March 15, Ireland and Netherlands on March 18, and Kenya and Zimbabwe on March 20.

The ICC had ruled out holding the February 27 match between Indian and England at Eden Gardens after an inspection on January 27 found several major works incomplete. That match was moved to Bangalore, and it was decided that a later inspection would be held to assess whether Eden Gardens could host the other three matches scheduled to be played there.

Monday, 7 February 2011

NBL recommends 95pc stock dividend

National Bank Limited has recommended 95 percent stock dividend for its shareholders for 2010.

NBL earned Tk 15.55 per share, a meeting of its board was told on Monday, according to DSE website.The net asset value per share of the bank for the year stood at Tk 43.30, while the net operating cash flow per share at Tk 12.77, it said. The record date for the dividend is Feb 23 and the bank will hold its annual general meeting at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre on Mar 15. There will be no circuit breaker for the NBL share price of Tuesday.

With the closing of Monday's trading at the Dhaka Stock Exchange, NBL shares registered 1.1 percent fall, which stand at Tk 168.1 per share.

Bangladesh ahead of the Caribbeans in ICC ODI ranking.

The Tigers' rich form twined with the recent ODI series defeat of West Indies in Sri Lanka have pushed Bangladesh ahead of the Caribbeans in International Cricket Council's ODI ranking.

Bangladesh have moved up to the eighth position, pushing West Indies one place below. This is Bangladesh's best position in ODI ranking so far.

Though rating of both Bangladesh and West Indies is the same – 66, Bangladesh gained lead in the ranking when total points of the two teams were considered.

From 32 matches, Bangladesh have 2121 points whereas West Indies have 1321 points from 20 matches. Australia top the table with 5617 points from 43 matches.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Strong earthquake shakes Asia also BD: 4 Feb

A strong earthquake with a magnitude of 6.4 jolted the country on Friday night, panicking many people in the capital as well.

The Met office in Dhaka said the tremor was felt in different parts of the country at 7:58pm.

Meteorologist Sadequl Alam told banglanews that they confirmed the magnitude as 6.4 after analyzing the seismic data and records received from all the four seismological centers in Dhaka, Sylhet, Chittagong and Rangpur.

Similar reports also poured into banglanews newsroom from Gaibandha, Bandarban, Rajshahi, Gazipur, Feni, Bhola and Rangpur. There were no reports of damage or casualty as yet.

According to US Geological Survey, an earthquake “measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale” originated in the India-Myanmar border region. The epicentre of the quake was 455 kilometres off Dhaka.

News agency AFP said the epicentre of the quake was 85 km off Imphal, the capital of northeastern Indian state of Monipur.

New Killer virus is Nipah attract in Bangladesh: IEDCR

The virus that killed 14 people at Hatibandha Upazila in Lalmonirhat in the last four days has been identified as Nipah.

Director of the Institute of Epidemiology Diseases Control and Research (IEDCR) Mahmudur Rahman told reporters on Friday afternoon that they have been able to identify the virus through tests.

The outbreak of the virus was first marked a week back in the area. A team of IEDCR started working to identify the cause on Wednesday following a number of deaths.

The director also said 22 cases of infections have been recorded so far and 14 of them have died. The death toll was also confirmed by Hatibandha Upazila Executive Officer (UNO) Mohammad Ashrafuzzaman.

However, locals claimed that at least 19 have died as of Friday, while Hatibandha Upazila Health Complex physician Bimol Kumar Roy put the number of infected people at 50.

The civil surgeon of Lalmonirhat said an expert team from Dhaka, along with local fieldworkers, was working to contain the outbreak.

Meanwhile, the IEDCR has advised against drinking unprocessed date extracts, as fruit bats, the natural host of the Nipah virus, could contaminate the juice.

According to World Health Organisation, Nipah virus causes severe illness characterised by inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) or respiratory diseases.

It can be transmitted to humans from animals, and can also be transmitted directly from human-to-human. In Bangladesh, half of the reported cases between 2001 and 2008 were due to human-to-human transmission, the WHO website says.

It also said there is no treatment or vaccine available for either people or animals.

The IEDCR director added that the virus has a 75% mortality rate.

