23:27 Dense fog in North India affects over 40 trains:
Dense fog continued to create havoc in train operation with over 40 trains running behind schedule by several hours today.
As many as 49 trains mostly Delhi-bound were affected due to the foggy weather in the northern region.
While the premier service Rajdhani for Kolkata, Patna and Bhubaneswar were running late by several hours, Kanpur Shatabdi also got delayed because of the fog.
Lichchavi Express and Farakka Express were running 15 hours late while Brahmputra Mail and Magadh Express were behind the schedule for 13 hours and 10 hours respectively, according to Northern Railway data.
22:36 Adarsh scam is an unhappy episode: Prithviraj Chavan:
Dubbing the Adarsh Housing Society scam as an "unhappy episode", Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan today said rejection of the inquiry commission report was a decision of the state cabinet.
"It (Adarsh scam) was not a happy thing to happen. The entire episode, right from the time it happened...to the change of leadership...the whole process of gathering evidence before the commission...all that was an unhappy episode," Chavan told reporters in Mumbai.
Maharashtra government had yesterday rejected the report of the judicial commission of inquiry on the Adarsh scam it tabled in the Legislative Assembly, which indicted several politicians including four former Chief Ministers of Congress for "blatant violations" of statutory provisions.
However, refusing to divulge as to what prompted the state government to reject the Adarsh Commission report, which indicted four former chief ministers, including Ashok Chavan, he said it was a decision taken by the cabinet.
20:52 Nothing surprising in quitting govt to do party work: Pilot:
Corporate Affairs Minister Sachin Pilot, who is talked of as a possible President of Congress in Rajasthan, today said there is nothing surprising in a Minister quitting the government to do party work.
Pilot said that according to the situation, people do different works. "We all who are in Parliament, in government and I am not talking about only myself, the party has given us opportunity. We have been working to strengthen the organisation, party, ideology and whenever we have been asked to do anything we have done. There is nothing surprising in it," he said.
There are rumours that Pilot could be drafted in as President of the Congress party in Rajasthan. "Party decides where a person has to work and according to the requirement a person is given responsibility," Pilot told reporters on the sidelines of industry body Ficci's Annual General Meeting in New Delhi.
The Minister said that all who are in Parliament and working in government are basically party workers. "Our objective is to further strengthen our organisation and party," he said.
19:40 Has UPA leadership learnt no lessons from AAP experience?:
In a bizarre turn of events, as Jayanthi Natarajan resigned as Union Minister of State of Environment and Forests (Independent charge), she has been reportedly replaced by Veerappa Moily[i]. He holds Union Oil and Petroleum Ministry currently and will hold Ministry of Environment and Forests Ministry as an additional charge.
This choice of Veerappa Moily as the new Minister of Environment and Forests is shocking, ironical and unacceptable for many reasons. It seems the leadership of Congress and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has learnt no lessons from its Delhi election debacle. Mr Moily's appointment as Petroleum Minister in place of Jaipal Reddy was widely criticized as a sop to a specific private sector oil company[ii]. While we do not want to compare Mr Reddy as Petroleum minister with Mrs Natarajan as Environment minister, Mr Moily's appointment as Environment Minister seems to cater to similar lobby for hydropower projects and Dam.
Read Parineeta Dandekar's column here
19:28 UN appreciates restoration, rehabilitation after Cyclone Phailin:
The Odisha government's restoration and rehabilitation work after cyclone Phailin came in for UN appreciation today.
"A lot of development has taken place within only two months of the cyclone', special representative of the UN secretary general for disaster risk reduction Margareta Wahlstrom told reporters here after visiting some of the worst-cyclone hit areas in Ganjam district.
After an on-the spot visit, the UN representative said, "It appears from the damaged structures in the affected areas that damages were severe.'
At the same time she also appreciated the government for undertaking restoration activities promptly.
Wahlstrom, however, ruled out any direct assistance from the UN to the Odisha government for undertaking restoration works in the affected areas. "The Indian government has lot of resources to undertake such work. The UN has no such provision for direct funding,' she said replying to a question.
Hailing the Odisha government for effective preparedness ahead of the cyclone, the UN had yesterday honoured Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik by presenting a citation as a mark of recognition.
18:27 Fire at MHADA Colony, Malad:
Rediff.com's Mahipal Soni reports that there has been a fire at MHADA Colony in Malwani, Malad-West, a Western Mumbai suburb. Fire tenders are already at the spot, and there's a huge traffic commotion in the surrounding areas.
