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August 10, 2018

23:40  Smoke from California wildfires spreading to New York City:  
The smoke from the California has reached New York City -- 3,000 miles away.

A map from the National Weather Service shows the smoke spreading across the country.

Thankfully for those on the East Coast, the smoke is more than a mile above the surface, so nobody can see or smell it. But it's rare that smoke makes its way across the country.

Beginning on July 27, the Mendocino Complex fires are currently burning in Mendocino, Lake and Colusa counties and have so far scorched over 300,000 acres of land and destroyed over 100 homes.

The Carr fire has killed seven people and destroyed at least 1,077 homes. Burning through almost 177,450 acres, it was 48% contained on Thursday.

So far California wineries have emerged unscathed from the fires with no reports of vineyards lost, though a number are testing their vines for smoke taint.
22:54  3 boys beaten up by mob for allegedly stealing goat:  
Three boys were beaten up by a mob for allegedly stealing a goat in West Bengal's Malda district today, police said.
The three, aged around 17, were trying to flee Raipur village near here after stealing a goat but local people caught hold of them, they said.

The mob thrashed them. Police rushed to the spot and admitted the trio to a hospital.

Their condition is stated to be "serious", police said.

The villagers alleged a number of goats were stolen from the village in the last few days.
22:35  Nagaland guv seeks Tharoor apology over headgear controversy:  
Nagaland Governor P B Acharya today sought apology from Congress MP Shashi Tharoor for his "outlandish" Naga headgear remark, saying it is

The governor also called for having inner line permit system to check illegal migrants in the state.

Interacting with senior journalists based in the state, Acharya said Tharoor's comment has hurt the sentiments of not only the people of Nagaland but the entire north eastern region.

"The entire region is, as the rest of the country, proud of its rich culture and traditions. Diversity should be respected," he said.

Such a statement is "extremely regrettable and unacceptable," Acharya said adding that Tharoor must apologise to the people of Nagaland in particular and the nation in general.

Tharoor, the Thiruvananthapuram MP, had courted controversy by claiming that Prime Minister Narendra Modi could wear all kinds of headgear, but not Muslim skull cap.

"I ask you why does our prime minister wear all sorts of outlandish headgear wherever he goes around the country or around the world? Why does he always refuse to wear a Muslim skull cap?" Tharoor had said while speaking at a seminar in the capital of Kerala on August 5.

-- PTI
22:29  Def ministry comes out with protocol for closure of Cantonment roads:  
After weeks of deliberations with the army, the defence ministry has devised a standardised protocol for closure of any road in cantonments across the country, asserting that emergent security needs of the force have been taken into consideration.
In May, the defence ministry decided to allow civilian access to the roads in 62 cantonments but security concerns were raised on the move. A country-wide signature campaign against the government decision was launched by wives of army officers.

Subsequently, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman held several rounds of discussions on the issue Chief of the Army Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, officials of the Defence Estates Organisation and officials of her ministry.

"The ministry in coordination with the army headquarters has devised a standardised protocol for closure of roads in Cantonments, in conformity with the provisions of the Cantonments Act, 2006," the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry had decided to give civilian access to the Cantonment roads after Sitharaman held a meeting with a group of parliamentarians and elected vice presidents of the 62 Cantonment Boards.

The ministry said the process of closure of roads may be initiated in case of roads which the local military authorities consider necessary but they will have to cite the reasons.

"Due process as laid down under Cantonment Act, 2006 and the orders issued by the Ministry dated May 28, 2018 will be followed," it said. 

-- PTI
22:12  Paswan, other Dalit leaders congratulate PM on SC/ST bill:  
Dalit leaders of the NDA led by LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan today congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the passage of a bill in Parliament to amend the atrocities act.
The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment bill which overturns Supreme Court order concerning certain safeguards against arrest under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe law, was passed by the Rajya Sabha by a voice vote, yesterday.

Paswan, accompanied by other Union ministers Thawarchand Gehlot, Arjun Ram Meghwal, Vijay Sampla and others, met Modi and congratulated and felicitated him for the passage of this bill, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) said in a statement.

The bill, which had got the nod of the Lok Sabha on August 6, rules out any provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of atrocities against SC/STs, notwithstanding any court order.

It provides that no preliminary inquiry will be required for registering a criminal case and an arrest under this law would not be subject to any approval. 

-- PTI
21:46  Former aide says Trump is a racist who uses the N-word:  
Donald Trump is a racist who has used the N-word repeatedly, Omarosa Manigault Newman, once the most prominent African American in the White House, claims in a searing memoir.

The future US president was caught on mic uttering the taboo racial slur multiple times during the making of his reality TV show The Apprentice and there is a tape to prove it, according to Manigault Newman, citing three unnamed sources.

Trump has been haunted from around the time of his election in 2016 by allegations that outtakes from the reality TV show exist in which he is heard saying the N-word and using other offensive language.

In her book, Unhinged, the former Apprentice participant insists that the reports are true, although she does not say she heard him use the word herself.
21:34  Mumbai's Central Railways services affected after hundreds of motormen went on strike:  
Suburban train services on the Central Railway's Main Line and Harbour Line were affected in Mumbai, as hundreds of motormen decided to go on strike on Friday.

According to Mid-Day, 558 motormen of the Central Railway Mazdoor Sangh had earlier submitted a letter to the authorities, saying that they would not work beyond their scheduled hours from 10 August.

