Sat, 30 December 2017
US military to allow transgender recruits from Jan 1

Timeline  Refresh

21:03   US military to allow transgender recruits from Jan 1
The United States will start allowing transgender people to enlist in the military from January 1.

According to local media reports, the US Department of Justice withdrew its legal challenge to several federal court rulings that blocked the President Donald Trump from banning transgender people from enlisting in the US armed services.

Pentagon spokeswoman Heather Babb said in a statement that 'as mandated by court order, the Department of Defense is prepared to begin accessing transgender applicants for military service Jan. 1. All applicants must meet all accession standards'.

Trump made an announcement about the ban on Twitter in July and followed through with a memo in August.

Four lawsuits were filed against the ban, and so far, judges in three of them have said the ban cannot take effect while the cases work their way through the courts.

The judge in the fourth has not yet ruled, the report said.Outlining how the military will process transgender recruits, the Pentagon issued a memo on December 8, specifying what documents will be accepted to prove gender identity and which underwear they will be required to wear.

There are an estimated 250 transgender troops currently serving the United StatesArmed Forces, according to the media reports.  -- ANI
20:03   Cong MLA asks Nitin Patel to form govt in Gujarat with party's support
A senior Congress MLA today urged 'aggrieved' Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel to quit the Bharatiya Janata Party and join hands with his party to form a new government in the state with the help of the '10-15 MLAs' supporting him.

Virji Thummar, who was recently elected as an MLA from the Lathi constituency in Saurashtra's Amreli district, said Patel would be made the chief minister, with the Congress' support, if he came with the required number of BJP MLAs.

"They have taken away all the good portfolios from Nitinbhai Patel. His portfolios have been given to others. I would request Nitinbhai to come with 10-15 supporting MLAs and we (Congress) will support him from outside," Thummar told reporters.

"Let us work together for the benefit of farmers and development of Gujarat. I will tell him (Patel) as a friend that the BJP is only misusing him," he added.

The Congress, however, said Thummar's statement was made in personal capacity and called the political drama unfolding in the new Gujarat government the BJP's 'internal matter'.

"It is the BJP's policy to disregard its senior leaders and sideline them once they find them to be of no use. This has especially been the case with Patidar leaders like Keshubhai Patel, Anandiben Patel, Gordhan Zadaphia among others.

"It is now Nitin Patel's turn. Since we see the portfolio distribution as an internal matter of the BJP, we will not like to go further into it. As far as Thummar's statement is concerned, it is his personal opinion. We are watching the developments," state Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said.

Patel has reportedly expressed his displeasure to the BJP leadership over the portfolios alloted to him in the new Gujarat government.

The deputy chief minister, who used to handle important portfolios like finance and urban development in the previous government, was allotted roads and buildings and health this time.

Meanwhile, lending support to Nitin Patel, Patidar leader Lalji Patel today called for a Mehsana 'bandh' (general strike) on January 1.

He also threatened to call for a state-wide bandh if Nitin Patel was not made the Chief Minister of Gujarat.

Lalji Patel, who is convener of the Sardar Patel Group (SPG) which had launched the Patidar quota agitation along with Hardik Patel-led Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, today called on the deputy chief minister at his official residence in Gandhinagar with dozens of supporters.

"The BJP is repeatedly doing injustice to Nitin-bhai Patel. Today I met him with supporters from Mehsana, and we have given a call for Mehsana bandh on January 1 in his support," Lalji Patel told reporters.

Nitin Patel is MLA from Mehsana, which has a sizable Patidar population and which was the epicentre of the quota agitation.   -- PTI
18:53   Sonia doesn't want to 'be disturbed' with party affairs now
Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi is taking complete rest in Goa.

She is cycling and exercising, even avoiding the SPG cover at times.

She has requested the SPG guards to be in plain cloths and conceal their weapons.

She does not want to get any phone call, nor is she interested in meeting her loyalists in the Congress in Goa.

