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New rioting in Bangladesh pushes death toll to 37

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March 01, 2013


23:24  Syria heading towards 'dissolution': Ban:  UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today warned that the spiralling conflict in Syria, where some 70,000 people have been killed over the past two years, was breaking the country apart. 

"The military solution in Syria is leading to the dissolution of Syria," the UN chief said in Geneva, asking: "What atrocity must occur to finally stir the world to act?" With the brutal, sectarian-tinged conflict between the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and rebels poised to enter its third year next month, Ban called for a renewed drive to halt the strife.
22:59  'Don't tear down this wall', Berlin protestors say:  Detested for nearly three decades as a symbol of oppression, the Berlin Wall again sparked angry protests today when a crane began dismantling a segment under plans for a new housing development. 

About 200 demonstrators of all ages gathered in front of the Wall's longest remaining stretch where police grimly stood between them and the barrier that once made East Berliners prisoners of their own country. 

"Berlin Is Selling Itself and Its History", "Berlin Sell-Out" read some placards, while a protestor poignantly shouted "We want our Wall" -- the paradox of protesting to save the Wall seems not to be lost.
22:48  New rioting in Bangladesh pushes death toll to 37:  Police and demonstrators in Bangladeshclashed for a second day Friday as the death toll rose to at least 37 in violence sparked by a controversial death sentence handed down against the head of an Islamic party for war crimes committed during the country's 1971 war of independence.

Local media reported that two people were killed in the rioting Friday, adding to 35 or more deaths after the sentencing of Delwar Hossain Sayedee, a senior leader in Bangladesh's largest Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami.At least four of the dead were reportedly law enforcement officials. Hundreds more were injured.
22:47  US man 'swallowed' alive by sink hole:  A US man lying in his bed was swallowed up by a gaping sink hole that opened up under his room in a Florida town, officials said today. The yawning chasm opened up overnight as Jeff Bush, 36, slept in his bedroom sucking him into the hole at the home, where several other family members escaped uninjured. 

"I heard a loud crash like a car coming through the house and I heard my brother screaming," said Jeremy Bush, who said through tears that he tried in vain to rescue his brother. "All I seen was this big hole, real big hole and all I seen was his mattress," said Bush, who recounted how he jumped into the hole and started digging frantically.
22:24  China parades killers on live TV before execution :   A Myanmari drug lord and three other foreigners, sentenced to death for killing 13 Chinese sailors in a vicious attack on the Mekong River in 2011, were paraded on live state-run television in China before their execution on Friday, evoking strong criticism from the public.

Naw Kham, a Myanmarese drug mafia boss, and three of his accomplices, identified as Hsang Kham, (Thailand) Yi Lai, (stateless) and Zha Xika (Laos), were paraded before cameras before their execution by lethal injection in the city of Kunming in southwest China's Yunnan Province, according to the Intermediate People's Court of Kunming.
21:51  Spotlight on Narendra Modi at BJP conclave:  The three-day conclave of Bharatiya Janata Party today kicked off with the spotlight on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, projected by some as the party's prime ministerial face, amid voices in the party that his popularity has grown significantly to make a mark on the national polity.

The conclave, convened mainly to ratify the presidentship of Rajnath Singh who took over in January, will see the party deliberate on its road map in the run up to the next general elections besides discussing the political and economic issues confronting the country.

The BJP will chalk out a strategy to project itself as an alternative in the next general elections at the meeting of its national council starting tomorrow.
21:45  Senior journalist shot dead in Pakistan:   A senior Pakistani journalist was shot dead on Friday by unidentified gunmen in the restive Balochistan province, becoming the second reporter to be killed in the country within a week.

Gunmen riding a motorcycle fired at Mehmood Jan Afridi in Bus Addah area of Kalat town this evening, Deputy Commissioner Bashir Ahmed Bazai told the media.

The attackers escaped before security personnel reached the spot. Bazai described the attack as an incident of "targeted killing". No group claimed responsibility for the incident. Afridi had been a journalist for two decades and was working for the Daily Intekhab.
21:31  No more re-induction in Congress, says Rahul:   In a stern warning to rebels, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Friday said that from now on doors won't remain open for those who left the party and contested elections against official nominees as he would do away with the past practice of re-inducting such members.

In his first interaction with party leaders and office bearers of the Mumbai unit after his elevation as vice president, Rahul said he had come to meet them so that there could be fruitful discussions during which some rules could be formulated for effective functioning of the organisation.

