News and views across the globe.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Evening NEWS DIGEST
INDIA
With 65.65 % of votes, NDA Presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind defeats Opposition candidate Meira Kumar
New Delhi: NDA's candidate for President, Ram Nath Kovind, will become India's 14th President, having obtained 65.65 % of votes from the electoral college.His opponent, the joint Opposition candidate Meira Kumar, lags far behind with a mere 34.35%."Kovind secured 2930 votes with a value of 7,02,044. Meira Kumar got 1,844 votes with the value of 3,67,314, and 77 votes were invalid," said Anoop Mishra, the returning officer for the Presidential election 2017.Kovind got the votes of 522 Members of Parliament while Kumar bagged the votes of 225 MPs. As many 771 elected MPs were eligible to cast their ballot. The non-NDA parties that supported Kovind included AIADMK, the Yuvajana Shramika Rythu Congress Party, Biju Janata Dal, TRS and INLD. Significantly, Nitish Kumar's JDU also supported Kovind, going against its Bihar 'grand alliance' partners, the Congress and Lalu Prasad's RJD.Joint Opposition candidate Kumar had the support of the Congress, of course, as well as of the Nationalist Congress Party, the Samajwadi Party, BSP, AAP, the RJD, All India Trinamool Congress, the Communist parties, DMK, and J&K  National Conference, among a few others.The presidential election saw close to 100% polling. A total of 771 members of Parliament and 4,109 legislators were eligible to cast votes.Both Kovind and Kumar are from the Dalit community and canvassed hard by visiting states to seek support of legislators. timesofindia
Ram Nath Kovind is 14th President of India
Kovind is next President of India, to take oath on July 25
Will work to protect Constitution, uphold its values: President-elect Kovind
A visibly emotional President-elect, Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday said he will work towards protecting the Constitution and upholding its values, and will serve the nation to ensure happiness for all.“This is a very emotional moment,” Kovind said after being elected President of India. “This is a very big responsibility for me.”“It is my duty to protect the Constitution and uphold its values as the President. I pay my respects to my countrymen and assure them that I’ll serve the nation in the spirit of ‘May all be happy,” he said.IANS
If personal data can be surrendered to private players, then why not to the State, asks SC
New Delhi:If 99% of citizens are "unconcerned" about sharing personal data with private players like Apple, how is it qualitatively different if the State has the same information, Supreme Court judge, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, asked on Thursday."Most citizens are unconcerned about where or how their personal data is used. You say there are 35 crore Internet users and 18 crore telephone users, but 99% of people are not concerned... When you operate your iPad with your thumbprint, your data is public and there it is..." Justice Chandrachud, who is part of the Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar-led nine-judge Bench, orally observed. thehindu
INDIA-CHINA PAK & J&K
Sikkim standoff: Indian soldiers can withdraw, be captured or be killed, says ex- Chinese diplomat to India
Beijing: Ex- Chinese diplomat who recently served in India has said that Indian troops deployed at the disputed Donglang area could either withdraw voluntarily, be captured or be killed.The comments by Liu Youfa, ex Chinese consulate general in Mumbai, come amid a military stand-off in the Donglang area – also called Doklam – with Beijing blaming Indian soldiers of trespass and preventing Chinese soldiers from building a road in the region, which is also claimed by Bhutan.“According to what I understand of international law, when people in uniform get across the border to move into the territory of the other side, they naturally become enemies who will have to face three consequences: First, they can go out voluntarily, or they may be captured or when the border dispute should escalate, they may be killed,” Liu told CGTN, English channel of national chennel CCTV.Liu said the current standoff might be said be part of the border dispute but “it is an invasion.”“So, there are 3 possibilities. So, I think Chinese side is standing there waiting for the Indian side to make the sensitive choice” and pull out of the region, Liu argued.“This is the best result for both sides to avoid the eventual confrontation.”“Chinese side has so far given so much time for the Indian side, for our Indian friends to take sensitive measures,”Liu, who is associated with Chinese think-tank, said. HT
Rising Hindu nationalism has hijacked India's China policy: Chinese media
