27 November 2020

Bharat bandh: Complete shutdown in Kerala, clashes and road blockades disrupt life in Bengal. Over 50,000 To Stand At Delhi Border Today, Says Farmers' Body. Indian Army to get drones from Israel, America for surveillance along China border


26-11-2020 ,23:41 IST


Bharat bandh: Complete shutdown in Kerala, clashes and road blockades disrupt life in Bengal

Normal life came to a complete halt in Left-ruled Kerala while it was partially affected in West Bengal, Tripura, Tamil Nadu and Odisha due to the 24-hour nationwide strike called by various trade unions in protest against the Centre’s economic policies and contentious farm laws. While intermittent clashes between Left activists and police were reported in several parts of Bengal, other states saw road blockades, leading to disruption of vehicular movement.The bandh, called by 10 central trade unions, except the BJP-aligned Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, was near total in Kerala, with government offices, business establishments and banks remaining shut. The streets were also deserted as private buses, auto rickshaws and taxis did not ply.In state capital Thiruvananthapuram, where trade unions like CITU and INTUC wield considerable influence, the bandh saw shops and businesses remaining closed and police vehicles ferried people to hospitals from railway stations and bus stands. In financial hub Kochi, metro services witnessed no interruptions even though the number of passengers dropped significantly. In West Bengal, activists of CPI(M)-affiliated outfits like CITU and DYFI hit the streets in Jadavpur, Garia, Kamalgazi, Lake Town and Dumdum areas in Kolkata and forced shopkeepers to pull down shutters. A large police contingent was deployed in and around the city to oversee smooth flow of traffic and avoid any flare ups.While the ruling Trinamool Congress government did not support the strike, they said it backed the economic issues on which the Left and Congress were protesting.In neighbouring Odisha, trade union activists staged road blockade in state capital Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Rourkela, Sambalpur, Berhampur, Bhadrak, Balasore, Khurda, Rayagada and Paradip even though no untoward incidents were reported from any part of the state. In Tamil Nadu, about 50,000 trade union members staged demonstrations, holding rallies in all districts barring 13, including Chennai, which faced the wrat of cyclone Nivar. Most shops and markets were closed and movement of vehicles was skeletal in Tripura — a former Left bastion.


Farmers protest LIVE updates: Delhi Metro services from NCR to remain suspended on Friday

Ahead of “Delhi chalo” protest march by farmers against the Centre’s contentious farm laws , Delhi Metro services from neighbouring cities to the national capital will remain suspended on Friday, DMRC announced. However, metro services will be available from Delhi towards the NCR sections.Thousands of Punjab farmers protesting against the Centre’s  ,as part of their ‘Delhi Chalo’ march have entered Haryana. Police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the farmers who broke barricades, throwing some into the river at the state’s border with Haryana. Two government and a private vehicle was also vandalized on the Jind-Patiala highway.


Over 50,000 To Stand At Delhi Border Today, Says Farmers' Body

New Delhi: Modified tractors, carrying rations, woollens, essential items and people, trundled through Haryana in the chilly winter evening as thousands of Punjab farmers protesting against the Centre's new farm laws, slowly moved closer to Delhi, undeterred by police barricades, tear gas and water cannons. "More than 50,000 farmers will be standing at the Delhi border by today evening," two farmers' bodies claimed. The day has been replete with clashes -- on one occasion the protesters even pitched the yellow iron barricades into the river below while trying to cross a narrow bridge. Leaders in Punjab and Haryana, meanwhile, carried on a political tussle, with the BJP accusing the Congress of brainwashing farmers for its own interests and the Congress hitting back with sharp questions.


‘Today is Punjab’s 26/11,’ says Sukhbir Badal on Haryana government’s attempt to stop farmers’ march

Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal on Thursday severely criticised the Manohar Lal Khattar government in Haryana for using tear gas and water canons against farmers to stop their protest march to Delhi against the Centre’s agricultural laws, calling the attempt “Punjab’s 26/11”.Badal’s “26/11” remark was in reference to the 20008 Mumbai attacks.


