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India prepares to roll out plastic banknotes

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April 03, 2013

22:21  India prepares to roll out plastic banknotes:  
The Reserve Bank of India is getting ready to circulate 1 billion plastic, or polymer, bank notes of the 10 rupee denomination, which equals around 14 euro cents, across five Indian cities.

Kochi, Mysore, Jaipur, Bhubaneshwar and Shimla have been chosen for their vast geographical differences and to test the effects their varying climates may have on the plastic notes.

The switch to plastic banknotes, Alpana Killawala, spokesperson at the Reserve Bank of India said, is not only aimed at increasing the longevity of the notes but also a move to tackle people attempting to counterfeit the currency.

Read more HERE
21:19  Bihar woman burns her 'rapist' to death:  
A middle-aged man was burnt to death after he was set on fire by a woman whom he had allegedly raped in her own house earlier during the night.

The incident took place in the woman's home at Sweetha village, two kilometres south of the Parsa Bazar police station, in Phulwarisharif block of Patna district, early Tuesday.

The police here described the incident as 'an act of revenge' on the part of the woman, a widow, after Bhola Thakur, 45, the man who was set alight, raped her earlier that night when she was sleeping.

According to the police, Thakur entered the woman's house around 1.30am on Tuesday and forced himself upon her. "Thakur was so drunk he feel asleep in her house after committing the crime", said an officer.

He said the woman at first contemplated self-immolation out of shame and even poured kerosene on herself. Thereafter, she changed her mind and decided to seek revenge.

"She threw her kerosene soaked sari, which had caught fire, on Thakur and rushed out of the house. A little later, the house was reduced to ashes and Thakur was burnt to death."

Read more HERE
20:28  No reason for Indians in S Arabia to be paranoid: Govt:  The government today said there was no reason for the two million plus strong Indian workforce in Saudi Arabia to be 'paranoid', on account of a new labour law -- Nitaqat -- and asserted there was 'ongoing' discussion with the Saudi authorities in the matter.    

They also noted that there was a 'slight increase' in the number of Indians returning, after the authorities in that country started the strict implementation of the law against illegal migrants.
20:27  SC to decide who gets to use red beacons:  The Supreme Court today said it would decide whether a person other than high functionaries is entitled to the use of beacons and sirens on their vehicles, in view of these being misused and flaunted by people as status symbol.        

A bench headed by Justice G S Singhvi also said it would examine whether closure of roads for facilitating the movement of VIPs is lawful and constitutional.
20:25  India hopes to amicably resolve fishermen row:  India today said it hopes to amicably resolve the issue of the detention of 16 Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan authorities.        

The ministry of external affairs said it was in "active touch" with local authorities in Lanka.       

 "Our mission officials are in discussions with the legal officials to resolve the situation," Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told reporters.        

He added that India was hopeful that the situation would be "amicably resolved soon".
20:24  Kejriwal announces civil disobedience movement:  AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, whose indefinite fast against 'inflated' power and water bills entered the 12th day, today announced the next course of the civil disobedience movement, which will start from April 6.        

Kejriwal, who will continue his fast, said his party will restore power and water connections, which were snapped due to non-paying of 'inflated' bills.        

He said the next course of the movement coincides with the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi completing his Dandi March.
20:17  Drug case: Vijender's friend Ram Singh arrested:  Boxer Vijender Singh's friend Ram Singh was arrested on Wednesday evening, on suspicion of drug trafficking charges, by the Punjab police.

The police have been probing a major drug haul case in the state which allegedly involves the Olympic medal-winning boxer.
19:32  Govt relevance in growth story cannot be discounted: PM :  In a significant message to the private sector, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the government's relevance in India's growth story cannot be discounted and asked the industry to have faith in the executive.     

Singh conceded that the government is not the "prime driver" of growth in the private sector-led economy, but the sector needs an environment in which enterprise can flourish.
19:31  Another blogger arrested in Bangladesh :  An 'atheist' blogger was arrested today in Bangladesh on charges of defaming Islam.

This is the fourth such detention in two days, as part of a crackdown to prevent exploitation of religion on the Internet.        

A team of the detective branch of police arrested 29-year-old Asif Mohiuddin from his residence at Segunbagicha in the capital Dhaka.        

"(Blogger) Asif Mohiuddin has been arrested on charges of hurting religious sentiment through his writings on blogs and Facebook," a police spokesman told newsmen.
19:29  Maha CM's drought relief fund nets Rs 55 crore :  The Maharashtra chief minister's drought relief fund has collected around Rs 55 crore so far from government and non government organisations, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said today.        

The major donors include the famous Siddhivinayak Trust,  which has donated Rs 25 crore to the relief fund.
19:29  Former Balochistan General abducted from Quetta:  Unidentified men today kidnapped former Advocate General of Balochistan Salahuddin Mengal at gunpoint from the restive Quetta city of southwest Pakistan, police said.        

Mengal was abducted by the armed men as he was getting out of his vehicle outside his home at Raza Mohammad Street in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province.
19:28  Nitaqat effect: Union minister to visit Saudi Arabia :  Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi will visit Saudi Arabia to convey India's apprehension about possible job losses to Indians, due to the implementation of a new labour law -- Nitaqat -- in the Gulf nation that seeks to reserve 10 per cent jobs for locals.        

