Modi, Sharif hold informal talks at Saarc retreat

(Front L-R) Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani, Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bhutan's Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Maldives' President Abdulla Yameen, Nepal's Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa attend the opening session of 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Kathmandu November 26, 2014. REUTERS/Narendra Shrestha/Pool

(Front L-R) Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bhutan’s Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Maldives’ President Abdulla Yameen, Nepal’s Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa attend the opening session of 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Kathmandu November 26, 2014. REUTERS/Narendra Shrestha/Pool

Kathmandu: In a significant development, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif held informal talks during the 18th Saarc Summit retreat Thursday afternoon.

Both sides maintained silence over the talks and did not divulge any details after the informal meeting.

The effect of the informal talks between Modi and Sharif was immediately reflected in the proposed agreements. The heads of state and government have agreed to sign the Saarc Framework Agreement on Energy Cooperation now and decided to sign two other agreements — relating to movement of motor vehicles and railways — within three months in a big face-saver for 18th Saarc Summit host Nepal in particular and the region as a whole.

Dinesh Bhattarai, foreign relations advisor to Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, who was present at the retreat, confirmed to IANS that both the leaders held informal talks after meeting each other along with other heads of the state and government.

Prime Minster Koirala pushed the leaders of the two South Asian neighbours to sit for talks, at least informally now, and break the logjam in the bilateral India-Pakistan relations.

When the two leaders were talking, other heads of state and government were also there. The retreat is an informal gathering in Saarc summits, and is referred to as “beauty time”.

In his personal talks with Modi, Koirala asked the Indian prime minister to reach out to Pakistan given its stature as Saarc leader, and its size, population and economy.

Though Modi and Sharif shook hands and talked briefly Wednesday, they had not interacted with each other at length. It was still not clear whether the two sides would hold delegation-level talks after the retreat got over Thursday afternoon.

The Saarc leaders, including Modi, Sharif and Koirala, cracked jokes, planted trees and shared personal trivia with each other.

After the retreat, the leaders have agreed to sign the Saarc Framework Agreement on Energy Cooperation which will be announced in the Kathmandu Declaration later Thursday.

Because of the deadlock between India and Pakistan, the fate of three proposed agreements — related to motor vehicles, railways and energy and all pushed by New Delhi — was uncertain until Thursday.

After the retreat and unofficial talks among the leaders, the Saarc leaders have agreed to sign the energy deal now and agreed to complete the other two agreements within three months, Bhattarai said.

Located in the neighbourhood of Kathmandu Valley, the Shangrila Resort in Dhulikhel is famous for its scenic beauty.

“While watching the Himalayas and taking herbal and organic food, Modi and Sharif were seen more open and close,” a diplomat said. “The focus was on how to carry on the Saarc process and how to strengthen bilateral ties.”

The 33 food items served to the leaders were totally vegetarian. Gujarati basundi with jalebi was served to Modi as dessert.


Israeli driver hits, kills Palestinian as "price tag" attacks intensify

Israeli Occupation Forces use pressurized water to disperse Palestinians protesting against illegal Israeli settlement plans in Nablus, West Bank on November 21, 2014. Anadolu / Nedal Eshtayah

Israeli Occupation Forces use pressurized water to disperse Palestinians protesting against illegal Israeli settlement plans in Nablus, West Bank on November 21, 2014. Anadolu / Nedal Eshtayah

by Al-Akhbar

An Israeli bus driver ran over two Palestinians in the northern West Bank, killing one and injuring the other, Palestinian security sources said Tuesday, as Israeli forces detain tens in overnight raids in the occupied West Bank and annexed East Jerusalem.

Nour Hassan Naim Salim, 22, was killed and Alaa Kayid Salim, 20, was injured after being ran over by an Israeli settler driving a bus at the al-Jalama checkpoint in Jenin.

Israeli police and ambulances arrived at the scene and the bus driver was arrested.

Similarly on Monday, an Israeli settler ran over and injured a Palestinian teenager in the Romena neighborhood of West Jerusalem, and on Friday Palestinian woman Suzanne al-Kurd, 29, was also run over by an Israeli settler near the annexed East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shufat.

The Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) monthly report stated that one Palestinian child was killed and six others Palestinians injured, four of them children, after being deliberately hit by Israeli settler vehicles in October.

Besides the hit-and-runs, Israeli settlers have also physically assaulted Palestinians across annexed Jerusalem, in the occupied West Bank, and in Occupied Palestine.

