Thursday, 31 December 2015

Pak PM Sharif wears pink turban gifted by Modi at granddaughter's wedding............

Sharif Turban
Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Sunday wore the pink turban gifted to him by his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi for his granddaughter's wedding.
A source at Sharif's Jati Umrah residence told PTI that Sharif had donned the "Indian Rajasthani pink turban" gifted to him by Modi during the Indian premier's visit on Friday. "Wearing the gifted turban of Mr Modi itself shows that Mr Sharif's sincere intention towards the neighbouring country.
Besides, it also demonstrates that Mr Sharif values the gift of Mr Modi," the PML-N source said. Mehrun Nisa, daughter of Maryam Nawaz, married Raheel Munir, son of well known industrialist Chaudhry Munir, who was the first to shake hands with Modi when he got off the car at Jati Umrah outside Lahore on Friday evening.
Modi had congratulated Sharif on the wedding of his granddaughter and also presented him gifts. Today evening around 2,000 guests attended the Walima ceremony of the couple. Some VVIP guests had also come from Saudi Arabia for the occasion.
Both the groom and the bride have studied at the London School of Economics. The source say that Walima ceremonies will also be held in UAE and the UK next month because many friends of the Sharifs could not make it to Lahore.
Though all the wedding ceremonies are being kept a close family affair away from the public eye, selected footage is released to the media like during the marriage of Sharif's elder son Husain back in the 1990s. The locals as well as British tailors have reportedly been hired to prepare dresses of the bride and her relatives.

Jackie Chan's statues defaced in anti-China attack at new Taiwan museum..............

Jackie Chan
Two statues donated by actor Jackie Chan to a newly opened museum in Taiwan were splashed with paint and daubed with anti-China slogans, reflecting growing tensions over Beijing's influence on the island. The bronze dragon and horse heads sit in the garden of the new branch of Taipei's famous National Palace Museum in the southern city of Chiayi and were defaced last night, the museum said. 
They are replicas of high-profile ancient relics from the Qing Dynasty, seen on the mainland as emblematic of China's past suffering under foreign invaders. The animal heads were streaked with red paint and their bases daubed with the words "cultural united front" by two unidentified attackers, the museum said. The slogan is a critical phrase used in Taiwan to refer to China's attempts to bring the island back into its fold through cultural influence. 
Taiwan is self-ruling after a split with China in 1949 after a civil war, but Beijing sees it as part of its territory awaiting unification. Hong Kong actor Chan, who is a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top political advisory body, has also drawn criticism in the past for pro-Beijing remarks. The museum, world famous for its collection of Chinese artefacts, slammed the attacks as nonsensical.
"A large part of the National Palace Museum's collection originates from the Qing imperial collection, that is Chinese cultural pieces," the museum said in a statement. "If exhibiting relics related to Chinese culture is considered 'united front', how can the (museum) continue to operate?"
Police have launched an investigation and said the attack was carried out by a man and a woman. It is not the first time that statues have been the target of protesters fearful of warming ties between Taiwan and China.
Statues of Taiwan's former ruler Chiang Kai-shek have also been repeatedly vandalised by young Taiwanese who equate his nationalist Kuomintang (KMT) party with mainland rule. 
Relations between China and Taiwan have improved under current president Ma Ying-jeou's KMT government, but he is set to be unseated in January elections as public sentiment has turned against the ruling party, partly for its China-friendly policies. The vandalised heads have already been cleaned and are open to the public with extra security, the museum said. 
The sculptures are copies of 12 zodiac statues that were looted from Beijing's Old Summer Palace in 1860 by Anglo- French troops. The attack came just three days after the venue opened its doors Monday. 

Belgium charges 10th suspect over Paris attacks: Prosecution..............

Paris attacks
Belgian prosecutors said on Thursday they have arrested a 10th suspect over the attacks in Paris last month and charged him with terror offences.

The Belgian national, identified only as Ayoub B, was detained on Wednesday during a raid on a house in the troubled Brussels neighbourhood of Molenbeek, a statement from the federal prosecutor's office said. He has been charged with "terrorist murder" and involvement in the activities of a terrorist group, it said.

The suspect will appear in court again for a custody hearing within five days, it added. Molenbeek is home to the Paris attacks fugitive Salah Abdeslam and has emerged as a European hotbed of Islamist extremism.

Belgian authorities on Wednesday cancelled annual New Year's Eve celebrations and fireworks in the heart of Brussels after revealing an alleged jihadist plot to attack the capital during the festivities. 

AS officer from SC community converts to Islam, takes VRS claiming 'victimization'...........

Umrao Salodia
Chairman of Rajasthan Roadways Development Corporation, Umrao Salodia quit from his post alleging discrimination by not being made chief secretary. 
Incumbent Rajasthan Chief Secretary Rajan whose tenure was suppose to end on December 31, 2015, has been given an extension to continue for next three months. Salodia was reportedly a front-runner in the race to become the next CS, but was left disheartened when Rajan's tenure was extended. 
"I had understanding that being member of Scheduled Caste (SC) and senior IAS officer cadre, I would be given a chance to work as Chief Secretary, I feel victimised, hence I submitted three months notice of VRS to the state government," the Additional Chief Secretary rank IAS officer said.
"Now the state government has to take a decision on my VRS cum protest letter within three months. However my retirement is due June 2016," he said.
Salodia has claimed that if he were made the CS, he would have been the first SC/ST to have become CS since Independence. But, according to Salodia, the Raje government took away this opportunity from him by letting Rajan continue. 
Salodia is a 1978 batch IAS officer was set to retire on June 30, 2016. But he has applied for VRS and has asked to be relieved by March 31, 2016. 
In a letter to Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, Salodia says that since he doesn't want to continue functioning under his junior and hence applied for voluntary retirement. 
In another letter, he announces that he is also converting from Hinduism to Islam on December 31, 2015.
"Article 25(1) of the Constitution of India guarantees to every person and not only to the citizens of India, the freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practise and propogate religion. Under this fundamental right I have converted myself from Hinduism tto Islam religion on today the 31st December 2015. After conversion my name is Umrao Khan."
According to reports, Vasundhara Raje was not too keen in making Salodia as the Chief Secreatry as he has only a few months to retire. 

