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Live! Telangana bill: Digvijaya holds talks with AP Cong leaders

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December 12, 2013


23:38  Interview with Edward Snowden:  Read Michael Scherer's exclusive interview of Edward Snowden for TIME
23:04  Telangana bill: Digvijaya holds talks with AP Cong leaders:  

On a day the Centre sent the controversial Telangana Bill (draft state reorganisation bill) to the Andhra Pradesh assembly for its views, AICC General Secretary Digvijaya Singh, in-charge of Congress affairs in the state, held hectic parleys with party leaders from Telangana and Seemandhra in Hyderabad today.        

 

Singh's two-day visit assumes significance as the winter session of the AP legislature also began today. A large number of party leaders, including ministers, met Singh, but the most important was his meeting with Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, who is a staunch opponent of the proposed division.        

 

There was no official word on the meeting, but it is learnt that the issue of the bill was discussed. Chief Minister Reddy had said recently at a public rally that he would not allow Andhra Pradesh to be divided.   Meanwhile, ministers and MLAs from Telangana urged Singh to see to it that Telangana bill be taken up for debate in the winter session.        

 

State Major Industries Minister J Geetha Reddy, a senior leader from Telangana region, told reporters that Singh gave hearing to leaders from both sides.

22:14  Don't have numbers to get Women's Bill passed in Par: Cong:   Various political parties today came out in support of the Women's Reservation Bill even as Congress expressed apprehension about its smooth passage in Parliament citing disruptions in the current session and saying it does not have the numbers to see it through.

Some leaders also attacked Samajwadi Party and RJD for opposing provisions of the Bill, which seeks to give 33 per cent reservation to women in Parliament and state assemblies, saying they were doing so despite claiming to be "disciples of Dr Ram Manohar Lohia",who strongly supported socialist reform.

Speaking at an event organised by women's organisations to discuss the Bill, Congress MP Bhakt Charan Das said, "I do not think the Bill can come in this session. The government's stand was that amongst the two or three important bills, the Women's Reservation Bill, which has been passed in Rajya Sabha, should be passed in Lok Sabha.
22:09  Bangladesh hangs Islamist leader:  BBC reports: Bangladesh has executed Islamist leader Abdul Kader Mullah, convicted of atrocities in 1971 war of independence.

Read the full story here
21:31  Lt Governor Najeeb Jung invites Aam Admi Party:  Lt Governor Najeeb Jung has invited the Aam Admi Party for discussion on govt formation, meeting likely on Saturday.Moer details are awaited.
20:18  Heartbreaking responses to indias ban on same-sex intercourse:  Yesterday, the Supreme Court upheld Section 377 of the constitution, an old British law that criminalizes sodomy. Here are some poignant social media reactions from the Indian public.

Read them here
20:12  Delhi polls: BJP will not form govt in Delhi: Harsh Vardhan:   Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung today held discussions with BJP's Chief Ministerial candidate Harsh Vardhan in an effort to break the stalemate over government formation in the national capital.

The Delhi polls threw up a fractured mandate with no party securing majority in the 70-member Assembly. BJP, along with its ally Akali Dal's one seat, has 32 MLAs in the 70-member House while AAP has got 28 seats followed by Congress' eight.

JD-U has won one seat while the Mundka seat had gone to an Independent. Both BJP and Aam Aadmi Party have been sticking to their ground of not forming a government citing lack of clear mandate.

AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal had declared yesterday that his party would prefer fresh polls than forming a government with support from Congress or BJP.
19:46  Oz hit-and-run case: Accused appeals Indian govt for help:  Accused in a 2008 hit-and-run case in Australia, Puneet Puneet today appealed to the Indian government to help him as a local court in issued transit remand for him to appear before a Delhi court tomorrow.

Puneet, now 24, had fled Australia in 2009, after he was wanted in a hit-and-run case in Southbank, Victoria, Australia, that killed a 19-year-old youth Dean Hofstee and seriously injured his friend Clancy Cloker.

