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February 25, 2014

23:24  Nitesh Rane outfit co-ordinator arrested for opening fire:  The state co-ordinator of Nitesh Rane's Swabhiman Sanghatana Annu Angrey and another person was arrested by the Thane Crime Branch here today for allegedly opening fire at a person here in 2013, the police said.

The police detained the two today under provisions of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, 1999 and gave their names as Annu Angrey and Siddhu Pawar, the police said.

It was on July 28, 2013, that they came to Ghodbunder locality and opened fire at one Tatya Patil, a notorious criminal, who escaped the attack. The Kasarwadavali police had already arrested seven people in connection with the incident, while Angrey and Pawar were evading arrest.
22:01  Sinha calls Chidambaram '4.8 per cent growth minister':  Days after Narendra Modi's barb of "recounting minister" targeting Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram, another senior BJP leader today hit out at him over handling of the economy and dubbing him "4.8 per cent growth minister".

"Whenever he took over (reins of Finance Ministry), there had been dip in the country's growth rate," former finance minister Yashwant Sinha said without naming Chidambaram, adding his "arrogance had no limits."

Addressing a meeting on the current state of affairs organised in Chennai by the BJP, Sinha, also a former finance minister, said country's growth rate had plummeted from over eight per cent to less than five per cent when the BJP took over in 1999.

The NDA government had to pull back the economy battling many challenges.
21:48  It's too early to advovcate for non-Congress, non-BJP govt: Naveen Patnaik:  Biju Janata Dal supremo and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who was the first to advocate an alternative government minus the Congress and BJP at the Centre, today said it was still too early for such a move.

"I think, the moment is still in early days as I have said earlier," Patnaik told reporters in reply to a question on the BJD's absence at the meeting of Left and secular parties in New Delhi during the day.

The BJD had sent a representative, Kendrapara MP Baijayant Panda, in an earlier meeting in Delhi on October 30 last year. Though today's meeting at New Delhi was attended by the JD-U,Samajwadi Party, AIADMK, JD-S, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha and four Left party leader, the BJD and Prafulla Kumar Mahanta's Asom Gana Parishad were absent.
21:28  Now a mobile app that will allow Delhiites to lodge FIR:  Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde is expected to launch a mobile app on Thursday for people in Delhi to lodge FIRs related to theft and lost articles, reports NDTV.

The minister will also launch the website page, which can be used to file complaints with the Delhi police.

The app has been designed to be available on iPhones, Windows as well as Android phones.

Read the full report here
21:25  Did Ukraine ruin Putin's perfect week?:  At the very moment of his crowning Olympic glory, Russia's president probably had the second worst week of any world leader -- after Viktor Yanukovych, writes James Nixey in the CNN.

Read the full column here
21:15  Rebekah Brooks claims she didn't know hacking was illegal:  Rebekah Brooks, former editor of Rupert Murdoch's now-defunct News of the World, told a court in London today that she did not know that phone hacking was illegal and was horrified to learn that the mobile phone of a schoolgirl was hacked by the tabloid in 2002.

The 45-year-old former News International chief executive told the jury in her ongoing trial over allegations of phone hacking that she was unaware the practice was illegal. Brooks, who was the editor of the tabloid between 2000 and 2003, told the Old Bailey that she "didn't think anybody, me included, knew it was illegal".

"No journalist ever came to me and said we're working on so and so a story but we need to access their voicemail and we need to ask for my sanction to do it. Even though I didn't know it was illegal, I absolutely felt it was in the category of a serious breach of privacy," she said.

Brooks is among seven defendants who deny conspiring to hack phones, to commit misconduct in public office and to cover up evidence to pervert the course of justice.
21:14  China plans to mark its victory over Japan in World War II:  China plans to designate September 3 as Victory Day to commemorate its defeat of Japan in World War II, amid tensions between the two countries over a group of disputed islands in the East China Sea.

A draft decision to this effect will be discussed at the bi-monthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress -- the rubber-stamp parliament -- from Tuesday until Thursday, state-run Xinhua news agency reported today.

The NPC plans to make September 3 Victory Day of the "Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression", said the report.
20:40  Blanted bombs in German Bakery, Chinnaswamy Stadium: Yasin Bhatkal:   Indian Mujahideen co-founder Yasin Bhatkal had planted IEDs at German Bakery in Pune and Bangalore's Chinnaswamy Stadium and provided explosives for 2008 Delhi serial blasts, he confessed before a magistrate.

In his confessional statement recorded under section 164 of the CrPC in October last year, Bhatkal said that the May 2008 serial blasts at Jaipur were carried out to "test" the capacity of improvised explosive device prepared by him. He also said he was inspired by a Hollywood movie in preparing IEDs.

The statement has been filed in a Delhi court by the National Investigation Agency along with its chargesheet against Bhatkal and three others. Bhatkal, who in 2001 had started the business of garments and perfume, also confessed that he had prepared IEDs for the July 26, 2008 Ahmedabad serial blasts in which 21 bombs had exploded killing over 50 people.
19:33  Govt set to bring ordinances on fiver anti-graft bills:  

The United Progressive Alliance government is set to bring ordinances on five bills related to anti-corruption and protection of rights, government sources have told PTI.  


