Sunday, January 19, 2014

780 killed in Syria rebel-jihadist battle

700 killed in Syria rebel-jihadist battle: monitor Updated on : 14-01-2014 08:17 AM
Fierce fighting between jihadists and rival rebel groups in Syria has killed at least 700 in more than a week while hundreds more are missing, a monitoring group said on Monday.
The Al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadist group, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), linked the violence to a peace conference on Syria slated to take place in Switzerland on January 22.
The allegations came as Western powers on Monday stepped up pressure on Syria’s divided opposition to take part in the conference alongside representatives of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
“From January 3 to 11, the fighting killed 697 people, among them 351 rebels, 246 members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and 100 civilians,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said there could be even “more than 1,000″ dead, but his group has been unable to document all the killings given the ferocity of the clashes.
The Britain-based monitoring group, which relies on a network of activists across Syria for its reports, also said there were “hundreds of captives from both sides whose fate is unknown”. 
In a reflection of the brutality of the fighting, which has raged mainly in the northern provinces of Aleppo, Idlib and Raqa but has also hit Hama and Homs in the centre, at least 200 people were killed in one 48-hour period.
The Observatory also reported that dozens of those killed in recent days died in 16 suicide bombings staged by ISIL in Aleppo, Idlib, Homs and Raqa provinces.
“Sixteen suicide attackers have detonated themselves in the past week, most of them in car bomb attacks, some using explosive belts,” Abdel Rahman said. 
A rebel fighter with Ahrar al-Sham, which is leading battles against ISIL in several areas, said “they use suicide attacks to terrorise society as a whole into submission, not just the fighters.” 


Egyptians approve new constitution

98.1 pc Egyptians approve new constitutionUpdated on : 19-01-2014 12:09 AM
An overwhelming 98.1 per cent of voters approved Egypt’s new constitution in a nationwide referendum, widely seen as a vote on a likely presidential bid by army chief Gen Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
The Supreme Electoral Committee (SEC) today announced that the newly drafted national charter was approved by 98.1 per cent of voters, Al-Ahram online reported.According to SEC chief Nabil Salib, the turnout for the poll was 38.6 per cent of the 20.5 million registered voters, in comparison to 32 per cent during the 2012 referendum.
The new charter would replace the one approved under Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, who was toppled by the military in July following mass protests demanding his ouster.
Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood had called for anti-government protests and a boycott of the referendum, seeing it as part of a coup against the freely-elected leader.
The referendum is a key step in the political transition plan billed by the military-backed interim government as a path to democracy, even as it presses a fierce crackdown on the Brotherhood.
The roadmap was announced by army chief El-Sisi after Morsi’s ouster.
It stated that the constitution would be followed by parliamentary elections and presidential polls.
The new charter, drafted by a liberal-dominated committee appointed by the government, would ban political parties based on religion, give women equal rights and protect the status of minority Christians.
The constitution also gives the military special status by allowing it to select its own candidate for the job of defence minister for the next eight years and empowering military tibunals to try civilians.
Meanwhile, Arabic language newspaper Al Tahrir reported that Egyptian President Adly Mansour will announce that presidential elections will be held in March.
It quoted Essam Eddine Abdel Aziz, first deputy to the head of the State Council, as saying that Mansour will call on people to take part in the polls.
Gen El-Sisi has yet to say outright whether he plans to seek the country’s highest office, but his candidacy appears increasingly likely after the results of the referendum.
Morsi, the first democratically elected president, is being held in jail in Alexandria, facing several criminal charges relating to his time in office. He says they are politically motivated.


Rajya Sabha to meet on 5th February

Rajya Sabha to meet on 5th February
The Rajya Sabha will bereconvened from 5th February and may conclude on 21st February, as part of the extended Winter Session. 
According to an official communication, the Upper House has been reconvened by the Rajya Sabha Chairman on 5th February when it will meet at 11 am.
The Lok Sabha has also been reconvened from 5th February to 21st February to pass the ‘Vote-on-Account’ budget ahead of the Lok Sabha elections expected to be held in April-May.
“The Rajya Sabha which was adjourned sine die on 18th December, 2013 has been reconvened by Chairman Rajya Sabha to meet on 5h February at 11 am. The session subject to exigencies of Business may conclude on 21st February,” Shumsher K Sheriff, secretary general Rajya Sabha secretariat said. 
“Parliament will meet from 5th to 2st February. It will be a continuation of the Winter Session,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath had said. 
The coming session will be a continuation of the Winter Session as both Houses were not prorogued.
Sources later said the ‘Vote-on-Account’ is likely to be taken up on 17th February. During the session, government also plans to ensure passage of some anti-corruption legislations which have been identified by Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi as the broader “framework” to fight graft.
A total of 126 bills – 62 in Lok Sabha and 64 in Rajya Sabha – are pending at various stages. 


