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4 killed in US drone attack in northwest Pakistan

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February 08, 2013

23:42  China refutes Japan's allegations on radar targeting:  China on Friday refuted Japan's allegations that Chinese warships targeted fire-control radars at Japanese vessels in the East China Sea.

"Recently, Japan has repeatedly spread false accusations that have distorted facts and defamed Chinese military's normal combat readiness training," according to a statement issued by the information office of the Chinese Ministry of National Defense.

The statement was issued responding to Japanese media reports that Japan's defense ministry said Tuesday that a frigate of the Chinese navy directed its fire-control radar at a destroyer of the Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) in the East China Sea at around 10 a.m. on Jan. 30.The Japanese side also said that a Chinese frigate was suspected of locking a similar radar on a MSDF helicopter on Jan. 19 in the East China Sea.
23:02  Congress takes potshot at Trinamool on vandalism incident:  In the wake of police lodging FIRs against party workers in West Bengal, Congress today took potshot at Mamata Banerjee-led state government saying vandalism is seen from different angles by the TMC as it feels that only other political parties resort to unruly scenes. 

"What is the definition of vandalism in West Bengal? I am a little confused. Does it mean dubbing people as Maoists or beating up police in the police station or banning the media?" Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhary told reporters. Chowdhary said there seems to be a "mix-up" on what should be termed as "vandalism" in West Bengal.
22:52  4 killed in US drone attack in northwest Pakistan:  A US drone targeted a compound in the restive Waziristan tribal region of northwest Pakistan today, killing at least four suspected militants. The CIA-operated spy plane fired two missiles at the compound in Babar Ghar village located along the boundary between North and South Waziristan. 

Several persons were injured in the attack, officials were quoted as saying by TV news channels. State-run Radio Pakistan reported four persons were killed in the drone strike. The region where the strike was carried out is a stronghold of Taliban and Al Qaeda elements.
22:42  South Africans called to arms over raped teenager:  The chime sounds every four minutes on the radio station, reminding listeners that statistically yet another child or woman in South Africa is being raped. It's also a call to arms for citizens outraged over the gang-rape of a teenager who had her body carved open and was left for dead on a construction site. 

While India agonises with its high prevalence of rape because of a fatal attack on a young woman on a bus, South Africans are now becoming galvanised by the attack on the teenager in a small town. Civil society and governments in both countries are saying this must stop.
22:40  Guj Cong slams Modi for 'misguiding' people:  Congress today said that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was "misguiding" the country by giving "false and far from the true" data about the state. GPCC president Arjun Modhwadia, while addressing reporters here today, compared Gujarat with Haryana on 38 different parameters and claimed that the former's performance was far worse than Haryana and also alleged that Modi has projected a "false and rosy" picture of the state. 

Referring to Modi's recent speech in New Delhi, he said, "If you compare the vital development parameters of the two states, it is clear that Modi, while addressing those 1,800 college students, had presented totally irresponsible, false and far from the truth data to misguide people."
21:06  Pakistan: 12 killed in blast in DVD shop:  

A powerful bomb went off in a shop selling DVDs and mobile phones in the restive Orakzai tribal region of northwest Pakistan today, killing at least 12 people and injuring over 20 others, officials said.        


The bomb exploded in the shop in a market in Kalaya, the main town of Orakzai Agency, officials of the local political administration said. Initial reports had said the bomb went off near a security check post. Some officials said the attack targeted a group of Ferozkhel tribesmen who are opposed to the Taliban.        


The tribesmen had gathered in the area after Friday prayers. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. In the past, the Taliban have targeted shops selling music and movies, which they have declared "un-Islamic".         The injured were taken to nearby hospitals. Two shops were destroyed by the blast while several more were damaged.

20:52  Teacher arrested for alleged rape in Kadapa:  

A school teacher was today arrested on the charge of raping a 14-year-old girl student in Pullampeta village of Andhra Pradesh's Kadapa district, police said.    


The accused, Nageshwar Rao, had been harassing the class-IX student of the government school for the past three months and recently raped her in his house, according to the police.         


The girl told her parents about the incident yesterday, following which the complaint was filed with Rajampet Rural Police station.         


Local residents thrashed the teacher before police took him into custody. The accused has been suspended from service.

20:44  SP govt in UP failed to keep promises: Rahul:  

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi today accused the Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh of not fulfilling its poll promises and regretted that he was not able to do enough for the state as it did not have a Congress government.    


"The Samajwadi Party which came to power making tall promises failed to fulfil them," he said during his road shows and road meetings in his Lok Sabha constituency Amethi on the second and last day of his two-day visit.    


He asked people of the constituency whether they had got laptops, tablets, kanya vidhyadhan, unemployment allowance and loan waiver as promised by the ruling party during election.    


When they replied in the negative, Rahul said SP and BSP governments have not taken care of the people of the state and did not pay enough attention on development.    


