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LIVE! Violence in Nagaland: Protesters torch CM's house

22:28  Violence in Nagaland: Protesters torch CM’s house:  

Violent mobs went on the rampage in the Nagaland capital, Kohima on Thursday to vent their anger against ongoing elections to urban local bodies, vandalising and setting on fire government offices and vehicles, prompting deployment of five columns of army to bring the situation under control.

According to media reports Chief Minister T R Zeliang’s private house was set on fire by protesters.

The regional transport office and that of the excise department were also set ablaze by violent mobs demanding the resignation of Chief Minister T R Zeliang and his entire cabinet for going ahead with the ULB polls despite opposition from powerful tribal groups that are against 33 per cent reservation for women in the municipal bodies, eyewitness said.

All of these incidents, however, could not be immediately confirmed by the police.

Earlier in the day, the Nagaland Tribes Action Committee, representing different tribal organisations, had served an ultimatum to Zeliang and his cabinet to resign by 4 pm, remove Dimapur Commissioner of Police and also declare the election process, already under way, null and void.

The NTAC had also submitted a memorandum to the Raj Bhavan in the absence of Governor P B Acharya, who was in Itanagar, in support of its demands. Acharya holds dual charge of the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh.

Anger was brewing in the state since the killing of two protesting youths in police firing at Dimapur on Tuesday. It grew further after the bodies were brought and kept in the heart of Kohima town last evening.

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21:36  Trump opens National Prayer Breakfast with talk about TV ratings:  

At the National Prayer Breakfast, a solemn occasion with a rich history, President Trump spent more than a minute talking about his former reality show “The Apprentice.”

He used the occasion to jokingly call for prayers for its new host Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“Ratings went right down the tubes. It’s been a total disaster,” he said.

The keynote speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast was Barry Black, the chaplain of the United States Senate.

Moved by Black’s remarks, Trump lauded him.

“I don’t know if you’re Democrat or Republican, but I’m appointing you for another year. The hell with it.”

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21:06  TRAI gives clean chit to Jio tariffs, sees no violation:  In a shot in the arm for Reliance Jio, telecom regulator TRAI on Thursday gave a clean chit to the billionaire Mukesh Ambani-run firm’s free voice calling and data plan on its mobile services, saying the scheme is not a violation of the regulatory guidelines on promotional offers.

In a letter to incumbent operators Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular, TRAI said Jio’s Happy New Year Offer has not been found to be violative of the principles of non-discrimination, inter-connect rule compliance and non-predation. 

TRAI further said that its examination had revealed that the Happy New Year Offer launched by Reliance Jio on December 4, 2016 is distinct from its earlier Welcome Offer and cannot be treated as an extension of earlier promotional offer as the benefits under both sets of promotional offers differ. 

The Happy New Year Offer, TRAI said, gives an opening and closing date within the prescribed limit of 90 days and the eligibility conditions. In the offer, there is a different data limit and provision for getting a higher speed after prescribed payment once the data limit is exhausted. 

India’s largest mobile operator Bharti Airtel and its smaller rival Idea Cellular had moved telecom tribunal TDSAT against the regulator for allowing the Mukesh Ambani-led telecom venture to continue free promotional offer beyond the stipulated 90 days.  

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20:34  Taxmen can dig in past 10 yrs of returns to unearth blackmoney:  

In a significant move to check blackmoney, Income Tax Department can now scrutinise income tax returns of previous 10 years if any search leads them to undisclosed deposits or property of over Rs 50 lakh.

The present ceiling for scrutiny of past returns of income is six years.

In the Budget for 2017-18, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has proposed to increase the scrutiny period to 10 years.

“What we have said now is (that) if during a search we find there is any asset or income worth over Rs 50 lakh which is not disclosed and is older than four years, then we can go back to 10 years,” CBDT Chairman Sushil Chandra said at a post-Budget seminar in New Delhi.

According to the memorandum to the Finance Bill 2017, the amendment to the Income Tax Act will take effect from April 1, 2017. This means that the books of accounts of an assessee can be reopened by taxmen back till 2007.

The amendment seeks to check tax evasion where “tangible evidences” in the form of undisclosed investment in assets are found during a search or seizure operation.

The tax returns can be opened only when undisclosed income and asset of over Rs 50 lakh are unearthed in a search operation and not mere survey by the tax department.

The amendment to the I-T Act empowers tax officials to issue notices to such assessees up to the 10th assessment year, beyond the sixth assessment year already provided for in the I-T Act.

