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LIVE! Bharat Ratna to Tendulkar a big mistake: Uma Bharti

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February 06, 2014

23:27  Kejriwal meets German President:  
In his first interaction with a visiting foreign dignitary, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tonight met German President Joachim Guack during which issues ranging from Jan Lokpal Bill and AAP's plan for coming Lok Sabha elections were believed to have figured. 

It is understood that the President wanted to know about Kejriwal's and his party's views on various issues during the 25-minute meeting. 

"This was a formal meeting with the German President," Kejriwal told PTI after the meeting at the German Embassy in Delhi.

Sources said Gauck wanted to know about AAP government's policies and Kejriwal's stand on various issues. 

Later, Kejriwal responded to queries of diplomats from different countries on issues ranging from Jan Lokpal, corruption and his party's plan for Lok Sabha elections. 

Guack had yesterday held talks with the top leadership, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, here on the first day of his state visit which was highlighted by inking of two pacts under which Germany will provide loans worth 900 million Euros to India.

The President is accompanied by a high-ranking delegation comprising, among others, representatives of the German cabinet, Parliament and business. 
23:22  Bharat Ratna to Tendulkar a big mistake: Uma Bharti:  
BJP vice president Uma Bharti today said no cricketer who has taken part in the IPL auction should be considered for the Bharat Ratna award. 

"Awarding Bharat Ratna to Sachin Tendulkar was a big mistake and after IPL, no cricketer should be considered for the top civilian honour," she said, adding that she was personally not against him.

Players who were auctioned in IPL should not be considered for the top honour, Bharti said. 

"How a cricketer who had sold himself in Rs 4-5 crore in IPL auction could be given the Bharat Ratna?" she asked 

The BJP leader said she likes the game and during her tenure as Union Sports Minister she had even recommended a number of former cricketers for the prestigious Arjuna award. 
22:51  Delhi: BSES Discoms seek Rs 450 cr dues to overcome financial woes:  
Reliance Infra-backed BSES discoms today sought Rs 450 crore "dues" from Delhi government and MCDs to overcome their immediate "financial difficulties" and avoid black outs in 70 per cent areas even as the AAP dispensation maintained it will not adopt a "lenient" approach in dealing with the firms.

In letter, the BSES discoms asked the government to pay Rs 262 crore of subsidy due to them, saying the amount would help them clear the outstandings to state-run power generator NTPC. BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd and BSES Yamuna Power Ltd said if
NTPC goes ahead with the threat of cut in power supply, then there will be almost 100 per cent loadshedding in their areas
of operation except in hospitals and Delhi Metro from Monday evening. 

BSES discoms supply power in 70 per cent areas here. 

The Delhi government has already made it clear that it will not pay the subsidy dues to BSES discoms and will adjust the amount with their outstanding to Delhi government-run power generation and transmission companies.

BRPL and BYPL owe around Rs 4,000 crore to Delhi government-run power generation and transmission utilities. 
22:44  Over 2,000 evacuated as WWII bomb found in Hong Kong: police:  
More than 2,000 people were evacuated and roads closed in central Hong Kong today after a World War II bomb weighing almost a tonne was discovered on a construction site, police said. 

The giant US Navy bomb was found by workers in the upscale Happy Valley district- home to Hong Kong's famous horse racing track. 

An officer at the scene said bomb disposal experts would need several hours to remove the explosives from the bomb casing.

"If it went off accidentally it would cause serious damage. Buildings could collapse," Yuen Hon-wing, a senior bomb disposal officer at the scene, told reporters. "Residents in the area, including guests from hotels, have been evacuated. Some roads are temporarily closed," a police spokeswoman said.
20:55  Commitment to Telangana cause is full and final: BJP:  

Clearing the air over its stand on Telangana issue, BJP today said its commitment to the statehood cause was "full and final". BJP President Rajnath Singh conveyed this to TRS Chief K Chandrasekhar Rao who met him at his residence here, party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told reporters in New Delhi.  


"Our commitment is full and final. We will get Telangana," he said. Javadekar said the BJP chief had explained about the "double game" played by Congress party on the statehood bill.     


"Congress is playing double game, double politics...They are not friends of Telangana and they are not friends of Seemandhra either," he alleged. Congress did not have any ideological commitment towards the issue, he charged.        


