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Kingfisher extends lockout till October 12

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October 04, 2012

23:25  Kingfisher extends lockout till October 12:  Ailing Kingfisher Airlines tonight extended its partial lockout by a week till October 12 as talks between its management and employees failed to break the deadlock over non-payment of salaries for the last seven months. 

The beleaguered airline, meanwhile, got some reprieve as bankers agreed to release funds from escrow accounts, which is likely to release up to Rs 60 crore for the carrier. 

In an apparent fallout of the worsening crisis in Vijay Mallya-owned private carrier, the wife of one of its Delhi- based employees allegedly committing suicide, blaming financial stress due to non-payment of salary to her husband for five months.
22:59  Troubled US nuke plant aims to restart reactor:  The operator of a troubled US nuclear power plant today proposed to restart one of the plant's twin reactors, months after a break in a tube carrying radioactive water. 

The San Onofre nuclear power plant is a major source of power in the stretch of Southern California between Los Angeles and San Diego, but it has been shut down since January 31. Investigators later found that a botched computer analysis led to excessive wear on hundreds of tubes inside the plant's steam generators. 

About 7.4 million Californians live within 50 miles of San Onofre, which can power 1.4 million homes.
22:42  Pak politician vows anti-drone march to go ahead:  Pakistani politician Imran Khan today insisted a planned "peace march" to the country's restive tribal areas would go ahead despite security fears and doubts over whether the authorities would allow it. 

Khan, the cricketing legend who now heads his own party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf -- Pakistan Movement for Justice -- plans to lead a convoy from Islamabad to South Waziristan at the weekend to protest against US drone strikes. 

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf plans to take Western journalists and campaigners on the march, including the British head of charity Reprieve Clive Stafford Smith and 30 American anti-drone campaigners.
22:33  Rupee is stabilising: Chidambaram:  Finance Minister P Chidambaram today said the rupee is stabilising. The local currency today bounced back to 51-level after five-and-a-half months by gaining 42 paise to close at 51.74 against the US dollar stocks amid hopes that the Cabinet will clear the next wave of big-ticket reforms which is expected to see a rush of capital inflows. 

"The rupee is stabilising", Chidambaram told reporters in reply to a particular query. He was briefing the media about the decisions taken by the Cabinet. The Cabinet decisions opening up the pension sector to foreign investment and raising the FDI cap in insurance to 49 per cent.
21:50  Kingfisher employees take out candle light march in Mumbai:   About 100 Kingfisher employees, including engineers and pilots, today took out a candle light march from domestic airport to Kingfisher house in Mumbai to protest against the death of a technician's wife, who allegedly committed suicide due to financial stress in Delhi.

"We have taken out this to condole the untimely death our colleague's wife, who committed suicide due to financial stress. We strongly condemn the agony airline management has given to us by not paying salaries for past seven months," said Captain Yatin Pandit, one of the organisers of the march.

"We pray for the peace of the departed soul and vow to continue our agitation," Pandit said, adding, "So far we have not received any communication from the management condoling the death of our colleague's wife."

Meanwhile, the KFA pilots and engineers are planning to take out a protest march in full uniform tomorrow from domestic airport to Kingfisher house to press for their demands.
21:37  Govt approves 12th Five-Year Plan:  The government today approved the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-17) document that aims to achieve annual average economic growth rate of 8.2 per cent, down from 9 per cent envisaged earlier, in view of fragile global recovery.

The Union Cabinet discussed and approved the draft 12th Plan document, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said. The document has already been approved by the full Planning Commission headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on September 15.

The document will now be placed before the National Development Council, the apex decision making body, for the final approval.
21:28  We will support no trust vote against govt: BJP:   The Bharatiya Janata Party said today that it will support the no trust motion against the government.

Earlier in the day, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee pushed for moving a no-confidence motion to oust the Manmohan Singh government and asked all United Progressive Alliance partners to pull out of his ministry, describing as 'immoral and unethical' decisions on Foreign Direct Investment in insurance and pension sectors.

The Samajwadi Party will take a call on supporting UPA 2 after a meet.

