Monday, November 18, 2013

Egypt train collision

Egypt, at least 30 people were killed and 28 others were injured when a train ploughed into a truck and a mini-bus at a railway crossing early this morning. The incident took place near Dahchour area south of the capital Cairo in Giza.The ill-fated mini bus was carrying guests home from a wedding. 
The head of the Egyptian Railway Authority Hussein Zakaria said the vehicles had ignored warning lights and chains blocking entry, and tried to drive through the crossing. He told that the bus stormed the crossing, according to initial reports. The train, whose driver survived the crash, continued for almost one kilometer before coming to a halt.

Congress again moves EC against Modi

Modi’s description of Sonia Gandhi as “ill” and other controversial comments, Congress on Monday again moved the EC against remarks made by the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate during the Chhattisgarh poll campaign. 
The Congress has demanded withdrawal of recognition to BJP in view of the alleged “persistent violations” by the party and its leaders which, it said, was an “impediment” in the conduct of free, fair and peaceful elections.
In a complaint to EC, AICC legal cell convenor K C Bansal said Modi has “deliberately and intentionally” made these “derogatory and uncivilised remarks” on more than one occasion against Gandhi as also her son and party Vice President Rahul Gandhi. 
The party has especially cited the remarks made by Modi like, “I want to ask Shehzada whether this money has come from your mama’s (maternal uncle) place as also “If you have courage, Madam you are sick, give work to your son (bete ko kam do).
This, it said, was violative of the guidelines issued by the EC which prohibit political parties and leaders from criticising all aspects of private lives of leaders of other parties. 
Modi has been “wilfully flouting” the model code of conduct and making statements in its “utter disregard and defiance, it said. He also referred to a TV interview of Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj in which she had said Rahul Gandhi is “confused”.
“It seems to be the strategy of the BJP and its leaders to make personal attacks against Congress leaders…The remarks are unwarranted and unjustified and wholly personalised attack aimed at exposing Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi to ridicule in the eyes of the public. 
“Such remarks have no place or justification in legitimate political discourse and transcends all limits of propriety political or otherwise,” the party contended before the EC in the complaint made yesterday. 
Modi and other BJP leaders were “habitual” of violating the model code and the “persistent violation is an impediment” in the conduct of free, fair and peaceful elections, the Congress told the poll panel.



Maya dance Theatre presents Grey, The Path through Asia, at the International Dance Festival, Bangkok Thailand

Rooted in its traditions and moving forward, Maya Dance Theatre will present its ever popular performance, GREY, which explores individualism in a passage of unity/harmony at the International Dance Festival. GREY features movement vocabulary is cross-fertilisation between Classical Indian dance (Bharatha Natyam) and Modern Contemporary.
Choreographed by Award Winning Choreographer Shahrin Johry with Kavitha Krishnan, artistic director of Maya Dance Theatre and performed by dancers from Maya Dance Theatre, Singapore-Sheriden Newman, Shahrin Johry and apprentice, Stepharina Chan.
GREY was recently presented in the Jogjakarta International Arts Festival 2012 (Indonesia), Tri-Asia Festival 2012 (Indonesia), the Accidental Festival 2013 (UK) and American Dance Guild Festival in 2013 (USA). The full production of GREY was presented in Penang as part of the Georgetown Festival and also at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC) in June 2013.

With the support of Lee Foundation and Singapore International Foundation.
Maya Dance Theatre will be participating at the International Dance Festival 2013 in Bangkok, Thailand on 23 November 2013


Waheeda Rehman to be Honoured with Centenary Award

Waheeda Rehman to be Honoured with Centenary Award for Indian Film Personality of the Year at IFFI 2013

