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Live! Taliban's peace overtures good news, says Kerry

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June 18, 2013

22:54  Live! Taliban's peace overtures good news, says Kerry:  

The Taliban opening its political office in Doha and agreeing to hold talks with the United States and the government of Afghanistan is good news, US Secretary of State John Kerry, said today.        


"It is good news. We are very pleased with what is taking place," Kerry told reporters in a brief comment on the latest announcement coming from the Taliban in Doha.        


This was the first official comment coming from the top US diplomat after Taliban made its announcement in Doha and senior administration officials confirmed in Washington that the US would be holding direct talks with the Taliban in the next few days.        


Kerry, however, made no other comment on the latest development, which officials described as the first significant step towards achieving the goal of long term peace in the region. The Taliban in its statement said, they oppose the use of Afghan soil to threaten other countries; and that they support an Afghan peace process.

22:23  Full statement of Talibans peace talks overtures:  Here's the full statement on Afghanistan peace talks read out in English by an unnamed Taliban spokesman at a news conference in Qatar, as transcribed by the Guardian.
22:18  NSA director: Surveillance programs foiled 50 terror plots:   National Security Agency Director Keith Alexander told a House committee Tuesday that 50 terror threats in 20 countries have been disrupted with the assistance of two secret surveillance programs that were recently disclosed by former defense contractor Edward Snowden.

At least 10 of the plots targeted the U.S. homeland, Alexander told the House Intelligence Committee, including a plot to bomb the New York Stock Exchange.
21:47  G8 calls for Syria peace conference as soon as possible:  G8 leaders today strongly endorsed calls for a peace conference to be held in Geneva on the Syria conflict "as soon as possible". 

At the end of a summit in Northern Ireland, the leaders also called for an agreement on a Syrian transitional government "formed by mutual consent", and said the military and security services "must be preserved and restored" in a future set-up. 

The G8, including President Bashar al-Assad's key ally Russia, said it was deeply concerned by the "growing threat" from terrorism and extremism in Syria.
21:36  US to relaunch peace talks with Taliban:   After more than a decade of war in Afghanistan, and nearly three years of sputtering and unsuccessful attempts at talks, the United States will open formal negotiations with the Taliban this week aimed at ending insurgent attacks, officials said Tuesday.

The new dialogue, with a Taliban delegation that U.S. officials said has been authorized by Taliban leader Mohammed Omar, will begin Thursday in Doha, the Qatari capital. The United States will be represented by senior State Department and White House officials.

Read more here
21:31  FinMin proposes sweeping changes in FDI regime:  Seeking to promote India as an investment destination, the Finance Ministry today proposed sweeping changes in the FDI regime, favouring higher sectoral caps in almost all sectors including defence, multi-brand retail and telecom.

Virtually doing away with the 26 per cent ceiling, a committee headed by Economic Affairs Secretary Arvind Mayaram recommended that Foreign Direct Investment limit be raised to 49 per cent in almost all sectors through automatic route.
21:20  Britain charges trader over Libor scandal:  A former UBS and Citigroup trader today became the first person to be charged by British authorities in the probe into last year's Libor rate manipulation scandal that shook the global banking sector. 

British citizen Tom Hayes has been charged with eight counts of conspiracy to defraud, and will appear before Westminster Magistrates' Court in London on Thursday. 

"Tom Hayes attended Bishopsgate police station this morning where he was charged by City of London police with eight counts of fraud," the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said in a statement here today.
21:19  China bans private adoption of abandoned babies:  China has banned individuals and groups from secretly adopting abandoned infants, days after an unwed mother flushed her newborn child in a toilet sewer pipe. 

An official circular from multiple Chinese government departments here has outlined specific instructions on transferring, settling and treating abandoned infants, requiring local residential committees and police when an abandoned child is found.
20:54  Turkey PM claims victory after protest crackdown:  Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan today claimed victory over anti-government protesters after a heavy crackdown on the movement, as police raided homes and arrested dozens of demonstrators to stamp out nearly three weeks of unrest. 

After a weekend of heavy clashes sparked by the eviction of protesters from Istanbul's Gezi Park, the focal point of the protests, demonstrators struggled to regroup and police have since fought only sporadic battles with smaller groups of demonstrators across the country.
20:28  PM speaks to Uttarakhand CM on floods issue:  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaks to Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna and directs all central agencies to help flood-hit state in rescue and relief.
20:23  Rain fury: 50 cops missing in Kedarnath, 73,000 pilgrims stranded:  More than 40 policemen, who were duty near the Kedarnath shrine, are missing as incessant rains continued to batter Uttarakhand. Ten choppers have been been deployed by the Indian Air Force in Uttarakhand where around 73,000 people including thousands of pilgrims are stranded.

Pic credit: Gotham3/Twitter
19:13   IB officer denies role in Ishrat Jahan encounter case:  Vicky Nanjappa reports: Special Director of the Intelligence Bureau, Rajinder Kumar, has denied any involvement in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case.

