Pregnant NRI woman found dead in Punjab police pin suspicion on husbands

first_img 5 True Crime Documentaries And Docuseries You Should Watch IBTimes VideoRelated VideosMore videos Play VideoPauseMute0:05/3:27Loaded: 0%0:06Progress: 0%Stream TypeLIVE-3:22?Playback Rate1xChaptersChaptersDescriptionsdescriptions off, selectedSubtitlessubtitles settings, opens subtitles settings dialogsubtitles off, selectedAudio Trackdefault, selectedFullscreenThis is a modal window.Beginning of dialog window. Escape will cancel and close the window.TextColorWhiteBlackRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyOpaqueSemi-TransparentTransparentWindowColorBlackWhiteRedGreenBlueYellowMagentaCyanTransparencyTransparentSemi-TransparentOpaqueFont Size50%75%100%125%150%175%200%300%400%Text Edge StyleNoneRaisedDepressedUniformDropshadowFont FamilyProportional Sans-SerifMonospace Sans-SerifProportional SerifMonospace SerifCasualScriptSmall CapsReset restore all settings to the default valuesDoneClose Modal DialogEnd of dialog window. COPY LINKAD Loading … Closecenter_img Getty ImagesThe body of a missing NRI woman from Australia was found Punjab’s Ferozepur district a few days ago. The police suspect that she was killed by her husband’s lover and an accomplice.The victim, Ravneet Kaur, was missing since March 14 from outside her parents’ house at Bagge Ke Pipal village in Ferozepur. She was four months pregnant.Ravneet was married to Jaspreet and they had moved to Australia three years ago. However, Jaspreet had an extra-marital affair with Kiranjeet Kaur. They also have a four-year-old daughter.The police suspect that when Ravneet was in India, Kiranjeet allegedly abducted and murdered Ravneet, reports Indian Express. They also suspect that Kiranjeet took the help of her sister Taranjeet Kaur. After the murder, the duo threw her body into Bhakra canal. Kiranjeet left for Australia the day after the crime.”Jaspreet’s parents live in Chandigarh and Ravneet was with them last month. In March, she came to our village to spend time with us. She was supposed to go back on March 22. But, on March 14, she had gone outside the house while answering a video call and never came back. We knew her husband was having an extra-marital affair with Kiranjeet Kaur but had no idea that he will go to this extent. “After Ravneet went missing, we asked Jaspreet to come to India but he was not interested. That made us suspicious,” Ravneet’s father Harwinder Singh was quoted as saying by Indian Express.The police have arrested Taranjeet and Sandeep Singh for conspiring with Jaspreet and Kiranjeet for Ravneet’s murder. The police are also working on extraditing Jaspreet and Kiranjeet from Australia.last_img read more

Arjun Rampal shares daughter Mahikaas photo on Instagram and leaves everyone jawdropped

first_imgArjun Rampal with daughter Mahikaa RampalInstagramArjun Rampal may have been in the news of late for his alleged affair with Gabriella Demetriades after getting divorced with wife Mehr but there are more than two sides to his personality. Apart from being a passionate actor, a party animal, a deep thinker and an advisor, Arjun is also a doting father to his two daughters – Mahikaa and Myra. The 46-year-old showed his yet another side of being a family man as well when he introduced his 17-year-old daughter Mahikaa to the world of social media.Sharing a stunning image of Mahikaa, a proud Arjun, who is also a man of few words, showed off his unconditional love to his daughter wondering how time flies and kids grow up in a blink of an eye. In the picture, Mahikaa was looking ravishing in red one shoulder gown with a thigh-high slit while daddy Arjun was looking dapper in grey suit. “All grown up this love of mine ♥️ love you @mahikaarampal #daddysgirl,” Arjun captioned the image.The moment Arjun uploaded the picture with his daughter Mahikaa on Instagram, online users couldn’t stop gushing about how the father-daughter duo looked stunning together. Many people said that the duo looked more like siblings adding how Arjun has aged gracefully. Mahikaa, on the other hand, has always been away from the limelight but it looks like daddy is looking forward to introduce her into the world of glitz and glamour as well.Take a look. In June, Arjun Rampal and wife Mehr Rampal announced that they are parting ways, putting an end to their 20 years of marriage. Although they did not mention the reason for their split, Arjun and Mehr requested privacy to adjust to the changes in the life and said they won’t speak any further about it.”After a 20-year-long beautiful journey filled with love and beautiful memories, we would like to share, that all journeys have different paths. We feel that it is time for us to move on to different destinations henceforth. We have always been solid when it has come to us, we will continue to be solid for each other and our loved ones, as we embark upon a new journey,” the couple said in the statement.last_img read more

Gold Prices May See Free Fall on US Fed Rate Hike

first_imgThings seem to be getting worse for precious metal gold and its prices are likely to fall more rapidly than expected in the coming months.The prices of the yellow metal have plunged to five-year lows recently, as worries over imminent interest rate hike by the US central bank triggered the sell-off.At its July meeting, the US Federal Reserve has indicated that it is moving closer to raising rates for the first time after keeping them at record low since the financial crisis of 2008.”The July statement highlighted the progress the US economy has made towards meeting the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC’s) conditions to start normalising rates,” said Credit Agricole Corporate and Investment Bank in a note.Due to rising expectations on Fed rate hike, a firmer US dollar has been weighing heavily on the gold prices for the past two weeks and the metal prices are heading towards their worst monthly decline in two years.In the international markets, gold prices plummeted by $100 to $1,100 per ounce in the past one month, as concerns intensified over the Fed rate hike in September, which is seen as a major negative for the metal prices.In the Indian markets, the prices slipped to below Rs 24,600 per 10 grams, marking their lowest level since 2010. The prices have fallen by over 27% in the past nine months, declining from a high of Rs 34,000 per 10 grams.The prices are estimated to see a drastic fall to Rs. 20,500 per 10 grams once the US Fed begins raising later this year, according to India Ratings and Research.”Gold is out of fashion like flared trousers: no one wants it,” Robin Bhar, an analyst at Societe Generale SA in London, told Bloomberg.A Bloomberg News survey showed that the gold prices could fall to $984 an ounce before January next year.Besides concerns over a rate rise in the US, gold prices are expected to remain under pressure due to its losing appeal as safe-haven and slowing demand for the metal in the world’s second largest consumer China.Recent crisis in Greece and a crash in Chinese stock market failed to give a lift to the gold prices.Earlier in July, China reported that its gold reserves rose to 1,658 tonnes by the end of June, up 57% since April 2009, which is far below the market expectations.last_img read more

Protests loom in Indonesia as Subianto challenges Jokowi win in presidential polls

first_img“If there are any illegal or unconstitutional actions that threaten public stability and security, (authorities) will take firm action,” he added.Subianto has warned that he would launch a legal challenge against the results if he was declared the loser. He had fought a legal battle the last time as well but lost out. He also warned on Wednesday that he would he would launch street protests if the legal challenge didn’t succeed. The powerful tsunami struck Indonesia on Saturday night without warning Closecenter_img Joko WidodoReutersIndonesia’s incumbent President Joko Widodo is set to win another term in office, according to early count by private pollsters. The official results of Wednesday’s presidential election will be released by the election commission only on May 22.CNBC reported that ‘quick counts’ tallied by pollsters showed Jokowi has beaten his rival Prabowo Subianto. Pollsters also said Jokowi’s Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) will also get the most number of seats in parliament.The Indonesian financial markets seemed to have factored in the victory of Jokowi in the elections, rising nearly 2.5 percent on Thursday. The Indonesian rupiah also rose to its strongest level against the US dollar in nearly two months.According to the quick count by pollsters Jokowi got nearly 54 percent of the votes. The polls have marked around 44-45 percent of votes for Prabowo Subianto, the leader of the Great Indonesia Movement Party.Though the so-called quick counts are accurate indicators of results going by the last elections, Jokowi hasn’t yet claimed victory. On the other hand, Subianto, a former military general whom Jokowi had defeated narrowly in the 2014 presidential elections, has claimed internal polls have indicated he has won. Subianto, who enjoys the support of hardliner Muslim fans, said a “real count” from more than 320 polling stations showed he won 62 percent of votes. He also said statistics experts who he consulted assured him that the final tally wound not differ much from his assessment, Jakarta Post reported.Election results are disputed in Indonesia, the world’s third largest democracy. The country emerged from the dictatorship of Suharto only in 1998. Prabowo Subianto, who has vast following in the conservative belts, is known to have ties to the former dictatorship.With Subianto rejecting outright unofficial vote count, Indonesian authorities have issued a warning against mass protests. “I urge everyone against mass demonstrations, whether it’s to celebrate or to express dissatisfaction,” National Police Chief Tito Karnavian said.last_img read more