On Monday, five Israeli settlers assaulted 19-year-old Mahmoud Ubeid near the illegal Israeli settlement of French Hill, a day after a Palestinian taxi driver from Kafr Qasim in central Occupied Palestine said he was attacked by 17 Israelis in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Bnei Brak after two of them claimed he tried to run them over.

Hate crimes by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and their property, referred to as “price tag” attacks, are endemic and Israeli authorities rarely intervene in the violent attacks or prosecute the perpetrators.

A report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that there were at least 399 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in 2013.

Unrest has gripped annexed East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank on an almost daily basis for the past four months, flaring up after a group of Zionist settlers kidnapped and brutally killed 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir because of his ethnicity.

Israeli authorities have also allowed Zionist settlers to take over homes in Palestinian neighborhoods both in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and announced plans to build thousands of settlements strictly for Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem while ignoring Palestinian residents.

Last month, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah slammed Israel for failing to hold Zionist settlers accountable for a recent wave of violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

“The Israeli government has never brought settlers to account for the terrorism and intimidation they commit [against Palestinians],” Hamdallah said.

More than 600,000 Israeli settlers, soaring from 189,000 in 1989, live in settlements across the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.

Israeli forces injure Palestinians with “sponge rounds”

Meanwhile, a young Palestinian was hospitalized late Tuesday after an Israeli soldier shot him in the head with a sponge bullet in the al-Tur neighborhood of annexed East Jerusalem, witnesses said.

Medics told Ma’an news agency that the unidentified young man sustained a skull fracture, and was in moderate-to-serious condition.

In a separate incident, Jasir Abu al-Hawa, 55, and his 18-year-old son Ahmed were hit by sponge bullets after Israeli troops fired tear gas and sponge bullets at Palestinian mourners during a funeral in Tur.

According to Majdi al-Abbasi of the Silwan-based Wadi Hilweh Information Center, clashes broke out in al-Luzah and the Bir Ayyub areas of the Silwan neighborhood after Israeli soldiers fired tear gas canisters and sponge bullets at the residents.

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) repeatedly use excessive force against peaceful protests in the occupied West Bank and annexed Jerusalem.

Tens of Palestinians, including children, have been wounded in protests or during Israeli incursions in Jerusalem and West Bank so far this month.

Saleh Samer Attiyeh Mahmoud, 11, was shot in the face at close range by Israeli forces firing sponge bullets during an Israeli incursion into al-Eisawiya village, north of East Jerusalem. He was hit directly between the eyes, causing severe bleeding to his nose and the loss of sight in his left eye. The vision in his right eye is also severely damaged.

A day later, 10-year-old Mayar Amran Twafic al-Natsheh was left with a fractured skull after a sponge bullet, fired by Israeli forces near the Shufat refugee camp checkpoint, smashed through her grandfather’s car window and hit her in the face.

Sponge rounds are made from high-density plastic with a foam-rubber head, and are fired from grenade launchers. Israeli police have been using them in Occupied Palestine and annexed East Jerusalem since the use of rubber-coated metal bullets was prohibited there, but protocol explicitly prohibits firing them at the upper body.

Israeli forces also fired live ammunition at protesters.

Two seventeen-year-old boys were shot while throwing stones, one in the thigh and one in both the hand and foot, and 38-year-old Nariman Tamimi was shot in the thigh at close range in front of her children and family in the village of Nabi Saleh.

Moreover, two Palestinians, 17 and 19, were shot, one in the shoulder and waist and another in the lower jaw, during an Israeli incursion into Beitin village northeast of Ramallah.

Israeli forces detain physically disabled Palestinian woman

Israeli forces on Wednesday took a physically disabled Palestinian woman from the al-Tur neighborhood into custody during a court hearing for her daughter, family members told Ma’an.

Nadia al-Mughrabi, 54, was detained while attending a hearing at an Israeli magistrate court in Jerusalem for her daughter Amani, who was arrested for defending her mother during an Israeli raid on their home the day before.

According to Mohammed Mahmoud, a lawyer for the prisoner rights group Addamir, Nadia was accused of assaulting a police officer and was hence taken to the Russian Compound interrogation center in Jerusalem for questioning.

Meanwhile, the IOF arrested 13 Palestinians in overnight West Bank raids, sources told Ma’an Wednesday, a day after they arrested 11, including 10-year-old Rachid Abu Sarah, in overnight raids in both East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said 13 Palestinians were arrested in the West Bank overnight, one south of Nablus, five south of Ramallah, five near Bethlehem, and two south of Hebron.