Beijing: Rising Hindu nationalism has hijacked PM  Narendra Modi’s China policy and could lead the two countries to war, Chinese state media said on Thursday, adding a warning that it could put India’s own interests in “jeopardy”.The latest salvo from Chinese state media -- in the backdrop of an ongoing military impasse near the Sikkim border -- reminded New Delhi that it is “weaker” than China in “national strength” but Indian politicians have failed to grasp that reality. Sounding a warning, the commentary also reminded the Modi Govt  about its failure to curb Hindu nationalistic violence against Muslims since this Govt  came to power in 2014. The state media article indicated the current standoff was planned and executed to cater to Hindu nationalistic sentiments.Modi rode a wave of rising religious nationalism to power in 2014 and is now pandering to the sentiments through its “strong” policies against China and Pakistan, said the analysis published in the nationalistic tabloid, Global Times.“Election of Indian PM Narendra Modi has fueled the country’s nationalist sentiments. Modi took advantage of rising Hindu nationalism to come to power. This, on one hand, has enhanced his prestige and ability to control the country, but on the other, has made India more subject to the influence of conservatives, thus hampering reform,” analysis said.Targetting Muslims has been part of the rising religious nationalism, it said.“Modi Govt  can do nothing if religious nationalism becomes extreme, as shown in its failure to curb violent incidents against Muslims since he came to power in 2014,” GT commentary, written by Yu Ning, said.HT
Differences should not become disputes: India on Doklam standoff with China
India made a renewed pitch for a “peaceful resolution” of the Doklam standoff on Thursday through diplomatic channels, stressing that “differences” should not become “disputes”.Ministry of external affairs spokesperson Gopal Baglay told reporters that New Delhi has been in “close contact” with Bhutan govt on the unfolding developments. “India’s approach is to have a peaceful resolution of issues on border with China,” he said, underlining the understanding at the Astana meeting that differences between India and China should not be allowed to become disputes.PTI
'India is well-equipped to defend itself against China,' says Sushma Swaraj in Rajya Sabha
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said that while China is trying to change the status quo in the Doklam tri-junction area", India is well equipped to defend itself and doesn't feel threatened in the least."Over the years, China has been trying to get closer and closer to where the tri-junction point ends. It has done things like repair roads, re-tar them and things like that,"Swaraj said in reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha on India-China border standoff.She then described what was different about the incident that sparked the latest standoff. "This time though, they came with bulldozers and construction equipment with the aim of breaching the point where the tri-junction ends. That is a threat to our security," said Swaraj.TOI
If China changes border status quo, it’s a security risk for India: Sushma in RS
Diplomatic channels between India, China have never broken; Doval to visit Beijing next week:MEA on dispute
New Delhi:Without commenting on China's reported precondition for talks, India on Thursday said that diplomatic channels between the two countries "are not impeded" and have "never broken".In that spirit, India also said that NSA Ajit Doval will indeed attend a BRICS meeting of NSAs scheduled for next week in China.When asked about Beijing's comment that India withdrawing its forces from Doklam is the only way to end the border dispute, external affairs ministry (MEA) spokesman Gopal Baglay was noncommittal. timesofindia
Kargil War was a complete intelligence failure at national level: Retired Brigadier MPS Bajwa
Chandigarh:Brigadier MPS Bajwa (Retd), a Kargil War hero, on Wednesday delivered 3rd Maj-Gen KS Bajwa Memorial – Regiment of Artillery War Experiences Talk at CRRID in Sector 19.The lecture is organised every month by the Centre of Indian Military History, a think tank based in Chandigarh. Bajwa, who commanded the 192 Mountain Brigade during the Kargil War and was decorated for inspiring leadership and gallantry during the Battle for Tiger Hill, gave a detailed presentation about the Kargil War.During his hour-long lecture, Bajwa said there was complete intelligence failure at the national level and the Indian Army was not provided any information about the movement of Pakistani troops. “Yes, it was a complete intelligence failure at the national level. The aircraft which was meant to remain stationed in Kargil and gather information,was deputed at some other place to perform other tasks. It was the Bakerwals who gave us the information that people were sitting on the top,” he said.Saying that capturing Tiger Hill with the one battalion was a big challenge, Bajwa said it then became an international issue after then PM  Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced at a public meeting in Haryana that Tiger Hill had been captured and Pakistan immediately reacted sharply and ordered it should be taken back again. “But, I had already pushed 50 men to counter the attack from Pakistan from western side.” Bajwa said Pakistan’s strategy in Kargil counted on the Zoji La Pass linking Ladakh with Kashmir being snow-bound till June, thereby preventing Indian reinforcements.“Border Roads Organisation (BRO), through a superhuman effort, opened the pass in early May, paving the way for fresh troops and supplies being inducted and facilitated the ultimate victory,” he said and credited the junior leadership for proving its worth in Kargil and helping to defeat the enemy.Bajwa said Pakistan’s Northern Light Infantry (NLI), comprising locals who had spent their entire life in the mountains of Gilgit-Baltistan and superb at mountain warfare, played an important role from the Pakistan side. indian express
12-yr-old girl mowed down by Army vehicle in Kashmir’s Shopian district, protest erupts
