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Tuesday, 21 November

00:04

At Upcoming WTO Meet, India and Other Developing Countries to Try and Keep Focus on Doha Agenda The Wire

Developed countries want to include new issues like e-commerce, investment facilitation and government procurement in the discussion.

WTO headquarters in Geneva. Credit: Reuters

WTO headquarters in Geneva. Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: Battle lines have been drawn between developed and developing countries over the agenda for the forthcoming WTO ministerial conference at Buenos Aires, with India saying it will oppose discussion on new issues like e-commerce, investment facilitation and government procurement.

If India remains firm on its stand, the upcoming ministerial, to be held from December 10-13, could fail to produce any substantive outcome. But it remains to be seen how far India can fend off the developed worlds pressure on inclusion of new issues in the ministerial agenda.

The experience of the previous WTO Ministerial Conference, Nairobi in 2015, does not inspire much confidence that India would be able to thwart moves to push new issues onto the WTO agenda. There was no unambiguous affirmation on sticking to the Doha agenda at Nairobi, despite India strongly pitching for it.

The ministerial is the highest decision-making body of the WTO and meets at least once every two years to give political direction to the organisation.

As a priority, India wants the WTO to focus discussion on the Doha development agenda, without being distracted by new issues.

The Doha round of WTO negotiations was launched in the wake of the September 11 attack on the twin towers in the US by the Al Qaeda. The exigency of building a wider political consensus for...

00:03

Imphal Newspapers Publish Blank Editorial to Protest BJPs Burning of Daily The Wire

Members of BJPs youth wing set ablaze copies of Poknapham newspaper for publishing disparaging content against the prime minister.

Credit: poknapham.in

Credit: poknapham.in

Imphal: Prominent Imphal-based newspapers, including the daily that was burned down by alleged members of the BJPs youth wing, left their editorial columns blank today in protest.

Copies of vernacular newspaper Poknapham were set on fire by unidentified miscreants in front of BJPs party office at Nityapat Chuthek here on Saturday over alleged disparaging content against the prime minister.

The editorial column has been left blank today in protest against burning of an Imphal-based newspaper by BJP youth wing, the editor of Sangai Express said.

The president of the All Manipur Working Journalists Union (AMWJU), W. Shyamjai, condemning Saturdays incident, told reporters that the act of burning the paper amounts to promulgation of mob culture.

If the parties involved are unable to settle the matter at the level of AMWJU, they can approach the court, he said.

The BJP Manipur Pradesh Yuva Morcha did not discuss the matter with the editors and the publishers of Poknapham, Shyamjai added.

Echoing similar sentiments, A. Mobi, the president of Editors Guild...

00:00

Rohingya Christians Fear the Worst as Police Undertake Verification Drive on MHA Orders The Wire

The exercise is in violation of Supreme Court orders to the Centre that there should be no contingencies while the case is pending before it.

In the Rohingya camp at Madanpur Khader, Delhi.

In the Rohingya camp at Madanpur Khader, Delhi.

Despite the Supreme court putting the Centres plans to deport the Rohingyas to Myanmar on hold, the Delhi police has been going ahead with a verification drive to identify the various categories of Myanmarese nationals in accordance with an advisory issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs on August 8. The action is in violation of the SCs directions in the last hearing where it had asked the government to ensure that there are no contingencies while the case was pending.

As part of the exercise, the police have been conducting verification of various Myanmarese nationals since November 3, when orders for carrying it out reached the police stations.

In Vikas Puri in West Delhi, at a camp which houses about 170 Rohingya Christians belonging to around 35 families, the drive has cau...

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Monday, 20 November

23:55

Tajikistan: Marriage Folds Northern Elite Into Presidential Family EurasiaNet.org - Inside the Cocoon

Given the highly regionalized nature of power dynamics in Tajikistan, this weekends marriage between a granddaughter of the president and the son of an influential northern family is worthy of note.

Sources in the northern city of Khujand told EurasiaNet.org that the marriage took place on November 19 between President Emomali Rahmons oldest granddaughter and the grandson of the governor of the Sughd region, Adburahmon Kodiri. In another seemingly symbolic gesture, the ceremony was held at the Arbob Cultural Palace, where Rahmon was in effect first appointed head of state, almost exactly 25 years ago, on November 16, 1992.

On the brides side, the parents are one of Rahmons daughters, Firuza, and Mahmadzoir Sohibov.

Because of the outsized role played by localism in Tajikistan, such marriages between powerful families from different regions are almost unheard of. Most of Rahmons in-laws are from his native south. Indeed, the inexorable post-civil war ascendancy of Rahmons regional kinfolk to positions of power has even given a rise to a Russian neologism coined from the name of the Kulob, a city and district in south namely, Kulyabizatsiya.

This is the first known occasion in recent times in which the presidential family has married such a visible representative of a northern clan.

Sohibov, the father of the bride, does not formally hold a government position, but he is widely believed to wield considerable political influence as an informal senior advisor to Rahmon on key personnel issues and on the allocation of business-related favors. He is also said to have financially lucrative tobacco and jewelry interests of his own. 

read more

23:30

Bas Ab Bahut Ho Gaya Challenging Regressive Attitudes Towards Women The Wire

A movement mobilising youth to address issues to end gender-based violence, particularly violence against women and girls.

Awareness needs to be created about government initiatives that provide care and support for the survivors of violence. Credit: basabbahuthogaya.in

For generations women were alone in their struggle for the right to live a life of dignity and respect, but the movement for change has grown worldwide. We now have a global community of women and men who are calling out harassment, sexism and violence against women and girls (VAWG). While it may seem like incidents of VAWG have shown an increasing trend over the years in India, this is also an indicator of more crimes being reported. Of the total cases registered by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) under crimes against women in 2015, 34% were registered against husband and relatives, 25% against sexual harassment, while 10% were rape cases. The National Family Health Survey (NFHS) IV shows the pervasiveness of domestic violence, where over half of men (51%) and women (54%) agreed with one or more reasons that justified wife beating.

VAWG is not only a violation of a womans body and rights but should be seen as a public health concern. Almost 900 girls a day 3,30,000 a year are never born in India because they are not boys. The discrimination against girls is so deeply ingrained that it is a continuum of a life-cycle of violence from sex-selective abortions before birth and neglect during infancy, to being victims of abuse and malnutrition as children. As adolescents they are trafficked or forced int...

23:30

How Long Can Indias Farmers Subsidise the Nation? The Wire

The farmers have done their job. The nation has failed to deliver them a decent income in return.

Ravindra Kumar. Courtesy: Author

Ravindra Kumar. Courtesy: Author

Farmers are coming onto the streets across the country in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Punjab and now from all states into Delhi. As the agitations intensify and take a national character, it is necessary for the nation to understand what is driving them. Are they asking for the sky, simply for what is due to them?

Take Ravindra Kumar, a bajra farmer from Rewari, Haryana. He produced a good crop of bajra of 20 quintals. As per the governments own estimates, the cost of production is Rs 1,278 per quintal. The government announced a minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 1,425 per quintal. This means that a two-and-a-half acre farmer growing 20 quintals would get a net income of only Rs 2,940 for a whole seasons effort. From this, the government expects him to support an entire households expenses for at least half a year. The story only gets worse. When he sold his crop in early November, Ravindra got a price of only Rs 1,138 per quintal. Not only is this much lower than the governments MSP, it is also lower than the cost of production. So he has a net loss of Rs 2,800 to show for his efforts.

If you think this is outrageous, you are right. What is more outrageous is that the scenario is similar for most crops across the country. Lalithamma, a groundnut farmer from...

23:21

Congress Leader Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi Passes Away at 72 The Wire

 Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi

Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi

New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, who was in a coma since 2008, today passed away at a hospital here.

He was 72.

He had been critically ill since the past one month and succumbed to the illness at 12:10 pm. His family members including wife Deepa Dasmunsi and their son were at his bedside at that time, Apollo hospital authorities said.

The former Union minister had suffered a stroke in 2008 and was hospitalised since then.

Dasmunsi was heading the All India Football Federation when he was taken ill.

The post Congress Leader Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi Passes Away at 72 appeared first on The Wire.

23:17

Government Set to Re-Introduce Transgender Persons Rights Bill, Ignoring Key Recommendations The Wire

A House panel had called out the government on its flawed understanding of transgender persons and asked it to promote and safeguard the rights of the marginalised community.

The social justice and empowerment ministry will re-introduce the Bill in the winter session of the parliament. Credit: Reuters

The social justice and empowerment ministry will re-introduce the Bill in the winter session of the parliament. Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: The central government has decided to discard the recommendations of a parliamentary committee report that slammed it on the very definition of transgender used in the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, claiming it was against global norms and violates the right to self-determined gender identity.

The...

22:30

Bihars People Are the Ones Paying for Its Rudderless Government The Wire

Nitish Kumars political flip-flops and rash policy implementation have dragged the state back to pre-2005 days.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. Credit: Reuters

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. Credit: Reuters

Things are virtually back to where they were before Nitish Kumar came to power in Bihar more than a decade ago. On November 24, 2005, Nitish was voted to power with the support of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The slogan that then caught the imagination of the electorate pushing the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) government out of power was Nitishs assurance of developing Bihar. Yet today, the state has regressed to the situation that existed prior to Nitish taking charge. In fact, it can even be argued that the prevailing situation at least in some respects is far worse than what it was 12 years ago.

If on the one hand there is political uncertainty and arm-twisting by the BJP, there is also the no less worrisome precarious economic situation with a slide in investment. Lets consider the political instability. For the last four years, for apparently no valid reason, Bihar has witnessed political volatility at the top with frequent changes in government. This has contributed to a virtual policy paralysis in the state. No doubt, Nitishs own vulnerability too has increased. Unlike in the past, when the chief minister was comfortably calling...

22:30

Supreme Court Judgment in Medical College Bribery Case Will Remain Under a Cloud The Wire

The court has suggested that any complaint against a judge and investigation by the CBI should not be given publicity, ignoring the fact that public functionaries act under public scrutiny.

Justice Dipak Misra. Credit: Twitter

Justice Dipak Misra. Credit: Twitter

After the days of the Emergency, last week is perhaps the most the Supreme Court of India has been in the public gaze. While the propriety of the Chief Justice of India is being debated, the impropriety of the PIL litigants, Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms (CJAR) and Kamini Jaiswal, has also been widely questioned. Now that the Supreme Court has delivered its judgment on the PIL filed by Jaiswal, one can assess the whole episode with equanimity.

