Tue, 05 March 2013
MNS demands police protection for Nana Patekar

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23:07   MNS demands police protection for Nana Patekar

The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena has demanded police protection for Nana Patekar, apprehending a possible threat to the life of the actor who portrays a police officer in the Bollywood film "The Attacks of 26/11".        


"Nana Patekar is an asset to the country. He is a brilliant actor and the role played by him in the movie based on the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai is worth appreciating. Therefore, we demand that protection be provided to him," MNS MLA Ram Kadam told PTI.        


He said terror organisations may dislike Patekar's role in the movie and therefore the MNS perceives a threat to his life. "I have demanded police protection to Patekar from Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh and state Home Minister R R Patil," he said.

22:14   Iran ready to respond to IAEA concerns
Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, said Tuesday that the Islamic republic is ready to respond to the concerns of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) after an agreement is reached.

Talking to reporters at a weekly press briefing, Mehmanparast responded to "request" by Yukiya Amano, director-general of the IAEA, for access to Iran's military Parchin site.

Iran and the IAEA should initially agree on a "framework" in which there should be "clear" references to Iran's rights to " peaceful" nuclear activities and a response to the "alleged concerns" about Iran's nuclear program, said the Iranian spokesman.
22:13   Sistine Chapel closes as cardinals prepare to choose next pope
The Sistine Chapel has closed to visitors as all but five cardinal-electors of the Roman Catholic church pursue the "deep and unhurried process" of preparing for papal conclave, the Vatican says.

Speaking at a press briefing, the Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said that of the 115 cardinals aged under 80 who will take part in the election of a new pope 110 had now arrived in Rome. A date for the conclave had still not been set, he added.

However, logistical preparations are under way, with more than 5,000 journalists now accredited to cover the conclave and construction work at the Sistine Chapel beginning. Before the chapel plays host to the cardinal-electors, it needs a false floor, to level out the surface and hide anti-bugging devices.
21:48   Egypt's leader mulls army takeover of restive city
Egypt's Islamist president is considering whether to give the military full control of the restive Suez Canal city of Port Said after days of deadly street clashes stoked by excessive use of force by riot police, officials said today. 

A handover of the city to the military would be a recognition of the failure of Mohammed Mursi's government to bring calm to Port Said, which has been in turmoil since late January. With protests and strikes that have turned into an outright revolt, residents have been venting their fury at both the president and the security forces.
21:47   Govt proposes to lower age for consensual sex from 18 to 16
The government has proposed to lower the age for consensual sex from 18 to 16 and reintroduce the word 'rape' instead of 'sexual assault' in the new criminal law amendment bill. 

The draft of the bill has been readied by the government to replace the recently-promulgated criminal law amendment ordinance. Official sources said the Union Cabinet is expected to discuss the draft of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2013 in its next meeting.
21:45   Kerry confirms US helping train Syrian opposition
Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed to Fox News that the U.S. is training anti-Assad forces in the Syria conflict, saying Tuesday the hope is to convince President Bashar Assad to "change his current calculation." 

Kerry, speaking to Fox News in Doha, Qatar, became the first U.S. official to acknowledge the off-site training on the record. He would not go into detail about the training, describing it as "one part" of the U.S. effort and something that "a lot of countries" are doing. 

21:07   Chopper scam: CBI questions Aeromatrix CEO
The CBI today questioned Aeromatrix CEO Praveen Bakshi in connection with alleged kickbacks in the Rs 3600 crore helicopter deal purportedly sent to the company from abroad in the garb of engineering contracts.             

CBI sources said Bakshi was questioned in detail about the structure of its company, relations with alleged Italian middlemen Guido Ralph Hashcke and Carlo Gerosa and the engineering contracts with Mauritius-based firms.
20:58   Kim Jong-un 'becomes a father'
South Korean government sources have reportedly brought to an end months of speculation surrounding whether the wife of North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un recently gave birth.

Photographs of his wife Ri Sol-ju have been pored over meticulously by media around the world an attempt to determine whether the wife of the communist state's leader was recently pregnant.

The arrival of the fourth generation of the world's most famous dynastic dictatorship has now been confirmed, according to media in South Korea and the United States.
20:39   Omar refutes reports of resignations
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister today denied reports of his resigning over the killing of a youth in Baramulla, saying if his stepping down can bring a person back to life he will do so in a flash. 

Omar on micro-blogging site twitter said, "Note to others spreading rumours about my impending resignation - I haven't resigned. If my resignation could bring a person back to life I'd resign in a flash. My responsibility to the state and people is to ensure incidents like today's see justice done."
20:36   1,000 flights canceled as storm takes aim at Chicago
Nearly 1,000 flights have been canceled in Chicago as a fierce winter storm threatens to dump as much as 10 inches of wind-whipped snow in time for the evening commute.

Airlines at O'Hare International Airport have canceled more than 770 flights in advance of the storm but are so far not reporting significant delays, according to the Aviation Department.

A total of 215 flights have been canceled at Midway Airport. Dozens of schools are also closed today or are planning to close early
20:20   NDMC to install CCTV cameras in schools
Days after a seven-year-old girl was raped in a school run by it, the North Delhi Municipal Corporation today announced a series of measures including installation of CCTV cameras in its educational institutes to enhance safety and security of students. 

