The literary and film community today came out in support of controversial author Salman Rushdie and blamed the West Bengal government for cancellation of his visit to the metropolis.
"If a world-renowned writer is unable to come to Kolkata, then it is extremely unfortunate," Magsaysay award-winning author Mahasweta Devi said. "Kolkata has always remained an open city for all. It has welcomed and helped writers from all over the world. That way it has a different type of depth. But what is happening now is very strange and I don't find any logic in it," she told PTI.
The state government should have given Rushdie adequate security and arrangements for his stay in the city, she added
Nepali maoists give up anti-India stance
In a major policy shift, Nepal's ruling Maoists will adopt a new path to socialism through capitalism and may also give up their anti-India stance at the upcoming national convention of the party.
Some 2,500 delegates of the ruling UCPN-Maoist will attend the six-day general convention, to take place after a gap of over 20 years, starting tomorrow in central Nepal's Hetauda Municipality
Rushdie lying : Book Fair, Lit meet organisers
Organisers of Kolkata Literary Meet (KLM) and Kolkata Book Fair have denied British Indian novelist Salman Rushdie's statement today that he was invited to be a part of the literary carnival and said he was 'lying'.
Rushdie is lying. He was never invited to the festival," Tridib Chatterjee, general secretary of Publishers and Book Sellers Guild, which organises Kolkata Book Fair, said here.
"Ask him (Rushdie) to show his invitation. May be he is a renowned writer but he is lying,Ӕ Chatterjee said.
Asked whether there was any pressure from the government not to include Rushdies name in the invitation list, he said the guild organises the book fair and the government has nothing to do with it.
Echoing him, KLM organiser Malavika Banerjee said ғwe never invited Rushdie. His name was never included in our schedule.
Although the Booker Prize winnerԒs name was never included officially in the list of speakers at the five-day KLM, which began here Wednesday at the Kolkata Book Fair premises, both Rushdie and film director Deepa Mehta have claimed the author was a 'surprise guest'.
"...I was indeed planning to take part in a session at the Kolkata Lit Meet along with the scheduled speakers Deepa Mehta, Rahul Bose, and Ruchir Joshi. The organizers were fully aware of this and had asked me to appear as a 'surprise guest'. If they now deny this, that is dishonest. They actually paid for my plane ticket," Rushdie said in a statement before flying out of the country this morning.
Suicide bomber attacks US Embassy in Turkey
Turkish police have told AP reporters that a suicide bomber attacked the US Embassy in the the capital of Turkey, Ankara. The explosion has killed two people and injured several outside the embassy. The Embassy itself does not appear to have suffered any damage.
Further details are expected
5. 20 pm:
Kejriwal targets Delhi CM over power tariffs
Arvind Kejriwal held a press conference where he accused Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit of refusing to allow Delhi power companies to cut tariffs, even though they are making profits.
Kejriwal's stand was that since the companies were making profits, power tariffs in Delhi should be cut and ideally should be half of the levels they currently stand at.
This marks a return of Kejriwal after two months of silence.
Kim Jong-un smokes while visiting a hospital
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had reportedly been photographed smoking while he was making an inspection of a newly built hospital in North Korea, which was constructed by the People's Army in Pyongyang.
The picture of the leader smoking while inspecting the Taesongsan General Hospital has surfaced amid reports that North Korea has been placed under martial law with the leader telling his troops to "be ready for a war", reports the Telegraph.
Stating that hospitals should be neat and splendid, Jong-un reportedly asked detailed questions regarding the hospital's cleanliness.
The leader has a fondness for cigarettes, which is evident from a set of photographs released in 2012 showing Jong-un smoking after ordering a successful satellite launch.
According to analysts, North Korea might be coinciding its much anticipated and internationally criticised third nuclear test, with the birthday of former leader Kim Jong-il on February 16, or the upcoming inauguration of the new government in South Korea.
Rail budget on Feb 26, general budget on Feb 28
The Budget Session of Parliament will be convened from February 21 and the General Budget for the year 2013-14 will be presented on February 28.
