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Sunday, 24 September

20:45

US to Plunder Afghanistan"s Mineral Riches Strategic Culture Foundation

Endless US aggression in Afghanistan has nothing to do with combating terrorism (America supports it), everything to do with controlling the country, using it for oil and gas pipelines, part of encircling Russia and China with US military bases, and plundering vast Afghan mineral riches likely worth trillions of dollars, a prize corporate predators covet.

20:15

Morgan Freeman Joins Propaganda War Effort Strategic Culture Foundation

Morgan Freeman, the Oscar winner and five-time Golden Globe nominee, is featured in a video running on the organization website, encouraging Americans to fight back against Russia's influence. We have been attacked. We are at war, says the movie star, calling on President Trump to address the nation about the attack the United States came under during the presidential election...

19:46

Auditor Says He Was Forced to Quit Vatican After Finding Irregularities The Wire

Pope Francis is greeted by Libero Milone (R), the Vatican's auditor general, during a meeting at the Vatican

Pope Francis is greeted by Libero Milone (R), the Vaticans auditor general, during a meeting at the Vatican, April 1, 2016. Osservatore Romano/Handout via Credit: Reuters/Files

Vatican City:  The Vaticans first auditor-general, who resigned without explanation in June, has broken his silence, saying he was forced to step down with trumped-up accusations after discovering evidence of possible illegal activity.

Speaking to reporters from four media organisations including Reuters in the office of his lawyers in Rome, Libero Milone also said he believed that some in the Vatican wanted to slow down Pope Franciss efforts at financial reform.

He said he could not give details of the irregularities he had found because of non-disclosure agreements. Reuters was unable to independently verify his assertions, whi...

19:45

How Merkel"s Win May Hide Rising Discontent Strategic Culture Foundation

With German Chancellor Merkel expected to win reelection on Sunday, the European elites may celebrate having turned back a populist surge, but their neo-liberal policies continue to fuel discontent, says Andrew Spannaus.

19:44

Mexico Shaken by Quake Aftershock, Volcanic Ash Adds to Fear The Wire

Mexican and international rescue teams remove a painting as they search for survivors in a collapsed building after an earthquake, at Roma neighborhood in Mexico City, Mexico September 23, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Carlos Jasso

Mexican and international rescue teams remove a painting as they search for survivors in a collapsed building after an earthquake, at Roma neighborhood in Mexico City, Mexico, September 23, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Carlos Jasso

Mexico City: A magnitude 6.2 aftershock that shook Mexico on Saturday was blamed for five deaths, spreading fear among anxious residents reeling from a string of natural disasters and interrupting the search for survivors from a bigger tremor ea...

19:23

Police Lathi-Charge Students Protesting Victim Shaming in BHU, Administration Denies Involvement The Wire

The students said the cops lathicharged without provocation and that they even tried to enter the womens hostel.

Students told ANI that girls were beaten and abused during the lathicharge. Credit: Twitter/ANI

New Delhi: Clashes broke out at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) late on Saturday night, after police lathi-charged on women protesting against the alleged inaction and victim-shaming by the university administration.

Videos have emerged showing cops charging towards women as others run to their hostels. No women constables can be seen in the videos. The lathi-charge happened just hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modis visit to Varanasi.

A first-year student, who lives in the university hostel, was allegedly molested and grabbed by three bike-borne men just outside the BHU campus on Thursday evening. According to NDTV, the protesting students were struggling to meet the Vice Chancellor to apprise him of the safety situation and to urge him to take necessary steps. But last night, as they tried to enter his residence, they were stopped by a couple of university guards before the cops intervened and lathicharged to disperse them. Several students got injured in the scuffle.

According to the NDTV report, the students said that the police lathicharg...

19:15

American Hypocrisy About Kurds Strategic Culture Foundation

Donald Trumps address to the UN General Assembly on September 19 was a harangue of swaggering abuse and arrogant belligerence but his first public utterance, the day before, was not as spiteful and malevolent. Indeed it was greeted with relief and surprise by the many people who had expected a tirade against the United Nations Organisation on the lines of his comment that it was just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time, which was as absurd, insulting and vulgar as so many of his remarks.

18:30

The Environmental Impact of a Coal Plant in Kenya Is Being Underplayed The Wire

Apart from the unfavourable economic and financing aspects for generating energy from coal, the plant may be Kenyas single largest pollution source.

An old coal-burning power plant in China. Credit: Reuters

An old coal-burning power plant in China. Credit: Reuters

China is transforming its sources of energy domestically in a bid to reverse decades of environmental pollution. But the switch to renewable energy has brought about a conundrum: what to do with the jobs and industries that have no future in this new system?

Export them. Several African countries are accepting the poisoned chalice of Chinas subsidised development through the construction of outdated, dirty...

18:25

Germany Votes as History Beckons for Merkel, Far-Right The Wire

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a breakfast with supporters at the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party election campaign meeting centre in Berlin, Germany, September 23, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a breakfast with supporters at the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party election campaign meeting centre in Berlin, Germany, September 23, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch

Berlin: Germans began voting in a national election on Sunday that is likely to see Chancellor Angela Merkel win a historic fourth term and a far-right party enter parliament for the first time in more than half a century.

Merkels conservative bloc is on track to rema...

18:16

Tamasgir Mangala Bansode and the Tamasha of Her Life The Wire

The informal economy of tamasha stigmatises artistes and at the same time, provides possibilities and power, however limited, to some women.

Mangalatai leading the group of dancers in Pune in 2004. Credit: Shailaja Paik

Mangalatai leading the group of dancers in Pune in 2004. Credit: Shailaja Paik

Beyond the stereotypical vulgar song and dance, fun and play, bawdy lavani (folk song) performance, and the rural disorderly spectacle, tamasha (travelling folk theatre), the significant lokakala of Maharashtra, is best understood through the analytical matrix of mobility and migration, access to means of everyday survival, pedagogy of survival and negotiations for work. The Dalit tamasha legend, Vithabai Narayangavkar sang a famous Lavani in the 1960s:

laaj dhara pavana janachi manachi
potasathi nachatey mee parva kunachi
dava dola jhakun khunavu naka ho asa tumhi hinavu naka
aathavan dete mee tarnya panachi
potasathi nachatey mee parva kunachi

(O guest, maintain your shame for others as well as for your self. I am dancing for my everyday sustenance; I do not care for anybody else. Do not make sexual gestures by winking your left eye at me. You are actually mocking me. I provide you a remembrance of your youth. I am dancing for my everyday living. I do not care for anybody else.).

Vithabais daughter, Mangalatai Bansode, sang the famous lavani for me, when I interviewed her in the village of Kada in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra on September 9 and...

18:00

Balochistans Injustices Need the Worlds Attention The Wire

Balochistan is the cauldron of the worst human rights violations in Pakistan, which does not have a good track record of upholding human rights in general.

Instead of using force against the Baloch, it would be best to recognise the sentiments and aspirations of the Baloch people. Credit: Reuters

Instead of using force against the Baloch, it would be best to recognise the sentiments and aspirations of the Baloch people. Credit: Reuters

On September 22, 2017, Husain Haqqani, former Ambassador of Pakistan to the United States, addressed the Human Rights Commission Session at Geneva with the following words on Balochistan.

I come to this event as a Pakistani friend of Balochistan, in the belief that human rights are universal and their violation should not be ignored out of misplaced patriotism.

Europeans, Americans and Israelis who criticise the violation of human rights by their own governments show moral courage.

The world would be a better place if Indians spoke out when human rights are violated in Kashmir, Myanmars leaders speak up when their army deprives the Rohingya of their life and dignity, and Pakistanis recognise that injustices against the...

17:30

The Last Insect Youd Expect to Put up With Laziness Is the Ant but It Does The Wire

Do lazy ants perform an essential service? Do they make themselves useful by relaying messages or acting as living larders?

An ant colony in a lab. Credit: Daniel Charbonneau

An ant colony in a lab. Credit: Daniel Charbonneau

Animals do the most amazing things. Read about them in this series by Janaki Lenin.

Ants are the epitome of hard-work and their nests are hives of activity. From dawn to dusk, workers go about their designated jobs forage for food, tend the young, clean the nest and guard against invaders. But some dont do anything at all. Daniel Charbonneau and Anna Dornhaus, University of Arizona, Tucson, discovered that these freeloaders werent just one or two individuals or even in the minority. At least 50% of the workers did nothing, enough to trip the industrious ones as they ran about their tasks.

They really just sit there, Charbonneau said in a press release. And whenever theyre doing anything other than doing nothing, they do chores around the nest, like a bit of brood care here or grooming another worker there.

When resea...

17:16

Trump Tweets Threats Against North Korea After UN Speech The Wire

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada June 18, 2016. Credit: Reuters

Republican US presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Treasure Island Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada ,June 18, 2016. Credit: Reuters

US President Donald Trump said on Twitter on Saturday, North Koreas Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and leader Kim Jong Un wont be around much longer if Ri echoed the thoughts of Little Rocket Man, an apparent reference to Kim.

Ri told the UN General Assembly earlier on Saturday that targeting the US mainland with its rockets was inevitable after Mr Evil President Trump...

16:41

UNHCR Chief Meets With Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh Camp The Wire

Given the massive scale of the exodus, UN and aid agencies are scrambling to give people shelter, get them fed and prevent an outbreak of disease.

U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi speaks during a news conference in San Jose, Costa Rica August 30,2017. Credit: Reuters/Juan Carlos Ulate/Files

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Filippo Grandi speaks during a news conference in San Jose, Costa Rica August 30, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Juan Carlos Ulate/Files

Kutapalong, Bangladesh:  The head of the UN refugee agency said on Saturday he was shocked by the terrible violence inflicted on Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar, and said their suffering would last far longer than the time it took to satisfy their basic needs.

More than 420,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh since August 25, when attacks by Rohingya militants in Rakhine State triggered a Myanmar crackdown that the UN has branded ethnic cleansing.

During a visit to the sprawling Kutapalong refugee camp in southeastern Bangladesh, close to the Myanmar border, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, said Rohingyas had told him their stories.

