Tuesday, June 5, 2018


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Keeping in toe the NCC traditions the NCC Boy Cadets Mountaineering Expedition for the year 2018 was flagged off for Mt Saifee (6167). Mt Saifee is a magnificent, semi difficult and technical peak to climb and is situated in GarhwalHimalayas of Uttarakhand state.
Lt Gen PP Malhotra, VSM, DGNCC flagged off the expedition by handing over the flag to the expedition leader Col Dhirendra Singh and wished good luck to the entire team comprising of Maj Neeraj Maan, Dy leader, 17JCOs & NCOs & 20 NCC Boy cadets. The DGNCC in his speech said that he is confident that the team will cadets for their motivation & enthusiasm to become part of the Mountaineering Expedition.

A dramaturgical adaptation of Shrilal Shukla’s  “RAAG DARBARI” 

Dear Friend, 
It gives me an immense pleasure in informing you that the 1st year students’ of National School of Drama is coming on the floor with their new production
A dramaturgical adaptation of Shrilal Shukla’s
Adaptation: Sarah Mariam, Space Design: Asim Waqif
Set & Costume Design: Vidisha Purohit, Light Design: Rajesh Singh
Direction: Amitesh Grover
The performance are scheduled from 06th to 10th June, 2018 daily 06:30 p.m. with an additional show on 09th June, 2018 at 03:00 p.m. at Bahumukh auditorium, Bahawalpur House, Bhagwandas Road, New Delhi.
Director, NSD invites you to witness the above production. You may spare some time from your busy schedule to witness any of these shows and please inform us about your requirement so that necessary arrangement could be made accordingly.
Play contains adult language, children below 18 years will not be allowed. For more information please contact 23031120/21
We look forward to welcoming you to the performance.
With regards,
A.K. Barua
Public Relations Officer
National School of Drama
New Delhi

Sonam Kapoor Ahuja witnessed in Delhi for ‘Veere Di Wedding’ special screening

   The B-town diva Sonam Kapoor Ahuja visited a theatre in the capital for the special screening of her latest release flick ‘Veerey Di Wedding. She arrived at PVR, Chanakyapuri to gauge the public reaction. Where the crowd went wild. She interacted with the crowd and as well as media and grabbed positive response for her film ‘Veerey Di Wedding which also stars Kareena Kapoor Khan, Swara Bhaskar, Shikha Talsania in prominent roles.
   Along with crowd, Sonam herself witnessed highly enthusiastic for this special screening. While interacting with media peeps Sonam stated, “It’s a good commercial film, it doesn’t matter whether there is a man or a woman in the movie. I am very very happy! I am really happy for my sister Rhea Kapoor, who is a creative producer, even for the entire team. I am super happy and I am super excited.”
   Well, Veere Di Wedding is a female-centric comedy film, directed by Shashanka Ghosh. The film is co-produced by Rhea Kapoor, Ekta Kapoor, and Nikhil Dwivedi. Featuring under the banner of Balaji Motion Pictures, Anil Kapoor Films & Communication Network, the film also stars Sumeet Vyas, Vishwas Kini, Manoj Pahwa, Neena Gupta, Vivek Mushran, Edward Sonnenblick and more in prominent roles.

Raj Kundra grilled on trade, GainBitcoin

Businessman and actor Shilpa Shetty’s husband Raj Kundra have been summoned by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with the Bitcoin scam. Kundra is presently being questioned in Mumbai. The ED is recording Kundra’s statement.
The Enforcement Directorate today questioned Raj Kundra, husband of actor Shilpa Shetty, in connection with a money laundering probe related to a bitcoin transactions case, officials said. The businessman was summoned at the ED office in Mumbai and was asked questions about his involvement in the trade, termed as illegal by the government, they said. There are some instances of the case that are linked to Kundra and hence, he has been asked to record his statement, the officials said without elaborating. The Enforcement Directorate sometime back, had registered a criminal case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act against bitcoin-based investment website GainBitcoin, its founder Amit Bhardwaj and eight others.
Fiscal irregularities are of the tune and is alleged that about 8,000 investors lost about Rs 2,000 crore by transacting in this scheme. The ED had filed its case based on an FIR of the Maharashtra Police in this case and the Pune Police arrested Bhardwaj and his brother Vivek from Delhi earlier. Bhardwaj reportedly was behind ventures like GainBitcoin, GBMiners, MCAP and GB21, and the investors were allegedly duped after transactions on these portals.
Last year, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had informed Parliament that there are no regulations governing virtual currencies in India and the RBI has not given any licence to any entity/company to operate such currencies. The government had also cautioned investors to be wary of virtual currencies such as bitcoin, saying they are like Ponzi schemes with no legal tender and protection. — PTI

