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US diplomats banned from Ice Bucket Challenge

Written By kom nampultig on Jumat, 22 Agustus 2014 | 08.20

WASHINGTON: It is the charity stunt that has got everyone from billionaires to pop stars and even former US presidents drenched by buckets of freezing water.

But don't expect American diplomats to get involved in the fast-growing Ice Bucket Challenge — in support of Lou Gehrig's disease research — any time soon.

The State Department has issued an internal telegram forbidding US ambassadors and other high-profile foreign service officers from participating in the forfeit, in which people either pledge $100 to ALS research or record themselves getting soaked by frigid water, then post it online and challenge others to do the same.

"It's not just about ambassadors. Federal government ethics rules prevent us from using our public offices, such as — high public offices such as ambassadors — for private gain, no matter how worthy the cause is," State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said on Thursday.

"For that reason, high-ranking State Department officials are unfortunately unable to participate in the ice bucket challenge."

President Barack Obama has declined a dare from Ethel Kennedy, the 86-year-old widow of late senator Robert F. Kennedy. Obama promised to make a gift instead.

Pop star Justin Bieber and former US president George W Bush and Microsoft founder Bill Gates are just some of the celebrities who have drenched themselves in icy water in support for the cause.

And its popularity has spread around the globe, particularly to Australia, Britain, Canada, Germany and New Zealand.

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10 killed, 40 injured as two buses collide in Cairo

CAIRO: At least ten passengers were killed and 40 others seriously injured when two tourist buses collided on a highway on Friday near Sharm el-Sheikh, medical officials said.

Ten people were killed in the accident 50 km near Sharm el-Sheikh. The number of dead is suppose to increase, said Mohamed Lashin, Health Ministry Undersecretary in South Sinai.

Egypt has one of the world's highest traffic accident rates due to careless driving, road and vehicle conditions which leads to death and injury of thousands every year.

A recent report by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) said there were 15,578 car accidents in Egypt in 2013, up 0.4 per cent from the year before, which claimed the lives of 6,716 people and injured 22,411 others.

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West Bengal-based trader thrown out of train, dies

MUZAFFARNAGAR: A West Bengal-based trader died after being thrown out of a train by some passengers following a dispute over a seat near Muzaffarnagar Railway Station.

Sheikh Rahmatulla was on his way to Amritsar from Delhi when some passengers boarded the Jalandhar-Amritsar Express at Muzaffarnagar yesterday and asked him to vacate the seat, according to Government Railway Police.

Soon a confrontation took place following which the passengers threw him out of the train, they said.

The victim was rushed to a district hospital in a serious condition where he was declared dead. The body has been sent for postmortem.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/followceleb.cms?alias=West Bengal-based trader,Sheikh Rahmatulla,Jalandhar-Amritsar Express

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JD(U) suspends party MLA Rajiv Ranjan for 6 years, for 'anti-party activities'

NEW DELHI: JD(U), on Friday, suspended Islampur MLA RajivRanjan from the party for six years, accusing him of "anti-party activities", days after he attacked his party's government in Bihar over "unabated corruption" after having earlier opposed a tie-up with Lalu Prasad's RJD.

"Party president Sharad Yadav has suspended Islampur MLA Rajiv Ranjan for six years considering his activities as anti-party. Yadav has directed all party leaders to maintain discipline and fight for social justice. There is no place for any kind of anti-party activities," JD(U) general secretary KC Tyagi said in a statement.

Rajiv Ranjan, who is an MLA from Islampur that falls in former Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar's home district Nalanda, had earlier written a letter to the state JD(U) president Basistha Narayan Singh in which he opposed the tie-up between JD(U) and RJD, which he alleged had created "jungle raj" (lawlessness) in Bihar during its tenure.

A few days back, Ranjan slammed the state government led by Jitan Ram Manjhi over corruption saying that in light of the prevailing condition in the state, it is time to adopt a new law by the name of 'Right to Bribe' in Bihar.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, JD(U) could win just two out of 40 LS seats in Bihar going down from its tally of 20 seats in 2009 Lok Sabha poll.

