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Live! Naidu incharge of BJP poll monitoring, planning

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August 01, 2013


22:30  Live! Naidu incharge of BJP poll monitoring, planning:  

Pushing ahead with its preparations for coming elections, BJP today reviewed the progress made by its various sub-committees with Narendra Modi underlining the need for an aggressive campaign, particularly targeting first-time and other young voters.  

 

At a meeting of the Election Campaign Committee and its sub-committees chaired by Modi, it was decided that senior leader M Venkaiah Naidu will be given a larger role. Sources said he was made incharge of monitoring BJP's mass campaigns, planning and coordination.     

With the party planning to hold around 100 rallies in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls due in 2014, Naidu will be incharge of organising them in coordination with the state and local party units. The decision on Naidu was taken by Modi and BJP President Rajnath Singh.

22:10  Govt saves the political class from RTI:  
The cabinet today gave its nod to amend the Right to Information (RTI) Act to keep political parties out of the ambit of transparency law. 

The decision to change the RTI Act was taken during a Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here, official sources said. 

The move followed after the Central Information Commission (CIC) had in June held that six national parties -- Congress, BJP, NCP, CPI-M, CPI and BSP -- have been substantially funded indirectly by the central government and were required to appoint Public Information Officers (PIOs) as they have the character of a public authority under the RTI Act.

The decision from transparency watchdog evoked sharp reactions from political parties, especially Congress which has been credited with bringing in the transparency law but is opposed to the CIC's directive.
21:25  Snowden given Russia asylum, leaves airport:  
Fugitive US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden today left the Moscow airport where he was marooned for five weeks, after Russia granted him one year's asylum in a move that risks infuriating Washington. 

Snowden slipped out of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport in a cloak-and-dagger operation overseen by his Russian lawyer but unnoticed by the hordes of media trying to follow his every move.

The former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor was whisked away to an undisclosed location, leaving his lawyer to reveal that Snowden had received temporary asylum in Russia just two weeks after making an application. 

"Snowden has left Sheremetyevo airport. He has just been given a certificate that he has been awarded temporary asylum in Russia for one year," lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said. 

A spokeswoman for Sheremetyevo confirmed he had left the airport after 1000 GMT. A grainy still image published by Rossiya 24 television showed a young man with a rucksack -- apparently Snowden --  about to get into a car outside the airport.
21:24  Cabinet clears 10 pc IOC disinvestment; to fetch Rs 3,750 cr:  
The Cabinet today cleared the proposal for sale of 10 per cent government stake in Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), which may fetch around Rs 3,750 crore to the exchequer at the current market price.

"IOC disinvestment proposal has been cleared by the CCEA (Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs)," sources said. 

The IOC scrip closed at Rs 195.75, down 4.84 per cent on the BSE. At the current market price, the sale of the 19.16 crore shares would fetch Rs 3,750 crore to the exchequer. 

The government holds a 78.92 per cent stake in IOC. 
21:23  Cabinet nod to easing of FDI norms:  
The government today approved liberalisation of FDI norms in a dozen sectors, including 100 per cent in telecom and higher caps in insurance and defence sectors, to boost the sagging economy. 

Although a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on July 16 had decided to relax foreign investment norms in several sectors, the proposals were formally approved by the Cabinet today, sources said. 

The second wave of reforms comes within 10 months of the government opening floodgates of foreign investment in sectors like multi-brand retail and civil aviation. 

In the contentious insurance sector, it was decided to raise the sectoral FDI cap from 26 per cent to 49 per cent under automatic route under which companies investing do not require prior government approval. A Bill to raise FDI cap in the sector is pending in the Rajya Sabha.
20:43  Details of lunch hosted by Sonia to be withheld:  The details of a lunch hosted by Congress Chairperson Sonia Gandhi at Ashoka Hotel in Delhi in 2012 can be withheld from disclosure as no ministry or government department had paid any bills for it, the Central Information Commission has stated.        

The question was raised by RTI applicant Aseem Takyar, who wanted to know from Ashoka Hotel the expenses incurred on the lunch hosted by Gandhi on July 18, 2012.        

The hotel refused to disclose the details, saying the information was of the nature of commercial confidence and disclosing payments made by its guests would compromise its market position.
20:41  IPL spot-fixing: Chandila gets interim bail:  A Delhi court today granted interim bail for the next two days to suspended cricketer Ajit Chandila, who is an accused in the IPL spot-fixing scandal case, to enable him to participate in the last rites of his elder brother.     

Additional Sessions Judge Renu Bhatnagar allowed Chandila to visit his house from August 3 to August 5 to attend the rites performed for the deceased by his family members.
20:34  Principal undergoes polygraph test in midday meal tragedy :  The principal of the Chhapra School, where 23 children died after eating a poisonous mid-day meal a fortnight ago, was today subjected to a polygraph test to cross-check the statements made by her after arrest.     

