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Thursday, 22 February

18:22

Assam Up in Arms as Army Chief Wades Into Political Territory "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

During a seminar, Rawat hinted at a possible link between the expansion of AIUDF in Assam to a planned immigration  taking place because of proxy war by Pakistan and China.

Army Chief General Bipin Rawat. Credit: Reuters

That statement did not come from a political leader taking the line of jati mati bheti (home, hearth and base) of the indigenous people of Assam during the run-up to the 2...

18:16

Hungary New NGO Bill Aims to Stop Soros "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

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The Hungarian government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban has presented a series of proposed laws that would address the operations of foreign-funded NGOs which support immigration. The new legislative proposals have come under heavy attack from organizations such as the UN as well as from the George Soros-funded Human Rights Watch. Its important to look more closely at what the proposed legislation would do in contrast to what many media are charging. The issue of human refugee flows and how EU nations are allowed to deal with this is the defining issue that will shape the very future notion of Europe. Some actors in this play including the billionaire hedge fund speculator Soros are apparently not being fully honest about their agenda.

On February 13 the Hungarian Parliament received drafts of three bills, popularly referred to in Hungarian media as the Stop Soros bills. They aim at groups working on asylum and migration issues in Hungary. The bills have drawn predictable howls of protest from not only a leading NGO financed by Soros, but also from the EU Commission in Brussels, and from the United Nations. First to the actual content of the proposed laws.

Actual Details

There are three separate bills:

  • one concerns the licensing of the migration NGO organizations;
  • the second concerns a special tax on foreign income received by them,
  • the third concerns a possible restraining order banning access to areas near the border or in certain cases, the entire country.

Under the new proposals the Hungarian government would require mandatory registration by the NGO to receive a special license from the Minister of the Interior as an organization dealing with migration issues. NGOs that refuse could be subject to a court determination that could formally dissolve organizations without this special license. To get a license the NGO must submit its books to a state tax audit to show funding sources.

The bills targetpro-immigration NGOs that:

  • attempt to influence the legal practices of authorities and courts,...

17:32

Jan Gan Man Ki Baat Episode 200: AAP vs Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Vinod Dua discusses Delhi chief secretary Anshu Prakashs allegations of assault by Aam Aadmi Party MLAs at chief minister Arvind Kejriwals residence during a meeting held late night on February 19.

The post Jan Gan Man Ki Baat Episode 200: AAP vs Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash appeared first on The Wire.

15:35

Play Glorifying Gandhi Killer Godse Triggers Controversy at BHU "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The students objected to a play performed on campus justifying the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

The entrance of Banaras Hindu University. Credit: File photo

New Delhi: Several students of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) have written a letter to the police to complain against the organisers of the Sanskriti 2018 cultural festival held on the campus between February 19 and 21, claiming that a play which was performed glorified Mahatma Gandhis assassin Nathuram Godse.

According to a report in the Indian Express, students alleged that the play, which is based on the controversial Marathi play Me Nathuram Godse Boltoy (I, Nathuram Godse Speaking), portrayed Mahatma Gandhi in poor light, held him responsible for Partition, and justified his assassination.

How did a programme, which hurts the countrys constitutional values be allowed? This is indicative of a larger conspiracy. Sentenced to death by the courts, terrorist Godses glorifying portrayal amounts to hurting the unity and pride of India and this is nothing less than deshdroh. We demand an inquiry into this, the protesting students said in the complaint.

...

14:45

Chief Minister Parrikar Presents Rs 17,123 Crore Goa Budget "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

With a stress on education and job creation, the allocation for capital account expenditure has been increased by 10.70% against the revised estimate for the last year, which stood at Rs 3,808 crore.

Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar. Credit: PTI

Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar. Credit: PTI

Panaji: Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar today presented in the state assembly a Rs 17,123-crore budget for 2018-19, an increase of 6.84% over the ongoing fiscal, with a stress on education and job creation.

Parrikar, who was undergoing treatment at a Mumbai hospital for a pancreatic ailment, returned here this afternoon.

The chief minister was present in the assembly complex for half an hour, during which he chaired a meeting of his cabinet, tabled the budget and witnessed the passage of vote-on-account for five months.

The budget session was curtailed to four days owing to Parrikars ill-health.

In his speech in the House which lasted only five minutes, Parrikar said he could not present an elaborate budget because of his ill-health but would make a supplementary statement before the end of the current financial year.

The gross total budgetary expenditure is Rs 17,123.28 crore for the coming fiscal as against Rs 16,027.01 crore for 2017-18, an increase of 6.84%.

The total estimated expenditure on revenue account is Rs 11,795.40 crore, while that on capital account is Rs 4,218.25 crore.

...

14:42

Jaspal Atwal No Longer in Home Ministrys Blacklist of Sikh Extremists "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Names of nearly 150 wanted terrorists and their associates were removed from the blacklist over the last few years.

Jaspal Atwal. Credit: ANI

New Delhi: Jaspal Atwal, a convicted Khalistani terrorist, whose invitation to a dinner in honour of visiting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was rescinded following a controversy, no longer figures in the Home Ministrys blacklist of Sikh extremists, officials said.

From time-to-time, the central government reviews the blacklist of Sikh extremists taking into account intelligence inputs and activities of the persons concerned, a home ministry official said.

Names of nearly 150 wanted terrorists and their associates were removed from the blacklist in the last few years, the official said.

Atwals name no longer figures in the current blacklist, the official said.

The review of the blacklist is always done in consultation with the Punjab government and central security agencies.

Most of the persons whose names have been deleted from the wanted list are believed to be currently based in countries like Pakistan, US, Canada, Norway, France and Germany.

After the government removes them from the blacklist, they may move freely around the world and even return to India.

As Atwals name was taken off, he arrived in India and subsequently got the invitation to the dinner being hosted in honour of Trudeau by the High Commissioner of Canada Nadir Patel, the official said. It is not...

14:19

Red Flags Over Nirav Modis Firm Shines Spotlight on Rampant Import Over-Invoicing in Diamond Trade "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Indias diamond imports have seen a four-fold jump during April-November 2017. This may have been inflated by at least $4 billion to send black money outside the country.

Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: Indias export revival could well prove to be a bubble. As it turns out, the monthly export figures for much-talked-about gems and jewellery sector were inflated. The reason? Diamond traders may have blatantly over-invoiced imports to launder black money.

Since imported diamonds are re-exported after cutting and polishing the only value addition done in the country the inflated import price automatically reflects in export value.

Indias diamond imports have seen a fourfold jump during April-November 2017, according to the commerce ministry. According to one industry estimate, the value of diamond imported during the first eight months of the fiscal may have been inflated by at least $4 billion to send black money outside the country.

An internal note of the finance ministry, prepared in the wake of the over Rs 11,000 crore scam in the Punjab National Bank, too has raised the suspicion of diamond import being misused as conduit for money laundering by pointing to related party transactions at inflated prices and high trade receivables of three Nirav Modi-promoted companies.

...

14:16

Indias Ranking in Global Corruption Perception Index Slides to 81 from 79 "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The 2017 index also singled out India as one of the worst offenders in the Asia-Pacific region.

A silent protest against corruption scandal in New Delhi. Credit: Reuters/Parivartan Sharma

New Delhi: India has been ranked 81st in the global corruption perception index for 2017, released by Transparency International, which named the country among the worst offenders in terms of graft and press freedom in the Asia Pacific region.

The index, which ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, placed India at 81. In 2016, India was at 79 among 176 countries.

The index uses a scale of zero to 100, where zero is hi...

14:12

Trudeau Will Take Back an Important Lesson: Sikhs in Canada and Punjab Dont Think Alike "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

If separatism is anathema for a majority of Sikhs in Punjab today, the situation is very different in  Canada, where politicians are caught in the throes of a resurgent movement for a separate Sikh state.

Justin Trudeau and his family at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Credit: Twitter/Justin Trudeau

Justin Trudeau and his family at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Credit: Twitter/Justin Trudeau

Chandigarh: Sikh politics has always revolved around identity issues, and political parties have worked on these issues in different ways, often with success and sometimes not. The movement for a separate Sikh state Khalistan was one such expression, but the decade-long violent phase of terrorism which resulted in pain, loss and suffering has caused the average Sikh in Punjab to turn her back on it.

This is not to say that the ideology has been vanquished along with the terrorists. On the contrary, remnants of it are very much alive in present-day Punjab, but receive little traction from the public whenever people attempt to exploit it politically. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), misguided by a clutch of closet hardliners in its ran...

14:11

Special Public Prosecutor Anand Grover Asks SC to Relieve Him From 2G Case "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Decision to do so comes on the back of two recent government notifications that were aimed at removing him from the appeals process.

Credit: PTI

Credit: PTI

New Delhi: Senior advocate Anand Grover, who was appointed by the Supreme Court as the special public prosecutor (SPP) for the 2G spectrum scam cases in 2014, has filed an application with the apex court asking it to relieve him of his responsibilities.

The Wire has learnt that Grovers application, which was filed and registered on Thursday, is likely to be mentioned and taken up by the court in the next two weeks. His decision to do so comes on the back of two notifications in the last two weeks by the Modi government that were aimed at removing him from the appeals process.

In his application, a copy of which is with The Wire, Grover indicates that there is not much of a role for him as special public prosecutor after the recent appointment of additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta also as SPP.

On February 8, 2018, a government notification appointed Mehta as the SPP for conducting prosecution, appeals/revision or other proceedings arising out of the cases related to 2G spectrum investigated by the Delhi Spec...

14:00

Canadas Troubling Indifference to the 1985 Air India Bombing "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

It was Canadas worst mass murder, yet it is barely remembered in the country.

A commemorative plaque presented to the citizens of Bantry, Ireland by the government of Canada for the residents kindness and compassion to the families of the victims of Air India Flight 182. Credit: Wikipedia

Rattan Singh Kalsi kept photos of all his grown children in his room at the seniors home, but one of them towered over the rest.

The photo anchored a kind of shrine to his daughter, Indira, who had died more than 30 years earlier, just as she was entering adulthood.

Indira had grown up in Canada and Rattan had bought her a plane ticket so she could see India, the country their family had come from, and spend time with the relatives she might not get to see once the responsibilities of work and adult life set in.

Naturally, Rattan, who had been middle-aged at the time of Indiras death, was heartbroken when she was killed in the bombing of the plane. He never recovered. He was not responsible for what had happened, but he blamed himself and lived in quiet anguish for the rest of his life.

Not long before he died, he shared his story. I was there to record it, and it was unbearably sad for both of us.

Rattan had left behind a request to scatter his and his wifes ashes (she had died some yea...

13:48

Political Breakthrough Possible on the Korean Peninsula "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

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On February 10 of the current year, the reception of the delegation of DPRK (the most representative one since the Korean War) by the South Korean President, as well as the subsequent negotiations of the parties became one of the most significant events of regional and world policy of the last few years.

Future historians will only marginally report the cause for it to be a certain event from the sphere of show business entitled The Olympic Games. For the process launched in Seoul may well lead to (under favorable circumstances) the healing of one of the oldest and dangerous wounds on the body of modern global politics.

This process definitely far outweighs the professional sports show, which is today taking on the role of gladiatorial combats during the declining period of the Roman Empire.

However, the positive developments on the Korean Peninsula can only be expected if the main external participants remain sidelined until the North and South Koreans reach some sort of resolution on various issues, which together form one common Korean problem.

It is obvious that such a (hypothetical) resolution should more or less satisfy the above mentioned external participants. These include the United States, China, Russia, and Japan, which together with both the Korean countries constitute the format of Six-Party Talks that were interrupted in 2008.

