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August 07, 2014


23:14  Prosecutor says Pistorius lied on stand:  
The chief prosecutor in Oscar Pistorius' murder trial said today in closing arguments that the athlete repeatedly lied during testimony in a crude attempt to defend himself against a murder charge for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel cited flaws in the defense, saying the Olympian's legal team floated more than one theory about what happened on the night that Pistorius shot Steenkamp through a closed toilet door in his home. 

Defense lawyers had argued that Pistorius fired in self-defense, fearing an intruder, Nel said, but they also raised the possibility that he was not criminally responsible and accidentally shot because he was "startled." 

"It's two defenses that you can never reconcile," Nel said as Pistorius sat behind him in the dock, occasionally flicking through documents. The once-celebrated double-amputee athlete appeared calm, in contrast to some past occasions during which he retched and wailed in apparent distress. 

The prosecution has argued that Pistorius intentionally shot Steenkamp before dawn on Feb. 14, 2013 after a quarrel, and argued he knew she was in the bathroom. 
23:11  Fighter jet shot down over rebel-held east Ukraine:  
A Ukranian fighter jet was shot down today as it flew low over rebel-held territory in the east of the country.

The aircraft crashed into a field after an explosion in mid-air and the pilot was seen parachuting out in an area some 40 kilometres east of the insurgent bastion of Donetsk, an AFP journalist witnessed.

Explosions and flashes erupted from the plane as it continued to burn on the ground, sending up acrid smoke into the sky.

Two rebel fighters were seen standing close by in the dry, grassy field where the plane came down. 

The location was some 40 kilometres west of the site where Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down at an altitude of some 10,000 metres on July 17 killing all 298 people on board. 

The Ukrainian military has lost a string of aircraft during almost four months of fierce fighting against pro-Russian rebels in east Ukraine.
22:16  Iselle to give Hawaii first hurricane in 22 years:  Iselle was supposed to weaken as it slowly trudged west across the Pacific. It didn't and now Hawaii is poised to take its first direct hurricane hit in 22 years. Tracking close behind it was Hurricane Julio, which strengthened early today into a Category 2 storm. 

State officials are assuring the islands are ready and people should prepare but not panic.
22:13  Pistorius told 'snowball of lies,' says prosecution:  The main prosecutor in the trial of Oscar Pistorius has argued that the South African athlete cannot avoid a conviction for murdering his girlfriend.

Gerrie Nel accused the athlete of being a "deceitful witness" who told the court a "snowball of lies".

Pistorius denies murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
22:12  Islamic State extends gains in north Iraq, reach Kurdistan border area:  Islamist militants surged across northern Iraq towards the capital of the Kurdish region on Thursday, sending tens of thousands of Christians fleeing for their lives, in an offensive that has alarmed the Baghdad government and world powers.

Reuters photographs showed Islamic State fighters controlling a checkpoint at the border area of the Kurdish semi-autonomous region, little over 30 minutes' drive from Arbil, a city of 1.5 million that is headquarters to the Kurdish regional government and of many businesses.
20:56  State of emergency declared in Liberia over Ebola crisis:  Soldiers are clamping down on people trying to travel to Liberia's capital from rural areas hard-hit by the Ebola virus after the president declared a national state of emergency.

Reports have emerged of families hiding sick relatives at home and of abandoned bodies being left in the streets.Similar efforts were under way in eastern areas of neighbouring Sierra Leone after officials there launched Operation Octopus to try to keep those with Ebola in isolation.
20:31  Om Prakash Kohli takes over as Goa Governor:  Gujarat Governor Om Prakash Kohli today assumed the additional charge as the Governor of Goa. Chief Justice of Bombay High Court, Justice Mohit Shah, administered the oath of office to Kohli in the presence of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, cabinet ministers and Leader of Opposition Pratapsingh Rane at the Raj Bhavan here.
20:10  HC reserves order in case of bus driver who killed 9 people:   The Bombay High Court reserved its order today, on the quantum of punishment to be awarded to a driver who mowed down nine people and injured 36 others while driving a state transport bus in 2012 even as the state demanded the death sentence for him and the defence pleaded for leniency.