The Telugu Desam Party said that they oppose the UPA's reforms.
21:09  5 airports upgraded to international status:  The government on Thursday decided to upgrade five airports -- Tiruchirapalli, Coimbatore, Mangalore, Lucknow and Varanasi -- to the international level.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, at its meeting in New Delhi, approved a proposal for the upgradation of the five airports which have the required infrastructure in place like large terminal, immigration and customs facility to handle international operations.

"These airports already have infrastructure like immigration and customs to handle the international operations. In fact some of them already do have some international flights. With this (decision) we expect that these airports will be able to attract more international flights and travellers," Finance Minister P Chidambaram said after the CCEA meeting.
20:41  Cabinet briefing on reforms in pension, insurance :  After the Cabinet nod for FDI in insurance and pension, Finance Minister P Chidambaram addressed the media. Here are the highlights of the briefing:

Cabinet approved the declaration of 5 international airports: Lucknow, Varanasi, Tiruchirapalli, Mangalore, Coimbatore.

Cabinet has reviewed rates of risk allowance, hospital care allowance, patient care allowance.

Alternatives: Risk insurance schemes, packages didn't work out.

Cabinet approved amendments to Insurance Bill, 2008.

Public sector insurance companies will adopt the policies of govt; benefit will go to private sector insurance companies.

Cabinet also cleared competition act. Under amendment, no sector is exempted from competition act. That enables exemption to certain specific cases, like merger of two banks where one bank is a failing bank. That can be exempted.
20:26  Cabinet approves amendments to Competition Act: PC:  Cabinet has approved the amendments to Competition Act, Chidambaram said on Thursday. 

All sectors are now under Competition Commission of India, said Chidambaram.

Cabinet has also approved the 12th Five Year Plan draft document, said the finance minister. It has also approved the payment of Rs 130 crore to ITI for payment of salary.
20:26  Kingfisher extends lockout by 3 days:  Ailing Kingfisher Airlines today extended its partial lockout by another three days till Sunday as talks between its management and employees failed to end the deadlock over non-payment of salaries for the last seven months. 

The situation was further marred with the wife of one of its Delhi-based employees allegedly committing suicide, blaming financial stress due to non-payment of salary to her husband for five months. 

The airline also announced in the National Stock Exchange that its Company Secretary Bharath Raghavan has quit the company.
20:10  Will engage all parties over reforms: Chidambaram:   Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Thursday said the UPA government will engage all other political parties to pass the Pension Bill and Insurance Bill in Parliament.
19:38  Furious Mamata threatens to oust UPA govt:  Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Thursday threatened to oust the ruling UPA government, stating that she will meet President Pranab Mukherjee and leaders of other major parties to oust the "minority government".

Banerjee also said she will move a No Confidence Motion in Parliament against the ruling government. 

"I appeal to those supporting the UPA to come out and oppose the immoral government," she said.
19:34  Cabinet oks FDI in pension, hikes it in insurance:  Cabinet has cleared 26 per cent FDI in pension. It has also approved terming five airports as international ones.
19:32  Facebook reaches one billion users:  Facebook has exceeded one billion active users.

"This morning, there are more than one billion people using Facebook actively each month," said Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder and CEO of the social media giant. 

"If you are reading this: thank you for giving me and my little team the honour of serving you. Helping a billion people connect is amazing, humbling and by far the thing I am most proud of in my life," he said.
19:31  Cabinet approves Forward Contract Regulation Amendment Bill:  The Cabinet has approved the Forward Contract Regulation Amendment Bill,  Food Minister K V Thomas has said.
19:05  Delhi's dengue cases cross 100:  With 18 more patients testing positive for dengue in the capital today, the number of cases has crossed the century-mark to touch 116. All the 12 zones, except West zone, in the jurisdiction of South, North and East Delhi Municipalities recorded dengue cases, statements issued by civic bodies said. 

However, no deaths were reported today. Out of the 116 cases, three have originated from outside the capital. A nine-year-old girl had died in the capital last Friday due to dengue.
19:04  Alligator found in a US supermarket:  An alligator crawling across the parking lot of a supermarket in New York's Long Island was captured after an alert shopper saw it and called the police, a day after another reptile was spotted in the same area. Officers captured the alligator yesterday. 

