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LIVE! Cabinet approves 100 percent FDI in railways

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August 06, 2014


23:45  Mining scam: Janardhana Reddy gets bail, but won't walk free yet:  
Former minister and mining baron G Janardhana Reddy was today granted conditional bail by the CBI court in Bangalore in connection with one of the illegal mining cases.

He has been granted relief in the case relating to alleged illegal mining activity by Associated Mining Company owned by him and his spouse. 

He, however, will not walk free because he has other cases pending before various courts, a CBI official said.

Reddy is also prime accused in cases related to Belekeri port iron ore export scam apart from the earlier cases. 

He is also prime accused in cases related to Obulapuram Mining Company (OMC) in Andhra Pradesh. CBI in Karnataka had filed an FIR against 21 persons, including Reddy and others in connection with alleged illegal quarrying by AMC. 

Reddy, arrested in September 2011, had been in Hyderabad prison but is now in Bangalore undergoing treatment at a private hospital for back ache problem. 

23:32  Cabinet approves 100 percent FDI in railways:  
The government on Wednesday approved a proposal to allow 100 percent foreign direct investment (FDI) for building railways infrastructure.

Foreign capital in railways was not allowed till now.

However, the new government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been pushing for it to build infrastructure projects such as high-speed railways and railway lines to and from coal mines and ports.

Currently, the cash-strapped railways cannot fund these projects without private participation. Foreign players from Japan and China are said to be keen to participate in building up of the infrastructure.

The proposal sought to allow FDI participation in erecting projects relating to electrification, high-speed tracks and suburban corridors.

Last-mile connectivity to boost business activity in and around ports and mines has been proposed through formation of special purpose vehicle (SPV) companies under the public private partnership (PPP) model.
23:10  Govt asks sports bodies to furnish details on junkets:  
Cracking the whip against the Indian Olympic Association and the National Sports Federations, the Sports Ministry today asked them to furnish details and expenditure incurred on their officials' various junkets abroad, especially the recently-concluded Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. 

The ministry has directed the IOA and the NSFs to place a detailed information of all their 'spendings' and regulations on their respective websites by August 20.

"Complete details of officials, who were sent to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow by IOA/NSFs along with the amount paid such as air fare, boarding and lodging, local transportation, daily allowance etc. has to be shared on the website," said a Youth Affairs and Sports Ministry release.

List of players (along with support personnel), who actually participated in the CWG, will also be needed. Further, the IOA and NSFs have been asked to post all the detailed information on their website with regard to all international events to be held in India and abroad. 

From the details of coaching camps organised to the list of participants, support staff and coaches, the selection criteria of such events and the performance criteria which formed the basis of selection will all be required to be listed on the website as per the new government guidelines. 
21:31  Cabinet clears Juvenile Justice Act amendments:  A proposal which will empower the Juvenile Justice Board to decide whether a juvenile above 16 years involved in heinous crimes such as rape is to be sent to a observation home or tried in a regular court is learnt have been cleared by the Union Cabinet today.

With all central ministries giving their approval to the amendments to the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, the proposal was placed on the agenda for cabinet meeting today.

The proposed changes in the law come against the backdrop of outrage over the lighter punishment of three years in a reform home given to a minor convicted in the December 16, 2012 Delhi gang  rape case.
21:02  Mizoram Governor Kamla Beniwal sacked:  
Just In: A statement from Rashtrapati Bhavan has announced that Kamla Beniwal has been been sacked as governor of Mizoram.

Manipur Governor Vinod Kumar Duggal will take additional charge of Mizoram until regular arrangements for the office of the Governor of Mizoram are made.

It may be noted that 87-year-old Beniwal was transferred to Mizoram barely a month ago for the remainder of her term.

Beniwal had a strained relationship with Narendra Modi when he was chief minister of Gujarat.

Beniwal, who was shunted out of Gujarat and sent to Mizoram where she took charge on July 9, had a running battle with the Modi government over the appointment of Lokayukta and some legislations.

There were at least nine bills that she sent back with remarks or sat on for long, in some cases almost three years. Beniwal's Gujarat tenure was to end in November.
20:43  China steps up checks on foreigners in Beijing:  Immigration officers in Beijing have intensified inspections of foreigners as an increasing number have started to use China to enter third countries illegally.

Ji Lixia, assistant head of the Beijing office of China Immigration Inspection, said the number of foreigners being sent back to their home countries has continued to rise in the past three years, but he declined to give an exact figure or the growth rate, state-run China Daily reported. Some reports have said that about 200 foreigners were returned to their home countries last year after attempting to enter China without proper documentation.

Since Jan 1, 2013, many Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, have launched a 72-hour visa-free policy for visitors from some overseas countries who have valid air tickets to a third country.

