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#* Not thinking of resigning, says top cop Rakesh Maria after transfer
A day after he was shunted out of the post of Mumbai Police Commissioner, senior IPS officer Rakesh Maria on Wednesday said he was not contemplating quitting.
"I am not thinking of resigning. Reports saying so are not true," Maria told PTI.
There was speculation after Maria's sudden promotion that he might resign from the post as he was apparently unhappy with the action.
Maria, who was heading the high-profile Sheena Bora murder case and had interrogated the accused, was promoted and transferred to a non-descript and unchallenging post of being the director general of Home Guards.
He was replaced by Ahmed Javed, a DG-rank official, who took over as Mumbai Police commissioner in the upgraded post.
Maharshtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had cleared both the appointments before he left for Japan on Monday.
However, after the sudden action that created quite a flutter, the Maharashtra government climbed down in the evening and said he would continue to "supervise" the probe. The decision came under attack from opposition Congress and NCP.
Maria, 58, who made his mark as a traffic cop, leapt into the limelight when he led a team to crack the 1993 Mumbai blasts case within 24 hours, inspiring noted director Anurag Kashyap to create the groundbreaking film, Black Friday.
He also managed the 26/11 attacks investigation where he interrogated the sole surviving Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist, Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab.
The top cop had taken a keen interest in the Sheena Bora murder probe and was leading the questioning of key people linked to the case, including Indrani, her husband and former Star India CEO Peter Mukerjea as well as her ex-husband, Sanjeev Khanna.
This also brought him criticism from several quarters and the decision to move him was taken last week during a meeting of the departmental promotion committee headed by Bakshi.
Javed, who took charge as Mumbai’s police commissioner, lost the race to Maria in 2013, for the prestigious post that sources say is often lobbied for by officers and even politicians who want their picks to get the job.
Known for his strict attitude towards criminals, he worked as joint commissioner of Mumbai Police (law and order) and was responsible for closely monitoring and handling witnesses in the Best Bakery case from the 2002 Gujarat riots after the Supreme Court moved the trial to Maharashtra.
NCP alleged that Maria was abruptly transferred owing to "political pressure" from Centre and to stop the probe into the money laundering angle in INX Media, founded by Indrani Mukerjea, prime accused in Sheena Bora murder case, and her husband Peter Mukerjea.
"The transfer (of Maria as Mumbai police commissioner) was done so as to stop investigations into the money laundering angle into INX Media, floated by Peter and Indrani Mukerjea, in which foreign companies from Singapore, UK and USA had invested about Rs 500 crore," NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik said.
#* 'Around 7-8 men raped us in a day sometimes', Nepalese rape victims rescued from Saudi diplomat's house speak out
The Nepalese woman along with her daughter who were rescued from the Gurgaon residence of a diplomat from Saudi Arabia, recounted their ordeal on Wednesday, saying that they were raped by five to six men.
They brought friends from outside they use to rape us when the family went out, five to six person use to come from outside and rape us inside the locked room. They use to threaten us of our life, said the older woman.
They have not paid us for last four months, we were working as maids in his home. We worked for a month at Delhi, and then he took us to Saudi and then brought us back to Gurgaon, she added.
#* Queen Elizabeth II surpasses Queen Victoria's long reign
London: Queen Elizabeth II has reached a major milestone by becoming the longest-reigning monarch in Britain's history. She passes Queen Victoria, her great-great-grandmother, who was on the throne for 63 years and 7 months.
Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday that millions on Britons would celebrate the queen's "historic moment." "Over the last 63 years, Her Majesty has been a rock of stability in a world of constant change and her selfless sense of service and duty has earned admiration not only in Britain, but right across the globe," Cameron said."It is only right that today we should celebrate her extraordinary record, as well as the grace and dignity with which she serves our country."
Buckingham Palace marked the event by releasing an official photograph of the queen taken by Mary McCartney, a photographer who is the daughter of former Beatle Paul McCartney.
Elizabeth came to the throne in 1952 upon the death of her father King George VI. She was touring a remote part of Kenya when news of her father's death arrived.
Her official coronation came the following year and was one of the first major public events to be televised in Britain.
The 89-year-old monarch has cut back on her international travel and has lightened her workload somewhat, but she still carries out many royal duties.
#* List of Tax Exemptions to be Phased Out in Few Days: Arun Jaitley
New Delhi: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said the government in the next few days will bring out a list of tax exemptions to be phased out as part of the exercise to reduce corporate tax rate to 25 per cent in four years.
The minister also said measures to protect domestic steel sector from dumping by overseas manufacturers are being examined.
Stating that every tax demand cannot be termed as tax terrorism, he said, the government will not relent on pursuing black money in India or abroad.
As regards his Budget announcement of reducing corporate tax rate to 25 per cent, Mr Jaitley said, "over the next few days we will come out with list of exemptions, which we intend to phase out in the first place. Over the next four years corporate tax will come down by 5 per cent and lot of exemptions will get phased out.
