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Iran shows footage 'extracted from US drone'

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February 07, 2013


23:18  Iran shows footage 'extracted from US drone':  Iran has long claimed it managed to reverse-engineer the RQ-170 Sentinel, seized in December 2011 after it entered Iranian airspace from its eastern border with Afghanistan, and that it's capable of launching its own production line for the unmanned aircraft.

After initially saying only that a drone had been lost near the Afghan-Iran border, American officials eventually confirmed the Sentinel had been monitoring Iran's military and nuclear facilities. Washington asked for it back but Iran refused, and instead released photos of Iranian officials studying the aircraft.

Read more here
23:16  Sanctions hurting Iran's access to capital: US report:  Western sanctions on Iran contributed to a drop in Iran's access to global sources of capital last year, the U.S. Treasury department said in a report to Congress.

Foreign banks cut their lending exposure to Iran by the equivalent of $9.1 billion in 2012, down 53 percent, said the report, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters on Thursday. The report, which cited information from the Bank of International Settlements, said broader international sanctions against Iran and other perceived weaknesses in the investment climate in Iran also contributed to the drop.
23:12  Panetta blames lack of intelligence for Benghazi attack:  Arguing that the Pentagon was prepared for a wide range of contingencies, the US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta today blamed the lack of "specific intelligence" for the inability to quickly respond to the terrorist attack at US Consulate in Libya last year. The September 11 terrorist attack on the Consulate in Libyan capital of Benghazi killed US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. 

"On that tragic day, as always, the Department of Defence was prepared for a wide range of contingencies'''' Unfortunately, there was no specific intelligence or indications of an imminent attack on US facilities in Benghazi.
22:38  Rail minister meets PM ahead of budget:  Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal today met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here and discussed broad contours of the Rail Budget for 2013-14. Bansal, accompanied by senior Railway Ministry officials, spent about half-an-hour with the Prime Minister and discussed modalities of the Budget besides measures to mobilise more resources for the Railways to fund its new projects. 

Sources close to the Railway Minister termed the meeting as "routine" ahead of the Railway Budget. The Minister will present the Rail Budget in Parliament on February 26.
22:37  Pussy Riot appeal conviction to European Court:  Lawyers for three members of the feminist punk group Pussy Riot have contested their convictions in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. 

The complaint filed yesterday alleges the group's conviction violates four articles of the European Convention on Human Rights guaranteeing freedom of speech, the right to liberty and security, the prohibition of torture and the right to a fair trial.
21:47  Take quick decision on Telangana: AP CM to Centre:  

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy today said he has requested the Centre to take a "quick decision" on the contentious Telangana statehood issue.        

 

Replying to questions about his recent trip to New Delhi, he said he had provided "necessary information" to the Centre on the statehood issue while interacting with the top central leadership, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.        

 

"We are trying to help the Centre with whatever information they want. All of us are requesting them to take a quick decision (on Telangana)," Kiran told reporters.        

 

He brushed aside as "media speculation" recent reports that he had suggested the constitution of a 'Territorial Administration' for Telangana.  

21:18  One more dies from swine flu in Ludhiana:  

One more person died of swine flu in Ludhiana, taking the number of total victims who died of the disease to seven in the city.        

 

Sunita Dogra died of the flu in the CMC Hospital here today.         Dr Subhash Batta, Civil Surgeon, Ludhiana, said out of seven victims, three were from Ludhiana, three from other parts of the state and one was from out of Punjab.        

 

Meanwhile, the tests of seven more cases of swine flu patients were reported positive today, he said.

19:43  EC removes Meghalaya police chief ahead of polls:  The Election Commission today removed Meghalaya police chief Kulbir Krishan following complaints against him in order to ensure free and fair state assembly polls on February 23.     

Krishan has been replaced by Prem Singh, a 1977 batch IPS officer of Assam-Meghalaya cadre.   

The Commission decided to change the state director general of police at its meeting chaired by Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath.
19:08  Girl gang raped in Delhi, culprits held after chase:  In yet another incident of crime against women, a 24-year-old young girl was allegedly gang raped by four persons, including one known to her, in a west Delhi locality. Police has arrested all the accused.

The victim was sexually assaulted on Wednesday night by the four persons after the girl had come to meet one of them who knew her for sometime now.

The incident came to light in the wee hours on Thursday when a PCR van stopped a vehicle with tinted glasses in Burari in north Delhi and found a girl and four men inside it.

Though the driver sped away to escape the police net, police chased and stopped the vehicle.

"The girl told us that she was gang raped by all the four men when she had gone to meet one of the persons whom she knew. She went to Swaroopnagar in west Delhi to meet the person but he took her to a nearby area where he and his friends sexually assaulted her," a police official said, adding that all the four accused were arrested immediately.
18:47  How Reliance Life Insurance mis-sold ULIPs worth Rs12 lakh:  How a standard 9th failed, retired railway employee took on Reliance Life Insurance -- and won. Read
18:32  The voices of enraged India:  Nilanjana Roy's blog on naked art. Read
18:23  Chhattisgarh border sealed to find chilli powder hijackers:  Police have sealed the borders of a district in Chhattisgarh as they hunt for armed men who hijacked a train to set free an accomplice. Read
18:21  Maldives democracy 'honeymoon' near end: President:  The president of the Maldives said the islands' "honeymoon with democracy" was coming to an end as the tourist paradise marked its first anniversary today of the toppling of his predecessor.

Mohamed Waheed, 60, who came to power after Mohamed Nasheed, the nation's first democratically-elected leader resigned following street protests and a police mutiny, said the Maldives had done better than other emerging democracies.

