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Celebrities endorsing products also liable for misleading advertisements: Panel - 2/4/2014

TOI NEW DELHI: If the skin whitening cream isn't as phenomenal as advertised or the hair oil not producing a lush mop as promised, you may soon be able to claim compensation not only from the advertisers, but from the celebrities endorsing the product.
Celebrities endorsing products also liable for misleading advertisements: Panel

The Central Consumer Protection Council (CCPC), under the chairmanship of minister K V Thomas, on Monday decided to set up a sub-committee to suggest strategies to deal with such advertisers. Among the concerns raised was peddling of products by celebrities.

"About 50% of the daylong conference was spent addressing ... the huge impact of misleading advertisements, particularly food items, hair oil and health products," said a CCPC member who attended the meeting in Kochi. "Even the celebrities must pay compensation in case there is a complaint," said Joseph Victor, a CCPC member.

Panel mulls measures to monitor ad claims

What seems to have moved the consumer affairs ministry is a direction from the MP high court to set up an ad monitoring panel as recommended by the Vibha Bhargava Commission. "An ad monitoring committee with proper budgetary support from the Centre may be set up to monitor the advertisements on regular basis... the committee will have the powers to (take) corrective actions and (impose) compensation," the CCPC said.

Sources said that the decision was taken unanimously by CCPC, which has members from central and state governments, besides representatives from consumer organizations and academicians. The sub-committee may be formed in less than a week and could submit its recommendations by February-end, sources said.

Some members told TOI the issue of southern superstar Mamootty endorsing products was discussed. "We have similar problems across the country. We have Shahrukh Khan or some other Hindi film star endorsing consumer items and they get huge payment for doing so. A misleading ads featuring such famous faces shown on TV even for a day serves the purpose of advertisers. We discussed how suo motu action can be taken against ads which have been withdrawn. Even the celebrities must pay compensation in case there is a complaint," said Joseph Victor, a CCPC member.

Another member, Ashim Sanyal, said he had raised the issue of monitoring ads, which are in huge numbers and across different modes and media. "We need to plan the mechanism for monitoring. The sub-committee will come out with directions and provisions to deal with the menace," he added. Lok Sabha MP Charles Dias, who also attended the meeting, told TOI that concerns were raised on manufacturers' ad spend, which is passed on to buyers. "Most of us felt that there should some sort of monitoring on how much is being spent on advertisements," he said.

Mission Impossible:Three students hunt for Dawood, return home - 2/3/2014

Patna, Feb 3 (IANS) : Three school students embarked on a mission to get-rich-quick by hunting down Dawood Ibrahim and handing over the underworld don to authorities. The sheepish students are now back home after they ran out of money.

The class nine students of St Michael High School in this Bihar capital went missing last week and only returned home after their mission to catch Dawood Ibrahim failed, said police Monday.

Patna police is stunned over their motive and mission.

Police have now appealed to parents to take greater care of their children.

Please take care of your wards and keep a watch on their activities, so that they don't take the wrong path, Patna Senior Superintendent of Police Manu Maharaj said.

India's top intelligence agencies are trying hard for years to catch the fugitive Dawood Ibrahim. And till date they have failed to make a breakthrough.

But the three students, either inspired by films or TV serials, decided to make plenty of money in a short span of time by catching Dawood Ibrahim.

Three of them decided to go on their mission in school itself. They felt that by catching Dawood Ibrahim and handing him over to the Indian government, they would get crores of rupees as reward which they can use to enjoy life later, he said.

Manu Maharaj said that police got to know of their motive when they began the search to locate the three missing boys.

Police managed to trace one of them Bipin Kumar, who said that they were not interested in studies and chalked out a plan to catch Dawood Ibrahim to make millions, he said.

Another police official, said that three boys were confident of nabbing Dawood Ibrahim.

They decided to approach (Bihars ruling Janata Dal-United legislator) Anant Singh for financial help to catch Dawood. They tried to meet Singh but failed.

According to police officials, the students decided to go ahead with plan when they were on way to school.

First they visited a mall before leaving Patna and reached Mokama and then went to Kolkata.

Soon after reaching Kolkata, they realized that mission is impossible.

They soon decided to return home as they had few hundreds left with them, police officials said.

Manoj Jha, a police official, said two separate cases had been lodged.

Manu Maharaj said parents must teach children to concentrate on their studies.