"There is a vacancy of 229 motormen on the Central Railway and the motormen are working under immense stress. It would be unfair to make them work extra and hence, a decision has been taken that the motormen will not put in extra hours, since it may compromise safety," Amit Bhatnagar, CRMS vice-president, was quoted as saying in the report.

Though the strike was called off later in the day after the protesting motormen held a meeting with the railway authorities, several services were cancelled while others were delayed.
21:03  Rahul questions PM Modi's silence on rape incidents:  
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Friday questioned as to why Prime Minister Narendra Modi continued to remain silent over incidents of alleged rapes in the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Gandhi, who was addressing a rally after inaugurating a new party office, said "The prime minister does not utter a word when girls are raped in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Now, even women across the country have begun to wonder why the Prime Minister is not speaking on the issue".

Touching upon the issue of women's safety especially in the BJP-ruled states, the Gandhi scion expressed concern over alarming rise in atrocities against them.

Continuing his attack on the ruling central government, Gandhi termed the Rafale deal as the country's "biggest ever" scam and accused the Prime Minister of being involved in the same.

"I asked the Defence Minister in Parliament why she lied to the people about the fighter jet deal? But my question was not answered. When I asked the Prime Minister, he was not able to look into my eyes. He started looking here and there because even "chowkidar" was involved in this scam," he said.

Gandhi further alleged that the price of the deal signed during the United Progressive Alliance tenure suddenly increased by many times after the National Democratic Alliance came to power.

He even claimed that contract of the fighter jet was given to a private company, which had never made any aeroplane in the past, and was even in a debt of Rs 45,000 crore. 

-- ANI
20:45  Trump cracks down on Pakistan, cuts military training programme:  
The United States administration has quietly started cutting scores of Pakistani officers from coveted training and educational programmes that have been a hallmark of bilateral military relations for more than a decade, according to a Reuters report.

The move, which has not been previously reported, is one of the first known impacts from US President Donald Trumps decision early this year to suspend US security assistance to Pakistan to compel it to crack down on Islamic militants.

The Pentagon and the Pakistani military did not comment directly on the decision or the internal deliberations, but officials from both countries privately criticised the move, as per the report.

US officials were quoted as saying, they were worried that the decision could undermine a key trust-building measure. Pakistani officials warned it could push their military to further look to China or Russia for leadership training.
Dan Feldman, a former US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, called the move very short-sighted and myopic.

This will have lasting negative impacts limiting the bilateral relationship well into the future, Feldman said.
20:22  Air India delays salaries for fifth month in a row:  
Debt-ridden Air India has again failed to disburse the salaries of their employees on time for the fifth consecutive month. The people working for the national carrier are yet to receive their payment for the month of July.

Angry over the organisation for defaulting on salary, General Secretary of Indian Commercial Pilots' Association captain Deepankar Gupta penned a letter to the Chairman and Managing Director of Air India and said, "It is disheartening to note that the salary has yet again been delayed for the fifth consecutive month. Despite confirmation and assurance from you, the management has failed to even intimate the employees regarding the delay of salary and flying allowance."

He also added that the members are being 'hounded' by financial institutions constantly because of the delay in salary payment.

-- ANI
19:46  1 lakh people to form human chain on eve of Independence Day:  Nearly one lakh people would form a 650 km-long human chain in Rajasthan covering Sriganganagar, Bikaner, Jaisalmer and Barmer districts. 

 Jaisalmer collector Om Prakash Kasera said the participants will give the message of patriotism and pride for the nation in the event 'Shahadat ko Salaam' on August 14. 

He said Madasar, Chinnu, Hamira, Fatehgarh and other areas of the district would be covered.

-- PTI
19:33  Pull out your military choppers, personnel, Maldives tells India:  
The Maldives wants India to withdraw military helicopters and personnel posted there following the expiry of an agreement in June, its envoy said, the latest snub to Delhi by President Abdulla Yameen's China-backed government.

India and China are going head to head in the Maldives, the Indian Ocean island chain where Beijing is building roads, bridges and a bigger airport, upstaging India which has been the country's prime provider of military and civilian aid for decades.

India has opposed Yameen's crackdown on political rivals and the imposition of an emergency this year and some of the president's rivals have called on Delhi for military intervention, creating worries in the Maldivian government.

The tensions are impacting aid programmes such as security assistance that Delhi has given to smaller countries in the region to help them protect exclusive economic zones, carry out surveys and combat piracy.

The Maldives' ambassador in India, Ahmed Mohamed, said that two military helicopters provided by India were mainly used for medical evacuations but were no longer required as the islands had built up enough resources of its own.

"They were very useful in the past but with the development of adequate infrastructure, facilities and resources we are now in a position to handle medical evacuations on our own," he said.
19:18  Canada shooting: 2 police officers among 4 dead in Fredericton:  
Four people -- including two local police officers -- have been killed in a shooting in the eastern Canadian city of Fredericton.

While the circumstances of the shooting remain unclear, police said on Friday morning that they had taken one suspect into custody and noted that the investigation is ongoing.

The mass shooting has rocked the small city of 58,000 people, where residents were told by police on Friday morning to avoid the area and stay in their homes.

Police also pleaded with social media users to refrain from detailing the position or activities of police or first responders online.

Gun laws in Canada are more strict than in the United States but a proliferation of weapons has led to an increase in gun crimes in recent years.
18:49  Monsoon session: Most productive for Lok Sabha since 2000:  
The Monsoon session of Parliament, which ended today, was the "most productive" for Lok Sabha since 2000, a think tank has said.
According to the data compiled by PRS Legislative Research, 20 bills were introduced during the session and 12 were passed.

