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LIVE! Modi should get side role in Kapil Sharma's show: Cong

12:06  Coca Cola, Pepsi can use water from Tamiraparani River In TN: HC:  In a major relief for multinational beverage companies Coca Cola and Pepsi,  the Madras High Court on Thursday said the two soft drinks majors can draw water from Tamil Nadu’s Thamirabarani river for producing soft drinks or packaged drinking water.

The petitioner DA Prabakar, in his plea, said the Thamirabarani River supports the drinking water projects and irrigation schemes of the two districts – Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi. He accused the cola companies of drawing too much water from the rivers, which they said has impacted farming in the state.


11:54  IS leader Al-Baghdadi admits defeat in Mosul:  Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has admitted defeat in Mosul, the terror group’s biggest stronghold in Iraq, and has ordered militants to either flee or kill themselves in suicide attacks, the media reported.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made a “farewell speech” to his combatants in battlefields, ordering them to “flee and hide in mountainous areas” in Iraq and Syria, Iraqi News reported on Wednesday.

The text of the speech was disseminated among other speakers to read out to fighters at various areas in western Mosul.

The directives tell fighters to blow themselves up once encircled by Iraqi troops, adding that senior commanders close to Baghdadi were moving on the borderline between Syria and Iraq.

Iraqi forces have made remarkable gains since launching a renewed offensive on February 19 to retake western Mosul from IS militants.

The government said in January it had retaken the eastern side of the city following three months of fighting, Iraqi News added.


11:50  Modi should get side role in Kapil Sharma’s show: Cong:  Hitting out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for mocking party vice-president Rahul Gandhi over his Imphal address, the Congress has called on the former to get his facts straight before taking jibes.

“Modi ji has become an expert in comments and jokes; only if he clearly watches Rahul Gandhi’s speech he will know the truth and not make funny comments again. If Modi is really interested in cracking jokes then I will tell Navjot Singh Sidhu to give him a side role in Kapil Sharma’s show,” Surjewala told ANI here in a clear reference to the ‘coconut’ gaffe that ensued post Gandhi’s address.

Earlier today, the Prime Minister got a quote wrong while speaking at a rally in Maharajganj, where Modi mocked a certain Rahul Gandhi asking his supporters if they have ever heard of anything called coconut juice.

“Yesterday he (a Congress politician) made a very big declaration. he said now he will extract juice from coconuts.. and after extracting the juice, he will sell it in England. The poorest of poor children know that you get water from coconuts. You get juice from lime, santre, mosambi. have you ever seen or heard of coconut juice? Maybe I am unaware but tell me. Coconuts are found in Kerala but he’s saying he’ll extract coconut juice,” PM Modi said.

The Prime Minister Modi was referring to an election rally speech of Rahul Gandhi in Manipur’s Imphal East. But what Rahul actually said in his February 28 rally,

“Here (in Manipur) you grow nimbu, narangi (oranges), pineapple. I hope that such a day comes that when someone in London drinks pineapple juice, they look at the box and see ‘Made in Manipur’.”

The confusion broke out over Rahul Gandhi’s usage of the word ‘narangi’ which was mistaken for ‘nariyal’ (Coconut), following which the BJP spread no time in taking pot shot at the Congress vice-president.


11:37  Oscar winner Casey Affleck opens about sexual harassment allegation:  After facing a lot of backlash for winning the Best Actor at 2017 Oscars, actor Casey Affleck has finally responded on the sexual harassment allegations against him.

The 41 year-old, recently in an interview with Boston Globe, said that people do not really what happened and both sides in the case are prohibited from commenting, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

“I believe that any kind of mistreatment of anyone for any reason is unacceptable and abhorrent, and everyone deserves to be treated with respect in the workplace and anywhere else,” he said.

“There’s really nothing I can do about it. Other than live my life the way I know I live it and to speak to what my own values are and how I try to live by them all the time,” addressing the people who condemn him.

Affleck, denied all the allegations against him and settled the lawsuit out of court.

For the uninitiated, In 2010 two women working on Affleck’s experimental film ‘I’m Still Here,’ filed sexual harassment suits against him. One of the women claimed that Affleck crawled into her bed, without her consent while she was asleep and pressured the other woman to stay in his hotel room and “violently grabbed [her] arm in an effort to intimidate her into staying.”


11:22  Man who made extortion call to Mahesh Bhatt detained in UP:  

The anti-extortion cell of the Mumbai Police has detained a person with the help of the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force in connection with the case involving a threatto kill veteran producer-director Mahesh Bhatt, his wife Soni Razdan and daughter Alia Bhatt, if he failed to deposit Rs 50 lakh in a Lucknow-based bank branch.

