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AICC to be reconstituted in a few days: Digvijaya

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November 16, 2012


23:55  Indian Media, Wake Up Hanuman!:  In a piece titled Indian Media, Wake Up Hanuman, Justice Markandaya Katju, Chairman, Press Council, bemoans the media's obsession with trivial stories that do not concern the Real India: http://justicekatju.blogspot.in/2012/11/wake-up-hanuman.html
23:51  US embassy warns Americans of attacks in Greece:  
The United States has advised American citizens visiting Greek cities to beware of the possibility of "unprovoked harassment and violent attacks" against people who could be mistaken for foreign migrants. 

Greece has seen an increase in racist violence over the past year, with dark-skinned migrants attacked by groups of men armed with metal bars, knives and wooden bats. Tens of thousands of migrants have also been rounded up by police in a government crackdown on illegal immigration. 

In an update today to its travel advice, the embassy said US citizens most at risk are "those of African, Asian, Hispanic or Middle Eastern descent." The State Department's travel section also said the embassy "has confirmed reports of US African-American citizens detained by police authorities conducting sweeps for illegal immigrants in Athens."
23:50  US to lift Myanmar import ban ahead of Obama trip:  
The United States was expected today to lift its ban on most imports from Myanmar days before President Barack Obama pays a landmark visit to the fast-changing nation, officials said.

However, the Treasury Department was likely to maintain its ban on the import of gems, which are seen as a major source of corruption, a congressional aide told AFP.

The Obama administration was also expected to expand a list of companies in the nation formerly known as Burma with which US firms are barred from doing business, the aide said on condition of anonymity.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced in September -- as she met in New York with President Thein Sein, who has spearheaded reforms -- that the United States would be "normalising our commercial relationship" with Myanmar.
22:30  Railway Minister Bansal visits New Delhi station:  In order to take stock of the rush of passengers during the festive season, Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal today visited New Delhi station and saw the arrangements made to tackle the demand for trains.     

"I went around the station and am satisfied with the arrangement. Though I believe there will always be enough scope for further improvement," Bansal said after visiting a few platforms at the station.     

New Delhi station, which caters to about 300 trains and about 5 lakh passengers daily, witnessed a record of about 7.5 lakh passengers during the festive season.
22:25  Kingfisher pays May salary to low-rung staff:  The grounded Kingfisher Airlines today started paying salaries for the month of May to its lower level staff and some cabin crew. There was no word about salary dues of pilots and engineers.              

"Only cabin crew and low-rung staff have received their May salary," pilots and engineers said, adding, "we still have no word from the airline about our dues."               

The Vijay Mallya-owned private carrier, which is on the edge of bankruptcy with its flying licence suspended, had promised that the salary dues till May would be paid by Diwali.
21:44  Pak govt suspends mobile phone service in Karachi, Quetta:  Pakistan government today shut down the mobile phone network in the nation's biggest city Karachi and troubled Quetta city to thwart any terror attack on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Muharram.        

Interior Minister Rehman Malik yesterday ordered the shutting down of cellular networks and services in Karachi and Quetta, the provincial capital of the troubled Baluchistan province.        

People in the two cities were without cellular services since 10 am today until they were restored by late evening.
21:43  Freedom of speech, expression non-negotiable: Tewari :  Freedom of speech and expression are non-negotiable entities and there is a need to find a "golden mean" between this freedom and reasonable restrictions, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari today said.        

"I think at that at the end of the day there will be anybody who will say that the freedom of speech or expression is negotiable by any stretch of imagination," Tewari said.        

"The debate really is not about reasonable restrictions. The debate is about finding the golden mean. To what extent the freedom of speech and expression extend and where do reasonable restrictions take over. And who ultimately will police that space of reasonable restrictions," he said.
21:39  Aung San Suu Kyi arrives in Bangalore:  Nobel Peace Laureate and Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrived in Bangalore tonight on a two-day visit to the country's IT hub.    

She proceeded straight to a seven-star hotel, where she will halt for the night, Deputy Commissioner of Police (VIP Security) A N S Swamy said.    

She will leave for Ananthpur district in Andhra Pradesh in a helicopter from HAL airport at 8.45 am for a field visit to see the implementation of Mahatama Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme projects.
21:19  RBI governor warns against non-inclusive growth:  Reserve Bank of India Governor D Subbarao today warned against "casino banking" that has over-financialised the real economy, and called for inclusive growth to quell the growing disenchantment of the public.       

"A growth process that increases inequity lacks durability, and indeed even legitimacy, eventually threatening the economic and social stability. Evidence in support of this is overwhelming -- the Occupy Movement of the past year being just the latest manifestation of the discontent associated with inequitable growth," Subbarao said at a seminar.
21:06  Textbook row unfortunate: Centre:  Yet another textbook in a CBSE school has sparked a controversy by allegedly insinuating that non-vegetarians lie, cheat and commit crimes, with the government terming it as "unfortunate" and asking state bodies to remain alert about such content and monitor them.       

"Sensitivities of communities have to be kept in mind. I think it is unfortunate, an occasional aberration happens. But what I would request is that the state body should always be on alert, that is what we can advocate from this ministry," HRD Minister M M Pallam Raju told reporters while replying to queries on the Class VI textbook.
21:00  AICC to be reconstituted in a few days: Digvijaya:  The AICC will be reconstituted in the next few days, Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh said today.    

Asked whether Rahul Gandhi, who has been made head of the Election Coordination Committee, will be appointed No. 2 in the party, Singh said that was the wish of Congress workers.

