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March 17, 2014

21:18  Rahul Gandhi to campaign in four northeastern States:  Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi will begin his campaign in the four States of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur and Mizoram for the Lok Sabha elections on Tuesday.

This is his travel program:

Tuesday, March 18:11:30 am : Public meeting at Subansiri Stadium, Ziro, District Lower Subansiri, Arunachal Pradesh

2:30 pm : Public Meeting at the Govt Boys Upper Primary School, Rasubelpara, District North Garo Hills, Meghalaya

6:00 pm: Interaction with Meghalaya Pradesh Congress Committee Office Bearers at Pine Wood, Shillong, Meghalaya

Wednesday, March at 1:30 pm: Public Meeting at the Kodomduki Ground, Wangjing, Imphal, Manipur
20:30  Militants target NATO container with rockets in NW Pakistan:  Militants today fired rockets at a NATO container in the restive tribal region in Pakistan's northwest that borders Afghanistan. No casualties were reported in the incident that took place in Khyber Agency's Shagai area.

Meanwhile, a cement factory van was blown up in a remote control bomb attack in Nowshera district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
20:24  Here are the places missing Malaysian plane could have landed:   Gawker reports: According to WNYC, there are 634 runways in range of the missing flight.

The Atlantic's Jim Fallows points out that not all of them, though, are big enough to handle a Boeing 777.

Read the full article here
19:39  Gavit will be expelled if his daughter joins BJP, warns Ajit:  Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar today warned Medical Education Minister and NCP leader from Nandurbar, Vijaykumar Gavit of expulsion from the ministry and party if his daughter gets the BJP ticket from the tribal constituency from North Maharashtra.

"If Gavit gets his daughter to contest the Lok Sabha election as a candidate of a communal party like BJP, I will write to the Chief Minister to expel him from the ministry and he will also cease to be in the NCP," Pawar told reporters.

Pawar said he was confident that Gavit will not let him take this extreme step. "Rules have to be followed by everyone," he said.
19:22  Los Angeles rattled by 4.7-magnitude earthquake:  A strongly felt earthquake has rolled across Los Angeles.The U.S. Geological Survey says the preliminary magnitude was magnitude 4.7 and was centred eight km north-northwest of the city's Westwood neighbourhood.

Read the full story here

19:02  Why does Modi need a safe seat to contest: Tarun Gogoi:  Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today questioned why BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi needed a "safe seat" to contest the Lok Sabha elections.

"If Modi is so sure about his win and there is a Modi wave in the country, then why is he looking for a safe seat? He can contest anywhere in India and win," he told reporters.

Launching an attack on BJP and Narendra Modi, Gogoi released a 'White Paper on Contributions of NDA and UPA Governments in Assam During Their Respective Periods'.

"The fact sheet will speak volumes about how the state was in a precarious situation during the tenure of NDA on various fronts. "Assam faced most injustice during the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre and it was a black chapter in the history of the state," he said.

Gogoi also accused Modi of spreading divisive politics and said he was not suitable for the Prime Minister's office to lead a pluralistic India. "As Rahul (Gandhi) said, NDA and BJP is good at marketing themselves. But Modi is now getting exposed by everyone. Mamata (Banerjee), Akhilesh (Yadav) and Aam Aadmi Party are exposing Modi," he said.
18:59  Cong-NCP form panel to sort out possible differences:  With a view to minimise the risk of rebellion and sabotage within the alliance in all the 48 Lok Sabha constituencies in Maharashtra, the ruling Congress and NCP have set up a ten-member committee to resolve differences as and when they crop up.

Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar told reporters here today that Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, state Congress president Manikrao Thackeray, senior Congress leader Harshvardhan Patil and two party ministers will represent the Congress.

From the NCP, besides Pawar himself, state NCP chief Bhaskar Jadhav, working president Jitendra Awhad, and two NCP ministers will be a part of the panel.
18:13  China's Xi to meet Obama in Netherlands:  Notwithstanding China's strong criticism of US President Barack Obama's recent meeting with the Dalai Lama, Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet his American counterpart on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in the Netherlands next week.

The bilateral meeting, the first between the two presidents this year, is significant for the further development of the China-US ties, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong said today.

Li said the two leaders will exchange views on the China-US relationship and other issues of concern. "The Chinese side will work with the US side to pursue positive outcomes at the NSS as well as the meeting between the two heads of state and instill new momentum in the push to build a new type of major-country relationship between China and the US," he said.
17:52  Lanka arrests rights activists ahead of UNHRC voting:  Sri Lankan police have arrested two rights activists under an anti-terrorism law to prevent them from spreading "communal disharmony" in the country's war-torn northern region, ahead of voting on a resolution against the country at the UNHRC.

"Two people were arrested at 10.30 last night under the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. They were acting so as to promote communal disharmony," police spokesman Ajith Rohana said.

The arrests came ahead a key meeting of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva later this month that is expected to pass a US-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka over its alleged rights abuses during the ethnic war with LTTE rebels.