I was really struck by the fear that these people carry with themselves, what they have gone through and seen back in Myanmar, he told Reuters in the camp, where refugees live under thousands of tarpaulins covering the hills and...

16:17

Amazon Affiliate Strikes Share Deal With Shoppers Stop The Wire

File Photo: The logo of the web service Amazon is pictured in Mexico City, Mexico on June 8, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Carlos Jasso/Illustration/File Photo

File Photo: The logo of the web service Amazon is pictured in Mexico City, Mexico on June 8, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Carlos Jasso/Illustration/File Photo

Mumbai: An affiliate of Amazon.com Inc has agreed to buy a 1.79 billion-rupee ($27.6 million) stake in Indian retailer Shoppers Stop Ltd, the Indian company said in a filing.

Amazon.com NV Investment Holdings LLC, a foreign portfolio investor, will subscribe to about 4.4 million shares, equivalent to an about 5% stake, in the Indian retailer at Rs 407.78 a piece on a preferential basis, Shoppers Stop told the stock exchanges late on Saturday.

On Friday, Shoppers Stop shares had closed 3% lower at Rs 418.10 on the National Stock Exchange.

The Amazon affiliate will not take a board position, Shoppers Stop, which operates large department stores and other retail outlets, said in the filing.

($1 = 64.7900 Indian rupees)

(Reuters)

The post Amazon Affiliate Strikes Share Deal With Shoppers Stop appeared first on...

16:13

The Life of Labour: Why Trade Unions Oppose the New Wage Code Bill The Wire

The Life of Labour, a compilation of important labour developments from around the world, will be delivered to your inbox every Sunday at 10 am. Click here to subscribe.

Illustration by Aliza Bakht

Illustration by Aliza Bakht

Why trade unions oppose the new Wage Code Bill

The NDA government has been pushing for changes in the labour law ecosystem by replacing all the labour laws with just four labour codes. The first of which is the Wage Code, that intends to amalgamate four labour laws the Payment of Wages Act, 1936; the Minimum Wages Act, 1948; the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965; and the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976. Indian trade unions have come out in opposition to this process as they claim these reforms dilute whatever protections are still left to workers within the law. Newsclick explains the rationale behind this opposition while pointing to the unfulfilled promises such as National Minimum Wage.

Five contract workers killed inhaling poisonous fumes

Five casual workers were killed and two remain in critical condition after inhaling tox...

16:01

Former Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi to Be Next CAG The Wire

Mehrishi, a 1978 batch (retired) Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of the Rajasthan cadre, completed his two-year fixed term as the home secretary last month.

Rajiv Mehrishi. Credit: PTI

Rajiv Mehrishi. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: Former home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi will take over as the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) tomorrow, succeeding Shashi Kant Sharma, officials said today.

Mehrishi, 62, would be administered the oath of office and secrecy by President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhavan tomorrow.

His appointment has been cleared by the government, the officials said.

Mehrishi, a 1978 batch (retired) Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of the Rajasthan cadre, completed his two-year fixed term as the home secretary last month.

Sharma, who had taken over as the CAG on May 23, 2013, retired on Friday, the officials said. Sharma was defence secretary prior to his appointment as the CAG.

Mehrishi will have a tenure of about three years. The CAG is appointed for a term of six years or till the incumbent attains the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.

As a constitutional functionary, the CAG is primarily entrusted with the responsibility to audit the accounts of the Union government and of the state governments.

CAG reports are laid before the parliament and legislatures of the states.

Mehrishi, who hails from Rajasthan, holds Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow (...

15:47

Energy Desperation or Why Trump Cant Restore Friendship With Russia New Eastern Outlook

15:31

Sushma Swaraj Slams Pakistan at UN, Asks Its Leaders to Introspect The Wire

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj also accused Pakistan of waging a war against India.

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, US, September 23, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Eduardo Munoz

United Nations: Hitting out at Pakistan for creating terror groups like LeT, JeM, Hizbul Mujahideen and the Haqqani Network, India on Saturday asked Pakistani leaders to introspect as to why their country is infamous as the pre-eminent export factory for terror.

In her address to the 72nd UN General Assembly session, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj spoke on issues like terrorism, climate change, maritime and cyber security, UN Security Council reforms, poverty and unemployment.

Swaraj accused Pakistan of waging a war against India and said a country that has been the worlds greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity became a champion of hypocrisy by preaching about humanity from this podium.

She was referring to Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasis speech on Thursday wherein he accused India of violating huma...

14:00

Listen: Womens Voices and the Banarasi Kajri The Wire

The womens bodies, their voices weaving in and out of each other and their comments framing their songs are living demonstration of how dominance and resistance are not distinct and monologic.

Ghats in Varanasi. Credits: Ryan/Flickr CC BY 2.0

Ghats in Varanasi. Credits: Ryan/Flickr CC BY 2.0

The women move in a circle as they sing, swaying, facing each other. Now and then one will reach up to adjust the pallu of her sari covering her head. The light of a single bulb, filtered through the foliage of the neem tree above, washes the figures in the circle. The bulb hangs outside the house that belongs to Shanti, the woman hosting the Teej festival party.

I am in the neighbourhood of Nagwa in Varanasi, a five-minute walk from my house. It is a densely built-up area along the Ganga at its southernmost point in the city. The residents here are domestic workers, mechanics, labourers and owners of food stalls and small shops.

The women sing in the genre called Kajri special to the season of sawan. Kajri songs are all about different ways of regarding and responding to this monsoon month of the Hindu calendar they are about the clouds gathering, about putting mehndi on ones hands, about going to ones sasural or in-laws house.

There are no...

14:00

Experimenting with Cold, Magnetic Materials in Pune The Wire

Condensed matter physicist Archana Lakhani is the only woman scientist at CSR Indore and this has been the case for the last ten years.

Archana Lakhani. Credit: The Author

Archana Lakhani. Credit: Aashima Dogra

The Wire is happy to support this project by Aashima Dogra and Nandita Jayaraj, who are travelling across India to meet some fantastic women scientists.

Indore-based UGC-DAE Consortium for Scientific Research is an institute like no other in the country. The government-financed facility houses a selection of instruments, some of them costing over two crores, that can peer into the deepest aspects of the material world.

As a user-based institute, its doors are open to research groups looking to test their samples with sophisticated machines that are hard to find anywhere else. These machines are a treasure chest for physicists. Imagine the possibilities for research when you can directly look inside molecules on a nanoscale microscope.

13:30

Why Are People Fighting for the Rahul Collection at Patna Museum? The Wire

Throughout history, Bihar has been the epicentre of Buddhist teaching. The Rahul Collection commemorates this heritage.

Patna Museum

Patna Museum. Courtesy: Indian Cultural Forum

The Rahul Collection, housed for the last 80 years in Patna Museum, has been in the news recently, following the decision to shift a part of it to the new Bihar Museum that will be inaugurated at Patna on October 2,, 2017. Along with Rahuljis immediate family, prominent academic scholars and activists are unitedly opposed to the decision.

The Rahul Collection at Patna

The Rahul Collection was a provisional gift made to Patna Museum by Mahapandit Rahul Sankrityayana, commencing from 1933, and is the fruit of the four arduous journeys he made to Tibet in 1929, 1934, 1936 and 1938.  Items were added to it until 1956. The nucleus of the collection is housed in three separate segments in the historic Patna Museum building. They are:

A: The art collection of Tibetan thanka paintings, reliquary objects and statuary, establish the Bihar-Nepal-Tibet linkages of Buddhism, as well as the lineal descent of Buddhist iconography from the Ajanta/Ellora fresco style to the Tibetan thanka style. The antique thanka paintings also significantly represent the Buddhist periods and personalities, such as the Chaurasi siddhas and some of the legendary acharyas who taught Buddhist logic at Nalanda, Vikramshila and Odantapuri Mahaviharas. The art collection is with the Rahul Gallery at Patna Museum.

B: The second segment has the Narthang and Lhasa edi...

13:15

Cycling as a Womens Movement in Rural Tamil Nadu The Wire

There is freedom in cycling. We are not dependent on anyone now. I can never give this up.

The womens cycling movement in Pudukkottai is a powerful metaphor for freedom. Credit: P. Sainath

The womens cycling movement in Pudukkottai is a powerful metaphor for freedom. Credit: P. Sainath

Cycling as a social movement? Sounds far-fetched. Perhaps. But not all that far not to tens of thousands of neo-literate rural women in Pudukkottai district of Tamil Nadu. People find ways, sometimes curious ones, of hitting out at their backwardness, of expressing defiance, of hammering at the fetters that hold them.

In this, one of Indias poorest districts, cycling seems the chosen medium for rural women. During the past 18 months, over 100,000 rural women, most of them neo-literates, have taken to bicycling as a symbol of independence, freedom and mobility. If we exclude girls below ten years of age, it would mean that over one-fourth of all rural women in this district have learnt cycling. And over 70,000 of these women have taken part in public exhibition-cum-contests to proudly display their new skills. And still the training camps and desire to learn continue.

In the heart of rural Pudukkottai, young Muslim women from highly conservative backgrounds zip along the roads on their bicycles. Some seem to have abandoned the veil for the wheel. Jameela Bibi, a young Muslim girl who has taken to cycling, told me: Its my right. We can go anywhere. Now I dont have to wait for a bus. I know people made dirty remarks when I star...

13:00

Is Populism Democracys Deadly Cure? The Wire

Were not sure if the cure, the populist outsider, will work and make life better. but we are willing to experiment as the old certainties of representative politics wither.

 Is populism democracys deadly cure? September 21, 2017 12.14pm AEST Is populism a poison or a cure for democracy, or both, depending on the circumstances? Credit: Louis Boilly/Wikipedia Commons

Is populism a poison or a cure for democracy, or both, depending on the circumstances? Credit: Louis Boilly/Wikipedia Commons

It is impossible to follow the news without catching reference to the rise of populism. A once little-used term that denoted a handful of parties in otherwise unconnected political contexts, populism now seems almost definitive of a political moment in time.

