23:36 India and the US need to play ball :
As a longtime fan of the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team, it's not often that I find myself cheering for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Phillies' rival in the state of Pennsylvania. But on July 4, 2009, I couldn't help but enjoy the sight of Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel -- the first two Indians ever to play professional baseball in the United States -- each take the pitcher's mound for the very first time.
The two young players, both born in Lucknow, India, had never touched -- or even heard of -- a baseball before being discovered by an American sports agent a year earlier and selected out of 40,000 Indian athletes to train for the American major leagues.
23:34 The remaking of Narendra Modi:
Power fascinates and when self-obsessive, it is even more fascinating. Subject to continuous churning, a dynamic sense of power has a magic few other processes possess. Narendra Modi is not just a man obsessed with power, but one who sees himself as a basic medium for it. Here is a Frankenstein redoing himself, creating a new self and a new costume.
The remaking of Narendra Modi has to be understood because he stands as one of the major threats to the Indian polity. His attempt to project himself as a future prime minister has paid dividends. This essay is an attempt to understand the remaking of Modi, the modernist as fascist.
22:22 Malaysia calls for better tracking of flights:
The Malaysian government said on Thursday that it would push for international standards requiring that commercial aircraft be tracked in real time throughout their flights, to prevent any more disappearances like that of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
The recommendation came in a report by the country's chief inspector of air accidents on the search for the missing jet, which left only tantalizing clues to its likely whereabouts that were not recognized or understood for days after it disappeared on March 8 with 239 people aboard.
Investigators eventually concluded that the plane must have fallen into the southern Indian Ocean off the coast of Western Australia, thousands of miles from its planned course over the Gulf of Thailand, where searchers initially wasted crucial days hunting fruitlessly.
22:18 Syria violence spirals a month from election:
Syria's air force killed at least 20 people, including 17 children, in the latest strike on battered Aleppo city, as civilians bear the brunt of the civil war.
The air strikes yesterday came a day after at least 100 people, including some 80 civilians, died in a twin car bomb attack on a pro-regime area of Homs claimed by the Al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Nusra Front.
22:18 Israel police challenge US 'terror' findings:
Israeli police today challenged Washington's inclusion of Jewish extremist attacks on Palestinians in a global terror report, saying such incidents could not be likened to militant attacks.
For the first time, the State Department's 2013 Country Reports on Terrorism, published yesterday, included a reference to a growing wave of racist anti-Palestinian vandalism, euphemistically known as "price tag" attacks.
21:43 Florida jail explosion kills 2, injures 100:
An apparent gas explosion rocked a jail in Florida, killing two inmates, injuring more than 100 people, and causing the building to partially collapse, according to a county spokeswoman.
At the blast site this morning, pieces of glass and brick were strewn about on the ground. The front of the building appeared bowed out, with cracks throughout. Authorities blocked off roads leading to the jail.
21:16 Peaches Geldof died of heroin overdose:
Peaches Geldof, renowned TV host and model, died from an overdose of heroin, British police said today nearly a month after her death. The results of a toxicology report showed Geldof, 25, who died suddenly on April 7, had the drug in her system.
Geldof was the second daughter of musician and campaigner Bob Geldof and the late Paula Yates, who died of a heroin overdose at the age of 41.
21:14 Row over 'omission' of parts of Modi interview to DD :
A row erupted today over reports that Doordarshan had "censored" Narendra Modi's interview, with BJP alleging that it was due to government "pressure" even as the public broadcaster insisted that there was no interference by any authority or any "deliberate omission".
The government also denied any hand in the alleged omission of the part of the interview in which Modi is believed to have said that Priyanka Gandhi was like his daughter, arguing that Prasar Bharati, which runs DD, is autonomous.
19:17 Malaysia releases first preliminary report on missing Flight MH370:
The Malaysian government released its first preliminary report on the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370, on Thursday.
Below is the five-page report along with additional details, the history of the flight and the search and rescue efforts. It also speaks about real-time tracking of commercial aircraft.
The report was sent to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the UN body that governs global aviation.