He said Congress did not initiate any action against Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy who had participated in a dharna here yesterday against the bifurcation move.

19:36  BJP slams Rahul on Muzaffarnagar issue:  

Using government's denial, BJP today attacked Rahul Gandhi accusing him of spreading "falsehood" about Muzaffarnagar riot-hit victims being contacted by Pakistan's ISI and demanded an explanation from him.  


"What Rahul Gandhi was saying was absolute falsehood. This falsehood is the hallmark of the Congress party...He owes an explanation to the nation and to the media. He must tell now and must explain explain why he resorted to this falsehood," BJP Spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.   


He said the "falsehood of Rahul Gandhi stands exposed today" as the government in its written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha stated there was no input suggesting that Pakistan's intelligence agency ISI had contacted victims of riots in Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh.

18:43  Marines are 'neither terrorists nor pirates': Italy's FM:   The two Italian marines facing trial in India over the killing of two Indian fishermen are "neither terrorists nor pirates", Italy's Foreign Minister Emma Bonino said today. Bonino's remarks came ahead of the February 10 hearing of the case by India's Supreme Court, which asked Indian authorities to resolve all disputes arising out of the issue of invoking an anti-piracy law against marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone.

Latorre and Girone "are neither terrorists nor pirates", Bonino was quoted as saying by Italian news agency ANSA. The marines allegedly shot dead two fishermen off the Kerala coast in February 2012, sparking diplomatic tensions.
18:28  Live! Zip the lip: Rahul asks Cong spokespersons to be careful making statements:  Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi asks party spokespersons to be careful while giving statements. On January 18 at the AICC meeting in Delhi Congress senior leader Mani Shankar Aiyar had mocked Narendra Modi's Prime Ministerial ambitions and said a place will be identified for the Gujarat Chief Minister to distribute tea at the venue.

"I promise you in 21st Century Narendra Modi will never become the Prime Minister of the country. ...But if he wants to distribute tea here, we will find a place for him," Aiyar said at the venue of the AICC meeting in Delhi.
mocked Narendra Modi's Prime Ministerial ambitions and said a place will be identified for the Gujarat Chief Minister to distribute tea here. "I promise you in 21st Century Narendra Modi will never become the Prime Minister of the country. ...But if he wants to distribute tea here, we will find a place for him," Aiyar said at the venue of the AICC meeting here.

Read more at:
18:02  More money, more power for Asian militaries:  Asian countries ramped up their defense spending in 2013, while military budgets in the West continued to dwindle as a share of the global total.

The Asia-Pacific region accounted for 24% of the $1.538 trillion spent worldwide last year, according to an annual defense budgets review published by IHS Jane's on Feb. 4.

After five years of declines, global defense spending will rebound modestly to $1.547 trillion this year, the report forecast. Read more
17:48  Union Minister Jaipal Reddy is hosting a lunch for MPs, media professionals and advocates at his residence on Saturday. Reddy joked that on the menu was spicy cuisine from Telangana.
17:36  Farooq Abdullah, Sharad Pawar in a huddle in Parliament :  In Parliament today (for the few hours before it adjourned for the day),  NCP chief Sharad Pawar and NC chief Farooq Abullah were seen having a conversation together at the Central Hall. Other MPs speculated that they are looking at deciding on the right time to walk out of the UPA. Others jokingly wondered who would get closer to Narendra Modi first. 
17:32  BSP MP Prof SP Singh Baghel is expected to resign from the Rajya Sabha
next month. Upset with Mayawati, Baghel is in touch with senior BJP leaders and is likely to contest as the BJP candidate from Agra. Up ahead this week are meetings with Narendra Modi and Rajnath Singh. 
17:28  Live! 'Kejriwal has lost mental balance, how can FIR be filed before probe!':   Congress leader Mukesh Sharma says Arvind Kejriwal has lost his mental balance. "How can an FIR be filed before an investigation takes place?" he asks.