Dilli chalo march: As Capt questions use of ‘brute force’, Khattar says ‘stop inciting farmers’

As Haryana used its might, including tear gas, water cannons and multilayer barricading, on Thursday in an attempt to stop farmers from marching to Delhi to protest against the agri laws, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and his Punjab counterpart Capt Amarinder Singh engaged in a virtual war of words. While Amarinder slammed Haryana’s move to stop farmers as “totally undemocratic and unconstitutional”, Khattar told the Punjab CM to stop “inciting innocent farmers”. Amarinder, however, hit back at Khattar asking if he was inciting the farmers then why were the peasants from Haryana too marching to Delhi.“Shocked at your response @mlkhattar ji. It’s the farmers who’ve to be convinced on MSP, not me. You should’ve tried to talk to them before their #DilliChalo. And if you think I’m inciting farmers then why are Haryana farmers also marching to Delhi,” Amarinder asked in a tweet.“As for endangering lives during #COVID19, have you forgotten that it was @BJP4India led central govt that pushed through those #FarmLaws amid the pandemic, uncaring about the impact they’d have on our farmers? Why didn’t you speak out then @mlkhattar Ji,” Punjab CM asked Khattar.PTI


Indian Army to get drones from Israel, America for surveillance along China border

NEW DELHI: In a major boost to its capabilities, the Indian Army is soon going to get Israeli Heron and American mini drones for upgrading its surveillance capabilities in Eastern Ladakh and other areas along the China border. "The deals for the acquisition of the Heron surveillance drones is in the final stages and is expected to be inked in December. The Herons are going to be deployed in the Ladakh sector and they will be more advanced than the existing fleet in the Indian armed forces," government sources were quoted as saying by ANI. The acquisition of these drones is being done under the emergency financial powers granted by Modi-led government to the defence forces under which they can buy equipment and systems worth ₹500 crores to upgrade their warfighting capabilities, amid ongoing border conflict with China, they added.According to sources, the other small or mini drones are being acquired from the US that will be provided at the Battalion level to the troops on ground and the hand-operated drones would be used to attain awareness about a specific location or area in their respective areas of responsibility.ANI

Israel plans memorial for 26/11 victims in Eilat, Envoy says perpetrators must be booked

Israel envoy to India Ron Malka in an exclusive interview with India Today TV gave a stern message saying there should be zero-tolerance against any kind of terrorism and urged world leaders to unite for the cause.Speaking on the 26/11 Mumbai attack and Pakistan's involvement, he said any country supporting terrorism should be eliminated. Ron Malka also informed that Israel is planning a memorial for 26/11 victims in Eilat in the southern coastal city of Israel. He said, "We stand with the families of the victims. The perpetrators should be brought to book."


India to offer incentives for solar modules renewable energy business potential USD 20 bln yrly says PM Modi; Netanyahu says Israel to collaborate with India in Green Energy

New Delhi:Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said India will offer production-linked incentives for high-efficiency solar modules to boost the generation of electricity from renewable sources which has the potential to generate an annual business USD 20 billion.Speaking at RE-Invest 2020 conference, he invited global investors to join India's renewable energy journey. "There are huge renewable energy deployment plans for the next decade," he said, adding that these are likely to generate business prospects of the order of around USD 20 billion per year. At current exchange rates, USD 20 billion translates to around Rs 1.5 lakh crore and Rs 15 lakh crore in a decade.     Prime Minister of Israel  Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking on the occasion reaffirmed Indo-Israeli friendship and resolved to collaborate in the area of green energy. Netanyahu said that future of the world is clean energy. He said that at present, 10 per cent of energy consumed by Israel comes from solar source and the target is to increase it to 25 per cent by 2030.

