Fri, 25 January 2019
Trump's ex-aide indicted in Mueller probe, held
23:03 Trump's ex-aide indicted in Mueller probe, held
Roger Stone, a long-time Trump associate, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Friday after being indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, probing alleged interference by Russia into the 2016 United States presidential elections.
The former Trump campaign adviser was later released on bail by a Florida court after posting a $250,000 bond after he was produced in the court.
As per the order issued by Magistrate Judge Lurana Snow, Stone has been prevented from travelling outside of South Florida, Washington, DC and New York City.
Also, he has been asked by the court not to contact any witnesses.
Stone's arrest is being seen as a setback for US President Donald Trump at a time when he is fighting a major political battle with the opposition Democrats funding for building a wall along the US-Mexico border to check the flow of illegal migrants.
In his first reaction, Trump reiterated his allegation of 'witch-hunt' and said that drug-dealers and human traffickers were being treated better.
'Greatest Witch Hunt in the History of our Country! NO COLLUSION! Border Coyotes, Drug Dealers and Human Traffickers are treated better,' he tweeted.
Trump also questioned on the presence of CNN to shoot the arrest of Stone in Florida.
"Who alerted CNN to be there?" asked the president.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also told reporters that this has nothing to do with President Trump.
Stone was arrested from his Florida home early Friday morning.
Stone has been indicted on seven counts including obstruction of official proceeding, false statements, and witness tampering.
According to the indictment, Stone was an official on Trump's presidential campaign until in or around August 2015, and maintained regular contact with and publicly supported the Trump Campaign through the 2016 election.
Special Counsel alleged that Stone obstructed the investigations by the House Intelligence Committee and the FBI into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Mueller, in his 23-page indictment, alleged that Stone made multiple false statements to House Intelligence Committee about his interactions regarding 'Organization 1'. The unnamed organisation matches the description of WikiLeaks.
"My first reaction is real simple. This has nothing to do with the president and certainly nothing to do with the White House. This is something that has to do solely with the individual and something that not affects us here in this building," Sanders told CNN in an interview.
She repeated her remarks to other news channels and to reporters at the White House. -- PTI
IMAGE: Roger Stone. Photograph: Jim Young/Reuters
22:02 Contribution of 'one of our own' recognised: Rahul
Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweets:
'Congratulations to Pranab Da on being awarded the Bharat Ratna! The Congress Party takes great pride in the fact that the immense contribution to public service & nation building of one of our own, has been recognised & honoured.'
'I'm happy that Shri Bhupen Hazarika and Nanaji Deshmukh have been honoured, posthumously, with the Bharat Ratna.'
21:56 Gambhir, Kader Khan, Nambi Narayanan get Padma awards
Folk artist Teejan Bai, Djibouti's President Ismail Omar Guelleh, L&T chairman Anilkumar Manibhai Naik, and writer Balwant Moreshwar Purandare to be conferred with Padma Vibhushan by the President.
Padma Bhushan to be conferred on 14 people including Indian Space Research Organisation scientist Nambi Narayanan, former Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Kariya Munda, Actor Mohanlal, journalist Kuldeep Nayyar (posthumous), Indian mountaineer Bachendri Pal and Lok Sabha MP Hukmdev Narayan Yadav.
Late actor Kader Khan, cricketer Gautam Gambhir and former diplomat S Jaishankar are among 94 persons given Padma Shree.
Actor Manoj Bajpayee, footballer Sunil Chhetri, choreographer/director Prabhu Deva, cricketer Gautam Gambhir, singer Shankar Mahadevan and freestyle wrestler Bajrang Punia will also be conferred with Padma Shree.
21:50 'Operation Lotus' still on, Cong MLA offered gift: Kumaraswamy
Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy on Friday claimed opposition Bharatiya Janata Party was continuing its Operation Lotus to topple the Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress government and tried to lure a Congress legislator with 'gift'.
Accusing BJP and its state president B S Yeddyurappa of being behind the offer allegedly made on Thursday night, he said the MLA informed him that he had rejected the gift.
"Operation Lotus is on. Yesterday night also they have telephoned a Congress legislator, asking him- where to send the gift," Kumaraswamy told reporters in Bengaluru.
The chief minister's fresh allegation comes days after Yeedyurappa had said the BJP would not destabilise the ruling coalition.
The state had remained in the grip of political unrest for several days recently with the Congress on tenterhooks to keep its numbers intact amid fears of poaching by the BJP after two independent MLAs withdrew their support to the coalition government.
In a return of resort politics, all 104 BJP MLAs had stayed in a hotel in Mumbai for some days recently while the Congress too shifted its legislators to a resort.
Subsequently, the MLAs returned to the city last week. Four Congress MLAs had skipped a crucial legislature party meeting on January 18, indicating all is not well within the party.
Operation Lotus is a reference to the BJP allegedly luring several opposition MLAs to resign their assembly membership and defect and win the election on the saffron party ticket later to ensure stability of its then-government headed Yeddyurappa in 2008.
In his media interaction Friday, Kumarasamy, without naming anyone, said: "He (the legislator) has already informed me. The legislator has told them (BJP) that he dont want their gift and to leave him peacefully. It is not a small gift."
"From where it (gift) is coming to Yeddyurappa? As Chief Minister in 2008 he had made similar attempts- making MLAs as commodities for sale, he has continued his work, it is his addiction, what can I do for it," he said responding to questions.
Asked about the cost of the gift this time, he said, "It is hard to guess, you will be surprised," but did not elaborate.
Speaking to reporters in Kolar earlier, Yeddyurappa said there was confusion within the Congress and the ruling alliance and their MLA and his party had nothing to do with it.
"...let's wait and watch- what will happen because of their confusion within...we are not playing any game, they (Congress-JD(S) are playing the game, lets wait and watch what will happen," he said in response to a question.
