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10,000-year-old rock paintings depicting aliens and UFOs found in Chhattisgarh - 7/15/2014

TOI CHARAMA (Chhattisgarh): Chhattisgarh state department of archaeology and culture plans to seek help from Nasa and Isro for research on 10,000-year-old rock paintings depicting aliens and UFOs in Charama region in Kanker district in tribal Bastar region.

According to archaeologist JR Bhagat, these paintings have depicted aliens like those shown in Hollywood and Bollywood flicks. Located about 130km from Raipur, the caves come under village Chandeli and Gotitola.

"The findings suggest that humans in prehistoric times may have seen or imagined beings from other planets which still create curiosity among people and researchers. Extensive research is needed for further findings. Chhattisgarh presently doesn't have any such expert who could give clarity on the subject," Bhagat told TOI.


One of the ancient rock paintings carved on caves at Charama in Chhattisgarh's Kanker district. (TOI photo by Amit Bhardwaj)

There are several beliefs among locals in these villages. While few worship the paintings, others narrate stories they have heard from ancestors about "rohela people" — the small sized ones — who used to land from sky in a round shaped flying object and take away one or two persons of village who never returned.

"The paintings are done in natural colours that have hardly faded despite the years. The strangely carved figures are seen holding weapon-like objects and do not have clear features. Specially, the nose and mouth are missing. In few pictures, they are even shown wearing space suits. We can't refute possibility of imagination by prehistoric men but humans usually fancy such things," the archaeologist said.


(TOI photo by Amit Bhardwaj)

He added that it is a co-incidence that such ancient images appear to have sharp resemblance to UFOs shown in alien movies. "The fan-like antenna and three legs of vehicle's stand clearly show a similarity to UFO type craft," he said.

Other archaeologists would also be consulted for further verification.


Israel and Hamas Consider Egyptian Proposal for a Cease-Fire in Air Attacks - 7/15/2014

NDTV news
Israel and Hamas Consider Egyptian Proposal for a Cease-Fire in Air Attacks
Israel and its main militant Gaza adversary weighed an Egyptian cease-fire proposal late Monday, signaling a possible de-escalation of a week-old aerial battle that has left nearly 200 Palestinians dead from Israeli bombs and has sent hundreds of Gaza rockets deep into Israeli territory.

A senior government official in Israel, which has been preparing for the possibility of a ground invasion of Gaza, said it was seriously considering the Egyptian proposal. The initial reaction of Hamas, the dominant militant group in Gaza, was less committal, but was not an outright rejection.

The proposal envisioned a cease-fire beginning at 9 a.m. local time on Tuesday. It called for border crossings to Gaza to "be opened," with the movement of people and goods to be "facilitated once the security situation becomes stable on the ground." Within 48 hours of the initial cease-fire taking hold, talks are to be held in Cairo with the Israelis and the Palestinian militant factions on conditions for a longer-term truce, according to the text of the proposal.

An Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ambassador Badr Abdelatty, said: "We hope it will be acknowledged. We are in close contact with everyone."

Adding weight to the efforts, Secretary of State John Kerry was expected in Cairo as early as Tuesday, according to officials in the region and the Egyptian state news agency.

The senior Israeli official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the delicate diplomacy, said a meeting of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security Cabinet had been called for early Tuesday morning to discuss the proposal and that it was "being considered very seriously."

Hamas, which had said it was prepared to fire rockets indefinitely, appeared to want better terms. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas official in Gaza, wrote on his Facebook page, "The responses of resistance will continue until the demands of our people are achieved. Any unilateral Israeli cessation has no value in the light of the large crimes and the disastrous humanitarian situation." Osama Hamdan, a spokesman for the Islamic group, was more dismissive. He told CNN's "The Situation Room" that Hamas did not receive the proposal directly from the Egyptians. That, he said, meant it was "an initiative for the media. It's not a political initiative."

One of Hamas' demands has been the opening of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, but the Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman said the proposal refers only to crossings "between Israel and Gaza."

Egypt is widely considered the natural regional mediator in such conflicts. But Egypt's relations with Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, have turned bitter since the military ouster last year of Egypt's elected Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, a leader in the Brotherhood. Under the new president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, a former general who led the military takeover, Egypt has shut down most of the tunnels beneath its border with Gaza that were both an economic lifeline for the Palestinian coastal enclave as well as a major channel for weapons smuggling.

Tony Blair, the special envoy of the quartet of Middle East peacemakers, which included the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia, welcomed the Egyptian proposal in a statement.

