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Saturday, 17 February

17:58

How France Became the Front Line of Salafists Expansionism "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

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Belief so far has prevailed that Terror, such as that expressed by those factions which ambition through bloodshed and plunder to create a system of governance they believe to be the expression of their Salafist faith, remains forever rooted within the Islamic world thus putting the onus on Islams many communities and territories.

While History indeed accounts to such truth the pages of our books still echo of the many battles, invasions, and persecutions nations have faced before Arab hegemons, Terror, that we experience today, is also rooted in colonialism; the expression of a socio-political malaise fallen empires failed to address, so quick were they to dismiss their responsibility vis a vis those communities which now populate their national landscape.

If Terrors militants have chosen to exert their wrath on Europes streets it is because Europe sits a designated enemy, the old enslaver and conqueror, who now, dictates and shapes geopolitical realities from afar. If Europe no longer sees itself as a colonial force, the former colonies have yet to outgrow such stigma.

As often in politics it is not so much how one sees oneself that matters but rather how others do. For better or for worse, rightly or wrongly, much of Africa and Asia look upon western capitals with reserve mixed with resentment latent anger and longing for retribution. Such sentiments are shared by those migrants who now call the West their home.

This may explain why France, more than its other European counterparts has suffered the brunt of this new perverse form of violence: Islamic terrorism.

Today France is home to the largest Muslim community in Europe, with more than 5 million people from North Africa, the Middle East, and the so-called Black Atlantic. If Frances colonial adventures are a thing of the past, it has yet to close the chapter on its long history or tradition, depending how one wishes to look at it, of violence with those communities it once ruled over.

This war, Andrew Hussley argues in his book: The French Intifada, began with Napoleons cynical aggression in Egypt in 1798, marking the start of a French lust for all things Oriental that culminated in the acquisition by force of Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco. All of this was conducted in the name of the mission civilisatrice (civilising mission), the historical destin...

14:33

On March 3, the Real Loser in Tripura Will Not be Left or BJP, But Congress "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Disregard for local leaders and dependence on the Left may push the grand old party to the third position in Tripura for the first time in the states history.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi held a rally in a crucial tribal area in Tripura on the last day of campaign (February 17). Credit: Special Arrangement.

Agartala (Tripura): Tripura, one of the smallest states of India, which shares its borders with Bangladesh on three sides, goes to polls on Sunday.

Till the 2013 assembly elections, the state was largely below the radar of the national media blitzkrieg.

Not in 2018.

This time round, not just all major Delhi-NCR-based news channels, newspapers and portals but quite a few from other states and international media houses have mobilised their correspondents to send as many election dispatches as possible from the north-eastern state.

It is not difficult to see why. This tiny state with only 25.05 lakh voters can actually be the harbinger of hope for the 2019 general elections both for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), facing an electorate not so overwhelmingly open to it as it was in 2014, and a united opposition, which plans to take on the Modi Sarkar, riding on its growing anti-incumbency.

On March 3, when the results of an...

13:36

Wide Angle Episode 22: Salman Khurshid On The Validity Of Triple Talaq In Islam "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Maya Mirchandani speaks to former union minister and advocate Salman Khurshid on the latest triple talaq judgment and how the Gujarat elections were a sign of Congresss revival.

The post Wide Angle Episode 22: Salman Khurshid On The Validity Of Triple Talaq In Islam appeared first on The Wire.

13:02

Led by BJP Leader, Hindu Ekta Manch Protests in Support of SPO Arrested for Raping 8-Year-Old in Jammu "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

In a video clip of the rally, protestors can be seen carrying the tricolour and chanting anti-government slogans while marching in support of the accused Deepak Khajuria.

Credit: Twitter

Srinagar: A right-wing group, Hindu Ekta Manch, along with ruling Bhartiya Janta Partys state secretary, carried out a protest march in Jammus Kathua district to demand the release of a Special Police Officer (SPO) accused of raping and murdering an eight-year old nomad girl.

In a video cli...

13:01

Lebanon Should it be Devil, Deep Blue Sea or Russia? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

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Lebanon, as so often in the past, is facing mortal danger.

Saudi Arabia is putting great pressure on the Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, a powerful but controversial figure who holds dual nationality Saudi and Lebanese. Riyadh expects Lebanon to play by its own rules, sidelining Hezbollah, ending Iranian influence in the country, and promoting Saudi business and political interests or else. It is a clear that foreign aid from the Gulf is increasingly conditional.

Tension with Israel is also mounting. A military conflict could erupt at any moment, with devastating consequences. Between 1978 and 2006, Israel attacked its northern neighbor on five occasions. The last time Israel invaded Lebanon, during the so-called Lebanon War in 2006, at least 1,300 Lebanese people were killed and 1 million displaced.

The Israeli air force is lately, unceremoniously, violating Lebanese air space, flying over its territory on the way to Syria, where it is bombing selected targets, grossly violating various international laws.

To make things worse, Israel has begun building an ugly concrete wall right at the border line, an act which Lebanon views almost as a declaration of war. The Lebanese military received orders to confront Israeli bulldozers and construction crews, if the building of the frontier barrier continues. Both sides are now using intermediaries to communicate, but a confrontation may take place at any moment.

There is also a maritime dispute between the two countries, over an oil and gas rich area, which both countries are claiming as their own. This quarrel is also threatening the fragile peace between Israel and Lebanon. Although some would say, what peace, really, if both nations are still technically at war?

Reported by AP, on February 8, 2018:

Israel has in recent days escalated its threats against Lebanon over Lebanons invitation for offshore gas exploration bids on the countries maritime border.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman described Lebanons exploration tender as very provocative and suggested that Lebanon had put out invitations for bids from international groups for a...

11:56

Knocked-Out SP Tries Image Makeover to Get Combat-Ready for 2019 Lok Sabha Polls "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Former chief minister Akhilesh Yadavs political fortunes in the 2022 UP assembly polls hinge on Samajwadi Partys partys performance in the general elections.

File photo of Samajwadi Party leader and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav riding a bicycle, the election symbol of  his party. Credit: Facebook

To regain lost ground in Uttar Pradesh ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party (SP) is going in for a major image revamp in a bid to consolidate its core vote bank, mainly the other backward classes (OBCs) and Muslims.

The 2019 Lok Sabha elections are crucial for the two key opposition parties in UP SP and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) both of which were trounced by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Lok Sabha  as well as the state assembly elections by managing to draw away their traditional caste and minority support base.  Both the UP-centric parties know full well that their political fortunes in the 2022 assembly polls hinge on their performance in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

In the...

11:45

Russia and the NYT Find a Point of Agreement the Failed "Kosovo" Experiment "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

As in Iraq, Syria, Libya, the results of US-led Western meddling in Yugoslavia/Serbia, and, specifically, Kosovo, have been unmitigatedly disastrous. Kosovo is truly a black hole.

11:28

Zainab Ansari Case: Serial Killer of Kasur Given Four Death Sentences "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Imran Ali, 24, was found guilty by a court in Lahore on four counts of murder, abduction, rape and sodomy of a minor.

A slide showing a picture of Imran Ali, the serial killer responsible for the rape and murder of seven-year-old Zainab Ansari, is shown at a press conference in Lahore on January 23. Credit: Reuters/Mohsin Raza

Lahore: A Pakistani anti-terrorism court on Saturday sentenced a suspected serial killer to death for the rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl, a prosecutor said.

The girls murder ignited nationwide protests over allegations of government inaction, and a media campaign led to his arrest after years of him being on the loose.

Police found Zainab Ansaris body in a garbage dumpster in Kasur district near the eastern city of Lahore in mid-January, four days after she was reported missing.

Residents of the area have said the murder was the 12th such incident in a year. Police investigators said later that they had matched DNA from eight girls bodies, including Zainabs, with the convicted killer, Imran Ali, 24.

The court handed down death on four counts and life imprisonment to Imran Ali in the rape and murder of the little girl, Zainab, government prosecutor Ehtisham Qadir Shah told Reuters....

11:26

With 2013 and 2017 the Key Dates in Nirav Modi Scam, Congress and BJP Cant Pass the Buck "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The gaping holes in Nostro account monitoring and the SWIFT messaging system were well-known. It just needed Nirav Modi to come along and exploit them.