Party spokesman Shashi Tharoor told mediapersons in New Delhi on February 20 that non-passage of the bills will be a "setback to the nation" and so all options will have to be examined to bring them into effect through other routes, including the ordinance route.  

Party vice president Rahul Gandhi has made a strong pitch for the passage of the anti-graft measures. Gandhi had accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of not allowing the bills to be passed by disrupting Parliament repeatedly, a charge denied by the opposition party. The anti-graft legislations have been dubbed by BJP as the Congress vice president's "agenda" in an election year.

19:06   These pencils were withdrawn from US schools after a 10 year old pointed out a problem...

Click here for a bigger picture.
19:03   What banker Meera Sanyal has in common with fellow Mumbai AAP candidate Medha Patkar. Read
19:01  Live! Man vs food: AAP's party: Rs 400 per head; UPA: Rs 1500:   Learning a lesson from the lavish anniversary bash of the United Progressive Alliance, which had a number of exquisite food items, the Aam Aadmi Party decided to invest less on food served during the December 28, 2013 swearing-in ceremony of Arvind Kejriwal held at Delhi's Ramlila Ground, and settled for Rs 405 per head, while the overall expenses stood at Rs 6,33,802. Read more
18:34  Fatwas are political-religious views, can't interfere: SC:   Distancing itself from fatwas (religious decree) issued by Muslim clerics, the Supreme Court today observed that it cannot interfere with them while reserving verdict on a plea challenging Shariat courts and their fatwas.

"These are political religious issues. We can't decide them. In this country some people believe Gangajal can cure all ailments. It is a matter of belief," the top court said. Read more
18:25  Tyrants' palaces:  It was long known that Victor Yanukovych, Ukraine's newly toppled president, had a fairly nice crib. Customs documents revealed a while ago that the wood panelling alone on the palace's staircases cost around $200,000. But what no one could have expected was just how nice a crib it was.  Read
18:11  UP developing, Guj only ahead in publicity: Akhilesh:   Kicking off poll campaign in his wife Dimple Yadav's parliamentary constituency, UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav today targeted Narendra Modi saying while SP government was working for all-round development of the state, Gujarat was only ahead in publicity.

"Gujarat is only ahead in publicity whereas Uttar Pradesh is continuously developing," Akhilesh, who inaugurated 17 projects and laid the foundation stone of 26 others, said while addressing a gathering. He also distributed loan waiver certificates to 7,017 farmers.

Attacking Congress, he alleged that it has encouraged corruption in the past 10 years and has "only made the people cry".
17:51  "The clear distinction between the BJP and others is that we do not treat minorities as instruments of political power. We treat them as equals and address their concerns as that of any other citizen."

Arun Jaitley's blog today. Read  
17:47   Rajdeep Sardesai tweets: Arvind Kejriwal please do not generalise. There are rotten eggs in every basket.

That's in response to Arvind Kejriwal's statement that media was being paid to give poll analyses.
17:41  Kejriwal targets 'paid media' at Haryana rally:  At his rally in Rohtak yesterday, Kejriwal alleged that there was a nexus between media organisations and the Ambanis.

"Mukesh Ambani has bought some TV channels and newspapers. They have been told to give extensive coverage to Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi. Yesterday, the editor-in-chief of a TV channel met me and said that his bosses wanted him to cut down on Aam Aadmi Party coverage. He said he was going to resign.

"There is an English newspaper in Delhi whose owners own gas reserves and they have started writing against us,' he said.Kejriwal also criticised media reports on pre-poll surveys, which had given the party not more than 10 seats in the Delhi Assembly. "They (the media organistions) have taken money and shown wrong results,' he said.
17:38  LIVE! Kejriwal rapped for alleging media-Ambani nexus:   The News Broadcasters Association today objected to "unverified" and "highly defamatory" charges levelled against news channels by AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal and comments by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde threatening to "crush" the electronic media.

The apex body of news broadcasters appealed to political leaders and public figures not to level baseless charges against the media and keep the discourse "civil and sane".

On Kejriwal's comments against a section of the media during a rally in Rohtak on Haryana on Sunday, the apex body of news broadcasters slammed him for making allegations without specific details to substantiate them.

"It is shocking to note that the very parties that gained immensely from media coverage are today turning against the electronic media, when they are under scrutiny on issues of governance," the NBA Secretary General Annie Joseph said in a statement.
17:29  The channel News Express to address a press meet on "Operation Prime Minister". A sting on poll survey agencies, basically on manipulated poll surveys. Wait for it.
17:24  Read: On Malayalam and melancholia
17:19  TMC: Third Front is a Communist day-dream:  TMC spokesperson Derek O'Brien on the birth of the Third Front today.

"The Third Front is not just dead, it was never born. It is a hobby horse of the Communists, who want to use the power of regional parties to manipulate their way to influence without responsibility and to promote obsolete agendas. 3rd Front is a Communist day-dream."
17:13  Pakistani breaks Mahatma's record after 84 years :  In other news: Abdul Qadeer Baloch, aged 72, and 11-year old Ali Haider Baloch are not aware that they have made history. 

