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December 19, 2013

23:44  No cavity search was done on Devyani: US Marshals:  
Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, arrested last week in New York on charges of visa fraud, was not subject to cavity  search, as being alleged, the US Marshals Services has claimed.

"In reference to your question about the cavity search, the answer is no," Nikki Credic-Barrett, spokesperson of the US Marshals Service, told PTI in response to a question on the allegations by the family of the senior Indian diplomat that she was subject to cavity search. 

"Devyani Khobragade was transferred to the US Marshals at approximately noon, December 12, pending her initial appearance before a United States federal magistrate judge," the spokesperson said.

"After her appearance, she was released at approximately 4 pm the same day. Khobragade was subject to the same search procedures as other arrestees held within the general prisoner population in the Southern District of New York, which in this case was a strip-search," Credic-Barrett said.
23:41  Winnie denies Mandela family feud:  
Nelson Mandela's ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, has denied that his family is engaged in a "succession or dynasty" battle amid media reports of a family feud. She also said the anti-apartheid fighter's eldest daughter is now the head of the family. 

The Johannesburg tabloid The Times reported earlier this week that Mandela's grandson Mandla had found himself locked out of the Mandela homestead in the Eastern Cape hamlet of Qunu where Mandela was buried on Sunday. 

According to the report, Mandela's eldest daughter, Makaziwe Mandela, had ordered the locks changed after she arrived while Mandla was keeping vigil next to his grandfather's coffin as the body lay in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria for three days. 

Mandla also reportedly found his home on the Mandela estate without electricity and water on the day of his grandfather's burial.
22:15  'Yeddyurappa to join BJP in few days':  

Karnataka Janatha Paksha leader and former Chief Minister B S Yedyurappa will be admitted to BJP in a few days, state party chief Prahlad Joshi said today.        


Joshi said he had raised the issue of Yeddyurappa's homecoming with party's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, who was in Belgam today, for a function.        


The matter was before central leaders, he said. Yeddyurappa had also said three days ago that he has an "open mind" about joining BJP and a clear picture on his homecoming might emerge in the next four to five days.        


Soon after the assembly polls in five states, senior BJP leaders from Karnataka had met party chief Rajnath Singh and urged him to start the process of bringing Yeddyurappa back into the party fold.        

21:31  Devyani row: Now US under secy speaks to Sujatha Singh:  

US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman called Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh to follow up on Secretary of State John Kerry's telephonic talk with National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon on the diplomatic row sparked between the two countries over the arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in new York.  


The two discussed specific steps to resolve the situation arising out of the arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in the US, sources told PTI.  


During the 20-25 minute long call, Sherman also distanced the State Department from the statement issued by US Attorney Preet Bharara on the diplomat's case.   India has received positive signals from the US side, sources told PTI.

21:06  Jaya 'qualified' to be PM, says AIADMK:  

Amid the 'Jaya for PM' chorus in the party ranks, ruling AIADMK today said its chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa was "qualified" for the top post and vowed to win all 40 seats in next Lok Sabha polls in the state and Puducherry to create a condition favourable to her.   


The party's key decision-making bodies, General Council and Executive, met under party presidium chairman E Madhusudhanan and adopted 16 resolutions in which it hailed Jayalalithaa for her "multi-faceted personality and skills".    The bodies met at a time when the 'Jaya for PM' chorus has been on the rise in the party ranks.    


The party described Jayalalithaa as an "unparalleled patriot," while hailing her governance skills and said she was a leader who had gave equal respect to all languages and religions.  


"She is qualified to make India a superpower. So, we vow to create the situation for that," the party said adding it will work to win all the 40 Lok Sabha seats'.    Tamil Nadu has 39 Lok Sabha seats and Puducherry one.

20:08  India retaliates, stops special treatment to US diplomats at airports:  

US diplomats and their families in India will not be able to avail special treatment at airports from tonight when the deadline expires for surrendering their special passes, as part of government's retaliatory action against the treatment meted out to diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York.        


India on Tuesday had taken a slew of retaliatory steps to strip US diplomats and their families of privileges including withdrawing all airport passes and stopping import clearances for the US embassy, strongly denouncing the arrest and strip searching of Khobragade, India's Deputy Consul General in New York.        


The government had asked the US consular diplomats and their families to surrender airports passes by tonight.   The government had also asked the US embassy to provide a list of all Indian nationals working with its Consulates, including domestic servants, by December 23.        


The government has also sought copies of their contracts, bank accounts, salaries and PAN numbers. It has also stopped all import clearances including for liquor for the US embassy. The traffic barricades near the US embassy on Nyaya Marg here were also removed.        

19:42  NOTW hacked Middletons phone while dating William:  

CNN: The British tabloid News of the World hacked Kate Middleton's phone while she was dating Prince William, a prosecutor told a London court at the trial of the defunct newspaper's executives, according to the British Press Association.  


