Thu, 03 December 2015
US Military will open all combat jobs to women

Timeline  Refresh

23:39   US Military will open all combat jobs to women, Defense secretary announces
All US military combat jobs, including infantry units, will be open to women beginning next year, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Thursday.

Carter said the decision was part of his commitment to build a force of the future. The ban will be lifted in 30 days, he said.

"In the 21st Century, that requires drawing strength from the broadest pool" possible, he said.

We can't succeed to defend the nation by eliminating half of the U.S. population from combat roles, Carter said.

The decision was immediately blasted by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and a member of the Armed Services Committee as a politically motivated move that will erode the ability of the military to fight. Hunter pointed to a study done by the Marine Corps that showed that infantry units with women performed worse than all-male ones.

Read more HERE.
23:26   First climate draft unveiled; India 'encouraged' by progress
On the fifth day of negotiations, the first draft text of the Paris agreement on climate change came out today which India described as satisfactory and asserted that it was "encouraged" by the progress.
"At the moment this is a shorter draft but everything which we (India) got inserted is still there. It's five pages shorter," India's key negotiator Ajay Mathur said.

He said that the French president has spoken of "urgency" of moving ahead in resolving the kinds of issues and India will continue to work together to get closer to an agreement.

This is the more or less the same text which was released in the Bonn conference, officials said.

India also sought global support for bringing down the cost of renewable power to reduce reliance on coal.
23:03   Chennai floods: ATMs to be mounted on boats for customers' ease
In view of #ChennaiFloods banks are requested to ensure ATMs are functional, the dept of financial services declared today.

Alternative mechanisms like mobile ATM, ATM vans and mobile ATMs mounted on boats may be used.

The banks may also put their employees along with laptops to facilitate withdrawals in localities themselves.
22:35   Over 50 died in rain-related incidents in 20 days: AP DyCM
Over 50 persons died in last 20 days in various parts of Andhra Pradesh in rain-related incidents, deputy Chief Minister Nimmakayala Chinarajappa said here today.
He said National Disaster Response Force teams were deployed in Nellore and Chittoor districts today where several rivulets are in spate due to rains, to carry out relief and rescue operations.
"Over 50 people died in rain-related incidents over last 20 days. The rains have damaged crops on five lakh acres," Chinarajappa said.
Chittoor, Nellore and other districts of Andhra Pradesh bordering Tamil Nadu have been bearing the brunt of heavy rains.
He said government was taking all necessary measures to bring people from the state who are stranded in Chennai to their places in Andhra Pradesh.
22:16   'Possible' that California attack was terror attack: Obama
Obama says 'possible' that California shooting was terror attack.

"It is possible this is terror related," the president said on Thursday.
At least 14 people were killed and 17 others injured on Thursday when a heavily-armed young Pakistani-origin couple opened indiscriminate fire during a Christmas party at a centre for people with disabilities in California, the deadliest shooting in the US since 2012.

21:35   Jaya seeks Rs 5,000 crore from Centre
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa today urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi for an immediate 'on account' release of Rs 5,000 crore for flood relief works during a meeting between the two in Chennai.

Jayalalithaa made the demand after Modi and she carried out an aerial survey of Chennai, Kanchipuram, Thiruvallur and Cuddalore districts that have borne the brunt of the unprecedented rains in the last few days.

Meanwhile, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation has decided to dispatch one lakh bottles of Rail Neer to Chennai.
21:29   How Chennai is using Twitter to help strangers
Tamil Nadu is still reeling from the onslaught of the worst monsoon rains in a century, with several feet of flood water inundating roads in and around Chennai. The Army and Navy are in the city to join in the rescue operations, Chennai airport has been shut at least till Thursday evening and several other transport facilities in the city have come to a standstill.

Read more HERE
21:15   Send relief material to Siddharth here
Actor Siddharth who has been helping the Chennai flood victims through a series of tweets has posted under the #ChennaiMicro,

'Big fm office opposite palmgrove hotel. Send all relief supplies here. This is base camp for #chennaimicro Blankets water paai priority'.  

'Will post account details of a trust soon. If you would like to send donations for relief work done by @RJ_Balaji and me.. Plsss do', he tweeted.

Relief material to the foundation can be sent to the following addres:

#ChennaiMicroFund contribution A/c Name: V Trust, A/C NO: 533102010503421, UNION BANK OF INDIA, IFSC CODE: UBIN0553310. #SiddharthRJbalaji
20:47   Centre suspends toll collection on TN highways
The government today said it has ordered suspension of toll collection on all National Highways in Tamil Nadu till December 11 in view of the flood situation caused by unprecedented rains in the state.

'In view of the flood situation caused by unprecedented rains in Tamil Nadu, the Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari has ordered suspension of toll collection on all National Highways in the state till December 11, 2015,' an official statement said.