"They controlled the alligator and held it while waiting for the Nassau Emergency Services Unit," police said. The reptile was later placed in a cage.
19:03  Ex-CEC joins plea in SC for probe into coal scam:  Members of civil society including former CEC N Gopalaswami, ex-Navy chief L Ramdas and former Cabinet Secretary TSR Subramanian today approached the Supreme Court seeking a court-monitored SIT probe into the coal block allocation scam. 

They have filed a joint PIL along with other retired bureaucrats and NGO Common Cause pleading the apex court to quash the entire allocation of coal blocks to private companies made by the Centre from 1993 onwards.
19:03  CPI, BJP slam new wave of reforms:  While India Inc welcomed the government's second wave of reforms, Opposition parties slammed them.

CPI said that the government was shamelessly biased in favour of corporates, while the BJP vowed to oppose the Pension Bill. 
19:01  Hectic parleys in Delhi to Jagan Reddy's bail plea:  Hectic legal and administrative preparations are on in Delhi for the submission against Jagan Reddy's bail plea in the apex court on Friday. 

It all began with the clearance from Enforcement Directorate on Thursday to attach Jagan Reddy's properties. Secret meetings were held by Income Tax authorities and the Central Bureau of Investigation top brass in Delhi to formalise their version and put it in a coherent manner   

Senior CBI, IT and ED officials from Hyderabad are camping in Delhi to prepare the legal submission to counter his bail plea.
18:57  Buzz doing the rounds in Delhi has it that the Central Bureau of Investigation may summon Congress MP Vijay Darda and his son Devendra for interrogation in the coal blocks allotted to the company with their help. What this space!
18:56  Will Modi field some Muslims in Gujarat this time?:  Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi may field some Muslim candidates in the coming assembly elections for the first time to present his secular face -- with an eye on the prime ministerial chair., goes the buzz. Incidentally, not a single Muslim was fielded by the Bharatiya Janata Party in the last two assembly elections in the state.
18:35  Trinamool vows to oppose amended bills:  Trinamool Congress has vowed to oppose the amended bills that the UPA government will bring to Parliament. TMC's comments came in the wake of the recent reforms announced by the government. 

The government, alleged TMC, wanted to give pension only to foreigners. 
18:25  Cabinet moves ahead on reforms:  Just In: Cabinet clears foreign investment in pension sector, approves changes in Companies Bill, gives nod for hiking FDI cap in insurance. Details awaited.
18:13  Horse, mule journey banned for Kedarnath:  Following directions from the Uttarakhand high court to maintain sanitation on the pedestrian route to Kedarnath from Gaurikund, the movement of horses and mules has been temporarily suspended. 

The decision came in the wake of the high court expressing dissatisfaction over sanitation on the 14 km-long pilgrimage route, additional chief officer of Rudraprayag district panchayat, Yashwant Rawat said.
18:12  Just In: Enforcement Directorate attaches properties worth Rs 51crore in connection with money-laundering probe against YSR Congress chief Jagan Mohan Reddy. Further details awaited.
18:09  Phew, Facebook hits 1 billion active users!:  The world's largest social network, Facebook has finally reached the one billion active user mark, eight years after launch, writes Zack Whittaker in

'If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest in the world, behind China with 1.34 billion and India with 1.2 billion,' he writes, here.
17:56  No intention of declaring war on Syria: Turkey:  AP reports: An aide to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkey has no intention of declaring war on Syria.

The aide says today that Turkey's shelling of Syria following a mortar attack that killed five civilians in Turkey and the proposed bill to authorise military actions against its neighbor should be seen as a 'warning to Syria'.

Turkey's Parliament today was debating a bill to authorise the military to launch cross border operations in Syria, while Turkey resumed artillery shelling of Syrian targets near the border.
17:42  Cabinet meet ends; more reforms to be unleashed soon?:  The Union Cabinet meet in New Delhi has ended, and an announcement on whether FDI will be permitted in the two sectors are expected soon.