Set on fire for reporting sexual harassment Nusrat Rafis death sparks protests

first_imgBangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has also promised to bring Nusrat’s killers to justice. Speaking to reporters, she said, “Nusrat’s killers won’t be spared. I personally believe they would have to face exemplary punishment so that none can dare to commit such heinous crimes in future.”She then added, “None of the culprits will be spared from legal action.”At least 14 people were taken into police custody by April 15. On Sunday, two of the main suspects, Nuruddin and Shahadat, confessed to their crimes and said that they planned the girl’s murder along with five other people, Daily Star reports. The police discovered that the girl was attacked by three men and one woman. [Representational image] Creative CommonsNusrat Jahan Rafi, an 18-year-old Bangladeshi girl, died after being set on fire by four men after she refused to withdraw the complaint of her school principal sexually harassing her.In her complaint, Nusrat, who was studying at a madrasa in Feni, said that her school principal, Maulana Siraj Ud Doula, used to touch her inappropriately whenever she was called to his office. She felt uncomfortable and tried telling her teachers but they hushed the matter.When the girl went to the police to file a complaint on March 27, her statement was illegally filmed by the police. In addition to this, the video was also uploaded on Facebook.This increased the risk of the girl getting into danger since her identity was revealed and the school principal was a very powerful man. After she filed her statement and the video was uploaded, the girl and her family started receiving death threats from many of the Maulana’s supporters, Buzzfeed reports. The Maulana was then arrested and many students of the madrasa took to the streets protesting against his arrest. In addition to this, the girl’s family was also threatened with dire consequences if she did not withdraw her complaint.On April 6, Nusrat was called to the terrace of her school where four men in burqas told her to withdraw the complaint. When she refused, she was set on fire after being doused in petrol. She suffered almost 80 per cent burns and succumbed to the injuries on April 10. She was initially admitted to a local hospital and was later shifted to Dhaka Medical College Hospital.This act was condemned by many across the country with the principal, his students and the police called out for the unethical direction in which the case went. TwitterAfter the news came to light, protests were carried out across the nation against the unjustified killed of the 18-year-old girl.A social media campaign with hashtag #JusticeforNusrat was launched with many demanding that the culprits should be brought to justice. Unicef chief Henrietta H Fore took to Twitter to express her support for the movement. She tweeted, “I join the UN family in Bangladesh & all Bangladeshis in calling for justice for Nusrat, who was brutally killed for having the courage to report her abuse. Every girl must be safe at school, supported to speak up & protected from retaliation #ENDviolence.”last_img read more

Student of the Year 2 movie review It leaves you wondering Why

first_img Student of the Year 2 Student of the year 2 reviewTwitter The proverb “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is very much true but all play and no work is also not an ideal situation for a student. The movie Student of the Year 2 showcases a similar situation with a decent dose of entertainment but hardly any sense.STORYLINERohan (Tiger Shroff), who hails from a middle-class family and studies in a mediocre college, is elated to get admission in a high profile institution under sports scholarship. His biggest reason to be excited about his admission is his ‘girlfriend’ Mridula (Tara Sutaria) aka Mia, who studies there.While Rohan is extremely happy to be alongside Mia, the latter starts feeling uncomfortable due to his “small town guy” personality. Rohan and Mia have been in a relationship since their childhood but Mia starts deviating after she joins the “ultra-cool” college. Mia starts falling for the most popular guy there – Manav (Aditya Seal), who is not only the son of the college’s trustee but also the ‘student of the year’ for the past two years. Student of the year 2 stillYouTube ScreenshotIn the meantime, Rohan starts getting quite popular in the college as well, first, because of his athletic abilities and secondly, for his constant bickering with Shreya (Ananya Panday), Manav’s sister.Things turn extremely hard for Rohan when he gets cheated by Mia and Manav, followed by an insulting expulsion from the college. However, the hurt young man with Shreya’s support pulls himself up, and eventually challenges Manav head-on for the ‘student of the year’ title. One who outshines all other students in dance and sports bags the title.To know what happens in the fight for self-respect, and in Rohan’s love life, you have to watch the film. Student of the year 2 stillYouTube ScreenshotPERFORMANCESTiger is yet again impressive in dance, stunts and flaunting his chiselled body. However, it is high time that the actor should do something new on-screen. Ananya is the biggest surprise package in SOTY 2. She plays the character of a rude but lonely girl, who is considered a jinx by her rich father, pretty well. Tara is good too, but her character limits the scope to showcase acting skills. Aditya did a commendable job, playing the role of an arrogant spoiled brat who can stoop to any level in order to win. Student of the year 2 stillYouTube ScreenshotPOSITIVESStudent of the Year 2 has a decent dose of entertainment in terms of action and romance. The sports battle towards the climax is good to watch. The director manages to keep the narration fast-paced. Student of the year 2 stillYouTube ScreenshotNEGATIVESThere are a number of loopholes in the film, which is hard to ignore by any sensible mind. One of the weirdest aspects of the film is the qualities that a student should possess in order to become ‘student of the year’. A student has to be the best in dance and sports, but academics is not even a criteria to bag the title. It is understandable that showing characters shining in academics might not be thrilling enough, but the director could at least include a debate competition for that purpose. Student of the year 2 stillYouTube ScreenshotSecondly, it is amusing to see a college where a student is beaten black and blue, thrown out of the campus by some other students, and nobody stops them or take no action against the offenders.The students are seen doing almost everything under the Sun like dancing, romancing, fighting, playing, but not studying. Overall, the film badly lacks in terms of logic, and by no way appears to be the story of any college student. Student of the year 2 stillYouTube ScreenshotVERDICTStudent of the Year 2 is one film that is entertaining but suffers from too many illogicalities. It also is predictable in certain parts. In the end, you will be left wondering – is there really a college and students like this?center_img Ratinglast_img read more

Bail for BJP leader arrested for Mamata Banerjee meme Twitter calls out

first_imgPriyanka Chopra at MET Gala 2019 and Mamata Banerjee meme.TwitterBJP activist Priyanka Sharma was released on bail on Tuesday after she was arrested for making a meme on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. The meme was an image of the face of Banerjee superimposed on the face of Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra at the Met Gala.The image went on social media on May 10 was shared by Sharma, who is BJP’s Yuva Morcha leader.This image drew the ire of many Mamata Banerjee supporters who called her out and led to her arrest. The Supreme Court on May 14, Tuesday, let her out on bail and asked her to apologise to the West Bengal chief minister for the insensitive image.An official of Howrah City police’s Cyber Cell told TOI that a complaint against Sharma was lodged at the DFasnagar Police station. The FIR accused her of uploading and sharing Mamata Banerjee’s meme which featured a morphed image of the West Bengal chief minister ion the face of Priyanka Chopra. This image allegedly violated the community guidelines on Facebook. Those who were on Priyanka’s side were against her arrest and started a social media campaign with the hashtag #ISupportPriyankaSharma. The users of the hashtag commended Priyanka Sharma’s act and mocked Mamata Banerjee and her supposed intolerance for the freedom of speech and expression. They asked why Priyanka was not given the fundamental right in the constitution of India.Here are some of the reactions after news broke out that Sharma was released but had to apologise to the West Bengal chief minister.last_img read more

Fast radio bursts mystery continues Another mysterious alleged alien signal came from

first_imgPixabayIt was long back in 2007 that scientists initially spotted mysterious signals from deep space, and they named it ‘Fast Radio Bursts’ (FRB). In the latter years, scientists traced many more such fast radio bursts from various nooks of the space; some of them were very short, while some radio bursts came continuously from a particular source. After the detection of such bursts, some experts speculated that these signals could be sent by aliens to proclaim their existence, while other space scientists suggested that these signals could be of natural origin.And now, adding up to the mysteries, a team using CalTech’s Owens Valley Radio Observatory (OVRO), California has detected another non-repeating FRB from a galaxy which is located almost 8 billion light-years away. Interestingly, the new discovery comes just a few days after an Australian team working with the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) announced the finding of a repeated burst from a source approximately 4 billion light years away.In the research report published in the journal Nature, CalTech scientists revealed that this newly detected FRB named FRB 190523 came from a galaxy that is very similar to the Milky Way. However, this galaxy is not similar to the dwarf galaxy that produced the most famous repeated fast radio bursts named FRB 121102.”This finding tells us that every galaxy, even a run-of-the-mill galaxy like our Milky Way, can generate an FRB. Astronomers have been chasing FRBs for a decade now, and we’re finally drawing a bead on them. Now we have a chance of figuring out just what these exotic objects might be,” said Vikram Ravi, a researcher at CalTech and the lead author of the study, CNET reports.Ravi also added that the launch of Deep Synoptic Array telescopes in 2021 will help scientists to spot more fast radio bursts in the future, and thus scientists will be able to unveil the secrets of this cosmic mystery.last_img read more

