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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Referendum & Initiative and democracy

Independent India has been a large-scale experiment in democracy. Unlike many other nations that gained independence from colonial rule but descended into dictatorships and military rule, India has remained a democracy, despite its size and diversity. While we pride ourselves on this achievement, we also need to reflect more on the problems and challenges that face Indian democracy. Concerns relating to scams, criminal records of elected representatives and disorder in Parliament recur, but a deeper question needs to be asked: how democratic, actually, is Indian democracy?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Supreme Court has 're-enchanted' democracy in Pakistan

On June 19, the Supreme Court of Pakistan barred the country's elected chief executive, Yusuf Raza Gilani, both from being a member of parliament and prime minister on the basis that he had been guilty of contempt of court and had thereby brought the judiciary into ridicule. The court's decision was subsequently subjected to severe criticism in the international press as well as by Pakistan's liberal intelligentsia in leading English-language publications; the court's action was portrayed as essentially anti-democratic and "political" in nature.
The international response to this action is understandable. Every event with political consequences is analysed solely in the light of likely impact on the "War on Terror" or the NATO involvement in Afghanistan. As such, any manner of instability in Pakistan is problematic.

Spain bank bailout approves by Eurogroup

FRANKFURT (MarketWatch) -- Euro-zone finance ministers on Friday formally approved an agreement with Spain that will allow the country's government to borrow as much as 100 billion euros ($123 billion) from the euro zone's rescue funds to recapitalize its ailing banking sector, news reports said. "We have formally approved the memorandum that lays out the conditions under which Spain can be lent money for the recapitalization of its banks," Luxembourg Finance Minister Luc Frieden told reporters, according to Reuters. Approval was widely expected. Spanish government bonds remained under pressure, with the 10-year yield ES:10YR_ESP +1.58% rising 0.09 percentage point to 7.08%, according to Tradeweb. The euro EURUSD -0.68% was down 0.7% versus the dollar at $1.2192.

Kim Jong-un has set up an "economic reform group"

(Reuters) - Impoverished North Korea is gearing up to experiment with agricultural and economic reforms after young leader Kim Jong-un and his powerful uncle purged the country's top general for opposing change, a source with ties to both Pyongyang and Beijing said.
The source added that the cabinet had created a special bureau to take control of the decaying economy from the military - one of the world's largest - which under Kim's father was given pride of place in running the country.

Microsoft posts quarterly loss first time

Microsoft posted a loss of 492 million dollars on Thursday, its first-ever quarterly loss since it became a public company in 1986.
The loss was attributed to a massive 6.2-billion dollar charge that the company booked earlier this month as a writedown on its 2007 purchase of online advertising firm eQuantive for 6.3 billion dollars.
For the quarter, Microsoft booked record revenues of 18.06 billion dollars, a rise of 7 per cent over the same period a year ago, and operating income of 6.93 billion dollars.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

How long Al-Assad control Syria

This is a question which people want to know.
General Daoud Rajha, the Syrian defence minister, has been killed in an attack on the National Security headquarters.

The attack also killed Assef Shawkat, the Syrian interior minister and President Bashar al-Assad's brother-in-law, and injured the national security chief.

It was an attack at the heart of the Syrian government - a huge blow to al-Assad regime which is already under immense external and internal pressure.

Remedy for a malfunctioning legislature and executive

In a democracy, the remedy for a malfunctioning legislature and executive must come from the people, not the judiciary
It is evident that the Pakistan Supreme Court has embarked on a perilous path of confrontation with the political authorities, which can only have disastrous consequences for the country. Recently its Chief Justice said that the Constitution, not Parliament, is supreme. This is undoubtedly settled law since the historical decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Marbury vs. Madison (1803).

After resignation Pawar meets Sonia

Sulking NCP leader Sharad Pawar, who is believed to have resigned from the Union Cabinet aggrieved over a variety of issues, on Friday met UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
Mr. Pawar drove down to 10 Janpath apparently to discuss various issues including Congress’ treatment of its allies.
Mr. Pawar and NCP leader Praful Patel were on Thursday believed to have resigned from the Union Cabinet upset over a variety of issues, including No. 2 slot for Mr. Pawar.