The defence lawyer sought leniency for state transport bus driver Santosh Mane, claiming that he had no motive to kill people while the prosecution sought death penalty for him saying that it is impossible to reform him.

A division bench of Justice V M Kanade and Justice P D Kode reserved the order on the government's petition seeking confirmation of Mane's death sentence and also on an appeal filed by Mane challenging his sentence.

Driver Santosh Mane's advocate Jaydeep Mane, argued that the court should show leniency because his client had no motive to commit such an act.
19:22  Another AI flight to leave for Tunisia to bring back Indians:  Another special Air India flight will leave tomorrow for Djerba in Tunisia to bring back 216 Indian nationals, who have crossed over there from strife-torn Libya.

With the fresh batch of 216, the total number of Indians who would have come back from Libya by this weekend would be about 1,500, leaving 3000 registered Indian nationals still in the conflict-hit country, the
spokesperson in the external affairs ministry said.

Out of 1,500 Indians, private companies facilitated departure of 450 Indian workers employed with them.
19:04  India summons Pak diplomat over capture of BSF jawan issue:  India today summoned the Pakistan Deputy High Commissioner and sought immediate release of the BSF jawan who was captured by Pakistan army in their territory after being swept away by a strong current of the Chenab river in Jammu and Kashmir.

The issue was also raised by the Indian Deputy high commissioner in Islamabad with the Pakistan foreign office, officials sources said here. The Pakistan Deputy High Commissioner was called by Joint Secretary incharge of Pakistan division in External Affairs Ministry Rudrendra Tandon and told that Pakistani government should facilitate the return of the BSF jawan as soon as possible, according to sources.

Meanwhile, according to sources both in BSF and in Pakistan Rangers in Lahore, the Indian jawan will be handed back tomorrow.
18:46  AirAsia withdraws in-flight mag for carrying wrong India map:  Malaysian carrier AirAsia today withdrew all copies of its in-flight magazine from circulation and removed it from its website, complying with an order of aviation regulator DGCA, for wrongly depicting the map of India.

The airline, which was directed to comply with the order by 1700 hours, informed the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) that it had withdrawn all the copies of the magazine, 'Travel3sixty', from its flights and removed the map from the website, official sources said.
18:44  The wheels within wheels of sacking Kamla Beniwal:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi had briefed President Pranab Mukherjee about Mizoram governor Kamla Beniwal. 

For over 15 days, there was a flurry of of visit between Union Minister law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and attorney general Mukul Rohatgi at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

Following the meeting, Thomas Mathews, additional secretary to te President went to the Supreme Court chambers to meet the Attorney General. It was only after considerable documents were submitted that the President was convinced about sacking Beniwal.  Arun Jaitley had also been roped in.

The President in his handwritten note said he was satisfied with the evidence provided by the government. Pranab Mukherjee ensured he got a legal opinion as well before he gave his nod to sack her. 
18:38  Manmohan Singh shunned by Congress :  Former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh is seen as a regular in Parliament during Question Hour.

Our sources tell us that Dr Singh cuts a lonely figure in Parliament. Not a single Congress MP goes near to him, nobody speaks to him nor even acknowledges his arrival.

And here's the reason -- his daughter Daman Singh's boom, "Strictly Personal, Manmohan and Gursharan", which doesn't paint a very good picture of the Congress.

That's one thing Dr Manmohan Singh and LK Advani has in common -- both have ceased to exist in a manner of speaking. 
17:41  A bungalow for Mr Shah:  As BJP president, Amit Shah, is now entitled to a type seven bungalow in Lutyens Delhi. Since Shah gets Z plus protection, the Union Ministry of Urban Development is all set to move a note to the Cabinet allotting and issuing a bungalow in its next meeting.
17:22  70 students hospitalised after gas leak in Kerala factory:  Update on the gas leak at Kollam, Kerala.

