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LIVE! Kerry calls on Qatar and Turkey to gain release of Israeli soldier

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August 01, 2014


23:22  US Senate approves USD 225 million for Iron Dome:  The US Senate has approved USD 225 million to replenish Israel's missile defence system, and House approval is expected before lawmakers begin a summer break. 

The money will go to restocking Israel's Iron Dome defence, which has been credited with shooting down dozens of incoming rockets fired by Hamas during a three-week war.
23:12  Kerry calls on Qatar and Turkey to gain release of Israeli soldier:  Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday urged Qatar and Turkey to use their influence to secure the release of an Israeli soldier who had been abducted in Gaza shortly after an announced cease-fire was to go into effect.

"Hamas, which has security control over the Gaza Strip, must immediately and unconditionally release the missing Israeli soldier, and I call on those with influence over Hamas to reinforce this message,' Mr. Kerry said in a statement.
22:46  2 Americans detained in North Korea seek US help:  Two American tourists charged with "anti-state" crimes in North Korea said today that they expect to be tried soon and pleaded for help from the US government to secure their release from what they say could be long prison terms. 

In their first appearance since being detained more than three months ago, Matthew Todd Miller and Jeffrey Edward Fowle told a North Korean AP Television News crew that they were in good health and were being treated well.
22:30  Aid convoy returns as Egypt closes border with Gaza:  Aid supplies and food could not reach Gaza from the Egyptian side today as the border was closed after fighting intensified following the collapse of a 72-hour truce agreed between Hamas and Israel. 

A convoy of four trucks carrying humanitarian aid and food returned to Al-Arish, without being able to cross the Rafah crossing border, a security source said.
21:51  Kerala seeks special flight to bring back nurses:  Kerala today urged the Centre to immediately arrange a special flight for passage of the Indian nurses who had left strife-torn Libya to neighbouring Tunisia to come back home.

In a letter to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj,Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said 58 nurses had already left for Tunisia from Libya by road. Another 48 nurses had expressed their willingness to leave Libya.

In the prevailing circumstances it would take at least 10 days for them to catch normal flights from Tunisia to get back home, the CM wrote. Considering this, the Centre should arrange a special flight to take them home from Tunisia free of cost, Chandy said.
21:30  Sonia, Rahul should take 2-yr break: former CWC member:  Former Congress Working Committee member Jagmit Singh Brar today created a flutter with his remarks that there was "no harm" if Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi take a two-year break in the wake of Lok Sabha poll debacle.

Brar, a former MP from Punjab also said that all general secretaries of the AICC should have resigned by now after the worst drubbing of Congress and the party mantle be handed over to a new set of leaders. Brar, who has been sulking for long, is the first Congress leader, who has demanded that the Gandhis should be out of leadership even for a brief period.

The Congress leader at the same time said that whatever he was saying was as a Congressman, who has spent years in the party and he believes that Gandhis can stage a comeback after a brief respite and in the meantime, some leader can head the party.
21:10  Nine terror suspect killed, one captured in Xinjiang:  The Chinese police today shot dead nine suspected militants and captured another in northwestern China's restive Xinjiang region, which has witnessed brazen terror attacks by native Uygur separatists in recent times. The incident happened in Hotan Prefecture as violence escalated in the border province.

The suspects were identified by police on July 27 while they were investigating a terrorist group, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

According to the report, more than 30,000 volunteers helped police track down the suspects hiding in a corn field in Purgakqi Township of Karakax County.
21:04  Tihar conference room declared special jail for Sahara chief:  The conference room of Delhi's Tihar jail has been declared a "special jail" which will be offered to Sahara group chairman Subrata Roy to hold negotiations for sale of his luxury hotels in New York and London.

The Supreme Court in its decision today allowed Roy to stay in and use the conference room of the jail for 10 days to negotiate the sale of his luxury hotels to raise Rs 10,000 crore so the money can be deposited as ordered by the court to secure his bail.

Sources in Tihar told PTI all the arrangements will be made for Roy at the conference room within the Tihar complex. Besides other facilities, the conference room has a toilet attached to it.
20:04  'Busy' BJP chief need not appear in court :   A special CBI court today granted exemption to BJP President Amit Shah from personal appearance in two alleged fake encounter cases.

Despite CBI's opposition, the court granted exemption to Shah, who did not appear in the court. He had stated in his application that he was president of a national party and was busy meeting party leaders from different states as assembly elections are scheduled later in the year.
19:42  Modi to become first PM to visit Nepal after 17 years :   With neighbourhood being the priority of his foreign policy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to Nepal on Sunday on a two-day visit during which the two countries are expected to sign agreements in sectors like power and India may announce economic aid.

