Thursday, February 9, 2017

British PM clears bill empowering for EU exit

vlearsThe parliamentary bill empowering the British government to begin the formal process of leaving the European Union completed its passage Wednesday night in the House of Commons.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s government succeeded in crossing the final crucial hurdle with 494 votes to 122 — a majority of 372.
May sat in the chamber alongside her Brexit ministers as the historic result was announced by deputy speaker Lindsay Hoyle.It now goes to the unelected House of Lords for further scrutiny before being sent to Queen Elizabeth for royal assent.
Scottish Nationalist MP Alex Salmond criticized the process and accused the government of railroading the legislation through parliament in a “disgraceful fashion.
He said this was the first time a bill of great constitutional importance had been passed in this day since the Defense of the Realm Bill prior to World War One in 1914.
Win on  Wednesday night in the Commons, where a string of amendments were defeated, it almost guarantees that May will be on course to tell Brussels within weeks to start the EU exit process.
May’s government only introduced the briefly worded bill into parliament last week, determined to see it fast-tracked through the parliamentary process.
Attempts by the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) to ensure the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh could have a vote on Brexit, as well as a call by the minority Liberal Democrats for a second national referendum, each failed, as did a string of proposed amendments by the main opposition Labor party.In the final vote, the result indicated that some Labor MPs had defied an instruction from their leader Jeremy Corbyn to vote in favor of the Article 50 bill.A number of his shadow cabinet members have already resigned, and more may quit as a result of the vote.
Before the result was even announced it was reported that Labor’s shadow business secretary Clive Lewis resigned from Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, saying he could not vote in favor of the Brexit bill.
Under parliamentary convention in Britain a minister or shadow minister disobeying the leadership is expected to resign or be fired. The vote will add to the ongoing civil war within the Labor Party that erupted after Corbyn’s election as leader.
During a day of intensive debates, MPs failed by 332 votes to 290 to ensure EU nationals lawfully resident in Britain on the date of last June’s EU referendum would have the right to stay in Britain.
Another vote called for Britain to remain as a member of Euratom, the European Atomic Agency Community. This was also lost with a vote of 287 in support and 336 against, another victory f
Brexit Minister David Jones had confirmed during the debate that Britain leaving the EU also meant leaving Euratom.
But he added that the government wants to maintain successful cooperation with the EU and says this will be a matter for negotiation with Brussels.
On the residence rights of EU nationals in Britain, Jones said the government recognizes issue is extremely important and will addressed as a matter of priority.
As MPs were voting, a group of MPs burst into song in the chamber of Commons where even applause if frowned upon. The choir was silenced by an order from Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle. Xenhua

Iran ,Saudi Arabia, talks on oil market

Iran expressed its readiness to hold talks with Saudi Arabia to stabilize the oil market, Press TV quoted Iran’s Minister of Petroleum Bijan Namdar Zanganeh as saying on Wednesday.
Zanganeh hailed major oil producers’ adherence to their oil quota commitments, subject to last year’s November agreement, and said that the market’s reaction to OPEC and non-OPEC members’ production cuts are “positive.”
“OPEC members’ commitment to cutting production has been very good and the trend continues. Non-OPEC members have also started decreasing output and we hope they will quickly reach the figures they committed to,” he was quoted as saying.
In their meeting last November, OPEC members unanimously agreed on the oil price of 60 U.S. dollars per barrel, hence they agreed to cut output by 1.2 million bpd down to 32.5 million bpd for the first six months of 2017.
He added that non-OPEC members including Russia, Oman and Mexico also agreed to cut 558,000 bpd off their production.
“If the current trend continues, we predict that the oil market’s supply and demand situation will balance out and crude oil inventories will drop,” he pointed out.
“However, the market still needs to further cut production for the year’s second six months. This issue requires further negotiations,” Zanganeh added.
To stabilize the oil market, Iran and Saudi Arabia “will continue negotiations within the framework of their common and national interests,” he stressed.

