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Myth of silent majority debunked in 2012: CAG

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February 15, 2013

23:42  A million postcards at PM, Sonia's doorstep:  

The Civil Writ Petition No: 180/2004 challenging the validity of the Constitution (Scheduled Caste) Order 1950 paragraph 3 which says "no person who professes a religion different from Hinduism shall be deemed to be a member of the Scheduled Caste', is still pending in the Honourable Supreme Court of India for the past 8 years.


The Union of India has not filed its reply to the Supreme Court. Constantly organizations like the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India have been working on this issue through lobbying and advocacy.


Various demonstrations, rallies, hunger fasts, writing letters have been going on for the past many years.To press their demand to the Congress party and to the Union government, the CBCI office for Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes along with National Council of Churches in India and National Council for Dalit Christians is organising a nationwide post card campaign which started on 13th February 2013 at Kanyakumari.  


Every day at least 100 post cards will be posted to Sonia Gandhi and 100 post cards to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh until it teaches the target of one million post cards.   The campaign will be launched on February 18 at 3 pm at CBCI Centre, Ashok Place, New Delhi.

23:12  Modi meets Advani ahead of parliamentarians' meet in Guj:  

Ahead of the meeting of Parliamentarians from Gujarat on Saturday, Chief Minister Narendra Modi met former Deputy Prime Minister and senior BJP leader L K Advani in Ahmedabad.        


Parliamentarians from Gujarat are scheduled to meet tommorow in Gandhinagar, where they would discuss the issues of state importance. Advani is also in the city to attend this meet as he represents Gandhinagar constituency.        


Modi paid a courtesy visit to BJP leader Advani today on his arrival here from Delhi, an official communique said. A consensus on issues pertaining to the state and to be raised in the forthcoming budget session of the Parliament in New Delhi is likely to be drawn during the meeting, sources said.

23:10  Myth of silent majority debunked in 2012: CAG:  

Comptroller and Auditor General Vinod Rai, whose reports on various scams had raised the hackles of those in the government, says people who have the mandate to rule are typical "bullies".    


Rai, who is due to retire in May this year, also said today that time alone will tell whether he will join politics. The government auditor while stating that public officials make the most oft repeated statement that law would be allowed to take its own course over detection of large number of misdemeanours regretted that this does not happen at all.    


Touching upon the rash of corruption case that has come to the fore, Rai said things have changed and the silent majority can no more be bullied by the minority.    


Describing 2012 as a defining year, the CAG said the year debunked the myth of silent majority.   "The myth that has been debunked is that of the silent majority. The majority is always silent because the minority feel that they have a mandate and they are exercising that mandate. They are more articulate and aggressive than the silent majority...... But, the times have changed....but the so called people who have the mandate, are typical what I would call, bullies. The majority has to be consistent in their efforts to see the changes in the system," Rai said in response to a question at a banking symposium in Mumbai.  

22:06  Modi meets Advani in Gujarat:  Ahead of the meeting of Parliamentarians from Gujarat on Saturday, Chief Minister Narendra Modi met former deputy prime minister and senior BJP leader L K Advani on Friday. 

Parliamentarians from Gujarat are scheduled to meet  in Gandhinagar, where they would discuss the issues of state importance. 

Advani is also in the city to attend this meet as he represents Gandhinagar constituency. 

Modi paid a courtesy visit to BJP leader Advani today on his arrival from Delhi, an official communique said.
22:03  No delay in ordering probe in copter scam: Centre:  Under pressure from the Opposition on the VVIP helicopter scam, the government today insisted that there was no delay in ordering a probe and asked the BJP, which has demanded an investigation by a parliamentary panel, to approach it directly on the issue instead of going to media. 

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said the government could not act earlier as information into the allegations was not forthcoming despite its sincere efforts. 

"I do not think there was any delay (in ordering a probe) as the reports were unconfirmed reports about some questions being asked outside our jurisdiction. We were asked by the MoD to seek information and information was sought from Italy as well as UK. But no information was forthcoming," he said. 
22:01  WB chief secy and top cop meet Governor Narayanan :  A day after West Bengal Governor M K Narayanan criticised the sudden removal of Kolkata Police Commissioner R K Pachnanda, the new DGP Naparajit Mukherjee and Chief Secretary Sanjoy Mitra today held a meeting with the governor. 

Both Mitra and Mukherjee went to the Raj Bhavan to meet the governor.

Narayanan, a former IPS officer and National Security Advisor to the Union government, had on Thursday questioned the transfer of the Kolkata police chief, following the killing of Special Branch Sub-inspector Tapas Chowdhury on February 12.
22:00  Gulzar apologises to Karachi lit fest organiser:  Poet and lyricist Gulzar, who cut short his trip to Pakistan recently, has apologised to the Karachi Literature Festival's organiser, explaining his sudden return to India. 

The 83-year-old, who was accompanied by filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj on the trip, wrote a letter on Thursday, titled Mujh Se Naraz Na Hon (Don't be cross with me)", to the founder and organiser of the festival Ameena Saiyid.

According to the letter, it was during Gulzar's visits to his birthplace Dina and to Ahmed Nadim Qasmi's gravesite that he felt "uneasy in the chest". 

When the discomfort continued, he decided to go back to Mumbai. 

He apologised to the people of Pakistan for not attending the festival and wished the event a success, reported Dawn newspaper. 
21:58  Don't let politics come in way of development: Raj Thackeray:  Targeting the Shiv Sena over its opposition to the Jaitapur nuclear power project in Ratnagiri district, MNS president Raj Thackeray today asked the people of Konkan not to encourage petty politics obstructing the progress and development.

Addressing a rally at Khed town in the coastal district, Raj said, "If the project is bad, it should be thrown out. But do not derail a project if there is opposition for the sake of opposition. Attempts are being made to instill fear in you so that you oppose the project." 