Two officials from the CFSL in Delhi conducted a polygraph test of the principal Meena Devi, said Inspector General of Police Vinay Kumar.
20:24  Jogi may be included in Cong campaign committee :  Congress leader Ajit Jogi, who is reportedly unhappy over recent changes in the party unit in Chhattisgarh, is likely to be included in the Campaign Committee of party for state assembly polls.        

While sources close to Jogi had maintained that he was  not consulted about the changes being brought in the party unit, an AICC leader maintained he was consulted on some of the issues.
20:06  PIL seeks probe into role of Ajit Pawar in irrigation scam:   A petitioner in a PIL, seeking a CBI probe into the multi-crore irrigation scam in Maharashtra, has urged the Bombay high court to order an inquiry into the role of Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar for alleged corruption in the execution of projects.        

Activist Praveen Wategaonkar has accused Pawar of conniving with officials in irregular award of contracts for projects, causing losses to the public exchequer.
20:04  'Evict cancer patients from outside Tata hospital':  Fearing a security risk to the renowned Tata Memorial hospital in central Mumbai, city police have asked the civic body to evict cancer patients and their relatives staying in makeshifts on the pavement adjoining the medical institution.        

Security around the hospital in Parel has also been stepped up, after several people with suspicious movements were seen among beggars, cancer patients and their relatives waiting outside the medical institution, police said.
20:03  RBI to come out with more measures to rein in NPA: Subbarao:  Concerned over rising bad loans, the Reserve Bank today said it will take more measures to check non-performing assets of public sector banks.        

"We are going to put in more measures to see that the NPA level is controlled across the asset quality of banks. It is very very important for credit to continue to go to productive sectors," RBI Governor D Subbarao said.
20:02  Andhra DGP warns strict action against vandals :  Andhra Pradesh DGP V Dinesh Reddy today said that instances like vandalism of statues of national leaders -- during agitations for the united state -- will be dealt with sternly.        

Referring to the ongoing protests by supporters of united Andhra Pradesh against the creation of Telangana in Seemandhra (Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema) regions, the DGP said that no one can infringe on the rights of individuals and create lawlessness.
20:01  SC pulls up Centre for not being serious in 2G spectrum case:  The Supreme Court today pulled up the Centre for "not being serious" in the 2G spectrum matter after no law officer appeared on its behalf.       

"It is unfortunate that the Union of India is not serious in the matter and that is why nobody is appearing. They think it is a matter between CBI and the petitioners," a bench comprising justices G S Singhvi and K S Radhakrishnan said during the hearing concerning the Aircel-Maxis deal.
19:59  Pakistan: Blasphemy accused Aasia Bibi shifted:  After the Taliban freed nearly 250 prisoners in a brazen jailbreak in Dera Ismail Khan, Pakistani authorities have shifted a Christian woman accused of blasphemy to a high-security prison in Punjab province.       

Aasia Bibi was shifted to the women's prison at Multan in southern Punjab amid high security on Wednesday, The Express Tribune newspaper quoted its sources as saying today.
19:58  GJM calls for indefinite bandh in Darjeeling :  Reversing its decision within hours after the arrival of central forces in the hills, the GJM today said it took a 'hard decision' for an indefinite bandh in Darjeeling from Saturday to demand a Gorkhaland state, on the lines of Telangana.        

Accusing the West Bengal government of trying to'crush a democratic movement', GJM leader Harka Bahadur Chhetri said, "We had to take a hard stand."
19:57  Maharashtra announces Rs 1,934 cr special package for Vidarbha:  Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan today announced a special package of Rs 1934.50 crore for Vidarbha, which has witnessed wide-spread devastation of crops and property due to heavy rains.        

Chavan, however, did not make any comment on the declaration of "wet drought" in the region, as demanded by the ruling and opposition members.        

The chief minister made the announcement in the state legislative assembly while replying to a discussion on Vidarbha rains, initiated by Congress MLA Vijay Wadettiwar, under Rule 293 of the House.
19:56  Pak High Commissioner bats for greater coperation with India:  Pakistani High Commissioner to India Salman Bashir today emphasised on the need for greater cooperation between the two neighbouring countries.        

Bashir, delivering a lecture at a private university in Sonepat, spoke about Pakistan's aspirations for peace and progress, democratic polity, and the vision of shared development of South Asia.        

The High Commissioner also highlighted the good neighbourhood policy and the efforts to reach out to India in this regard.
19:55  Karunanidhi opposes petrol price hike :  DMK chief M Karunanidhi today opposed the rise in fuel prices which came into effect since Wednesday night and asked whether the Centre was aware of the chain reaction it would create.       