This seems to be an ideal continuation of the process started on February 10 in Seoul, which certainly will not be implemented as some of the external participants are very much interested in their own vision of the situation on the Korean Peninsula and precisely will not step aside.

First of all, this holds true for the United States and Japan, for whom (and it is the most important moment), not the Korean problem but the North Korean missile and nuclear program is relevant. It should be noted that for such an approach to the situation on the Korean Peninsula, they have formal grounds in the form of the UN Security Council resolutions, which are undoubtedly violated by the DPRK.

At the same time, Washington and Tokyo do not take account of the fact that North Korean missile and nuclear program itself is a consequence of the unsettled Korean problem. The initial joint position of the US and Japan is as follows...

13:47

Despite Hate Speech, Allahabad HC Backs Adityanaths Decision Not to Prosecute Himself "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The case pertains to the UP chief ministers alleged involvement in the 2007 Gorakhpur communal riots.

UP chief minister Adityanath. Credit: PTI

UP chief minister Adityanath. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: The Allahabad high court on Thursday dismissed a plea to overturn the state governments decision to deny sanction to prosecute the Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Adityanath, in a 2007 hate speech case. The HC order will be yet another shot in the arm for the Hindutva firebrand who says he has restored the rule of law in the state even as he withdrew as many as 20,000 cases against political leaders, including himself.

There were two prayers in front of the HC, both of which were rejected. We had sought a fresh independent enquiry by an agency other than crime branch, CID, which was handling the case until now. Secondly, we questioned the state governments decision to refuse sanction to the CB-CID to prosecute Adityanath and four other BJP leaders. The court said that it found no material irregularity committed by the state in investigation as well as while refusing to grant sanction for prosecution, Syed Farman Naqvi, counsel for the petitioners Asad Ha...

13:45

Kamal Haasan Says His Party Will Be Free of Games of Caste and Religion "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Kamal Hassan. Credit: PTI

Madurai: Launching his political party, actor Kamal Haasan said yesterday his outfit was committed to politics free from games of caste and religion and would focus on good governance.

In his launch address, Haasan touched upon key issues concerning Tamil Nadu including the Cauvery river water dispute, alleged corruption and vote for money.

Haasan christened his party Makkal Needhi Mayyam and unfurled its flag that symbolises the strength of unity.

On the symbolism behind the flag, he said: If you look closer you can find the map of south India map in it, the six hands refer to six southern states The star at the centre refers to the people

The partys name roughly translates to Centre for Peoples Justice.

Outlining his partys policies, he said his outfit was committed to quality education for all sections of people and good governance sans corruptio...

13:42

Brexit Is UKs Chance to Get Rid of the Illogical Ban on Human Cloning "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

There is a common misunderstanding that human cloning is the replication of people. Rather, cloning is the replication of gene sets, analogous to when people produce twins.

File 20180221 132647 xfzym0.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Credit: Barandash Karandashich

According to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, human cloning should be illegal because everyone has the right to respect for his or her physical and mental integrity. The UKs laws have to be in line with this but only until Brexit. Fifteen years to the month since the death of Dolly the sheep in Edinburgh, its time to take this opportunity to reconsider the law.

The relevant UK legislation is the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (2008). Section three stipulates that it is a crime to place a human embryo in a woman unless it was created by the fertilisation of an egg from the ovaries of a woman by sperm from the testes of a man. Since human cloning creates embryos in a different way replacing the nucleus of a human egg cell by DNA from a somatic cell, for instance it is outlawed.

The EU charters concerns about peoples mental and physical integrity are not the only supposed justifications for criminalising human cloning. The European parliamentary resolution on human cloning from 1997 says it must be outlawed for being:

contrary to the principle of equality of human beings as it permits a eugenic and racist selection of the human race, it offends against human dignity [And] each individual has a right to his or her own genetic identity

There is a common misunderstanding that human cloning is the replication of people. This goes to the heart of why it is seen as abhorrent. Rather, cloning is the replication of gene sets. It is analogous to when people produce twins, where the fertilised egg splits to create two embryos with the same, or virtually the same, DNA.

...

13:30

Delhi HC Vacates Gag Order Against The Caravan on 2011 Cover Story on Arindam Chaudhuri "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The court order a major success for those who believe in good, bold journalism, the magazine has said.

Arindam Chaudhuri. Source: YouTube Screengrab

Arindam Chaudhuri. Source: YouTube Screengrab

New Delhi: The Delhi high court has vacated a gag order against The Caravan magazine in a Rs 50-crore civil defamation suit filed by Arindam Chaudhuri, founder of the Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM), against an article published in 2011.

Terming the order passed by Justice Manmohan on February 16 as a major victory towards upholding freedom of press, The Caravan said in a statement that it was publishing the article again on Thursday after seven years.

Chaudhari had filed the case after the magazine published an article titled Sweet smell of success How Ar...

13:01

Exam Question Asks Students to Explain Why HRD Minister Was Wrong on Darwin "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

It is to the credit of those who framed the question that they believed Satyapal Singhs comment was so wrong that calling it out was worth two marks only.

Will you pass the exam, minister? Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Not looking pleased, minister? Credit: Wikimedia Commons

At an examination conducted recently at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune, students were confronted with an unexpected question. For two marks, it asked the following:

The minister of state for Human Resource Development [MHRD] in India recently claimed that the Darwinian theory of evolution is wrong because Nobody, including our ancestors, in writing or orally, have said they saw an ape turning into a man. What is wrong with this argument? NOTE: This question is NOT asking why biologists believe evolution to be correct. It is asking why the quoted argument cannot be correct in terms of disproving the Darwinian theory of evolution.

The minister in question is Satyapal Singh, and the comment he made was to an audience in Maharashtra on January 20. Singh followed it up with a threat to remove the study of evolution from school curricula and a proposal that th...

13:00

Deluge of Support For Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash From Associations of Public Servants "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Most associations termed the alleged assault as an attack by the political executive on the bureaucracy in a bid to intimidate it.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal (left), Delhi chief secretary Anshu Prakash. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: While the three main associations representing civil servants in Delhi the IAS Association, DANICS Association and DASS Association had come out in support of chief secretary Anshu Prakash following an alleged assault on him at chief minister Arvind Kejriwals residence, there has been an outpouring of support from various other associations of public servants across the country, with almost all of them terming it as political intimidation of bureaucracy.

In a message, the Indian Forest Service Association (Central Unit) has termed the incident of February 19 as highly disturbing, outrageous, shocking and highly deplorable, while expressing its solidarity with the officer and seeking immediate arrest of all the perpetrators and conspirators...

13:00

Demographic time bomb ticks down on Singapore "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

A fast aging population threatens to stall the economy, test social cohesion and strain national finances


It is being called a demographic time bomb. The impact of a shrinking workforce coupled with a greying population will be among the toughest economic and social challenges Singapore faces in the decades ahead.

Already the oldest society in Southeast Asia measured by median age, the wealthy city-state is now seeking coping strategies for the economic and social impacts to come of a rapidly aging population.

While aging populations affect much of the Asia-Pacific, the expected decline in Singapores working-age population will be among the regions most acute.

Indeed, this year marks the first time in modern Singapores history when the share of the population that is 65 years old and over will match that of those under 15 years old, according to a UOB report published last year.

UOB economist Francis Tan predicted in the research that demographic change will stall the city-states economic growth and raise substantially future healthcare costs.

Other data suggests that Singapores percentage of seniors will reach 27% by 2030, while the percentage of juniors under 15 will decrease to 10.8%, leading in a worst-case scenario to a nearly 1:1 dependency ratio, with one working-age adult supporting a child or elderly person.

Read the full story at Asia Times.

Nile Bowie...

12:54

North Korea to Send Delegation to Meet South Koreas Moon at Olympics Closing Ceremony "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The delegation to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in will be led by Kim Yong Chol, vice-chairman of North Koreas Party Central Committee.

People wearing traditional costumes pose with Olympic rings and 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Paralympics mascot Bandabi in front of the main train station in Gangneung in South Korea on February 19. Credit: Reuters/Murad Sezer

Seoul: North Korea will send anothe...

12:50

Drought-Hit Cape Town Dreads Day Zero When Taps Will Run Dry "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

A tough water-saving regime and the generosity of farmers have helped push back the dreaded Day Zero.

A plant grows between cracked mud in a normally submerged area at Theewaterskloof dam near Cape Town on January 21. Credit: Reuters/Mike Hutchings/Files

Cape Town: A tough water-saving regime and the generosity of farmers have given South Africas main tourist hub welcome respite from a severe drought and helped push back a dreaded Day Zero when Cape Towns taps are expected to run dry.

On Tuesday, the city of four million moved its estimate for &...

12:45

Russia Resists Western Bid to Condemn Iran Over Yemen Arms at UN "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The US has been lobbying for months for Iran to be held accountable at the UN. A resolution needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes by Russia, China, the US, France or Britain to pass.

Houthi militants take part in a parade held to mark 1,000 days of the Saudi-led military intervention in the Yemeni conflict in Sanaa, Yemen, on December 19, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Khaled Abdullah/Files

United Nations: The United Nations Security Council should not condemn Iran in a resolution to renew sanctions on Yemen,...

12:31

With a No-Fly List and Promotion Ban, China a Step Ahead of India in Penalising Bank Loan Defaulters "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Chinas Supreme Peoples Court has blacklisted 6.73 million bank defaulters and restricted them from travelling by plane, getting promoted or applying for loans and credit cards.

The Supreme Peoples Courts deterrent has already proven to be effective with nearly 1 million defaulters voluntarily fulfilling the courts orders. Credit: Reuters

Even as India is reeling as a result of various bank frauds coming to light and the loan defaulters packing their bags and bidding goodbye to their problems by fleeing abroad such as Nirav Modi for the alleged Rs 11,400-crore involving Punjab National Bank (PNB) and Vijay Malla of Kingfisher fame China has taken strict measures to ensure the same doesnt happen.

In a massive crackdown, Chinas Supreme Peoples Court (SPC) has blacklisted 6.73 million bank defaulters and restricted them from travelling by plane, applying for loans and credit cards or getting promoted, reported Reuters.

...

12:18

ABVP Members Allegedly Disrupt Event in Delhis Satyawati College; Abuse, Harass Teachers, Students "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

ABVP members were reportedly unhappy with one of the panelists, Kawalpreet Kaur, a member of the All India Students Association.

Satyawati College. Credit: College website

Satyawati College. Credit: College website

New Delhi: Students and teachers at Delhi Universitys Satyawati College have alleged that an event organised on campus was disrupted by students affiliated to the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the student wing of the RSS, on Thursday (February 22). The event, which included a panel discussion on womens safety, was organised by She the People TV, Google and the Family Counselling Centre of Satyawati College.

One of the speakers on the panel was Kawalpreet Kaur, a student at DUs Faculty of Law and a member of the All India Students Association (AISA), the student wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist). &...

11:45

Israel and Iran: Inching Toward Armed Conflict "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

A conflict between Israel and pro-Iranian forces would douse the light at the end of the tunnel so recently kindled as a result of the diplomatic initiatives in Syria by Russia, Turkey, and Iran. Once the shooting starts, all that work will go down the drain.

11:15

Mueller's Comic Book Indictment: How to Prosecute a Great Big Nothingburger "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

We have always heard that a determined government prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich, and now we know it's true. After 38 years in the prosecution racket, Robert Mueller just made his biggest score ever---that is, he nailed a great big Nothingburger.

