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LIVE! Ravi Shankar Prasad defends Judicial Appointments Bill

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August 14, 2014


22:31  CBI denies allegations of scuttling 2G probe:  CBI today scotched off allegations that the agency's Director Ranjit Sinha's opinion on Swan telecom, alleged to have been owned by Reliance, could hamper trial, as the views were in his individual capacity and never formed part of any court documents. 

Sources privy to the development said in January all the accused companies had approached the Supreme Court seeking quashing of FIRs against them as framing of charges had taken too much time.
22:06  Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad reacts to criticism on new judicial bill:  Defending the Judicial Appointments Bill, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the government has the highest regard of the judiciary and that there were no efforts to tame it. "This is the first time that on one voted against a law, this will make appointment of judiciaries more transparent," he said. When asked for his reaction to senior jurist Fali Nariman's reaction, Prasad said, "I have the highest regard for him, I won't comment on what he said."

Read Fali Nariman's criticism HERE
21:27  NCP dissolves its UP unit:   The Nationalist Congress Party on Thursday dissolved its Uttar Pradesh unit and removed its president Fazle Masood with immediate effect, party General Secretary D P Tripathi said. The sudden action came amid speculations that Masood was set to join Congress, party sources said.
21:26  US officials: About 4,500 atop Iraqi mountain:  Two US officials say that roughly 4,500 people remain atop northern Iraq's Sinjar Mountain, and nearly half are herders who lived there before the siege and have no interest in being evacuated. The officials said a US team who spent time on the mountaintop reported numbers far smaller and circumstances less dire than feared.
20:58  Delhi Metro to give out free rides on I-Day:  People who would like to attend the Independence Day celebrations at the Red Fort tomorrow can avail a free metro ride. Delhi Metro services will start as early as 4:30 am tomorrow and complimentary travel coupons will be provided to commuters from all stations to Kashmere Gate and Chandni Chowk who will be travelling to attend the Independence day function at the Red Fort.
20:29  Cliff Richard's home searched by cops:  Detectives investigating a claim of a "sexual nature" have searched a property belonging to Sir Cliff Richard. The home in Sunningdale in Berkshire was searched after police gained a warrant. The allegation dates back to the 1980s and involves a boy who was aged under 16 at the time. Richard said the claim was "completely false".
19:49  Russian convoy rolls on towards Ukraine, fighting intensifies:  
A massive Russian "humanitarian" convoy closed in on Ukraine's border today despite doubts over whether the trucks would be allowed across, and as deadly fighting rocked rebel-held strongholds. 

The nearly 300 vehicles headed towards southeastern Ukraine, even as intense shelling there in the insurgent bastions of Donetsk and Lugansk -- where the trucks appear headed -- sharply increased the death toll from fighting. 

Health authorities in Donetsk, the centre of which was under heavy shelling by the army, said 74 people were killed in fighting over the past three days. 

Government forces at the same time reported nine dead and 18 injured among its troops, following four months of fighting that have left over 2,000 dead and many residents without power, running water and with dwindling food supplies. 

Meanwhile, Ukraine dispatched aid convoys of its own from three cities to a government-held eastern town as it tried to race Moscow to hand out much-needed aid to residents in the blighted region. 
19:41  Cong MLA returns salary, others not willing to follow suit:  
Congress MLA Devendra Yadav has returned his five-month salary to the chief secretary but other Congress MLAs may not follow suit, saying they were working round the clock since becoming public representatives. 

Yadav, MLA from Badli constituency, returned an amount of Rs 2,67,495 through Lt Governor Najeeb Jung a few days after Supreme Courts observation that Delhis MLAs were getting salaries without working since the suspension of the assembly. 

Yadav has, however, kept Rs 5 with him as salary for five months.

On the other hand, other Congress MLAs say that since they have become an MLA, they have been working for the public round the clock and not sitting idle. 

"I have not taken a single holiday from my work. MLA's work is not for just 8 hours, instead we work for 24 hours. I do not agree with Devendra's decision to return his salary. Through his stand, the public will get the impression that MLAs are not working," Asif Mohammad, an MLA from Okhla, said.
18:45  Suarez ban upheld, but allowed to train:   Luis Suarez's four-month biting ban is upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but he is cleared to train with new club Barcelona, reports the BBC.