"Democracy is in its infancy (in the Maldives)," Waheed said in an e-mail interview with AFP. "Despite a few hiccups, I am very optimistic about our democratic future. "As our honeymoon with democracy nears its end... I am convinced that a new model for true democracy will glow from these islands."
18:04  Vishwaroopam, an American story:  As Vishwaroopam releases in Tamil Nadu today, Indian Express columnist Muzamil Jaleel, writes that while Kamal Haasan's freedom to tell a story the way he wants must be respected, there is a need to debate the responsibilities of the artist.  More
17:47  First person in the world gets convicted for killing Great White:  A South African fisherman has become the first person in the world to be convicted of killing a great white shark. Leon Bekker, of George, Western Cape, pleaded guilty to contravention of the Marine Living Resources Act which includes attempting to kill, disturb or be in possession of a white shark without a permit. Bekker pointed out that he had no idea about hooking a great white shark while fishing from the shore using a rod and line, the 'Daily Mail' reported. However, in a landmark decision Mossel Bay Magistrate's Court handed Bekker a fine of more than 8,550 pounds or a 12-month prison sentence.
17:43  Why throwing a shoe is incredibly offensive:  The shoe attack on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Egypt, the latest on a politician in the Middle East, causes many in West to ask: Why is throwing a shoe such a big deal? Read
17:31  The FIR was filed under 153 A of the IPC which deals with 'promoting hated between groups'.
17:30  FIR filed against hate-monger Praveen Togadia:  Just in: An FIR has been registered against VHP leader Praveen Togadia for his alleged "hate speech" in Nanded, Maharashtra. The FIR was filed by the Maharashtra police following direction from the Centre.
17:25  Zakia Jafri entitled to SIT report on 2002 Gulberg riots: SC:  The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that Zakia Jafri, wife of slain Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, was entitled to the entire Special Investigation Team (SIT) report barring comments of its chief into the Gulberg Society riots case of 2002 post-Godhra violence.

The apex court set aside two orders of an Ahmedabad court denying the materials relating to the probe to Zakia Jafri. The SIT had said that the 2002 case against Modi and 62 others should be closed.

Zakia Jafri's husband, Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, was burnt to death in the riots of 2002. On April 27, 2009, the apex court had asked the SIT to look into the complaint of Zakia allegedly blaming 63 people, including the chief minister, for inaction.
17:19  Pak minister Rehman Malik calls non-Muslims terrorists:  Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) minority MPA Saleem Khurshid Khokhar has moved an adjournment motion in the Sindh Assembly against Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who reportedly said that "non-Muslims are terrorists".

Khokhar said that Malik had told the National Assembly that terrorists have been asked to lay down their arms or declare themselves as "non-Muslims". Khokhar said that Malik's speech was "completely biased and against religious minorities", reports The Express Tribune.
17:16  Russia denies its fighter jets breached Japanese air space:  Reuters: Russia denied its fighter jets had entered Japanese air space on Thursday after Japan said it had scrambled combat fighters and lodged a protest over what it said was an intrusion near the northern island of Hokkaido.
17:05  BJP looks to Ayodhya to energize its base. Read
16:58  Kirandeep IBN7 tweets: RSS Chief MohanBhagwat- Deciding the PM candidate is not our job, its the BJP's prerogative.
16:54  Now, Stalin supporters throw slippers, stones at Khushboo:  Actress and DMK leader Khushboo today escaped unhurt when some unidentified persons threw stones and footwear at her while she was coming out of a hotel here, police said.

The miscreants shouted slogans, 'Khushboo is anti-DMK, anti-Stalin (party chief M Karunanidhi's son)' before fleeing the spot, police sources said. Khushboo was here to attend the wedding of DMK Rajya Sabha MP Tiruchi N Siva's daughter, where Karunanidhi and Stalin were also present. Speaking to reporters here, Khushboo said her house in Chennai was also attacked.

"I am in panic now since I got a telephonic message from my family that my house in Chennai has been attacked. I am worried about my children." The attack comes against the backdrop of her interview to a Tamil magazine in which she reportedly spoke about Stalin's elevation as heir-apparent. Karunanidhi had recently publicly acknowledged Stalin's rise in the party hierarchy.
16:39  FIR against hate-monger Togadia likely this evening:  An FIR is likely to be filed against VHP leader Praveen Togadia for his alleged "hate speech" in Nanded, Maharashtra, this evening. 

Maharashtra Minorities Affairs Minister Naseem Khan today demanded that the state government file a case against Togadia.

"I have spoken to the state Home Minister R R Patil today. He has ordered an inquiry (into Togadia's remarks)," Khan told PTI. "I have requested the state govt to register case against Togadia," he said.

"If (Akbaruddin) Owaisi is behind bars for his hate speech, why not Togadia?" the minister said. The VHP leader had triggered a controversy by making a controversial speech on February 1 near Adilabad in Andhra Pradesh.
16:36  Israeli PM's wife's fashion faux-pas sparks controversy:  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife Sara has caused a media storm by wearing a see-through lacy black dress at the swearing-in ceremony of the new lawmakers with critics rebuking her taste as "cheap and immodest".

Sara (54) turned up at the 19th Knesset (parliament) opening ceremony in a tight black see-through lace dress much to the disapproval of media.
16:15  Match-fix gangs set sights on Australia:  Police fear international match-fixing syndicates are grooming Australian sports stars as part of long-term plans to infiltrate local competitions. Read more
16:11  Hate-monger Owaisi's custody extended till Feb 12:  A court in Nizamabad district of Andhra Pradesh today extended till February 12 the judicial remand of MIM MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi in a "hate" speech case. Multiple cases have been registered against Akbaruddin for his alleged hate speeches delivered in Nizamabad on December 8 and at Nirmal town of Adilabad on December 22 last year.

On February 5, Nirmal police had got his voice recorded by Andhra Pradesh Forensic Science Laboratory experts. Akbaruddin, the MIM's floor leader in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, who is facing sedition charges for his alleged "hate speech," was arrested by Nirmal police from Gandhi Hospital here on January 8.
16:09  What is life? The physicist who sparked a revolution in biology:   Seventy years ago, on 5 February 1943, the Nobel prizewinning quantum physicist Erwin Schrodinger gave the first of three public lectures at Trinity College, Dublin. His topic was an unusual one for a physicist: "What is Life?" The following year the lectures were turned into a book of the same name. Read

And all that you wanted to know about Schrodinger's cat. Read
16:03  Love is a battlefield:  Are the Taliban using sex to fight America? Read what the Foreignpolicy.com  says. 
15:53  HC refuses to stay order increasing drinking age limit to 25:  The Bombay High Court today directed the Maharashtra government to file a reply to a PIL filed by actor Imran Khan and refused to grant a stay on a notification increasing legal age limit to consume liquor from 21 to 25 years.