In one voicemail message that William left Kate -- the transcript of which was read in court by the prosecutor -- the prince calls his future wife "babykins" and says he was almost shot by blank rounds during a military training exercise, the PA reported.  


The revelation came in the trial of former News of the World editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, who are accused of conspiring between October 2000 and August 2006 "to intercept communications in the course of their transmission, without lawful authority." They deny the charges.

19:14  Dec 16 gang rape convicts seek permission for polygraph test:  Two of the four death row convicts in the December 16 gang rape case today moved a Delhi court seeking permission for undergoing polygraph test in the trial of a robbery case against them.

Akshay Thakur and Vinay Sharma are also facing trial for allegedly  beating up and robbing a carpenter, Ram Adhar, before raping and assaulting a 23-year-old girl in a moving bus in south Delhi on December 16, last year.

Additional Sessions Judge Daya Prakash fixed the plea for January 10 for consideration. Akshay and Vinay alleged in their application that the whole prosecution story was baseless as there was no public witness and no cause of action and reason for indulging in such an offence.
19:09  Diplomat row: Indian diplomacy failed, says BJP:  The BJP today alleged that Congress-led UPA government's diplomacy has failed to protect its own senior diplomat which is evident from the treatment meted out to Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade.

Addressing a press meet, BJP Vice-president Bandaru Dattatreya said India should seek an unconditional apology from US and termed the incident as an 'insult' to people of India.

"The UPA government is toothless to deal with US." Referring to political situation in the country, he said Congress was afraid of BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. "AICC Chief Sonia Gandhi should first find out a leader to match Modi in her party," he said.

On the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, he said situation in the country was similar to the one that existed in 1977 after emergency. "There is a strong anti-congress wave in the country and public anger is against the UPA government," Dattatreya said.
18:44  Diplomat's father threatens fast, says daughter innocent:   The father of Devyani Khobragade today threatened to launch a fast if "fabricated" charges of visa fraud against his diplomat daughter were not dropped and her honour restored even as he dubbed as "blatant" attack on

Indian judiciary US attorney Preet Bharara's remarks after the incident.     Uttam Khobragade, a retired IAS officer, said the arrest of his daughter was part of a conspiracy and asserted no fraud was committed by Devyani and no false information tendered by her regarding the salary to be paid to her missing housemaid Sangeeta Richard.

He castigated Bharara for his comments which he said were against the Indian judicial system and "scandalised the process of justice in India"

"I will try to meet Sonia Gandhi, I will try to meet Manmohan Singh. If this justice is simply not acceptable, then I will go on fast," he said.
18:34  Govt may move towards Presidential Reference against Ganguly:  Government today appeared to be moving towards making a Presidential Reference for removal of Justice A K Ganguly as head of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission in the wake of his indictment by a Supreme Court committee for "unwelcome behaviour" towards a law intern.

The law ministry and the home ministry are learnt to be in agreement that prima facie a case can be made out against the former Supreme Court judge, sources said.

The matter has now been referred to Attorney General G E Vahanvati to work out legal details. The procedure of referring the matter to a senior law officer ensures that the case presented in the Presidential Reference is watertight to withstand the scrutiny of the apex court.
18:31  Karuna happy over Lokpal bill; wants Lokayuktas in states:  Expressing joy over Parliament passing the Lokpal bill, DMK chief M Karunanidhi today insisted that Lokayuktas be set up in all states.

"Happy over Lokpall bill being passed," he said. The DMK president recalled that his government had proposed a similar legislation in 1973, covering the chief minister, Cabinet minsters, MLAs and members of Legislative Council, among others, and that it was adopted in both the then state assembly and the upper House.
17:55  Ex-CJI refuses to wade into row over Justice Ganguly:  Former Chief Justice of India and NHRC Chairperson K G Balakrishnan today refused to be drawn into the controversy over the demands for removal of Justice A K Ganguly as chairman of West Bengal HRC in the wake of allegations of sexual misbehaviour with a law intern.

"Justice Ganguly was appointed as the chairman of WBHRC by the West Bengal Government and it is the state which should seek presidential reference to be moved before the Supreme Court, if required, for appropriate action," he told reporters on the sidelines of an event organised by the NHRC.
17:54  Mubarak's sons, former PM acquitted in corruption case:  Ousted Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak's two sons and his last Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq were today acquitted of corruption charges by a criminal court here.

Alaa and Gamal Mubarak along with former Prime Minister and ex-presidential candidate Shafiq were acquitted by the court of embezzling public funds in the Pilots' Association for Land Development trial. Mubarak's former aviation minister Shafiq headed the Pilots' Association for Land Development in 1992.

Shafiq was accused by the general prosecution of having seized 40,000 metres of land belonging to fishing farms and illegally allocating them to the association before reselling them to Mubarak's sons at lower than market price.