A full explanation of the ruling will not be published until a later date.

Suarez's lawyers argued world governing body Fifa's decision to suspend him from all "football-related activity" for biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup was excessive.

The Uruguay striker, 27, was also banned for nine international matches. Suarez was a Liverpool player at the time of his clash with Chiellini but has since left Anfield to join Barcelona in a 75m deal.

Barcelona's La Liga season starts at home to Elche on 24 August. At last week's hearing in Lausanne, Suarez's legal team argued he should be allowed to train with Barca during his suspension and that his ban should be limited to international football.
18:39  80 pc reduction in militancy related incidents in J&K: Omar:  Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today said there has been 80 per cent reduction in militancy related incidents in the state during the last five-and-a-half years.

"There has been an improvement in peace and security situation in the state during the last more than five and a half years. 80 per cent reduction has been achieved in the militancy related incidents," the Chief Minister said in his Independence Day message.

Omar said all schools and hospitals, which had been occupied by security forces, have been vacated.
18:37  Eminent jurist Fali Nariman slams bills on judges appointment:  Eminent jurist Fali S Nariman today slammed the the two legislations that seek to overturn the present collegium system of appointment of judges, saying they hit at the root of judicial independence and may be struck down by the Supreme Court.

Nariman, a former nominated member of Parliament, has said many lawyers including him will challenge the legislations in the Supreme Court. "...the independence of the judiciary is now the cornerstone of the Constitution. And anything that is done which damages it is anathema and the people who decide are the judges of the Supreme Court," he told Karan Thapar on Headlines Today.
18:29  Iranian president tweets un-veiled photograph of first woman to win Fields Medal:  Iranian president Hassan Rouhani congratulated Field Medal winning mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani by tweeting a uncovered photograph of her, in a move likely to be seen as a strong political statement. Read
18:28  'Boys Will Be Boys':   In India's largest state, a misogynistic family-run political dynasty wants to pretend a rape epidemic doesn't exist. Read
18:03   NCP wants like-minded parties to unite to combat 'Mahayuti':  The NCP today said it was in favour of consolidating secular, like-minded votes for the upcoming assembly elections in Maharashtra and a decision in this regard will be taken after the seat sharing arrangement with Congress is finalised after August 20.

Talking to reporters, state NCP chief Sunil Tatkare said his party wanted all like-minded parties to join hands against the Sena-BJP's 'Mahayuti'.

He said the Congress-NCP would consider proposals of Samajwadi Party and JD(S) for an alliance to take on the Sena-BJP after August 20.
17:57   Malaysia to begin repatriating remains of MH17 victims:  Malaysia said today that the remains of 16 victims aboard downed Flight MH17 will repatriated on August 22, declaring it a day of national mourning.

Coffins bearing the remains will arrive on a special flight and be received by the country's king, prime minister and other dignitaries to a minute of silence at Kuala Lumpur's main international airport, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said in a statement.

The remains will then be brought to the next-of-kins' hometowns throughout the country where they will be laid to rest, he said.

The 16 victims comprise 15 Malaysians and a Dutch citizen who was born in Malaysia. The Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine on July 17 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, killing all 298 on board.
17:16   This cop saved a girl's life 20 years ago. Now, he's on his way to her wedding. Read
17:08  Bihar CM: Media twisted my claims :  With his claim of paying a bribe to settle his electricity bill flying in the face of his predecessor Nitish Kumar's claim of good governance in Bihar, Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi made a U-turn today and said the incident was of an earlier period and the money was given for sweets.

The CM also blamed the media for 'twisting' his assertions on corruption. "The incident I referred to was of 1994," Manjhi said before setting out for campaign in favour of JD(U) candidate for the by-poll to Mohania assembly seat.

Ally RJD was in power in the state in 1994 and Manjhi himself was a member of Lalu Prasad's party at that time. "I had given Rs 5000 to my son for payment of electricity bill of my house in Gaya. He returned Rs 3300 to me. When I saw that the electricity bill was Rs 1500 only I asked him for Rs 200 and he told me he had given the money to the officials for sweets for taking pain to trace the old bill," Manjhi said.
16:57  Shaurya Chakra for IAF's Wing Commander Upadhyaya for chopper rescue of two army pilots in Siachen in March.
16:50  'Modi wants to be Patel, but might end up as Indira':  'It is obvious within these two months that in many ways Narendra Modi has a great degree of resemblance with Indira Gandhi.'