A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice A V Mohta today said the matter requires consideration and hence it cannot grant stay on the September 2009 notification.

In September 2011, Imran Khan had approached the High Court challenging Maharashtra government's proposal to increase the legal age limit to consume liquor from 21 to 25 years.
15:45  CPI(M): Mamata's conduct befits a feudal empress:   CPI(M) leader Nilotpal Basu says West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee's conduct, threatening her security guards at the Kolkata Book Fair yesterday, was nothing short of 'despicable'. "The language she has used befits a feudal empress, not the chief minister of a state," said Basu.

Mamata Banerjee told her security guards they "should be whipped' as she walked a few paces and waited for her car at the Calcutta Book Fair gates last evening."Chabkano uchit apnader (you should be whipped),' she was heard screaming at K.K. Dwivedi, the special branch officer most often seen walking next to her.
15:38  The art of manufacturing outrage:  Prime-time hyperbole would have you believe that a threatening, passionate crowd of women have gathered outside the Delhi Art Gallery to protest against the exhibition, The Naked and the Nude. But talk to most of the protesters from Durga Vahini or Matri Shakti -- women's wing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) -- and a different picture emerges. More
15:32  Rail fares likely to be hiked again during Budget:  The Railways has plan to increase AC 3-tier, chair car and sleeper class fares to generate more revenues the paper stated.

The final decision will reportedly be taken by Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal following the annual general managers' meet on February 15.

Breaking away from the populism of his predecessors, including Lalu Prasad and Mamata Banerjee, Bansal, who was made the railway minister last October, had announced about 21% hike in passenger fares across-the-board last month.With an aim to mop up additional revenue of Rs. 6600 crore in a year railway fares were hiked after 10 years. -- Zee News
15:28  Rail fares likely to be hiked again during Budget:  CNN IBN: The Union Railway ministry may hike rail fares once again; the second round of hike could be part of the budget document on February 26.  
15:23  Winston Churchill manuscript reveals his poetic side:  Only known poem written by the adult Winston Churchill, now dismissed as 'heavy-footed', expected to fetch up to 15,000 at auction. Read
15:17  Khushbu's house stoned after anti-Stalin interview:  Tamil actor-politician Khusbhu's house was attacked this afternoon by a group of about 20 men who hurled stones at her windows. The police say the vandals belong to Khushbu's party, the DMK, and that the attack was in retaliation for a recent interview she gave; but the party has denied the charges. Recently, Khushbu, a DMK member, has reportedly upset a section of the DMK by her comments on how the party will pick its next chief.  Read
15:03  Singer Mika Singh gets bail:  Bollywood singer Mika Singh, who was arrested last night at the international airport here for allegedly carrying Indian and foreign currency beyond permissible limit, was today granted bail for Rs one lakh, Customs officials said.
14:59  Jeet Thayil on drug use in India:  Jeet Thayil last month at the Jaipur Literature Festival became the first Indian to win the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature for his debut novel "Narcopolis.' The book, which was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, is primarily set in 1970s Bombay, where it delves into the world of drugs. Read the interview on the WSJ
14:53  Emergency meet on swine flu in Delhi at 4 pm:  The Delhi health ministry has called an emergency meeting to tackle swine flu at 4 pm today. The deadly H1N1 influenza virus has returned to the capital city with 57 cases of swine flu registered and three deaths recorded so far, reports said. Health ministry has issued an advisory to all the hospitals in Delhi to follow the required protocol so as to ensure the availability of isolation wards and sufficient medicines for the treatment of swine flu.
14:51  Jemima Khan: My journey with Julian Assange :  Jemima Khan has warned Wikileaks founder Julian Assange that he risks falling from a "hero" to the Australian L Ron Hubbard, expecting his supporters to follow him "unquestioningly, in blinkered, cultish devotion". Also on the Independent. Read
14:48  A solar superstorm is coming, we'll only get 30-minute warning:  A solar superstorm is coming, we'll only get 30-minute warning. They cause devastation and occur every 150 years and the last one was in 1859. Read the report on the Independent. 
14:44  Cabinet feels Khurshid's absence as Pak demands LoC probe:  While external affairs minister Salman Khurshid was enjoying the view in Antarctica after his Latin America trip, his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar was trying to checkmate India diplomatically as she called for a probe into the recent incidents near the LoC by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. Read more
14:39  Antony frets over Pak in the Pacific, welcomes Chinese :   India expressed concern on Wednesday over Pakistan handing over its strategic Gwadar port to a Chinese company, which it views as part of Beijing's string of pearls policy to get a foothold in the Indian Ocean region.

Defence minister AK Antony conveyed his apprehension about China's growing influence in its neighbourhood at Aero India 2013 held in Bangalore. The show will run from February 6-10. Read more

Watch the beauties at the air show. On Rediff.com.
14:29  Copter row: Internal family matter of govt, says Antony:  Defence minister A.K. Antony yesterday objected to the public spat between the Union home ministry and the Indian Air Force over the January 18 shooting of a helicopter by Maoists in Chhattisgarh, calling it "an internal family matter of the government".

Antony's indignation had apparently been aroused after the contents of a letter from Union home secretary RK Singh to his counterpart in the defence ministry, Shashikant Sharma, was leaked on Tuesday.

