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February 16, 2017

22:48  Senate confirms Trump budget chief:  
The Senate today confirmed President Donald Trump's pick to run the White House budget office, giving the Republicans' tea party wing a voice in Trump's Cabinet.

South Carolina Rep Mick Mulvaney squeaked through the Senate on a 51-49 vote. Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, who's emerging as perhaps the most vocal critic of the Trump administration, opposed Mulvaney for past House votes supporting cuts to Pentagon spending.

"Mulvaney has spent his last six years in the House of Representatives pitting the national debt against our military," McCain said.

Mulvaney's confirmation promises to accelerate work on Trump's upcoming budget plan, which is overdue. That's typical at the beginning of an administration.

But there is also the need to complete more than $1 trillion in unfinished spending bills for the ongoing budget year, as well as transmit Trump's request for a quick start on his oft-promised U.S.-Mexico border wall and tens of billions of dollars in emergency cash for the military.
22:28  UN insists two-state solution remains 'only way':  
The two-state solution remains "the only way" to meet the aspirations of the Palestinians and Israelis, the UN envoy for the Middle East peace process told the Security Council today. 

The council met to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a day after President Donald Trump stepped back from the US commitment to a two-state solution as part of a final peace deal. 

"The two-state solution remains the only way to achieve the legitimate national aspirations of both peoples," Nickolay Mladenov told the council.

"Some may hold the illusion that the conflict can be 'managed' indefinitely," Mladenov said. "That the absence of a clear strategy to advance peace is a strategy in itself." 

The envoy urged Israeli and Palestinian leaders to "carefully contemplate the future," which he warned could be one "built on perpetual conflict, rising extremism and 

Trump announced yesterday that the United States would not insist on a two-state solution to the conflict, in a break from Washington's decades-old policy and from the international consensus on the peace process. 

"I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I'm very happy with the one that both parties like," Trump said. "I can live with either one." 
22:07  Time's latest Trump cover: 'Nothing to see here':  
Time magazine is marking President Donald Trumps first month in office with a cover story about the mounting chaos in the White House.

This week's cover shows Trump sitting in the Oval Office, with dark clouds gathering overhead and winds blowing his hair and signature long tie askew.

The cover reads: "Nothing to See Here."

The cover art reflects an article published Thursday, titled "Inside Donald Trump's White House chaos."

"In the first month of his presidency, the New York billionaire has witnessed the lesson of Samson: toppling the temple can be painful if you try it from the inside," the article reads.

The article in Time notes that the "drama will not soon end."

"The past few weeks have been remarkable for many reasons, but without a clear change in correction, more tumult awaits," the article says.
21:53  Hafiz Saeed's request a matter between him, Pak handlers: India:  
India today said Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed's request for removal of his name from a list that bars him from leaving Pakistan is a matter concerning him and his handlers there. 

"It is between Hafiz Saeed and his handlers in Pakistan. Our view is that he is internationally proscribed terrorist who had engaged in numerous acts of terrorism not only directed at India... and he needs to be brought to justice as soon as possible," MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.

In a letter to Pakistan Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Saeed, the mastermind of 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack, in which 166 people died, asked the Pakistan government to immediately remove his name from a list that bars him from leaving the country, claiming he was neither a security risk nor his outfit ever engaged in terrorist activities.
21:48  Sasikala elected gen sec in violation of norms: OPS camp to EC:  
The O Panneerselvam faction of the AIADMK today moved the Election Commission challenging the election of V K Sasikala as general secretary of the party, saying she was elevated in violation of the norms. 

A 12-member delegation of the faction led by Rajya Sabha MP V Maitreyan met Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi and other top officials, and submitted a memorandum demanding that it decline approval to her elevation to the top party post.

In its 42-page petition, the delegation claimed Sasikala's election was violative of the party constitution as she was chosen by the general council of the party and not the primary members. 

It said the general council was empowered to frame policies and programmes, and not elect someone as generalsecretary.

The representation also quoted clause 30 (V) of the party constitution to say that a person was required to be a primary member of the party for five years for being eligible for the post. 

The Panneersalvam camp said she was expelled from the party on December 19, 2011 and taken back in March the next year, resulting in a break in her primary membership.

Panneerselvam, the outgoing Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, expelled from AIADMK by Sasikala, has claimed she lacked necessary powers to sack him.
21:44  ISIL claims responsibility for attack targeting Sufi Muslims in Pakistan's Lal Shahbaz Qalandar: Reuters
21:43  Trump vows to catch 'leakers', demands apology from media:  
US President Donald Trump today vowed that those responsible for leaking "illegal classified" information that has fueled a string of damaging news reports on his administration "will be caught" and demanded that major American publications carrying such stories should apologise. 

