Wed, 30 July 2014
Gaza conflict: 'Israeli market strike kills 17'

Timeline  Refresh

22:38   Gaza conflict: 'Israeli market strike kills 17'
At least 17 people have been killed and 160 wounded in an Israeli strike that hit a fruit and vegetable market near Gaza City, Palestinian officials say.

Hundreds of people were shopping in the market in Shejaiya, a spokesman for the Gaza health ministry said.

The attack came during a four-hour truce called by the Israeli military. Hamas, which controls Gaza, had rejected it as meaningless.
21:59   Arvind Kejriwal to address auto drivers in Delhi tomorrow
In a bid to strengthen AAP's support base in the national capital, party's National Convenor Arvind Kejriwal will address a rally of auto drivers at the Ramlila Maidan here tomorrow. 

The information was provided by a party spokesman today. The AAP leader had addressed a similar rally of e-rickhsaw drivers last month.
21:55   Anxious moments in Parl as car rams into boom barriers
Anxious moments were witnessed in Parliament premises today as an alarm went off, triggered after a car "inadvertently" rammed into boom barriers at one of the entries to the heavily-guarded complex that has been targeted by terrorists once. 

As soon as the alarm went off, a gypsy carrying commandos rushed towards the gate and blocked the entry.
BK Modi -- Lalit Modi's uncle (the first commissioner of cricket's Indian Premier League) -- is constructing a Lakshmi temple behind Lotus Temple in Delhi on the land gifted by the NDA govt during AB Vajpayee's tenure .
20:28   US plans largest ever sale of Hellfire missiles to Iraq
The United States plans to sell 5,000 Hellfire missiles to Iraq in a USD 700 million deal, officials has said, as Washington tries to help Baghdad retake ground captured by Sunni militants. 

The US government, which has been reluctant so far to take military action in support of Baghdad, has rushed hundreds of the missiles to Iraq to help the Shiite-led government counter jihadists, who have seized areas north and west of the capital.
20:07   Temporary ceasefire at Tripoli airport as fuel-depot fire rages
Rival militias fighting for control of Tripoli airport agreed on Wednesday to a temporary ceasefire to allow firefighters to try to control a huge blaze at a fuel depot hit by a rocket.

After a fortnight of the worst fighting since the 2011 war that ousted Moammar Gadhafi, most Western governments have followed the United States and United Nations pulling their diplomats out of the North African country.
19:52   UPSC to reject students' demand on CSAT
Union Public Service Commission will have its full bench meeting on Monday to deliberate the students agitation against the English test in CSAT. 

An internal note circulated among UPSC members has resolved unanimously reject the students demand of withdrawal of the English comprehension test.

Senior members of UPSC feel that a mafia of private tutorial colleges are behind this students' agitation. The UPSC decision will be final and that is not governed by the Union government
19:52   CVC to pick Director, ED on Thursday
The full bench of Central Vigilance Commission is meeting on Thursday to identify the new Director of Enforcement. A panel of three names drawn from IAS officers from 1982, 1983 have been submitted to CVC. 

Rajan Katoch present director of the Enforcement Directorate is to assume office as secretary to government in the Union ministry of heavy industries on Thursday.
19:51   President and PM fasting
President Pranab Mukherjee will observe Durga Ashtami by fasting -- he will not have lunch. Similarly Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not take even a drop of water till sunset on the days of Pradoshams. 

Such VVIPS 'fasting-styles' come as a hindrance to hosting official banquets and dinners to the visiting foreign dignitaries.
19:15   Who will head BRICS bank?
The buzz in the North Block which houses the Union ministry of finance is if Governor of Reserve Bank of India Raghuram Rajan or Finance Secretary Arvind Mayaram would become the first Indian to head the BRICS bank (also called as New Development Bank.) 

Insiders say more names will come up when the High Power Selection Committee will be constituted with former RBI governors D Subba Rao, Bimal Jalan and Dr C Rangarajan.  This committee will submit a panel of names to the government.   Highly placed sources confirmed that a selection committee will be constituted in a month's time.   