2 sentenced to death for killing secular blogger in Bangladesh............

A Bangladesh court on Thursday sentenced two students to death and awarded various jail terms to six persons including outlawed Ansarullah Bangla Team chief for killing activist Ahmed Rajib Haider, the first of a string of brutal murders of secular bloggers. "They (the two convicts) shall be hanged by neck until they are dead," Special Trial Tribunal-3 Judge Sayeed Ahmed said, delivering the first verdict in over a series of murders of "atheists" in the Muslim-majority nation. The judge sentenced former private university students Md Faisal Bin Nayem alias Dweep and absconding Redwanul Azad Rana to death. They were also fined 10,000 Taka each.
The court also found outlawed Ansarullah Bangla Team (ABT) chief Mufti Jasim Uddin Rahmani and five others guilty. Rahmani was given five years of jail and Taka 2,000 in fine with two months of additional imprisonment in default. Maksudul Hasan alias Anik was given life term with a fine of Taka 10,000. Md Ehsan Reza alias Rumman, Nayem Sikdar alias Iraj and Nafis Imtiaz were given 10-year jail with Taka 5,000 fine each. Sadman Yasir Mahmud was given three years in prison and Taka 2,000 in fine. These students had vowed to kill "atheist bloggers", the investigation officer said in the charge sheet. They targeted Rajib "for his blog posts under the nick of Thabababa" and carried out the murder in two separate groups. The prosecutors earlier said the two students were "inspired" by the jihadi sermons of Rahmani. 
Machete-wielding assailants hacked to death 35-year-old Rajib, an architect by profession and an activist of Shahbagh movement, near his house at Mirpur area here in February 2013. Investigators earlier said Rahmani's speeches and books 'encouraged' the students to kill "atheist bloggers", which eventually resulted in Rajib's murder. Since Rajib's assassination, Bangladesh witnessed five more murders of secular writers including a progressive publisher, all in the past one year. On February 26 this year, Bangladesh-born US blogger and science writer Avijit Roy, 42, was attacked just yards away from a book fair in Dhaka while he died instantly.
A month later fellow blogger Washiqur Rahman, 27, was hacked to death in broad daylight near his home in Dhaka's Tejgaon area where the people in the neighbourhood chased down two of the killers and handed them to police. 
The subsequent victims were Ananta Bijoy Das, 33, a banker and a founder of a group called the Science and Rationalist Council; Niloy Chakrabarti, 40, who wrote online under the pen name Niloy Neel and publisher Faisal Arefin Dipan, 43, who published a bestselling book by Roy. 

Indian test captain Virat Kohli named BCCI Cricketer of the Year.............

Virat Kohli
Continuing his meteoric rise, Indian Test captain Virat Kohli was today named 'Cricketer of the Year', while Mithali Raj was picked for the top women's award in the BCCI annual honours to be given away on January 5 in Mumbai.
The 27-year-old batsman, who took over as captain in the middle of the tour of Australia after Mahendra Singh Dhoni's sudden retirement, delivered some good results under his leadership. Under Kohli, the Indian team ended a 22-year wait for a series win on Sri Lankan soil before battering world No.1 South Africa to give them their first overseas loss in nine years.
The right-hander has done well with the bat too, scoring 640 runs in 15 Test innings that he played at an average of 42.67. In his 20 ODI outings this year, Kohli managed 623 runs at an average of 36.65. Mithali, on the other hand, became the first Indian woman and second overall to complete 5,000 runs in ODI format this year. Mithali will be presented with the M A Chidambaram Trophy for the best women's cricketer.
In other awards, former wicketkeeper Syed Kirmani will be presented the Col. CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award. Karnataka State Cricket Association has been chosen the state association of the year for achieving the treble of winning the Ranji Trophy, Irani Cup and Vijay Hazare Trophy in the season.
Karnataka all-rounder Robin Uthappa has been picked for the Madhavrao Scindia Award for being the highest run-scorer in Ranji Trophy. Uthappa scored 912 runs in 11 matches, averaging 50.66.
The top wicket-taker's award is being shared this year by Karnataka's R Vinay Kumar and Mumbai's Shardul Thakur, both of whom scalped 48 in the previous season.  

Arvind Kejriwal targets PM Modi, says officers in Delhi have become 'B-teams of BJP'..............