As part of a ten-point programme to improve security, the civic body decided to raise height of boundary walls in all its schools, besides putting in place biometric entry system for all staff of the educational institutions. The municipal body had come under severe criticism following rape of the minor girl inside a school run by it in Mangolpuri on March 1.
19:43   Bhandara: Three detained in rape-cum-murder of sisters
Three persons were today detained in connection with the alleged rape and murder of three minor sisters in Bhandara district in east Maharashtra, police said.

According to police, three sisters, aged six, nine and eleven years, who went missing since February 14, were allegedly raped and murdered by unidentified persons in Murwadi village in Lakhni taluka of Bhandara district, nearly 70 kms from here. Their bodies were found dumped in a farm well on February 16.
19:42   Hostage sailors' kin protest in Delhi
Aggrieved family members of the 17 Indian sailors held hostage by Somali pirates on board MT Royal Grace today staged a protest here demanding the immediate intervention of government for their safe release. 

The family members, most of whom had protested last December too and had subsequently met External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, bemoaned over no headway in the case. 

MT Royal Grace, the UAE-owned chemical tanker was hijacked, early last year with 17 Indian sailor on board.  
19:25   Navy copter crashes off the Vishakhapatnam harbour
According to reports, a Navy helicopter has crashed off the Vishakhapatnam harbour. Two of its four crew members are reportedly missing.More details are awaited.
18:53   Delhi gang rape case: Draftsman, 3 cops testify
A draftsman, who had prepared the site plan of December 16 gangrape of a 23-year-old girl in a moving bus here, testified as prosecution witness before the fast-track court today.

The draftsman, who had talked to the victim's male friend, the sole eyewitness to the crime, to prepare the detailed sketch of the crime scene, deposed before the court.

He was the 40th prosecution witness to get his statement recorded before Additional Sessions Judge Yogesh Khanna during in-camera proceedings. The media has been restrained from reporting the proceedings in the case by the court.

Besides the draftsman, three Delhi police officials, who had collected the evidence in the case, also deposed as prosecution witnesses earlier today. All the four witnesses were cross-examined by the counsel for five adults accused in the case.
18:29   Tiniest teacher is 3ft, aged 22, teaches in Haryana
A man of 22 trapped in a child's body is thought to be the world's smallest teacher... at 3ft tall.Azad Singh -- who has a rare hormone disorder -- weighs 2st 13lbs and wears clothes for a seven-year-old. Pupils at his all-girls school in Haryana, India, tower over him and call him "Chotu", meaning Little Sir.
Read more
18:23   LS Speaker may allow Lanka Tamil discussion on Thursday
Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar is reportedly considering allowing a discussion in the Lower House on Thursday on the Sri Lanka Tamils abuse issue under Rule 193, which does not entail voting.

Kumar's move is reportedly being made to assuage the feelings of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), a key ally of the UPA, which protested inside and outside  the House on Tuesday on the issue, wearing black shirts.

Expressing solidarity with agitating members, DMK representative in the Government, Minister of State for Finance S S Palanimackam also wore a black shirt though he did not participate in the protest.
18:00   I have done nothing when compared to Irom Sharmila: Omar
Apart from weeping in the Assembly, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today said the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) should be repealed from the places where Army is not required.

Omar said the issue of AFSPA is not on the "backburner", and if Irom Sharmila can fast in protest against AFSPA for 12 long years why can't he just speak against it.

"The areas where we don't need Army, AFSPA can be revoked from those places. Our discussion with the Centre on this issue is on and we have not put it on any backburner. I believe that we are right on this issue and we will continue to support our demand," Omar said while addressing the Legislative Council.

"A lady is on fast since last 12 years, only for the removal of AFSPA. In her comparison I have done nothing, I am just talking about its revocation. I never said to remove it entirely, I am not that much senseless and even if would have said that my colleagues would have stopped me from doing that. I am just saying that remove it from the parts where it is not needed," Omar said. 
Weeping in the Assembly, Omar Abdullah said every time there was news of deaths in the state, the PDP always blamed him, when it was hardly his fault.

Well, if he's the CM, he takes the rap. Cry baby.
17:48   Omar breaks down in Assembly over Baramulla killing
Jammu and Kashmir chief minister broke down in the Assembly today, when the opposition, PDP, cornered him over the killing in Baramulla.

One person was killed and four were injured allegedly in firing by security forces during protests in Baramulla town in north Kashmir today. Hundreds of residents of Baramulla town took to streets to protest what they alleged ransacking of their houses by the army in the area.

The protestors pelted stones at the army personnel who allegedly opened fire to disperse the mob, official sources said. An army spokesman said he was collecting details about the incident.
17:16   Cops brutalise woman: Punjab CM orders probe
Taking serious view of the alleged thrashing of a girl by policemen in Punjab's Tarn Taran district, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Tuesday ordered a magisterial probe into the incident. The chief minister has directed the Tarn Taran district magistrate to ascertain the and circumstances which led to this incident and submit the inquiry report within three weeks, an official spokesman said.

A village girl, who was brutally assaulted by police in Punjab's Tarn Taran District, recalled her trauma on Tuesday and demanded the dismissal of all officials who had thrashed her on the roadside.

Harvinder Kaur told journalists in Tarn Taran that some truck drivers had harassed her, and when she and her father went to the police to file a complaint, they refused to help, and instead, started beating her up.

