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LIVE! India to ask UK for details of claims of help during Operation Bluestar

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January 14, 2014

22:28  Suspect held in Mexico school shootout:  A suspect is being held after a shooting today at Berrendo Middle School in Roswell, New Mexico, according to the Roswell Police Department's Facebook page.

It wasn't immediately clear if anyone had been injured. The Facebook post by Roswell police said the school was placed on lockdown after the shooting.
22:09  FDI in retail would add to widespread unemployment: Kejriwal:   Justifying his decision to withdraw the approval given to FDI by the previous government in multi-brand retail in Delhi, Kejriwal today said small store owners would lose business if it is implemented and would add to widespread unemployment.

"The small Indian store owners will lose business if FDI in retail implemented. Tell me one nation where FDI in retail has led to increase in employment. A lot of people come to me asking for jobs. The businessmen and the industrialists of nation give jobs," Kejriwal told reporters in New Delhi.

Slamming the Congress-led Union Government on FDI, Kejriwal said, "They have made banana republic of the country."
22:02  India to ask UK for details of claims of help during Operation Bluestar:   A Sikh member of the House of Lords in London has claimed that recently released top secret documents suggest former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher's government helped her the then Indian counterpart Indira Gandhi plan the storming of the Golden Temple in 1984 to flush out terrorists holed up inside.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin has now said that the Indian government will be taking up the issue with the British government, CNN-IBN reports.
20:05  Operation Bluestar hero trashes talk of UK help:  Amid the raging row over claims that Margaret Thatcher's government had aided India in the Operation Bluestar to flush out militants from the Golden Temple in 1984, Lt Gen (Retd) K S Brar, who led the offensive, today said it was planned and executed by Indian military commanders. 

"I am quite dumbfounded because the operation was planned and executed by military commanders in India. There is no question...we never saw anyone from UK coming in here and telling us how to plan the operation," Brar told a TV news channel.
20:04  Car bomb explodes in northern Nigerian city:  A car bomb exploded at a military checkpoint in a busy urban commercial area in northeast Nigeria. Many are feared killed and injured. People splattered with blood tried to flee as a second car was ignited by the explosion in Maiduguri and soldiers started firing automatic rifles.
20:04  Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama visits Chaanda Devi caves:  Amid high security, Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama visited the ancient Buddhist site of Sirpur and meditated at the historic 'Chaanda Devi' caves where his guru and Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna is supposed to have meditated centuries ago.

Located at the sprawling Singhadhruva terrain, Chaanda Devi caves is about 25 km away from Sirpur town in Mahasamund district, on the banks of the Mahanadi river.
19:33  ASI team to bring back Buddha begging bowl from Kabul:  Senior officials of Archaeological Survey of India will visit Kabul by this month-end to examine the huge 400 kg begging bowl, said to belong to Gautam Buddha, and then initiate the process of bringing the relic back to India.
19:30  Egypt votes on new constitution amid terror attacks and govt crackdown:  Egyptians began voting Tuesday on a draft constitution backed by the military-appointed government that could pave the way for fresh elections, amid growing anti-state violence and a sweeping crackdown on the opposition.

The two-day vote is widely seen as a referendum on both the strong-armed policies of Egypt's interim government and the rumored presidential ambitions of Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, the popular army chief and de facto leader
19:26  Lawyers' bodies seek resignation of Justice Swatanter Kumar:  Members of two lawyers' bodies and a human rights organisation today called for the immediate resignation of National Green Tribunal Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar over allegations of sexual harassment levelled against him by a former law intern.
19:20  Chinese doctor sentenced to death for child trafficking:  A Chinese female doctor was today given a suspended death sentenced for selling seven babies to human traffickers, a case that drew massive public outcry against the growing menace of child trafficking.
19:20  ISRO yet to pick up rover built by IIT-K:  ISRO had given a project to IIT Kanpur to develop a rover to be launched with Chandrayaan-II, which the university's scientists completed in 2010, but the space agency was yet to pick it up and make part payment to the institute, according to its professor.
18:43  Lawyers' bodies seek resignation of Justice Swatanter Kumar:  Members of two lawyers' bodies and a human rights organisation today called for the immediate resignation of National Green Tribunal Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar over allegations of sexual harassment levelled against him by a former law intern. Justice Kumar has described the intern's allegations as "incredulous and false" and part of "some kind of conspiracy".
18:40  Over 10 lakh people sign up for membership though SMS & web, while data from countless paper forms yet to come in, tweets AAP. 
18:30  LIVE! Copycat BJP launches online donation drive just like AAP:  With Lok Sabha elections just months away, BJP today launched a drive to collect donations for "Modi for PM fund" from the people and also inducted several former IITians into the party to give a fillip to its campaign.