The criminal court also acquitted former air force generals Nabil Shoukry and Mohamed Reda, both former association officials who faced charges in the same trial.
17:37  MEA's response on statement issued by Manhattan US attorney:  Read the official spokesperson's response a question on the statement issued by Manhattan US attorney on December 18.

"We have seen the statement issued by the Manhattan US attorney on December 18.We need to keep in mind the simple fact that there is only one victim in this case. That victim is Devyani Khobragade -- a serving Indian diplomat on mission in the United States.The action taken against her was not in keeping with the Vienna Convention."

"There were no courtesies in the treatment that was meted out to the diplomat, under the normal definition of that word in the English language.The statement includes remarks about equality before the law of both the rich and the poor."

"Not only is this a rhetorical remark that is not conducive to resolving "inaccuracies", it is also not a feature of the law that is exclusive to the office of the Manhattan US attorney."

"The statement in question acknowledges that legal processes were in place in India. Yet, incredibly, it invites speculation about why it was necessary to evacuate the family of Ms Richards and about the action purportedly being taken against them. The implication of this remarkable admission needs to be considered very carefully with regard to the implicit comment it makes about the Indian legal system, Indian law enforcement authorities, and the responsibility that legal officials of a foreign government seem to arrogate upon themselves with regard to the nationals of another country."

"It needs to be asked what right a foreign government has to "evacuate" Indian citizens from India while cases are pending against them in the Indian legal system."

"The statement underlines the compulsion that is felt by the Manhattan US attorney's office "to make sure that victims, witnesses and their families are safe and secure while cases are pending."

"This is precisely why, when there is a prior legal process already underway in India, the Manhattan US Attorney should consider it obligatory to enable justice to take its course in India in the first instance."

"When the legal process in another friendly and democratic country is interfered with in this manner, it not only amounts to interference but also raises the serious concern of calling into question the very legal system of that country."

"It is our considered view that this statement is one more attempt at a post facto rationalization for an action that should never have taken place in the first instance."
17:30  Travesty of justice if Centre urges SC to probe Ganguly: Somnath:   Coming to the defence of beleaguered Justice AK Ganguly again, former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee today said it would be a 'travesty of justice' if the Supreme Court was requested by the Centre to probe into the allegations against him afresh.

"It would be a travesty of justice. The Supreme Court has already made an administrative inquiry. How can the Supreme Court go into its own findings again?" Chatterjee told PTI.

He was commenting on the Home Ministry seeking the opinion of the Law Ministry for sending a Presidential reference to the Supreme Court to probe the allegations against Justice Ganguly and give its recommendations on the issue of removing him as chairman of West Bengal Human Rights Commission.
17:21  Such things shouldn't happen to senior officials: CJI on Devyani row:   With India locked in a face-off with the US over the arrest of senior diplomat Devyani Khobragade, Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam today said such things should not happen to high-level officials.

It was up to the government to decide on what steps should be taken to handle the issue, "but as an individual, it should not happen to our high officials," he told reporters on the sidelines of a convocation function.
17:13  Dhruva Jaishankar tweets: My wife is American. I have stopped talking to her because of my outrage over her government's mistreatment of Devyani Khobragade. 

Dhruva is the son of India's next ambassador to the US, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
17:08  German town revokes Hitler's honorary citizenship:   A German town has stripped Adolf Hitler of honorary citizenship bestowed upon the Nazi leader 80-years ago after a public outcry.

A Bavarian town council decided to strip Hitler of his honorary citizenship, a week after attracting international attention when a vote to distance itself from the dictator failed.

The council of Dietramszell, in southern Germany, passed the motion in a special meeting yesterday, which confirmed that Hitler lost his honorary citizenship with his death and recognised that the town had been associated with Hitler, the Local reported.
17:04  US man sent to mental hospital for attacking elderly Sikh:  A homeless man charged with brutally attacking an 82-year-old Sikh man outside a gurudwara in the US city of Fresno, in an apparent hate crime, will be sent to a psychiatric hospital until he is fit to stand trial.

Judge W Kent Levis made his decision on Monday in Fresno County Superior Court after doctors concluded that Gilbert Garcia Jr, 30, is unable to assist in his defence to charges of attempted murder and elder abuse.

The police said Garcia attacked Piara Singh, 82, with a steel rod outside of the Nanaksar Sikh Temple at Cherry and North avenues in south Fresno, California on May 5.

Singh's injuries included broken ribs and head wounds, the Fresno Bee reported. In the state hospital, Garcia will be required to take anti-psychotic medication.

He will remain at the hospital until he is competent to stand trial, but his stay can be no longer than 15 years, the judge said. Typically, inmates spend less than a year in a state hospital before their competency is restored, lawyers said.
17:03  Narayan Sai remanded in 14-day judicial custody:  Self-styled godman Asaram's son Narayan Sai was today remanded in 14-day judicial custody by a local court in a rape case filed against him by one of the two Surat-based sisters.

