BSE Sensex, Nifty hit record highs, insurers gain

MUMBAI - The BSE Sensex and the Nifty rose to record highs on Thursday after cabinet approval for a higher foreign direct investment limit in insurance and a rejig in foreign debt limits reinforced optimism about the government's reform agenda.

IMF cuts global growth outlook, warns of stagnation risk in rich nations 12:33am IST

WASHINGTON/MEXICO CITY - The International Monetary Fund on Thursday chopped its 2014 forecast for global economic growth to take into account weakness early in the year in the United States and China, the world's two biggest economies.

Women cry at the site of a collision between a train and a school bus in Medak district in Telangana July 24, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer
Telangana Accident

Train rams school bus in Telangana; 20 dead

A train slammed into a school bus in southern India on Thursday, killing at least 19 children and the driver, police said. The bus crossed a railway track at an unmanned crossing in Telangana without stopping to check if the way was clear, said Indian Railways spokesman Anil Kumar Saxena. Police said the bus was carrying 32 children, 12 of whom died on the spot.   Full Article 

A Palestinian mother comforts her child in a hospital a few hundred meters from where medics said Israeli shelling hit a U.N-run school sheltering Palestinian refugees, in Beit Hanoun the northern Gaza Strip July 24, 2014. At least 15 people were killed and many wounded on Thursday when Israeli forces shelled a U.N.-run school sheltering Palestinian refugees in northern Gaza, said a spokesman for the Gaza health ministry, Ashraf al-Qidra. Chris Gunness, spokesman for the main U.N. agency in Gaza UNRWA, confirmed the strike and criticised Israel. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly

At least 15 dead in shelling of Gaza school

Israeli forces shelled a U.N.-run school sheltering Palestinians in the northern Gaza strip, the Gaza health ministry said, killing at least 15 people and raising the conflict's death toll to nearly 750.  Full Article 

An electrician installs power cables outside Parliament building in New Delhi December 10, 2013. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee/Files

UAE firm pulls out of $1.6 bln India power deal

Abu Dhabi National Energy Co (TAQA) is pulling out of a $1.6 billion deal to buy two Indian hydroelectric power plants because of "a change in strategy", a senior TAQA official told Reuters on Thursday. In March, TAQA said a consortium led by it had agreed to buy the two power plants from Jaiprakash Power Ventures. The consortium was to spend $616 million on equity in the plants.  Full Article 

Photo of Markandey Katju from his Facebook page.

Ex-Supreme Court judge Katju stirs the pot

Comments by retired Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju had parliament in uproar. In a blog post published by the Times of India, the chairman of Press Council of India hinted at a connection between the government and judiciary in the elevation of an allegedly corrupt judge. This isn’t the first time that the man heading India’s print media oversight body has stirred the pot, writes Shashank Chouhan.  Blog 

Fouad Masoum, Iraq's newly elected president, smiles during a news conference in Baghdad, July 24, 2014. REUTERS/Ahmed Saad

Iraq elects president as Ban urges unity

Iraq's parliament elected a senior Kurdish lawmaker president, a significant step in a delayed process to create a government capable of uniting the country and countering insurgents threatenening to march on Baghdad.  Article | Purge of minorities re-draws Iraq map 

The golden lion, symbol of the Venice Film Festival, is silhouetted against the sun in Venice August 26, 2008. The 65th Venice Film Festival will take place from August 27 to September 6, 2008. REUTERS/Max Rossi   (ITALY)

Venice film festival to kick off with black comedy

Mexican director Alejandro Inarritu opens this year's Venice film festival with the premiere of "Birdman", a black comedy that heads a 55-strong selection leaning heavily towards war and recession, festival director Alberto Barbera said on Thursday.  Full Article 

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Plane Crash

Danish Siddiqui

Waiting to die in Varanasi

The Ganges is sacred in Hinduism, and Varanasi, which lies on its banks, is one of the oldest and holiest sites for Hindu pilgrims from all over the world. Dying and having your ashes scattered here is a sacred thing for Hindus who believe that it brings “moksha,” or freedom for the soul from the constant cycle of death and rebirth. To attain this salvation, many travel to Varanasi to die  Full Article 

The war in Gaza threatens Egypt too

The war in Gaza threatens Egypt too

Although many Egyptians view Hamas as an ally of the Muslim Brotherhood, most sympathize with the Palestinians. When they see the scale of casualties - for example, the death and destruction in the Shuja’iah neighborhood in Gaza - they overwhelmingly blame Israel. This is true even as their leaders express anger over Hamas’ refusal to accept ceasefire proposal.  Commentary 

Nicholas Wapshott

I’m Reagan! No, over here, I’m the real Reagan!

Although Ronald Reagan's record in raising taxes and adding to the deficit would make him ineligible to become the nominee were he still alive, the contestants of 2016 U.S. presidential race are already comparing themselves with the only Republican president whose conservative credentials are made of the same material as earned him his nickname, the “Teflon president.”  Full Article 

Kishan Singh Bisht, a jail warden in Tihar, maintains a register inside a restaurant run by the Tihar Jail authorities on Jail Road in west Delhi July 21, 2014. REUTERS/Anindito Mukherjee

Restaurant run by Tihar convicts wins praise for politeness, hygiene

As India's capital baked in a heat wave, banker Gaurav Gupta sat down for lunch at a new air-conditioned restaurant, to be greeted by a smiling waiter who took his order for a traditional "thali" meal of flatbread, lentils, vegetables and rice. Nothing unusual, except that the employee, like most of his colleagues, is a convicted murderer serving time in Tihar Jail.  Full Article 

Keren Blankfeld

Life — if you can call it that — under Israel’s Iron Dome

I’ve become pretty great at rocket dodging. As a New Yorker living in Tel Aviv while researching a book, I never thought I’d say that. And yet it’s true: since Hamas began firing rockets into Tel Aviv on July 8, I’ve learned to move quickly. I’m witnessing just a sliver of what it’s like for Israelis trying their best to live a “normal” life in a kind of twilight zone where different rules apply.   Commentary 

Jack Shafer

Dear Mr. Murdoch: Save yourself 80 billion bucks

Getting bigger for bigness’s sake makes sense for a sumo wrestler. But does that apply to a media conglomerate? There’s a panic element to the Murdoch offer, too. At the age of 83, how many more deals can he possibly consummate? Of course, that’s what they all said when Murdoch was 73, and had not yet bought the Wall Street Journal for $5 billion. But 83 is not the new 73.  Full Article