The Congress leader said that since his party did not have its government in UP, it was like one hand was empty. "We are doing only as much as we can do with one hand... supplying power is not the work of the central government," he said, adding that all these things can be done only when there is a Congress government in the state. "We have to work towards having it in Lucknow," he said.

20:35  Cauvery row: K'taka to file review petition before SC:  

Karnataka today decided to file a petition before the Supreme Court seeking a review of its order directing the state to release 2.44 tmc ft of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu, citing depleted water storage level.   


A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of floor leaders of both the Houses of the legislature convened by Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar to discuss the situation arising out of the apex court's directive yesterday on water release.  


State's Water Resources Minister Basavaraj Bommai told reporters that the review petition was likely to be moved on February 11.

20:33  PM defers visit to Nagaland, Tripura:  

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has deferred his visit to Nagaland and Tripura to campaign for the Congress in the assembly elections slated for February 23 and February 14 respectively.      


Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee president S I Jamir told PTI that the proposed visit of the Prime Minister to Kohima has been deferred but could not confirm the date of his next visit.      


Congress sources here also said that the proposed visit of All India Congress Committee vice president Rahul Gandhi to Mon and Tuensang districts of the state on February 14 has also not been confirmed as of date.   


NPCC which has been in the opposition for the last one decade is trying hard to woo the electorate by bringing in several central leaders.

19:49  When internet 'killed' Kader Khan!:  

Kader Khan has become the latest celeb victim of an internet hoax as social networking sites were abuzz today with rumours about the actor's demise.          Rumours gained traction when a 'RIP Kader Khan' Facebook page was made, after which many took to micro-blogging site Twitter to pass on their condolences.         


However, there was a debate online as some believed the reports to be frivolous. "Kader Khan the legendary Bollywood actor, comedian, script and dialogue writer and director passed away today. May his soul rest in peace!," posted one user and there were several other tweets in the same vein.          But the air was cleared sooner rather than later.         


Balaji Motion Pictures CEO Tanuj Garg said, "Kader Khan is fine. Why then are people bombarding my inbox with bad news?" Another user tweeted, "Twitter & Facebook should be screened to stop hoax, pranks and rumors. Lamers here just killed a healthy legend. #Kader Khan is alive."


Image: Screenshot of FB page 'RIP Kader Khan'

19:27  Owaisi brothers appear before court in 2005 case:  

Jailed Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen legislator Akbaruddin Owaisi, his elder brother Asaduddin and four other party MLAs appeared before a court in Sangareddy today in an eight-year-old case of 'preventing' government officials from doing their duties.        


While Akbaruddin, who is lodged in the Adilabad district jail in connection with the Nirmal 'hate speech' case was brought by police to Sangareddy town and produced before the court, his elder brother Asaduddin and other MIM legislators presented themselves before the court.        


The Owaisi brothers had filed a review petition in court on February 6, contending that they were not directly involved in obstructing officials and their names were unnecessarily being dragged into the case.        


The judicial magistrate court had examined the Owaisi brothers and the four party MLAs on January 28. As the petition was still pending, counsels of the Owaisis sought postponement of the matter, after which the court adjourned the case to February 22.  

19:24  Iraq: Blasts kill 36; Sunnis stage protest rallies:  

AP: Car bombs struck two outdoor markets and a group of taxi vans in Shiite areas across Iraq today, killing at least 36 people and wounding nearly 100 in the bloodiest day in more than two months, as minority Sunnis staged mass anti-government protests in a sign of mounting sectarian tensions.        


Tens of thousands of Sunni protesters rallied in five major cities against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite accused of monopolising power. Sunni protest leaders have rejected a recent call by an Al Qaeda-linked group in Iraq to take up arms against the government, but there is concern militants are trying to exploit the discontent.        


In the city of Samarra, rally speaker Sheik Mohammed Jumaa sent a warning to the prime minister. "Stop tyranny and oppression," he said. "We want our rights. You will witness what other tyrants have witnessed before you."        


In the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi in the western Anbar province, demonstrators blocked the main highway to Jordan while rallies were held in the cities of Mosul and Tikrit.        


Earlier today, suspected Sunni insurgents detonated five car bombs, killing at least 37 people and wounding 97, health and police officials said.        


Today's bombings targeted an outdoor pet market in Baghdad's northern Kazimyah neighbourhood, a vegetable market in the town of Shomali in Hillah province, south of the Iraqi capital, and a stand for taxi vans on the edge of the southern city of Karbala.  


Image: An Iraqi resident stands near burnt vehicles after a car bomb attack in Baghdad's Kadhimiya district, on Friday  Photograph: Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters

18:49  Uma: Don't take Togadia's comments in isolation :  BJP leader Uma Bharti today came out in full defence of firebrand Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Praveen Togadia after the Maharashtra Police filed a First Information Report against him for his alleged hate speech made at a rally last month.
"His comments should be considered. And his comment should be compared with Akbaruddin Owaisi only if the two of them have spoken in the same manner. It should not be seen in respect of the fact that an action has been initiated against Akbaruddin Owaisi, so an action should be taken against Togadia also. The CDs of the comments made by the two should be seen and it should be found out as to who has said what," said Bharti.
18:43  Gang rape: AIIMS doctors testify against five adult accused:  Two doctors from AIIMS, who had conducted the medical test of the five adult accused in the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old girl in a moving bus in Delhi on December 16, today testified before the fast track court.

