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February 26, 2013

22:55  Lankan army rebuts charges of rapes of Tamils :  PTI reports: Sri Lanka on Tuesday dismissed as "fabricated lies", a report by a leading rights group alleging that its military used rape and other forms of sexual violence to torture suspected Tamil rebels since the end of the island's civil war in 2009.

The 141-page report by New York-based Human Rights Watch titled 'We will teach you a lesson' has provided details of 75 cases of alleged rape and sexual abuse by Sri Lankan troops during the final military battle with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

It provides detailed accounts of the alleged rape and sexual abuse that occurred from 2006 to 2012 in both official and secret detention centres throughout Sri Lanka.
22:47  Oscar Pistorius to hold memorial for girlfriend :  South African star athlete Oscar Pistorius will  hold a private memorial service for his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his uncle's house in Pretoria tonight, reports Sky News.

He has been staying at his uncle Arnold's house since he was released on bail last Friday after being charged with the model's murder. His aides confirmed plans for a memorial service for the 29-year-old, who was shot dead while staying at Pistorius' luxury home, after details were leaked to the media, the report said.

Read the full report here

22:00  Italy election: Europe jitters over result deadlock:  

European politicians and markets have reacted anxiously after Italy's general election produced a stalemate between centre-right and centre-left blocs. France and Germany urged continued reform, while Spain described the result as a "jump to nowhere".


Italian markets fell sharply while others in Europe and around the world opened down. Centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi said fresh elections should be avoided, and called for a period of reflection.


Read more on BBC

22:00  NCP, DMK express displeasure at UPA meeting:  

NCP today expressed grave disappointment over the railway budget with its chief Sharad Pawar telling a meeting of the UPA coordination committee that Mumbai has been neglected, which is "not acceptable".   


The three-hour meeting also saw another ally DMK criticising the government for not taking a tough stand against Sri Lanka on the issue of ethnic Tamils, sources said.        


Hours after the railway budget was presented in the Lok Sabha, Pawar said the government has "totally neglected" the problems faced by 80 lakh commuters in Mumbai, the sources said.     


NCP told the meeting convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and attended by Congress President Sonia Gandhi among others that the "neglect is not acceptable". Gandhi is also the UPA chairperson.   DMK's T R Balu expressed unhappiness over the government not taking a tough stand on the Sri Lankan Tamil issue.        


The meeting also saw another UPA partner RLD raising the issue of division of Uttar Pradesh, prompting Pawar to pitch for a separate Telangana.

21:16  Another death due to swine flu in Delhi:  

Another person died of swine flu on Tuesday in the national capital and 34 new cases have been detected with the deadly H1N1 virus, taking the total number of cases this season to 834.         


The person, who was admitted to Deen Dayal Upadhyaya hospital in a critical condition, succumbed to swine flu on Tuesday, doctors said. With the death, the number of people succumbing to the virus went up to 12 this season. According to hospital sources, 34 fresh cases were reported today.         


Delhi government has designated 23 hospitals in the city for treatment of the ailment.         

20:57  Chinese Communist Party holds key meet:  

As China's Communist Party prepares to form a brand new government early next week, the new leadership of the ruling party today discussed composition of the Cabinet as well as the names of candidates for state leadership posts and restructuring of government departments.        


The three-day meeting of the Central Committee of the Party, which began today, discussed a list of candidates for state leadership positions, the state media reported.        


These names will be proposed to the national legislature -- the National People's Congress (NPC) -- which begins its annual session in the first week of next month.        


The name-lists were proposed by the Political Bureau of the 18th CPC Central Committee headed by the new leader of the Party, Xi Jinping. He will take over as President during the first annual session of the 12th NPC beginning on March 5, after the retirement of the outgoing leader Hu Jintao

20:56  JeM 'threat' to blow up Doon, Haridwar stations:  

Terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad today allegedly threatened to blow up major railway stations and places of religious and tourist interest in Uttarakhand in retaliation to the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, a senior police official said.  


The letter written purportedly by the Karachi-based area commander of terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad contains a threat to blow up Dehradun, Haridwar and Kath Godam rail junctions near Nainital and prominent places of religious and tourist interest like Har Ki Pauri in the holy city, Haridwar SSP Arun Mohan Joshi told PTI.    


"Though the authenticity of the threat and the origin of the letter is being examined, we are not taking any chances and have alerted the highest authorities in places mentioned in the letter", he said. Security around the places mentioned in the letter has been beefed up.

20:03  Jaitley CDR case: Alleged main conspirator in JC:  Private detective Anurag Singh,the alleged main conspirator arrested in connection with theattempt to access call details of BJP leader Arun Jaitley, wastoday remanded in judicial custody by a Delhi court.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vidya Prakash remandedSingh in judicial custody till March 6.

The other three accused -- constable Arvind Dabas, Neerajand Nitish -- are already in judicial custody. Anurag was also an accused in the Amar Singh phonetapping case along with three others.

He used to run a private detective agency V-Detect. His father is a retired DG (customs) while mother is acollector in customs.
20:01  Alert: Eastern Express highway congested, delay of 1 expected:  Because of a private bus being stalled at the Eastern Express highway, there is major congestion building up, going from Matunga to Mankhurd junctions.