The decision on Ravi's visit to the country was taken after he had discussed the issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday. Ravi held a separate meeting with External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.
18:58  Boxer Vijender undergoes drug test:  Boxer Vijender Singh on Wednesday evening underwent  a drug test by the National Anti-Doping Agency.

Vijender's name has been dragged into a major drugs haul case by the Punjab Police, which has alleged that the Olympic medal-winning boxer has used heroin several times in the past.
18:26  Vacancy left by Kumar not to be filled immediately: Chandy :  The ruling UDF government in Kerala will not rush to pick a Congress nominee to replace former minister K B Ganesh Kumar, who resigned in the wake of the domestic violence charge slapped on him by his wife, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy today said.        

"We are not going to discuss the matter immediately or rush to a decision on this," he said in reply to reporters'queries.
18:25  China bird flu toll rises to 3:  One more person infected with the deadly H7N9 bird flu virus died in east China today, raising the toll from the incurable disease to three, while the total number of people battling with the virulent disease reached nine.

"Two more infections of the H7N9 bird flu, involving one death, were reported in east China's Zhejiang Province, bringing the total number of the infected people in the country to nine," the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
18:22  CBI, Income Tax team start examining Radia tapes:  A six-member CBI and Income Tax team has began its work of examining over 5,800 tapes of tapped conversations of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia with politicians, corporate honchos and others.        

The team, headed by a deputy inspector general-rank officer, have started the process of going through the tapes and its transcripts running into 49 volumes last week, as per the directions of Supreme Court in February this year,official sources said.
18:20  Jaffna-based Tamil newspaper's office attacked:  An unidentified group today attacked a distribution office of a Tamil newspaper in northern Sri Lanka, leaving at least three employees injured.        '

Uthayan, a Jaffna-based Tamil daily's distribution office in Kilinochchi -- a former LTTE stronghold -- was attacked in the wee hours of Wednesday, police said.
18:18  Do not politicise incidents involving Kashmiris: Omar:  Lashing out at those giving a political colour to every incident involving Kashmiris, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today said it creates a negative impact on the mindset of the people from the valley.        

"There are people here who want to give a political colour to everything. In Hyderabad a boy (Mudassir Kamran) commits suicide for personal reasons and in Kashmir it is  analysed in a different way, as if he was murdered," Omar said.        

Kamran, a Kashmiri student, was found hanging from the ceiling of his hostel room in Hyderabad recently.
18:16  Chacko rejects BJP's demand to summon PM to JPC:  JPC Chairman P C Chacko has rejected BJP leader Yashwant Sinha's demand for calling Prime Minister Manmohan Singh before the panel probing the 2G telecom spectrum allocation.
18:14  Gaddafi's daughter granted asylum in Oman:  Muammar Gaddafi's only daughter has been granted asylum in Oman after being thrown out of Algeria last year for repeatedly setting her safe-house on fire in fits of anger, according to a media report.        

Aisha Gaddafi, 37, who gave birth to a daughter just days after fleeing to Algeria in 2011, has been granted asylum in Oman, along with some other family members, The Telegraph reported.
16:55  British parents to be jailed for killing six kids:  A British couple has been found guilty of starting a fire that killed their six children in what the prosecution described as an "attention-grabbing stunt that went tragically wrong".    

Mick Philpott, 56, and Mairead Philpott, 31, and their friend Paul Mosley, 46, now face lengthy jail terms for triggering the blaze on May 11 last year at the couple's home in Derby, in the East Midlands region of England.
16:54  Pandits' body alleges multi-crore scam in JK temple land:  An organisation of Kashmiri Pandits today flayed the Jammu and Kashmir government over its claim that there was no encroachment on temple land in the Valley, alleging a "multi-crore scam in the illegal transfer of temple land to various people."        

"There is a multi-crore scam involved in it as the land of these temples has been illegally transferred to various people. There is large-scale encroachment of these properties but the government, even after repeated submissions by our outfit, has not probed into it," it said.
16:52  Mallya's breweries in Goa slapped with notice :  The Goa State Pollution Control Board has issued show cause notices to liquor baron Vijay Mallya's M/s United Breweries and M/s United Spirits for allegedly releasing untreated effluent or sewage into the rivulet next to its factory, the state assembly was told today.     

State Environment Minister Alina Saldanha informed the House about this while responding to the Calling Attention Motion tabled by Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party legislator Lavoo Mamledar.
16:51  CAG slams Modi govt over 'undue' favours to corporates:  The Comptroller and Auditor General of India has indicted the Gujarat government and state Public Sector Undertakings for extending 'undue' benefits to major industrial houses, causing a loss of Rs 750 crore to the state exchequer.        

The major beneficiaries of the state government's largesse included big corporate entities like Reliance Industries Ltd, Essar Steel and Adani Power Ltd, the report said.
16:50  Mandela much better, making steady progress: SA:  Anti-apartheid icon and former South African President Nelson Mandela is responding "satisfactorily" to treatment and is doing "much better" after spending a week in a hospital for pneumonia, the presidency said today.        

