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  • Election Commissioner Om Prakash Rawat will be the new Chief Election Commissioner, CEC. He will succeed Achal Kumar Joti, whose term will end tomorr...




  • Twenty Aam Aadmi Party MLAs stand disqualified from Delhi Assembly for holding Office of Profit. President Ram Nath Kovind accepted the recommendation...




  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi will leave for Davos, Switzerland tomorrow to attend the 48th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. He wi...



  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has greeted people of Manipur, Tripura and Meghalaya on their statehood day.In a series of tweets, Mr Modi said may Manipur continue to scale new growth in the time to come.



  • In Afghanistan, gunmen killed at least six people, including a foreigner in an attack on Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel last night.



  • India will become the fastest growing large economy in the world, eclipsing China, in 2018 and the country's equity market will jump to become the fifth largest in the world, a report says.



  • Delhi Police has arrested the owner of Bawana fire cracker warehouse following a major fire incident in the unit yesterday which claimed at least 17 lives.



  • North Korean delegates arrived in Seoul today on their way to inspect venues and prepare cultural performances for next month's Winter Olympics.


  • The government also appointed former finance secretary Ashok Lawasa as an election commissioner.

    The appointment of the election commissioner was made as a vacancy would have arisen in the three-member poll panel after the retirement of Joti tomorrow.

    Sunil Arora is the other election commissioner.

  • The comments come at a time when spurt in call drops has once again come under the telecom department’s gaze and Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan is planning a meeting with operators soon to convey concern over call quality. 

    Apex industry body Cellular Operators’ Association of India (COAI) Director General Rajan Mathews said the problem is confined to geographical pockets and some companies.  It should not be seen as industry-wide problem, he said. 

    “Obviously there are some companies that have gone out of business and not investing. If you are customer of these companies, you’ll see some challenges because towers are being shut down or not being maintained. To say its emblematic of whole industry is not fair,” Mathews said. 

    As an aggregate, these issues could be driving the overall averages down for the industry.  All major operators are principally in compliance with service quality norms, Mathews argued citing data by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). 

    “We need to disaggregate the problem. Don’t tar whole industry with problem that has couple of localised reasons.  There are companies facing financial challenges more than others, some have gone out of business...,” he said. 

    Moreover, difficulty in getting approvals for rolling out cell towers and fibre network and “intervention” by local municipalities shutting down towers have compounded problems at the local circle level.

    “Some circles may be more problematic than others...  Delhi, Mumbai may have problems because these have significant right of way difficulties. Let’s disaggregate the problem” he said.

    Mathews said that the industry has put significant number of new cell towers to bolster network.  Last week, in a stern message to telecom operators, the Department of Telecom (DoT) asked companies to get their act together to tackle the call drop issue. 

    Sundararajan had said the DoT will meet the industry on the call drop issue as soon as Trai’s assessment comes on quality of mobile services benchmarked to the new call drop parametres.

    Acknowledging that mobile operators do face difficulty in setting up towers at times, given resistance from people, Sundararajan had said that it cannot be cited as an excuse for call drops and that investments will have to made by telecom companies in upgrading their infrastructure. 

    Trai’s new and more stringent call drop rules came into force from October 1 and the quarter ended December will see the first instance of reporting under the new formula.  Trai has aready asked the operators to submit their network-related data for checking service quality under the new benchmarks and deadline for the same is January 21. 

    As per the new rules, the telecom operators may face a maximum penalty of Rs 10 lakh for call drops which will now be measured at mobile tower level instead the telecom circle level.

    The Telecom Department had, in a series of meeting over the last few quarters, asked telcos to adopt immediate measures to improve call quality including setting-up additional mobile towers across the country.

    As per estimates, 6.35 lakh mobile sites (BaseTransceiver Stations) have been added on aggregate basis for 2G/3G/4G services during the period July 2015 to November 2017.

  • Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, Union Minister Giriraj Singh and former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi along with hundreds of leaders and workers of the ruling National Democratic Alliance, including Janata Dal-United, participated.

    The Chief Minister, while inaugurating the human chain at Gandhi Maidan in Patna said, the young people should stand up against the dowry, child marriage and other malpractices prevailing in the society, especially in Bihar. He said the chain will change the human behaviour in a positive way.

    Top state officials claimed that the "world's longest human chain" comprising of 13,660 persons was formed on the occasion. A team from the Limca Book of Records is in Bihar to record the human chain formation.

    "Millions of people, including children, elderly people, housewives, students, officials, workers and others from all walks of life participated in forming the human chain from noon till 12.30 p.m.," Chief Secretary Anjani Kumar Singh told the media here.

    According to officials, the government expected to draw 4.30 crore of the state's 11 crore population to the event held across the state, ranging from busy national and state highways to rural roads and narrow bylanes of villages. School students, mainly girls, shouted slogans opposing child marriage and dowry.

    The programme was recorded by 40 drone cameras. A movie prepared on the occasion will be shown in 127 cinema halls across the state. The state government had galvanised its entire machinery in preparation for the world's longest human chain to demonstrate public support and solidarity for its campaign against child marriage and dowry. It was probably the first event of its kind in the country as far as child marriage and dowry issues go.

    Soon after launching a massive campaign against child marriage and dowry in Bihar on October 2, 2017, Nitish Kumar announced the plan to form a statewide human chain against the twin evils on January 21, 2018.

    Last year, on this day, the Human Chain was created to make people aware of ill effects of liquor on the society. Total prohibition of all types of liquor was imposed in the state from 1 April 2016.

  • The hosts, set 303 to win by England after winning the toss and electing to bowl, were always struggling in their chase and eventually managed only 286 for six.

    The result gave England an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the five-match ODI series, a remarkable turnaround after Australia had trounced the tourists 4-0 in the Ashes Tests.

    Australia’s hopes largely rested with Steve Smith (45) and Mitchell Marsh (55), but both were dismissed at a crucial stage of the chase, with Smith falling to a contentious low-down catch by Buttler off the bowling of Mark Wood (2-46). 

    Marcus Stoinis made a late attempt to lift Australia with a punishing 56, but England managed to hold on despite losing pacemen Liam Plunkett to a leg injury early in the Australian innings.

    Buttler, 27, was the only batsman from either team really to get to grips with a slightly slow pitch, and his late surge enabled England to reach a total which had seemed out of their reach until the final few overs.

    Several English batsmen failed to capitalise on promising starts, but Buttler notched his fifth one-day international century from the last ball of the innings as England helped themselves to 38 off the final two overs.

    Buttler himself took 28 runs from the last 11 balls he faced. He faced 83 balls, hitting six fours and four sixes, in a dashing innings that gathered momentum in the last 10 overs.

    Just as England appeared to be struggling against a full-strength Australian attack, Buttler found a willing ally in Chris Woakes late in the innings, the seamer making 53 from 36 balls in a match-winning partnership of 113 in 11.5 overs.

    Australia recalled pacemen Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood for the match, the first time in the one-day series that the trio of Cummins, Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc, who spearheaded the Ashes win, had been reunited.

    The tactic appeared to be working until Buttler and Woakes came together and turned the match on its head. The English were aided by sloppy Australian fielding, with four missed catches and two botched run-out attempts.

    The easiest of the catches to go to grass was a howler by Cameron White, who failed to get a hand to a skied chance from Moeen Ali when he was on one.

    Marsh was the unlucky bowler, but had his revenge a few minutes later when he bowled Ali for six, continuing the all-rounder’s wretched tour.

    Smith dropped Eoin Morgan (41) on 18 off spinner Adam Zampa, while Starc got his fingers to a tough caught-and-bowled chance.

  • On an overcast and muggy day at Melbourne Park, the Spanish world number one was up against his most dangerous opponent yet in pocket-rocket Diego Schwartzman, one of the smallest men on tour.

    The Argentine 24th seed endeared with his astonishingly powerful groundstrokes before Nadal prevailed 6-3, 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 6-3 in almost four hours on Rod Laver Arena.

    It kept alive his push for a 17th Grand Slam title and also ensured he will remain number one will the new rankings come out after the tournament ends.

    “It was a great battle,” said Nadal, who is chasing his second Melbourne title after beating Roger Federer in the 2009 final. “Of course, I feel little bit tired, but I was able to keep fighting until the end.”

    He will play sixth seed Marin Cilic for a place in the semi-finals after the Croat beat Spanish 10th seed Pablo Correna Busta 6-7 (2/7), 6-3, 7-6 (7/0), 7-6 (7/3). The win was Cilic’s 100th at a Grand Slam.

    “I have played great tennis from the first round against tough opponents and now I am really looking to the next match, it will be definitely be a big challenge,” he said of the Nadal clash.

    Ordinarily Nadal, as the top seed, would have top billing on Rod Laver in the evening, but not with local star Kyrgios in action. The maturing Australian 22-year-old pushed world number three Dimitrov close in a hugely entertaining four setter before succumbing 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 7-6 (7/4).

