Tue, 18 December 2018
Rs 1.17 cr food bill for Jayalalithaa's 75-day treatment at Apollo Hospital

Timeline  Refresh

23:41   Trump Foundation reaches deal to dissolve amid lawsuit
US President Donald Trump's charitable foundation reached a deal to dissolve while Trump fights allegations he misused assets for business and political purposes.
New York's attorney general and Trump Foundation lawyers filed a joint stipulation in a court laying out a process for shutting down the charity and distributing its remaining assets to other nonprofit groups.

Attorney General Barbara Underwood alleged in a lawsuit last spring that Trump had illegally operated the foundation as an extension of his businesses and his White House campaign.

 That lawsuit will continue, with Underwood seeking $2.8 million in restitution and a 10-year ban on Trump and his three eldest children running any charities.

"This is an important victory for the rule of law, making clear that there is one set of rules for everyone," Underwood said in a statement.
"We'll continue to move our suit forward to ensure that the Trump Foundation and its directors are held to account for their clear and repeated violations of state and federal law."
Trump had long pledged to dissolve the foundation and donate of its remaining funds to charity, but his lawyers said they were thwarted by the attorney general's office, which wanted oversight over the process. Foundation officials first announced their intention to shut down more than a year ago.
23:19   Rs 1.17 cr food bill for Jayalalithaa's 75-day treatment at Apollo Hospital
When late chief minister J Jayalalithaa was under treatment for 75 days at Apollo Hospital in the city, the food served to her alone cost a whopping Rs 1.17 crore.

Documents submitted by Apollo Hospital before the inquiry commission, probing the death of the former chief minister, revealed that the huge food bill. The total cost of her hospitalisation amounted to Rs 6, 85, 69, 584, of which Rs 44.46 lakh is still outstanding, according to the bill summary submitted by the hospital.

Jayalalithaa was admitted to the hospital on September 22, 2016 and died on December 5, 2016.

The AIADMK had claimed that it had paid Rs 6 crore to the hospital on June 15, 2017and Rs 41 lakh earlier on October 13, 2016, but the hospitals bill summary shows that there is still an outstanding amount. Then, the AIADMK had maintained that the party would not use tax payers money but rather foot the bill from the partys treasury.

Of the total cost, the hospital had charged a consultation fee of Rs 71 lakh, Rs 1.92 crore for health services while medicines accounted for Rs 38 lakh. Rs 92 lakh was charged for the services of Dr Richard Beale from UK and another Rs 12 lakh for the physiotherapy services from Mount Elizabeth Hospital, Singapore.

Room rent alone was Rs 1.24 crore.

Constituted in September last year, a one man panel of Justice (retired) A Arumughaswamy has so far examined over 130 witnesses, including IAS and IPS officers, doctors and staff of Apollo Hospitals as well as Jayalalithaas personal aides at her Poes Garden residence. Apollo Hospitals has submitted to the panel voluminous records pertaining to the treatment given to the late leader.
23:03   Pakistan violates ceasefire along LoC in J-K's Poonch
Pakistani troops Tuesday violated ceasefire along the Line of Control in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir by resorting to unprovoked firing on forward posts, officials said.
The firing by Pakistani troops from across the LoC attracted strong and effective retaliation by the Indian Army, they said.
The officials said there was no immediate report of any casualty.
The ceasefire violation was first reported in Digwar sector late this evening and later spread to Kerni sector, they said.

The exchange of firing between the two sides was still going on when last reports were received, they added.

-- PTI
22:32   Vajpayee's portrait to be installed in central hall of Parliament
A life-size portrait of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is set to be installed in the central hall of Parliament, sources said.
A parliamentary panel comprising leaders of various parties unanimously agreed to install a portrait of the BJP veteran. The proposal was mooted by Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and Narendra Singh Tomar.

The committee on installation of portraits/statues of national leaders and parliamentarians in Parliament house complex, headed by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, which met here, unanimously agreed to the proposal, parliamentary sources said.

Portraits of 22 personalities, including Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Indira Gandhi, Syama Prasad Mukherjee, Vinayak Damodar (Veer) Savarkar, Rajiv Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri, are installed in the central hall, where the President addresses joint sitting of Lok Sabha and Rajaya Sabha at the beginning of the first session of the year.

Floral tributes are paid to all those leaders whose portraits are installed in the Central hall on their birth and death anniversaries, by various leaders including the President, Prime Minister and leaders of opposition of both houses.

The meetings of constituent assembly to frame the Constitution were held in the historic hall.   

Born on December 25, 1924, Vajpayee passed away on August 16.

-- PTI
22:18   Trump wishes Michael Flynn 'good luck' before sentencing for lying to FBI
Donald Trump has wished Michael Flynn, his first national security secretary, good luck just hours before Flynn is due to be sentenced for lying to federal investigators about his conversations with a Russian ambassador.

Good luck today in court to General Michael Flynn, Trump tweeted. Will be interesting to see what he has to say, despite tremendous pressure being put on him, about Russian Collusion in our great and, obviously, highly successful political campaign. There was no Collusion!

Special counsel Robert Mueller, with whom Flynn struck a plea deal and cooperated in 19 interviews over one year, is investigating alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives.

Appearing relaxed, Flynn entered the federal courthouse in Washington DC at about 10am as a line of media, lawyers and observers awaited admittance to courtroom 24 for the sentencing hearing.

Flynn is scheduled to be the first former White House aide to be sentenced in the Russia investigation. Former Trump aide Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison last week, while former aide Paul Manafort awaits sentencing on felony fraud and money laundering charges. Sentencing guidelines recommend a maximum of six months for Flynn.

As part of his plea deal, Flynn admitted he had lied to FBI agents about discussing US sanctions on Russia with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador at the time, during the presidential transition. Flynn also denied conversations he had with Kislyak about a UN security council resolution condemning Israel.
21:44   Stalin's proposal to project Rahul Gandhi not necessarily alliance's opinion
Reacting on DMK president M K Stalin's proposal to project Congress president Rahul Gandhi as the prime ministerial candidate for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, SP supremo Akhilesh Yadav said Tuesday it was not necessarily the alliance's opinion.
Talking to reporters after unveiling a statue of his father and legendary Tamil leader M Karunanidhi in Chennai on December 16, Stalin had "proposed" Gandhi's name for the opposition's prime ministerial candidate.