More details are awaited.
17:13  Wife of Kingfisher staffer commits suicide:  
Wife of an engineer employed with Kingfisher committed suicide in Palam, Delhi today. The suicide note said that she took the drastic step owing to 'financial stress'.

The engineer has not received salary for seven months, say sources.

More details are awaited  

16:35  Uphaar owner apologises to victims in SC:  Owner of Uphaar Cinema Sushil Ansal apologised to victims in the Supreme Court today.

"I will set up a trauma centre,' he said.

The Uphaar Cinema fire occurred on Friday, June 13, 1997 during the premiere screening of the movie, Border. Trapped inside, 59 people died, mostly due to suffocation, and 103 were seriously injured in the resulting stampede.
16:18  Former head of Jamaat e Islami Hind passes away:  Dr Abdul Haq Ansari, former president of the Jama'at-e-Islami Hind, a leading Islamic organisation in the country, has died of a heart attack in Alighar. He was 81. 

The noted Islamic scholar, who was president of Jama'at-e-Islami Hind from 2003 to 2007, breathed his last yesterday. 

Dr Ansari, the founder of the Islamic Academy of India, spent most of his professional life in various research and teaching projects at Aligarh Muslim University, Shanti Niketan, UPM University in Malaysia and the University of Riyadh in Saudi Arabia.
16:04  Cauvery row: Central team holds talks with TN govt:  

Amid protests by farmers in Karnataka over sharing of Cauvery river water, a Central team today held discussions with the Tamil Nadu government and said it would submit a report to the Centre in four days.   


A team led by Union Water Resources Secretary DV Singhheld discussions with Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary Debendranath Sarangi and others on issues regarding reservoir levels and status of standing crops dependent on Cauvery water.  


Singh later told reporters that the team will visit the Cauvery delta area and would submit its report to the Central government in about four days.   The team is also scheduled to visit Karnataka as part of its two-day programme.

15:58  Sensitive US documents unguarded in Benghazi embassy:  

Sensitive documents related to delicate information about US operations in Libya are laying unguarded at the American consulate in Benghazi, more than three weeks after the attack on the compound which killed ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others.         


Documents detailing weapons collection efforts, emergencyevacuation protocols, the full internal itinerary of Ambassador Stevens's trip and the personnel records of Libyans who were contracted to secure the mission remained loosely secured at the looted compound, Washington Post reported quoting its reporter who managed to go inside.         


Although the gates to the Benghazi compound were locked several days after the attacks, looters and curiosity-seekers were free to roam in the initial chaotic aftermath, and many documents may have disappeared, the newspaper said.         


No government-provided security forces are guarding the compound, and Libyan investigators have visited just once, according to a member of the family who owns the compound.

15:34  Economy would come back to path of growth: Prez:  

President Pranab Mukherjee today hoped the Indian economy would come back to the path of steady growth shortly.        


Inaugurating an international conference and exhibition of chemicals and petrochemicals industry in Mumbai, he said the event was happening at a time when the Indian economy was witnessing a rebound.        


"I do hope shortly it would come back to the path of steady growth," the President said. Mukherjee underlined the importance of research and development as a key to the advancement of the sector.

15:27  Manesar plant will resume full production by mid-Oct: Maruti:  

Maruti Suzuki India today said production at its Manesar plant, which faced labour troubles recently, will return to normal by the middle of this month.    


The company has been gradually ramping up production at the plant, which had been locked out for a month following the July 18 violence in which one senior official was killed.    


"By the middle of October, normal production will begin from Manesar. At present, production for all models have started," Maruti Suzuki India Chief Operating Officer (Administration) S Y Siddiqui told reporters here on the sidelines of a CII event.

15:23  DMK likely to skip Union Cabinet meeting:  

 A Correspondent in New Delhi: UPA ally DMK is likely to skip the Union Cabinet meeting which will resolve controversial issue of FDI in various sectors.  


The lone DMK minister MK Alagiri is in Mumbai with President Pranab Mukherjee attending an international seminar on chemicals.


