rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 

US school shooting: At least 20 killed

Write a comment

December 14, 2012


23:31  US school shooting: At least 20 killed:   Many people, including children, are reported to have died in a shooting attack at a primary school in the US state of Connecticut, US media says.

Citing local and state officials, ABC News said at least 12 people had been killed at Sandy Hook School in Newtown.Other reports put the number of dead at three, with the gunman deaths at three, with at least three people in hospital.

Two weapons have reportedly been recovered, and the state governor is on his way to the scene.Schools across the district are on lock-down as a preventive measure, officials say.

Read full report here
22:53  Patriot missiles a warning to Syria's al-Assad:  The United States and Germany are sending Patriot missiles and troops to the Turkish border, a warning to Syria's besieged President Bashar al-Assad.

The surface-to-air interceptors would be "dealing with threats that come out of Syria," said U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Threats would include Syrian strikes inside Turkey and fighting between the government and rebels that extends into Turkey.

Errant Syrian artillery shells struck the Turkish border town of Akcakale and killed five Turkish civilians in October.

Read full report here
21:31  UN sounds alarm on unsecured uranium waste in Tajikistan:  The United Nations warned today that nearly 55 million tonnes of radioactive waste from old Soviet-era uranian mines remain in unsecured sites in northern Tajikistan. The former Soviet republic, where Stalin's empire once mined uranium to create its first nuclear bomb, is still stuck with about 54.8 million tonnes of unsecured waste from the now mainly abandoned mines, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) said. 

The waste is "not treated, not confined, not secured," agency spokesman Jean Rodriguez told reporters in Geneva. In its second environmental performance report for the country, the UN agency lamented the lack of progress made to clean up the radioactive waste, which it said appeared to remain at the same level as in 1990.
21:28  Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman resigns:  Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has announced he is resigning a day after an indictment for breach of trust was filed against him by the country's attorney general.

Lieberman's decision could throw the Israeli political system into upheaval a month ahead of elections.

Israel's attorney general indicted Lieberman yesterday for alleged breach of trust, but decided not to file a number of more serious charges in a fraud and money-laundering case.
20:30  Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman resigns:  Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has resigned after being charged with breach of trust following a long-running investigation, reports BBC

Lieberman has also resigned as deputy prime minister, and said he would fight to clear his name of the charges.

The case against him relates to a financial scandal dating back more than a decade.
20:21  Uma meets Sadhvi Pragya in jail:  Senior BJP leader and former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Uma Bharti today met Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, the main accused in the Malegaon blast case, at the Central Jail here.

"The Maharashtra ATS tortured her and she has not been able to recover from it. She has problem walking on her own. There are apprehensions that she may be suffering from cancer," Bharti told reporters after meeting her in the jail. Bharti said that she was praying that ultimately her innocence would be proved in the court.
19:52  India's growing importance in Indian Ocean:  India is fast emerging as the regional power that polices the Indian Ocean, writes Ajai Shukla on his blog.

Read the full blog here
19:48  Ravi Shankar's sitar gently weeps:  One of the fullest, freest and most feted Indian lives of the last century came to an end Dec. 11, when Pandit Ravi Shankar passed away at the age of 92 in San Diego, writes Chandrahas Choudhury on Bloomberg.

Read the full story here
19:44  Sonia's new weapon against Modi: Speaks in Gujarati:  Sonia Gandhi and Narendra Modi locked horns today after the Congress President charged that Central funds were misused by the Gujarat government and the chief minister was "inciting" people by raising concerns over border security through the Sir Creek issue.    

In an attempt to connect with the voters, Gandhi also spoke briefly in Gujarati making an appeal to them to return the Congress candidates with huge margins.
19:42  Kate hoax call: Memorial held for nurse at UK hospital:  A private memorial service was held for Indian-origin nurse Jacintha Saldanha at the King Edward the VII hospital this morning, reports BBC.
19:35  Kate hoax call: Memorial held for nurse at UK hospital:  A private memorial service was held for Indian-origin nurse Jacintha Saldanha at the King Edward the VII hospital this morning, reports BBC.
19:32  I bring a message of peace: Rehman Malik in Delhi:   Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik addressed the media outside Delhi's Palam Technical Airport minutes after his arrival. Here is what he said:

I bring the message of peace and love on behalf of everyone in Pakistan. I am happy that the situation isn't like it was five years ago.

New visa policy will boost Indo-Pakistan ties.

Pakistan has always condemned terrorism and is a victim of terrorism. We have lost 40,000 innocents to terrorism.

On Hafiz Saeed: Will act against Hafiz Saeed if there is proof. Saeed has been arrested thrice, Pakistan courts released him. Kasab's statements are not enough to act against Saeed.

On Kargil martyr Saurabh Kalia: We haven't probed Captain Kalia's death yet. Will be happy to meet his father. We don't want these things repeated, we want peace, that is why I am here.



19:31  PMO reviews preparedness for Direct Cash Transfer Scheme:  Following the directions of the national committee on direct cash transfers chaired by the Prime Minister on November 26, the executive committee held a meeting for follow-up action.

The executive committee, chaired by the principal secretary in the PMO, discussed in detail the core objective of how direct cash transfers of benefits in the identified 34 schemes in the selected 43 districts (excluding, till the end of the election process, 8 districts in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat), will be implemented as per the timelines finalized earlier by the National Committee.

Read the full report here
18:50  Kate hoax call: Nurses body flown to India, funeral on Sunday:   The body of an Indian-origin nurse, who died after being duped by a prank call to a United Kingdom hospital treating a pregnant Princess Kate, was on Friday flown to India, official sources said, amid reports that the mum-of-two had criticised her senior colleagues in one of the three emotional suicide notes she left behind.

Forty-six-year-old Jacintha Saldanha's body was transported by a Jet Airways flight to Mumbai, where it will reach at 00:30 am on Saturday, the sources said.

It will be flown to Mangalore on Sunday for funeral to be held at Surve near Udipi, they said.
18:28  Pak Interior Minister Rehman Malik arrives in Delhi:  Rehman Malik, Pakistan's Interior Minister, arrived in Delhi nearly four hours behind schedule because there was complete confusion over where his plane should land.

Malik's office was  reportedly told by Indian officials in Islamabad that he could land at the Delhi's Palam Technical Airport, often used by VIPs, reports NDTV.