He said he would do away with the past practice of re-inducting rebels into the party. "Doors were open for them earlier. But now this will not happen," he was quoted as having told the meeting which was not open to the media.
21:28  8 South African cops arrested after 'dragging death':  CNN reports: South African authorities today arrested eight police officers accused of being involved in dragging a man down a road while he was handcuffed to the back of a police van.

Crowds chased after the van as the man kicked and writhed. He later died, the report said.

Read the full report here

21:06  Chopper scam: CBI to grill ex-Air Force boss Tyagi :  Former Air Force chief S P Tyagi and his cousins will be questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation next week in its probe into the Rs. 4000-crore VVIP chopper scam, sources have told NDTV.

Read the full report on NDTV
20:11  AgustaWestland: CBI gets new docs from defence min:  The CBI today received a fresh set of documents from the Defence Ministry related to the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland helicopter deal as it prepares to start from next week questioning of suspects over alleged kickbacks paid in India. 

CBI sources said the defence ministry has provided them with a new set of documents related to the deal but declined to give details. They said agency is planning to start the examination of suspects from next week.

The sources said agency had asked the defence ministry to provide files related to changes made in the helicopters' parameter which suited Italian company Finmeccanica and its subsidiary supplier AgustaWestland.
19:41  Minor's rape inhuman, shameful: Dikshit:  Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit today described as 'inhuman' and 'shameful' the rape of a seven-year-old girl inside a municipal school in the city.

"The incident is inhuman and shameful. It is a shocking incident. The municipal corporation must strengthen their existing security infrastructure in the schools," she said.

The class-II student was sexually assaulted inside the North Delhi Municipal Corporation-run primary school in Mongolpuri L Block allegedly by an unidentified man. The incident came to light at around 9 am today when her parents informed police about it.

Expressing her deep anguish over the incident, Dikshit said the city government has directed the civic body to 'urgently' take stock of security situation in its primary schools in order to ensure a sense of confidence among the parents.
19:22  Petrol price hike 'betrayal' with the people: BJP:   BJP today termed the hike in petrol price as a 'betrayal' with the people as it came a day after presentation of the union budget and demanded its immediate rollback. 

"Finance Minister P Chidambaram presented the budget yesterday in Parliament and government decided a day later to hike the prices of petrol by Rs 1.40 per litre. This is a betrayal with the people of the country and BJP will not take this lying down," party spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy told reporters.

His colleague and spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said, "This is a betrayal with the people. We demand its immediate rollback."
18:42  Musharraf ends exile, announces return to Pakistan:   Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf announces end of his self-imposed exile; says he will go back to Pakistan for elections.

He has said that his heart was 'bleeding' for his country. "I am not going to Pakistan to create enemies. It's time for reconciliation. For all those who love Pakistan, I would like to tell them that I am returning to Pakistan because I love Pakistan."

Pakistani prosecutors however say the former President will be arrested the moment he returns, but the Army might prevent his arrest.
18:08  The Ramayana's epic journey into the digital world:  How the ancient tale of the Ramayana has resonated down the centuries, and the British Library's digitisation sees it finding a new home in the 21st century. Read
18:01  Petrol price hiked by Rs 1.40/litre from midnight:  The price of petrol has been hiked by Rs 1.40 per litre, excluding VAT, with effect from midnight. This is the second hike this year. Petrol price was hiked by about 35 paise per litre in line with firming raw material cost on January 15.

Prices vary from city to city due to differential local sales tax or Value Added Tax (VAT) rates.

Petrol price was cut twice in October and November - first by 56 paise and then by 95 paise per litre. 
17:56  Indias poppy addiction (in food):  "I remember being very excited as a child when I realized my parents were using a flower as an ingredient in our meals. But I didn't know about the particular wonder of that flower -- the poppy -- until my grey cells and culinary knowledge expanded."  An eulogy to the poppy seed. Read
17:53  Air conditioning: a luxury or a necessity?:  On Thursday, in his budget speech, Finance Minister P Chidambaram proposed to extend the service tax to all restaurants that have air conditioning.Currently, the service tax only applies to air-conditioned restaurants that also have a liquor license. The logic behind this is that venues that have both tend to draw wealthier customers. Read
17:46  Groupon CEO's letter to employees: I was fired:  The CEO of Groupon, who was sacked after the struggling daily deals firm's share price plunged 24 per cent, has posted an honest memo to his staff online explaining why he has been fired. Read
17:38  PC consulted BJP leader Yashwant Sinha for Budget:  "I wanted to jump out of the car, when Chidambaram called me last week. But first I needed to ascertain whether it was really him on the phone," senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha tells our source.

What happened is this. Finance minister P Chidambaram apparently called Sinha, who was a finance minister in the NDA government, for suggestions
and recommendations to the Standing Committee on Finance.

