Monday, 29 September 2014

Global news


US doctor exposed to Ebola virus in Sierra Leone admitted to NIH

A US doctor who was exposed to the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone has been admitted to a hospital at the National Institutes of Health near Washington, AP said. The patient, who was not identified, arrived at NIH’s Clinical Center about 4pm on Sunday, NIH said. The physician, who volunteered in Sierra Leone, was admitted to a special isolation unit out of “an abundance of caution.” The center said that an exposure to Ebola doesn’t necessarily mean someone will become sick. Four other American aid workers who were sickened by Ebola have been treated at hospitals in Georgia and Nebraska. Three have recovered, and one remains hospitalized.

Mexico arrests 22 police after violence in Guerrero state

Twenty-two local police have been arrested following the deaths of six people in the Mexican state of Guerrero. Unidentified gunman and numerous officers were involved in several violent incidents late Friday and early Saturday in Iguala, about 200km south of Mexico City, AP said. Three students were killed in two separate incidents, according to State Attorney General Inaki Blanco Cabrera. Another three people died in an attack on a bus – a minor, a woman and the bus driver. The violence began when police clashed with students from a teachers college who had seized three buses. Gunmen later fired shots at two taxis and a bus carrying a local soccer team.

Rescuers suspend recovery of bodies at Japanese volcano

Toxic gases and ash forced Japanese soldiers to suspend the recovery effort at the peak of a still-erupting volcano in the early afternoon on Monday. They earlier managed to bring down eight more bodies from 3,067-meter Mt. Ontake by helicopter, AP said. At least 31 people are believed to have died. Four victims were flown down Sunday, and rescuers had returned to the mount to try to recover the remaining 27. It remains unclear how the people died, whether from gases, suffocating ash, falling rocks or other causes.

Blast hits near Kabul Airport as people gather for new president’s inauguration

A suicide bomber attacked a security checkpoint near the airport in Afghanistan’s capital on Monday, security sources say. The attack came minutes before new President Ashraf Ghani was sworn in, Reuters reported. There were casualties, according to witnesses. Dignitaries had gathered in Kabul for Ghani’s inauguration, who is taking over from longtime leader Hamid Karzai.

Hong Kong govt withdraws riot police as protests calm down

Hong Kong authorities say they have withdrawn riot police from city streets after protests began to calm down, AP reported. A government spokesman called on protesters to leave protest areas as peacefully as possible. Pro-democracy demonstrators upset over Beijing’s decision to limit political reforms earlier defied onslaughts of tear gas and appeals from Hong Kong’s top leader to go home. Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying reportedly reassured the public that speculation that the Chinese army might intervene was untrue.

Afghanistan inaugurates new president

Ashraf Ghani  the Afghanistan’s new president, in a historic democratic power handover which has seen President Hamid Harzai step down. The technocrat Ghani is to head a power-sharing government that was put together after months of deadlock over a vote in which both Ghani and opponent Abdullah Abdullah claimed victory. One of Ghani’s first acts as president is expected to be signing a bilateral security agreement to allow American forces to remain. Karzai has refused to sign it, but both Ghani and Abdullah are in favor of sealing the deal.

Le Pen’s far-right party claims first ever seats in French Senate

The far-right National Front won its first ever seats in France’s upper house of parliament on Sunday, while the Socialist party of President Francois Hollande’s lost its Senate majority, Reuters reports. The party, led by Marine Le Pen, took two seats in the Senate, following on from its surprise victory in European parliamentary elections in May and its strong showing in municipal elections in March. Early results showed that the main opposition party, the UMP, and the center-right UDI party took at least 20 seats from the Social party, which had a Senate majority of just six heading into the election. Final results are to be released later on Sunday.

15 dead in Al-Qaeda-linked car bomb attack in Yemen

A suicide bomber linked to Al-Qaeda drove a car laden with explosives into a hospital used as a base by Yemen’s Shi’ite Muslim Houthi movement, killing at least 15 people, Reuters reports. “Dozens of dead and wounded from the rejectionist Houthis in a martyrdom operation by Ansar al-Sharia using a booby-trapped car in Maarib,” the militant group wrote on Twitter. Houthi fighters seized the country’s capital Sanaa last week from the Sunni Muslim Islah party and refuse to leave the city despite an agreement they signed with the president to make them a part of the government.