The New Development Bank was founded at a summit meeting of heads of state from Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. They will have a president (an Indian for the first six years), a Board of Governors Chair (a Russian), a Board of Directors Chair (a Brazilian), and a headquarters (in Shanghai).   

The selection committee's terms and references will include major points like; What is the purpose of this BRICS bank? Why have these countries created it now? And, what implications does it have for the global development-finance landscape?
18:58   Nearly 50 French, British nationals evacuated from Libya
France has evacuated nearly 50 French and British citizens from Libya by ship, French authorities said today, amid growing lawlessness and unrest in the north African country. 

The French chief of staff said 40 French nationals and seven Britons were pulled out in the overnight operation and would be taken to the southern French port city of Toulon. A French naval frigate was on standby during the evacuation.
18:57   Ukraine official: Rebels lay mines near crash site
International observers turned back today after making another attempt to reach the site where Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 went down in eastern Ukraine, and a government official said the area near the zone had been mined by pro-Russian separatists who control it. 

Observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe set out in two vehicles without frustrated crash investigators from the Netherlands who have been trying to reach the site for four days.
18:44   Diplomat: Criticism of Kerry not from Netanyahu
Israel's ambassador to the United States is asserting that criticism of Secretary of State John Kerry's peace-making efforts is traceable to Israel's "very rambunctious democracy," and not Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Ambassador Ron Dermer says Netanyahu appreciates Kerry's efforts to bring about a cease-fire in the Gaza war.

He adds, quote, "This is not coming from the prime minister." Kerry himself brushed off the criticism Monday, saying Netanyahu had asked him if he could arrange a cease-fire. The secretary said he wouldn't have pushed so aggressively for a cease-fire if Netanyahu hadn't asked him to.
18:36   US secretary of state John Kerry arrives in Delhi
US Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in India. Kerry will be in New Delhi to co-chair the fifth annual India-US Strategic Dialogue with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj.

On the eve of his departure, Kerry said today, that the developmental plan of Prime Minister Narendra Modi reflected in his poll slogan of "Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas" is a great vision.

Pic: John Kerry with the US charge de affaires after he landed in Delhi this evening.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh is leaving for Pune this evening. He will visit the landslide affected village of Malin in Maharashtra.
Telangana brand ambassador and tennis star Sania Mirza tweets: 37 medals and counting at Glasgow..praying for many more to come..Wish tennis was still a part of CWG, great memories.
18:07   The many shades of rape cases in Delhi
A six-month long investigation by The Hindu has revealed that the nature of reported sexual assault in Delhi is far more complex than earlier imagined. Among the key findings is that a third of all the cases heard during one year dealt with consenting couples whose parents had accused the boy of rape. Read
Read our 2006 report on the fallout between Sonia Gandhi and Natwar Singh.
Singh's book is to be launched next month and the possibility of his revelations has the political circles agog with anticipation. That this could be the second book after the one by Manmohan Singh's former media advisor Sanjay Baru that can put the spotlight on Congress chief Sonia Gandhi makes it a sensitive issue for the party. 
17:59   Sonia told me she confided more in me than her children: Natwar Singh
Congress president Sonia Gandhi refused her party's offer to be the prime minister in May 2004 because her son Rahul "put his foot down", former foreign minister K Natwar Singh has said.

Singh, in an interview to Headlines Today, said Rahul was "totally against" Sonia becoming prime minister because he feared that she will be killed, said Singh.

Singh said he had made these revelations in his book One Life is Not Enough.

"There are portions in my book which Sonia Gandhi wouldn't like to be published," he said.

Natwar Singh also told Headlines Today, "When Sonia visited me, she told me she confided in me more than she confided in her own children."

Natwar and the Congress fell foul over the Volcker report which had named the former foreign minister and his son as beneficiaries of Saddam Hussain's 'oil-for-food' scam. His son Jagat is now a BJP MLA in Rajasthan.
17:48   Kallis retires from all formats of international cricket, but will play for KKR
While Jacques Kallis will continue to play for the Sydney Thunder in the BBL, and for Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL, he has retired from all international cricket.