Srinagar: A 12-year-old girl was on Thursday mowed down by an Army vehicle in south Kashmir’s Shopian district, police said.“Aroofa Farooq, a resident of the Aglar Zainapora area of the district, was hit and injured by an Army vehicle near her residence this morning,” a police official said. He said Aroofa was taken to the sub-district hospital, Zainapora, where she succumbed to her injuries. Soon after the incident, angry locals, including women and students, took to the streets at Zainpora and started protesting against the army.PTI
149 foreign militants active in Kashmir: LeT, JeM men on prowl
New Delhi:Security agencies have prepared a list of 149 foreign militants active in Kashmir ahead of a major counter-insurgency offensive to be executed in the coming days.The list, obtained by the Hindustan Times, has been jointly compiled by intelligence agencies, security forces and state police. Sources say the list is based on technical surveillance and human intelligence. Security experts, however, believe that it may not be an exhaustive list as the numbers may vary. According to the list, most of the foreign militants are listed as residents of either Pakistan or PoK. Security agencies have not been able to determine place of origin of some of the militants in the list, while some have “resident of PoK/Pakistan” written against their names.LeT tops the list with 109 of their men operating in the valley. Jaish-e-Mohammad is believed to have 30 militants and Hizbul Mujahideen, which is mostly composed of local Kashmiri militants,also has 10 foreigners.HT
OTHER
California University Historian Vinay Lal who talks on lynchings in India, sees state as 'somewhat thuggish', says problem is ‘nationalism’
Talking on the recent cases of lynchings in India, Professor Vinay Lal who teaches at University of California said, "There is no doubt in my mind that the kind of anti-Muslim sentiment in US or parts of Western Europe has repercussions, emboldens the advocates of Hindutva. The notion is that if Muslims, particularly in the so-called modern West, can be attacked, then we can do that too, we have the licence to do that. In the US, I see many advocates of Hindutva who are now suggesting US, India and Israel form a natural alliance with one another as, in their worldview, “these democracies” are being “threatened” by forces of Islam.This certainly was not the international environment in the ’60s or ’70s. That’s at the macro level. It is not just RSS or VHP but a slightly larger strand of Indian society that has become complicit in (these attacks), exactly like in the US.There was a virulent white racism that was so pervasive that you did not need to have institutional membership in the KKK or John Wright Society, people were complicit without a formal association." Replying to a question he said, "What do you do when the state becomes somewhat thuggish? So, people targeted are not just Muslims, but also Dalits and Africans. We should be attentive to it because there are groups of people whose very lives are at risk. Signals in all authoritarian states happens downwards. We don’t need to take the example of Hitler’s Nazi Germany or Stalin’s totalitarian state, you can turn to authoritarian states present now where you can see very clearly, it is same attitude at the top, middle and bottom. These problems are not distinct to India today, we see a similar repression and acute intolerance, including in the US. Turkey is in dire straits. China, Russia, [Rodrigo] Duterte in the Philippines…this could be attributed to what they are terming ‘strongman’ phenomenon. But I feel the problem is ‘nationalism’. It shows the limits of the nationalist project and what a disease it is. Now this is very hard for the newly independent formerly colonial countries to accept, which fought for freedom on the basis of the idea of nationalism, but wherever you had nationalist movements, you have had to rethink the nationalist idea. It has become the only kind of political community which we have to all pay obeisance to. What we see in India — and which is clear in a large number of other countries, especially US – is the difference between formal citizenship and real citizenship on the ground. In the US, African-Americans are only formal citizens without the rights of a citizen on the ground. This is the case for a large number of people in India." Responding to the question how does one un-thug the state,He said,"I would argue for a greater need for satyagraha as an instrument than which has a place in democracy. Especially where the law is sometimes used as an instrument for either doing nothing or installing new regimes of repression. As we are living in a democracy, at least pro forma, and we have a functioning court system, it is very important that what can be gained through satyagraha must be done.So organised, non-violent civil resistance has a place. It need not follow exactly what Gandhi did. So we must use satyagraha in different ways. This can’t just be done through social media or Facebook or Twitter — this needs people on the ground to build resistance. We need masses of people together, congregating. It cannot be left to social media." He added, "We must be clear that we should not let Hindutva forces hijack what we have. Unlike my friends on the Left-liberal end of the spectrum, I have great respect for the spiritual resources of the Indic civilisation, which includes aspects of the Indo-Islamic tradition which developed here, which was unprecedented. Buddhism, Jainism, everything. We have had writers, philosophers, who have reckoned with these questions for hundreds of years, I am not ready to call all that inconsequential.So yes,I am optimistic, on the whole." i.express