"Therefore slowly we will bring taxation levels to global standards and make taxation assessment and return simpler by just eliminating a lot of exemptions." Mr Jaitley was speaking at 'India Summit 2015' organised by UK-based Economist magazine.
The finance minister in his 2015 Budget had announced that the government would reduce the rate of corporate tax from 30 per cent to 25 per cent over the next four years to align the rates with competing countries.
In view of surge in import of various categories of steel, the Directorate General of Safeguards (DGS) has already initiated an inquiry into the imports of steel from China, Korea, Japan and Russia.
#* Watch: Shocking video of Hungarian journalist tripping a refugee will make you question humanity
If there were awards being given for insensitive behaviour then this Hungarian journalist would win the prize hands down. In a shocking incident that took place at the Roeszke Refugee Camp in Hungary, a journalist was seen tripping a father who is holding a child in her arm. The video was apparently captured by a German correspondent. The camerawoman is believed to have worked for Hungarian broadcaster N1 and has reportedly been fired.
On its Web site, the TV station posted a statement that read: "Today, a N1TV colleague behaved unacceptably at the Roeszke reception center. The cameraman's employment was terminated with immediate effect." The statement was signed by N1TV editor Szabolcs Kisber.
#* British Airways flight evacuated after plane’s engine catches fire during takeoff
More than a dozen people have been hurt after a London-bound British Airways plane caught fire on a runway at a Las Vegas airport.
The left engine of the Boeing 777-200 burst into flames at McCarran International Airport, forcing 159 passengers and 13 crew to evacuate through emergency slides.
The airport said all passengers and crew had made it off the plane safely, while British Airways said the fire was caused by a ‘technical issue’ as the plane was preparing to take-off.
At least 14 people have been treated for minor injuries, according to fire officials who said many were a result of sliding down inflatable escape chutes.
At a press conference, an airport spokeswoman said: ‘All passengers were evacuated quickly and safely and taken by bus to the terminal.
#* Google gets into the home-delivered grocery game with Express
First they came for your search, then they came for your phone, now they want your groceries. Google is getting into the fresh foods business. The company confirmed on Tuesday that Google Express, the company’s delivery service, will send fresh fruits and vegetables to customers in San Francisco and one other city (so far unnamed) later this year.
The tech company also announced it will expand its next-day delivery service – which is already available in cities including Chicago, New York and San Francisco and works with partners like Barnes & Noble, Target and ToysRUs – to areas in the midwest.
“Today, we’re very excited to be further expanding our efforts – making it easy for over 25 million people in the midwest to get things they need from stores they love – delivered overnight,” said Brian Elliott, general manager of Google Express.
The home-delivered groceries market in the US is dominated by established brick-and-mortar players like Whole Foods (with which Google Express will partner), as well as companies like FreshDirect that cater to high-cost-of-living regions. (FreshDirect serves New York City and its environs, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.) With the new plan, overnight delivery will expand into the greater Chicago area, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin.
The other major food delivery service with national ambitions is Amazon, which is currently battling FreshDirect for customers in New York with its Amazon Fresh service. A BI Intelligence report put the forecast for the delivery sector of the $700bn US market at $18bn by 2018.
Google Express is unique among home-delivery market competitors by virtue of its partnerships. Rather than sell items out of its warehouses (which Google tried earlier this summer), the company works with Whole Foods in the case of its fresh goods, in addition to Costco, Fairway and many others when it comes to selling dry goods. The plan is currently to capitalize on the cachet of the existing brands Google has joined with – Elliott said the plan was “to connect people with their favorite stores”, and the site features logos from those stores – including Amazon competitor Barnes & Noble.
But the company’s entry into the grocery market hasn’t been without incident: when the Google Express warehouse and shipping workers opted to join the Teamsters in August, the newly unionized laborers cited lack of ventilation, low wages, poor benefits and a contract with Google subcontractor Adecco that limited the term of employment to a maximum of two years.
Google notified Adecco earlier this summer that it was moving away from its warehousing system, a source said – the plan for Google Express at the moment is for the goods it delivers to be warehoused and supplied out of the existing physical stores with which it partners.
#* Deadly sandstorm sweeps across Middle East
BEIRUT — Large parts of Lebanon and Syria were shrouded by an “unprecedented” sandstorm on Tuesday as a brownish cloud settled over the region.
At least two people are thought to have died in Lebanon as a result of the storm, and as many as 750 people have suffered from difficulties with breathing, according to the country’s health ministry. Local press reported as many as five may have died.
Residents woke up to sandy windows and dust-caked cars on Tuesday morning as the storm that originated in Iraq made its way west. The Red Cross warned people with asthma to stay indoors. Many people wore masks as they went around town.
