Thu, 12 May 2016
UK Supreme Court blocks damages for Iraqi civilians

Timeline  Refresh

23:55   UK Supreme Court blocks damages for Iraqi civilians
Britain's Supreme Court has blocked damage claims brought by hundreds of Iraqi civilians who allege they were mistreated by British soldiers Iraq between 2003 and 2009. 

The decision affects claims by more than 600 Iraqi citizens, who sued the Ministry of Defense in England. 

The justices held that the civilians should have brought their claims within a three-year deadline specified under Iraqi law. 

Britain participated in the American-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein.
23:28   Aid convoy to Syria's besieged Daraya refused entry: Red Cross
An aid convoy was refused entry to Syria's Daraya today, the Red Cross said, dashing hopes for the first such delivery since regime forces began a siege of the rebel-held town in 2012.
"Sadly our aid convoy with UN and Syria Red Crescent was refused entry to Daraya, despite being given prior clearance from all sides," the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Twitter.
"We urge the responsible authorities to grant us access to Daraya, so we can return with desperately-needed food & medicines" outside the capital Damascus, it said.

ICRC's Syria chief Marianne Gasser, who was part of the convoy, described the refusal of access as tragic. 
23:27   Mass leafleting campaign set for Brexit referendum
All British households will receive an information booklet starting next week outlining the main arguments for and against EU membership ahead of a June referendum, electoral officials said today.
The brochure is part of a voter registration drive and also contains a copy of the ballot paper with the question: "Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?".
On one page the Britain Stronger In Europe campaign listed its main points, including a stronger economy, leadership on the world stage, the ability to fight cross-border crime and EU-linked jobs.
23:03   Thousands of Arabs march for Palestinian return in Israel
Thousands of Arab Israeli protesters marched in favour of a right of return of millions of Palestinians today, the same day Israel celebrated its

The Israelis of Palestinian origin were seen carrying Palestinian flags and others holding up signs demanding the right to return for refugees at the rally in the Negev desert.

Organisers said it was the first time such a demonstration has been held in the Negev.

Israeli Jews, in contrast, celebrated in public parties in two very different sets of reactions to the 68th anniversary of Israel's founding.
Israelis hail independence day as what they call the reformation of the Jewish state.
22:49   Tests show chinkara was killed: Prosecution in Salman case
The prosecution today told the Rajasthan high court the Salman Khan case that blood samples and hair strands collected by the Forensic Science
Laboratory team from two spots showed that the animal killed was an endangered chinkara.

Additional Advocate General KL Thakur told Justice Nirmaljit Kaur that the FSL team had collected samples of blood-soaked soil from Ujalia Bhakar where a chinkara was allegedly killed by the actor in 1998.
The team had also collected hair strands from Ghoda Farm in Mathania, around 40 kms of Jodhpur, where the carcass was allegedly cleaned, he said. 
22:12   Corruption leads to extremism, says Cameron
British Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday described corruption as a "cancer" at the heart of the world's problems which also drove people towards extremism.

"If we want to see countries escape poverty and become wealthy, we need to tackle corruption. If we want countries that have great natural resources to make sure that they can use those for the benefit of their people, we need to tackle corruption," Cameron said while speaking at the first two-day anti-corruption summit in London.
"If we want to defeat terrorism and extremism, we have to recognise that corruption and lack of access to justice can often be the way that people are driven towards extremism. Corruption is the cancer at the heart of so many problems we need to tackle in our world," Cameron said. 
His views were echoed by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who said: "Corruption, writ large, is as much of an enemy because it destroys nation states as some of the extremists we're fighting".
Kerry said that in his global travels he had been "shocked by the degree to which he have found corruption pandemic in the world today.
"Corruption writ large is as much of an enemy, because it destroys nation states, as some of the extremists we're fighting," he said.
The summit is part of Cameron's attempt to lead a wider global effort to crack down on corruption.
The UK government announced that foreign firms that own property in the UK must declare their assets publicly in a bid to stamp out money-laundering.
21:38   Pilots can secure licences online from June 15
Securing a pilot's licence is now going to be just a click away as the aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation is likely to make completely online 18 major services of the 162 identified as part of the e-GCA project.
Majority of these relate to approvals including for flight safety procedures, training and licensing, engineering and flight operations, among others.
E-Governance for Civil Aviation envisages online service delivery, automation of the systems and processes at the back-end and implementation of required IT infrastructure and service delivery framework.
As many as 18 services including the process of securing pilot's licence is set to go online from June 15 as part of the first phase of the e-GCA project, a senior Civil Aviation Ministry official said on Thursday.
As of now, majority of these functions are either manual or partially online.
21:21   Allot Adarsh flats to widows of Kargil war heros, demands NGO
An NGO on Thursday demanded that flats of Adarsh cooperative housing society -- which is facing demolition in keeping with a Bombay high court order -- be re-allotted to widows of Kargil war heroes who had sacrificed their lives for the nation.
Members of "Bharat Against Corruption" , led by its president Hemant Patil, on Thursday gathered near Adarsh society tower at Colaba in south Mumbai to stage a demonstration but withdrew their protest when police told them that section 144 of CrPc -- which prohibits assembly of ten people in an area -- was in force.
Patil and other members of the NGO were then taken to Azad Maidan police station and later let off.
Speaking to reporters, Patil demanded that the Maharashtra government should file an appeal in the Supreme Court against the Bombay high court order which had recently asked the Centre to demolish Adarsh society as it was illegally built upon the plot of land.
The land was to be allotted to war widows and hence the allotment to bureaucrats and others was illegal, Patil told PTI.
The Bombay HC, on April 29, had ordered demolition of the 31-storey scam-tainted Adarsh tower and sought criminal proceedings against politicians and bureaucrats for "misuse" of powers, holding that the building was illegally constructed.
New Delhi is no longer the world's most polluted city, but India continues to afflicted by air pollution, being home to 10 out of 20  cities with the worst air pollution levels, according to new data from the World Health Organisation.
KBK Newsgraphics
21:09   Uddhav Thackeray discharged after undergoing angiography
Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray was on Thursday discharged from the Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai after he underwent angiography.
Thackeray underwent the procedure on Wednesday in a follow-up to the angioplasty which he had had on July 20, 2012, when doctors put in eight stents to remove the constrictions for multiple blockages in three main arteries in his heart.
He underwent second angioplasty in November 2012 to remove the blockages in the left anterior descending artery, which was blocked by almost 60 per cent.      

