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Live! Personally against forming coalition govt in Delhi: Kejriwal

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December 18, 2013


22:11  Personally against forming coalition govt in Delhi: Kejriwal:  
AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal today said that he was personally against the formation of a coalition government but decided to go to people of Delhi for a referendum following a difference of opinion over the issue within the party.

Kejriwal said he would respect and follow the "people's verdict", whether it was against or for the party. 

He said there was a divided opinion over the issue and during the meeting of MLAs, a section was of the view that AAP should not shy away from forming the government as Congress was extending unconditional support. 

According to some MLAs, the party could implement its agenda as there would be no interference by the Congress. 

"I was personally against the forming of a government. Because we had maintained that we won't take support from or give to Congress or BJP. But off late, a section of people started to say that we should form the government while another section was opposed to it, so we decided to go back to people to decide," he said.
21:31  IAF chief reviews proposed first base for Tejas LCA:  Outgoing IAF chief NAK Browne today reviewed the progress of the Sulur air base where the force is to deploy its first squadron of the indigenously- developed Light Combat Aircraft , Tejas.

On his last visit to the Southern Air Command in Thiruvananthapuram, Browne also reviewed the preparations being made at Thanjavur air base in Tamil Nadu, which will host the first squadron of Su-30MKI aircraft in southern India to guard the Indian Ocean Region.

"During the visit, the Air Chief reviewed the progress of the first LCA base at Sulur and also the progress of work services at Thanjavur, which will be the next base for Su-30s," the IAF said in a release.

Talking to air force personnel, Browne said, "IAF is going through tremendous changes in terms of induction, modernisation and improvement. We had set very ambitious goals over the last two-and-a-half years and we have been able to achieve each one of them".
20:13  Passage of Lokpal bill tribute to Hazares determination: Modi:  

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today hailed anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare's determination following the passage of Lokpal Bill by the Parliament.     

 

"Passage of Lokpal Bill is a fitting tribute to the struggle and determination of Anna Hazare. I pray for his good health," Modi tweeted this evening.     

 

He also congratulated MPs. "Passage of Lokpal Bill in Parliament is a victory of the efforts of all Indians. I congratulate all our MPs on this momentous occasion," he said.     

 

Modi also said that he was proud of the proactive role played by BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley. "Am very proud of the positive and proactive role played by BJP MPs under leadership of @SushmaSwarajbjp & @arunjaitley in passing Lokpal Bill," he tweeted.

19:04  'AAP's activities right-wing Maoism, party of confused leaders':  In a scathing attack on AAP, BJP leader Nitin Gadkari today dubbed the Arvind Kejriwal-led outfit's activities as "right-wing Maoism" and said its move to elicit views of people to form government in Delhi was a "mockery" of democracy.

"AAP is doing a tamasha (drama) over the popular mandate and asking people to tell them the future course of action. Why AAP is not forming government in Delhi when Congress has offered it unconditional support?..AAP's activities are right-wing Maoism," Gadkari, also BJP Delhi In-Charge, told reporters on the sidelines of ongoing winter session of state legislature in Delhi.
18:59  The price of refusing work a hand :  A horrifying story has come out of rural Orissa where two labourers, Nilambar Dhangada Majhi and Pialu Dhangada Majhi from Nuaguda village are admitted in a serious condition at the Bhawanipatna district headquarters hospital after having their hands chopped off by a middleman contractor when they refused to go out of state to work in Chattisgarh.  Read more
18:22  Probably the best cartoon on the Khobragade controversy in the TOI today.
18:03  Ending VIP culture in public governance:  The political executive and the permanent executive should realise they are public servants first and work in harmony to achieve the constitutional objectives. The Hindu on ending VIP culture. Read 
17:48  Captain James is under arrest in the west African country Togo since July on the charge of aiding pirates who had attacked and looted his Marshall Islands-flagged MT Ocean Centurion on July 16. It was reported that the infant, Vivaan, underwent an operation for intestinal gangrene but doctors could not save him as the infection had spread to his bloodstream.
17:38  LIVE! Capt James' wife: Why is there a difference in treatment with Devyani?:  Capt Sunil James' wife says they are disappointed at the difference in treatment meted out to them by the government. His wife says while she is proud of Indian government's handling of the Khobragade case, she says she is disappointed that in the case of an ordinary citizen the government has not been as proactive.  She asks how is Sunil's case different from Devyani's?
She says her son has been lying in a morgue for the past 16 days and there is still no definitive answer from the government. 

