Saturday, July 20, 2013

Happening around the world

20072013

 

Suicide bomber kills 20 in Iraq Sunni mosque

 

 
A suicide bomber blew himself up inside a Sunni mosque in central Iraq, killing at least 20 people in the middle of a sermon on Friday, police and medics said.

The explosion took place in the town of Wajihiya in the ethnically and religiously diverse province of Diyala, which has seen an increasing number of attacks in recent weeks. 
It was not clear who was behind the blast, which appeared to be part of a sustained campaign of militant attacks that has prompted fears of wider conflict in a country where ethnic Kurds and Shia and Sunni Muslims have yet to find a stable power-sharing compromise. 
Sectarian tensions have been inflamed by the civil war in neighbouring Syria, which has drawn in Shia and Sunni fighters from Iraq and beyond to fight on opposite sides of the conflict. 
Sunni Islamist insurgents, including the al-Qaida-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq, have been regaining strength in recent months, security sources say. 
More than 460 people have been killed in militant attacks in July so far, according to violence monitoring group Iraq Body Count.

Venezuela ends rapprochement talks with Washington over US ‘meddling’

Caracas brought talks with the US to an abrupt end over statements made by Samantha Power, the nominee for UN ambassador. Venezuela blasted Washington for backing Power’s “meddling agenda” after she criticized human rights in the country.

 
Russian opposition leader Navalny released

 

 
A Russian Court on Friday released opposition leader Alexei Navalny from custody less than 24 hours after he was convicted of embezzlement and sentenced to five years in prison.

The release came after a surprise request by prosecutors, who said that because Navalny is a candidate in this fall’s Moscow mayoral race keeping him in custody would deny him his right to seek election. 
The release, under the condition that he not travel outside Moscow, will extend until appeals of his conviction are completed. 
After the Friday decision, a smiling Navalny emerged from the caged-off defendants’ section of the courtroom and thanked supporters who held protest rallies on Thursday after his conviction. 
Presentation of the appeal and the decision by the court for the Kirov region took little more than an hour, a sharp contrast to the droning 3 hour verdict reading and sentencing in a lower court the previous day. 
Navalny, a popular blogger and corruption-fighting lawyer, rose to prominence among the opposition during a series of massive protests in Moscow against President Vladimir Putin’s re-election to a third presidential term in March 2012. 
The conviction prompted criticism from the United States and the European Union. 
Navalny began his rise to prominence by blogging about his investigations into corruption at state-owned companies where he owned shares, reaching hundreds of thousands of people.

He and his team of lawyers and activists have plumbed property registers abroad to identify top officials and lawmakers who own undeclared foreign assets and hold foreign citizenship. 
Navalny’s blog quickly became an Internet sensation not only because of his exposures but because of its engaging illustrations, funny images and witty catchphrases.

It was Navalny who first called the dominant United Russia party “the party of crooks and thieves,” a phrase that still dogs Kremlin loyalists. 
The opposition leader’s investigations targeted a wide circle of Putin loyalists, from members of Parliament to state bankers, threatening to discredit the system of governance he has built.
Detroit bankruptcy challenged in court 

 

 
Detroit’s bankruptcy was challenged in court by government workers fighting to protect their retirement benefits as Michigan’s governor insisted it is the only way for Motown to survive.  



A county judge ordered that the proceedings be halted because it violates the US state’s constitution, but it’s not clear how much weight that would carry in federal bankruptcy court.