Local groups are opposed to the Jaitapur Project and the Shiv Sena has sided with them.
21:53  'France willing to invest $1 billion in India, but...':  French President Francois Hollande today said French companies are willing to invest up to $1 billion in India, but asked New Delhi to take necessary steps to open up the market by removing obstacles. 

"There are always obstacles to opening markets," Hollande said while addressing industry leaders in the financial capital on Friday evening, but clarified that he is not meddling in the political affairs of India. 

Admitting that obstacles (to market reform) exist in both the countries, Hollande, winding up his two-day state visit, said, "I am not here to interfere in the political decisions but these decisions (to open up markets) are nonetheless necessary."
21:29  Centre wants to block these websites!:  The government of India has asked all internet service licensees to block certain websites and access to some online stories.

Here is the full list
20:41  Hope India plays Pakistan in August: PCB:  The Pakistan Cricket Board is pinning its hopes on the BCCI agreeing to India playing Pakistan, at least at a neutral venue, in August this year in order to boost its financial position.    

"In the future tours programme, India is supposed to tour Pakistan in August. We are hoping that even if they don't tour (the country) for security reasons, they should at least play us at a neutral venue because we badly need revenues from this home series," said a source in the board.
20:23  Amit Shah appears in CBI court in Mumbai:  BJP leader and former Gujarat minister Amit Shah and other accused in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case today appeared before the special CBI court in Mumbai ahead of the trial.     

The trial of the case has been transferred to Mumbai.     

Former Deputy Inspector General of Police D G Vanzara,one of the accused, has filed an application before the court, requesting that he should be transferred to the Sabarmati Jail in Ahmedabad from the Mumbai jail for security reasons. 

The CBI is likely to file the reply next week. The court adjourned the proceedings to March.
19:45  Pistorius weeps in court, denies murder charge:   CNN reports: South African sports icon Oscar Pistorius broke into tears Friday when a judge officially charged him with killing his girlfriend on Valentine's Day.

A grim-faced Pistorius, dressed in a dark suit, shook uncontrollably with his head buried in his hands during the hearing at a packed courtroom in Pretoria.

Read the full story here
19:01  Petrol price hiked by Rs 1.50, diesel 45 paise:   Petrol price was today hiked by Rs 1.50 per litre and diesel by 45 paise a litre with effect from midnight tonight.

While petrol rates have been revised in step with the steep rise in international rates, oil firms used the newly accorded freedom to increase diesel price in small dozes to effect the second price adjustment in one month.

The increase announced is excluding local sales tax or VAT and the actual hike for consumers would be more after the incidence of duty is included. Petrol price in Delhi will go up by almost Rs 1.80 per litre after taking into account 19 per cent VAT. Diesel rates would go up by 51 paise.
18:51  Pistorius' family in court to support him:  Oscar Pistorius' father Henke, his older brother Carl and his younger sister Aimee were in court to support him. His brother laid his hand on his should to comfort him as he began to sob. Pistorius' mother, Sheila, died when he was 15.
18:47  Portion of building collapses in central Mumbai:   A portion of a building collapsed in Pydhonie in central Mumbai this evening. Several people are feared to be trapped under the debris, a civic official said. A portion of Na Khuda Mohallah building collapsed at around 5 pm, the official said, adding that rescue operation was underway.
18:45  Just in: Petrol prices to be raised by Rs 1.50 a litre and diesel by 45 paise a litre.
18:39  Army returns Pak soldier's body:   The body of the Pakistani soldier who was killed by Indian troops when he crossed the LoC in Nowshera sector to attack an Indian post, has been returned to Pakistan.

The Pakistan Army has said that one of its soldiers had inadvertently crossed the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir and contact was being established with Indian authorities for his return.

The Pakistani soldier lost his way on Thursday afternoon and inadvertently crossed the LoC in Khoi Ratta sector, military officials said yesterday.

The Indian Army acceded Pakistan Army DGMO's request to return the body of the Pakistani soldier.
18:28  Haryana Minister calls Geetika Sharma 'servant' of Kanda :  Another update on the Geetika Sharma case, which has since fallen off the front pages.

Haryana Minister Shiv Charan Sharma landed in a controversy after calling suicide victim Geetika Sharma a "servant" of his former ministerial colleague Gopal Kanda who is the prime accused in the case.

Sharma, the Minister for Labour and Employment who also said the case in which Kanda has been booked is not "such a big" one, came under fire in January from the BJP and women's bodies who dubbbed the remark as insensitive, insulting and shameful.

"This isn't such a big case. He (Kanda) appointed her (Geetika) as a servant by mistake," Sharma, a Congress leader, said referring to the Geetika suicide case while participating in jailed Kanda's birthday celebrations organised by his supporters in Sirsa on December 29. -- India Today

Pic: Main accused Gopal Kanda
18:21  Kanda case: Geetika's mother commits suicide:  The mother of Geetika Sharma, has committed suicide. Geetika, a 23-year-old former airhostess with MDLR Airlines committed suicide in August last year at her north Delhi's Ashok Vihar residence. She was found hanging at her second floor house by her parents.

Her former employer Gopal Kanda, also former Haryana minister of state for home and managing director of MDLR Group, tendered his resignation from the state council of ministers. Till earlier this month, he was Haryana's powerful minister in-charge of home affairs with the entire police force at his beck and call. Kanda is now in jail.