It also elicits a wide range of responses from specialists. The most common reaction is a negative recoil against the emergence of forces that seem to threaten democracy. The emergence of far left and far right political forces seems redolent of the 1930s, and look where that left us.

On the other hand, there are influential figures who argue that there is nothing to be afraid of in populism. Far from it: populism represents an appeal to...

07:33

Barring Dr M from entering Sarawak would be a mortal sin Hornbill Unleashed

At long last, former premier and Pakatan Harapan chairperson Dr Mahathir Mohamad will be stepping onto Sarawak soil again. He is scheduled to speak at a Pakatan Harapan event in Kuching on Sept 24. Mahathirs visit this time is significant as he is visiting the Hornbill State for the first time as a leader of []

07:33

Abdul Karims knowledge in history lacking, says PH Sarawak man Hornbill Unleashed

Pakatan Harapan (PH) Sarawak publicity chief Vernon Kedit disagrees with Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah for saying: Most of Sarawaks rights enshrined under Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) were taken away when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was the prime minister. Perhaps, the minister is forgetful or perhaps he []

07:33

PKR rep grabbed from event and ejected from Sarawak Hornbill Unleashed

PKRs Kuala Sepetang state assemblywoman Chua Yee Ling was picked up at a dinner organised by Sarawak Pakatan Harapan (PH) in Miri tonight and directly deported back to Kuala Lumpur by the state Immigration officials. She left Miri Airport on a 9.30pm AirAsia flight, Sarawak PKR Youth deputy head Simon Siah told Malay Mail Online []

07:32

Outcome of London mission to be known at right time Hornbill Unleashed

The outcome of the fact-finding mission on Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) to London will be revealed at the right time. Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg assured that he would pursue his predecessor Tok Nans call that the Sarawaks right contained in MA63 would be given back to Sarawak. That is why I []

07:32

State to replace up to 260 dilapidated schools Hornbill Unleashed

The state government is going to replace between 250 and 260 dilapidated schools in Sarawak within two years. Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the construction of new schools is part of a special catch-up plan to improve the quality of education in Sarawak. He said the Ministry of Education, Science and []

07:32

Nurul cancels trip after Zuraida, Hee turned away Hornbill Unleashed

Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar has decided not to come here yesterday evening after National Women chief Zuraida Kamaruddin who is also Ampang MP and Petaling Jaya Selatan MP Hee Loy Sian were refused entry into the state when they arrived here from Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Nurul was scheduled to arrive at []

07:32

Most of Sarawaks rights eroded under Dr Ms era Karim Hornbill Unleashed

Most of Sarawaks rights enshrined under Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) were taken away when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was the prime minister. Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, in saying this, said it was good to see the former premier coming back to Sarawak and meet the people []

07:32

Sarawak CM says wont slam door on Dr M Hornbill Unleashed

Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is free to enter Sarawak, Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Openg said today. He said he will not stop the Pakatan Harapan chairman or other Opposition leaders from entering the state, and explained that only extremists such as Umnos Datuk Jamal Yunos and Perkasas Datuk Ibrahim Ali []

07:32

Abang Johari coy over Dr Ms entry into the state Hornbill Unleashed

The state government has yet to confirm if Pakatan Harapan chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad would be allowed into Sarawak today. The former prime minister is expected to speak during the opposition alliances event here tonight. Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg did not give a clear cut answer on whether the former []

07:32

Dr M will most likely be allowed to enter Sarawak Hornbill Unleashed

The state government will most likely allow Pakatan Harapan chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to enter Sarawak. The former Prime Minister is expected to attend and give a talk during the Pakatan Harapan Sarawak programme scheduled to be held at the Everrise supermarket carpark at BDC here tomorrow (Sunday) from 7pm to 10.30pm. It will []

07:32

Sarawak is hoping for over RM30 billion investment from China Hornbill Unleashed

Sarawak is hoping for over RM30 billion investment from China this year, with the single biggest investment the RM13 billion in the steel industry in Samalaju Industrial Park in Bintulu.Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said the state government has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with China-based company, Hebei Xinwuan []

07:31

Dont deny Sabahans, Sarawakians constitutional right to vote Hornbill Unleashed

A prominent former civil servant has thrown his support behind the call by Bersih 2.0 for the Election Commission (EC) to implement advanced voting for East Malaysian voters living in the peninsula and West Malaysians living in Sabah and Sarawak Ramon Navaratnam, who is chairman of the Asli Center of Public Policy Studies, said such []

07:31

Mahathir to address claims he eroded Sarawaks rights Hornbill Unleashed

Sarawak Pakatan Harapan (PH) has gone on the offensive against Barisan Nasional (BN), to deflect allegations that Dr Mahathir Mohamad was instrumental in eroding the states rights when he was prime minister, ahead of the PH chairmans visit to Kuching. Its publicity chief Vernon Kedit today accused Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), the largest component []

07:31

PKR Wanita chief says expelled by Sarawak Hornbill Unleashed

PKR Wanita head Zuraida Kamaruddin said she was denied entry into Sarawak today, hours after Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Openg vowed not to bar Opposition leaders from the state. Zuraida said she was detained at the Miri airport at about 2pm today, and failed to negotiate her way past Immigration officials. Ha3 I []

07:31

PKR rep evicted from Swak after Immigration, police gatecrash dinner Hornbill Unleashed

Kuala Sepetang assemblyperson Chua Yee Ling has been evicted from Sarawak. Chua was in Miri for a PKR dinner tonight, when Immigration and police officers gatecrashed the event held at the Eastwood Valley Golf & Country Club. Footage streamed from the Perak representatives Facebook page showed her being escorted out of the venue accompanied by the officers. []

07:31

Tian Chua: Barring opposition politicians from Sarawak ridiculous Hornbill Unleashed

PKR vice-president Tian Chua has blasted the Sarawak government for barring three of the partys lawmakers in Peninsular Malaysia from entering the state after they arrived there today. Describing the move as ridiculous and hysterical, he questioned the rationale for the prohibition, saying the trio Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin, Petaling Jaya Selatan MP Hee []

02:05

Western Propaganda in Southeast Asia a True Success Story New Eastern Outlook

7555444It is all done in a fully barefaced manner. Those who are not part of this world could never even dream about such a perfect design.

You come to your club, in my case to The Foreign Correspondent Club of Thailand (FCCT), and immediately the long arm of indoctrination begins stretching towards you.

You place yourself on a comfortable couch, and soon after get fully serviced. You get instructed, told what to think and how to formulate or modify your ideas.

You are periodically shown movies about corruption and immorality in China. You get encouraged to participate in some public discussions that are, among other things, trashing the anti-Western president of the Philippines.

Although lately also the Middle East, and particularly Syria, are brought into the spotlight.

Of course almost all that is on offer in such places like FCCT is the Western view, or concretely a set of Western views raging from conservative to liberal. The club is located in Asia, in the heart of Southeast Asia, but very few Asians are invited to speak here, except the few Thais who are well versed in the Western way of thinking. Or Western agents like the Dalai Lama, of course such individuals can come anytime they want! Forget about hearing from the other side youd never stumble here over speakers such as Communist thinkers or writers from Mainland China, or pro-Duterte academics or activists from the Philippines.

Most of the Thais who get spotted at the FCCT are actually those who provide support services for the Western gurus of mainstream media: interpreters, fixers, waiters and as well as some administrative support staff.

This is not a place for Asians to lecture Westerners about Asia; this is where Westerners tell Asians how to think in general, and what to think about their own countries in particular.

On the same floor as the FCCT, right down the narrow carpeted corridor, there are the offices of the BBC, the NBC and several other mainstream Western media outlets. The Penthouse of the Maneeya Center Building in Bangkok is actually a self-sufficient propaganda complex.

And tonight it is offering a free screening (free for us, members) of a U.S. documentary film called Salam Neighbor, about Jordans huge Zaatari refugee camp, which hosts approximately 80,000 refugees just a few miles away from the Syrian border.

On the FCCT flie...

00:04

Centre Considers Extra Spending of Rs 500 Billion to Halt Economic Slowdown The Wire

Growth slowed to a three-year low of 5.7% in the quarter that ended in June, and finance minister Arun Jaitley has said that the government is looking for ways to speed it up.

An India Rupee note is seen in this illustration photo June 1, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Thomas White/Illustration/Files

An India Rupee note is seen in this illustration photo June 1, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Thomas White/Illustration/Files

New Delhi: Indias government is considering a plan to loosen its fiscal deficit target to enable it to spend up to Rs 500 billion more to halt an economic slowdown, two government officials with direct knowledge of the plan said on Thursday.

Growth in Asias third-largest economy slowed to a three-year low of 5.7% in the quarter that ended in June, and finance minister Arun Jaitley said on Wednesday that the government was looking for ways to speed it up.

The officials, who declined to be named as the measures have not been made public y...

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Saturday, 23 September

23:45

Under Garb of Preservation, Chhattisgarh Is Denying Vulnerable Groups Their Reproductive Rights The Wire

As of May this year, people from Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups who want to be sterilised have to ask the sub-divisional magistrate for permission.

Women who underwent sterilisation surgery at a government mass sterilisation camp pose for pictures inside a hospital at Bilaspur district in Chhattisgarh November 14, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee

Women who underwent sterilisation surgery at a government mass sterilisation camp pose for pictures inside a hospital at Bilaspur district in Chhattisgarh November 14, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee

While on the one hand the government is pushing for a two-child norm, on the other it is forcibly precluding certain Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) in the country from accessing sterilisation services, thus transgressing their right...

23:30

Bihars Marhowra Plant Under Cloud as Piyush Goyal Prioritises Electric Locomotives The Wire

The Railways is now exploring various ways for General Electric, which was awarded the contract in 2015, to smoothly exit the Rs 2,000-crore project.

Construction underway at the Marhowra loco plant. Credit: Twitter/Shankar Dhar

Construction underway at the Marhowra loco plant. Credit: Twitter/Shankar Dhar

New Delhi: The Indian Railways much-trumpeted multi-crore Make in India programme in Bihar is facing curtains even before taking off.

In November 2015, the rail ministry, then headed by Suresh Prabhu, awarded a Rs 14,000-crore contract to US conglomerate General Electric to set up a diesel electric locomotive factory in Marhowra. Another plant at Madhepura, for modern electric locomotives, was awarded to French major Alstom.