The Lok Sabha, it said, worked for 110 per cent of the scheduled hours and the Rajya Sabha for 66 per cent.

The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha spent 50 per cent and 48 per cent of their time on legislative business respectively, the data said.

This, the PRS Legislative Research data said, is the highest by both Houses in the 16th Lok Sabha and second highest since 2004.

Fewer bills (26 per cent) were referred to parliamentary committees, as compared to the 15th Lok Sabha (71 per cent) and the 14th Lok Sabha (60 per cent).

This Monsoon session also had one of the most productive Question Hours of the 16th Lok Sabha.

The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha functioned for 84 per cent and 68 per cent of their scheduled Question Hour time respectively, the data said.

-- PTI
18:18  Rajnath assures Kerala CM all help to deal with floods; to visit Sunday:  
The Centre today assured the Kerala government of all possible help in rescue and relief operations in the wake of rains and floods, which so far have claimed 26 lives in the state.

The assurance was given to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who will also undertake an aerial survey of the state's flood affected areas on Sunday.

"Spoke to Kerala CM Shri Pinarayi Vijayan and discussed the prevailing flood situation in the state. I have assured all possible assistance from the Centre to the state government. The relief and rescue ops are going on. MHA is closely monitoring the flood situation," Singh tweeted.

The home minister will undertake a survey of the flood affected areas in Kerala on Sunday, a home ministry spokesperson said.

Fourteen National Disaster Response Force teams are being deployed in the rain-battered state for rescue operations, a spokesman of the force said. Each team has about 45 personnel. 

-- PTI
18:04  Army rescues tourists stranded at Munnar resort :  The army has rescued around 70 tourists stranded in a resort in Munnar.

Access to the resort was cut off due to a landslide. Of the 70 tourists, 20 are believed to be foreigners.

The army, which has been deployed in the flood-hit areas in Kerala, will be evacuating the tourists using helicopters.  The Centre today assured the Kerala government of all possible help in rescue and relief operations in the wake of rains and floods, which so far have claimed 26 lives in the state. The assurance was given by Home Minister Rajnath Singh to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan during a telephonic conversation. "Spoke to Kerala CM Shri Pinarayi Vijayan and discussed the prevailing flood situation in the state. I have assured all possible assistance from the Centre to the state government. The relief and rescue ops are going on. MHA is closely monitoring the flood situation," Singh tweeted.
17:38  Police in eastern Canadian city of Fredericton say 4 dead in shooting; circumstances unclear, reports AP
17:38  Mumbai: 211 students of a BMC school No 4 in Shivaji Nagar have been admitted to Rajawadi Hospital and 36 children have been admitted to Shatabdi Hospital after consuming some tablets distributed in the school. One girl student died earlier today.
17:23  Air India delays salaries for fifth month in a row :   Debt-ridden Air India has again failed to disburse the salaries of their employees on time for the fifth consecutive month. The people working for the national carrier are yet to receive their payment for the month of July.

Angry over the organisation for defaulting on salary, General Secretary of Indian Commercial Pilots' Association captain Deepankar Gupta penned a letter to the Chairman and Managing Director of Air India and said, "It is disheartening to note that the salary has yet again been delayed for the fifth consecutive month.

Despite confirmation and assurance from you, the management has failed to even intimate the employees regarding the delay of salary and flying allowance.

He also added that the members are being 'hounded' by financial institutions constantly because of the delay in salary payment.

"To add fuel to the fire, in these uncertain times, the very high handed knee-jerk, impulsive and reactionary behaviour of the top management has deeply anguished our members. We feel sorry that the company we give our blood and sweat for, considers us a liability and looks for means to humiliate our abilities at all instances," the letter read. -- ANI
17:04  Imran Khan to be sworn-in on August 18: PTI Senator:  
Amid speculations about Pakistan's Prime Minister-in-waiting Imran Khan's swearing-in dates, the Pakistani media ran a report quoting Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Senator Faisal Javed saying that the former would take oath on August 18.

It was being speculated that Khan would take the oath prior to Pakistan's Independence Day celebrations on August 14. However, Pakistani media on Friday quoted Javed saying that the swearing-in will take place on August 18. 

Geo TV in its report mentioned that Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain has postponed his foreign tours for the time being to remain present in the country to administer the oath of the new Prime Minister of Pakistan.

The Pakistani media has been mentioning various dates for Khan's swearing-in. Several media reports claimed that Khan's PTI party had announced that he would take the oath before August 14.

Pakistan went to polls on July 25 and the PTI had emerged as the single largest party with 116 seats after the Election Commission of Pakistan released the complete results for 270 of 272 National Assembly constituencies.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, which won 64 seats came second, while the Pakistan People's Party bagged 43 seats and finished third.

-- ANI
17:02  India's high commissioner to Pakistan meets Imran Khan ahead of his swearing-in on August 18. The meeting lasted for 40 minutes.
16:48  Imran Khan apologies to election commission for voting in open:  
Pakistan's Prime Minister-in-waiting Imran Khan today tendered an unconditional written apology to the election commission for violating the secrecy of the ballot, removing the last possible hurdle in his swearing-in next week.

The Election Commission of Pakistan, in a 3-1 vote, accepted the apology submitted by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairperson.