"While I was returning from a wedding, some truck drivers harassed me. I told my father and brother about it, they went to speak to those taxi drivers, who attacked them with swords and iron rods. My father, brother and I went to the police, but they refused to lodge a complaint, they didn't even ask me what had happened. They told my father that she is mad and brutally beat me,' said Kaur.

News channels showed evidence of policemen beating the girl who had complained of sexual harassment by taxi drivers in Tarn Taran.
17:01   Dalrymple meets Karzai
That's author, historian William Dalrymple with Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai. Dalrymple tweets: Just out of 90 min meeting with Karzai: "Our so-called allies behave to us just as the British did to Shah Shuja."

While on Dalrymple, read his interview with 'I don't believe Muslims are a problem and Islam a threat'
16:48   Replacements needed but the cupboard is bare
Humiliating. That is the only word for it. Australia's abject campaign in India was already a throwback to the dark ages of the 1980s, when Allan Border's men were lucky to beat a backyard side. Now it is at rock bottom, and so are they. Read more
16:27   In Britain, the Enemy was just like me
"My first encounter with a Pakistani was at a corner shop in North London, where I lived at the time. He was from Lahore, he said, and left some 40 years ago for a 'better life'. He was an old man with a magnificent white beard and kind eyes. Read
16:25   New York court wants TV ratings case to move to India
The lower court in New York, which was hearing arguments on whether the US or India is the appropriate forum for the case that New Delhi Television Ltd (NDTV) had filed against Nielsen and Kantar over TV ratings manipulation, has ruled that India would be a more convenient forum than the US.

The Indian news broadcaster has decided to appeal against this verdict. NDTV said that the lower court's decision is based on "several misconceptions, legal and factual errors", and "this would be outlined in the appeal." More
16:17   Is Narendra Modi another Sanjay Gandhi?
"To Sanjay Gandhi, the means were not as important as the end...The appeal that someone like Narendra Modi holds is precisely this -- that he gets things done. Don't ask too many questions about how he gets it done though... But that's exactly what is dangerous because that is how authoritarianism comes in. It always comes in with public consent." Vinod Mehta, editor extraordinaire, speaks to's Saisuresh Sivaswamy. Read 
16:08   Non-bailable warrant against IM founder Bhatkal
A special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court has issued a non-bailable warrant against Indian Mujahideen founder Riyaz Bhatkal in the Hyderabad twin blasts case, reports IBN Live.

The warrant has also been issued against nine other Indian Mujahideen suspects in connection with the blasts. Others against whom warrants have been issued include Iqbaal Bhatkal, Mosin Chaudhary, Ariz Khan, Md Khalid, Mirza Shadaab Beg and Yasin Bhatkal.

The NIA is now going to seek custody of Obaid, an alleged terrorist lodged in Bangalore jail. This comes after the Andhra Pradesh government handed over the Hyderabad twin blasts case to the NIA.
15:54   12-year-old Indian schoolgirl has higher IQ than Albert Einstein
Meanwhile, a 12-year-old Indian-origin girl in UK has stunned everyone after she scored an incredible 162 on her IQ test - even higher than Einstein and Stephen Hawking.

Neha Ramu, daughter of an Indian doctor couple, achieved a score of 162 on a Mensa IQ test - the highest score possible for her age. The score puts the tween in the top one per cent of brightest people in the UK and means she is more intelligent than physicist Hawking, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and scientist Albert Einstein, who are all thought to have an IQ of 160.

"Neha scored 162 on the Cattell IIIB test, putting her within the top one per cent of people in the country," a spokesman for British Mensa said. Neha's parents lived in India before moving to Britain when their daughter was seven, 'The Telegraph' reported.

Neha had always performed well at school, but it was only when she took an entrance exam for her school, achieving a perfect score of 280/280, that they realised her potential. She took the test for Mensa, a society for people with high IQs, two years later, and achieved the maximum possible score for someone aged under 18.
15:51   Varun Gandhi acquitted in second 'hate seech' case
The first FIR against Varun was lodged on March 17, 2009 at Barkhera police station and the second one a day later in Dal Chand for allegedly making speeches with communal overtones.

A third FIR was lodged on March 28, 2009 when Varun's supporters attacked police after the court remanded him in judicial custody. On February 28, the court acquitted the Pilibhit MP in the second case on the basis of eyewitness accounts and a report of Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL), Chandigarh, which concluded that video CD of the alleged 'hate speech' had been 'doctored'. The court said 51 of the 53 eye-witnesses testified in favour of the BJP leader.
15:48   Varun Gandhi acquitted in second 'hate seech' case
A Pilibhit court today acquitted BJP MP Varun Gandhi in the second 'hate speech' case registered against him in the run-up to 2009 Lok Sabha polls. The court cited 'lack of evidence' while acquitting him.

The BJP leader faced charges under IPC and Representation of People Act for promoting enmity among people and supporting acts prejudicial to communal harmony while making allegedly inflammatory speeches.

Varun Gandhi has already been acquitted for the first case on February 28.
15:28   Women only 2 per cent of total paramilitary hiring in 2010-13
Women personnel and officers constituted a mere 2 per cent of the more than two lakh troopers recruited by paramilitary forces in the last three years and in the initial few months of 2013, Lok Sabha was informed today.