Kumar, who was questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation, said the allegation that he helped plan the encounter was false.The Gujarat high court has directed the CBI to conclude its probe into the alleged fake encounter by July 4.
18:37  Sonia tells Shinde to help flood-devastated Uttarakhand, Himachal:  Sonia Gandhi directs the chief ministers of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh to provide immediate relief to the victims of the floods. Sonia has also spoke to home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde to provide all possible relief to the both the states.

Toll so far: 58 people have died in the Uttarakhand floods, with over 70,000 tourists and pilgrims stranded near Haridwar. So far 700 people have been rescued from Kedarnath. The temple of Kedranath remains intact though the roads and villages around it have been inundated with the floodwaters.
Shinde has spoken to Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna and assured Central assistance.
18:27  Narendra Modi patches up with estranged wife :   Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is on Cloud 9 these days. While the Gujarat strongman is enjoying a possible-softening of stance by West, presumably as a result of his name cropping up every now and then for top post in the BJP, the former RSS pracharak is also reportedly enjoying life on personal front as well. The three-time Gujarat chief minister has reportedly patched-up with his estranged wife and has convinced her to stay with him at his official residence. Read the April 2013 story from the Daily Bhaskar

Also read: "I am Narendra Modi's Wife"
18:21  Over a dozen helicopters deployed in U'khand, HP rescue ops:  Update on the Uttarkhand floods: More than a dozen helicopters have been deployed in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh for relief and rescue operations in the monsoon-ravaged two hill states and all stranded people are expected to be evacuated soon.

Union Home Secretary R K Singh said food, medicines and blankets were air-dropped in remote areas of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh for the flood-affected people.

"We have provided seven helicopters to Uttarakhand. The state government has also hired four private helicopters. We are providing helicopters to Himachal Pradesh. Hopefully, all stranded people will be evacuated today," Singh said.

The toll in Uttarakhand is 58 dead with over 10,000 pilgrims and tourists stuck in the area.

Pic of floodwater devastated Kedarnath tweeted by Mrityunjoy Kumar Jha
18:11  Just in: A bomb attack on a funeral procession in northwest Pakistan kills 20 people, including a legislator.
18:03  Mahendra Karma's family to get Z+ security in Chhattisgarh:  The Centre has decided to provide 'Z plus' security to the family of Congress leader Mahendra Karma, who was killed by Maoists in an attack in Chhattisgarh last month.

Under Z-plus category, the VIP concerned is covered by at least 20 personnel at any given point of time besides guards at home.

The Home Ministry has asked the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to ensure security to the family by taking the services of two companies (around 200 personnel) of the force present in and around Faraspal village in Dantewada district where Karma's family stays.
17:55  Montek gives Modi Rs 59,000 crore for annual plan:  Just in: The Planning Commission approves a Rs 59,000 crore plan for Gujarat as compared to the Rs 58,500 crore sought, says Narendra Modi. Modi is in Delhi to meet Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia to finalise the state's annual plan.
17:43  BJP to change benches as Nitish seeks confidence vote tomorrow:  Meanwhile, a day of violent clashes between the JD-U and the BJP, each blaming the other, in Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will seek a confidence vote tomorrow at a special session of the Assembly to prove his majority.

Assembly sources said though the session has been called for passing Bills or other important issues, this would be first occasion of its kind in the state in which an incumbent government has to seek confidence of the House.

Kumar, in the capacity of the Leader of the House, will move a motion seeking the vote of confidence which would be put to vote, if need be, after discussion. Arrangements were being made in the House to place BJP MLAs in the opposition bench in the changed circumstances.

After sacking 11 BJP ministers from his Cabinet, Kumar had met Governor D Y Patil on Sunday and requested him to call a special session of the Assembly.

Going by numbers, there is no threat to the Nitish Kumar government as it has the required strength.

In the 243-member House, JD(U) has 118 members, including Speaker, BJP 91, RJD 22, Congress 4, LJP and CPI one each and Independents 6.

JD(U) needs support of four more MLAs to reach the magic figure of 122. It has already got support of four Independents who had attended a JD(U) meeting yesterday where party president Sharad Yadav was also present.

Lone LJP member Zakir Hussain Khan has also voiced his support to Nitish Kumar in the event of voting as he does not want to be seen with "communal BJP".
17:35  Focus on illegal confinement, encounter, HC tells CBI:  Back to the Ishrat Jahan story...

The Gujarat HC has told the CBI to focus the probe on the illegal confinement factor in the case. To bring you up to speed, Ishrat Jahan and three others were picked up and kept in illegal confinement for three days before the encounter. A day before the encounter, Ishrat and the other three men were handed over to the Gujarat Police at Valsad toll plaza. The Gujarat police had alleged that Ishrat was part of an LeT module which was going to target Narendra Modi.

