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U.S. Economic Growth Slowed Sharply In The Fourth quarter

Written By Kvartha People on Friday, January 30, 2015 | 10:02 PM

U.S. economic growth slowed sharply in the fourth quarter as weak business spending and a wider trade deficit offset the fastest pace of consumer spending since 2006.

The slowdown followed two back-to-back quarters of bullish growth and is likely to be short-lived given the enormous tailwind from lower gasoline prices. Other data on Friday showed consumer sentiment jumped to an 11-year high in January.

"We look for strong domestic consumption to continue supporting growth momentum in the coming quarters even as INVESTMENT suffers due to falling oil prices," said Gennadiy Goldberg, an economist at TD Securities in New York.

Gross domestic product expanded at a 2.6 percent annual pace after the third quarter's spectacular 5 percent rate, the Commerce Department said in its first fourth-quarter GDP snapshot on Friday

Most economists believe fundamentals in the United States are strong enough to cushion the blow on growth from weakening overseas economies.

Even with the moderation in the fourth quarter, growth remained above a 2.5 percent pace, which is considered to be the economy's potential. Economists had expected GDP to expand at a 3 percent rate in the fourth quarter.

U.S. stocks were trading lower on the GDP report, while prices for U.S. Treasury debt rose. The dollar was largely unchanged against a basket of currencies.

For all of 2014, the economy grew 2.4 percent compared to 2.2 percent in 2013. The report came two days after the Federal Reserve said the economy was growing at a "solid pace," an upgraded assessment that keeps it on track to start raising interest rates this year.

The U.S. central bank has kept its short-term interest rate near zero since December 2008 and most economists expect a mid-year lift-off.

Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, advanced at a 4.3 percent pace in the fourth quarter - the fastest since the first quarter of 2006 and an acceleration from the third quarter's 3.2 percent pace.

Lower gasoline prices - they are down 43 percent since June, according to government data - and a strengthening labor market are fueling a surge in optimism among households. The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment rose to 98.1 this month, the best reading since January 2004, from 93.6 in December.

"The level of consumer sentiment supports our view that consumer spending will kick the year off on a robust foot after the drop in energy prices left consumers' wallets full," said Bricklin Dwyer, an economist at BNP Paribas in New York.
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27 BJP, 21 AAP, 12 Congress candidates with Criminal cases in Delhi elections

114 candidates contesting in Delhi Assembly polls have criminal cases against them, election watchdog ADR said on Friday and noted that 19 out of 70 were ‘red alert’ constituencies which had at least three tainted candidates each. The Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) in its report, which is an analysis of affidavits of 673 candidates contesting the February 7 polls, pointed out that the BJP has fielded the highest number of 27 candidates with criminal cases followed by AAP and Congress with 21 and 12 such candidates respectively.

It also observed that Tughlakabad constituency has five candidates who have criminal cases against them. “114 out of 673 candidates (17 per cent) have declared criminal cases against themselves. During the 2013 and 2008 Delhi Assembly elections, the percentage of candidates with criminal cases was 16 and 14 respectively,” Jagdeep Chhokar, founder member of ADR, said. Out of the 114 candidates, 74 of them have declared serious criminal cases against them including murder, attempt to murder, assault, loss to exchequer and crimes against women. “Out of the 673 candidates, one candidate has a murder case against him and five candidates have declared cases of attempt to murder. 8 candidates have cases related to crimes against women. However, no candidate has a rape case against him,” he said. Higher on the ‘red alert’ constituency list are Rajouri Garden and Tilak Nagar with 4 candidates in poll fray having criminal cases against them. The ‘red alert’ constituencies includes Najafgarh, Babarpur, Ghonda, Nangloi, Dwarka, Adarsh Nagar, Matia Mahal, Shahdara, Chhatarpur, Shalimar bagh, New Delhi, Mundka, Matiala, Okhla, Hari Nagar and RK Puram.
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Rs 10 lakh on Modi's suit, but where is 15 lakh promised?: Rahul

Written By Kvartha People on Thursday, January 29, 2015 | 10:29 PM

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday took a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying while he failed to deliver on his much tom-tommed promise of bringing black money back he wore a “suit worth Rs 10 lakh” during US President Barack Obama’s visit here.

Addressing an election rally, he also accused the Modi government of succumbing to US pressure in resolving the nuclear deal logjam and claimed that in case of any accident in a nuclear plant, US companies will not have to pay compensation.

“He (Modi) had said I will bring back crores of black money, will deposit 15 lakh in every account. I want to ask you, did you get 15 lakh? You didn’t get anything but Modi wore a suit worth Rs 10 lakh during Obama’s visit,” he said.

The pinstripe bandhgala suit Modi wore on Sunday during his talks with Obama in Hyderabad House had his name embroidered all over it, triggering a debate in the social media.

