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LIVE Fireworks alert! Arun Jaitley to table note ban bill in Lok Sabha today

10:50  Fireworks alert! Arun Jaitley to table note ban bill in Lok Sabha today:  Get set for an action-packed day in Parliament today with the Narendra Modi government set to introduce the Specified Bank Notes (Cessation of Liabilities) Bill, 2017 in Lok Sabha.

The bill, to be introduced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, would replace the note ban Ordinance promulgated by the government in December last year. Any Ordinance passed by a government must be replaced by a bill within 42 days of the commencement of a session or it will lapse.

The Ordinance, approved by President Pranab Mukherjee on December 30, made it illegal to hold, transfer or receive the junked Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes.

The Ordinance also extinguished the liability of the government and the Reserve Bank of India on the demonetised notes.

The issue of demonetisation, notably, had virtually washed out the Parliament’s winter session and debates on the note ban decision are yet to be concluded in the two houses.

The BJP has asked all its MPs to be present in the Lok Sabha today.


10:40  How will Trump’s cabinet view South Asia?:  If there’s been one constant theme in the messaging of Donald Trump, from his campaign-trail proclamations to his promises as president-elect, it’s this: Lighten the U.S. footprint abroad and focus more on the home front.

“Make America Great Again” means nation-building at home, not abroad. Offering predictions about the biggest wildcard presidency in U.S. history is risky business. Still, this much is clear: The Trump administration won’t be itching to engage with the world — including South Asia. All the President’s men… engage.

10:27  NRIs can now access exchanges for hedging:  The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Thursday allowed non-resident Indians (NRIs) access to the exchange traded currency derivatives (ETCD) market, which would allow them to directly hedge their exposures through the exchanges, in addition of going to banks to do it on their behalf.

Currently, NRIs are permitted to hedge their rupee currency risk through over-the-counter transactions with banks.

However, NRIs have to designate a local bank for monitoring and reporting the positions of the user in the exchange as well as in the OTC segment.

“NRIs may take positions in the currency futures / exchange traded options market to hedge the currency risk on the market value of their permissible ‘ rupee investments in debt and equity and dividend due and balances held in NRE accounts,” the notification said.

“The onus of ensuring the existence of the underlying exposure shall rest with the NRI concerned,’ RBI said, adding if the magnitude of exposure exceeds  the magnitude of underlying exposure, the concerned NRI shall be liable to such penal action.

Anup Roy/Business Standard.


10:25   Punjab polls: AAP providing platform to radicals, says KPS Gill:  Calling the Maur Mandi bomb blast ahead of the Punjab assembly polls “very very serious’, former state DGP K P S Gill said that the Aam Aadmi Party, the new entrant in state politics, was providing a platform to “radical Sikh diaspora’ settled abroad to “create a big base from which to operate’. Gill, who had a key but controversial role in ending terrorism in Punjab, said AAP may not be aware of what it is doing. Read more here.


10:16  Microsoft asks Trump govt to ease travel restrictions for employees:  Microsoft requests the Donald Trump administration to ease travel restrictions for its employees affected by the immigration ban.

Microsoft has formally asked the US Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security to grant it and other companies an exemption to the Trump administrations executive order that restricts entry or re-entry of citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries. The order, which was signed last Friday, affects immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria.

On Wednesday, a federal judge in Los Angeles “enjoined and restrained” the president’s executive order for the time being following similar temporary restraining orders that other judges have also issued in recent days in related lawsuits filed elsewhere.

Alphabet, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Uber and Stripe, among others, have been working together on a letter opposing US President Trumps travel ban

10:00  Slab of Sulabh Sauchalaya collapses leaving 3 dead and few injured in Mumbai’s Mankhurd area.


09:53  US dept store chain drops Ivanka Trump brand from its shelves:  Ivanka Trump stilettos will soon be harder to find at Nordstrom, reports the New York Times.

The department store chain said on Thursday that it had decided to put the brakes on its relationship with Ivanka Trump and removed her brand from a list on its site.

“We’ve said all along we make buying decisions based on performance,” Nordstrom said in a statement. “In this case, based on the brand’s performance, we’ve decided not to buy it for this season,” referring to the spring.

A spokesman for the brand disputed Nordstrom’s assertion that it had not bought clothes for the coming season.

The move comes amid an effort by what is called the #GrabYourWallet campaign to encourage shoppers to boycott products with ties to President Trump, his family and his donors.

In November, Nordstrom defended its decision to sell Trump’s products.

“We hope that offering a vendor’s products isn’t misunderstood as us taking a political position,’ the company wrote on Twitter on Nov. 2. “We’re not.” Bloomberg reported earlier on Thursday that Nordstrom was winding down its relationship with Ms. Trump.

IMAGE: Ivanka Trump in a blue off-shoulder gown with a long train at the Met Gala in 2015.

09:48  Nirmal Shekhar: A rebel as a sports editor:  Much has been said of Nirmal Shekhar, The Hindu‘s former sports editor who passed into the ages this week, but nothing is as eloquent, and heart-felt, as the one by Vijay Parthasarathy in The News Minute.   

‘If he believed in you, he protected you and backed you to the hilt. In my mid-twenties, I started to shed some of the flair in search of a deeper voice; for a period, my writing got flat. But Nirmal let me take my time, and compared my slump to a batsman struggling to rediscover form. The criticism he offered was always practical,’ writes Vijay, the first Asian College of Journalism grad that Shekhar hired after becoming sports editor at The Hindu.   

