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Raj Thackeray refuses to comment on Uddhav's offer

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February 01, 2013


23:52  Raj Thackeray refuses to comment on Uddhav's offer:  MNS chief Raj Thackeray today refrained from commenting on the possibility of a reconciliation with Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, even as speculation about it remained abuzz in the political circles of Maharashtra.        

Raj, who attending an event to inaugurate the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Cartoonist convention, paid tribute to late Shiv Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray by drawing his cartoon and recalling his uncle's contribution to his own development as an artist.        

Though a sense of anticipation pervaded a packed auditorium in the wake of the recent overture by Uddhav to his estranged cousin through an interview in Sena mouthpiece Saamna, the latter refrained from making any comment on the possibility of a thaw in the relationship.
22:36  Bomb scare on IndiGo's Dubai-bound plane :  A Dubai-bound IndiGo plane was delayed on Friday evening after officials at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai received an anonymous call claiming there was a bomb on the aircraft.        

The call later turned out to be a hoax, Mumbai airport sources said.        

The plane was taken to a remote bay where security agencies carried out an intense search of the passengers and aircraft.
22:35  US economy continues to improve: White House:  The US economy continues to improve but it still has a long way to go, said the White House today and asked the Congress to pass the legislations necessary in this regard.        

"While more work remains to be done, today's employment report provides further evidence that the US economy is continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression," said Alan B Krueger, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, White House.
22:13  BJP decision to boycott Shinde unfortunate: Cong:  The Congress on Sunday night expressed regret about the BJP's plans to boycott all public programmes of Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde to protest against his remarks on 'Hindu terror', saying the opposition party should not politicise the issue.        

Party spokesman Rashid Alvi said Congress has already clarified that it was its firm belief that terrorism does not belong to any religion. 

"Terrorism is just terrorism," he said, adding that Shinde has clarified the matter.        

He said that in spite of this, if the BJP is planning such a protest action, it is "unfortunate".

"They should not politicise, this issue is sensitive. Terrorism is the cancer facing the country and the entire nation should be one in facing it," he said.     

BJP took the decision in its first Core Group meeting after Rajnath Singh took over as party president on January 23.  
22:10  'Vishwaroopam' released in Gujarat:  Kamal Haasan-directed Vishwaroopam was today released across multiplexes in Gujarat amid tight security, with very few cinema goers opting for the film.       

Multiplex Owners Association president Manu Patel told PTI that Vishwaroopam was released across the state peacefully'.
22:09  Cong leader raises Telangana isssue at Rahul meet:  A strong plea for an early resolution of the vexed Telangana issue was made by an AICC secretary during a meeting of Congress office bearers with Rahul Gandhi today.      

P Sudhakar Reddy raised the issue at the meeting. He later said that Gandhi assured him that he will look into it.      

Another party Secretary V Hanumanta Rao, who also hails from Telangana region, said that the party vice president told Reddy to focus on organisational issues, for which the meeting has been called.
21:00  Karnataka mining: SC asks CEC for fresh report:  The Supreme Court today asked the Central Empowered Committee to submit a report on fresh allegations about illegal mining in Karnataka.        

A bench of justices Aftab Alam, K S Radhakrishnan and Ranjan Gogoi passed the order after the affidavit was filed before the court by the petitioner NGOSamaja Parivartana Samudaya.        

The NGO, in its affidavit, has given details of the alleged illegalities committed by various private mining firms which hold licenses to mine in Bellary, Tumkur and Chitradurga districts, as well as state-owned Mysore Mining Ltd.
20:58  Railways to seek Rs 38,000 cr from finance ministry:  Burdened with increasing diesel cost and a large number of pending projects, railways has sought Rs 38,000 crores as general budgetary support from the finance ministry for 2013-14.     

Railways had received Rs 24,000 crore from the finance ministry as support in the current fiscal.     

"We have sought Rs 38,000 crore as budgetary support in the 2013-14 rail budget," said a senior railway ministry official. 
20:57  180 flights at IGI affected by dense fog:   Flight operations went haywire due to fog today at the Indira Gandhi International airport in Delhi, which remained closed for around five hours, affecting over 180 domestic and international flights.        

The fog, which descended on the airport on Thursday night, grew denser on Friday morning with the MeT department terming it the 'worst' of the season.        

