21:12 Pakistan: Explosion 'hits Karachi crowd':
A big explosion has hit a crowded area in the Pakistani city Karachi, killing one person and injuring several others, local media report.
Geo News television said it was a "major blast" near a market.
Police have arrived at the scene and the injured are being taken to hospital.Karachi has long suffered outbreaks of violence, caused by Taliban militants or by rival political groups fighting turf wars.
The killing of senior cleric Maulana Mohammad Ismail at a prominent Islamic seminary in December sparked angry protests - amid growing sectarian violence in the port city.
Several Shias have been recently killed in drive-by shootings blamed on Sunni militant groups.
19:57 Name anti-rape law after Delhi braveheart: Tharoor:
Union Minister Shashi Tharoor may have put his foot in the mouth once again by suggesting that the new anti-rape law, which is under works, can be named after the Delhi braveheart, who succumbed to her injuries after battling for her life for over 12 days.
The minister posted a tweet on Tuesday saying the law should be named in honour of the Delhi braveheart, who was gangraped and assaulted in a moving bus in the national capital on December 16, if her parents do not have any objection to revealing her identity.
Tharoor posted a tweet: "Wondering what interest is served by continuing anonymity of #DelhGangRape victim. Why not name&honour her as a real person w/own identity?"
19:36 EC officials to visit 3 poll-bound states:
With elections to state assemblies of Meghalaya, Tripura and Nagaland due before March, a team of top Election Commission officials will visit the three eastern states starting tomorrow to assess poll preparedness there.
According to sources, the team headed by Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath and two Election Commissioners H S Brahma and Syed Nasim Ahmad Zaidi will review the arrangements in the three states relating to elections before announcing the poll dates.
During the visit, the full Commission would interact with representatives of political parties and discuss poll arrangements including that related to security with the district and state officials.
19:01 Haryana Minister calls Geetika 'servant' of Kanda:
Haryana Minister Shiv Charan Sharma was at the centre of 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 that the case in which Kanda has been booked is not "such a big" one, came under fire today from BJP and women's bodies who described the remark as insensitive, insulting and shameful.
Geetika's brother Ankit demanded an apology from the minister. "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 here on December 29. Geetika was an employee of the now defunct MDLR airline owned by Kanda.
18:32 FDA approves new TB drug, first in 40 years:
US health authorities have approved a new medicine to fight multi-drug resistant TB, the first to be approved in the country in more than four decades. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the new drug Sirturo (bedaquiline) as part of combination therapy to treat adults with multi-drug resistant pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) when other alternatives are not available.
TB is an infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis and is one of the world's deadliest diseases. It is spread from person to person through the air and usually affects the lungs, but it can also affect other parts of the body such as the brain and kidneys. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 9 million people around the world and 10,528 people in the United States became sick with TB in 2011.
18:00 Govt constitutes task force to look into women's safety issues:
A special task force, headed by the Union Home Secretary, has been set up to look into the safety issues of women in the national capital on a fortnightly basis. The 13-member task force will review the functioning of the Delhi Police on a regular basis.
It will also continuously review action taken by the police and the Delhi government regarding safety issues of women, a Home Ministry statement said today. The task force will also take into consideration the suggestions made by the Members of Parliament during the debates on the matter.
17:21 Odisha bans use of 'gutkha', chewing tobacco:
Odisha government on Tuesday announced a state-wide ban on the manufacture, sale and use of guthka and chewing tobacco containing nicotine."I appeal to people to cooperate with the state government to make Odisha a tobacco-free state,' Health and Family Welfare Minister Damodar Rout said.
A notification in this regard will be issued in a day or two, he added.Noting that Odisha was not the only state where government imposed such a ban, Rout said the Supreme Court and different high courts had earlier directed the states to slap such a ban as the nicotine-contained chewing masalas triggered diseases like cancer.
17:11 NYT journalist leaves China after visa not renewed:
A New York Times
journalist, who hasworked in China over a decade, has been forced to leave thecountry after his visa was not renewed, in an apparent retaliation for the paper's report that alleged Premier WenJiabao's family had amassed USD 2.7 billion in assets.