US-led airstrikes destroy three ISIS makeshift refineries in Syria

Air strikes believed to have been carried out by the US-led coalition hit three Islamic State makeshift oil refineries in Syria’s Raqqa province, Reuters reports. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attacks occurred shortly after midnight, adding that a plastic factory was also targeted. However, the group stressed that the destruction of refineries didn’t affect ISIS much, but led to sharp increase in the price of diesel for ordinary Syrians. The US-led forces began performing airstrikes aimed at weakening the Islamic State in Iraq on August 8, with the operation spreading to Syria on September 16.

Islamic State’s leader from Kuwait killed in a fight with PKK

One of the Islamic State’s leaders Kuwaiti Khalid al-Anzi was killed by PKK fighters when the IS stormed the group’s headquarters in the mainly Kurdish town of Ain al-Arab, Kuwaiti newspaper Alrai reported. After the beginning of the Syrian unrest in 2011, al-Anzi joined the terrorist group al-Nusra, but then left it to join the ISIS. He became known after a video was posted online showing al-Anzi beheading one of the Kurds.

8 killed as 4.9 magnitude quake hits Peruvian village

At least eight people have died as a 4.9-magnitude earthquake hit a remote Andean village near Cuzco, Peru, destroying homes late Saturday night, a Peruvian civil defense official said. The quake was at a depth of 8 kilometers. It destroyed a total 15 homes, leaving 75 people homeless, local RPP Radio reported. Emergency authorities are continuing to search for victims.

USGS: 4.8 earthquake shakes Iceland

A 4.8 magnitude earthquake has hit Iceland, some 217 kilometers (135 miles) from the capital, Reykjavik, the US Geological Survey has reported. The epicenter of the quake was located at a depth of 7 kilometers. There have been no reports of damage and injuries.

Iranian President heads to Russia for Caspian Sea summit

Iran President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday flew to Astrakhan, in Russia, where he will participate in the 4th Caspian Sea Summit. Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are the five littoral states of the Caspian Sea, which acquired special geopolitical significance following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the emergence of newly independent countries. Rouhani flew to Russia following a trip to New York, where he attended the 69th annual session of the United Nations General Assembly.

​6 killed in wave of violence in Mexico

Authorities are investigating the killing of six people in the town in Guerrero in southwest Mexico, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) south of Mexico City. State Attorney General Inaki Blanco Cabrera said the initial violence, which occurred late Friday and early Saturday, involved a clash between police and students who had seized three buses with the intention of driving them to the state capital of Chilpancingo for a demonstration, AP reported. Blanco Cabrera said police killed two protesters. Several hours later, a bus carrying a local soccer team was hit by gunfire, killing three. An investigation into the violence is under way.

​Explosion hits Kabul ahead of president’s inauguration

An explosion has struck the diplomatic quarter of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, a day before the inauguration ceremony for the country’s new president, Ashraf Ghani. The blast took place in Zanbaq Square, close to the Iranian and Turkish embassies, journalists in the city reported, adding that the explosion might be a result of a magnetic bomb on an Afghan army vehicle.”At 9:15 this morning, a sticky bomb attached to an Afghan army vehicle exploded in Zanbaq Square … only injuring the driver,” Najib Danish, Interior Ministry deputy spokesman, told Reuters. Ghani succeeds outgoing president Hamid Karzai, the only Afghan leader since the 2001 US-led invasion.

​Russian Proton-M rocket launches comms satellite

A Proton-M heavy rocket has successfully put into orbit a Russian Luch communication satellite. It is now being boosted to the designated geostationary orbit by the rocket’s third state. The launch on Saturday night was the first for Proton since a crash in May, when a rocket’s third stage with payload failed to detach on time and fell back to Earth. The incident prompted a delay of Proton launches while an investigation was carried out.

​Canadian CEO sentenced to 15 years in prison in Cuba for bribery, corruption

A Cuban court has sentenced 74-year-old Canadian automobile executive Cy Tokmakjian to 15 years in prison for bribery and other economic and corruption-related charges, his company, the Tokmakjian Group, announced on Saturday, describing the case as “absurd” and a “travesty of justice.” His two aides received sentences of 12 and 8 years, the Ontario-based transportation firm said in a statement. The company’s Cuban offices were raided in 2011 in an anti-graft investigation and round $100 million worth of the company’s assets were seized.