This will be the first bilateral visit by an Indian PM to Nepal in 17 years, after I K Gujral had travelled there in June 1997, signalling the resolve of the new government here to take the relations with that country to a higher level.

Modi will have talks with his Nepalese counterpart Sushil Koirala and get the honour of addressing that country's Constituent assembly, only the second foreign leader after former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl who had done it in early 1990s. He will also visit the famous Pashupatinath Temple where he is expected to participate in a special puja.
19:37  Ceasefire in Gaza collapses:  Massive Israeli shelling killed at least 50 people in the Hamas-ruled Gaza following the collapse of a 72-hour ceasefire shortly after it began today, while two of its soldiers were killed and another was believed to have been abducted by Palestinian militant groups.   

The humanitarian ceasefire -- brokered by the US and the UN to end more than three weeks of fighting between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip -- collapsed just two hours after it began this morning.
18:42  In Pictures: How Sonia Gandhi found someone to ghost-write her autobiography. Take a look.
18:32  Facebook Wall: Reactions to Aamir Khan posing nude on PK poster:  Facebook Wall: Reactions to Aamir Khan posing nude on PK poster, from the Unreal Times. Read
18:22  58 Indian nurses in Libya on their way to Tunisia border :  As many as 58 Indian nurses in Libya, who have indicated that they would like to return home, are on their way back.

Syed Akbaruddin, the MEA spokesperson has indicated that the 58 Indian nurses were seen off from Libya at Ras Jedir post by Ambassador Azar Khan. Ambassador Nagma Malik will be awaiting them on the other side of the border in Tunisia.

There are 750 nurses among the 4,500 Indians in Libya. External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj chaired a high-level meeting on the Libyan situation on Wednesday and it was decided to send a joint secretary-level officer to facilitate the return of Indians from the strife-torn country.
18:16  Rajan meets Jaitley ahead of monetary policy review:  Days ahead of bi-monthly monetary policy review, Reserve Bank Governor Raghuram Rajan today met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to discuss economic issues.

"I caught up on economic issues with the Finance Minister," Rajan said after the meeting here. The RBI is scheduled to announce its third bi-monthly Monetary Policy Review on August 5. When asked about stock markets plunging today, Rajan said: "We are not immune to what is happening in world markets."

The BSE benchmark index Sensex today plummeted by 414.13 points to end the day at 25,480.84 points. There is a widespread expectation that the RBI is likely to maintain status quo in the policy review.
18:07  Modi has ended his honeymoon with the media:  The medias gripe with the new occupant of Race Course Road has already filled up many columns of the press, particularly the English language publications.

Accustomed to being courted, wooed and briefed about each and every aspect of government by an active media department of the prime ministers office that invariably included former journalists with existing links in the media, the fourth estate is miffed with Modi.

Not only has the media policy been replaced by an information policy where the print and electronic media are treated on par with the social media, there is no one in the PMO to take calls and entertain queries.

Read Swapan Dasgupta's column for the Telegraph.
17:53  58 Indian nurses to leave Libya shortly:  58 Indian nurses 'fast tracked" at Ras Jedir checkpost. Passports stamped with exit permits. Libyan authorities to escort them out shortly, says the MEA. 
17:49  Beijing burglar wakes up house owners by flushing toilet:  A thief in Beijing gave himself away during a routine house burglary when he took a break from his pilfering to use the toilet and woke the home owners up with the flushing sound. Read
17:24  Palghar: Maharashtra's 36th district:  Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan today inaugurated the new district Palghar, making it the 36th district of the state. The district with headquarters at Palghar, has been carved out of country's biggest district Thane. It has a population of nearly 29 lakhs.
17:22  Advice for young women from Hillary Clinton:  And from the woman who was wronged, words of advice.  Regardless of what you may think of her politics, most can agree that Hillary Rodham Clinton has always made women's issues a priority around the world. As a former United States Secretary of State, First Lady, and candidate for the Presidency, Hillary has gained valuable insights from her travels, experiences, and leadership, which she shares in her internationally bestselling books. Read
17:11  Monica Lewinsky on shame and survival:   Look who's back! She tried public appearances. She tried being reclusive. She tried leaving the country, and she tried finding a job. But the epic humiliation of 1998, when her affair with Bill Clinton became an all-consuming story, has followed Monica Lewinsky every day.

After 10 years of self-imposed reticence, and now hoping to help victims of Internet shaming, she critiques the culture that put a 24-year-old through the wringer and calls out the feminists who joined the chorus.

