Sonia, Rahul must face trial in National Herald case: SC
A two-judge Supreme Court bench said on Friday that it found "no justification" for quashing criminal proceedings against Sonia and Rahul Gandhi in the case filed against them by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy. However, the bench said, given the position the Gandhis occupy, it will not be necessary for them to appear before the Delhi magistrate in person. Swamy had charged Sonia and Rahul Gandhi with cheating, criminal breach of trust, criminal conspiracy and misappropriation of funds in an issue relating to property owned by the National Herald group of newspapers in Lucknow.
Indians too tolerant of intolerance: Amartya Sen
Addressing an audience at India International Centre, Delhi, on Friday, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen said that "The problem is not that Indians have been intolerant, it is that we have been much too tolerant of intolerance." He continued: "And so I am arguing that this has to end.... We must be more intolerant of intolerance. That is not happening adequately right now, or even earlier. We should no longer tolerate an intolerance that undermines democracy and allows a culture of impunity and tormentors." Sen had been invited to deliver the Rajendra Mathur Memorial lecture organised by the Editors' Guild of India.
Manmohan Singh advises Modi to engage with the Congress
In his first interview since he stepped down as India's prime minister in 2014, Manmohan Singh told the magazine India Today that Prime Minister Modi needs to improve his relations with the Congress party to break the logjam over the GST bill, reports the Hindustan Times. Singh said: "I have had the opportunity to talk to the PM once or twice and I have told him that he has to reach out to the Opposition much more effectively than has been the case. There has been no serious discussion with the Congress, whether it is on foreign policy or domestic policy, and even on the GST."
Modi, Kejriwal to clash in Varanasi again
Just as they did during the general elections of 2014, Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal will clash in Varanasi on 22 February this year when the two of them attend the celebrations of the birth anniversary of Dalit saint Ravidas, reports The Economic Times. The issue this time is just as political: Delhi chief minister Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party is contesting the 2017 Punjab assembly polls as, of course, is the BJP. And the celebrations around the saint will see the attendance of more than five lakh followers, most of whom are from Punjab.
Bihar BJP threatens stir after party leader murdered
Bhojpur leader and vice president of the BJP Bihar unit Visheshwar Ojha, 53, was shot dead on Friday at 6.30 pm at Sonbarsha village in Ara, reports The Indian Express. His assailants opened fire as Ojha entered his car after meeting a relative at a marketplace. The state police said he had faced "more than a dozen bullets from sophisticated weapons". Outraged, the BJP called the murder a "political killing" and threatened a statewide stir if Ojha's assailants were not arrested within 72 hours. Nand Kishore Yadav, former BJP opposition leader in the assembly, said "political killings had increased under the Grand Alliance government".
SC to apply constitutional parameters to Sabarimala issue
A Supreme Court bench said on Friday that it would decide the issue of allowing women of menstrual age to worship at the Sabarimala temple in Kerala on the basis of constitutional parameters that mandate the court to balance two fundamental rights: the right to practice any religion with the right to equality, reports The Economic Times. Though the bench refused to stay the high court order that allows the temple to keep out women, it admonished the state government for changing its earlier stand that women should be allowed in the temple, and wondered whether women were discriminated against under Hindu Dharma.
Ex-Army officers threaten to return JNU degrees, write letter
Former Army officers have reportedly threatened to return their JNU degrees citing 'anti-national activities' on university campus. This, of course, includes the celebration of Afzal Guru day.
They apparently "find it difficult" to be associated with an institution that has become a "hub of anti-national activities", ANI reports. In a letter addressed to JNU's vice-chancellor Jagdeesh Kumar, the ex-armymen wrote, "We would be constrained to return our degrees if such activities are allowed to be conducted inside the university."
French PM Valls warns of 'large-scale attacks' in Europe
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Saturday has warned of major attacks in Europe, terming them a high possibility. He was speaking at the Munich Security Conference alongside Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
"We must be fully conscious of the threat, and react with a very great force and great lucidity. There will be attacks. Large-scale attacks. It's a certainty. This hyper-terrorism is here to stay," Valls said.
France faced a major terror attack in November 2015 that claimed 130 lives.
Facebook's Free Basics is no more in India
Just three days after Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's ruling on net neutrality and banning zero-rating services, Facebook's Free Basics service is no longer available in India. "Free Basics is no longer available to people in India," confirmed Facebook to various media outlets on Thursday, 11 February.
Earlier, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, had expressed disappointment over the decision but vowed to continue with the company's efforts to provide free internet connectivity to those who aren't online as of yet. Zuckerberg stressed upon the "making a billion online" phrase.
Meanwhile, TRAI's historic decision on banning Zero Rating programs has been widely hailed by internet activists and politicians and even the media world over.
Grass is the answer to ultra thin condoms
Coastal grass can help make thinner condoms. A group of researchers at the University of Queensland have made this unique discovery in their efforts to make the rubber thinner by the micron. They have found out that a component of spinifex, a coastal grass common in Australia and the Middle East can help in reducing the thickness of condoms. How? By adding nanocellulose that's produced by spinifex to rubber. Condoms manufactured thus will be able to withstand up to 20 percent more pressure and can expand about 40 percent more than regular condoms.
Germans clock the perfect time
German engineering has set the bar higher once more. Physicists in Germany have developed the most precise timepiece ever in the world. It's being called an optical single-ion clock - a new atomic clock that records time on the basis of movements of ytterbium ions. The superaccurate clock works by measuring the vibrational frequency of the ytterbium ions as they oscillate a staggering trillions times per second between two different energy levels.
Wife of senior Islamic State leader charged with US aid worker's death
The wife of a senior IS leader has been charged in the US in connection with the death of US hostage Kayla Mueller. Nisreen Assad Ibrahim Bahar, 25, an Iraqi citizen who was formerly married to Abu Sayyaf - a Tunisian IS commander who was killed in May last year - has been charged for her role in a conspiracy that led to Ms Mueller's death, the Guardian has reported.
The 26-year-old aid worker was kidnapped and tortured by the terror group for two years before being killed in a Jordanian air strike in February 2015. Ms Mueller was captured by Isis when she travelled with a friend to Aleppo in August 2013 to help refugees.
She was reportedly repeatedly raped by IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who kept her and several other women as his "private property" at a house owned by Sayyaf.
Drones to turn rescuers in the wild
Rescuing people from air crashes, particularly in remote regions in the wild, can become a lot easier if a bunch of Swiss scientists have their way. Swiss researchers from the Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence and the University of Zurich, have developed an artificial intelligence (AI) software that can train drones to recognise and follow forest trails, thus helping rescue operations for those lost amdist difficult terrain. These drones observe the environment via a pair of tiny cameras. The images registered are then processed by powerful and intuitive AI algorithms that look out for any possible man-made trails. Once any such trail is detected, the software steers the drone in the relevant direction.
EU issues deadline to Athens in attempts to stem migration
Athens has been given a one month deadline by European Union authorities to scale up living conditions for asylum seekers. This move is seen as aimed to send more refugees back to Greece, part of EU's efforts to handle one of the biggest refugee crisis since the second world war. A set of instructions have been issued to Athens that include making improvements in living conditions and restructuring judicial procedures to ensure refugees also have a right to appeal if they wish. Greece prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, however has warned against such a massive influx of refugees saying his country, which is reeling under high unemployment rates & austerity measures, may not be able to handle it.