6th Yashwant International Film Festival 2016 To Be Organised From 22nd Jan 2016 to 28th Jan 2016


Yashwant International Film Festival, acclaimed as a treat for ardent movie connoisseurs, has been organised from 22nd Jan 2016 to 28th Jan 2016, at the Chavan Centre in Mumbai. The film festival, a joint venture of the Yashwantrao Chavan Pratishthan, Mumbai & Pune Film Festival, Pune in association with the Government of Maharashtra, will enter its 6th year.

The “6th Yashwant International Film Festival 2016 will be inaugurated by the President of the Pratishthan, Sharadrao Pawar on 22nd Jan, 2016, Friday at 4.00 pm. On this occasion, the award that is conferred to a senior actor each year for their extraordinary & significant contribution in movies will be awarded to Waheeda Rehman by Sharadrao Pawar.

5 films will be screened in each of the main auditorium, Rangswar auditorium & the cultural auditorium of Yashwantrao Chavan Centre every day during this film festival through the technologies like DCP, Blue ray, DVD, 35 MM, DG Beta. The film that was accolade by 1st rank in the Pune International Film Festival will be screened at the inauguration ceremony of this event in the main auditorium of the centre.

Overall, around 75 films will be screened during the festival as part of the varied sections. These will include 40 films in the category of Global Cinema, 5 Retrospective, 7 Country Focus, 5 Indian films, 5 Marathi films, and 10 films in the category of student competition. The screening of the movies will begin at 10 a.m. during the festival.

This year, the festival is organising a short film competition too, for the student filmmakers to submit their films. The topic for the short film competition is “Changing Maharashtra” and the length of this film should not be more than 5 minutes. The 1st three winners of the competition will be awarded with prizes of Rs. 1,00,000; Rs.75,000 & Rs. 50,000, respectively. An independent panel has been appointed to select the winners of this competition.

The highlight of the film festival is that it will comprise of a plethora of academic programs or activities. Likewise, “Smita Patil Memorial Lecture” has been arranged, which will provide significant information on the latest technology & innovations by renowned & eminent personalities. Also, a workshop has been organised for the students who are participating in this short – film making competition. In the segment “Watching Films with Expert,” the participants will receive an opportunity to discuss the films displayed in the festival with a well – known movie analyst.

Those who wish to savour the festival and for entry passes of the 6th Yashwant International Film Festival, an amount of Rs. 400/- will be charged as the catalog fees, whereas, a fee of Rs. 200/- will be charged for the members of Film Club, students & senior citizens.

US sued over donations for illegal Israeli settlements

Lawsuit targets US Treasury Department for allowing billions in tax-exempt donations to support Israel’s landgrabs.


by Ali Younes, Al Jazeera

A lawsuit has been filed in a US court seeking to stop non-profit groups from sending billions of dollars worth of tax-exempt donations to support illegal Israeli settlements and the Israeli army.

A group of American citizens filed the suit on December 21 against the US Department of Treasury, claiming about 150 non-profits have sent an estimated $280bn to Israel over the past two decades.

The lawsuit claims the donations were “pass-throughs” and “funnels” to support the Israeli army and the illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

In the US Internal Revenue Code, these organisations are identified as “501(c)(3)”, and donors are given tax-exempt status and allowed to claim a tax deduction on their gift.

Sheldon Adelson, an American casino magnate, and several other wealthy pro-Israeli businessmen were named in the lawsuit as donors but not as defendants.

The Treasury Department declined to comment on the suit, stating in an email to Al Jazeera: “We don’t comment on pending litigation.”

Susan Abulhawa, a Palestinian-American writer and human rights activist who  put her name on the 73-page lawsuit, said it is about seeking justice for the Palestinian people.


“I want those organisations that aided Israel to be forced to pay restitutions for victims impacted by their actions,” Abulhawa said.

The lawsuit claims non-profit groups directly contributed to violations of US law and international law, subverted US foreign policy, and contributed to countless crimes and human rights abuses targeting Palestinians.

“For 30 years at least, the US taxpayer has been funding and/or subsidising criminal activities overseas, ie murder, arson, malicious property destruction, assault and battery and ethnic cleansing and international terrorist acts,” it said.

The attorney for the plaintiffs, Martin F McMahon, said the US Department of Treasury should not just end the tax exemption, but should also recoup hundreds of millions of dollars in back taxes.

“The lawsuit seeks to hold accountable the tax-exempt entities by revoking their nonprofit status,” McMahon told Al Jazeera.