Delayes up to 1 hour are expected. Commuters are advised to use alternate routes such as the V N Purav Marg to reach vashi and LBS Road to reach Ghatkopar.
19:43  Yahoo chief bans working from home:  NDTV reports: Since Marissa Mayer became chief executive of Yahoo, she has been working hard to get the Internet pioneer off its deathbed and make it an innovator once again.

She started with free food and new smartphones for every employee, borrowing from the playbook of Google, her employer until last year. Now, though, Yahoo has made a surprise move abolishing its work-at-home policy and ordering everyone to work in the office.

Read the full story here
18:46  Crackdown on babe-watch tourists in Goa :  Goa tourism department has begun a crack down on photographers who create nuisance for tourists at the beaches. A senior tourism department official said that they have started booking photographers creating problems for the visitors under Tourism Trade Act. The photographers are usually found on the Goa beaches clicking pictures of the tourists.
18:40  It's elementary: Hotel Watson:  An exclusive address of Bombay's British days is on its way to dilapidation. Visit Hotel Watson 
18:30  Bomb hoax on Patna-bound IndiGo flight:  A phone call to police claiming that a bomb has been planted on a Patna-bound IndiGo flight sent authorities at IGI airport here into a tizzy but it turned out to be a hoax allegedly by a passenger who was running late to catch the plane. According to sources, the Delhi Police control room received a call at around noon, saying there is a bomb on Patna-bound IndiGo flight (6E-178). The flight, with 138 passengers, was scheduled to take- off at 12.15 pm.

Remember the bomb hoax call in Delhi yesterday? Read
18:21  Bad sleep 'dramatically' alters body:  Heart disease, diabetes, obesity and poor brain function have all been linked to substandard sleep. Read
18:17  Why is poverty declining so slowly in India?:  Job creation in the non-farm sectors whether for skilled or unskilled jobs is crucial for poverty reduction in India. Read
18:07  Why India remains top of remittances league:  Indians working abroad continue to send more money home than their counterparts from other countries. Read
17:59  Pope will now be called Pontiff Emeritus: Vatican:  Pope Benedict XVI will keep the title "his holiness" once he retires and will be called "pontiff emeritus," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told reporters at the Vatican on Tuesday.Benedict surprised the world when he announced earlier this month that he would retire effective this Thursday.The Catholic Church's cardinals will meet at the Vatican to elect a successor. The election is expected to start in March, though the exact date isn't yet known.-- CNN
17:40  Govt blinks: NCTC may be placed outside IB:   The government has agreed to withdraw two contentious clauses from the National Counter Terrorism Centre, reports CNN IBN. The MHA says the NCTC will not have the power to arrest before informing the states and the state DGP will be informed before any operation by the NCTC. The NCTC will be placed outside the Intelligence Bureau. The Cabinet Committee on security will take up issue in its next meeting. Details awaited.

Opposition parties have argued that placing NCTC under IB is tantamount to arming a secretive wing of the state - often seen to be engaged in snooping on the government's opponents - with even more powers.

Also read: NCTC is not an anti-terror magic wand
17:31  Why Hyderabad blast investigations are doomed to fail:  In a grotesque replay of every investigation that follows a bomb blast, prejudice, misinformation and media blitz rules the direction of Dilsukh Nagar bombings investigation too. The same suspects and shadowy organizations are being paraded as executors of the Hyderabad bombings. But should we be surprised?  Read
17:16  Campaign to reward homeless man who returned diamond ring:  An internet campaign to raise money for a homeless man who returned a diamond engagement ring to a woman after it fell into his cup has so far raised nearly $150,000. Read the heartwarming story.
17:12  Sri Lanka security forces rape, torture Tamil detainees:   Sri Lanka's security forces have used rape to torture and extract confessions from suspected Tamil separatists almost four years after the country's civil war ended, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report on Tuesday. The rights group documented 75 cases of predominately Tamil men and women who said they were held in Sri Lankan detention centres and repeatedly raped and sexually abused by the military, police and intelligence officials. Read
17:08  Army man killed in Manipur bomb blast, two injured:  An army jawan was killed and two others were seriously injured when a powerful bomb, allegedly planted by insurgents, exploded in Manipur's interior Churachandpur district bordering Myanmar and Mizoram this morning.

Official sources said personnel of 11 Gorkha Rifles were on patrol duty when the bomb, which was attached to a culvert, exploded at around 6.40 am killing a jawan on the spot and injuring two others seriously.

It was not immediately known whether the suspected insurgents used remote-controlled device or a timer. The place of occurance is about 6 km from Churachandpur police station and about 50 km south of the state capital, the sources said.
17:06  DC Comics to kill off Batman's latest Robin:  Batman's sidekick, Robin the Boy Wonder, will die battling a brutal enemy in a comic to be published on Wednesday. The shocking death of the Dark Knight's aide-de-camp will first appear in issue No 8 of the offshoot title Batman Incorporated but the aftermath of his demise will ripple throughout the DC Comics universe, the publisher confirmed exclusively to The New York Post.
Writer Grant Morrison told Fox News that Robin saves the world and dies an absolute hero.
17:02  HC notice to police on Kobad Ghandy's bail plea:  The Delhi High Court today sought response from the Delhi Police on the bail plea of alleged Naxal leader Kobad Ghandy, facing trial under the anti-terror law, on medical ground. Seeking the court to consider his plea "sympathetically", 65-year-old Ghandy said due to his old age and medical problems including heart ailment and arthritis, he may be granted bail.