Around 19 flights had to be diverted to Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Mumbai after visibility dropped to less than 50 metres in the morning, while 19 were cancelled and around 130 flights were delayed by up to seven hours, an airport official said.
20:55  26/11: Process initiated for Pak panel's India visit :  Pakistani authorities have initiated steps to obtain travel documents for members of a judicial commission -- which is expected to visit India for a second time by the end of February -- to interview four officials as part of the probe into the 2008 Mumbai attacks.        

The Federal Investigation Agency on Thursday filed an application in an anti-terrorism court that asked the members of the commission to deposit all necessary documents and passports.
20:53  Cabinet clears ordinance to tackle crimes against women:  The Union Cabinet on Friday cleared an ordinance on tackling the increasing cases of crimes against women.

Further details are awaited.
20:51  BJP to boycott any meeting called by Shinde:  BJP has decided to boycott Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, even if the latter calls a meeting with the opposition as the leader of the Lok Sabha.

Shinde had angered the opposition party when he linked it and RSS to terrorism in India.
19:49  HC notice to Salman Khurshid-run Trust:  The Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court today issued notice to Dr Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust, run by Union Minister Salman Khurshid and his wife Louis, on a PIL seeking direction for lodging of an FIR and also monitoring by the court in the case relating to the Trust. 

The order was passed by a bench of Justice Uma Nath Singh and Justice Satish Chandra. Through a notice, the bench sought a reply from the Trust that whether the allegedly misappropriated fund could be deposited with the Central Social Justice and Empowerment department.
19:43  22 killed in blast near mosque in northwest Pakistan:  A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a Shia mosque in Pakistan's restive northwest today, killing 22 people and injuring over 50, officials said. The attacker detonated his explosives in a narrow alley near the imambargah at Pat Bazar in Hangu town of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. 

The bomber struck as worshippers were leaving the imambargah after Friday prayers and people were going into a nearby Sunni mosque, witnesses said.
19:15  Graeme Smith's unique century for South Africa:  'I am not sure anyone will lead his country in a hundred Test matches again. Our view of the future is still largely blurred, and future captains might find there is less emphasis on Test cricket. And it would require another extraordinary sequence of events to assign leadership to one so young.' Our favourite cricket writer Harsha Bhogle pens a paean to the amazing South African cricket captain of 100 Test matches, read it here.
19:11  No Indian casualties in Turkish capital blast:  No Indian nationals have been injured in the blast at the entrance of the US Embassy in the Turkish capital today and Indian Ambassador Sushmita Ganguly in Ankara was in touch with local authorities. 

"Indian Ambassador in Ankara Sushmita Ganguly has informed that she is in touch with local authorities and the US Embassy and no Indian nationals have been injured in the blast," official sources said.
19:09  Four-and-a-half years, one state police force, two federal investigative teams, two sets of suspects, five arrests and countless fumbles later, Aarushi's murder remains unsolved, writes Shree Paradkar while reporting in thestar.com on the Inside story of India's most controversial trial. Read her here.
18:44  V P Singh praises Musharraf's 'courage':  Former Pakistan military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf today received praise for coming deep into Indian territory in Kargil in 1999 from former Army Chief Gen V K Singh, who said it showed the "courage" of a military commander. 

Singh, who headed the Indian Army from 2010 to 2012, said there were "mistakes" on the Indian side that allowed Pakistani troops to cross over into Indian territory and let Musharraf go back safely.
18:26  Writers, film fraternity slam Bengal govt over Rushdie:  The literary and film community today came out in support of controversial author Salman Rushdie and blamed the West Bengal government for cancellation of his visit to the metropolis. 

"If a world-renowned writer is unable to come to Kolkata, then it is extremely unfortunate," Magsaysay award-winning author Mahasweta Devi said. "Kolkata has always remained an open city for all. It has welcomed and helped writers from all over the world. That way it has a different type of depth. But what is happening now is very strange and I don't find any logic in it," she told PTI. 

The state government should have given Rushdie adequate security and arrangements for his stay in the city, she added.
17:46  2 dead in blast outside US embassy in Ankara:  Associated Press reports: A police official says a suicide bomber has detonated an explosive device at the entrance of the US Embassy in the Turkish capital and at least two people are dead.

An Associated Press journalist today saw a body in the street in front of an embassy side entrance. The bomb appeared to have exploded inside the security checkpoint at the entrance of the embassy.

