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Archive | February, 2014

Pro-Russian gunmen seize Crimean seat of power

Posted on 27 February 2014 by admin

Simferopol, Feb 27 (UNI) Dozens of pro-Russian gunmen in combat fatigues seized parliament and government buildings on Ukraine’s volatile Crimea peninsula today as lawmakers in Kiev prepared to approve a pro-Western cabinet for the divided ex-Soviet state.

The dawn raid came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered snap combat readiness drills near the Ukrainian border, which raised fears of the Kremlin using its military muscle to sway the outcome of a three-month crisis that has pitted Moscow against against the West in a Cold War-style confrontation over the future of the strategic nation of 46 million.

The United States had late yesterday promised to secure a USD 1 billion loan guarantee that may be backed by an additional USD 1.5 billion from the European Union aimed at saving Ukraine’s teetering economy from a devastating debt default as early as next week.

The country’s new rulers have said they need USD 35 billion for the economically distressed country.

Ukraine’s bloodiest crisis since independence in 1991 erupted in November when Viktor Yanukovych — deposed as president last weekend — made the shock decision to ditch an historic EU trade deal in favour of closer ties with old master Russia, a move that won him a promise of USD 15 billion from Moscow.

But Ukraine appeared to take a decisive swing back toward the European Union by ousting Yanukovych’s entire pro-Russian team and replacing them with a new brand of younger pro-Western politicians who will steer the nation — torn between a Russified east and pro-European west — until snap presidential polls are held on May 25.

A new team headed by 39-year-old caretaker prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk — a close ally of the freed opposition icon Yulia Tymoshenko — was unveiled to an emotional crowd of 25,000 late yesterday on the same barricade-riven central Kiev square that had been the epicentre of the revolt against Yanukovych’s pro-Russian rule.

Lawmakers in Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada single-chamber parliament were due later today to overwhelmingly confirm the new cabinet, after Yanukovych supporters abandoned his Regions Party and joined the pro-EU opposition.

The Russian flag flew today over both the the Crimean parliament and government buildings in the regional capital of Simferopol.

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MP: Crops in 18 districts damaged due to rains, hailstorm

Posted on 27 February 2014 by admin

Bhopal, Feb 27 (UNI) Crops of gram and wheat across 640 villages in 18 districts have suffered extensive damage due to unseasonal rains and hailstorm in the last three days.

The government has ordered district collectors to conduct a survey of damaged crops and submit their reports soon, official sources said.

The average rainfall recorded in 37 districts in the last three days stood between 15 mm to 50 mm.

Apart from gram and wheat crops, those for lentils, including arhar, also suffered extensive damage.

The districts most affected by the rains and hailstorm are Bhopal, Raisen, Indore, Dewas, Neemuch, Balaghat and Hoshangabad, they said.

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All procedures followed in Lokpal search panel formation: Govt

Posted on 27 February 2014 by admin

New Delhi, Feb 27 (UNI) In the wake of legal luminary Fali Nariman’s refusal to be on Lokpal’s search panel, the Centre today said all procedures had been followed for forming a search committee to recommend a panel of names for selection of chairperson and members of the anti-graft body.

“I would like to make it very clear. Transparent method has been followed. The process was followed very properly. As far as the selection of members of the search committee is concerned, Fali Nariman was one among the jurists who have been considered… It is for the person concerned either to accept or not to accept,” said Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy said.

Nariman, in a letter to the government, has refused to be on the eight-member search committee citing flawed process.

The search committee is mandated to prepare a panel of persons to be considered by the Selection Committee headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for appointment of chairperson and members of the Lokpal.

“Without going through his letter I cannot make any comment on that,” said the Minister, adding that Nariman’s name was considered on the basis of other members’ suggestion.

“It is not the question of consulting him because the panel that had been prepared some names were there and thereafter we thought he (Nariman) would be able to serve the committee. Therefore his name was considered…,” he said.

“That does not mean that the procedure has not been followed. We cannot make any issue out of it. Out of eight members, some have given their consent. The communication (consent) has been received by our department. We will go for the next process,” he said.

The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 provides for the establishment of a Lokpal for the Union and Lokayuktas for the states to inquire into corruption charges against public functionaries. The Centre had already got nominations from various individuals for becoming its chairperson and members.