Kallis today announced his retirement from all formats of international cricket. "I realised in Sri Lanka that my dream of playing in a World Cup was a bridge too far,' said Kallis in a statement.
The toll in the Pune landslide has gone up to 10 with over 200 trapped. 
17:37   Sports minister assures CWG athletes will be paid in full
Sports minister Sarbananda Sonowal today assured that Indian athletes, competing at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, will soon be paid their full daily allowance.

Sonowal's reaction came in the wake of athletes' claims that they have not been paid their daily allowance which was last week increased to USD 50 from USD 25.

While squash players have not been paid at all, the table tennis squad has got half of their entitlement. "As clarified by the sports secretary (Ajit Sharan), the issue will be sorted out soon. The allowance indeed has been doubled. The ministry has done what it needed to," Sonowal said.

"The Indian Olympic Association is handling the affairs in Glasgow. Part of funds could not be transferred as IOA doesn't have an account there. We have already asked the IOA to do the needful at the earliest. Our athletes has been performing well at the Games and they must get the best of the facilities," added the minister.

Check out the medal haul on Day 6
17:09   Kerry to arrive in India in a few hours
MEA's confirmatory tweet: US Secy of State John Kerry will be arriving in a few hours. It will be the 1st high level interaction the US and India will have at a political level.
US Secretary of State John Kerry to meet PM Modi on August 1.

Read: John Kerry hopes for warmer welcome in India after Israel fiasco.

16:56   Subrata Roy seeks Wi-Fi, conference room at Tihar jail
The Supreme Court may allow Sahara chief Subrata  Roy to use the conference room at Delhi's Tihar Jail. Roy's lawyers have asked for Wi-Fi facilities and the use of the conference room inside the jail. Roy has been in jail since the last five months, over the group's failure to repay lakhs of small investors who were sold bonds that were later declared illegal.

Last week, the Supreme Court had asked the Delhi government to explore a venue within the Tihar jail complex where Roy can hold negotiations with buyers of his properties by meeting them personally or through video conferencing.

A special bench headed by Justice T S Thakur asked the government to talk to jail authority to explore the venue but made it clear that the arrangement would be done only for holding negotiations and not for giving any comfort to Roy.

The bench asked the government, which said arrangement can be made in the guest house or court room inside jail, to respond by July 30.

Roy pleaded that he is committed to follow apex court's direction and sought its permission for shifting to Tihar jail guest house for a week to enable him to hold negotiations to sell his properties in India and abroad to raise Rs 10,000 crore to get regular bail.
16:43   300 NDRF personnel rush to Pune
The centre today rushed around 300 personnel of the NDRF to help rescue people who are trapped following a landslide in Pune.

Nearly 80 personnel of the National Disaster Response Force have already reached landslide affected Ambegaon and joined in the rescue operations, while 220 more are on their way to the spot, a Home Ministry spokesperson said.

Those who have reached the site, started the rescue operations. They are also trying to restore the communication network, he said.

NDRF headquarters in New Delhi is in touch with the Pune district administration and some more NDRF personnel are expected to be sent. Nearly 170 people are feared trapped with several houses coming under the landslide triggered by heavy rains in Ambegaon in Pune.
Train services between Mumbai and Nashik disrupted due to boulder fall and overhead wire breakage between Kasara and Igatpuri. The Puri-LTT Express has just left Nashik; running two hours behind schedule.
The Calcutta High Court orders a stay in the TMC MP Tapas Pal case. No FIR to be lodged as of now.
16:05   Bail for Maya Kodnani convicted in Naroda Patiya massacre
Maya Kodnani, Gujarat's former minister for Woman and Child Development, has been granted bail. Kodani had been sentenced to 28 years imprisonment for leading a mob, which killed 97 people in Naroda Patiya in Ahmedabad. Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi and 29 other convicts were also given life imprisonment.

