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LIVE! Ukraine reports heavy fighting around malaysia airlines crash site

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July 28, 2014

22:16  Ukraine reports heavy fighting around malaysia airlines crash site:  Artillery fire blocked the route to the wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines jetliner in eastern Ukraine on Monday, forcing an international delegation of European monitors and police officials to turn back without reaching the crash site.

The setback in efforts to secure the site, to recover any more bodies and to begin an independent investigation came as Navi Pillay, the most senior United Nations human rights official, said the downing of the Boeing 777-200 on July 17 may constitute a war crime. She did not ascribe blame.
22:07  Some MH17 victims may 'never be found': police:  All remains of the 298 people who died on downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in rebel-held east Ukraine may never be recovered, Dutch police chief Gerard Bouman said today. 

"I would love to give a guarantee that all the remains will come back, and all possessions, but... I believe the chances are not very good that we will get it all," he said in a briefing to parliament in The Hague.
22:05  US fuming over Israeli criticism of Kerry:  Obama administration officials are fuming over Israeli criticism of Secretary of State John Kerry's latest bid to secure a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. 

In unusually harsh language, officials say the criticism of Kerry could put the relationship between the US and Israel in jeopardy. They also say the personal attacks on Kerry cross a line and are particularly disappointing at a time of active conflict.
21:32  US expresses concern over curb on media freedom in Sri Lanka:  The US today asked Sri Lanka to take immediate steps to curb harassment of journalists and protect their rights as organisers of a US-funded media workshop for Tamils received death threats and had to cancel the programme for a third time since May. 

The US embassy here said it had flagged the issue with the Lankan authorities after pro-government protesters stormed the session for ethnic minority Tamil journalists on Saturday, the latest incident of media intimidation.
20:43  India asks its nationals to leave Libya:  Amidst spiralling violence in Libya, India's mission in Tripoli today advised all its nationals to leave the strife-torn country using all available means and not to travel to that country. 

"In view of the current security situation in Libya, all Indian nationals are advised to move to safer places and avoid all conflict zones. They are further advised to use all available means for exiting Libya. All travel from India to Libya should be postponed till the situation improves," the advisory said.
20:31  Army offers to join Ganga cleaning effort:  Seeking to join Prime Minister Narendra Modi's initiative to clean river Ganga, the Army has proposed to set up a task force under a retired Lieutenant General to carry out the project efficiently. 

The Army has submitted a proposal to the Government to set up a task force under a retired Lt General with a team of 40 officers who would help in cleaning the river, Army sources said.
20:00  ED attaches RS 100 crore assets of former Jharkhand minister:   The Enforcement Directorate today attached properties estimated worth is Rs 100 crore of former Jharkhand minister Anosh Ekka in connection with its money laundering probe against him based on a disproportionate assets complaint.

Ekka, a former rural development minister in chief minister Madhu Koda's cabinet, has been under the scanner of the agency for the last three years after multiple agencies initiated investigations against Koda and his cabinet colleagues.
19:56  One union minister to visit BJP office every day:  In a bid to improve coordination between the party and the government, at least one Union minister will be available at the BJP headquarters every day starting Wednesday to hear grievances and suggestions from partymen.

Each minister will have to visit the party office once a month to ensure better governance, the party has decided. Union Minister of State for Heavy Industries P Radha Krishnan will start this series of minister's visits to the party office from July 30 between 4 to 6 pm.

The move, initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his meeting with party leaders on July 2, is aimed at not only ensuring better government-party coordination but also getting feedback from partymen visiting the party office from all over the country.
19:50  Chhattisgarh home minister meets with accident :  Chhattisgarh Home Minister Ramsevak Paikra has been injured after his motorcade met with an road accident today in Aurangabad. He has been rushed to a hospital.

More details are waited.
19:01  Govt: No drought-like situation:  The Centre has put the onus of drought management on the state. The govt says there is no drought-like situation. 
18:59  Involve int'l players too for war memorial, PM to Army:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked the Army to involve international architects and builders along with domestic players while inviting bids for the construction of a "grand" national war memorial in the national capital.

The instructions to involve international agencies were given by the Prime Minister when he was told by the Army during a briefing that it was planning to invite bids only from domestic architects and builders for the project.