Former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit has not been named in the FIR filed by the ACB in the CWG scam.
16:57  Kejriwal directed ACB to file FIR in CWG scam :  Arvind Kejriwal, today directed the Anti-Corruption Branch to lodge an FIR in the Rs 90-crore street light project for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in which a panel headed by a former CAG had indicted the then Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

After a Cabinet meeting, senior Minister Manish Sisodia said the ACB has been told to conduct a thorough probe into the scam as there have been "strong findings" in it by CAG and Shunglu Committee.

"The ACB has been directed to conduct an independent and thorough investigation and take action. ACB will file FIR in the case. Our motive is not to target a particular person," Sisodia said.

Registration of an FIR is the first step in the filing of formal charges. Today's move was bound to needle its ally Congress.
16:54  Live! Former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit NOT named in CWG scam FIR :  Just in: A fresh FIR has been filed in the CWG streetlighting scam by the ACB, but former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit has not been named in the chargesheet.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal today moved the files relating to the preparations for the 2010 CWG to the Anti-Corruption Bureau, which means that an FIR could have been filed against Sheila Dikshit.

16:50  I left Parliament in disgust today: Yashwant Sinha:  "Today was the second day of the last session of the 15th Lok Sabha. The House assembled as usual at 11 am. The Speaker announced the Question Hour. Immediately, all hell broke loose and members from the Congress party, the supporting parties of the UPA and some others rushed into the well of the House and disrupted House proceedings. After a few minutes of this not unexpected drama, the Speaker adjourned the House to meet again at 12 noon."

Read Yashwant Sinha's blog here.
16:46  Congress MLA to switch to TMC in a boost before RS election:  In a boost to the ruling Trinamool Congress ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections, Congress MLA Abu Naser Khan Chowdhury today announced that he would join the ruling party tomorrow.

"I will join Trinamool Congress tomorrow when the official announcement will be made and I will also vote for TMC candidates," Chowdhury, who is the brother of late Congress' Malda strongman A B A Ghani Khan Choudhury, told reporters in the presence of TMC all-India general secretary Mukul Roy and Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee.
16:29  Cyberabads swagger returns as native son takes top spot at Microsoft:   Not since March 24, 2000, when President Clinton addressed a gathering of technology entrepreneurs here, has the Hyderabad software industry's swagger been more pronounced, now that Satya Nadella, a Hyderabad native, has been named the chief executive of Microsoft. Read

Also read: Satya Nadella to bag a pay package of Rs 112 crore!
16:17  The Caravan magazine issues a press release on its interview with Swami Aseemanand and his claims that the RSS sanctioned terror attacks.

16:00  Murdoch's ex-wife loved Tony Blair's 'good body, really good legs':  Tony Blair and Wendy Deng fed each other during dinner at her then-husband Rupert Murdoch's Californian ranch - where he was also caught going into her bedroom, a magazine has claimed.

The British former prime minister and Miss Deng, who is now divorced from Mr Murdoch, 82, spent time together without the media tycoon knowing, Vanity Fair said in a series of extraordinary allegations.

And it also disclosed the contents of a note in which Miss Deng, 45, wrote 'I'm so missing Tony', going on to talk about his 'good body', and 'really good legs' adding: 'I love his power on the stage.'

15:52  Govt probing complaints in mega combat aircraft deal:  The government is looking into the complaints against the procedure to determine the winner of multi-billion dollar combat aircraft deal, Defence Minister A K Antony today said while admitting that there was no money to sign such a big deal in this fiscal.

"There are complaints about the procedure of calculating the Life Cycle Cost and that issue is not yet settled. Before bringing the deal before the Cabinet Committee on Security for final approval, we would like to get clear on that aspect," he told a press conference in Delhi.

Antony hoped that deal will be finalised in 2014-15.
15:51  Aviator Anil Chopra tweets: No money to buy fight jets. Security low priority? IAF Down to 34 sqns. Advantage over PAF gone. China way ahead. Delay cost escalations!!
15:37  Gates spends entire first day in office trying to install Windows 8.1:  Bill Gates's first day at work in the newly created role of technology adviser got off to a rocky start yesterday as the Microsoft founder struggled for hours to install the Windows 8.1 upgrade.The installation hit a snag early on, sources said, when Mr. Gates repeatedly received an error message informing him that his PC ran into a problem that it could not handle and needed to restart.  Read more
15:27  In its first chargesheet filed in July, the CBI accused seven senior policemen of murdering Ishrat and the others "in cold blood" and of planting an AK-56 at the scene of the shooting to portray the victims as terrorists. CBI sources say IB officer Rajinder Kumar provided the weapon.