Capt James has been jailed in Togo.
17:32  LIVE! US planned to arrest Devyani, helped maid's husband, kids escape to US: MEA :  The MEA says the US planned the arrest of Devyani Khobragade by facilitating the escape of her maid's husband and kids to the US, despite India's warning on the warrant and a court injunction against the maid.

17:10  Diplomat's arrest: Protests outside US Embassy:  Several activists protested this afternoon outside the American Embassy in New Delhi over the alleged ill-treatment meted out to India's Deputy Consul General in New York Devyani Khobragade by the US authorities.

The protestors from different organisations, besides a group of DU students, raised anti-America slogans and demanded immediate apology from the US authorities during their protest outside the embassy in the diplomatic enclave in Chanakyapuri locality of central Delhi.

They also insisted that the government should take more stern steps to register India's protest against the mistreatment of its diplomat in the United States.
16:47  LIVE! Devyani Khobragade gets full diplomatic immunity at UN Mission:  With Devyani Khobragade being moved to the UN Diplomatic Mission, she now gets full diplomatic immunity and not just a limited one as a consular official. 
16:46  Nautanki! AAP move to get people's views on govt formation a farce, says Sena:  With Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) dithering over formation of government in Delhi and is seeking to elicit views of people on how to go about it, Shiv Sena today rubbished the exercise as "farcical" and appealed to people to be aware of the "escapists".

"This whole exercise is a 'nautanki' (drama). Even though Congress has agreed to support Aam Admi Party unconditionally, Kejriwal is not ready to form government in Delhi," party president Uddhav Thackeray said in an editorial in mouthpiece 'Saamna'.
16:26  Meanwhile, Devyani's maid's family has left for the US. And yes, there are visas are valid.  
16:22  Twitter on the Khobragade episode: On 10 Dec, 3 days before arrest of diplomat in NY,maid's hubby n children flew to US on visa granted by Washington.

Brahma Chellaney: What is the foreign minister hinting at? "It is not illegality that she [Khobragade] is accused of but the illegality she refused to oblige"
16:21  To ensure diplomatic immunity, India shifts Khobragade to Permanent Mission in NYC:  In an effort to ensure that Devyani Khobragade gets full diplomatic immunity for her remaining stay in the United States, the government has transferred her to India's Permanent Mission in New York with immediate effect.

However, the complication is that she would have to apply for a fresh diplomatic card through the UN Secretariat, which would ultimately go for clearance to the US State Department.

Here is where the Indians are hoping that Washington will show some positive intent by issuing the card and, in doing so, extend full immunity to her. Read the full report on the Indian Express.
16:14  What the Lokpal Bill 2011, just passed by Parliament, holds. Read
15:46  Not the first time Manu Sharma got bail:  This is not the first time Manu Sharma has got bail. Manu Sharma, serving life term in Tihar Jail was given bail for attending his brother's wedding in 2011 on the condition that he would not visit night clubs or discotheques during the period.
15:42  Manu Sharma gets parole for writing post-graduate exams in Human Rights.
15:38  LIVE! Jessica Lall murderer Manu Sharma gets bail to write exams :   Siddharth Vashisht alias Manu Sharma, who is undergoing life term for killing model Jessica Lall in 1999, was on Wednesday granted nine days parole by the Delhi High Court to appear in post graduate exams.

Justice Hima Kohli granted parole to Sharma from December 28 till January 5 next year after the police filed a status report informing about his examination in post-graduation in Human Rights which will commence from December 30.

Justice Kohli, however, made it clear that Sharma will appear in the examination centre in Delhi and not in Chandigarh.

The court also directed the Tihar authorities to do the needful for shifting of the examination centre.

Sharma's counsel told the court that jail authorities have given many certificates to his client acknowledging his good conduct.

He has taken care of 470 children of convicts by financing for their studies, the counsel said.

He said Sharma has not breached any condition laid down by the court earlier and added that this time also whatever condition the court will impose, he will abide by it.

