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Live! Over 200 stranded people evacuated from Kinnaur

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June 21, 2013

23:08  Brazil leader remains mute amid protests:  Brazilians struggled today to comprehend the protests shaking their nation after 1 million anti-government demonstrators took to the streets the previous night in scores of cities, with clusters battling police and destroying swaths of store fronts and government buildings. 

President Dilma Rousseff held an emergency meeting about the protests with the nation's justice minister but didn't make any comment afterward, continuing her largely silent response to the unrest.
23:07  Swiss refuse to open graft probe of Pakistan's leader:  Swiss prosecutors today announced that they had refused to reopen a probe into alleged corruption in the 1990s by current Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and his late wife Benazir Bhutto. 

Prosecutors in Geneva said that the decision was taken on February 4 this year, and that they had only opted to make it public as a result of street protests in Pakistan. They declined to comment in detail, but the Swiss news portal published photographs of anti-Zardari protestors burning Switzerland's flag at a rally in Pakistan.
22:56  Over 200 stranded people evacuated from Kinnaur:   Over 200 stranded persons, including twelve patients and 16 foreigners, were airlifted from Sangla, Reckong Peo, Kaza and Pooh in Himachal Pradesh's rain ravaged Kinnaur tribal district by state and IAF choppers. 

The sick persons from Reckong Peo and Sanglawere flown to Shimla and admitted to IGMC Hospital here. The rescue teams assisted by 25 member team of Disaster Management Response Force have so far airlifted over 740 persons from various locations in Kinnaur tribal district, completely cut off by road beyond Tapri due to massive landslides triggered by incessant heavy rains for one week, officials said.
22:35  Pak legislator, son shot dead in Karachi:  A MQM legislator and his son were today shot dead by Taliban militants in a drive-by shooting outside a mosque here, triggering violence in many parts of Pakistan's financial hub that claimed at least 13 lives. 

Sajid Qureshi, a Muttahida Quami Movement legislator (MQM) in Sindh Assembly, and his 26-year-old son were gunned down when they emerged from the mosque in North Nazimabad area after Friday prayers.
22:11  Iran state TV lauds new president's nuke stance:  Iran's president-elect believes it's possible to strike a deal that would allow the country to keep enriching uranium while assuring the West it will not produce a nuclear weapon.

That's according to remarks by Hasan Rowhani from an interview recorded four months ago and rerun on Iranian state TV on Friday.

In the interview, Rowhani said his government would look for a win-win deal to resolve the disputes with the United States.
22:10  Suicide bomb kills 13 worshippers in Pakistan:  A suicide bombing at a Pakistani religious center killed 13 worshippers on Friday, the third major attack to test the new government since the Taliban vowed revenge for a US drone strike that killed its deputy commander.

The spate of violence has shattered a period of relative calm after the May election that returned former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to power, and underscores the challenges he will face in restoring stability to the militancy-hit nation.
22:09  Brazil leaders to meet as protests, violence grow:  Brazil awoke Friday to city centers still smoldering after a night that shocked the nation: 1 million anti-government protesters took to the streets in scores of cities, with clusters battling police and destroying swaths of storefronts and government buildings.

Police and protesters fought in the streets into the early hours Friday in more than 80 Brazilian cities in the biggest demonstrations yet against a government viewed as corrupt at all levels and unresponsive to its people.
19:58  Uttarakhand: Railways to allow rescued people to travel free of cost :  NDTV reports:  The Indian Railways will allow people rescued from Uttarakhand to travel free of cost, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said today. Extra rakes will also be added in Haridwar to accommodate the rush of people.

Read the full story here

19:44  Uttarakhand floods: 550 dead, 50,000 still trapped:  The Uttarakhand government today said that over 550 people have been found dead and warned that the death toll could rise dramatically as flood waters recede and rescue workers reach isolated areas. 50,000 people are still stranded, government officials said,  
19:40  No shortage of tuberculosis drugs: Azad:   The government today said there was no shortage of tuberculosis drugs in the country and more stocks will arrive by July end. The World Health Organisation also supported the government's claim saying there was no shortage and steps have already been initiated to ensure replenishment of stocks of such drugs.

Rejecting media reports about shortage of anti-TB drugs, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said his ministry has already placed orders for more stocks which will arrive by July end.
19:13  Narendra Modi to visit Uttarakhand :   Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is leaving today to visit rain-ravaged areas of Uttarakhand. "Chief Minister Narendra Modi is leaving for Dehradun this evening to visit the affected areas of Uttarakhand," state spokesperson and Finance Minister Nitin Patel told PTI.

During his stay, Modi will take an aerial tour of the affected areas in a helicopter and visit Rishikesh where the Gujarat government has set up a relief camp for pilgrims from the state stranded there, he said, adding that Modi would return on Sunday morning.
19:07  Private chopper crashes in Uttarakhand, pilot rescued:  NDTV reports: A private helicopter that was being used for rescue operations in Uttarakhand crashed this evening. The pilot was flying alone and was rescued.

Read the full report here
18:21  Xi seeks removal of 'bad elements' from Chinese military :  Winning or losing public support is an issue that concerns the survival of the ruling Communist Party, President Xi Jinping has said, seeking to eliminate'bad elements' such as formalism, bureaucracy, hedonism and extravagance from China's powerful military.        

