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LIVE! Going to Congress not an American retreat: Kerry

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September 01, 2013


20:31  Another rhino poached in Kaziranga, 27th this year:  A female rhino was shot dead and its horn stolen in Kaziranga National Park, taking the total number of rhinos killed this year in poaching to 27. Park officials said the six-year-old rhino was shot dead by poachers in the Bagori Range of the park last night.

On hearing gun shots, the authorities launched a search operation and recovered the de-horned rhino's carcass with bullet injuries at around 5.30 pm today, they said.

With this, the total number of rhinos killed by poachers this year has reached to 27.
20:22  Going to Congress not an American retreat: Kerry:  President Barack Obama's decision to seek a Congressional nod for a military strike on Syria is not an American retreat as being described by the Syrian regime, Secretary of State John Kerry said today.

"I don't believe so at all," Kerry told the Fox News Sunday in an interview when asked to comment on the Syrian media statement that seeking congressional authorisation for military action against Syria is "the start of the historic American retreat".

"That is in the hands of the Congress of the United States. The president has made his decision. The President wants to stand up and make certain that we uphold the international norm, that we do not grant impunity to a ruthless dictator to gas his own people," he said in response to a question.

"Anybody who saw those images, anybody who know focuses on the evidence that I just gave you about signatures of sarin in the hair and blood samples of the first responders -- I mean, first responders died. People who went to help the people who were hurt, died in this case," he said.
19:13  UP flood situation remains grim, toll reaches 280:  Over 17 lakh people have been hit by the floods in Uttar Pradesh, where the situation continued to remain grim with the swollen rivers inundating thousands of villages and the death toll in the deluge and other rain-related mishaps climbing to 280.

Two persons died today in Auraiya district in an incident of house collapse. The relief commissioner office said a total population of over 17 lakh has been affected by the floods.

Over 1,000 villages are adversely hit and people have been displaced. NDRF and PAC teams are conducting relief and rescue operations, and camps have been set up in affected districts including Ballia, Allahabad, Ghazipur and others, to provide food and shelter to the affected people.
18:52  Asaram Bapu's supporters stop railway trains in Thane:  Enraged by the arrest of self-styled godman Asaram Bapu, his followers and supporters stopped several trains at Ulhasnagar's railway tracks in the neighbouring Thane district today, official sources said.

Scores of Asaram Bapu supporters staged a rail roko at around 12.30 pm, delaying local trains between the Kalyan-Karjat section for over half-an-hour, they said.

Asaram was arrested by the Jodhpur Police after midnight from his ashram in Indore. His arrest followed an FIR filed by a 16-year-old girl, alleging she was sexually assaulted by Asaram at his ashram in Jodhpur.
18:15  Food scheme: Distribution of grains starts in Delhi:  Distribution of food grains under the ambitious Food Security Programme formally began in the national capital today with Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit offering the entitlement to identified beneficiaries in several areas.

The scheme was launched in Delhi on August 20 by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. At the launch of the scheme, Dikshit had said food grains under the programme would be distributed from September 1.

The chief minister distributed the food grains to the beneficiaries at Lakshmibai Nagar, South Kidwai Nagar, Krishna Menon Marg and Copernicus Marg in central Delhi.

All the areas where Dikshit distributed food grains fall under New Delhi constituency which she represents. A number of Congress MLAs also distributed food grains in their respective constituency.
17:32  Quake jolts Doda, Kishtwar in J-K, sparks panic:  An earthquake of moderate intensity today shook Kishtwar and Doda districts in Jammu and Kashmir, triggering panic among people.

The quake, measuring 3.4 on the Richter scale, jolted the region at around 8.04 am, the Met office said.

There were no reports of any loss of life or damage to property, officials said. Panic-stricken people rushed out of their homes as the quake struck. Yesterday, a tremor, measuring 2.9 on the Ricther scale, had hit the area.
16:28  A look inside Congress' 'war room':  India Today reports: As locations go, you could call it the archetypal war room for the elaborate camouflage that hides it from prying eyes. Situated on a quiet, leafy stretch in Lutyens' Delhi, it gives out nothing about what goes on inside.