Ishrat's mother Shamima Kausar says she has been fighting the case for the last nine years and finally it will be proven that her daughter was innocent.
17:28  Just in: The Rupee hits an all-time closing low of Rs 58.77.
17:23  While on the Ishrat Jahan story, read these:

From the Hindu: Can't get away with murder. Read
Ishrat Jahan case: Questions the CBI needs to answer. Read
17:18  Gujarat HC tells CBI to complete probe in Ishrat Jahan case by July 4:  Just in: The Gujarat High Court has ordered the CBI to file the charge sheet in the Ishrat Jahan case by July 4. The court has also directed Gujarat cadre IPS officer Satish Verma to be disassociated with the case and that the focus of the probe should be on the fake encounter and the illegal confinement.

The CBI today questioned Intelligence Bureau Special Director Rajinder Kumar at a guesthouse of the Border Security Force in Gandhinagar. He has already been questioned by the CBI earlier for his alleged role in the fake encounter case in which 19-year old Ishrat Jahan was killed along with four others on June 15, 2004 by a team of Crime Branch officials on Ahmedabad's outskirts.
17:00  BJP accuses Nitish of joing hands with 'communal' Cong:  BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain today accused Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar of joining hands with the Congress. "It is sad that Nitish Kumar has joined hands with Congress that was behind several communal riots, but he is happy after PM Manmohan Singh described him a secular leader," Hussain said.
16:52  The CBI begins recording the statement of two officials from the PMO in connection with the coal blocks allocation scam also know as the 2G scam. The CBI has summoned former Coal Secretary H C Gupta as accused on Thursday in the case and will soon record the statement of TKA Nair, advisor to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in the coal blocks allocation case, says the CBI.
The CBI has also recorded the statements of PMO officials Vini Mahajan and Ashish Gupta in the case.
16:41  Bihar bandh: JD-U goons molested our party workers, rages Rudy :  General Secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Rajiv Pratap Rudy on Tuesday accused the Janata Dal (United) protesters of molesting women minority cell workers of the BJP in Patna.

Rudy said that Nitish Kumar had sent JD (U) workers to the BJP office to demonstrate which resulted in violence. "How do the JD (U) workers come few kilometers away to the BJP office is for Nitish Kumar to answer," Rudy said.

Rudy said that there is a growing frustration in Nitish Kumar as he is fully aware that " Narendra Modi is there to come, he is there in Bihar, in every street, in every village and every part of the state of Bihar."

The BJP had given a call for shutdown after JD (U) snapped ties with it following the nomination of Narendra Modi to lead its election campaign for the upcoming 2014 parliamentary elections. Both the JD (U) and BJP leaders blamed each other for the violence

Also see our 11:40 am post for what Rudy said this morning.
16:29  Parkash Singh Badal to be NDA convener?:  With the Janata Dal (United) out of the National Democratic Alliance and Sharad Yadav stepping down as the convener, the vacancy of this top assignment is being actively eyed by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, head of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and long-time ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

In fact, top-level sources in the SAD have indicated to The Hindu that Mr. Badal has been sent informal feelers and he will be taking a firm decision after consulting the party once he returns from an overseas holiday on June 22. More
16:18  What! Another Cabinet reshuffle? Mamata wants to know WHY:  West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has expressed surprise at yet another Union Cabinet reshuffle yesterday and wondered "what is the message" of this exercise.

"I am surprised to know that UPA-II has made yet another Cabinet reshuffle. So how many times, in the last four years, UPA-II Government has made reshuffles of the Cabinet?", Banerjee, the Trinamool Congress supremo and a former ally of UPA said. (She can find the answers to "how many times" here)

"After AITMC (Trinamool Congress pulled out of UPA government), how many times has the Minister for Railways changed in the last 8-9 months?", she asked. "What is the message from this Cabinet reshuffle?", she said in a facebook post last night.
16:11  Over 5000 personnel of the Army are presently deployed in various areas of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, rendering invaluable aid to distraught people reeling under the fury of nature.
15:52  PRS Legislature draws up the complete list of ministers since the Cabinet reshuffle in 2009. Have a look.
15:51  Mumbai rains: The harbor line services have been disrupted after an overhead cable snaps in Chembur, says a tweet. 
15:42  Superb! Diary of a Narendra Modi devotee. Read
15:41  'Nazi war criminal' arrested in Hungary :  Hungarian prosecutors have charged a 98-year-old man, Laszlo Csatary, with participation in Nazi war crimes.He is under arrest in Hungary, accused of assisting in the murder of 15,700 Jews during World War II. He denies the allegations. -- BBC.
15:35  New drug may reverse memory loss in Alzheimer's:  In a breakthrough, researchers have developed the first experimental drug to boost brain synapses lost in Alzheimer's disease, which may reverse memory loss. The drug created by researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, called NitroMemantine, combines two FDA-approved medicines to stop the destructive cascade of changes in the brain that destroys the connections between neurons, leading to memory loss and cognitive decline.
15:21  A tweet from the Army: An Army Column is assisting stranded people between Badrinath and Mana, Uttarakhand. Medical aid, food have been provided.
15:18  Naxals should be dealt with bullets, not talks: RSS chief:  Backing Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's elevation in the BJP, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat today said that Hindutva was the only way to bring about change in the country.