China, India in ‘candid communication’ to disengage troops at LAC, says Chinese military

Srinagar/Jammu: China and India have maintained “candid and in-depth communication and coordination” to promote disengagement in areas along the LAC in eastern Ladakh after the eighth round of talks to resolve the current standoff, the Chinese military said on Thursday.The Chinese and Indian militaries held the eighth round of Corps Commander-level meeting on November 6 to resolve the military standoff that erupted in early May.“Since the 8th round of China-India Corps Commander-level meeting, the situation in the China-India border areas have remained stable on the whole Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang, spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defence told an online media briefing responding to a question on the current situation at the India-China border.“Following the meeting, China and India have maintained candid and in-depth communication and coordination to promote disengagement in areas along the Line of Actual Control in the western sector of China-India boundary,” Ren was quoted as saying by official website of the Ministry of Defence of China.PTI


PM Modi: India needs ‘One Nation, One Election’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing the concluding session of the 80th All India Presiding Officers Conference on Thursday, pitched for ‘One Nation, One Election’, stating it is what India needs as conducting polls every few months impact development works.PTI


Press Council says Indian media is responsible for verifying foreign content before publishing

New Delhi: Press Council of India (PCI) has advised the media to publish extracts of foreign content only after due verification.An advisory issued by the media watchdog Wednesday stated PCI has considered references received “by the govt” about the responsibility of Indian papers in publishing foreign content. The council is of the view that unregulated circulation of the foreign content is “not desirable”.It goes on to advise the media to “publish foreign extracts in Indian newspapers with due verification as the reporter, publisher and editor of such newspaper shall be responsible for the contents, irrespective of the source from which it is received”.Sources in the council said the advisory comes after it received several complaints over various Indian media outlets publishing reports or extracts from foreign publications, some of which have been seen as critical of the Government of India and the ruling BJP.


CBI books senior Congress leader in Roshni land Act case, former minister alleges witch hunt

Srinagar: CBI has filed an FIR against senior Congress leader and former J&K minister Taj Mohiuddin for allegedly being in illegal possession of forest land in south Kashmir’s Shopian region.The case against Mohiuddin was being probed by the J&K govt's anti-corruption bureau (ACB), formerly known as the State Vigilance Organisation, since 2016. However, CBI took over the case this week, registering a fresh FIR Tuesday to investigate allegations that Mohiuddin was in illegal possession of 13.16 kanals of forest land in Sedow area of Shopian. PTI quoted CBI officials as saying that the agency had received a complaint from the ACB in the case.The senior Congress leader, who has held multiple ministerial portfolios, was named in CBI FIR along with four senior officials of J&K govt — Mohammad Ramzan Thakur, then deputy commissioner, Mohammad Yosuf Zargar, then additional deputy commissioner, Hafizullah Shah, then assistant commissioner (revenue) and Hassan Rather, then tehsildar of the area.


Former J&K chief secretary moves Supreme Court against scrapping of Roshni Act

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary Mohammed Shafi Pandit on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court against the High Court order to scrap Jammu and Kashmir State Land (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001, which is also knows as the Roshni Act, PTI reported.The former bureaucrat and his wife were named in the list of alleged beneficiaries under the Act. The list was published online by the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Monday.Shafi alleged that the list was not accurate and had portrayed the beneficiaries in a negative way. He added that there were attempts to “overreach the judicial authority”.


Ban on 4G internet in J&K extended till December 11 citing Pakistan’s ‘attempts to disrupt’ DDC poll

Jammu and Kashmir administration on Thursday extended the curbs on use of high-speed internet services in the Union Territory till December 11, citing “continued attempts from across the border” to disrupt the upcoming District Development Council elections, among other reasons.Earlier this month, the government had extended the ban till November 26 across the Union Territory, except in Ganderbal and Udhampur districts.In an order issued by Shaleen Kabra, Jammu and Kashmir’s Principal Secretary, a copy of which has been accessed by, the government said there are “well founded apprehensions” of efforts from Pakistan to cause “public disaffection, recruitment in the terrorists’ ranks as well as infiltration attempts”. The order said such attempts are dependent on high-speed Internet.