19:46  15 per cent of the country prone to landslide: Government:  About 15 per cent of the country is landslide-prone and as on today there is no warning system that can predict its occurrence, the government today said.

In a written response to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Y S Chowdary, Minister of State in the Ministry of Earth Sciences, said all the landslide-prone streches are mapped. 

“About 15 per cent of India is landslide prone and all such zones are mapped. The landslide prone stretches may tentatively be identified through Landslide Hazard Zonation studies and slope stability studies. 

“However, landslide prone vulnerable zones are mapped so as to alert local governments to put such areas under watch in association with heavy rainfall warnings as and when issues for such zones,” Chowdary said. 

Fifteen soldiers had died recently in two avalanches in Jammu and Kashmir. Monitoring of snow accumulation and avalanche early warning is carried out by the Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment, a laboratory under the Defence Research and Development Organisation for vulnerable upper reaches of Himalayas.

He said, regular operational avalanche warnings are issued to the army and civilian population in snow-bound areas of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.

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19:04  Visa denial to 2 Kashmiri sportsmen standard adjudication: US:  

The US has officially conveyed to India that the recent denial of visas to two Kashmiri sportsmen by it was a “standard adjudication” based on the merits of the case and had no connection with executive order of President Donald Trump. 

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the ministry had enquired about the issue from the US Embassy in New Delhi after reports emerged that the two Kashmiri youths have been denied visa by it. 

“The US Embassy in Delhi has categorically denied that it has any linkage to the Executive Order. We have also been told officially that it was a standard adjudication based on the merits of the case,” he said, adding issue of visa is a sovereign jurisdiction and right of every country.

He said the athletes have not approached the MEA. 

The snowshoers — Abid Khan and Tanveer Hussain — from the Valley were denied visa amid reports that it was due to “current policies” of the US.

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18:16  The White House just tweeted a picture of Trump showing the finger :  You can always count on Donald Trump to make unsavory news.

The US president and the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had their first phone call and it didn’t go too well. The White House tweeted a photo of Trump during the call, and people have pointed out that it appears the President is giving the middle finger.

The White House @[email protected] @realDonaldTrump- speaking with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull from the Oval Office.

The US President went public to describe an Obama-era agreement with Australia to accept over 1,200 refugees a “dumb deal.”

The Washington Post reported that Trump called the conversation with Turnbull “the worst by far” of his calls with world leaders that day, and cut it short after 25 minutes.

During Trump’s call with Turnbull last Saturday, the US President objected to an agreement over America receiving refugees, the CNN reported.

The disagreement came as the two leaders discussed an agreement, reached under the Obama administration, for the US to accept over 1,200 refugees from Australia who are living on islands in detention centers off the mainland due to strict government policies.

Many of them are from the seven countries affected by Trump’s recent travel ban. Trump on Friday also suspended the entry of all refugees for 120 days, along with indefinitely suspending the entry of Syrian refugees.

US media reports say Trump insisted it was a very bad deal for the US to take 2,000 refugees and that one of them was going to be the “next Boston bomber”.

Turnbull told Trump several times the agreement was for 1,250 refugees, not 2,000.

Trump expressed concern as to how this agreement from President Barack Obama’s administration would go forward given his executive order the day before temporarily suspending the US refugee programme.

Trump abruptly ended the call because he was unhappy, a the network quoted a source as saying.

Later, Trump tweeted, “Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!”

In Canberra, Turnbull attempted to keep some semblance of diplomacy, declining to elaborate on details of the call.

“Look, I’m not going to comment on a conversation between myself and the President of the United States other than what we have said publicly, and you can surely understand the reasons for that,” he said. “I’m sure you can understand that. It’s better these conversations are conducted candidly, frankly, privately. If you’ll see reports of them, I’m not going to add to them.”

When asked about the tweet labeling the agreement brokered with Obama’s administration a “dumb deal,” Turnball said, while the deal may not have been one Trump would’ve done or considered a “good deal,” the President and his administration have committed to honour it.

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18:04  What you are missing at the LFW:  Two stories from the ongoing Lakme Fashion Week on Rediff.com that caught our eye.   

Designer Savio Jon is different. For one, he avoids fashion weeks, and lets his work speak for himself rather than make a noise about it. Anita Aikara/Rediff.com pins him down for a chat, at the LFW. You can read more from Savio Jon here.  
What happens backstage at the fashion week? The camera-toting Hitesh Harisinghani, who’s covering the LFW, finds out, here.
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17:42  1st ceasefire violation in 2017: Unprovoked firing by Pak at BSF camp:  J&K: Unprovoked ceasefire violation by Pakistan took place in Samba sector at about 15:30 hours, says the BSF. A BSF post in Samba was hit by three to four bursts of automatic weapon’s fire from Pakistan’s side, followed by propelled grenades that fell nearby. No casualties. Details awaited.