His son and Yuva Sena chief Aditya Thackeray said, "On Wednesday, Uddhavji underwent a routine health check up and with your prayers, the reports are absolutely fine."
"Contrary to some media reports about 'exhaustion' (requiring the hospitalisation), it was a pre-planned check up," he said.
"We do an angiogram usually one-two years from the angioplasty to make sure the stents are working...The same procedure was followed for Uddhav," said Dr Mathew Kalarical of the Lilavati Hospital.
"All the stents are working with normal blood flow and arteries. It means he can get back to normal active life without any restrictions," he added. 
20:41   British government announces major overhaul of BBC
Britain today announced a major overhaul of public service broadcaster BBC to keep it "at the very heart of British life" amid fears that the government was threatening the independence of the 94-year-old institution.
The changes unveiled in a new white paper presented in the House of Commons by UK Culture Secretary John Whittingdale include plans to trial a subscription-base model over the years as well as have more differentiated programming aimed at specific audiences, including ethnic minorities.
The minister told MPs that the government is "emphatically not saying the British Broadcasting Corporation should not be popular" but would introduce a new requirement to provide "distinctive content" rather than just pursue ratings.
"The BBC is and must always remain at the very heart of British life. We want the BBC to thrive, to make fantastic programmes for audiences and to act as an engine for growth and creativity," said Whittingdale.
"Our reforms give the BBC much greater independence from government in editorial matters, in its governance, in setting budgets and through a longer charter period.
"These reforms will assist the BBC to fulfil its own stated desire to become more distinctive."
"The BBC will operate in a more robust and more clearly defined governance and regulatory framework and it will be more transparent and accountable to the public it serves, who rely on the BBC to be the very best it can possibly be, so it can inform, educate and entertain for many years to come," he said.
20:04   Pak army chief awards death sentence to 5 terrorists
Five "hardcore" Pakistani militants have been handed down the death penalty by military courts for committing heinous terror offences and the army chief on Thursday confirmed their sentences, a week after 11 Taliban
militants were given the capital punishment.
The army said in a statement that the five were tried and found guilty by the military courts which were set up soon after Peshawar school attack of December 16, 2014 for speedy trial of terrorists.
"Chief of Army Staff (General Raheel Sharif) confirmed death sentences awarded to five hardcore terrorists," the army said.
It further said that they were involved in Safoora Chowrangi bus attack, IED blast near Saleh Masjid, killing of a social worker, Sabeen Mahmud, and attacks on law enforcing agencies.
All these terrorist attacks took place in Karachi. At least 45 minority Ismaili Muslims were killed in the Safoora Chowrangi attack in Karachi.
45 people, including 26 men and 17 women, were killed and 20 others were wounded while they were travelling in a passenger bus, run by a welfare service of the Ismaili community.
The convicts include Tahir Hussain Minhas, Saad Aziz, Asad ur Rehman, Hafiz Nasir and Muhammad Azhar Ishrat.

