Saturday, April 5, 2014

Gazprom announces over 40% increase in price of gas exports to Ukraine

Russian energy giant Gazprom has announced a more than 40 percent increase in the price of gas exports to Ukraine, scrapping a previous discount amid mounting strains between the two countries. Gazprom chief executive Alexei Miller said in a statement today, the debt currently owed by Ukraine to Gazprom, amounts to 1.7 billion dollars.

The gas price rise by Gazprom although widely expected, is a new blow to the Ukrainian economy which needs an international rescue to stave off the risk of default. Europe currently receives about a third of its gas needs from Russia. While the current crisis has prompted new calls for a diversification of energy sources, there is little chance of this happening fast.

RBI gives banking licenses to IDFC and Bandhan;

5 04 2014

Reserve Bank Governor Raghuram Rajan today defended handing out just two licences out of the 25 banking applicants saying the selection panel felt that some of them were better placed to serve as differentiated banks.
While talking to reporters on the sidelines of the annual convocation of the RBI-run National Institute of Bank Management in Pune he said those were the set of applicants that the Jalan committee as well as the Reserve Bank were comfortable with . RBI Governor said that the RBI has opened up the possibility that those left out applicants can apply again once.
Ending a process that began three years ago, the RBI on April 2 handed out just two licences from the 25 applicants to infra lender IDFC and Kolkata-based micro-lender Bandhan— leaving out notable biggies like Reliance Anil Ambani Group, the Birlas, Bajaj Group among 22 others, after the Election Commission gave the go-ahead a day earlier. The RBI agreed to consider the application of India Post in consultation with the government and advised other applicants to apply afresh after the central bank comes outwith new guidelines on granting licences ‘on tap.
The RBI originally received 27 applications in July 2013, but Tata Sons and Videocon Group withdrew from the race, leaving 25 contenders.

Afghanistan goes to the polls

5 04 2014 Afghanistan goes to the polls today to elect a new President and representatives to about 450 seats in the Provincial Council. Polling begins at 8 this morning and about 20 million voters are eligible to exercise their franchise. The eight candidates are in the fray for the President’s post.
They include two former Afghan Foreign Ministers – Abdullah Abdullah and Zalmai Rassoul, two former Finance Ministers – Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai and Hidayat Amin Arsala, Islamist leader Abdul Rab Rassoul Sayyaf, former Governor Ghul Agha Sherza, former member of Afghan Parliament Daoud Sultanzoy and former Hizb-e-Islami leader Qutubuddin Hilal.
Afghanistan has closed down all crossing points with Pakistan to ensure smooth polling for Presidential elections. Pakistani military has deployed additional troops on the Afghan border since 20th of March to reinforce existing security arrangements.

Global News April 05

Global news

US to provide Tunisia with $500 mn in loan guarantees

The US has approved $500 million in loan guarantees to Tunisia as part of an aid package aimed at revitalizing the country’s economy. The loan guarantees are meant to make it easier for Tunisia to borrow money to achieve financial stability. US President Barack Obama announced the guarantees on Friday as he met with Tunisian interim Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa. The North African nation needs to fill up to a $3 billion hole in this year’s budget, AP reported. The country was the birthplace of the Arab Spring revolutions which began in late 2010.

Fort Hood shooting victims identified

Officials confirmed the identities of the three men shot and killed by Spc. Ivan Lopez on Wednesday. The three victims were: Sgt. 1st Class Daniel M. Ferguson, Staff Sgt. Carlos A. Lazaney Rodriguez and Sgt. Timothy W. Owens. Lt. General Mark Milley, Commanding General at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas confirmed the three slain men were veterans, having served in Afghanistan and Iraq. Five other soldiers remained hospitalized.

Afghan security forces uncover major terror plot for election day 

Afghan security services have uncovered a plot to stage a series of terror attacks on the day of the presidential elections, Khaama Press news agency reported. According to the agency, the National Directorate of Security has arrested a militant in Kabul, who was tasked with coordinating the attacks on April 5. Two grenade launchers, 28 machine guns, police uniforms, and body armor were confiscated from the home of the detainee. The atmosphere is tense in Afghanistan ahead of the election, with the Taliban – which wants to sabotage the vote – staging attacks across the country on a daily basis.

NATO opens Kosovo airspace to commercial overflights after 15 years

NATO has given the green light for commercial planes to fly high over Kosovo for the first time since 1999, allowing airlines to save time and money by taking more direct routes across the region, Reuters reported. The so-called “upper airspace” was reopened to commercial overflights on Thursday after Hungary agreed to provide air traffic control for private flights. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has called the move “a significant step that benefits the entire Western Balkans." European air traffic organization Eurocontrol estimates that around 180,000 flights a year will fly 370,000 fewer nautical miles, cutting operating costs by 18 million euros.

