Facebook blocks news content in Australia as it blasts proposed law
Facebook Inc will block news content from being read and shared in its news feed in Australia, drawing a line in the sand against a proposed Australian law that would require it and Alphabet Incâ€™s Google to pay the country's news publishers for content.
The move, announced in a blog post on Wednesday, represents a divergence in responses among the big tech giants under attack by news publishers, which have blamed the companies for destroying their advertising business.
The Australian federal government has said it plans to put the legislation, which effectively force Google and Facebook to strike deals with media companies or have fees set for them, to a vote in the coming weeks.
Google has also threatened to shut down its search engine in the country to avoid "unworkable" content laws even as it has secured deals with publishers in the U.K., Germany, France, Brazil and Argentina for its Google News Showcase product.
On Wednesday, Google reached a landmark global deal with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, owner of the Wall Street Journal and two-thirds of Australia's major city newspapers, to develop a subscription platform and share advertising revenue.
Facebook said the proposed legislation "fundamentally misunderstands" the relationship between itself and publishers, arguing that news outlets voluntarily post their article links on Facebook, which helped Australian publishers earn about AU$407 million in 2020 through referrals.
Does Modi govt still believe farm laws are popular, asks Chidambaram after Cong win in Punjab
After the Congress's victory in Punjab municipal elections, senior party leader P Chidambaram on Wednesday asked whether the Modi government still believed that farm laws are popular and only a small section of farmers of Punjab are protesting against them.
"The farmers are voters. So are migrant workers, MSMEs, the unemployed and the very poor families. When it is their turn, they will vote against the BJP like the Punjab voters.
"Does the Modi government still believe that the farm laws are popular and only a small 'section' of farmers of Punjab are protesting against them," he asked on Twitter.
"The MEA is fast losing credibility by becoming the Ministry of Extraordinary Apologists for the government's wrong domestic policies," he also said.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also said that the anger brewing in Punjab has given a befitting reply to the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Bengal labour minister injured after unknown persons hurled crude bombs, hospitalised
West Bengal Labour Minister (MoS) Jakir Hossain injured after unidentified persons hurled crude bombs at him while he was walking towards Nimtita station to board train for Kolkata. He has been taken to a hospital, according to ANI.
Congress sweeps Punjab civic polls, boost for Amarinder
The ruling Congress on Wednesday swept the urban body polls in Punjab, winning six municipal corporations, emerging as the largest party in the seventh and bagging most of the 109 municipal council and nagar panchayats, according to PTI. The Congress won Bathinda, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala, Abohar, Batala and Pathankot corporations in the civic polls on February 7, held against the backdrop of the farmers' agitation over the new agri-marketing laws.
In Moga, the party has fallen short by just six seats to get a majority in the municipal corporation. The opposition was routed also in the simultaneous polls for 109 municipal council and nagar panchayats. Out of the 1,817 wards at that level, the Congress won 1,102. The SAD won 252, the AAP 51, the BJP 29 and the Bahujan Samaj Party 5. Independents got 374, as per PTI.
Mohali too went to the polls but the counting for that corporation will take place Thursday, delayed because of a repoll at two booths. The outcome comes as a boost to the Congress, which has been backing the protest by farmers a majority of them from Punjab and Haryana against the BJP-led government.
PM Modi to address Visva-Bharati university convocation on Friday
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the convocation of the Visva-Bharati University on Friday via video conferencing, the Prime Minister's Office said.
West Bengal Governor and Rector of Visva-Bharati Jagdeep Dhankhar, Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank and Union MoS for Education Sanjay Dhotre will also be present on the occasion. Prime Minister Modi will address the convocation of Visva-Bharati on February 19 at 11 AM via video conferencing, the PMO said in a statement. Read more
Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, in hospital
Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, has been admitted to hospital after feeling unwell, Buckingham Palace said on Wednesday, according to a PTI copy. The 99-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth II was taken to King Edward VII Hospital in London on the advice of his doctor as a precautionary measure. His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh was admitted to the King Edward VII hospital in London, on Tuesday evening, the palace statement said, as per PTI.
The duke's admission is a precautionary measure, on the advice of His Royal Highness's doctor, after feeling unwell. The duke is expected to remain in hospital for a few days of observation and rest, the statement added as per PTI. The Duke, who has been at Windsor Castle with the 94-year-old monarch for the coronavirus lockdown period, travelled by car to the hospital in London and is said to have walked into the hospital unaided. The Queen remains at Windsor Castle.
India is directly sending vaccines to friends and partners: EAM Dr S Jaishankar
India is directly sending vaccines to friends and partners. Starting with our immediate neighbours, 25 nations across the world have already received 'Made in India' vaccines. 49 more countries will be supplied in the coming days: EAM Dr S Jaishankar
Stop 'Vaccine nationalism'; indeed, actively encourage internationalism: Jaishankar at UNSC
Stop 'Vaccine nationalism'; indeed, actively encourage internationalism: Dr S Jaishankar at UNSC
Kings XI Punjab renamed as Punjab Kings ahead of IPL 2021 auction
Kings XI Punjab was on Wednesday renamed as Punjab Kings ahead of the 2021 IPL auction on Thursday in Chennai. The news agency PTI had reported of the name change on February 15. A new logo was also unveiled on Wednesday.
Speaking about the new brand identity, team CEO Satish Menon said: "Punjab Kings is a more evolved brand name, and we understand it was a right time for us to move focus on the core brand itself."
