May 23, 2012
M Karunanidhi, chief of major UPA ally DMK, has criticized the government's decision to hike petrol prices by Rs 7.50 per litre.
The former Tamil Nadu chief minister also said that he will ask his party MPs to request PM Manmohan Singh for a rollback of hiked petro prices.
West Bengal Chief Minister and chief of UPA ally Trinamool Congress, Mamata Banerjee, reacted sharply to government's decision to hike petrol prices, terming it as 'unacceptable.'
Petrol price hike is unjust and unilateral. It was done without our knowledge, she added.
However, she added, that Trinamool Congress won't topple the government 'like CPI-M', which will create economic and political instability.
CPI leader D Raja while blasting the governments decision of hiking the fuel price hike of Rs 7.50 per litres, said that the Left parties will hot the streets while protesting against the failure UPA government.
People of the country are fed up with the government which has failed on all fronts, he added.
Update on the fire at the PNB head office in Delhi.
Some of the injured, who had trouble in breathing, have been taken to hospitals. Police and fire brigade officials suspect that a short circuit is the cause of the blaze. Thick plumes of smoke billowed out of the four-storey building.
A large number of employees working in banks and customers were trapped inside. While some of them managed to get out of the building before the fire spread, a number of them were trapped as the exit was engulfed in smoke. Two hydraulic elevators were pressed into service by fire brigade officials who broke the window panes and rescued them from the top floor of the building.
Police also had to block traffic on parts of Ashoka Road and Parliament Street as rescue operations went on. Anxiety gave way to emotional scenes outside the building as colleagues hugged each other after getting out. members of those working in the building also rushed to the spot after hearing about the incident.
Incidentally, the Rs 7.50 hike in petrol prices, is the steepest ever. At Rs 70.66 per litre (current prices), petrol prices in Mumbai is the highest and of course, Delhi, at Rs 65.64, is the cheapest.
The petrol prices were hiked after the record low of the Rupee, which fell to Rs 56 to a dollar today.
In fact, on Tuesday, Petroleum Minister S Jaipal Reddy said there was an immediate need to raise fuel prices.
"It (price increase) is very essential, but (before hiking rates) we have to talk to political parties," he told reporters in Amritsar on Tuesday, on the way to Ashgabat for signing of the agreement for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline.
The government had decontrolled petrol price in June 2010 but rates were last increased on November 4 last year. This despite oil price rising by 14 per cent and 7 per cent fall in value of rupee against the US dollar.
BJP today steered clear of questions whether Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi will be attending the National Executive meeting of the party beginning in Mumbai tomorrow.
"We are hoping everybody will be there. Why are you asking specific questions? All are expected. Let us see...We dont know who is coming by which train. By tomorrow, we will know," was all that the party Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu said while talking to reporters.
He was asked if Modi, who had skipped the last National Executive meeting, would be attending the meet.
Forklifts rescuing people in groups of four and five. Early, and therefore unconfirmed reports, say many more are trapped inside.
The UCO Bank building is metres away from Parliament House. Early reports say the fire began at the ground floor.
Some clarity: The PNB office is in the same building.
CNN IBN reports say the fire is at the UCO Bank building at Parliament Street in Central Delhi. According to fire parlance, if there are over 25 fire tenders at the spot, it is called a major fire.
A Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA find Osama Bin Laden has been sentenced to 33 years in jail, officials say. Shakil Afridi was charged with treason for running a fake vaccination programme to gather information, reports the bbc. The US secretary of state Hillary Clinton had called for his release on the grounds that his work served Pakistani and American interests. Bin Laden was killed by US forces in the north-western city of Abbottabad in May 2011.
Moving on to an update on teh Aarushi Talwar case (see our 16:27 post).
Outside the court, Nupur Talwar told media: "God will help us as we are innocent. A mother who keeps her child nine months in her womb, can never kill the living child whatever she does. A man cannot understand the agony of a mother in giving birth to a child."
A report on Times Now says the explosion was caused by a bomb with unnamed officials saying it may have been caused by a gang war. Exact number of casualties have not been confirmed but Times Now puts the figure at four dead, 12 injured.
Eyewitnesses say they could hear the explosion from about half a kilometre away. Eyewitnesses say they saw children's bodies being carried out. Remember, still no confirmation whether it was a bomb blast.
That's the location of the where the explosion took place.
Reports say the victims were playing near the garbage dump when the explosion took place. The injured have been taken to hospitals and a high alert has been declared by the government.