"President Nelson Mandela continues to make steady improvement in the hospital," it said.
16:48  Queen Elizabeth II gets 5 million pounds pay hike!:  Britain's Queen Elizabeth II has been given a hefty pay hike of 5 million pounds for the current financial year to carry out her official duties.        

The 86-year-old Queen received 31 million pounds last year, but that will be increased to 36.1 million pounds in the financial year 2013-2014.        

Under the new arrangement, the Queen receives a grant equal to 15 per cent of the profits from the Crown Estate.
16:47  1984 riots case against Sajjan: Court reserves judgment:  A Delhi court today reserved judgement in a 1984 anti-Sikh riot case involving senior Congress leader Sajjan Kumar and five others.
16:13  Being in space can change your perspective: Sunita Williams:  The magnificent view of the Northern Lights from nearly 400 km above the earth's surface from the International Space Station made astronaut Sunita Williams turn metaphysical. 

"Being in space can change your perspective. While hanging onto a piece of malfunctioning equipment on the International Space Station I got a view of the Northern Lights nearly 400 km above the earth surface. At that moment I wondered whether there is something else out there," Williams said.
16:10  Taliban attack on Afghan court kills six: officials:  Taliban attackers stormed an Afghan court and surrounding buildings, killing at least six people and wounding 70 others in the western town of Farah. 

At least four militants who launched the bomb and shooting attack also died in the assault, which comes as NATO winds down its combat mission in the war-torn country by the end of next year. 

Two attackers died when they detonated a car bomb at the gate of the provincial court building, two were shot by security forces and another man was still alive, with a firefight still ongoing hours after the assault began.
15:53  40 pc of Pakistani youth think Shariah is best:   Ahead of crucial elections marking the first democratic transition in Pakistan's history, more than 90 per cent of the youth believe the country is heading in the wrong direction while nearly 40 per cent think Shariah or Islamic law would be the best political system, a survey said. 

These are among the key findings of a new survey by the British Council that focussed on youths between 18 and 29 years, who are expected to play an important role in the May 11 general election. 

The 'Next Generation Goes to the Ballot Box' report, published today, indicated deep pessimism among the youth, many of whom will be voting for the first time.

You can read the full report here.
15:49  Mallya's breweries get notice for polluting Goa rivulet:  The Goa State Pollution Control Board has issued show cause notices to liquor baron Vijay Mallya's M/s United Breweries and M/s United Spirits for allegedly releasing untreated effluent or sewage into the rivulet next to its factory. 

State Environment Minister Alina Saldanha informed the House about this while responding to the Calling Attention Motion tabled by Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) legislator Lavoo Mamledar.
15:41  PM rejects Yashwant's demand to depose before JPC:   Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has rejected BJP leader Yashwant Sinha's demand that he depose before the JPC in the 2G spectrum scam.Yashwant Sinha on Tuesday demanded that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram appear before it for the truth to come out in the scam.

Sinha, who is also a member of the JPC, has raised serious objections over not convening of the panel meeting for two months now and demanded that then telecom minister A Raja, who has been wanting to appear before the JPC, be allowed to do so as he is a key witness in the scam.

The BJP member had on Monday written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking him to appear before the committee to "clear" his name following allegations levelled against him by Raja. 

He said any hesitation on the PM's part to appear before the JPC will prove that he has "something to hide".

In his reply to Sinha on Wednesday, Dr Singh wrote: "I have received your letter of 1 April, 2013 regarding the Joint Parliamentary Committee looking into the 2G matter.   

"You are aware that all pertinent records and documents available with the government have already been placed at the disposal of the JPC. I have said from the beginning that neither the government nor I have anything to hide in this matter. 

"The decision as to what evidence should be sought and which individuals should be asked to appear before the JPC is a matter that needs to be decided internally by the JPC and its chairman."
15:18  Assaulted Jesse Ryder returns home after hospital stint:  New Zealand cricketer Jesse Ryder has returned to his home after spending several days in hospital following a brutal attack in Christchurch, according to his manager. 

The attack, which took place outside a bar in Christchurch, left Ryder, who came out of a coma on Saturday, with injuries including a punctured lung and a fractured skull, the Age reports. 

According to Ryder's manager Aaron Klee, Ryder has left the hospital and is back at his home in Wellington, New Zealand. 
14:37  President gives ok for new anti-rape law:  President Pranab Mukherjee has given his assent to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013, and it will now be called the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013.

The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013 was passed by the Lok Sabha on March 19 and by the Rajya Sabha on March 21.

The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013 was moved in the Rajya Sabha by Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde where he had termed it as a ''unique law''.

Shinde had then said the purpose of the bill is to provide stringent punishment also for offences like stalking, voyeurism, acid attacks and human trafficking.

The Union Cabinet had earlier last month approved the amendments to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013 keeping the age of consent for sex to 18 instead of 16.