Ageing Europe needs immigration

With its ageing population, Europe needs immigration and can only resolve the migrant crisis through cooperation and not by “closing its doors,” EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said Wednesday. “I believe Europeans should understand that we need immigration for our economies,” as the continent’s population ages, Mogherini said, opening a Europe-Africa meeting on migration in the Maltese capital. Some 8,500 people making desperate bids to reach Europe have been rescued at sea since the start of the year, while at least 227 people are either missing or feared dead.

German agency on pending of 435,000 asylum cases

Germany’s migration agency hopes to clear a backlog of 435,000 asylum cases within months, the organization’s new director said in an interview with Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper on Wednesday. Jutta Cordt, who took over as head of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) this month, told the newspaper her top priorities were to accelerate the processing of asylum applications, deepen integration, and step up deportations of those whose applications were denied. “We carried over 435,000 cases into the new year and we want to have dealt with those this spring,” the paper quoted Cordt as saying. “If there is virtually no prospect for a migrant to stay here, it makes sense to push for an early repatriation and to encourage that financially,” Cordt said.

ISIS planned attack on Turkish parliament

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists planned to carry out an attack on the Turkish parliament, Turkey’s Dogan news agency reports, citing an indictment prepared by the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. One of the accused, identified as Selim S., conducted reconnaissance of the areas near the parliament building, as well as near the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) headquarters and several mosques in Istanbul, the indictment says. It adds that 35 suspects are facing charges in relation to the case. According to the prosecutors, 28 of the 35 suspects have already been arrested. Six of them face aggravated life sentences while the others could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison. RT news

Putin to visit China in May

President Vladimir Putin is expected to be in China on a working visit in May, Russian Ambassador to Beijing Andrey Denisov was quoted as saying on Thursday. Putin plans to take part in the Silk Road Summit that is due to take place in Beijing on May 14-15. China’s President Xi Jinping plans to visit Moscow in midyear, TASS reported. Top level contacts between the two countries have intensified in recent years. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang, as well as the foreign and defense ministers are also expected to meet this year. RT news


New Delhi, 8th February, 2017: Today during the 19th edition of National School of Drama’s International Drama Festival Bharat Rang Mahotsav 2017, 5 Plays were performed including Y Sadananda Singh’s non-verbal play Love Your Nature; Shyamal Chakraborty’sbengali play Shekal Chhenra Hater Khonje; D. Elumalai’s tamil play Draupadi Vasthirabaranam; Sunil Shanbag’s multi-lingual play (Hindi, English and Konkani) Loretta; and a multi-lingual foreign play, Deborah Merola’s (in English / Spanish) Anna in the Tropics from Nepal. All the plays were well appreciated by students, theatre aficionados, litterateurs and theatre lovers.

Today, famous Theatre and Film actor, Manoj Bajpayee met with students and theatre lovers at the NSD Lawns during Interface, under a new initiative by National School of Drama where famous personalities from the theatre and film meet and interact with the students. Giving the mantra for a successful career to theatre aspirants, he said, “I follow a discipline in my life. An aspirant’s morning should start with rehearsal and not complaint. However it is basically your upbringing that makes you a person and an actor different from others.”  Answering a query on the limits of theatre and cinema, he replied, “Censor board is so undemocratic in a democratic set up as ours. Films can be categorized according to the age group and the board must be associated with providing the certificate only. I believe that parents are primary and the best censor tool and if they fail; no censor board can work. I must say that censor board has lost its significance in recent times.”Opened up on his failed attempts to get admission into NSD, he said, “While I was working with the big names in theatre, my yearning for the admission into NSD was not getting low. I wanted to get adept in techniques and nuances of this medium that I think is best taught only at NSD.”

“People are doing fraud in the name of realism while characterization has to be stressed. Characterization should be the primary step for an actor before graduating towards the realism.” He was asked about his role model and he answered, “Role model keeps on changing. Acting is a diverse field and you cannot settle with just one. My role model varies as per the demand of time and acting.”