A teacher of their school said on condition of anonymity that three three boys were least bothered about their studies.

Earthquake strikes off western coast of Greece, USGS says - 2/3/2014


(CNN) -- A magnitude-6.1 earthquake struck off the western coast of Greece early Monday, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

The quake hit near the island of Cephalonia, roughly 300 kilometers (185 miles) west of Athens, at a depth of about 14 kilometers (9 miles), the USGS said.

There were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

We got what we wanted from tour game: Rohit Sharma - 2/3/2014

We got what we wanted from tour game: Rohit Sharma

WHANGAREI: Stand-in captain Rohit Sharma on Monday said that the Indian team got "what they wanted" before going into the first Test against New Zealand at the Eden Park in Auckland, starting February 6.

"We got what we wanted from this practice game. All the batsmen got in and made some runs which is a good sign before a Test series. We are ready and both the batsmen and the bowlers got what they wanted from this match. I am happy with how things went in the last two days," Rohit, who scored a half-century along with Ajinkya Rahane said at the post-match press conference.

Apart from Rohit and Rahane, Ambati Rayudu (49 n.o.) and Ravichandran Ashwin also got some useful batting practice.

Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara scored 33 runs while Ashwin also had a good time with the ball taking 2/46.

Among bowlers, Ishant Sharma (2/58), Zaheer Khan (1/42) and Umesh Yadav (1/70) were also among the wickets, but the most impressive bowler was unheralded Ishwar Pandey with figures of 3/42.

Rohit had words of praise for young Pandey. "Pandey bowled really well. Given the conditions, he stuck to his plans and he got rewarded with three wickets. All the other three fast bowlers also did well. They did not get the wickets they wanted, but Pandey was the one who got really stuck there," said Rohit.

Rohit said that it was important to rotate all his bowlers unlike the New Zealand XI, who gave their bowlers longer spells.

"If you look at their bowling analysis, they probably bowled 15 overs each, which is pretty good on day one. We had to rotate the bowlers, and we had to see all the fast bowlers who were in the squad. Everyone got what they needed to get out of this game. We are looking good and raring to go for the Test series," he added.

Rohit defended yet another poor show by Shikhar Dhawan (26) and Murali Vijay not making the most of the batting time in match situation.

"I won't say it is disappointing that they didn't bat longer. They had a decent outing in the middle. They got a feel. It is always disappointing to not get runs. It is not an issue. I am sure it is a matter of one good innings and things will change quickly. That is what I feel and I am sure those guys also feel the same," said the stand-in skipper, come to the rescue of his batsmen.

The Indian team now leaves for Auckland on Tuesday and then they have a short turn-around of only one day before the first Test begins in Eden Park on February 6.

"We knew it was going to be very hectic. Mentally, we have got to be ready and everyone is ready. Touchwood, there are no injuries. We travel tomorrow, get a day off tomorrow and next day we might have practice before the Test. It is always going to be hectic, all about how you adapt to all this mentally."

Rohit says that with MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli coming back into the playing XI for the Test match, it will be a good session together before the match commences.

"There is only one day to have a good team session. There are two guys who are missing, MS (Dhoni) and Virat (Kohli). Hopefully, we can go to Auckland and get together."

"It is really important that we get together and play as a team. We have to do well in partnerships, whether it is bowling or batting. If we bat first, we have got to post big totals. If we field first, we got to take early wickets.

"That's what it is, it is very simple. Everyone knows it, hopefully we can go there and try and do this," he said. It is a very difficult challenge that lies ahead of team India. They have lost the five-match ODI series 4-0 and need to salvage this tour in the longer format," Rohit added.

The talented right-hander is ready to put behind the disappointment of a disastrous ODI series and focus on the longer version.

"At this point, you have to put everything behind. It was very disappointing to lose the ODI series. But we have to focus on what is coming next. The two Tests will be crucial. This is a young team and we know we will be playing away for a while now. We have to understand that," he was forthright in his assessment.

Rohit admitted that it will be a challenging test against New Zealand in the two-Test series.

"Everyone knows what is in front of us. The two Tests will be really challenging. New Zealand are playing some good cricket. We have to be at our best to beat them. I am sure everyone is ready to take the field," he signed off.