The demand for having such a law picked up after the December 16, 2012, brutal gang-rape of a 23-year-old girl in a moving bus in the national capital.
14:31  Delhi brothers get US award for combating anti-women violence:  Three Indian brothers have been felicitated by US Vice President Joe Biden in recognition of their work to end violence against women through an NGO. 

At an awards ceremony held at the prestigious Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, yesterday, Biden presented the Kant brothers -- Ravi, Rishi and Nishi -- from New Delhi the Solidarity Award of the Vital Voices, which was started by Hillary Clinton in 1997. 

"For more than a decade it has been a leading voice in the debate about violence against women in India. For much of that time, the Kant brothers have fought hard to get the country to notice the plight of women who have been abused, trafficked, attacked, and enslaved," Vital Voices said. 

"The organisation has been a leading voice on policy and legal changes to combat violence against women and children in India," Vital Voices said about NGO Shakti Vahini which was established by the three brothers in 2001. 

The organisation is headed by Ravi, its president, and has been strongly supported by Nishi, its executive director, and Rishi, who is a social activist.
14:27  Protestors lay siege to staff homes in Koodankulam:  Ahead of the proposed commissioning of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, around 2,000 fishermen onboard 200 boats today laid siege to a housing colony of KNPP employees at Chettikulam as part of the ongoing protest. 

The fishermen dropped their plans to block roads following the imposition of prohibitory orders and tight security in and around the plant's vicinity. 

S P Udhayakumar, convenor of the People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy, spearheading the stir against the plant, said the agitation was not meant to divert the attention of the people, but only for their welfare.
13:52  Meet the world's first pay-by-your-weight airline!:  Samoa Air has become the first airline in the world to charge passengers by weight.

The Samoa Air homepage reads: 'We at Samoa Air are keeping airfares fair, by charging our passengers only for what they weigh.'

The page added that, 'You are the master of your Air ''fair'', you decide how much (or little) your ticket will cost. No more exorbitant excess baggage fees , or being charged for baggage you may not carry. Your weight plus your baggage items, is what you pay for. Simple.'

According to ABC News, Samoa Air's Chief Executive, Chris Langton, told Radio Australia that 'airplanes did not run on seats, but on weight'.

A section of the airline's website titled 'How does pay what you weigh work?' outlined the steps in determining a passengers final airfare.
13:44  Managing coalitions is not easy, admits prime minister:  Days after the DMK pulled out of the UPA, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today candidly admitted that managing coalitions is not easy and urged industry leaders to have faith in the government's determination to revive the economy. 

Acknowledging that there were deficiencies in governance, Singh said the advantage of being a democracy is that the shortcomings were always put before the public. 

"And there are indeed many deficiencies. Corruption is a problem. Bureaucratic inertia is a problem. Managing coalitions is not easy. But these problems have not arisen suddenly," he said, adding that the government was taking steps to revive the economy.
13:43  Bus driver involved in SFI student's death arrested:  The driver of a private bus was today arrested for rash driving in connection with the death of the leader of CPI-M's student wing in Kolkata. 

According to the police, 22-year-old Sudipta Gupta had sustained injuries after he fell from the bus ferrying SFI supporters, who were arrested 
during a protest against postponement of college elections in the state. 

However, the CPI-M had alleged that Gupta succumbed to his injuries suffered in a lathicharge by the police during the protest. 

Further investigation into the case is being conducted with the arrest of the bus driver, a senior police official said.
13:35  India's Olympic ban continues as IOA drags its feet:  The joint meeting between the representatives of the suspended Indian Olympics Association, the sports ministry and the International Olympic Committee, to find a way in resolving the issue that led to India's ban from the Olympics, is likely to get postponed for the second time in two months. 

 The meeting scheduled to be held at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland on April 15 and 16, hangs in uncertainty now as the representatives of the IOA, V K Malhotra and Randhir Singh, and the sports ministry have not made headway over differences in age and tenure cap of officials, who head the sports federations. 

The IOC suspended the IOA after the government tried to introduce age and tenure guidelines, which amounted to the violation of the Olympic Charter.
12:54  Just In: The Supreme Court seeks response from civic bodies in Delhi, Bangalore,Chennai, Agra, Jaipur and Faridabad on the management, disposal of plastic waste.
12:53  Aurobindo gets tentative nod from USFDA for anti-AIDS drug:  Drug firm Aurobindo Pharma today said it has received tentative approval from the US health regulator to manufacture and market its anti-AIDS combination drug Efavirenz/Emtricitabine and Tenofovir Disoproxil Fumarate tablets in the American market. 

The company has received tentative approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for the combination drug in the strength of 600mg/200mg/300mg, Aurobindo Pharma said in a statement. 

The tablets are generic equivalent of Gilead Sciences Inc's Atripla tablets in the same strength combination and fall under the anti-retroviral segment, it added.
12:51   Six new faces in CAs list of 20 contracted players :  Cricket Australia has released the list of contracted players for the 2013-14 season, including two Ashes series, and has awarded 20 contracts, with six new faces from the last season. 

According to, the six players are George Bailey, Ed Cowan, James Faulkner, Phillip Hughes, Glenn Maxwell and Clint McKay.