There have been 110 ceasefire violations by Pakistan since the surgical strikes in September 2016. This is the first ceasefire violation this year.

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17:14  Frank Lampard announces retirement :  BREAKING: Ex-Chelsea and England midfielder Frank Lampard says he’s retiring from football at 38 and will now study to become a coach.
17:11  Pak violates ceasefire in Samba:  Ceasefire violation: Pakistan troops fire gunshots, hurl grenades at BSF post in Samba sector of Jammu.Details awaited
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16:53  Trump threatens Berkeley university with withdrawal of funds :  The US President reacts to the violence at the University of Berkeley campus in protest over a scheduled speech by controversial Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos. The event had to be called off, and the university said fires were set, including one caused by a firebomb that ignited a generator-powered spotlight

Trump tweeted a warning/threat to the university students: Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?

The comment ends with a question mark, but it’s anybodies guess when it changes to a full stop.

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16:32  Aircel-Maxis: Dayanidhi Maran, all accused discharged :   Special court discharges all accused in Aircel Maxis deal cases lodged by CBI and ED involving ex-Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran and others.

The Patiala High Court today passed the order on framing of charges against former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother Kalanithi Maranand in the Aircel Maxis deal matter.

The CBI Court on December 19 last year deferred pronouncing its orders against the Maran brothers and others to December 22.

A special 2G court had earlier on September 17 last year dismissed the applications filed by the ex-telecom minister and his brother, challenging its jurisdiction to try the Aircel-Maxis deal case in which they have been summoned as accused.

Pronouncing the order, the court had then said, “There is no manner of doubt that by the standard of subject matter and periodicity of alleged crime, the case fairly/squarely falls within the description/ designation of the 2G scam.”

During the hearing, the Marans submitted before the court that the Aircel-Maxis dispute was a private matter and not part of the alleged 2G spectrum scam, adding, therefore, the court designated to deal exclusively with the 2G spectrum scam should not hear the matter.

The Maran brothers challenged the jurisdiction of the special 2G court in both cases lodged by the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI.

The Enforcement Directorate has alleged that two firms, South Asia FM Limited (SAFL) and Sun Direct TV Private Ltd. (SDTPL), had received Rs. 742.58 crore as “proceeds of crime” from Mauritius-based firms and that the two firms were then allegedly controlled by Kalanithi Maran.

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16:22  Varun makes it to BJP’s list of star campaigners… just about :  After initially dropping Varun Gandhi from the list of star campaigners in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP on Thursday included his name for the third and fourth phases of polling in the state, a party official said. The parliamentarian from Sultanpur was named as the 39th star campaigner in a list of 40.

Initially presented as a firebrand youth leader, Varun Gandhi, son of the late Sanjay Gandhi and Union Minister Maneka Gandhi, was sidelined by Amit Shah after he took over the reins of the party. The star campaigners list for Bharatiya Janata Party includes Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party President Amit Shah, Kanpur MP and veteran party leader Murli Manohar Joshi.

Also included are Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Uma Bharati, Arun Jaitley, M. Venkiah Naidu, Smriti Irani, Piyush Goel, VK Singh, Mukhtaar Abbas Naqvi and Nitin Gadkari. Senior party functionaries Om Mathur, Vinay Katiyar, Swamy Prasad Maurya, and others would campaign for party candidates in the third and fourth phase also, the party leader said.

Veteran actress and politician Hema Malini, Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari, comedian Raju Srivastav, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan will also pitch in.

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15:30  After US, Kuwait bans visa for 5 countries, including Pakistan:  

Kuwait has suspended the issuance of visas for nationals of Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. 

After US President Donald Trump’s executive order banning seven Muslim-majority countries last Friday, the Kuwaiti government has told would-be migrants from the five banned nations to not apply for visas, as it is worried about the possible migration of radical Islamic terrorists. 

Kuwait was the only nation to prohibit the entry of Syrian nationals prior to Trump’s executive action. Kuwait City previously issued a suspension of visas for all Syrians in 2011. 

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15:05  Melania Trump may not move into White House at all?:  

US First Lady Melania Trump and her 10-year-old son Barron may never permanently move to the White House, according to a media report.

Donald Trump, 70, and his wife Melania announced in November that the First Lady would relocate from New York City to Washington, DC once their son Barron finishes up the school year.

But a family insider has told the Us Weekly that may not happen.