Kodnani was MLA of Naroda at the time of the incident on February 28, 2002. She was made MoS in 2007, but had to step down after her arrest in March 2009.

Kodnani had moved the Gujarat High Court seeking bail on various grounds. Her plea contends that the 11 witnesses in the case had proffered "embellished" statements that implicated her, while their earlier statements did not. She has therefore sought discarding of their "embellished" versions.
15:56   Pune landslide helpline number: 02026120720.
Pune landslide: District Collector Saurav Rao says the administration has mobilised the rescue machinery to pull out those trapped. "Exact number of casualties is not known as we are moving slowly to ensure that those trapped are removed safely.

The Indian Express reports that about 30 ambulances have been rushed from adjoining areas to extend medical help to the victims. Earth moving equipment from government and private parties were being pressed into service.

Communication difficulties and rains were affecting the operations, he said.

The helpline number is: 02026120720.

Pic: Dam water released in Khadakwasla near Pune.
15:48   The Social Laboratory
Singapore is testing whether mass surveillance and big data can not only protect national security, but actually engineer a more harmonious society. Read
15:43   Pune landslide: Maha CM to reach spot soon
Pune landslide: Maharashtra CM is expected to reach Ambegaon in Pune where the landslide has occurred. Reports say that incessant rains have disrupted long-distance train schedules as well. There are reports of a landslide on the railway track in Igatpuri which has affected Mumbai-bound trains, which are now running late by up to four to five hours. The Puri-LTT Superfast has been stalled at Nashik for over two hours now, the expected time of departure is 4 pm. The Duronto Express is running late as well. 
15:23   Jaya files defamation case against Stalin
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa today filed a criminal defamation case against DMK Treasurer and party's floor leader in the state assembly, M.K. Stalin, for allegedly raising slogans against her and Speaker outside the Assembly. 
15:22   Sibal, Tharoor, Pilot and 13 former UPA ministers served eviction notices
The union government has served eviction notices to former UPA ministers -- Shashi Tharoor, Kapil Sibal, Farooq Abdullah and Sachin Pilot.

Sixteen former ministers of the UPA government have got eviction notices for Government bungalows, Minister of Urban Development M. Venkaiah Naidu told the Lak Sabha in a written reply today.

These ministers have been staying unauthorised in Government bungalows for over a month now, reports The Hindu.

Naidu informed the House that these ministers owe damage charges of around Rs 21 lakh for one month of unauthorised stay till July 26, 2014.

Damage charges ranged from 53,250 per month in case of Type V accommodation of Lalchand Kataria to 2,43,678 for Type III accommodation of Jaipal Reddy.

Kapil Sibal, Ajit Singh, Farooq Abdullah, Beni Prasad Verma, Pallam Raju, Girija Vyas, Krishna Tirath, S.K. Jena, Sachin Pilot, Jitendra Singh, Pradip Jain Aditya, Porika Balram Naik, Killi Kriparani and Manikrao Hodya Gavit are among other former ministers who are in unauthorised possession of such bungalows. 
JUST IN: Evacuation of Indians likely to begin tomorrow from Tripoli, says Kerala CM.
15:03   BJP delegation in Saharanpur says state govt has 'failed completely'
A five-member delegation from the BJP is in riot-hit Saharanpur, on a fact-finding mission. Suresh Rana, who is part of the team says, the state govt (Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party govt) has failed completely, rioting went on for hours but no action was taken.

Three people were killed and 24 were injured in riots that broke out in the district on July 26. An uneasy calm has since prevailed in Saharanpur where 38 people were arrested as a political blame game erupted with the BJP accusing the SP of indulging in "vote-bank politics" and the Congress blasting the Uttar Pradesh government for "lapses".
14:56   Usain Bolt calls Glasgow CWG 'a bit shit'
The Olympic champion Usain Bolt has remarked that the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games are "a bit shit', according to reports. Bolt was apparently waiting in the rain for his car to arrive after briefly leaving the athletes' village when he made the passing remark. Asked if he was having fun in Scotland he is reported by the Times to have responded, "not really".