A non-bailable arrest warrant has been issued by a city court against one of main witnesses-cum-accused in the Geetika Sharma suicide case, HR executive Chanshiv Roop Singh, after the police failed to track him.
18:04  Is France's Valerie Trierweiler the new First Lady of fashion? See the pictures and be the judge.
17:59  Dont Say No When You Want to Say Yes:  Why those who decry the ordinance on sexual violence make no sense. Read
17:57  Superman vs. the Homophobe :  DC Comics has hired an anti-gay crusader to write the franchise's latest installment. Sujay Kumar on the outcry among fans -- and Clark Kent's surprisingly queer-friendly lifestyle. Read
17:57  The Double Agent Who Infiltrated Al Qaeda:  Even Obama knew the name of the Danish double agent who never got his due for helping lead U.S. drones to Anwar al-Awlaki. Now he's telling his own story. Read
17:50  Meteor shower injured toll climbs to 500:  The number of people reporting injuries from the meteor shower climbed to more than 500 by lunchtime, according to Vladimir Stepanov, of the National Center for Emergency Situations at the Russian Interior Ministry.
17:33  Govt issues showcause notice to AgustaWestland:  The government has initiated the process to cancel the AgustaWestland chopper deal after questions have been raised that the company bribed several middlemen, and also former Air Chief S P Tyagi to secure the sale of 12 helicopters for VVIP movement in India.

Under fire from all quarters for not probing allegations that have surfaced in the media for the last one year, The Centre today sent a showcause notice to AgustaWestland UK, asking them why the contract should not be cancelled.

All payments have already been stopped to the company. The Centre has sought Agusta's response in the next 7 days.
17:31  Guns everywhere in South Africa, but still unsafe:  It's surprising to learn that an Olympic athlete stands accused of murder, but there's nothing new about gun violence in South Africa. While the country's gun-related violent crime rate has dropped in the wake of 2000's Firearms Control Act, The Guardian reports that "many people say they live in fear of crime in South Africa, with Johannesburg still listed as one of the five most dangerous cities in the word, along with Mogadishu and New Orleans.'  Read
17:28  NCP criticises its minister for lavish wedding celebration:  A day after minister of state for urban development Bhaskar Jadhav held a grand celebration for his son and daughters wedding in Ratnagiri, the Nationalist Congress Party expressed its displeasure over the event hosted by their leader in the backdrop of the drought situation. Read
17:19  I'm such a sex symbol, preens Piers Morgan :  Piers Morgan believes that he is now a pin-up for both men and women, as he even gets underwear sent to him in the post.   In an exclusive interview with TV Magazine, the 47-year-old broadcaster revealed that his fame has attracted some unusual attention. 

"I've always been a huge sex symbol, so it comes as no surprise to me that I've now got a fan club from the opposite sex and the same sex as a matter of fact,' the Sun quoted him as saying. "I've had the odd pair of knickers sent to me. It's a perk of the job.  

"I even had one woman who was convinced she was my wife. She managed to get up 20 flights into my office and walked in to ask what I wanted for dinner tonight,' he said.   He said that he knows exactly why he receives the saucy gifts, and it's not because of his good looks.  

"Look, it's simple - however hideously ugly you are, as soon as you get on television you instantly get people wanting to make unbridled passionate love to you,' he said.
17:14  Pachnanda removed to send message to govt servants: Adhir:  Union minister Adhir Chowdhury today alleged that the ruling Trinamool Congress was "hand in glove" with the mafia and Kolkata police chief R K Pachnanda was removed to send a message to government servants that political masters should be obeyed.

"The transfer shows that either you follow the diktat of your political masters and ministers or suffer. The police will have to work according to whims and fancies of Trinamool ministers," Chowdhury, the minister of state for railways, alleged.

"Pachnanda was removed because he tried to curb the mafia raj in Garden Reach in which Trinamool leaders and ministers are involved," he alleged.
17:04  No excuses! Implement minority scholarship, HC tells Modi :  In a majority decision, the Gujarat High Court today rejected Narendra Modi government's contention that Centre's pre-matriculation scholarship scheme for students of minority community was discriminatory and directed it to implement it.

Out of the five judges of larger bench, three ruled in favour of the scheme, upholding its constitutional validity and said it cannot be equated with any kind of reservation, while two other judges ruled against it.

The judgement was pronounced today after hearing a bunch of PILs demanding that the state government should implement the scheme in Gujarat. The Modi government has not implemented the scheme, launched in the country in 2008, in the state saying that it is 'discriminatory' in nature.
16:46  How the chopper deal was done: Did a chance meeting at a wedding set the scene for Tyagis' Rs 87 crore bribe? Read more
16:42  Yeti exists, there's DNA proof:  So, yes, Yeti exists. While many people claim to have seen the Bigfoot, its existence has never been confirmed, except for a plethora of photos and footprints.  

But now, even the sternest non-believer is sure to be convinced of its existence, as scientific evidence has provided an abundance of persuasion with the latest DNA evidence, the Daily Express reported.  

A team of scientists -- including experts in genetics, forensics, imaging and pathology -- have published the results of a five-year study of more than 100 DNA samples, claimed to be from the elusive Sasquatch.
16:35  As per government regulations, it is mandatory to provide the Aadhaar card number for any Provident Fund transaction under the EPF scheme. Aadhaar numbers have to be given to PF authorities by the 1st week of June. 
16:31  What lessons have we learnt from the Afzal Guru episode?:  Now that we have a little bit of distance from the events surrounding Afzal Guru's hanging, what lessons have we learnt from the episode, asks Vir Sanghvi. Read
16:29  Manu Joseph, editor of Open magazine applies for the job of the Pope. Read
16:23  India asks Italy again: Who got chopper kickbacks? :  Update on the other big story: India makes fresh request to Italy for information on alleged kickbacks in supply of AgustaWestland's VVIP helicopters: Sources.

Also read: VVIP chopper scandal may hit Congress, derail Rafale deal
16:17  Pistorius slept with pistol, machine gun:  As a celebrity figure, South African Oscar "Blade Runner' Pistorius apparently felt more threatened than most. Arrested and charged for murdering his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp early on Valentine's Day, Pistorius allegedly kept multiple firearms in his bedroom.