Investigation agencies are saying that the size of the Nirav Modi scam may be bigger than Rs 11,000 crore. Credit: Reuters

Investigation agencies are saying that the size of the Nirav Modi scam may be bigger than Rs 11,000 crore. Credit: Reuters

In early 2013, a clutch of public sector banks formally made a representation to the RBI expressing a lot of difficulty in either eliminating or reconciling the proliferating number of entries in their accumulating Nostro accounts after a lapse of time.

A Nostro account is typically opened by a domestic bank, in this case Punjab National Bank (PNB), with overseas banks and the account is used to make payment to overseas parties for imports, such as for rough diamonds in the present instance. A domestic bank typically facilitates creation of such Nostro accounts with overseas banks so that it is able to pay dollars from the overseas account for imports by its local client.

So, when banks told the RBI in 2013 that it was becoming difficult to eliminate or reconcile the burgeoning Nostro accounts, the central bank specifically advised that public sector banks should minimise the number of Nostro accounts to have a better control over reconciliation.

The RBI also instructed banks to put in place a system of fas...

11:15

What Left-Wing Educators Don't Teach During 'Black History Month' "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Apart from the bizarre notion that educators should set aside one month to salute the historical achievements of one race apart from and above the historical achievements of other races, Black History Month appears to omit a lot of black history.

10:45

Putin"s Grand Bargain to Israel: Can Israel Digest It? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Israel, having backed the losing side, wants to limit its losses. It fears the changes taking place across the northern tier of the region.

10:15

Had Hillary Won: What Now? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Then Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, would be president of the United States, but the Senate, probably, and the House of Representatives, certainly, would have remained under Republican control.

09:00

Sarva Kahi Samashtisathi, a Day-Long Literature Festival Celebrating Namdeo Dhasals Legacy "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Many young political activists also used the space to discuss issues of atrocities and discrimination faced by Dalits and the need to launch a national movement.

Disha Shaikh, a trans-rights activist and poet, at the festival. Credit: Namdeo Dhasal literature festival

Mumbai: The first ever rally for the rights of the trans community and for prostituted women was not by any funded-NGO but by a maverick poet from Kamathipura. Even decades before our lives had managed to capture the mainstreams imagination and political parties had thought of us as their vote banks, Naama had rallied for our most basic issue of survival for our rationing card, announced Disha Shaikh, a trans-rights activist and poet, standing on the stage set up for a day-long festival organised to celebrate Namdeo Dhasals contribution to the Ambedkarite movement in India on February 15.

For the rest of the day, young emerging artists, mostly belonging to Bahujan communities, used the platform to exhibit their work and recalled Dhasals contribution through their songs, paintings, poetry and acting.

Dhasal (February 15, 1949-January 15, 2014), who emerged from the wretched landscape of Mumbais red-light district Kamathipura had single-handedly changed the vocabulary of Indian literature through his poignant writings which he began in the 1970s and continued until his death. Dhasal wrote nine anthologies of poems and several prose writings, which included a novel.

But it was his first poetry collection Golpitha published in 1971 that shook the literary world, which was until then only a Brahmin bastion. He radicalised th...

08:38

Sex Ratio at Birth Dips in 17 Out of 21 States, Gujarat Records Fall of 53 Points "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Haryana, too, registered a drop of 35 points, followed by Rajasthan which saw a drop of 32 points, says a report released by NITI Aayog.

Girl Child Day being observed in Bikaner, Rajasthan. Credit/PTI Files

NEW DELHI: The sex ratio at birth (SRB) saw a decline in 17 out of 21 large states of the country, with Gujarat recording an alarming dip of 53 points, a report released by the Niti Aayog stated, while stressing the need to check sex-selective abortion.

According to the report, among the 17 states which recorded substantial drop of 10 points or more, in Gujarat the SRB fell to 854 females from 907 females per 1,000 males born registering a drop of 53 points from 2012-14 (base year) to 2013-15 (reference year) in this indicator.

Gujarat is followed by Haryana, which registered a drop of 35 points, Rajasthan (32 points), Uttarakhand (27 points), Maharashtra (18 points), Himachal Pradesh (14 points), Chhattisgarh (drop of 12 points ).

There is a clear need for states to effectively implement the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994 and take appropriate measures to promote the value of the girl chi...

08:30

Tastes May Change, but the Classics Remain: the Best Albums of 1968 "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

A landmark year for music, 1968 gave the world spectacular albums like The Beatles White Album and Simon and Garfunkels soundtrack for The Graduate that will remain forever young.

Jimi Hendrix (left), The Beatles (centre) and Cream (right). Credit: Wikimedia

For any rock music aficionado tracing the history of popular music, 1968 was a landmark year. There were an immense number of outstanding albums released during that pre-Woodstock year that have earned their place in musical pantheon of the best of the best. These include debut albums by Jethro Tull, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Fleetwood Mac, to name just a few.

The year was a proving ground for many artists and yet others to giant leaps forward. Among the albums that are now considered classics are Music From Big Pink by The Band, Astral Weeks by Van Morrison, Beggars Banquet by inimitable Rolling Stones, Pink Floyds A Saucerful Of Secrets and Iron Butterflys iconic In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.

Since its easy to get carried away, to ensure conformity in picking a top five, this list uses Billboards album chart as a reference. Here are five of the best albums of that momentous year:

1. White Album, The Beatles

Tracing the career of the Beatles, one finds that each album of theirs, since debuting in 1963 with Please Please Me, is a landmark in its own way. Besides achieving...

07:04

Tripura Elections 2018: High Unemployment Has CPI(M) Fighting with Its Back to the Wall "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

We travelled to Tripura where the Left Front government has been in power for the past 25 years. Watch what voters have to say about CM Manik Sarkars governance and the problem of unemployment.

The post Tripura Elections 2018: High Unemployment Has CPI(M) Fighting with Its Back to the Wall appeared first on The Wire.

06:18

Libya: 7 Years since February 17 "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

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On February 17 it will be 7 years since the start of the events in Libya which led to the overthrow of its leader Muammar Gaddafi. These years have been full of dramatic and often bloody events, which, according to a number of different indices (effective sovereignty, stability, commercial activity etc.), have left the country much worse off.

Since 2014 the country has been in chaotic situation- divided into two sectors, with opposing capitals in Tripoli and Tobruk, each of which have their own government, parliament, and security services. The balance of power between them is changing.

In the last year the area controlled by the National Army, led by Marshal Khalifa Haftar (i.e. the eastern, or Tobruk, sector) has expanded. That sector includes the oil crescent (the oil wells and the main ports for oil exports). The Government of National Accord, headed by Fayez al-Sarraj, has an unsteady hold over the country.

For three years the United Nations and a number of neighboring Arab countries have tried, without success, to persuade the two opposing parties to comply with the peace agreement that they signed in Morocco (which called for the creation of unified national transitional state structures, elections to the new parliament etc.) The Shkirat Agreement expired at the end of 2017.

Many experts consider that the negotiators meeting to discuss issues arising from the treaty lack the authority to make any decisions, and the military groups who they represent are heterogenous, each split into a number of camps, divided along regional and tribal lines.

To save the negotiating process, the UN special representative for Libya, Hasan Salam has presented a three-stage plan for the next year. He proposed that the Shkirat Agreement be amended, the Tripoli-based government be restructured, a constitution be drawn up and elections be held in the new parliament.

The question is, how can fair, impartial and democratic elections be held, when there are two governments? And how important are elections to the average Libyan, living in a delicate security situation and suffering from disorder and social and economic problems?

The falling value of the Libyan dinar and annual inflation of 30% are causing a fall in his standard of living. Before the revolution a dinar could be ex...

04:30

Imagine No Country Claims You, and Your Own Country Wants to Throw You Into the Sea "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Rohingya refugees in India are trying to make a better life for themselves while fighting the threat of deportation.

Ten-month-old Shafiqa plays with her mother in their hut in a settlement in Narwal, Jammu. Credit: Rohini Mohan

Ten-month-old Shafiqa plays with her mother in their hut in a settlement in Narwal, Jammu. Credit: Rohini Mohan

Jammu/New Delhi: In the centre of a ramshackle snack shop in the Narwal settlement in Jammu, India, ten-month-old Shafiqa sat atop a plastic coffee table and clapped her hands. Her grandfather Mohammad Rafik, who had just poured eggs into oil smoking on a wok on the stove, shot a quick look at her and yelled in Rohingya, Wait for two minutes, you bossy monster!