To a question on whether Gandhi could be annointed as the prime ministerial candidate of the Congress, Singh said the party now has a prime minister and the issue will be decided after the elections.
20:58  BJP leaders meet Irish envoy, demand justice:  Amid outrage over the death of an Indian dentist in Ireland after refusal by doctors to terminate her pregnancy, a BJP delegation today met Irish Ambassador Feilim McLaughlin to lodge its protest and demanded speedy justice for the family.               

Pressing for a probe against hospital authorities, the delegation told the ambassador that Savita Halappanavar would have survived if her pregnancy was medically terminated well in time.               

Halappanavar died in Ireland last month from blood poisoning after doctors allegedly refused to terminate her 17-week-long pregnancy, telling her that "this is a Catholic country".
19:09  SRK on Bal Thackeray:  Shah Rukh, who had a fallout with Bal Thackeray after his party attacked King Khan's film 'My Name Is Khan', also spoke about his personal relationship with the Shiv Sena supremo.

He was one of the many celebrities who visited Thackeray's residence 'Matoshree' in Mumbai yesterday to inquire about the ailing leader's health condition. "I have personal relationship with Bala saheb, Uddhav and Raj. This kind of issue was suddenly brought up... I do understand the politics or the misunderstanding of it. I don't know how it went beyond that."
19:07  SRK: Patch up with Salman may happen with time :  More on Shah Rukh Khan at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit today.

SRK may have tweeted about dancing with fellow Bollywood star Salman Khan at the premiere of "Jab Tak Hai Jaan" but he does not believe they will reconcile anytime soon. The two actors, who have remained on unfriendly terms since their spat at Katrina Kaif's birthday party in 2008, crossed paths at the premiere of Yash Chopra's last film and were said to be cordial but Shah Rukh today said their patch up, if it happens, won't be public.

"We have had a little bit of personal issue. This is not the first time, it is about four years ago. We were very close for 20 years... We have certain things that are similar and there are certain things which we disagree on. So at this point of time we are on that plane of disagreement," Shah Rukh said at Hindustan Times Leadership Summit 2012.

SRK's co-star Katrina Kaif deftly avoided a comparison between the two stars by saying that she would love to see them in a film together, probably produced by her. Shah Rukh, initially, joked that he would do the film for Katrina's sake but when the question was put directly to him, the actor said he did not see the issue getting resolved over a film.

"There may come a time when these things get resolved but it will never be on a public platform. It will be a personal thing. It is a serious matter and it cannot be resolved by working in a film together or if someone asks us to try and resolve the matter. None else can resolve it for us, only we can do it..It will take time. It may happen someday." Post the premiere of 'JTHJ', SRK had tweeted, "...Had a lovely time dancing partying with all...Amit uncle, Salman, Aamir (sic)."
19:01  "Ram was a bad husband." So? Indrajit Hazra's take on Ram Jethmalani's now-famous comment. Read
18:50  Thackeray's pulse, heart rate, BP improving: Sena :  An update on Bal Thackeray's health at this hour.

Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut said, "From our face you can make out that Bal Thackeray's health is improving. His pulse rate, heart rate and blood pressure is also improving. Divine power and everybody's prayers is with him. Shiv Sainiks are his tonic and he will come back again to greet them. Doctors are monitoring his health continuously."

Shiv Sainiks continue to be outside Thackeray's residence where there is huge security and media presence. The 86-year-old leader was taken off life support system yesterday after he showed some signs of improvement.

Ever since Thackeray's condition deteriorated, his son and Sena executive president Uddhav stepped out for the second time last night to talk about his father's health.

Police bandobast outside Matoshree today. Pic: Hitesh Harisinghani
18:43  So what do our MPs really do in Parliament? :  As the government readies for the winter session of Parliament on the 22nd of this month, read the findings of an RTI application. The application asked for the amount of time which was spent in the Monsoon Session actually conducting the business of discussing and passing laws that affect us.

There's still time to contest the 2014 polls. Read
18:32  Freddie Mercury's really cute pics as a kid :  A new book, Freddie Mercury: The Great Pretender contains photographs from the private collections of his parents, and portraits by famous photographers including Lord Snowdon and Mick Rock. Read
18:23  The incredible Incredible India 2013 ad. Take a bow, India! Watch
18:13  Actually, Mitt, even a lot of white voters didn't want you:   Update on the now-forgotten US Presidential elections:  If you took a moment during the heat of the presidential race to drop by the Mitt Romney campaign office, you would have been shocked by the number of white people working to get him elected. About the only color you would have seen were the red and white in the Romney-Ryan posters.  Yet, Romney lost even with white voters. Read
17:49  India, Japan sign two agreements in Tokyo:  Here's the detail on the two MoUs signed between governments of India and Japan today. (Check our post at 15:24 for the first brief by the MEA). 

The first agreement was for cooperation on social security, and it was signed by Deepa Gopalan Wadhwa, Ambassador of India to Japan, and Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba.

The second pact signed was a Memorandum of Understanding between the Department of Atomic Energy of India and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan on cooperation in the rare earths industry in India.
17:37  Will PM's chicken tikka dinner soften-up BJP? :  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh invites the BJP top brass for dinner tomorrow in an apparent bid to reach out to the Opposition before the winter session of Parliament on November 22. 
17:35  Non-vegetarians lie, cheat, commit sex crimes: Textbook:  After an NDTV story which showed a Class 6 textbook that says meat-eaters cheat, lie and commit sex crimes, the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE) has said that school books used across the country are not monitored for content. Read more
17:31  Oh Kolkata! My Second Goodbye to Home:  On the New York Times blogs on India...