The Prime Minister wants to build a "grand" national war memorial and wants the project to come out in the best possible way, they said.
18:57  MEA advisory urges all Indians to leave Libya:  India's Mission in Tripoli advises all Indian nationals to leave Libya using all available means. The MEA has issued an advisory saying: "In view of the current security situation in Libya, all Indian nationals are advised to move to safer places and avoid all conflict zones. They are further advised to use all available means for exiting Libya. All travel from India to Libya should be postponed till the situation improves."

Read the full advisory
18:53  TMC refuses comment on HC order on Tapas Pal:   Ruling Trinamool Congress in West Bengal today declined to comment on the Calcutta High Court order of filing an FIR against party MP Tapas Pal for his controversial comments against women and its direction that the CID probe the matter.

"No, I will not comment anything without seeing the order," TMC all India general secretary Mukul Roy said.

The state BJP, on the other hand, welcomed the High Court order. "We welcome the High Court order. We are grateful to the court for the order," state BJP leader Tathagata Roy said. CPI(M) central committee member Suryakanta Mishra said "I hope that according to the court order the complaint would be treated as an FIR. I think he (Tapas Pal) should be arrested."
18:47  How long will the NDAs honeymoon last? :  It has been just about two months into the tenure of the National Democratic Alliance government. The size of the NDA's victory must have taken everyone by surprise. Read
18:43  Cong trying to rake up non-issues to tarnish Govt's image: BJP:  The BJP today dismissed as "baseless" the claim about recovery of snooping devices from Union Minister Nitin Gadkari's residence and alleged that a "frustrated" Congress was trying to rake up such "non-issues" to preserve its identity and tarnish BJP government's image.

The ruling party also termed as "unfortunate" a comment by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanding an explanation from the government on the issue.

"It is unfortunate that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaks on an issue like this. It was not expected of him to speak on a matter which does not have any basis," BJP's media cell incharge Shrikant Sharma said.

He said, "Congress' frustration is coming out as it was raising such non-issues in order to save its own identity after it got decimated in the Lok Sabha polls."
18:36  Retreating into the world of Enid Blyton:  "Cleaning out some bookshelves recently, I came across an old hardback. The colourful paper jacket had long gone but I recognized the book even before I read the title. Silverfish had mauled the pages but with extremely limited success. I cleaned the precious volume carefully before inserting some dried neem leaves and putting it back, leaning it by itself at one end of a long shelf."

Ruchir Joshi on reading Enid Blyton in pre-television India. Read
18:31  Congress demands probe into bugging reports:  The controversy over the alleged bugging at the residence of Union Minister Nitin Gadkari's house refused to die down with Congress today demanding a probe and government virtually rejecting it.

Gadkari, who holds the portfolio of Highways and Transport, himself calibrated his statement today completely denying there was any bugging while yesterday he had described reports in this regard with an ambivalent description that they were "highly speculative".

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and his Minister of State Kiren Rijiju declined to wade into the controversy saying Gadkari himself has clarified that these reports were highly speculative.
18:00  Bollywood and billionaires cheer for Indias new Kabaddi League:  Professional kabaddi, launched amid much fanfare over the weekend, may be the sport to steal the spotlight from cricket in India. Read
17:32  Tapas Pal case: Calcutta HC asks CID to investigate hate speech :   The Calcutta High Court has slammed the state police for what it terms, 'deriliction of duty' in the Tapas Pal case. The HC has directed the police to file an FIR within 72 hours. The HC has also directed the CID to investigate Pal's hate speech.

Last week, the Calcutta high court reprimanded Trinamool Congress MP's counsel for trying to downplay the lawmaker's shameful rape speech as an "emotional outburst" and for asking the court to pardon him because he had sought a public apology.

Justice Dipankar Datta was in no mood to take cognizance of Pal's apology. "What apology? Does a rapist get legal reprieve by seeking an apology?" Justice Datta asked Pal's counsel Rajdeep Majumdar.

The MP had threatened members of the opposition with rape and murder during a rally at Choumaha in Bengal's Nadia district on June 14.

17:31   This is India's 7th gold medal at the Glasgow CWG. 
17:23  Gold for shooter Jitu Rai at CWG:   Indian shooter Jitu Rai wins a shooting gold in the 50m pistol event. He broke the Commonwealth Games record to march into the 50-metre men`s pistol finals. Compatriot Gurpal Singh finished with a silver.