Rafael Nadal pulls out of the London 2012 Olympics

2008 gold medallist Rafael Nadal pulls out of the London 2012 Olympics, saying he is "not in condition" to compete

Western-backed U.N. resolution on Syria vetoed by Russia and China

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Russia and China have again vetoed a Western-backed U.N. resolution threatening non-military sanctions against Syria. It was aimed at stepping up pressure on President Bashar Assad's government to end the escalating 16-month conflict.
Thursday's 11-2 vote, with two abstentions, leaves in limbo the future of the 300-strong U.N. peacekeeping force in Syria, whose mandate expires Friday.
Britain's U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, who sponsored the Western-backed draft, said he was "appalled" at the third double veto by Russia and China, allies of the Assad regime.

Antarctic huts are put online by Google map service

Google took several images with fish-eye lenses and then stitched them together to allow users to explore Shackleton's hut
Images of the Antarctic huts used by polar explorers Sir Ernest Shackleton and Robert Falcon Scott have been posted online as part of the latest extension to Google's Maps service.
The prefabricated wooden cabins were erected in 1908 and 1911 respectively, and were used as bases for the men's attempts to reach the south pole.
Users can navigate the 360-degree photographs to see some of the kit and supplies used by both expeditions.

Maruti unrest- Is state Govt. take responsiblity

Police today arrested 100 workers of the Maruti Suzuki’s plant in Manesar in connection with the yesterday’s violence in which a senior company official was killed and 50 others were injured.
The charred body of the official, who was caught in the violence triggered by a scuffle over suspension of an employee after a heated exchange of words, was today identified as that of Awanish Kumar Dev, General Manager, HR, at the plant.
In Chandigarh, Haryana Industry Minister Randeep Singh Surjewala said that nearly 100 people had been arrested so far. “They have been arrested for various charges including murder, attempt to murder and destruction of property,” the minister said.

Syria current affairs-This is war, not Uprising

Syrian government forces today struck back against rebels with attacking helicopters and shelling around Damascus after an audacious bomb attack that killed three senior members of the ruling regime.
The whereabouts of President Bashar Assad, who has not been seen publically since yesterday’s blast, his wife and his three young children remained unknown.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government forces were firing heavy machine guns and mortar shells and fighting with rebels in a number of neighbourhoods in the capital.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Guwahati incident and ethical standards of journalists

The Guwahati incident shows that journalists do not always adhere to the ethical standards of behaviour that they demand of others
I remember watching “The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club,” an American documentary about the suicide of South African photojournalist Kevin Carter, at a film festival organised by my law school in 2010. The documentary that was nominated for the Academy Awards depicts the gut-wrenching tale of Carter’s enduring depression by the carnage he witnessed as a photographer in warzones.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Weak Anti Money Laundering controls- US Senate slams HSBC

It operated in many jurisdictions with weak anti-money laundering controls’
This week policymakers in the U.S. Treasury and State Department had to suspend their sense of disbelief as they watched one of the darlings of the US’ banking system, HSBC, slammed by the Senate for allowing billions of dollars’ worth of transactions in money laundering and terrorism financing that aided Mexican drug cartels, Saudi Arabian banks with links to al-Qaeda and even Iranian institutions subject to U.S. sanctions.
In a report released on Monday the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs pulled no punches as it argued that HSBC operated in many jurisdictions with “weak AML (Anti Money Laundering) controls, high risk clients, and high risk financial activities including Asia, Middle East, and Africa.”

As expected UAE official says that U.S. firing was a mistake

“The primary investigation confirms that the boat was in its right course and did not pose any danger. The shooting was clearly a mistake,” Dahi Khalfan Tamim, Dubai’s influential police chief, was quoted as saying by the UAE daily The National.

The U.S. Navy has said that it was forced to open fire as a last resort, after the fishing boat failed to heed an entire protocol of warnings.
The Indian embassy in Abu Dhabi is working with local authorities to carry out a full investigation into the incident. “We have made the request and the UAE authorities have already begun the investigation on their own,” said M.K. Lokesh, Indian ambassador to the UAE. 

Trinamool is under prassure- support Pranab

In a complete U-turn and ending a month-long suspense, Trinamool Congress announced its decision to vote for UPA’s presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee ‘in the interest of coalition’
After proposing the name of A P J Abdul Kalam and two others a month ago creating a near crisis for the UPA government last month, Trinamool chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday disclosed the party’s decision saying it had no other option and that it was not to support any individual.
The decision of the party, the second largest constituent in the UPA with 19 MPs in Lok Sabha and 9 in Rajya Sabha, comes apparently under pressure from within the party to back Mr. Mukherjee, who would be the first Bengali to become a President, and not to ignore local sentiments.