The order is to come into force with immediate effect and has been issued to ease the rescue, relief and rehabilitation operations being undertaken by various central and state agencies on war footings and to help the stranded and marooned people in different parts of the state, the statement said.
JUST IN: Six flights tomorrow and six flights the day after will leave INS Rajali for various places. Charges will be Rs.1,000 and Rs.2,000 per ticket, depending upon the destination. Charges have been applied to avoid  overload or stampede-like situation, says Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma.

He said that these commercial lines will begin once slots for them are decided. Schedule once decided be available on the website of Director General for Civil Aviation.

No check-in baggage will be allowed as this facility is available for emergency exits from Chennai.
20:13   India beat England to reach Hockey World League semis
India made it to the semi-finals of the Hockey World League with a facile 2-1 win over England.

The hosts will now face the winner of the match between Argentina and Belgium.

World champions Australia face holders the Netherlands in the other semi-final.
20:04   Tamil Nadu has to hold on for another 48 hours for rains to weaken
In good news for much of rain-battered Tamil Nadu, the trough over the Bay of Bengal, which has caused the torrential downpour in the state, will weaken in next 48 hours, the MET department today said.

However, coastal districts Cuddalore and Nagapattinam and Puducherry and Karaikal districts of the Union Territory of Puducherry will be lashed by heavy rains as the weather circulation has moved to the central part of the state.

"Under the influence of the low pressure areas which is now in the South West Bay of Bengal off the Tamil Nadu coast, heavy rainfall is occurring in the central districts of Cuddalore, Puducherry and Karaikal districts of the Union Territory. There is no heavy rainfall in remaining parts of Tamil Nadu and even in Chennai there is hardly any rainfall," India Meteorological Department (IMD) Director General Laxman Singh Rathore said.

In the past 24 hours, the highest amount of rainfall was:

135mm in Cuddalore,
70mm in Puducherry,
60mm in Karaikal
70mm in Nagapattinam.

The total rainfall received since October 1 in this season is is 1558.9mm. "Low pressure will weaken in next 24 hours. It is not moving rather oscillating within the same region. The probability of heavy rainfall in Tamil Nadu, except in hilly districts, is ruled out. So, it remains confined only to coastal region," Rathore added.

In a scene reminiscent of the blockbuster film Baahubali, a fawn is rescued at Vandalore zoo in the outskirts of Chennai. Pic courtesy: @Ind_Photograph
19:51   Trump shocker: Kill families of IS terrorists
Leading Republican presidential aspirant Donald Trump has pitched a new strategy on how to best combat the Islamic State -- kill their families.

"When you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families. They care about their lives, don't kid yourself," Trump told Fox News.

"We're fighting a very politically correct war," said the Republican presidential front-runner.Trump pointed to the fact that IS terrorists have used civilians as "shields" for his reasoning.

Calling the IS United States' 'number one threat', Trump joined the growing criticism of President Barack Obama for appearing to send the wrong message to Americans on IS."All he's worried about is climate change. He thinks climate change is something that's going to go kill us," the real estate mogul said, adding that, "It's not going to kill us at all."

Trump also said that if he would have been the US President he would not have gone to this week's Paris climate change conference at all.
19:14   Three militants gunned down in LoC
Security forces foiled an infiltration bid and gunned down three militants on the Line of Control (LoC) in frontier Poonch district this evening.

"The operation was launched in the evening when the infiltration bid was detected by surveillance devices and alert sentries of Indian army," defence spokesman Col Manish Mehta told

"The area has been cordoned off and search operations were going on till last reports came in," he said. "The failed infiltration bid and casualties is a big blow to the nefarious designs of terrorists and their handlers across the LoC who have been waiting and planning for infiltration for a long time."
There have been no casualties and damage on the Indian side.

Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
A grim PM Modi and MoS Pon Radhakrishnan during the aerial survey this afternoon. 
18:59   Army rescues 4000 people in Chennai
The Army has 40 Rescue and Relief teams and five engineer teams carrying out rescue operations in the most critical areas of Chennai. These teams have been operating in areas which are the worst hit by the floods which include Tambaram, Mudichur, Kothurpuram, Pallavaram, Thiruneermalai, Urapakkam, Manipakkam, T Nagar and Gudvancheri towards the outskirts of Chennai and also along areas adjacent to the Adyar River.                     

The teams have successfully rescued over 4000 stranded people. The military hospital at St Thomas Mount has been made functional and treatment is being given to many flood-affected patients.

Pic: Army personnel rescue people stranded in Manipakkam colony in Chennai today. Pic courtesy: PIB.
Major infiltration bid along LoC in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir foiled, three terrorists killed: Defence spokesperson .
18:48   Oh deer!
In a scene reminiscent of the blockbuster film Baahubali, a fawn is rescued at Vandalore zoo in the outskirts of Chennai. Pic courtesy: @Ind_Photography
18:48   Mumbai's Shanmukhananda Sabha announces TN flood relief fund
 The Shanmukhananda Fine Arts and Sangeetha Sabha, Mumbai's premier Tamil cultural organisation, has decided to raise money from among its patrons for Tamil Nadu's flood relief.