Late in June, I moved back to my hometown, Kolkata, after eight years in Delhi and one in New York. As I looked to kick off my freelance career, Kolkata was the obvious choice for a base there, I did not have to pay for rent or food (thanks, mom) and I thought I would rediscover the city that knew all my firsts.
Read
17:26  Army flag marches Kokrajhar, last 24 hrs incident free:  The army staged flag marches in Assam's curfew-bound Kokrajhar today where indefinite curfew is in force, with the district remaining incident free in the last 24 hours.

"The army and police are working around the clock to bring the situation under control and no untoward incident has been reported during the last 24 hours," Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told reporters at a function in Nalbari district here. Gogoi refuted the allegation that Congress politicians were involved in the violence. However, the chief minister said, if any politician of any party was found involved, stern measures will be taken.
17:19   Moving on from Mr Khan and Ms Kaif, read Madhu Kishwar's column for the Indian Express: Who's anti-women, Modi or the media? Read
17:14  I'd rather kiss a horse and ride my heroine: SRK :  The session with Shah Rukh and Katrina is being moderated by columnist Vir Sanghvi. Another comment he will be plagued with is: I'd rather kiss a horse and ride my heroine.

That's in response to Sanghvi's question on why he has always shied away from kissing on screen, but made an exception for Jab Tak...
17:05  SRK at HT Summit: Won't make up with Salman :  Shah Rukh Khan at the HT Leadership Summit says he has no regrets about dropping Ganguly from KKR.  He also addresses that other important question -- No, he will not make up with Salman on a public platform.

Nevermind, the disaster that is Jab Tak Hai Jaan, the man sure has charm and is far more erudite than any of his contemporaries.
16:54  Terror groups investing in Indian stock markets: Shinde:  Government has information that terror groups have been investing money in Indian stock markets, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said today.

Asked by reporters about "intelligence information" that Pakistan-based Jamaat-ud-Dawa is investing money in Indian stock exchanges, the minister said he had spoken at the Interpol meeting in Rome that the Government has "some information" that some terror groups were engaged in such activities.

Shinde, however, said he would not be able to name the groups involoved. "But we have information that a number of (such) elements are investing in stock exchange," he said after addressing a meeting of the Southern Zonal Council. 
16:49  Spanish terror suspect Raul Angel Fuentes Villota arrested in Britain after being on run for 17 year, reports BBC. Details in a bit.
16:42  Ireland assures "full coopearation" over abortion death:  Irish ambassador to India Feilim McLaughlin, who was summoned by the Ministry of External Affairs today over the death of 31-year-old Savita Halappanavar, says he will ensure full cooperation in the probe India has asked for. India is awaiting the results of two probes ordered by Irish authorities in the matter.

Savita Halappanavar had pleaded with doctors in Ireland over three days for an abortion, which was refused because the country was catholic does not allow it. Doctors said they could still feel the baby's heartbeat. 

India wants the enquiry to be conducted independently. 
16:29  Govt girds its loins as opposition promises Parl strom :  Gearing up for opposition attack on FDI during the upcoming Parliament session, government today asserted that it was ready to face any situation, including a No-Confidence Motion, even as it was reaching out to political parties to ensure passage of key bills.

It ruled out any possibility of mid-term polls, saying the government will last its full term of five years till 2014.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal and I&B Minister Manish Tewari, who were fielded before the media ahead of the Winter Session beginning November 22, said the government is ready to discuss any issue under any rule with the permission of the Chair.

"The Parliament session has a very heavy legislative agenda. We are reaching out to the various political parties to carry through these agenda in the four weeks that we have for the session," said the Finance Minister.
16:24  Double O Sissy:  Why does the planet's No.1 spy never go to the really dangerous places? Read
16:19  Winter storm in Parl: BJP, Left swear to oppose FDI:  The issue of FDI in retail is expected to generate a storm in the Winter Session of Parliament beginning next week, with the Left parties today announcing their decision to move motions entailing voting to oppose the government's decision. At a time when BJP and several other parties have also opposed FDI in retail, the Left leaders said they have appealed to all parties to support the motions in both Houses of Parliament.
16:13  NIPFP study finds large returns from Aadhaar project :  The National Institute of Public Finance and Policy released a study on a cost-benefit analysis of the Aadhaar programme, showing that Aadhaar can plug problems ofleakages and yield very high returns to the government. This study is significant in the light of the current debates on how to reduce the subsidy bill. Read
15:59  Just in case you bump into Chinese leaders Xi Jinping or Li Keqiang -- here's how you pronounce their names. Read
15:54  The woman who rebuffed Hitchcock's advances:  In other news: Alfred Hitchcock sabotaged Tippi Hedren's movie career after she rejected his advances. But the heroine of 'The Birds' and 'Marnie' says she has no regrets. Read
15:47  SPs volley: Snap Lok Sabha poll likely in Feb?:  The Samajwadi Partys decision to declare its first list of candidates for the Lok Sabha elections, 18 months before they are scheduled to be held in 2014, has set political circles in Delhi abuzz.

The SPs political googly, combined with Finance Minister P Chidambarams comment about the growth rate sliding to 5.5 this year, has also hit the Sensex.

The partys decision to release the first list of candidates and declare that it is ready for LS polls, months before the actual election, has led to speculations of a wide variety. Political experts are wondering if the SPs announcement indicates the possibility of snap Parliamentary polls being held in February 2013.