US, EU plan special court for Kosovo organ harvesting charges

Western officials are considering a plan for an EU-backed special tribunal to try Kosovo Albanian former guerrillas accused of harvesting organs from murdered Serbs during the Balkan country’s 1998-99 war, Reuters reported. Saturday’s edition of the Kosovo daily, Koha Ditore, will carry an interview with Jonathan Moore, director of the US State Department’s Office of South-Central European Affairs, who said preparations were under way with EU participation for a court based in Kosovo. The majority of the work will be done outside Kosovo, meaning witnesses will give testimony abroad to protect them. The move to stage a court stems from a 2011 report by Council of Europe rapporteur, Dick Marty.

Poland customs officers seize $10mn heroin haul smuggled from Ukraine

Customs officers seized 150kg of heroin hidden in a truck crossing into Poland from Ukraine on Friday, Polish authorities said. The drugs were wrapped in 300 plastic bags hidden beneath the trailer floor of the truck, which tried to cross into Poland near the town of Medyka at about 0200 GMT, Reuters reported. This is one of the biggest heroin busts in Europe for years.

Italy to shut 4 embassies to save state funds

Italy will close four embassies and abolish a post of its representative in UNESCO as part of a program to curtail state expenditure, RIA Novosti reported. Its embassies in Honduras, Iceland, the Dominican Republic and Mauritania will be closed.

Turkish election board rejects opposition call for Ankara recount

The local election board in the Turkish capital, Ankara, has rejected a call from the main opposition CHP party to recount the results of Sunday's local election in the city, Reuters reported. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's AKP Party largely dominated Turkey's electoral map in the local polls, keeping control of the main cities including Istanbul and Ankara. CHP has challenged the result in the capital and will appeal the election board's decision.

Bomb hits Afghan polling center

A bomb exploded in a polling center in the Tanai district of Afghanistan's eastern Khost province on Friday, CNN reported. Two people were killed, including the district's deputy police chief, and three were injured, officials said. The attack came hours after two journalists working for The Associated Press were shot in Afghanistan, one of them fatally. The blast happened about 15 kilometers from the scene of the attack on the journalists.

Lufthansa won’t make new offer to pilots

German airline Lufthansa isn’t planning to make a new offer to pilots on salaries, a board member of Lufthansa Passage, Kay Kratky, has said. The pilots will be called to return to the negotiating table “without preconditions.” Their trade union “Cockpit” called a three-day strike this week seeking higher wages and protesting cuts to an early retirement agreement. The strike was scheduled to end at midnight on Friday. However, the airline said it did not expect to reach an agreement with the pilots by the end of the day.

UN accuses Chadian soldiers of killing 30 in Central African Rep

Chadian soldiers killed 30 civilians and seriously wounded more than 300 in an indiscriminate attack on a market on March 29 in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, Reuters quoted a spokesman for the UN human rights office as saying on Friday. Local officials and aid workers had previously put the death toll to at least 10, with 30 wounded. Chadian soldiers have been at the heart of African efforts to stabilize CAR, but have been accused of siding with the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels. Their seizure of power last year sparked tit-for-tat violence with Christian militia.

Magnitude 6.0 earthquake hits off Kirakira, Solomon Islands

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake hit off Kirakira, Solomon Islands, in the south-west of the Pacific Ocean, on Friday the US Geological Survey reported. The epicenter of the quake was 28km off the town of Kirakira, at a depth of 63km. No tsunami threats, casualties or damage were immediately reported.

3 men sentenced to death for Mumbai gang rapes

Three men were sentenced to death on Friday for two gang rapes last year in Mumbai, Reuters reported. They included an attack on a photojournalist that sparked protests in the city. A Mumbai court sentenced Vijay Jadhav, Kasim Bengali and Mohammed Salim Ansari to death, the first time capital punishment has been given for rape not involving the death of the victim.

Western sanctions to consolidate people of Russia – Belarusian president

Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has described Western sanctions against Russia as “nonsense” and “twaddle.” The West “is fit for nothing now,” RIA Novosti quoted him as saying on Friday. The president added that Belarus itself has been under Western sanctions for two decades. They could bring benefits for Russia, as sanctions mobilize the nation, and the people to solve domestic problems, he said.

Erdogan blasts Constitutional Court for lifting Turkish Twitter ban

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized the country's highest court on Friday for overturning a ban on Twitter. He said “the Constitutional Court should have rejected” the application to lift the Twitter block brought by an opposition lawmaker and two academics, AFP reported. “All our national, moral values have been put aside,” he said, and, referring to recordings posted on the network, added that “insults to a country's prime minister and ministers are all around.” The premier went on: “it is not only Twitter, YouTube and Facebook are also commercial companies. It is everyone’s free will whether or not to buy their product. This has nothing to do with freedoms.”