"The people of the country are unhappy with the BJP and that it why the Congress got success in three states. 

"West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, NCP leader Sharad Pawar and others had tried to bring all the leaders together to form an alliance ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. If someone (Stalin) is giving his opinion on the PM candidate, it is not necessary that all alliance partners have the same opinion," Yadav said. 

-- PTI
21:18   Trump accuses Facebook, Twitter, Google of Democrat bias
US President Donald Trump took a swipe on Tuesday at America's tech giants, accusing them of having a liberal bias, and claiming Twitter was making it more difficult to follow his account.
"Facebook, Twitter and Google are so biased toward the Dems it is ridiculous!" Trump tweeted.

"Twitter, in fact, has made it much more difficult for people to join @realDonaldTrump. They have removed many names & greatly slowed the level and speed of increase. They have acknowledged-done NOTHING!"

Trump is a regular critic of social media and his criticism echoed another attack on Twitter as recently as October, when he again accused the platform of stifling the growth of his account.

The internet firms have consistently denied charges of political bias and many analysts have pointed to large social media followings of conservatives including Trump.

Twitter said in a statement it has been working to weed out accounts that hide a user's true identity or seek to manipulate the platform.
20:51   India destined to be major powerhouse of global economy: Manmohan Singh
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday said that India is destined to be a major powerhouse of the global economy.
Singh, who is also a renowned economist, said that India has witnessed an average  growth rate of about 7 per cent since 1991.

"Despite all hiccups, hurdles, India will get its action right... India is destined to be a major powerhouse of global economy," he said.

-- PTI
US watchdog FAA retains highest aviation safety ranking for India. 
20:11   Nageswara Rao appointed CBI additional director
M Nageswara Rao, who is holding post of interim CBI Director, was on Tuesday promoted to the rank of an additional director by the government.
A 1986-batch IPS officer from the Odisha cadre, Rao's name was cleared by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.

The promotion of Rao, who took over as interim CBI Director amid a midnight drama on October 24, came after the government stepped in between Director CBI Alok Verma and Special Director Rakesh Asthana fight, which reached court.

Rao was not considered for the rank of additional director in November 2016 as well as when a review of this batch took place in April 2018.

He had joined the CBI as a joint director in 2016.

The Supreme Court has asked Rao not to take any policy decisions until it hears the petition related to the feud between Verma and Asthana.

Rao took over as interim CBI director following a midnight government order giving him Verma's powers. 

He affixed signatures on over dozen transfer orders, mainly of those officers who were probing Asthana, besides ordering search and sealing of CBI Director's office.

-- PTI
19:57   Christian Michel, kept in 5-star CBI suite, hasn't opened up yet
He may have become the poster boy for Indian enforcement agencies, but alleged Agusta middleman Christian Michel, extradited by Dubai on December 4, has not opened up at all to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Top sources have confirmed to NDTV that the cooperation they were hoping for from the middleman in the 3600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal has not materialised.

After nearly two weeks in CBI custody, Christian Michel remains tight-lipped about his business dealings and who got the benefit of Rs 500-odd crore allegedly paid in India to help aeronautics company AgustaWestland land the contract for a dozen helicopters for VVIPs during UPA-1. 

While the CBI has told a court that Michel claimed to be dyslexic, NDTV has learnt that his tactic has been to counter every question by deflecting it to the other middleman being investigated in the case, Guido Haschke.
19:54   Brexit: Parliament rejects No-Confidence against Theresa May
The British government on Tuesday rejected the no-confidence motion tabled by the Leader of Opposition Jeremy Corbyn against Prime Minister Theresa May.

The motion was passed in the British Parliament on Monday after May pushed back the date of the parliamentary vote on the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement to the week of January 14, reported CNN.

Speaking at the House of Commons, where the parliamentarians were set to vote on the Brexit agreement on December 11, May defended her decision saying that she would lose the vote "by a significant margin" and would now hold talks with the EU leaders to discuss the matter.

Reacting to this, Corbyn tweeted: "It is unacceptable for the country to wait another month before Parliament has the chance to vote on Theresa May's botched deal. Therefore, I have tabled a motion of no confidence in the PM this evening, so Parliament can take back control".

In the House of Commons, Corbyn asserted that the motion was based on the Prime Minister's "failure to allow the House of Commons to have a meaningful vote straight away on the Withdrawal Agreement and framework for future relationships between the UK and European Union."

The motion was directed towards May rather than the whole government. The motion, therefore, would not have forced the administration to step down even if it were to be approved by the Parliament.

The Labour Party ahead of the move had expressed that the government must take time to debate the motion, adding that "if they don't it's clear they believe she does not retain the confidence of the House of Commons." 

-- ANI
19:23   Akhilesh Yadav criticises Kamal Nath's claim of UP, Bihar workers taking up jobs in MP
Samajwadi Party supremo Akhilesh Yadav on Tuesday criticised Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath's claim that people from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh deny employment to youth of his state.
After taking oath of office on Monday, Nath also announced government incentives to industries which give 70 per cent of their jobs to the youths of his state and added that people from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh get employment in Madhya Pradesh at the cost of the local population.

Yadav termed the suggestion "wrong".

"We used to hear such things from Maharastra, where it is being said why North Indians come here, do business and take jobs. Similar voices came from Delhi. Now its from MP," Yadav told reporters on the sidelines of an event at the party headquarters.

Nath had indicated that people from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh take job opportunities from the youth of MP.

When asked about farmers' loan waiver decision in MP, Yadav said, "A one line order has been passed for this. They have decided to waive off loans up to Rs 2 lakh. It is a good decision, but our party is of the opinion that entire loans of farmers should be waived off."

On being asked about his absence at the oath-taking ceremony in MP, Yadav said, "I will not talk on this now."

-- PTI
19:08   Hafiz Saeed pens column in Pak newspaper as 'contributing writer'
Mumbai attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed has donned the hat of a column writer for a leading Urdu newspaper, stirring a debate among journalists as to how the media house allowed the head of a banned terror group to write on the Kashmir issue and the creation of Bangladesh in 1971.

