22:53 Fog claims 5 lives in UP; rains in some places:
Dense fog claimed five lives in accidents in different parts of the state, even as light to moderate rains occurred at some places.
Two motorcycle-borne youths were killed after they were knocked down by an unidentified vehicle due to fog early this morning in Atraulia police station area of Azamgarh, police said.
22:06 No move to enable NRIs vote from outside country:
Union Minister Vayalar Ravi today ruled out any move to make provisions for Indians living abroad to vote in elections from outside the country. "As it is today even I can not vote by postal ballot.
That is not the system today. If I am in Delhi, I can't vote in Kerala elections from here. I will to go to the booth where my name is registered to vote. I am afraid it is not possible," the Overseas Indian Affairs Minister told a gathering of NRIs at Pravasi Bhartiya Divas.
He also added that it is for Election Commission to decide as it is the constitutional authority for election-related affairs.
21:38 Prince Charles, Camilla in mid-air helicopter scare:
Britain's Prince Charles and his wife Camilla had a close shave when his helicopter made an emergency landing after it "began to yaw" or lurch to one side.
The heir to the British throne was travelling with Camillaand four others to the Hay-on-Wye Literary Festival in Walesin May last year when his Sikorsky S-76C helicopter had toland at Denham aerodrome west of London, a report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch said today.
The AAIB said the fault was traced to the splitting of ametal ball within a system that helps control the helicopter's steering.
20:45 No plan for rehabilitation of Indian expatriates on return: Ravi:
The Centre does not have any plan to rehabilitate expatriates returning to India, Minister for Overseas Indians Vayalar Ravi today said.
He was replying to a specific question from a participant in Pravasi Bharatiya Divas here who sought to know whether the union government had programmes for rehabilitating the returnees affected by 'nitaquat
' policy in Saudi Arabia.
"The government of India does not have any plan to rehabilitate the persons.... There is no programme for the rehabilitation for anybody coming from any part of the world to India," Ravi told the gathering.
20:30 EC-Google tie-up would not have been in national interest: BJP:
BJP today welcomed the Election Commission's decision to abort its proposed tie-up with internet giant Google, saying it was not in nation's interest to go ahead with the proposal due to security concerns.
In a memorandum submitted to Chief Election Commission V S Sampath in the presence of Election Commissioner H S Brahma, BJP leader Tarun Vijay handed over documents pertaining to a complaint by the Survey of India against Google which is being probed by the CBI.
The BJP Rajya Sabha MP said the Survey of India has raised strong objections on mapping activities of Google in the country where the US-based internet company has obtained restricted data which attracts penal action as it is a serious violation of Indian laws
20:19 Some AAP leaders may not contest LS poll:
As Aam Aadmi Party's popularity surges ahead of Lok Sabha elections, some senior party leaders tipped to contest elections have decided to concentrate on the party's strategies rather than plunging into electoral battle.
Party leaders Yogendra Yadav and Anjali Damania said they would prefer to work for the party rather than contest elections.
The party's Maharashtra unit convener Anjali Damania, who was tipped to contest elections against former BJP president Nitin Gadkari from Nagpur, has declined to enter the fray on the ground that she wants to concentrate on party activities.
"There was an opinion in the party that Arvind (Kejriwal) contested against Sheila (Dixit), Kumar Vishwas will contest against Rahul (Gandhi), so even I should contest against (Nitin) Gadkari.
20:01 Live! Suchitra Sen's health very critical:
According to sources, veteran Bengali actress Suchitra Sen's health has turned critical. Sen is suffering from a respiratory tract infection and is admitted in Kolkata's Bellview Hospital for the part few weeks.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamkata Banerjee, who visited the ailing actress three days ago, is expected to pay her a visit again tonight. Doctors have confirmed that the medical condition of the 82-year-old actress has been fluctuating.
18:43 EC aborts tie-up with Google:
The Election Commission has decided not to pursue its proposed tie-up with internet giant Google after concerns over national security were raised from several quarters, including major parties. US-based Google had earlier this week made a formal presentation to the Election Commission proposing a tie-up with it for voter facilitation services ahead of Lok Sabha elections.
18:38 PM should resign after govt's admission in SC on coalgate:BJP:
Stepping up pressure, the BJP today demanded the Prime Minister's resignation after the Centre admitted before the Supreme Court that something went wrong with coal blocks allocations. "The Attorney General has accepted that something major was wrong in the coal block allocations. He has confided in the Supreme Court that there were serious irregularities in the allotments.