'The same style of management of power. The same kind of attempt to reduce a large section of the political leadership into, if not spectators, bureaucrats. His leaders are taking orders from him and executing those orders.'

'This is the model that has worked in Gujarat. And he is hoping that it will work in India.'

Ashis Nandy deciphers the Narendra Modi government, in an interview with Sheela Bhatt/Rediff.com, the second in a two-part series. Read

Read the first part of this two-part series: 10 things that the Modi government is doing right
16:32  Imran Khan must be doing something right :  On a day when Imran Khan is leading a march to Islamabad, Pankaj Mishra's profile of him in the New York Times. Read 
16:28  Tom Hiddleston could play Ben-Hur in epic movie remake:  The British actor is thought to be top choice to play Judah Ben-Hur in a remake of the 1959 blockbuster, this time expanding the religious aspects of the story.  Read
16:13  This date, 1947, Pakistan awakened to freedom. Happy Independence Day.
16:05  Pele to marry for the third time :  In other news, footie legend Pele last night announced he plans to marry a woman more than 30 years his junior. The Brazilian treble World Cup winner, 73, will make Marcia Cibele Aoki, 41, his third wife.
16:02   Also see: PHOTOS: Hundreds pay homage to Major Mukund Varadarajan

'I was scared for his safety, but the army was his life'
16:02  Hundreds paid homage to Major Mukund Varadarajan:   Major Mukund Varadarajan was cremated with full honours on April 30 this year. Our reporter S Saraswathi who was there, writes that it was heart wrenching to watch 3-year-old Arshea, the major's daughter, stand near her father's coffin with absolutely no clue as to what was happening around her. 

There was no wailing or shouting; just an immense sense of pride and the family's un-shed tears and stoicism expressed far more grief than any other outward show of emotions.

The major's wife Indhu Rebecca Varghese, received his uniform, after which the coffin was once again carried to the inner chambers, accompanied by the military band, where only the family was allowed. 

R Varadarajan, along with his wife Geetha and daughter-in-law, slowly walked in to spend a few last minutes alone with their son.
16:01  Ashok Chakra for late Major Mukund Varadarajan for killing terrorists in Shopian :   India's highest peacetime gallantry award, the Ashok Chakra, will be awarded posthumously to Major Mukund Varadarajan's family tomorrow on Independence Day.

Major Mukund Varadarajan, 32, of the 44th Battalion of the Rashtriya Rifles was killed in an encounter with Hizbul Mujahideen militants in Shopian in South Kashmir in April this year. On 25 April 2014, based on specific intelligence about the presence of three dreaded terrorists in a house in village Karewa Manloo of district Shopian, in Jammu and Kashimr, a joint operation, led by Major Vardarajan of 44 Rashtriya Rifles of Army and J&K Police was launched.

In the operation, involving fierce encounter and gallant acts of Major Mukund Vardarajan and Sepoy Vikram Singh, all the three terrorists were killed.

These terrorists had been active in the area since 2012 and intelligence inputs indicate that the same group was involved in the attack on the polling staff on 24 April in South Kashmir. 
15:23  Modi to announce financial inclusion mission on I-Day:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to unveil an ambitious financial inclusion scheme on the Independence Day tomorrow to provide bank accounts to 15 crore poor persons with an overdraft facility of Rs 5,000 and accident insurance of Rs 1 lakh.

The-two phase Financial Inclusion Mission, which has been approved by the Cabinet, will be formally launched by Modi here at the end of this month, sources said.

The government is gearing up to operationalise the scheme across the country on August 28 or 29, they added.

The scheme, to be pushed by the government in a mission mode, seeks to provide two accounts to 7.5 crore identified households by August 2018.

The main features of the scheme include Rs 5,000 overdraft facility for Aadhar-linked accounts, Ru Pay Debit Card with inbuilt Rs 1 lakh accident insurance cover and minimum monthly remuneration of Rs 5,000 to business correspondents who will provide the last link between the account holders and the bank.