"Leaking, and even illegal classified leaking, has been a big problem in Washington for years," Trump tweeted. 

"'Failing' New York Times and other publications 'must apologise'!" the US President demanded. 

In a series of tweets, Trump attacked the mainstream American media for being unfairly critical of him and his policies.

"The spotlight has finally been put on the low-life leakers! They will be caught!" he said.

"FAKE NEWS media, which makes up stories and 'sources', is far more effective than the discredited Democrats -- but they are fading fast!" Trump said in another tweet.

Since his campaign, the US President has been attacking the mainstream American media. At times, he even denied credentials to some of the top US dailies like The Washington Post and called CNN as Clinton News Network.
21:25  PM calls up CM Palaniswami to congratulate him:  
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tonight called up Edappadi K Palaniswami to congratulate him on taking over as Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.

"Spoke to Thiru Edappadi K Palaniswami & congratulated him on taking over as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu," Modi tweeted.

The Prime Minister made the phone call hours after Palaniswami, a V K Sasikala loyalist, was sworn-in as the Chief Minister, ending 10-day political uncertainty in Tamil Nadu which had begun with caretaker CM O Panneerselvam's revolt against the AIADMK general secretary.

Governor C Vidyasagar Rao administered the oath of office and secrecy to 63-year-old Palaniswami, a party veteran from western Tamil Nadu, at the head of a 31-member Cabinet at a ceremony in the Raj Bhavan this evening. 

Palaniswami is the third person to occupy the top post in the last nine months. 
20:55  ED arrests Zakir Naik aide in PMLA case:  
Aamir Gazdar, a close aide of controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, was today arrested by ED in connection with its probe in a money laundering case against him and others. 

Officials said Gazdar, director in certain firms under scanner in this case, was arrested late evening by the Enforcement Directorate under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). 

"Gazdar, a close confidante of Naik, was put under arrest around 7:30 PM today. He will be produced in a court tomorrow for further custody," an official said.

Gazdar (50), officials said, was called for questioning at the ED's office here and was arrested as he was allegedly "not cooperating" with the investigators.

Officials claimed the agency suspects that Gazdar allegedly handled cash funds and transactions worth Rs 200 crore on behalf of Naik and his NGO Islamic Research Foundation.
20:54  MHA again returns Delhi bill on 400 pc salary hike for MLAs:  
A Delhi government bill to give the national capital MLAs a 400 per cent salary hike besides hefty increase in perks and allowances has been returned the second time by the Home Ministry seeking more clarifications. 

The Member of Legislative Assembly of NCT of Delhi (salaries, allowances, pension etc) Amendment Bill has been sent back to the Delhi government as more clarity is required on a number of issues, sources in the home ministry said.

The home ministry is believed to have objected to the proposed huge jump in the salary and allowances of the Delhi MLAs saying the burden on exchequer would not be commensurate to the revenues of the city government. 

As per the bill, the basic salary of MLAs is proposed to be increased from current Rs 12,000 to Rs 50,000 and their overall monthly package to Rs 2.1 lakh as against existing Rs 88,000, which will make Delhi legislators the highest paid lawmakers in the country.

This was for the second time the home ministry has returned the bill to the Delhi government.
20:32  Sindh: Blast in Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine kills 12:  
At least 12 people have reportedly died and scores wounded in an explosion at the Sufi shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar at Sehwan town in Pakistan's Sindh province.

The death toll is feared to go up as many of the injured are in critical condition.

Pakistani media reports said the explosion took place at the spot where the dhamaal (Sufi ritual) was being performed, within the premises of the shrine.

At the time of the blast, there were thousands of people gathered at the spot to view the performance. 

The shrine is frequented by thousands of devotees and pilgrims, especially on Thursdays.

"Ambulances from Hyderabad and Jamshoro have been sent to Sehwan. The town has a taluka hospital but it is not equipped with a trauma centre to deal with emergency cases," in-charge Edhi Foundation Mairaj Ahmed told The Express Tribune.
20:18  Stalin greets Palaniswamy, tells him not to get "operated remotely":  
DMK Working President M K Stalin today greeted Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on his taking over the top post.

He also asked him not to "get operated remotely" from Bengaluru, in an apparent reference to AIADMK chief V K Sasikala.

Extending his greetings to Palaniswami, Stalin, also the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, said he "should not seek consultations from Bengaluru prison," and see that the oath of office and secrecy he has taken today, according to the Constitution, is not infringed upon.