"The change in brand identity is not about changing our brand ethos but celebrating our one-ness as we stand in unit like a family. The new logo honors the liveliness and vibrancy of the brand and provides modern elements, while we stand out from rest of the teams." READ MORE...
Petrol at Rs 100: India asks OPEC to ease output cuts
India, the world's third-biggest oil consumer, on Wednesday urged Saudi Arabia and other global oil producers to ease production cuts, saying rising international oil prices are hurting economic recovery and demand, according to a PTI report. Demand recovery should take "primacy" over oil prices at least for the next few months, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said.
International oil prices have been on the boil since Saudi Arabia pledged additional voluntary output cuts of 1 million barrels per day in February and March under a deal between the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies including Russia, a group known as OPEC+. This has resulted in oil prices rising to $63 per barrel, the highest level in more than a year, leading to retail pump rates in India breaching the Rs 100 a litre mark.
Air 'very poor' across Ghaziabad, Noida, Faridabad, Gurgaon for third day
The average air quality across Ghaziabad, Noida, Greater Noida, Fridabad and Gurgaon was recorded "very poor", which may cause respiratory illness to people on prolonged exposure, for a third day in a row, according to data issued by a government agency on Wednesday.
Pollutants PM 2.5 and PM 10 also remained in the air of the five immediate neighbours of Delhi, according to the air quality index (AQI) maintained by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
According to the index, an AQI between zero and 50 is considered 'good', 51 and 100 'satisfactory', 101 and 200 'moderate', 201 and 300 'poor', 301 and 400 'very poor', and 401 and 500 'severe'. READ ON...
Over 80% polling in third phase of elections to gram panchayats in Andhra Pradesh
Over 80 per cent polling was reported in the third phase of elections to gram panchayats in Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday, which witnessed stray incidents of skirmishes between the ruling YSR Congress and the opposition Telugu Desam Party at some places. An assistant presiding officer died of heart attack while on poll duty in East Godavari district, PTI reported.
Panchayat Raj Commissioner M Girija Shankar said the East Godavari district Collector has been asked to send a report on the APO's death, based on which ex-gratia would be paid to the deceaseds family. The Commissioner said 80.71 per cent of 55.75 lakh voters exercised their franchise in all 13 districts in the state.
Vizianagaram reported the highest 87.09 per cent polling while Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy's native Kadapa district was at the bottom with 72.85 per cent. Counting of votes was continuing when reports last came in and the final results are expected only after midnight, sources in the State Election Commission said.
Bus driver involved in Sidhi accident arrested
The Sidhi police on Wednesday arrested the bus driver in connection with the Sidhi bus accident, informed an official statement. "The driver of the bus was arrested by the Satna police. He was brought to Sidhi after the arrest," said DharamVir Singh Yadav, Superintendent of Police, Satna.
At least 50 people have died in the accident, as per a statement by the Sidhi District Magistrate on Wednesday morning. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Wednesday met family members of the deceased.
On Tuesday, Chouhan announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh for the kin of people who died in the bus accident in Sidhi. Out of this Rs 10,000 each has been given to them immediately. Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each for kin of those who lost their lives in the accident and Rs 50,000 to those seriously injured. The bus going from Sidhi to Satna, carrying around 57 passengers, fell into a canal in Sidhi after the driver lost control over it.
Cabinet okays trade deal with Mauritius, the first with an African nation
The Cabinet has approved the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation and Partnership Agreement (CECPA) between India and Mauritius to encourage and improve trade between the two countries.
The Agreement is a limited agreement, which will cover trade in goods, rules of origin, trade in services, technical barriers to trade (TBT), sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures, dispute settlement, movement of persons, telecom, financial services, customs procedures and cooperation in other areas. The CECPA will be the first trade agreement to be signed by India with a country in Africa, information and broadcasting minister Prakash Javdekar said. READ ON...
Congress sweeps municipal corporation polls in Punjab
The ruling Congress won six municipal corporations and emerged as the largest party in the seventh, sweeping the urban body polls in Punjab on Wednesday. The Congress won in Bathinda, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala, Abohar, Batala and Pathankot, in the civic polls held against the backdrop of the farmers' agitation. In Moga, it needed victories in six more wards to control the municipal corporation, PTI reported on Wednesday.
The counting for another municipal corporation will take place Thursday. In addition, results for 109 municipal corporations are also expected. The outcome comes as a boost for the Congress, which has been backing the protest by farmers a majority of them from Punjab and Haryana against the BJP-led government at the Centre.
The Congress is also eyeing a win in the Assembly elections, which are just a year away. Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar said people have rejected the negative politics of parties like the BJP, SAD and AAP.
SC allows Centre to file response to letter linking Chardham project and Uttarakhand disaster
The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the Centre to respond to the "allegations" of the Chairman of committee on Chardham project linking broadening of the road to the recent flash floods on Dhauliganga river, which damaged Tapovan hydro project in Uttarakahnd, PTI reported.
Attorney General K K Venugopal told the apex court that he would file response to a letter of the chairman of a high-powered committee in which several "allegations" have been made with regard to broadening of the road and the recent disaster in the state.
The high-powered committee is monitoring the Chardham highway project on the widening of the roads up to Indo-China border in Uttarakhand. Venugopal said that the high powered committee chairperson Ravi Chopra has on his own written a letter to the government linking the disaster with the Chardham project.
India approves $1.68 billion plan to boost telecoms gear production
India's cabinet on Wednesday approved a 121.95 billion rupee ($1.68 billion) plan to incentivise local telecoms gear manufacturing over five years, a minister said.
The scheme is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's push to boost electronics manufacturing in India and to create jobs.