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Live! PM directs home, law mins to fast-track criminal cases against politicos

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July 24, 2014

22:56  Modi directs home, law mins to fast-track criminal cases against politicos:  Pushing for clean politics, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today asked Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to work out a mechanism to settle criminal and other court cases against politicians within a year.

The directive is in line with Modi's commitment during his election campaign that he will endeavour to see that court cases against politicians are decided within one year. If they are guilty, they should bepunished, if not they should be discharged, he had said.

During the campaign, he had vowed to pursue a zero-tolerance policy on graft if he came to power. In one of his media interviews, he had also said that the Supreme Court will be requested to take up such cases on a fast-track basis.
22:12  Sanjita Chanu, Saikhom Mirabai win gold at CWG Games:  Sanjita Chanu and Saikhom Mirabai win a gold and silver respectively in women's 48kg weightlifting in Commonwealth Games.
20:51  Crashed Air Algerie plane found:   The crashed Air Algerie plane has been found at Tilemsi 70km from Gao in northern Mali.

The plane with 116 onboard crashed after it was forced to divert due to a sandstorm. 

Flight AH5017 was flying from Burkina Faso to Algiers across the Sahara when Algerian aviation authorities lost contact with the aircraft, about 50 minutes after take-off.   
20:45  Iraq gets new president, UN chief urges more urgency:  Kurdish politician Fuad Masum became the new president of Iraq today, in a step towards forming a new government that visiting UN chief Ban Ki-moon said must be inclusive for the country to survive. 

A June onslaught on Sunni Arab areas north and west of of Baghdad led by the jihadist Islamic State group has brought Iraq to the brink of breakup, with the government struggling to assert any authority beyond its Shiite power base.
19:46  15 killed, 200 injured in Gaza school:  At least 15 people have been killed and more than 200 injured when a UN-run school used as a shelter in Gaza was shelled, the Gaza health ministry says. Hundreds of Palestinians were in the school in Beit Hanoun, fleeing heavy fighting in the area. It is the fourth time that a UN facility has been hit in Israel's offensive against Hamas militants.
19:32  Move to replace SC collegium system gathers strength:   Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad writes to leaders of all political parties to seek their views on the procedure of appointment to higher judiciary, reports's Anita Katyal.

This comes in the backdrop of the NDA government's efforts to set up a judicial commission for the appointment of judges.

This will replace the present collegium system and give the executive greater say in the appointment of judges. The move, initiated by the UPA government has picked up speed after the controversy raked up by Markandey Katju over the selection of a judge in the Madras High court.
19:07  PM will develop India into a Hindu nation: Goa mMinister:  Meanwhile, Goa's State Cooperation Minister Dipak Dhavalikar has stirred up controversy by saying Prime Minister Narendra Modi will develop India into a Hindu nation. Interestingly, he is the brother of Sudin Dhavalikar, another minister in chief minister Manohar Parrikar's cabinet, who had triggered a row by demanding a ban on wearing bikinis on Goa's beaches.
18:54  50 passengers were French:   Reuters reports that the Air Algerie aircraft's passenger list includes 50 people from France, 24 from Burkinabe, eight from Lebanon, four from Algeria and two from Luxembourg; one Belgian, one Swiss, one Nigerian, one Cameroonian, one Ukrainian and one Romanian.
18:49  Missing Air Algerie flight has crashed :  An Air Algerie flight that went missing en route from Burkina Faso to Algiers has crashed, an Algerian aviation official told Reuters today.

"I can confirm that it has crashed," the official said, declining to give details of where the plane was or what caused the accident. 

The passenger list of a missing Air Algerie flight included 50 French citizens, the airline's representative in Burkina Faso told a news conference in Ouagadougou.Burkina Faso Transport Minister Jean Bertin Ouedrago said the Air Algerie flight that was en route from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso to Algiers had asked to change route at 0138 GMT because of a storm in the area.

Two French fighter jets based in West Africa have been deployed to try and locate a missing Air Algerie flight, a French army spokesman said on Thursday.