"Chennai has drowned in a flood of misery and is facing a severe crisis. It's time to act. Let us all get together and tell our friends that we are behind you, let us contribute at this critical time," the Sabha's president, Dr V Shankar, said.

Cheques/DDs can be drawn in favour of: "SSFA&SS - Tamil Nadu Relief Fund" and forwarded to the Sabha's office in Matunga or the money can be transferred directly to SSFA&SS's SB A/c No. 402617518 at Indian Bank, Kings Circle branch, Mumbai (IFSC IDIB000K038). Section 80-G certificates will be issued for the contributions.

The Sabha will hand over the funds collected to the Tamil Nadu government as Mumbai's contribution, Shankar said. 
18:41   Don't forget, Puducherry, Nellore as rain-ravaged as Chennai
As India finally directs its attention to flood-devastated Chennai, Puducherry has also been facing similar conditions. Puducherry, for instance, has recorded a whopping 37 cm rainfall between Monday morning and Thursday, disrupting normal life in the union territory.

After a 13-hour lull, heavy showers resumed today in Puducherry where large areas have been inundated and over 400 houses damaged due to torrential rains, forcing evacuation of thousands of people.

As many as 173 relief centres were operating in Puducherry and Karaikal region and more than 10,000 people were evacuated to safer places, Commissioner for Relief and Secretary to Government V Candavelou said.

All schools and colleges will remain closed till December 6. People of Puducherry had some short-lived relief when rains stopped last night. However, as the day advanced the Union Territory was again battered by heavy rains.

In Nellore and Chittoor districts of Andhra Pradesh, the rains moved north towards Prakasham district. Several towns in this district received heavy rains up to last night.

As the overflowing Swarnamukhi and Kalindi rivers continue to flow above danger levels, several villages in the district are submerged under water.

The people of Sullurpet area are still stranded with their houses flooded and are waiting for things to turn normal.

The National Disaster Response Force has rushed in boats to shift people to safer places. APSRTC buses are not plying. Railways has cancelled several trains and diverted some due to incessant rains in Tamil Nadu and parts of Andhra Pradesh which resulted in the overflowing of water above danger levels at railway bridges in the Chennai-Gudur section.

Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu instructed the administrations of Chittoor and Nellore districts to be alert as more rains are forecast in the next two days.

Pic: Narayana Sankar
17:55   Nitish offers Rs 5 crore towards Tamil Nadu R&R
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday sent Rs 5 crore for relief and rehabilitation work to Tamil Nadu battered by incessant.

Pic: Large swathes of Chennai are still underwater despite less rains today. Photo credit: PIB.
17:38   Humanity has won in Chennai
No one imagined that this could happen to Chennai. We were just a happy little town content with our Kollywood and Coffee, but humanity has won over once again, says Pavithra Selvam. Read
17:20   PM announces Rs 1000 cr flood relief for Tamil Nadu
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announces Rs 1,000 crore relief to Tamil Nadu for flood relief operations. This will be over and above the Rs.940 crore given by the Centre earlier. Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa had asked for Rs 8,481 crore aid from the centre last week.

PM Modi made the announcement after an aerial survey of flood-affected areas of Chennai, Kanchipuram and Tiruvallur districts in Tamil Nadu.

Modi said the government stands by the people of Tamil Nadu in their hour of need.

The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) on Wednesday estimated that the financial loss due to the rains may exceed Rs.15,000 crore.

Small and medium enterprises, automobile and engineering industries, information technology (IT), ITeS, textile, tourism and a host of other sectors have been badly affected by the biggest rainfall in a 100 years.

Pic: PM Modi with the Tamil Nadu CM and governor K Rosaiah.
Incidentally, it's been 10 days since Karthi Chidambaram has received but not replied to an email questionnaire from the Enforcement Directorate on the investigations on a FERA case of firms he allegedly has a stake in. 
16:21   Why KCR will get his head tonsured
President Pranab Mukherjee will perform an aarti -- a Chandi homa -- in Hyderabad on December 27 at a private event being held at the farmhouse of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. This is a thanksgiving for the creation of Telangana. At least 2500 purohits from all the 28 states will perform the 10-day non-stop puja.

Interestingly, 10 years ago, KCR had taken a vow before the deity of goddess Durga that in the event of the formation of Telangana he will ensure that waters from all the rivers in India will be used to bathe the deity and he would also tonsure his head. 
16:12   What lies ahead for Sonwal
Sarbananda Sonwal who will be projected as the BJP's chief ministerial candidate for Assam is expected to submit his resignation from the Union Council of ministers soon after the winter session of Parliament ends. This will also help Sonwal to tour the entire state before March 2016.

Another view prevailing is that since Sonwal was keen to take the South Asian Games to Guwahati which will be held in February 2016, he wants to continue till the games end.

Prime Minister Modi and Amit Shah will discuss this issue and arrive at a conclusion before the BJP National Executive meeting. 
16:08   BJP National Executive meeting in Kolkata from Dec 27 to 29
In other news, the BJP National Executive is likely to be held in Kolkata on December 27, 28 and 29 with the key agenda of extending Amit Shah's term as party president. Kolkata has been chosen as the venue to strategise ahead of the West Bengal assembly polls in 2016.