Sharma, son of former Union Minister Venod Sharma, was sentenced to life imprisonment for killing Jessica Lall in 1999, and he had moved the high court seeking a month's parole to prepare for and appear in his second semester PG exams.
15:24  It's clear Devyani has been trapped: Khurshid:  Khurshid also said efforts were made to find the servant but there was no cooperation from the US authorities. He said the authorities here reached out to the husband of the missing servant but he too was unwilling to cooperate.

"The Deputy Consular General received a phone call from a lawyer who refused to identify himself and offered to settle the matter that would result in grant of permanent citizenship to her and a huge compensation. It became clear that this was a conspiracy and some people trapped her," he said.
15:17  MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin tweets that there is no change in the security situation for all diplomats in India. India is committed to ensuring full safety and security within the confines of Indian law.
15:05  How the US came to embrace strip searches for trivial offenses :  While on Khobragade, America's Fourth Amendment was designed to guard against arbitrary governmental authority. That shield has been shattered, leaving liberty and personal integrity subject to the whim of jail officials and cops on the beat. Read
15:02  LIVE! Khurshid: Won't return to Parliament unless Khobragade is home:  External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid condemned the US action and said he would not return to the House if he fails in his responsibility to bring back the arrested diplomat Devyani Khobragade.

Spelling out the series of steps initiated to scale down the privileges granted to US diplomats in India, he said there was a "conspiracy" in which Khobragade was "virtually trapped".

He said the diplomat is "innocent" and the US action was unwarranted.

"It is not illegality that she is accused of, but the illegality she refused to oblige," he said.

Maintaining that the government was not over-reacting by taking a slew of measures against the US, Khurshid said the treatment meted out to Khobragade had "not happened out of blue" and there is a "history" behind it.

He asserted that the government is determined and "will intervene effectively and specifically to ensure that dignity of the diplomat is preserved."

Khurshid made suo motu statements in both the Houses after members expressed outrage with demands that a resolution be passed to condemn the US action.

"It is my responsibility. We will bring back the diplomat (arrested in New York) and restore her dignity. If I fail to do it, I will not return to this House," he said in Rajya Sabha.

In the Lok Sabha, he said, "First and foremost, our effort is to bring her out of this situation and then we will talk to the US government."
14:51  Unshackle Khobragade:  As you may be aware, the embarrassment caused to our diplomatic envoy Devyani Khobragade and India has increased since last evening. It is after all not easy to digest the news that Armaan Kohli, of Jaani Dushman and Bigg Boss 7 fame, was given bail and released even before Khobragade has been.

He was arrested and taken to the lockup without handcuffs, his autograph was taken and then driven back to the Bigg Boss house in a chauffeured SUV -- so he can get on with his duties of verbally abusing female contestants in the house. 

Superb satire on News Laundry. Read
14:44  Who judges an ex-judge?:  The rising waves of murky water around the allegation of sexual harassment against a former Supreme Court judge seem to have obliterated the clear lines of correct procedure.  Read more
14:42  Strong provisions, weak implementation:  Although the state is required to give wide publicity to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, the law is relatively unknown even to those who need to apply it. Read
14:39  Gadkari calls Aam Aadmi Party right-wing Maoism:  Terming Aam Admi Party (AAP)'s political philosophy as "right-wing Maoism," BJP leader Nitin Gadkari has said the AAP's agenda is to destroy democratic system in the name of grassroots democracy. Read
14:33  No mention of Kejriwal as Anna breaks fast :  Anna Hazare said today that the mere enactment of the law would not serve the purpose and announced he would form "watchdog bodies" in states and districts to keep an eye on how the law was being enforced.

"The law will be meaningless unless it is implemented and enforced properly. I will constitute watchdog bodies at all levels...in states, districts everywhere. "These bodies having retired judges, state police chiefs and others with impeccable integrity will keep vigilance on how the law is implemented. Only then the people will benefit from this law," he said.