Saeed was declared a global terrorist by the US and the UN after the 2008 Mumbai attack and was put under house arrest in November 2008 but freed by a court some months later.

He carries a $10 million American bounty on his head for his role in terror activities.

"Illegal aggression of India on East Pakistan... Why Pakistan is avoiding advocating for Kashmiri people' written by "Professor Hafiz Mohammad Saeed" appeared in Daily Dunya (an Urdu publication of Dunya media group of Mian Amer Mahmood) on Sunday.

The article carries a picture of former prime minister Indira Gandhi and some young men holding guns in Dhaka.

Allowing the head of a banned terror group to contribute for a known media house has stirred a debate with journalists questioning whether the company in question allowed Saeed to write due to some "direct links" with the owner or under "someone's pressure".

A court has ordered the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority to ensure that the Pakistani media does not display Saeed's pictures.

In his article, "Saeed said Indira hatched a conspiracy to dismember Pakistan", lamenting the then Pakistani rulers for their failure.

Saeed has extensively explained the role of India in the creation of Bangladesh and expressed his opinion as to why Kashmir is important for Pakistan.

The JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the LeT which is responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attack that killed 166 people, including some Americans.

-- PTI
18:50   Countdown begins for launch of communication satellite GSAT-7A
The 26-hour countdown commenced Tuesday for the launch of India's geostationary communication satellite GSAT-7A onboard Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle GSLV-F11 from Sriharikota, ISRO said.
GSLV-F11 carrying 2,250kg GSAT-7A is scheduled to lift-off at 4.10 pm Wednesday from the second launch pad at the spaceport of Sriharikota.
The mission life of the GSAT-7A, built by the Indian Space Research Organisation, is eight years. It will provide communication capability to users in Ku-band over the Indian region, the space agency said.
"The 26-hour countdown has commenced at 2.10 pm (IST) for the launch of communication satellite GSAT-7A onboard GSLV-F11 at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. Lift-off scheduled at 4.10 pm tomorrow," ISRO said.
The GSLV-F11 will inject GSAT-7A into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit and it will be placed in its final Geostationary Orbit using the onboard propulsion systems.
GSLV-F11 is ISRO's fourth generation launch vehicle with three stages.
The four liquid strap-ons and a solid rocket motor at the core form the first stage of the launch vehicle, while the second stage is equipped with high thrust engine using liquid fuel, the space agency said on its website.
The Cryogenic Upper Stage forms the third and final stage of the vehicle.
The seventh launch of 2018 from Sriharikota marks the 69th mission of GSLV-F11 for ISRO.

-- PTI
18:34   Meghalaya: 6 days on, 13 workers remain trapped in flooded coal mine
Rescuers were unable to reach the 13 miners trapped in a coal mine in Meghalaya's East Jaintia Hills district on the sixth day as heavy rains made the operation difficult, police said.

The National Disaster Response Force, police and State Disaster Response Force have been fighting against time to rescue the workers after an illegal coal mine, full of water, at Ksan in Saipung area of the district collapsed on Thursday and got flooded by the adjacent Lytein river.

According to police, only three helmets have been found during the search operation even as miners remain trapped in the coal pit.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Monday said that rescue teams have been facing challenges to evacuate the trapped miners. He also highlighted that the high water level is making the operation difficult.

"It is a very difficult and complicated situation. The NDRF is trying to save them but it looks very difficult," said Sangma while sharing details of the rescue operation.

"No matter how many pumps we put, water force is too much to bring it down to a level where we can enter and save them. We are trying really hard but the water level is really high," said the chief minister while explaining the situation.

He further informed, "I spoke to Union Minister Kiren Rijiju the day after this incident took place and requested him to send more professional help."

Despite a ban imposed by the National Green Tribunal in 2014, mining activities were underway at the site in Kasan village.

Earlier, while responding on the rising illegal mining activities in the state, the chief minister had said, "We got to know about the illegal mining incidents and appropriate action will be taken at appropriate time against people who are involved in it." 

-- ANI
17:53   Ansari returns home after six years
Earlier today, the parents and brother of Hamid Ansari wait at the Attari-Wagah border. He was lodged in a jail in Pakistan and is being released today. With them (in the blue jeans) is journalist and activist Jatin Desai, who made it a mission to get back the Indian national. Desai went along with Hamid's father Nihal Ansari and mother Fauzia Ansari to the Wagah border in Punjab to welcome him and get him back home.
17:50   Ghar vapsi: Tears of joy as Hamid Ansari crosses over to India
Indian national Hamid Ansari crosses the Attari-Wagah border to reach India. He was lodged in a jail in Pakistan and was released today. Journalist and activist Jatin Desai, who made it a mission to get back the Indian national jailed in Pakistan, accompanied Ansari's family to the Wagah border to receive him following his release.

Ansari, 33, a Mumbai resident, was released from a Pakistani jail on Tuesday to be repatriated to India, six years after he was detained by intelligence agencies for entering the country illegally reportedly to meet a girl he had befriended online.

Desai, who is general secretary of the Pakistan-India Peoples' Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD), had started a dialogue for peace by establishing connection between the Press Club of Mumbai and its counterpart in Karachi.

The city-based activist pursued the case relentlessly by getting in touch with his contacts in the neighbouring country. His efforts led to Pakistani rights lawyer Rakshanda Naz and Qazi Mohammed Anwar taking up the case with authorities in their country.
17:46   Market logs 6th straight gains on rupee
Indian equity benchmarks reversed early losses to end in the green, marking their sixth consecutive gains, helped by late buying in mainly in pharma, metal and capital goods as firming rupee and sliding crude lifted investors' sentiment.

The BSE benchmark Sensex ended 77 points higher despite losses in information technology and FMCG counters amid weak global cues. Similarly, the broader NSE Nifty edged higher by over 20 points to close above the 10,900-level.

