Monday, December 2, 2013

Japan to assist Myanmar economic zone

2 12 2013

 

 
Japan  continue to provide Myanmar with assistance on the development of an industrial complex near the largest city of Yangon. Japan’s industry minister Toshimitsu Motegi met with Myanmar’s Minister of Electric Power Khin Maung Soe in Tokyo on Monday.
Motegi said the joint development project at the Thilawa special economic zone is proceeding well with an aim to launch operations in 2015.
The Myanmar minister responded that his country appreciates the assistance provided by Japan.
The project to develop the Thilawa zone is a major component of aid to Myanmar by Japan’s public and private sectors.
The two ministers agreed that Japan will provide financial and technical assistance to build power plants and an electricity grid to secure a stable power supply for the zone. Media agencies

Shanghai air pollution at record level

2 12 2013

 

 
 
 
Weather officials in the eastern Chinese city of Shanghai are warning residents about dense smog as an air pollution index hit a record high. As per standard for PM2.5 at 70 micrograms, The average density of fine airborne particles called PM 2.5 was 220 micrograms per cubic meter in the city on Sunday. That was the highest since the city began releasing such data in June of last year.
The severe pollution continued on Monday, with the average index for 24 hours reaching 259 micrograms as of 5 PM.
Health authorities in neighboring Japan have set the daily safety standard for PM2.5 at 70 micrograms.
Shanghai figures are 3 to 4 times that of standard for PM2.5 at 70 micrograms
Shanghai weather officials on Monday has  issued a warning to citizens to refrain from going outdoors, adding that the dense smog has reduced visibility to less than 2 kilometers.
The city’s kindergartens, elementary and middle schools cancelled all extracurricular activities.

“Dun & Bradstreet – Oriental Bank of Commerce

2 12 2013
Image

Shri Bhupinder Nayyar, Executive Director, Oriental Bank of Commerce along with Shri Rajive Chawla, President, Faridabad Small Industries Association

releasing the report “Dun & Bradstreet – Oriental Bank of Commerce SME Cluster Series 2013 : Faridabad” during the event organized in Faridabad by

Oriental Bank of Commerce in association with Dun & Bradstreet. The report provides an overview of the SMEs operating in Faridabad and an update on the

economic and environmental framework for the same. During the interaction Shri Nayyar, also announced the reduction in Rates of Interest applicable to MSME

sector advances (Manufacturing as well as Services) w.e.f. 01.12.2013. The rates offered by Oriental Bank of Commerce are amongst the most competitive in the Industry.
Upcoming Business Delegations at FICCI
 

We are pleased to inform you that FICCI is receiving following Business delegations in the month of December & FICCI is organizing  Interactive Business Meeting with them as per the below given schedule :
 
Meeting with Business Delegation from Russia
  • Date: 09 December, 2013
  • Venue: Federation House, New Delhi
  • Time: 2:30 hours onwards
The delegation comprises of businessmen from the fields of Water treatment & Purification, Trainings, Export promotion, Chemical, Real Estate consulating, Online content delivery network, Consulting etc
 
Meeting with Business Delegation from Poland
  • Date: 10th December, 2013
  • Venue: Federation House, New Delhi
  • Time: 10:30 A.M. - 12.30 P.M.
The delegation comprises of businessmen from the fields of Agriculture Machinery , Aero Space, Food Products, Diary Products, Bakery Products, Spices & Nuts, Steel etc.
 
Meeting with Furniture Business Delegation from Turkey
  • Date: 12 December, 2013
  • Venue: Federation House, New Delhi
  • Time: 10:00 hours
The delegation comprises of businessmen from the fields of Sofa & Furniture Industry

To view the list of delegates, their company profile & business interest of the delegations, please logon to http://www.ficci-b2b.com/buyer-seller-meet/ . Please use the same link to register online.