Alagiri in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh explained the reasons for his absence and also attached a copy of the speech of his father Karunanidhi in recent DMK executive asking the UPA leadership to discuss any contentious issues with the allies before bringing in the Cabinet.

15:15  Nitish nursing prime ministerial ambition: Lalu:  

Describing the special status demand for Bihar as Nitish Kumar's pet political agenda to boost his career, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad today said that the chief minister was nursing an ambition to become the prime minister of the country.     


"The special status demand is nothing but a personal and political agenda of the chief minister.....he wants to ride this agenda to become the PM of the country," he told reporters after reaching Bhagalpur to undertake 'Parivartan yatra' in the district.        


However, the prime ministerial ambition will merely prove to be a mirage for Kumar as the people of Bihar have "belatedly realised their mistake of having re-elected the NDA to power which was embroiled in corruption," Prasad said.

14:46  UK central online identity scheme will be a target for criminals?:  

The UK government will announce details this month of a controversial national identity scheme which will allow people to use their mobile phones and social media profiles as official identification documents for accessing public services.


Read more on Independent

14:38  Salman Rushdie, freedom writer:  

The writer came to L.A. to accept the Library Foundation of Los Angeles' literary award and to talk about his new memoir of his underground years, "Joseph Anton." He and the book have arrived just as the blowback from "Innocence of Muslims" has caused us all to confront the questions that commandeered a decade of his life.


Read the full interview on LA Times

14:24  '2.38 mn Pakistanis don't pay a penny in taxes':  

ANI: Over 2.38 million people in Pakistan belonging to the wealthy class are tax evaders, revealed statistics compiled by the National Database and Registration Authority.  


Nearly three million people possess a National Tax Number, but only 1.4 million of them filed income tax returns last year.  


Sources identified 2.38 million people who live in palatial houses, own luxury cars, travel abroad frequently, possess arms, hold multiple bank accounts and pay hefty utility bills, but pay no income tax, reports The Dawn.  


The statistics also revealed that tax officials don't bother to bring these rich people into the tax net, ignoring the fact that one cannot buy a new car without producing their NTN.  

13:23  Cap on LPG will affect mid-day meal scheme: Mamata:  

Accusing the central government of not thinking about students while policy making, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today said the cap on subsidised LPG cylinders will badly hit the mid-day meal scheme.         


"This is a very sensitive matter. The Central government has never thought of the fate of poor school children....There is a fear that these school children may have to go without food in schools due to enormous increase in price of non-subsidised LPG cylinder," Banerjee said in a post on Facebook.         


Pointing out that the real impact of the restriction on subsidised LPG cylinders was unfolding now, she said, "Common people have been burdened with additional Rs 127 (exclusive of taxes) per cylinder. The price is likely to go up further in the coming months."  

12:58  ULFA militant killed in encounter in Assam:  

A hardcore ULFA militant was killed in an encounter with police in Tarani forest of upper Assam's Tinsukia district today.        


The militant identified as Wangli Moran alias Diganta Bora exchanged fire with police in the dense forest during a police operation, police said.        


An AK-81 assault rifle, four AK series magazines, 25 bullets and some documents were recovered from the slain ultra, they said.

12:32  19 people, mostly students, buried in landslide in China:  Nineteen people, including 18 students, were buried today when a huge landslide destroyed a school in China's southwest Yunnan Province.

The accident took place at Zhenhe village located in Yiliang County of Zhaotong City, the county government said.

The landslide, estimated to be around 10,000 cubic meters, engulfed a primary school building, trapping 18 students, the government said. Two residences near the school were also hit by the landslide, with one villager being buried.

A family of three managed to escape the landslide before it arrived. The government has moved local residents to safer places and dispatched rescue teams to the area.
12:32  Coming soon in Dubai: 4 times bigger Taj Mahal replica:  Developers in Dubai are reportedly planning to construct a replica of the famous Taj Mahal, which would be over four times bigger than the original monument. 

Developers said that Taj Arabia, an imitation of the 360-year-old marble mausoleum that took Mughal emperor Shah Jahan almost 22 years to build, would be constructed in a span of just two years. 