After endorsement of their deaths by the army chief, the last legal hurdle in the way of hanging has been crossed.
20:04   Cong to give privilege motions against Swamy, Parrikar in RS
Going on the counteroffensive, the Congress will be giving privilege motions against Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in Rajya Sabha on Friday accusing them of "lying blatantly" during the AgustaWestland debate.
The All India Congress Committee also announced that the party will file defamation case against a US-based website,, whose material was used by Swamy in Rajya Sabha debate. It alleged that the
website is linked to the Sangh Parivar.
Friday is the last day of the Upper House during the current session.
Congress spokesman Jairam Ramesh told reporters that both Swamy and Parrikar have "blatantly lied" in Parliament by creating a "web of deceit" in front of the people.
Noting that the defence minister authenticated documents in Lok Sabha, he claimed it was not the judgement of the Italian court.
Insisting that the Italian judgement has nothing, he claimed there is "no accusation against the Congress leadership" in the verdict.
"It is a lie that the Italian judgement has indicted the Congress leadership.
"Swamy has made baseless allegations. He said he was reading from the Italian judgement," Ramesh said, adding the BJP leader authenticated a 13-page document in Rajya Sabha, which consists of two pages of an email from "Swamy to Swamy", a news report and nine pages from the website.
"Swamy has spoken big lies in Rajya Sabha on May 4 and has used false documents. We will not allow him to go scot free. The duo of Swamy and Parrikar have attempted to mislead the nation, for which they will have to pay the price," said Ramesh.
19:35   Donald Trump will not be president: George Clooney
Donald Trump may be the presumptive Republican nominee but Hollywood superstar George Clooney is confident that he will not be elected as the next United States president.
Clooney, 55, currently at the Cannes Film Festival to promote his upcoming release "Money Monster", has criticised Trump in the past too.
"There's not going to be a president Donald Trump. It's not going to happen because fear is not going to be something that drives our country," the actor said at the Cannes press conference.
"Trump is actually a result of much of the news programs (that) didn't follow up and ask questions. It is so easy because your numbers go up when you can just show an empty podium and say 'Trump is about to speak.' 24-hour news doesn't mean you get more news, it means you get the same news more," he added.
19:33   Petition in SC seeks decommissioning of Mullaperiyar dam
A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking decommissioning of the Mullaperiyar dam which has been a matter of decades-long legal battle between Kerala and Tamil Nadu, saying its structure is weak.
The petition filed by advocate Russel Joy claimed that the weakness of dam is an infringement of the fundamental right of security for the life and property of people living in the downstream in case of any catastrophe.
"An expert committee with international expertise must be formed to examine the dam and decommission it. We should form a committee as per the American Federal guidelines for dam safety," Joy said in a press conference.
He also flayed the 2006 SC-appointed empowered committee stating the absence of experts in the panel. 
The Supreme Court in its May 2, 2014 verdict had held that the dam, which is 120 years old, is safe and allowed Tamil Nadu to raise the water level to 142 feet.
The five-bench constitution bench had struck down a law promulgated by Kerala declaring Mullaperiyar dam as endangered and fixing the water level at 136 feet.
19:06   Japanese nationals fall ill at Kumbh mela
As many as 41 Japanese nationals visiting the Kumbh fair here took ill and were admitted to hospitals.

"Twenty-six Japanese nationals were admitted to our hospital," Mahavnagar area government hospital Dr Vinod Gupta said.

The rest were admitted to the government district hospital, he said, adding they suffered from vomiting, dehydration, uneasiness, fever and diarrhoea. They were discharged after their condition improved this morning, Dr Gupta said.
19:01   Spicejet fined Rs 10 lakh for offloading flyer with cerebral palsy
The Supreme Court directed budget airline Spicejet to pay Rs 10 lakh as damages to a flyer, suffering from cerebral palsy, who was forcibly offloaded in 2012, saying the manner in which she was de-boarded depicts "total lack of sensitivity".

The apex court noted that the disabled flier Jeeja Ghosh was not given "appropriate, fair and caring treatment' which she required with "due sensitivity' and the decision to de-board her was "uncalled for'.

"On our finding that SpiceJet acted in a callous manner, and in the process violated Rules, 1937 and Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR), 2008 guidelines resulting in mental and physical suffering experienced by Ghosh and also unreasonable discrimination against her, we award a sum of Rs 10,00,000 as damages to be payable to her,' a bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and R K Agrawal said.

Pic: Actor Kalki Koechlin essayed the role of a person with cerebral palsy in the film Maragrita, With a Straw which earned her a National Award this year.
Just in: Congress to move privilege motion against BJP Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy. 
A R Rehman has offered rights for his song 'Ma Tujhe Salam' to IOA, says . IOA vice-president Tirlochan Singh.
18:18   Single bullet killed Aditya Sachdeva, says autopsy report
Just in: Postmortem report of Gaya road rage victim Aditya Sachdeva is out. Early reports say that he was killed by a single bullet and that the shot was fired from a distance of over three feet.

Rocky Yadav, the son of ruling Janata Dal-United legislator Manorma Devi, is accused of killing teenager Aditya Sachdeva in Bihar's Gaya town. He has been remanded to police custody. While the Gaya Police said that Rocky had admitted to killing Aditya, Rocky has denied all charges and claimed that he was in Delhi when the incident occurred on Saturday night.

He had allegedly shot dead Aditya Sachdeva for overtaking his car on the Bodh Gaya-Gaya Road.

Aditya's parents have demanded a CBI probe into the murder.

Pic: Aditya Sachdeva's mother (lying down) has demanded a speedy trial and the death penalty for Rocky Yadav
17:51   US rebalance threatened with meltdown
The elections in the Philippines can be very funny. The candidates often try to connect with their electorate by taking recourse to singing and dancing. Cutting bawdy jokes and making funny faces or dressing outrageously comes very readily to politicians in their eagerness to get through to voters. There are no holy cows on the campaign trail in the Philippines.

Read MK Bhadrakumar's blog here.
Industrial production growth plunges to 0.1 per cent in March, compared to 2.5 per cent year ago.
17:33   Brazil Senate votes to impeach President Dilma Rousseff
Brazil's senators have voted to put President Dilma Rousseff on trial over allegations that she illegally manipulated the budget to hide a growing fiscal deficit.