On Saturday, Apurvi Chandela and Rahi Sarnobat clinched individual golds while compatriots Ayonika Paul, Prakash Nanjappa and Anisa Sayyed got silvers on day three of competitions at the Commonwealth Games.
16:40  A country where liberal journalists risk death:   The life of a liberal journalist in Pakistan is not an easy one. Write about someone fighting a blasphemy case, or someone whose faith is considered heresy, and you may very soon find yourself in deep trouble. Shoaib Adil, a 49-year-old magazine editor and publisher in Lahore, has many well-wishers and they all want him to disappear from public life or, even better, leave the country. Read
16:32  In Saharanpur, police launch hunt for rioters, 38 held:   An edgy peace reigned over Saharanpur on Sunday following the arrest of 38 people for the violence in which three people were killed and scores injured. The Uttar Pradesh police registered nine FIRs and the state government said it would charge the riot accused under the stringent National Security Act, which makes immediate bail very difficult to procure. Read more
16:31  Instagram a cat and your lunch at the same time :  The enduring popularity of "little tiger" as a snack to accompany a beer in Vietnam means that cat owners live in constant fear of animal snatchers, despite an official ban. At an unassuming restaurant next to a carwash in central Hanoi, a cat is prepared for hungry clients: drowned, shaved and burned to remove all fur before being cut up and fried with garlic."A lot of people eat cat meat. It's a novelty. They want to try it," said the establishment's manager To Van Dung, 35.

See more
16:05  Now, UAVs to monitor riot-hit Saharanpur :  A UAV has been deployed in Saharanpur to monitor the narrow alleys and lanes of the riot-hit Uttar Pradesh town, we hear. The UAV has been manufactured by Mumbai-based Ideaforge whose CEO Ankit Mehta was interviewed on earlier this year.

Here's the who, what, where of UAVs.
16:00   No device found anywhere at my residence: Gadkari:  As the controversy over alleged bugging continued, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari today insisted that no snooping devices were found anywhere at his residence.

"As already stated, I reiterate that no devices were found at my residence anywhere," he tweeted.

The Minister for Surface Transport and Highways was reacting to reports which claimed that high power listening devices were found in the bedroom at his 13, Teen Murti Lane residence in New Delhi.

Gadkari sought to dispel the reports yesterday also by terming these as "highly speculative" but the controversy continued to rage with Opposition demanding a clarification from the government.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday said the matter should be probed.
15:58  Smallpox: The long goodbye:  Last week, six vials of smallpox virus were discovered in a disused closet at the National Institutes of Health, where they had lain, forgotten and misplaced, for over 30 years. Some of them were found to contain live specimens, meaning that this dangerous virus -- once considered to have been eradicated from the face of the planet'"had the capacity to infect and spread.

Read more
15:44  UPSC row: Akhilesh writes to Modi:   UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav today wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding his intervention in the UPSC row as large number of Hindi medium students from the state write the prestigious exam every year.

Yadav requested him to re-consider the new pattern of civil services preliminary examination and CSAT "keeping in mind theory of equality".

"Large number of students from UP write UPSC examination and their primary language is Hindi. In CSAT, the question papers made available to aspirants in Hindi and other languages are being translated through a software due to which their actual meaning gets distorted and aspirants get confused," Yadav said in his letter.
15:43  Ron Rosenbaum on Hitler, Hollywood, and quantifying evil:  It's been nearly 20 years since Ron Rosenbaum's Explaining Hitler made a splash with its examination of historians and conspiracy theories surrounding one of history's most infamous villains.

This summer, Rosenbaum is out with an updated edition that includes a fresh take on the many controversies that have cropped up in the interim. From the debate over why Hitler lost the war to the Internet parodies of Downfall, Rosenbaum has wielded his discerning pen and dissected as much Hitler as one can stomach.  Read
15:19  Goa deputy CM apologises for 'India is Hindu nation' remark :   Goa's Deputy Chief Minister Francis D'Souza today, apologized for his comment that India was already a Hindu nation.

"My opinion could be wrong for others. I accept it. I don't say it is the most correct opinion. You might say I am wrong. If anyone's sentiment is hurt, I apologise," D'Souza said.

"Hindu is my culture, Christianity is my religion. When I say Hindu, it means culture and not religion. Hindu culture is 5,000 years old and my religion is 2,000 years old," D'Souza said.