He said there was no necessity for anyone to indulge in resort politics and the BJP with the 'support' of the two independents now had a strength of 106 in the 224-member assembly.
"We will be in the opposition and do our duty. I have given this assurance publicly," Yeddyurappa said.
Making it clear that there was no need for any confusion, he alleged the government was not focusing on development work and been in a deep slumber. -- PTI
21:24 Retrieved miner's body in Meghalaya identified by family
A miner, whose body was retrieved from a 370-foot deep coal mine in Meghalaya's East Jaintia Hills district after over 40 days of getting trapped, has been identified as Amir Hussain of Assam's Chirang district, officials said on Friday.
In a joint operation, the Indian Navy and the National Disaster Response Force pulled the body out of the mine's shaft on Thursday, nine days after it was spotted.
"The body retrieved yesterday from Ksan has been identified as Amir Hussain of Chirang district in Assam," East Jaintia Hills District Deputy Commissioner F M Dopth said.
The body was identified by his wife and mother who arrived in Khliehriat, the district headquarter, earlier on Friday, he said.
Dopth said the district authorities were trying to help the family in transporting Hussain's remains to their home for the last rites.
Hussain is one of the 15 miners who got trapped in the mine on December 13. The incident drew the nation's attention to illegal coal mining in the northeastern state at the cost of human lives despite a ban imposed by the National Green Tribunal.
Operation spokesperson R Sungi said the Indian Navy continued the underwater search with the unmanned remotely controlled vehicle (ROV), but no other bodies had been found.
He said the multi-agency operations to de-water the nearby abandoned mines also continued and Coal India Ltd, Kirloskar Brothers Ltd and Odhisa Fire Services had discharged over 71 lakh litres of water in the past 24 hours.
Anxious family members of the trapped miners are camping in the district headquarters and visiting the site frequently for any news of their loved ones, Susngi said.
The owner of the mine, Krip Chullet, was arrested from his home on December 14. His accomplices are on the run.
The Meghalaya government has released Rs 1 lakh interim relief for the families of the trapped miners.
The Supreme Court is monitoring the rescue mission and the matter will come up for hearing on Monday. -- PTI
20:44 PM praises Pranab Da, Nanaji Deshmukh, Bhupen Hazarika
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweets:
'Pranab Da is an outstanding statesman of our times. He has served the nation selflessly and tirelessly for decades, leaving a strong imprint on the nation's growth trajectory. His wisdom and intellect have few parallels. Delighted that he has been conferred the Bharat Ratna.'
'The songs and music of Bhupen Hazarika are admired by people across generations. From them radiates the message of justice, harmony and brotherhood. He popularised India's musical traditions globally. Happy that the Bharat Ratna has been conferred on Bhupen Da.'
'Nanaji Deshmukh's stellar contribution towards rural development showed the way for a new paradigm of empowering those living in our villages. He personifies humility, compassion and service to the downtrodden. He is a Bharat Ratna in the truest sense!'
'Nanaji Deshmukh's stellar contribution towards rural development showed the way for a new paradigm of empowering those living in our villages. He personifies humility, compassion and service to the downtrodden. He is a Bharat Ratna in the truest sense!'
20:31 Bharat Ratna for Pranab da, Bhupen Hazarika, Nanaji Deshmukh
Rashtrapati Bhavan says:
The President has been pleased to award Bharat Ratna to Nanaji Deshmukh (posthumously), Dr Bhupen Hazarika (posthumously), and former President Dr Pranab Mukherjee. -- ANI
20:22 Modi, Shah, Aditynanath, to address rallies in West Bengal
The Bharatiya Janata Party will hold rallies of its top leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party chief Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, in West Bengal as it seeks to organise up to 200 public meetings by February 8 in the state to boost its tally of seats there in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.
BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, who is the party's in-charge of the state, said there was widespread anger against West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress president Mamata Banerjee and that the saffron party's extensive campaign would turn the tide against her party.
"We will win up to 25 seats (in West Bengal). There is anger against the TMC, which rules by coercion and fear. There is no democracy in the state.
"But the BJP will show that it is up to the challenge and will rally the masses against the state government," he said.
Modi will hold two rallies in West Bengal on February 2 and another one on February 8, while Shah will address a public meeting on January 29, party leaders said.
Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Smriti Irani and Dharmendra Pradhan and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan are also among those who will address the saffron party's rallies.
The BJP is looking to organise anywhere between 150 and 200 public meetings in West Bengal, involving its national and state leaders, by February 8, Vijayvargiya said.
The BJP had won only two of West Bengal's 42 Lok Sabha seats in the 2014 general election and Shah had identified it as one of the states for the party to boost its tally in the 2019 polls.
The saffron party has gained in vote share during various by-polls and local elections in West Bengal, but the TMC has maintained its preeminent position in the state. -- PTI
19:34 In R Day address, Prez mentions women empowerment, upper caste quota
President Ram Nath Kovind in his address to the nation on the eve of the 70th Republic Day:
- Republic Day 2019 is an opportunity for all citizens of the country to remember independence, equality, and brotherhood.
- This Republic Day is important for us in a special way. On October 2, we'll celebrate 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
- Not only for India, but this anniversary is also an opportunity for entire world to understand, adopt and implement his principles.
- This year, citizens of India will get a chance to fulfil an important responsibility. All of us have to use our voting rights in coming general elections for 17th Lok Sabha.
- This election will be special as 21st century born voters will vote for the first time.
- Apart from education, art, medicines and sports, our daughters are now creating an identity for themselves in the three Armed Forces as well.
- In topmost educational institutes, often there are more daughters than sons among medal-winning students.
- We have to recalibrate our yardstick -- from quantity to quality; from a literate society to a knowledge society; from a nation that has room for all segments and communities to a family that encourages and celebrates the uniqueness and potential in each person.