The filmmaker had filed a complaint with the Juhu Police station on Wednesday against the extortionist under section 387.

According to media report, Bhatt received the call on February 26. He initially dismissed it to be a prank, but subsequently received text and WhatsApp messages from the caller who claimed to be a gang leader.

“If you fail to do so, I will fire several rounds of bullets in your daughter Alia and wife Soni,” the caller had threatened.

11:02  Madras HC’s Madurai branch dismisses two PILs against supply of Thamirabarani water to co-packers of Pepsi and Coca Cola


11:00  19 pc of winners in BMC polls face criminal cases: report:  

As many as 43 winners in the just concluded Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections are facing criminal cases, says a report.

This implies that nearly 19 per cent of the newly elected corporators have criminal charges against them, including for offences like attempt to murder and rape, as per an analysis of the affidavits of 225 winners out of the total 227 in BMC polls recently done by NGOs Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Maharashtra Election Watch.

Maharashtra Election Watch’s state-cordinator Sharad Kumar said, “As long as people don’t go out to vote in large numbers, political parties will pick winning candidates who have money and muscle power.” 

According to the report compiled by the two NGOs, Shiv Sena’s Umesh Subhash Mane, who won from ward no. 115, has in his affidavit declared a case related to attempt to murder (Indian Penal Code section 307) against him. 

Besides, three of the winners have cases of rape (IPC section 376) and assault or criminal force to woman with an intent to outrage her modesty (IPC section 354) against them, the report said. 

Out of the 225 winners whose affidavits were analysed, 22 from Shiv Sena, 11 from BJP, 3 from MNS, 2 from Congress, one each from NCP, SP and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) and 2 independents are facing criminal cases, it said.


10:19  Sensex scales 29,000; Nifty nears 9,000 as Wall Street hits record:  

The benchmark BSE Sensex on Thursday regained the 29,000-mark in early trade today as investors and domestic institutions widened bets, tracking rally in global markets. 

Sensex opened above 29,000 and touched 29,133 in early trade while Nifty came close to 9,000-level.

The gauge had rallied by 241.17 points in the previous session on the back of robust GDP data for the December quarter and positive global cues.

On Wednesday, Sensex finished 241 points or 0.8% higher at 28,984.49 after touching 29,000-level in intra-day trade while Nifty closed up 0.75% at 8,945.80 over optimism that the economy weathered the demonetisation impact to grow by 7% during October-December and as Trump announced plans to cut taxes and spend $1 trillion to upgrade infrastructure.

All the sectoral indices, led by metal, auto, oil & gas and consumer durables, were trading in positive zone with gains of up to 1.33 per cent. 

Brokers said that sentiments were high largely due to a firming trend in other Asian markets after the US bourses closed at new highs in yesterday’s trade. There has been a growing optimism over corporate tax cuts and other policy proposals reiterated by US President Donald Trump during his speech before the Congress.

After the US benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average touched all-time high of 21,000 on Wednesday, Asian shares opened up tracking Wall Street, which rose on expectation of economic recovery that will prompt a Fed rate hike this month.


10:13  Kuchibhotla was top-of-his-class kind of guy: Former boss:  

Srinivas Kuchibhotla, the Indian IT engineer shot dead in an apparent hate crime in the US, was the kind of job candidate that every hiring manager wanted on his team, as described by his former boss Rod Larson.

“He was very sharp. A top-of-his-class kind of guy,” Larson told Kansas City Star.

“His personality was exceptional. He was the kind of employee every manager would want.”

Kuchibhotla was the top pick in 2007 for a software engineer position at Rockwell Collins, an avionics and information technology systems company based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

“Kuchibhotla was so exceptional that Larson ultimately couldn’t keep him, because Kuchibhotla was moved from his auto-flight department and became instrumental in helping his company develop its first fly-by-wire planes, in which manual controls are entirely replaced by computers,” Larson said.

“He was well-liked by anybody and he was excellent in all categories. He was a low-maintenance employee and did whatever was asked of him,” he added.

10:10  PM hails defence scientists for successful test of missile:  

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today lauded the defence scientists for the successful testing of interceptor missile and said it is a proud moment for the entire country. 

“Hearty congratulations to our defence scientists for the successful demonstration of ballistic missile defence capability,” he tweeted.

“With this, India joins the select group of five nations with such capability- a proud moment for the entire country,” he added in another tweet.

India yesterday successfully test-fired an indigenously developed supersonic interceptor missile capable of destroying any incoming enemy missile at low altitude.


09:27  SC to hear Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal case today:  

The Supreme Court on Thursday will resume hearing the Sutlej Yamuna Link Canal issue involving the states of Punjab and Haryana.