The home secretary had sought clarifications after complaints from police in Chhattisgarh that the crew of the Mi-17 1V helicopter had abandoned the machine with an injured radio operator and a light machine gun and fled to safety. More
14:23  Jindal Steel, ArcelorMittal brass meet governor on delays :  Investors Inc., languishing for years in Jharkhand's volatile political climate, has now begun making a beeline to the state's new power centre and hoping for a positive rub-off from President's Rule. Read
14:19  Ibobi reaffirms territory stand :  Chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh is not prepared to accept any peace deal between the Centre and the NSCN (I-M) if it harms Manipur's interest and disturbs its territorial integrity. Read more
14:11  Preparing for a visitor from Paris:  French President Hollande is due to visit India on February 14. The Hindu opinion piece on how Hollande is very different from the ebullient Sarkozy, who was much admired in India, but as Mali has shown, he can take firm decisions in his own quiet way. Read
14:08  Withdraw VIP security, protect women instead: SC :  The Supreme Court has asked the Delhi police to consider withdrawing security for VIPs and using the personnel and the funds then available to bolster the security of women.

Amicus Curae Harish Salve tells the court that crores are being spent on VIP security which can be better used for the security of women which could go a long way in preventing cases like the Delhi gang rape. The court has asks states to file a reply on VIP security by February 11.
13:59  Oz to ban kids from blowing out candles on cake:  The iconic tradition of blowing out candles on birthday cakes may soon be passe - at least for Aussie kids! Australian children are to be banned from blowing out candles together on birthday cakes - because they could be puffing germs onto one another. In what is seen as an attempt to "bubble wrap" children, youngsters attending birthday parties will be told to take along individual cup cakes on which to place single candles.

Australian doctors have warned the strict new hygiene guidelines for childcare, by National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), go too far, 'News.com.au' reported.
13:55  GDP to grow at 5% in 2012-13, lowest in 10 years:  India's economic growth rate this fiscal is estimated to be sharply lower at 5 per cent, lowest in a decade, on account of poor performance of manufacturing, agriculture and services sector. This estimate by CSO is drastically lower than what has been projected thus far by the government and RBI. More
13:46  Child sex abuse shielded by silence: Human Rights Watch:  The Indian government should improve protections for children from sexual abuse as part of broader reform efforts following the gang rape and murder of a student in New Delhi in December 2012, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. Read the report.
13:41  RSS chief backs VHP's resolution for building Ram temple:  RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat today backed VHP's resolution for building a Ram temple in Ayodhya, saying its construction is like establishing the "Indian identity".

"I have said that construction of the temple is like a movement to establish the country's self identity. It is an identity of our country and we have to establish it," he said speaking to reporters at the Kumbh Mela here.

The VHP has demanded that a bill be introduced in the Monsoon Session of Parliament so that Ram Janambhoomi land could be handed over to the Shri Ram Janambhoomi Nyas for construction of the Ram temple. It adopted a resolution at the central advisory committee meeting yesterday asking the government in this regard failing which the "Hindu samaj will be compelled to launch a massive agitation".
13:38  I feel like I'm home when I come to Amethi: Rahul:  Rahul Gandhi, who made his first public appearance in his parliamentary constituency Amethi today after becoming the vice-president of the Congress Party, said that the youth of the country need to be employed properly.
 
Gandhi said he was aware of the fact that the youth in Amethi have a lot of problems. "There is lack of employment opportunities. And in particular, the development that should take place in Uttar Pradesh is not there and the youth here are given enough employment opportunities. The Government in Delhi (UPA Government) is yours and it is our endeavour to take this nation forward," he added, while hitting out at the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party (SP) Government in Uttar Pradesh.
 
Addressing the gathering here amid slogans of ''yuvaon ne thana hai, Rahul ko PM banana hai'' (Youth have resolved to make Rahul the Prime Minister), Gandhi said the progress and development of the people of Uttar Pradesh and in particular those of Amethi is there is his heart and mind.
 
" I have to travel in the whole country, but when I come to Amethi it feels like I have come home. Amethi is my family and home. So, I feel extremely delighted when I come here. I know the youth here have a lot of problems," he added.
13:34  Narendra Modi is my friend: RSS chief:  RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat today described Narendra Modi as his "friend" but side-stepped queries on the possible projection of the Gujarat Chief Minister as BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate.

"He is my friend", said Bhagwat when asked by reporters what he thought of Modi. However, when asked whether he supported the demand for projecting the Gujarat Chief Minister as the Prime Ministerial candidate, the RSS chief said, "I am not a political person.....I am not here on a political visit".
13:12  Karnataka polls likely on May 20, 23; counting 27th:  The two-phase Karnataka polls are likely to take place on May 20 and 23, while counting is likely on May 27. The term of present Assembly is till June 3.

The dates are still tentative because the Election Commission has only informally discussed the poll schedule for Karnataka, but officially the full bench of the EC is likely to meet in first week of March. Which means the schedule may be announced on by March 10.

The Chief Electoral Officer of Karnataka in his presentation to the Deputy Election Commissioner in Delhi, is believed to have stated a pending case in the Supreme Court on the state civic polls, which may come up for hearing now.

To hold polls, the other parameters to be considered are the rains, festivals and school examinations. It is only then that the available window was settled at May 20th onwards. But an informed source said there was a possibility of another window in the last week of May, but the process had to be completed before the end of May.
13:02  Indian banks feel the heat:  Indian banks' non-performing assets are on the rise. What this means is that the  sector is feeling the effects of slowing economic growth, a tight monetary policy regime, and the stalling of big-ticket investments. Read
12:58  Women dumped in field after sterilisation in Bengal:  In a shocking case, at least 100 women who underwent ligation procedure at a sterilisation camp at a rural health centre in Malda district, West Bengal, were abandoned in an open field adjacent to the facility.

The Manikchak Rural Health Centre in Malda district, where the surgical procedure was carried out yesterday, was bereft of any minimal infrastructure required for the operation, attending nurses and health workers under NRHM alleged while narrating the incident to reporters.

The semi-conscious women, many of whom belong to a minority community, were dumped casually in the most unhygienic condition onto the field under the open sky as onlookers cast curious gaze, the nurses alleged.

Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee hasn't yet said sajano golpo (made-up stories) as she did in the Park Street rape case.
12:51  My fate is in hands of God, not America: Hafiz Saeed:  Ten million dollars does not seem to buy much in this bustling Pakistani city. That is the sum the United States is offering for help in convicting Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, perhaps the country's best-known jihadi leader. Yet Mr. Saeed lives an open, and apparently fearless, life in a middle-class neighborhood here. Read the report on the NYT.
12:43  'Indian govt has failed to prevent sexual abuse of children':  Indias government has failed to curb the rampant sexual abuse of children, especially in schools and state-run child care facilities, a rights group said Thursday.

Human Rights Watch cited in its report the recent fatal gang-rape of a young woman on a New Delhi bus in December, an attack the shook the conscience of the nation and forced people to introspect on the way women are treated in India. Read the report on the Washington Post. 
12:36  Zardari's new, bulletproof home ready to move in:  A sprawling private residence for President Asif Ali Zardari, complete with a runway for small jets and bulletproof building, is nearing completion in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore.

The compound in Bahria Town, spreading over some 200 kanals, is named Bilawal House after Zardari's son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. According to a senior Pakistan Peoples Party official from Punjab, who did not want to be named, the residence has been gifted to Zardari by property tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain.

The bulletproof home is surrounded by lawns that can accommodate up to 10,000 people and has a runway for private jets.
12:20  'Shobhaa De can't be taken seriously, writes soft porn' :  Globally celebrated author Reginald Massey, Monday, questioned writer Shobhaa De's credentials as a literary person, saying she should not be taken seriously as she wrote "soft pornography which titillates".

Massey, speaking as a guest at the Taj Literature Festival at the St John's College, Agra, told a huge gathering that "she (Shobhaa De) doesn't have a style like Dickens or Jane Austen...She need not be taken seriously."  Read
12:14  50 lashes for selling to mahadalits:  Even as Mamata Banerjee threatened to whip her security guards, a panchayat in east Bihars Kishanganj district is in the eye of storm for allegedly ordering the socio-economic boycott of mahadalits a special category created by the Nitish Kumar government comprising the poorest among dalits.

Under the diktat issued on Saturday by the Deshiatoli panchayat shopkeepers have been barred from selling goods to mahadalits. Villagers have been asked not to employ them. Anyone flouting the order faces a fine of Rs 25,000 and 50 lashes. More
12:11  Monopoly fans replace iron token with cat:  Sheer nostalgia, this. Fans of the iconic game Monopoly have retired iron as a token and have replaced it with a cat, toy maker Hasbro Inc. announced on Wednesday.

The results were announced after the shoe, wheelbarrow and iron were neck and neck for elimination in the final hours of voting, which sparked passionate efforts by fans to save their favourite pieces, and by businesses eager to capitalize on publicity surrounding tokens that represent their products, the New York Daily News reported.

The voting on Facebook closed just before midnight on Tuesday, marking the first time that fans have had a say on the replacement of the token.

Other pieces that fought for a place on the game included a robot, diamond ring, helicopter and a guitar. Fans from more than 120 countries took part in the voting. The new Monopoly with the latest token will come out later this year.
12:08  Babri case: SC pulls up CBI for delay in filing appeal:  The Supreme Court questions the CBI for its delay in filing an appeal against the Allahabad High Court verdict on the dropping of conspiracy charges against senior BJP leader LK Advani and others in the Babri Masjid case. The SC also turns down the CBI's plea to file a fresh affidavit in the case.
11:54  Armys stand makes it hard to amend AFSPA: Chidambaram:  Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Wednesday stressed the need for making the controversial Armed Forces (Special Power) Act (AFSPA) a more "humanitarian' law, but said the Union government could not move forward as there was "no consensus' between it and the Army on the issue. Read

Also see: Govt rejects Verma panels recommendations on AFSPA review
11:47  Sorry, you've got the wrong guy: Zeenat Aman:  The truth behind Zeenat Aman's secret boyfriend. Subhash K Jha reports:

"Zeenat has found A-man. But it's not the one that a section of the media has dug up.Ever since glamour diva Zeenat Aman made it known that there was a man in her life curiosity about the lucky gentleman's identity has touched the sky.

Some enterprising television channels sprang up  the name of the 35-year old Shiv Sena member and  real-estate dealer Sarfaraz Ahsan Ahmed as the man Zeenat is all set to marry ...and the lucky Mr Ahmed suddenly became a celebrity in his own 'rite'.

When I spoke to Zeenat she was laughing so hard she could barely speak. "They got the wrong guy. This is not the man in my life at all. This gentleman that a section  of the media has made into the man in my life is someone I've known over the years. He  is part of the Shiv Sena. I met him when I attended a couple of Shiv Sena events. I've known him through his association with Bala Saheb."

The story that links her to the Shiv Sena worker.
11:38  Akhilesh to add 10 new ministers, swearing-in at 12:  UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav will expand his cabinet today. Ten new ministers are likely to be added to the 47-member council of ministers. The swearing-in is at noon. 
11:33  Karnataka told to release 2.44 TMC Cauvery water to TN:  The Supreme Court directs Karnataka to release 2.44 TMC Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu immediately. 

The court was hearing Tamil Nadus petition seeking immediate release of 12 TMC of water.

Tamil Nadu claims that failure by its neighbour state to release water has resulted in damage to its standing crops.

Last month, the Cauvery Monitoring Committee had said that since current storage level in Karnataka was sufficient only to meet the states drinking water requirements, it was not in a position to release water to Tamil Nadu.

The Cauvery River originates in Karnataka and meanders its way over almost 800 km in Tamil Nadu. The topography of the region means that Karnataka can control how much water is released downstream to Tamil Nadu.
11:30  Why the intellectual is on the run:  Thanks to manufactured debates on TV, there is no time for irony and nuance nor are we able to distinguish between a charlatan and an academician. Read.
That's Harish Khare's piece on the Hindu. Khare was the  former media adviser to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Read
11:26  Unity hurdle cramps Cong in three states:  From the Telegraph: The good intentions and lofty ideals that dominated the Jaipur conclave and Rahul Gandhi's subsequent meetings with Congress office-bearers might have lifted the morale in the party but it will take more than rhetoric for the change to reflect on the ground.