After the defeat, JD(U)joined hands with archrival RJD to take on a resurgent BJP and both Lalu Prasad and Nitish Kumar jointly campaigned for the byelection in Bihar for which voting took place on Thursday.

The suspension letter also gives a warning to other senior leaders making statements contradicting the party's stand. "Yadav has also cautioned top office bearers that they should avoid making contradictory statements," Tyagi said.

JD(U) leader and former minister Shakuni Choudhary had said that former Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar should "quit politics rather than being insulted by Lalu Prasad".

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/followceleb.cms?alias=Nitish Kumar,Lalu Prasad,JD(U) suspends party MLA Rajiv Ranjan

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Karnataka govt keen to constitute 7th pay commission for govt employees

MYSORE: Chief minister Siddaramaiah on Friday said that the state government is positively inclined to constitute seventh pay commission for state government employees in addition to providing various facilities to them on the lines of central government.

Addressing state level government employees conference here, he said the employees are demanding the government to constitute new pay commission, but you should know that state government has implemented the recommendations of the sixth pay commission in 2012 and there is time till 2017 for constitution of the new pay commission.

As there is pressure from the experts to prepare from now itself to constitute the new pay commission government is working in that direction, he said adding that soon the state government may come out with a decision on the constitution of new pay commission. "However we are determined to provide facilities to the state employees on the lines of central government," he said.

Speaking for more than one hour at this state level conference being organized after a gap of six years, that too at CM's homeground, he said government is timely releasing the allowances and salaries of the employees. Referring to the demands of the government employees, chief minister said at the same time the employees should learn to work sincerely with a service motto. "Government employees should realize their responsibilities and duties" he said urging the workers to discharge their duties properly. "I am not here to give sermons to you, but if you want to command peoples respect you have to work seriously and sincerely," he added.

Suggesting the employees to hold this conference once in every three years, Siddaramaiah said such conference will instill confidence you and make you to rededicate yourself for a public cause.

Releasing a souvenir on the occasion, housing minister Ambarish said the employees are the link between the government and people and is the responsibility of the workers to make the government programmes reach people. "This will happen only when employees realize that this itself is a great work and needs dedication," he said.

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JMM decides to boycott programme of all Union ministers

Written By kom nampultig on Kamis, 21 Agustus 2014 | 08.20

RANCHI: Soon after conclusion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's programme, in which BJP supporters booed chief minister Hemant Soren, an infuriated JMM announced to boycott programmes of all Union ministers. Though Soren maintained his poise and condemned the act of BJP supporters softly, the JMM leaders expressed resentment, accusing the Prime Minister of not showing maturity in dealing with the BJP supporters who are humiliating non-BJP chief ministers.

JMM central general secretary Supriyo Bhattacharya said that the JMM was apprehending such indecency on part of the BJP workers and had sent letters to the PMO and Union home ministry seeking their intervention. "We have decided to boycott programmes of all ministers of Union government and the JMM leaders would sport black badges during programmes of Union government," he said.

Describing the government's official programme as an election rally of BJP, Bhattacharya said that Prime Minister is country's leader and that decency should be maintained. JMM had sought intervention of Election Commission of India (ECI) to prevent use of posters and banners of the party during Prime Minister's programme.

Bhattacharya said the way BJP used platform of official programme to campaign for party it was nothing but wastage of public money in electioneering.

PM Narendra Modi with Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren during inauguration of 765/400 KV Power Grid Ranchi Sub Station. (TOI photo)

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Thailand's coup leader likely to become Prime Minister

BANGKOK: Thailand's junta chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha, who seized power from an elected government in a bloodless coup on May 22, is likely to be chosen as new Prime Minister of the country, a move that will strengthen military's grip on the country.

Military-appointed National Legislative Assembly (NLA) will nominate a candidate or more for the post of Prime Minister tomorrow amid speculation that 60-year-old Prayuth could be the next Premier.

Since the bloodless coup in May, the military government has been the sole authority for all matters regarding the state.

A candidate for Prime Minister will need at least 99 votes in 197-member NLA to win the post.