15:43  NCW to take up Savita's case with External Affairs Ministry:  The National Commission for Women today said it would take up with the External Affairs Ministry the death of the Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar in Ireland after doctors allegedly refused to terminate her 17-week pregnancy on the ground that it was a 'Catholic country'.

"The Indian government should take action and I will take it up with the External Affairs Ministry on Monday that the Irish government ease the strict abortion rules on humanitarian grounds," NCW chairperson Mamata Sharma told PTI here.

"Two deaths in once instance; what humanitarian grounds are they (Irish government) talking about?" she asked on the sidelines of a workshop on 'Empowerment of Women - an instrument for poverty alleviation' here. Halappanavar, who was admitted to University Hospital Galway in west Ireland last month, died of septicaemia after doctors rejected her repeated pleas for termination of the 17 week-old miscarried foetus.

The MEA, meanwhile, has summoned the Irish envoy to South Block now.
15:33  We will celebrate victory on Dec 25: Narendra Modi:  Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi recently hosted a lunch party for media based in the state. While showing off his confidence, Modi assured the journalists present, "You may find this party lacklustre, but we will have a much bigger party on December 25 to celebrate the BJP's victory in the assembly polls." 
15:24  Syed Akbaruddin, the MEA spokesperson tweets that India and Japan have signed an MoU in Tokyo on cooperation in the Rare Earths Industry. This will  strengthen strategic and global partnership.

Remember, the PM cancelled his trip to Japan, scheduled this week.
15:16  Coal India eyes forests... big time:  The chairman of the world's largest coal producer, the state-run Coal India Ltd., has a solution in mind to solve the country's coal shortage: mine forest areas in a big way."Our future growth has to come from forest areas,' S. Narsing Rao told India Real Time in a recent interview. Read
15:09  Deadly attack in Myanmar ahead of Obama visit:  Myanmar state media say ethnic rebels in the country's north have staged a deadly attack on a prison convoy. The attack highlights a violence-plagued corner of Myanmar just days before a historic visit by President Barack Obama.

White House officials said yesterday that Obama would use his visit to the former pariah state to push for "urgent action" in areas where progress is needed most notably freeing political prisoners and ending ethnic tensions in western Rakhine state and northern Kachin state.

State media reported today that the latest attack occurred in Kachin state, with ethnic Kachin rebels ambushing a five-car prison convoy. The attack on Wednesday left two convicts dead and 14 injured. Obama's visit to Myanmar on Monday is the centerpiece of his first foreign tour since winning the re-election.
14:56  2014 polls: Mulayam, Dimple Yadav in SP's 1st list :  Samajwadi Party today declared its first list of candidates for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections with its president Mulayam Singh Yadav seeking another term from his Mainpuri seat.

"The party today releases its first list of 55 candidates for the coming elections, including 18 sitting MPs and MLAs, one minister and Speaker of the state Assembly," party spokesman Ram Gopal Yadav said.

Claiming that the party was taking a lead in declaring its nominees, Yadav said that there was a possibility that there would not be any changes in the list but can be done in extreme conditions.

Other prominent names in the list include chief minister Akhilesh Yadav's wife Dimple Yadav, who is the sitting MP from Kannauj and his cousin and sitting MP from Badaun Dharmendra Yadav. 
14:50  I feel I'm partly a citizen of India, says nostalgic Suu Kyi :   This is what Nobel Laureate and Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said during her visit to her alma mater Lady Sri Ram (LSR) College for Women in New Delhi today. The dignified and graceful Suu Kyi said she felt that she was partly a citizen of India, given that she had acquired her college degree from her alma mater.   Suu Kyi was given a standing ovation when she entered the college auditorium, where according to her, she learned how to sing.

"Coming back to Lady Shri Ram College, it's not just coming home, it's coming to a place where I can feel that my hopes have not been in vain. This is what Lady Shri Ram and its young girls have done for me," said Suu Kyi.  

Accompanied by Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor, Suu Kyi was all smiles, while sitting on stage and listening to a choir recitation of a poem by Rabindranath Tagore.  

"When they were singing Tagore's song, and then, I looked at them, and they looked back at me, I could feel that they understood what I wanted out of life, for them, as well as for me and my people. Our hopes are all the same," she added.  

Describing her emotional bonding with the college and India, she said: "I feel myself partly a citizen of India- a citizen of love and honour."

The 67-year-old leader said she was deeply moved by Tagore's song and added that her optimism had been rejuvenated. "I hope that in Burma (Myanmar), we can build the kind of democratic politics, where opponents in the political fields can be friends, for the sake of the country, and friends for the sake of their own humanity. This is the kind of democratic politics that I would like to see in Burma," Suu Kyi added.
14:40  Economy growing at 5.5%, expect more growth: PC:  In other news, finance minister P Chidambaram who is addressing the GoM news conference says the UPA was reaching out to political parties to seek support for the passage of bills in the winter session of Parliament. "The Indian economy growing at 5.5 per cent and the government is taking steps to revive the economy and we expect growth will be better in the third and fourth quarters of the current fiscal.  

"The forthcoming winter session of Parliament will have a heavy legislative agenda," said Chidambaram.
14:35  Sainiks tell Prasanna Zore that they did not spare NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal (a former Shiv Sainik) when he came calling last evening and (for good measure) they abused Manohar Joshi as well and Rane would get the same treatment. 
14:22  Sainiks warn missing Narayan Rane: Face our wrath!:  Shiv Sainiks our correspondent Prasanna Zore spoke to about whether Narayan Rane would arrive at Matoshree said that even if he did he would have to be prepared to face their anger. 
14:08  Narayan to visit former mentor this evening?:  And so, Narayan Rane, one of the only former Shiv Sena politicians has still not made his way to Matoshree. Rane, who is now with the Congress climbed the political ladder via the Shiv Sena. In fact, he Bal Thackeray used to be his mentor. But Rane has not marked his attendance at Matoshree in the last 36 hours that the Sena supremo fell seriously ill.

