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Pakistan's fiery cleric strikes deal with govt

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January 17, 2013

23:59  Pakistan's fiery cleric strikes deal with govt:  Pakistan government today agreed to appoint a caretaker Prime Minister by consensus ahead of the next general election as part of a deal struck with fiery cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri to end his protest near parliament that had put intense pressure on the country's fragile coalition.

The five-point agreement was hammered out by Qadri and an 11-member government team after five hours of talks at the site of the protest by thousands of supporters of the cleric.

The ruling Pakistan People's Party and its allies conceded most of the demands made by Qadri, including the dissolution of the National Assembly and electoral reforms.

The agreement, which was signed by Qadri, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and the members of the government negotiating team, envisages a key role for the cleric's party, Pakistan Awami Tehreek, in electoral reforms and the appointment of a caretaker premier.
23:42  Tahawwur Rana sentenced to 14 years in jail:  Tahawwur Rana, an accomplice of convicted terrorist David Headley, was today sentenced to 14 years in jail followed by five years of supervised release by a US court for providing material support to Pakistan-based LeT and for backing a plot to strike a Danish newspaper.

Fifty-two-year-old Pakistani-Canadian Rana was sentenced by the Chicago federal court despite his defence attorneys seeking a lighter sentence of not more than a 9-year jail term, citing his poor health.

US prosecutors had sought 30 years' for Rana, who his lawyers said was duped into participation by his school-time friend Headley.
23:37  Asaram denies involvement in land grab case:  Self-styled godman Asaram Bapu today denied the involvement of himself and any of his family members or the ashram run by him in a Rs 700 crore land grab case of Madhya Pradesh and claimed that reports suggesting the same were 'baseless' and 'untenable'.

"The land in Ratlam district is controlled by a company Jayant Vitamins Limited in which neither I nor my son Narain Sai are stakeholders. Even if it had been grabbed illegally, there could have been no ground for our prosecution.

"It is being said that the Serious Fraud Investigating Office has recommended our prosecution. Such reports are baseless and untenable," Asaram told reporters
23:03  Chicagoan was killed in Mumbai Attacks:  Huffingtonpost reports: One of the victims of the terrorist attacks in India was a Chicago resident who worked for a company that provides radiation therapy for cancer patients.

Read the full story here
22:50  Proceedings for Rana's sentencing begin in Chicago:   According to media reports, proceedings for sentencing of Pakistan-born Tahawwur Rana, an accomplice of Mumbai attack terrorist David Headley, have begin in a Chicago court.

US prosecutors want 30 years' imprisonment for 52-year-old Pakistani-Canadian Rana, while defence attorneys are seeking a lighter sentence, reportedly no more than a 9-year jail term, citing his poor health.

His lawyers are claiming that he was duped into participation by his school-time friend Headley.Rana was convicted in June 2011 by a federal grand jury, which found the businessman guilty of providing material support to LeT and planning an aborted plot to bomb the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.
22:18  Case against Jethmalani for his remarks on Lord Ram:  Acting on a court order, the police today lodged a case against suspended BJP MP Ram Jethmalani for his controversial remarks on Lord Rama during a function in Delhi on November 8. 

On a petition filed by lawyer Mohammed Saleem, the court in Medchal had yesterday asked the police to investigate into the matter and lodged an FIR. Accordingly, a case was registered under Section 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, language etc) and other relevant sections of IPC, police said.

Speaking at a book launch function in Delhi on November 8, Jethmalani had termed Lord Ram as a 'bad husband'.
21:45  ATS custody extended for three in Pune blast case:  A special MCOCA court in Mumbai today extended the ATS custody of three accused in the Pune blast case till January 24.

The Anti-Terrorism Squad had sought further custody saying that it wanted to confront Bunty Jahangirdhar, who was recently arrested, with these three accused.

The court remanded Sayyed Arif alias Kashif Biyabani, 32, Munib Iqbal Memon, 31, and Farooq Bagwan, 31 in further ATS custody, while Firoze Sayyed, Irfan Landge, Imran Khan and Asad Khan were sent to judicial custody.

Four coordinated low-intensity explosions had struck the arterial J M Road in the heart of Pune city on August 1 last year, injuring one person.
21:08  Anti-graft fight to continue till last breath: Anna:  

Anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare today said he would continue his fight against corruption and goondaism till his last breath.   


"I have been fighting corruption and goondaism throughout without bothering about my life and will continue to do so till my last breath," he told reporters in Belgaum.  


He recalled the influence of Swami Vivekananda's teachings on him, saying he had once tried to end his life in desperation but accidentally came across a book by Vivekananda which changed the course of his life.

20:41  O P Chautala pleads for leniency in court:  

Former Haryana Chief Minister O P Chautala, convicted of illegally recruiting 3,206 teachers in the state, today pleaded with a Delhi court for leniency in sentencing citing his ill health and old age, while the CBI sought maximum punishment for all 55 convicts in the case.         


The section 13(1)(d) and section 13(2) (criminal misconduct by public servant) of the Prevention of Corruption Act under which Chautala and his son Ajay Chautala have been convicted entails a maximum sentence of seven-year jail term and minimum of one year.         


Fifty other convicts, the chairpersons and members of the district level selection committee, have been convicted under section 467 (forgery of valuable security) of the IPC, and face up to life term as punishment.         