Ghandy is being tried for offences under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and also charges of impersonation, cheating and forgery under various sections of the IPC.

An alumni of the prestigious Doon School, Ghandy was said to be part of the top leadership of erstwhile CPI-ML (People's War Group) from 1981 and allegedly continued as a Central Committee member in CPI (Maoist) and was elected to its Politburo in 2007.
16:55  Ex-wife of Cannibal Cop testifies in court :  Former New York police officer Gilberto Valle is accused of conspiracy to kidnap and using police databases to make a list of targets he wanted to kill and cannibalise. Read
16:49  Economic Survey to prescribe steps to arrest declining growth:  The Economic Survey to be tabled in Parliament tomorrow is likely to suggest a series of steps to arrest the declining GDP growth, which is estimated to be at the decade-low of 5 per cent in the current fiscal. Prepared by a team of economists, led by Chief Economic Advisor Raghuram Rajan, the Survey is likely to make a strong case for accelerating economic reforms to neutralise domestic and global factors which have stymied growth.

As the official assessment of the country's economy, the Survey is customarily tabled in Parliament by Finance Minister ahead of the General Budget. The document is viewed as being important because it prescribes steps for the government to deal with various economic problems, leaving the onus of taking hard decisions on the government.
16:46  Titagarh Wagons' French success:  Also on Forbes: How Titagarh Wagons acquired France's sinking Arbel Fauvet Rail in 2010 and turned it around. Read more 
16:41  Forbes calls the bluff on ethical hacker Ankit Fadia. Read
16:38  Suryanelli rape: Govt defends Kurien in Rajya Sabha:  The government today defended Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien, who has been under attack in connection with the Suryanelli rape issue, with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath saying that police inquiries and courts have cleared him of all charges.

"A section of media and some political members have sought to drag Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Kurien in a rape case. It has emphatically been stated that he has never been accused in the Suryanelli rape case," Nath said making a statement the Rajya Sabha.

When the Minister rose to defend Kurien, CPI(M) members staged a walkout, with its senior leader Sitaram Yechury saying Kurien should defend himself. "Let him (Kurien) come and defend. We cannot accept the executive defend the officer of legislature and undermine the sanctity of the Constitution," Yechury said. Nath insisted that he was making statement upon direction by the Chair.
16:34  TRAI seeks industry view to reduce roaming call and SMS rates:  Telecom regulator TRAI has floated a consultation paper to bring down the rates of mobile calls and SMSes that are currently charged from a customer on availing roaming facility.

Among various options to reduce or remove additional cost burden on roaming customers, TRAI has proposed a new norm -- Home Price Rule -- wherein a mobile subscriber should be charged the same amount that he pays when he is not roaming.

As per Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, mobile phone customers on roaming are generally charged Re 1 for outgoing local call, Rs 1.5 for outgoing STD call and Re 1 for incoming call on per minute basis. For each outgoing SMS, customers are generally charged Rs 1.5.
16:27  India forced to withdraw from hockey tournament:  Five-time champions India were on Tuesday forced to withdraw from next month's prestigious Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament after the Sports Authority of India refused to bear the travel expenditure of the national team.

According to reliable source in Hockey India, SAI DG Gopal Krishan has refused to clear the airfare of the team, citing inflated budget. Malaysia is hosting the tournament.

"We have withdrawn the national team from the Azlan Shah Cup after the government refused to bear the to and fro airfares stating that we have exceeded the budget," a reliable source told PTI on conditions of anonymity.

"It is an unfortunate incident as it is the SAI who has given us the go-ahead to hold the national camp for this tournament here. And now they are saying no. "It is demoralising for the players. The government just had to bear the airfares as all other expenditures, including lodging and food during the tournament were supposed to be taken care by the local organisers," he said.
16:18  Inauguration style: Psy greets South Korea's first female President. Watch
16:16  The madness of Daniel Day-Lewis :  A unique method that has led to a deserved third for Daniel Day-Lewis, earning him unprecedented honours at the Oscars. Read
16:11  Rajya Sabha approves President's proclamation imposing President's rule in Jharkhand under Article 356, says a tweet from PRS Legislative.
15:56  Tamil Nadu only state to regulate sale of acid:  A huge step in the right direction from Tamil Nadu.

Against the backdrop of acid attacks that claimed the lives of two young women, Tamil Nadu Government today said it will take steps to control and regulate sale of the chemical.

"A Bill (in this regard) will be moved during the coming Budget session of the state Assembly and adopted," Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa said in a statement here.

Condoling the death of a 20 year-old city woman, who on February 24 succumbed to burns sustained in an acid attack by a man last month, she announced a relief of Rs 2 lakh from the Chief Minister's General Relief Fund to the family of the deceased.