It was nearly 1 pm on a Friday, and Rafik had work to finish before afternoon prayer. A shirtless six-year-old sucking on an orange popsicle walked confidently inside and lifted Shafiqa to his waist. Ill watch over the kid and the shop, uncle, he offered.

Nearby, the grocery store, fish stall and barbershop were hurriedly closing up. As men in skullcaps rushed to the mosque, the half a dozen shops and over 100 huts in the Rohingya refugee settlement suddenly seemed taken over by children, little guardians of the limited but precious possessions their elders had gathered bit by bit since fleeing Myanmar years earlier. Mothers and aunts sat in a tea shop, their eyes glued to a small television playing the Hindi dubbed ver...

04:15

By Underfunding Its Own TB Control Plan, Centre Shoots Itself in the Lung "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Chronically low investments have made our public health systems fragile and overburdened, such that they have become incapable of reversing Indias TB crisis by themselves.

Credit: centralasian/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Credit: centralasian/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the biggest scourges of modern India as well as among its toughest public health problems. According to the WHO and Indias Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) both, about 2.8 million people contract TB in India every year. About 87,000 of them are co-infected with HIV.

Not only does the disease affect the health, employment and economic condition of the patients, it also kills almost 480,000 people per year (about 1,400 per day). In recent years, India has also become home to the largest numbers of people suffering from multi-drug-resistant (MDR) TB: about 147,000 people have the MDR strain.

Indias TB control efforts have thus far been guided by the National Strategic Plan 2012-2017. An evaluation in 2015 observed that the plan did not achieve the projected increase in case detection, possibly because it did not have the requisite funds to do so. Although almost half of all TB patients sought care from the private sector, the programme fa...

04:00

The BJP Is Killing Our Institutions "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The battle in 2019 is not just to remove the BJP it is to detox our democracy.

Credit: PTI

Recent statements by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) functionaries mocking and undermining the Indian Army come in a context. They symbolise the willingness of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government and its ideological partners to brush aside cherished national and constitutional institutions to order to promote a divisive political agenda. They represent a cultural war against what the Indian nation-state stands for. In a country with an official military and legitimate police forces, why would a private and supposedly non-political organisation be speaking about armed mobilisation by non-state actors and militia?

And yet even ministers of the government rushed to defend RSS opinions on the army. Many of the so-called bright, modern and liberal faces of the council of ministers happily became ministers of sangh, rather than ministers of state. They came out with convenient and specious logic to defend this crazy world view.

Trinamool Congress (TMC) workers were not surprised. In Bengal, we have seen the RSS taking over institutions, or at least attempting to. The latest is the mess that the BJP government has made of...

03:30

The Ramaphosa Moment: Another Messiah for South Africa? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Cyril Ramaphosa is no messiah, and when the post-Zuma champagne corks stop popping, South Africans need to assess him as a mere mortal.

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Cyril Ramaphosa addresses a rally to commemorate Nelson Mandelas centenary year in Cape Town. Credit: Reuters/Mike Hutchings

Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa forgive me, President Ramaphosa is self-evidently a private and reserved human being. Since his decision to contest the leadership of the African National Congress (ANC), he has been the subject of an endless series of think-pieces, more or less informed including by this author, as well as a year or more of attack videos and smears from those he ultimately defeated at the 2017 ANC elective conference. His private life has been examined, and people have tried to double-guess every move he has made, or should have made, or is about to make.

The man must be squirming. Worse than the attention, however, is his recent elevation to messiah status in the media and the popular imagination. He maketh Zuma to bugger off. He maketh the currency to rise and pessimism to fall; he will cleanse where others defiled; and he may lead South Africans towards the promised land or, for the non-believers, will it be down the garden path?

Messiahs are an expression of the need for the yoke of oppression to be lifted, by a god-anointed action man (there are precious few female Messiahs in history) who does what mere mortals cannot. Nelson Mandela was South Africas first messiah, but was seemingly born for the role, relished it, and given the massive damage to economy and society in late apartheid, almost everything he did was inevitably positive. The economy grew, rainbows were believed in, the national football team Bafana Bafana were football champions. Anything was possible.

In Ramaphosas case, the context is horribly similar. The economy has been smashed by the labyrinthine tendrils of corruption and state capture that have insinuated themselves into every aspect of public life, compounding those already present in th...

03:30

Creative Labour, the Private University and why the Attendance Fracas Is Not Just a JNU Issue "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Educational institutes adopting practices from the corporate and industrial worlds to measure accountability is a serious problem. Its worth considering why our education system makes us feel and behave like criminals.

Credit: File photo

We can safely say, that we are now deep in the throes of a crisis of education, across the country. The crisis has been brewing for a long time, but our attention has been recently drawn to it by way of the new regulation mandating minimum 75% attendance for Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students.

If this change comes about, JNU will join the majority of higher education institutions in enforcing disciplinary measures to monitor students whereabouts. The question of regulating attendance, however, merits a wider discussion, as it moulds our vision for education at large. The present crisis therefore is not just a JNU issue.

Over the last three decades, the educational landscape of India has transformed dramatically. Private institutions and universities have emerged in large numbers.

The out-of-date figures published on the MHRD website reveal that presently, there are 45 central universities, 318 state universities, 185 private universities, 129 deemed to be universities, and 52 institutions of national importance, in the country. In addition, there are 37,204 colleges...

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Friday, 16 February

17:28

Bloomberg and Forbes Take on the Saipan Casino "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Two international media stories about the Saipan casino have been making the rounds on social media recently.  Forbes has a story, One Of Hong Kong's Richest Women, Cui Lijie Is Losing Her Bet On Saipan Casino.  It basically says things aren't going well for the casino, and that they aren't making any money or progress on construction.  Bloomberg's explosive piece is titled, A Chinese Casino Has Conquered a Piece of America."  This story is packed with so many accusations that I decided to make a list.  These are the highlights I was able to gleam from the story:
  1. Workers knew they were working illegally under tourist visas, hence why they invented a story for the accident at the worksite.
  2. The casino is a backdoor to the U.S. financial system.
  3. The casino hasn't been following safety protocols, from being provided safety goggles or proper foot wear, to lack of training.
  4. The casino is a giant money laundering scheme.
  5. Laws have been changed to suit the casino's needs.
  6. Contracts requirements have been ignored to suit the casino's needs.
  7. The governor's family has received millions of dollars in payments from the casino.
  8. The governor and other politicians formerly opposed the casino, but changed their tune after a "fact finding trip" to Hong Kong and Macau which was paid for by individuals linked to the casino.
  9. Imperial Pacific had no experience in casino construction or operation prior to their bit to operate the casino.
  10. Government officials did not do their due diligence in selecting the Imperial Pacific proposal.
  11. People listed as casino consultants had not had serious discussions with the casino prior to being listed as consultants.
  12. The $15 million annual fee rescued the CNMI economy from the brink.
  13. The casino is a junket operator whose purpose is to move hard currency out of China.  Wealthy individuals borrow money from the operator, and then cash out in non-Chinese currency.  The debt is collected back in China in Chinese currency.  The operator gets a cut.
  14. Cui Lijie, a Chi...

17:28

China Through the Back Door "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

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Sometimes the tragic situation of the world is actually good for a laugh. It has recently come to my attention that while the US was pivoting to Asia in an effort to contain China making an issue over its build-up of tiny islands in the South China Sea for military purposes China was creeping into Europe through the back door, creating an economic and political organization with the sixteen of Europes 28 countries are in the East. While the US keeps up a steady barrage of warnings about Russia taking over Europe, China has set up an organization called 16plus1, some members of which are not members of the European Union.

After the various European springs which, in the late eighties, secured the independence of the formerly Warsaw Pact countries, four of them, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic, got together as The Visegrad Four in February, 1991, ten months before the collapse of the Soviet Union in December of that same year, for the purposes of advancing military, cultural, economic and energy cooperation with one another, along with furthering their integration in the EU. This suggests that they knew that the Western European countries would require them to travel an arduous road before they could join the club, which indeed they did.

