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Bo Xilai appoints lawyers for trial

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January 18, 2013

23:55  I will take Shiv Sena one step ahead, claims Uddhav:  Amid reports of power tussles within Shiv Sena, its executive president Uddhav Thackeray today said he would take the party "one step ahead".

"I am Balasaheb's son. He brought the party to this level. I assure you that I will take Shiv Sena one step ahead than my father," Uddhav said at function. 

Internal power tussles have been witnessed in the Sena units at Nashik, Kolhapur and Auranagabad in the last few weeks, putting a question mark on the party's prospects.

Referring to the tussles, Uddhav said: "Some people are saying that Shiv Sena will end....but I am saying I will not sit quiet till it is taken one step ahead."
23:53   Bo Xilai appoints lawyers for trial:  AP reports: Disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai has appointed two defence lawyers to represent him at his future trial on bribery and other charges, the attorneys' staff said today.

The appointments are a crucial step ahead of a criminal trial for Bo, whose downfall was one of the biggest scandals to hit the ruling Communist Party in decades and exposed deep divisions in the top leadership.

Bo requested that Li Guifang and Wang Zhaofeng, both partners at the Deheng Law Offices in Beijing, represent him at his trial, the lawyers' secretaries confirmed to AFP.

"(Li) is Bo Xilai's lawyer, appointed by family members and Bo himself," Li's secretary said. Wang's secretary repeated a similar statement from Wang.
23:29  100 foreign hostages freed, 30 missing in Algeria:  Algerian special forces have freed about 100 foreign hostages from Islamist gunmen at a remote gas plant near the Libyan border, but some 30 are still missing, national media said today.

"Around 100 foreigners out of 132 hostages seized by a terrorist group that attacked the Tiguentourine gas plant on Wednesday have been freed," APS reported, citing a security official.

The Algerian news agency had said earlier that 'more than half' of the foreign hostages had been freed in the rescue operation, along with 573 Algerians, some of whom spoke of their ordeal on Algerian television.
23:01  Fauja Singh, 101, to run in Mumbai Marathon:  The world's oldest runner Fauja Singh, 101, will be participating in the 10th Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon on Sunday in what could be his first and last appearance in the city.

Singh, who lives in London, will participate in the 4.3 km event for senior citizens. He would turn 102 in April.

He said he will retire after the Hong Kong Marathon of February 24. "I am enjoying it. The adulation keeps me motivated," he told reporters here.
22:18  1or 2' incidents of crime against women: Mamata:   West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today said that there might have been 'one or two incidents' of crime against women in the state and criticised political rivals and the media for claiming that they were feeling 'unsafe'.

"There may be one or two incidents. But that too should not happen and we are for strong action to deal with such crimes. But it is highlighted to give a wrong picture," Banerjee said at a government programme.

Stating that those who committed crimes against women were enemies of society, the chief minister asked women at the programme, "Do you feel unsafe to move out on the roads in the evening?" Several women responded with a 'no'.

She said, "All brothers have the responsibility to protect the honour of their sisters," she said.
22:00  Senior Chinese official sacked over sex scandal:  A senior Chinese official has been sacked for 'improper lifestyle' after a jilted lover detailed their alleged affair in a lengthy online post, state media reported.

Yi Junqing, head of the Party's compilation and translation bureau, had been removed from the post for his 'improper lifestyle', State-run Xinhua news agency reported.
21:57  New rules bar foreign gay, lesbian couples from surrogacy:  Foreign gay and lesbian couples will be unable to rent a womb in the country from now on as per the new rules notified by the Union Home ministry.

Besides couples from European countries will also not be able to have kids through surrogacy in India unless their country of origin recognises surrogacy. Most European countries do not allow commercial surrogacy.

The rules notified recently to regulate the flourishing surrogacy practice in India prohibit foreign gay and lesbian couples from doing so and allows it only to those couples who have been married for two years.
21:52  Havelivala seeks bail from Bombay HC:  Nooriya Havelivala, the NRI beautician who has filed appeal against her conviction in a hit-and-run case, today sought bail from the Bombay High Court.

Haveliwala's lawyer, Abad Ponda, argued that bail should be granted in cases where accused has been sentenced to less than seven years in prison.

The Supreme Court had said that bail can be granted if the sentence is short, he said.
21:11  NASA joins in on US Presidential inauguration:  PBSblog says: If it's a clear day on Monday, GeoEye's satellites will capture incredible imagery of President Obama's second Inauguration and make them available for use by members of the media.

These images will be transmitted back to Earth in near real-time and, expanding from GeoEye's approach for the 2009 Inauguration, released as interactive web maps, which they're serving using MapBox.
21:08  Russian ballet director maimed in acid attack, may lose eyesight:  Washington Post reports: The artistic director of the renowned, and in recent years strife-torn, Bolshoi Ballet was returning home from a theatrical celebration with the city's glitterati when a masked man stepped out of the darkness and threw acid onto his face and eyes.

Sergei Filin, who was attacked about 11:30 pm. on Thursday, suffered third-degree burns. He underwent eye surgery Friday, according to Anatoly Iksanov, the Bolshoi's director, who said Filin would be flown to Belgium for treatment at a burn clinic.