Out of the four AIIMS doctors, who appeared before Additional Sessions Judge Yogesh Khanna, only two of them testified as a witness for the prosecution in the proceedings held in-camera.

The accused have pleaded not guilty to charges, including rape and murder, and have claimed trial.

The two were also cross-examined by the counsel for the accused persons. The four doctors had conducted Medico Legal Certificate (MLC) test of the accused bus driver Ram Singh, his brother Mukesh, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Akshay Singh, soon after their arrest in the case.

The court today issued summons to four persons, including two doctors of the Safdarjung Hospital, who had treated the victim, for recording of statement as prosecution witness on Monday
18:40  Geelani calls arrests over girl band superficial :  Hardline Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani today alleged that the Jammu and Kashmir government was trying to establish "superficial peace" by arresting three youths on charges of posting hate messages to the all-girls rock band in the state.

Geelani, in a statement issued here, condemned the arrest of the youths and reopening of cases against separatist leader Nayeem Ahmad Khan. "We warn the government that it is trying to create superficial peace by unleashing a reign of terror," he said. The separatist leader also advised people to use civilised language while commenting on issues on social networking sites.
18:35  Narendra Modis motivational message:  Modi addressed 1,800 students but spoke to a wider middle-class mindset and may have connected with millions, writes Sandipan Deb. Read
18:04  BJP to protest outside PM's house for Shinde's 'saffron terror' :  BJP today declared that it will protest outside Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's residence on the eve of the forthcoming budget session of Parliament to press for its demand for an apology from Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde for his saffron terror remarks.

It said Shinde's comments on saffron terror appear to give the impression that the government is"terrorist-friendly" and was trying to give a "clean chit" to terrorists.

"These saffron terror remarks have been made as part of a conspiracy and a crime by Congress party. Neither has any clarification or apology been tendered till now," BJP Vice-President Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.
17:59  Anti-Modi protestors say they were molested:  The Delhi Police is looking into complaints of students that they were molested and verbally abused by some people when they were protesting against the visit of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi recently.

The students have complained that the people, who were trying to prevent their protest, misbehaved with them at the entrance of Sri Ram College of Commerce on Wednesday evening when Modi was addressing students inside the institute.

They also alleged in their complaints that some of them were molested by men who were present at the protest site. Hundreds of students had protested against the visit of Modi on Wednesday. Police had to use force to disperse them.

"We have received a lot of complaints and we are looking into all of them," DCP (North) Sindhu Pillai said. Asked whether any case has been registered, Pillai said: "No case has been registered as of yet." Protesters also alleged that police turned a blind eye to the harassment that took place at the site.
17:44  Kolkata Metro seeks to increase fares:  Facing acute losses, the Metro Rail Kolkata has sought a hike in passenger fares to reach a "no- profit-no-loss" situation. Singing in tune with a Railway Board committee which has recommended that Metro rail fares should be increased, Metro Rail Kolkata General Manager Radhey Shyam said, "There is a need for revision in the fare structure, which have not been changed in the past 10-12 years for us to reach a no-profit-no-loss situation.

If the Left was ruling the state, this would have been just the opportunity for the TMC to take to the streets. Alas.
17:31  Have no idea what people see in my performances: Gere:  For the legions of Richard Gere fans: Gere has taken on his first film role in four years with Arbitrage. He explains why he thinks it's one of his best yet. Read
17:08  Kurien: Conscience clear, I WON'T step down:   PJ Kurien, the Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, said he has never asked for any appointment with Sonia Gandhi over the Suryanelli rape case, so there was no question of being refused a meeting. He further told news channels that his conscience was clear and that he had nothing to worry about. "The rape survivor is being used by my political opponents. Courts have given me a clean chit and I will not step down," he said.

Kurien has been accused by a rape survivor in Kerala of assaulting her when she was a school girl. In 1996 she says 42 men raped her in 40 days; though the Supreme Court has exonerated Kurien , she says he was among her attackers.

Kurien said the allegations were nothing but vendetta politics and it did not bother him.
16:56  TMC on Mamata's whipping remark: It's a small thing:  The Trinamool Congress today accused the media of unnecessarily hyping the incident of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee publicly abusing her security guards at the book fair here.

"Some motivated sections of the media have made a mountain of a molehill. This issue should not be the topic of discussion...Whatever happened is a small thing," Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy said.

"Lakhs of such things are said by a CM. I recall that when Jyoti Basu was the chief minister he had called the opposition scoundrels," he said on the sidelines of an Indian Chamber of Commerce event here.