"I wonder whether those in power in the Centre, who repeatedly hike the prices of petrol and diesel, are aware of the chain reaction it will create. This is the fifth hike in the last eight weeks," he said.
18:28  Mamata tells Mukesh Ambani: Your hope is Bengal, I'm here because Mumbai is my hope :  TMC MP Derek O'Brien's rapturous tweets on boss Mamata Banerjee's meet with industry heads in Mumbai: Mukesh Ambani speaking at Mamata meet: 48 hrs after a big election victory you are here in the business capital.That means you mean business."

Mamata says, "Your hope is Bengal, I am here because Mumbai is my hope."

At the meet are Mukesh Ambani, Uday Kotak, Adi Godrej, Sajjan Jindal, Yogi Deveshwar, Chanda Kochhar.

The Mumbai summit is coming at a time Mamata has secured a resounding mandate in the rural polls.

Here's a video of Didi's speech at the Bengal Leads business summit last year. (Expect more mashups from the Mumbai meet on now)   Watch 
18:10  Patience! Will listen to demands for separate states: Shinde:  As violence erupted in some parts of the country demanding separate states, the government today appealed for peace saying it was ready to listen "carefully" to everyone's grievances.

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, however, ruled out the formation of a Second States Reorganisation Commission to consider the demands for separate statehood and made it clear that no commitment has been given to any organisation for creating any Union Territory.

It will be a year, this month, that Shinde took over as the home minister from P Chidambaram.
18:04  MNS will not derail Chennai Express:   The MNS has withdrawn its threat of stopping the release of Shah Rukh Khan starrer Chennai Express after film's director Rohit Shetty met MNS chief Raj Thackeray.

The party's film unit was unhappy with reports that the film's prime slots in statewide single cinemas were going to affect the screening of some Marathi movies. They had threatened to tear the posters and stop the screening on August 9.
17:55  LIVE! US intel leaker Snowden leaves Moscow airport, Russia grants 1-yr asylum:  So, NSA Leaker Edward Snowden, finally gets to leave  Sheremetyevo Airport. He has been granted asylum in Russia for one year, his lawyer says. Snowden had feared that he wouldn't be granted a fair trial if he returned to the United States.

President Obama had said that while he is concerned about Edward Snowden and wants to bring the NSA leaker back to America, he's not interested in "wheeling and dealing and trading" to get him extradited.

The president also said he wouldn't be "scrambling military jets to go after a 29-year-old hacker."  Snowden turned 30 in June.
17:39  US intel leaker Snowden leaves Moscow airport, gets asylum in Russia:  US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden leaves Moscow airport, his lawyer tells the BBC. His lawyer he has documents allowing him to leave the airport and acquire refugee status in Russia.

Earlier today, Snowden's father said that he was grateful to President Vladimir Putin and his government for protecting his son.
17:32  Mamata meets Mumbai Inc:  TMC MP Derek O'Brien: Bengal CM meet with industrialists gets underway. Mamata magic in Maximum City.

West Bengal Chief minister Mamata Banerjee is in Mumbai for an investors' summit, with her government pinning hopes on the possibility of interactions with Mukesh Ambani.Sources in Bengal said they were hoping that the Reliance Industries Ltd chairman would attend the summit and meet the chief minister later at the Maharashtra government's Sahyadri Guest House on Malabar Hill. Mamata is staying at the guest house.
17:24  Whitehall prepared Queen's speech for third world war:  Britain Queen's address to the nation on likelihood of nuclear strikes drawn up following bellicose rhetoric from Soviet Union. Read
17:19  Rebuilding lives in Uttarakhand :  The unprecedented rainfall in Uttarakhand last month, which wreaked havoc across the region, making rivers overflow and setting off massive landslides, killed almost 10,000 people. This is the story of the survivors, a month after life as they knew it, ended. Read
17:09  Rolling Stone 'Boston Bomber' Issue Is a Hit on Newsstands:  Not surprisingly, Rolling Stone's 'Boston Bomber' issue, which got a rash of bad publicity, doesn't seem to have hurt newsstand sales. Read
16:54  Indian Newspaper Society gives nod to 49 percent FDI in print media:  The executive committee of the Indian Newspaper Society has passed a proposal to increase Foreign Direct Investment in print media from 26 per cent to 49 per cent.

The INS will recommend of 49 percent FDI in print through the Foreign Investment Promotion Board route to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

The government will now need the nod of the Press Council of India to give its go-ahead. The print media business in India has grown exponentially in the last few decades and the prospects of further growth in the coming years are enormous.
16:42  AP minister resigns over state bifurcation:   Andhra Pradesh Minister for Infrastructure and Investment Ganta Srinivasa Rao today resigned from his post in the backdrop of mounting protests across Andhra-Rayalaseema regions against the Congress-led UPA Government's decision to bifurcate the state.