In a veiled reference to senior BJP leader L K Advani and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's opposition to Modi, Bhagwat said, "Whether somebody likes it or not, Hindutva is the only way to bring about change in the country. It is where the country's respect lies."

"We have changed leaders and agendas, nothing has worked. Politics is not the way to make India a superpower, it is only Hindutva that can do it," the RSS chief said while speaking at a Sangh's programme in Meerut.

Accusing the central government of failing on the diplomatic front, Bhagwat said, "the Country's borders are not safe. China entered into our territory and left on its own conditions, but we could not teach them a lesson."

"Pakistan is moving around scot-free after murdering Sarabjit Singh (Indian prisoner)," he said. Advocating strict action against Naxalites, the RSS chief said "they should be dealt with bullets and not through talks."
15:11  Bihar bandh: Shahnawaz, Rudy, Ravi Shankar held :  Update on the Bihar bandh: BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain tweets: I have been arrested along with Sushil Modi, Rajiv Rudy, Mangal Pandey, Ravi Shankar Prasad and other leaders and kept in Rajiv Gandhi stadium.
14:59  Indonesia forest fires choke Singapore, Malaysia :  Smoke from forest fires in Indonesia has choked neighboring Singapore and Malaysia, prompting Singaporean officials to press Jakarta for urgent action against the haze that has pushed the city-state's air pollution to the worst level in 16 years. Read
14:54  Hemingway revealed as failed KGB spy:  Notes from Stalin-era intelligence archives show 'agent Argo' as a willing recruit in 1941. So, was Argo, writer Hemmingway? Read
14:46  3 ITBF jawans, 2 cops killed in rescue ops in Uttarakhand:  Just in: Three jawans from the Indo Tibetan Border Force and two cops have been killed in rescue operations in Uttarakhand. The state continues to reel from the after-effects of heavy monsoon showers and swirling and uncontrollable flood waters.

Most rivers in the state are in spate, even as the flood victim death toll has reached over 50. Houses and buildings have collapsed, furniture is being removed from homes and roads have caved in some parts of the state.

Parts of the Rishikesh-Mana Highway near Joshimath district were reported to be in a damaged state. The Alaknanda and Mandakini Rivers are still overflowing and a bridge over the latter that allows movement towards the Kedarnath Valley is damaged.

Read more
14:25  BJP calls Bihar bandh historic, likens it to Emergency:  BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain tweets: This is a historical bandh. More than 20000 people on the streets of Patna. Such scenes not witnessed since Emergency.
14:14  Bihar shutdown: 6 injured, roads blocked, trains stopped :  At least six people were reportedly injured in a clash between activists of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) in Patna on Tuesday.

Locals media reports confirmed that several trains were also stopped and roads blocked by BJP activists, as they began a state-wide shutdown to protest what it called a betrayal by the JD(U).

The BJP-led protest is taking place to highlight the wrong step taken by the JD-U to end their 17-year-old alliance in Bihar. The day is being observed by the BJP as "Vishwasghaat Diwas".
14:13  Mamata to airlift Bong tourists stranded in rain ravaged Uttarakhand:  The West Bengal government today offered assistance to its Uttarakhand counterpart and said arrangements should be made to airlift tourists and pilgrims belonging to this state.

"I have spoken to the Uttarakhand Chief Minister. I have requested him to rescue the tourists and pilgrims from Bengal, who are stranded mainly in the Kedarnath area," West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told newspersons at the Writers Building today.

"We are making arrangements for some choppers to airlift the tourists. We have also requested the Uttarkhand government to send the tourists to Delhi, from where we will take care of these people," Banerjee said. She said that the cost would be borne by the West Bengal government.

Asked about the number of tourists from Bengal, Banerjee said though she did not have the exact figure, it could be around 1000 to 1500. More than 1700 tourists are stranded in the floods in Uttarakhand. "I am sending two of my ministers -- Madan Mitra and Rachpal Singh -- to Uttarakhand today to coordinate and arrange for the return of the tourists," the Chief Minister said.
14:07  I don't want to contest polls after 70, says Siddaramaiah:   Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah today said he does not want to contest elections after attaining the age of 70. "After five years, I will be 70 years old. I do not want to contest elections after 70 years of age," he told reporters in Bangalore.