The lawsuit said: “These charities’ agenda is to rid the West Bank and EJ [East Jerusalem] of all non-Jews, consistent with perceived biblical imperatives. They have been very successful in that endeavour, as detailed herein, primarily because of the Treasury’s abject and long-standing failure to monitor and prevent their criminal activities for at least the last 30 years.”

McMahon said his law firm was working pro bono and is looking for other plaintiffs to join the lawsuit.

The lawsuit names groups including the Falic Family Foundation, FIDF (Friends of the Israeli Defence Force), American Friends of Ariel, Gush Etzion Foundation, American Friends of Har Homa, and Hebron Fund.

The Treasury Department has 60 days to respond to the lawsuit.

“This [Obama] administration, like every administration before it since 1967, views settlement activity as illegitimate and counterproductive to the cause of peace,” the US State Department told Al Jazeera in an email.

“The United States has never defended or supported settlements and activity associated with them and, by extension, does not pursue policies that would legitimise them.”

S America: Over 160,000 flee worst floods in 50 years

Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Bolivia have been battered by heavy rains blamed on the El Nino phenomenon.

Authorities estimated that it could take months for some affected areas to recover from the floods [AP]

Authorities estimated that it could take months for some affected areas to recover from the floods [AP]

by Al Jazeera

More than 160,000 people have been displaced over the past several days by the heaviest floods to hit South America in 50 years.

At least 144,000 were evacuated from flooded areas near the Paraguay River in Paraguay, the hardest-hit country. About 20,000 were displaced in Argentina and several thousand in Uruguay and Brazil.

Bolivia has also been battered by severe floods.

The floods, caused by overflowing rivers and torrential rains blamed on the El Nino phenomenon, have been responsible for at least eight deaths: six in Paraguay and two in Uruguay.

The causes of the deaths have ranged from falling trees to electrocution.

Al Jazeera’s Teresa Bo, reporting from the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires after visiting the city of Concordia – one of the cities particularly badly hit by the disaster – said that thousands of residents were forced to take refuge in shelters.

“We visited shelters in Concordia that were packed with mostly poor people who had lost everything they owned,” she said.

“The government is struggling to provide people with food and other basic needs … It has set up a commission to deal with the crisis that will last for at least a couple of months.”

Authorities are preparing to cope with the possibility of diseases spreading – heightened by the fact that mosquitos and snakes thrive in swamp-like conditions, she added.

Some houses in Concordia had water nearly up to their roofs and people made their way around town in canoes.

Overflowing sewers have also caused homes there to have dirty running water.

“The water [from sinks] is contaminated and bugs are everywhere,” said Josefina Monson, 33, who has been in the shelter with her husband and young daughters since Christmas Eve. “I’m not sure when we’ll be able to go home.”

Over the weekend, both Argentine President Mauricio Macri and Dilma Rousseff, the Brazilian president, toured affected areas and announced measures to help people recover and rebuild their homes.

“The Latin American governments are investing millions of dollars” to help contain the crisis, Bo said.

Meteorologists attribute the heavy rains to the El Nino weather phenomenon, which happens every few years when the Pacific Ocean warms up around the equator.

Kohli named BCCI Cricketer of the Year

Virat Kohli

New Delhi: Continuing his meteoric rise, Indian Test captain Virat Kohli was today named ‘Cricketer of the Year’, while Mithali Raj was picked for the top women’s award in the BCCI annual honours to be given away on January 5 in Mumbai.

The 27-year-old batsman, who took over as captain in the middle of the tour of Australia after Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s sudden retirement, delivered some good results under his leadership.

Under Kohli, the Indian team ended a 22-year wait for a series win on Sri Lankan soil before battering world No.1 South Africa to give them their first overseas loss in nine years.

The right-hander has done well with the bat too, scoring 640 runs in 15 Test innings that he played at an average of 42.67. In his 20 ODI outings this year, Kohli managed 623 runs at an average of 36.65.

Mithali, on the other hand, became the first Indian woman and second overall to complete 5,000 runs in ODI format this year. Mithali will be presented with the M A Chidambaram Trophy for the best women’s cricketer.

In other awards, former wicketkeeper Syed Kirmani will be presented the Col. CK Nayudu Lifetime Achievement Award.

Karnataka State Cricket Association has been chosen the state association of the year for achieving the treble of winning the Ranji Trophy, Irani Cup and Vijay Hazare Trophy in the season.

Karnataka all-rounder Robin Uthappa has been picked for the Madhavrao Scindia Award for being the highest run-scorer in Ranji Trophy. Uthappa scored 912 runs in 11 matches, averaging 50.66.

The top wicket-taker’s award is being shared this year by Karnataka’s R Vinay Kumar and Mumbai’s Shardul Thakur, both of whom scalped 48 in the previous season.