At least 70 students were hospitalised after alleged gas leak at the KMML (Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited) factory in Kollam Thursday.

Around 70 students from the nearby school and colleges of the factory were admitted in the hospital.

Around 20 students from the Chavara Government Girls Higher Secondary School and 30 students from the government college were admitted to the hospital.

Two other students from the Kamankulangara school were also admitted. On Wednesday, many residents including 60 students were admitted to the hospital after Hydrogen Sulphide leaked from the factory. The plant has been closed pending further investigation.
17:07  Edward Snowden given permission to stay in Russia for three more years:   NSA whistleblower's lawyer says Edward Snowden has been granted three-year residency after year's asylum ran out. Read
17:06  Ebola victims are left to rot in the streets:  A young man lies dead in the streets of Liberia, left to rot in view of passers-by and local children. He is just one of many Ebola victims to have been dragged out of their homes and dumped on the country's roads by terrified relatives in a desperate bid to avoid being quarantined. The deadly virus, which can cause victims to suffer from severe bruising and bleeding from the eyes and mouth, has claimed the lives of nearly 900 people across West Africa so far. Read more
16:58  Bashir, who helped David Headley in Mumbai, is a free man:  Intelligence sources tell Vicky Nanjappa/Rediff.com how investigators overlooked an important aspect of the 26/11 case. A key suspect, who helped Pakistani-American terrorist David Headley gather information for the 2008 Mumbai attacks, has never been captured. Read
16:56  Would you say that you're happy? Read thisand find out.
16:22  70 students hospitalised in Kerala after gas leak from factory:  70 students have been hospitalised in Kerala after an alleged gas leak from a state-run Kerala Metals and Minerals Limited, reports NDTV. Officials say 16 students are in the ICU on complaints of nausea and breathing difficulties. 
16:07  Vladimir Putins Chess-Master Nemesis:   Garry Kasparov, the Man Who Would Be King. A must-read on the NYT. 
16:06  Pakistan to hand over captured BSF jawan tomorrow :  Relief for the family of the BSF jawan captured by Pakistan. Pak Rangers will hand him over to India tomorrow.

A BSF jawan deployed along the India-Pakistan border was captured by Pakistani forces early on Wednesday after he was swept away by a strong current of the Chenab river in Jammu and Kashmir. The BSF, immediately after the incident occurred early morning, sought a flag meeting with their counterparts Pakistan Rangers for getting the jawan back.
16:02  Amnesty: Amendment in Juvenile Justice Act will have serious implications:  The Indian government must reject proposed amendments to laws that could allow children to be treated as adults in cases of serious crimes, Amnesty International India has said.

"We believe amendment in Juvenile Justice Act will have serious implications, it is not right," says Gopika Basi, spokesperson Amnesty International India.

Shashikumar Velath of Amnesty India, also said, "Children can and do sometimes commit crimes as violent as those committed by adults. And the pain and anger of a victim or their family may well be the same regardless of whether a crime was committed by a child or an adult."

"But children's culpability, even when they commit 'adult' crimes, is different because of their immaturity," he said in a statement. "Their punishment should acknowledge this difference, reflect children's special capacity for reform and rehabilitation, and be grounded in an understanding of adolescent psychology.'
15:22  Rajya Sabha TV producer death: 15 days on, cops find suicide note in car:  Fifteen days after the body of Milita Dutt Mandal, a producer with Rajya Sabha TV, was found in the basement of an highrise in Vaishali, Ghaziabad, police said a suicide note had been found in her car. Police said the note had been sent for a forensic examination. Read more
15:05  The loudspeaker politics of the Right :  The RSS uses its resentment against mosques and loudspeakers to stoke anti-Muslim feelings among other Hindus, whenever it can, be it during riots, or before elections, says Jyoti Punwani on Rediff.com. Read
15:00  Oscar Pistorius branded 'deceitful' as trial nears end:  South African athlete Oscar Pistorius has been accused of being a "deceitful witness" who dropped the "baton of truth", at the start of closing arguments in his trial for murder. Read
14:47  The Supreme Court directs SGPC and HSGPC to maintain status quo on the management control of gurudwaras prevailing at 2:30 PM today in Haryana till further orders.
14:27  Bengal govt reacts to criticism: Has Ratan Tata lost his mind!:  Ratan Tata has "lost his mind", West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra has said, rattled by the top industrialist's comment that he has not noticed any industrial development in the state.