Adani Group ‘SLAPP’ Pushes EPW Editor Out of His Job
New Delhi: Economic & Political Weekly (EPW) editor Paranjoy Guha Thakurta became the first top-level editorial casualty of corporate India’s increasing tendency to file multi-crore defamation cases as a means of countering critical reporting, resigning after the directors of the trust which runs the storied journal ordered him to take down 2 articles on the Adani group.Last month, Adani Power Ltd. sent a letter via its lawyers to EPW, the article’s four authors (which included Thakurta) and Sameeksha Trust, which owns and runs the journal. The lawyer’s letter demanded that immediate steps be taken to “remove/delete and unconditionally retract” 2 articles – ‘Did the Adani Group Evade Rs 1,000 Crore in Taxes?’ (Jan.14, 2017) and ‘Modi Govt’s Rs 500-Crore Bonanza to the Adani Group’ (June 24, 2017) – that they said were defamatory and harmful to the reputation of their client.The letter said that unless this was done, “our clients shall be constrained to take such action as they may be advised”.On Tuesday, the Sameeksha Trust board, which met in Delhi, ordered the editorial dept to take the two articles down (alongside which Thakurta had also posted a copy of Adani letter and a legal response by EPW).Thakurta resigned soon after the meeting. He told The Wire that he was looking forward to spending more time with his family in Delhi. EPW’s editorial offices are in Mumbai. Sameeksha Trust chair Deepak Nayyar was not available for comment, nor were other board members that The Wire reached out to: historian Romila Thapar, political scientist Rajeev Bhargava and sociologist Dipankar Gupta. The Wire
Paranjoy Guha Thakurta quits as editor of Economic and Political Weekly over differences with board

VHP to recruit 5,000 ‘religious soldiers’ in Aligarh to control cow smuggling, love jihad
Aligarh: VHP will recruit 5,000 ‘religious soldiers’ in the district who will fight like commandos. They will be selected from among trained Bajrang Dal activists and will be responsible for controlling cow smuggling and love jihad. The enrolment drive will be launched in Sept. This decision was taken at a VHP meeting held in Aligarh on July 14-16,in which the outfit’s international president Pravin Togadia was also present. Sectional chief Ram Kumar Arya told HT, “5000 religious soldiers will be recruited in Aligarh district for which only those Bajrang Dal activists will be eligible who have completed bravery training. These soldiers will control cow smuggling and love jihad. They will also protect Hindu boys and girls, maths, temples, sant samaj and the country.”HT
Jharkhand: Mentally challenged Muslim thrashed on suspicion of being a cattle thief
Dhanbad:A mentally challenged Muslim man was assualted at Dharjori in Jharkhand’s Dhanbad district by people allegedly on suspicions that he was a cattle thief. Reports reaching the district headquarters in Dhanbad on Wednesday said the incident took place on Tuesday evening when Mohammed Afroz(27), a resident of Wasseypur, had gone Dharjori Chowk. Some youths there allegedly found his activities unusual and assaulted him sticks before fleeing. His injuries were, however, minor, said the doctors at Patliputra Medical College Hospital where he was rushed by the police after being informed by a passerby. East Basuria outpost in-charge Prem Chandra Hansda, who rushed in immediately said “All the miscreants had fled before I reached the spot.” He said no arrests were made as no complaint was lodged. However, investigation into it is on. The family members of Afroz also reached Dharjori Chowk on being informed by the passerby and showed documents of Ranchi mental hospital, where Afroz is being treated. The family members of the man said that he is under treatment for last 6 years. PTI
‘4 Muslims arrested for allegedly killing a cow in Gujarat’
Ahmedabad: Gujarat police arrested 4 Muslim men for allegedly killing a cow and booked them under a newly-enacted law, which provides for life term for slaughtering a cow. 4 were arrested for “killing” the cow which had entered their cattle shed in Maanpur village of Banaskantha district, said the police, adding they would be tried under the stringent Gujarat Animal Preservation Act-2017. Police identified 4 accused as Aiyub Vagadiya, Jamaluddin Vagadiya, Arif Vagadiya and Israilbhai Vagadiya of Maanpur village.The police arrested the 4 on a complaint by Kansa village resident Raghabhai Bumadiya, who approached Danta taluka police station yesterday and alleged that the accused had killed one of his cows after it entered their cattle shed. “Though his son tendered an apology, the accused attacked one of the cows in a fit of rage and killed the animal using sticks, choppers and axe. Based on his complaint, we lodged a case yesterday for killing the cattle," said Police Sub-Inspector AR Vala, adding that the 4 were arrested today. PTI 
Parliament Day 4: Centre rules out separate law against lynchings, Jaitley takes on lynching issue
Rajya Sabha continued discussion into the fourth day of the monsoon session of Parliament on Thursday and the debate in the Upper House largely focussed on the issue of H1-B visa, India-China border standoff and mob lynchings.The Opposition led by Congress targeted the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, with former law minister Kapil Sibal denouncing the lynchings over cow slaughter as “grotesque violence”. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley responded saying that the Govt  is fully committed to protecting Dalits and minorities.While discussing the Sikkim standoff, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said that India wants China to move troops from the Doklam trijunction for the two countries to begin talks on the dispute. hindustantimes