Puneet was arrested by Rajpura police on November 29 after Victoria (Australia) Police last year offered a reward of $1,00,000 for him.
19:16  Will Congress support AAP in Delhi? Rahul says...:   Answering a question on whether the Congress will extend support to the Aam Aadmi Party to help the latter form the government in Delhi, party Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said the matter was "under consideration".
19:12  Mandela's death pic posted on net; govt, family outraged:  A death picture of Nelson Mandela, lying in state, was posted on the internet today, prompting angry reactions from the people and the South African government, who denounced the breach of custom. 

Tens of thousands of people queued to file past Mandela's body, lying in state, at the Unions Buildings, where he assumed charge as the country's first black and freely elected president in 1994. 

Someone took a picture of Mandela, lying in state, and posted it on Twitter. 

When the news of the image broke today morning, many believed it was a hoax because of the tight security around Mandela's body, The Star reported.
18:52  Telangana Bill reaches Hyderabad:  A correspondent in Delhi reports: The Telangana Bill has been handed over to the chief secretary of Andhra Pradesh.

President Pranab Mukherjee has indicated that January 23, 2014, is the cut-off date for AP assembly to give its view on the Bill. 

Suresh Kumar, joint secretary at the Union home ministry, is carrying the presidential communique to Hyderabad. He had an hour-long meeting with Governor E S L Narasimhan today.   
18:48  Hamid Karzai's lecture to Parliament cancelled:  A lecture by Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai to Parliament scheduled for Friday has been cancelled amid the logjam in both Houses over Telangana and other issues.        

Karzai, who arrived in Delhi today on a four-day visit, was to deliver the 5th Hiren Mukherjee Memorial annual Parliamentary lecture on Friday evening in the Central Hall of Parliament.        

He was to speak on Afghanistan's Experience in Constitutionalism and Democracy: Lessons We Take From India.
18:40  Chandrababu to attend Vasundhara's swearing-in:  In an indication that he is cozying up to the BJP, Telugu Desam Party president N Chandrababu Naidu will be visiting Jaipur on Friday to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Vasundhara Raje as chief minister of Rajasthan.        

The BJP extended an invitation to Chandrababu Naidu to attend the swearing-in ceremony, which will also be graced by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.        

Ever since Narendra Modi was named the BJP's prime ministerial candidate and exhorted the TDP to join hands to oust the Congress, Chandrababu has been preparing the ground to realign with his erstwhile ally.
18:38  Digvijay holds discussions on Andhra bifurcation:  Against the backdrop of continuing opposition against the division of Andhra Pradesh, AICC General Secretary Digvijay Singh today began a two-day visit to the state to hold consultations with leaders from both sides.        

Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, a vocal opponent of the state's division, held a meeting with Singh, in-charge of party affairs in Andhra Pradesh.        

Several other leaders, including ministers from Telangana region, also called on Singh.
18:00  Will recover reimbursements due from US: Pakistan minister:  Amid reports of the US threatening to stop reimbursements for Pakistan's expenses on the war on terror if NATO supply routes are not opened, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has said he will recover every outstanding dollar.        

"It is Pakistan's money and belongs to the people of Pakistan. It is not a charity or donation. We will recoverevery outstanding dollar," he said.        

Dar said this was not the Pakistan of the past and promised to get the money within two to four weeks. The total outstanding amount from the US is about $1.5 billion.
17:55  Hope India responds to proposal for NSA meetings: Pak:   Pakistan today said it hoped India would "positively" respond to its proposal for an institutionalised mechanism for meetings between National Security Advisors of the two sides to discuss terrorism.        

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had mooted the proposal during a meeting with Indian High Commissioner T C A Raghavan.        

"We do hope that these proposals which are emanating from Pakistan would be sincerely and positively reciprocated," Foreign Office spokesman Aizaz Chaudhry told a weekly news briefing.
17:51  Shocking! Darul Uloom Deoband welcomes SC verdict :  Leading Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband today welcomed the Supreme Court verdict declaring gay sex illegal and asked the Centre not to repeal Section 377 that criminalises homosexuality.        