The death of two victims of acid attacks in the past fortnight has triggered calls for checking easy availability of acid with even the Madras High Court moved for a ban on over-the-counter sale. The court yesterday issued notice to the Central and state governments.
15:52  Meru cabs try and get passenger friendly:  Meru Cab, a radio cab service provider, has upgraded its mobile website, to the HTML 5 version, making cab bookings simpler and quicker for customers on the go. What this means for you is that the website is optimized for touch screens and enables cab bookings directly and quickly from Smartphones. Your trip details -- address, details of past five trips, regular pick-up or drop addresses -- can be saved in My Favourites. Then there's the 'Track your cab' feature which enables customers who have received a booking confirmation, to track the proximity of the cab through a map on the website and keep a check on the arrival time.

Great going, only thing Meru needs to work on is not cancelling bookings at the last minute.
15:29  Thx, tweetable, dumbphone now in Oxford Dictionary:  Lexicographers have added a fresh round of tech jargon such as "thx" to Oxford's online English dictionary. Some of the latest additions by the Oxford Dictionaries include familiar words such as "tweetable" and "social sharing," referring to people's growing need to post every piece of daily trivia to the Internet. Other words like "dumbphone," and "touchles" have also made it to the dictionary, the 'TechNewsDaily' reported.

According to Oxford, "touchles" refers to gesture-control devices such as Microsoft's Kinect gaming accessory that uses a camera to interpret body motions for game-play. Still other entries might have people turning to Oxford on-line to check definitions. "Cruft," a new addition means badly designed or unwanted software.
15:27  I want to relax, says Best Actress Oscar winner :  Jennifer Lawrence, who won the best actress Oscar for her performance in "Silver Linings Playbook", says she wants to celebrate her win by relaxing. "I see my couch. I see TV. I see a bottle of wine," she said.

Lawrence had recently said she prefers staying at home rather than having wild nights out, reported Contactmusic. "I don't like going out that much. I am kind of an old lady. After it's 11 p.m., I am like, 'Don't these kids ever get tired?' When I am out, I think about my couch." The 22-year-old doesn't have much time to unwind as she is due film more scenes for her upcoming movie "Catching Fire", a sequel to "Hunger Games
15:27  My neigbour is a slumdog, say Mumbai millionaires:  Thanks to Mumbai's land reform act, the very rich and very poor have become next-door neighbors. Read
15:19  Impossibly adorable photos of baby clouded leopards. See
15:10  And the Oscar goes to India... :  India's bonafide Oscar hope -- Bombay Jayashri's nomination for Best Song -- was as some media put it 'dashed' when she lost out to Adele. Never mind, we can all get ourselves a slice of Pi. Read
15:06  Lock me up and throw away the key:  The jail where you'd want to be locked up: Notorious prison is transformed into luxury hotel (and guests still sleep in the cells). See the pictures.
14:51  Hyd blast: NIA seeks custody of suspected IM operatives:  The NIA has moved a Delhi court seeking custody of two alleged operatives of banned terror outfit Indian Mujahideen to interrogate them in connection with the twin blasts in Hyderabad which claimed 16 lives.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) moved a plea before District Judge I S Mehta, who issued production warrants for tomorrow against Syed Maqbool and Imran Khan. The two are lodged in Tihar Jail under judicial custody after being arrested by the Special Cell of Delhi Police in connection with the August 2012 Pune blasts.

The court has directed the Tihar Jail authorities to produce both the alleged IM operatives before it tomorrow when it will hear the NIA's plea seeking their custodial interrogation.
14:45  From Hyderabad, a tale of two snack bars:   On Thursday, when Bakka Reddy, 23, was busy at work at Mirchi Point, a snack bar near Venkatadri Theater in Dilsukh Nagar, he heard an explosion.It was a homemade bomb that had been tied to a bicycle parked near Konark Theater. Just two minutes later, a bomb went off in front of his shop. Read
14:19  Another take on the Onion's C-word tweet on Quvenzhane Wallis. Why The Onion's C-Word Tweet Was Well-Intentioned -- But Wrong. Read
14:11  Onion apologises for humorless, sick tweet on Quvenzhane:  Satirical website the Onion has apologised to nine-year-old Oscar nominated actress Quvenzhane Wallis after disparaging the 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' star with a tweet that generated outrage. The tweet read, in part, "Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but that Quvenzhane Wallis is..." and then referred to her by a crude obscenity.

The backlash to the brief message happened quickly, and within an hour the Onion, known primarily for its smart, satirical take on pop culture, removed the offensive tweet from its feed, reported Los Angeles Times.

They issued a full apology to both Wallis and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, promising readers that the site will institute stricter guidelines for its Twitter feed and will discipline the people involved with the message. "No person should be subjected to such a senseless, humorless comment masquerading as satire. Miss Wallis, you are young and talented and deserve better. All of us at The Onion are deeply sorry," wrote Onion Chief Executive Steve Hannah.  More
14:05  Maha CM on women's safety: Strict laws not enough:  Strict laws alone are not enough to tackle crimes against women, there is a need for change in society's perception for their better safety and security, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithiviraj Chavan has said.

