Sunday, November 24, 2013

Mumbai International film festival to be organized from Feb 3-9


The 13th edition of Mumbai International film festival for Documentary, Short and Animation Films (MIFF) will be organized by Films Division at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA), Mumbai from February 3 to 9, 2014. This was announced today by V S Kundu, Director General, Films Division and Director, MIFF – 2014 while addressing media persons in Panaji today.
AIR Correspondent quoting Films Division sources reports that the oldest and largest international film festival for the non-feature and animation films in Asia, MIFF-2014 brings a lot of valuable content for film makers and cinefiles. Apart from best director, awards have been introduced for producer, cinematographer, editor, sound recordist and animator.
Awards for the most innovative film, named after Pramod Pati, and most popular film of the festival have also been instituted taking the total number of awards to 32 from 22 in the MIFF 2012. A veteran Indian documentary film maker will be honoured with V Shantaram Lifetime Achievement Award. MIFF will distribute cash awards worth 55 lac rupees apart from Golden Conches, trophies and certificates to the winners in different categories.


Helicopter carrying relief goods crashes in Manila bay

Philippine helicopter carrying relief goods crashed into the Manila Bay on Sunday afternoon, local media reported.
The chopper crashed about 18 nautical miles northwest of North Harbor in Manila bay, near Bulacan, radio dzBB quoted Philippine Coast Guard as saying.
The pilot and a passenger of the aircraft have been rescued by U.S. Marines and were uninjured.
The chopper was said to ship relief goods for typhoon victims.


5.3-magnitude quake jolts northeast China

5.3-magnitude quake jolts northeast China
A moderate earthquake of 5.3-magnitude jolted a city in northeast China’s Jilin Province on Friday, damaging some houses.
The epicentre of the quake that hit the Songyuan city was determined to be at a depth of eight kilometres, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted the China Earthquake Networks Centre as saying. 
The epicenter was located at the juncture of Qian Gorlos Mongol Autonomous County and Qian’an county, where two quakes of similar magnitude occurred on October 31 and left 12 people injured.
The earthquake lasted for about 3 seconds, the report said.
“I felt it was more severe than the last time, and my house was partly damaged,” Li Wei, a resident in Yingtu Village of Qian Gorlos Mongol Autonomous County said. 
Li said his fellow villagers ran out of their homes out of fear that their houses would collapse.
“I was at work and felt my desk shaking,” said Fan, a resident in provincial capital Changchun. 


Bangladesh garment workers attack fire station

Fifty people, including three firefighters and cops, were injured in clashes erupted after thousands of Bangladesh garment workers attacked a fire station in Savar on the outskirts capital Dhaka on Sunday morning.
Eyewitnesses said the unruly workers vandalized 10-12 vehicles.
The workers went berserk following a brawl with some firemen, they said.
According to police and eyewitnesses, a bus carrying garment workers of factory rammed in to a footpath in front of the fire service office while taking a u-turn at about 7:30 a.m. local time.
As an on-duty fireman shouted at them, the workers got down off the bus and locked into a brawl with the officials of the fire station.
Spurred by rumors that a female garment worker had been tortured by the firemen, according to the eyewitnesses, thousands of workers from nearby factories rushed to the scene and attacked the fire station.
A police official who preferred to be unnamed said the agitating workers entered the fire station and vandalized all the window panes and furniture, leaving three officials injured.
He said huge street clashes erupted when police arrived and tried to disperse the situation by firing rubber-bullets and lobbing tear-gas canisters. The unruly worker looted office equipment and torched a motorcycle and two vehicles of the fire service office. The workers then blocked a highway where they also damaged many vehicles to bring traffic near to a halt for one hour and a half.
Clashes once again broke out as police tried to evict the workers from the highway to lift the blockade.
Locals said at least 50 people were injured during the clashes which lasted for about two hours. The agitating workers, however, claimed that some of their female colleagues were manhandled by firemen.