Read
17:09  Putin v Obama: Russian deputy prime minister mocks Obama with catty pictures on Twitter :  Is this derogatory too? Dmitry Rogozin, the Russian deputy prime minister, posted a picture on Twitter showing President Putin holding a small leopard while sat in an enclosure, spliced next to a picture of President Obama stood in a studio and holding a small, white dog. The image appeared with the message: "We have different values and allies". Read
16:59  The article titled 'How Meaningful are Jayalalithaa's Love Letters to Narendra Modi' too has been removed from the Sri Lanka defence website. The article had picture suggesting Jaya was dreaming about Modi.
16:57  Jaya asks Modi to summon Sri Lanka envoy:  Calling it a vile and baseless article, Jayalalithaa has written to the PM over the derogatory article and asked him to summon the Sri Lankan envoy. 
16:54  Sri Lanka's 'unqualified' apology for pic of Jayalalithaa dreaming of Modi:  The Sri Lankan government has issued an 'unqualified apology' for the article that was posted on the government defence website. The article titled , "How meaningful are Jayalalitha's love letters to Narendra Modi?"

The article was accompanied by a picture of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa holding a pen and writing, a thought bubble (in the shape of a heart) with PM Narendra Modi's picture on it.

Political parties in Tamil Nadu took offence to the picture and the article. While the AIADMK raised the issue in the parliament, DMK, MDMK and PMK asked the government to demand an apology from Sri Lanka.

Within hours, the article was removed from the website. Sometime after 4.00 pm the website posted an apology. 

TN CM Jayalalithaa has now asked the PM to summon the Sri Lanka envoy.

Read the apology

16:39  Sohrabuddin case: Brother wants narco test on Amit Shah:  Slain gangster Sohrabuddin Sheikh's brother today moved the special CBI court seeking directions to conduct narco-analysis test on BJP President Amit Shah and 37 others accused in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Tulsiram Prajapati encounter cases. The court is likely to hear the application on August 14.

In the application moved before special CBI judge B H Loya, Sheikh's brother Rubabuddin said that the CBI has not decided who was the mastermind behind his brother's killing.

"CBI has not decided on the mastermind and the role of each accused", said Rubabuddin through his lawyer Feroz Khan Phatan.

According to the CBI, gangster Sohrabuddin, who was claimed to have links to Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba, and his wife Kauser Bi were abducted by Gujarat's Anti-Terrorism Squad when they were on way from Hyderabad to Sangli in Maharashtra and killed in an alleged staged encounter near Gandhinagar in November 2005. Prajapati, an eyewitness to the encounter, was killed by police at Chapri village in Banaskantha district of Gujarat in December 2006.

According to the CBI, Shah was allegedly involved in the conspiracy behind both the incidents.
16:31  Want a tax break? Try saying yoga is not physical exercise :  The Washington, DC City Council has passed a "yoga tax," which taxes gym and fitness center memberships in the city, yoga advocates are trying to contort their way out of the tax service at a "fitness club, fitness center, or gym the purpose of which is physical exercise." Read
16:15  Naturally, they did not come to have dinner with me: Natwar on meeting Sonia, Priyanka :   Man of the moment Natwar Singh's tart comments on his meeting with Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka... "Naturally, they did not come to have dinner with me."

Here's the background. In 2004, a meeting was held on May 18, where Manmohan Singh, Gandhi family friend Suman Dubey, Priyanka and Natwar Singh were present. Priyanka said Rahul had told Sonia to withdraw her name and nominate Manmohan Singh for PMship.

Given the embarrassment that the revelation could make, Sonia and Priyanka met him on May 7, this year, and urged him to keep it out of his book.

And the other big embarrassment for the Gandhis.

"I can substantiate my claim (files going to 10 Janpath), do you think Pulok Chatterjee went to have lunch with her?"

Here's the backgrounder: Natwar Singh said Sonia had access to government files and Pulok Chatterjee, IAS officer in PMO, used to take them to her to her residence at 10, Janpath. 
15:51  Israel, Hamas truce crumbles:  Israel says it is resuming operations in Gaza after a planned 72-hour ceasefire collapses, reports the BBC. The truce crumbled two hours after coming into effect at 05:00 GMT after Gaza militants attacked Israel. Some 1,460 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have died in the conflict, health officials say. 
15:40  Subrata Roy allowed secretarial staff in Tihar for sale of assets:  The Supreme Court has allowed Sahara group chairman Subrata Roy to use use a 540 square feet conference room with an attached toilet and a 144 square feet annexe within Tihar Jail complex to start negotiations for sale of the group's 'big ticket' hotels in London and New York.

The special permission is valid for 10 working days. He will also be allowed the use of secretarial staff within Tihar.

Solicitor Harish Salve has sought flexibility in the time limit, saying negotiations with prospective buyers from Los Angeles and New York could go beyond 8 pm. 
15:39  JD MP Pappu Yadav throws paper confetti at LS Speaker:   In yet another low in Parliament, Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav threw paper confetti at Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Friday when she refused to entertain his request for raising the controversy over Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) paper.

