Saturday, 28 January 2017

Evening NEWS DIGEST
28 Jan.2017: 29 Rabius Sani 1438: Vol:8, No:100
SC refuses cow slaughter ban across India
New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a PIL seeking a blanket ban on cow slaughter across all states, saying it was up to the state governments to decide and the court will not interfere with the state laws.“One state may ban slaughter, the other may not… we will not interfere in state laws,” the Bench of Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice NV Ramana said, rejecting the plea by one Vineet Sahai for a uniform policy on the cow slaughter made on the ground that of rampant smuggling of the cattle from the states where slaughter is banned to those permitting it.The court told him that it has already passed orders on measures to stop the illegal inter-state transportation of the cattle.Another cow slaughter case is listed for hearing before the SC on Monday. It relates to the Akhil Bharat Krishi Goseva Sangh versus Maharashtra Govt and 36 beef dealer associations through Aslam Malkani versus Maharashtra Government challenging the constitutional validity of state’s Animals Preservation (Amendment) Act that bans slaughter, possession, consumption and import of beef in the state. Petitioners want the court to permit the slaughter of cattle – bulls and bullocks, not cows – of more than 16 years of age, since at that age they are too old to be useful for farming or any other activities. A few states, or to be specific in Kerala, W.Bengal, Arunachal, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Sikkim, and Mizoram, slaughter is allowed. In other states, there is either a blanket ban or some kind of restrictions on cow slaughter. freepressjournal
Banning cow slaughter is the prerogative of states: SC
SC rejects plea seeking nationwide ban on cow slaughter
SC refuses to hear PIL seeking total ban on cow slaughter
After Jallikattu, now massive protest held against buffalo race-Kambala ban in Karnataka
Mangaluru: Stepping up pressure on govt following the success of the Jallikattu stir in Tamil Nadu, students, artistes and politicians today staged a massive protest in Mangaluru, demanding removal of the ban on Kambala, a traditional buffalo race in the coastal region held annually. All-College Students’ Association along with Tulu film artistes, Yakshagana artistes, politicians and members of Tulunada Rakshana Vedike staged protest at Hampankatta in Mangaluru, lending momentum to the growing demand on the issue.Noted personalities from Tulu film industry including actors Devdas Kapikad, Naveen D Padil, Bhojaraj Vamanjoor, director-producer Vijay Kumar Kodailbail, BJP MP Nalin Kumar Kateel, Congress MLA Mohiuddin Bava and others called for immediate govt action to ensure continuation of Kambala. Students from various colleges formed a human chain.In Bengaluru, AIADMK Karnataka unit workers staged a protest, demanding lifting of the ban on Kambala and demanded a ban on PETA, which has filed a petition in the Karnataka High Court to restrain the sport.PTI
Animal Board will not go against Tamil Nadu’s Jallikattu law: Union Minister
Chennai:Union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said the statutory advisory body Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) will not challenge the law passed by Tamil Nadu to allow the bull taming sport of Jallikattu. “There is no animal welfare board case at all in the Supreme Court,” she told reporters here while reacting to questions of AWBI reportedly going against the law in the apex court.PTI
Maharashtra govt recalls circular banning religious pictures in offices: PTI
Mumbai:Coming under the scanner for issuing a circular banning display of religious pictures and rituals in offices and state-run schools, Maharashtra govt has recalled the order and a show cause notice was slapped on the official who sent it across the state without getting a nod from his superiors. The clarification in this regard was made on Friday as Shiv Sena ministers met CM  Devendra Fadnavis demanding withdrawal of the circular, a day after Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray attacked the govt over it.Soon after the meet, state Education Minister Vinod Tawde said the govt has already revoked the order and action has been ordered against the official concerned. “The show cause notice has been issued to the desk officer who sent the letter regarding no religious activities in govt offices. He had sent the letter without prior permission of the Deputy Secretary. Clarification regarding the same was made on Jan.25, but still it was mentioned in Jan.26 speech (referring to Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s criticism of BJP over the order),” Tawde said. The circular was issued by the Rural Development department to all district councils on Jan.4. It stated that “putting up photos of gods and religious figures or religious texts or celebration of religious festivals and pujas in govt offices, semi-govt offices, offices of local bodies, state-run educational institutions is against the provisions of the Constitution”. It further directed the district councils to “uphold the values of the Constitution” by immediately removing all religious pictures/texts/deities and stop ‘pujas’and celebrations.