The death toll has gone up to six -- four children and two women. Fifteen people have been injured, seven critically.
Early reports say seven people have been critically injured.
Update on the Aarushi Talwar trial.
The CBI today told a special court that Rajesh and Nupur Talwar killed their daughter Aarushi and domestic help Hemraj in a fit of rage after finding them in a compromising position, a claim strongly refuted by the dentist couple.
The Talwars contested CBI's claim, saying that sex is no big deal in elite society and does not entail murders. Resuming its argument on framing of charges in the May 2008 twin murder case, CBI counsel R K Saini told Special Judge Shyam Lal that on the fateful day Talwars had returned home late in the evening and not finding Aarushi and Hemraj in the living room went to their daughter's room.
Saini said the room was locked from inside but Talwars opened it from outside with another key and found their daughter and Hemraj in a compromising position and got infuriated.
An angry Talwar picked up a golf stick and repeatedly hit Hemraj and his daughter with it, Saini said. As the two fell unconscious, Talwars slit their throat
with a surgical blade, a work done with the precision expected of experts like them, he said.
Nupur, however, personally, dismissed the charge saying that they belong to elite class of society where one does not kill anyone for indulging in such sexual acts. She added that they dearly loved their daughter and there was no question of killing her even after finding her in a compromising position as the matter could have been resolved.
Acquiring land in India isn't easy to begin with, especially if you are planning to build factories, power plants, special economic zones or highways. And it may get harder: If a parliamentary panel has its way, buying land for industrial and infrastructure projects may become close to impossible.
That's the report on the Wall Street Journal.
This is what the Land Bill that was tabled in Parliament says
For a country that had for decades chugged along at a lowly 3-4 percent GDP growth rate, the frenetic 8-9 percent growth of some recent years made for a giddy experience.
While the economy was on an uptrend, largely on the strength of propitious global economic and liquidity conditions and the delayed effect of the reforms of the 1990s and the early 2000s, policymakers began talking up the prospect of India achieving double-digit growth rates.
Read the full report on Firstpost.com
Millions of Egyptians queued outside polling stations and cast ballots to pick their first post-Mubarak President today, in what marks the culmination of
a mass uprising that uprooted an entrenched autocratic ruler and inspired millions across the Arab world.
The two-day exercise kicked off this morning amid tight security and is the final phase of a tumultuous transition overseen by the increasingly unpopular ruling military council. The historic presidential election is being contested by candidates with both Islamist and secularist leanings who have promised radically different futures for the country.
In a relief to Kadapa MP YS Jaganmohan Reddy, the Andhra Pradesh High Court today lifted the freeze on bank accounts of three firms -- Sakshi newspaper, TV channel and Janani Infra, owned by the YSR Congress chief. However, the court imposed certain conditions on maintenance of accounts saying that all transactions are to be through cheques and no property should be sold until the case is completed.
On May 8, the CBI, which is investigating source of funds and other aspects of Jagan's business empire, had written to different banks ordering the freezing of all accounts in the name of Jagathi Publications, which runs Sakshi newspaper,Indira TV, which operates Sakshi TV, and Janani Infra.
It will cover 2.8 million square feet and have its own power plant inside its massive, gleaming circular design. It will be covered in solar panels and house up to 13,000 people on a daily basis -- not to mention 6,000 trees.
Even as uncertainty prevails over whether Kapil Dev has been left out of the list of former cricketers due to receive the one-time monetary benefit by the BCCI, the former India captain today said officials of the Cricket Board are the "boss" and it's their call.
"They are the boss. Let them do whatever they want to do. What is the point about talking on this matter" Kapil said. The 1983-World Cup winning captain was not invited by the BCCI for the functions at the four IPL venues where it is set to honour former cricketers with cheques for their services to Indian cricket.
"I am a contented person and these things will not bother me. I enjoyed playing for India and that is it. I do not have to do anything more. I do not feel comfortable in talking negative. I am a very positive person and I do not have to talk about negatives."
It is believed that Kapil was ignored by the BCCI as he had not accepted the amnesty offered by the board following his involvement in the Indian Cricket League -- the now-defunct Twenty20 league.
From Nitin Gokhale's blog -- the NDTV strategic affairs correspondent -- on the chopper crash killing an Army pilot.
A young Army Aviation pilot died in Siachen this morning, trying perhaps to eke out non-existent power from the ageing Cheetah Helicopter.
His co-pilot is seriously injured and in hospital.
Despite this accident the brave pilots will continue flying on the World's most inhopitable and highest battlefield.