In fact, Chidambaram did mention, during his Budget speech that he had consulted Yashwant Sinha. There was also another conversation between the Sinha, Chidambaram and another senior BJP leader. Who that was, dear reader, will remain a secret.
17:28  Researchers dispell the myth of altruism and generosity surrounding Mother Teresa. More
17:16  Chidu uses Modi as decoy to take Nitish for a ride:  Two passages in P Chidambaram's budget speech on Thursday seemed to contain political messaging that has been widely commented upon. In one paragraph, he seemed to be dissing the Narendra Modi development model; in another, he seemed to be offering a coded come-hither invite to Bihar's Nitish Kumar. Read 
16:47  Seven-year-old girl raped in Delhi school :  A seven-year old girl has allegedly been raped at a government school in north-west Delhi.

Around 400 people protested outside a Delhi hospital, where the girl has been admitted. Police resorted to lathi-charge to disperse the crowd.

The girl, a Class 2 student of a primary school run by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD). She has so far not identified the accused.According to the complaint filed by the victim's family, the incident reportedly happened on Thursday afternoon.-- NDTV
16:44  Alagiri, Jayanti Natarajan skips Budget meet :  DMK Minister MK Alagiri and Environment minister Jayanti Natarajan were absent in the Union Cabinet yesterday. However, 29 ministers and nine ministers of state were present at the meeting to hear P Chidambaram read out the gist of the Union Budget 2013, a few minutes before his presentation inside Parliament House.

The convention is that the finance Minister takes the Union Cabinet into confidence, a few minutes before the presentation of the budget in the Prime Minister's chambers where the Union Cabinet meeting takes place. 
16:35  Playwright Stephen Fry gets abducted in Mumbai:   Our colleague Abhishek Mande, who is on leave, called the boss a while ago.  Tripping over his words, he said this was the most remarkable day of his life.  Abhishek got married today, but that wasn't what he was burbling about.  

He and his wife had met Stephen Fry. Fry is an English actor, screenwriter, author, playwright, journalist, poet, comedian, television presenter, film director... and one of the biggest names in the business. Fry is in India to shoot a documentary. 

"Can you imagine that!  Fry on my wedding day! It just couldn't get better,' he grinned (or so we imagine he did over the phone).  

Abhishek was at a sit-down lunch with his family just after the court wedding, when he realized that Fry was lunching in Bandra at a Parsi restaurant. Both he and his wife follow Fry on Twitter and when they read this tweet: Stephen Fry '@stephenfry: My first time in a Parsi restaurant. I'll shut up now and eat' ...
the couple abandoned their meal and their guests and their family hopped across to the Parsi restaurant, grabbed Fry by the throat and hauled him out of the restaurant for a photo-op.

Well, not quite like that, but they did tell Fry that they had been married just this morning and it would be lovely if he would agree to be photographed with them. Fry was warm and genial and asked Mande's wife, a Parsi, "Aren't Parsis not supposed to marry outside their religion?" His wife, also a journalist with an extremely popular woman's magazine, said, she had in fact been excommunicated.

After more pleasantries, the Mandes returned to their wedding lunch, well pleased.

As for Fry? We believe meeting Abhishek and his lovely wife, couldn't have been a better way to mark his visit to Mumbai and India.

Pic: Abhishek Mande and his wife Kermin Bhot with Stephen Fry
16:30  Budget: How Chidambaram faced anger from his own party:  Our sources in Delhi give us the gossip from Parliament yesterday. Remember, P Chidambaram presented the 2013-2014 Union Budget in the Lok Sabha yesterday.

Chidambaram faced some uneasy moments yesterday, not from the opposition benches, but from six senior colleagues from the Congress. As the finance minister began explaining the salient features of the budget, he mentioned that Union ministers should spend more which would encourage fiscal discipline.

Suddenly Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh chirped: "How can Chidambaram say spend more, when he is releasing less percentage of annual allocation?"

Chidambaram, who had seemingly come to Parliament all prettied and primed, was sweating. Known to use cream and talcum powder, his make-up (so to speak), was running, because it was difficult to address the many voices from the PMO inside the Parliament House.

Losing enthusiasm, Chidambaram did answer the question, but unsatisfactorily. Many union ministers were seen looking sullen.  
16:12  Kashyap: Bollywood to blame for inability to deal with reality:   Gangs of Wasseypur is a gruesome, unhygienic, multi-generational crime epic -- and it's leading India's new cinematic wave. Read Kashyap's interview on the Guardian. 
15:40  Govt turns down Oppn demand for CBI probe into Bhandara rape:  The government today turned down Opposition's demand in the Rajya Sabha for a CBI probe into rape and murder of three Dalit minor girls, all below 11 years, in Maharashtra's Bhandara district, saying the Centre does not intervene in state affairs.

