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Gadkari likely to get second term as BJP president

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May 11, 2012


23:14  Gadkari likely to get second term as BJP president:  Bharatiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari is likely to get another term at the helm as the party on Friday initiated the process of amending its constitution to facilitate such a step.

BJP national office bearers, at a meeting on Friday, approved a proposal to amend the party constitution to allow a second term for the party president, sources said.Asked about the proposal, party general secretary Ananth Kumar said, "Some internal party matters were discussed at today's meeting of the national office bearers. 

Any decision about the internal party matters would be taken up at the BJP's national executive meeting at Mumbai later this month."Party sources said that at the conclave to be held on May 24 and 25, the national executive is expected to adopt a resolution to amend the clause pertaining to the president's tenure.As per present rules, a BJP president gets only one term of three years. There is no provision for a second consecutive term for the incumbent.

Read full report here
23:10  US lawmakers seek FTO tag for Haqqani network:  A bipartisan group of powerful US lawmakers today urged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to "immediately designate" the Pakistan-based notorious Haqqani network as a foreign terrorist organisation. 

The lawmakers who have written a letter to Clinton in this regard include, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein and Vice Chairman Saxby Chambliss and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers and Ranking Member Dutch Ruppersberger. The lawmakers pointed out that it was clear that the Haqqani network, based in Pakistan's North Waziristan, continues to launch sensational and indiscriminate attacks against US interests in Afghanistan, and poses a continuing threat "to innocent men, women, and children in the region". 

"Last week, our travel to Afghanistan for meetings with President (Hamid) Karzai, Ambassador Crocker, General Allen, and many military, intelligence, and State Department officers serving in Afghanistan reaffirmed concerns substantiated by intelligence and our oversight work," the lawmakers wrote.
22:35  Modi and Gohil ask for safety of Indian workers in Angola:  In two separate letters, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and state Leader of Opposition Shaktisinh Gohil today made an appeal to the Centre to ensure safety of Indian youths working at an industrial plant in Angola. 

Around 40 youngsters from Gujarat amongst other Indian's are reportedly trapped in Angola, after they went on strike in Sumbe cement plant located in that country for not being paid six month wages and had to face police bullets and ire. 

Expressing concerns over the safety of these industrial workers in Angola, the Gujarat Chief Minister in a letter written to the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, has appealed him to ensure safety of the Gujarati and Indian youths trapped there.
22:11  Cartoon had a plot to assassinate me: Mamata:  Resurrecting the issue of cartoons lampooning her, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today claimed it actually contained a message threatening to assassinate her. 

She also alleged a conspiracy through Facebook, Twitter and SMS and said, "I am being shown in Facebook. Now, it is my turn. I will show you Facebook". 

"Mamata Banerjee is not a cartoon. A section of the media called it a cartoon. But they are wrong. It contained the word 'Vanish', which means a plan to assassinate and killMamata Banerjee," the chief minister told a party meeting in reference to the cartoon. 

The cartoon was sent by Professor Ambikesh Mahapatra, who was arrested and later released, leading to a hue and cry.
21:44  Crisis worsens, 25 more Air India pilots sacked:  The crisis in Air India worsened today with the airline management sacking 25 morepilots and writing to the DGCA to cancel the licenses of 11 dismissed office bearers of the Indian Pilots Guild, after over 200 striking pilots refused to return to work. 

"Air India is escalating the matter rather than resolving the issue," said Tauseef Mukaddam, IPG spokesman, making it clear that their agitation will continue. 

He said the pilots have sought time for a meeting with Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh. In a statement tonight, Air India said it has terminated the services of 25 striking pilots "taking a serious view of the situation".  

With this, the total number of pilots who have been dismissed since the agitation started on Tuesday has gone up to 71.
20:35  Congress insulted Gujjars, Jats, Sikhs, Jains: BJP:  The BJP today slammed the government on the issue of the cartoon of Dalit icon B R Ambedkar in school text books and accused the Congress of "insulting" Gujjar, Jat, Sikh and Jain communities.     

"For the last two days, this government has been committing mistakes and apologising. It commits a mistake in the morning and apologises in the evening. Yesterday, the Leader of the House in Lok Sabha Pranab Mukherjee apologised and today Union Minister Kapil Sibal said sorry," said BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain.   

He said the BJP was "deeply hurt" that Ambedkar has been "insulted" in NCERT books.
19:56  Chess: Anand- Gelfand draw first game :  

Vishwanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand drew the first game of their 12-game world chess championship match played at the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.

Anand, with white pieces, opened with a rare queen pawn opening while Gefland opted for the Grunfeld Indian Defence.


Anand made some aggressive moves mid-day through the match but Gefland matched him defensively.

Both agreed to a draw after 24 moves.
     

19:17  Ambedkar cartoon row: NCERT advisors quit :  National Council Of Educational Research And Training advisors Yogendra Yadav and Suhas Palishkar quit on Friday after loud protests and disruptions in Parliament over a cartoon depicting Dr BR Ambedkar published in an NCERT textbook.

The cartoon depicts Dr Ambedkar, the author of the Indian Constitution, sitting on a snail and the country's first PM Jawaharlal Nehru standing behind him, brandishing a whip. The text alongside criticises Dr Ambedkar and suggests he went slow on framing the Constitution.

Sketched by renowned cartoonist Shankar in the 1960s, the cartoon has been part of an NCERT book for Class XI since 2006. Today, MPs across parties waved copies of the cartoon in Parliament and said it insulted both leaders.   
18:52  5.4 quake hits northeast, epicenter at Tezpur, Assam:   The quake measures 5.4 on the Richter scale. The epicenter of the quake was at Tezpur, Assam, said the meteorological department.    