Union Health ministry official calls demand to include Urdu in Neet language list as ‘unreasonable’: AsianAge
New Delhi: Days after Odia and Kannada language were included in the list of language options for All-India Medical Entrance test, some parliamentarians and states are now raising a pitch for inclusion of “Urdu” into the list. While it has been decided that the Neet (National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test) will be conducted in 10 different languages, the new demand of inclusion of Urdu has sent the Union health ministry in a tizzy.Citing that the students who had studied in “Urdu” would be at a disadvantage if the exam is not conducted in their language, some states and MPs have written to the health ministry on the issue for including Urdu among one of the language options. However, the health ministry which is expected to notify the exam soon, is in no mood to entertain the new demand.Calling it an “unreasonable” demand, a senior health ministry official said, “There will be no end to demands and requests if we keep entertaining and including languages one after another.This is impractical and unreasonable.” Meanwhile, students, including those belonging to Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO) have been protesting the move, pushing Maharashtra’s medical education minister Girish Mahajan to write to Union health ministry.
states polls & politics
BJP manifesto includes Ram Mandir, Triple Talaq, slaughter houses, majority exodus; explains nature of campaign for UP polls
Lucknow: BJP president Amit Shah on Saturday evening released the party’s manifesto for the upcoming UP Assembly elections, which will be held in seven phases. The much awaited BJPs manifesto included construction of Ram Mandir, Triple Talaq, slaughter houses and majority exodus which explains ‘the nature of campaign’ the right wing party for UP polls. It is quite noteworthy at the time when youths across UP  are talking about politics related to development, BJP is contesting the elections over the above communal lines.As rightly said by senior journalist Saba Naqvi, “You don’t need HIGH IQ to figure out the nature of campaign of BJP for UP polls”, as the party has been consistently fighting the election on communal lines. Experts believe that raising such communal issue for UP polls shows that the BJP is worried about its future in the upcoming elections.While releasing the manifesto, the BJP president said that the party will form the govt in UP  with a two-third majority. Amit Shah also attacked the Samajwadi Party and Mayawati’s BSP which have ruled UP  for at least 15 years.However, there are many promises that have been made by the BJP but what drew the attention of the most was the return of the Ram Mandir agenda in the BJP manifesto. After announcing most of the points from the manifesto, Amit Shah and his campaign team saved the Ram mandi announcement for the end and concluded his speech by pledging to work towards the construction of Ram Temple “under the provisions of the Constitution”. When Amit Shah was asked to elaborate on the steps BJP govt would take in the direction, he declined to elaborate.Amit Shah also made reference to the Kairana ‘exodus’, without naming the issue or any particular community in his speech. india.com
‘Efforts on to ensure Ram Temple constructed’: Key features in BJP’s UP poll manifesto
If BJP Wins UP, Will Consult Muslim Women on Triple Talaq: Amit Shah
Lucknow: BJP President Amit Shah on Saturday said if his party returned to power in UP, it will seek the opinion of the state's Muslim women on the triple 'talaq' issue and approach the Supreme Court accordingly."If voted to power, BJP will seek the opinion of Muslim women in UP  on the triple 'talaq' issue, which is going on in the Supreme Court," Shah said while releasing his party's manifesto for assembly polls."And on the basis of that opinion, the BJP govt in the state will then approach the Supreme Court," Shah added.IANS
Now Opposition focus shifts to Uniform Civil Code
New Delhi:With the effects of the Centre’s move to demonetise old Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes dying down, Opposition parties are now focusing on the proposed Uniform Civil Code (UCC) to corner the govt in the upcoming Budget Session of Parliament. The campaign against the UCC is also likely to help the concept of a secular front against the Narendra Modi-led government, especially with Assembly elections coming up in five states, including the politically crucial UP. The first salvo has been fired by JD(U) chief and Bihar CM  Nitish Kumar, who has written to the law commission twice, including on Wednesday, cautioning against the attempt to impose to a UCC without the concurrence of various religious groups, especially minorities. Deccan Chronicle.