11:09

US Students Protest Over Gun Laws, Trump Considers Arming Teachers "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

US President Donald Trump speaks next Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Carson Abt, as the president hosts a listening session with high school students and teachers to discuss school safety at the White House in Washington, US, February 21, 2018. Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

Washington/Tallahassee: Students in the US galvanised by the deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school confronted lawmakers on Wednesday with demands to restrict sales of assault rifles, while President Donald Tr...

10:45

When Will Congress Investigate All Interference in Elections? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

When will Mueller and the several congressional committees that are investigating the Russians move on to the topic of Israel and Saudi Arabia to find out what really effective foreign influencing operations looks like?

10:15

America"s Election Meddling Would Indeed Justify Other Countries Retaliating In Kind "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

There is still no clear proof that the Russian government interfered with the 2016 US elections in any meaningful way. Which is weird, because Russia and every other country on earth would be perfectly justified in doing so.

10:04

Floating Island: New Home for Rohingya Refugees Emerges in Bay of Bengal "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said putting Rohingya on the low-lying island would be a temporary arrangement to ease congestion at the camps in Coxs Bazar.

A dredging machine is seen near the Vashan Char, previously known as Thengar Char island, in the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh February 14, 2018. Credit: Reuters/Stringer

Dhaka/Bhasan Char/Coxs Bazar: Bangladesh is racing to turn an uninhabited and muddy Bay of Bengal island into home for 100,000 Rohingya Muslims who have fled a military crackdown in Myanmar, amid...

10:01

Public Sector Banks Dont Have a Monopoly Over Fraud "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Punjab National Bank is in the exalted company of some of the most sophisticated private banks worldwide. So to contend that privatisation will usher in an era of clean, problem-free banking is the height of ignorance.

In 1995, Barings, a British investment bank that had been around for over 200 years, was brought down by a rogue trader in Singapore, Nick Leeson. The bank had suffered a loss of $1.3 billion in unauthorised trades. In 2008, Societe Generale, a leading French bank, lost over $5 billion in unauthorised positions taken by a trader. In 2011, a rogue trader caused losses of over $2 billion at UBS, the Swiss bank.

What was common to these banks? Well, private ownership. The amount of $1.77 billion involved in the fraud at the government-owned Punjab National Bank (PNB) is a large one and a cause for concern. However, in exposing itself to the fraud, PNB is in the exalted company of some of the most sophisticated private banks worldwide. Like road accidents or plane crashes, frauds at banks are unavoidable. They are a cost of doing business, so to speak. The key is to ensure that losses inflicted by fraud stay within reasonable bounds.

In a banking fraud, some employees of a bank or outsiders or the two colluding with each othercause losses to a bank. Often but not always the fraud relates to the sanction of a loan or credit r...

08:45

Comrades" Trump and Corbyn? Cold War Mania Relapse "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Today, Donald Trump and Jeremy Corbyn have nothing in common politically with each other or with the Kremlin. All they have in common is the absurd smear of being comrades of an illusory foreign enemy.

08:15

Former Swiss Diplomat Deserves Apology From Swaraj For Unceremonious Deportation: Civil Society "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Kurt Vgele was deported by the Ahmedabad immigration officials on January 22 despite having a valid passport and visa.

Former Swiss diplomat Kurt Vgele. Credit: Facebook

Former Swiss diplomat Kurt Vgele. Credit: Facebook

New Delhi: With a month having passed without the Centre providing any explanation as to why it unceremoniously detained and deported former Swiss diplomat Kurt Vgele, despite his arriving in the country on a valid passport and visa and being known as a longtime friend of India, a group of 45 civil society leaders, academics and professionals have written to foreign minister Sushma Swaraj to protest against the governments action.

Stating that the government owes and explanation to Vgele for being blacklisted without any prior intimation, the group has also demanded that the blacklisting be revoked forthwith, and as a gracious gesture the government of India should invite him to visit India in the early future. They also pointed out to the MEA that 75-year-old Vgele deserved an apology for the treatment meted out to him.

The Wire had earlier reported how Vgele had protested the denial of visa in a letter to the Ambassador of India in Switzerland. The letter recalls how the incident had taken place at Ahmedabad airport on Jan...

07:36

EPFO Cuts Interest Rate on Employees Provident Fund to 8.55% for 2017-18 "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

All units employing 20 or more employees are mandatorily covered under the social security schemes run by the Employees Provident Fund Organisation.

The EPFO served over six crore subscribers. Credit: EPFO official website

The EPFO served over six crore subscribers. Credit: EPFO official website

New Delhi: Retirement fund body EPFO on Wednesday lowered the rate of interest on employees provident fund to 8.55% for its over six crore subscribers for 2017-18, from 8.65% in the previous fiscal.

It is difficult to evaluate about future in view of present economic scenario. We paid 8.65% last fiscal, which left a surplus of Rs 695 crore. This year, we have decided to recommend 8.55% for 2017-18, which will leave a surplus of Rs 586 crore, labour minister Santosh Gangwar told reporters after the Employees Provident Fund Organisations (EPFO) trustees meet.

Gangwar, who also heads EPFOs apex decision making body Central Board of Trustees (CBT), said he expects the finance ministry to give concurrence to the 8.55% rate of interest decided today at the CBT meeting.

After the CBTs decision on interest rate, the proposal is vetted by the finance ministry. Once approved by the finance ministry, th...

06:43

Trumplandia: Can a Social Media Addict Run a State? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

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Upon taking power in Russia a hundred years ago, the head of the Bolsheviks, Vladimir Lenin, in his article Can the Bolsheviks Retain State Power? noted that We (the Bolsheviks) are not utopians. We know that an unskilled labourer or a cook cannot immediately get on with the job of state administration.

Which brings the rationale of the ruling Western elites into question, since one cannot help but wonder are they clueless enough to assume that a social media addict can successfully rule a state, especially a state so big and powerful as the United States.

Its pretty much given that Trump has a soft spot for Twitter, yet he spends more time tweeting that consulting his advisors. In fact, Trump has made his social activities his main occupation in a bid to persuade each and every single one of his followers that hes not just capable of ruling the country, but the whole world as well.

This approach, no matter how unorthodox it is, cannot be approved, as its been noted by the New York Times. This media has gone as far as to make a list of people, media sources, and politicians the sitting US President chose to insult on the social media since his inauguration. The better amount of Trumps hatred was aimed at the American media, which Trump described as dishonest, deceitful, corrupt, unfair, and spiteful. He awarded the CBS network with the title of an enemy of the American people, CNN, Trump believes, is engaged in junk journalism, and Facebook, according to the sitting US President, is always anti-Tramp.

Clearly Trump didnt feel shy enough to keep his impression of Hillary Clinton to himself, as he went to assess her features publicly, repeatedly referring to her a....

06:30

Maldives: Prosecutor Calls Extension of State of Emergency Unconstitutional "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Maldivian Police officers push back opposition supporters near the main opposition Maldives Democratic Party (MDP) headquarters during a protest demanding the government to release jailed opposition leaders, including former Presidents Mohamed Nasheed and Maumoon...

06:24

PNB Fraud Case: Firestar Diamond CFO Vipul Ambani, Five Others in CBI Custody Till March 5 "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Punjab National Bank has also decided to adopt strict SWIFT controls after the alleged fraud involving diamantaire Nirav Modi.

A man tries to remove a notice pasted on the wall of a Punjab National Bank branch after it was sealed by India's federal police in Mumbai, India, February 19, 2018. Credit: Reuters/Francis Mascarenhas

A man tries to remove a notice pasted on th...

04:30

Rough Edges: Long Arm of the Law Falls Short When It Comes to the Rich and Famous "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Never before has the establishment been so publicly audacious in preaching one thing and practicing another. Even as all the big scammers run amok, the BJP has been increasingly vigilant in monitoring dissenters.

If Manmohan Singh was accused of falling asleep at the wheel, then the Modi government seems to be indulging in selective somnolence. Nirav Modi (top left), Vijay Mallya (top right), Chandrashekhar Azad (lower left) and Kanhaiya Kumar (lower right). Credit: The Wire

In the early days of the Narendra Modi government, Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai was stopped from boarding a flight to London. Pillai was scheduled to speak before a group of United Kingdom parliamentarians on Madhya Pradeshs Mahan coal project and the violation of forest rights of tribals. The activist was later told that her name figured in a database of people who had been barred from leaving the country. The central point in the governments argument was that Pillais views on the Mahan coal project would have lowered Indias image at an international forum, besides hurting the countrys investment prospects.

Worse still, the government slapped its favourite anti-national tag on Pillai.

That was back in January 2015, just six months after Modi rode to a triumphant victory at the Centre. Since then, a lot of water has passed under the bridge. The political landscape of the country has drastically changed. Dissenters like Pillai ha...

04:00

North Koreas Emerging Criminal Cyberthreat "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

North Koreas cyber army is closely controlled by the ruling regime a key difference from other countries cyberattack and espionage groups.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Credit: Reuters/KCNA

The countries posing the greatest cyberthreats to the US are Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. Like its counterparts, Kim Jong Uns regime engages in substantial cyber espionage. And like Russia and Iran, it launches damaging cyberattacks that wipe data from computer disks and shut down online services.

But the North Korean cyberthreat is different in two ways. First, the regimes online power did not grow out of groups of independent ha...

03:30

Red Century: the Russian Revolution and Its Powerful Imprint on Language and Aesthetics in Films "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

From Sergei Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov, there is little doubt that the filmmakers of the time literally took the world by storm.

The posters for Battleship PotemkinIvan the Terrible 1 and October: Ten Days That Shook the World. Credit: IMDB/Wikipedia

Epic historical events have a way of leaving their powerful imprint on artistic works. The Russian Revolution of 1917 remains, for the 20th century, a moment of great utopian force that changed not just the geopolitical landscape of the world but crucially transformed theatre, film, art and literature. While the political culture of the revolution, its subsequent transformation into a powerful bureaucratic apparatus, and its afterlife following the collapse of socialist regimes in Eastern Europe, has been a much debated subject, the creative flowering of ideas in the immediate aftermath of the revolution has continued to remain an enduring legacy.

The rise of the Russian avant-garde is now a well documented story in the histories of European modernism. This emerged in the period just before and after the revolution of 1917 and became one of the great art movements of the last century. The philosophical and aesthetic dimension of this movement influenced painting, theatre, sculpture, film, photography, the decorative arts, architecture, literature and poster design.

With a future oriented vision, a boldness of purpose, a disdain for the past and an attraction for the machine age, the Russian avant-garde inserted itself firmly in the revolutionary fervour of the moment. Experimentation, formal innovation, and a graphic po...

03:29

Planets Not Sole Cause of Unique Dust Patterns Around Stars: Study "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Saturns moons create gaps in the planets rings; by studying them, astronomers can discern the presence of the moon. But when this happens around stars, a new force enters the picture.

An artist's impression of a protoplanetary disc, composed of rocks, gas and dust, around a young star. Under certain conditions, the material in the disc condenses out to form planets. Credit: skeeze/pixabay

An artists impression of a protoplanetary disc, composed of rocks, gas and dust, around a young star. Under certain conditions, the material in the disc condenses out to form planets. Credit: skeeze/pixabay

Over two decades ago, scientists confirmed the first-ever detection of a planet outside the Solar System an exoplanet. With it, the possibility of finding more potentially habitable worlds catapulted the planet-hunting endeavour into the public imagination. Meanwhile, astronomers kept discovering one exoplanet after another, all of them within the Milky Way.