The judgment, in paras 9 and 30, has given justification for the hurried constitution of the constitution bench on November 10. It states that there was variance between the orders passed by the two division benches, which necessitated settling of the law. In the CJAR case, the direction was passed requesting the CJI to constitute an appropriate bench for hearing the matter. The only question that was before the CJI on administrative side was what would be the appropriate bench when a similar case, in the PIL filed by Jaiswal, had been directed to a constitution bench. Had the CJI desired to respect the judicial order of Court No. 2 instead of asserting his administrative authority, there was no constitutional question that needed to be answered. The CJAR matter could have been listed before the bench hearing the similar matter.

It is worth noting that even after the settling of the law by the constitution bench, th...

22:29

What Do You Do When Palaeontology Itself Is Endangered in India? The Wire

There are few researchers and fewer teachers studying vertebrate and invertebrate palaeontology leading some to wonder if Indias story of the evolution of life will continue to be written for long.

A field photograph of the excavated ichthyosaur skeleton in the Katrol Formation near Lodai village, Gujarat. Caption and source: PLOS

A field photograph of the excavated ichthyosaur skeleton in the Katrol Formation near Lodai village, Gujarat. Caption and source: PLOS

There was a lot of excitement when a big fossil was recently discovered in the Kutch region of Gujarat by a team of Indian researchers. However, the very science of palaeontology the study of fossils to trace the evolution of life on Earth could be dying in India. Veterans in the field are concerned that there may not be many fossils being unearthed in the future as there are hardly any openings for a palaeontologist in Indian universities, while the number of students signing up for the subject has also been on the decline.

According to Mahendra Pal Singh, the secretary of the Palaeontological Society of India, about 150 to 200 students pursue a postgraduate degree in palaeontology every year in the country. As for research, only about 15-20...

21:45

President Trump Faces Creeping Coup Strategic Culture Foundation

With economy on the rise and the US not dragged into a costly military conflict, President Trump has a good chance at winning a second term in the 2020 presidential election, sending hostile political operatives and the critical news media into a meltdown.

21:15

How Syrian-Nuke Evidence Was Faked Strategic Culture Foundation

In joining Israel and the White House selling military intervention in Syria, the CIA and international inspectors hid key evidence that would undermine the case, says Gareth Porter in a second part of a two-part series.

21:06

Kenya: Supreme Court Upholds Presidential Poll Result The Wire

Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta speaks after he was announced winner of the repeat presidential election at the IEBC National Tallying centre at the Bomas of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya October 30, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Thomas Mukoya/Files

Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta speaks after he was announced winner of the repeat presidential election at the IEBC National Tallying centre at the Bomas of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya October 30, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Thomas Mukoya/Files

Nairobi: Kenyas Supreme ...

21:00

Is Rahul Gandhi Finally Set to Become Congress President? The Wire

The Congresss organisational poll results will be declared on December 19, a day after Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh poll outcomes come in.

Rahul Gandhi. Credit: Reuters

Rahul Gandhi. Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: The Congress Working Committee (CWC) on Monday formally initiated the process to elect the next party chief.

According to an article in the Indian Express: Announcing the dates for the election at a press conference in New Delhi, the party said the poll notification will be issued on December 1 and the nomination and scrutiny process will be completed by December 5. The last date for withdrawal of nomination is December 11. Voting, if needed, will be held on December 16 and results will be declared on December 19, the party said.

While reports first said that a CWC unanimously passed a resolution supporting Rahul Gandhi for the post, party members clarified later that no such resolution was past.

Rahul will likely take over the party organisations reins from his mother Sonia, the longest-serving president of the Congress. Sonia was elected to the top post in 1998. Currently a Lok Sabha member from Amethi, Rahul was appointed general secretary of the Congress on September 24, 2007. He was elevated to the post of the partys vice-president in 2013.

The Congresss organisational poll results will be declared on December 19, a day after Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh poll outcomes come in.


Also read:...

20:45

France"s Macron Covers for Saudi Aggression Strategic Culture Foundation

Frances invitation to beleaguered Lebanese premier Saad Hariri for him and his family to spend a few days in Paris has been viewed as French President Emmanuel Macron stepping in with deft soft power to resolve tensions between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.

20:24

Modi Government Has 24 Hours to Appeal Dismissal of DRIs Charges Against Adani Group The Wire

The matter pertains to the alleged over-invoicing of imports and the sum involved is Rs 5,500 crore.

Undated photograph of Narendra Modi and businessmen Vibhav Kumar Upadhyay (centre) and Gautam Adani on board an aircraft (centre). Credit: vibhav.org

New Delhi: Indias custom intelligence agency has just one day left to decide if it wants to seriously continue investigating matters arising out of its findings that the Adani Group had over-invoiced imports to the tune of around Rs 5,500 crore. This allegation of over-invoicing was levelled by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), which serves as the investigative wing of the Department of Revenue in the Ministry of Finance.

The DRI had investigated the modus operandi of imports of power generation equipment by three corporate entities in the Adani group: Adani Power Maharashtra Limited, Adani Power Rajasthan Limited and Maharashtra Eastern Grid Power Transmission Company Limited. The DRI issued show-cause notices against the firms more than three years ago, on 15 May 2014, alleging overvaluation of imports to the extent of Rs 5,468 crores. The notice proposed confiscation of imported equipment and the imposition of penalties.

This writer has documented the DRIs investigations into companies belonging to the Adani group for allegedly over-valuing imports of coal from Indonesia and...

20:15

How to Avoid an ISIS 2.0 in Iraq Strategic Culture Foundation

With Mosul and other key cities now liberated from the horrible scourge of ISIS, Iraq stands at a crucial crossroads. Iraqis and Americans have squandered historic opportunities to build a new, stable and prosperous country together before. We must not let that happen again.

19:45

Saudi-Israeli Friendship Is Driving the Rest of the Middle East Together Strategic Culture Foundation

The new course of the multipolar world, together with Trumps America First policy, seems to have hit hardest those countries that placed all their bets on the continuing economic and military dominance of the United States in the region.

19:10

India Should Have No Illusions About Trumps Afghan Strategy The Wire

Besides investment and economic aid, it is hard to say what the US expects of India in Afghanistan; despite seeking a more active Indian role, the US continues to engage with China and Pakistan to counter the Taliban.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with US President Donald Trump. Credit: Reuters

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with US President Donald Trump. Credit: Reuters

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in Manila, Philippines, during the ASEAN-India and East Asia Summits Indias wish to advance the future interests of Asia. But New Delhi should remember that the Indo-Pacific is not just about the US and India cooperating to contain China in East Asia. As the western pillar (rather than the central point, as claimed by some Indians) of th...

18:46

Adityanath Rakes Up Discredited Kairana Exodus to Ask for Votes The Wire

On the basis of law, we have decided that Kairana-like incidents wont happen again, the Uttar Pradesh chief minister said in Lucknow.

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Adityanath. Credit: PTI

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Adityanath. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh chief minister Adityanath on Sunday (November 20) raked up the discredited BJP bogey on a Hindu exodus from Kairana town while campaigning for the urban local body polls in the state. His government, Adityanath claimed, has established the rule of law in the state so that Kairana-like incidents wont happen again.

Kanoon ke raaj ke adhaar par hum logon ne tai kiya ki aaj pradesh ke andar Kairana jaisi ghatnaon ki punravritti nahi ho sakti (On the basis of law, we have decided that Kairana-like incidents wont happen again), Indian Express quoted Adityanath as saying in Lucknow.

Traders who had migrated from the state following kushashan (misrule) and gundaraj have started coming back. You can see in Kairana, Kandhala and nearby areas. Mafia who were sheltered by the government and had taken over traders shops and establishments, have handed them back to the traders and moved away to escape government action, he continued.

In June 2016, BJP MP from Kairana Hukum Singh had claimed that harassment from the Muslim...

18:40

Seven Months on, Centre Yet to Sanction Prosecution of Former Enforcement Directorate Official The Wire

J.P. Singh allegedly accepted huge bribes from hawala operators as well as bookies while investigating the Surat hawala racket and IPL betting cases.

Representative image. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: For seven months, the central government has been sitting on a request filed by the CBI for sanction to prosecute the former joint director of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) from Gujarat in connection with a bribery case. According to Indian Express, Ahmedabads J. P. Singh who surpervised the investigation into the Surat hawala racket and IPL betting cases  allegedly accepted huge bribes from hawala operators as well as bookies for not arresting them during the investigation.

Singh also allegedly carried out extortions from traders in Ahmedabad and Mumbai. Besides Singh, his assistant director at the time Sanjay Kumar and some other officials were also linked in the bribery case.

The CBI arrested Singh, a Group A Indian Revenue Service officer, in February 2017, following a petition to the Prime Ministers Office by some of Gujarats businessmen. According to the daily, special director Rakesh Asthana was heading the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the case against Singh and seven months ago, the agency had sought prosecution sanction before...

18:34

Sebastian Pinera Wins First Round of Chile Election The Wire

Chilean presidential candidate Sebastian Pinera speaks during a campaign rally in Santiago, Chile November 18, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Rodrigo Garrido

Chilean presidential candidate Sebastian Pinera speaks during a campaign rally in Santiago, Chile November 18, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Rodrigo Garrido

Santiago: Conservative billionaire Sebastian Pinera will face centre-left Senator Alejandro Guillier in a runoff for Chiles presidency next month, after a first-round vote on Sunday that Pinera won, but with fewer votes than expected.

Both candidates would keep in place the top copper exporters longstanding free-market economic model, but former president Pinera has promised investor-friendly policies to turbocharge growth, while Guillier wants to press on with outgoing President Michelle Bachelets ove...

18:30

The Comical Farce Around the Rasogolla GI The Wire

A government organisation that has no representation from the rasogolla industry decided to claim regional ownership. This is completely illegal and is grounds for setting aside the registration.

The application for registration does not demonstrate how or why the Bengali rasogolla is unique. Credit: Clinton Jeff/Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The application for registration does not demonstrate how or why the Bengali rasogolla is unique. Credit: Clinton Jeff/Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The news that the Bengali rasogolla has been granted the status of a geographical indication (GI) under the Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 has led to a flood of reporting on how West Bengal has won the rasogolla-GI race against Odisha, which also laid claim to being the original home of rasogulla.

Some of this coverage has been rather comical, because this registration is another example of how the Indian government and the GI Registry has fundamentally misunderstood and misapplied the GI registration.

...

18:23

Kyrgyzstan: Outgoing President Pledges to Continue Playing Role in Politics EurasiaNet.org - Inside the Cocoon

Kyrgyzstans president has in his final press conference before leaving office dangled the prospect that he may run for parliament as the list-topping candidate for the ruling Social Democratic Party, or SDPK.

