Sunday, August 4, 2013

 Massive pro-govt rally held in Tunis 

Supporters of the Islamist Ennahda movement wave flags as they chant slogans during a demonstration at Kasbah Square in Tunis August 3, 2013. (Reuters/Zoubeir Souissi)
Supporters of the Islamist Ennahda movement wave flags as they chant slogans during a demonstration at Kasbah Square in Tunis August 3, 2013.

Over 150,000 people flocked to Tunis’ central Kasbah Square, brandishing Tunisian flags and shouting pro-government slogans. Thousands of Tunisians flooded the capital in support of their Islamist-led government amid calls for its ouster. Members of the secular opposition have alleged the ruling Ennahda party orchestrated the murder of a prominent leftist politician.

The throng chanted “No to coups, yes to elections!” referencing the untimely ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on July 3 by the army. Media agencies 

China bars milk imports from N. Zealand and Australia over botulism fears

The Chinese government has put a block on all milk powder exports from New Zealand and Australia after samples of bacteria that can cause botulism were found. The ban concerns the dairy products of New Zealander company Fonterra, which were contaminated by a dirty pipe in a processing plant. The company has already recalled products from Australia, China, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Vietnam.

​ 1 killed, 11 injured in Venice Beach Boardwalk hit-and-run

One person was killed and 11 injured in a hit-and-run incident, when a car drove into a crowd walking along the famous Venice Beach Boardwalk in Los Angeles Saturday evening. Several hours later a person was taken into custody and a car was seized by police in neighboring Santa Monica, AP cites Los Angeles police Lt. Andy Neiman as saying. Detectives have been trying to determine if the man and the vehicle were involved in the incident. Witnesses claim the driver of the car willfully plowed into the crowd, but his motives remain unclear.

Yemen’s main oil pipeline attacked again

Crude oil export from Yemen was disrupted late on Saturday after tribesmen in central Maarib province once again blew up the country’s most important oil pipeline, which usually pumps up to 125,000 barrels of crude oil every day. The pipeline had just become operational again following last week’s attack, which stopped oil flow for several days. The Yemeni government heavily depends on crude oil revenues, which provide for about 70 percent of the country’s budget. Since early 2011 tribesmen have been repeatedly attacking the pipeline, demanding financial support and the release of their people detained by security forces.

Australian national elections scheduled for September 7

Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has scheduled elections for September 7 after former Prime Minister Julia Gillard was defeated in a party vote six weeks ago.

Israel to release first group of Palestinian prisoners

Israel will release 26 Palestinian prisoners on August 13 Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said Saturday. This will be the first of four stages of prisoner releases Israel had agreed to as a goodwill sign for resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Last week, the Israeli Cabinet approved the release of 104 prisoners.

Car explodes in Bahrain, no casualties reported

No casualties were reported after a car bomb detonated next to a recreational area west of the Bahraini capital Manama, the Interior Ministry said. Only one of the two gas cylinders planted in a parked vehicle exploded. Law enforcement is investigating the incident in a country which has been engulfed in civil unrest since 2011, with the Shiite majority demanding more political say.

​Bombings and shootings in Iraq kill 19

Bombings and shooting in Iraq killed 19 people on Saturday, including an attack on a convoy carrying a top military commander, Lt Gen Abdul-Amir al-Zaidi, north of Baghdad. Gunmen killed six of his bodyguards and wounded four others. Gunmen also broke into the house of former anti-al Qaeda fighter, known as Sahwa, killing his wife and two daughters. The father was not at home. In Baqouba two Sahwa fighters were killed by gunmen as they were working on their farm. While in Mosul two off duty policemen were gunned down in a car. In Tikrit in the center of Iraq a roadside bomb killed a father and his son.

Imam killed in Dagestan, attackers flee

The Imam of one of Makhachkala's mosques has been killed by unknown assailants, in Russia’s Dagestan republic, Interfax reported. Ilyas Ilyasov was gunned down next to his house while he sat in his car around 20:30 local time. His driver was wounded and is now in the hospital. The search continues for the gunmen that fled the crime scene in a car. Ilyasov was a leader in the Sufi branch of Islam. Previously the Administration of Muslims of Dagestan had declared the illegitimacy of his leadership as he had a negative view of the Salafi branch of Islam. At various times he worked as an advisor to the government of Dagestan on religious issues and as a deputy chairman of the Government Committee for Religious Affairs.

Attacks, bombings kill at least 19 in Iraq

Violent attacks in Iraq on Saturday have claimed lives of at least 19 people, according to officials cited by AFP. A woman and her two adult daughters were shot dead in their home near Baquba, north of Baghdad, with reports they may have been targeted as security service informants. Gunmen also killed two brothers, who were former members of Sahwa, a US-funded, anti-Al-Qaeda militia, in a nearby area. In Baquba a bomb blast killed one person and wounded five, while two explosions in Baghdad killed three people and wounded 10. A roadside bomb blast also killed a man and his 11-year-old son in Tikrit. Three people were also killed in two separate attacks in the northern province of Nineveh, including a policeman. The current wave of violence in Iraq is the deadliest since the 2006-08 civil conflict, which saw an upsurge of sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, and comes amid protests of Sunnis against the policies of the Shia-led government.

​Police close Gezi Park, fire water canon at protesters

Police in Istanbul have closed Gezi Park following a call on Twitter for a demonstration on the spot which became a symbol of nationwide protests in June and July. Twitter users tried to mobilize a gathering in the park to commemorate the protesters killed in the demonstrations and to denounce police violence. Some scuffles broke out on Istikal Avenue, at the junction with Taksim Square and the police once again resorted to the use of pressurized water against a small group of protesters.