It also ordered the issuance of notification for his victory in Islamabad's NA-53 constituency where he stamped the ballot paper publicly instead of going behind the voting screen.

Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza disagreed with the ECP's Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa members, who were in favour of accepting the apology.

Khan's counsel Babar Awan submitted the unconditional written apology before the commission on behalf of the PTI chief during the hearing held by a four-member bench headed by Raza as the ECP had sought a signed apology from Khan for violating the electoral code of conduct.

In his written reply, Khan mentioned that he values the ECP as well as the electoral rules. He said that on July 25, he entered an overcrowded polling station, without any companions, to cast his vote, Dawn news reported.

"I was told to put my ballot on a table and stamp it when I asked the staffers present there about where to mark the ballot," the report quoted Khan as telling the ECP.

-- PTI
16:36  LS adjourns sine die:  
The Lok Sabha was adjourned sine die today, as the Monsoon Session ended after passing 21 laws, including one to amend the SC/ST Act and another relating to the Fugitive Economic Offenders.

Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said the session has been the "more productive and safisfactory" compared to the previous Budget Session and last year's monsoon session.

The session, which began on July 18, also witnessed a discussion on a no-confidence motion against the Government brought by Opposition. The motion was defeated later.

The House also greeted the people in advance on the occasion of the Independence Day.

-- PTI
16:06  Dawood's property in Mumbai sold for Rs 3.51 cr:  
A property belonging to fugitive underworld don Dawood Ibrahim in Mumbai has been bought for Rs 3.51 crore by a city-based trust in an auction.
The Saifee Burhani Upliftment Trust has bought the property, situated at Bhendi Bazar in South Mumbai for Rs 3.51 crore in the auction held yesterday, a spokesperson of the trust said today.
The auction of the property, "Masulla", a four-storey building, was conducted by the Union Finance Ministry under the Smugglers and Foreign Exchange Manipulators (Forfeiture of Property) Act (SAFEMA).
There were two bidders for the property, for which the reserve price was Rs 79.43 lakh. Apart from the SBUT, a Delhi-based lawyer, Bhupendra Bharadwaj, was the other bidder.
"I had bid Rs 1,91,43,000 and had won the public auction. I did not participate in the e-bidding, where the SBUT made a higher bid," Bharadwaj told PTI.
A three-stage process was involved in the auction of the property - public auction, e-bidding and opening of sealed tenders.
According to a SBUT source, the trust put a bid of Rs 3.43 crore at the e-tendering stage, but in the final process, it sealed the deal for Rs 3.51 crore.
Asked about the auction, the SBUT spokesperson said, "The 'Masulla' building has been declared unfit for living and poses serious risk to the lives of tenants and pedestrians.
"Therefore, we participated in the auction and acquired the building to redevelop it as a part of our ongoing Bhendi Bazaar redevelopment project."
The project envisages redevelopment of approximately 250 existing buildings and 1,250 shops in the congested but upscale Bhendi Bazar area.
In November last, the SBUT had bought three properties for Rs11.58 crore in an auction carried out by the Finance Ministry under SAFEMA.
The properties were Shabnam Guest House, six flats in "Damarwala" building and a restaurant, Raunaq Afroz, all located in Bhendi Bzaar and belonging to Dawood Ibrahim and his family.
Ibrahim, designated by US authorities as a global terrorist, is a key accused in the 1993 serial bomb blasts in Mumbai. -- PTI  
15:46  Centre says release of Rajiv Gandhi assassination convicts will have global ramifications:   The Centre today told the Supreme Court it does not concur with the Tamil Nadu government's proposal to release seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, saying remission of their sentence will set a "dangerous precedent" and have "international ramifications".

A bench of justices Ranjan Gogoi, Navin Sinha and K M Joseph took the document, filed by the Ministry of Home Affairs, on record and adjourned the matter.

On January 23, the apex court had asked the Centre to take a decision within three months on a 2016 letter by the Tamil Nadu government seeking its concurrence on releasing the seven convicts.

The letter, written on March 2, 2016, had said the state government has already decided to release the seven convicts, but it is necessary to seek the Centre's concurrence as per an apex court order of 2015.

"The central government, in pursuance of section 435 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, does not concur to the proposal of the government of Tamil Nadu contained in its communication letter dated March 2, 2016 for grant of further remission of sentence to these seven convicts," said the reply filed by MHA Joint Secretary V B Dubey. -- PTI
15:40  Govt ad spend could feed 4.6 crore children mid-day meals for a year :  Mid-day meals for 4.6 crore children for a year.

One day's wages for 200 million workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS).

About 6 million new latrines.

And at least 10 more Mars missions.  

These were some of the things that could have been financed with the money that the current National Democratic Alliance government spent on publicity in the four years it has governed India, reports India Spend.  

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government spent Rs 4,880 crore on advertising its flagship schemes in the 52 months between April 2014 and July 2018, according to the information made available to the Rajya Sabha (Parliament's upper house) by Rajyavardhan Rathore, minister of state (Independent Charge) for information and broadcasting. 
15:12  Kanwariya violence: SC orders action against guilty:  After videos showing vehicles being vandalised by Kanwariyas across northern states went viral on social media, the Supreme Court on Friday directed the police to take strict action against those responsible for erupting violence and breaching laws.

A three-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, and comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, reiterated an earlier verdict, which stated that videography of every procession should have to be made.