Read more
14:33   MPs unite over 'stale' food in Parliament canteen
In Parliament today, several members shared their outrage over something they simply can't stomach - stale food in the canteen.The matter was raised in the Rajya Sabha as a "point of order" by Janata Dal United member KC Tyagi, who said Samajwadi members Ramgopal Yadav and Jaya Bachchan had been taken ill after having food at the Parliament canteen.
14:24   No change in policy over dress code on beaches: Parrikar
Weeks after his minister kicked up a row with his comment that bikinis should be banned, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar today said the government's policy on dress code at beaches remains unchanged and that any moral policing in the tourist destination would not be tolerated.

"There is no change in policy and the minister's (Sudin Dhavalikar) opinion about banning bikinis on the beaches is his personal view," Parrikar told the State Legislative Assembly.

The CM was responding to the question tabled by Congress Legislator Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco who had asked whether the government had any plans to disallow bikinis on beaches.
Pune landslide: At least seven NDRF teams have been sent to the spot and rescue ops have begun.
14:00   Pune landslide: NDRF say no reports of casualties yet
While the Pune district collector has put the toll in the landslide as five dead, Sandeep Rathore, IG, NDRF, says he has no reports of any casualties or injuries yet. He confirmed that two teams were sent to the spot and rescue ops would begin shortly.
13:55   Kumbakonam school fire horror: 10-year jail for founder
A local court has sentenced Palanisamy, owner and founder of the Kumbakonam school to 10 years in jail. The quantum of punishment for the nine others convicted today, for the devastating fire that charred to death 94 school children, will be announced shortly.

Principal District and Sessions Judge Mohammed Ali pronounced the verdict in the packed court hall amid tight security as parents and relatives of the deceased children assembled outside the court.

Of the convicted, five persons were held guilty under various IPC sections including 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others), 338 (causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 285 (negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible matter), and provisions of Tamil Nadu Recognised Private Schools (Regulation) Act, 1973.

Those found guilty under these sections were Palanisamy, owner and founder of the School, his wife and correspondent Saraswathi, headmistress Santhalakshmi, noon meal organiser Vijayalakshmi and cook Vasanthi.

On July 16, 2004, a fire broke out from the makeshift noon meal kitchen and spread to a thatched roof hut in the first floor killing 94 children and causing burns to 18 others.

The heart-wrenching incident that occurred in Sri Krishna Aided Private School, Saraswathi Nursery and Primary School and Sri Krishna Girls High School located on Kasiraman Street in a narrow building brought to fore the utter negligence of authorities over safety norms.

About 700 students were studying in these schools.
Updates at this hour...

-- 2004 Kumbakonam school fire tragedy: School founder sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.

-- SC asks Supertech to refund money to Noida twin towers flat owners.
The district collector feels that other villages near Ambegaon may also be affected in the landslide. 
The NDRF says rescue ops at Ambegaon are being hampered by the incessant rain and the remote location of the village. Two teams comprising 100 people are likely to reach the spot any time now.  
13:37   LIVE! Pune landslide: Five dead, 40 houses buried
Pune district collector says five people are believed to have been killed in the landslide at Ambe village. Two teams of NDRF are reaching the spot.

Pic: The landslide in Ambe village in Ambegaon Taluka of Pune
13:23   'Maha CM personally monitoring Pune landslide'
Pune landslide: Early reports yet, but locals say an entire hillside came crashing down due to heavy rain. At least 150 people believed to be trapped.

Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan's office confirmed the incident and tweeted, "Landslide in Malin Village in Ambegaon tq Dist Pune. Ambulances, JCB's, 2 NDRF teams rushed to the venue. CM personally monitoring situation."
13:09   Curfew relaxed for 5 hours in violence-hit Saharanpur
Curfew was today relaxed for five hours in the violence-hit city of Saharanpur as the situation was gradually returning to normal.

"Keeping in view the peaceful situation, curfew has been relaxed for five hours today. If the situation remains stable, then we will relax curfew in the entire district from 10 am to 5 pm tomorrow," Saharanpur District Magistrate Sandhya Tiwari said.