Private NTV television said two security guards at the entrance were killed. 

The police official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government rules. The phones were not being answered at the embassy. 
17:38  Rushdie is lying, say Book Fair, Lit meet organisers:  
Organisers of Kolkata Literary Meet and Kolkata Book Fair have denied British Indian novelist Salman Rushdie's statement today that he was invited to be a part of the literary carnival and said he was 'lying'.

"Rushdie is lying. He was never invited to the festival," Tridib Chatterjee, general secretary of  Publishers and Book Sellers Guild, which organises Kolkata Book Fair, said in Kolkata.

"Ask him (Rushdie) to show his invitation. May be he is a renowned writer but he is lying," Chatterjee said.

Asked whether there was any pressure from the government not to include Rushdies name in the invitation list, he said the guild organises the book fair and the government has nothing to do with it.

Echoing him, KLM organiser Malavika Banerjee said: "We never invited Rushdie. His name was never included in our schedule."
17:23  Delhi CM helped power cos make nearly Rs 3000 cr profit: Kejriwal:  
Activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal is holding a press conference in New Delhi exposing 'connivance' between Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and the electricity companies. 

The power tariff in Delhi should be half of what it currently is, a said at a press conference on Friday.

Targeting the Delhi government, Kejriwal said, "Delhi government has deliberately stopped the DERC's draft tariff order."

He stated that distribution losses were lesser but the public failed to benefit from that.

The offensive against Delhi government is not new and, in fact, marks the end of a two-month hiatus even as the political group prepares for its electoral debut in the 2014 assembly elections.

Kejriwal alleged that power companies had made nearly Rs 3000 crore in profits.

He also claimed that Dikshit had rejected the DERC's order slashing power tariff.

Click HERE to read entire transcript of Kejriwal's expose
17:05  Dr Singh appoints Antony as ISI president:  
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has appointed Defence Minister A K Antony as president of the Indian Statistical Institute in Kolkata.

The post was earlier held by Pranab Mukherjee.

Antony, however, has refused to get the perks which he is entitled to as the president of the Institute.

The government has also appointed Dr C Rangarajan, chairman of the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council, ISI chairman.
16:26  Delhi fog creates 20-car pile-up on major freeway:  
A blanket of fog on the Noida-Agra Yamuna Expressway today caught 20 vehicles in a massive pile-up and left around 30 people injured.

The vehicles smashed into each other near Bhaipur in Jewar close to Greater Noida, the police said.

The accident was triggered by a collision between a government bus and a truck. "A bus of the Uttar Pradesh Roadways going from Noida to Agra hit the truck. A number of vehicles collided in a series," a police officer said.

The injured are being treated at Kailash Hospital in Greater Noida
15:53  Rail budget on Feb 26, general budget on Feb 28:  The Budget session of Parliament will commence on Feb 21 to and conclude on May 10.

The railway budget will to be presented on Feb 26 and general budget on Feb 28.
15:50  Govt ordinance for stronger penalties in rape:  After national outrage over the gang rape of a medical student on a Delhi bus last month, the government has decided to issue an ordinance that implements tougher jail terms for sexual offenders, as recommended by the Justice JS Verma Commission, reports NDTV.

Named for the retired chief justice who was its chair, the Verma committee recently recommended major revisions of the laws that deal with crimes against women.

The ordinance will enact tougher jail terms for sexual offenders, including life imprisonment that "should mean the rest of the person's life" for extreme rape cases.

Read the full report here
15:42  Delhi gang-rape victim's family seeks appointement with Sonia:  The family of Delhi gang-rape victim has sought an appointment with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to apprise her of their woes and demands.   

The father of the girl told PTI on phone that he hassought an appointment with Gandhi. Her office has asked the family to wait for some time in keeping with her pressing commitments, he said.   

The family is unhappy over the Juvenile Justice Board's decision on the sixth accused, but have full faith that despite him being ruled as a minor, he would also get sternest of punishments, he said.
15:27  Malala Yousafzai nominated for Nobel Peace Prize :  Malala Yousafzai, the shot Pakistani schoolgirl-turned-icon of Taliban resistance, and ex-Eastern bloc activists are among those known to be nominated for this year's Nobel Peace Prize, as the deadline expired on Friday, reports AFP.

This year's award will be announced in early October, but speculation was already underway as the deadline for nominations ran out on February 1.

Fifteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai was shot by a Taliban gunman at point blank range as she travelled on a bus to school on October 9, targeted for promoting girls' education.
15:09  Top brass of Etihad, Jet meet Chidambaram:  Ahead of finalising Etihad's deal to acquire 24 per cent stake in Jet Airways, top brass of the two carriers today met Finance Minister P Chidambaram here and are understood to have discussed regulatory requirements.


"I am happy and satisfied. I will speak to you at the right time," Jet promoter Naresh Goyal told reporters after he and Etihad President and CEO James Hogan met Chidambaram at the North Block headquarters of the Finance Ministry.

The two airlines are likely to clinch the deal soon and apply for approval of the stake sale deal to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board of the finance ministry. Speculation is rife that the deal would be firmed up in the next ten days.
14:39  Govt is cheating people with revised Lokpal draft: Hazare:   A day after the Cabinet cleared the Lokpal Bill, Anna Hazare slammed the government at a press conference. 'The government has betrayed us. It has gone back on its word."

"The government has cheated people with a revised draft of the Bill. It has gone back on 3 assurances that the prime minister gave us at Ramlila Maidan. He also assured us that Lokayukta should be a party of Lokpal.," he said.

"As long as CBI, CVC is under government control, corruption will not end. What is the meaning of this Lokpal if it does not ensure justice for the poor?"

"I wrote to Sonia Gandhi that power is not poison but an addiction. I have no enmity with the government. If the government brings a strong Lokpal then I will congratulate the government. But if nothing happens then I may even go back to Ramlila Maidan and ask people to elect people who will give you laws that empower you," said Hazare.      
14:11  Cut 9 minutes from Vishwaroopam: Protest groups:  As the meeting between Kamal Haasan's brother and Muslim leaders continued over the controversy surrounding 'Vishwaroopam', sources tell NDTV that protest groups have suggested to cut nine minutes from the film.

Objection by minority groups provoked a two-week ban on the film.
14:00  Saibaba trust got Rs 275 crore donation in 2012:  The Saibaba Shirdi Sansthan Trust received a donation of Rs 274.71 crore from devotees last year, a senior trust official said. Devotees also donated 36 kg of gold in various forms in 2012, estimated to be worth Rs 11 crore, Sansthan's executive officer Kishor More said.

However, the Sansthan received 373 kg of silver in the last calendar year, even as it received 440 kg of the metal in 2011, More said.

The Sansthan had recently melted the treasure's 37 kg gold and 513 kg silver for making coins while it still has about 300 kg gold and 4,000 kg silver with it, he said.
13:39  TMC's Sultan Ahmed: You cannot denigrate Islam :  Welcoming Mamata Banerjee's decision to not allow author Salman Rushdie to visit Kolkata, Trinamool Congress Sultan Ahmed said that he was not ashamed of congratulating West Bengal government from stopping author Salman Rushdie.

"You cannot denigrate Islam and get away with it. Abusing a religion is not free thinking," he told CNN-IBN.      
13:24  Diesel prices to go up by 40-50 p monthly: Moily :  Oil minister Veerappa Moily has said that diesel prices will be raised by 40-50 paise every month till further orders, reports NDTV.

The government had on January 17 permitted state-run oil marketing companies to set diesel prices in a move that could help the government reduce its budget-busting subsidy bill. A day later, the price of the fuel was hiked by 45 paise.
13:19  Beckham, beware of Qatari moneymen behind Paris St-Germain move:  David Beckham signing a five-month contract with Paris-Saint Germain, the latest stop on his globe-trotting career.

The 37-year-old former England captain joined PSG after turning down several other offers and pledging to effectively play for free.

But the football star needs to be aware of the long-term game-plan devised by the club's Qatari owners, writes Henry Winter in The Telegraph.

Read the full story here
13:08  Noted painter Shanu Lahiri passes away:  Shanu Lahiri, a well known painter of Bengal School, died after a brief illness at a private hospital here today, family sources said. She was 85.

Born in an artistically inclined family, Lahiri studied at the Government School of Art and Crafts, Calcutta where she received the President's Gold Medal. She was the first student of the institution to receive a President's Gold Medal.
12:49  CM Mamata blocked my arrival in Kolkata: Rushdie:  Author Salman Rushdie has said that he was banned from visiting Kolkata earlier this week by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.  He was scheduled to address a press conference as part of the publicity for 'Midnight's Children' based on his award-winning novel.

