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Fri, 22 January 2016
Modi condoled Mrinalini Sarabhai's death: BJP

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23:31   Pope hits out at Internet trolls
Pope Francis spoke out today over the increasingly aggressive nature of much political discourse and the use of social media as a forum for personal abuse.

In a message published on the same day that the Twitter-friendly pontiff met Apple boss Tim Cook, Francis said digital technology and the Internet could help bring people together but also had the potential to create deep wounds.

'Our words and actions should be such as to help us all escape the vicious circles of condemnation and vengeance which continue to ensnare individuals and nations, encouraging expressions of hatred,' he said.

The pope urged politicians and others in positions of power 'to remain especially attentive to the way they speak of those who think or act differently or those who may have made mistakes.'
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23:06   Modi condoled Mrinalini Sarabhai's death: BJP
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had condoled the death of noted danseuse Mrinalini Sarabhai and wrote a letter to her son Kartikeya Sarabhai expressing his grief over her demise, a a Bharatiya Janata Party leader said on Friday.

Earlier in the day, danseuse Mallika Sarabhai hit out at the prime minister, claiming that he had not paid tributes to her mother Mrinalini on her death, and said that this showed his 'hate' mentality.

Veteran danseuse and Padma awardee Sarabhai, the exponent of classical dance forms who used her art to highlight the problems faced by modern society, had died in Ahmadabad yesterday due to age-related problems. Sarabhai died at the age of 97.

The classical dancer-turned-activist, who had fought 2009 Lok Sabha elections against veteran BJP leader L K Advani from Gandhinagar constituency as an Independent candidate but lost, vented her ire on Modi as he has so far not condoled the death of her mother, who also hailed from Gujarat.

'My dear prime minister, you hate my politics and I hate yours. That has nothing to do with what Mrinalini Sarabhai did to promote the culture of this country and to the world over sixty years,' Mallika wrote in a Facebook post.

'She blazed a trailer for our culture in the world. That her death sees no word from you shows your mentality. How ever much you hate me, as our prime minister it behoves you to recognise her contribution. You have not. Shame on you,' she said in the post.
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22:38   Shahnawaz Hussain gets threat letter from IS
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Shahnawaz Hussain has received a threat letter purportedly sent by the Islamic State, police said today.

Hussain, who is also the party spokesperson, said that the letter arrived at his residence in New Delhi area through post.

He reported the matter to the police and lodged a complaint at North Avenue police station.

The letter was typed in Urdu and English and contained abusive words against him and the party in general, the former MP said.

"I had received such threats over social media before. I will continue on my path of nationalism," Hussain said.

DCP (New Delhi) Jatin Narwal said the police has received the complaint and they are looking into the matter.
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22:22   North Korea arrests US student for 'hostile act'
North Korea said today it had arrested a US student who, under orders from Washington, had engaged in an unspecified "hostile act" after entering the country on a tourist visa.
The detention comes at a sensitive time, with the United States taking a leading role in efforts to secure tough international sanctions on North Korea over its latest nuclear test.
Pyongyang has a history of using foreign detainees as bargaining chips to extract concessions and high-profile visits to secure their release.
The student, identified as Otto Frederick Warmbier from the University of Virginia, had entered North Korea as a tourist "for the purpose of bringing down the foundation of its single-minded unity at the tacit connivance of the US government and under its manipulation," the North's official
KCNA news agency said.
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21:59   PM Modi calls for reform of UN system for poverty eradication
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today called for reform of the UN system to make it more effective saying the world body has not yet fulfilled its
objective of eradicating poverty globally.

"Eradication of poverty remains the greatest unfinished business of the 20th century. It is also the most important unfulfilled objective of the United Nations," Modi said in a keynote address -- via video -- to the Economic and Social Council of the UN.
Modi said that developing countries face the challenge of ending poverty in a manner that is friendly to the environment and the planet.
Referring to the recently-concluded Paris agreement on climate change, the Prime Minister said the '2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development' presents a valuable opportunity for the UN system to rethink its role and purpose and make itself more effective.
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21:56   Salman Khan hit-and-run case: Maharashtra challenges actor's acquittal
Maharashtra Government on Friday moved the Supreme Court challenging the Bombay High Court's verdict acquitting Bollywood superstar Salman Khan in the 2002 hit-and-run case in which one person was killed and four others were injured.

The petition was filed in the apex court against the high court's judgement acquitting Salman of "all charges", overturning trial court's order sentencing him for five years. 

"The Bombay high court has erred in not appreciating the prosecution evidence. The trial court's order convicting Salman Khan was correct and should be upheld," Sandeep Shinde, the public prosecutor who has been associated with the case, said about the contents of the special leave petition.

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21:45   Paris police station attacker had no link to Islamists:Germany
A man who tried to attack a police station in Paris this month had no links to Islamist networks, German authorities said today after carrying out new raids in a refugee shelter where he lived.
Investigations "over the past two weeks have brought no indications of any Islamist network" connected to the man, said Uwe Jacob, police chief of North Rhine-Westphalia state. 

The attacker, identified as Tarek Belgacem by Tunisian authorities, was shot dead by French police as he attempted his assault on January 7 -- the one-year anniversary of the jihadist attack on satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris. 

Three days after the botched attack, German police raided an apartment at a shelter for asylum seekers in Recklinghausen, in the west of the country, where the man lived.
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20:33   Students who protested at PM event arrested, released on bail
Two students, who shouted slogans during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's convocation address at Babasaheb Bhimrao Amebdakar University today, were arrested and released later on personal bonds.

