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LIVE! No objection if bail granted to Sadhvi Pragya: NIA tells HC

18:21  Iran says not worried, has options if Trump axes nuke deal:  Iran’s foreign minister says his country isn’t worried and has options if United States President- elect Donald Trump ditches a nuclear agreement reached between Iran and six world powers. 

But Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran believes “it is in the interest of everybody to stick to the deal.” 

He told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting in Kuala Lumpur today that if Trump’s government walks away from the deal, “we will make him surprised.” 

He declined to elaborate. The deal was negotiated by Iran and the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, and was enshrined in a legally binding UN resolution.

It imposed limits on the Iranian nuclear program in exchange for lifting UN economic sanctions.

18:03  Uddhav mum on tie-up with BJP for Mumbai civic polls:  

Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday made a slew of announcements which his party intends to implement if voted to power in the BMC, but maintained silence over alliance with the BJP in the upcoming civic polls.

“Talks of alliance with the BJP have not reached me as yet. As and when it reaches me, I will talk about it. Also, I would not like to talk on the alliance at a time when talks are progressing positively,” Thackeray said, while addressing reporters in Mumbai.

The pre-poll alliance talks between the BJP and the Shiv Sena, after veering towards a broad consensus over the issue, had shifted to haggling between local leaders of both parties, over which seats they can win.

Sena MP Anil Desai had said that after the second round of meeting with the BJP, the latter demanded 114 seats for polls to the 227-member BMC.

Thackeray has set a deadline of January 21 for wrapping up the talks as he would announce his decision on the eve of late Sena chief Bal Thackeray’s birth anniversary that falls on January 23.

The Sena chief said there is a big question mark on housing and health sector in the city.

“We have thus decided that for existing homes having a carpet area of upto 500 sq ft, property tax will be completely waived off and for homes upto 700 sq ft, there will be a concession in property taxes,” he said, adding that the Sena does not indulge in election ‘jumlas’ (rhetoric).

“Our relation with people is not limited to elections,” he asserted.

Thackeray also said that housing societies which indulge in activities like rain water harvesting, use solar electricity, they will be given additional benefits by the BMC.

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17:40  No objection if bail granted to Sadhvi Pragya: NIA tells HC:  

The National Investigation Agency, probing the 2008 Malegaon bomb blast case, on Thursday told the Bombay high court that it has no objection if the HC grants bail to accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur.

Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for the NIA, said the agency has already held that the provisions of stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act are not applicable in the case.

A division bench of Justices R V More and Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi was hearing an appeal filed by Sadhvi challenging a sessions court order rejecting her bail.

“The earlier probe agency, Maharashtra Anti Terrorism Squad, had applied MCOCA on the ground that the accused persons were involved in other blasts also and hence were part of an organised crime syndicate. However, the NIA probe has revealed that the accused persons were only involved in Malegaon blast and hence MCOCA is not applicable,” Singh said.

“Even before NIA took over the probe, several prime witnesses have retracted their statements and complained that they were forced by ATS to say false things in their statements. Considering all this, we (NIA) have no objection to the court granting bail to applicant (Sadhvi),” he said.

Sadhvi, in her bail plea, claimed that she has been languishing in jail for over six years and with two probe agencies submitting contradictory findings to the court, it would not be correct to keep her in jail.

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17:26  How PETA cared for animals in its care:  People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an organisation which claims that “animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on or use for entertainment” and claims to work for their “welfare and rehabilitation”, was reportedly responsible for the death of around 2,000 domestic animals in its care in 2011, reports Swarajya, and that ‘a 2012 report by a non-profit organisation has revealed that PETA has “killed” 34,000 animals at its headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia since 1998,’ here.

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17:15  The Trump-Modi strongman syndrome:  On Friday, when Trump is inaugurated as President, he will join Modi as the latest figure in the world’s swelling ranks of populist-nationalist leaders, a gallery of strongmen in countries rich and poor, some more democratic and some less so, who govern partly through intimidation and a certain curated arbitrariness, a methodology of deliberate surprise, writes Steve Coll, dean of Graduate School of Journalism in Columbia University, in The New Yorker here.