He said: "The hope is that this cease-fire will allow us to put in place such a long-term strategy for the future in Gaza, and the West Bank. The international community will give its full backing to such an initiative."

International entreaties for a cease-fire intensified in recent days amid growing alarm over the rising death toll in Gaza, but there was no letup in the hostilities on Monday. At least 14 Palestinians were killed on the seventh day of Israel's air offensive aimed at quelling the rocket fire, bringing the total death toll in Gaza to about 180, many of them civilians. An airstrike on a house in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip killed a girl, 4, her father and her uncle, according to Gaza health officials.

Pierre Krahenbuhl, the commissioner general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza, which assists Palestinian refugees, said in a news briefing that he was "deeply alarmed and affected by the escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip and the devastating human and physical toll it is taking on civilians, including Palestine refugees."
According to a statement issued by his office, Krahenbuhl called on the Israeli army to "put an end to attacks against, or endangering, civilians and civilian infrastructure, which are contrary to international humanitarian law." He also called for an end to rocket fire from Gaza aimed at Israel, which the United Nations has described as indiscriminate.

In a telephone interview, the commander of Israel's 107th Squadron, which is engaged in Gaza using F-16 fighters, said the air force was working methodically according to "a clear policy of minimum harm to civilians," but that everybody knew Gaza, a densely populated sliver of land, was not a "sterile area." Under military rules governing the interview, the squadron commander could not be identified by name.
Hamas has fired about 1,000 rockets at Israel over the last week, hitting new targets as far north as Hadera, about 60 miles from Gaza, and keeping millions of Israelis on alert and running for shelter at the wail of the sirens. On Monday one rocket struck a Bedouin village in the Negev desert and injured two sisters ages 15 and 10, one of them severely, according to the Israeli police.

Egypt helped broker the last cease-fire between Israel and Hamas that ended eight days of fierce, cross-border fighting in November 2012 but the quiet only lasted about 19 months.

Israel has said that this time it wanted to achieve quiet for a long period of time, whether through military means or diplomacy, and ministers had called for Hamas to be stripped of its weapons. With Israeli forces massed along the Gaza border prepared for a ground invasion, some right-wing politicians criticized the cease-fire contacts, complaining that Israel had not finished the job.

Israeli officials have said that Hamas was looking for some kind of an achievement, a "victory image," before giving up the fight. That may have come on Monday when it flew an unmanned aircraft from Gaza into Israel, apparently for the first time.

The Israeli military intercepted the drone, blowing it apart in midair just offshore from the Israeli port city of Ashdod with a Patriot surface-to-air missile, the military said.

The military wing of Hamas claimed on its website that it had sent "a number of drones" flying into Israel on "special missions," saying that the aircraft were one of the "surprises" it had promised over the last week. It was not immediately clear whether the drone, intercepted about 14 miles north of the Gaza Strip, was carrying explosives or surveillance equipment.


What India Hopes to Achieve at BRICS Summit - 7/13/2014

NDTV Prime Minister Narendra Modi is flying to Brazil, drawn not by the football world cup fever, but to face his first diplomatic test on a global stage - the sixth annual BRICS conference. 

The BRICS summit - a multilateral forum comprising of the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - will be the first occasion that the Prime Minister will be sharing stage with world leaders after he assumed office in May. 

The summit will last over two days and will be held in the cities of Fortaleza and Brasilia in Brazil, just after the country finishes hosting the football world cup on Sunday.
 
So what does India hope to achieve? 

Apart from bilateral meetings with various leaders, India hopes to achieve some major diplomatic coups by the end of the two-day summit. 

BRICS BANK 
At the top of the agenda is the setting up of a new development bank on the lines of the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. The idea was first discussed at the BRICS meet in New Delhi in 2012.
 
CONTINGENT FUNDS 
With a corpus of $100 billion dollars the proposed bank will fund projects for infrastructure projects in emerging, developing countries and will rival the western dominated International Monetary Fund and World Bank. 
 
BRICS BANK: DELHI OR SHANGHAI? 
One of major points of contention has been the location of the headquarters for the proposed bank which both India and China are vying for. South Africa has also thrown its hat in the ring, hoping that the bank will be based in Johannesburg. 

PM Modi will be attempting to bring the bank to New Delhi, but it remains a challenging prospect considering Shanghai, where China plans to locate the bank, already has the infrastructure required. 

In a statement, released before the Prime Minister boarded the plane to Brazil, he said, "I look forward to the successful conclusion of major BRICS initiatives, like the New Development Bank and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement, which have seen significant progress since their launch in New Delhi in 2012". 