This meeting is particularly important as delegates to the meeting will be allowed to speak their minds and ideate to restore the image of the party in the aftermath of the Bihar polls.
15:58   PM reaches Chennai, aerial survey to begin shortly
Prime Minister Narendra Modi reaches INS Rajali in Arakkonam. He will take an aerial survey of flood-devastated Chennai. The naval airbase here will serve as a makeshift airport for rescue ops. Arakkonam is 90 km from Chennai. It is from this air base that Air India to operate special flights to bring back stranded passengers.
Air India to operate special flight to Arrakonam Naval Air Station from Hyderabad to bring back stranded passengers: AI spokesperson.
15:26   Spunky Chennai smiles as rescue ops gather steam
Rescue and relief operations continued in full swing in Chennai with over a 100 people taken to safety by teams of Army, IAF and NDRF, including a seven-month pregnant woman who was airlifted today from one of the worst-affected areas in the flooded city.

"We sent about 120 rescued people to Delhi carried by a C-130J (Super Hercules) this morning and another 20 have been sent to Arakonnam, from where they will fly out in different aircraft," a senior IAF official said.

Among those evacuated were 50 stranded students from SRM University. With heavy rains lashing the capital city, especially in the last three days, several areas are inundated, with water reaching up to almost second storey in certain areas.

"We are fully prepared to tackle this situation and carrying out regular sorties. We performed several relief and recce sorties today, as we have to save those who are badly stranded as well as give food items to those who are stuck in their homes," Air Commodore Rippon Gupta said at the Tamabaram Air Base, nearly 30 kms from here.

Sukanya (29), who is seven months pregnant, along with her three-year-old child was airlifted from her home in Medumbakkam, near Guindy, one of the worst-affected areas in Chennai.

She was brought Tambaram Air Base in a Chetak helicopter, and then immediately taken to the Base Hospital. "We moved to the fourth floor of our house as the first and the second floor have become inundated. There is no electricity in our area for the last two days.

"We had lost all hope until they rescued us today," she told PTI. "My husband will come after me and we are planning to go to Kanchipuram, where my parents are waiting," she said.

Pic: This picture was emailed by Chennai resident Yashwanth Daniel. That amazing woman smiling despite the horrors that the city is facing, is his wife.
15:26   IAF sorties airlift stranded citizens
Aerial recce and relief operations revealed a harrowing tale as airports, bridges, and housing colonies were seen submerged in 8-10 feet water. People raised their hands seeking help from roof tops as IAF aircraft flew past them.

"The Chennai Airport is almost washed out, with flight operations still suspended. Runways and parking bays are flooded. A bridge near Saidapet area is completely overrun with water, cutting off areas and isolating people," a pilot, involved in the relief operation, said.

Several students from a private university, who were left stranded in the city, were also brought to the Tambaram Air Base from where they were flown to Bangalore or Delhi.

"We are over 50 students from SRM University. We were stuck in the city until we were rescued last night at about 10 PM. "And, we were then brought to the air base here, where they took care of us, and today we are flying out," 18-year-old George K George, a student from Kerala. 
15:10   Chennai floods in numbers
330 mm of rain on Dec 2

people dead in Tamil Nadu

  dead in Pudducherry

54 dead in Andhra Pradesh.

12 Navy boats pressed into service

155 Naval personnel on the roads

NDRF teams deployed.

1200 NDRF personnel deployed

Rs 8,481
crore aid sought by state government

Rs 940.92 crore aid given by the Centre

48 hours critical for Tamil Nadu as it is expected to get more rain.

6 December is when Chennai airport will reopen
15:04   The Chennai floods picture that is breaking the Internet
It could be a scene straight out of the apocalyptic Hollywood film, 2012, except that it's very real. That's a picture of the Pallavaram flyover near the Chennai airport which is almost entirely under water. The green shrubs dotting the muddy waters in the picture are in fact tree tops.

The aerial picture was released by the Indian Air Force and is threatening to break the Internet. Nobody knows if the people stranded on those vehicles -- a few trucks and cars -- on the flyover were evacuated to safety.

Even as rains abated in Chennai after three days of heavy downpour the excessive discharge of water last night from the Chembarambakkam lake on the outskirts of the city flooded new areas, uprooting people from their homes.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh informed the Lok Sabha that the death toll in Tamil Nadu due to floods had gone up to 269.
Just in: Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius has been found guilty of murder after a South African appeals court overturned an earlier manslaughter verdict. He killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in February 2013 after shooting her four times through a locked toilet door. He is currently under house arrest after spending one year of his original five-year sentence in jail. Pistorius will now have to return to court to be re-sentenced, for murder.
Sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik's rendition of the Chennai floods.
The flooded All India Radio, Chennai station. Picture credit: M JayaSingh
IAF flies men and material to Tamil Nadu
14:00   Why water levels in Chennai are rising despite less rainfall
Even as the incessant downpour in Chennai abates, the water level in many residential areas has been steadily increasing. Reports say this is due to excess water being released from the dam at Chembarambakkam. Residents say they were not warned and the water level has been increasing every hour in places like Mylapur, one of the posh areas of Chennai. There is no power, no internet, no food, no water. And hope for a quick rescue is dying out as well.