Prasanna Zore who spoke to Shiv Sainiks outside Matoshree say they believe he will be here this evening, but nobody was willing to back it up with a confirmation. 
14:00  'Sense of hurt' due to 26/11 not 'yet over': India:   In other news... Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he was unlikely to visit Pakistan given India's "sense of hurt" caused by the Mumbai terror attacks, a highly placed government source said here today.

Noting that there was "enthusiasm" on part of Pakistan leadership to see Singh visiting that country, the source said, "We are receiving some interesting positive signals but at the same time there are expectations that remain unfulfilled."

Asserting that "this is not a pre-conditional approach", the source said, "there are things that have hurt us very gravely and that sense of hurt is yet not over". "We owe it to our people that we have not forgotten it," he said, referring to the 2008 Mumbai carnage in which 166 persons were killed.
13:47  Only Uddhav, Rashmi, docs can see Thackeray:  Only Uddhav, his wife Rashmi and a team of doctors from the Lilavati Hospital are permitted inside the Sena boss' room on the second floor, sources close to the family said. Meanwhile, people from the tinsel town, politicians and common Shiv Sena workers continue to throng 'Matoshree'.

Prominent among those who turned up today included yoga guru Ramdev and actors Suresh Oberoi and son Vivek. Shiv Sainiks hailing Thackeray and chanting slogans like "Jai Bhavani" and "Jai Shivaji" remained gathered outside Thackeray's residence where there is huge security and media presence.
13:42  'Thackeray will have quick recovery':   Arvind Sachdev, a practitioner of what is apparently called 'Rohini Vidya' that uses positive energy to treat patients, says Bal Thackeray will have a speedy recovery.
He says the waves of energy he felt yesterday outside Matoshree were not positive, but today there is a perceptible difference. He says Shiv Sainiks asked him to come to help the ailing Sena supremo. -- Prasanna Zore at Matoshree.
13:35  A day later, still no medical bulletin on Thackeray:  Though no medical bulletin has been issued ever since Thackeray's condition worsened suddenly on Wednesday night, a doctor attending on him said on the condition of anonymity that "the situation remains largely unchanged. His condition is being constantly monitored."

He refused to part with any further information on how Thackeray's vital parameters were. He is said to be suffering from respiratory problems and is being administered oxygen. The 86-year-old leader was taken off life support system yesterday after he showed some signs of improvement.
13:31  At Matoshree: Actor Milind Gunaji, his wife and son mark their attendance. ACP Vasant Dhoble (the cop who struck terror in the heart's of Mumbai's partygoers) enters the Thackeray residence.    
13:06  Juhi Chawla, Shantaram at Matoshree:  Prasanna Zore reports that Baba Ramdev and the Oberois have been inside Matoshree for at least an hour. Are still waiting for an audience with Uddhav?

Meanwhile, Juhi Chawla and the legendary filmmaker V Shantaram's son, Kiran, have entered Matoshree.

Sena supporters have begun an yagna outside Matoshree. Party workers from across Maharashtra -- Amravati, Bhusaval, Buldhana are trickling in.
13:01  Abortion row: Husband helplessly watched wife die :  The Savita Halappanavar story: A distraught husband has described how he held his wife's hand as she died from blood poisoning caused by a miscarriage after Irish doctors refused to perform an abortion. 

Praveen Halappanavar, 34, said that he begged doctors to carry out the procedure but they refused to do so because she was 'in a Catholic country' and the foetus's heartbeat was still present.Instead, he claims, the 31-year-old dentist, who was 17 weeks pregnant, lay in agony at Galway University Hospital for days until she succumbed to septicaemia.

Read more 
12:58  PM favours self regulation by media:   Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said censorship was no answer to irresponsible journalism and favoured self regulation by media. "As a country, we believe in complete independence of the media from external control," Singh said in a message on National Press Day today.

"It is true that sometimes irresponsible journalism can have serious consequences for social harmony and public order, which the public authorities have an obligation to maintain, but censorship is no answer," Singh said.
12:49  Ramdev drops in at Matoshree:   Among the steady stream of visitors to Matoshree today, is yoga guru Baba Ramdev. The Oberois -- actors Suresh and Vivek, also marked their presence.

Bollywood turned out in large numbers yesterday -- Amitabh Bachchan and his son Abhishek, Rishi Kapoor with brother Randhir, Salim Khan and sons Salman and Arbaaz, Manoj Kumar, Madhur Bhandarkar, Bappi Lahiri, Sanjay Dutt with Manayata.

Baba Ramdev at Matoshree today. Pic: Hitesh Harisinghani
12:43  Delhi gupshup:  Our Delhi sources tell us that senior BJP leader LK Advani may not attend
the Central Election Committee of his party, which is expected to finalise the candidates for the Gujarat Assembly. The CEC is to meet by Monday.

And another snippet: The AICC and the PMO has apparently received a message from the DMK today that says: The DMK is with you. To respect this sentiment, a senior Union Minister may be rushed to Chennai to  meet Karunanidhi by next week before the winter session of Parliament commences on November 22.