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17:09  Budget process kicks off with Jaitley’s ‘halwa ceremony’ :  

The process of printing documents for the 2017-18 budget began on Thursday with ‘halwa ceremony’ in presence of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

Jaitley participated in the ritual along with other finance ministry officials at the North Block in New Delhi.

More than 100 finance ministry officials will stay in Budget Printing Press till Jaitley presents his budget speech.

As a part of the ritual, which has continued for long, ‘halwa’ was prepared in a big ‘kadhai’ and served to the entire staff in the ministry.

This year’s Budget, which will be the third full-fledged budget of the present National Democratic Alliance government, is scheduled to be unveiled in Parliament on February 1.

The ‘lock-in’ of the documents is followed by the ‘halwa ceremony’, which is observed to maintain the secrecy of the budget preparation process.

Photograph: ANI

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16:40  The incredible experiences of Manish Kumar in Mauritania:  An Indian hacker promised governments he could supply them with NSA-level technology. But when Mauritania hired him to help spy on its cell networks, things went way, way south, says Bloomberg, profiling the incredible story of Manish Kumar, a Delhi techie who dreamt big. You can read the full article here.

Image used for representational purposes only. Photograph: Steve Marcus/Reuters.

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16:25  Jallikattu is a cultural symbol. Respect it: Vishwanathan Anand:  

As protests for conducting Jallikattu continued state-wide, five time World Chess Champion Vishwanathan Anand extended his support to holding the bull taming sport, saying it was a cultural symbol. 

“#jallikattu is a cultural symbol. Respect it. Im all for animal rights but here that is not the point. tradition & livelihood are”, the chess legend wrote in his official micro-blogging site Twitter. 

“my state rises again. In unison. In peace. Proud to be a #tamizhanda. Genext here are modern yet culturally rooted #JusticeforJallikattu”, Anand who hails from Chennai, said. 

Thousands of Jallikattu supporters, including celebrities from the film industry and cricketers have extended support to the protesters, who have flocked to Marina beach in Chennai, besides staging protests across Tamil Nadu. 

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16:06  SP confirms alliance with Congress; RLD left out:   Samajwadi Party’s national vice president Kironmoy Nanda has said that his party will be entering into an alliance with the Congress for the upcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly polls.

However, the Rashtriya Lok Dal will not be a part of the alliance, he said.

“Yes we are entering into an alliance with Congress, seats will be announced soon. There were no talks with RLD,” Nanda said.

Nanda said Samajwadi Party will contest on 300 plus seats out of the total 403, leaving the rest for the Congress.

Earlier, Congress in-charge for UP Ghulam Nabi Azad had confirmed that the party will join hands with the SP for UP polls. — PTI, ANI

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15:37  LCA Tejas to be the new attraction at R-Day parade this year:  India’s indigenous Light Combat Aircraft Tejas and indigenous helicopters Rudra and HAL Dhruv would be flying over Rajpath this Republic Day.

This will the first time that Tejas will take part in the parade.

The Indian Air Force has begun the practice of its aircraft for a thundering R-Day flypast.

As many as 34 aircraft of the IAF will perform various manoeuvres during the Republic Day celebrations to be attended by United Arab Emirates crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan as the chief guest.

The parade will also witness MI 17 V5s flying in Ensign formation as soon as the Parade Commander reaches the saluting base in front of President Pranab Mukherjee.

There will be 19 fighters, 11 helicopters and four transport aircrafts enthralling the public this year.

As many as 12 aircraft will be kept on a stand-by. The aircrafts participating in flypast this year are Jaguars, C130J Hercules, C17 Globemaster, Su30, MI 17 V5s, ALH Dhruv, MI-35 (attack helicopters).

Keeping weather conditions in mind, the IAF is not taking chances and it has already put the aircrafts on detachments with various airbases.