Schumacher has ‘moments of consciousness’

Michael Schumacher’s manager says the Formula One star now “shows moments of consciousness and awakening,” AP reported. Manager Sabine Kehm said that he “is making progress on his way,” more than three months after suffering serious head injuries in a skiing accident. “We keep remaining confident,” the manager added. No further details were disclosed.

N.Korea launches personal attack on S.Korea president

North Korea published comments on Friday attacking South Korean President Park Geun-hye, describing her as a “repulsive wench” who had failed to marry, Reuters said. The KCNA news agency went far beyond previous criticism and carried “comments” by a private citizen, Kim Un-kyong, criticizing Park’s offer last week to help the impoverished North’s women and children.

3 Ukrainians detained in Russia

Three Ukrainian men out of 25 people who were detained by the Russian security service have confessed that they had been sent to Russia to gather intelligence information, the Lifenews website said, citing its sources. They were reportedly working for a ‘West-East’ firm specializing in photographing children, which was used as a front company to gather intelligence, the website said, citing sources in the Federal Security Service (FSB). Vitaly Krivosheev and Artyom Golovko were detained in the Rostov Region, and Kirill Pilipenko in another Russian region, according to the website.

Intl space station maneuvers to avoid Ariane 5 debris

The International Space Station (ISS) orbit was changed to avoid a possible collision with a fragment from an old European Ariane 5 rocket, according to US space agency NASA. The engines of Progress М-21М cargo spacecraft were turned on at 20:42 GMT, to raise the station up 800 meters, Interfax reported. The six-man crew was never in any danger as it had been informed of the automatic maneuver. A similar maneuver was conducted on March 16, to avoid debris of a piece of old Russian METEOR 2-5 satellite.

Floods in Solomons leave 6 dead, 10,500 homeless

Flash flooding killed at least six people and left 10,500 homeless in the Solomon Islands’ capital Honiara on Friday, AFP reported. Another 30 were missing, officials said. A state of emergency was declared after the city’s main river, the Matanikau, burst its banks late Thursday, sweeping away entire communities. “This is the worst disaster the nation has seen,” according to the Solomons Star newspaper. The flooding followed days of heavy rain which was still falling.

S. Korea summons Japan envoy over islets claim

The South Korean Foreign Ministry summoned the Japanese ambassador Friday over an alleged claim by Tokyo to a disputed set of tiny islets and a plan to promote its stance in school text books, AFP said. Seoul formally conveyed its protest to Japanese Ambassador Koro Bessho over a section in Japan’s newly released foreign policy report ‘Diplomatic Bluebook 2014’. The report identified the disputed islets - known as Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japanese - as Japanese territory. “Our government expresses strong regret at Japan’s outrageous claim on our indigenous territory, Dokdo,” the South Korean ministry said.

Egypt’s cabinet passes harsher terrorism laws

The Egyptian government has approved the broadening of terrorism laws, following increased violence in the country. For the new laws to come into force, they still need to be signed by interim President Adly Mansour. The exact changes made to the laws have not been released so far. Egypt’s security forces have been the target of frequent attacks since a military-backed coup toppled former President Mohamed Morsi last July. On Wednesday, a series of explosions killed three people outside Cairo University, including a police brigadier-general.

​Israel Air Force hits five Gaza targets following rocket fire

Israel Air Force jets struck five suspected terrorist locations in northern and central areas of the Gaza Strip on Thursday, according to the Israel Defense Forces. Israel Radio cited Palestinian sources who reported that two of the sites belonged to Hamas’ military forces. The strikes came after four rockets were fired from Palestinian territory into southern Israel. The rockets led to a Code Red alert in the Sderot area, according to The Jerusalem Post. The Palestinian rockets landed in open territory near the border with Gaza, according to Israeli media. No injuries or damage were reported on the Israeli side of the border.