Modi Kejriwal
Hours after the Union Home Ministry termed the suspension of two DANICS cadre (Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands Civil Service) officers by the Delhi government null and void, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal attacked PM Modi, and said that DANICS and IAS associations in Delhi have become full-fledged B teams of BJP.
Two senior civil service officers of the Home Department were on Wednesday suspended by the AAP government for refusing to sign on a Cabinet decision file, following which around 200 DANICS-cadre officers went on mass leave, showing solidarity.
The action was taken against Yashpal Garg, special secretary (Prosecution), and Subhash Chandra, after they refused to sign a file pertaining to the Cabinet decision to increase salary of public 
Taking to micro-blogging site Twitter, Kejriwal said, "DANICS and IAS associations in Delhi have become full-fledged B teams of BJP and Modi was shooting from the shoulder of LG and Bureaucrats."
"LG personally attended DANICS association meeting yesterday through speaker phone. LG in turn was in touch with Nripendra Misra in PMO," claimed Kejriwal.
Kejriwal further added that people will be very happy if these officers go on long leave and said, "Government is ready to give paid leave. Governance will become honest, smooth and efficient."
In a series of tweets, Kejriwal also said, "Government is exploring all options against officers who are on leave today. चोरी और सीनाज़ोरी?. Government will not tolerate corruption in insubordination."
The Chief Minister also said that, "Time has come to replace bureaucrats wid professionals and sector experts. Infuse fresh energy n ideas in governance."
Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands Civil Service (DANICS) are selected through civil service exams conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
Earlier this month, Kejriwal had also suspended two sub-divisional magistrates for failing to provide instant relief to victims whose shanties were demolished by Railways in West Delhi's Shakur Basti area.
However, these two SDMs are still holding their posts.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Over one million reach Europe by sea in 2015: UN........

Refugees in the Mediterranean Sea
Over one million migrants and refugees crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Europe in 2015, nearly half of them Syrians, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Wednesday. 

The milestone marks an almost five-fold increase over 2014 figures, when UNHCR recorded 219,000 arrivals via the perilous sea crossing. "The vast majority of those attempting this dangerous crossing are in need of international protection," the agency said.

The massive movement of people this year in Europe, most of them seeking refuge from conflict, has exposed deep divisions among EU leaders on how to deal with the influx. In total, 1,000,573 made their way across the Mediterranean since January 1, while 3,735 people who attempted the journey died or went missing, the UN agency said.

Greece was by far the top landing spot with 844,176 arrivals, followed by Italy, a distant second with 152,700 migrants landing on its shores. The figures underscore the enormous impact that Syria's nearly five-year civil war has had on changing migration patterns.

The conflict has forced more than four million people to flee the country, but until this year, an overwhelming majority of them were spread among Syria's neighbours. While Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey continue to host massive numbers of Syrians displaced by war, the UN figures show that beginning in the spring increasingly large numbers of Syrians resolved to reach Europe.

In June, more than 50,000 people crossed the sea, a number that shot up to over 150,000 by September, culminating in a record 218,000 crossings in October. After Syrians, Afghans were the second largest group at 21 percent of arrivals this year, followed by Iraqis at eight percent and Eritreans at four.

Other migrants originated in Pakistan, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Gambia and Mali, but in relatively small numbers. The UN has warned that there may be no let up in sea crossings next year, especially if efforts to end the conflict in Syria continue to falter.

Meanwhile, rising anti-migrant rhetoric continues in parts of Europe, with Czech President Milos Zeman called the current wave of refugees "an organised invasion" in remarks at the weekend.
Hungary too has taken a hardline stance on migrants.

Last week, UNHCR and the Council of Europe accused Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban of portraying those fleeing conflict as "criminals, invaders and terrorists based on their religious beliefs and places of origin".

China: Asia's largest underground railway station opens in Shenzhen city...........

  Beijing train - underground
Asia's largest underground railway station, covering a total area of 147,000 square metres, opened  in China's southern Shenzhen city.
The Futian High-speed Railway Station in downtown Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, covers a total area of 147,000 square meters, or about the size of 21 football fields.
Its three underground floors have seating for 3,000 passengers, according to Guangzhou Railway Corporation, which operates the station.
With the opening of the new station, travel time between Guangzhou and Hong Kong will be slashed to half an hour.
The travel time between Guangzhou and Hong Kong takes about two hours by ordinary train.
Residents in Shenzhen, which is adjacent to Hong Kong, can reach Hong Kong in 15 minutes.
According to the train timetable, there will be 11 pairs of high-speed trains between the Futian Station and Guangzhou South Station each day from Wednesday to January 9.
Another 12 round trips will be added to the schedule every day starting January 10, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Xue Weihe, a local railway official, said the daily passenger flow through the station is expected to be 10,000 on average during the initial period.

ISIS leader killed in air strike was close to Paris attacker: Mayor...........

Charaffe al Mouadan, one of 10 Islamic State leaders killed by US-led air strikes in the past month, was close to Paris attacker Samy Amimour and paved the way for him to leave France for Syria, the mayor of the French city where both grew up said.

An air strike in Syria on December 24 killed al Mouadan, US US Army Colonel Steve Warren said, adding that he was directly associated with Abdelhamid Abaaoud, suspected ringleader of the Nov. 13 Paris shootings and bombings that killed 130 people.

Jean-Christophe Lagarde, the mayor of Drancy, a northeastern suburb of Paris, said al Mouadan was also connected to Amimour, a 28-year-old former bus driver who blew himself up in Paris's Bataclan concert hall.

"They were arrested in 2012 when they planned to leave for Yemen and were placed under judicial supervision," Lagarde told Reuters in a telephone interview, adding that a third man was part of their group.

"He (al Mouadan) was the first to leave for Syria, in June or July 2013. The other two left about two months later. He paved the way. What I don't understand is that (al Mouadan) missed police check-ins for two months and no one reacted, no one went after the other two."