    Dimitrov stepped up his campaign after a couple of indifferent wins in the earlier rounds to avenge his defeat to Kyrgios in the semi-finals of this month's Brisbane International.

    His reward is a showdown with Briton Kyle Edmund, who reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final with a 6-7 (4/7), 7-5, 6-2, 6-3 win over Italy’s Andreas Seppi.

    PLAY AGGRESRIVE

    World number two Wozniacki turned on the style in her match to take another step towards a maiden Grand Slam title.

    The assured Wozniacki, a semi-finalist in 2011 who has never quite lived up to the hype in the majors, annihilated 19th-seeded Magdalena Rybarikova 6-3, 6-0 in her most impressive performance to date.

    Her easy passage sets up a last-eight clash with gritty Spaniard Suarez Navarro, who battled back from a set and 4-1 down to shatter the hopes of 32nd seed Anett Kontaviet. The Estonian had been bubbling with confidence after despatching French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the third round, but nerves got the better of her.

    The Spaniard, who has made the quarter-finals in Melbourne twice before, most recently in 2016, credited her fightback with a conscious decision to be more aggressive.

    The 37th-ranked Elise Mertens also made the last eight, becoming the first Belgian since Kim Clijsters in 2012 to get so far in Australia. She posted a straight-sets win over Croat Petra Martic and will now play either fourth seed Elina Svitolina or Czech qualifier Denisa Allertova.

  • His remarks come almost a month after a group of five Army commandos crossed the Line of Control in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir and killed three Pakistani soldiers and smashed a post, in a swift and daring operation.  The operation was seen as avenging the killing of four Indian Army personnel by a Border Action Team of the Pakistan Army in Keri sector Rajouri district.

    “A few months ago, Pakistan, in an act of cowardice, attacked and martyred 17 of our jawans. Prime Minister Narendra Modi consulted all of us on this serious issue, and the Indian Army entered the Pakistani area and killed the militants,” Singh said at a public meeting in Lucknow.

    “India’s image in the world has become that of a strong nation and we have given a strong message to the world that we can attack our enemies not only on our soil, but also in their territory. India has developed this power,” he said.  Singh said India wants to maintain a friendly relationship with Pakistan.

    “But Pakistan is not mending its ways,” Singh said.  “I want to assure you that our government will not let India to bow its head,” he said. The home minister said that under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the country’s economy is moving ahead at a fast pace.

  • Television footage showed seven officials led by Hyon Song-Wol, the leader of the North’s popular Moranbong girl band, crossing the heavily-fortified border by bus before arriving at Seoul train station about an hour later.

    The stony-faced officials, surrounded by hundreds of Seoul police officers, then boarded a train to the eastern city of Gangneung, where one of two planned concerts is due to be held.

    Hyon, a star singer and also the leader of the 140-member Samjiyon Orchestra chosen to visit the South, left the station in Gangneung without talking to throngs of journalists.

    After months of high tensions over the North’s missile and nuclear tests, the neighbours agreed this month that North Korean athletes, cheerleaders, artistic troupes and other delegates would attend the Games beginning in the South’s ski resort of Pyeongchang on February 9.

    The International Olympic Committee on Saturday endorsed the deal, saying the North would send 22 athletes in sports ranging from figure skating to short-track speed skating.

    “It marks the opening of the door towards peaceful coexistence and peaceful cooperation forged through sports,” Seoul’s sports minister Do Jong-Hwan, who attended Saturday’s meeting, told reporters on returning to Seoul.

    The two nations also agreed to march together at the opening ceremony under a unification flag—a pale blue silhouette of the Korean peninsula—and to form a joint women’s ice hockey team.

    The South’s government, facing mounting public criticism of the sporting rapprochement, defended it Sunday as “an investment for a peaceful future”.  The orchestra led by Hyon will give two concerts—one in the capital Seoul and another in Gangneung—during the Olympics.

    Seoul will also send skiers to the North’s Masikryong ski resort for joint training with North Korean counterparts, and hold a joint cultural event in the scenic Mount Kumgang area north of the border.  

    The delegation led by Hyon will inspect venues in Gangneung on Sunday and those in the capital Seoul on Monday before returning to the North the same day.

    Another team will visit the South this week to check logistics for North Korean athletes, while Seoul will send its own officials to the North’s ski resort to inspect the venue.   

    Seoul’s government and the organisers hope that the Games, which they have promoted as the “Peace Olympics”, can ease tensions that soared to new heights in recent months. 

  • Average surface temperatures in 2017 were 1.1 degree Celsius (2.0 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, creeping towards 1.5C (2.7F), the most ambitious limit for global warming set by almost 200 nations under the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

    The agreement has been weakened by a plan by U.S. President Donald Trump, who doubts mainstream scientific findings that warming is driven by man-made greenhouse gases, to pull out.

    The U.N’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said 2017 was indistinguishable from 2015 as the second or third warmest year behind 2016, and made 2017 “the warmest year without an El Niño” in records dating back to the late 19th century.

    Temperatures in both 2016 and 2015 were lifted by an El Niño, a natural event which can disrupt weather patterns worldwide every few years and releases heat from the tropical Pacific Ocean into the atmosphere.

  • Kargil continued to be the coldest recorded place in the state as the mercury there settled at minus 20.2 degrees Celsius on Saturday night, an official of the Meteorological Department said.

    The nearby Leh town also shivered with the mercury there settling at minus 14.6 degrees Celsius over a degree down from minus 13.5 degrees Celsius last night. He said Srinagar the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir recorded a minimum temperature of minus 4.1 degrees Celsius last night marginally up from minus 4.3 degrees Celsius the previous night.

    The night temperature in Qazigund, in south Kashmir, settled at a low of minus 4.2 degrees Celsius, while the neighbouring Kokernag town registered a low of minus 1.7 degrees Celsius last night, the official said.

    He said Kupwara in north Kashmir recorded a low of minus 4.6 degrees Celsius slightly down from the previous night’s minus 4.0 degrees Celsius. The official said the night temperature in Pahalgam - the famous health resort which also serves as one of the base camps for the annual Amarnath Yatra settled at a low of minus 6.1 degrees Celsius compared to the low of minus 6.3 degrees Celsius the previous night.

    Gulmarg the famous ski-resort in north Kashmir - recorded the minimum temperature of minus 4.2 degrees Celsius an increase from yesterday’s minus 5.5 degrees Celsius, the official said.

    Kashmir is currently under the grip of ‘Chillai-Kalan’, a 40-day harshest period of winter when the chances of snowfall are most frequent and the temperature drops considerably.

    However, a month into the period, the weather has largely remained dry, especially in the plains. It ends on January 31, but the cold wave continues even after that in the valley. The 40-day period is followed by a 20-day long ‘Chillai- Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day long ‘Chillai-Bachha’ (baby cold).

    The MET Office has forecast light rain or snowfall at isolated places in the state on Tuesday. “There is possibility of rain or snow or thundershowers at isolated places on January 23. The weather in Kashmir will remain dry till then,” the MeT official said.

  • Tom Boon (4th minute) and Sebastien Dockier (36th) found the target for Belgium while Mandeep Singh (19th) was India's lone goal scorer. Belgium were quick to get off the block as they won a penalty corner within three minutes of the game but Loick Luypaert's drag flick was superbly rendered ineffective
    by India's first runner Chinglensana Kangujam.

    Almost immediately, India had a great opportunity to score as a dribbling Dilpreet Singh made a beautiful turn at the top of the circle to dodge a Belgian defender. He then sliced the ball across to Lalit Upadhyay who had positioned himself in front of the post but sadly he could not get a nudge on the ball.

    Belgium, meanwhile, mounted pressure on India with a goal through Boon in the fourth minute. With three seconds to go for the first hooter, India won a penalty corner but Rupinder Pal Singh's fierce hit to the right bottom of the post was saved by a Belgian defender at the baseline.

    India overcame a slow start in the second quarter as they gained momentum, creating potential circle penetrations. It was in the 19th minute when defender Rupinder Pal Singh intercepted a Belgian long pass to find Manpreet in the midfield who then sliced the ball into the center of the circle.

    Mandeep Singh was quick to react, beating goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch to push the ball into the post fetching India the equaliser. The next few minutes saw India work hard to keep the ball but a structured Belgian defence was tough to break.

    Meanwhile, Sreejesh made an excellent save in the 21st minute when Thomas Briels took a shot on goal, ensuring both teams went into the half-time break in a stalemate. It was advantage Belgium as they scored at the start of the third quarter when Gauthier Boccard used a powerful reverse hit from the top of the striking circle.

    Sreejesh made a fine save but Sebastien Dockier was quick to pick up the rebound as he found the gap and smashed the ball past the India goalkeeper. Though Belgium won three back-to-back penalty corners towards the end of the third quarter, Manpreet Singh was unrelenting as the first runner to ensure no goal was scored.