In an interview with the Daily Mail last year, the Paralympic athlete said he slept with a pistol next to his bed and kept a machine gun by his window. Read
16:01  Nike's bullet ad with Pistorius backfires:  Tiger Woods' personal life went off the rails. Lance Armstrong's sporting image crashed in drugs. Both were sponsored by Nike in multi-million dollar deals.Now Nike is being reminded again that pinning your company reputation on star names is a risky business.

This time it's Oscar Pistorius whose life has moved from sports headlines to the news pages to cause headaches at Nike headquarters. Read
16:00  Pistorius killing girlfriend 'premeditated murder':  Prosecutors in South Africa to argue that Oscar Pistorius' killing of his girlfriend was premeditated murder.
15:54  Why Indian education needs to get back to reality:  What is the best advice to give an Indian education department official? This column argues that the best thing officials can do is drop the assumptions and stick to reality -- otherwise many children will be missed out and left behind.  Read
15:43  Prosecutors to pursue premeditated murder charge against Paralympic superstar Oscar Pistorius
15:41  Just in: A CBI team meets officials in Defence Ministry in connection with VVIP helicopter deal probe. 
15:36  Pistorius reckless with guns: ex-girlfriend's mum:  Yesterday, the mother of one of Oscar Pistorius' ex-girlfriends has posted a sensational comment on Facebook, suggesting Pistorius was dangerously reckless with firearms. Read
15:34  Charged with murder Pistorius weeps in court :  Just in: Paralympian Oscar Pistorius breaks down in court as he is formally charged with the murder of his South African girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. The "Blade Runner", a double amputee who became one of the biggest names in world athletics, was charged in a Pretoria court today. The global sports star broke down in tears as the prosecutor charged him with murder.

Child of God, Reeva Steenkamp

Jenna Edkins ‏@JennaEdkins: Lets get something straight I have dated Oscar on off for 5 YEARS, NOT ONCE has he EVER lifted a finger to me or made me fear for my life..  
Edkins is a former girlfriend of Pistorius.
15:19  Maharashtra may get new chief minister in March :  A change of guard in Maharashtra is now certain, say our sources in Delhi. Three names are doing the rounds to replace Prithviraj Chavan as chief minister of the state.

Dr Manmohan Singh wants Chavan, who used to serve as the Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, to be accommodated at the highest level, but there is no slot or seat vacant in the Rajya Sabha.

Then again, rumors are rife that Chavan may be be brought as General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee.

What happens depends on Sonia Gandhi's health - as she may be unable to concentrate on the implications of removal of Prithviraj Chavan from Maharashtra.

In all probability, Maharashtra may get a new chief minister soon after the Union Budget, as early as first week of March. 
15:08  DMK, NC promise to disrupt Pranab's Parl speech:  The Budget Session of Parliament will be convened from February 21 and the General Budget for the year 2013-14 will be presented on February 28. This is what you can expect...

Allies of the UPA -- the DMK and the National Conference -- have planned to raise slogans against what they perceive is the 'unacceptable attitude' of the UPA in not containing the Tamil massacre in Sri Lanka (that's the DMK's peeve) -- not informing Afzal Guru's family of his execution (that's obviously from the NC).

The two parties will raise the issues when President Pranab Mukherjee addresses the joint session of Parliament.

A senior Union Minister is in touch with the DMK leaders in Chennai to
impress upon them that the party should avoid raising slogans when the President addresses the joint session. 
14:51  Stand and deliver: Pranab's Budget speech is ready:  The draft speech of President Pranab Mukherjee to the joint session of Parliament was given a careful reading by the Union Cabinet yesterday. The Prime Minister had asked the Union Ministers with independent charge also to take part in the discussion, but many did not turn up.

This is how it is supposed to work. Ajit Seth, the Union Cabinet Secretary, will read out paragraphs and ministers will express their views. The Prime Minister wanted the speech not to be too brief, with approximately three to four  lines to focus on each of the ministries.

The draft speech contained 143 paragraphs, simplified to 110, but this would take at least an hour, so the PM asked Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ashwini Kumar to redo the President's speech since there were repetitions with last year's speech.

Today, the draft speech was submitted by the Cabinet Secretary to the President -- a courtesy that the Cabinet always shows the first citizen. The President's estate printing press will not only get it printed, but also circulate it to the Members of Parliament. The Hindi translation is done by the Secretariat of  Official languages.
14:24  Iran nuke issue: France wants India to convince Tehran:  French President Francois Hollande is set to reach Mumbai any time now.

Yesterday, Hollande who is in Delhi, asked India to "convince" its "close friend" Tehran to enter into serious negotiations and respect international obligations with regard to nuclear non-proliferation. Hollande also extended an olive branch to Iran during a public lecture in Delhi, saying the people of France also consider them as "friends" and urged the oil- rich nation to fulfil its obligations.

Calling India a "power of peace", Hollande strongly pitched for the country getting a full-fledged membership at the United Nations Security Council while observing that the security of the world needs India's presence.

Delivering the Madhavrao Scindia Memorial Lecture to a distinguished audience at the Nehru Memorial Library here, he lavished praise on Indian democracy, its secularism and its "most popular" cinema which is celebrating its 100th year. In his 25-minute speech during which he spoke at length about international and domestic issues, the French President asked India to use its friendship and influence with Iran to bring it to negotiating table on its controversial nuclear programme.
14:19  400 injured in spectacular meteor shower in Russia:  Reports conflicted on what exactly happened in the clear skies. A spokeswoman for the Emergency Ministry, Irina Rossius, told The Associated Press that there was a meteor shower, but another ministry spokeswoman, Elena Smirnikh, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying it was a single meteorite.