Xi, also the general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, has instructed the PLA to implement a "mass line" campaign as part of efforts to build a strong military with enhanced combat capabilities and war preparedness.
18:20  Modi factor won't play any role in 2014 polls: SP :  Brushing aside the possibility of the 'Modi' factor playing any role in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Samajwadi Party today said Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's charisma is limited to his state only. 
"Modi is not a problem for anyone out of Gujarat. The Modi factor will not affect the parliamentary elections," SP General Secretary Ram Gopal Yadav said.
18:03  Waiter held for filming Russian girl sleeping!:  A hotel waiter was arrested for filming a Russian girl when she was sleeping in her room in Kausambi area of Ghaziabad.     

The 23-year-old Russian girl, along with her guide Pradeep Kumar, checked in at the hotel situated in front of Pacific Mall in Kausambi area late on Thursday night and booked two rooms separately for them, police said today.        

The girl had come to the hotel after her visit to Germany.
18:02  Over 2,000 from Rajasthan feared trapped in Uttarakhand :  The Rajasthan government has set up four relief camps in rain-ravaged Uttarakhand and is coordinating with the local administration for the rescue of over 2,000 people from the state who are still trapped there.        

"We have set up four camps in Rishikesh, Haridwar and at Jolly Grant airport in Dehradun, and coordinating with local authorities for the evacuation of those who are trapped," said Principal Secretary, Medical and Health, Deepak Upreti.
18:01  Mumbai Congress to donate Rs one crore for flood relief:  Just In: Mumbai Congress will hand over Rs 1 crore in aid of the Himalayan tsunami victims, Krishna Hegde, MLA from Vile Parle in Mumbai, has posted on his Facebook page
17:07  Over 33,000 evacuated from Uttarakhand:  Stepping up relief efforts, government today deployed more aircraft to evacuate thousands stranded in rain-ravaged Uttarakhand, even as railways pitched in with free travel to enable those rescued to reach their hometowns.    

As many as 33,152 persons have been moved to safer areas, in massive relief and rescue operations launched by the central and state governments in the last few days, to tackle the unprecedented situation caused by flash floods.
16:55  Pranab cancels annual retreat to Himachal:  In view of heavy rains and floods in various parts of north India, President Pranab Mukherjee today cancelled his annual retreat to Himachal Pradesh beginning June 28.       

The decision was taken by the President so that the state administration could focus on relief and rescue operations, an official spokesman said.        

Mukherjee was scheduled to visit Shimla from June 28 to July 1.
16:54  Hurriyat's hardline faction wants Indo-Pak talks in third country :  The hard-line Hurriyat Conference, headed by Syed Ali Shah Geelani, today opposed suggestion of holding talks between India and Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir on the vexed Kashmir-issue, as proposed by moderate faction chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.        

The Centre will try to exploit such an event to justify its presence in the state, a spokesman of the Geelani-led Hurriyat said in a statement.
16:18  Uttarakhand tragedy toll goes up to 207:  
Over 200 people have lost their lives while 50,000 people were still stranded in different inaccessible parts of Uttarakhand hit by flash floods and landslides, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said on Friday.

"So far, 207 people lost their lives. But the toll may go up as debris in many areas is yet to be cleared," he told reporters here. 

"We have evacuated 34,000 people from various parts of Uttarakhand but 50,000 people are still stranded. Our efforts are continuing to rescue all the stranded people," he said after a review meeting on the situation in Uttarakhand.
16:14  Pakistan beats India -- in amounts kept in Swiss banks:  When it comes to money in Swiss banks, Pakistan has a slight edge over India with total funds amounting to 1,441 million Swiss francs (about Rs 9,200 crore) held there by Pakistani individuals and entities. 

However, this was the lowest level for such funds ever since Switzerland's central bank began compiling this data in 2002 and was less than half of the record high amount of over 3 billion Swiss francs recorded in 2005. 

The previous record low of 1.95 billion Swiss francs was seen in the year 2010.
16:12  Mao's Red Guard seeks forgiveness for brutal deeds:  In a rare apology, a former member of the dreaded Red Guards, found by Mao Zedong in China, has sought public forgiveness for his 'evil deeds' during the decade-long Cultural Revolution. 

'The chaos of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) was not an excuse for my own evil deeds; this is the painful result of reflections from the autumn of my life,' reads an apology printed in a recent issue of the Chinese magazine Yanhuang Chunqiu

"This has been a rock in my heart for years," said Liu Boqin, 61, a retired official in Ji'nan, Shandong Province, who paid for an advertisement to print the apology despite huge family pressure who believed the public might view him as a villain. 

He was expressing remorse for the violence he committed when he was 14 against teachers and classmates as a Red Guard, a report in state-run Global Times said today.
16:10  When Sonia Gandhi let fly at the DMK:  Here's more on the Congress-DMK jugalbandi over Kanimozhi's Rajya Sabha election. 

Sources say the DMK experienced Sonia Gandhi's wrath when its leader T R Baalu sought the Congress's five votes of Tamil Nadu MLAs for Kanimozhi to win her Rajya Sabha seat. 

Apparently Sonia let fly, asking 'Who provoked the DMK to withdraw support to the UPA? And now who asked you to plead for five Congress MLAs' support? Is it politics that in six months you reverse your decision? The DMK used the Sri Lankan Tamil issue as a reason to walk out of UPA, and now you come and ask for five votes?'

Sonia's real anger, it seems, was made known to the DMK that day. And that she chose T R Baalu to vent her anger also showed that knew well that it was him who pushed M K Stalin to announce the DMK's pullout from UPA2.
16:05  18-year-old rapper dies from gunshot wounds:  Rapper Lil Snupe has been found dead with two gunshot wounds in the torso. 

Lil Snupe, whose real name is Addarren Ross, was only 18. 

According to a statement from Louisiana's Winnfield city police department, the police responded to reports of a shooting at the Maplewood Apartments at 1901 South Jones Street. 

