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LIVE! SC collegium clears 5 names for elevation to apex court

21:53  SC collegium clears 5 names for elevation to apex court:  The Supreme Court collegium has cleared the names of five sitting high court judges, including four chief justices, for elevation to the apex court.

According to the sources, those recommended by the collegium, headed by Chief Justice of India J S Khehar, are Madras high court Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Rajasthan HC Chief Justice Naveen Sinha, Kerala HC Chief Justice Mohan M Shantanagouder, Chhattisgarh HC Chief Justice Dipak Gupta and Karnataka HC judge Justice S Abdul Nazeer.

However, no woman judge could make it to the list.

At present, there is only one woman judge, Justice R Banumathi, in the apex court which is working with 23 judges out of the sanctioned strength of 31.

Justice Banumathi, who assumed office as a Supreme Court judge on August 13, 2014, is the sixth woman judge in the apex court since Independence. — PTI

21:31  JUST IN: United States slaps Iran with fresh sanctions after missile tests.


21:23  Tej Bahadur Yadavs VRS cancelled as per rules: Rijiju:  Union Minister Kiren Rijiju on Friday said the Border Security Force’s decision to cancel the voluntary retirement of constable Tej Bahadur Yadav who had posted a video raising concerns about the ‘poor quality’ food, was done as per the rules and regulations.

“The Centre has the priority to take care of the needs of the armed forces. We have already asked the authorities to redress the grievances of army personnel. There is a way to put forth ones problem. And if anyone by-passes that, there is a proper mechanism to counter,” Rijiju said.

“His VRS was cancelled as per the rules and regulations since the whole allegations are currently being probed,” he added.

The minister’s comment comes in the wake of an allegation levelled by Yadav’s wife that the trooper is being ‘threatened and tortured mentally’.

The BSF soldier’s application for voluntary retirement was accepted last year after he posted a video in January which went viral on social media. Following this, the BSF and the home ministry ordered an enquiry. — ANI


20:18  80% of oil spill clean-up operation in Chennai completed: Centre:  More than 80 per cent of the clean-up operation after the oil spill off Kamarajar Port in Tamil Nadu has been completed and most of the residual work is expected to be over within two to three days, Minister of State for Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan told the Lok Sabha on Friday.

Radhakrishnan also told the House that the Directorate General of Shipping has instituted an inquiry under the Merchant Shipping Act to ascertain the cause and contributory factors that led to the accident last Saturday.

“The total quantity of sludge which has been cleaned up till today is 65 tonnes. In addition, super suckers have removed 54 tonnes of oil mixed with water. More than 80 per cent of the work has been completed and most of the residual work is expected to be over within two to three days,” he said.

The Indian Oil Corporation has provided special bio-remediation material for treatment of the collected oil sludge for its safe disposal, he said. — PTI


19:44  New Rs 100 notes in circulation soon:  The Reserve Bank will soon put into circulation new Rs 100 banknotes which will be similar to the design of the ones in Mahatma Gandhi Series-2005.

‘The Reserve Bank will shortly issue Rs 100 denomination banknotes in the Mahatma Gandhi Series-2005, with the inset letter R in both the number panels, bearing the signature of Dr Urjit R Patel, Governor, Reserve Bank of India,’ RBI said in a notification.

The year of printing ‘2017’ will be on the reverse of the banknote.

The RBI said the design of these banknotes to be issued now is similar in all respects to the Rs 100 banknotes in Mahatma Gandhi Series- 2005 issued earlier.

Among the features of the banknotes, there would be ascending size of numerals in the number panels, bleed lines, and enlarged identification mark on the obverse.

All the banknotes in the denomination of Rs 100 issued by the bank in the past will continue to be legal tender, the RBI added. — PTI

Image for representation only.

19:32  US added 2,27,000 jobs in January:  The first jobs report released under the Trump administration says that the United States added 2,27,000 jobs in January, well ahead of December’s gain of 1,57,000 jobs.

However, the unemployment rate ticked up a bit to 4.8 per cent, CNN Money reported.

The report represents the economy that Trump is inheriting. It is also the beginning of Trump’s march to fulfilling a campaign promise to create 25 million new jobs in the next 10 years.

Read more.


19:11  Hope to take GST legislations to Parliament this session: FM:  

Keen to rollout the Goods and Services Tax by July, the government plans to take the supporting legislations to Parliament next month, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said today.

While the all-powerful GST Council has already decided on a four-slab tax structure for the indirect tax regime, the levy for different goods and services will be decided by May or June.

Jaitley said he hopes to get Central GST and Integrated GST draft legislations approved at the next GST Council meeting on February 18 and bring them in the second half of ongoing Budget Session. It will reconvene on

March 9 after a month long break and continue till April 12.

“Now the main policy issues (with regard to CGST and IGST) over 9 meetings have been put to rest. Final drafts are now being prepared and once they are circulated with the legally vetted language, those drafts will have to then go to Parliament and state legislature (for SGST) for approval.

“We will meet on 18th of this month. Hopefully, my target currently is to finalise those drafts and take them in the second part of the budget session in Parliament,” Jaitley said at a post-Budget meet with industry chambers.

19:10  Medium danger avalanche warning for some areas in J&K:  A medium danger avalanche warning was issued today for some avalanche-prone slopes of Jammu and Kashmir.

Chandigarh-based Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment’s warning would be valid for the next 24 hours, starting 5 pm.

“Medium danger” warning exists for avalanche-prone slopes in Kupwara, Bandipora, Anantnag, Baramula, Ganderbal, Kulgam, Budgam, Poonch, Doda, Kishtwar and Kargil districts of Jammu and Kashmir, A SASE advisory said.

It said moderate to nearly heavy snowfall is expected during the next 24 to 48 hours in the Himalayan state.  


19:05  Declare Pak a terror state: RS MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar:  

Against the backdrop of repeated terror attacks originating from Pakistan, Rajya Sabha MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar today moved in a Private Members’ Bill which seeks to declare any such country as State sponsor of terrorism and provides for snapping all economic and trade relations with that nation.

While moving for consideration ‘The Declaration of Countries as Sponsor of Terrorism Bill, 2016’, Independent member Chandrasekhar said it “seeks to call out states like Pakistan that continue to associate, promote, patronise and sponsor terrorism against our nation,”

The Bill seeks to declare any country as state sponsor of terrorism and provides for withdrawing economic and trade relations with such a country and creating legal, economic and travel sanctions for citizens of that country and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

“For decades, India and other countries in the region have been victims of terror attacks from organisations and individuals based in and with the support of elements in Pakistan. Yet for decades we have remained engaged with Pakistan in an attempt to draw it into the mainstream.

“This Bill is to finally put into motion the process of calling terror sponsors to account,” Chandrasekhar said.

Quoting data, he said from 1998 to 29, January 2017 14,741 civilians have been killed in terror attacks in this country, 6,274 security force personnel lost their lives and we have 23,146 terrorists.

He also referred to the terror attack on Parliament, the Indian ‘temple of democracy’ on December 13, 2001 to press his point.

18:40  ED files first chargesheet in a money laundering case of demonetised notes involving Axis Bank officials & others in Delhi, reports ANI

18:37  25 lakh defence pensioners in country: Government :  There are over 25 lakh defence pensioners in the country of whom over 1.25 lakh are Nepali citizens, the Lok Sabha was informed today. 

In written response to a question in Lok Sabha, Subhash Bhamre, Minister of State for Defence, said as on February 1, there are 25,00,631 defence pensioners with Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh topping the list. 

Punjab has 2,77,985 pensioners, the highest in the country, followed by Haryana (2,71,034) and Uttar Pradesh (2,24,971). 

Sikkim has only 288 defence pensioners while nearly 1,07,837 Nepali citizens are pensioners of the Ministry of Defence. 

Nepali soldiers have been a part of the Gurkha Regiment of the Indian Army since the British era. Bhambre said pension disbursing agencies have started releasing arrears due to the pensioners in the light of 7th Central Pay Commission. 