“They will reevaluate toward the end of the school year if they will keep this arrangement or if Melania and Barron will move to Washington,” the source was quoted as saying.

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14:52  Rahul takes on SAD, AAP with sanjha chulha moment in Punjab :  Launching an all-out attack against Arvind Kejriwal in the backdrop of the Maur Mandi blast, Rahul Gandhi today accused him of “helping” forces who want to disturb Punjab’s peace and push it back to the dark days of militancy.

On the last day of the poll campaign in Punjab, Rahul addressed a gathering in Ballian village and referred to the Tuesday night’s car explosion in Maur Mandi, which left six dead. The blast had occurred shortly after the “jansabha” of Congress candidate Harminder Singh Jassi, who is contesting the February 4 elections from Maur Assembly seat.

“The most important thing is the atmosphere you live in. If that atmosphere gets spoiled, violence starts or anger prevails, then the work of farmers, labourers, weaker sections suffers, entire state suffers,” Rahul said.

Taking a veiled dig at the ruling Akalis and the AAP, Rahul said, “from one extremist thinking, Punjab should not go to other extremist thinking. Congress is one such party which takes all sections along. We want that Punjab should rapidly progress.”

“Bomb blast took place and six people died (Maur). Arvind Kejriwal, who is Delhi’s Chief Minister, is helping these forces and helping them raise their head. And this is most dangerous thing for Punjab. “If these forces raise their head again, then entire agenda will be hijacked and Punjab will look in some other direction,” he warned.

Addressing the gathering while sitting a cot with villagers and farmers of Ballian, Rahul also talked about farmers issues, saying during UPA’s time loans of farmers amounting to Rs 70,000 crore were waived off and promised that if Congress forms the next government in the State, the burden of state’s farmers will be lessened.

Image: Rahul Gandhi tweeted this picture saying, “A great start to the day with Sanjha Chulha at village Ballian. Sharing stories, food & a sense of community — the true spirit of Punjab.”  Sanjha Chulha refers to Punjab’s rural tradition of communal cooking and shared bonhomie. 

14:26  Former Union minister E Ahamed laid to rest:  Former Union minister and IUML President, E Ahamed, who passed away at Delhi early yesterday, was laid to rest at the City Jumma Masjid in Kannur, Kerala, today with full state honours. The body, covered with the national flag, was brought to the Masjid for the burial around noon and hundreds had converged to pay their last respects to the leader.
14:16  The nun who says Mother Mary was not a virgin:  A Catholic nun in Spain has caused outrage after she suggested that the Virgin Mary may not have been a virgin after all. The controversial Dominican nun invited the ire of the Catholic Church who responded to her statements in anger.Sister Lucia Caram was speaking on a talk show over the weekend when she let slip her belief that contradicts one of the key pillars of her faith.
Read more
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14:14  BSF rejects VRS plea of jawan who posted video, wife says he’s been arrested:  The BSF has rejected Constable Tej Bahadur Yadav’s voluntary retirement on the plea that a court of inquiry is pending against him for alleged indiscipline over uploading videos on social media showing “substandard food” being served to jawans. Yadav’s wife, meanwhile, claimed he had been arrested.

Speaking to ANI, Sharmila Yadav said she had waited for her husband’s arrival on January 31 but he did not turn up. “He later called saying he had been asked to retire. However, even that was cancelled within an hour and later he was arrested,” she said. She added he had called Thursday using someone else’s phone and informed her he was being threatened and tortured mentally.

However, the BSF said “Yadav was not under arrest and his voluntary retirement has been cancelled pending the COI (Court of Inquiry) and finalisation of its recommendations.” They added the news of the cancellation of VRS was communicated to Yadav on the evening of January 30.

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13:54  Another unmanned railway crossing and the result:  Collision between a goods train and a pick-up van on the Chandauli-Mughalsarai-Varanasi route. The van driver has been injured. Finance minister Arun Jaitley announced yesterday that the railways will eliminate all unmanned level crossings on broad gauge lines by 2020 and expert international assistance will be harnessed to improve safety preparedness and maintenance practices.

Till that happens, this will.  

13:41  Political parties must file ITR by Dec or lose exemption: Govt:  After capping anonymous cash donations to political parties at Rs 2,000, the government is amending law to make it mandatory for them to file returns on income by December every year or risk losing tax exemption status. It is also changing the law to keep the identity of the donor confidential who buys the just-introduced electoral bonds from banks to make such donations.
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13:38  Bastar’s abusive top cop sent on sick leave :   Just in: Bastar top cop DIG SRP Kalluri who threatened activists sent on medical leave. Kalluri had skipped a NHRC hearing saying he was on sick leave. Sundarraj P, Dantewada deputy inspector general of police has been put in charge of Bastar Range in south Chhattisgarh.