Jackson Bird, Usman Khawaja and comeback kid Steve Smith have been left out off the contract list. 

Retired greats Michael Hussey and Ricky Ponting are also off the list while David Hussey's contract has not been renewed.
12:37  49-yr-old man indicted for hate crime against Sikh in US:  A US federal grand jury in Seattle has indicted a man from Washington on charges of hate crime against a 50-year-old Sikh. 

Jamie Larson, 49, has been charged with one count of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr Hate Crimes Prevention Act that was enacted in October 2009, the Department of Justice said in a statement yesterday. 

Larson faces a maximum of 10 years in jail if convicted.
12:36  'Forward-looking, pragmatic' foreign trade policy on April 18:   Just In: Commerce Minister Anand Sharma says forward looking pragmatic foreign trade policy will be announced on April 18. 

Talking of which, senior advocate and director, Lawyers Collective, Anand Grover has this to say: 'The Commerce Minister has said that India's law is fully in compliance with the TRIPS Agreement. However, on April 15, commerce minister Anand Sharma travels to Brussels to potentially sign the EU-India FTA that threatens to impose on India obligations far in excess of the TRIPS Agreement; obligations known to undermine generic production and access to medicines.'

So what will Anand Sharma do in Brussels? You can read Grover's article here.
12:25  Lindsay Lohan says 'pregnant' tweets was an April 1 prank:  Lindsay Lohan, who sent Twitter into a frenzy after tweeting about her pregnancy on Tuesday morning, has admitted that it was supposed to be an April Fool joke. She tweeted the lame prank to six million followers before confessing it was all for a laugh, the Mirror reported. 

"Where's everyone's sense of humour?' she tweeted. 

The controversial actress has been tangled up in a legal battle with a judge over a string of offences and it's reported she faces either a stint in rehab or time behind bars. 

Within two hours of posting the message it had been shared more than 10,000 times. 

The 26-year-old actress is staying in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where it was still April 1 when publishing the post.
11:59  Apple to release 'iPhone 5S' this summer: Report:  Apple is set for a possible summer launch of the next iPhone, that some are calling the iPhone 5S, rather than a fall launch like the last two models, according to a report Tuesday in The Wall Street Journal.

Apple is also working on a cheaper iPhone model that could win it some market share in developing countries, the paper said. It cited unnamed people "familiar with the device's production.

"The report is in line with the expectations of company watchers and Wall Street analysts. The iPhone 5 costs around $600, and while Apple maintains older iPhones in production, even those aren't cheap enough to compete effectively against low-end smartphones running Google's Android software.
11:34  US ready with counter provocation plan against N Korea:  Amid escalating tension in the Korean peninsula, the US today said it has devised a counter-provocation plan along with its allies to respond to North Korea's bellicose rhetoric and provocative actions. 

"We have plans in place with our South Korean allies, and naturally we hope never have to put any of these plans into place," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said, adding that the plan is led by South Korea's joint chiefs of staff. 

North Korea has declared a "state of war" with South and warned that US bases in Hawaii and Guam would be targeted in what could turn into "an all-out war, a nuclear war".
11:27  'Eyewitness says dead SFI activist was hit by policeman':  CNN IBN reports:

The death of a 23-year-old Student Federation of India activist, Sudipto Gupta, has sparked a row in Kolkata. Sudipto was fatally injured allegedly by the police during a crackdown in the city on Tuesday.

Eyewitnesses say the police bundled protesters on to a bus following a mass arrest and then Sudipto was pushed out of the bus and badly beaten up. SFI General Secretary Satarup Ghosh, who is an eyewitness, said, "He was hit on his head so hard that one of his eyes came out."

Read more
11:24  'US industry reviewing Supreme Court decision on Novartis':  The US industry today said it is reviewing the order of the Supreme Court early this week that denied patent on Glivec, a cancer medication produced by Swiss drug maker Novartis, as Corporate America expressed dismay at the court verdict. 

"We are aware of the Supreme Court decision and are reviewing the Court's order," the US Trade Representative spokesperson Andrea Mead told PTI.

"We look forward to continued engagement and successful collaboration with India on these issues," Mead said when asked on the US position on the Supreme Court decision.
11:10  Men on bike throw acid at four sisters in Uttar Pradesh:  Four sisters in Uttar Pradesh have suffered burn injuries after two men on a motorcycle threw acid on them as they were returning from school, the police said on Wednesday. One of women is in hospital in Delhi. 

The incident took place in Shamli, around100 km from the national capital, on Tuesday evening when the sisters, three of whom are teachers, were returning home from a government school. 
11:08  Kunda killings: UP govt decides to transfer officers:  The Uttar Pradesh government is all set to order the transfer of all the policemen, including four Station House Officers or SHOs in Kunda in Pratapgarh district in connection with the triple murders.

The order comes after the CBI asked for their transfer since they believe that they're affecting the investigation into the triple murder of Deputy SP Zia-ul-Haque, village Pradhan Nanhe Yadav and his brother Suresh.