Most outsiders are unaware that the eastern part of Europe was under Ottoman control for centuries before becoming part of the Soviet Unions sphere of influence after World War II or that it took more than a dozen years after the Soviet collapse for the first Eastern European states to be admitted to the high table in 2004, with others following in 2007 and 2013. Aside from the main divide between east and west which is economical, as it was before the fall of the Berlin Wall, while continuing to provide cradle to grave protections, the east is still not as developed as the West, hindering ascension to the EU.

Poland was the first to quarrel with Brussels over the wording of a proposed European Constitution, which they said must include a reference to God, in a first hint of an east-west religious divide succeeding upon the former political division. in 2015, when German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened the doors of her country to a million Muslim refugees...

17:21

To Strengthen Bilateral Relations, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau to Begin 7-Day India Tour Tomorrow "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Trudeau will hold talks in key areas of mutual interest, including trade and investment, energy, science and innovation.

Canadas Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Credit: Reuters/Guadalupe Pardo

Ahead of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeaus seven-day visit to India from Saturday which is aimed at boosting strategic ties with a focus on defence and counter-terror cooperation, the national security advisers of India and Canada met to smoothen out what the visit would entail.

The two NSAs prepared the ground for Trudeau and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intensify defence and security cooperation. Indias concerns over rising Sikh radicalism in Canada are understood to have figured in the meeting held a couple days back, Canadian diplomatic sources indicated.

On trade, the sources said Canadian investments in India were likely to decline in the absence of a mechanism to protect them. Trudeau and Modi may also deliberate, during their talks on February 23, on firming up the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between the two countries.

The negotiators of both countries met last week to overcome...

17:11

Jan Gan Man Ki Baat Episode 197: Nirav Modi "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Vinod Dua discusses the recent Punjab National Bank Scam and Nirav Modis role.

The post Jan Gan Man Ki Baat Episode 197: Nirav Modi appeared first on The Wire.

16:27

Decades-Old Cauvery Water Dispute Comes to an End, Karnataka Cheers as Tamil Nadu Water Quota Is Cut "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The court announced that Tamil Nadu would get 177.25 tmc ft water, and Karnataka would get 14.75 tmc ft more than it was allocated in the previous judgement.

Credit: File photo

Bringing the curtains down for the nearly four-decade old Cauvery river water dispute, the Supreme Court on Friday reduced the allocation of Cauvery water to be released by Karnataka from its reservoirs from 192 tmcft to 177.25 tmcft at the inter-state border of Biligundulu.

Taking the drinking water requirements of Bengaluru city into consideration, the court increased Karnatakas allocation by 4.75 tmct for drinking water and 10 tmcft towards industrial and other uses, including increasing the area of irrigation. Drinking water requirement of the overall population of all the states has to be placed on a higher pedestal as we treat it as a hierarchically fundamental principle of equitable distribution, it said.

Rejecting the contention that since Cauvery river originates in Karnataka, it can utilise its water in its own way, a three-judge bench, presided by Chief Justice Dipak Misra along with Justices Amitava Roy and A.M. Kanwilkar, said the waters of an inter-state river passing through the corridors of the riparian states constitute national asset and cannot be said to be located in any one state.

Being in a state of flow, no state can claim exclusive ownership of such waters or assert a prescriptive right so as to deprive the other States of their equitable share, the be...

14:16

A Reporters Account of Illegal Mining in Bundelkhands Mahoba "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

If you have power and reach, there is very little you cant get away with in the district.

Representative image.

Im Suneeta and I live in Kabrai, Mahoba. Ive been reporting here for the past five years.

Ever since Ive known, Mahoba has been under the spotlight in terms of mining legal or illegal. Its hard to ignore the quarry dust which fills the towns, villages and streets. I have been a part of this environment all my life and have experienced it closely. I was born here and have worked here since I was a child. The people who do mining here are powerful and influential. They generally have leases assigned to them or bribed for by them, to run the quarries. Usually, these people are not locals, but from cities like Banda, Kanpur, Allahabad. They then get local contractors to do the mining for them: people who operate by paying hafta at the small police posts at the sites of mining, right up to the district magistrates offices for procuring illegitimate leases.

On the night of January 7, a few farmers in the Srinagar area of Mahoba, along the banks of the Urmil river, which divides Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, gathered to protest the passage of overloaded trucks that were bringing sand from the river and using their fields as a thoroughfare. Their fields were being destroyed approximately 50 trees on th...

14:00

Maharashtra: Controversy Over Obscene Texts in Primary School Books "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The states ministry of education and department of education are sparring over who appointed the committee and selected the experts who shortlisted the books with objectionable content.

Bal Nachiketa (left), a Marathi paper with the controversial passages. Credit: Varsha Torgalkar

Pune: There are many examples in mythology to show that rishis and gods have had sexual intercourse and have a desire to have sex. But, Ramkrishna and Saradamata were in married relationship still they kept their desire to sex away. How will todays generation understand this?

Saradmata by Mohan Joshi, published by Bhartiya Vichar Sadhana

The rishi starts to feel the body of Matsyagandha, the daughter of a fisherman and expresses his wish for intercourse. The girl asks, will anyone accept me after I lose my virginity?

Bhagwan Ved Vyas by Prasad Dorle, published by Bhartiya Vichar Sadhana

These are examples of text from books on mythological and historical figures that are available in bookshops in Maharashtra. Selected for supplementary reading by a committee of experts, these may now find their way into government schools.

An expert committee of school teachers has identified these, and other books, to be distributed in school libraries free of cost. They will be available by the end of February.

The content of these books however has...

13:30

Will the 2018 Tripura Elections Be 2008 All Over Again? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The BJP in its current campaign seems to be raising the issues that were raised by the Congress in 2008. The difference is the intensity in the BJPs ongoing campaign.

Crowds gathered for PM Modis rally in Tripura on Thursday. Credit: Twitter/PMO

Agartala (Tripura): On February 18, 2008, 60-year-old Tarun Das saw the then Congress president Sonia Gandhi for the first and the only time.

She was addressing an election rally in the state capital Agartala, not very far from where Das home is Barjala.

In that rally, Das recalled, Sonia Gandhi accused the Manik Sarkar-led Left Front government of siphoning central funds for narrow political interests, not utilising Rs 500 crore central funds, failing to provide safety to women and children and employment to the youth. Among the promises she made to the voters were salaries to the state government employees as per Sixth Pay Commission recommendations. The Left Front government was then paying them Fourth Pay Commission salaries.

According to the media reports then, she asked the electorate, How long will you tolerate (this)? Endurance also has a limit and I think the only one alternative is to defeat the Left Front government in the coming elections.

In the run-up to the 2008 assembly elections in Tripura, besides Sonia Gandhis two rallies (the other one was in Dharmanagar), then prime minister Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi, who was then learning the ropes of national politics, also addressed meetings. After a long time, p...

13:04

Are Americas Hawks Any Good Against Chinas Dragons? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

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The recent publication of the notorious Kremlin list that is to become the basis of yet another round of anti-Russian punitive measures planned by the White House, was empowered by the Countering Americas Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. This law proclaims Russia to be an official enemy of Washington, along with North Korea and Iran.

However, various political figures in Washington are declaring China yet another enemy of the United States, in addition to the above mentioned three states. Additionally, this notion can be found in the latest revision of the National Security Strategy (NSS) that was signed by President Donald Trump at the end of the last year. In this paper, China is accused of using allegedly predatory economic practices and bellicose actions in the South China Sea designed as a means of intimidation of its neighbors. Curiously enough, Washington is convinced or at least pretends to be convinced that Russia and China are revisionist states seeking to challenge the existing status quo that suits American interests, as stated in the NSS.

Similar notions were voiced by Trump during his annual State of the Union Address, in which he would describe both Russia and China as rivals who challenge the interests and values of the United States.

The Director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo was even more straightforward in his assessments, highlighting the fact that the Peoples Republic of China is the principal threat to the US within the international arena. Perhaps Pompeos straightforwardness was prompted by the recent detention of a Chinese American, Jerry Chun Shing Lee who was employed by the CIA until 2007. The CIA believes that Lee could be responsible for numerous disappearances and murders of US agents in China in 2010-2012 and could expose the entire American intelligence networks in China and Russia to their respective governments.