Read the full story here
21:03  NGO objects to 'Matru' song over tobacco laws:  

A NGO has raised objection to a song of Bollywood film 'Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola' for purposefully trivialising the impact of laws regulating display of tobacco usage in film scenes, and asked the Health Ministry and the film-maker to remove it.         


The NGO, 'HRIDAY', has written to the Ministry asking it to take cognisance of the violation by the filmmaker.         


It said the song 'Khatra hai bhai khatra hai' that appears soon after mandatory health spots are aired in the beginning of the film, has purposefully trivialised impact of tobacco control laws and makes mockery of the fact that even one instance of tobacco use is dangerous for health.         


"In this light, we strongly urge the Ministry of Health to identify this as a gross violation of the Indian tobacco control law and issue warning/notice to the filmmaker to remove the song from the film with immediate effect," it said.

20:22  Lalu bats for Rahul Gandhi as PM candidate:  

RJD leader Lalu Prasad today batted for Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi to be the prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 general elections, and said Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's "dream of becoming PM will never come true".        


"Modi's prime ministerial dream is not going to come true... His dream of coming to Hastinapur will never materialise," he said, retorting, "What is wrong with Rahul Gandhi, tell me?"        


Prasad was talking to reporters on the sidelines of a FICCI Ladies Organisation programme in New Delhi. A dozen people were being projected as Prime Minister, but it did not mean that they would become the one, he said.

20:09  650 hostages freed from Algeria gas complex:  As many as 650 hostages have been freed by Algerian special forces at a gas complex in Algeria, where they had been held hostage by Islamic militants, according to CNN.

Read more about the hostage crisis here
20:08  Two snow control rooms set up in Kashmir:  In the wake of heavy snowfall in Kashmir Valley and parts of Jammu division, the state government today set up two control rooms to ensure minimum disruption of services.        

Two control rooms, one each at Kashmir and Jammu, have been set up to monitor snow clearance activities, Minister Roads and Buildings and Mechanical Engineering Department Abdul Majeed Wani told reporters.        

"The control room for Jammu is at Engineering Institute Ganghinagar, while at Kashmir it has been set up at chief engineer, MED office at Shaltaing," he said.
20:07  President's rule imposed in Jharkhand:  
President's rule has been imposed in Jharkhand.

President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday night signed a proclamation on central rule in the state, according to Rashtrapati Bhavan sources.
19:34  UP: Priyanka stops convoy to interact with students :  Priyanka Gandhi today stopped her convoy after seeing students of a local institute waiting to approach her and heard their concerns over the rising incidents of harassment of women.        

Party sources said that the star Congress campaigner spoke to the girls on her visit to Sonia Gandhi's parliamentary constituency Rae Bareli, after stopping her convoy at the Civil Lines crossing.        

The students complained about the lack of security for women and the poor law and order situation.
18:59  Dantewada: Naxals fire at IAF chopper:   A helicopter of the Indian Air Force, which had gone missing in the Naxal-affected district of Dantewada District in Chattisgarh, has been traced.

The chopper was traced at Timarpur near Sukhma.

The chopper was on a rescue mission to airlift two jawans who had been injured in a Naxal strike.

Suspected Naxals fired at the IAF chopper in Chhattisgarh. One person on board was hit, said official sources.
18:45  Don't mention caste in school certificate: Ambedkar :  The mention of caste should be removed from school leaving certificates, Prakash Ambedkar, grandson of Babasaheb Ambedkar and Bharip Bahujan Mahasangh president, has said.        

"I have my religious identity and I have my national identity. Only these two identities should be mentioned in the certificate," he said.       

"There are many in the present system who do not insist on mentioning their caste. A way out should be found. It should be optional whether one wants to mention caste or not," he said.
18:44  Italian marines to be under SC 'custody' in Delhi :  The two Italian marines, who are facing charges of killing two Indian fishermen, will be shifted to Delhi from Kerala. They will be under the 'custody' of the Supreme Court till the Centre constitutes a special court to hold their trial.        

Clarifying its order hours after it passed the verdict on the plea of the Italy government rejecting their claim -- that Indian courts have no jurisdiction in the case -- the Supreme Court said that the marines will remain in Delhi and they will report to the Chanakyapuri police station till the special court is set up.
18:07  SC directs lower court not to deliver verdict on Modi:  
CNN-IBN reports: The Supreme Court has ordered a local court in Gujarat not to pronounce its verdict on the alleged role of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 riots in the state. 

The Supreme Court ruled that until its decision of Zakia Jafri's petition is not announced, the Gujarat court should not give its verdict. 

The magistrate has to decide whether the Special Investigation Team's closure report is to be accepted or not.

Zakia, the widow of former Congress MP Ehsaan Jafri who was killed during the riots, had filed a petition in the Supreme Court that the SIT had not given her all the documents so she should be provided those documents. Now the Supreme Court will decide whether the documents would be given to Zakia or not.
17:58  All's not well at the media centre at Congress party's Chintan Shivir in Jaipur.