Love Jihad: Haryana forms 3-member panel to frame law; MP mulls 10 years jail for offenders

Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij on Thursday announced that a three-member drafting committee has been formed to frame law on "love jihad" in the state.Vij said that the committee comprising T L Satyaprakash (IAS) Secretary Home, ADGP Navdeep Sing Virk (IPS) and Additional Advocate General Deepak Manchanda will also study the love jihad law of other states."A three-member Drafting Committee formed to frame law on "love jihad" in Haryana comprising T L Satyaprakash IAS Secretary Home, Navdeep Sing Virk IPS ADGP and Deepak Manchanda Additional Advocate General Haryana Committee will study the "love jihad" law formed in other states also," Vij tweeted.The issue of "love jihad" has been on the boil for the past few weeks after the death of a 21-year-old college student, who was shot point-blank outside her college allegedly by a stalker and his friend in Ballabgarh in October.


MP Govt mulls increasing jail term provision to 10 yrs in ‘love jehad’

Bhopal:To formulate a law against Love Jihad,  Home Minister Narottam Mishra here on Wednesday convened a meeting on the issue, devising a consensus for increasing jail term from proposed five years to ten years to those who are found engaged in love jihad.Earlier, the Home minister Narottam Mishra while announcing a plan to bring in a bill to check instances of love jihad had said that the provision will have upto five-year jail-term for offenders.Including from the Muslim community, several quarters of the society in Madhya Pradesh as elsewhere have raise stiff opposition to the proposed legislation but the BJP Government including the Home Ministers, have stood the ground on the matter.


Landline to mobile calls will need a ‘0’ prefix from January 15: Centre

Fixed line users will have to add a “0” before dialing any mobile number in the country from January 15, the Ministry of Communications said in a statement.“All Fixed to Mobile calls will be dialed with prefix ‘0’ from 15th January, 2021,” the Centre said. “There will be no change in dialing plan from fixed to fixed, mobile to fixed and mobile to mobile calls.”


India worst in Asia with 39% people taking to bribery, says survey; exposes PM’s claim of checking corruption

Demolishing tall claims made by the Modi government that corruption in public life has gone down during its tenure, a recent survey has revealed that 39% Indians were forced to take to bribery to avail public services.As per the survey, titled “Global Corruption Barometer for Asia”, in India alone 89 per cent respondents said that government corruption remains a big problem.The survey, which was conducted in 17 Asian countries, revealed that one out of every five people claimed to have bribed officials in the last 12 months to use public services.According to the survey, India topped the list of countries – trailing Cambodia with 37 per cent, Indonesia at 30 per cent, South Korea with 10 per cent and Japan and the Maldives at 2 per cent – where bribery is rampant.Six key public services were covered in the survey: police, courts, public hospitals, procurement of identity documents and utilities.According to the survey, 42 per cent of people who came into contact with the police paid bribes. Use of personal connections was also largely made in dealings with the police (39 %), procurement of ID documents (42%) and in relation to courts (38%), revealed the survey.The report highlights while reporting of corruption is critical, 63 per cent of respondents feared retaliation.It is worth recalling here that Narendra Modi-led NDA came to power in 2014 riding an anti-corruption movement led by a non-political organization called ‘India Against Corruption’. PM Modi himself has, time and again, claimed that corruption has decreased in his regime. However, the survey proves that his statement “Na khaunga, na khane dunga” (won’t indulge in corruption, won’t let other do so too) is just another ‘jumla’.


TRP scam: Bombay HC allows Republic TV to challenge Mumbai Police charge sheet

Bombay High Court on Wednesday allowed Republic TV’s parent company ARG Outlier to amend their petition against the charge sheet filed by the Mumbai Police in an alleged fake Television Rating Points scam, reported Bar and Bench. The Mumbai Police’s Crime Intelligence Unit on Tuesday filed a charge sheet in a magistrate’s court in the alleged scam.The original petition sought quashing of the first information report against Republic TV and its employees, including Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, and order for the transfer of the inquiry from the Mumbai Police Crime Branch to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Parkinson patient Stan Swamy’s wait for straw, sipper gets longer as NIA denies confiscating them

