Thu, 16 July 2020
Ram temple construction likely to start in Aug

Timeline  Refresh

23:47   Ram temple construction likely to start in Aug
The construction of the Ram temple is likely to start next month and the temple trust president has sent an invite to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to grace the occasion of its foundation stone laying ceremony, said Ayodhya seers on Thursday.
A tentative programme for the construction of the temple is likely to be decided in the meeting of the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust on Saturday, they said. 
Trust's president Nritya Gopal Das has sent a letter to the prime minister, inviting him to conduct the Bhumi Pujan of Ram Mandir on the occasion of its foundation laying ceremony, said Mahant Kamal Nayan Das, the official spokesperson of the Trust president.
There is, however, no clarity as of now on prime minister's presence on the occasion, he said, adding a clearer picture is likely to emerge after the July 18 meeting.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat too is expected to be present during the Bhumi Pujan, he said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Modi's former principal secretary Nripendra Mishra, also the chairman of the construction committee of the temple trust, visited Ayodhya on Thursday along with BSF's former director general  K K Sharma, the security adviser of the Ram Janmabhoomi Trust, and met various members of the Ram Temple Trust, set up as per the directions of the apex court. 
The meeting was held in the presence of various local authorities at the Circuit House and attended by trust secretary Champat Rai and members Anil Mishra and Bimlendra Mishra among others. 
Trust president Mahant Nritya Gopal Das and member Mahant Dinendra Das, who live in Ayodhya itself, however, were not present in the meeting.

-- PTI
23:31   Michelle Obama is launching a podcast on Spotify
Michelle Obama is launching a podcast.

The former US first lady will host "The Michelle Obama Podcast," focused on meaningful relationships and conversations, her production company with former President Barack Obama, Higher Ground, announced Thursday in conjunction with Spotify. It's set to debut on the music streaming service on July 29.

"Hosted by Michelle Obama, the series will bring listeners the former US First Lady's most candid and personal conversations, showing us what's possible when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, to open up, and to focus on what matters most," the two companies said in a press release announcing the venture.

The episodes, the companies said, will center on "the relationships that shape us, from siblings and close friends to partners, parents, and mentors to our relationship with ourselves and our health."
22:59   MGNREGA pulling poor out of pit dug by PM: Rahul
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying it is MGNREGA that is pulling the poor out of the pit of economic slump that has been dug by the PM.
"Modi ji had said that people are made to just dig pits under MGNREGA. But the truth is that it is MGNREGA that is pulling out the poor from the pit of economic slump that has been dug by Modi," Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi.

Without MGNREGA, not poverty, but the poor will be finished, the former Congress chief said.
He also shared a graph showing the slump in jobs and the rising MGNREGA demand during the coronavirus crisis.
The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act is a social security measure that aims to guarantee the 'right to work'. This act was passed in September 2005 under the UPA government.

-- PTI
22:49   COVID-19: Central team to visit Gujarat on Friday

A four-member team of the central government will be on a visit to Gujarat on Friday to review the coronavirus situation in the state and to provide necessary guidance.

This expert team comprises AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria, NITI Aayog member Vinod Paul, Director General of ICMR Dr Balram Bhargav and Additional Secretary in the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Arti Ahuja.

The team will first visit Surat on Friday morning and hold a review meeting with the local officials, including collector and municipal commissioner, a release issued by the Gujarat government on Thursday said.

After a field visit in some parts of Surat, the team would arrive at Ahmedabad in the afternoon to review the steps taken by the administration to contain the spread of the virus, it said.

The team would also hold a meeting with Chief Minister Vijay Rupani in the evening, the release said, adding that the team would leave on July 18 morning.

-- PTI
22:14   US COVID-19 data removed from CDC website
Following the Trump administrations decision to reroute coronavirus hospital data first to the administration, instead of sending it to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some data is no longer available on the website. 

The information removed from the website is the hospital data that was reported to the CDCs National Healthcare Safety Network, according to CDC spokesperson Kristen Nordlund.

The data includes...

>> The current inpatient and intensive care unit bed occupancy
>> Health care worker staffing
>> Personal protective equipment supply status and availability

The information appeared on the National Healthcare Safety Network Covid-19 module page and the CDCs Covid-19 data tracker.
22:00   Odisha announces 14-day complete lockdown in 6 districts
Odisha government has announced 14-day complete lockdown in Ganjam, Khordha, Cuttack, Jajpur distric and Rourkela Municipal Corporation area from 9 pm of July 17 to July 31 midnight. 

21:22   Congress on ventilator: AAP's Raghav Chadha
Amid the political turmoil in Rajasthan, the AAP on Thursday sought to project itself as an alternative, saying the Congress is on "ventilator" and is unlikely to survive while accusing the political parties of playing "dirty politics" at a time when the focus should be on battling the COVID-19 pandemic. 

AAP spokesperson Raghav Chadha said neither the Congress has any future nor can it give any future to this country and his party, with fresh blood and invigorating force, needs to step up and become the alternative.

Hitting back, the Delhi Congress chief Anil Chaudhary tweeted, "Anyway, if you vote for Kejriwal, you get Amit Shah (BJP leader and Home Minister) to rule Delhi, Congress cannot offer such a dual offer." 
Chadha said political parties are busy with dirty politics at a time when the focus should be on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"At this time of crisis when our country is looking for cooperation from all political parties against this pandemic, we have one political party which is selling their MLAs and another political party which is buying MLAs," Chadha said, referring to the ongoing political turmoil in Rajasthan.

"Entire India is witnessing a political drama unfolding in Rajasthan. People of our country are hurt to see this kind of dirty politics. It is a sad spectacle to witness that parties are busy playing dirty politics at a time when this pandemic crisis looms overhead,"  he told reporters.

Chadha further said the AAP is the only alternative left as the Congress party is on "ventilator" and unlikely to survive.

"The voters of India are very much saddened by the state of our democracy because it doesn't matter whom they cast their vote for, because of this new dirty politics of BJP and Congress. Congress neither has any future nor can it give any future to this country. 

"Today, it is clear that the Congress party is on a ventilator. No plasma therapy, hydroxychloroquine, or Remdesivir can save this political party from the impending death," said Chadha.

People have hopes from the AAP and they see it is as alternative, Chadha claimed.