Moreover, a former Palestinian prisoner in Hebron and two Palestinian women in annexed East Jerusalem were detained during the day Tuesday.

The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said in a statement that Israeli forces in Hebron detained former prisoner Akram al-Fseisi, who served two years without trial under the administrative detention policy and was released from Israeli custody two months ago after a 70-day hunger strike.

In Jerusalem, 20-year-old Amani Abed al-Mughrabi was detained at her al-Tur home while Latifa Abdul Latif was arrested while leaving the al-Aqsa mosque compound.

The arrests add to the estimated 6,500 Palestinians, including 300 minors, currently being held in Israeli prisons.

Meanwhile, a Palestinian human rights groups reported that a detained Palestinian child was seriously injured during interrogation on November 19 at an Israeli interrogation center in annexed Jerusalem.

The WAFA News Agency said 16-year-old Khader al-Ajlouni was pushed down a flight of stairs at the police station and suffered serious injuries to his neck, arms and back.

At least 600 Palestinian children have been arrested in annexed Jerusalem alone since last June.

According to a report published Friday by the Palestinian Prisoners Club (PPC), nearly 40 percent of these children have been subjected to sexual abuse during arrest or investigation by the Israeli authorities.

The PPC, an independent Palestinian organization set up in 1993, said the “daily arrest campaigns” inflicted on young Palestinians living in Jerusalem are a “collective punishment against Palestinian residents of Jerusalem.”

PPC attorney Mufeed al-Haj said that other violations were reported during the apprehension of children, including but not limited to night and predawn raids on family homes, physical and sexual abuse.

Around 95 percent of detained children were subject to beatings and torture by Israeli security personnel while in detention, while many were forced to make confessions under duress and undergo unfair trials, said Issa Qaraqe, the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) committee on detainees.

A report by Defense for Children International (DCI) published in May 2014 revealed that Israel jails 20 percent of Palestinian children it detains in solitary confinement.

DCI said that minors held in solitary confinement spent an average of 10 days in isolation. The longest period of confinement documented in a single case was 29 days in 2012, and 28 days in 2013.

A report by The Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights, Israeli forces arrested nearly 3,000 Palestinian children from the beginning of 2010 to mid-2014, the majority of them between the ages of 12 and 15 years old.

The report also documented dozens of video recorded testimonies of children arrested during the first months of 2014, pointing out that 75 percent of the detained children are subjected to physical torture and 25 percent faced military trials.

In 2013, the UN children’s fund (UNICEF) reported that Israel was the only country in the world where children were “systematically tried” in military courts and gave evidence of practices it said were “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.”

The Israeli cabinet approved early November a new legislation which will be added to the Israeli penal code and would allow the imposition of a prison sentence up to 20 years for those convicted of throwing stones or other objects at Israeli vehicles.

The roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict date back to 1917, when the British government, in the now-famous Balfour Declaration, called for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Zionist state – a move never recognized by the international community.

(Ma’an, Al-Akhbar)

N. Srinivasan slammed by Supreme Court, asks 'How can BCCI chief own an IPL team?'

Supreme Court, while examining the Justice Mukul Mudgal report on corruption in IPL 2013, raised questions of conflict of interest on N. Srinivasan, putting in doubt the suspended cricket administrator’s re-election as BCCI president.

Narayanaswami Srinivasan (right) with India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Photograph: BCCI

Narayanaswami Srinivasan (right) with India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Photograph: BCCI

by Soumitra Bose, NDTV

New Delhi: In a massive setback for N. Srinivasan, the Supreme Court has slammed the suspended BCCI president for conflict of interest in Indian cricket administration. During a hearing of the Indian Premier League scam probe report on Monday afternoon, the two-member special Bench said: “You can’t make a distinction between BCCI and IPL. IPL a is a by-product of BCCI.” Srinivasan’s company India Cements owns IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings and his son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan has been indicted for betting. Meiyappan was a team official ever since IPL started in 2008. (The IPL spot-fixing and betting saga: A timeline)

The top court said: “The ownership of team raises conflict of interest. President of BCCI has to run the show but you have a team which raises questions and it can’t be wished away”. The BCCI lawyers argued that there is no conflict of interest because Bombay High Court had dismissed this issue. However, Srinivasan is seeking a nod from the Supreme Court to seek re-election as BCCI president. The hearing will resume on Tuesday afternoon. (Sachin Tendulkar tight-lipped over Mudgal report)

On Srinivasan’s chances of getting another term as BCCI boss, the judges said: “One of the employees (Gurunath Meiyappan) of your team was involved in betting. You have to reply because it will affect the position and the dignity of BCCI president position.” The judges added: “The benefit of doubt should go to the game and not an individual.”