On February 5, Banerjee had lost her cool and screamed in public at her security guards for delay in arrival of her car at the gate of the Kolkata Book Fair site. Mamata, in full public view had said guards "should be whipped" for making her wait for her car.
16:49  No, it's not time to say RIP Kader Khan :  Actor, comedian, script and dialogue writer and director, Kader Khan, is alive and doing quite well, thank you. News that he has passed on is false. 
16:39  We know this year is bad, what about the next?:  The Central Statistical Organization says India is facing a 5 per cent economic growth this fiscal year. This data, if correct, implies that the malaise of slowdown is far deeper than anticipated. Read
16:24  Expect France's first lady to shop really big in India:  Valrie Trierweiler 'succumbs to Marie-Antoinette syndrome of life of luxury and has become the latest French first lady to succumb to frivolity and luxury as France toils, a leading magazine has claimed. Read

French President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are set to meet for a Valentine's Day summit on February 14 in New Delhi.

16:13  Statue controversy stymies Bangalore metro:  In Bangalore, groups representing Dalits are opposed to plans to even temporarily shift a statue of their hero, BR Ambedkar, to allow for the construction of the underground metro railway. Read 
16:05  German envoy on meeting Modi: It's what India wants:  German envoy Micheale Steiner today reacted to the European Union lifting its ban on Modi saying Germany always said it would take a fresh approach once the Gujarat polls were over. "We respect the democratic resolutions and elections in India. We are in a new phase, this is what India expects of us. It has been part of our approach is to talk directly to Narendra Modi. He has also assured us that a 2002 situation would not happen again," said Steiner.
16:02  Army gets its first indigenously-made Rudra attack chopper:   The first indigenously-developed weaponised helicopter 'Rudra' was today handed over to the Army which has successfully raised an attack chopper fleet on its own. This is the first of the 60 armed helicopters provided to the Army by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) after the Defence Ministry handed over the control of all attack helicopters to the land force.
15:50  Advertising on rotis at Kumbh: Lifebuoy se haath dhoya kya?:  At Kumbh Mela, the largest congregation on earth where all big marketers are vying to sell their wares and boost their brands, one promotion that stands out is Hindustan Unilever's 'Roti Reminder' for its Lifebuoy soap brand. Read the Roti Reminder report on the Economic Times. 
15:45  Life Sentence Most Suitable for Rapists: Survey:  Life imprisonment would be the "most suitable' punishment for rapists, according to responds to a recent survey of Indians by Vuclip, a US-based mobile video company. Read
15:44  The tragedy of construction sites in India:  Another construction site mishap and the resulting casualties has again put a spotlight on why bridges, metro lines and houses in India often collapse during the building phase, killing or injuring workers. Read
15:36  Manish Tewari attacks CAG for criticising govt on foreign soil:  Slamming the CAG for criticising the government on foreign soil, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari today said Constitutional authorities should circumscribe by Lakshman Rekha propriety. " is most unfortunate that C and AG rather than validating the integrity of his numbers (on 2G presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore) chooses to criticise the Government on foreign soil and at a foreign fora," Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said.

He was responding to questions about CAG Vinod Rai's remarks at Harvard Kennedy School yesterday rebutting criticism that he was exceeding the mandate and saying that the auditor was treading a "new path in the belief that the final stakeholder is the public at large".
15:25  Suryanelli rape: Sonia unlikely to meet Kurien:  Congress President Sonia Gandhi is unlikely to meet  Deputy Rajya Sabha chairperson P J Kurien over the Suryanelli rape case.
15:23  All hail Robert Vadra...:  And some gossip...

Robert Vadra, India's unofficial official son-in-law has been seen quite frequently
during the day at a 7 star hotel in Delhi occupying a particular window
seat in a corner. Obviously, it's a spot no mango man can corner him.

Vadra, says our source, looked trim, seemingly fresh from a workout at the gym. Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law has been growing his hair of late, and tying it back with a band.

Apparently, when Vadra enters a a restaurant either alone or with friends, he does with a certain panache that makes it worth a watch. The black cat commandoes waiting outside add a zing, of course. Vadra also makes it a point to acknowledge other diners, known faces in Delhi social circles and his manners are said to be impeccable.  
15:05  Modi begins diplomatic ties, London visit in May:  Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi will head to London this May. After his maiden speech in Delhi at the Shri Ram College of Commerce yesterday, this will be Modi's first foreign visit to the United Kingdom since he became CM in December.

Permission and clearances have to be given by the Prime Minister's Office for all chief ministers and insiders say that this process has been initiated with the PMO soon after Modi spent one hour with Dr Manmohan Singh at 7 Race Course Road yesterday. 
14:47  Cong Core Committee to meet this evening:  Later in the day the Congress Core Committee is expected to meet. Three major issues on the agenda:
1. Home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde's comments on terrorists in BJP
and RSS office
2. Deputy Rajya Sabha chairperson P J Kurien's name cropping up in the Suryanelli gang-rape case and the protests instigated by senior leaders
of the Congress in Kerala, and,
3. Minster of State for Railways Adhir Ranjan Choudhary booked for vandalising the district magistrate's house.