Sitharaman no scandal in the Rafale deal

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today said, Indian forces will respond to any unprovoked attack to keep the borders safe.
Mrs Sitharaman was addressing a press conference in New Delhi about the achievements of her Ministry in the last four years. She said, it is the government’s duty to guard the border and India will not stop if it is provoked.
The Minister said, terror and talks cannot go hand in hand with Pakistan, adding that this is the government’s stand which has already been told by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
Replying to a question, Mrs Sitharaman said, there is no scandal in the Rafale deal and assured the nation that not a single paisa corruption was done. She also said, there is no shortage of Defence ammunition today. The Minister added that the Armed Forces faced funds shortage under the UPA government. However, there are no shortages now.
Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, “There is no shortage of defence ammunition today. Allegations of scam in the Rafael deal are baseless,” Sitharaman stated while addressing a press conference on the occasion of the completion of four years of the National Democratic Alliance government.
But on the other hand, Congress President Rahul Gandhi has long been criticising the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government, alleging that the government has signed an overpriced deal.
Gandhi had also said the United Progressive Alliance government had cracked a better deal, while the incumbent government’s deal will be causing a loss of over Rs 40,000 crore. In February, Gandhi posed eight questions to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the deal and alleged that the Prime Minister personally went to Paris and changed the deal. — ANI
Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman on the Ramzan ceasefire with Pakistan.  Addressing a press conference, Sitharaman says terror and talks cannot go together. She said the army was consulted before the ceasefire was announced. The defence minister said 50 terrorists were killed in 19 weeks before Ramzan, while seven terrorists were killed in two weeks during Ramzan. “We will keep our borders safe,” the minister said.
On the Ramzan ceasefire, the minister added, “When it is an unprovoked attack the Army was given the right to retaliate. We honour the ceasefire but of course, a margin was given to us when there is an unprovoked attack. The MoD’s role isn’t to asses whether it was successful or not. It’s our business to guard the border and we won’t stop if we’re provoked. We shall be alert that no unprovoked attack goes without us responding. It’s our duty to keep India safe.”
She said the defence ministry spending was its highest last year for over a decade. She said there was no real cash crunch in defence. She said when the government came in there was an ammunition shortage, but not any more.

Asad Durrani in fix on “The Spy Chronicles:

The Pakistan Army has said that former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt. Gen. Asad Durrani, will be punished as per the law and the country’s Army Act for controversially co-authoring the book “The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI And The Illusion Of Peace” with India’s former Research and Analysis Wing chief A.S. Dulat.
Interacting with the media on Monday afternoon, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor said an inquiry has been ordered against the former ISI chief and outcome of the inquiry will be shared with the media.
“He (Durrani) is retired as a three-star general and you know the circumstances of his retirement – it was premature. He’s involved in the Asghar Khan case as well,” said Major General Ghafoor, adding that the army is clearly unhappy with what the retired officer had done.
“As soon as the book was published, we took action. We all know why he [Asad Durrani] was kicked out from the Army. He remarked that no one can become an angel after wearing the army uniform. He also noted that Durrani’s book referred to incidents that took place after his tenure. It was not okay for the retired spy chief to use his experience to comment on matters that happened after his retirement,”said Major General Ghafoor.
“We are all human, we make mistakes. But when you make mistakes, you suffer the consequences. The Pakistan Army has never forgiven any mistake, whether made by a soldier or a general. What will happen to Durrani will be in front of you,” he said.
He added that the reason why the forces had reacted so sharply to Durrani’s book was because the army does not take violations of its code lightly.
“Had he taken an NOC (no objection certificate) for the book, all of this would not have happened,” he said. — ANI
Further tweets on AsadDurrani has been barred from leaving  after the release of his new book “The SpyChronicles: RAW,ISI & the Illusion of Peace,”which has been co-authored by A.S. Dulat his former counterpart in RAW.
Pakistan Army has ordered an inquiry into a former spymaster who has co-written a book that says Osama bin Laden was handed over to the United States.
The army has asked the government to block Lieutenant-General Asad Durrani, a retired spy chief who headed the ISI in the early 1990s, from leaving the country because of revelations in a book he co-wrote with Amarjit Singh Dulat, a former head of the Indian intelligence Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