The order was immediately appealed by Michigan’s attorney general on Friday. Saddled with more than USD 18 billion in debt and a shrunken tax base, the birthplace of the US auto industry has been so strapped for cash it can’t even keep the streetlights on.
“Now is the opportunity to stop 60 years of decline,” Governor Rick Snyder said at a news conference a day after approving the biggest municipal bankruptcy in American history.
“We will come out with a stronger, better Detroit and a format to grow this city. The citizens of not just this city but the state deserve it.” Once a bustling beacon of industrial might, the Motor City is now a poster child for urban decay, its landscape littered with abandoned skyscrapers, factories and homes.
Detroit has seen its population shrink by more than half from 1.8 million in 1950 to 685,000 today as crime, flight to the suburbs and the hollowing out of the auto industry ate away at its foundations.
The bankruptcy is expected to make it harder for municipalities in Michigan and other US states to borrow money, by undermining confidence in what used to be among the most trusted bonds available.
Snyder insisted there was no other “viable” option because the city is “broke,” with 38 percent of its budget spent on debt and pension obligations.
The situation in Detroit is being closely monitored by government workers across the country who are fearful that they too may see their retirement benefits slashed by cash-strapped states and cities.
About nine billion dollars of the city’s debt is owed to the pension funds and retiree health care benefits of the Detroit’s 10,000 employees and 20,000 retirees.
State-appointed emergency manager Kevyn Orr said the city simply does not have the money to cover all its outstanding debts.
“Yes, there are 10,000 employees. Yes, there are 20,000 retirees. But there are 700,000 citizens who don’t deserve 58 minute (police) response times,” Orr told reporters. 

Judge denies BP bid to deflect liability from 2010 Gulf spill


A federal judge has denied an attempt by oil giant BP to reduce its liability by billions of dollars in the massive 2010 spill in the Gulf of Mexico. “BP has not produced any evidence that would warrant the court taking the drastic step of shutting down the entire claims program,” said Judge Carl Barbie. BP said in a statement the ruling was “wrong under the law” and that a pause of all claims payments was prudent and necessary. Attorneys for BP asked Barbier on Tuesday to place a preliminary injunction to suspend payments on private claims until an investigation into alleged misconduct by the office overseeing the payment program was completed.

​Two civilians killed in rocket attack on Egypt’s Sinai


Two civilians have been killed and one wounded after militants fired rocket-propelled grenades at the El-Arish army checkpoint in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, medical sources said. One of those killed had his legs and head blown off, hospital sources told AFP. According to security sources, the assailants hit a residential house near the checkpoint by mistake.

Italian court convicts 3 of Berlusconi’s former aides


A Milan court has convicted three of Silvio Berlusconi’s ex-aides of procuring prostitutes for the media mogul’s infamous ‘bunga bunga parties’. The ex-Italian PM has already been sentenced to seven years with a ban on holding public office for paying for sex with former teenaged dancer Karima El Mahroug, known as Ruby the Heartstealer, when she was a minor. But due to the peculiarities of the Italian justice system, none of the sentences will take effect until all appeals have been exhausted.

Derailed Quebec train had ‘insufficient brake force’ – investigators


The braking force was insufficient on the train carrying crude oil which derailed, devastating a Quebec town and killing dozens, Reuters reported, citing investigators. Donald Ross, chief investigator at the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, said on Friday the TSB would ask the federal government to review its regulations to ensure that trains carrying dangerous goods are not left unattended on the track.

Berezovsky had unpaid taxes worth $151mn in UK – reports


Russian fugitive oligarch Boris Berezovsky, who died in London in March, owed 100 million pounds ($151 million) to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), media reports said Friday. Grant Thornton, which was entrusted to audit Berezovsky’s assets, told the court that the assets the Russian businessman left after his death are not enough to pay off his debts, Itar-Tass reported. Berezovsky, 67, was found dead by his employee at his Ascot home, Berkshire County, on March 23.

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood gathers thousands for Morsi rally


The Muslim Brotherhood mobilized followers to march in Cairo and elsewhere Friday for a protest dubbed “Breaking the Coup” in support for former President Mohamed Morsi. The Brotherhood claimed that supporters would take to the streets in 18 locations across the Egyptian capital following noon prayers. At least 400 protesters marched through northern Sinai Peninsula’s main city of el-Arish, CBS News reported. Pro-Morsi supporters also took to the streets in the northern coastal city of Alexandria and several Nile Delta cities.

