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Today's Hot Stories - January 04, 2013

10 Headlines for Today

(1) Italian Marines return
(2) Delhi shivers as temperature dips to 2.7°C 1
(3) Chavez fighting severe lung infection
(4) Indian tea export earnings drop on lower volumes
(5) Panel set up to suggest steps for Air India turnaround
(6) Nestle wins trademark battle over KitKat bar
(7) McGrath inducted into ICC Hall of Fame
(8) Jamshed’s ton sets up Pakistan's series win
(9) Sania-Mattek enter doubles final of Brisbane international
(10) U.S. regulators approve new tuberculosis drug

5 Stories for Today

(1) Chief Justice warns against people’s anger affecting judicial process
(2) U.K., Argentina in fresh of war of words over Falklands
(3) Illiquid stocks: bourses caution investors
(4) Barack Obama signs fiscal cliff bill …. with autopen
(5) RBI panel for tough measures

(1) Chief Justice warns against people’s anger affecting judicial process

Inaugurating the first of the five newly announced fast-track courts set up here to try cases related to sexual offence against women, Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir said he appreciated people’s anger over rape but warned against letting it overwhelm the due process of law.

“People’s reaction has been that do not send the accused to trial. Hand them over to us, we will deal with them or hang them. But let us not get carried away. A swift trial should not be at the cost of a fair trial,” he told members of the judicial fraternity at the Saket District Court Complex. He added: “Let us not lose sight of the fact that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty”.

Appreciating the government for the fast-track courts, he said: “It is welcome that the government has woken up to the need for courts which would try such cases on a priority basis. The perpetrators of such crimes should be brought to justice as quickly as possible.”

He said that while handling such cases one has to understand the trauma of a rape victim.

“It is not a crime against the body but it is also a crime against the soul,” he said. Justice Kabir said that the gang-rape case could have been averted had the Supreme Court guidelines on tinted glasses in vehicles been strictly imposed. Justice Kabir said the root of the problem of sexual violence against women should be found. “Blame game will not serve anything”, he said. Four more fast-track courts to deal with sexual offences in the other district courts in the Capital would start functioning soon. All existing cases of sexual assault in the respective courts would be assembled there and trial would continue from their next date of hearing.

The trial in all these cases will proceed on a day-to-day basis and adjournments would be for a smaller span such as a day or two. Judicial officers have been identified for the fast-track courts. Meanwhile, Sanjay Kumar, a lawyer representing the Saket District Bar Council, said that 2,500 advocates registered at the court have decided to “stay away” to ensure “speedy justice”, meaning the government will have to appoint lawyers for the defendants.

(2) U.K., Argentina in fresh of war of words over Falklands

Britain and Argentina were on Thursday embroiled in a fresh war of words over the Falkland Islands after Argentinean President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner wrote an open letter to Prime Minister David Cameron demanding the return of the disputed territory, and describing the British claim on it as “a blatant exercise of 19th Century colonialism”.

Within hours, Downing Street firmly rejected any negotiations and said it would “do everything to protect the interests of the Falklands islanders”.

The row came ahead of a referendum, in March, on the status of the British-administered islands which Argentina calls “La Malvinas”. Argentina regards the referendum as illegal, claiming that the islanders are “occupiers” and not legitimate citizens.

In her letter, published as an advertisement in The Guardian and The Independent, Ms.Kirchner accused Britain of “forcibly” occupying the islands exactly 180 years ago, on January 3, 1833, and changing its demography by expelling the original Argentinean population and replacing it with British settlers.

“The Argentines on the Islands were expelled by the Royal Navy and the United Kingdom subsequently began a population implantation process similar to that applied to other territories under colonial rule. Since then, Britain, the colonial power, has refused to return the territories to the Argentine Republic, thus preventing it from restoring its territorial integrity,” she said.

Ms. Kirchner urged Britain to abide by a 1960 U.N. resolution that proclaimed the necessity of “bringing to an end colonialism in all its forms and manifestations”. She also cited a 1965 resolution inviting the two countries to “negotiate a solution” to the dispute.

“The Question of the Malvinas Islands is also a cause embraced by Latin America and by a vast majority of peoples and governments around the world that reject colonialism,” she said.

Mr. Cameron’s spokesman said the people of the Falklands had “a clear desire to remain British” and the Argentinean government should respect their right to self determination.

The two countries fought a war over it in 1982, and though Britain reclaimed the islands the dispute has continued to simmer. Recently, Britain named a chunk in Antarctica after the Queen — a move regarded as a provocation by Argentina.