The fighters flying at minimum of about 500 kms/hr get airborne much before the parade begins and maintains the precision time with a minimum error, if any, as close as 10 seconds.

The airbases from where these aircrafts will fly are Hindan, Jotpur, Nal and Jaipur. — ANI

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15:07  Actor Salman Khan arrived in Mumbai on Thursday from Jodhpur after attending the court hearing.

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14:59  Rs 71 cr in cash, liquor worth Rs 7.7 cr recovered in UP :  The Election Commission-appointed surveillance and expenditure monitoring teams have recovered over Rs 80.44 crore in cash, including Rs 71.32 crore from Uttar Pradesh alone, and liquor and drugs worth over Rs 8 crore and Rs 6.45 crore respectively from the five poll-bound states. 

As per official data, Punjab has witnessed the maximum seizure of drugs worth Rs 5.54 crore (heroine and poppy husk) followed by Goa valued at Rs 16.72 lakh while such seizures in Manipur amounted to Rs 7 lakh. 

The maximum of 2.71 lakh litres liquor worth Rs 7.71 crore has been seized in Uttar Pradesh while 11,809 litres liquor has been seized in Punjab valued at Rs 20.04 lakh. 

There has been no cash and illicit liquor seizure in Goa while Manipur has had no liquor seizure till now.  

The assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur will be held between February 4 and March 8. Counting of votes for all states will take place on March 11.

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14:45  SP campaign vehicle features Mulayam prominently:   Samajwadi Party campaign vehicle is ready and it has Mulayam Singh Yadav’s image as well as that of Akhilesh.

Akhilesh had said after wining the poll symbol ‘cycle’, ‘We’ll take Netaji along’.

The vehicle also has Akhilesh’s uncle Ram Gopal Yadav’s pictures, but Shivpal, as was expected, is missing.

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14:31  TN lawyers to boycott courts in support of Jallikattu:  The Madras high court Advocates Association today announced boycott of the courts tomorrow in support of state wide protests demanding a lifting ban on Jallikattu.

President of the Association G Mohanakrishnan, however, made it clear that the boycott was not against Supreme Courts order banning the bull taming sport but only against People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, which is opposing sport.

A section of lawyers also held a procession outside the high court raising slogans against PETA.

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13:56  Australian Open: Defending champion Djokovic knocked out:   Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin stunned second seed and World No 2 Novak Djkoovic to move into the 3rd round of the Australian Open.

Istomin matched Djokovic shot for shot to win 7-6, 5-7 2-6, 7-6, 6-4 in a 4-and-a-half-hour contest at the Rod Laver Arena on Thursday.

13:56  JUST IN: PMK MP and former Union minister Anbumani Ramadoss who was sitting in support of Jallikattu outside the PM’s residence at 7, Lok Kalyan Marg, has been detained by the police.

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13:49  Ramadoss protests outside PM’s residence:  Pattali Makkal Katchi MP Anbumani Ramadoss sits in support of Jallikattu outside the prime minister’s residence at 7 Lok Kalyan Marg, Delhi.

Earlier, he sought to meet PM Narendra Modi.

“The prime minister refuses to meet me. I don’t have any other way but to sit outside his house till he meets me,” Ramadoss said.

Photograph: ANI

13:35  Italy: ‘Many dead’ as avalanche hits hotel after quake:  An Italian rescue official has said that a number of people have been killed after a hotel was hit by an avalanche, apparently triggered by an earthquake on Wednesday, the BBC reported.

Media reports said there had been at least 20 guests and seven staff at the Hotel Rigopiano on the lower slopes of the Gran Sasso mountain when the first of four powerful quakes hit the region on Wednesday morning.

Rescuers battled overnight to reach the hotel close to the Gran Sasso mountain in the Abruzzo region.

More details awaited.