19:10 Akash surface-to-air missile test fired:
India today successfully testfired indigenously-developed surface-to-air Akash missile with a strike range of 25 km and capability to carry warhead of 60 kgs from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur as part of a user-trial.
18:12 Election Commission cannot behave like God: Azam:
Riled by the ban imposed to preventhim from campaigning in Uttar Pradesh, senior Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan today again hit out at the Election Commission saying the poll body cannot behave like 'God' andit should take actions best suited for a democratic setup.
"The Election Commission cannot behave like God! Insteadit should adopt a line of action best suited for democracy andin the spirit of the Constitution," Khan told reporters here.
17:35 CISF enhances security at all airports after Chennai blasts:
The CISF today issued alert across all domestic and international airports in the country to step up security at these facilities in the wake of the Chennai blasts.
The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) headquarters here issued orders asking all Airport Security Groups (ASGs) at 59 airports to tighten access-control, enhance quick reaction teams and undertake multiple screening of suspect passengers.
17:33 JD-U to support Arvind Kejriwal in Varanasi:
Janata Dal-United has decided to support Aam Aadmi Party candidate Arvind Kejriwal in the elections from the high profile Varanasi seat in Uttar Pradesh where BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is in the fray.
JD(U) is opposed to both Congress and BJP, hence would support Arvind Kejriwal in Varanasi and a decision regarding it has been taken in the party, JD(U) spokesman Rajeev Ranjan Prasad told PTI today.
17:22 US backs Lankan claim of existence of LTTE's int'l network:
The US has backed the Sri Lankan claim that an international network of sympathisers of the LTTE exists, channelling funds for the banned outfit to procure arms and other supplies.
"The LTTE employed charities as fronts to collect and divert funds for their activities in North America, Europe, and Asia to procure weapons, communications, funding, and other needed supplies," according to US State Department's Bureau of Counter-terrorism 2013 annual report.
16:50 Those fighting against Rahul have 'ulterior' motives: Priyanka:
Invoking her family's long association with the constituency, Priyanka Gandhi today asked people to be wary of the rivals of her brother Rahul Gandhi as they were contesting against him with "ulterior" motives.
Campaigning for Rahul, who is seeking to make a hat-trick of victories from the family pocket borough, she said he had been working for the area with "honest" intentions like their father and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi but same could not be said about his rivals.
"You should see who is working with a sincere heart and who have ulterior motives," she said at an election meeting as she dwelt at length about the unique relations her family have with the constituency which the "outsiders" would not understand.
Smriti Irani of BJP and Kumar Vishwas of AAP are fighting against Rahul, making the contest much keener than previous elections.
"The affection that exists between you and the family is unique which either you can understand or we can. Others can't," she said. Follow latest poll updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
16:27 More than 100 injured in Florida jail explosion:
A gas explosion at a jail in the Florida Panhandle has injured 100 to 150 inmates and corrections officers, a county spokeswoman said.
The explosion happened late yesterday in Escambia County jail's booking facility and caused the building to partially collapse, said Kathleen Castro, the county's public information manager.
About 600 inmates were in the building at the time, she said.
Castro didn't know if flooding in the area was a factor but says the jail did get extensive flooding during heavy rains that have drenched the region on Tuesday and yesterday.
The injured were brought to hospitals and the uninjured inmates were brought to jails in neighbouring counties, Castro said.
Spokespeople at Sacred Heart Hospital and West Florida Hospital in Pensacola said the injuries they treated were all relatively minor.
16:16 Father's move to re-marry is personal matter: Digvijay's son:
Congress MLA Jaiwardhan Singh on Thursday said his that his father and party general secretary, Digvijay Singh's move to remarry was a "personal matter" and extended full support to him.
"I think it is a highly personal matter about which I would not like to say anything," the MLA from Raghogarh constituency said.
"However, I would like to say that my father has my full support," Singh said.
67-year-old Digvijay had announced on Wednesday on micro-blogging website Twitter that he was in a relationship with TV anchor Amrita Rai, who has filed for a mutual consent divorce from her first husband.
