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Obama establishes double digit lead over McCain

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and his wife Michelle embrace during a rally in Miami. (AP)
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and his wife Michelle embrace during a rally in Miami. (AP)

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama has established a double digit lead over his Republican rival John McCain just two weeks ahead of crucial elections, a just released poll says.
The ‘Wall Street Journal-NBC News’ poll found that 52 per cent voters favour Obama against 42 per cent who support McCain, showing a four per cent increase since the poll two weeks ago. The poll has a margin of error plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

The poll says that a growing number of voters said that they were comfortable with the Democrat’s values, background and ability to serve as commander-in-chief.

It’s the largest lead in the Journal/NBC poll so far, and represents a steady climb for Senator Obama since early September, when the political conventions concluded with the candidates in a statistical tie.

“Voters have reached a comfort level with Barack Obama,” said Peter D Hart, a Democratic pollster who conducts the poll with Republican Neil Newhouse.Though most voters polled said that McCain is better prepared for the White House than the first-term Obama, there are increasing concerns about the readiness of McCain’s running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the poll showed.

The race, the Journal said, has rested largely on the question of whether voters could get comfortable with Obama, the first African-American to run on a major party ticket, and one who has been on the national political scene for just a few years.

McCain has worked to stoke concerns about Obama’s past and his qualifications, raising questions about his rival’s character and his association with 1960s-era radical William Ayers. The new poll suggests that these attacks haven’t worked. The poll found that Obama now holds a 12-percentage-point advantage with independents, a group both sides have fiercely sought. Two weeks ago, Obama led this group by just four percentage points. In mid-September, independents favoured McCain by 13 points.

Obama leads suburban voters by 12 percentage points, up from two points two weeks ago. He leads among older voters, those over 65-years-old, by nine points, erasing a one-point McCain advantage from the last poll. And in the Midwest, home

to a swath of battleground states, he is now favoured by 25 points, up from a one-point advantage.

Some daily tracking polls, the journal said, have found a tighter race between McCain and Obama in recent days.

Real Clear Politics, a Web site that averages major polls, shows Obama up by 7.2 percentage points.

Others have found a larger spread, such as one released Tuesday by the Pew Research Centre for the People and the Press, a nonpartisan research group. That poll found a 14-point advantage for Obama among registered voters.

Many polls also show McCain lagging in key battleground states, which hold the electoral votes that could decide the race.

Obama, the paper said, has also eaten into traditional Republican advantages, notably on taxes, despite McCain’s attempts to make the issue a central economic theme of the campaign’s closing days.

In the mid-September Journal poll, McCain was favoured 41 per cent to 37 per cent when voters were asked which candidate would be “better on taxes.” This week’s poll found Obama leading on the issue by 48 per cent to 34 per cent.

That, the Journal says, may be partly due to Obama’s argument that McCain would raise taxes on health-insurance benefits. While McCain’s health plan does raise some taxes, the plan overall represents a net tax cut, the paper said, citing independent estimates.

October 22, 2008 Posted by | Elections, General, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chandrayaan-1 in earth’s orbit, sends signals

India’s first unmanned flight to the moon blasted off from Sriharikota, off the Andhra Pradesh coast, early morning on Wednesday and started to cruise around the earth in its designated orbit, minutes after a copybook liftoff.

Carrying over a billion hopes, India’s maiden lunar mission began its historic journey to the moon on Wednesday when an indigenously developed rocket placed the spacecraft into the Transfer Orbit “perfectly”.

A 44-metre-tall and 316-tonne rocket called the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV C11) carried the 1,380-kg lunar orbiter from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, , about 80 km north of Chennai, at exactly 0622 hrs IST.

After 18.2 minutes of the lift-off, ISRO’s warhorse rocket injected Chandrayaan-I into earth orbit.

The cuboid spacecraft built by the Indian Space Research Organisation – likely to be injected into Moon’s orbit on November 8 – has launched the country into the elite club that has sent missions to the moon.

Other members of the club are the US, former Soviet Union, European Space Agency, China and Japan. The US returns to lunar exploration aboard Chandrayaan-1, which is also carrying two NASA instruments in its payload.

The first four phases of the launch were 100 per cent perfect, said the scientists, and ground stations across the world – including the master control station in Bangalore – started getting signals from Chandrayaan.

Hectic activity is on at the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) at Peenya, Bangalore which will be the country’s nerve-centre for controlling Chandrayaan-I for the next two years.

The Deep Space Network (DSN) at Byalalu will join ISTRAC in tracking the spacecraft for the next six hours.

’It’s a historical moment’

Speaking minutes after the successful liftoff Chairman of the Indian Space Research Agency (ISRO) G Madhavan Nair described the moment as historic. “India has started its journey to the moon. The first leg has gone perfectly. the spacecraft has been launched into orbit,” he said.

Nair pointed out that the launch had gone off perfectly despite heavy rain in and around the spaceport for the last four days. “We’ve been fighting the odds for the last four days,” he said.

But the weather gods relented by Tuesday evening and there no rain when the launch took place in a cloudy morning sky.

Chandrayaan-1 started to orbit the earth on its geostationary transfer orbit (GTO), from which its onboard liquid apogee motor (LAM) will be fired in a series of complex manoeuvres to take it to the lunar orbit – 387,000 km from earth – on Nov 8.

It was a dream come true for about 1,000 space scientists and technologists when PSLV-C11, with the spacecraft atop, blasted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre of the state-run ISRO.

Within minutes of the 44.4-metre rocket roaring aloft, leaving behind an inferno in the underground inlets of the second launch pad, the mission control centre of the space station erupted with joy and excitement.

Top scientists, led by Nair, space centre director M C Dathan, associate director M Y S Prasad and others shook hands and hugged one another even as the high-security facility reverberated with clapping of hands and cheers.

Former ISRO chairmen U.R. Rao and K. Kasturirangan and space commission member Roddam Narasimaiah, who were present on the occasion, congratulated Nair and his team.

October 22, 2008 Posted by | General, Science, Technology | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment