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Live! Gujarat Congress regrets faux pas over Mandela

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June 26, 2013

23:52  6 bodies found in Ganga, police do not rule out U'khand angle:  
Bodies of six unidentified persons, three of them women, were found floating today in the Ganga river in a remote part of the district. 

Police have not ruled out that these bodies could be of pilgrims washed away in the Uttarakhand floods. 

According to police spokesman Uma Shankar Shukla,"An information reached Manda police station this afternoon that villagers had noticed a number of corpses floating away in the Ganga river".

"A police team, with help from locals and divers, succeeded in fishing out six bodies. These included three women", he said adding "the corpses are swollen and decomposed which gives an impression that the river current had been carrying these along for quite some time". 

"It will be difficult to establish the identity of the deceased as all the bodies are badly disfigured. Nevertheless, photographs are being circulated in the media," he said. 
22:52  Live! Gujarat Congress regrets faux pas over Mandela:  The Gujarat State Congress has issued a regret note after they wrongly issued a press release expressing sorrow for the "demise of Nelson Mandela."

Mandela is in a serious condition, but alive as the world watches and praying for his health.Congress spokesman Jairajsinh Parmar said that it was a mistake and has offered an apology.

He said that Gujarat stae Congress is praying for the long live of Mandela, the legendary leader of South Africa.
20:59  Same-sex married couples entitled to state benefits: US court:  In a landmark judgement, the US Supreme Court today struck down the law that denies federal benefits to same-sex married couples The ruling, by 5-4 vote, was described as a historic step by President Barack Obama.

Justice Anthony Kennedy said that the Defence of Marriage Act "violates basic due process and equal protection principles applicable" to the federal government.

"The majority opinion also criticises DOMA as an intrusion on states' traditional role defining marriage," he wrote.

"DOMA undermines both the public and private significance of state-sanctioned same-sex marriages; for it tells those couples, and all the world, that their otherwise valid marriages are unworthy of federal recognition," Kennedy wrote in his judgement.
20:58  Live! Sonia's relief material for U'khand stuck in Rishikesh?:   Our correspondent from New Delhi reports: One hundred and twenty five trucks flagged off by Congress president Sonia Our correspondent in New Delhi reports: The 125 trucks laden with rescue and relief material flagged off by Congress president Sonia Gandhi on June 24 from New Delhi have stopped their journey in Rishikesh.

The truckers accused the state machinery of not receiving the supplies or giving them definite instructions. The drivers allege they were directed from Dehradun onto the Srinagar Garhwal but without money for fuel or food, now they threatening to sell off the rescue material in order to sustain themselves.

But the news was denied by the Congress. A senior leader said the trucks flagged off by Congress president for victims of Uttarakhand has reached godown in Rishikesh as planned.

He added, "Big trucks can't climb the upper areas, so the material is  being shifted to smaller ones."

19:47  Live! Gujarat Congress jumps gun on Mandela:  

The Gujarat state Congress has never been known for it's efficiency. But on Wednesday it issued a press release to mourn the "death of Nelson Mandela."


There are surely rumours on internet about his demise but without waiting for a final word from South African government, Gujarat Congress went ahead and said that how their leaders Arjun Modhwadia and Shankersinh Vaghela have "expressed deep sorrow over the demise of legendary leader" of South Africa President and Nobel leaurate Mandela.

18:47  TDP-Cong come to blows at Dehradun airport over flying rescued home:   While the armed forces continue with their rescue operations relentlessly, politicians spar at the Dehradun airport to claim credit over who will fly rescued pilgrims home.

TV images show TDP's Ramesh Rathod and Congress politician V Hanumantha Rao coming to blows at the Jolly Grant airport in Dehradun. Boarding passes of the pilgrims were apparently torn up. Rathod and Rao trade charges on different TV channels. Worse, Rathod says nothing is being done for the pilgrims by the armed forces for the people from his state. "Hanumantha Rao started abusing me and used unparliamentary language," says Rathod. He refuses to admit he made a mistake. In fact, TDP leader Chandrababu Naidu, who was at the scene, watched the fight and did not bother to stop the two. 