Most of the foreigners sent home are from developing countries or regions troubled by war and they were returned for staying in China illegally or for disturbing public order, Ji said. One couple from a war-torn Middle Eastern country was repatriated two months ago.
20:10  Plea to restrain publishing of Natwar Singh's book dismissed:  

A Delhi court today dismissed a plea seeking to restrain former minister Natwar Singh and publisher of his autobiography from selling or publishing the book which has ruffled feathers in the Congress party.        

 

Additional Senior Civil Judge Ashu Garg rejected the plea filed by a lawyer saying, "Just because the dictionary meaning of a particular word denotes some negative sense, that would not be a reason for the court to grant injunction, just because the plaintiff (petitioner) feels that the words must have been used in negative sense in the book yet to be released."        

 

The court also observed, "...without even being aware of the context in which it is expected to be used, the court cannot conclude that the book would be using these words in derogatory manner."        

 

The judge also said the petitioner has no personal interest in the matter and no words have been used against him personally.        

 

The petitioner had alleged that before the release of book 'One Life is not Enough', Singh gave several statements to the media where "indecent and derogatory statements" were made against Sonia Gandhi.    

19:14  BJP MP flouts rules, photographs Jap delegation in Parliament :  BJP Rajya Sabha MP Tarun Vijay organised for a Japanese delegation to be present in the Lok Sabha when Speaker Sumitra Mahajan reads out the message of peace. On this day, in 1945, the first atomic bomb was dropped by the US on the town of Hiroshima.

Tarun Vijay breached the rules of the Lok Sabha by taking a photograph of the Japanese delegation. The Watch and Ward objected to it, but did not have the courage to snatch the camera away since Vijay is a ruling party MP.
19:06  All hands to deck for sacking governor :  The BJP government has been arming itself with enough evidence to dismiss a governor of a state. The Union government has not only obtained legal opinion, but has also deputed top legal brains to get the work done. The Opposition has also been kept informed of the evidence against the governor. The dismissal procedure may be initiated after Independence day.
19:00  The two Pappus in the well of the house in Parliament today :  The Prime Minister has reconciled to doing a Manmohan Singh in Parliament. Narendra Modi never talks in Parliament, but watches proceedings keenly. Today, he watched agitated Congress MPs who trooped to the well of the house and crossed over to the treasury benches, which is not usually done.

BJP MP Kirti Azad asked RJD MP Pappu Yadav not to cross the floor, but it went unheeded and Yadav walked to where the PM was seated.

Rahul Gandhi, who showed unusual aggression in Parliament today,  followed in Yadav's footsteps -- shouting and sloganeering -- demanding justice for atrocities on minorities.

It was then that Speaker Sumitra Majahan asked Congress leaders to name the town or city or state where the atrocities were being committed on minorities.

Rahul Gandhi did not have answer.

On seeing this, many BJP MPs shouted and asked how were there two Pappus in the well of the House, a reference to Rahul and Pappu Yadav.

In the din, the Congress did not hear what was being said, or the proceedings could have livened up a little more.
18:34  BSF jawan on patrol duty captured by Pakistan :  A BSF jawan deployed along the Indo-Pakistan border was captured by Pakistani forces early today after he was swept away by a strong current of the Chenab river in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Border Security Force (BSF), immediately after the incident occurred early morning, sought a flag meeting with their counterparts Pakistan Rangers for getting the jawan back.

"We are in touch with Pakistan Rangers and have sought a flag meeting. We are hopeful that our trooper will be handed back to us sooner than later," BSF chief DK Pathak said.

Officials said the trooper, identified as Satyasheel Yadav of the water wing of the border guarding force, was out on a patrol with three other personnel in the Paragwal-Khour sub-sector of general area Akhnoor along the Line of Control when the boat they were travelling in developed a problem.
18:28  Was Sonia very stressed in Parliament today?:  Our fly on the wall tells us Congress president Sonia Gandhi seemed restless in Parliament today. She blinked repeatedly and pursed her lips almost all through the session today. Sonia spoke to only three people in Parliament today -- NCP leader Tariq Anwar, union minister E Ahamed and Rahul Gandhi.

She was seated as usual on the extreme left of the first row, a seat which comes with a distinct disadvantage as well as advantage. The seat ensures she avoids eye contact with Narendra Modi and Maneka Gandhi, who in a sense flank her on either side. Newsmen tittered that she must have got a crick in the neck since she had to look straight ahead. So, the only other spot she could look at without discomfort was at the visitor's gallery upstairs.

