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Winter session of Parliament likely to have a heated start over demonetisation programme

Government on 15 November braced itself for a stormy Winter Session of Parliament beginning from 16 November with the opposition presenting a united face in seeking to corner it over the demonetisation issue calling it a "currency scam" that needs to be probed.

The opposition also has a string of other issues like the surgical strikes across LoC, the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, OROP and the plight of farmers to rake up during the session that will last a month. A demand for constitution of a JPC to go into the demonetisation is also on the opposition agenda.

Ahead of the session, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met opposition leaders and sought their cooperation in the fight against black money and corruption for which, he said, the demonetisation exercise was undertaken.

In his concluding remarks at an all-party meeting on the eve of the Winter Session, PM Modi spoke in support of simultaneous Lok Sabha and state assembly polls. He pitched for state-funding of elections and asked parties to debate the issue.

Paul Ryan nominated as speaker winning his GOP colleagues' votes unanimously

Speaker Paul Ryan unanimously won his GOP colleagues' votes on 16 November for another term at the helm of the House. He told fellow Republicans he had President-elect Donald Trump's support, and heralded "the dawn of a new, unified Republican government."

"It feels really good to say that actually," Ryan told reporters. "This will be a government focused on turning President-elect Trump's victory into real progress for the American people."

While victory was the GOP unifier, Democrats were verging on disarray. House Democrats abruptly announced today that they were delaying their own leadership elections set for 17 November until November 30 to give lawmakers more time to process disastrous election results.

It's not clear whether the election delay might morph into a real challenge to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. She has led House Democrats for more than 12 years and has consolidated support with strong fundraising and an ability to deliver votes, but there's long been grumbling from Democrats who say new leadership is needed at the top.

I'm not like Modi, won't comment on his mother: Rahul Gandhi

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi on demonetisation saying that the move has led to massive inconvenience for the common people. He termed the scrapping of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes as a scam.

In the wake of cash-crunch, PM Modi's mother Hiraben went to a bank in Gandhinagar on 15 November to get her cash exchanged. While other Congress leaders openly condemned PM Modi for letting his mother stand in a queue, Rahul Gandhi told reporters that, "I'm not like Modi, I won't comment on his mother."

Congress on Tuesday had targeted PM Modi after his mother visited a bank, saying "no good son" would ever want this.

Delhi pollution: LG says trucks will enter city only after midnight till 31 Jan

As part of measures to curb air pollution in the capital, Lt Governor Najeeb Jung ordered that trucks coming from other states will be allowed to enter Delhi only after midnight till 31 January next year.

Although the LG has lifted a ban on construction and demolition activity imposed last week, the ban on firecrackers and diesel generating sets will continue in the city.

Jung held a review meeting on condition of air pollution which was attended by PWD minister Satyendar Jain, Environment minister Imran Hussain and others. The last meeting had been chaired by him on November 7 where LG had ordered to de-register diesel vehicles older than 15 years.

"The LG has ordered Transport Department to allow entry of trucks in Delhi only after midnight till 31 January, 2017 to bring down air pollution level," an official said.

Google fights fake news

Fake news sites not welcome -- that's the message that Google is sending out.

The internet search giant has decided to stop websites that promote fake news from accessing Google Ads revenue. This could cut off vital earnings for these sites and discourage their operations.

The move comes in response to criticism the tech industry has faced for not doing enough to curb the fake news menace during the 2016 US election.

Many feel that the virality of fake news was gamed by the right wing to unfairly influence the election.

Mars mega-drought made red planet what it is today

New research published in the science journal Nature Communications has thrown up startling findings about what Mars was once like.

Analysis of Mars meteors by NASA's Opportunity rover, which has been exploring the surface of the rocky red planet for 12 years, has shown that Mars was once home to a thriving, water-abundant environment. However, this was some 3 billion years ago.

The findings were confirmed by rust found on iron-rich meteors. Unlike on Earth, where rust forms readily, the same process takes millions of years on Mars.

However, scientists are still stumped as to how Mars came to be this dry with the surface of the planet drier than the driest places on Earth even as small pockets of moisture possibly exist beneath the surface.

Indian transpeople feel underrepresented in 'Rights of Transgender Persons Bill'

The much talked about Transgender Persons Bill that is to be introduced in the Lok Sabha is currently pending before the Standing Committee.

Although it finally recognises transpeople in India, the clauses in the Bill are "problematic" claims a press release put together but the trans and Hijra community.

"Without consulting the traditional hijra and transgender community networks, but having only consulted a few NGOs and organizations that claim to represent hijras and transgender people, this bill has been drafted and presented in the Lok Sabha," the press release reads.

Shift to renewables not fast enough to counter climate change

With Donald Trump making all the wrong noises when it comes to climate change, a new report is adding to the gloom with its findings.At the COP 22 conference in Marrakesh, Morocco, the Climate Change Performance Index 2017 showed that no country among the 50 that account for 90% of global emissions was shifting to renewables fast enough to meet the 2 degree target that's imperative to curb global warming."The necessary energy revolution is still happening too slowly," stated the report.While France was at the top of the index, followed by Sweden and Britain, Australia, Japan and Canada found themselves at the bottom of the barrel.

Shift to renewables not fast enough to counter climate change