Hazare, who thanked everybody, from MPs to political parties, Rajya Sabha's Select Committee, to policemen at his fast venue, the 'pandalwala' to the doctors who looked after him during the hunger strike, his fourth for Lokpal, chose not to make any mention of Arvind Kejriwal and others from the AAP, who played a role in building the movement.
14:23  How our netas killed 4 birds with one shot:  The passage of the historic Lokpal Bill by Rajya Sabha on Tuesday was celebrated by the entire political class but for reasons other than those stated publicly. The rare show of unanimity by parties witnessed in the Upper House was certainly not driven by a genuine commitment to an anti-corruption legislation. Read more
14:19  The Lokpal Bill has been sent to President Pranab Mukherjee for his assent. 
14:16  Aston Martin crash: Why Mumbai police are not arresting driver who 'confessed':   The Mumbai police are yet to arrest a man who came to them and claimed he was driving the Aston Martin that crashed into two cars nearly two weeks ago, saying they want proof that he was the driver and not someone else.   Read more
14:13  Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath says that Parliament has been adjourned, not prorogued; it can be reconvened at a short notice.

Just so you know. 
14:12  Whats our moral outrage barometer?:  "We are a nation in moral outrage. Seething, screaming and strident. The papers are full of how our national honour has been deeply affronted by the US for arresting and allegedly strip searching an Indian diplomat accused of visa fraud and other violations. Not too many details about the domestic help Sangita Richards and her side of the story."

Read
14:07  AAP sulks as Lokpal Bill is passed:  Now that the Lok Sabha has been adjourned sine die what will happen to Rahul Gandhi's suggestion today that the session should be extended till all anti-graft bills are passed.

The BJP's Sushma Swaraj said in Parliament today that the credit for the Lokpal Bill should go to Anna Hazare who has repeatedly gone on fast to ensure it is passed. 

AAP's Prashan Bhushan playing party pooper says an ineffective Lokpal Bill has been passed. He said the parties were compelled to pass a Lokpal Bill in haste because of the emergence of the Aam Aadmi Party.
13:59  That's a picture of Anna Hazare breaking his nine-day fast in Ralegan Siddhi today. The picture was tweeted by Indian Express.
13:57  PM: Lokpal is a historic, landmark step:  PM Dr Manmohan Singh says on the Lokpal Bill: "We are very happy that Parliament in its wisdom has chosen to enact Lokpal legislation. Lokpal is a historic and landmark legislation."

Sonia Gandhi says she is very happy that the Lokpal Bill has been passed and that the credit should go to all those in Parliament today.
13:52  Anna breaks his fast :  In Ralegan Siddhi, Anna Hazare has broken his fast. Possibly nimbu pani or nariyal pani is being drunk. Two bored kids sitting on dais feed it to him.

Interesting read: How much time does Parliament spend on discussing bills it passes?
13:45  Diplomat issue: Outrage in Parliament, govt vows strong action:  Amidst outrage expressed by members in Parliament, India today asserted that it will intervene "effectively and specifically" to ensure the return and restoration of dignity of its Deputy Consul General in New York who has been arrested on charges of visa rules violation.

Responding to concerns expressed by members across party lines in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid condemned the US action and said he will not return to the House if he fails in his responsibility to bring back the arrested diplomat Devyani Khobragade.

Spelling out the series of steps initiated to scale down the privileges granted to US diplomats in India, he said there was a "conspiracy" in which Khobragade was "virtually trapped".

He said the diplomat is "innocent" and the US action was unwarranted. "It is not illegality that she is accused of, but the illegality she refused to oblige," he said.
13:40  Mulayam wants Americans stripped like Indian diplomat was :  An angry Mulayam Singh Yadav spouts these immortal words in Parliament today on the Devyani Khobragade issue.  "Kya hai America. Dhamaka hua vahan ab vo thar thar kaanpta hai Arab deshon se. Nanga kijiye unke logon ko bhee."
13:27  Anna says that other than SP, he salutes all MPs who passed the Lokpal Bill. He said people should stay off-camera to work for the country.

With the passage of the historic Lokpal Bill, the Lok Sabha has been adjourned sine die.
13:23  Siddhartha Basu tweets: The demand to go after US diplomats with same sex partners takes the cake and bakery for homophobic, mean-minded jingoism.