"This is a very serious issue and concerns the jurisdiction of Maharashtra government," Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said, adding the Centre did not intervene in state matters "be a Congress government or an Opposition-ruled government." Shinde was making a statement in the Rajya Sabha, where members, outraged over the incident, demanded that the Centre should ask for a CBI probe into the ghastly act.
15:28  Unblock URLs about IIPM: Court:  Additional district judge RN Chandra in a Dabra court near Gwalior on Thursday issued orders to unblock over 70 URLs related to Arindam Chaudhuri's Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM).

The URLs were earlier blocked on orders of the court following a petition filed by Ruchiv Sharma. The blocking of the URLs had elicited massive online outrage, with many websites reproducing the blocked content. More

Also read: This gag order is no faking news
14:54  Govt: We did not tap Jaitley's phone:  Also in the Rajya Sabha today:

The government today rejected allegations of phone tapping of BJP leader Arun Jaitley and promised to get the full details of the "unauthorised" obtaining of call details of the Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha.

"The government did not authorise anybody to intercept the telephone of the LOP," Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said in a statement in the Upper House, where he came in for sharp criticism by non-Congress members on the issue.

Shinde said, "This was not a case of telephone tapping. The Indian government is not tapping any member's phone."

Rejecting the statement, BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu said "it is nothing but reporting of an SHO" as the minister has only chosen to say that investigation is going on and interrogation has taken place.

"Normally the suspicion goes to the government...How can such activity take place without the knowledge of the government or its consent...Is there anything for the government to hide... there is something fishy... there is something more than what meets the eyes. How can you be sure that phone tapping did not take place?" Naidu asked.
14:45  Shinde says he has withdrawn the statement on the three Bhandara rape victims.

Pic: The statement on the Bhandara case that the home minister read out in Parliament today. The names of the victims have been blacked out before it was posted on Twitter by Shiv Aroor of Headlines Today.
14:36  Thoughtless HM names Bhandara rape victims in RS:  Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde made a major faux pas in the Rajya Sabha today when he named the three minor girls who were raped in in the Bhandara district of Maharashtra last month.

Shinde expressed shock at the rape and murder of three minor sisters and in a statement in Parliament on the issue, said, I am deeply shocked at the ghastly rape and murder of the three sisters. I am sure the collective consciousness of all members of the House would be revolted by this incident.

Recalling the incident, Shinde said the three girls had gone missing after leaving for school on the morning of February 14. A case was registered at the Lakhani police station in Bhandara district on the same night.

Their bodies were found floating in a well on February 17. The post-mortem conducted by a team of 5 doctors established sexual abuse.

The minister further informed that the in-charge of the police station was suspended on February 19.

It was only after the Opposition benches raised a hue and cry that the names were expunged from the records. Naming rape victims is a punishable offence.

Making a statement in Parliament on the issue, Shinde said, I am deeply shocked at the ghastly rape and murder of the three sisters. I am sure the collective consciousness of all members of the House would be revolted by this incident.


Recalling the incident, Shinde said the three girls had gone missing after leaving for school on the morning of February 14. A case was registered at the Lakhani police station in Bhandara district on the same night.

Their bodies were found floating in a well on February 17. The post-mortem conducted by a team of 5 doctors established sexual abuse.

The minister further informed that the in-charge of the police station was suspended on February 19.

The minister added that an investigation by the Maharashtra police is underway to apprehend the perpetrators. - See more at: http://zeenews.india.com/news/nation/shinde-to-make-statement-on-bhandara-rape-case_832251.html#sthash.2gstWRzL.dpuf
14:14  Barbra Streisand: My dog is like the daughter I never had:  She was sensational singing at the Oscars and now appears in her first leading film role since the Nineties. Barbra Streisand talks about her on-and-off-screen sons (and dog) and why the time is right to take top billing once again. Read
14:05  Here's what Rahul has been doing in Mumbai today:  Congress Vice President Rahul is meeting with workers and leaders from the party's faction-ridden city unit here today.

This is Rahul's first visit to the city after taking over as the Vice President of the party. He was accompanied by Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, state Congress chief Manikrao Thakre and AICC in-charge Mohan Prakash for the meeting at the party's state headquarters Tilak Bhawan in central Mumbai.

All MPs, MLAs, corporators, office-bearers and chiefs from the six district units of Mumbai are attending the meeting with the Congress leader.