"Homosexuality is an offence under Islamic law and haram (prohibited) in Islam," said a senior official of the Darul Uloom.
17:48  Rahul speaks up AGAINST SC verdict on gay sex:  Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi has spoken up against the Supreme Court's controversial verdict on upholding Section 377, which criminalises homosexuality.

"Sexual preference is a matter of personal choice. It's an individual's choice, it (the choice) should be left to them. This country is known for its freedom of expression," said Gandhi, adding that he agreed with the Delhi high court's decision in 2009, which had declared Section 377 unconstitutional.
16:31  Muzaffarnagar riots: SC pulls up UP over children's death in camps:  
Supreme Court has expressed concern over media reports pointing to the death of over 50 children due to cold weather in the relief camps set up for Muzaffarnagar riots victims.

Directing the Uttar Pradesh government to take immediate steps to look into allegations of inadequate facilities for the people living in camps, the apex court also mentioned media reports on children dying in Muzaffarnagar.

Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati said she would raise the matter in Parliament. "Around 50-60 children have died in the relief camps due to lack of medical aid. The people have also been forced to leave the camps. We condemn this incident and will raise the issue in Parliament," said Mayawati.

The report had shown that only one blanket was distributed to every family. There were also reports of blankets being stolen as many of the riot victims failed to get any.

Several camps were very dirty and surrounded by filth as the administration had failed to undertake regular cleaning drives, resulting in many of the refugees falling victim to contagious diseases.

On November 21 the Supreme Court had objected to an Uttar Pradesh government notification announcing compensation only for Muslims affected by the Muzaffarnagar riots.
16:27  SP to oppose Lokpal Bill in Rajya Sabha:  
Samajwadi Party today made it clear that it will oppose the Lokpal Bill slated to come up in the Rajya Sabha while the JD(U) and NCP supported its early passage. 

There is no question of supporting it, SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav said outside Parliament. 

Asked repeatedly why the party is opposing it, Yadav said, "This is hypothetical question. First let it come and then we will tell you." 

His colleague Naresh Agarwal, however, said "government has lost the trust of the people so it should not bring any Bill in the House". 

Supporting the Lokpal Bill, JD(U) leader K C Tyagi said the party is in favour of setting up Lokpal.  

"Anna has written to Nitish Kumar on Lokpal. We are in favour of an effective, transparent Lokpal. We will not oppose it but we will definitely give suggestion." 
15:56  11 MPs caught in sting op issuing letters to fake oil company:  
In its latest undercover investigation, codenamed Operation Falcon Claw, Cobrapost has exposed a bunch of parliamentarians willing to not only write recommendation letters but also lobby with the petroleum ministry for a foreign company to help it secure oil exploration and rigging rights in the Northeast. 

In all 11 MPs from the Congress Party, the BJP, the JDU, AIADMK and BSP were reportedly caught on camera willing to help the company set up shop in India. However, none of them bothered to check the antecedents of the company or check if the company was real. 

The parliamentarians who stand exposed are K Sugumar and C Rajendran from AIADMK; Lalu Bhai Patel, Ravindra Kumar Pandey and Hari Manjhi from BJP; Vishwa Mohan Kumar, Maheshwar Hazari and Bhudeo Chaudhary from JDU; Khiladi Lal Bairwa and Vikrambhai Arjanbhai from Congress; and Kaiser Jahan from BSP. 

The 6 MPs allagedly gave the undercover journalists letters of recommendation in favour of Mediterranean Oil Inc for a sum ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 75,000. 

'Others wont settle for less than Rs 5 lakh for a single letter, and in one case an MP quoted a ridiculously high price for a single letter, at Rs 50 lakh. There was no point giving them so much money,' Cobrapost said.
15:41  Pakistan Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif meets PM, takes metro ride:  
Pakistan Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Thursday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and visited Delhi Metro's busiest Rajiv Chowk station. 

Shahbaz, the younger brother of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, arrived here this morning on the invitation of his Punjab counterpart in India, Parkash Singh Badal. 
 