May be it got to her for at around noon, the UPA chairperson opened her black bag and popped a pill.  
18:03  Jaitley hosts Maharashtrian lunch for MPs:  Finance Minister Arun Jaitley hosted a lunch for a few close friends in his chambers inside Parliament house. The lunch was prepared and brought to Parliament by Ajay Sancheti, BJP MP from Maharashtra and therefore was primarily Maharastrian cuisine and a pure vegetarian spread.

MPs across parties --  Supriya Sule, DMK leader Kanimozhi, Javed Akthar, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Rajiv Sukla, Naresh Gujral, Dushyant Singh, Anurag Thakur Ministers Nirmala Sitaraman, Prakash javedkar, Dharmedra Pradhan and Harsimrat Kaur -- were present. Sule wanted non vegetarian cuisine, while Harsimrat Kaur was more specific -- Amritsari Kulche and  Fathepuri Chhole. Burp.  
17:57  Statements made by AAP and BJP smack of desperation: Shazia Ilmi:   Former Aam Aadmi Party leader Shazia Ilmi has said she was "talking to representatives of different parties" and was open to a return to politics.

Ilmi, however, didn't specify which political party she was leaning towards, but said that since her exit from the AAP in May, neither her or the "AAP leadership' had been in contact with each other.

Ilmi, who contested unsuccessfully from on an AAP ticket in both the Lok Sabha and Delhi Assembly elections, had quit the party alleging "lack of inner party democracy for a party that preaches Swaraj'. Read more
17:50  Why Cong stalwart Kamal Nath is present, yet absent in Parliament :  Kamal Nath, who is at once stylish and diplomatic has been expressing his unhappiness with the party (presumably) very subtly. While he does make an appearance in the Lok Sabha very briefly, most of his time is spent in Central Hall. He is believed to be upset over the fact that he was not made a Leader of the Lok Sabha, despite being the longest serving MP in the Congress with a triple hat-trick win in polls. Don't forget that when the UPA was in power, he was not given big ticket portfolios like Finance or Defence or External Affairs.
17:45  Natwar Singh in Parliament today:  There was a surprise visitor in Parliament today. Natwar Singh, the man who is in the eye of the storm over his memoirs of his Congress years was in Central Hall talking to with NCP chief Sharad Pawar. Congress leader Kamal Nath came in also shook hands with Natwar Singh. Pawar commented in jest that Kamal Nath should be careful about talking to Natwar Singh lest he get a phone call. 
17:41  Palace coup in Congress: Arun Jaitley:  Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today hit out at Congress saying Rahul Gandhi's "contrived aggression" in Lok Sabha was a compulsion as the party leadership was facing a "palace coup" within. Hours after Rahul Gandhi stormed the well of the House on the issue of communal violence and later alleged that the government was not allowing discussion, the BJP leader said he was making an issue out of a non-issue.
16:34  National Herald case: Sonia, Rahul won't have to appear in court till Aug 13 :   After a turbulent day in Parliament, huge relief for Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. The Delhi High Court has stayed the summons in the National Herald case for which they had to appear in court tomorrow. The Congress had demanded a stay and the HC today ruled in favour of the Gandhis, which means they do not have to appear in court till August 13.

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday had adjourned the hearing till today on the petitions filed by Sonia and Rahul seeking quashing of the trial court summons to them in connection with the case.

A Delhi court had ordered process on a private criminal complaint filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy against Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and others in acquiring the assets of a company that ran the now-defunct National Herald newspaper.

The complaint had alleged various criminal offences in acquiring the assets of Associated Journals Limited by Young Indian, a newly floated company, and sought a probe in this regard.
16:17  Sonia on allegations of internal coup: Let BJP say whatever they want :  Sonia Gandhi brushes aside allegations of internal rebellion made by finance minister Arun Jaitley. The Congress president said, "Let BJP say whatever they want to."

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said, "It is a time for the Congress party to introspect itself." "If you want to show yourself as doing something, it will be better if you lead your own party, rather than develop a contrived aggression against the functioning of the house itself, which otherwise has been functioning well," Jaitley said.

He added that the Congress has been facing a coup within their own party. "Day after day established leaders of the party are speaking out. It is an internal compulsion within the party. For that you need not drag the house of the presiding officer into the debate," he slammed.
16:02  Oz commuters come together to push train away from man trapped in gap :  A commuter whose leg became trapped between a train and the platform edge in Perth, Australia, was freed by his fellow passengers, who collectively managed to push the entire train up and away from him. See
15:49   Have forgotten Rane's personal comments against me: Chavan:   Welcoming Narayan Rane's decision to withdraw his resignation, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan today said he has "forgotten" the personal remarks made by the senior Congress leader against him a few days ago.

"I think that whatever happened, whatever was said, must have been with certain emotions. I have forgotten it. I think even Congress workers will forget it and we will move ahead," Chavan said.