Some other ministers from Andhra-Rayalaseema will meet Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy late in the evening and tender their resignations while Congress MLCs and MLAs from the regions will put in their papers in the evening, minister T G Venkatesh said.
16:39  MNS threatens to derail Chennai Express release:  The MNS Wednesday threatened to disrupt the release of the Shah Rukh Khan-Deepika Padukone starrer 'Chennai Express'.

The party's film unit is upset over reports that the Rohit Shetty-directed movie has demanded prime slots in single cinemas across the state at the expense of some Marathi movies that are being screened.

"If the producers of 'Chennai Express' attempt to dislodge any of the ongoing or forthcoming Marathi movies, we shall not tolerate it and deal with it in MNS style," warned Maharashtra Navnirman Chitrapat Karmachari Sena (film wing) chief Amey Khopkar.

He specifically referred to the hit Marathi movie 'Duniyadari', running to full houses since July 19 in single screen cinemas in non-metro cities and small towns.
16:31  Telangana Bill won't be tabled in monsoon session of Parliament:  While on statehood and the like, Home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde says the Telangana statehood bill will not be tabled in Parliament in the upcoming monsoon session, but the government will try and form the state in six months.  
16:25  Maharashtra CM: De's Mumbai statehood comment frivolous, NO separation!:   Here's what making a mountain out of a molehill means.

Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan reacts to author, columnist, socialite, Shobhaa De's tweet suggesting the separation of Mumbai from Maharashtra. Chavan says De's statement is "frivolous and state will remain united. Neither Mumbai nor Vidharbha will be separated from Maharashtra," he said today.

Yesterday, De tweeted: "Maharashtra and Mumbai? Why not? Mumbai has always fancied itself as an independent entity, anyway. This game has countless possibilities."
16:17  Kerry takes tough line on Taliban talks, drone attacks:  The US will continue its fight against the Taliban while seeking a political solution to the Afghan imbroglio, Secretary of State John Kerry said today even as he rejected Pakistan's concerns on American drone strikes.

"Dialogue and military strategy (to combat terror) will continue...I do not agree that there is a lack of synchronisation between the two," Kerry told a joint news conference with National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz after intensive meetings with Pakistan's top leadership.
16:01  Uttarakhand effect: Kailash Mansarovar Yatra cancelled :  The government today cancelled the Kailash Manasarovar Yatra after the disruption of roads, bridges and tracks along the route due to the floods in Uttarakhand.   

"In the interest of safety and security of the yatris it has been decided to further cancel all remaining batches 15-18 of the Yatra-2013," the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.   

A total of 18 batches of pilgrims were scheduled to have a glimpse of Mount Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva, and take a bath in the sacred Manasarovar lake.
15:48  Why Ryanair's charge for checked-in luggage is BAD news for you :  Checking in a bag on Ryanair - which this summer costs anything from UK Pound 25 to UK Pound 160 for a one-way flight - could soar still higher. Read

In May, this year, Air India lowered the free baggage allowance from 20 to 15 kgs on the domestic sector and start charging a flat rate of about Rs 200-250 per kilo on excess baggage.

This follows a Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) circular last week allowing the airlines to charge fees for 'unbundled services' like check-in baggage, preferential seats, meals, snacks or drink (barring drinking water) and sports and musical instruments on their domestic flights.

So far, there is no charge for checked-in luggage within weight limits, but given Ryanair's success story in increasingly competitive skies, it may only be a matter of time before Indian carriers adopt it.
- See more at: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/air-india-to-slash-free-baggage-allowance-charge-more/1112169/#sthash.PUB576Si.dpuf

Air India would lower the free baggage allowance from 20 to 15 kgs on the domestic sector and start charging a flat rate of about Rs 200-250 per kilo on excess baggage from next week, airline sources said today.

This follows a Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) circular last week allowing the airlines to charge fees for 'unbundled services' like check-in baggage, preferential seats, meals, snacks or drink (barring drinking water) and sports and musical instruments on their domestic flights.