UN climate agree on principles for new global pact

United Nations climate talks Saturday agreed here on major principles for a new global climate pact, which is due to be agreed on in 2015 and put into force after 2020.
The delegations agreed that all countries should prepare for “intended nationally determined contributions” to help cut carbon emissions.
The agreement was seen as a key step paving the way to reach an ambitious global climate pact in 2015, and highlighted their desire to avert a breakdown of the climate talks.
The negotiators from about 200 countries also made a decision on climate change aid.
The talks called on developed countries to mobilize finance assistance from government channels “at increasing levels” from the 10 billion U.S. dollars a year paid out from 2010 to 2012.
Negotiators also reached consensus on creating a mechanism to help vulnerable nations to deal with the losses and damage caused by global warming.
The head of the Chinese delegation to the UN climate talks said the results of the talks were not satisfying, but they are acceptable.
“There are many issues that we are not actually satisfied with but we can still accept,” Xie Zhenhua, also deputy chief of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, told Xinhua in an interview.
The Warsaw negotiation has laid “a very good foundation” for the Lima talks scheduled next year and the Paris conference in 2015, and for all countries to agree on a new global deal on fighting climate change, he said


Egypt’s interim president approves protest law

Egypt‘s interim president Adly Mansour approved on Sunday a law regulating protests in the country, official news agency MENA reported.
The controversial “protest law” was submitted to the president by the Cabinet for review two weeks ago.
The approval comes as university students in several provinces have been staging protests to mark 100 days since the dispersal of two Cairo protest camps demanding the reinstatement of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.
According to the law, all public protests that have not been given prior written permission from the authorities are banned.


Rokot vehicle with 3 European satellites launched


Rokot vehicle with 3 European satellites launched from Russia’s Plesetsk space center

A Rokot launch vehicle carrying three European Swarm spacecraft lifted off from the Plesetsk space center in the Arkhangelsk region of Russia at 4:02 pm Moscow time Friday. “A light class Rokot space vehicle coupled with a Breeze-KM third stage is supposed to put European research satellites into orbit,” Col. Dmitry Zenin, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman for the Aerospace Defense Forces, told Interfax. The Swarm mission is aiming to provide a detailed analysis of the geomagnetic field and its evolution, the Astrium European company, the general contractor of the Swarm satellite project, said earlier. Three identical satellites will be deployed in a polar orbit with an altitude of 490 kilometers. 


Intel Newshot


Series of earthquakes hits northeast China

A series of earthquakes measuring over 5.0 in magnitude hit the Jilin Province in northeast China on Saturday. No casualties have been reported, according to Xinhua news agency, but 260,000 families in 125 villages have been affected and 45,000 people have been evacuated. As the result of the quakes, 310 apartment units collapsed and 16,000 houses have been seriously damaged. According to preliminary estimates by the civil affairs department of Jilin Province, the quake caused direct economic losses of 2 billion yuan (over $300 million).

Iran’s president meets Russian deputy PM in Tehran

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin met Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, for bilateral talks on Saturday in Tehran, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported. No details of the meeting were reported. Rogozin’s responsibilities include supervision of Russia’s defense industry. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, met in Geneva on Friday to discuss the upcoming talks of the P5+1 group – the US, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany – concerning Iran’s nuclear program.

China sets up air defense zone over disputed Islands

China has established an “air defense identification zone” over an area of the East China Sea covering disputed islands that are also claimed by Japan. The islands, which are known as the Diaoyu in China and the Senkaku in Japan, have been the source of rising tension between the two countries. In a statement, the Chinese Defense Ministry said any aircraft flying over the area must report a flight plan to Beijing, maintain two-way radio communications and respond in a timely and accurate manner when asked to identify themselves. Otherwise, China’s armed forces will adopt defensive emergency measures, the statement warns. Japan has lodged a strong protest and accused the Chinese of escalating the situation.