No damages to any structures reported as yet. The quake was felt for around 10 seconds in the northeast.
18:36  Mild quake in Kolkata, North-east, no damage:  

The quake occured at approximately 6:15 pm. The tremors were felt across the north-east. Early reprots say people rushed out of their buildings in Guwahati and Shillong. The tremors felt in Kolkata were very mild. The Malda region of West Bengal and several other districts also reported the tremors. 

18:21  Mild quake in Kolkata, Guwahati, Shillong:  Just in: TV reports say mild tremors have been felt in Kolkata, Guwahati and Shillong. Details awaited.
18:19  Shocking? Time Magazine cover stirs breastfeeding controversy :  

Time magazine's newest cover, with mom Jamie Lynne Grumet breast-feeding her 3-year-old son, is drawing fire on the Web. The photo showed Jamie Lynne Grumet, 26, a stay-at-home mom in Los Angeles who says her mother breastfed her until she was 6 years old.

 

She told the magazine in an interview that she's given up reasoning with strangers who see her son nursing and threaten "to call social services on me or that it's child molestation."

 

Read more

18:15  PC on NCTC: Every day we delay it, terror threat rises:  

Home minister P Chidambaram today said the threat perception of terrorism in the country continues to be high and an institutional mechanism is needed to tackle it. "Given the gravity of the situation, every day we delay NCTC, we increase our risk," said Chidambaram.

18:00  First big gun deal in the 25 years since Bofors:  This is the first such deal to procure artillery guns in over 25 years after Bofors. In fact, BAE Land Systems, the firm that is selling the guns, has bought over the erstwhile Swedish firm Bofors that sold 410 155mm howitzers to India in 1986. The army has not bought a single big gun since the last of the Bofors howitzer was delivered in 1987.
17:57  The deal has taken two years to go through as this Telegraph, Calcutta, report suggests. Read 
17:50  The guns are ultra-light, can be transported by air and are used by US troops in Afghanistan. This is India's first deal to procure Howitzers since Bofors.
17:49  India to buy 145, Rs 3000-cr Howitzer guns :  

In a major decision aimed at giving a boost to the armed forces, the government on Friday approved the deal to buy M-777 ultra light howitzers from the United States. 

 

The purchase of M777 ultra-light howitzers has been cleared nearly 27 years after the controversy over the purchase of howitzers from Switzerland-based AB Bofors. 

 

As per reports, the government aims at buying at least 145 guns at a total cost of USD 650 million. The purchase of the guns will be reportedly made through the US government's Foreign Military Sales program.

 

The Ultra-light weight Field Howitzers (UFH), designated M777 in the USA, was selected in 1997 by a joint US Army / Marine Corps initiative to replace the existing inventory of M198 155mm towed howitzers.  The M777 was deployed by the US Army and Marine Corps to Afghanistan in December 2007 and to Iraq in 2008. In July 2008, Australia requested the foreign military sale of 57 M77 howitzers.

17:46  With MCOCA gone Salem may not have to face death sentence:  This means that according to the conditions for Salem's extradition from Portugal, he can be awarded the maximum punishment of 25 years of imprisonment by Indian courts. Under MCOCA he could have been awarded the death sentence. 
17:42  MCOCA charges against 'Chikna' Abu Salem dropped:  

A Delhi High Court today has said that the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) charges against underworld don Abu Salem will be dropped. Salem is facing prosecution in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts and other criminal cases.

 

The Delhi Police have sought dropping of the charge in the backdrop of the Lisbon High Court terminating the extradition of the underworld for breach of the extradition conditions by India by booking him under MCOCA. 

 

In its petition, the Delhi Police had contended that the charge against the underworld don was framed by a local court here despite argument by the investigating agency that it was against the terms and conditions of Salem's extradition to face trial in the Mumbai serial blasts case of 1993.

17:32  'Unconditional bail' to ex-minister Janardhan Reddy:  Hyderabad court grants conditional bail to former Karnataka Minister Gali Janardhan Reddy in the OMC illegal mining case. Reddy, who is in judicial custody since March 16, is represented by none other than senior Supreme Court lawyer Ram Jethmalani.
17:20  Gulberg killings: SC endorses Modi's action-reaction theory:  

The Supreme Court appointed SIT has endorsed the 'action and reaction' theory of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the Gulburg society massacre case, saying that firing by former MP Ehsaan Jaffery led to killing
of 69 people in 2002. 

 

The SIT has given clean chit to Modi, in a specific allegation made by Zakia Jaffery, the widow of former MP Ehsaan Jaffrey, that Modi made objectionable statements in an interview to a private television channel and a newspaper invoking Newton's law of 'action and reaction'. The SIT has said that as per the correspondent of the private TV channel, Modi referred to Jaffery's firing as "action" and massacre that followed as "reaction".

17:14  Rediff.com celebrates the 60th anniversary of Parliament:  

In our second column, Dr Subhash C Kashyap, former secretary general Lok Sabha, writes to say that people feel that the new breed of politicians in all parties are selfish, power hungry, greedy, dishonest hypocrites and power merchants for whom the nation comes last.

Read

 

Also Read: Parliament's role in making India a great nation is over

17:08  Parliament will have special sitting on Sunday to mark 60 years :  

This means  both Houses of Parliament will mark the anniversary of their first sitting by holding a special session on Sunday. The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha will meet at 11 am on Sunday (May 13) to discuss 'The Journey of 60 years of Indian Parliament'.

A function will be held in the Central Hall of Parliament House at 5.30 pm when President Pratibha Patil will address the members of the two Houses. Vice President and Chairman of Rajya Sabha Mohd Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar will also address the joint sitting.

17:03  KF strike: Salaries by May 15, promises Mallya:  

The Kingfisher management has assured salaries by May 15. The pilots's strike has ended, which means the 24 flights that were cancelled can now be operational with the 72 'sick' pilots back at work.

But the Air India pilots' stir continues, dear reader.