The IB, however, says its offices have been wrongly chargesheeted.
15:23  This is the second chargesheet filed by the CBI. The other three IB officers charged, apart from Rajinder Kumar are P Mittal, MK Sinha and Rajiv Wankhede. 
15:22  Live! Ishrat Jahan case: Amit Shah not named in supplementary chargesheet :  The supplementary chargesheet has been filed in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case. IB officer Rajinder Kumar, who headed the Intelligence Bureau in Gujarat, and three more officers have been named for abduction and conspiracy in the case. Ishrat Jahan, who was killed by state police officers 10 years ago.

Then home minister, and a close aide of Narendra Modi has not been named in the chargesheet.
15:14  Connecting the terror dots:  In shocking revelations, Swami Aseemanand claims though RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat was not directly involved with the terror strikes, he was aware that such attacks were being planned.'s Vicky Nanjappa finds out more. Read
14:57  Adjourned in 15 minutes: how Parliament lost 6.75 crores in two days:   The Lok Sabha ran for a mere 15 minutes today before raucous Andhra Pradesh lawmakers, shouting slogans in favour of and against the proposal to create Telangana, forced its adjournment for the day. The House of People was a bit luckier yesterday. It functioned for 34 minutes before Speaker Meira Kumar called it a day. Read more
14:49  A day after Modi's Brigade rally, 1500 members of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha in Howrah join Trinamool YUVA, retweets TMC spokesperson Derek O Brien.

This is what Narendra Modi, famously said, in Kolkata yesterday: "Bangal mein parivartan aaya hai. Delhi mein hamein mauka dijiye.... Aap ke dono haathon mein laddoo ho jayenge (A change has happened in Bengal. In Delhi, you give me a chance.... Then, you will have laddoos in both hands)."
14:43  Why the AAP still matters:  One reason why the Aam Aadmi Party is of such consuming interest to politically engaged desis is that it seems committed to pluralism without making caste and community identities central to its politics.

The Mandalization of Indian politics is a familiar theme and an important stage in the evolution of the republic, but the AAP seems to mark something of a departure from the politics of identity; it doesn't set out, ideologically, to perform India's social diversity.

Mukul Kesavan on why the AAP still matters. Read
14:37   Today, protesters marched from Jantar Mantar to Parliament Street demanding an anti-racial law that would deter discriminatory attack on people from north east. Leading a peaceful protest, the members of the group offered court arrest at the Parliament Street police station.
14:33  Live! Nido death: Police now say Arunachal student was beaten twice :   The Delhi Police, which has already constituted a Special Investigation Team to investigate the case of the death of Nido Taniam said today that there were two rounds of fighting between  Nido and his assailants.

Nido, a student from Arunachal Pradesh, died last week after he was allegedly assaulted by a group of people in Southeast Delhi's Lajpat Nagar.

Police in the status report said the shopkeeper and his three accomplices beat up Nido after he paid Rs 7000 for breaking the shop's windowpane.

They also allegedly made fun of his hairstyle. The police said the accused were arrested under SC/ST Act and not under murder charges.

The three accused -- Sunder Singh, Pawan Farmania, Farman -- were produced before Metropolitan Magistrate Pawan Kumar on Tuesday.
14:14  Delhi govt moves against Sheila Dikshit on CWG projects:   In yet another move aimed at needling outside ally Congress, the AAP government today directed its Anti-Corruption Bureau to probe a number of Commonwealth Games related projects that were implemented during the reign of Sheila Dikshit.

The government has particularly asked ACB to probe the alleged irregularities in street light projects in which the Prime Minister-appointed Shunglu Committee had questioned certain decisions made by Dikshit.

"We will ensure thorough investigation of all cases of corruption in CWG projects," Law Minister Somnath Bharti said when asked about the government decision.