Then there is the recent controversy about Solictor General Rohinton Nariman's resignation, an apparent fallout with Law Minister Ashwini Kumar. Apparently, lots to discuss over tea and biscuits.
14:25  The English Median:  Dreams of jobs, social mobility and self-respect are all tied to knowing the language. For millions, not knowing it means being walled out. Ashok Malik on the line of control everyone wants to cross. Read
14:21  Sikar gang-rape victim being treated at AIIMS:  The 11-year-old girl who was gang-raped in Sikar and has undergone treatment in Jaipur for over five months, which has included five major surgeries, was today referred to All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi for specialised treatment.

"The girl was sent to Delhi in an ambulance by road. Five major operations were performed on her but her condition was not improving up to the expectation so it was decided to shift her to the AIIMs," Dr S D Sharma, Superintendent of J K Lone hospital-Jaipur, told PTI.

A medical department spokesperson said the government would bear the expenses of the girl, who was admitted to the hospital in August last year.

The teenager, who hails from Darbhanga in Bihar, came to Sikar with her mother and sisters after her father's demise. She was kidnapped and gang-raped by two men, SP Sikar Gaurav Srivastava said. They have been arrested and are presently under judicial custody.
14:19  China, Russia deny Japanese accusations:  Japan's defense minister today accused two Russian fighter jets of intruding into Japanese air space, heightening regional tensions as Beijing denied Tokyo's claims that Chinese naval vessels had locked their weapons-targeting radar on to a Japanese destroyer last month.

Tokyo said two Russian Su-37 fighters entered Japanese air space off the northern tip of Hokkaido island for just over a minute yesterday, prompting Japanese air force jets to scramble and fly alongside the two Russian planes. Russia denied any border violation, but Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said today that Tokyo will deal with the incident "strictly, within the bounds of international law." 
14:14  Need proof of witness' intimidation in Gujarat? Read Ashish Khetan's letter.
14:02  Bad intent makes a bad law:  By cherry-picking parts of the Justice Verma Committee report, the Government has shown it is only interested in scoring brownie points. Read
13:57  Mrs Alfred Hitchcock: The Unsung Partner:  Alma Reville was Hitchcock's wife, closest collaborator and the only person to whom he'd defer. She is played by Helen Mirren in a new film - which is finally giving her the credit she deserves. Read
13:53  Hitchcock's iconic horror film Psycho was supposed to be a comedy:  Alfred Hitchcock's iconic horror film Psycho was supposed to be a comedy, a new collection of BBC interviews reveals. Read
13:39  FIR against Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary for attack on Murshidabad DM:  West Bengal Police on Friday registered an FIR against Union Minister of State for Railways Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary for allegedly instigating his supporters to attack the house of Murshidabad District Magistrate Rajiv Kumar.  The police registered the case against the Congress leader , who also represents Murshidabad constituency of Lok Sabha, under Section 156 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). According to reports, the video of the attack showed Chowdhury instigating a mob of Congress workers to ransack Kumar''s house.
13:33  The common man as activist:  In Mumbai, people of the slums have formed a movment for equitable resettlement after slum demolition drives. Shunning politcal patronage, this group of men and women, have been demanding homes from the government. Last month, some 10,000 people marched to Mantralaya, the seat of Maharashtra's government. Read
13:22  Radar failure at Delhi airport delays flights :  CNN IBN: Radar screens go blank at IGI airport, New Delhi, delaying several flights. Radar failure was reported last year and in 2010 as well, leading to concerns over airspace security. Details awaited. 
13:14  Sri Lanka Prez arrives at Bodh Gaya for pilgrimage:  Sri Lankan President Mahindha Rajpaksa, accompanied by his wife Shiranthi Rajpaksa and a 70-member delegation, today arrived at the Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya for pilgrimage. Rajpaksa was received at the Gaya International Airport by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Meanwhile, in Tamil Nadu, DMK chief M Karunanidhi today led a state-wide protest against Rajapaksa's visit to India, accusing him of making efforts to "annihilate" the Tamils in the island republic.
13:00  What really went wrong with the Dreamliner:   Dreamliner tests 'failed to spot battery flaw'. US safety investigators are examining battery of a Japan Airlines' 787 that caught fire in Boston last month. Read
12:57  Boo on reading, her best authors and Jeet Thayil:  Poet Jeet Thayil's first novel, Narcopolis, about the drug-hazed Bombay of the 1980s, was a happy diversion, says author Katherine Boo on the New York Times. Read.

Boo is the author of Behind the Beautiful Forevers, a narrative on Mumbai
12:46  European Union ENDS Narendra Modi boycott:  Exactly a month ago, on January 7, about noon, a white Ambassador rolled into the Chanakyapuri residence of Michael Steiner, Germany's envoy to India. Inside was Narendra Modi, who had a fortnight earlier become chief minister of Gujarat for the fourth straight time.