I dont plan to become chairman of parliament or the government, or even a member of parliament, but I will be number one, Almazbek Atambayev said in his most explicit indication so far that he intends to occupy an important role in Kyrgyz political life. It was not wholly clear from the somewhat contradictory remarks whether he intends or hopes to take up a seat in parliament or not, however.

Atambayev is making history by becoming the first elected president in Kyrgyzstan to step aside for another elected successor, Sooronbai Jeenbekov, who is set to be officially sworn into office on November 24. Jeenbekov won elections in a single round last month by exceeding the required 50 percent vote threshold.

There has been much speculation that the countrys unicameral parliament could be dissolved early for snap elections. Following the 2015 vote, the SDPK won the largest bloc of seats in the 120-seat legislature but fell more than 20 deputies short of securing an outright majority, forcing it into a coalition deal. Atambayev has denied there are any plans for an early vote.

Atambayev says he wants to see the SDPK continue to perform its dominant role.

The parliament should be different, and the Social Democrats should show the example of what a deputy should be, he said.

Atambayev said he wanted to see further development of Kyrgyzstans parliamentary system. Following the 2010 revolution that toppled President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, changes to the constitution ostensibly watered down the authority of the head of state, although in practice power continues to primarily be wielded by the presidents office.

read more

18:20

At ICJ, India is Getting a Reality Check on US and the Rest The Wire

Will the US, France and Japan Indias new friends  stand up to be counted and will old friends such as Russia do the needful to get Dalveer Bhandari elected to the ICJ?

Indian candidate Dalveer Bhandari and British candidate Christopher Greenwood. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Indian candidate Dalveer Bhandari and British candidate Christopher Greenwood. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Washington: In terms of the large geopolitical battles currently underway, the election of a judge to the International Court of Justice may seem like a small thing but tellingly, it has pitched India against Britain in a battle royale where loyalties of old friends and new are being tested.

At issue is the last seat in the world court where Indias Dalveer Bhandari and Britains Christopher Greenwood are in a very close fight. Eleven rounds of voting have already taken place in the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and the Security Council (UNSC) without a clear winner. To win, a candidate must get a majority in both chambers.

Bhandari has more than an edge in the UNGA where the worlds small and weak have a voice, whereas Greenwood has been winning in the UNSC where the old order holds sway.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has lobbied for Bhandari with various leaders as have other senior Indian officials. It is a time of reckoning. Will the US, France and Japan Indias new friends  stand up to be counted and will old friends such as Russia do the needful?

Britain, the old colonial power has clearly made it a prestige issue, and...

18:20

Defying Pressure to Resign, Mugabe Stuns Zimbabwe The Wire

Residents attend a prayer meeting called to celebrate after Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was dismissed as party leader of the ruling ZANU-PF's central committee in Harare, Zimbabwe, November 19, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo

Residents attend a prayer meeting called to celebrate after Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe was dismissed as party leader of the ruling ZANU-PFs central committee in Harare, Zimbabwe, November 19, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Philimon Bulawayo

Harare: President Robert...

18:20

Anti-Graft Agency Takes Custody of Indonesia Parliament Speaker The Wire

Indonesia's Speaker of the House Setya Novanto, identified as a suspect in a corruption case, arrives at the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) building in Jakarta, Indonesia November 19, 2017 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Picture taken November 19, 2017. Antara Foto/ Rosa Panggabean / via Reuters

Indonesias Speaker of the House Setya Novanto, identified as a suspect in a corruption case, arrives at the Corruption Eradication C...

18:15

Amidst Corruption Probe, Israeli Police Resume Questioning of Netanyahu The Wire

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem November 19, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Ronen Zvulun

Israels Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem November 19, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Ronen Zvulun

Jerusalem: Israeli police officers on Sunday questioned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the sixth time in a corruption probe, a police spokeswoman said.

Investigators arrived by car in late afternoon to Netanyahus official residence in Jerusalem where past interrogations have taken place, and disappeared behind security gates.

Police said Netanyahu was questioned for several hours at his residence in an ongoing fraud investigatio...

17:31

China Draws Three-Stage Path to Solve Myanmars Rohingya Crisis The Wire

Rohingya refugees who crossed the border are temporarily detained by Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, November 19, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain

Rohingya refugees who crossed the border are temporarily detained by Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) in Coxs Bazar, Bangladesh, November 19, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Mohammad Ponir Hossain

Naypyitaw: China has proposed a three-phase plan for resolving the Rohingya crisis, starting with a ceasefire in Myanmars Rakhine State so that refugees can return from Bangladesh, Chinas Foreign Ministry said ahead of a meeting of European and Asian officials in...

17:28

BJP Leader Adds to Open Threats Against Bhansali, Padukone; Producers Delay Release of Padmavati The Wire

The delay comes after CBFC sent the film back because the forms were incomplete even as the makers and actors of the film faced numerous threats of violence.

Bajrang Dal activists protesting against filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali's upcoming film 'Padmavati' in Nagpur, Maharashtra. Credit: PTI/Files

Bajrang Dal members protesting against filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansalis upcoming film Padmavati in Nagpur, Maharashtra. Credit: PTI/Files

New Delhi: The release date of Sanjay Leela Bhansalis Padmavati has been voluntarily deferred, the producers of the film said on Sunday.

The spokesman of Viacom18 Motion Pictures said it had the highest regard for the law of the land and statutory bodies such as the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). As a responsible and law-abiding corporate citizen, it was committed to following the established procedure and convention, it said.

We have faith that we will soon obtain the requisite clearances to release the film, the statement from the producer read.

CBFC chief Prasoon Joshi had on Saturd...

17:24

As German Coalition Talks Fail, Merkels Fourth Term in Doubt The Wire

Katrin Goering-Eckardt of the German Green Party speaks to media after the exploratory talks about forming a new coalition government collapsed in Berlin, Germany, November 20, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Hannibal Hanschke

Katrin Goering-Eckardt of the German Green Party speaks to media after the exploratory talks about forming a new coalition government collapsed in Berlin, Germany, November 20, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Hannibal Hanschke

Berlin: Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday her efforts to form a three-way coalition government had failed, thrusting Germany into a political crisis and pushing Europes largest economy closer to a possible new election.

The pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) unexpectedly pulled out of more than four weeks of negotiations with Merkel...

16:03

How Modern Empire Uses Awards to Keep Servants Loyal New Eastern Outlook

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Nineteenth century French military and political leader Napolon Bonaparte once said, a soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of coloured ribbon, recognising a fundamental aspect of human nature he readily exploited to bolster his now famous campaigns of European conquest.

Human beings value recognition. Today, it drives the addictive nature of social media platforms. Facebook co-founder Sean Parker recently admitted that the ubiquitous social network platform was designed intentionally to exploit this and become addictive.

In the Guardians report titled, Ex-Facebook president Sean Parker: site made to exploit human vulnerability, Sean Parker would describe what he called a social-validation feedback loop, explaining that:

How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible? It was this mindset that led to the creation of features such as the like button that would give users a little dopamine hit to encourage them to upload more content. 

Its a social-validation feedback loop exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because youre exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.

This social-validation feedback loop utilising the like button is merely the most recent innovation in social engineering, and the latest iteration of Bonapartes bit of coloured ribbon.

Keeping Servants Eager and Loyal 

Combining traditional methods and modern innovations in social engineering, modern day empires extend their influence through media, activist, political and business circles around the globe. In addition to boosting modern social media accounts of their handpicked proxies, facilitators and agents, they also maintain an impressive network of organisations that both manage and direct soft power efforts as well as reward eager and loyal functionaries.

A relevant and recent example of this was provided by the New York City-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). The seemingly progre...

14:30

A Tribute to Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, Pakistans Renaissance Man The Wire

Apart from a few semi-official celebrations, there have been no commemorations for Qasmi in the centenary of his birth. Why such neglect for someone who when alive was regarded as the greatest Urdu writer?

Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi. Credit: The Qasmi family

In her tribute to Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, the popular Pakistani poetess Noshi Gilani begins:

We are alive

Alive in the age of Nadeem

It has become fashionable of late at literary festivals and functions to say that the demise of Intizar Hussain marks the end of an era for Urdu literature. This scribe has himself heard and read literary critics proclaim that Intizar was the most complete Urdu writer of all time, taken to mean that he dabbled in such diverse literary forms as short stories, novels, reportage and plays. Also present in this overgenerous sweeping statement is a bias in favour of those Urdu-speaking writers who have somehow achieved a place on this hallowed pedestal owing to their experiences of Partition, specifically migration from India to Pakistan.

I am simply making this point because 2016-2017 is being celebrated as the birth centenary year of Qasmi, who perhaps might have an equal or better claim to being our renaissance man, given that he excelled in poetry (some aficionados consider him a rival of Faiz Ahmad Faiz in that department), short stories, column writing and a novella. In addition, unlike Intizar, Qasmi left a living legacy in terms of writers and poets whom he insp...

14:00

The Sordid Story of Colonial Policing in Independent India The Wire

What is needed is not just reforms in the organisation structures of centralised police and paramilitary forces but some rethinking to update criminal laws.

The criminal justice system is on the brink of a collapse under the Narendra Modi government. Credit: File photo

An independent fact-finding commission report recently found glaring gaps in the way police handled the brutal lynching of Pehlu Khan, a Muslim farmer who was beaten to death by self-styled gau rakshaks in Rajasthans Alwar earlier this year. This was one of the most highlighted cases in a series of lynching incidents that have taken place in the last three years, the killing of Mohammad Akhlaq being the other one.

In a number of reports, it was pointed out in both the cases that the police motivated doctoring of the...

13:30

The Anguish Caused by Enforced Disappearances in Pakistan The Wire

There are officially at least 1,400 unresolved cases of enforced disappearances in Pakistan, as noted by the International Court of Justice in 2016.

A woman holds a placard during a protest outside the National Press Club on the International Day of Enforced Disappearances | Tanveer Shahzad via Herald

A woman holds a placard during a protest outside the National Press Club on the International Day of Enforced Disappearances | Tanveer Shahzad via Herald

Marvi Sario would update her Facebook page at least twice every day for nearly three months that her father, Hyderabad-based activist Punhal Sario, was missing. A 20-year-old school teacher, Marvi would upload photos of her father and write posts in Sindhi and Roman Urdu. At times, these posts were aggressive, but on other occasions, they would be desperate pleas for the early release of her father, who was picked up by plainclothesmen on August 4, 2017.

My father is diabetic. He was not carrying his medicines when he was taken away. We are worried if he has access to his medicines. We have no idea how he is doing, Marvi said in a phone conversation that took place before he was released. The next two months brought more misery. Marvis only brother she also has four younger sisters was admitted to a government hospital for a mental illness and later suffered a heart atta...