CBI prosecutors I P Vaid and A P Singh, however, sought maximum punishment for all the convicts from the court of Special CBI Judge Vinod Kumar arguing that it is a case of economic offence and against the system. The court will pronounce the sentence on January 22.         

20:10  Govt cuts petrol price by 25 paise per litre:  The government has allowed oil companies to raise diesel prices by 50 paise per litre per month. Bulk users will be charged a market price. 

The government has also decided to cut petrol prices by 25 paise per litre.
20:01  Pak women team's participation remains doubtful:  Amid tension on the Indo-Pak border, the Pakistan women cricket team's participation in the upcoming World Cup continued to remain uncertain as both the International Cricket Council and the BCCI explored various options to salvage the tournament.     

The BCCI has already apprised the ICC of the situation prevailing in India following the killing of two Indian soldiers by the Pakistani Army. The game's governing body is expected to take a final decision soon.
19:53  International Border with Pakistan peaceful: BSF:  The BSF is fully alert and alive to any challenge along the International Border with Pakistan even though it is peaceful, a top official said today.    

"There is nothing unusual along the IB. But still we are fully alert and prepared for any challenge, either at the IB or at the Line of Control," BSF chief Subhash Joshi said.    

He was asked by reporters if the IB has seen any ceasefire violation as recently witnessed along the LoC.
19:52  Queen's gifts: Baby Llama, dog bed and Asian baby elephant!:  It may be tough to find gifts fit for a queen, but at least some on Queen Elizabeth II's list from 2012 seem to have hit the right note.        

A list of gifts presented to the Queen in the Diamond Jubilee year of her reign includes a knitted tea cosy and some tea, 78 pictures of herself, three thrones, a pot of jam, a cake and the adoption rights to a baby Asian elephant.        

Known for the love of her corgis, the Queen probably appreciated a dog bed in the shape of a crown the most.
19:51  Algeria hostage crisis worsens:  The hostage crisis in Algeria is getting worse.

Algeria has launched air strikes at a gas field where Islamic militants are reportedly holding several people -- including some foreigners -- as hostages.

According to media reports, 35 hostages and 15 militants have been killed in the air strikes. Twenty hostages have managed to escape.

Read the full story here 
18:41  Maha govt to make rape non-bailable, double jail term:  The state government is likely to amend the law to make crimes such as rape and molestation non-bailable, instead of waiting for the Centre to amend it. It also proposes to double jail term for such crimes, from the current seven to 14 years. Read
18:38  RIL becomes most influential stock in Sensex:  Reason to cheer if you have RIL shares. Reliance Industries today overtook ITC as the most influential stock on BSE benchmark Sensex, after the oil & gas major's shares soared by 3.4 per cent.

At the end of trade today, RIL commanded 9.33 per cent weight in the 30-share Sensex, while ITC had 9.27 per cent weight, followed by Infosys with 8.05 per cent. Shares of RIL ended the day 3.4 per cent higher at Rs 889.65, while ITC was up 0.53 per cent at Rs 285.15.
18:36  Guj court not to give final order on SIT closure report: SC:  The Supreme Court today asked a Gujarat trial court not to pronounce its final order on the closure report of the Special Investigation Team in the 2002 Gulburg Housing Society riot case of Ahmedabad.

"The final order on the closure report would not be pronounced," a bench of justices D K Jain, P Sathasivam and Aftab Alam said. The court also issued notice to the Gujarat government and sought its response on the plea of slain Congress leader Ehsan Jafri's widow seeking documents relating to the SIT probe into the Gulburg Society massacre case.

An Ahmedabad trial court had on November 27 accepted the SIT closure report filed on March 13, 2012 in the case.
18:25   Lance Armstrong confessed to doping during an interview with Oprah Winfrey on Monday, just a couple of hours after a wrenching apology to staff at the Livestrong charity he founded and has now been forced to surrender. The emotional day ended with 2-1/2 hours of questions from Winfrey, where she said the world's most famous cyclist was "forthcoming' as she asked him in detail about doping allegations that followed him throughout his seven Tour de France victories.
18:21  Lance Armstrong stripped of Olympic medal :  Just in: The International Olympic Committee strips Lance Armstrong of Olympic medal. Armstrong at won the bronze medal at the 2000 Olympics.  
18:19  Algeria siege: Hostages 'escape Islamist captors':  A number of hostages have escaped the Islamist militants who took them captive at a gas facility in eastern Algeria, media and officials say. Details of the escape and the numbers involved remain unclear, but some 30-40 Algerians and 15-20 foreign nationals were reported to have escaped. Read
18:14  Special officer at each police station to deal with juveniles :  In view of growing number of minors getting involved in various offences, the Supreme Court today directed that a special officer be appointed in every police station across the country to deal with juveniles.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir also directed that the police must register FIR and conduct probe in every case of missing child and a unit of specially trained police officers be formed in each district to handle cases relating to juveniles.

It said that such officers would be in plain clothes and work in coordination with Child Welfare Committees. The Court passed the order on a PIL filed by an NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan alleging that for over 1.7 lakh children have gone missing in the country between January 2008-2010, many of whom were kidnapped for trafficking in flesh trade and child labour.
18:02  Helicopter crash: Workmen escape death because they overslept:  Two workmen who should have been in a crane that was hit by a helicopter in Vauxhall, central London, told today how they cheated death by minutes because they overslept. Read
17:58  A R Rahman most popular Indian face on Facebook:  With more than one crore fan following on Facebook, Oscar-winning music composer A R Rahman has become the most popular Indian on the social networking site by leaving behind Amitabh Bachchan and Sachin Tendulkar.