BD to earn billion dollars from outsourcing

DHAKA: Information technology and telecommunications experts hoped in a seminar that Bangladesh would earn one billion US dollars by 2015 from the outsourcing of voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) with proper grooming of the fastest-growing economic sector.

“Mobile operators around the world are concentrating on their business distinctiveness. They are appointing specialized outsourcing firms for IT services, network management, customer care and billing department,” said Sukanta Dey, former president of TATA Telecom Services.

The seminar was organized by REVE Systems at Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) SoftExpo 2011 at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in the capital Thursday.

Addressing the seminar former president of BASIS Habibullah Karim said, “Bangladesh already ensured their place among 30 outsourcing destinations in the world.”

Moderating the seminar chief executive of REVE Systems M Rezaul Hasan said Bangladeshi entrepreneurs are leading in VoIP services industry.

Considering all this, outsourcing services can be taken for Bangladesh-based IT industry from the sectors around the world.

Managing Director of Agni Systems, an Internet Service Provider, Abdus Salam said Bangladesh has a huge potential in communications industries in the knowledge economy.

“But we need some changes in present rules and regulations to exploit the potentialities,” he said.

REVE Systems is connected with international market and a leading VoIP services and products provider. It has ISO certificate to provide services for telecom software, technology solution and telecommunications service providers around the world.

US Officials: US-Egypt discuss Mubarak quitting

The Obama administration is in talks with top Egyptian officials about the possible immediate resignation of Hosni Mubarak and the formation of an interim government that could prepare the country for free and fair elections later this year, U.S. officials said late Thursday.

Creation of a military-backed Caretaker Government in Egypt is one of several ideas being discussed as anti-Mubarak protests escalate in the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities, the officials said. Those protests are expected to grow in size and intensity on Friday and the administration fears they may erupt into more widespread violence unless the government takes tangible steps to address the protesters' main demand that Mubarak leave office.

The officials stressed the United States isn't seeking to impose a solution on Egypt but noted that the administration had made a judgment that Mubarak has to go soon if there is to be a peaceful resolution to the crisis. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive diplomatic talks, which are continuing. The talks about Mubarak's immediate departure were first reported by The New York Times.

White House and State Department spokesmen would not discuss details of the discussions U.S. officials are having with the Egyptians. Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman on Thursday, a day after a similar conversation between Suleiman and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Officials said neither Biden nor Clinton made a specific call for Mubarak to resign immediately but pressed for measures that would ease tensions on the streets and set the stage for democratic elections.

"The president has said that now is the time to begin a peaceful, orderly and meaningful transition, with credible, inclusive negotiations," said White House national security spokesman Tommy Vietor on Thursday night. "We have discussed with the Egyptians a variety of different ways to move that process forward, but all of those decisions must be made by the Egyptian people."

An administration official said there is no single plan being discussed with the Egyptians.

Rather, the administration is pursuing different ideas with Egyptian figures on how to proceed quickly with a process that includes a broad range of voices and leads to free and fair elections — in essence, different ways to accomplish those goals.

Among those options is a proposal for Mubarak to resign immediately — which the embattled president has refused to do — and for Mubarak to cede power to a transitional government run by Suleiman.

But the official rejected the notion that the White House was trying to impose that idea and said it was not at all clear it would happen. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

The discussions come amid escalating violence between pro- and anti-Mubarak forces.

The United States on Thursday severely criticized what it called systematic attacks on journalists in Egypt and said they appeared to be an attempt to shut out reporting of even bigger anti-government demonstrations to come.

Clinton condemned "in the strongest terms" the pro-government mobs that beat, threatened and intimidated reporters in Cairo.

Attacks as well on peaceful demonstrators, human rights activists, foreigners and diplomats were "unacceptable under any circumstances," she said.

Clinton pointed the finger at Mubarak's government without explicitly blaming the 82-year-old president for the violence. She said, "It is especially in times of crisis that governments must demonstrate their adherence to these universal values,"

Egypt's government must hold accountable those responsible for the attacks and "must demonstrate its willingness to ensure journalists' ability to report on these events to the people of Egypt and to the world," she said.

Foreign photographers reported attacks by Mubarak supporters near Tahrir Square, the scene of vicious battles between Mubarak supporters and protesters demanding he step down after nearly 30 years in power.