After receiving a panel of names by the search committee, the Prime Minister-led Selection Committee will choose the chairperson and members of the anti-graft body.

The Selection Committee has as members the Lok Sabha Speaker, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, the Chief Justice of India or a judge of the apex court nominated by him, and an eminent jurist who could be nominated by the President or any other member.

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Need for self-correcting mechanism to check paid news: Prez

Posted on 27 February 2014 by admin

New Delhi, Feb 27 (UNI) Voicing concern over the practise of “paid news” by some publications to mop up revenue Continue Reading

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SC notice to Centre, EC on defence personnel voting right

Posted on 24 February 2014 by admin

New Delhi, Feb 24 (UNI) The Supreme Court today issued notice to Centre and Election Commission on a plea seeking its direction to allow defence personnel to cast their vote in constituencies where they are posted.

A bench headed by Justice A K Patnaik agreed to adjudicate on the issue on a appeal filed against Punjab and Haryana High Courts verdict dismissing the plea.

The petition, filed by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, submitted that defence personnel be allowed to cast their votes in coming general election in the constituency they are posted.

“The present petition and questions raised therein concerned not only the armed forces personnel but also their families who are posted outside their hometowns and are presently unable to cast their votes, thereby being deprived of their right to participate in the election process of the country,” it said.

Referring to the HC order dismissing the plea, the petitioner submitted that the verdict would continue to frustrate the voting rights of defence personnel since they would not be able to get themselves registered as voters in the constituencies where they are ordinarily resident due to their service tenures.

The bench, after a brief hearing, issued notice and asked the Centre and the Commission to file their response within four weeks.

At present a defence need to serve for at least three years to vote from the constituency where they are posted.

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Army chief warns Thailand will collapse amid growing violence

Posted on 24 February 2014 by admin

Thailand’s powerful military chief today warned that the country will “collapse” as political violence escalated with attacks on anti-government rallies over the weekend that claimed the lives of three children.

A six-year-old girl died today from bruising to the brain, the Ramathibodi Hospital said in a statement. Her brother died yesterday from serious head wounds and internal bleeding.

A five-year-old girl was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in eastern Trat province late Saturday while a 40-year-old woman was the fourth casualty who died from severe injuries inflicted by a bomb blast over the weekend.

The escalating violence, the latest flare up in nearly four months’ crisis, fuelled speculation that the army might once again roll out the tanks and step in to bring the country back from the brink of collapse.

But army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha said the military option is not a solution to the crisis. “If we use the wrong means, or the full use of military force, how can we ensure that the situation will end peacefully?” he asked in a rare televised live speech.

“As days go by, there will be more violence until it cannot be controlled…If losses continue, the country will collapse for sure and nobody will win or lose,” he said.

He urged warring sides to hold talks to prevent further violence and said the army is “never afraid of performing our duty” and “do not want to use force and weapons to unnecessarily fight with the Thai people”.

The army has staged or attempted 18 coups in 81 years of democracy, including the removal of Thaksin Shinawatra, former premier and fugitive brother of premier’s Yingluck Shinawatra.

Police said an officer also died today, nearly a week after being shot in the head in a gunbattle with protesters.

Six persons, including two officers, were killed in that incident in Bangkok’s historic heart.

Meanwhile, protesters heckled the premier in a central province of Thailand. They blew whistles and shouted on loud speakers why Yingluck was there on “holiday” while people continue to be killed in protest violence.

The premier, who was “undertaking official duties” outside Bangkok, has called on all sides to shun violence and denounced the violent incidents as “terrorist acts”.

“The violent incidents are terrorist acts for political gain without any regard for human lives. The government will not tolerate terrorism and has ordered a full investigation by authorities to find the culprits and bring them to justice without exception,” she said.

The attacks are the latest in political violence in Thailand which is witnessing anti-government protests by opposition backed demonstrators who want Yingluck to quit.