All there is at the gate is the address - 15, Rakabganj Road. Yes, it does look important. Policemen - drawn from the Haryana Police - and private securitymen stand guard. But that does not really draw attention on this VIP street.

Across the road is Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati's bungalow.

Read the full story here
16:26  Veteran British broadcaster David Frost dies aged 74:  The Independent reports: Sir David died of a heart attack while on the Queen Elizabeth cruise liner, where he had been due to give a speech.

The presenter fronted a number of programmes, including That Was The Week That Was and The Frost Report.

Read the full story here
14:53  Mandela discharged from hospital: Presidency:  Ailing anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela was discharged from hospital today though his condition remains critical and is at times unstable, the South African Presidency said.

"Former President Nelson Mandela has this morning, 1 September 2013, been discharged from the Pretoria hospital where he has been receiving treatment.

We would like to wish him all the best as he continues his recovery at his Johannesburg home," President Jacob Zuma said in a statement.

"Madiba's (Mandela's clan name) condition remains critical and is at times unstable. Nevertheless, his team of doctors are convinced that he will receive the same level of intensive care at his Houghton home that he received in Pretoria," the statement said.
14:30  Digvijay targets Modi, Swaraj on Asaram controversy:  Stepping up attack on BJP over Asaram Bapu controversy, Congress leader Digvijay Singh today targeted Narendra Modi, asking why he has not taken action on the report of a judicial commission which probed the mysterious death of two boys at the godman's Gujarat ashram.

The remarks by Singh, who claimed that Asaram was close to BJP, came a day after he questioned why opposition leader Sushma Swaraj was "silent" on rape allegation against the self-styled godman when she has been vocal on issue of atrocities on women and accused her party of double standards.

Reacting to it, Swaraj said the law will take its own course.

"In our country we have a law that is same for everybody," she tweeted. But Singh persisted with his charge, "This is very illustrative of the double standrads of the BJP that they cry hoarse on issues where someone else is involved but where one of them is involved, they keep quiet."
13:24  Rape cases: SC wants drastic changes in law for quick disposal:  Setting up of fast-track courts to try rape cases is not sufficient to ensure speedy justice to the victims, the Supreme Court has said, favouring "drastic" amendment in the law for quick disposal of such matters.

"Fast-track courts no doubt are constituted for expeditious disposal of cases involving the charge of rape at the trial stage, but we are perturbed and anguished to notice that although there are fast-track courts for disposal of such cases, we do not yet have a fast-track procedure for dealing with cases of rape and gang rape with the result that such heinous offences are repeated incessantly," a bench headed by Justice Gyan Sudha Misra said.

"We are of the considered opinion that there is pressing need to introduce drastic amendments into the CrPC," it said.

Expressing concern that the Centre was not taking any steps to amend the law to ensure fast-track procedure, the apex court sought response from the government on why statements of victims and witnesses in rape cases be not recorded by a judicial magistrate which can be treated as an evidence instead of the police recording them which is inadmissible.
13:04  Asaram lands at Jodhpur airport, cops to seek 7-day custody:   Controversial godman Asaram Bapu, accused of sexually assaulting a minor, who was was arrested by the Jodhpur police from his ashram in Indore past midnight on Sunday has landed at the Jodhpur airport.

He is likely to be produced in court shortly. His followers were not allowed to enter Jodhpur.

More details are awaited.
11:54  Bhatkal took advantage of free passage at Indo-Nepal border:  Arrested Indian Mujahideen operative Yasin Bhatkal and his associate used to take advantage of the unhindered passage on the Indo-Nepal border, 110 km of which lay in Bihar.