Latest BJP rival in UP is Yogi Adityanath’s outfit
Lucknow:ON JAN.21, BJP picked its Gorakhpur MP and leader from eastern UP, Yogi Adityanath, as one of its star campaigners for the first two phases of the UP elections next month. On Friday, the Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV) released its first list of six candidates from Kushinagar and Maharajganj districts, which come under Adityanath’s sway. The line that connects the two events has left the BJP red-faced. HYV was founded in 2002 by none other than Adityanath.HYV will contest from 64 seats in eastern UP, alleging that the BJP has “insulted” its founder, who is also head priest of the revered Gorakhnath temple.“We will release lists of more candidates. HYV workers are upset because the BJP has insulted Yogi Adityanathji. The people of eastern UP wanted Adityanathji to be declared as the CM ial face, but the BJP ignored him. The party also did not include him in its election management committee,” said Sunil Singh, the outfit’s state president. “Adityanathji had given a list of around 10 candidates, but the BJP gave tickets to only two of them. We cannot tolerate this anymore and that’s why we have decided to field candidates (as independents) against BJP,” said Singh. Indian express
Owaisi compares fight for Jallikattu to Muslims’ fight against UCC
Supporting the protest for Jallikattu, Asaduddin Owaisi, leader of AIMIM, said Muslims should stand up for their culture too, a day after the Madras High Court restrained Kazis for issuing certificates on triple talaq, The News Minute reported.Referring to the demand for implementing the Uniform Civil Code, he said:In Tamil Nadu, people protested in lakhs to fight for their tradition. Modi had to bow in front of them. Are we any less than them? We also have our own culture. We will marry and divorce the way we want to. Nobody should direct us on what we should do. The Quint
Even AIMPLB agreed triple talaq is an undesirable practice: BJP
SYQuraishi praises Modi for talking about poll reforms:PTI
New Delhi:Ex-Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi lauded PM  Narendra Modi for being “vocal on electoral reforms” in the country and accused the previous governments of avoiding the issue. Speaking at a conference in the capital on ‘Electoral Reforms in India’, Quraishi said he was happy that “for the first time”, PM of the country was talking about poll reforms.“Unlike the previous governments which avoided taking any measure on poll reforms, PM  Modi is being specific and several of his measures are leading towards reforms,” he said. He also pitched for debarring criminals from contesting elections, controlling money power and a collegium system to appoint election commissioners to ensure free-and-fair polls.
UP Polls: RSS’ Shudh Hospitality & Darul Uloom’s Buff Slaughter:Chandan Nandy & Abhilash Mallick
UP Assembly elections: How do Muslims vote?TOI report
OTHERS
As calamity-hit farmers continue to commit suicide, SC asks Govt why there's no policy to help them
Having dealt with the issue of farmers' suicide raised in many PILs earlier, the Supreme Court on Friday found it strange that there was no national policy to compensate tillers for crop failure or indebtedness, 2 major reasons for them to take their lives. A bench of Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justice NV Ramana was dealing with a three-year-old appeal filed by an NGO led by Mallika Sarabhai questioning the rationale behind Gujarat high court's decision not to entertain its PIL seeking relief for farmers, nearly 600 of whom had committed suicide between 2004-2012. CJI said, "It is rather strange that there have been several incidents of farmers' suicide yet there is no national policy to protect them from crop failure leading to their indebtedness. There must be a policy to compensate farmers for crop failure. This is a national issue and of larger public interest." Petitioner's counsel Colin Gonsalves and Gujarat counsel Pritesh Kapur agreed with the bench. TOI
Farmers’ deaths a human rights issue: Supreme Court
Farmer suicides: SC to examine policies of Centre, states
Shehla Masood murder case: Court awards life imprisonment to 4, one acquitted