The top court, while citing the 2009 judgement, also said that the organisers were responsible for any violence reported during the procession.
14:59  I can make a better Rafale, give me the contract: Cong MP:  "I can make a better Rafale (fighter aircraft), please give me the contract." This caustic remark attacking the BJP-led government was made in the Lok Sabha by Congress MP Sunil Jakhar today, before his party members staged a walkout after a noisy protest demanding the setting up of a joint parliamentary committee to probe an alleged scam in the Rafale fighter jet deal. Jakhar also waived a paper replica of the fighter aircraft during the Zero Hour as Congress members were in the Well raising slogans on the issue. Leader of the Congress in the House Mallikarjuna Kharge also alleged that the deal was a scam "worth thousands of crore."

"Madam, I want permission to present the replica of the Rafale on the table of the House. Please permit that. I can make a better Rafale than (an industrialist) who has no experience in manufacturing one," Jakhar said.

"I have been practising it since last night," the Congress MP added, flaunting the paper replica of aircraft. Congress members had earlier trooped into the Well raising slogans alleging corruption in the Rafale jet deal. They were holding placards which read 'Modi's Rafale Gate' and set up 'JPC set up karo'. Kharge also said that there was no quorum which was against the values of the House. "We are walking out," he said. He then led the Congress members to stage a walkout. PTI
14:38  Chinese Hui Muslim protest forces authorities to halt plan to demolish Weizhou Grand Mosque:  Local authorities have been pushed to delay plans to demolish a new mosque in northwest China after a rare protest by hundreds of Muslims from the ethnic Hui group on Thursday. Read more
14:26  70 stranded at Munnar resort, army deployed:   Around 70 people are stranded in a resort in Munnar after the roads to the resort were blocked due to a landslide. Of the 70 tourists, 20 are believed to be foreigners.

The army, which has been deployed in the flood-hit areas in Kerala, will be evacuating the tourists using helicopters. 

The Centre today assured the Kerala government of all possible help in rescue and relief operations in the wake of rains and floods, which so far have claimed 26 lives in the state. The assurance was given by Home Minister Rajnath Singh to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan during a telephonic conversation.

"Spoke to Kerala CM Shri Pinarayi Vijayan and discussed the prevailing flood situation in the state. I have assured all possible assistance from the Centre to the state government. The relief and rescue ops are going on. MHA is closely monitoring the flood situation," Singh tweeted.

The South-West monsoon has been vigorous over Kerala, resulting in heavy rains in various parts of the state for the last two days. So far, 26 people have been killed, including 11 due to landslides in high-range Idukki yesterday, as rain continued to pound the southern state.

As heavy rains continued to lash various parts of Kerala, two more shutters of the Cheruthoni Dam, part of the Idukki reservoir, were opened today as the water level touched 2,401 feet. For the first time in the last 26 years, a shutter of the Cheruthoni dam was opened yesterday and two more were opened at 7 am.

The full reservoir level is 2,403 feet and storage capacity is 69,268 Mcft and storage percentage is 97.61 per cent. With water levels rising in various dams and reaching almost maximum capacity, shutters of at least 22 reservoirs in the state have been opened to drain out excess water.
-- PTI

Image: The swollen waters of the Periyar river in Kerala
14:05  Ekta Kapoor, Ayesha Shroff spar over nepotism:  Producer Ekta Kapoor is the latest celebrity to join the nepotism debate, saying not only star kids but outsiders should also be a given a chance in the industry.

Ekta, who is launching two new actors --Avinash Tiwary and Tripti Dimri-- in her upcoming production "Laila Majnu", in the promotional events of the film has spoken about how she faced challenges to market her film with new faces. In an Instagram post, Ekta once again talked about hiring "unknown talents who have no film legacy or star fathers or godfathers." Ayesha, whose son Tiger made his Bollywood with "Heropanti" in 2014, shot back at Ekta, commenting, "It's not a sin to have a star father my dear! Hard work and talent is the same no matter what caste, creed or lineage!" Ekta, who is the daughter of veteran actor Jeetendra, argued that as a producer it is harder to make a film featuring outsiders. "Not at all, ma'am! I have one, but you have to admit for a producer to sell market and turn around a film with newcomers is far tougher with no lineage attached ! This is no slight to any star kid least of all Tiger who is FANTASTIC! But a request to give other kids a chance too."

At the trailer launch of "Laila Majnu" Ekta was asked about her take on nepotism, which started with Kangana Ranaut calling out Karan Johar for promoting star kids. "I don't do it. I don't agree that it is only film industry's problem because there is a whole world around it," Ekta had said.
13:39  Sagarika Ghose reacts to the expunging of the PM's remarks: When the permission to be abusive comes from the very top, social media trolls follow the leader..
13:38  PM's remark about BK Hariprasad expunged from Rajya Sabha records:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi's comments about BK Hariprasad, the Congress MP who was a candidate in the August 9 Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson election, have been expunged from the records. PM Modi's comments were delivered after Hariprasad lost the election to the NDA's Harivansh Narayan Singh.

This is perhaps the first time that a part of a prime minister's statement in Parliament has been removed from the records.

Speaking in the Rajya Sabha after Harivansh comfortably won the election to the Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson's post, PM Modi made a remark that involved a wordplay on BK Hariprasad's name, his initials.

The Congress leader was miffed by PM Modi's jibe. "The Prime Minister belittled the dignity of the chair and brought down the dignity of the House," Hariprasad said.