However, the Indian Air Force, which controls the airport, did not clear the plane's arrival. While some sources said the Air Force had not been informed of Rehman's arrival, others said that permission to land at Palam was denied because the handling and clearing agent assigned to deal with the Pakistani delegation was not cleared for the high-security area.

Read full report here
18:14  2 die of cold in Jammu, snow in the hills:  Two persons died due to extreme cold as hilly areas of the north received heavy snowfall today making temperatures plummet by several notches. The maximum temperature in capital Delhi was recorded at 22.8 degrees celsius and the minimum was 13.2 degrees celsius, five notches above the normal. 

A sadhu and a beggar died in Jammu city due to cold, the police said. Most parts of the Kashmir Valley, including Srinagar, today received fresh snowfall, leading to closure of the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway.
18:12  West Indies to get new Twenty20 league:  The West Indies Cricket Board will launch a new franchise-based Twenty20 league next year in the Caribbean, filling the hole left by the collapse of Allen Stanford's tournament. 

The Stanford 20/20, held in 2006 and 2008, kickstarted Caribbean interest in the shortest form of the game but since the collapse of the Texan's financial empire, leading to his imprisonment for fraud, there has been a lack of resources for players. 

The West Indies were crowned Twenty20 world champions this year and the WICB has run a lower-key regional tournament to keep top players involved in the shortest format, but the new league promises to give Caribbean cricket a much needed financial boost too. 
18:06  Bengal will lead India from Delhi: Mamata:  Visualising a larger role for the Trinamool Congress in government formation after the 2014 general elections, party supremo Mamata Banerjee today expressed confidence that her party would be a key player. 

"Bengal will lead India from Delhi," Banerjee told a meet of captains of industry in Kolkata, a party MP who was present quoted her as saying. 

"If Bengal is running Bengal today then Bengal can run India tomorrow," the West Bengal chief minister told the meet.
18:04  Plotters of 26/11 strike should be handed over: BJP:  BJP today welcomed Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik's visit to India but emphasised that he should ensure that the masterminds of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, who are living in his country, are handed over if ties between the two nations are to improve further.        

"Malik is welcome to India. But the people in India are sad that though Ajmal Kasab was hanged, the real masterminds of the Mumbai terror attack are moving about freely in Pakistan," BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain told reporters.

Malik, who arrived  on a three-day official visit to India today, will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde to discuss bilateral issues.
18:02  Inflation dips to 10-month low of 7.24 per cent:  Inflation dropped to a 10-month low of 7.24 per cent, prompting the government to exude optimism, with Finance Minister P Chidambaram saying it could decline further in the coming months.        

The declining trend might trigger an interest rate cut by the RBI to boost economic growth, which fell to 5.4 per cent in the first half of the current fiscal, from 7.3 per cent a year ago.        

The decline in inflation during November from 7.45 percent a month ago and 9.46 per cent in the corresponding months a year ago can be attributed to falling prices of certain vegetables.
17:49  Kanpur: Train runs over youth, triggers mob fury:  A student died today after coming under the wheels of a train at Kalyanpur station in Kanpur, triggering an irate mob to go on a rampage, causing damage to railway property.        

Pavan Kumar, 23, a B Ed student at a private college, was run over when he slipped while trying to board a train bound for Farrukhabad, police sources said.        

When news of the incident spread, ugly scenes unfolded at the railway station, where an angry crowd went berserk and began damaging the property. 
17:47  RBI unlikely to cut rates next week: Experts:  The Reserve Bank is likely to keep policy rates unchanged in its monetary policy review next week, although inflation for the second consecutive month in November has declined, experts have said.     

They also said that a CRR cut of 0.25 per cent is likely.     

17:35  Defence ministry claims ownership of Adarsh land:  The defence ministry has filed a suit in the Bombay high court claiming ownership of the land on which the scam-hit Adarsh Housing Society building stands.
17:31  Inventor of bar code dies at 91 :  The inventor of the bar code, that originated six decades ago and revolutionised product labelling, has died at the age of 91.        

The product originated on a beach when a mechanical-engineer-in-training named Norman Joseph Woodland, with a transformative stroke of his fingers, yielding a set of literal lines in the sand, conceived the modern bar code.       

Woodland died on Sunday after suffering from the effect of Alzheimer's disease and complications of his advanced age in his home in Edgewater, New Jersey, the New York Times reported.
17:29  Malik's India visit a good beginning: Farooq:  Union Minister Farooq Abdullah today termed as 'good beginning' the India visit of Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik and expressed hope that a liberalised visa regulation would help increase business between the two nations.        

"I think it is a good beginning. Let's hope that visa regulations become better, people are able to easily come and go and business is increased between the two countries,"Abdullah said when asked how he sees the visit of the Pakistani minister to New Delhi.
17:28  Sensex snaps 5-day fall, gains 88 pts:  The BSE benchmark today snapped a five-day losing streak by closing 88 points higher, as hopes of a rate cut by RBI as early as January 2013 got a boost, with headline inflation declining to 7.24 per cent in November.        

After losing 258 points in past five sessions, the Sensex bounced back from two-week lows today to end at 19,317.25, registering a gain of 87.99 points or 0.46 per cent.        

After remaining listless in early trade, the 30-share index assumed direction after data showed inflation declined to 7.24 per cent in November from 7.45 per cent in October.
17:09  Sensex snaps 5-day fall, gains 88 pts:  The BSE benchmark today snapped a five-day losing streak by closing 88 points higher, as hopes of a rate cut by RBI as early as January 2013 got a boost, with headline inflation declining to 7.24 per cent in November.        

After losing 258 points in past five sessions, the Sensex bounced back from two-week lows today to end at 19,317.25, registering a gain of 87.99 points or 0.46 per cent.        

After remaining listless in early trade, the 30-share index assumed direction after data showed inflation declined to 7.24 per cent in November from 7.45 per cent in October.
17:07  Economy to grow at 5 pc this fiscal: Rangarajan :  The economy is expected to grow at 5.5-6 per cent in the current fiscal and the next year will see a better rate of expansion, Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council Chairman C Rangarajan said today.        

"I think the overall growth rate of the economy will be between 5.5-6 per cent," he said on the sidelines of the Delhi Economics Conclave.        

Growth in the first half of 2012-13 has fallen to 5.4 percent, from 7.3 per cent in the same period last fiscal. 

