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Saturday, 23 September

23:03

PKR rep grabbed from event and ejected from Sarawak "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

PKRs Kuala Sepetang state assemblywoman Chua Yee Ling was picked up at a dinner organised by Sarawak Pakatan Harapan (PH) in Miri tonight and directly deported back to Kuala Lumpur by the state Immigration officials. She left Miri Airport on a 9.30pm AirAsia flight, Sarawak PKR Youth deputy head Simon Siah told Malay Mail Online []

23:02

Outcome of London mission to be known at right time "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The outcome of the fact-finding mission on Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) to London will be revealed at the right time. Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg assured that he would pursue his predecessor Tok Nans call that the Sarawaks right contained in MA63 would be given back to Sarawak. That is why I []

23:02

State to replace up to 260 dilapidated schools "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The state government is going to replace between 250 and 260 dilapidated schools in Sarawak within two years. Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the construction of new schools is part of a special catch-up plan to improve the quality of education in Sarawak. He said the Ministry of Education, Science and []

23:02

Nurul cancels trip after Zuraida, Hee turned away "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar has decided not to come here yesterday evening after National Women chief Zuraida Kamaruddin who is also Ampang MP and Petaling Jaya Selatan MP Hee Loy Sian were refused entry into the state when they arrived here from Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Nurul was scheduled to arrive at []

23:02

Sarawak CM says wont slam door on Dr M "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is free to enter Sarawak, Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Openg said today. He said he will not stop the Pakatan Harapan chairman or other Opposition leaders from entering the state, and explained that only extremists such as Umnos Datuk Jamal Yunos and Perkasas Datuk Ibrahim Ali []

23:02

Abang Johari coy over Dr Ms entry into the state "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The state government has yet to confirm if Pakatan Harapan chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad would be allowed into Sarawak today. The former prime minister is expected to speak during the opposition alliances event here tonight. Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg did not give a clear cut answer on whether the former []

23:02

Sarawak is hoping for over RM30 billion investment from China "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Sarawak is hoping for over RM30 billion investment from China this year, with the single biggest investment the RM13 billion in the steel industry in Samalaju Industrial Park in Bintulu.Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said the state government has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with China-based company, Hebei Xinwuan []

23:01

PKR Wanita chief says expelled by Sarawak "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

PKR Wanita head Zuraida Kamaruddin said she was denied entry into Sarawak today, hours after Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Openg vowed not to bar Opposition leaders from the state. Zuraida said she was detained at the Miri airport at about 2pm today, and failed to negotiate her way past Immigration officials. Ha3 I []

17:35

Western Propaganda in Southeast Asia a True Success Story "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

7555444It is all done in a fully barefaced manner. Those who are not part of this world could never even dream about such a perfect design.

You come to your club, in my case to The Foreign Correspondent Club of Thailand (FCCT), and immediately the long arm of indoctrination begins stretching towards you.

You place yourself on a comfortable couch, and soon after get fully serviced. You get instructed, told what to think and how to formulate or modify your ideas.

You are periodically shown movies about corruption and immorality in China. You get encouraged to participate in some public discussions that are, among other things, trashing the anti-Western president of the Philippines.

Although lately also the Middle East, and particularly Syria, are brought into the spotlight.

Of course almost all that is on offer in such places like FCCT is the Western view, or concretely a set of Western views raging from conservative to liberal. The club is located in Asia, in the heart of Southeast Asia, but very few Asians are invited to speak here, except the few Thais who are well versed in the Western way of thinking. Or Western agents like the Dalai Lama, of course such individuals can come anytime they want! Forget about hearing from the other side youd never stumble here over speakers such as Communist thinkers or writers from Mainland China, or pro-Duterte academics or activists from the Philippines.

Most of the Thais who get spotted at the FCCT are actually those who provide support services for the Western gurus of mainstream media: interpreters, fixers, waiters and as well as some administrative support staff.

This is not a place for Asians to lecture Westerners about Asia; this is where Westerners tell Asians how to think in general, and what to think about their own countries in particular.

On the same floor as the FCCT, right down the narrow carpeted corridor, there are the offices of the BBC, the NBC and several other mainstream Western media outlets. The Penthouse of the Maneeya Center Building in Bangkok is actually a self-sufficient propaganda complex.

And tonight it is offering a free screening (free for us, members) of a U.S. documentary film called Salam Neighbor, about Jordans huge Zaatari refugee camp, whi...

15:34

Centre Considers Extra Spending of Rs 500 Billion to Halt Economic Slowdown "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Growth slowed to a three-year low of 5.7% in the quarter that ended in June, and finance minister Arun Jaitley has said that the government is looking for ways to speed it up.

An India Rupee note is seen in this illustration photo June 1, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Thomas White/Illustration/Files

An India Rupee note is seen in this illustration photo June 1, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Thomas White/Illustration/Files

New Delhi: Indias government is considering a plan to loosen its fiscal deficit target to enable it to spend up to Rs 500 billion more to halt an economic slowdown, two government officials with direct knowledge of the plan said on Thursday.

Growth in Asias third-largest economy slowed to a three-year low of 5.7% in the quarter that ended in June, and finance minister Arun Jaitley said on Wednesday that the government was looking for ways to speed it up.

The officials, who declined to be named as the measures have not been made public y...

15:15

Under Garb of Preservation, Chattisgarh Is Denying Vulnerable Groups Their Reproductive Rights "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

As of May this year, people from Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups who want to be sterilised have to ask the sub-divisional magistrate for permission.

Women who underwent sterilisation surgery at a government mass sterilisation camp pose for pictures inside a hospital at Bilaspur district in Chhattisgarh November 14, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee

Women who underwent sterilisation surgery at a government mass sterilisation camp pose for pictures inside a hospital at Bilaspur district in Chhattisgarh November 14, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee

While on the one hand the government is pushing for a two-child norm, on the other it is forcibly precluding certain Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) in the country from accessing sterilisation services, thus transgressing their right...

15:00

Bihars Marhowra Plant Under Cloud as Piyush Goyal Prioritises Electric Locomotives "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The Railways is now exploring various ways for General Electric, which was awarded the contract in 2015, to smoothly exit the Rs 2,000-crore project.

Construction underway at the Marhowra loco plant. Credit: Twitter/Shankar Dhar

Construction underway at the Marhowra loco plant. Credit: Twitter/Shankar Dhar

New Delhi: The Indian Railways much-trumpeted multi-crore Make in India programme in Bihar is facing curtains even before taking off.

In November 2015, the rail ministry, then headed by Suresh Prabhu, awarded a Rs 14,000-crore contract to US conglomerate General Electric to set up a diesel electric locomotive factory in Marhowra. Another plant at Madhepura, for modern electric locomotives, was awarded to French major Alstom.

At the time, in the run-up to the Bihar state elections, these projects were billed as the biggest FDI in the rail sector. Massive investments of around Rs 40,000 crore over the next five years were planned for the Bihar projects, according to statements issued by the ministry at the time....

14:31

Wide Angle, Episode 3: The Curious History of India-Pakistan Relations "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Maya Mirchandani interviews Indias former high commissioner to Pakistan T.C.A. Raghavan about his new book The People Next Door: The Curious History of Indias Relations with Pakistan.

The post Wide Angle, Episode 3: The Curious History of India-Pakistan Relations appeared first on The Wire.

14:20

The Supreme Court was Right to Pierce the Jaypee Groups Corporate Veil "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

A recent and troubling editorial by The Economic Times shows how Jaypees defence against angry homebuyers looking for justice is often bought hook, line and sinker.

While Jaypee would be happy to have JIL fall into insolvency, letting them off the hook when it comes to stranded home buyers, the Supreme Court put a stop to it. Credit: Reuters

While Jaypee would be happy to have JIL fall into insolvency, letting them off the hook when it comes to stranded home buyers, the Supreme Court put a stop to it. Credit: Reuters

A recent editorial put out by The Economic Times (ET) headlined Jaypee Insolvency: Quite A Legal Mess made one sit up. What is jarring that the editorial takes several potshots at the Supreme Court, which in recent times has come to the rescue of over 30,000 hapless homebuyers.

The column begins with a matter-of-fact statement The Supreme Courts intervent...

14:01

Australia and U.S. Joined at the Hip: Wheres the Benefit? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has on two recent occasions referred to Australia being joined at the hip to the United States on its defence and national security policies. That phrasing invited some critical commentary, but conspicuously, there was no demurral from the official Opposition Labor Party. To all practical intents and purposes the Liberal National Coalition and the Labor Party are indistinguishable on matters of defence, foreign policy and national security.

Turnbulls remarks, as with the election of the erratic and clearly unfit Donald Trump as US President, should have presented an opportunity for a critical reappraisal of Australias position viz a viz the United States. It did not happen, not least because a supine mainstream media sees no reason to question the fundamental assumptions underlying Australias defence policies since at least the fall of Singapore to the Japanese in January 1942.

Prior to that seminal event, Australia had never challenged its role as a colonial appendage to the British Empire. That status had led Australia into a series of wars, which in common with just about every other military misadventure before and since had only the vaguest connection with Australias national interest, if any.

Australian troops fought the Russians in the Crimean War of the 1850s (the rich irony of which is lost in the current propaganda war waged against Russia for its annexation of Crimea.) Australian troops were slaughtered in large numbers in World War 1, a war planned at least since the 1890s to counter any German challenge to British imperial supremacy (Docherty & Macgregor Hidden History, 2013)

Although Prime Minister Hughes refused a British request to formally join British forces fighting in the Russian civil war 1917-21 against the Bolsheviks, Australian troops nonetheless joined the North Russia campaign as volunteers. A Royal Australian Destroyer HMAS Swan also undertook intelligence operations in the Black Sea in late 1918 directed against the Bolshevik forces.

With the rout of the British forces in 1941-42 by the Japanese, it was obvious to Australian politicians that a new protector was needed, and the Americans required no encouragement to assume that role. The marriage of convenience that occurred in 1942-45 may have suited Australia in its perception of an imminent Japanese invasion, but then, as now, the brides dowry should have be...

13:20

Failed Kings, Naive Boatmen and Other Ancient Tales From the Republic of Kashi "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Recalling the iconoclasm of Varanasis ordinary citizens, the wisdom of its scholars and the dreams of its failed kings who sought to make an empire of a republic.

Ascetic. Credit: Aakash Gautam/Flickr CC-BY-NC 2.0

Death, writes Walter Benjamin, is the sanction of everything that the story teller can tell.

No city in India has more to do with death than Kashi, the city of Manikarnika Ghat, of whom it is said the day its perennial pyres go out, the world will end.