    India bounced back in the final quarter, increasing their attack, finding gaps in the 15 yard mark putting pressure on the Belgian defence. But their experienced goal keeper Vincent Vanasch made some important saves to keep India at bay.

    Last five minutes saw India's chief coach Sjoerd Marijne pull out their goalkeeper to add an extra man to their attack. The effort worked with India winning a penalty corner in the dying minutes of the match but Harmanpreet's attempt was well defended by the Belgians.

    "We were much better than our previous match against Belgium. Our young players are making good progress against a world class team like Belgium which we will benefit from in the future. For now though, even a draw would have been a better result but the Belgium goalkeeper did some good work and made crucial saves," said Marijne.

    On January 24, India will take on hosts New Zealand in the first match of the second leg in the Four Nations Invitational tournament.

  • The recommendation was sent on Friday. The Election Commission had said the MLAs, by occupying the post of parliamentary secretaries between March 13, 2015 and September 8, 2016, held offices of profit, and were liable to be disqualified as legislators.

    Earlier, in its recommendation to the President, Election Commission has said 20 legislators of Aam Aadmi Party be disqualified for holding offices of profit as parliamentary secretaries. Petitioners in the case argue that they have sufficient evidence for the disqualification of the MLAs.

    Aam Aadmi Party approached the High Court but got no relief from there. Both BJP and Congress have sharpened attack on AAP demanding Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's resignation.

    After assuming office in Delhi, the AAP government in March 2015 appointed 21 MLAs as parliamentary secretaries to its ministers. A petition was filed demanding disqualification of these MLAs for holding office of profit.

  • The mission, titled "Still Testing" is the second successful test for the US aerospace company following an inaugural launch on May 25, 2017.

    The rocket is carrying satellites to track weather and shipping, enabling the US aerospace company to gather data and test systems for the deployment stage of a mission, according to their website.

    Company CEO and founder Peter Beck, a New Zealander, said the launch marks the beginning of a new era in commercial access to space. He said that deploying customer payloads on a second test flight “is almost unprecedented.”

  • A special team of the United Nations Security Council will visit the country in February and check upon the progress made on sanctions placed on Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), Falah-i-Insaniyat Foundation and other proscribed organisations.Pakistani officials will apprise the visiting UN delegation of the implementation regarding the ban on the organisations.

    An important session was also held at the foreign ministry under Additional Secretary (United Nations and Economic Cooperation) Tasneem Aslam.In the meeting, officials from the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (Nacta), Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU), Federal Investigation Agency and other institutions were present and briefed the attendees.

    The foreign ministry officials were briefed regarding the financial assistance to proscribed organisations.There are 27 organisations and 35 individuals operating allegedly from Pakistan on the UN list.

  • While Paes and Raja suffered a straight-set defeat at the hands of Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah of Colombia in the men’s doubles pre-quarterfinals, Bopanna and Babos easily edged past Australian pair of Andrew Whittington and Ellen Perez in the mixed doubles first round. 

    The unseeded Paes and Raja were beaten 1-6 2-6 by their 11th seeded opponents in a contest that lasted one hour and nine minutes at the Melbourne Park.  Paes and Raja failed to capitalise on any one of the five break points—two in the first set and three in the second -- they got in the match while the Cabal-Farah duo converted four out the 10 they had.

    The Colombian duo broke the Indians twice in both the sets to easily grab the match and make it to the quarterfinals.

    The Indian pair had shocked the formidable fifth seeds Bruno Soares and Jamie Murray in the second round but their game were not up to the mark today.  Paes and Raja, who won two Challenger level titles to close the 2017 season, were playing in their second Grand Slam together.

    At the 2017 US Open, they lost in the second round.  Paes has not featured in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam event for more than a year. The last time 44-year-old Paes played a quarterfinal at a Grand Slam was in 2016 at French Open where he and Marcin Matkowski had lost to Mike and Bob Bryan.

    Meanwhile, Bopanna and Babos dispatched the unseeded Australian pairing of Whittington and Perez 6-2 6-4 in a first round mixed doubles match lasted less than an hour.  The fifth seeded Indo-Hungarian pair looked dominant from the start breaking Whittington’s serve in the very first game.  They will face USA’s Vania King and Croatia’s Franko Skugor in the second round. 

  •  In Maharashtra. Three more persons have been arrested in connection with the deadly fire at two pubs in Kamla Mills compound in Mumbai which claimed 14 lives last month.

    Ravi Bhandari, a partner in Kamla Mills, station fire officer Rajendra Patil, and Utkarsh Pandey, owner of Nirvana Hookah, were arrested last evening.

    The municipal commissioner's report had said the owners of Kamla Mills allowed illegal alterations and usage of terrace by the two pubs. It also said that departmental

    Inquiry will be conducted against some fire brigade officialsfor lapses in duty.Owners of the 1 Above pub and Mojo's Bistro have already arrested and have been booked for `culpable homicide not amounting to murder' and other offences under the Indian Penal Code.Three more arrested in Mumbai pub fire case

  • BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on Saturday produced before a Delhi court an Income Tax assessment order against the Young Indian company, in which majority shares are held by Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.

    The order dated December 27 of last year, served on Young Indian (YI), cancels the tax exemption certificate issued to the firm and declares that it should pay tax for the concealed income gain, amounting to Rs 414 crore.

    Metropolitan Magistrate Ambika Singh directed that the I-T department documents, which were submitted by Swamy, be kept in a sealed cover till further orders. The court posted the matter for further hearing on March 27.

    The BJP MP  accused the Gandhis and others of conspiring to misappropriate funds by paying just Rs 50 lakh, through which YI obtained the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore which Associate Journals Ltd owed the Congress.

    The 105-page order contradicts the Congress party's claim of giving Rs 90 crore loan to Associated Journals Limited (AJL), the publisher of the National Herald newspaper. The order adds that the transaction was made to take over Rs 2,000 crore worth of land and building assets of AJL, he said.

  • In Jammu and Kashmir, two soldiers martyred in unprovoked firing by pakistan in Poonch district yesterday. Sepoy C K Rai, posted in a forward post in Mendhar sector of Poonch district, was injured in Pakistani firing and succumbed to injuries at the military hospital last night.  Earlier three civilians killed while one soldier martyred in cross border firing in KG Sector across LoC.

    16 others were injured as Pakistani troops shelled border outposts and civilian areas along the international border and LoC in the Jammu region for the third consecutive day on Saturday.The ceasefire violations triggered migration of over 35,000 people from their border hamlets as the authorities sounded a red alert and asked people to move to safer areas.

    Over 300 educational institutes along the IB and LoC in the Jammu region have been closed for the next few days by the administration in the wake of increased tension due to the shelling.

    So far, 11 persons including six civilians, three armymen and two BSF personnel have been killed and nearly 60 including some jawans were injured in the shelling during the past three days.

  • Security personnel waved Afghan flags on the roof top of the hotel to signal they had cleared and secured the building, ending the siege which started on Saturday night and lasted 13 hours.

    The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack which saw more than 150 guests flee. The raid came just days after a U.S. embassy warning of possible attacks on hotels in Kabul.

    Witnesses said the gunmen were dressed in army uniforms, but it was unclear how many were involved. The government said three gunmen were killed while witnesses said four were involved and the Taliban said five.

    The Intercontinental Hotel, an imposing 1960s structure set on a hilltop and heavily protected like most public buildings in Kabul, was previously attacked by Taliban fighters in 2011. While it shares the same name, the hotel in Kabul is not part of InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), which issued a statement in 2011 saying that "the hotel Inter-continental in Kabul is not part of IHG and has not been since 1980".

  • The fire, which started at the storage unit on the ground floor of a two-storey building, ripped through the structure.

    10 women and seven men were killed, while a man and woman were injured in the incident.

    An FIR has been registered under various sections of IPC relating to culpable homicide not amounting to murder, and negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible material.
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed anguish at the death of people in the fire.

    Prime Minister said he was "deeply anguished" by the accident. "My thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives. May those who are injured recover quickly," the PMO tweeted.

    Meanwhile, The Delhi government has ordered an inquiry into the blaze. Police also  apprehended the owner of the factory in connection with fire accident. 

    Delhi Chief Minister visited the spot and announced an ex-gratia of Rs. five lakh to the kin of those killed and Rs one lakh each to the two injured persons.

  • Cultural groups from the 10 member-nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are staging musicals and plays based on the epic at the festival celebrating the India-ASEAN dialogue. The festival seeks to underline the common cultural heritage and India's friendship with ASEAN nations.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi noted that the festival is "an important part of a series of events to commemorate 25 years of India-ASEAN relations, the Festival is a fitting prelude to the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit on 25th January." 