"Two Mirage 2000 jets based in Africa were dispatched to try to locate the Air Algerie plane that disappeared on Thursday," French army spokesman Gilles Jaron said. "They will search an area from its last known destination along its probable route." 
18:46  'Air Algerie flight has crashed, 116 feared dead' :   An Algerian aviation official told Reuters about the missing Air Algerie plane: "I can confirm that it has crashed." No details on where the plane was or what caused the crash.  
18:32  Cong can't accept it's been routed :  Meanwhile, the Congress is yet to reconcile itself to the fact that they have been decimated in the Lok Sabha elections.

In Parliament today, Anand Sharma, Deputy Leader of the Congress in the Rajya Sabha, suddenly stood up and raised a point of order that there was no union cabinet minister present in the Treasury benches and the proceedings should be adjourned till they return.

PJ Kurien, Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha quipped that Tara Chand Gehlot is a Union Minister and asked Sharma if he could recognise him.

Some BJP MPs from the back benches stated that the Congress is still in denial mood, unable to to digest that they have lost power.
18:21  The French military has deployed 2 Dassault Mirage 2000 to search the missing Air Algerie flight. 
18:12  LIVE! Poor visibility, risk of collision forced Air Algerie flight to alter course :  Reuters reports that the French military will be sending two fighter jets based in the region to try to locate the missing plane Air Algerie flight. Other than Chinese State TV and Algierian media nobody else has confirmed that the Air Algerie flight has crashed. So far, what we know is that it has disappeared off the radar over Niger in west Africa.

The plane was not far from the Algerian frontier when the crew was asked to make a detour because of poor visibility and to prevent the risk of collision with another aircraft.
17:49  Update on the missing Air Algerie flight: Authorities in Algiers say they do not rule out any hypothesis, including hijacking.
17:45  Narayan Rane meets Rahul Gandhi :  As we pray nothing untoward has happened to the missing Air Algerie flight, here's what else is happening.  

Congress leader and former Maharashtra industries minister Narayan Rane met Rahul Gandhi today. Rane said, "I had come to tell him the reason why I resigned. He will meet Sonia Gandhi later today."

Rane, who was pitching for a leadership change ahead of the state assembly elections, on Monday resigned from the government.

Rane has however not quit the Congress. A chief ministerial aspirant, he was upset with the party for not giving him the top post, which he always claimed was promised to him when he joined the Congress after leaving Shiv Sena in 2005.
17:26  Air Algerie flight disappeared after being told to make a detour:   The plane was not far from the Algerian frontier when the crew was asked to make a detour because of poor visibility and to prevent the risk of collision with another aircraft on the Algiers-Bamako route. Contact was lost after the change of course, says reports. 
17:15  80 passengers aboard Air Algerie flight are French:  According to the the Spanish News Agency EFE, at least 80 passengers aboard Flight AH5017 are French nationals. The crew -- two pilots and four cabin attendants -- are all Spaniards.
17:12  The flight path of the plane from Ouagadougou, the capital of the west African nation of Burkina Faso, to Algiers wasn't immediately clear. Ougadougou is in a nearly straight line south of Algiers, passing over Mali where unrest continues in the north.
17:05  Air Algerie flight AH 5017 may have crashed over Niger: TV reports :   Algeria's national airline, Air Algerie flight AH 5017, with 110 passengers and six crew on board, may have crashed. According to reports by Chinese State TV and Algerian media, Air Algerie is believed to have crashed over Niger in Africa.

Air Algerie said earlier today that it had lost contact with the plane which was flying from Burkina Faso to Algiers across the Sahara. Contact was lost about 50 minutes after take-off from Ouagadougou.