What went wrong, no one will know but the fact is the Cheetahs and Chetaks have far outlived their lifespan.
They were good machines when they were inducted. Not any longer.
We need replacement. As of yesterday.
As someone who tracks defence matters closely, it saddens me to report that almost 15 months ago, I had done a report on problems with the ageing fleet of Cheetahs and Chetaks.
But the defence minister and the defence ministry will continue to cite flimsy reasons to delay the procurement of helicopters to replace the ageing fleet. We will continue to lose young, brave pilots for no fault of their own.
RIP our brave warrior.
The latest on Mamata Banerjee, who feels the world is out to get her.
The West Bengal CM launched a vitriolic attack on her Left opponents, saying how the CPM was plotting with the Maoists to kill her, in league with the ISI and financed by North Korea, Venezuela and Hungary. "They have given me the death sentence, and every day they are spreading this superimposed photo on Facebook, on Internet or the e-mail through some false, camouflaged name," she told Washington Post.
Read the report by Simon Denyer in the Washington Post
In other news, Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy today asked Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to support A P J Abdul Kalam for the post of President instead of NCP leader P A Sangma whom she had already chosen.
In a statement, Swamy said she should support Kalam for the post of president.
"She should phone him up and persuade him to become her candidate. Sangma has lost all moral authority to be a non Congress candidate after apologising to (Congress chief) Sonia Gandhi (for raking up her foreign origin issue)," he said.
In a coordinated move, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and her Odisha counterpart Navin Patnaik had on May 17 announced their joint support to Sangma.
Swamy's tweet a while ago: @Swamy39 JJ will probably switch in few days to Kalaam.
Adventurers Steve Fisher, 37, Dale Jardine, 33 and Sam Drevo, 33 paddled up to the lip of the mile-wide Victoria Falls -- the largest waterfall in the world -- a 350-ft drop.
Jonathan Ive, who receives a knighthood today for creating products such as the iPad, tells the Telegraph, UK, why the country's industrial heritage lies behind his success. Read
Also see: Simplicity isn't simple
Taking a dig at Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's remarks on IPL who said that there was black money involved in it, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh has said he should quit politics as it also has black money.
Chouhan had recently said that he would not let any IPL matches to be held in Madhya Pradesh, as there was black money involved in it. "Since there is lot of black money in politics, it would be better if Chouhan leaves this field as well," Singh said while speaking to reporters here last night on his way to Raghogarh.
Shah Rukh Khan courts controversy yet again it seems.
Kolkata Knight Riders co-owner Shah Rukh Khan's antics after Tuesday night's Indian Premier League (IPL) match are all set to raise the hackles again. After KKR beat Delhi Daredevils in the play-off in Pune and stormed into the finals, the Bollywood superstar took a victory lap in the stadium waving at the crowd, reports India Today.
Just as an ecstatic SRK was soaking in the glory, he was seen gesticulating to some people in the crowd asking them to come on the ground. The next moment he pretended to take off his shoe as if to hurl it at someone in the stand.
The report adds that, an irked SRK was again seen daring some people in the crowd to see him on the ground. SRK has been involved in several controversies in the recent past.
The latest of those past incidents saw him banned from entering Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium for five years for an alleged scuffle and heated duel with Mumbai Cricket Association officials and security guards.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan has said President Asif Ali Zardari's visit to Chicago to attend the two-day NATO summit has brought nothing but disgrace to the nation.
Khan said that despite the death of 40,000 Pakistanis and the loss of Rs 70 billion in a "strangers' war", Pakistan's sacrifices are not being given due consideration.
Addressing a press conference, he also questioned that why the resentment being faced by 48 countries was not being kept in mind while discussing the reopening of NATO supply routes in the parliament. "This whole war is being done for the sake of dollars,' The Express Tribune quoted Khan, as saying.
Gardiner Harris writes in The New York Times:
"The first interloper stepped in front of her on the sidewalk and silently held up his hand. The second appeared behind her and beckoned for her bag. Maeve O'Connor was trapped. Resistance would have been dangerous, so Ms O'Connor handed it over and the two then sauntered arrogantly away. The whole encounter lasted no more than 15 seconds -- just one more coordinated mugging by rhesus monkeys in a city increasingly plagued by them."
Anna Hazare was today admitted to a local hospital for medical checkup after he complained of fatigue and weakness. The 74-year-old Hazare, who arrived in Nashik this morning from Dhule as part of his state-wide tour for strong Lokayukta Bill, has been taken to Saibaba Heart Institute and Research
Centre, where he is being examined by doctors, hospital sources said.