While 20,73,48 personnel were recruited by the central police forces between 2010-13, the number for women stood at 4,733, which is about two per cent of the total induction, as per figures mentioned in a written reply by Minister of State for Home RPN Singh.

The recruitments were made in various ranks in forces like CRPF, BSF, ITBP, SSB, CISF and Assam Rifles.
15:20   What party symbols say about India, Pakistan
In India and Pakistan, political parties pick their symbols from a list approved by their country's respective election commissions. Many are borrowed from items of everyday life, and span from the elephant to the toothbrush. This was a practice introduced after the end of British rule to help the large number of illiterate voters in both countries distinguish between political parties in elections. Here's a look at the curious range of symbols that parties in both countries can choose from. Read
15:15   Work from home practice to stay in India: Experts
The trend of employees working from home is here to stay in India despite companies like Yahoo! banning the practice, experts have said.

The decision by new Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer to ban work from home plans has set off a debate as to whether this was a wrong decision or a necessary evil. Success of working from home concept is largely dependent on three factors -- the individual's role, the individual's own approach towards work and at what stage of evolution an organisation is to explore this kind of an arrangement.
15:04   As expected, Sena opposes Pak PM's proposed visit
Shiv Sena today strongly opposed the upcoming visit of Pakistan Prime Minister Parvez Ashraf to India, saying he should be allowed here only if he gets the severed head of the Indian soldier killed on the Line of Control (LoC) in January.

The government "should not roll out the red carpet for the Pakistani Prime Minister till he gets back the severed head of the Indian soldier killed on the LoC," senior Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said.

He said all political parties should oppose the visit of Ashraf to India. Ashraf is scheduled to visit India on Saturday to offer prayers at the Sufi shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer.
15:00   Rahul: Cong needs to end High Command culture
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi today rubbished speculation about prime ministership, telling his party that he was only interested in discharging the responsibility of party vice-president. He said he was interested in meeting people and strengthening the party and the alliances. He added that there was an immediate need to end high command culture within the Congress.
14:35   Maha police forms teams to probe Bhandara rape case: Shinde
Maharashtra Police has formed teams to pursue different lines of investigation and track the rapists and murderers of three minor sisters in Bhandara, government told the Lok Sabha today.

In a statement in the House, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said he was "deeply shocked at the despicable, ghastly and brutal manner" in which the three minor girls from the same family were brutally raped and murdered and then thrown into an abandoned well near Murwadi village.

"I am sure that the collective conscience of all the members of the House would be equally revolted to know about the horrendous incident," he said. Noting that the Centre has received a report from the Maharashtra government, Shinde gave the sequence of events that took place since the three girls -- aged 6, 9 and 11 -- went missing on February 14.
14:29   B'desh govt slams Zia for cancelling meeting with Mukherjee
The Bangladesh government today reacted sharply to top opposition leader Khaleda Zia's refusal to meet visiting President Pranab Mukherjee, saying it "is a departure from democratic norms and courtesy".

Addressing a press conference, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said it was "very unfortunate" that Zia's meeting with Mukherjee was cancelled by her. "It should not have happened".

She said it is a part of democratic norm that whenever foreign dignitaries visit the country, they meet both the head of government and the leader of the opposition. "In that sense, it is a departure from democratic norms," Moni said, adding however that India-Bangladesh relations would not suffer because of the incident as "our relations are on a firm footing".

She said not all parties are democratic in the same manner and not all parties practice the same level of democracy. Moni was asked if Zia's calling off her meeting with the Indian President was a breach of protocol and violated courtesy.
Nasheed had left the Indian High Commission on the assurance that he will not be arrested. 
14:21   Former Maldives president Nasheed arrested in Male
Former Maldives president Mohammed Nasheed has been arrested in Male.  Nasheed had sought refuge at the Indian High Commission in Male on February 13. He left the High Commission on February 23. He is now likely to be produced in court tomorrow.

Read the Nasheed's interview with the TOI on Sunday: Maldives is a keg today
14:11   Choosing a pope wasn't always secret
Church officials are expected to decide next week when the days-long voting process to choose the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church will start. Once it does, the 115 cardinals eligible to vote (those under age 80) will be shut away from the public in Casa Santa Marta, a church-owned hotel on the outskirts of Vatican City. A bus will shuttle some to the Sistine Chapel for meetings each day, and those who choose to walk will be closely guarded. Read
13:58   Was Wharton right or wrong to dump Modi?
Student organizers of the Wharton India Economic Forum withdrew their invitation to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to address the event through a video link, sparking an animated debated in India over freedom of expression. Read
Just in: Mukul Sangma was today sworn in as the 23rd Chief Minister of Meghalaya.
13:52   What the Parl delegation from Macedonia saw in LS today
Lok Sabha plunged into turmoil soon after Speaker Meira Kumar welcomed a Parliamentary delegation from Macedonia led by Trajko Veljanoski.

Some Congress members from Punjab were seen in the Well raising slogans against the Akali Dal government in the state over the incident of police beating up a woman and her aged father who were complaining of molestation. Partap Singh Bajwa, Ravneet Singh and Santosh Chowdhary (all Cong) were in the Well waving copies of newspapers and raising slogans. Senior leader Girija Vyas was seen urging them to protest from the aisle.