D'Souza said Friday: "India is a Hindu country. It is Hindustan. All Indians in Hindustan are Hindus, including me, I am a Christian Hindu."

His comments triggered an uproar in the national media and on the political scene. The opposition asked the Goa Roman Catholic Church to excommunicate him for committing heresy.
15:18  Another Monday check by minister finds attendance is poor:   BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu conducted a surprise check of his Urban Development ministry this morning to discover many empty chairs. Their sole occupants were the printed towels that flag government office turf. About 80 missing employees will be asked to explain why they were either late or missing, said sources.-- NDTV.
15:09  No proposal for merger of United Bank with IDBI Bank:  State-owned IDBI Bank today said it is not considering any proposal to merge Kolkata-based United Bank of India with itself.
14:45  Home minister Rajnath Singh meets Army Chief Bikram Singh. 
14:42  My tweet on Gujarat model for Sultanpur not communal: BJP MLA:  Defending his "controversial" tweet advocating "Gujarat model" to stem the Saharanpur riots, BJP MLA and party National Executive Member C T Ravi today said his intention was not to inflame communal passions but to help Uttar Pradesh Government control communal violence.

"Since 2002, not a single (communal) incident took place in Gujarat as the government there has taken serious action (to control it). That was my intention behind the tweet," he said.

Ravi had tweeted yesterday, "Only the Gujarat model, that worked from 2002 in containing their rioting elements, can work. Apply across Bharat." Also the state BJP General Secretary, Ravi clarified that the then Gujarat Government (headed by Narendra Modi) had taken some preventive measures to control the communal violence by arresting more than 20,000 people.

Representational picture.
14:38  Gaza crisis: UN calls for immediate ceasefire:  The UN Security Council has called for an "immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire" in Gaza. An emergency session backed a statement calling for a truce over the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr "and beyond". Both the Palestinian and Israeli envoys to the UN criticised the statement, for different reasons. Read
14:31  HC stays EC order against ex-Maha CM Ashok Chavan:  The Delhi High Court today stayed the Election Commission's show cause notice to ex-Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan asking him why he should not be disqualified for failing to give his true and correct expenses incurred in 2009 Assembly polls.

The commission in its July 13, 2014 order had given Chavan, an MP from Nanded parliamentary seat, a 20-day deadline to respond to the show cause notice which was issued after the poll panel had found him guilty of failing to "lodge his account of election expenses in the manner required by the (Representation of the People) Act and Rules."
14:22  India's press under siege:  "When Indira Gandhi, India's prime minister, declared a state of emergency on June 25, 1975, she immediately imposed strict censorship of the press. With defiant exceptions, much of the press caved in quickly to the new rules, prompting L.K. Advani, one of the founders of the Bharatiya Janata Party, who was jailed during the emergency, to comment later: "You were merely asked to bend, but you chose to crawl."

Read the NYT on freedom of the press in India.
14:05  And if you haven't read this, do...

SHOCKING! Woman posts Instagram selfies wearing makeup looted from MH17 crash site. Read
13:57  MH17 downing 'may be war crime', says UN:  Just in: Downing of Malaysian plane MH17 in east Ukraine may constitute "war crime", UN human rights chief Navi Pillay says.

The rebel leadership in Donetsk has repeatedly and publicly denied any responsibility for the downing of Flight 17.

Sergei Kavtaradze, a spokesman for rebel leader Alexander Borodai, repeated to the AP on Friday that no rebel units had weapons capable of shooting that high, and said any suggestions to the contrary are part of an information war aimed at undermining the insurgents' cause.

Nevertheless, the denials are increasingly challenged by accounts of residents, the observations of journalists on the ground, and the statements of one rebel official. The Ukrainian government has also provided purported communications intercepts that it says show rebel involvement in the shoot-down.
13:49  JUST IN: UPSC issue will be resolved within a week: Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
13:48  Sania Mirza and the story of Muslim discrimination:   The reality is that even successful Muslims are made to suffer because of their faith, and the opposition to Sania Mirza is part of the same story of discrimination, says Kashif-ul-Huda. Read
13:38  Pakistan mob kills woman, girls, over "blasphemous" Facebook post:  A Pakistani mob killed a woman member of a religious sect and two of her granddaughters after a sect member was accused of posting blasphemous material on Facebook, police said Monday, the latest instance of growing violence against minorities.