The passenger airliner was last seen at 0155 GMT and is an MD83Airbus. The flight path is believed to be prone to  violent storms. 
16:56  Algerian media reports missing Air Algerie plane crashes in Niger (Africa) with 110 passengers and 6 crew members on board
16:39  Mahesh Bhupathi tweets his support for Sania Mirza: Is the @MirzaSania episode comical or upsetting?? Should be a lesson on how to get cheap publicity. No one knows you sir! Deal with it pls!!
16:35  Get well soon, Mr Baalu:  DMK leader and former MP TR Baalu, who is 73 now, had a fall in Parliament recently and was given quick medical attention. But Baalu has to now be taken to Mumbai for cardiac treatment, we hear. Baalu used to be Union Minister in the VP Singh, Deve Gowda, IK Gujral, AB Vajpayee and Dr Manmohan Singh governments, but was defeated by AIADMK candidate K Parasuramanwith by a huge margin in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
16:27  A Raja moves into rented house :  Former Union Minister A Raja has vacated his government bungalow and moved into a private apartment in Delhi. Raja needs to stay in Delhi to attend the CBI court in the 2G case. His daughter, who was elected class monitor, is also appearing for her Board exams this year.

The house that Raja will be renting is owned by a woman journalist. We have it on good authority that at least 28 house owners refused to rent out their homes to Raja since he under the CBI's crosshairs.  
16:22  Imran Khan slapped with Rs 20 billion defamation suit :   Former chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Thursday sent a defamation notice of Rs 20 billion to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan. Read
16:11  The 'world's tallest slum,' located in Venezuela, is being cleared of thousands of squatters. Read
15:58  Invasion of the Asian 'super ant :  Bug alert. Colonies of the Asian fire ant invade a house in the UK. Don't open this link if bugs creep you out.  Here you go.
15:44  Sania Mirza is a pride of India, says Javadekar:  Amid a controversy over a Telangana BJP leader describing tennis star Sania Mirza as a "non-local" and "daughter-in-law" of Pakistan, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar today said the tennis ace is a pride and brand ambassador of India.

"Sania Mirza is a pride of India. Sania Mirza has an international standing on her own... So, we have no objection. I am sure she is pride of India. She is brand ambassador of India," Javadekar, who is Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, said.

A controversy has erupted over Telangana government appointing 27-year-old Sania as the state's brand ambassador with BJP leader K Laxman describing her as "non-local" and "daughter-in-law" of Pakistan.
15:38  Indian flag shown upside down in CWG official song video:  India has hit the headlines for reasons other than sporting in the just-begun Commonwealth Games in Glasgow after it came to light that the country's flag was shown upside down in the official song for the 11-day event.    

The official song titled "Let the Games Begin" is also the Glasgow Children's 2014 Anthem for UNICEF.    

The song features the flags of all the participating countries but the makers have blundered while showcasing the tri-colour.    

India, who finished second in the medals in the previous edition of the event in Delhi, has sent a 215-strong contingent this time.    

The Games kicked off yesterday with a colourful opening ceremony in Glasgow. 
15:26  Mumbai model accuses senior IPS officer of rape:   A Mumbai model has accused a senior IPS officer of rape and filed a police complaint against him.

The officer, Sunil Paraskar, has been accused of assaulting the woman when he was additional Commissioner of Police, North Region.

The model has reportedly filed her complaint at the Malvani police station, reports NDTV.

The Police Commissioner has ordered an inquiry but not filed an FIR yet.
15:19  Villagers beat to death tantrik accused of raping girl in Bengal :  Update on the rape of a girl in Bengal: A seven-year-old's body has been found hanging from a tree in Bengal.  Villagers attacked a local tantric who they suspected of assaulting her, who later died in hospital today. Two of his associates who were also beaten up, are in hospital.

The village where the young victim lived in Bengal's East Midnapore district is simmering with tension. Anti-riot police is guarding the area.

Villagers allege that the child, who went missing from her home last evening, was physically assaulted before she was hanged. They rounded up the tantrik and his two aides and marched them to the police station after beating them up.  -- NDTV.
15:09  Air Algerie loses contact with plane over Africa :   Air Algerie said it lost contact with one of its aircraft nearly an hour after takeoff from Burkina Faso on Thursday bound for Algiers, reports AFP.