It was splendid to realise that our host galaxy itself was home to so many worlds of interest, but whether other galaxies also housed such worlds has remained a matter of theory. Recently, however, this speculation was called up when astronomers...

01:03

Step up efforts in containing rabies, improve medical facilities "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The Sarawak Disaster Management Committee and Sarawak State Health Department are urged to step up their efforts in containing rabies in Sarawak and to improve medical facilities to combat rabies and other infectious diseases. In making the call, Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How noted that since July 1 last year, 30 localities in five []

01:03

See calls on authorities to step up efforts in containing rabies "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The Sarawak Disaster Management Committee and state Health Department have been urged to step up their efforts in containing rabies in Sarawak and to improve the states medical facilities to combat rabies and other infectious diseases in hospitals. In making the call, Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How noted that since July 1 last year, []

01:02

Court allows ECs bid to halt lawsuit over voters in uncompleted army camp "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The Election Commission (EC) today succeeded in effectively putting a stop to a lawsuit challenging the registration of 949 voters at an allegedly uncompleted army camp in Segamat. Court of Appeal judge Tan Sri Idrus Harun said the appellate court decided to reverse a High Court ruling last month that allowed 48 Segamat voters to []

01:02

Ex-judge: Court not using power it has over EC "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

A retired judge said the courts can act to remedy an injustice to voters if the Election Commission (EC) has exceeded its authority. Gopal Sri Ram said the EC was a creation of the Federal Constitution and the Federal Court had overlooked the wide powers conferred on courts by Paragraph 1 of the Schedule to []

01:02

Pakatan leaders file lawsuit against RoS over registration application "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Five Pakatan Harapan leaders today filed a civil suit to compel the courts to instruct the Registrar of Society (RoS) to respond to the coalitions registration application Speaking to reporters at the Kuala Lumpur High Court today, DAPs Gobind Singh Deo said that the Opposition pact has given more than enough time for the RoS []

01:02

PH files order against RoS, wants early hearing "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Pakatan Harapan has filed an application for various orders against the Registrar of Societies (RoS) in a bid to compel the agency to respond to PH on its registration application. DAP deputy chairman Gobind Singh said the order was filed by PH chief secretary Saifuddin Abdullah, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution, []

01:02

Abang Johari: Dont let outside political parties decide Sarawaks future "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

No political party from outside Sarawak, including Umno, can determine the future of the state, said Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg. He said only the state-based parties led by Sarawakians themselves could decide and set the direction as to where the state would head to. We must be united. Only Sarawak leaders can determine the []

01:02

Bersih condemns EC for adding 9 new categories of postal voters "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Electoral reforms coalition Bersih 2.0 has questioned the addition of nine categories of postal voters, accusing the authorities of quietly gazetting them last year without justifying why they are considered eligible to vote remotely. Bersih said the latest move by the Election Commission (EC) is also a step back from the target of abolishing postal []

01:02

Claiming abuse, Bersih 2.0 wants domestic postal votes abolished "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The Election Commissions (EC) decision to open postal voting domestically to a select group of civil servants has been condemned by the polls watchdog Bersih 2.0 today. The group then demanded for the outright abolishment of the postal voting, presenting six reasons behind their stance, one of it being the lack of monitoring and transparency []

01:02

Pakatan Harapan denies seat swap "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Pakatan Harapan has denied that there will be a swap between PKR and DAP on the Miri and Stampin parliamentary seats. It also said seat allocation is under the prerogative of its state leaders, Chong Chieng Jen (DAP), Baru Bian (PKR) and Fidzuan Zaidi (Amanah). As far as I am concerned, DAP has stated clearly []

01:01

Check before spreading fake news on social media, says Prime Ministers Office "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The Prime Ministers Office (PMO) has urged the public to check the authenticity of news they received through social media before spreading it to other people. The spreading of fake news is a social ill that could be detrimental not only to individuals, but also to the nation as a whole, according to the statement []

01:01

Amnesty International: Fahmi Rezas guilty verdict a violation of human rights "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Amnesty International Malaysia today questioned the Ipoh Sessions Courts decision to punish graphic artist Fahmi Reza for posting a clown sketch of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak online, calling it another crackdown on dissent by the authorities. Amnesty International Malaysia is deeply concerned by the Ipoh Sessions Courts verdict yesterday on Fahmi Rezas case. []

01:01

Pakatan Harapan Youth submit memorandum to RoS "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The Pakatan Harapan Youth today submitted a memorandum to the Registrar of Societies (RoS) regarding issues faced by Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) as well as to request the approval for registering the Pakatan Harapan coalition. PPBM Youth chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said the memorandum was submitted because PPBM and Pakatan Harapan did []

01:01

PH to take RoS to court over registration delay "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Pakatan Harapan (PH) said it would take the Registrar of Societies (RoS) to court this Thursday, close to seven months after the coalition applied to become a legal entity. PH chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the legal action would compel RoS to respond on the status of its application submitted on July 24 last year. []

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Wednesday, 21 February

22:13

Russia, Pakistan edge closer in new cold war conditions "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The articulations from both sides regarding the talks in Moscow on Tuesday suggest that Russia and Pakistan intend to work closely together to coordinate their approaches to the Afghan situation.

The post Russia, Pakistan edge closer in new cold war conditions appeared first on OrientalReview.org.

20:19

Adityanath Hate CD, Found in Sealed Records a Decade Later, Was Never Sent for Forensics "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The discovery demolishes the BJP governments only basis for denying sanction for the chief ministers prosecution for violence against Muslims in 2007.

File photo of Yogi Adityanath, chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. Credit: PTI

Allahabad: Yogi Adityanaths legal fortunes may have turned for the worse. A potentially incriminating CD, which allegedly contains a hate speech by him and whose existence successive Uttar Pradesh governments have refused to acknowledge for a decade, has been found. It was discovered when two judges of the Allahabad High Court no less dramatically opened sealed court records in their courtroom two months ago.

This CD allegedly contains a video of Adityanath making a hate speech against Muslims in Gorakhpur in January 2007. Widespread violence against Muslims in and around Gorakhpur had followed that controversial speech. Adityanath was then a BJP MP from the Lok Sabha constituency of Gorakhpur. He became UP chief minister last March.

In 2007, a Gorakhpur-based journalist, Parvez Parwaz, had filed a criminal complaint with the police against Adityanath for his speech and violence. But for ten years, successive governments of chief ministers Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav failed to prosecute Adityanath. Even the Supreme Court of India cleared the way for his prosecution in 2012 but the case never went to trial.

Dissatisfied with t...

18:46

NASAs $1 Billion Leaning Launch Tower Likely to Bite the Dust After Just One Use "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The mobile launcher for the Space Launch System rocket, initially meant for the launch of Ares 1, will likely only be used once despite its expensive price tag.

A tower that it took the agency two years to build has essentially taken eight years to modify. Credit: NASA

With a price tag of $1 billion, a mobile launcher built by NASA to be used for the launch of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket isnt at all likely to live long and prosper. According to a report on NASASpaceflight.com, the expensive tower is leaning and bending northwards, and will probably only ever be used once.

However, NASA insists it is structurally sound and does not require modifications, the report says. Initially, the construction for the mobile launcher had begun for the Ares 1 rocket, but the structure has over time been going structural modifications for the SLS.

For now, NASA says, the lean is not sufficient enough to require corrective action, but it is developing contingency plans in case the lean angle becomes steeper, reports Ars Technica.

In fact, it is entirely possible that the launch tower may serve only for the maiden flight of the SLS rocket in 2020 and then be cast aside. This would represent a significant...

18:08

Overhyping US-Russian Differences "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Regardless of its shortcomings, the sport of professional ice hockey has a definite egalitarian aspect, lacking elsewhere, like the phony, crony, baloney establishment BS, prevalent within some other circles.

The post Overhyping US-Russian Differences appeared first on OrientalReview.org.

18:03

Germany Might Finally Have a Government But Where Does This Leave Europe? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

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European countries are complaining, quite rightly, that the Brexit talks are getting nowhere because they dont know what the UK wants. This is hardly surprising, as it took the British cabinet over a year to even discuss what sort of Brexit they wanted, such were the divisions between its members.

But it seems that nowhere in Europe is there a latter-day David Lloyd George, who can create successful institutions without having any signposts from previous events as to how to do it. The UK has a case for making the same complaint: that it doesnt know what the EU wants. Although the EU negotiators have been much clearer, and have the backing of EU institutions and their national governments, their positions could now change very quickly. The EU can state its position today, but it may not have the same position next week, not because it is inconsistent, or doesnt believe in what it is saying, but because it has to respond to political realities which are presently very unclear.

It has taken Germany more than four months since its latest parliamentary election to patch a government together. The previous government ended because both Angela Merkels conservative CDU and the social democrat SPD, who had formed a Grand Coalition, lost ground. Having put up its worst showing since 1946, the SPD insisted it would go into opposition this time to recapture the support of traditional working class, leftist voters alienated by its support for the right.

A Jamaican coalition (named after the colours of the parties which would form it, CDU black, liberal FPD yellow and Green) was thus the most likely possibility. But those talks collapsed when the FPD pulled the plug, citing lack of progress on immigration. Eventually, the SPD members gave the party a mandate to try and enter another Grand Coalition, but that decision was challenged in court by a disgruntled SPD element. Even though a 177-page coalition deal has been agreed at parliamentary level, those same members can still...

17:46

Assault on Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash: Two AAP MLAs Get Two-Day Judicial Custody "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

AAP cries foul, says action not being taken on its counter-complaints; BJP, Congress delegations meet L-G to demand the protection of officers and action against hooligans.

Amanatullah Khan (left) and Prakash Jarwal. Credit: Facebook

A day after Delhi chief secretary complained that he was assaulted by Aam Aadmi Party MLAs at chief minister Arvind Kejriwals residence during a meeting late night on February 19, the Delhi police produced the two MLAs in question Amanatullah Khan and Prakash Jarwal before a city court which remanded them to two days judicial custody.

Following Anshu Prakashs complaint, the Delhi police had registered a case at Civil Lines police station on the sections of Indian Penal Code pertaining to wrongful restraint, criminal intimidation, causing hurt, criminal conspiracy, insult and obstructing a public servant from discharging his duty. The police subsequently arrested Jarwal, the MLA from Deoli, from near Defence Colony late Tuesday night. They could not trace Khan immediately but did not have to wait too long for him as he himself `surrendered at the Okhla police station in his constituency in the morning.

Khan had earlier tweeted that the allegations against him were baseless and fabricated.

16:12

Jan Gan Man Ki Baat Episode 199: Arun Jaitleys Statement on Nirav Modi-PNB Scam "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Vinod Dua discusses finance minister Arun Jaitleys statement on the Punjab National Bank scam.

The post Jan Gan Man Ki Baat Episode 199: Arun Jaitleys Statement on Nirav Modi-PNB Scam appeared first on The Wire.

15:44

Pakistan Supreme Court Rules Ousted Leader Nawaz Sharif Cannot Lead His Party "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The order overturns a change in the law by Sharifs ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz that allowed the former premier to lead the party despite being legally banned from holding public office.

Pakistans former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad in Pakistan in 2017. Credit: Reuters/Faisal Mahmood

Islamabad: Pakistans Supreme Court ordered on Wednesday that ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif be removed as head of the political party he founded, six months after the court removed him as premier.

The order overturns a change in the law by Sharifs ruling...

15:41

Watch: The Nirav Modi and PNB Scam Explained "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Nirav Modi, the billionaire jeweller, along with his relatives, scammed Punjab National Bank of over Rs 11,400 crores in one of the biggest frauds in Indias banking history. How did this go unnoticed and who is responsible?