He said the ACB has been told to examine all cases of irregularities but maintained that the probe will not target "any particular individual".
13:37  The SIT is expected to look into why 241 of the 600 FIRs registered in the 1984 violence were reportedly closed by the police. The SIT will also inquire into allegations of evidence ignored by the police and expedite the process in cases where chargesheets were not filed despite sufficient evidence.
13:35  Live! AAP asks Delhi LG to form SIT to probe 1984 anti-Sikh riots :   The Delhi cabinet asks the Lt Governor to form a Special Investigations Team (SIT) to probe the 1984 riots. Last week, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal discussed the matter with Delhi's Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, whose approval is required for the constitution of the SIT. AAP minister Manish Sisodia says the SIT should be formed with police from outside the state.
13:29  Omar Abdullah tweets: Just been shown around Mumbai's new T2 terminal. Very very impressive, truly a world class piece of infrastructure.
13:27  Pietersen's anti-Andy Flower rant was the final nail in his England career:  Matt Prior has been dragged into the increasingly ugly row over the end of Kevin Pietersen's England career as Pietersen prepares to consider a range of options that would offer the opportunity to take lucrative revenge.
Read more
13:17  Interrogating the anti-graft platform:  A pro-business anti-corruption programme can only have a short-run perspective. Over time, as it leads to inequity, slowdown in the economy, and social discontent, the rulers will have to turn authoritarian. Read more
13:11  An American in Madras traces the career of a pioneer in Tamil films:  Must read: As a college student in what is now known as Mumbai, the Indian filmmaker Karan Bali watched the 1947 Hindi classic, Meera, a remake of the 1945 Tamil-language film of the same name, and loved it.

However, it was not until in 2004, while researching an article for his portal on Indian cinema, Upperstall, that he discovered the director of both films was an American, Ellis R. Dungan.

He ended up writing an article about the director for the website, but thoughts about Mr. Dungan's adventures kept recurring as he puzzled over why an American would spend 15 years in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu to make movies during the 1930s and1940s. 
The full story here.
13:00   Pragya Thakur to be taken to Indore for more cancer tests:  Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, a key suspect in the murder of RSS Pracharak Sunil Joshi, will be taken to Indore soon for PET scan as part of her treatment for cancer.

Pragya, who was diagnosed with cancer last year and had been undergoing treatment at the Pandit Khushilal Ayurveda Hospital in Indore, was briefly shifted to Jawaharlal Nehru Cancer Hospital (JNCH) on Tuesday after her condition deteriorated.

"She was brought back to the Pandit Khushilal Ayurveda Hospital last evening", her relative Bhagwan Jha said.

He said the timing of the Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan--which is done to find out the stage of cancer and its spread--will be finalised after securing permission from police since Pragya is in their custody.

Pragya was arrested by the Maharashtra police in connection with the Malegaon blasts of 2008. Later, the Madhya Pradesh police had arrested her in February 2011 for her alleged role in Sunil Joshi's murder.
12:45  When Mani Shankar Aiyar did the bhangda in Parliament :  Congress senior leader Mani Shankar Aiyar is believed to have danced the bhangda in the Rajya Sabha today when the house resumed at noon.

Aiyar was reacting to the DMK, ADMK MPS who were rushing to the well of the Rajya Sabha demanding justice for Tamil fishermen. An angry Aiyar told the MPs in Tamil "to dive in to the ocean" (to save Tamil fishermen).

The entire house erupted in laughter when Aiyar danced for a second time before he took his seat. BJP MPs were seen provoking Aiyar to repeat his dance.

Aiyar was last in the news for calling Arvind Kejriwal a political clown and earlier, saying that Narendra Modi would never be PM but the Congress would set up a stall for him to sell tea.

Presidential nominees to Rajya Sabha are to maintain decorum and decency. 
12:35  Son defends Woody Allen: He DID NOT sexually abuse my sister :  Moses Farrow has defended his father Woody Allen against repeat allegations made by his sister Dylan Farrow that he sexually assaulted her. Read more
12:31  No business as usual in Parliament:  In terms of number of bills passed, this Lok Sabha will fare the worst among those that have completed a full five-year term. Read more
12:27  Kejriwal's govt orders probe against Sheila Dikshit in CWG streetlighting scam:  Nearly two months after it took charge, Arvind Kejriwal's government has filed an FIR against former chief minister Sheila Dikshit for her alleged role in a scam linked to the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi. Read more 
12:16  On Wednesday, the Opposition had scuttled the introduction of the anti-communal violence bill in Rajya Sabha while the Telangana and caste-reservation issues brought proceedings in both Houses to a standstill.

Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari asked members not to troop into the Well who continued to disrupt proceedings over the Telangana bill.

When the din continued, he adjourned the House till 12 pm. Earlier in the day, parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath had urged the parties to help the House function.

Today, the RS has been adjourned till 2 pm, while the Lok Sabha was adjourned for the day.
12:14  Live! Telangana adjourns Parl; Cong, TDP MPs give notice for no confidence against PM:  Rajya Sabha adjourned till 2 pm over the Telangana issue. A Congress and TDP MP give notice for a no confidence motion against the Manmohan Singh government.

Ruckus in Lok Sabha over the Telangana issue and the House is adjourned till tomorrow.
12:10  Elizabeth Hurley forced to deny claims of an affair with Bill Clinton:  Elizabeth Hurley dismissed claims she had a year-long fling with the former American President as "ludicrously silly". Read more
11:56  Rahul joins protesters against Nido's death, assures strict action:  On Monday, Rahul Gandhi  joined youth from the Northeast agitating to bring to book those involved in the killing of Nido Tania, a student from Arunachal Pradesh, and promised "very strict action" apart from setting up of a committee to look into the treatment meted out to people from the region.

Asserting that "what has happened was unacceptable", Rahul, while addressing the agitators at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, said "....You can expect a very strict action and detailed study done by a committee on the issues of north-easterners of this country. We are trying to move forward on that."
11:54  Live! Rahul-Shinde meet over atrocities against people from north-east :   Rahul Gandhi holds meeting with Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and MPs from Northeast to discuss steps to prevent atrocities against people from that region.
11:48  AAP convenor greeted with eggshells in Delhi:  Do not underestimate the power of a common man, especially if he is an Aam Aadmi with a capital A. His anger can shatter eggshells.

The central convener of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Somnath Tripathy, who flew in from Delhi yesterday, discovered as much. Tripathy, who reached a city hotel to read out the names of 12 AAP workers selected from Jharkhand to lead the Lok Sabha poll campaign in the state, was greeted with fury in the form of flying eggs and tomatoes.  Read more
11:45  Bluestar disclosures renew debate on roles of celebrated generals :  The disclosures in the UK on its advice to India on Operation Bluestar in 1984 has led to a revision in the understanding of the military leadership that designed and led the offensive in the Golden Temple 30 years ago. Read more
11:37  Modi dishes out laddoos in Kolkata too bitter for Didi to swallow :  At yesterday's rally in Kolkata, Narendra Modi today saw something that no BJP leader had ever seen from a party platform in Bengal: over 1.5 lakh people!

Then he proceeded to address a single individual who was present not at the Brigade but across the river.

The aspirant for Prime Minister told Mamata Banerjee, who was at her 14th-floor chamber at Nabanna, through a long-distance message everything that any chief minister would want to hear after the general election but not before polling is over.

Modi tried to convince Mamata that she could realise her dream of Bengal's progress only if there was a friendly government at the Centre.

Read more
11:26  Cong's Seemandhra MPs seek no trust vote against PM:   In a huge embarrassment for the ruling Congress, its own MPs from Seemandhra have given notice for a non-confidence motion against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the plan to split Andhra Pradesh to create a separate Telangana state.

This evening, the union cabinet will review the controversial proposal amid protests by politicians on both sides of the divide. Read more

And yes, as expected, both houses of Parliament have been adjourned over the Telangana issue.
11:19  Telangana leaders to meet President Pranab Mukherjee at 3 pm today; the President will then meet Seemandhra leaders at 6 pm. 
11:18  India extends visa-on-arrival facility to 180 countries:  In a significant step towards liberalization of the visa regime, the government on Wednesday cleared two initiatives: visa on arrival and electronic travel authorization for all countries barring eight "prior reference'' countries including Pakistan, Iran, Sri Lanka and China.

ETA will allow foreign travelers to apply for a visa from home and receive an online confirmation in five working days. Read the full story here.
11:15   The Delhi government has asked the anti-corruption bureau to probe a number of cases of corruption relating to alleged irregularities in Commonwealth Games projects.
11:12  Delhi govt hands first case in CWG scam to anti-corruption unit:   The Delhi government has kept yet another of its promise. It has handed over its face case related to inflated cost of street lightening in the Commonwealth Games scam to its anti-corruption unit.