India and Pakistan can combat poverty if both the sides resolve their differences, said Shahbaz after meeting the PM. 

Later, Shahbaz, who launched a Metro Bus Service project in Lahore, also visited the Patel Chowk Metro station. 

After taking the metro ride, Shahbaz said he had a great time and said Delhi Metro was of great benefit to travellers. 
15:40  Kingfisher plea: Mallya comes back empty handed from court:  
Karnataka High Court has rejected a petition by Vijay Mallya-led Kingfisher Airlines Limited challenging the move by a consortium of banks to take possession of its "Kingfisher House" property in Mumbai to realise part of the debts due to them from the airlines. 

Kingfisher Airlines Limited (KAL) had sought the high court's intervention to prevent the banks from taking possession of the property, which houses the airline's prominent offices, but Justice Anand Byrareddy rejected the contention.

In his order yesterday, Justice Byrareddy said sections 34 and 35 of the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act, 2002, bars the Company Court from excercising its power when the banks invoke provisions under it to take possession of the pledged assets. 

SBICAP Trustee Company Limited had filed an application before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (Esplanade, Mumbai) on behalf of the consortium to take possession of the property to realise part of the debts due to the banks, which was challenged by KAL. 
15:14  Why is Modi mum on gay rights ruling: Cong:  
Amidst hullabaloo over the Supreme Court's ruling restoring the ban on gay sex, the Congress has sought the Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate's opinion on the matter. 

Talking to a news channel, Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha asked the reason behind Narendra Modi's silence over the Supreme Court's ruling on gay rights. 
 
Jha, talking to another channel, described Modi's silence as deafening. 

"India and its people, young and old, want to know what is your (Narendra Modi) opinion on Section 377," asked Jha.
15:13  Sreesanth ties the knot:  
Tainted Indian Cricketer S Sreesanth exchanged wedding vows with Bhuwneswari Kumari, hailing from a royal family in Rajasthan, at a simple ceremony at the famous Sri Krishna temple in Guruvayur this morning. 

Sreesanth tied the sacred 'thali' (mangalsutra) around his bride Bhuwneswari alias Nayan's neck at 0745 am at the temple after which Tulsi and flower garlands were exchanged by the bride and groom.

The simple ceremony was attended by close relatives only. 

The bride, a jewellery designer, and Sreesanth knew each other since the past 6 years. A reception will be held this evening at Kochi. 

Sreesanth fell from grace after he was arrested on spot-fixing charges in May this year and is now out on bail. 

The tempermental cricketer was banned for life from playing cricket by the BCCI following his alleged involvement in spot-fixing in the 2013 IPL season.
14:45  'The Constitution, our new Manu Smriti, rejects homosexuals':  In every age there is a Manu who writes the Manu Smriti, code of appropriate social conduct for humans. The first Manu Smriti established the caste system and validated practice of untouchability and seeing women as being inferior to men. We rejected it, and rightly so, writes Devdutt Pattanaik on his blog. 

 'The Constitution, the new Manu Smriti, rejects homosexuals. At least, that is what the Supreme Court Judgement on IPC 377 seems to suggest in spirit, if not letter,' he says.

How did ancient India handle trans-gender issues? Devdutt, a popular author on India's epics, offers a view here.
14:29  Kamal Nath says no plan to adjourn Parliament sine die on Friday:  Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath on Thursday said the government will list the Lokpal Bill in the Rajya Sabha for tomorrow.

He also said there was no plan to curtail the winter session of Parliament "at the moment", as the Lokpal Bill is "our priority" and other important business have to be taken up. 

Asked about reports that the government was considering adjourning Parliament sine die by Friday, he said, "There is no plan at the moment to curtail the session. We have allocated time for other businesses and we have a list of priorities. 

"Our priority is Lokpal Bill. It has to be taken up in the Rajya Sabha, and then it will come up in the Lok Sabha," he said.
13:48  Congress president hopes Parliament will address concerns over Sec 377 :  
Tainted Indian Cricketer S Sreesanth exchanged wedding vows with Bhuwneswari Kumari, hailing from a royal family in Rajasthan, at a simple ceremony at the famous Sri Krishna temple in Guruvayur this morning. 