BJP President Rajnath Singh launched the drive to collect donations ranging from Rs 10 to Rs 1,000 in the name of "Modi for PM fund".

Under this plan, people can donate to the party through cash or credit and debit cards.

Each contributor will be given a paper trail and informed through SMS on his or her mobile about the deposit. Those  making payment online will receive confirmation through e-mail and SMS.

Though the party has formally denied that this plan was inspired  by a similar exercise conducted by Aam Aadmi Party, sources said AAP did influence the BJP in going for this move.

Till now BJP claimed that it collects big funds through cheques. Singh paid Rs 1,000 into the "Modi for PM fund" while inaugurating the drive.
18:24  Dec 16 gang rape: Two convicts insist they were not in bus :  And the trial in the December 16 gang-rape case continues...

Two of the four death row convicts in the case have told the Delhi High Court that they were wrongly convicted by the trial court as they were not inside the moving bus in which the girl was allegedly raped by six persons.

Convicts, Akshay Thakur and Vinay Sharma, who filed their written submissions before a bench of justices Reva Khetrapal and Pratibha Rani, also said the trial court decision be set aside as it is "against the law".

"The trial court has passed the order without applying its judicial mind and without taking into consideration the facts and documents on record and has wrongly relied upon the version of the family members of the deceased," the convicts said in their submission.

The 34-page written submission was filed on Monday before the bench which on January 3 had reserved its judgement after marathon hearing spanning over three-and-a-half months and had asked the convicts to file the case laws and written pleas in support of their claims.

The court had also reserved its verdict on the reference sent to it by the trial court, which has sentenced four convicts -- Akshay, Vinay, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh - to death on September 13, 2013 for confirmation of the capital punishment.

It is mandatory for the trial court to refer a death penalty case to the high court for confirmation of sentence within 30 days of the pronouncement of the verdict.
17:46  AAP office vandalised in Aurangabad, NCP blamed :  Here we go again, the AAP office in Aurangabad, Maharashtra, has been vandalised.  AAP says the NCP is responsible for the attack.

On Friday, members of the Hindu Raksha Dal, had vandalised AAP's headquarters in Kaushambi, Uttar Pradesh, following which Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was given Z-category security. 

The Hindu Raksha Dal, a fringe right wing group, said it was in protest against Prashant Bhushan's "anti-national comments".

On Sunday, in reference to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in Kashmir, Bhushan had said the views of Kashmir's people should be taken into consideration to decide if the Army was required in the state to deal with internal security.
17:30  LIVE! Rahul's comment laughable, Cong can't look beyond Gandhis: BJP:   The BJP today poked fun at Rahul Gandhi's statement indicating his willingness to shoulder any responsibility conferred upon him by his party, arguing that the Congress vice-president was being designated the prime ministerial candidate only because of his pedigree.

"Mr Gandhi's comment is laughable. He is going to be declared his party's prime ministerial candidate because he belongs to a certain family, and his party can't look beyond,'' BJP's deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha Ravi Shankar Prasad said.  Read more
17:25   Diplomat Devyani Khobragade arrives in Mumbai:   Senior diplomat Devyani Khobragade, who returned to India last week after being indicted for visa fraud in the United States, arrived in Mumbai today.

"I am thankful to my city Mumbai for the love and support," Devyani told reporters at the airport with folded hands. Devyani was granted full diplomatic immunity and returned to India on the day a jury indicted her for visa fraud in the United States. She has not been given a posting so far.
17:21  Salman gets mithai for Modi, chats about films, not politics:  Zafar Sareshwala, an Ahmedabad-based businessman, says he was excited that he could take Salman Khan to meet Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. Sareshwala told, "It was unimaginable for me and Salman Khan to enter the hardcore Hindu area of old Ahmedabad along with Modi and fly kites. I could never imagine this before."

He said Salman was in the city to promote his new film, Jai Ho, but when Modi heard about it he told Sareshwala to bring the actor over for lunch.

Salman and Modi ate their undiyo, flew kites and chatted for over two hours -- not so much politics, but films.

Sareshwala says Modi has an in-depth knowledge of Salman's films, his acting style etc and told the actor how much he respected his father Salim Khan.

Modi said that Salim Khan, who speaks to every few months, was like his teacher and conversations normally lasted for 45 minutes or so.

The Modi-Salman meeting doesn't seem to have been an impromptu one, since the actor brought a box of sweets from Mumbai for Modi.

So, who is Zafar Sareshwala? Read this piece on 'Gujarat's Muslims have no option but to talk to Modi'
16:46  LIVE! Kejriwal, Sibal share jadu ki jhappi on Eid:  Arvind Kejriwal shared a hug with Kapil Sibal of the Congress at a mosque in Chandni Chowk today on the occasion of Eid.