To contextualise this, Yashwant Sinha yesterday said: Sinha suggested that India could now arrest same-sex partners of American diplomatic officials. "Companions' means that they are of the same sex. Now, after the Supreme Court ruling, it is completely illegal in our country. Just as paying less wages was illegal in the US, so, why doesn't the government of India go ahead and arrest all of them?" he said.
13:18  Now there's a demand in the Lok Sabha for adopting a resolution condemning the US action against the Indian Deputy Consul General.
13:15  In Ralegan Siddhi, Anna Hazare thanks the select committee for introducing the amendments to the Lokpal. He said it was a good step against corruption. He said Lokpal won't eradicate corruption, but it will go a long way in reducing it.

Kiran Bedi tweets: Watch loksabha channel. On Lokpal Bill! Sushma Swaraj and Rahul Gandhi said it all right! Wow! Jai Hind!! Impossible being made possible! A miracle!!! Post independence! Jai Hind!
13:11  Indian agencies desperately seeking Khobragade nanny:   Indian agencies are trying to get in touch with the family of Sangeeta Richard, the nanny who filed a complaint against Indian diplomat, Devyani Khobragade.

Sangeeta, who is originally from Punjab, has been missing since June and sources tell Rediff.com that she is still in the United States of America. She had been declared an absconder by the US.

Indian agencies have been trying to get more information from her husband and the other family members who say she has not returned to India.

Taking into account the sensitivity of the issue, Indian officials do not want to reveal more details.

India believes that she is very important to the case and having her depose at this stage is crucial.

Indian officials want to know if the nanny had agreed to work for below minimum pay wages, did she blackmail the diplomat and why was a suit filed even after an injunction by the Delhi High Court.

The Delhi High Court in an interim order had directed the nanny not to file any case against Devyani outside India.
-- Vicky Nanjappa.
13:08  The story behind the consensus over Lokpal Bill:  Hours after Rahul Gandhi had come out in support of the Lokpal Bill at Congress headquarters last Saturday, chairman of the Rajya Sabha select committee Satyavrat Chaturvedi got a call from Kiran Bedi in Ralegaon Siddhi.

She expressed her appreciation for his committee's efforts and passed on the phone to Anna Hazare, who too praised the panel's recommendations.

It was a different Anna Hazare from the one who had attacked the government two years ago after the Parliamentary Standing Committee decision to keep the lower bureaucracy out of the Lokpal's purview.
Read more
13:02  The Lokpal Bill will now got President Pranab Mukherjee for his consideration.

The Lok Sabha has moved on to the issue of Capt Sunil James', still in a Togo jail. 
12:53  LIVE! Lok Sabha passes Lokpal Bill, Anna to break fast :  The Lok Sabha has passed the Lokpal Bill with just an hour of debate. Apart from Sushma Swaraj, Rahul Gandhi and Mulayam Singh, nobody else was allowed to discuss or debate the bill. And unlike the five-hour debate in the RS yesterday, this was a quickie.
12:51  And yes, history has been made. The Lokpal Bill has been passed in the Lok Sabha as well. 
12:33  Lokpal Bill debate begins in Lok Sabha:  In the Lok Sabha, the Lokpal Bill is being debated.

Sushma Swaraj, Rahul Gandhi, Mulayam Singh Yadav have spoken.

Rahul said that there were six pending anti-corruption bills and if the session has to be extended to pass them, it should. He said all parties should pass the bill unanimously and make history.

In Ralegan Siddhi, Anna Hazare watches the proceedings on TV. He is on the 9th day of his fast and has said he will break the fast only when the LS passes the bill.

Mulayam Singh says the Lokpal Bill is very dangerous and asks who will investigate the PM. Remember, the SP had walked out of the RS yesterday when the bill was under discussion.
12:28  Manhattan Attorney Preet Bharara under scanner for 'targeting Indians' :  The row between Washington and New Delhi over the arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade has brought into focus the role of Preet Bharara, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Mail circulating among the South Block officials shows Bharara has come under the scanner for targeting people of Indian origin.

Before spearheading the arrest proceedings in Devyani's case, Bharara had hit the headlines for prosecuting former McKinsey MD Rajat Gupta for insider trading charge. Read more

Also see: Preet Bharara, the man who makes Wall Street tremble
12:20  Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday said the party would decide on government formation after ascertaining the opinion of the people of Delhi.  He asked people to communicate their opinion through SMSes, phone calls, social media and jan sabhas organised by party candidates across the city till Sunday. The data collected would be made public on Monday, he said.