British police find evidence of explosion at mosque


British counter-terrorism police said Friday they had found evidence of a three-week-old explosion outside a mosque in central England. The Wolverhampton central mosque was evacuated on Thursday night following the arrest of two Ukrainians suspected of involvement in explosions at two other mosques in the area. Police said debris from an explosion was found on a roundabout, and early indications suggested it had blown up on June 28, AFP reported. Two Ukrainian men aged 22 and 25 were arrested on Thursday as part of an investigation into explosions near mosques in the nearby towns of Tipton and Walsall.
13:19

Israel stations Iron Dome battery in Eilat


Israel has stationed an Iron Dome missile defense battery near the southern city of Eilat, the military said on Friday. The move comes amid growing instability in the Sinai region caused by unrest in Egypt. Iron Dome batteries are placed in different areas of Israel from time to time in response to the army’s assessment of security conditions, Israeli media quote an IDF spokesperson as saying.
12:47

Polish prosecutor, experts to examine presidential plane wreck again


A Polish prosecutor will travel with four experts to Russia next week in order to conduct an additional investigation of deceased President Lech Kaczynski’s plane that crashed near Smolensk, Russia in 2010. “Starting Monday, July 22, a prosecutor and four experts in physical and chemical evaluation will spend two weeks in Smolensk,” RIA Novosti quoted the spokesman for Poland’s Military Prosecutor’s Office, Captain Martzin Maksyan, as saying. The visit was approved by Russian authorities. The experts will inspect the crashed airplane’s seats and gather material for additional lab studies in Poland. A Polish Tu-154 plane carrying the former president, his wife, and officials crashed near Smolensk due to thick fog on April 10, 2010, killing 96 people.
5 killed in Turkey landslide
5 killed in Turkey landslide

A landslide triggered by heavy rains has killed at least five people near Turkey’s border with Syria, an official said. The landslide, which struck early Friday, demolished six hillside houses near the town of Dortyol in the border province of Hatay. At least 12 people were hurt. The government’s disaster management agency said at least nine people were rescued by helicopters. 
Media agencies 


 

 CIC ordered political parties to be brought under the purview of RTI Act-2005.
Then the Hon'ble Supreme court has struck down clause 8(4) of the RP Act thus disqualifying the criminal politicians from holding office once they are convicted by a court.
They have also debarred persons in police or judicial custody from contesting elections.
These are all what, we, the Anticorruption and clean governance activists have always wished for.
Now having got these things as a boon we choose to keep quiet. How ridiculous!
The politicians on the other hand are clamouring and planning all sort of protest incuding encouraging the ruling party to bring in presidential ordinance.They are also planning to raise these issues in the parliament.No doubt all these birds of the same feather will join together in such situations to ensure that they enjoy unbridled powers as politicians.This has to be countered.
It is time that all well meaning NGOs come together and raise their voice in support of the said orders of the CIC and supreme court 


Several of you have asked about the details of today's Supreme Court Judgement regarding the convicted MPs and MLAs. Petitions were filed in Supreme Court by Lily Thomas (WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 490 OF 2005) and an NGO Lok Prahari (WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 231 OF 2005) in 2005. 

The petitions asked the court to set aside the clause 8(4) of the Representative of the People Act because this clause allowed the sitting MPs and MLAs to continue to be elected representative even when they get convicted in a court of law. The petitions prayed that this special safeguard provided in the clause 8(4) is ultra vires to the constitution of India.

Senior Counsel Fali S. Nariman and S.N. Shukla (the General Secretary of Lok Prahari) appeared for Lily Thomas and Lok Prahari respectively during the hearings. 

    Following the Supreme Court judgment, many of you have asked us for data on
    the number of current legislators who have declared criminal cases against
    themselves. Please find the corresponding data below:

    The Supreme Court has today delivered a landmark verdict with regard to
    convicted MPs and MLAs. The judgment has ruled that a convicted elected
    representative cannot continue in office and the conviction will lead to
    instant disqualification of the elected representative.
    The safeguard provided under Section 8(4) of the Representation of the
    People Act,1951 has been struck down and declared ultra vires of
    Constitution. The Supreme Court has held that there cannot be two separate
    laws for elected representatives and contesting candidates.