The post Watch: The Nirav Modi and PNB Scam Explained appeared first on The Wire.

14:32

Confirmed US Meddling in Thailand's Upcoming Elections "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

February 21, 2018 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - As the United States intensifies its accusations against Russia for alleged interference in the 2016 US Presidential Elections, the United States itself is found engaged in confirmed political interference worldwide.


This includes in Southeast Asia where Washington is attempting to rush elections in Thailand in hopes of returning their proxy Thaksin Shinawatra and his Pheu Thai Party (PTP) to power.

US efforts to rush elections have included a concerted effort to dismiss those pointing out Shinawatra's continued influence in Thai politics, his continued leadership role over PTP and his intentions to use PTP to return to power.

However, Reuters in an article titled, "Thai ex-PM Thaksin calls for party unity ahead of promised election," would openly admit Shinawatra, a convicted criminal and fugitive, still controlled PTP whose leadership met with him recently in Hong Kong.

The article reported:
Fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra met lawmakers from his Puea Thai Party in Hong Kong where he called for party unity ahead of an approaching general election, party members said on Monday.
Many are watching to see how Puea Thai Party performs in a vote which the military government has promised to hold in November but which could be delayed.

The necessity of repeated delays of Thai elections is very straightforward.

Thaksin Shinawatra, a convicted criminal and fugitive still seeks to contest them through PTP. Allowing a fugitive to contest elections would be illegal and any election outcome influenced by a convicted criminal and fugitive would be illegitimate. By delaying elections, the current Thai government hopes to continue diminishing Shinawatra's unwarranted influence and wealth as well as that of his political network inside Thailand until both are no longer an obstruction to legal elections. 

Yet despite this straightforward necessity t...

14:29

Confirmed US Meddling in Thailand's Upcoming Elections "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

February 21, 2018 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - As the United States intensifies its accusations against Russia for alleged interference in the 2016 US Presidential Elections, the United States itself is found engaged in confirmed political interference worldwide.


This includes in Southeast Asia where Washington is attempting to rush elections in Thailand in hopes of returning their proxy Thaksin Shinawatra and his Pheu Thai Party (PTP) to power.

US efforts to rush elections have included a concerted effort to dismiss those pointing out Shinawatra's continued influence in Thai politics, his continued leadership role over PTP and his intentions to use PTP to return to power.

However, Reuters in an article titled, "Thai ex-PM Thaksin calls for party unity ahead of promised election," would openly admit Shinawatra, a convicted criminal and fugitive, still controlled PTP whose leadership met with him recently in Hong Kong.

The article reported:
Fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra met lawmakers from his Puea Thai Party in Hong Kong where he called for party unity ahead of an approaching general election, party members said on Monday.
Many are watching to see how Puea Thai Party performs in a vote which the military government has promised to hold in November but which could be delayed.

The necessity of repeated delays of Thai elections is very straightforward.

Thaksin Shinawatra, a convicted criminal and fugitive still seeks to contest them through PTP. Allowing a fugitive to contest elections would be illegal and any election outcome influenced by a convicted criminal and fugitive would be illegitimate. By delaying elections, the current Thai government hopes to continue diminishing Shinawatra's unwarranted influence and wealth as well as that of his political network inside Thailand until both are no longer an obstruction to legal elections. 

Yet despite this straightforward necessity t...

14:29

Human Rights Violators Cover Their Tracks As Forced Disappearances Rise "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

In an age of increased scrutiny, violent and repressive states are turning to subtler methods of removing dissidents and opponents.

ICMP International Day of the Disappeared 2012. Credit: YouTube

It seems the global campaign to protect human rights has had an unexpected side-effect: governments are changing their preferred methods of getting rid of political opponents.

Fear of scrutiny has prompted governments to switch from brazenly killing their opponents to forcing them to disappear leaving their fate unclear, and helping leaders avoid accountability for their actions. The majority of disappearance cases go unsolved in the absence of a body, forensic evidence or even eyewitness accounts, the people and groups responsible go unpunished.

Assessing the frequency of forced disappearances is difficult, but the practise seems to be becoming more widespread. Evidence from the Cingranelli and Richards Human Rights Database indicates the number of countries with 50 or more cases of forced disappearance almost doubled from 12 states in 2012 to 19 states in 2015 the most recent year for which we have comparable data.

As of September 2017, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Invo...

14:29

For Space, and ISRO, Frugality Is a Tightrope Walk Not Worth Celebrating "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Saying Chandrayaan 2 is cheaper than Interstellar is pernicious because frugal engineering is not an end unto itself, especially when we seldom celebrate any other aspects of these missions.

A strap-on booster for the PSLV C11 mission, which launched Chandrayaan 1 in 2008, being unloaded at the Vehicle Assembly Building. Credit: ISRO

A strap-on booster for the PSLV C11 mission, which launched Chandrayaan 1 in 2008, being unloaded at the Vehicle Assembly Building. Credit: ISRO

Tis the season of comparing space missions to Hollywood films again! In the last week, a Times of India article described the cost of Indias second mission to the Moon, Chandrayaan 2, expected to be launched in April this year, as being cheaper than Hollywood film Interstellar. A bevy of other publications have, enamoured by this spin, carried it forward in headlines of their own. The same thing happened with the Mars Orbiter Mission, launched in 2014, a technology-demonstrator that, according to many reports, cost less to execute than Hollywoods Gravity.

In the mainstream Indian media, these comparisons are made only when reporting on the countrys space programme. They are both meaningless and, in their own way, pernicious: frugal engineering plays its part but it is not an end unto itself. If it were, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) would have no roo...

14:00

My father was jailed for believing Palestine must be free "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The Israeli occupation thinks that my father, non-violent organizer Munther Amirah, is a threat to its apartheid system because he radiates hope to our community.

By Ghaida Amirah

Israeli forces arrest Munther Amira during a demonstration in support of Nariman and Ahed Tamimi. Bethlehem, West Bank, December 27, 2017.

Israeli forces arrest Munther Amira during a demonstration in support of Nariman and Ahed Tamimi. Bethlehem, West Bank, December 27, 2017. (Courtesy of PSCC)

I was born at a time when people believed the Israeli occupation would soon be over. Following the signing of the Oslo agreement, my father was confident there would be no Israeli occupation by the time I entered school. Long years went by. I am 23 years old now and just recently graduated as a lawyer. But my father, Munther Amirah, is now in an Israeli prison.

[tmwinpost]

My father serves as the coordinator of the Popular Struggle Committee and was the former secretary general of the Palestinian Union of Social Workers and Psychologists. Israeli soldiers arrested him over a month ago in Bethlehem for demonstrating against the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israels capital. Since then, an Israeli military court has been keeping my father in prison, even though they could not prove any of the baseless charge...

13:51

Russia May Become a Leading LNG Supplier in Asia-Pacific "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

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The serious environmental problems faced by China in the past decade have forced it to reform its energy industry. One of the main changes has been the large-scale transition from coal to a more eco-friendly type of hydrocarbon fuel natural gas. Chinas decision to shield its atmosphere from the products of coal combustion, replacing it with gas, which burns almost completely without leaving any harmful residues, proved to be beneficial for countries exporting natural gas, including Russia.

The environmental situation in China has long threatened the lives and health of its citizens. Factories and thermal power plants block out the sky of the countrys most industrialized areas with thick smog. It has reached the point where poor visibility on the roads due to smog causes car accidents. In these areas, significant mortality is recorded from diseases associated with failure of the respiratory system and poisoning with harmful substances.

The situation demanded radical action by the Chinese authorities. In March 2017, all the coal stations in Beijing and the surrounding areas were closed. For example, more than 33,000 facilities were withdrawn from operation in Hebei province. Such drastic measures resulted in fuel shortages. To make good the deficit, Chinas energy sector needs huge amounts of natural gas.

China has its own gas fields which it is actively developing. In 2017, China produced more than 147 million cubic meters of gas, which was 8.5% more than the production in 2016. However, this quantity is not enough to meet the demands of Chinas energy sector. Significant volumes have to be bought from abroad.

The cheapest way to supply natural gas from one country to another is via a gas pipeline. However, the construction of pipelines is a complex and expensive task, which can be made even more complicated if the terrain is challenging. In addition, once the pipeline has been built, it can be destroyed by a natural disaster or sabotage, or, in the event of deterioration in relations between the countries through whose territory it passes, it may simply be blocked.

For example, China is now receiving pipeline gas from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Myanmar. Despite friendly relations with these countries, China cannot be absolutely sure that there will be no interruption to supplies. In all the above countries, there is a certain level of ter...

13:30

Two Recent Taxation Changes Will Likely Boost Investment, So Why Are They Sparking Criticism? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Some from within the government have also slammed the taxation changes.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley. Credit: PTI

While the recent Union Budget announced a number of changes related to taxation policies like a change in corporate tax rate, a standard deduction of Rs 40,000 for the salaried class, changes in surcharge one of its most noteworthy aspects is a departure from the past policy stance on two areas of taxation. One, an increase in customs duties for a number of products, and two, the reintroduction of long-term capital gains (LTCG) tax.

Both of these changes have attracted considerable attention and wide-ranging comments from a number of stakeholders and commentators. Interestingly, however, some of the criticism of these policies has come from within the government.

The current and previous chairpersons of NITI Aayog, namely Rajiv Kumar and Arvind Panagariya, have both criticised the increases in custom duties; while Surjit Bhalla, a member of economic advisory council to Prime Minister Modi,...

13:05

India Expresses Deep Dismay Over Extension of Emergency in Maldives "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Accepting President Abdulla Yameens recommendation, the Maldivian parliament yesterday extended the state of emergency by another 30 days.

Prime Minister with President of Maldives, Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, in New Delhi. Credit: Ministry of External Affairs.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with President of Maldives, Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, in New Delhi. Credit: Ministry of External Affairs

New Delhi: Reacting strongly to the extension of emergency in Maldives, India today said it is deeply dismayed over the development and that the manner in which the 30-day extension was approved by the Majlis in contravention of the Maldivian constitution is also a matter of concern.

Accepting President Abdulla Yameens recommendation, the Maldivian parliament (Majlis) yesterday extended the state of emergency by another 30 days, hours after India had asserted that it was important that the island nation quickly returns to the path of democracy and the rule of law, expecting that there will be no extension.

We are deeply dismayed that the government of Maldives has extended the state of emergency for a further 30 days. The manner in which the extension of the state of emergency was app...

13:00

Ice Age Animal Bones, Ancient Human Remains Found in Giant Mexican Cave "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

A group of divers recently connected two underwater caverns in eastern Mexico to reveal what is believed to be the biggest flooded cave on the planet.

Scuba divers tour an authorised area of Sac Aktun underwater cave system as part of the Gran Acuifero Maya Project near Tulum, in Quintana Roo state, Mexico January 24, 2014. Credit: Herbert Mayrl/Courtesy Gran Acuifero Maya Project (GAM)/Handout via Reuters

Mexico City: Archaeologists exploring the words biggest flooded cave in Mexico have discovered ancient human remains at least 9,000 years old and the bones of animals who roamed Earth during the last Ice ...

13:00

Bhanubhais Charred Body Is Proof That Casteism Remains a Burning Issue "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Bhanubhai Vankar died protesting the rampant injustice and apathy that continues against Dalits in broad daylight, re-packaged and marketed as the Gujarat model.