Pappu Yadav, who represents Bihar's Madhepura constituency, was demanding a reply from Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the UPSC controversy. The Speaker had refused to entertain the request following which he started throwing confetti.

However, the MP said that he did not tear and throw any piece of paper at the Speaker but was just demanding quick action on the issue. "I threw papers at the ground to draw attention to the issue and demanded answers from the Home Minister," he said.

14:55  Obama looks forward to summit with Modi:  US President Barack Obama has said that he looks forward to the summit with PM Narendra Modi to set an ambitious new agenda in ties, US
Secy of State John Kerry said today. The PM has also said that India and the  US should prepare for concrete outcomes during the Summit in September to take the relationship to an entirely new level.
14:13  Goel's U-turn: If other states are developed people won't come to Delhi:  BJP MP Vijay Goel's quick U-turn from his statement that the inflow of migrants into Delhi needs to be stopped to solve the problems of the capital.

Goel said he meant that if other states are developed then people won't have to come to Delhi. "I have been misquoted," he said.

Yesterday Goel said, "Every day more migrants come to Delhi... Most of them are from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. They come here because they don't have employment opportunities in their states," Goel said.

Both the BJP and the Congress have slammed the MP for his statement.
14:06  3-day Gaza ceasefire goes into effect:  A three-day ceasefire in the Gaza Strip went into effect today following heavy Israel-Hamas fighting that killed 17 Palestinians and five Israeli soldiers.

The ceasefire, announced by the US and the UN hours earlier, took effect at 8:00 am  today.

US Secretary of State John Kerry cautioned there were "no guarantees" that the lull would bring an end to the Gaza war, now in its fourth week. Israel and Hamas both said they would respect the ceasefire but would respond to attacks.

At least four short humanitarian ceasefires have been announced since the conflict began, but each has been broken within a few hours by renewed fighting.
13:49  IAF Jaguar crashes in Kutch, pilot ejects to safety:  Indian Air Force's Jaguar fighter plane crashes in Gujarat's Kutch district, pilot ejects to safety.
13:46  Does the Juvenile Justice Act need amendment?:  'Suicide rates among Indian farmers were a chilling 47 per cent higher than they were for the rest of the population in 2011. In some of the states worst hit by the agrarian crisis, they were well over 100 per cent higher. In Maharashtra, farmers were killing themselves at a rate that was 162 per cent higher than that for any other Indians excluding farmers. A farmer in this state is two-and-a-half times more likely to commit suicide than anyone else in the country, other than farmers,' says P Sainath.

Read the column on Rediff.com.
13:30  Bill to amend Juvenile Justice Act in Parliament on Wednesday:   The Cabinet is likely to take up the Juvenile Justice Act in Parliament on Wednesday.

On June 18, India's Ministry of Women and Child Development had stated that the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, would be repealed and re-enacted.

This amended bill will be introduced in Parliament to replace the Act.

Under the bill, in cases where children aged between 16 and 18 are accused of serious crimes including murder, rape and acid attacks, authorities will conduct an assessment of factors including the "premeditated nature" of the offence and "the child's ability to understand the consequences of the offence".

Based on the assessment, children can be prosecuted in an ordinary criminal court, and punished as adults if convicted. They cannot be sentenced to death or life imprisonment without the possibility of release.

So, does the Juvenile Justice Act need amendment? Read
12:52  John Kerry meets PM Narendra Modi at 7, RCR :   Visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry has arrived at 7, Race Course Road and is meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The meeting comes a day after Kerry met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for the 5th India-US Strategic Dialogue, reports Zee News.

Notably, Kerry's is the first high-level contact of the US government with the Modi government. Kerry arrived here on Wednesday on a three-day visit to strike up the US' first high-level engagement with the Modi government.
12:45  Two militants killed in encounter in Keran sector near LoC:  In the first incursion since new army chief Dalbir Singh Suhag took over yesterday, two militants were killed in an overnight encounter with security forces in Keran sector near the Line of Control in Kashmir as they were trying to return to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), a defence spokesman informed on Friday.

The two militants were killed during an operation launched by army in Keran sector of Kupwara district on Thursday following a specific input about their movement in the area, the spokesman said.
12:38  Rajdeep Sardesai launches his own website :  Miss watching Rajdeep Sardesai on CNN IBN? Try this: http://rajdeepsardesai.net. As he he puts it: Delighted to be launching my personal website: http://rajdeepsardesai.net  more to follow in weeks and months ahead.
12:36  Indian nurses in Libya to be moved :   India makes arrangements for move of first group of 58 nurses from Libya to Tunisia across Ras Jedir border today, says the MEA.