From inadequate food to lack of fax machines, journalists are fuming with anger over the shoddy arrangements.

The Jaipuri Kachoris, Jalebis and Khari biscuits reportedly vanished in 20 minutes flat.

Adding fuel to fire, there no cups available to serve tea or coffee either.

The new US presidential portrait of Barack Obama is out. Check it out here

Obama will be sworn in to begin his second term as President of the United States, along with Joe Biden as Vice President, on January 21

17:40  Avalanche warning in Kashmir Valley:  
With snowfall continuing across Kashmir Valley, authorities on Friday issued a warning about a "high danger" avalanche in several areas close to the Line of Control in Kupwara and Bandipora districts.

"High danger avalanche warning has been issued for higher reaches of Naugam and Kaiyan near the LoC in Kupwara and Gurez sector of Bandipora district for the next 24 hours," an official of the Natural Disaster Management Cell said in Srinagar.

He said "medium danger" avalanche warning has also been issued for higher reaches of Chowkibal, Tangdhar, Keran, Machil sectors in Kupwara and Gulmarg and Uri sectors in Baramulla and Sonamarg on Srinagar-leh national highway. 

"People staying in snow-bound areas of these locations have been advised not to venture out in avalanche-prone areas," he added. 
17:10  Heavy snowfall in J-K blocks vehicular movement :  Omar Abdullah tweets: Its no excuse but heavy snow causes disruptions the world over, success lies in timely restoration.

Here's the context: The vehicular movement on the 300-km-long Jammu-Srinagar National Highway (NH-1A) remained suspended after heavy snowfall on Friday, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded amid chaos and traffic bottlenecks.  

Incessant snowfall in Anantnag district has resulted in the closure of the NH-1A on Friday. The highway connects the Kashmir valley with the rest of the country.
17:03  Sonia's speech ignores inflation, price-rise:  Congress President Sonia Gandhi's speech at the party's Chintan Shivir in Jaipur tried hard to walk with the times. She tried to incorporate the subjects of street protests, the anguish of the youth and the changing ways of the modern world. But she didn't mention the issue of inflation and price rise. Read shortly on, Sheela Bhatt's take on the Sonia Gandhi's speech 
16:54  Delhi police chief outlines 3-point programme for security:  Terming the incident of gang rape of paramedical student as "turning point", Delhi Police Chief Neeraj Kumar today elaborated steps initiated by the force to ensure safety of women in the national capital.

The measures:
- Delhi Police has made its helpline functional 24x7.
- The issue of jurisdiction will not be a hindrance wherever prompt response is required from the force.
-- Every women police desk is being provided with an exclusive telephone line.
16:49  Not the first beheading: A soldier's widow tells of her grief :  While the entire nation was outraged over the Pakistani troops beheading Lance Naik Hemraj, there was one family that could actually feel the pain of the soldier's family. Tears still well up in Bina Adhikari's eyes when she recalls her personal tragedy. Bina's husband, Havaldar J.S. Adhikari, was among the two soldiers killed and beheaded by the Pakistan Army's Border Action Team in Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir on July 30, 2011. Read more
16:31  Pak envoy: Premature to talk about LoC probe:  Just in: Pakistan envoy Salman Bashir tells CNN IBN that it is premature to talk about a probe into the LoC killings. The two countries need to de-escalate tensions at the border first. 
16:29  Haven't been offered :  If you've been missing Helen Hunt, the 49-year-old Oscar-winner's universally acclaimed performance in The Sessions is quite a catch-up opportunity. Read
16:21  Sonia tells Pak: Be civilised!:  Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi's rhetoric on the LoC transgressions today has come under fire for being tepid. At the Chintan Shivir today, Sonis said India's dialogue with immediate neighbours must be based on accepted principles of civilised behaviour, in an apparent reference to Pakistan which has proposed talks between the Foreign Ministers.

"Better and closer relations with our immediate neighbours will not only make for regional peace - they will also have a positive impact on some of our own border states.

"However, let us be clear. Our dialogue must be based on accepted principles of civilised behaviour. We will never compromise on our vigil and preparedness to deal with terrorism and threats on our borders," she said in her address.
16:14  Why Indias diesel move could backfire:  India's decision to allow oil companies to raise diesel prices could have little impact on the country's finances and also backfire in the polls, analysts say. Read
16:11  When a frosty Pakistan is good for India:  Just when people in Delhi were getting ready to stash away their woollies as teeth-chattering cold weather gave way to a surprisingly warm spell, rain and hail hit the city overnight. Chunks of ice thudded on to car roofs or clanged against lamp-posts early Friday, waking several residents. Blame it on Pakistan.Read
16:07  Google boss: Facebook 'doing a really bad job':  Larry Page, Google's chief executive says Facebook is "doing a really bad job on their products". Here's why.
16:02  Google pulls 'Make Me Asian' app after uproar:  Google has removed a "Make Me Asian" app -- that let players change their appearance -- following an uproar by Asian American activists who said the game promoted derogatory stereotypes.

As of yesterday, "Make Me Asian" and similar apps such as "Make Me Fat" and "Make Me (American) Indian" were no longer available on the search engine giant's online store Google Play.