Syria Islamists claim capture of crucial oil field

Islamist rebel fighters led by the Al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front on Saturday claimed they have seized the largest oil field in eastern Syria, Reuters reported. There was no immediate confirmation of the report from the Syrian government. The possible capture of the al-Omar oil field would mean the government forces would have to almost completely rely on imported oil, Reuters said. The report also claimed the fighters of the al-Nusra Front captured several tanks and a weapons cache.

Syrian minister narrowly escapes assassination attempt

Ali Haidar, Syria’s Minister for National Reconciliation, narrowly escaped assassination as an attack aimed at his car in the Tartous province killed his driver, Syrian state media reported. Haidar is a member of the so-called “patriotic opposition” which is a party that criticizes the rule of President Bashar Assad, but does not support the uprising against him. 


Russian Rokot rocket delivers Swarm satellite system into orbit



Russian Rokot satellite rocket with a Briz-KM booster has delivered into orbit three European Swarm satellites, Russian defense ministry spokesman Colonel Dmitry Zenin told Interfax. The satellites have been successfully detached from the upper stage of the rocket and brought to their target orbit, Zenin said, adding that control over the system would soon be transferred to the customer. The Swarm system consists of three identical 472kg satellites designed to study the Earth’s magnetic field. This was the third launch of the Rokot rocket from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in 2013. 


Karzai refuses to sign security pact insist for peace

Members of the Afghan Loya Jirga, or 'general assembly', attend the first day of the assembly in Kabul on November 21, 2013. (AFP Photo / Massoud Hossaini)
Members of the Afghan Loya Jirga, or ‘general assembly’, attend the first day of the assembly in Kabul on November 21, 2013. 
 Afghanistan’s national assembly of elders has approved the signing of a security pact with Washington that would leave behind a residual US troop presence after withdrawal in 2014. President Hamid Karzai has said he will not sign the deal immediately.
The Loya Jirga voted in favor of a security deal with Washington that would allow US troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014 to train national security forces, a deputy speaker of the assembly told the BBC. The assembly is made up of 2,500 elders, tribal leaders and other influential figures in Afghanistan. 
“Given the current situation in, and Afghanistan’s need… the contents of this agreement as a whole is endorsed by the members of this Loya Jirga,” Fazul Karim Imaq, a deputy of the loya jirga said, reading a declaration reached at the end of the four-day grand meeting. 
“The loya jirga requests the president to sign the agreement before the end of 2013,”Imaq said.
President Karzai said he would not sign the deal immediately and that the US needed to bring peace to Afghanistan before any agreement was reached.
“If there is no peace then this agreement will bring misfortune to Afghanistan,” Karzai said in an address to the Loya Jirga. “Peace is our precondition. America should bring us peace and then we will sign it.”
Washington has criticized President Hamid Karzai’s government for delaying the signing of the treaty, insisting there must be a decision before the end of this year. The White House wants to finalize plans of how many troops will remain behind following the scheduled withdrawal of forces at the end of next year.
Secretary of State John Kerry warned Karzai in a telephone call on Friday that delays were “unacceptable” would risk the total withdrawal of US forces.
In the call, Kerry told Karzai that waiting several more months to sign the pact would“make it impossible for the U.S. and allies to plan for a post-2014 presence,” said State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki. Media agencies


Netanyahu :World is ‘more dangerous place’ after Iran deal


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has slammed the international deal over Iran’s nuclear program, branding it a “historic mistake.” He accused the six nation allowing Tehran a step further “towards obtaining the world’s most dangerous weapon.”