The 46-year-old 'Jai Ho' hitmaker, who has a page on Facebook, has been liked by 10,138,509 fans and 81,159 people have commented on it. Rahman also posted a picture on the page which says, "10,000,000 and thanks."

Cricket legend Tendulkar is the second most popular face on the networking site with 9,109,898 likes followed by 'Dabangg' star Salman Khan, who has 7,534,958 fans.
17:51  India awakens to its grass-roots power:  In India, they note, power shortages force factories to rely on generators, and investors may spend years trying to gain title to land for construction. In China, by contrast, power plants, factories and entire mega-cities seem to sprout overnight.

Sleek trains streak across China's countryside while Indians cram themselves into -- or cling to the tops of  -- wheezing old buses. These are caricatures, of course: Most Chinese cannot afford to ride on their high-speed rail; New Delhi's Metro is modern and efficient. Read
17:39  Pak army bosses took call to kill jawans: Reports:  CNN IBN:  Reports coming in just now says that the top brass of the Pakistan army took the decision to attack and kill the Indian jawans. In fact, army commandos were involved in the attack that killed Lance Naiks Hemraj Singh and Sudharkar Singh. Details awaited.
17:26  On Twitter: Zardari like bubblegum. You can step on it all you want, but impossible to get rid of.
17:01  Diesel pricing anti-people, slams BJP:  The BJP today alleged that the government's move to announce freedom to oil marketing companies to decide and take a call on diesel prices is nothing but a deliberate decision to hide the facts from the people, and added that this move is an anti-people decision.

"The worst part of this diesel price hike, a decision in disguise to hike the diesel prices, by announcing freedom to oil marketing companies to decide and take a call on diesel prices is nothing but a deliberate decision to hide the facts from the people. The government is shirking away from its responsibilities, which will have a tremendous cascading effect," said BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar.  
16:57  Dead girlfriend who inspired US football star to win didn't exist:  The heart-breaking story of a college football star who helped his team battle to the championship game after his girlfriend died of leukaemia was a hoax, it has been revealed.

The story of University of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o helped his team to victory after his long-distance girlfriend Lennay Kekua died, within days of his own grandmother. He even played on the day of her funeral as he believed this is what she would have wanted.

But now it has been revealed that Kekua never existed and the picture on her Facebook page and Twitter account, which was used in reports across US have turned out to be another woman, who is alive, Sky News reported.

The University of Notre Dame confirmed the bizarre ruse in a news release on Wednesday after reported that Stanford has no record of her. According to multiple reports, Te'o said that he met her in 2009 following a game against Stanford, where she was a student, and that the two began a relationship while he completed his senior year at the Indiana school.

The website also failed to find any records of Kekua being involved in a car accident or of her death. According to the university, it is Te'o, who has been the victim of a hoax.
16:53  Left with No Choice:  A chilling account of the circumstances under which a Kashmiri Pandit family was forced out of the Valley, the terror that foreclosed all hope of returning, and the grim existence of those who sought shelter in a Jammu refugee camp. Excerpts from Rahul Pandita's latest book, Our Moon Has Blood Clots
16:47  India does not favour foreign ministers' talks in a rush:  India does not favour talks between the Foreign Ministers to ease Indo-Pak tensions along the Line of Control (LoC) as proposed by Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar.

Clearly, unenthusiastic about Khar's offer for a "discussion and dialogue" with him, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said here that direct talks between ministers do not happen in a rush. In a statement issued in Islamabad last night, Khar had said," is advisable for the two countries to discuss all concerns related to the LoC with a view to reinforcing respect for the ceasefire, may be at the level of the Foreign Ministers, to sort out things."
16:46  Human Rights in India Status Report 2012. Read 
16:43  Chintan Shivir or Chinta Shivir?:  The Congress' Jaipur 'Chintan Shivir' is set to become 'chinta shivir' of sorts. Pakistan and the rise in crimes against women weigh heavily on the mind of 300 chosen delegates.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi and general secretary Rahul Gandhi plan to speak tough against Pakistan while on women's issue, the party has coined a slogan, "pahle hoga nari samman, phir hoga bharat nirman."

The slogan is reportedly been coined by Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh, who has drafted a specific women-centric paper. Read the Dilli gupshup on
16:39  Qadri extends deadline, says no to interior minister for meet:  Tahir-ul Qadri says he has extended his deadline and will hold talks with the government delegation, but his condition for talks was that Interior Minister Rehman Malik should not part of the delegation.
16:20  Pak Chief Justice says democracy only option for country:  The Chief Justice of Pakistan has said that there is no place for any other system in the country other than democracy. CJP Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said Pakistan would have to strengthen democracy and the democratic institutions, reports the Daily Times. With the elections due in a few months, President Asif Ali Zardari hopes his administration will be the first civilian government to complete its term in 65 years.
16:16  Delhi gang-rape case moved to fast-track court :  CNN IBN: The Delhi gang-rape case has been transferred to the fast-track court from the district court at Saket. It's a month today, since the 23-year-old physiotherapy student was gang-raped on a moving bus in New Delhi. After unprecedented street protests over the incident, the government had promised "fast-track" the trial.

