Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Park Geun-hye Korean Prez first visitor to Indian Pavilion at Seoul Book Fair

President of the Republic of Korea is the First Visitor to India Pavilion
at Seoul International Book Fair 2013
 'The first visitor to Pavilion put up by India, the Guest of Honour country at Seoul International Book Fair 2013, was Ms. Park Geun-hye, Honourable President of the Republic of Korea, who was received by Shri Jitin Prasada, Hon'ble Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Government of India. Shri Prasada showed her the India Pavilion, which has a huge replica of Sanchi Gate as the main entrance. Shri Prasada also gifted to the President the first copy of the graphic novel 'Sriratna & Kim Suro: The Legend of an Indian Princess in Korea' published by National Book Trust, India, the nodal agency for the co-ordination of Guest of Honour programmes at Seoul International Book Fair. Written by N. Parthasarathi and illustrated by Soumitra Dasgupta, the book tells the story of the Princess Sriratna marrying King Kim Suro of Korea in AD 48. Together they founded the Gaya Kingdom in Korea. The President showed keen interest in the Buddha sculpture and the Buddhist Literature and Exhibition of Books on Mahatma Gandhi. Among the stopovers at the huge India Pavilion spread over 1000 square metres was a corner dedicated to the books on Indian Cinema.

Later, Shri Jitin Prasada, Hon'ble Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Government of India, who is leading a delegation of 40 Indian publishing professionals including many CEOs and MDs of publishing houses, six authors, and senior officials, formally inaugurated the India Pavilion by releasing the above Graphic Novel and ten books of National Book Trust, India brought out in Korean translation. Speaking on the occasion, Shri Jitin Prasada stated, “I am sure Indian publishers present here will seek opportunity to have strong tie-ups in the field of publishing children literature, digital publishing, Indology and Buddhist Literature.” Complimenting the efforts of National Book Trust, India for putting up a ‘magnificent India Pavilion’, Shri Prasada stated, “The range of books that have been put on display, alongwith the colourful posters, have spread very vibrant feelings.”

Shri A. Sethumadhavan, Chairman, in his welcome speech hoped that the present presentation of India at SIBF would create a better perception about Indian publishing and literary scene in Korea. Shri Vishnu Prakash, Ambassador of India to Korean and Mr. Eric Yang, Executive Director, Korean Publishers’ Association also spoke on the occasion. Shri M A Sikandar, Director, NBT proposed a vote-of-thanks after a Kathak dance performance organised by Indian Cultural Centre, Embassy of India.

Later in the day, an illustrators’ workshop with 25 Korean children was organised, wherein the children illustrated the story of Ms. Geeta Dharmarajan under the supervision of the eminent artist Mr. Suddhosatwa Basu.

Rain flash flood wreck Uttarkhand


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi will on Wednesday make an aerial survey of rain-ravaged areas in Uttarkhand where flash floods have claimed over a hundred lives and left thousands of pilgrims for Himalayan shrines stranded. Rains for more than four days specifically continuos down pour for more than 56 hours has enhanced the flow of rivers thus give rise to flash floods and landslips,  the monsoon fury left  more than thousand persons dead,  even as 2700 pilgrims and locals were rescued from Rudraprayag and Chamoli districts. Some chopper were pressed into actions and many persons were brought to the safe places. Many villages have been submerged, SSB academy of paramilitary force near Srinagar of Uttrakhand and many localities have caved with mud entering the campus and destroying habitable conditions.