- The recent constitutional amendment to provide special facilities for talented children from poorer families is another step to an India of our dreams -- and of Gandhiji's dreams.
- Our Republic has come a long way and we must appreciate how far successive generations have brought us. Equally, we must appreciate that our voyage is far from complete. There are still waters to cover, still gaps to fill and still tears to wipe.
- Young women in our country are moving ahead in every field -- from academics to the creative arts, from sports to the armed forces. There is no stopping and no hesitation in this process. It is the route to India's future.
19:04 In Odisha, Rahul promises farm loan waiver in 10 days if elected
Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday announced that his party would waive loans of Odisha framers within 10 days if it forms the government at the Centre.
Assuring the people of Odisha that he will fulfill every promise he makes from the podium today, the Congress president tore into Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Prime Minister Modi for not doing enough for the farmers welfare.
I do what I promise from this stage today. I am not Narendra Modi or Navin Patnaik. I want to tell farmers of Odisha. 2-3 months are left. Listen to me carefully. As soon as the Congress government is formed here, you count till 10, he said.
Not 11, only 10. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10. Within 10 days, the Congress will waive loans of Odisha farmers, said Rahul, while addressing the Parivartan Sankalp Samavesh rally in Bhubaneswar.
He said like Punjab and Haryana, the Congress government which once brought the Green Revolution in the country, will strengthen farmers of Odisha and make the state prosperous after his party wins the General Elections.
"Without a flourishing agriculture sector, the country cannot progress. In every district of Odisha we will provide food processing plants. Will make Odisha an agriculture hub like Punjab and Haryana," said Rahul.
The Congress president also took on Prime Minister Modi and Odisha Chief Minister Patnaik accusing them of taking the peoples money and giving it to a handful of industrialists.
"Both Navin Patnaik in the state and PM Modi at the Centre have one formula. Give all the money of the state and Central funds to 15-20 industrialists and then let bureaucrats run the governments. They only think about the benefits of their workers, leaders and these industrialists," he said.
"Nations 'chowkidaar' (guard) is a thief. But we should not forget the chit fund scams which took place in the state. The Chief Minister is controlled by the Prime Minister, and he works as per his directions. Odisha is a rich state. It is not a poor state.
"But it is unfortunate that its people are poor. Because all its wealth and assets are being given to a handful of industrialists," said Gandhi. -- ANI
18:19 Terrorists lob grenade at police post, 1 injured
Suspected terrorists lobbed a grenade at a police post near a bus stand in Anantnag town of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday afternoon.
One police personal suffered minor injuries in the attack.
Further details are awaited. -- ANI
Image for representation only.
17:35 Priyanka's entry into politics not sudden: Rahul
Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday said his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's entry into politics was not sudden as she had decided to play a role in the party after her children grew up.
The decision on the timing of Priyanka's political plunge was taken some years ago. She was delaying it because of the children, he said, replying to a question at an interactive session in Bhubaneswar.
"Now her children are grown-ups. While one of them has entered university, another too has grown up. Therefore, she decided to join politics," he said.
On Priyanka's political role, Gandhi said her main job is to revive the Congress in Uttar Pradesh. No decision on her role outside that state has been taken.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra plunged into active politics on Wednesday and was made All India Congress Committee general secretary for Uttar Pradesh East in a move reflecting the party's intent to go full throttle in the northern state in the run-up to the parliamentary polls.
Stating that he and Priyanka share a strong bond, the Congress president said 'both of us have been through hell together' as he recalled the assassinations of his grandmother Indira Gandhi, father Rajiv Gandhi and subsequent political upheavals in the family.
"These incidents have brought us closer. Everybody thinks all is easy for us but we have seen some very hard situations. That has brought us together," Gandhi said.
About the equation between them, he said, "If we are sitting in separate rooms and you ask us the same questions, 80 per cent of the time you will get the same answer."
The Congress president said both he and his sister believe in giving space to each other and there is a constant give and take and spirit of reciprocity between the two when it comes to their personal relations.
"We have a lot of conversation," he added. -- PTI
17:09 1 killed in explosions at high-rise building in China
Multiple explosions rocked a 30-storey building in northeast China on Friday, killing at least one person.
The blast happened about 3.20 pm on the 30th floor of the Wanda Plaza Apartment Building in Changchun, provincial capital of China's Jilin province, official media reported.
One person killed in the incident. A car exploded in a building's underground garage minutes before the blasts on 30th floor.
Dramatic video from the scene of the explosions appeared to show people running away from the building as multiple blasts took place at the foot of the structure and on a higher floor.
Broken glass windows can be seen falling from the building and onto the ground.
The car blew up in the Wanda Plaza garage in Changchun at 3.13 pm (0713 GMT) and the second explosion occurred three minutes later on the 30th floor, the city government said in a statement.
An eyewitness told Beijing Youth Daily that he heard about 20 explosions.
Local media also reported that Firefighters have urged people not to go near the building, state-run China Global Television Network (CGTN) reported.
Authorities are still investigating the cause of the explosion. -- PTI
16:51 Zero+Zero=Zero: UP CM's reaction to Priyanka in politics
UP CM Yogi Adityanath's first reaction to Priyanka Gandhi joining active politics. Adityanath dismissed her as a nobody saying, "Zero + Zero = Zero. The Congress is zero, and whoever joins the party, doesn't add anything to it."
Ending years of speculation, Gandhi family scion Priyanka Gandhi Vadra formally entered politics on Wednesday with her brother and Congress president Rahul Gandhi appointing her as general secretary for Uttar Pradesh East, which also comprises Lok Sabha seats of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and state chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
16:38 Rahul helps falling photographer, wins hearts
Congress president Rahul Gandhi, often lampooned for his gaffes during speeches, won hearts today, when he rushed to the aid of a photographer who fell while covering his arrival in Bhubaneswar.