The court’s mood is very clear. Although, conflict of interest was not directly in the ambit of Mudgal’s probe, the Supreme Court judges hinted a person who owns an IPL franchise against whom there are issues of corruption, cannot ethically be the leader of BCCI. “You are assuming a clean chit,” the judges told Srinivasan.

Srinivasan has been suspended as BCCI president by the Supreme Court till investigations into corruption in IPL were over. His son-in-law Meiyappan, identified as a team principal by the inquiry panel headed by former judge Justice Mukul Mudgal, has been indicted for betting. Chennai Super Kings, led by India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, are two-time IPL champions. Srinivasan had called Meiyappan a “cricket enthusiast” who was not a stake-holder in Chennai Super Kings.

The judges said: “Some people who are in BCCI now own a team. Now it has become a mutual benefit society.” They added: “If people know that a game is fixed who will visit the stadium? In India, cricket is like a religion. Recognition comes when one lakh people in Eden Gardens applaud.”

ICC’s first chairman, Srinivasan is seeking a second term as Board president. The BCCI AGM is scheduled on December 17. The probe report said Srinivasan, is “not involved with match fixing activity” and “not found to be involved in scuttling the investigations into match fixing”. However, the report charged him and other IPL officials of “cover up” of misdeeds of an unnamed player who violated Players Code of Conduct. The report called these “misdemeanours.”

(With inputs from A. Vaidyanathan)

Dangerous levels of Global Warming are unavoidable, says the World Bank


by Laura Dattaro, Vice News

Global temperatures will rise nearly 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, above pre-industrial levels by the middle of the century regardless of actions taken to curb emissions, according to a report from the World Bank released Sunday. The rising temperatures are already disproportionately affecting developing countries and the world’s poorest citizens.

Current energy demands mean the world is committed to emitting more greenhouse gases, which will stay in the atmosphere for decades. That means that even with “very ambitious mitigation action,” the report states, temperatures will continue to rise past the 0.8 degrees Celsius increase already seen today.

“That’s a big message,” Samantha Smith, head of climate for the WWF, told VICE News. “Globally, what all countries have agreed to is that they’re going to keep warming under two degrees Celsius. This report is telling us that 1.5 degrees is too much for a lot of people.”

In the three areas examined in the new report — Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and North Africa, and the Western Balkans and Central Asia — climate change will lead to reduced crop yields and worsened drought, bringing threats to water supplies. In Brazil, soybean crop yields could decrease by as much as 70 percent, and wheat by as much as 50 percent, if temperatures increase two degrees by 2050. Jordan, Egypt, and Libya could see crop yields decrease by 30 percent.

In Russia, melting permafrost and tree death in boreal forests are releasing stored methane and carbon, adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. A similar pattern is being seen in the Amazon rainforest, which absorbs 20 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted from the burning of fossil fuels, according to the environmental organization Amazon Watch. A two degree increase could wipe out 90 percent of coral reefs, devastating coastal ecosystems and the economies and fisheries that depend on them.

“When we talk to policy makers, they seem to be able to pivot and think extreme weather events are not affecting us right now,” Sasanka Thilakasiri, policy advisor for Oxfam International, told VICE News. “To me, the report is important in just sort of saying these impacts are happening now, and we’re on a path to having them even more exacerbated if we don’t do anything.”

The report, which was authored by researchers at The Potsdam Institute, a German climate research center, linked recent extreme heat in the observed regions to climate change with 80 percent certainty.

The report comes at a busy moment for climate change negotiations — just one week before a United Nations climate conference in Peru and two weeks after the United States and China, the two largest emitters, announced a joint agreement on emissions reductions. President Obama committed the United States to cutting emissions 26-28 percent by 2025 compared to 2005 levels, while China’s president Xi Jinping said his country’s emissions would peak “around 2030.”

‘This is a problem for both rich and poor.’

Last week, 30 nations pledged $9.3 billion over the next four years to the Green Climate Fund, designed to help developing nations reduce emissions and adapt to the consequences of climate change caused largely by the actions of richer nations. The United States pledged $3 billion. At the fund’s inception, it was envisioned to provide $100 billion a year by 2020.

“This is a problem for both rich and poor,” Thilakasiri told VICE News. “It’s in everyone’s best interest that we can provide the financing that’s needed to move the global economy away from our carbon habit.”