Chief Judicial Magistrate Jatin Thakkar sent Sai to judicial custody till January 2 after his remand, which was granted yesterday, ended this afternoon.

The police had yesterday sought Sai's custody to question him about 21 SIM cards recovered during the course of the probe. The police also wanted to find out the source of Rs 5 crore recovered from Sai's aides.

The police had detained six persons, including a police sub-inspector, in connection with an alleged conspiracy to bribe cops, doctors and judicial officers to weaken the case against Sai
16:54  Pak appoints Abdul Basit as high commissioner to India:  Pakistan today appointed careerdiplomat Abdul Basit as its new High Commissioner to India.

Basit, 55, was earlier tipped to take over as ForeignSecretary but the government recently made several changes inproposed appointments.

The government initially zeroed in on Syed Ibne Abbas asthe new envoy to New Delhi but changed its mind as officialsfelt he was too junior for the crucial posting.

Though the government decided on Basit, a former ForeignOffice spokesman, nearly 10 days ago, a formal notificationwas issued only today, official sources said.

Basit will take over in New Delhi from former Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir at a time when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is pushing for better ties with India.
16:32  The right and fair trial Abdul Quader Molla by Bangladesh:  'International news outlets have used a selective, biased and misleading approach to describe the execution of Abdul Quader Molla, a convicted war criminal who was hanged this month for crimes against humanity, genocide and rape committed during Bangladesh's War of Liberation in 1971,' writes Akramul Qader in

But, he points out, 'Throughout the trial process, international standards of justice have been meticulously maintained. The tribunals have been fair and impartial and were conducted entirely in public. The accused's right to know the charges and evidence and to be presumed innocent until proved guilty were also upheld. Defense attorneys were given ample time to prepare their cases and were allowed full cross-examination. They could also appeal final verdicts.' 

Read the full article here.
16:23  Delhi, Chh'garh get new PCC chiefs; Cong gets into revamp mode:   The Congress on Thursday appointed Arvinder Singh Lovely and Bhupesh Baghel as new Pradesh Congress Committee chiefs of Delhi and Chhattisgarh respectively signalling the party's intent to bring sweeping changes in state units after its debacle in recent assembly elections.

Former minister and sitting Member of Legislative Assembly Lovely replaces J P Agarwal, who resigned taking "moral responsibility" for the party's worst-ever defeat in the recent Delhi assembly election
16:12  Opinion on CNN: US owes India apology over strip-search:  Questions of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade's guilt or innocence can wait for another day. Yet, decency and common sense can be dealt with now. Those things tell us something went wrong in the arrest of the diplomat in New York. 

It's up to the Obama administration to make it right before this diplomatic crisis gets any bigger.

16:01  No difference in treatment to sailor and diplomat:  Salman Khurshid says there is no difference in the treatment given to Indian diplomat Khobragade and Captain James, who was imprisoned in Togo.  

15:51  Khurshid: Khobragade case should have been handled in more civilized manner. Calls behaviour of the US government unacceptable. 

Khurshid says the issue should be addressed to avoid irreversible damage to Indo-US relationship. 
15:51  US paid Karzais top aide $100,000+ a year!:  The Afghan president's top aide was on two USAID contractors' payroll, drawing more than $100,000 a year as part of a program to install West-backed technocrats in the government, reports

'The contractor salary provided to Said Jawad was part of a US initiative to directly pay high salaries to Western-educated Afghans who helped rebuild a government from scratch in the midst of an ongoing civil war and foreign occupation,' report Eli Lake and Josh Rogin.

'Two separate contracts for Jawad, one reviewed by The Daily Beast and the other mentioned in an email to Jawad, total more than $100,000 per year when taking into account stipends for housing, food, and health insurance that were included in the contracts,' they write.

'Jawad was by no means the only Afghan technocrat to benefit from such arrangements, according to current and former top USAID officials... In the early days of the Afghanistan war, USAID had a program to recruit hundreds of highly trained Afghans living in the West to become technocrats in Karzai's government to build government capacity. Part of this program... involved providing salaries competitive with their jobs in the West,' the duo report, here.
15:39  Khurshid: Khobragade case should have been handled in more civilized manner. Calls behaviour of the US government unacceptable. 

Khurshid says the issue should be addressed to avoid irreversible damage to Indo-US relationship. 
15:32  Case against Indian diplomat unwarranted: Khurshid:  In an interview to a TV news channel, Minister of External Affairs Salman Khurshid says that the case against Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade should be closed as it is unwarranted.

He says he won't respond to US Attorney Preet Bharara's statement but will only speak to the US Secretary of State .  