The photographer was standing outside Biju Patnaik International Airport in the city, along with other crew at the edge of a flight of steps to a pavement, when he backed up, lost his balance and fell. It was a bad fall especially since the photographer was trying to protect his camera.
The Congress President rushed to the cameraman's aid and helped him to his feet and won hearts.
In Bhubaneswar today, Rahul Gandhi said he was unaware of any speculation about BJP leader Varun Gandhi joining his party. The Congress chief's remark comes two days after his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra formally entered politics on Wednesday ahead of the elections. "I have not heard this speculation," Gandhi said. Varun Gandhi, cousin of Rahul Gandhi, is at present a Bharatiya Janata Party Lok Sabha member from Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh. His mother Maneka Gandhi is the Union Cabinet Minister for Women and Child Development in the Narendra Modi government at the Centre.
Image: PTI Photo
16:12 CBI seeks Chidambaram's custody in INX case
The CBI and Enforcement Directorate Friday asserted before the Delhi High Court that custodial interrogation of Congress leader and former Union minister P Chidambaram was required in the INX Media cases.
The submission was made before Justice Sunil Gaur who was hearing the plea of Chidambaram seeking anticipatory bail in the corruption and money laundering cases relating to the INX Media scandal.
The High Court reserved its order and the interim protection from arrest granted to Chidambaram will continue till the decision is passed on his plea for anticipatory bail. -- PTI
Himachal Pradesh: Visual of rehearsals for the Republic Day parade held in Keylong in Lahaul and Spiti district ahead of 26 January.
15:45 Here's what the govt has done to ensure Delhi is safe on R-Day
Around 25,000 security personnel were deployed across the city and security beefed up at strategic locations in central Delhi, which were on the target of two arrested terrorists planning strikes during the Republic Day, police said Friday.
Following the arrest of two suspected Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) members Abdul Latif Ganaie (29) alias Umair alias Dilawar, and Hilal Ahmad Bhat (26), who were planning to carry out terror strikes in the city during the 70th Republic Day celebrations, Delhi has been placed under high-security cover to avoid any terror strike or untoward incident.
The arrested members of the JeM had identified the Lajpat Nagar market, the Haj Manzil, the Turkman gate, Paharganj, India Gate and the IGL gas pipeline in east Delhi as potential targets, police said. Multi-layer security arrangements are in place.
Around 25,000 police personnel, including traffic officials, have been deployed. CCTV cameras and face-recognition cameras have also been installed at Rajpath, Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) Madhur Verma said.
Mobile hit teams, anti-aircraft guns and sharpshooters have also been deployed to keep a watch on the eight-km-long parade route from Rajpath to the Red Fort, besides the nearby localities.
Thirty-six women commandos of the Delhi Police's Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) unit, who were formally inducted in August last year, will also be part of the security arrangements.
Parakram vans, that are manned by NSG-trained commandos, have been patrolling strategic locations to ensure that security is not jeopardised. Snipers have been stationed atop high-rise buildings while scores of CCTV cameras are keeping a tight vigil on people's movements on the parade route.
Elaborate air defence measures, including deployment of anti-aircraft guns, have also been put in place to secure the airspace. Nearly 25,000 security personnel drawn from the Delhi Police and central security forces have been deployed in Central Delhi.
The police are also using counter-drone technology to thwart any attack or identify any suspicious flying object, a senior police officer said. -- PTI
15:34 The backstory behind Tharoor's 'farrago' tweet
Shashi Tharoor has finally cleared the air on his famous 2017 farrago tweet which catapulted him to meme fame. Tharoor said he posted the tweet in "flaming rage" without realising that a large part of it could be totally incomprehensible to many of his followers.
He had written, "exasperating farrago of distortions, misrepresentations and outright lies being broadcast by an unprincipled showman masquerading as a journalist".
"I didn't realize in my flaming rage that all the words except lies weren't particularly widely understood. I had been using the word (farrago) since my college days," he said.
The May 2017 tweet, a manifestation of his anger at a journalist reporting on his wife Sunanda Pushkar's death, sent many looking for an Oxford dictionary, while several others couldn't stop cracking jokes at his impeccable vocabulary.
The Congress leader, who was speaking at the ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival, said after the buzz his tweet generated on social media, people started taking more interest in the kind of words he was using. It is then that he realised he could use it to "make a certain larger point".
"I did it while using snollygoster for a politician, and got people talking about my new book 'The Paradoxical Prime Minster' by tweeting the word floccinaucinihilipilification to promote it last year," he said Thursday.
Tharoor said his failure to become the United Nations General Secretary opened the door to politics, a platform that lets him "advance a certain vision of India". -- PTI
Watch: Our interview with Shashi Tharoor right here
14:57 Gender counselling agency for BCCI CEO to be hired in 10 days: Vinod Rai
The Committee of Administrators (CoA) chief Vinod Rai Friday said an agency will be hired within the next 10 days to deal with recommended gender sensitisation classes for BCCI CEO Rahul Johri, two months after he was exonerated by a probe panel of alleged sexual harassment.
While Johri was cleared of the sexual harassment allegation in November, lawyer Veena Gowda, member of the three-member probe panel, recommended gender sensitisation classes for the CEO after finding his behaviour "unprofessional and inappropriate" on one occasion.
"Gender sensitisation will be pursued as per the recommendation of the inquiry committee, under the supervision of BCCI's POSH (prevention of sexual harassment committee) and it will be done without any delay. I expect it to be done within the next 10 days," Rai told PTI.
While COA had mulled gender counselling for the Indian team in the wake of sexist comments made by Hardik Pandya, little progress has been made in implementing the recommendation concerning Johri. Rai also made it clear that Johri has no issues in attending the classes.
"The CEO is willing to undergo gender sensitisation process. There is no issue there," said the former CAG.