The World Bank hasn’t invested any funds in coal use in the last five years but it did not make a commitment to divesting entirely from fossil fuel exploration and technology development.

“We cannot ask these energy-poor countries to wait until there are ways of, for example, ensuring that solar and wind power can provide the kind of base load that all countries need in order to industrialize,” Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank, said. “We believe very strongly that the poorest countries have a right to energy. And all of the fossil fuel burning, for example, in Africa, would not contribute any significant amount to the overall carbon that’s in the air.”

While the World Bank’s overall investments in fossil fuels have decreased since 2008, the organization spent $1 billion financing fossil fuel exploration in 2013, according to Oil Change International

“That, from our perspective, is a problem, because it is exactly these kinds of projects that are burning the stuff that’s causing climate change,” WWF’s Smith told VICE News. “When it comes to developed countries shouldering their weight, we’re seeing some political signals, but they’re very far from being strong enough or fast enough or at the scale that we need to really do something.”

Noam Chomsky visits Julian Assange

Noam Chomsky Julian Assange

by teleSUR

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has received a visit from one of his most prominent supporters.

U.S. academic and political dissident Noam Chomsky visited Wikileaks founder Julian Assange Tuesday, despite an ongoing police presence outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

The two made a brief appearance on the embassy balcony. According to Wikileaks, Assange and Chomsky went on the balcony to “take in the view of the police operation against the Ecuadorian embassy.”

The embassy has been encircled by a 24-hour police presence for two years. Assange has been trapped in the embassy since 2012, when he applied for asylum.

Ecuador subsequently granted him asylum. However, the U.K. government has refused to allow him safe passage to Ecuador, arguing British authorities are obliged to extradite him to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning in relation to allegations of sexual misconduct.

Assange claims if he is sent to Sweden, he would face a serious risk of extradition to the United States, where he fears he would face charges in relation to the disclosure of classified government documents.

Chomsky, a world reknowned linguist and analyst of global affairs, has previously expressed support for Assange.

“Someone who courageously carries out actions in defense of democratic rights deserves applause, not hysterical denunciation and punishment,” Chomsky once stated regarding Assange.

For more on Assange, check out teleSUR English’s interview with the Wikileaks founder.

(Reuters, AFP, Wikileaks)

Modi’s Kashmir visit coincides with Babri Masjid demolition


Srinagar/Authintmail: Prime minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Indian administered Kashmir will coincide with the demolition of the historic Babri Masjid.

Modi will address his first election rally in Kashmir on December 6 which was when, in 1992, rampaging mobs of Hindu zealots tore down Babri Masjid located in Ayodhya town of Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.

The demolition was blamed on the right-wing Kar Sevaks associated with RSS, which is the parent organization of Modi’s Bhartiya Janta Party.

The consequences of the demolition of 16th century mosque are still felt across India where riots are a common occurrence in many parts.

Modi is likely to address voters in Srinagar which will be his first rally in Kashmir.

His party has sought permission from the state government to hold the rally at Sher-i-Kashmir Cricket Stadium in Srinagar.

Thousands of people are expected to participate in the rally with BJP sources saying that people from 10 districts of the region are going to attend it.

Future in Safe Palms


by Anand Mazgaonkar

Ms. Smriti Irani consulting her astrologer is her private matter. In fact most things she does might be private matters. Election victory does turn things into private property. Astrological advice is the wisest thing one can do. It is her sacrifice for the Nation. We all know she has very selflessly dedicated herself to the service of the nation.

It is not only an absolutely self-abnegating act on her part, she’s had the foresight to ensure that there will be no vacuum when Mr Pranab Mukherjee finishes his term. Shri Nathulal Vyas has put to rest a whole Nation’s anxiety and reassured us that there will be continuity after Mr Pranab Mukherjee. Our bull run of happy days, ‘Achhe Din’ continues endlessly. For the first time in our country’s history we have a President-in-waiting.

She is indeed the most eligible person we have for President. For long we’ve experienced a dearth of talent in Rashtrapati Bhavan. It’s been long since someone like Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed or Giani Zail Singh adorned that office.

Who better can we have as President than someone who’s ‘educated’ at Yale, has acted in soap operas, and has been flexible in ‘altering’ her opinions and positions. Remember she was distressed by the violence in Gujarat in 2002, and the then Chief Minister’s handling of the situation, until better wisdom dawned on her and she ‘adapted’ her opinion. Since then its been ‘Achche Din’ for her, never mind loss of elections. She generously wants to share her fortune with the country now.