An amateur video broadcast on Russian television showed an object speeding across the sky about 9:20 am local time (0320 GMT), leaving a thick white contrail and an intense flash. Russian news reports noted that the meteor hit less than a day before the asteroid 2012 DA14 is to make the closest recorded pass of an asteroid -- about 28,000 kilometers. There was no immediate demonstrable connection.
14:18  The number of those injured in the meteor shower has gone up to 400, says PTI. 
14:12  A Chinese hacker's identity unmasked:  Joe Stewart's day starts at 6:30 am with a peanut butter sandwich, a sugar-free Red Bull, and 50,000 or so pieces of malware waiting in his e-mail in-box. Stewart, 42, is the director of malware research at Dell SecureWorks, a unit of Dell (DELL), and he spends his days hunting for Internet spies. Read
14:05  250 injured in spectacular meteor shower in Russia:  Update on the meteor shower in Russia.

At least 250 people have been injured after a meteor shower over central Russia blew out windows, interior ministry sources say.Brightly burning rocks could be seen for hundreds of kilometres as they crashed into the Ural region.Chelyabinsk residents reported shaking ground and car alarms being set off.The traces from falling objects could be seen in Yekaterinburg, about 200km (125 miles) north of Chelyabinsk, a witness told the Reuters news agency. -- BBC
14:04  Tight security for another big day at Kumbh:  Security has been tightened for another peak day at India's Kumbh Mela festival, days after a stampede killed 36 pilgrims at a railway station.Millions of Hindu ascetics and pilgrims are taking a dip at Sangam, the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers in Allahabad city.

At least 10 million pilgrims are due to bathe on Friday, one of the six main bathing days at the festival.The festival expects 100 million bathers in total across its 55 days. Read more
13:59  The Afzal Guru front page Kashmiris didn't see. Here you go.
13:54  Meteorite fall in Russia injures 100:  A meteor streaked across the sky over Russia's Ural Mountains on Friday morning, causing sharp explosions and reportedly injuring around 100 people. Fragments of the meteor fell in a thinly populated area of the Chelyabinsk region, the Emergency Ministry said in a statement. Interior Ministry spokesman Vadim Kolesnikov said 102 people had called for medical assistance following the incident, mostly for treatment of injuries from glass broken by the explosions. Kolsenikov also said about 6,000 square feet of a roof at a zinc factory had collapsed. -- Fox News.
13:51  Pakistan test fires N-capable Haft II missile :  Pakistan tests nuclear-capable Hatf-II missile with a range of 180 kilometers.  According to a press release issued by the Pakistan Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), Hatf II (Abdali) with a range of 180 km, carries nuclear as well as conventional warheads with high accuracy. The weapon system with its varied manoeuvrability options provides an operational level capability to Pakistan's Strategic Forces.
13:34  The Inconvenient Truth Of Soni Sori:  Why were two tribals framed by the Chhattisgarh police? Why are Soni Sori and Linga Kodopi being systematically silenced? This chilling story of one family reveals more about India's Naxal crisis than any official document can.

That's the story on Tehelka.
13:26  Custodial rape: The debate widens:  The Soni Sori case: Soni Sori, a mother of three and teacher in her forest village, was arrested in 2011, accused of aiding leftist rebels who are fighting a war against the Indian government in a wide swath of the country. Ms. Sori alleges that soon after her arrest, a police superintendent at the local police station ordered her stripped and junior officers inserted hard objects into her body until she blacked out from the pain. Read
13:11  Suryanelli rape: Absconding key convict held:  The key accused in the 1996 Suryanelli gang-rape case, SS Dharmarajan has been taken into custody. He has been absconding after he was granted bail in 2005. Dharmarajan had told a leading daily in Kerala that Rajya Sabha Chairman P J Kurien was involved in the case.

The protests in the state has placed the Congress Party in a moral dilemma. Protests were staged outside the Kerala Assembly demanding Kurien''s removal. The police had to fire teargas shells to quell the protests.

In an interview given Mathrubhumi News from an unknown location in Mysore, Dharmarajan revealed that on January 19, Kurien travelled to the Kumili guest house in his Ambassador car at about 6.30 pm from Vandiperiyar.

The Suryanelli rape case concerns a 16-year-old girl who was sexually harassed , assaulted and raped continuously for 40 days by 42 men in 1996.

13:04  Lovely read: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Mediocre People. Here you go.
12:56  Chetan Bhagat on Kai Po Che!:  Like him or hate him, like they say, you can't ignore him. Two of Chetan Bhagat's bestselling novels -- Five Point Someone and One Night @ the Call Center -- have already been adapted into blockbusting movies, so expectations are high for Kai Po Che!. Here's the interview with the bestselling author on the Wall Street Journal. Read
12:50  Pope Benedict: Will remain hidden to the world:  Given there hasn't been an ex-pope walking around on earth for nearly six centuries, plenty of people have been wondering what, exactly, Pope Benedict will do starting next month when he's no longer pope.

His answer to that question, offered today in what were his first public comments since his surprise announcement, suggests that he will cease being a public figure the moment his resignation is official. Here's Reuters with the details
12:23  Italian PM assures 'correct governance' of Finmeccanica:   In other news: Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti has said that his government would guarantee the "correct governance" of state-controlled defence firm Finmeccanica following arrest of its chief executive on corruption charges in the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP helicopter deal with India.

"The government was able to intervene with some measures to guarantee the correct governance of the company and the whole group," Monti said.

The prime minister had earlier promised to do "whatever necessary to clean up" Finmeccanica. He also assured that the prosecution would do its duty in the case of Finmeccanica's jailed ex-chief executive officer Giuseppe Orsi.
12:11  Indian troops kill Pak soldier who crossed LoC:   Indian troops kill Pakistani soldier who had crossed LoC in Nowshera sector to attack Indian post, says the Army.