Modi spent the next two hours with Steiner and his other guests ambassadors of all countries in the European Union. Over lunch, he faced some "tough" questions on the 2002 riots in Gujarat, and he answered them all patiently. He also told the envoys about his model of governance, and his ideas for India.

The meeting was the first European envoys had had with Modi since the riots nearly 11 years ago. More
12:43  A video of a driver in Italy attempting to park a car in a tight space has gone viral after being posted on YouTube.Watch
12:37  The tale of the unexpected decline of Roald Dahl:  Roald Dahl's dark humour and wacky characters enchanted generations, so why are modern children now leaving Charlie, Matilda and Mr Fox on the shelf? Read
12:35  Principal blinds boy who couldn't pay fees :  Even before he is old enough to understand life, eight-year-old Jaideep has been taught a lesson by his school he will remember until he dies. Now lying in a bed, struggling to come to terms with the fact that he has lost his left eye, the class one student is unable to understand why he was brutally thrashed by his school principal. Read more
12:32  Norah Jones to pay tribute to father Ravi Shankar at Delhi:  It's a bittersweet feeling for jazz singer Norah Jones as she gears up to perform her first show in the Capital. She had been excited about fulfiling her late father Pandit Ravi Shankar's wish of performing here with him in the audience, but is very sad he is no longer around to watch her. Read more
12:25  India developing Agni-VI ballistic missile:  India today said it is developing a long-range nuclear-capable Agni-VI ballistic missile that would carry multiple warheads allowing one weapon system to take out several targets at a time.

"Agni-V is major strategic defence weapon. Now we want to make Agni-VI which would be a force multiplier," DRDO chief V K Saraswat said here. Refusing to divulge the range of the new under- development missile, he said the force multiplier capability of the missile would be because of its Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV) capability.
12:04  Suryanelli rape: Kurien's fate to be decided at 5pm:  The fate of PJ Kurien, deputy chairman Rajya Sabha, will be decided today at the Congress Core Committee meeting at 5 pm at 7 Racecourse Road. Kurien was named by the Suryanelli gang-rape victim.

The mother of the victim in Kerala has written to United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi to ensure that PJ Kurien does not chair the Rajya Sabha when the bill on sexual violence against women comes up in Parliament.

The letter by the 70-year-old woman against Kurien, Deputy Chairman of Rajya Sabha, in an apparent attempt to exerting pressure on the Congress leadership in the 17-year-old gang-rape case came even as the government is set to introduce the bill providing for harsher punishment for sexual offences in the coming Budget session of Parliament.

Meanwhile at 15 Gurudwara Rekhab Ganj Road in New Delhi, Defence Minister A K Antony will preside over the AICC sub committee meet to figour out the new alliance for UPA3. 
11:55  Google pays tribute to Jagjit Singh on 72nd birth anniversary:  The latest Google Doodle commemorative logo pays tribute to ghazal king Jagjit Singh on his 72nd birthday today. A drawing of Singh dressed in kurta-pajama sitting down with his harmonium is placed in the middle of the Google logo. The legendary singer passed away in October 2011 due to brain haemorrhage. According to Google Search Trends, the late singer also topped the list of popular singers in this genre.
11:54  Karzai swaps Kabul austerity for London luxury:  Hamid Karzai swaps Kabul fortress for Claridge's finery on day he issued decree back home to curtail government expenses. Claridges is one of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Read
11:48  Poor Indian women forced into prostitution in the Gulf:  Unscrupulous agents promise well-paid work abroad, but poor Indian women are then sold as sex workers in the middle east. Read

Also read: I was sold to a sheikh
11:43  North Korea: Unbelievable tourist photos of Pyongyang:  Tourist Bjrn Bergman battled for two years to get a visa, then spent nine days with "hostile" guards capturing life in Pyongyang. See
11:40  Indian sail ship on six-month voyage:  The Sudarshini, a 177-foot long sail ship in the Indian Navy, is on a six-month, nine-nation voyage tracing an ancient route taken by Indian sailors. In pictures on the Wall Street Journal. See
11:30  Beef lasagne ready meal was up to 100 per cent horse meat:  Ready meals sold as beef products by some of Britain's biggest supermarkets contained up to 100 per cent horse meat.
Read. Neigh, it's true!
11:11  Bhopal: Parents of raped, murdered girl forced to live in loo:  The parents and siblings of the eight-year-old girl who was brutally raped and killed at a desolate spot near the Bhopal mela ground last Sunday night, have been moved into the attendant's room of a public lavatory as part of the government's witness protection programme. More on this horror story. 
11:07  Letter from Suryanelli victim's mother puts Sonia in a spot:  The letter written by the mother of the Suryanelli rape case victim to the Congress president Sonia Gandhi seeking action against Deputy Rajya Sabha Chairman P. J. Kurien seems to have put the party high command in a tight spot. Read
11:04  Dark side of the moon:  The CIA's extraordinary rendition programme, detailed in a recent report, helped the spread of terrorism rather than contain it, writes Seema Sirohi for the Hindu.