A large numbers of Indian nurses are caught in the spiralling violence in Libya, where rival militant groups seek to control the capital's international airport. The nurses have approached the Indian mission for help and even evacuation. But for some, returning home is not an option.
12:29   Rajya Sabha adjourned twice during Question Hour after uproar over UPSC exam row.
12:24  Cong: Vijay Goel is trying to be Raj Thackeray of Delhi :   And the Congress finds a stick to beat the BJP with. Rajiv Shukla on Vijay Goel's comment:  "By saying people from outside should not come to live here, he is trying to be the Raj Thackeray of Delhi."

This is with reference to North Indian students, including students from Bihar, preparing for a railway entrance exam, were attacked by Raj Thackeray's MNS supporters in Mumbai in 2008. The MNS has demanded that migrants from Bihar and UP should return home.
12:10  BJP: Delhi is for all:  And damage control from the BJP. Party leader CP Thakur said today that  Delhi was for all, everyone had a right to live here. "He should have thought a bit before saying this," said Thakur. 
12:07  Stop Bihar, UP migrants from settling in Delhi: BJP MP Vijay Goel:  BJP leader Vijay Goel has stirred up a hornet's nest in the Rajya Sabha yesterday as the upper house debated the Delhi budget.

IBN Live reports that Goel said the inflow of migrants into Delhi needs to be stopped to solve the problems of the capital.

"Every day more migrants come to Delhi... Most of them are from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. They come here because they don't have employment opportunities in their states," Goel said.

"These migrants settle in slums, which later become unauthorised colonies. If we have to solve the problems of Delhi, we need to stop this inflow of migrants," he said.

Goel also suggested opening branches of Delhi University colleges in other states to stop migrant inflow.

"Students come here every year because there aren't any good colleges in their states. We can open branches of colleges in other states to stop this inflow," said Goel.

The Lok Sabha on Wednesday passed the budget for Delhi, which is at present under President's rule.
11:58  Q&A with Indian tribal rights activist Soni Sori:  "The police officials started abusing me, calling me a whore and saying I indulge in sexual acts with Maoists. They stripped me naked, made me stand in an "attention' position and gave me electric shocks on various parts of my body. I still didn't relent. "

Soni Sori and women under siege. Read
11:37  Natwar: I look forward to reading Sonia Gandhi's book:  Natwar Singh, former Congress leader, has told NDTV today that the strong reaction from Sonia Gandhi to his new book, proves that it "has touched a raw nerve."   

He  claims that  "50 Congressmen" called him to congratulate him for "telling the truth" in his new book. 

Singh described Gandhi's  son, Rahul, as "a good person" but  said he does not have the fire needed to serve as a full-time politician.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi had said on Thursday that she would write her own book and that the truth would be revealed.

She was reacting to the retinue of charges levelled against her by Singh in his new book, "One Life is Not Enough: An Autobiography", in which he describes her as  "a prima donna", "venomous" and "obsessively suspicious."

Singh, 83, said he looks forward to reading his former boss' book. Singh was a close confidante of the Gandhi family; when the Congress-led coalition came to power in 2004, he was made Foreign Minister but was forced to quit a year later after allegations of corruption. 
11:16  Have achhe din arrived? Sorry, PMO doesn't have it on records:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi's office can't say if "achhe din" have indeed arrived -- it just doesn't have the records.

The Hindustan Times reports that early this month, Modi's office received a query under the right to information act: "if the PMO has witnessed the arrival of achhe din aka good days since 16th May 2014 across India".

The PMO expressed inability to answer the apparently mischievous query sent in by Tehseen Poonawala, a pro-Congress entrepreneur.

"It may please be noted that under the act, only information which is held or accessible as per records can be provided," the PM's office said in a July 28 reply.

The query was not specific and had "a qualitative opinion/view' that was beyond the scope of the act, SE Rizvi, director and central public information officer, added to the PMO reply.

Modi, the PM, had gone back on every poll promise he made, Poonawala has said.

The Modi government took oath of office on May 16, riding high on BJP's poll pitch of achhe din aane wale hai (good days are round the corner).
11:02  Army Chief warns Pakistan on beheading-like incident:   On his first day in office, Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag today warned Pakistan that India's response to any beheading-like incident in future would be "more than adequate, intense and immediate".

"I can tell you that our response to any such act will be more than adequate in future. It will be intense and immediate," he told reporters after his welcome Guard of Honour as Chief of Army Staff.

The new Army Chief was asked how did India give a 'befitting reply' to Pakistan after the beheading of Indian soldier Lance Naik Hemraj along the Line of Control in Poonch sector on January 8, last year by Pakistani troops.