She is doing this apparently as the old timers come to seek positions in the Rahul Gandhi-led party.

Some of them also complain against Rahul.

Sonia told a Congress leader and former Goa chief minister that she wants peacae, and she should not be disturbed.

"If you have any issues in the state, call up Rahul and brief him," was her message.
Front reception/entrance of restaurant '1Above' and Mojo's being demolished by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation in its drive against illegal structures in Kamala Mills area of Mumbai. Photograph: ANI
17:51   Palestine recalls Pak envoy for sharing stage with Hafiz Saeed
Palestine has decided to recall its Ambassador to Pakistan, Walid Abu Ali, for sharing stage with Hafiz Saeed, confirms Palestinian Ambassador to India Adnan Abu Al Haija. -- ANI

IMAGE: Palestinian envoy to Pak Walid Abu Ali with JuD chief Hafiz Saeed. Photograph: Kind courtesy @PAkMNAofficial/Twitter
17:09   Palestine 'regrets' envoy's presence at Hafiz Saeed's event
India has strongly conveyed to Palestine that the presence of its ambassador to Pakistan at an event of Jamat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed, also a United Nations-designated terrorist, is 'unacceptable', the External Affairs Ministry said today.

'The concerns were conveyed both in New Delhi to the Palestinian Ambassador and in Ramallah to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, State of Palestine,' the ministry said in a release.

It said the Palestinian side has conveyed 'deep regrets' over the incident and assured India that they are taking serious cognisance of their ambassador's presence at this event.

"They have said they will deal with this matter appropriately. It was also conveyed that Palestine highly values its relationship with India and stands with us in the war against terrorism, and will not engage with those who commit acts of terror against India," it said.

The government takes note of the assurances given by the Palestine side, it said.

Palestinian ambassador to Pakistan Waleed Abu Ali reportedly attended a rally organized by the Difah-e-Pakistan Council in Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi on Friday.

Difah-e-Pakistan Council is an association of religious and extremist groups in Pakistan, headed Saeed, also Mumbai terror attack mastermind.  -- PTI
16:00   Will vandalise theatres showing Padmavati, Karni Sena repeats threat
The Censor Board has decided to give UA certificate to Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Padmavati, albeit with changes.

However, the Rajput Karni Sena, which was opposing the film's release, is not pleased.

The Rajput body's member Sukhdev Singh Gogamedi has said that the film has been cleared 'under pressure from the underworld'.

"Our people will be outside cinema halls and each hall which shows the film will be vandalised. Members of the committee formed to review the film have opposed it but censor board is taking this decision due to underworld pressure," Gogamedi said.

Meanwhile, former CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani said, "The film faced so many controversies even before people saw it. This decision could have been taken before the film was opposed by people and political parties in several states."

"This film was sidelined by the CBFC and it raises question on the Censor Board. Producers suffered such huge losses because of the cuts. Vote bank politics has obviously been done, the film is being seen after elections. Chairman faced pressure from the ministry," Nihlani said.  -- ANI

Photograph: ANI
15:38   Centre orders probe into death of Kargil martyr's wife for lack of Aadhaar
MoS Health Ashwini Kumar Choubey on Saturday declared that a probe would be conducted by the health ministry into the death of a Kargil martyr's wife, who died at a private hospital in Haryana's Sonipat.

He added that all states were asked to implement the 'Clinical Establishments Act' to avoid such incidents in future.

"The state government should take this matter seriously. Our ministry will conduct a probe into it. The Centre has also asked all states to implement 'Clinical Establishments Act' which will help us reduce such incidents," Ashwini Kumar Choubey told ANI.

The wife of a Kargil braveheart died at a private hospital in Haryana's Sonipat after allegedly being denied treatment due to non-availability of Aadhaar Card, on Friday.

The hospital authorities, however, denied the allegations levelled by the victim's son saying that the patient never got to the hospital, and that Aadhaar card was mandatory only for the documentation process and not for treatment.  -- ANI
14:16   Censor Board clears Padmavati with cuts, wants title changed
JUST IN: The Central Board of Film Certification had an examining committee meeting on December 28 to review Padmavati.