Globalisation is not a one-way street, Mr. President

If it is right for the U.S. to stop outsourcing jobs to India, it is also right for India to stop a Walmart at the door
Offering advice is the easiest thing to do, something proved all over again by none less than the President of the United States, Barack Obama.
In an interview to the Press Trust of India, Mr. Obama noted that India prohibits foreign investment in too many sectors such as retail and advised a new “wave” of reforms to attract investors.
“In too many sectors, such as retail, India limits or prohibits the foreign investment that is necessary to create jobs in both our countries, and which is necessary for India to continue to grow,” he said, noting that there was a growing consensus in India for another wave of economic reforms.

For a domestic audience

A Poll say that Chavez has big lead over rival in Venezuela

  Caracas, July 17 : President Hugo Chavez has a more than 15-point lead on his main rival ahead of Venezuela's October presidential vote, according to the latest survey from pollster Datanalisis.
    Leftist-populist Chavez, 57, who has been in power since 1999, would get 46.1 percent of votes, according to a poll conducted from June 14-23, with a sample of 1,300 voters. His opponent, Henrique Capriles, a center-leftist, would get 30.8 percent, the survey, which was released yesterday found.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Western position on Syria “elements of blackmail”--Russia

Elements of blackmail" in western position on Syria
Russia on Monday laid to rest all speculation that it was distancing itself from the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, despite escalating combat in Syria, which had now spread to several parts of the capital Damascus.
At a news conference ahead of the visit to Moscow by Kofi Annan, the United Nations-Arab League envoy to Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, used exceptionally harsh language to denounce western powers for deliberately misinterpreting consensus resolutions on Syria to one-sidedly target the regime. There were “elements of blackmail” in the western position on Syria, asserted Mr. Lavrov. He stressed that it was unrealistic to expect that Mr. Assad would step down as “a very significant part of the Syrian population [was] behind him.”

Timetable for London Olympics 2012

Timetable with ceremonies and finals at the London Olympics July 27-August 12. All times (in GMT) indicate start of session.
Friday, July 27 Opening ceremony 1830
Saturday, July 28 (12 medal events) Shooting 0715 — women’s air rifle 10m men’s air pistol 10m Cycling 0900 — men’s road race Judo 1300 — women’s 48kg men’s 60kg Archery 1400 — men’s team event Weightlifting 1430 — women’s 48kg Fencing 1700 — women’s foil Swimming 1830 — men’s 400m medley men’s 400m freestyle women’s 400m medley women’s 4x100m freestyle
Sunday, July 29 (14) Shooting 0800 — women’s 10m air pistol women’s skeet Weightlifting 0900 — men’s 56kg women’s 53kg Cycling 1100 — women’s road race Judo 1300 — men’s 66kg women’s 52kg Diving 1400 — women’s 3m synchronised Archery 1400 — women’s team event Fencing 1700 — men’s sabre Swimming 1830 — women’s 100m butterfly men’s 100m breaststroke women’s 400m freestyle men’s 4x100m freestyle

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Elderly Patients should be Prescribed Drugs

Oxford and Birmingham university researchers said older patients were "largely ignored" after looking at prescribing for nearly 37,000 people.
They found for blood pressure-lowering drugs prescribing dropped after the age of 85, while for treatment for high cholesterol the fall started at 75.
But other experts said there could be valid reasons for the findings.
The study, published on the British Medical Journal website, showed that prescribing of both types of drugs increased every five years after the ages of 40 to 44.
But by the age of 75 statin use had peaked at 29%, falling to 23% after that.

Sudanese President Basir meet South Sudan Leader

The presidents of Sudan and South Sudan have met for the first time since a border dispute brought their countries close to conflict in April.
Omar al-Bashir sat down with Salva Kiir on the sidelines of an African Union summit in the Ethiopian capital.
South Sudan became independent from the north a year ago, and numerous issues remain unresolved between the two countries.
A United Nations deadline for them to settle the dispute is set for 2 August.

Syrian village attack targeted rebels and mainly of army defectors--UN

A variety of weapons were used in an attack on the Syrian village of Treimsa, where more than 150 people were killed this week, with the homes of rebels and activists bearing the brunt, the U.N. mission said on Saturday.

“A wide range of weapons were used, including artillery, mortars and small arms,” the U.N. spokeswoman, Sausan Ghosheh, said in a statement.

“The attack on Treimsa appeared targeted at specific groups and houses, mainly of army defectors and activists. There were pools of blood and blood spatters in rooms of several homes together with bullet cases.”