"The simple fact is that the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee ordered the police to block my arrival, " Rushdie tweeted today.  
12:30  Jackie Chan named to top Chinese political advisory body:  Jackie Chan's latest film, CZ12, in which he set out to reclaim 12 ancient Chinese zodiac statues stolen by the West, reportedly broke China's box office records.

With the Hong Kong-based actor reportedly named as a delegate to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top political advisory body, his next film should do better in the mainland. 

Reporting on the appointment, the South China Morning Post says while Chan's appointment is yet to be officially confirmed, it quotes CPPCC standing committee member Chan Wing-kee as confirming that his name was on the list.   
The SCMP quotes political observer Dr Chung Kim-wah of Polytechnic University describing the appointment as "another political vase." Chung tells the newspaper: "I don't expect there's anything revolutionary Chan can or will do for Hong Kong in the CPPCC, which is largely a talk shop. But for him, it is very good as he can more strongly secure the Chinese market."

Cultural critic Perry Lam Pui-li echoes similar sentiment to the SCMP. The 58-year-old actor "knows that his future, and Hong Kong's future, is in China."
12:18  Vishwaroopam ban: Haasan's bro meets Muslim leaders:  Amid the ongoing controversy over Kamal Haasan's 'Vishwaroopam', his brother met Muslim leaders and Tamil Nadu home secretary in Chennai today hoping to arrive at a compromise that will end a ban on the film.

Kamal Haasan is in Mumbai where the Hindi version of the 95-crore thriller releases today. His brother Chandra who has co-produced the film represented him.

The Chennai Police Commissioner was also present at the meet.
12:10  US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's final policy speech:  'We have to be strategic about all the levers of global power and look for the new levers that could not have been possible or had not even been invented a decade ago. We need to widen the aperture of our engagement,' US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in her last policy speech, at the Council on Foreign Relations on Thursday. 

Read her full speech here.

On Friday, February 1, Clinton will depart the State Department for the final time as Secretary of State. She will address employees at approximately 2:30 pm EST and her remarks will be open to the press and live streamed on the US State Department's YouTube channel here, in case you want to catch it.
11:58  The India-Iran relationship status: It's complicated:  Does Iran need India as much the latter needs it? A recent Track II discussion on New Delhi-Tehran ties was an eye-opener on the need for a foreign policy that is not based on the appeasement of any country, writes Chinmaya Gharekhan, until recently Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Special Envoy for West Asia, in The Hindu

Read his views here.
11:57  Vishwaroopam: Kamal's bro meets with Muslim leaders:  Amid raging controversy over 'Vishwaroopam', the Tamil Nadu home sectary met filmmaker Kamal Haasan's brother and Muslim groups in Chennai.

At the meet organised by the Tamil Nadu government, the actor hopes that a compromise will be arrived at to end the ban on the film.

Haasan is in Mumbai where the Hindi version of the 95-crore thriller releases today. 

He was represented at the meeting in Chennai by his brother, Chandra, who has co-produced the film, which was banned for two weeks by the government after Muslim groups said it portrays the community in a negative light. 

In addition to Muslim leaders, the Chennai Police Commissioner is attending the talks.
   
11:52  Why Thackeray and Owaisis are not the same:  'The parallels between Bal Thackeray and the Owaisi brothers are many. Akbaruddin Owaisi's speech has echoes of the Sena chief's rants: the same denigration of the other community, the same call to arms cloaked in religious terminology, the same self-projection as the saviour of the community, even the same vulgarity. Charged Shiv Sainiks used to react in the same way as the all-male Muslim audience did at Nirmal. 

'But the differences are significant. Bal Thackeray insulted Muslims all the time; indeed, the word he used to refer to them was itself derogatory. But on record, Thackeray never insulted the Prophet. However, throughout his speech, Owaisi abuses Hindu deities and beliefs,' points out Jyoti Punwani in The Hindu

Read her here.
11:39  SC directs police NOT to arrest Ashis Nandy :   The Supreme Court today directed the police not to arrest sociologist Ashis Nandy.

However, the court rapped Nandy and said that he should not be making statements like the one at the Jaipur  Literary Festival.    