In a major boost to domestic market, the Indian rupee jumped 93 paise (intra-day) to trade at 70.63 against the US dollar and the benchmark Brent crude dropped to 57.98 a barrel, a fall 2.73 per cent, easing India's concerns on the current account deficit front. -- PTI
17:14   Replace Modi with Nitin Gadkari: Maharashtra leader tells RSS
In a huge embarrassment, a prominent Maharashtra farmer leader has demanded that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh must replace Prime Minster Narendra Modi with Union Minister Nitin Gadkari if the Bharatiya Janata Party wishes to win the 2019 general elections. 

The demand has come from a state-government panel, Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavalamban Mission Chairman Kishore Tiwari, on a day when Modi was in Maharashtra to attend a series of events, including laying foundation stones for Metro Rails in Thane and Pune. 

In his letter to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and General Secretary Bhaiyyaji Suresh Joshi, Tiwari said the BJP's defeat in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh was the direct outcome of "arrogant leaders" who implemented devastating decisions like demonetisation, Goods and Services Tax, fuel prices hike and other anti-people measures. 

"Leaders who pursue an extremist and dictatorial attitude in the party and government are dangerous for the society and the country... This has been witnessed before and if history is not to be repeated, hand over the reins to Gadkari for the 2019 polls," Tiwari said.

Accusing Modi and Shah of upturning the good works done by the former BJP governments in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, Tiwari said they (Modi-Shah) seem to be interested "only in grandiose Bullet Trains and Metro Rail projects". 

He said the 61-year-old Gadkari, a staunch BJP-RSS activist since decades, was "adequately qualified" for the top post since he has also headed the BJP as National President, besides ministerial capacities in Maharashtra and now at the Centre. 
16:46   Fadnavis orders probe in Mumbai hospital fire that killed 8
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday ordered a probe into the fire at the ESIC Kamgar Hospital in suburban Mumbai in which eight people were killed.
The Chief Minister's Office said Fadnavis spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Health Minister J P Nadda in connection with the mishap.

"Fadnavis has ordered an enquiry into the fire incident at the ESIC Hospital," the CMO said in a tweet.

"The chief minister expressed grief over the loss of lives and prayed for the speedy recovery of the injured and assured that all required assistance will be given," it added.

Eight people, including a six-month-old girl, were killed in the blaze in the government hospital Monday.

Besides, 176 injured people, including three firemen, were injured and undergoing treatment in different hospitals across the city.

The 325-bed ESIC (Employees State Insurance Scheme) Kamgar Hospital at Marol in suburban Andheri was built in 1970s.

Nearly 375 people, including patients and visitors, were in the five-floor hospital during visiting hours when fire and smoke were reported on its fourth floor around 4.03 pm on Monday. The fire was extinguished at 7.35 pm. The hospital authorities have shut down the facility till further notice.

The hospital did not have the final no-objection certificate for fire compliance.

A fire official said the blaze appeared to have erupted after a short-circuit near the rubber rolls stored on the ground floor. 

-- PTI
16:37   Activist Desai at Wagah to receive Mumbai techie freed by Pak
Journalist and activist Jatin Desai, who made it a mission to get back Indian national Hamid Nihal Ansari jailed in Pakistan, accompanied Ansari's family to the Wagah border to receive him following his release.

Ansari, 33, a Mumbai resident, was released from a Pakistani jail on Tuesday to be repatriated to India, six years after he was detained by intelligence agencies for entering the country illegally reportedly to meet a girl he had befriended online.

Desai, who is general secretary of the Pakistan-India Peoples' Forum for Peace and Democracy, had started a dialogue for peace by establishing connection between the Press Club of Mumbai and its counterpart in Karachi.

The city-based activist pursued the case relentlessly by getting in touch with his contacts in the neighbouring country. His efforts led to Pakistani rights lawyer Rakshanda Naz and Qazi Mohammed Anwar taking up the case with authorities in their country.

On getting the news of his release, Desai went along with Hamid's father Nihal Ansari and mother Fauzia Ansari to the Wagah border in Punjab to welcome him and get him back home.

"We reached the Wagah border on Tuesday morning. We all are waiting for Hamid as he is expected to leave from the Pakistan side to India," said Desai.

"Hamid's release formalities will take some time. He will arrive anytime today. We are expected to be in Mumbai tomorrow," he said.

Hamid's father Nihal Ansari, who is a retired bank officer, expressed happiness over his son's release and thanked Indian and Pakistan governments for their efforts towards it.
He said he and his other family members were eager to see Hamid.

The Indian national was released from Mardan jail on Tuesday and was shifted to Islamabad for his onward journey to India, state-run Radio Pakistan reported.

-- PTI
15:57   PM kicks off Rs 33,000 cr metro, housing projects near Mumbai
Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday laid foundation stones for two metro lines and affordable housing projects entailing investment of over Rs 33,000 crore in the megapolis. At an event held in Kalyan months ahead of the crucial general elections in 2019, Modi kickstarted work on the ambitious Thane-Bhiwandi-Kalyan (Metro 5) and the Dahisar-Mira Bhayander (Metro 9) in this Mumbai suburb, which will see investments of over Rs 15,000 crore.

He also launched the Navi Mumbai town planning authority Cidco's mass-housing scheme worth Rs 18,000 crore, which offers around 89,771 affordable units under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana.

Accompanied by state chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union urban development minister Hardeep Singh Puri, Modi laid the foundation stones for the these three projects.

The Rs 8,416-crore, 24.9-km-long Thane-Bhiwandi-Kalyan metro corridor (Metro-5) is expected to carry around 2.29 lakh commuters daily by 2021, with the entire system designed for six-coach trains. The corridor will have 17 stations.

The 10.3-km elevated Dahisar-Mira Bhayander corridor (Metro-9) comprising eight stations, is expected to be completed by 2022, and the cost of the project is estimated at Rs 6,607 crore.

Both the projects are being executed by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). As per the proposal, Metro-9 will be integrated with Metro-7 (Dahisar to Andheri) and Metro-2A (Dahisar -DN Road) along with the proposed Rs 3,600-crore Gaimukh-Shivaji Chowk (Mira Road or Metro-10). The tendering process to appoint general consultants and contractors for civil works for Metro 9 is in progress, and is expected to commence from next March. -- PTI
15:51   Parrikar reviews vacancies, promotions in state departments
Ailing Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar on Tuesday held a meeting with senior officials of the personnel department to take stock of vacancies, promotions and retirement-related issues in various government departments. The meeting, held at Parrikar's private residence at Dona Paula near Panaji, went on for over two hours,a senior official in the Chief Minister's Office said.