Palaniswami must not run the government according to the whims and fancies of "power centres here and at Bengaluru," he said and asked him to work for the people's welfare.
20:16  Scuffle outside Panneerselvam's residence:  
Tense moments prevailed in front of former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam's residence in Chennai for a while this evening when a minor scuffle broke out between his supporters and those of Law Minister C Ve Shanmugam. 

A policeman and a supporter of Panneerselvam were injured in stone pelting, allegedly by the supporters of Shanmugam. 

Former Minister K P Munusamy, a Panneerselvam supporter, rued the incident saying, "every supporter is part of the AIADMK family".

Police present at the venue brought the situation under control and removed the supporters of either side from the vicinity, police said.

Munuswamy said over the last few days, several cadres and public were visiting the former Chief Minister's house expressing solidarity and not even a small hitch was witnessed so far.

"But within an hour of new Ministers being sworn-in under the leadership of Edappadi K Palaniswami, AIADMK supporters here were attacked. I do not know how they are going to maintain law and order in the state. They have attacked their own party cadres. Why are you being so vindictive?" he said.
20:03  Pak President gets licence to drive in Islamabad:  
If Pakistan's President Mamnoon Hussain decides to drive now he won't be challaned. 

The president, whose previous licence from Karachi had expired, visited Islamabad Traffic Police Office like a common citizen and got his driving licence renewed yesterday. 

Hussain was issued a token, 0441, and went through the routine procedures required for getting a driving licence. He answered requisite questions, The Express Tribune reported. 

His previous licence from Karachi had expired and was renewed from Islamabad after an NOC was issued by the Karachi Traffic Police as per law that there were no pending tickets or challans against him. 

Inspector General of Police Islamabad Tariq Masood Yasin briefed Hussain about the working of the ITP office and the steps that were being taken to facilitate the general public. 
20:02  Passengers to pay about 15 per cent more for Antodaya Express:  
General passengers will have to shell out about 15 per cent more than the existing fare for travelling in Antodaya Express, the fully unreserved superfast service to be launched shortly in dense routes. 

Equipped with facilities like water purifiers, mobile phone charging points and fire extinguishers among others, the first Antodaya Express is slated to be pressed into service from Mumbai for Tatanagar this month. 

Provided with bio-toilets for zero discharge of effluents, Antodaya coaches will have toilet occupation indication lights provided at each end near the doorway with better visibility from compartments, a first in general class. 

Two rakes of Antodaya Express are ready now to be rolled out on the high demand long-route destinations, a senior Railway Ministry official said.

While one will be launched between Mumbai and Tata, the second is slated to be between Ernakulam and Howrah, another busy route.

However, the official said the fare for Antodaya Express is likely to be slightly higher than the mail/express fares. The fare structure has not been finalised yet but it will be between 10 per cent to 15 per cent more from the regular fare, he said.
20:01  Former RAW chief Rajinder Khanna appointed OSD in NSCS:  
Rajinder Khanna, former chief of the country's external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing, was today appointed Officer on Special Duty in the National Security Council Secretariat.

The National Security Council, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval as its Secretary, is the apex body on all internal and external security-related matters.

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet headed by Modi has approved the appointment of Khanna as OSD (Neighbourhood Studies) in the Council's secretariat on contract basis for a period of one year, an official order said. 

Neighbourhood Studies prepares policy papers of neighbouring countries including Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Khanna was appointed R&AW chief in December 2014 for a fixed two-year period and was recently succeeded by Anil Dasmana.
19:52  Palaniswamy to face vote trust on Saturday:  
Tamil Nadu assembly secretary Jamaludeen says vote of confidence will take place on February 18.

On Wednesday, the Sasikala camp -- now led by the CM -- had claimed the support of 124 MLAs.

Palaniswami was sworn in as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu along with his cabinet after being invited by the governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao to form government on Thursday.

Palaniswami, a four-time MLA from Salem, was handpicked by Sasikala to lead the party after her conviction by the Supreme Court in a 21-year-old corruption case. The AIADMK has been battling a power tussle after Panneerselvam revolted against Sasikala last week. 
19:05  Will prove majority, says new Tamil CM Palaniswami :  
Sasikalas nominee Edappadi Palaniswami said he will prove majority support in the Tamil Nadu assembly after being sworn in. On Wednesday, the Sasikala camp -- now led by the CM -- had claimed the support of 124 MLAs.