Mumbai :A court here on Thursday once again sought a reply from NIA on 83-year-old tribal rights activist Father Stan Swamy’s request that he be provided a straw and sipper in jail. Swamy, arrested in the alleged Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, on Thursday also filed a bail plea in the special NIA court, citing health issues, including Parkinson’s disease.Arrested on October 8, he has been lodged at the Taloja prison near Mumbai.Father Stan Swamy is a Jesuit priest and a tribal rights activist based in Jharkhand.The court, earlier in the day, rejected his previous application seeking a direction to NIA to return the straw and sipper allegedly seized from him during his arrest.He needs a straw and sipper as he has trouble eating and drinking because his hands shake due to Parkinson’s disease, he had said.PTI


Hathras case: CBI submits status report of inquiry to Allahabad HC

CBI on Wednesday submitted the status report of its investigation into the Hathras case in a sealed cover to the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court, which took suo motu cognizance of the hurried cremation of the victim by the district administration.The victim was a 19-year-old Dalit woman, who was murdered after being allegedly gangraped by men belonging to upper castes.


Delhi riots: HC asks police to file report on vigilance inquiry on leakage of confessional statement

Delhi High Court Thursday asked the Delhi Police to file report on vigilance inquiry conducted on the allegation of leaking to media confessional statement of a Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) university student, who was arrested in a case related to communal violence in northeast Delhi during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.Justice Vibhu Bakhru also asked the police to indicate in the status report, further steps which it proposes to take in this regard.The high court was informed by advocate Amit Mahajan, representing the Delhi Police, that the vigilance inquiry with regard to the confessional statement being leaked from the case diaries has been concluded. He sought time to file the status report in this regard.The high court was hearing a plea by JMI student Asif Iqbal Tanha alleging misconduct by police officials in leaking his disclosure statement, recorded by the probe agency during the investigation, to the media.Advocate Siddharth Aggarwal, appearing for Tanha, submitted that apart from examining the question as to the steps taken by the police regarding the leak of documents, a cognisable offence has also been committed and it is necessary to take proper action.He contended that the action of the media houses -- Zee News Media Corporation Ltd and OpIndia -- in placing such documents in the media violated the programme code and sought time to file a written statement in this regard.PTI


BJP MP Tejasvi Surya booked for trespass on Osmania varsity campus

Hyderabad: BJP MP from Karnataka and the party’s youth wing president Tejasvi Surya allegedly trespassed on Osmania University (OU) campus without permission and a case was registered against him and his supporters by the police.He removed the barricades to enter the campus to pay respects to the martyrs of the Telangana movement. The incident happened on Tuesday.The case was registered under IPC section 447 (criminal trespass)and under relevant provisions of the Hyderabad City Police Act based on a complaint filed by OU authorities on Tuesday, a police official told PTI on Thursday. OU Registrar, in the complaint, accused the BJP leader of trespassing on the campus without permission by removing the barricades and holding a meeting there, the official said. MP had alleged that he was stopped by the police. However, the city police clarified that no such incident by the police or clash with police happened on the campus and said the MP, along with his supporters, went into the campus and conducted a meeting peacefully.PTI


Hundreds pay tribute as Ahmed Patel laid to rest

Bharuch:Hundreds of people, including Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, bid adieu to senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel who was laid to rest at his native Piraman village in Ankleshwar on Thursday.Congress leader Rahul Gandhi attended the funeral of the party’s key strategist and troubleshooter, who succumbed to Covid-19 related complications at a Gurugram hospital on Wednesday. The body was brought to Vadodara through a chartered flight.After landing at Surat airport on Thursday morning, Gandhi reached Piraman by road and met the grieving family members of the former Congress MP at their ancestral home. He met Patel’s son Faisal, daughter Mumtaz Siddiqui and his three sisters.Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, Kamal Nath, and senior Congress leader Randeep Surjewala were present at the ceremony.


