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Modi government to present first Union Budget on July 10

NEW DELHI: The Budget Session of Parliament will be held from July 7 to August 14 and the first Union Budget of the Narendra Modi Government will be presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on July 10.

The Rail Budget will be presented on July 8, while the Economic Survey will be released on July 9, the Cabinet Committee on Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA) decided on Monday.

The CCPA decided that Bills to replace ordinances, including the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities (Amendment) ordinance, the one on Polavaram project, the TRAI Act (Amendment) ordinance and the one on SEBI, will be brought on a priority basis for consideration in the session, official sources said.

The ordinances have to be converted into Bills before third week of July.

The over month-long session will have a total of 28 sittings.

The Opposition is likely to rake up the issue of hike in rail passenger fares and freight rates ahead of the presentation of the Rail Budget. — PTIBack


















Strategic Iraq town Tal Afar, airport fall to Sunni militants

BAGHDAD: The strategic Shiite-majority north Iraq town of Tal Afar and its airport were in the hands of Sunni Arab militants on Monday after days of heavy fighting, a local official and witnesses said.

"The town of Tal Afar and the airport ... are completely under the control of the militants," the official said on condition of anonymity.

Witnesses said security forces had departed the town, and confirmed that militants were in control.

The town, which is located along a strategic corridor to Syria, had previously been the largest in the northern province of Nineveh not to fall to militants.

A major militant offensive, spearheaded by jihadists from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) but involving a raft of other Sunni groups as well, began in Nineveh's capital Mosul on June 9.

The militants took Mosul the following day, swept through Nineveh and took major parts of four more provinces as well. — AFPBack

















John Kerry arrives in Baghdad

BAGHDAD: US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Baghdad on Monday on a mission to push for Iraqi unity and stability to confront a militant offensive threatening to tear the country apart.

Flying in from Jordan on a visit, which the State Department had sought to keep secret amid security concerns, Kerry was to meet with beleaguered Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and "Iraqi leaders from across the political spectrum," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Last week US President Barack Obama announced that he was sending up to 300 military advisors to assist the Iraqi security forces, which are battling militants led by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), and was considering ordering up air strikes.

Kerry "will discuss US actions underway to assist Iraq as it confronts this threat from ISIL and urge Iraqi leaders to move forward as quickly as possible with its government formation process to forge a government," Psaki said.

The trip comes a day after Kerry hinted Washington's support for the Shiite premier Maliki was waning even though he insisted the US was not "picking and choosing" Iraq's leaders.

"The United States would like to see the Iraqi people find leadership that is prepared to represent all of the people of Iraq," Kerry told reporters in Cairo on Sunday at the end of a surprise visit to Egypt.

He noted that minority Kurds and Sunni Arabs, and even some within Maliki's own Shiite community, had voiced dissatisfaction with the premier's leadership, and said the government had to "rise above sectarian motivations".

The Iraqi government has "to be inclusive and share power in a way that will maximise the ability of Iraq to focus on the real danger at this moment from an external source, which is ISIL," Kerry insisted.

A top US official who has been on the ground in Iraq told reporters that there was "a lot of anxiety and a lot of looking to the US for help".

Kerry's message to Iraqi leaders would be that even though US troops withdrew in 2011, Washington had the "highest level of commitment to Iraq," he said.

He would also do "person-to-person diplomacy with the key leaders and the key blocs as they work towards forming a new government along the constitutional timeline," the official added.

Kerry also has back-to-back meetings in Brussels and Paris with NATO and Gulf allies later in the week.

The top US diplomat called on all of Iraq's neighbours to urge Iraqis "to form a government that is united in its determination to meet the needs and speak to the demands of all of their people."

The Sunni militants pressed their advance in western Iraq on Sunday, killing 21 people after security forces abandoned a string of towns, allowing the insurgents to widen access to Syria.

The advance marked the latest in a series of setbacks for Iraqi forces, which are struggling to hold their ground in the face of the onslaught that has displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

The militants, led by ISIS, seized the towns of Rawa and Ana after taking the Al-Qaim border crossing on Saturday, residents said.

Kerry's task has been complicated as Iraq is in a political limbo after April elections in which Maliki won the largest number of seats, but not a majority, meaning some bitter bargaining to form a coalition.