Naidu has now apologised for the squabble but blames the Congress.
18:18  Army: Jungle Chatti evacuated, 500 rescued from Harsil, 800 from Badrinath:   Here the today's figures from Uttarakhand tweeted by the Indian Army.

-- 500 people have been evacuated from Harsil by air and 800 people have been evacuated from Badrinath today.

-- A veterinary medical aid team treated more than 100 animals today on the Hemkund axis.

-- The Army search operations in Jungle Chatti continued for the third day. No stranded pilgrims found for the third consecutive day.

-- More than 33,000 people evacuated by Army -- 25,000 of them by foot while 8000 were moved  by helicopter.

Pic: Additional Directorate General of Public Information, Indian Army
17:44  IAF pilot killed in crash promised mom he would call again...:  His promise to speak to his mother after completing the day's rescue mission turned out to be his last call to her as IAF pilot Praveen was among the 20 killed in the helicopter crash in Uttarakhand.

27-year old Praveen, who hailed from this temple town, spoke to his mother Manjula over phone in the morning yesterday. The IAF pilot had told his mother that he would talk to her after the day's mission to rescue people stranded in flood ravaged Uttarakhand.

"He was my only son. He used to be always active. Becoming a pilot was his ambition and after a brief stint in software firm TCS he joined IAF," Manjula said in choked voice.

"He spoke to me at 9.45 am yesterday and told me he will be calling me again in the evening. But we only received the call conveying the shocking news about the crash of the helicopter at Gaurikand and death of Praveen and others," she said.

The MI-17 V5 chopper was on a rescue mission from Gauchar to Guptkashi and Kedarnath when it crashed yesterday north of Gaurikund. Gloom descended on Praveen's house at TVS Nagar here as relatives and friends poured in to share the grief of the family. Praveen did his BE (Mechatronics) from the Thiagraja College of Engineering here and joined the IAF as a Pilot at Bangalore before being shifted to the north.
17:19  Live! All bodies found in Kedarnath to be cremated by June 28, state toll 560:  All bodies found in Kedarnath to be cremated by June 28, says the NDMA. The National Disaster Relief Agency says the likelihood of finding bodies in the 10-ft high debris in Kedarnath is next to impossible, but several bodies are still likely to be trapped. The toll so far is 560 dead in Uttarakhand.
17:03  Live! DNA samples from dead will take 2 days, identification to follow :  As the last remaining family members of the missing leave for their homes, the task is still cut out for Dr Dayal Saran from CID and his team of forensic officers involved in collecting DNA samples of the unclaimed bodies and making a database for identification.

"We will be collecting DNA samples of the dead bodies. Mainly we will be extracting hair with the root, a piece of skin and teeth. We will make a database of the data gathered, and then begin with the identification process," Saran said at the Chardham helipad in Guptkashi.

"The entire operation to collect DNA would take about two days. After that the bodies will be disposed of. Police are also with us, they will be completing the formalities of preparing 'panchnamas'," he added. The 'panchnama' contains details of bodies which may help in identification later on.

Waiting to leave with the forensic and police teams were two priests -- Anil Shastri and Dinesh Bhagwari. They have been entrusted with the responsibility of carrying out the final rites of those who will now forever rest in Dev Bhumi.
16:52  Live! Bahuguna snubs Modi: Uttarakhand will rebuild Kedarnath temple:  Just in: Uttarakhand chief minister Vijay Bahuguna says the Kedarnath temple will rebuilt by the state. In effect, Bahuguna has snubbed Narendra Modi and the Centre, since both the Gujarat chief minister and the Centre had offered to rebuild the temple complex. The Centre had said that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) will reconstruct the temple. Union Culture Minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch on Monday said that the ASI would renovate the Kedarnath temple and other ancient monuments in the state with the help of Uttarakhand government.
A day after Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi offered to rebuild Kedarnath temple, the Centre on Monday clarified that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) will reconstruct the devastated temple complex in the rain-ravaged state of Uttarakhand.