The Rajya Sabha Secretariat has confirmed that the part of the prime minister's speech that involved a wordplay on BK Hariprasad's name has been expunged from the House's records.
13:16  DMK emergency meet on August 14:  Emergency executive meeting of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) has been called on August 14 at the party office in Chennai.
13:01  Had no information on Vaibhav Raut's arrest: Lawyer :  The lawyer of Vaibhav Raut, who was arrested by the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad earlier today for allegedly storing suspicious material at his residence, claimed that his client was not informed about the arrest.

Speaking to ANI, Raut's lawyer, Sanjiv Punalekar, claimed that the former was being targeted for actively opposing issues like cow slaughter and Love Jihad.

"Anti-Terrorism Squad has not intimated us about the arrest of Vaibhav Raut. Wonder what kind of law is being followed in this country and in Maharashtra. We will take all legal steps necessary," he noted.

Punalekar further claimed that the explosives may have been planted in Raut's house by the ATS itself.

"Yes, he (Raut) was a Hindutva activist and had joined us in Hindu Adhiveshan at Goa. He was quite active against cow slaughter, Love Jihad and illegal loudspeakers at Mosques; that is why he was asked to leave Palghar. We suspect Malegaon kind of foul play where explosives were planted by ATS," he added.

Meanwhile, Hindu Janajagruti Samiti issued a press note and termed the arrest of Raut as "Malegaon Part 2".

"He was active in several Hindutva Outfits programmes in the past but since few months he was not active in any programme of Hindutva outfits. It seems that ATS has worked on the same pattern like it had worked in Malegaon case where it had arrested several Sanatan Sanstha Sadhak illegally," state coordinator of Hindu Adhiveshan Sunil Ghanwat said in the release.

Raut, who was a member of the Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, was detained earlier in the day after his residence in Mumbai's Nala Sopara area was raided by a team of ATS officials. -- ANI
12:38  More agony for Talwars: SC admits CBI plea against acquittal:   The Supreme Court today agreed to hear the CBI's appeal challenging the acquittal of dentist couple Rajesh and Nupur Talwar in the 2008 twin murder case of their daughter Aarushi and domestic help Hemraj. A bench headed by Justices Ranjan Gogoi said the CBI's appeal would be heard along with Hemraj's wife's pending petition, which has also challenged the acquittal of the Talwars by the Allahabad High Court on October 12 last year.

"Leave granted," the bench, also comprising Justices Navin Sinha and K M Joseph, said. Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh, representing the CBI, referred to the plea filed by Hemraj's wife's. The bench said CBI's appeal would be tagged with it.

Fourteen-year-old Aarushi was found dead inside her room in the Talwars' Noida residence with her throat slit in May 2008. The needle of suspicion had initially moved towards 45-year-old Hemraj, who had gone missing, but his body was recovered from the terrace of the house two days later.

A CBI court at Ghaziabad sentenced the Talwars to life imprisonment on November 26, 2013 in connection with the case. The high court had freed them of the charges on the ground that they could not be held guilty on the basis of the evidence on record. -- PTI

Image: Dentist couple Nupur and Rajesh Talwar walk out of Dasna Jail in October 2017, after four years of prison life.
12:14  Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra to be flag bearer for the Indian contingent at Asian Games 2018.
12:10  SC directs police to act against rampaging Kanwariyas :  The Supreme Court today directed the police to act against those Kanwariyas who indulge in vandalism and take the law in their hands.

The Delhi Police yesterday made the first arrest in the case where the Kanwariyas went on a rampage and damaged a Hyundai i10 car near Moti Nagar. A 26-year-old man was arrested in the matter.

The incident took place on Tuesday on a stretch of busy road near Moti Nagar metro station causing a traffic snarl and forcing some of the commuters to take a detour.

The accused, Rahul Billa, was identified through a CCTV footage and was later arrested. Billa is a resident of Uttam Nagar and has been previously involved in thefts, the police said.

A grey car being driven by a woman, who was with a male friend, allegedly hit a Kanwariya.
11:55  ATS seizes explosives from Nallasopara in Maha, 1 held:  The Anti-Terrorism Squad of Maharashtra police has seized explosives from the house of a suspected member of a right-wing Hindu organisation at Nallasopara in Palghar district of the state, and arrested him, a police official said today. The ATS sleuths raided the residence and shop of the accused at Bhandar Aali in Sopara village of Nallasopara West late last night and seized the explosives, the official said.

The accused was arrested and it was being confirmed whether the explosives include RDX, the official said. The name of the accused and that of the organisation was not revealed by the police.

The ATS returned to the Mumbai Unit along with the accused, and he will be interrogated, police said, adding he is likely to be produced in a court here this afternoon. --  PTI
11:47  Dalai Lama apologises for calling Nehru self-centred:   Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama has apologised for his controversial statement that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had a "self-centred attitude" to become India's first prime minister even though Mahatma Gandhi was in favour of Muhammad Ali Jinnah taking the top post at that time.

In view of the flak that the Dalai Lama has received, the spiritual head of the Tibetan community in exile, thought it fit to apologise for his comments.

"My statement has created controversy, if I said something wrong I apologise," he said.

Dalai Lama had claimed India's partition would not have happened if Mahatma Gandhi's wish of Jinnah becoming the prime minister had materialised.

The 83-year-old monk was addressing an event at the Goa Institute of Management in Goa's Sankhalim town, located about 40 km from Panaji, on Wednesday.

Responding to a student's question on taking right decisions, he said, "I feel democratic systems are very good than the feudal system, which gives power of making decisions in the hands of a few people, which is more dangerous."