Ram Karan, resident of Kaushambi and Amrendra Kumar Arya of Sant Kabir Nagar, both student of BBAU invited for LLM degree, were arrested under 151 CrPC (preventive arrest for breach of peace), Senior Superintendent of Police Rajesh Kumar Pandey said.
Both of them were later released on personal bonds, the SSP added.
 
As soon as the Prime Minister started his convocation speech, the two students stood up and started raising slogans like "Modi Go Back" and "Inqualab Zindabad", apparently protesting over the suicide of student Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad a few days back.
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20:32   US 'aware' of reports of citizen detained in N Korea
The United States is aware of reports that a US citizen has been detained in North Korea, the State Department said today, after Pyongyang declared it had arrested an American student for an unspecified "hostile act".
"The welfare of US citizens is one of the department's highest priorities," US State Department spokesman John Kirby said in Davos, Switzerland.
When US citizens are reported detained in North Korea, the United States works closely with the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang which assists Washington in the country, Kirby said. 

The United States would release no further information beyond its acknowledgement of the media reports, he said, citing "privacy considerations".
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19:45   'Letter claiming IS threat to PM, Parrikar posted from Panaji'
A letter, purportedly signed by Islamic State, threatening to harm Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was posted in Panaji itself, police said today.
"The letter was posted in Panaji from where it came to secretariat at Porvorim," a senior police official said. 

The letter was received on January 13 by State Under Secretary, (General Administration), Prashant Shirodkar, following which the Goa Anti-Terrorist Squad launched a probe.

"The letter bore stamp of the Panaji post office. It was sent on a general address of the Government of Goa and not to any particular office," the official said.

The ATS had said that it will record the statement of two government officials who went through the letter first.

Police stepped up security across the state after receipt of the letter. 
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18:48   Modi govt most anti-intellectual dispensation: Ramchandra Guha
Criticising the recent killings of eminent scholars and writers and the 'inability' of the administration to prevent such hooliganism, noted historian Ramchandra Guha said Modi government was the "most anti-intellectual" dispensation the country ever had.

Expressing concerns over increasing threats to freedom of expression, Guha came down heavily on the BJP-led government for being "hostile" to the writers community.

"This government is arguably the most anti-intellectual (administration) we ever had," Guha said while delivering the first Vijay Tendulkar Memorial lecture at the Mumbai University last evening.

Guha, however, said this kind of behaviour was not peculiar to the Modi government alone but across the board. "All three (rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, CPI leader Govind Pansare and writer and scholar MM Kalburgi) were killed by rightwing Hindu groups for expressing their views," he alleged.

"Both the Congress and BJP could have prevented these murders as these killings happened when either the Congress or the BJP was in power in the state or the Centre," he said.

Talking about the rising culture of banning anything and everything at the drop of a hat, the historian warned that the nation was "slipping down to anarchy", while describing the present-day India as a 40:60 democracy. Guha blamed former PM Rajiv Gandhi banning Slaman Rushdie's Satanic Verses in the late 1980s as the root cause of the 'ban culture' in the country. He was quick to add that people today are eliminated for expressing their views and not just getting them exiled or their word banned.
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18:25   Rs 8 lakh ex-gratia for Rohith's family: Hyderabad Central University
The Hyderabad Central University announces Rs 8 lakh ex-gratia to the family of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula who committed suicide.

The report of the two-member fact-finding committee set up by the Union Human Resource and Development ministry to look into the suicide is learnt to be in the final stages of preparation and is likely to be submitted today.

"It is expected that the report would be handed over to HRD Minister Smriti Irani on Friday," sources said.

It is learnt the panel spoke to a cross section of stakeholders including 70-80 individuals, including students, academicians and others during its Hyderabad visit.

The report, sources said, would dwell on the role of the university authorities, who have been blamed for the suicide, and systemic aspects to ensure such incidents do not recur.

Meanwhile, protesting students on Thursday refused to talk to faculty members who went to the protest site. "We came here to talk to the protesting students, but they refused, so we are going back," said Sanjay, a faculty member.

Earlier on Thursday, at least, 13 faculty members -- including Professor V. Krishna, controller of exams, Chief Medical Officer Dr Ravendra Kumar, 10 hostel wardens and chief warden Nagaraju --  put in their papers from their respective posts.
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17:49   L'Affaire Marlon James: This is why I dont attend literature festivals like JLF
You cannot judge a person by the way he or she writes. What a person is on paper and ink too often is very different from what he or she is in flesh and blood, writes Nimish Dubey. Read
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17:46   NSUI protests demanding Irani, Dattatreya's resignation
Scores of NSUI activists today marched towards the HRD Ministry, continuing with their protests over the suicide of a Dalit PhD scholar, and demanded the resignation of Union Ministers Smriti Irani, Bandaru Dattatreya and Hyderabad University Vice Chancellor. Stating that "revocation" of suspension of the four expelled students was never their demand, workers of the Congress' youth wing were stopped at Raisina Road here by the police when the protestors were on their way to the HRD minister's residence and detained.
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17:37   No major concern, Dalai Lama to make full recovery: US clinic
The US hospital where the Dalai Lama is currently undergoing a medical checkup has said there are no major concerns as regard the Tibetan spiritual leader's ailment and he will fully recover after treatment.

The 80-year-old Dalai Lama on Tuesday went to the US where he was admitted at Mayo Clinic in Rochester for prostate treatment.

"His physicians report no major concerns, and anticipate he will respond well to treatment and make a full recovery," a Mayo spokeswoman said in a statement, according to Tibetan website Phayul.com.