Somchai Sawaengkarn, an NLA member, allayed concerns voiced by many people that the vote would lack legitimacy if Prayuth is voted prime minister.

He said if Prayuth wanted to be prime minister he could simply appoint himself to the post without seeking approval from the NLA.

Prayuth seized power on May 22, two weeks after Yingluck Shinawatra, the country's first woman prime minister, was forced to resign following a controversial court ruling for abusing power.

Thailand has been embroiled by political chaos since Yingluck's brother Thaksin Shinawatra was ousted as prime minister in a coup in 2006.

Thaksin is on a self-imposed exile in Dubai since 2008 to avoid prison for a corruption conviction that he insists was politically motivated.

Yingluck could also face criminal charges in connection with a controversial rice subsidy scheme.

If found guilty, Yingluck could face a jail term as well as a five-year ban from politics.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/followceleb.cms?alias=Thaksin Shinawatra,Thailand,Prayuth Chan-ocha,junta chief,Dubai

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Obama unlikely to deepen Iraq military involvement, say US officials

WASHINGTON: Despite outrage at home and abroad over the grisly beheading of an American journalist, President Barack Obama is unlikely to deepen military involvement in Iraq or Syria and will instead stay the course with US air strikes, US officials say.

US officials appeared rattled by the video posted on social media on Tuesday showing a masked, black-clad militant executing James Foley, 40, and declaring war against the United States in retaliation for nearly two weeks of US air strikes on jihadist targets in Iraq.

But several administration officials said there were no plans to significantly alter the US campaign against Islamic State militants who have seized a third of Iraq since June, or to expand military action to neighboring Syria, where the group has gained strength during its brutal civil war.

"From a military perspective, I don't think this is going to change anything," a US official said on condition of anonymity. "The military objective never was to degrade ISIL," the official said, using another name for the militant group. "It was to protect US personnel and facilities."

Obama called Islamic State a "cancer" with a bankrupt ideology at a news conference on Wednesday. He described Iraqis waging a fight against Islamic state, with US support. Not long after he spoke, the Pentagon said US aircraft conducted 14 air strikes in the vicinity of Iraq's Mosul Dam, destroying or damaging militants' Humvees, trucks and explosives.

Obama's decision to forego a direct military response to the killing underscores the White House's aversion to becoming more entangled in the mayhem gripping both Iraq and Syria.

Since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in 2011, the White House has stressed the limitations of US power to shape events in the Middle East, pushing back against criticism of its muted response to bloodshed there.

In Syria, where an estimated 170,000 people have died in three years, the president has shied away from using US military might, even after accusing Assad of using chemical weapons against civilians. US officials instead have tried to broker a diplomatic deal and, with more success, sought to eliminate Assad's chemical stockpiles.

Obama "dragged into this"

In Iraq, where Obama ended a war that killed thousands of American soldiers and consumed US foreign policy for nearly a decade, the White House launched air strikes only after militants threatened not only the capital of Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdish region but Baghdad itself.

Since August 8, US drones and fighter jets have hit armored vehicles, artillery weapons and other targets of hardline Sunni Muslim fighters. The goal, US officials say, has been to protect US facilities in the Iraqi Kurdish capital Arbil and nearby civilians, not to destroy Islamic State itself.

"Our strategy is to (help Iraqis) push them back from territory they've gained," a second US official said.

As US air strikes gather momentum, so too have Islamic State threats against the United States. On Monday, the group promised to "drown all of you (Americans) in blood." The next day, before the video of Foley's killing surfaced, another message warned of a holy war against "crusader" America.

While there have been fears for several years that jihadists with European or US passports could launch an attack in the West, the United States has avoided aggressive intervention in Iraq, leaving Iraqi forces to the fight the militants — a position generally supported by public opinion polls.

A Reuters-IPSOS Poll in June, for instance, showed that 55 percent of those surveyed would disagree with the Obama administration involving the US military in Iraq. Only 20 percent of Americans polled would support military action in Iraq, according to the poll.

It's unclear whether the beheading of Foley will turn the tide of public opinion, but support for military action appears to be growing. A poll this week, before the Foley video was published, showed that most Americans approve of US air strikes in Iraq and an increasing number thought the United States has a responsibility to act there.