For the entire 2011-12 fiscal, the growth had declined to 9-year low of 6.5 per cent. The Reserve Bank, meanwhile, expects it to be 5.8 per cent in the current fiscal.
17:07  Maharashtra to recruit 63,000 policemen in 5 years:  Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil today assured the assembly that the state government was committed to strengthening the police force and said about 63,000 policemen would be recruited in the next five years. 

Replying to a question from Sanjay Raimulkar (Shiv Sena) and others on the police raid on Caramel Lounge of a beer bar in Sadar area of Nagpur city on August 19 this year, Patil said there was shortage of police personnel and the state government was making efforts to fill up the vacancies. He said the government had recruited about 55,000 policemen in the past and five new police stations have been proposed for Nagpur.
17:05  Falling inflation pushes Sensex up after five days of fall:  The BSE benchmark today snapped a five-day losing streak by closing 88 points higher as hopes of a rate cut by RBI as early as January 2013 got a boost with headline inflation declining to 7.24 per cent in November. 

After losing 258 points in past five sessions, the Sensex bounced back from two-week lows today to end at 19,317.25, registering a gain of 87.99 points or 0.46 per cent.
17:03  Ashok Mitra writes in the Telegraph, Calcutta, why the FDI war is not yet over in New Delhi, here. And The Hindu reports here that the Congress in Andhra Pradesh is in a fix over its convention on December 16.
16:59  So you've read Urvish Kothari's article on rediff.com, on Narendra Modi's six desperate campaign strategies. Now read Prasenjit Bhattacharya's piece in the IndiaRealtime blog on the five things to watch in Gujarat's elections, here.
16:54  Hugh Jackman gets star on Hollywood Walk of Fame:  Hugh Jackman has been honoured with the 2487th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 

Still on a high from his Golden Globe nomination for Les Miserables, the Australian actor joins the illustrious company of entertainment greats. 

Jackman was joined by his wife and his i co-stars Anne Hathaway and Amanda Seyfried at the ceremony, the Daily Telegraph reported. 

"I'll probably always remember Thursday, December 13 and I think I'm either going straight from here to buy a lottery ticket or to a casino because it just feels like someone is looking down on me in a very nice way at this moment,' he told E! News.
16:45  Sebi's new markets rule to come into force in one month:   The Securities and Exchange Board of India, India's capital markets regulator, has set new rules -- such as limiting order sizes -- to check stock market volatility and avoid a "flash crash" such as one which halted trading two months ago, reports Raghavendra Upadhyaya in the Wall Street Journal.  

Sebi, he writes, has asked stock exchanges to put in place some initial rules in one month's time, and to inform market participants a week before their implementation. 

'These measures will be implemented in phases in order to ensure that the exchanges can tweak their technology while maintaining adequate controls,' the report says.
16:44  Daughter accuses Ekta Kapoor of abusing a senior citizen:   Anisha Sharma has posted on her Facebook page that TV and film producer Ekta Kapoor abused her senior citizen father while in a bank.

According to her FB post, this is what happened:

A woman at the bank just called my father an 'old fool' and told him to 'f*** off', because he was in her way. This was Ekta Kapoor. She was blocking his way and he said, "excuse me".She turned around and said he was an old idiot who couldn't see, flipped him off and left. 

Her bodyguards tried to escort my father away, saying "bahut gussewaali hai." My father did nothing to provoke her, he merely asked her to move so he could exit. As she drove off,she continued giving him the finger.She made a scene, screaming at a senior citizen and got away with it, because she's supposedly 'known' for it. No one did a thing. 

My father is home,completely shaken and on the verge of tears. He has never been spoken to like this.

Thank you, Ms. Kapoor. Keeping it classy, she concluded.
16:34  @sanjaymanjrekar tweets: Great delivery to Tendulkar. An in form Tendulkar would have been forward to that or right back. Stayed on crease.
16:28  Aamir's Talaash crosses Rs 100 mark:  Aamir Khan starrer, the supernatural thriller Talaash, has grossed over Rs 100 crore in the domestic and overseas market, the films producers have claimed. 

The film released on November 30 and in the following two weeks it has collected Rs 85.38 crores in the domestic market and grossed Rs 46.40 crore overseas. 

The Reema Kagti directorial, made on a budget of Rs 40 crores, has become the fastest to reach Rs 100 crore by touching the mark in 10 days (overseas including), said a release from the film's makers.
16:26  No action against police officials in ISRO case: Chandy:  The Kerala government today said it would not take disciplinary action against the three police officers who initiated the ISRO spy case. 

"The state government has decided not to take disciplinary action against the three police officials who initiated the ISRO spy case," Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said in a written reply in the assembly today. 

The case pertaining to alleged transfer of secret documents on India's space programme to foreign countries by two scientists and four others, including two Maldivian women, was first investigated by a Special Investigation Team. It was later handed over to CBI, which found no espionage as alleged had taken place.
16:20  Cricket statistician Rajneesh Gupta tweets: Since the England tour in 2011 Sachin Tendulakr has been dismissed BOWLED or LBW 15 times out of his 30 innings!
16:20  US: Indian convicted of groping woman during flight:  

For a third time, an Indian software consultant has been convicted by a US court of groping a woman while they were seated next to each other aboard an airplane.        

 

Srinivasa S Erramilli, 45, remains free on bond pending sentencing, which has been set for April 26, 2013, by US District Judge Joan H Lefkow at a Chicago court.        

 

Erramilli, on a work visa in the US, faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine.   Incidentally he was convicted twice previously for nearly identical crimes.        

 

Evidence at the trial showed that Erramilli was the last passenger to board a Southwest Airlines flight to Chicago's Midway Airport on June 14, 2011, and was seated in the only open seat available between the victim, who had chosen a window seat to sleep during the flight, and her husband, who had chosen an aisle seat to enable easier access during the flight.

16:19  Indian capitulation against England sets off online ire:  There's been tremendous anguish and ire on the social media over India's tame batting display against England in Nagpur.

Like this one: Abhi '@abhi_bolmediocre batsman like Gambhir escapes non performance cos all the spotlight is on Sachin.

And many below.
16:17  Harsha Bhogle tweets: When you have seen and known tendulkar as much i have, the pain within only grows.....
16:16  Andy Zaltzman tweets: Since World Cup win, Gambhir, Sehwag, Tendulkar and Dhoni have collectively scored 2 centuries in 118 Test innings, all averaging 28-32.
16:14  @diogeneb tweets: So Ekta Kapoor isn't the only person to misbehave with an old man today. James Anderson is guilty as well.