1,200-Crore Bank Fraud Case Against Delhi-Based Firm, Accused "Flee" Country

New Delhi: The central probe agency CBI has registered a case of corruption and cheating against the directors of a Delhi-based company for defrauding 12 banks to the tune of ₹ 1,200 crore.However, it is feared that the accused may have fled the country.Sources said that the company's directors were not traceable when the CBI conducted searches on Wednesday.According to sources, while CBI is taking necessary steps to extradite the accused, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has also issued non-bailable warrants against the directors of Amira Pure Foods Pvt Ltd.A creditor had moved the NCLT for insolvency proceedings.The liquidator appointed in this case, Akash Shinghal, told NDTV that the directors of this firm are "not cooperating with the proceedings and their whereabouts are unknown".


At Least 5 Killed, Over 1,000 Trees Uprooted and Power Lines Snapped in the Wake of Cyclone Nivar

Cyclone Nivar, which intensified into very severe cyclonic storm before it slammed into India's southern coast on early Thursday, led to the death of five people and uprooting of hundreds of trees and power lines in the region. The cyclone made landfall 30 kms north of Puducherry late last night bringing torrential rain and gusty winds with an estimated speed of 120-130 kmph going up to 145 kmph. Nivar weakened into a severe cyclonic storm after it crossed coast near Puducherry, IMD said.At least five people were killed in and around Chennai, over 1,00 trees uprooted and some low-lying areas were flooded following heavy rains in the union territory and neighbouring Tamil Nadu.




5 states, UT account for 60% of daily new Covid cases, India’s positivity rate at 4%

New Delhi: Kerala, Maharashtra, Delhi, West Bengal, Rajasthan and UP account for at least 60 per cent of daily new coronavirus cases in India.On Thursday, India recorded 4,52,344 active cases. The number of people recovering from the virus touched 86,79,138, while 1,35,223 people have died.In the last 24 hours, India recorded 44,489 new cases of Covid-19. Five states and one union territory account for 60.72 per cent of these cases.


Actively considering lockdown, night curfew: Delhi govt tells High Court

AAP government on Thursday informed the Delhi High Court that it is "actively considering" the option of imposing night curfews or lockdown and the same would depend on the situation of the COVID-19 infection in the national capital."We're actively considering imposition of lockdown, night curfews but no decision has been taken on it yet," said advocates Sandeep Sethi and Satyakam on behalf of the Delhi government.The submissions came in while the court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by advocate Rakesh Malhotra seeking increasing the Covid-19 testing numbers in the national capital and getting speedy results.The response came in after a division bench of the high court presided by Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad enquired from the Delhi government if its planning to impose night curfews or weekend curfews similar like various other cities in the country had done due to the rise in COVID-19 infections.IANS


Newspaper reports, Govt presenting misleading and exaggerated COVID findings

A report in a premier Delhi newspaper on Thursday, starting with the headline, gives the impression that out of 57 lakh persons surveyed in Delhi (that's about a quarter of Delhi's population), 13,000+ have COVID. The print version of this report adds a top-heading in red, bold and capitals saying: "6.42% positivity rate", giving the impression that this is the percentage of Delhiites hit by COVID.Once you read the fine print, this turns out to be misleading and, in some places, wrong.The 13,000+ "symptomatics" are not people with COVID. The report says that "the cumulative number of persons who tested positive are 1,178". The surveyors were sent out with "thermal guns and oximeters to identify symptomatic people".So, basically, what you have here is that of the 57 lakh people screened, 13,000 plus were found to have a fever (we don't know how high - could be just above normal) and/or low oxygen levels, presumably below 92 saturation, which is the threshold for COVID concerns, but which can go down to those levels for any number of non-COVID conditions as well. What this really means is that 0.23% of those surveyed had a fever or some illness.Now you may ask (though the newspaper reporters did not think of asking) how many of those with fever have Covid-19?


New WHO guidelines stress physical activity for all, say can save up to 5 million lives every year

Up to 5 million deaths could be avoided each year if all adults, including people living with chronic conditions or disability, devote at least 150 to 300 minutes every week to moderate to vigorous aerobic activity, new guidelines issued by WHO say. For children and adolescents (5-17 years), WHO has recommended an average of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous, mostly aerobic, physical activity per day all week long. Vigorous-intensity aerobic activities, as well as those that strengthen muscles and bones, should be incorporated at least 3 days a week.The guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behaviour emphasise that everyone, of all ages and abilities, can be physically active and that every type of movement counts. The guidelines come at a time when the novel coronavirus pandemic has forced millions around the world to stay at home, and curtailed many everyday activities.