US soldiers attempted to rescue Foley and other Americans held in Syria earlier this summer, but were unsuccessful, US officials said on Wednesday.

"The effort to roll (Islamic State) back into (Syria) is a commitment the administration has been unwilling to make," said Faysal Itani, a Middle East expert at the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank. "The death of this man, however tragic, will not cause a fundamental recalculation of that policy."

While chances of deeper involvement are slim for now, the United States risks being pulled further into the Iraq-Syria conflict if the threat from Islamic State grows. That may force US officials to revive options that military leaders presented in the past, such as launching air strikes in Syria. Other options could include drone attacks in parts of eastern Syria that Assad does not control, as has been done in areas of Pakistan and Yemen.

"Obama is being dragged into this," said James Jeffrey, a veteran diplomat who was US ambassador to Iraq from 2010-2012. "His reluctance is simply untenable."

Washington has also sent over 800 soldiers to Iraq since June. On Wednesday, US officials said that up to 300 additional military personnel could be sent to Iraq to provide security for US diplomats.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/followceleb.cms?alias=Yemen,US military in Iraq,Syria,President,Mosul

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Militant hideout unearthed, arms found in J&K's Bandipora district

SRINAGAR: Security forces have unearthed a militant hideout and recovered a cache of arms and ammunition in Bandipora district of Kashmir, an Army spokesman said today.

"A militant hideout was busted in Maitrigam area of Bandipora district where a huge cache of arms and ammunition was recovered," the spokesman said.

He said the recoveries included seven AK 47 rifles, five pistols, one UBGL, 74 rounds of UBGL, 21 hand grenades and large quantity of AK and pistol ammunition.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/followceleb.cms?alias=militant hideout,Army,AK 47 rifles

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Good turnout in Karnataka assembly bypolls

BANGALORE: The byelections to the three assembly constituencies in the state on Thursday were peaceful and witnessed a good turnout.

The polls were held in Shikaripur, Bellary Rural and Chikkodi-Sadalga. At 6pm, Chikkodi-Sadalga had witnessed 86% polling, followed by Bellary Rural with 72% and Shikaripur with 71%. Counting of votes is on August 25.

The voters of Malagondakoppa in Shikaripur staged a protest and stayed away from polling in the morning as their demand for a polling station had fallen on deaf ears. The voters had to travel three km to exercise their franchise. By afternoon, former CM and MP BS Yeddyurappa met the villagers and requested them to vote. He admitted that the officials had erred by not having a polling station in the village.

In Bellary, the para-military personnel refused to eat breakfast as it was stale. At Chikkodi, police averted a possible clash between the BJP and Congress workers.

With JD(S) staying away from the contest, the fight is between BJP and Congress at all the three places. At Shikaripur, Yeddyurappa's son BY Raghavendra is the BJP nominee, while HS Shanthaveerappa Gowda (Congress), a one-time associate of Yeddyurappa, his challenger. Here, JD(S) leader HT Baligar, who had bagged around 26,000 votes in the 2013 assembly polls supported the Congress, while former minister Goolihatti Sehkar, who was in the fray as an independent, retired and extended his support to the Congress.

In Bellary rural, MP B Sriramulu's close confidant Obalesh is the BJP candidate, while four-term MLA NY Gopalakrishna the Congress nominee.

In Chikkodi-Sadalga, former minister and MP Prakash Hukkeri's son Ganesh Hukkeri is the Congress candidate and MLC Mahantesh Kavatagimath his challenger from the BJP.

This by-poll to three assembly segments on Thursday is an acid test for chief minister Siddaramaiah, while it is equally important for Yeddyurappa and Sriramulu.

After Congress's unimpressive performance in the Lok Sabha polls, it's crucial for Siddaramaiah to prove his mettle. As a defeat would mean clipping of his authority both in the government and party, he has spared no efforts.

It is important for Yeddyurappa and Hukkeri because it is their sons who are in the fray, while in case of Sriramulu it is his close confidant.

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