While the Congrss may be lending support to the AAP government in Delhi, Kejriwal had targetted Sibal over the Vodafone tax case and said all corrupt ministers have joined the Group of Ministers on CBI autonomy.

Last month, Sibal's son had filed a defamation case against Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan and Shazia Ilmi alleging that Kapil Sibal had a conflict in seeking to revise a tax demand on telecom major Vodafone.  
16:32  Not only discoms, all PPP projects should also be audited: Ex-CAG:  Former CAG Vinod Rai today said financial accounts of not only private power distributors but also of all Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects in the country should be audited by the government auditor.

Rai, whose reports on various scams had raised the hackles of those in the UPA government, also asked why should the private power companies have any objections to a government audit.

"Power distribution companies are like a PPP project. Their accounts should be audited by a credible auditor and government's credible auditor is CAG," Rai said.

"All of them (PPP projects) need to be audited. There should also be an enabling clause that CAG can audit any PPP project," he said, and asked, "What is the hitch they (companies) have in the audit?," he asked.
16:24  Launching a fresh attack on Rahul Gandhi, AAP leader Kumar Vishwas today said the Congress Vice-President was not capable of taking up any responsibility in the country.

"He (Rahul) is not capable enough to take up any responsibility in the country as whenever sensitive issues like Damini and Gudia (rape cases) came to the fore, he remained abroad," he told reporters in Amethi.

"He was never seen in and outside Parliament putting forth his views on serious issues...The people cannot hand over the country's rule to him," the Aam Aadmi Party leader said.

Asked about Priyanka Vadra campaigning in Amethi for Lok Sabha polls, Vishwas said, "She is my sister also....Now, it has to be seen whether she supports this brother (Vishwas), who had been hit by lathis for asking for justice in Damini and Gudia rape cases, or for the one (Rahul) who remained abroad."

Vishwas held meetings at Jamo and Jagdishpur areas of the district and sought details of funds spent on Amethi's development.

"It is ironic that even 20 per cent of roads were not constructed in Amethi under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY)," he claimed.

Vishwas had yesterday also attacked the Congress MP in his Parliamentary constituency, questioning his claims on development of Amethi and had said he should explain where thousands of crores of rupees meant for development had gone.
16:20  Did Britain help Indira Gandhi plan Operation Bluestar?:  This is the context: British Prime Minister David Cameron has directed his cabinet secretary to establish the facts behind claims that Margaret Thatcher's government may have helped Indira Gandhi plan Operation Bluestar in 1984.

16:19  Jaitley: Operation Bluestar may have been a strategic miscalculation:   Arun Jaitley blogs on the declassification of the Operation Bluestar documents:

"We are now having some of the British documents becoming public. In the next few months, more documents between the period February to June 1984 would become public on account of the expiry of the limitation of 30 years. It is about time that the Government of India decided to tell us the truth as to what the real facts were. This would enable the people of India to conclude whether 'Operation Blue Star' was a strategic miscalculation."

Read more
16:09  Woman step a little closer to combat in army:  Woman officers in the Indian Army will command artillery batteries, lead sappers to lay or clear minefields and fly helicopters into hostile territory if a proposal to be made by the chief, Gen. Bikram Singh, later this week is accepted.

This takes women closer to being drafted for combat but strictly in the arena of indirect, or distanced, fighting. Sappers, for instance, are soldiers who support the infantry by performing tasks such as building roads and bridges.

This means the military top brass will still not consider lady officers for service in the infantry, mechanised infantry, special forces or armoured regiments.  Read more

16:03  Heard these Salman, Modi jokes?:  The Salman Khan, Narendra Modi meet has spawned jokes on social media.

Here's a sampling...

Salman: Sir, did you see Dabang ?
Modi: Every morning when I dress up in front of mirror.
Salman: Uh..Ohh

Modi: When Im driving, even if a puppy
Salman: Dont talk to me about driving, yaar!

Salman: Sir, Pls. save me in rash driving/homicide case.
Modi: Me?.Arre yaar, even if a puppy cms u/ my car
Salman: :(

Salman: Gujarat mein daaru kidhar hai?
Modi: Teri movies mein story kidhar hai?
*High five*
15:50  Fainting, vomiting as Aus Open players struggle in 'inhuman' heat :  Players fainted and vomited and a ball boy collapsed as the Australian Open boiled in one of the hottest days in its history today, prompting angry complaints and keeping fans away in droves.

Temperatures of 42 Celsius, enough to melt plastic bottles on the rubberised courts, made for a punishing day for the players with some incensed their matches went ahead.