Mumbai Congress unit has been without a leader for the last one year, after Kripashankar Singh, facing allegations of corruption, resigned following the party's defeat in the civic elections last year.

The party has not been able to find a replacement for Singh since then. Party sources attribute the delay in appointment of a city unit president to infighting and decision-making regarding organisational matters in each of the six district units resting with the high profile MPs from Mumbai.
13:53  Jaitley phone tapping row: BJP dissatisfied with Shinde's answer:  BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu on Friday dismissed Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde''s explanation on the Jaitley phone tapping issue, saying the government has all the wherewithal to find out who was behind it.

Expressing dissatisfaction over the pace of the investigations, Naidu said: "Arrest was made on 14 February and today is 1 March. This kind of thing is not possible without the support of the government. Why is the investigation taking so long, does the government have something to hide?." 

"How do you know the phone was not tapped? Do you have an investigation? If the records were accessed, why couldn''t they also hack the phone records? Some forces are clearly at work - this is very serious. What are the steps taken to prevent such abuse?" he asks. 

Shinde earlier clarified that Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley''s phone was not tapped, but that someone was trying to access his call records.
13:46  Indian-origin writer wins British Physics journalism prize:   London-based Indian-origin writer has won the inaugural Physics Journalism Prize aimed at inspiring the next generation of physicists by encouraging journalists to spread awareness about the complex subject.

Anil Ananthaswamy, a consultant at New Scientist Magazine and author of "The Edge of Physics," has won the prize sponsored by the Institute of Physics (IOP) and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

"The Physics Journalism Prize offers an expenses paid trip to Japan to visit world-leading facilities carrying out research at the frontiers of physics. His article 'Hip Hip Array', that "brings to life" on the Square Kilometre Array, an international project to design and build the largest radio telescope ever conceived, made him the winner.
13:21  Chopper scam: CBI to quiz ex-air chief next week:  Former air chief SP Tyagi and his cousins will be questioned by the CBI next week in the chopper scam. Armed with documents from Italy, the CBI on February 25, named the former Air Force chief in its preliminary enquiry into allegations of kickbacks in the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal, the second former defence services chief to figure in a scam probe.

Besides the former IAF chief, 10 others including his cousins -- Julie, Docsa and Sandeep Tyagi have also been named along with four companies in the enquiry, CBI sources said.

The CBI has registered the preliminary enquiry to probe allegations that some "middlemen have influenced the deal in favour" of the Italian company AgustaWestland for the supply of 12 helicopters. 
13:02  B'desh calls out paramilitary force amid violence, 42 killed:  Bangladesh today deployed paramilitary border guards to beef up security after a top Islamist opposition leader was sentenced to death, sparking nationwide riots that killed at least 42 people.

"Our troops were deployed in 15 troubled districts in aide of civil administration... BGB (Border Guard Bangladesh) has been kept alert so it could move immediately wherever they are required," BGB chief major General Aziz Ahmed said.

The violence broke out yesterday after 73-year-old Delwar Hossain Sayedee, vice-president of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), was sentenced to death by International Crimes Tribunal after he was found guilty of eight counts out of 20 involving rape, mass killings and atrocities during the nine-month freedom war against Pakistan in 1971.