Renowned actress Waheeda Rehman will be conferred with the Centenary Award for Indian Film Personality of the Year at the International Film Festival of India 2013 in Panjim, Goa.  The 2013 edition of the Festival is being held between 20th to 30th November.   The award has been instituted to commemorate 100 years of Indian Cinema, and will be given annually to an outstanding film personality for his or her contribution to Indian cinema.
          After extensive deliberations, a five member jury identified Waheeda Rehman  as the ideal member of the Indian film fraternity to be the first recipient of the award. The Centenary Award recognizes her prolific body of work through the film industry’s formative years. The award carries a citation, a certificate, a medal(Silver Peacock),a shawl and a cash prize of Rs.10 lacs.
Ms. Rehman is considered to be one of the most prominent actresses of the “golden era” of Indian cinema, as well as a classic Bollywood beauty. The protege of film making icon Guru Dutt, she is known for her roles in critically acclaimed movies like ‘C.I.D.’, ‘Pyaasa’, ‘Kaagaz Ke Phool’, ‘Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam’, ‘Teesri Kasam’, ‘Mujhe Jeene Do’, “Reshmaaur Shera” and ‘Khamoshi’. Waheeda Rehman was the perfect  match in terms of histrionics for the king of acting DilipKumar, and together they delivered some outstanding films like ‘Ram aur Shyam’, ‘Dil Diya Dard Liya’,and  ’Aadmi’ . Of note is Waheeda’s on-screen chemistry with Dev Anand in several  highly entertaining  films, including ‘Guide’, which won her aFilmfare Best Actress Award for a flawless performance as Rosy, the dancer. This film also did  justice to Waheeda’sdancing skills ,and saw her deliver an exceptional “Sapera” dance sequence which is remembered till date for its unmatched joie de vivre’.
            Organized by the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) Secretariat under the aegis of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, in collaboration with the Government of Goa and the Indian film industry, IFFI brings cinema from around the world to India, and presents a bouquet of contemporary and classic cinema from India to the world, through film screenings, academic sessions and cultural exchange programmes.
            The festival will be visited by renowned cinema personalities, including Academy Award-winning Hollywood actor Susan Sarandon, critically acclaimed Iranian director, producer and screenwriter Majid Majidi, and Polish filmmakerAgnieszka Holland.  The Indian celebrity delegation includes veteran actress Rekha, legendary singer Asha Bhonsle, actor-filmmaker Kamal Haasan, and renowned actor Manoj Kumar.
            Films screened at the festival include a curated selection of the the works of iconic film personalities, documentaries, homages and tributes to cinematic legends as a showcase of changing trends and aesthetics.


Greeks mark 40th anniversary of student protest against austerity

Thousands of Greeks mark 40th anniversary of student protest against austerity 

Protesters march outside the U.S embassy during a rally marking the anniversary of the 1973 student uprising against Greece's former military dictatorship, in Athens November 17, 2013. (Reuters / John Kolesidis)
Protesters march outside the U.S embassy during a rally marking the anniversary of the 1973 student uprising against Greece’s former military dictatorship, in Athens November 17, 2013. More than 16,000 Greeks marched through the streets of Athens on Sunday to protest against austerity and mark the 40th anniversary of the student uprising against the former ruling military junta.
The annual march comes as Greece reels from its sixth year of recession. European Union and International Monetary Fund (IMF) lenders are set to begin a new round of talks to decide whether to throw more money at the southern European nation. 
The crowd gathered in front of parliament in Syntagma Square, waving banners which read, “IMF, EU out!,” in reference to the bailouts that Greece has received from both bodies in return for harsh austerity measures. 
The crowd shouted, “Don’t bow your heads” and “Never again fascism,” in reference to the military rule which took place between 1967 and 1974.

Leftist students burn a Nazi flag in front of the US embassy in Athens, during a march commemorating the 1973 students uprising against the military junta. Tens of thousands marched in Greece on November 17 (AFP Photo / Louisa Gouliamaki)
Leftist students burn a Nazi flag in front of the US embassy in Athens, during a march commemorating the 1973 students uprising against the military junta. Tens of thousands marched in Greece on November 17 

After rallying in Syntagma Square, the thousands of protesters made their way to the US embassy. Many believe the US privately backed the Greek army which rose to power in 1967. 
The 1973 Athens Polytechnic uprising protested against the rule of the Greek military junta which ruled from 1967-1974. The junta aimed to control every aspect of politics in Greece. It also forcibly drafted students into the military, thereby creating anti-junta sentiments among students. 
February 21, 1973: Law students barricaded themselves inside the University of Athens, demanding that the law forcing students to go into the army be abolished. This was seen as a prelude to the uprising.
November 14, 1973: Students from Athens Polytechnic University also went on strike, barricading themselves inside buildings and broadcasting to the populace using a homemade radio transmitter.
November 17, 1973: The transitional government sent a tank crashing through the university gates. Twenty-four civilians were killed.
November 25, 1973: Military law was reinstated.
July 1974: The military regime imploded, ushering in a new era. 
The country’s bailout has come at a very heavy price for the majority of Greeks. Citizens have experienced tax hikes alongside cuts in their wages and pensions. Unemployment has soared to record levels. Six in 10 young people in Greece are currently out of work, and homelessness is also increasing. 
People here are suffering – we can’t go any lower. We’re at our limits and the kids have no future so they’re leaving,” 48-year-old biologist Athena Pantra told Reuters at the rally. 
“The troika should leave not them,” she added, referring to the trio of lenders which have kept Greece afloat and in the eurozone.
But an independent Greek politician told Reuters that Greeks would be better off without the troika’s cash. 
“We will continue the struggle for bread, education and freedom. In order to abolish the bailout, kick out the troika from our country and regain Greece,” he said.
Seven-thousand police officers were on hand – prepared for violence or rioting – although the protests were largely peaceful.
However, in the port city of Patras, police fired teargas at around 200 demonstrators who hurled rocks and petrol bombs at the offices of the far-right Golden Dawn party. The government has cracked down on Golden Dawn since the openly fascist organization killed an anti-fascist rapper in September. RT News