"Make Me Asian" had billed itself as allowing a person to "make himself a Chinese, Japanese, Korean or any other Asian."

The user was able to add features to a person's picture, such as a conical hat or a Fu Manchu moustache. Nearly 8,500 people signed a petition on the social action site urging Google to remove the app after the blog Angry Asian Man in November drew attention to it, calling it "ridiculously racist."
15:57  The Journals and Diaries of E.M. Forster:  In 1929 E.M. Forster accompanied his close friend Florence Barger and her husband to a conference in South Africa, and kept a detailed journal of the two-month round trip. After the conference they left Pretoria to join a ship at the port of Beira in Mozambique. Here are excerpts from the journal. Read
15:42  Fast track court acquits man accused of raping his tenant:  A man accused of raping his tenant has been acquitted by a fast track court here which said the police have been unable to prove the case against him after the alleged victim turned hostile during trial. The judgement was passed by one of the special fast track courts set up here to try exclusively cases related to sexual offences.
15:25  Cuttack to host Pakistan women's cricket team:  Odisha Cricket Association will host the Group-B matches of the ICC Women's World Cup, involving Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. With tension mounting on the Indo-Pak border and uncertainty looming large over the Pakistan women cricket team's participation in the World Cup, the BCCI had approached its affiliated state units to suggest alternative venues. Visas for the Pakistan team have been cleared.
15:22  India takes note of 'positive indications' from Pak:  India today noted the "positive indications" from Pakistan following the tension at Line of Control (LoC) in the wake of beheading of its soldier and said it will give an "appropriate" response if Islamabad makes a formal proposal for talks between the foreign ministers.

"These are positive indications, good indications. Let us wait for formal proposal then we can respond formally," External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told reporters here. He was asked about the offer of Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar for discussions on "all" concerns related to LoC.

Replying to queries, Khurshid said, "Don't use words like softening and hardening (of stand). There is a positive content in some of the statements that have come from both the (Pakistani) Foreign Minister and the High Commissioner (in Delhi).

"The positive content in it is welcome and it should be getting an appropriate response from our side," the Minister said, a day after he had stated that talks at the Foreign Ministers' level cannot be done in a rush.

On the LoC incident in which two soldiers were killed on January 8, Khurshid said it had caused "enormous hurt, pain and now a complete solution is still not evident".

He said there were "very deep concerns" because of what happened and "we are trying to ensure that those get addressed and the situation also does not deteriorate. All these things have to be kept in mind".

On the peace process, he said it was strategically and tactically important for India's role in the world and, therefore, "its importance is not going to be undermined by incidents that happen from time to time. "Peace process is something in which we have invested a lot of time and we have done it emotionally."
15:05  Shashi Tharoor tweets: Even the bottles of mineral water available to the delegates at the AICC Chintan Shivir carry the slogan "replenish, renew & repeat"!
15:00  Tavleen Singh tweets: Sonia Gandhi should sack her speech writer: what a litany of dreary platitudes! unlikely to put zing into the chintan shivir.
14:57  Sonia's Chintan: Avoid lavish weddings, ostentation:  Citizens rightly fed up with the level of corruption in public life, says Sonia and urged partymen to be austere; lavish weddings will lead to questions on where money came from. We cannot allow middle class to be disillusioned, she said.
14:48  Cong floundered because we didn't work as a team: Sonia:  As expected Pakistan and the rise in crimes against women weigh heavily on the mind of 300 chosen delegates. Congress president Sonia Gandhi spoke 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.

Sonia said, "We have floundered many opportunities simply because we have not worked as a team. Dialogue with neighbours must be based on accepted principles of civilised behaviour. New India is more demanding, less tolerant," she warned party men.
14:42  Sonia's Chintan: Remaining in power not sole focus :  Addressing the meet on the first day, Sonia says inclusive growth is not a political ploy. "We have to balance development and social harmony, which are really two sides of the same coin. We must balance alliances and policies," said Sonia reading from prepared notes. 

Addressing the younger leaders she says the brazen display of wealth is a cause for worry. "Avoid ostentation. The display of wealth by younger leaders is a worrying trend and makes me think, 'where is this wealth coming from'."

That statement was greeted with much applause.

She also said rampant sexual harassment was disturbing.

Addressing the LoC killings, she said Pakistan must be civilized. "Good relations bring peace," she said. 
14:28  Sonia at Chintan Shibir: Time to look at weaknesses:  Congress president Sonia Gandhi speaking at the Chintan Shibir. The All India Congress Committee is meeting today for a three-day brain storming session in Jaipur. Addressing the meet, Sonia says, "We are meeting after nine years. We are the only pan-India party, and in these nine years there have been enormous economic and social changes. The meet is being held to help us look at the way ahead, introspect and relook our strengths and weaknesses."