"A change in mindset towards women in the society is needed. Merely making stringent laws to deal with offences against women will not be sufficient," Chavan said in Nagpur last night.

"Women are no longer lagging behind in any field - be it education or services, he said. Girls have been outshining boys in academic results and are securing top positions, he mentioned.

"The UPA at the Centre and the Maharashtra government were committed to women empowerment, he assured, adding that 50 percent reservation for women have been made in local bodies elections. Chavan said.

Now, where have we hear this before?
13:54  Is Mamata a victim of perception?:  Chief ministers are assessed by popularity, performance and perception. That third attribute is decidedly subjective and slippery. Often, it amounts to how newspapers, news channels and the broader media ecosystem look upon an individual. If perception were all there was to public life, Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of West Bengal, would long have been history. Read Ashok Malik's column on the Hindustan Times.
13:44  BJP terms Rail budget as Rae Bareli budget; says NDA-ruled states ignored.
13:43  As Bansal promises safety, train mows down kids:  The accident occurred at the Central Railway's Gulabganj railway station, about 20 km from here, after a wrong announcement was allegedly made about the train.

The railway station has no foot overbridge, because of which people cross the tracks to reach the station.

This morning, at the station an announcement was made for a train leaving on the up line. Hearing the announcement, some people, including the children, tried to cross the down line by crawling under a goods train which was stationed there. However, the station master wrongly issued a green signal for the goods train, which suddenly started moving crushing the two children under it to death, railway police said. The children - Mohammad Ali (5) and his eight-year-old sister, whose name was yet to be ascertained - died on the spot.
13:40  As Bansal promises safety, train mows down kids:  Even as Railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal is presenting the budget in Parliament, a railway employee was lynched by a mob at Gulabganj railway station in Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh. Two other employees were also injured. The mob gheraoed the station after two children were mowed down by a goods train at the station. The angry crowd also set fire to property at the station. 
12:56  And Asia's best restaurants are...:  Seven restaurants in India have featured in the famed Pellegrino list of Asia's best restaurants. They are as follows. The numbers indicate the rankings. 17 Dum Pukht (New Delhi) 20. Wasabi by Morimoto (Mumbai) 26. Bukhara (New Delhi) 28. Indigo (Mumbai) 30. Varq (New Delhi) 41. Indian Accent (New Delhi) 44. Karavalli (Bangalore, India).  More
12:49  Riding India's raliways:   "My journey on the great railways of India began on October 23, 2012. The trip not only marked my first visit to India, it was also the first time that I had ever travelled on real trains because my home country, Nepal, does not have a proper rail network." Read the piece on the WSJ. Simplistic, but some nice pictures...
12:41  Highlights of the rail budget :  Union Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal presented the Railway Budget proposals for fiscal 2013-14 in the Lok Sabha.

The highlights are as follows:

Indian Railways needs to raise an additional Rs.95000 crore over the next four years

Railway network needs to be expanded at a faster rate

The number of passenger trains has increased from 8000 in 2001 to over 12000 in 2012 - yet losses continue to mount. It is estimated to be Rs 24,000 crore in 2012-13

Anti-collision device needs to be put through rigorous trials

Strive to work towards a zero accident record

17 railway specific bridges sanctioned for rehabilitation

Enhancement of track capacity and Train Protection Warning Systems (TPWS)

Indigenously developed collision avoidance system to be put to trial

Induction of self-propelled accident relief trains along with fast and reliable disaster management systems

10 per cent reservation in Railway Protection Force (RPF) reserved for women

Four companies of women RPF personnel already set up, another in the offing

Additional Rail Neer mineral water bottling plants being set up, free wi-fi on select trains

179 escalators, 400 lifts to be operational at key stations, mechanised laundry cleaning in the offing

UID-Aadhar to be used for ticketing, reservation as well as managing and monitoring staff payrolls, pensions etc
12:38  Hot air balloon crashes in Egypt, 19 tourists dead:  Nineteen tourists, some of them British and French, are reported to have died in a hot air balloon crash near the southern Egyptian city of Luxor. A fire and explosion was heard before the balloon plunged onto fields west of Luxor, a security official was quoted by the Associated Press as saying. An AP reporter at the scene said he counted eight bodies.Luxor lies on the banks of the River Nile and is home to some of Egypt's most famous pharaonic-era ruins.-- BBC
12:35  Award-winning writer Stephen Fry tweets: Landed in Mumbai/Bombay. If we call it Mumbai then the film product ought really to be called Mollywood, no?
12:28  What really happens at Lit Fests:  What the Dalai Lama, Glenlivet whisky, and the growing significance of caste politics  tell us about Indian politics and society.  Read
12:20  The ecological argument against the Ram Setu :  Science and discourses claiming the authority of Science routinely make their appearance in order to settle contentious issues in the domain of politics. The invocation of Science is meant to establish the truth of one position over another, even when, as often happens, conflicting views are expressed by different sets of experts all claiming the authority of Science. The Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project is a recent example. Read
12:16  Rail minister presents budget:  Railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal begins presenting the railway budget for 2013. Begins with a poem. Details shortly...