Sreesanth tied the sacred 'thali' (mangalsutra) around his bride Bhuwneswari alias Nayan's neck at 0745 am at the temple after which Tulsi and flower garlands were exchanged by the bride and groom.

The simple ceremony was attended by close relatives only. 

The bride, a jewellery designer, and Sreesanth knew each other since the past 6 years. A reception will be held this evening at Kochi. 

Sreesanth fell from grace after he was arrested on spot-fixing charges in May this year and is now out on bail. 

The tempermental cricketer was banned for life from playing cricket by the BCCI following his alleged involvement in spot-fixing in the 2013 IPL season.
13:28  Sonia Gandhi criticises SC ruling on gay sex:  
After what seemed to be a non-committal response by its ministers just after the judgement, the ruling Congress came out strongly against the verdict and said Section 377 must be repealed.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi said, "The court suggested another course. I hope Parliament will address the issue and uphold the Constitutional guarantee of life and liberty to all citizens, including those directly affected by the judgement." 

This came as two senior ministers, Law Minister Kapil Sibal and Finance Minister P Chidambaram, also said all possible options were being explored.
13:18  Tejas to replace MiG-21: IAF Chief Browne:  
Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne on Thursday said that light combat aircraft 'Tejas' will replace the iconic MiG-21. 

The Tejas is India's first indigenously-designed and developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). 

Tejas has been developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation with Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), Bangalore, as the lead laboratory and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited as the production partner. 

The MiG-21 FL -- a variant in the MiG-21 series of fighter aircraft -- that heralded the dawn of the supersonic jet era for the Indian Air Force half a century ago, on Wednesday passed into military aviation history at an emotional fly past and parade at an air base in West Bengal. 
12:57  Srinagar records coldest night of season:  
The residents here had to light fire under the frozen water taps as temperature of minus 3.4 degrees Celsius was recorded on Thursday, making it the coldest night of the season so far. 

"The night temperature dropped to minus 3.4 degrees Celsius in Srinagar today (Thursday). This is the coldest recorded here this season so far," an official at the weather office here said. 

Mercury also slipped well below the average for the season across the Kashmir Valley. 

"In Gulmarg, the minimum was minus 6.1 degrees Celsius and minus 5.2 in Pahalgam, while the Leh town recorded minus 11.8 and the Kargil town minus 9.2 today (Thursday). 

"The minimum temperature in Jammu city was 6.5 degrees," the official of the weather office told a news agency. 
12:35  Govt may table Lokpal Bill in Rajya Sabha tomorrow:  
The UPA government might table the Lokpal Bill in the Rajya Sabha on Friday. 

The reports came amid clarification by Union Minister Kamal Nath that the government was not planning to curtail the Winter Session of Parliament. 

"At the moment all the speculations and the media reports are not true. There is no plan at the moment to curtail the session," Kamal Nath told reporters outside Parliament. 
 
There were media reports on Wednesday that Parliament may be forced to adjourn sine die ahead of schedule due to the continued disruptions. 

He further said that "our priority is to pass the Lokpal Bill. The Lokpal Bill has to be taken in Rajya Sabha, then it will come to Lok Sabha." 
12:31  They come, sit, protest and leave.

For five days on the trot, Parliament has done zero work.

Lok Sabha adjourned for the day; Rajya Sabha till 2 pm after uproar over various issues. 
12:28  Just in: Bangladesh Supreme Court upholds death penalty to senior Jamaat-e-Islami leader Abdul Quader Mollah for 1971 crimes against humanity.
12:25  Bedridden Taliban commander emerges as prize in high-stakes Afghan-US poker game:  As deadlock over Afghan-US security pact continues, efforts are on to hammer out a behind-the-scenes compromise

Late last month, top Afghan peace negotiator Salahuddin Rabbani arrived in Islamabad to meet a man he hoped would change the course of history

Click here to read
12:21  SC verdict on gay sex takes us back to 1860: Chidambaram:  
A day after the Supreme Court dealt a blow to gay rights activists by upholding the constitutional validity of Section 377 making gay sex an offence, Union minister P Chidambaram on Thursday expressed his disappointment with the judgement. 