Reuters reports that the dead, including a seven-year-old girl and her baby sister, were Ahmadis, who consider themselves Muslim but believe in a prophet after Mohammed.

A 1984 Pakistani law declared them non-Muslims and many Pakistanis consider them heretics.Police said the late Sunday violence in the town of Gujranwala, 220 km (140 miles) southeast of the capital, Islamabad, started with an altercation between young men, one of whom was an Ahmadi accused of posting "objectionable material".
13:27  On Friday, the Belgaum district administration demolished the board at Yallur village near Belgaum, which proclaimed the village to be in Maharashtra. The action triggered protests in Kolhapur, where Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation buses were stoned. This was followed with assault on Marathi-speaking people.
13:26  Assault on Maharashtrians in K'taka is Kannada terrorism: Sena :   The Shiv Sena today termed the "assault" on Marathi-speaking populace in Karnataka by the police there as "Kannada terrorism" and asked the Narendra Modi government to intervene.

"In Mumbai, the Karnataka Bhawan and Karnataka Sangh buildings stand tall. However, a 'Maharashtra state' board in Karnataka is not tolerated and prompts such brutal assault which even puts Hafiz Saeed to shame," an editorial in Sena mouthpiece 'Saamana' said.

"All political parties blasted the Maharashtra Sadan force-feeding issue. Will they show the same zeal in condemning this injustice on Marathi speaking people of Karnataka," the editorial asked.

"In Modi, we have a strong Prime Minister and in Rajnath Singh, we have got a strong Home Minister. The Marathi speaking populace in the border area has great expectation from them. If Karnataka Police is indulging in terror against Marathi-speaking people, it is the responsibility of the Central government to curb this terrorism. We are making this appeal to the Central government because those ruling Maharashtra are incompetent," it maintained.

The Sena reaction followed Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan's telephonic talk with his Karnataka counterpart Siddaramaiah yesterday.
13:24  Six new BSF camps planned to combat Maoists in Odisha:  In order to contain the spread of Maoist activities in inter-state border and remote areas, police has chalked out a plan to set up six new BSF camps in Malkangiri, Koraput and Rayagada districts in Odisha.
13:19  What's riding on US Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to India :  US Secretary of State John Kerry is set to visit India this week as Washington tries to revitalize ties it sees as a counterbalance to China's rising power, but rapid progress is unlikely. Read
13:02  Govts change, but nothing else does :  Poor starve as India sits on grain mountain: Government stocks DOUBLE what it needs as food prices cripple consumers. Read
12:57  The wheels within wheels of PMO appointments :  The Prime Minister has also instructed Additional Principal Secretary Dr
P K Mishra to attend the Union Cabinet meetings. This instruction is being
interpreted as a major change of protocol in the PMO. Had the Cabinet Secretariat and the Personnel Department not stood in the way, the Prime Minister was keen to designate Dr P K Mishra as Principal Secretary II.

Since the PMO is dealing with world governments and world leaders -- the decoration of Principal Secretary II -- would not have gone down well with protocol. Hence Dr PK Mishra got the coveted position of Additional Principal Secretary.
12:52  The 'Teen Murti' of the PMO:  And so we come to the trifurcation in the PMO.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given a new look to the adminstration of PMO. A new 'Teen Murti' inside the PMO has emerged -- a trifurcation of his office.

The trio in the PMO are Nripendra Mishra, Principal Secretary; Ajit Doval, National Security Advisor and Dr P K Mira, Additional Principal Secretary. Each of the men report to the PM directly.  

Infrastructure and developmental issues are being dealt by Nripendra Mishra, while Ajit Doval has been entrusted with security issues, external relations and nuclear issues. This triumvirate will run the day-to-day administration of the PMO.
12:45  Home Ministry refuses to probe 'bugging devices in Gadkari's home':   A new controversy is swirling around a report that bugging devices were found in Union Minister Nitin Gadkari's home in Delhi recently.

However, the Home ministry has rejected calls for a probe by parties like the Congress and its ally Nationalist Congress party.

"Mr Gadkari has himself called it speculation. If so, how can we intervene?" said Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Home.

On Sunday, Gadkari had tweeted, "Reports in a section of the media about listening devices having been found at my New Delhi residence are highly speculative." But the denial failed to stop political murmurs.