- See more at: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/air-india-to-slash-free-baggage-allowance-charge-more/1112169/#sthash.PUB576Si.dpuf
15:35  India's leading English newspaper gets a torn apart in the Huffpost. Read
15:08  Actor in a tractor:  Mammootty takes up farming in a battle against chemical fertilisers. Read
15:04  Swedish serial killer who raped and ate his victims to be freed he made it all up:   He was once Sweden's most infamous serial killer, a self-confessed cannibal who claimed to have murdered 30 people. But Sture Bergwall could soon be freed from a high-security psychiatric unit after prosecutors dropped the last charge against a man they now accept was a fantasist. Read
14:49  4 militants killed in J-K:  Four heavily-armed militants were killed in a three-day counter-infiltration operation launched by Army along the Line of Control in Handwara area of north Kashmir, an Army official said today. Two Army soldiers were also injured in the operation.
14:40  Registration nixed for Bangladesh's Jamaat-e-Islami party :   Just in: Bangladesh High Court cancels registration of right-wing Jamaat-e-Islami party. A decision scrapping Jamaat's political registration could trigger fresh protests in the politically volatile country, already reeling from the deadliest violence in its history over war crime verdicts passed on Jamaat's top leadership.
14:21  Flat where Neeraj Grover was hacked to death up for sale :  The Bombay High Court has allowed the owner of the flat, in which TV executive Neeraj Grover was found murdered five years ago, to sell the property.

The flat, located in Dheeraj Solitaire in suburban Malad, was rented out to Kannada actor Maria Susairaj when the murder of Grover took place.

While Maria was convicted for destruction of evidence in June 2011, her boyfriend and Navy officer Emile Jerome was held guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and sentenced to ten years' rigorous imprisonment.

The police had sealed the flat after the murder. At the relevant time, the trial court had asked its owner Shivani Attri not to sell it or create any third party rights.

She then moved the High Court which allowed her in December last year to give the house on rent but restrained from selling the property without its permission.

Attri recently urged the court to allow her to sell the flat as the investigation in the case was over and the accused had been convicted. Her plea was granted yesterday. 
14:16  Ongole likely to be new capital of Andhra Pradesh:  While Hyderabad is destined to become the permanent capital of Telangana state, Ongole, located about 300 km east of Hyderabad in Prakasam district, could emerge as the next capital of the reconstituted state of Andhra Pradesh. Read
14:08  India's moon mission stuck :  India's second mission to Moon appears headed for a prolonged delay following uncertainty over availability of lander from Russia even as the 'desi' rocket to launch the space odyssey would take time to become operational.

The ambitious Chandrayaan-2 project seems to be in a limbo with both Indian and Russian sides beset with their own space technology-related issues, pushing the joint moon exploration mission, already hit by time overruns, to the back-burner.
14:07  The grandmother with faith in Indian stocks:  At a time when individuals in India are disenchanted with the stock market, Mumbai resident Ashalata Maheshwari, 77 years old, is a rare champion for stocks. Read
13:59  Going to Uruguay for a holiday? :   Uruguay votes to create world's first national legal marijuana market. Read
13:49  Delhi police withdraws 'teach him how to chop an onion' ad:  The Delhi Police has sparked a controversy after an advertisement, which was meant to be a message to keep street children away from criminal activists was slammed all over. The Delhi Police has now withdrawn the ad, following opposition by child activists over its content and presentation.

Recalling the advertisement, the Delhi Police has issued a statement saying, "The advertisement was given with good intention. We through our Yuva scheme give vocational training (especially in hotel management) to a number of street children. We regret if this ad has hurt the people's sentiments."
13:28  So, what's so secure about the food security bill?:  The proposed food security bill makes false promises. The need is to directly address problems of drinking water availability, sanitation, maternal health and childcare. Read
13:23  Silence of the middle class:  In Bihar, more than 20 children died after consuming a midday meal. One would have expected larges-cale protests, anger, demands. But the incident has been greeted by an eerie silence. Why didn't the middle clas raise its voice in protest against the deaths? Read
13:21  BJP demands bill on Telangana in Parliament's Monsoon Session:   An all party-meeting to discuss legislative business in Parliament's Monsoon Session ended a while ago. The meeting saw a fierce debate on the issue of Telangana with BJP demanding a bill be brought on it in this session and some other parties fearing repercussions of the decision in other states.

The meeting also saw a near unanimity among parties on taking corrective measures to ensure that politicians are not barred from contesting polls due to politics of vendetta in the light of a recent court judgement that debars them from fighting elections if they were in jail or in police custody.
13:15  IAS officer Durga did NOT demolish mosque wall: DM's report:  Meanwhile, the District Magistrate of Gautam Budh Nagar has said in a report submitted to the Uttar Pradesh government that IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal did not demolish any wall.

The state government suspended Nagpal for "demolishing" the wall of a mosque in Gautam Budh Nagar expressing fears that the same could have led to communal tension.

The suspension came days after Nagpal took on the powerful sand mafia in Noida, seizing lorries and imposing penalties.