For story lovers in our time, here are some gathas a few-thousand-years-old but amazingly contemporary in spirit from the Buddhist jatakas, Jain prabandhas and Vedic scriptures about the Republic of Kashi, the iconoclasm of its ordinary citizens, the wisdom of its scholars, its false swamis, and failed kings who dreamed of making an empire of a republic.

The crows of Varanasi

The crows of Varanasi were a well-fed lot. All pilgrims those who came here to cremate their dead and also those who came to bathe in the holy Ganges offered the crows balls of rice, sesame and ghee, in the name of their ancestors. The gentle, kind-hearted Buddhist and Jain monks who wandered the city also fed the crows tidbits out of their begging bowls. Then came a terrible famine. Free meals even for crows became rare as the priests and pilgrims, the Jain and Buddhist monks and nuns fled the city. So the crows of Kashi held a quick conclave. It was resolved that till such time as the situation improved, the crows would fly west to a coastal town by the sea where their sister, married to a water bird liv...

13:17

Despite Regional Fears, Kurds Press Historic Independence Vote "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Kurds celebrate to show their support for the upcoming September 25th independence referendum in Erbil, Iraq September 22, 2017. Credit: Reuters

Kurds celebrate to show their support for the upcoming September 25th independence referendum in Erbil, Iraq September 22, 2017. Credit: Reuters

Erbil, Iraq: Iraqi Kurds are expected to vote for independence in a referendum on Monday that neighbouring countries and Western powers fear could break up the country and stir broader regional ethnic and sectarian conflict.

Kurdish flags a red, white and green tricolour emblazoned with a golden sun adorn cars and buildings across the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, and billboards announce: The time is now say yes to a free Kurdistan!

Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish region since 2005, has resisted calls by the UN, the US and Britain to delay the referendum. Neighbourin...

13:16

UN Secretary General Guterres Asked by Half of Security Council to Publicly Brief on Myanmar "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, US., September 19, 2017. Credit: Reuters

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres addresses the 72nd UN General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, US., September 19, 2017. Credit: Reuters

UN: Seven members of the UN Security Council, including the US and Britain, on Friday asked UN chief Antonio Guterres to publicly brief the 15-member body next week on the violence in Myanmar that he has described as ethnic cleansing.

Sweden, the US, Britain, France, Egypt, Senegal, and Kazakhstan want Ethiopia, president of the council for September, to arrange the briefing for next week, according to the request seen by Reuters.

More than 422,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar since August 25, when attacks by Rohingya militants triggered a military cr...

13:15

Uber CEO Tweets Pls Work W/Us as Uber Deemed Unfit and Stripped of London License "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

A photo illustration shows the Uber app on a mobile telephone, as it is held up for a posed photograph in central London, Britain September 22, 2017. Credit: Reuters

A photo illustration shows the Uber app on a mobile telephone, as it is held up for a posed photograph in central London, Britain September 22, 2017. Credit: Reuters

London: London deemed Uber unfit to run a taxi service on Friday and stripped it of its licence to operate from the end of next week in a major blow to the U.S. firm and 3.5 million users in one of the worlds wealthiest cities.

In a break with the startups usual combative tone, Ubers new Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi asked London to please work with the ride service. He told employees the company needed to act with integrity but that he did not believe Uber had done everything it was accused of in London.

Uber, which has 40,000 drivers working in the capital, also said it would contest the deci...

13:14

Russian Hackers Targeted Wisconsin, Ohio, California in 2016 US Presidential Race "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

 A voter arrives to cast their ballot in the Wisconsin presidential primary election at a voting station in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S. on April 5, 2016. Credit: Reuters

A voter arrives to cast their ballot in the Wisconsin presidential primary election at a voting station in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S. on April 5, 2016. Credit: Reuters

Washington: Wisconsin, Ohio, California and ten other states said on Friday they were among 21 states that Russian government hackers targeted in an effort to sway the 2016 presidential election in favor of Donald Trump though no votes were changed.

The Department of Homeland Security confirmed it had notified the states of the activity but declined to identify them. Russia has denied election meddling, and President Trump has denied any collusion with Russia.

...

13:07

Journalists Cry Foul After Police Summons in Fake Facebook Profile Investigation "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Those summoned allege they are being targeted for their political views but the Maharashtra police insists they have been called only as witnesses.

The Mumbai police has reportedly summoned over 20 journalists and activists for questioning. Credit: Reuters

The Mumbai police has reportedly summoned over 20 journalists and activists for questioning. Credit: Reuters

Mumbai: A two-month-old cyber crime case has now taken a political turn after the Mumbai crime branch reportedly issued over 20 notices to journalists and activists across Maharashtra, asking them to appear before it for an inquiry. While police officials claimed the journalists were summoned only as witnesses, images and messages circulated widely on social media platforms on Friday claimed that the police have especially targeted those who have been critical of the state government. 

A cyber crime case was registered in June by Nidhi Kamdar, an officer on special duty (OSD) with chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, after her fake profile was allegedly created on Facebook. One Mahadev Balgude, 31, a Baramati resident was arrested on August 19 in this case. According to Kamdars complaint, Balgude, who operated a Facebook profile using the fake identity Dev Gaikwad, had created another account in Kamdars name. Balgude had allegedly faked some conversation between these two fake profiles, where he discussed money deals, referring to them being initiated at the...

12:34

Mid-Way Through Karwan-e-Mohabbat, Harsh Mander Gets Income Tax Notice "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Days after a threat from an RSS ideologue, the IT department rectifies its earlier assessment and orders a fresh complete scrutiny.

Harsh Mander sits in dharna near where Pehlu Khan was lynched in Behror, Rajasthan, during the Karwan-e-Mohabbat. Credit: Twitter/Karwan-e-Mohabbat

Harsh Mander sits in dharna near where Pehlu Khan was lynched in Behror, Rajasthan, during the Karwan-e-Mohabbat. Credit: Twitter/Karwan-e-Mohabbat

In a press note issued on Saturday, the noted human rights activist and former IAS officer has questioned the timing of an income tax notice to the Centre for Equity Studies, a think-tank that he helps run, and asked whether it is being targeted because of the work Harsh Mander and others are doing to show solidarity with the victims of communal violence across India.

The press note is published below in its entirety.

A number of independent individuals, organisations and social movements collaborated to take out through many parts of the country a Karwan-e-Mohabbat, as a journey of atonement, solidarity, healing, conscience and justice with people living with hate violence. This was an entirely crowd funded Karwan, and the funds for this were received by Aman Biradari Trust, which does not have an FCRA.

On September 15, 2017, the Karwan was scheduled to stop at Behror at the site at which Pehlu Khan had been lynched, to pay tribute to his memory by placing a few flowers there. But a day before this, the Hindu Jag...

12:15

Police State Repression in Catalonia "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Catalonia is an autonomous community in Spains northeast, bordering France and the Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona its capital and largest city.

11:45

Russia Unveils T-72B3 at Zapad-2017 Exercise "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The Russian T-72B3 tanks have been tested during Zapad 2017 Russian-Belarussian strategic exercise. This is the first time the tanks were tested in a large-scale training event. The first batch of 20 upgraded vehicles entered service with the Western Military District of the Russian Army in February.

11:33

Not Doing Away With Hot Meals For Children Under ICDS, Centre Clarifies "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

This comes after Maneka Gandhi recently said the government was considering moving from food transfers to cash transfers.

Under the National Food Security Act, children between the ages of three and six are provided with hot cooked meals at anganwadi centres. Representative image credit: Reuters

Under the National Food Security Act, children between the ages of three and six are provided with hot cooked meals at anganwadi centres. Representative image credit: Reuters

New Delhi: The Ministry of Women and Child Development has said there is no plan of replacing hot cooked meals, which the government currently provides to children between the ages of three and six years, by either uncooked food such as nutrient packets, ready-to-cook food or cash.

There has been a lot of discussion on this. But there is no plan to remove hot cooked meals. It is a part of the National Food Security Act, said women and child development ministry secretary Rakesh Srivastava. The role of anganwadis in cooking hot meals for children and women is specified in Section 5 and 6 of the Act. The central ministry provides only guidelines to the states. But states cannot violate the Act. If they do, they can be taken to court, he said.

This clarification follows reports that the government was in fact moving towards this. The indications on this came from...

11:15

Straws in the Wind for a Reset in US-Russian Relations "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The receding specters of a war involving North Korea and a US-Russia confrontation in Syria. The sound of cracking ice in the frozen conflict in Ukraine. Russia and the United States bidding farewell to tits-for-tat. Is this the dawn of a brave new world?

10:49

Syrian Opposition Activist and Her Journalist Daughter Found Dead in Istanbul "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Orouba Barakat, an opponent of the ruling Baath party, and her only child, journalist Halla Barakat, were found dead with stab wounds to their neck.

Orouba Barakat and Halla Barakat were prominent activists against Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad. Credit: Screengrab from social media

Orouba Barakat and Halla Barakat were prominent activists against Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad. Credit: Screengrab from social media

A senior Syrian opposition activist and her daughter were found dead in their apartment in Istanbul.

Orouba Barakat, an opponent of the ruling Baath party since the 1980s, and her only child, journalist Halla Barakat, were found dead in the early hours of this morning with stab wounds to their necks.

Friends raised the alarm after being unable to reach them by telephone. Turkish police then arrived at their apartment in the Uskudar district on the Asian side of Istanbul to find them dead.

...

10:45

People Ignore Facts That Contradict Their False Beliefs "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The more people there are who ignore facts that contradict their beliefs, the likelier a dictatorship will emerge within a given country. Here is how aristocracies, throughout the Ages, have controlled the masses, by taking advantage of this widespread tendency people have, to ignore contrary facts...

10:21

How Long Will India Run After Optics, Rather Than True Freedom For All Its People? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The structures of power that surround the marginalised require them at every step to prove their legitimacy, self worth and even their right to exist.

Vikas Patil and his wife are expected to produce 1,000 bricks a day for which they are credited Rs 600, adjusted against their debt. Representative image credit: Reuters/Jayanta Dey

Vikas Patil and his wife are expected to produce 1,000 bricks a day for which they are credited Rs 600, adjusted against their debt. Representative image credit: Reuters/Jayanta Dey

Apart from its fiery masalas and its functional chappals, Kolhapur evokes images of prosperous sugar farmers and an economy known for its record-setting purchases of Mercedes cars. This is a different Kolhapur.

Vilas Patil lives in Karandewadi, in the Karveer taluka of Kolhapur district. He has three acres of rainfed land, not all of which is cultivable. Even of the good land, he manages to plant only on a portion because he can no longer afford the inputs. In a good monsoon, the land provides rice and ragi enough to feed his family for a part of the year. There is never any surplus to sell in the market. Patil makes ends meet in the employment of a brick merchant. He is bonded by his debt to this brick merchant for many years now. His financial year begins with the sowing season, when the merchant lends him the money to sow his crops. The most recent instalment of this loan was...