After resigning from the state government on July 21, Rane had criticised the Chief minister for "slow decision-making, lack of control over the administration" and other issues which affected the Congress' showing in the recent Lok Sabha elections.
15:39  TN to give legal protection to dhoti, violators face jail term :  In what could provide a legal protection to the dhoti (veshti), the traditional attire in Tamil Nadu, chief minister J Jayalalithaa on Wednesday introduced a bill in the state assembly, barring recreation clubs, associations, trusts, companies and societies from imposing restrictions on any person wearing the dhoti (veshti).

The bill proposes cancellation of licences to clubs and organisations violating the law. "Whoever violates the provisions shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year and with fine which may extend to Rs 25,000."

Read more
15:35  Saudi Arabian men can't marry women from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Chad and Myanmar:   Saudi Arabia has banned its male citizens from marrying women from four countries - Pakistan, Bangladesh, Chad and Myanmar - a police officer said. The announcement comes as a part of Saudi Arabia's efforts to prohibit Saudi men from marrying expatriates, a subject widely debated in the Gulf nation.

Tougher regulations have been introduced for such marriages, that includes, obtaining consent from the authorities and submitting marriage applications through official channels, the report said.
15:13  Can Rahul afford to heed Advani's advice?:   During the high drama in Parliament this morning, senior BJP leader LK Advani had a word of advice for Rahul Gandhi as he led his MPs to the well of the house. Advani cautioned Rahul and told him to control his MPs.

The Congress vice president had earlier in the day stormed the Well in the Lok Sabha with his MPs, demanding a debate on communal tension, accusing the Modi government of not allowing discussion in Parliament where he said only one man's voice is heard.

"We are not being allowed to speak in Parliament. We are asking for discussion. There is a mentality in the government that discussion is not acceptable. Everybody feels it, their party feels it, we feel it, everybody feels it," he said.
15:09  Rajnath lashes out at Rahul: Modi neither communal, nor dictatorial:  Trashing Rahul Gandhi's criticism that only one voice counts in the country, Home Minister Rajnath Singh today said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is "neither dictatorial, nor communal".

"The entire country knows that the Prime Minister is neither dictatorial, nor communal. If he had been dictatorial or communal, then I think people of such a huge country would not have given such a mandate that for the first time in the history of independent India, a non Congress political party has a clear mandate in Parliament," Singh told reporters outside Parliament.

He was also asked a question related to Gandhi's charge of "partiality" in the Lok Sabha and discussion not being allowed. "This is a matter related to the House, and I think if any congnisance has to be taken, the Speaker will do it," Singh said.

The Congress vice president had earlier in the day stormed the Well in the Lok Sabha, demanding a debate on communal tension, accusing the Modi government of not allowing discussion in Parliament where he said only one man's voice is heard.
15:00  Sharad Pawar meets Sonia :  Just in: NCP chief Sharad Pawar meets Sonia Gandhi to discuss the issue of seat-sharing in Maharashtra, ahead of Assembly polls in the state.
14:59  Speaker reacts to Rahul: Acted according to procedure :  Speaker Sumitra Mahajan reacts to Rahul Gandhi's charge that she is partial to the BJP and is therefore not allowing a discussion on the communal situation in the country. She said she would allow a discussion but it has to be as per rules. "There is a procedure laid down in the house, and it has to be followed," she said.
14:29   Finance minister Arun Jaitley says Rahul Gandhi is facing a coup within the party and is therefore making a issue out of a non-issue. 
14:23  Rahul redux: Cong's strategy to revive ailing party revealed:  Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi's unusual outburst in the Lok Sabha today comes with a loaded message from the family. Rahul Gandhi is ready to take the reins of the party. After its worst-ever performance in the Lok Sabha elections which saw just 44 of its candidates winning, a desperate Congress is now trying a new strategy which it hopes will allow it to remain relevant in politics.

Vice President Rahul Gandhi has got into damage control mode and will lead the Congress charge on all major issues inside as well as outside Parliament.

And it is as part of this strategy that Rahul led protests in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday and even entered the well of the House while demanding a discussion on the Communal Violence Bill.