Amid the din, Speaker Meira Kumar adjourned the House till noon.
13:45   Missing in Action
On the Foreign Policy: Extremists are destroying the fabric of Pakistani society. Where is the government? Read
13:44   Bollywood's first as Ek Tha Tiger is dubbed into Japanese
Salman Khan's blockbuster Ek Tha Tiger is set to release in Japan. The Yash Raj Films production is the first Bollywood biggie to be officially released in the Land of the Rising Sun on a commercial basis. Instead of screening the original prints with subtitles, the makers have decided to dub it into Japanese. Read more
13:41   Truce perks for Maoists hiked
The Centre has cleared the decks for a new surrender policy for Maoists that promises to increase the incentive from a mere Rs 20,000 to over Rs 2.5 lakh. According to the policy that was deliberated at the conference of DGPs and IGs of Naxalite-affected states today, the Centre would directly fund the incentives now that such provisions had been made in Budget 2013. Read
13:10   Rahul Gandhi rejects Wharton invite
Rahul Gandhi has rejected the invite by Wharton University to address the Wharton India Economic Forum. He was invited several days ago, reports CNN IBN. 
13:01   One woman's silent quest for peace on India's wild frontier
For 50 years Manipur has been riven by a bloody feud between militants and the state. For the last 10, Sharmila Irom has starved herself in a bid to stop it. The Independent pays tribute. Read
12:56   Now, Rahul Gandhi invited to Wharton on May 27
Headlines Today reports that Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has been invited to Wharton University.

A day after cancelling the keynote address by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, reports emerged on Tuesday that Wharton University has now invited Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convenor Arvind Kejriwal to address the Wharton India Economic Forum on March 23 in Philadelphia.

The Wharton University cancelled the Narendra Modis keynote address citing fears of "polarising reactions".

Though confusion still prevails as to who will replace Modi, the University sources said that Kejriwal should not be seen as a replacement for the Gujarat Chief Minister and the AAP convenor will address the forum via video-conferencing but not as a keynote speaker.
12:53   SBI identifies some properties of Kingfisher for attachment
SBI, the lead banker in the 17-lender consortium to Kingfisher Airlines, has identified some properties for attachment, according to a top SBI official. "Efforts are afoot to make some recoveries.

Already certain properties have been identified towards attachment by the bank as against loans disbursed to the airline. Allocations have been made in the bank's NPA which stood at (around) Rs 22,000 crore as of Dec 2012," A Krishnakumar, Managing Director and Group Executive (National Banking) said.

A sub-committee has also been formed, involving about four banks to examine availability of assets of the borrower and will also solicit needful legal advisors before the next stage of opting for litigation, he said.
12:43   Indias Evolution vs. Chinas Revolution
"I hadn't been to Kolkata for 30 years. Then, it had been a crumbling, anarchic, messy, congested, dusty, frantic confusion of people, cars and animals. I was looking forward to seeing how a country with similar economic growth rates to China had fared in its architectural aspirations.Tellingly, almost nothing had changed." Read the report here
12:33   CAG report tabled: Farm loans siphoned off
The Comptroller and Auditor General's (CAG) final report on the farm loan waiver scheme has been tabled in Parliament. Announced by the UPA-I government in 2008, the scheme had written off debt of almost 4 crore farmers totalling to about Rs. 52,000 crore. Highlights of the CAG report are as follows: NDTV has the story. Read
12:31   Pak PM to visit India on Saturday to offer prayers at Ajmer
Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf will visit India on Saturday to offer prayers at the Sufi shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer though no official meetings have been lined up so far, sources said today.

This is likely to be Ashraf's last foreign visit before the term of his government ends on March 16. Preparations for the day-long visit on March 9 were being finalised, diplomatic and other sources told PTI. No official meetings with the Indian leadership have been finalised so far, a diplomatic source said.
12:27   China to provide loan for rail track to key Sri Lankan port
China's Export-Import Bank will provide a loan of $278.2 million to Sri Lanka to help lay a rail track to a key port which Beijing is building that has stoked concern in neighboring India. Read
12:19   An Indian railway platform is the best
"Coal smoke, engine oil, sweet milky tea, cooking fires made from dried cowpats: if only I could smell that combination again. When a person can't smell India he knows his nose is really in trouble." An ode to Indian on the Economist. Read
12:13   Chasing the Higgs Boson
At the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, two armies of scientists struggled to close in on physics' most elusive particle. Read
Brahmaputra Dams Promise Prosperity But at a Big Cost. Read
11:50   How the plague made modern Europe
Ask someone to identify the foundations of modern Western civilization, and expect to hear the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, or the Industrial Revolution.

But as watershed periods in the development of Europe, all three may pale in comparison to the Black Death. According to economists Nico Voigtlnder and Hans-Joachim Voth, the 14th-century plague -- which wiped out between one-third and one-half of the continent's population -- may have been the factor most responsible for producing European prosperity. Read
11:46   The Wharton incident is not one about free speech
The debate over Narendra Modi's aborted address at Wharton seems new and top of the mind.But actually, it is almost as old as the principle of free speech itself. And it is a debate that has been played out year after year in university after university since time immemorial. Read Vir Sanghvi's post.
11:41   Kejriwal denies replacing Modi at Wharton India Economic Forum
Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday rubbished media reports which said that he has replaced Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as one of the keynote speakers at the 17th Wharton India Economic Forum 2013 to be held on March 23.