09:42

Echoes of WWI: China, the US, and the Next Great War "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

In the early 20th century, the worlds dominant superpower looked warily on the rise of a competitor to its supremacy. The machinations of the British to contain the rise of Germany led inexorably to the First World War. Once again in the early 21st century, the worlds dominant superpower is looking warily on the rise of a competitor. Will the American Empires machinations to contain the rise of China lead to the Third World War? Or is the American/Chinese conflict another engineered conflict for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many? Join James Corbett as he presents "Echoes of World War I" to the Open Mind Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

09:30

Rohingya in Kashmir Fear for Their Families Back Home While Worrying About Deportation "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Rohingya families who were living in Jammu have moved to Khimber in Kashmir, fearing violence against them.

The buildings in Khimber where Rohingya families are living. Credit: Mudasir Ahmed

The buildings in Khimber where Rohingya families are living. Credit: Mudasir Ahmed

Khimber (Jammu and Kashmir): Hassan Sheikh struggled to control his emotions as he talked about the sufferings and harassment faced by Rohingya Muslims in Jammu.

We were given a ten days ultimatum to leave Jammu earlier this month, Sheikh told The Wire. Then, he said, the police raided their shanties in the Bathinda area one evening and whisked away several men on frivolous charges.

...

08:39

Asima Chatterjee, the Scientist Who Did So Much More in a Time of Less "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Let us remember Asima Chatterjee as a world-class chemist in a time when science was a lot less comfortable to do and involved a lot more of getting your hands dirty than it does today.

Asima Chatterjee in 1961. Credit: The Indian Scientists, CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Asima Chatterjee in 1961. Credit: The Indian Scientists, CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Indias most prestigious science award, the annual Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize, was first given in 1958, but it was only in 1960 that its chemical sciences category was introduced. And it just took one year for the prize to go to its first female recipient, Asima Chatterjee, for her achievements in phytomedicine the study of plant extracts for therapy. It was a long wait, about 14 years, before another woman would be awarded the same prize, and an astounding 48 years before a woman would win it for the chemical sciences category again.

As much as the many barriers she broke should be celebrated, Chatterjee was a scientist and the best way of honouring her is to honour her science.

As Asish De has elucidated, being a natural products chemist in those days was no joke. While for centuries plants have been used for their medicinal properties, the biological mechanisms u...

08:30

SC Tells Medical College to Accept Students With Colour Vision Deficiency "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The Medical Council of India as well as the college in question had objected to the admission.

The Supreme Court bench invoked its powers under Article 142 of the constitution. Credit: PTI

The Supreme Court bench invoked its powers under Article 142 of the constitution. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: A Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Amitava Roy and A.M. Khanwilkar has directed that two students suffering from congenital colour vision deficiency (CCVD) be admitted to the MBBS course run by the Tripura Medical College and Dr.B.R. Ambedkar Memorial Teaching Hospital, West Tripura, for the academic year 2018-19, reducing the quota from the year by two seats.

The students, Pranay Kumar Poddar and Sagar Bhowmik, had secured 112 and 140 ranks respectively in the all India entrance test conducted by the Tripura government in the pre-NEET era. Both the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the college had objected to their admission now, as they had not cleared the NEET. The Supreme  Court, however, overruled their objections, saying they need not clear the NEET test to secure their admissions, in view of their ranks earlier.

The bench issued its order on September 12, despite serious objections from the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the college, by invoking its powers under Article 142 of the...

07:59

Damascus Making Progress in the Fight Against DAESH "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

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From September 14 to September 15, Astana held its sixth round of talks on Syria, in which the delegations of the guarantor countries Russia, Turkey and Iran, the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic and the Syrian opposition, as well as the UN Secretary General Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, took part. The United States and Jordan were present as observers.

Following the outcome of the meeting, Russia, Turkey and Iran adopted a Joint Statement and four documents on deescalation zones: the mandate on deployment in the deescalation zones, rules of engagement of military forces, the procedure for managing checkpoints, and the provision for a joint coordinating center. The guarantor countries announced the establishment of four deescalation zones in Syria: in eastern Ghouta near Damascus, in the northern part of the Homs province, in the province of Idlib and in certain parts of the neighboring provinces of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo, as well as in some areas in southern Syria. These are intended to be a temporary measure with an initial validity of six months. A joint Iran-Russian-Turkish coordination centre is being established to coordinate the activities of the control forces in the deescalation zones.

Three of the four zones are currently operational: in the south-west of Syria, in eastern Ghouta and in the Homs area. The participants of the Astana talks stated that the establishment of deescalation zones shall not undermine the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic. At the same time, the guarantor countries have not yet agreed on the distribution of control forces in the deescalation zone in Idlib.

The Syrian government and the opposition are in favor of the establishment of four deescalation zones. President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoan, has noted that Ankara and Moscow have no quarrel over the situation in Syria, nor did they have any disagreements in Astana during the meeting with Iran. However, since September 18, Turkey has been concentrating its forces on the border with the SAR in the Idlib region, sending military contingents that already amount to close to 8,000 service-persons. This included the support of artillery, armored vehicles and helicopters.

According to the Russian and Turkish parts of the representative office of the Russian-Turkish joint commission on the...

07:49

In Bid to Unlock Brexit Talks, Theresa May Sets out Transition Plan "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Mays proposals for such a transition, for meeting Britains financial obligations and for protecting EU citizens rights, fell short of what the EU wanted.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at the Complesso Santa Maria Novella, Florence, Italy September 22, 2017. Credit: Reuters

Britains Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at the Complesso Santa Maria Novella, Florence, Italy September 22, 2017. Credit: Reuters

Florence: Prime Minister Theresa May set out a plan on Friday to retain full access to the EUs single market for two years after Brexit to try to reassure business and reset the tone of stalled negotiations with Brussels.

But her proposals for such a transition, for meeting Britains financial obligations and for protecting EU citizens rights, fell short of what the EU wanted.

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier praised the speech for its constructive spirit but asked for more detail. Another official said it had left him even more concerned.

I...

07:46

Pakistan Anti-Graft Body Freezes Bank Accounts of Nawaz Sharif, Family "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The National Accountability Bureau has already frozen the properties of former finance minister Ishaq Dar for having assets beyond his known sources of income.

Nawaz Sharif. Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

Nawaz Sharif. Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

Lahore: Ousted Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday (September 22) suffered a major setback after the countrys anti-graft body froze the bank accounts and seized properties belonging to him and his family members facing corruption and money laundering charges in the Panama Papers scandal.

Nawaz, 67, stepped down after the Supreme Court disqualified him on July 28 from continuing in his office for dishonesty and ruled that corruption cases be filed against him and his children.

The Accountability Court in Islamabad, which is hearing the corruption cases against the Sharif family, on Friday summoned Sharif, his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Captain (retd) Safdar to appear before it on September 26.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) pasted the summonses and property attachment notices on the Sharifs residence in Raiwind on the outskirts of Lahore.

Sharif, along with his children, is in London to be with his ailing wife Kulsoom Sharif, who is undergoing treatment for throat cancer.

There is speculation in the Pakistani media that the Sharif family may not return to face the NAB corruption cases.

The ruling PML-N party, however, insists that Nawaz would return once his wifes health improves.

We have written to the State Bank of Pakistan (...

06:55

India Using Chilli Spray, Stun Grenades to Stop Rohingya from Entering Country "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Border forces have been authorised to use rude and crude methods to stop any attempts by the Rohingya to cross the India-Bangladesh border.

Rohingya refugees walk on a muddy path after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, in Teknaf, Bangladesh, September 6, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Danish Siddiqui/File photo

Rohingya refugees walk on a muddy path after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, in Teknaf, Bangladesh, September 6, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Danish Siddiqui/File photo

New Delhi: India has stepped up security along its largely porous eastern border with Bangladesh and is using chilli and stun grenades to block the entry of Rohingya Muslims fleeing from violence in their homeland of Myanmar, officials said on Friday.

Border forces in India, which wants to deport around 40,000 Rohingya already living in the country, citing security risks, have been authorised to use rude and crude methods to stop any attempts by...

06:27

Banaras Hindu University Students Protest Administrations Alleged Victim Blaming "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The chief proctor reportedly told students to keep quiet until the prime ministers two-day visit to Varanasi, beginning the day of the protest, was over.

Students protesting at the Banaras Hindu University gate on Friday. Credit: Facebook/Siddhant Mohan

Students protesting at the Banaras Hindu University gate on Friday. Credit: Facebook/Siddhant Mohan

New Delhi: Students from Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Varanasi held a large protest on Friday (September 22) against the university administrations alleged victim shaming after one of them reported an incident of molestation,

A first-year student, who lives in the university hostel, was allegedly molested and grabbed by three bike-borne men just outside the BHU campus at around 6:20 pm on Thursday evening. However, according to students, when she yelled for help, the university guards ignored her. She then went inside to report the matter to her warden and the chief proctor, but they too were less than sympathetic, students say.

When the student was molested last evening at 6, she shouted for help but the guards sitting there did not come forward or chase the bike. She went and complained to her warden and the chief proctor but they began shaming her. They asked her why she was out so late. They told students that the hostel curfew timings will be shifted from 7 pm to 6 pm, a female student at the protest...

05:44

States Under Obligation to Pay Compensation to Victims of Cow Vigilantism, Says SC "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The apex court has also asked states to submit compliance reports based on its previous order on appointing district nodal officers to curb cow-related mob violence.

Television journalists are seen outside the premises of the Supreme Court in New Delhi, India August 22, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Adnan Abidi

Television journalists are seen outside the premises of the Supreme Court in New Delhi, India August 22, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Adnan Abidi

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Saturday (September 22) asked the chief Secretaries of 22 states to file compliance reports in pursuance of its order on September 6 laying down a mechanism to sternly deal with cow vigilante groups, saying nobody can wash off their hands.

The bench added that states were under an obligation to pay compensation to victims of vigilante action, without the need for any judicial order. We do not have to say that. All states are under an obligation to compensate victims of cow vigilante violence. At the same time, law and order has to have primacy and anyone violating it must be dealt with sternly,...

05:30

Are Saffron Groups Bringing Mob Rule to One of Indias Last Peaceful States? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Incidents of religious violence have been on the rise in Uttarakhand since the BJP came to power earlier this year.