INDIA-CHINA: SECURITY CONCERNS 
The second priority on PM Modi's list is India's security concerns about its Northern and Eastern borders that it shares with China. PM Modi, who will have have bilateral meetings with all BRICS leaders, will meet Chinese President, Xi Jinping. The Chinese president is expected to visit India later this year. 

The Prime Minister's focus will be trying to get an assurance from China to stop all incursions in the disputed areas till a permanent solution is found. 
 
AFGHANISTAN: AN AREA OF MUTUAL INTEREST 

Russia, China and India would also be discussing the security situation in Afghanistan as the date for the exit of American combat troops from the war-torn country nears. The threat has become more real even as Afghanistan has been going through a tumultuous and hotly contested election. China's 'all weather freind' status to Pakistan, which has a huge stake in Afghanistan, is a roadblock to any talks on the issue.
 
WEAK LINKS WITH LATIN AMERICA? 
The relationship with Latin America, whose economic muscle and global clout, has been growing has an immense potential to grow. This will provide an excellent opportunity for the Prime Minister to make  new allies in the Southern Hemisphere.

The world's biggest emerging economies along with a host of South American countries will be at the two-day summit. This will be an opportunity for the Prime Minister to establish a rapport with the world leaders, with whom he will be working over the next five years.  

26 people including 12 women arrested from rave party in Hyderabad - 7/13/2014

National
Hyderabad: The Cyberabad Police on Sunday raided  and busted a rave party at a poultry farm in Shamirpet region.

26 people including 12 women were arrested from the spot.

The police team raided the farm in Turkapalli area of Shamirpet after they received information about the rave party.

The Shamirpet Police Station Inspector TN Babji said that the people were allegedly indulging in obscene dance at the party in the outskirts of the region.

As many as 26 persons, including 12 women - three from Mumbai and one belonging to Kolkata, were arrested in connection with the rave party, the inspector said.

He informed that the people who organized the rave party were from different parts of Hyderabad and that police will be producing them before a local court.

One of the organisers, identified as Ranjan, is absconding while his female accomplice, who was part of organising the rave party, is among the 12 arrested women, he said.

At least Rs. 2 lakh cash, many several cellphones, 4 four wheeler and some liquor bottles were recovered from the party, told inspector.

Hospitals make a killing on medical devices like stents, implants - 7/13/2014

TOI The cost of medical devices like stents and pacemakers is enough to give anyone a heart attack. TOI found that patients were being forced to pay double or even triple the price for medical devices at hospitals. As most of these are not available in the open market, patients can't check prices and are held hostage by hospitals, which force them to buy at the price they quote.

Sources in the healthcare sector told TOI that in several hospitals, the margins on devices — ranging from stents, implants and pacemakers to artificial joints, titanium plates for fractures, and valves — could add up to as much as 30% of their profits. Hundreds of such devices are used in a hospital every day. Of course, it is the patient who pays for these handsome margins.

Take what happened to a lawyer whose father was admitted to a 'charitable' hospital in Kochi. The doctors advised that the patient needed three drug eluting stents at Rs 95,000 per stent. Since he knew the pharma and medical devices market reasonably well, the lawyer went directly to the hospital's supplier, who offered the same stents for about Rs 40,000 each, a rate much higher than would have been charged to a bulk buyer like a hospital. But the hospital refused to use a stent bought by him. He had no option but to take the stent provided by the hospital as his father could not be shifted. After much haggling, the hospital offered to give three stents for the price of two, charging him Rs 87,000 for each. The final price of each stent, including the 'free' one, was effectively Rs 58,000.

"The actual cost at which the hospital gets it is probably in the range of Rs 30,000 or even less. That's a mark-up of almost 300% on just one stent. And this was a top-of-the-line branded stent from one of the biggest multinationals. There were many patients there who were being charged the full amount. Even the supplier gets a cut from the company. Imagine what the actual price might be if directly sourced from the company, probably about Rs 20,000," said the lawyer.

Adding to the margin on devices is the profit hospitals make billing patients for medicines using the same principle of buying cheap in bulk and selling at a much higher price to the patient. In fact, devices, medicines and diagnostics could account for as much as 70% of a hospital's profit. Some very reputed doctors confirmed to TOI that this was the case, but asked not to be named.

Experts feel that making it mandatory to declare the maximum retail price on each device could help cap the price and make companies compete to offer lower prices. However, doctors point out that having an MRP has not prevented profiteering in medicines, with the MRP being fixed high enough to accommodate commissions since there is no limit on what the MRP can be. Moreover, while MRP is mandatory on everything manufactured in India, many devices are imported and escape this stipulation.

