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Padma honours for Sharmila Tagore, Sridevi, Patekar

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January 25, 2013


23:49  Pope tweets support for US anti-abortion protest:  
Pope Benedict XVI tweeted his best wishes today to hundreds of thousands of pro-life supporters converging on Washington 40 years after the landmark US Supreme Court ruling that legalised abortion. 

Organisers of the annual March for Life said they hope the crowd along the National Mall will surpass last year's record estimated turnout of 400,000, and police have sealed off streets along the march route.

"I join all those marching for life from afar, and pray that political leaders will protect the unborn and promote a culture of life," Pope Benedict tweeted on his @Pontifex account.
22:45  Ten Chinese officials sacked in sex video scandal:  
Ten district-level officials of China's Communist Party have been removed from their posts after they figured in explicit sex videos, broadening the scandal that has rocked Chongqing city, headed till last year by disgraced leader Bo Xilai.

The Chinese public was left shocked and outraged again after more officials in the southwest China's municipality of Chongqing were revealed to be implicated in a sex video scandal, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The officials involved were working as chiefs, governors and executives of state-owned enterprises (SOEs). 

The announcement ended months of online speculation that a number of local officials had been involved in the case. 

The scandal emerged in November after a sex video featuring one official, later confirmed to be CPC Secretary of Chongqing's Beibei district, went viral online.
22:45  Army kills six as Iraqis call for PM to quit:  
Six demonstrators were killed and 35 wounded when soldiers opened fire today in west of Baghdad, as tens of thousands rallied in Sunni-majority areas calling for Iraq's Shiite leader to quit. 

The deaths were the first at the hands of the security forces since massive protests began in mainly Sunni Arab areas of Iraq more than a month ago, railing against alleged targeting of their minority community by the Shiite-led authorities.

The demonstration in Fallujah, 60 kilometres west of Baghdad, was one of several that began after today's prayers across the country, while Shiite clerics called on the government to heed their demands.

Protesters had been moving to an area in east Fallujah but were blocked off by soldiers deployed from Baghdad, Fallujah police Captain Nasser Awad told AFP. They began throwing bottles of water at the troops, who then opened fire.

Six demonstrators were killed, all of them from gunshot wounds, said Khaled Khalaf al-Rawi, a doctor at Fallujah hospital.
21:53  Padma honours for Sharmila Tagore, Sridevi, Patekar:   Noted scientists Prof Yash Pal and Prof Roddam Narasimha, sculptor Raghunath Mohapatra and painter S Haider Raza will be be awarded the Padma Vibhushan.

Late actor Rajesh Khanna and noted satirist Jaspal Bhatti, cricketer Rahul Dravid, woman boxer M C Mary Kom and industrialist Adi Godrej are among 24 selected for Padma Bhushan.

Actress Sharmila Tagore named for Padma Bhushan while Sridevi and Nana Patekar and film director Ramesh Sippy get Padma Shri.
20:16  Jeet Thayil wins South Asian Literature award:  Well-known Indian poet and novelist Jeet Thayil has become the first Indian author to win the DSC South Asian literature prize worth $ 50,000.

Thayil won the award for his debut novel Narcopolis. "I dedicate this coveted award to the Pakistani writer and author Jamil Ahmed. I am very happy to receive this award  as I am an Indian and its an Indian award. The book drew a very negative reviews from literary critics.The money matters and am doubly happy to receive this prize. All authors and writers want money and here it is," said a beaming Thayil.

Others authors in the fray for the award were Jamil Ahmed for The Wandering Falcon, Tahmima Anam for The Good Muslim, Amitava Ghosh for River of Smoke, Mohammed Hanif for Our Lady of Alice Bhatti and Uday Prakash for the translated version  from Hindi The Walls of Delhi.

Actor and UN ambassador for goodwill Sharmila Tagore presented the award to Thayil.

Thayil is a former Rediff.com staffer.

19:18  In maiden R-Day speech, Pranab raises burning issues:  Triggering a fresh debate in the context of the brutal gangrape in Delhi and youth protests that followed, President Pranab Mukherjee today raised a question whether the country's legislature reflects the emerging India or does it need radical reforms. 

Asking whether corruption has overtaken morality in life, he said elected representatives must win back people's confidence and the anxiety and the restlessness of the youth has to be channelised towards change with speed, dignity and order. 

In his first address to the nation on the eve of the 64th Republic Day, Mukherjee referred to the "grave tragedy" of the brutal rape and murder of a woman in the capital that has shattered complacency. 

 Sponsorship of terrorism through non-state actors is a matter of deep concern, President Pranab Mukherjee said today making it clear to Pakistan that India is ready to offer a hand of friendship but that should not be taken for granted.

"Neighbours may have disagreements; tension can be a subtext of frontiers. But sponsorship of terrorism through non-state actors is a matter of deep concern to the entire nation," he said. 

He said India believes in peace on the border and is always ready to offer a hand in the hope of friendship. "But this hand should not be taken for granted," he said.
19:10  The brutal rape has left our hearts empty: Pranab:  India has changed more in the last six decades than it has in the last six centuries, President Pranab Mukherjee said, while addressing the nation on the eve of Republic Day. 