Tharoor to face trial

Taking cognizance of the Delhi Police charge sheet, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal asked Shashi Tharoor to appear before him on July 7
A Delhi court today summoned Congress leader Shashi Tharoor as an accused in the Sunanda Pushkar death case and asked him to appear before it on July 7. Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal said there were sufficient grounds to proceed against Tharoor for commission of offences in the case.
Tharoor has been charged with abetting the suicide of his wife Sunanda Pushkar, who was found dead in a five-star hotel in Delhi in 2014. Her last mails and messages on social media have been taken by the police as her dying declaration.
The parliamentarian from Kerala has also been accused of cruelty to his wife in the chargesheet submitted in court last month

Delhi Court extends interim protection to P Chidambaram

Delhi Court give interim protection from arrest to Chidambaram till July 10
Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram was summoned by ED today.The agency had issued a fresh summon to Mr Chidambaram yesterday to appear before the investigating officer of the case.
Former FM  appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the Aircel-Maxis money laundering case, he arrived at the agency’s headquarters in New Delhi and was accompanied by a lawyer. The ED is expected to record his statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
Mr Chidambaram’s role has come under the scanner in the 3,500 crore rupee Aircel-Maxis deal in which the ED has already questioned his son, Karti.
The former Finance Minister had last week approached the court of Special Judge OP Saini seeking relief from arrest by the ED in the case.
The same court today directed ED not to take any coercive action or arrest him till the 10th of next month. The court passed the order after ED sought more time to file a detailed reply to Mr Chidambaram’s plea.
The case pertains to grant of Foreign Investment Promotion Board clearance to firm M/S Global Communication Holding Services Ltd in 2006 for investment in Aircel.
The Supreme Court had, in March, directed ED and CBI to complete their probe into the 2G spectrum allocation cases, including the Aircel Maxis case, in six months.

Shubhankar Sharma earns US Open berth with tied fifth finish at Sectional Qualifier