If a Congress emissary is indeed sent to Chennai, the DMK is sure to tom tom it as a loss of  authority for TR Baalu, whose wings have been clipped.
12:25  PM to get crucial new 'eyes and ears' by end of Nov:   In the world outside Matoshree... news comes in that Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh recently constituted a high-power search committee to identify officers for the posts of Director of Intelligence Bureau and Secretary Research and Analysis Wing. These two posts are considered to be the 'eyes and ears' of a prime minister.

The posts will be filled by end of November, but Dr Singh has relegated the responsibility of selecting the chiefs to the National security advisor (Shiv Shankar Menon), Principal Secretary Pulok Chatterji and Cabinet Secretary.  Ajit Seth. According to the internal assessment -- 12 names have been
shortlisted for the DIB and four for Secretary RAW.
12:11  And the OB vans and journalists parked outside Matoshree remain as does Bollywood making its presence felt. Suresh Oberoi and Vivek Oberoi have just dropped in to visit the Thackerays, reports Prasanna Zore.

A Sena leader we spoke to says Thackeray's blood pressure and pulse rate are normal. A doctor, who went in to Matoshree a while ago, has just left without speaking to the media.

Former Maharashtra chief minister and senior Sena leader Manohar Joshi addresses the press: Bal Thackeray's health is slowly improving.
12:04  Security cordon outside Matoshree stays:  There is no let-up in the security cordon outside Matoshree. At least 500 policemen, and personnel from the Rapid Action Force are maintaining vigil. Police trying to maintain peace as supporters raise slogans asking the Sena chief to come out and greet them.

Here's the update on Bal Thackeray's health: Thackeray has been under the care of a team of specialists from Lilavati Hospital at his home. According to party leaders, virtually an ICU had been created at Matoshree with all emergency equipment and medical and para-medical staff on duty round-the-clock.  He is however, on life support and while still critical, his health is believed to be improving.

That's a picture of the security outside Matoshree yesterday.
11:56  Crowd halves, slogans double at Matoshree today:  Rediff.com's Prasanna Zore who is at Matoshree today gives us an update. The number of supporters outside Bal Thackeray's residence at Bandra (East) have almost halved. But there's a difference in the sentiments -- yesterday, the thousands who had squatted or stood on the road outside Matoshree for hours at end, seemed worried, restless and then angry at the almost complete blackout of information from the family.
Now, that Thackeray has been on the mend, his supporters have been baying for a 'darshan' of their 'Saheb'. Prasanna reports that the cries of "Darshan dya, darshan dya, Balasaheb darshan dya" are at fever pitch. 
11:45  Eye on Winter Session, PM to host dinner for UPA leaders today:  Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh will host a dinner for United Progressive Alliance leaders today in an attempt to consolidate his government's strategy ahead of the Winter Session of Parliament.

Dr Singh's dinner with UPA leaders comes close on the heels of his similar interactions with leaders of crucial outside supporters Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). 

He hosted  a dinner for SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh last week and followed it with lunch for BSP chief Mayawati on Sunday. The government is facing the prospect of dealing with a opposition-sponsored motion entailing voting on FDI and even a possible threat of a no-confidence motion.

BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad had earlier said that his party would strongly oppose the government decision on FDI in multi-brand retail in the forthcoming Winter Session of Parliament.
11:34  Bal Thackeray's health stable: Uddhav:  Mumbai back to normal as Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray's health improved last evening. Here's an update: Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray said late last night that Thackeray's condition was ''stable''.
 
"Our feelings and wishes for him are the same. His condition has been stable since Wednesday. His treatment is underway. I repeat what I said on Wednesday that we will not give up. The power of our prayers will help him recover. Let's continue praying for him. I have full faith that he will recover," he added.

Read our live commentary yesterday for what happened through the day at Matoshree.
 
Earlier on Thursday the who''s who of Mumbai queued up to call on Sena chief at the latter''s Matoshree residence in suburban Bandra here.
11:30  MoS HRD was on the panel at Lady Shriram College felicitating Aung San Suu Kyi. Tharoor tweets: Privileged 2b part of the emotional return of Aung San Suu Kyi to her alma mater. Lady Shri Ram made it especially memorable w/a superb show. 
11:24  Dying declaration not sole criteria for conviction: HC:  The Bombay High Court has observed that a dying declaration cannot be the sole criteria for conviction and in case of two contrasting views, the one favourable to the accused should be adopted.

A division bench of justices Pratap Hardas and Ashok Bhangale said, "The criminal court has to bear in mind that if two views are possible upon the evidence led -- one pointing towards guilt of the accused while the other towards his innocence -- then the one favourable to the accused should be adopted to prevent miscarriage of justice which can result by conviction of an innocent." 
11:18  Abortion row: India to formally take up issue with Ireland today:  India's envoy to Ireland will today formally raise New Delhi's concerns over the death of Savita Halappanavar, an Indian dentist who died in a hospital there from blood poisoning after doctors refused to terminate her pregnancy.

"I think saving the life of the mother is of prime importance, if you can't save the life of the child," said External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.The Irish health authority (HSE) has launched an inquiry which the Health Minister said must "stand up to the scrutiny of the world." Read more here
11:16  LSR remembers student Suu Kyi:  Suu Kyi  is at her alma mater the Lady Sriram College in New Delhi. Read the Times of India story: A teacher remembers pupil Suu Kyi. Read
10:57  Nitish goes in search of Chanakya:  There was a day thousands of years ago that a mastermind called Kautilya decided to leave the faculty of Taxila University, the most hallowed portal of learning of its time.

He descended these hills and travelled far down the plains to arrive in Patliputra and become Chanakya, the philosopher who inspired Chandragupt to emperorship and empire.