Netanyahu condemned the deal at a cabinet meeting on Sunday and said the world has become a more dangerous place.
“What was achieved last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement, it was a historic mistake,” Netanyahu told his cabinet. “Today the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world took a significant step towards obtaining the world’s most dangerous weapon.”
“Israel is not committed by this agreement,” Netanyahu told his Cabinet. “The regime in Iran is committed to destroying Israel. [But] Israel has the right and obligation to defend itself from any threat, [and] will not allow Iran to develop a military nuclear capability.”
Netanyahu said that the international community had actually “agreed for the first time to uranium enrichment in Iran, while ignoring Security Council resolutions that they themselves promoted.”
He also reiterated that military action against Iran was possible, but Civil Defense Minister Gilad Erdan warned that the Geneva deal “makes it much more difficult in the diplomatic sphere to talk about a military option.”
Israel has never publicly acknowledged that it has nuclear weapons, but is widely believed to be the only power possessing the atomic bomb in the Middle East. It has consistently called on the international community to strip Iran of its nuclear enrichment capabilities.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Sunday’s Cabinet meeting that the Geneva accord was Tehran’s “greatest diplomatic triumph” since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. 
US President Barack Obama plans to talk to Netanyahu on Sunday to address Israel’s concerns about the Iran nuclear deal, according to a senior US official.
Earlier on Sunday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that the deal between Iran and major world powers would make it more difficult for Iran to make a dash to build a nuclear weapon, and would make Israel and other American allies safer.
Under the deal struck on Sunday night by the P5+1, Iran agreed to freeze its nuclear program for the next 6 months and cease construction work on the Arak reactor. In addition, Tehran agreed to stop enriching uranium beyond 5 per cent in a bid to allay fears it seeks to construct a nuclear bomb. In return sanctions on Tehran’s economy will be lightened, allowing Iran access to $4.2 billion in funds frozen as part of the financial sanctions.


A foreign policy adviser to the Saudi Arabian government, speaking to media  on condition of anonymity, said that Sunni Arab states do not welcome the Geneva nuclear deal. So far, Riyadh has made no official response.
Just hours before the Geneva deal was signed, the rulers of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait met late Saturday night to discuss “issues of interest to the three nations,”Reuters reported.
Abdullah al-Askar , the chairman of Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council, an advisory body to King Abdullah, said that Tehran had “an ugly agenda in the region” and expressed concern that Iran could seek to gain the upper hand in regional politics in return for mothballing its nuclear program.
“I am afraid Iran will give up something on [its nuclear program] to get something else from the major powers in terms of regional politics. And I’m worrying about giving Iran more space or a freer hand in the region,” al-Askar said, adding that the people of the region “know Iranian policies and Iranian ambitions” and are afraid that Tehran might “interfere in the politics of many countries in the region.”
“No one in the region will sleep and assume things are going smoothly,” al-Askar said.
“I think Saudi Arabia will go ahead if Iran goes ahead [and gets a nuclear weapon],” he said. “I think Egypt, maybe Turkey, Saudi Arabia, maybe the Emirates, would go ahead and acquire the same technology. This will open wide the door to weaponization.”
Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, in charge of monitoring Iran’s nuclear program, has said there is no reason for the world to be celebrating.
He says the deal that was reached in Geneva on Sunday is based on “Iranian deception and self-delusion.” Media agencies