She said women's safety was the top focus and would always remain a priority.  
14:23  $13,000 kiss: Saudi man pays hefty price for extramarital peck:  You wouldn't mind making your first mortgage payment of $100,000, nor would you mind making your first down payment of $10,000 on a new vehicle, but would you struggle to make a payment of $13,000 for one kiss? A man in Saudi Arabia paid his wife $13,000 so that she can forgive him for making out with their Ethiopian maid, according to the Saudi Gazette. Read
14:17  NAB officer probing graft charges involving Pak PM found dead:  A senior Pakistani official who was investigating corruption charges involving Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf was found dead here today, police said. Kamran Faisal, an Assistant Director of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), had apparently committed suicide, police officials said.

Faisal, who was found dead in his room at his official accommodation at the Federal Lodges in Islamabad, was one of the two investigation officers probing allegations of graft in rental power projects.

The Supreme Court had last year directed NAB to take action against Prime Minister Ashraf and over 20 other suspects in connection with these allegations. The allegations against Ashraf date back to his tenure as power minister.
14:10  The art of the deal:   David Headley saves his own life in a Chicago courtroom. All that you wanted to know about the trial. Read
14:06  It's very scary to be a girl in North India: Abhishek Kapoor:  Director Abhishek Kapoor on why the cause of rapes runs deeper than we think, and why Bollywood needs an overhaul. Read
14:03  Jairam: Cong won't come to power on its own:  External Affairs Salman Khurshid on Friday refused to comment on Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh's comment that the ruling Congress Party has structural issues, and that it would not be possible for it to come to power on its own soon.

Khurshid was interacting with the media in Jaipur. Ramesh earlier told CNN-IBN that that he didn't think the Congress could come to power on its own. "The Congress has structural issues," he added.

Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati on her part said that Jairam Ramesh was saying nothing new. "What is new in what he is saying? The Congress government is in power with the support of other parties. The UPA I was also formed under Congress, with support from other parties," she said.  
13:48  The Behenji Phobia:  Ever dissed a woman on 'looking like a behenji'? One proud behenji speaks up. Read
13:29  Army chief meets martyr Sudhakar Singh's family:  Just in: Army chief Bikram Singh meets the family of the slain jawan -- Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh at his village. The General had met slain Lance Naik Hemraj Singh's family in Kosi Kalan in Uttar Pradesh, two days ago. Hemraj and Sudhakar were killed on January 8 by Pakistani troops in a ceasefire violation by Pakistan in the Poonch sector.
13:21  Veni, vidi, vici. Now the Pope is to Tweet in Latin:  The Pope has amassed 2.5 million followers within a month. Now he will communicate in the most concise language of them all -- Latin. Read
13:17  Horse DNA in burgers may have come from additives:  The Tesco burgers in the UK that contained up to 29% equine DNA were likely to have been made with high-protein powders derived from horse rather than freshmeat, the Guardian has been told.
Hardly comfort food, but read.
13:13  Cong workers want larger role for Rahul in party: Digvijaya:  Congress workers want Rahul Gandhi to play a "pre-dominant" role in the party but the young leader should not be pressurised, Digvijay Singh said today.

"The sentiment of Congress worker is that he plays a larger and predominant role in the Congress party," the senior leader said, virtually setting the tone for the three-day conclave.

His remarks come ahead of the Chintan Shivir beginning this afternoon and the AICC meet that will follow on Sunday to determine the future course of action for Congress as it prepares for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
12:56  Dear Abby, You will be missed...:  Dear Abby: My wife sleeps in the raw. Then she showers, brushes her teeth and fixes our breakfast still in the buff. Were newlyweds and there are just the two of us, so I suppose theres really nothing wrong with it. What do you think? Ed

Dear Ed: Its O.K. with me. But tell her to put on an apron when shes frying bacon.

The New York Times pays tribute to Pauline Phillips, flinty adviser to millions as Dear Abby, who died at 94.  Read
12:54  How to survive being 13:  A survey suggests that 13 is the most difficult age of all. A 14-year-old explains how to get through it. Really cool read.
12:49  Pen gifted to Mountbatten by Maharaja of Jodhpur up for sale:  Strictly for nostalgia lovers. A gold-plated pen hiding a secret pistol gifted to the last Viceroy of India, Lord Mountbatten, for his protection by the then Maharaja of Jodhpur will go under the hammer here.

The handmade pen which is expected to fetch between 5,000 pounds and 7,000 pounds remained with Mountbatten's family until recently when it was bought by an unknown collector in Yorkshire, the 'Daily Mail' reported. "The Maharaja of Jodhpur built it for his friend in case he got himself in a position where he had to sign something which he did not wish to sign - either to kill himself or the enemy," Nicholas Holt, founder of Holt's Auctioneers which is selling the item, said.
12:43  Across the world, ever since the French military intervention in Mali, known as Operation Serval, began last week, the internet has been buzzing with talk about its motives. Is France really only trying to contain a terrorist threat, as it claims? Or do major world powers have other, more sinister interests at stake? At its root, what is the conflict in Mali about? Read
12:34  The school principal of the juvenile arrested in the gang rape and murder case of the 23-year-old medical student has submitted before a Juvenile Justice Board that as per the school records the accused is 17 years and six months old. The juvenile is one of the six arrested men accused of raping and brutally assaulting the medical student, who died less than two weeks after the incident. If he is in fact tried as an adult he can be given a life term, but as a juvenile he gets off with a lighter sentence of a few years at the most.
12:31  Gang rape: SC admits plea to deem juvenile as adult:  Just in: The Supreme Court admits a plea to consider the juvenile accused in the Delhi gang-rape case as an adult. 
12:30  Making a mockery of domestic gas pricing:  The Rangarajan Committee report recognises the price sensitivity of gas demand in India, yet, like most government documents, it presents indefensible demand and supply numbers completely independent of gas prices. Read
12:24  Heavy snowfall leaves Kashmir Valley inaccessible:  Heavy snowfall across Kashmir has affected normal life and rendered the Valley cut off from the rest of the country with the Srinagar-Jammu national highway closed and air traffic suspended.