Consumer goods and automobile sales gather steam in rural India

first_imgA salesman carries items in a basket inside a family-run grocery store in New Delhi September 18, 2012 (representational image).Reuters fileConsumer products and automobiles purchases in rural India has gained momentum and witnessed the fastest pace of growth in over three years, during the July-September period driven by surging demand and higher sales, as good monsoon also lifted farm income.Rural sales of fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) both by value and volume increased 13 percent during the quarter from a year earlier, the Economic Times reported.The rural market accounts for more than a third of all consumer goods sold. But in contrast, the urban market expanded only 4 percent by value and 1 percent by volume during this period.For the rural FMCG market this is the second consecutive quarter of double digit growth. This pushed the overall fast-moving consumer goods sector to grow by 7 percent compared to 4 percent last year.”Companies have become proactive by increasing direct distribution in rural areas as the headroom for penetration is very high compared to urban, which is saturated,” said Abneesh Roy, senior V-P, institutional equities, Edelweiss Securities.The surging demand in the rural market is in line with the expectations that FMCG companies had at the start of this year. In 2016, the FMCG companies have faced a tough time due to demand slowdown and demonetisation, but the players expected a turnaround by the last quarter of FY 2017 on the back of rural demand revival.Future of rural marketAccording to a Neilsen research report, the FMCG sector in rural and semi-urban India is estimated to cross $100 billion by 2025 (it will hit the $20 billion mark by 2018).Amongst the leading retailers, Dabur generates over 40-45 percent of its domestic revenue from rural sales. Hindustan Unilever rural revenue accounts for 45 percent of its overall sales while other companies earn 30-35 percent of their revenues from rural areas. A pedestrian walks past the Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) headquarters in Mumbai April 29, 2013.Reuters fileThe government has also planned various initiatives to provide and improve the infrastructure in rural areas which can have a multiplier effect in increasing movements of goods, services and further improve earnings potential of rural areas subsequently improving consumption.In addition, like urban India, consumers in the rural regions are also expected to embrace online purchases over time and drive consumption digitally. According to a research report by McKinsey Global Institute forecasts the annual real income per household in rural India will rise to 3.6 oercent 2025 from 2.8 percent in the last 20 years.”The company expects rural to contribute nearly 40 percent of sales in the next few years,” said Saugata Gupta, managing director at Marico.last_img read more

Market boom in the time of economic gloom What are the dynamics

first_imgSensex movements since 2014.The Sensex and Nifty hit record highs on Monday, sprinting off the block in the New Year. The benchmark indices have logged more than 1.5 percent growth in the first week of the year. Ironically this comes close on the heels of the latest forecast that suggests India’s economic growth is likely to remain stunted this fiscal year. So what are the dynamics that spur a market rise in times of less-than-robust growth outlook?The Central Statistics Office (CSO) data published late last week showed India’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth may fall to 6.5 percent during the 2017-18 financial year. This is much lower than the 7.1 percent GDP growth clocked in the previous financial year. The CSO prediction is grimmer even than the Reserve Bank’s revised growth rate of 6.7 percent. Consider also that the central bank was much more sanguine earlier in the year of a 7.3 percent growth forecast.The CSO prediction, if it turns good, will mean the country long hailed as the fastest-growing major economy in the world will hit a four-year low in GDP growth. However, the investor sentiment is apparently unaffected by this. On Monday, the Sensex hit an all-time high of 34,356 while Nifty soared past 10,600.What is sustaining, and driving, the mad rush at the markets? What exactly is the GDP growth/stock markets dynamic? Why are investors pumping up the stocks when a dash of caution should be the logical result of underwhelming economic growth projections? Or, is the booming market headed for a 2008-like crash as the doomsday theorists predict? Is some sort of a booby trap awaiting the euphoric and innocuous late entrants sold on the rise and rise of the stock market?Or, are the markets rightly pacing away from the impact of the first-quarter GDP shocker, seeing it as a point of no return? The impact of the three-year low hit in the June-August quarter, when growth slumped to 5.7 percent, was alleviated in the next quarter when growth rate bounced back to 6.3 percent. However, was that enough cause for reassuring cheer?If the second-quarter growth rate was a straw in the wind, the economy should have been on track to hit a growth rate of above 7 percent. While the second-quarter bounce-back gave rise to hopes that the economy was finally shunting out the effects of the demonetisation and GST implementation, the current outlook doesn’t reflect that buoyancy. According to a recent Fitch Ratings report, India’s growth rate in the next five years would be a moderate 6.7 percent.There are no mysteries when healthy GDP growth rate or growth projections have a positive impact on the markets. The situation is a no-brainer. As the economy expands, corporate houses look to sell more of their products and services, resulting in higher profits and earnings per share. International fund managers also turn bullish on the country as they constantly look for “emerging” players.But how do we explain the situation when the markets are seemingly unperturbed by the vexing predictions on the growth front?There may, of course, not be a perfect correlation between the GDP growth figures and the market growth. In general, markets rise when the GDP figures and projections are optimistic and vice versa, though not always in the same proportion. Unfounded euphoria?Indian investors, however, appear to be feisty and euphoric. The euphoria seems to be stemming from a whole gamut of economic and political spheres: The BJP’s latest poll victories that negated the punditry’s claims that demonetisation and GST impacts would stop the Modi-Shah combine on its tracks; the upcoming Budget 2018 that the middle classes look up to right in earnest for tax and other concessions and the like.However, a clean, hard look at the fundamentals would stand the investor in good stead. Are the core sectors picking up steam? Is the bump-up in the real-estate sector sentiments here to stay? Are the rate cut hopes logical given the fact that inflation is creeping up and beyond the comfort zone?Also to be seen in the context is the spike in crude prices seen for the first time in many years, in the aftermath of the Iranian political tensions. If crude inches higher it will strain the government’s fiscal situation further, making it harder for it to chase any populist spending plan further.Again, the budget season has returned with its generous doses of inane and absurd optimism. There are talks about it being a populist budget, that there will be tax soaps and other concessions. Too hard to come by, by all means indeed — direct taxpayers are after all the fall guys.The worst may be over for the economy, coming out as it did from the depths of a crisis induced by the note ban and the teething troubles with GST. However, retail stock investors might do themselves a lot of good to tarry a little. The crest of the wave is tempting but latching on to it can be perilous.last_img read more

PNB Scam What lies beyond a fraudulent letter and 2 corrupt officials

first_imgThe Punjab National Bank unearthed a Rs 11,400-crore fraud at its Kalagodha branch in Mumbai.ReutersPunjab National Bank’s $1.8 billion fraud has taken Indian banking industry by storm and investigative agencies are struggling to find out how the largest financial fraud to take place in the country went undetected for years.PNB has cautioned other banks about the mode of the operation of the scam that has already ensnared the country’s other big lenders.Here’s a quick look at the key people and events that aided the PNB fraud to be pulled off:PNB’s Brady House branch, south MumbaiIt all started around mid-January, when three firms – M/s Diamonds R US, M/s Solar Exports, M/s Stellar Diamonds – approached the bank for ‘buyers credit’ to make payments to overseas suppliers.Buyers credit is a short term credit, usually for 90-180 days, provided by international banks or international branches of Indian banks to an importer.Nirav Modi, his brother Nishal Modi, Nirav Modi’s wife Ami Nirav Modi, and Mehul Chinubhai Chokshi were partners in these firms, according to the initial complaint filed by PNB with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).Indian-born diamond jewellery designer Nirav Modi is the founder of the $2.3 billion Firestar Diamond and was ranked #57 in the Forbes list of India’s billionaires in 2017. His pieces have adorned global icons such as Dakota Johnson, Andreea Diaconu, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley or even PeeCee, among others.Two corrupt bank officialsTwo officials at PNB had fraudulently issued letters of undertaking (LoUs), allowing Nirav Modi group companies to get buyers’ credit from overseas bank branches to pay the sellers, according to media reports.But the officials who had helped them earlier had retired.LoUs are issued by a bank giving some sort of a guarantee on behalf of a company. Other lenders give credit based on the LoU.Under the terms of the LoU, PNB was the guarantor of these loans.However, the surprising fact was the manner in which the transactions were routed. Instead of using the core banking system, bank officials used through SWIFT, the global financial messaging service to get approval.As a result, the higher authorities at PNB were unaware of the fraud.SWIFT or Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication is used to send messages to financial institutions. It’s more like an SMS or WhatsApp messaging service instead of an official mail.Fraud comes to lightNow when the three firms approached PNB in January this year for buyers credit, they were denied.The bank records showed there was no such arrangement between the three firms and PNB. That’s when the bank started investigating.”At this, the firms contested that they have been availing this facility in the past also. But the branch records did not reveal details of any such facility having been granted to the said firms,” acording to the complaint filed by PNB to the CBI.Systemic Failure?The scam highlights the failure of internal mechanism at Indian banks as such transactions could have been detected only by lender’s internal auditors.”The system of internal control in PNB seems to have collapsed in detecting such activities. Legal process may take its own time to fix responsibility on the people involved in such illegal activities,” the All India Bank Depositors Association said in a statement on Thursday.The onus, once again, falls on the Reserve Bank of India to investigate systemic loopholes in state-owned banks and ensure risk management systems are made more robust.last_img read more