The SP now wants the DM to be suspended as well and stronger action taken against the IAS officer. "She should be punished more," a party spokesperson said.
13:10  Live! Akhilesh: IAS Durga's suspension justified :   UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav has defended his government's action against IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal. "Action wasn't taken against her for her stand against the sand mafia. She ordered the demolition of a wall around a mosque, built by a Muslim family, which was wrong and unacceptable. She manhandled a potentially communally sensitive situation and the government did the right thing by suspending her," said Akhilesh.

28-year-old Durga Shakti Nagpal, a 2009-batch IAS officer from Punjab cadre, posted as Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Gautam Budh Nagar, was suspended ostensibly for ordering demolition of wall of a mosque without following the legal process.

The IAS association has conveyed its serious concerns to the officiating chief secretary and demanded that the suspension order be immediately withdrawn.
12:50  Almora SDM swept away in Mandakini river:  Almora Sub-Divisional Magistrate Ajay Arora who was on duty in Kedarnath in Rudraprayag district got swept away in the Mandakini river on Wednesday. Read
12:48  Convincing, but flawed win in Bengal:  Two years after the Trinamool Congress swept into Writers' Building in Kolkata, it has seized control of 13 of the 17 zilla parishads, and secured over half the seats in the two lower tiers of the panchayats, breaking the Left Front's hold over rural West Bengal. Read
12:15  SC: Aspects in Niira Radia tapes uncomfortable, require probe:  The Supreme Court has directed the Income Tax department to place before it the original record authorising the tapping of Niira Radia's phone. The SC has also pulled up the IT department and the CBI for not taking action on the basis of information they received from Radia's tapped telephone conversations.

Radia's phones were put under surveillance by the Income Tax department after the finance ministry Nov 16, 2007, received an anonymous letter alleging that in a short span of a few years, she had built a business empire of Rs.300 crore. The complaint had also alleged foreign connections of Radia.

The Income Tax department put Radia's phone under surveillance thrice for 60 days each between 2008-09. More

12:11  IAS Durga deserves harsher punishment: SP :  Durga Shakti Nagpal, a senior IAS officer in Uttar Pradesh, is not guilty of endangering communal harmony by ordering the demolition of the wall of a mosque, a report says, demolishing the argument offered by the state government for her suspension last week. Read
12:00  Centre stoking trouble in Bengal, talking to Gorkha leaders: TMC :   TMC attacks Centre over its talks with Gorkha leaders, accuses it of stoking trouble in West Bengal by bypassing state government. State chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday pilloried the centre for pushing through the Telengana statehood before the Lok Sabha elections for a few extra seats.

She said, "The centre must remember that it has a role in maintaining the peace in Darjeeling Hills. I have got specific information that some union ministers individually met Gurung (GJM president Bimal Gurung) and asked to start a fresh movement on the Gorkhaland issue.

"They also promised Gurung that that if not a separate state, they would try their best for union territory status for Darjeeling. I have decided to write to the Prime Minister and ask him whether it was responsible behaviour on part of the central ministers," said Mamata.
11:49  New dawn for Telangana:  The Congress Working Committee's historic resolution to create India's 29th State -- Telangana -- by partitioning Andhra Pradesh redeems a pledge the party made to the people of the region on the night of December 9, 2009. Read

Also see: What Sonia Gandhi told Congress lawmakers hours before Telangana announcement
11:41  India's new foreign secy says immediate neighbours are priority:   Sujatha Singh, who has taken over as Foreign Secretary, in her first statement to the media, says, "India will hold talks with the new Pakistan government and pick up threads from where we left off with the previous government. My immediate priority would be our neighbours.That is where our immediate interest lies," she said. 
11:32  Zee Group's Subhash Chandra, two editors named as accused in extortion case:  Zee Group chairman Subhash Chandra and Zee editors Sudhir Chaudhary and Samir Ahluwalia were named as accused and chargesheeted in a lower court in connection with the alleged Rs 100 crore extortion bid from Congress MP Naveen Jindal's firm, Jindal Steeland Power Limited. Read
11:26  Mamata is in Mumbai:  West Bengal Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has reached Mumbai for an investors' summit tomorrow, with her government pinning hopes on the possibility of interactions with Mukesh Ambani. Read
11:19  Presidents gift score: 74 in debut year:  The Chinese came with a chariot. The French arrived with a metal lion. Pakistan sent two carpets. And Sri Lanka dished up a dinner set. Pranab Mukherjee, who recently celebrated his first anniversary at Rashtrapati Bhavan, has received 74 gifts from international delegates since becoming the country's constitutional head in July last year. Read
11:13  She used me, I am feeling cheated, JNU attacker wrote in a four-page note:  Update on horrific suicide at the JNU campus, yesterday.

A four-page note written by JNU student Aakash Kumar was recovered from the classroom where he assaulted his classmate Roshni before killing himself.