Union Culture Minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch on Monday said that the ASI will renovate the Kedarnath temple and other ancient monuments in the state with the help of Uttarakhand government. - See more at:
16:42  Alternative to the politics of hatred:  A life-long believer in non-violence, Harsh Mander rebuts Narendra Modi's charge that he is a Maoist sympathiser. Read
16:40  Army bids farewell to jawans killed in militant attack:  The Army today bid a tearful adieu to eight soldiers who were killed in a brazen militant attack at Hyderpora bypass in the outskirts of Srinagar on Monday.

General Officer Commanding of Srinagar-based Chinar Corps, Lt Gen Gurmit Singh, led the officers and jawans in paying floral tributes to the eight soldiers at a ceremony held at the headquarters of Chinar Corps at Badami Bagh Cantonment in Srinagar.

As many as 16 soldiers were also injured in the attack which came just a day before the two-day visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi to the state.
16:23  Snowden 'stuck' at Moscow airport but Russia rejects handover:  US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden today spent a fourth day at a Moscow airport with his onward travel plans still a mystery after Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected calls for his extradition to the US.

The United States told Russia it has a "clear legal basis" to expel Snowden but anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, which helped organise his flight from Hong Kong, said he risks being stuck in Russia "permanently". Meanwhile Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, who by coincidence is expected in Moscow next week for an energy summit, said Caracas would consider any asylum request from Snowden just as Ecuador is doing.
16:16  Gurdwara Hemkunt Sahib to remain closed for the year:  The Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara, located at a height of over 15,000 feet above sea level, which bore the brunt of the recent rain ravage in Uttarakhand may remain closed for the rest of the year as the road link to the 17th century Sikh shrine has been badly damaged.
16:13  Rs 100-cr tourism package for Uttarakhand:  The Tourism Ministry today sanctioned a Rs 100 crore special financial package for restoration and reconstruction of the government tourist facilities damaged due to rains and floods in Uttarakhand.

This will be in addition to the central financial assistance of about Rs 95 crore already sanctioned during the current fiscal for developing tourism infrastructure. The state government has been asked to assess the destroyed and damaged tourist amenities and conveniences and come back with the requirement of funds.

Based on the demand, the Ministry will sanction fresh funds, a statement said. The funds sanctioned in the relief package will be utilised for restoration and reconstruction of tourist infrastructure across the state with a special focus on tourist facilities along yatra route.
16:01  Why are there tensions between two natural allies:   The doctrine of prior restraint and the more potent contempt of court provisions have the potential to disturb the relationship between the judiciary and media. Read
15:41  Julia Gillard to step down as Oz PM, Kevin Rudd will replace her:  Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is to leave office, after the Australian Labor Party voted her out of its leadership Wednesday.She had called for the vote herself after months of friction within the Australian Labor Party.Her rival, former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, will take her place as party leader, after winning the internal ballot by a margin of 57 to 45 votes. Read
15:38  U'khand govt offers paltry Rs 5000 aid to farmers whose fields were washed away:  Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna today said the state government will provide "special economic package" to people whose properties have been destroyed in flash floods in Kedarnath area.

"Even though there is no provision, we will provide a special economic package for the properties that have been destroyed in the flash floods in Kedarnath Valley," he told a press conference.

On relief assistance to be provided to farmers, Bahuguna said the state will provide Rs 5,000 instead of Rs 200 to farmers whose fields have been washed away by floods. The Chief Minister said a total of 15 choppers have been hired by the state government and they have been deployed with the affected districts to provide relief material to villages cut-off due to the rains.
15:16  Modi never claimed to have saved 15,000 stranded Gujaratis: BJP:  Amid a war of words between the Congress and the BJP over reports that Narendra Modi had rescued 15,000 Gujaratis from Uttarakhand, BJP chief Rajnath Singh today said the Gujarat Chief Minister never gave such a statement.

"Modi went to Uttarakhand to express his sympathies and it is being said that he evacuated 15,000 Gujaratis from there. I myself talked to him and he said that he never gave any such statement, Singh said.