This old man and young boy have travelled more than 2,000 kilometers on foot along with a group of Baloch women and men on their way from Quetta to Islamabad. 

The purpose of their non-violent long march was to raise voice against enforced disappearances in Balochistan. They broke the 84-year-old record of Mahatma Gandhi who traveled for 390 kilometers on foot from Ahmadabad to Dandi as part of his famous salt march. Read more
17:08  'What is a reporter's salary? They are not great thinkers':  Questioning the journalists' education, at a public function here Sunday, he said: "What is a reporter's salary... How much does a news reader earn? Maybe 25,000 (rupees). They are mostly graduates. They are not great thinkers...intellectuals. They write news how they understand it."

Who said this? Here's a clue: The person is a chief minister who made this statement criticising the media for biased news coverage and alleged that many journalists were doing opposition-sponsored paid news reporting.
17:05  Now, Bombay HC questions extension of parole to Sanjay Dutt :   The Bombay High Court has questioned the extension of parole given to actor and bomb blast convict Sanjay Dutt. The high court says it wants a panel of secretaries to be set up look into the matter and submit a status report in four weeks. The HC says it should use discretionary powers properly.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had sought a report from the Maharashtra Government on the same. Dutt was convicted by the Supreme Court for illegal possession of arms in relation to the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case and was sentenced to 6 years of imprisonment.

Dutt had served 18 months of his jail term earlier and had surrendered himself to the TADA court on May 18th, 2013 to serve the remaining punishment.

In less than a year, he had been granted parole three times by the Maharashtra Govt. The 54-year-old actor has been out on parole since December 21 and was going to return to the Yerawada Jail in Pune on February 21.
16:32  Karat says that the PM candidate of the alternative front can be decided after Lok Sabha elections. 
16:30  11 parties come together to form Third Front :   CPI-M leader Prakash Karat announces the formation of the Third Front to fight the Lok Sabha polls as an alternative to the BJP and the Congress.

At the press meeting after heads of 11 parties met today at the Tripura House, Karat announced that the Third Front was formed today and has decided to work together as a bloc and fight the Lok Sabha elections together. The bloc will be a non-BJP, non-Congress party.

Karat said that the BJP's policies are no better than the Congress. "We will work for the defeat of the Congress and the UPA. We will ensure that the BJP and its allies will not be able to come to power at the centre. Therefore, India needs an alternative, which is the Third Front. He said that Narednra Modi is a challenge to the secular fabric of the country. 
16:18  LIVE! RIL: AAP allegations false, Mukesh Ambani does not hold illegitimate accounts :  Reliance Industries Limited issues a statement saying neither the company nor Mukesh Ambani hold any illegitimate accounts. RIL said it strongly denied the allegations put forth by the Aam Admi Party.

The First Information Report or FIR filed by the Aam Aadmi Party against Reliance Industries and ministers in the UPA government on allegations that they jointly rigged the prices of gas, has brought into headlines a long-running dispute.
16:14  Lalu's RJD workers throw stones at Speaker's home :   Lalu Prasad's Rashtriya Janata Dal workers today threw stones at the home of the Bihar assembly Speaker in Patna and shouted slogans accusing him of joining hands with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in a conspiracy to split their party.

"The Speaker and Nitish Kumar cheated us. We will not spare anyone who conspired against us," said an angry Lalu, as he marched towards the Bihar assembly with his party MLAs, in what was meant to be a show of strength.-- NDTV
15:59  Pistorius trial can be televised with some restrictions:   South African court rules trial of Oscar Pistorius can be televised with some restrictions. Pistorius shot his girlfriend, the model and reality TV star Reeva Steenkamp, more than a year ago, and his murder trial begins next Monday.

State prosecutors allege the killing was premeditated, but he claims he mistook her for an intruder. -- BBC
15:55  Former RAW chief joins BJP:  Former RAW chief Sanjeev Tripathi today joined the BJP ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, following the footsteps of several retired bureaucrats and diplomats finding a career in politics.

Tripathi, a 1972-batch IPS officer, is the latest to join the saffron party in the recent past after former Home Secretary R K Singh, former Petroleum Secretary R S Pandey and India's former permanent representative at the UN Hardeep Singh Puri.
15:46   No alliance with parties in touch with Cong: BJP:  The BJP, which is holding parleys for a pre-poll alliance with actor-politician Vijayakanth's DMDK, today said it will not align with parties which are in touch with the Congress.
15:40  'Politburo members need costly drinks at night':  "Politburo members are not men of the ground. In the day they move in the corridors of power in Delhi, at night they need costly drinks. These are dalals, agents. They have no links with the soil, with the people and the grassroots."

Read CPM rebel leader Abdur Rezzak Mollah's interview with the Indian Express.
15:37  The Third Front meeting is going at the Tripura Bhawan in Delhi right now. 
15:22  'Yasin Bhatkal's confessions are a pack of lies':  Experts are terming the 300-page chargesheet on Indian Mujahideen operative Yasin Bhatkal a pack of lies with many believing that he misled the investigators on various occasions. Bhatkal's confessions on nuclear weapons, the Al Qaeda link and about him going against Pakistan's espionage agency, Inter Services Intelligence, are very debatable. Read
15:11  Food Security Bill will be replaced with UPDS: AIADMK:   Slamming the recently enacted Food Bill of the UPA as "half-baked," AIADMK said in its manifesto that it would take measures to replace it with a Universal Public Distribution System as followed in Tamil Nadu across the country if it became part of the next government at the Centre.