Cultural HotShots



The Oxford Handbook of Modern Diplomacy


Thanks and best regards

Professor Dr. C. Raj Kumar
LL.B. (Delhi), B.C.L. (Oxford), LL.M. (Harvard), S.J.D. (Hong Kong)
Vice Chancellor, O.P. Jindal Global University (JGU)
Tel: (91-130) 3057900; Fax: (91-130) 3057894
University Campus: Sonipat Narela Road
Sonipat, Haryana – 131 001, India 
  • JGU comprises of four interdisciplinary schools and offers programmes in law, business, international affairs and public policy.
  • JGU has established its fifth school, Jindal School of Liberal Arts & Humanities, which will begin its first academic session in August 2014.

A tornado hits US state of Illinois



A large and “extremely dangerous” tornado has touched down in Peoria, Illinois, US meteorologists said, as quoted by Reuters. The twister hit while an expansive storm threatened parts of the Midwest. The tornado was spotted near Washington, Illinois, located about 233 kilometers southwest of Chicago, and was moving northeast at about 90 kilometers per hour. The weather service warned that the twister would affect mainly rural areas. It was expected that mobile homes will be destroyed and trees will be uprooted or snapped. However, there have been no immediate reports of any damage caused by the storm. The tornado emerged out of a large weather system which brought thunderstorms to parts of Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Kentucky.

Nobel Prize author Doris Lessing dies


The British author, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2007, has died aged 94. Lessing’s best known works include Memoirs of a Survivor, The Golden Notebook and The Summer Before the Dark. The Golden Notebook is seen as her pioneering work and according to the Swedish Nobel committee it belongs “to the handful of works that informed the 20th Century view of the male-female relationship.” Lessing was born in what is now Iran, then moved to Southern Rhodesia, which is now Zimbabwe, before settling in England in 1949.

Fifty dead as Boeing 737-500 crashes in Kazan central Russia

Fifty people died after a Boeing passenger plane crashed on landing in the city of Kazan in central Russia on Sunday, according to the Emergencies Ministry. A doctor working at the scene said that only ashes and rubble were left from the plane.
The Boeing 737-500 passenger aircraft operated by Tatarstan Airlines exploded after crash-landing at Kazan Airport at 15:25 GMT. The jet’s nose reportedly hit the ground during touchdown. Flight U363 was traveling from Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport. 
Initially, 44 fatalities were reported in the crash. The Federal Air Transport Agency later said that 50 people – including six crew members – were on board, all of whom were killed. 
The Emergencies Ministry published a list of the victims, which included two children. Among the victims was British national Donna Bull, 53. She was an education consultant and the A-Level program director at Bellerbys College in Cambridge, UK.
Further confirmed that Irek Minnikhanov, son of Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov, was among the passengers killed in the accident. The death toll includes the republic’s head of Federal Security Service, Aleksandr Antonov.
Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to Minnikhanov on the phone, expressing his condolences to relatives and friends of the deceased, and to the Tatarstan leader personally. 
Authorities and the airline’s insurance company will pay compensation of around US$93,700 to each of the victims’ families. A day of mourning has been set for November 18. 
Rescuers have already recovered the bodies of all 50 people from the crash site, according to Tatarstan’s Disaster Medicine Center. Now they are looking for flight data recorders.   