"How it is being publicised is beyond understanding," the BJP chief, who is on a two-day visit to the state, said. Singh said he had appealed to party workers that no statement should be given to politicise Uttarakhand disaster.

"I have asked them that there is no need to be aggressive even if leader of any other political party make any statement," he said. "BJP workers are sensitive and consider expressing sympathies and extending helping hand as their religion," Singh said.

Congress had attacked Modi saying he was trying to be a "Rambo" following reports that the Gujarat Chief Minister had helped in evacuating 15,000 Gujaratis who were stuck in Uttarakhand. Meanwhile the BJP also announced a financial assistance of Rs five lakh each to the kin of those killed in the helicopter crash in Uttarakhand yesterday.
15:06  Karnataka agrees to implement FDI in multi-brand retail:   Karnataka has joined 11 other states and union territories that have agreed to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail. There was a change in Karnataka's stand following the the change of government there after the recent assembly polls. The previous BJP-led government was against the implementation of FDI in multi-brand retail in the state. The government had permitted FDI up to 51 per cent in multi-brand retail trading last year.

Earlier this month, Himachal Pradesh also agreed to allow 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail. Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan and Manipur are among other states that have decided to implement the decision.
14:52  Naval Gazing:  From the Foreign Policy: India wants to "look east", but does it have the ships -- and strategic focus -- to be a military player in Asia?
14:49  The bad habit that India has carried over the seas:  When Deven Shah emigrated from the western Indian state of Gujarat to New York in 1983, his addiction to paan went with him. In 2001 he was treated for mouth cancer and the left portion of his jaw was removed. Read
14:47  The Supreme Court issues notices to the West Bengal government and the Centre on a plea of state election commission for the deployment of adequate security forces for the panchayat polls.
14:37  Southeast Asia smog crisis eases as rain douses fires, 1 dead:  Fires in Indonesia that have blanketed Singapore and Malaysia in thick smog eased Wednesday after heavy rain, boosting hopes of an end to Southeast Asia's worst air pollution crisis for years.

The news came as a report said the crisis had claimed its first victim with the death of an asthmatic woman in southern Malaysia, which has been badly affected. The smog from slash-and-burn agricultural fires on Sumatra island pushed haze levels to a record high in Singapore last week, shrouding residential buildings and downtown skyscrapers.
14:26  IPL crorepati Parthiv Patel seeks glorified peon's job:  He drives a BMW, lives in a mansion, and can afford a month's holiday with his family in America. Yet, out-of-favour Test cricketer Parthiv Patel has applied for the job of a "glorified peon' with the income-tax office here for a monthly salary of Rs 15,000, which should be less than the combined pay of his driver and two household hands.

An income-tax official who scrutinised job applications to the office expressed his perplexity to The Telegraph. "We were astounded. Is he serious about the job? Does he really need the money?' he wondered.


Parthiv's father has since denied the story.
14:03  Ceasefire violation along LoC by Pak troops even as PM, Sonia in J-K:   Pakistani troops today violated the ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) by resorting to unprovoked firing for nearly 30 minutes in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir, official sources said.

"Pakistani troops opened fire on Indian posts along the LoC between Saidan and Doda in Poonch sector at 10.45 am," they said. Indian troops fired back to silence the Pakistani guns and the exchange of fire between the two sides continued till 11:15 am. There was, however, no report of any casualty on the Indian side. This is the second time in as many days that Pakistani troops violated the ceasefire along the LoC.

The incident came at a time when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is on a two-day tour of the state.

Yesterday, there was small arms firing on Indian posts in Durga Battalion area in Poonch brigade belt around 1515 hours. The latest incident is the fifth ceasefire violation in June. Earlier this month, a Junior Commissioned Officer was killed when Pakistan opened heavy fire with automatic weapons and rockets on Indian posts along the LoC in Poonch sector.
13:50  Sonia praises Omar for "all round development in J-K":  Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi inaugurated a rail link between Banihal and Qazigund in the Valley. Dr Singh and Mrs Gandhi flagged-off the first train on the 18-km-long section.
Sonia said that the train link would increase employment in Jammu and Kashmir "It is part of UPA's bid to connect far flung areas for development. People are fed up with violence in Jammu and Kashmir, but I must complement Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for all round development in the state," she said.