Interrogation of Bhatkal and his associate, Asadulla Akhtar alias Haddi, after their arrest from Nahar Chowk in Raxual sub-division of East Champaran district on Thursday revealed that they frequently travelled between the two countries without facing any problem.

Local people said that one has to spent as little as Rs 35 to reach Birganj in Nepal from Raxual in Bihar, a four- kilometre distance, by cycle-rickshaw. Three-wheelers standing in queue on either side of the border charged Rs 12 for each passenger for the same distance.

No passport or any travel document were required for passage between the two countries.
11:04  Mumbai gang rape: Accused to undergo identification soon:   The Mumbai police plans to conduct test identification parade of the five accused in the photojournalist gang rape case as soon as they are remanded in judicial custody.

"Currently all the five arrested accused will remain in police custody until September 5. When they would be produced before a court on the last day, we would seek further custody of the culprits," a Crime Branch official said.

"However, if we do not get extension in the police custody and the accused are sent to judicial custody, then we would immediately go for identification parade," he said.

According to the officer, the investigators were determined to complete all the legal procedures at the earliest and file the charge sheet so that the accused are handed down the highest punishment at the earliest.

The 23-year-old photojournalist was sexually assaulted at a defunct and deserted Shakti Mills compound in Parel area on the evening of August 22 when she had gone there on  an assignment with a male colleague.
09:44  NIA gets new, swanky office in Delhi:  Counter-terrorism body the National Investigation Agency has moved to a new office in the heart of New Delhi at 1, Jai Singh Road. 

The NIA, which was functioning from the District Centre, Jasola, has been given two floors in the swanky building in the New Delhi district that once was the headquarters of Commonwealth Games Organising Committee. 

The NIA has been given the sixth and seventh floors of the NDCC-II Building at Jai Singh Road, officials said. The state-of-the-art building also houses some offices of the Prime Minister's Office, ministry of home affairs and external affairs ministry among others, they said. 

The spacious new office will help the central counter-terrorism law enforcement agency, which was facing a space crunch since its inception in 2008, to equip itself with more infrastructure and technological advancements to aid the investigation of cases under probe.
09:05  Asaram flown to Jodhpur by morning flight:  Self-styled godman Asaram Bapu was today flown to Jodhpur by the police, hours after his arrest from his ashram in Indore for allegedly sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl. The sexual assault case was filed by an inmate of his Chhindwara-based ashram in Madhya Pradesh. The assault allegedly took place in Jodhpur following which a case was initially registered in Delhi and later transferred to Jodhpur for probe.

Air India flight AI-635 carrying Asaram left at 7.50 am and will land at New Delhi from where he will board another flight for Jodhpur, sources said. 

Asaram, 72, was arrested by the Jodhpur police after midnight from his ashram and was taken to Indore airport escorted by a large posse police personnel.      He spent the night at the airport, the sources said. 

The arrest was made after a team of doctors from Indore's Medical College found him fit for questioning and travel, the sources said.
00:16  There's not even a scratch on girl's body: Asaram's lawyer:  
Lawyers representing Asaram Bapu in the alleged sexual assault case involving a minor girl have claimed the FIR registered against him is "vague" and smacks of "conspiracy".

"If you see the medical report of the girl, you will know that she was not at all assaulted. There is not even a scratch on her body. All allegations against Asaram Bapu are false and baseless," Asaram's counsel Ishkaran Bhandari told reporters. 

The 16-year-old girl had registered an FIR against the self-styled godman for allegedly sexually abusing him at Jodhpur ashram.

Asaram, against whom summons were issued by Jodhpur police, failed to appear before them for questioning even though the deadline for the same expired on Friday. His son Narayan Sai today said Asaram was not evading arrest but recuperating at his ashram from illness. 