Snowfall, which began yesterday, has continued and resulted in the snapping of electricity and water supply lines in several parts of the Valley, official sources said.

Although the snow has been cleared from almost all major roads of the Valley, it is learnt that many interior roads are still covered with snow. An official of the disaster management cell said that the ski resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir had received the highest snowfall with three feet of fresh snow accumulated there.
12:21  Avalanche warning for J&K, Himachal Pradesh:  Avalanche warning has been issued for Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.

Heavy rains and hailstorm lashed the national capital this morning, slowing down vehicular movement in the city. The rain gauges measured 21 mm of rain till 8:30 am. The showers slowed down the vehicular movement in the city, which had received light rains yesterday morning.

The rains revisited the city late last night at around 11 pm and continued till today. The minimum temperature rose to 11.3 degree Celsius, four degrees above normal and up from yesterday's 9.7 degrees. However, the windchill factor added to the chill in the air. The weatherman has predicted more rains and thunderstorm in the capital tomorrow.
11:52  From the Marlboro Man to the more prosaic... UPA ally DMK demands reconsideration of diesel deregulation move, wants raise in LPG-cylinder cap.
11:52  Mr. Marlboro: The veteran jihadist behind the attack in Algeria:  His name is Moktar Belmoktar, an Algerian who lost an eye while fighting in Afghanistan in his teens and has long been a target of French counter-terrorism forces.

Today, he leads a group called Al-Mulathameen Brigade (The Brigade of the Masked Ones), which is associated with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM.) In the last few years, he has cultivated allies and established cells far and wide across the region.

And is responsible for terrorist attack on a natural gas installation at In Amenas in eastern Algeria. Read
11:45  Intolerance breeds cycle of carnage in Pakistan:  A culture of violence against those deemed 'bad Muslims' endures in Pakistan. Read
11:42  Hey Asaram:  On the unsolicited dispensation of opinion by Godmen. Read Madhavankutty Pillai for Open. 
11:40  The politics of a messiah:  The Pakistan People's Party government may yet make history as the first elected government to complete its term in Pakistan. President Asif Ali Zardari appears to have won a battle of wits with Tahir-Ul Qadri, the Canadian-Pakistani who wanted Parliament dissolved and a caretaker government set up. Read
11:37  Louis Kahns Opus in the Delta:  In a case of architectural foreshadowing, the building of what would become Bangladesh's Parliament began nine years before the country even existed. Readabout the the making of Louis Kahn's magnificent Parliament building.
11:33  Three ways to improve life in custody:  In 1977, PA Sebastian co-founded the Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights, a human rights organization specializing in legal and institutional reform. Around 35 years later, despite health complications, Mr. Sebastian is still hard at work. Read
11:22  SC: Special court to try Italian marines :   Just in: The Supreme Court has ruled that the Kerala government has no jurisdiction to prosecute the Italian marines who had allegedly killed two Indian fishermen.

The prosecution of Italian marines will be conducted by the central govt, says the SC, while a Special Court will be set up by the Centre after consulting the Chief Justice of India for hearing the case against the marines.

In their petitions, the marines have argued that Kerala Police have no jurisdiction to register case against them as the incident took place in international waters. The Italian nationals have also asked the apex court to order quashing of criminal case against them.
11:10  'It did not feel wrong to take performance enhancing drugs':  More on the Lance Armstrong interview.

Oprah Winfrey: Did it feel wrong?
"No," Armstrong replied. "Scary."
"Did you feel bad about it?" Winfrey pressed him.
"No," he said. "Even scarier."
"Did you feel in any way that you were cheating?"
"No," Armstrong paused. "Scariest." "I went and looked up the definition of cheat," he added a moment later. "And the definition is to gain an advantage on a rival or foe. I didn't view it that way. I viewed it as a level playing field."

Wearing a blue blazer and open-neck shirt, Armstrong was direct and matter-of-fact, neither pained nor defensive. He looked straight ahead. There were no tears and very few laughs.

He dodged few questions and refused to implicate anyone else, even as he said it was humanly impossible to win seven straight Tours without doping. "I'm not comfortable talking about other people," Armstrong said. "I don't want to accuse anybody."
11:07  I am a flawed character: Armstrong:  Lance Armstrong finally admitted it. He doped. He was light on the details and didn't name names. He mused that he might not have been caught if not for his comeback in 2009.