 "Air navigation services have lost contact with an Air Algerie plane Thursday flying from Ouagadougou to Algiers, 50 minutes after takeoff," the airline said, quotes news agency APS.
14:55  What happened at Maharashtra Sadan: The real story behind the Shiv Sena force-feeding controversy. Read
14:50   Kiran Bedi too, tweets her support for Sania Mirza: "She is not only the pride of India but she is also now the pride of Pakistan.Is that not great? A daughter remains a daughter, she doesn't lose the roots of her country,some of our elected ppl refuse to grow." 
14:46  Journalist Rana Ayub tweets her support: "Dear Sania, do not be disheartened, these are people who breathe, breed, perpetuate bigotry. They dint spare the Mahatma, why shud u bother."
14:21  Girl's body sent for post-mortem:   A case has been filed and the body has been sent for post-mortem. 
14:13  Another Badaun: 7-yr-old girl gang-raped, body hanged from tree :  In other news: In a horrible replay of the Badaun gang-rapes, a seven-year-old girl has been allegedly gang-raped in East Midnapore in West Bengal. Her body was found hanging from a tree. Details awaited.

14:11  Sania: I came to Hyderabad when I was 3 weeks old:   This is what Sania Mirza tweets on the controversy:

"I am married to Mr. Shoaib Malik, who is from Pakistan. I am an Indian, who will remain an Indian until the end of my life. I was born in Mumbai as my mother needed to be at a specialist hospital since she was seriously unwell at the time of my birth.

"I came home to Hyderabad when I was 3 weeks old. My forefathers have lived in Hyderabad for more than a century. My grandfather, Mr. Mohammed Zaffer Mirza started his career as an Engineer - in Nizam's Railways in Hyderabad in 1948 and died in his ancestral home in Hyderabad.

"My great grandfather, Mr. Mohd. Ahmed Mirza was also born and raised in Hyderabad. He was the Chief Engineer, Water Works, Hyderabad and was responsible for constructing the famous Gandipet dam.

"My great, great grandfather, Mr. Aziz Mirza was the Home Secretary under the Nizam in Hyderabad and worked tirelessly for relief works.

"So, my family belongs to Hyderabad for more than a century and I strongly condemn any attempts by any person, whosoever, to brand me an outsider.

"I hope this clears all doubts and issues."

13:31  Sania: Condemn outsider comment, I am Indian, will remain Indian :  Telangana brand ambassador Sania Mirza finally issues a statement on the raging controversy over her appointment. After refusing to comment initially, Sania today said, "I strongly condemn attempts by any person to brand me an outsider. My family belongs to Hyderabad for more than a century. I will always be an Indian and remain an Indian. I believe precious time is being wasted over a petty issue."

The statement came in the wake of Telangana BJP leader K Laxman flaying the TRS government's decision to appoint the tennis star as brand ambassador of the newly carved-out state, terming her as "daughter-in-law" of Pakistan and questioning her credentials for the honour.

Sania was born in Maharashtra and settled in Hyderabad only later and, hence, is a "non-local", he said and sought to dub her as "daughter-in-law" of Pakistan, pointing out that she was married to that country's cricketer Shoaib Malik.

The 27-year-old tennis player had never participated in agitation for a separate state of Telangana, said Laxman who is leader of BJP in Telangana legislative assembly. Laxman accused the government of taking the step with an eye on the minority community votes in upcoming elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation.
13:26  LIVE! Raj Kundra backs down: Did not pick on Salman, I mean no ill :  Raj Kundra came under attack on social media from Salman Khan fans over his statement to a publication where he was quoted saying, "The amount Salman Khan earns from one film, I make in a month!" He went to say that what he makes in a month is way higher than even Salman Khan's earnings from films. He also said I don't see any fun in being like him."

This is what Raj Kundra says in his defence:

During a recent press conference for Satyug Gold, I was posed with the question of whether I would consider acting. I replied with an honest reply stating, Firstly, who would watch me? Secondly, as a businessman I would be unaffordable. In context to the same question, I further stated an example by drawing parallel between the monetary earnings of actor versus that of a businessman. In order to make this simpler, I said What Salman (Since he is number one at the moment it was the first name that
came to mind) earns in a year, a business man earns in a month. I further went on to say, Forget me I am a small fish but one can compare the top 10 industrialist earnings to top 10 actors in Bollywood and whilst one gives you more fame the other certainly pays much better. So, obviously no producer would over pay to get a bad non actor when he can sign a superstar for cheaper.