Nawaz Sharif thanks PM Modi for Lahore visit; says high time India, Pakistan set aside hostilities

Nawaz Sharif Narendra Modi

Lahore: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday said it is “high time” India and Pakistan set aside their hostilities even as he expressed confidence that the spirit of goodwill generated by his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi’s visit to Lahore will persist.

“The Indian Prime Minister came to Lahore and gave us his few hours. It is high time the countries put aside their hostilities,” Sharif said.

“Goodwill gestures are the solution to many an ill,” he told reporters at Zhob airport in Balochistan.

Sharif also thanked Modi for visiting Lahore last week.

Modi had sprung a surprise when he visited Lahore on the occasion of Sharif’s 66th birthday and his granddaughter’s wedding on December 25.

“It has been agreed that we will re-start the dialogue between Pakistan and India,” Sharif said, adding that “progress is being made in bilateral negotiations with India”.

The Pakistan premier’s comments came a day after his Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said that foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan will meet in Islamabad on January 14-15 to prepare a schedule of meeting for the comprehensive dialogue covering Jammu and Kashmir and other issues.

Sharif also expressed optimism that India-Pakistan ties would improve in the days ahead and the “spirit of goodwill generated with Modi’s visit will continue to prevail”.


Accosted for her hijab, Muslim woman now teaches self-defense and empowerment

In this Dec. 14, 2015 photo, Rana Abdelhamid speaks during an interview in New York. Abdelhamid was attacked in New York when she was 16. She soon started teaching martial arts techniques to other girls. Now that has grown into the Women’s Initiative for Self-Empowerment, or WISE, which also teaches leadership and social entrepreneurial skills. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

In this Dec. 14, 2015 photo, Rana Abdelhamid speaks during an interview in New York. Abdelhamid was attacked in New York when she was 16. She soon started teaching martial arts techniques to other girls. Now that has grown into the Women’s Initiative for Self-Empowerment, or WISE, which also teaches leadership and social entrepreneurial skills. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

by Wilson Ring, AP

When she was 16, Rana Abdelhamid was accosted on the streets of New York by a man who tried to pull off the head scarf she wears as a symbol of her commitment to her Muslim faith.

Rather than withdraw, as she’d seen other Muslim women do, she turned her anger into a program that is now working with young Muslim women to teach them self-defense while encouraging them to become leaders and role models for others in their communities.

Abdelhamid, a graduate of Vermont’s Middlebury College who is now a student at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, says the challenge facing Muslims in general and Muslim women in particular has been getting worse, especially since the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California.

“It’s unfortunate that it’s becoming more needed and we’re getting so many calls,” said Abdelhamid, 22, who grew up in the Queens borough of New York.

Robina Niaz, the executive director of the group Turning Point for Women and Families, an organization that works to end domestic violence in New York’s Muslim community, said she first met Abdelhamid when she was in high school and participating in programs at the center.

“Rana is a living example of what one can accomplish when we invest in these young girls,” Niaz said. “If we believe in them, if we support them, watch their back — they need just a little bit of nudging and mentoring and they are ready.”

Muslim women in several cities across the country are organizing or taking self-defense classes, but Abdelhamid’s organization, the Women’s Initiative for Self-Empowerment, or WISE, goes beyond the physical self-defense skills to encourage the young women to become leaders and social entrepreneurs. The empowerment lessons can be as simple as showing the young women how to rent or reserve a room in a community center to tips on becoming a confident public speaker.

Abdelhamid said her efforts have not been universally well received by the Muslim community.

“We have had some challenges and pushback from more traditionalist members of our community who don’t necessarily see space for women in leadership, unfortunately,” she said. “It’s really, really disheartening because you want your allies to be within the community.”

The program has grown since the first class was offered to about a dozen girls in the basement of a community center in Brooklyn. The basic program, called Mentee Muslimah (an Arabic word for Muslim women), is a 13-session summer camp attended in New York by about 50 young women of high-school age that follows a 100-page course outline Abdelhamid developed during an independent study course at Middlebury.

The organization relies heavily on donated space and volunteers, but it’s also received donations and in some cases fees are charged to people taking the program to help defray expenses. She’s in the process of setting up a formal non-profit group so WISE can have a permanent home and a budget. While an undergraduate at Vermont’s Middlebury College, Abdelhamid used a grant from the school’s Center for Social Entrepreneurship to expand her organization.

“What makes Rana really unique that we saw in her is that this is an issue that is connected to her identity and it drives her all the time,” said Heather Neuwirth, the associate director of Middlebury’s Entrepreneurship Center. “She took what could have been an experience that could have shut her down, she really realized the power in that and I think the way that she connects to others is deeply caring.”