Walmart Flipkart employees to get option to switch places

first_imgWalmart issued a statement after the deal with Flipkart. [Representational Image]ReutersIn an internal communication, the employees of the retail giant Walmart have been given the option to work on various projects at the Indian e-retailer Flipkart. Similarly, Flipkart also has given the option to its employees to work with Walmart. The objective of this step is to allow the workforce of either company to learn each other’s functioning.The decision has come after the Bentonville based e-retailer, Walmart, took over 77 per cent stake in Flipkart at a whopping $16 billion. Business Standard reported that Flipkart believes that its employees would learn the details of handling grocery segment and on the other hand Walmart management feels that this practice would help its employees in learning more about the logistics, delivery side of the business including the technology that goes behind running the e-commerce marketplace.A Walmart spokesperson said that “Walmart India cash and Carry and Flipkart will continue to be separate brands. As with any other organization, in Walmart too, there is always a scope to move talent across different entities or geographies based on expertise, business requirements and to give exposure to its associate so that they learn and acquire best practice.”Business Standard also reported that Flipkart which plans to restart its efforts to run its grocery business successfully would be interested in learning more about stuff related to inventory management also handling fresh produce and cold chains. Several Flipkart employees to turn dollar millionaires post the Walmart acquisition [Representational Image]ReutersAfter the deal with Walmart, Flipkart launched Flipkart Supermarket, its grocery store in all the major areas of Bengaluru. The company plans to expand its grocery business to 6 major cities by end of the year 2018. Its grocery portfolio has staples, FMCG and dairy products.Flipkart is aggressively expanding its grocery segment and has set up a dedicated, cost-efficient supply chain which also includes building a new warehouse to set up last mile delivery network. Flipkart which is the country’s most value e-commerce firm has set aside around $300 million to develop a strong network of hyperlocal grocers. On the other hand, Walmart in the United States will be taking expertise from Flipkart to compete against its rivals.last_img read more

Gold price crosses Tk 50000

first_imggold pricesThe gold prices in the local market have shot up again by Tk 1,400 per bhari (11.664 grams).After the latest hike, the price of one bhari of 22-carat gold will stand at Tk 50,738, while 21-carat gold price at Tk 48,406, 18-carat gold at Tk 43,157 and traditional gold at Tk 26,536 per bhari.The Bangladesh Jewellers’ Association announced the new prices in a press release on Tuesday.The new prices will come into effect from tomorrow, Wednesday.Earlier on 25 December last, gold prices were hiked by Tk 1,400 a bhari.However, the price of silver remains the same at Tk 1,050 per bhari.last_img

Justice Sinha provokes antiAL propaganda before polls Quader

first_imgObaidul Quader file photoRuling Bangladesh Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader on Friday questioned pre-election timing of publication of a book by former chief justice SK Sinha that alleged he was forced to leave Bangladesh.Quader, also road transport and bridges minister, expressed his views that Sinha should have avoided instigating anti-regime propaganda ahead of the general elections.“It’s natural he would publish his book. However, my question is: Why has he done it sitting on foreign soil? Why has he chosen a pre-polls scenario (for publication)? It could have been published 2-3 months later,” the AL leader said during his visit to project site on the Dhaka-Tangail and the Dhaka-Mymensingh highways at Bhogra.Former chief justice Surendra Kumar Sinha, who left the country in October and resigned from his post in November last year, has recently published a book, ‘A Broken Dream: Rule of Law, Human Rights and Democracy’. Its contents have also been viral.Obaidul Quader claimed that Sinha voluntarily quit his position. “Still he might have some grievances in his mind,” he added.The AL leader alleged that justice Sinha is disseminating ‘concocted information’ in his book and that he is helping with his propaganda the anti-government elements.“If this one is his motive to publish this book at this stage, my point is this will raise question about his responsibility as a chief justice,” Quader insisted.UNB adds: Quader, replying to a question over formation of ‘greater national unity’, said, “There’s nothing to worry about it ahead of the election. We believe the Hasina-led Awami League has earned the trust of people through development and good governance. Awami League, I think, will be able to take home ‘golden crops’.”Dwelling on the just-enacted digital security law, the minister also said it will not create any obstacle to journalism.“The new law aims to prevent digital crimes and ensure digital security. There’s nothing to be worried about it and we hope the law wouldn’t create an obstacle to journalism and the freedom of expression,” he said.last_img read more