  • Australian speedster Mitchell Starc and England captain Joe Root are also among the top foreigners who will be under the hammer in the auction.

    Root's entry in the marquee list is an indication that England and Wales Cricket Board has finally understood what their players want.

    Stokes was cleared to play for England again on Wednesday despite being charged with affray. He was earlier suspended by the ECB from international duty for his involvement in an incident outside a nightclub in September that reportedly left a man with a fractured eye socket.

    While more than 1000 players had registered for the auctions, the BCCI has pruned the list to 578 players. The players have been bracketed into eight distinct slabs as per their profiles.

    The slabs for internationals (Indian and foreign) are Rs 2 crore, Rs 1.5 crore, Rs 1 crore, Rs 75 lakh and Rs 50 lakh respectively while uncapped players are base-priced at Rs 40, 30 and 20 lakh respectively.

    "A lot of strategizing and number-crunching is involved before a cricketer is picked at the IPL Player Auction. The dynamic nature of the auction makes it unpredictable and exciting," IPL Chairman Rajiv Shukla said in a release.

    "The eight franchises have given us an indication of what their core would be with their Player Retentions and IPL 2018 Player Auction will be an important step towards the creation of a successful team. The marquee list is full of star players, but I am also looking forward to the uncapped Indian players who have proved their mettle in the earlier editions of the IPL and are sure to attract high bids."

    Among the 16 marquee players bracketed into M1 and M2 categories, current India players Ashwin, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane are in the top marquee list along with Stokes, who is again expected to trigger a bidding war.

    Currently the world's premier fast bowler Mitchell Starc and T20 match-winner Chris Gayle are also in the M1 category. Some of the veteran internationals in the second tier of the marquee list (M2) are Harbhajan Singh, Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh.

    With 13 Indian players in the Rs 2 crore bracket, after a long time franchises will get to choose from current India players. Murali Vijay, Kedar Jadhav, KL Rahul, Yuzvendra Chahal, Dinesh Karthik are in the top wishlist of the franchises along with Afghan sensation Rashid Khan Arman.

    South African pace spearhead Kagiso Rabada is in the Rs 1.5 crore bracket while Brandon McCullum and Faf du Plessis are priced at Rs 2 crore and Chennai Super Kings have their Right to Match Cards (RTM).

    Australian dasher Chris Lynn is also in the Rs 2 crore bracket. As per the list provided, 36 players are in all in Rs 2 crore bracket while 32 have priced themselves in the Rs 1.5 crore zone.

    There are 31 in the Rs 1 crore category followed by 23 in the Rs 75 lakh and a whopping 122 in the Rs 50 lakh base price bracket respectively. There are 62 capped Indian players in the auction while the number of uncapped local players is 288.

    Compared to Indians, the number of capped foreign internationals is 92 while 36 uncapped overseas talents have thrown their hat in the ring. Some of the big uncapped names include Krunal Pandya, Prithvi Shaw and Kamlesh Nagarkoti.

  • The six-time champion advanced with a clear-cut 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 win over Spanish 21st seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas in 2hr 21min on Margaret Court Arena.

    But there was concern in his camp when the former world No.1 sought a medical timeout early in the second set for treatment to his lower back. Djokovic later played down the extent of the problem, saying “it’s okay, nothing major”.

    The Serb, looking for matches after a six-month lay-off with right elbow trouble, will face South Korea’s Chung Hyeon in Sunday’s fourth round after he shocked fourth seed Alexander Zverev.

    The injury was a fresh worry for the 12-time Grand Slam champion, whose ranking has slipped to 14 after an inactive second half of 2017.

    Djokovic, who was upset by Denis Istomin in the second round of last year’s tournament, was workmanlike as he broke the Spaniard’s serve five times, although his errors outnumbered his winners 40-37. It took his record against Ramos-Vinolas to 5-0 with two of the wins at Slams.

    Should Djokovic beat Chung he is facing a potential quarter-final against Austria’s fifth seed Dominic Thiem, who must first get past American surprise packet Tennys Sandgren on Monday.

  • The Swiss star beat the Frenchman 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 in just under two hours in a night match on Rod Laver Arena.

    Federer has unheralded Hungarian and one-time training partner Marton Fucsovics up next and a potential quarter-final with Tomas Berdych, who upset Juan Martin Del Porto in straight sets earlier Saturday.

    Federer, rated the favourite to win his 20th major even at the venerable age of 36, progressed to the fourth round at the Australian Open for the 16th time.

    The Swiss has only lost twice to the stylish Frenchman in their 19 meetings, winning all their four Grand Slam encounters. Significantly, Gasquet hasn’t won a set against Federer since 2011, a run of 22 sets to the Swiss.

    Federer, who did not face a break point in 26 games, lost his only serve in the match late in the third set on his second break point, such was his dominance.

    The Swiss legend broke Gasquet’s serve five times and hit 42 winners with 30 unforced errors. He improved his Australian Open record to 90-13.

    Federer is coming off an extraordinary 2017, when he won a fifth Australian Open title and a record eighth at Wimbledon, after returning from an injury lay-off.

    It was in Melbourne a year ago where he lit the fuse on his late-life tennis renaissance, beating Berdych, Kei Nishikori, Mischa Zverev and Stan Wawrinka before downing great rival Rafael Nadal in a five-set final classic.

  • It was alleged by the bank in its complaint that certain officials of the Bank fraudulently sanctioned and disbursed loans to private persons dealing in the business of Coal during the period from 2011 to 2016. It was alleged that the loans were sanctioned against inflated valuation of the collateral securities

    In another case, the CBI arrested three people for demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs. 1.80 lakh, allegedly on behalf of SDM Saraswati Vihar, from the owner of a club in Delhi's Pitampura, after his club, was sealed by the SDM.

     

  • South Korea had hoped that the Games which begin in Pyeongchang on February 9 could help ease the crisis on the peninsula plagued by months of rising tensions over the North's nuclear and missile and programme.

    In a surprise New Year's announcement, the leader of Stalinist North Korea Kim Jong-un said he was open to sending a delegation to Pyeongchang.

    Before this week's meeting at IOC headquarters in Lausanne, the two Koreas had already agreed on a set of momentous compromises, including delegations from both countries marching together at the opening ceremony and the formation of a unified women's hockey team.

    But the two Koreas still needed approval from the IOC, as the pact required the suspension of some basic Olympic rules.

    IOC president Thomas Bach gave that approval Saturday, announcing that 22 athletes had been cleared to compete in three sports and a total of five disciplines.

    Those include figure skating, short-track speed skating, cross-country skiing and Alpine skiing, as well as hockey, with the IOC having approved the entry of the joint team, despite concerns voiced by some hockey federations over fairness.  

    At the opening ceremony, the joint delegation "will be led into the Olympic stadium by the Korean unification flag" carried together by athlete from each country, the IOC said.

    A special unity uniform will be created for the event. No North Korean athlete had technically qualified for Pyeongchang, so Saturday's announcement required extending qualification deadlines in the sports concerned.

    -MILESTONE-

    "Today marks a milestone on a long journey," Bach said after the closed-door meeting with the leaders of the Olympic committees from both Koreas as well Pyeongchang 2018 organisers, and senior government officials from the two countries.

    "The Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang are hopefully opening the door to a brighter future on the Korean peninsula, and inviting the world to join in a celebration of hope," Bach said.

    North Korea has taken part in seven of the last 12 Winter Olympics, most recently in Vancouver 2010.

    But its presence in Pyeongchang -- just 80 kilometres (50 miles) south of the demilitarised zone that divides the Koreas -- is a significant diplomatic coup. 

    North and South Korea remain technically at war since the Korean war ended with armistice, not a peace treaty, in 1953.

    - UN SANCTIONS-

    North Korea will also send 24 officials and 21 media representatives to Pyeongchang, Bach said. 

    Seoul and the IOC will have to ensure that while accommodating the North and ensuring that the so-called "peace Olympics" pass off smoothly, they do not violate United Nations sanctions.

    Security Council measures currently prohibit cash transfers to the North, while the UN has also drawn up a blacklist of officials tied to the Stalinist Pyongyang regime, individuals whose presence at the Games will create potential stumbling blocks.

  • Workers from 1736 booths of Varanasi Lok Sabha are taking part in the programme with a minimum representation of 10 young workers from each booth.

    Addressing the programme, Amit Shah said that there is no place for communalism in the party.

     

  • Batting first, Pakistan amassed 308 runs, courtesy some useful contribution by Badar Munir (57), Riasat Khan (48) and captain Nisar Ali (47).

    Ramesh then led the run chase as India overhauled the target with eight balls to spare to retain the trophy that they had won in 2014 after beating the same opponents at Cape Town, South Africa.

    India struggled in the final stages of their run chase as Pakistan claimed three successive wickets to gain an upper hand over their arch-rivals.