 
For any further query/details, please write to :
 
Mr. Samrat Soo
Deputy Director
Email: samrat.soo@ficci.com
Mr. Amit Tyagi
Joint Director
Email: amit.tyagi@ficci.com
 
 
With kind regards

 
(Nirankar Saxena)
Senior Director, FICCI

‘Beatriz’s War’ from East Timor bags ‘Golden Peacock’ at IFFI 2013

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Government to put up single window clearance system for shooting of films in India 
Festival closes with screening of ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’ 
East Timor film ‘Beatriz’s War’ bagged Golden Peacock award for Best Film at the closing ceremony of 44th International Film Festival of India. The film, directed by Bety Reis and Luigi Acquisto, is a passionate story of one woman’s conviction to remain true to the man she loves. The award carries a Golden Peacock, a certificate and a Cash Prize of Rs. 40 lakh. 
Indian Director Kaushik Ganguli bags the award for Best Director for his Bengali film ‘Apur Panchali’. The award carries a Silver Peacock, a certificate and a cash prize of Rs. 15 lakh. 
Special Jury Award went to Turkish film ‘Thou Gild’st The Even’, directed by Onur Unlu. The award carries a Silver Peacock, a certificate and a cash prize of Rs. 15 lakh. 
Best Actor (Male) award went to Alon Moni Aboutboul for his performance in Israeli movie ‘A Place in Heaven’. The award carries a Silver Peacock, a certificate and a cash prize of Rs. 10 lakh. 
Best Actor (Female) award was presented to Boczarska Magdalena for her excellent performance in Polish film ‘In Hiding’. The Award carries a Silver Peacock, a certificate and a cash prize of Rs. 10 lakh. 
The Special Centenary Award was given to Bengali film ‘Meghe Dhaka Tara’, directed by Kamaleshwar Mukherjee. The award carries a Silver Peacock, a certificate and a cash prize of Rs. 10 lakh. 
On the occasion Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Shri Manish Tewari said that 44th IFFI was a celebration of freedom of the human spirit, liberated from the mores of conventionalism, imbued with the ability to dare and above all the power of a ‘New Idea’. Talking about the initiatives taken over the past one year, he said, the first and foremost is the single window mechanism that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has put in place to allow and facilitate film makers from abroad to come and shoot in India in any part of the country with convenience. He added that the same mechanism has been extended to domestic film producers also so that the number of clearances which they face for shooting are brought down so that the whole business of film or producing films can be streamlined. He said that the government has also taken the initiative to replace the archaic Cinematograph Act with a completely new legislation, the draft of which is on the Ministry’s website for public consultation. He said that the government is proposing to increase the number of cinema screens across the country by working with state governments. 
Justin Chadwick’s film ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’ was the closing film of the festival. The film is based on anti-apartheid revolutionary and former South African President Nelson Mandela’s autobiographic book, ‘Long Walk to Freedom’. The film chronicles his life from his childhood in a rural village to his emergence as the first democratically elected President of South Africa. 
With this, the 11-day extravaganza of films, discussions and press conferences on films came to an end. Governor of Goa Shri Bharat Veer Wanchoo, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Shri Manish Tewari, Chief Minister of Goa, Shri Manohar Parrikar, many International and Bollywood personalities including Asha Parekh, Rohit Shetty, Jimmy Shergil and Deepshikha were also present at the closing ceremony. Famous Malaysian actress and filmmaker Michelle Yeoh was the Chief Guest for the closing ceremony. The ceremony opened with gala performances by renowned Indian rock fusion artist and film playback singer Remo Fernandes from Goa. 
Joint Secretary (Films), Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Shri Raghavendra Singh and Chairman, Governing Council of Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG) Shri Vishnu Surya Wagh were also present at the closing ceremony. 


 

