News Box


LS polls: 89 seats in 7th phase to go to polls tomorrow


LS polls: 89 seats in 7th phase to go to polls tomorrow<br />
7th phase of polling with 89 Lok Sabha constituencies across 7 states and two union territories to vote tomorrow. Voting will also take place in 119 Assembly Constituencies in Andhra Pradesh simultaneously. Polling will begin at 7 am and will continue till 6 pm except in some sensitive areas in Bihar and Andhra Pradesh where it will end at 4 pm. In some other areas in Andhra Pradesh, polling will end at 5 pm.

Of the Lok Sabha contituencies going to the polls tomorrow, 26 are in Gujarat, 17 in Telangana region in Andhra Pradesh, 14 in Uttar Pradesh, all 13 constituencies in Punjab, 9 in West Bengal, 7 in Bihar and one each in Jammu and Kashmir and the Union Territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.

Political fortune of over 1,000 candidates will be decided at the hustings. Prominent among them are Sonia Gandhi, Madhusudan Mistry, Capt Amarinder Singh, Sriprakash Jaiswal and Shankarsinh Vaghela all Congress, Narendra Modi, L.K. Advani, Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti of BJP, Sharad Yadav of JDU and Farooq Abdullah of National Conference. 

With this, only two more phases of polling is left to complete the election process. 64 Lok Sabha constituencies in 7 states and 175 assembly seats in Andhra Pradesh will vote on May 7 and the remaining 41 Lok Sabha constituencies in 3 statates will vote on May 12. Counting will be taken up on May 16.

In Andhra Pradesh, all arrangements are in place for tomorrow’s polling in 17 Lok Sabha and 119 Assembly Constituencies in Telangana region. About 2 crore 82 lakh voters will vote at 30 thousand 518 polling stations set up in 10 districts of the region.

Arrangements have been made for live-webcasting from 17 thousand polling stations located at difficult and sensitive areas.

Screens have been arranged at all important places including major Panchayats to maintain transparency of poll process.

Tornadoes in US kills at least 29


Violent weather in US kills at least 29
Tornadoes in US kills at least 29
Americans in the southern and eastern US braced for more violent weather on Tuesday after a string of tornadoes and other storms killed at least 29 people, news reports said

Some 75 million people were at risk from storms that could unleash hail, winds and twisters on the affected regions, according to the National Weather Service.The toll from two days of violent weather reached at least 29 yesterday in at least six states, the news channel and other media reported.

After violent weather on Sunday that killed 17, most of them in Arkansas, the new deaths included eight in Mississippi on Monday, the news channel reported, quoting the state emergency management agency.

The governors of Alabama and Georgia declared state-wide emergencies. In the Mississippi town of Louisville, the storm snapped trees in half and stripped them of their branches.

Sheet metal twisted itself around road signs and tree trunks, the news channel reported.

Mississippi Senator Giles Ward hunkered down in a bathroom with his wife, four other family members and their dog Monday as a tornado destroyed his two-story brick house and flipped his son-in-law’s SUV upside down.

“It’s about as awful as anything we’ve gone through,” the network quoted Ward as saying.

In the hardest-hit parts of Arkansas, emergency crews intensified their search for survivors of Sunday’s twisters.

Dozens of Arkansas National Guard troops were assisting local authorities with medical evacuations, fresh water deliveries and search and rescue operations.

In the town of Vilonia, police chief Brad McNew said the town of 4,000 had been rendered unrecognisable.

“It’s houses completely down to the foundations,” he told NBC television. Rescuers used searchlights in blacked-out areas Sunday night, sifting through mountains of rubble in the hopes of finding someone alive.

The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management said 14 people had been killed in the state.

McNew said more would have been killed if not for emergency sirens that warned people the twister was about to hit.

Macedonia’s disputed elections ‘efficient and orderly’


European election monitors on Monday described Macedonia’s parliamentary and presidential elections as “efficient and orderly,” but said campaigning before the vote did not create a level playing field for all. The ruling conservative VMRO-DPMNE party, led by Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, won both votes held in the ex-Yugoslav republic on Sunday. The main opposition party, the center-left SDSM party, said it would not recognize the results, Reuters reported. Its leader, Zoran Zaev, said there were “threats and blackmails and massive buying of voters.” The ruling party said the allegations were an attempt by the opposition to manipulate public opinion.