Lagarde said he did not personally know al Mouadan but that he knew Amimour's family. "What Amimour's family told me is that he (al Mouadan) seemed to be the leader of their group of three people," he said, and the family had said al Mouadan rose in Islamic State ranks more than the other two.

While some French media have said they were childhood friends, Lagarde said he had heard that al Mouadan and Amimour did not meet before becoming radicalised in 2011. Al Mouadan lived in a middle-class, residential district, midway between Drancy city centre and the train station, Lagarde said, insisting that this was not an underprivileged area. His family was originally from Morocco, Lagarde added.

The mayor's remarks helped to flesh out a picture of who was killed in the US-led strikes and their links to the Paris attacks. Another of those killed in the air strikes was Abdul Qader Hakim, who facilitated Islamic State's external operations and had links to the Paris attack network, Warren said. Hakim was killed in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Dec. 26.

Amimour himself missed at least four weekly check-ins with French police who were investigating him on suspicion of terrorism-related activity. After nearly a month, French authorities put out the warrant for his arrest but he was already in Syria.

At least eight of the Paris attackers are dead, with seven killed on November 13 and one, the alleged ringleader Abaaoud, a few days later in a police raid in Brussels. The number involved in the attacks may have been 10 or higher and at least four people continue to be sought. 

Delhi odd-even rule: Trial run to be conducted on Thursday............

To check preparations of the odd-even scheme starting from Friday, Delhi government will conduct a coordination trial between different agencies at 200 points for two hours tomorrow in the national capital.
"The coordination trial-run of different agencies will be conducted at 200 points for two hours from 9 am to 11 am tomorrow to check preparation of odd-even scheme. 66 enforcement teams of Transport department and 27 teams of sub-divisional magistrates will be deployed. Besides, 5700 civil defence personnel, 1000 cadets of NCC and 1,000 volunteers of National Service Scheme will also deployed," Delhi Transport minister Gopal Rai said on Wednesday.
Around 125 teams of Transport department and Revenue department will be deployed during the 15-day road-rationing plan so that the scheme could be effectively implemented, he said. Violations of odd-even scheme will attract a fine of Rs 2,000. Officials of Transport department, Traffic police and Revenue department have been given powers to impose the penalty on the violators.
Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal administrated anti-pollution pledge to students and addressed civil defence volunteers at Chhatrasal stadium, who will be deployed across the city to assist officers at different locations.
Civil defence volunteers have been briefed about their role by Kejriwal during the 15-day of odd-even scheme starting January 1.
"Convince your parents, relatives and friends to follow the odd-even scheme. We are to do this not out of any imposition, but because it is important for our health and life. If you see anyone violating the odd-even scheme, just ask that person to go back home. If the same person receives 10 such remarks in a day, it would stir his conscience and persuade him to keep his car off the road," Kejriwal said, addressing the students at Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya in north Delhi's Civil Lines.

High time India, Pakistan set aside hostilities, says Nawaz Sharif............

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday said it is "high time" India and Pakistan set aside their hostilities even as he expressed confidence that the spirit of goodwill generated by his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi's visit to Lahore will persist.
"The Indian Prime Minister came to Lahore and gave us his few hours. It is high time the countries put aside their hostilities," Sharif said. "Goodwill gestures are the solution to many an ill," he told reporters at Zhob airport in Balochistan. Sharif also thanked Modi for visiting Lahore last week.
Modi had sprung a surprise when he visited Lahore on the occasion of Sharif's 66th birthday and his granddaughter's wedding on December 25. "It has been agreed that we will re-start the dialogue between Pakistan and India," Sharif said, adding that "progress is being made in bilateral negotiations with India".
The Pakistan premier's comments came a day after his Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said that foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan will meet in Islamabad on January 14-15 to prepare a schedule of meeting for the comprehensive dialogue covering Jammu and Kashmir and other issues. Sharif also expressed optimism that India-Pakistan ties would improve in the days ahead and the "spirit of goodwill generated with Modi's visit will continue to prevail".

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Mohammad Amir issue: PCB rejects angry captain's resignation,.............

Azhar Ali and Mohammad Amir
Pakistan has rejected one-day captain Azhar Ali's offer to resign over tainted team mate Mohammad Amir's presence at a Lahore training camp, the country's cricket board said on Tuesday.
Amir's return to the selection mix after serving a five-year ban for spot-fixing in the 2010 Lord's test has polarised Pakistan cricket with several of his team mates resenting his reintegration.
Azhar, along with former captain Mohammad Hafeez, initially refused to join the camp ahead of next month's limited-over matches in New Zealand but Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said the ODI skipper would stay on. "Azhar Ali met the chairman PCB (Shahryar Khan). He tendered his resignation," PCB said in a statement. "The chairman didn't accept his resignation, Azhar Ali agreed and he will continue as captain."
Amir, fellow fast bowler Mohammad Asif and former test captain Salman Butt served jail sentences in Britain after being found guilty in 2011 of various offences of corrupt behaviour. Former captain Imran Khan has backed Amir's return to international cricket but test skipper Misbah-ul-Haq feared the bowler's comeback would prove a big distraction for the team.
According to local media reports, former captain Shoaib Malik has been assigned to guide Amir on his comeback. 

Roch Marc Kabore sworn in as Burkina Faso presiden............