17:45  UP has become country’s crime capital: Amit Shah:  

Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah on Friday called off his foot march in Meerut following the murder of a businessman’s son and lashed out at the Samajwadi Party government, saying Uttar Pradesh has become India’s “crime capital” under it and vowed to make it a poll issue.

Such murders have become a common occurrence in the state, he said citing the recent killing of a businessman in Lucknow and claimed than an atmosphere of fear and terror reigns there.

“The morale of criminals is so high in the state, even police personnel are not safe let alone the common man. The way incidents of crime against the common man have risen under the Akhilesh Yadav government, an atmosphere of fear and terror prevails in the state.

“The BJP will fight for the issue of law and order in the streets of Uttar Pradesh and Parliament as well. Restoring the law and order and sending criminals behind bars will be our priority after a BJP government is formed,” he said in tweets.

Citing figures, he said cases of 24 rapes, 13 murders, 33 kidnappings, 19 riots and 136 thefts occur daily in the state, leading to 7,650 incidents of crime per day.

“UP has become the country’s crime capital,” he said. 


16:51  Pakistan has taken its Justin Trudeau obsession to another level:  Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has had Pakistanis swooning ever since he took oath, reports Express Tribune.

Whether it was rocking a sherwani, eating biryani, visiting a mosque or sending heartwarming messages on Eid and Nowruz, Trudeau did it and we loved it.

In fact, Pakistanis’ obsession with Trudeau could be gauged from the fact that Karachi was among 10 cities topping his global fan following on Facebook last year. Yet, Pakistanis have taken it a step further: Trudeau has been spotted at the back of a truck.


16:15  Kevin Pietersen pulls out of IPL :  Former England captain Kevin Pietersen has pulled out of the 2017 season of the Indian Premier League. The batsman, citing a busy winter as the reason, said he will not be entering the IPL auction scheduled for later this month.

“I won’t be going into the IPL auction,” Pietersen announced on Twitter. “My winter has been too busy with all my travel & I don’t want to spend April/May away too!”

Pietersen, 36, played for Rising Pune Supergiants in 2016 but was sidelined with a calf injury, missing a major part of the tournament as a result.


16:00  Mulayam to campaign first for brother Shivpal, not Akhilesh:  In a new turn of events, Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav has said that he will start campaigning for his brother Shivpal Yadav on February 9 and then for son and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.

“I will start my campaigning from Jaswantnagar on February 9 for Shivpal. I will campaign for Akhilesh later,” Mulayam said.

In a shock move, Shivpal earlier on January 31 announced that he would form a new political party after March 11, the day election results of five states would be declared.

Shivpal, who filed his nomination papers on the Samajwadi Party’s ticket from Jaswantnagar, said that he would be campaigning for those denied tickets by Akhilesh.

Shivpal also highlighted the work done by his ministry. “We ran the government for five years, was my ministry’s performance inferior to others,” he said.

Mulayam earlier on January 30 announced that he would not campaign for the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance in the run up to the state assembly polls.

15:41  Louvre attacker wielded machete shouting ‘Allahu Akhbar’:  The man shot after attempting to attack a soldier outside the Louvre museum in Paris was shouting “Allahu Akbar”, the Independent says, quoting police sources.

Michel Cadot, the head of Paris police, said the man was armed with a machete.

Paris police say the Louvre attacker is gravely wounded, shot five times including the stomach. The soldier was lightly wounded.


15:38  Iran bars US wrestlers from Freestyle World Cup event:  Trumped. Iran bans US wrestlers from taking part in Freestyle World Cup competition: Associated Press.

Iran’s decision comes on the back of President Trump’s executive order banning citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States for the next 90 days and suspends the admission of all refugees for 120 days.

Trump banned the entry of Syrian refugees indefinitely pending a security review meant to ensure terrorists cannot slip through vetting.

The 90-day ban on all entry to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries include Syria, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Sudan and  Libya.