(3) Illiquid stocks: bourses caution investors

In order to safeguard investors’ interest, country’s leading bourses BSE and NSE have advised extra caution while trading in illiquid stocks — around 2,400 in all.

Illiquid stocks are those that can not be sold easily because they see limited trading. They pose higher risks to investors because it is difficult to find buyers for them, as compared to the frequently traded shares.

“Trading members are advised to exercise additional due diligence while trading in these securities either on own account or on behalf of their clients,” BSE and NSE said in similar-worded separate circulars to their broker members. As per directions from market regulator SEBI (Securities and Exchange Board of India), the BSE has listed out 2,133 such stocks, while NSE has also named 260 illiquid stocks where additional due diligence is required.

As per SEBI directions, the two exchanges are required to draw up a list of illiquid securities, based on a criteria jointly agreed with SEBI, and make it available to the trading members on a quarterly basis.

Accordingly, the two exchanges have drawn up their respective lists of such illiquid securities based on trading activity during the quarter October-December 2012.

The BSE listed illiquid scrips included Godfrey Phillips India, Kinetic Engineering, Oswal Spinning & Weaving Mills, Sanofi India, Deccan Cements, Reliance Chemotex, Zodiac Ventures, Sahara One Media And Entertainment and Panasonic Energy India.

The NSE list included Deccan Cements, Asian Hotels (East), Asian Hotels (West), Cinevista, Khaitan (India), SMS Pharmaceuticals, Surana Telecom and Power, Vardhman Holdings and Zenith Exports.

(4) Barack Obama signs fiscal cliff bill …. with autopen

It is a signing machine used for automatic signature

U.S. President Barack Obama, on Wednesday, signed into law the fiscal cliff bill that extends lower tax rates permanently on annual household income under $450,000 and postpones automatic spending cuts for two months.

“We received the bill late this afternoon, and it was immediately processed. A copy was delivered to the President for review. He then directed the bill be signed by autopen,” a senior White House official said.

An autopen or signing machine is a device used for automatic signature.

Called the “American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012,” the bill makes permanent the temporary rates on taxable income at or below $400,000 for individual filers and $450,000 for married individuals filing jointly.

Unemployment benefits

It also permanently indexes the Alternative Minimum Tax exemption amount to the Consumer Price Index and extends emergency unemployment compensation benefits and Federal funding for unemployed workers for one year.

Among other things, it continues current law Medicare payment rates for physicians’ services furnished through December 31, 2013, and provides a postponement of the Budget Control Act’s sequester for two months.

Harry Truman is believed to have been the first U.S. President to use the autopen as a way of responding to mail and signing checks.

Gerald Ford was the first President to openly acknowledge his use of the autopen.

On May 26, 2011, Mr. Obama became the first President to use an autopen to sign a bill into law.

While visiting France, Mr. Obama authorised the use of an autopen to create his signature which signed into law an extension of three key provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act. Republicans have opposed the use of autopen by Mr. Obama, questioning its constitutional validity.

The White House has, however, defended the use of autopen.

(5) RBI panel for tough measures

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), in its bid to curb investments in gold bars and jewellery, has come out with a draft report suggesting revision in gold loan rules and introduction of new gold-backed products, which would bring down India’s gold import bills.

The working group constituted for studying gold and goal loans by Non-Banking Finance Companies (NBFCs), under the chairmanship of KUB Rao, Advisor, Department of Economics and Policy Research has recommended that banks and NBFCs put the pledged gold to productive use and has also recommended tough guidelines for gold loan companies. The RBI has sought comments on the draft report January 18, 2013. Some key recommendations include having banks design innovative financial instruments to provide real returns to investors; conversion of both rural and urban demand for gold into investment in gold-backed financial instruments through dematerialisation of gold, and introduction of tax incentives on instruments that could impound idle gold.

To prevent the mushrooming of gold loan firms, the panel has recommended that activities of gold loan NBFCs be monitored continuously and the interconnectedness of gold loan NBFCs with the formal financial system be reduced gradually. It has also suggested measures to review the current guidelines pertaining to gold loan NBFCs raising resources through NCDs.

It has also mooted the idea of thoroughly reviewing operational practices followed by gold loans NBFCs. The Working Group was assigned with the task of studying whether large gold imports of India are a threat to external stability. It was asked, among other things, to study the recent trends in gold loans extended by large gold loan NBFCs and see whether there are any systemic stability issues. The report, however, has outlined that there was no systemic implications in the financial system because of gold loan NBFCs. Also the report outlines that there is no risk to gold loan companies because of various factors such as volatility in prices of the gold, sources of funds, capital adequacy and asset quality.

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