Today, during the Meet the Director – face to face at National School of Drama, renowned Bangladeshi theatre personality Ramendu Majumdar, the producer of Prothom Partho said, “In our Bangladeshi curriculum unfortunately we perceive Ramayana and Mahabharata as religious scriptures not epics, so the inspiration from Mahabharata was something new.” Baharul Islam, director of Hansini when asked about the editing of the original script of Anton Chekhov said, “We edited some characters from the original script of Chekhov because our adaption of the play was different but the editing did not interfere with the original humor of the play, and also we wanted our adaption to reach as many people as possible so we finalized on Hindi language.” Tripurari Sharma, Director of Shaayar Shutter…Down enlightened the audience on how did she came up with the name of the play she said “there is an inherent loneliness in every one of us and it is amplified when we get busy in our daily lives but the original side of a person is when he/she has free time and opens the shutter which was down all day.” Kumar A. Bharti, playwright of Blood and Beauty said “many people have a misconception that the folklore on Heera Haran on which the play is based on is from Himachal Pradesh but that’s not true it is originally from Jammu and Kashmir that’s why we chose Kashmiri costumes.”

Katha Workshop Series in Performance & Craft of 19th Bharat Rang Mahotsav today had its 4rd workshop on Ojapali. It was participated by its experts Mr. Darrang Hemeswar Nath, Mr. Nirmal Nath, Mr. Maninder Saikia, Mr. Tarun Deka, Mr. Manoj Deka and Mr. Jyoti Nath Deka. Ojapali is distinctive and among the oldest performing arts of Assam. Performed by men, Ojapali performance combines singing and dancing alongwith improvised dialogues and dramatization. The Oja, proficient in dancing and singing, leads the performance. 3 or 4 palis, supplement it with the rhythm of their khutitaals, the palm-sized cymbals, the performers wear long sleeved white robes and silver jewellery and nupur bells on their feet. Ojapali performers render ‘malanci geet’ and ‘jagar’, both styles sung in Sanskrit. Byah and Sukananni are the two major forms of Ojapali. Byah performers are the byah-gowa, the singers of Vyasa’s works, the great epics. The Sukananni performers, the maroi-gowa sing in praise of the snake goddess, Manasa Devi.

After 9 more theatre groups giving their consent, this year’s edition of Bharat Rang Mahotsav’s all Allied Programmes and 34 plays (after consent from the theatre groups) will be Webcasted Live. The Live Webcast is available on the link: Archives of all these plays and allied programmes which has already been webcasted is also available on the same link.

Under the aegis of Advitiya 2017 of 19th Bharat Rang Mahotsav, 19 teams have already performed from various Institutes and Colleges out of the 53 Institutes and Colleges which will perform during this 21 day Festival of Drama.