We should be proud of our achievements, Mukherjee said in his first such address, adding that poverty had declined significantly in the last six decades and economic growth rate had tripled.

It was time for the nation to change its moral compass, he said.

Taking up the issue of the Delhi gang rape, he said, "Brutal rape of a young woman has left our hearts empty".

The civil society and the government should work together towards gender equality, said President Pranab.
18:24  Two pandals catch fire at Maha Kumbh Mela, 12 hurt:  At least 12 people were reported hurt/injured after two pandals caught fire at the ongoing Maha Kumbh Mela in Allahabad on Friday.

Television channels, including Times Now, reported that the fire which lasted for about half-an-hour, was brought under control by fire service personnel.

 TV channels reported that the injured have been shifted to hospital and are being treated on a priority basis.

Further details are awaited.
17:58  DRDO to roll out its weaponry systems in R-Day parade:  The highlight of the 64th Republic Day, which will take place on Saturday, will be the above 5,000 km range Agni-V missile. 

The advanced long range surface-to-surface ballistic missile capable of being launched from anywhere in any direction and within a few minutes from a self-contained road mobile launcher is being paraded by the Defence Research and Development Organisation. 

The state-of-the-art missile, which was successfully flight tested in April last year, has provided the true deterrence capability and brought India at par with the elite group of advanced countries possessing this capability. 

A mini version of INS Vikramaditya which will join the Naval fleet by the end of this year is being showcased to highlight the Indian Navy's blue water operating capability.

The DRDO will also put on display the Armoured Amphibious Dozer, an indigenously developed versatile Combat Engineer support equipment with excellent earth moving and amphibious capabilities in varied terrain.  

Besides, the Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) System and Naval Sonar will also be displayed on Rajpath by the DRDO.
17:55  Curfew imposed in Raj towns after group clash:  Curfew was today imposed in the Asind and Gulabpura towns in the district after a clash broke out between two groups, the police said. 

"Clashes broke out between two groups during a religious procession today following which curfew was imposed in Gulabpura and Asind," district collector Onkar Singh said. 

The situation in the towns were tensed for the last few days following the objection of one group against the taking out of a procession by the other, he said.
17:53  EC gets limited power to amend constituency names:  The Election Commission is all set to get limited powers to determine change in nomenclature of a parliamentary or assembly seat where a caste has been included or excluded from the SC/ST list in the last one decade. 

The power to be vested with the Election Commission in the form of an ordinance will allow it to carry out a "limited corrective exercise" with immediate effect. 

 The ordinance -- to be issued shortly -- will empower EC to make changes in SC and ST constituencies where some castes have been either excluded or included between the 2001 census and May 2012.
17:35  Catch our live updates from Jaipur Literary Festival:  Rediff.com's Vaihayasi Pande Daniel is at the Jaipur Lit Fest which she is covering live on Zara Bol. You can catch her updates here.
17:18  Experts ask Microsoft to come clean on Skype:  Just how secure are Skype conversations? 

'Privacy advocates are calling on Microsoft to disclose whether -- and how often -- governments are snooping on Skype users, a move that comes as the software giant integrates the popular video and voice messaging program with its Office productivity suite,' reports huffingtonpost.com.

On Thursday, groups including the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Reporters Without Borders released an open letter asking Microsoft to disclose if law enforcement agencies can eavesdrop on conversations on Skype, the video chat service that boasts of 250 milion users every month.   

You can read the open letter here.   

A decade ago Skype was the chosen mode of communication owing to its tough encryption and hard to crack peer-to-peer networks, but online hackers suspect this changed after Microsoft bought the service in 2011 for $8.5 billion, reports huffingtonpost.com.   

It quotes a letter from Microsoft that reads as , "We are reviewing the letter. Microsoft has an ongoing commitment to collaborate with advocates, industry partners and governments worldwide to develop solutions and promote effective public policies that help protect people's online safety and privacy."   

Skype, however, functions as a semi-autonomous entity within Microsoft, and even functions out of Silicon Valley, and not its Redmond, Washington, headquarters.

Read the full article here.
17:01  Will make Delhi a safer place, assures CM on Republic Day:   Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit today promised that no stone will be left unturned to ensure the safety of women in the capital and said that girls need not be scared or shaken after the incidents like the one on December 16 but should emerge stronger. 

After unfurling the tricolour as part of Delhi's Republic Day celebrations for the 15th consecutive time, the Chief Minister said, "I would like to tell our daughters to come out and study, hone your talents fearlessly, you don't need to be scared of anybody. 

"Our belief should not be shaken by such incidents but it must get stronger. The police have taken various steps to change their approach and I am sure that together we will be able to bring change," she said.
16:59  Mobiles suspended in 60 Pak cities to ward off terror attack:  Pakistani authorities today suspended mobile phone services in nearly 60 towns and cities across the country as part of security measures aimed at preventing terror attacks during Eid-e-Miladun Nabi. 

Lahore, Rawalpindi, Multan, Karachi, Hyderabad, Peshawar and Quetta were among the 59 towns and cities where the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority suspended mobile phone services during the day. 

The suspension did not affect Islamabad, official said.
16:57  Buddhist school in UP seeks financial aid from Dalai Lama:  The lone Buddhist school in Kushinagar district, where Lord Buddha breathed his last, has appealed to the Dalai Lama and the Centre and the state government for financial help. 