"The onus is now on the Prime Minister as he held the coal portfolio from 2006 to 2009 when the allocations were made. We reiterate that he should own up his responsibility and resign," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.
18:27 Just in: Election Commission decides against tie-up with Google for poll information services.
18:24 Live! AAP is hiring: 4000 calls in 7 hours for Kejri's anti-graft cell, staff needed :
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government's helpline in Delhi for complaints against corrupt officers received over 4,000 calls in its first seven hours.
The deluge led to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal asking for staff manning the helpline to be tripled by tomorrow. Citizens have been asked to dial the helpline number, (011) 27357169 between 8 am and 10 pm, for any corruption complaint.
The calls are sifted and only the genuine complaints are transferred to a team of 15 experts, who advise callers on conducting a sting operation.
18:18 The Akhilesh Yadav government gives a Rs 1 crore tax subsidy to Bollywood films shot in UP.
18:13 Salman donates Rs 25 lakh to medical college after Saifai shindig:
The non-charitable foundation 'Being Human', being run by Bollywood superstar Salman Khan, on Thursday donated Rs 25 lakh to Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College on behalf of the stars who performed in Uttar Pradesh's annual fair 'Saifai Mahotsav'.
Notably, Bollywood superstar Salman Khan and other stars are facing ire over participating in the Mahotsav while people were dying from severe cold in Muzaffarnagar relief camps.
Two dozen other small and big actors performed as well at the event which has become a major attraction for the people of the region and a bone of contention among political parties.
Meanwhile, actress Madhuri Dixit took to Twitter to defend the decision to perform at the Mahotsav and wrote, "As artists and celebrities, we believe in using our reach to help others through drawing attention to the needs of the day.(sic)" -- Zee News
Just in: The Tehrik-e-Taliban (Pakistan) has claimed responsibility for the attack on Karachi police chief Chaudhry Aslam.
17:50 RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat: BJP should AAP very seriously:
In what will come as a mandate to the BJP, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat says the party must take the AAP challenge very seriously. He said the BJP should make its politics more inclusive and participatory.
Yesterday, Senior Supreme Court lawyer and Aam Aadmi Party leader Prashant Bhushan hit out at the RSS and the BJP following the attack on AAP office in Kaushambhi.
Bhushan said the rise of AAP has created panic in the BJP and the Sangh Parivar.
17:45 S K Srivastava assumes charge as Delhi Chief Secretary:
Senior IAS officer Sanjoy Kumar Srivastava today assumed charge as Chief Secretary of Delhi Government. 56-year-old Srivastava succeeded Deepak Mohan Spolia who had been made Chief Secretary in December 2012. Srivastava, a 1980-batch IAS officer of Union Territory cadre, was working as Special Secretary and Financial Adviser in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Earlier this month, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had sent a letter to the Union Home Ministry requesting it to appoint Srivastava as new Chief Secretary.
In 1911, one man - without a plan, an escape route, or a buyer - managed to steal the Mona Lisa from the Louvre. Here's how he did it. Read
17:11 Live! Cong rubbishes opinion poll putting Rahul at #3 place for PM:
The Congress today dismissed an opinion poll predicting Rahul Gandhi as the third choice for prime ministerial prospect, terming it inaccurate.
"Survey reports always favour those who appoint them. Surveys predicted 19 seats for Congress in Chhattisgarh, but we got 39. Similarly results in Madhya Pradesh and the Rajasthan assembly polls were unexpected contrary to surveys," AICC General Secretary B K Hariprasad said.
He was responding to a query on a newspaper publishing an opinion poll carried out in eight cities. "Why should we share with you," he said when asked what was the findings in the internal assessment of the Congress regarding the 2014 General Elections.
17:08 Chargesheet accuses Asaram of rape, illegal confinement :
Self-styled godman Asaram Bapu was today booked for allegedly raping one of two Surat-based sisters who stayed at his ashram in Gujarat between 1997 and 2006.
In a charge-sheet filed against him in a Gandhinagar court, the spiritual guru has also been accused of illegal confinement and criminal conspiracy.
Five others, including his wife and daughter, have also been booked by the police.