Read more
12:45  Babus in Modi govt have much to cheer :  We are being told that babus in the Narendra Modi government are enthusiastic about the new regime. There are reasons for this...

First, the Prime Minister calls up secretaries on the RAX, which has ensured a level of comfort. (The RAX phone is meant only for seniormost functionaries in the Government of India).

Second, babus believe that the PMO has regained its lost importance.

Third, the PMO has got a new look with trifurcation (see our next post) and the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has been allocated to Dr P K Mishra, additional principal secretary, and the PM has authorised Dr Mishra to convene the meetings of the Secretaries to the Government of India.

Dr Mishra has an enviable track record. In Gujarat, he has seen it all and done it all. He worked in the rural development, agriculture, cooperation and revenue departments and in the State Electricity Corporation and the State Disaster Management Authority.

Insiders say that this has effectively been put to action since last month and so far has happened without any glitches.

But this is indicative of the Cabinet Secretariat losing its sheen.
12:32  Katju on how the Collegium actually works :  "When I was a Judge of the Supreme Court one day I went to the chamber of Justice Kapadia during the lunch interval. At that time Justice Kapadia (whom I hold in great respect for his high integrity ) was in the Collegium of the Supreme Court, and Justice Balakrishnan was the CJI."

Justice Katju on how the SC collegium actually works.  Read

For a backgrounder of what this is all about, read this.
12:22  How Haja Fakruddin ended up in Syria:  Haja Fakruddin, a 37 year from Tamil Nadu, is one of ISIS's Indian fighters. Today, Indian intelligence agents tell Vicky Nanjappa/ more Indians are ready to take the jihadi trip to Syria and Iraq.
12:21  How Muslims break their Ramzan fast the world over :  As it nears lunch, feast on these pictures of the kind of food with which Muslims all over the world break their fast during Ramzan. See
12:12  Finance ministry nod for setting up rape crisis centres across India :  The finance ministry has given its approval for rape crisis centres across the country. The Women and child development ministry has proposed the setting up of rape crisis centres in the aftermath of the Badaun rape. In fact, the ministry had decided to fast forward UPA-2's proposal of setting up one-stop crisis centres across the country.

Women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi said the centres, which she said is one of her top priorities, will be functional by December.
11:46  Air India flew 33 times over Ukraine in seven days prior to MH17 incident :  A week after the shocking shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 on the Ukraine-Russia border, which killed 298 passengers and crew, questions are being raised over airlines flying over active war zones, even when major aviation regulators such as America's Federal Aviation Administration have released advisories against such operations. Read
11:43  Indian-origin soldier killed by Hamas fire 'was a cheerful man always keen to help anybody' :  A 27-year-old Indian-origin soldier in the Israeli army died overnight after being hit by a mortar shell near the Gaza Strip border, while Israel was holding fire under a humanitarian ceasefire at the request of the United Nations. Read
11:38  Family enrolls maid in English speaking course, vocational training :  In a country where maids are often tortured, here's a heartwarming story from the DNA. How a family in suburban Mumbai -- Powai -- got their maid educated so that she can get a better job. Read
11:33  Cong on Chinese incursions: Where is govt's coercive diplomacy?:  Congress reacts to the reports of Chinese incursions: Party spokesperson Manish Tewari says, "Unfortunate that since this Govt has come into power there have been many Chinese incursions, where is the coercive diplomacy?"
11:32  In Mumbai, when it rains, it pours!:  After a blistering week, the Mumbai experienced heavy showers on Sunday and Monday and  officials at the regional weather department say that heavy rainfall is expected to continue for the coming 48 hours.

Heavy rains lashed most parts of the city beginning on Sunday, leading to several trees falling and water logging in most parts of the city.

Here's what @ajinkya_299  tweets: Avoid DN Road today at any cost. Tree has fallen on road blocking both sides. Traffic building up.

Also see our slideshow on the Mumbai rains.
11:22  Sonia's first iftar party in three years :  Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday hosted her first Iftar in three years, which saw her sharing a table with Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and Janata Dal (United) Convenor Sharad Yadav. NCP leader Tariq Anwar was also seated at the same table.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi were also present at the Iftar.

While Rahul was seated with diplomats, Dr Singh was on a separate table with former Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi and cine star Sharmila Tagore among others.