For all the stress on internal unity at these meetings, top leaders concede that factionalism poses the main difficulty in choosing the face of the Congress in election-bound Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh. Read
11:19  How the CIA globalised torture:   Must read: A new report, which provides unprecedented detail about the reach of the CIA's rendition program and the collaboration of 54 foreign governments. The secret detention program and the extraordinary rendition program were highly classified, conducted outside the United States, and designed to place detainee interrogations beyond the reach of the law. Torture was a hallmark of both. Read

Incidentally, the writer, Amrit Singh, is PM Dr Manmohan Singh's daughter. Rajdeep Sardesai tweets that Christiane Amanpour has interviewed Amrit Singh on her path breaking report on CIA torture centres.
11:10  Foreigner raped by friend in Delhi:  And the rapes continue unabated... A 23-year-old foreign national was allegedly raped by her Indian friend at Hauz Khas in south Delhi on Monday night, after the two had attended a party. The accused, Tariq Sheikh, 28, a management graduate who works as a party organizer, has been arrested and the girl's embassy informed about the assault. More
11:03  Childhood interrupted:  The case of the juvenile offender in the Delhi gang rape is a wake-up call for investing more in a protection scheme that will stop children from turning to crime. Read the opinion piece on the Hindu. 
11:02  From Standard to Poor:  Also on the Hindu: All those associated with the sub-prime loans scandal that led to the global financial crisis of 2008 have paid the price one way or another. Banks and financial institutions have taken large write-offs on their balance-sheets, causing valuations to fall. Investment banks either went belly up or accepted ignominious lifelines from healthier peers. Read
10:59  Preparing for a visitor from Paris:  French President Francois Hollande, accompanied by his journalist-partner Valerie Trierweiler, several senior ministers and an impressive business delegation arrives in New Delhi on February 14, Valentine's Day, for a two-day state visit that will take him to the Capital and Mumbai.
Read the opinion piece on the Hindu.
10:57  Kerala assembly adjourned:  Just in: The LDF stalls proceedings in Kerala Assembly over police action against women MLAs demanding re-investigation of charges against P J Kurien in Suryanelli gang-rape case.
10:51  Israels Stunner emerges on Indias radar:  Also on the Telegraph: Behind Israel's Iron Dome for India is a Stunner in the works.Israel, India's furtive defence supplier that both countries keep shrouded behind layers of confidentiality, has outed itself in the Aero India 9th edition in Bangalore. More
10:47  Car late, Mamata tells security guards: You should be whipped:  This is what the Telegraph, Calcutta, has on the Mamata Banerjee story:

Mamata Banerjee told her security guards they "should be whipped' as she walked a few paces and waited for her car at the Calcutta Book Fair gates this evening."Chabkano uchit apnader (you should be whipped),' she was heard screaming at K.K. Dwivedi, the special branch officer most often seen walking next to her. More
10:42  Mamata screams at guard, threatens to whip him:  Yet another instance that Mamata Banerjee needs immediate enrollment in an anger management workshop. 

There was a security scare during the West Bengal chief minister's visit to the Kolkata Book Fair on Wednesday evening when she exited via the wrong gate, putting her guards on the tenterhooks.

The CM was very upset at not finding her car and shouted at her security officers. Sources say she walked out of Gate No 3, expecting to find the car she had left at Gate No 1.

A senior officer hinted that the CM's "unscheduled movement" gave no time to police to place her car in the changed location as it is difficult to move through the massive crowds and traffic jams. More
10:35  Rahul's first visit to Amethi as Congress Vice President:  Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi will undertake a two-day tour of his parliamentary constituency Amethi beginning today.

It will be his first visit to his constituency after taking over as the Congress Vice President. Gandhi (42) is scheduled to meet senior party functionaries and leaders in the area during his visit. He will also lay the foundation of some development works in the area.
10:33  Three arrested for FB abuse of J-K girl band:  Another youth has been arrested in connection with the online abuses and threats to the all-girl rock band of Kashmir, which forced them to quit singing. Irshad Ahmad Chara was arrested late last night by the police, who was raiding different places to apprehend him. Tariq Khan and Rameez Shah were also arrested from Ganderbal in central Kashmir last night, police sources said.
10:17  NTPC stake sale begins on bourses; scrip falls 2 pc:  
Shares of NTPC slid as much as two per cent on the BSE in the early trade on Thursday as the government's 9.5 per cent stake sale of country's largest power producer commenced on the bourses. 

The floor or the minimum offer price for state-run power utility NTPC's share sale has been set at Rs 145 apiece, which is a 4.5 per cent discount to its Wednesday's close. 

On the BSE, NTPC scrip hit a low of Rs 149.10, down 2.10 per cent over previous close, soon after the start of market hours. It continued to trade in the range of Rs 149-150.80 in the early hours.

The scrip has slid nearly 4 per cent since Tuesday, when the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) decided on the floor price of the stake auction. 

At the floor price of Rs 145, NTPC stake sale could garner over Rs 11,300 crore to the exchequer, making it the biggest disinvestment so far this fiscal. 

The government proposes to sell 78.32 crore shares or 9.5 per cent stake in the country's largest power producer through offer for sale (OFS) route. 

Till 0949 hours, bids came in for over 1.16 crore shares, at the indicative price, which is the weighted average price of all vaild bids, of Rs 147.49 apiece, as per data available on the National Stock Exchange.
10:15  Blame unclean breasts for diarrhoea: Egyptian PM:  
Egypt Prime Minister Hisham Qandil has caused an outrage after blaming a diarrhoea epidemic sweeping through rural areas on women not keeping their breasts clean.

Qandil said that he had witnessed children suffering from diarrhoea immediately after they had been breastfed because their mothers hadn't cleaned themselves probably, the Daily Mail reported.

He added that many women in rural Egypt don't even bother to clean their breasts at all before feeding their youngsters.

Qandil was speaking about the spate of recent epidemics in Egypt's rural communities during an address at a cabinet meeting.