Parrikar went through the records of how many vacancies were pending in different departments and also how many employees were awaiting promotions, he said.

The officials concerned were then given instructions to take necessary steps to fill in the vacancies and award the due promotions, the official said. On Sunday, Parrikar had inspected two under- construction bridges on Mandovi and Zuari rivers in the state.

This was the first time the 63-year-old chief minister was seen in public since returning to Goa on October 14 post hospitalisation in Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences. Parrikar has been recuperating at his private residence near Panaji since October 14. -- PTI 
15:38   Man U sacks Mourinho after poor start to season
Football: Manchester United has announced that it has sacked manager Jose Mourinho. 
15:31   If Rahul was really Congress boss...
"If Rahul Gandhi's authority was absolute, he could have picked his man. That this did not happen shows there is more inner party democracy in the Congress than otherwise assumed. Compare this with the ease with which outsiders like Adityanath in UP, Khattar in Haryana and Fadnavis in Maharashtra were picked without public dissent," says Aakar Patel. Read the column here.
15:27   CBI's custody of Christian Michel ends
CBI's custody of AgustaWestland deal alleged middleman Christian Michel ends. A Delhi court on Saturday extended by four days the CBI custody of Michel, charge-sheeted and arrested in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case.

The 57-year-old British national was produced before special judge Arvind Kumar. The probe agency told the judge that Michel needs to be confronted with various documents in the case and had sought further custody of for five days. It also said that the accused was required to be taken to the premises of Pawan Hans India Ltd in Mumbai to verify his version of his alleged attempted negotiations to buy back WG-30 helicopters, to identify the shipper and to confront the officials of Pawan Hans India.

The agency said that voluminous documents have been received from various countries pursuant to the 'Letter of Requests' and the accused was yet to be confronted with a number of them.

The defence counsel opposed the CBI application for further remand saying already enough time was granted to the agency and nothing incriminating was found against accused.

Michel was arrested in the UAE and extradited to India on December 4.
15:07   Wild encounters
Man trampled to death by elephants in Jharkhand: A 30-year-old man was on Tuesday trampled to death by a herd of elephants at Khaksa village in Pakur district, officials said. The herd of 30 elephants, including calves, which reached Pakuria block from Dumka district on Sunday night, also damaged crops, the villagers said.

Leopard kills 3-year-old boy in J-K's Reasi: In a second such incident this month, a leopard has killed a three-year-old boy in a remote hilly village in Mahore area of Jammu and Kashmir's Reasi district, officials said Tuesday.  A massive search operation has been launched to track down the beast which had earlier struck in Kansoli village of Mahore belt on December 8 and had mauled to death 8-year-old Rehmat Ali, they said.  The big cat ventured into Jamlan village from the nearby forest Monday evening, pounced on Wasim Akram when he was outside his house and dragged him away, the officials said.

They said the locals, aided by police teams, chased the leopard but only managed to recover the half-eaten body of the victim. The mutilated body was handed over to the family of the deceased after completion of legal formalities, the officials said.

Three lions die while crossing rail tracks: Three lions died after they were hit by a goods train near the Gir forest in Gujarat's Amreli district, an official said Tuesday. The incident occurred near Borala village in Savarkundla taluka when a pride of six lions was walking along the railway track passing from the village, which is located near the Gir Forest. "A goods train, headed to Pipavav port from Botad, hit three of six lions of the pride during midnight, which led to the death of two lions and a lioness", Chief Conservator of Forests, Junagadh wildlife circle, D T Vasavada told PTI.

Representational image
14:50   Ram temple issue echoes in BJP parl party meeting
With Hindutva organisations ramping up pressure on the government to bring a law to build Ram temple in Ayodhya, Home Minister Rajnath Singh Tuesday asked BJP lawmakers to be patient on the issue. At the BJP parliamentary party meeting, Ravindra Kushwaha and Hari Narayan Rajbhar, both of whom represent Lok Sabha constituencies from Uttar Pradesh, enquired about the government's stand on the matter, sources said.

Singh, who was addressing the meeting, told them that everyone wants a Ram temple at the site where Lord Ram is believed to be born and asked party MPs to be patient.

As the two MPs raised the issue, a few others also supported them, the sources said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not present in meeting, nor was party president Amit Shah. Hindutva organisations, including the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, have in the last few months intensified their demand for early construction of the temple, with many of them, including RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, pitching for a law to enable it.

Though the BJP has agreed with the sentiments of these organisations, it has so far not come out in support of a law. The Ram temple land dispute is presently being heard in the Supreme Court. There is a view within the party that paving the way for the temple's construction will boost its prospects in the Lok Sabha elections.

In his speech, Singh asserted Tuesday that the opposition has no leader to match Modi's popularity and asked BJP MPs to work for the party's re-election in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.-- PTI
14:27   4 transgenders offer prayers at Sabarimala temple
Four transgenders, who were earlier stopped from proceeding towards the Lord Ayyappa temple, Tuesday offered prayers at the hill shrine under a heavy police security cover.

Ananya, Trupti, Renjumol and Avanthika, clad in traditional black sarees and carrying the customary "Irrumudikettu"(sacred offerings to the deity), were escorted by police from Nilackal to Pamba and during the trek to the shrine. They said they were extremely happy to have got the opportunity to offer prayers at the temple and that this was their life's mission which had been realised.

They had met DGP A Hemachandran, a member of the Kerala High Court-appointed supervisory panel, and Inspector General of Police Manoj Abraham here Monday after which they were allowed to proceed. -- PTI
14:12   India's 'Village Rockstars' out of Oscars race, nine films advance to next stage
"Village Rockstars", India's official entry to the 91st Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Film category, is no longer a part of the Oscars race, with only nine films out of 87 making it to the next round of voting.

Directed by Rima Das, the Assamese feature, revolved around a group of village children aspiring to become rockstars. India has so far drawn a blank in the Best Foreign Film category.