This is the second case of sexual assault against Asaram Bapu, who is lodged in a jail in Rajasthan since August last year.
He was arrested on charges of sexually assaulting a teenage girl at his ashram in Jodhpur. Later, two Surat-based sisters who stayed at his ashram in Gujarat accused him and his son, Narayan Sai, of rape. -- NDTV
17:05 Another one joining AAP? Arun Govil, who had played Ram in Ramayana decades ago, says Arvind Kejriwal has shaken traditional politics, and this change was needed. "We are all with him."
16:39 Mom, brother wanted presser explaining Priyanka Gandhi's presence :
Our sources in Delhi tell us there was a huge buzz when Priyanka Gandhi made a guest appearance at an AICC sub-committee meeting. After the meeting, an insider sent a text messge to a journalist about Priyanka's presence which spread like wildfire.
So, when the meeting was in progress, Congress spokesperson Janardhan Dwivedi got numerous phone calls from a mother-brother duo that Dwivedi should hold a press meet to clarify Priyanka's presence.
Meanwhile, the Congress old guard, AK Antony, Ambika Soni, Motilal Vora and Ghulam Nabi Azad are believed to be thrilled at having received phone calls from the Office of the Vice President of Congress party.
The fear that the old guards will be sacked is what makes the phone calls from Rahul Gandhi so important.
16:15 SC asks Sahara to reveal source of income paid to investors:
The Supreme Court today directed the Sahara Group to reveal the source of Rs 22,000 crore which it claimed to have paid its investors.
The apex court said that its order barring Sahara Chief Subrata Roy from leaving the country will continue.
"We will direct probe by CBI and registrar of companies, if the group fails to provide information,'' it said.
"You never came out with the truth during the last two years. Don't think that court is helpless,'' the apex court told the Sahara group.
16:01 J&K Legislative Council issues summons to V.K. Singh:
The privilege committee of the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council on Thursday issued summons through Director General of Haryana Police to the former Army Chief Gen (retired) VK Singh seeking his presence for his clarification to a television interview, on January 22.
The Hindu reports that ruling National Conference MLC and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's confidante Devinder Singh Rana, who has moved the motion along with two other NC members and is a member of the upper House privilege panel, said that the meeting took serious note of Gen Singh's absence. Singh had been summoned and directed to appear with his clarifications on January 9.
15:53 Live! Yeddyurappa: Leaving BJP was a mistake :
BS Yeddyurappa today made a grand comeback to the BJP, the party he quit a year ago alleging betrayal, with a vow to 'forget the past' and score an impressive victory in Karnataka in the national election, due by May. Read more
How people in seven Muslim countries believe women should dress
15:36 Past imperfect:
There are chapatis and there were these chapatis: The secret that preceded the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Read
15:32 Suchitra Sen continues to remain critical:
Veteran Bengali actress Suchitra Sen continues to be critical, says our correspondent in Kolkata. Sen was admitted to a private
hospital in Kolkata on December 29 following a respiratory tract infection. The 82-year-old actress, who lives a secluded life and stays locked
up inside her apartment, was admitted to Belle Vue Clinic earlier in December after she complained of breathlessness.
15:16 AICC resolution will attack BJP, Modi, remains silent on AAP:
The draft political resolution for the upcoming AICC session is ready. There are three sets of suggestions from ministers who are familiar with the political approaches of Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. Similarity in all the three draft resolutions is to attack the BJP and its failure to form the government in Delhi, despite getting 32 seats.
The AICC resolution is however, silent on AAP and its formation of the government in Delhi. Two eminent lawyers, four senior editors, two retired bureaucrats have
offered their services to draft the AICC resolution in English. The
eight apparently competed to show off their mastery over English, but
insiders say that this task was till recently carried out by Pranab
Mukherjee with ease.
15:14 Tragedy averted as Metro starts moving with open doors in Kolkata:
Barely a day after an air-conditioned rake developed a snag throwing services out of gear for nearly 45 minutes, a Dum Dum-bound train started from Shyambazar station with two of its doors open. This happened around noon on Wednesday. The rake was a conventional one and when the motorman detected the fault before it entered the tunnel fully, he reversed the train and brought it to the position from which it started.
