Friday, January 3, 2014

International News



7 arrested in Egypt in connection with suicide attack

Seven people from the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) party have been detained by Egyptian authorities for alleged involvement in a suicide bomb attack on a police station in Mansoura that killed 16 people last month, Egypt’s interior minister announced. The arrest included a son of one of the party’s leaders Yehya Almongi Saad Huseini. The Brotherhood denies being involved in the attack. A Sinai-based militant group, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, claimed responsibility for the December 24 attack in Mansoura.

Japan rescues balloonist near disputed islands

Japanese coastguards have rescued a Chinese hot air balloonist which crash-landed next to the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku islands in the East China Sea. According to the Japanese coastguard, the air balloon steered by a 35-year-old man crashed about 22 kilometers from the contested area. The passenger was rescued by a helicopter and handed over to a Chinese patrol ship which expressed gratitude for the rescue operation. The dispute over the uninhabited stretch of islands has intensified since 2012, with China setting up maritime patrols and East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone over the islands.

Chinese consulate in San Francisco hit in arson attack

The Chinese consulate in San Francisco has been left badly damaged after an unidentified person set fire to the main gate, the consulate said in a statement Thursday. The suspect parked a van in front of the building and carried two cans of petrol to the gate before setting it ablaze. Although it is common for protests to occur outside Chinese diplomatic missions in Western countries, acts of violence are rare.

Bombing and shootings kill at least 28 in Iraq

A suicide bomber driving a car packed with explosives killed at least 12 people and wounded another 25 in the north-eastern Iraqi city of Balad Ruz. In separate incidents four people were killed when a sticky bomb attached to a mini bus went off in the northern Shi’ite Baghdad suburb of Sha’ab. While in Latifiya, south of Baghdad, a roadside bomb killed four and injured 11. Six more people, including three soldiers were killed when gunmen opened fire at a military checkpoint in the same town according to police sources, Reuters reports.

Two Americans detained in Libya

Two US citizens are being held by the Libyan army at its headquarters in the eastern city of Benghazi, local security and army sources told Reuters. The identity of the Americans and the reason for their arrest was not immediately clear. Last week, four American military personal were held by the Libyan government for several hours before being released. Their convoy failed to stop at a military checkpoint and had been found to be carrying weapons


Bill Gates regains ranking as world’s richest person



Microsoft found Bill Gates has once again been granted the accolade of world’s richest person, knocking Mexican telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim off of the top spot. Bill Gates amassed a fortune of $78.5 billion over 2013, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index. The software magnate’s surge in wealth this year has boosted the collective fortune of the world’s 300 richest to a total of $3.7 trillion this year, Bloomberg calculated.


US withdraws embassy staff from S. Sudan amid violence



The US is evacuating its embassy staff from South Sudan in a “further drawdown” of its consular services, the State Department has announced. The move comes after a month-long conflict between rebels and government forces that has left at least 1,000 dead and around 180,000 forced from their homes. Representatives of President Salva Kiir’s government and the leader of the rebels, his former deputy Riek Machar, are holding negotiations to resolve the conflict.


Five new countries join UN Security Council



Jordan, Lithuania, Chile, Chad and Nigeria have joined the UN Security Council (UNSC) as non-permanent members for the next two years, as of Jan. 1, 2014. The new members replaced Azerbaijan, Guatemala, Morocco, Pakistan and Togo. Jordan, which took its seat on the Council after Saudi Arabia turned down a place, assumed the rotating presidency of the Security Council for January.