This is the Hindu's take on the issue
12:17  LIVE! America should stop pretending to be Lokpal of the world: TMC:  In the Rajya Sabha, the the Devyani Khobragade issue continues. Trinamool's Derek O'Brien said that India needs to codify all privileges given to US diplomats and present it in Parliament. It is only then that we can get a measure of what privileges are given to the US and what India gets in return.

"We must ensure both privileges are equal and reciprocal. We don't need a village headman and America should stop pretending to be the self- appointed Lokpal of the world," he said. 
12:08  Unfinished reform:  A year after the brutal Delhi gang rape, institutional responses to sexual violence against women have failed to keep pace with robust efforts by civil society to sensitise the public. In its immediate aftermath, popular, city-based movements rallied around the episode to help victims shed the stigma associated with such crimes. Read more
12:06  Lok Sabha adjourned till noon amid uproar:  Lok Sabha was adjourned till noon today amid uproar over various issues including demand for adopting a resolution against the United States for alleged ill-treatment of an Indian diplomat.

Samajwadi Party member Shailendra Kumar raised the issue of India's Deputy Consul General in New York Devyani Khobragade and demanded that the House adopt a resolution condemning the incident.

Amid noisy scenes, Seemandhra members belonging to YSR Congress and TDP trooped into Well and shouted slogans against creation of Telangana.

Members of Left parties too tried to raise some issues but could not be heard in the din.
12:02   What is the charge against Devyani Khobragade, the deputy consul-general at the Indian consulate in New York? And other details on the case. Read
12:01  Devyani: I'm beginning to fall apart:  'Only my friends know how I live here in Manhattan, saving every penny... Life in New York has not been easy for me,' Devyani Khobragade told friends and colleagues.  Read
11:55  Fog disrupts train schedules in North India:  Dense fog disrupted train movement in North India for the third consecutive day today, with around 50 Delhi-bound trains, including Rajdhanis, running behind schedule.

Timings of two trains leaving from Delhi this morning were rescheduled, a Northern Railway Spokesperson said.

Close to 50 Delhi-bound trains were running four to seven hours behind schedule because of poor visibility, the spokesperson said.

The official also said most of the trains running late were from eastern states, including Rajdhanis from Howrah, Sealdah, Bhubaneshwar and Ranchi.
11:51  Rajan raj! No hike in interest rates :  The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) unexpectedly kept the country's policy interest rate on hold on Wednesday, despite calling current inflation too high, citing the prospect of easing retail prices and its concerns about the weak domestic economy.

The RBI had been widely expected to lift its repo rate by 25 basis points, but instead opted to keep the country's main lending rate at 7.75 percent.

"The policy decision is a close one. Current inflation is too high," said the RBI in its policy statement.However, the RBI also cited its reluctance to over-react given the "wide bands of uncertainty" surrounding the outlook for inflation amid signs of sharply falling vegetable prices and "the weak state of the economy."  Read more
11:40  Yechury said he was glad the government had reacted strongly, but said we should understand the depth to which we have bent backwards in our strategic relations with the US. We have to assert ourselves. 
11:37  LIVE! Maya: Centre acted late as Devyani Khobragade is a Dalit:  In the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley raises the issue of the US high-handedness in dealing with Indian envoys. He says India must ensure that necessary steps must be taken in the diplomat case and said it raised serious questions on the way India conducted its foreign policy that it was taken for granted. He said it was time the government introspected on where it stands on foreign policy.

Ms Mayawati says the Dalit community is really upset because the government reacted late because Devyani Khobragade came from a lower caste. She said the method of strip-searching the diplomat was unacceptable. She said her party was outraged as Devyani Khobragade belonged to a weaker section of society.

CPI-M'S Sitaram Yechury says his boarding pass to the US comes with a four-level security. He says he always tells himself that other people have been subjected to worse, but the point remains that we allow this to happen. "We accept that the US is the world's policeman and it can get away with laws it sets for the world. You cannot violate the Panchsheel. There has to be mutual respect for each other."
11:17  Maharashtra governor bails out Ashok Chavan in Adarsh case:  In a major setback to the CBI, Maharashtra governor K Sankaranarayanan has refused the agency the mandatory go-ahead for prosecution of former chief minister Ashok Chavan in the Adarsh housing scam.