Caustic!

16:08  Tokyo first, Mumbai last in cleanest cities' survey:  India's commercial capital, Mumbai, has been named among the world's 'dirtiest' cities, ranking last in the "cleanest streets" category, a global survey of 40 key tourist cities has found. 

According to TripAdvisor's Cities Survey, Tokyo grabbed the first place while Mumbai ranked last in the list of "cleanest streets". 

Similarly in the category of "ease of getting around", Mumbai ranked at the last position while Zurich stood at first place, the company said in a press release. 

16:03  Italian marines on bail want to go home for Xmas:  The two Italian marines, now on bail in the case relating to the killing of two Indian fishermen off Kerala coast on February 15 this year, today filed a petition in the high court seeking relaxation of bail conditions to enable them visit their homes in Italy for Christmas. 

The marines said their families have arranged special mass and prayers and they want to participate in the religious ceremony of Christmas in the last two weeks of this month. 

 The petitioners -- Latore Massimilliano and Salvatore Girone -- also undertook to return to India within two weeks from the day of departure. The two also filed separate sworn affidavits in this regard.
16:00  Woeful lag in India's Net, broadband subscriber base:  There were 22.86 million Internet subscribers in India at the end of March 2012-- way below the target that was set for 2010 -- on account of multiple factors that have prevented its spread, Parliament was informed today. 

The number of Internet subscribers as reported by Internet Service Providers for the last three years was 16.18 million (2009-10), 19.67 million (2010-11) and 22.86 million (2011-12), Minister for Communications and IT Kapil Sibal said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha. 

 The government had set the target of achieving 6 million, 18 million and 40 million Internet users for the years 2005, 2007 and 2010 respectively, under the Broadband Policy 2004, the minister said.
15:56  Meghalaya Lokayukta Bill passed:  

The Meghalaya Lokayukta Bill, 2012 was today passed in the assembly, repealing an act passed ten years ago, amidst opposition from legislators.        

 

The new act covered the chief minister, governor and all public servants, but allowed the state government through a clause to exclude complaints by citing public interest.        

 

Stating that the short timing of the session would not allow a threadbare discussion on the act and its contents, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma proposed that it be passed since sub-rules (c) of Rule 72 of the Rules of procedures and conduct of business was suspended, which allowed him to move a motion to pass the bill.

15:54  Meghalaya okays Lokayukta, CM comes under it:  The Meghalaya Lokayukta Bill, 2012 was today passed in the assembly, repealing an act passed ten years ago, amidst opposition from legislators. 

The new act covered the chief minister, governor and all public servants, but allowed the state government through a clause to exclude complaints by citing public interest. 

 Stating that the short timing of the session would not allow a threadbare discussion on the act and its contents, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma proposed that it be passed since sub-rules (c) of Rule 72 of the rules of procedures and conduct of business was suspended, which allowed him to move a motion to pass the Bill. 

 "The House is left with either to pass or reject or to refer it to a select committee at this stage," Sangma said.
15:48  Modi asks Congress: Why are you afraid to lose?:  ANI tweets: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, campaigning in Anand, asked the Congress: Why are you (Congress) so scared of losing, your world wont end if you lose!
15:39  Pop-star Rihanna, whose relationship with Chris Brown is the matter of immense speculation by the tabloids, tweeted this a while ago: Never underestimate a man's ability to make you feel guilty for his mistakes.

If you can figure it out, do let us know!
15:30  Higher growth in next financial year: Chidambaram:  

The country can look forward to a higher growth in next financial year, Finance Minister P Chidambaram has said in the Lok Sabha.  

 

Bitter medicine taken this year will be good for the economy, Chidambaram added.

15:19  A solution for curbing India's political corruption:  Tackling political corruption at its root must involve amending antiquated, and often absurd campaign finance laws, and forging an alternate source of electoral funding that is paid for by the taxpayer, writes Rakesh Mani in the Wall Street Journal's India RealTime blog.   

He goes to quote from the essay 'Funding Democracy' by Keerthik Sasidharan showing that electoral reforms typically arise following corruption scandals, mounting campaign costs and a lack of equal access to participate in the political process. 

What is Sasidharan's solution? To collect 1,000 rupees from each of India's 40 million-odd taxpayers and launching a ring-fenced electoral fund. At their discretion, citizens could allocate an additional maximum of 5,000 rupees to a favored candidate. Under this system, the fund will slowly swell. Candidates can either opt for this public financing or forego it altogether, with their choice signaling who they may be more beholden to, he says. 

Of course, this approach ignores a key reality -- changing the rules of the game so radically is unlikely to gather much support in the legislature, since it goes against the short-term interests of all major political parties, concludes Mani, here.
15:08  Around 1.06 lakh persons 'missing' after war in Lanka:  

Author of a book on the internal conflict in Sri Lanka involving its armed forces and rebel LTTE today said around 1.06 lakh persons were missing in LTTE-controlled areas after the war and the Sri Lankan government should explain this.        

 

Having worked as a BBC correspondent in Sri Lanka from 2000 to 2004, Frances Harrison said she had accessed World Bank population data in this regard to substantiate her claim.        

 

"The number may not include (LTTE) detainees or those who had left the country but the government has to explain (the dip in the population in Tamil-dominated areas)", she told reporters in Chennai today.        

 

Harrison said she had accessed the World Bank data on population of Mullaitheevu, Kilinochi, Vavuniya and Mannaar in the island nation, which she said, revealed that 1.06 lakh persons were "missing" after the war.        

 

Author of the book "Still Counting the Dead," which is set to be released in Tamil soon, said it was based on tales of survivors including a former rebel, a nurse, a nun and a teacher, among others.

14:55  Inzamam, psychologist to assist Pak XI in India:  The Pakistan Cricket Board brought in former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq and a psychologist for its team as they start a weeklong training camp on Friday for their limited overs series against India. 

India and Pakistan play two Twenty20s and three one-day internationals in their first series in five years, which starts later this month. After the training camp in Lahore Pakistan fly to India on December 22, commencing the tour with a Twenty20 in Bangalore three days later. 

