Australia, Netherlands plan fresh attempt to reach MH17 site

News4u-News Desk- A team of Dutch and Australian police will on Monday again attempt to reach the crash site of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, a senior Australian official said, although he warned the situation was volatile.

An unarmed team of Dutch and Australian officers was forced to drop their plans to visit the site in eastern Ukraine on Sunday as heavy bombardments rocked towns close to the area where the plane was shot down, killing all 298 on board.

And tensions led the Netherlands to scrap a plan to send an international armed mission in to secure the site in the rebel-contested area, with the Dutch Prime Minister saying it was “not realistic”.

Australian Federal Police deputy commissioner Andrew Colvin said another attempt would be made Monday.

“As you know, the mission was aborted overnight due to the intensity of the fighting occurring both on the route into the crash site as well as at the crash site itself,” he told reporters.

“I recently got off the phone from our commander in Ukraine about the activities expected again for today and again in company with our Dutch counterparts and the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) monitors we will attempt again to gain access to the site today.

“Of course it is a highly volatile area and I should stress that safety is paramount in our minds, safety of the Australian and Dutch officials and the OSCE officers as well.”

Earlier Monday, Colvin cautioned that if fighting in the area was a genuine offensive to take back ground, “we may be some days before we can feel safe and secure to go back in there”.

He added that Australian police would have no role in securing the site and would only be involved in a detailed examination of the crash area, which Colvin estimated would take five to seven days initially.

Dutch authorities on Sunday said the team was currently in Donetsk, a rebel stronghold about 60 kilometres (35 miles) from the crash site.

So far investigators have visited the site only sporadically because of security concerns, even though a truce had been called in the immediate area around the site by both the Kiev forces and pro-Russian separatists.

The Netherlands and Australia together lost some 221 citizens in the crash.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop arrived in Kiev day for talks with the Ukrainian government to try to ensure the safety of the Dutch and Australian team.

“We are aware this plane was shot down over a war zone and that news of the fighting has intensified is perhaps inevitable, but we are planning for those risks,” she said.

MH17 Crash site

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Members to 18 committees elected unanimously

News4u-News Desk-Notwithstanding the ongoing BJP-Congress row over the Leader of Opposition issue, some signs of bonhomie returned to Parliament with members to as many as 18 committees and government bodies being elected unanimously for the first time in decades.

Among the Committees to which unanimous elections have been held under the BJP-led government are the all important parliamentary financial committees including the crucial Public Accounts Committee, the Estimates Committee and the Committee on Public Undertakings.

A majority of BJP members were elected in the Committees, which have representation of various other parties including the opposition.

In the 30-member Committee on Estimates, BJP has 18 while Congress, Trinamool Congress and AIADMK have two each. The BJD, TRS, RJD, CPI-M, Shiv Sena and TDP have one member each.

The Committee’s Chairmanship is likely to go to Murli Manohar Joshi, who is the senior-most member.

In the all-important Committee on Public Accounts, the BJP has eight members, while others include a member each from Congress, Trinamool Congress, Akali Dal, NPF, AIADMK, BJD and Shiv Sena. The Committee Chairmanship can go to K V Thomas of Congress.

A maximum of seven members can be nominated by the Rajya Sabha to this panel that looks into the finance and accounts of the government and scrutinises the Appropriation Accounts of Government of India and Report of the Comptroller & Auditor General of India.

In the Committee on Public Enterprises, of the 15 members elected unanimously are 9 from BJP and one each from Congress, TDP, Trinamool Congress, AIADMK and BJD.

Its chairmanship is likely to go to Shanta Kumar or Ramesh Bais of BJP.

Also in this list are committees for the Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and the committee on OBCs, besides 13 important government bodies like the Coir Board, Tea Board, Coffee Board, Khadi Village and Industries Board and the ESIC.

Sources said better floor management and coordination with the opposition parties led to mutual agreement between leaders of various parties, resulting in unanimous election following withdrawal of nominations by as many as 34 MPs.

There were a total of 159 nominations that were received for as many as 148 positions in 18 committees and government bodies.

Sources said the Parliamentary Financial Committees are keenly contested for the last many years, but this time the new government has helped formulate them within the first few days of the first Session of the 16th Lok Sabha.

The sources recalled that the last time such unanimous elections were held to the important parliamentary panels and government bodies was in 1984 when Congress was elected with an absolute majority.