-- PTI
21:08   1,498 new COVID-19 cases in Mumbai
With the single-day spike of 1,498 new coronavirus positive cases, Mumbai's tally of patients rose to 97,751 on Thursday, the Brihanmumbai
Municipal Corporation said.

As the virus claimed the lives of 56 more people, the death toll in the metropolis reached 5,520, it said.
According to the civic body, the number of recovered patients in the city increased to 68,537 after 707 of them were discharged from hospitals during the day.

On July 2, the city had recorded the highest single-day spike of 1,554 cases.

According to the BMC, the city's recovery rate is 70 per cent.

-- PTI
20:43   Pak didn't give unimpeded access to Jadhav: MEA
India on Thursday said its officials were not given "unimpeded access" to national Kulbhushan Jadhav, denying Pakistan's claims of consular access.

Pakistan earlier on Thursday claimed it had provided consular access to Jadhav, on death row, days after Islamabad claimed that he has refused to file an appeal in a court here against his conviction by a military court.

"The consular officers were not given unimpeded, unhindered and unconditional access to Kulbhushan Jadhav by Pakistan," said the Ministry of External Affairs. "On the contrary, Pakistani officials with an intimidating demeanour were present in close proximity of Jadhav and Consular Officers despite the protests of the Indian side."

"It was also evident from a camera that was visible that the conversation with Jadhav was being recorded. He was visibly under stress and indicated that clearly to the Consular Officers. The arrangements did not permit a free conversation between them," it added.
20:07   Hearing over Pilot's plea to resume on Friday
The two-judge bench of Rajasthan HC hearing Sachin Pilot's plea against disqualification notices to 19 MLAs, including himself, has adjourned for the day. 

Hearing in this matter will resume at 1 pm on Friday.

Sachin Pilot and other Congress rebels today challenged in the Rajasthan High Court a move to disqualify them as MLAs in a dramatic escalation of the party's crisis in Rajasthan. 

Mukul Rohatgi and Harish Salve, both top government lawyers in BJP regimes, are representing them in the petition.

Notices served to them by Rajasthan Speaker CP Joshi yesterday asked them to explain by Friday "anti-party activities", failing which they would be disqualified. While team Pilot will be helped by the top government lawyer in the BJP regime, the Congress has fielded one of its sharpest legal experts, Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
20:04   EC not to extend facility of postal ballot to voters above 65 in Bihar polls
The Election Commission on Thursday decided not to extend the facility of postal ballot to electors above 65 years of age in the Bihar Assembly polls and bypolls due in the near future in view of constraints of logistics, manpower and safety protocols of COVID-19.

However, the EC, in a statement, said the facility of optional postal ballot to electors who are above 80 years of age, voters with physical disabilities, electors engaged in essential services and voters who are COVID-19 positive or are in quarantine (home or institutional) will be extended in these elections.

In October last year, the Law Ministry amended the Conduct of Election Rules to allow people with disabilities and those who are 80 years of age or above to opt for postal ballot during the Lok Sabha and assembly elections.

Now, on June 19, the ministry had cleared a fresh change in the rules, allowing those aged 65 years and above to opt for postal ballot.

While amending the rules on the suggestions of the Election Commission, the ministry also allowed "COVID-19 suspected or affected persons" to use the postal ballot facility.

-- PTI
19:36   1,652 fresh COVID-19 cases take Delhi's tally to 1,18,645
Delhi recorded 1,652 fresh coronavirus cases on Thursday, taking the tally in the city to over 1.18 lakh, while the death toll from the disease mounted to 3,545, authorities said.
Fifty-eight fatalities have been recorded in the last 24 hours, according to the Delhi health department bulletin.

This is the sixth consecutive day when fresh cases have been reported in the range of 1,000-2,000.

The number of active cases on Thursday stood at 17,407, down from 17,807 the previous day. 

On June 23, the national capital had reported the highest single-day spike of 3,947 cases, till date.

The death toll from COVID-19 in Delhi stood at 3,487 on Wednesday.

The bulletin on Thursday said the death toll from coronavirus infection has risen to 3,545 and the total number of cases has mounted to 1,18,645. 

-- PTI
19:31   Russia trying to hack and steal COVID-19 vaccine data, says Britain
Hackers backed by the Russian state are trying to steal COVID-19 vaccine and treatment research from academic and pharmaceutical institutions around the world, Britains National Cyber Security Centre said. 

A co-ordinated statement from Britain, the United States and Canada attributed the attacks to group APT29, also known as Cozy Bear, which they said was almost certainly operating as part of Russian intelligence services.

We condemn these despicable attacks against those doing vital work to combat the coronavirus pandemic, said NCSC Director of Operations, Paul Chichester.

British foreign minister Dominic Raab said it was completely unacceptable for Russian intelligence services to target work on the pandemic.

While others pursue their selfish interests with reckless behaviour, the UK and its allies are getting on with the hard work of finding a vaccine and protecting global health, he said in a statement. He said Britain would work with allies to hold perpetrators to account.

The NCSC said the groups attacks were ongoing and used a variety of tools and techniques, including spear-phishing and custom malware.

19:10   Cost-cutting has to be done: Puri on Air India
Equity infusion of Rs 500-600 crore every year is not sustainable and cost-cutting in Air India is necessary, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Thursday, justifying the national carrier's decision to send certain employees on leave without pay for up to five years.
The minister's remarks came after TMC MP Derek O'Brien slammed Air India, saying its leave-without-pay scheme violates labour laws and is an "obvious ploy" to protect the top management and sacrifice other workers. 

Air India on Thursday said it has started the process of identifying employees, based on various factors like efficiency, health and redundancy, who will be sent on compulsory leave without pay for up to five years. 
Asked about the TMC MP's comments at a press conference, Puri said, "Equity infusion of the kind of Rs 500-600 crore every year is not a sustainable thing to run an airline now. Everybody has to cut costs. That is what is happening here." 
"What are the options that we have got? If the options are if you don't cut costs severely, and the next time I go to the honourable Finance Minister, it is with some trepidation that I will enter her room," the minister noted.
He said that even if Air India wants financial assistance from the government now, it may not be possible for the government to help the carrier as it has to meet other demands such as providing relief to vulnerable sections of the society amid the coronavirus pandemic, said the minister.
Air India has a debt of around Rs 70,000 crore and the government started the process to sell it to a private entity in January this year. The national carrier's net loss in 2018-19 was around Rs 8,500 crore. 
-- PTI
18:43   LIVE! Reliance's Aramco deal hits valuation roadblock
Reliance Industries' planned sale of a fifth of its oil-to-chemical business to Aramco has stalled after the Saudi company sought at least 20 per cent cut in USD 75 billion valuation billionaire Mukesh Ambani's firm was seeking.    