Siddaramaiah, however, added he would continue to be in public life and politics beyond the age of 70. In a remarkable turnaround of political fortunes, Siddaramaiah, essentially a Janata Parivar man, had fulfilled his long-term ambition of becoming Chief Minister on May 13 when he was sworn in for the coveted post at the head of a Congress government.
14:03  Remote Mindset:  The Congress continues to spin the news in favour of the Gandhis, but why do TV networks let it? Read Sandeep Bhushan's report on Open magazine.
13:48  Why the BJP needs Advani more than ever:  The shock treatment that Advani administered to the BJP has simply no parallel in India's modern political history, says Sudheendra Kulkarni on Read
13:45  Ishrat Jahan case: CBI questions IB officer :  Just in: The CBI questions Intelligence Bureau Special Director Rajinder Kumar in Ishrat Jahan encounter case at its Gandhinagar office.

Last Thursday, CBI director Ranjit Sinha claimed the agency has sufficient evidence against Intelligence Bureau special director Rajendra Kumar for his alleged involvement in the 2004 encounter of Ishrat Jahan and three others. While the IB is trying to protect its officers, the CBI is no mood to buckle down. "We will act against any person involved in this case irrespective of his position,' said the CBI. The recent developments have once again raised THAT pending question: Was the encounter fake?  Read more
13:42  Pak gives Hafeez Saeed's terror group JuD Rs 61 million grant:  The government of Pakistan's Punjab province has allocated millions of rupees in its budget for fiscal 2013-14 for the largest centre of the Jamaat-ud-Dawah, considered a front for the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba.Besides a grant-in-aid of over Rs. 61 million for the JuD centre known as 'Markaz-e-Taiba', the provincial government has allocated Rs. 350 million for setting up a "Knowledge Park" at the centre and other development initiatives.
13:39  Pakistan says Kerry visit delayed because of Syria :  US Secretary of State John Kerry has been forced to delay a visit to Pakistan because of the worsening crisis in Syria, Pakistani officials said Tuesday.

The Pakistani foreign ministry said last week that Kerry would arrive in the last week of June for talks with the new government on issues including the fight against militants in the country's northwest and NATO's exit from Afghanistan. Read more
13:31  Did SRK have sex determination test for surrogate baby?:  Shah Rukh Khan is in the midst of a controversy following reports that he has gone for a pre-birth sex determination test for a third child through surrogacy. When contacted, an aide of the actor refused to respond on the issue. Read
13:24  Raja Bhaiyya agrees to polygraph test in Kunda DSP murder:  Just in: Former UP minister Raja Bhaiyya says he is ready to take a polygraph test in the triple murder case in Kunda. The court will pronounce its order on the CBI plea seeking a polygraph test.

The Central Bureau of Investigation on June 7 filed a charge sheet before the special court in the murder of Kunda DSP Zia-ul Haq without naming former minister Raja Bhaiya, who was an accused in the FIR filed by the officer's wife. CBI sources, however, clarified that probe into the alleged role of Raja Bhaiya is still open and the agency might file a supplementary chargesheet if his role surfaces at a later stage.

Haq was shot dead on March 2 in Balipur village in Kunda area of Pratapgarh district where he had gone to probe murder of village head Nanhe Yadav.

Haq's wife Parveen Azad had accused Raja Bhaiya of conspiracy after which he had to resign from the Cabinet on March 4.
13:19  Government's Gift to SBI Shareholders. Read
13:17  Writer Zahir Janmohamed on being asked to speak for a whole community and region rather than yourself. Read
12:55  The price of being a Pakistani in India: The ISI officer who never was. Read
12:25  Mixed response to BJP-sponsored bandh in Bihar:   Life was today partially hit in Bihar during a bandh called by BJP to protest against JD(U) pulling out of NDA with workers of the two parties clashing in the state capital and train services being disrupted in several places.

While shops and markets remained closed, offices and banks were open, official sources said. Due to summer vacation, educational institutions are closed.

Vehicular traffic was thin in the state capital with only a few autorickshaws plying on the main streets. BJP workers disrupted train traffic in several places.

Skirmishes between BJP and JD(U) workers took place in Patna. A report from Nalanda said that bandh supporters stopped trains at Biharsharif. Nalanda is home district of the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. The day-long Bihar bandh has been called by BJP in protest against JD(U) parting ways with it in the wake of the appointment of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as BJP's election campaign committee chief.
12:17  Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has urged JD-U workers to turn the BJP's bandh into a flop show. -- MI Khan in Patna
12:15  Modi's meet-and-greet day in Delhi: MM Joshi, Advani and now Atal:  Narendra Modi reaches Atal Behari's residence in Delhi to meet him. The  Gujarat Chief Minister today met senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi and LK Advani, his first meet-and-greet since his elevation as poll campaign chief.

"He (Modi) came to express his gratitude after being anointed as Chairman of BJP campaign committee," Joshi told media after meeting Modi. " He told me that he is including everyone in the process and will uphold this responsibility well," he added.