    However, a wide delivery rolled on to the boundary and the pendulum swung back in India's favour.

    India had beaten Pakistan on January 13 in the group stage. The defending champions had beaten Bangladesh by seven wickets in the semi-final.

    Accolades poured in for the Indian team with Prime Minister Narendra Modi also congratulating the team for their achievement.

    "Congratulations to our cricket team for winning the 2018 Blind Cricket World Cup! They make the nation proud and inspire every Indian with their game as well as phenomenal attitude. True champions!," he wrote on his twitter handle.

    Veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh also heaped praise on the team. "What a win by #TeamIndia. Congratulations on winning #BlindCricketWorldCup," he wrote.

  • Over 100 women were selected after an extensive research process by the Women and Child Development Ministry.

    The women, who have been felicitated, are those who have been the first in any field like the first woman judge, first woman porter, first woman to head a missile project, first para-trooper and first Olympian.

     President Kovind advised the women achievers to contribute towards empowering rural women.

    On the occasion Minister of Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi said that women can do anything and women across all avenues can bring positive change in the society.

    Maneka Gandhi said that India has achieved a miracle in sex ratio after the launch of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao programme which was conceived by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

    A list of 227 women was compiled from various sources, including Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Sports, Limca Book of Records, press clippings, internet etc.To do the selection, Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, along with an esteemed panel of judges, finalised the names of 112 extraordinary women who busted stereotypes and broke the glass ceiling to become the Number One.

  • The results are consistent with prior research indicating that 100 percent fruit juice is not associated with an increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.

    A comprehensive data analysis quantitatively assessed the relationship between drinking 100 percent juice and blood glucose control.

    Using fasting blood glucose and fasting blood insulin levels as biomarkers for diabetes risk, the systematic review and meta-analysis included 18 randomised controlled trials (RCT) to evaluate the impact of 100 percent juice from fruits, such as apple, berry, citrus, grape, and pomegranate.

    Type 2 Diabetes is a metabolic disorder where the body is unable to respond to insulin.

    The first line of defense for preventing and treating Type 2 Diabetes is following a healthy lifestyle. Eating right, exercising regularly and staying at a healthy weight are encouraged.

    According to the research, published in the Journal of Nutritional Science, a 118 ml glass of 100 percent juice counts as one serving (1/2 cup) of fruit and can complement whole fruit to help individuals add more produce to their diets.

  • The North had initially planned to send a seven-member advance team headed by the leader of a popular all-female Western-style band for a two-day visit from Saturday to inspect venues for proposed performances in Seoul and the eastern city of Gangneung.

    Hyon Song-Wol, reportedly an ex-girlfriend of leader Kim Jong-Un, would be the first North Korean official to visit the South in four years. But Pyongyang said late Friday it had suspended the plan, giving no reason.

    “The North informed us that it will send the arts delegation on Sunday”, a day later than initially planned, the ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

    Hyon was the subject of lurid 2013 reports in the South that she and around a dozen other state musicians had been executed for appearing in porn movies. Pyongyang angrily denied the claims and Hyon later appeared on state television.

    The two Koreas have agreed to march together under a unification flag—a pale blue silhouette of the Korean peninsula—at the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics on February 9, and to form a unified women’s ice hockey team.

    But critics in the South have said a unified team would disrupt the side and deprive some Southern squad members of the chance to play on the Olympic stage. The conservative opposition Liberty Korea Party has strongly objected to the agreement, arguing the North is seeking to exploit the South’s Olympics for its own propaganda.

    “The Pyeongchang Olympics is becoming like a Pyongyang Olympics”, its leader Hong Jun-Pyo said on Friday.

    A Realmeter poll released Thursday showed only 40.5 percent of South Koreans supported the joint march under a unification flag.

    A larger share -- 49.4 percent—were in favour of the neighbours holding their own national flags.

    In 2015, the Moranbong Band led by Hyon cancelled a series of concerts in Beijing just hours before they were due on stage, reportedly because of disputes over stage backdrop footage showing a North Korean missile being launched.

  • The iconic black cabs are out once again carrying slogans "Free Balochistan from Human Rights Abuses" in attempt to highlight the worsening human rights situation in Balochistan, where the Pakistani military has been involved in gross human rights violations including enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings and torture.

    This comes two months after the government of Pakistan demanded that the British government and Transport for London remove “#FreeBalochistan ", "Stop Enforced disappearances" adverts from UK taxis.

    In response to Pakistan government's request, Transport for London within 24 hours had ordered the adverts to be pulled from taxis on the grounds that they violated its advertising policy but it had not stated how the policy had been violated.

    The WBO maintained that it had not violated any policy and vowed to challenge the decision. The WBO has also been running an advertising campaign in New York City where several billboards at the iconic Times Square displayed similar slogans during the New Years Eve celebrations.

    The billboards gained attention of the international media and millions watching the event from around the world.

  • Indian Ambassador to the UN Syed Akbaruddin told the Security Council it is India's vision that Afghanistan regain its place and New Delhi remain committed to work closely with its regional and international partners to bring peace, security, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan.

    "There is a common Afghan saying that roughly translates as "If water is muddied downstream, don't waste your time filtering it; better to go upstream to clean it," Akbaruddin said during a special ministerial meeting on Afghanistan.

    Underlining that support for voices of peace in Afghanistan alone is not enough, Akbaruddin said, "We must focus on addressing the challenges posed by cross border terrorism emanating from safe havens and sanctuaries to our region and especially to Afghanistan".

    "If we do so, the decay, which has been inflicted on Afghanistan, can be made reversible," he added.

    It is India's vision that Afghanistan regain its place and New Delhi remain committed to work closely with its regional and international partners to bring peace, security, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan.

    "It is with this in mind that our Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his visit to Afghanistan on December 24, 2015 to inaugurate the Parliament building, stopped over in Lahore, Pakistan," he said.

    "Unfortunately, these visits were followed by a heinous and barbaric terrorist attack on the Pathankot airbase on January 1, 2016, perpetrated and planned by the very same mindsets which attack the spirit of Afghanistan every day," he added.

    "These mind sets differentiate between good and bad terrorists. These mindsets refuse to see reason in peace. They are mindsets that are reluctant to join hands in moving the region forward to build a shared future for our people and our youth. These mindsets, Mr. President, need to change," Akbaruddin said. 

  • The Klotho proteins bind to a family of hormones, named as endocrine Fibroblast growth factors (FGFs), which regulate critical metabolic processes in the kidneys, liver, and brain, among other organs.

    The United States' Yale University researchers found that beta-Klotho is the primary receptor that binds to FGF21, a key hormone produced by starvation.

    The FGF21 hormone stimulates insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism, causing weight loss. This new understanding of beta-Klotho and FGF21 can guide the development of therapies for conditions such as type 2 diabetes in obese patients, the researchers stated.

    "Like insulin, FGF21 stimulates metabolism including glucose uptake," said Joseph Schlessinger, from Yale University.

    "In animals and in some clinical trials of FGF21, it shows that you can increase burning of calories without changing food intake, and we now understand how to improve the biological activity of FGF21," Schlessinger added.

    In the research, published in the journal Nature, the researchers also described a new variant of FGF21 that has 10 times higher potency and cellular action.

    By developing drugs that enhance the pathway, Schlessinger said, researchers can target diabetes and obesity.

    Conversely, using agents that block the pathway, they hope to explore therapies for conditions such as liver cancer and bone diseases, among others.

    "The next step will be to make better hormones, make new potent blockers, do animal studies, and move forward," Schlessinger asserted.

  • Indian Army retaliated strongly and effectively. However, in the exchange of fire, Sepoy Mandeep Singh was grievously injured and succumbed to his injuries. Nine persons have been killed so far in ceasefire violations over three days.

    Union Minister Jitendra Singh visited the affected areas and met with the injured at the hospital. He said that whatever Pakistan is doing is not hidden from anyone, but this time the kind of retaliating action Indian army has taken, has not been seen in decades.

    Deputy CM of Jammu and Kashmir said BSF, civil administration & police are working with synergy.

  • The change comes as the online giant seeks to address charges that it has failed—along with Google and Twitter—to prevent the spread of bogus news, most strikingly ahead of the 2016 US presidential election.

    In a Facebook post, co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said the network would seek to “prioritize news that is trustworthy, informative, and local.”

    “There’s too much sensationalism, misinformation and polarization in the world today,” Zuckerberg said. “Social media enables people to spread information faster than ever before, and if we don’t specifically tackle these problems, then we end up amplifying them.”

    The new “trusted sources” ranking, which starts next week, would aim to “make sure the news you see is high quality” and “helps build a sense of common ground” rather than sow division, Zuckerberg said. To do so, he said, Facebook decided to rely on member surveys as the most “objective” way to rank trust in news sources.

    “We could try to make that decision ourselves, but that’s not something we’re comfortable with,” Zuckerberg said. “We considered asking outside experts, which would take the decision out of our hands but would likely not solve the objectivity problem.”

    The new ranking system, he said, would hopefully separate news organizations that are only trusted by their readers or watchers, from ones that are broadly trusted across society.

    “This update will not change the amount of news you see on Facebook,” he said. “It will only shift the balance of news you see towards sources that are determined to be trusted by the community.”

    FRIENDS GET PRIORITY

    The latest move comes a week after Facebook announced a major update to its user feed that highlights what friends and family share on the network, over advertisements, celebrity and media posts.

    The company cast the change as part of a refocus on “community”—prioritizing social interactions and relationships—while acknowledging it would likely result in people spending less time on the platform.

    “For some time, we have argued that Facebook should give priority to news from trusted sources,” David Chavern, head of industry group News Media Alliance, said in a statement.

    “This would be positive for consumers, as well as help to address ‘fake news’ issues.”

    The group will watch how the Facebook ranking changes are implemented and whether they deliver on the social network’s stated goals, according to Chavern.

    “My hope is that this update about trusted news and last week’s update about meaningful interactions will help make time on Facebook time well spent,” Zuckerberg said.

    Known for annual personal goals ranging from killing his own food to learning Chinese, Zuckerberg’s stated mission for this year is to “fix” the social network.

    He plans to target abuse and hate, and interference by nation states.

    BREXIT VOTE

    Meanwhile, British lawmakers probing possible Russian interference in the Brexit referendum revealed this week that Facebook agreed to broaden its own  investigation into fake news around the vote, after the social media platform’s initial efforts drew criticism.

    The House of Commons’ Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee said Simon Milner, the tech titan’s head of policy in Britain, had vowed the company would now search for “clusters engaged in coordinated activity around the Brexit referendum” that appeared to have originated in Russia.

    Milner said it may take several weeks to produce results.

    The commitment follows demands from MPs for Facebook and Twitter to provide further information on alleged Russian social media meddling in the run-up to the June 2016 referendum.

    Executives from the platforms, as well as from Google, are due to give evidence to the parliamentary inquiry in February, when MPs will visit America for the occasion.

  • The unseeded Indians overcame the Brazilian-Briton team 7-6(3) 5-7 7-6(6) after battling hard for close to three hours.

    Left-handed Murray, world number 9 in doubles and Soares, number 10, were one of the most consistent performers in the 2017 season but it was Raja who stood out with his superlative net play.

    It was a tight contest from the beginning and after splitting the first two sets, the third set was locked 5-5 in the tie-breaker when Murray earned his side a match point on his second serve. Raja, though came serving extremely well to not only save that match point but also earned a match point for the Indians with excellent hands at the net.

    Soares served down a match point and Raja delivered a stunning backhand return winner to seal the issue. Paes and Raja, who won two Challenger level titles to close the 2017 season, are playing their second Grand Slam together.

    At the 2017 US Open, they fell in the second round. Now they will fight it out with Colombian 11th seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah for a place in the quarterfinals.

    The last time 44-year-old Paes played a quarterfinal at a Grand Slam was in 2016 at French Open where he and Marcin Matkowski had lost to Mike and Bob Bryan.

    Earlier, Divij Sharan equalled his best Grand Slam performance by reaching the men's doubles third round at the Australian Open, while Rohan Bopanna also entered the pre-quarterfinals with his partner.

    Sharan and American Ram faced stiff resistance from Fabio Fognini and Marcel Granollers before winning 4-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 in the second round which lasted for two hours and eight minutes.

    The left-handed Sharan's serve came under pressure in the tight second set but he was excellent at the net, producing some quality volleys.

    Last year Sharan had made the third round at the French Open with Purav Raja. He had also reched the US Open third round in 2013.

    Also making progress was the 10th seeded Indo-French team of Bopanna and Edouard Roger-Vasselin, who knocked out Portugal's Joao Sousa and Leonardo Mayer of Argentina 6-2 7-6 (3).

    They are now up against seventh seeds Mate Pavic of Croatia and Austria's Oliver Marach who edged out Artem Sitak and Wesley Koolhof 6-7 (5) 6-4 6-4.

  • "The importance of engaging local communities in fighting poaching, and of enhancing their alternative livelihoods, has now been widely recognised across various national, regional and global fora," said Bianca Notarbartolo of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

    "But such commitments have yet to be matched by enough effective implementation," Notarbartolo said.

    The UNEP's warning comes in the wake of the release last month by the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Traffic of a report reflecting the grim reality the negative impact of armed groups on wildlife in Central Africa region.

    As recently as 30-years-ago, thousands of elephants strode majestically across the wildlife conservation areas of Central Africa. Presently, their population has been decimated, according to the 2017 report.

    In the 1980s, the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Garamba National Park was home to 20,000 elephants, that number has dwindled to an estimated 1,100, which is 1,400 today.

    The circumstance appears even gloomier for the giraffes. In many African societies, the flywhisk, usually made from the animal's tail, is a symbol of authority. The flywhisk from the Kordofan giraffe is particularly prized, putting this species in danger from poachers and other armed groups. Consequently, only about 40 giraffes remain in the Garamba Park.

    Some of the armed non-State groups and militia operating in the restive region include Sudan's Janjaweed militia, Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army, Central African Republic's rival Anti-Balaka and Seleka fighters, as well as Sudan's People's Liberation-In Opposition and poachers, making conservation a dangerous undertaking.

    Chimpanzees have also not been spared from the onslaught. The population of eastern chimpanzees in eastern the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) has declined by 80 to 98 percent, mainly because of poaching for bushmeat, attributed to demand for protein, particularly intense around artisanal mining and logging camps.

    The dual effect of insufficient nutrition, coupled with mining pollution is likely to exacerbate the threat to the region's biodiversity, resulting in a downward spiral that could jeopardize future livelihoods of numerous local communities.

    In May 2016, UNEP and other UN partners launched the Wild For Life campaign, which has been raising awareness, promoting the enactment and enforcement of laws, and increasing support for efforts by local communities to halt the illegal trade in wildlife. Elephants and Rhinos are among the species targeted by the campaign.

    "Strengthening the role of local communities in wildlife management should be at the centre of any strategy to combat illegal trade in wildlife and to secure wildlife and biodiversity for the future," Notarbartolo stressed.

  • With the temperatures a manageable 26 Celsius (79 Farenheit) at Melbourne Park after two days of oven-like conditions, the Russian was no match for the German, flopping 6-1, 6-3 in a battle of the former champions.

    Fourth seed Alexander Zverev was another high-profile casualty on day six, beaten in five sets by South Korea’s Chung Hyeon to continue his miserable Grand Slam form.

    Sharapova and Kerber are both 30, former world number ones and the only two Australian Open winners left in the women’s draw, but there was only one player in it. Kerber is in scintillating form, having won the lead-up Sydney International, and will face either Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska or Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei for a place in the quarter-finals.

    For Sharapova, who is looking to rediscover her best on her way back from a 15-month drugs ban, it is back to the drawing board. The same can be said for Zverev, who has been hailed as the leader of the tennis new guard but has now failed to go beyond the fourth round in 11 Grand Slams.

    Halep earlier looked out for the count against 76th-ranked American Lauren Davis. But she finally got over the line 4-6, 6-4, 15-13 in a gruelling 3hr 44min epic in a contest that took its toll.

    Halep, a former quarter-finalist, will next play Naomi Osaka in her quest for a maiden Grand Slam title after the Japanese star beat Australia’s Ashleigh Barty.

    Sixth seed Karolina Pliskova also had a tough test, beating fellow Czech Lucie Safarova 7-6 (8/6), 7-5.

    BIG MOMENTS

    In contrast, US Open finalist Madison Keys was in fine touch as she benefits from the guidance of former great Lindsay Davenport.

    Flying under the radar, the 17th seed has surrendered just 16 games on her way to the fourth round after beating Romania’s Ana Bogdan 6-3, 6-4. She will next test herself against French eighth seed Caroline Garcia, who was too strong for Belarussian Alaksandra Sasnovich.

    Among men through was Austrian fifth seed Dominic Thiem who beat France’s Adrian Mannarino in straight sets, and veteran Tomas Berdych who saw off Juan Martin Del Potro.

    American Tennys Sandgren, who had never won a Grand Slam match before this year’s Australian Open, also progressed. Another Melbourne Park debutant Marton Fucsovics of Hungary is also enjoying his best ever Grand Slam, seeing off Argentine Nicolas Kicker.

    He could play Roger Federer next with the 19-time Grand Slam winner holding court in an evening match, as does Novak Djokovic.

    The two greats of the game—who have won 11 Australian Opens between them—could meet in the last four if they maintain their winning ways. The Swiss defending champion plays France’s Richard Gasquet while Djokovic takes on 21st seeded Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

  • India will play the final on Sunday against Belgium, who beat Japan 4-1.