Sources privy to negotiations said Saudi Aramco had right from the beginning resisted the USD 15 billion price tag Reliance had put for the 20 per cent stake in the O2C business, which comprises of the company's twin refineries at Jamnagar in Gujarat, petrochemical plants and 51 per cent in fuel retailing venture.   

And with crude oil prices plunging due to the pandemic, it sought a complete re-evaluation, putting a price tag of no more than USD USD 11-12 billion for 20 per cent stake, they said.   

Aramco felt the business would need substantial investment to convert oil to valuable chemicals and not produce substantial quantities of petrol, diesel, and ATF as the Jamnagar refineries currently do.   

And the slump in crude prices has squeezed refinery margins, requiring reworking of the valuations for the business, it felt.   Aramco also had reservations on the debt Reliance had loaded on the O2C business.   

The sources said Reliance resisted any move to reopen the valuation or to resize the debt.   

With both sides holding on to their positions, Ambani at Reliance's annual general meeting on Wednesday said the Aramco deal was delayed due to "unforeseen circumstances in the energy market and the Covid-19 situation".   

He neither said if the deal was on track nor gave any fresh timelines for its completion.   

Reliance did not immediately reply to an email sent seeking comments.   

-- PTI
18:06   Poet Varavara Rao tests positive for Covid-19
Varavara Rao, the 80-year old Telugu poet-litterateur and activist, who is behind bars since 2018 in the Elgaar Parishad case on Thursday has tested positive for Covid-19.

On Wednesday, he was taken to JJ hospital on Monday for a few tests after he complained of dizziness. 

Raos family had demanded that he be shifted to a hospital from the Tajola Central Jail in Navi Mumbai after receiving a call from him on July 11. 

The family told media persons on Sunday said that during the phone call, Rao was unable to speak coherently and spoke about events that had taken place decades ago. 

His co-inmates have informed the family that he had been unable to do any of his chores by himself and was dependent on others in the hospital ward where he was being kept.

17:57   Pilot petition likely to be heard this evening
A division bench of the Rajasthan High Court will hear Thursday evening a petition filed by Sachin Pilot and 18 other dissident leaders, challenging notices from the Speaker over a Congress move to disqualify them from the state assembly.

A two-judge bench is expected to hear the amended petition at 7.30 pm.

The petition first came up Justice Satish Chandra Sharma at 3 pm. But advocate Harish Salve sought time to file a fresh petition.

The matter was heard again at about 5 pm when the judge referred it to a division bench.
Earlier, Congress chief whip Mahesh Joshi, who had written to the Speaker seeking the MLAs' disqualification, also approached the court, asking to be heard before it passes any order.
The 19 MLAs were sent notices Tuesday by the Speaker after the Congress complained that they had defied a party whip to attend two Congress Legislature Party meetings.
The Pilot camp, however, argues that a party whip applies only when the assembly is in session.

-- PTI
17:40   Pilot Camp MLAs moved to another hotel in Manesar
Some Rajasthan MLAs have been shifted from ITC Grand to Best Western Resort in Gurgaon's Manesar. 

Many vehicles with Rajasthan registration numbers have been parked at the resort. 

Sources say that the MLAs were shifted late at night. 

MLAs of the Pilot camp were housed at the ITC Grand.
17:38   63% of Covid patients in India recover: Govt
India has 3,31,146 active Covid-19 cases, which is around a third of the country's total tally that rose to 9.68 lakh on Thursday, the Union Health ministry said and credited targeted measures for the steady decline in active caseload. 

As the country witnessed a record single-day increase of 32,695 cases on Thursday, the ministry said the recovery rate rose to 50 per cent mid-June and thereafter there has been a steady rise in recoveries and a decline in the number of active cases.

"Of the total Covid-19 cases, 63.25 per cent have recovered so far. Simultaneously, there has been a steady dip in the number of active cases, from around 45 per cent in mid-June to around 34.18 per cent as of now," the ministry. A total of 20,783 people have recuperated in the past 24 hours, the highest number of recoveries in a day, taking the total number of recovered cases to 6,12,814.

According to the health ministry's data updated at 8 am, the number of recoveries exceeds active cases by 2,81,668. The ministry said the actual caseload of COVID-19 has remained limited and manageable due to proactive containment measures such as house-to-house survey, perimeter control activities, timely contact tracing, aggressive testing and timely diagnosis, and effective clinical management of moderate and severe cases through a well-implemented standard of care protocol increasing their chances of recovery.  -- PTI

Image: People defy social distancing norms in a market in Surat. Pic: ANI
17:16   Sushant's girlfriend asks Amit Shah for CBI probe
Actor Rhea Chakraborty on Thursday made an appeal to Union Home Minister Amit Shah to initiate a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into actor Sushant Singh Rajput's suicide case. Taking to social media, Chakraborty confirmed for the first time that she was the 'Kai Po Che!' actor's girlfriend and requested a CBI inquiry only to "understand what pressures prompted Sushant to take this step."

Along with a photo of Rajput, the 28-year-old actor wrote on Instagram, "Respected @amitshahofficial (Amit Shah) sir, I'm Sushant Singh Rajputs girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty, it is now over a month since his sudden demise. I have complete faith in the government, however, in the interest of justice, I request you with folded hands to initiate a CBI enquiry into this matter. I only want to understand what pressures prompted Sushant to take this step. Yours sincerely Rhea Chakraborty#satyamevajayate."

Earlier in the day, Chakraborty also said that she has been receiving death and rape threats on social media as she had gone silent after Rajput's sudden demise.

"I was called a gold digger ..I kept quiet. I was called a murderer ....I kept quiet. I was slut shamed ....I kept quiet. But how does my silence give you the right to tell me that you will get me RAPED and MURDERED if I don't commit suicide," the 'Jalebi' actor wrote on Instagram while sharing the screenshot of one such rape threat post.