The billion-dollar project will be set in the heart of the 41-million square foot Falcon City of Wonders on the Emirates Road. Developers said that Taj Arabia would be symbolic of 'love and romance' just like the Taj Mahal and would celebrate the union of couples by serving as the world's grandest wedding destination.
12:31  No differences within BJP on PM candidate: Chouhan:  Influential BJP leader and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has said the party would announce its prime ministerial candidate at an appropriate time as he ruled out any differences in the party on the issue.

Responding to questions, Chouhan said that the name of prime ministerial candidate would be announced at an appropriate time before the next general elections. Chouhan, who is here on an official visit, said he has no plans to move to the center and intends to stay in Madhya Pradesh and focus his entire energy on its inclusive growth.

He also addressed a meeting of Overseas Friends of BJP,which was attended by a large number of supporters of the party living in and around Greater Washington Area. Chouhan also criticised the Time magazine for describing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as an 'underachiever'.
12:31  BBC lets F word slip in programme, apologises:  British television network, BBC was forced to apologise to its viewers after TV presenters were caught swearing off-screen during the channel's live breakfast show. 

BBC viewers reportedly heard a disembodied voice exclaim "What the f*** is that?" at the start of an item during the TV programme, BBC Breakfast, because of a microphone that had been left outside of the studio recorded the four-letter word. 

"During the programme, we accidentally played out not-for-broadcast audio containing an audible swear word. The error was caused by a radio microphone inadvertently being left on outside our studio,' the Daily Mirror quoted a BBC spokeswoman, as saying. 

"Our presenters apologised on air as soon as the mistake was identified and we are reviewing our procedures accordingly,' she added. 

According to the report, BBC presenter Susanna Reid was introducing conductor John Wilson as a guest on the show when the gaffe occurred. The foul-mouthed outburst also became a popular talking point online as users sent messages about the slip on Twitter, the report said. 
12:03  Cauvery logjam: Farmers begin relay hunger strike:  

A farmers' body spearheading the stir against release of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu began a relay hunger strike here in protest against Karnataka's action and warned that people would stop paying taxes if government did not heed their demand to stop the flow by this evening.        


"We have set a deadline to the government... if the water release is not stopped by this evening, people will resort to a civil disobedience movement by not paying taxes," Cauvery Hitarakshana Samithi President G Madegowda told reporters.        


Karnataka has been releasing 9,000 cusecs since Sunday, in compliance with a Supreme Court directive.         Gowda, a former MP, said he has decided not to go on an indefinite fast on a plea by former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda.        


Raitha Sangha (Farmers Association) leaders said they would lay seige to Raj Bhavan today in Bangalore, demanding intervention of Governor H R Bharadwaj on the Cauvery water issue and to safeguard the state's interest.  

10:50  Malegaon blast: No interim bail to Purohit, others:  The SC has refused to grant interim bail to ex-army officer Shrikant Purohit and other accused in the 2006 Malegaon blast case.
10:14  Prithvi II ballistic missile test fired:  

India today test-fired its nuclear-capable Prithvi-II ballistic missile with a strike range of 350 km from a test range near Balasore as part of a user trial by the army.         


"The flight test of the surface-to-surface missile was conducted at around 0907 hrs from a mobile launcher from Integrated Test Range's launch complex-III at Chandipur," defence sources said. 


The state-of-the-art Prithvi is the first ballistic missile developed under the country's prestigious Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMPD) and has the capability to carry 500 kg of both nuclear and conventional warheads with a strike range of 350 km, they said.

09:37  Cabinet set to discuss FDI in pension, insurance:  

The UPA government is set for a second push for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's reform measures. The Cabinet is expected to clear 26 per cent FDI in pensions and 46 per cent in insurance on Thursday. Currently, no foreign investment is allowed in the pension sector and only 26 per cent FDI is allowed in insurance.


Read more on CNN-IBN

08:44  UN chief demands Darfur killing probe:  

AFP: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called Wednesday on Sudan to conduct a full investigation into an attack that killed four peacekeepers in Darfur, his spokesman said.