Therefore, the ongoing investigation by the US Congress and the FBI has a clear goal of representing Chinas posture in the world as dangerous, as this country can be characterized by its constantly growing wealth and power, as its been noted by The Washington Post. Its bee...

12:53

Inside Nirav Modis Potemkin World "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The billionaire jeweller to the worlds rich and famous was doing well for himself. His troubles, however, grew along with his blinding success.

Nirav Modi

Nirav Modi. Credit: Nirav Modi Jewels/Facebook

New Delhi: Businessmen in Indias multi-billion dollar diamond industry it exports cut and polished diamonds worth $35 billion dollars are known for two things: the extremely low profile they keep and the tight networks they maintain.

Even the biggest players, with offices all over the world and turnovers running into thousands of crores, remain discreet and low-key, rarely giving interviews or appearing in the press.

In this world, mainly populated by Palanpuri Jains, Nirav Modi was a stand-out. He came from a dealer background and became a retailer, not a path followed by many. What is more, he personally became the companys brand, putting his face (and that of several glamorous celebrities from all over the world) up front.

That was not just vanity it was part of a business strategy to emerge as a strong, international brand, on par with the Harry Winstons of the world. He wanted to set up stores in the smartest parts of international cities, and he did. In September 2016, when his eponymous store opened in Bond Street in London, it was in the presence of several top local celebs, including his British brand ambassador actor and Bond girl Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. The New York store is on 5th Avenue, and there are stores in Hong Kong and Macau. One guest at the London launch said, it was a glittering party, and to tell you the truth, I felt proud to see an Indian name there.

But these grand or more a...

12:32

Why Israel is so worried about Qatari outreach to American Jews "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Qatar has been focusing on prominent American Jewish leaders as the isolated Gulf state seeks to repair its image. Why American Jews? Its about Saudi Arabia.

By Mitchell Plitnick

A file photo of Alan Dershowitz. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

A file photo of Alan Dershowitz. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

On January 31, the Israeli embassy in the United States stated that Israel did not approve of several right wing, pro-Israel American Jewish leaders meeting with senior officials, including the emir, of Qatar. We oppose this outreach effort in the Jewish and pro-Israel community, said embassy spokesman Itai Bar Dov.

It was an unusual, and in some ways bizarre, statement. What was Israel so worried about?

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There is nothing wrong with analysts and intellectuals traveling to Qatar to learn about the situation there, explains Jonathan Schanzer, the vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. The problem is that during those visits, theyre not hearing the other side of the story. They are getting the government line and then they...

12:30

Whispers of an Unwinnable War With Pakistan Are Only Growing Louder "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

We have unwittingly created a war-hysteria and are now bent upon closing all our escape routes.

The right-wing social media sites are brimming with talk of usefulness of a limited conflict. Credit: Reuters

The right-wing social media sites are brimming with talk of usefulness of a limited conflict. Credit: Reuters

The Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir is suddenly sizzling. Too much heavy firing, and too many jawans and civilians getting killed. And, then, those damn terrorists manage to sneak in and attack an army base; and, two days later a CRPF camp faces a fidayeen assault. More soldiers get martyred.

On Monday, the raksha mantri (defence minister) found herself compelled to visit Jammu after the Sunjuwan military base was attacked. She was reported to have categorically declared: I wouldnt certainly state a timeline [for action against Pakistan]. But will say...

12:30

Goa Has a Unique Culture, Hindutva Wont Work Here: BJP MLA Francis DSouza "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The five-time MLA underlines why alcohol and beef can never be banned in the state and why its wrong for a party to terrorise people in the name of religion.

Credit: PTI

Francis DSouza, the Bharatiya Janata Partys Urban Development Minister in the Manohar Parrikar government in Goa, does not mince words when he says that alcohol and beef can never be banned in the state. The five-time MLA from Mapusa, and former deputy chief minister in the last BJP government, is proud that it is the Goan-Portuguese heritage that gives his state its liberal, inclusive outlook. Dismissive of his partys attempts to bring Hindutva into the state, DSouza says that it will be rejected outright by the people.

Though Dsouza once claimed that he was a Christian Hindu, he does wince when reminded about how his party bypassed him to make his Hindu colleague the chief minister even though he was next in line for the job.

Sitting at his residence atop a hill overlooking Mapusa town, Dsouza is candid about the fate of Goas uniqueness in the face of Hindutva onslaught, and about outsiders swamping the state. Excerpts:

Do you believe Parrikars fear of girls drinking beer is misplaced?

I dont think Parrikar was being critical of...

12:30

360 Video: Migratory Birds In Delhi "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Every year, the Yamuna wetlands play host to over 250 species of migratory birds. The Siberian Seagulls find their way to Delhi every November and stay till March, before returning home.

The post 360 Video: Migratory Birds In Delhi appeared first on The Wire.

11:45

Exacerbation of Tensions in Syria: Who Stands to Gain? "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The illegal presence of the US in Syria has become more complicated and fraught with many dangers. The need to fight the Islamic State became a flimsy pretext after the jihadist groups defeat. Now the alleged threat coming from Iran is being used to justify US military operations in a faraway country.

11:44

Want to Be a Journalist? The NIA Will Now Tell You How "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The counter-terror agency claims detained Kashmiri photojournalist Kamran Yusuf is not a real journalist because he did not cover development projects.

Kamran Yusuf. Credit: Twitter

Kamran Yusuf. Credit: Twitter

New Delhi: Documents submitted by the National Investigative Agency in court claim that the Kashmiri photojournalist Kamran Yusuf charged with being a stone-pelter is not a real journalist. Why? Because a real journalist should have been covering the governments development projects in the area. That, according to the agency, is a journalists moral duty.

The irony is that though Yusufs work was largely based on the conflict in Kashmir, his cameras and computers did in fact yield lots of photographs of precisely such development projects, his lawyer, Warisha Farishat told The Wire on Friday.

The journalist was detained without charge in September last year, and then booked as a stone-pelter in a fresh chargesheet filed on January 18. The chargesheet also accuses him of conspiring to wage war against the Government of India by carrying out terrorist and secessionist activities in Jammu and Kashmir. On Thursday, the NIA submitted documents...

11:24

Unpublished Data Show Indias Fraud Problems Extend Far Beyond Punjab National Bank "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Reserve Bank of India data show state-run banks have reported 8,670 loan fraud cases totalling Rs 612.6 billion over the last five financial years.

A man talks on a phone as he walks past a Nirav Modi showroom during a raid by the Enforcement Directorate, a government agency that fights financial crime, in New Delhi, India, February 15, 2018. Credit: Reuters/Adnan Abidi

New Delhi/Mumbai: Investors may have been shocked when one of Indias biggest banks disclosed a $1.77 billion fraud by a billionaire jeweller, but the central bank has recorded data that shows the problem runs far deeper and...

11:15

Why America Shouldn't Try to Influence Iran's Future "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Washington should tread very carefully in its statements and actions given that recent reports indicate that there are an increasing number of deaths and continued detentions across dozens of Iranian cities. It must scrupulously avoid the temptation to make the protests about American policy or desired outcomes.

10:46

Poll Candidates Must Disclose Source of Income: SC "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

A bench headed by justice J. Chelameswar said the candidates have to disclose their own, their spouses and dependent childrens source of income when filing nomination.

Supreme Court of India. Credit: PTI

Supreme Court of India. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday directed that all candidates contesting elections must disclose their sources of income, including those of their spouse and dependent children.

In a landmark judgment, a bench headed by justice J. Chelameswar said the candidate has to disclose his, his wifes and dependent childrens source of income when they file nomination for elections.

The court verdict came on a petition filed by NGO, Lok Prahari, which has sought the inclusion of a column in the nomination form seeking details of income sources.

The petitioner has claimed that the candidates, while filing their nomination papers were disclosing their assets, assets of their spouse, children and other dependents, but they were not revealing the sources of income.

As per the law, at present a candidate is required to disclose details of assets and liabilities for themselves, spouse and three dependents while filing nomination paper but not their source of income.

Earlier, dur...