"Onar motibhrom hoyeche (Maybe he has lost his mind). Maybe he hasn't got the information. I don't know why he said this. TCS has told the Chief Minister (Mamata Banerjee) in Mumbai that it would create 20,000 jobs in a new campus. Maybe he hasn't kept tabs. Tata Metallicks applied to us last week. They want to expand. Doesn't he know Anil Ambani is investing here? If I give you a list, it will take all day. Perhaps he should concentrate on his other hobbies like flying planes," Mitra said.

He was speaking to the media on the sidelines of an industry meet hours after Tata made comments critical of Bengal and his experience in Singur, where a farmers' agitation backed by then opposition leader Mamata Banerjee forced him to shift out the Tata Nano plant. Read more
13:50   Tata Group is India's most valuable brand:  The Tata Group has retained its place as the country's most valuable brand at USD 21 billion, while the total worth of top-100 Indian brands now stands at USD 92.6 billion, says a new study. State-run insurance behemoth LIC is ranked second with a brand value of USD 4.1 billion, followed by public sector bank SBI (USD 4 billion), Bharti Airtel (USD 3.8 billion) and Reliance (USD 3.5 billion).
13:49  Nearly 45,000 Indians in Ebola-hit countries, may bring virus home:   The deadly Ebola virus that has claimed 932 lives so far is now closer to home than imagined. Union Health Minister on Wedensday in a letter to Parliament said that a total of 44,700 Indians are living in different countries affected by Ebola.  Read more

Ebola what, Ebola how? Read
13:36   Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary, says the party will protest over the Khudiram issue all over Bengal
13:36  Bengal school textbook calls Khudiram Bose 'terrorist' :   The Mamata Banerjee-led government in West Bengal has found itself in the midst of yet another raging controversy for labelling revolutionary freedom fighters as "terrorists" in the Class 8 history textbooks.

A history chapter titled "revolutionary terrorism" describes the activities of freedom fighters like Shahid Khudiram Bose, Jatindranath Mukherjee and Prafulla Chaki as "extremism and terrorism".

The issue kicked off a blazing debate with prominent historians in the state dubbing the move by the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education a gross distortion to India's freedom struggle.

Read more
12:59  Sacked Mizoram governor likely to leave tomorrow:  Sacked Mizoram Governor Dr Kamla Beniwal is likely to leave Mizoram for Jaipur tomorrow, Raj Bhavan sources today said.

Beniwal, who was scheduled to visit Hmuifang Tourist Resort, about 50 km from here, cancelled her programme, sources said. As she was leaving with a short notice, it would be impossible to organise the ceremonial farewell dinner for her, state Protocol department officials said.
12:50  Who owns the copyright for this monkey selfie?:  Wikipedia has refused to delete the image of a monkey as the organisation claims that the featured Macaque owns it.

Since the Macaque hasn't expressed any interest in it being taken down Wikipedia argues that they have every right to keep it up.

The man who owned the camera was nature photographer David Slater who had been trying to capture a picture of the monkeys for hours when one snuck up, stole one of his cameras and took hundreds of selfies.What resulted was to be Slater's eureka moment as the image became universally popular and shot him to fame. Read more

Pic: Wikimedia Commons
12:48  Lotus bloom in West Bengal:  In the last six months, especially after the Lok Sabha election, the Bharatiya Janata Party's Muslim membership in the State has seen an unprecedented growth. Read
12:42  Abduction, extortion case filed against jailed SP leader Amarmani Tripathi's son:   Like father, like son?