The weather cleared in most places in the north making it easier for rescue personnel to launch operations for those stranded, especially in Badrinath shrine where 12,000 pilgrims are still stuck.
Disaster Management authorities said in Chamoli that eight bodies were recovered by villagers late last evening from Bansinarayan area of Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary.
They seem to have perished on Sunday itself in the downpour that lashed the area while they were in search of Kira Jari, a rare aphrodisiac found in the alpine grassland of the sanctuary.
Chamoli Additional District Magistrate Sanjay Kumar said 1500 pilgrims and locals have been evacuated so far from Ghanghariya, Duendhar and Pulna from near Hemkund Sahib in the district to Joshimath relief camps.
With the improvement in weather many more stranded pilgrims are likely to be evacuated to safety by the evening, he said adding evacuation of pilgrims from Badrinath is next on their agenda where 12000 persons are still stranded.
1200 persons have also been evacuated from Kedarnath, an official in Rudraprayag said.
The officials said evacuating people to safer places is their priority as recovery of bodies can be taken up later.
A total of 110 people have been killed in Uttarakhand. Rescue operations were also on in rain-ravaged tribal Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh for the second day on Wednesday and two IAF and one state chopper is evacuating stranded people at various points in Kinnaur district and adjoining Kaza area of Spiti.
About 140 people were rescued yesterday from Sangla Valley and Rekong Peo and dropped at Rampur and helicopter sorties have been planned for Pooh and Kaza also.
A large number of people including a Doordarshan team and some other reporters was stranded at Pooh, which received snow and rains on Sunday and Monday and a chopper is being sent to bring them.
“The exact number of people stranded at various locations was not known but priority is to evacuate tourists and the aged and ailing persons first,” HP Principal Secretary (Home), Tarun Sridhar said.
The situation created by the heavy rains and floods in the state was discussed at the Congress Core Group meeting on Wednesday morning.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram told reporters after the meeting that the situation in Uttarakhand is better than what it was on Tuesday and Food Minister K V Thomas is taking steps to rush more food grains to the flood-hit Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
“The objective is to ensure that food grains and food packets are available to the affected people. On the food issue, a number of decisions were taken,” he said.
On the steps being initiated by the government to provide succour to the victims, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said that IAF helicopters have been deployed to evacuate stranded people from Gaurikund in Uttarakhand while a control centre has been established in Badrinath.
ITBP has given shelter to about 6,400 people at Joshimath, he said.
“Fourteen teams comprising 540 persons of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been deployed in Uttarakhand. 62,790 people are stranded in Uttarakhand. 5000 people have been rescued by the Army,” the Home Minister said.
Both Dr. Singh and Gandhi had on Tuesday written to Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna and the government has assured him all assistance in rescue and relief operations.
Gandhi, who had also spoken to Shinde and Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, has sought “timely and prompt” relief measures in the two states.
Shinde said that Gandhi and the Prime Minister will be undertaking the aerial survey this afternoon.
The Prime Minister had on Tuesday directed agencies of the central government to assist in rescue and relief operations.
The Congress President had on Tuesday asked the two Chief Ministers and the Home Minister to ensure that arrangements for communication and travel were made for the stranded tourists and visitors from other states.
“The (Core Group) meeting was confined to the emergency relief operations in flood-affected areas… We were briefed about the various relief measures by both the Home Minister and the Food Minister,” Chidambaram said.
He said that while food grain stocks are available in both Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, the food minister is taking steps to rush more food grains for these states.
A statement on the relief measures will be made by the Prime Minister’s Office, he said, adding that the situation is better and some roads have been reopened by the Army, ITBP and the Border Roads Organisation.
“The number of people evacuated would by now be 10,000. The relief operations are underway,” the Finance Minister said
Organizing for Action
Naresh --

This just actually happened:

The House of Representatives passed one of the most unbelievable, unconstitutional attacks on women's health in a long time.

It's a bill written by Republican Arizona Congressman Trent Franks, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks, except in extremely limited circumstances -- a direct legislative challenge to Roe v. Wade.

And 228 members of Congress just voted for it.

Maybe they weren't paying attention to the reaction of Americans across the country last year who rejected candidates who wanted to restrict a woman's access to safe, affordable health care.

That's a message they need to hear loud and clear right now -- if you think politicians have no right to get between a woman and her health decisions, add your name and say you won't stand for it.

This bill made it out of the House Judiciary Committee thanks to the votes of 23 Republicans -- all men, of course.

And Rep. Franks objected when opponents tried to raise the issue of rape, saying, " know, the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low."

Women made their voices very clear last year when it came to the extreme positions that some elected officials took on women's health. But that hasn't stopped conservative politicians from trying to repeal Obamacare, block the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, and push an agenda that uses terminology like "legitimate rape."

Making progress on smart health policy isn't easy, but when Congress is spending its time actively trying to chip away at a woman's rights, it feels impossible.

We can't just sit back and hope it goes away -- we need to speak up.

OFA supporters are going to be on the front lines reminding Congress we're here and we care about women's health.

Join the fight today:



Lindsay Siler
National Director of Issue Campaigns
Organizing for Action

World News Snippet


Four US soldiers were killed in Afghanistan Tuesday, just hours after officials announced top State Department brass would begin peace talks with the Taliban. The Americans were hit by “indirect fire,” US officials said, from insurgents at Bagram air base, located not far from Kabul, the location of the largest US military base in Afghanistan. A precondition for the peace talks was for the Taliban to stop attacking US troops and members of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s administration. Also included was the requirement that the Taliban renounce al-Qaeda, although that condition was withdrawn. On Tuesday NATO forces passed responsibility for the security of the entire country entirely to Afghan security forces.