After a marathon debate ending with a vote on Thursday, 55 of the 81 senators voted in favour of impeachment while 22 voted against.Rousseff will now be suspended from office and Vice President Michel Temer will take over for up to six months pending a decision on whether to remove her from office permanently.

Rousseff's presidency has been damaged by corruption scandals, political paralysis and a sharp economic downturn.
17:28   Will re-enact law to prevent NEET: Jaya in Tirunelveli
In a speech lasting over 30 minutes, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa told the huge rally in Tirunelveli that if re-elected, she will take action so that the state's medical students don't have to take the Supreme Court-mandated National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET). "If need be, I will enact a legislation to ensure this," she said.

In a speech that was devoted to highlighting the differences between the 'self-seeking' DMK government of M Karunanidhi and her own 'selfless' administration, Jayalalithaa also spoke of her plan to introduce Prohibition in the state. "We will start by cutting down the number of stores selling alcohol, shutting down bars attached to such shops, providing medical help to those affected by alcohol dependence, all leading to full prohibition."
At the time of writing this she is still talking up her government. 

Saisuresh Sivaswamy in Tirunelveli
17:19   Dawood IS in Karachi
CNN-News18 says it has secured clinching video evidence of Dawood Ibrahim's presence in Pakistan, a claim denied by Islamabad for 23 long years.

This evidence is proof of how Pakistan has sheltered India's most wanted terrorist. CNN-News18 investigation reveals that Dawood's presence in Karachi is common knowledge, which contradicts the constant denial by a series of governments in Pakistan of Dawood's base there.

Watch the 2-hour show at 8 pm on CNN-News18.
16:59   Mallika is a vision in red at Cannes
Mallika Sherawat tweets her way around Cannes: "On my way to the press conference for my upcoming international film #timeraiders wearing @dolcegabbana."

Sherawat, who has been a regular at the Cannes International Film Festival since 2010, is the first among the Bollywood brigade to walk the red carpet this year. The actress attended the Cafe Society premiere and the Opening Night Gala at the 69th annual Cannes Film Festival in France, which kicked off on May 11. Sherawat wore a Georges Hobeika gown which she teamed up with a diamond neck piece from Maison Mellerio. We must admit, she looked absolutely STUNNING!  Take a look at those pictures here.
North Goa Collector allows banks to take over Vijay Mallya's Kingfisher Villa in Candolim.
And this is the kit provided to all those attending Jayalalithaa's rally.An estimated 50,000 people are attending Amma's Thirunelveli rally. Saisuresh Sivaswamy/
16:32   All roads in Thirunelveli lead to Amma's rally
After holding 15 guerilla-style meetings across Chennai on Wednesday, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has just landed in a helicopter in Thirunelveli.

The ground opposite the district court has been filling up with people for more than an hour, the crowds easily seeming to touch a hundred thousand. There are buntings, floats, balloons, giant TV screens, old MGR songs being played, a huge phalanx of khaki-clad men and women.

It's blazing hot, a few deaths have already been reported in previous election meetings but for the zealous crowds, Amma is god, for whom they will willingly lay down their lives.

Every seat has a plastic bag containing a cloth cap bearing Amma's image, three pouches of water, a Britannia Marie biscuit packet, and a packet of Glucon D (no, not Amma brand, not yet at least). There's also a rubber arm band in the AIADMK colours.

The roads leading to the ground are lined with women offering 'mor' (buttermilk), water, some offer local snack varieties like chilli bajji. All gratis, for Amma loves her children Thirunelveli is in Southern Tamil Nadu. Saisuresh Sivaswamy/
16:23   Turkey recalls Bangla ambassador after Islamist leader hanged
Turkey today recalled its ambassador to Bangladesh for consultations after strongly protesting the execution in the country of a top Islamist leader, the state-run Anatolia news agency said.

Motiur Rahman Nizami, leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, was hanged at a Dhaka jail late Tuesday for the massacre of intellectuals during the 1971 independence war with Pakistan.

Turkey's ambassador to Dhaka, Devrim Ozturk, is due to arrive back in Turkey today, the news agency added. The Turkish foreign ministry had already strongly condemned the execution, saying it did not believe that "Nizami deserved such a punishment".

It said that Turkey, which has abolished capital punishment, feared that the use of such methods risked creating "rancour and hatred between our Bangladeshi brothers".
15:51   Rahman joins list of Olympic goodwill ambassadors
Oscar winning music composer A R Rahman today agreed to be the Goodwill Ambassador of the Indian Olympic contingent, joining cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar, ace shooter Abhinav Bindra and Bollywood star Salman Khan. Tendulkar, Salman and Olympic gold medallist Bindra had earlier accepted the role offered by the Indian Olympic Association.

The IOA said that it has also received an official written confirmation from Rahman. 'It's absolutely an honour and my pleasure to be a goodwill ambassador of the Indian contingent scheduled for August 2016,' Rahman said in a release issued by the IOA.

Welcoming Rahman on board, IOA Secretary General Rajeev Mehta said, "I would like to welcome AR Rahman on board as a goodwill ambassador of Indian contingent for Rio Olympics. It's our privilege to have the Oscar winning living legend-music composer on board to spread awareness and promote the Olympic movement."

"As per our plan to reach out to maximum people in the country for Olympic Sports, we are happy that Mr. Rahman has come forward from the field of music to support our athletes and we already have Salman Khan from Bollywood, Abhinav Bindra from Olympic Sports and Sachin Tendulkar from Cricket. I am sure Mr. Rahman will inspire our sportspersons."