Shubhankar Sharma earns US Open berth with tied fifth finish at Sectional Qualifier 
Twenty-one-year-old set to become fifth Indian to appear at year’s second Major, also youngest Indian to achieve the feat 
Columbus, Ohio, USA, June 5, 2018: Indian golfing sensation Shubhankar Sharma added another feather to his cap by earning his ticket to the year’s second Major, the US Open, scheduled to be held at the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, New York, from June 14 to 17.
Two-time European Tour winner and world no. 77 Shubhankar qualified for his maiden US Open after finishing tied fifth at the Sectional Qualifier staged at Columbus, Ohio, on Monday. The top 14 players in the field of 120 made the grade. It was the Indian’s third attempt at qualifying for the US Open.
Twenty-one-year-old Sharma, the current Asian Tour money list leader, returned a three-under-69 at the Brookside Golf & Country Club and followed that up with a four-under-68 at the Lakes Golf & Country Club to finish with a seven-under-137 total at the 36-hole qualifying event.
Shubhankar, who made his Major debut at the Masters earlier this year after receiving an invite, is now set to become the fifth Indian to play the US Open when he tees it up at the 118th edition of the event next week.
The four Indians who have previously appeared at the US Open include Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal, Shiv Kapur and Anirban Lahiri. Shiv Kapur’s tied 23rd at the 2014 US Open is the best finish by an Indian at the event.
After setting the record for becoming the youngest Indian to play the Masters, Sharma will now also have the distinction of being the youngest Indian to play the US Open at age 21. Anirban Lahiri held the previous record as he had appeared at the 2015 US Open at age 27.
Soon after his qualification for the 2018 US Open, Shubhankar tweeted, saying, “I am extremely excited to share that I have qualified for the @usopengolf. Third time lucky but worth every chance I took to get there. It also validates how competitive my primary home tours @PGTITOUR @asiantourgolf and, of course, @EuropeanTour are! Thank you, guys! @OWGRltd.”
Interestingly, Shubhankar will also be playing the 2018 British Open, having booked his place at the year’s third Major after claiming his breakthrough international win at the Joburg Open last December.
The Chandigarh-resident had reached a career-high world ranking of 64 in March this year largely thanks to his two European Tour triumphs at the Joburg Open and Maybank Championship and top-10 finishes at the WGC-Mexico Championship and the Hero Indian Open.
Sharma now has a good chance of emerging as only the third Indian to play all four Majors in the same year after Jeev Milkha Singh (2007) and Anirban Lahiri (2015).

Head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Salehi holds press

[facebook url="https://www.facebook.com/PRESSTV/videos/2064793020229141/" /]
Head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Salehi holds press conference

Salehi: Iran will not accept at all new JCPOA.AEOI had prepared itself for new scenarios in case JCPOA face problems.
Salehi : Iran Can return to nuclear activities before JCPOA.
Salehi: Iranian nation has stood strongly against enemies over past decades
Iran leaders: Limitation on country's Missile program a dream that will not come true

“linguicide” of the Dutch language

Hague: Dutch education officials said Monday they aim to rein in the spread of courses taught in English in the country´s universities and slow the flood of foreign students.
The move comes amid a growing outcry at the infiltration of English language courses in Dutch higher education institutions, with many warning that Dutch students are being disadvantaged and the language is under threat.
Even if “the internationalisation of higher education brings added value… there must always be a place for Dutch students” at the country´s 14 universities, the education ministry insisted.
The report comes after the largest lecturers´ union, known as BON, warned of the looming “linguicide” of the Dutch language if the trend continues.
Even though about 65 percent of bachelor´s degrees are taught in Dutch, only about 15 percent of master´s degrees are. And almost a quarter of students obtaining a master´s are foreigners.
Britain´s exit from the European Union next year has only accelerated the phenomenon, with international students flocking to the Netherlands drawn by the large number of English-taught degree courses.
“The clauses in the law pertaining to the choice of language in higher and vocational education must be revised,” the ministry said.
Greater accent must be placed on “accessibility to education for Dutch students”.
BON has launched a lawsuit accusing Twente University and the University of Maastricht of killing the Dutch language through the “Anglicisation” of courses as they both offer two master´s degree courses in psychology exclusively in English.
They termed the offers by the two universities as an “impoverishment” and a “dangerous abandonment” of the Dutch language.
But Education Minister Ingrid van Engelshoven also cautioned against becoming too inward-looking.
“I represent an open Dutch society in which we dare to look beyond the borders,” she said, quoted in the statement.
“We must not let ourselves be scared by stories in which internationalism is something negative which is swamping us,” she added.
Media agencies

