Amarnath's revelation incredibly courageous: Gavaskar
Former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar Wednesday said it was 'incredibly courageous' of his contemporary Mohinder Amarnath to take on the Indian cricket board by revealing that the board chief overruled the national selectors when they wanted to remove Mahendra Singh Dhoni as the team's skipper.
Amarnath raised a storm by saying that N. Srinivasan, president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), overruled the selection committee's decision to sack Dhoni after the team had lost all the four Tests in Australia last season. Amarnath was part of the selection panel, headed by Krishnamachari Srikkanth.
School asks kids to pay for teacher's hug
Chinese authorities are investigating a kindergarten after the school launched its so-called "hug fee", asking parents to cough up money for their children to get hugs from teachers.
Parents were being asked to pay the fee so that their children at the Jiangdu District Shangmao Kindergarten are hugged by teachers when they arrive in the morning and again when they leave, the Shanghai Daily reported.
The school in Yangzhou city charged 80 yuan ($12) per month per child for the hug.
News about the hug charges was posted online, and parents were told by teachers that hugging will put their children in a good mood.
The kindergarten explained that the service was part of a "quality education trial" to show that children feel loved and have their confidence raised when they receive hugs from teachers.
But local education authorities said such a practice violates rules and the kindergarten should return the money to parents.
No proof of UFOs on Sino-Indian border, says Antony
There is no conclusive proof of sighting unidentified flying objects (UFOs) over the Sino-Indian border, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said Wednesday.
The minister was responding to a query in the Lok Sabha from member T.N. Seema if it was true that Indian troops had seen UFOs in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir.
Antony said in a written statement that China disputed the international boundary with India.
"There is no commonly delineated Line of Actual Control (LAC) between the two countries," he said.
"Both sides patrol up to their respective perceptions of LAC. However, Chinese patrolling up to their perception of LAC is treated as transgressions.
"Such incidents are taken up with the Chinese side through established mechanisms... Effective border management is carried out through surveillance and regular patrolling," he said.
4. 50 pm
Singapore speaker quits over extramarital affair
The speaker of Singapore's parliament has resigned after he confessed to having an extramarital affair with a government employee.
The resignation announced on Wednesday is the latest scandal to both titillate and shock a country known for its strait -laced image.
Michael Palmer, the speaker and a member of Singapore's ruling People's Action Party, said his conduct was "improper" and a "serious error of judgment."
The 44-year-old married father, who was sworn in October 2011, also quit his parliament seat and gave up his membership to the People's Action Party.
4. 00 pm
Ravi Shankar could not withstand surgery, says family
Sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar, who had been in fragile health for several years, had undergone a surgery that could have given him a new lease of life but his body could not withstand the strain of the operation, his family said Wednesday.
"We were at his side when he passed away. We know that you all feel our loss with us, and we thank you for all of your prayers and good wishes through this difficult time. Although it is a time for sorrow and sadness, it is also a time for all of us to give thanks and to be grateful that we were able to have him as a part of our lives," his wife Sukanya Shankar and daughter Anoushka said in a statement.
Ravi Shankar had suffered from "upper-respiratory and heart issues over the past year and underwent heart-valve replacement surgery last Thursday".
"Though the surgery was successful, recovery proved too difficult for the 92-year-old musician," Sukanya said.
"His spirit and his legacy will live on forever in our hearts and in his music," the statement said.
The maestro passed away Thursday in San Diego in the US aged 92.
3. 20 pm
Sharad Pawar can become PM if he joins NDA: Manohar Joshi
Senior Shiv Sena leader Manohar Joshi today invited NCP President Sharad Pawar to join NDA, saying "he would be able to end quarrels within the BJP-led alliance and could also become Prime Minister".
Hailing the Maratha strongman's political skills, Joshi, who attended a function organised here on the eve of Pawar's birthday tomorrow, told reporters "Pawar should join NDA to end quarrels within the alliance and bring together all factions. If he joins NDA, he can also become the Prime Minister."
Asked whether other NDA constituents would accept such a proposal, the former Lok Sabha Speaker quipped "Pawar can get it done."
Earlier, the former Maharashtra Chief Minister, addressing the gathering, showered praise on Pawar and said the NCP leader has the capability to become Prime Minister.
2. 15 pm
Mayawati stuns Rajya Sabha; questions chairman Hamid Ansari's absence
BSP chief Mayawati shocked the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday by telling chairman Hamid Ansari that he is "not seen" in the House in the afternoon after which the House is not allowed to function.
"I am not ready to listen to anything. We have seen in the last few days that every day the House is not allowed to function after 12pm. It is your responsibility to ensure that it functions. Who will ensure that it functions," she told the Chair from the Well as also from her seat.
"You are not seen here after 12pm... What kind of House is this? You have to take decision that what has to be done for this (ensuring the functioning of the House)," the BSP chief said.