All rice card holders in Tamil Nadu were getting rice free of cost, and other items in a subsidised price- palmolein Rs 25 per litre, toor dal Rs 30 per kg, urad dal Rs 30 per kg and sugar Rs 13.50 a kilo - AIADMK said its manifesto, which was released today.
15:08  LIVE! Desperate Lalu marches to Bihar Assembly :   RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav marches towards Bihar Assembly parading the nine MLAs supporting him. It's a show of strength for Lalu before the Speaker.

Reacting to reports of 13 MLAs breaking away from the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Lalu today said that Bihar Chief Minster Nitish Kumar had conspired to break his party.

"Nitish Kumar has gone mad after divorcing with Bharatiya Janata Party. He has conspired along with speaker to break the party. In fact, this conspiracy could be compared with America's Watergate scandal," said Yadav.

"I have brought some papers to prove it. The person with whom he had planned the conspiracy was working under me, and now Nitish has made him a speaker," he said.

15:07  Twitters crush on Shinde:  If Sushilkumar Shinde's foot had an address, it would be 'In Sushilkumar Shinde's mouth'. He has mastered the art of almost always saying the wrong thing, and the latest instance is shocking. At a Congress function in Solapur, he talked about crushing certain elements in the electronic media. Read
14:37  Why India banned a film on Lankan killings, but permitted another to which Bangladesh has objected. Read
14:35  11 parties of non-Congress, non-BJP front to meet in Delhi today:  Third front governments in India, as an alternative to a Congress-led or a BJP-led coalition, have often been a short-lived experience. And that too mostly because of the Prime Ministerial ambitions of the constituent parties.

Wiser from its past experiences, the Left parties have now given a call to ask for neetis (policies) and not netas (leaders). Today, 11 non-Congress, non-BJP parties like the AIADMK, Samajwadi party, Janata Dal (United) and the Left parties are meeting in Delhi to draw up a common charter of programs.
14:28  People hit by Goa mining ban blame AAP for their plight:  A group of mining stakeholders today partially blamed AAP for the plight of those affected by closure of iron ore extraction activity in Goa, alleging that falsehood propagated by its leader Prashant Bhushan was costing them dear. The group has also decided to hold a march in the state on February 28 against the mining closure.
14:17  Aam Aadmi Party leader Ashutosh says that media is being pressured to project AAP in a negative light, says Times Now. 
14:02  Jaya releases AIADMK manifesto: Development is the buzz word :   Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa clambers on to the development plank. Releasing the party manifesto, Jaya says the AIADMK's vision is development not just for Tamil Nadu, but for the whole country. 
13:45  4.4 billion-year-old crystal is oldest piece of Earth:  From a sheep ranch in Western Australia comes the oldest slice of Earth we know. Scientists say they have dated an ancient crystal called a zircon to about 4.4 billion years, making it the earliest confirmed piece of the planet's crust. The findings -- the first to describe the zircon -- were published in the journal Nature Geoscience on Sunday. Read
13:43  Jayalalithaa says that she is determined to move the UN to take action and render justice to Tamils in Sri Lanka and hold a referendum amongst Tamils in Lanka for a separate Tamil elam. 
13:33  A candid photograph during the making of the 1983 cult classic Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro. 
13:27  SC rejects Subrata Roy's plea, directs him to appear tomorrow:   The Supreme Court today refused the plea of Sahara Group chief Subrata Roy seeking exemption from personal appearance before it in connection with the failure of his companies to refund Rs 20,000 to investors.

Roy's plea was mentioned before a bench comprising justices KS Radhakrishnan and J S Khehar which said he has to appear tomorrow. Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Roy, submitted that he will make the payment and he may be distanced with personal appearance in the court tomorrow.
13:10  Nitish: Rift in RJD is evident :  Prakash Karat, Mulayam Singh, Nitish Kumar to attend the meet hosted by LJP's Ram Vilas Paswan. The Bihar CM says that if people are leaving RJD to join JDU, the party was more than happy to have them. "The rift in the RJD is evident," said Nitish.

13:07  Harry Potter star: Managing my hair is a nightmare:  Daniel Radcliffe's hair was the talk of The WhatsOnStage Awards as the former Harry Potter star turned up to collect his best actor prize sporting shoulder-length extensions.  Read
13:01  From Rediff Blogs, to book. How Village Voices found its own voice:   Saturday evening at the Mumbai Press Club saw a private gathering of longtime friends and colleagues, gathered to celebrate the release of a book.

So what is unusual about a book release, you ask?

Oh but this book, Village Voices, is different because it debuted years ago as a blog on by A Ganesh Nadar, a name many readers will be familiar with, before catching the eyes of Vitasta Publishing who decided to recast it as a book.

The evening thus saw a confluence of Ganesh's friends from all walks of life - his schoolmates from Barnes School in Deolali, his former colleagues from Sunday Observer, and present colleagues from, plus friends like industrialist Mudit Jain who have known Ganesh over the years thanks to his writings.