Rahul Vijaywargia, another lawyer representing Asaram, alleged there was purposeful delay in registration of FIR against Asaram. "This shows there is a conspiracy behind filing of the FIR. Even though the investigation in the case is yet to begin, the FIR itself appears vague," he said. 
00:13  Taliban deny reports of secret peace talks with Pak:  
The Pakistani Taliban has denied it was holding secret peace talks with the government, saying all reports about parleys were "complete propaganda". 

Shahidullah Shahid, the spokesman for the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), told reporters in Peshawar on phone that his group was not holding any secret peace talks.

He said media reports about talks were not true as the Taliban Shura (Council) is yet to decide on the issue. 

"I categorically deny the holding of peace talks on any level between the Taliban and Pakistani government," he said. 

"No contacts have even been made between us, nor have we received any offer to initiate peace talks. It is complete propaganda, the government must make it public if it has any proof of any such talks," Shahid said. 

Most Pakistani newspapers today carried reports of talks between the Taliban and the government. 

"Unofficial talks between the government side and Taliban are in progress," Information Minister Pervez Rashid was quoted as saying by the Dawn daily.
00:12  Andhra stir hits Tirumala income:  
The on-going strike opposing the proposed bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh Seemandhra agitation against the Centres decision to create Telangana state has not only affected normal life in the state but also hit the income and inflow of devotees at the famous hill shrine of Lord Venkateswara at Tirumala.

Highly placed temple sources told PTI today that as a result of the strike, the cash offering made by devotees in the hundi (offerings box) of the hill temple in August has netted about Rs 61.5 crore with, which was about Rs 16 crore less than in the same month last year. 

The inflow of pilgrims too has come down in August to 19.5 lakh against 23 lakh pilgrims in the month last year, they said.

However, the strike evoked no impact on sale of worship tickets at the shrine as the Rs 300 special entry darshan tickets and other rituals tickets in August has accounted to Rs 15.5 crore, almost the same as fetched during the same month last year, they said. 
00:11  Microsoft, Google to sue US over releasing user data requests:  
Technology firms Microsoft and Google are set to sue the US government after the failure of their talks on releasing official requests for user data. 

The two technology giants filed suits in June, demanding a right to disclose more information about user data requests made under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act FISA. Their representatives met six times with US officials and agreed to extend the deadlines for the government to reply to the lawsuits, allowing time for negotiations that ended in failure, Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said. 

"We hoped that these discussions would lead to an agreement acceptable to all. While we appreciate the good faith and earnest efforts by the capable government lawyers with whom we negotiated, we are disappointed that these negotiations ended in failure," Smith said in a blog post. 

"To followers of technology issues, there are many days when Microsoft and Google stand apart," Smith said. 

"But today our two companies stand together...We believe we have a clear right under the US Constitution to share more information with the public." 
00:11  US can't be judgemental, should give Modi visa: Blackwill:  
Former United States Ambassador to India Robert Blackwill, who met Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad on Saturday, has said that the US should grant visa to the Gujarat Chief Minister.

"He (Modi) is a prominent political thinker in India. And, I don't believe United States is in a position, thousands of miles away, to have a magisterial opinion about what happens here in India....That's upto the Indians...," Blackwill said when asked by the reporters about US's denial of visa to Modi.

"So, my own view is that he should be issued a visa, if and when he wishes to visit United States...," Blackwill, who served as US ambassador in the country during 2001-03, said. 

Blackwill is now a senior fellow of US Council on Foreign Relations and a lobbyist. 

In 2005, the US denied Modi a diplomatic visa and revoked his existing tourist/business visa under the Immigration and Nationality Act, which makes a foreign government official who is responsible for particularly severe violations of religious freedom ineligible for an American visa.
00:06  Top headlines at this hour:  Asaram Bapu likely to be arrested on Sunday

Jagdish Tytler, Abhishek Verma forged Maken's letterhead: CBI

'The juvenile was the most brutal, how can he get just three years?'

Delhi gang rape: Juvenile found GUILTY; victim's kin feel cheated 

Jagdish Tytler, Abhishek Verma forged Maken's letterhead: CBI

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