Omar Abdullah's party, the National Conference, is an UPA ally.
13:38  Jaishankar was PM's choice for foreign secy post:  Even as the government confirmed Sujata Singh's appointment as the new foreign secretary, the much-vaunted ministry of external affairs has faced a summer of discontent.

Here's the backgrounder of what happened behind the scenes.

While there has been a storm brewing over the appointment of next foreign secretary for several months, matters seem to have come to a head now with several top diplomats, including Sujatha Singh -- the senior-most after incumbent Ranjan Mathai threatening to resign if they are overlooked in favour of S Jaishankar, India's ambassador to China and the Prime Minister's Office's choice for the top job.
13:14  Sujata Singh new foreign secretary, was India's envoy to Germany :   Sujata Singh, from the 1976 IFS batch is India's new Foreign Secretary. Singh is India's envoy to Germany, and will take over from incumbent Ranjan Mathai. 
13:04  200 still stranded in Kinnaur, Himachal, as bad weather hits rescue ops:  Even as the focus remains firmly on Uttarakhand, over 200 people remain to be  rescued in rain-ravaged Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. Rescue operations were today hampered and IAF and state choppers could not take off due to bad weather. Choppers were positioned at Rampur, Rekong Peo to make sorties to Pooh, Nako, Gaybang and other places but weather conditions were not conducive due to rain and fog, officials said. 

The IAF and state choppers have so far evacuated 1,395 people but about 200 people, including local residents, are still waiting at various places for the choppers. "We will start sorties as soon as weather improve and try to evacuate maximum persons today," officials coordinating the chopper flights said.
12:58  Monica Lewinskys lingerie and letters from Bill Clinton up for auction:  Personal items, including a negligee, once owned by White House intern Monica Lewinsky and obtained during a federal investigation into her affair with President Bill Clinton are being auctioned off by the Nate D. Sanders auction house. The items were used as part of the highly publicized investigation to impeach the former US President, Fox News reported. During the investigation, it was revealed that Lewinsky was also having an affair with her former high school teacher Andy Bleiler.

According to the auction website, the items were sent to Bleiler's family in the ''90s and now his former wife Kate Nason has decided to put them up for auction. A letter from Clinton to Bleiler - written at Lewinsky's request-is also included in the collection. Other items included are presidential chocolates and a book of White House matches.
12:54  PM, Sonia inaugurate first rail link to Kashmir valley:  Kashmir's dream of an all-weather surface link turned into reality today after Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi inaugurated a rail link between Banihal and Qazigund in the Valley. Dr Singh and Mrs Gandhi flagged-off the first train on the 18-km-long section. Read the full report on NDTV.
12:52  Air rescue ops despite overcast sky, low visibility:   A Pawan Hans pilot engaged in relief and rescue operations in Gauchar said the weather is okay in Uttarkashi with no major hindrance to air rescue operations.

As cremation of decaying bodies recovered from Kedarnath could not be done yesterday due to bad weather, police tried to ensure that the process began today in view of threat of outbreak of an epidemic looming large, officials said.
12:50  Pak Army Chief to visit Sri Lanka:  In other news: Pakistan's Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani will pay a three-day visit to Sri Lanka during which he will meet the top political and military leadership of the country. The visit, starting tomorrow, will be Kayani's second trip to the country since 2011.

During his stay in Sri Lanka, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani will meet the top military leadership of the country, an official statement said. He will also hold discussions on matters of professional interests with Secretary Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa, said the statement.
12:39  The programmer who came in from the cold :  Whether history will remember Edward Snowden as a traitor to his country or as a champion for free speech and less intrusive government is hard to tell, but the issues he has brought into focus need deep thought, writes Ajit Balakrishnan. Read
12:29  Live! Chopper rescues begin in Joshimath, Gaurikund; Met says flights risky today:  Regardless of my disagreements with the army about AFSPA Etc I have to admire & salute the amazing job being done by them, Air Force, ITBP, J-K chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted on June 23.