Read more
11:04  Managing coalition is not easy: PM:   Speaking at the Confederation of Indian Industry in New Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that corruption and inertia in bureaucracy are problems. He said that managing a coalition government is not easy:

PM Singh said that the Land Acquisition Bill will soon be tabled in the Parliament.
10:53  Government and industry partners in progress: PM:   Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who is addressing the Confederation of Indian Industry in New Delhi, says business mood which was unduly optimistic in 2007, is unduly pessimistic today.

PM says growth slowing down to 5 per cent is disappointing but can get back to 8 per cent again: PM."We have to accept that exports will be weak and CAD will be higher than it should be," says PM. 

We are seeing a temporary economic downturn, partly due to global factors. We must take corrective actions, says PM.

He said that the slow down of growth not permanent. 

"Government and industry are partners in progress. Achieving high growth rate calls for speedy action," he said. 

Decline in private sector investment must be reversed. "I am encouraged by progress made by Cabinet Committee on Investment. The govt is reviewing FDI policy comprehensively," says PM.
10:19  N Korea blocks access to key industrial zone:  North Korea blocked South Korean access to a key joint industrial zone today, matching its angry rhetoric with action as Washington condemned Pyongyang's "dangerous, reckless" behaviour. 

Any move on the Seoul-funded Kaesong complex - established in 2004 and a crucial source of hard currency for North Korea - carries enormous significance and will send tensions soaring. 

Neither of the Koreas have allowed previous crises to significantly affect Kaesong, the only surviving example of inter-Korean cooperation and seen as a bellwether for the stability of the Korean peninsula.
09:52  Bhardwaj murder: Self-styled godman ordered the killing:   The police may have identified the mastermind of the fatal shooting of Bahujan Samaj Party leader and real estate tycoon Deepak Bhardwaj in his Delhi farmhouse. 

Sources have told CNN-IBN that the interrogation of the suspects has led to the name of a self-styled godman or Swami.Sources say this Swami is based out of Bahadurgarh in Haryana. 

Sources say the suspected shooters have said that this godman offered the shooters Rs 2 crore to kill Bhardwaj but did not give the money.

Read more
09:42  On Holi and the return of Musharraf:  The Express Tribune:

Between Holi and Good Friday this week, the India-Pakistan universe changed in such subtle and fundamental ways that both countries won't likely be the same again. 

On Holi in India, the celebration of the colours of life coincided with former Pakistan army chief and president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf's first press conference in Karachi after his return home. 

And on the eve of Good Friday, with the air pregnant with emotions of atonement and forgiveness, celebrated Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt broke down in public over his role in the terror acts of 1993, allegedly masterminded by Pakistan.

09:28  SFI leader dies in Kolkata; CPM says he was hit by cops:  A SFI leader, who was arrested after a clash with police, died in Kolkata on Tuesday triggering a row with the men in uniform claiming he fell from a vehilce while the party alleged he succumbed to injuries sustained in lathicharge by police.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Headquaters) Javed Shamim told that 22-year-old Sudipta Gupta died in a city hospital. 

"He received an injury in an accident when he, along with 30 others, was being taken in a bus after being arrested. There was no lathicharge by the police."The incident happened when SFI supporters gathered in Rani Rasmoni area of the city in connection with a protest rally to demand holding of college union elections in the state.

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09:10  Now, domestic companies in patent war:  In a twist in patent wars, a domestic generic company has dragged another to court. 

To protect its monopoly, domestic generic major Sun Pharma joined hands with MSD India, Merck's subsidiary , dragging domestic company Glenmark to the Delhi high court, seeking an injunction over the marketing of blockbuster diabetes drug, Januvia (sitagliptin).

Recently, Glenmark launched a more affordable version of Merck's blockbuster Januvia in the domestic market heightening tensions between MNCs and domestic generic companies, already embroiled in several patent disputes. 

Till now, turf wars between Big Pharma and generic companies , were largely restricted to exorbitantly-priced life saving drugs for cancer and HIV, have now spilled over to other chronic ailments like diabetes, and threaten to change the dynamics of the over Rs 70,000 crore Indian pharma market.

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08:39  Bus falls from viaduct in Rio, 7 reported killed:  A passenger bus plunged from a 10-meter-high (30-foot) viaduct in central Rio de Janeiro, killing at least seven people and closing a major thoroughfare. 

At least six people were injured in the accident, said Sergio Simoes yesterday, who heads Rio state's Civil Defence department, adding that number of injured was likely to rise.

Simoes said the dead were five men and two women. He said it was unclear how many were aboard and whether any of the passengers were children.
08:35  Blow for Hollande as ex-minister charged in tax fraud probe:  France's ex-budget minister Jerome Cahuzac was charged in a tax fraud probe after he admitted having a foreign bank account, dealing a fresh blow to President Francois Hollande's embattled government. 

Critics were quick to pounce on the scandal, demanding to know if Hollande or other top officials were aware of the account held by the minister once responsible for cracking down on tax evasion. 

In a contrite statement on his website, Cahuzac admitted to having had the foreign account for around 20 years and said he was "devastated by guilt".
08:33  Iran has opportunity at P5+1 talks: Kerry:  Ahead of the P5 plus One talks in Almaty, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that Iran has an opportunity to address the concerns of the international community with regard to its nuclear weapons program. 