1. 10 pm
Retired judge to probe Wal-Mart lobbying issue: Govt
A retired judge would hold the inquiry into reports on lobbying by international supermarket chain Wal-Mart to open the way for foreign equity in retail trade in India, parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath announced in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
Making the announcement soon after the House met for the day, Kamal Nath said it would be a time-bound inquiry.
The opposition has been demanding a transparent inquiry on reports that Wal-Mart had spent Rs 125 crore on lobbying activities in the US, including on issues related to enhanced market access for investment in India.
The government had on Tuesday agreed to an inquiry.
12. 30 pm
Swann says Eng players to invoke 'spirit of Sydney' to finish off India in Nagpur Test
England off spinner Graeme Swann has claimed his teammates will invoke the spirit of Sydney, when they performed brilliantly to beat Australia in the final Test despite already claiming the Ashes, to try and beat India in the final Test match at Nagpur even with an unassailable 2-1 lead in the series.
At 2-1 up with one to play England are in the same situation in Nagpur as they were Down Under two years ago and they are aiming for the same result.
There was no sitting back on any laurels for England and there was just another assault on the Australian ramparts at their most inspirational home.
England don't just want to settle for a draw this week, they want the sort of series win that their cricket has deserved and that means 3-1 and a win of epic proportions.
11. 20 am
Cricketer Irfan Pathan has joined Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi at his rally in Kheda.
11. 00 am
North Korea rocket launch unwarranted: India
India today reacted strongly to the rocket launch by North Korea, saying the "unwarranted action" by that country has adversely impact peace and stability in the Korean peninsula.
In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs said India was concerned over the rocket launch which was in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1874.
India also asked North Korea to refrain from such action.
10. 05 am
India successfully tests n-capable missile
India today carried out a successful test of its nuclear-capable surface-to-surface Agni-I missile from a military base in Odisha, an official said.
The intermediate-range ballistic missile, which can strike a target 700 km away, was tested from a facility on Wheeler Island near Dhamra in Bhadrak district, 170 km from here.
The test was carried out by the Strategic Forces Command of the Indian armed forces as part of a training exercise to ensure preparedness, director of the Integrated Test Range, M.V.K.V. Prasad, said.
"The mission was successful," he said.
9. 20 am
Pandit Ravi Shankar passes away
Sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar passed away in San Diego today. He was 92. He was admitted to the Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla last Thursday after he complained of breathing difficulties. He died at 4.30 p.m. Pacific Time.
The legendary musician and composer was India's musical ambassador and a unique phenomenon in the classical music worlds of East and West. He was well known for his pioneering work in bringing Indian music to the West.
He was active as a professional musician till the end and was one of the contenders for the next Grammys.
9. 10 am
North Korea carries out controversial rocket launch
North Korea fired a long-range rocket on Wednesday morning in its second launch under its new leader, defying warnings from the U.N. and Washington only days before South Korean presidential elections.
North Korea declared the launch of a rocket and satellite a success, and state television planned a special broadcast about the launch at noon (0300 GMT).
South Korean and Japanese officials confirmed that liftoff took place shortly before 10 a.m. (0100 GMT), while the United States did not immediately comment on it. Each nation had been urging North Korea to refrain from a launch widely seen as a cover for a test of banned ballistic missile technology.
South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told a nationally televised news conference that a South Korean Aegis-equipped destroyer deployed in the Yellow Sea detected the launch but South Korea still didn't know the launch was successful. North Korea had indicated technical problems with the rocket earlier and had extended its launch window to Dec. 29.
8. 30 am
Three dead in Oregon mall shooting
Police say the man who opened fire in a suburban Portland shopping mall apparently killed himself after fatally shooting two people and wounding a third.
Clackamas County sheriff's Lt. James Rhodes says law enforcement who flooded the Clackamas Town Center in response to the afternoon shooting didn't fire any shots.
Witnesses described a scene of chaos and disbelief as a gunman wearing some sort of camouflage outfit and a white mask shot an initial burst of fire and then more rounds at Clackamas Town Center. Shoppers tried to find safe areas as teams of police officers began entering the mall to find the shooter.
Authorities were going store-to-store to secure the scene and to escort hiding shoppers outside, but Rhodes said there was no indication that there was more than one shooter.
Austin Patty, 20, who works at Macy's, said he saw a man in a white mask carrying a rifle and wearing a bulletproof vest.
He heard the gunman say "I am the shooter," as if announcing himself, Patty said. He then fired several shots paced seconds apart.
A series of rapid-fire shots in short succession followed. Patty said he ducked to the ground, then ran.
His Macy's co-worker, Pam Moore, told The Associated Press the gunman was short, with dark hair, dressed in camouflage. He had body armor and a rifle.
"I heard about 20 shots and everyone hit the ground," Moore said. "That's when we all just ran."