Martin Nesirky said Ban was "appalled and deeply saddened" by the ambush Tuesday of a patrol by UN-African Union peacekeepers in El Geneina, West Darfur. Four Nigerian peacekeepers were killed and eight others were wounded.

08:42  2012 Nobel announcements next week:  

AFP: The winners of the 2012 Nobel Prizes are to be announced next week, with no clear frontrunners yet seen for the much-talked about Peace and Literature prizes and suspense and speculation mount.           


Betting sites have become a popular feature of the Nobel guessing game in recent years, with gamers sometimes surprisingly accurate, even suspiciously so.            


Chinese author Mo Yan and Japan's Haruki Murakami share the top spots on two Swedish betting sites a week ahead of the expected announcement of the Nobel Literature Prize, while Coptic Christian Maggie Gobran of Egypt who helps the poor in Cairo's slums tops the one Swedish site taking bets for the Peace Prize.

08:24  Obama and Romney trade barbs in Denver debate:  

US President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney met in Denver for a contentious but largely unmemorable debate in which each man accused the other of lying about his plans for taxes, health care and other key domestic issues.


Romney went on the offensive early, hammering Obama on his economic record: "Look at the evidence of the last four years, it's absolutely extraordinary,' he said. "We've got 23 million people out of work, stopped looking for work in this country.'


Obama admitted mistakes, acknowledging that he "hadn't been a perfect president," but sought to characterise Romney as out-of-touch and concerned chiefly with the wealthiest Americans. 


"Do we double down on the top-down economic policies?" he asked. "Or embrace a new economic patriotism that says America does best when the middle class does best?"


Read more on Al Jazeera

03:58  No political cell working in ISI, ministry tells SC:  The Defence Ministry in its reply submitted to the Supreme Court, on Wednesday, maintained its stated stance that there was no political cell in the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). 

This was stated before a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry which has been hearing the 1996 petition filed by Asghar Khan. The petitioner had accused the ISI of financing politicians in the 1990 elections by dishing out Rs 140 million to them to create the Islami Jamhoori Ittehad (IJI) and prevent Benazir Bhutto's PPP from winning the polls.

The chief justice said that if the court gives a judgement in the case the matter would be referred to the executive for its implementation, however, the government was not complying with the court's orders. At the outset of the hearing, Commander Shahbaz submitted a reply on behalf of the Defence Ministry in pursuance of court orders, saying no political cell was in operation in the ISI. 
03:57  War escalates as Syria bombs Turkey:  NATO has condemned Syrian shelling of a border village that left five Turkish people dead, and sparked Ankara to order retaliatory fire.

The meeting of the 28 member states was convened at NATO headquarters in Brussels as the alliance strongly condemned the Syrian action.Turkey shelled Syria in retaliation for what it termed an attack "too far.''

"Our armed forces in the border region immediately retaliated against this heinous attack... by shelling targets spotted by radar,'' Turkey's prime minister's office said in a statement earlier.
03:03  Clinton praises Kazakhstan's non-proliferation record:  Praising Kazakhstan's non-proliferation record, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today said only a few countries can match its experience and credibility on this front. 

"We view Kazakhstan as not just a regional presence but a global leader. Certainly when it comes to nonproliferation, there are few countries that can match Kazakhstan's experience and credibility when talking about nonproliferation," Clinton told reporters in a joint press availability with the visiting Kazakh Foreign Minister Yerlan Idrisov.
02:58  Pension reforms may get Cabinet nod today:  After opening up the multi-brand retail sector toforeign direct investment, the UPA seems set to take another shy at reforms by pushing for an increase in the FDI cap forinsurance and opening up the pension sector, besides expanding the scope of futures trading in commodities. 

The Union Cabinet is to take up on Thursday the proposal for raising the FDI ceiling for insurance from 26% to 49% in a move that brings out government's willingness to make the most of the departure of Mamata Banerjee, and which could also test the BJP's resistance to the reforms rush. 
02:31  Turkey hits Syria after deadly shelling:  Turkey shelled Syria in retaliation for deadly cross-border fire today as NATO convened an emergency meeting on the attack that threatened to inflame tensions in the volatile region. 