Modi, who is in Delhi to meet Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia to finalise the state''s annual plan, will also hold talks with party chief Rajnath Singh and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.
12:09  Why BJP and Nitish can't kiss and make up:  A political alliance must end when its survival becomes untenable. The ruling coalition in Bihar had been doomed from the time Narendra Modi became the leading light of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Nitish Kumar had no choice but to oppose Mr Modi's elevation, just as the BJP had little option other than anointing the party's most popular leader. Read the editorial on the Telegraph. 
12:08  Modi backs off Ayodhya trip :  Narendra Modi has cried off a planned visit to Ayodhya to attend an event organised by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, prompting suggestions that he does not want his "pro-development' image to be diluted by the so-called Hindutva fixtures.

12:04  Why Ms Banerjee lost it :  An 'analysis' on why West Bengal chief minister lost her temper (as is usual) during her visit to Barasat to meet the family of the rape and murdered victim. Specialists who study the human mind blamed excessive stress and an apparent inability to cope with it for Mamata Banerjee's outburst."The CM was shaking her finger and having a spat with them. This happens when a person suffers from excessive stress and is unable to cope with it,' said a senior psychoanalyst in Calcutta.  Read
11:58  'If Soniaji asks me to pick up broom and sweep, I will do it' :  In the latest example of political sycophancy, Union minister of state for agriculture and food processing Dr Charandas Mahant said on Monday that, "If Congress president Sonia Gandhi asks me to pick up a broom and sweep state Congress office in Chhattisgarh, I would do it". Read more
11:56  PM's secular remark has given me peace of mind: Nitish:  This is what Nitish Kumar said on the PM's 'secular' remark.

"The Prime Minister has said and I am (secular). His statement has given me peace," Kumar told media in Patna today. In the latest overture by the Congress to Nitish Kumar, Dr Singh on Monday described the Bihar Chief Minister as "a secular leader."

When asked if his party will seek a partnership with the Bihar Chief Minister, he responded, "In politics, there are no permanent friends or enemies; we decide as the situation evolves."

Kumar quit a 17-year alliance with the BJP on Sunday alleging that it is promoting divisive leader and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.  He also accused the saffron outfit of betraying and ignoring its own senior leaders.

For now, Nitish Kumar is not ruling out an alliance with the Congress.
11:50  BJP-JD-U have a go at each other with bamboo sticks, iron rods :'s MI Khan reporting from Patna says more than half a dozen BJP and JD-U workers were injured after they attacked each other with bamboo sticks and iron rods in the city during the bandh called by the BJP.

According to police officials in Patna, JD-U spokesperson Rajeev Ranjan and three other party leaders were injured when BJP workers attacked them.  "Violent clashes took place after BJP workers raised slogans against chief minister Nitish Kumar, while JD-U workers raised slogans against Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi," a police official said.
11:40  BJP: It is Nitish Kumar who sent JD-U goons to beat us up:  BJP workers have blocked NH-30 near Katihar. BJP spokeseperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy tells CNN IBN that Nitish Kumar had assured people that there would be no violence on the strteets. "But there is no police bandobast on the streets. This is the beginning of the end of the JD-U and Nitish Kumar. We think there is Nitish's hand in the clashes. The chief minister of a state is inciting violence! He has sent JD-U workers to the BJP office to beat them up," said Rudy.

JD-U workers maintain that it is the BJP that is betraying people by calling the bandh.

Nitish Kumar, meanwhile, has thanked the PM for calling him secular and says there is no political message in it.
11:30  Five-year-old mowed down; ex-Congress corporator's son held:  A five-year-old girl was mowed down in Mumbai by a speeding car allegedly driven by a kin of senior Congress leader Gurudas Kamat, police said today.

The mishap look place last night at suburban Goregaon near Hypercity mall. The minor, identified as Lado Gupta, was run over allegedly by the vehicle of Raunak Desai, son of former Congress corporator Sameer Desai. Desai is the nephew of the former Union Minister.

The girl died on the spot following which Raunak surrendered before Goregaon Police and was placed under arrest. A case has been registered against him under section 304 (A) of the IPC.
11:22  Himachal CM evacuated from Kinnaur, 1700 still stranded:  Monsoon fury continues in north India. Heavy rains wreaked havoc in the hill states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, leaving over 50 people dead and hundreds stranded, while several parts in Haryana were flooded after the water level of the Yamuna rose alarmingly.

Flash floods in the Ganga and its tributaries triggered by incessant rains for over 48 hours left a trail of death and devastation across Uttarakhand killing 30 people, injuring 19 and damaging 164 buildings.

In Himachal, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who was stranded in tribal Kinnaur district for nearly 60 hours due to landslides triggered by incessant
rains, was evacuated this morning even as 1700 people remained
stranded at various places. A chopper hired by the Congress party airlifted the chief minister this morning as rains abated and weather cleared and about a dozen persons, including some old and ailing persons were brought to Rampur in the state. 