Indore: A special CBI court has awarded life-imprisonment to four including Zahida Parvez prime accused of RTI activist Shehla Masood’s murder while clemency was offered to fifth accused Irfan who had turned govt witness in the case.The high-profile murder case had hit national headlines after names of BJP MLA, a RSS functionary and several others figured in the probe.A big crowd was witnessed in the court premises since the decision was to be delivered and after the accused were produced in the court, the court delivered the verdict handing life-imprisonment to Zahida, Saba Faruqui, Shaquib ad Tabish while Irfan was acquitted in the case as he turned approver.On Aug 16, 2011, the event management executive turned RTI-activist Shehla had been found dead with bullet shot on the neck inside her car just outside her residence in Koh-e-Fiza area in Bhopal. After scanning lakhs of phone calls and quizzing hundreds of persons, the CBI had netted prime accused Zahida, Shehla’s old acquaintance, her fried Saba and contract killers –Irfan, and his aides Shaquib Danger and Tabish.The prime accused Zahida after the verdict accused CBI of forging facts and evidences against her while talking to newsmen. “We got this extreme verdict without any concrete evidence and witnesses, it’s nothing but CBI pressure which rules the roost in MP,” she alleged.Evidences which the CBI compiled in the case suggested that Zahida had an affair with the then BJP legislator Dhruv Narayan Singh and as Shehla too came close to the MLA, Zahida out of jealousy hired contract killers and got her eliminated. Pradesh18
Politics or love? Decoding activist Shehla Masood’s murder mystery: The Quint
Medical board fails to make any conclusion in report on Sunanda's death
New Delhi: The medical board constituted to submit a report on the death of Sunanda Pushkar, wife of Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, has failed to make any conclusions in its findings submitted to Delhi Police.In its report submitted to the SIT, which is probing the case, the medical board, after studying the findings of FBI and AIIMS said the cause of her death is inconclusive."The medical board submitted its report a month back and they have failed to give any conclusive results. We have asked them to study the findings of FBI and AIIMS again to draw a conclusion," a senior police officer said.PTI
Clerics, Masjid committees ‘used’ to quell 2016 uprising:J&K Govt
Jammu:J&K govt has said it used the “services” of religious leaders, mosque committees and extra security forces to quell 2016 uprising in Kashmir. In a written reply, J&K CM  Mehbooba Mufti informed the Assembly that her govt proactively engaged religious leaders and Masjid committees to “help improve the situation” in the state.greater kashmir
Geelani seeks international probe into Kashmir massacres
Srinagar:Paying rich tributes to victims of Kupwara massacres on their anniversary observed today, Hurriyat Conference (G) Syed Ali Geelani today demanded impartial investigation into all the gruesome massacres by the international agencies. Thanking people of Kupwara for observing shutdown today against Kupwara massacre, Geelani, in a statement today, said, “It is heart wrenching to see the swelling number of widows and orphans in Kupwara district.” greaterkashmir

Kerala: Ex-RSS worker alleges torture by Sangh men
 A former RSS worker lodged a police complaint Friday, alleging that Sangh workers confined and tortured him for over a month. He has claimed that he was tortured after RSS leaders accused him of informing police about a worker’s alleged involvement in the murder of a CPM activist in Kannur. S Vishnu, 25, a native of Thiruvananthapuram, said senior Sangh functionaries in the district forced him to write a suicide note, blaming CPM’s Kannur district secretary P Jayarajan for driving him to the extreme step. Vishnu has said in his complaint that RSS leaders in Thiruvananthapuram kept him in confinement from Dec.16 to Jan.22, when he managed to escape. During this time, he was taken to several RSS offices and houses of Sangh workers in Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam, where he was subjected to mental and physical torture, he has alleged. Vishnu, who has been associated with RSS since he was seven, said the local Sangh leadership targeted him after the arrest of RSS worker Kannan in connection with the murder of CPM activist Dhanaraj. indianexpress
NIA files chargesheet against ISIS suspects from Kerala
New Delhi: NIA has filed a chargesheet against two suspected ISIS operatives from Kerala. The chargesheet names Abdul Rashid Abdulla as the main accused, who motivated a number of youths from Kasaragod to exit India along with their families to join the Islamic State, and Yasmeen Mohammed Zahid who was intercepted while trying to take a flight to Kabul to join ISIS in Afghanistan.PTI
Bomb accused planned to target Hindu Front event in Madurai: newindianexpress
Madurai: A judicial magistrate, on Friday, remanded in judicial custody four persons arrested by the city police in connection with the seizure of two pipe bombs.In a shocking development, the police said that one of the accused, Abdulla, has confessed that the plan was to place the pipe bomb at the Hindu Front Conference scheduled to be held on Jan. 26 at Palladam in Tiruppur district, in which leaders of Front were participating. 3 persons Ukrapandi alias Abdul Rahman (43) of Gandhipuram 3rd Street, K Pudur, A Abdulla alias Nondikai Abdulla (30), of Vishwanatha Nagar, K Pudur, and J Kathar Sherif (28) of Ismailpuram, Munichalai, Madurai, were detained by the police in connection with the case.