Winn Parish Coroner Investigators later pronounced Ross dead at the scene, reported MTV online. 

The police revealed that they "are currently in search of a person of interest, who is unnamed at this time." 

"We're working diligently to investigate this case and track down the suspect. A motive has not been established at this time," the police department said.
16:04  Now a table-top particle accelerator!:  Physicists have built a super-powerful tabletop particle accelerator that can generate energies and speeds previously reached only by major facilities, shrinking the size from the length of two football fields to just one inch. 

"We have accelerated about half a billion electrons to 2 gigaelectronvolts over a distance of about one inch," said Mike Downer, professor of physics in the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. 

"Until now that degree of energy and focus has required a conventional accelerator that stretches more than the length of two football fields. It's a downsizing of a factor of approximately 10,000," said Downer. 

The results mark a major milestone in the advance toward the day when multi-gigaelectronvolt (GeV) laser plasma accelerators are standard equipment in research laboratories around the world, researchers said.
15:47  Well known sports journalist Dicky Rutnagur is dead:  Well known cricket writer Dicky Rutnagur passed away in London on Thursday night after a long battle with cancer. He was 82. 

Rutnagur, who migrated to the United Kingdom in the 1960s, covered cricket for various Indian publications like The Hindu, Hindustan Times, and the Daily Telegraph

Rutnagur also authored two books, Test Commentary (India v England 1976-77) and Khans Unlimited (History of squash in Pakistan). He also co-edited the Indian Cricket Field Annual along with Anandji Dossa.
15:45  Floods: Sonia asks Cong MPs, MLAs to donate 1 month's pay:  
Congress President Sonia Gandhi today directed all party MPs and MLAs to donate their one month salary for relief work in the flood-ravaged Uttarakhand as the magnitude of the flash flood tragedy continued to unfold taking the death toll in the rain fury to 190.

Gandhi also directed all party MPs from Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha to give Rs 10 lakh each from their MPLAD fund for carrying out relief work there," party's communication department in-charge Ajay Maken told PTI.

Congress has currently 203 members in the Lok Sabha and 72 in Rajya Sabha.

The party has also set up a PCC control room at Dehradun to accelerate the relief work. 

AICC Secretary Sanjay Kapoor and the party's wing Seva Dal's chief Mahendra Joshi have been sent to Dehradun to monitor the work.

"All PCC chiefs are being asked to send all the relief materials from their states to Uttarakhand immediately," Maken said.
15:37  World's first 3D digital brain created:  
Scientists have developed the world's first high-resolution 3D digital model of the human brain. 

The reconstruction of the human brain shows it's anatomy in microscopic detail, enabling researchers to see features smaller than a strand of hair. 

The "Big Brain" will be made freely available to neuroscientists to help them in their research, 'BBC News' reported.

Researchers sliced 7,400 sections from the brain of a deceased 65-year-old woman, each half the thickness of a human hair.

They then stained each slice to bring out the anatomical detail and scan them into the computer in high definition. 

The final step was to reassemble the scanned slices inside the computer. In all, 80 billion neurons have been captured in this painstaking process which took 10 years to complete.

It was "like using Google Earth. You can see details that are not visible before we had this 3D reconstruction," said Professor Katrin Amunts from the Julich Research Centre in Germany, one of the researchers involved.
14:55  6 killed in suicide blast in Peshawar:  
A suicide bomber blew himself up inside a Shia madrassa on the outskirts of Peshawar in Pakistan's restive northwest today, killing at least six persons and injuring over 25, officials and witnesses said. 

The seminary targeted by the blast is located at Gulshan Colony in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

The bomber targeted the Madrassa Hussainia at a time when about 200 men had gathered for the weekly Friday prayers. 

The men were listening to the sermon by the prayer leader when the bomber entered the madrassa from its rear.

The bomber opened fire before detonating his explosive vest.

At least six persons were killed instantly and officials said the death toll could rise. 

At least four injured men were in a serious condition, they said.

Footage on television showed the walls and ceiling of the seminary were pitted by ball bearings packed into the bomber's explosive vest.
14:55  Rahul Gandhis new point man for Andhra Pradesh:   Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi has entrusted AICC secretary S Thirunavukkarasar with the responsibility of handling Andhra Pradesh, a state that is considered crucial to the party's chances of doing well in the next Lok Sabha elections. 

Who is S Thirunavukkarasar, you ask?

He was a minister in the MGR and Jayalalitha cabinets in Tamil Nadu -- and his name was spelt as Thirunavukkarasu then. He joined the BJP and was a minister in the Vajpayee government as a minister of state for shipping and transport. An able organiser, he joined the Congress in 2009 and lost as MLA in the Sivaganga assembly constituency, a leg of P Chidambaram's parliamentary constituency.

Thirunavukkarasar has hit the ground running, it seems. On Thursday he met party stalwarts P Chidambaram and GK Vasan in New Delhi. Today he is meeting Digvijaya Singh to discuss how to strengthen the party in the southern state. 

Thirunavukkarasar and Digvijaya in a sense go back a long way -- the former was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Madhya Pradesh, the latter's fiefdom, during the NDA rule.
14:52  BJP has not kept its word: Nitish Kumar:  
Dismissing charges of being an opportunist and of betraying the BJP, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today said JD-U quit NDA as the saffron party did not keep its word about putting on hold contentious issues and not projecting leaders who cannot expand the coalition.

"We did not betray the BJP. Charges that I am an opportunist are baseless. We joined NDA only after assurance that contentious issues like Ram temple, non-imposition of Article 370 and Uniform Civil Code will be put on hold," Kumar said in an interview to CNN-IBN. 