The fast-breaking feast during Ramzan is only the second big Iftar hosted this season after the one by President Pranab Mukherjee last week.

See our slide show.
11:18  China police remove cross from church:  While on China: Hundreds of police took down a church's cross in eastern China early today amid a crackdown on church buildings in a coastal region where thousands of people are embracing Christianity.

Evangelist Qu Linuo, who belongs to another church, said hundreds of police showed up today at the Longgang Huai En Church in the city of Wenzhou and used a crane to remove the cross from its steeple.

Qu said he and about 200 others had flocked to the church a few hours earlier to protect the church but peacefully made way for the police.
11:13  Chinese pitch tents in Ladakh in fresh incursion attempt:  
NDTV reports: In yet another incident of intrusion by the Chinese, graziers reportedly pitched tents in the Demchok area of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir this week but withdrew after talks between troops on either side of the border.

Sources say the incident happened on July 22 when the graziers put up three tents at the Charding Nilu Nullah Junction in the Demchok sector, which is situated along the Line of Actual Control, the de-facto border between India and China

An Indian patrolling team was reportedly sent to the spot; a patrol from China's People's Liberation Army also arrived soon after. Sources say a flag meeting between the commanders from both sides finally resulted in the Chinese agreeing to move back the graziers a day after.

Read more HERE
11:08  Snag aborts Abu Dhabi-bound flight's take-off :  
An Abu Dhabi-bound flight with around 117 passengers and crew on board aborted take-off this morning following a 'technical problem', Chennai airport officials said.

The pilot of the Etihad airlines flight noticed the problem while preparing for take-off at the airport, officials said.

Passengers have been provided accommodation, they added.
09:37  PM Modi likely to expand Cabinet next month:  
Zee News reports: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to expand his Council of Ministers in the middle of next month, reports claimed on Monday. 

Modi is expected to induct around a dozen new ministers when the expansion happens after the current session of Parliament comes to an end on August 14. 

Sources said while expanding his Cabinet, Modi is likely to focus on two things giving fair representation to the states and rewarding talent.
At present, there are 44 members in Modis Council of Ministers 22 Cabinet and 22 MoS. 

Among the new faces to be inducted into Modi's team could be Hazaribagh MP Jayant Sinha, son of former finance minister Yashwant Sinha, and BJP general secretary JP Nadda, who was tipped to become BJP president but lost out to Amit Shah for the post. 

While Modi is expected to reshuffle the portfolios of senior ministers, he will also reduce the burden of ministers looking after two or three ministries. 
09:21  Heavy rain alert in Uttarakhand, 5 dead in landslide:  
Ten days after heavy rains pounded Uttarakhand, the meteorological department on Monday warned of another round of incessant heavy rains in the state in 48 hours while five people were killed in a landslide. 

The rain alert has been sounded for most areas of the state including Nainital, Chamoli, Champawat, Uttarkashi and the state capital Dehradun. 

Following the warning, disaster management teams have been asked to be on standby.
Officials have been asked to be "extra vigilant" in areas adjacent to the rivers, many of whom are in spate owing to the rains that lashed the state July 16-17. 
09:09  US satellite images show Russian rockets hitting Ukraine:  
The US State Department has released satellite images it says back up the assertion by Washington and Kiev that Russian forces are firing artillery into eastern Ukraine in support of separatists.

In a four-page document titled Evidence of Russian Shelling into Ukraine, released Sunday, blast marks from rocket launches in Russia and craters in Ukraine can be seen, the State Department says.

The document also shows "self-propelled artillery only found in Russian military units, on the Russian side of the border, oriented in the direction of a Ukrainian military unit within Ukraine."

It also states that: "Russia-backed separatists have used heavy artillery, provided by Russia, in attacks on Ukrainian forces from inside Ukraine."

The images are attributed to the US Director of National Intelligence and were taken between July 21 and July 26, officials say -- days after the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

According to The Associated Press, they "claim to show multiple rocket launchers fired at Ukrainian forces from within Ukraine and from Russian soil. One image shows dozens of craters around a Ukrainian military unit and rockets that can travel more than 7 miles."

The release of the satellite images comes after the US said last week that it had obtained "new evidence" that Russian forces were firing artillery across the border, a charge that Kiev has made repeatedly and loudly in recent days.