"Linh Son Buddhist D P higher secondary school, which is in its eighth year of running, gives educational aid to around 40 per cent of its 624 students most of whom are very poor and can't afford good schools," school Principal Rajesh Singh said. "This is a school run on the basic principles of Buddhism, we don't say 'no' to any poor student who approaches us but we have a limitation. There is no help whatsoever from the central government and the state government," Singh said.
16:44  All India Radio barred from hiring fresh RJs:  All India Radio has been restrained by the Central Administrative Tribunal from holding its proposed auditions for fresh appointments of radio jockeys till the grievances of existing ones are redressed. 

"In the interest of justice, we ... direct that the respondents (AIR and others) shall not proceed further with proposed conducting of auditions for fresh appointments or engagement of casual radio jockey (RJ) presenters, till their representations are disposed of," the CAT bench, comprising members G George Paracken and Manjulika Gautam, said. 

The panel's direction came on the plea of AIR Broadcasting Professionals Association opposing the proposal of the national broadcaster to recruit fresh RJs through auditions, which are to commence from January 28, without redressing its grievances.
16:16  We have got to stop being the stupid party: Bobby Jindal:  A potential presidential candidate in 2016, Indian American Governor of Louisiana Bobby Jindal has told the Republicans, still reeling from the loss of the November presidential elections, to "stop being stupid" and called for a complete change in the party thinking and outlook. 

"We have got to stop being the stupid party. It's time for a new Republican party that talks like adults," Jindal said at a meeting called after party's recent reverses in the November elections. 

The Louisiana governor did not feel that the party change its values but "might need to change just about everything else we do". 

He made these comments at the Republican National Committee's Winter Meeting yesterday in Charlotte, North Carolina, but did not elaborate on the changes he wanted.
16:15  Fire in top Ahmedabad hotel, no casualties reported:  A fire broke out in a premier hotel in Ahmedabad this morning but no casualties were reported, a fire department official said. 

The blaze started following a short-circuit in the motor of kitchen duct on the first floor of Courtyard Marriott Hotel located on Satellite Road, the official said. 

Four fire tenders were rushed to the spot after receiving information from hotel authorities and eyewitnesses. 

"The fire was brought under control within two hours. There are no casualties. The estimated losses amount to Rs 4-5 lakh," additional chief fire officer Rajesh Bhatt said.
16:13  Karnataka governor acting like Centre's stooge: BJP:  Onkar Singh reports from New Delhi: BJP spokesperson Rajeev Pratap Rudy has alleged that HR Bharadwaj is not acting like the governor of Karnataka but more like a stooge of the Centre.

Earlier in the day, the governor informed the media that he has directed his office to check with the officials in the state assembly about the position and then tell Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar to prove his majority. 

Shettar later met Bharadwaj and told him that his government has a majority.
16:03  875 police personnel awarded on Republic Day; CRPF tops list:  A total of 875 police and para-military personnel have been decorated by the President for gallantry and outstanding services on Republic Day eve, with the CRPF topping the list. 

Constable Daler Singh (posthumous) from Jammu and Kashmir is the lone recipient of the President's Police Medal for Gallantry this time, a home ministry statement said today. 

The Police Medal for Gallantry has been awarded to 115 personnel, the President's Police Medal for Distinguished Service to 88 officials and Police Medal for Meritorious Service to 671 personnel.
15:48  SRK earned Rs 203 cr in 2011-12, tops Forbes India list:  Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan with an earning of Rs 202.8 crore has topped the inaugural Forbes India Celebrity 100 list. 

Actor Salman Khan is at the second spot while India's cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is third in the list. 

By Forbes India's estimates, Shah Rukh Khan earned Rs 202.8 crore in the period between October 2011 and September 2012. Salman's earnings are estimated at Rs 144.2 crore while Dhoni's at Rs 135.16 crore in the period. 

"Both Salman Khan and Dhoni are ahead of SRK in terms of popularity and fame, but King Khan came out at top courtesy his earning power, mainly riding on massive income from brand endorsements," the magazine said. 

Among the top 10 in the list are Akshay Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Sachin Tendulkar, Kareena Kapoor, Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli and Katrina Kaif.
15:40  Rajasthan Royals appoint Paddy Upton as Head Coach:  Indian cricket team's former mental conditioning coach, Paddy Upton, has been appointed as the head coach of Rajasthan Royals. 

 The 44-year-old mental conditioning coach of the South African cricket team will coach the Royals in the sixth season of the Pepsi Indian Premier League scheduled to be held in April. 

Upton had assisted former Indian coach Gary Kirsten as mental conditioning coach, instructing the Indian national cricket team that went on to win the 2011 ICC World Cup. The South African cricket team became the No. 1 test-playing nation under the tutelage of Kirsten and Upton.
15:39  NSG shooters, mobile hit teams... It's all happening in Delhi:  Delhi is geared up for Republic Day celebrations with a ground-to-air security apparatus put in place and authorities rushing through final touches for the event which showcases country's military might and cultural diversity. 

Over 25,000 police personnel, including those from paramilitary and sharpshooters from the NSG, were already deployed across the city in the run-up to the celebrations, which will be attended by Bhutan king Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. 