The last Indian film that made it to the final five in the list was Ashutosh Gowariker's "Lagaan" in 2001. "Mother India" (1958) and "Salaam Bombay" (1989) are the other two Indian movies to have made it to the top five.

Oscar-winner Alfonso Cuaron's universally-loved, semi-biographical, black-and-white drama "Roma" is in the list alongside eight other films. "Roma", which is generating a lot of awards buzz and may also earn nominations in the best film category if critics are to be believed, will face tough competition from previous Oscar-winner Pawel Pawlikowski's "Cold War". He had won the Oscar for his 2013 film "Ida". -- PTI
13:43   Stalin defends 'Rahul for PM' cry, seeks support
DMK president MK Stalin strongly defended backing Rahul Gandhi as prime ministerial candidate, saying the Congress chief had the strength to dislodge the BJP regime at the Centre and sought the support of friendly secular parties for his proposal. Amid murmurs in the opposition ranks about reservations over the proposal, Stalin said it may have led to a debate among friendly parties.

"In a democracy, solutions have emerged only from debates... these deliberations too will cause good outcomes," he said in a letter to his party cadre late Monday. Stalin appealed to other opposition parties to "strengthen the hands of Rahul to guard democracy".

He said joining of forces was required to trounce the BJP in the Lok Sabha election next year. The DMK chief said his statement was based on the rationale that projecting Gandhi alone would be appropriate to bind secular forces.

Noting that the Congress beat the saffron party in the recently concluded assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh, he said Gandhi had the strength to defeat the Modi-led BJP government. Stalin said his statement was made keeping with the legacy of his father and late DMK patriarch Karunanidhi, who was for taking ideas forward at the opportune and appropriate time.

He also reiterated that the DMK under the leadership of his father had taken the lead at the right time during previous Lok Sabha elections to propel the Congress towards victory.  -- PTI
13:20   Govt did not ask for Urjit Patel's resignation as RBI Guv
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Tuesday said the government never sought the resignation of Urjit Patel as Governor of the Reserve Bank of India over differences in handling liquidity stress in certain sectors.

Speaking at Agenda Aaj Tak, he said the government does not need a single penny from RBI's capital reserves during the current fiscal.

Responding to criticism over surprise resignation of Patel as RBI Governor earlier this month, he said there were cordial discussions at the meeting of the RBI board over issues such as the appropriate size of reserves the central bank must hold. "The government never asked for his resignation," he said. After Patel's resignation, the government appointed former bureaucrat Shaktikanta Das as the Governor of RBI. -- PTI
13:00   Won't let PM sleep until all farms loans waived: Rahul
Congress president Rahul Gandhi holds an impromptu press conference outside Parliament house. Flanked by Ghulam Nabi Azad and Jyotiraditya Scindia, the Congress president said he would keep the government awake till it gave loan waivers to farmers.

"We will not let PM Modi sleep till he waives off loans of farmers, all opposition parties will unitedly demand this. Till now PM has not waived off a single rupee of farmers.  "It took our state government hours to waive loans of farmers, oppn will force Narendra Modi govt to waive farm loans. Modi government waives loans of only rich people. Money of farmers and small shopkeepers is being stolen by government," he said.

Rahul Gandhi assured India's farmers that their welfare will be looked after. "People have been lied to, farmers & small traders are being looted. Demonetization is the biggest scam in the world.

"JPC, Rafale, farm loan waivers, demonetization, typo errors will soon emerge in everything. ON Sajjan Kumar's conviction, Gandhi said, "I have made my position on the riots very clear, and I have said this before. This press conference is about the farmers of the country and that Mr Modi refuses to waive off even 1 rupee of loan."
Parliament has been adjourned till tomorrow. 
12:18   Rajya Sabha adjourned as well
Rajya Sabha was adjourned till 2 pm on Tuesday as the AIADMK and DMK protested over Cauvery issue, while the Congress demanded that a privilege notice against the government be taken up for allegedly misleading Parliament and the Supreme Court on Rafale jet deal. Rajya Sabha proceedings have been disrupted for the last five days on issues like Rafale, dam on Cauvery river and demand of special status to Andhra Pradesh.

As the House assembled for the sixth day of the Winter Session, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu informed the members that various notices on urgent matters, ranging from cyclones affecting lives in some states to price rise to agriculture crisis, have been admitted for discussion.

Naidu, who had adjourned the proceedings for the entire day on Monday amid uproar over Rafale, Cauvery and other issues, appealed to the members to let the House run its business. -- PTI
12:15   ESIC hospital staffers protest inadequate facilities
Maharashtra: ESIC Kamgar Hospital staff protests alleging inadequate facilities in the hospital in Andheri, Mumbai. Eight people had died in a fire that broke out in the hospital yesterday.
12:13   Rafale dominates LS proceedings
Lok Sabha proceedings were adjourned till noon on Tuesday following vociferous protests by various parties over Rafale deal, construction of a dam across Cauvery river and other issues.

As soon as the House met, members from the AIADMK, the TDP and the Congress trooped into the Well, with many of them displaying placards, and sought to raise various issues. The Congress raised the Rafale issue and some party members displayed placards demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the fighter jet deal. Many members from the BJP shouted slogans against the Congress and demanded an apology from Congress President Rahul Gandhi on the Rafale issue.

Some members stood in the aisle while others were at their seats. The AIADMK members were protesting against construction of a dam across Cauvery river while those from the TDP were demanding special status for Andhra Pradesh.

There were more than 30 members from the AIADMK, the TDP and the Congress in the Well during the Question Hour. Only one question related to production of garlic was taken up. Even as Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh was responding to supplementary questions, BJP members continued sloganeering on the Rafale issue.

Amid the ruckus, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourned the House till noon. Home Minister Rajnath Singh was present in the House.
11:44   C'garh govt to waive short-term agri loans, probe Naxal attack
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has said his government will waive short-term agricultural loans of farmers and hike the MSP for paddy to Rs 2,500, fulfilling promises made by the Congress ahead of the state Assembly polls.

The state government will also set up a Special Investigation Team to probe the "biggest Naxal attack in the country on political leaders" in Jhiram valley, he said.