Roch Marc Kabore
Burkina Faso's constitutional court swore in Roch Marc Kabore as president on Tuesday, making the former prime minister the country's first new leader in decades following his election last month.

The ceremony conducted at a stadium in the capital marks a pivotal moment in a democratic transition in the West African country after veteran leader Blaise Compaore was overthrown in a popular uprising in October 2014. 

We want to make job-creators, not job-seekers: PM Modi...........

Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that the country is looking at creating job-creators and not job seekers.
He was speaking after inaugurating the National Conference of Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes entrepreneurs in New Delhi organised by Dalit Indian chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI) on the 125th birth anniversary of Dr B R Ambedkar. 
"We all know Baba Saheb as the man behind our constitution, but not many know him as a master economist," he said.
Modi added that "Ambedkar was right in saying that industrialisation will give maximum benefit to our dalit sisters and brothers."
While speaking at the conference he said, financial inclusion and making the bottom of the pyramid stronger is the ultimate aim. 
He said, so far, 80 lakh people have received loans from banks under the Prime Minister Mudra Yojna, without the guarantee of a single rupee. Most of these are dalits, OBCs and STs. 
While speaking at the Dalit commerce chamber, Modi also said, "Our government is your government; we're working for your empowerment."
The programme, which is being conducted to seek the support from the Centre in promoting entrepreneurship among Dalits, is being attended by more than 1200 Dalit entrepreneurs.
Prime Minister Modi has initiated several measures to boost entrepreneurship among youth, and especially among Dalits.

Rs 50,000-crore loans disbursed to small entrepreneurs under MUDRA: PM Modi.............

Narendra Modi
Underlining that financial inclusion is the government's core focus, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said banks have given loans worth Rs 50,000 crore to small entrepreneurs under the MUDRA Yojana.
Addressing Dalit entrepreneurs, he said, "80,000 borrowers have benefited from the scheme under which more than Rs 50,000 crore worth of loans have been given primarily to SC, ST, OBCs and women entrepreneurs who are engaged in small business and provide jobs to about 14 crore persons."
Speaking at the National Conference of SC/ST Entrepreneurs on B R Ambedkar's ideas and thoughts on industrialisation and entrepreneurship, Modi said it was quite difficult earlier for SC/ST entrepreneurs to get loans from banks.
Under Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY), loans between Rs 50,000 and Rs 10 lakh are provided to small entrepreneurs as an initiative to fund the unfunded.
"Financial inclusion is at the core of the government's focus, which is to create job-creators, not job-seekers," he said, adding that the strength of a pyramid depends on its base and the people at the base need to be empowered so that they can strengthen the Indian economy.
Modi hailed Babasaheb Ambedkar's contributions, saying that he was not only the architect of the Indian Constitution, but also an accomplished economist.
"Babasaheb rightly said that industrialisation will give maximum benefit to our Dalit sisters and brothers," he said, adding that people participating in the function pay crore of taxes and employ lakhs of youth.
To support businesses of SC/ST, the government has created Rs 200 crore venture capital fund with IFCI as the nodal agency. It has so far given loan worth Rs 144 crore to 28 businesses belonging to the SC/ST community. "Our Government is your Government. We are working for your empowerment," he said. 
The Prime Minister assured the Dalit entrepreneurs that the government is working for their benefit.
The successes of members at the gathering on Tuesday could inspire anyone who faces adversity, he said.
He expressed hope that Dalit entrepreneurs will be able to double in next two years what has been achieved in the last 10 years.
"This is possible because this is your government at the Centre," he said.
Modi recalled one of his "Mann Ki Baat" programmes, where he had exhorted people to talk not just about their rights, but also about their duties.
He said that this gathering of Dalit entrepreneurs is one which has not just talked about their duties, but has successfully fulfilled them.The Prime Minister presented five business excellence awards to Dalit entrepreneurs.
Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI) founder Milind Kamble said that the body is working for the growth of Dalit entrepreneurs.It is also working with other chambers on affirmative action, he said.
Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot said that last year about 1.5 lakh person belonging to SC/ST were trained.
He said the ministry has identified about 7,500 persons engaged in manual scavenging and they have been given a grant of Rs 40,000 to look for small business opportunities.

Drone gets too close to US President Obama's motorcade in Hawaii..............

Barack Obama
A recreational drone on Monday got a little too close to US President Barack Obama's motorcade in Hawaii, according to reports.
The drone was spotted flying alongside Obama's motorcade right after he had finished his golf outing and was heading back to his vacation home in Hawaii. Obama is currently in Hawaii with his family, wife Michelle Obama and their two teenage daughters, Sasha and Malia for vacation.
The Secret Service quickly jumped to action and found out that the pilot of the small drone had no idea that Obama's motorcade would be passing by in the area on Oahu, NBC News reported.
The statement said that the man, "immediately complied with law enforcement requests to cease and desist." No charges were filed regarding the incident. 

Monday, 28 December 2015

Russian President Vladimir Putin dissolves federal space agency, transfers control to government............

Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin has dissolved the Federal Space Agency Roscosmos, instead transferring its responsibilities to the Roscosmos state corporation, according to reports in international media.
The Russian government will "ensure the continuity of transfer of the powers and functions of the abolished federal space agency to the state corporation for space activities," the Kremlin said, in a statement released Monday, adding that the new entity will take charge on January 1, 2016.
The decision to liquidate the federal space agency and turn it into a state corporation was taken in January 2015, says IB Times. Igor Komarov, the CEO of United Rocket and Space Corporation, was at the time appointed as the head of Roscosmos."The Federal Law aims to improve the management system in the space sector and maintain and develop the space and rocket industry’s scientific and production potential in the interests of strengthening Russia’s defense and ensuring national security," the Kremlin had said in July.
The Russian space programme, pre-eminent during the Cold War and frequently a step ahead of the United States, declined after the fall of the USSR. In recent years, the programme is trying to recover from a series of major setbacks.Earlier this month, Russia said it lost one of its defense satellites after it failed to separate from the upper stage of a three-stage Soyuz rocket. Prior to that, a Proton rocket, carrying a Mexican communications satellite, developed a malfunction just eight minutes into the flight in May. The Soyuz rocket had already suffered a breakdown in the third stage of its launch in April.
Roscosmos was founded in 1992 after the breakup of the Soviet Union into its constituent republics and the establishment of the Russian Federation.

Asia stocks subdued as oil resumes fall............

Representational image
Asian stocks were subdued on Tuesday, with Japanese and South Korean equities slipping, after crude oil prices resumed their slide and cooled investor sentiment.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan were effectively unchanged, and looked set for a loss of around 12% for the year.
Japan's Nikkei lost 0.3% and South Korea's KOSPI fell 0.4%. Australian stocks bucked the trend and rose 0.4%.
On Monday, prices of both Brent and US crude dropped more than 3% , reversing a brief rebound and dragging US energy shares down 1.8% as the worst performing of the major S&P sectors.
Brent was at $36.60 a barrel, near an 11-year low of $35.98 struck last week.
The Dow dipped 0.1% and the S&P 500 lost 0.2% overnight after trading resumed following the Christmas break, but activity is expected to remain thin until after the long New Year holiday weekend.
In currencies, the dollar edged down 0.1% to 120.33 yen, within striking distance of a two-month low of 120.05 struck late last week.
The greenback has been sapped by profit taking after the Federal Reserve this month hiked interest rates for the first time in nine years. The currency market will wait for the Fed to send fresh signals about when the second rate hike could take place in 2016 for potential dollar support.
The euro nudged up 0.1% to $1.0977.
The dollar fared better against its Canadian counterpart, which was weighed down as crude oil prices weakened again.
The Canadian dollar stood little changed at C$1.3894 to the greenback after losing 0.7% overnight. The loonie fell to an 11-year low of C$1.4003 against the dollar earlier this month.
"We are looking for USD/CAD to break 1.40 and head towards 1.45 in the first half of 2016. The oil industry is experiencing its biggest downturn since the 1990s and prices could fall another $10 a barrel before bottoming," wrote Kathy Lien, managing director at BK Asset Management.
The Australian dollar gained 0.2% to $0.7262 while the New Zealand dollar rose 0.2% to $0.6859. Both currencies were confined to a narrow range ahead of the year's end. 

Shiv Sena warns Narendra Modi, calls Pakistan cursed land By Dna Correspondent.............

Slamming Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "political masterstroke" of paying a surprise visit to Lahore, the Shiv Sena warned that Indian politicians had their careers cut short after reaching out to Pakistan.
An editorial on Monday in the Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamna — which has party president Uddhav Thackeray as the editor and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut as the executive editor — said that "there is a superstition about politicians who hobnobbed with Pakistan being unable to continue for long in politics."
It pointed out to the rough pockets in the political careers of senior BJP leaders like former deputy prime minister LK Advani and former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee after the visit to Muhammed Ali Jinnah's tomb in Karachi and meeting with the then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf at Agra, respectively.
"The land of Pakistan is cursed. Hobnobbing with that cursed land is costly as the blood of lakhs of innocents has seeped into that land," the editorial claimed, adding that Modi had been "surprisingly brave" in his outreach to that country.
The Shiv Sena questioned if the BJP would have welcomed a similar initiative like that taken by Modi in case it had been launched by a Congress prime minister.

14-year-old girl allegedly gang-raped by armymen on Howrah-Amritsar Express..............

A minor girl alleged that two Army jawans raped her on Monday inside a compartment of the Howrah-Amritsar Express, after being compelled to consume alcohol by a third jawan, an RPF official said here.
The 14-year-old girl, in her statement to the RPF, said that she had boarded the train from Howrah Junction.
In the train compartment, she alleged that she was first forced to drink alcohol by a jawan and then raped by two others, according to RPF sub-inspector P Jani.
He said, they got a message from RPF Howrah, which received a complaint from the girl's father that his daughter has allegedly 'fled' and travelling by the train.
After receiving message, RPF raided the train when it reached Madhupur railway station.
It was searched thoroughly and the girl was found from the compartment, the official said, adding that a jawan, who had forced her to drink liquor, was arrested.
The other two accused were absconding, he said.
The girl had been sent to a hospital for a medical test.

Hyderabad becomes first airport to offer e-boarding facility to domestic fliers................