Canada's Frank Dancevic lashed out at the "inhumane" playing conditions after he blacked out and needed treatment during his first-round defeat to Benoit Paire.

"I think it's inhuman, I don't think it's fair to anybody, to the players, to the fans, to the sport, when you see players pulling out of matches, passing out," he said.
15:18  LIVE! Salman flies kites with Modi, says best man should be PM :   Salman Khan is flying kites with Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad. The actor who is in the city 

He says God should decide who is the best man of the country, that man should be the PM. Pointing to Modi, he says he is a good man.

Salman says he has come to Gujarat after nine years and the development in the state is terrific.

"I can see the happiness in your faces. I'm here to promote my film, Jai Ho. The best man should be PM. Whatever is written in Narendra Modi's fate, should be happen. If you think Modi is the best man, vote for him. It is your duty to vote for whoever you think is the best man," says the erudite actor. 
14:56  Kai po che! The colourful Kite Festival in Ahmedabad:  Today, Gujarat celebrates Uttarayan, the festival that marks the onset of spring after long chilly winter months.

In the months preceding this day, streets and lanes are lined with makeshift shops selling kites of all shapes and sizes.

The day itself is a public holiday as people of all ages and across social classes get together to fly kites, literally.

Nisha Jha visited one such Uttarayan and witness the International Kite Festival that sees participants from scores of countries. This is her diary...
14:51  LIVE! Modi tweets undhiyo lunch with Salman in Ahmedabad :   The Gujarat CM is certainly not averse to having some glamour for lunch. Narendra Modi tweeted that he was "Having Undhiyu for lunch with Salman Khan. Undhiyu is a Gujarati delicacy and is a must-have during Uttarayan!"

Another tweet says that the actor and Modi are likely to fly kites together in Ahmedabad this afternoon.

Modi inaugurated the three-day International Kite Festival 2014 at the Sabarmati riverfront on Sunday, and joined participants in flying kites.

Salman Khan is in Gujarat to promote his upcoming film Jai Ho.
14:45  Network18 to launch Gujarati biz channel, online pink paper:  Stating that the media industry is looking up after a long bad patch, diversified media group Network18 has announced launch of a slew of initiatives, including a Gujarati business news channel and its second general entertainment channel.

The group runs the oldest English business news channel CNBC-TV18, general news channel in English CNN-IBN and a Hindi business news channel CNBC-Awaaz. It will soon launch a Gujarati business news channel 'CNBC Bazaar', group's Chief Executive Officer B Sai Kumar said.
14:41  Cops caught on tape slapping women protestors:  In an incident of police brutality, policemen allegedly slapped and cane-charged a group of women protesting on the national highway in Firozabad against the death of two persons in a mishap.

The protestors had last night gathered at Subhash crossing under Uttar police station area and squatted on the National Highway after a rumour that the driver of the tractor involved in the road mishap had been let off, sources said.

Police officials, including SHO Sri Prakash Yadav were then caught on camera slapping and baton-charging the protesting women, while trying to clear the road.
14:27  Hacker who exposed Steubenville rapists may get more prison time than rapists:  Deric Lostutter, the 26-year-old "hacktivist' who leaked the evidence that led to the conviction of two of the Steubenville, Ohio rapists is now facing more time behind bars than the rapists he exposed.

 The Steubenville Rape Case made national headlines when a video made by the rapists themselves, and their friends, proved that their victim was unconscious and unable to consent.  Read
14:25  How butter chicken conquered a Birla:  Indian industrialists need to be ready to face the unexpected when they decide to prowl the world and snap up companies abroad. Not everyone has the stomach for it -- and globalisation can bring about gut-wrenching change. Kumar Mangalam Birla found that out the hard way. Read more
14:09  We want to contest LS polls under Rahul: Manish Tewari:  Calling Rahul Gandhi the natural leader of Congress, Union Minister Manish Tewari today said that partymen want to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections under his leadership.

"We have repeatedly and consistently said that he is the natural leader of the Congress party and we would want that we contest the 2014 Lok Sabha elections under his leadership," the Information and Broadcasting Minister said today.

"However who should be given what responsibility is a decision which is taken by Congress President Sonia Gandhi after due consideration and consultations with everyone," he said.

Tewari was replying to a question regarding an interview given by the Congress Vice President in which he said that he was ready for any role that the party would give him. There has been speculation over whether Congress would declare Rahul Gandhi as its Prime Ministerial candidate.

To a remark of Rahul Gandhi that emperors Ashoka and Akbar had united the country while Aurangzeb had done the opposite was an indirect attack on Narendra Modi, Tewari said, "There is no need to be indirect. The politics of the respectable Gujarat Chief Minister has been narrow, communal and divisive.