My statements were then misquoted out of context, causing a lot furor from Salman Khan fans. Nowhere, during the course of the interview did I pick on Salman Khan, I just used his name as a reference as he is one of the biggest stars in the country today.

My wife and her family share a very good rapport with the Khan family and I thereby have never meant no ill towards anyone.
13:16  JJ doctors remove 232 teeth from Buldhana teenager in Mumbai:  Doctors at the JJ Hospital in Byculla created a record of sorts by removing 232 teeth from a teenager, who came in with routine complaints of swelling and pain in the mouth. There are very few cases of this tooth developmental anomaly recorded in the dental literature, said doctors. Read
13:13  Steps initiated for good quality catering: Gowda:  To ensure good quality catering in trains, the government today said various steps, including imposition of heavy penalties on entities for deficient services, are being initiated. Acknowledging that there are many complaints about catering in trains, Railways Minister D V Sadananda Gowda said measures are being taken to serve "quality and hygienic food at reasonable and affordable rates".
13:01  Taiwan airline suspects bad weather caused crash:  Stormy weather on the trailing edge of Typhoon Matmo was the likely cause of a plane crash on a Taiwanese island that killed 48 people, the airline said on Thursday.

The ATR-72 operated by Taiwan's TransAsia Airways was carrying 58 passengers and crew when it crashed while landing in the Penghu island chain in the Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and China late Wednesday.

The plane was flying from the city of Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan.The victims included 46 Taiwanese and two French medical students who were interns in Taiwan.
12:56  Toll in train-school bus accident goes up to 25:  The toll in the bus-train collision in Telangana has gone up to 25. The school students were killed and four injured when the Nanded Passenger train rammed into the school bus of Kakatiya Techno School at an unmanned crossing near in Medak district of Telangana today. The incident took place some 75 km from Hyderabad.
12:54  JUST IN: Attack on prisoner convoy north of Baghdad kills 52 prisoners, 8 soldiers, says Iraqi officials.
12:53  In Delhi,a BJP-RSS meeting is underway at Nitin Gadkari's residence.
12:44   Force-feeding row: Govt says it will respond by tomorrow:   The government today said it will respond on the issue of Shiv Sena MPs force-feeding a fasting Muslim after ascertaining full facts by tomorrow. Congress, SP and Left members raised the issue when the Rajya Sabha met for the day saying 24 hours have passed since the issue was first raised but the government is yet to come back.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the incident pertains to Members of Parliament which took place in the premises of a building run by a state government.

"This is a very sensitive matter and also a serious matter," he said adding the Chair had yesterday asked the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs to ascertain facts.

"We are ascertaining facts," he said. "We will be finding out full details and then only respond." This triggered an uproar from the Opposition benches which said the government was gone mum on the issue.
12:35  How Aadhar got a lifeline:  Four days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi made his first public statement surprisingly backing the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), former UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani met with the PM and finance minister Arun Jaitley and persuaded the new regime to persist with Aadhaar numbers and the Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT) scheme.

This meeting -- a life-saver for the Aadhaar programme -- happened on the first of July. On July 5, Modi sought a 100 crore enrolment target under Aadhaar at the 'earliest', casting aside earlier notions that the new government will go slow on the UIDAI project. Read
12:25  Telangana bus-train collision toll goes up to 12 :   The toll from the bus-train collision in Telangana has gone up to 12. The accident happened after a school bus collided into a train at an unmanned railway crossing in the Medak district of Telangana this morning. The bus driver was also killed, while there were 40 children of the Kakatiya School on board. 
12:24   Wanted. A leader to rescue the Congress. Read AAP leader Ashutosh's blog.
11:49  Group of bloggers unearthing MH17 intel quicker than US spies:  Update on the MH17 crash: In the frenzy to determine who --  and what -- shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a group of citizen journalists armed with simple intuition and an Internet connection has been collecting information more nimbly than American spies. Read
11:42  BSP chief Mayawati on the Sania as Telangana ambassador issue: "We should welcome Telangana Govt's decision of choosing Sania Mirza as its brand ambassador."
11:41  Cong calls BJP statement on Sania 'bizarre':  The Congress has described the BJP leader's statement against Sania Mirza as "bizarre'.