"We became friends on the day we took admission. I did everything for her, but I feel she used me. I feel cheated. She used to make fun of me. There was a lot between us and we were close friends. Even our friends will vouch for it. However, ego issues had cropped up between us. She overlooked the fact that we had known each other for two years," the note reads.

More
11:05  Sujata Singh takes charge as foreign secretary:  Sujatha Singh takes charge as the new Foreign Secretary of India. The 1976 batch Indian Foreign Service officer will have a fixed tenure of two years. Singh, 59, was earlier ambassador to Germany. She succeeds Ranjan Mathai. Her visit will be to Bhutan.
11:00  Kunda ka gunda Raja Bhaiyya's truth test negative; CBI clean chit likely:  The polygraph test on former UP minister Raja Bhaiyya is negative, which in effect means that the CBI is likely to give Raghuraj Pratap Singh a clean chit in the murder case of Kunda Deputy Superintendent of Police Zia-ul-Haque. The CBI is expected to submit its probe report along with the results of a polygraph test done on Raja Bhaiya in a court in Lucknow today.

Haque's wife Parveen Azad had accused Raja Bhaiya of being involved in the murder case. Raja Bhaiya, who has a lengthy criminal record, had denied the allegations against him, though he was forced to resign as Minister of Food and Civil Supplies from the Akhilesh Yadav government.

Haque was killed on March 2 in Pratapgarh district where he had gone to probe a village headman's murder. An angry mob reportedly cornered him, and eight policemen who were with him allegedly abandoned him. Three bullets were fired - one killed Haque; the other two killed headman Nanhe Yadav's brother. -- NDTV
10:43  CBI likely to give clean chit Raja Bhaiya in UP DSP's murder case:  Sources in the Central Bureau of Investigation have confirmed that they are likely to give a clean chit to former Uttar Pradesh minister Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya in the murder case of Kunda Deputy Superintendent of Police Zia-ul-Haque.

Sources say the results of Raja Bhaiya's polygraph test are negative. The CBI is expected to submit its probe report along with the results of the test in a court in Lucknow today.
09:50  Goldman Sachs downgrades India, says rupee can hit 65 to dollar:  NDTV reports: Global investment bank Goldman Sachs has downgraded India to "underweight" saying growth recovery remains elusive.

"Recent activity data in the second quarter of 2013 has been sluggish with no signs of a pick-up in investment demand... Against a backdrop of lower growth, tighter liquidity and rising macro vulnerabilities, we downgrade India to underweight," Goldman Sachs said in a statement.

Read the full report here

09:09  Shoba De refuses to apologise for her tweet, 'Why can't Mumbai be a separate state?':  Writer Shobha De, who is under fire from political parties in Maharashtra for her tweet, refused to apologise. She tweeted after the Congress announced the decision to create a new Telangana state, "Maharashtra and Mumbai??? Why not? Mumbai has always fancied itself as an independent entity, anyway. This game has countless possibilities."

De told NDTV that her tweet was satirical and that she saw no reason to apologise for it. "What I have said is not offensive. It was in the context of Telangana saying that what is happening in Andhra Pradesh could also happen in any other state. It is a political maneuver. I have at no stage recommended, endorsed or suggested that Maharashtra should separate from Mumbai," she said. 
09:01  TRS to suspend MP Vijayashanti for anti-party activities:   Telangana Rashtra Samithi has decided to suspend its member of Parliament from Medak, M Vijayashanti for indulging in anti-party activities.

TRS President K Chandrashekhar Rao has taken a decision to this effect as an unanimous opinion expressed by the party politburo, TRS sources said.

The party has alleged that Vijayashanti had resorted to anti-party activities earlier too, but it has taken the decision to suspend her now.
08:38  Kerry in Pak: Terror havens, Indo-Pak ties to figure in talks:  United States Secretary of State John Kerry, will raise the issue of continued terrorist safe havens in border areas of Pakistan, during his meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, a senior US official said.   

Kerry is on his maiden trip to Pakistan and is scheduled to meet President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and Army Chief Kayani today during his day long hectic deliberations in Islamabad in which India-Pak ties, Afghan peace talks, besides economic issues is expected to figure prominently, the official added. "We will continue to talk about the issues of cross-border militancy and as we have stated in the past the reality thatsafe havens for extremist groups clearly threaten our interests, our allies in the region, and most of all really Sharif's own ability to execute on his reform agenda andprovide greater economic stability," said the senior administration official.
04:05  Berlusconi lawyers ask supreme court to acquit him of tax fraud:  Lawyers for Silvio Berlusconi asked the supreme court on Wednesday to throw out a tax fraud conviction against the former prime minister in a case that could decide not only his future but that of Italy's fragile coalition government.