    Please find below the analysis of criminal cases declared by sitting MPs
    and MLAs as put together by Association for Democratic Reforms(ADR) and
    National Election Watch(NEW). Also find attached a copy of the release with
    this email.

    *PRESS RELEASE** ** 10th July,2013*

    *
    *

    *Analysis of sitting MPs and MLAs with self declared Criminal Cases-
    Election Wise*

    *
    *

    Following are the salient features that emerge from the analysis carried
    out by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch
    (NEW):-

    · A total of 4807 sitting MPs and MLAs have been analyzed by ADR
    and NEW. A total of *1460 out of these 4807 (30%) sitting MPs and MLAs have
    declared criminal cases* against themselves in their self sworn affidavits
    submitted by them to the Election Commission of India prior to contesting
    elections. 688 (14%) out of the total number of sitting MPs and MLAs
    analyzed have declared serious criminal cases against themselves.

    · *162 (30%) out of the 543 Lok Sabha MPs have declared criminal
    cases* against themselves. 14% of the current Lok Sabha MPs have declared
    serious criminal cases against themselves.

    · *1258 (31%) out of the 4032 sitting MLAs* from all state
    assemblies have declared criminal cases against themselves. 15% of the
    current MLAs from all state assemblies have declared serious criminal cases
    against themselves.

    · The *Jharkhand 2009 Assembly has the highest percentage* of
    elected representatives (74%) who declared criminal cases against
    themselves. 55 out of 74 MLAs of the Jharkhand 2009 Assembly declared
    criminal cases against themselves.

    · Among the recent elections that have been covered by ADR and NEW,
    the *Bihar 2010* Assembly has 58% MLAs who have declared criminal cases
    against themselves. The *Uttar Pradesh 2012* Assembly has 47% MLAs with
    criminal cases.

    · None of the MLAs of the Manipur 2012 Assembly have declared
    criminal cases against themselves.

    *
    *

    *Analysis of sitting MPs and MLAs with self declared Criminal Cases- Party
    Wise*

    *
    *

    Following are the salient points that emerge from the analysis that was
    conducted by ADR and NEW:

    · *82% of MPs and MLAs* who have gotten elected on *JMM
    tickets*have declared
    *criminal cases* against themselves. *64%* of MPs and MLAs who have gotten
    elected on *RJD tickets* have declared criminal cases against themselves. *
    48%* of elected representatives who have gotten elected on *SP
    tickets*have declared criminal cases against themselves.

    · *31%* of MPs and MLAs who have gotten elected on *BJP
    tickets*have declared criminal cases against themselves (Out of the
    1017 MPs and
    MLAs from BJP, 313 have declared criminal cases). *21%* of MPs and MLAs who
    have gotten elected on *INC tickets* have declared criminal cases against
    themselves (Out of the 1433 elected representatives from INC, 305 have
    declared criminal cases against themselves). *
    *

    *
    *

    *National Election Watch/Association for Democratic Reforms:***

RTIs to State Political Parties: PDP & Panthers Party provide information 

Highlights:
  • Information asked in RTIs to State Political Parties: RTI applications to all State Recognized Political Parties asking questions on various issues such as Allotment of government land and government buildings for their offices and headquarters as well as on issues relating to the finances of political parties (sources of 10 Maximum Voluntary Contributions and sources of Voluntary Contributions greater than Rs. 1 Lakh).

  • 4 Political Parties Respond: Till date ADR has received responses from 4 Political Parties namelyPeoples Democratic Party (Jammu and Kashmir), Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers PartyAll India N.R.Congress (Puducherry) and Indian Union Muslim League (Tamil Nadu).