The over seven-week Session will have a month-long break from March 22 to April 22 and will culminate on May 10, sources said.
The Railway Budget will be presented on February 26 and the Economic Survey will be tabled on the next day.
The timing and duration of the Session was decided today at a meeting here of Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs whose recommendation will be sent to President Pranab Mukherjee for formal notification.
Family of Delhi gangrape victim wants to talk to Sonia
The family of Delhi gangrape victim has sought an appointment with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi to apprise her of their woes and demands.
The father of the girl told PTI on phone that he has sought an appointment with Gandhi.
Her office has asked the family to wait for some time in keeping with her pressing commitments, he said.
The family is unhappy over the Juvenile Justice Board's decision on the sixth accused, but have full faith that despite him being ruled as a minor, he would also get sternest of punishments, he said.
Read more3.20 pm:
Cabinet to meet to bring ordinance on measures against sexual harassment
The Cabinet will meet today to decide on a stringent law to deal with sexual harassment, CNN IBN reports.
The government is considering the feasibility of an ordinance instead of waiting for the Budget Session to legislate on the recommendations made by the Justice Verma Committee.
This is being seen as damage control in the wake of Justice Verma's outburst against the government's inept handling of the Delhi gangrape case. Sources add that Sonia and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh are keen on bringing in an ordinance.
The move also comes just days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wrote to Justice Verma, assuring him that the government would use it as a basis to strengthen laws on crimes against women.
After the meeting between Kamal Haasan's brother and Muslim leaders, sources told NDTV that the Muslim organisations have suggested that nine minutes from the spy thriller 'Vishwaroopam' be cut.
Diesel prices to go up by 40-50 p monthly: Moily
Oil minister Veerappa Moily has said that diesel prices will be raised by 40-50 paise every month till further orders, reports NDTV.
The government had on January 17 permitted state-run oil marketing companies to set diesel prices in a move that could help the government reduce its budget-busting subsidy bill. A day later, the price of the fuel was hiked by 45 paise.
12. 40 pm:
Rushdie lashes out at West Bengal govt
On a day that Midnight's Children is to be released, Salman Rushdie lashed out at the West Bengal government, Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy and the Kolkata book fair organisers on Twitter.
Rushdie had been forced to cancel his visit to Kolkata following protests against his planned visit there.
He tweeted in response to Roy's claims that the author had been given "friendly advice" to stay away. Rushdie tweeted, "Ridiculous, Saugata Roy. I did not get "friendly advice" to stay away from Kolkata. I was told the police would put me on next plane out."
He also tweeted, "...The police gave my full itinerary to the press and called Muslim leaders, clearly inciting protests." He alleged that the protests had been intentional.
He didn't spare the organisers of the lit fest either, and tweeted, "Finally re Kolkata: the lit meet organizers are lying when they say I wasn't invited. I have emails and plane tkt sent by them to prove it." The organisers had claimed that they had never invited Rushdie to the meet.
He also alleged that the operation was orchestrated at the Mamata Banerjee's orders. He tweeted, "The simple fact is that the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee ordered the police to block my arrival."
First BJP core committee meet under Rajnath today
A day after the BJP top brass met the leaders of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the party's first core committee meeting under new president Rajnath Singh will take place today, media reports said.
The BJP core committee will dwell on some crucial issues confronting the party and its future course of action.
The Karnataka crisis is also likely to dominate the discussion in addition to other pressing issues of organisational restructuring ahead of the assembly polls in several states this year and general election next year.
Relief for Nandy
The Supreme Court issues a stay on sociologist Ashis Nandy's arrest.
Court issues notices to all the States where FIRs where filed and the Union of India on Nandy's plea on quashing the FIRs registered against him.
"We are moving the Supreme Court for quashing of the FIR as well as laying down the guidelines in terms of something which constitutes an offence against SC/ST Act and something which is said in 'freedom of speech'," Nandy's lawyer Gaurav Kanth told the media on Thursday.
Kanth informed that there are four FIRs registered against Nandy.