Jaiwardhan, who studied in the US, was elected last year to the state assembly from Raghogarh constituency in Guna district, from where Digvijay was elected for the first time way back in 1977.
15:56 'Emotional' Meira Kumar bids farewell to staff:
A correspondent in Delhi: Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar turned emotional on Thursday as she arrived in Parliament complex to bid farewell to senior employees of the secretariat.
According to rules, on the dissolution of the Lok Sabha, although the Speaker ceases to be a member of the House, she does not vacate her office. The Speaker may, at any time, resign from office by writing under her hand to the Deputy Speaker.
The Lok Sabha secretariat staff presented her a memento following which Kumar shared some memories of her term as Speaker.
Before leaving for home, Kumar was seen walking around the Parliament complex with her husband and family.
15:36 Now Abu Azmi says Muslims who don't vote for SP not true Muslims:
In controversial comments, Samajwadi Party leader Abu Asim Azmi has said that Muslims who do not vote for his party are not "true Mulsims"
"A Muslim, who does not vote for SP and talks against it is not a Muslim. His DNA test should be conducted. See whether he is from RSS," he said while addressing an election rally in support of SP candidate Bhalchandra Yadav at Khalilabad.
"I want to say that he cannot be a true person. What SP supremo Mulayam Singh has not done for them (Muslim community)," Azmi, who is the Maharashtra unit chief of SP, asked. Follow latest poll updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
15:27 Why the haste to file FIR against Modi: Jaitley:
BJP leader Arun Jaitley on Thursday questioned the Election Commission's order for registration of an FIR against Narendra Modi and said it acted in "haste and anger" and the interpretation given by it may fall foul of Constitutional provisions.
Jaitley said the poll body has missed out the larger vision as the meaning of criminal law cannot be stretched out and definition of polling area be defined as Modi was not inside the polling station while giving a media byte after voting like other leaders elsewhere in the country.
"When Constitutional institutions react in haste and even anger, they miss out the larger vision. Criminal law provisions are to be strictly construed. Their meaning can't be stretched out.
"A public meeting is a public meeting; the media byte is not a public meeting. If media is to be prosecuted for displaying comments of politicians on a voting day such a provision will fall foul of constitutional guarantee of free speech since it is not covered by the prescribed restrictions under Article 19 (2)," Jaitley said in an article on his blog.
Citing examples of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and other leaders who spoke to media after casting their vote, the BJP leader said, "I am only illustrating that an interpretation being given by the EC may fall foul."Follow latest poll updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
15:18 Modi should send apology to EC: Chidambaram:
Narendra Modi should send an apology to the Election Commission after being "caught on the wrong foot" by the poll panel, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said today.
"When someone is caught on the wrong foot, the honorable thing is to send an apology. Mody was caught on the wrong foot yesterday," Chidambaram said addressing a press conference at the AICC headquarters in New Delhi.
The Congress leader dismissed Modi's suggestion that there was a political conspiracy behind the registration of FIR against him by the Gujarat administration.
"I wonder how many complaints the BJP has made against other parties including Congress. If all these were political conspiracies, then this also is a political conspiracy," he said, adding that "These are political statements after being caught on the wrong foot."
Modi had last night suggested the FIR was a political conspiracy of the Congress by saying that it showed how shaken the Congress is.
Addressing a campaign rally at Tirupati, Modi had said he has not committed any offence that warranted an FIR and that he only showed a lotus badge to people. Lotus is the symbol of BJP.
14:59 HC notices to Bhujbal, PWD Secy in Rs 119 crore scam:
The Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court has issued notices to Maharashtra PWD Minister Chhagan Bhujbal and Principal Secretary Shyamal Mukherjee directing them to reply before next week for favouring a city contractor in alleged scam of Rs 119.54 crore.
A division bench of Justices Bhushan Gavai and Chandrakant Bhadang yesterday expressed anguish over the government's move to "protect" Ankit Constructions belonging to NIT trustee local politician Kishor Kanhere despite having material evidence against the company, terming its action as "shocking" and "uncalled for".