​5 spectators injured at old power plant demolition

Five spectators have been injured, one seriously, after shrapnel was sent flying during a demolition of a decommissioned steam power station in California’s central valley. More than 1,000 people had gathered at 6 am in a nearby parking lot to watch the planned controlled blowing up of the plant. A police officer on the scene heard a man screaming for help and saw that his leg had been severed by flying shrapnel. He may also lose his other leg because of his injuries.

President Mugabe wins Zimbabwe election, opposition leader vows to boycott govt

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has been re-elected for a further five-year term, the country’s Election Commission announced on Saturday. Mugabe is said to have won the July 31 polls with 61% of vote, while the opposition leader and current Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai got 34%. Tsvangirai has responded by branding election a “farce” and promised to take legal action. He also vowed to boycott the government, saying that his Movement for Democratic Change party would no longer work with Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party. A top election official Mkhululi Nyathi also announced he resigns over the “manner” in which the elections were conducted, while the EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said it was “concerned about alleged irregularities… and a lack of transparency” in Zimbabwe’s election. Meanwhile, the African Union’s top poll observer stated the election had been “peaceful, orderly, free and fair,” while the Southern African Development Community described it only as “free and peaceful.”

Morsi supporters ‘ready’ for dialogue, but reject talks with Army chief

Supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi told US and EU mediators on Saturday that they respected the demands of a mass protest that led to Morsi’s downfall, but rejected the role of Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in any political deal. Tarek El-Malt, a pro-Morsi spokesman, told Reuters that Egypt’s crisis should be resolved on the basis of the Constitution introduced by Morsi’s government, which was revoked after his ouster. “We have the readiness and flexibility to accept political solutions to get out of this crisis as long as they are based on constitutional legitimacy, by which we mean the return and reactivation of the 2012 constitution,” El-Malt said, adding that “the army will not have a role in political solutions.”

Twitter UK increases staff combating abusive tweets

Twitter will increase the number of staff handling reports of abusive treets, will toughen its abuse rules and introduce an in-tweet "report abuse" button on all platforms to clamp down on harassment, the UK unit of the social messaging service announced Saturday. Twitter UK boss Tony Wang offered a personal apology on the site to female victims of abuse, vowing to do more to protect them, saying that the threats were "simply not acceptable" and pledging to do more to tackle abusive troll comments. Police are investigating allegations by eight people of abuse or threatening behavior on the site.

Interpol issues alert on possible al-Qaeda links to jailbreaks
Interpol has issued a global security alert, warning that al-Qaeda could be behind several recent mass prison escapes in Iraq, Libya and Pakistan. The alert follows "the escape of hundreds of terrorists and other criminals" in July, Interpol reported, and comes right after the US State Department issued a global al-Qaeda related travel warning. Police forces are asked to help determine whether the prison escapes were coordinated or linked. A previous similar alert followed a jailbreak from Iraq’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison.

13 injured in Croatian train collision with bus

Thirteen people were injured in southern Croatia as a train hit a bus at a level crossing, local police reported Saturday. All the injured, including two in critical condition, were taken to a nearby hospital in the coastal town of Sibenik. It is not clear what caused the crash, but Croatian television HRT reported that the crossing had been damaged earlier Friday.

 Media agencies 
Easing of Retail FDI norms by Union Government - Betrayal of
Millions of small retailers, farmers and small scale entrepreneur

  1. The BJP is opposed to the dilution of the mandatory 30% local sourcing norms for multi-brand retailers and permitting states to include cities with population less than 1 million for allowing multi-brand retailing which will enable the global retailers to open their stores in too small formats and will allow them to crush the domestic trade, small manufactures and shopkeepers of the country.
  2. Easing the FDI norms for retail trade by the Union Cabinet today is the beginning of an era of economic dependency and exposes the complete helplessness of the UPA government. The current policy of the Union Government to provide unprecedented advantages to global retailers and big corporate houses once again proved that the Government is working under pressure of invisible forces and has lost the creditability of standing on its own legs.
  3. I would like the government to come out openly as to what has happened that led the Government to run helplessly towards foreign investment in every sector. Such a mindset corroborated with related activities amply reflects that the Government has lost its control over the economy which is now being driven by invisible forces. It is astonishing that when only couple of days were left for beginning of Parliament session, what prompted the Government to take hurried decision on such an important issue which has vital bearing on the livelihood of crores of people in the country. Heaven would not have fallen, if Government would have waited for few more days.
  4. As per decision, the global retailers will now have to source 30 percent of their products from small and medium enterprises only at the time of start of business and foreign investor will have to make the mandatory USD 50 million at the first engagement only. Thereafter, the investment would depend upon the business needs. These are two such conditions that will empower the global giants to control and dominate the retail trade of India.
  5. This decision of the Government speaks volumes about the confusion in the UPA. One the one hand the Finance Minister says that manufacturing is the key for growth and on the other this dilution of FDI norms hits hard the SMEs which contribute maximum to the manufacturing sector and also to exports. The government, deep in trouble due to uncontrollable depletion of the Forex and rising CAD in its drive for attracting foreign investment, is destroying the SMEs which are the most potential source for augmenting forex. Countries progress by self confidence and prudent economic policies rather than moving with a begging bowl. The investment is not attracted by handing over the economy to foreign players, it is attracted with sound administrative norms, transparency and corruption free system. Government instead of reforming its culture of administration and weeding out corruption is killing small traders, farmers and small manufacturers.  
  6. CAIT the apex body of retailer's organisations in different sectors has appealed the people to oppose this economically unsound decision which harms the national interests and I join their appeal to all political parties to support them in and outside Parliament. The BJP is firmly opposed to this move of the government and supports the just demands of the retail traders.   

[This is Dr. M.M. Joshi's statement for the Press Conference on 29.6.13]        

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