The new scheme, sources said, is a significant improvement over the UPA's financial inclusion programme.
15:09  Pakistan and the unbearable heaviness of being:  As the state celebrates its 67th birthday, there is an absence of a natural sense of exaltation. The sense of weariness is not due to incessant roadblocks, temporary fuel shortage and uncertainty about how the government-opposition conflict will unfold.  Read
14:49  Jawans escape landmine blast in Odisha's Malkangiri:   About 12 BSF jawans and some state police personnel today had a narrow escape as a landmine planted by Maoists exploded close to a road immediately after the platoon passed the way in Malkangiri district in Odisha.

The incident took place at Telrai chowk close to Kalimela-Motu main road when the BSF jawans were on their way for combing operation in the area, Malkangiri SP Akhileswar Singh said.

Singh said the BSF jawans along with local district police were pressed into patrolling duty ahead of Independence Day.

As the Maoists have given a call to observe August 15 as a Black Day, the security personnel were put on alert to foil their bid to create any untoward incident.
14:40  Rajya Sabha passes Constitutional Amendment Bill. Ayes: 158, No: 9.
14:38  Fidel Castro turns 88:   Celebrations began in Havana on Tuesday to mark the birthday of retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who turned 88 yesterday. The commemorations, which include two days of cultural, athletic and civic events, began at 6 p.m. local time (2200 GMT) with the opening of an audiovisual exhibit of photographs of the iconic leader who led the 1959 Cuban Revolution.

The exhibit, titled "Fidel is Fidel," features documentary photographs taken by renowned cameraman Roberto Chile, who has served as Castro's personal photographer for 25 years.Taken between 2005 and 2012, the images depicting the "tireless " former leader will be on show until Sept. 13, along with a Bronze sculpture of Castro inspired by one of his most emblematic photographic portraits. Read more
14:34  Robin Williams daughter quits Twitter, Instagram after cruel, unnecessary messages:  Meanwhile, Robin Williams' daughter, Zelda, quit Twitter and Instagram after receiving insensitive images and comments about her father. "I'm sorry. I should've risen above. Deleting this from my devices for a good long time, maybe forever. Time will tell. Goodbye," the actress, 25, tweeted late Tuesday night.

Read
14:29  Sher Singh Rana gets life imprisonment for the murder of Phoolan Devi:  Sher Singh Rana convicted for the murder of Phoolan Devi, has been sentenced to life imprisonment. The court had on August 8 convicted Rana in the 2001 murder case while it acquitted 10 other co-accused in the sensational murder of Phoolan who was then a Lok Sabha MP.

Phoolan was shot dead from a close range by three masked gunmen in the heart of the capital's VIP area as she returned home for lunch after attending the Lok Sabha. Singh killed Phoolan to avenge the 1981 Behmai massacre.
14:18  15-day deadline for Subrata Roy to sell properties :  The Supreme Court grants 15 more days to Subrata Roy to wind up negotiations to sell his overseas properties. The SC has said that negotiations with foreign buyers were at a final stage and the company was getting quotations for their overseas hotels above their market valuation. No further extension would be given to Roy, the apex court ruled.  
14:09  Govt may act against Radio jockeys who mimic MPs :  We are a nation that cannot laugh at ourselves and take ourselves too seriously. At least that's what are law makers are.

The government is now considering acting against radio jockeys airing jokes or mimicking MPs.

Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan had raised the issue in the Rajya Sabha and demanded action against radio jockey, saying the language being used was offensive.

I&B minster Prakash Javdekar said the matter was serious and the government would consider what action could be taken against erring RJs.
13:49  Planning Commission may be bifurcated:  The Planning Commission is likely to be bifurcated and an announcement is expected on Friday when Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort on Independence Day. 

On the anvil is an eight-person think tank for vision 2020. The  implementation of such proposals will be left to babus of the Planning Commission.

The Planning Commission after bifurcation will be merged with the Department of Expenditure.

These are the broader terms on which the PMO has been working. The PMO will submit a eight-page note for the consideration of Narendra Modi, who in turn will discuss it with Arun Jaitley and other senior Union Ministers tonight.

Does this mean the end of Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council headed by Dr C Rangarajan? All we can say is that some major initiatives and the thought process with which the government will be run will be unveiled on Friday from the ramparts of the Red Fort.