The official IRNA news agency Saturday carried a statement by the Iranian foreign ministry that says Iran will resort to “counteraction” to Trump’s executive order. 


15:14  Soldier fires at man trying to enter Louvre museum, man wounded:  A French soldier on Friday opened fire on and wounded a man armed with a knife after he tried to enter the Louvre museum in central Paris carrying a suitcase, police sources said.

One source said the man had been trying to get into the museum’s underground shop and had attacked another soldier before being shot and seriously wounded.

Police said the area had been evacuated.

The interior ministry said on Twitter the incident was “serious”.

A spokewoman for Louvre said the museum was “closed for the moment” but would not confirm reports it had been evacuated.

A Reuters witness at the scene said police had cordoned off access to the museum.

France has been hit by a series of militant Islamist attacks over the past two years.


14:56  French soldier opens fire after man tried to enter Paris’ Louvre Museum with suitcase, say police sources: Reuters


14:52  Wish the Deshmukhs:  Riteish Deshmukh tweets this lovely picture on the special occasion of his marriage anniversary. @Riteishd  I look at you & find my self, a stronger self, a better self, a happy self, a blessed self. Happy Anniversary Baiko @geneliad #5Years.

A very happy anniversary from!

14:48  How will Pakistan fare with the new US administration? Your question answered here.

14:15  Congress has information Ahamed died much earlier: Azad :  AICC general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad today demanded discussion in Parliament alleging IUML leader E Ahamed had passed away “much earlier” then declared at RML hospital but the government wanted to keep the body there until the Union budget was presented.

Speaking to reporters at the Parliament premises, Azad said the Congress has information that former Union Minister Ahamed had passed away “much earlier” before it was formally declared. He also accused the government of keeping the body at the hospital for it wanted to go ahead with presenting Union Budget on February 1 despite opposition parties demanding its postponement.

“We will definitely want discussion on the way the body of Ahamed was kept there (at RML hospital). Our information is that his death happened much earlier (before it was declared).

“But the government wanted to keep the body there until the budget was presented and nobody was allowed to meet,” he said.

Azad’s remark comes after Congress MP K C Venugopal today reportedly gave an adjournment motion notice in Lok Sabha, accusing the hospital and Centre of unethical approach towards Ahamed and his kin.

Former union minister and Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) MP E Ahamed passed away in the early hours of Wednesday. His funeral took place yesterday in his home state Kerala.

13:43  RBI to soon decide on lifting weekly withdrawal limit, says Shaktikanta Das, Secretary Economic Affairs, Government of India.  


13:34  In Udta Punjab, Rahul vows to eliminate drug problem:  Launching a frontal attack on the Shiromani Akali Dal, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has urged the people of Punjab to come together and put an end to the drug menace ahead of the assembly polls.

Gandhi in a Facebook post said, “I have learnt one thing in politics… truth can’t be hidden. I had gone to a programme of Punjab University in 2012 and there I told the youth that 70 percent of Punjab’s youth suffer from drug-related problems.”

The Congress vice-president slammed the SAD government in Punjab for making fun of him. “On returning back to Delhi, I was surprised that Akali Dal leaders are saying that Rahul Gandhi is lying, there is no problem of drugs and they made fun of me. It is sad that the truth which was supposed to be accepted four years back is being accepted now,” he added.

Gandhi also lauded Punjab for its inputs in various fields concerning national interest.

“If we look at the national flag….Punjab is hidden in it. Punjab’s voice can be heard in the border areas, industries and army. You have witnessed truth. Punjab’s battle, fight against drugs is everyone’s fight. We won’t let Punjab fall. Come and fight together for Punjab. Let’s eliminate drugs completely from Punjab,” he said.

13:08  Trump admn mulling action on religious freedom: reports:   The Trump Administration is planning another controversial executive order which if signed by the President will provide individuals and organisations the option to deny services, employment and other benefits to people based on religion, according to media reports.