In Haryana and UP, the government has asked people to evacuate from low-lying areas. The Yamuna has crossed the danger mark in New Delhi.
11:15  BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad speaking to CNN IBN says JD-U workers attacked BJP workers with sticks, but the police did not taken any action. With this clash, the BJP is 'formally' in the opposition in Bihar.  
11:09  Modi meets Advani at his residence in Delhi :  In New Delhi, Narendra Modi is meeting LK Advani at his residence. This is Modi's first visit to Advani after he was elevated as poll campaign chief of the BJP. Later in the day, Advani will meet RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. It was on Bhagwat's insistence that Advani was withdrew his resignation from party posts after the elevation of Modi as campaign chief. Modi also met senior party leader Murli Manohar Joshi, who has also been critical of Modi's elevation.
11:03  Live! JD-U, BJP workers clash in Bihar on 'Betrayal Day' :  BJP leaders in Bihar take to the streets as a part of  the Bihar Bandh. The rank and file of the BJP are observing Vishwasghat Diwas (Betrayal Day), a protest to mark the JD-U's 'betrayal' by quitting the NDA alliance.

The JD-U is unmoved by the BJP's bandh call and has called it cheap politics. JD-U President Sharad Yadav on Monday said that the party could consider coming back to the alliance if veteran BJP leader LK Advani returns at the helm of the party.

In Darbhanga, Bihar, BJP workers stop Bihar Sampark Kranti Express and the Dibrugarh-Delhi Brahmaputra Mail in Bhagalpur.

Meanwhile, in Patna, BJP-JD-U workers clash violently. Stay with us for all the updates from Patna.
10:23  Modi seeks appointment to meet Advani:   Gujarat CM Narendra Modi has sought an appointment with BJP patriarch L K Advani in Delhi today.

Advaani had resigned from all party posts after Modi was appointed the chief of the BJP's campaign committee for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

He later withdrew his resignation after the RSS intervened to end the face-off within senior leaders of the party.

Modi has already met BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi in Delhi.

Modi, who is in the national capital to participate in a meeting of the Planning Commission, may meet others party leaders too.
10:15  Nitish Kumar thanks Dr Singh:  Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has thanked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for calling him a "secular leader".

But the JD-U leader added that there was "no hidden message" in the PM's statement.
10:10  BJP calls for Bihar Bandh:  The BJP's Bihar unit has called for a bandh in the state after its alliance partner JD-U ended the 17-year-old alliance between the two parties on Sunday.

Bihar Chief Minister and JD-U leader Nitish Kumar also sacked all the BJP ministers in his Cabinet.
10:06  Yamuna crosses danger mark:  The Yamuna River has crossed the danger mark in Delhi, reports CNN-IBN.

The water level is expected to rise further.

The governments of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana have started evacuating people living in low-lying areas.
09:23  Another building collapses in Mahim:  Mahipal Soni reports from Mumbai: Heavy rains led to another building falling down on its face in Mahim, central Mumbai on Tuesday morning.

No casualties were reported when the building, located near Mahim station and suspected to be several years old, collapsed today morning.

Ten people had been killed when Altaf Manzil, another building in this central Mumbai locality, collapsed on June 10. 

Mumbai has witnessed incessant rains since the monsoon hit its shores on June 7.
09:14  I will sweep Cong's office if Sonia asks me to: Mahant:  The sycophancy of Congress leaders for the Nehru-Gandhi family knows no boundaries.

Charandas Mahant, the chief of the Congress unit in Chhattisgarh, on Monday told party workers that the orders of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi were absolute for him.

If Gandhi asked him to sweep the office, he would do so, Mahant told fellow Congressmen.

"I obey the orders and directions of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and I also obey the orders of Rahulji, and I have been obeying them, and this is an absolute example for it that if they ask me to sweep the Pradesh Congress Committee of Chhattisgarh, I will do it. For me, their orders are above all," A NDTV report quoted Mahant as saying.

Mahant had been recently appointed the chief of the Chhattisgarh's Congress unit after the entire top leadership of the party was wiped out in a Naxal attack in Bastar.
09:08  Mohan Bhagwat to meet Advani:  RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat will hold a meeting with BJP patriarch L K Advani in Delhi today.

Former party president Nitin Gadkari is also expected to attend the meeting.

Though both sides remained tight-lipped on the topic of discussion, the senior RSS and BJP leaders are expected to discuss the recent developments in the saffron party, including the elevation of Gujarat CM Narendra Modi.
09:05  No relief from rains: 40 killed in Uttaranchal:  Rains continue to play havoc in Uttaranchal, where nearly 60,000 tourists are feared stranded at various places due to the relentless monsoon downpour.

Nearly 40,000 pilgrims are feared stranded at Badrinath. 

Heavy rains and landslides have already claimed 40 lives in the hilly state.

The Centre has rushed emergency relief forces to the state. 
09:01  JD-U will reconsider decision to leave NDA if...:  The JD-U has indicated that it will reconsider its decision to walk out the BJP-led NDA if the saffron party made senior leader L K Advani the party in-charge.