Meanwhile, read: A look at India's top 10 railway routes.
12:06  Beyond Zero Dark Thirty Oscars fail: Torture is ineffective :  Academy-Award nominated film 'Zero Dark Thirty' has more issues than its disappointing Oscar showing. Based on interviews with military interrogators, the movie's portrayal of torture as effective -- even vital to getting Osama bin Laden -- couldn't be further from the truth. Read.
12:03  Bansal's wife for safety and security of woman passengers:  Madhu Bansal, the wife of Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, on Tuesday said that a helpline number should be available for the safety and security of woman passengers in trains so that they can use it in times of emergency.

"I have said that a helpline number should be available for the safety and security of woman so that they can use it in times of emergency. There is a need to bring about improvement, cleanliness should be maintained and good quality of food should be provided," said Madhu.

"Many people say that rail fares should not increase and I also want that rail fares should not increase," she added.
12:00  50 unseen Rudyard Kipling poems discovered:  Scholar unearths trove of unpublished work by poet voted Britain's favourite. Read
11:47  Is this Freddie Mercury's final resting place? :  For 21 years, fans wanting to pay their respects at Freddie Mercury's last resting place have had nowhere to go.

The singer was cremated after he died of Aids in 1991 but the whereabouts of his ashes remained unknown.Now fans believe a plaque spotted at a West London cemetery over the weekend could solve the mystery. Read more.
11:44  US parents oppose 'religious' yoga in schools:  More and more children in the U.S. are learning yoga in schools and studios, with teachers saying it can help them relax and focus while improving their flexibility and motor skills.
But yogas growing popularity has also stirred controversy, as some see it not just as exercise but as a form of worship that goes against their religious beliefs. Read
11:38  Iran photoshops Michelle Obamas 'revealing' dress:   An Iranian news agency has digitally altered an image of US First Lady Michelle Obama announcing the Oscar in a bid to make her look more modest.   Michelle wore a sleeveless and low cut dress by Naeem Khan, as she announced the Oscar for Best Picture last night.

But Iran's Fars manipulated the photo to cover her chest and shoulders, Politico reports.  

The photo manipulation was first reported by the blog Persian Letters. It said that Fars, which is affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), noted that it was unusual that Michelle had announced this year's award for Best Picture, which went to what it called the "controversial and anti-Iranian' film "Argo.'
11:37  Nixon supported Pak in 1971 war because he disliked Indira:  As he asked his administration to support Pakistan against India in the 1971 war, the then US President Richard Nixon had faced a virtual revolt from his diplomats with the entire State Department team based in Dhaka writing the so-called Blood telegram, which was supported by Secretary of State William Rogers, a new book has claimed.  Read
11:33  Hyderabad blasts: Footage to focus on room 303:  Update on the Hyderabad blasts: A group who checked separately into a lodge near one of the Hyderabad blast sites has not been accounted for, prompting investigators scanning CCTV footage to intensify efforts to track them down.Based on the footage that showed the movement of people from the lodge behind a bus shelter, the sleuths tried to verify the antecedents of occupants who had stayed there in the run-up to the blasts on February 21. Read
11:31  Free food, but Yahoo abolishes work-from-home policy:  Since Marissa Mayer became chief executive of Yahoo, she has been working hard to get the Internet pioneer off its deathbed and make it an innovator once again. She started with free food and new smartphones for every employee, borrowing from the playbook of Google, her employer until last year. Now, though, Yahoo has made a surprise move: abolishing its work-at-home policy and ordering everyone to work in the office. More
11:22  Does India need a separate rail budget?:  India's separate rail budget, a leftover from the 1920s, has become more of a political exercise than a financial necessity, say a rising number of economists and logistics specialists who suggest that it should now be folded into the federal budget itself. Read
11:12  Delhi voted most unsafe metro city for women:   Information we are all aware of, but reinforced by a poll.

Delhi has been voted as the most unsafe metro city in the country by women travelling alone for leisure, business or both, a recent survey has found.Mumbai was rated as the safest metropolitan city by a majority of respondents (34 per cent), while Ahmedabad and Bangalore were voted second with 12 per cent votes each. More

Also read: Delhi: Woman resists molestation, killed in public glare
10:59  For Bansal, its pragmatism vs populism:  So, will the rail budget hike passenger fares? That and more should be known over the next couple of hours as rail minister Pawan Kumar Bansal is set to present the budget.

Bansal spent a quiet day at Rail Bhawan yesterday, polishing his maiden budget that is almost certain to be guarded in its populism while leaning towards pragmatism and fiscal prudence.

The rail budget to be presented by Bansal, the first by a Congressman in 17 years, is expected to mark a sharp departure from his predecessors like Mamata Banerjee and Lalu Prasad who rode high on "populist" agendas.

10:52  Exclusive: 'Railways is an orphan seeking attention':  Former minister for Railways Dinesh Trivedi speaks exclusively to on a day when the Railway Budget will be presented in Parliament.Trivedi speaks about the state of the Indian Railways, the challenges ahead and its pan-Indian identity. Read

Remember the fiasco over Dinesh Trivedi's maiden budget last year? Read: The real reason why Mamata sacked Trivedi

10:17  1984 riots case: CBI to make final arguments today:  
Twenty-nine years after the gruesome 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi, the Central Bureau of Investigation is expected, Tuesday, to make final arguments in the case against Congress leader Sajjan Kumar. 