Stay with us for all the reports.
13:35  Pak PM's 'K' message to his country on I-Day :  Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's I-day message to India:

"Kashmir is the "main source of tension" in Indo-Pak relations and we seek a peaceful resolution to explore new ways to bolster bilateral ties. We want peaceful resolution of Kashmir with our full sincerity so that by removing this main source of tension, Pakistan and India could find new ways for promoting their relations," he said while addressing the Independence Day parade after midnight in Islamabad.

Sharif's remarks come close on the heels of a spat between the two countries over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech accusing Pakistan of continuing to engage in a proxy war of terrorism against India.
13:21  Members want suspension of Question Hour to discuss bill:  Cutting across party lines, Rajya Sabha members today made a futile bid for suspension of Question Hour to take up resumed discussion on a Bill that seeks to change the appointment system of judges.

Soon after the House met for the day, Naresh Agrawal (SP), Sharad Yadav (JD-U), Derek O'Brien (TMC) and V Maitreyan (AIADMK) stood up saying the matter was important and needed threadbare discussion.

Their contention was suspension of Question Hour would ensure sufficient time for discussion and also help them go to their respective states for Independence Day.
13:03  Police fire tear gas, smoke bombs at demonstrators:  Violence erupted in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri for a fourth straight night Wednesday, with police firing smoke bombs and tear gas at demonstrators and some people lobbing Molotov cocktails. Racial unrest lingers in the St. Louis suburb following a weekend police shooting of an unarmed black teenager.
12:24  No restrictions in height of dahi handi, but children below 12 can't participate: SC:  The Supreme Court has quashed a Bombay High Court order imposing restrictions on the height of human pyramids during dahi handi.

The high court had suggested that the height of human pyramids during Janmashtami festival be regulated.

The pyramids formed to burst dahi handis in honour of Lord Krishna should be set at a height limit of 20 feet for human pyramids, the high court had said.

The order was issued after two boys, aged 14 and a 19, died last week in Mumbai during practice.

The Mumbai Police had also issued a warning to all govinda mandals against using children in Dahi Handi events. All police stations in Mumbai were asked to keep vigil on Dahi Handi mandals.

The SC says children below the age of 12 cannot participate in the dahi handi. The HC had stipulated that only adults, or people above the age of 18, could participate.
12:18  10 films that showcase India in 10 different ways:  A look at the 10 celebrated contemporary Hindi films that embody India's many extraordinary facets -- heartening, bleak, poignant, explosive and sublime. Read
12:11  A professor who sees common thread in Sanskrit, music and math:  "As a child, I enjoyed studying Sanskrit, Sanskrit poetry and Indian classical music. I saw math in all these things," says Manjul Bhargava, the first Indian-origin person to win the Fields Medal.

Read
12:06  What was the PK PIL about?:  The all India Human Rights and Social Justice Front had filed a public interest litigation and submitted that the film promotes nudity and pleaded to the apex court to immediately intervene in the matter. The petitioner has made Aamir Khan and the director of the film Rajkumar Hirani parties in the case in addition to the Centre and the information and broadcasting ministry.


11:58  SC dismisses plea on PK nudity: If you don't like it, don't watch it :  The Supreme Court has dismissed a  plea filed against Aamir Khan and director Raju Hirani for the film 'PK' for allegedly showing nudity in the movie. Dismissing the plea, the SC said, "These are matters of art and entertainment and let them remain so. Any restrictions on release of film would affect constitutional right of the filmmakers. If you don't like, then don't watch the film but don't bring religious facets in it."
11:51  Saradha scam: CBI carries out searches in 28 locations :  CBI carries out searches at 28 locations in Delhi, Kolkata and Odisha in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam. The premises of ex-union minister Matang Sinh, his wife Manorajana, former IPS official Rajat Majumdar and East Bengal Club officials searched by the CBI.

The agency has till now registered 48 cases, including four in West Bengal and 44 in Odisha, in the Rs 10,000 crore chit fund scam on the directions of the Supreme Court. 
11:42  Made in India: 8 things only Indians do:  Our nationality is something we're proud of. However, with it comes a bunch of eccentricities that is unique to us folks. Tell us if you agree. Read 
11:37  Modi may speak extempore in first Independence Day speech:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to speak extempore when he makes his first Independence Day speech from Red Fort on Friday. If he does, he will probably be the first prime minister to do so without a script.