A class action lawsuit has been filed against the owners of McDonald’s stores in the state of Pennsylvania over their strict policy of compensating employees via a payroll debit card, which plaintiffs allege came with a slew of extra fees. According to Natalie Gunshannon, a former employee, when she requested to be paid by check instead of a JP Morgan Chase payroll card she was told the card was the only way for her to receive her wages. Gunshannon, a single mother who earned $7.44 per hour, says the payroll card forced her to incur fees for ATM withdrawals, over-the-counter cash withdrawals, and even to check her balance. The payroll debit card system has also been embraced by companies such as Walmart, Lowe’s, The Home Depot and FedEx Corp.

PM Dr Singh advisor called by CBI:
PM Manmohan Singh’s advisor T K A Nair will soon be called by the CBI to record his statement in the coal blocks allocation scam case even as the agency summoned former Coal Secy H C Gupta and quizzed two former PMO officials.
CBI sources on Tuesday said agency will soon call Nair to record his statement as witness in connection with alleged irregularities in the allocations made during 2006 to 2009.
In a related move, CBI has asked former Coal Secretary H C Gupta, who recently resigned as member of Competition Commission of India, to appear before it for questioning in the case on Thursday.
The agency is likely to question him about the clearances for the allocation of coal blocks given by Screening Committee which was chaired by him on several occassions.
Meanwhile, the agency has recorded the statements of two officials–Vini Mahajan and Ashish Gupta–who were posted in the Prime Minister’s Office during 2006 and 2009, the sources said, adding they had been questioned as witnesses in the case.
During that period, the Prime Minister was handling the charge of Coal Ministry.
Mahajan, a 1987-batch IAS officer from Punjab cadre, was a Director with the PMO during the period and has now been repatriated back to the state where she is Principal Secretary level officer.
Gupta, an IPS-officer of 1989-batch from Uttar Pradesh cadre, who was the vigilance officer in the PMO, has also gone back to his cadre.
Gupta being the Coal Secretary was the de-facto Chairman of the Screening Committee which allocated coal blocks during 2006-09, the sources said.

Supreme Court invalidates Arizona voting ID law
The US Supreme Court struck down an Arizona law that would have required potential voters to take an extra step in proving their citizenship before participating in a national election. The lead plaintiff in the case was an Arizona school janitor named Jesus Gonzalez, who tried to register to vote upon gaining citizenship but was twice denied by state officials who, despite being provided with a legal driver’s license, claimed there was no way to verify his naturalization number with the Department of Homeland Security. Current federal law allows citizens to register to vote online, threatening perjury for lying. The Arizona law would have also required a citizen to provide a passport, birth certificate, or other proof of citizenship. The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in favor of Gonzalez in the decision announced Monday.

Libya exclusion law to violates rights – UN
A new law introduced in Libya which bans anyone linked to the Gaddafi regime from power is in violation of political and civil rights, the UN’s envoy to the African country said Tuesday.  Tarek Mitri, also told the UN Security Council that despite strong political support, the new legislature jeopardizes the state institutions following the 2011 civil war. “This escalation in exerting pressure set a dangerous precedent in its resort to the use of military force in order to extract political concessions,” Mitri said.

5.6 magnitude quake hits Peru’s capital
A 5.6 magnitude earthquake has rocked Lima the capital of Peru, Peru’s geological survey reported. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damages from the quake. The epicenter was located in the Pacific Ocean about 73 kilometers west of the city.

Brazil’s president praises peaceful protests
 Brazil’s president said that the voices of thousands of protestors rallying across the country must be heard, AFP reports. “My government is listening to these voices for change,” President Dilma Rousseff said in an address at the presidential palace. “My government wants to broaden access to education and health, understands that the demands of the people change,” she added. The demonstrations were triggered by the increase in public transportation costs and the cost of hosting sporting events such as the World Cup. The protesters took to the streets of major cities across Brazil starting last week. The rallies are reportedly the biggest protests the country has seen in decades.

UN chief urges ‘maximum restraint’ in Turkey
 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed dismay at the violent confrontations in Turkey between Turkish security forces and protesters demonstrating against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. The Secretary General“urged maximum restraint” and the pursuit of constructive dialogue to avoid any further violent confrontation in the country, Reuters cites a UN spokesman as saying. Erdogan has dismissed international criticism over force used to stamp out the nationwide demonstrations, vowing he would increase police powers to deal with the unrest.

Suicide bomber kills 30 in Pakistan
 Thirty killed by a suicide bomber at a funeral of a businessman in Mardan in the northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan, police said. A provincial legislator Imran Mohmand was killed in the bombing. The legislator, formerly associated with Awami National Party known for its anti-Taliban stance, was allegedly the target of the bombing. The province was previously controlled by the ANP before politician Imran Khan won a majority there in May. Khan’s party favor holding talks with the Taliban. A Taliban spokesman denied to comment whether its militants were responsible for the bombing.