Myanmars moves could mean Rohingyas never go home

first_imgRohingya refugees crew a fishing boat in the Bay of Bengal near Cox`s Bazaar, Bangladesh, 24 March 2018. Photo: ReutersMyanmar’s leaders are promising to bring home hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who fled a brutal military crackdown. But the government, led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, is taking steps that make their return increasingly unlikely.The areas where the Rohingya lived in Myanmar’s western Rakhine State before the army ousted them are being dramatically transformed. The northern reaches of this region were once a Muslim-majority enclave in the overwhelmingly Buddhist nation.Hundreds of new houses are now being built in villages where the Rohingya resided, satellite images show. Many of these villages were burned, then flattened and scraped by bulldozers. The new homes are being occupied mainly by Buddhists, some from other parts of Rakhine. The security forces are also building new facilities in these areas.A clear picture of the changes on the ground has been elusive, however, because of restrictions on travel to the region. To document Myanmar’s plans for the Rohingya, Reuters analysed satellite photographs of construction work in the region from the past year and an unpublished resettlement map drafted by the government. Reporters also interviewed national and state-level government officials in charge of resettlement policy, aid workers, refugees in the camps in Bangladesh, and Rohingya still living in northern Rakhine.The government is both building some of the new homes and helping to facilitate the Buddhist resettlement push, according to local officials and new settlers. The campaign is being spearheaded by Buddhist nationalists who want to establish a Buddhist majority in the area.And the Rohingya resettlement map drafted by the government, described here for the first time, reveals that many refugees who do return to Rakhine won’t go back to their homes or even their original villages. The map shows they would be herded into several dozen Rohingya-only settlements, segregating them from the rest of the population.Many of the Rohingya who stayed behind say conditions are growing intolerable. A scattered community of more than 200,000 Rohingya remains in northern Rakhine, according to an internal UN document reviewed by Reuters. More than two dozen people who recently fled to Bangladesh told Reuters they faced intimidation and beatings by security forces, as well as curfews and travel restrictions that made it difficult to work or obtain food. The result is a continued flow of Rohingya into Bangladesh. Almost 15,000 have fled so far this year, according to the United Nations.Yanghee Lee, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, said the Reuters findings showed the actions of the authorities in Myanmar were making the expulsion of the Rohingya irreversible. The aim, she said, is to change the terrain by removing “any remnants” of Rohingya villages. “For people to go back to their places of origin, identify landmarks to go back to, it’s become impossible.”The Myanmar authorities “wanted to get everyone out,” she added. “Now they’ve got them out, they sure aren’t going to give it back to the Rohingya.”Myanmar has been ready to take back the refugees since January, the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement said in reply to questions from Reuters. The government was investing “all physical (efforts) and wisdom to overcome the challenges that we faced in Rakhine State,” it said in a statement.REMAKING RAKHINEAung San Suu Kyi told an audience in Singapore in August that Myanmar is pursuing “the voluntary, safe and dignified return” of the displaced Rohingya. A return of some refugees is possible, to be sure, as Myanmar tries to ease international pressure over the crisis.Across the border in Bangladesh, however, refugees are skeptical. Plans to begin the repatriation on 15 November with a group of some 2,200 Rohingya collapsed when they refused to go unless they were granted citizenship and allowed back to their original homes.Myo Nyunt, a spokesman for the ruling National League for Democracy, said the Rohingya were to blame for delays in their return because of their demand for citizenship as a prerequisite for their repatriation. “We absolutely can’t accept this,” he said.He also said that bureaucratic obstacles in Bangladesh were holding up repatriation. “The longer it takes for people to return, the greater the possibility that other people will take their place,” he said.Hussein Ahmed says if he can’t recover his land, there’s no point returning. Sitting in a shack in Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh, he examines satellite photos of Inn Din, the village where he was born 73 years ago and fled during the army crackdown last year.It’s almost unrecognizable. All the Muslim homes are gone. The Buddhist homes remain. Hussein Ahmed points to where his once stood, a newly built two-story structure. In its place, there’s a long, red-roofed building.”This was my village,” says Hussein Ahmed, who was the village chairman in Inn Din. “All our homes were burned,” he said. “The army has occupied our land. So I don’t think we’ll get it back.”Myanmar was ruled for half a century by a succession of repressive military leaders. The junta yielded in 2011 to a nominally civilian government, now led by the National League for Democracy of Suu Kyi. The military retains great power, however, and the generals and Suu Kyi’s cabinet have shown a united front on Rohingya policy.Northern Rakhine is home to multiple ethnic groups. The two largest are the Rohingya and a Buddhist people, the Rakhine, who share the name of the state. The junta tried for decades to alter the population balance by bolstering the number of Buddhists there. The aim was to stop “an incursion of people,” said Sai Tun Nyo, a spokesman for the military-controlled Ministry of Border Affairs, referring to Muslims. “We need a human fence to stop it.”The Rohingya trace their roots back centuries in the Rakhine area, a reading of history supported by independent scholars. Buddhist nationalists see the Rohingya as Muslim interlopers who invented an ethnic identity after migrating from the Indian sub-continent. They want to curb the number of Muslims in northern Rakhine.The expulsion of the Rohingya on Suu Kyi’s watch has gone a long way to achieving that goal. There is now more or less numerical parity between Buddhists and Muslims in northern Rakhine, according to the internal UN document.The Rohingya exodus has produced the world’s biggest refugee camp, the result of “ethnic cleansing” with “genocidal intent,” according to the United Nations. An offensive by Myanmar security forces last year in northern Rakhine that has driven out more than 730,000 Rohingya included mass killings and gang rapes, the United Nations said. Myanmar rejects these accusations, saying the crackdown was a legitimate response to “terrorism.”In August last year, a group of Rohingya insurgents attacked security posts in the region, killing 13 members of the security forces. Almost 400 Rohingya villages were damaged or destroyed in the ensuing military-led offensive.With many of the villages still smoldering, the government signaled its intent to reshape northern Rakhine.Win Myat Aye, the minister responsible for resettlement, invoked a law on natural disasters under which, he said, “burnt land becomes government-managed land,” according to state media.Within a few months, the government sent in bulldozers to flatten what was left of Rohingya homes, mosques and other buildings in dozens of villages, satellite images showed. In aerial photographs taken over northern Rakhine in February, scrape marks in the sand from the bulldozers are visible.A UN fact-finding mission said reports about the destruction of villages raised “serious concerns” that Myanmar was trying to destroy evidence of its actions. The government says the bulldozing was done with good intentions – to make way for new development and improved living conditions for the Rohingya.”When the news of that misunderstanding came out, we were surprised,” said Win Myat Aye, the minister in charge of resettlement.One of those villages is Inn Din, the site of a massacre of 10 Muslim men amid the 2017 offensive that was reported by Reuters this February. The 6,000 Rohingya who lived there, almost 90 per cent of the population, are all gone. So are their homes.INN DINSatellite images of Inn Din reveal that more than a dozen rectangular, red-roofed buildings have been built on land where thatch-roofed Rohingya homes and at least one mosque stood. Visitors to the village said the new structures are a border police facility.The road running through Inn Din has been widened. Satellite images show new roads and infrastructure are being built across northern Rakhine.The Rakhine state government is building 100 new homes in the village for Buddhists, according to local officials.More new dwellings in Inn Din, also earmarked for Buddhists, have been built by a group called the Ancillary Committee for the Reconstruction of Rakhine National Territory in the Western Frontier. The group, made up of Buddhist nationalists, has resettled more than 130 families from elsewhere in Rakhine.These families are now in Inn Din and Koe Tan Kauk, another village that also had a large Muslim majority until the Rohingya fled.”Muslims are a worldwide disease. Anyone who says different is lying,” said Than Tun, one of the group’s founders. “My desire, and what any Rakhine would say, if I’m not being diplomatic, is that we only want Rakhines.”Than Tun is one of many Rakhine Buddhist leaders who strongly oppose any repatriation of Rohingya to Inn Din and the surrounding coastal region along the Bay of Bengal. They say it is a strategically important part of northern Rakhine – a buffer separating Muslim-majority Bangladesh and Myanmar’s Buddhist heartland.A senior official in Rakhine’s General Administration Department told Reuters that his office signed off on the resettlement of families vetted by Than Tun’s committee and that the group was operating with government approval. The department falls under the central government’s Ministry of Home Affairs, which is controlled by the military.Kyaw Soe Moe, Inn Din’s administrator, said he was helping newly arrived Buddhists to settle on what he said was “vacant land” in the village.’WE LOST EVERYTHING’Across the Bangladeshi border in Kutupalong refugee camp, Noor Islam lives with 20 members of his extended family in a shack. He said he carried his 90-year-old mother for much of the journey to Bangladesh.In Rakhine, he used to own several pharmacies. “My shops were filled with medicines when I fled,” he said.Now, he sells medicines from a rickety bamboo table.His home was Taung Bazar, a cluster of hamlets named after a “mountain market” that once drew large crowds.The village was home to both Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims, who were the majority.Now, only a small Rohingya community remains and hundreds of Buddhists have moved in. On the eastern edge of Taung Bazar, the Ministry of Border Affairs has built 63 mint-green houses with blue roofs. These new homes, for mostly Buddhist ethnic groups, are on paddy fields formerly farmed by Rohingya.More Buddhist homes have been built on the banks of the Mayu River running through the village.After many residents fled, a Buddhist village administrator began selling off the riverfront land to Buddhist families, starting early this year, according to three Rohingya villagers on the ground who spoke by phone.Maung Lone, the village administrator, said the riverfront land belonged to the Rakhine Buddhist community. He helped Buddhists move into the new homes there, he said, and also allowed them to live temporarily in empty Rohingya homes. He did not take any money for this, he said.In Kutupalong refugee camp, Noor Islam recently flipped through receipts that show the tax he paid on two acres of the land where he says the mint-green houses now stand. “We lost everything,” he said.An official at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation in Naypyitaw told Reuters that Noor Islam’s tax receipts looked genuine. Nonetheless, the official, Than Htut, said that since Rohingya aren’t citizens in Myanmar, they would have to “negotiate” with local authorities to recover their land or receive compensation.REMAPPING RAKHINEIn her speech in Singapore in August, Suu Kyi said her government had “mapped out potential sites for the resettlement of returnees.” Bangladeshi officials told Reuters her remark contradicted an agreement they had signed with Myanmar for the repatriation of the Rohingya. That deal stipulated that the Rohingya could return to their homes or nearby places of their choosing.The plan flagged by Suu Kyi is moving forward, however. Officials in the ministry responsible for resettlement, at the behest of the minister, showed Reuters a map that plots the location of new settlements that will be built for returning refugees. The ministry says there will be 42 of these settlements.The map reflects a broad plan to redraw the ethno-religious boundaries of northern Rakhine. Besides demarcating settlements for the Rohingya, the map also includes settlements for mainly Buddhist ethnic groups, as well as sites, marked with black circles, where only Hindus will live. The Rohingya are referred to as “Bengali” on the map, a pejorative term that suggests they are foreign interlopers.The new settlements will be an improvement on their original villages, Win Myat Aye, the minister in charge of resettlement, said in an interview. “The situation will be better, with electricity, roads and bridges.”Refugees whose houses were destroyed would be given the option of living in a “temporary tent” at one of the resettlement sites while building their own homes as part of a “cash-for-work” program, the ministry for resettlement said in a statement to Reuters.Asked whether the Rohingya could return to their old villages, Win Myat Aye replied: “If their house is still there and if they want to go, they can.”Many villagers won’t have that option. In Inn Din, for example, all the Muslim homes were burned down, and the map shows no resettlement site is planned in the village.The map also reveals the government doesn’t plan any resettlement sites for Rohingya in Rathedaung, one of the three townships that make up northern Rakhine. It was home to tens of thousands of Muslims before they fled. Only a few Rohingya villages remain now.Myo Nyunt, the ruling party spokesman, said the reconstruction push in northern Rakhine has been driven by “security and administrative” needs.”If we rebuild exactly as before, it would be difficult to control for security reasons,” he said. “So for security, we have to build systematically so that terrorists can’t hide.”Yanghee Lee, the UN human rights rapporteur, said the government’s plans revealed an attempt to “socially re-engineer Rakhine” and would create “an apartheid-like situation” in the region. “They want to put all the Rohingya in one or several areas which will be more like long-term internment camps where they can monitor very closely,” she said.Dozens of refugees told Reuters they want to return to the homes they left. Many expressed the fear that the new settlements are part of a government plan to control their movements and will become de-facto internment camps.There is a precedent: Close to 130,000 Muslims have been living in camps in Rakhine since a bout of communal bloodshed in 2012. Their homes were burned down by their Buddhist neighbors and some 200 people were killed, most of them Rohingya.The government has pledged to close the camps, but most remain open. The Rohingya refer to them as “open-air prisons.” Residents are barred from leaving, conditions are squalid, and inhabitants have limited access to education and healthcare.Christopher Sidoti, a member of the United Nations fact-finding mission on Myanmar, said the fears expressed by the refugees were “entirely reasonable.””The Rohingya still in Myanmar are living in isolated camps or urban or village ghettos, are unable to move, are cut off from their livelihoods, have no health services and inadequate, if any, access to schooling for their kids,” said Sidoti.Resettlement plans also appear to have been drawn up for Rohingya who remained behind, people in Rakhine say.Near the village of Gu Dar Pyin, authorities have begun building new houses for Muslims on a river bank, according to Rohingya residents and a Buddhist elder. The work is moving ahead, they said, despite protests from the 76 Rohingya families still living in the village who didn’t want to move.’BACK TO GRADE ONE’A major obstacle to the return of the Rohingya is Myanmar’s requirement that the refugees accept National Verification Cards, a residency document that conveys a status short of citizenship. The Rohingya vehemently oppose the card, known as the NVC. They say the credentials brand them as new arrivals undeserving of citizenship, despite being born in Myanmar.In the five decades the generals ruled Myanmar, they increasingly tied citizenship to ethnicity and race. Today, Suu Kyi’s government adheres to a list of 135 “national races” – a legacy of the junta period – in determining who counts as a citizen. The Rohingya aren’t on the list.Their status has eroded over time. In 2015, the quasi-civilian government then ruling Myanmar stripped the Rohingya of their temporary ID documents, known as “white cards,” depriving them of the right to vote in national elections that year. Now, the government is urging the Rohingya to accept the NVC as a “first step” to citizenship.”How can we accept the NVC?” said Noor Islam, the pharmacist from Taung Bazar.He has kept his family’s old identity documents, including the papers of his father and grandfather, as proof they once shared the same citizenship status as other Burmese. “It’s as if the student has passed matriculation and he is then asked to go back to grade one,” he said.More than a dozen recent arrivals at the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, said the official pressure to accept the identity cards was why they ultimately fled. They gave accounts of being beaten by soldiers and border police for refusing to accept the cards, and being blocked from traveling for lack of one.These restrictions and a nightly curfew mean many Rohingya can’t reach the fields they till or the markets where they buy food. Four refugees who arrived in Bangladesh in recent months said they had resorted to begging for food before they left. Five Rohingya men said they performed forced labour for the military.Mohammed Rafiq, 20, who arrived in the camps in September, said he was forced to work at the barracks of Light Infantry Battalion 565 in Buthidaung township. He dug holes, cleaned the compound and cut the grass.”If anyone slacked in their work, the soldiers would aim their guns and threaten them,” he said. “I thought we could survive there, and things would improve. But I couldn’t keep doing forced labour. So I came here.”In the camps, many of the Rohingya still dream of going back.Noor Islam hopes, for his children’s sake, that they will ultimately return to their homes in Myanmar. “We want to go back for our children,” he said. “Our children have lost their future.”last_img