US & NK meet on June12, Singapore

With hectic preparations are on for a summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un were going well, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Monday, and the two were tentatively scheduled to meet at 9 AM Singapore time (6 AM PST) on June 12.
After having cancelled the summit on Friday, Trump said the meeting was back on after he received the North Korean delegation bearing a letter from Kim.
Asked about the contents of Kim’s letter, Sanders declined to “get into the specifics” but added: “We feel like things are continuing to move forward and good progress has been made.”
“The president has been receiving daily briefings on North Korea from his national security team,” she added.
After meeting a senior official from Pyongyang at the White House on Friday, Trump said North Korea was being more cooperative and that although sanctions would remain in place, he would hold off on imposing new ones.
Trump said he didn’t want to use the term “maximum pressure” any more, because the two sides were “getting along”.
On consisting to the  question at a news briefing on Monday whether the “maximum pressure” campaign would continue, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters: “We have sanctions on, they are very powerful and we would not take those sanctions off unless North Korea denuclearized.”
The Trump administration has credited its “maximum pressure” campaign, supported by the United Nations and major world powers, for helping bring North Korea to the table to negotiate giving up its nuclear weapons.
Top Senate Democrats on Monday told Trump not to make a deal that leaves North Korea with nuclear weapons and threatened to maintain or toughen sanctions on Pyongyang if that condition is not met.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and ranking Democrats from national security committees released a letter to Trump laying out demands for any pact, which they said must be permanent.
They also urged him to lean hard on Kim’s ally China to ensure it “will do all it can to help secure an agreement and then insist on strict North Korean compliance with such an agreement”.
Easing sanctions under a deal would likely need approval from Congress which has passed sanctions on North Korea.
Since most legislation needs 60 votes to pass the 100-member Senate and Trump’s fellow Republicans hold only 51 seats, that would require Democratic support.

29th Anniversary of Tiananmen Square 115 Ks turnout

People in Hong Kong have gathered for an annual memorial service for victims of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown in Beijing.Organizers say about 115,000 people turned out on Monday for this year’s gathering to mark the 29th anniversary of the incident. That’s 5,000 more than last year.
Participants lit candles in memory of the victims of the fatal crackdown on pro-democracy activists, many of whom were students.
The demonstrators demanded that the Chinese government re-evaluate the incident, which it says left 319 people dead.
Critics say the number was far larger.
The organizers displayed a bust of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo at the rally. Liu was a symbol of the pro-democracy movement in the country. He died last year.
The demonstrators protested against the Chinese authorities’ continued surveillance of his widow, Liu Xia, and called for her release from house arrest.
They also criticized what they see as an intensifying crackdown on human rights lawyers in mainland China, as President Xi Jinping moves to solidify his one-person rule.
A 61-year-old participant said that people in Hong Kong need to make their voices heard in the international community about the deterioration of human rights and democracy in China.
About 100 people also held a rally in the Taiwanese city of Taipei on Monday night to remember the victims of the incident.
Wu Renhua, a former university lecturer, told the crowd what he saw when he joined the student-led protest on June 4th 29 years ago. Wu now lives in exile in the United States.
Wu said more than 200,000 troops were mobilized against the protest. He said troops fired at crowds randomly and tanks charged into them. He said children and medical staff giving first aid were among those killed.
Wu emphasized that the impact of Tiananmen continues. He said Chinese authorities still threaten veterans of the protest at home and abroad. He called on people at the rally to stand up and continue saying “no” to the Chinese government and Communist Party.
A man in his 20s said people in Taiwan need to sustain interest in how Chinese authorities persecute dissidents. Otherwise, he said Taiwan could lose its democracy just like what is happening in Hong Kong.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen delivered a message to people in mainland China on her Facebook page, using simplified Chinese characters.
She wrote that China is haunted by the 1989 tragedy. But she said it can be turned into a foundation to move toward a society that embraces freedom and democracy if Beijing faces up to history and admits using state violence on its citizens.
Tsai said she hopes the universal values of freedom and democracy can be enjoyed by people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Hani Mulki has resigned

Jordan’s Prime Minister Hani Mulki has resigned following widespread protests against plans to raise income tax. King Abdullah accepted Mulki’s resignation on Monday.
Media reports say the King has asked Omar al-Razzaz, the education minister, to form a new government as prime minister.
Mulki’s government sparked protests with a reform plan, backed by the International Monetary Fund, which included a steep tax hike.
Thousands of protestors have taken to the streets in the capital Amman since last week, clashing with security forces.
It is unclear whether Mulki’s resignation will end demonstrations. Labor unions have vowed to continue protesting until the authorities give up the planned tax hike.
Jordan’s economy has been hit hard by regional insecurity in recent years, in particular due to conflicts in neighboring Syria and Iraq. Jordan has accepted nearly 700,000 refugees from Syria.