Women members present were noticeably uncomfortable as Qandil made the comments, according to an online report from International Business Times.
10:10  Delhi to host literature festival:  
National capital New Delhi is all set to host its very own literature festival later this week featuring book launches, interaction with authors as well as a music show.

Coming close on the heels of the Jaipur Literature Festival, the two-day literary event beginning February 9 will host 10 sessions on different themes at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts.

"This is more like a curtain raiser. We plan to go all out in 2014 with a four-day long event," said Supriya Suri, artistic director of Cinedarbaar Welfare Society, the organisation that is behind the conceptualisation of this event.

Prominent names like Advaita Kala and Arunava Sinha lead the list of 35 authors who will form a part of the event.

"There is no prior registration for this. Anyone who wants to join is welcome to just walk in," Suri said.
09:40  Sensex down 65 points in early trade:  
The BSE benchmark Sensex on Thursday declined by 65 points in early trade on sustained selling by funds amid a weakening trend on other Asian bourses. 

The 30-share barometer fell by 64.99 points, or 0.33 per cent, to 19,574.73 in first five minutes of trading. The index had lost almost 366 points in past five sessions. 

Stocks of power, capital goods, metal, consumer durable and banking sectors declined due to profit-booking. 

Similarly, the wide-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty fell by 22.75 points, or 0.38 per cent, to 5,936.45. 

Brokers said sustained selling by funds amid weakening trend on other Asian bourses mainly influenced the trading sentiment.
09:33  Hafiz Saeed takes less militant tone in Pakistan:  
For all his apparent ease, Lashkar-e-Tayiba founder Hafiz Saeed has to walk a tightrope of sorts within the jihadi firmament.

His support of the state puts him at odds with the Pakistani Taliban, which, he claims, are secretly supported by America and India -- a familiar refrain in the right-wing media. 

But that position leaves Saeed vulnerable to pressure from fighters within his own ranks who may still have Taliban sympathies. 

Western security officials say Lashkar has already suffered some defections in recent years.

Click HERE to read
09:20  Kamal Haasan's Vishwaroopam to release in TN today:  
Kamal Haasan's spy-thriller Vishwaroopam will finally release in theatres across Tamil Nadu today.

Last week, the state government brokered a compromise with leaders of several Muslim groups who were offended by the portrayal of their community in the Rs 95-crore film. The truce was reached after the actor-producer agreed to edit out the audio for seven scenes. 

Tamil Nadu government had banned the film on January 22, two days before its scheduled release in 524 theatres. 

A judge of the Madras High Court who said that the ban should be lifted was over-ruled by two others the next day. 

Defending her government's decision Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa said the ban was necessary to maintain law and order, but offered that her government would help mediate negotiations between Muslim groups and the actor. 

After six hours of talks on Saturday, actor Kamal Haasan, who insists that his movie is "Muslim-friendly", agreed that the audio would be removed in seven contentious scenes. He also agreed to withdraw a petition in the Madras high court challenging the government's ban.
09:19  NTPC stake auction today, share price at Rs 145:  
Government has fixed the base price at Rs 145 per share for 9.5 percent stake sale in NTPC, a discount of 4.79 percent, to garner over Rs 11,300 crore for the exchequer.

The government proposes to sell 78.32 crore shares or 9.5 percent stake in the country's largest power producer through offer for sale (OFS) route. The auction would take place on Thursday.

Shares of NTPC on Wednesday closed at Rs 152.30, down 2.12 percent from its previous close on BSE.

The NTPC disinvestment, which would be the biggest so far this fiscal, would help the government garner over Rs 11,300 crore at the floor price.

In a filing to BSE, NTPC said "the floor price for the sale in terms of the Sebi OFS circular shall be Rs 145 per equity share of NTPC (the Floor Price)".

The Empowered Group of Ministers, headed by Finance Minister P Chidambaram, had earlier decided on the floor price and date of the share sale. The pricing was, however, revealed only after close of market hours on Wednesday.
09:03  Singer Mika Singh arrested at Mumbai airport, released on bail:  
Bollywood singer Mika Singh was arrested at the international airport in Mumbai for allegedly carrying Indian and foreign currency beyond permissible limit, customs officials said on Wednesday night. He was later released on bail, according to the latest reports.

Singh, who arrived here from Bangkok by a private airline around 7.30 pm, was intercepted by the officials.

During checking, he was found in possession of $12,000 and Rs 3 lakh in cash, a senior Customs official said.

As per Customs norms, Indian passengers coming from abroad and carrying over Rs 7,500 and $5,000 need to make declaration about the same upon arrival, he said.

The 35-year-old singer was unable to give satisfactory answers about the currency in his possession, the official said, adding his statement has been recorded.
08:57  Sonia Gandhi to visit Nagaland today:  
Congress President Sonia Gandhi will visit Nagaland today to campaign for the February 23 assembly elections in the state.

She will address two public meetings at Mokokchung and Dimapur districts, Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) General Secretary (Admn) Medokul Sophie said.

As part of the campaigning, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and AICC vice president Rahul Gandhi will also address public rallies in Kohima, Mon and Tuensang districts tentatively on February 9 and 14, he said.

Other central leaders, including Sushil Kumar Shinde and A K Anthony, were also likely to address rallies in the
state in the coming days, he said.

The Congress has been in opposition in Nagaland since 2003.
08:56  Bhutan PM to arrive in India today:  
In a sign of deepening bilateral ties, Bhutan Prime Minister Jigmi Y Thinley will arrive in New Delhi on Thursday on a three-day visit during which he will hold talks with the top leadership on hydro-electric projects among other issues.

"The Prime Minister is being accompanied by Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuk, Minister in-charge of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Economic Affairs and Foreign Secretary Yeshey Dorji and other officials from the Royal Government of Bhutan," a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs said.

Thinley will call on the President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice-President Hamid Ansari.

He will also meet with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram.