A police spokesman, meanwhile, said law enforcement agencies were on high alert as Jamaat and Sayedee's supporters planned more protests today.
12:55  The Indians voting for a new pope:  When the new pope is chosen next month, five Indians will be among the cardinals electing the next leader of the Catholic Church.Cardinal Telesphore Toppo, Archbishop of Ranchi in the eastern state of Jharkhand, is one of those who has traveled to the Vatican in Rome to take part in his second papal election, known as the conclave. Read
12:51  Viewing the external:  This was not the dream budget that was hoped for from the finance minister, P. Chidambaram. Great expectations had been built up after he announced some very decisive measures and demonstrated a serious sense of purpose when he took over as finance minister less than 10 months ago. Read the opinion piece on the Telegraph. 
12:40  Bruce Reynolds, mastermind behind Great Train Robbery, dies :  Violent criminal reoffended after 10-year sentence for his part in a robbery that shook the world in 1963, dies. The man was Bruce Reynolds, the mastermind behind the Great Train Robbery. Read
12:31  Heaven scent Richard I's heart soaked in holy balm:  Autopsy of 12th-century monarch -- Richard I -- reveals heart embalmed in purifying frankincense. Read
12:22  Scarlett Keeling murder: 5 yrs on case unresolved:  I was naive, but never negligent: Five years after her daughter was murdered in Goa, Fiona MacKeown is still fighting for justice. Read
12:12  Cannibal cop may be saved by his own words:  Cannibla cop, NYPD officer Gilberto Valle made essentially the same depraved threats in chats dismissed as 'fantasy' as in others deemed 'real,' an FBI agent admits -- a disclosure that weakens the prosecution's case. See more
12:10  Cannibal cop and the dark, secret world of cannibal porn:  How much is real on erotic websites that feature questions about which part of a woman is tastiest, show photos of women hogtied or on a spit roast, or offer recipes for cooking women? Caroline Linton goes inside the world of cannibal porn. See more
12:03  Gambling with God:  The love of money may be the root of all evil according to the Bible, but that hasn't stopped bookmakers from offering odds on who will emerge from the white smoke as the next pope. Read
12:02  New pope has to rebrand church:  Pope Benedict XVI gave an emotional farewell in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday. The moment said a lot about his papacy. On the one hand, the square was packed with an estimated 150,000 enthusiastic Catholics eager to show him love and respect. On the other hand, the pope's remarks conceded that his papacy was often a troubled one. More
11:57  Keenan-Santos trial: Plea filed for woman judge:  Update on the Keenan-Santos murder trial. Rediff.com's Ganesh Nadar reporting from the Sewri fast-track sessions court in Mumbai, says the prime eyewitness and complainant in the case Avinash Solanki has served a notice on the police and the public prosecutor in the case, saying he wants the hearing to be conduction by a woman judge. The case will now be heard on March 5.
11:40  A recipe for continuing stagflation:  Jayati Ghosh's opinion piece on the Hindu, also on the budget: The sting in the tail is the aggressively inflationary proposal for a reduction of fuel subsidies. Read.

Ghosh is a professor of economics at JNU.
11:37  The sum of small bangs:  Buffeted by strong headwinds blowing from several directions, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has had very little room for major new initiatives or ideas while fashioning the Union budget for 2013-14.  Read
11:35  The cartoon on the Hindu today on yesterday's union budget. See
11:30  Job description for a pope:  So, Pope Benedict XVI has officially resigned, saying that he now "will simply be a pilgrim" starting his last journey on earth.

The pontiff, aged 85, was earlier flown by helicopter from the Vatican to his retreat at Castel Gandolfo, near Rome.

The college of cardinals, headed by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, is now in charge of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics until a new pope is elected.Benedict vowed "unconditional obedience and reverence" to his successor.

Read more: Help Wanted: Must Be Infallible. A job description for the next pope.
11:04  Keenan-Reben murder trial to begin today :  The Sewri fast-track sessions court and is set to begin the hearing in the murder trial of Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandez.

24-year-old Keenan and 29-year-old Reuben were stabbed after a scuffle near a paan shop in Amboli, Andheri (W) on October 20, 2011 when they protested against the harassment of their female companions.

Solanki was present at the spot along with Keenan's girlfriend at the time of the incident.

While Keenan died soon after the incident, Reuben died on October 30, 2011 in a hospital in Andheri. The police arrested four accused -- Jitendra Rana, Sunil Bodh, Satish Dulhaj and Dipak Tival -- in the case and have filed a 416-page charge sheet.

The hearing will be presided over by Judge ML Chauhan.
10:51  Rahul in Mumbai: Expect major traffic disruptions:   If you are planning to take the Western Express Highway, in Mumbai, don't. Rahul Gandhi is in the city and southbound traffic on the WEH has been blocked.

Gandhi is on a one-day visit to Mumbai. From the airport he is headed to Tilak Bhavan, Dadar, at 9:45 am, where he will be meeting with office bearers of the District Congress Committees & Block Congress Presidents of Mumbai.

Then at 1.30 pm he will be meeting with the elected Congress Members of Mumbai Municipal Corporation. At 2:45 pm, he will attend the extended executive meeting of the Mumbai Regional Congress Committee.
10:29  Shinde to make statement on Bhandara rape case:  
It has been more than two weeks since three minor sisters were raped and murdered in Maharashtra's Bhandara district but police have yet to make a headway in the case. The sisters aged 6, 9 and 11 years respectively, who went missing from their home, were later found to have been killed after sexual abuse. 

On Friday, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde is expected to make a statement in Parliament on the issue which has led to national uproar.

A fact-finding team of the National Human Rights Commission has already visited Murwadi village in Lakhani taluka this week where the incident occurred.

The girls went missing from their home on February 14, and bodies were found in a well in a field later.
10:13  BJP national executive to meet in New Delhi today:  
Bharatiya Janata Party's national executive committee will meet in New Delhi on Friday and the national council on the next two days to discuss the preparations for Assembly polls later in 2013 and galvanise workers for the Lok Sabha polls scheduled in 2014.