The Egyptian government has accused media outlets of being sympathetic to protesters who want Mubarak to quit now rather than complete his term as he has pledged.

Among the many detained were correspondents for The New York Times, Washington Post and Al-Jazeera. Human rights groups said many activists also were taken away after a raid by the military police on a legal center in Cairo.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

BASIS SoftExpo kicks off

The largest software and IT exhibition of Bangladesh has kicked off.

Finance Minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith inaugurated the five-day BASIS SoftExpo- 2011 on Tuesday at Banglabandhu International Conference Centre.

Organised by Bangladeshi software developers, the exhibition will remain open from 10 am to 8pm.

Muhith lamented the software firms' dependence on foreign experts. "This needs to be changed."

Muhith said the government was thinking about establishing a number of firms to help information technology flourish. But "the organisations need to maintain a 'working relationship' with the government," he added.

Commerce Minister Faruk Khan, state minister for ICT Yasef Osman, president of BASIS Mahbub Zaman and director of access to information project under pm's office Nazrul Islam Khan also spoke at the program.

120 organizations from home and abroad are participating in the event in seven different zones.

The five-day long exhibition includes 20 seminars, different technical sessions, notun protivar Khoj (search for new talents), IT job fair and IT innovation search program.

The entry fee has been fixed at 30 taka. But Student having ID card will enter free of charge

Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) receives WC trophy

The World Cup Cricket trophy has been handed over to Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) at 7pm in Mirpur Sher-e-Bangla Stadium by World Cup sponsor Honda.

BCB president, AHM Mustafa Kamal and others were present during the ceremony.

Earlier, the cup was kept at the Abahani ground until 6pm for photo session. From there it was taken to BCS Computer City at Agargaon followed by a ceremonial World Cup road show throughout the city.

The festive road show by Hero Honda was kicked off around 10:30am from Atlas Bangladesh Limited office at Tongi.

The cup arrived on a flight from India to the Shahjalal International Airport at 8:30am, Touhid Ahmed of the event management firm Eyestoppers told

This is for the fist time that Bangladesh has got the opportunity to host the world's top cricket event.

The opening ceremony of the cricket world cup will be held in Dhaka on Feb 17. Eight matches, including the first one on Feb 19, will also be held in Dhaka.

The cup will remain in Dhaka until the first match of the cricket extravaganza on Feb 19.

White House: Mubarak has chance to show who he is

The White House said Mubarak haschance to show the world "exactly who he is" by bringing desperately needed change to his country now.

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs also decried bloody violence happening in Cairo, where pro-government forces clashed with protesters a day after Mubarak announced he would not seek re-election in September. That wasn't good enough for the protesters, who want him out now.

"If any of the violence is instigated by the government it should stop immediately," Gibbs said, while declining to speculate whether the government was in fact behind the violence. Protesters contend plainclothes police are among the pro-government attackers.

`'The president found the images outrageous and deplorable," the press secretary said.

Gibbs said no decision had been made on cutting off the $1.5 billion in annual aid the U.S. provides Egypt but that it was still under review. Gibbs reiterated President Barack Obama's call from Tuesday night that transition in Egypt must begin now — but he didn't explain exactly what that meant or say whether Mubarak should resign now.

"Now means now," Gibbs said at the White House briefing.

"The people of Egypt need to see change, the people of Egypt need to see progress," he said.

Gibbs didn't directly answer when asked whether Obama viewed Mubarak as a dictator, saying the Egyptian president had a chance to show who he was. Mubarak has been an important ally to the U.S. during his 30-year reign, ensuring passage through the Suez Canal and maintaining peace with Israel, but for many Egyptian people they have been years of corrosive poverty, repression and corruption.

Gibbs avoided describing what a future government of Egypt might look like, or whether it was acceptable to the U.S. for Mubarak to preside over the transition to the next elections. Great uncertainty clouds the format of the transition and its ultimate outcome, but Gibbs would not say if one feared outcome — elevation of an Islamist fundamentalist regime — would be acceptable to the U.S.

Bangalore to stage India-England World Cup match

The ICC daid on 30 Jan' Monday that the India-England World Cup match on February 27 has been switched from Kolkata to Bangalore.