Jignesh Mevani, Hardik Patel and Alpesh Thakor meet relatives of Dalit activist Bhanubhai Vankar. Credit: PTI

Jignesh Mevani, Hardik Patel and Alpesh Thakor meet relatives of Dalit activist Bhanubhai Vankar. Credit: PTI

Another soldier has given his life at the border. Bhanubhai Vankar. But unlike the deaths at the western front that make decibels in the casteist corridors of corporate media, the border where Bhanubhai fought and died is different. But he too had been a dedicated soldier for 40 years.

He fought against the borders that casteism draws in the heart of our society in every village and every neighbourhood. Borders that segregate, that humiliate, that discriminate, that deny or determine access to land or reso...

12:45

Private Hospitals, Including Fortis, Making Profits up to 1737%: Drug Price Regulators New Study "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The regulators study shows that the major beneficiaries of profits from inflated prices have been hospitals and not patients or manufacturers.

The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Agency conducted a study of the bills of four major private hospitals. (Representative image) Credit: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

New Delhi: A study of the bills of four major private hospitals, conducted by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Agency (NPPA) following several cases of overpricing of medical bills, concluded that the hospitals have been making profits up to 1737% on drugs, consumables, medical devices and diagnostics. One of the hospitals they studied is Fortis hospital.

In recent months Delhi/NCR witnessed some unfortunate deaths because of dengue and other ailments in four reputed private hospitals. In each case, NPPA got complaints of overpricing and inflated bills from the relatives of deceased patients, says the study, posted on NPPAs website.

NPPA says they asked for the details of bills from these hospitals, a duty they can legally carry out. They have then analysed these bills for this detailed study.

One of the hospitals they studied is Fortis Hospital that was embroiled in a controversy i...

12:43

Study Finds Pakistan Typhoid Outbreak Caused by Drug-Resistant Superbug Strain "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Researchers who analysed the genetics of the typhoid strain found it had mutated and acquired an extra piece of DNA to become resistant to multiple antibiotics.

Lab technicians testing for the presence of bacteria. Credit: Reuters

London: An outbreak of typhoid fever in Pakistan is being caused by an extensively drug resistant superbug strain, a sign that treatment options for the bacterial disease are running out, scientists said on Tuesday.

Researchers from Britains Wellcome Sanger Institute who analysed the genetics of the typhoid strain found it had mutated and acquired an extra piece of DNA to become resistant to multiple antibiotics.

An outbreak of drug-resistant typhoid that began in Hyderabad in Pakistan in November 2016 is still spreading, according to experts from Aga Khan University who worked with the Sanger team.

Official data on case numbers and deaths are not available, but local Pakistan media reports say health authorities detected more than 800 cases of drug-resistant typhoid in Hyderabad alone in a 10-month period between 2016 and 2017.

The researcher found the bacterial...

12:30

A Country Where Sanskrit Deserves Preservation, But Urdu Doesnt "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Though constitutional guarantees and planned policies say otherwise, Urdu-speaking people in India have had a hard time trying to conserve their language and culture.

A newspaper vendor in Srinagar, Kashmir. Credit: Reuters/Danish Ismail

A newspaper vendor in Srinagar, Kashmir. Credit: Reuters/Danish Ismail

Language is a silent index of culture, and multilingualism is in no way a threat to nationhood. Language has always been an emotive bond in human societies. Languages, not religions, make nations. Thats why the two-nation theory was wrong.

No language can be termed an offshoot of any particular religion, caste, creed or faith. All languages are a product of a given society. One of the major reasons for Nathuram Godses hatred, prompting him to assassinate Mahatma Gandhi (as testified by Godse in court) was Gandhijis love for Urdu and advocacy in favour of Hindustani with Devanagari and Persian script.

The University Grants Commission has now asked universities to celebrate International Mother Language Day on February 21, 2018. In 1999, UNESCO had resolved to celebrate this day to mark the killing of four Bengali students on February 21, 1952 the students wanted to use Bengali in what was then known as East Pakistan. The day is a national holiday in Bangladesh.

UNESCOs Atlas of the Worlds Languages in Danger lists 2,500 endangered languages around the world. If a...

12:27

Trump Jr. Says Missing Out on India Deals Because of Fathers Self-Imposed Curbs "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

India, it has been an important market for us, but again there is this opportunity cost of the deals that we are not able to do that dont get discussed, Trump Jr. said.

Donald Trump Jr. gestures during a photo opportunity before a meeting in New Delhi, February 20, 2018. Credit: Reuters/Adnan Abidi

New Delhi: US President Donald Trumps elder son described India as an important market for The Trump Organisation but said the global company will lose out on new deals because of self-imposed restrictions put in place by his father since...

11:45

London Offers to Ink New UK-EU Defense Pact: What"s Behind It? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

With Great Britain becoming a leading member of this new European alliance, US interests will be well protected while the existence of an independent European force will remain a pipe dream.

11:35

Asylum seekers begin hunger strike to protest deportation deadline "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Hundreds in Israels Holot detention facility start a hunger strike after seven asylum seekers are sent to prison for refusing to leave Israel for Rwanda.

By Yael Marom

African asylum seekers jailed in the Holot detention center protest behind the prison's fence, February 17, 2014. (Photo by Activestills.org)

File photo of African asylum seekers being held in Israels Holot detention center. (Photo by Activestills.org)

Israeli authorities sent seven Eritrean asylum seekers to prison on Tuesday, after they refused to be sent to Rwanda as part of a voluntary deportation program. Israel is giving Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers an impossible choice: leave for a third country where they are not guaranteed any legal status, or be imprisoned in Israel indefinitely.

[tmwinpost]

Some 700 asylum seekers currently detained in Holot have begun a hunger strike in protest.

The seven men, the first to be imprisoned under Israels new deportation scheme, were not allowed to pack up their belongings from the desert detention facility (Holot) where they were being held. Two of them are survivors of torture camps in the Sinai desert, according to the Hotline for Refugees. Israeli authorities had previously stated that victims of torture would be e...

11:29

Supreme Court Stays Criminal Proceedings Against Priya Prakash Varrier "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

A still from the song Manikya Malarayi Poovi. Credit: YouTube

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today came to actress Priya Prakash Varriers rescue by staying criminal proceedings initiated against her in various states on grounds that the video of a song from her film allegedly hurt religious sentiments of the Muslim community.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud also extended similar relief to director of the Malayalam movie Oru Addar Love.

Besides staying existing criminal proceedings, the bench restrained all state governments from registering any further FIRs against the actress and the director with regard to the promotional video.

It also issued notice to the Telangana government and others on a petition from 18-year-old Varrier, who shot into the limelight after her wink video went viral on the internet.

Varrier, a B.Com student from a college in Keralas Thrissur district, sought protection from an FIR lodged on complaints alleging that the lyrics of the song Manikya Malarayi Poovi from the movie was offensive and had violated the religious sentiment of a particular community.

The post Supreme Court Stays Criminal Proceedings Against Priya Prakash Varrier appeared first on The...

11:15

Rape Threat Rattles Teachers at Elite Gurgaon School "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Teachers and parents are upset that the management at Pathways, Gurgaon have so far refused to act.

Pathways School, Gurgaon. Credit: pathways.in

New Delhi: Two separate incidents of students threatening  rape and propositioning teachers for sex have rattled parents and staff at Pathways, Gurgaon, considered among Indias elite schools.

In one case, a student issued an open threat to his teacher on Instagram, threatening to rape her and kidnap her daughter and have her raped by someone. The teachers daughter, who also studies in the same school, was shocked and had to be counselled at home. She has not returned to  school. When she wrote to the school asking what action was taken against the student, the school authorities refused to take action or even acknowledge what had happened  and allegedly blamed her for missing classes.

The mother of the girl, who teaches at Pathways, has returned to the school to take classes braving humiliation even as no action has been taken against the erring student of the middle school.

When the teacher approached the school management to complain about the students behaviour, she was met with stoic silence from the management, which offered no help. A senior member of the management told her that no action was taken against the student because his father is travelling and not in town.

She is very, very traumati...

11:15

The UK"s Hidden Role in Assange"s Detention "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

It now emerges that the last four years of Julian Assanges effective imprisonment in the Ecuadorean embassy in London have been entirely unnecessary. In fact, they depended on a legal charade.

11:09

Inhabiting Others: Charmaine Craig on Writing Miss Burma "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

In conversation with Craig about her last bookautobiography and fiction, her process in writing, the empathic leap that good literature requires of us and more.

Ethnic Karen children from Myanmar stand behind razor wire of the Mae La camp outside Mae Sot near the Thai-Myanmar border October 14, 2010. Credit: Reuters/Damir Sagolj

The Union of Burma, 1949: in a newly independent nation-state, the Karen people began an armed rebellion against Burmese rule. The British had promised them autonomy, but instead their territory became a part of the Union of Burma. Their struggle became one of the longest civil wars in history, but is one that is little known.

As a writer of fiction, how does one represent oppression and violence in a different place and time? How does one do justice to personal stories while telling a political history? How does one fictionalise the life of ones own mother and family members?

Charmaine Craigs Miss Burma searches for answers to these.

It is a historical epic, tracing 40 years of Burmese history, from British colonialism through World War II, Japanese invasion, the early years of independence, and finally General Ne Wins military dictatorship that began in 1962. But it complicates that national history by telling it through the lives of members of the long-persecuted Kare...

10:45

New Corruption Cases Entangle Benjamin Netanyahu Aides "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara attend an inauguration ceremony for a fortified emergency room at the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, southern Israel, February 20, 2018. Credit: Reuters/Amir Cohen

Jerusalem: Israeli police alleged on Tuesday that Benjamin Netanyahus former spokesman tried to bribe a judge to drop a fraud case against Netanyahus wife, the latest corruptio...

10:45

Overhyping US-Russian Differences "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The sport of professional ice hockey has a definite egalitarian aspect, lacking in some other situations, like the phony, crony, baloney establishment BS, prevalent within some other circles.

10:38

CBI Court Discharges Former Gujarat DGP P.P. Pandey in Ishrat Jahan Case "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Twice before, the Gujarat high court has rejected his petitions to have the FIR against him quashed.

P.P. Pandey. Credit: PTI

P.P. Pandey. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Ahmedabad today discharged former Gujarat DGP P.P. Pandey in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case. Pandey, one of seven policemen and four IB officers accused in the case, is the first to be discharged.

The court has said that it will upload its full order on the discharge by this evening.

Pandey had been named in the original CBI chargesheet in the case, filed on July 3, 2013. Twice before, the Gujarat high court has rejected his petitions to have the FIR against him quashed.

In his petition to the CBI court, Pandey had said that the case is based on circumstantial evidence and the chain of events have not been established prima facie and there is no material on record to show what could be the motive of the Applicant/accused to be a part of the so-called conspiracy. He had also claimed the CBI has concocted the evidence by fabricating the statements of witnesses to somehow implicate the Applicant/accused for political reasons and that statements on his involvement are based merely on suspicion.

His discharge petition had been opposed by both the CBI and Shamima Kauser, Ishrat Jahans mother. The CBI had said, As explained in the chargesheet, it was disclosed during the investigation that deceased persons were in prior illegal custody and they were killed in a fake en...

10:30

Gilead Wins Reversal of $2.54 Billion Hepatitis C Drug Patent Verdict "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The logo of Gilead Sciences Inc is pictured during a news conference in New Delhi September 15, 2014. Picture taken September 15, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee

A federal judge in Delaware has overturned a jurys verdict requiring Gilead Sciences Inc. to pay a record $2.54 billion because its hepatitis C drugs Sovaldi and Harvoni infringed a patent held by rival Merck & Co Inc.