Kejriwal said he did not believe he was ''replacing anyone'' as he had been approached by the organisers to speak at the event much before the Modi controversy.

"It is being reported in some sections of media that I have replaced Mr. Narendra Modi for this Wharton lecture. I think this is incorrect because they have been in touch with me for more than 15 to 20 days. And, I understand from the newspapers reports that Modi''s cancellation took place one or two days back," he added.
11:34   Pranab to visit Tagore's home, in-law's home in Dhaka
President Pranab Mukherjee and Bangladesh Prime Minister Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today jointly inaugurated the locomotives and wagons supplied under a USD 800 million line of credit extended by India, reflecting growing bilateral ties in infrastructure sector.

The freight train flagged off at the Dhaka cantonment railway station comprised two locomotives, 20 broad gauge tank wagons and one brake van.

Following the programme, President Mukherjee left for Narail on a private visit to the ancestral home of his inlaws. Later in the afternoon, the President is scheduled to visit poet Rabindrantah Tagore's house at Shilaidaha before wrapping up his three-day state visit to Bangladesh, his first foreign trip since becoming the President in August last year.
11:30   UP cop killing: Akhilesh govt.exemplifies goonda raj: Maya
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati on Tuesday alleged that the Akhilesh Yadav-led Government in Uttar Pradesh exemplifies ''goonda raj'' and that there is an administration of Samajwadi Party (SP) goons in the state.

"The Samajwadi Party Government in Uttar Pradesh will complete an year on 15th of March. But in the one-year of rule so far, the government has failed in every aspect. There is no development and the law and order situation has deteriorated. In true sense, it is the rule of Samajwadi Party goons in Uttar Pradesh now," she told media outside the Parliament here. Mayawati said no arrests have been made so far despite the FIR being lodged in connection with the cop's killing.
11:25   Pakistani parties fight over books, scales, cricket bats
A toothbrush, a stapler, a baby's cot and a pressure cooker. These are just some of Pakistan's 27 newly approved election symbols that will decorate ballot papers when voters go to the polls later this year. Read
WSJ columnist Sadanand Dhume on why he is not speaking at Wharton. Read
11:16   China hikes defence budget to $115.7 bn
China today hiked its defence budget by 10.7 per cent to $115.7 billion well above this year's Indian defence spending of $37.4 billion.The hike in the defence spending was announced as the Chinese legislature, the National People's Congress (NPC) opened its annual session, which this year also marks the once-in-a-decade power transfer. Read
11:15   Obama a 'dithering, controlling, risk-averse' US president
Barack Obama is a "dithering" president whose controlling tendencies and extreme risk-averse attitude to foreign policy has damaged US interests in the Middle East, according to a new book by a senior former State Department adviser. Read
11:12   Malala Yousafzai among 259 Nobel nominees
This year's Nobel Peace Prize nominees include Pakistani teenage women education activist Malala Yousafzai, and US soldier Bradley Manning, who had been accused of leaking classified material to WikiLeaks.  

This time a record 259 nominations have been received for Nobel Peace Prize, out of which fifty nominations were for organizations.  

The secretive committee that awards the prize doesn't identify the nominees, but those with nomination rights sometimes announce their picks, CBS News reports.  

The nomination period for 2013 ended on Feb. 1. The previous record of 241 nominatio
11:00   US to honour Delhi gang-rape victim as woman of courage
Nirbhaya, the victim of a gang rape in a Delhi bus, who became the focus of women around India and their fight against gender-based violence, is among ten extraordinary women being honoured on Friday with the Secretary of State's International Women of Courage Award.First Lady Michelle Obama will join Secretary of State John Kerry as he presents the annual award recognizing women around the globe who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for women's rights and empowerment, often at great personal risk. Read
10:53   Didis hilsa with poll bone
A parley over Bangladesh's Chandpuri hilsa fish in Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed's house put on the table Dhaka's chief concern about the fallout of the Shahbag upsurge: fear that the Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) of Begum Khaleda Zia will boycott the general election and rob it of credibility. Read the full story on the Telegraph.
10:27   Espionage case: MHA official arrested
Rajasthan Police has arrested a Union home ministry official in connection with an espionage case in which a suspected ISI agent was arrested in Pokhran last month.

"The employee was summoned here from Delhi for questioning on Sunday and was placed under arrest on Monday night for sharing classified information with the spy. He will be produced in a local court in Jaipur on Tuesday," Addl DGP (Intelligence) Dalpat Singh Dinkar said.

The accused had links with Sumer Khan, who was arrested on February 24 for allegedly sharing information regarding defence instalments and activities near the border area in the desert state, police said. 

Khan allegedly shared information about IAF's fire power exercise 'Iron Fist' held on February 22 in Pokhran in Jaisalmer district with Pakistan's intelligence agency ISI.
10:23   Sensex regains 19k level; gains over 151 points in early trade
The BSE benchmark Sensex on Tuesday regained the psychological 19,000 level, by rising over 151 points in early trade on widespread buying by funds and retailers amid a firming Asian trend.

The 30-share barometer gained 151.39 points, or 0.80 per cent, to 19,029.35, for the first time since February 28. The index had lost 40.56 points in the previous session. 