Protesters block govt HQ in Kiev

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Participants in a rally in support of Ukraine's integration with the EU, near Kiev's city hall occupied by protesters on December 2, 2013. (RIA Novosti / Andrey Stenin)Participants in a rally in support of Ukraine’s integration with the EU, near Kiev’s city hall occupied by protesters on December 2, 2013.
The demonstrators managed to storm the Kiev City Council building.
The opposition are trying to  entrenched  in the center of the Ukrainian capital, ready to repel police, while a column of 5,000 activists are picketing the cabinet headquarters. Police are trying to persuade intruders to leave government facilities.
Early in the morning opposition leaders formed a column of protesters that marched to the Ukrainian government headquarters and encircled it, declaring they would stay there all day to prevent the government from functioning. Protesters have also announced a national strike starting from Monday.
Eight buses with officers from the Berkut riot police squad are parked in the courtyard of the government building, but they are not interfering with the demonstrators. Police are guarding the entrances to the cabinet.
Those blocking government headquarters are carrying national flags and banners of the nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) party, following overnight clashes with the police. Opposition leaders have addressed their supporters and reiterated their demands: resignation of both the government and the president and early presidential and parliamentary elections.
Former minister of the interior and currently one of the leaders of the opposition, Yury Lutsenko, called on the people to rally near the cabinet building and not to approach the presidential administration, which was fruitlessly sieged on Sunday.
The rally near the seat of government will continue until “an order to return to Maidan [Independence Square] comes,” Lutsenko stressed.
Protest leaders are stressing that the march is peaceful and are calling on their supporters to “remain calm”.
Ukrainian protest reached a head of steam the previous night in fierce clashes with police, who were trying to contain a human sea of reportedly around 500,000 protesting people. Media agencies


 

Egypt draft charter approved for referendum

2122013
 
Egypt draft charter approved for referendum
Egypt’s new draft constitution has been approved for a referendum billed as the first stage in a “democratic transition” promised by military-installed authorities after Islamist president Mohamed Morsi’s July ouster.
“Now we have approved the draft,” Amr Mussa, the head of the 50-member constitution-drafting panel, announced on live television on Sunday. 
“The draft will be given to (interim president) Adly Mansour on Tuesday,” he said, adding: “Long live Egypt.”
The revised charter, which preserves the military’s wide-ranging powers, including the ability to try civilians in certain cases, will be put to a referendum expected to be held in January. 
Earlier the panel had rejected an article outlining the schedule of parliamentary and presidential elections — tentatively planned for mid-2014 — forcing the charter writers to redraft it. 
The rewritten article, read out by Mussa, says the procedures for the “first election” must begin at least 30 days after the adoption of the constitution but cannot go beyond 90 days. 
“Procedures for the other election must begin within six months of the referendum.” The rewritten article did not specify which election would be held first. 
Abdel Gilil Mustafa, a senior member of the panel, told an Egyptian television network that “the president will decide which election will be held first.” 


 

Four dead, 63 injured in NYC train derailment

2122013
Metro-North passenger train derailed in the Bronx area of New York City, with reports of four deaths and 63 injured, 11 of them critically, according to the FDNY, media reports.
Rebecca Schwartz, a witness at the scene, told the AP news agency that some of the carriages were submerged in water and that numerous emergency vehicles were at the scene. However, photos taken by witnesses show the cars just derailed without slipping into the water. Local media say up to 135 firefighters are at the scene. Police later said that the carriages were not submerged in water.   
The Metropolitan Transit Authority identified the four victims as 54-year-old Donna L. Smith of Newburgh; 58-year-old James G. Lovell of Cold Spring; 59-year-old James M. Ferrari of Montrose; and 35-year-old Ahn Kisook of Queens.

Emergency workers at the scene of a commuter train wreck on Dec 1, 2013 in the Bronx borough of New York. (AFP Photo / Timothy A. Clary)
Emergency workers at the scene of a commuter train wreck on Dec 1, 2013 in the Bronx borough of New York. 

The derailment happened just north of Manhattan, near Spuyten Duyvil station, shortly after 7am on Sunday. According to ABC, the train was the 5:54 from Poughkeepsie to Grand Central and was due to arrive into Grand Central at 07:43. 
Five cars of the train’s seven carriages came off the track about 100 feet north of the station just after 7am, MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan told WCBS 880 radio. 
Donovan who was working near the scene of the crash said the noise was so great he thought a plane was coming in.
“I was at my desk at my computer, and I thought a plane was coming in. I jumped away. Then after the noise stopped, I looked out the window and saw the derailment, and I called 911 right away,” he said. 

Emergency crews at the scene of a commuter train wreck on Dec 1, 2013 in the Bronx borough of New York. (AFP Photo / Timothy A. Clary)
Emergency crews at the scene of a commuter train wreck on Dec 1, 2013 in the Bronx borough of New York.