13:30

The World Is Losing the Battle Against Child Labour The Wire

While the general numbers for child labour dwindled from 162 million to 152 million since 2013, in rural areas the number grew: from 98 to 108 million.

The IV Global Conference on the Sustained Eradication of Child Labour, held in the Argentine capital, concluded with an urgent call to accelerate efforts to eradicate this major problem by 2025, a goal of the international community that today does not appear to be feasible. Credit: Daniel Gutman/IPS

Buenos Aires: The IV Global Conference on the Sustained Eradication of Child Labour,  which drew nearly 2000 delegates from 190 countries to the Argentine capital, left many declarations of good intentions but nothing to celebrate.

Child labour is declining far too slowly, in the midst of unprecedented growth in migration and forced displacement that aggravate the situation, said representatives of governments, workers and employers in the Buenos Aires Declaration on Child Labour Forced Labour and Youth Employment.

The document, signed at the end of the November 14-16 meeting, recognises that unless something changes, the goals set by the international community will not be met.

As a result, there is a pressing need to Accelerate efforts to e...

11:02

Teenager detained over alleged Facebook threat against Sarawak chief minister Hornbill Unleashed

Police detained a teenage boy on suspicion of posting a threat against Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg on Facebook today. Sarawak Criminal Investigation Department chief Datuk Dev Kumar said the suspect, aged 14, was taken to the Kuching district police headquarters by his father at 2.30 pm after receiving news that []

11:02

Pan Borneo Highway, catalyst for new leap in Sabah and Sarawak, says PM Hornbill Unleashed

Najib Razak said he believed the Pan Borneo Highway project would be the catalyst for a new leap to the demography and socio-economy of Sabah and Sarawak encompassing a higher quality of life, the development of a new economic corridor and the opening of new opportunities for the local communities. The Prime Minister said it []

11:02

Sarawak govt proposes longhouse, village chiefs to set up community firefighters Hornbill Unleashed

The Sarawak government has proposed that longhouse and village chiefs in the state establish community fire-fighting teams in their respective areas. Sarawak Local Government Ministry Assistant Minister Datuk Dr Penguang Manggil said the setting up of such teams was needed as a preventive measure for fire particularly in the rural areas, such as in Marudi []

11:02

Najib explains federal government stand on Malaysia Agreement Hornbill Unleashed

Najib Razak said today the federal government has no intention and right to take anything that rightfully belongs to Sabah and its people as provided for in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63). The Prime Minister said that if anything had been taken inadvertently, it must be returned. This is our struggle. It is not the []

11:02

Shafie Apdal: Let Sabah, Sarawak Christians use Allah Hornbill Unleashed

Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) president Shafie Apdal today said the BN-led government should let Christians in Sabah and Sarawak use the word Allah in their worship and make sure it is not misinterpreted to the detriment of Muslims. Speaking to Christian leaders during a gathering here, Shafie said he had held the view even when []

11:01

PM: Christians in Sabah, Sarawak can use Allah Hornbill Unleashed

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said the Appeals Courts decision on the use of the word Allah does not affect Christians in Sabah and Sarawak. Najib said the contents in the 10-Point Agreement decided by the federal cabinet on the matter would be maintained for the two states. recently when the Appeals Court made its []

11:01

Anticipating RoS troubles, Wan Azizah moots PPBM using Pakatan logo Hornbill Unleashed

Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) members can contest under the Pakatan Harapan ticket should the Registrar of Societies (RoS) fail to recognise the opposition party before the 14th general elections, Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said.The coalition president said PPBM was part of the Opposition pact and therefore would not be neglected should such []

09:07

Six Jury Members Ask Smriti Irani to Review I&B Ministry Veto Over Films Chosen for IFFI The Wire

The films were removed without any intimation, discussion or recourse to the jury which has the final say according to the Indian Panorama regulations, they said.

Hari Vishwanath, Satarupa Sanyal, Ruchi Narain, Suresh Heblikar, Sachin Chatte and Gopi Desai. Credit: YouTube, rubiq.in

New Delhi: The ongoing controversy over information and broadcasting minister Smriti Z. Iranis decision to arbitrarily drop two films from the Indian Panorama section of the upcoming International Film Festival of India (IFFI) without consulting the jury that selected them has taken a new turn with six members of the panel writing to the minister to officially express their concern and urge her to reverse her decision.

The letter, signed by jury members Hari Vishwanath, Satarupa Sanyal, Ruchi Narain, Suresh Heblikar, Sachin Chatte and Gopi Desai said, We write this letter to you to voice our concern with regard to the issue of the exclusion of feature films Nude (directed by Ravi Jadhav) and S Durga (directed by Sanal Kumar Sasidharan) from the Indian Panorama section, and the necessity of finding a solution to the issue at hand as the issue has more far reaching implications for the sanctity of the system put into place after years of work by the ministry.

Vishwanath, Sanyal, Narain, Heblikar and Desai are prominent film directors while Chatte is a film critic.

Expressing distress that the films were removed without any intimation, discussion or recourse to the jury which has the final say according to the Indian Panorama regulations, they further said, all our written correspondence to DFF (Directorate of...

04:53

To Beat Back UK Challenge on ICJ, India Seeks Two-Thirds Majority in UN General Assembly The Wire

Britain, on its part, is looking to avoid an uncomfortable vote by invoking an arcane process that would have a joint committee choose a candidate to fill the vacant spot.

The International Criminal Court of Justice. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The International Criminal Court of Justice. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

New Delhi: India is banking on the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to vote in higher numbers for its candidate for the International Court of Justices vacant seat on Monday.

If a two-thirds majority is achieved, India hopes it will persuade members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) who have consistently voted for the UK candidate to recognise the prevailing global sentiment.  Another scenario that Indian diplomats are hoping for is that a stronger majority may prompt the British to withdraw their candidate, seeing as most countries around the world have more trust in Indias choice for the seat.

On Monday afternoon, the two main chambers of the UN will again vote separately, but simultaneously for the ICJs last remaining seat. As per the statute, the winning candidate has to get an absolute majority in both the UNSC and UNGA.

Former Supreme Court judge Dalveer Bhandari had been standing for re-election as part of a list of six candidates for five seats at the ICJ. While there is no such written norm, geographical balance on the bench had led to expectations of Bhandari facing a challenge from Lebanons Nawaf Salam for the Asia seat.

When voting was he...

03:46

Saudi Arabia and Israel Replace Syria with Lebanon as Their Next Victim New Eastern Outlook

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Support by US rulers is rather in the nature of the support that the rope gives to a hanged man ~ Nikita Khrushchev

Just when you think nothing in Saudi Arabia could get more bizarre, we got the story of Riyadh claiming Hezbollah of declaring war against Saudi Arabia. You just cant make this stuff up. I had to check to make sure the article was not a spoof piece.

This crazy Hezbollah charge was timed to dovetail with another bizarre event. Lebanon Prime Minister Hariri read his resignation letter in Saudi Arabia like he was some kind of a Manchurian candidate sleeper agent for the Saudis, which it turns out that he was, or their billionaire sock puppet, which is even worse.

As I write, Hariri will soon be a guest of the Saudis for almost two weeks, where is he claiming to return in a few days and might even revoke his resignation. He cited some condition that Hezbollah has to break off all ties with Iran, when without those military support ties, Israel would take South Lebanon whenever it wants. Hariri may become the most debased Prime Minister in modern times.

Sure, the Saudis have poured a lot of money into Lebanon, which sorely needs it, not only for its long time burden with the Palestinian refugees from Israel, but also the new ones from the Syrian war. Infrastructure in Lebanon has been stretched to the max in a country where the poor dont pay taxes and neither do the rich.

The Saudi-Israeli connection reveals it includes Saad Hariri

I smell the hand of Israel working behind the scenes as usual on this latest threat caper. As the Syrian-ISIS war is winding down, we had expected the Coalition of Warmongers to have a new replacement conflict ready to go.

I mention Israel because it is seething, quietly, at its own stupidity in thinking that by helping to Balkanize Syria, the new puppet government in Damascus would concede Israels domination over the Golan Heights officially. Israeli politicians wanting a piece of the oil and gas drilling there are held up with Israel not having the legal right to do so, which complicates selling the product internationally due to endless litigation by Syria.

There was not a problem in stealing Syrias oil,...

02:02

The Saudi Purge is a Global Crisis The Corbett Report

The House of Saud is in crisis as MBS consolidates his hold on the kingdom and prepares to transform Saudi Arabia in his image. But what is behind the purge, and how does it relate to the future of the world monetary system. Join James for a classic Corbett Report debriefing on the Saudi purge and the rise of the petroyuan.

01:33

The European Army without the Dictatorship of the USA? New Eastern Outlook

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In response to the USAs request to increase defense expenditures, the European member states of NATO, at the insistence of France and Germany, have suggested establishing the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) within the EU, which may be perceived as the predecessor of the European army. So, though supporting independence from the USA in questions of military policy, EU countries nevertheless keep issues of military cooperation in Europe as priorities for themselves.

The European leaders have already noticed a lack of enthusiasm from President Trump towards NATO and other multilateral organizations. Most likely, they have decided, as the Chancellor of German Angela Merkel said in May, that we Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands.

For decades, Europe was able to increase integration in the economic and political spheres, but not in the military field. Matters of European defense were entirely delegated to NATO, behind which there stood the USA.

This is not about the creation of the European army or about the replacement of the NATOs collective security. However it is the first step to an independent European defense with projects of shared property, joint military allocations and over time, perhaps, with the deployment of joint troops. At a time of deficit budgets the nowadays split expenses may also win in efficiency, the French press noted.

Britain, following the USAs instructions (the later being vehemently opposed to the idea), hurried to call this potential and purely European establishment a phantom army, having specifically stressed: The defense of Europe will not be strengthened by weakening the bond with the United States or competing with NATO. To support the position, strategists from London give prominence to the ideas obviously inspired by Washington, such as that the enthusiasm backing PESCO stems only partially from the fear of Russia, but to a greater extent from the desire to shake off pressure by D.Trump in the future. Thus, eventually it may drive wedges between Eastern and Western Europe, between the US and the EU. Great Britain should stand...

00:53

These People: A Consideration of Those Who Serve Us The Wire

For how long can the middle class in India take the servitude of others for granted?

The help. Credit: Abhijit Chendvankar/Flickr. CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

I lost my innocence regarding the entitled exploitation of a vast army of people employed to serve at a pittance in my native India only after I got married and moved to the United States. Back home, everyone except the servants themselves, has a servant or two or three, some permanent, some part time. Here in America, I found, they were conspicuous by their absence. They were missing here, like India, like ones relatives, like the smell of spiced cooking emanating from homes, or the noise of throngs jostling on streets rattled by traffic, and unattended refuse attended by starving cows and the poor who make a living from recycling trash. Here I found myself mostly by myself, except for a just minted husband with whom I was ensconced in a whistle clean gadget-infested, odourless apartment. The incalculable loss of family, food, country and servants, native aromas, all in one fell swoop and in that order, was overwhelming.