The verdict had been the largest ever in a US patent case but US District judge Leonard Stark in Wilmington, Delaware, on Friday ruled Mercks...

10:15

Munich Did Nothing to Appease Cold War 2.0 Fears "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The Munich Security Conference is supposed to be an annual lofty gathering of global politicians, and military and intelligence experts. Theoretically, they discuss serious security matters under a cool professional eye in an informed setting.

09:21

How Cape Town Is Trying to Keep Tourism Flowing While Saving Water "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

If South Africa falls off the tourism radar screen globally, to get it back on will take so much attention and focus.

Residents walk past a leaking communal tap in Khayelitsha township, near Cape Town, South Africa, December 12, 2017. Picture taken December 12, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Mike Hutchings

London: When Markus Rohner flew into Cape Towns airport this month, he found an unexpected line at the mens washroom.

With the city facing an unprecedented water shortage, airport authorities had turned off all the sink taps but one, leaving visitors to wait in line to wash their hands, under the watchful eye of a bathroom attendant.

In Johannesburg, there were a lot of jokes about the situation. People were saying to each other: Lets go to Cape Town for a dirty weekend, said Rohner, who visited both cities recently for his job as a sales and marketing director for a Swiss machinery manuf...

08:58

SC Allows Centre to Withdraw Forces From Darjeeling Hills "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Credit: PTI

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today allowed the Centre to withdraw the remaining four companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) from West Bengals violence-hit Darjeeling area after March 8.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra considered Attorney General K.K. Venugopals submission that the deployment of the central armed forces fell under the central governments administrative domain and allowed it to withdraw the remaining CAPF companies from Darjeeling area.

The apex court also set aside the Calcutta high court order that had restrained the Centre from withdrawing CAPF from the states hill regions on the ground that normalcy had not returned.

The apex court had earlier permitted the Centre to withdraw four of the eight CAPF companies from Darjeeling and Kalimpong. Before that, the Centre was allowed to withdraw seven of the 15 companies of CAPF from Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts for deployment along the borders of Jammu and Kashmir and in the northeastern states and to the poll-bound states of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.

The Calcutta high court had stayed the withdrawal of CAPF from Darjeeling hills, the scene of unrest over the statehood demand, till October 27 last year after the state government approached it, opposing the Centres decision.

The post...

08:50

Railways to Propose Building Ayodhya Railway Station as Ram Temple Replica: Manoj Sinha "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The government is concerned about connecting Ayodhya through rail to the entire country so that Ram bhakts may visit the place, he said.

Junior railways minister Manoj Sinha. Credit: PTI/File

Ayodhya: Union minister Manoj Sinha today said the the Railways Ministry would submit a proposal to the Union cabinet to re-construct the Ayodhya railway station as a replica of the Ram temple.

The minister of state for railways made the announcement after laying the foundation stone for projects worth more than Rs 200 crore, including Rs 80 crore for the reconstruction of the railway station.

He said the proposal for the reconstruction of Ayodhya railway station as the replica of the Ram temple would be submitted by the railways ministry to the Union cabinet.

The government is concerned about connecting Ayodhya through rail to the entire country so that Ram...

08:30

Coal India to Feel the Heat as Modi Government Throws Open the Doors for Commercial Mining "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Will CIL sink like BSNL and MTNL or rise to the occasion? And what will it mean for its bulging employee base?

India had nationalised its coal sector in 1973. Credit: Reuters

India had nationalised its coal sector in 1973. Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: Nearly 44 years after India nationalised its coal sector, the industry has been thrown open for participation by private players, in a move that would bring in competition for state-owned Coal India (CIL), which has till now enjoyed a monopoly over the business.

India nationalised its coal sector in 1973 as the private sector had messed up the industry, starving it of investment. Safety standards were poor and the lives of the miners miserable.

The restrictions of nationalisation then slowly started being removed from the early 1990s. As the first step, private players were allowed to mine coal for captive consumption. Although the public sector coal producer has been gearing up to face private competition ever since the Modi government introduced an enabling provision via the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act to end its exclusive right to sell coal, it could still feel the heat.

Private pla...

07:39

Kamal Haasan Visits APJ Abdul Kalams House in Rameswaram Ahead of Party Launch "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Actor Kamal Haasan being greeted by his supporters upon arrival at the airport in Madurai on Tuesday. Credit: PTI

Ramanathapuram: Hours before launching his political party, veteran actor Kamal Haasan today visited the residence of former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam here, and interacted with his family members.

Haasan visited Kalam House at Rameswaram in the district, and was warmly received by the family members of the former president.

The actor briefly interacted with Kalams brother Mohammed Muthumeera Lebbai Maraikkayar while being flanked by other close relatives of the former President.

The actor slightly tweaked his schedule for the day, canceling his visit to a school, after the local administration reportedly denied him permission to visit it.

The actor is all set to take the political plunge later today, as he will unveil his party...

07:03

India Must Put Pressure on Myanmar for Repatriation, Safety of Rohingya Refugees: Sheikh Hasina "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a repatriation agreement in November last year, but there has been considerable delay in the repatriation of refugees.

Sheikh Hasina interacting with Indian journalists in Dhaka. Credit: Devirupa Mitra

Sheikh Hasina interacting with Indian journalists in Dhaka. Credit: Devirupa Mitra

Dhaka: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said  she expects India to put pressure on Myanmar to ensure the quick repatriation of Rohingya refugees, and their safety once they go back.

We want India to put pressure on Myanmar so that they can take back the refugees quickly, the Bangladeshi premier told a group of visiting Indian journalists during an interaction at her official residence, Gana Bhawan, on Tuesday evening.

As per UN figures, 688,000 refugees have crossed over from Myanmar since August 25, 2017, following a security crackdown by the Myanmarese army triggered by an attack by a Rohingya militant group.

While visiting Myanmar in the first week of September 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had blamed extremist violence for the loss of lives. The joint statement signed by the two countries only acknowledged that security personnel had been killed.

With over 300,000 refugees already in Coxs Bazaar, there had been rising resentment in Dhaka that India, as the...

06:30

Maldives Parliament Approves 30-Day Extension of Emergency "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

A Maldives National Defence Force soldier walks past the presidents office building in Male, Maldives February 6, 2018. Credit: Reuters/Stringer

Male: Parliament in the Maldives on Tuesday approved a 30-day extension of a state of emergency sought by President Abdulla Yameen who cited an ongoing national security threat and constitutional crisis.

Countries including the US, India and Canada along with the UN have urged Yameen to lift the emergency and restore normalcy.

Tour operators say hundreds of hotel bookings have been cancelled daily since the 15-day emergency...

06:09

Pakistan Given Three-Month Reprieve Over Terrorist Financing Watchlist, Says Minister "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Pakistani foreign minister Khawaja Asif attends a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia February 20, 2018. Credit: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov

Pakistani foreign minister Khawaja Asif attends a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, Russia February 20, 2018. Credit: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov

Islamabad: Pakistan has been given a three-month reprieve by a global watchdog over a US-led motion to put the South Asian country on a terrorist financing watchlist, Pakistans foreign minister Khawaja Asif said late on Tuesday.

Pakistan has been scrambling in recent months to avoid being added to a list of countries deemed non-compliant with anti-money laundering and terrorist financing regulations by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a measure that officials fear could hurt its economy.

FATF member states have been meeting this week in Paris, where it w...

06:09

Confirmed US Meddling in Thailands Upcoming Elections "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

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As the United States intensifies its accusations against Russia for alleged interference in the 2016 US Presidential Elections, the United States itself is found engaged in confirmed political interference worldwide.

This includes in Southeast Asia where Washington is attempting to rush elections in Thailand in hopes of returning their proxy Thaksin Shinawatra and his Pheu Thai Party (PTP) to power.

US efforts to rush elections have included a concerted effort to dismiss those pointing out Shinawatras continued influence in Thai politics, his continued leadership role over PTP and his intentions to use PTP to return to power.

However, Reuters in an article titled, Thai ex-PM Thaksin calls for party unity ahead of promised election, would openly admit Shinawatra, a convicted criminal and fugitive, still controlled PTP whose leadership met with him recently in Hong Kong.

The article reported:

Fugitive former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra met lawmakers from his Puea Thai Party in Hong Kong where he called for party unity ahead of an approaching general election, party members said on Monday.

Many are watching to see how Puea Thai Party performs in a vote which the military government has promised to hold in November but which could be delayed.

The necessity of repeated delays of Thai elections is very straightforward.

Thaksin Shinawatra, a convicted criminal and fugitive still seeks to contest them through PTP. Allowing a fugitive to contest elections would be illegal and any election outcome influenced by a convicted criminal and fugitive would be illegitimate. By delaying elections, the current Thai government hopes to continue diminishing Shinawatras unwarranted influence and wealth as well as that of his political network inside Thailand until both are no longer an obstruction to legal elections.
Yet despite this straightforward...

04:59

Review: What the Best Urdu Stories Tell Us "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The Greatest Urdu Stories Ever Told sheds light on the intellectual movements within a culture and the speakers of a language who were imaginative, rebellious and progressive, not enslaved to an identity.

In the introduction, the translator Memom maps the world of Urdu literature. Credit: Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In the introduction, the translator Memom maps the world of Urdu literature. Credit: Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Everything that is restricted to us as children, whether by our own abilities or by an external force, becomes an object of fascination. This is what happened to me with Urdu literature. Till today, the dwindling weeks of summer vacations in my grandparents house are etched in my memory. And with it, the frustration at my own deplorable Urdu reading skills, which ensured I could read a page if I concentrated hard, but never use to fluidly read books one after the other.

My grandfather was a professor of History, deeply entrenched in his university life. My grandmother was a more nuanced personality. She was a devoted mother and an introverted housewife by day. But she had been the reformer in her family, fighting for her own education, taking a stance against the burqa and ensuring her daughters were raised exactly as her sons.

It was only as an adult that I found out that she had also been a secret radi...

04:30

Elon Musk Is Not the Future "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Tech CEOs are out for themselves, not the public good.

Elon Musks Tesla Roadster, with Earth in background, on February 6, 2018. Credit: SpaceX/Flickr

Silicon Valley has no shortage of big ideas for transportation. In their vision of the future, well hail driverless pods to go short distances we may even be whisked into a network of underground tunnels that will supposedly get us to our destinations more quickly and for intercity travel, well switch to pods in vacuum tubes that will shoot us to our destination at 760 miles (1,220 km) per hour.

However, these fantasies of wealthy tech CEOs are just that: fantasies. None of these technologies will come to fruition in the way they promise if they ever become a reality at all. The truth is that the technologies we need to transform our transportation networks already exist, but Americans have been stuck with a dated, auto-dependent system for so long while being denied the technology of the present let alone the future by politicians who are in the pockets of the fossil fuel lobby and addicted to a damaging free market ideology that theyll believe any snake oil salesmanor wealthy entrepreneur who comes along with a solution.

And, out of all of them, Elon Musk is...

04:00

How Saddam Husseins Old Ideology May Have Contributed to the Modern Islamic State "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Was the early conception of IS a branching-out of the old Baath party? Or was it, as some argue, completely separate with no connection at all? Reality is probably a bit of a mix of both.

Members of the Iraqi police forces sit outside a building in the city of Fallujah on June 30, 2016 after theyve recaptured the city from Islamic State (IS) group jihadists. Credit: Reuters

In an interrogation video broadcast by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on January 10, 2018, French jihadist Thomas Barnouin accused the Islamic State (IS) or Daesh, which he had previously joined, of being the criminal creation of former Baath party members, aided by Western intelligence services.