"What happened in 2002 in Gujarat is not hidden from anyone. Instead of taking moral responsibility, the way he has tried to give justifications shows that he doesn't believe in either secularism or the idea of India."
14:04  AAP's decision on FDI in retail irresponsible: Anand Sharma:   Terming the Delhi government's decision to disallow FDI in multi-brand retailing as "abrupt, irresponsible and ill-considered," Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma today said India is not a banana republic where policy decisions can be reversed.

The ministry, he said, will examine the communication of the newly installed Aam Aadmi Party-led Delhi government on reversing the earlier decision of the state to allow foreign direct investment policy in multi-brand retail trading.

"There is a gazette notification after the (Congress-led) Delhi government approved the policy. It is notified. We are not a banana republic. India has never seen such policy reversals," he said.

The minister said the decision of the new government, which is in a minority, is "irresponsible, ill-considered, abrupt and arbitrary. It is a regressive decision. Responsible governments can ill-afford to take arbitrary decisions and knee-jerk reactions."
13:41  Evangelist Benny Hinn cancels Bangalore visit after BJP protests:  Just in: American Evangelist Benny Hinn cancels proposed visit to Bangalore following protests from Saffron groups.

The protests come in the wake of miracle healing sessions by Hinn during his last visit to the IT city nine years back, in 2005.

Right-wing groups claim that the self-proclaimed miracle healer was using this as a tool to convert people to Christianity, and that his prayer conference next week too would be a forum for conversion.
13:33  Kejriwal defends law minister: Court observation wrong, no evidence tampering :  Defending his law minister Somnath Bharti, Arvind Kejriwal today called the court observation "completely wrong."

"A sting operation has been called tampering of evidence - it is not tampering of evidence," said the Chief Minister.

Bharti was indicted for tampering with evidence by a court in Patiala.

According to a report in a leading national daily, a special judge of the Central Bureau of Investigation had indicted Bharti and his client Pawan Kumar after the agency accused them of trying to influence a prosecution witness.

Bharti had allegedly spoken to the prosecution witness and discussed the case.
13:25  AAP becomes magnet for big names: Political opportunism or love for nation?:  After some political heavyweights, AAP now seems to be charming corporate honchos, activists and other big names to enter active politics.  Read
12:56  Kejriwal's anti-FDI move erases Manmohan's efforts for open economy :   The newly elected state government in New Delhi on Monday barred foreign supermarkets from setting up shop, a blow to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's efforts to attract overseas investment and revive the economy.

Singh had thrown open the country's $500 billion retail industry to foreign investors in late 2012, allowing companies such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Tesco PLC to own a majority stake in local chains for the first time. Read more
12:49  Curry: Why the British are moving on from Chicken Tikka Masala:  Experimentation by British Indian chefs and a desire to eat more healthily are behind growing consumer confidence when it comes to curry.  Read more
12:43  Voters have not booted out redistributive schemes in India :  What do voters want from their elected government? Quite apart from its political significance, this question has very important consequences for public policies. Read
12:41  LIVE! Pak: India's tit for tat comment on LoC violations provocative:   Pakistan has said that Indian Army chief General Bikram Singh's statement on ceasefire violations was provocative and regrettable.

In a clear warning to Pakistan, General Bikram Singh said yesterday that any militant who crosses the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir would be fired at.

Pakistan's Inter-Service Public Relations ( ISPR) said in a press release later that it is contrary to the facts on ground. The Pakistan Army respects the ceasefire agreement in letter and spirit, it quoted a Pakistan military's spokesperson as saying.

After the meeting between the Directors General of Military Operations (DGMOs) Dec 24, 2013, the situation along the LoC has improved considerably. Such accusation and provocative statements are regrettable and counter-productive, the spokesperson added.

The Indian Army chief in his statement Monday also said the army needed to continue guarding the troubled northern state "under the present circumstances".

"We will fire at any militant trying to enter through the LoC," Gen. Bikram Singh said at the annual press conference ahead of Army Day on January 15.

His comments came as reports in the Pakistani media blamed India for violating the ceasefire and firing at a civilian near the LoC.
12:08  Valrie Trierweiler to stay in hospital with 'severe case of blues':  Doctors say Franois Hollande's partner needs more rest to recover from shock of discovering his alleged infidelity. Read
12:03  AAP does not believe in any -isms, says Yogendra Yadav:   AAP does not subscribe to any of the pre-packaged ideologies of the 20th century, says Yogendra Yadav. Read
12:01  AAP law minister Somnath Bharti in trouble over 'evidence tampering' :   Aam Aadmi Party's Somnath Bharti has landed in a controversy just a fortnight after taking charge as Delhi's Law Minister. Both the Congress and BJP have demanded Bharti's resignation over a report that says he tried to tamper with evidence while representing a client in a corruption case.