The hearing is expected to conclude tomorrow, the CBI had commenced final arguments in the case in March, last year. Sajjan Kumar is facing trial for his alleged role in instigating the mob to kill Sikhs after the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984. 

During the last hearing, the trial court had slammed the CBI, saying if the agency failed to conclude its arguments in the next hearing, the court would be forced to go ahead and deliver its order. 

Sajjan Kumar is facing trial along with five others - Balwan Khokkar, Kishan Khokkar, Mahender Yadav, Girdhari Lal and Captain Bhagmal -- for allegedly inciting a mob against the Sikh community in Delhi Cantonment area. 

The Delhi High Court in February 2010 had ordered quick disposal of all pending 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases, including that of Congress leaders Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler, and had said that they should be concluded within six months in the lower courts. 
09:48  Sensex falls over 75 points ahead of Railway Budget:  
The BSE benchmark Sensex fell over 75 points in early trade today, as funds and retail investors booked profits ahead of the railway budget amid a weak Asian trend. 

The 30-share index fell by 75.34 points, or 0.39 per cent, to 19,256.35, with auto, metal and oil and gas sector stocks coming under pressure. The index had gained 14.68 points in the previous session. 

Similarly, the wide-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty shed 28.75 points, or 0.49 per cent, to 5,826. 

Brokers said besides profit-booking by participants ahead of the railway budget, a weak trend on Asian bourses mainly influenced the sentiment. 

In the Asian region, Japan's Nikkei Index was down 1.83 per cent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index shed 0.79 per cent in the early trade. The US Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 1.55 per cent lower yesterday. 
09:17  PM, Sonia to meet allies after Railway Budget:  
CNN-IBN reports: Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal will be the first Congress minister in 17 years to announce the Railway Budget on Tuesday and indications are that rail fares are likely to go up in line with the fuel price hike.

The fare hike is most likely to upset the Opposition, who has been protesting against price rise. 

Hoping to tackle that smoothly, the UPA will hold a Coordination Committee meet after the Railway Budget on Tuesday to finalise its strategy in Parliament.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be hearing out alliance partners at the meeting.
09:14  Rajat Gupta told to pay $6.22 mn to Goldman Sachs:  
A federal judge on Monday ordered former Goldman Sachs Group Inc director Rajat Gupta to reimburse $6.22 million to help the Wall Street bank cover its legal expenses related to his criminal insider trading case.

Goldman had sought to recover $6.91 million, and US District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan said the bank had proved it was entitled to 90 per cent of what it requested.

Gupta, 64, is appealing his June 15, 2012 conviction and two-year prison term for feeding confidential information he had learned at Goldman board meetings to Raj Rajaratnam, the Galleon Group hedge fund manager and former billionaire.

Rajaratnam has been a central figure in a multi-year US government crackdown on insider trading. Gupta is a former global managing director of the consulting firm McKinsey & Co, and is the highest corporate executive convicted in the probe.

Jurors found Gupta guilty of leaks during the second half of 2008, including news related to a crucial $5 billion investment in Goldman by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc at the height of the global financial crisis.
09:10  Is govt's case against Vedanta weakening?:  
Last week, the ministry of environment and Forests filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court in the ongoing Vedanta case, saying the government and not the forest dwellers will have the final say in diversion of forestland for mining projects.

Though the affidavit reiterated that Vedanta would not be allowed to undertake bauxite mining in Niyamgiri hills in Odisha's Kalahandi district, it may have weakened the government's case against the global mining giant.

When the case was taken up for hearing by the apex court on February 19, counsels of the Orissa Mining Corporation (OMCL) and Sterlite Industries, the Indian arm of Vedanta, strongly countered MoEF's stance in the affidavit that the mining project cannot be allowed because it will violate the fundamental rights of the Dongria Kondhs, a particularly vulnerable tribe that protects and worships the Niyamgiri hills and its forests.

The counsels said that the right to worship does not provide rights over the place of worship and that the state can acquire it in public interest.

The state-run OMCL and Sterlite Industries had proposed to mine bauxite from the Niyamgiri hills for Vedanta's alumina refinery in nearby Lanjigarh.

The forest clearance for the project was, however, rejected by the then environment minister Jairam Ramesh on the grounds that it violated provisions of the Forest Conservation Act (FCA), Environment Protection Act (EPA) and the Forest Rights Act.

Click HERE to
09:10  Economists want higher taxes, lower deficit:  
With a few days left for the next Union Budget, some senior economists suggested a higher income-tax rate for those earning Rs 15 lakh and above a year and an increase in service and excise duty, to help the government stick to its fiscal consolidation path.

The priority for the Central government is to cut fiscal deficit to 4.8 per cent of gross domestic product in the next financial year from 5.3 per cent pegged for 2012-13, said economist Shankar Acharya.

He suggested raising the personal income tax rate for those who earn Rs 15 lakh annually and above. Acharya also prescribed raising the excise and service tax from the current 12 per cent and moving various concessional rates in excise towards a higher central value-added tax rate.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram will present the Budget for the next financial year in Parliament on Thursday.