The book begins with the story of how a Mumbai-born youth, who went to school and (the tony Elphinstone) college in the city (with a life-altering stint at Barnes School in between), goes back to his village, Panickanadarkudieruppu, in Tamil Nadu and his experiences of rustic living.

Among the many chapters, the book covers the state's well known bull fight, called Jallikattu, as seen by an insider; the secluded lives that Dalits lead; polling day in the village; the house of People's President APJ Abdul Kalam; 22-hour power cuts (that Tamil Nadu is famous for); the Koodankulam protests against the nuclear plant; post-Tsunami life; and many other interesting vignettes of the countryside, as seen by someone who is at once an insider as well as an outsider.

A rare perspective, if we may say so. And at just Rs 250, it is a steal too.

Pic: A Ganesh Nadar signing copies of his book Villages Voices at the Mumbai Press Club on Saturday. Photograph by Rajesh Karkera.
12:33  Vindoo: IPL fixed, Vijay Mallya also into betting:  Vindu Dara Singh, one of those allegedly involved in the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal, has made some startling claims in a sting operation on the subject aired by Zee News, an Indian television channel.

Singh claims that the real battle regarding the IPL lies in the fight between the current chief of the BCCI, N Srinivasan, and former IPL commissioner, Lalit Modi.

"This entire case is actually a tussle between Modi and Srinivasan. We have nothing to do with it,' Vindu says.

"Lalit Modi just needed a chance to get Srinivasan out.' A senior leader from Ramvilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party on Sunday said that his party has decided to go with BJP in the next Lok Sabha polls. Read more
12:24  Pak air strikes kill 30 terrorists in northwest Pakistan:  At least 30 terrorists were killed today when Pakistani fighter jets carried out air strikes on militant hideouts in Shawal valley, a mountainous area in North Waziristan sharing boundary with South Waziristan, and other areas of the restive northwest tribal region. The security sources said a number of terrorists' hideouts have been completely destroyed.
12:22  LJP leaders meet at Ram Vilas Paswan's residence in Delhi at 2 pm. 
12:15  Uganda president: Homosexuals are 'disgusting':  President Yoweri Museveni, who made anti-homosexuality laws in Uganda much tougher Monday, told CNN in an exclusive interview that sexual behavior is a matter of choice and gay people are "disgusting."  Read
12:12  Medical colleges flunk PG test:  India's medical education regulators have rejected applications from 170 medical colleges and teaching hospitals, including some in Bengal, to start or increase postgraduate seats.The Medical Council of India (MCI) has cited faculty problems, poor infrastructure and -- in a few cases -- inflated patient numbers. Read
12:10   Striking tourist taxis continue to be off roads in Goa:  If you're heading to Goa, heads up: Tourist taxis across Goa remained off roads for the second day today as part of the ongoing strike opposing entry of a private cab player in the market.

While agitating taxi operators are expected to meet Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar tomorrow at his official residence, the protestors continued to boycott work claiming that they were beaten up by police in an unprovoked attack on them.

The protestors are agitating against the permission granted to Ola Cab, a private company operating a pan-India cab service.
12:00  Suspended top cop in Chhattisgarh shoots wife, children before killing himself:  A senior police officer who was suspended yesterday after a fight with a judge allegedly shot his wife and two children late last night before turning the gun on himself in Jagdalpur, Chhattisgarh.

Superintendent of Police Devnarayan Patel, 40, and his wife,35, are dead. Their daughter, 11, and son, 8, are critically injured and in a hospital in Raipur, 300 km away. Read more
11:50  Easy to ally, difficult to merge:  Once the Central government approved the creation of Telangana, an alliance between the Congress and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti seemed a foregone conclusion. Indeed, TRS president K. Chandrasekhar Rao had repeatedly talked of merging his party with the Congress if the Centre acceded to the demand for Telangana. But TRS may be easy to ally, difficult to merge.
Read the opinion piece on the Hindu.
11:44  Shiney Ahuja to make acting comeback with a Bhatt film?:  For those wondering where actor Shiney Ahuja has disappeared, here comes an update.

The actor, who was convicted of raping his domestic help and later released on bail in 2011, has approached Mahesh Bhatt to salvage his career.

A source close to the Bhatts confirms, "Shiney visited Mahesh Bhatt recently." 
11:38  Scribblers, scholars in the same boat:  In justifying its decision to withdraw Wendy Doniger's book, The Hindus: An Alternative History, Penguin apportioned blame to the Indian Penal Code, in particular Section 295A, which it claimed makes "it increasingly difficult for any Indian publisher to uphold international standards of free expression without deliberately placing itself outside the law."  Read more
11:23  Antony sits on four deals, clears one:   Defence minister A.K. Antony has cleared Rs 10,000 crore worth of pending military purchases at the fag end of the UPA II government, but deferred four big-ticket projects. A big proposal for the army that has been cleared is the acquisition of 44,000 light machine guns (LMGs). The defence acquisitions council (DAC) specified that these guns would be made in India. The technology is likely to be imported. Read more
11:10  What the SC said in its judgment on the Aruna Shanbaug case :  "Her wrists are twisted inward, teeth decayed and she can only be given mashed food on which she survives, Virani had said, adding that Aruna is in a persistent vegetative state, her brain is virtually dead and she is oblivious to the outside world.