Passengers rescued from icebound Antarctic ship

Passengers rescued from icebound Antarctic ship
A helicopter rescued all 52 passengers from a research ship that has been trapped in Antarctic ice since Christmas Eve after weather conditions finally cleared enough for the operation on Thursday.
The Chinese helicopter carried the scientists and tourists from the Russian ship MV Akademik Shokalskiy in groups of 12 to an Australian icebreaker, said the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s Rescue Coordination Centre, which oversaw the rescue.
The Aurora Australis will now take the passengers to the Australian island state of Tasmania, a journey expected to last two weeks.
“I think everyone is relieved and excited to be going on to the Australian icebreaker and then home,” expedition leader Chris Turney told The Associated Press by satellite phone from the Antarctic.
All 22 crew members stayed with the icebound vessel, which is not in danger of sinking and has weeks’ worth of supplies on board. They will wait until the ice that surrounds the ship breaks up.
The eagerly anticipated rescue came after days of failed attempts to reach the vessel. Blinding snow, strong winds, fog and thick sea ice forced rescuers to turn back time and again. Three icebreakers were dispatched to try and crack their way through the ice surrounding the ship, but all failed. The Aurora came within 20 kilometres of the ship on Monday, but fierce winds and snow forced it to retreat to open water.
On Thursday, it appeared the weather had thwarted yet another rescue attempt. The helicopter was originally going to airlift the passengers to the Chinese icebreaker on which the copter is based, with a barge then ferrying the passengers to the Aurora. But sea ice prevented the barge from reaching the Snow Dragon icebreaker, and the maritime authority said the operation would have to be delayed. A last-minute change in plans allowed the rescue to go ahead.
The passengers were instead flown to an ice floe next to the Aurora and then taken by a small boat to the Australian ship, Turney said.
The Akademik Shokalskiy, which left New Zealand on November 28, got stuck after a blizzard pushed the sea ice around the ship, freezing it in place about 2,700 kilometres south of Hobart, Tasmania.
The scientific team on board had been recreating Australian explorer Douglas Mawson’s 1911 to 1913 voyage to Antarctica.
Turney had hoped to continue the trip if an icebreaker managed to free the ship.
Despite his disappointment over the expedition being cut short, he said his spirits remained high. “I’m a bit sad it’s ended this way,” he said. “But we got lots and lots of great science done.”


SC unhappy over comments

Homosexuality verdict: SC unhappy over comments
Supreme Court has expresses displeasure today over statements made by some Union ministers against its verdict on homosexuality. 
The apex court added that some of the statements are not in good taste and these are not appreciable in public.
Supreme Court however refused to pass any order against the ministers but cautions people holding high posts from making such type of statements. 


PM rules out third term;

PM rules out third term; to announce candidate at right time
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ruled himself out of the race for prime ministership after the next elections holding that Rahul Gandhi had “outstanding credentials” for the top job but said Narendra Modi as PM will be “disastrous” for the country.
He said the Congress party would decide on its prime ministerial candidate and announce it at an “appropriate” time.
Addressing a press conference, the third in his two terms, he sought to dispel the negative image of his government and the tag of weak prime minister for him after nine and half years in office saying he had done his best and put the country on a good growth momentum.
“I do not believe I am a weak prime minister. It is for historians to judge. The BJP and its associates may say whatever they like. If by strong prime minister you mean you preside over mass massacre of innocent citizens on the streets of Ahmedabad, if that is the measure of strength, I do not believe that that this country needs that kind of strength.
In his opening statement itself, the Prime Minister said after the general elections in a few months time “I will hand the baton over to a new prime minister. I hope it will be a UPA chosen prime minister and our party will work to that end.”
The Prime Minister, who faced a number of questions on corruption charges that sullied the image of UPA-II, asserted that the controversies surrounding coal blocks allocation scam and the 2G spectrum licences pertained to UPA-I and people had voted the coalition back to power in 2009.
“Well as far as charge of corruption are concerned, most of the charges relate to period of UPA-I. The coal block allocation as well 2G spectrum allocation, they were both in UPA-I. We went to the electorate in 2009 and people gave us mandate to rule again.
“These charges have been raised from time to time by the media, CAG and courts. They belong to the previous five years. People of India entrusted us with the responsibility to rule again. They do no seem to have paid heed to all charges of corruption,” he said.
Asked if he could have done something differently on the corruption issue since it has tainted his Mr. Clean image, Singh said he felt “somewhat sad. It was I who insisted that spectrum allocation should be transparent and fair. It was I who insisted that the allocation of coal blocks should be on the basis of auction. These facts were forgotten.
“Opposition has vested interests. Sometimes the media plays into their hands. When history is written we will come out unscathed. This is not to say that there are no irregularities. But the dimensions of the problem have been overstated by the media, by CAG sometimes and other entities.”
To various questions about his performance and how he would be judged, he said “I honestly believe that history will be kinder to me than the contemporary media or for that matter opposition parties.”
Replying to a question, Singh said he has indicated in his opening remarks that he is not going to be the candidate for prime ministership again. “Rahul Gandhi has outstanding credentials to be pm candidate.”
To another question, he said he has full confidence that the next prime minister would be from the UPA.
Asked whether a contest between Modi and Gandhi would be equal, he said “without discussing the merits of Narendra Modi, I sincerely believe that it will be disastrous for the country to have Narendra Modi as prime minister.”
When a questioner asked him about Modi’s campaign theme of a Congress-free India, Singh shot back, ” I sincerely believe what Narendra Modi is saying, it is not going to materialise.”
To a query whether “dual centres of power” in Congress had affected his functioning, Modi said “I sincerely believe that the arrangement where the Congress President and the Prime Minister did not happen to be same person has under the circumstance worked exceedingly well.
“For me it was a remarkable achievement that I have been able to complete 10 years without any hiccups between the prime minister and Congress President. Sonia Gandhi’s support has been enormous. She was there to back me which facilitated my task in more than one way.”
Asked about the perception that the decisions were taken in 10, Janpath, a reference to Sonia Gandhi’s house, he said, “It is not a question of Congress President or the Vice President. If they have any view it ought to be reflected in the government to the extent possible. It is not a disadvantage or a drawback in our system. This has enabled us to deal with many issues.
“If the government recognised issues, I don’t think it is right to say that this is wrong or it is disadvantage to make corrections if the party leadership says it is required in national interest.”