The court also served notices on PWD desk officer P G Wanjari, Secretary V D Sardeshmukh, and Deputy Secretary R B Gadge asking them why contempt action shouldn't be initiated against them.
Earlier, PWD Chief Engineer Arvind Sagane informed in an affidavit that the government had demoted Kanhere's company from '1A' category to '1B' from April 4 for a year, but it failed to convince the court that restrained the government from allotting any work to Ankit Constructions until further orders.
14:37 No judge will lend himself: Jaitley on snoopgate commission:
Amid reports that the UPA government may name a judge for the 'snoopgate' commission, BJP today hoped that no judge will "lend" himself to the "political and malafide" exercise keeping in view the cause of judicial dignity.
BJP leader Arun Jaitley today said all the judges approached by the UPA have refused to be part of the "desperate" exercise as the new government will be in place in a fortnight.
"I will be very curious to know the name of the judge who has agreed to 'lend' himself to the UPA. I will be surprised if there is one. I hope, for the cause of judicial dignity, no one agrees to be a part of this desperate exercise," he said in an article.
Jaitley said so far all judges approached by the UPA have refused to lend themselves for this "political and malafide exercise".
The BJP leader was reacting to reports indicating that the UPA government is planning to name a judge for the 'snoopgate' commission.
14:19 Not sure Priyanka will be Happy with 'Father Figure' Modi: Chidambaram:
Responding to a report that Narendra Modi has called Priyanka Gandhi Vadra "like his daughter" in a TV interview, Finance Minister P Chidambaram today said: "I am happy Modi considers Priyanka Gandhi as his daughter, I am not sure if she will be happy to consider Modi as a father figure."
Modi's interview to public broadcaster Doordarshan has run into controversy over reports that some portions were edited out.
This, reports suggest, included a part where he called Priyanka, the daughter of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, "like his daughter".
A newspaper report quotes sources as saying the BJP's prime ministerial candidate had refused to attack Priyanka Gandhi in response to a question, saying she was like his daughter and not a political rival like her mother and brother Rahul Gandhi.Follow latest poll updates on Twitter: @RediffElections
13:19 EC scolds Beni Prasad for 'animal' remarks against Modi:
The Election Commission on Thursday censured Union Minister Beni Prasad Verma for his 'insulting' remarks against BJP prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi.
Slamming Verma, the EC said that further violation could result in banning him from poll campaigning. Recently, the minister had launched an acrid personal attack on Modi calling him an animal.
The Congress leader touched a new low while addressing party workers in Gonda in Uttar Pradesh. Beni called Narendra Modi an 'animal' and said that he needs to be taught a lesson.
He had also said that Modi will never reach the PM's post and go to "graveyard".
Beni had attacked Modi's close aide Amit Shah as well. He reportedly said that once Rahul Gandhi becomes the Prime Minister, Modi and his close aide Amit Shah will be "jailed for life" for Godhra riots.
12:35 PM condemns Chennai station blasts:
The Prime Minister has strongly condemned the blasts that took place in Chennai on Thursday morning.
In a statement, Dr Manmohan Singh said: "Such barbaric acts targeting innocent men, women and children only highlight the desperation and cowardice of those responsible."
"I offer sincere condolences to the family of the deceased and heartfelt sympathies to those injured. I am confident that the people of India will stand united against these attempts to disturb peace and harmony."
"I urge the people to maintain peace. No efforts should be spared to bring the perpetrators to justice."
11:30 Modi to address five rallies in AP today:
BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi will address five back-to-back Bharat Vijay rallies in Andhra Pradesh on Thursday.
Modi will first address a rally at BJ College Ground in Madanapalli then at AC Stadium in Nellore, at Bhashya School Ground in Guntur and Open Ground, Vil-Pedameera Bhimavaram.
Later in the evening today, the Gujarat chief minister will hold a rally at Indirapriyadarshini Municipal Stadium in Visakhapatnam.