And he was certain his "fate was sealed" when longtime friend, training partner and trusted lieutenant George Hincapie, who was along for the ride on all seven of Armstrong's Tour de France wins from 1999-2005, was forced to give him up to anti-doping authorities.

But right from the start and more than two dozen times during the first of a two-part interview last night with Oprah Winfrey on her OWN network, the disgraced former cycling champion acknowledged what he had lied about repeatedly for years, and what had been one of the worst-kept secrets for the better part of a week: He was the ringleader of an elaborate doping scheme on a US Postal Service team that swept him to the top of the podium at the Tour de France time after time. "I'm a flawed character," he said.
11:04  Read Praveen Swami's June 2011 piece: Tahawwur Rana was Mumbai terror minnow.
11:02  He forced me to undress when I was 6:   "Every day, I'm made to feel like a sex toy. It began early, at the tender age of six, when I was supposed to be paying with toys." A victim writes of the unending horror she has had to endure. Read
10:56  Narendra Modi's Delhi move nears, RSS relents:  Narendra Modi's move to New Delhi is beginning to look inevitable with the BJP's ideological patrons set to abandon their opposition to projecting a leader ahead of the 2014 general elections. Read
10:54  Now follow through:  The decision on diesel prices must be implemented ... Read
10:51  Also read: Is India Losing Faith in Democracy?
10:49  The Indian Spring:  Americans dismayed by politics in Washington might find something familiar in what's happening in India. Here, frustration with government has turned into rage. Read Fareed Zakaria's column on the Washington Post.
10:47  Do we want enemy at border or a friend, asks Digvijaya:  While on friends and and enemies, Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh cautioned against taking a hawkish line on the peace process, stating that before taking any decision "geographical compulsion' should be borne in mind and also whether India wants "an enemy or a friendly neighbour'. Read
10:44  Splinter groups battle Maoists, troops cash in:  An enemy's enemy, as the saying goes, is a friend. The principle seems to hold in the Bihar-Jharkhand border region where the CPI (Maoist) and government forces are locked in battle. Read
10:35  Rana's sentence should send tough message to terrorists: US:  The other big news that happened last night was the 14-year-jail term for Pakistani-Canadian Tahawwur Rana. US prosecutors said that the, the "serious" prison sentence for Rana should send a tough message to all individuals planning to indulge in any direct or indirect terrorist activities that they cannot escape detection and punishment.

The 52-year-old Rana, an accomplice of Mumbai attack terrorist David Headley, was yesterday sentenced to 14 years in jail followed by five years of supervised release for providing material support to Pakistan-based LeT and for backing a "dastardly" plot to attack a Danish newspaper.

"This serious prison sentence should go a long way towards convincing would-be terrorists that they can't hide behind the scenes, lend support to the violent aims of terrorist organisations and escape detection and punishment," said Gary S Shapiro, Acting US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

The US District Judge Harry D Leinenweber gave his order after hearing from both the government attorney and those of Rana, during which the two argued on the length of imprisonment. The last minute arguments lasted for more than an hour and half before the judge noted "This certainly was a dastardly plot".
10:27  So how much is Lance Armstrong worth?:  So, Lance Armstrong has admitted he used performance-enhancing drugs, that he lied repeatedly and bullied people.

The next question that needs answering is how is the the disgraced world champion cyclist worth? Ahead of yesterday's telecast of his interview with talk show icon Oprah Winfrey, the figure of between $100 million and $125 million has been widely circulated.

It's the range often cited, without attribution, by such mainstream media as the New York Times, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal. But senior editor Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes magazine said it's difficult to work out how rich he is, given that he holds no big stakes in publicly listed companies, no longer races for prize money and has lost lucrative sponsorships.

Forbes, famous for its rich lists, estimated Armstrong's net worth at $28 million back in 2005, the year he began his four-year hiatus from cycling, and $20 million in 2009, when he made his Tour de France comeback.

In more recent years, Badenhausen told AFP, Armstrong has probably been earning around $15 million a year from sponsors, public appearances and speaking fees.
10:18  Pak ready to probe 'gruesome' beheading :  On a day when Pakistan foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar's offer for talks received lukewarm response here, Pakistan high commissioner Salman Bashir turned out be the real game-changer as he said that Islamabadwas willing to address all Indian concerns over LoC, including its demand for a probe into the mutilation of the bodies of Indian soldiers. Read
10:05  Diesel prices up by 45 paise per litre from today:  The government on Thursday took the first major step towards the deregulation of diesel prices saying oil companies will be allowed to decide the prices and hike the prices in small amounts from time to time.

Oil companies have raised diesel prices by 45 paise per litre after a go ahead from the Centre. Sources say up to 50 paise hike will take place every month. This amounts to nearly Rs 6 every year. Oil firms will be selling diesel to bulk buyers at market rates. The new prices will be effective from Friday.
09:47  Hostages rescued in Algeria:  Algerian Army troops on helicopters and special forces on Thursday stormed a gas facility to rescue hostages from at least 10 countries being held by Islamist militants. 

While reports said the hostages were rescued in a chaotic operation, it was unclear how many of the troops, hostages and militants were killed. There were varying claims from both the military and the militants. A leading news agency reported that at least six people, and perhaps many more, were killed '" Britons, Filipinos and Algerians. 