Top British diplomat arrives in Iran for talks


The most senior British diplomat to visit Iran since the sacking of Britain’s embassy in 2011 arrived in Tehran on Monday, the Foreign Office said. Political director Simon Gass would discuss bilateral and international issues with Iranian officials, AFP reported. Gass, who is Britain’s lead negotiator in talks on Iran’s nuclear program, was Britain’s ambassador in Tehran between 2009 and 2011. As ties between the two states recently warmed, the newly-named non-resident charges d’affaires made a series of trips between Tehran and London.


UK, France send 8 fighter jets for NATO patrols over Baltic


Britain and France deployed eight fighter jets on Monday to reinforce NATO air patrols over the Baltics, AFP reported. Four British Typhoon jets arrived in Lithuania to start their mission while four French Rafale jets touched down in Malbork, northeast Poland. The move will “provide reassurance to our NATO allies in eastern Europe and the Baltic states” in the wake of recent events in Ukraine, British Defense Minister Philip Hammond said. Around 70 French military personnel have been deployed to Malbork in support of the new planes.


Romania to raise defense ministry budget by $217mn


Romania will raise the defense ministry’s 2014 budget by $217.41 million, or 0.2 percent of national output, Prime Minister Victor Ponta said Monday. As tensions continue to build in neighboring Ukraine, Romania has agreed a fiscal budget deficit target of 2.2 percent of gross domestic product this year under the terms of a 4-billion-euro aid deal led by the International Monetary Fund, Reuters said. Higher defense spending would raise the ceiling, as would government plans to slash employer taxes to the social insurance budget.


9 terror suspects detained in Malaysia


Nine suspected Malaysian militants were detained Monday for allegedly planning to carry out terrorist acts in the country and abroad, AP reported. The nine, aged between 25 and 55, were arrested Monday in several locations near Kuala Lumpur and in northern Kedah state bordering Thailand, according to national police chief Khalid Abu Bakar. They are believed to have links with terrorist cells abroad.


3 boys killed in blast in Pakistan’s Karachi


A blast killed three boys aged between 10 and 12 at a religious seminary in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi on Monday, AFP reported. The explosion, which targeted a Sunni Muslim seminary in the impoverished western district of Orangi also wounded six others, said a senior local police official, Javed Alam Odho. The police were trying to ascertain whether it was a planted bomb or a hand grenade that had been thrown. Nobody has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.


Assad to run for third term as Syria president


Syrian President Bashar Assad has formally submitted his nomination to seek a third term in office, the speaker of parliament said on Monday. In a letter submitted to the constitutional court, Assad said he wished to nominate himself for the post of president of the republic, hoping that parliament will endorse it, Reuters reported. The election is due to be held in early June.


22 killed in attack on C.Africa MSF hospital – reports


At least 22 people including three staff members of medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres were reportedly killed during a weekend attack by gunmen on a Central African hospital. “Armed men from the ex-Seleka [rebel group] and of Fula ethnicity on Saturday afternoon attacked a hospital supported by MSF in the region of Nanga Boguila, killing at least 22 people,” an officer from the MISCA peacekeeping force told AFP on Monday. Those killed included three Central African employees of MSF. The attack also left a dozen wounded.


Taiwan police uses water cannon against anti-nuclear protesters


Taiwan police on Monday used water cannon to disperse hundreds of overnight sit-in demonstrators, demanding the scrapping of a nearly completed nuclear power plant, AFP reported. Tens of thousands of demonstrators blockaded one of the busiest streets in the capital Sunday, forcing the ruling Kuomintang party to yield and halt construction work at the plant as the issue has gripped the island for 30 years. The concession by the government led to a large number of demonstrators leaving the area in Taipei, but hundreds remained. A Kuomintang spokesman said Sunday that reactor one would be sealed for storage, and construction of reactor two would be terminated.


Bangladesh storm leaves at least 9 dead


A severe storm left at least nine people dead and about 1,000 homeless after hitting northern Bangladesh overnight, AFP reported. The storm destroyed homes and wrecked rice paddy fields in northern Netrokona district close to the border with India. Up to 20 people were injured, including one whose condition is very critical, officials said.