The Shunglu panel set by the PM to probe the CWG case squarely blamed former CM Sheila Dikshit and MCD officials for irregularities.    
10:32  Chandrababu Naidu to meet Jayalalithaa in Chennai at noon:  Just In: The Telugu Desam Partys N Chandrababu Naidu, who has kept everyone guessing about which way he will go in the impending Lok Sabha elections, will be meeting Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa at 12 noon today.

While Jayalalithaa has made no secret of her national ambitions, Naidu, in the past, has been at the helm of a non-Congress, non-BJP dispensation.

Image: Am earlier meeting between Naidu and Jayalalithaa

10:20  1984 riots: AAP govt to take a call on Spl Investigation Team today :   The Aam Aadmi Party government is expected to decide today on forming a Special Investigation Team to probe the 1984 anti-Sikh riot, reports NDTV.

Last week, Kejriwal discussed the matter with Delhi's Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, whose approval is required for the constitution of the SIT.

Read the full report here 
10:08  India to extend visa-on-arrival facility to 180 nations:   India will extend visa-on arrival to tourists of all nations barring eight, as it looks to boost tourism, Planning Minister Rajeev Shukla said on Wednesday.

"We have decided to extend the visa-on-arrival facility to tourists from 180 nations. It will take 5-6 months for the respective departments to put the required infrastructure in place. We hope to implement this from the next tourist session beginning October," he said.

India currently offers visa-on-arrival to tourists from 11 countries like Finland, the Philippines, Singapore and Japan.
10:07  Aseemanand's lawyer threatens legal action against 'Caravan' magazine:  NDTV reports: After Aseemanand's explosive interviews, his lawyer JS Rana has issued a statement rejecting the Caravan report and denying that the interview ever took place.

"The contents of this article are false, baseless and concocted," he said, threatening legal action.
09:17  Read about Swami Aseemanand's radical service to the RSS in Caravan Magazine
09:11  RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat linked to terror attacks: Aseemanand:  In an interview to Caravan magazine, Swami Aseemanand, an accused in the Samjhauta Express, Mecca Masjid and Ajmer Dargah blasts, has said that RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat gave a go ahead for the attacks.

He claims that Bhagat said the attacks were important and must be carried out but should not be linked to the Sangh.

The RSS has denied Aseemanand's allegations. NIA sources said that Aseemanand did not name senior RSS leaders during his interrogation.

Aseemanand has retracted a similar confession earlier.
08:37  US warns 'toothpaste' bomb threat to Sochi Olympics :  The United States has advised airlines flying to Russia for the Winter Olympics that explosives hidden in toothpaste tubes could be smuggled on to planes.

The department of homeland security told the US media the alert affected flights direct into Russia as it prepares for the games in Sochi, reports BBC.

Read the full report here
04:44  Fire erupts at US nuclear waste plant:  
Firefighters scrambled to contain a blaze at a US nuclear waste plant in New Mexico, while underground staff were evacuated and some taken to hospital, officials said. 

The blaze erupted yesterday on an underground vehicle carrying salt at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, New Mexico, the US Department of Energy (DoE) said in a statement.

"Emergency response teams are responding to an operational emergency" at the plant, which is used to dispose of radioactive waste left from making nuclear weapons. 

"All underground personnel are accounted for and have been safely evacuated to the surface," it said, adding "There is no waste in the vicinity of the fire." 

All waste handling operations have been suspended while "multiple employees" were transported to a local hospital for potential smoke inhalation after the blaze, which erupted around 11:00 am, it said.
02:45  Explosions rock Iraqi capital, killing at least 34:  
Multiple explosions rocked Baghdad today, killing at least 34 people and sending plumes of smoke into the sky across the street from a major government building in a brazen reminder of the ability of insurgents to penetrate the heart of the capital.

The attacks come as al-Qaida-led militants are battling for control of mainly Sunni areas to the west in the first test of the Shiite-led government to maintain security in the country more than two years after the withdrawal of US troops.