16:58  Extracting Manto, Hundred years on:  

A beautifully written piece celebrating Saadat Hasan Manto's 100th birthday today. On the Sunday Guardian

16:40  

With 72 Kingfisher pilots on flash sick-leave yesterday, the airline had to cancel 17 flights. As of now, the airlines is under debt of over 7000 crore.

 

Yet the Kingfisher man seemed unconcerned even a few days back, as always high on life, this time, quite literally. On 5th May, Mallya had tweeted, "Having dinner at Atmosphere on the 123rd floor of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Never been so high up in my life. Awesome view.'

16:37  Mallya wins this round: KF pilots call off strike :  

Just in: The Kingfisher strike has just been called off. At least 72 pilots in North India had gone on mass leave since yesterday protesting non-payment of salary  since December. Kingfisher promoter Vijay Mallya had written a letter to employees threatening action and promising salaries at the same time.

 

Mallya wrote saying overdue salary payments had begun from today and that he was disturbed by the actions of a few employees, who have put the airlines at risk. He said he won't let misguided employees derail his efforts. "I will act firmly and decisively to protect Kingfisher Airlines," Mallya said today. 

 

The 'misguided' employees haven't been paid salaries since December . Mallya had promised dues would be cleared by May 9

 

16:26  On Twitter:  

@DILIPtheCHERIAN Aamir's show gets more TRP than IPL. Has Aamir outshone IPL with all its stars and glamour?? SRK loses one more domain to arch nemesis?  

 

@BeingSalmanKhan: Ishaqzaadeeeeeeee . Both r superb , arjun ranawat n praniti chopra . Kamaal karte ho yaar

16:21  No bail for Italian marines who killed fishermen:  Just in: The Kollam court rejects bail for the two Italian marines aboard the Enrica Lexie accused of killing Indian fishermen. The decision on whether the Supreme Court directive to the Kerala government to transfer the two to a guest house is yet to be heard.
16:17  If you're in Tel Aviv, this is where you could head to:  

Art, culture, music, film and food... India woos Israel with 3-week festival

 

More on the New York Times' India blogs.

16:10  Chidu-Karti-Maxis link: the dotted line is very faint:  

An apoplectic P Chidambaram told the Lok Sabha yesterday: "I categorically state that neither me nor any member of my family have acquired or hold any stake in any telecom company. In particular, I categorically state that neither I nor any member of my family have acquired or hold any share in either Aircel or Maxis.'  More on Firstpost.com

 

And on Twitter: Subramanian Swamy @Swamy39 PC violated the one of the Ten Commandments by quoting Jesus in vain.

16:06  

BR Ambedkar is trending on Twitter after the NCERT cartoon controversy.

 

Sidin Vadukut ' @sidin I hearing that ISI has inserted cartoon in NCERT textbook?

 

Eccentricandhow @Eccentricandhow The cartoons sitting in the Parliament are more insulting to Dr. Ambedkar.

16:02  Shocking! Jawans bash up officers at Leh army camp:  

Tension gripped an army regiment in Ladakh after a group of officers and jawans clashed following an incident of alleged molestation involving an orderly and the reported capturing of the armoury by the agitated soldiers.

 

Read more on rediff.com

15:58  Ehsan Jafri 'provoked' murderous mob, says SIT:  

In its closure report filed in the Zakia Jafri case, the RK Raghavan-led Special Investigation Team says Jafri's husband and former MP Ehsan Jafri was killed because he provoked a "violent mob' that had assembled "to take revenge of Godhra incident from the Muslims.'

Ehsan Jafri fired at the mob and "the provoked mob stormed the society and set it on fire.' Around 70 Muslims perished in the massacre at the Gulberg Society compound along with the ex-MP on February 28, 2002.

 

Read the Hindu report.

15:49  The cartoon that disrupted Parliament today:  

The Ambedkar cartoon that has disrupted proceedings in both the houses of Parliament today. The cartoon which appears in the NCERT textbook, Indian Constitution at Work, has a cartoon on page 18, showing Dr. Ambedkar sitting on a snail which is labelled Constitution, cracking a whip; behind him is Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, also shown with a whip. The caption says: "Cartoonist's impression of a snail's pace with which the Constitution was made. Making of the Constitution took almost three years''

 

Ramesh Srivats @rameshsrivats Today's uproar in parliament - Ambedkar cartoon in an NCERT textbook. Seriously man, our MPs put the sad in sansad.

15:43  What 'New' Delhi can learn from 'Old' Delhi:  

Read Tripti Lahiri's piece on the Wall Street Journal.

15:41  What Gilani's upto in London:  The Indo-Pak peace process came up for discussion during talks between Pakistan Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani and his British counterpart David Cameron in London, besides other key issues of mutual interest, including Afghanistan. During the meeting, Gilani briefed Cameron "on the ongoing
Pakistan-India Peace process", besides holding "in-depth discussions on regional and international issues of mutual interest", a joint statement said.
15:18  Modi pays tribute on former maharaja of Baroda's demise :  Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today paid tributes to former 'Maharaja of Baroda' and MP Ranjitsinh Gaekwad, who died yesterday after a prolonged
illness. Modi flew to Vadodara to pay homage to the departed soul before the last rites was performed at Royal crematorium in Raopura area of the city here.
The chief minister met the late Maharaja's wife Shubhanginidevi Gaekwad, his son Samarjeetsinh Gaekwad and other members of royal family and consoled them.
15:15  Truth will prevail after CBI probe, warns Yeddy:  

An embattled former Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa today welcomed the Supreme Court order for a CBI probe into illegal mining and donations received by his family-run trust from mining firms. 

 

"The Supreme Court has ordered probe into illegal mining that pertained to my tenure as Chief Minister. I request the Prime Minister to order CBI probe into the issue since 2000 till my regime," Yeddyurappa said.

 

"Political conspiracy hatched against me has made me an accused in illegal mining though it is I who stopped it. I am facing the trouble after doing good work. I know how to come out of this political labyrinth," Yeddyurappa claimed.