‘Nirmal was both a rebel and an extraordinarily generous man who taught me that those two traits were not incompatible qualities. Some bosses give off an old-school vibe, impose a top-down structure. Nirmal, dynamic to a fault, made no such fuss,’ writes Vijay, in what must be one of the most sincere words written about a former boss.   

You can read the full tribute, here.

09:14  Amit Shah’s ‘padyatra’ in Meerut today:  

BJP National President Amit Shah will today embark on a ‘padyatra’ in Meerut in the crucial region of western Uttar Pradesh where the party had fared well in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls due to polarisation of voters.

“Party president Shah will take out a padyatra in Meerut today. It will start from Purani Chungi and after passing through Delhi road and Sharda road end at Ghantaghar. After this Shah will address a gathering,” BJP state General Secretary Vijay Bahadur Pathak said in Lucknow on Thursday.

Polling in Meerut will be held in the first phase on February 11. UP will have seven-phase polling ending March 8.


09:13  Akhilesh, Rahul to hold joint road show in Agra:  

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav will address a joint public meeting on Friday in Agra days after the duo addressed their first joint press conference and held a road show in Lucknow walking shoulder to shoulder.

The two leaders are expected to send out a strong message to party cadres, urging them to work together to ensure the defeat of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls.

Earlier on January 29, the duo in their maiden outing in Lucknow shared tight hugs and warm handshake besides donning same coloured jackets.

Gandhi dominated the interaction comparing the alliance between the Samajwadi Party and Congress with the confluence of the rivers of Ganga and Yamuna that join at ‘sangam’ to form the river Saraswati.

Declaring that their combined objective was to “defeat the fascist forces,” respond to “politics of hate” and counter divisive ideology, the two leaders said that the Congress-Samajwadi Party alliance would usher in a “storm of development”.

09:12  BJP asks all its MPs to be present in the Lok Sabha today: News18 reports

08:53   Update: 2  more bodies recovered from the debris, taking death toll in Kanpur building collapse to 8.


08:28  New Israeli settlements may not be helpful: White House:  

The White House has said it has not yet taken a position on Israeli settlements, but suggested that their construction or expansion “may not be helpful” in achieving peace in the region. 

“While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in a late night statement.

“The Trump administration has not taken an official position on settlement activity and looks forward to continuing discussions, including with Prime Minister

Netanyahu when he visits with President Trump later this month,” he said.

Spicer said American desire for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians has remained unchanged for 50 years.


08:26  Uber chief quits Trump advisory group after uproar:  

Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick has quit US President Donald Trump’s business advisory group, as a movement grew to dump the ride-sharing service because of his connection to the new administration. 

Kalanick yesterday said in an email to Uber employees that he spoke briefly with Trump about the president’s recent executive order restricting immigration, saying he told him he would not be able to participate on his economic council. 

“Joining the group was not meant to be an endorsement of the president or his agenda, but unfortunately it has been misinterpreted to be exactly that,” Kalanick said in the email. 

Trump’s advisory group was established last year and includes Tesla and SpaceX chief Elon Musk, as well as IBM chief executive Ginni Rometty. Its first meeting was reportedly scheduled for today. 

“There are many ways we will continue to advocate for just change on immigration but staying on the council was going to get in the way of that,” Kalanick said in the message to Uber workers. 

“Immigration and openness to refugees is an important part of our country’s success and quite honestly to Uber’s.” 

Uber riders and drivers have raged against Kalanick and his service for what they see as him teaming with Trump, whose orders and appointments have triggered protests here and abroad.


08:17  US House votes to overturn Obama gun rule:  

The Republican-led House on Thursday struck down an Obama-era regulation that could block some recipients of disability benefits from buying guns.

The House voted 235-180 to roll back a rule that required the Social Security Administration to report people who receive disability benefits and have a mental health condition to the FBIs background check system. The database is used to determine eligibility for buying a firearm.  

Critics said the rule stripped Second Amendment rights from people who are not dangerously mentally ill, such as those who have eating disorders or mental disorders that prevent them from managing their own finances.

“The Social Security Administration not only overstepped its mission with this regulation, it discriminated against certain Americans with disabilities who receive Social Security benefits. The agency should be focused on serving all of its beneficiaries, not picking and choosing whose Second Amendment rights to deny,” said Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, who chairs the Ways and Means Committee.

The Senate is expected to pass the National Rifle Association-backed measure soon and President Donald Trump is expected to sign it.

08:14  What’s making news at this hour:  

* Petroleum ministry advises Indian Oil’s R&D to take active part in oil spill management in Chennai

* BJP President Amit Shah to hold a foot march in Meerut, along with public meetings at different places in UP

* UP CM Akhilesh Yadav & Congress VP Rahul Gandhi to hold joint road show in Agra

* BSP Supremo Mayawati to hold rallies in Etah & Muzaffarnagar

* Delhi: Arrival of 3 international flights & departure of 2 domestic flights delayed, due to fog

* ED taking legal advise to challenge the Special Courts order that discharged Dayanidhi Maran & other accused in Aircel-Maxis case


00:34  ‘Read one, burn one’: JK Rowling’s offer to Trump supporters:  

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has hit back at Twitter users who threatened to burn her books following her criticism of US President Donald Trump.

Rowling’s recent Twitter feed has been filled with her retweets criticising the president’s recent travel ban.

Some followers have taken umbrage with her stance, with several saying they have burned her books or plan to do so, and one suggesting she “should stay out of politics”.

But the novelist has proved a match for her critics with her mocking responses.

“Actually, we’re thinking of selling them in pairs in future; a ‘read one, burn one’ deal for those who like the magic, but not the morals,” she said in a tweet.

Source: Rediff