"He is being treated for a prostate condition that is common for men of his age," the spokeswoman said. The Dalai Lama had left Dharamsala for the US on January 19 and will return after a month's rest. His regular engagements are scheduled from March.
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17:19   Litvinenko murdered for calling Putin a paedophile
A former Russian spy may have been assassinated in London on the orders of the Russian president because he called Vladimir Putin a pedophile. A report by retired British High Court Judge Sir Robert Owen released Thursday concludes that Putin "probably' approved the November 2006 killing of Alexander Litvinenko after he allegedly claimed the president used his position to erase video evidence of himself having sex with underage boys. "The FSB operation to kill Mr. Litvinenko was probably approved by Mr. Patrrushev, then head of the FSB, and also by President Putin,' Owen told the Royal Courts of Justice. Owen found that Litvinenko's criticism of the Kremlin and the FSB contributed to the motive behind the murder, which was carried out through a pot of green tea laced with the radioactive isotope polonium-210 in a London hotel restaurant.
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17:06  
Delhi court grants bail to Bhawna Arora, accused of throwing ink at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
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17:01   Rohith suicide: Judicial commission to be set up
This is what the PIB says on the judicial commission being set up on Rohith Vemula's suicide.

The Fact Finding Committee constituted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in the wake of the chain of unfortunate events at the Central University Hyderabad submitted its report to the Ministry on 22nd January 2016.

Based on its observations and findings, the Ministry has decided to constitute a Judicial Commission to review the entire sequence of events and the circumstances; and to establish the facts and correctives in the context of the University. The Judicial Commission will submit its report within 3 months. The Union Minister Smt Smriti Zubin Irani today spoke to the mother of Rohith, the young research scholar and extended her condolences. In order to address the issues faced by the students from disadvantaged social, economic and educational backgrounds in higher educational institutions comprehensively and to prevent such unfortunate incidents in future, the Ministry has decided on the following course of action: A programme will be launched for sensitising academic administrators about understanding and handling problems faced by socially, educationally and economically disadvantaged students. All wardens, administrative staff and Registrars would be compulsorily put through this orientation programme. A special module will be prepared for this orientation. A special mechanism would be set up at the Ministry for receiving and taking expeditious action on the grievances from these students. All VCs and senior administrators would be sensitised to reach out to socially, economically and educationally disadvantaged students. There should be zero tolerance for any acts of discrimination on campus. A special Charter would be issued to all the HEIs in this regard. The Peer-group Assisted Learning (PAL) of IIT Gandhinagar would be extended to all the HEIs, under which Mentors would be arranged for the socially, economically and educationally disadvantaged students not only to assist them in education, but to support them with regards to challenges being faced by them within their Institutions.
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16:05   A mother has lost her son, I feel her pain, says PM finally condoling Rohith's death
It's been a short journey from cheers to jeers for Narendra Modi.

The Prime Minister's speech at the Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University in Lucknow today, where he is chief guest at a convocation was greeted with jeers.

A student was escorted out of the auditorium and some protesters have been detained.

The PM is attending several events in Uttar Pradesh today associated with BR Ambedkar, the architect of the Constitution and a Dalit icon, signalling his party's focus on Dalits, who comprise a vital 21-22 per cent of voters in the state, where elections will be held in 2017.

Modi finally broke his silence on the suicide of Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad, over which his government has been criticised.

The 26-year-old research student committed suicide on Sunday days after he and four other Dalit students were suspended over clashes with activists of the ABVP, the BJP's students' wing.

The PM said, "Kaaran apni jagah par honge, Rajneeti apni jagah par hogi, lekin sachaayi ye hai ki maa-Bhart ne apna ek laal khoya. Politics aside, a mother has lost her son. I feel her pain. Uske parivar par kya beeti hogi." 
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15:40   Shame on you, Mr PM: Mallika lambasts Modi for not condoling Mrinalini's death
A day after legendary danseuse Mrinalini Sarabhai's death, her daughter Mallika Sarabhai, a bitter critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, slammed him for not condoling her mother's death.

Mallika's post on her Facebook page reads:

My dear prime minister,
You hate my politics and I hate yours.
That has nothing to do with what Mrinalini Sarabhai did to promote the culture of this country to the world over sixty years. She blazed a trailer for our culture in the world.
That her death sees no word from you shows your mentality. How ever much you hate me, as our prime minister it behove you to recognise her contribution. You have not. Shame on you.


Immediately after the Gujarat riots of 2002, Mallika and Mrinalini Sarabhai were among the first people to lambast the then Modi administration in Gujarat. She had also approached the Supreme Court with a PIL seeking compensation for the riot victims.

Immediately after the PIL, the Gujarat government had filed a case against her accusing her of human trafficking, as her performing arts academy Darpana, used to take artists from India to abroad for shows.

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15:25   Get up close and personal with Sachin on this cruise
Monarch Cruise has announced the launch of a cruise experience that will bring together the cream of Bollywood and cricket. The cruise will allow passengers to get up close and personal with their favourite cricket icons, Bollywood stars, world-class DJs and celebrated chefs. Departing from Singapore on March 6, 2017, the ship will course through Kuala Lumpur, Phuket, Penang, Colombo and Cochin before reaching Mumbai and retracing the route back to Singapore. The cruise will accommodate 2,200 people. The faces of this cruise are brand ambassadors Sachin Tendulkar, Brett Lee and Shane Warne. They will join hands with a host of sports and Bollywood icons including former Sri Lankan cricket captain Kumar Sangakkara; stand-up comic Vir Das; DJ Khushi; singers Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Neha Kakkar; actress Neha Dhupia; rapper Badshah; and famed chef Sanjeev Kapoor. 
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15:12   Arundhati Roy loses appeal, asked to appear before Bombay HC
The Supreme Court on Friday refused to exempt writer Arundhati Roy from appearing before a court in connection with an article she wrote criticising the judiciary for not giving bail to G Saibaba, a Delhi University professor accused of supporting Maoists.