This comes in the aftermath of several complaints by activists, lawyers and human rights defenders who said they have received a string of abusive and threatening messages purportedly from phone numbers belonging to Kalluri.

Their ‘crime’: sending messages of concern to Kalluri regarding the hounding of the activist Bela Bhatia. Bhatia, an independent researcher, was threatened by a mob at her home near Bastar, virtually forcing her to leave, supposedly because she was part of an effort to uncover alleged human rights abuses by security forces.

Kalluri has been unwell for a while with kidney and heart problems.

Image: DIG Kalluri (centre) in a file picture.

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13:21  UP Polls: Filing of nominations for fifth phase begins:   Filing of nominations for the fifth phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh started this morning with the issuance of notification for 52 seats spread across 11 districts including Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi’s parliamentary constituency Amethi. The filing of nominations started at 11 AM with issuance of notifications, according to the office of UP Chief Electoral Officer. While the last date of filing nominations is February 9, withdrawals could be made till February 13 while polling will be held on February 27.

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12:39  The Kashmiri schoolgirl who defied Burhan Wani:  This is the story of a feisty schoolgirl in Kashmir, who defied all odds and  topped the state’s Class 12 Boards, scoring 498 marks out of 500.

Her name is Shaheera.

Her achievement comes in the wake of a four-month shutdown of education institutions in the Valley last year in the aftermath of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani’s killing.  In fact, Shaheera is from the same school as Burhan Wani.

Speaking to ANI Shaheer said she was delighted. “I’m delighted at this feat and am thankful to all teachers. I wish to take the NEET examination in future,” she said.

Shaheera’s proud father said he always advised her to study hard. “I told her to be regular and punctual. I hope she she excels in future too.

Last year, at least 27 schools — middle, high and higher secondary schools — have been burnt mysteriously during the unrest. Due to over four month long unrest and shutdown in the Valley, all educational institutions including schools and colleges remained shut.

Despite opposition and protests by students, the government decided to conduct 10th and 12th class examinations of students with 50% syllabus cut and also provided choice to students to appear in exams with full syllabus in March 2017. However, most students decided to appear in exams now with 50% syllabus cut.

In some cases, students appearing for the exams had to face stone pelting with at least four students injured during clashes between stone pelting youth and security forces outside an examination centre in Pahnoo area of south Kashmirs Shopian district.

12:17  Man tries to end life on tracks but escapes miraculously:  A 65-year-old man allegedly attempted to end his life by lying in front of a local train at suburban Vikhroli station in Mumbai, but escaped unhurt as the train passed over him, an RPF official said today. Dinkar Sakpal, the man, jumped on the tracks and lay down as a train arrived on platform 1 at around 11 yesterday morning, an official of the Railway Police Force said. However five bogeys of the train, which was at a low speed, passed over him without he coming under the wheels, before it was stopped and he was pulled out. The incident was captured on CCTV at the station.
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12:16  Trump to focus counter-extremism program solely on Islam :  The Trump administration wants to revamp and rename a U.S. government program designed to counter all violent ideologies so that it focuses solely on Islamist extremism, five people briefed on the matter told Reuters.

The program, “Countering Violent Extremism,” or CVE, would be changed to “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,” the sources said, and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.

Such a change would reflect Trump’s election campaign rhetoric and criticism of former President Barack Obama for being weak in the fight against Islamic State and for refusing to use the phrase “radical Islam” in describing it. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for attacks on civilians in several countries.

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12:01  No party, candidate shall publish any ad in print media on Feb 3 and 4: EC :  The Election Commission of India on Thursday has directed that no political party, candidate, organisation or any person will publish any advertisement in the print media on February 3 and 4 unless the contents of the advertisement proposed to be published have been pre-certified by the political parties and candidates from the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC) committee.

This came after many instances of advertisements of offending and misleading nature have brought to the Election Commission’s notice in the past.

A similar direction has been issued to all the newspapers in Goa and Punjab asking them not to publish any advertisement in the print media on the same dates which has not been pre-certified by the said MCMC.

The Commission further said that in order to facilitate the process of pre-certification of the newspaper advertisements and as instructed above, MCMC at state/district level be immediately alerted and activated in order to examine and pre-certified all such advertisements received from the political parties, candidates and others.