Delhi Police files chargesheet in ISI-Pak High Commission spy racket, names Samajwadi Party MP's PA as accused
New Delhi: 3 months after it busted an espionage ring masterminded by ISI and Pakistan High Commission staffers in Delhi, the Crime Branch has submitted a chargesheet against four of the arrested men, including Samajwadi Party MP Chaudhary Munawwar Salim's personal assistant Farhat Khan.  The parliamentarian has been listed as a witness in the case along with 12 others. Pak High Commission staff, Mehmood Akhtar, has not been charged due to diplomatic immunity. The Indian agents are Maulana Ramzan Khan and Shubhash Jangir from Nagaur, Rajasthan and Soheb Hussain from Jodhpur. economictimes
Meghalaya's Governor Shanmuganathan resigns after 'ladies club' allegations
An Indian governor has resigned from office after allegations of sexual harassment made against him by dozens of his staff members. V Shanmuganathan, 67, handed in his notice as governor of Meghalaya late on Thursday, and his resignation was formally accepted by President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday.His resignation came after a petition calling for his immediate removal was signed by more than 80 employees at the governor's official residence.The petition, which was addressed to PM  Narendra Modi, accused Shanmuganathan of running a "young ladies club" at the residence. aljazeera
New governors take charge in Meghalaya and Arunachal after Shanmuganathan’s resignation
Beef thrown in temple: Bengal govt worried as communal clashes spread to Kolkata
Alampur, a locality on the western edge of Kolkata’s Metiabruz area, continues to be tense since Jan.23 after some chunks of beef were allegedly thrown into a temple. No arrests have been made so far.Authorities have imposed prohibitory orders disallowing assembly of four or more people in the area that has a mix of slums and high rises. The prohibitory orders also banned workshops after Hindus groups blocked traffic following the alleged desecration of the two temples. Muslims are in majority in the area which also houses a govt undertaking - Garden Reach Ship Builders and Engineers.But, what makes Alampur incident alarming is that it is not a stray incident. There has been a pattern. Ten districts of West Bengal have seen similar such communal incidents since October 2016 which is proving to be a major challenge for the state government.“I will not allow anarchy in Bengal,” said CM  Mamata Banerjee on Friday. HT
Vantage point | Cotton Route v/s Silk Route: India must activate its age-old cultural & trade routes:Iftikhar Gilani, Editor - Strategic Affairs, DNA
Demonetisation
Amartya Sen on demonetisation: Note-ban an undemocratic move akin to unguided missile
Mumbai:Nobel laureate Amartya Sen on Saturday termed note ban as an unguided “missile” fired “unilaterally” by the govt without adhering to the democratic conventions. “…every now and then we get missiles fired by the govt unilaterally. Demonetisation one fine morning is of course just such a missile where there are reports coming in of hardships and suffering though it is not quite clear where the missile has landed,” Sen said. The remark was made by Sen during a talk titled ‘Healthcare for all: Why and how’ here, was done while comparing decision-making in a democratic country like ours and the Communist China. Bharat Ratna awardee said decisions get taken in China based on the vision of a small group of people, while in a democracy like ours, things move only when there is a public demand for it.PTI
Demonetisation was a ‘hoax’, it will not kill black money, says Chidambaram:ANI
Guwahati: Dubbing the govt’s claim that demonetisation would weed out black money and corruption as “hoax”, former union finance minister P. Chidambaram has said that such issues are likely to persist since Nov.8 decision was not “notebandi”, rather it was a “notebadli.” “Demonetisation will not kill black money and corruption. Earlier, they asked and took bribes in old notes. Now they will take in new notes. The change of notes will not make any difference to these things. It is a complete hoax to say that demonetisation will kill corruption,” Chidambaram said .Throwing a challenge to PM Narendra Modi, he said,“Let me throw a simple challenge to the government, please guarantee to me that next time I go to a Tehsildar he will not ask bribe from me. Let the PM give the guarantee to 132 crore people of the country that from today nobody will ask for bribe because he demonetized all notes.”