Abdelhamid sometimes travels to lead programs outside New York, but most are led by people who have taken the program and then been trained to teach it. The summer programs outside New York are held in Union City, New Jersey, Washington, Dallas, Madrid, and Edinburg, Scotland. She’s working on setting up programs in Chicago, Dublin and Istanbul. Next month WISE also is planning a three-day program in Boston for Jewish women.

Nitasha Siddique, a 19-year-old student at Princeton, said she got involved with WISE after her junior year in high school when she was accepted into the New York summer programs.

“There were a lot of really important conversations I’d never had before, but had the opportunity to have these conversations and have them with a group of girls who were close to me in age,” she said.

Delhi govt bureaucrats on mass leave against suspension order


New Delhi: Delhi government bureaucrats today went on mass leave to protest against the suspension of two DANICS-cadre officers even as the Union Home Ministry declared the suspension as null and void.


A day after two senior civil service officers of the Home Department were suspended by the AAP government for refusing to sign on a Cabinet decision file, around 200 DANICS officers went on mass leave while 70 IAS officers have gone on half-day leave, showing solidarity with the suspended officers.

The action was taken against Yashpal Garg, special secretary (Prosecution), and Subhash Chandra, after they refused to sign a file pertaining to the Cabinet decision to increase salary of public prosecutors.

However, the Union Home Ministry termed the suspension as null and void.

Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands Civil Service (DANICS) are selected through civil service exams conducted by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

Only the Delhi Lt Governor can suspend DANICS-cadre officers with permission from the Union Home Ministry.

Reacting to the protest, Delhi Home Minister Satyendra Jain said DANICS and IAS officers do not have the right to go on strike as it is against their service rule.

Unfazed by IAS and DANICS officers associations’ decision to skip WORK today, he said, “People will be happy if they go on strike. All system pertaining to governance is based online today and government will not suffer.”

The Delhi Home Minister further said that Delhi government was ready to grant all officers even one month or 15-day leave if they apply for the same.

“The two officers were suspended for not implementing Cabinet decision on December 28. If they had any problem with my order, they should have approached Chief Minister not LG.Lt Governor has already asked officers to defy government decision,” he charged.

“I know that by the evening, LG will declare the suspension of two officers by Delhi Government as null and void,” Jain said here.

Jain said that if officers working in the Delhi government have any problem, they can get themselves transferred to the LG office, adding that government will not tolerate “disobedience”.

Jain also alleged that BJP is provoking Delhi Government officers to go on strike.

The DANICS Officers’ Association comprise around 200 members who hold crucial posts including that of SDM, Secretary to minister and special secretary.

“Delhi Government does not have power to suspend any DANICS officer and it can only recommend suspension of DANICS officer and on this, LG can suspend him or her with permission from MHA,” a representative of the association said.

Earlier this month, Kejriwal had also suspended two sub-divisional magistrates for failing to provide instant relief to victims whose shanties were demolished by Railways in West Delhi’s Shakur Basti area.

However, these two SDMs are still holding their posts and doing their work.


Bollywood Round up

Dr.C.G.Krishnadas Nair,kavita krishnamurty & Dr.H.R.Nagendra, Chairman

Kavita Krishnamurti Subramaniam Gets A Doctorate

Dr. Kavita Krishnamurti Subramaniam received the honorary doctorate from Jain University for her outstanding contribution to film music in tandem with globl music. Presenting the doctorate was Dr. C. G. Krishnadas Nair, Chancellor and lso present were Dr. H. R. Nagendra, Chairman – Task Force, Ministry of Ayush, Govt. of India.

Sonal – Madhurima – Sonali Malishka – Renee Walked The Ramp To Support Access Life NGO

Raffle Design International’s marketing team planned Applause for a cause fashion show which was a fund raising fashion show for an NGO Access Life that caters to cancer treatments for children. Sagarika Chhetri was the anchor for the event. Ken Ferns who is a stylist started the fashion show and the show stopper for him was none other than Madhurima Tuli. Renee Dhyani walked for stylist Chloe. Actress Sonali Raut walked the ramp with NGO kids for Dev Sood. Sonal Chauhan & RJ Malishka walked the ramp for designer Sujata & Sanjay. All the actors were very happy to be a part of this social fashion show. Girish Nair, founder & chairman of Access Life told us that they look after the kids who are suffering from cancer.