More details awaited.
18:08 UPA will come to power after 2014 polls: Omar:
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today expressed hope that the UPA-III would come to power after the 2014 elections and said the Congress-led alliance after forming government should introduce legislation to ensure access to free medical treatment for all.
"The time of UPA-II has gone. We are toiling hard towards formation of UPA-III. Inshallah, I want to say with confidence that there will be UPA-III government after (2014 Lok Sabha) elections," Omar said on the sidelines of a function in Jammu.
"UPA-II has given a lot to the people of the country, which nobody had thought of in the past. It was right to free and compulsory education and right to food," he said.
"But, the truth is that if we do not have health, these all are meaningless. If I do not have health, nothing is good for me," he said. "After elections, when UPA-III will be formed, we should give a gift to the people of this country from UPA-III in the shape of 'right to health'," he said.
17:37 Delhi: 2 'LeT operatives' sent to police custody till Jan 3:
Two suspected operatives of banned terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, arrested for allegedly conspiring to carry out terror strikes in Delhi, were today remanded in police custody till January 3 by a court in the national capital.
Rashid and Shahid, both aged 28, were produced before the court after expiry of their police remand and special cell of Delhi Police sought extension of their custody by 13 days contending that they are required for further interrogation to unearth the entire conspiracy.
The police claimed in the court that these accused were in touch with Pakistan-based LeT commander Javed Baluchi through mobile phones and were conspiring to carry out terror attacks in the national capital.
They also said that interrogation of these accused was necessary to know about the whereabouts of some absconding accused, who were also part of the entire conspiracy.
Opposing the police's plea, advocate M S Khan, appearing for Rashid and Shahid, argued that there were no new facts for which his clients are required to be quizzed. Additional Sessions Judge Daya Prakash allowed police's plea and extended the police custody of both the accused till January 3 next year.
17:14 Arbitrary power is causing harm in the country: Rahul Gandhi:
Rahul at FICCI meet:
We must become a global manufacturing hub. Land acquisition law will bring transparency, which will bring industry.
Beating inflation is our top priority, must crack down on hoarders.
We can't allow wholesale plunder of nature. Favour a middle path.
Arbitrary power is causing harm in the country.
We need to build value like Google.
Access to education must be improved.
16:50 No excuse for slow decision making: Rahul Gandhi :
Congress Vice president Rahul Gandhi is addressing a FICCI meet in New Delhi. Says we need to be humble and accept the peoples verdict.
Rahul says the UPA has done more in fighting corruption than any other party. Corruption in the biggest issue. We kept convicted politicians out of Parliament.
Poverty cannot be curbed without growth
16:38 Gunmen kill vaccinator in Pakistan: Officials:
Two gunmen shot dead a health worker administering polio drops and other vaccines to children in a restive Pakistani tribal region bordering Afghanistan on Saturday, officials said.
The murder took place at a government-run dispensary in Jamrud town in the Khyber tribal district. The gunmen ordered women and children to leave before shooting dead the vaccinator, doctor Sameen Jan, the top health official in Khyber told AFP.
16:29 Omar cuts down on use of official choppper:
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has cut down on the use of official helicopter, reducing the expenditure on it by nearly 40 per cent during the 18-month period from March 2012 to September 2013, an RTI reply has revealed.
The state's Civil Aviation Department in reply to an RTI query said the Chief Minister had spent Rs 4.35 crore on travelling by the state chopper during the period between March 15, 2012 and September 15, 2013.
16:00 US should understand value of partnership: Khurshid:
India and the US are in "conversations" to resolve the standoff over diplomat Devyani Khobragade, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid today said as he described the US as a valuable partner and asked it to "understand the value" of the partnership.
"We are in a conversation at different levels. Let the conversation go to its logical conclusion," he told reporters on the sidelines of a FICCI event.
15:59 US sends envoy to violence-plagued South Sudan:
The United States and other foreign powers stepped up pressure on South Sudan's feuding ethnic factions to settle their differences, as Washington dispatched an envoy to the violence-wracked region.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said yesterday he was sending a special envoy to encourage talks between opposing factions in the world's newest country, which has erupted into brutal fighting with a mounting death toll.
15:13 Khodorkovsky starts life as a free man in Germany:
Russia's most famous prisoner, Kremlin critic and former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, began life as a free man in Germany on today after his surprise pardon by President Vladimir Putin.