On the nuclear deal, Gandhi said, “If there is any problem in a nuclear plant, the American company won’t have to pay and it will be the Indian government which will pay the compensation.”

The Congress Vice President also took a dig at Modi on his Swachh Bharat Abhiyan saying the prime minister has not been able to address problems like inflation and employment.

“When you asked for employment and demanded that inflation be brought down, he gave you a broom saying clean India and went to US and Australia.”

Asking people to support Congress in the upcoming Delhi Assembly polls, Gandhi wondered what changes BJP will bring to Delhi as the party was already running the city as it was
under President’s Rule.

“BJP says bring our government in Delhi. But they are in power here, they are already running Delhi,” he said.
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India changes tax rules to boost investment

The Indian government has asked tax officials to apply the principle behind a tax ruling in favour of Vodafone Group Plc(VOD.L) to all similar cases, a major boost to foreign firms including Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSa.L).

The order was detailed in a letter seen by Reuters and sent by the finance ministry to all tax officials across the country on Thursday.

India's image as an investment destination has been tarnished by a reputation for red tape, unpredictable rules and a tax office long seen as over zealous in its pursuit of foreign companies with billions of dollars of demands.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government, which stormed topower in May on promises it would reboot a slowing economy, has sought to change that.

Tax lawyers said they expected the government order to impact all the past and future cases involving tax on shares issued by a company to related entities -- the heart of the Vodafone case.
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Centre not to to go against HC

Written By Kvartha People on Wednesday, January 28, 2015 | 8:54 PM

The decision, taken at the highest level following advice by Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi, comes after a meeting of the Union Cabinet.

In a decision aimed at improving the INVESTMENT sentiment, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday took a decision to not challenge against a Bombay High Court ruling that said Vodafone was not liable to pay a tax demand of Rs. 3,200 crore in a transfer pricing case.

The decision follows Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi’s advice to the Income TaxDepartment to not appeal the Bombay High Court judgement.

“The decision to not appeal against the Bombay High Court ruling that was in favour of Vodafone sends out the message to global investors whose confidence in India was shaken in the past… Prime Minister Modi wants it to be known that his government will take decisions that will be fair, transparent and within four corners of the law,” said Union Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad briefing reporters after the meeting of the Cabinet.

The Bombay High Court on October 10, 2014 ruled against the Income Tax Department’s demand to the company to pay additional income tax alleging that it had undervalued its SHARES in subsidiary, Vodafone India Services, while transferring them to the parent company in Britain in the year 2010.
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Socialist secular omitted from govt ad

Written By Kvartha People on Tuesday, January 27, 2015 | 8:08 PM

An I & B Ministry official said an image of the original Preamble to the Constitution was used to commemorate the 66th Republic Day.

The Information & Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry’s Republic Day print advertisement on Monday omitted the words "socialist, secular" in the image of the Preamble to the Constitution triggering a furore and signature campaigns over social media platforms.

While a Ministry official said an image of the original Preamble to the Constitution was used to commemorate the 66th Republic Day, the decision has raised eyebrows, given the attacks on minorities over the past few months. The words ``socialist, secular’’ were introduced in the Preamble through the 42nd Constitution Amendment Act in 1976
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R K Laxman's condition worse

Written By Kvartha People on Monday, January 26, 2015 | 12:24 PM

Eminent cartoonist R.K. Laxman took a turn for the worse after he slipped into a “very critical state”, following which he has been put back on mechanical ventilator support, said medical sources on Monday.

The 93-year-old Mr. Laxman was taken off the ventilator last week after his health showed marginal but steady improvement, sparking hopes of a possible recovery.

“Presently, his condition is very critical,” said Dr. Sameer Jog, who has been treating the cartoonist since his admission to Deenanath Mangeshkar hospital on January 17 following a urinary tract infection and kidney failure.

“He suddenly developed severe breathlessness around 8p.m. on Sunday following which we had to put him on ventilator support again. We have also had to discontinue his dialysis as he is unable to bear the therapy now,” said Dr. Jog.

Last week, the cartoonist, whose health has been debilitated by hypertension and a series of strokes in the past, was being able to breathe on his own, sending out a positive signal to doctors.

Further, he was being able to maintain his blood pressure with a lesser drug dose and his creatinine level (an indicator of the proper functioning of the kidneys) had restored to a normal count.
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unity is strength, dominance is weakness

Written By Kvartha People on Sunday, January 25, 2015 | 9:06 PM

In his address to the nation on the eve of the 66th Republic Day, President says as wisdom of India always teaches “unity is strength, dominance is weakness”

Asserting that religion cannot be made a cause of conflict, President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday said “tolerance” and promotion of goodwill between diverse communities needs to be preserved with “utmost care and vigilance”.