Frank Tatulli, a passenger who managed to get out of the wreck on his own despite suffering head and neck injuries, told WABC radio that he thought the train was traveling faster than usual. 
The New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo confirmed the casualty figures and said that the authorities believe everyone at the site has been accounted for. He added that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was on its way to the crash site to begin an investigation. Media agencies RT


 

Sonia Gandhi inaugurates projects in Raebareli

2122013
जीत जायेंगे हम आप अगर संग हैं l<br /> #Bharatnirman
Sonia Gandhi visited her constituency Raebareli today. She will Inaugurate numerous public welfare projects .Gandhi, reached Raebareli   this morning, inaugurated and laid foundation of over 50 roads constructed under Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojna (PMGSY) connecting various villages of her constituency.She inaugurated a water treatment plant at Saraimugla. During the visit, she would lay the foundation of a new railway line — Raebareli- Maharajganj-Akbarganj. This line would bring Mahrajganj tehsil of Raebareli on the railway map for the first time.
Raebareli to be connected to Faizabad by the shortest railway route. Later in the day, Gandhi will also inaugurate an FM radio station at Akashwani premises on Amawan road. The FM rainbow available at 102.8 mhz would provide information and entertainment to people of the constituency.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Monday inaugurated several roads projects  in her parliamentary constituency Raebareli, where she will  launch a host of other projects, including a railway line.


 

At WTO India to press for food security right

2122013
Bali WTO meet: India to press for food security right
The  crucial WTO ministerial meeting in Bali this week, India made it very clear that it will be firm on the core agenda of food security while pursuing a “persuasive and constructive” dialogue.
The Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference to be held in Bali, Indonesia, from December 3 to 6.
A day after Commerce Minister Anand Sharma asserted that India will secure and protect its right to food security and strive for a permanent immunity from any kind of farm subsidy breach, he is likely to unequivocally convey to his interlocutors that India’s concerns on food security are non- negotiable.
Sharma, who is leading a 30-member delegation for the Bali meet, is also likely to raise strongly the issue of subsistence to farmers in India in the G-33 meeting being convened tomorrow ahead of the ministerial conference.
Sources said he will underscore the fact the Bali ministerial meet must have a fair and balanced outcome, addressing concerns of developing countries adequately, especially on food security.
The Minister is expected to take a position that India’s public stock-holding programme for public distribution system cannot be compromised for minor gains of developed countries. Sharma is likely to underscore India’s commitment for the LDC (least developed countries) agenda where India has taken a unilateral decision for zero duty access covering 96.2 per cent of tariff lines.
India will demonstrate its constructive engagement, as it has unequivocally endorsed 3 out of the 5 issues under consideration – LDC issues, tariff rate quota and export competition, sources said.
Sharma may also pitch for a balanced outcome which addresses India’s food security concerns and not just an outcome which concerns the interests of the strong exporting economies of the developed world. Media agencies


 