Lebanon’s meteorological department described the storm as being "unprecedented" in Lebanon's modern history, according to Al Jazeera. The same storm caused problems in Israel, Jordan, Iraq and Cyprus.
In Syria, the storm was reported to have stalled government airstrikes on rebel areas in the north of the country due to poor visibility.
#* Pakistan Rangers Team to Arrive Today for Border Talks With India
Pakistan Rangers Team to Arrive Today for Border Talks With India
The Pak Rangers delegation is expected to cross over the Attari-Wagah border today and after a ceremonial reception by BSF commanders, they will leave from Amritsar airport on a special BSF plane for Delhi.
NEW DELHI: A high-level delegation of Pakistani Rangers will arrive today to hold the much-anticipated Director-General bilateral talks with their counterparts BSF on key issues including ceasefire violations and cross-border infiltration.
The Director General-level talks between Pakistani Rangers and India's Border Security Forces come after the National Security Advisors-level talks were called off last month.
The talks will begin tomorrow after a ceremonial guard of honour by the BSF at their headquarters and a joint record of discussions will be signed on September 12 by the two DGs.
While the 16-member Pakistan delegation will be led by the senior Rangers Director General (Punjab) Maj Gen Umar Farooq Burki, the 23-member Indian side would be headed by BSF DG DK Pathak.
Issues such as ceasefire violations in Jammu and Kashmir, including sniper attacks on BSF personnel and infiltration will be on agenda.
"The talks will also endeavour to focus on positive issues like different levels of communication, more simultaneous coordinated patrolling and other confidence building measures," a BSF statement said.
According to sources, more stress would be on the "most important" issue of breach of ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir which has led to loss of lives of civilians and troops and "unprovoked" firing by the Rangers along the International Border (IB).
The issue of "no response" by the other side when BSF waves the 'white flag' which is used to indicate stopping of fire and meeting of on-ground commanders of the two sides will also be taken up.
The BSF will also take up the issue of intrusion in the 'Harami Nallah' area of the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat, smuggling of contraband from across the border and illegal movement of suspects up to the zero line area along the IB in order to facilitate illegal activities.
Pakistan had last month sent confirmation and agenda for these DG-level which included issues like the alleged use of objectionable language by troops on the Indian side and air space violations by suspected unmanned aerial vehicles.
According to Pakistan High Commission sources, serious concerns on the infiltration from the Indian side in Punjab and Rajasthan and who were involved in sabotage activities there will be raised during the talks.
The Pakistani delegation will also stress on the activation of the UNMOGIP (UN Military Observer Group in Indian and Pakistan), they said. However, India has always maintained that the UN group has lost its relevance and therefore, was redundant.
Pakistan has also listed alleged construction of defence infrastructure along the border, firing by taking aid of 'Sarkanda' (thick bushes), no response on Simultaneous Coordinated Patrolling (SCP) along this frontier, smuggling and apprehension and killing of civilians in their agenda for talks.
The Rangers have also alleged that the Indian side has not been responding to their request of flag meetings when they desire and have claimed use of heavy ammunition by India during cross-border firing.
The delegation which will also have second Rangers DG (Sindh) Maj Gen Bilal Akbar is expected to cross over the Attari-Wagah land border in Punjab by 12 noon today and after a ceremonial reception by BSF commanders, they will leave from Amritsar airport on a special BSF plane for Delhi.
The ties between the two sides have been strained because of ceasefire violations along the International Border and the Line of Control and other issues.
The two sides will also stress for the release of prisoners in the jails of the either countries.
During the talks, the BSF is also expected to propose initiation of some sporting tournaments between the two sides on the lines of a similar arrangement with Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB).
#* President calls for greater involvement of society to achieve literacy
On September 8, President Pranab Mukherjee sought greater involvement of the society in achieving higher literacy targets and said that without education India cannot claim its pride of place among nations.
While presiding over the celebration of International Literacy Day in New Delhi, the President said, "Literacy alone can bring development, empowerment and sustainability and achieve desired goals set under the Saakshar Bharat and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan programmes." He stressed on the need for greater "societal involvement" in achieving higher literacy targets and reminded of the UNESCO slogan of "each one teach one".
Without literacy, India cannot claim its pride of place among the comity of nations, he said. "From 18 percent in 1951 to 72.5 percent in 2011, we are still behind. Many of our sister developing countries including those in South Asia have almost 100 percent literacy rate.
"While we have fixed a target of 80 percent literacy in country by end of 12th Five Year plan, we have to ensure that the gender gap in literacy should not be more than 10 percent," he said.
Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani said the government has set a target of achieving 100 percent literacy in villages adopted under the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana by March 2016. "We have written to the members of parliament requesting them the villages they have identified under the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana. We will make such villages are 100 percent literate by March 2016," she said.
Stating that there are 410 districts where villages have identified under the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana, she expressed confidence of accomplishing the target.