"Today curfew has been relaxed from 8:30 am till 1:30 pm in the new city. People are shopping for daily needs as normalcy was returning to the city," she said. However, in the old town curfew will be relaxed from 2 pm to 7 pm, she said.

Tiwari said the situation in the district is fast approaching normalcy. Curfew was clamped on Saturday in the wake of clashes between two communities over a land dispute in which three persons were killed and 34 injured.

165 shops and handcarts and 42 vehicles were set ablaze in the violence. A total of 22 FIRs have been registered and 76 people have been arrested so far in connection with the violence.
Casualties feared as many trapped in a landslide at a village in Ambegaon taluka of Maharashtra's Pune district, says the police.
12:48   Landslide in Pune
Communication from Ambe village in Pune is limited since there is no cell phone connectivity. Local people are already at the spot to rescue those trapped. The nearest medical facility is believed to be 15 km away. 
12:40   150 feared trapped in landslide in remote village in Pune
Twenty-four hour rain in Maharashtra has left 150 people trapped in a village in Pune. Early reports, quoting the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), says a landslide caused by heavy rains has left 40 houses buried in debris. 
Two teams of NDRF comprising 100 people are on their way. The District collector, medical teams and police have reached the spot. Connectivity is poor as it is a remote area.

Representational picture.
12:33   A cruel neglect
The state, and individual schools, are not doing enough to protect children from physical abuse. The recent gruesome incidents in which three students were brutally thrashed by the principal of a school in Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh, and equally despicable conduct by authorities elsewhere, are shocking reminders of this fact. Read
12:31   Cash awards for CWG winners from Haryana
Haryana CM, BS Hooda, announces a cash award of Rs 1 crore to CWG gold medal winners, Rs 50 lakh to silver medal winners and Rs 25 lakh to bronze winners from Haryana.
The girl's mother has filed the complaint. The incident was reported on July 21. 
12:10   Another minor girl raped in Bangalore school, staffer's son held
And the horrors continue. A seven-year-old girl has been allegedly raped in a Bangalore school. A school staffer's son has been held and a complaint has been registered. Details awaited.

And in a fresh twist to the rape of the 6-year-old, also in Bangalore, the police has decided to let off Mustafa, the skating instructor, but have arrested two gymnastics teachers -- Lal Giri and Wasim Pasha. The police, which had earlier extracted a confession out of Mustafa and had claimed that he had confessed, however realised that he had no role to play on further probe. However investigations show that Pasha and Giri could be behind the incident. The police say that they have not come to a conclusion, but said that the arrests were made on the basis of circumstantial evidence.
12:04   Achhe din, like old times
Prime Minister Narendra Modi increasingly seems to be trapped in his own echo chamber. His government is fast confusing the trees for the forest and ignoring the sense of restlessness brewing outside its hallowed circles.

There have been, no doubt, some interesting administrative decisions coming out of this government.

But when even some of its own core supporters start using the "blame-the-bureaucrats' alibi, you know the government has lost a sense of credible control.

It is admittedly early days. But for a government that promised a new narrative, the adjustment to old ways is striking.

Pratap Bhanu Mehta on why the PM needs to strike now. Read
11:53   Rightwing Indian Arab policy is founded on a misconception
If Sushma Swaraj believed that television images beamed to Gulf countries of the external affairs minister seated next to Najma Heptullah during the Rajya Sabha debate on the Gaza violence would make up for the perception among Indians, from Oman to Saudi Arabia and beyond, that the Narendra Modi government was unduly tilting towards Israel, she could not have been more mistaken. Read
11:44   LS adjourned till noon over Belgaum
Meanwhile, the Lok Sabha has been adjourned till noon after uproar over alleged police action against Marathi-speaking people in Belgaum in Karnataka.
11:43   Kumbakonam school fire: 10 convicted for deaths of 94 children
The District and Sessions Court has delivered the final verdict in the 2004 Kumbakonam accident where 94 children were burnt alive in their school. While the sentencing will be awarded later today, the court has convicted 10, including the school owner, head mistress and principal, while 10 others have been acquitted.