"Now look at India. I think Mahatma Gandhiji was very much willing to give the prime ministership to Jinnah. But Pandit Nehru refused," he said.

"I think it was a little bit self-centred attitude of Pandit Nehru that he should be the prime minister... Mahatma Gandhiji's thinking, if it had materialised, then India, Pakistan would have been united," he said.

"So Pandit Nehru, I know very well, (was) very experienced person, very wise but sometimes mistake also happens," he said.
11:25  Naxals torch vehicles at road construction site in Chhattisgarh:  Naxals on late Thursday night set fire to several vehicles engaged in road construction work in Chhattisgarh's Dantewada district. The incident took place around 2:30 am near Bacheli town where the road construction work was going on.

A group of more than 40 armed Naxals stormed the construction site and set aflame as many as five trucks.The ultras also snatched the mobile phones of the lorry drivers, before vandalizing the vehicles.
11:12  Congress stand on Triple Talaq clear: Sonia :  On the last day of the Monsoon Session of Parliament today, the much-debated Triple Talaq Bill will be tabled in Rajya Sabha.

UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi joined her party leaders and leaders from other parties like the CPI-M, RJD and AAP outside Parliament House demanding a JPC on the Rafale deal.

Breaking her silence on the Triple Talaq Deal, Sonia said, "Our party's position is absolutely clear on this, I will not say anything on this further."

The Congress has opposed the criminality aspect in the BIll.

Yesterday, the Union Cabinet approved an amendment to the bill and proposed three changes in the Muslim Women Protection of Rights on Marriage Bill, 2017.

First, only the victim, a blood relation or relation by marriage are allowed to lodge an FIR in the case.

Second, the case can be dropped if husband and wife agree to settle their differences and third, a magistrate can grant bail to men found guilty of giving instant triple talaq to their wives. However, the offence still remains non-bailable.

If the amended bill is passed in the upper house, it will have to go back to Lok Sabha for approval of the amendments.

On December 29, the Lok Sabha passed the bill which seeks to make instant triple talaq a criminal offence, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government tabled it in the lower house.

The Bill proposes a three-year jail term for a Muslim man who divorces his wife in any form of spoken, written or by electronic means such as email, SMS, and WhatsApp.
10:51  Number of excluded people will change in NRC in Assam: Sarma:  Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has said the number of people excluded from the draft National Register of Citizens in the state will "drastically" change at the end of the process of claims and objections.

The final draft of the NRC in the state is not a major issue as it is not the final one, he told reporters yesterday. "It is not proper to come to a conclusion regarding the NRC in Assam. It is just a draft. In our NRC, names of many people are not there. This number will drastically change after claims and objections are taken into consideration," said Sarma, who is also the convenor of the North-East Democratic Alliance, formed by the BJP along with regional political parties.

Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, who was present during the interaction with reporters, said he was unaware of any demand for updating NRC in the state. The NRC revision has rocked Assam since the publication of its final draft on July 30. Names of over 40 lakh people have been excluded from the draft of the NRC. -- PTI
10:36  Rain fury continues in Kerala, 2 more shutters of Idukki reservoir opened:  
As heavy rains continued to lash various parts of Kerala, two more shutters of the Cheruthoni Dam, part of the Idukki Reservoir, were opened today as the water level touched 2,401 feet.
For the first time in the last 26 years, a shutter of the Cheruthoni Dam was opened yesterday and two more were opened at 7 am.
The full reservoir level is 2,403 feet and storage capacity is 69,268 Mcft and storage percentage is 97.61 per cent.
The South-west monsoon has been vigorous over Kerala resulting in heavy rains in various parts of the state since the past two days.
So far 26 people have been killed, including 11 in high range Idukki in landslips yesterday as rain continued to pound the southern state.
Idukki has received 129.80 mm rainfall.
With water levels rising in various dams and reaching almost maximum capacity, shutters of at least 22 reservoirs in the state have been opened to drain out excess water.
According to state disaster control room sources, 241 relief camps have been opened and 15,695 people have been shifted from low-lying areas.
Over 5,500 people from Wayanad district, where a red alert had been sounded yesterday, have been shifted to relief camps, the sources said this morning.
In Ernakulam, 3,456 people have been shifted to camps following floods after 4 shutters of the Idamalayar dam were opened yesterday.
According to Indian Meteorological Department bulletin at 8 am, thunderstorms accompanied by gusty winds are likely to affect Idukki, Pathanamthitta and Wayanad districts. -- PTI
10:09  Woman gang raped in Andhra Pradesh's Guntur:  
A 28-year-old woman was allegedly raped by four men in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, the police said today.
The woman, who lives in the S R Nagar area in Hyderabad, told the police that the incident took place in March, but she did not approach the police then, they said.
As her pictures appeared online recently she lodged a formal complaint with the police, DCP (West Zone) A R Srinivas said.
In her complaint she said one of the accused, Raj Kiran, known to the her, took her to a room in Guntur on the pretext of a job and offered her drinks laced with sedatives following which she fell unconscious and when she gained consciousness she found that she had been raped by the four men, the DCP said.
A case of gang rape has been registered and as the alleged offence took place in Guntur, the case will be transferred to the Guntur police, Srinivas said, adding that as per preliminary investigation there are also allegations of a financial dispute between the woman and Kiran and that angle is also being probed. -- PTI  
09:14  Atif Aslam faces backlash for singing Indian song at Pak I-Day parade:  
Pakistani vocalist Atif Aslam has been trolled on social media and also criticised by the country's mainstream media, for singing an Indian song at a Pakistan Independence Day function in New York earlier this month.
Atif, who has lent his voice to many Bollywood songs, sang one of his Indian tracks 'Tera Hone Laga Hoon' from the 2009 film "Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani", starring Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif.
This prompted many of his fans back home to question his patriotism and also hit out at him.
A twitter user who uses the handle @sakhwa wrote, "Zero respect for Atif Aslam!"
Another user with @Pakistani09 handle tweeted calling for boycott of the singer.