10:45

Falsehoods and Lies: Inciting War Is a War Crime "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The relentless propagation of lies by the West is an appalling incitement to tensions, conflict and war. Engaging in war fever is not only irresponsible. It is in fact a war crime, according to Nuremberg legal standards.

10:30

The BJP Will Make Sure I Never Leave Prison: Chandrashekhar Azad "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

A friend and comrade of the Bhim Army leader writes about visiting him in jail.

Bhim Army supporters hold a protest at Jantar Mantar. Credit: PTI

Bhim Army supporters hold a protest at Jantar Mantar. Credit: PTI

I am writing this article about a Dalit rights movement knowing that the section of society it pertains to will mostly not be able to read it. This is so because buying a phone or computer is not within the means of every poor person to this day. Even if it were, the state of education is such that rather than read something, a considerable section prefers to watch baseless primetime television shows.

Our friendship in struggle began after May 9, 2017. On June 8, 2017, Chandrashekhar Azad was put behind bars. From that time on, I have been meeting him almost every month. What transpired in Saharanpur was nothing new for the Dalits; it was merely one more episode in a long history where the houses that are set ablaze happen to be of Dalits, and those who are sent to prison also happen to be Dalits.

When I first visited Shekhar it is how I address Chandrashekhar Azad in the Saharanpur jail...

10:15

China"s "New Silk Roads" Reach Latin America "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, told his audience that the worlds second-largest economy and Latin America should join efforts to support free trade. This was about opposing protectionism and working for an open world economy, he said.

10:10

At Home and Abroad, Indias Recent Import Duty Hikes Draw Criticism and Confusion "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

With Make in India struggling to make headway, the Modi government has fallen back on hiking import duty in the latest Budget. Will Indias trading partners retaliate?

The Modi government has resorted to import duty hikes on products ranging from mobile phones to auto parts to fruit juice in the latest Union Budget. Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: With the Make in India programme struggling to make headway, the Narendra Modi government has resorted to import duty hikes on products ranging from mobile phones and auto parts to fruit juice, in the latest Union Budget. The governments knee-jerk reaction has left trade diplomats and prime ministers top economic advisers puzzled.

As the US President Donald Trump has pointed out, Indias average tariff for industrial products is still much higher compared to developed countries where, after several rounds of trade liberalisation, import duties for these items have come down to zero or close to zero.

During his discussion with Congress members about  the steel industry on Thursday, Trump criticised India for slapping high import duty on the iconic Harley-Davidson motorcycle...

09:32

US Senate Rejects Immigration Bills, Leaves Dreamers in Limbo "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) walks to the Senate floor before a series of votes on immigration reform on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, February 15, 2018. Credit: Reuters/Joshua Roberts

Washington: The US Senate rejected a series of bills to protect Dreamer immigrants on Thursday, leaving in limbo the future of 1.8 million young adults brought to the US illegally as children.

The Senate failed to get the 60 votes needed to move forward on four separate proposals, including one backed by US President Donald...

09:25

Why BJP Is Capturing the Imagination of Tripuras Young Voters "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The Left Front government has been in power in the state for the past 25 years and just the possibility of change seems exciting to many young people.

BJP and CPI(M) flags can be seen lining roads across Tripura. Credit: Akhil Kumar

BJP and CPI(M) flags can be seen lining roads across Tripura. Credit: Akhil Kumar

Agartala: In what is perhaps the first direct electoral fight between the Left and the Right in the country, the Bharatiya Janata Partys aggressive chalo paltai (lets flip it) campaign in Tripura has managed to seduce the states sizeable young electorate with the promise of jobs, free smartphones and poriborton (change). Opinions are sharply split as the Communist Party of India (Marxist) seems to have found its match in cadre-based organising for the first time.

Tripura has 3.6 million people spread across 60 constituencies, with a growing population of literate but unemployed youth. Ironically, it tops the list of Indian states in both literacy and unemployment rates. In multiple interviews with The Wire across the state, many young and first-time voters said tha...

08:47

Borneo Records Startling Decline in Orangutan Population "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Hunting, habitation destruction by industries and deforestation have led to a drop of about 50% in the orangutan population on the island of Borneo from 1999 to 2015.

An orangutan holds its baby at the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Center in the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo island on January 11, 2004. Credit: Reuters/Bazuki Muhammad/File Photo

Washington: Hunting by people and habitation destruction by oil palm, paper, logging and mining industries helped drive a startling drop of about 50% in the orangutan population on the island of Borneo from 1999 to 2015, scientists said on Thursday.

The researchers calculated a population decrease of about 148,500 durin...

08:43

Smriti Iranis Expensive Picks for Top Editorial Jobs at Prasar Bharati Nixed By Board "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The public broadcaster which runs DD and AIR baulked at the high salaries the I&B ministry proposed, which was way out of line with current levels.

Left: I&B minister Smriti Irani; Right: Prasar Bharati chairman A. Surya Prakash. Credit: Reuters/PTI

New Delhi: In a rare display of the autonomy it is officially deemed to possess, the countrys public service broadcaster on Thursday turned down a proposal by the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) ministry to hire two senior journalists on top editorial posts at Prasar Bharati.

Journalists Siddharth Zarabi and Abhijit Majumder had been shortlisted for the position of head of TV news in Doordarshan News and chief editor at the Prasar Bharati News Service respectively, reported Indian Express.

While, Zarabi is the executive editor of Business TV India and Majumder a vocal supporter of the current government who was recently called out for sharing fake news about the Kasganj violence  is the managing editor of Mail Today newspaper.

The board refused to clear their appointment because of the unjustifiable compensation suggested by the I&B ministry, a member of the...

08:30

Review: The Dispossessed and the Possessed "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Anand Vivek Tanejas Jinneaology seamlessly links Delhis past to its present, and its spirit-life to its modern disenchantments.

Firoz Shah Kotla. Credit: Anand Vivek Kumar

Firoz Shah Kotla. Credit: Anand Vivek Kumar

I grew up with stories about Jinn Mamu whom we never addressed without the suffix of uncle, because they were very jalali, or easy to anger. But a mamu is fond of their nieces and nephews and will try and fulfil their desires, and never harm them. That is the spirit that prevails among the jinn-saints of Firoz Shah Kotla, except here they are father figures.

In the Quran, the Jinns are mentioned as very akin to humans, except where humans were made of clay, the Jinns had been created out of smokeless fire and can take on any form they wanted, animal or other. Just as there were good and bad human beings, there were good and bad jinns.

...

08:21

Aiyaary Is a Straightforward Thriller, Needlessly Convoluted "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Like his previous films, Neeraj Pandeys Aiyaary is a spy thriller, with the heart of a family drama.

A scene from Aiyaary. Credit: Youtube

A Neeraj Pandey film over the last few years has largely come to denote a bunch of things: national security, spies, and covert operations. These films, Baby, Naam Shabana (which Pandey wrote and produced), and his latest release, Aiyaary, also share actors, such as Manoj Bajpai, Taapsee Pannu and Anupam Kher. Theyve also
been sprawling fares, clocking around 160 minutes  long films emerging from thin, simple stories.

Debuting with A Wednesday!, a troubling and populist thriller, Pandey has shown a penchant for violent, quick fix solutions. This helps him in multiple ways. At one level, it allows him to tell the stories that interest him, and at the other, it gives him a ready made audience, which often sees justice, or national security, as a soda dispensing machine, stripped of 8all its complexity, executed at the press of a button. Moreover, these films, centred on secret agents who must break the law to maintain law, have a conventional cinematic appeal, revolving around risky operations, encounters, and smart deceits. A complacent filmmaker finding his interest, promising a large audience, often results in a formula. Pandey has certainly found his.

In Aiyaary though, that formula is served with a twist. Major Jai Bakshi (Sidharth Malhotra), part of a secret seven-member team called Design and System Diagnostics, helmed by Colonel Abhay Singh (Bajpai), has defected. Once an integral part of the group, sa...

08:18

Pulling up Bombay HC Over Remark in Mohsin Shaikh Case, SC Says Religion Not an Excuse for Murder "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Granting bail to the three accused in the case, the high court had observed that the fault of the deceased was only that he belonged to another religion.