There was a huge uproar after Salman was appointed Goodwill Ambassador ahead of other sporting luminaries. Former and current athletes were up in arms against Salman's appointment and demanded to know why someone from the field of sports was not named by the federation.
15:19   Mr Chandy, we paid for evacuating Indians from Kerala from Iraq, Libya, Yemen: Sushma
Kerala seeks apology from PM Modi, not silence: Oommen Chandy   

In an unseemly battle to take credit for the rescue and return of 29 Indians stuck in strife-torn Libya, the last weapon has been hurled by EAM Sushma Swaraj.

But first, the background.

Twenty-nine Indians, including six families from Kerala, rescued after being stranded in Libya, will return home in two days, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday.

"I have some good news for you. Six families from Kerala and three Tamil Nadu residents, who were stranded in Libya, will return home safely tomorrow or day after. In total 29 persons have been rescued," he told a BJP election meeting in nearby Tripunithura.

The BJP-led NDA government has been 'very proactive' whenever Indian nationals are in distress, he said referring to the rescue of nurses in libya and of Fr Prem from the clutches of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Today, Kerala CM Oomen Chandy responded to the PM's 'proactive government' spiel saying, the Kerala government had to "push the Centre to act. In fact, we paid for travel."

Hours later foreign minister Sushma Swaraj lent her voice to the war of words tweeting: "Mr Chandy - We evacuated thousands of Indians from Kerala from Iraq, Libya and Yemen. Who paid for them ?

"We always did this because this is our pious duty towards our citizens.

"Mr Chandy - You started this debate - as to Who paid ? Not me."

Chandy  has also demanded an apology from PM Modi for comparing Kerala with Somalia.

Pic: In April 2105, India launched Operation Rahaat to rescue Indians stranded in Yemen.
15:09   Sahara staffers pay their respects to Roy
Sahara Group staffers based in Rai Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, today paid their respects to their chairman, Subroto Roy, who was on his way to Allahabad to immerse the ashes of his late mother.

Roy's mother Chhabi Roy passed away last week from old age-related illnesses. She was over 90 years of age. 
14:56   Kerala seeks apology from PM Modi, not silence: Oommen Chandy
Prime Minister Narendra Modi owes an apology, not silence, to Kerala for comparing the state with Somalia, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said on Thursday.

"Modi left Kochi last night without withdrawing his remarks. Malayalees all over the world are upset over the remarks of the PM," Chandy said in a Facebook post.

He was referring to the prime minister's remarks made at election rallies he addressed for the BJP. "With the pride of the Malayalees deeply affected, none expected silence from PM. Instead what all thought was he would withdraw the statements and apologize. Keralites continue to expect that the PM would apologise," said Chandy.

Modi said on Sunday that "the child death ratio among Scheduled Tribes in Kerala is scarier than even Somalia" - provoking protests across the state.

Modi also cited media reports that said tribal children in Peravoor were seen foraging for food in a garbage dump to make his case that the state had not been properly governed.

Chandy said Modi's comparison of Kerala, whose high social indicators are widely acknowledged, with Somalia was absurd. After the protests, Modi was expected to retract his statement and apologize but he did not, Chandy said.

On Wednesday, Modi continued his attack on Kerala's Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF), without responding to criticism over his controversial remarks. Chandy earlier wrote to Modi urging him not to bring "disrepute" to the Prime Minister's Office by airing "baseless remarks" about Kerala.

The BJP, which has never won an assembly or Lok Sabha seat in Kerala, has been making a valiant attempt to defend Modi. 
14:30   Ministry won't interfere in Narsingh, Sushil issue
Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal today refused to be drawn into the raging controversy on the Olympic participation of wrestlers Sushil Kumar and Narsingh Yadav, saying he won't "interfere" in the matter and it has to be resolved by the Federation.

Narsingh had won the Olympic quota place in the 74kg category at the World Championships. But double Olympic-medallist Sushil, who missed the event owing to a shoulder injury, has insisted that a trial be held to determine who should ultimately represent India at the Rio Games.

"It is the Federation criteria that has to be followed. We can't interfere. They are autonomous body. It is the responsibility of the Federation," Sonowal said categorically at a ministry program.

Narsingh, who won the quota place with a bronze medal finish at the World Championship, asserts that he is the best in 74kg category and thus should compete. Sushil had won his two Olympic medals in the 66kg division and has upgraded after a revamp of the weight categories.
14:22   World's most polluted cities: Four out of top five (not Delhi) are in India!
India is home to four of the five cities in the world with the worst air pollution, the World Health Organization said on Thursday.

The Reuters report says that the dirtiest air was recorded at Zabol in Iran, which suffers from months of dust storms in the summer, and which clocked a so-called PM2.5 measure of 217. The next four were all Indian: Gwalior, Allahabad, Patna and Raipur.

New Delhi was the survey's ninth worst city, measured by the amount of particulate matter under 2.5 micrograms found in every cubic metre of air, with an annual average PM2.5 measurement of 122.Tiny particulate matter can cause lung cancer, strokes and heart disease over the long term, as well as triggering symptoms such as heart attacks that kill more rapidly.