Khurshid says there are too many unexplained factors, asks why the warrant issued by the Delhi High Court was ignored.

Calls case against Khobragade a conspiracy.
15:10  AP House adjourned till Jan 3 as Telangana stalemate continues:  The Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly was today abruptly adjourned till January 3 without even initiating the crucial debate on draft AP Re-organisation Bill-2013 that provides for the creation of a new state of Telangana. 

With no end in sight to the stalemate that the House was pushed into in the last four days, Speaker Nadendla Manohar adjourned the Assembly this afternoon, much to the chagrin of Telangana members who insisted on a debate on the draft Bill.
15:09  Court issues production warrant against Irom Sharmila:  A Delhi court today issued production warrant for January 30 against rights activist Irom Sharmila after she failed to turn up in a case lodged against her for allegedly attempting suicide during her fast-unto- death here in 2006. 

The Manipuri activist, who has been on a fast for over 12 years demanding repeal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in her home state, did not appear before the court despite its October 30 direction in that regard.
15:06  Top Russian award for Indian cruise missile scientist:  Eminent Indian missile scientist A Sivathanu Pillai has been given the highest Russian award by President Vladimir Putin for his contribution towards strengthening the ties between the two countries through the successful BrahMos supersonic cruise missile programme.
14:49  The Sun's polarity flips every 11 years, and is not catastrophic:  The Sun is set to 'flip upside down' within weeks as its magnetic field reverses polarity in an event that will send ripple effects throughout the solar system, writes Tomas Jivanda in the Independent, London, but there's little to worry about it, it seems. 

'The Sun switches its polarity, flipping its magnetic north and south, once every eleven years through an internal mechanism about which little is understood,' says Jivanda. 

He quotes Todd Hoeksema, director of the Wilcox Solar Observatory, as saying: 'One of the most noticeable effect on Earth will be a boost in the occurrence, range and visibility of auroras -- the Northern Lights. It's not a catastrophic event, it's a large scale event that has some real implications, but its not something we need to worry about.' 

However, the swap could cause intergalactic weather fronts such as geomagnetic storms, which can interfere with satellites and cause radio blackouts, says Jivanda, here.
14:45  Save the banana!:  The healthy snack is under threat, with insect plagues reducing global supplies. And in the Independent, London,Rosie Millard wonders where we'd be without the lovable fruit and its comic potential, here.
14:44  US transfers 2 Guantanamo detainees to Sudan:  The United States has announced it had transferred two Sudanese detainees from Guantanamo to their home country, as President Barack Obama seeks to meet his vow to close the prison.
14:43  Devyani case third instance of maids accusing Indian diplomats:  The case of Devyani Khobragade, a top Indian diplomat accused of fraud by her domestic help here, is the third instance where maids working for diplomats at the Indian Consulate General in New York have complained against their employers. 

Khobragade, 39, the deputy consul general at the Indian Consulate in New York, was arrested last week and has been accused of visa fraud and for making false statements about the salary and employment terms of Sangeeta Richard, the domestic help she had got from India.
14:27  North, South Korea hold first talks since Pyongyang purge:  The two Koreas today held their first meeting since the shock execution of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's uncle, resuming talks about a joint industrial park as concerns rise over instability in Pyongyang. 

The last round of such talks took place in September when the Kaesong industrial zone, just over the border in North Korea, reopened after military tensions caused a five-month closure.
14:25  We are seeking legal opinion in Justice Ganguly's case: Shinde:  
The Home Ministry is seeking the opinion of the Law Ministry for sending a Presidential reference to Supreme Court in Justice (retd) A K Ganguly's case, says Sushilkumar Shinde

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde says the Centre is willing to give some more time to the Aam Aadmi Party on issue of government formation in Delhi. He has asked the Lt Governor how much time has that party sought. 

On the Gujarat snooping case the home minster says his ministry is examining the case and a decision on conducting a probe will be taken soon.  
13:55  Which ministries hired most minority candidates? And which none at all?:  Recruitment of minorities in central government services fell from 11.56% of total hires in 2010-11 to just 6.89% in 2012-13, according to data collected from nearly 70 Union ministries and departments, reports Bharti Jain in the Times of India

The statistics, cited by minister of state for personnel V Narayanasamy in his written reply to a query in the Rajya Sabha, show that the maximum number of minority candidates were recruited that year by the ministry of mines (7,802), followed by department of financial services (4,702) and ministry of home affairs (4,539), Bharti Jain reports.

And, 'as many as eight ministries/departments accounted for nil recruitment of minority candidates among the total candidates hired by them in both 2010-11 and 2012-13,' she says, here.
13:50  'It may appear that the transformation of Indian politics represents the triumph of public fasts and mass protests against corruption that urban India has witnessed and the news media has magnified in the past two and a half years. But the fact is that those movements failed and their icon, the social reformer Anna Hazare, faced ever-dwindling crowds,' writes Manu Joseph in the New York Times, here.
13:39  External affairs minister says Indo-US ties have to be dealt with 'sensibly':  I have sought details of what has happened in the case of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in the US, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has said. 