While 12 other charged persons will now face trial, Chavan, who lost his job for alleged collusion with the promoters of Adarsh society, will be absolved of all charges against him.

Disappointed by the development, CBI sources said they had strong evidence against Chavan and they had made an extensive presentation to the Maharashtra governor to back up their request for sanction to prosecute the former Maharashtra CM. Read more
11:14  Don't be afraid to speak against sectarian interests: Sonia:  Congress chief Sonia Gandhi expresses concern over Parliament not being able to pass Women's Reservation Bill. She underlines the need for more unity of purpose and discipline at the Congress Parliamentary Party meet.

She says the party will go into the causes of the Assembly poll debacle, and asks partymen not to be disheartened. "We have done a lot but lost the Assembly polls because we could not propagate our achievements properly. Our opponents advocate policies of divisiveness and sectarian interests. They mock our secular ethos. We must not be afraid to speak against those who offer only a narrow and destructive alternative," she said. 
11:06  Congress loss in 4 states made Lokpal Bill top priority for govt:  According to the Lokpal Bill passed by the Rajya Sabha, an official will not be given a hearing at the stage of a preliminary inquiry. This was part of the select committee's unanimous recommendations tabled in Parliament more than a year ago.

Lokpal became top priority for the government after Congress lost elections in four major states and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) made a stunning political debut in the Delhi assembly polls. Read more

The Lok Sabha will debate the Lokpal Bill today.
10:56  Handcuffed and strip-searched, I broke down several times: Devyani Khobragade:   US authorities subjected Devyani Khobragade to treatment reserved for hardened criminals. On Tuesday the government was spurred into action by an email she wrote to her IFS colleagues.

She was not just handcuffed but subjected to strip-search, DNA swabbing and cavity searches, she wrote. On Tuesday, the IFS Officers' Association met to ramp up pressure on the government to consider further retaliatory action if Washington did not offer an unconditional apology.

In her email, Khobragade implored the government to ensure her and her children's safety and preserve the dignity of the IFS, which was "unquestionably under siege".

She said she broke down several times but tried to maintain her dignity and composure as she was representing her country. Read more
09:41  Advocacy group urges lawmakers to look into diplomat's arrest:  Condemning the procedures adopted by law enforcement agencies while arresting Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade last week, an Indian-American advocacy group has sought the help of US lawmakers in investigating the circumstances of her arrest and the procedures followed.
09:30  Fog in Delhi disrupts flight operations:  Dense fog once again hit the operations at the IGI Airport here today, delaying the schedule of over 40 domestic and international flights and causing inconvenience to fliers. 

The runway visibility was good at night and operations were smooth but it started to deteriorate after 6:30 am and take-offs were suspended as runway visibility dropped to less than 125 metres, the required minimum for the low visibility take off (LVTO), an airport official said.
08:15  Standard search procedures followed with Indian diplomat: US Marshals Service:  The US Marshals Service (USMS) has confirmed that Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade was subjected to "strip search" after her arrest in New York last week, and subjected to the same search procedures as other arrestees. 

"As for the type of search, I can only confirm that she was subject to the same search procedures as other USMS arrestees held within the general prisoner population in the Southern District of New York, which in this case was a strip search," USMS spokesperson Nikki Credic-Barrett said yesterday.
08:14  Khobragade has diplomatic immunity, says her attorney:  Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, arrested last week for alleged visa fraud, is protected from prosecution by virtue of her diplomatic status and this is an embarrassing failure of the American international protocol, her attorney has said.

"Dr Khobragade is protected from prosecution by virtue of her diplomatic status"
08:13  Two dead in shooting at US medical centre:  Two people were killed and two injured in a shooting at hospital in Nevada, in which the gunman apparently took his own life, police said. 

The incident occurred at a building connected to the Renown Regional Medical Centre in Reno yesterday, reports said.
03:05  US doomsday minister Harold Camping dead at 92:  
Harold Camping, the US preacher who used his evangelical radio ministry and thousands of billboards to broadcast the end of the world and then gave up public prophecy when his date-specific doomsdays did not come to pass, has died at age 92.