"She can neither see nor hear anything nor can she express herself or communicate in any manner, whatsoever, she had said in her plea for mercy killing.

"The bench had reserved its verdict on the plea for subjecting Aruna to mercy killing after hearing detailed arguments by various parties on the question of allowing euthanasia."

Read more
11:01  This is the full text of the Supreme Court's judgment on the Aruna Shanbaug euthanasia case. Read
10:59  LIVE! Aruna Shanbaug case: SC raises questions on right to die :  The Supreme Court refers the issue of legalising euthanasia to its Constitution bench. The SC raises questions on the Aruna Shanbaug case which allows passive euthanasia.

In 2011, the Supreme Court allowed passive euthanasia under exceptional circumstances.

Passive euthanasia is usually defined as withdrawing medical treatment with the deliberate intention of causing the patients death. For example, if a patient requires kidney dialysis to survive, the doctors disconnect the dialysis machine, allowing the patient to die soon.

This form of euthanasia is different from active euthanasia, or simply euthanasia, where the death is caused by the use of lethal substances.

It is widely considered to be criminal homicide, but voluntary passive euthanasia is considered non-criminal in several countries.

10:49  Baijayant Jay Panda tweets: Oh, phew! So that's ok, then 😉.  Shinde clarifies on 'crushing media' comment, says he was talking about social media
10:47  Kejriwal promises SITs for 23,500 riots in the country:  Promising to field "adequate" women and minority candidates for the Lok Sabha elections, Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal, on Monday, declared that special investigation teams will be set up to investigate 23,500 cases of rioting across the country if his party comes to power at the Centre.
Read more
10:44  AAP's Somnath Bharti's name crops up in another controversy:   Former Delhi Law minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Somnath Bharti was linked to a fresh controversy in the national capital on Monday after some people, alleged to be AAP workers, thrashed a civic official near the Deputy Commissioner (DC) office of South zone in Green Park.
Read more
10:38  Nitish, assembly speaker behind RJD MLAs' revolt: Lalu:  
A day after some of his MLAs announced they were resigning from the party, RJD chief Lalu Prasad has hit out at rival Nitish Kumar, who he claims is poaching his MLAs.

"Nitish Kumar ek number ka ghatiya insaan hai. He along with the Speaker are misrepresenting the facts to break the RJD. Dorey daal raha hai (influencing MLAs). Ye vibhaag de raha hai, woh vibhaag de raha hai (allotting departments to MLAs). Hum batayenge.. aaj toh sara din mera kaaj karam rahega (I will tell all soon)," Lalu told media persons.

The JDU, however, has denied Lalu's charges. "JD(U) is not trying to split RJD. Many members move from RJD to JD(U) and vice versa. Our membership is somewhat transferable," KC Tyagi said.

On Monday, 13 of the RJD's 22 MLAs announced they were quitting. However, hours later, six of them returned to the party fold claiming that their signatures had been forged to claim their support.
10:14  Split rumour forces RJD to take MLA headcount today:  
The Rashtriya Janata Dal will on Tuesday hold an emergency meet amidst rumours that the party is headed for a split after 13 legislators said they were no longer with the RJD. 

However, party leaders later in the day denied any rift and six of the "rebels" said they were still with the Lalu Prasad-led party. 

The RJD will hold the meeting of its legislature party at the official residence of former chief minister Rabri Devi. 

"The RJD has not split as claimed," party leader in the Assembly Abdul Bari Siddiqui had told media persons here.
Earlier, RJD member Javed Ansari had told a news agency that he along with 12 other legislators signed a letter and submitted it to Speaker Uday Narain Choudhary, requesting him to allot them separate seats in the Assembly. 

Choudhary accepted the letter and identified them as a separate group in the house, he said. The RJD has 22 members in the 243-member house. 
10:08  Sensex gains 97 points in early trade:  
The benchmark BSE Sensex rose nearly 97 points in early trade today on sustained buying by funds and retail investors amid a firming trend in Asian markets.

Continuing its rising streak for the third straight session, the 30-share index rose by 96.90 points, or 0.47 per cent, to 20,908.34. The index had gained nearly 275 points in the previous two sessions.

All the sectoral indices led by banking and consumer durables were trading in positive zone with gains up to 0.63 per cent.

The wide-based Nifty of the National Stock Exchange regained 6,200 level by rising 24.60 points, or 0.40 per cent, to 6,210.70. 

Brokers said continued buying by funds and retail investors, tracking a firming trend on the other Asian bourses following overnight gains on Wall Street, influenced the trading sentiment here.

Besides, covering-up of short positions by speculatives in view of tomorrow's monthly expiry in the derivatives segment also supported the upside in select stocks, they said. 
09:50  I meant social media will be 'crushed' not electronic: Shinde:  
In a bid to water down the controversy over his statement on Sunday, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Tuesday said he did not mean "journalism" but "social media". 

On Sunday, Shinde was heard threatening to "crush" the electronic media, alleging a section of it was unnecessarily provoking the Congress party by indulging in "false propaganda" against it. 