Shankar Das powers ahead in round two with a 68

Noida’s Gaurav Pratap Singh in five-way tie for second 
Noida, February 8, 2017: Kolkata’s Shankar Das, fighting his way back from an injury and poor form, came up with a brilliant four-under-68 in round two of the PGTI Players Championship at Noida Golf Course to power ahead by two strokes. Shankar, the 2014 PGTI Order of Merit champion was sitting pretty at a total of nine-under-135 at the end of round two.
There was a five-way tie for second place at seven-under-137 between Noida’s Gaurav Pratap Singh, overnight leaders Gaurav Ghei and Shamim Khan of Delhi, Honey Baisoya, another Delhi pro, as well as Chandigarh’s Ajeetesh Sandhu.
The cut came down at three-over-147. Fifty professionals made the cut.
Shankar Das (67-68), who was overnight tied third, one off the pace in round one, produced a flawless 68 to race ahead on day two. Das made early gains on Wednesday, collecting birdies on the first and third. He narrowly missed a hole-in-one on third where his tee shot lipped out.
The 33-year-old, who won the last of his six titles in late 2015, picked up two more strokes on the back-nine in what turned out to be a round of many near-misses for eagle and birdie.
“I came into this week with the disappointment of not getting to play in the Asian Tour’s Bangladesh event due to some issues with the visa. However, I’ve been able to put that behind me with two solid rounds here in Noida.
“I’ve put in a lot of work on my short-game in the last one month and that’s bearing fruit. But I feel today I was a little unlucky as I missed a hole-in-one by a whisker and also narrowly missed eagles on two other occasions.
“I’ve been striking it well with the 3-wood here and haven’t used the driver much. I’m hungry to win once again and now it’s a question of keeping up the tempo over the next two days,” said a confident Shankar.
Local favourite Gaurav Pratap Singh (67-70), who shared third place with Shankar after round one, moved up one spot courtesy a 70 that featured an eagle, two birdies and two bogeys. Singh came close to making an albatross on the par-5 first hole where he landed his second shot from 250 yards out to within inches of the pin. He picked up an eagle there.
Singh said, “I didn’t play as well as round one but today’s round keeps me in contention. The eagle on the opening hole provided a huge boost and was the highlight of my round. I don’t want to get too ahead of myself at this stage and just want to set a target for each round.”
Honey Baisoya (70-67) delivered the joint best score of the day, a five-under-67, to move into tied second. Baisoya, a two-time winner last year, had an early bogey on the 12th but fought back with six birdies thereafter that included three curling putts from 20 to 30 feet.
Baisoya said, “After the two wins in November 2016, I felt I lost my rhythm in last season’s penultimate event. I wasn’t planning my rounds well and made some wrong decisions on the course. But today’s round seems to have helped me regain my touch.
“I converted some tough putts out there and struck a good balance between caution and aggression. My first round was equally good but a double-bogey had spoilt it for me.
“It’s imperative to hit the centre of the fairway here as that sets up a lot of birdies even if you’re not at your best with the putter.”
Overnight leaders Gaurav Ghei (66-71) and Shamim Khan (66-71) slipped to tied second after posting scores of 71 in round two.
Ghei was two-over through the front-nine but a near-perfect tee shot on the 10thhelped him settle down and he went on to add three birdies from there on.
Shamim, on the other hand, was four-under through the front-nine but a double-bogey and two bogeys on the back-nine meant he closed the day with a modest 71.
Ajeetesh Sandhu (68-69) shot a second round of 69 to end the day as the fifth player in joint second.
Patna’s Aman Raj and Panchkula’s Angad Cheema were in tied seventh place at four-under-140.
Among the rookies, Kolkata’s Viraj Madappa (71-74) made the cut. Viraj, playing his first event as a professional, totaled one-over-145 at the halfway stage to be tied 21st.

UNICEF-ED: On killing of ICRC workers in Afghanistan and SARC workers in Syria

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake on killing of ICRC workers in Afghanistan and SARC workers in Syria

NEW YORK, 8 February 2017 – “We are saddened and outraged by the cruel killings today of six workers for the International Committee of the Red Cross in northern Afghanistan, and two workers for the Syrian Arab Red Crescent in Aleppo, Syria.
“Our deepest sympathy is with the families of those who lost their lives, and our thoughts are with those who were injured in these attacks. We remain deeply concerned for two ICRC workers who were reportedly abducted during the attack in Afghanistan.
“This double tragedy is a reminder of the risks humanitarian workers face all over the world today as they work to help others.  We best honour their heroism – and the sacrifice of those who lost their lives today — by supporting and strengthening their work.
“All of us at UNICEF stand in solidarity with our partners at the ICRC and SARC.”

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do.  Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit

Arts organisations win funding to take Welsh culture to India

Eleven Welsh arts projects will bring Welsh culture to India as part of the UK-India 2017 cultural season.
Mumbai, 9th February 2017: During the year Welsh and Indian creative professionals will travel to each other’s countries to work together and develop, produce and perform new work.The projects have been designed by arts organisations and creative professionals from across Wales in partnership with Indian organisations.
They have been chosen to receive funding from the £450,000 India Wales Fund, a joint Wales Arts International and British Council scheme, which aims to help build relationships between Wales and India.
The full list of selected projects will be announced on Wednesday, 8 February at the Wales Millennium Centre by Economy Secretary, Ken Skates. Speakers at the launch will include Chief Executive of Arts Council of Wales, Nick Capaldi and Director of British Council India, Alan Gemmell.
The diverse portfolio of projects will see Indian and Welsh partners working together across a range of art forms, including theatre, dance, visual arts, literature and music.
Performances will take place in India and Wales, and some of the work will be available online, with artists and audiences in both countries benefiting from opportunities including workshops, tours and talks.
Some of the project highlights:
  • Theatr Iolo will work with ThinkArts, an Indian company that produces arts events for children, to develop new theatre for babies and young children.
  • Parthian Books will work with India’s Bee Books on their project Through the Valley, City, Village, which will see Indian and Welsh writers working together in Bengal and Wales to produce a new book.
  • Welsh theatre company Living Pictures will tour India with their production Diary of a Madman, working with Indian company QTP Entertainment to provide technical skills workshops. A performance will take place at the Tata Steel sponsored Literature Live event in Mumbai.
National Theatre Wales, Chapter Arts, Literature Wales and Ffotogallery are just some of Wales’ big cultural names that will be building links with India.
Economy Secretary Ken Skates said:
“Wales has strong and long standing relations with India. The UK-India Year of Culture 2017 offers an important opportunity for Wales and India to refresh and strengthen these links, and also to create new dynamic connections and creative collaborations.
“I’m delighted that the India Wales Fund has been established jointly by the British Council and Wales Arts International and I’m certain that it will make a major contribution to the UK-India Year of Culture 2017. It will also be an opportunity to celebrate the cultural contribution that so many people of Indian heritage, who live in Wales, make to our national life.”
Nick Capaldi, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Wales, said:
“2017 is the UK-India Year of Culture and it offers an opportunity to celebrate and build on long-term ties and partnerships between Welsh cultural institutions and their Indian counterparts. This exciting opportunity promotes shared endeavour, and it will lead to the creation of new arts activity by encouraging the production of a wide range of new theatre, literature, photography and much more.”
Alan Gemmell, Director British Council India, commented:
“Welsh and Indian culture share a love of music, arts and sport. Artists and arts organisations from the two nations are keen to experience and learn from each other’s cultures through contemporary perspectives. This opportunity offers a creative platform for Welsh and Indian partners to connect and work collaboratively for mutual benefit and open up avenues for trade, investment and tourism. These links can also inspire students in India to choose Wales as a location for their higher studies. We are delighted to partner with Wales Arts International to celebrate the UK-India Year of Culture in 2017.”
Indian Honorary Consul to Wales, Raj Aggarwal, said:
“Wales and India share a love of music, dancing, theatre and literature so this cultural exchange is a fantastic opportunity for each country to share the heritage of each other’s performing arts. This is an amazing project with great scope and vision, and particularly exciting as it involves a collaboration and blending of both nation’s talent working together to create new and unique works. Professional dancers from both nations will be performing in Wales and India, Welsh band Burum will be working with leading India musicians, mixing the melodies and styles of both nations on a tour of both countries. A collaboration of Welsh, English and Bengali writers will bring together the works of six writers with live performance and the publication of a new tri-lingual work. This is an amazing opportunity not just to see and enjoy the other country’s culture and talent, but to actually work together to create a hybrid from the two that fuse our nation’s cultures in the future.”
2017 is the 70th anniversary of Indian independence and the British Council has developed a season of cultural activity to mark the anniversary. India Wales was launched at the International Kolkata Book Fair on Saturday, 4 February, and Avik Debnath, Senior Business Development Manager from the Welsh Government Office at the British High Commission in New Delhi, represented Wales at the event.

France reiterated its strong interest in pursuing deeper ties with ASEAN.

2 hrs · 
France reiterated its strong interest in pursuing deeper ties with ASEAN. The new Ambassador of France to ASEAN conveyed this message after presenting his letter of credence to Secretary-General of ASEAN yesterday. Read more on their meeting:
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