Thinley's visit comes just days after Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck had visited the country. The King was the chief guest at this year's Republic Day parade. 
08:54  Centre to decide on what to do with excess wheat in gowdowns:  
The government may discuss today steps to dispose wheat from FCI godowns to make room for new stock which is expected to arrive from April.

"The stock position is very good. In fact, there is too much stock. I think Cabinet is going to consider tomorrow ways to dispose certain wheat and make warehouses available for new crop," Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had told reporters on Wednesday.

The food ministry is planning ways to vacate warehouses to accommodate new wheat crop (which expected to arrive from April onwards), he said. 

The storage problem may continue this year as well as total foodgrain production is expected to be minimum 250 million tonnes.
08:51  4 dead in fiery highway pile-up in US:  
More than two dozen cars, pickup trucks and tractor-trailers collided in a fiery pileup on a foggy highway in the US state of Georgia, killing at least four people and sending nine others to a hospital, officials said.

Work crews on Interstate 16 were still clearing charred and twisted wreckage from the crash scene, which covered nearly a half-kilometer of the roadway, nearly six hours after the chain of crashes occurred. 

Crews initially reported three deaths before finding another person dead in the wreckage later on Wednesday.

The Georgia State Patrol was still trying to piece together what started the series of wrecks involving 27 vehicles. Capt Kirk McGlamery said even drivers who dodged to the side of cars crashing in front of them weren't safe from getting rear-ended off the highway's shoulder.
04:27  Protests in Cairo over Iranian Prez's visit:  Scores of Egyptians and Syrians have protested outside the Iranian Embassy in the capital city over President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's historic visit to the country to participate in the summit of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. The protesters held demonstrations outside the embassy yesterday over the Iranian President's visit to the country, the first since the Iranian revolution in 1979. 

"The Muslim Brotherhood and President Mohamed Morsy should not have met with him," said Yehia al-Sherbiny, the coordinator of the Muslim Rebels Movement, who also threatened to use any means to prevent Shia ideologies from taking over.
03:47  Tunisia to shake-up government after assassination:  Shaken by the assassination of a prominent leftist opposition leader that unleashed major protests, Tunisia's prime minister announced Wednesday that he would form a new government of technocrats to guide the country to elections "as soon as possible.

"The decision by Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali was a clear concession to the opposition, which has long demanded a reshuffle of the Islamist-dominated government. It also came hours after the first assassination of a political leader in post-revolutionary Tunisia.

Read more
02:27  Four dead in attacks on Iraq security forces:  Attacks targeting security forces across Iraq today left three policemen and an army officer dead, officials said. The violence took the death toll since Sunday to 72, indicating a spike in attacks amid a political crisis pitting Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki against his government partners as weeks of rallies have called for his ouster. 

Two policemen were shot dead and three others wounded by gunmen at a checkpoint in the town of Mussayib, south of Baghdad, while one police officer was killed and another hurt by gunfire in the main northern city of Mosul.
02:23  3 dead as under-construction bridge collapses in Mumbai:  Three persons were killed tonight while several others injured after a portion of an under-construction bridge collapsed near the international airport here, officials said. 

The injured were admitted to Cooper Hospital and Desai Hospital, they said. Eight fire tenders and four ambulances have been rushed to the spot and rescue operations are underway, they said. 

The officials said that those trapped beneath the debris are mostly workers. The reason behind the collapse was being probed, they said. 
01:44  Kerry reiterates commitment to India-US strategic dialogue:  The new US Secretary of State, John Kerry has reaffirmed his commitment to continuing and strengthening the India-US Strategic Dialogue, his spokesperson said today. 

Kerry, who was sworn in as the Secretary of State last Friday replacing Hillary Clinton as the top American diplomat reiterated his commitment to India-US ties during his introductory phone call to External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, yesterday.
01:13  Mali: France seeks UN peacekeeping role:  French forces were deployed nearly a month ago to combat al-Qaeda-linked militants who had taken over Mali's desert northern regions.

But Paris says it wants to begin pulling out its 4,000 troops in March.It wants planning for a transition to begin now so a handover can be completed in April.

"From the moment that security is assured, we can envisage without changing the structures that it can be placed under the framework of UN peacekeeping operations," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.
01:12  US has drone base in Saudi Arabia: Reports:  The CIA used a secret drone base in Saudi Arabia to launch the September 2011 strike that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a high-profile American member of al Qaeda, according to reports.

The purported existence of the drone base in the Middle Eastern nation was revealed in a pair of reports by The New York Times and The Washington Post today, a day before John Brennan, the chief architect of the Obama administration's counter-terror policy, faces Congressional leaders in a confirmation hearing over his nomination as head of the CIA.
01:11  Heavy clashes frighten residents in Syria capital:  Syrian rebels and regime forces fought their most intense clashes in weeks inside the heavily guarded capital of Damascus on Wednesday, activists said, with the sounds of shell blasts echoing through the downtown area and keeping many children home from school while residents hid in their houses.

The opposition fighters blasted army checkpoints with rifles and anti-aircraft guns while government forces shelled the eastern and southern suburbs, trying to repel a new insurgent effort to push the civil war into the heart of the capital, the anti-regime activists said.
00:19  Hezbollah dismisses claims of Bulgaria bomb blast:  Lebanon's Shi'ite militant Hezbollah group has dismissed Bulgaria's claim that is was behind last year's bomb attack that killed five Israeli tourists.

Hezbollah Deputy Leader Naim Qassem said the accusations were part of a smear campaign waged by Israel after it failed to defeat the group militarily.

On Tuesday, the Bulgarian government said that two Hezbollah operatives were among the three men responsible for the July 18 bombing of a tour bus at the Black Sea town of Burgas.
00:17  Top headlines in the past 24 hours:  
Drone strikes are legal, ethical and wise: White House

Kejriwal, Bhushan to start 'non-profit, public service' TV channel

Rains, snowfall wreak havoc in north Pak; 40 killed

Suryanelli rape case: Karat demands Kurien's resignation

Jail is not new for me: Asaduddin Owaisi

ANALYSIS: In Delhi, the first round goes to Narendra Modi

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