Fellow COA member Diana Edulji also welcomed the chairman's move on the controversial subject. The delay happened mainly because Rai and Edulji differed on the choice of agency to be hired for the gender sensitisation classes. Edulji did not want the company (Kapgrow) which had conducted a POSH training programme for BCCI employees earlier this year and therefore, Gowda was entrusted with the job of recommending names of two agencies.
14:25 PM lives in palaces, keeps mother in small room: Cong leader
Congress leader Rashid Alvi has drawn flak for targeting PM Narendra Modi's mother in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls to be held a few months from now.
Alvi said the PM Modi has set a bad precedent for the youth in the country by not caring about his mother. He said Modi himself stays in palaces, wears suits and keeps pens worth lakhs of rupees but chooses to keep his mother in a '10X10 room'. "What kind of a message is he trying to send to the youth of the nation?" Alvi asked.
"Does Modi expect them to treat their mothers in the same manner?" the Congress leader asked.
Alvi also said there will be no democracy if Modi returns to power in 2019. He said people wont be able to speak freely and leaders like him wont be able to make speeches anymore. Alvi then attacked BJP leaders for using venomous language while speaking in public.
The PM's mother, Heeraben, lives in her ancestral house in Vadnagar, a small town in north Gujarats Mehsana district, with another son.
Alvis comments shortly after yet another controversial statement by likening Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and BJP leader Yogi Adityanath to a poisonous snake. He made the comments while speaking to party workers in Amroha.
14:14 Centre using CBI to harass opposition parties: Mamata
Describing the CBI as one of the "allies" of the BJP-led central government, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Friday alleged that the Centre was using the agency to harass the opposition parties throughout the country. She called the CBI, which was yet to get a new director, "headless" and said it has now become a "spineless BJP".
"So political vendetta continues. BJP & its 'allies' comprising multiple govt agencies harassing all allies of Oppn from Kol to Delhi & beyond," Banerjee tweeted. She also doubted whether the saffron party was "scared" and using the agencies in a "desperate" move.
"From @yadavakhilesh to Behen Mayawati Ji, nobody is spared. From north to south. From east to west. Political vendetta by BJP. Are they scared? Are they desperate? One headless agency has now become spineless BJP," she added.
The CBI registered a new case against former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and others over alleged irregularities in land allocation in Gurgaon in 2009 and carried out searches at 20 locations in Delhi-NCR Friday.
The CBI Thursday arrested renowned Bengali film producer Shrikant Mohta in connection with the Rose Valley chit fund scam, sources said. Mohta, considered close to the ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, allegedly duped Rose Valley of Rs 25 crore.
The CBI is without a full-time director as the meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led selection committee to decide on the next CBI chief remained inconclusive Thursday. -- PTI
14:00 Punes Tokyo bakery had the hardest time baking the softest Japanese bread
Japanese bread is all the rage in Europe right now. But it wasn't easy to bake it in India. Read the fascinating story here.
13:48 Speaker: Rahul needs sister's help to handle politics
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Thursday said Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's entry into politics shows that Congress chief Rahul Gandhi cannot handle politics alone and needs his sister's help.
The veteran BJP leader representing Indore in the lower house of parliament since 1989 further said that talented people must be given an opportunity to come forward.
Ending years of speculation, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra formally entered politics on Wednesday with the Congress appointing her general secretary for Uttar Pradesh East in a move reflecting the party's intent to go full throttle in the state ahead of the general elections.
"Priyanka is a good woman. But her appointment also shows Rahul has understood that he cannot do politics alone, so he asked his sister Priyanka to help him," Mahajan told reporters in Indore.
"I don't want to get into the family politics of the Congress, it's their own matter. But I would definitely say that a person, who has leadership capabilities, should be given an opportunity to come forward," she added.
She also congratulated Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia on his appointment as the party's general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh West.
Scindia is from Madhya Pradesh and is the Lok Sabha MP from Guna constituency in the state.
The shikhara of the Kedarnath shrine rises above the blanket of snow. The Kedarnath temple is closed during the winter months and opens end April.
Uttarakhand: Thick blanket of snow covers Kedarnath.
12:41 SC upholds Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code in entirety
The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code in a landmark judgment which will bar defaulting promoters from bidding for their own assets.
The apex court rejected pleas seeking changes in the IBC and upheld the code in entirety. It said that a founder cannot bid under the bankruptcy process.
Thus promoters of bankrupt firms have been banned from bidding for insolvent companies. The three-year-old code has undergone many twists and turns. Several defaulted promoters had challenged the validity of Section 29A, which bars them from bidding for their own stressed assets.
The IBC Amendment Act 2018, which replaced an earlier ordinance on Section 29A, debarred loan defaulters from bidding for stressed assets.The IBC hits at the root of the Rs 10 lakh crore non-performing assets crisis.
12:28 Republic Day: 855 police personnel decorated; 149 get gallantry medals
A total of 855 police and paramilitary personnel were awarded police medals Friday, including 149 for gallantry in Jammu and Kashmir, Naxal violence affected areas and others, ahead of the Republic Day.
The CRPF, the country's largest paramilitary force, was decorated with maximum 44 awards for bravery followed by Odisha Police at 26 medals, Jammu and Kashmir Police 25 medals and Chhattisgarh 14 medals.
Three CRPF personnel were also decorated posthumously with the top category President's Police Medal for Gallantry (PPMG). Other gallantry medal winners hail from Meghalaya (13), Uttar Pradesh (10), Border Security Force (8), Delhi (4), Jharkhand (3) and one each from the Assam Rifles and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police. A Ministry of Home Affairs order said a total of 146 Police Medal for Gallantry (PMG), 74 President's Police Medal for distinguished service and 632 police medal for meritorious service were conferred on the men and the women in khaki from various state police and central police forces and organisations. -- PTI
12:26 Meet the Daredevil biker on Republic Day
Captain Shikha Surabhi is the first woman to lead a formation of 36 men and 9 Royal Enfields of the Indian Army's motorcycle display team on Republic Day. She tells Rediff.com's Archana Masih how she made space for herself in a team that has never had a woman before. Full story here.