Rajput was found hanging in his Mumbai residence on June 14. Chakraborty and Rajput were set to share screen space in director Rumi Jaffery's romcom. -- ANI
Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma
Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma
16:52   Meghalaya closes borders as Covid cases rise
All entry points of Meghalaya located at Byrnihat, Ratacherra, Bajengdoba, Tikrikilla, Mirjumla and Hallidayganj will remain closed from midnight of July 23 to midnight of July 31, an order issued by the Chief Secretary of the state said.

"Only movement related to emergency, medical and essential service, good and inter-state transit vehicles will be allowed during this period. All persons who intend to visit/return to Meghalaya are requested to reschedule their travel plans," Chief Secretary's orders stated. 

Ascertaining the reason for this closure, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma had earlier tweeted, "To unburden our health, frontline workers and district administration engaged in intensive surveillance for the past 4 months, the government has decided to close all entry points of the state (Byrnihat, Ratacherra, Bajengdoba, Tikrikilla, Mirjumla and Hallidayganj) from July 24-31, 2020."
16:48   India sets up air travel bubbles with US, France
India has established individual bilateral bubbles with France and the US that will allow airlines of each country in the pact to operate international flights, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Thursday, adding that similar arrangement with Germany and the UK will soon be permitted. 

An air bubble is a bilateral arrangement with a set of regulations and restrictions in which the carriers of the two countries can operate international flights.

Air France will be operating 28 flights between Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Paris from July 18 to August 1, the minister said at a press conference, adding that American carrier United Airlines will be flying 18 flights between India and the US from July 17 to July 31. 

"They (United) are flying a daily flight between Delhi and Newark and a thrice-a-week flight between Delhi and San Francisco," Puri noted. The minister said India is planning to establish a bubble with the UK soon under which there would be two flights per day between Delhi and London. 

"We have got a request from Germans also. I think the arrangement with Lufthansa is almost done...We are processing that request," Puri said. "Now we have many demands for air bubbles, but we need to be careful. We should permit that many only that we can handle," the minister noted. From India, Air India will be operating flights to France and US under these bubbles. -- PTI
16:08   Pilot camp to file fresh petition against disqualification move
The Rajasthan High Court on Thursday granted time to Sachin Pilot and 18 other dissident Congress MLAs to file an amended petition challenging the disqualification notices issued to them by the Rajasthan Speaker. The petition against the move to disqualify the rebel MLAs from the state assembly was taken up for hearing at 3 pm. But senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the petitioners, sought time to amend it. Salve argued that the MLAs wanted to challenge the constitutional validity of the notices and needed some time to file it afresh. The matter would now be heard by the division bench of the high court. PTI
15:59   India gets consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav
Indian citizen Kulbhushan Jadhav granted second consular access today. Indian officials at Pakistan foreign office, says Pakistan media. 
India on Thursday asked Pakistan to give "unconditional consular access" to Kulbhushan Jadhav, as per sources.
Earlier, Pakistan had claimed that he had refused to file a review plea on the Pakistani court military court's judgment which awarded the death penalty to Jadhav on charges of espionage. India said that he had been coerced into doing that. 

"Last time what they did was insulting to his mother, father and wife and insulting to India as a whole. So we want that consular access should be unconditional," said Arvind Singh, Kulbhushan Jadhav's childhood friend, speaking to ANI. Jadhav has been lodged in a Pakistani jail since 2016 when he was arrested in Pakistan on charges of espionage.
15:53   Modi consulting 50 top officials on economy
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is meeting top officials of the finance and commerce ministries later on Thursday to assess the impact of ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on the national economy, official sources said. They said the Prime Minister's focus will be on speedy recovery of the economy which has witnessed a slowdown in recent quarters due to falling consumer demand.

During this one-and-half-hour scheduled meeting through video conferencing, officials from the finance and commerce ministries will make presentations on the situation.

According to sources, the Prime Minister is taking inputs from top 50 officials. 

Earlier, he held three separate meetings with the Economic Advisory Council, Chief and Principal Economic Advisor at the Ministry of Finance and NITI Aayog.

To deal with the coronavirus crisis, the government in May had announced one of the world's biggest stimulus packages worth Rs 20.97 lakh crore with a focus on the survival of businesses and drawing a roadmap for economic revival.

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said the government is assessing the impact of COVID-19 on the Indian economy and will take more measure to address the issues if required. -- ANI
15:32   Salman wishes Katrina on her birthday
Salman Khan wishes Katrina Kaif on her birthday today with a picture of the two together (alongside). The Tiger Zinda Hai actor wished Katrina with a simple, 'Happy Birthday Katrina', message on Twitter. 

We took a look at the magic that Katrina Kaif weaves with these pictures. Take a look
15:18   Child-lifting rumour led to Palghar lynching: CID
The Maharashtra CID's chargesheet in the Palghar lynching case in which two monks and their driver were beaten to death by a mob three months ago, says that the incident was a fallout of rumours that child-lifting gangs were operating in the area whose members posed as seers or uniformed personnel like policemen, an official said. 

The Criminal Investigation Department on Wednesday filed the chargesheets, one running into 4,955 pages and another of 5,921 pages, in the court of Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) at Dahanu taluka in Palghar district located adjoining Mumbai. 

Two monks and their driver were lynched by the mob at Gadchinchale village in the district on April 16 when they were travelling in a car to Surat (Gujarat) to attend a funeral amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown.

"According to the chargesheet, a few days before the incident of lynching, rumours had spread in Gadchinchle village and the surrounding area about the child lifting gangs in operation," the official said on Thursday. 

"This has come to light during the investigation and any other angle for the lynching of sadhus has been ruled out," he said. According to the official, the CID also collected cyber evidence, including messages and posts about child- lifting gangs that were circulated on social media platforms in the area. -- PTI
15:14   14 priests at Tirupati temple test Covid +ve
14 priests of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams have tested positive for COVID-19. Anil Kumar Singhal, Executive officer of TTD today held a meeting with temple priests, health and vigilance officials.
14:49   Sachin Pilot's plea on disqualification at 3 pm
Update: The Rajasthan High Court will hear Thursday afternoon a petition filed on behalf of the Sachin Pilot camp, challenging a move to disqualify dissident MLAs from the state assembly. The plea against the disqualification notices sent from the Speaker's office to Pilot and 18 other Congress MLAs will be heard by Justice Satish Chandra Sharma. Abhishek Manu Singhvi will represent the Speaker.