Snipers were deployed at high-rise buildings while over 150 CCTVs are keeping a tight vigil on people's movement between Rajpath and Red Fort, the route of the parade which showcases India's military might and cultural diversity. 

Mobile hit teams, anti-aircraft guns and sharpshooters of the NSG are also on the job at various places while paramilitary and Delhi police commandos are keeping a close watch along the route of the eight-kilometre long Republic Day parade from Raisana Hills to Red Fort. 

A multi-layer security ring has already been put in place at Rajpath, where President Pranab Mukherjee will unfurl the tricolour and take the salute of marching contingents.
15:37  AERB nod to repeat hydro-tests at Kudankulam:  India's nuclear regulator has given its nod to repeat the full systems test at the first unit of Kudankulam atomic power project in Tamil Nadu ahead of commissioning of the plant expected next month. 

"We have given permission to repeat the hydro-tests at Kundankulam Unit 1 yesterday," Satinder Singh Bajaj, chairman, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, said. 

He said the permission, granted after the review of reports of earlier tests, would give engineers of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited  and their Russian collaborators an opportunity to conduct some final checks and tests ahead of the approach to first criticality. 

These include some examinations related to preparedness in case of an off-site power failure, officials said.
15:35  Rupa Subramanya, among many things a contributor to rediff.com, tweets: Wondering if I'll get the Padma this year. Have done so much to deserve it. The fact that I'm young may go against me. Sigh.
15:24  How India Inc will choose its champion :  As shrewd business people and veteran players in the bourses, the India Incorporated crowd are wont to spread their investments wide. They are bound to be as generous in funding the Congress in the coming Lok Sabha elections as they have been on past occasions. The only difference that can be expected this time is that they would be a shade more expansive towards the Narendra-Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party, says Ashok Malik in The Telegraphhere.
15:12  Karnataka govt in majority, CM tells governor:  

Karnataka CM Jagadish Shettar has meet Governor H R Bharadwaj and told him that his government has majority. Earlier in the day, the governor informed the media that he has directed his office to check with the officials in the state assembly about the position and then tell Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar to prove his majority. 

 

The action comes following the decision of 14 rebels, loyalists of former CM Yeddyurappa, who have decided to resign as MLAs from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government.

15:12  Indian-Filipino couple jailed for kissing on Dubai beach:  A couple, a 28-year-old Indian man and a 25-year-old Filipino woman, has been jailed for a year for kissing in public on a Dubai beach.

The couple was spotted 'wrestling' by an Emirati child who told his mother and who thereafter called the police.

The lovebirds will now have to spend a year in jail, after which they will be deported, the Daily Mail reports.

According to the report, the couple, co-workers at a Dubai McDonald's outlet, were seen in an intimate situation in the lifeguard tower on Jumeirah Open Beach on December 17, the National reported.

Despite admitting to police upon their arrest that they were a couple, the man and woman pleaded not guilty to kissing in public.The man argued that he was performing CPR on his colleague who had suffered an asthma attack.

The couple confessed to drinking alcohol without a licence and said they went to the beach at around 9.30 pm after they had drinks at a hotel in Deira.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to committing a lewd act in public, but confessed to drinking alcohol without a licence.

The Dubai Misdemeanour Court convicted the defendants of committing a lewd act in public and sentenced them to 12 months in jail.

They were also fined 1,000 dirham each for consuming alcohol, the report added.
15:09  Pak likely to grant India MFN status next month:  Pakistan is likely to grant the Most Favoured Nation status to India next month, in an attempt to boost Indo-Pak business to 6-7 billion dollars, according to its Minister of State for Commerce Abbas Khan Afridi. 

Afridi's statement rebuffed media reports that Islamabad may delay awarding MFN status to India as the government was facing pressure from various stakeholders -- particularly from industrialists associated with the textile industry in Pakistan, reports the Express Tribune

Afridi said the MFN status would be awarded to India by prioritising state interests, taking all stakeholders on board in Pakistan. 

Islamabad has already missed a December 31 deadline to give MFN status to New Delhi as well as to end a negative list regime and trade.
15:06  US designates Saudi man as Global Terrorist:  US has designated Saudi Arabia's most wanted terrorist, believed to be based in Pakistan, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist. 

Ahmed Abdullah Saleh al-Khazmari al-Zahrani, also known as Abu Maryam al-Zahrani, is currently wanted for extradition by Saudi Arabia for participating in terrorist activities and for his ties to the Al Qaeda. He is on Saudi Arabia's most wanted terrorist list. 

Al-Zahrani is also the subject of Interpol Red and Orange Notices because of his membership in Al Qaeda and his involvement in terrorism.
15:06  India to launch sub-sonic missile, Nirbhay, next month:  India would flight test sub-sonic, medium range cruise missile Nirbhay, next month, a key defence official said today. 

 Nirbhay is being developed by Aeronautical Development Establishment, a Defence Research and Development Organisation lab based in Bangalore, V K Saraswat, scientific advisor to the defence minister, told a press conference. 