The fast-track courts are designed to avoid delays, incompetence and corruption ensure quick justice for the victms. The hearing on the case will now begin on January 21.
16:09  Pakistan: A country at war with ITSELF:  A shroud of anxiety hangs thick over India's western neighbour, with which it shares a 'sometimes-hot, sometimes-cold' relationship. It is not only the country's trouble-weary civilians who are overwhelmed by the uncertainty over the ongoing events, so are its lawmakers. Read 
15:49  SC criticises culture of giving security to VIPs:  The Supreme Court today criticised the culture of giving security to VIP personnel and the use of beacon lights by sarpanches, MLAs and MPs. 
15:32  Rezaul Hasan Laskar tweets: Also per Dawn: major environmental damage due to TuQ's protest. Trees felled for bonfires (which I personally witnessed), saplings trampled.
15:30  Pak govt forms high-power panel to talk to Qadri:   The Pakistan government has constituted a four-member committee to hold talks with Tahir-ul Qadri. The committee includes Religious Affairs Minister Khurshid Shah, PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain' senior Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader Farooq Sattar and Awami National Party leader Afrasiyab Khattak.

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf directed the committee to "immediately hold talks" with Qadri, who has been camping near parliament since Tuesday with thousands of supporters to push his demand for electoral reforms.

The committee was formed shortly after Qadri gave the government a 90-minute deadline at 1.30 pm to act on his demands.

However, support for Qadri's protest has begun to dwindle and opposition parties led by the PML-N yesterday said they would oppose any unconstitutional or unlawful move to derail the democratic system.
15:22  The panel is set to begin talks with the anti-government cleric any time now.
15:13  Defence Minister A K Antony, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid brief the Union Cabinet on situation at the Line of Control. Pakistan has indicated scaling down of its stand; it now wants bilateral talks on LoC issue rather than internationalising it, Khurshid tells the Cabinet.
14:57  Obama's Kenyan half brother running for political seat:  In other news: President Barack Obama's Kenyan half brother has launched his own political career by announcing his intention to run for a Kenyan county gubernatorial seat in the upcoming March 4 elections.

Malik Obama, 54, who shares a father with the US president, told AFP in an interview late yesterday that the achievements of his more famous brother have "inspired and challenged" him to get into active politics in his homeland.

"When I look at the success that my brother has had in America, I feel I would have let down my people if I do not follow in his footsteps and end their suffering through dedicated, honest and focused leadership," Obama told AFP in his ancestral home of Kogelo in western Kenya.
14:55  He died a broken man:  Though Maulana Umarji was the first to apologise on behalf of his community for the Godhra incident, he died tarnished, accused of being the mastermind even after his acquittal. Read
14:45  The forgotten carnage of Bhagalpur:  Twenty three years ago Bhagalpur district witnessed one of the worst communal riots in post-independent India. The victims - mainly Muslims - are still struggling, socially and financially.

This essay lays out the main findings of the official commissions of inquiry set up to investigate the carnage and interweaves the context of a research study by the Centre for Equity Studies documenting the experiences of victims/survivors in Bhagalpur on justice and reparations, and makes policy recommendations on the framework for reparations for the victims. Read
14:38  The state of the economy according to Mr Ahluwalia:  The last year has been an extremely tough year for the Indian economy. Practically everything which could go wrong did turn sour. For much of the year, the United Progressive Alliance government has been a rudderless ship, buffeted by storms several of which were of their own making. Most sectors of the economy limped along, with the index of industrial production fluctuating quite alarmingly. Read
14:34  Troops occupy, Maoists demolish schools:  Enter, schools as theatres of war. The continuing conflict between government forces and Maoists in the border regions of Bihar and Jharkhand has turned school buildings into unwitting battlegrounds. Read the report on the Telegraph.
14:24  Delhi gang rape prime accused to move Supreme Court:  Just in: Prime accused Ram Singh in the rape and murder of the Delhi physiotherapist will move the Supreme Court seeking for the trial to be moved to any state out of Uttar Pradesh. His lawyer says Ram Singh fears he will not get justice if the case is tried in UP. The court will now hear the case on January 21.  
14:14  Khurshid: Pak must understand PM's strong message:   Foreign minister Salman Khurshid says that some signals from Pakistan are indeed positive, and while talks have not frozen, we have to resolve our differences. "Talks must yield results and Pakistan must understand the strong message sent by the PM. In this, the PM's stance is the final word," says Khurshid.

Also read: Is Pakistan's meddlesome military up to its old tricks? Read
14:08  Lost in Kumbh? This man will find you!:  Many a twins in the world of Hindi films may have been separated in the melee of Kumbh Mela -- the largest gathering of people on the planet. Millions of the faithful and the curious gather at the bank of the Sangam -- the holy confluence of the Ganga and the Yamuna in Allahabad -- to take a dip in the holy waters to wash away their sins. If you are heading there, but fear getting lost, there's help at hand. Read the report on 
14:03  NAB chief calls evidence against Pak PM weak; irks SC:  Pakistan's anti-graft body NAB's chief today told the Supreme Court that the evidence in a corruption case involving Premier Raja Pervez Ashraf was weak and unlikely to lead to conviction, a statement that irked the top court which directed him to submit to it all records of the investigation.