PM Modi's speech, likely to be 45 minutes to one hour long, is set to break new ground in more ways than one. Read more
11:31  Four children playing in abandoned car die of suffocation in TN village:  Four children died of suffocation after they accidently got stuck in an abandoned car at Vedanatham in the Tuticorin district of Tamil Nadu on Wednesday. According to police sources, a festival was taking place in Vedanatham. Read
11:19  The Supreme Court has issued a notice to the Centre and all the states on a PIL seeking to ban cigarettes and 'bidis' in the country.
11:17  Pune sisters may become the first women to be hanged in India:  Two sisters from Maharashtra, found guilty of kidnapping 13 children and killing nine of them, are to be hanged soon, said sources.

President Pranab Mukherjee has rejected the mercy petitions of Renuka Shinde and Seema Gavit; their families have been told they could be hanged any time soon.

The sisters, who belong to Kolhapur in Maharashtra, were sentenced to death in 2001.

The number of people executed in India since Independence is a matter of dispute. Government statistics claim that only 52 people have been executed since independence. However, research by the People's Union for Civil Liberties indicates that the actual number of executions is in fact much higher, as they have located records of 1,422 executions in the decade from 1953 to 1963 alone. However, there is no record of any woman's execution.

Renuka and Seema, who partnered their mother Anjanabai Gavit to kidnap the kids and push them into begging and killed some of them after they stopped being productive, are currently lodged at the Yerwada jail in Pune. Anjanabai passed away during the trial, and the sisters' father Kiran Shinde  turned approver and was acquitted.  Read more
11:05  Mr. Modis river disconnect :  Purely technological solutions like the ambitious river-linking project, do not understand or prioritise those who are affected by these projects. Read 
11:01  Modi ill-advised on Pakistan:  Who is the real Narendra Modi? The one that reached out to Islamabad in the first flush of his election victory, inviting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for his oath-taking, and exchanging shawls and sarees with him for their mothers? Or the one that on Tuesday sneered that Pakistan "has lost the ability to fight a conventional war, but continues to engage in the proxy war of terrorism'? What Prime Minister Modi said is not factually wrong. Even in Pakistan there is acknowledgement that the ISI unleashed militant groups against India.

But if the intention of the Modi government is to engage a problematic neighbour in talks, as conveyed by the decision only weeks ago to resume official-level dialogue, making deliberately provocative statements is not a good way to kick off.

Read more
10:57  Pilot asleep, co-pilot on tab, Jet flight drops 5,000 feet:  The spectre of "sleeping pilots" is back to haunt Indian flyers. A Jet Airways aircraft winging its way from Mumbai to Brussels last Friday suddenly dropped 5,000 feet in the Ankara airspace over Turkey. The commander of the Boeing 777 aircraft was taking 'controlled rest', which means a nap as per rules. The aviation regulator is now probing if the co-pilot too had dozed off. Read
10:03  Jet flight aborted after fire alarm:   A fire alarm in a Jet Airways flight from Delhi to Bhopal caused a scare as it was about to take off early today.

No one among over the 70 people on board were injured in the incident that took place around 5.45 am, airport sources said.

The ATR 72 turbo prop aircraft, operating flight 9W 2654, abandoned take off after the pilots saw the alarm on the cockpit flight panel.
10:01  Pak violates ceasefire yet again :   Mukhtar Ahmad reports: The Pakistani army violated the bilateral ceasefire in the Hamirpur sector of the Line of Control in the Poonch sector late last evening.

A defence spokesperson said the Pakistani troops carried out unprovoked firing using small arms and automatic weapons. "Our troops gave a befitting reply using weapons of similar calibre. No damage or casualties are reported from our own side."    
09:11  Judges appointment bill faces last hurdle in Rajya Sabha today:  A bill to change the system of appointing or promoting judges faces its last test in Parliament today before it becomes law. The Judicial Appointments Commission Bill will be taken up in the Rajya Sabha a day after it was passed unanimously in the Lok Sabha, NDTV reports.

The bill sets up a six-member national panel to select Supreme Court and high court judges, currently picked by a collegium of five of the country's senior-most judges. The commission will be headed by the Chief Justice of India and will include two Supreme Court judges, the Union law minister and two eminent jurists
09:01  Ebola crisis: No early end in sight, says WHO :  With more than one million people affected by the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the WHO has warned that there is "no early end in sight" to the severe health crisis and called for "extraordinary measures" to stop the transmission of the disease.