All sectoral indices, led by realty, FMCG and banking, were trading in the positive zone with gains up to 1.18 per cent.

Similarly, the wide-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty moved up by 32.15 points, or 0.56 per cent, to 5,730.65.

Brokers said a firming trend in the Asian region after US stocks rose to over five-year high in Monday's trade, mainly buoyed the trading sentiments.
09:49   Saudi Arabia to behead seven men today
Saudi Arabia is scheduled to execute seven men on Tuesday for crimes committed when they were juveniles aged under 18, the British-based rights group Amnesty International said.

The seven were sentenced to death in 2009 for an armed robbery in 2006, but Amnesty quoted the men as saying they were tortured into confessions. It said King Abdullah ratified their sentences in February.

"They have since said they were severely beaten, denied food and water, deprived of sleep, forced to remain standing for 24 hours and then forced to sign 'confessions'," said Amnesty.

A spokesman for the kingdom's Interior Ministry was not immediately able to comment on the report, but has repeatedly said in the past that Saudi Arabia does not practise torture.

The kingdom, which follows a strict version of sharia, or Islamic law, has been criticised in the West for its high number of executions, inconsistencies in the application of the law, and its use of public beheading to carry out death sentences.

The last time the kingdom executed so many people at once was in October 2011, when eight Bangladeshi men were put to death for an armed robbery in which a guard was killed.
09:36   Pakistan to play hockey Tests in India next month
The Pakistan hockey team will play five Test matches in India next month as part of a bilateral series details of which were worked out between officials of both the countries in Malaysia.

The Pakistan Hockey Federation said in a statement that the matches will be played from April 5 to 15 at Ranchi, Jalandhar, New Delhi, Lucknow and Mohali. 

"In a return visit the Indian team will play two Tests at Lahore and also in Karachi, Faisalabad and Sialkot from April 23 to May 2," the statement said. 

The statement said the final itinerary of the series will be released after consultation with media partners.
08:47   US calls on UN to bar drunken diplomats
The United States has called for drunk diplomats to be barred from United Nations' budget negotiations.

Annual talks on how much the global body spends have become increasingly tense as western nations call for spending cuts.

"We make the modest proposal that the negotiating rooms should in future be an inebriation-free zone," Joseph Torsella, deputy US ambassador for management and reform, told the UN General Assembly's budget committee.

The assembly's budget body, the Fifth Committee, holds marathon negotiations in December each year on spending and national contributions. 

These often last all night for several days in a row so that a vote can be held before the end of year holidays.

The United States is not calling for a ban on alcohol just on drunks, US officials said.

Some envoys have turned up for talks "falling down drunk," said one diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"On one occasion the note-taker who was meant to be recording the talks was so intoxicated he had to be replaced," said another. Both spoke on condition of anonymity.
08:44   Affectionate welcome awaits Pranab at his 'sasural'
An affectionate welcome awaits President Pranab Mukherjee when he visits his "sasural" for the first time on Tuesday in the sleepy Bhadrbila village on the banks of Chitra river, immortalised by Rabindrnath Tagore in his poems.

The village has been gripped by a festive mood ever since the news filtered in that Mukherjee, accompanied by his wife Shuvra who was born in the village and spent a few years of her early life here, would come calling at the ancestral house of his in-laws on Tuesday morning.

The house of Mukherjee's in-laws has got a facelift by Narail district administration ahead of the first couple's visit and an 8-km road connecting the district headquarter town of Narail with Bhadrabila has been repaired to enable the President and his wife a smooth drive to their destination. 

Kazi Rakib, a resident of Bhadrabila, was agog ahead of Mukherjee's visit to the village.

"It is a great pleasure for us that Pranab Mukharjee, our brother- in-law, will visit our village. We will accord a warm reception to him," Rakib said.
08:41   Vijay Mallya to meet Chidambaram today
Grounded airline Kingfisher's promoter Vijay Mallya is likely to meet Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday and financial trouble the carrier is facing is believed to be on agenda for discussions.

"Vijay Mallya is coming to meet the Finance Minister on Tuesday," sources told PTI. 

Mallya had met Law Minister Ashwani Kumar last month to discuss ways to deal with the problems facing his airline. 

The scheduled meeting with Chidambaram comes against the backdrop of Kingfisher's lenders last month deciding to start the  process to recover dues of over Rs 7,500 crore. 

The beleaguered airline has dues towards payment of service tax, income tax, as also Provident Fund of employees and dues of the oil companies. 

Besides, it has to pay huge amounts to the lessors of its aircraft and service providers like the Airports Authority of India. 
08:38   Wharton invites Kejriwal, but not as Modi's replacement
Confusion prevailed over who will deliver the keynote address at the Wharton India Economic Forum after the University cancelled its invitation to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi citing fears of "polarising reactions". 

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convenor Arvind Kejriwal has been invited to address the students, though 'not as a keynote speaker'. 

The University said it has not made any decision on who will be Modi's replacement, but reports hinted that Kejriwal is likely to address the forum on March 23 via video-conferencing.

Meanwhile, opinions remained sharply divided over the Wharton snub to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader. While the BJP slammed US's "double standards", Wharton professors maintained that their stand against Modi is based on facts and human rights records in Gujarat.