WEC India Energy Portal 

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The menu for Global Scenarios has been enabled.  Comparison of Scenarios of IEA, EIA and WEC is presented for Primary Energy Consumption, Electricity Generation and Co2 Emissions.
  1. Adani Power becomes India’s largest private power producer
    Tata Power also has 1,000 mw in advance stage of commissioning and is considering 849.2 mw of projects based on wind, solar, hydro and gas energy.
  2. Adani Power says it is India’s largest private producer with capacity of 8,620 Mw
    Adani Power added 2,640 Mw the last financial year, accounting for 15 per cent of the addition of 17,000 Mw in India
  3. Adani Power commissions fourth unit of Tiroda power plant
    With that, Adani Power has overtaken Tata Power in total installed power generation capacity
  4. Su-Kam wins solar power project for 40,000 UP rural homes
    Su-Kam said it has already finished installation in first set of seven homes in Shahpur Majgaon village in Ambedkar Nagar district of Uttar Pradesh.
  5. Assocham urges TN Govt to expedite approval on solar projects
    The Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industries today urged the Tamil Nadu Government to expedite the adoption of solar power tariff by the State Electricity board along with the approval of power purchase agreements, saying the delay has affected …
  6. Tata Power to add 849.2 MW more from diverse energy sources
    Tata Power is in the process of adding 849.2 megawatts (MW) of power generation capacity that will run on diversified sources of energy, the company said.
  7. Assocham urges Tamil Nadu government to expedite approval on solar projects
    For the bidding process the applicable tariff announced was Rs 6.48 kW/h for the first year, with five per cent escalation for first 10 years and fixed rate for remaining 10 years.
  8. NPCIL holding programmes to sensitise people on nuclear energy
    Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd has been conducting programmes to generate awareness about the various positive aspects of the N-energy.
  9. India to award 1 gigawatt solar permits by 2015, boosting plan
    The planned new capacity is about 30% more than originally targeted and is about half of what has been built so far
  10. Tame inflation, cut gold imports, reform oil prices, raise coal output to lower CAD
    After a sharp increase to 4.8% of GDP in 2012-13 from 2.8% in 2009-10, the CAD is estimated to decline dramatically to 2% in 2013-14.
  11. World ill-prepared for climate change risks, says UN panel
    Report says India could face $7-billion agriculture loss by 2030
  12. Climate change could hit 200 million people in Indo-Gangetic plain: IPCC
    The yield on wheat crop in India would drop drastically by 2020
  13. Haryana power discom gets Japanese assistance
    The loan at a concessional interest rate of 0.80 per cent carries a repayment period of 20 years, with a grace period of six years
  14. NTPC to start up three new solar power plants
    The three new plants total 45 MW and bring NTPC’s renewable energy capacity to 75 MW
  15. NHPC continues to supply power to J&K despite unpaid dues
    Terrorism-hit state has outstanding dues of `1,045 crore, of which `625 crore is due by over six months
  16. Power developers may have to build renewable capacity at project sites
    If implemented, the move can boost renewable energy capacity in the country
  17. Coal India sees 2014/15 output at 507 million tonnes
    The estimate is about 7% higher than the revised 475 million tonnes the miner expects to produce for the year ending 31 March 2014
  18. SC tells NTPC to keep up Delhi power supply during payment row
    NTPC had threatened in Feb to cut off power supply to BSES Yamuna Power if the company did not pay its bill
  19. A clarification on why CERC’s compensation to Tata, Adani for high coal prices sets dangerous precedents
    This is with reference to inaccuracies in “Why CERC’s compensation to Tata, Adani for high coal prices sets dangerous precedents and dents competition’” published in ET Magazine, dated March 2, 2014.
  20. Power generation suspended from second unit of Vallur plant
    Power generation has been suspended due to shortage of coal
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BJP and Cong both need to answer on Babri Masjid

The sting operation conducted out by the Cobrapost on the Babri Masjid demolition, whose authenticity has not been questioned by the various outfits of the Sangh Parivar so far, raises very serious questions about the role played by the top BJP and Congress leadership of that time.
The sting operation has confirmed the widespread belief that the demolition was a pre-planned conspiracy by the various affiliates of the Sangh Parivar and top BJP leadership had a direct role in the entire incident.
It also nails the Congress, whose central government led by the then Prime Minister the late PV Narasimha Rao, was not only aware about the conspiracy to demolish the Mosque, but also appears to have helped the Sangh parivar in its nefarious designs by abetting the unpardonable crime.
 It is shocking that even after more than two decades of the demolition, the trial against those who committed the crime and were a part of the conspiracy, has not been completed so far.     
One of the worst crimes committed in the country after independence, reflects very badly on the functioning of the country’s investigating agencies. After 1992, the successive Congress-led and BJP-led governments for obvious reasons have attempted to brush the whole conspiracy under the carpet.
Babri Masjid demolition is a glaring example of the BJP doublespeak. Its leaders who had a direct hand in the demolition and are facing charges in a criminal trial, have said one thing in their public statements and completely contradicted themselves in the court.
Why are the BJP leaders reluctant to accept in court what they have done and what they believe in ?
Why is the BJP running away from taking responsibility for the demolition ?
The Congress, which has always avoided answering its role in the demolition, should come out clean on the role of its central government in 1992. What does it have to say that its Prime Minister was aware of the entire controversy ?
Is the Congress satisfied with the speed at which the demolition case has been progressing ? what did the UPA government do for ensuring a speedy trial to bring the guilty to book ?
There are a lot of unanswered questions about the demolition and the Aam Aadmi Party is of the view that justice should be done and no guilty should be allowed to go scot free since this crime had shaken the basic secular foundations of the country.

AAP Media Cell

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