11:59 And it begins... Posters of 'Akhilesh for PM' spring up in Lucknow
Days after the SP-BSP announced an alliance for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, hoardings have come up in the Uttar Pradesh capital city projecting Akhilesh Yadav as the next Prime Minister of the country.
The posters have come up at many places in Lucknow, including one near the Samajwadi Party state headquarters as well as in front of Akhilesh Yadav's under-construction house.
The posters feature a large picture of Akhilesh Yadav, with the Hindi slogan which translates to 'We trust in Akhilesh- The country needs a new Prime Minister'.
The posters also have a small image of former SP supremo and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav on the top corner.
Reportedly, during the Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati's birthday celebration on January 15, some posters by BSP workers had come up, projecting Mayawati as the next Prime Minister.
The SP and BSP had formed an alliance earlier this month to jointly contest 38 seats each in Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha elections. -- ANI
11:51 That's what 6.9 cm of snow looks like
Major tourist places of Himachal Pradesh witnessed snowfall again, dipping the minimum temperatures below the freezing point in these areas Friday, the Meteorological department said.
Kufri 15 cm, Manali 10 cm, Shimla 6.9 cm and Kalpa 1 cm received snowfall from 5.30 pm Thursday to 8.30 am Friday, MeT Centre Shimla director Manmohan Singh said.
Besides, several low hills and plains of the state received light rains from 0.6 mm to 7.8 mm during the period, Singh added.
The minimum temperature in Kufri was minus 4.8 degrees Celsius, minus 2.4 degrees Celsius in Dalhousie, minus 1 degrees Celsius in Manali and minus 0.8 degrees Celsius in Shimla during the period, he said, adding that the minimum temperature in Kalpa was minus 6.2 degrees Celsius. Tribal Lahaul and Spiti's administrative centre Keylong continued to be the coldest place in the state at minus 14 degrees Celsius, Singh said. -- PTI
11:34 Votes can't be won on beauty: Bihar minister on Priyanka
Bihar minister Vinod Narayan Jha on Priyanka Gandhi: Votes can't be won on the basis of beautiful faces. Moreover, she is the wife of Robert Vadra who is accused of involvement in a land scam and several corruption cases. She's very beautiful, but other than that she holds no political achievement.
Ending years of fevered speculation, Gandhi family scion Priyanka Gandhi Vadra formally entered politics on Wednesday with her brother and Congress president Rahul Gandhi appointing her as general secretary for Uttar Pradesh East, which also comprises Lok Sabha seats of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and state chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
Signalling the Congress' intent to go full throttle in the state ahead of the high-stakes general elections, Priyanka's appointment immediately became a point of political debate with leaders of the Congress and its allies welcoming it saying she will be a 'great success' for the party while the Bharatiya Janata Party dubbed her entry into active politics 'as an admission by the Congress that its president Rahul Gandhi has failed in providing leadership'.
11:30 When a gora produced a Bollywood movie
If there's one thing Bollywood doesn't have, it's an Angrez producer. But now, that's covered too, thanks to Michael Ward. "You won't see even one gora Bollywood producer," Michael tells Rediff.com's Ronjita Kulkarni confidently. Read the interview here.
11:26 SC to hear plea challenging 10% reservations for general category
The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to examine pleas challenging the Centre's decision to grant 10 per cent quota in jobs and education to poor in the general category.
The court said it will consider listing the Centre's review and petitions challenging the amendments to the SC/ ST Act 2018, together before an appropriate bench.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said it will consider and do the needful.
Attorney General K K Venugopal said that a bench headed by Justice A K Sikri had on Thursday passed an order, saying it will be appropriate to hear the Centre's review and writ petitions against the SC/ST Act 2018 together.
The apex court had on Thursday refused to stay the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018 which restored the provision that no anticipatory bail be granted to the accused.
The Parliament on August 9 last year had passed the bill to overturn the apex court order relating to certain safeguards against arrest under the SC and ST law.
The court was hearing the pleas alleging that the two Houses of Parliament had "arbitrarily" decided to amend the law and restored the previous provisions in such a manner so that an innocent cannot avail the right of anticipatory bail.
11:01 CBI registers new case against ex-Haryana CM Hooda in land scam
The CBI Friday registered a new case against former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and others over alleged irregularities in land allocation and carried out searches at 30 locations in Delhi-NCR, officials said.
A team of officials from the agency arrived early morning at Hooda's residence in Rohtak, Haryana, they said. According to the officials, 30 locations in the Delhi-NCR region are part of the probe, the officials said.
The agency is tight-lipped about the details of the case as the search operation is underway. The case is understood to be related to alleged irregularities in land allotment, sources said. -- PTI
Narkanda near Shimla covered in a blanket of snow.
10:30 Ex-BSP lawmaker booked for 'beheading' remark
A criminal case was registered against former Bahujan Samaj Party legislator Vijay Yadav at the Civil Lines police station in Moradabad for his alleged "beheading" remark aimed at a BJP MLA.
"An FIR was lodged by BJP leader Raju Kalra against Yadav on the basis of a newspaper report, in which Yadav has announced a Rs-50 lakh award for beheading Sadhna Singh," an official said.
At at a rally on Saturday, Mughalsarai MLA Sadhana Singh had called BSP chief Mayawati a "blot on womankind" and "worse than a transgender". Yadav's "beheading" comment is believed to be in response to the BJP MLA's remarks on Mayawati. PTI
10:20 Sensex jumps over 250 points, Nifty reclaims 10,900 level
The benchmark BSE Sensex jumped over 250 points and the NSE Nifty reclaimed the 10,900 mark Friday on continued buying by institutional and retail investors amid encouraging 3Q earnings by some more companies. Besides, positive leads from other Asian markets also buoyed trading sentiments.