But while WHO experts acknowledge India faces a "huge challenge", many countries are so bad that they have no monitoring system and cannot be included in its ranking.

The WHO says more than 7 million premature deaths occur every year due to air pollution, 3 million of them due to outdoor air quality.

New Delhi was ranked worst in 2014 with a PM2.5 reading of 153. It has since tried to tackle its toxic air by limiting the use of private cars on the road for short periods.

Maria Neira, head of public health, environmental and social determinants of health at the WHO, praised India's government for developing a national plan to deal with the problem when others have been unable to.

"Probably some of the worst cities that are the most polluted ones in the world are not included in our list, just because they are so bad that they do not even have a good system of monitoring of air quality, so it's unfair to compare or give a rank," she said.

Common causes of air pollution include too many cars, especially diesel-fuelled vehicles, the heating and cooling of big buildings, waste management, agriculture and the use of coal or diesel generators for power.

Pic: Gwalior fort in Gwalior. The city along with Allahabad, Patna and Raipur rank among the world's most polluted cities.

Koraon (Allahabad): A case has been registered against former PM VP Singh's nephew Vikram Singh for allegedly beating up his wife.
Ahead of the biopic's release tomorrow, Mohammed Azharuddin poses with Emran Hashmi (who plays him) and Prachi Desai. 
13:27   Brazil prez prepares to cede power to 'enemy' veeps
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff prepared today to cede power to her vice president-turned- enemy, Michel Temer, after a majority of the Senate backed suspending her and opening an impeachment trial.

With a marathon 17-hour debate continuing through the night ahead of a vote, the writing was already on the wall for Brazil's first female president. Only a simple majority of the 81-member Senate is required to suspend Rousseff for six months pending judgement on charges that she broke budget-accounting laws.
13:24   Sadhus open fire in akhara election
Just in: In Ujjain, Madhya Pradhesh, sadhus open fire during an election at the Avahan Akhara; four sadhus injured.
12:43   Raghuram Rajan unfavourable for India, send him back to US: Swamy
Subramanian Swamy, the newly minted Rajya Sabha MP who has triggered protests and has had his remarks expunged by the Chair has walked into another controversy today -- blaming RBI governor Raghuram Rajan for inflation and calling him unfavourable for India.

Speaking to reporters outside Parliament Swamy said, "Mujhe lagta hai RBI Governor hamare desh ke liye anukool nahin hain. (I feel the RBI governor is unfavourable for India.) The way he has raised interest rates saying that inflation will be curbed, the country has suffered because of this. Issey berozgaari badh gayi hai, usko jitna jaldi chutti karke Chicago bhej sakte ho, bhejna chahiye. Unemployment has increased because of this. The sooner he is sent back to Chicago, the better."  (Rajan used to be Prof of Finance at the University of Chicago).

He also said that Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian and 'others like him who have come from the US and have green cards' should be sacked.   

In another interview with Business World, Swamy said, "His (Rajan's) prescription is like that of a doctor who sees a patient in high fever and says that the only way I can bring down the temperature is to kill him. The only way you can bring down inflation is to kill the industry," Swamy added.
12:13   AAP's viral video leaves Badals with a headache
AAP leader Kumar Vishwas's song 'Ek Nasha' on drug abuse in Punjab has gone viral on YouTube and has got him a pat on the back from his boss, party chief Arvind Kejriwal.

The song, which was launched on Sunday, has upset the Badals in Punjab. It accuses the family ruling the state of selling sand and  trading heroin among other things. A line from the song goes, "Sukhbir Bana dukhbir jadon Prakash karne laga andhera (Sukhbir inflicted pain when Prakash spread darkness)."

Kumar Vishwas sings in Punjabi, "O Jat, Shun Drugs, Your Little Daughter Appeals To You." The video features lookalikes of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son and Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal.

Vishwas, a poet and a senior party leader has written, composed and sung the song. The song also talks about corruption in the police, farmer suicides, and advises listeners to take up the broom (the AAP's symbol) to clean the state.

This comes at a time when the state is readying to go to polls early next year. The songs are in Hindi and Punjabi and will be telecast on most of the TV channels in Punjab in the months to come.

Speaking to NDTV, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, said, "It is wrong to project the Jat community as drug addicts. Had they been so... how is that we produce so much foodgrain for the country? AAP is known for all this."

For once, AAP has hit where it hurts. A study conducted by AIIMS has found that opium based derivates worth Rs 75,000 crore are consumed by Punjab every year out of which heroin's share alone is Rs 65,000 crore.

Pic: A grab from the AAP video, Ek Nasha.
11:48   President cancels visit to Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi
President Pranab Mukherjee has cancelled his visit to the Kashi Viswanath Temple in Varanasi. He will aslo not be attending the morning aarti at the Varanasi ghat on Friday morning. The President will however attend the centenary celebrations of the Benaras Hindu University. The Reason for the cancellation of his visit to the Kashi Viswanath temple is not immediately known.