The apex court heard Nandy's petition seeking protection from arrest for an alleged anti-Dalit remark he made at the Jaipur Literary Festival. Nandy has requested the apex court to quash all the FIRs registered against him.

The court has sent notices to the governments of Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Bihar.

At a panel discussion at the literary festival on January 26, Nandy had said: "Most corrupt people come from the Other Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes."  
11:34  Murky tales emerge from Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre:  The recent acid attack on the artistic director of Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre has caused consternation among the artistic fraternity. 

Spiegel Online says there are three theories behind the attack: 'One is that it has to do with internal power struggles and the competition for top performing roles. Another is that it has to do with sex and love. Sources at the Bolshoi say that Sergei Filin is not gay, but so good looking that both men and women have become infatuated with him. Perhaps it was an act of jealousy,' write Susanne Beyer, Benjamin Bidder, Wladimir Pyljow and Matthias Schepp.

The third theory, they say, is what the artistic director told the police, that it could have to do Bolshoi Theatre's murky business deals. 

Read the shocking account here.
11:22  Maoists regrouping in Jangalmahal, warns intelligence:  Maoists are regrouping in West Bengal's Jangalmahal area, where peace prevailed for more than a year after their leader Kishenji was killed and several other top functionaries were arrested, according to the state Intelligence Bureau. 

Jangalmahal, which comprises three districts of West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia, where killings and encounters between Maoists and security forces were almost the order of the day since 2008, saw relative peace since the middle of 2011. 

But the latest intelligence reports said the ultras in small groups were trying to regroup in the area and rebuilding their movement from a scratch. 

"We have specific inputs that Maoists are trying to regroup in the region. The squads of Maoist leaders Bikash in the Lalgarh area (W Midnapore), Ranjit in Ayodhya hills (Purulia), Madan Mahato in Jambani, Akash and Jayanto are trying to regroup and recruit new people," SIB ADG, Banibrata Basu, said.
11:19  Nukes could be hijacked by radicals: Pak scientist:  Increasing radicalisation within Pakistan's military could lead to its nuclear weapons being hijacked by radical Islamists, a Pakistani scientist has warned. 

"Safety and security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is of a major concern. The growing radicalisation within the military, given attacks on its own internal bases, could lead to these nuclear weapons being hijacked by radical Islamists," said Pervez Hoodbhoy, who was in London for the London launch of his book Confronting the Bomb.
11:17  Bharti Q3 Net declines 72% to Rs 284 cr:  Bharti Airtel's today reported decline in its consolidated net profit for the 12th consecutive quarter, falling 72 per cent to Rs 284 crore for the quarter ending December 2012, due to high interest costs, forex fluctuation and tax provisions. 

The company's net profit stood at Rs 1,011 crore in the third quarter ended December 31, 2011, Bharti Airtel said in a statement. 

"The consolidated net income was impacted by higher depreciation and amortisation cost (Rs 316 crore), net interest costs (Rs 284 crore), forex fluctuation losses (Rs 261 crore) and tax provisions (Rs 109 crore). 

Shares of Bharti Airtel fell by 2.71 per cent to Rs 330.20 on the BSE in the early trade.
11:13  Man sentenced to death in rape case in UP:  A man was sentenced to death by a local court in Badaun, UP, for the rape and murder of a minor girl. 

Additional district judge S N Tripathi yesterday held Akhtar guilty and sentenced him to death.  The 32-year-old Akhtar had on April 4 last year lured the 13-year-old girl to a secluded place and raped her. He later killed her in Ujhani area.
10:53  10 Indian-American among 40 Intel science finalists:  Ten Indian-American school students have made it to the 40 finalists of the prestigious Intel Science Talent Search for the year 2013. These 40 students were selected from 300 semifinalists and more than 1,700 entrants to compete in Washington, DC from March 7-13 for $630,000 in awards, with the top winner receiving USD 100,000 from the Intel Foundation.

The 10 Indian-American students include the maximum three from California -- Paulomi Bhattacharya from Cupertino, Pavan Mehrotra from Simi Valley and Sahana Vasudevan from Palo Alto.