RIA Novosti / Valentin Elagin
According to reports on social media, taxi drivers in Kazan are taking the victims’ relatives to and from the airport free of charge. 
The passenger jet caught on fire after the crash landing. The flames were extinguished less than one hour into the disaster. 
Only ashes and pieces of foam were left from the plane [after the explosion],” a doctor from the emergency rescue team told ITAR-TASS. 
Kazan is the eighth most populous city in Russia. Located 800km east of Moscow, it is the capital of the largely Muslim Republic of Tatarstan. 
‘Very bad landing’ on previous flight 
The same aircraft had made an earlier journey from Kazan to Moscow, and RT spoke to one of the passengers from that flight. Lenara Kashafutdinova described her experience, stating that the problem was not during the actual flight, but with its landing, which was very rocky and unstable.
“The flight itself went quiet smoothly, but before the landing the plane started fiercely vibrating. Initially, I thought it was the weather, but when we got out of the plane, the weather was quite nice. The plane was shaking from side to side. We landed on our first attempt, but it was a very bad landing and I felt like the plane was going to run off the runway,” Kashafutdinova stated. 
A witness traveling from Kazan to Moscow, who happened to be on the airfield at the moment of the crash, told RT that he heard a loud bang and felt some trembling. The shuttle bus he was on was then diverted back to the terminal. The young man did not report any panic and said that he and other passengers were allowed to pick up their luggage within about 15 minutes after the crash. 

Causes under review: Pilot error, poor fuel, technical failure, weather

The Investigation Committee has launched a probe into the crash. The head of the committee, Vladimir Markin, said the crash might have been caused by pilot error, technical malfunction, or weather conditions. In the meantime, the US National Transportation Safety Board has expressed its commitment to the investigation by offering to send a team of its experts, headed by Dennis Jones, a senior investigator. 
According to local reports, there were high winds and cloudy skies over the airport in central Russia. Temperatures were above zero. 
An emergency services source told Interfax that the pilots apparently made some mistake when entering the second lap. “The plane attempted to land several times. One of the [fuel] tanks detonated while the plane was landing,” said Emergencies Ministry spokeswoman Irina Rossius.  Despite this, according to the airline spokesman’s words to Interfax, “the pilots, both born in 1966, had lots of experience.”
Another version involves problems with the landing gear. Apparently, one of the pilots radioed the control tower to report that there was “an issue with the landing configuration.” 
“He told me he would attempt to perform another circle and I dictated the numbers to him – all according to procedure – and that was that. He [the pilot] confirmed the instructions, but didn’t sway from his path. [The crash] happened mere seconds later,”  Kirill Kornishin told Russia 24 TV, as cited by RIA Novosti. 
Among other reasons considered by investigators is low-quality fuel, the Investigative Committee said. “We ordered to take samples of the fuel that was used to fill up the aircraft in Moscow,” a senior official told ITAR-TASS.
The crew reported 500 meters before hitting the runway that the machinery was not ready for landing, an unnamed source told Interfax. According to another report, the plane is believed to have touched the ground with its wing when landing, said a representative of the Investigation Committee, as cited by RIA Novosti. 
An expert on air accidents, first-class pilot Vladimir Gerasimov told RT that he suspects “an apparent crew error,” as the plane failed to make a precise landing approach on its first try. However, this can be verified only after the flight data recorder of the crashed plane is analyzed, he added. 

Site of Kazan jet crash (Image by Russia's Emergencies Ministry)
Site of Kazan jet crash (Image by Russia’s Emergencies Ministry)

The weather conditions were favorable for landing, argued sources from the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring of Russia. 
The visibility was five thousand meters, the runway was dry. You cannot even imagine better conditions,” said an employee from the federal service, adding that it is unlikely that bad weather caused the crash.
Probes are expected to start on Monday morning. 

‘Boeing 737-500 caused trouble before’ 

The Boeing 737-500 is a make of a popular short- to medium-range twin-engine jet airliner, which was introduced in 1987. The series is also known as “Classic,” along with the 300 and the 400 models. The 737-500 can seat between 108 and 132 passengers, and has two cockpit crew members.  
The jet that crashed in Kazan – tail number VQ-BBN – was made in 1990. Tatarstan Airlines bought the plane in December 2008. 
This is not the first time that the aircraft has experienced problems. Just last year, the same plane was heading to Moscow when it made an emergency landing at the same terminal, a law enforcement source told Interfax. Twenty minutes after takeoff, alarm sensors were reportedly triggered due to depressurization of the cabin. None of the 78 people on board were injured. 
The crashed Boeing has been in service for 23 years, the airline’s spokesperson told ITAR-TASS. She assured that the plane has been undergoing routine maintenance operations, adding that it had just recently been subject to maintenance. 

Boeing 737-500 (Image from
Boeing 737-500 (Image from

This is not the first accident involving a Boeing-737 in Russia. On May 18, a 400 jet model belonging to UTair caught fire just after landing at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport. Luckily, only one landing gear leg was set ablaze, and none of the 136 people on board were injured. 
On December 30, 2012, a TU-204 jet belonging to Red Wings Airlines hard-landed at Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport, breaking into several parts and crashing into a nearby highway. Five people were killed and four others seriously injured, including the driver of a car that was hit by the plane’s wheel. Only the crew was on board the plane. RT News

AirAsia X Announces 3rd Destination in Japan; Nagoya!