At the time, in the run-up to the Bihar state elections, these projects were billed as the biggest FDI in the rail sector. Massive investments of around Rs 40,000 crore over the next five years were planned for the Bihar projects, according to statements issued by the ministry at the time....

23:01

Wide Angle, Episode 3: The Curious History of India-Pakistan Relations The Wire

Maya Mirchandani interviews Indias former high commissioner to Pakistan T.C.A. Raghavan about his new book The People Next Door: The Curious History of Indias Relations with Pakistan.

The post Wide Angle, Episode 3: The Curious History of India-Pakistan Relations appeared first on The Wire.

22:50

The Supreme Court was Right to Pierce the Jaypee Groups Corporate Veil The Wire

A recent and troubling editorial by The Economic Times shows how Jaypees defence against angry homebuyers looking for justice is often bought hook, line and sinker.

While Jaypee would be happy to have JIL fall into insolvency, letting them off the hook when it comes to stranded home buyers, the Supreme Court put a stop to it. Credit: Reuters

While Jaypee would be happy to have JIL fall into insolvency, letting them off the hook when it comes to stranded home buyers, the Supreme Court put a stop to it. Credit: Reuters

A recent editorial put out by The Economic Times (ET) headlined Jaypee Insolvency: Quite A Legal Mess made one sit up. What is jarring that the editorial takes several potshots at the Supreme Court, which in recent times has come to the rescue of over 30,000 hapless homebuyers.

The column begins with a matter-of-fact statement The Supreme Courts intervent...

22:31

Australia and U.S. Joined at the Hip: Wheres the Benefit? New Eastern Outlook

The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has on two recent occasions referred to Australia being joined at the hip to the United States on its defence and national security policies. That phrasing invited some critical commentary, but conspicuously, there was no demurral from the official Opposition Labor Party. To all practical intents and purposes the Liberal National Coalition and the Labor Party are indistinguishable on matters of defence, foreign policy and national security.

Turnbulls remarks, as with the election of the erratic and clearly unfit Donald Trump as US President, should have presented an opportunity for a critical reappraisal of Australias position viz a viz the United States. It did not happen, not least because a supine mainstream media sees no reason to question the fundamental assumptions underlying Australias defence policies since at least the fall of Singapore to the Japanese in January 1942.

Prior to that seminal event, Australia had never challenged its role as a colonial appendage to the British Empire. That status had led Australia into a series of wars, which in common with just about every other military misadventure before and since had only the vaguest connection with Australias national interest, if any.

Australian troops fought the Russians in the Crimean War of the 1850s (the rich irony of which is lost in the current propaganda war waged against Russia for its annexation of Crimea.) Australian troops were slaughtered in large numbers in World War 1, a war planned at least since the 1890s to counter any German challenge to British imperial supremacy (Docherty & Macgregor Hidden History, 2013)

Although Prime Minister Hughes refused a British request to formally join British forces fighting in the Russian civil war 1917-21 against the Bolsheviks, Australian troops nonetheless joined the North Russia campaign as volunteers. A Royal Australian Destroyer HMAS Swan also undertook intelligence operations in the Black Sea in late 1918 directed against the Bolshevik forces.

With the rout of the British forces in 1941-42 by the Japanese, it was obvious to Australian politicians that a new protector was needed, and the Americans required no encouragement to assume that role. The marriage of convenience that occurred in 1942-45 may have suited Australia in its perception of an imminent Japanese invasion, but then, as now, the brides dowry should have been scrutinized more closely.

A relentless propaganda...

21:50

Failed Kings, Naive Boatmen and Other Ancient Tales From the Republic of Kashi The Wire

Recalling the iconoclasm of Varanasis ordinary citizens, the wisdom of its scholars and the dreams of its failed kings who sought to make an empire of a republic.

Ascetic. Credit: Aakash Gautam/Flickr CC-BY-NC 2.0

Death, writes Walter Benjamin, is the sanction of everything that the story teller can tell.

No city in India has more to do with death than Kashi, the city of Manikarnika Ghat, of whom it is said the day its perennial pyres go out, the world will end.

For story lovers in our time, here are some gathas a few-thousand-years-old but amazingly contemporary in spirit from the Buddhist jatakas, Jain prabandhas and Vedic scriptures about the Republic of Kashi, the iconoclasm of its ordinary citizens, the wisdom of its scholars, its false swamis, and failed kings who dreamed of making an empire of a republic.

The crows of Varanasi

The crows of Varanasi were a well-fed lot. All pilgrims those who came here to cremate their dead and also those who came to bathe in the holy Ganges offered the crows balls of rice, sesame and ghee, in the name of their ancestors. The gentle, kind-hearted Buddhist and Jain monks who wandered the city also fed the crows tidbits out of their begging bowls. Then came a terrible famine. Free meals even for crows became rare as the priests and pilgrims, the Jain and Buddhist monks and nuns fled the city. So the crows of Kashi held a quick conclave. It was resolved that till such time as the situation improved, the crows would fly west to a coastal town by the sea where their sister, married to a water bird liv...

21:47

Despite Regional Fears, Kurds Press Historic Independence Vote The Wire

Kurds celebrate to show their support for the upcoming September 25th independence referendum in Erbil, Iraq September 22, 2017. Credit: Reuters

Kurds celebrate to show their support for the upcoming September 25th independence referendum in Erbil, Iraq September 22, 2017. Credit: Reuters

Erbil, Iraq: Iraqi Kurds are expected to vote for independence in a referendum on Monday that neighbouring countries and Western powers fear could break up the country and stir broader regional ethnic and sectarian conflict.

Kurdish flags a red, white and green tricolour emblazoned with a golden sun adorn cars and buildings across the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, and billboards announce: The time is now say yes to a free Kurdistan!

Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish region since 2005, has resisted calls by the UN, the US and Britain to delay the referendum. Neighbourin...

21:46

UN Secretary General Guterres Asked by Half of Security Council to Publicly Brief on Myanmar The Wire

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, US., September 19, 2017. Credit: Reuters

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres addresses the 72nd UN General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, US., September 19, 2017. Credit: Reuters

UN: Seven members of the UN Security Council, including the US and Britain, on Friday asked UN chief Antonio Guterres to publicly brief the 15-member body next week on the violence in Myanmar that he has described as ethnic cleansing.

Sweden, the US, Britain, France, Egypt, Senegal, and Kazakhstan want Ethiopia, president of the council for September, to arrange the briefing for next week, according to the request seen by Reuters.

More than 422,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar since August 25, when attacks by Rohingya militants triggered a military cr...

21:45

Uber CEO Tweets Pls Work W/Us as Uber Deemed Unfit and Stripped of London License The Wire

A photo illustration shows the Uber app on a mobile telephone, as it is held up for a posed photograph in central London, Britain September 22, 2017. Credit: Reuters

A photo illustration shows the Uber app on a mobile telephone, as it is held up for a posed photograph in central London, Britain September 22, 2017. Credit: Reuters

London: London deemed Uber unfit to run a taxi service on Friday and stripped it of its licence to operate from the end of next week in a major blow to the U.S. firm and 3.5 million users in one of the worlds wealthiest cities.

In a break with the startups usual combative tone, Ubers new Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi asked London to please work with the ride service. He told employees the company needed to act with integrity but that he did not believe Uber had done everything it was accused of in London.

Uber, which has 40,000 drivers working in the capital, also said it would contest the deci...

21:44

Russian Hackers Targeted Wisconsin, Ohio, California in 2016 US Presidential Race The Wire

 A voter arrives to cast their ballot in the Wisconsin presidential primary election at a voting station in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S. on April 5, 2016. Credit: Reuters

A voter arrives to cast their ballot in the Wisconsin presidential primary election at a voting station in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S. on April 5, 2016. Credit: Reuters

Washington: Wisconsin, Ohio, California and ten other states said on Friday they were among 21 states that Russian government hackers targeted in an effort to sway the 2016 presidential election in favor of Donald Trump though no votes were changed.

The Department of Homeland Security confirmed it had notified the states of the activity but declined to identify them. Russia has denied election meddling, and President Trump has denied any collusion with Russia.

...

21:37

Journalists Cry Foul After Police Summons in Fake Facebook Profile Investigation The Wire

Those summoned allege they are being targeted for their political views but the Maharashtra police insists they have been called only as witnesses.

The Mumbai police has reportedly summoned over 20 journalists and activists for questioning. Credit: Reuters

The Mumbai police has reportedly summoned over 20 journalists and activists for questioning. Credit: Reuters

Mumbai: A two-month-old cyber crime case has now taken a political turn after the Mumbai crime branch reportedly issued over 20 notices to journalists and activists across Maharashtra, asking them to appear before it for an inquiry. While police officials claimed the journalists were summoned only as witnesses, images and messages circulated widely on social media platforms on Friday claimed that the police have especially targeted those who have been critical of the state government. 

A cyber crime case was registered in June by Nidhi Kamdar, an officer on special duty (OSD) with chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, after her fake profile was allegedly created on Facebook. One Mahadev Balgude, 31, a Baramati resident was arrested on August 19 in this case. According to Kamdars complaint, Balgude, who operated a Facebook profile using the fake identity Dev Gaikwad, had created another account in Kamdars name. Balgude had allegedly faked some conversation between these two fake profiles, where he discussed money deals, referring to them being initiated at the...

21:04

Mid-Way Through Karwan-e-Mohabbat, Harsh Mander Gets Income Tax Notice The Wire

Days after a threat from an RSS ideologue, the IT department rectifies its earlier assessment and orders a fresh complete scrutiny.

Harsh Mander sits in dharna near where Pehlu Khan was lynched in Behror, Rajasthan, during the Karwan-e-Mohabbat. Credit: Twitter/Karwan-e-Mohabbat

Harsh Mander sits in dharna near where Pehlu Khan was lynched in Behror, Rajasthan, during the Karwan-e-Mohabbat. Credit: Twitter/Karwan-e-Mohabbat

In a press note issued on Saturday, the noted human rights activist and former IAS officer has questioned the timing of an income tax notice to the Centre for Equity Studies, a think-tank that he helps run, and asked whether it is being targeted because of the work Harsh Mander and others are doing to show solidarity with the victims of communal violence across India.