The 30-share index advanced by 253.42 points, or 0.71 per cent, to 36,448.52, after rising to 36,474.05 in early trade. The gauge had gained about 87 points in the previous session.
The NSE Nifty rose by 79.75 points, or 0.74 per cent, to 10,929.55. All the sectoral indices, led by capital goods, bankex, oil and gas and metal stocks, were trading higher.
Major gainers that supported the uptrend were Yes Bank, Bharti Airtel, HCL Tech, Axis Bank, Maruti Suzuki, PowerGrid, L&T, IndusInd Bank, ONGC, Tata Motors, Sun Pharma, Vedanta Ltd, RIL, ITC Ltd, TCS, Coal India, Tata Steel, NTPC, HDFC Ltd, Kotak Bank, Bajaj Finance and SBI, rising up to 8.35 per cent. -- PTI
10:09 Ludhiana swine flu: Seven die in 24 days
At least seven people have died of swine flu in the past 24 days in Punjab's Ludhiana city, where 20 out of 40 suspected cases of swine flu tested positive this year, officials said.
Dr Parvinder Pal Singh Sidhu, Civil Surgeon, Ludhiana told ANI: "Ludhiana has seen 40 suspected cases of swine flu out of which 20 have been confirmed and seven have died. The seven victims were all old in age. In 2018 there were 69 cases registered out of which three died.
The state government is conducting a door-to-door survey to get the latest count and is providing free treatment for swine flu in hospitals.
"People should use hand sanitizer and always wear mufflers and warm clothes to protect oneself from infection," Dr Sidhu said.
Swine flu is a viral infection that affects the respiratory tract and caused mainly by transmission of the virus through respiratory droplets when people exhale, cough, sneeze, drip, etc. -- ANI
09:53 Maharashtra govt to disburse Rs 2900 crore for drought relief measures
The Maharashtra government has announced disbursement of Rs 2,900 crore for relief measures in the drought-affected areas of the state."The state government will release compensation to farmers which will be credited into their accounts in the coming days," Relief and Rehabilitation Minister of Maharashtra, Chandrakant Patil said on Thursday."
151 Tahsil, 268 Mandals, 923 villages have been declared drought affected. All the schemes related to the light bill, fodder for cows and others are being looked upon," he added.
The minister said that the state government had already sent a proposal to the Centre, demanding Rs 7,900 crore for drought relief measures. However, considering the gravity of the situation, Maharashtra government will distribute Rs 2,900 crore from its own treasury for relief measures in the affected areas.
"The state government has directed the district collectors to start one or more fodder camps at mandal levels," Patil said adding that each camp will house around 300-500 animals.On the recent earthquake in Palgarh, the minister said: "The state government is well aware and alert and is training people of the villages to take necessary precautions. If needed, we will relocate them." -- PTI
09:44 Up to Rs 10K fine for drinking, cooking in open in Goa
The Goa government has decided to charge fines between Rs 2,000 and Rs 10,000 from people for drinking and cooking in the open, state Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar said Thursday.
The Tourist Trade Act will be amended suitably during the Goa Assembly session beginning on January 29 for this purpose, he informed. "People found creating nuisance like drinking in public or cooking in the open will be fined up to Rs 10,000.
While an individual will be fined Rs 2,000, a group indulging in such an offence will be charged Rs 10,000," Ajgaonkar told reporters. In case the fine is not paid, the offender can face imprisonment of up to three months, he added. -- PTI
09:11 Afghan Taliban co-founder to head peace talks with US
The Afghan Taliban has appointed its co-founder as the head of its political office in Qatar, which has been entrusted with the task of peace talks with the United States.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who was recently released by Pakistan from house arrest, has been appointed as the deputy of the leader in political affairs and the chief of the political office of the "Islamic Emirate", Taliban said.
"This step has been taken to strengthen and properly handle the ongoing negotiations process with the United States," the Taliban said.
The appointment of Baradar is seen as a positive signal from the Taliban for peace talks initiative initiated by Special US Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.
According to the statement, the Taliban also made other changes to the military and civilian departments of the "Islamic Emirate" so that the "ongoing Jihadi process and political efforts can develop positively".
Baradar, according to analysts here, is considered to be part of the Taliban group that favours peace talks with the US. He was detained in a February 2010 raid in Karachi by the US and Pakistani agencies.
In 2013, it was reported he was supposed to be released by Pakistan so that he can lead peace talks with the US. But he continued to be under house arrest. -- PTI
09:01 Disability, war injury pension for personnel shall be minimum Rs 18,000 per month: Def Min
With approval from the defence minister, it has been decided that disability or war injury pension for armed forces personnel shall be minimum Rs 18,000 per month, the ministry said Thursday.
"With approval from Smt @nsitharaman, it has been decided that the disability/war injury pension, special family pension and liberalised family pension shall be minimum Rs 18,000 per month for Defence Forces pensioners/family pensioners, with effect from 1/1/2016," the Defence Ministry said in a tweet.
The defence ministry last July had said armed forces personnel would continue to get disability pension based on percentage system till the Anomaly Committee came out with a report on the issue.
There was widespread criticism from opposition parties and the military establishment over a letter issued prior to that which had introduced a slab-based system, as recommended by the 7th Pay Commission, for determining the disability pension for defence forces.
Following this, the ministry had referred the matter to the Anomaly Committee.
However, there was confusion as to what system would be used to determine disability pension.
Till the committee comes out with a report, existing percentage system will be used to determine disability pension, defence sources said. -- PTI
08:54 Sushil Modi calls Priyanka Gandhi 'woman with tainted life partner'
Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi launched a vitriolic attack on Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Thursday, a day after she entered active politics, saying the Congress was feeling happy "over the induction of a woman with a tainted life partner".