IAEA experts to visit Iran nuclear sites next week – reports


A team of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts will visit two of Iran’s nuclear sites within the next week, as part of a monitoring process, AFP said. Inspectors will travel to the Ardakan yellow-cake production plant and the Saghand uranium mine, located close together around 450km from Tehran, IRNA news agency reported Tuesday. The trip is in line with a seven-step plan agreed between Iran and IAEA in February to increase transparency over Tehran’s nuclear activities.


Turkey to seek extradition of cleric Gulen from US


Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday Turkey will begin a legal process for the extradition of US-based Islamic cleric, Fethullah Gulen, Reuters said. Erdogan accuses his former ally and now arch-foe of orchestrating a campaign to unseat him. Asked if a legal process would be launched for the extradition of Gulen, Erdogan said: “Yes, it will begin.”


Islamic State of Iraq claims attack that killed 25 in Kurdish town


An Al-Qaeda spin-off group on Tuesday claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in a Kurdish town that killed at least 25 people the previous day, AP reported. The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) claimed the attack in a post on one of its Twitter accounts. The bombing in the town of Khanaqin in the Diyala province northeast of Baghdad also wounded 35 people. The bomber blew himself up among a group of Kurds celebrating the appearance on local TV of Iraq’s ailing president, Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, who has been in Germany since 2012.


Yemen launches major offensive ‘to uproot Al-Qaeda’ from 2 provinces


Yemeni forces have launched an operation to drive Al-Qaeda fighters out of southern towns, the military said on Tuesday. Last week, air strikes killed nearly 60 militants in the area. After being forced out from major cities in Abyan in 2012, Al-Qaeda jihadists established strongholds in the Arabian Peninsula, in the provinces of Abyan and Shabwa. Government forces clashed on Tuesday with Islamist gunmen in the Lahmar area and near Al-Saeed as militants confronted advancing government forces. “There has been an official decision to uproot Al-Qaeda from Abyan and Shabwa,” said Hussein al-Wuhayshi, a leader of the Popular Committees armed groups that fought alongside government forces.


Egypt: Brotherhood chief, 682 others sentenced to death
Egypt: Brotherhood chief, 682 others sentenced to death
Muslim Brotherhood chief Mohamed Badie and his 682 Islamist supporters were on Monday sentenced to death by an Egyptian court in one of the country’s largest mass trials, raising fears of tension ahead of next month’s crucial Presidential elections.

The convicts were accused of involvement in killings and attempted murder of policemen in the southern Minya province on August 14, the day when security forces violently disbanded sit-ins held by ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi’s supporters and killed hundreds of them in clashes in Cairo.In a separate case, the same court in Minya today reversed 492 death sentences out of 529 it passed last month, commuting most of the death penalty to life in prison. Judge Said Youssef referred his ruling on the 683 death sentences to the Grand Mufti, Egypt’s top Islamic authority.

Under Egyptian law, the verdicts must be ratified by the Grand Mufti before they can be carried out. The court has set June 21 for the final verdict after the Grand Mufti’s decision, a move widely considered a formality. The law allows the verdicts to be appealed.

If 70-year-old Badie’s sentence is confirmed, it would make him the most senior Brotherhood figure sentenced to death since one of the group’s leading ideologues, Sayed Qutb, was executed in 1966.

Badie, a white-bearded professor, became supreme guide of Egypt’s largest movement in 2010. He had condemned the removal of president Morsi by the Egyptian military in July last year.

Of the 683 accused sentenced today, about 50 are in custody while the rest are either out on bail or on the run. A lawyer said the hearing lasted only eight minutes. Defence lawyers branded the hearing “farcical”. Several woman relatives of the accused waiting outside the courtroom fainted on hearing news of the death penalty. A large crowd chanted: “Where is the justice?”, BBC reported.

Morsi belongs to the Brotherhood, an Islamist movement which swept all elections in Egypt following the fall of military dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2011. Morsi’s term was marked with political uncertainty and violence in a deeply polarised country that ultimately led to his ouster by the powerful military.

Some 16,000 people have been arrested since the military ousted Morsi, including most of the Brotherhood’s top leaders. Brotherhood has been designated a terrorist group by Egypt’s military-backed regime, blaming it for a series of bombings and attacks. The group has denied the accusations.

Egypt has been in political turmoil since the overthrow of Mubarak during the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. Analysts said today’s verdict could raise tension as Egypt heads to presidential polls on May 26-27 in which former Egyptian army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is the leading contender.


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