"Why are you afraid of facing the court? Have faith in it,"' the apex court said while rejecting Roy's appeal against the Bombay High Court order's asking her to appear before it next week.

The apex court also issued a notice to the Maharashtra state on her petition challenging the contempt proceedings.The court also issued a notice to Maharashtra on Saibaba's appeal against his interim bail being cancelled.

Saibaba was arrested last year and his bail was extended till December 31. Roy had expressed her views on Saibaba's arrest in an article published in a May 2015 issue of the Outlook magazine.
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14:54   Mallika says her last goodbye to her mother Mrinalini Sarabhai
We debated over using this picture sourced from poet, writer, screen writer, film director Leena Manimekalai's Facebook page, since it is after all a very private moment of a very public figure.

But the sheer poetry, the grace and beauty of the moment won over.

Danseuse Mallika Sarabhai says her final goodbye to her mother Mrinalini who passed away yesterday, in the way she knows best -- through dance -- in what is easily one of the most poignant images of death and parting.
Seated to the left of the picture wearing a white waistcoat and blue kurta is Mallika's daughter.

The Indian Express reported that Mrinalini Sarabhai was "draped in a red saree, black strapped large-dial watch on left wrist, a large bindi on forehead and ghungroo on her feet all her signatures.

"Her body lay on the dance floor of the Darpana academy she had founded in 1949.

"In a befitting tribute, her last journey started from the Darpana Academy dance floor with Mallika performing to Krishna Nee Begane Baro, a popular Carnatic composition in praise of Lord Krishna "

The pyre was lit by Mallika and her brother Kartikeya.

Sarabhai, to many an epitome of grace and impeccable taste, was traditional yet contemporary in her work and she had a keen eye for dance aesthetics, say Indian dance icons, for whom the late danseuse -- lovingly called Amma -- will continue to be an inspiration.

In the words of her daughter, "Mrinalini Sarabhai has just left for her eternal dance." Mrinalini breathed her last on Thursday morning in Ahmedabad following age-related health complications. The Padma Bhushan awardee was 97.
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14:45   Hoax alert
OK, so we were fooled.

The story of the BBC weather girl saying it was cold as fuck, is a hoax.

Read
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14:25   BBC weather girl announces it was 'cold as f**k'
This is a such a lovely story that merits sharing.

The BBC has announced that there will be no punishment for popular weather presenter Carol Kirkwood's use of the phrase 'cold as fuck.'

She used the phrase during an outside broadcast on a hill in the North York Moors on Friday morning in response to a question from colleague Bill Turnbill.

"And now to Carol for the weather,' said the avuncular bee-keeper.

"Carol, it looks a bit chilly where you are?"

"That's right Billy,' she responded chirpily.

"It's cold as fuck."

"I'm sorry?" replied a visibly shocked Turnbill.

"Cold. As. Fuck." She repeated, forcefully.

"Bastard cold. Shitting cold. Cold as an eskimo's arse. Cold as a witch's tit. Cold enough to worry any brass monkeys. It is abso-fucking-lutely fucking cold as fucking fuck."

"I see," stammered Mr Turnbill.

"Um, so is there any detail on the forecast for-"

"No. Cold as fuck. Probably some rain in Scotland and the North, I mean, I haven't checked but it's a fair assumption. Now, sod this, I'm going to get off this God-forsaken blasted bastard heath and try and find somewhere in this hellish backwater with the ability to make a decent cup of coffee."

She then dropped the mic and stalked off muttering about being a proper scientist, not a performing penguin.

The BBC has issued a statement saying there would be no sanction for Miss Kirkwood because "after investigation we have discovered that on the North York Moors on Friday morning, it was indeed cold as fuck."
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14:13   Mariah Carey and James Packer reported to be engaged
E! Online says the Australian businessman presented the singer with 'what can only be described as the most breathtaking engagement ring' in New York. Read
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13:59  
FLASH: Maharashtra ATS has nabbed a person from Mumbra (Thane District) for suspected affiliation with ISIS.
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13:58   Delhi Police issues alert after Alto car hired from Pathankot goes missing
The Delhi Police on Friday issued an alert after a taxi driver hired from Pathankot was found dead in Himachal Pradesh. The body of the driver, identified as Vijay Kumar, was found on Wednesday in Kangra in Himachal Pradesh on Wednesday.

Delhi police posted an alert on Twitter saying, "A white colour Alto Taxi no. HP 01 D 2440 was hired from Pathankot by three unknown people. The driver of the taxi, Vijay Kumar from Gaggal, Kangada was found dead on 20 Jan 2016 at the Kalta Bridge, Dist. Kangada."

While it is yet not clear that the murder is the handiwork of a criminal gang or potential terrorists, the security agencies are talking no chances and have issued an alert issued across north India.

In view of the threat perception, the Delhi Police is on the highest level of alert to secure the national capital.

The police is working on multiple leads provided by more than a dozen terror suspects arrested from different parts of the country in the last few days.

When asked about the threat perception in the run up to January 26, Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi said, Won't discuss security issues, but would ask people to stay alert.

The police have been on alert after an SUV with a blue beacon, belonging to a senior border police officer, was stolen in the early hours of Wednesday from Noida near Delhi.

Weeks after the Pathankot attack, in which the stolen car of a police officer played a role, the police in Delhi and neighbouring states have been trying to trace the car.

The brand new Tata Safari was stolen from the home of Anand Swarup, the Inspector General of the Indo Tibetan Border Police or ITBP.