Yesterday, that journey was traced all the way from the reverse end. Patliputra's current king, Nitish Kumar, arrived at Taxila, but there was neither sign nor signature of Chanakya to be found. Read more of the Telegraph story here.
10:50  Indian Ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao on Ami Bera winning US the Congressional elections: Thrilled to know about Ami Bera's victory in election to US Congress! Here's a pic from White House Diwali function!
10:45  Akhilesh gives UP cops free hand to act against criminals:  Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav yesterday said he had given a free hand to police to take action against criminals, and accepted that his government was being targeted on the law and order front in spite of its work in health, education and other sectors.

Speaking at the launch of Women Power Line, a toll-free helpline for women to lodge complaints of harassment by indecent phone calls, SMSes and MMSes, Akhilesh said he had directed police officers to make district-wise lists of persons who were disturbing law and order and troubling people. "The previous government had also promised to prepare a list of 500 criminals but nobody got any such list,' he said. Read more here
10:39  NRI's energy drink under scanner for 13 deaths in US:  A popular energy drink, produced by a company founded by an Indian-American billionaire, has come under the scanner in the US after reports of 13 deaths possibly linked to the energy shots.

However, Lucknow-born CEO of '5-Hour Energy', Manoj Bhargava dismissed the allegations against his firm as "false" and "ridiculous". The popular energy drink is being investigated by the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) after 13 deaths over the last four years were reported, citing the drink as probable cause.

The New York Times said since 2009, 5-Hour Energy has been mentioned in about 90 complaints filed with the FDA, including more than 30 that involved serious or life-threatening injuries like heart attacks, convulsions and even a spontaneous abortion.
10:31  Suu Kyi visits her college in New Delhi :  On Day 4 of her visit to India, Myanmar's pro-democracy icon Aung Sang Suu Kyi is currently visited her college in New Delhi -- Lady Sri Ram College.

"I always knew I would come back to this hall where I had learned to sing one of Gandhi's favourite songs - Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram. I feel I am partly a citizen of India," she said as she delivered a speech at the college.

Addressing students of her college she said, "The openness of youth, the generosity of youth, the tremendous warmth that comes from young hearts that have not yet learned to be bitter and resentful... these hearts must carry us forward," she said.       

Suu Kyi was a political science student at Lady Sri Ram College in the early 60s.
10:09  Mumbai expected to get back to business :  With Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray's health improving, offices and corporate houses are expected to work normally today. Many shops, who downed shutters yesterday, are also expected to get back to business.

Most markets and offices, especially those in Bandra and Dadar, home to the Sena's headquarters, remained closed on Thursday.
09:39  Ami Bera creates history, wins Congressional elections:  Ami Bera today won the Congressional election from California, creating history by becoming only the third Indian-American ever to have been elected for the US House of Representatives.   

While the counting of votes is still going on, local daily Sacramento Bee said that Bera has defeated incumbent Republican Dan Lungren for the election to California's Seventh Congressional District held on November 6.   

The Sacramento County Registrar of Voters announced today that Bera increased his lead against Lungren in the race and is now ahead by 2.2 per cent and leads by 5,696 votes.   
09:21  In Sena strongholds police keep vigil all night :  Shiv Sainiks heaved a sigh of relief last night as Uddhav Thackeray stepped out of Matoashree and said that Bal Thackeray was fine and will get better.

However, the city continues to be on high alert with 48,000 policemen patrolling the streets. Outside Matoshree, anti-riot squads and the Rapid Action Force kept vigil all night.

Sena strongholds like Lower Parel and Dadar, home of the party headquarters, are well guarded.
09:04  UP: 12-year-old girl raped at SP MLA's residence:  A 12-year-old girl was allegedly gang-raped by a domestic help of the Samajwadi Party MLA from Sadar, and his associates at the legislator's house in Balrampur, police said.

Rakesh and some of his associates allegedly abducted the girl while she had gone to attend to nature's call on Tuesday night and took her to MLA Jagram Paswan's house. The MLA was not present in the premises at the time of the incident.

She was locked in a room for 21 hours and allegedly gang-raped, police said, adding that the girl was later dropped at a secluded place on Wednesday night using the MLA's vehicle.
08:30  PM to host dinner for UPA leaders today :  Bracing up for an Opposition onslaught in Parliament, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will host dinner for UPA leaders today to firm up a joint strategy on various issues like FDI that are expected to come up during the session beginning next week.

Singh's dinner with UPA leaders comes close on the heels of his similar interactions with leaders of crucial outside supporters Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party. He hosted dinner for SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son Akhilesh last week and followed it with lunch for BSP chief Mayawati on Sunday.

The PM is reaching out to allies and outside supporters as the government faces the prospect of a motion entailing voting on FDI and even a possible threat of the no-confidence motion.
04:28  Israel vs Hamas battle plays out on Twitter:   While the Israeli army and Gaza militants were busy pounding each other with rockets in the past two days, representatives for both sides fired salvos across the Twittersphere.

Accounts for the Israeli military and Hamas' military wing, the al-Qassam Brigade, have tweeted "live updates" from the war for their followers, and on Wednesday morning @IDFSpokesperson announced the launch of a massive operation in Gaza, which began with a targeted attack against the leader of Hamas' military wing, Ahmed Jabari.

Read more about this HERE
04:25  BP to pay record $4.5bn over Deepwater oil spill:  
BP has received the biggest criminal fine in US history as part of a $4.5bn settlement related to the fatal 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Two BP workers have been indicted on manslaughter charges and an ex-manager charged with misleading Congress.