"The case again the Indian deputy consul general should not be pursued and should be withdrawn,' he said on Thursday afternoon. 

The external affairs minister also said, "Our relationship has a lot of investment, it is not an irreversible matter and we have to deal with it sensibly." 

Details soon.
12:47  Bangles as sign of impotence? Offended girl takes matter to court:  22-year-old Soumya Garg, who hails from tribal Jashpur district of Chhattisgarh, has moved the Chhattisgarh high court over using bangles as symbol of impotence, reports Rashmi Drolia in the Times of India.   

"Is it not derogatory to women when someone says 'choodi pehan ke ghar mein baitho' or present bangles to someone to brand the person as incompetent?" asks Soumya, in Rashmi's  report.   

"It hit me during Nirbhaya's protest in Delhi, when I saw on television that people were showing bangles to the police, who allegedly failed to act in time. You are demanding for women's safety and empowerment by showing bangles as a symbol of weakness! I take it as an absolutely derogatory gesture and an insult to entire womanhood," she tells Rashmi. 

Read the report here.
12:39  How the US prosecutor couldn't get his way with Russian violations:   'Only a few days before Devyani Khobragade's choreographed detention, New York's heady prosecutors drew up a litany of charges of medical- insurance fraud against 49 Russian diplomats to the tune of $1.5 million. These 49 Russians now figure in a criminal complaint unsealed in the same Manhattan court, where India's acting consul general was produced for a $250,000 bail hearing last week. Of these, 11 Russian diplomats continue to work at the Russian consulate in New York or at Moscow's permanent mission to the United Nations in the Turtle Bay area of Manhattan,' writes KP Nayar in The Telegraph, Kolkata.

But Preet Bharara, the celebrated Indian-American prosecutor, could do little, Nayar says. 

'When Bharara's men set out in quest of the alleged offenders, with handcuffs in their pockets, they were promptly restrained by the US state department, according to authoritative sources who spoke to this writer. The state department told Bharara's office that all the 11 serving Russian diplomats on US soil had diplomatic immunity and could not be arrested,' writes Nayar.   

'In Khobragade's case, the same state department insisted that she does not enjoy immunity except in the discharge of her official duties. There is a clear double standard here. That is because the Americans fear Russia. They have no such worries about India,' he concludes.   

Read KP Nayar's damning piece here.
12:27  Why the uproar over Devyani's arrest is so wrong:  Swati Sharma weighs in on l'affaire Devyani Khobragade in the Washington Post, saying why the furore over the diplomat's arrest is so wrong. 

'Little attention has been given to the housekeeper, Sangeeta Richard. India is siding with a woman who was in the wrong -- who lied, paid her help poorly and now is brazen enough to claim that she should not be treated like a criminal. What's 'deplorable'' to use the prime minister's words, is not Khobragade's treatment, which was standard, but the fact that many in India aren't speaking out against the treatment of the nanny,' she writes.

Read Swati's article here.
12:22  Dr Harsh Vardhan has 14 questions for Kejriwal:  Finally, it seems, the Delhi BJP has responded to Arvind Kejriwal's 18-point letter sent to it and the Congress, seeking to know their stand on issues dear to the Aam Aadmi Party before deciding to form the government in Delhi.  

Sweta Goswami reports in The Poineer, Delhi that the BJP's chief ministerial candidate, Dr Harsh Vardhan, has sent a 14-point rejoinder to Kejriwal.   

Among the things Varshan sought clarity from the AAP were the logic of appealing to the business and industrial houses for donation even after the elections, to come clean on its intentions in forming the next government, etc.   

Read the report here.
12:14  Meet the Khobragades:  Uttam Khobragade, a 1984-batch IAS officer and father of India's deputy consul-general in New York, Devyani Khobragade, aspired to become a Rajya Sabha MP following his retirement, reports Stuti Shukla in the Indian Express today.

He is not affiliated to any party but confirmed that he is "in talks with some parties". Khobragade, 62, 'comes from a scheduled caste family in Chandrapur district. He approached the Republican Party of India (Athawale) in the hope of a Rajya Sabha nomination from the party. While RPI(A) president Ramdas Athawale said Khobragade approached him first, Khobragade claimed it was the party that got in touch with him offering to make him its executive president,' Stuti reports.

But more interesting than the father's political aspirations, is the daughter's list of assets as per her income-tax returns from year ending 2012 and which is on the MEA's website.