In a tweet, the senior BJP leader also scoffed at Priyanka Gandhi's resemblance with her grandmother and former prime minister Indira Gandhi.
"If a person could become as capable as someone else merely by resembling him or her, by now we would have had many more Virat Kohlis and Amitabh Bachchans. Duplicates do not work in politics. Priyanka might resemble Indira, but there is a big difference," Modi said.
He also compared Priyanka Gandhi's husband and businessman Robert Vadra with Indira Gandhi's spouse Firoz Gandhi.
The deputy chief minister said Firoz Gandhi was a good orator and an upright parliamentarian "who had the guts to speak against his powerful father-in-law", Jawaharlal Nehru.
"Priyanka's businessman husband's irregular land transactions are spread across two states and he is facing probes. If the Congress wants to exult over the induction of a woman with a tainted life partner, it is most welcome to do so," Modi said.
Earlier, talking to reporters in Patna on the sidelines of a function, he had claimed that Priyanka Gandhi's induction into the Congress was aimed at "threatening the SP-BSP alliance".
Priyanka Gandhi formally entered politics on Wednesday with her brother and Congress president Rahul Gandhi appointing her as general secretary for Uttar Pradesh East. -- PTI
08:31 Indian-American lawmaker Ro Khanna joins key Congressional committees
Indian-American Democratic Congressman Ro Khanna has been appointed to several key Congressional committees, reflecting his growing stature within his party and the Congress.
In the current 116th Congress, Khanna has joined three influential committees -- Oversight and Reform, Armed Services and Budget.
The 42-year-old Congressman, who represents Silicon valley, has also joined the House Armed Services subcommittees on Intelligence and Emerging Threats, and Strategic Forces, as well as the Oversight subcommittees of Government Operations and Economic Policy.
"I'm honoured to have the confidence of Speaker Pelosi to serve on these committees at such a critical time in our nation's history," Khanna said.
He further said: "I look forward to using these assignments to spark discussions around how we are going to grow the digital economy, forge a progressive foreign policy, hold the administration accountable and modernise government technologies".
The committee on Oversight and Reform serves as the primary investigative body for the US House of Representatives and plays a crucial role in holding the Trump Administration accountable for many of the outstanding questions over potential campaign, ethics and constitutional violations.
One of the first such investigations will focus on the ongoing issues of security clearance at the White House, a statement issued by the office of Khanna said.
The committee also has sweeping jurisdiction in many policy areas, allowing Khanna and his colleagues to conduct oversight over "any matter" it believes would serve the American people, it said.
Some of the first hearings will look at rising drug prices, campaign finance and lobbying reform.
The committee on the Budget drafts the annual budget resolution that sets the levels of revenue and spending expected each fiscal year.
Pelosi has already committed to holding hearings before the Budget committee on Medicare for all, where Khanna plans to continue his fight for universal health care in the country.
Khanna has been a leading advocate in the movement for universal health coverage and for lowering prescription drug costs. -- PTI
00:56 Pak SC to hear review plea against Aasia's acquittal in blasphemy case
Pakistan's Supreme Court will decide on January 29 whether to allow an appeal against its acquittal of a Christian woman who was on death row for eight years for blasphemy.
The Supreme Court's decision in October last year to overturn the conviction of Aasia Bibi sparked nationwide protests and death threats from hardline groups.
Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa will head the three-member bench that will hear the review petition, filed by the complainant in the case Qari Muhammad Salaam, next week on Tuesday, the Dawn reported.
Aasia, a 47-year-old mother of four, who is now in protective custody, was convicted in 2010 after being accused of insulting Islam in a row with her neighbours.
She always maintained her innocence, but spent most of the past eight years in solitary confinement.
She challenged the verdict in October 2014 in the Lahore high court which upheld the death sentence.
The apex court's decision to acquit her had sparked three-day-long mass protests led by the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).
The protests were called off after the religio-political party reached an agreement with the government, the foremost condition of which was the placement of Aasia's name on the Exit Control List.
The government, however, had only agreed to 'initiate the legal process' to place her name on the list, while also agreeing that it would not oppose any review petitions being filed against the court judgment.
After her release from Multan's women prison on November 7, Aasia was flown to Islamabad onboard a special aircraft. She was then taken to an undisclosed place amid tight security.
Authorities have remained tightlipped about her movement and whereabouts for security reasons.
Qari filed the review petition in the case on November 1, 2018 at the Lahore registry of the apex court, urging the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision.
The petitioner had also sought the placement of Aasia's name on the Exit Control List (ECL) till the judgment is reviewed.
In the petition, it has been argued that the Supreme Court's acquittal of Aasia did not meet the standards of jurisprudence as well as Islamic provisions and the 'normal principle of justice with reference to application in blasphemy laws'.
It has also asked that a member of the Appellate Shariat Court be included in the bench that reviews the judgement 'because this matter needs detailed in-depth consideration and due to the peculiar circumstances of the case as well as Application of Section 295-C in its time letter and spirit'.
It has also challenged the Supreme Court's dismissal of the alleged 'confession' that Aasia was forced to make by the people of her village and argued that the Supreme Court should have applied the Law of Evidence differently in this case.
Her case has been deeply divisive in Pakistan where there is strong support for the controversial blasphemy laws.
The blasphemy laws were promulgated by former military dictator Ziaul Haq in 1980s. A person convicted under these laws is given death sentence.
Aasia was accused of committing blasphemy in 2009. She was convicted in 2010 by the trial court and her death sentence was maintained by the Lahore high court in 2014.
Her case gained prominence when former governor of Pakistan's Punjab province Salman Taseer was killed in 2011 for supporting her and criticising the blasphemy laws.
A month after Taseer was killed, Pakistan's religious minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian who spoke out against the blasphemy law, was shot dead in Islamabad. -- PTI