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13:32  How Barack Obama becomes a tragic hero of our times :  In his famous existentialist essay The Tragic Sense of Life, the Spanish philosopher, novelist, poet and academic Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936) describes people’s concern with their legacy as a “tremendous struggle to singularise ourselves, to survive in some way in the memory of others and of posterity. It is this struggle that gives tone, colour, and character to our society.”   

The desire to bequeath a lasting legacy is a trait of most politicians. But a theoretical construct of what constitutes legacy is never quite satisfactorily arrived at… says Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar in his latest post on Rediff Blogs.
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13:10  Wait, good will happen on Jallikattu, OPS says after meeting Modi:  The Tamil Nadu government will soon take steps along with the Centre on how to enable Jallikattu, Chief Minister O Panneerselvam said after his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “You will soon see steps. Wait, good will happen,” he said.

He said he gave a letter to Prime Minister Narednra Modi saying that ban on Jallikattu must be lifted and the Centre should draft an ordinance to this effect.

“PM Modi said he gives highest importance to cultural values of the state. He assured he will extend full support to us,” Pannerselvam said. 

He also spoke to the PM on drought conditions in the state. “There is drought in 50 per cent of the state,” Panneerselvam said.

He said he had sought Rs 32,000 crore from the Centre for drought relief.

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12:22  Lashkar, not JeM, was behind Uri attack, says NIA:   The National Investigation Agency has said that Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and not, Jaish-e-Mohammed, was behind the Uri and Handwara attacks, the probe suggests.

The investigation agency said Jaish was behind Nagrota army camp attack in which two officers and five soldiers were killed.

Earlier, it was believed that the four attackers — who killed 19 soldiers in a pre-dawn attack at the Uri administrative base of 10 Dogra regiment — were from Pak-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed.

The NIA has also written to the ministry of home affairs for transferring the Kanpur train tragedy case to them, which is likely to be transferred today. It is suspected that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence was behind the derailment of two trains in the district.

The NIA also said that the Centre entrusted to it investigation of 12 case related to the Islamic State in which 52 accused were arrested and 35 are absconding.

It said 78 bank accounts, all in India, of Islamic preacher Zakir Naik are under scanner. The agency said investment of Zakir Naik’s NGO in real estate is around Rs 100 crore. — ANI

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11:40  J&K assembly passes resolution for return of Kashmiri Pandits:  The Jammu and Kashmir assembly today unanimously passed a resolution for creating a conducive atmosphere for the return of Kashmiri Pandits and other migrants to the Valley.

Soon after the House met in the morning, former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the assembly should pass a resolution for the return of Kashmiri Pandits and other migrants, rising above party politics.

The working president of National Conference said 27 years ago ‘unfortunate’ circumstances in Kashmir had forced the migration of Kashmiri Pandit community, members of Sikh community and some Muslims.

“Today, it has been 27 years since they (Kashmiri Pandits, some Sikhs and Muslims) left the Valley and we should rise above politics and pass a resolution in the house for their comeback,” Omar said.

As the Question Hour came to an end, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Abdul Rehman Veeri approved that the resolution should be brought in the House.

Speaker Kavinder Gupta moved the resolution which was passed by voice vote.

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11:33  Sting of the Beatle: McCartney sues for copyright to songs:  Musician Paul McCartney has filed a federal lawsuit against music publishing company Sony/ATV, reclaiming the copyright ownership on the songs that he wrote with the English rock band Beatles. 

The 74-year-old hopes to regain his copyrights to songs such as Yesterday, Hey Jude and The Long and Winding Road that he wrote with John Lennon by October 2018, reports the Hollywood Reporter

The singer and songwriter filed the lawsuit in the US District Court in New York to confirm his ownership of the songs. 

The original rights to the songs, penned by Lennon and The Fool on the Hill songwriter between 1962 and 1971, were sold at the time in exchange for royalties. 

The lawsuit claims McCartney has been making several such legal filings since 2008. 

The former Beatle’s legal team is citing the 1976 Copyright Act, which says the right to works made before 1978 must be returned to their creators 56 years after the date of the original copyright. 