While his allegations sounded like a familiar conspiracy account and were noticeably the result of manipulation by his Kurdish jailers, they once again revived the old controversy of the ties between Iraqs former Baathist regime and IS, under scrutiny since at least 2015.

On April 18 that year, German journalist Christoph Reuter published in Der Spiegel an investigation dissecting the life of the so-called Haji Bakr, Samir Abd Muhammad al-Khlifawi.

A former colonel in the Iraqi forces who maintained an association with the intelligence, al-Khlifawi was presented by Reuter as the agent of a cynical attempt, through his IS allegiance, to...

04:00

Chittor and Thoa Khalsa, Padmaavat and Rajkahini: Expanding The Patriarchal Context for Jauhar "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Its about time we Indians seriously thought about what constitutes honour and where it should be located.

Padmaavat. Credit: Twitter

History repeats itself

1303, Chittor, Rajasthan:

Alauddin Khilji, the Sultan of Delhi, attacks the fort of Chittor, in a bid to snatch away by force what he couldnt by persuasion the beautiful Rani Padmavati, wife of Rana Rawal Singh. When Khiljis victory is imminent, the Rani thwarts it by performing jauhar  immolating herself in a ceremonial pyre along with thousands of other Rajput women.

March 1947, Thoa Khalsa, Punjab:

Violence has come to the Punjab months before the Partition of India, at the end of a long retaliatory relay between Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. Starting from Calcutta in August 1946, it has first moved eastwards to Noakhali, and then westwards to Bihar, UP and finally Punjab in the spring of 1947. One incident during that month stands out. It is in Thoa Khalsa, a small village in the district of Rawalpindi, which witnessed unabated violence in the week of March 6-13, 1947. There is a Muslim attack on the (predominantly Sikh) village which the Sikhs try to stave off during the first wave of the attack one evening. But the next day, some thousands come. When it becomes imminent that they would be butchered, it is decided that the women would drown themselves in the village well. Some 90 women gather together and jump one by one, some with babies. Towards the end, there is not much water left to drown themselves in and some try repeatedly without success.

...

03:30

In LAffaire Nirav Modi, Echoes of Jatin Mehtas Winsome Diamonds Where a Dead-End Is Looming "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

A Sharjah court order means the CBI and ED are unlikely to receive help from the UAE government on the Jatin Mehta case. What will happen to the nearly Rs 7,000 crore of public money that was lost?

Jatin Mehta. Credit: Winsome website

Jatin Mehta. Credit: Winsome Diamonds website

Over the last week, Indias investigative agencies have never looked better. They have rushed en masse to the offices and glittery showrooms of diamond czar Nirav Modi across the country in search of answers. If one goes by figures leaked to the media,  these agencies have already recovered almost half the money Modi owes to the banks.

The Nirav Modi scam has also given to revisit the history of banking scams in India everything from Vijay Mallya to the Harshad Mehta scandal.

Curiously, there has been less attention focused on the case of diamond merchant Jatin Mehta.

Mehta, who is the main person associated with Winsome Diamonds and other group companies, is likely the second largest defaulter (nearly Rs 7,000 crore) after Mallya in India Incs corporate history. Modi and his uncle have now replaced him.

Modi and Mehta have more in common than one might think. They are both Palanpur merchants from Gujarat, both diamond merchants that walked the same path of precarious funding to reach their ultimate destination as defaulters.

Both of them raised massive loans through letters of credit from public sector banks before making a quick exit from the country. Strangely, in both cases, Punjab National Bank has also been left red-faced, holding the tragically short end of the...

03:30

Review: Sedition and the Quick Leap From Dissent to Deshdroh "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Anushka Singhs Sedition in Liberal Democracies delves into the impact of being slapped with a sedition case, whether real or politically-motivated, and the stigma the taint of being anti-national that it carries with it.

Singh argues how the states use of the law through its mechanisms such as FIRs and chargesheets leads to overrated notions of what constitutes sedition. Credit: Shutterstock

Sedition may be an archaic law, but it is certainly not out of fashion. Anushka Singhs recently released book, Sedition in Liberal Democracies, has to be seen in the context of the continuing use of the sedition law in India to stifle free speech and different stripes of dissent. The book is an excellent addition to the existing material around sedition in India, bringing together legal, political, historical and anthropological perspectives on the theme, and includes a section dealing with comparative developments in the United Kingdom, United States and Australia.

Singhs detailed account helps us think through the narrower legal category of sedition as laid down in section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and judicial interpretations of this law, in relation to a broader discursive category that has emerged that encompasses other laws such as waging war against the state, and anti-terror laws such as the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), as well as popular understanding of deshdroh or those who are disloyal to the nation.

This wider category, according to Singh, who is an assistant professor at the School of La...

03:30

Arcelormittal, Numetal Bids for Essar Steel Fail Eligibility Test "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Matter could land in higher courts, as stakes for both Mittal and Ruias are high; bankers to call for fresh bids.

Credit: Reuters/Francois Lenoir/Files

The bids of both Numetal, a VTB Bank majority company with Ruias as minority partner, and ArcelorMittal for Essar Steel have failed the eligibility test of the legal advisors appointed by the resolution professional as both bidders had connections to non-performing assets (NPAs) in India. The committee of lenders is expected to meet the next few days to take a call on the fate of the company.

As per the IBC procedures, the final decision will be taken by the...

02:42

Petitioner in Loya Case Pokes Holes In Maharashtras Discreet Inquiry "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Dushyant Dave also questioned the courts reluctance to force the Maharashtra government to submit an affidavit on the death of the judge.

Supreme Court. Credit: Wikimedia/Pinakpani

New Delhi: The ongoing Supreme Court hearings on the death of Judge B.H. Loyas in the early hours of December 1, 2014, took an interesting turn on Monday, with Dushyant Dave, counsel for the Bombay Lawyers Association invoking facts, logic and the public interest to pick apart the Maharashtra governments attribution of  political motives to the petitioners.

The Maharashtra governments senior counsel, Mukul Rohatgi, repeatedly questioned the timing of the Caravan story which triggered the filing of the writ petitions, attributing it to the dismissal in the Supreme Court of Harsh Manders petition against the discharge of Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin murder case.

Dave, in his response, asked whether the state government was fair in attributing political motives to the BLA, a professional body, when the issue of Loyas death, and the need for an independent probe, was raised by none other than the four senior judges, occupying the court rooms 2, 3 and 5 adjacent to court No.1, where the hearing was taking place.

Daves reference to the January 12 press conference addressed by the four judges where Justice Ranjan Gogoi admitted that the listing of the Loya matter before a j...

02:00

BJP MP in Jammu Accused of Using Taxpayer Funds for Brahmin-Only Facility "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Despite a crematorium barely 20 steps away, Jugal Kishore Sharma has reportedly built the new shed under pressure from local brahmins.

A view of the existing cremation shed, with the new upper caste shed coming up in the background. Credit: Bivek Mathur

Jammu: As the debate around caste rages in all corners of India, a BJP Member of Parliament from Jammu  has used local area development (MPLAD) funds to construct an upper caste only community cremation shed in Jammus Bishnah tehsil, Dalit villagers say.

The new crematorium in Jumian Brahamana village has been built for Rs 3 lakh and lies just 20 steps away from an already existing cremation shed, where both upper caste and lower caste community members have jointly performed last rites for their dead relatives.

Of the 120 families who live in the village, around half are upper caste and the other half belong to the Scheduled Caste community.

On February 18, in order to set the idea in stone that the new cremation shed is only meant to be used by upper caste villagers, the Brahmins of the village cremated one of their own a former numberdar, Tilak Raj at the under-construction shed.

...

01:30

Nirav Modi Scam: Jaitley Wants Banks, Auditors to Introspect But Not FinMin, PMO "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The finance minister suggested the fraud represented a failure of public sector bank managements to use their autonomy responsibly.

File photo of finance minister Arun Jaitley. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: When the Rs 11,400 crore Nirav Modi case broke a week ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and finance minister Arun Jaitley stayed silent even as they fielded ministers and party spokespersons to blame the opposition Congress for the scam. On Tuesday, Jaitley broke his silence, choosing this time a new set of targets   the management of the Punjab National Bank, its internal and external auditors, chartered accountants and unnamed supervisory agencies.

Though the Reserve Bank of India arguably comes under the last category, Jaitley refrained from naming the central bank whose leadership has spent the bulk of the past year and a half firefighting on the demonetisation front.  Nor did he mention his own ministry, which has nodal responsibility for banking, or the prime ministers office, which received early warning about the scam underway back in 2016.

Addressing the annual meeting of the Association of Development Financial Institutions in Asia and Pacific upon his return from a two day visit to Saudi Arabia, Jaitley said that his government would chase down...

01:02

Abang Johari: Dont let outside political parties decide Sarawaks future "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

No political party from outside Sarawak, including Umno, can determine the future of the state, said Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg. He said only the state-based parties led by Sarawakians themselves could decide and set the direction as to where the state would head to. We must be united. Only Sarawak leaders can determine the []

01:02

DAP and PKR to swap Miri and Stampin? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Pakatan Harapan (PH) Sarawak is targeting to win at least eight parliamentary seats in the coming general election (GE14), with marginal seats of Baram and Saratok high on the wanted list. We have six in the bag; realistically our target is getting two more from Sarawak to deliver eight for Pakatan Harapan. Sabah can deliver []

01:02

CM: Sarawak BN must win Opposition seats to push for state rights "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Sarawak Barisan Nasional component parties must try to at least recapture a few seats from the Opposition if not all the 31 parliamentary seats in the coming 14th General Election. This is to enable the state government to exert its power in asserting Sarawaks right in oil and gas, part of the states effort to []

01:01

EC to provide better facilities for disabled "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Election Commission (EC) will provide better facilities for the disabled during the 14th general election (GE14) so that they can cast their votes with confidence and transparency. EC chairman Tan Sri Mohd Hashim Abdullah said among the improvements included allowing family members or reliable persons to help them during polling. He said election staff would []

00:46

Shut Up, Burglary Theorist! "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

What?! You believe in burglaries?! Oh no, you're just another crackpot, tinfoil hat-wearing nutjob, aren't you? You're a burglary theorist!

Tuesday, 20 February

13:25

Palestinian youth in Nablus: Unite and stop with the division "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Palestinian youth demonstrate in Nablus, demanding peace and calling for non-violent opposition to the occupation. 

By +972 Magazine Staff

Palestinian youth protest in the West Bank city of Nablus. February 19, 2018. (Courtesy of Zimam)

Palestinian youth protest in the West Bank city of Nablus. February 19, 2018. (Courtesy of Zimam)

Palestinian youth from across the West Bank demonstrated near Al Najah University in Nablus on Monday. The demonstrators held a long banner bearing slogans calling for peace, supporting non-violent struggle, and thanking the countries that opposed U.S. President Donald Trumps recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The demonstration was organised by Zimam, a Palestinian grassroots movement.

[tmwinpost]

Samer Makhlouf, CEO of Zimam, said that the demonstration was intended not only to provide Palestinian youth with a platform to express their anger and frustration in a constructive way, but also to fight extremism and promote unity within Palestinian society.

We believe in justice, in international law, and we are trying to encourage the community to adopt nonviolence in order to accomplish our goals, Makhlouf told me by phone on Monday. We need to unite behind one strategy and stop with the division.

We want to build a Palestinian society that is democratic, tolerant, secular, Makhlouf added. We see this as an important step as we approach statehood and independence.

...

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