​ US to bomb ISIS positions for three years, Syrian FM says

The United States plans to launch strikes against so-called Islamic State (IS) targets in Syria over a three year period, Russian news agencies cite Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem as saying. Muallem said that Damascus had been informed of the US strikes, but“that does not mean we approve of them.” A US-Arab coalition began bombing IS militants in Syria on Tuesday. On Friday, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that the Pentagon had already launched 43 airstrikes in the country. Additional strikes were launched in the central province of Homs and the northern region of Raqqa on Saturday, The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Hong Kong police arrest over 60 protesters, nearly 30 injured

Police in Hong Kong arrested more than 60 people on Saturday after a night of clashes with student protesters in which nearly 30 people were injured, according to security forces. The protesters, led by a group called Occupy Central, rallied against Beijing’s control over the elections of the city’s leader in 2017. Chinese authorities earlier decided that any potential candidates must first be approved by a Beijing-friendly committee.

Egyptian court postpones verdict in Mubarak retrial

An Egyptian court has postponed its ruling in the retrial of former President Hosni Mubarak until November. The court needs more time to complete its “justifications” in the case, Judge Mahmoud Kamel el-Rashid said. After the decision was announced, clashes broke out between Mubarak’s supporters and opponents, in which several people were reportedly injured. The 86-year-old former president is charged with complicity in the killings of protesters during the 2011 revolt that led to his ouster.

Top Liberian doctor goes under Ebola quarantine

Liberia’s chief medical officer has placed herself under quarantine after her assistant died of Ebola. Bernice Dahn, a deputy health minister told AP she had not exhibited any symptoms of Ebola, but wanted to be certain she had not been infected. Liberia’s government had asked people to undergo a 3 week quarantine if they believed they had been exposed. Dahn, acknowledging that “we made the rules,” said “I did it on my own.”The minister has represented Liberia at regional conferences to battle the ongoing epidemic, which has killed more than 3,000 people worldwide, according to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) figures. Liberia has been hit particularly hard by the outbreak, with 150 people reportedly dying in just two days.

Iran ready to counter possible Islamic State attack – military commander

Iran’s Armed Forces are “fully prepared” to repel any potential threats from the Islamic State militants, Brigadier General Ahmadrez Pourdastan, Commander of the Iranian Army’s Ground Forces, said. “If the ISIL terrorist group intends to come near the country’s borders, we will target them deep inside the Iraqi territory,”Pourdastan is cited by PressTV. Iranian forces have been deployed in the country’s western border regions to beef up security there, he added. The jihadist Islamic State has claimed large parts of land in Iraq and Syria, and plans to expand its territory, despite the ongoing airstrikes by the US and its allies.

​US-led airstrikes against IS continue in Syria

The US-led strikes against Islamist militants have entered a fifth day in Syria, media report, citing unanimous military officials. In the previous strikes dozens of Islamic State militants and 10 civilians, including children, were killed in northeast of the country, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The US is aided by several Arab countries in the Syrian bombings. The campaign in neighboring Iraq is supported by France, the UK, Denmark, Belgium, The Netherlands and Australia.

​Hong Kong police clash with students in occupied govt HQ

Hong Kong police used pepper spray to disperse a crowd of student protesters, which last night took over the governmental HQ close to the city’s financial district. Several thousand people are taking part in a week-long protest campaign, but it didn’t turn violent before. The protesters from the Occupy Central movement object to Beijing’s refusal for electoral reform in the Asian financial center, which would provide for a general election in 2017. The Beijing central government agreed to some changes in the current electoral college system, but the protesters demand a complete overhaul.

​Ontake volcano erupts in Japan

The Ontake volcano in Japan’s Nagano prefecture 200 kilometers west of Tokyo started erupting, reported NHK citing Japan’s Meteorological Agency. It began at about 11:00 local time (02:00 GMT) as a column of ash rose some 3 kilometers high. A level 3 volcano alert was declared on a 1 to 5 scale. Ontake is the second highest volcano in Japan at 3,067 meters. It was inactive until 1979, but then it underwent a series of eruptions. The latest was in 2007.

Sharad Yadav on To integrated Janata Dal


            In an effort to unite the disintegrated Janata Dal parivar, it has been decided by Janata Dal (U) and Indian National Lok Dal ( INLD) to go together in the ensuing Assembly elections in the State of Haryana.  JD (U) and INLD had good political relations since the time of late Chaudhary Devi Lal, and our endeavour is to re-unite in the same way as was in the past in view of the present political situation in the country.  We have understood that the political challenges which have emerged recently can be faced only when the old Janata parivar comes together immediately, otherwise it will be too late.
Further, INLD has assured that JD(U) would be part and parcel of their Government if comes to power in order to face the emerging challenges in the country.  Since the State of Haryana is an immediate neighbour of Delhi, it is in the fitness of things to bring back old Janata Dal parties together so that the message travels to the Capital of the country to keep the dividing forces away from power.   My personal efforts are to energize our relations with our old party colleagues. Also, I am sure that our initiative to go together would bring results in the coming elections in Haryana in favour of the above alliance of JD(U) and INLD.
                                                                          SHARAD YADAV )
                                                                                    National President