As the state electricity board had suspended power as a precautionary measure, most of the residents of the city and its neighbourhoods, who had stocked on milk and vegetables were unable to preserve them for long.

Large queues were seen in places where milk was being sold while the famous Koyambedu vegetable market was cut off from the city, leading to the spiralling vegetable prices.

The price of mineral water also hit the roof with a 20 litre bottle normally available for Rs 30 being sold for Rs 150 per bottle.

Most of the supermarkets and hotels across the city were either shut or had run out of stocks.

Photo: People pick their way through Sardar Patel Road in Chennai. Pic: Sreeram Selvaraj
13:46   NDRF doubles strength of rescue teams to 1,200
NDRF teams have doubled the number of their rescuers in the rain and flood-battered Chennai and adjoining areas to 1,200 even as the force today decided to penetrate deep into the affected areas to aid the marooned.

A meeting of the Crisis Management Group was held this morning here under the Chairmanship of Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi along with officials of Ministries of Defence, Food, Railways, Agriculture, Health, Department of Telecommunication, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), India Meteorological Department (IMD) and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF). "We have 30 teams, each having 40 members, working in these areas now and we plan to concentrate in the areas of south Chennai which are the worst affected. The meeting took stock of the preparedness of various agencies," NDRF Chief O P Singh said after the meeting held at North Block. He said the force has deployed about 110 inflatable and other kinds of boats and separate assortment of buoys and life jackets with the rescue and relief teams so that the needy and the marooned get help.
13:28   Mineral water: Rs 150, 1 ltr milk: Rs 100, in flood-devastated Chennai
Even as the rains moderated across the city, availability of essential commodities like milk and water was affected while in some places they were being sold at exorbitant prices.

For the third consecutive day power, transport and telephone facilities were affected due to the rains.

A one litre packet of milk was being sold for Rs 100 in some places while vegetables like tomato and beans were being sold at Rs 80 to Rs 90 per kg.

As the state electricity board had suspended power as a precautionary measure, most of the residents of the city and its neighbourhoods, who had stocked on milk and vegetables were unable to preserve them for long.

Large queues were seen in places where milk was being sold while the famous Koyambedu vegetable market was cut off from the city, leading to the spiralling vegetable prices.

The price of mineral water also hit the roof with a 20 litre bottle normally available for Rs 30 being sold for Rs 150 per bottle. Most of the supermarkets and hotels across the city were either shut or had run out of stocks.

Unprecedented heavy rains and flooding, triggered by north east monsoon and a low pressure in Bay of Bengal, during the last several days has heaped misery on several districts in Tamil Nadu, especially Chennai. Many areas in Chennai and its suburbs have submerged, bringing life to a halt.

Pic: Volunteers dole out food in a shelter in Chennai.
13:11   In flooded Chennai woman sits with mother's dead body for over 20 hours
In rain-hit Chennai, as water surges in residential areas, a woman has been sitting with the body of her mother for nearly 20 hours. Her friend appeals for help through NDTV.

"Her mother, a dialysis patient, passed away yesterday. She is all by herself with the dead body in the dark," said the friend, urging the authorities to send a hospital van to the house in the city's Ashok Nagar area.

"If any morgue van could reach in a decent hour, we can give her a decent burial. Otherwise it's going to be an epidemic breakout because the body is in a very bad situation. It is a big risk to others. She has no help, she is helpless. Please help her," she pleaded.

The woman's ground floor apartment is just opposite a high school. She tried to take the body to a morgue last night but had to return as the roads were flooded and blocked. A neighbour who has been lived in the area for 50 years, said he had never seen so much flooding ever.

"It is a posh, central area of Chennai. There is so much water because of bad planning," he said. Large parts of Chennai are flooded because of rain, and the water level is rising in many areas because of overflowing lakes and water released from reservoirs. Water has even reached the second floor of some houses in central Chennai.

There has been no road, rail or air traffic in the city since yesterday. The army, navy and air force have stepped up rescue operations.
12:51   Widespread, heavy to very heavy rains: IMD
Weather update from L S Rathore, IMD DG: Next 48 hours, entire Tamil Nadu coast is going to receive fairly widespread rainfall with isolated heavy to very heavy rains. Rainfall is expected in southern coastal Andhra Pradesh districts like Chittoor and Nellore as well. After 48 hours, though there is reduction in intensity of rainfall, but rain will fall for the next 5-6 days.
12:38   Naval teams, INS Airavat deployed to tackle floods: Naval chief
Navy chief Admiral RK Dhowan has a media briefing on the measures being taken in flood relief: "We are closely monitoring the situation in Tamil Nadu. We have carried out UAV survey of the flood affected area. In Chennai we have our ships, aircraft and personnel deployed for nearly a week. Our naval teams, Airavat, our tanker deployed there with helicopters, divers, distributing food packets. 
12:31   IAF to evacuate stranded passengers from city airport
The Indian Air Force has pressed into service three aircraft to evacuate hundreds of passengers stranded at the Chennai airport where operations were suspended due to heavy rains and water logging on the runway.