National Archives of India to Collaborate with State Archives of Turkey,Oman

National Archives of India to Collaborate with State Archives of Turkey and the National Records and Archvies Authority of Oman 
The National Archives of India has successfully collaborated with the State Archives of Turkey and the National Records and Archives Authority of Oman in a series of meetings in Ankara and Muscat during this week. The Director General National Archives of India V. Srinivas met the Director General State Archives of Turkey Dr. Ugur Unal in Istanbul on January 2, 2014 and the Chairman of the National Records and Archives Authority of Oman Dr. Hamad Mohd Al Dhawiani in Muscat on December 31, 2013. The protocol for collaboration in Archives was signed between India and Turkey during the visit of the President of India to Ankara on October 7, 2013. 
The Ambassador of India to Turkey Smt. Susmita Gongulee Thomas and the First Deputy Minister of Archives of Turkey Mr. M. Abdullah Canbek were present on the occasion in the State Archives of Turkey at Ankara when the Hindi and the Turkish Texts of the Protocol were signed and exchanged. 
The protocol allows National Archives of India to access ancient Ottoman Archives records amounting to 12 million documents with considerable historical importance in the year 2014. In the bilateral meeting both sides recognized the benefits from the collaboration in the field of archives and agreed on the need for deeper collaboration in the coming years to develop strong institutions and improved record management practices. India and Turkey agreed on the following road-map for future collaboration: (a) Identifying Archival Material of Mutual Interest: The National Archives of India agreed to host a delegation of Archivists from the State Archives of Turkey at the National Archives of India for a period of 5 days to identify documents which are of interest to the State Archives of Turkey. The State Archives of Turkey agreed to provide a catalogue of reference material available with the State Archives of Turkey for National Archives of India to identify areas of mutual interest; (b) Exhibition of Ottoman Archival Records in National Archives of India: The National Archives of India agreed to host a one week exhibition from the State Archives of Turkey in New Delhi at a time of mutual convenience in 2014. It was also agreed that an advance team from State Archives of Turkey could be deputed to National Archives of India to work out the logistical arrangements. (c) Collaboration in Training Programs: The National Archives of India agreed to build collaboration with the State Archives of Turkey in development of training programs through a Technical Assistance Program. (d) Collaboration in Digitization of Records: the National Archives of India agreed to explore possible areas of collaboration with the State Archives of Turkey in the exchange of digital copies and share experiences in this regard. 
In the bilateral meeting between Dr. Hamad Mohd. Al Dhawiani Chairman National Records and Archives Authority, Sultanate of Oman and V. Srinivas, Director General National Archives of India which was attended by the Ambassador of India to Oman Shri J.S. Mukul, the following areas of collaboration were identified (a) The National Archives of India will host an Omani delegation of Archivists at New Delhi to prepare proper reference media for the archival documents collected from Indian side; (b) The National Records and Archives Authority will hold an exhibition at New Delhi on Omani and Ottoman Archival records along with a seminar of Arabic Scholars from both sides participating in the deliberations. (c) A technical assistance program for development of training programs would be developed between the 2 institutions; (d) Both sides would seek to explore collaboration in digitization of archival records; (e) Both sides agreed to work on exchange of archivists to develop archival records in both countries; and (f) The National Archives of India would facilitate interaction with State Archives and Grant in Aid institutions associated with Portuguese history in India. Oman has hitherto accessed 73000 documents of historical importance from National Archives of India for building an international records section in the National Records and Archives Authority. 