"Iran knows exactly what it needs to do in order to address international concerns about its nuclear program, and it can start doing so next weekend in Almaty at the P-5+1 talks," Kerry told reporters yesterday. 

P5 plus one, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - United States, France, China, Britain and Germany will meet on April 5-6 in Almaty.
08:32  US share very real concern about Egypt: Kerry:  The US government has cautioned Egypt of losing its path to democratic transition while expressing concerns with the recent arrest, street violence and failure of Egyptian government. 

"We share a very real concern in the Obama Administration about the direction that Egypt is apparently moving in. And this is a key moment for Egypt. It's really a tipping point for Egypt," US Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters yesterday.
08:11  UN overwhelmingly approves global arms trade treaty:  The 193-nation U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the first treaty on the global arms trade, which seeks to regulate the $70 billion business in conventional arms and keep weapons out of the hands of human rights abusers.

The National Rifle Association (NRA), a powerful U.S. pro-gun lobbying group that has opposed the treaty from the start, said it was a sad day for the United States, which joined the vast majority of U.N. member states by voting for the pact.
08:10  Ambani brothers dialled deal at nieces wedding do at Antilla:  Early pointers to Tuesday's optic fibre network deal that has brought the Ambani family back into the picture-perfect frame of a happy family, were visible when billionaire brothers Mukesh and Anil came together to celebrate their father Dhirubhai Ambani's birth anniversary at Chorwad in Gujarat two years back. 

It was then that their mother Kokilaben, often seen as a binding figure between the two brothers, used the line "hum sab saath hain", hinting at a possible partnership in the days to come.

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03:37  Heard of the airline charging passengers by body weight?:  
Bad news for those carrying a few extra pounds: Samoa Air has become the world's first airline to introduce a pricing policy which charges passengers by body weight. Time to diet.

The pricing policy will see passengers enter their weight along with the weight of their baggage at the time of booking. The combined weight will then be used to calculate their fare -- and the values will be verified at the airport, with customers being weighed.

The new policy is motivated by the fact that Samoa Air's fleet is largely made up of small 12-seater aircraft, which see passengers and baggage accounting for a much larger proportion of total takeoff weight than bigger airplaines. That, and the fact that Samoa has a serious obesity problem.

Read more HERE
03:24  Dolce & Gabbana fined $441 million for tax evasion:  
Italy's Tax Commission has fined fashion designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana 343.4 million euros ($441 million) for tax evasion.

The decision confirmed to Reuters by Italy's tax agency on Tuesday relates to payments the agency says should have been made when the designers sold their D&G and Dolce & Gabbana brands to their own Luxembourg-based holding company GADO in 2004.

The authorities ruled that the designers engineered the transaction to avoid paying taxes in Italy, where corporate tax rates are among the world's highest.

Dolce and Gabbana, known for their Sicily-inspired style, were not available for comment on Tuesday, though they have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
01:54  After Obama snub, Saudis tap South Africa for armed drone:  
Saudi Arabia is to procure an armed drone from South Africa following an Obama administration refusal to sell the oil-rich kingdom US Predator or Reaper missile-firing, unmanned aircraft.

The Washington Free Beacon reports that the state-owned South African company Denel Dynamics is working covertly with the Saudis to develop the Seeker 400 drone into an armed combat system for the Saudi military.

Intelligence Online noted that the Saudi military would be the first customer to purchase the Seeker 400 armed drone and engineers from Denel are currently in the country as part of the program.

The new drone is reported to come equipped with South Africa's Mokopa air-to-ground missiles that are currently deployed on Algerian helicopters. The drone also can be outfitted with laser-guided missiles with a range of 10 kilometres.

While the Saudis maintain that the drones are for use in countering Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, some have expressed their concern over Saudi Arabia's human rights record, and the worry that drones could eventually be used against its own population in the event of a popular uprising.
01:52  Mandela still suffering from fluid buildup in lungs:  
Nelson Mandela continues to experience a problem with fluid buildup in his lungs and is being treated for pneumonia with oral medication, sources told NBC News on Tuesday.

The 94-year-old human-rights icon and former South Africa president was admitted to hospital late on Wednesday after the recurrence of a lung infection that has dogged him since December.

However, a South African government spokesman denied the report that fluid buildup continues to be a problem, saying the former president is breathing without difficult after being treated.
01:51  Eurozone unemployment hits all-time high: 19 million out of work:  
Eurozone unemployment levels have hit 12 percent the highest in the history of eurozone record-keeping, since the currency was launched in 1999.

The average unemployment rate across the eurozones 17 constituent European Union countries rose from Januarys initial 11.9 percent high to 12 percent in February, meaning a further 33,000 people were put out of work. Overall, 19.071 million are jobless across Europe.

Some countries, including Spain and Greece suffered unemployment rates as high as 26 percent over the month of February.

Spain and Greece have both been shaken by violent protests, with Greece experiencing a massive increase in suicides and attempted suicides in 2010 and 2011.