A pre-election BJP rally in Uttarakhand. Credit: Twitter/Uttarakhand BJP

A pre-election BJP rally in Uttarakhand. Credit: Twitter/Uttarakhand BJP

On the night of September 8, police in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, picked up two boys and two girls from a central part in the city a little after midnight. The boys were Muslims, the girls Hindus. All four were from Kirtinagar, a town in the Tehri Garhwal district. At the station, the police were informed by the Kirtinagar police that the girls had been reported missing. The girls were returned to Kirtinagar and the boys arrested, though it isnt clear what they were charged with.

According to a report in Amar Ujala, the next day, unnamed Hindu organisations attacked and broke the shops owned by the boys families in Kirtinagar. The report quotes local traders saying they had no involvement in the attack on the shops, and that those who did so were brought in from outside. The police are now deployed in the town and the circle officer has announced that he will be remaining there for the near future.

Since the BJP came to power in Uttarakhand in March, incidents like this are being reported continuously fr...

05:30

The Rise and Rise of Angela Merkel, or How to Succeed in German Politics "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Few thought shed go the distance when she first came to power. That was more than a decade ago.

...

05:15

Pot-Pilgrims and Gods of Himalayan Things "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

With tourism to Parvati Valley on the rise, local communities struggle to cope with the pressures of the new consumerist society.

Parbati valley

The devta puja at Tosh (left), tourists from Europe and Israel flock to the valley (right). Credit: Sumit Mahar

The village square is bustling with activity. Women are seated along the stone wall boundary of the exquisitely wood carved temple. In the centre is a huddle of local men, and emerging from it is a golden umbrella, under it a wooden bust of the local devta or deity, sitting on a palanquin resting on the shoulders of two men. As the sounds of drum beats and gigantic shehnais fill the air, the palanquins dolled up in fineries, sway gently from side to side. Two more palanquins join in and together head to the sacred forest. The deities, whose receptacles these palanquins are, belong to three adjacent villages in Kullus quaint Parvati Valley Tosh, Barsheini and Tahuk. The congregation of gods has been organised in Tosh, tucked away at almost the end of the valley, to seek blessings, and appease the gods who might have been angered or disappointed by the wrongdoings of the community. When tragedy befalls a family or the entire village, the devtas are called upon, to guide the collective conscience of the community.

05:00

The Warming Climate Has Triggered Changes in Kodiak Bears Diets. Heres Why Thats Important "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Climate change is making berries ripen early in Kodiak, Alaska, luring bears away from eating salmon. This shift may not hurt the bears, but could have far-reaching impacts on surrounding forests.

A brown bear snags a sockeye salmon in Alaska. In warm years, red elderberries ripen early and Kodiak bears leave streams full of salmon to eat them. Credit:Jonathan Armstrong, CC BY-ND

A brown bear snags a sockeye salmon in Alaska. In warm years, red elderberries ripen early and Kodiak bears leave streams full of salmon to eat them. Credit:Jonathan Armstrong, CC BY-ND

After several years of studying brown bear ecology on Alaskas Kodiak Island, I grew used to walking up streams into scenes of carnage. Where bears had killed and eaten spawning sockeye salmon, stream beds were littered with fish heads, jaws and whole carcasses, and plants on the stream banks were flattened. But at the peak of the stream spawning run in 2014, I was puzzled to find no bears or salmon parts. Salmon were dying naturally after spawning and piling up in streams, intact.

Ive spent the last three years trying to solve this ecological puzzle. After extensive field and lab work along with researchers from Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, Flathead Lake Biological Station and Oregon State University, we arrived at a fascinating conclusion.

In warm years, another favourite bear food red elderberries ripened early enough to overlap with the salmon season. This forced bears to choose between the foods. Surprisingly, almost all bears opted for berries over salmon. This choice has likely altered food webs, and will become increasingly common with expected climate warming.

Our team was struck by the bears seemingly counterintuitive switch. Why would bears stop eating a high-protein food loaded with energy? Quickly, though, we realized that our work was an example of a more global concern: What happens when climate change alters natures schedule?

05:00

The Ghost of Demonetisation Still Haunts Marathwadas Farmers "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The cashless future that demonetisation promised never came, and many in rural Marathwada scoff at the idea.

Farmers say the push towards a cashless economy is city-centric, ignoring the majority living in the villages. Credit: Shrirang Swarge/PARI

Farmers say the push towards a cashless economy is city-centric, ignoring the majority living in the villages. Credit: Shrirang Swarge/PARI

Aurangabad: Ten months after currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 were scrapped on November 8 last year, the ghost of demonetisation continues to haunt Deepak Badavne.

In early November, Badavne had harvested 31 quintals of cotton from his 2.5 acre farm. He expected good returns on it. The trader arranged for the truck and loaded the cotton from my house, he says. But just then, the demonetisation-induced cash crunch hit the farm sector. The payment for Deepaks cotton didnt materialise. The trader is now saying he will pay by Diwali [by mid-October 2017], he says.

The trader owes Badavne Rs 178,483 for his cotton yield. A cheque he received for this amount on March 24 bounced thrice.  I am not the only one, says Deepak, 31, sitting under a tree in Karajgaon village on the outskirts of Aurangabad city in Marathwada, Maharashtra. There are others in my village who have been similarly duped.

Badavne, who lives in a joint family and has two children, has gath...

04:30

India Needs a Credible Deterrence Strategy for Cyberspace "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Indias cyber capabilities and intent to act on them are enough to outscore potential political victories they may secure by successfully mounting a cyber attack or unwarranted border provocation. 

To date, there is no national level organisation in the Indian military which is tasked with cyber defence. Credit: Reuters

To date, there is no national level organisation in the Indian military which is tasked with cyber defence. Credit: Reuters

Cyber warfare no longer remains a figment of science fiction but a proximate reality that states need to grapple with when framing geo-strategic policy. The quagmire lies in reigning in the use of this sphere, which has rapidly proliferated into becoming an essential part of human existence today. The main barrier to cohesive normative regulation has been posed first, by its global ubiquity, which has prevented the development of universal consensus from states with differing economic and political ambitions and second by its inherent nature, as a non-physical conception, which has made the task of applying traditional principles of international law a challenge.

The failure of the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts (UN-GGE) earlier this year to agree upon a universal set of norms to govern the use of cyberspace is therefore, disappointing, given the initial progress made by the same body in recent y...

04:30

Heres a New Word for That Feeling When Travel Makes Everything New "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

A tourist generally has an eye for the things that, through repetitive familiarity, have become almost invisible to the resident.

A road in Connemara. Credit: Flickr

A road in Connemara. Credit: Flickr/CC BY 2.0

On a double-decker bus from Dublin airport to Drumcondra early one June morning, a young lad stretched out on the back seat and started to rap. What he lacked in talent he made up for in gusto. I was with a dozen of my students who were travelling from DePaul University in Chicago on a study abroad trip and this was their very first impression of Ireland. I cringed and tried to ignore the atonal reveller. Their response, it turned out, was at odds with mine. Thats American rap! one of them chortled. Why is he rapping Kendrick? The oddity of the situation entertained them, and they discussed it with a fervour typically reserved for matters of greater significance.

One thing Ive noticed over the years of bringing my students to Ireland my homeland is that they pay rapt attention to the little things. This heightened and delighted attention to the ordinary, which manifests in someone new to a place, does not seem to have a name. So I have given it one: allokataplixis (from the Greek allo meaning other, and katapliktikomeaning wonder). In Modern Greek katapliktiko and the related wordkatataplixie can be used to register astonishment. Admittedly, in Ancient Greek the family of words surrounding kataplxis sometimes signified terror and panic. It is, however, the note of pure amazement and fascination present i...

Friday, 22 September

23:23

Fact Check: Updating Cold War Myths About Thailand "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

September 23, 2017 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - Many honest, busy analysts outside established media circles in the United States and Europe are plagued by mythologies stemming from once pseudo-truths they simply lack the time or energy to dig into and finally correct.


Among them are enduring myths about the Southeast Asian state of Thailand and its relationship with the United States. These myths stem from its role during the Vietnam War and are now not only outdated, they are destructive to the truth to a point where they aid rather than impede the very special interests upon Wall Street and in Washington many of these analysts seek to expose and confront.

US-Thai Relations During the Vietnam War  

During the Vietnam War, Thailand hosted US forces on its territory. It contributed a number of its own troops in supporting roles throughout Southeast Asia and conducted its own military campaign domestically against heavily armed Communist militants. It is easy to conclude that Thailand was an eager ally then, and easy to see why many analysts assume this is still the case today.

However, in reality, the history of Thailand is of the only nation in Southeast Asia to avoid Western colonisation. It is also the story of a nation that survived the World Wars by expertly aligning itself amid greater powers, neither significantly contributing to nor suffering from contests of powers between more powerful nations.

During the Second World War, Thailand tenuously aligned with the Japanese. It played no significant role in a war the Japanese ultimately lost. Upon Japan's defeat, Thailand would once again balance its relationships evenly among its Asian neighbours and the Western victors of the war.

The Vietnam War was likewise a regional war started by foreign powers. It devastated not only Vietnam itself, but neighbouring Laos and Cambodia as well. Despite escaping the worst of the fighting, Thailand lost over a thousand soldiers and police amid security operations within its own borders. It fought allegedly Communist fighters, based primarily in Udon Thani, coincidentally where the US maintained its intelligen...

23:23

Fact Check: Updating Cold War Myths About Thailand "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

September 23, 2017 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - Many honest, busy analysts outside established media circles in the United States and Europe are plagued by mythologies stemming from once pseudo-truths they simply lack the time or energy to dig into and finally correct.


Among them are enduring myths about the Southeast Asian state of Thailand and its relationship with the United States. These myths stem from its role during the Vietnam War and are now not only outdated, they are destructive to the truth to a point where they aid rather than impede the very special interests upon Wall Street and in Washington many of these analysts seek to expose and confront.

US-Thai Relations During the Vietnam War  

During the Vietnam War, Thailand hosted US forces on its territory. It contributed a number of its own troops in supporting roles throughout Southeast Asia and conducted its own military campaign domestically against heavily armed Communist militants. It is easy to conclude that Thailand was an eager ally then, and easy to see why many analysts assume this is still the case today.

However, in reality, the history of Thailand is of the only nation in Southeast Asia to avoid Western colonisation. It is also the story of a nation that survived the World Wars by expertly aligning itself amid greater powers, neither significantly contributing to nor suffering from contests of powers between more powerful nations.

During the Second World War, Thailand tenuously aligned with the Japanese. It played no significant role in a war the Japanese ultimately lost. Upon Japan's defeat, Thailand would once again balance its relationships evenly among its Asian neighbours and the Western victors of the war.

The Vietnam War was likewise a regional war started by foreign powers. It devastated not only Vietnam itself, but neighbouring Laos and Cambodia as well. Despite escaping the worst of the fighting, Thailand lost over a thousand soldiers and police amid security operations within its own borders. It fought allegedly Communist fighters, based primarily in Udon Thani, coincidentally where the US maintained its intelligen...