AAP’s MS Dhir is Delhi speaker : Team Anna members will join the BJP

 Aam Aadmi Party today braced for a fight in the election for the post of Delhi Assembly Speaker, naming first-time MLA from Jangpura constituency MS Dhir as its candidate. Aam Admi Party MLA, M S Dhir has been elected as Speaker of Delhi Assembly. Pro-tem Speaker Mateen Ahmad announced this in the House after voice vote. Speaker’s election  scheduled to have taken place on January 3, a day after the trust vote to be sought by the government in the Assembly.AAP’s MS Dhir becomes the Speaker of the Delhi Assembly.  37 MLAs support Dhir while 32 legislators back BJP candidate Jagdish Mukhi. 
Rumours to be believed  then Team Anna members will join the BJP on January 14. They include, Kiran Bedi, Akhil Gogoi, Avinash Dharmadhikari, Shivendra Chauhan, General VK Singh and Justice Santosh Hegde.


Reel life couple who cannot see eye-to-eye in real life


Tinsel town is riddled with tales of successful reel life pairs who can’;t see eye to eye in real life. ᙥh Hai Mohabbatein⠩s a story that showcases mature love and deals with societal issues. This is the story of Raman and Ishita who are connected by their common love for little Ruhi. But if rumors are to be believed the actors in this TV show Karan Patel and Divyanka Tripathi cannot stand each other in real life.

So, what is the issue? Says a source, 㔨e two have not had a showdown over anything, but they prefer to keep to themselves and hardly communicate even during breaks. Even though they don’;t communicate, they manage to shoot their scenes without any issues.”

When contacted both Karan and Divyanka were unavailable for a comment. We wonder what will happen to this love-hate relationship


Kanchi Singh & Mishkat Varma talk about their New Year resolutions..

New romance in the New Year!


With Rajan Shahi’s new show …Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya going on air on Jan 6th  at 10pm on Zee TV, the cast of the show seems to be anxiously awaiting the response from the viewers and the critics. Their collective energy and dedication has helped them to create a  bank of eight episodes already! Talking about their New Year resolutions, all of them in unison speak about how they are giving their best shot and trying hard to make this new show a huge success.

Talking about their New Year resolutions, the female protagonist of the show, Kaanchi Singh aka Avni of …Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya said,“I mostly make a New Year resolution only about my habits or my looks, but, this year I have promised myself to give it my best to my debut on small screen. Giving my cent percent to …Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya is my only wish this year and with such amazing co-actors, I am sure I am going to learn and evolve each day on shoot.” Riding on the same thought, Mishkat Verma aka Raj of …Aur Pyaar Ho Gayasaid, “Mr. Rajan Shahi based his trust on me before anybody else and this , my resolution is to make him proud doing a good job as the lead actor and to not let Zee and Mr. Rajan Shahi down.”

Adding to this, Reena Kapur aka Bhavna of …Aur Pyaar Ho Gayasaid, “I am glad to be making a comeback with a show as grand as this. My New Year resolution this year is to be more sincere towards my work and make this show a huge success.” Waseem Mushtaqaka Akshat of …Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya said, “I am glad to be a part of a show with such an amazing star cast. My New Year resolution this year is to make the show a huge success and to spend a lovely holiday with my wife in Spain.”