The TRS government has decided to appoint the tennis star as brand ambassador of the newly carved-out state.

The BJP leader has said that Sania was born in Maharashtra and settled in Hyderabad only later and, hence, is a "non-local".

He further sought to dub her as "daughter-in-law" of Pakistan, pointing out that she was married to that country's cricketer Shoaib Malik.

The 27-year-old tennis player had never participated in agitation for a separate state of Telangana, said Laxman, who is leader of BJP in Telangana Legislative Assembly.
11:38  MM Joshi slams BJP for calling Sania 'daughter-in-law of Pakistan':  A moment of sanity from the BJP.

But first this: Telangana BJP leader K Laxman on Wednesday called tennis star Sania Mirza as the "daughter-in-law" of Pakistan and questioned her credentials to be the brand ambassador of Telangana.

But senior leader MM Joshi today slammed the statement saying, "If someone says this then it reflects his culture."
11:30  Missed opportunity on Gaza:  External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj's statement on the ongoing Gaza crisis during a discussion in the Rajya Sabha is an exercise in political correctness.

By stating that New Delhi's stance on the Israel-Palestine issue has not shifted, and going ahead with a pro forma denunciation of violence, Ms. Swaraj has missed a golden opportunity to impress upon a domestic audience that the Modi administration is pursuing a fresh statesman-like approach on a complex global issue.

Read more
11:19  China's mega warship plans become clearer with new photos. See
11:17  Searching for the ideal FDI in defence production :  In other news: Foreign vendors are more than willing to sell or collaborate, but this does not necessarily bring state-of the-art technology to India's military hardware. Read
11:04  'Sania is an Indian citizen, this should be respected':  The voice of reason from the BJD -- Jay Panda on the Sania Mirza as Telangana brand ambassador issue: Wherever she may have married but she is an Indian citizen,this should be respected.
10:55  Death toll in Telangana bus accident may rise :  Officials fear the number of dead could rise.

The driver of the bus may have tried to cross the railway tracks despite warnings of a train arriving.

At the accident site, schoolbags and water-bottles lay scattered.

Incidentally, the union rail budget 2014 had focussed on unmanned level crossings, and rail minister S Gowda had said 5400 unmanned crossings would be removed.
10:48  Bus-train collision claims lives of 9 kids :  Nine children are feared killed after a school bus has collided with a train in Telangana's Medak district of this morning.

The bus carrying children of the Kakatiya School in the district, collided with the train at a railway crossing in Masaipet village.

More details are awaited.

Image: Representation purpose
10:12  Force-feeding row: Protests erupt outside Parliament against Shiv Sena:  The National Students' Union Of India are holding protests outside Parliament over the incident at Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi. Protestors are demanding action against Sena MPs who force-fed a catering supervisor at the Maharashtra government's official guest house in Delhi.

The man, Arshad Zubair, was fasting for Ramzan.  
09:54  BJP leader opposes Sania Mirza as Telangana ambassador:   Telangana BJP leader K Laxman flayed the state government's decision to appoint tennis star Sania Mirza as the brand ambassador of the newly carved-out state, terming her as "daughter-in-law" of Pakistan and questioning her credentials for the honour.

Sania was born in Maharashtra and settled in Hyderabad only later and, hence, is a "non-local," Laxman told reporters in Hyderabad.

He sought to dub her as "daughter-in-law" of Pakistan,pointing out that she was married to Shoaib Malik, a Pakistani cricketer.

The 27-year-old tennis player had never participated in an agitation for a separate state of Telangana, said Laxman who is the leader of BJP in the state legislative assembly. Mr Laxman also accused the government of taking the step with an eye on the minority community votes in upcoming elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation.
09:50  Sensex falls from record high on profit-booking, down 25 pts:  The benchmark BSE index Sensex today retreated from record high by losing over 25 points in early trade as investors booked profits in recent out  performers, mainly capital goods, oil and gas and power sector stocks.