After spending more than 10 years behind bars, Russia's former richest man was quietly escorted from his prison in northwestern Russia yesterday and boarded a plane to Berlin in an operation worked out behind the scenes with the German government.
15:12 DYFI activists protest in front of US Consulate:
About 50 activists of Democratic Youth Federation of India, a left wing youth outfit, staged a demonstration in front of the US Consulate here today to protest the arrest of diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York.
They raised slogans and held placards against the US government, condemning her arrest, police said. "We condemn the arrest of Indian diplomat in the US. We demand that the Indian government send back US diplomats posted here," one of the activists said.
14:59 Sanjay Dutt out on parole:
Two weeks after Sanjay Dutt was granted a month-long parole, the Bollywood actor was today released from Pune's Yerwada Jail. Additional Director General of Prisons Meeran Borwankar confirmed the development to PTI
Dutt, undergoing remainder of his five-year jail term for possessing illegal firearms, part of a cache of weapons meant to be used during the 1993 blasts, was granted parole on December 6.
14:58 CAG reports useful input but Parl view should prevail: Montek:
Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahulwalia today said CAG reports are useful inputs but it should be Parliament's views that prevail as observed by apex court.
"They (Two Supreme Court Judges) have gone out of their way to say that CAG is a constitutional authority. Its report is a useful input. It should be considered by the PAC (Public Account Committee). It is the view of the PAC then that prevails and subsequently it is the view of Parliament that should come, " Ahluwalia said while addressing FICCI's 86th Annual General Meeting.
14:47 'Law minister should not chase and hound retired judges':
Union Minister Kapil Sibal wants to take on controversial retired SC judges Justice Ganguly and Justice Singhvi.
On two important cases both judges passed strictures and quantified huge exchequer losses in the 2G scam.
Justice Singhvi also gave his ruling on the controversial Section 377 "Gay sex".
A senior judge commented, is this the judicial accountability that Executive wants us to believe? Law Minister should not chase and hound retired judges.
13:58 EC wants paid news to be made electoral offence: CEC:
The Election Commission has recommended to the Law Ministry to treat all paid news as an electoral offence since it had been causing "maximum damage" to the electoral process, Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath today said.
"Corruption implications of paid news has its impact on every one... media, candidates and people and it is one that causes maximum damage to the electoral process", Sampath said while delivering a key-note address at a seminar on 'Electoral Reforms', here.
13:32 Devyani case not to impact India-US commercial ties: Sharma:
The ongoing spat between India and US over the diplomat Devyani Khobragade issue would not impact commercial ties between the two countries, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said here today.
"India was outraged over the treatment given to Devyani but our relationship with the US is far too important. It is a strategic partnership between the two largest democracies of the world. Strategic in every sense, so we are not disengaging. This relationship will go stronger," Sharma told reporters here.
12:50 Jayanthi Natarajan quits from Cabinet as environment minister:
Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan has resigned from the Cabinet. Her resignation has been accepted by the President.
Oil Minister Veerappa Moily takes additional charge of the environment ministry.
Natarajan is expected to play a bigger role in the Congress party ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections
12:00 Jayalalithaa is AIADMK's prime ministerial candidate:
The All Indian Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam has declared Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa as the party's prime ministerial candidate.
The party passed a resolution to name her the party's PM candidate
11:47 Indian-American pleads not guilty to terrorism charges:
An Indian-American Sikh man arrested in the US on charges of providing material support to Sikh separatist groups planning terrorist attacks in India has pleaded not guilty in a Nevada court.
Appearing before the court in Reno, Balwinder Singh, aka Jhajj, aka, Happy, aka Possi, aka Baljit Singh, said that all the charges against him are wrong. He claimed that his real name is Baljit and not Balwinder Singh as reported by the US Attorney's office.
11:11 Taiwan court suspends trial of ailing ex-president:
A Taiwanese court has suspended the trial of former president Chen Shui-bian on the ground that he is suffering from depression, dementia and other health problems, officials said today.
Chen, who is already serving a 20-year jail term for corruption, has been on trial since last year for allegedly taking illegal possession of confidential documents while he was in office.
11:10 Ban, UNSC strongly condemn deadly attack on UN base in S Sudan:
UN chief Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council have strongly condemned the attack on a UN base in South Sudan that killed 22 people, including two Indian peacekeepers, and asked the government there to swiftly investigate the "criminal act".
11:09 Scandal-hit Turkey PM presses police purge:
Turkish prosecutors have begun charging some of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's closest allies in a huge graft scandal he has responded to with a spectacular purge of the police.