Centre rules out separate law against lynchings
Modi doing nothing to restrain cow vigilantes: Cong in Rajya Sabha
New Delhi: The Congress on Thursday accused PM  Narendra Modi of "double speak" on the issue of lynchings and alleged that he was doing nothing to restrain cow vigilantes who include elements from VHP and Bajrang Dal.Congress leader Kapil Sibal, while speaking in the Rajya Sabha, also alleged that the present environment has nothing to do with vigilantism but the PM  was "creating such environment".PTI
Lynching debate: Don't give it political colour, says Jaitley; Sikhs lynched in 1984, says Javadekar
Mayawati’s submits fresh resignation, RS chairman accepts
BSP chief Mayawati’s resignation from the Rajya Sabha was accepted on Thursday by chairman Hamid Ansari, a senior official of the Upper House said.61-year-old had submitted a fresh resignation letter as per the prescribed format, tendering a hand-written one- line letter, he said, wishing not to be named as he was not authorised to comment.PTI
Students' Islamic Organisation urges Adityanath to improve standards of govt run schools
The student wing of the Jamaat- e-Islami Hind today urged the Yogi Adityanath regime to take necessary steps to improve the standards of schools run by the UP govt.The student body -- Students' Islamic Organisation of India made the request while referring to two-year-old Allahabad High Court order which had called for making it compulsory for all those who drew salary from the state exchequer to send their children to govt schools."Kendriya Vidyalayas across the country, which are run by the central govt, have been providing good education.There is no reason why schools run by state govts can not achieve similar standards. The Allahabad High Court order could have gone a long way in improving the lot of govt schools in UP had it been complied with," the outfit's national secretary Tauseef Ahmed Madikeri said here."...we believe that the BJP govt led by CM  Yogi Adityanath has the political will to take a decision which can revolutionise education in the state," he said.Madikeri said the High Court had specifically stated that once children of elected representatives, Govt  servants, members of judiciary start going to state-run schools, it would lead to conditions that would necessitate improving the lot of such educational institutions.PTI
Muslim woman drops plan to join BEd course in Malappuram after institution objects on wearing Purdah
Kozhikode;A Muslim woman has dropped her plan to join a teacher training course at an institute in neighbouring Malappuram district after the institution told her that she could not attend classes wearing ‘Purdah’. Husna, decided not to pursue her BEd course at Jamia Nadwiya Teacher Training Institute run by Kerala Naduvathul Mujahideen (KNM), a Muslim organisation. “We decided that Husna will wear Purdah as it would be more comfortable and safer than sari and approached the authorities even though there is a stipulation in the institute that students should wear sari 3 days in a week” as uniform”, Husna’s husband P Harshad Muhammed said when contacted. Harshad said that he had written a letter to KNM pointing out that some other institutions run by Muslim organisations allowed students to attend classes wearing Purdah. But the authorities at the institute refused her plea stating that there was a dress code in the institution, he said. “In this circumstance, she has decided to drop the plan of joining the institute”, he said. When contacted, a senior official of the institution said rules could not be relaxed for an individual. “If we relax the rule for one person now, there will be such demands from others also”, the official said.PTI
Preferring 'purdah' over 'sari', Muslim woman drops plan to join teacher training course
BJP wing, Hindu Jagran Manch shut Kashmiri’s shop in Mussoorie
Dehradun :A Kashmiri garment trader’s shop was forcibly shut down in Mussoorie on Wednesday after an alleged post praising the Pakistan Army was found on his Facebook page.Manzoor Ahmad, 59, from Hamhama in Kashmir’s Budgam district, is among the five oldest trader families in Mussoorie. His shop has been selling garments since 1971.His shop was shut down by the Mussoorie BJP youth wing and the Hindu Jagran Manch after they said they found a video appreciating the Pakistan Army, posted by Ahmad on Facebook. “After getting his (Ahmad’s) shop closed, we and the local traders’ body (the Mussoorie Traders & Welfare Association) went to the police station to file a complaint against him,” the president of the BJP youth wing in Mussoorie, Dharampal Singh Panwar, said. indianexpress
Mumbai: ATS files draft charges against Anees Ansari man for school terror chatting
Mumbai: Special ATS prosecutor on Wednesday submitted draft charges before the sessions court against Anees Ansari, the Kurla resident who was arrested by the state ATS in Oct.2015, after he was allegedly found chatting online about attacking US establishments and a school in Bandra.Special Public Prosecutor Madhukar Dalvi, who submitted the draft charges, is likely to argue on Aug.1. The draft charges state, "Ansari, during the period from August 2, 2011, to October 18, 2014, created a fake account on Facebook and began chatting with other users at random, as well as downloading incriminating data by misusing the computers and Internet connection at his office, without taking appropriate permission from the officer who was in charge of the premises."MID DAY