Earlier, the apex court had refused to hear the Punjab Government’s plea seeking to adjourn the matter till the state elections results are announced.

Senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani, appearing for the Punjab government, sought an adjournment after March 11, to which the top court refused.

On January 17, the apex court had asked both the Haryana and Punjab Governments to file their respective replies on the issue within three weeks.

The apex court had in November last year, termed the law passed by the Punjab government in 2004 to terminate the SYL canal water sharing agreement with neighbouring states as ‘unconstitutional’.

Holding that the Punjab Termination of Agreement Act, 2004 was not being in conformity with the provisions of the Constitution, the top court answered in the negative to all the four questions referred to it in a presidential reference.


09:26  Delhi HC to hear plea against cops who hit Ramjas students:  

The Delhi High Court on Thursday is likely to take up the plea filed by Delhi University law students against police in Ramjas row.

Students from Delhi University’s law department on Wednesday approached the Delhi high court for action against policemen who allegedly assaulted students and journalists at Ramjas college during a protest.

Two of Delhi University law students Tarun Narang and Deepak Joshi have filed a public interest litigation. The PIL seeks formation of an independent committee of senior Delhi Police officials to investigate what led to massive protests in Delhi University last week.

It also demanded that police lodge cases under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code (assaulting a woman with intent to outrage her modesty) against the Police officers.

This development comes in the backdrop of unrest in Delhi University, following disruption of an event themed ‘Cultures of Protest,’ at Ramjas College.

A ‘Tiranga’ march was organised by the ABVP on Monday, to invoke nationalist sentiments on the campus. The students of Delhi University students yesterday staged a protest against the ABVP at the SGTB Khalsa College, in the North Campus.

09:22  Telecom Secretary J S Deepak has been appointed as India’s next ambassador to World Trade Organization


09:20  SC ban on highway liquor vends doesn’t apply to bars: AG:  

Times of India reports: Attorney general Mukul Rohatgi has told the Kerala government that the Supreme Court order banning liquor vends within 500 metres of state and national highways does not apply to bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.

The AG’s view could apply to other states as well as the court imposed deadline to shut down liquor vends from April 1 approaches amid a discussion over the effect on areas such as Gurgaon’s high profile Cyber Hub with its bars that lie alongside the Delhi-Jaipur highway.

State governments had strongly opposed the ban citing huge loss of revenue. Kerala government had sought the AG’s opinion as it was facing a huge problem in the state as the deadline of March 31 to cancel all licences of liquor vends was fast approaching.

09:09  Kim’s killing: Malaysia ends visa-free entry for N Koreans:  

Malaysia is ending visa-free travel for North Koreans, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has said, citing security reasons.

The move comes as Malaysia hunts several North Koreans suspected of being involved in the murder of Kim Jong-nam.

The estranged half-brother of North Korea’s leader died on 13 February — he was poisoned with VX nerve agent.

Two women were charged with his murder on Wednesday.

Kim’s body remains in a mortuary in Kuala Lumpur, amid a dispute over who should be entitled to claim it.

Malaysia has said it will only hand the body over to immediate relatives who can provide a DNA sample.

But North Korea, which reacted furiously to Malaysia conducting a post-mortem examination, says it should be able to claim the body of one of its citizens.


09:06  Banks to levy Rs 150 after 4 cash transactions:  

Some banks, including HDFC Bank, have begun charging a minimum amount of Rs 150 per transaction for cash deposits and withdrawals beyond four free transactions in a month.

The new charges would apply to savings as well as salary accounts effective from Wednesday, leading private sector player HDFC Bank said in a circular.

The bank would also cap the third party cash transactions at Rs 25,000 per day, while cash handling charges would be withdrawn effective today, the circular added.

In case of several banks, including ICICI Bank and Axis Bank, these charges came into effect early in January and are same as they were before the demonetisation move announced on November 8, while there is an increase in such fees in case of some others, including HDFC Bank, today onwards.

These charges are for cash transactions in the branches, and not through ATMs.

The move was seen in some quarters as aimed at discouraging cash transactions and furthering the digital payment drive.

For the basic no-frills accounts, maximum four cash withdrawals would continue to remain free and there would be no fees for cash deposits.

08:51  At least 20 passengers sustained injuries when bus in which they were travelling overturned near Paderu in Visakhapatnam

08:27  What to look forward to in news today:  

* Agitating Jats in Haryana will stage a protest at Jantar Mantar in Delhi today in support of their various demands, including reservations in government jobs and educational institutes for the community.

* President Pranab Mukherjee will visit the ongoing third edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in Kochi today for a first-hand experience of the contemporary art

exhibition in the country.

* Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will visit Nepal today to participate in an international summit aimed at boosting infrastructure investments in the landlocked country.

* Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu will announce a series of measures unveiling the new business plan-2017-18 today to perk up revenue.

* Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to address the InternationaI Yoga Festival at Rishikesh via video link today. Nearly 70 saints, yogacharyas, presenters and experts from more than 20 countries around the world are particpating this year at the week-long festival. There will be separate sessions on Ashtanga Yoga, Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Bharat Yoga, Ganga Yoga, and Somatics Yoga during the week. There will also be classes on meditation, mudras, Sanskrit chanting, reiki, Indian philosophy and much more. 

* Campaigning will come to a close in 49 Assembly seats in seven districts of eastern UP going to polls in the 6th phase on March 4, with SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Azamgarh Lok Sabha constituency in focus. 


08:20  Classified US satellite launched from California:  

A rocket carrying a classified US satellite for the National Reconnaissance Office has been launched from California. 

The Atlas 5 rocket lifted off at 9:49 am today local time and roared away into a clear sky over Vandenberg Air Force Base. 

All systems were going well when the launch webcast concluded about five minutes into the flight, as is customary during such missions.

The satellite dubbed NROL-79 is described only as a national security payload for the NRO. 

The once-secret office operates an array of intelligence-gathering satellites. The launch was conducted by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, and the Air Force’s 30th Space Wing.


08:17  Yahoo’s handling of hack costs Mayer her bonus:  

Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer lost an annual bonus and the company counsel his job after an investigation showed the company mishandled an epic hack, the tech firm said. 

“I am the CEO of the company and since this incident happened during my tenure, I have agreed to forgo my annual bonus and my annual equity grant this year,” Mayer said in a statement yesterday made available along with a regulatory filing on the matter. 

She added that she has asked that her bonus “be redistributed to our company’s hardworking employees.” 

The investigation findings also resulted in Yahoo general counsel Ronald Bell’s resignation on Wednesday with no severance payments, according to the filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

An independent committee determined that Yahoo’s security team knew about the 2014 hack of user accounts when it happened, the company said in the filing. Late that year, senior executives and some legal staff were made aware that “a state-sponsored actor had accessed certain user accounts” by exploiting an account management tool.


08:15  White House staff told to preserve Russia-related materials:  

White House lawyers have instructed the president’s aides to preserve materials that could be connected to Russian interference in the 2016 election and other related investigations, three administration officials said. 

The memo, which was sent to White House staff on Tuesday, comes after Senate Democrats last week asked the White House and law enforcement agencies to keep all materials involving contacts that Trump’s administration, campaign and transition team or anyone acting on their behalf have had with Russian government officials or their associates. 

The Senate intelligence committee, which is investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 election, has also asked more than a dozen organizations, agencies and individuals to preserve relevant records. 

The three administration officials who confirmed that White House staffers were instructed to comply did so on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly disclose the memo from White House counsel Don McGahn.

President Donald Trump has been dogged by questions about his advisers’ ties to Russia since the campaign. 

00:21  Brexit defeat for UK government over EU citizen rights:  

British Prime Minister Theresa May suffered her first Brexit bill defeat, over the rights of EU citizens living in the UK.

Members of the House of Lords, the upper house of the UK parliament, voted in favor of an amendment that called for EU nationals legally resident in Britain to be guaranteed the same status after the UK leaves the European Union.

It secured enough cross-party support to pass in the Lords, where May’s Conservative Party does not command a majority.

The amended bill must now be sent back for consideration to the House of Commons, potentially threatening Downing Street’s March 31 deadline to trigger Article 50, the formal start to the Brexit process.


00:03  US police chiefs denounce Trump immigration crackdown in open letter:  

An alliance of 61 police chiefs have criticised the enforcement of Donald Trumps immigration policies and are pleading for a change of tact.

In an open letter, the senior figures explain that if local police perform the federal governments job by enforcing deportations, it will create “harm” in their communities.

Trump has pledged to bring in local police forces to help with deporting millions of undocumented immigrants.

Immigration enforcement is, first and foremost, a federal responsibility, reads the letter.

We believe that state and local law enforcement must work together with federal authorities to protect our communities and that we can best serve our communities by leaving the enforcement of immigration laws to the federal government.

The chiefs stress that if the federal government force local police to help with national policy, and sometimes problematic tasks, it undermines the delicate federal balance and will harm locally-based [and] community-orientated policing.

It finishes: We hope that this committee (US Senate committee on homeland security) will avoid taking actions that could harm community trust and make it harder for state and local law enforcement agencies to do our jobs.

Source: Rediff