The Pakistan Army has said that one of its soldiers had inadvertently crossed the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir and contact was being established with Indian authorities for his return.

The Pakistani soldier lost his way on Thursday afternoon and inadvertently crossed the LoC in Khoi Ratta sector, military officials said yesterday.

The Indian Army accedes Pakistan Army DGMO's request to return the body of the Pakistani soldier.
12:03  All the perfumes of Arabia:   People clamouring for Narendra Modi should realise the only policy which can take India on the path of progress is equal respect and treatment for all communities. Read
12:00  Wrestling with a shocker:  The Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has come up with a shocker by voting to recommend that wrestling be pushed off the Olympic mat in 2020. It is an unexpected, cruel blow to a sport that was part of the ancient Olympics and figured in the inaugural modern Games in 1896 and every subsequent edition except 1900. Read
11:58  Saving the Railways, for the aam aadmi:  The government must stop tinkering with this public service provider in the name of coalition dharma. There should be a freeze on adding passenger trains and the focus must shift to improving existing services. Read
11:54  Indian-American designer admits molesting model in NY court:   Indian-American fashion designer Anand Jon, facing a 59 years prison sentence in California for sexually abusing aspiring models, has pleaded guilty in a federal court here to molesting a woman whom he allegedly lured with promise of modelling work.

Jon admitted to one count of criminal sexual act in Manhattan Supreme Court yesterday and was sentenced to five years under a plea deal reached with federal prosecutors.

The Kerala-born celebrity fashion designer was arrested in 2007 in California on charges he preyed upon seven young aspiring models, some as young as 14 and sexually assaulted them. He is currently serving 59 years to life in prison in California.
11:54  Pistorius girlfriends ex hopes justice is served long, hard' :  Former boyfriend of model Reeva Steenkamp, who was allegedly shot dead by Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius on Thursday, has said he hopes justice is served long, hard and ice cold in world's worst prison.

Alan Taylor, who is a DJ and bar manager from Port Elizabeth, was in Thailand on holiday when he heard the news that Steenkamp had been shot dead at the Bladerunner's home in Pretoria, South Africa, the Daily Mail reports.

The pair were a couple for six months during Steenkamp's time as a law student and Taylor describes the model as a beautiful and a very intelligent person, who was easy on the eye as well was an amazing character, and who graduated amongst the top ten per cent of her class.
11:43  Middlemen paid Finmeccanica's India head monthly 'salary':  The Swiss-based middlemen linked to the alleged kickbacks paid in India for the VVIP chopper deal not only had partners in the Indian power circuit but also allegedly had the India head of Finmeccanica on a monthly payroll to help them with their work. Read
11:39  Saffron activists forcibly marry off couples on Valentine's Day:  Saffron activists forced young men and women who celebrated Valentine's Day to get "married" and held demonstrations in Andhra Pradesh.They forced young men marry their beloved when couples were spotted together in public places in Hyderabad and other parts of the state. At other places, Bajrang Dal, VHP and other saffron outfits held rallies condemning celebration of Valentine's Day. More
11:35  Govt shows Skyfall trail leads to Vajpayee:  The Union government today came out with a chronology of events leading to the choice of the AgustaWestland "Skyfall' VVIP chopper that shows that Atal Bihari Vajpayee's office had asked the Indian Air Force to change specifications following which the Anglo-Italian firm went on to win a euro 556-million (about Rs 3,550-crore) contract. Read
11:31  26/11 accused Lakhvi enjoys VVIP treatment in Pak jail:  It's not only the Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT) top boss Hafiz Saeed who roams freely in Pakistan, but even his next-in-command Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, imprisoned at Rawalpindi's Adiala Jail for his role in the 26/11 attacks, moves out of the prison from time to time to visit his family and friends.  Read
11:28  Pak Army says one of its soldiers inadvertently crossed LoC:  The Pakistan Army has said that one of its soldiers had inadvertently crossed the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir and contact was being established with Indian authorities for his return. Read
11:26  Rahul Gandhis Vadra test:  The true poison which lies at the core of power is the compulsion to take action, when necessary, against those who are dearest to you. Read the opinion piece on the Hindu. 
11:25  Chopper scandal: Antony took no action for 11 months:  The Rs 3,546-crore contract for 12 AW-101 helicopters, inked in February 2010, has emerged as a test case for defence minister A K Antony, who has built his entire political career on a reputation for honesty, government circles acknowledge. Read
11:17  President Pranab may turn down 5 more mercy pleas:  The Union home ministry is learnt to have recommended rejection of mercy petitions in five more cases as it seeks to speedily dispose of all the cases of death row convicts pending with it. Read
11:14  The Supreme Court has said that telecom firms which continued operation after cancellation of licences will pay a fee as per the reserved price fixed for a fresh auction in November 2012. Telecom firms whose licences were cancelled and didn't participate in a fresh auction for the 2G spectrum will cease to operate forthwith, says the SC. 

The Supreme Court clarifies its Feb 2, 2012 order that cancelling licences will not be applicable on telecom firms holding 900 MHZ band spectrum.
10:50  Terrorist Lakhvi living luxurious life in Pak jail:  
Zee News reports: Terror mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, who played a central role in the 26/11 terror attack splot, is leading a lavish lifestyle inside Rawalpindi's Adiala Jail, reports claimed on Friday. 

As per a newspaper, Lakhvi has all the freedom he wants, even though he is official under custody for his role in the Mumbai terror attacks. Apart from the Lashkar-e-Tayiba commander, six other Pakistani suspects charged with involvement in the Mumbai attacks. 

All seven have been charged with planning, financing and executing the terror attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people in November 2008. 

Lakhvi's cell is akin to a well appointed hotel suite with all luxurious facilities. Besides freely making calls to manage 'work', he meets a steady stream of visitors, most of them terror commanders, who meet him to seek orders and advice. 