Sachin Tendulkar Inaugurated Designer Umang Mehta & Shraddha Mehta’s Store

Cricketer Sachin Tendulkar came to inaugurate the store of designers Umang Mehta who designs dresses for him. Singer Rahul Vaidya also came at the store launch. He sang “Ye Dosti” song also at the event. Umang Mehta & Shraddha Mehta received all the guests & the relatives.

Swati Sharrma’s Debut Song “Banno Tera Swagger” Nominated In All The Major Awards

Swati Sharrma from Jaipur is indeed super excited as her debut song “Banno Tera Swagger” has been nominated at Big Star Entertainment Award & Guild Award. On this eve Swati averred, “How incredible it feels when you see your dreams come true slowly, slowly…….that’s exactly how I feel…….when I got nominated for the most entertaining singer female category…….thank you so much guys for your love & your support…….keep blessing & loving me.” Swati thanked her family,relatives & friends for all the support. That apart her new song from “Direct Ishq” is out now on Zee Music. The film is directed by Rajiv Ruia.

Pentagon: Paris attacks suspects killed in air strikes

Two ISIL fighters with ties to Paris assault among 10 “leaders” killed in recent air attacks.

The Pentagon said most ISIL leaders were killed in drone strikes in Syria and Iraq [US military/Reuters]

The Pentagon said most ISIL leaders were killed in drone strikes in Syria and Iraq [US military/Reuters]

by Al Jazeera

Two suspects in the deadly Paris attacks claimed by ISIL were killed this month by coalition air strikes in Syria and Iraq, the US military said on Tuesday.

French national Charaffe al-Mouadan, 27, a native of the St Denis suburb of Paris, was among 10 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant leaders killed in air raids targeting its leadership, Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said.

“Over the past month, we’ve killed 10 ISIL leadership figures with targeted air strikes, including several external attack planners, some of whom are linked to the Paris attacks,” Warren said.

Mouadan is believed to have fled to Syria in November 2015. It was unclear if he travelled there before or after the November 13 Paris attacks that killed 130 people and wounded hundreds of others.

“Charaffe al-Mouadan – a Syrian-based ISIL member with a direct link to Abdel Hamid Abaaoud, the Paris attack cell leader – was killed on December 24,” said Warren.

“Al-Mouadan was actively planning additional attacks against the West.”

Warren said that the 10 ISIL leaders were mainly killed by drones in Iraq and Syria.

The other dead suspect involved in the Paris attacks was identified as Abdel Kader Hakim who was killed in Mosul, Iraq on Saturday.

“He was part of ISIL’s external operations group who enabled attacks against Western targets,” said Warren. “His death removes an important facilitator with many connections in Europe.

Most of the 10 killed appeared to be mid-level ISIL leaders, Warren said.

Another was from Bangladesh but spent time in Britain and was a hacker who coordinated anti-surveillance technology, he said.

Teams of gunmen armed with Kalashnikovs and wearing suicide vests hit public targets throughout Paris on Friday November 13. French President Francois Hollande called the brazen assault an “act of war” and deployed an aircraft carrier to the Middle East after ISIL claimed responsibility.

Germany: Town bans fireworks at refugee hostels

Fire brigade also recommends locals don’t use fireworks as it may awaken memories in people who have fled war.

Firecrackers and rockets are huge business in Germany [EPA]

Firecrackers and rockets are huge business in Germany [EPA]

by Al Jazeera

Refugees in a German town have been banned from setting off fireworks to mark the New Year, apparently out of concern that loud blasts could traumatise people who have fled war zones.

The town of Arnsberg in North Rhine-Westphalia has issued directives in several languages banning the sale of rockets and firecrackers to residents of refugee shelters, a spokesman told the Neue Westfaelische daily.

The Arnsberg fire brigade also recommended that townspeople consider not launching any fireworks “to avoid reawakening memories in people who have fled war and conflict of the horrors that threatened them”.

Setting off fireworks at midnight to welcome the start of the new year on January 1 is traditional and a spectacular show at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate is broadcast live on television.

Last year, Germans spent 120 million euros ($130 million) on New Year’s Eve fireworks, according to the pyrotechnics industry.

However, “people who come from a war zone connect loud bangs more with shots and bombs than with New Year’s Eve fireworks”, the spokesman was quoted as saying.

No one was immediately available in Arnsberg to comment to the Reuters news agency, which carried the story.

Posters in refugee homes have been put up explaining the ban, imposed partly for fear of fires breaking out in buildings used to house refugees.

Gymnasiums, unused hotels and empty buildings such as Berlin’s defunct Tempelhof airport have been turned into shelters for some of the million people who have sought asylum in Germany this year, many fleeing conflict in the Middle East and Africa.

Temporary buildings have also been erected.