The board has decided to give it U/A certificate, along with some modifications and a likely change of the title to the film.

The certificate to be issued once required and agreed modifications are made.

'The film was approached with a balanced view, keeping in mind both the filmmakers and society. Considering complexities and concerns around the film the requirement for a special panel was felt by the CBFC to add perspective to the final decision,' the CBFC said in a statement.

'The special panel consisted of Arvind Singh from Udaipur, Dr Chandramani Singh and Prof K K Singh of Jaipur University. The panel members had insights and also some reservations regarding claimed historical events and socio-cultural aspects which were duly discussed at length,' the CBFC said. -- ANI

13:59   Sanjay Singh is AAP's first RS pick
JUST IN: The Aam Aadmi Party has decided to field Sanjay Singh as its nominee to the Rajya Sabha.

The AAP can get three RS members as it has 67 MLAs -- the other two names are likely to be announced today  evening.
13:32   Nitin Patel should leave BJP with 10 MLAs and join us: Hardik
Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti leader Hardik Patel has said that if Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel is not happy with the Bharatiya Janata Party, he should leave the party with 10 MLAs and join him.

Hardik said he will talk to the Congress to 'get Nitin Patel a good position'.

"If Gujarat Deputy CM Nitin Patel, along with 10 MLAs, is ready to leave the BJP, I will talk to the Congress to get him a good position," Hardik told ANI.

"If the BJP does not respect him, he should leave the party," Hardik said in Gujarat's Sarangpur.

Hardik's remarks come in the wake of the Gujarat deputy chief minister, having been stripped of three key portfolios -- finance, urban development and petroleum -- did not assume office in the Sachivalaya in Gandhinagar on Friday, even as many ministers took charge, the Times of India reported.  -- Agencies
13:18   BJP ready to move into new headquarters soon
The Bharatiya Janata Party is ready to move into their new national headquarters at Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg in New Delhi.

The five-storeyed building is ready.

In February 2018, the BJP's national executive meeting will be held in this new building.

The 11, Ashok Road bungalow, presently the party's national headquarters, will be surrendered to the government as it belongs to the Centre.

The structure of the new BJP headquarters was constructed in a record time of eight months.

It comprises of state of the art electronic gadgets, WiFi facilities, and modern auditorium etc.

The party plans to name the three halls of the building after Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Khushabau Thakre respectively.

Photograph: PTI Photo
12:20   Kargil martyr's wife denied treatment for want of Aadhaar, alleges son
Wife of a Kargil braveheart died at a private hospital in Haryana's Sonipat after allegedly being denied treatment due to lack of Aadhaar.

The son of the deceased woman alleged that he brought her ailing mother to the hospital for the treatment but the hospital refused to treat her as he did not have the original copy of the Aadhar card.

"I brought my mother in a serious condition to the hospital. They asked me to get the Aadhaar card, but I didn't have it then so I showed them a copy in my phone. I said that I will get Aadhaar in an hour or so, meanwhile begin with the treatment but the hospital refused to do so," he told ANI.

However, the hospital authorities denied the allegation leveled by the victim's son saying that the Aadhaar card was mandatory only for documentation process and not for treatment.

"We never denied them treatment. Please note that he never got the patient to the hospital. We have never stopped any treatment due to Aadhaar card ever," said the doctor of the hospital.

Reacting to the news, father of Kargil martyr Captain Vijayant Thapar, Col V N Thapar (retd) condemned the denial of treatment to the woman and said incidents like these were a blow to the morale of the armed forces.

"These are the kind of things that hit the morale of the armed forces. I hope the Haryana government and the Defence Ministry take note of this and take an action against this erring hospital," Thapar told ANI, adding that a soldier dies in a battle for the security of the people and 'he knows that his wife and children will be taken care of'.