14:54  Ten to watch at the London Games:  

The world's greatest athletes descend on London in July for the 2012 Olympics. Martyn Herman highlights 10 to watch when the Games get underway.

See the slideshow on rediff.com 

14:49  Sibal sorry for Ambedkar cartoon, will remove it :  HRD minister Kapil Sibal apologises for the Ambedkar cartoon. He says the "objectionable content will be removed from textbooks by next year." He says it was a 2006 cartoon and he was not a minister then.
14:34  This is why Manto loved Mumbai:  

Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Saadat Hasan Manto.

A group of the celebrated Urdu writer's fans is out looking for traces of his life in Mumbai. While Manto is best known for his powerful short stories about the partition of India, he spent the happiest years of his life as a Bollywood groupie, in the 1940s. He wrote scripts and befriended movie stars but left heartbroken when his film industry friends nudged him to Pakistan.

 

Moreon the Wall Street Journal.

14:26  

While on Satyamev Jayate, also read on rediff.com:

 

Saisuresh Sivaswamy: Aamir Khan's concern should be ours too

Sukanya Verma: Don't be cynical about Aamir's 'Satyamev Jayate', watch it!

Sheela Bhatt: Aamir Khan's Satyameva Jayate played it safe

14:23  Systemic change needs sustained effort, not just Aamir Khan:  

The Maharashtra government has sought the support of Bollywood star Aamir Khan in their campaign against female foeticide, a day after the actor had taken up the issue with Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.

 

Ever since it aired on Sunday, 11 am, the show has remained firmly in the news with rave reviews, peppered with a few intelligent criticisms.

 

Read: Systemic change needs sustained effort, not just Aamir Khan. The appeal of a courageous superstar with a conscience on a Sunday morning television show may help resolve some issues that affect us. But for us to change as a people needs much more effort and awareness, feels Sherna Gandhy. Exclusively on Rediff.com

14:15  The 'Evil Genius' behind Al Qaeda's underwear bombs:  

Running a clandestine bomb factory in remote area in Yemen, a nondescript Saudi has emerged as the most potent threat to the United States, making three bids in past three years to spread mayhem in the world's most powerful nation.

His explosive devices are becoming increasingly sophisticated and hard-to-detect for Americans counter-intelligence forces, who have now marked him as the nation's most wanted.

Read the full story on rediff.com. Also see our 12:28 pm post.

 

That's the picture of the underwear bomb.

14:05  Textbook cartoon an insult to Ambedkar, says Athavale :  

The Republican Party of India (Athavale) has also demanded a ban on a textbook prescribed for Std. XI by the NCERT, arguing that it had insulted Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.

 

Ramdas Athavale held a press conference to burn copies of the page from the book for political science. He demanded the resignation of Union Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal, who is also president of the NCERT board.

 

The book, Indian Constitution at Work, has a cartoon on page 18, showing Dr. Ambedkar sitting on a snail which is labelled Constitution, cracking a whip; behind him is Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, also shown with a whip. The caption says: "Cartoonist's impression of a snail's pace with which the Constitution was made. Making of the Constitution took almost three years''

14:02  Airy new B&B opens in Colaba:  

Half-French, half-Indian owner Roxane Sabatier's one-bedroom family flat is now available for Rs 8,289. She has converted her home into Roxane's Bed & Breakfast, which she rents out.  

Read

13:53  Maya threatens to disrupt Parl over Amdekar cartoon:  

The cartoon of B R Ambedkar in an NCERT book threatened to snowball into a crisis with BSP Chief Mayawati today declaring she will not allow Parliament to function if action was not taken those responsible for the act within three days. 

 

She said: "This is an insult on Indian democracy. The government should intervene and take strong action against those, who are involved in this. If it failed to do so, we will wait for two to three days or else our party will not allow the House to run." 

 

LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan: He said that those who have made this kind of cartoon and also those who endorsed it should not only be suspended but
should be booked under the SC/ST act. How can such objectionable material creep into NCERT books.

13:43  Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee expresses disappointment at IIP numbers; blames slowdown in West and domestic economy for the contraction. The domestic investment recovery remains frail and RBI's monetary policy easing will take some time to translate into reduction in interest cost.
13:37  No parity, says court, Raja's next hearing on May 15:  

A Raja is in custody since his arrest on February 2, 2011 and is facing trial in the 2G spectrum allocation scam case. The CBI filed its reply today on the bail plea of Raja, who had moved his first bail application yesterday after over 15 months of his arrest.

Special CBI Judge O.P. Saini had on Wednesday directed the CBI to file its response, if any, on Raja's bail plea today.

The DMK leader had filed the bail plea on the ground of parity with other 13 accused who all have been granted the relief by the Supreme Court, the Delhi High Court and the special court trying the case.

13:34  NO bail, A Raja stays put in jail:  

The Special CBI court reserves the bail order on former telecom minister A Raja. The bail plea hearing is now reserved till May 15. The CBI says the principle of parity does not apply. In effect Raja continues to stay in jail.

13:30  The Inquisition of Mr Marvel:  For everyone who loved The Avengers, this is a must read.
13:28  Maha govt seeks Aamir's support to save the girl child:  The Maharashtra government has sought the support of Bollywood star Aamir Khan in their campaign against female foeticide, a day after the actor had taken up the issue with Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. In a letter to Khan, state Health Minister Suresh Shetty, while highlighting the steps taken by the government in this regard, congratulated him on raising the issue of female foeticide in his TV reality show 'Satyamev Jayate'.
13:25  After TV, Now, Aamir Khan to connect through radio:  

Aamir Khan says he is not an activist, just an actor. What he's forgotten to add is that he is an amazing marketing man.