Read more
13:59  Waiting for growth to pick up :  The Reserve Bank of India's third bi-monthly policy statement for 2014-15 has been on entirely expected lines. The policy repo rate has remained unchanged at 8 per cent. Consequently, there is no change in the rates which are pegged to it -- the reverse repo stays at 7 per cent and the marginal standing facility (MSF) rate and the bank rate both continue to remain at 9 per cent. Read
13:44  UP governor Ram Naik gets additional charge of Rajasthan:  Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik has been given additional charge of Rajasthan in place of Margaret Alva, a Rashtrapati Bhawan press communique said on Tuesday. The communique also said that Gujarat Governor Om Prakash Kohli has been given additional charge of Goa as Alva has demitted office on completing her term.Naik will be sworn in August 8 at 3 pm at the Raj Bhavan in Jaipur.
13:40  Indian offers biryani comfort to Israeli troops:  An Indian woman known as the curry queen of Israel won over the hearts --   and stomachs -- of Israeli soldiers fighting in Gaza with a plate of aromatic chicken biryani last week. Read more
13:38  Lunch hour timepass :   Professor Akiyoshi Kitaoka from Ritsumseikan University in Kyoto, Japan, has spent more than a decade creating his collection of moving optical illusions. Click here and you won't be disappointed. 
13:31   Teaching Gita not against Constitution: Sangh ideologue:   Backing Supreme Court Judge Justice A R Dave over his call to teach Gita in schools, a leading RSS ideologue today said the work is not a mere religious scripture but a spiritual and philosophic classic and called for it to be declared the "national book."

Joining issue with Press Council Chairman Markandey Katju for raising objections to Justice Dave's views, P Parmeswaran, Director of pro-RSS cultural forum Bharatiya Vichara Kendram, said that Gita had profoundly influenced India over centuries.
12:57  Money laundering case against Himachal CM:  Just in: A prima facie case of money laundering appears to be made out against Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, Centre tells Delhi HC. The HC asks the Income Tax Department to submit tax assessment records and other documents of the Chief Minister before it.
12:44  New Congress poster announces Priyanka's entry, but forgets Rahul:  A controversial banner has come up at a traffic signal in Allahabad claiming that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra would soon be joining active politics. The Times of India reports that the banner comes on the heels of an earlier banner put up in the heart of the city urging the Congress high command to let Priyanka into active politics to counter BJP's national president Amit Shah.

"Congress ka Moon, Priyanka is coming soon (The key face of Congress Priyanka is joining politics soon)" reads the banner which has photographs of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi along with Youth Congress leaders Haseeb Ahmad and Shirish Chandra Dubey. The banner describes Ahmad as secretary of city Congress committee.

The major omission from the banner is the photograph of Rahul Gandhi. Both leaders have claimed that Priyanka Gandhi, the key face, would take over the reins of 129-year-old organization and revive it.
12:36  What happened in the Lok Sabha today:  Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, while opposing the adjournment motion, said there was no communal tension in the country and hit back at the opposition saying, "Don't create unnecessary problems..."

While Congress members demanded that Question Hour should be suspended to take up the adjournment motion, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan did not allow it leading to uproar.

Around 20 members, including Gandhi, stood in the Well where members from NCP, JD-U, RJD, RSP and AAP were also present. Before rushing into the Well, Gandhi stood in the aisle. The agitating members shouted 'we want justice' and said 'Pradhan Mantri jawab do (Prime Minister should reply)'.
12:28  Anurag Thakur of the BJP comments on Rahul's outburst in Parliament: Is it just because voices from within the party are questioning his leadership, that Rahulji was forced to come to the well?
12:26   US supports 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza:  Supporting the latest ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip, the US has asked the two sides to abide by their commitment and look towards establishing lasting peace in the region.

"The United States certainly supports the latest 72-hour cease-fire proposal that appears both sides are respecting and abiding by at this point," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.

Earnest said that a cease-fire will only be sustained if both sides who are a party to this conflict make the decision not to prolong the violence. "I would anticipate that both sides will have long-held grievances and concerns about the conduct of the other side," he said.
12:24  Rahul's words unfortunate: BJP:   Reactions to Rahul Gandhi's outburst in Parliament...

Sanjay Raut, Shiv Sena: Congress is a small party, MPs from small parties always come to the well (in Lok Sabha) protesting

Rajiv Pratap Rudy, BJP: Unfortunate and avoidable -- the words Rahulji has used, depicts frustration.
12:04  Rahul storms well of Parliament: Speaker is partial :  Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi joined protesting MPs to the well of the house demanding a debate and discussion on spiraling communal violence in the country and the communal violence bill. When Speaker Sumitra Mahajan disallowed the debate, Rahul said that the Lok Sabha Speaker was partial.

Speaking to TV channels outside Parliament after the Lok Sabha was adjourned, Rahul said, "We are not being allowed to speak, we wanted a discussion. We are upset that only one man's voice counts for anything. The speaker is partial. It is completely one-sided. We aren't being allowed to raise our voice on communal politics. The mentality of the government that discussion is unacceptable."
11:58  Veteran Marathi actress Smita Talwalkar passes away:  Veteran stage and screen actress Smita Talwalkar, who won acclaim in theater, film and television and became a notable figure in the Marathi film industry, passed away on Wednesday, reports DNA. She was 59.