Photo caption : At the Nagoya open for sale launch.

from left to right :-

1.      Hiroshi Kawakami, President and CEO of Central Japan INTL Airport Company

2.      Hideaki Ohmura, Governor of Aichi Prefecture

3.      Azran Osman-Rani, CEO of AirAsia X
4.      AirAsia X Flight attendants

Offering fares from as low as MYR199* (JPY6990) to Nagoya

SEPANG, 18 November 2013- AirAsia X Berhad, the leading long haul, low-cost carrier affiliate of the AirAsia Group, today announced the launch of its third destination; Nagoya in Japan following its successful operations to Tokyo and Osaka. AirAsia X will commence its first flight into Chubu Centrair International Airport from Kuala Lumpur beginning 17 March, 2014.

AirAsia X will commence four weekly flights into Nagoya, Japan. The airline currently operates daily flights to Tokyo (Haneda) and four weekly flights to Osaka (Kansai) from Kuala Lumpur.

In conjunction with the announcement of our new destination, AirAsia X will be offering hot deals from as low as MYR199* (JPY6 990) on Economy and MYR699* (JPY 24 900) on Premium to Nagoya. Bookings are available online from 19 to 24 November 2013 for travel between 17 March and 5 August 2014.

Azran Osman-Rani, CEO of AirAsia X said, “We are excited to announce our latest route to Nagoya, marking our 3rd destination into Japan. This marks another milestone for AirAsia X and reiterates our expansion commitment in the key markets we operate in with the Asia Pacific Region. With the addition of Nagoya, guests will have more travel options to explore Japan, and we believe Nagoya being a scenic and historical destination will be a popular tourist destination. We have carried over half a million passengers to and from Japan. Japan contributed over 14% of our total revenue in the first half of 2013.”

“Nagoya is strategically located just 50 minutes from Osaka and 1 hour 40 minutes from Tokyo via train. Guests may soon fly direct to Nagoya, and take a train to the metropolitan and capital city of Japan; Tokyo or visit the commercial centre of Japan, Osaka in the Kansai region and return from any of the ports we serve in Japan. Nagoya has much to offer, be it for families or even the back packers, the choices of attractions are endless.”

“Japanese guest also will be able to fly to a host of destinations from Kuala Lumpur using AirAsia’s Fly-Thru service, which allows guests to easily connect between two different flights via the Kuala Lumpur Low Cost Carrier Terminal without having to worry about checking in twice” he concluded.
Fly-Thru routes available from Nagoya are: Adelaide, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydneyin Australia; Kochi in India; BaliBandungJakartaMedan and Surabaya in Indonesia; Kota KinabaluKuchingLangkawi and Penang in Malaysia; SingaporeTaipei in Taiwan; Bangkokand Phuket in Thailand; and Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam.

Nagoya, the largest city in the Chubu region, more famous as the birth place of Toyota
was also the birth place of the 3 samurai’s who unified Japan in the 16th century.
Home to the famous Atsuta Shrine, considered to be one of the most venerable shrines in Japan,
and the restored Nagoya castle which was then burnt down during World War ||.
Also famous for its abundance of cherry blossom trees during spring time,
the region where Nagoya is located is known as an industrial powerhouse,
supplying the world with automobiles, machinery, aerospace parts and a wide variety of
other products. Also, the Chubu region is richly endowed with nature of ocean as well as of the mountains, such as Ise Bay and Japanese Alps.

AirAsia X was the first long-haul, low fare carrier to introduce Premium Flatbed seats, which have standard business class specifications of 20” width, 60” pitch and stretch out to 77” in full recline position.

The Premium flatbeds feature universal power sockets, adjustable headrests and built-in personal utilities such as tray table, drink holder, reading light and privacy screen. Premium seat guests also enjoy premium complimentary products and services including Pick A Seat, Priority Check-in, Priority Boarding, Priority Baggage, 25kg Baggage Allowance, Complimentary Meal and Pillow & Duvet.

AirAsia X was awarded the World’s Best Low Cost Airline Premium Seat and the World’s Best Low Cost Airline Premium Class titles at the 2013 Skytrax World Airline Awards which took place at the Paris Airshow. The AirAsia Group also received its 5th consecutive year title as the World’s Best and Asia’s Best Low Cost Airline at the 2013 Skytrax World Airline Awards.

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