 

After being widely appreciated for his TV show Satyamev Jayate, Aamir Khan will now connect with millions of radio listeners in a programme called
Dil Pe Lagi Aur Baat Bani

From tomorrow, the show anchored by Aamir will be broadcast every Saturday at 11 am on primary channels of All India Radio covering Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan and West Bengal. It will be also available on all Vividh Bharati stations of AIR on Saturdays at 3.30 pm, a statement by Prasar Bharati said. Dil Pe Lagi Aur Baat Bani aims at stringing together real-life incidents touching a common chord across people of the country.

13:17  Swamy: Raja's life in danger if he gets bail:  Just in: The CBI opposes former Telecom Minister A Raja's bail plea in
the 2G case in a Delhi court. Janata Party president Subramaniam Swamy says Raja's life is in danger and he needs protection because he knows the "whole chain of people involved in the 2G scam."
13:14  Asian grooming: why we need to talk about sex :  

The Independent investigation into the background to a child abuse ring concludes by exploring cultural and religious implications. Read

12:58  Will Pak prez breathe life into Indian prisoner?:  

Leading rights activist Ansar Burney today appealed to President Asif Ali Zardari to convert the death sentence of Indian national Sarabjit Singh, facinggallows on charges of involvement in bomb blasts in Pakistan, to life imprisonment on humanitarian grounds.   

 

Noting that Sarabjit had been on death row for nearly 21 years, Burney said in a letter sent to the President that theIndian national's possible hanging should be halted and his death sentence converted to life imprisonment "in the greater interest of humanity, human dignity, justice and human rights".

 

Burney noted that he had submitted several mercy petitions on Sarabjit's behalf to the President. He said any move to hang a prisoner who had already spentsuch a long time in jail would be tantamount to a "murder of justice".

 

"I would like to mention here that one day in a death cell is equal to one year in a normal jail and that prolonged detention in the worst and inhuman circumstances on death row is, at the very least, cruel treatment and the worst kind of human rights violations...," Burney said in his letter.

 

Burney's request was made against the backdrop of the Indian Supreme Court's order allowing 82-year-old Pakistani national Khalil Chishti to travel back home after being granted bail.

12:55  Motorists more prone to accidents on Fridays: Study :  

Another one of those researches that makes you realise some people have a lot of time on their hands.

Motorists should be more wary when driving on Fridays, as it has been claimed to be the worst day of the week for a collision.  

A new research from NRMA Insurance shows collisions on a Friday spiked by 16 per cent above the weekly average and Sunday is the least likely day to have a collision, the Courier Mail reported.  

The peak hour times of 3 to 5pm during the week are the worst time for a collision and 11am to 1pm on the weekend.

12:50  Bombay boy Anish Kapoor's Orbit Tower is there for you to see:  

Finally, after two years of planning wrangles, Britain's largest public sculpture towers over the Olympic park. See

Constructing Anish Kapoor's Orbit: time-lapse film. Stunning watch

 

If Kapoor sounds vaguely familiar, here's why

12:43  James Bond arrives at Cannes after 50 years:  

The new Bond movie is still in post-production, but celebrations of 50 years of Eon Bond films include screenings on the beach. Read

 

Also read: Sean Connery describes the guns of James Bond in the 1960s.

The quintessential Bond, we think.

12:37  Erm, a sari can be indecent too:  

The government ban on jeans and T-shirts ignores the fact our national dress can also provocatively show some skin.

 

Read more on the Daily Mail.  

12:33  This year, make it 'No Mothers Day':  

For those of you who do not have your calendars marked and gifts or cards purchased, a reminder: Sunday is Mother's Day, a "holiday" that many Americans have the luxury and good fortune to be able to observe.

Read

 

And you do know that you can wish your mom right here? Try it and make your mom happy.

12:28  Underwear bomber in al-Qaeda plot was British:  

The BBC says that the man who foiled a Yemen-based al-Qaeda "underwear bomb" plot was a British man of Middle Eastern origin, according to US media. UK officials declined to comment on the reports, but earlier this week the US said foreign agencies were involved in the operation.

Read

12:26  

Derek O'Brien ' @quizderek Thrilled to be a witness to 'history' on Sunday.LS & RS will work all of Sunday.Special session to mark 60 years of Parliament.

 

Just so you know, we will be following the Joint Parliamentary Session on Sunday. Stay with us.

12:24  National Interest: Pranab, we presume:  

On the Indian Express: Shekhar Gupta writes that the Congress owes it to Pranab Mukherjee to come clean. Say yes or tell him now that you cannot give him the presidency and why.

Read

12:20  AI strike: DGCA tells airlines not to hike fares :  

Just in: The DGCA issues orders against the 20 per cent price hike by airlines in the wake of the Air India and Kingfisher strike. The DGCA tells airlines not to hike air fares sicne there are no "major changes in operation costs."

12:14  China link to cyberattacks on gas pipeline companies? :  

Those analyzing the cyberspies who are trying to infiltrate natural-gas pipeline companies have found similarities with an attack on a cybersecurity firm a year ago. At least one US government official has blamed China for that earlier attack.

Read

12:04  

Shiv Aroor @ShivAroor Army officer-jawan punch-up happened at Mahe field firing range outside Nyoma. No weapons were used, only fists. 3 Div Cdr at spot.

 

TV reports had suggested that there has been a scuffle between an Army jawan and an officer in Leh.

12:03  Rajya Sabha has also been adjourned for 15 minutes over the Ambedkar
cartoon row.
12:00  Ambedkar cartoon adjourns Lok Sabha:  

Meanwhile, the Lok Sabha has been adjourned till noon after uproar over publication of B R Ambedkar's cartoon in NCERT textbooks.

 

You may recollect that the HRD ministry was to ask the NCERT to review the cartoon in a class XI textbook on political science which appears to show Bhimrao Ambedkar in a bad light and is a reason for anger among dalits.

 

The NCERT had used Shankar's cartoon of Children's Book Trust to indicate that  framing of the constitution was a slow process. The cartoon showed Ambedkar sitting on a snail called the Constitution and India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru whipping the snail to make it move faster. From the cartoon, it appeared that NCERT was blaming Ambedkar for three years the constituent assembly took to prepare the draft of the Constitution.  