"It all comes down to the maths and how they can put together a governing coalition... what makes this one so complicated is that it's so fractured," the US official told reporters on a conference call.

Under a de facto system in Iraq following recent elections, a Kurd has traditionally held the presidency, a Shiite Arab has been the Prime Minister and a Sunni Arab has been the Speaker of Parliament.

But no side has yet put forward their candidate, leading to a political stalemate. "A lot of decisions have to be made by Iraqis and they have to be made soon," the US official said.

Kerry also warned all countries, particularly in the Gulf, that "there is no safety margin whatsoever in funding a group like ISIL."

"We particularly discourage individuals in the region who may have been sending money through some innocent charity or through various backchannel initiatives under the guise that it's for the general welfare and benefit of people who've been displaced." — AFPBack

























UGC Chairman meets Smriti Irani over DU admission row

NEW DELHI: A day after issuing an order to Delhi University to roll back its four-year undergraduate programme, University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairman Ved Prakash on Monday met HRD Minister Smriti Irani who is understood to have intervened to end the stand-off.

Irani is also understood to have expressed her displeasure over the delay in solving the matter with the DU authorities as the admission process to the undergraduate programme kicks off from tomorrow.

UGC had yesterday issued directions both to DU and all 64 colleges under it to conduct admission under the three-year under-graduate programme and not under the controversial four-year UG programme implemented by the university last year.

The Commission has warned both DU as well as the colleges of "consequences" if they failed to implement UGC direction by this forenoon.

After meeting HRD Minister, the UGC Chairman also met Higher Education Secretary Ashok Thakur to discuss the development.

The meeting came even as various student bodies demonstrated in front of the ministry demanding roll back of the programme.

On the other hand, a ten-member committee, set up by UGC, headed by Prakash, is meeting for the first time today at 4pm to discuss the smooth transition of the under graduate programme from four years to three years. — PTIBack


















Black Money: RBI asks banks, financial institutions to give information to SIT

Mumbai: The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) today directed all banks and financial institutions to provide information and documents sought by the Special Investigation Team (SIT), set up to unearth black money.

"All the banks and financial institutions (FIs) are advised to ensure that information/documents required by the SIT are made available as and when required," the Reserve Bank said in a notification.

The SIT under the chairmanship of former Justice M B Shah was constituted by the Narendra Modi-led government on its first day in office, in pursuance of a July- 2011 Supreme Court judgement.

The panel has a jurisdiction in cases, wherein investigations have commenced or are waiting to be initiated or have been completed. The SIT held its first meeting on June 2.

Earlier today, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government would write today to Switzerland, seeking details of Indians with unaccounted money in Swiss banks.

The minister's remarks came a day after a Swiss government official told the PTI that the names of certain persons and entities, who have come under the scanner of Swiss authorities, was being shared with India.

Jaitley, however, said his ministry was yet to receive official communication in this regard.

According to the latest data published by Swiss National Bank, the country's central bank, Indian money in various Swiss banks rose 43 per cent during 2013 to almost Rs 14,000 crore, including money held directly by Indian clients and those through fiduciaries or wealth managers.

Switzerland today said it was looking forward to working together with the new government of India in its fight against tax evasion, according to a statement issued through the Swiss Embassy here. — PTI












Sugar prices rise by Rs 60 with hike in import duty

New Delhi: Sugar prices rose up to Rs 60 per quintal in the country's leading wholesale markets after the government raised import duty on the sweetener to 40 per cent besides additional interest-free loan of Rs 4,400 crore for mills.

Further, increased offtake by bulk consumers to meet summer season demand also influenced prices.

In the national capital, Sugar ready M-30 and S-30 traded higher at Rs 3,320-3,460 and Rs 3,300-3,430 as against previous levels of Rs 3,270-3,400 and Rs 3,250-3,380 per quintal, thus showing a rise of Rs 50/60 per quintal.

Fears that sugar prices may rise further in the wake of government's decision to discourage import by raising duty to 40 per cent and improve funds liquidity for the domestic sugar mills, stockists were seen enlarging positions, said sugar traders.

They said if monsoon remained subdued, prices were well set to rise further in coming days.

"The hike in duty will support domestic sugar industry and make imports costlier," said a wholesale sugar trader in the national capital.