Talwalkar breathed her last at Mumbai's Jaslok hospital, where she was being treated for cancer. She will be cremated at Dadar crematorium on Wednesday at noon. Before that, her body will be kept at Matunga's Yashwant Natya Mandir for the last rites.
11:44  Notice for discussion on fashion shoot on Delhi gang rape :  Congress MP Ranjeet Ranjan, says she has given notice for discussion in the Lok Sabha on a the fashion shoot on Nirbhaya.

Photographer Raj Shetye's editorial shoot, which was uploaded online some days ago, went viral on Tuesday and caused uproar for glamourising an incident which still hits a raw nerve across the country. The parallels between the shoot and the bus gang rape aren't hard to draw. Shetye has however denied that it had anything to do at all with Nirbhaya.
11:37  English a hurdle at IIT-B too, 1/10th freshers fail to communicate:  Freshers at IIT-Bombay face major problems in understanding and communicating in English, thus impacting their academics. This was communicated by students' body representatives to a five-member external institute review committee, which met them on July 31. Read
11:29  AI plane leaves for Tunisia to bring back stranded Indians from Libya :  An Air India plane today took off for Tunisia to bring back about 200 Indians struck in strife-torn Libya. A Boeing 777-LR (Long Range) is flying to Djerba to bring back these passengers. It will be an 8-hour long flight and will return tomorrow morning carrying the stranded Indians. Air India has been sending special flights to war-torn areas of Iraq and Libya regularly.
11:27  In Parliament today, Health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan will make a statement regarding the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
11:20  Rajeev Mehta mulling legal action against Scotland Police:  Indian Olympic Association (IOA) secretary general Rajeev Mehta today reitirated that there was some serious confusion as no charges were framed against him in the alleged drunk-driving case in Glasgow and is now mulling legal action against Scotland Police for damaging his reputation.    

Asked whether he is planning legal recourse after being detained by the Scotland Police, Mehta replied, "Yes, may be I will talk to my lawyers and then I will decide," the IOA secretary general told reporters on arrival in Delhi today.    

"There were no charges levelled against me. I was innocent then and I am innocent now. There are no problems,"Mehta said.    

He also added, "There were some confusions but everything is clear now."    

When asked, what if Scotland Police again open the case,Mehta said that he is not at all worried as he has been cleared of any wrongdoing.     
11:08  Why Modi is visiting Kashmir for the second time :   Gearing up for the upcoming Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections, the BJP on Monday said it is confident of achieving its mission of winning more than 44 seats to form the next government in the state."With the efforts of all the workers, BJP will definitely form the next government in Jammu and Kashmir," senior BJP leader and former IGP, Farooq Khan said. Read more
11:03  How Hamas assembles and fires rockets :  NDTV's Sreenivasan Jain's reportage from Gaza finds honourable mention in the New York Times. The report from the Gaza strip appeared to show three men preparing a rocket launch site under a blue tent on Monday, covering the site with brush and leaving the area outside the journalists' hotel. More footage, recorded 25 hours later, showed smoke from the rocket launched from that spot the next morning. Read what the NYT says.
10:41  Private company to take over MH370 search:  CNN reports: Australia has chosen a Dutch company to carry out the next phase of the underwater search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which mysteriously disappeared five months ago this week.

Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss announced at a news conference that Fugro Survey will use two vessels for the search in the southern Indian Ocean, where the Malaysian plane is believed to have gone down after it flew off course and dropped off radar.

The two ships will be equipped with towed deep-water vehicles and will also use side-scan sonar, multi-beam echo sounders and video cameras in the search, Australian authorities said.

Read the full report here

10:30  Villages prone to natural disasters to be identified: Maha CM :   A "complete study" of Maharashtra would be conducted to identify villages prone to natural calamities in the aftermath of the landslide at Malin near Pune, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has said.

"We will be doing a complete study of the state to find out if there are other villages that are prone to natural disasters. I have instructed my officials to conduct a survey and submit a report," Chavan told PTI in an interview. The government's focus is to find survivors in the Malin tragedy after which a long term plan will be looked at, he said.
10:28  Army jawan killed in gunbattle in Kupwara :  An army jawan has been killed in an encounter in  Kupwara in Jammu and Kashmir. The gunbattle between militants and the army is still on.  
09:56  Rupee slumps to over 4-month low against dollar:  NDTV reports: BSE Sensex and Nifty wobbled today amid weak global shares and a fall in the rupee.

At 9:19 am, the Sensex was down 42 points to 25,865 while Nifty fell to 7,731. The rupee tumbled to 61.23/dollar -- its lowest since March 21 -- amid broad gains in the dollar. Rupee had closed at 60.85 yesterday.
09:54  Indians stranded in war-torn Iraq to return tomorrow :   An Air India plane today took off for Tunisia to bring back about 200 Indians struck in war-torn Libya.