45-year-old Chris Buckley, an Australian who has worked as a correspondent in China since 2000 and joined The Times recently, left for Hong Kong with his family yesterday.
Buckley was to be accredited to replace a correspondent who was reassigned, but the Chinese authorities did not act before December 31, despite numerous requests forcing Buckleyto leave with his family to Hong Kong, the Times reported.
17:02 Delhi rape: Public Prosecutor not to speak to media:
Lawyer Dayan Krishnan, who has been appointed as the Special Public Prosecutor in the case of gangrape of a 23-year-old student, on Tuesday made it clear that he would not speak to media on the case.
"As the Public Prosecutor, it is my duty to ensure strict adherence to due process in accordance with the highest standards of rule of law to ensure justice," he said in a statement.
"I am grateful to all of you for your continuing support," he said, adding on his appointment as Special Public Prosecutor, he has received various requests from media, both print and electronic, for clarifications and comments.
16:04 Cash transfer of government subsidies starts:
The government's ambitious direct cash transfer of subsidies scheme is operational today. But, the first phase of the roll-out - which was meant to cover 51 districts and 34 welfare schemes - is being scaled down to cover just 20 districts and seven schemes.
Gaps in infrastructure, like bank accounts and beneficiary lists, has forced the government to pare down the project, which it has pitched as a 'game-changer'.
"This is a game-changer for governance... this is a game-changer in how we account for money, it is game-changer in how the benefits reach the individual," Finance Minister P Chidambaram said on Monday.
15:15 Israel eases some restrictions on Gaza:
After more than five weeks of calm on its border with Gaza, Israel is allowing more building materials into the territory and considering easing other restrictions as part of an Egypt-brokered cease-fire with Hamas that ended an eight-day conflict in November, according to Israeli and Palestinian officials.
Daily shipments of 20 truckloads of gravel for private construction began Sunday, the first such shipments since Hamas, the militant Islamist group that rules the Gaza Strip, seized control of the enclave in 2007.
14:25 Delhi rape case: Beware of the symbolism and quick-fixes:
A few decades ago, futurism looked like an exciting career for a few who could understand technology and social trends, think out of the box and predict the future.
A few of them, such as Alvin Toffler and Nicholas Negroponte became cult figures. But they soon faded out of our excitement, probably because the real future turned out to be far more exciting than what they predicted.
Since 26/11 in Mumbai, we too have been witnessing some sort of futurism in India too '" mostly predicting the transformation of the country from a chaotic mess into an accountable modern nation state '" all betting on the uprising of our citizenry.
14:16 Rajni Patil to be nominated to Rajya Sabha:
Rajni Patil from Maharashtra will occupy the vacancy in the Rajya Sabha caused by the demise of former Maharashtra CM Vilasrao Deshmukh.
The All India Congress Committee has approved Rajni Patil -- an official announcement will be made shortly in New Delhi.
This puts rest to the speculation that an outsider is likely to be accommodated from Maharashtra.
The buzz in the AICC is that Punjab governor Shivraj Patil wanted Rajni Patil and his recommendation was accepted by Congress president Sonia Gandhi
13:45 North Korea's Kim wants better living standards, arms:
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for improving the economy and living standards of his impoverished nation with the same urgency that scientists showed in successfully testing a long-range rocket recently.
Kim's first New Year's speech, delivered on state TV, was peppered with rhetoric, with calls for boosting the military capabilities and making the science and technology sector world class. But other passages in the speech were also an acknowledgement of the poor state of the country's economy that has long lagged behind the rest of the region.
North Korea has little arable land, is prone to natural disasters and struggles to grow enough food for its 24 million people.
13:44 Bera, Gabbard to be sworn in on Jan 3:
Indian-American physician Ami Bera and Tulsi Gabbard would be sworn in as members of the US House of Representatives later this week, much to the delight of the small but powerful community in the country.
Born of immigrants from Punjab, California-based physician Bera is only the third Indian American to be a member of the US House of Representatives, while Iraq war veteran Tulsi Gabbard is the first Hindu ever to win Congressional election.