The high-profile game was taken away from Kolkata because of concerns about unfinished renovation work at the historic Eden Gardens stadium.

The ICC said in a statement that Bangalore had been confirmed as the venue.

In a letter to the India Board the ICC outlined a schedule of works that need to be carried out at Eden Gardens before the other scheduled fixtures at the ground.

The stadium is due to host SA v Ireland on March 15, Ireland v the Netherlands on March 18 and Zimbabwe v Kenya on March 20.

An ICC inspection team will visit Eden Gardens on February 7 to assess progress.

ICC chief said : "This decision now clarifies and gives us certainty over that fixture.

"We can now work with our various partners and stakeholders to make sure that the match -- along with the rest of the tournament -- is all it should be."

The ICC said it chose Bangalore for the February 27 match after it was recommended by the Board of Control for cricket in India (BCCI).

The world governing body had earlier rejected a plea by the Cricket Association of Bengal, which runs Eden Gardens, to reconsider its decision to remove the India-England match.

The ICC was concerned about work in the renovated stands of Eden Gardens, as well as corporate boxes, the media centre and the location of the radio commentary boxes.

The problems echoed similar trouble before the Delhi Commonwealth Games in October that were marred by severe delays in construction work and shoddy finishing.

Eden Gardens, one of India's most historic cricket venues, hosted the world cup final in 1987 and a semi-final in 1996.

Euro zone closer to new anti-crisis package

Germany and France have reached a consensus on steps to boost economic coordination within the euro zone as part of a comprehensive anti-crisis package that will also see the scope of Europe's bailout fund bolstered.

German officials said on Wednesday that Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy would present joint proposals to strengthen policy coordination in the 17-nation bloc at an EU summit in Brussels on Friday.

German Deputy Finance Minister Joerg Asmussen sent the strongest signal yet that Berlin was prepared to give new powers to the euro zone's rescue fund in exchange for fiscal discipline commitments by other euro members.

"We have always said that we would do all that is necessary to defend the stability of the euro zone as a whole," Asmussen told a conference in Frankfurt.

"That might include revising the scope and efficiency of the EFSF," he said, referring to the 440 billion euro ($609 billion) European Financial Stability Facility.

No final agreement on a new strategy for combating the euro zone's sovereign debt crisis is expected before a March 24-25 summit, but markets are already welcoming signs that European leaders are zeroing in on a deal to stem contagion from Greece and Ireland to vulnerable countries like Portugal and Spain.

Chaos in Cairo as Mubarak backers, opponents clash

CAIRO – Thousands of supporters and opponents of President Hosni Mubarak battled in Cairo's main square Wednesday, raining stones, bottles and firebombs on each other in scenes of uncontrolled violence as soldiers stood by without intervening. Government backers galloped in on horses and camels, only to be dragged to the ground and beaten bloody.

At the one of the fighting's front lines, next to the famed Egyptian Museum at the edge of Tahrir Square, pro-government rioters blanketed the rooftops of nearby buildings and dumped bricks and firebombs onto the crowd below — in the process setting a tree ablaze inside the museum grounds.

On the street, the two sides crouched behind abandoned trucks and pummeled each other with hurled chunks of concrete and bottles. Some among the more than 3,000 government supporters waved machetes as their anti-Mubarak rivals filled the air with a ringing battlefield din by banging metal fences with sticks.

The Health Ministry announced one dead — a soldier who fell off a nearby highway overpass — and more than 400 people injured. Bloodied young men staggered or were carried into makeshift clinics set up in mosques and alleyways by the anti-government side.

Protesters pleaded for protection from soldiers stationed at the square, who refused. Soldiers did nothing to stop the violence beyond firing an occasional shot in the air and no uniformed police were in sight. Some protesters wept and prayed in the square where around 10,000 had massed Wednesday morning and where only a day before they had held a joyous, peaceful rally of a quarter-million, the largest yet in more than a week of demonstrations demanding Mubarak leave power.

Protesters contended there were plainclothed police among their attackers, showing police ID badges they said were wrested off them. Others, they said, were paid by the regime to assault them — a tactic that security forces have used in the past.