A Boeing 777-LR (Long Range) is flying to Djerba to bring back these passengers. It will be an eight-hour long flight and will return tomorrow morning carrying the stranded Indians.

Air India has already been sending special flights to war-torn areas of Iraq and Libya regularly.
09:29  Legendary cartoonist Pran Kumar Sharma no more :  One of India's most successful cartoonists Pran Kumar Sharma, who was behind the famous comic series 'Chacha Chaudhury', passed away on Wednesday.

His others famous characters included cartoons like Shrimatiji, Pinki, Billoo, Raman, Channie Chachi, to mention a few.

Pran began his career in 1960 as a cartoonist for the Delhi-based newspaper Milap with comic strip Daabu. In 1969, he sketched Chacha Chaudhary for the Hindi magazine Lotpot, which made him famous, reports CNN-IBN

Image: animationxpress.com
09:14  23 killed in Odisha floods :  The flood situation is turning grim in Odisha with water rising alarmingly in Mahanadi river system prompting the state government to step up rescue operation on a war footing. 23 people have been killed in rain and flood so far.

In Cuttack, flood waters of Mahanadi at Mundali have gradually started inundating low lying areas of Banki, Athagad and Tigiria. Villagers are in a state of panic, as many houses are already submerged.
08:42  5-year-old girl sexually abused by driver who ferried her to school :  CNN-IBN reports: In yet another shocking case, a private taxi driver of a public school allegedly sexually abused a five-year-old girl in Delhi. The girl is from a private school in South Delhi and the driver has been arrested.

The suspect used to take the child to school in his cab. The incident came to light after the child refused to go to school for nearly a fortnight.

Read the full report here

04:57  Rupert Murdoch withdraws offer for Time Warner:  
Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch has said his 21st Century Fox group had withdrawn its bid for Time Warner, a massive offer which could have shaken up the media-entertainment world. 

Worth an estimated USD 80 billion, the offer was taken off the table after Time Warner "refused to engage with us" and the news hurt the share price of 21st Century Fox, Murdoch said yesterday. 

"The reaction in our share price since our proposal was made undervalues our stock and makes the transaction unattractive to Fox shareholders," he said, in a statement. 

"These factors, coupled with our commitment to be both disciplined in our approach to the combination and focused on delivering value for the Fox shareholders, has led us to withdraw our offer." 

Murdoch said he made the decision even though the deal "had significant strategic merit and compelling financial rationale and our approach had always been friendly." 

The statement said the board authorised a USD 6 billion share repurchase program after withdrawing the offer. The bid unveiled by 21st Century Fox in July would have merged two of the world's biggest media-entertainment empires. 
04:56  2nd American aid worker with Ebola arrives in US:  
An American aid worker infected with Ebola has arrived in Atlanta, joining a second patient being given an experimental treatment that has never before been tested on humans.

Nancy Writebol, 59, travelled from Monrovia, Liberia, to Emory University Hospital, just downhill from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She arrived yesterday, two days after Kent Brantly, a doctor with whom she had worked in Liberia and who also contracted Ebola, showed up for treatment.

The differences were stark in how they went from the ambulance to Emory, which has a highly specialised isolation unit. While Brantly, 33, was able to walk with assistance into the hospital, Writebol covered from head to toe in a protective suit was wheeled in on a stretcher. 

Still, the 59-year-old Writebol was described as weak but showing signs of improvement. 

"A week ago we were thinking about making funeral arrangements for Nancy," her husband, David Writebol, said in a statement read by the president of SIM USA, the aid group with which she was working in Liberia. "Now we have a real reason to be hopeful." 

Brantly and Writebol were both infected despite taking precautions as they treated Ebola patients in West Africa, where the virus has been spreading faster than governments can contain it, killing nearly 900 people so far.
02:51  Saddam Hussein's tomb damaged in fighting:  
Iraqi soldiers have clashed with militants from the Islamic State group in the hometown of late President Saddam Hussein, damaging his tomb. 

In a statement posted on a jihadi website frequently used  by the group, it claimed that Hussein's tomb has been destroyed in the fighting.

A government official in Ouja confirmed the clashes today but said the tomb suffered only minor damage. He spoke anonymously for safety concerns. 

Meanwhile, two amateur videos have also emerged purportedly showing varying levels of damage to the tomb. 

The authenticity of the statement or the video could not be immediately verified. 

Iraq is facing its worst crisis since the US military pulled out of the country in 2011, as militants hold territory in the north and west.
02:03  Gannett to split newspapers, television in spin-off:  
US media giant Gannett announced plans today to split into two separate firms, one for broadcast and digital, and the other for newspapers including its national daily USA Today. 