The car had a Chandigarh registration number CH01GA2915, the police said in their alert
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13:26   As India mourns Mrinalini Sarabhai's death, PM remains silent
President Pranab Mukherjee joins Sonia Gandhi, sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and Bharatnatyam exponent Geeta Chandran to condole the death of noted classical dancer Mrinalini Sarabhai, calling her an epitome of "grace" and "beauty".

Sarabhai's death has been condoled by leaders across party lines, with the solitary exception of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Popularly known as "Amma", Sarabhai passed away in Ahmedabad due to age-related problems at the age of 97.

This is what President Mukherjee's condolence message read to Mrinalini Sarabhai's daughter, Mallika read: I am sad to learn about the passing away of your mother, Smt. Mrinalini Sarabhai.

Smt. Mrinalini Sarabhai left an indelible mark on Indian classical dance as an eminent danseuse, choreographer and teacher.

Educated at Shantiniketan and a disciple of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, Smt. Mrinalini Sarabhai was trained in Bharatnatyam, Kathakali and Mohiniyattom. Dance was her life, passion and existence. 

Smt. Mrinalini Sarabhai believed that the power of dance, music, arts and literature must be experienced by the common man.  She was a poet and author as well as a dedicated activist who fought against dowry deaths, suppression of women and child labour.

Smt. Sarabhai exemplified the fighting spirit of her mother and freedom fighter, Ammu Swaminathan and her sister Lakshmi Sehgal, who was Commander-in-Chief of Netaji Subhas Chandra Boses Rani of Jhansi Regiment of the Indian National Army. 

She was also of inspiration and support to her husband, Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, the father of the Indian Space programme.

In recognition of her invaluable contribution to Indian classical dance and arts, Smt. Sarabhai was honoured by the nation with several awards, including Padma Shri in 1965 and Padma Bhushan in 1992.  Her death leaves a void in the world of creativity and performing arts which will be difficult to fill. Her tireless efforts to spread Indian classical dance around the world will be always remembered.

Please accept my heartfelt condolences and convey the same to the rest of your family members.  I pray to the Almighty to give you and other members of the family strength and courage to bear this irreparable loss.

Sonia Gandhi in a letter to her daughter Mallika Sarabhai, who wrote: I am sad to learn of the passing away of your beloved mother.

Throughout her long, active and fulfilled life, Mrinalini Sarabhai contributed richly to our cultural landscape, through the talent and passion that imbued everything she did.

She was an inspiring teacher to thousands of students at her Darpana Academy, and an exceptionally gifted and productive dancer, choreographer and writer, read the letter.

Mrinalini ji was, moreover, a staunch nationalist and patriot, who courageously defended our pluralistic culture and secular values. In this, she was upholding the proud tradition of her own parents who were such brave freedom fighters.

At this time of grief, you must draw solace from the fact that your mother must have taken great pride in the courage and conviction with which you yourself have always acted and spoken out against prejudice and discrimination, and that you carry forward her wonderful legacy as a dancer as well.

We will always honour Mrinalini Sarabhais memory, just as we continue to honour the memory of your brilliant father, Vikram Sarabhai.


Modi's who excels in using social media to express his views, or doling out congratulatory messages or condoling deaths of eminent personalities has chosen to remain silent.

Mrinalini Sarabhai had taken a stand against the Narendra Modi government in Gujarat in the immediate aftermath of the 2002 riots and against what she felt the government was doing wrong.

Her daughter Mallika Sarabhai has been a vocal critic of Modi even when he was Gujarat CM. She had joined the AAP briefly and has recounted on several instances her experience of being falsely accused and hounded by the Modi government. At a lecture in 2013 in Jaipur,  she had said, "I had to hide under a carpet in the boot of a vehicle and cross over to Udaipur in Rajasthan to escape arrest. From there, I had to wear disguises and move from one city to another for 18 days till I could apply for bail.

As early as 2003, Mallika Sarabhai had been at the forefront of an appeal in the Supreme Court demanding compensation and justice for the victims of the Gujarat carnage of 2002. 

Modi clearly doesn't forget.
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12:50   Was willing to accept post of FTII's interim chairman: Shatrughan
BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha has said that he had been willing to accept the post of 'interim chairman' of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) here and that he had also requested the current chairman Gajendra Chauhan to step down to end the stalemate with protesting students.

Referring to the protests by students at FTII over the appointment of Chauhan as its chairman, Sinha yesterday said he had been willing to accept the post of 'interim chairman' of the institute and had even demanded a proper letter to the effect.

"At the same time (during the protests), Congress leaders like Rahul Gandhi, Nagma, Raj Babbar visited FTII and also met President (Pranab Mukherjee). So some of our leaders felt that it will not be nice to intervene at that juncture and it became a prestige issue for the government," the former FTII alumnus said.

"I had requested Gajendra Chauhan to step down to end the stalemate, but it did not happen and the whole thing headed to confusion," he said. Sinha also condemned the police action of arresting students in a midnight swoop in August last year on a complaint by FTII Director Prashant Pathrabe.
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12:46  
Four terror suspects arrested by the National Investigation Agency in Hyderabad.
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12:11   Bus carrying differently abled to PM's programme hits pole, 22 hurt
Twenty-two differently-abled persons on their way to the Prime Minister's aid distribution programme in Varanasi were injured when the bus carrying them hit a pole this morning. The bus was carrying around 42 differently abled persons, SHO Ashok Chandra said. The injured have been referred to the government hospital in Varanasi, he said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi who will be visiting his parliamentary constituency today is scheduled to distribute aid among nearly 8,000 differently-abled persons.