Of the total of 501 witnesses, 230 were examined during the trial, which included survivors (children) and parents of the 94 children, who lost their lives.

The tragic incident which brought to light poor safety conditions for children in schools across the country occurred on July 14, 2004 in Kumbakonam, when a fire sparked from the make-shift noon meal kitchen spread to the thatched hut in the first floor and killed 94 children.

At the time of the incident, over 200 children were in the thatched roof class room. The narrow building on Kasiraman Street, which housed three schools together Sri Krishna Aided Private School, Saraswathi Nursery and Primary School and Sri Krishna Girls High School with the students' strength exceeding 700 did not have necessary fire safety equipment.

11:40   Govt denies snooping on Gadkari, says media reports untrue
The BJP government on Wednesday denied media reports about snooping on former BJP chief and Union Home Minister Nitin Gadkari and said no bugging devices were found from the latter's residence as the Opposition pressed for a discussion on the issue.

Making a statement in the Rajya Sabha, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said, "I want to make it clear that media reports about snooping on Nitin Gadkari's residence are completely unfounded and untrue. Nitin Gadkari himself has denied the bugging claims, so there is no need for further discussion on the issue."
11:21   VVIP chopper deal: Italy shelves probe, India's stand unchanged
Italy's Finmeccanica has reached an agreement with prosecutors to settle legal proceedings over a high-profile helicopter contract between one of its units and India, adding this did not equal an acknowledgment of any wrongdoing.

Sources in India said the latest developments in Italy will not impact the CBI's investigation into allegations that bribes were paid by the manufacturers to land the deal, reportedly by ensuring that technical criteria were changed to ensure that Finmeccanica unit AgustaWestland qualified for the contract.

India cancelled the Rs. 3,600-crore order with AgustaWestland for 12 top-end helicopters in January, citing a breach of integrity relating to alleged corruption. Read more
10:42   JD-U, RJD, Congress seal alliance in Bihar
After throwing enough indications of their coming together in past, the three major political parties in Bihar -- Janata Dal (United), Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress -- have formally sealed an alliance to contest the upcoming Assembly by-elections in the state. 

Reports on Wednesday said that Bihar's ruling Janata Dal (U) has finalised an alliance with Lalu Prasad Yadav's RJD and Congress, and a formal announcement in this regard is expected to be made at 2:30 pm in Patna today. 

Bihar's former chief minister Nitish Kumar, who is returning to Patna from Mumbai today, will make the announcement, reports said. 

JD-U chief Sharad Yadav had on Sunday indicated that his party will maintain its alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress, not just for the Assembly by-polls to be held next month, but will continue in future as well. 

"We already had a tie-up in the Rajya Sabha by-polls . This is the next step, we had already declared it. We will unite together and this will continue and will have solidarity amongst ourselves," Yadav told reporters. 
09:49   Kumbakonam school fire tragedy: Court verdict awaited today
A Thanjavur district court will on Wednesday deliver its verdict in the Kumbakonam school fire tragedy case, which claimed the lives of 94 school children and injured 18 others nearly a decade ago. 

the tragedy occurred on July 16, 2004, when a fire broke out in the school's kitchen, which was used to prepare midday meals for the children, and then spread to the first floor due to the school's thatched roof. 

The tragedy claimed the lives of ninety-four children, all between the ages of five and nine. After preliminary investigation it was found that the school teachers have abandoned the children struck in the fire.
The court verdict will decide on the fate of 21 accused that includes the owners of the building, teachers and government officials. 

It came to light later that three schools, including a government-aided institution, functioned in the same building even without a municipal license.

Authorities from various departments had certified the school building's structural stability, sanitation and student strength without making a single visit. 