Cold wave kills six people in 24 hours

Delhi: Cold wave kills six people in 24 hoursUpdated on : 19-01-2014 11:37 AM
The Cold wave has claimed six lives during the past 24 hours in the national capital as the winter chill gained in intensity in the northern India.
Urban Development Minister Manish Sisodia has ordered an inquiry into these deaths and sought a detailed report.Delhi recorded a maximum temperature of 15.7 degree Celsius on Saturday.
The minimum temperature was 8.6 degree on Sunday morning.
Met Department has predicted a clear sky on Sunday.
In Uttar Pradesh, biting cold coupled with intermittent rain claimed 15 lives.
Cold wave, fog and rain across the state has thrown normal life out of gear.
In Uttarakhand, while heavy snowfall hit the higher reaches, incessant rainfall lashed the plains.
While Mussoorie, Mukteshwar, Auli and Gursaun received fresh snowfall, places like Dehradun, Haridwar, Rishikesh and Rudrapur were hit by incessant rain.
Light to moderate rainfall also lashed various parts of Punjab and Haryana with bone-chilling conditions affecting normal life across the two neighbouring states.


Rajnath Singh : Growth rate has declined because of corruption

BJP Chief said on Sunday that growth rate has declined because of corruption and Congress is scared of declaring its Prime Ministerial candidate.
Addressing the National council meet in Delhi on Saturday Rajnath Singh said his party had no objection to Article 370 which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir if it helped the development of the state.
Reacting to BJP President Rajnath Singh’s allegations, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh said that Congress Party has always adopted a strict stand against corruption, while BJP always shielded the corrupt.
After being formally assigned campaign leadership for the Lok Sabha polls, Rahul Gandhi on Saturday held consultations with state leaders on the strategy ahead. 
He met All India Congress Committee delegates from each state separately. 
The party is all set to begin the process of ticket distribution by holding meetings of the newly-formed screening committees to meet its plan for early declaration of candidates.
Senior leaders and union ministers Ghulam Nabi Azad and Jyotiraditya Scindia and party spokesperson Randip Surjewala have been made members of the Congress Election Coordination Committee headed by Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi. 
Rahul Gandhi on Friday was given the charge of leading the Congress Party campaign for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. 
With the nomination of Azad, Scindia and Surjewala, the strength of the panel has now gone up to 11.
Other members of the Committee are Ahmed Patel, Janardan Dwivedi, Digvijay Singh, Madhusudan Mistry, Jairam Ramesh, CP Joshi and Ajay Maken. 
The Coordination Committee has been strengthened at a time when the party is looking to get its act together with just three months left for Lok Sabha polls. 


Mistry wins DSC Prize for 2014

Reticent author Cyrus Mistry on Saturday beat off stiff competition from five other writers to become the fourth winner of the $50,000 DSC prize for South Asian literature on Saturday for his book “Chronicles of a Corpse Bearer”.
The prize, is given to the best work or translations of a work on or about the South Asian region.
Last year the award was won by Jeet Thayil for his debut debut novel “Narcopolis”. Mr. Mistry was presented with the award at a ceremony at the Jaipur Literature Festival here this evening by Gloria Steinem.
“I have tried to keep myself as detached as possible with the possibility of winning this prize, so am not so enthusiastic but happy about the win,” Mr. Mistry said after receiving the award.
Other books in the running were “Anand: Book of Destruction” (Translated by Chetana Sachidanandan) “Benyamin: Goat Days” (Translated by Joseph Koyippalli), Mohsin Hamid: “How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia”, “Nadeem Aslam: The Blind Man’s Garden” and Nayomi Munaweera: Island of a Thousand Mirrors.
Union HRD Minister was originally slated to inaugurate the prize ceremony. Noted writer, editor and literary critic Antara Dev Sen chaired the five member jury which first announced a long list of 15 names and then came up with a shortlist of six from which Mr. Mistry was chosen.
Mr. Mistry’s book is a story of marginalised community and looks at larger questions about life and death, which makes it a different read.
Set in the city of Mumbai, it revolves around the lives of a hardly heard of and rarely-seen set of people, corpse bearers or Khandhias within the Parsi community. Their job is to carry bodies of the deceased to the Towers of Silence.
The jury comprised of Arshia Sattar, Ameena Saiyid, Rosie Boycott, and Paul Yamazaki. The shortlist was announced in November last year.

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