Parliament has delayed Adolescent Labour Abolition Bill,

2122013
Debra Rosen, Walk Free
To Nksagar_1@yahoo.com
 
Today at 12:33 AM
hsi-email-logo-2013.jpg
Hi Naresh,
“On the day that Durga Mala was rescued, she lay crying on the stone floor, where she was attempting to cool her back. She was 11 years old and her skin was covered with blisters, from her shoulder blades to her buttocks. A few days earlier, her owners had poured hot oil over her because they thought she was working too slowly.”1
The Indian Parliament must believe we’re not concerned about Durga or millions of children like her in India. Why? Because time and again, the Parliament has delayed a vote on the Child and Adolescent Labour Abolition Bill, which would ban employment of children up to 14 years of age. But we are watching.
The Indian Parliament resumes on 5 December. Every day the bill is delayed, several children remain at risk of being bought and sold to work in unimaginable conditions of sex slavery, bonded labour and domestic servitude. Unless we speak up.
We need to build massive public pressure for the Indian government to pass this historic legislation that will help end child slavery in India.
In just days, the Indian Parliament will resume. This is our last chance to put the bill to vote before general elections next year.
The Child and Adolescent Labour Abolition Bill will: 
1. Prohibit employment of children up to 14 years of age; 
2. Outline harsher sentences for violators of child labour laws; and 
3. Provide for monitoring of suspected instances of child slavery. 
While stories like Durga’s are making headlines, there are many more that remain hidden, trapped in the nightmare of modern slavery – with no choice, no pay and with no realistic chance of escaping. At an age when children should be in school, they are being subjected to situations that make them vulnerable to serious physical and psychological harm.
But all this could end. The ban on child labour will help end enslavement of children in India. But the delay to vote on this bill is delaying freedom for children from modern slavery. Even scarring them for life.
Thank you in advance for your support. Once you have taken action, please forward this message on to everyone you know and help bring us one step closer to eliminating modern slavery.
In solidarity,
Debra, Mich, Jess, Kamini, Mika, Sarah, Kate, Olly, Joanna, Jayde and the Walk Free Team
P.S. On Twitter? Follow us  
Walk Free is a movement of people everywhere, fighting to end one of the world’s greatest evils: Modern slavery.
This email was sent to . You can unsubscribe from WalkFree.org at any time.
© 2013 WalkFree.org | All rights reserved | www.walkfree.org


 

“Panchal Maha Utsav”

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“Panchal Maha Utsav” A festival in tribute to the brave spirit of Princess of Panchal, Draupadi – we present:
“Kavita ki ek Shaam, Panchali ke Naam”
India International Center: December 18, 6pm – 8.30pm
with Nationally Renowned Poets, Presided by Dr. Girija Vyas, Hon.Minister, GOI
Followed by dance drama “Women of Mahabharata” from
Sharon Lowen, Shovna Narayan and groups:
Inline image 1
We request your gracious presence at the Programs of

The Panchal MahaUtsav
A Festival to celebrate the rich Cultural Heritage of the auspicious land of Draupadi,
the Princess of Panchal, as a tribute to her brave spirit.

The programs showcase the Folk Traditions, Art, History, Literature, Culture etc of the once powerful & prosperous Panchal land, which was the land of Draupadi’s birth, and famous for its Vedic knowledge.
Festival is from 15th-19th Dec 2013,
Venue:
Dilli Haat for Craft & Folk Performances,
IIC for Seminar, Panel Discussion & Kavita ki Shaam Panchali Ke Naam.
The program outline is attached herein.
Team Draupadi Trust
Please support us by “liking” our page and by inviting your friends to this event!! THANK YOU!! 



 

Intel news around the world

2122013

Bangladesh blockade extended

Bangladesh, the 18-party BNP-led Opposition combine has extended the nationwide rail-road-waterways 72-hour blockade by another 49 hours till Thursday evening. The Opposition is demanding postponement of January 5 parliamentary elections till agreement is reached on election-time government. Rail links have virtually been paralysed, while long-distance buses and ferries remain affected. Top BNP leaders have been sued for instigating violence, and police have arrested hordes of activists. The Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmed stated last night that elections will not be postponed and that nominations have to be filled within the stipulated date of 2nd December. Meanwhile UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillai have asked Bangladesh leaders to stop brinkmanship, whatever their differences, warning political chaos will lead the country to a dangerous state. At least 28 people have died and hundreds injured in two spells of blockades since November 25th when elections were announced.

NSC accuses US of pressurising it to sign Afghan-US BSA:

Afghan National Security Council (NSC) has accused the United States of pressurising it to sign the Afghan-US Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA). It alleged that the pressure tactcits include cutting the fuel supplies to Afghan Army and the Police. A press statement issued by the the President’s office in Kabul says, the meeting of NSC was held under the chairmanship of President Hamid Karzai and it reviewed the reports presented by the Afghan Defense and Interior Ministries. The Defense and Interior Ministers briefed the meeting about the stopping of fuel supply, delivery and other support services for the Afghan Security Forces by the United States. The statement described the step by the US-led NATO forces to be against the previous commitments by the alliance towards the Afghan security forces. According to the statement the members of the Afghan NSC insisted that the proposed Afghanistan-US bilateral security agreement can only be singed through mutual cooperation and not through pressure.