The Gandhian is scheduled to address a public meeting here tomorrow evening.
Hazare has been on a month-long tour of the state on the Lokayukta Bill issue from May 1.
Team Anna will begin its fast on July 25 over the Lokpal Bill, but Anna will not be fasting.
A 12-member delegation, led by Home Secretary R K Singh, today left for Pakistan for the Home Secretary-level talks beginning tomorrow where a relaxed visa regime is expected to be inked apart from New Delhi pressing for action against perpetrators of the 26/11 attack.
The broad agenda of the two-day talks would focus on terrorism, fugitives from Indian law like underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, who are believed to be hiding in Pakistan, narcotics, fake Indian currency notes and humanitarian issues including Indian fishermen and civilians in Pakistan jails.
Apart from Kapil Dev, Mohammad Azharuddin will also not be part of the BCCI's one-time payment scheme for former cricketers during Indian Premier League's play-off games.
Kapil led India to 1983 World Cup glory in England, and Azharuddin, who played 99 Tests for the country and one time was India's most successful Test captain, before Sourav Ganguly over took him.
These two stalwarts of Indian cricket have been ignored by BCCI for various reasons. Kapil, who was involved with the now defunct Indian Cricket League(ICL) and did not take the amnesty given by the Board, now finds himself out of the list drawn for the one-time benefit scheme.
Azad was non-committal when asked whether he was getting monthly pension from the BCCI as a former cricketer. "I am not aware if I am getting the pension or not. I have to ask my CA as to whether I have been getting my pension. I am not aware," he said.
Azad said he has written a letter to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to take action against IPL for various financial irregularities. "I have already written a letter to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee asking what action the government intend to take on the allegations of money laundering, tax evasion, foreign exchange violation by the IPL," he said.
Kapil Dev was left out of the list of former cricketers due to receive the one-time monetary benefit announced by the BCCI for former national and domestic cricketers who retired before the 2003-04 season.
Kapil Dev told CNN IBN that it is BCCI's prerogative who they want to give the cheque to. Sources have revealed, the BCCI has scratched the name of former India player Kirti Azad from the list of beneficiaries for the one-time payment following his fast at the Feroze Shah Kotla ground in protest against the alleged financial irregularities in the IPL. There is no official word from the BCCI yet on this issue.
Rediff.com's Rajendran P was at the Middlesex court as the parents of Dharun Ravi, convicted for webcam spying of his roommate Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide, and the latter's parents, took the stand before the judge sentenced Ravi to 30 days in prison.
Read the exclusive story, here.
Sounding a fresh warning to Pakistan, a key Senate panel has voted to slash American assistance to Islamabad by more than half, approving only USD
1 billion in aid for fiscal 2013 and warned of further cuts unless it reopens NATO supply routes to Afghanistan.
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, which passes the budget for the State Department, yesterday approved only USD 1 billion in assistance to Pakistan, slashing nearly USD 900 million from the aid that
the country had been due to receive this year and next.
The Senate action reflected growing American anger over a month-long standoff and comes just after a NATO Summit in Chicago where Washington had hoped to reach a deal with Islamabad on supply routes.
On the Dawn, Pakistan, read: Nato summit: what next?
Sushilkumar Shinde has been asked to depose on May 25 and 26.
Meanwhile, read: Top ten facts facts in the Adarsh scam
In Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar faced protests from angry locals who pelted stones at a couple of vehicles in his convoy during his 'Seva Yatra' at
Chausa in Buxar district today.
The trouble started when a large number of villagers gathered alongside the road as they wanted the convoy of chief minister must stop at Chausa and listen to their grievances on electricity and water supply in the area. As the convoy did not not stop at the place, angry locals pelted stones damaging a couple of government vehicles. The chief minister's convoy, however, went ahead.
A report on the BBC says that fountain pen sales are rising. So is the fountain pen a curious example of an old-fashioned object surviving the winds of change? Read
The debate on The Hindu on Praveen Swami's Ladakh troop revolt underlines Army class tensions' (The Hindu, May 13, 2012) report. Manvendra Singh, co-convener of the BJP's defence cell says Swami's interesting analysis of the indiscipline and disorder by personnel of the Ladakh-based 226 Field Regiment was based on two arguments.