An FIR has been registered against jailed former minister Amarmani Tripathi's son for allegedly abducting a contractor and trying to extort money from him, police said today.

The FIR was registered against Amanmani Tripathi and his four aides on the complaint of contractor R K Pandey at the Cant police station yesterday, a police spokesman said.

Pandey alleged that Tripathi abducted him yesterday after intercepting his car. "I was tortured and extortion money was demanded from me," he said. He was later allowed to go. Amanmani is the son of Amarmani Tripathi, who is in jail in the murder case of poetess Madhumita Shukla.

He had contested the 2012 Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh from Nautanwa seat on SP ticket, but lost.
12:12  Saif's Padma Shri may be withdrawn over brawl in restaurant :  The government is examining a demand for withdrawing the Padma honour conferred on Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan following a Mumbai court framing charges against him, reports the Times of India.

RTI activist S C Agrawal had filed a complaint with the Union home ministry on March 14 , demanding that the actor be stripped of the award conferred in 2010 as a Mumbai court had framed charges against him for alleged scuffle in a restaurant.

In response to a subsequent RTI application filed to know the status of his complaint, the home ministry told Agrawal that "the matter is under examination".

The 43-year-old Khan was conferred Padma Shri in 2010 for his contribution in the field of art.

If your memory doesn't serve you well, read this: Chargesheet against Saif in hotel brawl case 
12:06  Ratan Tatas message to Bengal: Look what Modi has done:  Downtown residential projects and commercial activities are all that chairman emeritus of Tata Group Ratan Tata could see on his way from Kolkata airport on Wednesday. "I couldn't see any industrial development... All this looks like countryside development," he said.

Read why Mamata Banerjee will see red when she reads this.
11:55  Huge relief for Sonia, Rahul: National Herald case hearing deferred till Aug 28:  A Delhi court, which had issued summons against Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and others, today deferred till August 28 the hearing in the case filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy in the matter pertaining to acquisition of National Herald daily.

Metropolitan Magistrate Gomati Manocha postponed the matter after the counsel appearing for Sonia Gandhi and others informed the court that Delhi High Court had yesterday stayed the criminal proceedings pending before the trial court till August 13.

Senior advocate Ramesh Gupta, who appeared for Sonia, Rahul and others, told the court that summons have not been served on accused Sam Pitroda as he stays in the USA now.

Swamy requested the court to hand over the summons issued against Pitroda to him so that he could serve it on him.

The court permitted Swamy's contention and fixed the matter for hearing on August 28. In a reprieve for Sonia, Rahul and others, the high court had yesterday stayed till August 13 the criminal proceedings before the trial court against them.
11:47  The Beniwal vs Modi story :  The sacking order brings to an end the gubernatorial tenure of 87-year-old Congress leader from Rajasthan who battled with the Modi government over the appointment of Lokayukta and some legislations during her tenure in Gujarat.

During her confrontation with Modi, Beniwal appointed retired Justice R A Mehta as Lokayukta in Gujarat against which the state went in appeal to the High Court and later the Supreme Court which upheld it last year. 

However, it was another story that Justice Mehta did not take up the post and Modi's government named a new nominee.Beniwal also sat over legislations passed by the state assembly one of which provided for 50 per cent reservation for women in local bodies.

Beniwal was first appointed as Governor of Tripura in October, 2009 the first woman to be appointed as governor in the Northeast. However, a month later she was appointed as Gujarat Governor.