The loan will be provided to cash-starved sugar mills to make payments to cane farmers while the import duty on sugar will be hiked to 40 per cent from the current 15 per cent, Food and Civil Supplies Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said.

In order to bail out sugar mills which are unable to pay dues worth Rs 11,000 crore to sugarcane growers, the government also extend subsidy of Rs 3,300 per tonne on export till September this year.

In line with general trend, sugar mill delivery M-30 and S-30 followed suit and traded higher at Rs 3,160-3,300 and Rs 3,140-3,240 against last close of Rs 3,130-3,245 and Rs 3,110-3,225 per quintal, respectively.

In the millgate section, Mawana, Kinnoni and Asmoli also ended higher at Rs 3,230, Rs 3,300 and Rs 3,250 from previous levels of Rs 3,160, Rs 3,240 and Rs 3,210 per quintal, respectively.

At Mumbai's Vashi wholesale market, Small sugar (S-30) advanced by Rs 25 per qunintal to Rs 3,030/3,152 from last Satursday's closing level of Rs 3,005/3,152.

Medium sugar (M-30) climbed by Rs 15 per quintal to Rs 3,152/3,316 as against last weekend level of Rs 3,152/3,301. — PTI




















Badaun case: victims' fathers to undergo lie-detector test

New Delhi: The CBI will conduct lie-detector test on the fathers of two cousin sisters who were allegedly raped, killed and their bodies were found hanging from a mango tree in Badaun, Uttar Pradesh, as the agency is not convinced by the chain of events given by the family.

CBI sources clarified that the move should not be seen as doubting the claims made by the families of the victims but in order to develop a flawless case the agency needs to test the veracity of their statements.

The sources said the statements given by the family members have some inconsistencies which need to be clarified before proceeding in the case.

They said the agency has decided to subject four persons to lie detector test, who include fathers of the two teenaged cousins and two more family members. — PT



















FIFA World Cup
Varela’s late header keeps Portugal’s World Cup hopes alive

MANAUS (Brazil): A superb header by Silvestre Varela deep into time added on saved Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal from crashing out of the World Cup finals on Sunday as it secured a 2-2 draw with the United States.

The Americans had looked to be safely into the last 16 after second-half goals by Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey saw them come back from 1-0 down — a goal by Nani — to lead.

However, with only seconds remaining one sublime cross from a pretty anonymous Ronaldo was met by Varela and it soared past Tim Howard to give Portugal a lifeline as a further defeat after the 4-0 hammering by Germany in the opening game would have seen them out.

The Portuguese got just the start they needed to settle their nerves as a terrible defensive error by Stoke City’s Geoff Cameron — the ball flying off his boot to Nani — saw the Manchester United winger wait for Howard to commit himself before rifling the ball into the net.

It had been pre-empted by an outrageous piece of skill by Ronaldo down the left side, completely bewitching three American players as they tried to corral him out on the touchline, only for a series of step overs and a backheel to see him squirm through the three of them.

The Portuguese’s cursed run of injuries continued as veteran striker Helder Postiga — who himself started only because Hugo Almeida had gone off injured early on in the opening game against Germany — lasted just 16 minutes before he had to go off and be replaced by Eder.

Klinsmann’s men were running the game and a fine move ended with Michael Bradley unleash a fine effort from outside the box that cleared the bar.

Howard, who was earning his 102nd cap, kept his side in the game on the stroke of half-time as he somehow managed to stick a hand out as he dived the wrong way to tip a point-blank shot by Eder over the bar.

There was an even finer block the other end 10 minutes into the second-half as Bradley’s goal-bound effort from only 10 yards out saw defender Ricardo Costa spread himself deflect the ball off his knee for a corner, earning a well deserved kiss on the head from goalkeeper Beto.

The Americans, though, deservedly levelled in the 64th minute as Jones produced a right-footed shot from outside the area, leaving Beto rooted to the spot.

Ronaldo and the Portuguese appeared shell-shocked and it was the Americans who grabbed a second as Bradley’s shot rebounded to Graham Zusi off a defender and his cross was put into the net by Dempsey’s stomach for his fourth goal at a World Cup finals.

That looked to be that until, like Lionel Messi with his late goal against Iran on Saturday, Ronaldo summoned up one piece of class with his pinpoint cross, which was enough to break American hearts. — PTIBack



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