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11:56  E Ahamed’s funeral in Kannur today :  The funeral of former union minister and senior Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) leader E. Ahamed, who passed away in the early hours of Wednesday in Delhi following cardiac arrest, will be held his native city, Kannur in Kerala today.

The body was brought to Karippur in Malapuram last evening, where thousands of people paid homage to their departed leader.

The body was kept at the Hajj House in Kondotty for the public to pay homage and was taken to Kozhikode. The leaders of various political parties including Chief Minister Pinarai Vijayan paid homage to the former union minister at the League House.

Image: PM Modi pays homage at E Ahamed’s home yesterday.

11:50  IED detected on Srinagar-Jammu NH:  Security forces today detected and defused an improvised explosive device (IED) on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway in Pampore area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. A patrol party of police detected the IED planted by militants between Kadlabal and Chursoo section of the National Highway this morning, a police official said. He said the bomb disposal squad was rushed to the spot which destroyed the explosive.
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11:42  Did Trump hang up on the Australian PM?:  Senior Australian Government sources have confirmed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and US President Donald Trump had a “robust” and shorter than expected phone call, which Trump reportedly labelled “the worst by far” of a clutch of calls to world leaders.

According to The Washington Post, Trump claimed the refugee resettlement deal struck with former US president Barack Obama was “the worst deal ever”, before abruptly ending the 25-minute phone call.  Read more

Image: US President Donald Trump on the phone with Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull. Pic: Reuters.

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11:25  Three Pakistani fishing boats seized in Kutch:   Three Pakistan boats seized from Sir Creek area of the Kutch region in Gujarat. Fishing equipment have also been seized from these boats. However, no arrest has been made in this connection and investigations are underway to determine any terror angle into the incident.

Amid heightened security across the nation over continued tensions between India and Pakistan, the Border Security Force had on Tuesday seized two Pakistani boats at Tota border out post in Punjab.  No arrests were made.

In October last year, the BSF seized a Pakistani boat from the same area. The boat was empty and had reportedly got washed away along with its anchor due to rising water level in the sea.

The alert over Pak-sponsored terrorism via the sea route comes after the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

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11:04  Armed Turkish police officer receiving psychiatric treatment attempts suicide at Istanbul hospital:  A Turkish hospital official said an armed police officer receiving psychiatric treatment at an Istanbul hospital barricaded himself into a room and attempted to kill himself, reports the Independent.

Earlier reports had said a gunman was holding doctors and other members of staff hostage at Cerrahpasa hospital, but the spokesman, shown in Dogan news agency video, said all staff had been evacuated from the psychiatry unit.

Police were dispatched to the scene and negotiators are attempting to persuade the man not to kill himself.

The hospital official who initially spoke to journalists outside the building, reporting a hostage situation and causing panic, has not been identified.

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11:00  The hero who blocked the Chinese invasion into Assam:  Rifleman Jaswant Singh Rawat, 21, received the Mahavir Chakra in the 1962 War with China. Such was his valour that a temple and museum stands on the land he died defending in the icy valley of Arunachal Pradesh. Rediff.com’s Archana Masih meets his family in Dehradun and discovers that in the home that he left 54 years ago his place is higher than the gods. Do read

IMAGE: Jaswant Singh Rawat is a legend in the Indian Army. His room in Jaswantgarh is a shrine in his memory.

10:57  Sky News sources say Donald Trump was ‘yelling’ during his phone conversation with Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull and hung up after 25 minutes.

10:47  Trump administration puts Iran ‘on notice’:  President Donald Trump’s national security adviser has said the administration is putting Iran “on notice” after it tested a ballistic missile, allegedly in violation of a UN resolution. “As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice,” Michael Flynn said, signalling a tougher stance against the Islamic country than the previous Obama dispensation.
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10:46  You have a bunch of bad hombres down there: Trump calls Mexican prez:  President Donald Trump threatened in a phone call with his Mexican counterpart to send US troops to stop “bad hombres down there” unless the Mexican military does more to control them, according to an excerpt of a transcript of the conversation obtained by The Associated Press.

The excerpt of the call did not detail who exactly Trump considered “bad hombres,” nor did it make clear the tone and context of the remark, made in a Friday morning phone call between the leaders. It also did not contain Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s response.

Still, the excerpt offers a rare and striking look at how the new president is conducting diplomacy behind closed doors. Trump’s remarks suggest he is using the same tough and blunt talk with world leaders that he used to rally crowds on the campaign trail.

A White House spokesman did not respond to requests for comment. The Mexican Foreign Relations Department told The AP: “The negative statements you refer to did not occur during said telephone call. On the contrary, the tone was constructive.”