11:55  HC refuses to suspend Bangaru's plea for suspension of sentence:  

HC blow for Bangaru: The Delhi High Court today refused to suspend the sentence awarded to former BJP President Bangaru Laxman, in a graft case, on his appeal filed against his conviction and sentencing by the trial court. 

The court declined his plea to immediately suspend the sentence on medical grounds. The trial court had on April 28 awarded Laxman four years jail term and had imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh on him, 11 years after he had been caught accepting a bribe in a fictitious defence deal during a sting operation by Tehelka. 

Laxman's, senior counsel said his client is 72-years-old, suffering from several ailments, has undergone bypass surgeries twice and is also diabetic. He sought
Laxman's immediate release on medical grounds.

11:48  Bottom line of that Ajit Singh, Manmohan Singh meeting is this: The stalemate with AI continues.  
11:47  JP Morgan's $2 billion blunder :  

More on that in a bit.

 

Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal says that a massive trading bet boomeranged on J.P. Morgan Chase JPM +0.25%& Co., leaving the bank with at least $2 billion in trading losses and its chief executive, James Dimon, with a rare black eye following a long run as what some called the "King of Wall Street."

 

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11:45  PM-Ajit Singh meet over: No ESMA against AI pilots:  

The meeting between the PM and the Civil Aviation minister is over. Ajit Singh says there is no possibility of imposing ESMA (Essential Services Maintainance Act). Singh says the Dharmadhikari report is looking into the issue and reiterates that the government is not being inflexible or adamant.

The minister also says the government will NOT step into the Kingfisher mess.  

11:41  2G: SC to hear Presidential reference:  

Another Supreme Court ruling that's just come in. The court is to hear the Presidential reference arising out of the 2G judgement on allocation of natural resources from July 10. The Apex court issues notices to all state governments and industry chambers FICCI and CII to represent private industries on the issue and has issued notices to petitioners, CPIL and Subramanian Swamy seeking their response on presidential reference.

 

Expect a tart tweet from Swamy any time now.

11:34  SC 'refuses to entertain' contempt plea against AI pilots:  Update on the Air India pilots's strike. The Supreme Court has said that it will not, and in fact, 'refuses to entertain' Air India's contempt petition
against the Indian Pilots Guild. The SC has asked Air India (management) to sit with pilots and sort out differences. The agitation by protesting pilots entered the fourth day today with 12 Air India international flights cancelled even as the the Civil Aviation Minister hoped that the airline "does not enter the ICU."
11:27  MPs loyal to Yeddy write to CM Gowda:  MPs loyal to former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa shot off a letter to Chief Minister DV Sadananda Gowda, yesterday, seeking a meeting of the BJP MPs to discuss party affairs. The letter, signed by 13 parliamentarians from the State (including two Rajya Sabha members), says the meeting was necessary in the light of Gowda and State BJP president K S Eshwarappa writing a confidential letter to the party's national president Nitin Gadkari. 
11:24  The Supreme Court has ordered the CBI to submit the report on BSY by August 3.
11:23  SC orders CBI probe against ex-CM Yeddyurappa:  

The Supreme Court bench headed by Justice S.H. Kapadia issued the order over the CBI probe against BS Yeddyurappa's alleged role in the mining scam during his tenure as the Karnataka CM.

The court-appointed central empowered committee had recommended a CBI probe against Yeddyurappa. The CEC, in its report, pointed to Yeddy's alleged role in illegal export of iron ore, transfer of some police officers and certain land deals for the benefit of his family.

The SC panel says Yeddyurappa received kickbacks for denotifying land and favoured mining companies for financial gain.

11:17  The Supreme Court has ordered a CBI probe against former Karnataka chief minister BS Yeddyurappa.
11:16  PC reading son's statement in Parl unconstitutional:  

In Parliament right now, BJP says that P Chidambaram's decision to read out son's statement was against the rules. The home minister has therefore insulted the Constitution, says the BJP.

The Opposition yesterday targeted P Chidambaram in the Lok Sabha over the Aircel-Maxis deal, dubbing it as a "big scam" allegedly involving his son, but the home minister dismissed the charges as "wild and reckless".

Declaring that neither he nor any member of his family had acquired or had any stake in Aircel or Maxis, Chidambaram quoted from a statement of his son Karthi, hours after a BJP leader had accused him of having 5 per cent stake in either of the companies. Amid vociferous chants against him by the Opposition, which was demanding his resignation, Chidambaram read out a statement issued by his son, Karthi.

11:09  Malltya to staff: UB has infused Rs 500 crore into KF:  Mallya says that the UB Group (the  has infused Rs 500 crore in Kingfisher Airlines  and he is hurt that several employees have chosen the path of confrontation.
11:03  

Civil Aviation minister Ajit Singh is due to speak with the prime minister any time now.

10:55  Mallya writes to staff: Salary payments have begun:  

Kingfisher Airlines boss Vijay Mallya writes to employees saying overdue salary payments have begun from today. He says actions by a few employees have put the airlines at risk, but he won't let misguided employees derail his efforts. Mallya says he will act firmly, decisively to protect Kingfisher Airlines.

 

The 'misguided' employees haven't been paid salaries since December . Mallya had promised dues would be cleared by May 9.

10:47  12 AI, 12 KF flights cancelled, 72 KF pilots 'sick':  

Back to the continuing turmoil at airports. Around 12 Kingfisher flights were today cancelled after the pilots reported sick in protest against non-payment of due salaries. Civil aviation minister Ajit Singh says he will meet Prime Minister Manmohan over the issue.

 

Air India has refused to take any more international bookings till the 15th of this month. Twelve Air India flights were cancelled this morning as were seven Kingfisher flights, according to media reports. 

The total number of sacked pilots of Air India now stands at 46.