The Court of Cassation heard more than three hours of arguments from Berlusconi's two lawyers challenging the verdict of a lower appeals court which sentenced him to jail and a ban from public office for the fraudulent purchase of broadcasting rights by his Mediaset television empire.
03:58  Vote rigging, fraud allegations overshadow Zimbabwe vote:  Millions of Zimbabweans are voting in a tense election pitting the octogenarian president against his archrival, the prime minister. Soon after polls opened, the opposition complained about voting irregularities.   

It did not take long for Zimbabwe's opposition to dispute the nation's hotly contested presidential election.
03:12  Egypt's cabinet orders police to end pro-Morsi sit-ins:  Egypt's military-backed government has ordered police to end sit-ins by supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in the capital Cairo.

"The cabinet has decided to take all measures necessary to confront these risks and put an end to them," an official said in a televised statement.

The statement termed the continued rallies "a national security threat".
02:59  Jihadist hold 200 Syria Kurds hostage: NGO:  Jihadist groups linked to Al-Qaeda have taken hostage around 200 Kurdish civilians after violent clashes with Kurdish fighters in two villages of eastern Syria, a monitoring group said. 

"Fighters of Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) have seized control of Tall Aren village in Aleppo province and are laying siege to another village nearby, Tall Hassel," said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
02:56  Helicopter with UN personnel crashes in Ethiopia:  Officials say a helicopter carrying UN personnel aboard has crash-landed in Ethiopia and that some of them were injured. 

Dina Mufti, the spokesman for Ethiopia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told The Associated Press that the helicopter crashed today in the town of Debre Zeit, about 50 kilometers outside Addis Ababa.
01:42  Morsy holds key to Egypt's future:  For the large numbers of Egyptians protesting in the heat while starving during the Ramadan month of fasting, Mohamed Morsy is the legitimate president of Egypt. 

And the violent and deadly clashes between security forces and protesters in Cairo will continue and many more lives will be lost unless we recognize and address this basic grievance.

The protesters are being led by the Muslim Brotherhood. They will not abandon mass street protests, their "comfort zone" as they have said. Thousands have been injured in the past three weeks and almost a 100 people killed. Egypt's economy will continue to tank, and political instability will haunt this ancient land. So what to do?

Read more here
01:10  Indian HC says peace talks with Pak to start soon:  The Indian High Commissioner designate to Pakistan, TCA Raghavan, today hoped that the peace process between the two countries will resume soon. 

Talking to reporters after the Iftar dinner hosted by acting Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay here, he said: "We hope that the dialogue process will start very soon." 

He said that the two prime ministers were expected to meet on the sidelines of UN annual summit in September, but "the time and date has not been decided as yet".
01:10  Relationship with Pakistan extremely important: US:  America's relationship with Pakistan is extremely important to national security interest, the White House said today as Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Islamabad to hold talks with the new civilian leadership. 

"Our relationship with Pakistan is extremely important to America's national security interests," White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, told reporters at his daily news conference.
00:09  Snowden's father says FBI asked him to visit his son:  The father of US fugitive Edward Snowden has said the FBI asked him to travel to Moscow and see his son, but adds that he wants more details.

Lon Snowden said he had been asked several weeks ago about Edward, who is sought by the US for leaking details of electronic surveillance programmes.

However, he wants to know the FBI's intentions, he told Russian state TV.
00:08  Civilian casualties in Afghanistan rise as US prepares pullout:  The number of civilians killed or injured in Afghanistan rose by 23 percent in the first six months of 2013, according to a United Nations report on civilian casualties, reversing a decline last year and signaling the challenge Afghan forces face as they take over all combat duties from American soldiers.

The Taliban continued to cause the majority of casualties, stepping up attacks this year through the indiscriminate use of roadside bombs and suicide attacks in major population centers, according to the report, released on Wednesday by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
00:06  German magnate Berthold Beitz who saved Jews in WWII dies:  A leading German industrialist who saved hundreds of Jews during World War II, has died aged 99, his company said.

Berthold Beitz headed the ThyssenKrupp corporation, one of the world's largest steel producers. He passed away on Tuesday, the firm said in a statement.

Mr Beitz was internationally recognised for saving Jews in occupied Poland from being transferred to Nazi death camps.

Read more here
00:03  Top headlines of the day:  
Three Sikhs convicted of attacking Lt Gen Brar

A 'barat' of 100 Taliban behind mass jailbreak in Pakistan

Now, Mayawati demands for splitting UP in 4 parts

Charges to be framed against Justice Nirmal Yadav

Digvijaya, Shatrughan are best left ignored: Uma Bharti

Telangana demand met, Congress eyes merger with TRS

Why the formation of Telangana is Congress's 'great gamble'

10 things you must know about Telangana

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