Aag jale to shayad Andhera pighle
Teri chita ki kokh se jab suraj nikale
Poet, lyricist and director Gulzar wishing for a better tomorrow and a happier world for everyone.
12:44 UN asks India to strengthen legal regime against rape:
Expressing "deep sadness' at the death of 23-year-old Delhi gang-rape victim, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay asked the Indian government to strengthen the country's legal regime to get rid of the "terrible scourge'.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said rape is a "national problem' in India, affecting women of all classesand castes and requires national solutions. Pillay expressed deep sadness over the death of Delhi rape victim and said she joined Indians in "all walks of life in condemning' the attack on the student, expressing confidence that India could emerge reformed in the wake of this "terrible crime.'
12:44 Mild tremors in Vizag :
Mild tremors were experienced in some parts of Visakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh this morning. "Mild tremors were experienced in some mandals," the Meteorological office here. Narsipatnam, Makavarapupalem, Rolugunta, Koyyuru and Madugula mandals of Visakhapatnam experienced mild tremors in the morning.
New Year wishes from former official spokesman and media advisor to the prime minister of India Sanjaya Baru
Felt good walking into the New Year with my daughter a step ahead of me in a march of solidarity with young women demanding a more secure world! Experiencing the social awakening of a new generation of young women is a great way to begin the New Year..... No time for negativism, pessimism, cynicism, criticising others. March on ....... Happy New Year!
Odisha Member of Parliament Baijayant 'Jay' Panda
sends his New Year wishes:
The history of humankind is filled with desperately sad setbacks, but also interspersed with hope and new beginnings. Let us pray that today is one such (of the latter). Wish you all a happy new year, may 2013 bring your families and you much success and happiness. Let us also work towards ushering in big improvements in the life and safety of women, in particular, and all of us in general . . . . .
12:36 Gangrape accused's house attacked in Delhi, explosive defused:
Delhi Police arrested one person after the house of Ram Singh, the bus driver and the main accused in the gangrape case was attacked by three persons in Ravi Dass camp near R K Puram on Monday night.
One of the attackers planted an explosive near his house, which was later defused by a Bomb Disposal Squad. One policeman suffered minor injuries during the operation. Local residents caught one of the assailants and handed him over to police. He is being questioned.
A local resident Ravi Kumar said: 'There were three persons, of whom one had an explosive with him. The man was saying that he was going to blow up the locality. Why are we being victimized for what Ram Singh did? The people living here are afraid even to go out."
11:59 Two sides of the rape backlash:
The protests against the December 16 gang rape appear to have unwittingly led a teenaged Delhi student to commit suicide after being arrested for lewd behaviour with a girl on a bus.
Apparently unnerved by the eye-for-an-eye sentiments some of the protesters expressed, Chandrakant, 19, hanged himself at his home after receiving bail while fellow accused Sonu, 18, drank poison and is critical, police said.
An officer at Mehrauli police station said Chandrakant and Sonu had pleaded with the cops not to inform the media about their arrest.
"They were very scared that they would be beaten to death by the people protesting against the gang rape. They told us they would never again indulge in such acts,' he said.
11:43 Girl was shifted abroad to divert responsibility:
The Delhi-based victim of the 16 December gang rape in a moving bus was "shifted to Singapore when it was already clear that she would not survive the next 48 hours," a senior official connected with logistics claimed.
He added that "soon after the protests, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit wanted the victim to be transferred to a better hospital than Safdarjung" (most likely Medanta in Gurgaon). According to him, this request by the CM was rejected as "those in the decision-making loop (presumably the prime minister and the home minister) were worried that secrecy would no longer be maintained were the victim to be transferred from the government-run Safdarjung Hospital to Medanta".
11:37 Flight schedules hit as dense fog envelops airport:
Dense fog enveloped the Indira Gandhi International Airport here today, disrupting the schedule of around 30 flights. Around 14 flights were cancelled and 15 were delayed as the visibility dropped to around 100 metres early this morning when dense fog descended on the airport, airport sources said.
Fog started to descend around 10.30 pm last night. Around 2.30 am, the general visibility and runway visibility dropped to less than 50 metres on the third runway while it was around 200 metres on the main runway.