The Met in Uttarakhand says helicopter movement today is risky, even as air rescue operations begin from Joshimath to Gaurikund. Heavy showers are expected in isolated areas. 
12:17  Why US shouldnt accept Dalrymples reading of Afghan 'history':  With his latest essay on Afghanistan, William Dalrymple has crossed into the wilds of contemporary geo-politics and proved the axiom that history can also be someone's pet interpretation. Or more dangerously, a convenient narrative set to convenience some.
Seema Sirohi holds forth on Dalrymple. Read
12:14  Court of inquiry ordered to investigate U'khand chopper crash :  A Court of Inquiry has been order to investigate the crash, the IAF spokesperson said. IAF said its operations in the area will continue. IAF had started inducting Mi-17 V5 choppers only last year after 80 of them were ordered from Russia. This is the second incident of a helicopter crash this week in the hill state. A private chopper had crashed in Gaurikund area on Sunday leaving the pilot injured.
12:06  Floods in Uttarakhand explained:  The National Remote Sensing Centre under ISRO has released some interesting satellite images that could possibly explain the devastation in Uttarakhand. See
12:06  Uttarakhand floods: Epidemic looms as people complain of fever, diarrhoea:  The fear of an epidemic outbreak in flood-ravaged areas of Uttarakhand may be turning into reality as hundreds of people from local villages reported to medical camps set up by the forces complaining of fever, diarrhoea and vomiting. Read
11:54  You are our guiding beacon: IAF tribute to officers who died:  Wing Commander Darryl Castelino said on Monday that he was happy he was getting to wear his dark green jumpsuit for a big operation to "bring in more and more live people" stranded in Uttarakhand, which has been battered by heavy rain and flash floods since last week. Read
11:42  Women IAF pilots man rescue ops in Uttarakhand:  India may not allow them to fly fighter jets, when even countries like Pakistan do, but women IAF pilots are proving their mettle by flying high-risk missions on their helicopters to rescue stranded people in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand.Meet Squadron leader Khushboo Gupta, who has already flown over 55 sorties in her Cheetah helicopter to the Kedarnath valley and beyond.  Read
11:41  Moderate rains in Uttarkashi:  Moderate rainfall has been reported in Uttarakhand -- Phata, Gaurikund and Guptkashi. Rescue operations are on at Joshimath and Badrinath.

Uttarakhand CM Vijay Bahuguna has announced a Rs 10 lakh compensation for the families of the armed forces personnel killed in the crash.
11:22  Wendy Davis abortion filibuster ends in chaos:  In other news: Texas senator succeeds in delaying vote on anti-abortion bill until midnight deadline but Republicans vote it through anyway. Read
11:18  3000 stranded in Badrinath, 1000 in Harsil: Air chief:  Air chief marshal Browne says priority remains rescuing the living. "Two helicopters have left for Badrinath this morning. There are approximately 3000 to 4000 people stuck in Badrinath and around a 1000 in Harshil. If we get four days of good weather, we should be able to pull out all survivors," he said.

He added that the armed forces were acting in close cooperation with the local government and there was no pressure. 

As far as reconstruction of Uttarakhand was concerned, it would take time. "Heavy material has to be brought in and building of roads and infrastructure will take time. But we are over the hill," he said.

Meanwhile, the Uttarakhand government has announced a state mourning of the 19 armed forces personnel who died in the chopper crash yesterday.
11:07  IAF chief: Cockpit voice recorder recovered, morale remains high :  The air chief NAK Browne speaking to the media in Gauchar says the cockpit voice recorder of the chopper has been recovered. 19 bodies have been recovered from the site of the crash near Gaurikund. There were 5 personnel from IAF, 6 from the ITBP and nine from the NDRF. No one survived the crash," he said. There were a total of 20 people on board.