The second Twenty20 will be played in Ahmedabad on December 27 followed by three one-day matches in Chennai on December 30, Kolkata on January 3 and New Delhi on January 6.
14:53  Pak sends fresh letter to Interpol for Musharraf's arrest:  

Pakistan has sent a second letter to Interpol asking it to arrest former President Pervez Musharraf, who had been declared a fugitive by an anti-terrorism court for failing to cooperate with investigators probing the 2007 assassination of Benazir Bhutto.        

 

The Federal Investigation Agency, which is probing the assassination, attached arrest warrants for Musharraf and some pieces of evidence to the letter, which was sent to Interpol yesterday.        

 

The Interpol office in France had earlier returned a similar request by the FIA as no evidence against Musharraf had been provided. The evidence sent with the letter yesterday includes a statement by US Journalist Mark Siegel and records of emails sent by Musharraf to former premier Bhutto, the website of The Express Tribune reported.        

 

FIA Special Prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali confirmed that the letter had been despatched.

14:36  Fall in life insurance forces govt to think up solutions:  The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority has said the life insurance industry witnessed an 8.22 per cent decline in the number of new policies issued during the financial year 2011-12 as against the policies issued in the previous financial year. 

This was stated by the minister of state for finance, Namo Narain Meena, in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha today. 

In terms of premium income generated through sale of new policies, the decline during the financial year 2011-12 was 14.01 pc. The decline in the number of policies sold could be attributed to IRDA's new regulations on the design of ULIP products in the interests of policyholders' welfare and general market conditions prevailing in the country. 

The government has reviewed the performance of life insurance industry with the insurance companies and the regulator. In order to give a boost to the life insurance industry, certain measures have been identified for action which include taxation benefits and regulatory issues relating to product design, distribution and investment.
14:18  Killer planned to castrate teen singing sensation too:  An obsessed killer, who allegedly plotted to kidnap Justin Bieber and strangle him, put a 2,500-dollar bounty on each of the singer's testicles, as he wanted to castrate the teen popstar, it has been revealed. 

Jailed Dana Martin, who sports a Bieber tattoo on his leg, is accused of arranging for two other men to abduct and murder the singer, his bodyguard and two more unrelated victims, the Sun reported. 

According to court papers, he recruited Mark Staake to execute his plan after becoming convinced Bieber had snubbed his efforts to contact him. Staake's nephew Tanner Ruane was later drafted in on the plot. Having declared the bounty on the 18-year-old's private parts, Martin then ordered his accomplices to strangle the 'Baby' hitmaker with a paisley tie. 

The gang was allegedly poised to strike as Bieber played sold-out concerts at New York's Madison Square Garden on November 28 and 29. But the star was spared after Martin told jail wardens about the plot. 

Staake, 41, was arrested on November 19 on an unrelated outstanding warrant while driving with 23-year-old Ruane. 
14:06  Indian High Commissioner meets Rehman Malik:  

  Indian High Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal today met Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik ahead of his visit to New Delhi for the operationalistaion of a new visa agreement.        

 

Malik and the Indian envoy discussed "bilateral relations and matters of mutual interest", Pakistani officials said. They also discussed the new visa pact.         Sabharwal provided Malik the schedule for his visit to India, the officials said.        

 

Malik is scheduled to leave for Delhi at 2 pm. Indian officials described the meeting as a "courtesy call" by the envoy.

14:00  New Delhi's Nehru Place among top IT piracy hubs:  New Delhi's famous Nehru Place market has been placed among the top 30 notorious IT markets of the world that deal in goods and services infringing on intellectual property rights, an official US report has said. 

"Nehru Place is reportedly one of the many markets in major cities throughout India that are known for dealing in large volumes of pirated software, pirated optical media containing movies and music, and counterfeit goods," said the report released by the US Trade Representatives. 

Among other internet and physical markets that exemplify marketplaces that deal in infringing goods and services, facilitating and sustaining global piracy and counterfeiting include Urdu Bazaars in Karachi and Lahore.
13:55  22 school children injured in knife attack in China:  

The dreaded attacks on school children returned to haunt China again as 22 primary students and a villager were injured today in a knife attack at the gate of a school in China's central Henan Province.        

 

Local police said they have arrested the suspect, identified as 36-year-old Min Yingjun, according to state-run Xinhua news agency. The attack happened at around 7:40 am at the entrance of Chenpeng Village Primary School in Wenshu Township of Guangshan County in the city of Xinyang, a police officer said.        

 

This is a major attacks on school children in China in recent years.

13:50  Britain's AAA rating under risk, S&P puts it on negative watch:  Britain's coveted triple AAA credit rating has come under much pressure after an influential credit ratings agency put it on negative watch, according to a report. 

Standard & Poor's said there was a one in three chance it could lower Britain's rating within the next two years, if economic conditions weaken in the UK. It said it expected government debt as a percentage of gross domestic product to continue to rise in 2015, before declining again, with future employment or growth shocks putting further pressure on government finances, the Daily Mail reports. 

According to the paper, S&P was the last of the three major credit rating agencies to maintain a stable outlook for Britain, and the move comes just over a week after Chancellor George Osborne said he would no longer be able to cut Britain's net debt by 2015.
13:45  Shah Rukh Khan tweets:Now onward to Malaysia for a few hrs...my friend the respected Dr. Mahathir's birthday...then bak to shoot. Pvt plane pvt thoughts...
13:38  Pandit Ravi Shankar and the concert for Sandy relief:  David Hajdu writes in the New Republic on how Pandit Ravi Shankar paved the way for the Concert Sandy relief, which was held at Madison Square Garden a day after the sitar maestro's death.

'It is just a coincidence that the Concert for Sandy Relief, the gargantuan spawn of the Concert for Bangladesh, was staged the day after Shankar's death. The cause was worthy, even if other causes could also benefit from the mobilization of so much talent. There is no reason to doubt the good intentions of any of the stars whose played,' he writes here

But, the event's failing, he notes, as obvious and inexplicable: its fixation on old white men, many of them from England. There was something unsettling in the message -- inadvertent, no doubt, but real nonetheless'"that, in the face of crisis, relief should come from old, white men.
13:21  NASA makes it early: No end of world on Dec 21:   NASA is so sure that the world is not coming to an end next week that they have already released a video for the day after.

NASA scientists have no doubt the world will still be in one piece next week, beyond the Mayan-predicted demise on December 21. They have already released a video, called 'The World Didn''t End Yesterday', which pulls the prophecy to bits, stuff.co.nz reports.