In the all-important Committee on Public Accounts, the prominent members of BJP include S S Ahluwalia, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Janardan Singh Sigriwal, Kirit Somaiya and party’s young leaders Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Anurag Thakur, Nishikant Dubey and former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha’s son Jayant Sinha.

Among those from the other parties who are members of this panel are Sudip Bandyopadhyay (TMC), M Thambidurai (AIADMK), K V Thomas (Congress), Ranjit Singh Brahmpura (Akali Dal), Neiphiu Rio (NPF), Bhartruhari Mehtab (BJD) and Gajanan Kirtikar (Shiv Sena).

Among the BJP members elected unanimously to the Committee on Public Undertakings are Ramesh Bais, Pankaj Chowdhary, Nand Kumar Singh Chauhan, Dilipkumar Mansukhlal Gandhi, Shanta Kumar, Khambhampati Haribabu, Yogi Adityanand, Prahlad Patel and Ram Sinh Rathwa.

The other members in the panel are Biren Singh Engti (Congress), Baijayant Panda (BJD), Rayapati Sambasiva Rao (TDP), Saugata Roy (TMC) and B Senguttuvan (AIADMK).

The panel examines reports and accounts of Public Undertakings of the Government of India and also examines CAG reports on the Public Undertakings.

In the Committee on Estimates, the prominent members of various parties elected are former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and K H Muniyappa (both Congress), P Kumar and K N Ramachandran (both AIADMK), Kalyan Banerjee and Sultan Ahmed (both TMC), Kalikesh Singh Deo (BJD), J C Divakar Reddy (TDP), Mohammed Salim (CPI-M), Kavitha Kalvakuntla (TRS), Jai Prakash Narayan Yadav (RJD) and Arvind sawant (Shiv Sena).

Among the prominent BJP members on this panel are Murli Manohar Joshi, Kirti Azad, Ashwini Choubey, Sanjay Jaiswal, Vinod Khanna, Kirti Vardhan Singh and Ram Kripal Yadav.

The Committee is to suggest improvements in organisation, efficiency or administrative reform besides alternative policies in order to bring about efficiency and economy in administration.


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AAP not to contest coming assembly polls in 4 states: Kejriwal

News4u-News Desk- The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has said it would not contest upcoming assembly elections in Haryana, Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir and Jharkhand due to limited resources.

However, the party would contest two assembly bypolls in Punjab slated for 21st August, AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal said after the conclusion of party’s 3-day national executive meet in Sangrur on Sunday.

It was decided at the meeting that the party would not contest assembly elections in Haryana, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Jammu and Kashmir, he said.

“The AAP has limited resources,” the former Delhi Chief Minister said but added the party would fight coming assembly bypolls in Punjab.

He called on party workers from all over the country to focus on Delhi assembly polls.

Kejriwal accused Delhi’s Lt Governor Najeeb Jung of succumbing to BJP’s pressure for not announcing elections in the national capital.

He also accused the BJP of trying to lure his party’s MLAs by promising them ministerial berths in its effort to form government in Delhi.

“But, the party miserably failed to lure even a single AAP MLA. Otherwise, the party would have been invited by the LG to form government,” Kejriwal said.

The AAP would try to strengthen its base in Punjab, Kejriwal said as the party announced names of candidates for two assembly bypolls in Punjab.

The party won four seats in the recent Lok Sabha polls in the state.


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Another batch of devotees leaves for Amarnath

News4u-News Desk- Amid tight security, the 32nd batch of pilgrims left for the Amarnath cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas from Jammu on Monday.

As many as 460 pilgrims, including 244 men, 113 women and three children left from the Bhagwati Nagar base camp in Jammu in a cavalcade of 14 vehicles at 4:20 AM, police said.

The convoy has already crossed Patnitop on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway and would reach their destinations at Baltal and Pahalgam base camps by Monday evening, they said.

With Monday’s batch, a total of 51,715 pilgrims have so far left from the Jammu base camp for the Amarnath shrine.

Another batch of devotees leaves for Amarnath

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Serial bomb blast accused killed in encounter

News4u-News Desk- A NDFB-Songbijit militant, wanted by CBI in 2008 Guwahati serial bomb blast case, was killed in an encounter with police in Assam’s Kokrajhar district on Sunday, a top police officer said.

“The insurgent identified as Uttam Swargiary alias Ulafat (40) exchanged fire with the police at Hazuriguri Bombazar in Kachugaon police station,” IGP LR Bishnoi said on Sunday.