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11:07  OPS meets PM; urges for ordinance to lift Jallikattu ban:  Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and requested him to promulgate and ordinance to lift ban on bull taming sport Jallikattu, even as the Supreme Court refused to hear a plea seeking hearing of the matter pertaining to public protest at Marina beach.

The Supreme Court asked the petitioner to approach the concerned Court.

Meanwhile, thousands continued to throng Chennais Marina beach to join the pro-Jallikattu protests, including actors from the Tamil film industry.

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10:41  UPDATE: At least 10 children killed, some others injured as school bus collides with lorry in Uttar Pradesh’s Etah district: Police.

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10:32  PeeCee on a roll, scores second win at People’s Choice Awards in US:  Indian actress Priyanka Chopra pipped Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo and Viola Davis to win the favourite dramatic TV actress trophy for her role in Quantico at the 2017 People’s Choice Awards.   

This is the 34-year-old actress’s second People’s Choice win, having been named the favourite actress in a new TV series last year.   

After being announced as the winner in the favourite dramatic TV actress category, which also had Kerry Washington and Taraji P Henson as nominees, Priyanka hugged her mother, Madhu Chopra, who accompanied her at the award show, before heading to the stage.   

An “overwhelmed” Priyanka said she is honoured to have been nominated alongside the likes of Pompeo, Davis and others.   

“Thank you to the people. This has been an incredible journey. Every single woman that were nominated with me today, all these incredible actresses are the reason that I joined television,” the actress said as her Baywatch co-star Dwayne Johnson cheered her from the audience.   

“Being in the same category as them is so overwhelming. Thank you to all of you who have accepted me and loved my show, my wonderful cast… this means the world to me,” said Priyanka, who chose a Sally LaPointe skirt and top for the ceremony.   

Joking about her concussion, she said, “I am really excited. Can I do a little wiggle? Sorry it’s the concussion talking.”

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10:24  Delhi: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Pannerselvam arrives at 7, Lok Kalyan Marg to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to urge for an ordinance to lift Jallikattu ban. Photograph: ANI

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10:12  Fight to lift Jallikattu ban moves to Delhi; OPS to meet PM shortly:   Activists protest outside Tamil Nadu House in support of Jallikattu.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Pannerselvam to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi shortly.

Pttali Makkal Katchi MP Anbumani Ramadoss has also sought an appointment with the PM.

Pro-Jallikattu protesters at Chennai’s Marina Beach also garner support through social media.

IMAGE: Protesters outside TN House in New Delhi. Photograph: ANI

10:08  JUST IN: Eight schoolchildren dead, 40 injured as bus collides with a truck in Etah district’s Aliganj in UttarPradesh.

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09:56  Jaipur Lit Fest begins today:  Jaipur Literature Festival will begin today in the pink city of Rajasthan.

Celebrated writers, thinkers, journalists, historians, poets, novelists and musicians are participating in the five-day event.

A large number of literature lovers are likely to attend the festival.

Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje along with poet and lyricist Gulzar will inaugurate the festival this morning.

A special session on ‘Freedom to Dream’ will also be held where writers will discuss their dreams and dreams of India. — ANI

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09:10  BJP worker hacked to death in Kannur, hartal called in town:  A Bharatiya Janata Party worker was hacked to death in Kannur district of Kerala on Wednesday night. 52-year old Mullapram Ezhuthan Santhosh was murdered when he was alone in his house.  

The BJP alleged that the Communist Party of India-Marxist is behind the murder, and called for a hartal in Kannur.  

The police have taken some persons into custody and are questioning them. The police said it was a political murder.

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09:07  Lashkar terrorist killed in encounter in J&K’s Bandipora:  A Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorist was killed in an encounter with the police and security forces in Jammu and Kashmir’s Bandipora district today. The encounter took place in Hajin area of Bandipora district. 

This comes days after three terrorists were killed in an encounter with security forces in Anantnag district. 