Kejriwal delivers on promise of free water - 12/30/2013


New Delhi, (IANS): Fulfilling its poll promise, the Aam Aadmi Party government on Monday announced 667 litres of free water daily for domestic consumption to each household having metered connection in Delhi.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the Delhi Jal Board chaired by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal at his residence in Ghaziabad in Kausambi.

"All the domestic consumers having metered connection will get 20 kilolitres of water free of cost from January 1. We will not even levy any existing charges such as water cess and sewerage charge," newly-appointed Delhi jal Board CEO Vijay Kumar told reporters.

He, however, said if the consumption limit crosses 20 kilolitres, then the consumer will have to pay for the water and other charges.

Kumar was appointed CEO of DJB on Saturday evening in place of Debashree Mukherjee who is understood to have reservation over supplying water free of cost.

In its election manifesto, the Aam Admi Party had announced that 700 litres of free water will be supplied daily to each household if it comes to power.

Last month, Delhi Jal Board had planned to increase the water tariff by 10 per cent from January to improve its finances.

It is not immediately clear whether government will charge for water being supplied to over 1,600 unauthorised colonies across the city as in most households in these settlements water metres are yet to be installed.

10 killed in new blast in Russian city of Volgograd: Official - 12/30/2013


Ten people were killed on Monday in a blast on a trolleybus in the southern Russian city of Volgograd, a day after a deadly suicide bombing at the city's main train station, officials said.

"According to initial information, 10 people were killed and 10 were wounded" in the explosion, the spokeswoman of the local branch of the emergencies ministry Irina Gogoleva told the Interfax news agency on Monday.

18 killed in North Caucasus train station blast

At least 18 people were killed and dozens injured on Sunday when a suicide bomber blew herself up in a train station in the Russian city of Volgograd ahead of February's Olympic Games in nearby Sochi.

Regional officials said the woman set off her charge near the metal detectors stationed at the entrance to the city's main train station while it was packed with afternoon travellers.

Footage on Russian state television showed windows blown off across the top two floors of the grey brick building and numerous ambulances gathered at the station's front entrance amid piles of debris and snow.

"Initial indications are that the blast was set off by a female suicide bomber," the National Anti-Terror Committee said in a statement.

Russia's Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said officials had launched an inquiry into a suspected "act of terror".

A regional government spokesman told the RIA Novosti news agency that at least 18 people were killed and more than 40 injured in the attack.

But a federal health ministry spokesman told Russian state television that the number of people wounded stood at more than 50.

The city of Volgograd known as Stalingrad in the Soviet era was already attacked in October by a female suicide bomber with links to Islamists fighting federal forces in Russia's volatile North Caucasus.

The October 21 strike killed six people aboard a crowded bus and immediately raised security fears ahead of the February 4-23 Winter Games in Sochi.

The Black Sea city lies 690 kilometres southwest of Volgograd and in direct proximity to the violence ravaging North Caucasus regions such as Dagestan and Chechnya on a daily basis.

Militants are seeking to impose an Islamist state throughout Russia's North Caucasus.

Their leader Doku Umarov has ordered his footsoldiers to target civilians outside the region and disrupt the Olympic Games.

7 minor earthquakes cause collapse of Mexican highway - 12/28/2013

TOI MEXICO CITY: Mexico says a 300-yard (metre) section of a highway near the US border has collapsed, sinking about 100 feet (30 metres) after a series of small earthquakes.

Mexico's federal highway authority says the collapse occurred about 58 miles (93 kilometres) south of the border city of Tijuana. The road leads to the port city of Ensenada, on the Baja California peninsula.

The agency, on Saturday said that the road was closed in the early morning hours, after the collapse was detected.

The agency said the collapse was caused by seven small earthquakes ranging in magnitude from 1.3 to 4.3. It said the roadway runs over a known geological fault in the area, and that it had been raining heavily. No injuries were reported.

Traffic was being diverted onto a smaller, non-toll highway.

India: Woman raped by two gangs on Christmas Eve - 12/27/2013


New Delhi: Police in India say 10 men are in custody, after a 21-year-old woman was raped by two apparently unrelated groups of men on Christmas Eve.

The last suspect was arrested on Friday and police say they have confessed.

The suspects have been remanded for 15 days, but they are yet to be formally charged in court. None of the suspects has publicly commented on the allegations made against them by the victim.

The reports of the latest assault came two days before India was due to mark the first anniversary of the death of a student who was gangraped on a bus in an attack that shocked the nation.