Party sources said Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is expected to be in the limelight at the meeting with voices having already risen for declaring him as prime ministerial candidate for the general elections. 

However, a formal resolution has yet to be made on whether the Gujarat Chief Minister will receive any responsibility in the Lok Sabha elections.

It will be first meeting of national council after Modi's third successive win in the Assembly polls in Gujarat. Sources said the national council would endorse election of Rajnath Singh as party president.
09:46  Kim Jong Un a 'friend for life': Dennis Rodman:  
Dennis Rodman has done some crazy things in his day, but if reports coming out of North Korea are true, he may have just topped them all.

Rodman, who is in North Korea as part of an HBO documentary on "basketball diplomacy," watched a basketball game in Pyongyang with North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, on Thursday. According to a spokesman for the film crew, Rodman told Kim that You have a friend for life.

Rodman and Kim talked as they watched players from North Korea and the U.S. play on mixed teams, Alex Detrick, a spokesman for the New York-based VICE media company, told the Associated Press. 

Kim is a diehard basketball fan and was a huge fan of the 1990s Chicago Bulls, of which Rodman was a key member. Rodman is the most high-profile American to meet with the North Korean leader since Kim took power in 2011. Just two weeks ago, North Korea conducted a nuclear test in defiance of the U.S. and other world powers.
09:45  Berlin Wall to be torn down for luxury flats:  
Rumuors this week that a segment of the Wall would be torn down to make way for a block of flats were confirmed by Franz Schulz, mayor of the city's eastern district of Friedrichshain, daily Die Welt wrote.

Meanwhile, several petitions circulating online demanding an end to the project have collected thousands of signatures.

"The longest remaining part of the wall on the former death strip, along with the public river bank would be completely and permanently destroyed," read one petition, placing the blame squarely on developers of luxury flats. 

The East Side Gallery, a 1.3-kilometre stretch of Berlin Wall marking the former border between East and West Berlin, which is now covered in murals by artists from around the world, is the second most popular visitor attraction in the German capital after the Brandenburg Gate. 

Some estimates put the average number of visitors at 1,000 a day, while up to 10,000 people are thought to walk along the former death strip on the banks of the Spree River on sunny days in summer.
09:18  WB: Boy fails in test for HS exam, kills mother:  
A 19-year-old boy on Thursday strangulated his mother to death in North 24 Parganas district, apparently in fear of being exposed that he had failed to clear the test to appear for the Higher Secondary Examination, the police said.

Sourav Khilari first sprinkled chili powder on the eyes of his mother Mousumi Khilari (45) and then strangulated her using a skipping rope, the sources said. 

The woman managed to raise an alarm, following which their neighbours at Green Park under Belgharia police station reached there, broke open the door of their flat and found the woman lying dead. 

The police came and arrested Sourav, the only child of Mousumi and her husband, a railway employee. 

During interrogation, Sourav said he failed in the test examination and could not appear for the Higher Secondary examination. But he did not inform his parents about this.
09:17  CBSE Class X, XII exams to begin today:  
The Central Board of Secondary Education's Class X and XII exams are beginning on Friday. 

While over 12 lakh students will appear for the Class X examination, nearly 10 lakh will sit for the Class XII test. 

In all, 12,59,202 students will be sitting for the class X examination, an increase of 6.70 per cent over last year.

Similarly, 9,42,035 students will be taking the class XII examination also beginning March 1, which is an increase of 15.51 per cent over last year. 

This year CBSE has provided facilities to schools to generate 'online roll no. wise' list of candidates appearing in 2013 Class X and XII examinations. School can also generate online admit card for their regular students appearing in this year's Board tests. 

From this year, CBSE will introduce 'value based questions' in all major subjects for Classes X and XII up to 3-5 marks.
09:15  Books on Google Play now available in India:  
Google has now added books to its Google Play store, for usersin India. Books on Google Play include thousands of Indian titles, from new releases to classics.

The Play Store now has two sections -- Apps and Books. Selecting Apps will take you to the old app store, where you can download apps and games, while selecting Books will take you to Google Play Books, where you can browse through and download books.

Your library is at your fingertips no matter where you are. With Google Play you can read on the device of your choice. 

And with your books in the cloud you can read on the web, a phone, or a tablet and pick up right where you left off.
04:10  How Kerry can achieve peace in Middle East:  The U.S. secretary of state is currently travelling in the Middle East and the president will be travelling there next month. But this time, neither John Kerry nor Barack Obama will focusing primarily on Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations as secretaries of state and presidents have done so often in the past.