Palaniswami was sworn in as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu along with his cabinet after being invited by the governor Ch Vidyasagar Rao to form government on Thursday.

Palaniswami, a four-time MLA from Salem, was handpicked by Sasikala to lead the party after her conviction by the Supreme Court in a 21-year-old corruption case. The AIADMK has been battling a power tussle after Panneerselvam revolted against Sasikala last week. 
18:13  New Tamil CM Palaniswami visits Jaya memorial:  After being sworn in as the Tamil Nadu chief minister, Edappadi K Palaniswami made his way to Marina Beach to pay his tributes as the Jayalalithaa memorial. 

Reports said that during the swearing-in, supporters of newly appointed minister CV Shanmugham clash with O Panneerselvam aides. 

It was also reported that Palaniswami and his cabinet of ministers would also visit Bengaluru prison to meet VK Sasikala. 
17:54  India, China to hold strategic talks in Beijing on Feb 22:  India and China will hold first round of strategic dialogue on February 22 in Beijing, the ministry of external affairs has announced.   

Saying that India and China have some friction points, the ministry said the aim of the dialogue is to see how both the countries can accommodate each other's concerns and interests. 
17:49  Akhilesh does 'kaam ki baat' not 'mann ki baat': Dimple:  
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is more interested in doing "kaam ki baat" (practical work) rather than "mann ki baat", SP candidate and his wife Dimple Yadav said today in an apparent dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's monthly radio address 'Mann Ki Baat'.

"Akhilesh Yadav mann ki baat nahi karte, balki kaam ki baat karte hain (Akhilesh Yadav believes in action rather than just words). The people should vote him to power again so that Uttar Pradesh continues to be on the development path," she said at a rally in Arya Nagar constituency.

Drawing parallels between BSP and BJP, Dimple said, "While BSP supremo Mayawati was responsible for lining up elephant statues in parks during her tenure, the BJP government at the Centre forced people to line up in front of banks in the wake of its demonetisation policy."

"In either case, it was the people who were at the receiving end," she said.

Dimple, who is contesting the crucial state assembly polls from Kannauj constituency, also claimed that the ruling party had fulfilled most of the promises made in the Samajwadi Party manifesto in the 2012 polls.
17:33  MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup appointed envoy to Canada:   MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup appointed as High Commissioner of lndia to Canada.

Swarup is a writer and diplomat is the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs of India. He is best known as the author of the novel Q & A, adapted in film as Slumdog Millionaire, the winner of Best Film for the year 2009 at the Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards and BAFTA Awards.

Swarup joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1986 and served in Turkey, the United States, Ethiopia, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Japan in various Indian diplomatic missions.

His other novels are Six Suspects and The Accidental Apprentice. In April 2015, he was appointed as the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs of India to head its Public Diplomacy divisions at New Delhi, succeeding Syed Akbaruddin.

According to reports, Gopal Bagley, Joint Secretary (Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan), will take over as the spokesperson of the ministry of external affairs. 
17:14  Canadian professor discovers what could be only footage of Marcel Proust:  A Canadian university professor claims to have found the only existing moving picture of French writer Marcel Proust. The black-and-white footage of a wedding cortge filmed in 1904 shows a brief glimpse of a man in his 30s with a neat moustache, wearing a bowler hat and pearl-grey formal suit, descending a flight of stairs on his own. Most of the other guests are in couples. Read more
16:48  Edappadi Palaniswami sworn in as Tamil Nadu CM :   Just in: Edappadi k Palaniswami being sworn in as Tamil Nadu's next chief minister. TN Governor Vidyasagar Rao administers the oath of office and the oath of secrecy.

CNN News 18 reports that Sasikala's nephew, the AIADMK deputy general secretary will not be given an ministerial berth. Thirty-one ministers will be sworn in today along with Palaniswami.

AIADMK on the ball with the announcement: @AIADMKOfficial All set for the swearing in ceremony at Raj Bhavan. #AmmaWins.

The 31 ministers are being sworn-in in batches in unison. 
16:27  DMK welcomes governors invite to Palaniswami to form govt:  DMK on Thursday welcomed the Tamil Nadu Governor's invitation to AIADMK Legislature Party Leader Edappadi K Palaniswami to form the government, and urged him to monitor the situation "to prevent horse trading'. Party Working President and Opposition Leader M K Stalin apprehended that the 15-day time given to Palaniswami to seek the vote of confidence in the Tamil Nadu Assembly could lead to large-scale "horse-trading'.
15:58  Ministers in the new Cabinet
15:57  The list of ministers to be inducted in Palaniswami's cabinet 
15:56  31 ministers in Tamil Nadu's new Cabinet :  AIADMK's Edappadi Palaniswami, party chief VK Sasikala's proxy, will take oath of office at 4 pm today as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister. Taking oath with him will be a 31-member cabinet. Palaniswami will be the state's third CM in the last three months. He replaces O Panneerselvam, whose portfolios have been allotted to other leaders. The new chief minister has been given 15 days by Governor C Vidyasagar Rao to prove he has majority support in the state legislature.