According to the latest update issued by the World Health Organisation, 128 new cases of Ebola virus disease, as well as 56 deaths, were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone between August 10 and 11, bringing the total number of cases to 1,975 and deaths to 1,069.

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said more than one million people are affected by the disease and these people need daily material support, including food. The infected people are in the "hot zone of disease transmission" on the borders of the three countries most impacted by the disease.

"There is no early end (to the outbreak) in sight. This is an extraordinary outbreak that requires extraordinary measures for containment. This is a severe health crisis, and it can rapidly become a humanitarian crisis if we do not do more to stop transmission," Chan said during a briefing in Geneva yesterday.
08:38  Pope Francis begins his first Asia Trip with South Korea:  BBC reports: Pope Francis has landed in South Korea, beginning his first visit to Asia since he took over the papacy in March last year.

During his trip, he will beatify Korean Catholics who died for their faith and attend a Catholic youth festival. The South Korean Catholic Church is one of the fastest growing in the world, with just over 5.4 million members, some 10.4 per cent of the population.

The Pope also sent a telegram to China's leaders, a tradition when the pontiff flies over a country. "I extend my best wishes to your excellency and your fellow citizens, and I invoke divine blessings of peace and well being upon the nation," the telegram said.
03:51  Special Forces begin assessing Iraqi rescue plan:  A team of fewer than 20 Special Forces troops reviewed conditions on Iraq's Mount Sinjar Wednesday in preparation for a plan to rescue plan for religious minorities trapped there, a senior Defense official said.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly, said all of the personnel had returned safely to the Iraqi city of Irbil by military aircraft.

Read more
03:48  Death of Presidential candidate shocks Brazil:  Brazil was thrown into mourning Wednesday by the unexpected death of presidential candidate Eduardo Campos in a plane crash. The popular former governor of Pernambuco State in northeast Brazil's was just 49 and his death threw October's election wide open.

Today we lost a great Brazilian,' Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said in a statement on the loss of her presidential rival'"a former member of her predecessor Luiz Incio Lula da Silva's left-wing Workers Party's coalition government. Lula and Rousseff's Workers Party, or PT, have run Brazil since winning in 2002.
02:44  Man held on terror charges in London:  Scotland Yard tonight arrested an 18-year-old man on suspicion of terrorism in Central London. He is currently being held for questioning and no further details are available until the initial interrogation is complete.
02:44  Israel says rockets fired before end of temporary cease-fire:  Israeli authorities told Fox News that three rockets were fired at southern Israel Wednesday night, two hours before the end of a temporary cease-fire.

One of the rockets hit open land and a third was intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system. No damage or injuries were reported.The latest 72-hour cease-fire was due to expire at midnight local time Wednesday.
01:50  Saudi Arabia gives UN $100 mln to fight terrorism:  Saudi Arabia today gave USD 100 million to the United Nations to support counter-terrorism efforts and called on other countries to do the same. The donation follows a USD 500 million Saudi gift to the UN effort to help Iraqi refugees fleeing a jihadist advance. "We have been stung by the evil of terrorism," Saudi Ambassador to the United States Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir told reporters.
01:49  Rocket hits Israel, Gaza truce on brink of collapse Gaza:  A 72-hour truce between Israel and Hamas teetered on the brink of collapse today with a rocket hitting the Jewish state just hours before it expired at midnight. 

Shortly before the rocket hit, an official told AFP Israel was willing to extend the lull by another three days as the Palestinians expressed hope they could reach a deal in indirect talks brokered by Egypt. 

Israel police and the army said the rocket hit an open area near Gaza's northern border shortly after sirens rang out across the south.
01:41  Brazilian presidential candidate Eduardo Campos dies in plane crash:  A plane carrying Eduardo Campos, a front runner for the Brazilian presidential elections, crashed on Wednesday morning in the coastal city of Santos.

Brazil's Ministry of Aeronautics confirmed to NBC News that the leader of the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) was one of the seven people killed in the plane crash.