President Pranab Mukherjee will begin his two-day visit to Varanasi from today. He will today deliver a special lecture at BHU and according to a press release by the University, he will deliver the speech at Swatantrata Bhawan at 6 pm. Uttar Pradesh Governor Ram Naik will be the Guest of Honour and Chancellor of BHU, Dr. Karan Singh will preside over the function.
11:44   Morphed photo of Rajnath, Karat: BJP threatens to move court against OBrien
The BJP's West Bengal unit on Wednesday warned of legal action against Trinamool Congress national spokesperson Derek O'Brien for showing a "morphed' photograph of Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and CPM general secretary Prakash Karat, as the opposition party alleged that police were not taking action.

"We won't go to Lalbazar (Kolkata Police headquarters) again. We are taking the matter to court. The case will be filed by the end of this week or beginning of next week," senior BJP leader Jayprakash Majumder told reporters here.In a letter received at the state party office on Tuesday, the officer-in-charge of the cyber crime cell of Kolkata Police stated that a legal opinion is being obtained in the complaint lodged by the BJP on April 24.
11:35   Shashank Manohar elected unopposed as ICC chairman
Just in: Shashank Manohar has been elected unopposed as independent ICC Chairman. Manohar said he was looking forward to working with all stakeholders to shape the future of cricket, which has a proud history and rich tradition."

Manohar resigned as president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and chairman of the International Cricket Council (ICC) yesterday. When Manohar took over as BCCI president for a second term last October, days after the demise of then president, Jagmohan Dalmiya, he was designated as the ICC chairman. However, with the ICC set to revert to its old rule of not allowing its chief to hold a post in his/her home board, Manohar has stepped down.
11:19   Enter Parsi fire temple now, AIMIM leader challenges Trupti Desai
Hours after Bhumata Brigade president Trupti Desai entered the Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai and offered prayers, AIMIM leader Haji Rafat Hussain said he was happy that Desai came to the Dargah, but she shouldn't have come with police.

"Trupti Desai should now try and go to a Parsi temple, then we will know if she is fighting for justice or publicity," he said.

'Rights activist Trupti Desai on Thursday entered Mumbai's Haji Ali Dargah to offer prayers amid tight security, saying her struggle was for gender equality. "At the Dargah, I prayed that women be allowed to enter the inner sanctum, as was the case till 2011," Bhumata Ranragini Brigade chief Desai said, after coming out of the Dargah. "Police cooperated with us this time. This is a fight for gender equality. We will try to visit the inner sanctum next time," she said.

Desai and other women activists were earlier denied entry to the Dargah last month. Desai, however, warned the Dargah trustees of protest in 15 days if women are not allowed to pray where men do.

"We saw where we are allowed till and where men go till inside Dargah, in 15 days trustees should allow women in else we will protest," she said. 
11:10   Have been kept in the dark about developments in Chandigarh: Kher
Rumblings of discontent from Chandigarh MP Kirron Kher. In an interview to the The Indian Express yesterday, Kher said that the erstwhile set of officials in the administration had not informed or consulted her or about any development in the city or even about the functions of the government that were taking place here. She also alleged that she was not getting credit for the work that she implemented.  Read more
Uttarakhand Cabinet Meet chaired by Harish Rawat decides to implement all the decisions which were made earlier.
PM Narendra Modi has summoned AP governor ESL Narasimhan today to be briefed about the Andhra-Telangana issues.
10:53   ED requests Interpol to issue Red Corner Notice against Mallya
The Enforcement Directorate has requested Interpol to issue a Red Corner Notice against liquor baron Vijay Mallya. Yesterday, Britain had told India that, under its laws, Mallya cannot be deported.

Mallya, whose passport was cancelled last month, is wanted in India for over Rs 9400 crore in unpaid loans. New Delhi had formally requested London that he be deported, which is faster than the process of extradition under a treaty between two governments.
10:32   Body of man found hanging near Parliament
A 39-year-old man allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree near Parliament complex this morning.

The deceased has been identified as Ram Dayal Verma, a native of Shivpuri district in Madhya Pradesh.

The police have recovered a 30-page suicide note from his pocket, police said.

It was around 7.15 am that Verma's body was found hanging from a tree located between Rail Bhawan and the media parking centre near Vijay Chowk, close to Parliament.

An inquest has been initiated into the matter. Efforts are on to contact his relatives, police added.
JUST IN: 29 Indians evacuated from Libya, arrive at Kochi airport.Photograph: ANI
Posters depicting Nitish Kumar as Arjun and Sharad Yadav as Krishna seen in Varanasi ahead of Bihar CM's rally. Photograph: ANI
09:40   Rawat to hold first Cabinet meet after being reinstated
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat will hold his first Cabinet meeting today after being reinstated.

The Centre had yesterday revoked President's rule from Uttarakhand after Rawat-led Congress proved its majority on the floor of the House.

The Congress won by a margin of 33-28 in the floor test on Tuesday.
09:09   1 dead, 9 injured as giant wheel collapses at Chennai amusement park
One person was killed and nine others were injured in an accident in Chennai's Kishkinta Amusement Park on Wednesday evening.

According to reports, the mishap took place on a Ferris wheel and speculations are that it was due to some technical glitch.

The injured have been admitted to Deepam Hospital in the city's Tambaram area.

Seven of the injured persons are said to be amusement park employees.
JUST IN: 39-year-old man commits suicide at Vijay Chowk near Parliament by hanging himself from a tree. More details awaited. 
08:38   Debris found in South Africa, Mauritius 'almost certainly' from MH370: Malaysia
Two more pieces of debris discovered in South Africa and the Mauritian island of Rodrigues are almost certainly from the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 jetliner, Malaysia's transport ministry said on Thursday.