Previous Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh had yesterday stated that India had given a befitting reply to Pakistan after the beheading incident.
11:01  But India says it is committed to TFA as WTO talks fail:   Notwithstanding the failure of WTO members to reach a consensus on Trade Facilitation Agreement to simplify global customs rules, India today said it remains committed to the pact and will continue to pursue its proposal to find a permanent solution to its food security issues.

Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher said the WTO will be on vacation for a month and during this time, India will focus on follow up action. "This is a good enough time to think about our follow up action. Obviously our proposal is there on the table and we will pursue our proposal," Kher told PTI.

Last night, the 160-member World Trade Organization (WTO) at Geneva failed to agree on a global customs pact popularly called as the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).
10:29  US blames India for collapse of TFA talks:  
The US has blamed India for the collapse of the talks for a Trade Facilitation Agreement and said that New Delhi taking a hardline position has put the future of World Trade Organisation in "uncertain ground".

In a statement, the US has regretted that "India and handful of (WTO) Members" decided not to adhere to their commitment to implement the TFA consistent with the Bali agreement.

India has been maintaining that it would not adopt the protocol on the TFA until a permanent solution is found on the public stock holding for food security purposes. 

"The US is fully committed to the multilateral trading system embodied in the WTO. But the WTO system relies on its Members to implement the commitments to which they have agreed," US Trade Representative Mike Froman said in a statement, expressing his deep disappointment over the failure of the agreement on TFA.

"Geneva will be quiet for the next several weeks. This is a good time for all of us to reflect on these developments and to consider the implications going forward. We will consult with our trading partners on potential paths forward," Froman said.

Meanwhile, a trade official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said it is "incredibly sad" that India has not upheld its Bali commitment and this has put the WTO in a highly new "uncertain" ground.
10:25  National Herald Case: HC to hear petitions by Rahul, Sonia:  
The Delhi High Court will on Friday hear the petitions moved by its national president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi in connection with the National Herald case. 

Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi were summoned by the court in June after BJP leader Subramanian Swamy filed a complaint accusing them of cheating and misappropriation of funds in acquiring ownership of now-defunct daily National Herald. 
 
In his petition, the senior BJP leader had alleged misappropriation of assets worth Rs 2000 crore of the National Herald newspaper. Swamy had also accused Sonia and Rahul and others of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds by just paying Rs 50 lakh by which Young Indian obtained the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore which the AJL had owed to the Congress party. 

Swamay alleged that in the present scenario over Rs 2,000 crore worth of assets also got transferred to YI, whose 76 per cent of shareholding vests with Sonia and Rahul Gandhi and the remaining shareholding of 24 per cent vests with the other accused. 

The Congress is hoping that the Gandhis who have been summoned for misappropriation of funds will get relief. 
10:09  Pune landslide disaster toll rises to 50:  
The death toll in the Pune landslide disaster rose to 50 on Friday morning as rescue operations continued in the landslide-hit Malin village. 

"So far we have recovered 50 bodies. The relief and rescue work continues on a war-footing," Pune Collector Saurabh Rao said.
 
The landslide wiped away almost the entire village on Wednesday.

It has also come to light that around two dozen people were sleeping on a platform of the village temple premises in Malin and they may have been washed away in the adjacent river. 

A team of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has started a combing operation along the banks of the river, now in a spate due to incessant rains, to search for victims or survivors. 

Braving all odds, the relief and rescue teams continued to search for survivors or bodies of the estimated 130 people who are still feared trapped under the debris, though chances of any more survivors appeared bleak.
10:09  Sensex tumbles over 187 pts on capital outflows, global cues:  
Extending losses for the second straight session, the benchmark BSE Sensex plunged over 187 points in early trade today on increased capital outflows amidst a weak global trend. 

The 30-share barometer, which had lost 192.45 points in the previous session, fell by 187.69 points, or 0.72 per cent, to 25,707.28. 

All the sectoral indices, led by realty, metal, power and banking, were trading in negative territory with losses up to 1.91 per cent. 

Similarly, the National Stock Exchange index Nifty slipped below the 7,700-mark by falling 57.90 points, or 0.75 per cent, to 7,663.40. 

Brokers said a subdued trend at other Asian markets in line with overnight losses in the US market on weak eurozone data and as news of Argentina's debt default and a rise in US jobless claims shook the market, mainly dampened the trading sentiments here. 

Besides, a weakening rupee that depreciated by another 22 paise against the dollar to trade at over three-month low of 60.77 in early trade today had a negative impact on the sentiment, they added.
08:45  John Kerry to meet Prime Minister Modi today:  
A day after meeting External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for the 5th India-US Strategic Dialogue, visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry will on Friday meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

Notably, Kerry's is the first high-level contact of the US government with the Modi government. 