Merkel: Iran is a ‘concern’ for Israel’s security

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that she agreed with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Iran’s activities in the Middle East are a concern, particularly for Israel’s security. She made the statement after a meeting in Berlin. “We agree that the question of Iran’s regional influence is worrying, especially for Israel’s security,” the chancellor said. Netanyahu’s European tour this week follows the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal which France, Germany and Britain have said they will continue to respect. The Israeli leader is also expected to meet French President Emmanuel Macron and possibly British Prime Minister Theresa May to discuss ways to stop what Netanyahu called “Iran’s nuclear ambitions and regional expansionism,” Reuters said.

Groupe PSA begins suspending joint ventures in Iran

Groupe PSA has begun to suspend its joint venture activities in Iran, the French carmaker said on Monday, following the withdrawal of the US from a nuclear pact signed with the country, Reuters reports. European signatories are scrambling to save the accord, by protecting trade with Iran against the re-imposition of US sanctions to dissuade Tehran from quitting the deal. “The group has begun to suspend its joint venture activities, in order to comply with US law by August 6,” PSA said in a statement. “With the support of the French government, the Groupe PSA is engaging with the US authorities to consider a waiver.” The suspensions do not alter PSA’s current financial guidance, the group said, adding that its Iranian activities accounted for less than 1 percent of revenue.

 Putin is set to visit Austria on Tuesday

 Putin is set to visit Austria on Tuesday – a country that traditionally has good relations with Moscow. His trip, however, might have wider implications for a Europe that seems to be at a crossroads.
Austria has had constructive and pragmatic –if not friendly– relations with Russia and its predecessor, the Soviet Union, since the establishment of the Second Republic back in 1955. Vienna has also strived to keep it that way through the recent turbulent years, marked by increased tensions between Russia and Europe.
Even though it had to join anti-Russian sanctions after Russia’s reunification with Crimea and the start of the Ukraine crisis, Austria repeatedly called for easing or even lifting the restrictions, pointing at their ineffectiveness and utter futility.
Austria was the first European country Putin visited in summer 2014, after the outbreak of the European conflict put a strain on Russia’s relations with the EU.
Now seems the right time to give these good relations a boost. Last month, the Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz praised Russia as a “superpower” as he expressed Vienna’s desire to “keep the channels of communication with Russia open.”
In his interview with the Russian media ahead of Putin’s visit this week, he said he sees a “positive dynamic” in the development of bilateral relations, adding that they have “enormous potential.” Kurz also chose Russia as a destination for his first visit to a non-EU country after he took up the chancellor’s post in what could also be described as a positive sign.
His Austrian People’s Party’s coalition partners, the right-wing Freedom Party (FPO), hold an even more favorable view of Moscow. The FPO called for the lifting of anti-Russian sanctions on numerous occasions throughout these years and even vowed to fight for it as part of the Austrian government.
The FPO members also visited Crimea in 2017. Austria maintains strong economic ties with Russia, even though bilateral trade between the two nations has been severely hit by a series of sanctions and counter-sanctions imposed by Moscow and Brussels against one another over the course of the Ukraine crisis.
Economic ties seem to be recovering: In 2017, the trade turnover between Russia and Austria grew by 40 percent, compared with the previous year. Some 60 percent of Austria’s gas supply also comes from Russia. Since the start of 2018, the Alpine nation has increased its gas imports by an impressive 77.2 per cent, compared to the same period of the already record-breaking previous year.
The Russian president’s visit also conveniently coincides with the 50th anniversary of the beginning of Soviet gas supplies to the Alpine nation. The Austrian OMV energy company became the first western enterprise to sign a gas supply agreement with the Soviet Union in 1968.
Against such a positive backdrop, Putin’s visit to Austria, his first foreign visit since re-election in March, is poised to be beneficial for both sides in terms of both political and economic relations. However, the two leaders might have some bigger plans in mind than just a bilateral agenda. Austria, which takes pride in its neutrality and geographical location “at the heart” of the European continent, apparently strives to fill a role as a ‘bridge’ in relations between Moscow and the EU, which Kurz says he wants to normalize.
One has to admit that a small Alpine nation could hardly be called a political heavyweight in the current European political landscape. Neither is Austria likely to single-handedly undo the damage done to Russian-European relations by the years-long bickering over the conflict in Ukraine, the Syrian war and some other issues.
Still, it might be able to influence the situation at a time when the future of European foreign policy seems to be left in a sort of limbo. Kurz has already said that his government would seek to “bridge” the rift between Brussels and some opportunist Eastern European governments, which has been plaguing the bloc for quite some time.