Read that report HERE

08:39  Google mapping comes under CBI scrutiny:  
The CBI has registered a preliminary enquiry (PE) against Internet giant Google over Mapathon 2013, an event organised by the US company, for allegedly violating laws by mapping sensitive areas and defence installations, prohibited by law.

The CBI registered the PE based on a complaint filed by Surveyor General of India's office to the Union Home Ministry in which Google was accused of had been indulging in activities of mapping several areas which were not included in the maps of the country, official sources said.

The Internet giant had not taken permission from Survey of India, country's official mapping agency, before organising a mapping competition in February-March 2013 when they asked citizens to map their neighbourhoods, especially details related to hospitals and restaurants.

Alarmed by Mapathon, the Survey of India (SoI), India's national survey and mapping organisation under the Department of Science and Technology, asked the Internet giant to share its details where they found that there were several coordinates having details of sensitive defence installations which are out of the public domain.

Highlighting the violations to the Home Ministry, the SoI said only it was mandated to undertake 'Restricted' category surveying and mapping, and no other government or private organisations or individual are authorised to do so.
08:39  Bangalore school where 6-yr-old was raped reopens:  
The elite Bangalore school where a six-year-old was raped earlier this month, allegedly by a skating instructor, reopened today for classes 5 to 10.

Vibgyor International School has remained closed since the crime was reported by the child's mother, who says her daughter was assaulted on July 2

For classes 1 to 4, the school will reopen on Wednesday.

On Sunday, nearly a hundred parents, accompanied by officials from the education and police departments, visited the school premises to check the security arrangements made by its management. Around 110 CCTVs are expected to be operational from today. 

Read more HERE
08:38  Hamas chief: We cannot coexist with occupiers:  
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal demanded Israel lift its blockade of Gaza and warned that Palestinians cannot coexist with their neighbours while their land is occupied, in an interview broadcast today. 

Yesterday, Meshaal was interviewed by US broadcaster PBS in the Qatari capital Doha while in Gaza his Islamist militia was under assault from Israeli forces in renewed fighting that has left hundreds dead. 

A full version of the interview will be broadcast late on Monday, but excerpts were revealed today on CBS News' "Face the Nation." 

Asked by veteran interviewer Charlie Rose whether he could foresee living beside Israelis in peace, Meshaal said only a future Palestinian state could decide whether to recognise the Jewish state. 

"We are not fanatics, we are not fundamentalists. We are not actually fighting the Jews because they are Jews per se. We do not fight any other races. We fight the occupiers," he said.

"I'm ready to coexist with the Jews, with the Christians and the Arabs and non-Arabs," he said. "However, I do not coexist with the occupiers." 

Pressed on whether Palestinians could recognize the state of Israel as a Jewish state, Meshaal reiterated Hamas' position -- the group does not recognize Israel. 
08:37  Gulf countries celebrate Eid today:  
Muslim festival of Eid will be celebrated across the Gulf region on Monday.

"The UAE will celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr on Monday as the Shawwal moon has been sighted in the country," UAE's official WAM news agency said.

Similar announcements were made by other governments in the Gulf region as well. 

"It has been officially announced in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), Doha (Qatar) and Amman (Jordan) that Monday will be the first day of the three-day Eid El-Fitr," the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) said.

Rulers of the Gulf countries exchanged greetings on the occasion. 
08:37  Plane crash-lands on US beach, 1 dead:  
A small plane crash-landed on a beach in the US state of Florida, killing a father and critically injuring his young daughter, authorities have said. 

The mid-afternoon incident in Venice involved a 1972 Piper Cherokee aircraft and neither the pilot nor his passenger was hurt, Wendy Rose of the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office said in a statement yesterday. 

The deceased father was walking along the Gulf Coast beach with his daughter yesterday when the plane crash-landed, Rose said. 

The girl was transported to a children's hospital in St Petersburg "and is believed to be in critical condition," she added.

Rose said the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office was notified by Venice Airport officials that the pilot would attempt to make a beach landing after signaling he was in distress and could not make it back to the airfield.

08:35  Top headlines at this hour::  Sonia holds Iftar, shares table with Sharad Yadav and Lalu

Row over 'recovery' of bugging devices from Gadkari's home 

38 arrested, curfew remains in force in Saharanpur

Home Minister briefs PM on Saharanpur, UPSC

Letter to Mumbai Police threatens 'revenge' for Gaza attacks 
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