15:11 Live! Karunanidhi suspends 5 Alagiri supporters, rift widens:
DMK chief M Karunanidhi has suspended five Madurai supporters of hi son MK Alagiri today. Karunanidhi on Tuesday had said he would not hesitate to sack his Madurai-based son from the party and had strongly condemned Alagiri's remarks that he was against the DMK aligning with the DMDK. Karuna had also warned that those who violated party discipline would be expelled from it.
Things came to a head when Alagiri gave an interview to a Tamil news channel stating that he would not accept, under any circumstance, his younger brother and party's treasurer MK Stalin as the next president of the DMK.
Alagiri also ridiculed the credentials of actor-turned-politician and DMDK president Vijayakanth for his political behaviour.
15:02 Cong outsources drafting of AICC resolution:
Two eminent lawyers, four senior editors, two retired bureaucrats have offered their services to draft the AICC resolution in English. The eight apparently competed to show off their mastery over English, but insiders say that this task was till recently carried out by Pranab Mukherjee with ease.
14:54 It is believed that Narendra Modi called Nitin Gadkari recently and spoke to him for 10 minutes about claims that if the BJP comes to power income tax would be abolished. This was part of the BJP's Vision document 2025 prepared by a Gadkari headed committee.
14:43 'How can one deny that BJP rejoices when there are riots?':
Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed today stuck to his guns justifying his controversial comments that whenever there are riots in this country, ISI in Pakistan and BJP rejoice.
"Even after the felicitation of arrested MLAs on (Narendra) Modi's dais for fanning Muzaffarnagar riots, how can one deny that BJP rejoices on riots?," Ahmed tweeted a day after his remarks virtually equating BJP and ISI evoked an angry reaction from the opposition party.
Seeking to counter Ahmed's remarks by raking up the killing of Sikhs in 1984 during Congress rule and Pandits in Kashmir, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman had yesterday tweeted, "During 1984 anti-Sikh riots and massacre, the BJP protested & the Congress 'rejoiced' (?)!
Any reconsideration now? In the Valley's ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits the ISI 'rejoiced', the BJP protested and the Congress was helpless."
The controversy had begun yesterday after Ahmed read out his old 'ISI-Bhajpai' tweet during a press conference at AICC.
He said that riots lead to polarisation in society, a situation in which BJP benefits in terms of votes while Pakistan's ISI gets more funding from "40-42" Islamic countries in the name of protecting Muslims in India.
He had also rejected the comparison between Gujarat riots and anti-Sikh riots of 1984, saying even before Indira Gandhi's body was cremated, Rajiv Gandhi was out in the streets of Delhi to try and control the riots.
14:36 US Energy Secretary cancels India trip:
US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has cancelled his crucial trip to India this month in view of the strained relations between the two countries over the arrest of an Indian diplomat on alleged visa fraud charges.
The India-US Energy Dialogue to be led by Moniz was expected to make significant progress in energy co-operation and export of American shale gas to India. It would be rescheduled for a mutually convenient date later, State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said.
14:28 Divijaya compares RSS with Ravana:
In comments that could stoke a fresh controversy, Congress leader Digvijay Singh has likened RSS to mythological demon king Ravana while slamming BJP and the Sangh over yesterday's attack on AAP office in Ghaziabad.
"Strongly condemn attack on AAP office by BJP/Sangh activists. BJP as usual is disassociating itself. Part of their strategy.
"Sangh has more than 150 organisations and all have their roots in Sangh. One hand strikes and other hand applies Balm ! Multi Faced Party ! Doesn't it remind us of the Ramayan Character who had 10 Faces and one Body ?," Singh, a known detractor of RSS and BJP, has said in his tweets.
14:05 AAP's anti-graft helpline gets 300 calls in 3 hours:
The Aam Aadmi Party's anti-corruption helpline, which became operational from this morning, has already received more than 300 calls in the first three hours.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal yesterday announced the helpline number, (011) 27357169, which he said will help the common man combat corruption in Delhi.
The helpline is open from 8 am to 10 pm every day. A four-digit helpline is in the offing. -- NDTV
13:56 Fatal blast at Mitsubishi Materials factory:
At least five people have been killed in an explosion at a chemical factory in central Japan, police say. A further 17 people are reported to have been injured in the blast at a plant run by Mitsubishi Materials in Yokkaichi city, in Mie prefecture. Maintenance crews were working on a heat exchanger used in the production of silicon products when the blast happened, a plant spokesman told AFP.