The UN mandated International Force combat mission in Afghanistan is likely to end by the next year. For the continued presence of some US troops in the war ravaged country after 2014 Afghanistan and the United States are negotiating for the past one year. Although they have ironed out most of their differences, but some issues like the legal immunity to the US troops from prosecution in case of any omission and commission is still hanging on fire. Although the Loya Jirga or the grand council of Afghan tribal elders, held recently in Kabul approved signing of the agreement, President Karzai has said that the agreement will be signed after the presidential election in Afghanistan in April next year. On the other hand the US wants that the agreement should be signed immediately.

Canadian arrested on suspicion of spying for China

Canadian police have arrested a Toronto resident suspected of suspected of seeking to pass classified information to China about Canadian shipbuilding procurement policies, reported Reuters. Jennifer Strachan, a chief superintendent with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, told reporters that Canadian citizen Qing Quentin Huang, 53, who had worked for a subcontractor involved in ship design was arrested on Saturday. He faces two charges of attempting to communicate with a foreign entity. “In these types of cases, sharing of information may give a foreign entity a tactical, military or competitive advantage by knowing the specifications of vessels responsible for defending Canadian waters and Canadian sovereignty,” she said. Strachan refused to comment on what sort of information the suspect attempted to provide to China, but stated that it posed no threat to public safety.
India- U.S. Police Chiefs Conference
The India-U.S. Police Chiefs conference will be held on 4th and 5th December, 2013 at New Delhi and inaugurated by Union Home Minister Shri Sushilkumar Shinde. The conference will be attended by U.S. delegation consisting of Police Chiefs from major cities and their technology partners. The representatives of Indian delegation with include Indian State Police Forces, Para-military Forces, Technology partners and other law enforcement agencies.The conference aims to open floor for the technology partners of both countries to evolve an institutionalized mechanism so as to work incessantly on sustainable technology up gradation for perceptible reduction in crime and providing more secure and livable environment to citizens. Cyber security and use of Forensic Science to determine accuracy of crime investigation will remain focal point of the conference.
During the two day event, both sides will make presentations on response to mass casualty events, Maritime Security and Law Enforcement (Passenger & Cargo Security), Surveillance and Command Control in Urban Policing, Security and Law Enforcement in Mass Transit System, Lawful Interception (Intelligence) & Investigations, Crime Investigations and Forensics and Community Policing in multi-jurisdictional complex environment.
The participants will deliberate on the key areas of internal security and explore future perspective of collaboration for building strategic alliances through the use of effective techniques for professional excellence of the police forces.
A delegation of MHA officials headed by Union Home Minister Shri Sushilkumar Shinde had visited the USA in May, 2013 to discuss various issues of internal security. The focus of discussion remained on the operational coordination between the law enforcement agencies of both the countries. The Indian side had proposed to organise the Police Chiefs’ conference at New Delhi to share and exchange knowledge on success, best practices and lessons learned in the context of mega city policing, critical infrastructure protection, cyber security and other matters pertaining to internal security.

Thai PM rejects protesters’ demands

Yingluck Shinawatra says demands to dissolve parliament and establish a “people’s council” are unconstitutional.

Libya ready for re-opening of Russian embassy in Tripoli

Libya is ready for the re-opening of the Russian embassy in Tripoli, Libyan Foreign Minister Muhammad Abdel-Aziz has said. “We are having intensive consultations with the Russian government, primarily with the Foreign Ministry, on the return of the embassy to Libya,” he told Voice of Russia radio. “We were told that a decision has been made on its return,” Interfax quoted him as saying.

Biden to visit Japan, China

US Vice-President Joe Biden is expected to seek a balance between calming military tensions with China and backing ally Japan on a trip to Asia this week, Reuters said. In Tokyo on Tuesday, Biden will likely assure Japan that a military alliance with the US is strong as the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wrangles with China over a territorial dispute. The vice-president will, however, have to try to calm tensions between the US and key trade partner China. Analysts believe China may have overreached with its announcement of the air defense zone as it becomes more assertive in the East China Sea and South China Sea. Biden is expected to suggest ways out of the crisis when he meets President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Wednesday.