Responding to a question from a reporter, who can't seem to understand the difference between a calculated risk and being foolhardy, Browne says the weather is always an issue. "We don't if it was the weather or a technical problem. We will know exactly what has happened from the flight recorder, so it's too premature to comment. But, operational risk factor is always considered very closely, reviewed on a daily mission basis, before a chopper sets out on a mission. Very often, the pilot returns if he believes it is unsafe. The crew is highly qualified, highly trained and we leave it up to them to decide, what is safe and what is not.

"The morale of the force remains extremely high. Their performance has been extremely marvellous and yes, any time you lose people it's not a good feeling. But we have to finish the mission. They are doing a great job. We have received tremendous support for the armed forces," he said.
10:44  IAF chief heads to chopper crash site, 19 bodies recovered:  IAF chief NAK Browne says that 19 bodies have been recovered by IAF commandos near Gaurikund in Uttarakhand where an IAF Mi-17 helicopter carrying 20 people had crashed during a rescue mission and all onboard are feared killed. Browne arrives at Gauchar en route to the crash site.

During night-long search operations, Garud commandos recovered four more bodies, IAF sources said, adding that till this morning 12 bodies have been found from the site of yesterday's crash of the large Air Force chopper.

The dead include five IAF officials while the identity of others is being ascertained, they said. There were 20 people on board the chopper - five from IAF, six from ITBP and rest from National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) sources said.

The Mi-17 V5 chopper was on a rescue mission from Gauchar to Guptkashi and Kedarnath and crashed yesterday afternoon while returning from Kedarnath north of Gaurikund, according to an IAF spokesperson.
10:28  Vladimir Putin rules out extradition of Snowden:  President Vladimir Putin of Russia offered the first direct confirmation Tuesday that Edward J Snowden, the fugitive former American national security contractor, was in an international transit area at a Moscow airport, and he appeared to rule out American requests for his extradition to the United States.

Speaking at a news conference while on an official visit to Finland, Putin offered no new information on where Snowden might be headed from the transit area of Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow. But he said Snowden had broken no Russian laws.

Read more here
10:05  US envoy: UN failure to act on Syria is disgrace:  Outgoing US Ambassador Susan Rice says the UN Security Council's failure to take action to stop the conflict in Syria is "a moral and strategic disgrace that history will judge harshly." 

She said at her final news conference yesterday before starting her new job as US national security adviser on July 1 that the paralysis of the UN's most important body is "a stain" on the council that she will regret forever even though she maintained that the US and its allies were not responsible.
09:36  Chinese astronauts complete space mission, return to Earth:  Three Chinese astronauts safely returned to Earth today after a 15-day trip - the longest in country's history -- to a proposed space lab set to be ready by 2020, marking the latest success for China's manned space programme. 

The Shenzhou-10 spacecraft made a safe landing in Gobi desert in inner Magnolia this morning after about 15 minutes re-entry process shown live on the state television.
09:19  Obama discusses Taliban peace talks with Karzai:   US President Barack Obama and his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai has reaffirmed their commitment to the Afghan-led reconciliation process with the Taliban to "end violence" and "ensure lasting stability" in the region. 

The video conference held yesterday was the first round of talks between the two leaders after the Taliban recently opened a political office in Doha, Qatar, for peace talks with the Afghan Government and direct talks with the United States.
08:40  Australia takes Japan to top UN court to stop whaling:  Australia takes its legal battle to stop Japanese whaling in the Antarctic before the UN's highest court today, in an emotionally-charged case activists say is make-or-break for the giant marine mammals' future. 

Canberra will argue before the International Court of Justice in The Hague that Japan is exploiting a loophole by continuing to hunt whales as scientific research in spite of a 1986 International Whaling Commission ban on commercial whaling.
08:20  US Army to cut 80,000 troops by 2017 to reduce budget:  The United States Army has announced to reduce its strength by a whopping 80,000 by 2017 as part of a budget-cutting plan, making it one of the largest force reductions since World War II. 

US Army Chief General Raymond Odierno said that this reduction would impact a number of US bases and its overseas troops presence, but this would have no impact on the presence of the US troops in the Asia Pacific region.
08:12  US Army Chief to visit India next month:  US Army Chief Raymond Odierno has said that he will visit India next month to expand the existing military to military co-operation between the two countries. 