Kumar maintained that JD-U had made it clear to BJP that it should not project leaders "who cannot expand the alliance".

"In Bihar we had asked BJP to keep external factors out," he added.

Without naming Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, whose appointment as head of BJP's Election Campaign Committee had triggered JD-U's move to walk out of the NDA, Kumar said the "atmospherics" created around elevation raises several questions.
14:10  Brazil leaders to meet as protests, violence grow:  
Police and protesters fought in the streets into the early hours today as an estimated 1 million Brazilians swarmed through more than 80 Brazilian cities in the biggest demonstrations yet against a government viewed as corrupt at all levels and unresponsive to its people.

President Dilma Rousseff called an emergency meeting of her top Cabinet members today morning, more than a week after the protests began. Rousseff, who has a standoffish governing style, has been almost entirely absent from the public eye, making only one statement earlier in the week that peaceful protests are part of the democratic process.

But the protests that raged across Brazil late yesterday and today were spiked with violence as people vented anger over a litany of complaints, from high taxes to corruption to rising prices.

At least one protester was killed in Sao Paulo state when a car rammed into a crowd of demonstrators, after the driver apparently became enraged about being unable to drive along a street.
13:22  After idlis, Jayalalithaa now sells Amma Mineral Water :  
In a bid to ensure quality and affordable drinking water to the poor and middle class people, the Jayalalithaa government in Tamil Nadu is set to launch nine 'Amma Mineral Water' production units across the state that would offer one litre bottle priced at Rs 10.

These units, to be established by the state transport corporations, would make available one litre of mineral water packed in bottles at Rs 10 each, ensuring safe water and reducing to some extent the financial burden of the people, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa said in a statement in Chennai.

The government initiative would be a boon to the people, especially the Chennaites who were left in the lurch by the recent strike by packaged drinking water firms after the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board shut down 92 manufacturing units found operating without licence.

Jayalalithaa, who is fondly called by her party cadre as "Amma", said that in the first phase, a production unit would be established in suburban Gummidipoondi with a capacity of three lakh litre per day and necessary equipment would be procured by the road transport corporation.

The water bottles would be made available in buses plying in long distance routes, at mofossil bus terminus and bus terminals in Chennai, Jayalalithaa said
13:15  Thane building collapse toll climbs to 10:  
With three more bodies being recovered from the debris of a building that collapsed in Thane disctrict of Maharashtra in the wee hours of Friday, the death toll has gone up to 10 while 14 people have been injured in the mishap, officials said.

The 35-year-old three-storey 'Shakuntala' building, situated at Bazarpeth in Mumbra area of Thane district, collapsed after midnight when the residents were fast asleep, police said. 

Children, including a two-month-old girl, were among those killed in the mishap. 

Police rushed to the site at around 2.30 AM and launched relief and rescue operations on a massive scale even as more people were feared trapped in the debris of the building. 

The injured, including those seriously hurt in the incident, have been admitted to Kalsekar Hospital, CSMH and Civil Hospital in the city, they said. 

Thane District Collector P Velrasu, Police Commissioner K P Raghuvanshi and acting Municipal Commissioner Shaymsunder Patil have gone to the spot while a fire brigade team has also been deployed for assistance.

Six of the deceased have been identified as -- Mahek Muddasar Punjabi (2 months), Mohamad Rehan Jilani Faruki (25), Usna (4), Abdul Karim Shaikh (30), Tasmiya Makdum Shaikh (3) and Shakir Abdul Karim Shaikh (6).
13:10  Congresss two conditions for supporting Kanimozhi for RS:   An interesting to and fro is happening between the Congress and the DMK, former allies in the UPA government. 

The Congress would like the DMK to support it in the Lok Sabha while the DMK would like the Congress to transfer its five votes in the Tamil Nadu assembly to it in next week's Rajya Sabha elections. 

Right now, it seems, the DMK's need is greater as the parliamentary fate of no less than Kanimozhi, party supremo M Karunanidhi's daughter, hangs in the balance over the election to the Rajya Sabha. Given the DMK's low numbers, the Congress's votes are crucial for her election.   

The AICC is willing to play ball, but has two conditions for the DMK, say insiders. One, the DMK should not insist on the prime minister and finance minister being summoned to the JPC on 2G spectrum scam; and, the DMK should not comment on developments in Sri Lanka. 

The Congress is also keen that the DMK issue a statement criticising the BJP's hype over Narendra Modi so that the AIADMK is nuetralised in Tamil Nadu. The Congress wants the DMK to go openly against Modi, since arch-rival Jayalalitha is clearly associating herself with him. 

Through all this comes the speculation in Delhi is that three Congress MLAs in Tamil Nadu have been won over by the AIADMK, and that they will vote against Kanimozhi.

As they say, anything is possible in Tamil Nadu politics!
13:06  Pentagon chief asks Indian if he's 'Taliban', apologises:  
US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel has apologised after he was caught on cameras asking an Indian member of an audience if he was a member of the Taliban. 

The Pentagon chief made the inappropriate joke after finishing speaking at the University of Nebraska, his alma mater, and began taking questions. 

According to the New York Daily News, an Indian member in the audience approached the microphone, prompting Hagel to deliver the extremely inappropriate joke. 

A prolonged awkward silence followed the strange question, before the man identifies himself as Robin Gandhi, an assistant professor at the school. 

Through a spokesman, Hagel immediately apologised for the remark, explaining that he did not know or see who was approaching the microphone. 
12:53  Sensex gains 67 points in late morning trade:  
Reversing an early downward trend, the BSE benchmark today recovered over 67 points in late morning trade largely on the back of fresh buying mainly in IT, tech, power and auto sector stocks.