Kim invited to Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin has invited North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un to pay an official visit to Russia. The invitation came in a personal letter that was delivered earlier by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
One of the possible occasions for the visit could be the 4th Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia’s Far Eastern city near its border with North Korea. The forum will take place on September 11-13.
However, the visit depends on Pyongyang, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. “Time will show to what extent it is convenient for the North Korean side,” he told journalists on Monday. Peskov added that the issue is to be worked on via diplomatic channels and there are no specific details on the meeting so far.
The top Russian diplomat traveled to the North Korean capital last week to discuss the course of intra-Korean negotiations and de-escalation in the region with senior officials. After receiving Putin’s personal letter, Kim reaffirmed his commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
The meeting with Lavrov came less than two weeks before the highly anticipated summit between US President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader. Trump disapproved of Lavrov’s visit to the North, questioning its purpose, but then conversely noted that “it could be very positive too.”

US: Chinese items targeted for 25 percent tariffs

China says it has made progress with the United States in weekend talks on bilateral trade in farm and other products. But it warns that any US trade sanctions on Chinese imports would nullify this progress.
Two countries held another two days of trade talks on Saturday and Sunday in Beijing. US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross met with Liu He, the Chinese Vice Premier in charge of economic affairs.
After the talks, Chinese officials said in a statement that, “the two sides had good communication in various areas such as agriculture and energy, and have made positive and concrete progress.”
But it added that, “all economic and trade outcomes of the talks will not take effect if the US side imposes any trade sanctions, including raising tariffs.”
They said the latest trade talks were based on a bilateral agreement to avoid a trade war and that the outcome of the talks would be nullified in the event of possible US economic sanctions.
During the previous round of talks in Washington, the two countries agreed to avoid a trade war. China also agreed to import more American farm products to reduce its trade surplus with the US.
The US announced on Tuesday of last week that it would release a final list of Chinese items targeted for 25 percent tariffs by mid-June and promptly impose the levies, citing alleged violations of intellectual property rights by China.

Grenade attack in Shopian

16 people, including four policemen, were injured in a grenade attack in a busy market area in Jammu and Kashmir’s Shopian district, police said.
Terrorists hurled a grenade on security forces in Shopian town, resulting in injuries to at least 12 civilians and four cops, a police official said.
He said the area has been cordoned off and searches started to nab the attackers.
Terrorists have carried out a series of grenade attacks on security forces and politicians since last week.

Modi, Mattis pledge to continue strong US-India strategic partnership  

India and the United States have pledged to continue their strong bilateral strategic partnership, the Pentagon said after a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis.
Mattis met the prime minister on the sidelines of the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ 17th Asia Security Summit — also known as the Shangri-La Dialogue — in Singapore on Saturday.
“The two discussed the importance of the US-India relationship, and the role of both nations in cooperating to uphold international laws and principles, and to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific,” defence spokesperson Captain Jeff Davis said here yesterday.
The two leaders “pledged to continue the strong US-India strategic partnership and affirmed their commitment to maintaining peace, stability and prosperity in the region,” Davis said in a readout of the meeting. — PTI  