See the images for the full list of ministers.

15:37  Just in: Team OPS meeting with EC officials is over.  
14:39  Govt welcomes Army Chief's assertion against anti-national elements in J-K :  The BJP-led NDA regime on Thursday welcomed Army Chief General Bipin Rawat's strict message to anti-national elements in Jammu and Kashmir while asserting that the ruling dispensation at the Centre is clear on its policy of zero tolerance towards terrorism.

Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said the Army Chief's assertion is in national interest, adding national interest is supreme.

"Anybody who acts against it will be treated as someone who has not done his duty," Rijiju told ANI.

Echoing similar emotions, Minister of State in Prime Minister's Office (PMO) Jitendra Singh lauded the armed forces for protecting the nation with utmost sincerity and dedication.

"If we are safe today and we are able to carry our daily activities according to our wishes merrily because we are safely guarded by our security forces. It is in the interest of the army that no interference is made in its work," Singh said.

"We sleep when they wake. When we eat, they stay hungry. Therefore, we owe to the Indian Army and we should allow them to perform their task and their responsibilities professionally to the best of their wisdom and ability," he added.

Reiterating the government's stand on zero tolerance towards terrorism, Singh said: "The attempt to intimidate youth is now even known by them. Perpetrators of terrorism also need to be brought to book".

The Army Chief yesterday issued a stern warning against anti-national elements.

"The people who have picked up arms, the local boys, if they want to continue with such acts of terrorism and display flags of the ISIS and Pakistan then we will treat them as anti-national elements," he said while paying his tribute to the bravehearts of the Handwara and Bandipora encounters.
14:25  Palaniswami holds meet at Poes Garden, OPS vows to hit back :  Just in: OPS supporter sets himself on fire over the upcoming appointment of Sasikala-nominee Edappadi Palaniswami as the next CM. There is a lot of anger and anguish at the imminent control of Sasikala's family over the government. Her nephew TTK Dinakaran is likely to get a ministerial berth, a day after he was made a deputy general secretary of the party.  A PIL has also been filed in Madras High Court against Palaniswami's swearing-in, as well. 

And finally, the 124 MLAs who were closeted at the Golden Bay resort near Chennai will leave the resort today. They have been there since February 9.

Palaniswami is now holding a meeting at Poes Garden.
13:57  Anyone for payasam? Victorious AIADMK party workers dole out the South Indian dessert outside Golden Bay Resort where MLA's loyal to Sasikala have been staying to prevent a defection to the OPS camp.
13:43  Sasi's nephew Dinakaran to be minister in Palaniswami govt :  Meanwhile, back in Tamil Nadu, AIADMK workers and supporters distribute payassam (a rice-milk dessert) outside Golden Bay Resort, after E Palaniswami is set to take over as CM.

India Today reports that Sasikala's nephew TTK Dinakaran, who was appointed deputy general secretary by her, will be a minister in the Palaniswami cabinet.

And O Panneerselvam clearly will not give up. Addressing the media, he said he will not allow the party to go into the hands of few of VK Sasikala's family members. "Till we install Amma's rule again in TN, we'll continue to fight the "dharma yudham".
13:30  Hafiz Saeed tells Pak govt to remove his name from travel ban list:  Hafiz Saeed, chief of terror group Jamaat-ud-Dawa has told the Government of Pakistan to immediately remove his name from a list that bars him from leaving the country. He claimed that he is not a security risk.

In a letter to Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack, in which 166 people died, said: "A memorandum issued on January 30, 2017 placing 38 individuals should be withdrawn forthwith."

The government last month put Hafiz Saeed and 37 others of his terror outfits on the Exit Control List, preventing them from leaving the country. It also put Hafiz Saeed and four others under "house arrest" for 90 days for engaging in activities "prejudicial" to peace and security.

Additionally, the interior ministry put Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Falah-e-Insaniyat on a "watch-list" for six months. 
13:08  Team OPS moves EC against Sasikala, Palaniswami to be sworn in at 4 pm:   AIADMK MP Dr V Maitreyan from O Panneerselvam's faction to meet Election Commission officials in Delhi at 2.45 pm. The OPS camp has moved the EC against Sasikala's appointment as AIADMK general secretary. If the EC decides to rule against Sasikala, her decision to expel Panneerselvam from the party's primary membership stands null and void.