    It was India’s young brigade Harmanpreet Singh (2), Dilpreet Singh (12) and Mandeep Singh (47) who scored after the team had suffered a 0-2 loss against Belgium in their previous match. India’s mantra was to play aggressive and that’s exactly what they did right from the start. Their first breakthrough came as early as the second minute of the match when a circle entry fetched them a PC created by Mandeep Singh.

    It was Harmanpreet Singh who stepped up for the drag flick and he was impeccable and fierce as he improvised the injection to flick the ball past New Zealand goal keeper Richard Joyce. The early goal undoubtedly put the Black Sticks on the backfoot.

    The next few minutes saw India hold their defence with Rupinder Pal Singh, who was rested for the match against Belgium, leading the charge of defenders as their man-to-man marking was spot on, not allowing New Zealand to make easy forays into India’s circle.

    India colt Dilpreet Singh, who had scored two goals in his first outing for the national side, was impressive when he picked up the assist to put the ball past the New Zealand goal post in the 21st minute, taking India’s lead to a comfortable 2-0.

    India held on to the lead with a well-rounded performance. Though India conceded a PC in the 42nd minute which was well-executed by New Zealand's Kane Russell, India didn’t drop their momentum and continued their attack swiftly and tactically.

    In the 47th minute, Mandeep Singh was excellent in the circle to score an impressive goal to earn India a 3-1 score- line.

  • Silver also climbed by Rs 50 to Rs 39,900 per kg on increased offtake by industrial units and coin makers.

    Traders said besides a firm trend overseas, pick-up in buying by local jewellers to meet wedding season demand at the domestic spot market, mainly led to the rise in gold prices.

    Globally, gold rose 0.32 percent to USD 1,330.60 announce and silver by 0.38 percent to USD 17.00 an ounce in New York in yesterday's trade supported by a weaker dollar.

    In the national capital, gold of 99.9 percent and 99.5 percent purity traded higher by Rs 20 each to Rs 30,850 and Rs 30,700 per 10 grams, respectively. The precious metal had lost Rs 270 over the last two days.

    Sovereign, however, remained unchanged at Rs 24,800 per piece of eight grams.

    In sync with gold, silver ready prices went higher by Rs 50 to Rs 39,900 per kg on the back of the pick-up in demand from consuming industries, while weekly-based delivery slipped Rs 120 to Rs 38,870 per kg.

    Silver coins, however, continued to be traded at the previous level of Rs 74,000 for buying and Rs 75,000 for selling of 100 pieces.  

  • 1) January 26 was earlier celebrated as India's Independence Day or Purna Swaraj Day, when the Declaration of Independence was officially promulgated in 1930

     

    2) However, in 1947, since August 15 became the official Independence Day, the Indian Constitution was adopted on this day in 1950, to mark the 1930 declaration

    3) The Assembly met for 166 days, spread over a period of 2 years, 11 months and 18 days before adopting the Constitution

    4) Dr BR Ambedkar – the then Chairman of the Constitution Committee – completed the first draft of India’s Constitution in about two years and 11 months

    5) Among other influences, five-year plans were taken from the Constitution of USSR and concepts of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity from the French Constitution

    6) India has the longest written Constitution in the world with 448 articles in 22 Parts, 12 Schedules and 97 Amendments

    7) There are two hand-written copies of the Constitution — in Hindi and in English which are kept in helium-filled cases in the Parliament’s library

    8) The original Constitution of India is hand-written with beautiful calligraphy, each page beautified and decorated by artists from Shantiniketan

    9) Illustrations on the cover and pages represent styles from different civilizations of the subcontinent, ranging from the prehistoric Mohenjodaro civilization to the present

    10) The calligraphy inside the book was done by Prem Behari Narain Raizda and published in Dehradun 

    11) Indonesia’s President Sukarno was the first chief guest at the R-Day celebrations held on 26 January, 1950

    12) On the same day, the first President of India, Dr Rajendra Prasad took oath at Durbar Hall

    13) India adopted the Lion Head from the Ashoka Pillar in Sarnath, on Republic Day in 1950

    14) During 1950–1954, the celebrations were organised at different venues, until Rajpath became the permanent location

    15) Republic Day celebrations span over 3 days and end with the Beating Retreat Ceremony on January 29

     

     

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    A team of doctors successfully performed robot-assisted partial nephrectomy (surgical removal of a part of the diseased kidney) on a patient suffering from renal cancer on Thursday.

    The urology department of the institute tops the list for performing the highest number of robotic surgeries (24) followed by the departments of surgical oncology and surgical gastroenterology with 10 surgeries each and the department of obstetrics and gynaecology with six surgeries.

    Soon, other departments including paediatric surgery, cardiac thoracic and vascular surgery and ENT (eyes, nose and throat) and head and neck surgery will start performing robotic surgery, said director, S C Parija.

    The institute charges Rs 30,000 for patients in general ward and Rs 50,000 for patients in the special ward for performing a robotic surgery. "The user charges are much less when compared to corporate hospitals where this facility will be charged roughly between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 3 lakh per procedure," Parija said.

    The maiden robot-assisted minimal access surgery was performed in JIPMER in July last year. 

  • The first happened on December 3, 2017. A supermoon is a full moon at its closest point to the Earth on its orbit – known as perigee.

    The January 31 full moon is special for three reasons:

    1) It’s the third in a series of ‘supermoons’

    2) About 14% brighter than usual 

    3) It’s the second full moon of the month, commonly known as a ‘blue moon’, which happens every two and a half years, on an average 

    The super blue moon will pass through earth’s shadow to give viewers in the right location a total lunar eclipse.

    While the moon is in the earth’s shadow it will take on a reddish tint, known as a ‘blood moon’, Gordon Johnston, programme executive and lunar blogger at NASA Headquarters in Washington, NASA said in a statement. It will feature a total lunar eclipse, with totality viewable from western North America across the Pacific to Eastern Asia.

    For those living in North America, Alaska, or Hawaii, the eclipse will be visible before sunrise on January 31.

    However, for those in the Middle East, Asia, eastern Russia, Australia and New Zealand, the ‘super blue blood moon’ can be seen during moonrise in the morning on the 31st.

    If you miss the January 31 lunar eclipse, you’ll have to wait almost another year for the next opportunity in North America. So, “set your alarm early and go out and take a look”, Johnston said.

    “I have always been fascinated by the night sky. Most of what we can see without a telescope are points of light, but the moon is close enough that we can see it and the features on it, and notice what changes and what stays the same each night,” he stated.

    December’s full moon, traditionally known as the ‘cold moon’, marked the first and only supermoon of 2017. It appeared about seven per cent larger and 15 per cent brighter.

  • India aims to showcase its potential as a driver of global economic growth, as well as its soft power, reflected in the popularity of yoga as well as its cuisine.

    Desi cuisine and yoga will mark the start of the five-day annual event in the snow-laden Swiss ski resort town of Davos. This is the first time India will host the welcome reception at the summit.

    Two yoga teachers from India will hold daily classes next week at the summit, which has attracted 70 heads of state and government, including US President Donald Trump as well as celebrities, chief executives and top bankers.

    "We will showcase India’s progress while also giving a taste of our exquisite cuisine and Indian culture and heritage,” Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) secretary Ramesh Abhishek said.

    PM Modi will be the first Indian Prime Minister to attend the WEF in 21 years, since when the economy has more than doubled to $2.3 trillion and become the world's seventh largest.

  • Strong winds carried dust from Syria and Iraq which turned the sky over Diyarbakir a shade of yellow, local media reported.

    According to Turkey's regional meteorological authorities, windy conditions and heavy dust reduced visibility and air quality in southeastern provinces of Diyarbakır, Şırnak, Mardin, Şanlıurfa and Batman.

    Dust clouds accompanied by muddy rain engulfed the area into darkness, even during the day. The weather is expected to continue into the evening.

    In Mardin province, which was the most affected from the storm, the differently-abled, unwell, and pregnant women in public offices were given a day's leave from work.

    Some flights were cancelled due to poor visibility cause by the dust clouds.

  • Shyam Prasad, an ITI student, was going to his house at Koothuparamba on his motorcycle when the unidentified gang came in a car and attacked him at Kommeri Friday evening.

    Though locals rushed him to the government hospital at Koothuparamba, he died on the way. 

    No arrests have been made in connection with the incident. Meanwhile, ABVP alleged that Popular Front of India was behind the killing and demanded that the outfit be banned.

    BJP has called for a dawn to dusk hartal in Kannur distrtict from 6 am to 6 pm on Saturday (January 20).

  • Military will still go to work, the border will still be patrolled, fire folks will be fighting the fires and the parks will be open. But in each of these cases people will not be paid, Director of Office of Management of Budget Mick Mulvaney said.