Beniwal is the second Governor to be sacked after the removal of Puducherry Lt Governor Virendra Kataria. Soon after the Modi government assumed office, some Governors were forced to resign while a few a resisted and are still in office.
11:46  Govt defends decision to sack Mizoram governor :   The government today justified the sacking of Kamla Beniwal as the governor of Mizoram, even as the opposition accused it of "political vendetta". "Action was taken as per Constitution. There are serious allegations against Kamla Beniwal," Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu said. "The government has taken note of that and taken action. There is no politics behind it. Action against Beniwal is not violative of Supreme Court verdict and the decision was taken within the rules and the constitutional framework," Naidu said.

Beniwal, who was earlier the Gujarat governor, had differences with Narendra Modi when he was the chief minister. The 87-year-old had challenged the Modi government on the appointment of a Lokayukta.    
11:00  BSF seeks flag meet with Pakistan on captured Indian jawan :  Border Security Officials in Jammu are seeking a flag meet with their counterparts in Pakistan to hold discussion of the Indian jawan, who was captured yesterday after he was swept away by a strong current of the Chenab river in Jammu and Kashmi.

"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 D K Pathak said.


The trooper has been identified as Satyasheel Yadav of the water wing of the border guarding force, reports The Times of India.  
10:48  Sachin Tendulkar hasn't attended a single Parliament session this year:  CNN-IBN reports: Cricket legend and Rajya Sabha MP Sachin Tendulkar has come under criticism for not attending a single session of Paliament this year.

Senior Congress leader Rajeev Shukla questioned the point behind Tendulkar's nomination to the Upper House saying if he was not going to attend it. Shukla said that he has spoken to Tendulkar last week and he had promised he will attend more regularly. He was nominated to Rajya Sabha in 2012.

According to records, Tendulkar has only 3 per cent attendance last year, having attended Parliament only three times. He has not attended a single session of Rajya Sabha this year.

10:32  Aamir's nude poster: Hearing in Kanpur court today:  The hearing of the case, which was filed in a court in Kanpur on Saturday against Aamir Khan and a Hindi daily over its PK poster which featured the Bollywood star posing nude, will resume today.

In the complaint which was filed by lawyer Manoj Dixit, actor Aamir Khan, producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra and director Rajkumar Hirani have been accused of promoting nudity and vulgarity.
10:14  Sensex down 54 pts in early trade; rail shares surge:  The benchmark BSE Sensex extended yesterday's losses by declining over 54 points in early trade today as funds and investors indulged in trimming positions, tracking a weak trend overseas.

However, shares of companies related to railways were in keen demand after the government yesterday approved FDI liberalisation in the sector. The 30-share barometer, which had lost 242.74 points in the previous session, fell by 54.13 points, or 0.21 per cent, to 25,611.14 in early trade.

On similar lines, the broad-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty shed 13.30 points, or 0.17 per cent, to 7,658.75.
10:07  Sacking of Mizoram Guv Kamla Beniwal: Cong demands answers:  The Congress today demanded an explanation from Home Minister Rajnath Singh over the transfer and sacking of Mizoram Governor Kamla Beniwal. "Governors are constitutional authorities and cannot be trifled with. Sacking of Beniwal is a violation of the Supreme Court order. It is vindictive," the Congress said.

She was sacked yesterday two months before tenure ended. The 87-year-old had been shifted from Gujarat to Mizoram exactly a month ago.

Beniwal had sharp differences with Narendra Modi, when he was the chief minister of Gujarat.   

Rajnath Singh was quoted as saying, "We have taken a decision...we will not be able to give the reason."

 
09:52  Ebola threat looms large over India:   A total of 44,700 Indians are living in different countries affected by Ebola, a deadly virus that has claimed 932 lives so far, The Times of India reports. 

Of this, 300 are CRPF personnel deployed in Liberia for United Nations peacekeeping operations, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said in a written statement to Parliament yesterday.

Vardhan said 500 Indians were in the Republic of Guinea, 3,000 in Liberia and 1,200 in Sierra Leone, from where the maximum cases have been reported. Nigeria has a much larger presence of nearly 40,000 Indian citizens. "If the situation worsens, there is a possibility of these people returning home," Vardhan said.