His friends and family also frequently visit him with reports suggesting that Lakhvi had fathered a child during his incarceration in 2010 after prison authorities allowed his wife to visit him to perform conjugal rights. 
10:34  Pope suggests 'he will retire into seclusion':  
Pope Benedict XVI has suggested that he will withdraw into seclusion after stepping down at the end of February.

He told a meeting of Roman priests that even 'if he withdraws into prayer he will always be close to others, even if he remains hidden to the world.'

Pope Benedict made his remarks at the Vatican in what amounted to a farewell address to hundreds of priests who serve in the Diocese of Rome , the BBC reports.

The pontiff, 85, shocked the world's biggest Christian Church on Monday when he announced his resignation.
10:25  President Pranab to open Mughal Gardens Udyanotsav today:  
President Pranab Mukherjee will open the annual "Udyanotsav" of the Mughal Gardens of the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Friday.

The gardens will be open to the public from 12.30 pm on Friday till 4 pm.

Thereafter, the gardens will remain open for general public from February 16 to March 17, 2013 (except on Mondays which are maintenance days) between 10 am to 4 pm.

The entry and exit into the gardens for the general public will be from Gate No 35 of the President's Estate, which is located at the extreme end of the Church Road, 300 meters West of Cathedral Church and close to where North Avenue meets Rashtrapati Bhavan.

A floral wall of Dahlias more than eight feet in height can be seen encircling the Circular Garden. Different types of floral carpets, the designs of which are revised almost weekly can be seen during the entire period when Mughal Gardens is open for the public. Further, China Oranges at Mughal Gardens can be seen in great proliferation for the first time in many years.
10:23  Neem tree could hold promise for cancer patients:  
Neem tree, which has been used for centuries to treat inflammation, fever and malaria in India, could help kill cancer cells, according to scientists at the Georgia Regents University Cancer Center.

Cancer cells typically avoid death by hijacking molecular chaperones that guide and protect the proteins that ensure normal cellular function and then tricking them into helping mutated versions of those proteins stay alive, said Dr. Ahmed Chadli, a researcher in the Molecular Chaperone Program at the GRU Cancer Center and senior author of the study.

Drug development has focused on the chaperone Hsp90 (heat shock protein 90) because it plays a key role in assisting mutated proteins, making it an attractive cancer drug target.

However, the clinical efficacy of Hsp90 inhibitors has been disappointing. Most current small molecules targeting Hsp90 have inadvertently resulted in the expression of proteins that protect cancer cells from programmed cell death and compromise the Hsp90 inhibitors in the clinic.
10:02  Sensex down 39 points in early trade:  
The BSE benchmark Sensex on Friday fell over 39 points in early trade as selling by funds and retail investors amid a weak trend in global markets. 

The 30-share barometer fell by 39.26 points, or 0.20 per cent, to 19,457.92. The index had lost nearly 111 points on Thursday.

Stocks of realty, auto, banking and power sectors declined on increased selling.

Similarly, the wide-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty fell by 18.90 points, or 0.32 per cent, to 5,878.05. 

Brokers said a weak trend in the Asian trade, following overnight losses in the US market, dampened the trading sentiment here. Besides, lower-than-expected quarter earnings by some blue-chip companies also triggered selling, they said. 
09:30  Govt drags Pranab's name in VVIP chopper deal:  
In what may come as a major embarrassment for the Congress-led ruling coalition at the Centre, a factsheet prepared by the UPA government mentions President Pranab Mukherjee's name into the controversial AgustaWestland chopper deal with Italy. 

Reports, Friday, said that the deal with Italian defence firm Finmeccanica for supplying 12 choppers for the use of VVIPs was cleared during Pranab Mukherjees tenure as defence minister in 2005. 

The government's factsheet further states that the tender was finalised in 2005 when Pranab Mukherjee was the defence minister, and SP Tyagi, now retired, was the Air Chief Marshal. 

The factsheet also puts the blame on the BJP-led NDA government of involvement in the deal.

The Centre's factsheet alleges that in 2003, the then National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra wrote to the then defence secretary that the existing rules were unfair as it allowed only single bidding and that the qualifying height of the choppers should be reduced from 18,000 feet to at least 14,000 feet. 
09:01  2nd tragedy at Maha Kumbh; 1 dead in fire:  
CNN-IBN reports: A fire at the Maha Kumbh Mela left one dead and injured five others, hours before pilgrims gathered for the last Shahi Snan on Basant Panchami on Friday, just five days after the Allahabad railway station stampede. 

The holy city of Allahabad is gearing up for another major Shahi Snan - the third and last of the Maha Kumbh saw this second tragedy in less than a week.

Police and other officials have confirmed that the fire is under control now which was a result of a short circuit. 

Security has been tightened and special arrangements made for Friday's dip especially after last Sunday's tragedy. Around 31 special trains and 1500 additional buses are plying to manage the huge number of people gathering at Allahabad. Three permanent and seven temporary bus stands have also been put into place. 36 people had died and several others were injured in the stampede at the Allahabad railway station on February 10.
08:48  Chopper deal: Govt warns of blacklisting Italian firm:  
India has warned Italian firm Finmeccanica of legal action, including blacklisting, over corruption allegations in the VVIP chopper deal and asked them whether any slush money had been paid to fix the deal that has led to a political uproar. 

The Ministry of Defence issued a detailed statement on the sequence of the $750 million deal for 12 VVIP AgustaWestland helicopters by the Italian firm's subsidiary, two days after a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe was ordered into the bribery charges. 

The statement noted that the mandatory technical requirements of the chopper were changed in the tender during the Vajpayee government in 2003, with the then national security adviser Brajesh Mishra playing a key role. 