The 19 MLAs were sent notices Tuesday by the Speaker after the Congress complained that they had defied a party whip to attend two Congress Legislature Party meetings. The Pilot camp, however, argues that a party whip applies only when the assembly is in session.

In its complaint to the Speaker, the Congress sought action against Pilot and the other dissidents under paragraph 2 (1) (a) of the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution. The provision disqualifies MLAs if they voluntarily give up the membership of the party which they represent in the House. The Congress said in the letter to Speaker C P Joshi that the Supreme Court has unequivocally held in the past that the provision comes into effect when the conduct of an MLA leads to this inference. 

Among those sent notices are Vishvendra Singh and Ramesh Meena, who were sacked along with Pilot from the state cabinet after their rebellion against Ashok Gehlot. 

Others include Deepender Singh Shekhawat, Bhanwar Lal Sharma and Harish Chandra Meena, who had also given statements to the media challenging the Gehlot government. Sachin Pilot has been upset since the Congress picked Gehlot for the chief minister's post after the 2018 assembly polls. In the 200-member assembly, the Congress has 107 MLAs and the BJP 72. -- PTI
14:34   'Sonia, Rahul, Priyanka are not on the same page'
What is going on in the Congress party? Nobody knows who is in control even as Sonia Gandhi continues to hold the post of interim president -- she will complete a year in office next month.

Syed Firdaus Ashraf/ spoke to veteran Congress watcher Rasheed Kidwai -- a Visiting Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation and the author of two books on the party: 24 Akbar Road and Sonia-A Biography -- to understand the convulsions with the nation's oldest political party against the backdrop of the battle between Congress leaders in Rajasthan this week.

Read the interview here
14:28   70 policemen asked us to vacate land: mother of Guna victim
Mother of victim in Guna incident says the police asked them to vacate the land. "70 policemen came and asked us to vacate land saying it belongs to the government. We requested them to let us reap agriculture produce first. But they started abusing and beating us. My son took poison in anger but police ignored. We admitted him to hospital."

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday condemned the attack on the Dalits by policemen in Madhya Pradesh's Guna district, saying "our fight is against this injustice". 

A purported video of the incident on social media showed the police hitting a Dalit man mercilessly with batons and his wife and others trying to save him. Sharing the video of the assault on Twitter, Gandhi said, "Our fight is against this mindset and injustice". 

Officials had said that a Dalit couple, who were being removed from a plot of government land allotted for a college in Guna city, consumed pesticide in protest on Tuesday.

"The (farm) land was reserved for a government model college. Rajkumar Ahirwar (38) and his wife Savitri (35) were working on the land. Gabbu Pardi, who had encroached on the land, had given them work," District Collector S Vishwanathan had said.

When officials asked them to vacate the field, they protested and drank pesticide at the behest of those who had encroached on the land, he had claimed. The two also refused to go to hospital so the police had to use force to take them to hospital, the collector had claimed. 
14:23   Odisha starts plasma therapy to treat Covid patients
The Odisha government on Thursday commenced plasma therapy for the treatment of COVID- 19 patients at a hospital in Cuttack, an official said. The procedure was conducted on a 48-year-old patient at the Ashwini Hospital for the first time in the state, technical advisor to the health department Dr Jayant Panda said.

"The patient has been administered B-positive plasma," he said. The state government had earlier announced that the plasma therapy would also be introduced in the SUM Hospital and the Kalinga Institute of Medical Sciences in Bhubaneswar.

In the plasma therapy, antibodies from blood of patients, who have recovered from coronavirus disease, are used to treat infected people. It is aimed at assessing the efficacy of convalescent plasma to limit complications of COVID-19 patients. -- PTI
Shivajirao Patil-Nilangekar
Shivajirao Patil-Nilangekar
14:16   Former Maha CM tests positive for coronavirus
Former Maharashtra chief minister Shivajirao Patil-Nilangekar tested positive for coronavirus in the state's Latur district on Thursday, a senior official said. The 88-year-old leader has been shifted to a hospital in Pune, located around 320 km from Latur, the official said. -- PTI
Prithviraj Meena
Prithviraj Meena
14:03   Raj Cong MLA challenges disqualification notice
Prithviraj Meena, MLA supporting Sachin Pilot, moves Rajasthan high court challenging state assembly Speaker's disqualification notice to them.

The matter will be heard at 3 pm today.

Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi to represent the MLAs.

Rajasthan Assembly Speaker C P Joshi had confirmed on Wednesday that disqualification notices were sent out to Pilot and 18 other MLAs on the basis of the complaint made by the party.

The dissidents were given time to reply by Friday.  -- ANI/PTI
13:33   Housing sales in Jan-June plunge to decade low
Housing sales in eight major cities of the country declined 54 per cent during January-June period to 59,538 units the lowest in 10 years as demand crashed after the imposition of the coronavirus pandemic-led lockdown late March, according to property consultant Knight Frank. 

In its flagship report - India Real Estate: H1 2020 - released on Thursday, Knight Frank India said that housing sales fell 27 per cent in January-March to 49,905 units across eight major cities - Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Pune, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad. The sales plunged 84 per cent in April-June to 9,632 units as the lockdown affected demanded badly. Delhi-NCR, Chennai and Hyderabad had near-zero sales during the second quarter of the calendar year. 

"After two years of steady demand, the home sales in top eight cities of India declined by a significant 54 per cent year-on-year (YoY) to a decadal low of 59,538 units during H1 2020 with sales mostly concentrated in the first quarter of calendar year," Knight Frank India said. 

Housing sales in H1 of 2019 stood at 1,29,285 units. New home launches reported a drop of 46 per cent to 60,489 units during January-June period of this year. 

The weighted average prices have also fallen across most cities in H1 2020 with NCR, Pune and Chennai saw the most correction at 5.8 per cent YoY, 5.4 per cent YoY and 5.5 per cent YoY, respectively. Information technology sector driven markets of Hyderabad and Bengaluru witnessed price growth of 6.9 per cent and 3.3 per cent during the same period. -- PTI
File pic
File pic
13:09   India, China review disengagement at LAC
Indian Army statement on LAC: "India and China have been engaged in discussions through established military and diplomatic channels to address the prevailing situation along LAC. Commanders from PLA and Indian Army held a meeting at Chushul, on the Indian side, for the fourth round of talks, on 14 July.