When I finally came to, acceptance of altered life swiftly followed: Breakfast would not be on the table, nor lunch, nor dinner, the clothes not washed, bathrooms not cleaned, rooms not swept. None of these would occur thanks to virtually unseen hands. Now I, the stay-at-home housewife, had to do everything, albeit with begrudging help from my working husband on weekends. Worse still, there was no sympathy to be had regarding this tragedy as everyone was in the same situation and seemed to go about it quite normally. I pulled myself togeth...

00:00

Cambodia: The Birth of a Dictator The Wire

The Cambodian government has launched a fierce crackdown on the opposition. For a few months now, politicians, journalist and activists have been harassed to make their work impossible.

Police arrayed in front of the Cambodian Supreme Court. Credit: Pascal Laureyn/IPS

Phnom Penh: The Cambodian government had an almost paranoid fear of protests. A square kilometer around the Supreme Court was barricaded and off limits to the public. In faraway provinces, roadblocks were erected to stop demonstrators. Some opposition members were under temporary house arrest. But it turned out to be unnecessary. Nobody dared to protest.

The Cambodian government has launched a fierce crackdown on the opposition. For a few months now, politicians, journalist and activists have been harassed to make their work impossible. A new low point was reached on Thursday when the Supreme Court dissolved the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) ahead of the elections in 2018. Only the CNRP could have competed with the Cambodian Peoples Party (CPP), which has been in power for more than three decades. Hun Sen is the worlds longest serving prime minister.

The official dissolution of the CNRP was just a formality. The president of the Supreme Court is also a top committee member of de CPP and a longtime ally of Hun Sen. In Cambodia, justice is an auxiliary of the government and the prime minister is pulling all the strings firmly, now more than ever.

I could easily continue for another 10 years, the 65-y...

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23:45

Exploring the Curious History of the India-Pakistan Relationship The Wire

T.C.A. Raghavans The People Next Door is written with deep personal knowledge and a genuine investment in the India-Pakistan relationship.

Pakistani rangers (wearing black uniforms) and Indian Border Security Force (BSF) officers lower their national flags during a daily parade at the Pakistan-India joint check-post at Wagah border, near Lahore November 3, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Mohsin Raza/Files

Pakistani rangers (wearing black uniforms) and Indian Border Security Force (BSF) officers lower their national flags during a daily parade at the Pakistan-India j...

23:00

DFATs White Paper and Modern Reality New Eastern Outlook

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In 2018 the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) will release a new White Paper, setting out possible scenarios for the future conduct of Australias foreign policy. It would be unwise to expect any substantial, let alone radical, departure from the foreign policy format that has prevailed since at least the end of the Second World War.

One clue as to how the policy framework might be formulated may be found in the 2016 Defence White Paper. Not the least of the reasons for expecting a similarity of approach is that it has become increasingly clear that it is the Department of Defence that is the real driver of foreign policy. This has a number of dangers, not least because the mindset of military personnel and their quasi- civilian department, construes the world in a fundamentally different conceptual framework from DFAT, that at least in theory adopts a broader perspective from that of the military.

It is also inescapably the case that DFATs White Paper will have a non-negotiable starting point of the US Alliance being the cornerstone of Australias defence policy. Foreign policy initiatives must therefore be formulated within the context of whether or not what Australia wants is consistent with US geopolitical objectives.

On the practical side that process is already well advanced, with Australian military personnel already integrated into the American military structure. Other manifestations include the US spy base at Pine Gap, an integral part of the US war machine worldwide, and US military bases on Australian soil.

Australia also takes part in joint military exercises such as operation Talisman Sabre, that are clearly directed against China, or other joint military exercises, as with the current exercises that are directed against North Korea.

The fact that these and similar military exercises are directed against Australias largest trading partner and may therefore pose a conflict with Australias economic security is not something likely to be addressed in the White Paper.

To that military support, Australia also gives unwavering political support, in everything from prime ministerial statements about being joined at the hip with the US, to UN voting support for the violent apartheid regime in Tel Aviv, to maintaining a discrete silence about the US and UK supported war by Saudi Arabia against Yemen.

Judging by various public comments by politicians and military personnel in recent months, a fundamental underpinning of the allegia...

21:45

Moscow Vetoes Security Council"s Resolution on Syria: Saving Credibility of United Nations Strategic Culture Foundation

There was no reason for President Assad to use chemical weapons. He was winning the war. The UN-brokered peace talks on Syria were to launch on April 4 - the day of the attack. No way could the Syrian government benefit from the use of CW.

21:35

Making Sense of the BJPs First List of Gujarat Candidates The Wire

Angry over the list, which is full of repeat candidates, Patidars and Congress defectors, at least 30 disgruntled BJP leaders have submitted their resignations.

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. Credit: PTI

Ahmedabad: The composition of the Bharatiya Janata Partys first list of 70 candidates for the upcoming Gujarat assembly polls tells us a lot about the state of play in the most important election to be held between now and 2019 Lok Sabha.

Shelving its no-repeat policy, as many as 49 sitting MLAs have been repeated. New faces to prevent anti-incumbency had been a hallmark of the Narendra Modi-led BJP that won three terms in Gujarat. This time around, the party appears to be playing it safe, at least judging by the first list, with sitting MLAs, Patidars and key Congress defectors dominating the set of names.

Chief Minister Vijay Rupani from Rajkot West seat tops the list. Deputy CM Nitin Patel from Mehsana and state party president Jitu Vaghani will contest from Bhavnagar West.

Noticeably, the BJP has named 15 Patidar leaders. Five turncoat MLAs from Congress Raghavji Patel, MLA from Jamnagar Rural, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja from Jamnagar North, Ramsinh Parmar from Thasra, Mansinh Chauhan from Balasinor, Kheda district and CK Raulji from Godhra get to contest from their current seats.

The prestige seat

Rupani will contest again from Rajkot West, where he is likely to face a to...

21:15

Nikki Haley Rage Strategic Culture Foundation

Current incumbent Nikki Haley is the worst of the lot, an embarrassment to the office she holds, an over-the-top loose cannon, an imperial lunatic, a geopolitical know-nothing, a Russophobic extremist representing Americas ugly face, its ruthless agenda, its imperial madness.

20:40

Top NSA Whistleblower Claims "Russiagate" a Fake to Increase War-Spending Strategic Culture Foundation

No one who is promoting the Russiagate allegations is trying to debate William Binneys allegations. Instead, all of the newsmedia are plastered with allegations of Russias meddling in American democracy.

20:22

On Her Birth Centenary, We Need to Pay Tribute to the Early Indira Gandhi The Wire

The Emergency may be the most controversial part of her legacy but Mrs Gandhis greatest contribution to India was the way she handled the economic, political and foreign policy challenges the country faced after 1966.

Indira Gandhi and V.V. Giri receiving General Ne Win from Burma, New Delhi, 1974. Credit: Photo Division, GOI

Indira Gandhi is the most controversial prime minister that India has had. A third of a century after her tragic and untimely death, an older generation of Indians remembers her mainly for Indias victory in the 1971 war, and the Emergency. Scholars have also accused her of undermining democracy by splitting the Congress in 1969, repeatedly sacking chief ministers to concentrate power in her own hands, and splitting the party a second time for the same purpose in January 1978. But the poor of India remember her for her programme of Garibi Hatao and still call her Amma. On the foreign policy side, all of us, without exception, remember with pride the way in which she stood up to Nixon and Kissinger during the run-up to the Bangladesh war. . .

The end of the Nehruvian honeymoon

So vivid is the image we have of the later Indira that very few remember the young and unsure, woman who came to power after the sudden death of Lal Bahadur Shastri in January 1966. Even fewer, therefore, appreciate the difficult circumstances in which she did what she did and her immense contribution to stabilising the nascent India she inherited. For in January 1966, the country was in the grip of a multi-faceted crisis, and did not even know it.

The production of food grain had hit a plateau...

20:15

Trump's New Afghanistan Strategy Isn't Really a Strategy Strategic Culture Foundation

Congress should instead push now for much more comprehensive responses and much more elaborate detail to the Trump omissionseven if in executive sessions. Almost certainly, it will find the new strategy is woefully deficient, no more satisfactory certainly than the plans of Presidents Bush and Obama, which aroused such bitter, sweeping and sarcastic criticism by candidate Donald J. Trump. Congress should insist on a real strategy, author one itself, or else consider getting out of Afghanistan.

20:03

Israel Hayoms new target: the mother of a conscientious objector +972 Magazine

Israel Hayom put a high school principal in its crosshairs after she expressed support for her daughters refusal to serve in the IDF. This is what a witch hunt looks like.

By Yael Marom

Iris Gur, mother of conscientious objector Noa Gur Golan, protests in support of her daughter, who sat in prison for 98 over her refusal to serve in the IDF. (Courtesy of Mesarvot)

Iris Gur, mother of conscientious objector Noa Gur Golan, protests in support of her daughter, who sat in prison for 98 over her refusal to serve in the IDF. (Courtesy of Mesarvot)

Israel Hayom, the newspaper funded by Netanyahus patron, Sheldon Adelson, and the countrys most circulated daily, has found yet another target. After last weeks unsuccessful attempt last week to bring about the firing of Palestinian-Israeli journalist Makbula Nassar, this week  Israel Hayom put Iris Gur, the mother of conscientious objector Noa Gur Golan, in its crosshairs.

[tmwinpost]

Gur, an elementary school principal, has expressed support and pride for her daughter, who refused to enlist in the IDF and served 98 days in military prison. According to Israel Hayom, this makes Iris an Israel hater who is unfit for her job as a teacher. Or as Matan Peleg, from the far-right group Im Tirzu, put it: It is inconceivable that schools will be led by principals that do not believe in the...

19:30

Photo Essay: Where There Are No Sewers The Toilet Cleaners of Lucknow The Wire

On this World Toilet Day, lets turn the spotlight behind the scenes of the sanitation chain, on those who clean out latrines where there are no sewers to carry away the waste.

The toilet cleaners of Lucknow. Credit: C.S. Sharada Prasad

November 19 is World Toilet Day. Enormous progress has been made in the global effort to provide safe and affordable toilets for the worlds poorest citizens since World Toilet Day was first declared in 2001. Significant strides have been made in reinventing toilet designs for low-income, water-short, unsewered urban zones; celebrities like Bill Gates and Matt Damon have brought this once-taboo topic into the open; and the prime minister of India  the country with the highest number of people still practising open defecation has publicly declared that his country needs toilets over temples.