In a similar incident on January 6, Al-Badr terrorist Muzaffar Ahmed was killed in an encounter with the Army and the police in Machu area of Budgam district in Jammu and Kashmir.

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08:18  Pro-Jallikattu protests grow stronger; OPS to meet PM today:  People in large numbers continued to gather at Chennai’s Marina Beach on Thursday morning in support of bull taming sport Jallikattu.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Pannerselvam will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi today to urge him to promulgate an ordinance to lift the ban on Jallikattu, even as he requested the youth and protesters to give up their agitation over the issue.

‘Tamil Nadu Government will continue to take necessary steps to ensure holding of Jallikattu- CM O Panneerselvam (sic),’ the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam tweeted.

Meanwhile, more than 4,000 protesters, mostly students, converged at Marina beach demanding for the removal of ban on Jallikattu. They are also seeking a ban on the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, which has antagonised the people for having anti-Jallikattu stand.

The call for a ban on PETA also resonated within the AIADMK, with general secretary Sasikala Natarajan leading the chorus for it. — ANI

IMAGE: Pro-Jallikattu protesters at Marina beach on Thursday morning. Photograph: ANI

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01:27  Obama defends Manning commutation amid criticism:  

President Obama, at his final press conference in office, on Wednesday defended his controversial decision to commute the bulk of Chelsea Manning’s 35-year prison sentence for leaking classified documents — claiming the former Army intelligence analyst served a “tough” sentence, and disputing the notion that clemency could embolden future leakers.

“I feel very comfortable that justice has been served and that a message has still been sent,” the president said.

The president has faced mounting bipartisan criticism over the commutation, announced as part of a wave of clemency decisions a day earlier. Manning, who has served more than six years of the 35-year sentence, will now be released in May.

To detractors warning the decision set a dangerous precedent, the president pushed back.  

“Chelsea Manning has served a tough prison sentence, so the notion that the average person who is thinking about disclosing vital classified information would think that it goes unpunished, I dont think would get that impression from the sentence that Chelsea Manning has served,” Obama said.

Citing the time served and saying Manning’s sentence was “disproportionate,” Obama said: “It made sense to commute, and not pardon, her sentencing.”

01:19  Seoul court considers arrest of Samsung vice chairman:  

A South Korean court is considering whether to approve the arrest of Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jae-yong, one of the country’s wealthiest business leaders, on charges of bribery and other offenses.

Lee, the only son of Samsung’s chairman, did not speak to a crowd of reporters when he arrived and left the Seoul Central District Court today. After a four-hour hearing he was taken to a detention center near Seoul to await the court’s decision.

If Lee’s arrest is approved, prosecutors can detain him for up to 21 days before formally charging him, court spokesman Shin Jae-hwan said. He said the judge will announce a decision on the arrest warrant early tomorrow morning, though the exact timing was unclear.

Samsung is South Korea’s biggest family-controlled conglomerate, or chaebol, with businesses encompassing consumer electronics, shipbuilding and life insurance. 

Samsung Electronics, the group’s crown jewel, is the world’s biggest maker of smartphones and computer memory chips. Samsung Electronics and its affiliated companies account for about a third of the market value in South Korea’s main stock market. The company had no comment on the hearing today.

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01:18  China’s Xi calls for world without nuclear weapons:  

Nations should strive for a world where nuclear weapons are prohibited and where existing stocks are destroyed, Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a speech at the United Nations. 

“Nuclear weapons should be completely prohibited and destroyed over time to make the world free of nuclear weapons,” the Chinese president said in Geneva.

In a lengthy address at the UN’s European headquarters alongside with the world body’s new chief Antonio Guterres, Xi also made a robust case for a global governance system based on equality among nations.

“We should reject dominance by just one or several countries”, Xi said, adding that “major powers should respect each other’s core interests.”

“Big countries should treat smaller countries as equals instead of acting as a hegemon imposing their will on others,” he further said.

In his disarmament call and plea for sovereign equality Xi offered China as a nation “committed to building a world of lasting peace.”

Source: Rediff