"We should question the law on the basis of which the US has denied him visa. To go on perpetrating the point because the argument of which they have denied him visa is questionable. If the question of denying visa itself is on wrong argument, is it right for us to go on that presumption and go on building on it?," questioned BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman.
08:34   Punjab: 2 cops suspended for beating up woman in public
CNN-IBN reports: Two Punjab policemen in Taran Taran have been suspended for slapping and beating up a woman in full public view. The police beat up the young woman and her father after she went to them with a complaint of sexual harassment.

The visuals showed the woman being manhandled by two policemen. The woman alleged she was sexually harassed by truck drivers. 

When her family confronted them, policemen nearby allegedly took the side of the truckers.

"My father and brother went to talk to the truck drivers who were harassing me. The policemen standing there asked what was happening. Once they learned what happened they took the drivers' side and started beating us," the woman alleged.
03:10   Obama not bluffing over Iran military threat, says Biden

Barack Obama's threats to use military force to prevent Iran securing a nuclear weapon are more than idle bluffs, vice-president Joe Biden told the biggest pro-Israeli lobbying group Aipac on Monday.


Biden said that while the US preferred a diplomatic solution to the standoff with Iran, a military option remained on the table. "The president of the United States cannot, and does not, bluff. President Barack Obama is not bluffing," Biden told the audience in Washington. Israel is seeking assurances of support from the US, should it decide to launch air strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities.


Read more on The Guardian

03:08   'Batman' delivers burglary suspect to UK cops

A man dressed as the caped crusader Batman has handed over a wanted man at a Bradford police station before disappearing into the night. Police said the costumed crime-fighter marched the 27-year-old man into Trafalgar House Police Station, in the early hours of 25 February. The man was charged with handling stolen goods and fraud offences. Police said: "The person who brought the man in was dressed in a full Batman outfit. His identity remains unknown."


Despite speculation on social media the arrested man could know the mysterious crime-fighter, West Yorkshire Police said: "We do not know the identity of the man dressed as Batman and do not know if he is friends with the man who was handed in."  


Image: A man dressed as Batman and a burglary suspect stand in a police station in Bradford, England, on February 25, 2013, in this handout photograph taken from video.

Photograph: Reuters


Read more on BBC

03:02   Egypt clashes: Security headquarters on fire

BBC: The security headquarters in Port Said, Egypt, is on fire amid fresh fighting between police and protesters. The blaze started on the ground floor of the building, with unconfirmed reports that it spread to the governorate building next door.


Earlier thousands of people joined a funeral procession for three civilians killed in overnight clashes, which also left two policemen dead. Port Said has been rocked by weeks of intermittent violence.


Protests, often leading to clashes, have been taking place there since January, when 21 local football fans were sentenced to death over football riots which left 74 people dead in February 2012. At least 400 people were injured in the fighting which began on Sunday morning.

02:12   Computer glitch hits Mars rover Curiosity

BBC: Nasa's Curiosity Mars rover has been put into "safe mode" after a computer glitch caused by corrupted files. The robot, which is analysing rock samples on the Red Planet, is now running from a back-up computer.


Nasa engineers are looking into possible causes for the files on the robot's flash memory being damaged. The fault means the rover's work has been put on temporary hold while the back-up computer is reconfigured so it can take full control.

01:07   Vote counting begins after largely peaceful election in Kenya

CNN: Vote counting began in Kenya Monday after largely peaceful elections in which millions of voters stood in line to choose their next president in a tightly contested general election.


The Elections Commission said some polling stations would remain open late to accommodate those still in line and to make up for having opened late. Though some people waited in the sun for more than eight hours to cast their ballots, there was "no reporting at all" of intimidation, said John Stremlau, the Carter Center vice president for peace programs.


The center, at the invitation of Kenyan authorities, placed 60 observers in all 47 counties. In Nairobi, some lines stretched for more than a kilometer (0.6 miles), he said. But the observers' initial reports were "universally complimentary to the citizens of this nation in showing their determination to have their votes counted," he said.

01:06   Dozens of Syrian troops killed in Iraq ambush

Al Jazeera: Unidentified armed men have ambushed a convoy carrying Syrian soldiers who had crossed into Iraq from the site of weekend fighting, killing 42 Syrians and seven Iraqis, security officers said.


The soldiers crossed into Iraq from the Yaarabiya border crossing, the scene of heavy fighting on Saturday between rebels and troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, said Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Khalaf al-Dulaimi of the border protection forces on Monday.


The soldiers were first transported by Iraqi authorities from Nineveh province to Baghdad, and they were on their way back to be handed over to Syrian authorities on the border with Anbar province in western Iraq when the attack took place, Dulaimi said. Armed men attacked the convoy from two sides with mortar rounds, automatic weapons and mines, killing 42 Syrian soldiers and seven Iraqis. Eight Syrians and four Iraqis were wounded, and three vehicles in the convoy destroyed, he said.

00:07   'Plane crash' in eastern DR Congo

BBC: A plane has crashed in Goma, the main city in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, witnesses say. There are no confirmed casualty figures so far. However, the plane came down in a residential area, killing dozens of people, AFP news agency quotes police sources saying.


DR Congo has a poor air safety record, with 74 people killed in a crash at the airport in the central city of Kisangani two years ago.