National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Fasih Bokhari's statement came two days after the apex court directed the anti-corruption agency to arrest the Prime Minister and more than 20 other suspects in connection with alleged graft in the rental power projects.
13:57  Cabinet raises cap on subsidised LPG cylinders from 6 to 9:  The Union Cabinet today approved the Petroleum Ministry's proposal to increase the number of subsidised LPG cylinders available to households to nine a year from the current cap of six from April 2013.  

"The annual cap on subsidised LPG cylinders would be hiked from the current six to nine. CCPS agreed to raise the cap from six cylinders to nine cylinders," Petroleum Minister M Veerappa Moily said. 

The cap would be raised from the next fiscal year beginning April 2013, the minister added.  

Moily further said: "For now, there's no revision in the prices of diesel. But the oil marketing companies (OMCs) have authorised to make price corrections from time to time."  
13:55  A Hospital Network With a Vision:  As the United States struggles to find new business models for health care, some innovators are looking to other industries, ones that provide high-quality services for low prices. Read
13:51  Time to stop ignoring Shia massacres in Pakistan:  In one horrible 2012 incident, Taliban wearing Pakistani army uniforms stopped a passenger bus in the country's scenic Naran valley, checked identity papers to determine who was Shia, then tied up the 19 Shiites on the roadside and massacred them. In a widely-circulated video of the incident, the killers can be heard joyously shouting "Shia Kafir' (Shia infidel). Read more
13:39  MEA reacts to Khar: Step-by-step approach to Pak :  External Affairs minister Salman Khurshid reacts to Pakistan's overtures for peace talks, saying, India will take a step-by-step approach towards Pakistan. Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, who had earlier accused India of engaging in war-mongering, has offered to hold "discussion and dialogue" with her Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid to resolve the crisis at the Line of Control.
13:37  The Election Commission has granted no objection to the government's proposal for raising the cap on LPG gas quota.
13:18  NO hike in LPG, diesel prices :  Just in: Breathe easy. There will be no change in LPG and diesel prices, says oil minister Veerappa Moily. Subsidised LPG cap will also be hiked from six to nine from April.
13:13  Neighbours recall Delhi gang-rape brothers with fear:  Ram Singh and Mukesh, the two brothers accused in the Delhi gang rape case, were likened by a neighbor to Gabbar Singh from the Bollywood classic Sholay. "Those two were a real bad lot,' said the neighbor, a woman from the south Delhi slum of Ravidas, which was home to four of the six arrested in the gang rape of a 23-year-old student on Dec 16. Read
13:00  Kumbh Mela attempts to go green:  Between 80 and 100 million Hindus are expected to take part in the 55-day festival, bathing at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna, sacred rivers believed to cleanse sin and enable devotees to escape the cycle of death and rebirth.

These waters are also some of the most polluted in the world, according to conservation groups. The Ganges alone receives 2.9 billion liters of sewage a day along its 1,557 mile length. That's enough sewage to fill 1,600 Olympic-size swimming pools every day.  Read
12:57  LoC tension: 'Pak must accept its mistakes, says Manish Tewari:  Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari today said the Pakistani Government must accept its mistakes and punish those responsible for the barbaric attack on the Indian soldiers along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Mendhar sector of Jammu and Kashmir''s Poonch District.

Tewari, who was responding to Pakistan''s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar''s offer to hold ''discussion and dialogue'' with her Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid to resolve the crisis at the LoC, said ''the only problem which needs to be resolved is the inhuman behaviour of the Pakistani armed forces personnel''.
12:52  Mats to pickles, but NO business deals at Bengal Leads :  After WB chief minister Mamata Banerjee made two industrialists sing at the Bengal Leads business meet, a ground report from Haldia, where the meet is being held, says that there has not been a single serious business enquiry. Read
12:49  Is this Pakistan's Tahrir Square?:  Coup-plagued Pakistan, Arif Rafiq writes at Foreign Policy, "has yet to see a transition of power between two successive democratically elected governments." And with the rise of a massive anti-government protest movement led by the Pakistani cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri -- plus the Supreme Court's order this week to arrest the Pakistani prime minister on corruption charges -- that milestone could once again prove elusive ahead of the country's general elections this spring. Read
12:39  Terror threat on Republic Day, Delhi Police launch manhunt:  Intelligence reports state that the Indian Mujahideen may look to target New Delhi on Republic Day. The Delhi Police is out looking for IM operative Raju Bhai, who could be crucial to averting a disaster.'s Vicky Nanjappa reports. Read
12:38  Update from Pakistan: An official refuses to accept the Supreme Court order on the arrest of PM Raja Ashraf. 
12:23  On the Sunday Guardian: Chitra Subramaniam Duella's open letter to UP CM Akhilesh Yadav: "Declare Ballia a rape free district"Read
12:21  Cabinet recommends President's rule in Jharkhand:  he Union Cabinet has recommend the imposition of President's Rule in Jharkhand, which is facing political instability, while keeping the Assembly in suspended animation. The state is expected to come under a spell of central rule as no party or combination of parties is in a position to form a government in the wake of fall of the BJP-led coalition last week, official sources said. -- Zee News
12:09  Delhi women's helpline: 70% calls from 6 pm-midnight :  Women are unsafe in Delhi when it's dark - a fact confirmed by the data analysis from the recently-launched 'Woman in Distress' helpline number 181.The helpline, which was launched on December 31 last year, has found favour among women. Whether they are followed by stalkers or they are facing some kind of domestic violence, they often prefer to dial 181 to register their grievances. Read more.
12:03  'Won't fly Dreamliner till US, DGCA clearance':  Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh today said the grounded fleet of Boeing Dreamliner aircraft would be allowed to fly only after clearance by US regulator Federal Aviation Administration and the DGCA.