Another suggestion is that devices be prescribed by doctors but left to patients to buy from pharmacies where several brands could be stocked to allow patients to decide. "After all the sterility required of a medical device like an implant is of the same level as a syringe or bandage. If those can be bought in pharmacies, why not devices? This system of hospitals meant to sell services becoming peddlers of wares compromises the right of a patient as the consumer to choose," argued one expert in favour of open purchase. But not all patients would relish the extra hassle of having to purchase each item themselves. They might also feel they do not know enough to make an informed choice.

A surgeon in a corporate hospital narrated how a company offered him a stapling gun used in surgeries at Rs 20,000, which he found to be as good as the one he was using regularly but which cost about Rs 22,000. "Since it saved the patient Rs 2,000, I decided to use the cheaper one. But I got a call from the purchasing section of the hospital to go back to using the earlier one since the company gave it to the hospital for Rs 14,000, which meant a mark-up of Rs 8,000, while the other company offered its gun to the hospital for Rs 16,000, which meant only Rs 4,000 for the hospital," said the surgeon. He went back to the one that cost Rs 22,000 since both were equally good. In most hospitals, if two devices are more or less equal, the choice of which one is used depends on which fetches the hospital a bigger cut.

"If the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) can regulate and prescribe ceiling rates for call charges or roaming charges, why is there no government regulation on what hospitals can charge for medical procedures and devices? Just as there is a National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) for medicines, there ought to be an authority that regulates the price of devices. Why is the government allowing hospitals to loot patients like this?" asked the lawyer whose father had three stents implanted.

Behind the ballooning bills

· Whether it's drugs or devices, hospitals buy cheap in bulk and sell at a much higher price to patient

· If two devices are more or less equal, hospitals choose the one that gets them a bigger cut

· Experts suggest making MRP mandatory on devices or a price regulatory authority

· Another option is to let patients buy from market

Mishap Averted as Indigo, Air India Flights Came Close over Bagdogra in Bengal - 7/12/2014

NDTV An Delhi-bound Indigo flight came close to a descending Air India plane over Bagdogra in West Bengal on Friday afternoon, raising the spectre of a collision and giving scare to about 250 passengers on board the two aircraft.

The Air Traffic Control (ATC) had given clearance to both the aircraft, according to Indigo airline spokesperson.

The Air India flight 879, carrying 120 passengers, was descending and the Indigo Bagdogra-Delhi flight 6E472 with 130 passengers on board was given clearance to climb the 30,000-feet height, the Indigo spokesman said.

The Indigo flight departed at 1222 hrs. As they came close to each other violating the 1000m separation, the pilots of the Indigo plane and the Air India aircraft, however, manoeuvred themselves to avoid a near-miss, the spokesperson said.

The Indigo flight Captain got a traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS) resolution advisory (RA). As per Standard Operation Procedure (SOP), the Capt followed RA and descended and the AI flight also followed RA and turned right, the spokesperson said.

Once the Captains received "clear-of-conflict" message, they manoeuvred back to normal situation, he added.

The Indigo flight landed at Delhi at 1415hrs.

The DCGA is conducting an inquiry into the incident. 

SC orders govt to pay new NREGA wages - 7/12/2014

TOI
SC orders govt to pay new NREGA wages


NEW DELHI: The paltry Rs 353 crore increase on last year's 33,000 crore budget allocation for implementation of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) may not fit the bill as the Supreme Court on Friday ordered implementation of new wages effective since April 1.

The UPA government had on February 13 notified new wages for states. For Bihar, wages increased by 16.6% to Rs 153 a day while in Jharkhand it went up by 14.9% to Rs 158. Wages in Andhra Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura were increased by 14.8%.

Despite the annual increase in wages under MGNREGA since 2011, minimum wages in more than a dozen states are still higher. This was the reason why the Karnataka High Court had directed the Centre to pay MGNREGA wages in accordance with the Karnataka State Minimum Wages Act.

The Centre had appealed against the HC order in the SC, but in January, the apex court refused to stay the HC order saying payment of minimum wages was mandatory under law. This forced the UPA government to revise the wages under MGNREGA.

But the revised wages, as specified in the February 13 notification and effective from April 1, is estimated to cost the exchequer an additional Rs 1,000 crore. However, the increase of Rs 353 crore might not be enough to implement the rural employment guarantee schemes.

A bench of Justices S J Mukhopadhaya and S A Bobde disposed of the Centre's appeal saying implementation of the new wage structure as per the February 13 notification had rendered the petition infructuous.