Earlier today, Governor Vidyasagar Rao  gave the mandate to Edappadi Palaniswami to form the government. The governor has asked him to seek a vote of confidence of the Tami Nadu Assembly within 15 days.

Meanwhile, at the Golden Bay Resorts, AIADMK supporters sloganeering in support of VK Sasikala.
12:33   The Raj Bhavan press release confirming Edappadi K Palaniswami as CM designate.  
12:22  The man who will be CM:  So, who is Edapadi Palanisami?

From an ordinary party member to the leader of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam legislature party, Edappadi K Palaniswami has come a long way.

Amid the bitter turf war between AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala and chief minister O Panneerselvam, the 63-year-old loyalist of late J Jayalalithaa was elected leader of AIADMK legislature party to facilitate his elevation as Tamil Nadu chief minister.

"He was an unwavering loyalist of late Jayalalithaa, and chose to side with V K Sasikala after O Panneerselvam revolted against the interim general secretary," a close aide of Palaniswami told PTI.

Read more
12:18  The AIADMK makes it official.
12:18  TN Governor invites Sasikala's pick Palanisami to form govt:   Just in: Edapadi Palanisami to be sworn in as Tamil Nadu CM. Governor Vidyasagar Rao has invited Sasikala-nominee Palanisami to form the government and has given him 15 days to prove his majority. He will be sworn-in at 4 pm today at the Raj Bhavan, in a low-key affair.

The Sasikala camp has claimed the support of 124 MLAs and the governor has gone by numbers and not public sentiment, which is against the Palanisami camp.
11:47  The ancient story behind Sasikala's promise of vengeance :  There is a scene in Kalki's Ponniyin Selvan in which the loyalists of the Pandya king meet at midnight at Pallipadai temple -- a temple raised over the body of the leader -- and take a pledge to destroy the Cholas. The action of AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala slamming the memorial slab laid in honour of late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's Tuesday morning, invoked this ancient Tamil ritual of "Vanjinam Uraithal' (Avenging). Read the full story here.

11:43  Palanisami reaches Raj Bhavan for meeting with governor :   Sasikala nominee Edapadi Palanisami and four MLAs have reached Raj Bhavan. Governor Vidyasagar Rao invited Palanisami with four MLAs to Raj Bhavan at 11:30 today. However, reports say that this is not an invitation to form government. Ministers Jayakumar, KA Sengottaiyan, SP Velumani, TT Dinakaran (deputy general secretary and Sasikala's nephew), KP Anbazhagan also part of Palanisami's delegation at Raj Bhavan.

The Tamil Nadu Governor heard competing pitches last night from within the ruling party of the state over who should be the Chief Minister.

The governor first met with Palanisamy, who claimed the support of 124 MLAs. Next up was Panneerselvam, who said he had 11 MLAs.

Both want to take a trust vote in the legislature and presented the Governor with a list of legislators supporting them.
11:07  Palanisami en route to meet governor :  E Palanisami has left Golden Bay Resorts in Kuvathur with four MLAs. Headed to Raj Bhavan to meet Governor Vidyasagar Rao for the 11:30 am appointment. Palanisami met the MLAs sequestered at the resort for over nine days this morning.
10:59  TN governor invites Sasikala nominee Palanisami for 11:30 meet :   So it begins. Tamil Nadu governor Vidyasagar Rao invites Sasikala's CM pick Edapadi Palanisami for a meeting at 11:30 am. He will be accompanied by four MLAs.

The AIADMK tweeted: Honourable Governor invites AIADMK's legislature party leader Thiru. Edapadi K.Palanisamy. #Amma's Victory.

The governor met both teams -- Edapadi Palanisami (claims support of 124 MLAs) and O Panneerselvam (claims support o 11 MLAs, but says most MLAs cloistered at the Golden Bay resort are actually on his side). The huge exodus he expected after Sasikala's conviction has not happened as yet.

Team Sasikala has maintained that it will be invited by the governor to form government today and has accused the governor of "inordinate delay." The AIADMK  launched an online campaign yesterday asking the public to complain in writing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the delay, which it alleges, allowed Panneerselvam to engineer defections.

The Hindu says that Palanisami might be invited to form the government as the the Governor was "more receptive" to their demands during the meeting last night.