16:48

The Deadly Rocket Scare Redux: North Koreas Role in the Arms Game "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

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North Korea is once again the big, bad, boogey man of Asia, a convenient villain Washington will use to fuel a spanking new arms race. If all-out war does not follow Donald Trumps insane policies aimed at Pyongyang, something miraculous will have to take place soon. The American hegemony turns once again to the Far East, in a redux of the 2000 North Korean sanctions negotiations.

Ill wager that very few people reading this remember the 1999 missile tests over Japan that North Korea used to negotiate sanctions reductions. Yes, its true and not fake news, as the New York Times reported from 2000, South Korea Plans to Begin Rocket Program. What, you expected ingenuity and creativity from the Trump administration and the US Congress? Not a chance of that, I say. The elites that run the globalist narrative never divert from what works, I tell you. If young and old Americans were fearful Japan would go up in a mushroom cloud in 1999, then the new generation of willing idiots are all the more capable of apathetic abandon. Trump and Co. are just doing Korea or Vietnam II, since those ventures proved financially profitable for the military industrialists and the economy overall. Do you feel like youve been duped yet? Okay, read on.

Once again, the New York Times is the soap box from which the hegemons preach to the waiting and fearful masses about the Pyongyang boogeyman, only this time its Kim Jong-un, and not his venerable supreme leader father Kim Jong-il whos center stage in the Armageddon drama. But the headlines this time around are far more creative. A story this week entitled The Rare, Potent Fuel Powering North Koreas Weapons, brings to mind 007 and James Bond, super-duper-secret rockets from Dr. No or Austin Powers as Dr. Evil, I can no longer discern. Once again American journalists take advantage of the fact most people dont know beans about much of anything anymore. Let me frame the latest bullshit from Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Juniors venerable newspaper. The rare and potent fuel it took not one but two award winning journalists to invent is known as UDMH, or Unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine. Now I am fairly sure that William J. Broad and David E. Sanger both know UDMH is about as rare in the world of rockets as pointy nose cones or ignition sequences. But the North Koreans and the story sound much more ominous and deadly with spy thriller lingo deployed. Jus...

15:41

SC Opens Door For Legal Challenges to Appointments Lacking Proper Credentials in Pollution Boards "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The court has set aside an NGT order on the matter saying the tribunal doesnt have jurisdiction, but made it clear that future legal challenges are welcome.

A chimney is reflected in a puddle polluted with chemicals at an industrial area of Surat November 25, 2009. Credit: Reuters/Arko Datta/Files

A chimney is reflected in a puddle polluted with chemicals at an industrial area of Surat November 25, 2009. Credit: Reuters/Arko Datta/Files

New Delhi: In a significant judgment, the Supreme Court bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta today set aside the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order directing state governments to reconsider appointments to the State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) and laying down guidelines for such appointments. According to the apex court, the NGT does not have the jurisdiction to make this decision.

However, the bench agreed with the NGT that such appointments should not be made casu...

15:36

Jan Gan Man Ki Baat, Episode 123: Cyber Crimes and JNU "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Vinod Dua discusses the problem of cyber crimes and how Jawaharlal Nehru University has changed.

The post Jan Gan Man Ki Baat, Episode 123: Cyber Crimes and JNU appeared first on The Wire.

15:31

How Effective Is Forest Certification? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

There isnt enough evidence to say if certified tropical forests are better than, the same as, or worse than conventionally managed tropical forests when it comes to people.

FSC certification is not only expanding rapidly, but is also one of the most respected forest certification schemes out there. Credit: Reuters

FSC certification is not only expanding rapidly, but is also one of the most respected forest certification schemes out there. Credit: Reuters

Tropical timber has earned a bad reputation.

When we think of timber from lush, tropical forests, it conjures up images of valuable old-growth trees pillaged by logging companies and illegal timber mafias, ignoring the plight of wildlife and local communities.

But tropical timber does not have to be bad, some experts say.

Tropical wood forms an integral part of many of our daily-use products, like furniture, toilet paper, flooring, construction, and packaging material. And this important resource can be harvested from forests responsibly and sustainably, experts say, ensuring that we meet our future wood needs while conserving forests.

When you speak about tropical forests with anybody, my mom or whoever, its always corruption, its always blood, its always stealing, its always dirty. Nobody wants tropical timber anymore, Paolo Cerutti, a senior scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) who has been working on sustainable forest management in sub-Saharan Africa, told Mongabay. But that is bad because we can harvest the forest in a way that is clean and proper and sustainable.

It is this need for clean timber that gave birth to the...

15:28

SC Directives on Police Reforms Rejected, Ignored or Diluted by States "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Eleven years after order, none of the states have conformed to the guidelines, says a Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative report.

The CHRI also blasts the central government, saying that it has been a

The CHRI also blasts the central government, saying that it has been a laggard in every way when it comes to police reforms. Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: Eleven years ago, on this day, the Supreme Court had issued directions to the Centre and state governments to transform their police forces into professional, accountable and efficient service units. However, a recent report shows that compliance remains far from satisfactory with none of the governments enacting laws to adhere to the guidelines.

In fact, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, a non-profit organisation working in the areas of access to justice (police and prison reforms) and access to information for over two decades, has pointed out that while 18 states enacted new police acts and 11 issued executive orders, ostensibly to comply w...

15:24

Trumps Principled Realism Signals Renewed American Imperial Offensive "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Trump-America is American imperial power with the gloves off, the mask of soft power removed.

US President Donald Trump addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 19, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

US President Donald Trump addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 19, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

US President Trumps address to the United Nations General Assembly signaled little fundamental change in the USs imperial stance towards the world, despite the America First rhetoric derided by establishment critics as isolationist during and after the 2016 election campaign, including...

15:00

Fact Check: Updating Cold War Myths About Thailand "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

52342342342

Many honest, busy analysts outside established media circles in the United States and Europe are plagued by mythologies stemming from once pseudo-truths they simply lack the time or energy to dig into and finally correct.

Among them are enduring myths about the Southeast Asian state of Thailand and its relationship with the United States. These myths stem from its role during the Vietnam War and are now not only outdated, they are destructive to the truth to a point where they aid rather than impede the very special interests upon Wall Street and in Washington many of these analysts seek to expose and confront.

US-Thai Relations During the Vietnam War  

During the Vietnam War, Thailand hosted US forces on its territory. It contributed a number of its own troops in supporting roles throughout Southeast Asia and conducted its own military campaign domestically against heavily armed Communist militants. It is easy to conclude that Thailand was an eager ally then, and easy to see why many analysts assume this is still the case today.

However, in reality, the history of Thailand is of the only nation in Southeast Asia to avoid Western colonisation. It is also the story of a nation that survived the World Wars by expertly aligning itself amid greater powers, neither significantly contributing to nor suffering from contests of powers between more powerful nations.

During the Second World War, Thailand tenuously aligned with the Japanese. It played no significant role in a war the Japanese ultimately lost. Upon Japans defeat, Thailand would once again balance its relationships evenly among its Asian neighbours and the Western victors of the war.

The Vietnam War was likewise a regional war started by foreign powers. It devastated not only Vietnam itself, but neighbouring Laos and Cambodia as well. Despite escaping the worst of the fighting, Thailand lost over a thousand soldiers and police amid security operations within its own borders. It fought allegedly Communist fighters, based primarily in Udon Thani, coincidentally where the US maintained its intelligence apparatus.

...

15:00

Its Good That TRAI Is Slashing Interconnection Charges, But It Should Do It Faster "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The regulatory body should terminate interconnection usage charges completely by 2019 instead of 2020, encouraging operators to turn the new disruption into an opportunity to meet Digital India goals.

Telecommunication towers are pictured through hanging flower pots at a residential building in Kolkata December 11, 2012. Credit: Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri/Files

Telecommunication towers are pictured through hanging flower pots at a residential building in Kolkata December 11, 2012. Credit: Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri/Files

The new regulation on interconnection usage charges (IUCs), slashing termination rates by 57%, will have far-reaching consequences on the telecom sector. It will help in bringing down tariff, improving quality of services and in replacing inefficient 2G networks with the latest 4G technology that will help in taking the benefits of the digital economy to the masses. A high IUC disincentivises operators from investing in new technologies, as they earn good revenue just by receiving calls o...

14:30

Has the PMLN Transcended Nawaz Sharif? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

In Pakistans political culture, the ghosts of vanquished leaders prove to be more potent than their live versions.

Credit: Reuters

Just weeks after the historic ouster of Nawaz Sharif from the Prime Ministers Office through a court decision, it already looks like a non-event. The new prime minister was calmly elected and governance became business as usual in no time. There had been no party defections, no noisy internecine fights and no experts revised their assessments of the prospects of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) in the coming general elections. The anxieties about the impending dangers to democracy and the live broadcast hysteria about the system being derailed once again have dissipated too.

So has the PMLN transcended Nawaz Sharif?

The party was a test-tube baby born in the Pakistani establishments political laboratory. It was invested with the best of genes from the rightist ideologues and the rising Punjabi civil business class. It was designed to serve as the antidote to the leftist populist politics of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). And it did serve the purpose. But then it refused to limit its existence to that purpose alone: in the process, it got its own personality.

Sharifs person stood to symbolise the interests of a particular Punjabi class. He was progressive in his role as he wanted those interest...

14:19

Gold Imports: How a GST Loophole is Triggering a Game of Whack-a-Mole "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The lower cost of gold through an unintended loophole triggered increased imports from South Korea. But banning this will only unravel the point of a free-trade agreement.

Credit: Reuters

Credit: Reuters

Editors note: Gold imports from South Korea surged to $339 million between July 1, 2017, and August 3, 2017. In the same period last year, gold imports from the country were only $70.5 million. 

So this story is worth a tell.

India has had this major problem with gold imports. So they introduce a 10% import duty on gold. But then, India also has free trade agreements (FTA) with some countries notably, South Korea. Where they make some refinements to gold, and then export it everywhere.

A free trade agreement means no customs duty. But you cant have zero import duty from South Korea, and then 10% from everywhere else, because then everyone in India will simply import gold from South Korea.

So, India had to do something. What it did was to introduce a 12.5% excise duty on gold. When you import something that has an excise duty there is a countervailing duty (CVD) that applies even if you have no customs duty. This is simple if...

13:50

As Speculation Mounts Over NDTV Takeover, Heres a Look at Top Suitor Ajay Singh "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

 SpiceJet boss Ajay Singh, a long-time supporter of the BJP, is a man whose industry and political connections have crisscrossed more than once.