The press note is published below in its entirety.

A number of independent individuals, organisations and social movements collaborated to take out through many parts of the country a Karwan-e-Mohabbat, as a journey of atonement, solidarity, healing, conscience and justice with people living with hate violence. This was an entirely crowd funded Karwan, and the funds for this were received by Aman Biradari Trust, which does not have an FCRA.

On September 15, 2017, the Karwan was scheduled to stop at Behror at the site at which Pehlu Khan had been lynched, to pay tribute to his memory by placing a few flowers there. But a day before this, the Hindu Jag...

20:45

Police State Repression in Catalonia Strategic Culture Foundation

Catalonia is an autonomous community in Spains northeast, bordering France and the Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona its capital and largest city.

20:15

Russia Unveils T-72B3 at Zapad-2017 Exercise Strategic Culture Foundation

The Russian T-72B3 tanks have been tested during Zapad 2017 Russian-Belarussian strategic exercise. This is the first time the tanks were tested in a large-scale training event. The first batch of 20 upgraded vehicles entered service with the Western Military District of the Russian Army in February.

20:03

Not Doing Away With Hot Meals For Children Under ICDS, Centre Clarifies The Wire

This comes after Maneka Gandhi recently said the government was considering moving from food transfers to cash transfers.

Under the National Food Security Act, children between the ages of three and six are provided with hot cooked meals at anganwadi centres. Representative image credit: Reuters

Under the National Food Security Act, children between the ages of three and six are provided with hot cooked meals at anganwadi centres. Representative image credit: Reuters

New Delhi: The Ministry of Women and Child Development has said there is no plan of replacing hot cooked meals, which the government currently provides to children between the ages of three and six years, by either uncooked food such as nutrient packets, ready-to-cook food or cash.

There has been a lot of discussion on this. But there is no plan to remove hot cooked meals. It is a part of the National Food Security Act, said women and child development ministry secretary Rakesh Srivastava. The role of anganwadis in cooking hot meals for children and women is specified in Section 5 and 6 of the Act. The central ministry provides only guidelines to the states. But states cannot violate the Act. If they do, they can be taken to court, he said.

This clarification follows reports that the government was in fact moving towards this. The indications on this came from...

19:45

Straws in the Wind for a Reset in US-Russian Relations Strategic Culture Foundation

The receding specters of a war involving North Korea and a US-Russia confrontation in Syria. The sound of cracking ice in the frozen conflict in Ukraine. Russia and the United States bidding farewell to tits-for-tat. Is this the dawn of a brave new world?

19:19

Syrian Opposition Activist and Her Journalist Daughter Found Dead in Istanbul The Wire

Orouba Barakat, an opponent of the ruling Baath party, and her only child, journalist Halla Barakat, were found dead with stab wounds to their neck.

Orouba Barakat and Halla Barakat were prominent activists against Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad. Credit: Screengrab from social media

Orouba Barakat and Halla Barakat were prominent activists against Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad. Credit: Screengrab from social media

A senior Syrian opposition activist and her daughter were found dead in their apartment in Istanbul.

Orouba Barakat, an opponent of the ruling Baath party since the 1980s, and her only child, journalist Halla Barakat, were found dead in the early hours of this morning with stab wounds to their necks.

Friends raised the alarm after being unable to reach them by telephone. Turkish police then arrived at their apartment in the Uskudar district on the Asian side of Istanbul to find them dead.

...

19:15

People Ignore Facts That Contradict Their False Beliefs Strategic Culture Foundation

The more people there are who ignore facts that contradict their beliefs, the likelier a dictatorship will emerge within a given country. Here is how aristocracies, throughout the Ages, have controlled the masses, by taking advantage of this widespread tendency people have, to ignore contrary facts...

18:51

How Long Will India Run After Optics, Rather Than True Freedom For All Its People? The Wire

The structures of power that surround the marginalised require them at every step to prove their legitimacy, self worth and even their right to exist.

Vikas Patil and his wife are expected to produce 1,000 bricks a day for which they are credited Rs 600, adjusted against their debt. Representative image credit: Reuters/Jayanta Dey

Vikas Patil and his wife are expected to produce 1,000 bricks a day for which they are credited Rs 600, adjusted against their debt. Representative image credit: Reuters/Jayanta Dey

Apart from its fiery masalas and its functional chappals, Kolhapur evokes images of prosperous sugar farmers and an economy known for its record-setting purchases of Mercedes cars. This is a different Kolhapur.

Vilas Patil lives in Karandewadi, in the Karveer taluka of Kolhapur district. He has three acres of rainfed land, not all of which is cultivable. Even of the good land, he manages to plant only on a portion because he can no longer afford the inputs. In a good monsoon, the land provides rice and ragi enough to feed his family for a part of the year. There is never any surplus to sell in the market. Patil makes ends meet in the employment of a brick merchant. He is bonded by his debt to this brick merchant for many years now. His financial year begins with the sowing season, when the merchant lends him the money to sow his crops. The most recent instalment of this loan was...

18:12

Echoes of WWI: China, the US, and the Next Great War The Corbett Report

In the early 20th century, the worlds dominant superpower looked warily on the rise of a competitor to its supremacy. The machinations of the British to contain the rise of Germany led inexorably to the First World War. Once again in the early 21st century, the worlds dominant superpower is looking warily on the rise of a competitor. Will the American Empires machinations to contain the rise of China lead to the Third World War? Or is the American/Chinese conflict another engineered conflict for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many? Join James Corbett as he presents "Echoes of World War I" to the Open Mind Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

18:00

Rohingya in Kashmir Fear for Their Families Back Home While Worrying About Deportation The Wire

Rohingya families who were living in Jammu have moved to Khimber in Kashmir, fearing violence against them.

The buildings in Khimber where Rohingya families are living. Credit: Mudasir Ahmed

The buildings in Khimber where Rohingya families are living. Credit: Mudasir Ahmed

Khimber (Jammu and Kashmir): Hassan Sheikh struggled to control his emotions as he talked about the sufferings and harassment faced by Rohingya Muslims in Jammu.

We were given a ten days ultimatum to leave Jammu earlier this month, Sheikh told The Wire. Then, he said, the police raided their shanties in the Bathinda area one evening and whisked away several men on frivolous charges.

...

17:09

Asima Chatterjee, the Scientist Who Did So Much More in a Time of Less The Wire

Let us remember Asima Chatterjee as a world-class chemist in a time when science was a lot less comfortable to do and involved a lot more of getting your hands dirty than it does today.

Asima Chatterjee in 1961. Credit: The Indian Scientists, CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Asima Chatterjee in 1961. Credit: The Indian Scientists, CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Indias most prestigious science award, the annual Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize, was first given in 1958, but it was only in 1960 that its chemical sciences category was introduced. And it just took one year for the prize to go to its first female recipient, Asima Chatterjee, for her achievements in phytomedicine the study of plant extracts for therapy. It was a long wait, about 14 years, before another woman would be awarded the same prize, and an astounding 48 years before a woman would win it for the chemical sciences category again.

As much as the many barriers she broke should be celebrated, Chatterjee was a scientist and the best way of honouring her is to honour her science.

As Asish De has elucidated, being a natural products chemist in those days was no joke. While for centuries plants have been used for their medicinal properties, the biological mechanisms u...

17:00

SC Tells Medical College to Accept Students With Colour Vision Deficiency The Wire

The Medical Council of India as well as the college in question had objected to the admission.

The Supreme Court bench invoked its powers under Article 142 of the constitution. Credit: PTI

The Supreme Court bench invoked its powers under Article 142 of the constitution. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: A Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Amitava Roy and A.M. Khanwilkar has directed that two students suffering from congenital colour vision deficiency (CCVD) be admitted to the MBBS course run by the Tripura Medical College and Dr.B.R. Ambedkar Memorial Teaching Hospital, West Tripura, for the academic year 2018-19, reducing the quota from the year by two seats.

The students, Pranay Kumar Poddar and Sagar Bhowmik, had secured 112 and 140 ranks respectively in the all India entrance test conducted by the Tripura government in the pre-NEET era. Both the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the college had objected to their admission now, as they had not cleared the NEET. The Supreme  Court, however, overruled their objections, saying they need not clear the NEET test to secure their admissions, in view of their ranks earlier.

The bench issued its order on September 12, despite serious objections from the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the college, by invoking its powers under Article 142 of the...

16:29

Damascus Making Progress in the Fight Against DAESH New Eastern Outlook

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From September 14 to September 15, Astana held its sixth round of talks on Syria, in which the delegations of the guarantor countries Russia, Turkey and Iran, the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic and the Syrian opposition, as well as the UN Secretary General Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, took part. The United States and Jordan were present as observers.

Following the outcome of the meeting, Russia, Turkey and Iran adopted a Joint Statement and four documents on deescalation zones: the mandate on deployment in the deescalation zones, rules of engagement of military forces, the procedure for managing checkpoints, and the provision for a joint coordinating center. The guarantor countries announced the establishment of four deescalation zones in Syria: in eastern Ghouta near Damascus, in the northern part of the Homs province, in the province of Idlib and in certain parts of the neighboring provinces of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo, as well as in some areas in southern Syria. These are intended to be a temporary measure with an initial validity of six months. A joint Iran-Russian-Turkish coordination centre is being established to coordinate the activities of the control forces in the deescalation zones.

Three of the four zones are currently operational: in the south-west of Syria, in eastern Ghouta and in the Homs area. The participants of the Astana talks stated that the establishment of deescalation zones shall not undermine the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic. At the same time, the guarantor countries have not yet agreed on the distribution of control forces in the deescalation zone in Idlib.

The Syrian government and the opposition are in favor of the establishment of four deescalation zones. President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoan, has noted that Ankara and Moscow have no quarrel over the situation in Syria, nor did they have any disagreements in Astana during the meeting with Iran. However, since September 18, Turkey has been concentrating its forces on the border with the SAR in the Idlib region, sending military contingents that already amount to close to 8,000 service-persons. This included the support of artillery, armored vehicles and helicopters.