"This is in the final stage of integration and we expect to launch it next month", Saraswat, also Secretary in the Department of Defence (R&D) and DRDO Director General, said.
15:05  Train derails after applying emergency brake:  The engine and a bogie of a Burdwan-bound DMU train derailed when the driver applied emergency brakes after sighting a local train approaching from the opposite direction down the same tracks near Gadaipur station in Murshidabad district early today. 

Railway sources said the Azimganj-Burdwan train was slowing down while approaching Gadaipur station, 60 km from here, at about 4.30 am when the driver applied the emergency brake.

No casualties have been reported.
15:04  Mauritius president undergoes ayurvedic treatment in Kerala:  Mauritius President Rajkeswur Purryag today left Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala in Malappuram district after a two-week long treatment. 

Purryag, who received Pravasi Bharatiya Samman award at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas conference at Kochi early this month, arrived Arya Vaidya Sala, a century old institution engaged in the practice and propagation of Ayurveda, on January 10 along with wife Aneetah and two security officials. 

He was under the treatment of an expert medical team headed by its Managing Trustee Dr P K Warrier, official sources said.
15:02  Shinde's remarks will only help Pak: Swamy:  Slamming the 'Hindu terror' remarks of Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Janata Party president Subrmanian Swamy Friday said his comments will only help Pakistan.  

"The statement is aimed at only watering down the Islamic terrorism. I condemn terrorism in any form perpetrated by anyone," he told mediapersons in Chennai.  

Swamy said no one was holding all Muslims to be terrorists and said extremist activities from persons of any faith was condemnable.   

15:00  A moment of triumph for women:  The comprehensive reforms suggested by Justice Verma and his colleagues will protect the right to dignity, autonomy and freedom of victims of sexual assault and rape, says Kalpana Kannabiran in The Hindu newspaper. Read her here.
14:38  Dreamliner probe shows battery short-circuit:  An investigation into the battery of Boeing 787 Dreamliner that caused a fire in Boston early this month, showed signs of thermal runway and short-circuiting, US government investigators said. 

"Here are findings to date. Fire was present. There are signs of thermal runaway and of short-circuiting," the National Transportation Safety Board chairman Deborah Hersman told reporters yesterday on the investigation into the incident, following which several airlines including Air India have grounded their Boeing 787 Dreamliner. 
14:37  Shinde to visit Bangladesh, sign extradition treaty:  Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde will undertake a two-day visit of Bangladesh from Monday on the invitation of his Bangladeshi counterpart Dr Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir.  

Shinde is expected to hold discussions with Alamgir, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and also call on Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in Dhaka.

During his visit, India and Bangladesh are also expected to sign an extradition treaty and a revised travel agreement following bilateral discussions between the two home ministers.

The visit is also likely to focus on further strengthening co-operation between the two countries in the areas of security, border management, border infrastructure, training and capacity building and people-to-people exchanges. 
14:30  'Viswaroopam' screening stopped for a day in Hyderabad:  The Hyderabad police have issued orders to stop the screening of Kalam Haasan starrer Viswaroopam in the city for a day today. 

According to Sabita Indra Reddy, state home minister, police commissioners of Hyderabad and Cyberabad approached her to allow them to stop the screening the movie until they are satisfied that the film would not create any disturbances. 

"Yesterday some religious leaders approached me to stop the screening the movie expressing apprehensions. There is no ban from government side. City police commissioners have requested me to postpone the movie screening by a day in the city," Reddy said. 

Hyderabad city Police Commissioner Anurag Sharma was not available for comment.
14:04  'Mercilessly beaten', Indian prisoner dies in Pak jail:  An Indian national, who was about to complete his five-year imprisonment on charges of espionage, has died in a Pakistani jail, amid reports that he was "mercilessly beaten" by prison staff two days before his death. 

Media reports quoted a Pakistani lawyer named Tehseen Khan, who was recently released from Lahore's Kot Lakhpat jail, as saying that he had seen prison staff assault Chamel Singh using water from a tap to wash clothes on January 15 and that the Indian national died two days later at Jinnah Hospital. 

However, officials of the Indian high commission said they had been formally informed by Pakistani authorities that Singh had died in Lahore on January 15. 

A note verbale on the matter did not mention the cause of Singh's death.
13:42  Delhi gangrape victim's family wants death for all accused:  The family of Delhi gangrape victim today said it would not want anything less than the death sentence for all the accused, including the minor, and urged the central government to amend the law in this connection. 

The offer of a government job to someone in the family by the Delhi government was turned down by the victim's brother. 

"The family would never accept that the person who played a major role in the crime is let off with a mere punishment of three years only because he has the excuse that he is a minor," the grandfather of the 23-year-old victim said. 

The family would urge the central government to amend the law in this connection, he said.
13:27  Ceremonial reception for Bhutanese royalty at Rashtrapati Bhavan:  Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, who has been invited as the chief guest for this year's Republic Day parade, was given a ceremonial reception at the Rashtrapati Bhavan this morning.  

He was received by President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. He inspected the guard of honour and also met members of the Indian Cabinet. 

Accompanied by Queen Jetsun Pema, the Bhutan King is on a eight-day state visit to India. 

He also paid floral tributes at Rajghat, the memorial of Father of The Nation, Mahatma Gandhi. 

Later today, the Bhutan King will call on the President and meet Prime Minister Dr Singh. 
13:26  On R-Day eve blasts rock Manipuri capital:  Insurgents exploded three grenades in the high security areas of Imphal on the eve of Republic Day today. 