US shopping season’s spending declines

Retailers drew bigger crowds during the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, but failed to motivate Americans to spend, AP reported. A record 141 million people were expected to shop in stores and online over the four-day period that ended on Sunday, up from last year’s 137 million. Over the four days, spending fell an estimated 2.9 percent to $57.4 billion. Shoppers, on average, were expected to spend $407.02 during the four days, down 3.9 percent from last year. That would be the first decline since the 2009 holiday shopping season.

UK’s Cameron in Beijing to promote EU-China free trade deal

British Prime Minister David Cameron arrived in Beijing on Monday with the largest UK trade delegation ever to visit China. He announced he wants to lay the groundwork for a full-scale multi-billion-dollar free trade deal between China and the EU, despite growing unease about his own country’s membership of the bloc, Reuters said. Some EU states fear their markets would be flooded with cheap Chinese imports if such a deal is signed, but Cameron points to the “massive success” of a similar deal with South Korea.

Thai riot police fire teargas to disperse protesters

Thai protesters on Monday renewed their attack on the government building in Bangkok, prompting riot police to fire tear gas and stun grenades. A crowd of around 2,000 gathered near barricades erected by the authorities to stop protesters approaching Government House, Reuters reported. The demonstrators also managed to dismantle some on Chaimaruchet Bridge, a main intersection on Sunday. Protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban said there were no negotiations with the government and, speaking on television, called for a general strike starting on Monday. The government has reportedly deployed troops in the capital.

Scotland helicopter crash death toll rises to nine

Police have discovered the body of one more victim in the debris of the Clutha Vaults pub in Glasgow, Scotland, bringing the total number of people killed in Friday’s crash to nine. The name of a fifth victim has also been released. “We can now confirm that Samuel McGhee died during the incident on Friday,” Detective Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick said. “Sadly I can also confirm the discovery of a further body.” She added that the investigation is ongoing. The police helicopter crashed into the roof of the crowded pub on Friday night, killing all three people on board the vehicle in addition to the five previously confirmed dead who had been in the building.

China’s lunar probe with first moon rover blasts off

China’s Chang’e-3 lunar probe with its first moon rover “Yutu” (Jade Rabbit) aboard took off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China, Xinhua state news agency reported. This is the first time China has sent a spacecraft to the surface of moon. The rover is to soft-land on the Earth’s satellite in mid-December to conduct surveys. If the mission is successful, China will become the third country to have landed on the moon, after the US and Russia.

120 killed in clashes in northern Yemen

Around 120 people have been killed and dozens wounded in northern Yemen as fighting erupted between Shiite Houthi rebels and Sunni Salafis, reports meedia. Clashes started after the Houthis, who control most of Saada province, accused the Salafis of massing thousands of fighters, including foreigners, in a religious school in Damaj with the aim of attacking them. The Salafis argued that the foreigners were religious students studying Islamic theology at the Dar al-Hadith academy. A government official, Amin al-Hemyari, who was in charge of enforcing a ceasefire reached last month, accused the Houthis of breaking the agreement. He said that no casualty figures were available for the Shiite rebels following the Sunday violence outbreak.

Ukrainian Interior Minister apologizes for crackdown on protesters

Ukrainian Minister of the Interior Vitaly Zakharchenko apologized for excessive use of force by the Berkut special police force division, while dispersing a pro-EU protest in the center of Kiev, the Ukrainian UNN news agency reports. Zakharchenko emphasized that he was totally against brutal crackdowns and had informed his subordinates of his position. The minister added he would insist on an investigation into the incident. The head of the Kiev police, Valery Koryak, who ordered the Berkut forces to disperse the crowd, reportedly earlier resigned from office.

Al-Qaeda claims presence in the West Bank

A group associated with Al-Qaeda has confirmed that three militants killed by Israeli forces in the West bank last week used to belong to an Islamist network that appeared in Palestine. In a statement posted on an Islamist web forum, a Majles Shura al-Mujahideen, or Holy Warriors’ Assembly, mentioned that “the global jihadi doctrine has reached the bank of pride, the West Bank.” Earlier Israeli officials accused the three killed Palestinians of plotting attacks against Israel. The three men, suspected of belonging to an Al-Qaeda-linked cell, violently resisted their arrest and were shot dead by Israeli troops.