Soon after taking oath, Baghel Monday evening chaired his maiden cabinet meeting at the new secretariat office in Atal Nagar (Naya Raipur) where the decisions were taken. The short-term crop loans to the tune of overRs 6,100 crore of more than 16.65 lakh farmers drawn from cooperative banks and Chhattisgarh Gramin Bank as on November 30, 2018, will be completely waived, Baghel told mediapersons at a press conference held late Monday evening at Samvad Bhawan.

He was accompanied by his two newly-inducted ministers - T S Singh Deo and Tamradhawaj Sahu - and Chief Secretary Ajay Singh. -- PTI

Image: Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel
11:40   Sajjan Kumar quits Congress
Congress leader Sajjan Kumar has written to party president Rahul Gandhi submitting his resignation from the primary membership of the party, sources in the party said on Tuesday.

On Monday, the Delhi High Court convicted Kumar for his role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and sentenced him to imprisonment for life. "I tender my resignation with immediate effect from the primary membership of the Indian National Congress in the wake of the judgement of the hon'be high court of Delhi against me," he said in the letter to Gandhi. -- PTI
11:36   Mentally challenged man crosses across LoC, family seeks govt's help
Family of a 33-year-old "mentally challenged" man, who crossed across LoC and reached Pakistan, has appealed to the governments of India and Pakistan to help him in getting his son back.

The man, who had gone missing on December 11, hails from a remote village of Poonch district.Speaking to ANI, father of the missing man, said, "My son is mentally ill and was under treatment. Our Sarpanch came to us informing that he has received a video which confirms that our son is in Pakistan. I urge both (India and Pakistan) governments to help us."

The mother of the missing man said that her son had crossed the Line of Control (LoC) seven days back inadvertently and was later apprehended by Pakistani forces. "I appeal to the authorities of India and Pakistan to help us in getting my son back," she said. -- PTI
11:21   Mumbai hospital not fire compliant
The death toll in the blaze in a government hospital in Mumbai rose to eight Tuesday, while 176 injured people, including three firemen, are being treated in different hospitals across the city, an official said.

Milind Ogle, the deputy chief fire officer of the MIDC area, said the hospital doesn't have the final no-objection certificate for fire compliance.

"The hospital applied for the final NOC a fortnight ago for its under-construction building adjacent to the old structure that caught fire," he said. "When our team visited the hospital to inspect the conditions for fire compliance, it found certain shortcomings in the installations and it was communicated to the hospital administration," Ogle said.

While reviewing fire compliance norms for the new building, the team also noticed some lacunae in the old hospital building, he said. "So we refused to issue the full and final fire NOC to the old building also," he added. Hospital medical superintendent Dr Rakesh Sharma said everything happened suddenly.

The deceased include a six-month-old girl. Among those admitted, almost 25 are reported to be critical while 26 were discharged after primary treatment, said the official of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's  disaster management cell.

The 325-bed ESIC (Employees State Insurance Scheme) Kamgar Hospital at Marol in suburban Andheri was constructed in 1970s. Police and hospital authorities have vacated the building, he added.

While six people had died in the blaze on Monday, two more succumbed to their injuries later in different hospitals, the official said.

Nearly 375 people, including patients and visitors, were in the five-floor hospital during visiting hours when fire and smoke were reported on its fourth floor around 4.03 pm on Monday, according to a fire brigade official.

"The fire was extinguished at 7.35 pm, and hospital authorities shut down the facility till further notice," he said. "Most of the deceased, including the six-month-old child, died due to suffocation," he said.

Several women who recently delivered babies managed to save their newborns by rushing out of the building while wrapping the children in their arms, he said.

The building's glass facade posed a hindrance as it blocked air passage and firemen had to break the glasses on all the floors to evacuate those stranded inside, he said. A hospital staffer received injuries on his arm when he jumped out of the building to save his life, he added. -- PTI
10:56   Aircel-Maxis case: Protection from arrest to Chidambaram extended till Jan 11
A Delhi court Tuesday extended till January 11 the protection granted to former Union minister P Chidambaram and his son from arrest in the Aircel-Maxis scam.

Special Judge OP Saini extended the relief granted to Chidambaram and his son Karti after the CBI and the ED submitted that new material has been recovered which needs to be collated. It also granted time till January 11 to the CBI to get sanction to prosecute some of people accused in the case.

The CBI had on November 26 told the court that Centre had granted sanction to prosecute P Chidambaram. The case relates to alleged irregularities in grant of FIPB approval in Aircel-Maxis deal. -- PTI
10:52   Nashik farmer writes to PMO, dubs report of low quality onions "false"
The farmer from Nashik, who had sent his onion sale earnings to the Prime Minister's Office to highlight low returns, has alleged that the district authorities wrongly described his produce as of "low quality".

Sanjay Sathe, from Niphad tehsil in Nashik district of Maharashtra, on Monday wrote a letter to the PMO in which he said the authorities prepared a report about his onion produce without any inquiry and that it was "false".

Sathe had earlier sent Rs 1,064, his earnings from onion sale in the wholesale market, to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 29 as a protest.

However, a report later submitted to the Maharashtra government by the district deputy registrar office said the farmer's onions were of "medium to low quality" and "blackish" in colour. Refuting the claim, Sathe, in his letter to the PMO, said, "I sold 750 kg onion and earned Rs 1,064. But without any inquiry, the state government officials in their report stated that my onions were blackish and of low quality. It is false and officials are misguiding you." "I hope you will understand that if authorities can lie to you, what challenges a common man would be facing in government offices," he said in the letter sent from the local post office.

Almost every onion grower was facing the same situation of low rates and the state's "apathy" towards it, Sathe claimed, and requested the prime minister to find a solution to it.

Notably, authorities of the Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Market Committee had said last week that the report submitted by the district deputy registrar office to the state government was "false".

No official of the district deputy registrar office had met the APMC authorities in connection with the farmer's case, they said. Nashik district in north Maharashtra accounts for about 50 per cent of onion production in India. The Lasalgaon APMC in Nashik is the country's largest wholesale onion market. -- PTI
10:32   Love jihad: Hadiya's father joins BJP
KM Ashokan, father of Hadiya, 26-year-old Kerala woman who converted to Islam and married a Muslim man in 2016, has joined the BJP. KM Asokan had approached Court alleging his daughter was a victim of 'love jihad'.