Anti-Hindi protesters blacken Hindi name boards in 5 Bengaluru metro stations
Bengaluru:Anti-Hindi protests by Kannada activists resumed at Bengaluru's Metro stations after a brief lull. Hindi name boards of five Metro stations -- Yeshwantpur, Peenya, Deepanjali Nagar, Jayanagar and Mysore Road -- were blackened by Kannada Rakshana Vedike activists late Wednesday night, a police official said.Local police posted security details outside all the 42 Metro stations after the defacement came to light today morning. Meanwhile, pro-Kannada activists held a protest outside Rajaji Nagar Metro station this morning. The anti-Hindi protests began on July 3 when activists masked the Hindi name boards of the Nadaprabhu Kempe Gowda and Chickpet metro stations new Indian express
In a first, Shia cleric to teach at AMU
Agra: In an unprecedented move, AMU has appointed prominent Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawad Naqvi, general secretary of Majlis-e-Ulama-e-Hind, as an adjunct faculty in Shia theology in the university for a year. He is among 12 faculty members drawn from across the globe who would be teaching AMU students, officials said.According to AMU registrar Javaid Akhtar, though this was the first time that a cleric would be teaching students at AMU, Kalbe Jawad had been chosen for his expertise in the subject. He is a prominent Shia Muslim cleric and scholar from Lucknow. timesofindia
WORLD
Kuwait closes Iran cultural mission, expels diplomats
Kuwait is closing the Iranian cultural mission and related offices in the Gulf Arab state and reducing the number of Iranian diplomats stationed in the country, according to the official news agency, KUNA. KUNA said on Thursday the move is related to the case of a "terrorist" cell broken up in 2015 that authorities allege had contacts with Iran and Hezbollah.The KUNA report says the Iranian ambassador to Kuwait has been notified.Last month, the Kuwait's supreme court sentenced the suspected leader of the cell to life in jail and condemned 20 others to various prison terms.State Minister for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah al-Sabah, who is also acting information minister, confirmed that Kuwait had taken diplomatic action against Iran but declined to specify the measures."Following the supreme court ruling on the case ... the Govt  of Kuwait has decided to take measures, in accordance with diplomatic norms and the Vienna Convention, towards its relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran," Sabah told AFP.The supreme court, whose rulings are final, overturned the acquittal of the suspects on June 18 and sentenced them to between 5 and 15 years in prison. Kuwait's interior ministry confirmed on Tuesday that 14 of the cell's 26 members were on the run, but said that they had not left the country through official exit points. aljazeera
Qatar faults 'disorganised' conduct by Saudi-led group
A Govt  official in Qatar said on Wednesday that the 4 Arab countries blockading it have acted dangerously and in a "disorganised manner" after apparently changing their demands. Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain said Tuesday that Qatar should commit to 6 principles on combatting "terrorism" and negotiate a plan to implement them. 4countries had initially made 13 sweeping demands, including shuttering Al Jazeera, which Qatar dismissed as an infringement on its sovereignty. Sheikh Saif bin Ahmed Al Thani, director of Qatari govt's communications office, said the four countries have "regularly issued conflicting statements". He said there had been no official communication made to Qatar directly or via Kuwait or the United States, who have tried to mediate the crisis."These latest comments are another example of the dangerous and disorganised manner in which the illegal blockade has been conducted," he said in an emailed response to questions from The Associated Press.
US praises Qatar's role in fight against 'terrorism'
Gulf blockade countries abandon demands to end crisis with Qatar: middleeastmonitor
Diplomatic sources from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain and Egypt said the four countries boycotting Qatar have dropped their list of 13 demands to end the crisis with Qatar. The four countries want Qatar to accept six principles including a pledge to fight terrorism and extremism and end incitement, diplomats said during a meeting with reporters at the UN.The sources added that the countries now want to end the worsening crisis.
US ends laptop ban on Middle East carriers
US has ended a ban on passengers carrying laptops on board US-bound flights from certain airports in the Middle East and North Africa, bringing to an end one of the controversial travel restrictions imposed by President Donald Trump's administration. Riyadh's King Khalid International Airport was the last of 10 airports to be exempted from the ban, which was launched four months ago, the US Dept of Homeland Security (DHS) confirmed in a tweet late on Wednesday.Middle East carriers have blamed Trump's travel restrictions, which include banning citizens of some Muslim majority countries from visiting the US, for a downturn in demand on US routes.