Expressing shock over the news, Thapar remarked, "Leave aside the Kargil martyr or a martyr's wife but even from the humanitarian angle, if a person requires treatment, can't we give it? We've become so indifferent to human life!"

Daughter of another Kargil martyr Major C B Dwivedi said, "Can't imagine it happened. It makes me scared for my family. We have ECHS benefits but connecting it to Aadhaar card and submitting a copy of it is ridiculous."   -- ANI
11:12   Morning after blaze, BMC targets illegal structures at restaurants
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has taken action against restaurants with unauthorised constructions, following the fire at Kamala Mill Compound.

A BMC spokesperson said civic teams demolished illegal structures in Kamala and Raghuvanshi Mill Compound. Ward officials said the demolitions will continue on Saturday. Seven open-air restaurants were under the ward officials scanner, including 1 Above and Mojos Bistro, which were gutted on Friday.

The BMC will also carry out an extensive audit of major eateries in the city ahead of New Years Eve.

Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta has directed all ward-level assistant commissioners and zonal deputy municipal commissioners to form a team of officials from the Building and Fire departments, and medical officers from the Health department to inspect all restaurants and ensure they comply with fire safety regulations laid down.
10:50   Probe on to ascertain what caused Mumbai pub blaze
A day after a devastating blaze at a central Mumbai pub claimed 14 lives, fire brigade officials today said it was probing whether flames during a fire stunt by a bartender, burning coal used for hookah or a short circuit led to the tragedy.

The blaze had started after 12.30 am on Friday at the '1 Above' pub on the terrace of Trade House Building in Kamala Mills compound in Lower Parel, a commercial hub, resulting in collapse of its bamboo-propped canopy. The fire, which left several people injured, also engulfed Mojo's Bistro, a pub a storey below. Most of the 14 victims died of asphyxiation.

"We are probing if the flames created during a fire stunt by a bartender at the pub came in contact with plastic sheets that covered the bamboo structure and triggered the blaze. We are also trying to find out whether the burning coal used for hookah at the adjacent restaurant led to the tragedy," a fire official said.

All other possibilities, including that of short circuit is also being probed, he added.

-- PTI
10:39   Rashtrapati Bhavan turns secular with no carol, Diwali and iftar
For the first time in several years, carol singing in Rashtrapati Bhavan did not take place this year on Christmas. Though iftar was discontinued for five years when APJ Abdul Kalam was a resident of the majestic monument, carols were sung even then.

However, with President Ram Nath Kovind as present occupant of Rashtrapati Bhavan, carol singing did not happen.

This is a harbinger of things to take place for the next five years. It is for sure that iftar will also not be held in the Rashtrapati Bhavan during his tenure.

Iftar was discontinued in Rashtrapati Bhavan when Kalam was the president between 2002 and 2007. However, it was resumed when Pratibha Patil succeeded him. Her successor Pranab Mukherjee continued the tradition.

In all these years, carol was not sung only once. And it was an exception.

Pratibha Patil cancelled the traditional Christmas celebrations, which includes the singing of Christmas carols, in 2008 as a mark of respect for the victims of Mumbai terror attack on November 9. However, Rashtrapati Bhavan sent grocery items such as rice, sugar, dal and ghee to orphanages in Delhi on her behalf on the occasion of Christmas.

Christmas celebrations are just one of the many religious festivities that take place in the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Diwali, Raksha Bandhan and Holi are some of the other festivals which are celebrated in the president's official residence.

However, iftar has a distinct place among all the religious celebrations. It is the only festival when the president hosts dinner for the dignitaries.

With Ram Nath Kovind as president, Rashtrapati Bhavan will skip all religious festivals.

Diwali celebrations did not take place this year though the monument was lit with multi-coloured LED bulbs. Carol singing was discontinued. Iftar will also not be held in most likelihood.
09:52   Crack in new Gujarat cabinet? Sulking deputy CM avoids office
All is not well in the newly inducted Vijay Rupani government. Signs of discontent were visible as deputy chief minister Nitin Patel, who suffered the ignominy of being stripped off three key portfolios - finance, urban development and petroleum - did not assume office in the Sachivalaya in Gandhinagar on Friday even as many ministers took charge.