According to reports, Modi will visit famous Tirupati mandir in the morning for darshan before starting his day-long campaign tour in the state.
25 Lok Sabha seats of Andhra Pradesh will go to poll on 7 May 2014 which is the next phase of polling involving over all 64 seats including 25 in Andhra, 15 in Uttar Pradesh, 7 in Bihar, West Bengal 6, Uttarakhand 5, Himachal Pradesh 4 and Jammu and Kashmir 2.
11:29 Saradha case: ED searches Piyali Sen's flat in Delhi:
The Enforcement Directorate has conducted searches at a flat allegedly belonging to Piyali Sen, wife of Saradha scam accused and kingpin Sudipta Sen, in south Delhi.
Official sources said a team of sleuths from the agency searched the flat located in Greater Kailash area yesterday in connection with their money laundering probe in the multi-crore chitfund scam.
The searches were conducted on the directions of the agency's zonal office in Kolkata which is probing the finances of the company which is alleged to have duped numerous investors of their hard-earned money.
Piyali and Sudipta's Subhojit had been arrested by the ED few weeks back in Kolkata after they were declared absconding in this case for a long time.
Sources said the flat was searched in order to obtain any vital documents or any other data with regard to the case and some seizures have been made.
The agency has sealed the flat after conducting searches, sources said.
10:16 3 Indians convicted for role in $15 mn fraud in US:
Three Indian medical professionals have been convicted by a federal jury for their participation in a nearly $15 million Medicare fraud scheme in the US.
Physical therapist Shahzad Mirza, 43, physical therapy assistant Jigar Patel, 30, and foreign medical school graduate without a license to practice medicine Srinivas Reddy, 38, were each found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud in connection with a scheme that ran from July 2008 through September 2011 at healthcare facilities in Detroit, said Acting Assistant Attorney General David A O'Neil of the Justice Departments Criminal Division.
In addition, Mirza and Patel were each found guilty of two counts of health care fraud in connection with the submission of false claims to federal insurance programme Medicare for home health services.
Reddy was also found guilty of three counts of health care fraud for submitting false claims for physician home visits.
Patel was found guilty of one count of money laundering in connection with his laundering of the proceeds of the fraud through his company MI Healthcare Staffing.
According to evidence presented at trial, beneficiaries pre-signed medical paperwork that was provided to Patel and other physical therapist assistants to fill in with false information purporting to show that the care was provided, when it was not.
09:56 One killed in firing by security forces in Srinagar:
NDTV reports: One protester was killed and two others injured in Srinagar today when security forces opened fire during clashes with protesters soon after polling ended in the Kashmir's capital city.
The clashes broke out once troops deployed on poll duty started withdrawing. The protesting youth pelted stones on security forces as part of anti-election protests in the area. Separatist groups had called for a poll boycott.
Police claim that troops opened fire after the youth a snatched rifle from security forces.
08:46 Police cordon off Chennai's key railway station following explosion:
A bomb blast at Chennai's Central railway station a while ago has injured eight persons, one of them critically, reports Vicky Nanjappa
A team from the Tamil Nadu bomb squad has been rushed to the spot and the entire area is being sanitised.
Police officials too who have rushed to the spot to investigate the explosion.
Further details soon
04:05 Facebook adds anonymous login, in move to build trust:
Facebook today moved to bolster the trust of its more than one billion users by providing new controls on how much information is shared on the world's leading social network.
In a major shift away from the notion long preached by Facebook co-founder and chief Mark Zuckerberg of having a single known identity online, people will be able to use applications anonymously at Facebook.
04:05 Al Feldstein, who headed Mad magazine, dies:
Al Feldstein, whose 28 years at the helm of Mad magazine transformed the satirical publication into a US pop culture institution, has died. He was 88. Feldstein died on Tuesday at his home in Montana, according to the Franzen-Davis Funeral Home and Crematory.
No cause of death was released. In 1956, publisher William M Gaines put Feldstein in charge of the magazine, which gleefully parodied politicians and mocked traditional morality.