IAF sources said that the Force has received clearance from the authorities to ferry civilian passengers from Chennai to Delhi and the operations would begin post-noon today.Two C-17 from 'INS Rajali' airbase in Arakkonam, about 60 km west of Chennai, and one C-130 J aircraft at Tambaram airbase, have been stationed for reconnaissance missions, they said.

Airports Authority of India chairman R K Shrivastava in New Delhi said that around 250-300 passengers are stranded at the Chennai airport. These passengers will be airlifted from the Chennai airport to Tambaram and Arakkonam airbase of the air force, he added.

Flight services in and out of Chennai Airport were suspended yesterday due to the heavy rains and water logging on the runway and the Airports Authority of India had also issued a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) to all air operators in this regard. Aviation authorities had said that the operations could resume only after rains stopped and water receded at the airport.
12:25   River breaches banks, cuts off access to large parts of Chennai
For the first time in over 40 years, the water has risen rapidly on the river breaching the road and the Maraimalai Adigal bridge in Saidapet cutting the arterial Anna Salai (Mount Road), rendering it out of bounds for motorists.

Rains abated in Chennai today giving relief to people tormented by the heavy downpour of the last three days but excessive discharge of water last night from Chembarambakkam lake on the outskirts flooded new areas of the city threatening to uproot people from their homes.

The fresh flooding of the streets in the heart of the city in areas like Kodambakkam and T.Nagar and Ashok Nagar has been caused by the release of an estimated 30,000 cusecs of water from the Chembarambakkam lake, one of city's source of drinking water.

The sky is overcast without any fresh rainfall and people are worried about the forecast of showers over the next three days.
12:18   Death toll in Tamil Nadu floods rises to 269, Rajnath tells Parliament
Home minister Rajnath Singh's statement in Parliament on the Chennai floods.

-- PM Modi will do an aerial survey today and appropriate steps will be taken after that.

- Over 40 per cent of Chennai has no mobile phone connectivity and 20 per cent has no landline connectivity over the last few days.

-- The death toll is now 269 in the Tamil Nadu floods.

-- The Met department has warned of more rain.

-- 30 NDRF teams have been deployed.

-- The Chennai railway station has been badly hit.

Pic: Army personnel rescuing stranded residents.
11:55   PM heads to flood-devastated Chennai as residents flee homes
PM Narendra Modi is on his way to flood-devastated Chennai. The PM tweeted a few minutes ago, saying, "Leaving for Chennai to take stock of the situation arising due to the devastating floods."

Meanwhile, the Hindu reports that thousands of residents are fleeing north Chennai, where no rescue services have been operating. There are flash protests across the region, which has not received essential supplies in two days.

The Mint Bridge is completely blocked as is the Vallalar Nagar bridge with the mass exodus of thousands of people who are trying to leave. Ambulances too, are not able to get through.

Residents who blocked the Vallalar Nagar bridge screamed at officials saying that for the government, Chennai starts and ends at Poes Garden and Gopalapuram. "We have never been considered residents of Chennai and today you can the effects of this," the residents said.

Pic: Vehicles make their way through water-logged Chennai/PTI photo.
Two suspects killed after San Bernardino shooting named by police as Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 27. The San Bernardino police chief says, they are not ruling out terrorism. 
Rajya Sabha adjourned for 30 minutes after Congress MPs keep shouting slogans over Kumari Selja's comment on Friday that she had been asked her caste in the guest book of a temple.
11:27   Farhan wants sequel to 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara'
If you loved Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara" as much as we did, here's some good news -- actor-producer Farhan Akhtar wants a sequel to the 2011 hit road trip drama. The Zoya Akhtar-directed film had a star cast including her brother Farhan as one of the protagonists. "I would like 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara' to be taken ahead... I think it will be great fun," Farhan told PTI.

Interestingly, actor Hrithik Roshan, who played an investment banker in ZNMD, had earlier expressed that there should be a sequel to the film. Currently, Farhan is working on the sequel of "Rock On" that marked his debut in Bollywood as an actor. 
11:18   California shooting suspect identified as Syed Farook: Report
One of the suspects in the mass shooting that left at least 14 people dead in California has been identified as a man named Syed Farook, US media reported on Thursday.

The Times of India reports that public records show that a man bearing the same name worked as an environmental health specialist for San Bernardino County, where the shooting took place.

The Los Angeles Times said that two law enforcement sources had given the suspect's name as Syed Farook.

A man carrying the same name is listed as residing at an apartment complex where the suspects of Wednesday's shooting were tracked by police.

NBC News said another of the suspects was believed to be Farook's brother.