Double suicide bomb attack kills at least 31 in Iraq
 At least 31 people have been killed and 57 wounded in two apparently coordinated suicide bomb attacks in the Iraqi capital, according to police. The first blast occurred at a checkpoint about 100 meters from a Shiite Muslim mosque in northern Baghdad. The second suicide bomber detonated himself just minutes later inside the building, among worshipers who were gathering for the prayer, a local policeman told Reuters.  There has been a rise in sectarian attacks in Iraq in recent months, with May becoming the deadliest month since 2006-2007 sectarian war: over 1,000 people were killed.

Israel freezes new buildings in West Bank settlements
 Israel has halted the construction of new buildings in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to Housing Minister Uri Ariel. The step will not impact construction that is already underway, he added. Settlement construction on territory that the Palestinians seek as part of an independent state was the main reason for the breakdown of US-sponsored talks in 2010, and has been cited as a stumbling block in Secretary of State John Kerry’s latest bid to restart negotiations.

Yahoo reports 13,000 data requests from US law enforcement
 Yahoo has reported that US law enforcement agencies made 12-13,000 requests for data between December 2012 and May 31, 2013. ”The most common of these requests concerned fraud, homicides, kidnappings, and other criminal investigations,” Yahoo said, stating that the remaining requests were made under the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Death toll from MERS virus climbs to 32 in Saudi
 Four more people have died from the MERS virus in Saudi Arabia, bringing the death toll from the disease to 32, according to the country’s health ministry. Two people died in the western city of Taif, with the other two were pronounced dead in Eastern Province, where most of the infections so far have been reported. Three more cases have also been confirmed of the virus dubbed MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus) by the World Health Organization.

State-owned Greek radio, TV broadcaster ERT reopens after court win
 Greek broadcaster ERT is set to reopen following its shutdown by the government a few days ago. Authorities insisted that the closure of the 75-year-old broadcaster was a temporary measure aimed at reforming the company and re-launching it in a more efficient form, citing overstaffing and wasted public money as the reasons for the move. The closure triggered a 24-hour strike and mass protests.

President Karzai announces Afghan security takeover
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has announced that the nascent Afghan armed forces will be taking over for NATO in the fight against the country’s Taliban insurgency. A ceremony was held to mark the transfer of security responsibilities of the last 95 districts from NATO control.This will be the first time since the invasion of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union in 1989 that security responsibilities will be completely under Afghan control. The full withdrawal of alliance troops is scheduled for 2014.

Arrest of Montreal Mayor dents Canada’s no-corruption record
 A Quebecois anti-corruption task force arrested Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum on Monday over fraud allegations, tarnishing Canada’s image as a corruption-free country. Since 2006, Canada has placed on Transparency International’s yearly top-10 corruption perception index. Meanwhile, Rob Ford, the mayor of Toronto, Canada’s biggest city, is being investigated for allegations he smoked crack cocaine, and Canadian PM Stephen Harper is dealing with the fallout of a recent Senate expenses scandal.

Bombs blast strikes Kabul amid security handover
 A bomb exploded in the Afghan capital Kabul as NATO forces handed over security responsibilities to Afghanistan’s nascent national army. The attack targeted the convoy of Afghanistan’s second vice president Mohammed Mohaqiq, destroying one police vehicle, a police officer told AFP. There were no immediate reports of casualties. Alliance forces are due to complete the security handover by 2014.

Navy football players to be charged with rape – report
 Three football players at the US Naval Academy will be charged with the rape of a female midshipman, according to a report from the Capital Gazette. The three men are accused of raping the younger cadet after a night of partying at the school, which is governed by military law, in Annapolis, Maryland in April of 2012. The female cadet said she was forced to take her allegations public after the Academy “brushed away” her complaints and she was “ostracized” on campus. The three suspects could face a court-martial. Sexual assault has been described as “rampant” in every branch of the US military, with President Obama and Congressional leaders calling for a solution to the epidemic.


The US Defense Department announced Monday it will buy 30 Russian-made military helicopter to be used by Afghan security forces, Reuters reported Monday. The aircraft will cost $572 million and be used for counter-narcotics, special operations, and anti-terrorism measures in the Middle Eastern nation. Russia has long sold the Pentagon aircraft, fulfilling an “urgent, near-term need to purchase MI-17 helicopters,” a Defense Department announced earlier this year after a previous order was made public. The MI-17 was first introduced by the Soviet Union in 1977 but has found consistent use in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, where US troops have used it in training exercises.
Media agencies

Competitiveness, climate, security Finn’s priorities Ministry of Finance release Finnish road map of EU presidency. Finland i...