Speaking to an English news channel, Chidambaram said he was extremely disappointed with the SC judgement on gay rights, adding we have gone back to 1860. 
 
Ruing the verdict, the Finance Minister said laws cannot remain static. 

He further demanded that the government file a curative petition in the apex court and ask for matter to be reviewed by a bench of five judges. 

A bench of justices GS Singhvi and SJ Mukhopadhaya yesterday set aside the Delhi High Court's verdict which had in 2009 decriminalised gay sex among consenting adults in private. 
12:10  Madurai Kamaraj University shut down indefinitely over student protests:  The Madurai Kamaraj University, which has been in a state of tension these last few days (read A Ganesh Nadar's report on what went wrong on the campus), was indefinitely closed today as students started boycotting classes to emphathise with two dismissed and one transferred student. 

Following the shutdown all the hostels have been vacated. But students have refused to go home and were even cooking food outside the main gate. 

Students Federation of India members from five districts have turned up at MKU to show solidarity with the students, and the Madurai University Faculty Association has pitched in with 15 members. 

These 15 along with 300 students were arrested for blocking the university gates yesterday and were later released. 

Meanwhile, students from Madras and Alagappa University too wore black bands to express solidarity with their counterparts in Madurai Kamaraj University.
12:00  UP can't withdraw terror cases without Centre's permission: HC:  
In a major setback for the Samajwadi Party government of Akhilesh Yadav, the Allahabad High Court has rapped it saying it cannot withdraw terror cases without the consent of the Centre.

The high court order came after the state government withdrew terror cases against 19 Muslims who were accused in terror cases.

According to the Lucknow bench of the High Court, Centre's permission was needed as the accused were booked under Central acts. So the Uttar Pradesh government cannot withdraw the cases, the court ruled.

The Uttar Pradesh government had announced that it would withdraw cases against the accused in the 2007 serial blasts in Lucknow, Varanasi and Faizabad.

While recommending the withdrawal cases, the state government had claimed that those accused in the cases had been jailed for a long time and investigators had failed to file chargesheets.

The high nourt had earlier questioned the legality of the decision taken by the state government.
11:20  AP assembly given six weeks to take a call on Telangana bill:  
The Andhra Pradesh assembly has been given six weeks time to take a call on the state reorganisation bill that seeks to create a separate Telangana state.

Official sources said that President Pranab Mukherjee suggested this time limit last night when he remitted the bill back to the Union government to be on passed to the AP legislature.

The bill will be now sent to the Andhra Pradesh Assembly and the Speaker N Manohar's office has already been informed about it. 

The Winter Session of the state legislature begins today. 

The President had sought legal opinions as he wanted the bill, which provides for creation of Telangana by bifurcating Andhra Pradesh, to be legally sound before sending it to the state assembly for approval.
11:11  How does Verdict 2013 impact 2014, for the BJP, Congress and the third front?:  If anything, one has been overrun by analyses of various analysts of the recent assembly election results, but if you are looking for a comprehensive parsing of the results, we may be help you. Read on.   

'For the media in Delhi and the intellectual elite it is the arrival of AAP that defines the victory which only goes on to show how shallow Delhi is, for it cannot see an India beyond the national capital. For the BJP supporters it is the ultimate wave in their favor, but they tend to forget that these states were essentially their strongholds and bipolar in nature. For the Congress, well, it continues to live in denial, at least publicly,' says Dr Praveen Patil on his blog, and attempts to 'dissect these assembly elections with cold neutrality and try to capture the signals'.

Read his incisive analysis here.
10:50  AP assembly given six weeks to take a call on Telangana bill:  
The Andhra Pradesh assembly has been given six weeks time to take a call on the state reorganisation bill that seeks to create a separate Telangana state.