"Mr Kejriwalji must deliver on his promise that he made to the people of zero tolerance towards corruption," said Congress' Shakeel Ahmad.
Read more
11:56  Schumacher has operation on skull to discover any brain damage:  French doctors have begun brain tests on Michael Schumacher to see which areas have been damaged, it was reported on Monday. The seven-time world racing champion has been in an artificially induced coma for 15 days after he struck a rock while skiing off-piste in the resort of Meribel. He has had an operation to remove a small part of his skull in a bid to relieve pressure on his brain, according to a Zurich paper at the weekend. -- The Telegraph
11:52  US denies report of paying a dollar a day to foreign employees:   The US today strongly refuted reports that its diplomatic missions overseas at times pay less than a dollar a day salary, saying its compensation plans are based on "prevailing wage rates and compensation practices" in the locality of employment.

"This is untrue," Emily Horne, a State Department spokesperson, said when asked about a 2009 report of the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the State Department according to which some local employees hired by the US diplomatic missions overseas earned less than USD 1 a day.

"In accordance with section 408 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 our compensation plans are based on prevailing wage rates and compensation practices in the locality of employment," she said.
11:42  Expelled diplomat's comments doesn't represent govt position:US:  The US has distanced itself from the alleged offensive comments made by its diplomat, who was last week expelled by India in a tit-for-tat action following arrest of a senior Indian diplomat in New York last month.

"Those comments absolutely do not reflect US government policy, nor were they made on any official US government social media account," State department deputy spokesperson, Marie Harf, told reporters at her daily news conference. 
11:29  Niramala Sitaraman, SS Ahluwalia, Swapan Dasgupta may get RS seats :   Nirmala Sitaraman, SS Ahluwalia and Swapan Dasgupta are likely to enter the Rajya Sabha. Jayanthi Natarajan is likely to be appointed as chief of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee, but there are two other names on the list -- S Nachiappan and KV Thankabalu, are two others.
11:22  BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad to speak on Home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde at noon. 
11:11  AAP to bag 6 Delhi Lok Sabha seats, Modi top PM choice: Poll:   AAP is likely to sweep Delhi, bagging six of the seven seats, pick up a seat in Greater Mumbai and one in the Noida-Ghaziabad area in the coming Lok Sabha polls, according to an opinion poll done in the NCR region and in the Mumbai-Greater Mumbai areas.

The party is also set to mark its presence in the other NCR satellite cities, though it may not win a seat in them, the poll suggested. Read more
11:08  Fashioning a vision of the future :  As the AAP begins to push ahead, the demand for a clearer understanding of the nature of society and its aspirations would certainly become acute. Read
10:55  LIVE! Digvijaya defends Shinde: False charges by RK Singh are condemnable:  Congress senior leader Digvijaya Singh reacts to former home secretary RK Singh's charges that Singh claimed Delhi Police was stopped by home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde from questioning a Mumbai-based businessman, who is said to have "some kind of links" with Dawood Ibrahim, in connection with the betting in Indian Premier League, a T-20 cricketing tournament.

Digvijaya tweets: Shinde is a seasoned politician and has held responsible positions in the State and Centre. Such false charges by an ex home secretary are condemnable. His charges are extremely serious and and if he kept quiet then he is guilty also of not fulfilling his assigned responsibility. Shocking!
10:29  Rahul Gandhi says that he is not shying away from being PM candidate if the party decides. "I'm ready to take responsibility if given, the idea of Congress returning to power is good for India," he said.  
10:27  When the Mahatma turned into the muse:   The 'Bapugeetika' Project is holding its first ever press conference at the Deputy Speaker's Hall, Vitthalbhai Patel Bhawan, Rafi Marg, New Delhi on January 16.

The project highlights an anthology of poetry set to music, sung in 14 Indian languages. 

The songs have been penned by giants of Indian literature like Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, Subramanyam Bharti, Masti Venkatesh Iyengar, Subhadrakumari Chauhan, Ray Prolu Subbarao and Amrita Pritam.

Incidentally, Gandhiji was the muse for all these brilliant wordsmiths.
10:18  Jayanti Natarajan likely to be TNCC chief:  From a correspondent in Delhi: BJP leaders Nirmala Sitaraman, S S Ahluwalia and journalist Swapan Dasgupta are all being toured as Rajya Sabha hopefuls. 

Meanwhile, Congress leader Jayanti Natarajan is likely to be appointed as the chief of the Tamil Nadu Congress Committee. 
09:39  Congress will perform well: Rahul:  Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi believes that his party will perform well in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.