Covid: Pakistan cricket squad quarantined after positive tests in New Zealand

Six members of Pakistan's cricket team have tested positive for Covid-19 while on tour in New Zealand.All six have been moved from managed isolation into quarantine and the team's exemption from social-distancing rules for training has been suspended.Health officials said all 53 members of the visiting squad were tested on arrival in the country.New Zealand, widely praised for its pandemic response, had previously seen a total of 2,040 cases and 25 deaths.




France leads push for EU sanctions on Turkey

France is leading a push for European Union sanctions on Turkey next month to follow through on a threat made by the bloc in October, but has yet to win support from EU governments beyond Greece and Cyprus, officials and diplomats have said.Paris says Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has not heeded EU leaders’ warnings on October 1 to back down in a dispute over gas exploration in the Mediterranean or face consequences.The European Parliament is expected on Thursday to call for sanctions, decrying Erdogan’s visit earlier this month to the breakaway Turkish Cypriot north of the island of Cyprus.“Turkey knows what it needs to do,” France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told a French parliamentary hearing this week.“Confrontation or collaboration, it’s up to them.”EU leaders on December 10-11 will meet to discuss a range of issues, including external relations and the ongoing dispute between Turkey and EU member states Greece and Cyprus.The Turkish Foreign Ministry has criticised the EU for discussing sanctions, saying such debate was not helpful.


Azeris call for France to lose Nagorno-Karabakh mediation role

Azerbaijan’s parliament called on Thursday for France to be stripped of its mediation role in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict to punish the French Senate for adopting a resolution backing the region’s independence.The French resolution adopted on November 25 followed a Russia-brokered ceasefire ending weeks of fighting in the Nagorno-Karabakh region, part of Azerbaijan mainly populated by ethnic Armenians.The ceasefire has been hailed as a victory in Azerbaijan, which recovered control of large swathes of territory held by Armenians since the early 1990s.The Azeri parliament urged its government to review ties with Paris and to appeal to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe to revoke France’s role as a co-chair of the so-called Minsk Group, set up in 1992 to mediate the conflict. The United States and Russia are the other co-chairs.


Paris police beat Black man, sparking fresh outrage in France

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin ordered several Paris police officers suspended after the publication of videos showing them beating up a Black man and using tear gas against him with no apparent reason.The incident came as President Emmanuel Macron’s government is pushing a new bill that restricts the ability to film police, which has prompted protests from civil liberties groups and journalists concerned that it would allow police brutality to go undiscovered and unpunished.Videos published on Thursday by French news website Loopsider show the violent arrest of a music producer identified only by his first name, Michel, in 17th arrondissement or district of the French capital on Saturday.

Danish minister’s comment on sex before marriage angers Muslims

A Danish minister has caused outrage among the Muslim minority for suggesting imams and community leaders should publicly support the “right” to have sex before marriage for women.Mattias Tesfaye, foreign affairs and integration minister, said in a Facebook post last month, after meeting with some Muslim leaders: “I asked them very directly if they would say out loud and clear in public that Muslim women, of course, have the right to sex before marriage just like all other women.”


Flydubai launches first scheduled Dubai-Tel Aviv flight

Budget airline flydubai on Thursday launched direct flights to Tel Aviv, the first scheduled commercial service between the two cities, following the normalisation of ties between the UAE and Israel.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be on hand for the arrival of the inaugural flight after its nearly four-hour trip, his spokesman said.“PM Netanyahu will attend this morning the welcoming ceremony for the first @flydubai commercial flight that will arrive at Ben-Gurion International Airport,” Ofir Gendelman said in a tweet.“These are the fruits of peace Dear Emirati tourists, welcome to Israel!”UAE in September signed a US-brokered deal to formalise relations with Israel, the first such agreement by an Arab state in the Gulf.