Read: Here's what you MUST know about the deadly Ebola virus
08:52  US needs new partners and relationships in Asia Pacific: Hagel:   Ahead of his first visit to India, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has said the US is looking for new partners and relationships in Asia Pacific region which represents both opportunities and challenges.

On the eve of his first three-day visit to India, Hagel said at a meeting in Germany yesterday that he was visiting the largest democratic country of the world to build relationship and not just military to military ties. "In India, I'm going to follow John Kerry's visit and our Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker's visit -- they were there about a week ago and attempt to try to continue to build, not just a stronger military-to-military relationship with the Indians," Hagel said.
08:44  Tit-for-tat: Putin issues retaliatory ban on food imports :  CNN reports:  Russian President Vladimir Putin has named a new target as global sparring over Ukraine grows: food.

In a decree signed yesterday, Putin banned food and agricultural imports from countries that have imposed sanctions against his country.

The retaliatory move comes more than a week after the United States and European Union increased economic sanctions on Moscow for supporting pro-Russian separatists fighting Ukraine government forces in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, along the border with Russia.

Read the full report here

04:17  Saudi bans brides from 4 countries: newspaper:  
Saudi men have been banned from marrying women from three Asian and one African country as the Gulf state toughens the rules restricting marriage with foreigners, a local daily said. 

Marrying women from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Myanmar and Chad is no longer permissible, Makkah newspaper reported. 

It said the total population of these communities in Saudi Arabia has exceeded 500,000 people, citing unofficial statistics, implying that this might be the reason. 

The paper said the new restrictions are now stipulated in the application forms that any Saudi wishing to marry a foreign woman should present to authorities. 

It also cited the Mecca police chief, General Assaf al-Qurashi, confirming that the four countries have been excluded.

Moreover, the formalities for marrying a foreigner have been toughened, according to Makkah.

A man should be older than 25 to be able to apply for a permit to marry a foreigner. If recently divorced, he has to wait six months before applying for the licence, according to the newspaper. 

If married, a Saudi man wishing to take a foreign woman as a second wife, he has to present proof that his first wife has cancer, is disabled or unable to have children, it said. 
04:16  Samsung, Apple drop patent war outside US:  
Arch-rivals Samsung and Apple have decided to drop a series of bitter patent disputes pending in multiple courts outside the United States, the South Korean electronics giant said today.

The two companies have been locked in a prolonged war of legal attrition in close to a dozen countries, with each accusing the other of infringing on various patents related to their flagship smartphone and tablet products. 

"Samsung and Apple have agreed to drop all litigation between the two companies outside the United States," Samsung said in a statement. 

"This agreement does not involve any licensing arrangements, and the companies are continuing to pursue the existing cases in US courts," it added. 

The patent row kicked off in earnest back in 2011, when Apple sued Samsung in a US court, and swiftly went trans-continental with cases being heard in South Korea, Germany, Japan, Italia, the Netherlands, England, France and Australia among others.

The fight will continue in US courts where Apple has accused its South Korean rival of massive and wilful copying of its designs and technology for smartphones and tablets, and has asked for a bar on US sales of Samsung smartphones and tablet computers.
04:16  Israel agrees to extend Gaza ceasefire:  
Israel has agreed to extend beyond Friday a 72-hour ceasefire that has halted a month of fighting in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, officials said today as Egyptian efforts intensified to broker a long-term truce between the two sides.

"Israel has agreed to extend a three-day ceasefire in Gaza beyond Friday," BBC quoted Israeli officials as saying. 

The officials, however, did not say how long the ceasefire would last.

There has been no immediate comment from the militant Palestinian movement Hamas, which controls Gaza. 

The 72-hour ceasefire, which came into effect yesterday, has brought relief to millions on both sides after one month of fighting killed nearly 1,900 Palestinians and 67 people in Israel, mostly soldiers. 