Besides, recovery in the rupee from record lows also helped trading sentiments to improve, brokers said. 

The Sensex after falling over 79 points in early trade, staged a comeback to quote 67.39 points, or 0.36 per cent, to 18,786.68. The Sensex had lost over 526 points in yesterday's trade.

The NSE 50-share Nifty also firmed up 21.95 points, or 0.39 per cent, to 5,677.85 at 1215 hrs. 

Stocks of software exporters caught investors' fancy on hopes a weak rupee would improve their overseas earnings. The country's software exporting companies get over 60 per cent of their revenue from the US and European markets.

The BSE IT sector index recovered by 0.81 per cent to 5,974.17 as Infosys up by 1.06 per cent to Rs 2,392.10, TCS by 1.12 per cent to Rs 1,419.90, while Wirpo by 0.58 per cent to Rs 349.45.

Other gainers were Maruti Suzuki (1.09 per cent) Mahindra and Mahindra (1.17 per cent), Bajaj Auto (0.47 per cent), Hero MotoCorp (2.56 per cent), Reliance (1.12 per cent) Dr Reddy Lab (1.24 per cent), Larsen and Toubro (0.55 per cent) and Coal India (0.79 per cent).
12:51  No lessons learnt; states oppose Flood Bill:  
Even as floods play havoc in Uttarakhand, several states have opposed the provisions of a 38-year-old Model Flood Bill aimed at minimising losses to life and property in the natural calamity. 

The bill, prepared by the Central Water Commission in 1975, will empower authorities to remove dwellings from flood-prone areas. 

States like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have opposed the draft bill, saying rehabilitation of people who will be displaced after the dwellings are removed is a difficult task. 

"They also fear that the Centre will not pay monetary compensation to them if they fail to implement the law in letter and spirit," said a senior Water Resources Ministry official. 

"Today several such low-lying areas have been given for commercial development and the onus of protecting lives and property in such areas lies with the state governments. They know they cannot seek compensation for damage caused in such areas," the official said. 

There are some states which have not responded to the model bill. 
12:47  Water minister: Priority is relief op, not CAG's views:  
Union Water Resources Minister Harish Rawat on Friday played safe on reports that Uttarakhand has had no disaster management plan worth its name despite the region being highly disaster prone due to fragile mountains, tectonic activity and climatic events, saying the priority at the moment is to ensure that the people stranded are rescued and rehabilitated.

Rawat said that he would not like to comment on these matters now.

"I would just like to say that rescue operations are being conducted there with full power. The biggest question before us is to rescue and save the lives of all those stranded there," he said.

The Congress MP from Haridwar said Uttarakhand is working unitedly in the rescue operations.

"It is the nature's rage and everybody understands this. So, the Centre and the state government should at this point of time work unitedly to ensure that those affected are rescued and rehabilitated," he added.

A report released by the Comptroller and Auditor General as recently as on April 23, 2013 says that the State Disaster Management Authority that was formed in October 2007 has never met till date.

"Nor has it made any 'rules, regulations, policies or guidelines', a preliminary step for the authority to have any functional meaning. The state authorities were virtually non-functional," the report says.
12:02  Reliance Capital first company to suspend gold sales:  
Amid growing concerns over huge gold imports hurting the country's economic strength, financial services major Reliance Capital today became the first company to suspend gold sales across all its businesses. 

The decision includes suspension of sale of gold coins and other physical forms of the yellow metal, as also as an investment product across all its businesses and subsidiaries, Reliance Capital said in a statement. 

Part of Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group, the company said the decision has been taken in view of the government's "publicly stated objective of minimising gold imports that are seriously hurting the country's economic interests". 

According to industry watchers, more companies are expected to follow suit with similar measures, as rising gold imports continue to burden the country's current account deficit.

The government has been consistently asking for measures to curb flow of household savings into idle assets like gold and channelise these funds towards financial market assets. 
11:57  10.5 m tons of FCI foodgrain to be sold to check prices:  
Just in: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approves sale of 10.5 million tonnes of FCI foodgrain in open market to control prices: Food Minister

Out of 10 million tonnes of wheat, 8.5 million tonnes is proposed to be sold from Punjab and Haryana to bulk consumers at Rs 1,500 per quintal. 

One million tonnes of wheat will be offered from state-run Food Corporation of India (FCI) centres across the country to small traders at Rs 1500/quintal plus freight. 
11:45  Just In: Financial services major Reliance Capital suspends gold sales to help the government curb imports of yellow metal
11:34  Afghan, Pakistan envoys clash at UNSC meet:  
Top diplomats from Afghanistan and Pakistan engaged in verbal sparring during a discussion on cross-border terrorism and presence of terrorist safe havens, at the United Nations Security Council.

"The fact remains: so long as terrorist sanctuaries continue to exist in Pakistan's soil and some elements continue to use terrorism as an instrument of foreign policy, peace will not prevail, neither in Afghanistan, nor in the region," Afghan Ambassador to the UN, Zahir Tanin, told the 15-member body during a special Security Council discussion on Afghanistan, on Thursday.

"We also are very concerned with ongoing border shelling; this constitutes a serious threat to Afghan sovereignty and the prospect of friendly relations between our two countries," Tanin said referring to the recent exchange of fire across the Af-Pak border.

Pakistani Ambassador to the UN, Masood Khan, later was sharper in his response.

"I reject most emphatically Ambassador Tanin's argument -- root, trunk and branch -- that terrorist sanctuaries exist in Pakistan and some elements continue to use terrorism as an instrument of foreign policy," Khan said. 