Also read Amrit Singh's report on the CIA's rendition programme.
10:57  At Harvard lecture, CAG attacks government :  CAG Vinod Rai rebutted criticism that the official auditor was exceeding its mandate, saying it was treading a "new path in the belief that the final stakeholder is the public at large".

In a lecture at the Harvard Kennedy School, he referred to the CAG exceeding its mandate to say that since the Indian democracy is maturing and the urban middle class is becoming more involved in affairs of citizens, "we continue to tread the new path in the belief that the final stakeholder is the public at large".

10:55  Monster blizzard threatens NE US, over 2,600 flights cancelled:  A blizzard of potentially historic proportions threatened to strike the northeast with a vengeance on Friday, with up to 2 feet (0.6 meters) of snow forecast along the densely populated corridor from the New York City area to Boston and beyond. Read 
10:53  3 cops to protect each VIP, just 1 policeman for 761 citizens:  India's police personnel to population ratio is 1: 761, but there are as many as 47,557 cops protecting 14,842 VIPs across the country or three police personnel to one protectee even as rising crime poses a serious threat to the security of the common citizen. More
10:49  Air chief looks beyond Israel's Iron Dome to David:  Israel's Iron Dome missile defence system that is being advertised at the Aero India show with much fanfare is unsuitable for the needs of the Indian military but there are other systems that are being looked into, Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne said yesterday.  More on the Telegraph.
10:42  It's haunted, cries Abu Jundal now in Kasab's cell:  Ajmal Kasab has been hanged, but his handler is feeling "haunted'. Actually it's his cell in Arthur Road Jail that's giving Abu Jundal the creeps. The cell is the same one where Kasab was held in solitary confinement before his execution in November last year.

"He was upset about being placed in the cell and kept awake almost the entire night, calling out to the guards sometimes. He told them he felt the cell was haunted,' said a jail source. More on the Telegraph.
10:37  Fresh cases of swine flu emerge in Delhi, govt. sounds alert:  Fresh cases of epidemic swine flue emerged in New Delhi, killing three and hospitalising many others. The number of patients admitted with swine flu is on the rise and hundreds of people are rushing to the general hospitals.

Talking to mediapersons, Medical Superintendent, H K Kar gave the statistics of the cases reported in the hospital. "I suspected total 26 cases of swine flu, out of them 12 were positive and many others are also found suspected but we are awaiting the blood report.

The afflicted victims were rushed to the nearby hospitals with symptoms of sudden fever and cough, vomiting, runny nose, Diarrhoea or stomach upset, abdominal cramps, bleeding and headache.

Meanwhile in Gurgaon, the number of patients admitted with swine flu was six.

10:29  Congress Core Committee to discuss Telangana:  The Congress Core Committee is likely to meet on Friday evening to continue discussion on the Telangana issue.

The party is yet to take a final decision on the formation of a new state by bifurcating Andhra Pradesh.
10:15  P J Kurien wants to meet Sonia:  Senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P J Kurien has sought an appointment with party chief Sonia Gandhi later today.

Kurien has been in the like of fire after the victim named him as one of the accused in the horrific Suryanelli rape case.
10:13  Coal scam: CBI questions Shibu Soren:  Jharkhand Mukti Morcha chief Shibu Soren was questioned on Friday morning by the CBI in connection with the coal block allocation scam.

Soren was the Union coal minister in 2006.
09:00  Blizzard heads towards New York City, Boston:  A blizzard of record size may be heading towards the area spanning from Boston to New York City.

Residents of these areas have stocked up on food and other necessities. Authorities have decided to shut all local schools on Friday.

Read the full story here
08:56  Neither Modi nor Gandhi should lead India in 2014:  Neither an authoritarian man like Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi nor a reluctant leader like Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi should lead the nation. Eminent historian Ramchandra Guha explains why.

Read the article
03:52  US continues to remain at war with Al Qaeda: US official:   A White House official has said that despite substantial progress been made in eliminating the top al Qaeda leadership, the US continues to be at war with the terror outfit. White House counter terrorism official John Brennan, President Barak Obama's nominee for the post of CIA director, told the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday that al Qaeda still seeks to carry out deadly strikes against the US and its allies. 

"We remain at war with al Qaeda and its associated forces, which, despite the substantial progress we have made against them, still seek to carry out deadly strikes against our homeland and our citizens, and against our friends and allies," Brennan said.
03:51  Indian-American receives prestigious business award:  An Indian-American businessman has been selected for a corporate award by given by a prestigious US journal. Based out of Dallas in Texas, Ashok Mago, the chairman of USINDIA Forum, was felicitated with the 'Minority Business Leader Award' by the Dallas Business Journal yesterday for his accomplishments in the field of business. 