Kerry arrived here on Wednesday on a three-day visit to strike up the US' first high-level engagement with the Modi government.
 
On Thursday, the US reached out to the new Indian government of PM Modi promising to partner it in its vision of "Sabka saath, sabka vikas or development for all", even as India raised the issue of America's cyber snooping and termed it unacceptable between friends. 

Kerry said that Modi's vision is similar to that expressed by US President Barack Obama and that the US private sector is eager to be a catalyst to the India growth story. 

The meeting between Kerry and Sushma Swaraj also laid the groundwork for the summit meeting between Obama and Modi in Washington in September.
08:42  W Africa Ebola outbreak tops 700 deaths:  
The death toll from the worst recorded Ebola outbreak in history surpassed 700 in West Africa as security forces went house-to-house in Sierra Leone's capital looking for patients and others exposed to the disease.

Fears grew as the United States warned against travel to the three infected countries Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia and Sierra Leone's soccer team was blocked from boarding a plane in Nairobi, Kenya, that was to take them to the Seychelles for a game today. Airport authorities in Kenya said Seychelles immigration told them to prevent the team from travelling.

Almost half of the 57 new deaths reported by the World Health Organization occurred in Liberia, where two Americans, Dr Kent Brantly of Texas and Nancy Writebol, a North Carolina-based missionary, are also sick with Ebola. 

At the White House, press secretary Josh Earnest said the US is looking into options to bring them back to the US Officials at Atlanta's Emory University Hospital said they expected one of the Americans to be transferred there "within the next several days." The hospital declined to identify which aid worker, citing privacy laws. 
08:41  Powerful Taiwan gas explosions kill 20, injure 270:  
Gas leaks triggered a series of powerful explosions in the southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung, killing at least 20 people and injuring up to 270, officials said today, warning that the toll is expected to rise.

The explosions sparked a massive inferno that ripped through the city's Cianjhen district, sending terrified residents fleeing a huge ball of flames. 

"The blasts late Thursday (Yesterday) killed at least 20 people and left 270 others injured," the National Fire Agency said, adding that the injured were being rushed to various hospitals in the port city.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing dead bodies littered on the streets. 

The explosions, believed to have been triggered by gas leaks, were powerful enough to upturn cars and rip open paved roads.

"The explosions were like thunder and the road in front of my shop ripped open. It felt like an earthquake," Taiwan's Central News Agency quoted an eyewitness as saying. 

The exact cause of the gas leaks that triggered the explosions is still unclear.
08:41  Israel, Hamas agree on 72-hour truce:  
Hopes of an end to the bloodshed in Gaza rose early Friday after US Secretary of State John Kerry announced that Israel and Hamas had agreed a 72-hour ceasefire. 

Both sides swiftly confirmed that they agreed to the ceasefire, due to begin at 0500 GMT Friday, after 25 days of bloody confrontation. 

Speaking in New Delhi, Kerry said after the ceasefire went into force, Israeli and Palestinian representatives, including from Hamas, would begin talks in Cairo in a move confirmed by Egypt. 

But he said Israeli forces would remain inside Gaza. 

Earlier Thursday, Israel vowed it would not accept any ceasefire that did not allow troops to continue destroying tunnels used by militants to attack Israel. 

The announcement came as the Palestinian death toll in Gaza hit 1,442, surpassing that of a massive three-week Israeli operation over New Year 2009, medics said. 
08:40  New Rashtrapati Bhavan museum to open today:  
President Pranab Mukherjee will on Friday inaugurate a museum at Rashtrapati Bhavan. 

The story of the presidential palace will be narrated in the museum through sound, light and video animation. 

Housed in what used to be stables and a coach house used by the British rulers, the museum has been dedicated to the nation by the President, who completed two years in office earlier this month.
 
"The museum will be open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 4 pm. Entry to the museum will be through gate no 30 on Mother Teresa Crescent road and is free of cost. Bookings can be made through www.presidentofindia.nic.in," a statement had on Wednesday said. 

However, from November 1, Rs 25 per head would be charged as registration fee by the Rashtrapati Bhavan to "maintain and improve services to public". Children below 12 years will be exempted from the fee. 

"Visitors in group of 30 people will be charged Rs 600 lump sum per visit and Rs 25 per visitor for additional persons," said the statement. 
03:21  New Gaza humanitarian truce 'agreed by Israel and Hamas':  

Israel and Hamas have agreed to an unconditional 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza to begin on Friday morning, the US and UN say. Since Israel began its offensive in Gaza on 8 July, 1,422 Palestinians have been killed, most of them civilians, according to Gaza's health ministry.