"Engagement was consistent with consensus between Special Representatives of India-China on 5 July, to discuss complete disengagement. 

"Senior Commanders reviewed progress on implementation of 1st phase of disengagement and discussed further steps to ensure complete disengagement.

"India and China remain committed to the objective of complete disengagement. This process is intricate and requires constant verification. They are taking it forward through regular meetings at diplomatic and military level."
12:42   Indian pharma firms can make Covid vaccines for entire world: Gates
India's pharmaceutical industry will be able to produce COVID-19 vaccines not just for the country but also for the entire world, according to Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates. 

A lot of "very important things have been done" in India and its pharma industry is doing work "to help make the coronavirus vaccine building on other great capacities that they have used for other diseases", said the Co-Chair and Trustee of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Speaking in a documentary -- COVID-19: India's War Against The Virus -- to be premiered on Discovery Plus this (Thursday) evening, Gates said India also faces a huge challenge due to the health crisis because of its gigantic size and urban centres with a lot of population density.

Commenting on the strength of India's pharma industry, he said, "India has a lot of capacity there -- with the drug and vaccine companies that are huge suppliers to the entire world. You know, more vaccines are made in India than anywhere-- starting with Serum Institute, that's the largest." 

He further said, "But (there are) also Bio E, Bharat (Biotech), many others. They are doing work to help make the coronavirus vaccine, building on other great capacities that they have used for other diseases." 

Stating that India joined Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which is a group working on a global basis to build vaccines platforms, Gates said, "I am excited that the pharmaceutical industry there will be able to produce not just for India but also for the entire world. (This is) What we need to reduce the deaths and make sure we are immune, which is how we end the epidemic." 

Gates said Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is also a "partner with the government, particularly with the department of biotechnology, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the office of the principal scientific advisor provide advice and help about getting these tools going". -- PTI
12:25   Sibal's dig at Pilot: What about ghar wapsi?
Taking a swipe at Sachin Pilot over his claim that he is not joining the BJP, senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Thursday asked what happens to his ghar wapsi' and whether Rajasthan's dissident legislators are vacationing in Haryana under the watchful eye of the saffron party. 

Pilot has been sacked by the party as Rajasthan deputy chief minister and PCC chief after he openly revolted against Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. 

As speculation mounted about his next steps, Pilot said he is not joining the BJP. 

"False rumours spread to malign. Pilot: 'I am not joining BJP'. I guess then legislators at a hotel in Manesar is merely a vacation in Haryana's comfort zone under BJP's watchful eye. What about 'ghar wapsi'," Sibal asked on Twitter.

Sibal had earlier said he was worried for the party and asked the party leadership if it will wake up after the horses have bolted. 

"Worried for our party. Will we wake up only after the horses have bolted from our stables," he had asked. Sibal's remarks about 'ghar wapsi' come after the Congress once again said the dissident MLAs can still return to the Congress fold. -- PTI
12:22   Chinese economy bounces back, expands 3.2%
China's economy bounced back by posting 3.2 per cent growth in the second quarter after a record 6.8 per cent slump in the first quarter due to the coronavirus crisis, avoiding a recession. 

The world's second-biggest economy saw a sharp decline in growth in the first three months of the year during unprecedented coronavirus lockdowns when the GDP plummeted by 6.8 per cent. China's gross domestic product expanded 3.2 per cent year on year in the second quarter of 2020, the country's National Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday. 

In the first half of this year, the country's GDP stood at 45.66 trillion yuan (about USD 6.53 trillion) amid COVID-19 impact, down 1.6 per cent year on year, according to NBS data. A breakdown of the data showed the output of the primary industry rose 0.9 per cent year on year, while the service sector and the secondary industry saw a decline of 1.6 per cent and 1.9 per cent, respectively. 

Thursday's data showed China's job market improved slightly in June, with the surveyed unemployment rate in urban areas standing at 5.7 per cent, down 0.2 percentage points from the previous month. Judging by the official data, analysts say it is a turnaround of sorts for the world's second-largest economy, which is the first one to recover from the coronavirus crisis without the hassles of lockdowns experienced by almost all countries in the world including the US.

As it came out from the coronavirus crisis in March-April, China cashed on growing COVID-19 demand for medical equipment from all around the world by exporting billions of dollars' worth of materials. -- PTI
File pic
File pic
12:02   Rahul wants Cong to give Pilot another chance
Despite accusing senior party leader Sachin Pilot of colluding with the BJP, the Congress has still kept its doors open for him and other rebel MLAs and they may be given another chance to return to the party fold. Sources stated that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is behind the softening of stance on rebels and he is understood to have instructed the party leaders to give Pilot another chance.

According to a Congress national leader in Jaipur, the party's doors are still open for Sachin Pilot because Rahul Gandhi has instructed that despite all the provocation, he should be given another chance. 

"Pilot should be given one more chance to join the family," he said.

Sources told ANI that Ahmed Patel, a leader very close to Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi, is in contact with the former Deputy Chief Minister of Rajasthan and is talking to him.

It was earlier believed that Rahul's had taken a tough stance on Pilot's rebellion. However, now according to the latest development, Rahul is trying to create an atmosphere of respectful return of Sachin.

According to sources, the directive from Rahul Gandhi came after the statement of Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Wednesday afternoon, in which Gehlot directly accused Pilot of being involved in the conspiracy to topple the government with the BJP and said that he has a proof regarding it.

Soon after this statement, Rahul Gandhi instructed the national leaders stationed in Jaipur that Pilot should be given a chance to return. After which, the national media in-charge Randeep Surjewala appealed through the media that Sachin Pilot should return to Jaipur with all his MLAs.

As a show of good faith, state NSUI President who was close to Pilot and was also removed has been given another chance on the instruction of Rahul Gandhi.

Congress had earlier called a legislature party meeting twice in Jaipur, which was boycotted by the MLAs of Sachin Pilot camp. Due to the rebellion, the post of Deputy Chief Minister and state president of Congress was taken away from Pilot. While action has been taken against his supporters as well and State Youth Congress head, Sewa Dal Chief who are MLAs have also been removed.