"Certainly, we will not fly the Dreamliner until the FAA and our own DGCA give clearance," he said. The minister's statement came after national carrier Air India grounded all its six Boeing-787 Dreamliner planes after a global directive by FAA to stop operations of all the 50 such planes delivered so far to various airlines.
On the extent of seriousness of the problem with the aircraft, Singh said, "How long it will take, we will all know only in a couple of days but there are about 50 dreamliners in operation for more than a year, therefore more than 50,000 miles. So let us hope they can find a solution soon." The Minister said he had talked to the FAA and the US regulator has said that "it will check all the planes, entire system because of this battery problem".
11:57  On Brutal Sikar gangrape: Have all our systems collapsed? Read
11:54  Lance Armstrong v Oprah Winfrey: The confessional-interview guide:  Lance Armstrong's interview with Oprah Winfrey is the latest in a line of TV confessionals, from Hugh Grant to Princess Diana. Tips on making a big impression. Read
11:50  Dreamliner grounding means a nightmare for Boeing:  Even as Air India has grounded all its six Dreamliner aircraft following advice by DGCA, globally, the grounding of half the global fleet of the new 787 airliner following a series of scares can threaten to forever stamp it as unreliable and unsafe. Read
11:38  'Pakistan should be ashamed of what it is doing':  Slamming Pakistan, Indian villagers living in the border district of Poonch have asked Islamabad to immediately stop repeated violations of ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir. Irate due to the firing from across the border that have heightened the difficulties and adversely impacted the livelihood of the residents, locals lashed out at Pakistan. Read the report on

Also read Sankarshan Thakur's essay, written during the Kargil war: Kargil: One Side of a Bleeding Fence
11:27  We don't need anyone's help: Antara Mali:  A day after the TOI story (Man who immortalised Rekha rescued from streets) of veteran photographer Jagdish Mali being rescued from the streets in Versova in a decrepit condition, his daughter, former actress Antara Mali speaks. Read
11:23  French knighthood for Indian sculptor Subodh Gupta:  The French government will bestow the award of Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters (Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) on internationally renowned sculptor-artist Subodh Gupta.

The honour comes in recognition of an artist whose remarkable originality has been inspired by the daily life of an India on the move, while maintaining special ties with France, where some of his earliest exhibitions were held.
Franois Richier, Ambassador of France to India, will confer the distinction on Gupta at the inauguration of the Bonjour India 2013 festival on Sunday, 20 January 2013, at 9.30 pm at the Trident, Mumbai.

Indian recipients of this honour in the past include Shahrukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Raghu Rai, Ebrahim Alkazi, the late Habib Tanveer, and Upamanyu Chatterjee.
11:15  LoC quiet; India yet to respond to Khar's offer for talks:  It was all quiet at the Line of Control (LoC) after Indian and Pakistan forces agreed not to violate the ceasefire, army sources said on Thursday. There was no incident of firing reported from theLoC on Wednesday night, an Army source said. Read
11:11  Cut across all verbal taboos:  And on the Indian Express, Chitra Subramaniam-Duella's column: Words influence thinking. When they enter the language, they exude power in ways that can destroy vested interests. We are witnessing this power that partly explains why some parts of New Delhi are fortresses. Read
11:08  The reality principle:  Pratap Bhanu Mehta on the Indian Express: Cautious prudence on Pakistan has served us better than 'realistic' illusions of force. Read
11:01  Beware the dogs of war:  If our politicians cannot defend the ceasefire, the biggest gain of the India-Pakistan dialogue, they should stop claiming they represent Kashmir's best interests. Read
10:59  Targeted chaos:  Pakistan, economic hardship, blackouts and political quibbling, the only thing that had so long seemed certain was Pakistan being able to keep its date with a historic transfer of power -- from one democratically-elected government to another. Read
10:54  Promise of calm after DGMOs talk:  After a week of almost daily exchange of fire on the Line of Control (LoC) in the Mendhar sector, India and Pakistan Wednesday agreed to make efforts to de-escalate the matter by strictly adhering to the ceasefire agreement. Read
10:52  Churn in Pak, local pressure behind Indias tough stand:  The government's decision to adopt a hard line against Pakistan over the killing of two Indian soldiers on the Line of Control was taken on Monday at a hurriedly called meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), which resulted in the suspension of the implementation of the new visa agreement and cooling of sporting ties.