Stuti writes: 'The Adarsh apartment is one of 11 immovable properties listed by Devyani...The other 10 comprise 25 acres of farmland (inherited) in Chandrapur district, 8 acres of farmland (inherited) in Ratnagiri district, 2 acres of farmland (inherited) in Raigad district, a 5,000 sq ft plot (purchased) in Alibaug, an 800 sq ft flat (purchased by father, inherited) in Pune district, a 500 sq ft flat (purchased) in Aurangabad district, a 10,000 sq ft plot (purchased by father, inherited) in Raigad district, a 200 sq m plot (purchased) in Greater Noida, a 3.97-are plot (transferred by father) in Kerala's Ernakulam district, 2-02 and 2-70 ares of land (gifted by father) in Ernakulam district.'
11:55  Despite moderate fog, Delhi's IGI is unaffected today, say officials:  After remaining disrupted for the past three days due to dense fog, flights operations were largely unaffected today even as the IGI airport witnessed moderate fog. 

"Flight operations were normal today as there was no dense fog at the airport.Though the airport witnessed moderate fog, visibility was good enough for operations," airport officials said. 

The runway visibility was above 1200 metres through the night for both main as well as third runway but it dropped to 500 metres around 7.30 am when fog become a bit dense. However, the visibility improved to 600 metres within 30 minutes. 

As the visibility dropped to 500 metres, the landing were taking place using CAT I instrument landing system, but did not have any impact on the smooth operations of flights.
11:43  Rupee drops by 37 paise vs dollar in late morning trading:  The rupee dropped further by 37 paise to 62.46 against the American currency in the late morning trade on persistent dollar demand from banks and importers on the back of higher dollar in the overseas market.

Fears of slow down in the foreign capital inflows into Indian equity market following decision of Federal Open Market Committee on tapering also affected the rupee sentiment, a forex dealer said.
11:41  There is a conspiracy against diplomat Devyani Khobragade: Khurshid:  United States, Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to speak to External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid today to clarify on the issue of Khobragade's arrest. 

Confirming the development, Khurshid told reporters, "Yes it is possible. I will have word with Kerry on Thursday evening. This matter should be resolved. We will do whatever more is needed to be done."

When prodded by the reporters about the US flip-flop on the issue, the External Affairs Minister said, "There is a conspiracy against diplomat Devyani Khobragade." 
11:34  'US executions drop in 2013 as death penalty concerns rise':  Executions in the United States are decreasing due to concerns about costs, flawed prosecutions and shortages of drugs needed to carry out lethal injections, the Death Penalty Information Center said in a report on Thursday.

There have been 39 executions carried out in the United States in 2013, down from 43 executions in each of the past two years, the group - a well-regarded source of death penalty data - said in its annual report.

The number of people sent to the death chamber has been on a general decline since 1999, when 98 people were executed.
11:30  India better prepared to deal with Fed tapering: Chidambaram:  India is better prepared to deal with any consequences of the US Federal Reserve's move to reduce monetary stimulus, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said in a statement on Thursday, that has supported inflows of cash to emerging markets.

After agonising investors for months, the Fed decided on Wednesday to trim its bond buying by $10 billion to $75 billion a month as a modest step and one the US economy could well withstand. Crucially, the US central bank softened the blow by making its forward guidance even more dovish.
10:44  Diplomat row: US Secretary of State Kerry to speak with Khurshid:   United States Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to meet with  External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid later in the day on the Indian diplomat's arrest issue.

Khurshid told a TV news channel that he does not want to have a dialogue with the US on the issue through the media. 
10:24  HC asks Adnan Sami to hand over his passport to police:  In more trouble for Pakistani singer Adnan Sami, the Bombay High Court has directed him to hand over his passport to police probing a harassment case filed against him by his ex-wife Sabah Galadari. 

Hearing Sabah's plea, Justice R P Sondurbaldota yesterday ordered Sami to give his passport to the investigating officer immediately.
10:08  Suspected Babbar Khalsa member arrested in US:  An Indian-American man has been arrested by the FBI on charges of providing material support to Sikh separatist groups in India planning terrorist attacks. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday arrested Balwinder Singh, 39, of Reno on charges of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, conspiracy to murder or otherwise harm persons in a foreign country and other lesser counts involving immigration records.
09:54  What the different parties positions on 377 reveal:  The electoral impact of the controversy over the reinstatement of Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code might be small, but the political significance of the positions that parties have taken on the decriminalisation of homosexuality is considerable.

The right of Indian homosexuals to have sex without being jailed for it is so far removed from the ordinary conversations of Indian politics '" corruption, economic modernization, communalism, pandering to 'vote-banks', etc '" that Rajnath Singh can be forgiven for seeing the controversy as a bout of extra-terrestrial angst that resonates mainly with a handful of queers and their deracinated desi fellow-travellers. 

The division bench's references to homosexuals as a miniscule minority (so small that Justice Singhvi declared he had never met a gay person) must have given the Bharatiya Janata Party's president heart: at last, a minority so small that it could be coshed without consequences, bashed without blowback.