Well over two billion people today lack access to basic sanitation facilities, according to the World Health Organization; about 760 million of them live in India. The goal of this day is to make the global community aware of their right to safe and dignified sanitation and to support public action and public policy to bring this right closer to those who do not enjoy it today. On this World Toilet Day, we focus on the back-end of the sanitation chain, on those who clean out latrines where there is no flush or sewer to carry away the waste. When this work is done without mechanical equipment and without protective clothing, scooping out faeces from dry latrines and overflowing pits, it is called manual scavenging.

Its an ancient profession and...

19:00

Migrants Are Dying in Detention Centres: When Will Canada Act? The Wire

Since 2000, at least 16 people have died while incarcerated in Canadas system of immigration detention, with a shocking four deaths since March 2016.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) poses with airport staff as they await Syrian refugees to arrive at the Toronto Pearson International Airport in Mississauga, Ontario, December 10, 2015. After months of promises and weeks of preparation, the first planeload of Syrian refugees was headed to Canada on Thursday, aboard a military plane to be met at Toronto's airport by Trudeau. Credit: Reuters/Mark Blinch

Canadas Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (L) poses with airport staff as they await Syrian refugees to arrive at the Toronto Pearson International Airport in Mississauga, Ontario, December 10, 2015. After months of promises and weeks of preparation, the first planeload of Syrian refugees was headed to Canada on Thursday, aboard a military plane to be met at Torontos airport by Trudeau. Credit: Reuters/Mark Blinch

Lucia Vega Jimenez, 42, Mexi...

18:50

Not Like Religion Clean and Unclean OrientalReview.org

The discussion of the category of clean versus unclean, sometimes discussed today, cannot be separated from the larger discussion of the abiding relevance of the Jewish Law.

18:30

Decent Toilets for Women and Girls Vital for Gender Equality The Wire

Being denied access to safe, private toilets is particularly dangerous for women and girls, impacting on their health and education, and exposing them to an increased risk of harassment and even attack.

Girls sit inside the Life Line Trust orphanage in Salem in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu on June 20, 2013. Credit: Mansi Thapliyal/Reuters

Girls sit inside the Life Line Trust orphanage in Salem in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu on June 20, 2013. Credit: Mansi Thapliyal/Reuters

London: This weekend marks World Toilet Day (November 19) and the news is disheartening. One in three people are still waiting for a toilet, still having to face the indignity and often fear of relieving themselves in the open or using unsafe or unhygienic toilets.

It is frustrating that the headline statistics have not made greater progress two years into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), when having a toilet is such a fundamental boost to gender equality, as well as health, education and economic opportunity.

In Out of Order: State of the Worlds Toilets 2017, WaterAids annual analysis based on WHO-UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) data, we show that Ethiopia is now the worst country in the world for having the highest percentage of...

17:36

Anuk Arudpragasam wins DSC Prize for South Asian Literature The Wire

The novel is impressive for its intensity and rich detail, and for exploring the tragic heart of war with such quiet eloquence.

Anuk Arudpragasam receiving the DSC Prize 2017 trophy.

New Delhi: Anuk Arudpragasam was announced winner of the DSC prize for South Asian literature 2017 at the Dhaka Lit Fest in Bangladesh for his debut novel The Story of a Brief Marriage on Saturday, November 18.

The Story of a Brief Marriage, is the story of a young man on the front lines between the Sri Lankan army and the Tamil Tigers. Author and jury chair Ritu Menon, calling it an outstanding novel, said, The novel is impressive for its intensity and rich detail, and for exploring the tragic heart of war with such quiet eloquence. It is also a testament to the redemptive power of love, and to the human spirits capacity for hope.

Arudpragasam, who is from Colombo and writes in English and Tamil, was awarded the $25,000 DSC prize by Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, finance minister of Bangladesh.


Also read: The Story of A Brief Marriage Imagines the Life of Persecuted Tamils in Sri Lanka


The other shortlisted authors this year were Anjali Josephs The Living...

17:26

Raghuram Rajans Note Advising Against Demonetisation Should Be Made Public: Montek Singh Ahluwalia The Wire

Karan Thapar interviews Montek Singh Ahluwalia, former deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, about demonetisation, GST and the overall state of the Indian economy.

Karan Thapar: Hello and welcome to very special interview with the former deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia. Over the next 45 minutes, I should talk to Mr Ahluwalia about the state of the economy, about demonetisation and GST, about the governments plans to recapitalise banks, to boost employment and growth, and of course about Fridays upgrade by Moodys.

Demonetisation

KT: Mr Ahluwalia, lets start with demonetisation, which earlier this month marked its first anniversary on the 8th. In an essay on his blog, put up the night before, the finance minister said this is watershed moment in the history of the Indian economy, and then he added that this has ended Indias traditional chalta hai attitude about corruption. How do you respond to that boost?

Montek Singh Ahluwalia: Well, I mean, you know, the finance minister is obviously keen to present the most positive picture he can think of. I wouldnt have called it quite that dramatic a development.

KT: Not a watershed?

MSA: I dont think so. I mean, np look. Its been highly, its probably been the most discussed initiative of the government, of any government for a very long time. Primarily because it was, in some sense, a very bold move, because after all, youre taking out 86% of the currency, and thats not a marginal change.  But you know, I go along with the general assessment that  its been quite disruptive, probably more disruptive than the government itself imagined. Its had a negative impact, particularly on the informal sector, which was the most cash dependent. The negative effect is probably now over, so whatever the costs, they are behind us. Whether it affected corruption or not, I have my doubts. Because, you know, I dont think that if you just take away a lot of money and hand back new money, that affects corruption. Its very important to affect corruption, but you need to make some systemic changes that will do that.

KT:...

16:39

Otto Warmbier Law and Other Elements of the US Sanction Policy In Respect of the DPRK New Eastern Outlook

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On October 24, 2017, the US Congress House approved the draft law by an overwhelming majority (455 deputies for, and two against) on the introduction of the new anti-North Korean sanctions named after the American student Otto Warmbier, who was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment for an attempt to disrupt the unity of the Korean people after he sneaked into the office of the hotel at night and tore off a propaganda poster from the wall. After 17 months, North Korea extradited him in a state of insensibility to the USA, and the student died 6 days later. Although the coroner did not name the death violent and did not find any traces of torture, the family of the deceased and North Koreas haters are sure that the student was a victim of cruel treatment or torture that leaves no traces.

The draft law stipulates the secondary boycott measures, including the closure of access to the international financial system for foreign financial companies that cooperate with Pyongyang. It also obliges the government administration to strictly perform all the sanction measures.

In addition, the law prescribes the USA to use all the efforts and opportunities (literally their voice and vote) to prohibit the assistance of the World Bank and other international financial institutions to countries that do not follow the anti-North Korean resolutions of the UN Security Council, including other international measures. The companies using the services of the North Korean workers are also subject to the sanctions.

According to the media of the Republic of Korea, the draft law has a peculiar meaning in anticipation of the upcoming visit of the US President Donald Trump to the Asian countries. Trump is expected to persuade China to strengthen the pressure on the DPRK, and Warmbier Law should become instrumental is this issue, as it is primarily aimed at the Chinese companies and banks cooperating with the DPRK. In addition, the US Administration has killed two birds with one stone. Heart-broken relatives and their support group received a visible confirmation that they were not abandoned, and the authorities adopted a very important component of unilateral sanctions enforcing the policy of either you are working with North Korea, or you are working with the United States. This was directly announced by the major sponsor of the law Congressman...

15:30

The Life of Labour: Fishworkers From Over 50 Countries Meet in Delhi, Centre Delays MNREGA Payments 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

West Bengals new ration scheme feeds the tea estate management

Subrata Nagchaudhary writes in Scroll.in about how the Trinamool Congress Khadya Sathi scheme under the National Food Security Act is saving crores for tea estate owners with little benefit for the workers. Previously, according to wage agreements between tea gardens and workers, the estate management provided a portion of wages to their workers in kind in the form of subsidised food grains. But since the new act makes the tea estate management the ration dealers to their employees and provides them food grains at subsidised rates, they do not need to buy from the market anymore. Thus, since February, each estate began to save Rs 660 per worker per month. This roughly works out to Rs 80 lakh a year for a tea garden with 1,000 workers. This saving is not being passed down to the worker in the form of cash wages and even their regular wages are delayed. Instead of subsidising the poor plantation workers, the state governm...

15:29

The Passions and Requests of an Earnest Entomophilatelist The Wire

While many countries have been producing postage stamps with insects of bright hues and with thoughtful scientific annotations, India Posts efforts leave much to desire.

Collectors of postage stamps and related items such as envelopes, postmarks and first-day covers are called philatelists. Of them, those who collect topicals, or thematic stamps and related materials that convey a theme, such as stamps with insects on them, are called thematic collectors. Collectors of insect-related stamps are said to practice entomophilately. Insects are endlessly fascinating creatures, creatures most people think of as nuisances or pests. The importance of insects to human welfare transcends the grand battles we fight against them to manage them for our own ends. Though some are bothersome, they are no less interesting to those who will stop and study them.

All too often, the common insects we encounter in our daily lives like houseflies, mosquitoes, cockroaches, ants, etc., turn out to be uninvited guests in our homes, gardens and at our picnics. However, as uncommon philatelic subjects, they should find a ready welcome in almost anyones thematic collection. Most of us hate them, but some of us entomologists and entomophilatelists love them. Insects have been on stamps for a very long time and in great abundance. From the point of view of thematic philately, insects can form a fascinating study and several sub-themes can be chosen.

For the past four decades, I have been collecting insects, with and without a net. My collections are both a pastime and a profession. The net-collected specimens by me and several of my more avid colleagues are tucked away in neat rows in tidy, wooden drawers in the department of entomology at the University of Agricultural S...

15:00

One Bad Turn The Wire

A short story that won a recent competition on the theme of road safety.

A short story competition was held to raise awareness on road safety. Credit: PTI

A short story competition was held to raise awareness on road safety. Credit: PTI

India recorded at least 4,80,652 deaths in road accidents in 2016. According a report compiled by the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, as many as 413 people lost their lives every day in accidents last year. Half of those who died were between 18 and 35 years of age.

Aiming to increase public awareness on road safety and thereby help lower such deaths, the National Habitat Preservation Centre, a not-for-profit engaged in the promotion, preservation and conservation of Indian art, culture and heritage, came up with an out-of-the-box initiative in mid 2016 in association with Mahindra Bus and Truck Division. Named #HaveASafeJourney, the campaign held a short story writing competition in English on the theme of road safety.