Official sources said that President Pranab Mukherjee suggested this time limit last night when he remitted the bill back to the Union government to be on passed to the AP legislature.

The bill will be now sent to the Andhra Pradesh Assembly and the Speaker N Manohar's office has already been informed about it. 

The Winter Session of the state legislature begins today. 

The President had sought legal opinions as he wanted the bill, which provides for creation of Telangana by bifurcating Andhra Pradesh, to be legally sound before sending it to the state assembly for approval.
10:13  Rajinikanth turns 63; spends birthday in Bangalore:  
Tamil superstar Rajinikanth today turned 63 and is said to be celebrating his birthday in native town Bangalore.

Sources close to the actor said he had earlier left for the city, keeping with his usual practice of staying away from Chennai on his birthday every year. However, he had met his fans last year. 

Die-hard fans of the veteran actor have organised special prayers and welfare activities to celebrate their idol's birthday.

Rajinikanth's is a typical rags-to-riches story as he has transformed his mundane life as a bus conductor in Bangalore to that of a most sought after actor, with a frenzied fan base hailing him as their 'Thalaivar' (The Leader). 

From what started as a small role in his mentor K Balachander's 'Aboorva Ragangal' in 1975, Rajinikanth soon charted his path as a preferred villain before opting for more positive roles.
09:57  Cobrapost sting op to unmask 'corrupt' netas today:  
Watch out for yet another controversial expose from Cobrapost on 11 Members of Parliament who were willing to issue recomendatory letters for a fictitious Australian oil exploration company for money.

That investigation report comes out at 3:30 pm. So watch this space...

Recently, Cobrapost, in partnership with another investigative website Gulail, had exposed the aggressive and illegal surveillance mounted by Amit Shah, former minister of state for home and close aide of Narendra Modi, on a young woman. The two websites brought out several dozen telephone conversations between Shah and IPS officer G L Singhal, who was arrested in a fake encounter case, on the surveillance. 

Cobrapost also recently screened a sting operation, called Operation Blue Virus, showing that several information technology companies were misusing social media platforms such as the Facebook and Twitter to artificially boost politicians' popularity and destroy rivals' reputations. 
09:17  Annas fast for Jan Lokpal Bil enters 3rd day:  
Meanwile, social activist Anna Hazare's indefinite hunger strike pressing for passage in Parliament of Jan Lokpal Bill entered the third day on Thursday. 

The 76-year-old anti-corruption crusader has said that he will not break his fast till the Jan Lokpal Bill is passed in the Parliament. 

Anna has parked himself near the Yadavbaba temple in the village, under the banner of 'Jantantra Morcha'. 

His associate and former IPS officer Kiran Bedi is expected to join Annas fast from Saturday. 
09:15  Narrow escape for Rahul at Delhi airport:  
Zee News reports: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi had a narrow escape on Tuesday at Indira Gandhi International airport here, when he was returning from Rae Bareli in his private jet. 

It is being said that Rahul's plane was given the clearance to land at the same runaway where an Ilyushin aircraft of Indian Air Force plane was moving and about to take off. 

However, fortunately just moments before Rahul's Cessna Citation was about to land, the airport traffic control alerted the Congress vice president's pilot to abort landing.

Reports further suggest that Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has ordered probe into the incident.
09:01  Raman Singh to take oath as Chhattisgarh CM for 3rd time today:  
After a historic win in the assembly elections, Raman Singh will be sworn-in as Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh for third consecutive time on Thursday, in the presence of several senior politicians. 

Singh, (61), will be administered the oath of office at a ceremony, which would begin at 11 am at the police parade ground where tight security arrangements are in place.

BJP leaders who will attend the function include party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, LK Advani, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh, Venkaiah Naidu, Nitin Gadkari, Shivraj Chouhan and Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, party state unit spokesperson Rasik Parmar said. 

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal will be among other dignitaries expected to be present on the occasion. 