    The shutdown began at 12:01 am (local time) after a few Republicans joined Democrats in blocking the crucial measure would have provided short-term funding for the Pentagon and other federal agencies.

    Trump blamed the Democrats for the shutdown which comes exactly a year after he was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.

    "Dems want a shutdown in order to help diminish the great success of the tax cuts, and what they are doing for our booming economy," he said. "This is the one year anniversary of my presidency and the Democrats wanted to give me a nice present," Trump said.

    "DemocratShutdown. Democrats are holding our military hostage over their desire to have unchecked illegal immigration. Can't let that happen!" he said in another tweet indicating that he has toughened his position against the Opposition Democratic party.

    "For those asking, the Republicans only have 51 votes in the Senate, and they need 60. That is why we need to win more Republicans in 2018 election! We can then be even tougher on crime (and border), and even better to our military and veterans!" Trump said.

    Despite last minute bipartisan meetings, the bill to fund the government until February 16 did not receive the required 60 votes. The Senate voted 50-48 to block the stopgap funding measure.

    While the Republcian party enjoys a majority of 51 votes in the 100-member Senate, a procedural issue that requires 60 votes for legislations to move forward prevented the shirt- term spending bill pass through the Senate.

    The short-term spending bill was passed by the House on Thursday. This is part of the Democrats strategy to force President Trump and the Republicans to negotiate with them on illegal immigrants who are facing deportation.

    The effect of the shutdown would be felt most from Monday when the federal government employees would not be able to join for their work and be forced to stay at home without pay.

    It is estimated that more than 800,000 federal employees would be furloughed. Only the essential services would be open. The last time that a government shutdown happened was in 2013.

    The White House said it has taken measures so that there is less impact of the government shutdown, but hundreds and thousands of federal government employees are now forced to stay at home till the time the Congress passes the short-term spending bill. For this to happen, the Republican, the Democrats and the White House need to agree on a deal.

    US Vice President Mike Pence, who is on a trip to the Middle East, said that his administration worked in good faith to put a bipartisan deal on the table that would strengthen our borders, end chain migration, eliminate the visa lottery, and deal compassionately with DACA.

    "But rather than solve problems, Democratic leadership preferred a shutdown that has dangerous consequences for our national defence. Their action tonight or lack thereof is unconscionable," he said.

    "Our administration will do everything within our power to support the brave men and women in uniform who stand on the frontlines of freedom. But as of tonight, due to a completely avoidable government shutdown, they'll stand their post without pay," Pence said.

    But the Democrats blamed Trump for the shutdown. "Tonight, on the eve of the first anniversary of his inauguration, President Trump earned an 'F' for failure in leadership," said Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

    "President Trump and Congressional Republicans' obsession with passing a tax scam to benefit the wealthiest and corporations has blinded them to their responsibilities to the American people.

    "Despite controlling the House, Senate and White House, the Republicans are so incompetent, so negligent that they couldn't get it together to keep government open," she said.

    In a memorandum to the Department of Defence, Defence Secretary Jim Mattis reassured the nation of taking all necessary steps to protect the nation during the time of government shutdown.

    The White House said that the military will be working without pay.

    "We will continue to execute daily operations around the world - ships and submarines will remain at sea, our aircraft will continue to fly and our warfighters will continue to pursue terrorists throughout the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. "While training for reservists must be curtailed, active forces will stay at their posts adapting their training to achieve the least negative impact on our readiness to fight, Mattis said.

    "I recognize the consequences of a government shutdown. You have my personal commitment that the Department's leadership will do our best to mitigate the impacts of the disruptions and any financial burdens to you and your families," Mattis said.

    Earlier, the Office of Management of Budget said it was preparing for "what we're calling the Schumer Shutdown".

    Mulvaney said that Fanny and Freddy will be open, the post office will be open, the TSA will be open, but again all of these people will be working for nothing, which is simply not fair, he said.

    The last government shutdown lasted for 16 days in October 2013. The previous shutdown before that was for 21 days that ended on January 6, 1996.

    However, this is for the first time in recent history that a shutdown has taken place when both the House and the Senate and the White House is controlled by the same party.

    Trump has cancelled his scheduled weekend trip to Mar-a- Lago in Florida. However, he would continue with his trip to Davos to attend the World Economic Forum meeting next week.

    "Democrats can't shut down the booming Trump economy. Are they now so desperate they'll shut down the government instead?" said White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and described it as a "Schumer shutdown".

    Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer is the Senate Minority Leader.

  • PM Modi will encapsulate making of 'a new, young and innovative India' in his address.

    He will be accompanied by several ministers and business leaders.  The theme of the WEF Annual Meeting this year is 'Creating a shared future in a fractured world'.

    On 22 January, PM Modi will have a bilateral meeting with Swiss President Berset. PM is expected to have other bilaterals and pull aside meetings including with global CEOs. 

    This will be the first time that India will host the welcome reception, where yoga will also be showcased along with cuisine from across the country. 

    As many as six union ministers, two chief ministers, over 100 CEOs and several other high-profile attendees from India will be are a part of the India contingent at WEF.

    Adding star power, Hindi film actor Shahrukh Khan will talk about creating a change in India through women empowerment.  

    Apart from PM Modi and President Donald Trump, UK's Theresa May, Canada's Justin Trudeau, France's Emmanuel Macron, Brazil's Michel Temer and Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu are among the several heads of nations who will be participating in gathering.

    Earlier this month Klaus Schwab the founder and Chairman of WEF described India as an image of optimism and promise. He also hailed PM Modi's 'Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas' approach. 

    He said India's unique demographic dividend, rising tide of entrepreneurial spirit, breakthrough innovations across sectors, and remarkable pace of bold and structural reforms have boosted the macroeconomic fundamentals and enhanced the country's long-term economic outlook.

    Schwab said India will soon become a force to be reckoned with and will have a great role and influence in shaping a common future.  

    WEF 2018 will also see the largest proportion of women leaders till now, including all co-chairs being women this time. 

     

     

  • In an interview to a private TV channel, he said that India is the world's biggest financial forum and  the world economy is focussed on India. 

    Stating that India's economy is growing rapidly and it has been recognised by the world, including all rating agencies, PM Modi said Davos is a "good opportunity" for the country as it is a big market with the strength of demographic dividend.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that that his government's focus will remain on development and that will be the only agenda for the Budget. PM also said that the quality of life and the benefits of economic development have started reaching the downtrodden and the weaker sections of the society.

    Quality of life, he said, is slowly improving and more spending power has created a huge market of more than a billion. 

    The Prime Minister said his government's achievements can't be measured based on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and demonetisation and the achievements are far and wide that have impacted the economy as a whole. 

    The PM also supported the pitch for simultaneous general and assembly elections in the country, adding that the repeated and scattered elections are a huge drain on the economy of the nation. When asked about criticism whenever GDP growth slows, PM Modi said it is a good thing since the country's focus has shifted towards economy and growth and added that criticism should not be seen as bad and this is the strength of democracy.

    He added that he will feel proud to tell the success story of 125 crore Indians in Davos. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that the world has finally started to take note of India and its immense potential as a market.

    He said that India as a market is an attraction destination for global companies and world now wants to engage directly with India.

    Stating that India's economy is growing rapidly and it has been recognised by the world, including all rating agencies, PM Modi said Davos is a "good opportunity" for the country as it is a big market with the strength of demographic dividend.

     

  • After dismissing Zimbabwe for 154, with left-arm spinner Anukul Roy picking up 4/20, openers Shubman Gill and Harvik Desai chased down the target in 21.4 overs and ensured India went to quarterfinal undefeated. 

    On a bright and sunny day, Zimbabwe captain Liam Roche no hesitation to bat first after winning the toss but as it turned out, their batsmen found the Indian bowling line-up, once again led by the fast bowling duo ShivamMavi and KamleshNagarkoti, tough to overcomes.

    The scoring rate always remained a concern for Zimbabwe. Three of their batsmen - Wesley Madhavere, Milton Shumba and captain Roche - got into the 30s but none could capitalise.

    Every time a partnership looked like getting threatening, the Indian bowlers struck. Zimbabwe batsmen seemed clueless against left-arm spinners Anukul Roy who picked up 4 wickets, and Abhishek Sharma and folded up for 154 in 48.1 overs. They were 110 for three at one stage but lost their last seven wickets for 44 runs.

    India tried a new opening combination in Shubman Gill and Harvik Desai and the move worked wonders. Desai played the perfect second-fiddle role while Gill motored along.

    In all three games, India have lost just seven wickets and have taken all 30 in the tournament so far, which bodes well for the Rahul Dravid-coached side ahead of the knockouts.

    Gill and Desai remained unbeaten on 90 and 56 respectively as the former finished the match in style with a boundary down the ground. This was Gill's second half-century of the tournament, an effort for which he was named Man of the Match.