While the first explosion took place at the Manipur Rifles Complex at 7.27 am, the second was reported at Nambul area at 10.15 am and the third at Konung Mamang area in the heart of the Manipur capital complex at 10.55 am, officials said. 

No casualty was reported, they said, and an investigation was on to find out how the explosions took place in the high security areas.
13:19  'Viswaroopam' releases in Kerala, no reports of trouble:   Actor-director Kamal Haasan's controversial movie Viswaroopam, facing a two week-ban in Tamil Nadu due to its alleged anti-Muslim content, was released in more than 80 theatres in Kerala today.

The multi-lingual film was mainly released in B-class theatres under Kerala Cine Exhibitors Association.

It was also screened in multiplexes and some theatres run by the Kerala Film Exhibitor's Federation, which had declined to exhibit the movie following Haasan's decision to premier Viswaroopam on DTH format, industry sources said.

As per the initial report, the film has been screened in 86 theatres in the state, where about 25 per cent of the population comprises Muslims.
13:13  K'taka guv calls for Shettar govt's floor test:   Vicky Nanjappa reports from Bangalore: Karnataka Governor H R Bharadwaj said on Friday that he will ask the state government to prove its majority on the floor of the House. 

He informed the media that he has directed his office to check with the officials in the assembly about the position and then tell Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar to prove his majority.

The action comes following the decision of 14 rebels, loyalists of former CM Yeddyurappa, who have decided to resign as MLAs from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. They had attempted to resign but had to return as the speaker was not available. They then approached the governor and also said if the speaker does not return they would file a habeas corpus petition in court.

The speaker has however assured that he would return to office on January 28th. 

Meanwhile, the rebel MLAs sent their resignations to the speaker via email.
12:58  Today is Milad un Nabi. On the occasion it is time to ponder about the Prophet's message. Sadia Dehlvi offers an insight, here.
12:37  Kashmir's winter continues to ast a chill elsewhere too:  The cold wave tightened its grip further in Kashmir as the minimum temperatures in the Valley continue to remain several degrees below the freezing point, with the Met department predicting no respite from dry weather and the bone-chilling cold conditions till the end of this month. 

Residents across the valley continue to shiver with the night temperatures remaining below the freezing point and the days getting colder. The summer capital Srinagar recorded a low temperature of minus 3.2 degree Celsius, colder from the previous night's minus 1.8 degree Celsius, a spokesman of the Met department said. 

He said the minimum night temperature in the highway town of Qazigund in south Kashmir was minus 7.0 degree Celsius as against the yesterday's minus 6.4 degree Celsius.
12:33  English legend Boycott says Indian ODI team average:  England legend Geoffrey Boycott has branded the Indian one-day team as average and added that the world champions are lucky to have Mahendra Singh Dhoni as their captain. 

Boycott believes the Indian teams lack quality seam bowlers, and added their spin bowling stocks have depleted as well, the Daily Mail reports. 

The former England batsman added India's best batsman are approaching their retirement dates and are well past their prime. Boycott said he doesn't judge the importance of a captain in the team on their win-loss ratio, as he believes a leader should be judged taking into account or consideration the quality, or lack of quality, in his team. 

Boycott said Dhoni is an excellent ODI captain but has his limitations in the longest format of the game, and added that there is no apt replacement for the captaincy role at present for Dhoni in Indian Test team. 

Boycott also claimed that veterans Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir were lucky to be in the Indian team, as he feels both of them are well past their prime.
12:25  US senators introduce legislation after Malala:  Two top American senators have introduced a legislation in the name of Malala Yousafzai, a 15-year-old Pakistani peace activist who was shot by the Taliban, to provide scholarship to girls from Pakistan. 

Introduced by Senators Barbara Boxer and Mary Landrieu, the Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act is designed to expand scholarship opportunities for disadvantaged young women in Pakistan. 

The Boxer-Landrieu bill would require a 30 per cent increase in the number of scholarships awarded under the programme for the next four years, and that these additional scholarships be awarded solely to women. 

The measure would also expand the range of academic disciplines that scholarship recipients could pursue to improve graduates' chances of obtaining meaningful employment.
12:15  Where did the cyber attack originate from?:  South China Morning Post has an interesting infographic on where the cyber attack originated from in 2012, sourcing Akamai Technologies.

According to it, 33 pc of the cyber attack traffic originated from Mainland China, 13 pc from the US, and 2.5 pc from India.

You can see the infographic here.
12:10  California AG files lawsuit against Indian,Chinese apparel cos:  California's Attorney General Kamala Harris has filed a lawsuit against two Indian and Chinese apparel companies for allegedly using pirated software in the production of their cloths for exports and to be sold in the state. 

The lawsuits, filed in Los Angeles county superior court yesterday, charge Pratibha Syntex Ltd of India and Ningbo Beyond Home Textile Co Ltd and its sister companies, of China with violating California's Unfair Competition Law. 

These companies did not pay licensing fees for software, including products manufactured by Adobe, Microsoft, Symantec and others, Harris, who is an Indian American, alleged in her lawsuit.
11:55  West Indies postpones Pak ODI series?:  The West Indies Cricket Board has postponed their one-day international series at home against Pakistan, according to reports. 