The BJP registered a thumping victory by winning 49 of the 90 seats, one less from its 2008 figure, while the Congress managed to win 39 assembly seats. Rest of the two seats went to BSP and an Independent each. 
09:01  Pakistan Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif to meet PM today:  
Pakistan Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif arrives in New Delhi Thursday on a trip that will include a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and a visit to Delhi Metro's busiest Rajiv Chowk station. 

Shahbaz, the younger brother of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, is arriving on the invitation of his Punjab counterpart in India, Parkash Singh Badal. He would be meeting Manmohan Singh Thursday morning. He would also meet Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma. 

Shahbaz, who launched a Metro Bus Service project in Lahore, would also be visiting the Patel Chowk Metro station. 

Keen to ease the power situation in his state, Shahbaz would be visiting the Timarpur-Okhla Solid Waste Management Project in Jasola and the New Delhi Mahatma Gandhi Thermal Power Plant, Jhajjar, village Khanpur Kalan, according to the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi.
03:28  Meteor explodes over Arizona; big meteor shower begins:  

A resounding boom over Tucson, Arizona, roused residents from their dinner tables Tuesday and had them pointing up to the sky. The largest meteor shower of the year seemed to be giving them a sneak preview, as a whopper of a rock roared past over their heads.

 

It exploded, rattling their houses, and a dash cam captured it on video as it vanished in a bright blaze. The spectacular annual Geminid meteor shower officially starts Thursday. Now, even with 100 to 120 meteors per hour at its peak, it has given itself a tough act to follow. Astronomer Tod Lauer heard the blast but did not bother to look outside.

 

Read more on CNN

03:27  Interpreter at Mandela memorial dubbed a 'fake', group says:  

To those outside the deaf community, the sign language interpreter for Nelson Mandela's memorial may have looked like he was working hard, translating the spoken words into gestures for four hours.

 

But he has been dubbed "a fake," and his actions outraged deaf people, according to an association for the deaf community in South Africa. The service to commemorate the revered statesman, who died last week at the age of 95, was broadcast to millions of viewers around the world.

 

While dignitaries addressed the crowd Tuesday at Johannesburg's FNB stadium, the unidentified suited man with a security pass produced a series of hand signals that experts say meant nothing.

 

The Deaf Federation of South Africa (DeafSA) said the "interpreter" was not a recognized professional, nor was he known by the deaf community in the country.

 

Read the full story on CNN

02:13  Red Cross says CAR death toll exceeds 500:  

Aid officials in Central African Republic have said that more than 500 people had been killed over the past week in sectarian fighting. Antoine Mbao Bogo with the local Red Cross said late on Tuesday that aid workers had collected 461 bodies across the capital of Bangui since Thursday.

 

That figure does not include the scores of Muslim victims whose bodies were brought to mosques for burial. Violence between Muslims and Christians have been going on in CAR, where France has deployed around 1,600 troops.

 

French forces are trying to disarm militias awash in automatic weapons in cities and towns, where would-be fighters are tough to distinguish from civilians. Two French soldiers were recently killed while carrying out operations against militias in Bangui.

01:07  China's president just shattered an unwritten rule in his ongoing power grab:  

Zhou Yongkang, China's former security chief, has been placed under house arrest while the government investigates him on charges of corruption and "violating party discipline." He's the most powerful politician to go down since the Communist party took over in 1949, and his arrest is more evidence that President Xi Jinping is embracing authoritarianism in a big way.

 

Read more on Business Insider

00:30  US and UK suspend non-lethal aid for Syria rebels:  

The US and UK have suspended all "non-lethal" support for rebels in northern Syria, but not humanitarian aid. A US embassy spokesman in Ankara said the decision was made after Islamist rebels seized bases belonging to the Western-backed Free Syrian Army.

 

Fighters from the Islamic Front, a new alliance of rebel groups, ousted FSA-aligned fighters from the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey last week. The non-lethal aid includes medicine, vehicles and communications equipment.

 

The US and European countries have been reluctant to supply weapons and ammunition directly to rebel groups in Syria because of concerns that they might end up in the possession of jihadists affiliated to al-Qaeda.

 

Read more on BBC

00:27  Top headlines at this hour:  

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