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China has taken big step in ‘capturing’ world job market: Modi

Posted on 24 February 2014 by admin

Gandhinagar, Feb 24 (UNI) Citing China which he said has taken a big step in “capturing” world job market, Narendra Modi Continue Reading

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Guv terminates address to Guj Assembly amid Cong sloganeering

Posted on 20 February 2014 by admin

Gandhinagar, Feb 20 (UNI) Gujarat Governor Kamla Beniwal had to cut short her address to the State Assembly today due to continuous slogan shouting by Opposition Congress members, who kept disrupting her by levelling corruption charges against the ruling BJP government.

The first day of a short Assembly session called to pass the vote on account, witnessed a stormy start when Congress MLAs indulged in sloganeering as soon as the Governor started reading her speech, which is customary when the session meets for the first time in a year.

Congress’ main demand was to initiate a CBI probe into the Talathi (junior revenue official) recruitment scam.

“Give Talathi recruitment scam to CBI”, MLAs kept shouting when the Governor was reading her speech.

Police had arrested one Kalyansinh Champawat, who allegedly took money from candidates appearing for the exam for recruitment of Talathis. Congress has accused Champawat of being a BJP man and alleged that he was collecting money for party funds.

Besides, they were also protesting against alleged corruption charges against state ministers Anandiben Patel, Babu Bokhiriya and Parshottam Solanki.

Congress MLAs were also shouting slogans like “BJP bhrasht, Modi mast”.

Due to the disruption, after almost 20 minutes of reading, the Governor cut short her speech and placed it on the table of the House which meant it is deemed read.

Congress MLAs continued their slogan shouting even after the Governor left the House.

Following this, BJP MLAs also started shouting slogans in support of their party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi “har har Modi ghar ghar Modi”.

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Iran, world powers agree nuclear talks timetable

Posted on 20 February 2014 by admin

Vienna, Feb 20 (UNI) Iran and world powers have agreed a timetable and framework for working out a lasting nuclear accord, and will meet again on March 17, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said today.

“We had three very productive days during which we have identified all the issues we need to address to reach a comprehensive and final agreement,” Ashton said after the parties met in the Austrian capital.

“There is a lot to do, it won’t be easy but we have made a good start,” Ashton told reporters.

“We have set a timetable of meetings, initially over the next four months with a framework to continue our deliberations,” she said.

“Technical experts will meet in early March and we will reconvene for the next E3+3 political directors’ meeting led by… (Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad) Zarif and myself on the 17th of March” in Vienna.

The discussions between Iran and the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany aim to transform a landmark but only interim deal agreed in Geneva in November into a long-term agreement.

Under the November deal, which came into force on January 20, Iran froze certain nuclear activities for six months in exchange for minor relief from sanctions and a promise of no new sanctions.

The six-month deal expires on July 20 but can be extended, with the parties aiming to conclude negotiations and implement the final “comprehensive” deal by November.

The aim of the final deal would be for Iran to retain its civilian nuclear programme, but likely on a reduced scale and with enhanced oversight to ensure a dash for nuclear weapons is all but impossible.

Experts say this would likely involve closing the underground Fordo facility, slashing the number of uranium centrifuges, cutting the stockpile of fissile material, altering a new reactor being built at Arak and tougher UN inspections.

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Centre moves SC for staying release of Rajiv Gandhi assassins

Posted on 20 February 2014 by admin

Seeking a stay on Tamil Nadu government’s decision to release all seven convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, the Centre today moved the Supreme Court which agreed to give an urgent hearing and decided to take up the case later in the day.

Appearing before a bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam, Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran pleaded for a stay saying the state government should not be allowed to release the prisoners till the apex court decided its review petition challenging commutation of death sentence of three condemned prisoners to life imprisonment on ground of delay in deciding mercy petitions.

The bench, after a brief hearing, agreed to hear the case at length and posted it at 12.40 PM.

The Jayalalithaa government had yesterday decided to set free all seven convicts in the assassination case after the apex court had commuted the death penalty of three of them to life imprisonment.

Besides Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan, who earned a major reprieve on February 18 from the apex court which spared them from gallows, Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran are the other four convicts whose release was decided by the Tamil Nadu government.

Santhan, Murugan and Perarivalan are currently lodged in the Central Prison, Vellore, in Tamil Nadu and they are in incarceration since 1991.

Nalini, Robert Pious, Jayakumar and Ravichandran, are undergoing life sentence for their role in the assassination of Gandhi on May 21, 1991 in Sriperumbudur

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