Pakistan will now play two Test matches during its Caribbean tour as the West Indies has deferred the ODI series, according to a report from Geo News

Pakistan was to play two Test matches and five ODIs during its West Indies tour in June-July this year. 

According to earlier reports, West Indies were scheduled to host Pakistan from June to July but they also have a tri-series against India and Sri Lanka during that time and to avoid the clash with Pakistan, the WICB had asked the Pakistan Cricket Board if their Caribbean tour could be rescheduled to August. 

However, this would also interfere with the PCB's slim hopes of hosting India.
11:53  Just In: India wants death sentence for David Headley and allthose involved in 26/11 Mumbai terror attack: Home Secretary R K Singh.
11:45  Izumo owners to pay Rs 19.5 lakh compensation to fisherfolk:  An understanding on compensation has been reached between representatives of the Panamanian flagged Japanese cargo vessel, MV Izumo, which allegedly rammed a fishing boat, and various unions in connection with the hit-and-run case off the Kozhikode coast on January 16. 

As per the agreement reached at a meeting at the office of former state industries minister Elamaram Kareem, MLA, yesterday, the owners of the ship will pay a compensation of Rs 19.5 lakh to the three fishermen who had a miraculous escape after the ship rammed their fishing vessel Al Ameen, officials said.
11:44  Hindu religious leader jailed in US, will be deported:  A Hindu leader from India, who had established a temple in Milwaukee city in Wisconsin, USA, has been jailed for 37 months for religious visa fraud and would be deported to his native country after serving his sentence. 

A Milwaukee court gave its sentencing order after it found Sagarsen Haldar, aka Gopal Hari Das, who is the founder, president, CEO and spiritual leader of Gaudiya Vaisnava Society , guilty of fraudulently obtaining religious worker visas -- known as 'R-1' visas -- for Indian nationals in exchange for substantial cash payments. 

The 32-year-old Haldar would be deported to India after serving his sentence.
11:42  China's mobile users crosses 1.11 billion in 2012:  China, with a population of over 1.3 billion, now has 1.11 billion mobile phone users, according to official data released today. 

The ministry of industry and information technology said in a statement that mobile phone users represent 80 per cent of all phones users in the country. 

As per the released data, China's population stood at 1.354 billion at the end of 2012, 6.69 million more than that at the end of 2011. 

The number of mobile phones owned by every 100 people reached 82.6 by the end of 2012, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
11:38  Six killed in Mumbai slum fire:  sakaaltimes.com reports that least six people were killed and seven injured in a fire that gutted over 50 hutments in Mahim early Friday. Quoting the BMC disaster control centre, the report said the fire broke out around 5 am in the Nayanagar slums in Mahim, catching the occupants unaware in their sleep.
11:36  Here's the complete report of the Justice AS Verma commission on amendments to criminal law which was set up following the December 16 gangrape in Delhi.
11:00  MEA bars two Pak diplomats from Jaipur Litfest:  

The government has prevented two Pakistani diplomats from attending the ongoing Jaipur literary festival.   Media reports quoted Union Home Ministry sources, as saying that it was not in favour of allowing the two Pakistani diplomats -- Manzoor Memon and Naeem Anwar -- to visit Jaipur on Thursday as the Ministry of External Affairs had not given them the requisite approval.  

 

Manzoor Memon heads the media wing of Pakistani High Commission, while Naeem Anwar is Minister (Trade).

10:37  Now K'taka, AP decide not to release Vishwaroopam:  

Veteran filmmaker Kamal Haasan has lashed back at attempts to ban his film Vishwaroopam in Tamil Nadu, calling efforts by some to label its contents anti-Muslim a form of cultural terrorism.  

 

The fans of the star would be disappointed, as there is little chance of his film being released in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh as well.  

 

The Madras High Court has put on hold the release of Haasan's new film until at least January 28, according to petitioner Mohammed Hanifa, who is coordinator for the Tamil Nadu Muslim Movements and Political Parties Confederation.

10:12  Headley's sentence meagre, insufficient: Nikam:  

Eminent Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, who was instrumental in sending lone surviving militant of 2008 Mumbai attack Ajmal Kasab to the gallows, has termed David Headley's sentence as meagre in comparison to the brutality and heinousness of the crime.  

 

Nikam said: "This sentence to David Headley is very meagre, inadequate, insufficient, taking into consideration the role played by David Headley in the criminal conspiracy of November 26. Had he been in India definitely he would have been awarded death penalty.  

 

Headley, an American, had admitted scouting targets for the 2008 militant raids on Mumbai and later agreed to testify against the plotters to avoid the death penalty, was sentenced on Thursday to 35 years in prison.

09:52  Can't speculate on Headley's extradition: Khurshid:  Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid has told CNN-BN that India can't speculate on David Headley's extradition. India has been trying to push hard to bring Headley to India, and dialogue with US on the matter has been going on, Khurshid added.
09:42  Sensex gains 53 points in early trade:  

The BSE benchmark Sensex today gained over 53 points in early trade on fresh buying by funds and retail investors amid a firm trend in Asian markets.          The 30-share barometer rose by 53.50 points, or 0.27 per cent, to 19,977.28 with stocks of auto, IT, healthcare and capital goods sectors leading the recovery. The index had lost 102.83 points yesterday.         