Former US security chief sold out country Judge

first_imgFormer National Security Advisor General Michael Flynn leaves after the delay in his sentencing hearing at US District Court in Washington, DC on 18 December. Photo: AFPA federal judge accused president Donald Trump’s former national security chief Michael Flynn Tuesday of selling out the United States but agreed to delay his sentencing for lying over secret communications with Russian officials.Judge Emmet Sullivan said Flynn had behaved in a “traitorous” manner while he was in the White House in early 2017 and threatened to impose a stiff prison sentence, rejecting a recommendation by prosecutors that the retired three-star general benefit from cooperating and receive no jail time.But the judge gave Flynn the option to delay his sentencing, to better demonstrate why he merited a light punishment.”I want to be frank with you, this crime is very serious,” Sullivan said. “I’m not hiding my disgust, my disdain.””Arguably, you sold your country out,” he added.Surprise rebukeIt was a sharp and unexpected rebuke to the highest-ranked Trump aide so far to face a judge in the Russian collusion investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.Flynn, a lanky 60-year-old former head of the Defence Intelligence Agency, showed no emotion as he answered the judge’s questions as briefly as possible.Trump has maintained that Flynn has fallen prey to a “witch hunt” by the FBI and allied Democrats to undermine his administration.”The whole Russian Collusion thing was a HOAX, but who is going to restore the good name of so many people whose reputations have been destroyed?” Trump tweeted earlier Tuesday.White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said following Tuesday’s hearing that Flynn had been mistreated.”The FBI broke standard protocol in the way they came in and ambushed General Flynn and in the way they questioned him,” she said.Flynn has been a central focus of the Mueller probe.Two FBI agents arrived at the White house on 24 January 2017 — four days after Trump was inaugurated — to interview Flynn about his conversations the previous month with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak.The agents said Flynn lied about those contacts, in which he allegedly promised to remove sanctions on Russia even while the Obama government was in the process of strengthening them over Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election.Weeks later Flynn left the White House under a cloud for the alleged lies, but Trump persisted in defending him.In private meetings he pressured then-FBI director James Comey to pull back the investigation into Flynn’s Russia contacts, Comey has testified.After Comey refused, Trump fired him, an act which led to Mueller’s appointment as an independent prosecutor in charge of the Russia probe.An additional consequence of Comey’s firing was that Trump himself came under investigation for attempted obstruction of justice.Turning point in Russia probe?Flynn was one of the first to seek a deal with Mueller, admitting one count of lying a year ago but putting off his sentencing while he cooperated in the broader Mueller probe.So far at least 38 people have been indicted in cases brought by Mueller or spun off from his investigation.Flynn’s case reaching the sentencing stage could mark a turning point for the investigation: all the cases filed against non-Russians have been resolved with guilty pleas and, in one case, a jury conviction.Mueller is believed now poised to take the probe to a new level where people in Trump’s inner circle, including possibly the president himself, are implicated in wrongdoing, from collusion with Russians during the election to financial crimes.Little is known about the exact targets of the highly secret special council operation, but Trump’s repeated attacks trying to delegitimize the operation suggest he is worried.Trump foundation shut downTrump was forced on Tuesday to shut down his personal charity, the Trump Foundation, after the New York attorney general accused it of a “shocking pattern of illegality” to advance the president’s political and business interests.The state sued the foundation in June, accusing it of “persistently illegal conduct,” naming the president, his sons Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump, and daughter Ivanka Trump, who were on the board.The foundation had functioned “as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests,” state Attorney General Barbara Underwood said.”This is an important victory for the rule of law, making clear that there is one set of rules for everyone,” Underwood added.last_img read more