11:06 Subway death: Indian man cremated in NY:
A 46-year old Indian immigrant, who was killed after being pushed by a woman onto the subway train tracks, was cremated here in the presence of his friends and business partners.
Sunando Sen's cremation was held yesterday and was attended by his friends, business partners and a representative of the Indian Consulate in New York, a senior Consulate official told PTI.
Sen, who owned a printing and copying business near Columbia University, died after being pushed by 31-year old Erika Menendez in front of an oncoming train at a Queens subway station on December 27.
11:05 Saudi detains dozens for 'plotting to celebrate Christmas':
Saudi religious police stormed a house in the Saudi Arabian province of al-Jouf, detaining more than 41 guests for "plotting to celebrate Christmas,' a statement from the police branch released Wednesday night said.
The raid is the latest in a string of religious crackdowns against residents perceived to threaten the country's strict religious code.
The host of the alleged Christmas gathering is reported to be an Asian diplomat whose guests included 41 Christians, as well as two Saudi Arabian and Egyptian Muslims. The host and the two Muslims were said to be "severely intoxicated.'
01:54 Suspect in NYC subway death arrested before:
AP reports: Police say they were called byfamily members of a 31-year-old woman charged with murder in the death of a man shoved in front of a New York City subway train at least five times because she had not been properly taking prescribed medications.
Erika Menendez was being held without bail in the death of Sunando Sen, who died Thursday night in Queens. The police say Menendez's family members called authorities several times in the past five years because they were having difficulty dealing with her.
Police did not say what the medication was. Menendez had been arrested several times. She pleaded guilty to assaulting a man in 2003, and drug possession.
Menendez was in custody and unavailable for comment. It was unclear what lawyer was representing her.
01:21 Candle light protest in UK against Delhi gangrape:
Over 100 Non Resident Indians here held a candle light protest tonight against the gangrape of the 23-year-old medical student in Delhi and demanded severe punishment to the culprits.
The protesters holding tricolours and candles, met at Hounslow's Shree Jalaram Seva Trust temple. Hounslow is a London borough close to Heathrow Airport with a sizeable Indian population.
Many people spoke about their grief at the passing away of the victim. Many held up posters that read 'We demand stricter laws' and 'RIP India's daughter'.
The prayer meeting started with local politicians voicing their concerns about what happened to the girl and how it has touched them personally. "My sister and I talk on the phone regularly and all we have been talking about last few days is this case," said Seema Malhotra, Labour MP from Feltham and Heston.
There was considerable anger against the Indian government at the meeting.
01:09 Pak frees 26 Afghan Taliban prisoners:
Pakistan today said it had freed 26 Afghan Taliban prisoners, including former ministers Mullah Nooruddin Turabi and Maulvi Allah Dad, since last month as part of its efforts to give impetus to the reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
Eight Taliban detainees were released today to "further facilitate the Afghan reconciliation process", said a statement issued by the Foreign Office tonight.
Eighteen Taliban prisoners were freed last month on the request of the Afghan High Peace Council, it said. Former justice minister Nooruddin Turabi, former communications minister Maulvi Allah Dad, former Helmand province governor Abdul Bari, former Kabul governor Mullah Daud Jan and former governor Mir Ahmed Gul were among those released today, the statement said.
Diplomatic sources told PTI that Mohammad Azim, a former security guard of Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Omar, too was freed today.
00:45 2012 'deadliest year' for journalists: Report:
Last year was the 'deadliest year for journalists', said the International Press Institute today, with the highest number of deaths recorded since the media watchdog began its annual tally.
The year had 'been marked by an appalling and disturbing truth: an unprecedented 132 journalists were killed in the line of duty or as a consequence of their reporting in 2012', the IPI said in a statement posted to its website.
The previous highest figure had been 110 deaths in 2009. Last year, 102 journalists were killed.
"It is almost unbelievable that so many journalists have died this year," IPI executive director Alison Bethel McKenzie said. At least 31 journalists and eight citizen reporters died in Syria alone in 2012, while 16 others died in Somalia.
The Vienna-based watchdog began tracking deaths in 1997.