RFID chips for keeping track of organoids

Researchers in the U.S. and Japan plan to use Radio frequency identification (RFID) chips for keeping track of organoids, samples of human tissue that mimic pieces of organs and are grown from stem cells. The organoids the researchers embedded with RFID chips functioned normally and withstood extreme conditions, suggesting that they could be a useful way to organize and identify the large quantities of organoids that are often needed in experimental situations.
Human organoids are a promising avenue for research into human development and disease because they replicate the structure, function, and phenotype of our organs in miniature in the lab. Grown from human induced pluripotent stem cells, they divide, differentiate, and self-assemble according to the growth programs of their corresponding organs. And particularly in medicine, they can illustrate the effects of certain drugs on our organs in ways that more traditional cell cultures cannot.
More work needs to be done to scale up the production of these hybrid organoids, and the research team is currently working to develop a system that could scan the radio frequency and fluorescence of an organoid at the same time. The team also hopes that other kinds of microchips could be integrated into organoids in the future and that RFID chips with sensing technologies could be used to record real-time data about the organoids.

13 Indian beaches will get the Blue Flag certification.

Environment-friendly, clean and equipped with amenities of international standards for tourists, 13 Indian beaches will soon get the Blue Flag certification. These beaches of Odisha, Maharashtra and other coastal states will be the first in not just India, but in Asia, to get the Blue Flag certification.
The Indian beaches are being developed by the Society for Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM), an environment ministry’s body working for the management of coastal areas.
Project Head of SCIOM Arvind Nautiyal said that to make the beaches environment and tourist-friendly in accordance with the Blue Flag standards, a beach has to be plastic-free and be equipped with a waste management system.
They also have to ensure availability of clean water for tourists, have amenities of international standards for tourists and be equipped with facilities for studying environmental impact around the beach, he said.
Mr Nautiyal was speaking at a five-day conference, which was organised to commemorate the World Environment Day, about making the beaches pollution free.
He said that according to the Blue Flag standards, a beach has to strictly comply with 33 environment and tourism related conditions. There is not a single Blue Flag beach in Asia so far, he added.
The Blue Flag beach standards were established by Copenhagen-based Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) in 1985. The Blue Flag programme, which requires 33 standards in four areas to be met to make beaches environment-friendly, first started from Paris.
Within the next two years, almost all beaches in Europe were accorded the Blue Flag certification. This campaign spread outside Europe, to South Africa, in 2001.
Asia remains untouched by it till date. The environment ministry started a pilot project to develop the Indian beaches according to the Blue Flag standards in December 2017.
A senior ministry official said that 13 beaches from the coastal states had been chosen for the Blue Flag certification under the project. For this, these beaches are being developed in accordance with the Blue Flag beach standards under a Unified Coastal Areas Management Programme.
This project has two main aims. Firstly, to improve the aquatic habitat by cleaning the growing pollution and garbage in the Indian beaches. Secondly, to develop ecological tourism with constant progress and development of tourist facilities.
According to ministry sources, Chandrabhaga beach of Odisha’s Konark coast was the first to complete the tag certification process. It will be awarded the honour on the World Environment Day tomorrow.
Maharashtra’s Chiwla and Bhogave beaches are also being made a part of this initiative. Apart from these, one beach from Puducherry, Goa, Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar Islands each has been chosen as Blue Flag beach.

Met Dept advisory

Met department has issued a weather warning of thunderstorm, gusty winds and lightning at various places in the country today. According to the advisory, thunderstorm accompanied with gusty winds and lightning are very likely at isolated places over Gangetic West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Vidarbha, Konkan and Goa, Madhya Maharashtra, Marathawada, Tamilnadu, Telangana, Rayalaseema and Interior Karnataka and Coastal Andhra Pradesh.
Heavy rain is also expected at isolated places over Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Assam and Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura, Telangana, Rayalaseema, Coastal Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.
The advisory further said, heat wave conditions are very likely to occur at one or two pockets over West Rajasthan.

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