Tens of thousands of Gaza residents who were displaced due to heavy shelling from Israel, began returning back from the UN shelters, only to find their homes and businesses in ruins. 

United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday urged a permanent end to the cycle of Israeli and Palestinian violence.
04:15  UN evacuates staff, aid workers in South Sudan:  
UN peacekeepers evacuated 220 staff and aid workers from northeast South Sudan today after militias killed at least six relief workers, a UN spokesman said. 

The troops from the UN mission in South Sudan were expected to continue evacuations tomorrow from Bunj, in Upper Nile State, where a local militia -- the Mabanese Defense Forces -- was blamed for the killings.

"The peacekeepears are in the process of collecting national staff members of humanitarian aid organisations deemed to be at risk and who need to be evacuated as soon as possible," said deputy spokesman Farhan Haq. 

The violence in Upper Nile State came as South Sudan is facing what the UN has dubbed the worst food crisis in the world and peace talks between rival factions have yet to yield concrete results in Ethiopia. 

At least five South Sudanese aid workers were killed yesterday by the militia blamed for murdering an aid worker in the same area the day before, according to the UN. 

The Mabanese Defense Forces appear to be targeting civilians of ethnic Nuer origin, apparently in revenge for losses they suffered in clashes with defecting Nuer soldiers. 
01:52  Labour Laws amendment bill likely in RS today:  
The government is likely to introduce the bill to amend the Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers by Certain Establishments) Act, 1988, in Rajya Sabha today.

The bill seeks to allow thousands of small industries to file just one return for compliance with 16 labour laws. 

The bill is listed in the Rajya Sabha business schedule for August 7. 

"Narendra Singh Tomar to move that the Bill to amend the Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers by Certain Establishments) Act, 1988, be taken into consideration. Also to move that the Bill be passed," read the revised business schedule of the Upper House. 

The Union Cabinet had a few days back cleared amendments to the Factories Act, the Apprentices Act and the Labour Laws Act to make them more compatible and beneficial for labourers and employers. 

Labour and Employment minister Tomar had said that the Cabinet has given its approval to the amendments and they would be beneficial for the labourers. He had said that the Bill is expected to be tabled in the current session of Parliament.
01:48  Why did 2 US workers get Ebola serum while Africans are left to die?:  
In mid-July, Mapp Biopharmaceuticals, a small, privately held biotech firm based in San Diego, inked a deal to finalize the commercialization of an experimental drug known as ZMapp, a cocktail of three lab-created antibodies that, when combined, can do what no antibody-naturally occurring or otherwise -- had been proven to do just several years ago: neutralize the Ebola virus.

Before this week, the drug was narrowly known, mostly by industry watchers and researchers. That changed on Monday, when it was reported that ZMapp had been given to Kent Brantly, a missionary doctor from Texas who contracted Ebola while working at ELWA hospital, in Monrovia, Liberia. 

According to CNN, "Brantly was able to walk into Emory University Hospital in Atlanta after being evacuated to the United States last week." Nancy Writebol, a missionary who worked in the same hospital, reportedly was also given ZMapp and arrived in Atlanta on Tuesday. 

Prior to these doses, the drug had never been tested in human subjects.

The inequality in care couldn't be starker. 

Read more HERE
01:38  Car bombs kill 51 in Baghdad Shiite neighbourhoods:  
Iraqi medical and security officials say two car bombs have exploded in Shiite neighbourhoods of Baghdad killing 51 people.

Police said the first attack today evening was a double car bombing in a shopping area of Sadr City, a Shiite neighborhood in the east of the city, killing 31 people and wounding 34 others.

Later on in the night, another car packed with explosives detonated in the nearby neighbourhood of Ur, also predominantly Shiite, killing 11 more people. 

Medical officials confirmed the death toll and like police, spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the press. 

Baghdad has been on edge since the Sunni militants led by the Islamic State extremist group seized the northern city of Mosul in June and threatened the capital. 
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