Hyderabad International Airport
Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) at Hyderabad became the first airport in India to go live on e-boarding for all domestic passengers. On Monday, Union Minister for Civil Aviation Ashok Gajapathi Raju inaugurated seamless E-boarding facility, built in-house by GMR Hyderabad Airport Limited (GHIAL).
After getting the approval from Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) under the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) in August 2015, GHIAL implemented the E-boarding process for all domestic passengers at RGIA. With this, the airport has embarked on providing a whole new experience to the domestic passengers. The innovative end-to-end E-boarding process has triggered a paradigm shift in air passenger handling process in the country. 
E-boarding solution at RGIA fully eliminates the need to manual stamping of boarding cards even for physical boarding cards issued by CUSS (Common Use Self Service) machines or the check-in counters.  Further, it covers end-to-end all the key passenger processes at the airport viz. starting from entry to terminal and including check-in, security check, boarding gate and finally the boarding bridge check before entering the aircraft.
With the implementation of E-boarding at RGIA, now a domestic passenger flying from the airport will need only a mobile E-boarding card and his Aadhaar Card Number to gain entry into the airport. However, the system is equally compatible with other conventional modes as well and one can use the boarding card issued by CUSS machine or check-in counters also. Further, fliers would have flexibility to follow the traditional process of showing a photo-ID to gain entry into the airport in case the Aadhaar number is not available.
The process leads to ‘Enhanced Security’ where in passenger details are checked online with Airline DCS (Departure Control System) at Main Entry and Security Hold area for Authenticity thereby avoiding fake entries. Availability of High Definition CCTV cameras at strategic locations ensures a high level of security.  This automated facility promises a better environment as it is paperless and requires lesser manual interface. 
From entry into the terminal, to boarding the aircraft, a passenger needs to only use E-boarding card. Movement through this channels ensures that the passenger’s movements are tracked electronically (with timestamp) and through dedicated HD CCTV cameras at each of these checkpoints. This enhances the security at the airport by adding an extra layer of technologically advanced tracking to the existing security apparatus.
The process of E-boarding is seamless and integrated with the passengers’ name list from the airline. This also makes it very easy to check whether the passenger is actually at the airport or not. Timings of the entry to the airport and the other touch points are recorded, which help RGIA to continuously enhance its operational efficiency. Since the entry through E-boarding is time bound and guided as per regulations, the E-Boarding Reader machine does not allow the passengers inside the terminal before the stipulated time, thus reducing congestion inside the airport.

Ronaldo's agent reveals the club where the he will retire........

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo will call curtains on his illustrious career at Real Madrid, according to the Portuguese international's agent.
The 30-year-old, who has won prestigious Ballon d'Or three times, has been linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain or former club Manchester United in recent times.
"I am sure that he (Ronaldo) will play the next four, five, six or seven years at Real Madrid. He will end his career there," Jorge Mendes was quoted as saying by
"He's happy with Los Blancos. He'll hang up his boots when he's 40," the agent insisted while describing Ronaldo as the best player of all time.

Ronaldo's contract with Madrid expires in June 2018. 

Zuckerberg makes renewed pitch for Free Basics service..............

Mark Zuckerberg, Google, Reliance Communications, Net Neutrality, Free Basics, facebook free basics, Web Exclusive
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg today made renewed pitch for its controversial Free Basics Internet service in yet another marketing blitz saying it protects net neutrality.
Facebook's proposed Free Basics plan allows customers to avail of services like education, healthcare and employment listings through apps specially designed for this platform on their phones without a data plan but does not allow access to many services such as YouTube, Gmail, Google or Twitter.
Zuckerberg appeared on a video to personally promote Free Basics and also wrote a personal appeal in one of the leading newspapers.
While Free Basics allows users to access a small number of Web services without charge, it has been criticised by some for alleged violation of the principle of net neutrality, a concept that all Internet traffic should be treated equally.
"We believe that connectivity is a human right and that getting connectivity for the world is one of the fundamental challenges of our generation. When people are connected, we can accomplish some pretty amazing things.
We can get closer to the people that we care about, we can get access to new jobs and opportunities and ideas. We can receive education and health care and communication and access to new services," he said in the video post.
He said connectivity can't just be a privilege for some of the rich and powerful and needs to be something that everyone shares and an opportunity for everyone. "I hope you will join us in doing this."
Keen to tap the world's largest offline population, Zuckerberg in an opinion piece in the daily compared Free Basics to a library which houses only a selection of books as well as to public healthcare and education.
"Everyone also deserves access to the tools and information that can help them to achieve all those other public services, and all their fundamental social and economic rights. That's why everyone also deserves access to free basic Internet services," he wrote.
Critics, however, said Free Basics violates the principle of net neutrality by offering some services for free, giving them an advantage over competitors. Also, Facebook acts as a gatekeeper for Free Basics, permitting some services, while rejecting others.
Telecom regulator TRAI has already asked Reliance Communications, Facebook's Free Basics partner in India, to suspend the services temporarily.
It has also sought comments by December 30 on a consultation paper on allowing service providers to charge different pricing for data usage on websites, applications and platforms.

Mumbai Congress journal editor sacked after saying Sonia Gandhi's father had fascist links...........