Human rights groups said the arrested activists were Father Praveen, Director of the Jaffna-based Center for Peace and Reconciliation and Ruki Fernando of the Colombo-based INFORM, a human rights documentation center.

They were arrested from the northern town of Kilinochchi. The Kilinochchi's police chief said: "Ruki Fernando and Rev Praveen behaved in a suspicious manner as they visited some families of those who have lost their family members."
16:46  Crimea's parliament declares independence:  FT reportsThe crisis in Crimea escalated on Monday as the region's parliament declared the Black Sea peninsula an "independent sovereign state' and asking to be incorporated into the Russian Federation.

The announcement came hours after the region's election commission confirmed that 96.7 per cent of participants in a referendum voted to break away from Ukraine and as EU foreign ministers met to finalise sanctions on individuals linked to the crisis.

Read the full story here
16:38  Kejriwal attacking Modi only to remain in news: BJP:  Taking a dig at Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal, BJP today said he was attacking its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi only to remain in the "limelight".

"If Arvind Kejriwal wants to remain in limelight, he has to chant 'Namo Namo'. He knows that he is doing 'Modi-Modi' only to remain in news," BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said. Hussain also alleged that Kejriwal was ousted from Delhi and now he has no takers.

Neither the media nor the country takes him seriously, he said. "If he does not speak against Narendra Modi, the media would not pay any attention to him.

He has been ousted from Delhi and neither the people of the country nor the media takes him seriously. He is now doing his politics by chanting Modi's name," Hussain added.
16:01  Sena spokesperson Rahul Narvekar joins NCP:  Shiv Sena spokesman Rahul Narvekar, who recently withdrew his candidature from the legislative council elections, joined the Nationalist Congress Party today.

More details are awaited.
15:35  Obama warns Putin of 'additional costs' for Russia's actions:  US President Barack Obama has warned Vladimir Putin that the international community will never recognise the Crimea referendum to secede from Ukraine and the West is prepared to impose "additional costs" on Russia for its actions.

Obama, in a telephonic conversation with Putin yesterday after the people of Crimea -- a province of Ukraine -- overwhelmingly voted to merge with Russia, said the Crimea "referendum" not only violated the Ukrainian constitution but it also occurred under duress of the Russian military.

"He emphasised that Russia's actions were in violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and that, in coordination with our European partners, we are prepared to impose additional costs on Russia for its actions," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

The final results of the referendum in Crimea showed that 97 per cent of voters supported leaving Ukraine to join Russia.
15:11  Cong a sinking ship, even senior leaders deserting it: Jaitley:  Terming Congress a "sinking ship", senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley today said even its senior leaders have decided to desert the party while some are refusing to contest the Lok Sabha elections.

"Faced with odds, even senior leaders have decided to desert the sinking ship. Some are refusing to contest. Others are feigning ill health for not contesting," the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha wrote on his website.

Attacking Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, he said, the Congress leader "has decided to talk up the morale of his party" in these difficult times.
14:28  CM has to take responsibility for what happens in his state: Pawar:  A chief minister has to take responsibility if riots take place in a state under his watch, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said today against the backdrop of the 2002 Gujarat communal violence. "I am a chief minister and something happens in my state, I have to take the responsibility.

I cannot say no. I may not be directly involved, but as a chief minister, as a home minister, as an administrator, I think it is my responsibility to protect the interest of the citizens," he told NDTV.

He was asked about his stand on whether Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was responsible or not for the 2002 riots. On his earlier statement that Modi should no longer be held responsible for the communal violence as a court has exonerated the Gujarat chief minister, Pawar said that the decision of the court should be accepted.

"....When judiciary has said something one has to accept," Pawar said, adding that he goes according to the decision of the court.
14:25  How Hindus celebrate Holi in Pakistan:  Here is an interesting photo feature on how Hindus celebrate Holi in Pakistan. Take a look.
14:16  India is worlds biggest arms importer: Swedish think tank:  The Hindubusinessline reports: India remains the biggest buyer of arms in the world, importing nearly three times as many weapons as its nearest competitors China and Pakistan over the last five years, a Swedish think tank said today.

Read the full story here
13:56  Finally, a Plausible Scenario of What Happened to Flight 370 :  The scenario that best fits the facts is a spontaneously initiated "drastic political protest" by the captain that went awry.

Read the full article here
12:06  Curfew remains in force in parts of Bandipora in Kashmir:  Curfew remained in force in parts of Bandipora district of north Kashmir for the third day today following death of a youth in alleged police firing on Friday, even as life elsewhere in the Valley returned to normal after two days of strike and restrictions.

"Curfew remains in force in some parts of Bandipora even today," a police spokesman said. He said restrictions from other parts of the Valley including Srinagar have been lifted.

Authorities had to impose prohibitory orders on Saturday after the death of an 18-year-old youth in alleged police firing at Sumbal after the Friday prayers

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