A day later, it also saw Prime Minister Manmohan Singh making his first comments on the incident, warning Islamabad that it cannot be business as usual and demanding that those responsible for beheading an Indian soldier be brought to book. More
10:50  Firebrand cleric Tahirul Qadri raises fear of 'soft coup' in Pak:  To Pakistan's ruling party, a firebrand cleric camped outside parliament with thousands of protesters is looking more and more like the harbinger of their worst fear: a plan by the military to engineer a "soft coup". Read
10:46  Dog squads to be deployed at Wagah transit point:   Dog squads will soon be deployed at the Attari-Wagah international transit point by customs authorities to sniff out drugs being smuggled into India from Pakistan. According to a Finance Ministry proposal, around 130 of the animals will be trained in batches at the National Training Center for Dogs (NTCD) in Madhya Pradesh in the next two years. Read more
10:45  Pak army offers truce to keep LoC calm:  Update on the what's happening at the LoC... In a major climb-down after facing military as well as diplomatic heat from India, the Pakistani Army on Wednesday shed its earlier confrontationist attitude to declare its troops would now firmly uphold the ceasefire agreement and exercise restraint on the 778-km-long Line of Control (LoC). Read
10:39  President heads to Kolkata over the weekend:  President Pranab Mukherjee will undertake a four-day visit to Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal from today. Mukherjee will travel to Hyderabad to inaugurate the 28th Congress of Asia Pacific-Academy of Ophthalmology in conjunction with the 71st Annual Conference of All India Ophthalmological Society. From there, Mukherjee will move to West Bengal where he will inaugurate the 150th Birth Anniversary celebrations of Swami Vivekananda in Kolkata on Friday.
10:31  BCCI may move Women's World Cup out of Mumbai:  
CNN-IBN reports: The BCCI is likely to shift the Womens World Cup out of Mumbai in order to keep the tournament. According to CNN-IBN sources, Kolkata and Bangalore are being considered as alternative venues.

This is being mulled after protests against Pakistani players in India following the killing of two Indian soldiers at the Line of Control earlier this month. 

The Pakistani players featuring in the Hockey India League had to fly back on Wednesday due to the vehement protests from several political parties and their supporters.

However, the two-city tournament is subject to visa approval for the Pakistani team. The Pakistani camp is optimistic that things will soon be back in order. There are fears that India could lose the tournament if the Pakistani team dont get to feature in it.
10:26  HCL Tech Q2 net up 68.5 pc at Rs 964.7 cr:  
Software services major HCL Technologies on Thursday reported a 68.5 per cent jump in its net profit at Rs 964.7 crore for the quarter ended December 31, 2012, driven by growth in infrastructure and financial services.

The company's net profit stood at Rs 572.7 crore in the October-December quarter of 2011, HCL Technologies said in a statement. It follows July-June fiscal year.

HCL Technologies also announced that Anant Gupta has been elevated to the position of President and CEO, replacing Vineet Nayar. He was earlier serving as the President and Chief Operating Officer.

Nayar would, however, continue his role as Vice Chairman of the company.

HCL Tech's revenues stood at Rs 6,273.8 crore during the reported quarter, up 19.6 per cent from Rs 5,245.2 crore in the same quarter of FY12. 
09:41  Sensex sheds 34 points in opening trade:  
The BSE benchmark Sensex on Thursday declined by over 34 points in early trade as funds and retail investors booked profits after recent gains amid a weak trend in global markets.

The 30-share barometer fell by 34.22 points, or 0.17 per cent, to 19,783.41. The index had lost 169.19 points on Wednesday.

Stocks of metal, banking, power, consumer durables and FMCG sectors declined due to profit-booking. 

Similarly, the wide-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty fell by 13.75 points, or 0.22 per cent, to 5,988.10.
09:39  Air India grounds its 787 Dreamliner fleet:  
Air India has grounded all its six Dreamliner aircraft following advice by DGCA.

Such a directive to "temporarily cease operations" comes after the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) conducted an investigation of an in-flight Boeing 787 battery incident in Japan on Wednesday, which posed a question on a potential battery fire risk in the 787.

"Before further flight, operators of US-registered, Boeing 787 aircraft must demonstrate to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that the batteries are safe," the FAA said in a statement.

The United Airlines, which is currently the only American airlines operating the 787, with six airplanes in service, announced to immediately suspend the services of its Dreamliners.

Early this month United Airlines has introduced daily nonstop 787 Dreamliner service between Los Angeles and Tokyo. 

There was no immediate reaction from Air India, which is among the few international airlines in Asia to boast of the Dreamliners.
08:55  Jharkhand may go under President's rule today:  
The Union Cabinet is likely to recommend on Thursday the imposition of President's rule in Jharkhand, which is facing political instability, while keeping the assembly in suspended animation.

The state is expected to come under a spell of central rule as no party or combination of parties is in a position to form a government in the wake of fall of the BJP-led coalition last week, official sources said.

The Home Ministry has prepared a note on the basis of the report sent by Governor Syed Ahmed which will be placed before the Cabinet on Thursday, the sources said.

The Governor has recommended President's rule in the state while keeping the assembly under suspended animation.

The recommendation was made in his second report to the Centre on the political situation in the wake of the resignation of Chief Minister Arjun Munda who also sought dissolution of the assembly after Jharkhand Mukti Morcha withdrew support to his government.
08:49  All Boeing 787 Dreamliners grounded:  
US federal agency has asked its airlines to ground the Boeing 787, popularly known as Dreamliner, due to safety hazard. 

Such a directive to "temporarily cease operations" comes after the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) conducted an investigation of an in-flight Boeing 787 battery incident in Japan yesterday, which posed a question on a potential battery fire risk in the 787.

"Before further flight, operators of US-registered, Boeing 787 aircraft must demonstrate to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that the batteries are safe," the FAA said in a statement on Wednesday.