"The Congress is always underestimated. I am confident that the party will perform well," he said.

Continuing his attack on the BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi, Rahul said, "The country can't run on the ideas of only one person, you need to involve more people".

Rahul reportedly made the comments in an interview with a leading Hindi daily.
09:35  I am ready to take charge: Rahul Gandhi:  Congress Vice-president Rahul Gandhi is "ready to take charge". 

"I am ready to take responsibility if given. The return of the Congress is good for India," news channel CNN-IBN quoted Gandhi as saying.

Gandhi also revealed that he did not agree with most of the Aam Aadmi Party's policies as the Congress didn't work for "short term gains".

Addressing speculations about his sister Priyanka Gandhi formally entering politics, Rahul said, "I don't think there will be any election related role for her".

He also lashed out at Opposition BJP, claiming that the saffron party wanted to bring "a one man rule in India".
09:20  Crisis with India ending: US:  The United States has voiced hope that a crisis with India over the arrest of a senior Indian diplomat would come to a closure and expressed its wish to get back to business and take bilateral ties forward.        

"Clearly, this has been a challenging time in the US-India relationship. We just want to get back to business and we want to put this behind us, and we want both sides to work together to move the relationship forward," State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters at her daily news conference.
09:19  UK PM orders probe into Thatcher's link to Op Bluestar :  British Prime Minister David Cameron has directed his Cabinet Secretary to establish the facts behind claims that Margaret Thatcher's government may have helped Indira Gandhi plan Operation Bluestar in 1984.        

Labour MP Tom Watson and Lord Indarjit Singh had demanded an explanation after recently declassified documents indicated that Britain's Special Air Service officials had been dispatched to help India to help with the planning about the raid.

Operation Bluestar, which was launched on Golden Temple to flush out militants from the shrine, left more than 1,000 people dead.        

"These events led to a tragic loss of life and we understand the very legitimate concerns that these papers will raise. The prime minister has asked the Cabinet Secretary to look into this case urgently and establish the facts," a UK government spokesperson said.
09:17  US express concern over China's hypersonic cruise missile test :  Expressing concern over China's hypersonic cruise missile test, top American lawmakers have said the Asia-Pacific region is fast becoming a powder keg.        

In a statement, the House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard 'Buck' McKeon, Congressman Randy Forbes and Mike Rogers said this situation does nothing to support peaceful coexistence in the Pacific.        

"While round after round of defence cuts have knocked America's technological advantage on its back, the Chinese and other competitor nations push towards military parity with the United States; in some cases, as in this one, they appear to be leaping ahead of us," three Congressmen said.
09:16  Obama defends his Afghanistan strategy :  Barack Obama has defended his war strategy and said that he had faith in the Afghan mission, after the US president's commitment to the Afghanistan war was criticised by former Defence Secretary Robert Gates in his new book.        

"The good news is, is that because of that strategy that we came up with, by the end of this year we will have completed combat operations in Afghanistan," Obama told reporters on the eve of the release of Gates's book.
09:15  Immunity to Devyani disappointing: US trade union centre :  The largest federation of unions in the US has expressed displeasure over the State Department's decision to accord full diplomatic immunity to senior Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade.        

The AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, however, applauded the Department of Justice, particularly US Attorney Preet Bharara, for its steadfast pursuit of justice in this case.        

"The indictment of the consular officer itself is a rare occurrence and a positive step in the movement to uphold the rights of domestic workers. However, when the US Attorney presented the charges, it was revealed that the Department of State recently granted Khobragade diplomatic immunity, allowing her to return to India," Trumka said in a statement.
08:48  Kejriwal's minister was indicted for tampering with proof:  Somnath Bharti, the law minister in Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's cabinet, was once indicted for tampering with evidence by a court in Patiala. 

According to a report in the Times of India, a CBI special judge had indicted Bharti and his client Pawan Kumar after the agency accused them of trying to influence a prosecution witness.

Bharti had allegedly spoken to the prosecution witness and discussed the case.

Pawan Kumar was, ironically, being tried on corruption charges.
04:52  Voting for AAP is like voting for Congress: Kiran Bedi:  
Coming out openly against the Arvind Kejriwal-led party, former cop Kiran Bedi has said that a vote for the Aam Aadmi Party is like a vote for the Congress. 

Bedi, who is Anna Hazare's close aide, also reiterated her support for Narendra Modi as the next potential prime minister of the country.

"If you vote for AAP it means you are indirectly helping Congress through the backdoor...Modi only option," said Bedi, according to news report
04:30  Iranians welcome nuclear deal, hard-liners oppose:  
Iran's reformers and moderate conservatives have welcomed an agreement between Iran and six world powers on how to implement a nuclear deal struck in November, saying it will shore up Iran's sanctions-hit economy. Hard-liners however inside the Islamic Republic remain opposed.