This morning, however, Shinde alleged, "I spoke about social media spreading hatred, not journalism."
The outburst by Shinde, a Congress leader who hails from Maharashtra's Sholapur district, came at a Youth Congress event here on Sunday evening. 

Shinde, who is a Lok Sabha MP from Sholapur, alleged that since the last four months a section of the electronic media is "manipulating" news about him and his party and warned it would be "crushed" if this kind of reportage is not stopped immediately. 

"What is happening in the electronic media largely I am aware of it. In the last four months, there have been efforts by the media to provoke us (Congress). We will crush such elements in the electronic media, which are indulging in false propaganda, if it did not stop" he said. 
09:49  Jairam, Montek to discuss special status for Seemandhra today:  
The Hindu reports: Jairam Ramesh, a key member of the Group of Ministers that drafted the Telangana Bill, will meet Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia on Tuesday to make a case for Special Category State status for Seemandhra on grounds of loss of revenue.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will then write to the National Development Council to inform it of this decision.

If it so happens that the NDC comes back to the Centre saying it would like to deliberate on the issue of grant of Special Category State status to Seemandhra, we will take a call on whether to call a meeting or leave it for the next government at the Centre after the Lok Sabha election to take the decision forward, Ramesh told The Hindu.

Read more HERE

09:39  Rahul to address rally in Assam amid tight security:  
Security has been tightened ahead of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi's scheduled visit to the state on Tuesday. 

Gandhi is scheduled to come to Assam for a two-day tour from February 25. He will have a meeting with senior journalists, followed by a public rally on the first day.
On Wednesday, the Congress leader would hold a road show and go to Diphu in Karbi Anglong to discuss various issues of the tribal district. 

At least 10 people were injured when militants triggered two blasts in Assam's Kamrup district on Monday evening, a day ahead of Gandhi's visit.

The blasts took place at the crowded Gasbari daily market near Baihata Chariali. 
09:25  Modi made big bucks in South Africa: Vindu:  
Zee News reports: Bollywood actor Vindu Dara Singh, who was also named in the Indian Premier League match-fixing scandal of 2013, has made startling revelations in the case and alleged that some high and mighty from the arena of Indian sports and politics were involved in instances of betting and match fixing.

Vindu has claimed that the real tug of war was between former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi and Srinivasan -- and Pawar was backing Modi. Naming several others, Vindu claims that he was just a small fry in the melee.

Click HERE to read
09:11  12 non-Congress, non-BJP parties to meet in Delhi today:  
Twelve Left and secular parties would meet in New Delhi on Tuesday to firm up the formation of a non-Congress, anti-BJP alternative and announce its policy direction, aiming at giving shape to a new combination for the general elections.

Asserting that the electoral battle would be fought in a three-cornered contest among Congress-led UPA, BJP-led NDA and the non-Congress, non-BJP combination, Left sources said these 12 parties would pool their strength from their respective states for an all-India combination. 

Apart from the four Left parties, the others in this combination are JD(U), BJD, AIADMK, JD(S), Samajwadi Party, Asom Gana Parishad, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) and Manpreet Singh Badal's People's Party of Punjab.

Among those likely to attend are chief ministers Nitish Kumar and Naveen Patnaik, former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav, veteran CPI leader A B Bardhan, CPI(M) leaders Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury, CPI's Sudhakar Reddy, JVM(P) chief Babulal Marandi, AGP's Prafulla Mahanta and Manpreet Badal. 

Some more parties could join the combination soon, the sources said, adding that these parties had formed a block to jointly raise specific issues in Parliament during the last session. 

At today's meeting, the parties are likely to come out with a broad outline of political positions and policies against Congress and BJP and decide on how to strengthen efforts of the constituent political parties in the elections in their respective states.
09:11  SC verdict on passive euthanasia likely today:  
The Supreme Court is likely to deliver its verdict on the issue of passive euthanasia on Tuesday.

The question before the apex court is whether a person afflicted with a terminal disease be allowed to refuse essential artificial medical support systems as he does not want to prolong his agony? 

A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam is hearing the PIL on allowing a person not to continue with artificial medical support. The Centre is vociferously opposing it and terming it as "suicide" which could not be allowed in the country. 

The PIL filed by NGO "Common Cause" contended that when a medical expert opines that the person afflicted with terminal disease has reached a point of no return, then he should be given the right to refuse being put on life support system as otherwise it would only prolong his agony. 

The petition was filed in 2008 when the apex court had issued notices to the Union Ministry of Health and Law and sought their response on the issue. 

09:11  Pentagon likely to downsize US Army to pre-WW II level:  
The Pentagon will reportedly unveil plans to shrink the nation's Army to its smallest size since after the World War (II), in a cost-cutting drive, a BBC report said on Monday. 

An entire class of Air Force attack jets is tipped to be axed under plans, as Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel outlines his 2015 budget. 

He is expected to propose trimming the active-duty Army to between 440,000 and 450,000 personnel, as per BBC. 

The US military is under pressure to downsize after two costly foreign wars. 

The number of active-duty US Army members is already expected to be pared down to 490,000, as the US prepares to end its combat role in Afghanistan later this year. 