Mohsin Shaikh, Supreme Court of India. Credit: Twitter/Reuters

Mohsin Shaikh, Supreme Court of India. Credit: Twitter/Reuters

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has pulled up the Bombay high court for its observations in the June 2014 murder case of Pune techie Mohsin Shaikh. The courts observations seemed to suggest that the three accused had been provoked to commit the act of violence in the name of religion.

The high courts remark in the order that the fault of the deceased was only that he belonged to another religion was made while granting bail to the accused.

On February 8, the apex court quashed the Bombay high courts order pertaining to the three accused in the case  Vijay Gambhire, Ganesh Yadav and Ajay Lalge who, according to a Hindustan Times report, are part of the right-wing group Hindu Rashtra Sena.

The three among 21 from the Sena who were booked in connection with the murder reportedly attended an inflammatory meeting just before they accosted and killed Shaikh. The meeting was held in the background of communal clashes in Pune....

08:14

The Munich Security Report: once again, no solution to arms-control issues "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

It's quite alarming to think that the upcoming 54th Munich Security Conference will once again be unlikely to offer the world any effective arms-control solutions or the establishment of a security system that would be in the interests of all the countries involved.

The post The Munich Security Report: once again, no solution to arms-control issues appeared first on OrientalReview.org.

07:38

Cauvery Dispute: Supreme Court Increases Karnatakas Share of Water, Reduces Tamil Nadus "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Karnataka will now have an enhanced share of 14.75 tmcft water per year while Tamil Nadu will get 404.25 tmcft, 14.75 tmcft less than what was allotted by the tribunal in 2007.

Credit: Reuters

Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today directed the Karnataka government to release 177.25 tmcft of Cauvery water to Tamil Nadu from its inter-state Biligundlu dam.

The judgement clarified that Karnataka will now have an enhanced share of 14.75 tmcft water per year while Tamil Nadu will get 404.25 tmcft, which will be 14.75 tmcft less than what was allotted by the tribunal in 2007.

Earlier, in accordance with the 2007 award of the Cauvery water dispute tribunal, Karnataka had a share of 270 tmcft of Cauvery water. This will now increase to 284.75 tmcft.

The much-awaited judgement was pronounced by a bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Amitava Roy and A.M. Khanwilkar, which had on September 20 last year reserved the verdict on the appeals filed by Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala against the 2007 award of the tribunal.


Also read

  • Soon, there...

07:06

The War in Syria is now 7 years old "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

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In March this year it will be seven years since the Syrian Arab Republic was flung into a difficult, intense and drawn-out crisis. The waves of the so-called Arab Spring or Arab Revolution that plunged Tunisia, Egypt and Libya into chaos and shook up other countries in the region reached Syria and disrupted normal life in what had once been, by Middle East standards, a prosperous and stable country.

At that time, in 2010-11, there were -and even now there remain- a lot of unanswered questions about the background to those unexpected political convulsions. Now the most prevalent view of those events is that they were originally spontaneous demonstrations, a popular outbreak of anger against unacceptable corruption and against leaders robbing their people, feelings of powerlessness, hopelessness and despair which overflowed the limits of what people could tolerate. The Arab Spring appeared out of the blue, because it concerned strategically important regions. But, Western capitals the policymakers quickly got their bearings and found levers that they could use to direct that simmering popular dissatisfaction in the direction they needed.

In Syria, certain forces that were unhappy with Bashar Assads rule rode on the crest of the wave of discontent that was sweeping across the Arab world. That country, with its strategically very important position on the Eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, and its historic influence in the Arab and Moslem worlds was the focus of attention of a number of leading countries in both the West and in the Persian Gulf region. A number of foreign powers started to intervene in the worsening internal conflict. The Syrian opposition were generously provided with arms, and dollars, which triggered the civil war.

At the same time, militants from the DAESH terrorist group entered Syria. DAESH was formed following the US invasion of Iraq and the subsequent overthrow of Saddam Husseins regime in 2003. In 2009 DAESH declared war on Syria and in 2014 it announced the formation of a Global Islamic Caliphate in the parts of Syria they had taken over- a considerable area of the country from Aleppo to the Diyala in the East of Iraq.

In Summer 2015, groups of armed DAESH militants, provided with information and military, financial and material support by the West and by a number of Persian Gulf states, very nearly r...

07:03

Emergency Will Be Lifted as Scheduled Once Judicial Deadlock Is Resolved: Maldives Envoy to India "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

In a meeting, India had asked the Maldives whether the emergency will end on February 20 as planned and sought clarifications on discussions between the island country and China.

Ambassador Ahmed Mohamed hoisting the Maldivian flag at the embassy in Delhi. Credit: Twitter/Ahmed Mohamed/Files

Ambassador Ahmed Mohamed hoisting the Maldivian flag at the embassy in Delhi. Credit: Twitter/Ahmed Mohamed/Files

New Delhi: Even as India inquired from the Maldives about plans for lifting the state of emergency, the Maldivian ambassador to India said his government intends to end the current state as scheduled on February 20, once the judicial deadlock is resolved.

His Indian counterpart in Maldives had on Thursday (February 15) asked the Maldivian foreign secretary whether the emergency would end as declared within 15 days.

The state of emergency will come to an end, when the judicial deadlock is resolved. Government is hoping that within the 15 days still five days remaining the government will be able to get out of the messy situation, Ambassador Ahmed Mohamed told The Wire on Thursday evening.

Just a few hours before speaking to The Wire in New Delhi, Indias ambassador to the Maldives, Akhilesh Mishra, had met with the Maldivian foreign secretary Ahmed Sareer in Mal. The meeting had apparently been so...

06:27

Interview 1345 Fake News Breakdown on Financial Survival "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

[audio mp3="http://www.corbettreport.com/mp3/2018-02-16%20Financial%20Survival.mp3"][/audio]James joins Dave Allen (taking over for the retired Alfred Adask) for his bi-monthly appearance on Financial Survival. This time they discuss the latest drama on the Korean peninsula, James' fake news awards, and the Japanese government's attempts to alter its pacifist constitution.

06:01

Netanyahu Bribed, Oxfam Scandal, Smart TVs New World Next Week "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

This week on the New World Next Week: Israeli police recommend charging Netanyahu for bribery scandal; Oxfam feels the heat over sex-for-aid scandal; and your smart TV is a privacy dumpster fire.

05:42

CBI Court to Rule on Discharge of Former Gujarat DGP, IB Men in Ishrat Jahan Case "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

P.P. Pandeys earlier attempts to have the FIR against him quashed were rejected by the Gujarat high court.

A file photo of Ishrat Jahan

New Delhi: A special CBI court will rule on Friday (February 16) on the discharge petition filed by former Gujarat DGP P.P. Pandey and two Intelligence Bureau officers accused in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case.

Pandey, named in the original CBI chargesheet, said in his discharge petition filed in January 2017 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.

The Gujarat high court had previously twice dismissed Pandeys petitions that the FIR against him be quashed.

Pandeys application has also alleged that the CBI has concocted the evidence by fabricating the statements of witnesses to somehow implicate the Applicant/accused for political reasons. It also says that Pandeys involvement in the incident is based merely on suspicion.

Sh...

05:17

Independent Seven Million Jobs Study Was Carried out With Government Help "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The EPFO data for the Ghosh and Ghosh study was given by the Niti Aayog, which in turn was tasked by the Prime Ministers Office to give quick indicators for direct reflections on employment data.

The two economists worked out of the Niti Aayog office because EPFO data could not be taken out. Credit: Reuters

The two economists worked out of the Niti Aayog office because EPFO data could not be taken out. Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: The study that claimed 7 million people would be added to the payroll in 2017-18 was triggered by the Prime Ministers Office (PMO), which had asked the Niti Aayog last October to give quick indicators for direct or indirect reflections on employment data to be able to arrive at desired trends in employment at the earliest.

The Niti Aayog, in turn, helped the authors of the study Towards a Payroll Reporting in India to gain access to data of around 80 million Employees Provident Fund (EPF) subscribers.

Since this database is not in the public domain, the government think-tank acquired the data from the Employees Provident Fund Organisations (EPFOs) national data centre office in Hyderabad and passed it onto the autho...

05:00

Even in These Crucial Times, Financial Allocations for the Environment Remain an Afterthought "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The allocations for various environment protection schemes have either remained stagnant or declined from previous years in Budget 2018.