"No, sir, this is not true; and you know this is not true. And this is not good diplomacy. By using such arguments, you cast aspersions on our sincerity," he said

"In Pakistan, we do not operate as elements, but as a whole, as one state. All institutions of the state have consensus that terrorism is a threat to both Pakistan and Afghanistan and therefore both countries should work together to eliminate this scourge," Khan said.
11:25  Rupee trims initial loss vs dollar:  
The rupee trimmed its early losses, but was still quoted lower by 8 paise to 59.65 per dollar on demand of the US currency from banks and importers triggered by its higher value overseas.

Persistent capital outflows from foreign funds also affected the rupee value against the dollar, a forex dealer said.

The rupee resumed lower at 59.74 per dollar as against the last closing level of 59.57 at the Interbank Foreign Exchange (Forex) Market. 

It dropped further to a low of 59.75 before quoting 59.65 per dollar at 1040 hours.

It moved in a range of 59.63 and 59.75 per dollar during the late morning deals.

In New York, the US dollar trimmed its earlier surge but remained higher versus most major currencies yesterday, building on gains triggered a day earlier after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the bank could begin to slow its stimulus-providing programme of bond purchases by the end of the year.
11:02  Jiah Khans suicide: Sooraj Pancholis bail plea to be heard today :  
Aspiring actor Sooraj Pancholi, son of actors Aditya Pancholi and Zarina Wahab, who was arrested by the Mumbai police after the suicide of actress Jiah Khan, will present his bail plea in a Mumbai court on Friday. 

Sooraj was arrested on charges of abetment to suicide (under Section 306 of the IPC) on June 10 after a six-page suicide note was recovered from the deceased actress' residence. 

The authenticity of the suicide note and the other five love letters that were found from Sooraj's residence, meanwhile, is being examined.

On June 14, the court had adjourned Sooraj's bail plea till June 21. 

According to the officer investigating the case, the police required time to probe into the matter since Sooraj had deleted several texts and other messages from his cell phone. On June 13, the Mumbai police had stated that they would oppose the bail plea of the aspiring actor.
11:00  Sensex trims initial losses:  
The S&P BSE benchmark Sensex trimmed its initial losses, but was still quoted lower by 11 points to 18,708.30 in late morning trade today on selling in select counters in view of persistent capital outflows amid weak global cues.

Shares of banking, consumer durable, healthcare, FMCG and metal sectors declined on sustained selling pressure. 

The BSE-30 share index, Sensex, resumed lower at 18,695.80 points and dropped further to a low of 18,615.14 on profit-booking. 

But, it recovered afterwards to 18,717.42 before quoting 18,708.30 points at 1025 hours.

It still showed a loss of 10.99 points, or 0.06 per cent, from its last close.

The NSE 50-share barometer Nifty also moved down by 5.90 points, or 0.10 per cent, quoting 5,650.00 at 1025 hours. 

Major losers were Jindal Steel (3.44 pc), Sun Pharma (1.92 pc), Hindalco (1.74 pc), HDFC (1.34 pc) and ICICI Bank (1.23 pc).

Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) sold shares worth a net Rs 2,094.06 crore yesterday, as per provisional data
from the stock exchanges.
10:54  7 killed, 14 injured in Thane building collapse:  
At least seven persons, including an infant, were killed and 14 others injured when a three-storey building collapsed in Thane, Maharashtra in the wee hours of Friday. 

The 35-year-old 'Shakuntala' building, situated at Bazarpeth in Mumbra area of Thane district, collapsed after midnight when the residents were fast asleep, police said. 

Police rushed to the site at around 2.30 am and have launched relief and rescue operations. 

Many are still feared trapped in the debris of the building, police said.

The injured, including some seriously hurt in the mishap, have been admitted to Kalsekar Hospital, CSMH and Civil Hospital in the city, they said.

10:38  Two BSF jawans kill each other in Rajasthan:  
Two BSF jawans were today killed in a suspected fratricide incident in Sriganganagar district of Rajasthan. 

The jawans, who were part of the Border Security Force (BSF) deployment guarding the Indo-Pak border, were killed after a shootout broke out between them, official sources said.

The jawans have been identified as Deepender Singh and Badal and the incident happened early today in Anupgarh's Shivni in Sriganganagr sector, the sources said. 

Senior officials of the force have rushed to the spot and have begun an inquiry, they said.
10:03  Rupee continues to slide against dollar:  
Continuing its slide, the rupee weakened further by 13 paise to trade at Rs 59.70 against the US dollar in early trade today on sustained capital outflows and strong demand of the American currency from importers. 

However, the Euro's gain against the US dollar overseas, capped rupee's loss. 

The rupee had yesterday hit an all-time low of 59.93 intra-day, before the Reserve Bank stepped in to help the local currency recover some ground. It had ended 87 paise down at 59.57 on hefty outflows.

Meanwhile, the BSE benchmark Sensex declined by 79.13 points, or 0.42 per cent, to 18,640.16. 
10:00  US may consider Taliban prisoner swap:  
The US has not ruled out discussions with the Taliban on a prisoner swap as it tries to bring home its soldier held captive by the militants. 

"We have not made a decision to transfer any Taliban  detainees from Guantanamo Bay, though we anticipate, that the Taliban will raise this issue," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters. 

"We will make any such decisions in consultation with Congress and according to US law. But they have stated before, as they've stated again today, that this is an issue -- the release of these detainees -- that they would plan to raise," 
Psaki said in response to a question.

The United States is currently working on a schedule to hold direct talks with the Taliban -- the first in many years.

"We have been very clear on our feelings about Sergeant Bergdahl and the need for him to be released," she said, when asked about the Taliban offer of the release of its soldier in exchange of five Taliban prisoners. 