This is Praveen Swami's response
There was good news and bad news for Kevin Pietersen as he attended a promotion for the Chance to Shine charity in central London on Tuesday. He will presumably be pleased to hear that Nick Knight, the former England opener and now Sky pundit, will not be in the commentary box for the second Test that starts on Friday at Trent Bridge, having tweeted that his involvement in the first Test at Lord's was "ridiculous" -- a comment that has landed him in trouble with his employers.
Read the report on the Guardian.
American authorities have reportedly launched an investigation into Facebook's multi-billion initial public offering, as the social networking giant rounded off the worst start for a major US flotation in five years.
Facebook shares slumped 8.9 percent in the wake of reports that two of the banks that helped advise Facebook on the IPO cut their sales forecast for the company over the last fortnight.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, the reductions from Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs may not have reached all investors before they bought shares in the 104 billion-dollar float.
Even if PA Sangma doesn't get to make Rashtrapati Bhavan his home, he will always be remembered as the man who desperately tried to get there. The NCP leader and former Lok Sabha speaker, in a bid to win over UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi apologised to her on the foreign origin issue of 1999. "I had apologised to Sonia Gandhi on the foreign origin issue," Sangma said.
This came after Sonia snubbed him denying him an appointment. Sangma's dream of becoming the next President of India suffered a major blow on Tuesday as Sonia Gandhi snubbed him. Sonia denied Sangma an appointment amidst reports that the Congress and his own party, the NCP, won't back his candidature for the President's post.
The BJP slammed the government today for the continuing decline of the Rupee. Continuing its sharp slide, the rupee tumbled 47 paise to a touch a new low of 55.86 against the US dollar in the late morning trade due to persistent
demand for the American currency from banks and importers amid its strengthening overseas against other currencies as well.
The rupee has continued the fall for the sixth day in a row despite some steps taken by the Reserve Bank amidst capital outflows from foreign funds and weak stock market. The rupee resumed lower at 55.65/66 per dollar as against the last closing level of 55.39/40 per dollar and dropped further to an all-time low of 55.86 per dollar at 1100hrs.
The Maharashtra forest department has issued an order empowering guards to shoot poachers on sight in Maharashtra's four tiger reserves.
The order was issued after two tigers and three leopards were found killed in the last few weeks. Forest minister Patangrao Kadam on Tuesday said the high-powered committee of forest officers took the decision to empower the staff. He said the guards have been provided with logistic support as well.
Big day ahead for Egypt as the county prepares to head to the polls in their first free presidential election, 15 months after ousting Hosni Mubarak in the Arab Spring uprising. Fifty million people can vote, and security is likely to be tight.
The rear-end train collision at Penukonda of the Bangalore-bound Hampi Express at 3 am on Tuesday cannot certainly be dismissed as "yet another tragedy' on the tracks. The fact that over 25 precious lives were lost when the express train rammed into a stationary goods train raises several serious questions that the Indian Railways needs to answer.
Read the editorial on The Hindu
The other big business story this morning is that SAP is buying cloud-based e-commerce vendor Ariba for $4.3 billion. Ariba's platform focuses on business-to-business commerce transactions. It makes a natural fit with SAP's "broad customer base and deep business process expertise," SAP said in a statement.
At the UPA anniversary dinner, Mulayam Singh Yadav said he was "given a lot of samman (respect)." The Congress is hoping that the message will get across to another M in Calcutta.
"Mulayam's presence and Mamata's absence made our day," a Congress leader could not help but blurt out, hastily "correcting' himself with the addition that the Bengal leader is still the UPA's most valuable ally.
More samman was served when Mulayam was seated next to Sonia Gandhi at the evening's high table with T.R. Baalu, Lalu Prasad, Rahul Gandhi and Trinamul's Saugata Roy. Sonia made it a point to ensure Mulayam's plate was full and conversed with him in snatches.
Full report on the Telegraph.
A four-year-old girl from Kurla, who went missing last week during a trip to Goa with her mother, was found murdered on Tuesday morning. The body was decomposed and the head severed. One person has been arrested.
A labourer had called up the police in Goa and informed them that a kid's body was found behind an abandoned under-construction building in Madgaon. Cops said they had received a missing complaint about the kid and identified the body from her clothes.
More on the TOI
Marking the third anniversary of the UPA II government, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday put the ruling coalition in poll mode, warning her party and allies that they have two years to get their act together as UPA-2 can hope to renew its mandate in 2014 only on the basis of performance rather than promises. Her remarks came after Prime MinisterManmohan Singh in his speech acknowledged that people were angry and frustrated over corruption.
More on the Times of India