Terrorized hostages from Ireland and Norway trickled out of the Ain Amenas plant, families urging them never to return. 
08:51  Lance Armstrong admits using performance-enhancing drugs:   Calling himself "deeply flawed," now-disgraced cyclistLance Armstrong says he used an array of performance enhancing drugs to win seven Tour de France titles followed by years of often angry denials.

"This is too late, it's too late for probably most people. And that's my fault," he said in an interview aired Thursday night. "(This was) one big lie, that I repeated a lot of times."

Armstrong admitted using testosterone and human growth hormone, as well as EPO -- a hormone naturally produced by human kidneys to stimulate red blood cell production, which increases the amount of oxygen that can be delivered to muscles, improving recovery and endurance.

Armstrong admitted to Oprah Winfrey that, in addition to using drugs, took blood transfusions to get ahead. The same man who regularly pointed to his having never failed a known drug test said he needed to cheat to win. While he didn't invent the culture of doping in cycling, said, he admitted that he didn't act to prevent it either.
08:50  Iran, IAEA agree on new nuclear talks but no deal:   Iran and the UN atomic watchdog today agreed to resume talks over the Islamic state's disputed nuclear activities in Tehran on February 12, state television said, without giving a source. The announcement came after two days of talks between a team of UN nuclear experts and Iranian negotiators ended without agreement, according to a diplomatic source speaking to AFP in Vienna. 

The UN team led by the International Atomic Energy Agency's chief inspector Herman Nackaerts was due to return to Vienna on Friday, the source said. A second source, a Western diplomat, told AFP the latest he had heard was there were "still differences". Iran's state television did not provide any details about the negotiations.
08:30  Irishman freed in Algeria 'had explosives around neck':  An Irish passport holder who escaped after being taken hostage by Islamist kidnappers in Algeria had explosives tied around his neck, his brother said. Stephen McFaul's family in Belfast in Northern Ireland said they were delighted that his ordeal was over after the Irish government revealed he was "safe and well". 

His brother, Brian McFaul, later explained that the electronic supervisor escaped yesterday when the convoy in which he was travelling came under fire from the Algerian army and that he had earlier "had explosives tied around his neck". 

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said he was "greatly relieved" to hear that the 36-year-old was safe, following reports that many of the hostages had been killed in an assault by the Algerian army.
02:31  Algeria hostage rescue operation over: News agency:  AFP reports: An Algerian army operation launched today to rescue national and foreign hostages seized by Islamist gunmen at a desert gas plant, which reportedly left dozens dead, is now over, Algerian media said.

The APS news agency said the assault on the Tigentourine gas complex, attacked by the Islamist gunmen a day earlier, had ended this evening, adding that no death toll had been given so far.

Communication Minister Mohamed Said confirmed earlier that kidnappers and hostages were killed in the operation, but declined to say how many.
01:48  US, Somalia launch new era of diplomatic ties:  AP reports: The United States and Somalia today launched a new era of diplomatic relations, as Washington recognised the African nation's government for the first time since 1991.

"Today is a milestone, it is not the end of the journey, but it is an important milestone towards that end," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said after talks with new Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
01:33  Algerian army moves to end siege:  CNN reports: Algeria launched an operation to free foreign hostages at a gas plant after it tried but failed to forge a resolution with the Islamist captors, the government said Thursday.

Now, the the military remains locked in an 'ongoing' operation against the terrorists, the Algerian communication minister said in a statement on Algerian State TV.

Mohamed Said explained that the terrorists wanted to leave the country with the hostages to use them as a bargaining chip, but the government said it won't negotiate with terrorists.
01:15  Court to consider Achuthananda's petition in Feb:   A court today posted to February 5 a petition by Opposition leader in the Kerala Assembly V S Achuthanandan seeking to hear his views while considering the report into the allegations by K A Rauf, a businessman, in the ice cream parlour sex scandal case.

Achuthanandan had personally appeared before First Class Judicial Magistrate Court here on July 6 last year and filed the petition seeking that his version would also be heard before the court takes a decision on the probe panel findings that there was no ground for re-opening the case based on the allegation that the original probe was 'sabotaged' by IUML leader and state Industries Minister P K Kunhalikutty.
00:36  Intolerance breeds cycle of carnage in Pakistan:  Kamila Shamsie says: On January 10, the 33-year-old Pakistani activist Irfan Ali told his Twitter followers he had narrowly escaped a bomb blast in the provincial capital, Quetta, which killed 12 people and injured 25.

In the next hour he tweeted three more times about the terrorism wreaking havoc on Pakistan and the 'genocidal pressure' faced by the Hazaras an ethnic group which is primarily Shiite.
00:31  Top headlines of the last 24 hours:  
Tahawwur Rana sentenced to 14 years in jail

Chautala pleads for leniency, CBI seeks maximum jail term

Ansari visits historic resistance tunnels in south Vietnam

Pakistan wants Khurshid-Khar meet to resolve LoC standoff

Sonia's retirement plans and the Congress' 'chinta'

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