"The bold actions we are announcing today are significant next steps in our ongoing initiatives to increase shareholder value by building scale, increasing cash flow, sharpening management focus and strengthening all of our businesses to compete effectively in today's increasingly digital landscape," said Gannett president and chief executive Gracia Martore.

Gannett becomes the latest media conglomerate to spin off struggling print news operations from faster-growth operations such as television. 

It comes on the heels of similar moves by Rupert Murdoch's media-entertainment empire that split into 21st Century Fox and News Corp., and a spin-off by Tribune Co. of its newspaper assets. Time Warner spun off its magazine division as Time Inc. in June. 

"As a standalone businesses each company will have even sharper management focus and resources more directly aligned with their individual needs and priorities," Gannett's Martore said in a conference call.
00:54  Jordan in fresh push for UN action on Gaza:  
Jordan has presented a new resolution on the Gaza crisis to the UN Security Council and hopes for action on the measure in the coming days, its ambassador said today. 

The draft resolution backed by Arab countries calls for a lasting ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, as well as an international effort to rebuild Gaza after four weeks of fighting killed at least 1,867 Palestinians and 67 Israelis. 

"We are in consultation with all the Council members and hope that in the next day or two we can come up with a product," Jordanian Ambassador Dina Kawar said. 

The latest initiative came as a 72-hour truce appeared to be holding and the two sides agreed to send envoys to Cairo for peace talks. 

"We are very happy with the ceasefire and with the efforts that the Egyptians and the Americans have made," said Kawar, who stressed the urgent need for a Gaza reconstruction plan.

The 15-member Council has adopted a statement calling for a ceasefire, but the Palestinians and Arab countries have said it falls short of a formal resolution from the top body. 

Agreement on the statement was reached after the United States dropped reservations that the wording would single out Israel for harsh criticism.
00:54  Anonymous declares cyber war on Israel:  
They're back. 

Hacking group Anonymous has launched a full-frontal assault on the Israeli government's web presence over recent events in Gaza. 

It's alleged that the attacks escalated after the death of Tayeb Abu Shehada, 22, a Palestinian protestor shot wearing a Guy Fawkes mask.

Read more HERE
00:18  Apple to hold iPhone event on September 9:  
Apple has scheduled a big media event for Tuesday, September 9 -- a date to which Apple numerologists will strain to attribute significance. 

As with September events past, the focal point of this one is to be Apples next-generation iPhones, which are expected to feature larger displays of 4.7 and 5.5 inches and run speedy new A8 processors. 

Apple declined comment. 

Read more HERE
00:15  How the New York Times handles Israeli censorship:  
Some critics on social media and elsewhere have noted that The New York Times, as a global news organization, has ways to circumvent the censor, and they are correct.

Since Jodi Rudoren, the New York Times bureau chief in Jerusalem, arrived in the city more than two years ago, she has taken a "Don't Ask/Hope They Don't Tell" approach to Israel's military censor. 

Like every other journalist who works here, she had to sign a form agreeing to comply with the censorship system in order to get a government press card, which she need to enter various buildings, events and the Gaza Strip. But no one ever told her what to submit to the censor, or how (which was more than fine with her).

Until Friday. 

Read what happened, HERE
00:10  Afghan soldier guns down US general in Kabul:  
An Afghan soldier shot dead a US general today at an army training centre in Kabul -- the highest-ranking American officer to be killed since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The shooting, which left more than a dozen other soldiers including a senior German officer wounded, rocked the US-led project to train up the Afghan army as NATO combat forces withdraw after 13 years of fighting the Taliban. 

The Afghan soldier was himself killed after he opened fire during a high-level visit by NATO officers to the Marshal Fahim National Defense University, a sprawling training complex on the outskirts of the capital. 

"Among the casualties was an American general officer who was killed," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told
reporters in Washington, declining to name the general. 

Kirby said that the fatality was the highest-ranking US officer to have been killed since the 9/11 attacks when Lieutenant General Timothy Joseph Maude was killed by a hijacked airliner that crashed into the Pentagon.

No US general has been killed in combat since the Vietnam War.

Kirby said that "up to 15" people were injured in today's attack. Separately, the German army said that one of its generals was wounded. 

"We believe that the assailant was an Afghan soldier," Kirby added. 

Afghan officials had earlier described the attacker as a man wearing Afghan uniform, suggesting he may not have been a soldier.
00:09  Top headlines at this hour::  Consistency earns Samson, Karn tickets for England ODIs

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Boat capsizes on Ganga in Varanasi, 18 missing

Chennai school gets bomb threat for Sanskrit week

2 more arrests in Meerut rape and forced conversion case 

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