 Drug addiction & intrigue, why Saudi King ordered Mohammed bin Nayef to step aside for younger prince
On Tuesday June 21, Mohammed bin Nayef, a powerful figure in Saudi Arabia’s security apparatus for the past two decades and the next in line to the throne, was summoned to meet King Salman bin Abdulaziz on the fourth floor of the royal palace in Mecca.There, according to a source close to MbN, as he is known, the king ordered him to step aside in favour of the king’s favourite son, Mohammed bin Salman. The reason:an addiction to painkilling drugs was clouding MbN’s judgment. “King came to meet MbN and they were alone in the room. He told him: ‘I want you to step down, you didn’t listen to the advice to get treatment for your addiction which dangerously affects your decisions’,”said the source close to MbN.The new details about the extraordinary meeting between the king and MbN that touched off the de facto palace coup help to explain the events that are reshaping the leadership of the world’s biggest oil exporting nation.Sources with knowledge of the situation said however that the king was determined to elevate his son to be heir to the throne and used MbN’s drug problem as a pretext to push him aside. 3 royal insiders, 4 Arab officials with links to the ruling house of Saud, and diplomats in the region, told Reuters that MbN was surprised to be ordered to step aside.“It was a big shock to MbN,” said a Saudi political source close to MbN. “It was a coup. He wasn’t prepared.”The sources said MbN did not expect to be usurped by the often impulsive Mohammed bin Salman, who MbN considered to have made a number of policy blunders, such as his handling of the Yemen conflict and cutting financial benefits to civil servants. King moved ahead of a meeting of the Political and Security Council. The meeting was due to start at 11pm, but a few hours before that, MbN received what he viewed as a routine phone call from Mohammed bin Salman. According to the source close to MbN, Mohammed bin Salman told MbN that the king wanted to see him.In the hours that followed the meeting in which MbN was dismissed, the House of Saud’s Allegiance Council, comprising the ruling family’s senior members, were informed of a letter written in the name of the king.Drafted by palace advisers to MbS, it said MbN had a medical condition - drug addiction - and “we have been trying for over two years to persuade him to seek treatment but to no avail”.“Because of this dangerous situation we see that he should be relieved of his position and that Mohammed bin Salman be appointed in his place,” the Saudi source close to MbN quoted excerpts of the letter as saying.The letter was read over the phone to members of the Allegiance Council, while MbN was kept isolated in a room all night, his mobile phone removed, and cut off from contact with his aides. His bodyguards from elite paramilitary interior ministry units were also replaced.Envoys were sent to council members to get their signatures. All but 3 of 34 signed. The coup had worked. According to 2 Saudi sources with links to the royal house, only 3 members of council opposed his overthrow: Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, ex-interior minister, Abdulaziz bin Abdallah, a representative of the family of late king Abdallah, and Prince Mohammad bin Saad, ex-deputy governor of Riyadh. Reuters
Saudi Prince Arrested Over Leaked Abuse Videos
A Saudi prince was arrested Thursday on King Salman's order, a state-run broadcaster reported, as outrage grew on social media over videos appearing to show him abusing members of the public.Salman issued a warrant for 'the immediate arrest ... and imprisonment' of Prince Saudi, a descendent of Saudi's founder, along with a group of men who appeared in the videos uploaded to YouTube, Al-Ikhbariya television reported.A video circulating on social media showed police escorting the young prince one of the thousands of members of the royal family out of a house in handcuffs. The arrest came after the prince, whose face can clearly be seen in some of the videos shared via Twitter Wednesday, unleashed a wave of verbal and physical abuse on Saudis and foreigners.AFP
Fresh rallies planned as Israel weighs al-Aqsa security
Fresh rallies are planned in the Gaza Strip in solidarity with worshippers at al-Aqsa Mosque as Israel weighs whether to remove recently installed metal detectors at compound. Thursday's expected protests follow days of clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem over the new security measures introduced at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.Metal detectors and turnstiles were installed at the holy site after a deadly shoot-out there on Friday.In that incident, two Israeli security officers were killed in an alleged attack by three Palestinians, who were killed by Israeli police following the violence.On Wednesday, Israeli PM  Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by phone from Hungary with Israel's security chiefs to hear their assessments and recommendations, according to a statement by his office.Israel's internal security service, Shin Bet, has recommended that the metal detectors be removed, but Jerusalem police have said that the barriers should stay in place. Al Jazeera's Imran Khan, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem, said Palestinians are "incredibly worried" about the police stance."They see this as an escalation of Israeli sovereignty over al-Aqsa compound," Khan said. "Palestinians are asking what happens next." Anadolu agency
Hamas warns Israel of al-Aqsa 'red lines' amid protest
Palestinian group Hamas has warned Israel against crossing a "red line" at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, as residents of the Gaza Strip demonstrate for a second day in solidarity with Muslim worshippers protesting against the new security measures at the holy site. Aljazeera
Hardline Israelis 'storm' Al-Aqsa Mosque
Jerusalem:Further fueling tensions at the holy site, a large group of hardline Israelis "stormed" the compound of Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque on Thursday morning, according to officials at the scene. In an unauthorized move, some 182 Israeli settlers entered the mosque compound, guarded by Israeli police, Firas al-Dibs, a media official in Jerusalem's Islamic Endowments Department (Waqf), said. Anadolu
Israel passes bill aimed at preventing division ofJerusalem