The woman who was assaulted on Christmas Eve told police she was abducted by three men while sightseeing with friends in Karaikal, a port city in Puducherry, the Times of India newspaper and TV networks reported.

One of the men raped her at a secluded spot before freeing her, the Times said.

She called for help but then another group of seven men attacked her as she was being escorted to a safe place, the paper said.

Six of the men raped her, it added.

One case has been reported. There are 15 accused (persons) and one victim, senior police officer Monika Bhardwaj told reporters.

Bhardwaj said three of the accused are absconding while the rest have been caught.

The Times of India said police had registered preliminary cases of abduction, gang-rape and criminal intimidation against the accused.

The woman has been admitted to hospital where police will record her statement, the CNN-IBN TV network reported.

The issue of sex crimes in India has received widespread attention since last year's gang rape of the 23-year-old student in New Delhi.

The physiotherapy student died on December 29, nearly two weeks after being attacked by a gang of six men on a moving bus as she returned home from the cinema with a male companion.

The brutality of the attack and her subsequent death shook the country and shone a global spotlight on India’s widespread mistreatment of women.

The attack also prompted the Indian parliament to pass tougher laws against rapists and other sex-crime offenders.

But a string of other sex attacks, including against foreign tourists and a photojournalist in Mumbai this year, has highlighted the continuing dangers facing women in India.

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Pope Francis turns the sceptics around - 12/25/2013


Pope Francis celebrated his first Christmas Eve midnight mass at the St Peter’s basilica. His message, consistent with the theme of his papacy, humility and compassion.

He said: If we love God and our brothers and sisters, we walk in the light; but if our heart is closed, if we are dominated by pride, deceit, self-seeking, then darkness falls within us and around us. Thousands attended the mass.

Al Jazeera America reported that just before Christmas, the pontiff sent out 2,000 envelopes containing subway and telephone cards to people living in surrounding areas to ensure that they celebrate the holiday with their families, even from afar.

Nine months into his papal regime, it looks like the Catholic Church is finally returning to what Christ preached 2,000 years ago.

Labelled The People's Pope, he is turning the sceptics around and being lauded by the secular press. Time magazine voted him as Person of the Year.

News reports talk about the Francis effect in churches across the globe, as lapsed practitioners of the faith return in hope of a man modernising the 1st century institution.

He is working to reduce corruption in the church, especially in the Roman Curia, increasing transparency in Vatican finances and attempting to deal with the plague of sexual crimes that have ravaged the Holy See over the past decade. Earlier this month, he set up a review body to look into the issue of abuse by priests.

We live in a time of doubt. So, it is but natural to question this new religious rockstar with more than 3,427,444 followers on his Twitter verified account @Pontifex.

He tweets regularly with messages such as: Pope Francis‏@Pontifex19 Dec Let us pray that God grant us the grace of knowing a world where no one dies of hunger.

The papal leaders before him were qualified theologians who seemed to be restricted by the scripture of expression.

Pope Francis, in turn, has worked as a nightclub bouncer, janitor and teacher. He is a man who has cannily employed his new position as absolute head of the Catholic Church and technology to reach out to people from Manila to Mumbai.

He wants change, he wants transformation and he wants it to be real. In an interview with a Jesuit magazine published in September, he provided insight into his vision for the church as a field hospital for the helpless, broken, lonely and poor.

He started by paying his hotel bill once the papacy was announced, and the taking on of a new name. Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Brazil chose to take the name of St Francis of Assisi, a wealthy silk merchant who renounced everything to become the patron saint of the poor. This was the first time a Pope had done so.

Earlier this year, on the day before Good Friday, as per ritual Francis washed the feet of the faithful, only this time it included a Serbian Muslim woman. The message of service was sent, much to the irritation of church traditionalists.

Does this mean he is open to female priests, abortion, divorce and gay marriage? The answer is a resounding no. His core message is the same as that of the Church he heads. However, he does want it to be open. On his July visit to Brazil, he told the media: If a person is gay and seeks God and has goodwill, who am I to judge?

He elaborated in an apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium or The Joy of the Gospel. He writes:...the Church living in the midst of the homes of her sons and daughters. This presumes that it really is in contact with the homes and the lives of its people, and does not become a useless structure out of touch with people or a self-absorbed group made up of a chosen few.

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