Sonia Gandhi
In perhaps an inevitable fallout to the massive embarrassment Congress party faced when party mouthpiece said Sonia Gandhi's father has fascist links, now the editor has been sacked.
Content editor Sudhir Joshi has faced the boot and Mumbai Congress President Sanjay Nirupam has apologised for the article.
An article published by the party's Mumbai unit earlier caused stir for blaming Jawaharlal Nehru for the state of affairs in Kashmir, China and Tibet.  
The article in the December issue of 'Congress Darshan' said that Sonia Gandhi's father was a member of the fascist forces in Italy, adding that Sonia Gandhi registered as a primary member of the Congress in 1997 and became the party’s president in 62 days.
The article, which does not bear the name of the writer, had been published in the Hindi edition as a tribute piece to mark Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's death anniversary on December 15.
According to a report published in a leading tabloid, the article stated that Nehru should have listened to freedom fighter and former home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s views on international affairs.
After the controversy broke, Congress readily disassociated itself from the views of the article. Now content editor has faced the axed.
The article also stated that, despite Patel getting the post of deputy prime minister and home minister, the relations between the two leaders remained strained, and both had threatened to resign time and again. If Nehru had embraced Patel's foresight, many problems in international affairs would not have arisen, it adds.
The article also cited a letter that Patel reportedly wrote in 1950 to caution Nehru against China's policy towards Tibet where "Patel described China as unfaithful, and a future enemy of India."
“Had Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel been heard then (by Nehru), the problems of Kashmir, China, Tibet and Nepal wouldn’t have existed now. Patel opposed Nehru’s move of taking the Kashmir issue to the UNO,” stated the article, adding, “Nehru did not agree with Patel’s views on Nepal.”
Congress Mumbai chief Sanjay Nirupam on Monday apologised for criticism and said that action would be taken against the people responsible in the editorial team.
"Some words that have been used in some articles of 'Congress Darshan' are certainly objectionable. I accept the mistake. Action will be taken against people in editorial team who are responsible for this mistake," Nirpuam said.

Kabul suicide attack: One killed, 18 children among 33 injured............

Kabul attack
A Taliban suicide bomber killed at least one person and wounded 33 on Monday in an attack on a road near a school close to Kabul airport, officials in the Afghan capital said, two weeks after a major insurgent assault in the city.
The ministry of public health said 18 children, many of whom had been studying in a nearby madrassa, or religious school, were among the injured. Many were apparently hurt by flying glass as the blast shattered windows.
Kabul police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi said the attack had taken place in an overwhelmingly civilian area with no military targets nearby.
"Enemies of humanity detonated a suicide car bomb in front of a madrassa where children were learning the Koran and Islamic studies," he said. "It shows that they are enemies of mosques, God and the Koran."
The windows of nearby shops were smashed and debris was strewn across the street. The attack, the latest in a series of suicide bombings, came a day after the powerful head of Pakistan's army, General Raheel Sharif, visited Kabul for talks intended to lay the groundwork for a resumption of peace talks with the Taliban.
The Taliban said in a statement the suicide attack had targeted a minibus it said was used to transport Americans and Europeans from a military base to the airport, killing 10 foreigners and three of their Afghan associates. The Taliban often exaggerate casualty tolls in attacks on Afghan and foreign forces.
A spokesman for NATO's Resolute Support mission in Kabul said no member of the mission had been involved in the incident.
Taliban insurgents have claimed a number of attacks this month, including an assault on a Spanish embassy guesthouse in the capital that began on Dec. 11 and a suicide bombing near Bagram air base that killed six American troops last week.
They have also been involved in heavy fighting in their historic heartland in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan, where they have been battling government forces for weeks for control of Sangin district.

Govt decides to limit LPG subsidy for tax payers earning over Rs 10 lakh............

Representational Image
Govt decides to limit LPG subsidy for tax payers earning over Rs 10 lakh
Tax payers with annual income of more than Rs 10 lakh will not get subsidised cooking gas (LPG) from next month as the government on Monday decided to limit supply of under-priced fuel to cut subsidies.
At present, all households are entitled to get 12 cylinders of 14.2-kg each at subsidised rate of Rs 419.26, while the market price is Rs 608.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had appealed to the public at large to those who can afford LPG to voluntarily give up using subsidised LPG and instead buy cooking fuel at market price so that the subsidies can be passed on to those in dire need. 
While many consumers have given up subsidy voluntarily, it is felt that consumers in the higher income bracket should get LPG cylinders at the market price," the Petroleum ministry said while addressing various media organisations. 
The government, it said, "has decided that the benefit of the LPG subsidy will not be available for LPG consumers if the consumer or his/her spouse had taxable income of more than Rs 10 lakh during the previous financial year.
"The government has decided that the benefit of the LPG subsidy will not be available for consumers if the consumer or his/her spouse had taxable income of more than Rs 10,00,000/- during the previous financial year computed as per the Income Tax Act, 1961,” the Petroleum ministry said while addressing to various media organisations.
So far, over 57.5 lakh LPG consumers, out of nearly 15 crore customers, have given up subsidies.
This would, however, be done initially on a "self-declaration basis while booking cylinders from January 2016 onwards."
To cut the subsidy bill and reduce fiscal deficit, the previous UPA government had restricted the number of subsidised domestic cylinders per household to six every year in September 2012, revising it to nine the following January.
The cap was revised in January 2014 to 12 cylinders a year, starting April 1. The subsidy for 12 cylinders in a year is transferred directly to the bank account of consumers which they use to buy LPG at market rate.
The subsidy payout on LPG in 2014-15 was Rs 40,551 crore, which this fiscal will be less than half as oil prices have slumped to a six-year low. During April-September, the subsidy outgo was Rs 8,814 crore.
Currently, there are no estimates of how many LPG customers may have a taxable income of Rs 10 lakh or more.
This year, in April, PM Narendra Modi's LPG subsidy campaign-- 'give it up'- to exhort the better off sections of society to forego their LPG subsidy that can be utilised in providing subsidised LPG connections to the poor.
Urging the well-off to give up their LPG subsidy, he said "gas cylinders surrendered by them would be transferred to the poor who use wood for cooking. If one crore people give up their LPG subsidy, one crore poor people will benefit as they will be given new LPG cylinders instead.