P Chidambaram on note ban: Not all Jan Dhan accounts were used for money laundering
The politics of demonetisation: Prof. Zoya Hasan
WORLD
Trump bans refugees and migrants from Muslim countries; US Muslims body to challenge it in court
Donald Trump has signed an executive order that will limit immigration and refugees from some Muslim-majority countries, fulfilling a campaign-trail promise to introduce what he dubbed “extreme vetting.” He criticised state department policy for allowing the 9/11 terrorists to obtain visas.By signing up you confirm that you have read and agree to the terms and conditions, cookie policy and privacy policy.“I’m establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America. We don’t want them here. We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas,” he said in a speech at the Pentagon.The order bans Syrian refugees, claiming they are “detrimental” to the interests of the United States, and suspends the refugee admissions programme for all countries for 120 days. It will also suspend the issue of visas to nationals of countries where the US believes they do not provide enough information on an applicant to decide whether or not they are a security or public safety threat.The new measures were called “harmful and hasty” by the International Rescue Committee, which provides humanitarian aid to refugees. David Miliband, IRC president, said the order would damage US resettlement programme, which he said was the strongest and most successful in the world. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, also criticised the order, becoming one of the first chief executives to openly challenge Trump.He and his wife, Priscilla Chan, are descendants of immigrants and refugees, he wrote in a Facebook post Friday.Council on American-Islamic Relations said it would challenge the order in court as it targets Muslims because of their faith, contravening the US Constitutional right to freedom of religion. “President Trump has cloaked what is a discriminatory ban against nationals of Muslim countries under the banner of national security,” it said.Financial Times
President Trump's Muslim ban excludes countries linked to his sprawling business empire
US Muslims Sue Trump Over ‘Racist’ Refugee Ban
South Asian lawyers group condemn Trump's order on Muslim ban, will challenge it in court
Trump suspends US refugee programme, bans Syrians indefinitely
Thousands support Muslims in #solidarity campaign
'Back US or we'll take names': Trump's envoy at UN
Nikki Haley, the new US ambassador to the UN, has said Donald Trump's new administration will push for an overhaul of the world body and bluntly warned those who oppose Washington's policies that she is "taking names".Haley made brief remarks to reporters as she arrived on Friday at the UN headquarters in New York to present her credentials to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres."Our goal with the administration is to show value at the UN and the way that we'll show value is to show our strength, show our voice, have the backs of our allies and make sure that our allies have our back as well," Haley said. aljazeera
Top Russian official says Putin-Trump call will be positive
Moscow: Influential Russian security chief Nikolai Patrushev says Moscow has high hopes for a scheduled telephone call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump."Everything will be positive," Patrushev said Saturday, according to Russia's Interfax news agency. He is the secretary of Russia's Security Council.AP
US: Hijab Muslim airline crew attacked by passenger
An American passenger is in dock in US for allegedly attacking a Muslim airline employee in New York's JFK Airport. He has been arrested by police for misconduct. According to the Daily Mail, Robin Rhodes attacked Delta Airlines employee Rabeeya Khan, who was wearing a hijab while she was sitting in her office. Rhodes allegedly kicked the woman and shouted racial slurs and obscenities at her while he was waiting for a connecting flight. District attorney Richard Brown released a statement saying that Rhodes cursed at Khan for no reason at all.When Khan asked Rhodes what she had done to him, Rhodes responded with "You did nothing" as he proceeded to attack Khan and kicked her in the leg. Khaleejtimes
UN agency cuts food aid to 1.4 million displaced Iraqis
World Food Programme (WFP) has slashed food rations distributed to 1.4 million displaced Iraqis by 50 % because of delays in payments from donor states.The sharp cutbacks come at a time when a growing number of Iraqis flee the ISIL group.We escaped from [ISIL] in order to have a chance to live and now they have cut the aid. How are we supposed to live?At least 160,000 people have been displaced since October when the Iraqi military, backed by Kurdish forces and Shia militias. launched a military campaign to recapture Mosul from the armed group. WFP spokeswoman Inger Marie Vennize said the UN agency was talking to the United States - its biggest donor, Germany, Japan and others to secure funds to restore full rations."We have had to reduce [the rations] as of this month," she was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying."The 50 % cuts in monthly rations affect over 1.4 million people across Iraq," she added.The effect is already being felt in camps east of Mosul, ISIL's last major bastion in northern Iraq."They are giving an entire family the food supply of one person ... we want to go back home," said Omar Shukri Mahmoud at the Hassan Sham camp.Safa Shaker, who fled with her extended family, said: "We are a big family and this ration is not going to be enough.An estimated 650,000 people live without potable water in the city and the UN has warned of a potential humanitarian crisis and a refugee exodus. aljazeera