While they are all excited to ring in the New Year with utmost enthusiasm, here’s wishing all the audiences a fantastic year ahead too!

…Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya, premiers on 6th January 2014, from Monday – Friday at 10 PM
only on Zee TV!


Shame on the Callous and Insensitive UP Government:

Shame on the Callous and Insensitive UP Government: Civil Society Demands Immediate Halting of Forcible Closure of Relief Camps
A spirited demonstration was held today at Uttar Pradesh Bhavan in Delhi to protest against the callous and insensitive attitude of the UP government towards the riot affected and displaced survivors. As news of the government notification directing the closure of all relief camps spread at the end of the year, there was anger among activists who have been working with the riot victims for the past three months since the violence broke out. 
Several civil society organisations participated in the demonstration. Speakers condemned the administrative failure of the UP government to first protect the victims from rioters, then its failure to ensure the return of peace by refusing to act against the perpetrators of violence, or by providing for those forced to flee their homes and reliefs to seek shelter in relief camps. The UP government has, the speakers emphasized, multiplied this injustice by now ordering the destruction of all camps. Speakers also underlined the importance of initiating a dialogue in the violence hit area, with a view to restoring peace, while reiterating their commitment to provide relief to the victims. 
Among the prominent speakers were: Prof. Apoorvanad (Aman Ekta Manch); Adv N.D. Pancholi (PUCL); Prof. Rizwan Qaiser, Dr. Arjumand Ara (D.U), Dr. Tanweer Fazal (JTSA); several students and youth activists. 
The programme was conducted by Mahtab Alam. A memorandum to the Governor was submitted to the Resident Commissioner. (Copy below).
Asad Ashraf (JSSF) and Amir Khan (Anhad) on behalf of all civil society groups. 
Asad 9911248960 Amir  8586942950
The Governor,
Uttar Pradesh
Through the Resident Commissioner,
Uttar Pradesh Bhavan, New Delhi.

Subject: Forcible Eviction of Riot Victims from Relief Camps

As you are aware, in September riotous violence broke out in Muzaffarnagar, forcing thousands to flee from their homes and ancestral villages for relief camps. Three months after the riots erupted – due to lack of administrative resolve to tame potential troublemakers, in the first place – those who instigated and executed arson, murder and rape roam free; while the victims of that violence are forced to suffer fear, indignity, hunger, disease, and even deaths of their children in relief camps.

The UP Government, frugal from the beginning in its aid to the victims, has now crossed all limits of callous governance and cynical political calculation, by ordering the eviction of riot hit peoples from the relief camps, dismantling the flimsy tents, which at least provided them with a modicum of shelter against the bitter cold. This campaign is being carried out by brutal force: eyewitnesses in Loi, Neem Kheri, Bhora etc have reported the heavy deployment of police force and the forcible closure of these camps by bulldozing the tents and hearths and beating up the residents. The UP government is also indulging in blackmail, threatening to hold up compensation for those who do not evacuate the camps immediately. It has even demolished the tents erected on land brought by the riot victims.

Where force and blackmail fail, it is not above employing outright deceit. The UP government is now peddling the lie that people are either moving out voluntarily or are being relocated to the Budhana Tehsil camp. As news reports and civil society reports have amply demonstrated that both these claims are false.

While we fail to understand how government, any government, can be so deliberately cruel and insensitive towards the suffering of the people, we are writing to you with a deep sense of urgency, requesting you to kindly intervene to ensure that those already displaced from their villages and home are at least allowed to continue to live in the relief camps.  We appeal to you to kindly ensure that those forced out of their last shelter do not die on the streets of cold. Please prevail upon the UP government to halt the demolition of the relief camps with immediate effect. 
Asad Ashraf , Preetika Nanda, Ikshula Arora, Tajally Shehreyar  (Jamia Students’ Solidarity Forum), Amir Khan, Manan Trivedi and Bhavna Sharma (ANHAD); Manisha Sethi, Tanweer Fazal and Amabrien Alqadr (JTSA), Ehtasham Khan (Indian Wisdom Foundation); Adv. N D Pancholi and Mahtab Alam (PUCL, Delhi); Prof. Apporvanand, Dr. Arjumand Ara and Jamal Kidwai (Aman Ekta Manch); Deepti Bharti, NFIW; Navaid Hamid, MOEMIN and many others.                                                            
Asad Ashraf ( Jamia Students’ solidarity forum)