While NDTV has officially denied speculation regarding a possible change of ownership, it has over the last few months gone head-to-head with various government agencies over alleged corporate governance issues. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: SpiceJet boss Ajay Singh, a politically-connected entrepreneur who has worked for and closely supported the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the last two decades, is reportedly considering buying a majority stake in NDTV, an Indian Express report stated on Friday.

The media report comes on the heels of week-long speculation over whether ownership of NDTV which in the last few months has gone head-to-head with vari...

12:54

Alleged Police Encounter in Haryanas Nuh Is Part of Larger Pattern, Finds Fact-Finding Commission "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

A team from the Citizens Against Hate collective has documented 11 other alleged police encounters in the region.

The fact-finding committee with Munfaid's father. Courtesy: Citizens Against Hate

The fact-finding committee with Munfaids father. Courtesy: Citizens Against Hate

New Delhi: A fact-finding team looking into the death of 30-year-old Munfaid in an alleged police encounter has not just said that the police is trying to cover up the details of the case, but also that as many as 11 police encounter cases with 15 victims, all Muslim men have been identified in the area since 2010. Munfaid was killed on September 16.

Munfaid had been accused in a rape case and was frequently called by the police to do some work for them, promising to dismiss the case in return, his family has said. On the night before his death, he reportedly told his father and father-in-law that the police had asked him to come Rewari to meet them for some work. His family encouraged him to go, they told the fact-finding team from the Citizens Against Hate collective, hoping the police would stop harassing them. Munfaid mentioned the names of four Crime Investigation Agency (CIA) officers he was going to meet Vikrant, Shakti Singh, Satish and Siddharth. The next day, the family was told that Munfaid had been killed.

According to the team, residents of village Rozkemeo said that Munfaid wasnt alone when he was killed he was accompanied by three friends, who saw him get shot by the police and then fled the scene fearing for their own lives. They have not given...

12:45

Theresa May's European Policy "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The British Prime Minister Theresa May is set to make a historic speech on the post-Exit relationship between the UK and EU. Of all the places to make such an important and profound speech the choice of Italy, home to one of the most powerful (and deeply corrupted) Christian religions in human history, alongside its peculiar relationship and history with Mussolini's Fascists and the organised crime syndicate of the Mafia is a flamboyant if not very strange and disturbing choice. It was also strange regarding the surprise announcement from 10 Downing Street (during the tussle over the Foreign Secretary's piece in the Daily Telegraph preceded the day before by the Parsons Green terror attack...

12:15

Brute Isolation: Trump and the Art of Unraveling the Iran Deal "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Contrary to a barrage of spin, the P5+1 meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to assess implementation of the Iran nuclear deal did not go especially well, as diplomats confirmed to Asia Times.

11:47

Thousands Rally in Philippines, Warn of Duterte Dictatorship "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Protesters burn a effigy with a skull face during a National Day of Protest outside the presidential palace in metro Manila, Philippines September 21, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Romeo Ranoco

Protesters burn a effigy with a skull face during a National Day of Protest outside the presidential palace in metro Manila, Philippines September 21, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Romeo Ranoco

Manila:  Thousands of Filipinos rallied on Thursday to denounce Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and warn of what they called an emerging dictatorship, in a major show of dissent against the controversial but hugely popular leader.

Politicians, indigenous people, priests, businessmen, and left-wing activists held marches and church masses accusing Duterte of authoritarianism and protesting at policies including a ferocious war on drugs that has killed thousands.

Signs saying Stop The Killings and No To Martial Rule reflected fears that Duterte would one day deliver on his threat to declare nationwide military rule like that imposed by late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

The rallies marked the 45th anniversary of the start of that era, remembered by many Filipinos as brutal and oppressive.

Effigies of Duterte were burned, including one which bore both his face and that of late Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

A protester with a toy gun played dead on the...

11:45

Trump"s UN Speech: the Swamp"s Wine in an "America First!" Bottle "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

In his maiden speech to the United Nations General Assembly, President Donald Trump invoked the terms sovereign and sovereignty 21 times. In a manner unimaginable coming from any other recent occupant of the White House, the President committed the United States to the principle of national sovereignty and to the truth that the nation-state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition. More, Trump rightly pointed out that these pertain not just to the US and the safeguarding of American sovereignty but to all countries...

11:29

Episode 320 Echoes of WWI: China, the US, and the Next Great War "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

[audio mp3="https://www.corbettreport.com/mp3/episode320-lq.mp3"][/audio]In the early 20th century, the worlds dominant superpower looked warily on the rise of a competitor to its supremacy. The machinations of the British to contain the rise of Germany led inexorably to the First World War. Once again in the early 21st century, the worlds dominant superpower is looking warily on the rise of a competitor. Will the American Empires machinations to contain the rise of China lead to the Third World War? Or is the American/Chinese conflict another engineered conflict for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many?

11:17

Suing Citizens, Tech Terror, Foolish Fluoride New World Next Week "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

This week on the New World Next Week: the government sues citizens for asking for information; PM May recruits Big Tech in extremist content purge; and yet another study finds fluoride linked to lower IQ in children.

11:15

America Can Never Be Trusted! "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Time and again throughout its history, America breached treaties and other agreements proving it doesnt negotiate in good faith. Just the opposite!

11:07

The Great Leaders Limits Are Now Drowning out His Governments Strengths "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Opposition parties and leaders may or may not be able to cobble together a coherent counter-narrative, but citizens are beginning to take note of the abuse of public confidence and poll promises.

Narendra Modi

The paucity of talent is no longer made up by the prime ministers rhetorical prowess or his unquestionable dedication to Bharat Mata. Credit: http://www.pmindia.gov.in/

A reader is unhappy with the prime ministers remarks at the dedication of the Sardar Sarovar Dam on Sunday. The dismayed reader writes a letter to the editor (The Tribune, September 20): The remark was vitriolic and not in harmony with the celebratory occasion Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as the head of the largest democracy, should forsake the detestable job of a low-level party hatchet man. For the record, the prime minister had menacingly remarked that he had access to the kacha-chitta of all those who were opposed to the dam. News reports also noted that the prime minister pointedly did not mention Nehru, even though it was Nehru who had laid the dams foundation stone.

Not long ago, there was a time when such cultivated pettiness would have been music to many ears. No longer. Now, it is beginning to jar. There was a time when the country was in need of a catharsis. May 2014 happened. For a while, very many people found themselves dazzled especi...

10:45

Russia Concerned Over US Violations of INF Treaty "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Russian Foreign Minister has met his US counterpart, Rex Tillerson, twice in New York at the UN General Assembly. The two countries are at odds over an array of issues but the possible violations of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) is a matter of special concern. According to Lavrov, We have suspicions on at least three fronts that the Americans are creating weapons systems which violate or could violate the treaty obligations. The minister also emphasized that Moscow wanted the treaty to be in force provided the US observed its provisions.

10:17

Two Suspects Released by UK Police in Parsons Green Probe "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Passengers wait to for a train at Parson's Green Underground station after it reopened following an explosion on a rush hour train yesterday morning, in London, Britain, September 16, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Peter Nicholls

Passengers wait to for a train at Parsons Green Underground station after it reopened following an explosion on a rush hour train yesterday morning, in London, Britain, September 16, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Peter Nicholls

British police said they have released two men arrested as part of the investigation into last weeks Tube attack in Parsons Green, London, which injured 30 people.

A 21-year-old man arrested in Hounslow on September 16th and a 48-year-old man arrested in Newport on September 20th were released by the police with no further action, the police said in a statement on late Thursday. http://bit.ly/2hnqiem

We have four males in custody and searches are continuing at four addresses. Detectives are carrying out extensive inquiries to determine the full facts behind the attack, the police said.

A home-made bomb went off on September 15th during the morning rush hour on a packed underground Tube train at Parsons Green station, sending flames through the carriage, althou...

10:15

Disruptors Get the Carrot and Incumbents the Stick as TRAI Terminates Interconnection Charges "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

While arguments over methodologies and calculations will find its way to the courts, the telecom regulator believes that symmetry in tariffs will bring about symmetry in traffic.

Airtel, Vodafone and Idea have a lot to lose as a result of the TRAIs recent decision. Credit: PTI

Airtel, Vodafone and Idea have a lot to lose as a result of the TRAIs recent decision to reduce domestic termination charges. Credit: PTI

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) this week reduced the domestic termination charges payable by services providers from 14 paise per minute to six paise, effective from next month. The regulator also announced that it will get rid of termination charges altogether, starting from January 1, 2020.

The move is unsurprising. Termination charges have been viewed as a relic of the old order, ill-suited to modern networks when calls can be terminated over data. The regulator for this reason had vowed to review and slash down the charges aiming to not just level the playing field but propel it forward, forcing incumbents to migrate towards next generation ne...

10:14

In South Korea, Daily Stresses Outweigh North Korea Missile Worries "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Students pray during an early-morning prayer session at the Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary (PUTS) in Seoul, South Korea, September 12, 2017. Picture taken on September 12, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji

Students pray during an early-morning prayer session at the Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary (PUTS) in Seoul, South Korea, September 12, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji

Seoul: Soon after North Korea tested its sixth and largest nuclear bomb earlier this month, You Jae-youn, a 32-year-old South Korean office worker, swiftly put the news behind her to focus on more immediate worries.

We have more than enough to concern ourselves with in our everyday lives. Personally, I worry more about how much its going to cost me to put food on the table (than North Korea), said You, from Sejong city in c...

10:10

Is the Indian Media Failing to Perform a Necessary Activist Role? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Can journalism and activism usually seen in contradiction to each other overlap without undermining the objectivity of the journalist?

Gauri protest

Protest march in Bangalore for Gauri Lankesh on September 12. Credit: The Wire

The assassination of Gauri Lankesh, editor of the Kannada weekly Lankesh Patrike, on September 5, sparked unprecedented protests among journalists across India. Hundreds gathered at Delhis Press Club to express outrage over her murder. Many expressed surprise that such large numbers of mediapersons (rarely known for such gestures of dissent) showed up that day. A rare expression of solidarity and anger indeed. Some present on the occasion even emphasised the need to take the protest forward, to make it something more than a one-off. The conversations gestured towards a changed reality, one even those who have so far been reluctant to take cognisance of, were forced to recognise.

No doubt, reporters working with small media networks and away from Delhis media glare are more vulnerable than the well-connected journalists in the capital. For instance, earlier this week, 28-year-old Santanu Bhowmik, employed with local cable TV netwo...