13:42 Coal block allocation: Centre admits, 'something went wrong' :
The Centre today admitted before the Supreme Court that something went wrong with the coal blocks allocation and that it could have been done in a more refined manner.
"We took decision in good faith but something turned out to be wrong," Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati told a three-judge bench headed by Justice R M Lodha.
"In hindsight, we can say something has gone wrong and some correction is required to be done," he said, virtually accepting that mistakes were committed by the government in coal blocks allocation.
Vahanvati's response came after the bench observed that the exercise could have been done in a "far better manner".
"Everything could have been done in more refined and better manner. I accept my lordships view," the AG further said. At the outset of the day's hearing, the bench asked the AG about the Centre's stand on deallocation of certain coal blocks. In response, Vahanvati submitted the government would next week make its stand clear on the issue.
The AG had in September 2013 submitted that coal blocks allocation was merely a letter of intent and does not confer any right to the companies over the natural resource which is decided by the state government.
13:19 Human eyelids can freeze in polar cold:
America is currently shivering through a record cold spell -- icy storms and wind chill that has brought temperatures tumbling down to -57C. What effects does such extreme cold have on the human body? Read
13:03 Moneybags and vote banks:
Indians living abroad are unlikely to vote in a general election, but they can help a political party in many other ways.
Although they are stereotypically seen as moneybags with an ultra-nationalistic spirit who hope to make a difference from a distance, in the age of the social media they can also serve as a vital cog in the propaganda machine of parties. Read
The cartoon on the Hindu today on Priyanka Gandhi's presence at a Congress meet and the hope that she would be able to revive the falling fortunes of the party. Also see:
A Rediff.com poll on whether Priyanka can save the Cong
12:43 HC asks WB govt about its position on CBI probe on gang rape:
The Calcutta High Court today directed the West Bengal government to inform it within seven days about its position on a plea for CBI investigation into the Madhyamgram gang rape and alleged murder of a 16-year-old girl in October.
Justice Dipankar Dutta, hearing a plea for handing over the investigation to CBI by the girl's father, also directed the state government to provide adequate security to the girl's family. The matter will be heard on January 15.
The father of a 16-year-old gang-rape victim, who died of burns after she was allegedly set ablaze, had filed a petition before the Calcutta High Court.
12:39 Live! Raj Thackeray: Modi should have resigned as CM when he became PM candidate:
News updates at this hour:
Former Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa has formally rejoined BJP today.
MNS chief Raj Thackeray hits out at Narendra Modi for praising Sardar Patel and the Gujarati community in his rally in Mumbai. He said Modi came to Mumbai and spoke of Sardar Patel's statue, why didn't he mention Shivaji Maharaj. Thackeray said that as the BJP's PM candidate, Modi should look beyond communities. He said a prime minister represents a country not a state and that Modi should have resigned as Gujarat CM when he became the PM candidate.
12:24 Cold conditions prevail, but minimum temperatures start rising:
The minimum temperatures rose in Punjab and Haryana today even as cold conditions continued to prevail at many places in the region. Barring Amritsar, which continued to reel under biting cold recording a minimum of 1 deg C, the temperatures at other places have shown some increase since yesterday, a MeT official said. Patiala and Ludhiana registered respective minimum temperatures of 8.1 deg C and 6.1 deg C.
12:11 'Polar vortex' eases up on eastern US after days of record-breaking lows:
The arctic blast that brought record low temperatures to many parts of the United States this week appeared to be loosening its grip on Wednesday, with meteorologists promising a far-reaching thaw by the weekend, reports the Guardian. But experts warned that many areas would remain below freezing on Wednesday despite the warm-up, and that travel delays from cancelled flights and rail disruptions caused by the so-called polar vortex could still be expected.
Pic: The frozen Niagra Falls that's doing the round on Twitter. The authenticity of this photograph has not been established.
12:08 Goa bldg collapse: AAP alleges builder-neta nexus, seeks audit of upcoming projects:
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has alleged that "criminal" collusion between politicians, bureaucrats and builders was one of the major causes behind the collapse last week of the under-construction building in Canacona, which claimed 24 lives.
Demanding an audit by state government of ongoing projects along with the setting up of a judicial commission to hold a probe into the mishap, AAP said that, "The criminal politician -builder-bureaucrat nexus, cutting across party lines, permits structures to come up in flagrant violation of environmental norms and building regulations."