Based on a report from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said that the two pieces of debris are 'almost certainly' from MH370 that disappeared 2 years ago.

Earlier in March too, Australia and Malaysia had announced  that two pieces of debris found in Mozambique are 'almost certainly' from MH370.

Also read

Mozambique debris 'almost certainly' from missing MH370 plane

08:03   Trupti Desai finally gets entry into Haji Ali Dargah
Rights activist Trupti Desai today entered Mumbai's Haji Ali Dargah to offer prayers amid tight security, saying her struggle was for gender equality.

"At the Dargah, I prayed that women be allowed to enter the inner sanctum, as was the case till 2011," Bhumata Ranragini Brigade chief Desai said, after coming out of the Dargah.

"Police cooperated with us this time. This is a fight for gender equality. We will try to visit the inner sanctum next time," she said.

Desai and other women activists were earlier denied entry to the Dargah last month. After campaign for entry of women in Shani Shingnapur and Trimbakeshwar temples in Maharashtra, Desai had taken her movement for gender equality to the famous Dargah in Mumbai.

She was stopped short of going into the shrine on April 28 by protestors.
04:02   Obama honours Indian-American teacher
An Indian-American woman elementary teacher from Texas has been honored by US President Barack Obama at the White House for her excellent work in the field of education.
Revathi Balakrishnan, a gifted teacher at Patsy Sommer Elementary School, was also named 2016 'Texas Elementary Teacher of the Year'.
"It is not work for me. It is actually a passion," said 53-year-old Austin-based Balakrishnan who has taught in the district's talented and gifted programmes for nine years. 

Currently teaching math classes in third through fifth grade at Sommer, Balakrishnan, who was honoured last week, will now represent Texas in the 'National Teacher of the Year' competition.
"I'm an Indian-American, so I think the Indian community is feeling a lot of pride and joy," Balakrishnan said, adding that about 30 per cent of the students at 'Sommer Elementary' are Asian or Indian.
03:27   In new push, IS advances toward Syrian city of Palmyra
Islamic State militants advanced toward the Syrian city of Palmyra today, threatening to besiege the world-famous ancient site only several weeks after the government recaptured it from the extremists.
Media allied with the group and other activists said IS fighters seized a strategically located but deserted rocket-launching site close to an air base less than 60 kilometers (40 miles) from Palmyra.
For the government forces, the capture effectively severs a highway linking Palmyra to the government-controlled T-4 air base and the provincial capital Homs, threatening government supply routes.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and other activists confirmed the reported IS advance. The development comes after intense clashes with government troops near the air base, and a week after the extremist group advanced toward natural gas fields to the north.
03:10   UN peacekeepers asked to use force to 'save lives'
Rwanda and the Netherlands, two countries embroiled in the UN's worst peacekeeping failures, have launched a push at the United Nations for blue helmets to more readily use force to defend civilians in conflicts.
The initiative seeks to persuade countries that contribute troops to UN peacekeeping to agree to more robust action and more readily intervene instead of staying behind the high walls of their UN compounds.
"The blue flag needs to stand for protection and it doesn't always," Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders told the gathering at UN headquarters in New York yesterday. 

The failure of Dutch peacekeepers to defend Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica in July 1995 has been a source of shame for the Netherlands, which has recently returned to UN peacekeeping by sending troops to Mali. 
02:25   Italy overrules Church with green light for gay unions
Italy today joined the rest of the Western world in extending legal recognition to same-sex relationships with parliament overwhelmingly backing gay civil unions after a long battle to overcome opposition led by the Catholic church.
Lawmakers in the lower-house Chamber of Deputies voted 372-51 in favour of the legislation with 99 abstentions after an earlier vote of confidence in the government on the issue had been equally comfortably carried, making approval of the bill itself automatic.
The long-awaited and much-disputed legislation was hailed as a landmark but also criticised as falling short of full equality for gay couples, particularly in relation to adoption and marriage rights.
02:24   FBI head: Islamic State brand losing attraction in US
Fewer Americans are traveling to fight alongside the Islamic State and the power of the extremist group's brand has diminished in the United States, FBI Director James Comey said today.

The FBI encountered "6, 8, 10" Americans a month in 2014 and the first half of 2015 who traveled to the Middle East or attempted to go there to join the Islamic State, but that number has averaged about one a month since last summer, Comey said.

"There's no doubt that something has happened that is lasting in terms of the attractiveness of the nightmare which is the Islamic State to people from the United States," he told reporters during a wide-ranging round-table discussion today.
01:38   Syria regime strikes kill seven civilians
Syria's regime killed at least seven civilians, including a child, in air strikes today on an eastern part of the country held by the Islamic State group, a monitor said.
They died in "regime air strikes on the Shuhail district in the east of Deir Ezzor province targeting a health facility and other areas in the district", the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Dozens including children were wounded and the number of casualties is likely to rise, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.
IS controls most of oil-rich Deir Ezzor province, he said, as well as more than half of its provincial capital. 

Syria's war has killed more than 270,000 people and displaced millions since it started with the repression of anti-government protests in 2011.
The Britain-based Observatory relies of a wide network of sources inside Syria to gather its information.