 

The wide-based National Stock Exchange index, Nifty, moved up by 8.60 points, or 0.14 per cent, to 6,027.95. Brokers said the trading sentiment turned slightly better on selective buying by funds and retail investors, taking positive cues from Asian markets, following overnight gains in the US market on the back of an improvement of the weekly jobless claims data.         

 

In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose by 0.11 per cent, while the Japan's Nikkei by 2.35 per cent in early trade. The US Dow Jones Industrial Average had ended 0.33 per cent higher in yesterday's trade.

09:26  Major fire in Mumbai's Mahim:  

India TV: Nearly 3,000 people dwelling in slums were rendered homeless when a major fire swept through Naya Nagar slum locality in Mahim early Friday morning. Eleven fire tenders reached the spot and tried to douse the flames.

 

The slum is a densely located area housing as many as several wood godowns. The fire was first noticed between 4 am and 4:30 am. Eight water tankers were also pressed into service. The cause of the fire is still not known.

08:48  US ends ban on women in frontline combat:  

US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has lifted the military's ban on women serving in combat roles, potentially opening hundreds of thousands of frontline positions to women.

 

The ruling, officially announced on Thursday, overturns a 1994 rule barring women from small ground-combat units. But the military will have until 2016 to argue for any specific posts they think should remain closed to women.

 

Read more on BBC

08:20  'Possibility of Headley's extradition to India':  

There is still some possibility of extraditing Pakistani-American LeT terrorist David Headley to India, if the Mumbai terror attacks convict violates his plea agreement, a US federal attorney has indicated.        

 

Going into rare hypothetical scenario, which a government official normally does not do before the media, the acting US Attorney Gary S Shapiro told reporters that for this Headley would have to violate his guilty plea by not co-operating the US government or any foreign government in future investigations and not being truthful.        

 

In that case, his guilty plea, under which he can't by extradited, would be null and void. Thereafter Headley could be subject to the extradition treaty between India and the United States, he said.

04:01  North Korea 'plans third nuclear test':  
North Korea says it is proceeding with plans for a third nuclear test.

In a statement carried by KCNA news agency, the country's top military body said the "high-level nuclear test" and more long-range rocket launches were aimed at its "arch-enemy", the US.

The statement gave no time-frame for the test. North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests, in 2006 and 2009.

The move comes two days after a UN Security Council resolution condemned Pyongyang's recent rocket launch.

The Security Council also expanded sanctions against the isolated communist country following its December launch, which was seen by the US and North Korea's neighbours as a banned test of long-range missile technology.
01:57  French planes destroy Islamist bases in Mali:  
French warplanes destroyed two Islamist bases in northern Mali as a leading Al Qaeda-linked group in the region split today, with the breakaway group saying it wanted talks to end a Paris-led offensive against the militants.

The French bombing raids overnight targeted Ansongo, about 80 kilometres from the town of Gao and extremist bases in the nearby village of the Seyna Sonrai, a Malian military source said on condition of anonymity.

"French military planes successfully attacked Islamist positions at Ansongo and nearby areas," the source said. "The strikes were very successful and caused damage to the enemy." 

A security source in Niger confirmed the raids, saying "two main bases of the Islamists were destroyed" as well as their fuel stocks and armoury. 

More than 2,000 Chadian soldiers and 500 troops from Niger are being deployed at Ouallam in Niger, near the Mali border, to open a second front against the Islamists as part of a UN-mandated African force to boost, and eventually take over, the two-week-long French-led campaign.
01:56  Westerners warned to leave Benghazi:  
Britain, Germany and the Netherlands urged their citizens today to immediately leave the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi in response to what was described as an imminent threat against Westerners. 

The warnings come a day after US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton testified to Congress about the deadly September attack on the US consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the ambassador to Libya.

They also come as French troops battle Al Qaeda linked militants in Mali, and follow the deaths of dozens of foreigners at the hands of Islamist extremists in Algeria -- though it remained unclear if those two events were linked to the European nations' concerns about Libya. 

The foreign ministries of the three countries issued statements variously describing the threat as specific and imminent but none gave details as to its exact nature.
01:55  Canada SC rejects Air India bomber's plea:  
The supreme court of Canada has dismissed a plea of Inderjit Singh Reyat, the only man convicted in connection with the Kanishka bombing, seeking its permission to file appeal against his nine-year sentence for perjury.

Reyat was the only person convicted in the June 23, 1985. bombing that killed 329 people on Air India Flight 182. 

The Court dismissed Reyat's application for leave to appeal without costs, the court said on its website. 

The Court, however, granted his motion for an extension of time to serve and file the application for leave to appeal, the release said. 

While 329 people were killed on the Air India flight, a second bomb had exploded prematurely that same day, killing two baggage handlers at Tokyo's Narita Airport. 
01:53  Top headlines this hour:  David Headley sentenced for 35 years for 26/11 role

Only 35 years? 'David Headley has no right to live'

EXCLUSIVE! How Nitin Gadkari bowed out

Kamal Haasan's 'Vishwaroopam' can't release till Monday: HC

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