"Boycott Atif Aslam @itsaadee Ap Ne Dil Tor diya #boycottAtifAslam #AtifAslam."
However, many like vocalist Shafqat Amanat Ali, who has also lent his voice to some Indian songs, defended Atif.
"I stand in support of Atif Aslam for singing his songs at the parade. Music is not Indian or Pakistani. It's just music. Singers are synonymous with their songs which are loved equally by fans from every country," Amanat said.
Film critic, Omair Alavi said people need to remember that Bollywood films and dramas are shown openly in Pakistan in cinemas and on television channels as art, film or music has no boundaries.
"Don't Pakistanis go to watch Indian films? Are not Indian dramas a regular on our channels," he questioned. -- PTI 
09:12  Huge quantity of explosives found in Maharashtra's Palghar:  
A huge quantity of explosives, suspected to be RDX, was found at Nallasopara in Palghar district of Maharashtra, police said.
The explosives were found at Bhandar aali in Nallasopara west, they added.
After getting information about the explosives, officials of the Maharashtra ATS and senior officials of Palghar Police rushed to the spot and an investigation was on, an official said.
"A forensics team have been called and we are analysing the substance to determine if it is RDX," he added. -- PTI
09:07  Triple talaq bill to be tabled in Rajya Sabha today:  
The Centre will make a fresh attempt in Rajya Sabha today to clear the draft law making instant triple talaq a criminal offence. 

TOday is the last day of the Monsoon Session of Parliament and the government could introduce amendments in Rajya Sabha. 

If the bill is cleared by the upper house, it will have to go back to Lok Sabha for approval of the amendments.

The move comes a day after the Union Cabinet made some amendments to the draft bill, including adding a bail provision to it. 

While the proposed law will remain "non-bailable", the accused can approach a magistrate even before trial to seek bail.

Under a non-bailable law, bail cannot be granted by police at the police station itself.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said a provision has been added to allow the magistrate to grant bail "after hearing the wife".
08:33  Trump's in-laws become US citizens using 'chain migration', which he denounces:  
President Donald Trump's Slovenian in-laws became United States citizens through "chain migration", a programme he has repeatedly denounced, in which adult American citizens can obtain citizenship for their relatives.
First Lady Melania Trump's parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs, became US citizens at a private ceremony here. She had sponsored her parents for their green cards, their lawyer Michael Wildes said in a report in The New York Times. 
"Once they had the green card, they then applied for citizenship when they were eligible," he said.
When asked if the Knavses had obtained citizenship through "chain migration", Wildes, said, "I suppose." "It's a dirty a dirtier word," he said, but added that "it stands for a bedrock of our immigration process when it comes to family reunification."
Trump has vehemently opposed the "chain migration" system, more commonly known as family-based immigration, that lets adult American citizens obtain citizenship for their relatives. 
In November, he had tweeted, "CHAIN MIGRATION must end now! Some people come in, and they bring their whole family with them, who can be truly evil. NOT ACCEPTABLE! 
Trump also often speaks out against the family-based immigration system at his rallies, saying it a pathway for terrorists to enter the country, the NYT report added.
According to the report, the first lady's communications director Stephanie Grisham said since the Knavses are not part of the administration, she is not commenting on them.
Standing alongside the Knavses, their lawyer said the couple has "travailed a wonderful journey, like most have, millions have in getting citizenship and waiting the requisite period of time." 
He said their application, the process, the interview was no different than anybody's else's. 
"These doors that are in America remain hinged open to beautiful people as they have today. They would appreciate their privacy and we just thank everybody for their attention to this very important dialogue that we are having on immigration. This is an example of it going right," he said.  
Viktor, 74, is two years older than President Trump. 

Amalija is 73. 

The first lady, born Melanija, changed her name to Melania Knauss when she started modelling.

According to news reports, Melania came to the US in 2001 on a so-called Einstein visa for "individuals of extraordinary ability" as a model. 

She became a United States citizen in 2006. 

The Knavses came and went from the ceremony at a Manhattan federal building flanked by Homeland Security police. 

Melania Trump was not present for the ceremony. 

She was in Bedminster, New Jersey, at the Trump National Golf Club, where Trump is currently staying. -- PTI
00:04  Rescued Thai cave boys granted citizenship:  
Three boys from the Wild Boar soccer team and their coach, who were rescued from deep within a flooded cave in Thailand last month, have been granted Thai citizenship.

In a ceremony in Chiang Rai province, the Mae Sai district chief approved citizenship for Ardoon Sam-aon, Mongkol Boompiam, Ponchai Khamluang, and assistant coach Ekkapol Ake Chanthawong.

The Wild Boar team attracted international attention in late June when 12 young players and their coach ventured inside a cave in northern Thailand for an afternoon excursion but found the exit blocked by rising floodwater.

The team was trapped for almost three weeks, before cave diving experts from around the world led a complex operation to bring them out on stretchers carried through narrow tunnels.

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