The phone call between the leaders was intended to patch things up between the new president and his ally. The two have had a series of public spats over Trump’s determination to have Mexico pay for the planned border wall, something Mexico steadfastly refuses to agree to.

“You have a bunch of bad hombres down there,” Trump told Pena Nieto, according to the excerpt given to AP. “You aren’t doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn’t, so I just might send them down to take care of it.”

A person with access to the official transcript of the phone call provided only that portion of the conversation to The Associated Press. The person gave it on condition of anonymity because the administration did not make the details of the call public.

The Mexican website Aristegui Noticias on Tuesday published a similar account of the phone call, based on the reporting of journalist Dolia Estevez. The report described Trump as humiliating Pena Nieto in a confrontational conversation.

Mexico’s foreign relations department denied that account, saying it “is based on absolute falsehoods.”

10:40  Left is absolutely terrified of free speech: Yiannopoulos:  Milo Yiannopoulos responded on Facebook after Wednesday’s event was canceled, saying he had been “evacuated from the UC Berkeley campus after violent left-wing protestors tore down barricades, lit fires, threw rocks and Roman candles at the windows.”

Read his post:

“I have been evacuated from the UC Berkeley campus after violent left-wing protestors tore down barricades, lit fires, threw rocks and Roman candles at the windows and breached the ground floor of the building. My team and I are safe. But the event has been cancelled. I’ll let you know more when the facts become clear. One thing we do know for sure: the Left is absolutely terrified of free speech and will do literally anything to shut it down.”

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10:35  Berkeley university in lockdown over right-wing speaker’s speech:   The University of California at Berkeley went into lockdown on Wednesday amid a violent protest over a planned appearance by a right-wing speaker, with demonstrators throwing barricades, setting fires and lighting firecrackers, reports Reuters.

School officials said on Twitter after the protest erupted that the speech by far-right Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos had been canceled and that the campus was on lockdown.

President Donald Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, previously headed Breitbart News and CNN reported that many of the protesters voiced opposition to the Republican president.

Many of Trump’s executive orders and proposed policies, including his suspension of the U.S. refugee program and temporary ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, have been met by largely peaceful protests and marches that have drawn tens of thousands of people across the United States.

Police ordered protesters at the liberal-leaning university to disperse and a short time later at least one fire erupted when protesters ignited a light generator outside the student union, according to CNN, which broadcast footage of the demonstration.

Protesters tossed metal barricades through windows at the same building and threw firecrackers and rocks, according to CNN. The crowd appeared to number in the hundreds.

One protester held a sign that said “No Safe Space for Racists” while other protesters danced to hip hop music, footage from a Facebook Live feed showed.

Yiannopoulos, whose account on Twitter was suspended last year after he was accused of participating in the online harassment of an African-American actress, in a statement on Facebook said he was “evacuated” from the campus and criticized “the Left” saying it was “absolutely terrified of free speech and will do literally anything to shut it down.”

He also said on Fox News that he was evacuated by police after protesters began throwing rocks and other objects at the building.

“Obviously it’s a liberal campus so they hate any libertarians or conservatives who dare to express an opinion on their campuses. They particularly don’t like me,” he told the network.

Image: Protesters tossed metal barricades through windows and threw firecrackers and rocks. Picture courtesy: UC Berkeley.

10:09  The ever eloquent US President.

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!

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09:54  Hardline separatist Geelani admitted to hospital:  Senior Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani was last night admitted to Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, after he complained of severe chest pain.

Since Geelani is not being allowed to move out of his home due to house arrest, the police was informed that the former needs to be shifted to a hospital.

Geelani, in police custody, was shifted to SKIMS where several tests including ECGs were repeatedly conducted. He was later admitted to medical ICU and is now being constantly observed by specialist doctors.

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09:31  Jilted lover sets girl and self ablaze in Kerala medical college:  

At a medical college in Kerala’s Kottayam, 20-year-old Laxmi was sitting in a classroom with a few other students when a young man barged in and poured petrol on her and himself.

As the man, Adarsh, took out a lighter, Laxmi ran out of the classroom screaming.

But Adarsh caught up with her and used a lighter to set her on fire. Then he set himself ablaze.

Laxmi, 20, and Adarsh, 26, died of severe burns in hospital last night. Two classmates who tried to save her were also burnt and are being treated.

They had been in a relationship, say the police.

Adarsh, an ex-student of the college, was allegedly furious at Laxmi for breaking up with him.

09:12  JUST IN: Hurriyat leader SAS Geelani admitted to Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences last night, after he complained of severe chest pain. He was later admitted to medical ICU and is now being constantly observed by specialist doctors.