Sergeant Bergdahl was captured in Afghanistan on June 30, 2009. He said in a video that he was captured when he fell behind his unit during a patrol. 
10:00  Sensex down 79 points in early trade:  
The BSE benchmark Sensex today lost over 79 points in early trade as stocks of FMCG, metal, auto, healthcare and banking sectors fell on sustained capital outflows, tracking a weak trend in the global market. 

Extending losses for the second session, the 30-share index fell by 79.13 points, or 0.42 per cent, to 18,640.162. The index had lost 526.41 points in the previous session. 

Similarly, the wide-based National Stock Exchange Nifty declined by 14.15 points, or 0.25 per cent, to 5,641.75. 

Brokers said sustained capital outflows from foreign funds amid a weakening trend in the global market after the US Federal Reserve signalled a possible end to its stimulus programme, mainly dampened the trading sentiment.

Besides, weakening rupee too triggered selling pressure, they added.
09:31  India's surveillance project may be as lethal as PRISM:  
Hindu reports: Project documents relating to the new Centralized Monitoring System reveal the government's lethal and all-encompassing surveillance capabilities, which, without the assurance of a matching legal and procedural framework to protect privacy, threaten to be as intrusive as the US government's controversial PRISM project.

Read more HERE
09:29  Why India trails China:  
A great gap between India and China is in the provision of essential public services -- a failing that depresses living standards and is a persistent drag on growth.

Read this piece by Amartya Sen HERE
09:27  Google app tracks those missing in Uttarakhand:  
Google has launched its 'Person Finder' application in India to help offer information on missing people in flood-affected areas in the country, including Uttarakhand.

Google Person Finder is a web application that allows individuals to post and search for the status of relatives or friends affected by a disaster, Google said in a blogpost. 

The Google Person Finder for 2013 Uttrakhand Floods is available HERE

The Google tool had helped people track the missing after a 8.9-magnitude earthquake that triggered a 13-foot tsunami in Japan in 2011 and also during the recent Bostom Marathon bombings. 

Google Person Finder, a project of the Google Crisis Response division of, was built by Google engineers in response to the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti to help those affected by the earthquake connect with their loved ones. Google Person Finder can also accept data from other similar registries and display them together at one place.
09:17  Rio protest draws 300,000, police fire tear gas:  
Some 300,000 Brazilians rallied in Rio de Janeiro on a nationwide day of protests over the huge cost of hosting the 2014 World Cup, according to a security expert. 

Police in a tweet cited Rio de Janeiro Federal University expert Moacyr Duarte as estimating the crowd at 300,000, but did not give their own estimate. 

An AFP reporter yesterday said a small group of demonstrators hurled stones at police who responded with tear gas. At least one person was injured in the clashes. 

On Wednesday, the protesters scored a major victory when authorities in Sao Paulo and Rio, Brazil's two biggest cities, cancelled controversial transit fare hikes, but that was not enough to placate the demonstrators.

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators returned to the streets in scores of cities around the country on Thursday, demanding better public services and bemoaning massive spending to stage the World Cup.
09:16  US allows unrestricted morning-after pill sales:  
The US Food and Drug Administration  has approved unrestricted sales of the Plan B One-Step morning-after pill, lifting all age limits on the emergency contraceptive. 

The move came a week after the Obama administration ended months of back-and-forth legal battles by promising a federal judge it would take that step. Women's health advocates had pushed for easier access to next-day birth control for more than a decade.

"Over-the-counter access to emergency contraceptive products has the potential to further decrease the rate of unintended pregnancies in the United States," FDA drug chief Dr Janet Woodcock said in a statement yesterday announcing the approval.

It wasn't clear how quickly Plan B One-Step would move from behind pharmacy counters to sit on drugstore shelves. Until now, customers could buy that morning-after pill and competing generic versions without a prescription only if they proved to a pharmacist that they were 17 or older. FDA said the product will have to be repackaged to reflect the change; maker Teva Women's Health didn't immediately respond. FDA has not lifted age limits on competing generics.
09:15  Chhattisgarh: Jawan killed, 3 hurt in Naxal attack:  
A police jawan was killed and 3 others were injured when naxals attacked a police patrolling party in maoist-hit Konda Goan district of Chattisgarh in the wee hours of Friday, police said.

"The face off between policemen and ultras took place in Borgoan area of Keshkal town of the district at around 1 AM," Konda Gaon Superintendent of Police D Shravan told PTI over phone.

The patrolling party, comprising 7-8 contingents of district force, was on night duty in the region. When they reached near the last habitation of the town about 30-40 armed naxals opened indiscriminate firing on them. 

In retaliation, jawans also fired gun shots following which naxals fled to the core area of the forest. In the ensuing gunbattle that lasted for an hour, a constable died and three other policemen were injured, he said.
09:12  Talk show panelists are involved in pornography: Mamata:  
Under attack from opposition and a section of intellectuals over the recent incident of rape and murder of a college student, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has alleged that panelists of some local tv news channels critical of her were involved in pornography. 

"Two or three incidents (of rape) have taken place. But every evening this people have salacious discussion disrespecting our mothers and sisters day after day. Some channels which are bankrupt are insulting the people of Bengal," she alleged, referring to talk-shows on a section of local TV channels. 

"They are not doing the right thing. What children did not know, they are getting to know about. Who are being called (to the panel discussion)? Many of them are involved in pornography. They claim to be social workers but are actually working for money. Talk shows are nothing but money shows," she said. 
09:10  FBI foils plot to kill Obama with X-ray weapon:  
The FBI has reportedly foiled a plot to kill US president Barack Obama with a deadly X-ray weapon. 