A total of 72 Kingfisher Airline pilots have called in sick in all of north India. The airline's pilots are protesting against the non-payment of their salaries.

10:39  When short skits mean short skirts:  

Media entrepreneur, filmmaker, columnist, writer, blogger and  teacher (all her descriptives, not ours) Harini Kalamur proves with telling examples that the quality of students have been falling every single year since she began teaching at Mumbai University at the Kalina campus.

Here's why...

Vidya Balan is basically from Calkota. She is a Bongoli beauty (their spelling not mine)
She has revolutionised the screen with her fatty fat look
FM Channels started in British India
For a question on short skits we should have a separate channel to show short skirts on TV. 

 

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10:33  Toddler on no-fly list ordered off the plane :  

Toddlers may be jokingly called terrors when they hit the "terrible twos," but one little girl's parents said their daughter was accused of being an actual terrorist.

The family said the Transportation Security Administration and JetBlue have some explaining to do after ordering their 18-month-old daughter off a plane at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

The couple, who asked not to be identified, said they were pulled from the plane because officials told them the toddler's name was on a no-fly list. "It's absurd," said the girl's father.

"It made no sense. Why would an 18-month-old child be on a no-fly list?" "The whole situation was bizarre," the toddler's mother added. "It was completely bizarre."

 

Another example of US paranoia, perhaps.

10:28  Aarushi-Hemraj trial begins in sessions court:  The sessions court begins trial in the Aarushi-Hemraj murder trial. Aarushi's parents Rajesh and Nupur Talwar, accused in the case, are present at the Ghaziabad court.
10:24  Scuffle between Army jawan, officer in Leh:  

Just in: CBI registers a case against defence officials and others for granting No Objection Certificate (NOC) to private persons for defence land. The CBI has also begun searches in Patna, Jammu, Srinagar in connection with the case.

 

TV reports suggest that there has been a scuffle between an Army jawan and an officer in Leh.

10:20  Hope Air India will not move into ICU: Ajit Singh:  
NDTV is reporting that Civil Aviation minister Ajit Singh is slated to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Parliament to apprise him of the Air India crisis.

Talking to media persons, Ajit Singh said: "I am also hopeful that Air India will not move to ICU. I will take up the issue of the Air Turbine Fuel (ATF) costs, other costs and the problem faced by the passengers."
10:12  New Maldivian president in New Delhi today:  
Maldivian President Waheed Hassan Manik arrives in New Delhi on Friday.

The visit comes just days ahead of the expiry of the four week deadline that the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group has imposed on Maldives to change the composition of the National Commission of Inquiry set up by Waheed in February to investigate the events leading to the alleged "coup" on February 7.

The regime is under tremendous pressure from the Commonwealth over inclusion of "independent and impartial" members from other members, which Maldives has been resisting. Maldives is expected to seek India's help in using its influence to help tide over the crisis.
09:52  12 Air India, 7 Kingfisher flights cancelled:  
The ongoing crisis in Air India deepened further on the fourth day following the cancellation of 12 more flights.

The worst-hit in the ongoing crisis were the passengers, who alleged that they were not being informed about the cancellation of their flights in advance.

They also alleged the airline staffs were not cooperating nor were they providing any information about their flight or any alternate flights.

With over 200 pilots owing allegiance to the  Indian Pilots Guild refusing to join duty, AI said it was suspending its international bookings to New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Toronto, London, Paris and Frankfurt till May 15.

72 Kingfisher Airline pilots too have called in sick in all of north India. The airline's pilots are protesting against the non-payment of their salaries.

The result? 7 Kingfisher flights have been cancelled
09:38  2G case: Hearing on Raja's bail plea today:  
A Delhi court is likely to hear on Friday arguments on the bail plea of former Telecom Minister A Raja who is in custody since his arrest on February 2 last year and is facing trial in the 2G spectrum allocation scam case.

Raja, in his bail plea, contended that he is "innocent" and the case against him is "false and fabricated". 

"The case against the petitioner (Raja) is false and fabricated and is not sustainable on law or on facts. The petitioner is innocent and is likely to get acquitted. All the individual accused persons in this case, except the petitioner, have been released on bail .... The petitioner is entitled to bail on the grounds of parity," Raja had said.

The DMK MP had filed the bail plea on the ground of parity with other 13 accused who all have been granted the relief by the Supreme Court, the Delhi High Court and the special court trying the case.
08:45  Blind Chinese dissident's kin face State fury:  
Authorities in the hometown of blind activist Chen Guangcheng have notched up restrictions on members of his extended family while he awaits permission in Beijing to travel abroad under an agreement between China and the US.

Chen Guangcheng's brother and sister-in-law have been placed under house arrest, his nephew is in police detention, and several other relatives face some form of restriction on their movements in their village in Shandong province, according to Chen, his lawyers and a rights group. 

Chen's flight from abusive house arrest in Shandong and into the protection of US diplomats which led to an agreement with Beijing to let him study in the US accompanied by his wife and children has exposed the impunity of local officials and embarrassed the central government.

"I feel that Shandong's retribution against me has already started," Chen said in an interview Thursday from a hospital where he is being treated for injuries suffered during his dramatic escape from his guarded farm house.
08:41  Meeting Mamata a remarkable experience: Hillary:  
Terming her trip to Kolkata as remarkable, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was all praise for West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee saying despite being a women she successfully ended 34-year-old Left rule in the state.

"I went last week to West Bengal in East India and had two remarkable experiences -- meeting the newly elected chief minister, a woman, who on her own started a new political party and built that political party over many years, and just successfully ousted Communist Party that had been in office for 30, 34 years or so, and who is trying now to govern a state with 90 million people in it," Clinton said.
08:38  New anti-obesity drug gets USFDA nod:  
A panel of independent experts urged the US Food and Drug Administration to approve the first new anti-obesity drug in more than a decade -- Lorcaserin, made by Arena Pharmaceuticals. 