Eighteen Congress MLAs, along with Pilot, have been issued a show-cause notice for not attending the CLP meeting. Though Pilot has not returned to Jaipur from New Delhi, his demeanour seems to have become softer, party sources believe.

It is also important to note that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is in touch with Pilot. She has spoken to him several times and is pushing for his return to Jaipur. 

Several senior party leaders including Former Union Minister Jitin Prasad, Priya Dutt, Shashi Tharoor tweeted and pushed that talks should be initiated with Pilot.

The view was also lent support by veteran Congress leader Margaret Alva, who tweeted, "Differences are not anti-party. They have to be sorted out and compromises worked out. We have done it over the years." Her tweet was later endorsed by former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh.
Screen grab of the video
Screen grab of the video
11:33   Rahul Gandhi flays assault on Dalits in MP
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday condemned the attack on Dalits by policemen in Madhya Pradesh's Guna district, saying "our fight is against this injustice". A purported video of the incident on social media showed the police hitting a Dalit man mercilessly with batons and his wife and others trying to save him. 

Sharing the video of the assault on Twitter, Gandhi said, "Our fight is against this mindset and injustice". Officials had said that a Dalit couple, who were being removed from a plot of government land allotted for a college in Guna city, consumed pesticide in protest on Tuesday.

"The (farm) land was reserved for a government model college. Rajkumar Ahirwar (38) and his wife Savitri (35) were working on the land. Gabbu Pardi, who had encroached on the land, had given them work,"District Collector S Vishwanathan had said.

When officials asked them to vacate the field, they protested and drank pesticide at the behest of those who had encroached on the land, he had claimed. The two also refused to go to hospital so the police had to use force to take them to hospital, the collector had claimed. Taking serious view of the incident, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had ordered transfer of the collector and Superintendent of Police. -- PTI
Gangster Abu Salem
Gangster Abu Salem
11:24   Man who invested '93 blasts convict Abu Salem's money held
A key aide of 1993 Mumbai blasts case convict Abu Salem who worked in his illegal property business in NCT of Delhi has been arrested by the Special Task Force (STF) of the Uttar Pradesh police, officials said on Thursday. Gajendra Singh, who was also close to gangster Khan Mubarak, was nabbed in Mumbai late Wednesday night by the Noida unit of the STF, they said.

"Gajendra Singh had taken Rs 1.80 crore from a Delhi-based businessman in 2014 in a property-related case. When he was pressured to return the money, Singh had Khan Mubarak's shooters open fire at the businessman in sector 18 of Noida," Additional Superintendent of Police, STF, Raj Kumar Mishra said. The businessman was in his car when the attack took place, and he narrowly escaped, the officials said. -- PTI
11:16   Heavy rain forecast for Mumbai today
Heavy rains lashed Mumbai overnight with some parts receiving extremely heavy showers, the India Meteorological Department said on Thursday. Areas like Bandra and Mahalaxmi in the city received 201 mm and 129 mm rainfall, respectively, between 8.30 am on Wednesday and 6.30 am on Thursday, IMD Mumbai's Deputy Director General K S Hosalikar said. Heavy rainfall is likely in the city on Thursday, he said.

According to the IMD, the Santacruz weather bureau, representative of Mumbais suburbs, reported 191.2 mm rainfall during the 24-hour period ending at 8.30 am on Thursday, while the Colaba weather station in South Mumbai recorded 156.4 mm rainfall in the same time span.

It rained in Mumbai throughout the night, leading to extremely heavy falls at isolated places, Hosalikar tweeted. "Heavy showers are likely in Mumbai on Thursday, the official added. The Harnai weather station in coastal Ratnagiri district reported 127.2 mm rainfall during the 24-hour period, while the Ratnagiri observatory recorded 97.5 mm rains during the period. Nanded and Osmanabad districts in Marathwada region of the state received 96.4 mm and 25.8 mm rains, respectively.

The Thane Belapur Industries Association weather station recorded 58.8 mm rains, the IMD said. Jalgaon district in North Maharashtra received 53 mm rains, while Matheran and Alibaug in Raigad district reported 48 mm and 41.6 mm rainfall, respectively. Besides, Solapur district in western Maharashtra received 35 mm rain, while Dahanu observatory in Palghar district recorded 21.1 mm rainfall. PTI
10:59   Congress needs a hands-on leader who enjoys the confidence of the party
There is something of King Lear about Rahul Gandhi. Those he loves the most are the first to betray him. Those who he loves the least are those who remain with him. I should know

His two best friends when he entered Parliament in 2004 were Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot. He was always closeted with them. Remember the famous wink? And Rahul's statement that the only one who could wander into his home at any time was Scindia? It was their proximity to him that created the mythology of the older generation versus the younger, engaged in a life-and-death tussle to climb the maypole of prominence in the Congress. There were other youngsters who were more modest in their ambitions and in their achievements. They are the ones who remain in the ranks of the faithful. It is the high achievers who leave for what they believe to be richer pastures.

Read Mani Shankar Aiyar's column in the Indian Express 
10:43   US Congress writes to Trump to ban TikTok
25 US Congressmen and women write a letter to President Trump asking for a ban on the Chinese app, TikTok. "In June, India took an extraordinary step of banning Chinese affiliated-apps, including TikTok, due to national security concerns. CCP's systemic campaign to collect and illicitly transmit user data to Chinese govt is not unique to Indian consumers.

"US shouldn't trust TikTok or other Chinese-affiliated social media websites/apps to protect Americans' data, privacy or security. We urge you to take strong action to stop CCP's sophisticated espionage campaign against our country and protect our national security."

The United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week confirmed that the White House was "looking at" banning the Chinese social media apps including TikTok. 
10:21   India asks for unconditional access to Kulbhushan
India has asked Pakistan to give unconditional access to Kulbhushan Jadhav. Pakistan has claimed that Kulbhaushan Jadhav, a retired Indian Navy officer who is on a death row, has refused to file a review petition for reconsideration of his sentence and conviction.

Pakistan's additional attorney general claimed that Jadhav was invited to file a petition for review but he refused and instead decided to go ahead with his pending mercy plea. Pakistan has now reportedly offered a second consular access to Kulbushan Jadhav.
10:05   Sensex rises over 100 pts in early trade; Infosys soars 12 pc
Equity benchmark Sensex surged over 100 points in early trade on Thursday led by gains in index-heavyweight Infosys even as Asian peers traded with significant losses. 