Click HERE to
09:09  Nagaland election: Re-poll in nine booths today:  
Re-election will be held at nine polling stations in as many assembly constituencies in Nagaland on Tuesday.

Re-election in the nine booths were ordered as the voting was adjourned because of disturbance by miscreants, clashes between supporters of political parties and candidates and damage of EVMs on February 23, a notification of the election department said.

Election was held in 59 constituencies for the 60-member Nagaland Assembly on February 23.

Polls to Tuensang Sadar-I was countermanded following the demise of Congress candidate P Chuba Chang on February 22 from where he was seeking re-election. Counting will be held on February 28. 
03:06  BBC World Service radio 'jammed in China':  The BBC today said that its World Service shortwave radio broadcasts in English are being jammed in China in a deliberate move by the authorities there to cause "maximum disruption". 

"The BBC strongly condemns this action which is designed to disrupt audiences' free access to news and information," the world's largest broadcaster said in a statement. The corporation added that while it was not possible to determine the source of the blocking, "extensive and coordinated efforts are indicative of a well-resourced country such as China".
02:57  Karzai's demand takes US military by surprise:  Afghan President Hamid Karzai's demand for US special forces to leave a key province came as a surprise to American commanders, who had no advance warning of the order, officials said today. 

It remained unclear what led Karzai to issue a blunt announcement that US special operations force would have two weeks to withdraw from the strategic Wardak province, southwest of the capital Kabul, two US officials said. "We're not aware of any incident that would have generated this kind of response," one official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP. 

In a statement yesterday, Karzai charged that Afghans working with US forces had carried out torture and murder that had triggered local outrage.
02:42  'The Onion' apologises for tasteless Twitter remark:  Almost 12 hours after the fact, The Onion issued an apology for a tasteless tweet targeting Oscar nominee Quvenzhan Wallis, 9. 

The post, which was deleted within an hour of popping up on The Onion's feed, associated Wallis' name with a derogatory word. The magazine's reaction came too late, after hundreds of people angrily responded and posted screen captures.
01:37  Over 50 killed in battle for Syria police academy:  At least 30 Syrian troops and 23 rebels were killed over the past 24 hours in fierce clashes for control of a police academy in the northern Aleppo province, a watchdog said today. 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported that rebels shot down a regime helicopter near a military base elsewhere in the north of the province as insurgents pressed on with attacks on the police academy in the west. 

At least 53 combatants '" 23 rebels including a battalion commander and 30 Syrian troops '" were killed over the past 24 hours in the fighting outside the town of Khan Assal, the Britain-based Observatory said.  
01:36  Facebook agrees to remove school shooting pages:  Facebook has agreed to remove some so-called tribute pages related to last year's Connecticut school shooting over concerns they're being used to exploit the tragedy, US Senator Richard Blumenthal said today. Blumenthal and other lawmakers from the state requested the removal of offending pages in a letter today to Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg. 

The lawmakers said some pages purportedly set up to honour the victims of the December 14 shooting have been used to exploit or harass the victims' families and could be used as vehicles for financial fraud.
01:35  UK cardinal quits amid inappropriate behaviour claims:  Britain's most senior Catholic cleric has stepped down after allegations of inappropriate behaviour were made public.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien had been due to retire from his position as Archbishop of Edinburgh and St Andrews in a few weeks' time.Instead, he is resigning after a UK newspaper made public allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

Three priests and one former priest made the allegations, saying the misconduct took place in the 1980s.Cardinal O'Brien has denied the allegations and says he was stepping down for health reasons.

Read more here
00:28  Train arrives in Delhi with woman's corpse in plastic bag:  The body of an unidentified woman was found stuffed in a plastic bag from a train at the New Delhi railway station, said police on Monday.

The investigators said that the body was recovered late on Sunday night from a train, coming from Haryana's Panipat, at platform number nine.

"The woman was killed and then her body was hidden under the wooden seat of the train," said the officer.
00:20  Italians seem set to reject austerity in vote:  The makeup of Italy's future government and Parliament was uncertain as votes were being counted in watershed national elections, but one trend seemed clear: Italians are fed up with the austerity that has characterized the past year of the caretaker government.

Instant polls released just after the close of the voting stations at 3 p.m. on Monday showed the center-left Democratic Party winning a majority in the lower house of Parliament. But projections released shortly after, based on early counting of actual votes, showed the center-right coalition run by former Premier Silvio Berlusconileading in the upper house of Parliament, the Senate. That divide, if confirmed by the final vote tally, could steer the country back to a new election as early as this summer.

Read more here
00:18  Top headlines in the past 24 hours:  
In PHOTOS: Pakistan plunges into darkness

Suspects were in Dilsukhnagar hotel 10 days before blasts

Why IM founder Riyaz Bhatkal remains UNTRACEABLE

In trouble: Bengali film ridiculing Mamata Didi

ISRO successfully launches SARAL, 6 other satellites

ISI spy nabbed in Pokhran for leaking IAF details

Chopper scam: CBI names ex-air chief Tyagi, 10 others

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