The six-nation group -- the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany -- and Iran agreed to start implementing the terms of the historic interim deal from Jan 20. That will start a six-month clock for a final deal to be struck over Tehran's contested nuclear program.

Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of the parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said that enforcing the deal opens new windows for Iran and paves the way for expanding its economic dealings with the outside world. 

"By enforcing the deal, there will be some openings for Iran's economy and restrictions will be eased," said Boroujerdi, a moderate conservative. "Economic sanctions will reduce and the way will be paved for expansion of economic activities."
04:29  Facebook grabs social network Branch:  
Facebook today confirmed that it has grabbed a hold of Branch, a social network that focuses providing online forums for insightful conversations. 

Terms of the deal were not released, but some reports estimated the price at $15 million.

"I am thrilled to announce that we will be continuing our mission at Facebook," Branch co-founder and chief executive Josh Miller wrote in a blog post that he said was fired off while vacationing at a mountain locale in Japan. 

Miller wrote that the New York City-based startup's twin social networks, Branch and Potluck, will continue to operate independently but its nine-member team will form a Facebook Conversations group. 

The group's goal will be to help Facebook users connect in meaningful exchanges based on interests, according to Miller.
04:28  World's smallest water lily stolen:  
A plant thief has stolen one of the few surviving examples of the world's smallest water lily, which is extinct in the wild, from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in London, police said today. 

The tiny 'Nymphaea Thermarum' was stolen on Thursday from the Princess of Wales Conservatory, a giant glass house at the gardens in the southwest of the capital, a Scotland Yard statement said. 

"Officers have been informed that the plant would have had to have been dug, or pulled up, from a shallow water lily pond," the force said. 

Richard Barley, director of horticulture at Kew Gardens, said the theft was a "blow to morale" of his staff who are "dedicated to the conservation of plants". 

"We take theft of our invaluable scientific collection of plants very seriously and this matter is with the Metropolitan Police," he added.
00:49  No one will be forced to install 'faulty' meter: Kejriwal:  
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today said people will not be forced to install a "faulty" meter and they can get any of the authorized meters available in the market inducted in their water connection. 

"I have asked the Delhi Jal Board officials to examine the meters. Meter sample has also been sent. Moreover, I have directed them not to force anyone to use this particular meter," Kejriwal said. 

He was replying to reports of meters, which were declared faulty by him during his protest against inflated water bills last year, being installed by the Delhi Jal Board. 

Kejriwal also urged people to install meter to avail the incentive on pipeline water supply by the Delhi Jal Board. 

"Incentive of free 20 kilo liter per month to each household will encourage people to install meter. Earlier, people were not serious about meter. Now it will give them an incentive to install meter to avail free water," he said. 
00:49  Celll phone services to be suspended in Pak today:  
Cellular phone services will remain suspended in many parts of Pakistan on Tuesday as the government beefed up security arrangements ahead of Rabi-ul-Awwal, the Birthday of the Holy Prophet Mohammad.

Hundreds and thousands of Muslims will celebrate and take out processions and hold special prayers when Rabi-ul-Awwal will be observed throughout the country. 

The provincial governments of Sindh and Balochistan have announced that cellular phone services will remain suspended from early morning to late night while a ban has already been imposed on pillon riding in Karachi and Quetta.

The government on advice of security agencies and law enforcement agencies have made it a practice to suspend mobile phone services on days when major religious congregations and events are held.

A security official said such measures were necessary as intelligence agencies had information about possible attacks on religious processions and congregations. 
00:48  Cristiano Ronaldo wins FIFA best footballer award:  
Cristiano Ronaldo has been named the best player in the world for the second time after 2008 by carrying off the FIFA Ballon d'Or award, while German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer has claimed her first women's prize. 

Jupp Heynckes, the former coach of Bayern Munich, and Germany's women's national team coach Silvia Neid have taken home the FIFA World Coach of the Year awards for men's and women's football respectively. 

The award winners, who were voted for by national team coaches and captains as well as by the international media representatives selected by FIFA and French football magazine France Football, were announced at the FIFA Ballon d'Or ceremony at the Kongresshaus in Zurich today
00:41  Top headlines at this hour:  Kumar Vishwas mocks Rahul's visits to Dalit homes, then apes him

Sri Lankan courts order release of 163 fishermen

No help from FBI on Dawood, Shinde is lying: Former Union Secy

Hockey World League Finals: Spirited India hold Germany to a draw

ED questions Yash Birla on overseas financial transactions

Kejriwal rescinds approval to FDI in multi-brand retail

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