Delay in Vishwaroopam release caused Rs 60 crore loss, says Kamal Haasan
Actor Kamal Haasan today said he suffered losses to the tune of Rs 60 crore due to problems in the release of his magnum opus 'Vishwaroopam'. "The film (Vishwaroopam) is made on a budget of Rs 95 crore. Due to the delay in the release of film, I have suffered a loss of Rs 30 to 60 crore," the superstar said in Mumbai.
10. 45 am:
Airtel Q3 profit sinks, misses estimates
Bad news for Airtel share holders.
Profit at India's top mobile network operator fell for the twelfth quarter in a row and missed estimates by a wide margin, dragged down by higher costs.
Airtel, controlled by billionaire Sunil Mittal, said consolidated net profit fell to Rs 2.84 billion in the fiscal third quarter that ended December 31, from Rs 10.11 billion a year earlier.
Analysts had expected the company to report net profit of Rs 8.45 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The profit margins have been hit by high depreciation and amortisation, interest costs, forex losses and tax.
Kiran Bedi has come out in support of the new revised draft of the Lokpal Bill which was cleared by the Union Cabinet on Thursday.
Bedi said to CNN-IBN that the new draft addressed most of the concerns. "It is time to give up opposition and look ahead. This is quite a strong bill."
"The new draft has made some positive changes. It is a work in progress. The selection process of the CBI director is considerably strong."
US soldier admits shooting man trying to cure hiccups
A Fort Hood soldier has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, saying he shot his friend accidentally while trying to scare away his hiccups.
Fort Hood officials say Spc. Patrick Edward Myers, was sentenced Thursday to three and a half years in military prison. He also was busted to private and will receive a bad-conduct discharge.
Myers fatally shot Isaac Lawrence Young in September while they were watching a football game at a Killeen apartment. Myers told police he thought the weapon had dummy rounds and was trying to scare his friend so his hiccups would stop.
Young was 22.
The case was tried in military court on the Central Texas Army post because the victim and suspect were soldiers.
Dense fog disrupts flight operations at IGI
Flight operations came to a standstill at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here today due to dense fog which reduced visibility to below 50 metres and affected the schedule of over 50 flights.
The fog descended upon the airport last night and it become so dense this morning that the runway visibility dropped to below 50 metres on both the runways rendering them inoperational, an airport official said.
Two Jet Airways flights, one from Abu Dhabi and other from Dammam and a Lufthansa flight from Munich were diverted between 5.30 AM and 7.30 AM.
Australia protests to Japan about whaling ship
Australia has protested to Japan that a ship supporting its whaling fleet entered Australian waters in pursuit of anti-whaling activists.
Environment Minister Tony Burke says his government confirmed Thursday that the ship was in Australia's exclusive economic zone near Macquarie Island. Burke said in a statement Australia "strongly objects" to whaling vessels in its waters. Australia's embassy in Tokyo protested to Japan's government over the incursion.
The ship is providing security to whaling vessels conducting Japan's annual hunt. Activists say it tailed the anti-whaling ship Bob Barker over two days in Australian waters.
Whaling organization Institute of Cetacean Research said Friday the activists used dangerous tactics that made the Japanese defy Australia's wishes.
Confrontations between Japan's whaling fleet and activists who oppose the hunts have been violent in the past.
As she leaves, Clinton sounds warning over Syria
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton issued a parting warning Thursday about Syria's civil war, accusing Iran of playing an increasingly prominent role in directing the violence, which she said heightened the danger of a larger regional conflict that draws in Israel or other neighbors.
"I've done what was possible to do," Clinton told reporters on the eve of her last day as secretary of state.
But she painted a harrowing picture of a war that could still get worse.
Alagiri aide hacked to death in Madurai
Unknown assailants murdered N Suresh Babu, also known as ‘Pottu Suresh’ on Thursday evening in Madurai. A former strongman of Union Minister and DMK leader MK Alagiri, he was attacked near his home in Satyasai Nagar at around 7.45 pm.