America’s business is business: Improving Indo-US ties depends on getting the economics right

Dr. Rajiv Kumar
Today at 1:30 PM
Dear Mr. Sagar
The article below appeared in the Times of India on September 24th 2014.
Your feedback and response will be truly appreciated.
Best regards
Rajiv Kumar 


Improving Indo-US ties depends on getting the economics right

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to the US has aroused great interest in India — expectedly so — but surprisingly also here. In Pakistan they are speculating, for obvious reasons, about how strong the India-US relationship is likely to become and hoping that Modi and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting. The visit, coming as it does after Modi’s sojourns in Nepal and Japan and the Chinese president’s visit to India, is seen as the culmination of his bilateral foreign policy priorities.
During his US visit, Modi will hopefully focus sharply on improving business to business (B2B) ties between the two countries. He must already know that the principal drivers of US foreign and geostrategic policy are underlying interests of US big business and its MNCs. On our part too, Indian exporters need greater access to the $15 trillion US market to be able to achieve a qualitative jump in our export effort, essential for generating much-needed employment.
Our SMEs have an insatiable appetite for new products, process technologies and access to marketing networks. It is therefore imperative that Modi is successful in enthusing US private business into joining his ‘Make in India’ campaign. It is worth remembering that no emerging economy has successfully undertaken its economic transition in recent decades without access to the US market, its frontline technologies and MNC networks.
This effort will admittedly be transactional in nature. However, there is nothing illegitimate about focussing on transactional issues if that serves India’s national interest. We have to overcome mistrust in India-US B2B relations to build a truly strategic partnership without joining or appearing to join the US camp.
To build trust, Modi will have to convince hard-headed US business leaders. He can do so by: listening though not necessarily agreeing to all that is said; finalising the bilateral investment treaty (BIT); clearly identifying a major defence project for a US consortium; assuring that the insurance Bill will be passed in the next parliamentary session along with the one for foreign universities, permitting high quality US universities to open campuses in India; proposing a large scale and ambitious green energy R&D project involving collaboration bet-ween the two countries; tackling the vexed intellectual property protection issue by urging US corporates to distinguish bet-ween executive action and judicial activism in India; and renewing the 10-year India-US defence agreement.
He should not waste his poli-tical capital by bringing up the issue of India’s membership of the UN Security Council. He knows that India’s time will come when it has built the needed economic and strategic clout.
But most of all, Modi will rise hugely in the estimation of the US people and their corporate and political leaders if he does not stand on protocol or personal ego and chooses to address gathered businessmen at the US Chamber of Commerce. Ideally he should walk across from there for his summit at the White House! This will lay the foundation for his sustained popularity in the US, which he needs given that he is starting his innings and President Obama’s administration is in its final phase already.
Modi could achieve another major breakthrough by meeting Nawaz Sharif in New York. Let’s hope it is not already too late to be on his agenda. It will further endear him to his US hosts who are keen to see an Indo-Pak rapprochement. This will surely raise Sharif’s political stature in these beleaguered times in Pakistan. India owes this to Sharif who made improvement in Indo-Pakistan ties a central plank of his election campaign and accepted Modi’s invitation to attend the swearing-in ceremony, reportedly against explicit advice from powerful stakeholders in Pakistan.
Modi could additionally offer to finalise the long pending bilateral MoU on power exports from India to Pakistan and increase the frequency of high level political contacts between the two countries. While presenting all our security concerns for Sharif’s attention, Modi should make the unilateral offer of normalising our bilateral visa regime and open some more land borders bet-ween the two countries.
There is strong support among Pakistani civil society and businessmen for improving ties with India. There is also the perception that with his pragmatic approach and unprecedented democratic mandate, which is even larger than the one received by A B Vajpayee, Modi can afford to take the calculated risk of initiating an improvement in Indo-Pak ties, while drawing deeper red lines on anti-terrorist concerns.
It is important for him to prevent anti-Indian segments in Pakistan from gaining more ground vis-a-vis those who support better ties between the two countries. A gesture in New York has the potential to dramatically alter the scene in the subcontinent. Given his unambiguously stated priority of improving India’s relations in the neighbourhood, i expect Modi to make that gesture and earn gratitude not only from all South Asians but the entire global community that is concerned about the stability and prosperity of South Asia.

Author is a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research. He is also the Director of 
Pahle India Foundation and his most recent book is Exploding Aspirations.


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