According to the Russian and Turkish parts of the representative office of the Russian-Turkish joint commission on the review of issues related to violations of the Single Ceasefire Agreement,...

16:19

In Bid to Unlock Brexit Talks, Theresa May Sets out Transition Plan The Wire

Mays proposals for such a transition, for meeting Britains financial obligations and for protecting EU citizens rights, fell short of what the EU wanted.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at the Complesso Santa Maria Novella, Florence, Italy September 22, 2017. Credit: Reuters

Britains Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at the Complesso Santa Maria Novella, Florence, Italy September 22, 2017. Credit: Reuters

Florence: Prime Minister Theresa May set out a plan on Friday to retain full access to the EUs single market for two years after Brexit to try to reassure business and reset the tone of stalled negotiations with Brussels.

But her proposals for such a transition, for meeting Britains financial obligations and for protecting EU citizens rights, fell short of what the EU wanted.

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier praised the speech for its constructive spirit but asked for more detail. Another official said it had left him even more concerned.

I...

16:16

Pakistan Anti-Graft Body Freezes Bank Accounts of Nawaz Sharif, Family The Wire

The National Accountability Bureau has already frozen the properties of former finance minister Ishaq Dar for having assets beyond his known sources of income.

Nawaz Sharif. Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

Nawaz Sharif. Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

Lahore: Ousted Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday (September 22) suffered a major setback after the countrys anti-graft body froze the bank accounts and seized properties belonging to him and his family members facing corruption and money laundering charges in the Panama Papers scandal.

Nawaz, 67, stepped down after the Supreme Court disqualified him on July 28 from continuing in his office for dishonesty and ruled that corruption cases be filed against him and his children.

The Accountability Court in Islamabad, which is hearing the corruption cases against the Sharif family, on Friday summoned Sharif, his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Captain (retd) Safdar to appear before it on September 26.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) pasted the summonses and property attachment notices on the Sharifs residence in Raiwind on the outskirts of Lahore.

Sharif, along with his children, is in London to be with his ailing wife Kulsoom Sharif, who is undergoing treatment for throat cancer.

There is speculation in the Pakistani media that the Sharif family may not return to face the NAB corruption cases.

The ruling PML-N party, however, insists that Nawaz would return once his wifes health improves.

We have written to the State Bank of Pakistan (...

15:25

India Using Chilli Spray, Stun Grenades to Stop Rohingya from Entering Country The Wire

Border forces have been authorised to use rude and crude methods to stop any attempts by the Rohingya to cross the India-Bangladesh border.

Rohingya refugees walk on a muddy path after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, in Teknaf, Bangladesh, September 6, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Danish Siddiqui/File photo

Rohingya refugees walk on a muddy path after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border, in Teknaf, Bangladesh, September 6, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Danish Siddiqui/File photo

New Delhi: India has stepped up security along its largely porous eastern border with Bangladesh and is using chilli and stun grenades to block the entry of Rohingya Muslims fleeing from violence in their homeland of Myanmar, officials said on Friday.

Border forces in India, which wants to deport around 40,000 Rohingya already living in the country, citing security risks, have been authorised to use rude and crude methods to stop any attempts by...

14:57

Banaras Hindu University Students Protest Administrations Alleged Victim Blaming The Wire

The chief proctor reportedly told students to keep quiet until the prime ministers two-day visit to Varanasi, beginning the day of the protest, was over.

Students protesting at the Banaras Hindu University gate on Friday. Credit: Facebook/Siddhant Mohan

Students protesting at the Banaras Hindu University gate on Friday. Credit: Facebook/Siddhant Mohan

New Delhi: Students from Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Varanasi held a large protest on Friday (September 22) against the university administrations alleged victim shaming after one of them reported an incident of molestation,

A first-year student, who lives in the university hostel, was allegedly molested and grabbed by three bike-borne men just outside the BHU campus at around 6:20 pm on Thursday evening. However, according to students, when she yelled for help, the university guards ignored her. She then went inside to report the matter to her warden and the chief proctor, but they too were less than sympathetic, students say.

When the student was molested last evening at 6, she shouted for help but the guards sitting there did not come forward or chase the bike. She went and complained to her warden and the chief proctor but they began shaming her. They asked her why she was out so late. They told students that the hostel curfew timings will be shifted from 7 pm to 6 pm, a female student at the protest...

14:14

States Under Obligation to Pay Compensation to Victims of Cow Vigilantism, Says SC The Wire

The apex court has also asked states to submit compliance reports based on its previous order on appointing district nodal officers to curb cow-related mob violence.

Television journalists are seen outside the premises of the Supreme Court in New Delhi, India August 22, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Adnan Abidi

Television journalists are seen outside the premises of the Supreme Court in New Delhi, India August 22, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Adnan Abidi

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Saturday (September 22) asked the chief Secretaries of 22 states to file compliance reports in pursuance of its order on September 6 laying down a mechanism to sternly deal with cow vigilante groups, saying nobody can wash off their hands.

The bench added that states were under an obligation to pay compensation to victims of vigilante action, without the need for any judicial order. We do not have to say that. All states are under an obligation to compensate victims of cow vigilante violence. At the same time, law and order has to have primacy and anyone violating it must be dealt with sternly,...

14:00

Are Saffron Groups Bringing Mob Rule to One of Indias Last Peaceful States? The Wire

Incidents of religious violence have been on the rise in Uttarakhand since the BJP came to power earlier this year.

A pre-election BJP rally in Uttarakhand. Credit: Twitter/Uttarakhand BJP

A pre-election BJP rally in Uttarakhand. Credit: Twitter/Uttarakhand BJP

On the night of September 8, police in Dehradun, Uttarakhand, picked up two boys and two girls from a central part in the city a little after midnight. The boys were Muslims, the girls Hindus. All four were from Kirtinagar, a town in the Tehri Garhwal district. At the station, the police were informed by the Kirtinagar police that the girls had been reported missing. The girls were returned to Kirtinagar and the boys arrested, though it isnt clear what they were charged with.

According to a report in Amar Ujala, the next day, unnamed Hindu organisations attacked and broke the shops owned by the boys families in Kirtinagar. The report quotes local traders saying they had no involvement in the attack on the shops, and that those who did so were brought in from outside. The police are now deployed in the town and the circle officer has announced that he will be remaining there for the near future.

Since the BJP came to power in Uttarakhand in March, incidents like this are being reported continuously fr...

14:00

The Rise and Rise of Angela Merkel, or How to Succeed in German Politics The Wire

Few thought shed go the distance when she first came to power. That was more than a decade ago.

...

13:45

Pot-Pilgrims and Gods of Himalayan Things The Wire

With tourism to Parvati Valley on the rise, local communities struggle to cope with the pressures of the new consumerist society.

Parbati valley

The devta puja at Tosh (left), tourists from Europe and Israel flock to the valley (right). Credit: Sumit Mahar

The village square is bustling with activity. Women are seated along the stone wall boundary of the exquisitely wood carved temple. In the centre is a huddle of local men, and emerging from it is a golden umbrella, under it a wooden bust of the local devta or deity, sitting on a palanquin resting on the shoulders of two men. As the sounds of drum beats and gigantic shehnais fill the air, the palanquins dolled up in fineries, sway gently from side to side. Two more palanquins join in and together head to the sacred forest. The deities, whose receptacles these palanquins are, belong to three adjacent villages in Kullus quaint Parvati Valley Tosh, Barsheini and Tahuk. The congregation of gods has been organised in Tosh, tucked away at almost the end of the valley, to seek blessings, and appease the gods who might have been angered or disappointed by the wrongdoings of the community. When tragedy befalls a family or the entire village, the devtas are called upon, to guide the collective conscience of the community.

13:30

The Warming Climate Has Triggered Changes in Kodiak Bears Diets. Heres Why Thats Important The Wire

Climate change is making berries ripen early in Kodiak, Alaska, luring bears away from eating salmon. This shift may not hurt the bears, but could have far-reaching impacts on surrounding forests.

A brown bear snags a sockeye salmon in Alaska. In warm years, red elderberries ripen early and Kodiak bears leave streams full of salmon to eat them. Credit:Jonathan Armstrong, CC BY-ND

A brown bear snags a sockeye salmon in Alaska. In warm years, red elderberries ripen early and Kodiak bears leave streams full of salmon to eat them. Credit:Jonathan Armstrong, CC BY-ND

After several years of studying brown bear ecology on Alaskas Kodiak Island, I grew used to walking up streams into scenes of carnage. Where bears had killed and eaten spawning sockeye salmon, stream beds were littered with fish heads, jaws and whole carcasses, and plants on the stream banks were flattened. But at the peak of the stream spawning run in 2014, I was puzzled to find no bears or salmon parts. Salmon were dying naturally after spawning and piling up in streams, intact.

Ive spent the last three years trying to solve this ecological puzzle. After extensive field and lab work along with researchers from Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge, Flathead Lake Biological Station and Oregon State University, we arrived at a fascinating conclusion.

In warm years, another favourite bear food red elderberries ripened early enough to overlap with the salmon season. This forced bears to choose between the foods. Surprisingly, almost all bears opted for berries over salmon. This choice has likely altered food webs, and will become increasingly common with expected climate warming.

Our team was struck by the bears seemingly counterintuitive switch. Why would bears stop eating a high-protein food loaded with energy? Quickly, though, we realized that our work was an example of a more global concern: What happens when climate change alters natures schedule?

13:30

The Ghost of Demonetisation Still Haunts Marathwadas Farmers The Wire

The cashless future that demonetisation promised never came, and many in rural Marathwada scoff at the idea.

Farmers say the push towards a cashless economy is city-centric, ignoring the majority living in the villages. Credit: Shrirang Swarge/PARI

Farmers say the push towards a cashless economy is city-centric, ignoring the majority living in the villages. Credit: Shrirang Swarge/PARI

Aurangabad: Ten months after currency notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 were scrapped on November 8 last year, the ghost of demonetisation continues to haunt Deepak Badavne.