Iran agree landmark nuclear deal at Geneva talks


(L to R) British Foreign Secretary William Hague, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, US Secretary of State John Kerry, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attend a plenary session on early November 24, 2013 in Geneva. (AFP Photo / Fabrice Coffrini)(L to R) British Foreign Secretary William Hague, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, US Secretary of State John Kerry, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
Tehran has repeatedly denied that it is developing atomic weapons, however, and maintains that its nuclear program is purely for civilian purposes.Ministers overcame the last remaining hurdles to reach agreement, despite strong pressure from Israel and lobby groups.
“India welcomes the prospect of resolving questions related to Iran’s nuclear programme through dialogue and diplomacy,” official spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry said in New Delhi on Sunday.
Capping four days of negotiations, representatives the US, the UK, Russia, China, France and Germany (P5+1 group of nations) reached an agreement with Iran in the early hours in Geneva to slow its controversial nuclear programme in return for about USD 7 billion in sanctions relief.
Under the deal, Iran agreed to give better access to inspectors and halt some of its work on uranium enrichment. But Iranian negotiators insisted they still had a right to nuclear power.
In return, there will be no new nuclear-related sanctions on Iran for six months.
The agreement is consistent with India’s position that the issue should be resolved diplomatically on the basis of a recognition of Iran’s right to peaceful use of nuclear energy and in accordance with its international obligations as a non-nuclear weapon state.
While stating that government was “in the process of obtaining details from our key interlocutors”, the spokesperson recalled that India had welcomed the earlier agreement reached on 11th November between Iran and the IAEA, which is the only competent technical agency to verify the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear activities, on practical measures for enhanced IAEA verification activity at Iranian nuclear sites.
However, sanctions on oil exports from Iran will continue, affecting India and other countries.
India has slashed import of crude oil from Iran by over 26.5 percent in the financial year ended 31st March as US and European sanctions made it difficult to ship oil from the Persian Gulf nation.
Under the deal, Iran will also stop enriching uranium beyond 5 percent, the level at which it can be used for weapons research, and reduce its stockpile of uranium enriched beyond this point.
The agreement — described as an “initial, six-month” deal — could build trust and confidence between Iran and the international community and can lead to a durable and long-term settlement of the nuclear issue.
Under the interim agreement, Tehran will be allowed access to $4.2 billion in funds frozen as part of the financial sanctions imposed on Iran over suspicions that its nuclear program is aimed at producing an atomic bomb.
Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, called the deal a “major success” and said Tehran would expand its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
While Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that the deal reached in Geneva shows that world powers have recognized Tehran’s “nuclear rights.”
“Constructive engagement [and] tireless efforts by negotiating teams are to open new horizons,” Rouhani said on Twitter shortly after the announcement.
Foreign ministers from the US, Russia, UK, France, China, Germany and the EU hailed the deal as a step toward a “comprehensive solution” to the nuclear standoff between Tehran and the West. The interim deal was reached early Sunday morning in Geneva after some 18 hours of negotiation.
“While today’s announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal,” US President Barack Obama said in a statement at the White House. “For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back.”
Obama said that if Iran fails to keep to its commitments over the next six months, the US will “ratchet up” sanctions. US Secretary of State John Kerry, a key participant in the Geneva talks, said that Iran still had to prove it is not seeking to develop atomic weapons.   Media agencies


ASEAN leaders pledge support for growth of North East region

ASEAN leaders pledge support for growth of North East region
Representatives from Southeast Asian nations and business leaders of the country have pledged to contribute substantially for the socio-economic growth of the North East region at a two-day North East Business Summit in Dibrugarh, Assam.
Dato Paduka Haji Sidek Ali, the High Commissioner of Brunei Darussalam and chairman of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), New Delhi Committee, said in his valedictory speech that only connectivity could bolster the trade and commerce activities in the region by giving easy access to market, investments and tourism potential of the region. 
During the concluding session, Cambodia Secretary of State Tith Chantha called for improving relationship by promoting particularly the tourism sector for mutual benefit of ASEAN. 
The Summit was organised under the aegis of the Union DoNER Ministry and Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) at Dibrugarh University with the valedictory programme had the theme Building bridges with South East Asia. 
Lim Thuan Kuan, High Commissioner from Singapore stressed on the importance of knowing how to implement projects. Siaosavath Savengsuka, Vice Minister of Industry and Commerce of Lao Peoples Democratic Republic (PDR) said that ASEAN master plans and dreams can be realised only when there was direct link between India and Lao, Vietnam, Singapore and other South East Asia via Myanmar and Thailand. 
The Summit Chairman and Union DoNER Minister Paban Singh Ghatowar said that the central government was working with the governments of Myanmar and Thailand for fast implementation of the Trilateral Highway Project to improve connectivity so as to boost trade and investments among the countries. 
“Special emphasis is required to be given to enhance sub-regional cooperation under the ambit of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and ASEAN with greater in-built trade and people-to-people exchanges”, Ghatowar said in his valedictory speech. 
During the day, several technical sessions on various subjects were held on energising the Northeast, agriculture and food, infrastructure and connectivity, higher education and skills development, tourism and IT and Financial Services. 


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