Where the Nation’s Education is concerned, never mind an unclear, distorted, mis-stated, over-stated personal educational record, a future foretold by astrologers is what must guide us.

Becoming Minister immediately after losing elections is easy, especially if you’re not alone. Remember Mr Arun Jaitley also belongs to that chosen breed? Becoming President in case of an election defeat may need a Constitutional amendment. But, that is a small matter if an astrologer has ordained it.

Luckily, astrology must have been the guiding principle in the whole Cabinet formation. Mr Nitin Gadkari (Qualification: Purti fame), Mr Nihal Chand Meghwal (Qualification: Rape charge), Mr D V Sadanand Gowda (Qualification: Successful defence of son from rape charge) are shining examples where business dealings, criminal charges or their children’s actions added a feather in their caps.

In any case our electoral system does need reform. Even Mr Arvind Kejriwal has been calling for it. MPs, and MLAs deciding who will hold the country’s highest office is absolutely irrational. That should be entrusted to a Khap Panchayat consisting of astrologers, religious luminaries and Corporate honchos.

Today, India’s Education is in safe hands, tomorrow every aspect of India’s future, including ceremonial future will be in safe hands. Mrs. Irani’s formidable record as Human Resources Development Minister inspires tremendous confidence. As HRD Minister she’s has not executed blindly, unilaterally, the Sangh Parivar’s Education and Culture agenda, she seems to have consulted astrologers too.

Hopefully, our next Budget may be determined by Mr Nathulal Vyas’ (or someone from his profession) reading of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s palm. Actually, Mr Vyas reading Adani’s or Ambani’s palm might be even better. Fotunately that’s how SBI’s $ 1 billion loan to Adanis Australian coal mining project seems to have been cleared.

(Anand Mazgaonkar is with Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, Gujarat and Adviser to National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM))

Australian batsman Phillip Hughes is dead

Phillip Hughes

Sydney: Australian batsman Phillip Hughes, who was struck on the head by a cricket ball died in hospital, authorities said Thursday.

The incident took place when Hughes was playing in a Sheffield Shield match at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Hughes has died, said Cricket Australia in a statement Thursday.

“He never regained consciousness following his injury on Tuesday,” Sydney Morning Herald cited the statement as saying.

“He was not in pain before he passed and was surrounded by his family and close friends. As a cricket community we mourn his loss and extend our deepest sympathies to Phillip’s family and friends at this incredibly sad time.”

Hughes, 25, has been in an induced coma since the accident Tuesday afternoon.


Nine soldiers indicted for Kashmir killings

Hundreds join the funeral prayers of two youths killed in Army firing in Chattergam area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district late Monday evening. Photo: Faisal Khan

Hundreds join the funeral prayers of two youths killed in Army firing in Chattergam area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district late Monday evening. Photo: Faisal Khan

Srinagar: Nine soldiers have been indicted for killing two youth in Jammu and Kashmir’s Budgam district Nov 3 and will face court martial, the army said here Thursday.

“Nine soldiers of the 53 Rashtriya Rifles (RR), including a junior commissioned officer, have been indicted for the firing incident in Chattergam area in which two youth were killed.

“The court of inquiry appointed to probe the firing has found gross violation of rules of engagement by the involved soldiers. They have been indicted. There has been a total failure of the command by the officer in charge,” a senior army officer told IANS here.

Widespread public anger followed the killings of two youth – Faisal Yusuf Bhat and Mehrajuddin Dar – in Chattergam area of Budgam district Nov 3 by a mobile vehicle check post set up by the soldiers of 53 RR.

The army had initially said the car in which the youth were travelling had not halted at the security checkpoint.

Lieutenant General D.S. Hooda, GOC-in-C of army’s northern command, later admitted the deployed column of the RR had overstepped its brief and violated the rules of engagement while opening fire at the car.


A TED-Ed Lesson Explaining How Breathing Triggers a Complex System to Transport Oxygen Throughout the Body

In the TED-Ed lesson “How Do the Lungs Work?,” beautifully animated by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club and scored by Dave Feddock, educator Emma Bryce explains how the body uses a complex system to transport oxygen triggered solely through the simple act of breathing.

Breathing, in other words, keeps the body alive. So, how do we accomplish this crucial and complex task without even thinking about it? The answer lies in our body’s respiratory system. Like any machinery, it consists of specialized components, and requires a trigger to start functioning. Here, the components are the structures and tissues making up the lungs, as well as the various other respiratory organs connected to them. And to get this machine moving, we need the autonomic nervous system, our brain’s unconscious control center for the vital functions.