Syria regime forced to deny Assad suffered a stroke
Arab media has been rife with speculation over the past week regarding the health of Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad, who is reportedly suffering from severe psychological strain after more than 5 years of civil war resulting from a bloody crackdown he ordered against his own people.According to many reports, the Syrian despot has now reportedly suffered from a stroke, and his fitness to rule is being brought into doubt, forcing the Assad regime’s Presidency of the Syrian Arab Republic to release a statement yesterday claiming that Al-Assad is in “excellent health”. The rumour mill began last week, when the Saudi-owned Al-Sharq Al-Awsat published a column by Amir Taheri, claiming that sources from Assad regime ally Russia had indicated that Al-Assad was “exhausted” due to “psychological pressures” arising from the civil war, now almost in its sixth year.According to Taheri, “Russian officials…now drop hints that Assad is ‘exhausted by five years of war and tension’ and may be is even [sic] developing a nervous tick in his left eye as a result of ‘psychological pressures’.”These comments led to a deluge of articles in the Arab world, stating that Al-Assad was on his last legs and that he was physically on the verge of collapse. Further adding fuel to the fire was the fact that he had not been sighted in public for weeks.Though the media frenzy appeared to die down due to a lack of fresh information, it picked up again yesterday morning, when a newspaper linked to Lebanese PM  Sa’ad Al-Hariri called Al-Mostaqbal Al-Lubnani reported that Al-Assad had suffered a stroke. Citing sources in the Syrian opposition who claimed to have access to documents that the newspaper had seen, Al-Mostaqbal said that the Syrian president had suffered a stroke and was rushed to the Al-Shami hospital in Damascus under heavy guard. Another Arab news outlet, Moheet, said that an Iranian assigned to be the personal bodyguard of Al-Assad attempted to kill him at an unspecified point last week.The outlet gave the would-be alleged assassin’s name as Mehdi Al-Yaqoubi, stating that the bodyguard opened fire at the Syrian dictator for unstated reasons in a failed assassination attempt, that pushed Al-Assad to the psychological brink and caused him to “maybe be breathing his last.”Whatever the truth of the unverified assassination attempt reported by Moheet, the story regarding Al-Assad’s stroke began to circulate in the Arab press once more, being picked up by several outlets with large circulation, including London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi.Al-Quds Al-Arabi also cited Lebanese media sources as confirming that Al-Assad was in extremely poor health. middleeastmonitor
CIA papers reveal China's nuclear free pass to Pak:TOI
New Delhi: Recently declassified CIA files+ testify to the depth of the Pakistan-China military relationship built over decades and also highlights how Beijing was willing to risk its own nuclear cooperation with US to boost the nuclear ambitions of 'all weather friend' Pakistan.In the files, the US notes that China did not ask Pakistan to open its nuclear installations to IAEA inspections, after inking a nuclear agreement with the latter. The text of the agreement is pretty anodyne, focusing on non-military nuclear technology, radio-isotopes, medical research and civilian power technology. By this, the US notes, China wanted to develop a nuclear export market in Pakistan in "nonsensitive" areas. This would "reassure" countries like US which were apprehensive about Pakistan's nuclear designs.
Gaza’s water shortage worsening, no easy solutions seen
Marwan An-Najar, a Palestinian from the south of the Gaza Strip, says he has not tasted sweet tap water in 10 years. Every day, he travels four kilometres to fill a 20-litre plastic jerry can at a local desalination station.Gaza has long suffered severe water problems, with its aquifer contaminated by sewage, chemicals and seawater and the territory’s three desalination plants unable to meet demand. To drink, most citizens depend on imported, bottled water.But locals and development specialists say the situation is getting beyond dire, with more than 90 %  of the water in the aquifer unfit for domestic use, according to Rebhy Al-Sheikh, the deputy chairman of the Palestinian Water Authority. middleeastmonitor
Police question Netanyahu for third time in criminal case
Israeli police questioned PM  Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday for the third time this month as part of a criminal investigation into abuse of office, Israeli media reported.A police source confirmed the questioning took place but would not provide further details. A Reuters cameraman at Netanyahu’s official residence, where the questioning took place, said investigators were on the scene for three hours. middleeastmonitor
 Compiled and edited by Anwarulhaq (Released at: 6:49 PM)


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