People cross the road in Delhi, India, November 7, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Saumya Khandelwal

Amid rapidly growing concerns over climate change, a significant increase in allocations for environment protection was certainly needed. However, if we look at the allocations for various environment protection schemes in the latest Union Budget, the overall conclusion is one of acute disappointment.

The allocation for the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. at Rs 2,675 crore, remains unchanged compared to either the budget estimate or the revised estimate for the previous year. This means that even inflation impact has not been provided for and there has been a decline in real terms for the al...

05:00

The US Led Liberal International Order Is in Crisis "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

There is little room for soft power in Trumps foreign policy; diplomacy has been side-lined in favour of military solutions.

The Lower Manhattan skyline, One World Trade Center and Manhattan Bridge are seen in the background as a ferry with a US flag cruises along the East River in New York. Credit: Reuters/Darren Ornitz

One year into President Donald Trumps administration, serious questions are being asked about the nature and extent of the crisis of the US-led liberal order, and its hegemonic state. The most fervent proponents of that order liberal internationalists are in varying states of despair. According to their Whiggish narratives, the order was supposed to be open, universal, prosperous for most, and in...

04:30

In JNU, an Attempt to Enforce Surveillance Over Students and Teachers Alike "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Outdoor classes in JNU as part of the compulsory attendance boycott. Credit: Special arrangement

Outdoor classes in JNU as part of the compulsory attendance boycott. Credit: Special arrangement

The problem in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) is not about attending classes; it is about registering compulsory attendance in classes. This is not merely a semantic nicety, for in these two issues lies the crux of what has now brought JNU to a boil. Let me explain. Students attend lectures, seminars, discussions and presentations because they want to, not because they must. The latter has nothing to do with some misunderstood and misinformed self-arrogated right of not attending lectures, now being imputed to them in the public domain.

The fact is that students in JNU are expected to attend; and they do. In fact, students spilling out of classrooms, sitting on floors, or standing during lectures because all seats are occupied by their colleagues is a common sight in the campus. Come to any seminar or conference, and the most enthusiastic and informed partici...

04:00

Rough Edges: Bhagwat is Not Insulting the Army, He is Boosting the Cult of Militarisation "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The public has largely missed the most sinister thing that Bhagwats comments alluded to the increasing militarisation of society where conformists drive dissenters into the shadows.

The Sangh parivar has always been a militarised organisation, ready at the heels to spring into combat. Credit: Reuters

Dystopic worlds consistently fire the imaginations of artists and writers. Worlds fraught and frayed by continued wars, major and minor, where a dominant elite hunts down or represses minorities and others who dont fit in. It is the marginalised who then emerge as the ideological dissenters of the day challenging the order. In the grey and grainy universes of science fiction, the endless game between the establishment and those banished from it creates a world that embraces and nurtures war. A world that lauds and advocates militarisation of life.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwats recent remarks conjure images of just such a society. A gateway to future dystopia, nourished by civil war between communities that have split society down the middle, stoking differences of religion, caste, ideology. A universe where puffed up by supremacist zeal conformists chase dissenters, driving them into the shadows.

If accused of indulging a wild imagination, I could point people to the RSSs ideological roots, its political crucible. The Sangh parivar has always been a militarised organisation, ready at the heels to spring into combat. But never since 1947 perh...

04:00

Khaleda Zias Conviction Will Only Add to Bangladeshs Internal Political Chaos "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

The verdict will likely push the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party into further crisis, clearing the way for the Awami League to form government in Dhaka again.

Former Prime Minister of Bangladesh Khaleda Zia. Credit: Reuters

Former Prime Minister of Bangladesh Khaleda Zia. Credit: Reuters

In a landmark judgment, the anti-corruption court in Dhaka on February 8 convicted Khaleda Zia, the former prime minister, current president of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and opposition leader, to five years imprisonment for corruption.

The court found Zia guilty of misappropriating 21 million takas ($252,000) in foreign donations meant for the Zia Orphanage Trust during her premiership between 2001 and 2006. The court also convicted Zias son, Tarique Rahman, and four others to ten years in prison in the same case. Rahman is currently living in exile in London. There are also other criminal conspiracy charges pending against him in Bangladesh.

BNP response

The verdict aroused anger a...

Thursday, 15 February

17:55

The end of Israels enlightened occupation "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

A decision to apply Israels higher education law to the West Bank exposes as a ruse Israels claims that it administers the occupied Palestinian territories according to international law.

By Michal Luft

Border police officers stand in front of Palestinians as they wait to cross from Qalandiya checkpoint outside Ramallah, West Bank, into Jerusalem to attend the second Friday Ramadan prayers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, July 26, 2013. (Photo: Activestills.org)

Border police officers stand in front of Palestinians as they wait to cross from Qalandiya checkpoint outside Ramallah, West Bank, into Jerusalem to attend the second Friday Ramadan prayers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, July 26, 2013. (Photo: Activestills.org)

For years, Israel nurtured its image as an enlightened occupier in the Palestinian territories. It not only insisted on portraying itself to the world as an occupying power that rules over the territories according to the laws of belligerent occupation, it also prided itself on how it administered those territories. That job was given to the IDFs regional commander, who was portrayed as someone whose job requires him to work in an extremely complex reality, while advancing the rights and welfare of both the Palestinians and Israeli settlers who live there.

[tmwinpost]

The military commander derives his authority from the laws of occupation not Israeli law. The latter does not fully apply to the West Bank, in accordance with international law.

Israel has used the facade of administering the occupied territories according to international law in its diplomatic relations with European countries, as well as in the High Court of Justice, which has been asked time and time again to rule on issues related to legislation in the occupied territories. The High Court, over the years, has adopted a position (whose relationship to reality was itself always somewhat tenuous) according to which the territories are in fact occupied, and that the Israeli military commander is its temporary sovereign, and thus the legislator in the region, for both Palestinians and Israeli settlers.

Until recently, that position also applied to the Council for Higher Education (CHE), the state body responsible for determining Israels higher education policy. The state decided to establish universities and other academic institutions for settlers in the West Bank, yet it did not apply the Higher Education Law 5718-1958 which gives the Council its statutory powers,...

16:39

WATCH: Soldiers arrest Palestinian children for throwing stones without proof "IndyWatch Feed Asia"

Israeli soldiers arrest two Palestinian boys for allegedly throwing stones even though the only soldier who could identify them admits that he cant identify them.

By Yael Marom

There should be nothing normal about holding Palestinian children in detention for hours on end, simply because they were seen in an area where stones were thrown. But that is precisely what Israeli soldiers did this past weekend in the city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank.

[tmwinpost]

The incident, captured on film by Israeli human rights group BTselem, took place last Sunday in Hebrons Al-Hariqa neighborhood, adjacent to the settlement of Kiryat Arba. Soldiers in the area said they saw two Palestinian children throw stones at the fence surrounding the settlement, but could not identify them. Nevertheless, they came across two brothers, aged 12 and 13, who happened to be in the area at the time. The soldiers are seen on the video detaining the two, while discussing among themselves whether or not to arrest them admittedly without any evidence that they are indeed responsible for the stone throwing.

The video then shows the soldiers being asked by their commander whether or not the two boys were the culprits. The soldiers respond that they did not actually see the boys faces. Not important. An IDF officer arrives on the scene, and decides to send the boys to the local police station for interrogation anyway.

Meanwhile, an uncle of one the boys, who was in the area, is seen pleading with the soldiers in Arabic, which none of the soldiers seem to speak  that they had detained the wrong boys. The soldiers continue to respond in Hebrew. The only phrases they seem to know in Arabic are give me your ID and what is your name?

The officer then tells the uncle that should he see anyone throwing stones in the area, he would go to his house and turn it upside down.

Ill take these two boys awayfor a week. If I get another stone here, just one, Im going straight to him, he is seen saying.

The soldiers are well aware that they are being filmed. At a certain point, one of them asks another soldier whether he can strike with a club the female Palestinian BTselem volunteer. No bro, the other responds, you cant hit her.

According to BTselem, as of the end of December 2017, Israel was holding 352 Palestinian minors in its prisons. According to Palestinian human rights organization Addameer, which works to s...

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