The Department of Justice (DoJ) said BP must hand over $4bn. The sum includes a $1.26bn fine as well as payments to wildlife and science organisations.

As part of the agreement, BP will also plead guilty to 14 criminal charges.

The company apologised for its role and said it regretted the loss of life.

BP will pay an additional $525m to the Securities and Exchange Commission over a period of three years, the firm said.

The resolution with the DoJ includes a record criminal fine of $1.26bn, as well as $2.4bn to be paid to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and $350m to be paid to the National Academy of Sciences, over a period of five years.
04:17  BBC pays out 185,000 over false child sex abuse claims:  
The BBC will pay a former British politician 185,000 in damages over a news report that led to him being falsely accused of child sex abuse, it said on Thursday.

"The BBC has agreed terms with Lord McAlpine to settle his claim of libel against the Corporation," said a BBC statement. 

"The settlement is comprehensive and reflects the gravity of the allegations that were wrongly made." 

The statement confirmed that Alistair McAlpine, who was appointed Conservative Party treasurer under Margaret Thatcher, would receive 185,000 plus costs and that a statement would be read in court to apologise for the allegations.

McAlpine responded: "I am delighted to have reached a quick and early settlement with the BBC. I have been conscious that any settlement will be paid by the licence fee-payers, and have taken that into account in reaching agreement with the BBC.

"We will now be continuing to seek settlements from other organisations that have published defamatory remarks and individuals who have used Twitter to defame me."
02:15  Israel moves troops toward Gaza:  
Palestinian militants barraged Israel with more than 200 rockets today, killing three people as Israel pressed a punishing campaign of airstrikes on militant targets across the Gaza Strip. Three rockets targeted the densely populated Tel Aviv area, setting off air raid sirens in brazen attacks that threatened to trigger an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza.

Late in the day, Israel signaled a ground operation may be imminent as forces moved toward the border area with Gaza. At least 12 trucks were seen transporting tanks and armored personnel carriers, and a number of buses carrying soldiers arrived. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said he had authorized the army to call-up additional reservists for possible action. The army said it was prepared to draft up to 30,000 additional troops.

"I ordered the military today to widen the draft of reserve soldiers in order to be able to be ready for any development," Barak said. Military officials said the moves were to prepare for the possibility of a ground invasion, but stressed no decision had been made. Israel TV stations, however, said a ground offensive was expected tomorrow.
00:46  Who made Javed Akhtar a lyricist?:  With his writing partner Salim Khan, Javed Akhtar wrote some of the most memorable Hindi films of all time. Movies like Zanjeer, Deewar, Sholay... But the son of the celebrated Urdu poet Jan Nisar Akhtar had one man to thank for making him a lyricist, the avatar he is better known today. In this The Hindu interview (http://www.thehindu.com/arts/music/singing-away-to-glory/article4098414.ece?homepage=true#.UKU54qCXvOc.mailto), Javedsaab reveals who it was. (Irony: Javedsaab did not write the songs for the director's last movie.)
00:40  Who sang the title song in JabTak Hain Jaan?:  a. Sunidhi Chauhan b. Alka Yagnik c. Shakthisree Gopalan d. Nayatara Bhatkal Give up? Shakthisree sang the number and you can read more about her in this The Hindu profile: http://www.thehindu.com/arts/music/singing-away-to-glory/article4098414.ece?homepage=true#.UKU54qCXvOc.mailto
00:35  Does Anybody Care?:  A depressing report in The Hindu on the awful condition of the thousands who fled their homes after violence in Assam's Kokrajhar district: http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/rehabilitation-faultlines-threaten-fragile-peace/article4098788.ece?homepage=true
00:31  A New US Defence Strategy:  From the Washington, DC think-tank, the Stimson Center, A New US Defence Strategy: http://www.stimson.org/images/uploads/research-pdfs/A_New_US_Defense_Strategy_for_a_New_Era.pdf
00:27  To clip the CAG's wings?:  Talk of implementing the Shunglu report, argues former civil servant Ramaswamy R Iyer in the Hindu, is a veneer for the government's eagerness to clip the Comptroller and Auditor General's wings: http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/what-shunglu-report-its-plain-anger/article4098791.ece?homepage=true
00:17  David Petraeus sex scandal amuses Taliban:  
The sex scandal that has brought down CIA chief David Petraeus may be causing heartache in the Washington security establishment but the affair has prompted laughter among the Taliban.

Petraeus resigned last week to pre-empt revelations of an affair with his married biographer Paula Broadwell, bringing to an end a glittering military career that included a spell commanding NATO forces fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

A stony-faced Taliban official burst into laughter at the mention of the Petraeus affair during an interview with AFP in northwest Pakistan this week.

"... But all Americans are the same, it's nothing new," the official said, who did not want to be named.

The Islamists dealt harshly with adulterers during their brutal 1996-2001 rule in Afghanistan, dishing out public floggings for offenders.

The traditional moral code of the Pashtuns, the main ethnic group the Taliban draw their members from, also demands severe punishment for adulterers. 

"From a Pashtun point of view, Petraeus should be shot by relatives from his mistress's family," the Taliban official explained.
00:15  Crime pays in Assam:  A startling report in The Telegraph, Kolkata reveals that 21 tea estate managers have been murdered: http://www.telegraphindia.com/1121115/jsp/frontpage/story_16196966.jsp#.UKU5NaNhiK1
00:13  Top headlines at this hour:  Bal Thackeray stable, I haven't given up hope: Uddhav

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