Two Indian-Americans are from Portland in Oregon -- Naomi Shah and Raghav Tripathi. The other five are Surya Bhupatiraju from Lexington in Massachusetts; Naethan Mundukur from Louisville in Kentucky; Akshay Padmanabha from Collierville in Tennessee; Raja Selvakumar from Alpharetta in Georgia; and Mayuri Sridhar from Kings Park in New York.
10:36  After RSS strategy session, BJP core team meets today :  The Bharatiya Janata Party's top leadership will meet today to follow up on Thursday's strategy meeting between key affiliates of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, according to NDTV.

This will be the first core group meeting after Rajnath Singh took over as party president last week.

Yesterday's meeting was described by leaders as routine. But, sources said, at the secretive meeting held at the Lodi Estate home of a Goa MP, the RSS brought together top leaders of the BJP and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad or VHP, to outline a roadmap for the general elections 2014, the report said.
09:49  Hit-and-run case: Salman to to be tried for culpable homicide :  Actor Salman Khan will be tried for culpable homicide not amounting to murder for a 2002 hit-and-run case, a court in Mumbai ruled today. If convicted, he could face ten years in jail, reports NDTV.

In 2002, Khan's SUV had rammed into a bakery in Mumbai killing one and injuring four persons asleep on the pavement outside. The trial in the case started in 2005.

Read the full story here
09:16  Dense fog in Delhi; air, road traffic hit :   Dense fog engulfed Delhi early today hitting road, rail and air traffic.

At domestic terminal 1D, 25 flights could not take off as scheduled. Two international flights heading for Delhi were delayed and four had to be diverted to other cities.

There were traffic snarls along key routes in the capital. Train services were also affected.
09:05  Kiran Bedi backs govt's new Lokpal draft :   Former Indian Police Service officer Kiran Bedi, who protested along with anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare for a strong Lokpal Bill, has come out in support of the new revised draft even as Anna Hazare and Aam Aadmi Party convener Arvind Kejriwal continued to oppose, reports CNN-IBN.

Bedi said the new draft addressed most of the concerns and these were baby steps towards improvement. "It is time to give up opposition and look ahead. This is quite a strong bill."

"The new draft has made some positive changes. It is a work in progress. The selection process of the CBI director is considerably strong."

The Union Cabinet on Thursday cleared a revised draft of the Lokpal Bill, allowing states to appoint Lokayuktas, but the contentious issue of the independence of the CBI remained unresolved.
08:57  SC to hear Ashis Nandy's plea against arrest today:  The Supreme Court will today hear sociologist Ashis Nandy's petition seeking protection from arrest for an alleged anti-Dalit remark he made at the Jaipur Literary Festival earlier this week.

Nandy has also urged the court to quash the FIR registered against him under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act.

At a panel discussion at the literary festival on January 26, Nandy had said, "Most corrupt people come from the Other Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes."
08:53  US will lead the 21st century: Clinton in last speech:  US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today took issue with critics who say US global power is waning, arguing in her final public speech in office that America will continue to lead the 21st century.

But on the day before she officially steps down, Clinton called for the nation's institutions and relationships to be modernised, saying what was needed was "a new architecture for this new world. More Frank Gehry than formal Greek." "Think of it," she urged an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations think-tank.

"Some of his work at first might appear haphazard, but in fact it's highly intentional and sophisticated. Where once a few strong columns could hold up the weight of the world, today we need a dynamic mix of materials and structures," she said.
08:36  14 killed in blast at Mexican state oil company HQ:  At least 14 people were killed and more than 80 were injured in Mexico City after an explosion at the headquarters of Mexico's state oil company, Pemex, reports BBC.

The cause of the blast is under investigation, Pemex said.

Police have cordoned off the streets around the building, which is located in a busy commercial area of Mexico City.

Read the full report here
08:33  'Vishwaroopam' row: Haasan-Jaya truce on cards? :   Kamal Haasan's Vishwaroopam may release soon in Tamil Nadu.

Government sources say that today in Chennai, the Home Secretary is likely to meet with Kamal Haasan and Muslim leaders  to decide what cuts should be made to the film. After the changes are made, the movie will be cleared for release, reports NDTV.

Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa said, "Out an amicable agreement, the government will do everything possible to facilitate that... and the deck will be cleared for screening the movie."

Meanwhile, in Mumbai the Hindi version of the film will hit the screen today. 
02:25  NRHM scam: Warrant against senior IAS officer:  A special CBI court today issued bailable warrant against senior IAS officer Pradeep Shukla after he failed to appear in the multi-crore NRHM scam case. 