Eighteen of the best stories chosen by the judges have been compiled into an anthology titled Have a Safe Journey. Brought out by Amarllyis Publishers, the anthology also includes short stories on related themes by writers like Shinie Anthony, Vikram Kapur, Ashwin Sanghi, Pankaj Dubey, Anand Neelakanthan, Kiran Manral and Priyanka Sinha Jha.

...

14:30

Unprecedented, Unconstitutional Action by I&B Ministry to Remove Two Films From IFFI List: S Durga Director The Wire

In conversation with S Durga filmmaker Sanal Kumar Sasidharan about his latest movie, politics and his time as an ABVP worker.

Sanal Kumar Sasidharan. Credit: Facebook

Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, the 40-year-old Malayalam filmmaker is no Marxist, nor does he have any jihadi connection. He had been the unit secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the BJPs student wing, while a student at the Government Law College in Trivandrum. Even though he parted ways with the organisation over political differences, and now believes that the BJPs rule at the Centre is nothing but authoritarian and fascist in nature, Sasidharan did not hesitate to support the idea of demonetisation. He had his reasons for it, like he has for making the film Durga, which was Sexy till the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) struck off three letters.

The CBFC was the first to train its gun on the film, issuing a U/A certificate, with 21 audio mutes and a change in name from Sexy Durga to Durga. Finally the information and broadcasting ministry removed the movie  which has already bagged nine international awards including the Hivos Tiger Award at Rotterdam  from the screening list of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), along with Ravi Jadhavs Marathi film Nude, setting aside recommendations by a 13-member jury. ...

14:30

Girls in Afghanistan, and Everywhere Else, Need Toilets The Wire

Lack of access to clean, safe, private toilets is a major barrier around the world and its an issue that disproportionately affects girls.

Girls cover their faces to protect themselves from the stench of a filthy and malfunctioning restroom in their school. at this school, girls have no toilets of their own and their only option is to use the ones on the far side of the buildings where the boys study. They do not have locking doors and are several minutes walk from a water point. 2017 Credit: Paula Bronstein for Human Rights Watch

Girls cover their faces to protect themselves from the stench of a filthy and malfunctioning restroom in their school. at this school, girls have no toilets of their own and their only option is to use the ones on the far side of the buildings where the boys study. They do not have locking doors and are several minutes walk from a water point. 2017 Credit: Paula Bronstein for Human Rights Watch

London/Washington: I never come here, just because of boys, Atifa says, pointing at the door of the stall. Theyre opening the door. Atifa, a sixth grader in Kabul, Afghanistan, attends a school of 650 girls. Since they study i...

14:00

By Age 22, Half of the Women in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana Stay Home or Are Married: Survey The Wire

By community, Dalits (70%) had the highest share of 22 year olds employed in the states in 2016.

Hyderabad. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Hyderabad. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

While three out of four men headed to work, about one in two women stayed at home by age 22 in undivided Andhra Pradesh, according to the preliminary findings (herehere and here) of an ongoing global longitudinal study of childhood poverty.

Not only were fewer women training themselves for the labour market, far more women were married by age 22 in 2016 than men, according to research by Young Lives India the India chapter of Young Lives, a study of childhood poverty funded by the University of Oxford, UK in undivided Andhra Pradesh since 2002.

These data lend weight to other studies that show Indian women are at a significant and possibly widening disadvantage. Gap between men and women has widened on political empowerment, healthy life expectancy and basic literacy, resulting in India slipping 21 places to 108 in 2017 from 87 in 2016 on the Global Gender Gap Index of the World...

14:00

As India Rushes Towards Digital Money, Are We Doing Enough For the Elderly and Those With Disabilities? The Wire

A recent RBI circular reminds us that digital banking, welcome as it is in the overall context, does not benefit all sections of society equally.

Are the elderly and differently abled being left out of India's digital banking drive? Credit: PTI

Are the elderly and persons with disabilities being left out of Indias digital banking drive? Credit: PTI

In what has been hailed as a major step in stepping up of their standards of banking service towards the elderly and persons with disabilities, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has issued a circular with instructions to commercial banks.

First and foremost, banks will have to be more sensitive to their needs.Though not original, the RBI has taken off from its fourth bi-monthly credit policy statement in October and compiled a list of dos and donts to meet the obvious requirements of senior citizens and persons with disabilities.

The value of the central bank guidelines lies more in discussing its overall context rather than its individual points. The latter, in any case, are repetitive and merely stating what should have been standard banking practice.

Nevertheless the latest instructions are noteworthy for another reason. Indias financial environment has moved away, as it were, from seniors and people with disabilities. Individual manage...

13:30

Finding the Right Materials for Buildings of the Future The Wire

A civil engineer at IIT Guwahati talks about her research on lightweight concrete.

Indu Siva Ranjani. Credit: The Life of Science

Indu Siva Ranjani. Credit: The Life of Science

It was a sunny but chilly day in Guwahati. Only a week into a new semester, the mood at Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati (IITG) was laid back. At its centre the Serpentine Lake glistened in the winter sun. Its no wonder the sprawling IITG campus is considered one of the most beautiful in the country.

Four years ago, when Indu Siva Ranjani walked into this campus for the first time, everything was completely new and possibly a bit overwhelming. The civil engineer had just taken up a coveted faculty position in the institute; this was the first time she was ever venturing out of her hometown Chennai. Here it is very difficult to survive without Hindi, she told me regretfully, as she hung up on a phone call. Her Hindi had sounded better than mine but as a South Indian who has had Hindi thrust upon her so often, I empathised wholeheartedly.

Ranjani had rebelled with many to come all the way to Guwahati. She had no doubt that the IIT atmosphere would be ideal for her to foster her research. She wasted no time in getting started on her project to develop better building materials for Indian construction.

...

13:30

How Women Bring About Peace and Change in Liberia The Wire

Thousands of Liberian women have banded together to bring about peace and to fight for womens rights. Theyve changed the face of the African nation.

Women wearing their WIPNET T-shirts plan a peace jamboree the day before the Liberian election in October 2017. Credit: Carter Center

Women wearing their WIPNET T-shirts plan a peace jamboree the day before the Liberian election in October 2017. Credit: Carter Center

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was the first woman to lead an African country. Her two terms in office ended with elections last month since, like the United States, presidents in Liberia are barred from serving more than two terms.

Affectionately known as Ma Ellen, Sirleaf took office at the end of a 14 year civil war in which an estimated 200,000 Liberians were killed.

Sickened and fatigued by war, thousands of Liberian women, through mass action, brought about an end to the conflict in 2003.

These same women took great risks to elect Sirleaf on her promise to sustain peace and make gender equality central to her administrations agenda. Some women hid their sons voter ID cards to prevent them from voting for Sirleafs opponent; others tricked the young men into exchanging their cards for beer; still others managed market stalls while their female owners went to register to vote and watched babies so that mothers could vote on Election Day.

These women, many of whom belong to the Women in Peace Building Network (WIPNET), are identifiable by their white t-shirts with blue WIPNET insignia. They are a powerful, widely respected group for what they have accomplished and continue to fight for.

When Sirleaf came to power in 2005, the world was electrified. On Inauguration Day in January 2006, proud Liberians, world leaders and dignitaries watched as she took the oath of office.

Sirleaf singled out the women in the peace movement, thanking them for their coura...

11:03

Reject Territorial Sea Act 2012 to safeguard Sarawaks territorial integrity See Hornbill Unleashed

The state government must be serious in safeguarding Sarawaks territorial integrity by rejecting the application and enforcement of the Territorial Sea Act 2012 in Sarawak, said Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How. It it is only by claiming the full rights to Sarawaks continental shelf in accordance with the Federal Constitution that the state can []

11:02

Sarawak govt to table comprehensive Land Code changes next May Hornbill Unleashed

A comprehensive amendments to the Sarawak Land Code relating to territorial domain and communal forest reserves will be ready for tabling in the May 2018 sitting of the State Legislative Assembly, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said today. He urged the indigenous communities, Dayak non-governmental organisations and interested individuals should let the []

11:02

Sabah, Swak judicial independence under MA63 breached, says PBS Hornbill Unleashed

Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) says that interference in the court systems of Sabah and Sarawak, has strayed from the guarantees under the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) Report and the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63). In a speech at the PBS delegates conference today, the partys outgoing president Joseph Pairin Kitingan said that under the MA63, Sabah and []

11:01

Najib explains federal government stand on Malaysia Agreement Hornbill Unleashed

Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today the federal government has no intention and right to take anything that rightfully belongs to Sabah and its people as provided for in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63). The Prime Minister said that if anything had been taken inadvertently, it must be returned. This is our struggle. It is []

11:01

Call for DBP to fix bible like salt in wound, says Christian group Hornbill Unleashed

An Islamic councils suggestion for Dewan Bahasa Pustaka to correct Christian bibles in Malay was presumptuous and insulting, said the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF). The group noted that beyond contesting Christians on their right to use the Arabic word for God, the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais) was now seeking to dictate how they []

02:05

Revelations of a High-Profile Qatari Official Reveal a Wider anti-Syria Conspiracy New Eastern Outlook

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A few days ago, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Qatar Hamad Bin Jassim in an interview with the BBC announced that his country had been providing all sorts of assistance to the armed opposition groups in Syria through Turkey for years. At the same time, Doha wasnt alone to show its supports to anti-Assad forces, as it was joined by the United States, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the UAE and Turkey itself. All this began back in 2007 after Israel suffered a humiliating defeat in South Lebanon, while being unable to overcome Hezbollahs resistance in 2006. According to the former Qatari Prime Minister, Qatar was in charge of the so-called Syrian Dossier on behalf of the US and Saudi Arabia, adding that he had access to both American and Saudi paperwork on the staging of a so-called Syrian civil war.

Hamad Bin Jassim announced that weapons and equipment was distributed to all sorts of opposition groups via Turkey. This operations were a common routine of American, Turkish and Saudi military personnel in this country. At the same time, the Incirlik Air Force base would host a joint operational headquarters, where intelligence officers from the United States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Morocco, Jordan, Israel, France and Great Britain would coordinate the course of proxy operations in Syria. Washington has gone as far as to dispatch 6 special reconnaissance satellites for those officers to observe the entire territory of Syria 24 hours a day non-stop. This operational command center was in charge of military operations in the north of Syria. As for the operations in southern parts Syria, to coordinate those Washington created a similar command center at the King Hussein Air Base in Jordan , where officers from Jordan, Israel, the United States, Great Britain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar would join their efforts in a bid to outsmart Syrias government.