11:58 Where the Chief Minister is the rubber stamp:
Without being a full-fledged State empowered with federal sovereignty and constitutional powers both under the State and Concurrent lists, it might be almost impossible for any government in Delhi to govern and thereby lies a problem for Arvind Kejriwal. Read
11:49 US Judge rejects Devyani plea to extend deadline, lawyer mulls other options:
In a major setback to Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, a federal judge has rejected her plea to extend the January 13 deadline for a preliminary hearing on the visa fraud issue, the date by when she has to be charged.
Shortly after the issuance of the order in which the judge said "good cause" has not been demonstrated in the plea, Khobragade's laywer Daniel Arshack said he is "considering" other options.
The three-page order, by which Khobragade will have to appear in court, means the indictment against her will now have to filed before or on January 13. It was issued late yesterday.
11:49 There is nothing normal about diplomatic immunity :
And here's Mukul Kesavan on the Devyani case: The good thing about the Khobragade Affair, of course, is that no one
died. This might seem obvious but its worth pointing out because
editorial boards in American newspapers have managed to write scolding
leaders about Devyani Khobragade without once mentioning Raymond Davis.
So we have the Washington Post
this week detailing the
infirmities of the Indian governments case, especially its failure to
appreciate due process and the independence and even-handedness of the
American justice system (everyone gets stripped, so whats special about
Devyani?) without once referring to the case of the security
contractor, Raymond Davis.Read more
11:40 Live! Omar promises enquiry into why journalism grad was refused passport:
Jammu and Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah promises an enquiry into why a journalism graduate from Kupwara missed his dream internship at the Guardian newspaper in London because he was denied a passport. His visa was denied on the grounds that his father was a supporter of the JKLF.
Omar Abdullah tweets that his government has inquired into the passport issue of Sheikh Ruhail.
"It is coming up for review today as he had applied for a review of the rejection. Am sure if there is nothing in his own record his relative's history will not prejudice his passport application.
"That having been said this case raises the wider question of why the CID rejection, against stated policy, happened in the first place. I will get to the bottom of this issue because although this case was highlighted I must ensure there aren't others going unnoticed." Here's the background of that story.
11:26 Army kicks off raising new mountain strike corps against China:
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday was briefed on the operational readiness along the line of actual control (LAC) with China, in the backdrop of the Army kicking off the raising of a new mountain strike corps to get "some offensive punch" against the much larger People's Liberation Army. Read more
11:06 Live! IBN7 MD Ashutosh resigns, may join AAP:
Just in: Mananging Editor of IBN7 Ashutosh resigns, likely to join AAP, says ANI. Details awaited.
If this is indeed true, he won't be the first journalist in AAP. Ministers Manish Sisodia and Rakhi Birla were also journalists.
11:00 AAP does not want ban on opinion polls:
Just in: The Aam Admi Party says it's against a ban on opinion polls. AAP minister for urban development, Manish Sisodia, says the results of polls should be made public.
Not surprising, since India's biggest metropolises are eagerly looking forward to the Aam Aadmi Party going national and expect it to make a big splash in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, but a majority still view Narendra Modi as a better prime ministerial prospect than Arvind Kejriwal with Rahul Gandhi a distant third.
The government wants a ban on opinion polls ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in line with the views of the election commission.
10:51 Akhilesh Yadav attends big Bollywood night at Saifai, critics raise Muzaffarnagar pitch:
Unfazed by the all-round criticism for its sheer scale and extravagance at a time when his government was being pilloried for being insensitive to Muzaffarnagar riot victims, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav made it a point to watch performances by Bollywood top draws Salman Khan, Deepika Padukone and Madhuri Dixit, which brought down the curtains on the fortnight-long 'Saifai Mahotsav' on Wednesday night. Read more
10:40 Modi @ PBD: 'Good days are coming, wait for 4-6 months':
BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi @ Pravasi Bhratiya Diwas:
"Yesterday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke and said that good days are going to come. But I think, we may have to wait 4-6 months."
"In Gujarat, there is one initiative that should be highlighted in the country and the world. The statue of Liberty: Sardar Vallabhai Patel, he unified the country. We can see India as a free country because of him. We are making the World's biggest statue. This will be the twice the height of the Statue of Liberty We did a programme on December 15, on the death of Mr Patel, and we had a 'Run for Unity' and this run became a world record. We are working hard, so that we stand side-by-side with other nations. I urge you to start this programme in other countries, so that we can spread the word of India's development across the world."