He will also interact with children from various parts of the country who have overcome disabilities relating to speech and hearing with the help of the ADIP (Assistance to Disabled Persons) scheme of the Centre. More than 25,000 aids like wheelchairs, hand-driven tricycles, smart crutches and hearing implants will be distributed among the 8,000 beneficiaries.
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11:46   This is a tough country to speak about your personal life: Karan Johar
Bollywood filmmaker Karan Johar stole waves the intolerance flag on the first day of the Jaipur Literature Festival which began in the city yesterday.
Johar said, "We are in a tough country to speak about your personal life. How are we democratic? How is there freedom of expression? I am a filmmaker and I feel bound on every level. Everywhere I go I am scared. Like I am saying something in Jaipur I feel scared wondering who will file a case by the time I return home."

With his candid confessions on how he was "effeminate as a child' and how he used to have "sleepless nights' over the issue, Johar stole the show.

Talking about his book "An unsuitable Boy' at a session with Shobhaa De and his biographer Poonam Saxena at the front lawns at Diggi Palace, where the festival is being held, Johar said: "I hated the word 'Pansy' and I was called that as a child. I was effeminate as a child and I used to have sleepless nights over the fact that I am different from other children."

He said his parents were a big support system. "Even when I weighed 150 kg, my mother said I was the best looking child in the world and my father told me that once I lost a little puppy fat, I can be a hero in Hindi films,' said Johar.

Asked about the negative portrayal of homosexuals in his movies, Johar said he was the first Bollywood director who discussed the issue in films. "Whether its 'Kal Ho Na Ho' or 'Dostana', I discussed the issue in the mainstream. I received so many letters from youngsters saying that my movies helped their parents identify their sexuality. "Now there are so many films on LGBT and I am proud that I started it,' he said.

Johar also spoke about the hard times his family faced. "When my father had a few flop movies, we had to sell our jewellery and house. He was not invited for launch parties and it was terrible times,' he said. The director also spoke on rumours of a rough patch in his friendship with actor Shah Rukh Khan.

"Like every relationship, there have been ups and downs. However, Shah Rukh's family is part of my family.' According to the director, his best film was "Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna', and the least favourite was "Student Of The Year'. "However, it gave three good actors for Bollywood,' he said.
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11:32  
PM Narendra Modi reaches Varanasi, his parliamentary constituency.
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11:30   Sensex heals; picks up 240 pts to touch 24K-mark
Market benchmark BSE Sensex recaptured the 24,000-mark by adding over 240 points in early trade today, tracking gains at other Asian markets. Moreover, recovery in the rupee and value-buying in recently battered bluechip stocks influenced sentiments.

The rupee firmed up by 24 paise to trade at 67.78 against the dollar in early trade at the forex market. The broader NSE Nifty too reclaimed the 7,300-mark.

The 30-share index surged by 240.48 points or 1 per cent to 24,202.69 points. All the sectoral indices led by metal, power, banking and PSU were trading back in the positive zone, surging up to 1.56 per cent.
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11:20   'North Korea working on submarine-launched ballistic missiles'
Former American defence secretary Robert Gates believes that North Korea is 'perilously close to obtaining submarine-launched missile technology, or SLBMs, reports the news agency UPI.   

In a discussion at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York on Thursday, Gates, Pyongyang, which announced that it had tested a hydrogen bomb on January 6, was 'working on submarine-launched ballistic missiles and that capability. And, you know, they have these successive failures, but eventually they're going to get it right. And that's going to be a very dangerous situation,'   

Terming North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un as "dangerous and stupid', Gates said with 'each successive generation [of Kims] we've been swimming in a shallower and shallower part of the gene pool.'   

Read the full report here.
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11:18   Delhi Police issues alert about a 'hijacked' Alto car hired from Pathankot
Delhi Police issues alert about a 'hijacked' Alto car hired by three persons from Pathankot whose driver has been found dead.

The driver, Vijay Kumar, from Gaggal, Kangada, was found dead on January 20.

The Intelligence Bureau has already issued a warning about a Paris-Jakarta-like attacks in Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai by ISIS. 

The agency has also quoted ISIS e-book styled as black flag postings against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other dignitaries. 

An increase in activities in the camps of Lashkar-e-Tayiba have also been reported.
 
According to the alert, 10-15 terrorists may carry out attacks in the three metro cities targeting famous shopping malls. 
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11:13  
Delhi Police issues alert about a 'hijacked' Alto car hired from Pathankot whose driver has been found dead
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11:00   Saudi Arabia plays hard ball, say no cut in oil output
Ever since global petroleum prices have plummeted to record levels -- it's a different matter that we in India have not benefited from it -- all eyes have been on Saudi Arabia to if the kingdom would curtail pumping out record levels of oil which has led to a global glut and the fall in the prices.  
At Davos, however, the chief of oil giant Aramco Khalid Al-Falih has struck a combative pose, refusing to relent. 

"We're not going to withdraw our production to make way for others. If other producers are willing to collaborate, Saudi Arabia is willing to collaborate. But Saudi Arabia will not accept the role, by itself, of balancing a structural imbalance," Al-Falih has been quoted as telling the World Economic Forum in The Telegraph, UK.   

About the impact of the decline in oil prices on the kingdom itself -- Rediff contributor Rajeev Sharma wrote that it could even lead to a regime change, here -- Al-Falih said, "We can take whatever the market serves us. If prices stay low, we will be able to withstand it for a long time. We have the lowest cost of production on the planet by a big margin, and Saudi Aramco has zero debt on its balance sheet." 

Al-Falih said Saudi output -- currently 10.3m barrels a day -- would be down to zero by now if the country had continuously trimmed to make way for others, reports the newspaper.   