6.3 quake strikes off Indonesian island

A magnitude 6.3 earthquake has struck at sea off the coast of Indonesia’s Barat Daya islands, the US Geological Survey reported. The quake struck in the early hours of Sunday morning. The epicenter of the tremor was located at a shallow depth of 10km not far from a small island called Damar. There have been no immediate reports of damage or casualties, nor reports of a tsunami warning.

6.2-magnitude quake strikes off Sumatra

An earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale has struck off the coast of Sumatra Island in Indonesia, reports the US Geological Survey. The epicenter of the quake was 260 kilometers west of the town of Sibolga in the Indian Ocean. No damage has been reported and a tsunami warning has not been issued.

5 dead in Italian factory fire

At least five people have been killed and three injured after a clothing factory caught fire in the town of Prato near Florence, according to fire service officials who spoke to media. The five charred bodies were recovered from what appeared to be an improvised dormitory on the site, and local media confirmed that at least 11 workers had been living in a small structure made out of cardboard walls above the warehouse. The factory is an area known to a number of Chinese-owned textile businesses.

Egypt police use tear gas against Pro-Morsi students on Tahrir square

Police in Cairo have used tear gas to disperse about a thousand students, supporters of the ousted president Mohammed Morsi, marching from Cairo University to the capital’s iconic Tahrir Square, Ahram Online reports. Protesters reportedly retreated to the Talaat Harb entrance to the square, heading for side streets. Islamist protesters rallied on Sunday against “the military rule” in Egypt and, also, to condemn the killing of a student by security forces during a demonstration on Thursday. Sunday’s rally has become the first time in over a month that Islamist anti-government protesters managed to enter the square that was the epicenter of previous uprisings.
SHOWCASE YOUR PRODUCTS IN IRAN
Exhibition & Buyer Seller Meet (BSM)
Dec 15-19, 2013: Tehran & Isfahan
Dear Sir/ Madam,
We are delighted to inform you that Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) in association with Ministry of Commerce & Industry, GOI, Iran Chamber of Commerce, Tehran Chamber of Commerce and Embassy of India is organising Three days Exhibition and Buyer Seller Meet (BSM) in Tehran and one day BSM in Isfahan from Dec 15 – 19, 2013.
India-Iran economic and commercial ties have traditionally been buoyed by Indian import of Iranian crude oil. India’s exports to Iran include Rice, Machinery & Instruments, Metals, primary and semi finished Iron & Steel, Drugs/Pharmaceuticals & Fine Chemicals, Processed Minerals, Manmade Yarn & Fabrics, Tea, Organic/Inorganic/Agro Chemicals, Rubber Manufactured Products, etc.
This exhibition would provide an excellent opportunity for Indian Business Commodities to showcase their products & services in Iranian Market.
This Exhibition & Business Meetings endeavors to bring together leading businessmen, Sr. Govt Officials and Policy Makers from Iran, to enable future business cooperation.  There would be exclusive Business-to-Business (B2B) meetings with Iranian companies during the exhibition.
Highlights of the Event
o Three days Exhibition: Showcasing best of India’s Products/ Services/ Technologies
o India – Iran Business Forum.

Thousands rally in Pakistan against US drone attacks

Around 5,000 people took to streets on Sunday in Pakistan’s second-largest city of Lahore, in protest of continued American drone strikes in the northwest of the country. The attacks have allegedly killed hundreds of civilians, including children. Chanting anti-US slogans and holding banners, demonstrators demanded an immediate end to the deadly assaults that have been regularly occurring since 2004 as part of the so-called “war on terror.”The rally was organized by the Defense of Pakistan Council (DPC) – an umbrella coalition of around 40 religious and political parties.Its leader, Maulana Sami-ul-Haq, called on all political parties, religious scholars and members of civil society to unite against the drone strikes
Media agencies

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