10:09

Catalan Leader Presses on With Banned Vote on Secession From Spain "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Protesters carry Esteladas, Catalan separatist flags and Basque flags, during a rally in favour of a referendum on independence from Spain for the autonomous community of Catalonia, in the Basque city of Bilbao, Spain September 9, 2017. Credit: Reuters

Protesters carry Esteladas, Catalan separatist flags and Basque flags, during a rally in favour of a referendum on independence from Spain for the autonomous community of Catalonia, in the Basque city of Bilbao, Spain, September 9, 2017. Credit: Reuters

Madrid/Barcelo...

09:50

BJP, TDP Back Arya Vysya Communitys Battle Against Kancha Ilaiahs Book "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

TDP MP T.G. Venkatesh addressed a press conference against the author and said that he should be hanged publicly.

Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd (left), Post-Hindu India by Shepherd. Credit: Facebook, Sage publications

Hyderabad: A recent Telugu translation of a chapter from Post-Hindu India, a book in English written by prominent Dalit and backward caste voice Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, first published in 2009, has created a huge controversy. There have been protests, police and court cases, anonymous death threats and a split among the free speech support groups. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has officially condemned the author and the book, while a parliamentarian of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) from the Vysya community has sought a change in the laws of the country so the author can be hanged publicly.

Shepherd, who is director at the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy at the Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad, writes in Samajika Smugglurlu Komatollu (Vysyas as Social Smugglers) that the Vysya community, though numerically small in population, has appropriated a huge share of economic resources and that their businesses, ranging from money lending to private enterprises, are exploitative of the lower castes.

The community is up in arms, arguing that it was a non-violent, law-abiding and productive group, contributing to the d...

09:38

Public-Spiritedness as a Way of Putting Fraternity Back Into Development "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Public-spiritedness does not always require self-sacrifice or deep ethical thinking, though ethics, of course, can help.

A homeless boy holds biscuits that he received as alms as he takes shelter from rain in front of a fast food shop in Mumbai November 11, 2009. Credit: Reuters/Arko Datta

A homeless boy holds biscuits that he received as alms as he takes shelter from rain in front of a fast food shop in Mumbai November 11, 2009. Credit: Reuters/Arko Datta

An excerpt from Jean Drze new book, Sense and Solidarity: Jholawala Economics for Everyone, published by Permanent Black in September 2017.

Word has it that most people are self-interested. At least that is what an unsuspecting reader of mainstream economic theory might conclude. The literature makes constant reference to rational self-interest as the prime motivation of economic agents. Of course, there is also a specialised literature on other possible motives, such as compassion and commitment. And even in the mainstream...

09:38

False to Say Yoga Isnt Political: American Scholar Whose Course at Nalanda University Was Cancelled "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

I think my discussion of yoga is threatening to the RSS-linked administration, Patricia Sauthoff has said in an interview.

Nalanda University. Credit: Nalanda University Blog

Nalanda University. Credit: Nalanda University Blog

New Delhi: Patricia Sauthoff, an American scholar at the School of Oriental and Asian Studied, London, who taught a course titled History and Politics of Yoga at Nalanda University, which has been discontinued, has said the decision was taken because her discussion of yoga was threatening to the RSS-linked administration.

In an interview with Caravan magazine, Sauthoff has said that while she was first sent a letter offering to extend her contract at the university on June 13, the next week she received another letter rescinding the offer, and she was never given a reason for the withdrawal.

Both the universitys new chancellor, Vijay Bhatkar, and vice chancellor, Sunaina Singh, have close relationships with the RSS. I imagine they felt my course would threaten the RSS-approved narrative of the history of yoga. I also think that looking at their politics within the...

09:30

CIC Pulls up NCW for Not Acting on Alleged Sexual Harassment Charges by Staff "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Information commissioner M. Sridhar Acharyulu held that the National Commission for Women had failed in the discharge of its responsibility towards its women employees.

Information commissioner M. Sridhar Acharyulu criticised the NCW for its handing of a woman employees sexual harassment case. Credit: PTI/Representational Image

Information commissioner M. Sridhar Acharyulu criticised the NCW for its handing of a woman employees sexual harassment case. Credit: PTI/Representational Image

The Central Information Commission (CIC) on Thursday pulled up the National Commission for Women (NCW) for failing in its duty as a responsible employer and its role defined by Section 10 of the National Commission for Women Act, 1990 by not acting on a complaint of sexual harassment filed by an employee from a minority community against a senior officer. The Act states that the NCW should investigate and examine all matters relating to the safeguards provided for women under the constitution and other law and take up the cases of violation of the provisions of the constitution and of other laws relating to women with the appropriate authorities. It has also come to light that another woman employee had also filed a sexual harassment complaint against the same officer.

In his final order, information commissioner M. Sridhar Acharyulu...

09:30

Argentinas Macri Almost Certain to Run for Re-Election, Says Adviser "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Argentina's President Mauricio Macri waits for U.S. Vice President Mike Pence at the Olivos Presidential Residence in Buenos Aires, Argentina August 15, 2017. Credit: Reuters

Argentinas President Mauricio Macri waits for US Vice President Mike Pence at the Olivos Presidential Residence in Buenos Aires, Argentina August 15, 2017. Credit: Reuters

Buenos Aires: Argentine President Mauricio Macri is almost certain to run for re-election in 2019, his top campaign adviser said on Thursday, even as he acknowledged that the leaders market-friendly reforms were unpopular among many poor Argentines.

Jaime Duran Barba, an Ecuadorian who has run campaigns across Latin America and is considered the political guru behind Macris surprise win in 2015, told Reuters on Thursday he did not see a scenario where Macri was not a candidate.

The most likely is for...

08:46

US Companies to Invest in Afghanistans Rare Earth Minerals "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

 

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during the U.N. General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 21, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

US President Donald Trump meets with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during the UN General Assembly in New York, US, September 21, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

US President Donald Trump and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani agreed at a meeting in New York on Thursday that US companies could help develop Afghanistans rare earth minerals, the White House said in a statement.

They agreed that such initiatives would help American companies develop materials critical to national security while growing Afghanistans economy and creating new jobs in both countries, therefore defraying some of the costs of US assistance as Afghans become more self-reliant, the White House said.

The two leaders also expressed their commitment to fully implement Trumps new South Asia strategy to defeat terrorism, the statement said.

(Reuters)

The post US Companies to Invest in Afghanistans Rare Earth Minerals appeared first on...

07:39

The EU Needs A Three-Child Policy And China Should Pay For It! "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

So long as China can succeed in preserving the EUs consumer market strength, Beijing wont have much to worry about its long-term strategy for Eurasia.

The post The EU Needs A Three-Child Policy And China Should Pay For It! appeared first on OrientalReview.org.

07:00

Will an Independent Kurdistan be Created? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

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Despite the fact that the United Nations, LAS, the United States of America, Russia and the countries sharing borders with Turkey Syria and Iran, as well as all the Arab States, not to mention the central government of Baghdad, have protested in advance, the parliament of Iraqi Kurdistan has approved the holding on September 25 of this year of a referendum on the independence of this region, which has the status of broad autonomy within the country, as legally enshrined in the Iraqi Constitution.

65 out of 68 deputies have spoken in favor of the plebiscite. The authorities of the autonomous region are thus unilaterally willing to carry out the decision to secede from Iraq, despite the strong negative position of Baghdad, which considers the vote on this issue illegal. Prime Minister of Iraq, Haider al-Abadi, has not ruled out the possibility of a military intervention in the event that the planned referendum would lead to an escalation of violence, and has stressed that he will not refuse to enter into negotiations with Erbil. For Iraq, the withdrawal of IK from the Iraqi state could mean not only the further disintegration of the country by its spliting into Sunni and Shiite strongholds, but also the loss of part of the territories occupied by the Kurds in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. This primarily concerns the areas near Mosul and Kirkuk and the Kirkuk oil field, where up to 40% of all Iraqi oil is mined.

The independence of the Kurdish autonomy in Iraq could also lead to invasion by the Turkish armed forces, which have for many years been fighting with Kurdish armed groups within the country as represented by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Kurdish Peoples Protection Units in Syria. The Turkish leader has already...

05:30

Asias Regional Tax Wars Indicate That Its Time to Review Tax Incentives "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Asian countries must take steps to rationalise tax competition and build cooperation on tax matters, both at the regional and the global level.

Global tax

Almost 70% of world trade occurs via multinational corporations MNCs, many with subsidiaries in tax havens. Credit: Reuters

Revelations like the Panama Papers, Bahamas leaks and the recent Azerbaijani Laundromat scandal have seen countries adopting global transparency standards endorsed by the OECD and G20. Asian countries like Indonesia, India, Hong Kong, Singapore and China have agreed to bilaterally share financial information of taxpayers in the beginning of 2018 to combat corporate tax avoidance.

Understanding the problem

Substantial domestic revenue is lost by countries globally as a result of corporate tax dodging practices. Multinational corporations (MNCs) use aggressive tax minimisation strategies to shift their profits to a low tax jurisdiction. This loss of domestic revenues has severe implications on endeavours to safeguard human rights, macroeconomic policies, public institutions and the socio-polit...

05:30

Indias Unique Enigma of High Growth and Stunted Children "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Diane Coffey and Dean Spears Where India Goes: Abandoned Toilets, Stunted Development and the Costs of Caste is a path breaking addition to the literature on child malnutrition and development policy in India.

India malnutrition

In the foreword to the book, Nobel laureate Angus Deaton says that Indian women will probably take 250 years to catch up with British women in terms of their height even if we assume that the latter will grow no taller than what they are today. Credit: Reuters

The history of global health has been marked with a dramatic turnaround starting from around the mid to late 19th century. This period witnessed an unprecedented decline in death rate and a steady increase in the life expectancy of populations across Western Europe and North America. Conventional wisdom for a long time held that the improvement in public health indicators came through because of rising incomes and consequently, rising nutritional levels. However, a number of scholars now agree that the real reason for the rapid advance in the conditions of human life in this period was made possible by the sanitation movement that provided particularly in the growing urban centres of industrialising Europe sewers and clean drinking water to the population. The state played a very important role in the provisioning of these public goods as the markets typically failed to deliver, say for instance universal vaccination or urban sewage systems, owing to what is known as market failures in neoclassical economics. Gradually, the long, arduous and killing phase of infectious diseas...

05:00

The Enduring Powers of Mosuls Rich and Diverse Cultural History "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

As Mosul rebuilds, its past is a reminder that Islam is not a rigid rulebook of regulations and prohibitions, but a complex religion that has often embraced many traditions.

A 1932 photograph showing the minaret of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri, Mosul. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

A 1932 photograph showing the minaret of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri, Mosul. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

The Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, built nearly a millennium ago and one of Iraqs most revered religious sites, was destroyed when the ISIS detonated explosives inside it in June of this year.