03:43 Ukraine on 'combat alert' as rebels gain ground:
Ukraine's armed forces are on "full combat alert" against a possible Russian invasion, Kiev said today, as authorities admitted they were "helpless" to prevent pro-Kremlin insurgents tightening their grip on the increasingly chaotic east of the country.
Rebels stormed the regional police building and town hall in the eastern Ukrainian city of Gorlivka, local officials said, adding to more than a dozen locations already under their control.
03:42 Nigerians hold second day of protests over mass abductions:
Hundreds of protesters marched in the streets of the Nigerian capital on Wednesday, demanding that the government do more to find scores of schoolgirls abducted by armed militants more than two weeks ago.
Parents of the girls have turned up sick in hospitals, overcome with worry. Some have even gone into the bush to search for the girls themselves, armed only with bows and arrows in the heartland of an Islamist insurgency.
03:41 Thailand to hold fresh election on July 20:
Thailand's prime minister and the country's Election Commission yesterday agreed to hold an election in July, despite the opposition's reluctance to say whether it will take part after it had boycotted a poll in February that was later annulled.
Anti-government protesters have vowed to disrupt any election, as they did in February as part of a six-month campaign to oust Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, raising questions over whether the polls will go ahead smoothly.
02:27 Ukraine leader concedes loss of control in occupied eastern regions:
Acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov conceded Wednesday that police have lost control of the eastern towns and cities occupied by pro-Russia gunmen and ordered a full military alert to prevent the separatist disruptions from spreading.
At a meeting of regional government leaders, Turchynov blamed the erosion of government authority in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions on a Kremlin plot to destabilize Ukraine and seize more of its territory, as it did in annexing Crimea last month.
01:11 Gen Raheel Sharif calls Kashmir as 'jugular vein of Pakistan':
Terming Kashmir as the "jugular vein" of Pakistan, the country's Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif today said the issue should be resolved in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of Kashmiris and in line with UNSC resolutions for lasting peace in the region.
Addressing the main ceremony to mark the 'Youm-e-Shuhada' (Martyrs' Day) at GHQ Rawalpindi, Gen Sharif said Kashmir was an internationally recognised dispute.
01:10 Autopsy underway after botched US execution:
Officials were conducting an autopsy today on a US death row inmate who writhed, clenched his teeth and appeared to struggle before prison officials halted the execution in which Oklahoma state was using a new drug combination for the first time.
The man later died of a heart attack, and the botched execution was expected to intensify the debate over how states handle lethal injections.
01:10 Donetsk will not take part in presidential poll: rebel leader:
A leader of the self-declared Donetsk People's Republic said today the eastern Ukranian region will not take part in presidential polls as he travelled to Russia on an apparent mission to seek support.
"Presidential polls have been called by the illegitimate authorities and therefore they are illegitimate," Denis Pushilin, one of the leaders of the self-declared Donetsk Republic, told reporters in Moscow.
00:27 Egypt's judges rebuff criticism of death sentences:
Egypt's Justice Minister today rebuffed international criticism of a mass trial this week in which some 680 defendants were sentenced to death, saying the judiciary is not a tool of executive authority and that rulings can be overturned upon appeal.
"Egyptian judges are independent and there is no control over them," Nayer Osman told reporters. "No one in the state is directing the judge neither a minister, nor an official."
00:25 China poised to overtake US economy: World Bank ranking:
China is advancing rapidly to overtake the United States as the biggest economy in the world, new data shows, with the leader of the world economy since the 19th century possibly losing its top spot to the Asian giant from this year.
"The United States remained the world's largest economy (in 2011), but it was closely followed by China" once data was adjusted for comparison on a standard basis, the World Bank said today.
00:25 India asks EU to lift mango import ban :
Describing the European Union's ban on import of Indian mangoes as a "unilateral action", India has asked the 28-member bloc to lift the restrictions on the shipments of the fruit from the country.
In a letter to EU Trade Commissioner Karl De Gucht, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said that the recent ban on import of mangoes from India has caused considerable apprehensions and alarm in the country.