The draft order titled ‘Establishing a Government-Wide Initiative to Respect Religious Freedom’ lays out many of the proposals that conservative Christians have been requesting for years, including legal protections for organisations that claim religious objections to providing a range of services, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“Such an order, if signed, would likely plunge President Donald Trump into a debate over religious freedom, gay rights and reproductive rights, which has churned through states and courts for years — most recently with the disputes over transgender people’s use of bathrooms,” the report said.


12:50  Preity woman walking down the ramp:  Don’t you just love those dimples! The effervescent Preity Zinta in a stunner of a Mekhala sari at the LFW.’s Anita Aikara and photographer Hitesh  Harisinghani were there. Take a look.


12:36  Nehru’s Aksai Chin blunder :  “Delhi was not concerned. It would continue sleeping for several more years, with the result that Indian territory is still occupied by China today,” says Claude Arpi. Read more


12:32  Officer who ordered waterboarding is Trump’s CIA deputy chief :  A veteran CIA clandestine service officer who ran one of the agency’s “black site” prisons set up after the 9/11 attacks was named deputy director of the U.S. spy agency on Thursday by U.S. President Donald Trump, reports Reuters.

Gina Haspel, who will serve under new Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo, was the first woman spy to reach the CIA’s second-highest position, and her selection won applause inside the agency’s Virginia headquarters and from many longtime U.S. intelligence professionals.


11:55  ‘Modiji ne trend badla hai’:  Rakesh Kumar Singhal — once an army jawan, then an ONGC employee — came out of retirement to rent a tea shop opposite a forest on the outskirts of Dehradun. With his sons well settled and wife working as a warden in a school, he says he enjoys his solitude and sharing his shayaris with the labourers and sundry passersby who come by his shop.’s Archana Masih stopped by for some chai pe charcha with Singhalji, a superb raconteur, who gave his reasons why he has left the Congress and became a huge Modi supporter.

Sip your chai and read the interview right here.


11:53  Will Pranab Mukherjee get a 2nd term? Process of prez polls begins:  Preparations for the presidential elections — for both the President of India and Vice President of India — have begun with the Election Commission asking the Secretary Generals of the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha to initiate the process to hold the polls in July 2017. The Vice President elections will be held in August.

The Election Commission has designated the Secretary Generals of both the Houses and the  Returning Officers for the Presidential polls.

In pursuant to the directions from the EC, two rooms have been allocated specially for the elections inside Parliament House for officials to begin the process. By early April there will be a circular issued to all secretaries of the state assemblies who will function as Returning Officers.

Incumbent President Pranab Mukherjee’s term ends on July 25 and the elections have to be held before that. Mukherjee is eligible for re-election as no term limit exists.


11:47  Aircel-Maxis case: Marans acquittal challenged :   The properties of Dayanidhi Maran, image alongside, and his brother Kalanidhi, attached in the Aircel-Maxis deal case, should not be released, the Enforcement Directorate tells Supreme Court, and that the special 2G court should be directed not to accept bonds furnished by the Maran brothers after their discharge in the case yesterday.   

The SC has asked the ED to file a proper petition, and lists the matter for hearing at 2 pm today.

A special court in New Delhi, yesterday, discharged former Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran and his brother Kalanithi Maran and others in the Aircel-Maxis deal cases lodged by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate (ED). However, Thursday’s (February 2) order would not have any effect on the two accused Malaysian nationals — Ralph Marshall and T Ananda Krishnan — as the court has already segregated the trial against them from that of Maran brothers and others. More on the case here.

11:07  Fire in accounts branch of Rashtrapati Bhavan:  A fire broke out this morning in the accounts branch of Rashtrapati Bhavan but it was doused within minutes. No one was hurt in the blaze though some furniture was damaged. A call was received today at 8.45 am about a fire in Rashtrapati Bhavan’s accounts branch, said an official from the Delhi Fire Services.

Six fire tenders were rushed to the spot and the fire was doused within 10 minutes. An inverter, a chair and a table were gutted in the fire. The cause of fire is suspected to be a short-circuit and further probe is underway, he said. A few days back a minor fire in the server room of Parliament House had caused panic ahead of the Budget session.


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