The X-ray system was designed to emit deadly amounts of radiation and could be detonated remotely, ABC News reports. 

According to the report, Glendon Scott Crawford and Eric J. Feight constructed the weapon of mass destruction to kill Obama and blamed him for the Boston bombings. Crawford blamed 'Obama's policies' for the Boston attacks and said that Obama directed the government to bring Muslims in US without background checks.

FBI described Crawford as member of the Ku Klux Klan and had named his design as 'Hiroshima on a light switch'. 

According to the report, the FBI had launched an investigation to Crawford last spring when he had allegedly entered a synagogue and enquired for a technology that could kill 'Israel's enemies while they slept'. 
09:07  Decision on natural gas price hike unlikely today:  
A proposal for across-the-board hike in natural gas prices will go before the Cabinet today after key ministries of finance and fertiliser have endorsed the plan to raise the rates by 60 per cent.

While the Oil Ministry on Wednesday moved a note for raising gas prices to $6.775 per million British thermal unit for
consideration of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, the proposal had been listed for consideration of the CCEA meet slated for today morning. 

However, Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily is travelling to Tripura for the inauguration of ONGC's power plant built by President Pranab Mukherjee, official sources said. 

It is for this reason that even if the proposal comes up for consideration of CCEA, there may not be a decision, they said, adding that in all likelihood the issue may be referred to a group of ministers for further discussion owing to intense opposition from certain lobbies. 

There was also buzz that the ministry had in fact withdrawn its listed agenda for presenting a status report on implementation of ethanol-blend petrol programme from today's CCEA meet.
09:05  Govt to decide on selling 10.5 mn ton FCI foodgrains today:  
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs is today likely to consider the Food Ministry's proposal to offload 10.5 million tonnes of FCI foodgrains in the open market to control retail prices. 

The proposal to allocate 10 million tonnes of wheat and 0.5 million tonnes of rice under the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSS) for controlling domestic prices is among ten proposals listed for the discussion, according to sources.

Out of 10 million tonnes of wheat, 8.5 million tonnes is proposed to be sold from Punjab and Haryana to bulk consumers at Rs 1,500 per quintal. 

One million tonnes of wheat will be offered from state-run Food Corporation of India (FCI) centres across the country to small traders at Rs 1500/quintal plus freight. 
03:41  Scientists create first 3D digital brain:  

Researchers have created the first high-resolution 3D digital model of the human brain, which they have called "Big Brain". The reconstruction shows the brain's anatomy in microscopic detail, enabling researchers to see features smaller than a strand of hair. It will be made freely available to neuroscientists to help them in their research.


The model has been published in the journal Science. Continue reading the main story "Start Quote We will be able to study the individual layers of the brain's cortex to the very cells themselves'Prof Paul Fletcher Cambridge University The research team had to slice 7,400 sections from the brain of a deceased 65-year-old woman, each half the thickness of a human hair.


The team then had to stain each slice to bring out the anatomical detail and scan them into the computer in high definition. The final step was to reassemble the scanned slices inside the computer.


Read the full report on BBC

03:40  Live! Brazil unrest: Rousseff cancels Japan trip:  

BBC: Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has cancelled a planned trip to Japan over continuing mass anti-government protests across her country. The move is an indication of the seriousness of the situation confronting her, correspondents say.


In the north-eastern city of Salvador, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protesters ahead of an international football match there. Big rallies are being staged in Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia and other cities.


Demonstrators in Sao Paulo earlier said they would take to the streets "to celebrate" the reversal of a public-transport fare increase announced on Wednesday.

01:45  Live! Kerry not to meet Taliban in Doha: US:  

US Secretary of State John Kerry would not meet representatives of the Afghan Taliban during his visit to Qatar later this week, his spokesperson said today.        


"Secretary Kerry would not be meeting Taliban representatives," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters at her daily news conference.        


Kerry is scheduled to be in Doha from June 21-23 to hold bilateral talks with the Qatari rulers, during which the Afghanistan reconciliation talk, situation in Syria and the Middle East Peace process is expected to be among the top priorities.      


Psaki said the US is hoping that the peace talks with the Taliban would take place soon. She, however, did not confirm media reports that the talks have been scheduled for Monday.

00:40  Doctor team from UP to leave for Uttarakhand:  

Assuring all possible help to the Uttarakhand government, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav today directed officials to rush a team of doctors for extending medical aid to the people in the rain-ravaged state.        


A team of 14 doctors of Ram Manohar Lohia Medical Institute, Lucknow would be send to Uttarakhand on Friday, an official spokesman said.        


On the chief minister's directives, a helpline has been set up in the office of the relief commissioner in Lucknow for the benefit of the stranded people, the spokesman said.        


Akhilesh appealed to the people to contribute in the relief funds and asked the media to help in locating people and providing relief to the needy.

00:39  Live! Top headlines at this hour:  

Official figures of actual damage in Uttarakhand

LATEST PIX: Army bravehearts rescue thousands in U'khand

Uttarakhand floods: PM appeals to public for donations

In Uttaranchal, the disaster has been in the making

301 stranded people airlifted in Himachal Pradesh

45 Army, IAF choppers; 10,000 troops deployed in Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand flood: Bihar BJP leader rescued

50 major landslides hit four road stretches in Uttarakhand

Kedarnath evacuated; 50,000 still stranded in Uttarakhand

Security stepped up in Bengaluru over terror threat to ISRO, HAL

Nitish suffering from 'NaMonia', says BJP

Hazare warns of fast in Delhi from Oct 2 over Lokpal

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