10:01 No word on G-visa to Devyani:
More than 20 days after it was submitted by the UN, the US continues to review the visa application of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade which would give her full diplomatic immunity.
The unusual delay in granting Khobragade G-visa, which would prevent her from any further arrest, has raised the anxiety level among Indian officials as the next day of court hearing fast approaches in New York next week.
"We've received the paperwork. It's under review. I don't have any other details on it, or updates," State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters.
Days after Khobragade was arrested on December 12 in New York on charges of visa fraud and misrepresentation, India transferred her to the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations, with the hope that she would get the necessary G-visa that would grant her full diplomatic immunity.
09:45 Will ex-Army chief VK Singh appear before J&K house today?:
Former Army chief General VK Singh will have to appear before the privileges committee of Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council on Thursday for his disputed remarks on state ministers being paid by the Army.
In December 2012, the privileges committee of the upper house of Jammu and Kashmir's bicameral legislature had asked Singh to appear before it in the legislature complex in winter capital Jammu on January 09.
It is yet not known whether General Singh would abide by the summons.
Singh had created a stir last year when he told a news channel in September 2012 that ministers and legislators in Jammu and Kashmir had been beneficiaries of Army's secret funds.
09:15 Yeddyurappa's formal comeback into BJP today:
A week after the merger of Karnataka Janata Paksha chief BS Yeddyurappa with the Bharatiya Janata Party, the former CM is all set to rejoin the party on Thursday.
After getting nod from BJP last week in the national capital, state party leaders had met Yeddyurappa in Delhi and had asked them him to decide a date for his formal return to the party.
However, sources in BJP's central leadership had said that his return to the party fold will be unconditional and Yeddy will not contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
But, the return of BJP's 'khaas man' into the party may further boost the political fortune of BJP. Yeddyurappa had walked-out of the party in 2012 alleging betrayal.
However, as per the BJP sources, after formally accepting back the ex-CM into the party, Yeddy may be fielded from the Shimoga Lok Sabha Cnstituency.
09:07 VVIP chopper deal: CBI likely to question middleman today:
A team of Central Bureau if Investigation officials on Thursday are likely to grill European middleman Guido Haschke in connection with alleged bribery scandal to clinch Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal in favour of AgustaWestland.
Earlier, CBI sources had said a team led by an SP-level officer will be part of the Defence Ministry team that has been given access to examine the middleman on January 9 before the Milan court where he is facing trial for alleged corrupt activities along with top executives of AgustaWestland and Finmeccanica.
Taking a tough stand, India had on January one scrapped the helicopter deal, nearly a year after allegations surfaced that kickbacks to the tune of Rs 360 crore were paid to bag the contract.
The Milan court had allowed Indian authorities to examine Haschke in the bribery case, which is being heard in that country. Haschke was arrested in Switzerland from where he has been brought to Italy.
03:59 Petition presses Washington Post over Amazon's CIA contract:
More than 30,000 people have signed an online petition calling on The Washington Post to tell readers that Amazon, founded by its owner Jeff Bezos, does business with the CIA, activists behind the campaign have said.
RootsAction.org said yesterday it would deliver the petition at the newspaper's downtown Washington headquarters next Wednesday, as it released an exchange of correspondence with executive editor Martin Baron.
03:59 Biden calls Iraqi leader for 2nd time this week:
Vice President Joe Biden has spoken for a second time this week to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, voicing support for the Baghdad government's effort to regain control of the city of Fallujah from al-Qaida-linked fighters.
The White House said Biden encouraged al-Maliki to continue talks with local, tribal and national leaders and said Biden welcomed al-Maliki's affirmation yesterday that Iraqi elections will occur as scheduled in April.
03:59 Canada reports first H5N1 bird flu death in North America:
Canadian health authorities have announced the first avian flu death in North America, in the western plains province of Alberta, of a patient who had just returned from China.
"I am here to confirm North America's first human case of H5N1, also known as avian flu," Canada Health Minister Rona Ambrose told a press conference yesterday, confirming the patient died.
03:58 UK: investigators study scene after copter crash:
Authorities in England cordoned off flooded marshes to investigate the crash of a military helicopter that killed four US Air Force crew members.