 

Fifty-six Israeli soldiers and two civilians have also died. Israel says its operation in Gaza is designed to defend its population from attacks by Palestinian militants. A quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced by the fighting, the UN says.

 

Read more on BBC

02:31  Snowden's asylum status in Russia ending:  

AP: Edward Snowden's temporary asylum status in Russia will expire at midnight on Thursday, but the former US National Security Agency systems administrator appears set to stay on until authorities decide on his application for an extension.        

 

Snowden was stranded in a Moscow airport last year en route from Hong Kong to Cuba, shortly after he revealed the NSA's sprawling programme of tapping phones.        

 

He received temporary asylum in Russia, attracting Washington's ire. Under Russian law, that status must be renewed annually. Snowden's lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, was quoted by the state news agency RIA Novosti on Thursday as saying he expected a decision soon on the application and that Snowden could stay at least until the decision is made.

02:28  Curfew to be relaxed in Saharanpur for 8 hrs today:  

Curfew will be relaxed in the violence-hit Saharanpur district for eight hours on Friday. The curfew will be relaxed from 10 am to 6 pm, District Magistrate Sandhya Tiwari said today.        

 

All government offices will be function from 10 am to 5 pm, Tiwari said.         She said only one youth will be allowed to travel on a motorcycle. Two youths in the age group of 22-24 years will not be allowed to ride a motorcycle, she said.        

 

Tiwari said till now 87 FIRs have been registered in connection with the riots and 104 people have been arrested. According to reports till now, 193 shops were burnt during the violence. The revenue department is calculating the loss suffered by the shop owners, she said.

00:38  Calls for accountability in Gaza conflict increase:  

CNN: As civilian casualties mount in Gaza in the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, the United Nations' top human rights official warned of possible war crimes having been committed. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called for "real accountability considering the increasing evidence of war crimes and an ever-growing number of civilian casualties, including some 250 children."

 

She cited six United Nations schools in Gaza have been struck, resulting in the deaths of civilians. The United Nations has blamed Israel for the strikes, but Israel says its military only responded to fire and did not target the schools.

 

"The shelling and bombing of UN schools which have resulted in the killing and maiming of frightened women and children and civilian men, including UN staff, seeking shelter from the conflict are horrific acts and may possibly amount to war crimes," Pillay said in a statement.

 

Pillay didn't excuse the Hamas militants, either. She once again condemned the indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel, and the placement of military assets close to densely populated areas. But the biggest concern appeared to be the shelling of the schools.

 

"If civilians cannot take refuge in UN schools, where can they be safe?" Pillay asked. "They leave their homes to seek safety -- and are then subjected to attack in the places they flee to. This is a grotesque situation."

 

Another top U.N. official, Undersecretary for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos, said there is a need for Israel and Hamas to comply with humanitarian and human rights law.

00:31  Ukraine MH17: Forensic scientists reach jet crash site:  

International forensic scientists have reached the site of the flight MH17 crash in east Ukraine after the government halted military operations. Australian and Dutch police experts arrived in a convoy of Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) monitors.

 

Fighting between government and rebel forces had prevented them getting there for nearly a week. Australia believes that around 80 bodies remain at the crash site. Explosions were reportedly heard near the site after their arrival.

 

Read more on BBC

00:30  Vikas Gowda wins gold in discuss throw, gives India 1st athletics gold:  

Vikas Gowda gave its first athletics gold medal of the 20th Commonwealth Games by winning the men's discuss throw event, in Glasgow on Thursday.     The 31-year-old US-based Indian pocketed the gold with an effort of 63.64m, way below his personal best effort of 66.28m, under incessant rain at the Hampden Park.    

 

The silver went to Apostolos Parellis of Cyprus who threw the discuss to 63.32m, while the bronze was bagged by Jason Morgan of Jamaica with an effort of 62.34m.     

 

2010 Delhi Games gold medaliist Benn Harradine of Australia finished fourth with a below-par effort of 61.91m.     

 

The incessant rain did not help the athletes' cause in any way as the throwers failed difficulty in gripping the discuss and were continuously seen rubbing the discuss with a towel.     

 

Gowda, who won a silver in the 2010 Delhi Games, registered his best effort in his third attempt, which proved to be enough for him to run away with the yellow metal. But the 63.64m effort was way below his personal best as well as his season's best effort of 65.62m.     

 

Incidentally, Gowda's gold is the third for India on the eight day of the competition today after Babaita Kumari and London Olympics bronze medallist Yogeshwar Dutt clinched two yellow metals in wrestling.

00:28  Top headlines at this hour:  

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Nepal discusses ways to make Modi's visit a grand success

MP: Youth killed over social networking post; curfew clamped

I will write my own book of truth: Sonia

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