The United Airlines, which is currently the only American airlines operating the 787, with six airplanes in service, announced to immediately suspend the services of its Dreamliners.

Early this month United Airlines has introduced daily nonstop 787 Dreamliner service between Los Angeles and Tokyo. 

There was no immediate reaction from Air India, which is among the few international airlines in Asia to boast of the Dreamliners.

FAA said the in-flight Japanese battery incident followed an earlier 787 battery incident that occurred on the ground in Boston on January 7, 2013. The airworthiness directive (AD) is prompted by this second incident involving a lithium ion battery.
08:45  Iran TV broadcasts 'confession by Western spy':  
Iranian state television has broadcast what it said was the "confession" of a Westerner who said he had spied for the US Central Intelligence Agency. 

In a report entitled "The hunter trapped," it showed on Wednesday a long-haired man of European appearance in his thirties identified as Matti Valok, whose nationality was not given.

It said he was arrested in August after being kept under surveillance for several months by Iran's security services, and broadcast footage of the suspect in Tehran streets and in a hotel in the capital.

The channel said the suspect was accused of contacting Iranian scientists to seek information on "the country's scientific progress," using a Slovakia-based international recruitment agency that he had created. 

In the report, "Valok" tells how he was recruited by a US agent he named as Steve Logano. 

"He told me I had to keep in close contact with the people I met in Iran," he said, before adding his "apologies to the Iranian people." 

Tehran regularly accuses the United States of espionage in Iran, but it is rare for foreigners admitting such activities to be shown on television.
08:43  Rana's lawyers plead mercy, seek 9-yr prison term:  
Defence attorneys are seeking no more than a nine-year prison term for a US businessman convicted of backing terrorism in Denmark and supporting a terrorist group that staged attacks in 2008 in Mumbai.

A defence filing before Tahawwur Rana's sentencing on Thursday describes him as charitable and kind-hearted. It says he was duped into participation by a manipulative childhood friend, David Coleman Headley.

Prosecutors are asking a federal judge to impose the maximum 30-year sentence. 

Jurors in 2011 convicted Rana of supporting a plot to attack a Danish newspaper that printed blasphemous caricatures and for supporting the group that attacked in Mumbai, killing more than 160 people.

Headley has pleaded guilty to laying the groundwork for the Mumbai attacks and testified against Rana.
01:48  Americans taken after Algeria attack: US:  AP reports: Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said today the US 'will take all necessary and proper steps' to deal with an Islamist attack on a natural gas field in southern Algeria that has resulted in Americans and other foreigners taken hostage.

Panetta would not detail what such steps might be in response to what he called a 'terrorist attack'. A terrorist group that claimed responsibility says it's holding seven Americans, but State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said she wouldn't provide details to protect those who were kidnapped.
01:42  Wave of Iraq attacks kills 42:  AFP reports: Attacks in Baghdad and north Iraq killed 42 people today as hundreds attended the funeral of a Sunni MP who died in a suicide attack a day earlier, as a political crisis grips the country.

The violence, which struck mostly in disputed territory in the north and which officials also said wounded at least 245 people, was the deadliest this year. It comes as Iraq grapples with a long-running political dispute, with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki facing several protests in hardening opposition against his rule and calls from many of his erstwhile government partners for his ouster.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, but Sunni militants often launch waves of violence in a bid to destabilise the government and push Iraq back towards the sectarian violence that blighted it from 2005 to 2008.
01:23  Dialogue right way to deescalate LoC tensions: US:   Washington, Jan 16 (PTI) US today said dialogue is the right way to resolve differences between India and Pakistan, in particular the ongoing tensions along the LoC.

"We favour dialogue between India and Pakistan on this issue in any and all channels that both governments consider appropriate. That's the right way to work through this," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters at her daily news conference.

"We were happy just in the last 24 hours to see both governments recommit to dialogue as the right way forward on this, and that's what we support," she said.
00:39  1 killed in sectarian clash in Lucknow:  One person was killed while over a dozen others were injured in sectarian clash that broke out in old city area here today, police said.

Tension broke out between two communities during a religious ceremony in Wazirganj area, leading to firing between them, they said.

Principal Secretary Home R M Srivastava told PTI that one person was killed in the incident. The injured were admitted to a hospital.
00:25  Khar offers talks to deescalate tensions along LoC:  As India and Pakistan agreed to deescalate the situation along the border, Islamabad tonight offered to hold talks with New Delhi to address concerns related to the LoC and to reinforce a nine-year-old ceasefire, saying any increase in tensions would be counter-productive.

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, who had earlier accused India of engaging in war-mongering, offered to have talks with her Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid to address concerns related to the Line of Control and to reinforce the ceasefire that had been in operation since 2003.
00:19  Mubarak pays back $3 million for gifts:  AP reports: An Egyptian prosecutor says oustedPresident Hosni Mubarak and his family paid back $3 million for gifts they received from a state newspaper while he was still in office.

The gifts, including watches, bags and jewellery, were a traditional show of loyalty by the Al-Ahram daily. Prosecutor Mustafa Hussein said today he accepted an offer from Mubarak's lawyer to settle the case over the gifts.

Mubarak was questioned about the gifts on Saturday and Hussein ordered a 15-day detention for him, pending further interrogations.
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