In his address to the nation on the eve of the 66th Republic Day, the President quoted Mahatma Gandhi, “religion is a force for unity” and said, “We cannot make it a cause of conflict” as wisdom of India always teaches “unity is strength, dominance is weakness.”

He said the Constitution is the holy book of democracy and a “lodestar” for the socio-economic transformation of an India whose civilisation has celebrated pluralism, advocated tolerance and promoted goodwill between diverse communities.

“These values, however, need to be preserved with utmost care and vigilance,” he said.

The freedom inherent in democracy sometimes generates an unhappy by-product when political discourse becomes a “competition in hysteria that is abhorrent to our traditional ethos. The violence of the tongue cuts and wounds people’s hearts,” Mr. Mukherjee said.

On the issue of India being termed as a “soft power”, he said, “the most powerful example of India’s soft power, in an international environment where so many countries are sinking into the morass of theocratic violence, lies in our definition of the relationship between faith and polity.

“We have always reposed our trust in faith-equality where every faith is equal before the law and every culture blends into another to create a positive dynamic,” the President said.

Speaking about the menace of terrorism, Mr. Mukherjee made a veiled reference about Pakistan saying that the country’s “adversaries” will stop at nothing to disrupt India’s progress.
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Modi and Obama walk the talk

India and the U.S. on Sunday broke the seven-year-old logjam in operationalising their landmark civil nuclear agreement with an announcement that “the deal is done” after talks between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In what Mr. Obama called a “breakthrough”, the two sides have resolved key hurdles pertaining to the liability of suppliers of nuclear reactors in the event of an accident and the tracking of fuel supplied by the U.S. and other countries for its proposed nuclear plants.

“We have broken the logjam of the past few years. We have reached an agreement. The deal is done,” Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh announced after extended discussions between Mr. Obama and Mr. Modi lasting more than three hours at the delegation level as well as one-on-one chat besides a tete-a-tete on the lawns of the Hyderabad House reflecting the warm personal chemistry between the two leaders.

In his opening remarks at the joint media interaction, Mr. Modi disclosed that on the nuclear deal the two countries “are moving towards commercial cooperation, consistent with our law, our international obligations and technical and commercial viability.”

At the outset, both the leaders said they were committed to deepening relations between the two countries and the fact that Mr. Obama is the first U.S. President to be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day celebrations and also the first to visit India twice were signs of the growing relations.

“In the last few months, I see new excitement and confidence in this relationship. I see renewed energy in our engagement. I thank you for your leadership and for setting the tone last September.

“The civil nuclear agreement was the centrepiece of our transformed relationship, which demonstrated new trust. It also created new economic opportunities and expanded our option for clean energy.
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Obama to India

Written By Kvartha People on Saturday, January 24, 2015 | 8:20 PM

U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday embarked on his highly anticipated three-day landmark trip to India during which the two countries will strive to make progress on climate change, defence and economic cooperation.

Mr. Obama left by Air Force One, the presidential aircraft, from the Andrews Air Force Base.

The President is accompanied by a sizeable delegation that will include several top officials, as well as First Lady Michelle Obama. Mr. Obama is travelling to India at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Presidential aircraft will have a brief refuelling halt at Ramstein in Germany and will touch down in Delhi at 10 a.m. on Sunday at Air Force Station, Palam.

The President, who is making his second visit to India, will be joined there by multiple members of his Cabinet, influential business leaders and a host of US lawmakers, including Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives.

On his arrival, Mr. Obama will be accorded a ceremonial welcome at about 12 noon at the majestic Rashtrapati Bhavan by President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Thereafter, he will pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi at the Rajghat and participate in a tree planting event there.

Mr. Obama will then join Mr. Modi for a restricted working lunch at the Hyderabad House and participate in a “walk and talk” with the Indian Prime Minister there, the White House said.
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Elizabeth II oldest monarch

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is now the world’s oldest monarch following the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

Abdullah (90), who passed away on Friday, was two years older than the Queen, who will be 89 in April this year.

She is one of the eight octogenarian monarchs in the world, the others including the King of Thailand and the Emperor of Japan.

An anecdote has also emerged on Twitter about the Queen’s interaction with the former Saudi monarch based on the memoirs of former Saudi ambassador Sherard Cowper—Coles.

It refers to a visit to the Queen’s Balmoral Castle in Scotland in 1998 when she offered to show the then Crown Prince Abdullah around her Scottish Estate.

“To his surprise, the Queen climbed into the driving seat, turned the ignition and drove off. Women are not -- yet -- allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and Abdullah was not used to being driven by a woman, let alone a Queen,” Cowper—Coles writes.

“His nervousness only increased as the Queen, an Army driver in wartime, accelerated the Land Roveralong the narrow Scottish estate roads, talking all the time. Through his interpreter, the Crown Prince implored the Queen to slow down and concentrate on the road ahead,” it adds.

The Queen is also the second—longest reigning monarch in Briti
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