Read more 
09:44  US to nominate Sen. Baucus as Ambassador to China:  President Barack Obama plans to nominate Sen. Max Baucus, (D., Mont.) to be the US ambassador to China, people familiar with the decision said Wednesday.

Baucus, who is 72 years old and in his sixth Senate term, has said he won't seek re-election next year. His post requires Senate confirmation and he isn't likely to quit his Senate seat before he is confirmed.

The White House declined to comment on the matter.
09:33  Teen sentenced in federal bomb case in Las Vegas:  A 19-year-old who had been accused of stockpiling weapons, forming a militia group and talking about a mass casualty attack on the Las Vegas Strip has been sentenced to 18 months in federal prison and three years of closely supervised release. 

With time already served since his arrest in September 2012, Steven Matthew Fernandes could be free by March. Fernandes declined to speak before US District Judge Andrew Gordon sentenced him.
09:16  The full allegations against Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade:   US authorities say Devyani Khobragade, the Indian diplomat arrested and charged with visa fraud in the US, submitted an employment contract to the State Department that she knew contained "materially false and fraudulent statements,' when she applied for a visa for another individual.

US Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security Special Agent Mark. J. Smith who led the investigation, alleges Ms. Khobragade caused another individual to make statements that she knew to be false to an employee at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, in support of the visa application.

08:09  Indian sailor Sunil James released from Togo prison:  Captain Sunil James of oil tanker MT Ocean Centurian, who was arrested in July on charges of aiding pirates off the coast of Togo, has been released.

James is set to leave for India on Thursday after spending six months in jail in Togo.

James' family had asked for his release for him to attend his son's funeral.
02:08  India's reprisal measures to start taking effect from today:  
India's retaliatory action against the treatment meted out to Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade by American authorities will start having effect from today, the deadline set for surrendering airport passes by all US consular diplomats and their families. 

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said US Consular diplomats and their families have been asked to surrender airports passes by Thursday. 

He said the US has been told to provide a list of all Indian nationals working with its Consulates, including domestic servants, by December 23. The government has also sought copies of their contracts, bank accounts, salaries and PAN numbers.

"We have written to all US Consulates in the country asking that their Consular identity cards may be withdrawn for review no later than December 23," Khurshid said.
02:04  Harvard student in court on bomb hoax charge:  
A Harvard University student appeared briefly in federal court today, accused of making a bomb threat that forced the evacuation of four campus buildings so he could get out of a final exam. 

Eldo Kim, 20, did not enter a plea and was due to return to court later in the day so prosecutors can argue that he should be held at least until a detention hearing. They also said, however, that they are discussing alternatives with his attorneys.

Kim, wearing a gray T-shirt and sweatpants, appeared somber as he stood before the judge. Bermjoon Kim, who works at the Korean consulate in Boston, attended the hearing but said the FBI told him Kim is a US citizen. The consulate is trying to determine whether he has dual citizenship, in which case it would facilitate communication with any relatives in Korea.

The US attorney's office in Boston alleges Kim sent hoax emails Monday saying shrapnel bombs would go off soon in two of four buildings on Harvard's Cambridge, Massachusetts, campus. The emails came minutes before he was to take a final exam in one of the buildings.
02:03  US evacuates diplomats, allies from Sudan:  
The Pentagon says it flew 120 US diplomats and others out of South Sudan today because of continuing violence in the African nation. 

A Defense Department spokesman, Army Col Steven Warren, says two C-130 aircraft picked up employees from the US Embassy in the capital of Juba, along with foreign diplomats and some US citizens, and flew them to neighboring Kenya today.

He says a small US military force remains on the ground in Juba to augment embassy security. 
02:03  Probe ordered into cop 'washing Lalu's feet':  
Jharkhand police have ordered a probe into media pictures showing a police officer washing the feet of Lalu Prasad before the RJD Chief went inside a temple while another policeman allegedly carried Lalu's slippers, a senior police officer said in Ranchi.

"The probe has been ordered by the police headquarters after publication of photographs in newspapers, showing a sub-divisional police officer pouring water from a mug on the feet of Lalu Prasad and another carrying his slippers," the police officer said.

The opposition raised the issue in the Assembly earlier in the day.

Lalu, who was released on bail in a fodder scam case on Monday from Birsa Munda Central jail, had been to Deori temple, about 40 km from here, the same day to pay obeisance. 

After addressing a press conference yesterday morning, the former Bihar Chief Minister went to Rajrappa temple in Ramgarh, about 45 km from Ranchi, where the events allegedly unfolded. 
02:02  Top headlines at this hour:  Devyani arrest: John Kerry calls NSA Menon, expresses regret 

Delhiites want Kejriwal to form the government 

Kohli helps India share Day One honours

Infosys to hire around 16k engineers next year: Murthy

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