US shutdown ends as broken Trump backs down

first_imgSpeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) walks with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) after signing legislation during an enrolment ceremony before sending it to US president Donald Trump for his signature to end the partial government shutdown on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, on 25 January 2019. Photo: ReutersPresident Donald Trump agreed under mounting pressure on Friday to end a 35-day-old partial US government shutdown without getting the $5.7 billion he had demanded from Congress for a border wall, handing a political victory to Democrats.The three-week spending deal reached with congressional leaders, quickly passed by the Republican-led Senate and the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives without opposition and signed by Trump, paves the way for tough talks with lawmakers about how to address security along the US-Mexican border.The Republican president’s agreement to end the shuttering of about a quarter of the federal government without securing wall money – an astonishing retreat – came three days after he had insisted, “We will not Cave!”But Trump vowed that the shutdown would resume on 15 February if he is dissatisfied with the results of a bipartisan House-Senate conference committee’s border security negotiations, or he would declare a national emergency in order to get the wall money without congressional approval.The lapse in funding shuttered about a quarter of federal agencies, with about 800,000 workers either furloughed or required to work without pay. Many employees as well as contractors were turning to unemployment assistance, food banks and other support. Others began seeking new jobs.With polls showing most Americans blamed him for the painful shutdown – the longest of its kind in US history – Trump embraced a way out of the crisis that Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had been pushing for weeks.The shutdown, which pitted Pelosi against Trump, was her first test since assuming the post three weeks ago. She drew praise from fellow Democrats for what they said was an outmanoeuvring of the president.Democrats remained unyielding in their opposition to a wall, one of Trump’s signature campaign promises that they call ineffective, costly and immoral. Trump has said a wall is needed to curb illegal immigration and drug trafficking.Asked by reporters if she could guarantee there will not be another government shutdown in three weeks, Pelosi said, “I can’t assure the public about anything that the president will do, but I do have to say I’m optimistic.”Speaking in the White House Rose Garden on a chilly, sunny winter day, Trump said he would act to ensure that federal workers get their back pay “very quickly, or as soon as possible.”Trump had previously demanded the inclusion of the money to help pay for a wall in any legislation to fund government agencies, but Democrats had blocked him.An administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that stories of law enforcement officials not being able to do their jobs at full capacity helped convince Trump to agree to a short-term solution to re-open the government. The official said the White House ultimately would accept a deal with lawmakers if it includes wall funding, even if it is less than $5.7 billion.”No Choice””We really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier,” Trump said. “If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on 15 February – again – or I would use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency.”He previously has indicated he was considering an emergency declaration to circumvent congressional funding powers if lawmakers do not fund his wall, an action that almost certainly would be swiftly challenged by Democrats as exceeding his authority under the US Constitution.Trump triggered the shutdown, which began on 22 December, with his wall-funding demand after being criticised by conservative commentators for being willing to sign legislation funding the government without securing wall money.Conservative commentator Ann Coulter lashed out at Trump for capitulating on Friday, calling him on Twitter “the biggest wimp ever to serve as president of the United States.” Trump took to Twitter to say his about-face was “in no way a concession” and that he was simply “taking care of millions of people who were getting badly hurt by the Shutdown.”Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said he hoped the experience would be a “lesson learned” for Trump and his party that it is self-defeating to shut the government over policy disputes. Schumer said Democrats and Trump have “so many areas” of agreement on border security but not a wall.”The walls we are building are not medieval walls,” Trump said. “They are smart walls designed to meet the needs of front-line border agents and are operationally effective. These barriers are made of steel, have see-through visibility, which is very important, and are equipped with sensors, monitors and cutting-edge technology, including state-of-the-art drones.”US president Donald Trump arrives to speak about a deal to end the partial government shutdown in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, US, on 25 January 2019. Photo: Reuters”We do not need 2,000 miles (3,200 km) of concrete wall from sea to shining sea. We never did,” Trump added. “We never proposed that. We never wanted that because we have barriers at the border where natural structures are as good as anything that we could build.”Pelosi said she would discuss with Trump “a mutually agreed date” for his annual State of the Union address, which she had effectively forced him to postpone amid the shutdown showdown. A senior White House official said the address will not be on Tuesday, as originally planned, and it is up to Pelosi to reschedule it.The effects of the shutdown had been spreading. Hundreds of flights were grounded or delayed at New York-area and Philadelphia airports on Friday as air traffic controllers called in sick.FBI Director Christopher Wray in a video message to his employees called the shutdown “mind-boggling” “shortsighted” and “unfair.”The deal was reached a day after Wilbur Ross, Trump’s commerce secretary who amassed a personal fortune buying distressed companies, said unpaid federal employees should get a loan if they were financially squeezed.”Broken Man”Trump’s deal to end the US government shutdown without getting money for his border wall drew immediate scorn from some of the prominent conservative figures whose support may be crucial to his 2020 re-election bid.Throughout the month-long standoff with congressional Democrats, Trump again and again asserted that he would not compromise on his demand for $5.7 billion to construct a barrier along the US-Mexico border.On Friday, as federal government operations grew more disrupted, the president did just that.”Trump is a broken man,” tweeted commentator Mike Cernovich, a popular conservative personality on social media with a passionate following of Trump voters.Cernovich said Trump had been outmanoeuvred by Democratic US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, calling her an “alpha.”Conservative provocateur Ann Coulter wrote on Twitter: “Good news for George Herbert Walker Bush: As of today, he is no longer the biggest wimp ever to serve as president of the United States.”The influential conservative news website Drudge Report in a banner headline made a point of saying the deal contained “No Wall Funds.”News site Breitbart, once run by former Trump strategist Steve Bannon, simply posted “Government Open. No Wall.” The Daily Caller, another conservative news website, ran the headline, “TRUMP CAVES.”Some prominent conservatives jumped to Trump’s defence, however. “If Trump fails to get a wall,” wrote Kurt Schlichter, a columnist for conservative news and opinion site Townhall, “I’ll just have to settle for only 90 per cent of what I wanted.”Trump’s decision to agree to a short-term measure that funds the government through 15 February came as opinion polls showed his job approval rating falling to some of the lowest levels of his tenure – and as some Democrats begin to mount candidacies to challenge his re-election.Trump’s promise of a border wall was central to his 2016 campaign, and he viewed the standoff as a way to show supporters that he was trying to follow through.Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist who is in regular contact with the White House, said Trump will be able to push for wall funding over the next three weeks without the distraction of a shutdown and that his supporters should wait to judge his efforts.Trump also signaled on Friday that if he doesn’t get the result he wants, he may yet declare a national emergency and re-route federal monies to build the wall on his own.”He might take a short-term hit but overall in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a big deal as long as he is ultimately seen as committed to border security,” O’Connell told Reuters.last_img read more

Saudi Arabia names first woman envoy to US

first_imgIn this file photo taken on 24 October 2018 Saudi Princess Reema bint Bandar al-Saud speaks during the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in the capital Riyadh. Photo: AFPSaudi Arabia on Saturday named a princess as its first woman ambassador to the United States, a key appointment as the fallout over journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder tests relations between the allies.Princess Reema bint Bandar replaced Prince Khalid bin Salman, the younger brother of the powerful crown prince who was appointed vice defence minister in a flurry of late-night royal decrees announced on state media.The reshuffle comes as Saudi Arabia seeks to quell an international outcry over Khashoggi’s murder last October in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, which strained relations with its key ally Washington.After initially denying they knew anything of Khashoggi’s disappearance, the kingdom finally acknowledged that Saudi agents killed him inside the consulate, but described it as a rogue operation.Princess Reema faces hostile US lawmakers who have threatened tough action against Saudi Arabia over the brutal killing amid claims that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — the kingdom’s de-facto ruler — was personally responsible.The Saudi government has denied he had anything to do with the murder of Khashoggi, a royal insider-turned-critic who was a columnist with the Washington Post.”The appointment of a new envoy signifies an attempt by Riyadh to try and re-set relations with Washington and draw a line under the Khashoggi affair, however unlikely that may be in practice, at least with Congress,” Kristian Ulrichsen, a fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute in the United States, told AFP.’First female ambassador’Princess Reema, the daughter of a former long-time ambassador to the US, has been a leading advocate of female empowerment in the kingdom, which has faced intense criticism over the recent jailing of women activists — and subsequent claims of sexual abuse and torture of some of them in detention.The princess previously worked at the kingdom’s General Sports Authority, where she led a campaign to increase women’s participation in sports.”Princess Reema becomes the first female ambassador in Saudi history and the first female with a rank of minister — a strong signal to the integration of women into the government and workforce,” Ali Shihabi, founder of the pro-Saudi think-tank Arabia Foundation, said on Twitter.Prince Khalid, a son of the king who served as ambassador since 2017, had been expected to leave Washington for some time — particularly after the global outcry over Khashoggi tarnished the kingdom’s reputation.His new appointment as deputy defence minister comes as a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia remains bogged down in a four-year conflict in neighbouring Yemen.A separate royal decree on Saturday ordered a one-month salary bonus for frontline military officials on the kingdom’s southern border.’Difficult portfolio’Prince Khalid, a former Saudi air force pilot, takes his post a year after the crown prince — who also serves as the defence minister — announced a military reform plan and a dramatic overhaul of top defence commanders.”As the Yemen war drags on and the military reform programme continues to move painstakingly slow, Prince Khalid is gaining a difficult portfolio but one that is critical to his father, brother and the kingdom,” Becca Wasser, a policy analyst at the US-based RAND Corporation, told AFP.”Prince Mohammed has struggled to delegate authority within this file which has rendered some efforts — chiefly military reform — stagnant, and Prince Khalid’s appointment may be an attempt to reinvigorate these initiatives.”Shihabi said Prince Khalid will virtually have the same authority as the defence minister, shouldering some of the burden on the crown prince.Khashoggi’s killing has refocused attention on the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing campaign in Yemen, which is gripped by what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.A key challenge for Princess Reema will be to win over US lawmakers, who earlier this month voted overwhelmingly to end American involvement in the Saudi war effort in Yemen, dealing a rebuke to president Donald Trump who has publicly thrown his support behind the crown prince.US lawmakers this month also said they were probing whether Trump was rushing to sell sensitive nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, voicing fears that it could be misused to make an atomic bomb.last_img read more