JD-U on Sunday ended its 17-year-long alliance with the BJP over concerns about the elevation of controversial Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
08:59  Narendra Modi to visit Delhi today:  Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi will visit Delhi today to take part in a meeting of the Planning Commission.

This will be Modi's first visit to the national capital after he was elevated to the post of the BJP's campaign chief for the 2014 Lok Sabha election.
08:58  Us moves closer to appointing special envoy for Gitmo:  The US has appointed Cliff Sloan as the special envoy for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention centre, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki has announced.        

"This decision reflects the administration's commitment to closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay," Psaki told reporters.
08:57  The ball is in Iranian court, says US :  As the new leadership prepares to take charge in Iran, the US has said Tehran will need to take a number of steps in order to abide by its international obligations, and Washington will wait for a response from the new government.        

"There are a number of steps the leadership in Iran needs to take in order to abide by their international obligations.The P5+1 is ready to meet Iran when it's ready to respond substantively to the balanced proposal put forward in Almaty," said State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki.
03:28  Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum held in corruption probe:  

Montreal's mayor has been arrested by Quebec's anti-corruption unit on fraud charges, months after his predecessor resigned amid corruption allegations. Michael Applebaum faces 14 charges, including defrauding government.


In February, anti-corruption police raided city hall and the offices of a borough that Mr Applebaum once represented. The arrest is the latest in a string of scandals surrounding Canadian local politics.


In the neighbouring province of Ontario, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford denies allegations that he appeared in a video smoking crack cocaine.


Read the full report on BBC

03:27  Russia and US push for Syria talks:  

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Barack Obama have held talks on Syria, on the sidelines of the G8 summit in Northern Ireland.The leaders of Russia and the United States openly back rival sides in the country's two-year civil war with Russia under criticism from G8 leaders for backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.


"Our positions do not fully coincide, but we are united by the common intention to end the violence and to stop the number of victims increasing in Syria," Putin said.


Read the full report on Al Jazeera

02:33  Live! Turkish govt 'may use army' to end protests:  

The Turkish government has said it could use the army to end nearly three weeks of unrest by protesters in Istanbul and other cities. The government would use "all its powers" and the armed forces if necessary, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said on state-run television.


It is the first time the Islamist-rooted ruling party has raised the prospect of deploying the armed forces. The issue is sensitive as the army is seen as a bastion of secularism.


Read the full report on BBC


Image: A protestor is attacked by water cannon duirng a demonstration in Ankara

Photograph: Dado Ruvic/Reuters

01:57  How tax havens stole your money:  

British Prime Minister David Cameron will make the call at the G8 summit in Northern Ireland for international action to curb the activities of tax havens, which campaigners say cost governments trillions in lost revenues.


Journalist Simon Hooper points out what he calls the hypocrisy of the UK's position, itself sitting at the center of the world's most powerful offshore empire. Walking up London's Strand in the direction of St. Paul's Cathedral does not feel like crossing one of the major financial fault lines in the global economy.


Simon Hooper Few tourists would perhaps even notice the stone dragon stranded between buses in the middle of the road that marks the boundary of the City of London, the British capital's financial district and one of global capitalism's most dynamic engines.


Read the full report on CNN

01:09  Greek court suspends ERT broadcaster closure:  

A Greek court has suspended a government order to close state broadcaster ERT - a move that triggered mass protests in the country last week. The top administrative court said ERT could resume transmission until a new national media body is set up.


Meanwhile, talks are ongoing between Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his coalition allies over the issue. Mr Samaras, who says ERT is corrupt, has reportedly offered to restart a trimmer version of the broadcaster.


Read the full report on BBC

00:19  Live! I'm not a spy for China: Edward Snowden:  

NSA leaker Edward Snowden scoffed Monday at the notion he's a spy for China, saying that he would be living like royalty if he were. "If I were a Chinese spy, why wouldn't I have flown directly into Beijing? I could be living in a palace petting a phoenix by now," a writer who identified himself as Snowden said in an online question-and-answer session hosted by The Guardian newspaper.


The Guardian says Snowden was taking questions "with the help of Glenn Greenwald' but did not explain what role Greenwald, a reporter who broke the story on NSA phone surveillance, played in the session. Snowden, 29, called speculation that he might give secrets to China in exchange for asylum "a predictable smear ... intended to distract from the issue of U.S. government misconduct."


Read the full report on NBC

00:14  Live! Top headlines at this hour:  Pix: 50 dead as landslides, floods wreak havoc in north India

CBI files supplementary chargesheet in Jagan Reddy case

Modi likely to visit Ayodhya; to pray at disputed site

The INSIDE stories behind PM's Cabinet reshuffle

Will consider return to NDA if Advani at helm: Sharad Yadav

'Hindus of this country won't accept polarising Modi'

BJP to 'expose' Nitish; will play CDs of him praising Modi

Mamata visits Barasat rape victim's home, faces protest

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