A bill aimed at preventing any future divisions of Jerusalem, by requiring a two-third majority in Israel’s parliament in order to do so, passed its preliminary reading in the Knesset today. The bill, titled “Basic Law: Jerusalem, the Capital of Israel”, passed with 58 Members of Knesset (MKs) voting in favour, 48 voting against, and one MK abstaining from the vote, according to a statement released by the Govt  body.The bill aims to mend Israel’s Basic Law on Jerusalem to necessitate the approval of 80 of the 120 Knesset members to make any changes to the law, instead of the regular majority vote.According to the statement, the proposal explains that the bill has a “security purpose”.“Since the [Israeli occupation army] IDF’s withdrawal from Lebanon [in 2000] and the disengagement from the Gaza Strip [in 2005] proved that wherever Israel withdraws from, terrorist factors enter, threatening the security of citizens of Israel,” the bill reportedly states, insinuating that if Israel withdrew from occupied East Jerusalem, it would be taken over by “terrorist” factions. middleeastmonitor
'Trump ends CIA support for anti-Assad Syria rebels'
Trump administration has decided to halt the CIA's covert programme to equip and train certain rebel groups in Syria fighting the Govt  of President Bashar al-Assad, 2 US officials said, a move sought by Assad ally Russia.The Washington Post was first to report the programme's suspension on Wednesday. US decision, said one of the officials, is part of an effort by the administration to improve relations with Russia, which, along with Iranian-supported groups, has largely succeeded in preserving Assad's Govt in civil war. Aljazeera
Merkel urges Iraq to probe alleged rights abuses in Mosul
German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Iraqi PM  Haider al-Abadi to investigate alleged human rights abuses that occurred during military operations to regain control of the city of Mosul from Daesh militants.Merkel telephoned al-Abadi to congratulate him on the victory of US-backed Iraqi forces in Mosul, calling it a “big step forward in the fight against Islamic State,” her spokesman Steffen Seibert said. middleeastmonitor
US report names Iran as world's leading state sponsor of terrorism along with Sudan, Syria
Washington: US  has said Iran continues to be the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism along with Sudan and Syria.All the three countries have been on this list of the US for the past several decades.Iran was designated as state sponsor of terrorism in 1984 and Sudan in 1993. Syria was designated as state sponsor of terrorism way back in 1979.PTI
Turkey’s new curriculum: Evolution out, ‘jihad’ in
Ankara:Final version of Turkey’s national school curriculum has left evolution out and added the concept of “jihad” as part of Islamic law in books, Education Minister İsmet Yılmaz said on July 18. The new curriculum will be put into execution for first, fifth, and ninth graders starting from this year, and it will extend to other classes in the 2018-2019 academic year. Accordingly, a total of 176 class curricula have been renewed. “Jihad is an element in our religion; it is in our religion…The duty of the Education Ministry is to teach every concept deservedly, in a correct way. It is also our job to correct things that are wrongly perceived, seen or taught,” Yılmaz announced at a press meeting in the Turkish capital Ankara.  “In this manner, in the lessons on Islamic law and basic religion sciences, there will be [the concept of] jihad. But what is this jihad? What our Prophet [Muhammad] says is that while returning from a war, we are going from a small jihad to a big jihad. What is this big jihad? It is to serve our society, to increase welfare, to ensure peace in society, to serve the society’s needs. The easiest thing is to wage war, to fight. The skill is the difficult one, which is to ensure peace and tranquility,” he said. Speaking about the controversial decision to exclude evolution, Yılmaz said it was not included in the national curriculum “because it is above the students’ level and not directly relevant.” hurriyetdailynews
Amnesty:Cameroon troops tortured Boko Haram suspects
Cameroon forces have killed and tortured dozens of people accused of supporting Boko Haram, often without evidence, in the fight against the armed group, Amnesty International said. Most of the torture is happening at a base that has also been used by US and French troops, international rights body said on Thursday.Amnesty's report documented 101 cases of arbitrary arrest and torture by Cameroonian troops between 2013 and 2017 at more than 20 different sites.Some of the victims were tortured to death, it said.Of the 101 documented individuals, 32 claimed to have witnessed the death of a fellow prisoner, according to NGO. Victims included women, the disabled and the mentally ill, the report said."They asked me to tell them if I knew members of Boko Haram," Amnesty cited a prisoner as saying. "That's when the guard tied my hands and feet behind my back and started to beat me with an electric cable while throwing water on me at the same time,"aljazeera
Pak SC warns Sharif's children of 7-yr jail if papers found forged
 The children of Pakistan PM  Nawaz Sharif could face up to 7 years in jail if it was proved that they had submitted fake documents to the Panama panel probing the money laundering allegations against the family, the Supreme Court warned today. The SC heard the Panamagate scandal case for the fourth consecutive day since the hearing began on Monday, following submission of a report by the JIT on July 10, which was tasked by the court to probe allegation of corruption against Sharif and his family."The punishment for submitting forged documents in the court is seven years in jail," warned the three-member panel of judges.The JIT among other things has observed that some of the documents submitted by the children of Sharif, 67, were tampered with.PTI

FLASH: NEWS & VIEWS
We are all living in a graveyard of sorts: Arundhati Roy in an interview with Zia us Salam, Frontline
Brahmins are as victimised as Dalits and Muslims in BJP’s UP : Amaresh Misra
Why is India's next president so unknown? BBC
Save Our Science: BJP is taking India's scientific standing to an all-time low:RANJAN CRASTA
The Noida society case shows how unfair India can be to its poor and marginalised: Shoaib Daniyal
Arrest of Muslim Man for Receiving Phone Message Highlights Police Misuse of ‘Sedition’: Divya Karthikeyan
Communal violence tests limits of populist politics that cannot think beyond the immediate:Ranabir Samaddar
 Compiled and edited by Anwarulhaq (Released at: 8:57 PM)


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