Our country is full Trump

first_imgUS president Donald Trump gestures after speaking during the Republican Jewish Coalition`s annual leadership meeting at The Venetian Las Vegas on 6 April 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: AFPDeclaring “our country is full,” president Donald Trump on Friday insisted the US immigration system was overburdened and illegal crossings must be stopped as he inspected a refurbished section of fencing at the Mexican border.Trump, making a renewed push for border security as a central campaign issue for his 2020 re-election, participated in a briefing on immigration and border security in Calexico before viewing a 2-mile (3.2-kilometer) see-through steel-slat barrier that was a long-planned replacement for an older barrier — and not new wall.”There is indeed an emergency on our southern border,” Trump said at the briefing, adding that there has been a sharp uptick in illegal crossings. “It’s a colossal surge and it’s overwhelming our immigration system, and we can’t let that happen. … We can’t take you anymore. We can’t take you. Our country is full.”As Air Force One touched down in the state, California and 19 other states that are suing Trump over his emergency declaration to build a border wall requested a court order to stop money from being diverted to fund the project. But Trump, who ratcheted up his hard-line immigration rhetoric in recent weeks, declared that his move, which included vetoing a congressional vote, was necessary.Also on Friday, House Democrats filed a lawsuit preventing Trump from spending more money than Congress has approved to erect barriers along the southwestern border. Congress approved just under $1.4 billion for work on border barricades. Trump has asserted he can use his powers as chief executive to transfer an additional $6.7 billion to wall construction.Trump, who earlier in the week threatened to shut down the border over the high numbers of migrants trying to enter the US, appeared to walk back his comments Thursday. He said Friday that it was because Mexico had gotten tougher in stopping an influx of immigrants from moving north.”Mexico has been absolutely terrific for the last four days,” the president said as he left the White House. “I never changed my mind at all. I may shut it down at some point.”The president’s visit came a day after he withdrew his nominee to lead US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Longtime border official Ron Vitiello appeared to be cruising toward confirmation, but Trump said Friday that he wanted to go in a “tougher direction.”Trump, as he so often does, mixed fact with fiction when warning of the threat at the border. When complaining about the Flores legal settlement that governs treatment of migrant children and families, he blamed “Judge Flores, whoever you may be.” But Flores was an unaccompanied 15-year-old girl from El Salvador.He also downplayed the claims of people seeking asylum at the border, declaring without evidence that many are gang members while comparing some of their efforts to find safety in the US to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 elections.”It’s a scam, it’s a hoax,” Trump said. “I know about hoaxes. I just went through a hoax.”As the president showed off the renovated section of the barrier to reporters, a balloon depicting Trump as a baby floated further down the border. And as Trump landed in California, the state’s governor ripped the president’s push for Congress to pass legislation that would tighten asylum rules to make it harder for people to qualify.”Since our founding, this country has been a place of refuge — a safe haven for people fleeing tyranny, oppression and violence. His words show a total disregard of the Constitution, our justice system, and what it means to be an American,” said Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.Trump has been increasingly exasperated at his inability to halt the swelling number of migrants entering the US, including thousands who have been released after arriving because border officials have no space for them. Arrests along the southern border have skyrocketed in recent months, and border agents were on track to make 100,000 arrests or denials of entry in March, a 12-year high. More than half of those are families with children, who require extra care.The southern border is nearly 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) long and already has about 650 miles (1,050 kilometers) of different types of barriers, including short vehicle barricades and tall steel fences that go up to 30 feet (9 meters) high. Most of the fencing was built during George W. Bush’s administration, and there have been updates and maintenance throughout other administrations.Trump has yet to complete any new mileage of fencing or other barriers anywhere on the border, though he declared Friday that at least 400 miles (650 kilometers) of the border barrier would be erected over the next two years. His administration so far has only replaced existing fencing. Construction for that small chunk of fencing cost about $18 million, began in February 2018 and was completed in October. Plans to replace that fence date back to 2009, during President Barack Obama’s tenure.Administration officials had been studying ways to minimize the economic impact of a potential border closure in case Trump went through with his threat, including keeping trucking lanes open or closing only certain ports.But even absent that extraordinary step, delays at border stations have been mounting after some 2,000 border officers were reassigned from checking vehicles to deal with migrant crowds.After the border visit, Trump traveled to Los Angeles for a pair of fundraisers in the deeply liberal city. He then traveled to Las Vegas for another re-election fundraiser and an address to the Republican Jewish Coalition, which is backed by GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson.last_img

Rahul Gandhi faces backlash over election drubbing

first_imgRahul Gandhi, president of India`s main opposition Congress party, leaves after casting his vote at a polling station in New Delhi, India, on 12 May 2019. ReutersHonest, intelligent and open to new ideas is how officials of India’s main opposition Congress describe their leader, Rahul Gandhi, but the party’s election performance has been so poor he now risks losing even his family’s traditional seat.As vote-counting trends on Thursday showed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party winning 285 seats against just 53 for Congress, current and former party officials blamed a lacklustre campaign and a failure to overhaul its top team.”If they want to change anything, change the leadership,” said a Congress official in the western state of Rajasthan, referring to the old guard around Gandhi. “You need to give young people a chance.”He was among five current and three former party officials who told Reuters that Gandhi’s inability to jettison older leaders responsible for a major debacle in the 2014 general election and push forward newer, younger faces was a mistake.All eight sources sought anonymity.Gandhi’s office did not respond to a request from Reuters for an interview.Still, the 48-year-old Gandhi remains powerful within a party that has ruled India for most of its history since independence from Britain in 1947, and is unlikely to face a leadership challenge immediately.But Congress’s continued slide has raised questions both about its future and the role of his family.Younger Indians find it difficult to accept that Gandhi was appointed Congress president only because of his lineage as the son, grandson, and great-grandson of prime ministers, said prominent historian and columnist Ramachandra Guha.”The Congress should dump the Dynasty,” he said on Twitter.In May 2014, after Congress slumped to its worst performance in a general election, with 44 seats, Gandhi told reporters, “There’s a lot for us to think about, and, as vice president of the party, I hold myself responsible.”Five years on, his party has suffered a further drubbing at the hands of Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party and he was himself trailing in the family borough of Amethi in northern Uttar Pradesh, though he was leading in a second constituency from which he is contesting, in southern India.Congress also proved unable to effectively parry Modi’s campaign emphasis on national security, after aerial clashes and heightened tension with arch rival Pakistan following a suicide attack in disputed Kashmir that killed 40 Indian policemen.At the end of last year, Congress’s hopes of upsetting Modi had increased, after it won three heartland states in elections, largely driven by voter concerns about weak farm incomes and a lack of jobs.But Congress fumbled communications on key policies, with a publicity campaign this year that escaped the notice even of some of its own workers, and failed to forge pre-election alliances in key states, said the party officials who spoke to Reuters.The campaign was substantially delayed because of disagreements between 66-year-old Anand Sharma and other senior leaders, two party officials said.Sharma denied the accusation, saying that putting together the campaign was a complex process. “There was no delay whatsoever in the launch of Congress campaign,” he added.The campaign was launched on 7 April, just four days before the first round of voting began in a general election spread over seven phases across 39 days.In Rajasthan, which Congress won last year, its choice of 68-year-old Ashok Gehlot as chief minister, instead of 41-year-old Sachin Pilot, backfired, losing it the support of a key caste grouping, the official said, leaving the BJP likely to sweep all 25 seats.”College Of Sycophants”Gandhi was encircled by a “college of sycophants”, said a former Congress official who joined a rival bloc this year.”It doesn’t matter if you have talent or merit,” the former official said, adding, “What matters is you have the right family name or the right mentor.”In contrast to Modi, a tea vendor’s son who rose through party ranks, Gandhi’s lineage is a weakness the prime minister has repeatedly exploited.In Uttar Pradesh, which elects the bulk of India’s lawmakers, Congress this year drafted in Gandhi’s charismatic sister, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, to burnish its fortunes. But that made little difference to results.last_img