Power corridors are abuzz with speculation that Patel, who was relegated to the post of deputy CM at the eleventh hour instead of the top post in 2016, is in no mood to put up with another embarrassment. Patel, who is learnt to have demanded finance and urban development portfolios this time too, feels he is being "cut to size", according to a close aide.

"The Dy CM, who had made his displeasure known to the top leadership over key portfolios being taken away from him on Thursday, was told that his grievance would be resolved in two days. Patel is adamant that if his bosses do not keep their word, he will quit on the grounds that his self-respect is being hurt," said a top source close to the development.

While Patel could not be reached for a comment, sources said that he is upset over multiple issues. His foremost grouse is being divested of the finance ministry, conventionally considered a preserve of the No 2 in the cabinet. His junior Saurabh Patel has been given the portfolio. Two other key portfolios, namely urban development and petroleum, held by the deputy CM were taken by Rupani himself.
09:16   Before the next Mumbai nightmare
As we all know, on the night of December 28, 14 people died as the result of a fire on the sixth floor of a building in Kamala Mills, in a restaurant called One Above. As luck would have it, it was not the fire which destroyed the entire premises and the roof that killed the 14. What did them in was the carbon monoxide poisoning secondary to smoke inhalation, which suffocated them. Mick Mayers, who spent 30 years working intimately with fire, tells us, If I were caught in a fire, I would hope the CO got me first. Its a painless way to die. What does one say to those victims who died in this man-made, unforgiveable tragedy? Bless your stars that you died because of CO poisoning and not the fire?

The 14 people who opted to dine at One Above were, ironically, packed off to meet the One Above who stays, it is rumoured, up in heaven. The question is: Who sent them there? Make no mistake, it was the august body which sits in that Victorian architectural masterpiece next to the Central Railway terminus in South Mumbai. 

Read more HERE
08:57   To protest Jadhav's ill-treatment, BJP neta sends footwear to Pak high commission
A Delhi BJP leader today ordered footwear online and gave the address of the Pakistan high commission here for its delivery to protest against the ill-treatment meted out to the mother and the wife of death row convict Kulbhushan Jadhav, who is lodged in a Pakistani jail.

The two women visited Pakistan recently and were forced to remove their mangalsutra, bindi, bangles and footwear by the Pakistani authorities before they were allowed to meet Jadhav through a glass screen.

Delhi BJP spokesperson Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga bought the footwear online and gave the address of the Pakistan High Commission for its delivery.

"Pakistan wants our slippers. Let's give them slippers. I have ordered slippers and sent to Pakistan High Commission," he tweeted.

He also launched an online campaign requesting the "nationalists" to send slippers to Pakistan.

"Over a hundred people sent footwear to Pakistan High Commission within a few hours after I did it," he claimed.

Jadhav's mother and wife met him on Monday inside the Pakistan Foreign Office building in Islamabad under unusual circumstances -- he was separated from the two women by a glass screen, and they conversed through an intercom.

In identical statements in both houses of Parliament, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said there was "serious and gross violation of human rights of the family members of Jadhav", who is on death row in Pakistan for alleged spying.

She flayed Pakistan for presenting the two women as "widows" during the meeting, and accused Islamabad of turning an emotional moment into "an instrument to further its propaganda."

-- PTI
08:33   26/11s baby Moshe, Benjamin Netanyahu to visit India in January
Nine years after two-year-old Moshe Holtzberg left Chabad House in Mumbai, after his parents were killed in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, he is likely to visit the city mid-January, during Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahus visit to India. In a balancing act, South Block is working towards scheduling Prime Minister Narendra Modis trip to Palestine in February within a month of Netanyahus visit.