In early November, Badavne had harvested 31 quintals of cotton from his 2.5 acre farm. He expected good returns on it. The trader arranged for the truck and loaded the cotton from my house, he says. But just then, the demonetisation-induced cash crunch hit the farm sector. The payment for Deepaks cotton didnt materialise. The trader is now saying he will pay by Diwali [by mid-October 2017], he says.

The trader owes Badavne Rs 178,483 for his cotton yield. A cheque he received for this amount on March 24 bounced thrice.  I am not the only one, says Deepak, 31, sitting under a tree in Karajgaon village on the outskirts of Aurangabad city in Marathwada, Maharashtra. There are others in my village who have been similarly duped.

Badavne, who lives in a joint family and has two children, has gath...

13:00

India Needs a Credible Deterrence Strategy for Cyberspace The Wire

Indias cyber capabilities and intent to act on them are enough to outscore potential political victories they may secure by successfully mounting a cyber attack or unwarranted border provocation. 

To date, there is no national level organisation in the Indian military which is tasked with cyber defence. Credit: Reuters

To date, there is no national level organisation in the Indian military which is tasked with cyber defence. Credit: Reuters

Cyber warfare no longer remains a figment of science fiction but a proximate reality that states need to grapple with when framing geo-strategic policy. The quagmire lies in reigning in the use of this sphere, which has rapidly proliferated into becoming an essential part of human existence today. The main barrier to cohesive normative regulation has been posed first, by its global ubiquity, which has prevented the development of universal consensus from states with differing economic and political ambitions and second by its inherent nature, as a non-physical conception, which has made the task of applying traditional principles of international law a challenge.

The failure of the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts (UN-GGE) earlier this year to agree upon a universal set of norms to govern the use of cyberspace is therefore, disappointing, given the initial progress made by the same body in recent y...

13:00

Heres a New Word for That Feeling When Travel Makes Everything New The Wire

A tourist generally has an eye for the things that, through repetitive familiarity, have become almost invisible to the resident.

A road in Connemara. Credit: Flickr

A road in Connemara. Credit: Flickr/CC BY 2.0

On a double-decker bus from Dublin airport to Drumcondra early one June morning, a young lad stretched out on the back seat and started to rap. What he lacked in talent he made up for in gusto. I was with a dozen of my students who were travelling from DePaul University in Chicago on a study abroad trip and this was their very first impression of Ireland. I cringed and tried to ignore the atonal reveller. Their response, it turned out, was at odds with mine. Thats American rap! one of them chortled. Why is he rapping Kendrick? The oddity of the situation entertained them, and they discussed it with a fervour typically reserved for matters of greater significance.

One thing Ive noticed over the years of bringing my students to Ireland my homeland is that they pay rapt attention to the little things. This heightened and delighted attention to the ordinary, which manifests in someone new to a place, does not seem to have a name. So I have given it one: allokataplixis (from the Greek allo meaning other, and katapliktikomeaning wonder). In Modern Greek katapliktiko and the related wordkatataplixie can be used to register astonishment. Admittedly, in Ancient Greek the family of words surrounding kataplxis sometimes signified terror and panic. It is, however, the note of pure amazement and fascination present i...

07:53

Fact Check: Updating Cold War Myths About Thailand Land Destroyer

September 23, 2017 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - Many honest, busy analysts outside established media circles in the United States and Europe are plagued by mythologies stemming from once pseudo-truths they simply lack the time or energy to dig into and finally correct.


Among them are enduring myths about the Southeast Asian state of Thailand and its relationship with the United States. These myths stem from its role during the Vietnam War and are now not only outdated, they are destructive to the truth to a point where they aid rather than impede the very special interests upon Wall Street and in Washington many of these analysts seek to expose and confront.

US-Thai Relations During the Vietnam War  

During the Vietnam War, Thailand hosted US forces on its territory. It contributed a number of its own troops in supporting roles throughout Southeast Asia and conducted its own military campaign domestically against heavily armed Communist militants. It is easy to conclude that Thailand was an eager ally then, and easy to see why many analysts assume this is still the case today.

However, in reality, the history of Thailand is of the only nation in Southeast Asia to avoid Western colonisation. It is also the story of a nation that survived the World Wars by expertly aligning itself amid greater powers, neither significantly contributing to nor suffering from contests of powers between more powerful nations.

During the Second World War, Thailand tenuously aligned with the Japanese. It played no significant role in a war the Japanese ultimately lost. Upon Japan's defeat, Thailand would once again balance its relationships evenly among its Asian neighbours and the Western victors of the war.

The Vietnam War was likewise a regional war started by foreign powers. It devastated not only Vietnam itself, but neighbouring Laos and Cambodia as well. Despite escaping the worst of the fighting, Thailand lost over a thousand soldiers and police amid security operations within its own borders. It fought allegedly Communist fighters, based primarily in Udon Thani, coincidentally where the US maintained its intelligence appa...

07:53

Fact Check: Updating Cold War Myths About Thailand Alt Thai News Network ATNN

September 23, 2017 (Joseph Thomas - NEO) - Many honest, busy analysts outside established media circles in the United States and Europe are plagued by mythologies stemming from once pseudo-truths they simply lack the time or energy to dig into and finally correct.


Among them are enduring myths about the Southeast Asian state of Thailand and its relationship with the United States. These myths stem from its role during the Vietnam War and are now not only outdated, they are destructive to the truth to a point where they aid rather than impede the very special interests upon Wall Street and in Washington many of these analysts seek to expose and confront.

US-Thai Relations During the Vietnam War  

During the Vietnam War, Thailand hosted US forces on its territory. It contributed a number of its own troops in supporting roles throughout Southeast Asia and conducted its own military campaign domestically against heavily armed Communist militants. It is easy to conclude that Thailand was an eager ally then, and easy to see why many analysts assume this is still the case today.

However, in reality, the history of Thailand is of the only nation in Southeast Asia to avoid Western colonisation. It is also the story of a nation that survived the World Wars by expertly aligning itself amid greater powers, neither significantly contributing to nor suffering from contests of powers between more powerful nations.

During the Second World War, Thailand tenuously aligned with the Japanese. It played no significant role in a war the Japanese ultimately lost. Upon Japan's defeat, Thailand would once again balance its relationships evenly among its Asian neighbours and the Western victors of the war.

The Vietnam War was likewise a regional war started by foreign powers. It devastated not only Vietnam itself, but neighbouring Laos and Cambodia as well. Despite escaping the worst of the fighting, Thailand lost over a thousand soldiers and police amid security operations within its own borders. It fought allegedly Communist fighters, based primarily in Udon Thani, coincidentally where the US maintained its intelligence...

01:18

The Deadly Rocket Scare Redux: North Koreas Role in the Arms Game New Eastern Outlook

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North Korea is once again the big, bad, boogey man of Asia, a convenient villain Washington will use to fuel a spanking new arms race. If all-out war does not follow Donald Trumps insane policies aimed at Pyongyang, something miraculous will have to take place soon. The American hegemony turns once again to the Far East, in a redux of the 2000 North Korean sanctions negotiations.

Ill wager that very few people reading this remember the 1999 missile tests over Japan that North Korea used to negotiate sanctions reductions. Yes, its true and not fake news, as the New York Times reported from 2000, South Korea Plans to Begin Rocket Program. What, you expected ingenuity and creativity from the Trump administration and the US Congress? Not a chance of that, I say. The elites that run the globalist narrative never divert from what works, I tell you. If young and old Americans were fearful Japan would go up in a mushroom cloud in 1999, then the new generation of willing idiots are all the more capable of apathetic abandon. Trump and Co. are just doing Korea or Vietnam II, since those ventures proved financially profitable for the military industrialists and the economy overall. Do you feel like youve been duped yet? Okay, read on.

Once again, the New York Times is the soap box from which the hegemons preach to the waiting and fearful masses about the Pyongyang boogeyman, only this time its Kim Jong-un, and not his venerable supreme leader father Kim Jong-il whos center stage in the Armageddon drama. But the headlines this time around are far more creative. A story this week entitled The Rare, Potent Fuel Powering North Koreas Weapons, brings to mind 007 and James Bond, super-duper-secret rockets from Dr. No or Austin Powers as Dr. Evil, I can no longer discern. Once again American journalists take advantage of the fact most people dont know beans about much of anything anymore. Let me frame the latest bullshit from Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Juniors venerable newspaper. The rare and potent fuel it took not one but two award winning journalists to invent is known as UDMH, or Unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine. Now I am fairly sure that William J. Broad and David E. Sanger both know UDMH is about as rare in the world of rockets as pointy nose cones or ignition sequences. But the North Koreans and the story sound much more ominous and deadly with spy thriller lingo deployed. Just so you know Im not slinging BS, the rare and poten...

00:11

SC Opens Door For Legal Challenges to Appointments Lacking Proper Credentials in Pollution Boards The Wire

The court has set aside an NGT order on the matter saying the tribunal doesnt have jurisdiction, but made it clear that future legal challenges are welcome.

A chimney is reflected in a puddle polluted with chemicals at an industrial area of Surat November 25, 2009. Credit: Reuters/Arko Datta/Files

A chimney is reflected in a puddle polluted with chemicals at an industrial area of Surat November 25, 2009. Credit: Reuters/Arko Datta/Files

New Delhi: In a significant judgment, the Supreme Court bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta today set aside the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order directing state governments to reconsider appointments to the State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) and laying down guidelines for such appointments. According to the apex court, the NGT does not have the jurisdiction to make this decision.

However, the bench agreed with the NGT that such appointments should not be made casu...

00:06

Jan Gan Man Ki Baat, Episode 123: Cyber Crimes and JNU The Wire

Vinod Dua discusses the problem of cyber crimes and how Jawaharlal Nehru University has changed.

The post Jan Gan Man Ki Baat, Episode 123: Cyber Crimes and JNU appeared first on The Wire.

00:01

How Effective Is Forest Certification? The Wire

There isnt enough evidence to say if certified tropical forests are better than, the same as, or worse than conventionally managed tropical forests when it comes to people.