Read the full report here.
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10:40  
Vice chancellor of Central University of Rajasthan and 7 others booked for alleged harassment of a dalit scholar: ANI
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10:37  
Just In: A suspected ISIS terrorist has been arrested from the outskirts of Mumbai by Maharashtra Anti-Terror Squad, Times Now has reported. More details soon.
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10:36   Major terrorist attack on Karachi airport foiled
The Karachi police on Friday claimed to have foiled a major terrorist plot to stage a "deadly assault' on the airport, with the arrest of nearly a dozen suspected terrorists from the Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent and the Lashkar I Jhangvi, the Dawn newspaper has reported.   

The plan was to attack the airport, like the one staged in June 2014, and occupy "key sensitive government buildings,' the newspaper reported.

Ali Raza, chief of the Counter-Terrorism Department told a media conference that, acting on a tipoff, the CTD raided Ittehad town and picked up the suspects. 

"They had been involved in targeted killings and terror incidents in Karachi during the past two years and have been in hiding since last month and now they were regrouping when they were arrested,' Raza said.   

Read more about the arrests here
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10:22   Prashant Kishor made advisor to Nitish, gets Cabinet rank
Strategist Prashant Kishor has been made advisor to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and has been given a cabinet minister rank, tweets ANI_news.   

Kishor it was, if you remember, who was considered instrumental in Narendra Modi's electoral blitzkrieg in 2014 that took him to 7 Racecourse Road, but who in a surprising twist crossed over to Nitish Kumar for the Bihar assembly elections last year.   

The Bihar assembly elections were considered to be a clash between the strategies of Kishor and BJP president Amit Shah, and the landslide results from the state should leave no one in any doubt as to who got the better of who.   

But history, as they say, is full of 'what ifs'. So let us add to the long list and ask, What if the NDA government had recognised Kishor's feat and rewarded him for it, like Nitish has done in Bihar?
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10:18  
10-year-old boy from Sidharthnagar in UP, goes missing from Asaram Bapu's ashram in Ahmedabad
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09:46   Reverse 'Award-Wapsi': Eminent writers take back awards they gave up
Hindustan Times reports: Weeks after returning their awards in protest against 'growing intolerance' in the country, some eminent writers who had returned their Sahitya Akademi awards have relented and agreed to take them back.

While noted writer Nayantara Sahgal, who was one of the first to join the award wapsi campaign, took her award back recently in view of the contention that there is no provision to return the award, Rajasthani writer Nand Bhardwaj said he was "satisfied" with the response of the Akademi following an outrage among the awardees over its silence and inaction over the killing of rationalists.

Nayantara Sahgal, on the other hand, said, "The Akademi wrote a letter to me saying it is against their policy to receive returned award and therefore they are sending back the award. I will use the money for a worthwhile cause and welfare schemes." Sahgal had sent a cheque for Rs 1 lakh, which has been returned, according to the Akademi.

Read more HERE
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09:41  
2 suspected ISIS recruits, Syed Hussain and Mohammed Huda, arrested in Karnataka
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09:40   Dense fog disrupts air, rail traffic in Delhi
A thick blanket of dense fog engulfed Delhi on Friday, disrupting air and rail traffic and throwing normal life out of gear.

With visibility at the Indira Gandhi International airport down to less than 50 meters, all the departures and arrivals were put on hold since about 6 am.

More than 40 trains have either been cancelled or are running late. 

Railway officials said 14 trains are delayed, one has been rescheduled and nearly 35 cancelled due to fog.
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09:38  
Rohith's suicide note to be sent for forensic analysis. Police intrigued by paragraph which has been cut off (presumably by him).
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09:18  
Dalit scholar suicide case: Till now 14 staff members of University of Hyderabad have resigned from administrative responsibilities
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09:16   Mumbai: Speeding Merc hits people sleeping on pavement, 5 hurt
A speeding Mercedes car hit people sleeping on a pavement in south Mumbai past midnight on Friday, injuring five.

The incident occurred around 12:30 am in the Masjid Bunder area when the white convertible, with a Jharkhand number plate, reportedly drove over a pavement, crashing into a Toyota car. The driver, Amin Khan, reportedly fled the spot but was later arrested.

"Investigation is happening right know... However, we are not sure of the number of persons inside the car... It can be determined only after thorough investigation," said Ashok Dudhe, a senior police officer.

The injured are being treated at the government-run JJ Hospital.

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09:11  
Blast in Birbhum (West Bengal), two people killed allegedly while making bombs.
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08:41   Uber cabbie arrested for molesting woman journo travelling to Noida
A woman journalist has accused an Uber cab driver of molesting her while she was on her way from Delhi to Noida, following which the driver has been arrested.

As per the complaint, the woman journalist took the Uber cab service from Delhi to Noida on Wednesday night, DSP Vijay Dhul said.

The woman suspected that the driver Ravinder Singh was taking a wrong route near Noida Sector 15 metro station, and asked him to stop the vehicle.

She then alighted from the cab and started walking, while the driver insisted on taking her to her destination, police said.

The woman, a resident of Gurgaon, alleged that the driver chased her and behaved inappropriately, they said.

The journalist then called the police control room and registered a complaint.
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08:38   Alert for Delhi motorists: Traffic restrictions for R-Day rehearsal begin today
Major stretches in New Delhi and Central Delhi areas will be made out of bound for motorists from today evening in view of a full dress rehearsal for the Republic Day parade. 

The rehearsal for the parade shall start at 9.50 am on Saturday from Vijay Chowk. The parade shall take Rajpath, pass through India Gate area, and head towards Tilak Marg, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg and Netaji Subhash Marg to reach Red Fort by noon, after which all restrictions will come to an end.

"In order to facilitate the parade, the Rajpath stretch between Vijay Chowk and India Gate will be closed for general public from 6.30 pm today. By 11 pm, small stretches on both sides of intersections with Rafi Marg, Janpath and Man Singh Road will be blocked too for stopping the cross traffic," Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Sharad Agarwal said.