'If you are watching this video, it means one thing. The world didn't end yesterday', it says at the outset of the video, meant to be watched by viewers the day after the supposed end of the world.

The video points to the theories of Dr John Carlson, the director of the Centre for Archeoastronomy. According to the report, he is backed up by NASA scientists reported on the space agency's website.

You can see the video here.
13:04  Government hopeful of containing fiscal deficit:  The government is confident of meeting the fiscal deficit target of 5.3 per cent in the current fiscal and the steps to boost investments have already started showing green shoots of revival, a top finance ministry official said today. 

"5.3 per cent is the fiscal deficit target for this year. And 5.3 per cent it shall be," department of economic affairs Secretary Arvind Mayaram said.
13:02  Sir Nadia on Arab Spring, Obama and more...:  Writer VS Naipaul, in an interview to Isaac Chotiner of the New Republic, shows that age has not dulled his tongue (although marriage may have made him a little circumspect, especially if wife Nadira is around). 

Of the many topics he covers in the interview, and some he refuses to, here is what he has to say about the Arab Spring: "I think it's nothing. You saw how it ended in Libya. It ended in a kind of mess, you know. It will happen elsewhere, too. Chaos, one-man rule, which is how these things usually end in the Muslim world.' 

Read the full interview here.  
12:50  India asks Pak to FAST-TRACK 26/11 trial:  India asks Pakistan to fast-track the trial in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks case.   India sees "little movement" as far as accountability in Mumbai attack is concerned, says External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.
12:44  'Little movement' on 26/11 case in Pakistan: Khurshid:  Just In: India asks Pakistan to fast-track the trial in the Mumbai terror attack case. India sees "little movement" as far as accountability in Mumbai attack is concerned, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has said. Details soon.
12:34  Madhu Kishwar tweets: Macho power house Modi who otherwise inspires fear envy might actually end up getting sympathy vote thanks to grotesquely unfair TV coverage
12:30  Gujarat govt making false promises, says Sonia:   Rebutting Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's claims on development in the state and Sir Creek issue, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Friday told an election rally in Kalol that the Gujarat government is making false promises to the electorate. 

Modi on Wednesday had asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to stop the dialogue with Pakistan at once on the Sir Creek issue, and demanded that it should not be handed over to the neighbouring nation. 

Sonia claimed that Gujarat has progressed due to Congress rule, and added that the central government was committed to national security. 

Criticising the Modi government for not utilizing the central funds, Sonia said: "The Congress-led UPA sanctioned more funds to Gujarat than BJP-led NDA government."

 Sonia will also be addressing another rally in Mehsana. She is also expected to address a media briefing in Ahmedabad.
12:28  Barcode's inventor is dead:  Norman Joseph Woodland, an engineer who invented the barcode technology, has died at the age of 91. 

Woodland was a graduate student when he teamed up with classmate Bernard Silver to create the thick-and-thin line system in the 1940s. 

Woodland''s family said he died on Sunday at his home in Edgewater, New Jersey, Sky News reports. 

According to the report, Woodland is said to have come up with the Morse code-inspired idea while sitting on a chair surrounded by sand. "I poked my four fingers into the sand and for whatever reason -- I didn't know -- I pulled my hand toward me and drew four lines,' he told Smithsonian magazine in 1999. 

"I said: ''Golly! Now I have four lines, and they could be wide lines and narrow lines instead of dots and dashes'',' he said. 

The idea was patented in the US 60 years ago and sold to battery storage company Philco for 15,000 dollars, a figure that today would be worth 130,000 dollars, the report said.
12:26  UK, USA refuse to sign new UN telecom treaty:  The British and American governments have refused to sign a new UN telecom treaty over concerns that the clauses supported by China could lead to greater online censorship.

The British delegation called the proposals, meant to update an international telecom agreement signed in 1988, "a bad agreement that does nobody any favours and makes nobody happy".

The Americans said the draft treaty was an attempt to increase official influence online at the expense of the existing 'multi-stakeholder' model of Internet governance, whereby private firms, NGOs and other organisations have equal sway, the Telegraph newspaper reports.
12:16  BSE launches index for small and medium enterprises:  The Bombay Stock Exchange today launched an SME index that aims at tracking the current primary market conditions in the Indian capital market and measure the growth in investors' wealth over a period. 

The index will be constituted by SMEs listed on the BSE SME platform. 

So far, there are 11 companies listed on the SME platform and this index will have features similar to the BSE IPO index. 
12:15  Staff of Aus radio station move to safehouses:  Death threats have been made against the staff of an Australian radio station whose DJs made a prank call to a UK hospital treating pregnant Princes Kate, prompting some of the employees to move to safe-houses. 

About a dozen staff of Sydney-based 2DayFM station have been moved into safehouses and up to 10 executives have been assigned bodyguards following death threats against them, the Daily Telegraph reported. 

The radio station management has recruited 24-hour security to guard the staff and the safehouse venue, costing the company an estimated USD 75,000 a week, the report said.
12:12  Be your own man: Ratan Tata's advice to Cyrus Mistry:  

Be your own man, Ratan Tata has advised Cyrus Mistry, who will succeed him at the helm of the $100 billion Tata group two weeks from now. "I don't think it is right to have a ghost to shadow over somebody," says Tata, dismissing any notion that his larger-than-life persona would linger even after he retires on December 28 when he turns 75.        

 

The Tata patriarch has told Mistry, 31 years younger, "you should be your own person, you should take your own call and you should decide what you want to".        

 

Tata spoke about his 50 years with the group, 21 as its chairman, the highs and lows of his tenure, his equation with Mistry and his post-retirement plans during an expansive interview to PTI in his office at "Bombay House", the group headquarters.        

 

Mistry, currently vice chairman of the conglomerate that spans automobiles, IT, hotels, tea and steel across 80 countries, has been working closely with Tata to prepare for the transition.

12:00  Actor Paresh Rawal tweets: Ha..A News anchor said Modi doing politics for Votes.What else a politician will do? Hope she wont say P.Rawal doing acting to make film hit.

Ouch!

11:59  The return of Google Maps to iOS. Here's why it's good:  So there's been hurrahs all around from Apple users over the return of Google Maps to the iOS ecosystem. Sure, most of us are simple users, and our needs are quite basic: to know how to get from point A to point B. But how does Google Maps score otherwise?  