Both sides want to take a trust vote in the legislature and presented the Governor with a list of legislators supporting them.

Setting aside on earlier Karnataka High Court order, a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court earlier on Tuesday convicted AIADMK general secretary V.K. Sasikala Natarajan in connection with a 19-year old disproportionate assets case.

She has been ordered to surrender to the law enforcement authorities immediately to serve the remainder of her four-year jail term. She also will not be able to contest elections for 10 years or hold public office.

File pic. Edapadi Palanisami with Governor Vidyasagar Rao
10:32  Exit poll: Fixed responsiblity for breach, Dainik Jagran tells poll officer:  Dainik Jagran has written to the Uttar Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), stating that the exit poll uploaded on its website on February 11 was approved by Varun Sharma, deputy editor of Jagran's English website and "appropriate action' has been initiated against him.

According to sources, Ashutosh Shukla, Dainik Jagran's state editor in UP, wrote to the CEO Tuesday, clarifying that the editorial team of the newspaper had nothing to do with the decision to carry the exit poll. He also informed that the management had taken note of the "breach' and Sharma was held responsible.  Read more
10:29  Liquor ban outside Bihar too for govt babus :  Bihar bureaucrats and judicial officers cannot consume liquor or any intoxicating substance even when outside the state, which is under total prohibition, and would face departmental proceedings if they do so. The state cabinet today issued fresh conduct rules for government servants - right from Group A to Group D - and judicial officers in a bid to tighten the enforcement of the Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016.  Read more
10:15  Night on floor, tamarind rice for breakfast: Sasikala in jail :  The morning after: AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala, who is now known as prisoner number 9324 slept on the floor of her prison cell at Bengaluru Central jail.

She reached jail yesterday evening after a rebuke from the Supreme Court over her tardiness in surrendering to the court after she was convicted on Tuesday.

The 61-year-old chief of Tamil Nadu's ruling AIADMK is sharing a cell with two other women, one of them her sister-in-law Ilavarasi, who was also convicted by the Supreme Court in the same disproportionate assets case.

While Sasikala has asked for the facilities of a Class I prisoner -- a television set, home-cooked food and non-vegetarian meals twice a week, a cot and a fan -- she was refused the request. However, a decision on providing her a cot to sleep on will be taken by doctors today.

Jail officials told NDTV that Sasikala had a breakfast of tamarind rice with chutney and meditated for a few minutes.

Unconfirmed reports also say that she has been assigned candle-making in jail.

Sasikala has already spent three weeks in the same prison in 2014, along with former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who was Accused No 1 in the case.

Sasikala, who took charge of the AIADMK after Jayalalithaa's death in December has attempted to secure her hold over the party by inducting her family and loyalists in key positions. She picked loyalist E Palanisamy for Chief Ministerial candidate, and brought back two nephews who had been expelled by Jayalalithaa in 2011.
09:52  Neither OPS, nor Palanisamy called to form govt: Reports:  News agency ANI quoting Raj Bhavan sources says as of now, neither O Panneerselvam nor Edapadi Palanisamy have been called to form government in Tamil Nadu.

This negates reports that Governor C Vidyasagar Rao is expected to decide by this afternoon who will take oath as Tamil Nadu's next Chief Minister.

Reports, since last  night, say it is likely that Palanisamy, the legislative assembly leader appointed by VK Sasikala before she was packed off to jail, will be asked to be CM.

The Governor first met Palanisamy and then OPS yesterday, with both sides staking claim to form government. Palanisamy has claimed support of 124 MLAs, while Panneerselvam has the support of 11. Both want to take a trust vote in the legislature and presented the Governor with a list of legislators supporting them.

Governor Rao, who was on Monday advised by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi to convene a special session of the legislative assembly within a week for holding a composite floor test, is yet to take a call on whom to invite to form the government first or to go for a trial of strength in the assembly.

The Governor had earlier kept his decision pending as the verdict in the disproportionate assets case against AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala, a claimant for chief ministership, was due to be announced by the Supreme Court, which delivered it on Tuesday, restoring her conviction and sentence, which shattered her hopes of occupying the top seat.

09:41  Trump calls for release of Venezuela opposition leader:   US President Donald Trump has called on Venezuela to free jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez "immediately," posting a picture of himself and Vice President Mike Pence with Lopez's wife at the White House.

"Venezuela should allow Leopoldo Lopez, a political prisoner & husband of @liliantintori (just met w/ @marcorubio) out of prison immediately," Trump tweeted, along with the photo (alongside), which also features Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Lopez, the founder of Popular Will, one of the most hardline of the parties opposing Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, is serving a 14-year prison term on charges of inciting unrest at anti-government protests that left 43 people dead in 2014.