On the day of the tragedy, an inspection was expected over an administration issue. In a bid to boost attendance and to claim grants and teacher postings, investigators say the school had fraudulently packed the private school children in the aided school wing. 
08:57   Mamata govt to appeal order for Tapas Paul CID probe today
West Bengal's Trinamool Congress government will on Wednesday appeal against a Calcutta High Court order directing a CID probe into the rape and violence remarks by party MP Tapas Paul. 

"Paul has already tendered a public apology and we feel initiating criminal proceeding against him is uncalled for. So the government will be filing an appeal before a division bench on Wednesday," state Law Minister Chandrima Bhattacharya had told a news agency on Tuesday.

Hearing a petition seeking criminal proceedings against Paul, Justice Dipankar Datta had on Monday directed the CID to probe the matter and submit a report to the court by September 1. 

The actor-turned-politician was caught on successive tapes asking his party activists in his constituency in Nadia district to prove themselves by killing Communist Party of India-Marxist activists even as he himself asserted that he would gun down his rivals and let loose his "boys" to rape the Marxist women.
08:30   Curfew in Saharanpur to be relaxed for 5 hours today
Curfew in the communal violence-hit Saharanpur will be relaxed for five hours today.

Curfew will be eased from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm in the new city, Saharanpur District Magistrate Sandhya Tiwari said, adding that it will be from 2 PM to 7 PM in old city areas. 

On Sunday, the curfew was relaxed for four hours and the relaxation period passed off peacefully. 

She further said that if the situation remains calm then the curfew might be released from 7 am to 5 pm on Thursday.

Curfew was clamped on Saturday in the wake of clashes between two communities over a land dispute in which three persons were killed and 34 injured. 165 shops and handcarts and 42 vehicles were set ablaze in the violence, Tiwari said. 
08:26   Twitter loss widens but user numbers propel shares
Twitter has reported that its quarterly loss widened to USD 145 million despite revenue more than doubling, but its shares soared on word of healthy user growth. 

Revenue at the popular one-to-many messaging service topped USD 312 million in the three months that ended June 30, with the number of monthly active users hitting 271 million, up 24 per cent when compared with the same period a year earlier, Twitter reported yesterday.

The loss adjusted for special items was less than the market had expected, and the rise in use evidently bolstered confidence of investors who pushed the stock up more than 28 per cent to USD 49.50 in after-market trading that followed release of the earnings figures.
08:25   Mother of slain Mexican teen sues US Border Patrol
The mother of a Mexican teen who was shot to death by a US Border Patrol agent nearly two years ago has sued the agency, saying her son was walking home after playing basketball with his girlfriend and friends when he was hit in the back by 10 bullets. 

Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, 16, was in Nogales, Sonora, near the tall, steel fence that divides the United States and Mexico when a Border Patrol agent shot him from Nogales, Arizona, on Oct 10, 2012. An autopsy shows the teen was shot at least eight times. 

The Border Patrol has said Elena Rodriguez was among a group of people throwing rocks at agents across the border, endangering their lives. 

The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the lawsuit in federal court on behalf of Araceli Rodriguez, says the shooting was another example of US border agents using excessive force without consequences. Araceli Rodriguez says her son never had a rock or any other weapon. 

The Border Patrol does not comment on pending litigation, spokesman Andy Adame said. Agency officials in the past have defended agents' use of force. 
08:25   Last crew member of Enola Gay dies in US
The last surviving member of the US crew that dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima has died. 

Theodore VanKirk died Monday of natural causes at the retirement home where he lived in Georgia, his son Tom VanKirk said. He was 93. 

VanKirk was the navigator of the Enola Gay, a B-29 Superfortress aircraft that dropped "Little Boy" the world's first atomic bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima on Aug 6, 1945. The bomb killed 140,000 in Hiroshima. VanKirk was 24 years old at the time. 

Tom VanKirk said he and his siblings are very fortunate to have had such a wonderful father who remained active until the end of his life. 

"I know he was recognised as a war hero, but we just knew him as a great father," he said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press yesterday. 

In a 2005 interview with the AP, VanKirk said his World War II experience showed that wars and atomic bombs don't settle anything, and he'd like to see the weapons abolished.