The committee voted 18-4 in favor of the drug, which works to control the appetite through receptors in the brain, after trial data showed it helped nearly half of patients studied lose up to five percent of their body weight.

The drug was rejected in 2010 by the Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee, which advises the FDA, over concerns that it formed breast tumors in rats. However, those effects did not appear in trials on overweight and obese humans, and the 18-4 vote showed strong support that its benefits outweigh the risks.

Read more about the drugs HERE!
04:04  Will go after Al Qaeda wherever they are: Panetta:  Following a failed attempt by al-Qaeda to attack a US-bound plane, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said the United States would go after the terror group "wherever they are and wherever they try to hide in this world." "As I've said time and time again, that we will go after Al Qaeda wherever they are and wherever they try to hide. 

And one of the places that they clearly are located is Yemen," Panetta told reporters at a Pentagon news conference yesterday. "The United States' both military and intelligence communities have gone after Al Qaeda, and we continue to go after Al Qaeda," he said in response to a question when asked about recent threats that emanated from Yemen. 

On May 8, an attempt by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to blow up a US-bound passenger plane was foiled. An explosive device bearing the hallmarks of the 2009 underwear bomb was seized.
02:44  Microsoft weaves Facebook into Bing search:  Microsoft today said that it is weaving insights from people's Facebook friends into Bing results as part of the biggest revamp of the search engine since its launched three years ago. 

A new version of Bing will be rolled out in the weeks ahead and was to be widely available in the United States in early June. "Increasingly, the Web is about much more than simply finding information by navigating a topically organized graph of links," said Microsoft online services division president Qi Lu. 

"We're evolving search in a way that recognizes new user paradigms like the growth of the social graph, and will empower people with the broad knowledge of the Web alongside the help of their friends." Google in January meshed posts from its social network into search results based on a similar belief that people value input from friends or others they respect.
02:04  Helicopter ditches in North Sea; all aboard safe:  All of the passengers and crew aboard an oil rig helicopter that ditched in the North Sea today have arrived safely back on land, officials said. Coast Guard officials said in a statement that 14 people -- 12 passengers and two crew -- were on the aircraft when it came down just after noon 25 miles off the coast of Aberdeen, Scotland. 

After being put in life rafts, nine men were flown to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary while the other five people were taken to Aberdeen by lifeboat. Eight of the nine sent to the infirmary have been discharged and one man is being kept for observation, said James Ferguson, a doctor at the hospital.
01:10  Karzai 'respects' Hollande's Afghan strategy:  Afghan President Hamid Karzai "respects the decisions" of France's president-elect Francois Hollande regarding troop withdrawal in Afghanistan, a government statement said today. Hollande, who ousted incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in elections Sunday, pledged during his campaign to withdraw France's combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, ahead of an agreed NATO timetable. 

In a telephone call, Karzai congratulated Hollande for his election victory, and told him "the Afghan government respects the decisions of the French leadership in regards with Afghanistan", the statement said. Hollande will outline his withdrawal strategy to NATO at a summit in Chicago on May 20-21, where Afghanistan will be top of the agenda.
00:18  UN's Ban says Syria rivals must reject 'terrorist acts':  UN leader Ban Ki-moon said today the Syrian government and opposition must "distance themselves" from terrorist attacks such as the double bomb blast in Damascus which left dozens dead. 

Ban reaffirmed a call for all sides in the conflict to cease all violence and "to distance themselves from indiscriminate bombings and other terrorist acts," UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said. The UN secretary general "strongly condemns" the attacks in Damascus, which Syrian authorities said left at least 55 dead, said the spokesman. 

President Bashar al-Assad's government has blamed opposition rebels seeking to overthrow him, while the opposition has accused the government of staging the huge car bomb blasts. Ban said all sides in the Syria conflict must keep to UN Security Council resolution 2043 which set up a ceasefire monitoring force and demanded a halt to violence as part of a peace plan that Assad agreed with UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.
00:13  Ganguly's days as Pune captain over, to serve as mentor only:  Sourav Ganguly will no longer be the captain of Pune Warriors in Indian Premier League and will serve only as the team's mentor, putting an end to intense speculation over the struggling batsman's fate following a string of poor results. 

Ganguly's future role in the team was spelt out by franchise owner Subrata Roy who said that the veteran batsman wants to remain in the team as mentor only. "Sourav will be the mentor next season. We rather pushed him to play in IPL 5 as he is such a fantastic captain," Roy said. The Warriors are already out of the race for the play-offs berth and Roy said Ganguly would like to sit out the team's last three matches for the youngsters' sake. "Sourav wants to give youngsters a chance in the last games," Roy told NDTV

Ganguly has been under the scanner for his failure as a batsman in the current edition of IPL while the team's below-par show has also put a question mark on his waning leadership skills. Pune have lost nine of their 13 matches in the league so far.
00:07  Top news stories in the last 24 hours:   I and my family have no stake in Aircel or Maxis: PC

Tejinder Singh withdraws bugging case against Army chief

'Mullaperiyar dam is safe; Kerala can argue in SC'

Obama 1st US president to endorse same sex marriage

Osama bin Laden was not a Pakistani: Gilani

SC questions findings in Aarushi murder case

Yesterday's Live commentary
00:05  'US drone' raid kills 8 Qaeda militants in Yemen:  Air attacks and mortar fire killed 20 al-Qaeda militants in southern Yemen today, including eight who died in US drone strikes, officials and tribal sources said. The latest attacks follow a deadly raid on Sunday that killed a top Al Qaeda leader wanted by the United States, and amid reports a Saudi mole had infiltrated the network and supplied information to the CIA. 

The drone strikes took place around midnight (0230 IST today) in the town of Jaar, an al-Qaeda stronghold in Abyan province, a source in the town said. "We heard three explosions rock the town," the source said, adding that a "US drone" carried out the strikes on a residence where the jihadists had been meeting in the dead of night.

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