Police shed no light on the motive for the massacre, but David Bowdich, assistant director of the FBI's Los Angeles office, said the bureau is looking at several possibilities, including workplace violence and terrorism. He did not elaborate.

One police officer was injured in the gunfight with the two suspects, who were confronted in their getaway vehicle after fleeing the scene of the shooting in San Bernardino, about 60 miles (100 km) east of Los Angeles, according to police.

Pic: Police officers conduct a manhunt after a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. Photograph: Mike Blake/ Reuters
11:10   Justice TS Thakur sworn-in as 43rd Chief Justice of India
Justice T S Thakur took over as the next Chief Justice of India on Thursday, succeeding Chief Justice H L Dattu, who demitted office on Wednesday. 

Justice Thakur, who will have a tenure of over a year (due to retire on January 4, 2017), was administered oath of office by President Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

Born on January 4, 1952, Justice Thakur started his career as a Civil, Criminal, Constitutional and Taxation lawyer in the Jammu and Kashmir high court. 

He was designated as a senior advocate in 1990. 

Justice Thakur was appointed as an additional judge of the Jammu and Kashmir high court in 1994. He has also served as judge in Karnataka and Delhi high courts.

Justice Thakur has been associated with a host of significant judgments. 

He led the bench that had delivered the verdict on reforming the Board of Control for Cricket in India, following the Indian Premier League betting and spot-fixing scandal. 
10:46   Discharge from Chembarambakkam inundates new areas in Chennai
Rains abated in Chennai on Friday giving relief to people tormented by the heavy downpour of the last three days but excessive discharge of water last night from Chembarambakkam lake on the outskirts flooded new areas of the city threatening to uproot people from their homes.

Teams of the National Disaster Relief Force, army, navy and commandos of police and fire service personnel were deployed for rescue and relief works in the worst-affected areas of Kotturpuram, Jafferkhanpet and Nandanam on the banks of the Adyar river that has been in spate for the last two days.

For the first time in over 40 years, the water has risen rapidly on the river breaching the road and the Maraimalai Adigal bridge in Saidapet cutting the arterial Anna Salai (Mount Road), rendering it out of bounds for motorists. 

Though there has been no rain since Thursday night, the fresh flooding of the streets in the heart of the city in areas like Kodambakkam and T Nagar and Ashok Nagar has been caused by the release of an estimated 30,000 cusecs of water from the Chembarambakkam lake, one of city's source of drinking water.

The reservoir has been surplussing because of heavy inflow due to rains in the catchment area. 
10:06   Sensex freefall continues, Nifty dips below 7,900
Falling for the second straight session, the benchmark BSE Sensex dropped by another 156 points (at 10am), while the NSE Nifty cracked the 7,900-mark in early trade today on sustained selling by funds and retail investors amid sluggish Asian cues.

Stocks of metal, FMCG, PSU, auto, healthcare, consumer durables and banking sectors leading the fall. The gauge lost 51.56 points in the previous session.

On similar lines, the National Stock Exchange Nifty dipped below the 7,900-level by falling 36.90 points, or 0.46 per cent, to 7,894.45. 

Brokers said selling by participants in recent gainers and a weak trend in other Asian markets, tracking overnight sell-off in the US markets on plummeting oil prices mainly dampened the sentiment.

Besides, manufacturing PMI, which fell to a 25-month low of 50.3 in November also added to the negative bias, they said.

Among other Asian markets, Japan's Nikkei moved down by 0.22 per cent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.62 per cent in early trade today. Shanghai composite index shed 0.32 per cent.
09:57   Rupee down 13 paise to 66.72 against dollar
The rupee fell by 13 paise to 66.72 against the dollar in early trade today due to fresh demand for the American currency from importers. 

Gains in the dollar against major global currencies, bolstered by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's signal that the US economy looks strong enough for an interest rate hike this month and a lower opening in domestic equity markets, weighed on the rupee, dealers said. 

The rupee had dropped 10 paise to end at 66.59 in yesterday's trade on renewed demand for the dollar from banks and importers amid higher greenback overseas. 
09:14   Assocham pegs Chennai floods losses at over Rs15,000 crore
The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India has estimated that the financial loss due to the rains may exceed Rs 15,000 crore with Chennai and several parts of Tamil Nadu coming to a virtual standstill after heavy rains and severe flooding.

"Unprecedented torrential downpour in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu has led to total chaos, thereby creating an atmosphere of uncertainty and panic not only for the trade, industry and other commercial activities but especially amid common individuals who are bearing heavy financial loss to their properties," said D S Rawat, secretary general of Assocham, in a statement.

Small and medium enterprises, automobile and engineering industries, information technology, ITeS, textile, tourism and a host of other sectors have been badly affected by the massive rainfall.

Assocham has urged the central government to immediately announce relief and rehabilitation package and come to the rescue of residents and the industry in Tamil Nadu in this hour of extreme crisis.
09:11   Juvenile in 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape case won't be released
Juvenile convict in the December 16 gangrape and murder case will not be freed for the time being. He will be put in jail and his movements will be watched upon.

