Politics & the Nation
  • Now it's the turn of David Miliband to proclaim faith in the root cause theory
    • He is UK's foreign secretary on a visit to India.  He is reported to have uttered that Kashmir dispute is the root cause and that if it is solved the Mumbai attacks would not have happened.  Rahul Gandhi reportedly gave him an exposure to the 'real' India by making him sleep in a dusty rural environment.
    • His view, sure, did raise the hackles of many an Indian.
  • President's rule in Jharkhand
    • With the three major UPA partners — the JMM, the Congress and the RJD — failing to arrive at a consensus over Jharkhand chief minister Shibu Soren’s replacement, the stage is set for imposition of President’s rule in the state. Jharkhand governor Syed Sibtey Razi sent a report to the Centre yesterday, recommending the imposition of Article 356 in the state on the grounds of political instability. The Union Cabinet is likely to take a call on this today.
  • Stricter penalty for destruction of public property
    • In the wake of large scale destruction of railway and other public properties by Gujjars during their agitation in Rajasthan demanding Scheduled Tribe status, two committees have gone into the issue of penalty for destruction of public properties during agitations.
    • One is the seven-member Justice KT Thomas committee that has recommended amendments to the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act.  The other is the committee headed by noted constitutional expert and senior counsel Fali S Nariman which said that the leaders of the agitating organizations should be held liable for such destructions.
    • The Supreme Court has looked into the suggestions and asked the states and the Centre to file their responses.  The case is scheduled to be heard in March.
Finance & Economics
  • On corruption
    • Estimates put it that about $1 trillion is exchanged per year as bribes globally.
  • ONGC performance set to slip on sinking onshore output
    • ONGC’s onshore production from its onshore fields in Assam, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu contributes nearly 30.5% of its total domestic production of 26 million tonnes per annum, or 0.52 million barrels per day. 
    • These onshore fields also represent over 26.4% of ONGC’s annual natural gas production of 22.3 billion cubic meters, or around 62 million cubic meters per day. 
  • Miraculous escape for US Airways passengers
    • I am sure many of you would have seen in TVs by now.  But just for record keeping sake:
      • US Airways flight 1549 that took off from LaGuardia airport of New York was hit by birds -- on both the engines.
      • While the air traffic controllers suggested that it should land at Teterboro air strip which is nearby, the pilot took a call of his own and safely landed the plane in Hudson river.  Without any loss of lives.  It looked as though it was a scene out of a movie.
      • The pilot - Chelsey B Sullenberger - was a former US Air Force pilot and US Airways veteran of 29 years.  He won all round praise for safely landing the plane in water.
      • Read this report, if you have time.  If you don't, look at this picture.
  • Citigroup split into two
    • Citi announced it was jettisoning its financial supermarket model that will split it into two separate businesses — Citicorp and Citi Holdings. 
    • Citicorp will hold all the good assets of the group including the global bank, while Citi Holdings will hold assets that the group will look to sell. The announcement came as the bank, which has been brought to heel by the US subprime crisis, posted a higher-than-anticipated fourth-quarter loss of $8.29 billion. 
  • BankAm gets a $20 bn aid
    • Having posted its first ever quarterly loss since 1991, post the Merrill Lynch & Co and Countrywide Financial Corp acquisitions, the last man standing had to be rescued by the US government.  It announced a fourth quarter loss of $1.79 bn.
    • The US government announced a $20 bn investment in the bank and also said it is willing to guarantee $118 bn of assets.
    • Is it time for Kenneth Lewis, the CEO to go?  The bank has seen a fall of more than 75% in its share value since it announced the acquisitions.  Analysts are harsh on the bank right now.
  • Arab League lost about $2.5 trillion to global economic crisis?
    • This is the figure stated by Kuwait's foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed al-Sabah.
    • Arab nations appear to have suffered a 40% erosion in their investments abroad.  Many of them had to cut back substantially on their development projects.
    • Arab League Secretary General: Amr Moussa
  • Conficker, Downadup, or Kido
    • This is a worm that was first discovered in October 2008.  It spreads quite fast -- even through devices connected to the USB port of your PC.
    • Though Microsoft has released a patch for this, it is reported to have infected close to 3.5 mn PCs worldwide as of now.