A pistol with four live rounds of ammunition and two fired rounds, two grenades and two mobile phone sets were recovered from the slain ultra, he said.

The extremist was wanted by CBI for planting the bombs in Guwahati, Bishnoi said, adding, Swargiary was a senior cadre of the second batch of National Democratic Front of Bodoland-Songbijit.

The bomb blasts in Guwahati and nearby districts in Assam on 30th October 2008 had claimed nearly 100 lives and injured over 470 people.

Guwahati Blast-File Photo

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Goa’s new mediclaim scheme to be notified in a week

News4u-News Desk- The Goa government has said the modified mediclaim scheme covering its population would be notified within a week.

State Health Minister Laxmikant Parsekar told the Legislative Assembly on Monday that the ceiling of benefit under this scheme would be raised, compared to the earlier one.

A family of three members will be entitled to Rs 2.5 lakh claim, and that of more than three to Rs four lakh annually under this scheme, he said.

Independent legislator Naresh Sawal, raising the issue during the Question Hour, charged that the state government has been dragging its feet over the scheme.

The Manohar Parrikar government had after coming to power scrapped the earlier Congress-led government’s ‘Swarnajayanti Bima Yojna’, while continuing with the old mediclaim scheme.

Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, intervening in the discussion, claimed that the scheme notified by the Congress-led government had several lacunae, causing whopping losses to the state government.

“If we had not scrapped the scheme, the government would have been facing a loss of Rs 40 crore,” he said.

Parsekar said the new scheme will also benefit the state-run medical institutions as they will get money from the insurance company depending on the number of patients treated by them.

Besides private hospitals, the scheme will also cover state-run Goa Medical College, and district and sub-district hospitals.

Goa Map

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SGPC row: Punjab attacks Haryana, knocks on Centre’s doors

News4u-News Desk- As its face-off with Haryana intensifies over the separate SGPC issue, Punjab government on Friday appealed to the Centre against the former’s move in this regard, which it described as an attack on the country’s integrity.

Upping the ante ahead of the congregation of Sikhs which is to be held in Amritsar on Sunday to discuss the issue, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Sukhbir Singh Badal met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi on Friday.

“The government of Haryana has taken a decision which will basically harm national integration… It is an attack on India’s unity,” Sukhbir Badal told reporters after taking up the issue with Rajnath and Jaitley.

“They (Haryana) have challenged the authority of the Government of India, they have violated every article, every word of the Constitution… they have done something which is unimaginable in the history of this country,” he added.

Sunday’s meet in Amritsar was called after the Haryana government refused to heed the Centre’s missive to revoke the law passed for the creation of a separate SGPC for the state, which Punjab has termed “unconstitutional” and “illegal”.

SAD sources said the meet may be led by its patron and Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who may even quit his post over the issue if required.

Haryana has brushed aside the Centre’s directive calling for the annulment of the Act, saying it has every right to enact a law and the Haryana Gurdwara Act has been passed under its legislative powers. It has instead asked the Centre to withdraw its letter.

There is talk that the Centre may resort to a Presidential Reference to annul the Haryana legislation.

The Union Law Ministry has told Home Ministry that it has the executive powers under Article 256 to give directions to a state in such cases.

At Mohali in Punjab, Chief Minister Parkash Badal said that the Centre has promised an early resolution to the issue.

SAD sources have questioned the timing of the Congress-led Haryana government move, wondering why such a step was not taken when the party was in power at the Centre as the leader of the UPA alliance.

They added that the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was opposed to any such proposal.

Further slamming the Haryana government, Sukhbir Badal’s wife and Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said, “No party has the right to break the Constitution for their political gains. We have raised the issue with the Centre. It is up to the Centre now to ensure that there is no constitutional breakdown.”

She said it was unfortunate that a constitutional crisis has been created by Haryana which has led to a situation where clashes are feared between the Sikh communities in the two neighbouring states.

“A group of people who are on their way out have created a constitutional crisis,” she said.

Asked about the Sikh congregation on 27th July in Amritsar, Kaur said, “They are going to take a unanimous decision as to what is to be done next.

“Religious and political leaders of the Sikh community, from not just the country but also abroad, will gather and take a decision that will be binding on all. They will decide what would be the role of the party, the chief minister and the Sikh panth.”

Punjab has been maintaining that the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), the supreme body of Sikhs for the management of gurdwaras, was formed under the Central Gurdwara Act, 1925, and Haryana has no legal authority to enact a law for a separate SGPC.