Manish:We are responsible for weak child unable to pursue education

कमजोर बच्चों के आगे न बढ़ पाने के लिए हम लोग जिम्मेदार- मनीष सिसोदिया
नई दिल्ली, 02-01-2014
दिल्ली के शिक्षा मंत्री मनीष सिसोदिया ने 2 जनवरी, 2014 को उच्च शिक्षा विभाग के अधिकारियों के साथ एक बैठक की और विभाग की दयनीय स्थिति पर चिंता जताते हुए सख्त तेवर दिखाए।
बैठक के दौरान उन्हें पता चला कि दिल्ली सरकार कमजोर वर्ग के बच्चों के लिए एक स्कॉलरशिप देती है। इसके तहत ट्यूशन फीस की आधी रकम दी जाती है। पर, इस योजना की बदहाली का आलम यह है कि पिछले साल केवल 7 बच्चों को इसका लाभ मिला। दरअसल, बैठक की शुरुआत में एक वरिष्ठ अधिकारी ने विभाग के संगठन, कामकाज, उपलब्धियों और चुनौतियों से संबंधित एक प्रेजेंटेशन दिखाना शुरू किया। उस प्रेजेंटेशन में न तो सूचनाएं पर्याप्त थीं और न ही स्पष्ट।
मनीष सिसोदिया ने प्रेजेंटेशन आधार पर सवाल दागने शुरू किए तो अधिकारियों के पास इनका कोई सीधा जवाब नहीं था।
इसके अलावा दिल्ली सरकार के शिक्षा विभाग की तरफ से दिए जाने वाले कुछ अवार्ड, सम्मान आदि के बारे में भी अधिकारी स्पष्ट जवाब और अपडेट आंकड़े नहीं दे पाए।
विभाग की इस दयनीय हालत और अधिकारियों के टाल-मटोल के रवैये से नाराज मनीष सिसोदिया ने अधिकारियों को एक-दो दिन के भीतर विभाग से जुड़ी अपडेट जानकारियां देने के लिए कहा।
बैठक के दौरान पता चला कि दिल्ली में हर साल 10+2 से तकरीबन 2 लाख 65 हजार बच्चे उत्तीर्ण होते हैं। पर, आगे की पढ़ाई के लिए दिल्ली में केवल तकरीबन 90 हजार को ही दाखिला मिल पाता है। दिल्ली सरकार के अंतर्गत आने वाले विश्वविद्यालयों, कॉलेजों और अन्य संस्थानों में तकरीबन 70 हजार बच्चों को प्रवेश मिल जाता है। वहीं, 20 हजार बच्चे दिल्ली विश्वविद्यालय और अन्य संस्थानों में प्रवेश पाने में कामयाब हो जाते हैं।
इस बैठक में शामिल एक अधिकारी का तर्क था कि उत्तीर्ण होने वाले स्टूडेंट्स में से पढ़ाई में कमजोर बच्चे आगे दूसरे तरह के कामों में लग जाते हैं। इस पर मनीष सिसोदिया ने कहा, उन्हें लगता है कि पढ़ाई में कमजोर उन बच्चों की स्थिति के लिए हम लोग ही जिम्मेदार हैं। पढ़ाई में अच्छे बच्चों को तो हमें बेहतर बनाना ही है, पर असली काम तो उन बच्चों को आगे बढ़ाने का है जो कमजोर हैं। 


Concert of the Keystone Boys Choir from Philadelphia

Dear Friends, 
We are happy to invite you to a concert of the Keystone Boys Choir from Philadelphia to be held at the Hungarian Information and Cultural Centre on Monday, 6th of January 2014 at 6.30 p.m.
All are welcome!
Best regards,
Johanna Balchandani
Senior Cultural Adviser
Hungarian Information and Cultural Centre
1-A Janpath, New Delhi – 110 011
Tel: 00-91-11-2301 4497, 2301 1152, 2301 4992
Fax: 00-91-11-2379 3161

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