This time, Obama and Kerry will be dealing mainly with the more pressing issues of an ongoing and bloody civil war in Syria and a suspected nuclear weapons program in Iran.  That has left some analysts, as well as officials in the region, grousing that Washington may have lost interest in the Israeli-Palestinian impasse after almost 40 years of trying without success to broker a peace accord between the two sides.

Read more here
04:09  Venezuelan opposition leader faces fresh charges:  Leading Venezuelan opposition figure Leopoldo Lopez appeared before prosecutors in Caracas on Thursday to answer charges of influence peddling while he was a state oil company employee in 1998, an accusation he described as "political persecution.

"Lopez, a strong critic of cancer-stricken President Hugo Chavez and cofounder of the center-right Justice First party, is accused of funneling $120,000 in donations to his party from the state-owned oil monopoly PDVSA while he was a top-level employee there in the late 1990s.

His supporters say Chavistas have it in for the 41-year old Harvard graduate and former mayor of a borough in Caracas because he led anti-Chavez demonstrations prior to the April 2002 coup that briefly overthrew Chavez. Lopez was part of group that made a "citizens arrest' of then-Interior Minister Ramon Rodriguez Chacin during the disturbances.
02:20  Jindal criticises Obama for wasteful spending:  Indian-American Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has criticized US President Barack Obama, saying his administration would go down in history for propagating government greed and wasteful spending. 

In a National Review op-ed released today, Jindal slammed the president for making doomsday predictions on the impacts of the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration and added cuts could be made without endangering crucial services.
02:19  Poland finds horse meat DNA in beef samples:  One of Poland's top veterinarians said today that traces of horse-meat DNA have been found in beef samples taken from three meat processors, the first acknowledgement that the country could be a source of the horse meat that fraudulently ended up in processed meat products sold as beef across Europe.

Deputy National Veterinarian Janusz Zwiazek said the DNA was found in three samples out of 121 tested. They came from cold storage at processing plants in central Poland. The meat arrived there from various suppliers in Poland and abroad, including from the Netherlands, Zwiazek told The Associated Press.
01:40  West to send Syrian rebels aid, not arms:  Western powers pledged aid for Syrian rebels on Thursday but stopped short of offering them weapons, disappointing opponents of President Bashar al-Assad clamoring for more arms.

More than 70,000 Syrians have been killed in a fierce conflict that began with peaceful anti-Assad protests nearly two years ago.Washington has given $385 million in humanitarian aid for Syria but U.S. President Barack Obama has so far refused to give arms, arguing it is difficult to prevent them from falling into the hands of militants who could use them on Western targets.
01:37  Pope, in final message, says he's a simple pilgrim:  Benedict XVI greeted the faithful for the last time as pope today, telling tearful well-wishers that he is beginning the final stage of his life as "simply a pilgrim," hours before he becomes the first pontiff in 600 years to resign. 

The pope's journey into retirement began with an emotion-drenched sendoff from the Vatican, with Swiss Guards in full regalia standing in attention and prelates kneeling to kiss the papal ring - Benedict's closest aide weeping by his side.
00:35  Series of explosions in Iraq kill 22:  A series of bombings struck Baghdad and towns south of the Iraqi capital today, killing at least 22 and wounding dozens in areas that are home to mostly Muslim Shiites, the latest evidence of rising sectarian discord in Iraq. 

The attackers struck a day before tens of thousands of Sunni Muslims are expected to take to the streets in what have become weekly protests against the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The deadliest attack occurred around sunset when a pair of bombs exploded nearly simultaneously in Shula in northwestern Baghdad. 

One was a car bomb that was detonated outside a fast food restaurant and the other blast occurred near a soccer field. The twin bombings killed 15 people and left at least 40 wounded, officials said.
00:35  Manning offers some guilty pleas in WikiLeaks case:  A soldier charged in the biggest leak of classified material in US history offered guilty pleas today to 10 of 22 charges against him, and a military judge said she would allow Bradley Manning to read a statement explaining his actions. 

Manning would plead guilty to sending hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, in violation of military regulations but not in violation of federal espionage laws. 

The judge must decide whether to accept the guilty pleas, which could carry a sentence of 20 years in prison. Prosecutors could still pursue a court-martial on the remaining charges, including aiding the enemy, which carries a potential life sentence.
00:32  Top headlines in the past 24 hours:  
Sonia rapt, Rahul restless during Budget speech

CPI-M win in Tripura reflects re-emergence of Left: Yechury

Over 99 per cent people lost in Kumbh reunited

VVIP chopper deal: Former Finmeccanica CEO grilled

B'desh: 23 killed in violence over war crimes verdict

Hyderabad blasts: Sketches of suspects to be released soon

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