Turkey jails hundreds for life over 2016 failed coup attempt

A Turkish court has jailed 337 former pilots and other suspects for life over plot to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a failed coup attempt four years ago, a court document obtained by AFP showed on Thursday.Nearly 500 defendants were accused of carrying out the attempt to overthrow the government on July 15, 2016, from an airbase near the capital Ankara.More than 250 people were killed in the attempt as rogue soldiers commandeered warplanes, helicopters and tanks in a bid to take control of key state institutions.The trial was the highest-profile of dozens of court cases targeting thousands of people accused of involvement in the coup attempt, which Ankara blamed on the supporters of the United States-based Muslim preacher and businessman, Fethullah Gulen.


UN: Urgent aid needed for 3 million refugees in northern Syria

United Nations says urgent relief aid is needed for 3 million Syrian refugees, saying the recent rains in northern Syria have damaged hundreds of tents in displacement sites in the provinces of Idlib and Aleppo.A third of the displaced Syrians, estimated at 6.7 million refugees, lack adequate shelter and the essentials for cold weather such as heating fuel, blankets and clothes. UN’s Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Ramesh Rajasingham on Wednesday said in a briefing to the Security Council more than 9.3 million people in Syria were suffering from food insecurity, an increase of 1.4 million people over the previous year.


Ethiopia to begin ‘final phase’ of Tigray offensive: PM Abiy

Ethiopian military will begin the “final phase” of an offensive in the northern Tigray region, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has said in a statement, hours after an ultimatum for the Tigrayan forces to surrender expired.“The 72-hour period granted to the criminal TPLF clique to surrender peacefully is now over and our law enforcement campaign has reached its final stage,” he tweeted on Thursday, referring to the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).Abiy said the army has been ordered to move on the embattled Tigrayan capital, Mekelle, and warned its residents to “stay indoors”.The statement by the prime minister’s office means tanks and other weaponry can now close in on the city of some half a million people. “We will take utmost care to protect civilians,” it says.Al Jazeera’s Malcolm Webb, reporting from the Kenyan capital Nairobi, said the federal government is claiming a large number of Tigrayan fighters have surrendered to its forces in the last 72 hours.



Sudan's former PM Sadiq al-Mahdi dies from coronavirus

KHARTOUM:Sadiq al-Mahdi, Sudan’s last democratically elected leader and the great-grandson of the messianic figure who fought the British in the 19th century, has died from the coronavirus, his party said on Thursday.The two-time prime minister who was a central figure in Sudan’s political and spiritual life for more than half a century was being treated in the UAE.Current premier Abdalla Hamdok described the 84-year-old as “one of the most important men of thought, politics, literature, and wisdom in our country,” as the government declared three days of mourning.Reuters


Argentina mourns as Maradona’s coffin reaches presidential palace

Diego Maradona’s coffin has arrived at the presidential palace in Buenos Aires for a period of lying in state, TV reports showed, following the death of the 60-year-old Argentine football legend on Wednesday.Hundreds of people were already lining up to pay their respects to Maradona, who died while recovering from a brain operation, the images from sport channels TyC and ESPN showed on Thursday.Argentinians were plunged into grief by the death of the country’s favourite son, a sublimely gifted sporting hero they saw as “the most human of gods”.


Hijab-wearing supermodel Halima Aden quits fashion industry

Halima Aden, the Somali American model, said she is leaving runway fashion shows because the industry has forced her to stray away from her religious beliefs.In a series of Instagram story posts, the 23-year-old spoke about how the job made her more detached from her identity.“I can only blame myself for caring more about opportunity than what was actually at stake,” wrote Aden, one of the first models to wear a hijab while representing mega fashion labels.Despite her success as a Black Muslim woman in the industry, Aden said she often felt pressured, as she described feeling uncomfortable during photoshoots.




On ‘love jihad’, BJP picks up baton from vigilante groups. Police, judicial apparatus have aided this move: Christophe Jaffrelot






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