The Centre last week asked the Haryana Governor to withdraw the assent granted to a bill which aims to create a separate gurdwara management committee, saying the state Assembly did not have legal authority to enact such a law and it was thus ‘void’.

SGPC row: Punjab attacks Haryana, knocks on Centre’s doors

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Visit to Nepal more successful than expected: Swaraj

News4u-News Desk-External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has described her three-day visit to Nepal as very successful during which the two neighbours agreed to finalise the text of a power trade deal and review and adjust a crucial treaty of 1950 to reflect the current realities.

“I am highly satisfied with my visit to Nepal and the visit was more successful than expected,” Swaraj said talking briefly to media persons at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu on Sunday.

“I had come here with high expectations and aspirations and the visit turned to be much more successful than I had expected earlier,” Swaraj said.

“I have already said that the visit would strengthen Nepal-India relations and we have prepared a full roadmap for the purpose,” she said.

Swaraj said both sides removed hurdles and agreed to step up cooperation in a number of key areas.

During her visit, the External Affairs Minister met Nepal’s top leaders including President Ram Baran Yadav and Prime Minister Sushil Koirala.

Swaraj also met UCPN-Maoist chief and Leader of Opposition Prachanda.

Swaraj on Sunday morning called on Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bamdev Gautam, who is also the acting chairman of the CPN-UML, which is a constituent of the ruling coalition.

Swaraj was in Nepal to co-chair the meeting of the Indo-Nepal Joint Commission (JC) which was held on Saturday after a gap of 23 years and to prepare the ground for the two-day official visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi from 3rd August- the first visit by an Indian Premier in over 17 years.

The late Prime Minister I K Gujral had visited Nepal in 1997.

“We have agreed on 26 points,” Swaraj said mentioning about the 26 point joint communique issued at the conclusion of the Nepal-India Joint Commission Meeting.

“The bond of friendship will be further consolidated in the days ahead,” she said.

She also performed prayers at the revered Hindu temple Pashupatinath on Sunday morning amid tight security.

During the visit, India told Nepal that the new Indian government is very keen to impart “renewed momentum” to their multifaceted bilateral ties even as the two countries decided to step up cooperation in key areas of defence, security, trade and hydro power.

The two countries also agreed to review and adjust the Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1950 to reflect the current realties.

The Joint Commission directed the Foreign Secretaries to make necessary recommendations.

The agreement between the two countries comes in the wake of various political parties in Nepal demanding revision of treaties such as 1950 Peace and Friendship Treaty with India, terming them ‘unequal’.

Nepal had convinced India to take up the issue in the JC meeting arguing that the political context in 1950, when the treaty was signed, was completely different from today’s.

“Since many changes have transpired over the years we need to find solution to avoid any disputes,” Mahendra Bahadur Pandey, the Nepalese foreign minister was quoted as saying by the media.

The meeting also directed the Nepal-India Boundary Working Group (BWG) to commence field works at the earliest to settle the border disputes over Susta and Kalapani.

The BWG is entrusted with the responsibility to make recommendations based on facts and evidences available to their respective governments to permanently settle disputes.

The two leaders underscored the importance of harnessing vast hydropower potentials of Nepal for mutual benefits.

They directed the concerned authorities to finalise the text of a Power Trade Agreement (PTA) at the earliest.

While noting the finalisation of the Terms of Reference of the Pancheswar Development Authority, they directed the concerned authorities for early completion of the Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the Pancheshwar Multipurpose Project.

The Joint Commission expressed satisfaction over the implementation of 400 kV Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur Double Circuit Cross-Border Transmission Interconnection and noted that the transmission interconnection would integrate the power grids on the two sides of the border and pave the way to initiate unfettered flow of power between the two countries.

The Joint Commission decided to expedite the construction of 132 kV Kataiya-Kusaha and 132 kV Raxaul-Parwanipur Transmission Line Projects so that the transmission lines would help import additional power from India in the short term and help address power deficit situation in Nepal.

The two sides issued a joint statement which said the meeting reviewed the entire gamut of Nepal-India relations and affirmed that the Joint Commission would make an important contribution to strengthen the traditionally warm and close ties between the two countries.

The two ministers expressed satisfaction over the ongoing cooperation in defence sector.

They expressed happiness over the ongoing cooperation between the security agencies of both nations and emphasised the need for promoting greater collaboration and cooperation in combating cross-border crimes.