The Supreme Court in March this year had restored the marriage of Hadiya, a Hindu woman who had converted to Islam and entered into wedlock with a Muslim man, setting aside a Kerala high court order, and ruling that no court can interfere in the marriage of two consulting adults.

Pulling up the Kerala high court for annulling Hadiya's marriage to Shafin Jahan, the apex court observed that Article 226 gives the extraordinary power to high courts to protect the constitutional rights and not to scuttle them.

The high-profile case of alleged 'love jihad', a term used for Muslim men allegedly seducing and marrying Hindu women after making them convert to Islam, was being probed by anti-terror agency National Investigation Agency.

The court instructed the NIA to go ahead with its probe into alleged instances of love jihad without "touching the marriage".

In Kochi, Hadiya's father K M Asokan, who had claimed her daughter was "brainwashed" to convert, said he would consider moving a review petition in the Supreme Court against its judgement.He maintained that his daughter's marriage with Shafin Jahan was an act of "adjustment" done by a group.

File pic: Hadiya and her father KM Asokan
10:15   Sensex drops 141 points in early trade
Breaking its five-day winning streak, the benchmark BSE Sensex fell 141 points in early trade Tuesday, as banking, IT, realty and FMCG stocks retreated, tracking sell-off in global market.

The 30-share index dropped 140.51 points, or 0.40 per cent, to 36,129.56 points in opening trade. The gauge had rallied over 1,310 points in the previous five sessions. The NSE Nifty too fell 47.50 points, or 0.44 per cent, to 10,840.85. Among sectoral indices, IT fell the most 1.19 per cent, followed by tech 1.08 per cent, on account of appreciating domestic currency.

Meanwhile, FMCG, healthcare, banking and consumer durables also fell by up to 0.35 per cent as profit taking emerged on these counters. Brokers said, the decline in benchmark indices was on account of a weak trend in Asian markets amid sharp losses at the Wall Street, as investors continued to fear weakening global growth. Besides, profit-booking in recent gainers also dampened investor sentiment. -- PTI
09:29   Imran Khan is Pak army's 'proxy', best time for talks: Mehbooba
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday said it was the "best time" for India to hold talks with Pakistan as the neighbouring country's new Prime Minister Imran Khan is being touted as a "proxy" their army.
If initiated now, she said, the talks between the two neighbours at this time could prove "beneficial".
"If Imran is a proxy of the Pak army then this is the best time to talk. When Imran Khan says he is ready to talk, to open corridors, then I think army is also on the same page...," Mufti said at the 'Agenda Aaj Tak' event here.
She said the "best bargain" for India, vis-a-vis the Kashmir issue, was during the time when Pervez Musharraf was the President of Pakistan as during that time ceasefire was initiated at the border and the Muzaffarabad route was opened up.
"The talks could be beneficial now....why should we not talk?" she asked.
The Peoples Democratic Party leader also said her party will "join hands" with any political party that will support the "resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir issue."
"If we can join hands with the BJP, we can do so with anyone for resolution of the J-K issue," she said.
Mufti said her Peoples Democratic Party going with the BJP, during the last political regime in the state, was "suicidal" and that she was "disappointed" that this experiment to begin the political process in the state did not work.
Asked if she had any lessons to learn, Mufti replied in the negative.
"They (the BJP) didn't teach me any lesson. I stood my ground...(in taking decisions). We experimented (through the PDP-BJP alliance) for the people of Kashmir but that did not work," she said.
She said there was a huge difference between former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee's regime and the current one under PM Narendra Modi.
"Vajpayee was spontaneous and down to earth...he never looked back or over his shoulder. He was a statesman. Today's NDA is more focussed in winning elections," Mufti said.
"God save! they have not given voting rights to cows," she said in an apparent dig on the BJP. -- PTI
08:57   4-feet hole appears on Gurgaon flyover on NH 8
A four-feet wide hole appeared at the Rampura flyover on National Highway 8 in Gurgaon on Monday.
The flyover between Kherki Daula toll plaza and IMT Manesar, was opened last year by the National Highway Authority of India to ease traffic congestion on the strect leading to Maneser.
"We have received information about a hole surfacing on the Rampura flyover around 5 am. Subsequently, road safety staffs rushed at the spot and blocked the road," said Anil Kumar, road safety officer of NHAI. 
"The matter has been informed to higher authorities and repairing of the affected area will start soon," he added.
As the hole appeared in the middle of the flyover, it affected traffic movement between Jaipur and Delhi.
"We have partially diverted traffic movement and are also using service lanes to provide some respite to the commuters," Kumar said. -- PTI  
08:38   Death toll in Mumbai hospital fire rises to 8
The death toll in Mumbai's Andheri hospital fire incident has increased to eight.

A massive fire broke out at ESIC Kamgar hospital on Monday injuring more than 100 people.

Ten fire tenders were pressed into service to douse the blaze while a rescue van and 16 ambulances were also rushed to the spot for necessary assistance.

The injured were shifted to Cooper Hospital, P. Thakrey Hospital (Trauma), Holi Spirit Hospital and Seven Hills Hospital for treatment.

Taking note of the incident, Fire Officer of Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC), MV Ogale said that the hospital did not obtain a final No Objection Certificate (NOC).

"They (hospital authorities) have applied for the final NOC but compliances were not in line with the provisions of the act and hence they have not been given final NOC by us. Our building proposal department has also not given final occupation certificate," Ogale told media on Monday.

The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained. -- ANI
00:04   US shutdown: Empowered Democrats refuse funds for Trump wall
US President Donald Trump's signature campaign pledge to build a wall along the US-Mexico border is at stake in a major budget battle this week.

A partial government shutdown is looming on Friday if Congress cannot agree funding for federal agencies.

Newly empowered Democrats are refusing White House demands for $5 billoin  towards constructing such a wall.

Trump said last week he would be "proud" to shut down his own government if he does not secure the funding.

The Republican president has been unable to loosen legislative purse strings for the project, even with his party controlling both the Senate and House of Representatives for nearly two years.

That challenge is only likely to get more difficult once Democrats formally regain control of the lower chamber of Congress from January.