Conversely, the lowest unemployment rates are still to be found in Luxembourg (5.5 percent), Germany (5.4 percent), Austria (4.8 percent) and the Netherlands (6.2 percent).

Youth unemployment (under-25s) has also soared, leaving 5.694 million out of work in the EU 27 (3.581 million of whom were in the euro area).
01:49  'Friendliness' confuses Indian men, female tourists warned:  
Farhang Jehani, who owns the famous Leopold Cafe in Mumbai, has told that Indian men often get the "wrong signal" from female tourists who are simply being friendly.
"(Female tourists) behave very well. It's not a question of them not behaving," he said.

"They are friendly and that's the problem with India -- we take it as a wrong signal and that's the whole thing.

"Indian men take it as a wrong signal and take it as the wrong way."

Read more HERE

01:45  How Pathsala became one of Assam's major education hubs:  
In a quiet place known only for mobile theatres, there are now tens of thousands of students swarming into a large number of schools, coaching classes and hostels in a small town called Pathsala in Assam.

The roots of Pathsala's social revolution go back to 2002 when the Bajali Academy of Excellence, a private higher secondary institution, was established there. 

In Assam, the top ten rank holders in board exams tend to become overnight celebrities. Their interviews are published in the media for months and nearly every organisation in the state felicitates them. 

In 2005, Hiramoni Patgiri from Bajali Academy stood second in Arts and it immediately brought Pathsala into the limelight.

Read more HERE
01:39  Why is Google in trouble in 6 European nations?:  
Google could face fines from six European countries' privacy regulators, including the UK and Germany, after refusing to reverse changes to its privacy policies made in March 2012.

The search company has infuriated the regulators by declining to respond to their demands made over multiple months -- even as research shows that user concerns about online privacy are high.

France's privacy body, CNIL, together with its counterparts in the UK, Netherlands, German, Spain and Italy, said on Tuesday they will take joint legal action involving an investigation and possible fines. The UK's information commissioner's office (ICO) can levy fines of up to 500,000 Pound for breaches of the Data Protection Act. A decision is expected by summer 2013. CNIL could fine it up to Euro 300,000 (255,000 Pound ).

However, even both fines added together would be less than Google generates in sales in 10 minutes. Yet the regulators could sue to block Google from operating in Europe -- a move that would be highly damaging to its reputation.

Google's rival Facebook has been forced in the past to make a number of changes to its operation to comply with Europe's data protection laws, which are significantly tougher -- but more fragmented -- than those in the US.

Read more HERE
01:39  SC order on Novartis will impact investment: USIBC:  
Expressing unease over the Supreme Court ruling against pharmaceutical giant Novartis denying the company a patent on its cancer drug, a major business advocacy group today said that this would impact innovation and investment climate in India at a time when the country needs foreign direct investment the most.

"Innovation requires the reward and protection of intellectual property. We are certain India's leadership understands this, and that creating and maintaining an environment that inspires and enables innovation is in India's ultimate, long-term interest. Such an environment is crucial if India is to attract investment in this or other highly complex sectors," US-India Business Council president Ron Somers said.

The court's decision cites Section 3 (d) of India's patent law and states that a patentee must prove enhanced efficacy of a medicine in order to obtain a patent in India, a USIBC statement said. 

Over 40 countries including China, Russia and Taiwan have already granted a patent for Novartis' Glivec and India now stands out as unique for not granting a patent to this incremental innovation, the statement said.
00:21  Why China's military has turned to gaming:  
China's Communist Party and its more than two-million-man army aren't supposed to like video games.

Home-video consoles, that were growing in popularity through the 1990s, were officially banned in 2000 for fear that they were corrupting Chinese youth.

It was a kind of King Canute communism -- an attempt to hold back the rising tide of capitalism and the inflow of Western cultural products.

Of course, in the end it failed and the shrill warnings about "electronic heroin" were drowned out by consumer demand.

Consoles remained available on the grey market and the gaming industry simply moved online.

Today it's an industry that's worth more than 50bn Chinese RMB ($7.9bn; 5.2bn) a year and the Communist Party and its army are now well and truly in on the act.

Since its public release a few months ago, Glorious Mission, a video game initially designed for and by the Chinese military, has been downloaded more than a million times.

It might look like just another shoot 'em up blood-fest but it is, in fact, China's latest propaganda tool.

Read more HERE

00:15  How NASA's nuclear rockets will take us beyond Mars:  
The first people to step on to the surface of Mars won't arrive aboard the chemical-fueled rockets that delivered Apollo 11 to the Moon -- they simply don't provide enough thrust to get to the Red Planet before exposing their crews to months of dangerous space radiation. 

Instead, NASA is turning to long-ignored nuclear-thermal rocket technology to deliver the first Martian explorers into history.

Read more HERE

00:14  Top headlines at this hour:  UN adopts global arms trade treaty, India abstains

Katrina, Deepika, SRK spice up IPL opening ceremony

In jail designer Anand Jon sentenced in another case

NIA won't press for death sentence against Italian marines

Rain doesn't deter VVIPs from joining CBI's 50th year bash 

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