FSC certification is not only expanding rapidly, but is also one of the most respected forest certification schemes out there. Credit: Reuters

FSC certification is not only expanding rapidly, but is also one of the most respected forest certification schemes out there. Credit: Reuters

Tropical timber has earned a bad reputation.

When we think of timber from lush, tropical forests, it conjures up images of valuable old-growth trees pillaged by logging companies and illegal timber mafias, ignoring the plight of wildlife and local communities.

But tropical timber does not have to be bad, some experts say.

Tropical wood forms an integral part of many of our daily-use products, like furniture, toilet paper, flooring, construction, and packaging material. And this important resource can be harvested from forests responsibly and sustainably, experts say, ensuring that we meet our future wood needs while conserving forests.

When you speak about tropical forests with anybody, my mom or whoever, its always corruption, its always blood, its always stealing, its always dirty. Nobody wants tropical timber anymore, Paolo Cerutti, a senior scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) who has been working on sustainable forest management in sub-Saharan Africa, told Mongabay. But that is bad because we can harvest the forest in a way that is clean and proper and sustainable.

It is this need for clean timber that gave birth to the...

Friday, 22 September

23:58

SC Directives on Police Reforms Rejected, Ignored or Diluted by States The Wire

Eleven years after order, none of the states have conformed to the guidelines, says a Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative report.

The CHRI also blasts the central government, saying that it has been a "laggard" in every way when it comes to police reforms. Credit: Reuters

The CHRI also blasts the central government, saying that it has been a laggard in every way when it comes to police reforms. Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: Eleven years ago, on this day, the Supreme Court had issued directions to the Centre and state governments to transform their police forces into professional, accountable and efficient service units. However, a recent report shows that compliance remains far from satisfactory with none of the governments enacting laws to adhere to the guidelines.

In fact, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, a non-profit organisation working in the areas of access to justice (police and prison reforms) and access to information for over two decades, has pointed out that while 18 states enacted new police acts and 11 issued executive orders, ostensibly to comply w...

23:54

Trumps Principled Realism Signals Renewed American Imperial Offensive The Wire

Trump-America is American imperial power with the gloves off, the mask of soft power removed.

US President Donald Trump addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 19, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

US President Donald Trump addresses the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., September 19, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

US President Trumps address to the United Nations General Assembly signaled little fundamental change in the USs imperial stance towards the world, despite the America First rhetoric derided by establishment critics as isolationist during and after the 2016 election campaign, including...

23:30

Fact Check: Updating Cold War Myths About Thailand New Eastern Outlook

52342342342

Many honest, busy analysts outside established media circles in the United States and Europe are plagued by mythologies stemming from once pseudo-truths they simply lack the time or energy to dig into and finally correct.

Among them are enduring myths about the Southeast Asian state of Thailand and its relationship with the United States. These myths stem from its role during the Vietnam War and are now not only outdated, they are destructive to the truth to a point where they aid rather than impede the very special interests upon Wall Street and in Washington many of these analysts seek to expose and confront.

US-Thai Relations During the Vietnam War  

During the Vietnam War, Thailand hosted US forces on its territory. It contributed a number of its own troops in supporting roles throughout Southeast Asia and conducted its own military campaign domestically against heavily armed Communist militants. It is easy to conclude that Thailand was an eager ally then, and easy to see why many analysts assume this is still the case today.

However, in reality, the history of Thailand is of the only nation in Southeast Asia to avoid Western colonisation. It is also the story of a nation that survived the World Wars by expertly aligning itself amid greater powers, neither significantly contributing to nor suffering from contests of powers between more powerful nations.

During the Second World War, Thailand tenuously aligned with the Japanese. It played no significant role in a war the Japanese ultimately lost. Upon Japans defeat, Thailand would once again balance its relationships evenly among its Asian neighbours and the Western victors of the war.

The Vietnam War was likewise a regional war started by foreign powers. It devastated not only Vietnam itself, but neighbouring Laos and Cambodia as well. Despite escaping the worst of the fighting, Thailand lost over a thousand soldiers and police amid security operations within its own borders. It fought allegedly Communist fighters, based primarily in Udon Thani, coincidentally where the US maintained its intelligence apparatus.

In hindsight of the current so-called War on Terror, where the US uses terrorism both as a proxy force aga...

23:30

Its Good That TRAI Is Slashing Interconnection Charges, But It Should Do It Faster The Wire

The regulatory body should terminate interconnection usage charges completely by 2019 instead of 2020, encouraging operators to turn the new disruption into an opportunity to meet Digital India goals.

Telecommunication towers are pictured through hanging flower pots at a residential building in Kolkata December 11, 2012. Credit: Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri/Files

Telecommunication towers are pictured through hanging flower pots at a residential building in Kolkata December 11, 2012. Credit: Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri/Files

The new regulation on interconnection usage charges (IUCs), slashing termination rates by 57%, will have far-reaching consequences on the telecom sector. It will help in bringing down tariff, improving quality of services and in replacing inefficient 2G networks with the latest 4G technology that will help in taking the benefits of the digital economy to the masses. A high IUC disincentivises operators from investing in new technologies, as they earn good revenue just by receiving calls o...

23:00

Has the PMLN Transcended Nawaz Sharif? The Wire

In Pakistans political culture, the ghosts of vanquished leaders prove to be more potent than their live versions.

Credit: Reuters

Just weeks after the historic ouster of Nawaz Sharif from the Prime Ministers Office through a court decision, it already looks like a non-event. The new prime minister was calmly elected and governance became business as usual in no time. There had been no party defections, no noisy internecine fights and no experts revised their assessments of the prospects of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) in the coming general elections. The anxieties about the impending dangers to democracy and the live broadcast hysteria about the system being derailed once again have dissipated too.

So has the PMLN transcended Nawaz Sharif?

The party was a test-tube baby born in the Pakistani establishments political laboratory. It was invested with the best of genes from the rightist ideologues and the rising Punjabi civil business class. It was designed to serve as the antidote to the leftist populist politics of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). And it did serve the purpose. But then it refused to limit its existence to that purpose alone: in the process, it got its own personality.

Sharifs person stood to symbolise the interests of a particular Punjabi class. He was progressive in his role as he wanted those interest...

22:49

Gold Imports: How a GST Loophole is Triggering a Game of Whack-a-Mole The Wire

The lower cost of gold through an unintended loophole triggered increased imports from South Korea. But banning this will only unravel the point of a free-trade agreement.

Credit: Reuters

Credit: Reuters

Editors note: Gold imports from South Korea surged to $339 million between July 1, 2017, and August 3, 2017. In the same period last year, gold imports from the country were only $70.5 million. 

So this story is worth a tell.

India has had this major problem with gold imports. So they introduce a 10% import duty on gold. But then, India also has free trade agreements (FTA) with some countries notably, South Korea. Where they make some refinements to gold, and then export it everywhere.

A free trade agreement means no customs duty. But you cant have zero import duty from South Korea, and then 10% from everywhere else, because then everyone in India will simply import gold from South Korea.

So, India had to do something. What it did was to introduce a 12.5% excise duty on gold. When you import something that has an excise duty there is a countervailing duty (CVD) that applies even if you have no customs duty. This is simple if...

22:20

As Speculation Mounts Over NDTV Takeover, Heres a Look at Top Suitor Ajay Singh The Wire

 SpiceJet boss Ajay Singh, a long-time supporter of the BJP, is a man whose industry and political connections have crisscrossed more than once.

While NDTV has officially denied speculation regarding a possible change of ownership, it has over the last few months gone head-to-head with various government agencies over alleged corporate governance issues. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: SpiceJet boss Ajay Singh, a politically-connected entrepreneur who has worked for and closely supported the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the last two decades, is reportedly considering buying a majority stake in NDTV, an Indian Express report stated on Friday.

The media report comes on the heels of week-long speculation over whether ownership of NDTV which in the last few months has gone head-to-head with vari...

21:24

Alleged Police Encounter in Haryanas Nuh Is Part of Larger Pattern, Finds Fact-Finding Commission The Wire

A team from the Citizens Against Hate collective has documented 11 other alleged police encounters in the region.

The fact-finding committee with Munfaid's father. Courtesy: Citizens Against Hate

The fact-finding committee with Munfaids father. Courtesy: Citizens Against Hate

New Delhi: A fact-finding team looking into the death of 30-year-old Munfaid in an alleged police encounter has not just said that the police is trying to cover up the details of the case, but also that as many as 11 police encounter cases with 15 victims, all Muslim men have been identified in the area since 2010. Munfaid was killed on September 16.

Munfaid had been accused in a rape case and was frequently called by the police to do some work for them, promising to dismiss the case in return, his family has said. On the night before his death, he reportedly told his father and father-in-law that the police had asked him to come Rewari to meet them for some work. His family encouraged him to go, they told the fact-finding team from the Citizens Against Hate collective, hoping the police would stop harassing them. Munfaid mentioned the names of four Crime Investigation Agency (CIA) officers he was going to meet Vikrant, Shakti Singh, Satish and Siddharth. The next day, the family was told that Munfaid had been killed.

According to the team, residents of village Rozkemeo said that Munfaid wasnt alone when he was killed he was accompanied by three friends, who saw him get shot by the police and then fled the scene fearing for their own lives. They have not given...

21:15

Theresa May's European Policy Strategic Culture Foundation

The British Prime Minister Theresa May is set to make a historic speech on the post-Exit relationship between the UK and EU. Of all the places to make such an important and profound speech the choice of Italy, home to one of the most powerful (and deeply corrupted) Christian religions in human history, alongside its peculiar relationship and history with Mussolini's Fascists and the organised crime syndicate of the Mafia is a flamboyant if not very strange and disturbing choice. It was also strange regarding the surprise announcement from 10 Downing Street (during the tussle over the Foreign Secretary's piece in the Daily Telegraph preceded the day before by the Parsons Green terror attack...

20:45

Brute Isolation: Trump and the Art of Unraveling the Iran Deal Strategic Culture Foundation

Contrary to a barrage of spin, the P5+1 meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to assess implementation of the Iran nuclear deal did not go especially well, as diplomats confirmed to Asia Times.

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