Special Judge S Lal issued the warrant against Shukla yesterday. The counsel, appearing for the senior IAS officer, claimed that due to poor health his client was unable to appear before the court.

However, the court rejected his plea and fixed February 13 as the next date of hearing in the case. 

The agency had filed charge sheet against Shukla last month for his alleged involvement in the irregularities in upgrading of 89 district hospitals in the state, under the National Rural Health Mission scheme, causing a loss of Rs 16 crore to the exchequer.
01:52  Talwar's behaviour looked suspicious: Former SP:  Former Noida SP Mahesh Kumar Mishra told the special CBI court, hearing the double murder case of teenage girl Aarushi and domestic aide Hemraj, that he found the behaviour of Rajesh and Nupur Talwar "suspicious" when he reached their residence on the day of the crime.

Mishra, who appeared before the Special CBI Judge S Lal yesterday, said, "When I reached the Talwars' residence on May 16, 2008, I found their behaviour suspicious."

"Rajesh Talwar told me that he had locked Aarushi's room from outside on the fateful night (May 15) at 11:30 pm, and returned back to his room to sleep," said Mishra, adding, he thought this statement was important.

"I told about this statement to CBI, but I am not sure why they did not record it," the officer said.

"Rajesh also told me that he had forgotten to lock his bedroom and it was possible that someone stole the key," he told the court.
01:00  Judge to US govt: Stop censoring 9/11 hearings:  A military judge overseeing September 11 pre-trial hearings revealed today the government had censored them from outside the courtroom, and angrily ordered that this stop immediately.

The proceedings at the high-security, high-tech courtroom due to host the trial of five alleged plotters in America's worst terror attack are heard in the press gallery and in a room where human rights groups and victims' families sit, with a 40 second delay.

This is done so a court security officer, or CSO, sitting next to the judge can block anything deemed classified. The officer has two switches -- 'stop' and 'go' -- and spectators behind a thick glass window can see a red light go on when proceedings are in fact being silenced.
00:36  Body found that matches Phoenix gunman: Police:   AP reports: The police said today they had found a body that matches the description of the suspect in the latest US mass shooting that killed a man and critically wounded another.

The vehicle that 70-year-old suspect Arthur Douglas Harmon was likely driving was found in a parking lot in Arizona, and a body matching Harmon's description was found nearby with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, spokesman Sgt. Steve Martos said.

Harmon drew a gun and shot both men at the end of a mediation session last morning, police said. Steve Singer, 48, died hours later.

Lawyer Mark Hummels, 43, was in critical condition. A 32-year-old woman was shot and had non-life threatening injuries. Harmon also shot at someone who tried to follow him to get his license plate number, authorities said.
00:20  Denmark: Terror conviction upheld in massacre plot:  AP reports: A Danish appeals court has upheld the terror conviction and 12-year prison sentence of a Swedish citizen convicted of plotting a shooting spree against a newspaper that published a blasphemous caricature.

Munir Awad and three other men residing in Sweden were convicted by a lower court last year of planning an attack against the Copenhagen office of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

Danish authorities said they thwarted the attack when the men were arrested in late December 2010. The Ostre Landsret appeals court today upheld the judgment against Awad, the only defendant to appeal.

It wasn't immediately clear whether Awad would launch another appeal. Court spokesman Michael Lerche said Denmark's Supreme Court hears such appeals only in exceptional cases.
00:17  S African-Indian activist Amina Cachalia dies:  Amina Cachalia, a South African-Indian political activist and long-time friend of ex-President Nelson Mandela, died of age related illness at a hospital Johannesburg today.

She was 82. Cachalia, a recipient of 'Pravasi Bharatiya Samman', was elected as a lawmaker in South Africa's National Assembly in the first democratic elections of 1994.

Cachalia spent 15 years under house arrest, following three consecutive banning orders by the apartheid regime. During this period, she and her activist husband Yusuf Cachalia, who died in 1995, had to apply for special permission to see each other.
00:12  Top headlines of the last 24 hours:  
PAWAR SPEAKS: 170 seats enough for Cong to form next govt

Kargil was Pakistan army's biggest strategic blunder

Court issues summons against Kejriwal in defamation case

Mumbai: Coaching class owner arrested for molestation

55-day Amarnath yatra to start on June 28

SP mulls banning 'Vishwaroopam' in UP, BJP cries foul

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