"I guess you can imagine that if I've been living here for more than 38 years that I love this city," Mago, a recipient of the 2010 Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, said after receiving the award at a function here.
03:50  Strong 6.6 quake hits Solomon Islands:  A strong 6.6-magnitude tremor struck the Solomon Islands today, the latest in a series of aftershocks from a powerful earthquake that triggered a tsunami which killed at least six people, seismologists said. 

The quake hit 36 kilometres (23 miles) south-southwest of Lata, the main town on the remote island of Ndende, at 5:59 AM (1859 GMT yesterday/0029 IST today), the US Geological Survey said. No tsunami warning was issued and there was a low likelihood of casualties and damage, the USGS estimated.

A powerful 8.0-magnitude quake on Wednesday generated a wave that swamped coastal communities on Ndende island, in the eastern Solomons, and triggered warnings of a more widespread tsunami that was later lifted.
02:43  US asks Iran to release journalists:  The United States today asked Iran to release the journalists as it said is "deeply troubled" by the arrest of more than a dozen media persons on charges of having contacts with foreign news organisations. 

"We are deeply troubled by the Iranian regime's arrest of more than a dozen journalists on spurious charges of spying and having contact with foreign news organisations. Such actions are clearly meant to stifle free expression, limit political debate, and close off the flow of information in advance of Iran's June presidential elections," the State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters at her daily news conference.
02:42  Iran wants closer ties with Egypt:  After decades of mistrust, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday his country wanted closer relations with Egypt.

He spoke at a news conference in Cairo of forging "comprehensive" and "unfettered" ties, something that if realized could mean a new and powerful alliance that could reshape the turbulent Middle East.

Ahmadinejad's visit to Egypt is the first by an Iranian leader in three decades. He used his three-stay stay to try and cement ties while attending an Islamic summit.
01:50  Iran wants closer ties with Egypt:  After decades of mistrust, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday his country wanted closer relations with Egypt.

He spoke at a news conference in Cairo of forging "comprehensive" and "unfettered" ties, something that if realized could mean a new and powerful alliance that could reshape the turbulent Middle East.

Ahmadinejad's visit to Egypt is the first by an Iranian leader in three decades. He used his three-stay stay to try and cement ties while attending an Islamic summit.
01:07  Tunisia ruling party rejects new government plan:  The Islamist party dominating Tunisia's ruling coalition on Thursday rejected its own prime minister's decision to replace the government, signaling that the crisis brought on by the assassination of a prominent opposition politician is far from over. 

With a large turnout expected Friday for the funeral of secularist political opposition leader Chokri Belaid and a general strike called by the main labor union, there are rising concerns of confrontations around the country.
00:32  China accuses Japan of smear campaign:  China has accused Japan of trying to "smear" Beijing's image, after Tokyo alleged a Chinese warship locked its weapons-targeting radar on a Japanese vessel near disputed islands.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Thursday the issue is not China displaying its strength, but Japanese ships and aircraft carrying out "illegal activities" that infringe on China's territorial sovereignty in the East China Sea.

She accused Japan of increasing tensions.
00:31  Japan scrambles fighters after Russian jets approach island:  Japan's military scrambled fighters Thursday after two Russian SU-27 jets entered Japanese airspace off Rishiri Island near the tip of Japan's northernmost Hokkaido Island, according to the country's Defense Ministry.

The Russian jets left Japanese airspace without incident after a little more than a minute, the ministry said.

The incident occurred near territory disputed by Japan and Russia since the end of World War II.
00:22  Stop meddling in domestic affairs: Turkey to US envoy:  Turkey bluntly told the US ambassador today to stop meddling in its domestic affairs after he fired off a strident attack on the country's justice system, in a row between the NATO allies. "Ambassadors should mind their own business. They should stay away from assessments that mean interference in Turkey's judiciary and domestic affairs," Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency. 

In an interview with local media on Tuesday, US ambassador Francis Ricciardone criticised "the flaws" in the justice system, highlighting "lengthy pre-trial detentions, lack of clarity in presenting charges, lack of transparency".
00:21  Cong worker suspended for Sonia, Rahul posters:  Embarrassed by posters depicting Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi as 'Rani Laxmi Bai' and 'Lord Shankar' respectively, the city unit of the Congress has suspended a senior party worker here, charging him with violating "party norms" which rejected "the idea of involving religion for political ends". 

According to a statement issued by city Congress president Shyam Krishna Pandey, "Abhay Awasthi Baba, a senior Congress worker" has been suspended "from the primary membership of the party with immediate effect following his indisciplined venture of portraying Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi as Rani Laxmi Bai and Lord Shankar respectively in the Kumbh Mela area".
00:19  Top headlines in the past 24 hours:  
Suryanelli rape issue rocks Kerala assembly again

At Kumbh, RSS chief describes Modi as friend

PM's daughter Amrit blows the whistle on CIA detention ops

With 12 new faces, Akhilesh expands UP cabinet to 59

To hell and back: TN fishermen return from Iranian jail

Case filed against VHP leader Togadia for hate speech

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