The 30-share barometer, which had gained 1,140.35 points in the past seven sessions, shed 25.91 points, or 0.10 per cent, to 26,121.42.

The gauge had closed at a new record high of 26,147.33 yesterday. On similar lines, the broad-based National Stock Exchange index Nifty fell by 12.65 points, or 0.16 per cent, to 7,783.10. Yesterday, it had closed at a life-time high of 7,795.75.
09:25  'India-US naval exercise not contain China':   The annual India-United States bilateral Malabar naval exercise which kicked off on Monday in the Asia Pacific region is not aimed at containing China, the Pentagon has said. "It has absolutely no relations anything to do with China. If anything it is strengthening the US naval presence in the Pacific Ocean region...and maritime partnership with our allies," a Pentagon official told reporters.

"It is totally a routine exercise with no relations to China," the official said. The war games this year has Japan as an special invitee. China had in the past raised objections over Japan's participation in the drills held mainly between US and India. The last exercise involving Japan was held in 2009.
08:57  Shiv Sena remains defiant, defends MPs in party mouthpiece :   The Shiv Sena in its party mouthpiece Saamna defends its MPs who force-fed a catering supervisor at the Maharashtra government's official guest house in Delhi. The man, Arshad Zubair, was fasting for Ramzan.

"The incident was blown out of proportion and given a communal colour," the Shiv Sena said. "The MPs revolted against mismanagement at Maharashtra Sadan. They only raised their voice against injustice. We will not tolerate a Marathi manus being insulted."

The party further slammed the Maharashtra government, saying the bad food at Maharashtra Sandan should be force-fed to the chief minister. "Rubbery rotis should be fed to the CM," the Sena said.     
08:53  US VP Biden meets Zardari briefly at private Iftaar dinner:  United States Vice President Joe Biden had a "brief interaction" with former Pakistan President Asif AliZardari at a private Iftaar dinner hosted by an eminent Pakistani-American.   

The presence of Zardari and Biden at the same privatedinner yesterday has generated wild speculations in a section of the Pakistan media, fueling reports about a possible political realignment in Pakistan, which the White House said is not accurate.   

"The vice president did not have a meeting with former Pakistan President Zardari. They happened to be at the same private event and had a brief interaction," a White House official told PTI.
08:50  Obama calls Kerry, discusses Gaza ceasefire efforts:  United States President Barack Obama called his Secretary of State John Kerry, who flew into Tel Aviv from Cairo despite warnings over airline safety, to take stock of the efforts to halt the bitter fighting between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Obama, during his call aboard Air Force One yesterday, asked about the developments to achieve an immediate cessation of hostilities which has led to the deaths of nearly 700 Palestinians and 32 Israeli soldiers, the White House said.

Over the last few days, Kerry has been engaged with the Israelis, Palestinians, Egyptians, Europeans, the UN, the Arab League, and others to achieve an end to the violence and build a process that can create a sustainable path forward, White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz said. Obama sent Kerry to the region to broker a truce between Israel and Hamas.
03:42  Indian security guard dies in Afghanistan:  A Keralite working as security guard in a private firm in Afghanistan died in a mine rpt mine explosion recently, according to information received by his family.

The deceased was identified as Ponnappan, 52, from Kaduthurithi in Kottayam district, family sources said. The information was passed on to the family yesterday by his colleagues.

Details regarding the circumstances of the death are yet to be obtained, sources said. Ponnappan had gone to work in Afghanistan after retiring from the Indian Air Force.
00:08  Top headlines of the last 24 hours:  Team Rahul rift with veterans continues, no respite in sight
Dialogue only option to resolve Palestinian issue: India
Need to respect each other's concerns, Modi told Chinese Prez
Gaza bloodbath continues, diplomats scramble for ceasefire
Congress moves SC against HC verdict on getting foreign fund
ULFA (anti-talk) faction behind Assam blasts

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