The deadliest of today's attacks took place across the street from the high-rise building housing the Foreign Ministry, shattering the windows of nearby apartment buildings. Two parked car bombs went off simultaneously in different parking lots, killing at least 12 people, including three policemen, and wounding 22, a police officer said. 

Shortly afterward, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a nearby falafel restaurant frequented by officials or visitors waiting for security escorts to take them inside the Green Zone, a walled-off area that houses the prime minister's office and the US and other foreign embassies.
02:14  Malala nominated for 'Children's Nobel':  
Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, who survived being shot in the head by the Taliban, was nominated for the World Children's Prize in Sweden today for championing education rights for girls. 

"She is a child herself and she stands up for girls' rights to education in Pakistan, but also in the world as a whole," Liv Kjellberg, 15, a member of the international prize jury said. 

Malala was nominated last year for the Nobel Peace Prize and won the European Union's Sakharov human rights prize for her crusade for the right of all children to an education. The 16-year-old, who now lives in Britain following extensive medical treatment, was shot by a Taliban gunman in 2012 over her outspoken views on education in her home region in northwest Pakistan.

The World Children's Prize -- also known as the "Children's Nobel Prize" -- was founded in 2000 and aims to raise awareness of children's rights in 60,000 schools in 110 countries through educational programmes which include studying champions of human rights and voting for the prize winners.
02:12  Winter storm snarls US air travel for 3rd day:  
Airlines are cancelling thousands of flights because of snow and freezing rain in the US Northeast and Midwest.

FlightStats says almost 2,600 flights had been cancelled as of 9:30 am Eastern (1330 GMT) today. That follows almost 2,000 cancellations yesterday and another 2,500 on Monday. 

Most of the cancelled flights were from the New York-area airports, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington. 

Regional airline Cape Air alone cancelled more than 200 flights, including nearly every flight planned from airports in Massachusetts. 

United Airlines warned that the disruptions will affect flights in the Midwest, including Chicago and Cleveland, too. 

United and other airlines are allowing passengers to change their tickets without the usual change fees.
02:12  Kanpur IIT student found dead inside hostel room:  
A third year B.Tech student at IIT Kanpur was found dead this morning inside his hostel room with officials at the institute saying that the case appeared to be one of suicide.

Officials at the premier technological institute said that the deceased student, identified as Manjunath (20), had been suffering from depression and was even taking assistance for the same.

This is the second instance at IIT, Kanpur, this year of a student being found dead under mysterious circumstances. On January 1, the body of a second year B.Tech student hailing from Andhra Pradesh was found near railway tracks here.

Manjunath, who was enrolled in the computer science stream, had lost use of his legs due to polio. He hailed from Raichur district of Karnataka. 

IIT, Kanpur, Registrar RK Sachan said that the boy had lost his father in his childhood while, a few months back, his sister also passed away.
02:11  Taliban living in 'fantasy world': IISS defence expert:  
The Taliban are living in a "fantasy world" and their chances of achieving their objectives after Western troops leave Afghanistan are extremely low, a military think-tank expert said today. 

The Afghan security forces are "thoroughly in control" of counter-insurgency, said Brigadier Ben Barry, senior fellow on land warfare at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

They should be able to successfully protect the April 5 presidential election, though with 11 candidates, it is difficult to predict whether the transfer of power will be smooth, he said.

The Taliban's military offencive in 2013 failed, while their attacks in Kabul had political but negligible security impact, Barry said. 

"What we've got now is the Afghan security forces thoroughly in control of doing counter-insurgency and securing Afghanistan," he told AFP at the IISS's London headquarters after the launch of the think tank's main annual report.
02:11  Olympic flame in Sochi after world's longest relay:  
The Olympic flame reached Sochi today, following a 65,000-kilometre route, the longest in the history of the games.

During the journey, the torch relay reached the North Pole, went to the top of Europe's highest mountain, plunged into the world's deepest lake and was even taken into space by Russian cosmonauts. The torchbearers included a 101-year-old man.

The relay generated genuine public enthusiasm, featuring famous cultural figures, athletes and other celebrities, and drawing big crowds across Russia. 

But it also has seen some spectacular gaffes, with the flame flickering out on dozens of occasions and, in some cases, even engulfing the bearers. 
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