Sacha Grief, a designer from Paris, France writes on his blog: 'Playing around with the app, I was impressed by the design, and I thought it would be interesting to highlight a couple things,' which he goes on to do here.
11:55  US police foil plot to kill Justin Bieber:  American detectives have foiled a plot to kidnap and kill teenage singing sensation Justin Bieber, reports Damien Pearse in the Guardian newspaper.

The plan also included castrating two other men with hedge clippers.

The police have charged two men and recovered a selection of tools, as well as a hand-drawn picture of the Canadian singer. 

The reason behind the plot, hatched by Dana Martin, in jail for killing, was his obsession with Bieber. Martin was angry that the singer had failed to respond to his letters, Guardian reports here.
11:50  Just In: Inflation declines to 7.24 per cent in November from 7.45 per cent in the previous month and 9.46 per cent in November, 2011.
11:37  Some respite for Zee chairman Subhash Chandra:  Delhi court extends till December 20 protection from arrest granted to Zee Group Chairman Subhash Chandra and his son in the alleged extortion bid case.
11:28  Anand Mahindra does micro survey on Gujarat poll outcome:  Industrialist Anand Mahindra, chairman and managing director of Mahindra Group, has done what he calls a "micro survey' on Twitter by posting this question: Help me with a quick survey: a) Your prediction on Gujarat poll results? b) Your DESIRED outcome?   

So what does his survey show? 

"My micro-survey shows an overwhelming prediction of a NaMo victory&a similar desired outcome.Most predicting 115+ seats," he tweets. "Some predict NaMo's victory but desire a narrow margin as a check&balance. Finally, there are a few in the survey who desire a NaMo loss. Now it'll be interesting to see if the election outcome shows this survey result to be niche & twitter-centric, or a mainstream view."

To that we say: Amen!

11:21  Man trampled to death by elephant in Bengal:  

A man was trampled to death by an elephant in West Bengal's Jalpaiguri district today.         

 

Md Bashiruddin was guarding his crops when an elephant attacked him and damaged his crops at Angrabhasa gram panchayat near Dhupguri in the wee hours today, forest department officials said.

11:19  SC's notice to Centre on Kargil war hero issue:  The Supreme Court has issued a notice to Centre on Kargil hero Lt Saurabh Kalia's father's plea to take up his son's torture case at International Court of Justice.
10:59  Durai Dayanidhi surrenders in court:  

Union Minister M K Alagiri's son Durai Dayanidhi has surrendered before a Madurai court.   The Madras high court on Monday quashed a non-bailable arrest warrant against Durai Dayanidhi and granted him anticipatory bail in the alleged multi-crore illegal granite quarrying scam.  

 

Dayanidhi and nine others are facing charges that firms owned by them had mined sand and granite without permission. Cases had been registered under various IPC sections including 120(b) (criminal conspiracy), 447 (criminal trespass) and 420 (cheating) against them.

 

Government had cracked down on several firms after former Madurai Collector U Sahayam in a report, estimated the losses incurred from illegal granite mining at around Rs 16,000 crore. Police had alerted immigration authorities to help them in preventing Dayanidhi and other accused from leaving the country. The companies' accounts had already been frozen.

10:32  Kupwara: Doc kills baby for being born out of wedlock:  

CNN-IBN: In a shocking incident, a government doctor and two others were charged with murdering a one-day-old infant only because it was born out of wedlock.

 

The baby's body was found by the police in a stream and their investigations led them to a government hospital in Kupwara where the baby had been born. The villagers are now demanding strict action against the accused.

 

The Health Ministry has assured prompt action in the case. Sources add that the doctor actually has a history of abortions.

10:31  More economy boosting steps in few weeks: FM:  

Some more steps will be taken in next few weeks to turn around the economy, Finance Minister P Chidambaram has said.  

 

Retail inflation still remains sticky; no room for complacency, he added.

09:46  Sensex down 19 points in early trade:  

PTI: Extending losses for the sixth session, the BSE benchmark Sensex today lost nearly 19 points in early trade as stocks of IT, FMCG and consumer durables sectors fell on sustained selling by participants ahead of Wholesale Price Index data.        

 

The 30-share index, which has lost almost 258 points in the previous five sessions, fell further by 18.41 points, or 0.09 per cent, to 19,210.85.         Similarly, the wide-based National Stock Exchange Nifty declined by 8.05 points, or 0.13 per cent, to 5,843.45.     

 

Brokers said increased selling by funds ahead of WPI data to be announced later today and overnight losses at the US market on fiscal cliff concerns, mainly dampened the trading sentiment here.        

 

Meanwhile, in Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index up by 0.10 per cent, while Japan's Nikkei down 0.33 per cent in opening trade. The US Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 0.56 per cent lower in yesterday's trade.

09:43  Syria government losing control: Russian official:  

BBC: A Russian official has said for the first time that the Syrian government may be defeated by opposition forces. President Bashar al-Assad's forces are "losing more and more control and territory", deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov said.

 

He said Russia, one of Syria's staunchest allies, was making plans for a possible evacuation of thousands of its citizens. Separately, Syria denied reports it had fired Scud missiles at rebels.

08:46  N Korea mark rocket success; South finds debris:  

North Koreans have gathered in Pyongyang for a mass rally to celebrate Wednesday's long-range rocket launch. State television showed huge crowds cheering to mark the launch, which has been condemned by many nations as a banned test of missile technology.

 

South Korea, meanwhile, says it has retrieved debris from the rocket and will study it to assess its technology. The first stage of the rocket fell west of the Korean peninsula. South Korea's navy located it shortly afterwards. It was North Korea's first successful use of a three-stage rocket to put a satellite into orbit.

 

North Korea said on Friday that more launches would go ahead. The UN Security Council has condemned the launch, calling it a missile test that violated two UN resolutions banning Pyongyang from such activities passed after its nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.

 

Read more on BBC

08:43  Friend of India, Rebecca Somers dies:  

Rebecca Somers, the wife of Ron Somers, who is the president of the US India Business Council, has died, her family members said. Rebecca, 55, was suffering from breast cancer for quite some time now.        

 

An outspoken friend of the people of India, she lived in Bangalore and New Delhi between 1992-2004 when Somers was there for the India Private Power Initiative under USAID, the Cogentrix Project, and for UNOCAL.        