The former Prime Minister of Qatar announced that a total of 137 billion dollars was wasted on the attempts to topple Assads government since the beginning of the war, while some of these funds were stolen by various field commanders that became millionaires overnight. In addition, considerable resources were wasted on the attempts to bribe Syrias military brass, in attempt to persuade them in betraying their country or desert their positions. On average, a Syrian officer would receive from 15 to 30 thousand dollars for betraying his country.

The former Qatari official would announce that the ex-...

01:28

Trumps Asia Tour Sees Chinese Win-Win in Swing New Eastern Outlook

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Regardless of Trumps pre-election anti-China rhetoric, the US presidents maiden visit to Asia has proved that the US relations with China are far from antagonistic. Two things have happened during this visit that clearly point not only to the deepening economic ties between the US and China but also that the US is gradually losing its erstwhile leverage in Asia. Contentious issues like south and east China seas could hardly be seen to have left any impact whatsoever on the trajectory of the US-China relations, or US relations with its allies. On the other hand, these issues seem to have begun to undergo slight normalization. This is pretty evident from what the Chinese PM Li Keqiang said that China and ASEAN are starting talks on the fine print of the code of conduct for the South China Sea. In addition to it, China agreed, setting Philippines concerns to rest, that access to waterways and airspace in the South China Sea would be unbridled and unfettered.

That China is getting more and more traction by the erstwhile US allies such as the Philippines is evident from the way the Philippine leader effectively used the ASEAN summit to advance not the old South China Sea agenda but his own balancing act of diplomacy between the US and China.

What, however, also became clear during the US-Philippines bi-lateral summit, which largely focused on issues like anti-terrorism and anti-narcotics, is that the US has no economic initiative on the table, after killing TPP, to mend the damage that US-Philippines relations have suffered in recent months. This explains why countries like the Philippines are getting eager to improve bilateral ties with Beijing, which has offered massive economic incentives to friendly neighboring states. This eagerness has been compounded by the US inability to counter the rising Chinese influence in the region.

Chinese premier Li Keqiang, accordingly, extended his stay in Manila beyond the summit to further solidify warming bilateral ties, signing major agreements as well as setting the stage for the state visit of President Xi Jinping in February. Lured by Chinas economic carrots, the Filipino leader has also refrained from criticizing China over its massive reclamation activities and militarization of disputed land features in the South China Sea. On the contrary, and to Chinas advantage, he has even put forward the idea to resolve the issue through bi-lateral means, thus revering efforts by external...

00:30

Amidst Calls for a Ban, India Leads the Debate on Lethal Autonomous Weapons The Wire

At a decisive meeting on the future of LAWS, countries such as Pakistan and Cuba have called for a pre-emptive ban, while others like US, Germany and Russia disagree.

As lethal weapons are becoming increasingly automated, new ethical questions are being raised. Credit: Reuters

As lethal weapons are becoming increasingly automated, this is giving rise to a host of new  questions on the ethics of their use. Credit: Reuters

Geneva: There is no such thing as an ethical robot. There wont be one tomorrow or next week or 50 years from now. Robots are not moral beings, and therefore, the ethical responsibility must always lie with humans, said Margaret Boden, research professor of cognitive science at the University of Sussex.

Boden, who has been working at the intersection of computing and philosophy since the early 1960s, was speaking to the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) gathered at the United Nations office in Geneva to discuss the future of lethal autonomous weapons (LAWS).

This week, academics, non-governmental organisations and representatives of over 80 governments gathered at Palais des Nations for a decisive meeting on the future of LAWS. Organised under the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), the meeting was chaired by Amandeep Gill, permanent representative of India to the Conference on Disarmament.

While no formal definition of LAWS exists, they are generally understood as weapons that once activated,...

00:00

Industry Starts Sending Out Warning Signals Over Indias Coal Shortage The Wire

Coal and railway minister Piyush Goyal has remained curiously silent, even though the current crisis has been sparked by the railways failure to transport adequate amounts of coal.

The complexities of India's coal supply chain are kicking off a crisis. Credit: Reuters

The complexities of Indias coal supply chain are kicking off a crisis. Credit: Reuters

New Delhi: Coal minister Piyush Goyal, who earlier promised to end Indias dependence on imported coal, has gone strangely silent at a time when Indian industry is in the middle of a fuel crisis.

Media-savvy Goyal, who is usually quite vocal and never misses an opportunity to connect with the industry and consumers, has not come out to reassure various sectors that are reeling from coal shortages.

Indeed, as multiple industry sources told The Wire, pleas for help have been met with silence. It has now fallen upon coal secretary Susheel Kumar to field the medias questions on coal shortages.

We dont wish to import coal from anywhere in the world. We have sufficient coal capacity in our country, Goyal said as early as June 12 this year. But this claim now rings hollow, with the industry being forced to step up coal imports to tide over domestic fuel shortages.

In October, total loading of imported coal by the national tr...

Saturday, 18 November

23:59

To Clean Delhis Air, NTPCs Badarpur Plant Must Be Shut Down The Wire

The NCR must seize the possibilities of reclaiming Badarpur as a public space by shutting down NTPCs worst power plant in terms of meeting emissions standards.

An aerial view of Badarpur thermal power station. Credit: Sumita Roy Dutta/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

An aerial view of Badarpur thermal power station. Credit: Sumita Roy Dutta/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

As the Great Delhi Paddy Souper of 2017 lifts, the citys residents rediscover the still-dull shade of blue that, for many days, they could fine only in Facebook photos of friends in cleaner climes. The authorities have been quick to lift emergency measures that had anyway come several days too late. Among the few long term measures that have been proposed is the mixing of crop residue in coal for use by the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), thus building a market for crop residue (to discourage on-field burning) as well as reducing coal use.

As an...

23:45

Wide Angle, Episode 11: Is Chinas Xi Jinping The Strongest Global Leader? The Wire

Ex-Cabinet Secretariat official Jayadeva Ranade, who now heads the Centre for China Analysis and Strategy, analyses in his new book Xi Jinpings China the challenges Xis China poses for India and the world, after his re-appointment as the leader at the Last communist party congress. Will Xis Thought put China on a path of increased assertiveness and aggression?

The post Wide Angle, Episode 11: Is Chinas Xi Jinping The Strongest Global Leader? appeared first on The Wire.

23:30

The Soldiers Used as Guinea Pigs by the US Military, Then Discarded The Wire

During the Second World War, the government subjected thousands of troops to mustard gas tests and kept it a secret.

The US military experimented on about 60,000 enlisted soldiers to study the effects of mustard gas, exposure that affected the health of veterans for the rest of their lives. Courtesy: United States Library of Congress

The US military experimented on about 60,000 enlisted soldiers to study the effects of mustard gas, exposure that affected the health of veterans for the rest of their lives. Courtesy: United States Library of Congress

When we think of the harm that befalls soldiers during wartime, specific images come to mind. The fallout from scientific experiments especially those carried out by our own government isnt one. But that was the reality of tens of thousands of military men in the 1940s, who were poisoned with mustard gas by the US government to see how their bodies would react. It took decades to bring to light the vast scope of the experiments, and it couldnt have been completed without the work of two NPR journalists.

For years, veterans were sworn to secrecy about the tests, prohibited from even discussing them with doctors. While this curtain was lifted in the 1990s, and Congress and the US Department of Veterans Affairs promised medical care and services, many vets didnt get it. NPR reporter Caitlin Dickerson and research librarian Barbara...

23:29

Why Brexits Impact on Asian Researchers Is a Matter of Concern The Wire

If the UK withdraws from the Horizon 2020 programme as part of Brexit, the resulting funding decline will affect thousands of Indian scientists and engineers in the UK.

Credit: Elionas2/pixabay

Credit: Elionas2/pixabay

Aswin Sekhar is an Indian astrophysicist currently based at CEED, University of Oslo, Norway.

Modern day science and research thrives on national and international collaborations. Many of the best research projects today rely on joint funding from multiple countries across continents. The Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT) project is a good example of this concept, where India is also a major player.

Certain projects run on funding from multiple partner countries from the same continent. Notable examples from Europe are the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and CERN. And in the context of joint continental research projects, Horizon 2020, is organised by the European Research Council and the European Commission, is the most prestigious and heavily funded one in the whole world.

It is in this context that Brexit is going to have a crucial impact on joint academic training, research jobs and foreign collaborations. Horizon 2020 is an EUR 80-billion project that aims to integrate and increase academic exchanges between scientists from different countries to make scientific discoveries. Indian scientists, both at senior and junior levels, form a good part of Horizon 2020 as a whole. This will include Indian researchers from the basic sciences, social sciences, medical sciences, technological sciences and so on. Thousands of accomplish...

23:01

Bezos, the WAPO, Edelman and Staying Out of Policy Matters New Eastern Outlook

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I suppose it was inevitable for the technology gurus and digital prostitutes of the world to finally throw in with the technocrats. Events of the last few days prove once and for all, that the deep state and the liberal order are truly all in fighting a total war against moderation and decency. Heres a short story and a caution for all those willing to throw in with the Devil himself.

A decade ago I was one of a handful of technology analysts and bloggers who tested and assessed the function and value of a vast landscape of technical startups. Without launching into a mini-biography here, my job put me at the epicenter of Web 2.0 and later digital developments. Being part of the evangelism of these technologies was enlightening and informative too. But, after a string of rather devastating revelations came to my knowledge, I just got out of the tech space except for the occasional travel technology analysis. Silicon Valley, the whole sub-culture underneath Google, Microsoft, and the social entities, it all began to resemble a rigged numbers game more than a lighthouse on the shore of a hyped sea of entrepreneurship. Excuse my metaphors, but the technocrats and their shenanigans invoke a surreptitious suspicion of darkest evil. Why else would Googles founders tease us with their Do no evil joke? Forget my storytelling here, and just insert He must know a lot about these tech moguls, in the place of this paragraph. Moving forward.

Adam Hirsch is currently an executive vice president at Edelman Digital. Its a great job mostly because Richard Edelman is the most powerful public relations celebrity on Earth. I know Adam from his days with my colleague Pete Cashmore, who founded the tech blog Mashable back in 2005. Adam was the Chief Operating Officer of Mashable from 2007 (when I briefly contributed there) until 2012, but he still advises there. We became friends on Facebook and other social media from 2007. Its not fair to say he and I were real friends, but what happened today demands me profiling him a bit. Onward to the curious case of Edelman PR goes social media political for the Washington Post today.

This morning I was notified by Facebook that Hirsch had waded into the political arena and the anti-Trump fake news area with a post defending Bezos WAPO. So the reader knows, a good many of my technology fans, friends, and colleagues have either unfriended, blocked, or otherwise shunned my digital existence over my political views and my dissent against the globalist narrative now gripping US headlines. I expected...

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