The 30-share BSE Sensex was trading 116.77 points, or 0.32 per cent, higher at 36,168.58. Similarly, the NSE Nifty rose 18.65 points, or 0.18 per cent, to 10,636.85. 

Shares of Infosys rallied around 12 per cent after the IT major posted a stronger-than-expected 12.4 per cent rise in the first quarter consolidated net profit to Rs 4,272 crore, helped by large deals, and said its FY21 revenue is likely to grow by up to 2 per cent. HCL Tech, TCS, Tech Mahindra and Sun Pharma were the other gainers. On the other hand, ITC, HDFC, Titan, PowerGrid, NTPC and Tata Steel were among the laggards.
09:33   Highest spike of 32,695 Covid cases in 24 hrs
Highest single day spike of 32,695 COVID-19 cases and 606 deaths reported in the last 24 hours in India.

Total positive cases stand at 9,68,876 including 3, 31,146 active cases, 6,12,815 cured/discharged/migrated and 24,915 deaths, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.   -- ANI

IMAGE: A medic collects samples for COVID-19 testing, in New Delhi, on Wednesday. Photograph: Kamal Kishore/PTI Photo
09:05   No deal with India on Chabahar rail plan: Iran
Iran has refuted an Indian newspaper report claiming that New Delhi had been 'dropped' from the Chabahar-Zahedan railway project.

One of the deputies to Iran's Ports and Maritime Organisation, Farhad Montaser said the story was 'totally false because Iran has not inked any deal with India regarding the Chabahar-Zahedan' railway, reported Al Jazeera on Wednesday.

'Iran has only signed two agreements with Indians for investment in Chabahar: one is related to the port's machinery and equipment, and the second is related to India's investment to the tune of $150 million,' Montaser was quoted by an Iran news agency.

He summed up by saying that 'sanctions have nothing to do to Iran-India's cooperation in Chabahar'.

The United States, in 2018, had agreed to a waiver on Chabahar port projects under the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act (IFCA) of 2012.

Earlier, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani had described the port as a 'vital part of structuring Iran's economic future'.

The Indian public sector railway company Ircon International has pledged to provide all services and funding for the project, estimated at about $1.6 billion, according to known reports. -- ANI
Representative image
Representative image
09:00   20 staffers test COVID-19 positive at Bihar Guv's house
Around 20 members tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday at the Bihar Governor, Phagu Chauhan's house in Patna, state officials informed.

Earlier on the same day, Bihar Bharatiya Janata Party state president and Lok Sabha MP from Bettiah, Sanjay Jaiswal, his wife and mother also tested positive for coronavirus after several BJP leaders from the party headquarters in Patna were diagnosed positive for the virus.

As per data from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Bihar now has a total of 19,284 positive COVID cases, including 6,261 active cases and 12,849 Recoveries.

So far, 174 lives have been claimed by the infectious virus. -- ANI
08:40   Tough day for us at Twitter: Jack
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweets: 'Tough day for us at Twitter. We all feel terrible this happened. We're diagnosing and will share everything we can when we have a more complete understanding of exactly what happened.'
08:13   Twitter accounts of Obama, Musk, Gates hacked
A number of high profile Twitter accounts including that of United States presidential hopeful Joe Biden, Former President Barack Obama, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Microsoft Co-founder Bill Gates, Amazon chief Jeff Bezos and of Apple were simultaneously hacked on Wednesday by attackers to carry out what appeared to be a cryptocurrency scam.

According to The Verge, the Tesla CEO's account issued a strange tweet at 4.17 pm ET this afternoon reading, 'I'm feeling generous because of Covid-19. I'll double any BTC payment sent to my BTC address for the next hour. Good luck, and stay safe out there!'

The tweet also contained a bitcoin address, presumably one associated with the hacker's crypto wallet.

The tweet was then deleted and replaced by another one more plainly laying out the fake promotion.

'Feeling grateful doubling all payments sent to my BTC address! You send $1,000, I send back $2,000! Only doing this for the next 30 minutes,' it read before also getting deleted.

Bill Gates tweet was similar to Elon Musk's and with identical BTC address. It was also later deleted.

Both accounts are continuing to post new tweets promoting the scam almost as fast as they are deleted.

Shortly after the initial wave of tweets, the accounts of Apple, Uber, Kanye West and Mike Bloomberg have also been hacked and are promoting the show widespread the operation is, but it appears to be affecting major companies and extremely high-profile individuals.

Popular crypto Twitter accounts, including those of Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss' Gemini cryptocurrency exchange and widely used wallet app Coinmbase, were also compromised.

The microblogging site said it is investigating the incident and taking steps to fix it.

In a first response after the incident, Twitter Support tweeted: 'We are aware of a security incident impacting accounts on Twitter. We are investigating and taking steps to fix it. We will update everyone shortly.'

Twitter also halted the ability for some accounts to send new tweets following the massive hacker attack.

'You may be unable to Tweet or reset your password while we review and address the incident,' Twitter Support tweeted.

'We're continuing to limit the ability to Tweet, reset your password, and some other account functionalities while we look into this. Thanks for your patience,' it added.

While Twitter hasn't confirmed how the block works, it appears to only apply to accounts that have been verified by Twitter, The Verge said.

Twitter's verification system grants a blue checkmark to let users know that an 'account of public interest is authentic'.   -- ANI
00:14   George Floyd family sues US police officers
George Floyd's family filed a lawsuit against the city of Minneapolis and the four police officers charged in his death, alleging the officers violated Floyd's rights when they restrained him and that the city allowed a culture of excessive force, racism and impunity to flourish in its police force.

"This complaint shows what we have said all along, that Mr Floyd died because the weight of the entire Minneapolis Police Department was on his neck, attorney Ben Crump, who was representing the Floyd family, said in a statement. 

"The City of Minneapolis has a history of policies, procedures and deliberate indifference that violates the rights of arrestees, particularly Black men, and highlights the need for officer training and discipline." 

Floyd, a Black man who was handcuffed, died May 25 after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, pressed his knee against Floyd's neck for nearly eight minutes as Floyd said he couldn't breathe. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. 

Three other officers at the scene -- Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J Kueng -- are charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter.

All four officers were fired the day after Floyd's death, which set off protests that spread around the world and turned into a national reckoning on race in America.