Camping, a retired civil engineer who built a worldwide following for the nonprofit Oakland, California-based ministry he founded in 1958, died at his home Sunday, said Family Radio Network marketing manager Nina Romero. She said he had been hospitalised after falling. 

Camping's most widely spread prediction was that the Rapture would happen on May 21, 2011. His independent Christian media empire spent millions of dollars some of it from donations made by followers who quit their jobs and sold all their possessions to spread the word on more than 5,000 billboards and 20 RVs plastered with the Judgment Day message. 

When the Judgment Day he foresaw did not materialise, the preacher revised his prophecy, saying he had been off by five months. 
00:36  Facebook adds video ads to News Feed:  
Facebook today began serving up video ads that pop up and play when users check their news feeds.

The leading online social network said it is testing the new advertising technique this week with a clip teasing the new film "Divergent". 

"Since September, we've been testing a way to make videos more engaging on Facebook, and as a result we've seen views, likes, shares and comments increase more than 10 percent," the California-based firm said in a blog post. 

"We're beginning to test a similar video viewing format for advertisers." 

Video ads will play on mobile devices as well as when people visit Facebook from laptop or desktop computers. 

On smartphones or tablets, video ads will be pre-loaded in the background when in range of wireless hotspots to avoid the rich downloads eating into users telecom service data allowances, according to Facebook.

"Videos will begin to play as they appear onscreen -- without sound -- similar to how they behave when shared by friends or verified pages," Facebook said. 

"If you don't want to watch the video, you can simply scroll or swipe past it."
00:35  Snowden's open letter to Brazil: Read the text:  
NSA leaker Edward Snowden wrote an "open letter to the people of Brazil" posted on the website of the Folha de S Paulo newspaper. 

He said he would be willing to help Brazil investigate NSA spying but needs political asylum. 

Read the full text of the letter here.
00:30  Mandela tops 2013 Google searches:  
Nelson Mandela topped Google's list of the hottest searches for 2013 as the Internet giant provided a look at the "spirit of the times" online.

The 13th annual Google Zeitgeist compilation mined Internet search trends through the year to spotlight people, places and events that captured the world's attention. 

"It's perhaps unsurprising that the number one trending search of 2013 was an international symbol of strength and peace: Nelson Mandela," Google senior vice president Amit Singhal said in a blog post. 

"Global search interest in the former president of South Africa was already high this year, and after his passing, people from around the world turned to Google to learn more about Madiba and his legacy." 

Second in the global top-10 list was "The Fast and The Furious" film celebrity Paul Walker, who was killed in a car crash last month. Third was Apple's iPhone 5s. 

"Glee" television star Cory Monteith, who died of a fatal drug overdose in July, was fourth and dance craze Harlem Shake fifth.

Completing the round-up was the bombing at the Boston Marathon; Britain's Royal baby; the Samsung Galaxy S4; Sony's new PlayStation 4 video game console; and North Korea. 
00:29  Pope declares Jesuit Favre a saint:  
Pope Francis has declared the 16th-century Jesuit Pierre Favre a saint, bypassing the Vatican's typical saint-making procedures to honour the first recruit of Jesuit founder St Ignatius Loyola.

The announcement was made on Francis' 77th birthday. Favre, who lived from 1506 to 1546, met Ignatius while the two were college roommates in Paris along with another future Jesuit, Francis Xavier.

Favre later was ordained and spent most of his ministry preaching Catholicism in Germany and elsewhere during the Protestant Reformation. 

The first Jesuit pope recently spoke about the importance Favre had in his life, in particular his message of dialogue with anyone, "even the most remote and even with his opponents."

In an interview with the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica, Francis cited Favre's "simple piety, a certain na-vet perhaps, his being available straightaway, his careful interior discernment, the fact that he was a man capable of great and strong decisions but also capable of being so gentle and loving."
00:28  Top headlines at this hour:  Fuming government gives US taste of its own medicine

India strips US diplomats of privileges

Rajya Sabha passes Lokpal Bill, Lok Sabha to debate it on Wednesday

BJP will oppose Communal Violence Bill in Parliament: Rajnath

Retail giant Tesco plans to enter India; partners Tata

'Armaan Kohli is a massive bully and a big idiot' 

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