  • PDP Responds Positively: Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has provided detailed answers to all the questions. The PDP answers include details of Government allotted Offices and their areas, dates on which the offices were allotted, monthly rent being paid for their party offices, details of contributions received by them including the source of contribution, mode of contribution and the amount. Moreover, PDP has also provided us with Government Orders through which the allotments of office buildings were made to them.

  • Panthers Party also responds: Although the Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party has not denied any information, they have only provided it partially. But Panthers Party could have provided the information in a more suitable manner.

  • 2 Parties deny response to RTI: The two other parties to respond to our RTI, namely the All India N.R.Congress and the Indian Union Muslim League have both denied information, stating they are not under the ambit of the Right to Information Act and hence not obliged to furnish the information that has been requested from them. 


Analysis of sitting MPs and MLAs with self declared Criminal Cases- Election Wise
The table below provides details of the number of sitting MPs and MLAs who have declared criminal cases against themselves at the time of contesting elections. Following are the salient features that emerge from the analysis carried out by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch (NEW):-
·         A total of 4807 sitting MPs and MLAs have been analyzed by ADR and NEW. A total of 1460 out of these 4807 (30%) sitting MPs and MLAs have declared criminal cases against themselves in their self sworn affidavits submitted by them to the Election Commission of India prior to contesting elections. 688 (14%) out of the total number of sitting MPs and MLAs analyzed have declared serious criminal cases against themselves.
·         162 (30%) out of the 543 Lok Sabha MPs have declared criminal cases against themselves. 14% of the current Lok Sabha MPs have declared serious criminal cases against themselves.
·         1258 (31%) out of the 4032 sitting MLAs from all state assemblies have declared criminal cases against themselves. 15% of the current MLAs from all state assemblies have declared serious criminal cases against themselves.
·         The Jharkhand 2009 Assembly has the highest percentage of elected representatives (74%) who declared criminal cases against themselves.  55 out of 74 MLAs of the Jharkhand 2009 Assembly declared criminal cases against themselves.
·         Among the recent elections that have been covered by ADR and NEW, the Bihar 2010 Assembly has 58% MLAs who have declared criminal cases against themselves. The Uttar Pradesh 2012 Assembly has 47% MLAs with criminal cases.
·         None of the MLAs of the Manipur 2012 Assembly have declared criminal cases against themselves. 
Analysis of sitting MPs and MLAs with self declared Criminal Cases- Party Wise
The table below provides details of Party-wise MPs/MLAs who have declared criminal cases.  Following are the salient points that emerge from the analysis that was conducted by ADR and NEW:
·         82% of MPs and MLAs who have gotten elected on JMM tickets have declared criminal cases against themselves. 64% of MPs and MLAs who have gotten elected on RJD tickets have declared criminal cases against themselves. 48% of elected representatives who have gotten elected on SP tickets have declared criminal cases against themselves.
·         31% of MPs and MLAs who have gotten elected on BJP tickets have declared criminal cases against themselves (Out of the 1017 MPs and MLAs from BJP, 313 have declared criminal cases). 21% of MPs and MLAs who have gotten elected on INC tickets have declared criminal cases against themselves (Out of the 1433 elected representatives from INC, 305 have declared criminal cases against themselves).



National Election Watch/Association for Democratic Reforms:


Media & Journalist Helpline

+91 80103 94248


Mr. Anil Bairwal,
National Coordinator

National Election Watch,
Association for Democratic Reforms

+91 80103 94248
+91 9999310100

adr@adrIndia.org,

Prof Trilochan Sastry
IIM Bangalore

Founder Member,
National Election Watch,
Association for Democratic Reforms

+91 9448353285,



Prof Jagdeep Chhokar
IIM Ahmedabad (Retd.)

Founder Member
National Election Watch, Association for Democratic
Reforms

+91 9999620944





--
Association for Democratic Reforms
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B-35, Qutub Institutional Area
(Near Rockland Hospital)
New Delhi-110 016

M: +91 8010394248 
T: +91 11 40817601 (ext. 28 and 21) 
F: 011 4609 4248

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