The Pave Hawk helicopter slammed into the eastern coast during a low-level training mission Tuesday evening.
Teams combing the marshes have been hampered by bullets scattered across the scene and have not yet recovered the crew's remains.
03:57 An angry India pops the expat bubble in Delhi:
Some years ago in India, I found myself in a casual conversation with the US ambassador at the time on the grounds of the American Embassy School in Delhi.
He remarked that maintaining the quality of the school had become a concern after executives impressed on him the school's importance for keeping expatriate workers based in a country that many find difficult.
03:27 Officer cleared in shooting that caused riots in England:
The man whose death at the hands of a police officer in 2011 sparked riots that shocked Britain was killed lawfully, a jury found on Wednesday, issuing a decision that was sharply criticized by the dead man's family.
Mark Duggan, who was 29, was shot dead by the officer in August 2011 in the Tottenham neighborhood of north London. After his death, protesters in north London confronted police and violence erupted, spreading first to other parts of London and then to other urban areas across England. The police struggled to contain a level of unrest for which they proved ill-prepared.
02:16 NASA extends space station life to 2024:
The International Space Station will operate for an additional four years, or until 2024, the US space agency said today.
"This is a tremendous announcement for us here in the space station world," said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.
The USD 100 billion orbiting outpost has been operational for 15 years, and had been expected to remain open to global collaborators until 2020.
01:35 Obama invites Merkel to Washington after phone-tap row:
United States President Barack Obama today invited German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Washington in an effort to mend fences after a diplomatic crisis provoked by revelations of US eavesdropping on her mobile phone.
Obama called Merkel to wish her a speedy recovery after her recent skiing injury and invited her to visit at a "mutually agreeable time in the coming months," the White House said in a statement.
01:34 Helicopter crash: Four dead US air crew named:
The four US crew members who died in a helicopter crash in Cley-next-the-Sea, north Norfolk, have been named.
The US Air Force said the crew of the helicopter were Captain Christopher S. Stover, Captain Sean M. Ruane, Technical Sergeant Dale E Mathews and Staff Sergeant Afton M. Ponce.
The HH-60G Pave Hawk from the 48th Fighter Wing was based RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk and came down on Tuesday.
01:33 Families of murdered former Miss Venezuela call for action:
Friends and family of the former Miss Venezuela and her British ex-husband killed in a hijacking have said they hoped their deaths might finally force real government action against violent crime, amid nationwide fury that the country's worsening insecurity had claimed one of its most loved stars.
As the opposition called a protest march on the Venezuelan national assembly, Thomas Berry's close friend and business partner said he hoped the pair's deaths could be a catalyst for change in one of the world's most dangerous countries.
01:03 Fire scare in another train; prompt rly staff avert tragedy:
Smoke emanating from underneath a coach of a train bound for Dadar in Mumbai from here caused anxious moments before it was put out by the railway crew at Chincholi station in Belgaum District of Karnataka, a senior police officer said.
A possible mishap was averted on the Yeshwantpur-Dadar Chalukya Express when railway authorities noticed the smoke and spark and doused it, Belgaum Superintendent of Police Chandragupta told PTI.
00:37 Gunmen kill 12 Iraqi soldiers north of Baghdad:
Gunmen attacked a military site north of the Iraqi capital today, killing 12 soldiers and wounding four, police and a doctor said. The militants stormed a building at the site in the Al-Adhim area, then bombed it.
Militants opposed to the Iraqi government frequently target members of the security forces with bombings and shootings.
00:34 EU proposes sending military force to Central African Republic:
European Union officials proposed on Wednesday that the EU move quickly send troops to Central African Republic, either to the capital Bangui or the west of the country, diplomatic sources said.
The proposals for an EU force of at least battalion-strength, roughly 700 to 1,000 soldiers, will please France, which has urged allies to do more to bolster the 1,600 troops it sent to its former colony last month to stop massacres between Muslim and Christian militias triggered by a March coup.
00:32 10 militants, 3 securitymen killed in Pakistan:
At least 10 militants and three security personnel were killed tonight after a check post was attacked in Pakistan's restive South Waziristan tribal region, the military here said.
At about 8:00 PM, a group of militants attacked Green Ridge Post in Ladha in South Waziristan Agency, an official of the Inter Services Public Relations said.