Earlier today Syrian shells crashed into a Turkish border town, killing five people, the first time Turkey's citizens were killed by cross-border fire from its war-torn neighbour. An outraged Ankara said the attack went "too far", and it swiftly retaliated. 

"Our armed forces in the border region immediately retaliated against this heinous attack... by shelling targets spotted by radar," Turkey's prime minister's office said in a statement.
01:52  Amol Muzumdar to play for Andhra:  After turning out for Assam in domestic cricket, Mumbai star batsman Amol Muzumdar can't find his way back to his home side. One of the most prolific scorers around, Amol will now wield his bat for the Andhra side. Read the ESPN report here:
01:44  What small business want to hear during debate:  Polls indicate President Obama is extending his lead in battleground states such as Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, which is bad news for Republican challenger Mitt Romney. Since one of the former Massachusetts governor's strongest selling points is his successful career in business, he needs to score big on the economy against the President in the upcoming debates. Expect him to focus on jobs and business growth during the first debate on Wednesday.

According to a newly released USA Today/Gallup Poll, small business owners are split in their support: 47% to 47% with the rest undecided. That's about as tight as you can possibly get. Just one month ago, a poll by Manta showed Governor Romney leading the President among small business owners.

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01:43  If Osama had surrendered...:  President Obama told Vanity Fair magazine that had Osama bin Laden surrendered to the US Navy Seals that May night last year, he had been prepared to put the Al Qaeda leader on trial:
01:38  Iran has never bowed to pressure...:  ... And never will... fighting words from Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on a day the Rial plunged to scary lows....this report from the Jerusalem Post:
01:25  Will not rest till we track Benghazi attackers: Clinton:  US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today vowed that the US would not rest until it probes the attack on its consulate in Benghazi and tracks down those who killed "our people", but cautioned against jumping to any conclusion. 

Four Americans including the US Ambassador to Libya were killed when the US Consulate in Benghazi was attacked by a violent mob over an anti-Islam film.
01:06  Do U.S. presidential debates matter?:  After months of talking about each other and their policies, the world finally gets to see Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney go toe-to-toe on the same stage in a series of three televised debates ahead of the U.S. election.

Unlike other countries, such as the United Kingdom, where the prime minister must defend his policies under televised duress from the opposition nearly every week, face-to-face showdowns between the two men fighting for the White House only happen every four years.

And while debates rarely swing the outcome of an election, a gaffe -- or a silver-tongued swipe at the opposition -- under the bright lights can alter the perception of the two contenders, for better or worse.

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00:32  No change in policy on Kashmir: US:  The United States today said there is no change in its stated policy that Kashmir is a bilateral issue that needs to be resolved between India and Pakistan, and would like to see the recent economic warming between the two sides translate into a better conversation on that issue. 

"With regard to our own policy on Kashmir, it hasn't changed. It's been the same for a very long time," State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, told reporters when asked about the sharp exchange of words between India and Pakistan during the ongoing UN general Assembly session in New York.

For the past several decades, the US has maintained that Kashmir is a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan and the two countries need to resolve it peacefully through dialogue.
00:30  Syrian shell kills five in Turkey:  Turkey has contacted the United Nations and the Nato military alliance after Syrian shells killed five people in a Turkish town near the border between the two countries.

The shells exploded after being fired into Akcakale from Tall al-Abyad in Syria, where forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad are trying to put down an 18-month-old insurgency.The dead are said to include a woman and her three children.Nine other people were wounded.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc was quoted as saying that Syria must be made to account for the incident and there must be a response under international law.

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00:21  Top headlines in the past 24 hours:  Obama ahead before make or break presidential debate

Modi's travel cost during 2007 mahila sammelans was ZERO!

The threat to life is always there: Lt Gen Brar's wife

Sonia's Rajkot rally statement full of half-truths: BJP

In Gujarat, Sonia Gandhi has nothing new to say

Yeddyurappa hints at floating his own party

2-phase Gujarat poll on Dec 13-17, Himachal on Nov 4

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