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09:01  Apple’s Tim Cook contemplating legal action over Trump’s travel ban:  

Apple Inc is considering taking legal action in response to US President Donald Trump’s controversial refugee and immigration ban, CEO Tim Cook said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. 

Cook did not elaborate on the potential action, telling the Journal only that, “We want to be constructive and productive.”

Apple has also pledged to double any donations made by its employees to refugee relief funds.

“More than any country in the world, this country is strong because of our immigrant background and our capacity and ability as people to welcome people from all kinds of backgrounds,” said Cook. “That’s what makes us special.”

Cook’s comments expand on an e-mail he sent to employees over the weekend, hours after Trump signed an executive order temporarily banning immigration from seven countries from entering the US. The 90-day ban hits people from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Libya.

08:22  Trump to focus counter-extremism program solely on Islam :  The Trump administration wants to revamp and rename a US government program designed to counter all violent ideologies so that it focuses solely on Islamist extremism, five people briefed on the matter told Reuters.

The program, “Countering Violent Extremism,” or CVE, would be changed to “Countering Islamic Extremism” or “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism,” the sources said, and would no longer target groups such as white supremacists who have also carried out bombings and shootings in the United States.

Such a change would reflect Trump’s election campaign rhetoric and criticism of former President Barack Obama for being weak in the fight against Islamic State and for refusing to use the phrase “radical Islam” in describing it. Islamic State has claimed responsibility for attacks on civilians in several countries.

Read full story HERE
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07:58  Former chairman of Exxon Mobil sworn-in as US secretary of state:  

Rex Tillerson, the former chairman and chief executive of Exxon Mobil, has been sworn in as US President Donald Trump’s secretary of state after having been confirmed by the Senate earlier in the day.

“Though you inherit enormous challenges in the Middle East and around the world, I do believe we can achieve peace and stability in these very, very troubled times,” Trump said at the swearing-in ceremony in the White House’s Oval Office.

Tillerson, 64, who was confirmed by the Senate in a 56-43 vote, was administered the oath of office by Vice President Mike Pence.

However, his nomination was opposed by Democratic lawmakers in the Senate, who raked up his ties with Russia and President Vladimir Putin.

In remarks on the Senate floor, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren said Tillerson’s “extensive and longstanding ties with Russia” meant that the US couldn’t trust him to be a strong advocate for their interests.

“Secretary Tillerson’s close personal and business ties with President Putin give me no confidence that he would be an effective force in America’s dealings with Russia,” said Democratic Senator Dick Durbin.

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00:17  Indian Americans launch community-wide effort against Trump’s travel ban:  Two Indian-American lawmakers along with two former top Obama Administration diplomats have launched a community-wide effort to oppose the ‘unlawful, unconstitutional, and un-American’ executive orders that impacts the immigrant community in the US imposed by President Donald Trump on seven Muslim countries.

The lawmakers — Pramila Jayapal and Raja Krishnamoorthi — joined by former Obama Administration official and top Indian-American leaders urged the community to stand united and fight jointly against these executive orders.

Jayapal has emerged as one of the national figures in fight against executive orders that impacts the immigrant community in the US.

“Last week’s executive orders on immigration have thrown the country to chaos,” she said, adding that Trump’s attack on immigrant and refugee community ignored everything that is great about this country.

“This is not normal and it is not constitutional. It also makes us far less safe as a country,” she said, noting that the executive orders gives fodder to those who do want to harm America.

“It undermines our place in the world as global compassionate democratic leader,” she said as she lashed out at Republican Hindu Coalition for supporting the executive orders.

“Today a group calling itself as Republican Hindu Coalition will announce its support for un-American executive orders. And to them I would say, shame. Shame for trying to divide the Indian-American community. As a Hindu, I can tell you that this group does not represent the much, much larger Indian American community that honour our birth countries commitment to religious freedom and democracy,” Jayapal said.

Indian-Americans, she said, will not be bullied by this President or any group that seems to divide the community.

“The Republican Hindu Coalition does not represent us. As Indian Americans, I can tell you, we believe deeply in pluralism, in freedom of religion, in freedom of speech and in a democratic diverse society,” Jayapal said.

Nisha Desai Biswal, the former Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, said, “I am here today not only as former State Department official, but also as an Indian American, as Hindu, an immigrant and most importantly as a proud American to speak out against this executive order that was issued by President Trump which imposes an unjust, un American and we believe unconstitutional ban on immigrants and refugees from certain nationalities and certain faiths.” — PTI

Source: Rediff