Erdogan has said he is battling "a state within a state" and described the corruption probe, which comes ahead of crucial March polls, as a smear operation.
10:19 I took this job to deliver for the American people: Obama:
Playing down the latest polls putting him at a low approval rating, US President Barack Obama said that he took "this job to deliver for the American people".
"I guess what I'm saying is if you're measuring this by polls, my polls have gone up and down a lot through the course of my career. I mean, if I was interested in polling, I wouldn't have run for President," Obama said yesterday.
09:16 Obama refuses to be drawn on idea of Snowden amnesty:
President Barack Obama refused to weigh in on whether fugitive intelligence leaker Edward Snowden should receive amnesty despite his revealing the vast scope of US digital spy sweeps.
Obama, addressing reporters at a year-end White House press conference yesterday, said he welcomed a debate about the role of the National Security Agency, as he weighs possible changes to its broad powers.
09:14 UK to help destroy Syria's chemical stockpile:
The UK will help the international mission to destroy Syria's chemical weapons program, officials said, joining a complex operation with prominent roles for the US, Denmark and Norway.
Britain's Foreign Office yesterday said it has agreed to destroy 150 tons of two industrial-grade chemicals from Syria's stockpile at a commercial facility. The chemicals used in the pharmaceutical industry will be shipped to the UK before being transferred to a commercial site to be incinerated and destroyed, it said in a statement.
09:12 Surveillance program keeps the nations safe: Obama:
Acknowledging the need of a system of check and balance to prevent any misuse, US president Barack Obama defended the controversial internet and phone surveillance program arguing that this keeps the nations safe and has prevented terrorist strike.
Obama said that "there had not been evidence and there continues not to be evidence that the particular program had been abused in how it was used," and that it proved a useful tool for the intelligence community.
00:52 Khobragade issue: Domino's outlet stoned in Mumbai:
A pizza store was vandalized in Mumbai on Friday evening by demonstrators in protest against the alleged ill-treatment of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in the United States.
According to Kherwadi police, protesters pelted stones at Domino's Pizza outlet in suburban Bandra. Their identities were being ascertained.
The Mumbai police registered a case of rioting against eight persons in connection with the incident.
00:41 BlackBerry posts huge loss; shares rise on handset deal:
BlackBerry Ltd, after giving up on a plan to sell itself last month, reported a massive $4.4 billion quarterly loss on Friday as sales of its smartphones shriveled and it booked a huge inventory writedown.
Even so, its shares surged 16 percent to $7.26 in morning trading as investors welcomed a move by the Canadian company that could ease the risk of more writedowns for unsold phones.
BlackBerry said it has entered a five-year partnership with Foxconn Technology Co Ltd to develop and manufacture handsets, starting with a low-end device built for Indonesia and other emerging markets. The deal means that BlackBerry will no longer pay upfront for components for devices produced by Foxconn on its behalf.
Investors viewed the arrangement as an exit from handsets in all but name for BlackBerry, helping push its stock up despite the dismal operating numbers.
00:37 India has always shown spine in national interest: Sujatha Singh:
Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh has said that India has always followed its own path and shown spine on all major issues since gaining independence in 1947.
Contritely rejecting a media observation that New Delhi has failed to flex its muscles on major issues, Singh said, "India has shown spine ever since it got independence in 1947. We have shown spine in everything we have done, whether in forging our own foreign policy, in taking our own decisions, or it is about Non Alignment or it is about Bangladesh. We have always followed our own path. We have followed it determined by our national interest and by how we see the world. And we continue to do so."
Commenting specifically on the Devyani Khobragade case, Singh said, "It is completely a question about the diplomatic courtesies being extended to an Indian diplomat. You do not treat an Indian diplomat under these circumstances whether it is in the US or anywhere else in the world. We expect our diplomat to be given exactly the same courtesies that we extend to American diplomats and indeed to diplomats from all over the world. That is the numb of the matter."
"I think there is no doubt whatsoever that things are better on ground than they are perceived.
I think there is a perception, and there is a reality. Perception is something that we have to seek to overcome in terms of making sure that it correlates with reality. This is where the Ministry of External Affairs plays an important role in making sure that the message goes across," she added.
00:34 Preet Bharara sours India-US ties:
There is no doubt that neither New York prosecutor Preet Bharara nor those in the State Department who gave permission for the arrest of Deputy Consul-General Devyani Khobragade had any qualms in humiliating not only the diplomat but her country.