The Defence Ministry has asked the chief of AgustaWestland to "categorically state the clear position in view of the current developments indicating specifically if any financial transaction has taken place with any Indian individual/entity which would be violative of the integrity pact or any other terms and conditions of the contract".
08:45  Petrol prices may rise today:  
State-owned oil marketing companies are likely to announce an increase in petrol prices on Friday, though a decision on an increase in diesel price could be delayed for a few days, a top oil company official said.

"We will have a look at petrol price revision on Friday but diesel price review may have to wait a bit," a top oil company official, who did not wish to be identified, said.

Officials of the three OMCs -- Indian Oil, HPCL and BPCL -- will be meeting on Friday to take a call a revision.

"We (oil companies) have to take a call together. We do talk to each other at times. We will also consult on Friday. We consult almost on a daily basis. We cannot guess what decision will be taken," Indian Oil chairman R S Butola told media persons, on the sidelines of an annual Oil Industry Safety Directorate conference in New Delhi.

"Price hike will be taken care of by oil companies and not from the ministry side," Lakshmi Panabaka, MoS for Petroleum and Natural Gas, who also attended the event, said.
03:03  21 killed in terror attacks in northwest Pakistan:  

In a series of terror attacks targeting security forces, at least 21 people, including six militants and five security personnel, were killed and over 40 injured in Pakistan's restive northwest on Thursday.        


A suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden pick-up truck into a check post manned by policemen and Frontier Corps personnel in Hangu district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.        


Eleven people, including five security personnel and two children, were killed in the attack, officials said. Twenty-three injured people were taken to nearby hospitals. The blast created an eight-foot crater and the check post was destroyed.        


Authorities imposed curfew after the blast and additional security forces were sent to the area. The banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack.        


Earlier in the day, three persons were killed and nine more injured when a van was targeted with an improvised explosive device at Hasanzai Bazar in Orakzai Agency, one of Pakistan's seven semi-autonomous tribal districts.

03:01  Maradona names his new child after himself:  

Diego Maradona became a dad again for the fifth time yesterday at the age of 52 and he wasted no time in naming his newborn child after himself. His former lover Veronica Ojeda gave birth by caesarean to a boy called Diego Fernando shortly before midnight in a Buenos Aires hospital.


The World Cup winner was still in Dubai today where he works as a sports ambassador for the United Arab Emirates. It is not known when he will travel to Argentina to see his new son.


Read the full story on Daily Mail

02:57  Egyptian president to learn diplomatic etiquettes:  

A team of experts will train Egyptian president Mohammed Mursi in protocol and etiquettes after his ignorance of such matters caused huge embarrassment, in particular during his trips abroad.         


Leaks from the Egyptian presidency say current discussions are underway with the experts and firms specialised in protocol and etiquettes in order to recruit a team to train Mursi.         


The grave protocol mistakes Mursi made were the main topic for a famous satirical show watched by millions both inside and outside Egypt. Such mistakes included looking in his watch during the press conference with the German Chancellor, blowing his nose when meeting former US president Bill Clinton in addition to his very poor English language when meeting German investors in order to convince them to invest in Egypt.           


The team, when recruited, will be responsible for training the entire presidential team, including the news spokesperson Ayman Aly. The old spokesperson was replaced for his failure to address media in a manner satisfactory to the presidency.

02:56  Pope Benedict hints he will retire into seclusion:  

BBC: The outgoing head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, has hinted he will withdraw into seclusion after stepping down at the end of this month. "Even if I am withdrawing into prayer, I will always be close to all of you... even if I remain hidden to the world," he told a meeting of Roman priests.


The pontiff, 85, shocked the world's biggest Christian Church on Monday when he announced his resignation. He cited his advanced age as the reason for resigning. According to the Vatican's semi-official newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, the Pope took the decision to resign after his trip to Mexico and Cuba in 2012.


The Vatican confirmed on Thursday that Pope Benedict had hit his head during the March trip to Mexico, but denied the accident had any role in his decision.

01:56  Syrian rebels shoot down military warplanes :  

Al Jazeera: Syrian rebels have shot down two military warplanes over the northwestern province of Idlib, a monitoring group has said.Both jets were hit with fire from heavy machineguns while the air force was carrying out a series of raids in the area, much of which is under the control of the rebels, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Thursday.


The opposition fighters trying to oust President Bashar al-Assad also captured the town of Shadadah, near the Jbeysa oil field in hotly contested Hasaka province, according to Rami Abdul-Rahman, head of the Britain-based activist group.The oil field is in an energy-rich area along Syria's border with Iraq.

01:26  Eurozone sees recession deepen:  

The eurozone recession deepened in the final three months of 2012, official figures show. The economy of the 17 nations in the euro shrank by 0.6% in the fourth quarter, which was worse than forecast.


It is the sharpest contraction since the beginning of 2009 and marks the first time the region failed to grow in any quarter during a calendar year.


Read the full stoy on BBC

00:13  21 killed in terror attacks in northwest Pakistan:   In a series of terror attacks targeting security forces, at least 21 people, including six militants and five security personnel, were killed and over 40 injured in Pakistan's restive northwest today.

A suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden pick-up truck into a check post manned by policemen and Frontier Corps personnel in Hangu district of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

Eleven people, including five security personnel and two children, were killed in the attack, officials said. Twenty-three injured people were taken to nearby hospitals.

The blast created an eight-foot crater and the check post was destroyed. Authorities imposed curfew after the blast and additional security forces were sent to the area. The banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack.
00:12  Top headlines of the last 24 hours:  
Curfew reimposed in Kashmir

Thousands mark One Billion Rising campaign in Delhi

India, France conclude talks $6 bn SRSAM deal

Tripura sets national record of 93 pc voter turnout!

Can't do business without paying bribe: Ex-Italian PM

Army foils infiltration bid, one militant killed in JK

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