 

During her stay in India, Rebecca served as volunteer at an Indira Nagar orphanage and had underwritten dozens of scholarships anonymously for deserving students. She always remained active supporting young women and girls education in India. "She helped me feel the warmth and generosity of heart that is India," Ron Somers said.        

 

Rebecca was born on December 18, 1956 in Chateauroux, France and graduated from University of California, Berkeley.

08:39  Chavez 'recovering from cancer surgery bleeding':  

BBC: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez suffered bleeding during surgery for cancer in Cuba on Tuesday but is recovering well, his Communications Minister said.

 

Ernesto Villegas said the 58-year-old president will require "proper time" to recover because of the complexity of the surgery and its complications. This is the president's fourth operation since last year.

04:07  Susan Rice withdraws from race of US Secretary of State:  US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice has withdrew herself from the race of Secretary of State, considering the stiff opposition she might have faced from the opposition Republican Senators during the confirmation process. 

The US President Barack Obama has accepted her decision. "I spoke to Ambassador Susan Rice, and accepted her decision to remove her name from consideration for Secretary of State," Obama said in a statement yesterday. Rice was said to be Obama's most favourite choice for the nations' top diplomatic post. 

Hillary Clinton, the current Secretary of State, has announced that she would leave the position at the end of Obama's first term next month.
03:19  Karzai says he'll meet with Obama in Washington:  President Hamid Karzai said today he will meet President Barack Obama in Washington next month to discuss a postwar US role in his country, whose fragile security was highlighted hours earlier by a suicide bombing that killed one US troop and two Afghan civilians. 

At a news conference with visiting Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Karzai said he and Obama will discuss how many US troops will remain after the Western combat mission ends in December 2014. He said he understands that immunity from Afghan laws for those remaining Americans is of "immense importance" to Washington, but he added that he has his own priorities in negotiating a postwar US role.
02:08  UN nuclear team to resume talks with Iran on Jan 16:  Iran and the UN atomic watchdog agreed today to resume negotiations on the Islamic republic's controversial nuclear programme in Tehran on January 16, a senior Iranian official said. "We agreed to have the next round of talks on January 16 in Tehran," said Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency was quoted by media as saying. 

The one day of talks held today was "constructive, positive, and good progress has been made," he added. No other information came out of the talks, which ran from the morning late into the evening.
01:42  European court condemns CIA in landmark ruling:  A European court issued a landmark ruling today that condemned the CIA's so-called extraordinary renditions programs and bolstered those who say they were illegally kidnapped and tortured as part of an overzealous war on terrorism. 

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that a German car salesman was a victim of torture and abuse, in a long-awaited victory for a man who had failed for years to get courts in the United States and Europe to recognize him as a victim. 

Khaled El-Masri says he was kidnapped from Macedonia in 2003, mistaken for a terrorism suspect, then held for four months and brutally interrogated at an Afghan prison known as the "Salt Pit" run by the US Central Intelligence Agency. He says that once US authorities realized he was not a threat, they illegally sent him to Albania and left him on a mountainside.
01:40  Pentagon warns of higher bomb threat in drawdown:  A senior Pentagon official says US and coalition forces will be more vulnerable to improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, as the military draws down the number of American troops in Afghanistan next year. 

Lt Gen Michael Barbero told a Senate panel today that fewer troops means travel on Afghan roads becomes more predictable and awareness of what's happening in the vicinity drops. Barbero said IEDs will continue to be the weapon of choice against US and coalition forces.
01:39  N Korean leader urges more rocket launches :  North Korea's leader has ordered more satellite launches, state media said today, two days after Pyongyang's long-range rocket launch triggered global outrage and UN condemnation. Kim Jong-Un, who oversaw yesterday's launch, said its success underscored the need for "to develop the country's science, technology and economy", according to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). 

North Korea says it placed a satellite in orbit for peaceful research, but critics say the launch amounted to a banned ballistic missile test that marked a major advance for the communist state's nuclear weapons programme. The UN Security Council held emergency talks after the North, already under international sanctions for nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, ignored pleas from friends and foes and went ahead with the launch.
00:50  China defies US sanctions pressure over North Korea:  China today resisted US-led pressure to bring its ally North Korea to heel for launching a long-range rocket, arguing that any response from the United Nations should be "prudent" and measured. 

The United States demanded further action from China -- Pyongyang's foremost patron -- and US allies pressed for stronger sanctions, after the UN Security Council condemned North Korea for carrying out yesterday's banned launch. But foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters that China believes any UN response "should be prudent, appropriate and conducive to peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and avoid the escalation of the situation".
00:39  Afghan suicide attack kills 3 after Panetta visit:  A suicide car bomber attacked a NATO airbase in southern Afghanistan just hours after the US Defence Secretary left today, killing an American soldier and two civilians, officials said. 

Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for the attack in a text message to AFP. The death of the American soldier and the wounding of three others in the blast was announced by Pentagon chief Leon Panetta at a press conference in Kabul later with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
00:38  2 bombings kill 6 in Iraq Baghdad:  Iraqi officials say two bombings have killed six people and wounded eight others in the center of the country today. Police officials said that the bloodiest attack took place when a car bomb went off in a commercial street in western Baghdad, killing four people and wounding eight others. 

In Anbar province, two soldiers were killed after another bomb exploded near their observation post in the city of Fallujah, 65 kilometers (40 miles) west of Baghdad.
00:38  Campaigning underway for divisive Egypt referendum:  Islamists backing Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi and the secular opposition ranged against them were today rolling out campaigns over a divisive new constitution that has sparked weeks of protests. 

The staggered referendum to decide the text is to begin on Saturday across half of Egypt, including in Cairo and Alexandria. The rest of the country will vote a week later, on December 22. The protests, and over near-absolute powers that Mursi gave himself for two weeks to push it through, have failed to sway the president from his path.
00:37  Top headlines in the past 24 hours:  
Narendra Modi will go this time: Keshubhai

SC orders CBI to continue probe against Mulayam, Akhilesh

How Saurashtra has rattled Modi and made him insecure

Court clears Chandra for lie detector test, not editors

Mayawati slams Congress on quota issue

PIX: 67 pc voter turnout in first phase of Gujarat polls

Yesterday's Live commentary

Stars spotted!  What's this?

Spotted: Tamil actress Sneha in Mumbai
Reader Kannan Elumalai sends us a photograph.

More stars spotted

Met a celebrity?
Email us photos & videos