According to Brazilian air authorities, Campos' private jet had been travelling from Rio de Janeiro's domestic airport to Guaruja airport. Air traffic control lost contact with the small jet as it was preparing to land in bad weather.
00:17  '52 dead as jihadists make gains in northern Syria':  Jihadists of the Islamic State (IS) group seized a string of villages in northern Syria today in fighting that left 52 people dead, a monitoring group said. The jihadists captured eight villages between second city Aleppo and the Turkish border, buoyed by their successes in neighbouring Iraq, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. 

They killed at least 40 fighters of rival rebel groups and captured at least 50 more for the loss of 12 of their own men, the Britain-based group said.
00:17  Ebola kills 56 in two days, says WHO:  The Ebola virus killed 56 people in just two days, bringing the global death toll to 1,069, the World Health Organisation said today. The death toll, which passed the 1,000-mark at the weekend, soared higher between August 10 and 11. 

The number of confirmed infections jumped by 128 over the two days, bringing the total number of cases to 1,975 people, the UN's health agency said.
00:12  Ukraine sets conditions for receiving Russian aid:  Ukraine has set conditions for receiving Russian aid in the rebel-held east of the country. A huge aid convoy set off from outside Moscow on Tuesday morning.

Ukrainian officials say aid should pass through a government-controlled border post and must be accompanied by Red Cross officials.

The Red Cross says it still needs more security guarantees and information about what is in the lorries. There are Western concerns that Russia is using humanitarian assistance as a pretext to invade eastern Ukraine.
00:11  US developing rescue plan for Iraqi refugees:  The 130 special advisers dispatched to Iraq this week have been tasked with developing a rescue plan for religious minorities trapped on Mount Sinjar, the Obama administration said Wednesday.

The advisers "will make recommendations about how to follow-through on an effort to get the people off that mountain and into a safe place," said National Security Council spokesman Ben Rhodes. That could involve the use of troops, he said.
00:09  Justin Bieber pleads guilty in deal in US:  Pop singer Justin Bieber pleaded guilty today to misdemeanour charges of careless driving and resisting arrest seven months after his arrest in Miami Beach following what police initially called an illegal street drag race. 

The 20-year-old pop star's plea deal with prosecutors, detailed at a court hearing, includes a 12-hour anger management course, a USD 50,000 charitable contribution and fines. The deal allows Bieber to avoid a driving under the influence conviction.
00:08  UN rights body legitimises 'terror groups': Israel PM:  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out today at the UN Human Rights Council, accusing it of granting "legitimacy to terror organisations" by investigating Israel for alleged war crimes in Gaza. 

"UNHRC gives legitimacy to murderous terror organisations like Hamas and Daash (Islamic State)," he said, accusing the rights body of overlooking "massacres" committed elsewhere in the Middle East in favour of investigating Israel for defending itself against rocket attacks from Gaza.
00:08  Quake kills 4 in Quito, Ecuador:  Rescue workers have recovered the body of a man killed in a landslide and a hospitalised man has also died, raising to four the death toll in a shallow 5.1-magnitude earthquake in Ecuador's capital region. Authorities say another three people are missing in a landslide just north of Quito. 

Three people were killed in two separate slides. The man whose today death in the hospital was announced by the interior minister was struck by loosened earth while working on bridge-building project.
00:07  INS Kolkata, biggest naval destroyer, still not battle-ready:  The INS Kolkata is ready for its photo-op with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will commission it on Saturday.

But the 7,500 ton warship - intended as the country's  biggest and most powerful guided missile-destroyer -is missing basic weaponry, which leaves it virtually defenseless against incoming missiles and submarines.

The ship went into construction in 2003, but 11 years later, it is still not battle-worthy.
00:03  Top headlines in that last 24 hours:  Insurance Bill: Govt bows to oppn demand for select panel
One dead, two policemen injured in militant attack in Kashmir
Congress takes the bitter pill, supports Judicial commission bill
Ruckus within AAP: Now Shanti Bhushan calls Kejriwal incompetent
Lok Sabha sees animated debate over riots
Gaza bomb disposal goes awry; AP journalist among 5 killed
Split verdict in Tapas Pal 'shoot and rape' remark case
Are you really saving the Ganga, SC asks Modi sarkar
No breakthrough in Gaza talks as clock ticks on 72-hour truce
Pakistan at it again! 5 ceasefire violations in 5 days
10 things you need to know about India
Love jihad & politics of 'izzat' in Uttar Pradesh

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