If approved by Congress, the move would reduce the army to its lowest levels since 1940, before the American military dramatically expanded after entering World War II. 
03:49  Ukraine calls for urgent Western aid after Yanukovich ousted:  Ukraine appealed for urgent international aid on Monday after the fall of Russian-backed president Viktor Yanukovich cast doubt on a bailout deal with Moscow, saying it needed $35 billion over the next two years.

With acting President Oleksander Turchinov warning that Ukraine was close to default and "heading into the abyss", the United States and European Union said they were looking at how to help Kiev.
03:47  Iraq signs deal to buy arms, ammunition from Iran:  Iran has signed a deal to sell Iraq arms and ammunition worth $195 million, according to documents seen by Reuters - a move that would break a U.N. embargo on weapons sales by Tehran.

The agreement was reached at the end of November, the documents showed, just weeks after Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki returned from lobbying the Obama administration in Washington for extra weapons to fight al Qaeda-linked militants.

Read more
03:46  Pope begins reshaping Vaticans financial management:  Pope Francis on Monday announced a major restructuring of the Vatican's outdated administrative and economic bureaucracy as he established an agency to oversee budgets and financial planning and also created a powerful post of auditor general to guard against fiscal mismanagement.

The changes are the latest example of how Francis is moving to confront management problems in the Vatican as part of his broader mandate to overhaul the Roman Curia, the administration that runs the Holy See. He has begun shuffling personnel while also speaking out against careerism in the Roman Catholic Church, especially inside the Vatican.
03:24  Venezuela death toll rises to 13 as protests flare:  Anti-government demonstrators put up barricades and set fire to trash in Caracas on Monday despite calls from within the opposition to rein in protests that have led to 13 deaths in Venezuela's worst unrest for a decade.

Traffic in the capital slowed to a crawl and many people stayed home as protesters burned trash and piled debris along main avenues a day after opposition leader Henrique Capriles called on them to keep demonstrations peaceful.
02:15  US sidesteps German report on mass spying sweeps:  The United States today declined to comment on claims that its spies are conducting sweeping surveillance of hundreds of prominent Germans, though it did not deny the reports. 

The claims by a newspaper, following a transatlantic row over revelations that Washington's National Security Agency intercepted Chancellor Angela Merkel's communications, marked another test for wobbling US-German relations.
02:15  Merkel in Israel to discuss Iran, peace talks:  German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Israel today to discuss nuclear talks with Iran and to encourage Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reach a two-state solution with the Palestinians. 

"We are going to discuss the Iranian nuclear programme and ways of progressing talks with the Palestinians," Netanyahu said as he met Merkel at his Jerusalem residence, according to Israeli public radio.
01:45  11 parties of non-Congress, non-BJP front to meet in Delhi today:  Third front governments in India, as an alternative to a Congress-led or a BJP-led coalition, have often been a short-lived experience. And that too mostly because of the prime ministerial ambitions of the constituent parties. 

Wiser from its past experiences, the Left parties have now given a call to ask for neetis (policies) and not netas (leaders). Today, 11 non-Congress, non-BJP parties like the AIADMK, Samajwadi party, Janata Dal (United) and the Left parties are meeting in Delhi to draw up a common charter of programs.
01:21  Uganda anti-gay law called 'abhorrent,' 'deeply offensive':  Human rights groups and Western leaders condemned harsh anti-gay legislation signed into law Monday by Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, calling it draconian, offensive and an affront to basic rights.

But Ugandan officials and parliamentarians, including David Bahati, who introduced the law in parliament, celebrated the move.

Read more
00:48  Hagel's military budget focuses on changing threats:   Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel is proposing a new budget plan designed to turn the military's attention from the long ground war in Afghanistan toward emerging cyberthreats from China and increasing challenges from al Qaeda-affiliated groups in Africa.

The Pentagon road map, sure to face fierce resistance from across the political spectrum, calls for reducing the military's reliance on manpower-heavy troop buildups, investing instead in more agile special forces and cyberwarriors.
00:31  Egypt presidential hopeful fears return to autocracy:  Presidential hopeful Hamdeen Sabbahi said he fears a return to autocratic rule in Egypt, telling AFP that the army chief, a likely election front runner, has failed to dispel these concerns.

Sabbahi, 59, who came third in the 2012 presidential election that Islamist Mohamed Morsi won, is seen by his supporters as a serious challenger, but Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is widely tipped to win the poll if he stands.
00:20  Shinde threatens to "crush" electronic media indulging in anti-Cong propaganda:  Stoking a controversy, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde threatened to "crush" the electronic media, alleging a section of it was unnecessarily provoking the Congress party by indulging in "false propaganda" against it.      

The outburst by Shinde, a Congress leader who hails from Maharashtra's Sholapur district, came at a Youth Congress event.
00:12  Top headlines of the last 24 hours:  Political realignment process gets underway before LS polls 
Finding out what is happening: Lalu on split in RJD
7 militants in killed in encounter in Kashmir
Khurshid blames R K Singh for botch up of marines' case
IM sought help from Nepal Maoists for arms, set up cell in Rajasthan: NIA
Two more Guj Cong MLAs quit to join BJP, five in one month
Modi rally blast in Patna: Two held by NIA in UP 

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