Delhi Police had earlier been contemplating to book him under the stringent National Security Act. Senior police officers had met senior lawyers on November 22 and sought an opinion on the same. However, sources say that the counsel gave them an option that that NSA won't stand in court. The detention under National Security Act can be stretched for one year.

The convict, who is now 21, is likely to be released in December when he completes three years in the correctional home.

In September, an Intelligence Bureau report said that he had been radicalised by one of the suspect of the 2011 Delhi High Court blast. The report said that the teenager was being motivated for jihad.
09:08   Jayalalithaa to undertake an aerial survey of Chennai, other parts of TN today
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa will undertake an aerial survey of the flood-affected areas of Chennai city and its suburbs in Kanchipuram and Tiruvallur districts on Thursday.

A late-night statement issued in Chennai by the state government said she wanted to undertake the exercise on Wednesday, but could not do so because of the bad weather and the inability expressed by the pilots.

In the statement, she detailed the various steps taken by the government to tackle the situation in Chennai and other two districts and the relief and rescue operations being conducted.

She also disclosed that various ministers, including O Paneerselvam, have been deputed to take charge of the relief works in different districts.

Senior IAS officials have also been tasked to ensure that relief reaches the people in the worst-affected Chennai and other districts.
09:05   Over 100 boats, 7 more teams in Chennai: NDRF chief
Chennai rain update: 

* We now have more than 100 boats in action in Chennai and 29 teams present, says NDRF DG OP Singh, adding that seven more teams have reached Chennai, will evacuate more people and move them to safer places.

* 12163 Dadar-Chennai Egmore Express scheduled departure 2030 hours cancelled today; Up trains have been cancelled by Southern Railway.

* Some NDRF numbers have been leaked on social media. Please refrain from calling them and clogging lines, they are on their job.

03:50   Obama decries mass shootings, says 'no parallel anywhere else in world'
President Barack Obama decried what he called the "pattern" of mass shootings in the United States after an incident in California, and reiterated his call for tougher gun controls.

"The one thing we do know is that we have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world," Obama told CBS News. 

"There are some steps we could take, not to eliminate every one of these mass shootings, but to improve the odds that they don't happen as frequently."  
03:40   Air India launches first direct flight to Silicon Valley
Air India today launched its first non-stop flight to San Francisco which landed here connecting America's west coast with India and making Silicon Valley its fourth destination in the US.
The flight AI 173 from Delhi with 230 passengers on board landed here at 5:40 AM with airport traffic control tower lit in the Indian tricolour to welcome the maiden Air India flight to the city. The passengers applauded when the aircraft touched down.
A number of officials from the US and India, including Indian Consul General Venkatesan Ashok, attended a formal ribbon cutting ceremony to mark beginning of the services. 

"It is a remarkable day and today is a great day for Air India," Ashok told the gathering at the airport.

The city mayor's office declared this day as 'Air India Day', a symbolic gesture to celebrate the arrival of the first direct flight from India here.
With this non-stop flight to San Francisco from Delhi, Air India became the first domestic airline to provide a direct air connection to the US west coast.
02:34   Three dead in California shooting, up to 20 injured
Police are attending a shooting at a social services facility for disabled people in California.

Fire officials in San Bernardino said it was responding to a "20 victim shooting incident" and it was working to clear the scene.

According to news reports that there are 12 people dead but police have not confirmed that number.

It is still a "very active scene" and police are trying to secure the building, said a police spokeswoman.

There may be up to three gunmen, she said, and they were heavily armed and possibly wearing body armour.

Read more HERE.
02:05   Puducherry pounded by 83.4 cm rainfall in November alone
Union Territory of Puducherry, which would normally receive an average 76.7 cms of rainfall during north east monsoon (October to December), recorded as much as 83.4 cm rains in the month of November.
This was an unprecedented quantum of rainfall that Puducherry received in November alone, said a release from the office of Lt Governor A K Singh.

The release said that depression in Bay of Bengal has brought unprecedented rains and release of excess water from Sathanur and Veedur dams in the neighbouring Tamil Nadu districts had resulted in the water in Thamaraparani and Sankarabarani rivers in Puducherry flowing to capacity. 

It said the people living close to the river banks were evacuated to safer places.

The water level in the two major lakes in Bahoor and Oussudu here reached their full capacity.
01:18   UK Parliament to vote on expanded attacks on Islamic State
Prime Minister David Cameron appealed to lawmakers today to authorize the military to take part in airstrikes in Syria, insisting that Britain should help degrade and destroy the threat posed by the Islamic State
But on a day meant to convey national unity, Cameron struggled to even get through his opening remarks, as outraged opposition Labour Party lawmakers demanded he retract remarks reportedly made at a closed-door meeting in which he branded opponents a "bunch of terrorist sympathizers."

Lawmakers demanded an apology as the 10-hour debate got underway in the House of Commons, arguing the comment showed a lack of respect to those who disagreed with Cameron's policies.