Modi had met Moshe in Jerusalem in July this year, when he visited Israel. The 11-year-old boy, in an emotional meeting with Modi at the historic King David Hotel, had said, I want to ask you something from all of us: Please continue to love me forever. Thank you. And always remember my parents. I live in Afula, but I remember our connection to Nariman House I hope I will be able to visit Mumbai and when I get older, I live there.

Following that conversation, the Indian embassy in Tel Aviv, in August, issued 10-year multiple entry visas to the young Israeli survivor of the Mumbai terror attacks, Moshe, and his grandparents. 

Sources said that his trip to India would be one of the highlights of Netanyahus visit. Moshe was just two when his parents, Rivka and Gavriel Holtzberg, serving as emissaries of Chabad in Mumbai, were killed along with six others by terrorists at the Nariman House, also known as Chabad House.

Besides Delhi, Netanyahu, who will be accompanied by his wife, will visit Agra to see the Taj Mahal, and will also go to Ahmedabad, Mumbai. Modi is likely to accompany him for the Ahmedabad-Mumbai leg of the visit.
07:59   India miffed as Palestine envoy shares stage with Hafiz Saeed
India will strongly take up with Palestine the issue of its ambassador in Pakistan attending a rally organised by Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief and 26/11 Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed.

"We have seen reports in this regard. We are taking up the matter strongly with the Palestinian ambassador in New Delhi and with the Palestinian authorities," external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

He was reacting to a query on reports and photographs of the Palestinian ambassador participating in the rally.

According to reports, Palestinian ambassador in Islamabad Walid Abu Ali attended a large rally organised by the Difa-e-Pakistan Council in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

Difa-e-Pakistan (Defence of Pakistan) Council is an alliance of Islamist groups in Pakistan, including Saeed's outfit. 
00:04   After instant talaq, now Muslim women seek ban on polygamy
After the Lok Sabha passed the contentious bill on instant triple talaq, the development was hailed by several Muslim women involved in judicial war against the practice, with a rider that the government should
have also banned polygamy.
The women, including those who waged the war against the archaic practice in the Supreme Court, said with the passing of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill in the lower House, "a new beginning has been made" and it will prove to be a deterrent for the husbands from saying talaq-e-biddat to their wives.
They said the new law should have also banned the practice of polygamy among Muslim men which, they said, was "more worse than triple talaq."
The women, advocate Farah Faiz, Rizwana, Razia, who were associated in the fight against triple talaq and polygamy in the apex court, expressed satisfaction that at least "a start" has been made by the present NDA dispensation.
The same opportunity had come in 1985 when the Shah Bano case happened, but was lost by the then Central government, they claimed.
"A new beginning has been made which would protect Muslim women from immoral practice of nikah halala," said Faiz, whose view was shared by Rizwana and Razia with a slight variance.
'Nikah halala' is a practice intended to curb incidence of divorce. Under this, a man cannot remarry his former wife without her having to go through the process of marrying someone else, consummating it, getting divorced, observing the separation period called 'Iddat' and then coming back to him. 

Rizwana and Razia were of the view that the government should have dealt with the issue of polygamy by banning it in the same bill.
"I welcome the move but now men will take undue advantage of the law and indulge in polygamy openly as it is still in practice. With polygamy still in practice, abolition of triple talaq cannot alone not help us," said 33-year-old Rizwana, a victim of polygamy.
Razia, 24, whose husband divorced her over phone citing birth of daughters as the reason behind it, hailed the law brought by government and hoped that women like her would get justice.
Married at the age of 16, Razia said, "I was given triple talaq by my husband on phone as he did not want to bring up our two daughters. Triple talaq is a crime and has spoilt many lives. I pray that all women like me get justice with this new law. However, I wish that the practice of polygamy is also banned."
Advocate Chandra Rajan who had represented All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board also hailed bringing of the legislation and said it would go a long way in history. 

"If this new law is implemented in true spirit then it will go a long way and prove to be a deterrent for the husbands from saying 'talaq-e-biddat' to their wives," she said. -- PTI