“They reiterated the commitment of their respective governments not to allow their territories to be used against each other,” the joint statement said.

The two sides noted the significance of enhancing productive capacity in agriculture to positively impact on livelihoods of the people.

The Indian side would continue to supply chemical fertilizers to Nepal and extend cooperation for the establishment of a Deemed Agricultural University, it said.

The two ministers stressed the need for further enhancing bilateral trade and investment to foster mutually beneficial economic growth and development.

They noted Nepal’s trade deficit with India and agreed to take effective measures to address the problem.

Both sides stressed the need to complete necessary formalities to enable entry into force of the Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement (BIPPA).

In order to promote Nepal’s exports to India, the Indian side agreed to further relax the rules of origin requirements; simplifying and streamlining transit and customs related procedures; eliminating TBT and making the SPS related measures less stringent; and lifting quantitative restrictions on the export of Nepalese products to India.

At present the annual bilateral trade is nearly USD 4.7 billion and India accounts for 47 percent of foreign direct investment in Nepal.

The Nepalese leaders during their meetings with Swaraj expressed their happiness and excitement over the initiative taken by India to bring new momentum in ties and said they have high expectations from the forthcoming visit of Prime Minister Modi.

Sushma Swaraj

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Liam Payne shares nude pic on Instagram

News4u-Entertainment Desk- London: One Direction`s Liam Payne recently stripped completely naked and posted the picture on his Instagram account.

The 20-year-old singer, who pixelated his little gems out captioned the pic saying that it was his last pair, reportedly.

Payne posted the naked pic whilst having a good time on a boat.

Though he seemed to be starkers, the image is pixelated- much to the dismay of his die hard fans.

It wasn’t long before the hashtag #Uncensoritliam began to trend online and some fans even attempted to “uncensor” the snap themselves.

The high profile performer captioned the picture, “Damn that was my last pair!”

However, hours after the original upload- the cheeky chap shared the real deal: the pre-pixelated image that proved he did have his smalls on after all. ANI

Liam Payne

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Hamas agrees to 24-hour humanitarian truce in Gaza; toll 1060

News4u-News Desk- Ahead of the Muslim holy festival of Eid, Hamas on Sunday agreed to a 24-hour UN-brokered humanitarian truce after initially rejecting it as the 20-day Gaza conflict killed 1,060 Palestinians and 46 Israelis, including an Indian-origin soldier

“As a preparation for the end of Ramadan and in response to the UN mediation and also regarding our people’s living circumstances, we have agreed with all Palestinian factions to give a 24-hour humanitarian ceasefire starting from 14:00 on Sunday,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement.

Israel late last night had extended by another 24 hours the truce announced yesterday, but Hamas had rejected it saying no ceasefire is valid without Israeli troops and tanks withdrawing from Gaza and that it would only halt rocket attacks on Israel once the displaced were allowed to return home.

However, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today accused Hamas of violating the ceasefire that it had itself called and vowed that Israeli operations in Gaza would go on.

“They (Hamas) are violating their own ceasefire. Under these circumstances, Israel will do what it must do to defend its people,” Netanyahu told the news agency.

Earlier, the Israeli cabinet while announcing the ceasefire had said that the army would act if it is breached by Hamas.

Hamas had said in a statement that “no humanitarian ceasefire is valid without Israeli tanks withdrawing from the Gaza Strip and without residents being able to return to their homes and ambulances carrying bodies being able to freely move around in Gaza”.

Hamas fired several rockets at Israel from the Gaza Strip, after the initial 12-hour truce ended.

It also accused Israel of using previous ceasefires to prepare for more attacks and claimed that there had been truce violations yesterday.

During the original 12-hour ceasefire, Palestinians frantically scoured through rubble with medics saying over 130 bodies had been retrieved across the Gaza Strip.

The health ministry in Gaza said 1,060 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed and about 6,000 wounded since Israel launched its Gaza offensive on July 8.

Meanwhile, 46 Israelis have been killed in the fighting in the Gaza Strip aimed at ending rocket fire against Israel and destroying a sophisticated network of cross-border tunnels.

Sergeant First Class Barak Refael Degorker, a 27-year-old Indian-origin reservist from the town of Gan Yavne, was severely injured in the mortar fire overnight and later succumbed to his wounds, the Israeli army said on Sunday.

Hamas agrees to 24-hour humanitarian truce in Gaza; toll 1060

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