Terming the visit to be an "important relationship for the US", Odierno today said that he would meet Indian Army Chief General Bikram Singh and other defence officials during the visit.
03:12  The Time magazine cover that Myanmar hates:  
Myanmar has banned a controversial Time magazine cover story on Buddhist-Muslim religious violence "to prevent further conflict", according to a government spokesman, after days of angry reaction to the article.

The ban of the piece, which carried a front page photograph of a prominent radical Buddhist monk accused of fuelling anti-Muslim violence with the headline 'The Face of Buddhist Terror', comes despite the apparent easing of censorship rules in a reforming nation whose former military regime closely controlled the media.

Government spokesman Ye Htut posted news of the ban on his Facebook page, attributing the decision to a committee investigating deadly religious violence that has rocked the country as it undergoes democratic reforms.

"The article entitled 'The Face of Buddhist Terror' in TIME magazine July 1 issue is prohibited from being produced, sold or and distributed in original copy or photocopy in order to prevent further racial and religious conflicts," Ye Htut's post said, adding that further details will be in Wednesday's newspapers.

It was unclear how the front cover and accompanying article will be censored in print and online. Under the junta articles deemed inflammatory or dissenting were often torn from newspapers and magazines or inked out altogether. 
03:07  Chopper crash: Modi announces Rs 5 lakh aid:  
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh for the families of armed forces personnel killed in the IAF chopper crash in Uttarakhand.

"I salute our armed forces who sacrificed there lives in saving people in Uttarakhand today. Gujarat government will give aid of Rs 5 lakh to their families," Modi tweeted. 

19 jawans were killed when a sophisticated IAF helicopter crashed in bad weather near Gaurikund in Uttarakhand during rescue operations.
03:06  Was land mafia behind Malda bomb blast?:  
Twelve persons, including a woman, were injured in a bomb blast at a crowded bus stand in Malda district on Tuesday evening, police said. 

Three men came in a motorcycle in front of a grocery shop near Gajol bus stand at about 8 pm, hurled a bomb and fled, police said.

Twelve persons sustained splinter injuries, they said adding four of the victims were hospitalised while others were released after first aid. 

It was being suspected that a group rivalry of land mafia could be behind the incident and the bomb was targeted at some persons.
03:04  UN gives green light to deployment of Mali force:  
The UN Security Council approved the July 1 deployment of a new Mali peacekeeping force tasked with helping the government regain control of rebel-held areas and organize crucial elections while facing harsh logistical challenges in a vast desert territory. 

The June 18 accord between Mali's government and the Tuareg rebels has raised hopes that the West African country is on track to regaining stability after losing half its territory last year to a rebel invasion.

The 15-country Security Council unanimously decided the conditions are in place to start deploying the peacekeeping mission on July 1 as scheduled, Britain's UN Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told reporters after a council meeting. The 12,640-member UN force will replace a 6,000-member African-led mission now in Mali.

Some of the French troops who ousted radical Islamic groups from northern Mali in January will remain in the country, ready to intervene under a soon-to-be signed agreement if the UN mission comes under "imminent and serious threat," said Herve Ladsous, the UN undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations.
03:04  US to Russia: You have legal basis to expel Snowden:  
The White House has insisted that there was a clear legal basis for Russia to expel fugitive leaker Edward Snowden, after President Vladimir Putin rejected earlier US demands. 

"While we do not have an extradition treaty with Russia, there is nonetheless a clear legal basis to expel Snowden," National Security spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told AFP. 

Hayden said that Snowden, currently in a transit facility at Moscow airport, could be expelled on the basis of his travel documents and the pending charges against him. 

"Accordingly, we are asking the Russian government to take action to expel Snowden without delay and to build upon the strong law enforcement cooperation we have had, particularly since the Boston Marathon bombing," she said.

Putin had earlier said that Russia only extradited foreign nationals to countries with which it had a formal extradition treaty -- and it did not have such an agreement with Washington.
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