Founded in the 12th century by one of Islams most famous rulers, Nur al-Din ibn Zangi, in the medieval period the mosque was considered the ultimate in beauty and excellence. It was famous for its soaring, 150-foot minaret, the tallest in Iraq and nicknamed al-Hadba or the Hunchback because it leaned to one side, like an Islamic Tower of Pisa. Its destruction was a terrible blow to the people of Mosul, and for the rest of the world.

I am a scholar of Islamic art, and my research reveals that such acts of deliberate, ideologically based destruction are unusual in Islamic history. Although today Mosul is famous outside of Iraq primarily as a site of conflict, its rich and diverse history forms an important legacy.

What was lost in Mosul?

Mosul was founded in ancient times, on the outskirts of the older Assyrian city of Nineveh. The precise date of the citys foundation is unknown, but at least from the medieval era, it was known a...

05:00

The Decivilising Process of ISIS "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

For ISIS militants, unlike Socrates, only an unexamined life is worth living.

The tragic fragility of the human condition is now hostage of a new phenomenon which is the nihilistic pursuit of death by the young militants of the Islamic State. Credit: Reuters

The tragic fragility of the human condition is now hostage of a new phenomenon which is the nihilistic pursuit of death by the young militants of the Islamic State. Credit: Reuters

For centuries, the dignity of mankind was evaluated by the disinterested quest for truth, the creation of beauty and the realisation of excellence. Yet, as humanity lurches back towards fanaticism and barbarity, we would do well to remember that we are all children of share values, either Biblical, Islamic, Christian or Buddhist, African or American which have shaped our traditions and modernities. And yet, today, in the second decade of the 21st century, we are caught in a spiderweb of meaninglessness and thoughtlessness, which has crossed the threshold of our democracies. So the question to ask is: in a world where the only values are money and celebrity, can such a society continue to survive and function and produce meaningful citizens?

It may be that the future of the democratic societies, if there is one, will depend less on financial banking and the pursuit of hedonistic individualism. Unfortunately, the universality of the internet has not promoted the universality of critical reasoning and Descartes was certainly wrong to think that Good sense is the most evenly shared thing in the world. For it is not enough to have a mind, one should know how to apply it. From...

04:30

Why Has the BRICS Failed to be an Effective Force? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The promise of BRICS was that it would usher in a new approach to development. But after meeting annually for the last nine years theres no sign that the old order has been challenged.

Brazilian President Temer, Russian President Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, South Africas President Zuma and Indian Prime Minister Modi. Credit: Reuters/Kenzaburo Fukuhara

Brazilian President Temer, Russian President Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, South Africas President Zuma and Indian Prime Minister Modi. Credit: Reuters/Kenzaburo Fukuhara

The formation of the BRICS the bloc made of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa was supposed to be the harbinger for a new approach to global economic governance. The leading emerging markets and developing countries were becoming major players in the global economy. And they expected to play a commensurate governance role.

BRICS leaders have now been meeting annually for nine years. They recently met for the ninth BRICS Summit in Xiamen, China. They have positioned themselves as a force for transforming global economic governance so that its more responsive to the concerns of developing economies. They are seeking a more just and equitable global economy.

The question is: how effective have they been in reforming global economic governance and the fairness of the global economy?

The honest answer is that as a group, BRICS hasnt been an effective force at all. This is for a number of reasons.

Whats not happened

The following examples illustrate the point.

At least formally the G20, which consists of 20 major economies including the five in BRICs, has supplanted the G7, made up of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US, as the premier forum for global economic governance. But the agenda in these meetings is still largely set by the most powerful countries which now include China but not the other BRICS.

The IMF and World Bank have both changed their voting arrangements to give a louder voice to developing economies and emerging economies. This has particularly benefited China...

04:30

Why Are So Many Young Africans Risking Their Lives to Flee Their Homes? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Will the G20s new Compact with Africa succeed in combatting poverty and climate change and deter the exodus of African economic migrants?

Young African migrants seek opportunities abroad as the World Bank projects that the worlds extreme poor will be increasingly concentrated in Africa. Credit: Ilaria Vechi/IPS

Young African migrants seek opportunities abroad as the World Bank projects that the worlds extreme poor will be increasingly concentrated in Africa. Credit: Ilaria Vechi/IPS

Sydney and Kuala Lumpur: Not a single month has passed without dreadful disasters triggering desperate migrants to seek refuge in Europe. According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), at least 2,247 people have died or are missing after trying to enter Europe via Spain, Italy or Greece in the first half of this year. Last year, 5,096 deaths were recorded.

The majority including economic migrants, victims of people smugglers, and so on were young Africans aged between 17 and 25. The former head of the British mission in Benghazi (Libya) claimed in April that as many as a million more were already on their way to Libya, and then Europe, from across Africa.

Why flee Africa?

Why are so many young Africans trying to leave the continent of their birth? Why are they risking their lives to flee Africa?

Part of the answer lies in the failur...

04:20

FAKE NEWS IS VIOLENCE! "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The most violent element in the society is ignorance

                                                                Emma Goldman

 

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We encourage people to use their imagination to make sense out of this sentence.

Please be reminded that past and current administrations use various means to deceive people.

They spread fake news and lies to cover up what is real.

GNP, GDP, infrastructure, and promises of politicians with regard to development are also smoke screen to the hide real situations. But these are less effective compare to killings.

Duterte administration use fake news massively to encourage violence. Illegal drugs are one among serious problems that should be addressed; but it is intentionally blown out of proportion. The exaggerated presentation of drug problem justifies killings. Since Dutertes assumption to office, blood and dead bodies of allegedly drug users an...

02:02

Sarawak not selling power to Peninsular Malaysia Abg Jo "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The state government will not sell electricity from Bakun dam to Peninsular Malaysia, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg. He said he had decided that the electricity from Bakun be used for the state and partly sold to West Kalimantan as what was being done at present. As far as the energy []

Sabah opposition leader Lajim out of bankruptcy, but loses party presidency for now "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

After a week of being declared bankrupt, Sabah opposition leader Datuk Lajim Ukin has cleared his outstanding debt of RM185,000 and the status has been lifted as of today. Lajim was also forced to vacate the position of Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah president, and can only be reinstated after the partys annual general meeting next []

02:02

Harapan confident can win four more parliamentary seats "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Pakatan Harapan Sarawak is confident of capturing four more Barisan Nasional (BN) seats this coming general election (GE14). Its chairman Chong Chieng Jen said the four seats would be additional to the six existing seats held by the opposition. We dont want to reveal which four seats yet but it will be in the rural []

02:02

Allegation that Sabah churches prefer opposition is destructive criticism "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The Sabah BN Backbenchers Club (BNBBC) has dismissed an allegation that churches prefer the opposition pact to BN, saying such an opinion is extremely destructive. Speaking to FMT, Sabah BNBBC chairman Abdul Rahim Ismail said the statement implied that BN is unwelcoming of Christians, hence the churches support for the opposition. This cannot be further []

02:02

Tun Dr Mahathir to give talk on Pakatan Harapan programme this Sunday "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Pakatan Harapan chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is expected to attend and give a talk at the Pakatan Harapan Sarawak programme this Sunday from 7pm to 10.30pm. Pakatan Harapan Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen said the programme has been scheduled at the carpark of Everrise supermarket at BDC here. This will be Tun Mahathirs first []

02:02

Academic challenges bishops claim church is non-partisan "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

An academician with Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM), Kamarul Zaman Yusoff, has challenged a claim by Sabah Council of Churches (SCC) president Bishop Melter Jiki Tais that the church is non-partisan. If the church is non-partisan, why did the church and its senior leaders involve themselves directly in the launching of books by top leaders of []

02:02

Petra Jaya Hospital contractor gets LAD for project delay "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Public Works Department (PWD) has imposed Liquidated Ascertained Damages (LAD) on the contractor of Petra Jaya Hospital at a rate of RM89,506.85 per day starting from June 10 this year until completion of the project. The construction of Petra Jaya Hospital was supposed to be completed by June 9 this year as per contract. However, []

02:02

Church leaders must be non-partisan or risk dividing people "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The Catholic Church has always been non-partisan when it comes to politics but this does not mean the leaders cannot talk about current developments, said a Catholic prelate. Keningau Diocese Bishop Cornelius Piong told FMT the churchs clergymen act as the leaders who unite the faithful under their guardianship. This is why, in my opinion, []

02:02

Malaysia Airlines says open to options with Boeing despite recent MoU "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Malaysia Airlines Bhd said today that its recent memorandum of understanding (MoU) to acquire 16 new jets from American manufacturer Boeing is still optional. The national carrier also explained that funding for aircraft are planned on a sale-and-operating leaseback or simple operational lease, following media reports yesterday that the company will not be using its []

02:02

Sarawak Museum to close until 2020 for restoration "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The Sarawak Museum, the oldest in the Borneo, will close for about 30 months for restoration works to its building and century-old artefacts, Chief Minister Datuk Abang Johari Openg announced today. It will be closed from October this year and will be open to public in early 2020, he told reporters at a press conference. []

02:01

Minimum wage hike will backfire on job market, say experts "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

In light of concerns repeatedly expressed by youth today, that their salaries arent enough to cope with the rising cost of living, some quarters have suggested raising the starting salary for graduates as well as the minimum wage. Industry and economic experts, however, say this would actually backfire on the job market as some businesses []

G25 questions PAS promise Islamic laws wont affect non-Muslims "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

A member of the G25 group of prominent Malays today questioned PAS assurances that the enforcement of Islamic laws would not affect non-Muslims, following the partys objection to the Better Beer Festival 2017. Johan Ariffin, who is the former deputy director of the Sabah Foundation, pointed out that when promoting PAS president Abdul Hadi Awangs []

02:01

Bersih starts campaign for advance voting reforms "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 today started a campaign to push for Sabahans and Sarawakians who are working in peninsular Malaysia to be included as part of the advance voting system introduced in the 13th general elections. Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah said that the cost involved for East Malaysians travelling back on Election Day, []

02:01

Malaysian churches urged to help crisis-struck Rohingya "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

An umbrella group representing Malaysias Protestant churches urged all Christians today to contribute financially to help the Muslim majority Rohingya. Council of Churches of Malaysia (CCM) general secretary Reverend Herman Shastri also expressed support for Putrajayas assistance and collaboration with the United Nations for the Rohingya who have been forcefully displaced from their Myanmar homeland. []

02:01

Bersih pushes advanced voting for Sabah, Sarawak voters "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 has urged the authorities to implement advanced voting for East Malaysian voters living in the peninsula and West Malaysians living in Sabah and Sarawak. Speaking at a press conference at the launch of Bersihs campaign today, chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah said there were over 150,000 registered voters from Sabah and Sarawak []

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