He further said that by 9.15 am on the following day, the C-Hexagon near India Gate will be blocked for motorists and in the next 45 minutes, restrictions will be put on both carriageways in Tilak Marg, leading to Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, Netaji Subhash Marg and Red Fort. 

However, cross traffic will be allowed in those roads, depending upon the movement of the parade, he said.
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08:38   Saudi grand mufti says 'chess is haram in Islam'
Saudi Arabia grand mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh has ruled that playing chess encourages gambling and is a waste of time and followers of Islam must abandon it.

According to the Guardian, during an interview to a channel, the kingdom's chief cleric said that chess was included under gambling and was a waste of time and money and a cause for hatred and enmity between players.

He also justified his view by citing some verse in the Quran.

In late 70s chess was forbidden in Iran by senior clerics, however, Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini lifted the ban on it stating it is permissible to play chess as long as it isn't used for gambling.
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08:32   Millions brace for massive US snow storm
The eastern United States braced today for a blizzard that could bury Washington under more snow than it has seen in nearly a century, before moving on to New York. 

Washington and neighboring cities including Baltimore could see up to two feet of snow accumulate in a short time as a result of the monster storm, which was also expected to generate fierce winds and icy rain in some area, forecasters said.

Heavy snow was expected across at least 15 states, according to the Weather Channel. 

The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for Washington, which was due to see first snowfall on tomorrow, and said New York could catch the tail end of the storm as the weekend progresses. 

"Heavy snow and blowing snow will cause dangerous conditions and will be a threat to life and property," NWS warned in its Washington bulletin. 

"Travel is expected to be severely limited if not impossible during the height of the storm tomorrow night and Saturday."
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08:32   Rohith's suicide: HRD team likely to submit report today
The report of the two-member fact-finding committee set up by the Union Human Resource Development ministry to look into the the suicide by a Dalit scholar in the Hyderabad University is likely to be submitted today.

It is learnt the the panel spoke to a cross section of stakeholders including 70-80 individuals, including students, academicians and others during its Hyderabad visit. 

The report, sources said, would dwell on the role of the university authorities, who have been blamed for the suicide, and systemic aspects to ensure such incidents do not recur.
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01:46   Strong quake strikes off Mexico's Pacific coast
A strong 6.6-magnitude earthquake struck off Mexico's Pacific coast today, but there were no immediate reports of damage.

The 10-kilometre deep quake, which took place at around noon, was located 215 kilometres southwest of Tomatlan in the western state of Jalisco, according to the United States Geological Survey.

"No damage has been reported for now," national civil protection coordinator Luis Felipe Puente wrote on Twitter.

At least one Jalisco state government building was evacuated, local authorities said.

The state civil protection agency was checking Jalisco's 125 municipalities for any damage or injuries.

The earthquake's epicenter was 267 kilometres from the popular tourist resort of Puerto Vallarta. AFP
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01:10   Blast kills 2 at Somalia restaurant, visitors stranded as firing continues
Explosions and gunfire at a popular restaurant near the beach in Somalia's capital have killed at least two people and injured four others, according to witnesses.

The incident at the Lido Seafood restaurant erupted late on Thursday evening.

Reports indicate that more than 20 people are stranded inside the restaurant, and that gunfire and hand grenade explosions were continuing.

"I can see two dead bodies and four injured people lying on the floor of the restaurant. The injured are seriously wounded and in a pool of blood.  The main explosion occurred at the front door. I cannot tell the casualty outside," a journalist was quoted as saying by Voice of America.

Mohamud Hared, the owner of the nearby Indian Ocean Restaurant, said that he heard gunfire and then two separate explosions followed.

VOA reported that government security forces have sealed off roads to and from the restaurant and ambulances carrying injured people could be seen coming out of the area.
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00:56   Will Smith won't attend Oscars for 'lack of diversity'
Actor Will Smith of Men in Black fame has confirmed he will not be attending next month's Oscars, joining his wife Jada Pinkett Smith in a boycott over the Academy Awards' all-white nominee list.

Smith, speaking on Good Morning America, said that diversity is 'the American superpower' and that attending the Oscars, given the lack of it among this year's nominated performers, would be 'awkward'.

"So many different people from so many different places adding their ideas to this beautiful American gumbo," he said.

"At its best, Hollywood represents and creates the imagery for that beauty. But for my part, I think I have to protect and fight for the ideals that make our country -- and make our Hollywood community -- great."

Read HERE
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00:29   Blast at Somali capital restaurant, heavy gunfire
A car bomb exploded at a popular seaside restaurant in the Somali capital today, with intense gunfire following the blast, police said.

"There was a car bomb explosion at a restaurant at the Lido beach, there is shooting and gunfire," police officer Ahmed Bidan said.

The Lido beach area in Mogadishu is busy with restaurants, including upmarket establishments popular with business people and diaspora Somalis who have returned home to Mogadishu.

 There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents have carried out a string of similar bombings in the past. AFP
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00:10   US faces winter's biggest storm
A blizzard warning, meaning severe winter weather conditions and a stern advisory to 'do not travel', has been issued for the Washington and Baltimore metro areas in the United States on Friday.

The National Weather Service forecast up to 2 feet of snow in some locations, along with sustained winds of up to 35 mph and gusts reaching 55 mph.

A private snowplow driving in snowy, treacherous conditions struck and killed a 52-year-old man in Beltsville, Maryland, on Thursday, Maryland State Police Sergeant Christopher Hohenstein said.

About 75 million people are in the storm's path, nearly 30 million of whom are under blizzard watches or warnings.

Read HERE