The meeting with Tintori was sure to enrage Maduro, who is already fuming over sanctions slapped on his powerful Vice President Tareck El Aissami, whom US authorities accuse of being involved in drug trafficking.
08:35  Anil Ambani flies sortie in Rafale:  Reliance Group's Anil Ambani on Wednesday took to the skies for a sortie in the French Rafale fighter jet aircraft at the Aero India 2017 airshow at Yelahanka airbase Bengaluru.

The 30-minute sortie was a low level flight with a vertical climb starting from 1,000 feet going up to 6,000 metres and with supersonic run and multiple envelopes.

"This is a proud moment for any Indian to have flown the world's most advanced fighter aircraft. I look forward to an opportunity to make these aircraft under 'Make in India' and serve our Nation, the Air Force and Navy," Ambani said.

Reliance Defence has set up a joint venture with Rafale manufacturer Dassault Aviation for the execution of offset obligations under the 36 Rafale aircraft deal for the Indian Air Force at a value of 7.87 billion euros or about Rs 59,000 crore.

Ambani, a regular marathoner with a strict fitness regime, was kitted in flying overalls, G suit, Arme de l'Air jacket torso harness, flying boots and helmet with oxygen mask, sources at the five-day show said.

Photograph: Shailendra Bhojak/PTI Photo
08:17  Germany: Reports of 'mass sexual assault by immigrants' were 'baseless':  A widely-reported story about a rioting sex mob of immigrants assaulting women on New Years Eve in Frankfurt, Germany, has been exposed as baseless after investigation by police.

The German newspaper Bild, which originally reported the claims, has apologised for what it said was a false report, which was based on the now disputed claims of a pub owner and some of their staff.

Read more
01:11  Iran will never get a N-bomb, Trump promises Israel:  
President Donald Trump hailed the United States' "unbreakable" bond with Israel today and promised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Iran would never be permitted to build a nuclear weapon. 

Trump's vow was designed to address Israeli concerns over the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, which Netanyahu has warned expires too soon to permanently remove the threat.

"With this visit the United States, again, reaffirms our unbreakable bond with our cherished ally, Israel," Trump said. 

"The security challenges faced by Israel are enormous, including the threat of Iran's nuclear ambitions, which I've talked a lot about," he said.

"One of the worst deals I've ever seen is the Iran deal. My administration has already imposed new sanctions on Iran, and I will do more to prevent Iran from ever developing -- I mean ever -- a nuclear weapon."
01:10  Yahoo issues new security warning to users:  
Yahoo is warning users of potentially malicious activity on their accounts between 2015 and 2016. 

It's the latest development in the internet company's investigation of a mega-breach that exposed 1 billion users' data several years ago.

It's not clear how many users were affected by the malicious activity, which involved the use of forged cookies -- strings of data which can be used to allow people to access online accounts without re-entering their passwords. 

Yahoo said in a statement that its investigation "has identified user accounts for which we believe forged cookies were taken or used. Yahoo is in the process of notifying all potentially affected account holders."

The company declined to say how many people were potentially affected.
01:09  Flynn treated unfairly by the media Trump:  
Two days after his National Security Advisor Gen (rtd) Michael Flynn resigned following reports that he has mislead him and Vice President Mike Pence on his talks with the Russian Ambassador, US President Donald Trump has said that Flynn was treated unfairly by the media. 

"General Flynn is a wonderful man. I think he's been treated very, very unfairly by the media, as I call it, the fake media in many cases. I think it's really a sad thing that he was treated so badly," Trump told reporters at a joint news conference with the visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"I think in addition to that from intelligence, papers are being leaked, things are being leaked, it's criminal action," he said.

Trump alleged that such illegal leaks are criminal act that has been going on for a long time. 

"But now it's really going on. People are trying to cover up for a terrible loss that the Democrats had under Hillary Clinton," he said.

"I think it's very, very unfair what's happened to General Flynn, the way he was treated and the documents and papers that were illegally -- I stress that, illegally leaked. Very, very unfair," Trump said. 
01:09  Top headlines at this hour:  Canada parole board frees Air India bomber

Coming up: An enhanced BrahMos with 450 km range

All eyes on Governor as Palanisami, OPS claim to have numbers

Sasikala, prisoner number 9435, enters jail 

Those supporting terrorists in J-K would be considered anti-national: Army chief

Cabinet okays SBI mega merger with 5 associates

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