However, it kept open the question — should states pay minimum wages as provided under the law while implementing MGNREGA — open for future and said if any challenge was made to the notification, then the court concerned would decide it on its own merit uninfluenced by the Karnataka HC judgment.

When the national job scheme was started in 2006, the minimum wage for agricultural labourers in each state was taken as the standard wage for MGNREGA workers. However, in 2008, the Centre decided to revise the MGNREGA wage rate by indexing it to consumer price index for agricultural labourers.


Budget 2014: Income Tax Changes Can Save You up to Rs. 36,000 - 7/10/2014

NDTV
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's Budget announcements will lead to big savings for income tax payers. Mr Jaitley on Thursday hiked the basic exemption limit on income taxes from Rs. 2 lakh to Rs. 2.50 lakh.

Mr Jaitley also hiked the cap on long-term investments under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act from Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 1.50 lakh. The Finance Minister also raised the tax-free cap on interest paid on housing loan from Rs. 1.5 lakh to Rs. 2 lakh.

Together, the three announcements will lead to a combined savings of Rs. 36,050 for individuals in the highest tax bracket (taxable income above Rs. 10 lakh), according to tax consultant BMR Advisors.

Individuals with taxable income between Rs. 5 and 10 lakh will save Rs.25,750, BMR Advisors said. Those with taxable income between Rs. 2 and Rs. 5 lakh will save around Rs. 15,450.

In another major announcement, Mr Jaitley enhanced the Public Provident Fund (PPF) ceiling from current Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 1.5 lakh in a financial year. PPF is one of the most popular tax-saving schemes. (Read: Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Raises PPF Ceiling to Rs. 1.5 lakh)

The PPF corpus is tax-free at all three stages. The investment is eligible for tax deduction under Section 80C. The interest earned is also tax-free, and so are withdrawals.

Mr Jaitley said the government will forego around Rs. 22,000 crore on account of these changes.


World Cup Final Comes Between PM Modi and Merkel - 7/9/2014

NDTV news
World Cup Final Comes Between PM Modi and Merkel

Mr Modi will leave on his foreign tour on Sunday morning. (File photo)

  New Delhi: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has picked soccer over meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Mr Modi will make a stopover in Germany on his way to Brazil for a BRICS summit on Sunday, but will be unable to meet Chancellor Merkel as she will be off to Brazil to watch her country's soccer team play the finals of the FIFA World Cup.

Mr Modi was reportedly keen to meet Ms Merkel on his stopover and the German Ambassador in India is believed to have pushed for the meeting too. But Germany had reportedly not confirmed a meeting between the two leaders.  

Germany qualified for the finals of the cup by demolishing hosts Brazil 7-1 in a semi-final match yesterday. They will play the winner of a match tonight between Argentina and The Netherlands, in Rio De Janiero on Sunday, July 13. Germany confirmed after its mammoth win that the Chancellor would fly to Rio to cheer her team.

She was also in the stands last month for Germany's opening match against Portugal last month. Her team had won that match 4-0.

Mr Modi will leave on his foreign tour on Sunday along with senior ministers and a business delegation. He is expected to meet BRICS (the group of emerging economies Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) leaders - in Brazil's Fortaleza, where the summit begins on July 15.

He will also visit Brasilia, Brazil's capital, where he is expected to meet leaders of other South American countries, invited by his host President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil

At Fortaleza, the BRICS leaders are expected to sign a treaty to launch a 100 billion dollar BRICS bank.

Reports say annual trade between India and Germany is pegged at over 18 billion euros or Rs.  1,46,700 crore. The PM would have been keen to pursue his policy of inviting foreign powers to invest and create assets in India, with Germany, one of its biggest trading partners.

Ex-Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy caught on tape demanding Rs 20 crore for giving party seat - 7/6/2014

Indian Express

Former chief minister and JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy has been allegedly caught on tape demanding Rs 20 crore from an MLC aspirant to give away his party’s seat for the Upper House of Karnataka Legislature.

The 35-minute audio clip is a conversation between Kumaraswamy and the aspirant from Bijapur, Vijaygouda Patil. This clip was anonymously released to the media on Saturday and verified by Kumaraswamy. In the audio, an alleged Vijugouda supporter offers Kumaraswamy an amount of Rs 40 crore in lieu of a seat to the Bijapur leader.

Apparently, the conversation between the two parties is purported to have taken place in Bangalore during a party meet in early June this year. Kumaraswamy has admittedly accepted that the event had indeed taken place and he reiterated that he hasn’t done any crime. He further mentioned that 40 of his MLAs are demanding Rs 1 crore each.


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